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GAMES

DISCLAIMER:

The characters "Scully and Mulder" are the property of Chris Carter and have been used without permission. The game "Minesweeper" came off Windows and the name is used without permission. This story is copyright Amanda le Bas de Plumetot.

GAMES (AN INTERLUDE)

Scully stared at Mulder, she was a little jealous. She hated court cases because they invariably meant long hours of waiting, but Mulder had had the forethought to bring along his laptop. He opened it up and started keying something.

Scully wished she had brought along some work. "What are you working on, Mulder?"

"Huh?" whatever it was, he was engrossed.

She peered over his shoulder.The screen of his laptop showed a grid covered in little grey squares.

Mulder clicked on one of the squares and suddenly the whole thing turned into hundreds of little black spiky objects, one under nearly every square. The top bar of the grid read "Minesweeper".

Scully fluffed her partner's hair. "I thought you were working."

Mulder gazed blearily at her, "Can't be bothered," he said. It had been a long week.

"And here I was thinking you were superfed, after a week of twenty hour days, sitting down to a bit of solid paper work."

"Scully, I thought you'd known me long enough to realise masochism isn't one of my strong suits."

"I'm just jealous, Mulder, I'm bored and you've brought something to do."

Mulder snapped open his briefcase and rummaged around for a moment.

"If you think *I* want to do paperwork while you play games then think again..."

Mulder held up a deck of playing cards.

"Strip poker?" suggested Scully.

"Sounds great, but I'll have to take a raincheck on it. I *only* play strip poker when I've dressed in my black leather underwear. Besides, I want to play minesweeper. You can deal yourself a hand of solitaire." He dragged a coffee table over to her with his foot.

"Gee thanks," said Scully who sounded less than impressed. "Mulder, why do you carry around a deck of playing cards in your briefcase?"

"In case I come across a mystic and I feel an overwhelming urge to have my fortune told," he did not raise his head from the game to speak to her.

Scully did not continue the line of interrogation. She had a nasty feeling that Mulder was actually telling the truth about why he carried playing cards. She shuffled them clumsily, she didn't like solitaire very much. It reminded her of her childhood and rainy Sunday afternoons in towns where she knew no one. It reminded her of her social life, and too many Saturday evenings spent alone. She flicked the cards over, peering under the stacks and riffling through the deck in order to find the aces.

"Scully that's cheating!" Mulder stared accusingly at her.

"So?"

"So how can you play the game properly if you're cheating?"

"I wasn't exactly cheating, Mulder. I was just looking at where all the cards were so that I could make the best possible decision about my next move. What's wrong with that?"

"It's cheating Scully. You're supposed to not know where all of the cards are. That's the whole point of the game."

"I play to win Mulder, what's wrong with that?"

"You're not playing properly," he pouted. It offends my sensibilities."

"Oh, poor thing. So don't watch."

"I won't. I'm going to get something to eat. You want anything?"

"Coffee?"

"Coffee and sandwiches?"

She sighed, "Sounds good, Mulder," she hadn't had a decent meal for a long time, but coffee and sandwiches would do for now. At least the caffeine might help stop her from nodding off during the interminable process of waiting.

She flicked the cards into an untidy heap and stared off down the corridor where Mulder had gone. It was empty. She turned her attention to Mulder's laptop and began fiddling with the game. It was simple enough, the grid covered a number of "mines" which had to be located and flagged. Squares adjacent to the mines contained a number indicating how many mines were around each square. It was a game of deduction, how to find the mines.

Scully moved the cursor and the field immediately filled with little mines, indicating that the game was over, she had uncovered a mine and blown herself up.

She stared in disbelief at the field of mines. The grid covered 720 squares, and all but 667 of them contained a mine. She memorised a couple of the grid references of spots where there were no mines, and started the game up again. This time when she clicked on a spot that had previously been empty, it uncovered a mine. The pattern uncovered itself to reveal a different layout of mines in this game. It would have been impossible to win the game by any means but outrageous luck.

Scully looked down the corridor again. She could see Mulder coming towards her, his long form in silhouette, unfathomably black with the light behind him. And Scully decided it was a good metaphor. Mulder himself was unfathomable, she couldn't imagine why he would bother to play a game with the odds stacked so completely against himself.

the end

*:)

amanda