He looked up at the tap on his door. “Sir, Angie isn’t out here. Do you have a minute?”
Skinner nodded and she entered, closing the door behind her. “Have…have you heard from Agent Mulder today?”
question startled him; “I assumed…yes, I talked to him this morning - at 5
a.m.” He made a face then. “He said he was going up to Greenwich, to
clean out his mother’s house.”
”No.” Her shoulders drooped slightly at that. “He shouldn’t be . . . Sir, I would like to request some vacation time.”
Skinner glanced away and then back toward her. “Do you have any paperwork outstanding?”
“No, sir. We’re caught up.”
He ran his hand over his scalp. “I’ll see you next Monday.”
“Thank you, sir.” She turned back toward the door.
“Dana.” She stopped with her hand on the knob and turned to look at him. “If you need anything . . . ”
She gave him a sad smile and nodded, then let herself out. He sat staring at the door, his thoughts far away. After a long moment he roused himself, took a deep breath, and looked back down at the papers on his desk.
She pulled up to the house and parked. His car was in the driveway. She just looked at the house for a moment. She was never comfortable here. Coming here with him as soon as she gave him word of his mother’s death had been hard. Coming here alone to investigate later was even harder. But by far the worst experience here was when Mulder had been searching for answers. He’d accused the woman of infidelity, demanding to know if she had been unfaithful to Bill Mulder, and questioning his parentage.
She had slapped him, hard, across the face and run upstairs. He had just closed his eyes and taken it. She would never forget the look on his face. Then he had rushed out as well, stranding her there with his mother. She’d actually had to borrow the woman’s car to chase him down and had been too late to stop him from taking another treatment from that quack.
Scully took a deep breath and exited the car. She didn’t bother about her bag. She wasn’t entirely sure she’d be welcome, but it didn’t matter.
At the door she raised her hand to knock, but on impulse checked the knob. It was unlocked. She opened it quietly and stepped inside, pushing away memories of this place. She couldn’t hear anything; maybe he was napping - if he’d been up since before five . . .
She moved toward the room his mother had used as an office here on the ground floor and spotted him, a drawer pulled out of the desk and spread across the small coffee table. He looked totally overwhelmed and her heart went out to him.
“Mulder?” She spoke quietly, but he still jumped. When he focused on her she could see the relief flood his body and then be immediately shoved aside.
“Scully? What are you doing here?”
“You should have called me.”
“This - “ he waved his hand at the room, “this isn’t your responsibility. You didn’t have to - “
“I know. Would you like some company?”
He quietly nodded, though his eyes were more welcoming. “I’m having a hard time getting started.”
“I would be too. What if we start someplace a little easier? Maybe see what pieces of furniture you might want to keep. We could ‘stack’ it off to the side.
He managed a grin at the inside joke. It didn’t last. “Where would I put any furniture Scully? My apartment’s full.”
“Yes, for now. But you might not always live there. Are there any family pieces you might want to hold on to?”
“Scully, in order to have ‘family pieces’ you have to have a family.”
She pushed aside the inherent sadness of that comment. “What about furniture that your grandparents had? You might want to save them for your children.”
The look he shot her then was almost physical and she began to regret the course she had chosen.
“Scully, I don’t remember ever meeting my mother’s parents. If I did, I was just a baby. I know they were both gone before Samantha was born.”
“Oh, what about the Mulder side?”
“I remember my Grandmother Mulder. We visited her a couple of times a year, Christmas holidays and her birthday. She died when Samantha was about seven. She never knew about . . . Dad’s brother died when they were kids. Scully, it’s just not like your family.”
“But, hey if you see anything you like, I can get it for you at a great price.” He grinned now, beginning to warm up in both body and spirit just having her here.
She arched her eyebrow at him then, “Well, I’ll have to start appraising right away.”
Scully turned then to leave the room. “Where're you going?”
“Upstairs. I thought I might start in the bedrooms, boxing up linens, things like that. Hey, do I get to see your bedroom?”
He chuckled then, “Yeah. Why don’t we start there?” He led her up the stairs.
“How long did you live here Mulder?”
four years. The divorce was final when I was
fourteen. I moved to England at eighteen and
didn’t come home very often after that.” He
dropped the subject then, and she didn’t pursue it.
She knew he hadn’t visited the States but a couple of times during his
entire college years. He’d mentioned
that before. Now she was beginning to
He opened the door to what was obviously referred to as a ‘sewing room’. Ruffles and chintz covered the furniture. “Nice décor Mulder.”
“Thanks. And no, it did not look like this when I lived here. I think she waited until the plane actually left the ground to start redecorating.”
“Where’s your stuff?”
“The basement if she kept any of it.”
Again she made no comment. There was no evidence that the man had ever lived here. It was as though she had wiped him from every surface. Why had she burned the pictures when she decided to commit suicide? That made no sense. She could have left Mulder something.
“Do you have any boxes?”
“Yeah, I got a bunch of them. They’re in the garage. I’ll be right back.”
She smiled and nodded, but the smile slipped away as soon as he was out of sight. How could he have lived like this? Her own family, always underfoot, rowdy, in each other’s hair, hadn’t prepared her for this. The damage done to this man was deep. Would it have been different if Samantha hadn’t vanished? Well, at least they would have had each other.
The tear that escaped her eye surprised her and she wiped it away quickly so that he wouldn’t see. She turned toward the bed and began stripping it.
He returned with an armful of collapsed moving boxes and set one up for her. He took the other end of the bedspread and together they folded it and began packing things away.
The room was actually sparsely furnished, no picture frames, not much bric-a-brac. They had the room dismantled in about twenty minutes. It was Scully that opened the closet and spotted Mrs. Mulder’s winter clothes.
“Mulder, do you want to go through these?”
“No. Just put them in a box.” He turned away from the sight as she took an armful of clothing and laid them across the bare mattress.
There wasn’t even the pleasant smell of ‘Mom’ among these clothes. Scully couldn’t help but think about how she would have to do this some day in the future - the far distant future she hoped - for her own mother. She’d been in and out of her mother’s closet her whole life. The closet seemed like Maggie Scully, her perfume now permanently embedded in the fabric. Here the smell was of mothballs and age. There was nothing here to provoke a smile or even a pleasant memory.
Scully closed her eyes for a moment to forestall another inadvertent tear. When she opened her eyes to begin folding the clothes she realized he was watching her.
“It’s okay Scully.”
“Sorry. I came up here to be a help.”
“You are. Believe me.”
She nodded rather than speak and began taking the clothing off of the hangers.
Mulder disassembled the bed, leaning the frame and mattress against the wall. “Well, that’s one down. Getting hungry, Scully? I could order something.”
“I think we should go out. Just get out of the house for a little while.”
“Okay.” Whatever she wanted; she was better at looking after both of them anyway.
They used her car, since it was on the street and had a late lunch at a coffee shop not far from the house. A table of women nearly ready to leave watched them enter and order.
Once the waitress was gone, the four of them stood and approached Mulder. “Aren’t you Fox?”
“Uh, yes ma’am.” He stood.
“We were awfully sorry to hear about your mother. We weren’t able to attend the funeral, down in North Carolina, but we wanted you to know we are going to miss her.”
“Th-thank you.” This was a first. There had been no mourners in North Carolina. Just the graveside service with he and Scully in attendance.
They turned and looked pointedly at Scully. “This is Dana Scully, my partner.”
The smiles grew a little tighter and the women nodded as one. Scully lifted her hand to shake with the nearest woman and after a slight hesitation the older woman accepted the proffered hand.
“Well, we don’t want to disturb you, Fox. I assume you’re here about her things. We’re just glad we had the chance to speak.” All of the women made polite goodbyes to Mulder and nodded to Scully, then left the restaurant.
Mulder looked over amused at Scully, who was trying not to show her outrage. She saw him struggling not to laugh and it did not help her mood. “What the hell did your mother say about me?” She whispered to him, looking around.
“I don’t know.”
“Mulder, did you see the way they looked at me?”
“I think they were jealous.”
She actually snorted, which didn’t hurt his amusement at all. “I never did anything to your mother.”
“Scully, if it helps, neither did I, except be born.” He shrugged.
That brought her to a standstill. He was right; it didn’t matter. The woman was dead; Tina had spent her life being just like this. She was here to support Mulder and that was the bottom line. She reached out and took his hand. “Skinner gave me the whole week, same as you. Why don’t we finish this up as quickly as we can and maybe have some time left over?”
“Um, what did you have in mind, Agent Scully?”
“I’ll think of something.”
Before he could respond, the food was served and he ate with a lot more enthusiasm than he had expected. She smiled, seeing him enjoy the food. She was very glad she had come.
Everything upstairs had been packed up with the major exception of his mother's bedroom. They had made a conscious decision to hold that until tomorrow morning when they were fresh.
“Where are you staying Mulder?”
“Oh, I…I hadn’t thought about it. I guess I was going to sleep on the couch downstairs.”
She shook her head. “No. It’s not that late, let’s go find a motel and maybe watch a movie or something. Not here.”
He nodded, more than ready to leave this place.
“Where’s your stuff?”
“Still in the car.”
“Mine too. Let’s take my car. That way the neighbors will see me leave and not worry about your virtue.”
“Damn Scully, couldn’t you let me have just a little bit of a reputation? Other than the one I have in DC, that is.”
“Dream on Agent. Come on, I’d like a shower before dinner.” She held up her finger to forestall the comment she saw coming.
After loading his things into her trunk, he drove her car to a motel close by and checked them in. He talked her into having a pizza delivered while she showered.
He’d changed as well when she knocked on the door of his room a little while later. He grinned down at her, her damp hair was pulled back, and tendrils had started to curl around her face. He liked the curl, but she always seemed to want to straighten it for work.
“Pizza here yet?” She padded in, barefoot, wearing a spaghetti strap t-shirt and jogging pants.
“Yeah. You’re just in time to not have to pay.”
She grinned. “I thought I was going to have to wait forever until I heard him leave.”
He tried to glare at her, but it didn’t work. She plopped down on the bed, Indian-style and opened the box. “No mushrooms?”
“I paid, I ordered.” He took the largest slice and seated himself on the other side of the box. They ate in a comfortable silence for a while, then she turned toward the TV.
"What did you decide on?"
"I forgot to look." He reached for the remote. After some friendly bickering while they flipped through the available channels, they decided on Caddy Shack once again. They settled back against the headboard.
She woke with a gasp the next morning, his body surrounding hers, "Oh my god."
That brought him awake and his arms involuntarily tightened around her as he realized what was going on. "Shit. Scully, I'm sorry. Look, we're both still dressed and . . . "
That caused her to glance down and her face grew warm. That had to be painful.
"Scully, please, I am sorry."
"You have nothing to apologize for. This is your room. I'll, uh, I'll see you in a little while."
"Yeah. Yeah, I'll come get you for breakfast."
She nodded and kept her back to him. Looking at him right now would be a very negative thing. She opened the door and let herself out.
The shower gave her too much time to think about waking up this morning. She'd only had a couple of beers, and yes she had worked hard, but how the hell could she have just fallen asleep in the man's arms? And what was she going to say to him when she saw him?
She was dressed in jeans and t-shirt when he knocked. She took a deep breath and opened the door.
He stood there, grinning a little sheepishly. "Morning, Agent Scully. Sleep okay?" His eyes were dancing now.
She actually chuckled. "Yeah, I slept okay."
"Don't push it Mulder."
He nodded and stepped back to let her out. "Any thoughts on breakfast?"
"I'm for it. Especially coffee." He nodded at that. His hand automatically came up to touch her back. As soon as he realized it, he glanced down at her for permission.
She smiled up at him. "No harm, no foul." His smile grew and he turned her toward the coffee shop next door.
Once back at the house, the mood darkened slightly, but they headed directly for Mrs. Mulder's room. Once this was behind them, the rest of the things in the house should be just 'things'.
Again they stripped the bed first, then she moved into the closet to begin boxing up the clothes and he moved to the tall dresser. He was surprised at the items he found.
She realized he had grown quiet and looked for him. "Mulder?"
"Yeah, I'm here." He was seated on the bed, looking at papers he had assembled.
"I thought ...was that stuff in the dresser?"
"Yeah." He looked up. "It's old, Samantha's immunization record, her report cards."
"Why don't I get you a box?"
"There's no need . . . I don't need to keep these things."
"Okay. But you don't have to throw them away right now. Why don't you put them aside for now? We can look through them later."
He nodded and watched as she left the room. When she returned, she put the information in the box and set it aside, then pulled the next drawer open. Sweaters, okay this should be safe enough.
"Mulder, why don't you finish this dresser and I'll finish up the closet. We can go through the bureau together."
He looked up, away from the box and for some reason flashed on her in his arms this morning. He felt just as safe. "That's a good idea. Thanks."
She retreated to the closet and hurried to finish, taking a lot less care with folding the remaining clothing. That find had thrown him, who knew what else might be hidden in the room. Besides, how comfortable would he be with going through his mother's lingerie?
"Scully? How're you doing?"
"I could use another box, for the shoes. Would you get one for me?"
"Sure, anything to drink?"
"Yeah, whatever you have." She heard him leave and came out into the room. He hadn't gone near the bureau. Apparently he felt the same way.
When he returned with the box, he joined her in the closet and tossed the shoes into the box as she finished up. He seemed to want to be beside her now, wanting her to lead the process and it was making her feel quite warm.
When the closet was empty, he still seemed quite reluctant to move toward the bureau. "Why don't you drag that box over here, Mulder? It's not quite full."
He nodded, but she noticed he didn't speak. She was watching him now. He was beginning to break down, he seemed shaky somehow.
"Mulder, do you want to take a break?"
"No. No, let's get this done, okay?"
She nodded and pulled the box just a little closer. All of these things were going to Salvation Army; they didn't have to be wrinkle free. She grabbed up a handful of lingerie and after a quick glance to ensure there were no papers in the mix, stuffed it down in the box.
She made very short work of these drawers, making snap decisions on items to go in the box and into the trash. Finding no further surprises his breathing was back to normal now; and she looked up and smiled.
She dragged the trash out into the hall and when she returned he was seated on the bare mattress, with his mother's jewelry box beside him.
"I found that 'family' item you were talking about."
"Look." He held out his hand. In it was an emerald ring with a diamond on each side. "It was my Grandmother Mulder's. She left it to Samantha when she died. Samantha was the only granddaughter."
"It's beautiful." She didn't attempt to touch it, the way he was holding it, it did mean something to him.
He looked up at her, deep into her eyes. "I'd . . . I'd like you to have it."
He could see the shock on her face. He'd caught her totally off guard. "I'm not kidding Scully. Please." He reached for her hand and slipped it on her ring finger. It was only a tiny bit too big. "It looks good on you."
"Mulder, I can't . . . It's too valuable."
"Not nearly as valuable as you are."
What? What had he said? She looked down and realized he had slipped it on her left hand. That was . . . he'd just picked the hand closest to him, without thinking.
"Please accept it."
"Mulder, you should keep this. It's from your grandmother."
"I'm the last Mulder, Scully. I don't care about the rest of the stuff, but I remember Samantha wearing this. It was too big, and she only got to play with it, but she loved it. It made her feel so grown up and . . . and pretty."
She was speechless. He wanted her to have this? "I . . . Mulder, I'll wear your ring, but you have to promise me that if you ever want it back, you'll tell me."
He nodded slightly. "I won't."
After a long moment he turned back to the box. "There's lots of stuff here; is there anything you'd like?"
"Mulder, I didn't come here - "
"I know that. But the Salvation Army might not know how to handle this."
"Mulder, I don't know if you need the money, but you really should have this stuff appraised and sell it, along with some of the furniture."
"I don't know if I can deal with that." He ran a hand through his hair and looked down at the jewelry again.
"Why don't I make a couple of calls?"
"You shouldn't go to the trouble."
She rose from the bed and let a finger lightly touch his cheek. "It's not any trouble." She glanced over at the phone, but the phone book was downstairs. She took the box of papers from the dresser and headed downstairs. This stuff should be with the desk anyway.
As she was reaching for the book, she caught sight of the ring again. What was she supposed to think of this? Well, nothing right now. Later, this wasn't something she could dwell on right now.
*****Cleaning Out Old Demons 2
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Mulder, Scully, the Lone Gunman and Skinner all belong to Chris Carter, 10-13 and Fox. No infringement intended.