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"Marita, I'd like to ask you a favor.  I've got the chance to make my ex-wife a little jealous, and I need your help."

"Your ex-wife? I didn't know you were married."

"My marriage deteriorated rapidly long ago when I decided to change careers. She didn't like the pay cut from businessman to F.B.I. grunt."

She looked at him, thinking about how much he enjoyed spending money on the luxuries in life, thanks to his second job with the Syndicate. His wife had missed out, and not just because of the money.

"So where does my help come into the picture?" Marita had to admit, she was intrigued. She hadn't seen this side of him before, and it amused her.

X dropped a folded newspaper onto her desk, and she picked it up, scanning the story. Her eyes raised, and she couldn't help but look a bit confused, "The opera? I didn't know you were a patron of the vocal arts, Xavier."

"I'm not. I find the opera unbearably boring, but, like I said...Joyce will be there, and I want her to see what she's been missing out on since trading me in for a string of rich boyfriends. Figured having a gorgeous blonde on my arm would do it."

Marita couldn't help but grin. She had never figured him the type to do this, not at all. And the fact that he was so straightforward with a compliment...She shook her head with a sigh, "What time do you want to pick me up?"

She had never seen him smile so broadly, "1:00pm, your place. It's a little over 4 and a half hours to get to the Kennedy Center, so I'll be hiring a limo for us."

"Wonderful. I know just what to wear."

"I knew I asked the right girl for the job. On another topic, I got in touch with Alex. He would like to meet us for dinner at a busy restaurant of our choice this next Wednesday night. He said we'll go dutch."

"Why would he mention that?"

"I think he likes being confusing. Or maybe he’s a tightwad. Do you have a particular restaurant you want to go to, since apparently we're not paying for his meal?"

"Somewhere with good options for privacy. What about the Hungarian place on 39th?"

"Will seven o'clock be okay?"

She nodded, "So, the opera on Saturday, and dinner with Alex next Wednesday."

"Correct." a pause, the upturn of one side of X's mustache, "I'm looking forward to Saturday."

A smile crossed Marita's face again, and she quickly forced her face back into a more serious expression. She didn't want to look like an anxious schoolgirl, but she was admittedly excited about the weekend's arrival. She hadn't been out for a non-working night on the town in years. And she was happy that her "date" for the evening would be Xavier. She knew that it would be fun.

When Saturday finally arrived, Marita could hardly contain her enthusiasm for the evening. It surprised even her. Marita kept telling herself that she had a "job" to do for Xavier, but the feeling of excitement wouldn't leave, and part of her was disgusted that she was giving in to it so easily.

She made it home from some impromptu overtime UN work right after noon, and took a quick shower before smoothing on sandalwood-rose lotion, and slipping into her long, emerald green gown. The fabric draped luxuriantly over her slender frame, and the cut of the dress modestly showcased cleavage that rarely saw the light of day under her typical staunch business attire.

She swept her hair up into a low chignon, and was just smoothing on her lipstick when the doorbell rang. Perfect timing, as usual.

She grabbed her coat, and opened the door to see X standing there in a tuxedo. Marita smiled, "Afternoon, 007..."

He chuckled, and motioned to the tuxedo, "Every once in awhile it pays to play the part of a mysterious opera-going secret agent," he said with a wink. "And you look absolutely stunning. Breathtaking."

Marita blushed and tried to recover, "Thank you, Xavier. Your ex-wife won't know what hit her tonight."

For a brief moment, X looked confused before speaking, "Yes, my ex-wife. Exactly."

He took the coat from her arms, and helped her on with it. All the while Marita wondered if her mission tonight truly was to incite jealousy in his ex-wife, or if there was more to this evening than petty revenge. As usual with X, his motives were often shrouded in secrecy.

"Come on - the limo driver will charge me extra if he gets a ticket for being longer than 20 minutes."

She slipped her arm into his, "Then I won't keep you waiting." She picked up her tiny satin purse on the way past the foyer table, and locked the heavy deadbolt on the way out. The doorman in her building didn't mean anything to the type of intruders who might want to break into her apartment.

Traffic was at its usual. Xavier watched out the window as the streets went by slowly. "Something wrong?" she asked.

"Just thinking about tonight. Thinking about how nice it is to have someone to spend my money with." With that, he turned his attention to the mini-fridge, and showed her the split of champagne, "Would you like a glass? It'll make the opera much more enjoyable."

"After the week I've had at work, I could use a glass." Marita watched as the bubbles rose to the surface of the golden hued liquid. They seemed to dance on the surface, catching the lights of the limo's interior.

"Thank you," she reached out and took the crystal flute from his hand, and sipped. Her eyebrows raised, "This is a nice champagne, Mr. Fancy Man in Black."

He leaned back on the seat beside her, "Nothing but the finest for my Syndicate beauty. You really do look gorgeous."

Marita turned her head to speak, but the words stuck in her throat, and silence filled the limo. She drank down the rest of her champagne, and set the glass off to the side.

"It's been awhile since..."

X cut her off, setting his now empty glass to the side as well, "Since you've been given the respect you deserve. You are an amazing woman, Mare. Beautiful, intelligent..."

He leaned in, and Marita's resolve melted as her lips pressed into his. This time she savoured the feel of him against her, forcing her mind to remain unashamed. He tasted of exquisitely crafted grapes, and his arms wrapped around her waist, pulling her closer to his muscular frame. He was so warm against her, his arms strong as he pulled her closer. The kiss deepened as his hands moved up to her shoulders, his fingers stroking her skin. Her hands crept behind his neck so he could not escape.

Lost in gentle touches and hungry kisses, time slipped away. It was only the sounds of the heavy limo door and the driver's voice that brought Marita and X back to themselves. "We've arrived," the driver's voice rang through the car. She looked up, blushing deeply. A quick glance at her reflection in the window showed tousled hair, a dress pushed low off her shoulders, and smeared lipstick. The limo driver was grinning from ear to ear - apparently he'd seen this thing plenty of times before, and it clearly still amused him.

X stepped out of the limo to block the driver's view, all under the guise of tipping him, as Marita straightened her clothing, and smoothed her hair and makeup. When Marita moved to step out of the limo, X offered a hand which she took easily. It disturbed her how comfortable she was accepting his offers of affection. Marita had had never thought herself the type to be entirely comfortable with chivalry. But now here she was at the opera, arm in arm with a man who could be very much the gentleman when given the chance. The most unsettling part was that she was enjoying it.

By the time they got to the lobby, their hands were clasped tightly around one another. As they stood near the windows, X pointed out his ex-wife. She was glaring in their general direction, and looked irritated. When her gaze shifted to Marita, her eyes narrowed further into a hateful glower.

By the time Marita's gaze shifted back to X, he was grinning sadistically as he gave Joyce a quick wave. Joyce's lips pursed in annoyance, and she looked away. A low throaty chuckle escaped X's lips, and he squeezed Marita's hand.

"Happy?" Marita asked in a low tone.

He looked at her, "Very." He leaned down to press his lips to her cheek, "Not because of her, though."

She smiled, taking his hand, "Let's go find our seats." He looked down at the ticket in his hand, and they made their way towards the nearby set of doors that led into the main area of the opera house. Once they were settled in their seats, he chuckled, "So, what do you think?"

Marita smirked, "Not bad. She seems a little," Marita paused while considering her words, "bitter for you, but she is beautiful."

X shrugged, "I suppose she's okay..." His voice trailed off, and he reached over to take her hand, giving it a little squeeze. She knew what he wanted to say, but he didn't want to feed her any cheesy lines, and he knew that she wasn't the type to appreciate them. Instead, neither of them said a word, opting instead to sit together in comfortable silence. When the lights dimmed, Marita leaned closer, savouring the warmth of his arm against hers.

After about an hour his touch was her primary focus. Partly due to the feel of his thumb stroking her hand gently, and partly because (much to her surprise) the opera was not holding her interest nearly as much as she had anticipated.

Marita wondered if it was because her thoughts were on the passionate kisses and touches of the limo ride, or if it was because the story unfolding on the stage was pedestrian and boring by comparison. When she looked over at X, his eyes met hers. A look of exasperation and sleepiness showed across his face.

A small smile formed at the corner of Marita's mouth, and she leaned over, already reading his thoughts. "Yes. I'm bored, as well," she whispered. X smiled, and his chest moved a bit under the tux, as though a silent laugh was escaping him. When his phone buzzed soundlessly against his pocket it made them both jump. Marita suddenly realized the toll that the job was taking on their nerves.

X glanced discreetly down at the dark screen of the phone, and leaned in to whisper, "Mulder. I'll head out after the fat lady sings." Marita nodded, trying not to laugh.

CSM: Nothing vanishes without a trace...burn it!

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