Author: Froggy Frog and Miller
Willow entered the large office. A faint smell of subtle perfume lingered in the air - the red haired woman, no doubt. Skinner's strong aftershave was sharp and harsh by comparison.
"Agent McClay. Agent Rosenberg. Please take a seat."
The Assistant Director was standing next to his chair, staring out of the window behind his desk. Sunlight filtered through the blinds and left stripes of light and dark on his troubled face.
Willow sat in one of the two chairs opposite Skinner's desk, and watched carefully to see if her new colleague would be able take her seat without dropping her clipboard and papers. Agent McClay seated herself successfully, if not gracefully, and sat facing the desk, her head tilted slightly forward and her eyes fixed on Skinner's back. She reminded Willow of a scolded puppy.
Skinner let out a long sigh, then turned to look at the doorway for a few moments. He abruptly ended his contemplation and faced the two agents. He looked at them for a few seconds before sitting down. He reached for two folders and slid them across the desk to Willow and Agent McClay.
"Here is your assignment, agents," Skinner said. "A small town in upstate New York. Six homicides over the last five years. The victims mutilated. Evidence of witchcraft or other occult influences at each crime scene."
Willow took the two folders and handed one to McClay. Damn, she thought. Another boring foot-slogging homicide investigation. She pictured her nice big office, her desk and her comfortable chair. Then again, perhaps it wasn't hers anymore.
"Proceed to the location today. Make your report as soon as you have anything worthwhile reporting." The Assistant Director began writing something on a notepad. "Dismissed."
Willow looked at McClay, slightly surprised. She shrugged at her and stood up. McClay looked back at her, a baffled statement on her face, and stood up also.
"Good day, Sir," she said, coldly but politely. She started to walk to the door.
"Agents," said Skinner. Willow turned to face the Assistant Director. He'd removed his small glasses and was cleaning them with a white cloth.
"Sir?" Willow said.
Skinner sighed heavily. "I apologize for my rudeness. It's been a bad day for me, as well as yourselves," he said.
He replaced his glasses on the bridge of his slightly stubby nose.
"The agent who usually deals with these types of situations is... er... unavailable at the moment," he said. "And his partner..." Skinner's gaze went to the door, and his brow furrowed. "She is a little... preoccupied. So we're currently a little short-handed with cases of this kind... X-files, if you like."
Willow's ears pricked up. This was an X-file? Maybe this would be interesting after all.
"Anyway, good luck on your assignment, agents," Skinner continued. "I recently reviewed both of your FBI careers. I have every confidence in your abilities to solve this case."
"Thank you, S-sir," McClay said.
Willow made no comment. She left the Assistant Director's office, McClay following on her heels.
Willow stabbed the elevator button for the parking lot.
"Meet you at the airport, then. Say, in two hours?" Willow said.
"Yes. Um... Okay", Agent McClay said. She fiddled with her notes, then looked at Willow uncertainly. "Agent Rosenberg?"
"Mm?", Willow said.
"I m-might be a little late... um... I've things to sort out... At h-home, that is," McClay said.
"Boyfriend gonna be upset?" she said.
"Boyfriend? Oh, no," McClay said. "My, um... my k-kitty. Cat, that is. I have to take her to a um... friend's place... and I'm not sure she's home today."
"Your cat's not at home?" Willow asked.
"No. My friend," McClay said. "My friend might not be home."
"Oh, I see. Well, don't be too late. The quicker we leave, the quicker we'll get back," Willow said.
The doors opened and the elevator quickly filled with the smell of stale fuel and exhaust fumes.
"After you," Willow said.
"Oh... um... I have to catch the b-bus. I don't drive," McClay said.
Willow reached to push the ground floor button. She paused before pushing it.
"You wanna lift home, McClay?" Willow asked.
McClay's face lit up. She smiled gratefully at Willow.
"Yes please. Thank you v-very much," she said.
"No problem", Willow said, walking out of the elevator and into the car park. Agent McClay followed closely behind, clutching her notebooks to her chest.
Willow found her car and threw her case into the back seat. She sat in the driver's seat and sighed. She liked her car. It was a private place for her. Inside she felt she could relax the solemn, impassive fašade she developed for her life at the Bureau, and revisit the naive, quirky young girl she had been seven years ago, before she joined. She checked herself, however. She had a guest in her car, so she would maintain her work-Willow persona.
"Oh... Nice car", McClay said, climbing in to the passenger seat. "I like B-BMW's. If I could d-drive, I'd like a car just like this. A black one, too, I think"
"It's okay, I guess," Willow said.
She started the car and McClay jumped in surprise as the CD player blasted out a heavy metal track at full volume, shattering the silence of the car park.
Willow quickly turned the volume down.
"Ooops. I wonder how that happened," she said innocently. She knew very well she'd been singing at the top of her voice as she drove in to work this morning.
"It's okay. I like music," McClay said, a little loudly. Perhaps her ears were ringing slightly, Willow thought. "Um, I live near 43rd and Blake Avenue. You can drop me off anywhere near there, if you like," McClay said.
Willow winced. That was the opposite end of town to her apartment. Well, she had offered the lift, after all.
"Okay. That's fine. Buckle up!" Willow said, reversing out the parking spot and screeching her way out of the Bureau's car park as fast as she could drive.
She grinned wickedly as she saw the white-faced McClay frantically fumble with the seat belt.