He ducked as the man fired at him and brought his own weapon up. He fired three rounds and watched the man turn from the impact and then hit the concrete sidewalk in the alley. The assailant's gun went flying and Mulder's eyes followed the trajectory, noting it as he approached the man.
"Scully, get over here. I don't think he's dead. Scully?"
He turned then, when he got no response. She'd been right behind him, hadn't she? He straightened up from his crouch. "Scully?"
That's when he spotted her, nearly behind the dumpster, on the ground. "Scully!"
The dying man was forgotten as Mulder fairly leaped the few steps to her side. The blood was coming from her upper abdomen. The shot that he had ducked, it had struck her and he hadn't even realized it!
How bad was she? "Scully, can you hear me? Come on, speak to me." He pulled her blouse open and looked at her wound. Blood, too much of it. He jerked off his suit coat and pressed it against her to try to slow down the bleeding. With his other hand he pulled his cell phone from the pocket of the coat. His call to 911 was frantic, he was losing control.
"Scully, come on." Her pulse felt weak to him, but that was usually her department. She was definitely going into shock. Did he dare move the coat? He did move it and saw the blood well up again. Shit! He ripped his shirt off then, hearing buttons bounce against the dumpster. He pressed that fabric against the gunshot now with one hand and awkwardly lay his coat over her with the other.
Where was the fucking ambulance! "Scully? Please, wake up, talk to me. I got the guy, the guy that shot you. He's dead. Scully, don't let him win. He's dead, not you. I need you to listen to me. An ambulance is on the way. Open your eyes and talk to me Scully."
He was babbling, but he couldn't stop. She had to be hearing his voice. She had to stay with him.
He was talking to the nurse when he saw her stir. The surgery had seemed endless to him, but she had survived it. That was all that mattered. He was back at her side instantly. “Scully? Scully can you hear me?”
She had slipped under again, but she had been waking. The nurse had gone to find her doctor.
He took her hand. Her face was drawn, even in sleep. He glanced toward the door as it opened.
“Agent, if you’ll step outside for a minute, please . . . “
Mulder wanted to argue, but knew he’d lose, so he allowed them to exile him to the hall temporarily. He pulled his cell phone from his pocket again and redialed her mother. Still no answer and he couldn’t leave another message other than the one to call him. No way could he give her this information by machine.
He was asleep when she woke. When she turned her head and spotted him, tears came to her eyes. That confused her, why did looking at him cause such sadness? She couldn’t shake it, why was watching this man sleeping at her side because he was worried about her, depressing her?
He started to stir. She immediately closed her eyes and pretended to sleep in order to avoid any conversation. She felt him rise and lean over her, checking her. She managed not to move when he caressed her cheek.
“Scully?” He sighed, “I need you to wake up, Scully.”
She continued to fake sleep. He finally lightly touched her cheek again and then took his seat. He took her hand in his, kneading it. She managed not to pull away and kept her breathing even.
After a short while, he leaned back and eventually fell asleep again. She couldn’t. Once she was sure he was asleep, she opened her eyes and carefully extracted her hand from his. She watched him in the dim light from the hall and wondered again at her reaction.
He hadn’t hurt her; he never wanted her to be hurt. She knew that. Anyway, she wasn’t angry with him, just sad. She let her eyes drift closed again.
Her restlessness woke him and he saw the tears glistening on her cheeks. “Scully?” He brushed the hair from her forehead and took one of her tears onto his finger. That startled her awake, but this time she remembered the source of her sadness - her dream.
“Scully, are you in pain? What do you need?”
She didn’t answer, turning away from him.
“Scully? Scully, it’s Mulder. Do you know me?”
She closed her eyes, but nodded. She didn’t see how hurt he was by her reaction. “I’ll, uh, I’ll get the nurse.” Still he hesitated by her side, but when she refused to look at him, he moved to the door.
Two days now and she wouldn’t talk to him; she wouldn’t talk at all. The pain seemed to be managed, at least that’s what she had indicated. When he had tried to touch her, she had pulled away. That was a first and it had thrown him. He wanted to give her support but he realized, when she refused his touch, he needed hers as well.
She wouldn’t let him get close. She had forbidden him to get in touch with her mother. Mrs. Scully was out of town and Scully didn’t want him to bother her. Her life wasn’t in danger, so he finally gave in on that point.
She’d slipped into REM sleep again, he could see her eyes darting. Maybe she’d get some rest. The doctor was pleased with her progress, but he didn’t know her. Yes, physically she might be healing, but she wasn’t okay.
She was becoming agitated, fighting something, the dream? “Scully? Scully, wake up. It’s just a dream. Come on, Scully.”
Scully opened her eyes disoriented and focused on him, then pulled
slightly away from him. The
pain of that movement took his breath away.
“Scu . . .Scully? It’s just a dream.”
She turned away from him then and his heart clutched. “Scully?”
“Why don’t you go on to the hotel, get some rest.”
“I . . . I don’t want to leave you alone.”
“I’m not alone. I’ll be fine.”
He winced at that. Damn he hated it when she used that phrase.
“Are you sure you’ll be okay?”
She nodded and turned away, trying to find a comfortable position for sleep.
What the hell was wrong with her? He’d shake her if he thought it would help, and not hurt her. Instead, after standing and looking at her for a long moment, he opened the door and moved into the hall.
She turned when the door opened again, but it was the night nurse, checking on her IV. “How are you feeling, Ms. Scully?”
“Did you two have a fight?”
“What?” She looked up at the young woman, startled.
“I’m sorry. He just usually sleeps in here, instead of the hall.”
“Mulder’s asleep in the hall?”
The nurse nodded and scribbled her blood pressure down on the pad.
“Could you please ask him to come back in here?”
He looked distant when he reentered her room. “You wanted something?”
“I thought you were going to the hotel.”
“No, you wanted me to go to the hotel.” He was standing near the door, not approaching her bed.
“What’s . . . what are you . . . “
“What’s wrong? I don’t know. You won’t tell me.”
She looked away then, not ready or willing to discuss anything with him. “I don’t need twenty-four hour care, Mulder.”
“Not for your wound, no. But you do.” He ran his hand through his already tousled hair. “Is it the dream?”
She looked up at him startled and he knew he’d hit a nerve.
“Scully, is it the same dream? Do you have the same dream every time?”
“I don’t want to talk about this.”
She turned from him then, unwilling or unable to answer. He sighed and let himself back out into the hall. She didn’t stop him.
He sank back into the chair, all thoughts of sleep gone. It was the dream and she didn’t want to talk about it. Fine. He gave her enough time to fall back asleep, then slipped back into the room. He didn’t know what was wrong but whether she wanted it or not, he was going to be here for her.
He pulled the chair closer to the bed and sat beside her, finally falling asleep himself.
When she woke, she found him beside her again, her hand cradled gently in his. She started to withdraw it, but even in sleep his own hand tightened its grip. He was trying to help her. He was her partner; her welfare was important to his career. She understood that, but she felt her own depression grow.
He kept his distance when she was awake after that, and when she was released, too soon in his mind, he reluctantly escorted her back to Washington. He did get out with her at her apartment over her mild protest, carrying her bag, but he wasn’t going to stay. He’d been too conflicted, too hurt by her attitude. He’d moved into anger now, he had not been the one to shoot her and he had gotten her help and . . . oh hell.
He opened the door to her apartment and then followed her in. He sat her suitcase by the door. “Can I get you anything?”
“No. Thank you for bringing me home Mulder.”
Still that distance. She wouldn’t talk to him. Wouldn’t let him help her. He kept vacillating between fury and hopelessness.
“Have you been able to reach your mother yet?”
“I haven’t tried. I’m fine and there’s no need for her to cut short her vacation. I’ll tell her about everything when she gets home.” She wasn’t moving toward the couch and he realized she was waiting for him to leave, so that she could lock up after him.
He took a deep breath, then carried her suitcase on into her bedroom. She wanted him out of here. She didn’t want his help. When was he going to accept that?
He sighed and returned to the living room. “You’re sure you’ll be okay?”
“Of course.” It looked like she started to say something else, but stopped. He waited for a moment anyway, then nodded.
“Promise you’ll call me if you need anything.”
“Sure. Listen, I know you want to get home. Thanks again for the ride.” She knew she sounded formal, distant, but if he didn’t get out of here soon, she wasn’t going to be able to keep her composure. She needed to be alone.
He opened her door and stepped out into the hall. “Promise?”
“Good night Mulder.” She managed a small smile and gently shut the door. He stood there until he heard the locks engage, then made his way to his car. He looked at her window one last time and she stepped back to ensure he didn’t see her as she watched him leave. Then she stumbled to her couch and allowed her tears to flow.
He looked up startled when the door opened. “Scully?” He was on his feet. “What the hell are you doing here?”
“I work here.”
“Not today you don’t. You’re barely mobile. I would never have helped you get out of the hospital and back to DC if I’d thought you had any plans of coming back to work this soon.”
“Mulder, I’m fine.”
His eyes narrowed at that. “Yeah, yeah I guess you are.” He turned from her and back to the paperwork on his desk.
She closed her eyes, then squared her shoulders and moved to her area. She was not going to admit that he was right. She wasn’t about to admit that it was painful to stand up straight.
Within an hour, her stamina was gone and when she tried to stretch to relieve her back, tears came to her eyes.
He slammed his hand down on the desk, causing her to jump. “Have you had enough of this stupid nonsense?”
She took a shuddering breath. “Fine, I’ll go home. Happy?”
“Not even close. Come on.” He rose and jerked his coat from the back of his chair.
“What do you think you’re doing?”
“I’m driving you home.” Her lips parted, but before she could speak, he overrode her. “Shut up, Scully. You’re in no shape to drive.”
She stiffened, but didn’t speak. The fact that he was right didn’t help.
He walked her to the parking garage, walking at her side, but not touching her. He headed for his own car and opened the passenger door. “What about my car?”
“It’ll be better off here. Get in.”
She knew this was her fault, but his distance was still painful. The trip to her apartment was made in tense silence. She was surprised when he parked, she’d expected him to drop her off, but she didn’t comment. She let herself out of the car and he saw her wince. That caused a stab of pain to slice through him. Without thought, he took her arm and to his relief she didn’t pull away.
He opened the door to her apartment and she reluctantly entered. Neither spoke but she made her way to her couch and sank onto it.
He got her a glass of water, then joined her on the couch. “I think it’s time to talk about this.”
“Mulder, I just tried to do too much too soon. It’s - “
“Bullshit, Scully.” He handed her the glass and she took it, but didn’t bring it to her lips. “Are you still having the dream?”
She looked away then.
“What is it you always tell me? That I hold too much in? Look at you Scully. Okay, you don’t want to talk to me, but you won’t get in touch with your mother, apparently you haven’t called any of your friends. You have to talk to someone.”
“I don’t need - “
Tears overflowed her eyes again.
“Just tell me the dream. Maybe saying it out loud will make it go away. At least make it lose its power over you.”
She looked up at him then. She was a danger to him like this. She knew he couldn’t trust her in the field if she couldn’t control her emotions any better than this. He’d want to transfer her out.
She glanced down at her hands and sighed. “It is the same dream. It’s the only one I’ve had since I was shot.” That startled him, but she didn’t see. “It’s Missy and . . . and Emily.”
He didn’t know what to say. Had . . . had she been that near death? He didn’t want to think about that.
“They . . . they tell me, over and over, that this is all there is. I’ll never have a life, a family. They say I’ll always be alone.”
“It . . . it’s just a dream, Scully.”
“Is it? Do you see a different future for me?”
“I . . . “
She managed a grim smile then. “Me neither.” She started to stand then and he helped her to her feet. “Go on back to work Mulder. I’ll lie down and . . . and try not to dream.”
“Scully, I . . . “
She shook her head. “It’s okay Mulder. This isn’t your problem. I’ll take a few days, you’re right. I’m not ready to go back to work yet. It was just so lonely here . . . Thank you for the ride home.” She moved toward the door and opened it for him.
“Scully, why don’t I hang out for awhile?”
“No thank you Mulder. I should probably just get used to it.”
“Scully - “
“Goodbye Mulder.” She opened the door and he knew he wasn’t going to change her mind right now.
“You’ll call me if you need anything?”
She just smiled sadly and started shutting the door. He stepped out into the hall and she closed it. He heard the deadbolt engage.
He couldn’t make himself walk away from the door for the longest time. It wasn’t until he heard a door open down the hall that he realized he was still standing there. He hurried to his car then and headed back to the office. He knew he’d be ineffective at actual work, but he had to go somewhere.
Once ensconced deep in the bowels of the FBI, he allowed her words to wash over him again. Her daughter and her sister were coming to her in a dream, telling her how horrible her life was? Of course it was her own subconscious, he knew that. She’d said so many times that she wanted a life . . . she just never said she wanted him to be part of anything besides work.
Maybe it was time for her to get that life. It would mean leaving him, but if that was best for her . . . was he mature enough to handle that?
If it was for her, he’d have to be. What could he do for her? What would be . . . helping her find a decent guy? Could he do that? Shit.
He looked up at the tap on the door and Skinner entered. “Yes, sir?”
“I just talked to Scully.”
“She called you?” That surprised him a little, she certainly hadn’t called him. She’d barely spent five minutes with him when he’d returned her car.
“Yes. She said she was taking a leave.”
“You, uh, you didn’t know about this?”
Mulder shook his head, but didn’t meet the man’s eyes.
“Well . . . uh, when you talk to her, see if you can get an idea about how long she’s thinking of taking.” Skinner started to turn back to the door.
“Sure. She, uh, she needs this time.” Skinner nodded, but before he could move, Mulder spoke again. “Do you know if Tom Colton is still with the VCS?”
“Colton? I don’t believe I know him.”
“He was at the academy with Scully. I met him on the Tooms case.”
“Why are you looking for him?”
“He, um, he seemed interested in Scully at one time.”
“You planning to hurt him?” Skinner’s tone was light, but his look wasn’t.
“Mulder . . . “
“I was . . . I was kinda making a list of people that, you know, were attracted to Scully.”
Skinner stared at him in shock. “You planning to pimp for her?”
Mulder’s eyes narrowed, but he didn’t bother to reply.
Skinner turned back toward the door. If Mulder had a plan, he wouldn’t explain it yet, not to him anyway. “Mulder, if you’re making a list of people who want to date Scully, you ought to start with that little gnome friend of yours.”
Frohike? Yeah, like he’d let that pervert anywhere near her. He watched Skinner’s retreating back. He’d no doubt want to be at the head of Mulder’s list. Mulder’s eyes narrowed again.
Hell, he needed to talk to her about this. She probably had several guys in mind for herself. If he was going to help her he had to at least face her.
He took a deep breath and picked up the phone. “Hello?”
“Scully, it’s me.”
There was silence at the other end of the line.
“I, uh, I was wondering if I could drop by. I could bring some lunch.”
“Mulder, did Skinner speak to you?”
“Well, yeah, but I think we should talk. Please?”
He heard her sigh. “Fine, around twelve?”
“I’ll be there.”
Her appearance shocked him. He said nothing, at first, just taking the food on into the kitchen. She trailed him, also silently.
“Go sit down Scully. I know where everything is. Let me dish it up and I’ll bring it to you.”
Rather than argue with him, she returned to the living room. She was in jeans and a t-shirt, but he could see she had lost weight.
He gave her plenty of food, then filled his own plate and took them out to the living room. She eyed the mound of food with trepidation but said nothing.
“You don’t have to eat it all, Scully. Just do the best you can.”
“Mulder . . . “ He grinned at her and she subsided, picking up her fork.
They ate in silence for a few minutes. “Are you feeling better, Scully?”
She nodded but didn’t commit to an actual lie.
“Have you been out much?”
“You should. You look like you could use some sun.”
“In other words, I look like crap.”
“That’s not what I said, Scully.”
“But that’s what you meant. It’s okay. It’s true.”
“Are you sleeping okay?”
The smile slipped from her face and he had his answer though she didn’t respond.
“Finish eating, and let’s get out of here for a little while.”
“Mulder, I don’t - “
“Come on, I won’t keep you out long, but we need to talk and I think we should do it somewhere else.”
She still hesitated, but when they were finished he rose and brought her jacket to her. She took it and followed him out. After thinking about it, he took her to his apartment. She really didn’t look strong enough to go anywhere else.
Once inside he sat her on the couch. “I’m going to make you some tea, okay?”
“Mulder I’m . . . thanks.”
He grinned and headed to the kitchen. It didn’t take long, but when he returned, she had reclined on the couch and pulled his afghan over her. She was sound asleep.
No way would he disturb her, the dark circles under her eyes made it look like she hadn’t slept in ages. He set his laptop up on the table and brought up some files he’d been checking out.
It was a couple of hours before she woke. She stretched and looked around. “Mulder?”
“Hi, did you get a good nap?”
“I’ve been asleep? How long?”
He glanced down at his watch, “Couple of hours. How do you feel?”
“Rested.” She sounded more surprised than anything else.
She shook her head.
He smiled broadly and joined her. She seemed relaxed; maybe this was a good time to talk to her. “Have, have you seen anyone since we got back in town?”
“I don’t know. Old friends or - “
“Old friends? Mulder?”
“Have you seen Tom Colton lately?”
“Tom Colton? That weasel? What made you think of him?”
“I, uh, I thought I saw him in the halls the other day, and I - ”
“It wasn’t Tom. I heard he was transferred to Omaha.”
“I guess he rose to his level of competence.” She tried not to smile.
“You’re happy about it.”
“He was such a . . . a prick when you proved the Tooms case was an X-File and then solved it. I saw just how small minded he was, and the way he treated you . . . “
“You remember that about him?”
“It’s about all I do remember about him. Why? What made you think of Tom Colton, really?”
“Don’t get mad.”
Her eyes widened; don’t get mad? “Mulder, what have you done?”
“Nothing, really I haven’t done anything, but I was thinking - “
She groaned lightly.
“It’s not that bad. It was what you were saying about having a life, you know, outside of work. I know you don’t want a ‘relationship’ like that with me, so I was thinking of the men I knew, that we knew, that you might be interested in.”
“You what?” Her look was totally incredulous. Well, at least she didn’t look angry.
“Hey, I want you to be happy. But I can’t figure out your type. I mean Jack Willis, Ed Jerse, Phillip Padgett, Lucius Hartwell. I can’t see the pattern. “
“I can. They were all horrible mistakes. It just shows how incapable I am of . . . “
“Not true. I’ve just kept you too busy, surrounded you with the wrong kind of guy.”
“Mulder, you - “
“Anyway, I ended up with a list that . . . Byers is hung up on Suzanne, and Langly, well I think you’d scare him to death. So that left Frohike and . . . and Skinner.” He wouldn’t look at her; the whole idea seemed so damn ludicrous now.
His head jerked up so fast he had to have a slight case of whiplash, to look into her sparking eyes.
“Now that is the best panic face I’ve ever seen on you.”
“I’m not panicked, that was . . . “
He trailed off as she chuckled. “Thanks for the laugh, Mulder. That was really sweet.”
“I wasn’t trying . . . I was serious, Scully.”
Her smile faded as she searched his eyes. “You really are trying to find a man for me? Oh my god. How could you? You think I’m that pathetic?”
She rose from the couch then, and moved toward the door. “Scully, that’s not, I wanted to - “
“You wanted to prove that my dreams were correct? That I never will have that ‘life’? Thanks for the reassurance.” She opened the door and slammed it behind her.
“Scully!” He was scrambling for his shoes and then racing down the stairs. He saw a cab pull away from the front of his building as he burst from it. Where the hell had a taxi come from? When he needed one he usually waited at least thirty minutes. Damn he had really blown it this time. No wonder she didn’t want a personal relationship with him.
He looked toward his car. He didn’t even have his keys on him. He ran back up and shut down the computer, grabbed his keys and hurried back down.
He raced to her apartment, but she wasn’t there. Her car was, but . . . could he have beaten the cab? After a few minutes he let himself in to wait. He’d really blown it and he had to get her forgiveness.
After an hour he realized she wasn’t coming. Where would she go, though? She wasn’t strong enough to be out alone. What had he done? Where the hell was she?
He got back in the car and headed over to her mother’s house. There was no answer, and it didn’t look like anyone was home. He moved to the back and picked the lock. No, the place was empty. Damn it!
Skinner. Maybe she hadn’t been kidding. Maybe she was attracted to him. He pulled out his cell phone and dialed Skinner’s private number.
“It’s Mulder. Have you talked to Scully?”
“Not since this morning. Is there a problem?”
“Uh, she’s not at home or . . . “
“Are you saying she’s missing?”
“No. I just, I thought maybe she had called you.”
“Mulder, what’s going on? Does this have anything to do with that list you were making?”
“If you talk to her, would you tell her I’m looking for her?”
“Yeah, I’ll do that. If you need anything . . . “ His voice trailed off. This man wouldn’t take his help until he had no other choices. He only hoped it didn’t come to that.
“Thanks.” Mulder broke the connection, then placed a call to the Gunmen. They hadn’t heard from her either and they also offered their help.
Now what? He really didn’t know her friends, or what she did when she was off duty. Why was that? She was the most important thing in the world, the only thing in the world. Okay she didn’t want him, but damn it, she was stuck with him. If he had to share her, he’d figure out how, but he was going to be there.
It finally occurred to him that she could have gone to the office. This was frustrating as hell. Knowing her car wouldn’t be in the garage didn’t help, but he made his way inside anyway to check. No, the office was locked and there was no sign of her.
Now what? It wasn’t like he could exactly call the police and report her missing.
He was going to be useless here. He locked the door again and returned to his car. Maybe something would come to him. In any case he drove home, where else could he go? He fumbled with his keys and let himself into the apartment. How could he have been so damn stupid? He took a couple of steps into the room before he stopped. Scully, asleep again on his couch.
He approached her cautiously, afraid for an instant that it was an hallucination. The hell if he wouldn’t wake her up this time! “Scully?”
She stirred and opened her eyes.
“Scully, when did you get back here? I’ve been looking for you all over town!”
“I never left. That wasn’t me in the cab you followed.” She sat up and stretched.
“I’ve been an FBI agent for some time Mulder, did you think I couldn’t shake surveillance? I figured this was the last place you’d look for me.”
He just stood there, his mouth open. “I . . . I didn’t think - “
“Well, you finally admitted it.” She didn’t sound friendly.
“What the hell am I supposed to do, Scully? Just let you drift off into some depression? You keep dreaming that your sister and your daughter want you to give up and settle for something you don’t want, which is to stay with me. I want you to be happy Scully. I wish I could do that for you.” He looked away, “that’s not the point. I just wanted to help. I bungled it, so what else is new? I don’t know how to help you, I admit that too. Okay?”
He collapsed onto the couch in the space she had left him.
“You think my dreams are correct?”
“No. I don’t know what your life is like; we don’t share that kind of information. I didn’t realize it until this happened to you. I just spent several hours realizing I don’t know much of anything about your personal life, your friends, where you would go when you - “
“I was here. What does that tell you?”
He blinked at that.
“Pathetic, right? You’re my only friend? This is the only place I thought to hide? Get real Mulder, I haven’t had a date since I was in Philadelphia with Ed.”
“If it helps any, I can beat that. I haven’t had one since you were returned to me in a coma. Does that mean I win?”
“It means we’re both stupid.
“Did you have the dream?”
“What? Uh, no.”
“You’ve slept here twice and haven’t had the dream either time?”
“Well, it’s just kind of strange.”
“Strange. There’s a word that fits us pretty well.” She shook her head and rose from the couch.
“Are . . . do you want to leave?”
She nodded and moved toward the door.
“Don’t leave. Couldn’t we . . . talk or something?”
“Yeah. I’ll take you home in a little while, but I’ve just spent hours searching frantically for you. Couldn’t we hang out here for a little while?”
“What do you want to talk about?”
He shrugged, “Anything. Why don’t you . . . why don’t you describe what a life looks like to you?”
She stiffened and her eyes narrowed.
”I wasn’t making fun . . . oh hell, maybe I should just call you a cab now.”
“No, Mulder. I’m sorry. I just, I don’t know how to describe . . . “
He finally met her eyes. “There is one thing I don’t understand.”
“Why don’t you have the dream here?”
“Oh, that’s because here I’m - “ She stopped and looked away. He saw her swallow and thought for a minute she was going to take flight.
“Scully, don’t do that. Please don’t stop there. I need . . . we were talking. Please don’t shut me out now. Because here you’re what?”
She still couldn’t meet his eyes. “Because . . . because here I’m not lonely.”
He gaped at her, not speaking.
“We do stuff, not just work. We eat, we watch bad movies - “
“I mean, it’s not a dog and a fence and a mortgage, but it’s a kind of a life, part-time.”
“Scully, I . . . I always thought I was imposing on you, getting you over here.”
“Well, you have family here, and friends.” He shrugged, “I only have you.”
“You’ve never imposed on my time. Look at all the times I’ve shown up here uninvited.”
“You’ve never been uninvited, just sometimes I haven’t said it.”
“Thank you.” She looked at him then and they both smiled and seemed to relax a little.
“Were you really trying to find a man for me?”
“No! No, not a man, a life. If that had to include some other man - “
“You know what I mean.”
“Not exactly, but I think we’ve talked enough tonight. Could you take me home?”
“Look, why don’t you crash here tonight.”
Her eyebrow rose menacingly.
“Come on, you sleep better here right now. You can have the bed and I’ll sleep out here. You could use the rest.”
“I don’t know . . . “
“Come on, you know you can trust me.”
“That’s not it.” She said quickly, but knew that there was suddenly more color in her face.
Not fair; he was using the puppy dog face.
“You’ll drop me off on the way in tomorrow?”
His face lit up and he made an X across his heart. “Your toothbrush is in the bathroom and - “
“Yeah, from the last time. I just left it there, in case you ever needed it again. You know.”
She did know, but she wasn’t about to comment. “Fine. Don’t play the TV too loud.” She rose and looked down at him.
“I’ll be good.”
She turned, feeling the warmth in her face again. She definitely needed some rest. And he was right; a full night’s sleep would do wonders for her.
He woke, warm and rested, and felt the body move next to him. What the . . . ? “Scully?”
“Mmm, Mulder.” She squirmed a little, then opened her eyes. “Mulder? Oh my god!”
She was already rising from the couch, moving away from him. “How, how did I get out here?”
He sat up and grabbed the pillow to place in his lap. “I . . . I don’t know.”
“Oh my god.” She repeated, unable to say anything else.
“Did you . . . did you have the dream? Maybe you got scared or . . . “ How the hell could he have had her in his arms all night and not realize it? Shit!
She’d gone quiet and he looked up when he realized it. “Scully?” He watched her sink down onto the coffee table, thinking.
“I had the dream, but . . . but it was different. Missy and Emily were here. They, they took my hands and were leading me . . . “ Her face softened then, “they were leading me to a, a . . . I can’t describe it. It was . . . it was a life. It didn’t look the way I thought it would but it was exactly right.”
“And you ended up out here, with me?” He was watching her and saw her head come up, startled. She couldn’t have looked more stunned if he had shot her himself.
She rose then, moving away from him and he wanted to rip out his tongue. She’d looked happy for a moment there, remembering this particular dream. She looked rested too and . . . and she had fit perfectly against him here on this couch.
“Would you take me home?”
“Scully, don’t go like this. Look, nothing happened.”
She looked up then and he saw he had once again said exactly the wrong thing.
“Listen, Scully, let me get dressed and I’ll . . . I’ll take you home.”
She nodded, not looking at him. He passed her close enough to brush against her but she managed not to back away.
The ride to her place was made in tense silence. The fact that he parked and walked inside with her made her heart plunge. She couldn’t exactly slam the door in his face.
“Mulder, you’re going to be late for work.”
“Yeah, I am.”
She blinked at that. “Why don’t you go.”
“Scully, hold on.” He motioned to her couch and she reluctantly sat looking up at him. “I’ve been thinking about what you said. You dreamed that your sister and your daughter came to you at my place and led you to that life. And I got to wake up with you in my arms. I desperately want those two things to be connected.”
Scully stared at him. “You . . . you do?”
“Damn it Scully, yes! You asked if I was really trying to find another man for you. I will never willingly accept another man in your life.”
“I . . . I don’t - “
“We . . . we work together. We - “
“We get together at my apartment and watch bad movies and it’s kind of a life. You said so yourself. I can’t offer you a fence or a mortgage. I don’t know about the dog, but you said what you saw didn’t look like what you expected. Now that I can do, I can surprise you. I do it all the time.”
“Mulder - “
“Think about it. Think about what happened last night. Whether your sister and daughter actually came to you, or it was all in your mind, you came to me last night. You curled up next to me, and you . . . and we both slept like babies. I need you to concentrate on that.”
“I don’t - “
“Scully. If I promise not to go searching for dates for you, will you at least think about what a ‘life’ with me would look like?”
“I have a . . . a life with you, Mulder I want - “
“More? Tell me what that would look like if I was included.”
“You won’t be trying to fix me up?”
“I swear.” He tried hard to keep a straight face.
“I . . . I need some time.”
“We’ve had seven years.”
“Seven years of me trying not to think about a life with you.”
“You, you’ve thought about a life with me?”
“I spend thirty-six hours a day with you. How could I not think about a life with you?”
“And you dismissed it. You don’t want it.” He said somberly.
“You don’t want it! You’ve made it clear for years that your only priority is the work. You don’t want a life outside of the office. I’ve never made a secret of the fact that I wanted more.”
“Never with me.”
“You precluded that, from the beginning. Mulder, the only things that matter to you are Samantha and the X-files.”
“That was true. At one time that was true. But then they gave you to me. I fought that; I’ve fought it hard, but you go and get yourself abducted and you get cancer and you . . . you get shot. Hell, you insinuate yourself into every cell of my body. I woke up with you in my arms, and it felt so good.”
Her blush told him more than her words could have. He felt himself relax for the first time since she’d asked him to bring her home.
She was thinking about things now, like she’d never thought about them before. He could see it in her eyes. Her getting shot was a nightmare, for both of them, but maybe . . . maybe it could lead to the culmination of a dream.
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Disclaimer - Mulder, Scully, the Lone Gunman and Skinner all belong to Chris Carter, 10-13 and Fox. No infringement intended.