Title: Territory Protected
Author: XScout
Rating: PG
Classification: V
Spoilers: Squeeze
Summary: In joining the X-Files, I was encompassed into a territory that was protected by trust. Disclaimer: No one is mine but my cat. All money (of which there is none) goes to CC, 10-13, Fox, and the middle men.

Author's Notes: Not much to say. Just please give me a holler with any notes of encouragement. Disuasion may be sent as well but I'll probably just ignore it. XScout@hotmail.com


Territory Protected


I don't think I'll ever be able to go into my bathroom again.

Well, almost having your liver ripped out by some slimy mutant in the most private room in the house just may affect you slightly. It didn't occur to me until later, after Eugene Tooms was taken away by the authorities, but I'm really glad he attacked me *before* I took off my clothes. Yes, it seems like an inane thought, but not if you imagine what would have happened when Mulder showed up. Oh, I'm sure he'd be the perfect gentleman; he's already seen me in my underwear and hardly blinked an eye. Sometimes I wonder if he even notices I'm female.

Then other times...

Who knows? I certainly notice him. Kinda hard not to, especially when he's two inches from my face. That's something I realized the very first day I worked with him - Mulder has no sense of personal boundaries. He has been leaning close to me, placing his hand on my back or arm, and fingering my clothes or hair since that first case. At first the term 'sexual harassment' crossed my mind but then I realized it had nothing to do with him finding me attractive. Damn. Not that I would respond to any come-ons, I am too professional for that, but... damn. Anyway, I recognized some of Mulder's actions as those of a man brought up with genteel manners. He holds doors open and ushers others through first with a light touch, as any gentleman would. Other times he comes close to try and disconcert me. I know he didn't want another partner and he was trying to scare me off with the 'Spooky' act, invading my personal space so as to provoke me into leaving. Of course understanding that just made me even more determined to stay. It's my stubborn Irish streak. And just the other day yet another facet of reasoning behind his ignorance of distance etiquette was revealed to me.

He's protective of me.

I'm equal parts offended and flattered. Offended because it implies that I can't take care of myself. Oh, the poor little woman needs protection from the big scary world. Whatever. Flattered because it shows that my stubborn refusal to leave has earned me his trust and along with that comes his concern over my well being. I know how hard it is for him to trust anyone, I can see it in how he acts around others, how he shies away from any kind of relationship that might seem remotely dependent. I don't know what happened to him but something or someone must have made him lose his ability to trust. It's more than just the loss of his sister; it is almost as though he has a phobia of any relationship that requires him to care too much. I feel honored that I am one of the select few whom he allows into his inner circle. This revelation came to me when he stopped me in the hallway after reviewing Tooms' polygraph test and tugged on my necklace as he told me he would understand if I wanted to work with Colton.

Oh, those eyes of his. His lips were saying one thing but his eyes were saying another. One telling me to do what was best for my career and the other begging me to stay with him at the bottom of the totem pole. I don't regret the choice I made. It was quite amusing to see Colton at that fourth crime scene bristling at the sight of Mulder. It's like one alpha male protecting his territory from some loner who's just arrived. That's what it all comes down to in the end - territory.

Colton considered anything related to the Tooms case to be *his* territory. Anything Mulder had to offer was dismissed because not only was Mulder like the unwanted omega wolf, he was a challenge to Colton's authority. Mulder has way more experience in the field than Tom; it was obvious in the way they each canvassed the crime scene. Colton searches only on the surface, waiting for the clues to simply appear. Mulder uses all five senses to feel his way to the clues; soaking in the very atmosphere and letting it carry him to the evidence. I hope I'll be able to do the same someday but I will need much more practice. I have a feeling I'll be getting plenty of it as long as I'm partnered with Mulder. But after all is said and done, the plain and simple fact is that Colton is jealous of Mulder and wanted to show him up.

Back to my ruminations on territory. Mulder feels that I am *his* territory and so he has every right to challenge Colton for my... attention, shall we say. This is where the flattered versus offended comes in. It also goes a long way to explain why he feels he can get so close to me without any sense of impropriety. I will admit that it is still a bit disconcerting but I'm getting used to it and I'm certainly not going to complain. He has a right to call the X-Files his, as he is the one who created an actual department based on them and it is his passion. I have joined him in his own little world and so, have become a part of it. It took him a while to accept me but once he did, he certainly didn't hold back the way he used to. Sure, he still has a tendency to leave some explanations out or go off half-cocked about something that only he can see, but he doesn't actively try to keep me on a leash or ignore my suggestions. I think his possessiveness might also result from the fear that I might decide to leave the X-Files, and therefore him, for a more mainstream position. That would be a slap in the face, after he let me in and gave me his trust. I could never do that to him.

The more I think about it, the more it makes sense that everyone reacts to things in regards to their relationship to the territory perceived by each individual. Even Tooms has a sense of territory. We are all animals to him, little more than livestock there for him to feed on. Exeter Street and its surrounding area was his hunting ground and he felt he had a right to anything within its boundaries. He went out of those boundaries when he attacked me and that was a big mistake. In comes my own personal alpha male, hackles raised and teeth bared. He saved my life tonight and I have no doubt that he will do it again. Of course, I'll have to save him a few times to make sure we're not being sexist. I too have my territoriality. I'm beginning to think of the X-Files as mine. Oh, they are still mainly Mulder's, but I have a toe in the door and I intend to get all the way through.

I glance at the figure nestled on my couch, his long legs dangling over one of the arms. He refused to go home after the police left, insisted that I shouldn't be alone after being attacked. Other than my reluctance to go into the bathroom I don't think I've been traumatized, but who knows? The man is a doctor of psychology so I'll take his word for it. Besides, I do feel better knowing he's there. I have a feeling that after tonight, my apartment will have been encompassed into Mulder's territory and he'll be spending more than one night on that couch. Yes, the other agents will talk, but there's nothing I can do about it. Male and female partners will always be talked about eventually, no matter how chaste and professionally they conduct themselves.

Besides, there is no shame in one partner protecting the other, that's what they're for. I look at him on the couch and I can't help feeling a sense of pride that he is my partner, someone I can always count on to be there through the good times and the bad. A quiet mumble emits from his sleeping form, something sounding vaguely like my name. It seems he even dreams about protecting his territory. I suppose I really should be offended. A tiny smile plays at my lips.

But I'm not.