Staying Late
by Maidenjedi

The phone rang about six or seven times before going to voice mail. "You've reached the office of Agents Jeffrey Spender and Diana Fowley. We are unable to take your call at this time. Please leave a message, or you can reach us by cell phone at...."

She kept trying. It was late, after nine in the evening. She was still sitting at her desk, the only assistant in the building whose boss kept her from going home on a Friday night. All because of a missing agent and her barely competent partner.

Assistant Director Kersh was looking for Agent Spender, and had a bee up his ass about the report that Agent Fowley had flown the coop. Guess who got stuck hunting him down when no one answered the phone?

She was starting to get pissed off. The elevator wasn't working, so she had to walk down four flights of stairs. Good thing she was in shape, she thought. She'd have to lose her heels for the trek back up.

She remembered the first stories she'd heard about this office when she was hired. Spooky Mulder and his partner, solving unexplained cases that no one else wanted. Ghosts and boogeymen and aliens.

She'd always been glad she didn't have to cross paths with Mulder or his partner, Scully. She didn't like people who operated outside the mainstream. There was something wrong with a person who didn't accept things at face value.

Damn basement office. Smelled like mildew and ash.

And cigarette smoke?

Now she really was pissed.

"Agent Spender! You know there is no smoking allowed in this building!" Under her breath, "Not even for you fucking basement rats."

She didn't like the rogue agents who walked past her desk, often summoned by A.D. Kersh, more often just wanting to pick a fight. I don't like this assignment, whine whine whine. She thought they should consider themselves lucky.

"Agent Spender?" She knocked on the door.

Lucky because they got field assignments and weren't stuck answering phones for the most humorless man in the federal government. Lucky because they didn't have to read their own reports. She thought of the last one to cross her desk, signed by Agents Mulder and Scully. Such crap. Assistant Director Skinner had been infected by some kind of electronic bugs.

Uh-huh. And the sky was falling, and the world was ending, and yadda yadda yadda.

No answer at the door.

Knocking again. "Agent Spender!"


She tried the handle. The door wasn't even shut all the way. The air that rushed out reeked, and she recalled a time she'd joined Agent Colton out at the firing range. The air there had this same smell.

Without, of course, the hint of blood.

On the floor in front of the desk, Jeffrey Spender lay sprawled out, a gunshot wound to the face.

Blood was everywhere.

No weapon.

She took all this in. Hitched a breath or two.

When the body on the ground moaned, she screamed.


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