Before Them 1/5 (PG-13)

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He stood outside of her apartment, concerned but not yet frightened.  Her car was parked outside; she was here just running late, right?  But she hadn’t run late, not like this, not in a long time.  Okay, maybe he was a little oversensitive about her, but how many times had she been taken from him?  Something wasn’t right though, he didn’t even remember driving to work this morning.  He shook his head; he hadn’t been drinking, this wasn’t a hangover but there was something just out of his grasp.


Instead of knocking he put his key in the door and opened it quietly.  Well, it didn’t look like there had been a disturbance.  There was little light, the blinds were drawn.  Okay that was unusual, she liked her light, but . . . that chair was slightly out of place.  It didn’t look like it was . . . maybe she had just rearranged slightly.


The bedroom door was closed and he felt just a touch of fear.  What was on the other side?  He approached it carefully, drawing his gun from the holster at his back.  He would wonder about that action later.


The room was dark, but he could see her in the bed, asleep facing the door.  “Scully?”


She jerked awake but his eyes were drawn to the figure of the man that sat up beside her.  “What the hell?  Who are you?  What are you - “ Mulder raised the gun, aiming at the center mass of the babbling man in the bed.


“Don’t shoot us.  Please, please just take - “ Scully’s voice trailed off.


Mulder looked down at his hand, his gun.  He finally found his voice.  “Who the hell are you?”  Outrage colored Mulder’s voice as he stared in shock at the man in bed with Scully.


The strange man stared back at him for a moment, then reached for the phone.  “I’m calling 911.”


“You do that,” Mulder growled at him.  “Scully, get over here.”


“Wait, both of you.  What, what’s going on?  Please, are you going to kill us?”


“What?  No!  Scully, who is he?”


She looked at him curiously.  “I’d feel better if you’d put the gun away.”


Mulder looked back down at his gun, obviously torn.  Slowly he put the gun in the holster at his back.  “Okay, come over here.  Get away from him, Scully.”


Instead of moving toward him, she pulled back into the strange man’s arms.  “Tell us what’s going on.”  She didn’t understand the look of pain on Mulder’s face.




“Who are you?  Why are you calling me Scully?”


“I’ve always called you Scully.”




“Stop talking to him, Dana.”


“You shut up!” Mulder growled at the man.


“Stop it, please, both of you.  I don’t know what’s going on, but I don’t want anyone to get hurt.  Please.”


“Scully, who is he?”


His voice, he, he sounded betrayed somehow.  What was going on?  For some reason she didn’t feel as though her life was in danger now.  She looked back at her companion, “Ethan, I need to talk to him.”


Mulder’s eyes widened in shock.  Ethan?  She was in bed with Ethan?  He’d never met the man.  They had separated about the same time she had joined him on the X-Files. 


“You are not!  Some guy breaks into our home, holds us at gunpoint and you want to talk to him?”


“We have to find out what’s going on.  He put his gun away.”  Now it was Ethan that looked outraged.




Torn, she looked between the two men again.  “Please, Ethan.”  She slowly rose and picked up the robe laid across the foot of the bed.  She slipped it on and belted it.  “Who are you?”


He looked pained and after a moment shook his head.  “Scully, you don’t know me?”


She shook her head. Was she kidding?  Giving him some sort of signal?  He carefully reached into the inside pocket of what looked like a very expensive suit.  Ethan tensed, but he only withdrew a black wallet.  Mulder opened it, silently showing her his shield.


“FBI?  Fox?”


“You call me Mulder.”


She looked up quickly.  “I . . . we know each other?”


“Yes, dammit!  What the fuck is going on here?”


“That’s what I’d like to know,” Ethan muttered.


“Shut up!”


Scully raised her hands to both of them, trying to keep them both calm.  “Mu-Mulder?  Will you let us get dressed, then we can talk.  Okay?”


After a moment Mulder nodded, then glaring at Ethan let himself out of the bedroom.  Scully sat heavily on the bed, her hands shaking.  Ethan’s arm went around her and she jumped. 


“I’m going to call 911.”


“Wait.  I don’t know what’s going on, but I don’t think he’s going to hurt us.”


“Maybe not you.  I think he’d tear me limb from limb if had his hands on me.”


She couldn’t dispute that.  His looks at Ethan had been murderous.  “Get dressed, put the phone in your pocket, but let’s try to find out what’s going on.”  She rose again and hurried into her closet to dress.  Ethan picked up yesterday’s clothes and started dressing.


She was ready first and reached for the doorknob.  “Wait!” Ethan whispered.  “Don’t go out there without me.”


She hesitated at his words.  He was absolutely right, but for some reason her safety didn’t seem to be an issue anymore.  What a bizarre morning!  Ethan shoved his feet into his shoes and she opened the door.  The smell of coffee wafted toward them.  Scully looked stunned, but Ethan was furious.  “That SOB made fucking coffee?” he hissed at her.


Her hand on his arm didn’t calm him down.  They turned into the kitchen and saw Mulder seated at the table with a cup of coffee in front of him.  Her favorite mug sat opposite him, filled with coffee.  She looked at it and realized it was prepared exactly as she liked it.  She reached for it, but Ethan pulled her back.


“Don’t touch that!”


Mulder started to rise and Ethan drew her back away from him.  “Ethan, stop.  Mr. Mulder, what did you put in my coffee?”


“Cream and half a pack of sweet and low.”

“How did you know I take it that way?”


He closed his eyes for an instant, then just shook his head.


“Why are we having a conversation with this guy?  Let’s call 911 and report that a man broke into our apartment - “ He turned then and looked over at the door.  It was closed and obviously undamaged.  “How did you get in?”


“I used my key,” Mulder said flatly.  He had answered Ethan but he was watching Scully.


For the first time Ethan looked over at her as well and now he looked confused headed toward outrage.  “You gave him - “


“I don’t know what’s going on here.  Mr. Mulder, please, are you holding us prisoner?”


Mulder faced her squarely then.  “No, I’m just trying to get some answers.  It doesn’t look like I’m going to find them here.”  He rose abruptly, causing Ethan to fall back another couple of steps and left the apartment without another word.


Scully dropped into the chair he had vacated and looked up silently at Ethan. 




She exited her car and headed for the entrance.  She startled violently when he grabbed her arm.  She looked up and into his face.  Before she could react, he pulled her against him and kissed her, really kissed her.  Her knees actually got weak and she clutched at his arms to steady herself.  When he broke the kiss she just stared at him.


“Is Ethan that much better?”


“Wha-what are you talking about?”


“Why are you with Ethan?  What the hell did I do, Scully?”


“I don’t know what you’re talking about, Mr. Mulder.  Ethan and I have been seeing each other for some time.”


His eyes narrowed as they burrowed into hers.  “You, you’re serious.”


“Mr. Mu - “


“Mulder, just Mulder.”


“Are you okay?”


“No.” He just looked at her for the longest moment.  “You really don’t know who I am?”


“I’m sorry.”


He leaned back against the nearest car, defeated.  “I thought, I hoped you were acting this morning, so Ethan wouldn’t . . . “


She shook her head.  “Why did you - “




“Why did you break into my apartment?”


“You were late.  I was worried about you.”


“I wasn’t late.  I work second shift.”


Mulder shook his head.  “I don’t know what’s going on.”


“Look, instead of late I’m very early because I couldn’t get back to sleep.  Let’s go get a cup a coffee and you tell me what’s going on.”


“You were afraid of my coffee.”


“Actually I wasn’t.  Ethan was.”  She noted his cringe at Ethan’s name but he kept quiet.  “Come on.  The hospital’s coffee sucks but there’s a lot of caffeine.  I need that right now.”


“You always do.”


She blinked at that.  After a moment she turned toward the hospital and he followed her.  Silently they headed for the cafeteria and got coffee.  He watched her fix her cup exactly as he had done.  He took his coffee and looked around the cafeteria.


“Let’s go to my office, we can have a little privacy.”


“You’re not afraid to be alone with me?”


Her chin went up then, “Should I be?”


There was a ghost of a smile on his lips at that.  “No.”


She nodded and led him to her office.  The basement, how ironic that she was still down here even without him.  But it seemed to be real.  Her name was on the door and he touched it lightly on his way in.  She closed the door behind them and motioned for him to take a seat.  She sat beside him and took a sip of her coffee, then set the cup on her desk.


“Are you in love with him?”


That wasn’t what she was expecting.  “I beg your pardon?”  She was stalling, but he had caught her off guard.


“You’re living with him.”


“Is that really what you want to discuss?  I mean, you break into my apartment, pull a gun on me - “


“I didn’t know what I was going to find.  What I do find is you in bed with another man.”


“Another - ?”


“We’re together, Scully.”


“Technically I don’t know who you are.  I’ve seen your badge, but that’s it.”  She couldn’t interpret the expression on his face, but she did see a deep sadness in his eyes.  “Talk to me.  How am I supposed to know you?”


He took a deep breath, placing his coffee on the desk beside hers.  “You were assigned to be my partner at the FBI six and half years ago.”


“What?  I don’t work at the FBI.”


“In my reality you do.  Before they put us together you taught forensics at the Quantico.  They gave you to me to destroy me.”




For just a moment his eyes lightened.  “It proves that they don’t know as much as they think they do.  They thought they owned you, they thought you’d lie for them, shut me down.  You didn’t.  You made me work for it, but you made me honest.”  He closed his eyes at those words, as though they were painful.  Without thought she reached for his hand.


His eyes flew open when he felt her touch.


“It sounds like we work together, but you were talking like - “


“We did work together, we do.  But over time we’ve . . . we’ve grown closer.”


“An office romance?”


“No!  Never that.  After all the time we’ve been together, Scully are you in love with Ethan?”


“I . . . We’ve been together for nearly a year.”


“You’re not married.”


“We both have demanding careers, we’re fine.”


“Fine.”  The way he said it made her blush for some reason.  “You think you have a demanding career now,” he huffed.


“Okay, six and half years ago.  What is it that you think we do?”


“That’s not . . . easy.”


“Apparently not.”


“Have you been with Ethan all this time?”


“Why do you keep coming back to Ethan?” she asked after a moment.


“Answering a question with a question?”  He tried to grin.  “I guess I haven’t recovered from seeing him in your bed.”


“How long have we . . . “


“Physically, not that long, but we’ve, we’ve loved each other for a very long time.”


“You’re not telling me much.  What was supposed to have happened to change things?  Why did we finally cross that line?”


He wasn’t sure she wasn’t just indulging him; either fitting him for a white coat with extra long sleeves, or at least laughing to herself.  “You asked me to father your child.”


She drew back slightly.  That was unexpected.  She had no idea what to say “And?”


“I said yes, but it didn’t work.”


“You helped me try to get pregnant?”


Before he could answer there was a tap on the door, immediately followed by the door opening.  She didn’t have time to respond in any way.  “Dana?  I wanted to check on - “


Ethan’s eyes fell on their hands, still entwined though neither seemed to have remembered it.  Scully jerked her hand free and Mulder didn’t protest.  It was too late, Ethan shoved the door away and it bounced off the wall as he disappeared back down the hall.


“Shit!” Scully was on her feet racing after him while Mulder kept his seat and watched her disappear out the door.  Should he leave?  He didn’t really feel much like moving right now.  What was going on at his office?  Had he been missed?  Did he still work there himself?  He had a badge, but so what? 


The first thing he remembered was standing in the bullpen this morning and she hadn’t been there.  He still couldn’t conjure up any memory of waking and dressing, he’d just been there.  Her car hadn’t been in the garage.  She always beat him in these days.  He personally cared little whether or not he arrived at all.  What a fall he’d taken, from golden wonder boy of Profiling to background checks and manure runs.  Scully was the only real reason he continued to show up at all.  They weren’t living together, though he had thought about bringing it up more than once.  They each had some space of their own, but were spending more and more nights in each other’s arms now.  Last night had been one of those rare evenings he had spent alone, actually falling asleep on the couch like the old days.  His head jerked up - a dream.  This was a dream, it had to be.  Sure as hell was a vivid one but it was the only explanation. 


Well now was a good time to wake up.  This wasn’t a place he wanted to hang around.  He looked around the office and spotted her letter opener.  It was a novelty one, shaped like a scalpel.  He didn’t need to perform surgery, but maybe he could prick himself and wake the hell up.  He picked it up and tested it against his thumb, not very sharp.  Before he could return it to her desk, the door opened again.


“Damn it, I couldn’t - No!” she knocked the scalpel from his hand horrified.


“What?  No, no I wasn’t . . . I’m not suicidal.  Not yet anyway.”


She glared at him then and reached down to pick up the letter opener.  “So what were you doing?”


“I, I was trying to wake up.  If this is some sort of horrible nightmare, I want out.  I want back to my life; the one where I’m the man in your bed.  I take it you didn’t catch him.”


Her shoulders slumped.  “No.  I got there in time to see him race out of the parking lot.  There is no way he’s going to believe I didn’t give you that key.”


“You did give me that key.”


She cut her eyes at him.  “Well I’m willing to bet it won’t work by this evening anyway.”


He just looked at her.


“What are you going to do now?”


He shrugged.  “I don’t know.”


“What about work?”


He looked at her then.  “Work?”  He seemed to be thinking deeply then.




“No one paid any attention to me this morning when I went in.  I’m used to that, but . . . I have my shield.  I do work at the Bureau.”


“Do you, do you want me to call over there?”


He looked up quickly.  “Would you?”


She nodded, caught up in whatever this was.


“The number - “


“No, let me look it up.”  He nodded.  She pulled the phone book towards her and looked up the number.  While he watched she dialed.  “Yes, could I speak with Agent Mulder?  That’s M-U-L-D-E-R.  Thank you.”  She was quickly connected and voice mail came on.  “This is Fox Mulder.  Leave a message.”  Instead she hung up the phone.


He watched her for an instant.  “Was I there?”


She smirked, “No, but that was definitely your voice.”


“I guess I better go see what I do around there,” he said quietly as he started to rise. 


She jerked forward, her hand out.  “You’re leaving?”


He met her eyes then and she blushed, looking away.


“Thank you,” he said softly.  “May I call you?”




He pulled out a card.  “This is my direct number and,” he scribbled something on the back, “this is my home.”  She nodded and after memorizing the numbers pocketed the card.




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Mulder, Scully, the Lone Gunman and Skinner all belong to Chris Carter, 10-13 and Fox. No infringement intended.