Chance Encounters (PG)
He came out of the men’s room and headed back for the bar. The shade of red caught his eye – that particular shade always did. But this time it was her. Scully was smiling up at the blond man hovering over her. He had his arm around her and as Mulder watched, hugged her to him. Mulder felt his whole body stiffen at the sight. Who was this man hugging his – that drew him up short. His what? Partner? Not woman - Scully. His Scully.
He watched the man seat her in a booth at the far end of the bar, her back to him. Mulder resumed his seat at the bar, unable to look away. The man was delighted to be in her presence. Well, what man wouldn’t be? She seemed just as happy though. Who was this man? He didn’t remember her mentioning seeing anyone.
After a few moments the man rose, kissed her, and headed toward Mulder. He felt his hand twitch and his shoulder stiffen. He’d kissed her. Just kissed her as though it were the most natural, normal thing in the world. Mulder managed to drop his eyes for a second as the man passed him, then looked up again to see her staring at him.
There was more color in her face than normal. Was she blushing? Turned on? Embarrassed at being caught? Caught? He couldn’t move, his eyes locked on hers. She rose from the booth and came toward him. If he’d been able to move he would have. He’d have bolted from the bar – did she think he’d followed her? Spied on her?
"Mulder? I didn’t see you when we came in."
"Uh, yeah I was in . . . " He waved vaguely in the direction of the men’s room. She nodded. "Didn’t know you had a date tonight." It wasn’t a question, it wasn’t even an accusation but she stiffened nevertheless – something about his body language maybe.
"Yeah, Jessie’s an old friend."
"Jessie?" He pursed his lips, waiting for her answer, just as though she owed him one.
"Jessie Clark. We knew each other in school."
He nodded, not sure what to say. "Well, uh, you better get back before he sees you talking to another man. He might be less comfortable kissing you." Why the hell had he said that?
She stiffened, what was wrong with him? Was he drunk? Her eyes asked the question but he looked away. "Well I, I’ll see you Monday Mulder."
"Yeah." He turned back to his drink and after a moment she turned as well and returned to the booth. When he finally looked in that direction again they were gone.
Well, he’d made an ass of himself. He paid his bar bill and rose from the stool.
She let herself into his apartment. She’d knocked twice and gotten no response. He’d been acting so weird at the bar she needed to make sure he was okay.
She spotted him sitting on the couch, staring in the direction of the television, but it wasn’t on. "Mulder?"
He jumped at the sound and started to rise from his seat. "I didn’t mean to startle you." She glanced at the coffee table; there was a bottle on it and a glass. He’d continued drinking here. That wasn’t like him at all.
"What are you doing here?"
"I wanted to check on you. You didn’t seem yourself earlier."
"I’m fine. Isn’t Jessie upset that you ended your date so early?"
"What are you – "
"Who is this Jessie anyway? I don’t remember you mentioning him."
She watched him approach her, her anger at his attitude growing. She shouldn’t have come here. "You’re not my father, Mulder."
"Would Ahab not approve?"
Something about his tone shot clear through her. Maybe it was his use of the word Ahab. Whatever, she couldn’t stop herself. The palm of her hand connected sharply with his face. She was immediately appalled though she tried to hide it. What the hell was wrong with both of them tonight?
Mulder seemed to grow in front of her, looming over her suddenly, making her feel small, vulnerable. He took her shoulders in his hands and kissed her. It took a second for the action to register in her brain, then she was struggling against him, fighting to break free.
He released her abruptly and stepped back, then had to reach out to steady her. She stared at him, mouth open. "Scully, I’m sorry. I . . ." He took another step away from her.
"What’s going on?" Her voice shook slightly.
"Who is Jessie?"
"An old friend from medical school. We went out a few times."
"A few times?"
"He’s a friend Mulder. What are you . . .?"
He couldn’t look at her. He glanced longingly at the bottle on his table for a second. "I think, oh hell, I was jealous Scully." His shoulders slumped, he must be more drunk than he thought to have confessed that to her.
"Jealous? What . . . " She was at a total loss for words.
"It’s late Scully. You should go home."
She nodded but made no move to leave. He returned to the couch and slumped down in the corner, staring again in the direction of the TV.
After a moment she sat on the couch as well, as far from him as she could. "Scully?" He turned to look at her. How was he supposed to drink himself into a stupor to try to forget what a fool he’d made of himself, with her here? If he couldn’t drink . . . "Where is Jessie?"
She didn’t look at him, "I took him to the airport."
"Airport?" Now he turned completely toward her.
"He was just in DC for a conference. He lives in Denver." She still hadn’t turned to face him. Shit! He’d made an absolute fool of himself over a chance encounter with her and an old friend.
"Scully, I – "
"Jealous? What did he do?"
"He was holding you. He kissed you. I nearly drew my gun."
She turned finally, startled at that. "Your gun?" He nodded forlornly and dropped his face into his hands. "I don’t understand."
"Go home Scully. Do what I’m going to do, try desperately to forget this night every happened." She still didn’t make a move to leave. Finally he stood himself and took the bottle and glass into the kitchen. Once there he emptied the rest of the bottle down the sink. He stayed, washing the glass and then the other dishes that had accumulated. Maybe she’d be gone when he came out and he wouldn’t have to face her – at least not yet.
Hell, it was his apartment; eventually he would have to return to the living room. She hadn’t left. What was she doing? He had to check it out and he didn’t want her to catch him peeking around the corner or something. Shit.
He headed back. Yeah, she was still there. In fact . . . she seemed to be asleep. He approached the couch cautiously. She was asleep; she’d pulled the afghan down and over her. She was planning to spend the night?
"Scully? If you want to stay, take the bed."
"Um, no." She snuggled down into the couch. "Mulder’s couch."
Mulder’s couch? She wanted to sleep here? That seemed to take the rest of his strength from him. Rather than head for the bed himself, he sank onto the couch, at the far end where she didn’t reach. She seemed to sense him and stretched out, bringing her feet to meet his thigh.
She woke to the feel of his weight upon her. Had she fallen asleep in Mulder’s apartment? Well, obviously she had, she was on his couch. She’d always felt comfortable on it, but this was the first time she’d shared it. That made it even more comfortable.
He’d been jealous last night. Jealous of Jessie of all people! Okay, Jessie had hugged her, even kissed her. They had always been close. Obviously Mulder hadn’t picked up on the fact that Jessie was gay. That wasn’t like Mulder, he was usually very intuitive about people. Had the sight of Jessie kissing her, holding her, been that distracting? She couldn’t help but smile. It didn’t matter in the long run, but it was nice to know on a feminine level that he was capable of being distracted by her. He seemed to sense her emotions, snuggling in closer to her, nuzzling her neck, but not waking.
She’d learned a lot over the last few hours. More than she had thought possible, about both of them. Who would have thought an unplanned meeting like last night could reveal so much about . . . about things neither were willing to face yet. But they would, they had to now.