Going back to work wasn't a problem - I feel pretty good, and there are still leads to investigate involving the sub in the ice and what happened to the crew. What happened to me, and why I woke up feeling like a melted popscicle. As Scully reminded me -- more than once -- keeping me in a tub of ice saved my life.

No, Scully, I reminded her - you saved my life.

A slight difference of opinion.

I haven't seen her yet this morning, but I imagine she's somewhere in the building. She's still working on deciphering the results of the tests she ran on my blood. The only problem is, there's nothing to compare it to. She wasn't able to obtain samples from any of the other men who had been on that sub. They conveniently disappeared, along with a $1.5 billion dollar piece of military equipment. Big surprise.

I'm thinking of changing my name from Fox Mulder to David Copperfield, since most evidence of this type 'mysteriously' disappears whenever I try to get my hands on it.

So where was I? David Copperfield...Claudia Schiffer...oh yeah. I didn't realize the significance of the date until I stopped by the coffee cart on the corner to pick up coffee and a bagel on my way in. A small display of last-minute cards and a white bucket of individually catheterized long-stemmed red roses strategically placed in front of the Columbian Roast clued me in. Maybe it was a whim, or maybe I just didn't want to feel like a loser on Valentine's Day. Whatever the reason, I bought a flower.

She isn't my Valentine, she's my partner. We work together. She just happens to be a woman. But to say that makes her sound less than she is. She's an attractive woman. We don't...

We're not...

She's my partner. So I bought it for her. I gave her one last year - what's the big deal? Well, except for the intention behind the gesture. Last year, it was a spur-of-the-moment gift. It seemed like the thing to do. This rose was purchased specifically for her. Premeditated.

I'm having second thoughts.

Maybe it wasn't a good idea...crossing the line of professionalism, etcetera. Scully might not appreciate the gesture, or the spirit in which it's intended. She might read more into it. Not that I'd care if she thinks I find her attractive - I've given her more than enough indication for her to even question that. And if she were to...nevermind. The point is, I don't want her to get the impression that I don't respect her or value her contribution. To me, and to the X-Files. The truth is, I've come to depend on it.

She knows. She has to - I asked for her reassignment back on the X-Files. Would I have done that if I didn't need her help? If I didn't trust her? I traded my sister for her. Well, as it turns out, she wasn't really my sister, but that's not the point.

It's just a flower.

Or is it? A daisy is just a daisy, but a rose by any other name...why did I have to buy a red one? Why the hell didn't I ask for a nice pink one, or yellow...do yellow roses have significance to anyone outside of Texas?

Shit. Was that the elevator?

I wonder if I can hide it in my desk. The drawers are relatively full, and I know I need to clean out this desk sometime. But they're too small, unless I want to break the stem.

Maybe I could just stick it under the desk...

...or not. Too late, anyway. Maybe she won't notice it if I just leave it here on top.

"Hey, Scully," I blurt out, and it sounds too cheerful, even to my own ears.

"Good morning, Mulder," she replies, and looks right at the flower.

I've decided to ignore it, and hope she won't ask. Her eyebrow raises in question, then she looks right at me - a strange, pointed look that ends abruptly. She drops the gaze and her briefcase on one of the chairs opposite the desk. She sits in the other one, leaning back and exhaling slowly, and looking down her nose at me wearing an expression that appears slightly sour.

"So what did you find out?" I ask her, hoping for good news. Hell, any news.

"There's not much to tell. Whatever that virus was, the blood transfusion and anti-viral agents pretty much took care of it," she says.

"I know I feel fine if that is any indication. But there's still something in that blood sample of mine that indicates what type of virus it was, isn't there? Some way to identify the origin..."

She looks at me a moment, then reaches over to the chair beside her and flips her briefcase around, popping it open. There, on top of a stack of paper and a relatively thick file, I see a rose. A white rose. She pulls a paper out from under the flower and hands it to me.

Of course, I'm staring at the damn flower, trying to figure out who the hell gave it to her. Was it one of the guys in the forensic lab? That guy who's always looking at her with the big moonie eyes - Agent Pendrell? And why is it white? What the hell does that mean? Who gives white roses on Valentine's Day?

I find myself getting seriously irritated, and snatch the paper out of her hand. She looks surprised, just for a moment, then looks down at the rose on my desk, and her chin goes back up.

"There's nothing abnormal in your blood, Mulder. Your white cell count is normal, the fibrinogen functional assay and the fibrinogen antigen assay both prove negative. There is no evidence of dysfibrinogenemia."

Oh, the way that word dysfibrinogenemia rolls right off her tongue. "Nothing?" I ask. She shakes her head slowly from side to side. "So negative fibrinogens means you're looking at a one hundred percent certifiably safe partner?" I made sure to wag my eyebrows for effect. Scully glances quickly at the desk out the corner of her eyes, and that's when I finally get it.

She thinks someone gave the rose on my desk to me.

A chuckle rises up in my throat, but I tamp it down. There is, I remind myself, her temper, and a rose still sitting in her briefcase.

Nodding, I slide over to the keyboard and search the Internet for symbolism and color of roses.

"What are you doing?" Scully asks.

"Checking to see if Forensics turned up anything on the clothing I submitted to them," I lie. I already pulled up that report. It didn't say dick, just like her blood tests. But she doesn't need to know that.

"What is it you hope to find, Mulder?"

I shake my head. "I don't know. Something. Anything."

My search pulls up a list. Red means love or respect. I knew that. Deep pink means gratitude or appreciation. That's good. Light pink means admiration or sympathy. Yellow stands for friendship. White...white means innocence or secrecy.

Secrecy? Scully has a secret admirer? She is looking at her hands, and I take a good look at that rose sitting in her briefcase. Innocence. Hmmm...

I glance back over at Scully, and she is staring right at me. If I'm not mistaken, there's a slight gleam in her eyes.

"Did they find anything?" she asks. If I'm not mistaken, there is a feline grin behind her innocent question. And if I'm not mistaken, she's drawn the same conclusion I have. Busted. If that's the case, then I'm just gonna come out and ask.

"So, Scully, who's the lucky guy?" I push myself away from the computer and pick up the pen laying on my desk, clicking the point in and out of the casing.

She looks surprised again, and her eyes go wide. "What do you mean, Mulder?"

I realize my nervous habit, and point at her briefcase with my pen. "Did you know a white rose symbolizes innocence and secrecy?"

She shifts uncomfortably, and picks at something on her skirt. "Actually, Mulder, it means reverence and humility."

There is attitude coming off her, more than normal, and it is beginning to feel a little stuffy in here. I wait for her to say something else, but she doesn't.

"Anybody I know?" I ask, finally.

Her brow furrows. "Who do you think, Mulder?"

I shrug. "Agent Pendrell?"

With that, her expression changes again, and she looks annoyed. "You think I brought it for Agent Pendrell?"

"You didn't?"

Standing, she smoothes her skirt then reaches over and flips down the lid of her briefcase, her words punctuated by the sound of the latches clicking shut. "No, Mulder, I didn't."

Shit, now I've offended her, and that wasn't my intention at all. She grabs her briefcase and stands, so I grab the rose off my desk and stick it in her face before she can walk away.

"Happy Valentine's Day, Scully."

She stares at the rose, then at me. "Mulder," she says in a low tone, and it sounds like a warning. Not that it makes any difference to me.

"It's for you," I tell her, annoyed. "If you don't want it, that's fine. I'll give it to somebody else." Don't ask me who. As I watch her face, I start feeling like a world-class jerk. I didn't offend her, I hurt her feelings, which is so much worse. "I bought it for you," I add, softer.

She accepts the flower, looks at it a moment, then sits back down and opens the briefcase on her lap. She pulls out the white rose, sets the case aside on the other chair, and hands the flower to me.

"This one is for you, Mulder." Her expression is serious and solemn, but she doesn't look hurt anymore.

There is suddenly a lump in my throat at the gesture. Reverence and humility. Scully brought me a rose - a rose that symbolizes reverence and humility. And it shows a great deal more thought than grabbing a stem from the coffee cart.

"Happy Valentine's Day," she says, affection coloring her voice. I feel it as much as I detect it in her.

"We need water," I tell her, pushing away from the desk. There's an old coke from the McDonald's across the street sitting on top of the file cabinet, with melted ice on the bottom of the cup. So I stick it in the middle of the desk and put Scully's rose in, carefully trying to balance it so I don't tip the cup over. Scully grins at me, and puts my rose in there as well. Together, they balance the cup so it doesn't fall over. We both stare at the flowers, and then it turns slightly awkward, like something else needs to be said.

I turn to the computer.

"There's a report out of Fairfield, Iowa, that involves an invisible force tossing cars around-" I'm literally stunned speechless by what I read on the computer screen.

Red and white roses together symbolize unity.

"Mulder?" Scully says, concerned.

"Uh, yeah," I try to cover, closing the browser. "Later that day, road workers reported seeing the same phenomenon. The next day, forty-three miles away, an elephant appears out of nowhere and dies in the middle of the road..."

1994 • 1995 • 199619971998199920002001