It was a year ago that it happened. I remember exactly because it was just after the Christmas break. I used up my leave going to Florida with Marty and the kids twice last summer, so I had to come in on the twenty-seventh. To be honest with you it was kind of a relief. If I'd stayed in that house one more day that 'Tickle Me Elmo' would have gone in the blender with what was left of the turkey. I had a lot to catch up on anyway. You know what it's like before Christmas. The boss's secretary gets invited to most of the parties he does and quite a few of the ones he doesn't. So, the work had piled up in my in-tray and I was looking forward to getting in and just working my way through it all, no interruptions. But what do you know, when I turned up at nine-thirty the office was unlocked and you were in as well. Normally it wouldn't surprise me that much that you were working through your vacation - like I keep telling you, you work much too hard. But this Christmas you'd told me you were headed up to Maine until the New Year. A old army buddy of yours had a cabin up there, you said, and he'd organised some kind of reunion. It sounded like you were really looking forward to it, so whatever pulled you back down to Washington must have been pretty serious. And as soon as I heard the voices, I knew the reason. Two words. Fox Mulder.
Mulder had been looking tired. I knew he had a lot of family problems. I heard that Agent Scully was sick too and I was sorry he was having such a hard time, because for all the problems he causes you, Mulder really is kind of cute. He bought me a card and a present that year. Ok, so most people did. Keeping on the good side of the boss's secretary must be the first thing they tell them here after where the bathrooms are. Every December I can look forward to a pile of generic secretary gifts. Chocolates mostly, from the men. Thanks guys. A few extra pounds around the hips really come in handy this time of year. Mulder bought me a framed Dilbert cartoon and a card that said Happy Hanukkah. I'm not Jewish and I don't think he is either, but it stood out nicely from the parade of tasteful foil robins. When I asked him why, he said that everyone sent Christmas cards and he thought it'd make a nice change. Like I said, cute. Weird, but very cute. If I wasn't a happily married woman... but then I am, so I guess it's my motherly instincts Mulder appeals to. At least that's what I'm going to swear if Marty ever asks.
But anyway, I was worried what sort of trouble he'd gotten himself into this time. If it was bad enough to pull you back to Washington on December 27th it had to be pretty bad. It was tempting to switch on the intercom and listen in, but of course I didn't. I didn't really have to. Voices were being raised in there. Whatever it was about, it sounded like a real shouting match, although I couldn't quite make it out. Well anyway, I guess the two of you thought you had the corridor to yourselves, which was pretty close. I don't know about the field agents but you don't see a lot of admin people turning up again before January 2. So I listened with half an ear and opened the mail and started typing up the departmental business plan which I'd been putting off for a while, and that's when I heard the noises - furniture being knocked, a chair being moved back too quickly, something falling off the desk. I know Mulder attacked you once before, but those were special circumstances and the watchword of a good secretary is discretion, so I opened the door just a crack to see whether you wanted Mulder out - in which case I'd call security, or whether you'd taken matters into your own hands - in which case it was probably going to be a job for the paramedics. It wasn't either. The two of you hadn't come to blows, not quite. You were standing facing Mulder, gripping his upper arms, glasses off, as angry as I'd ever seen you. Your face was flushed; Mulder was absolutely white. Neither of you had any idea I was there.
'What exactly is it that you want from me?' I heard you say, in tones of low menace. A growl, almost.
'Sir, believe me, you don't want to know,' Mulder said in a shaky voice.
'Oh yes I do, Mulder,' you grated. 'You'd better believe I do.'
And that's when it happened. Mulder raised his head and tentatively touched his mouth to yours. I stood there frozen. So did you. And while you did, Mulder kissed you lightly again, then again, much harder, as if something out of his control was drawing his mouth back to yours. All I could think was that I wouldn't have guessed, not in a million years.
Then he moved back and looked down, away from your face, which was pretty pale too by now, and said, so quietly I could barely hear him, 'I'm sorry. I didn't mean for that to happen, sir. I'll have my resignation on your desk by the morning.'
It was the voice of a man who knew he'd finally crossed the line. It was pretty obvious he didn't think he had a hope in hell. You didn't say anything, just stood there and stared at him as if he'd just confessed to shooting JFK. He tried to pull away, but you wouldn't let him. For a moment I thought I was going to have to call security anyway, before you killed him.
But you just said, 'Mulder, what the hell is going on?'
You sounded so confused and uncertain, but at least all the anger was gone from your voice and I knew that nobody was going to kill anyone, which was kind of a relief because for a couple of moments it seemed like it was touch and go.
'I'm sorry,' Mulder said again. 'I'll go. I'd better leave..'
You both looked as though you were in a play where you'd forgotten your lines. I don't think either of you had any idea what to do next.
'Mulder, you are not just walking out of here,' you said in a low voice. 'I want an explanation for what just happened.'
'I don't have one, sir. Not this time.'
'Mulder, if you don't tell me why you just did that I'm going to assume you're an alien shapeshifter and stab you in the back of the neck with my paperknife.'
'Sense of humour. That's good, sir,' Mulder said shakily.
'You're assuming I'm joking, Agent Mulder.'
He shuddered in your arms then, and I don't know why or where it came from, but it seemed to break the spell that held you both there. You made an incoherent noise and pulled him to you, hard. The last thing I saw before I closed the door was you kissing him like it was going out of fashion, one hand around his back, the other tangled in his hair.
Like I said, the watchword of a good secretary is discretion, so I switched my PC off, put my coat on and left you both to it. Took me the rest of the drive home to wipe the grin off my face. Call me old fashioned, but I thought it was kind of romantic. The age old story - boss meets agent, boss and agent irritate the hell out of each other, agent falls in love with boss, boss falls in love with agent. Ok, so it's not going to appear as a Harlequin romance anytime soon but I still think it's sweet.
The year since then has been... interesting. You found out pretty quickly that I knew, because I told you. It was easier in the long run, and it meant that you had at least one person in the office you knew you could trust. We had our discussion on a cold February afternoon, when I met you walking back from lunch. I wouldn't have said anything except that that morning you'd had an unexpected visitor. You know who I mean. The guy who hasn't worked out how to use the ashtrays yet. He'd come within about a minute of walking in on you both - if I hadn't been in early he'd have walked straight into your office, which really wouldn't have been a good idea. As it was I managed to stall him but it was a close thing.
'Sir, you need to let me know when you can't be disturbed and when you really, really *can't* be disturbed,' I said.
'I see,' you said. The light reflected coldly from your glasses. You looked nervous. No, terrified. 'Do you want to explain precisely what you mean by that, Kim?'
I said reassuringly: 'Just that I appreciate that some of your meetings are more... confidential than others, Mr Skinner.'
The little pause I left before the word 'confidential' told you everything you needed to know. You nodded and started to rub your forehead the way you do when you have a really bad headache. I felt a swell of sympathetic concern. Yeah. I know. This was all you needed.
'Sir,' I said softly. 'I've been your secretary for six years.'
'Your point, Kim?'
'You can trust me. That's all, sir.'
'May I ask how you found out, Kim?'
'A girl puts two and two together, sir.' Even if I hadn't been there on December 27, I'd have worked it out by now. The mornings when I came in and found all the office windows open and the place smelling of air freshener. The mornings when you both came in late, both around the same time. The look on Mulder's face sometimes when he left your office. The first few times I didn't even recognise it on him. The stunned face of a guy who couldn't believe his luck. He had it almost as bad as you did.
'Are the nature of my confidential meetings with Agent Mulder general knowledge, Kim?'
'Sir, you can trust me with this.'
You didn't say anything for a long time, just looked at me uncertainly. Then you looked down.
'Nothing's ever been like this, Kim,' you said, and there was a vulnerability about you I'd never seen before.
'I know, sir,' I said. 'And I can help. But we have to be careful.'
And we've been careful, well at least I've done my part. I had the office swept for bugs every couple of weeks. Mulder's too. I know you go there with him sometimes, when Agent Scully isn't around. Lina in reception owed me a couple of favours so I asked her to get her people to call me whenever certain people turned up, no matter what they were here for or who they'd come to see. No names, but you know who I mean. There were other things. Hotel reservations, flights booked in my name, the usual. It was a hassle organising it all, it still is, but it's worth it because you're both so happy and a happy boss is a good boss to work for.
I almost blew it once when I kind of assumed that Agent Scully knew what was going on. That's today's confession. You know she found out? That was me. There was some kind of crisis and she turned up about ten minutes after Mulder did, obviously pretty worried that someone was going to walk in on the two of you and whatever you had hidden away in there. She was hanging around in outside your office, looking kind of worried, waiting for Mulder to come out, glancing nervously up and down the corridor. You hadn't told me that this was one of *really* confidential meetings, and I guess I jumped to the wrong conclusion about why she was there and what she was worried about.
'Don't worry, Agent Scully,' I said. 'They really are just discussing case files in there.'
'What else would they be doing?' Scully snapped, a little too quickly. Whatever it was Mulder had brought in with him, it was obviously some big secret. I just assumed that she thought *I* didn't know, so I just gave her a knowing look.
'You can relax, Agent Scully. You know I'm not going to let anyone walk in on them.'
She looked at me and blinked. 'Kim, are we talking about what I think we're talking about?' she said, in a calm little voice.
I could have kicked myself. She didn't know? Damn! And how could Mulder not have told her, that was my second thought. I tried to cover it. Gave a little frown of puzzlement.
'Agent Scully, I'm not sure what you mean.'
It didn't work. Now she'd put two and two together as well. I could see the sudden, stunned realisation in her eyes, together with the certainty the Mulder was going to catch hell for this.
'Kim, I think we should have lunch together very soon,' Scully said.
I sighed. No point in fighting it, and I was pretty sure she'd be on your side when she'd finished beating Mulder up about it. I nodded resignedly. 'Today, Agent Scully?'
'Today I have to have a long, long talk with Agent Mulder,' Scully said, and her eyes grew steely.
So that was my fault. Sorry, but she'd have found out sooner or later. Otherwise, I think we've kept it pretty much under wraps. Maybe some of the other secretaries suspect, but I don't think any of the other agents have a clue. We'll try and keep it that way, Scully and I, because a happy partner is almost as good as a happy boss, probably better in Mulder's case, and I think you're both happy, although to be honest it's sometimes hard to tell.
This Christmas I got an Easter card from Agent Mulder. When I asked him why he said he thought he'd better get in early to beat the rush. You have a new tie which isn't your usual style at all but which you wear a lot. I hear Agent Mulder wears a plain gold ring on a chain around his neck now. I just hope to God you didn't have it engraved with anything, what with the number of times Agent Mulder gets himself arrested, kidnapped, shot, beaten up, quarantined and hospitalised. You're both taking more of your leave than you ever did before - a whole week and a half off this Christmas, right through from December 24 to the New Year. Supposedly you're up with your buddies in Maine again, and Mulder's spending some time with his mother in Chilmark. I know different, but then I booked the cabin. Washington State is kind of cold this time of year and the place you picked is pretty remote, but I don't suppose either of you is planning on going out much. I worry about you both. A good boss is hard to come by, and Agent Mulder is weird but very cute.
So, to come to the point, happy anniversary. It's December 27 again, and I'm back in the office but this time I'm most definitely on my own in here. I'm amazed the two of you lasted the year, but I'm glad all the same. Oh, and there's something else I need to tell you. Bad news, I'm afraid. You know that conference you're both booked into in January? I'm afraid there was a mix up with the hotel bookings. Seems like it was my fault, but by the time I called them to sort it out there was only a twin room left. I guess you guys'll just have to make do. You'll manage somehow. If it helps, just think of it as my anniversary present.