Dustmite Chapter One
Erin slid her headband into place and slipped her credentials around her neck. This was going to be an incredibly long day and she prayed that the air conditioning would last through it all. It had been an incredibly hot two weeks and their power usage was reaching a critically high level. Sighing, she stood and exited her office.
At least she had some help with her punishment. Shepperd had let her ask Ms. Garcia to help her out and the woman had been surprisingly agreeable. And yet, ever since the bank incident, she had been a mite friendlier. Though she really had showed her hand by dancing so much with Dave at Jennifer’s wedding. Their love affair was just beginning, and the last thing she needed was Ms. Garcia blabbing it around the office.
Climbing the stairs, she went over to her door and knocked three times. “Erin! You’re here already! I just got off a call from Alpha, they’re hitting a roadblock on this case. Oh, and Rossi told me to tell you to call him later.” She grinned at her and Erin just shook her head. “Oh, come on, you cannot deny that you two are totally making out behind our backs!”
Erin felt a deep blush stain her cheeks and Penelope giggled a little. “Are you ready to get to work, Ms. Garcia?”
“Penelope, please, and yes, I’m ready to help you out. Why did Shepperd make you do this again?”
“He caught Dave and me kissing in my office.”
“I thought I had erased all those tapes…”
Erin gaped at her. “You what?”
“Yeah, I always watch the tapes for us. That’s how I was able to get Reid and Seaver out of a spot of trouble. I swear, you all forget that there are cameras everywhere in this building. Well, except for the bathrooms and the basement. Speaking of that, do you think that Agent Mulder will be in his office? I’ve always wanted to meet him, but I’ve never had the chance.”
“We’ll see. I think he and Dr. Scully were heading out to see Director Skinner soon.”
“Ah.” They walked over to the elevators and waited for one to come. “Okay, look, I know you don’t really want to be stuck with me for the day, but I’m really glad that you asked me to help you out. I really want to get to know you better.”
She smiled a little wider at Penelope and shrugged her shoulders. “Who knows, we could end up being friends by the end of the day.” Reaching out, she laid a hand on the other woman’s shoulder. “I asked for you. I want to get to know you better, too. I hope you brought a hair tie, we’ll likely be getting a little sweaty down there. I’m not too certain that the air conditioning works in the basement.”
“I hope that it doesn’t. Usually I’m freezing. I’ve loved this summer so far.” The elevator doors opened and they stepped inside, pressing the down button. “Though I don’t envy the team any, being in Florida right now. The humidity there is worse than here, and I don’t think I could handle any more of that.”
There was something about the way she kept babbling on that Erin found adorable and cute, which was odd, given her recent preoccupation with David. She hadn’t been with a woman since her college days, and yet there was something about this younger woman that called to her. It looked like it was going to be a long day, indeed.
Getting off in the basement, she let Penelope lead them past Agent Mulder’s office. The door was open and she peeked in, looking around for the man. “Is he in there?” she asked, almost knowing what the answer would be.
“Actually, I am, Erin.” She smiled and joined Penelope in the office. “What are you doing down here? Has Shepperd finally banished you?”
“No, Mulder. I’m just going to spend today doing scut work for him. Guess who drew the organize the storage room straw?”
“Typical Shepperd. I’d stay and help you, but I have to pick up Dana from her class and then we’re flying out to see Walter. Have fun.” He stood and walked them over to the storage closet. “Have a nice day, ladies.”
“You, too, Agent Mulder,” Penelope said faintly, staring after him. Once he’d disappeared, she turned to Erin. “Thank you so much for the detour!” Impulsively, she hugged her and Erin returned the hug, trying not to think about the way her breasts felt against her own.
“We should probably get to work,” she murmured as she slid her credentials through the door lock, letting them in. She had been right about there being no good ventilation in the storage room, she could feel the temperature difference right away. Shutting the door, she leaned back, looking around at the chaos. “Remind me again why we don’t make it a policy that every time we take something out or put something in here that we organize as we go? I don’t think we’re going to get finished today.”
“Well, we’ll get as much done as we can. And our first goal is to make it to lunch. My treat at that little Cuban café down the street.”
Erin nodded and took a step forward. “So, should we work back to front or front to back?”
“Back to front. That way it will seem like we’re working towards the end.”
“All right, sounds like a plan.” They went to the back corner and began to work. “So, are things any better between you and Mr. Lynch?”
“Oh, you saw how awkward it was at the wedding. No, we’re still at an impasse. He found that other tech girl and she’s like a third of me. It was like a total blow to my self-esteem, since here she was, doing what I do and being so pretty and quirky and yet still fitting societal norms.” Erin heard the way her breath caught in her throat and looked over at Penelope.
“And yet you have Derek fawning all over you.”
“Only because we’re best friends. He was dating Emily, I guess, before she took off for Interpol. You know what really sucks? Before Kevin showed up with that, that, stick, I was fine with who I am. I didn’t need anyone to validate me. What happened to me?”
“Someone you loved hurt you and you weren’t ready to move on. Story of my life.” She flashed her ring-less left hand and smiled wryly. “The divorce was finalized while I was in rehab.”
“So, men seriously suck sometimes.”
“That they do.” They fell silent for a while as they worked and Erin heard the air conditioning sputter and then give out. “Really?”
“Well, I guess it will just make us work a tad bit faster.” Erin nodded and slipped off her cardigan, feeling a little self-conscious at wearing only her camisole and bra. “Cute cami, Erin. Where’d you get it?”
“Ann Taylor,” she answered, blushing a little. As she reached up to push a box back on the shelf, she caught Penelope checking her out and bit her tongue so as not to fire off a smart remark. Instead, she just stretched a little more, sticking out her chest, watching the other woman. She watched long enough to see Penelope lick her lips and she turned away, incredibly turned on by that small movement.
The air conditioning came back on and she sighed in relief. And then the worst thing that could ever happen, did. Everything died in the building, and they were plunged into a murky grey half-light as the windows had not been washed in some time. “That so did not just happen.”
“I think it did, Penelope.”
“We can’t get out of here. The doors are electronically sealed, and no power means no escape. We’re trapped in here until the power comes back on. Only Shepperd and Mulder knew we were down here and they took off for parts unknown.”