Unexpected Witness

by Fox Mulder <Priest_of_nothing@excite.com>

Okay, folks, here's another one. . . *************************************************************************************************** "I really have to hand it to you two."

I glanced over at Scully from the corner of my left eye, _c_o_c_k_ed an eyebrow, and then returned my gaze to our Assistant Director. Walter Skinner was shuffling through the sixteen-page case report we'd handed in that morning - the report that marked the closure of a three-month, grueling investigation - and I was fairly certain that, for once, we'd covered all the bases.

"This is good work, Agents," Skinner said, looking from me to Scully and then back down at the folder, which he promptly closed with a snap. "It's been a long, hard road. You two comported yourselves in an exemplary manner."

"Thank you, sir."

"I will, of course, be forwarding this report straight through the board, so as far as you're concerned, case closed. I don't plan on seeing you in the building again until Monday. Dismissed."

Scully stood up with her usual grace; I, on the other hand, was exhausted and pretty well done in - too much work and too little sleep, and too much dancing with local law enforcement, unwilling witnesses, and just a *bit* of unorthodox procedure. . . I was looking forward to packing it in for the weekend and holing up at home. Maybe I'd snag Scully for a cup of coffee. . .

"Agent Mulder," Skinner said suddenly to my back, "stay put a minute."

I turned, eyebrows raised, to look at him - Scully had also paused near the doorway, her face drawn down into a mask of concern. "Sir?"

"You're dismissed, Agent Scully," Skinner said quietly. "I need to have a word or two with Agent Mulder."

My stomach went cold.

"Yes sir," Scully replied, lifting her eyebrows at me and then leaving the room.

The door swung shut.

"Sir?" I asked, my voice not quite steady. "Is there something. . .?

"Sit down, Agent Mulder."

I sat.

Skinner leaned forward over his desk, took a deep breath, and looked at me. "What the hell have you been doing, Agent Mulder?"

"Sir. . .?" I shook my head. What the hell was he talking about?

"Four *thousand* dollars on your expense account. Pulling rank on the local P. D. *Falsifying credentials*??"

"Sir," I began evenly, but my hands were trembling. "Scully and I-"

"Leave Agent Scully out of this," Skinner snapped. "As far as I'm concerned she was the only professional aspect of this entire investigation."

"You said-"

"Yes, Mulder. The two of you wrapped up the case. And you did it quite well, I must say. The press is having a field day and you made the Bureau look _d_a_m_n_ed good. But *I* have to pass this through the Director's office, and there have been no less than *four* complaints about your behavior on this case. Not Agent Scully's. *Yours*. If they reach his office he'll go through the roof, Mulder. He'll be terrified that *those* details will hit the papers. And then what?"

I simply sat there silently. I did *not* like the way this discussion was going at all. And how the hell had Skinner found out about those things? I mean, after all, it had only been a slight stretching of authority. . .

"You can't ever seem to do anything without doing it your way, can you, Mulder?"

"Sir," I tried again, "Let me-"

"I think that you don't have anything to say on the matter, Agent Mulder," Skinner said coldly. He reached for the intercom buzzer on his desk. "Yes. Please hold my calls. . . about twenty minutes. No, tell him to wait. That's right." He looked at me.

I felt my color draining. I started to rise from the chair. "Sir, I'm sure that in light of the resolution of this case, the Director's office will be. . ."

"Stay put, Mulder, and don't talk." He himself stood up behind the desk. "I seem to recall that you and I had reached an agreement about your behavior not that long ago, hadn't we? At the time you were very vocal in your claim that you would be *very* careful about not stepping over the line again."

"Sir. . ."

"I think you need a refresher course in Bureau protocol, Mulder, before you blow the FBI - and me - completely to hell. Do you want to drag Scully down with you? Make her lose her job?"

I hung my head. No, I didn't. Not Scully.

I heard the sound of a desk drawer being opened and closed. There was a mild, flat *slap*!

"That's the acclaimed and esteemed "book", Agent Mulder," Skinner said, his voice little more than a growl. "I'm sure you remember it from the days before you started using it as a beer coaster. I think you ought to reread the section on the chain of command and remember a few choice passages for when I call you in for a review tomorrow morning. Are we clear?"

If my face was as hot as it felt, you could have fried burgers on it. "Yessir," I muttered.

"Good." Skinner rolled up his sleeves. "Stand up, Agent Mulder."

"Sir. . ."

"On your feet!"

There was enough of the military bark in the A. D.'s tone to make me scramble out of the chair and stand in front of the desk, almost at attention. When I raised my head again, Skinner held something in his hands - something that looked like a large, thick, black strap with a handle. My guts scrambled into the visceral equivalent of ice water right about then. *Oh Jesus, Mulder,* I thought desperately, *For Chrissakes, not again.*

Skinner saw me looking. "I found this in my attic last week. It's what they used on us in the service - and believe me, it worked. A trip or two to your commanding officer's station with this thing and you were on the straight and narrow." He looked me in the eyes. "I told you last time, Mulder, that I wasn't going to hesitate to discipline you again if you got way out of line. Do you remember that?"

"Yessir," I mumbled at the floor.

"I *also* told you that I thought, as far as you were concerned, it beat a trip to the OPR review board and a suspension or dismissal from your position. At the time, you agreed. Do you still?"

"Yessir," I almost moaned.

"I am of the opinion that it works on you, Mulder. It embarasses the hell out of you, but it works. You need that. You need to be reminded that you have limits before you _f_u_c_k_ things up for yourself *and* your partner. Are we clear?"


"And you realize the things you've done during your assignment that deserve this kind of correction?"

"Yes, sir." I made a mental inventory. But Jesus

"Good." Skinner walked around the desk behind me and sighed. "I hate having to do this to you, Agent Mulder."

*Could have fooled me,* I thought bitterly as I slipped out of my jacket and hung it on the chair. So much for a neat resolution and a relaxing weekend. _d_a_m_n_ it!

"This time, we're going to make sure you learn the lesson," Skinner said, more resolutely than I was comfortable with. "Drop your pants and bend over the desk, Mulder."

With my eyes almost screwed shut I unzipped my dress slacks and they slid to my ankles. "Oh _s_h_i_t_," I muttered under my breath, "Oh god _d_a_m_n_ it."

I leaned over, grabbing the opposite edge of the desk.

"All right, Mulder," Skinner said, drawing a breath. "This is the way it works. Until I tell you to stop, you're going to count the strokes. And in order to make sure you've grasped the concept of exactly *who* is in charge here, you're going to begin and end every count with 'sir'. Is that clear?"

"Yessir." More of a sigh than an answer; I clenched my teeth and shut my eyes.

"Are you ready for your correction, Agent Mulder?"

"Yessir." This was rote, too - he'd drilled it into me last time. "I deserve a correction, sir." My face was flaming and if I could have died right then, I'd've been _d_a_m_n_ed glad to go.

"Good. Then we can begin."


I jumped at the first crack of the heavy leather paddle across my ass. It stung exponentially worse than his bare hand had. . .

"I'm waiting, Mulder."

"Sir," I muttered, "One, sir."

WHACK! "Sir, two, sir."

WHACK! "Sir, three, sir."

WHACK! I moaned, squirming a little. "Please, sir-"




"All right, all right!" I almost shrieked. My ass was on fire. "God-please-four, sir, four."

CRACK! "Now, Mulder-"


CRACK! "-repeat after me."


CRACK! "I will uphold-"


CRACK! "I. . ." I muttered, "I-I will uphold. . ."

WHACK! I could feel tears filling my eyes. The parts of my backside that weren't numb already were flaming; each stroke burned like I couldn't believe. I found myself praying for it to be over, soon, now, please.

CRACK! "The policies and protocol of the FBI."


CRACK! "T-the p-p-p. . . policies. . ." I couldn't do it. "Please, sir, stop, please, I get the point, I'm sorry!"

WHACK! I yelped as the hardest welt yet blazed across my butt.

"Do you want me to-"


"- take down these boxers-"


"- and strap your bare backside, Agent Mulder?"

"No, *sir*!" I wailed, the tears now spilling. I couldn't help it. I thrashed and squirmed, but Skinner had one hand in the small of my back and wouldn't let me go.

"I'm waiting."


"The p-policies and p-pro-protocol of the FBI." I put my head down against the smooth wood of the desk. "Please stop, sir, please. . ."

WHACK! "I'm tired of-"

CRACK! "-having to do this-"

WHACK! "-and you're _d_a_m_n_ed well-"

"I'm sorry, sir, but if I could-"

Everything froze.

I would have known that voice anywhere.

With a half-sob, half wail I buried my head in my arms, convinced that if I ever showed my face in public again it wouldn't be for a long, long time. I wished for a gun, a razor blade, _f_u_c_k_, even a vial of cyanide. Anything would do.

"Shut the door, Agent Scully," Skinner said coolly.

I heard it click.

I could just see it from her point of view, as the three of us stood frozen in tableau - me bent over the A. D.'s desk, my pants around my ankles, my thighs and lower asscheeks probably blazing red, my face dripping with tears and sweat; Skinner standing behind me like a drill instructor or a pissed-off father, that god_d_a_m_n_ed paddle in one hand. Oh, Christ. How could I ever face her again?

"Agent Mulder and I are having a small discussion about his irresponsible behavior on this case," Skinner said, his voice never losing that careful, even tone. "It's a discussion we've had before, and one that seems to be rather efficient in reaching your partner, I think. We are in agreement that it is better for Agent Mulder's career than a trip to the OPR review board. Do you have any objections, Agent Scully?"

Dead silence.

*Say yes,* I thought desperately, wriggling a little, wanting to rub the stinging out of my ass, knowing it wasn't over. Say *something*.

"No, sir," Scully said quietly. Her voice was bland, almost a whisper.

"Good," Skinner said.


"In fact," Skinner went on, "I think that having you here to witness Agent Mulder's correction might make it an even more effective lesson."

*Witness. ..?*

"No way!" I yelled, twisting and struggling under Skinner's grip. "Sir, this is where I draw the line, not in front of Scully, please, let's be r-"

"That is *it*, Agent Mulder!" Skinner shouted, turning his attention to me again. "That is *enough*! I'm sick of you thinking *you* can give everyone *else* orders around here! I *warned* you what would happen if you mouthed off again!"

And - holding me down with one hand - he yanked my boxer shorts down to my knees, leaving my bare ass raised above his desk.

Then he laid into me again.

Harder than before.






CRACK! "Do you-"

WHACK! "-*get* it now, Agent Mulder?"


"Please," I muttered, trying hard - so hard - to be stoic in front of Scully. I didn't want to imagine her face. She'd seen me shot and dying, mangled, broken. . . but already I could feel the tears welling again. Christ!



"Please, sir," I moaned, "Please, no more."

"Mulder," Scully said softly, "I wouldn't say any more if I were you."

I shut my eyes in horror.

Nothing could be worse than this.



WHACK! Skinner laid the paddle across my ass over and over again, turning the bare flesh to something like fire. I held onto the edge of the desk until my knuckles were white, tears coursing down my face, squirming every time the leather creased my butt.


WHACK! "Am I getting through to you yet, Mulder?"

CRACK! "Yes sir, yes sir!!"

WHACK! "And you realize that this-"

CRACK! "-will be a joke compared-"

WHACK! "-to the hiding I'll give you-"

CRACK! "-if you don't cool it with the bull_s_h_i_t_?"

WHACK! "Sir, yes sir!" I'd all but forgotten about Scully; I'd all but forgotten everything except the fact that I wouldn't be sitting down for a week.

CRACK! "And I expect those passages memorized."

WHACK! "Yessir!" I wailed.

CRACK! "Good."

And just like that, it was over.

I heard Skinner toss the paddle back into the desk drawer and let out a breath - I stayed where I was, sobbing, not caring about the way I looked or the way I sounded. It went on that way for a moment or two, and then Skinner said, "I have some files to pass on to the personnel office. I'll be gone about five or ten minutes. I expect to find this office empty when I get back."

"Yes, sir." That was Scully; still calm.

A pause. "Oh, and Agent Scully - I would appreciate it if from now on you saw fit to knock before re-entering my office. Is that clear?"

"Yes, sir. I apologize."

I heard the click of the latch.

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