Foreign and Domestic
by Maureen S. O'Brien
DISCLAIMER: Mulder, Scully and the usual UNSUBs belong to Chris Carter
and 10-13. Certain other agents belong to Shoot the Moon Productions.
Heh, heh.... That's _Scarecrow & Mrs. King_, if you've forgotten. It
just goes to show that two agents _can so_ have a romance and still
get the work done.
Skinner checked the price of milk with dismay. How could they possibly
charge this much for a quart?  A gallon was cheaper, but it would
spoil long before he had finished drinking it. Maybe he could freeze
some of it in other containers....
A shopping cart bumped into him, and the question became moot. At
least for that particular half gallon jug, which went skidding away
from his hands and halfway across the aisle. He could only be thankful
he'd picked up a jug and not a paper carton.
"Oh, I'm so sorry!" a woman's voice exclaimed. "Really, I can never
steer these carts...."
"Here's your milk," a man said amusedly. He was tall, blond, and had
more hair, teeth and muscle than Skinner felt was strictly required in
a man his own age. "Say, don't I know you? Walt Skinner, wasn't it?
From the Bureau?"
"You're right, Lee." The brunette woman, also middle-aged, smiled at
him with a sort of homespun warmth. "We must have met the
reception at the FDA last year? Or was it on that cruise? Well,
anyway...Amanda Stinson. And this is my husband Lee. International
Federal Film?"
Skinner gave them a blank look, then nodded. "Ah, yes. Your people
produced those training videos we used. Good work, from what Quantico
"Well, we've got a new line. Workplace training videos. It lets the
people with the busiest schedules catch up with whatever's new in
their field without taking them away from work for more than an hour
or two. Which would mean you wouldn't have to send people all the way
out to Quantico. Just have them watch the videos once in a while."
"Well, to a certain extent we have to send our agents there. For
recertification and the physical training...but for some of the less
meaty classes...yes, that could come in handy. Say, why don't you make
an appointment with my secretary? Bring your sales presentation. If I
like it, I'll pass it on to the Director."
"Wonderful!" gushed Mrs. Stinson. "We'll be sure to do that, first
thing Monday morning. Oh, and one more thing?"
"What's that?" asked Skinner.
"You really should check the expiration date. Look, that milk's just
about to expire. Now, this one's not going to expire for another two
weeks. That's a much better buy."
Mr. Stinson chuckled at Skinner's befuddled look. "You should listen
to her. She knows her milk. Oh, and sorry we ran into you so
literally, but it was nice seeing you again."
"The same to you."
Skinner loaded the approved milk jug into his grocery cart. Outwardly,
he shook his head and moved on. Inside, he was laughing. The first
phase of their plan was underway. And that Morley- smoking bastard
wouldn't know anything about it until it was too late.
"The Stinsons are here. From International Federal Film?"
"Thank you, Kimberly. Send them in."
The blond and the brunette walked in, all smiles and salesmanship. The
brunette began making the presentation.
The blond pulled a small pen out of his pocket and began waving it
around, as if to shake ink into the tip. Then he started walking
around the room, pulling rubber erasers out of his pockets and placing
them in front of certain things.
The windows. The chairs. An ashtray. In the middle of the conference
table. On the frame of Janet Reno's picture. In front of the US flag.
And several places around his desk, of course.
At each stop, Skinner inwardly groaned. He thought he'd been sweeping
better for bugs than that.
The blonde man shook the pen a few more times and then gave them the
high sign.
The brunette sighed with relief. "I thought for a minute there I might
have to recite the whole presentation...I've already done it once, for
the minicorders there." She waved vaguely at the 'erasers'.
"You might have had to," the blonde answered. "Don't feel bad about
missing them. Whoever's bugging you is right at the cutting edge. I
can think of some names...."
"So can I, Lee," Skinner answered grimly. "And if you can help me out
with them, I'd be grateful. But I can't deal with it officially. Too
many of my superiors -- and maybe yours -- are in on this." He rubbed
his face wearily. "I thought I was done with wars when I left
"I never had that luxury," Lee Stetson answered him seriously. "I went
from Army Intel to the Agency, from dodging NVA to dancing with the
KGB and GRU. And when the Cold War ended, suddenly there were more new
players and disgruntled old ones than anyone ever imagined in the old
"And you love every minute of it," Amanda Stetson reminded her
"Well, look at the gorgeous lady spy I get to work with."
Amanda's lips quirked. "When we got married, Walt, our boss raked in
the office pool. Is that what you're planning to do with your X-Files
Skinner almost smiled. "Of course you know about them. The entire
Bureau rumor mill, mutant serial killers, and these damn conspirators
know all about it. In fact, everyone knows about them...but them."
"That's a shame," Lee said, with all the conviction of a happily
married man. "Especially since they've got a nice private office down
in the basement. Remember when Billy had us in Q Bureau to clean out
the unsolved backlog?"
Amanda smiled at the reminiscence. "But we didn't have all these bugs
around," she pointed out. "And we got our own department as an added
responsibility. It was a step up in the world."
"If it were up to me, the X-Files _would_ be a promotion. I'd love to
send Mulder and Scully some more agents. But as you can guess, my
hands are tied.
"Since I can't do anything else for them, I'd at least like them to
make a life for themselves. And if they got married, the unwritten
Bureau policy wouldn't apply."
Lee glanced at Amanda. She had that look on her face. She was sorry
for the poor Fibbies. Puppies were about to be adopted, matches made,
and loose ends tied off. But he wasn't about to try to dissuade her.
After all, she'd made him her project once, and look at how well it'd
turned out!
"But that, of course, is not the reason I called you here today."
Skinner checked his watch. "Let's see how well I can brief you on the
Consortium in 45 minutes."

Lee and Amanda walked out of the Hoover Building all smiles and sales.
They were feeling unusually paranoid, so they checked the car for bugs
before they started to discuss what they'd learned.
"It's got to stop, Amanda." Lee was in one of his intense moods, ready
to go hunting for bear. "This 'shadow government' makes me sick. And
based on what we heard today, I think we can assume that my parents
were killed on their orders. They were getting too close."
Amanda was equally unhappy. "And we must have been tangling with them
back when we went looking for Hoover's secret files. Which leads us to
the $64,000 question. Have they infiltrated the Agency?"
Lee laughed harshly. "You mean, just how badly has the Agency been
compromised?" He sobered. "I don't know, Amanda. I think we have to
assume that any official investigation will come to their notice. We
could try going to Blue Leader."
"If we can trust him." Amanda smiled to show she wasn't serious.
"If we can't trust Blue Leader, who can we trust?"
Amanda answered Lee literally. "Skinner, since we believe him. His two
agents. Francine...."
Lee broke in, his voice husky. "And each other."

Their next stop was a beautiful house in the suburbs of Washington.
When they pulled in the driveway, a black woman waved and came out of
the garden, pruning shears in hand.
"Lee! Amanda! It's so good to see you again."
"Hello, ma'am," Lee said respectfully.
The woman frowned at him."My name is Jeannie, Lee. None of this ma'am
business among family. Remember, my husband's not your boss any more."
"Yes, ma'am. Er, Jeannie."
Jeannie shook her head. "Isn't he ever going to outgrow this shy
stage, Amanda?"
Amanda pretended to consider the question. "Maybe when he's eighty or
Jeannie laughed. "Well, before you ask, Billy's downstairs playing
with his 'home theater'. It looks like just another big TV to me. You
know the way."
"Thanks, Jeannie," Amanda said gratefully.
Downstairs in the basement, Billy had his home theater turned on with
the stereo speakers going.
"New laser disk?" Lee asked curiously.
"New video. I just finished editing the tapes I shot last year at the
Newport Jazz Festival into a highlights film."
Lee looked impressed. "Hey, I think we'd like to see some of that."
"Be my guest, Lee. Plenty of comfy chairs for all." Lee and Amanda sat
down, and Billy turned up the stereo speakers until they were going
full blast.
At which point they silently left their seats and followed Billy to
the dusty space behind the stairs. Billy pushed a certain brick, and
the rest of the space under the house was revealed. They followed him
into his secret command post, a space as free from surveillance as was
humanly possible.
Billy closed the door behind them and shook his head. "Now I know why
Harry Thornton set up this Blue Leader bit to keep the head of the
Agency secret. It wasn't to protect himself from the Soviets. It was
his own agents he was worried about."
"Then you really should have retired, instead of letting yourself get
promoted over Dr. Smyth's head."
"Are you kidding? Controlling Dr. Smyth was the only reason I let
myself get promoted," Billy contended. It was only partly a joke. "Too
bad you two figured it out."
He smiled at them, still a little rueful. They were just too good a
team. That was why, when he'd taken over, he'd made them joint section
chiefs. It had broken all precedent, and Dr. Smyth and the other
bureaucrats had complained. But Blue Leader had spoken, and that was
He missed the day-to-day action at the Agency. He missed Mrs. Marston
asking the password. He even missed the gossip. But this way, his
people could work without too much interference from 'the big boss'.
And if there was any really good gossip, Lee and Amanda passed it on.
He was proud of them. They had adapted to the new world order without
missing a beat. Amanda's resourcefulness and off-the-shelf shopping
skills kept the section well supplied even in these days of budget
cuts, while Lee's flair for operations planning kept their agents safe
and successful. All this without neglecting their family or their
Yes, someday the two of them'd make one fine Blue Leader.
He shook himself out of his reverie, listened to their report, and
looked at the documents Assistant Director Skinner had given them.
"You're right, Lee. This is a major threat to national security." He
frowned. "Let me worry about our internal investigation. I'll pick the
straightest arrows we've got and have them poke around on the q.t.
Personal assignment from me, of course."
"Of course," Amanda agreed. "And you'll make sure you sound like the
voice of God Himself, just like the old Blue Leader did to us."
"Of course. That's the fun part," Billy agreed. "Meanwhile, we should
contact one of these agents to give them a briefing and some support
equipment. Try the doctor. Her partner sounds like a loose cannon."
"A nice loose cannon," Amanda amended. "And smart. All he needs is a
little more stability in his life."
"I don't recall matchmaking being part of our mission statement,"
Billy admonished gently.
"It comes under our motto," Lee contended. "Servicium in umbris."
Billy looked at him. "Service in the shadows, yes. But not that kind
of service!"