Mulder woke feeling extremely rested. It took only a second to remember where he was this time and then realized the warm bundle against him was Scully. Scully? In here? When had that happened? She squirmed in closer to him. Her warm breath on his chest made his physical response immediate. He shifted slightly to decrease the pressure and possibly hide his embarrassment, but she shifted with him, hiking her leg to increase the contact. Oh god.
"Scully?" That was stupid, he was here because she couldnít hear. He brushed her hair back and ran a finger down her nose. She protested and hid her face in his chest. Seconds later her head came up, eyes wide.
"Itís okay, Scully." He made sure she could see his face. "Did you sleep well?"
She blushed as she realized how well she had slept and how entangled they had become in the process. She withdrew to her side of the bed, looking around the room as though for escape.
He turned her head back towards him. "It was the best nightís sleep I ever remember. Thank you."
She managed to smile then, and slipped out of bed to return to her own room, unable to continue looking into those twinkling eyes any longer.
He left the bathroom to her and headed downstairs for some coffee. Mrs. Scully was already up and fixing breakfast. She turned and smiled as he came in.
"Did you sleep well, Fox?" She watched the color rise on his face. "Itís okay. I went to check on her this morning."
"I, uh, Mrs. Scully. . . "
"I said it was okay, Fox. Just promise me you wonít hurt her."
"Never." It sounded like a solemn vow coming from him. She nodded and kissed his cheek.
"I wasnít worried. You want to eat first, or shower first?"
"Your cooking? Eat, always."
She smiled and took the eggs from the refrigerator. He turned as Scully walked in the kitchen and turned so that Mrs. Scully could not read his lips.
Scully looked at him and quickly away, he checked that Mrs. Scully wasnít watching, which caught her attention. He mouthed the word "Busted". She glanced over at her mother and her eyes widened as her color rose. "Itís okay." He stepped to block her from Mrs. Scullyís view. "Do you understand? Itís okay."
She nodded and took a deep breath. It could get very interesting living with both her mother and Mulder.
Mulder accompanied Scully and her mother to the audiologist that afternoon. Following the exam they were allowed in to listen to the doctorís prognosis.
"First, I am very pleased with the healing that has already taken place, Dr. Scully. An injury such as you sustained can be quite traumatic, but at your age and overall health, Iím very optimistic. I wouldnít be surprised if you begin having a ringing in your ears shortly. It will get annoying, but remember it is part of the healing process.
"Iím sure you have questions. Please, go ahead."
Mulder hung back, letting Scully ask the questions for the most part, wincing inside at the discussion of hearing aids and other hopefully temporary aids. When they all rose at the end of the meeting, Mulder waited until they were out of the office and turned to the doctor.
"Bottom line, how long before she can hear again?"
"At the present rate of healing, I would be surprised if she doesnít have at least 90% hearing back within 12 months."
Mulderís mouth fell open, "A year?"
"I thought you understood, Agent Mulder. It could be less, and with her forensic background, she could be working during that time. Autopsies and lab work should not be affected as long as the people around her are aware of her circumstance."
"But no field work?"
"Well, Agent Mulder, at her present capacity driving is out, meetings would be difficult if not impossible, and interrogating suspects, well. . ." He watched the tall man in front of him deflate. "She doesnít need to see this from you."
"She wonít." He stated shortly. "Thank you for your honesty."
"Give me a call if you have any questions. Sheís going to need to be challenged, if you could manage to retain her as your partner it could be a big help to her."
"I wonít have any other partner. Iíll be in touch." The man nodded and shook his hand. Heíd heard about this man since heíd started working for the Bureau. He didnít look especially spooky to him, just worried about this woman. But he also looked determined. She was in good hands.
Mulder didnít feel nearly as confident. How was he supposed to function without her beside him for a year? Okay, she could still do the investigative work, computers, labs, but he needed her to bounce ideas off, tell him he was crazy, and try to keep him sane. Well, heíd have to figure out a way. More email, of course, one of those phones with the special attachment. He needed to relax. She shouldnít see him like this.
He was a selfish shit to be thinking like this anyway. He was damn lucky she was even alive. He had no room to bitch. And maybe, just maybe, sheíd come to his room again tonight.
Mrs. Scully again retired before them. Scully herself wasnít interested in the television, since she really couldnít follow it anyway and had opted for a book, but had stayed up with Mulder and was now propped up against him reading with his arm casually around her.
She was grateful for the contact, it kept her from looking up constantly to see if he were still there. Not that she doubted he would be, but the oppressive quiet was unnerving.
His arm around her felt anything but casual to him. He was still reeling with relief that she had allowed it. His mind wasnít really on the TV either, but rather how comfortable it felt sitting here like this, as though it had always been this way.
She winced beside him and he looked down quickly. "Scully?" He bent to see into her face.
"Itís okay. My ears crackled when I yawned."
"Thatís a good sign, isnít it?" He was watching her anxiously.
"I donít know, but I think Iíll be getting a new specialty to go with pathology over the next few months."
"If youíre yawning shouldnít you be going to bed?" He grinned and turned it into a leer. "Planning to keep me warm tonight?"
"Mulder." She blushed again, "about last night. . . "
"Why did you come in there?" His face was serious now, curious but not pushing.
"I had a bad dream and I woke up. I got a sip of water and saw your light was on, so I decided to check on you and, I donít know for sure what happened then. My judgment vanished and I. . . Iím sorry Mulder."
"Are you?" His face was sober now, waiting anxiously for her next words. She could read his face easier than his lips; he was worried about this, and her.
"I am and Iím not Mulder. I canít deny how nice it was, but I had no business being in there, imposing myself on you like that." Her face was equally sober now. "I guess Iím still not back to normal from. . . "
"Scully," his fingers under her chin ensured that she look at him now, "it was no imposition, strike that from your mind completely. Iím not even sure we could make a case for inappropriate. Nothing happened, except we both got the rest we needed. That shouldnít be a negative. And as much as Iíd like for things to move in that direction, youíre still recovering."
Her lips parted and her eyes widened. As much as he would like? Since when?
He looked deeply into her eyes, he couldnít even smile.
"Surely you know those five hours were the longest of my life. I still havenít
forgiven myself for walking away from you."
"Mulder, you couldnít have known Ė "
"That doesnít matter, Scully. I took for granted that you would follow me out of the building when you were through and weíd get in the car together and drive away. When I picked myself up and saw what was left of that building. . . " He shuddered and his arm tightened around her.
"It made me realize how much I just assume youíre going to be in my life. I donít know where things will go with us, I donít know if you want them to go anywhere, but those five hours gave me a lot of time to think." He chuckled a little, "If your mother hadnít invited me to stay here, I would have broken in and hopefully woken up just where I did this morning."
She hadnít looked away from his face, but she seemed to be hearing this through her heart. She was afraid to respond.
He swallowed and began to lose his nerve as she continued to just look at him. "Scully? Have I gone that far over the line?"
She looked down and he felt his heart sink into the pit of his stomach. The small smile that was tugging at her lips when she did look up caused his lungs to resume functioning. "Not as far as I went last night."
"Dare I say youíre always welcome in my bed?" She blushed as she read those words from his lips. He found that both of his arms were around her now, caressing her back and shoulders, but still keeping his distance from her lips. That was beginning to take a superhuman effort on his part. It was a good thing Mrs. Scully trusted him, that was about the only thing that was keeping him from throwing her down on the couch and grinding himself into her.
"Uh, Scully. Maybe you better go on to bed now." He forced his arms away from her and watched the frown grow on her face. "This is your motherís house, Scully. And weíre. . . I mean. . . "
"Hey! Iím trying to be good here and youíre not helping." He actually saw the thought flit through her head, so he answered, "Very good, now go before I have to spank you."
He almost lost it at the gleam in her eye. Instead he backed up even farther from her on the couch. "Go Ė To Ė Bed." She should be able to read that easily enough.
She managed to bring her smile under control and rose from the couch. "Good night Mulder. Sweet dreams." She turned from him and left the room.
"Oh, theyíre gonna be sweet tonight." He breathed mostly to himself as he watched her walk away. There was no way he was going to bed now. Heíd just lay there forever and there wasnít a TV in the room. He desperately needed to calm down before trying to sleep. Maybe it was a good thing Mrs. Scully didnít have any adult channels on her cable.
Eventually he decided to head on to bed. Passing her room he stopped and almost touched the doorknob before deciding that was not a good idea. He ducked into the bathroom between their rooms and got ready for bed, stripping down to his shorts. He flipped off the light and opened the door to his own room, tossing his clothes in the general direction of the chair he knew was over there and headed for the bed. He crawled in, he still wasnít really sleepy, but he might as well try. He turned over and felt her move toward him.
Scully? She was here, no hallucination. She was asleep, sheíd been waiting here for him? Donít ask questions Mulder, just accept that she wants you close and be here. He pulled her into a perfect spoon and let her quiet breathing lull him into sleep.
She wasnít there when he woke the next morning and for just a moment the disappointment held him immobile. He managed to shake that off and headed for the shower. He found her alone in the kitchen and hit her immediately with the puppy dog look. He didnít have to say a word, and she burst out laughing. He leaned back and enjoyed the sight.
"Donít push it buddy." She warned and stood to get him a cup of coffee. He waved her back into the chair and got his own, refilling hers.
"Are you sure youíre okay with me going to work today?" He made sure she was watching him.
"I may be a little jealous, but Iíll be okay. Email me with anything juicy they give you."
"Give me? Yeah, right. They probably wonít let me out of the building without you there to reel me in. And the office is gonna be awfully lonely." He pouted.
"Good. Itíll make you want to hurry home faster." She turned to look at the clock and he took her hand causing her to look back at him.
She ducked her head and smiled, then looked back at him. "Yeah, home."
It was a long, frustrating day of paperwork backlogs and the only enjoyment he got was the occasional email from her keeping his morale up. He was more than anxious to head "home" when the time came.
They had settled into a routine now, Mrs. Scully cooking, Mulder cleaning while Scully looked on with advice on how and where things went. Sheíd tried to help at first but he wouldnít allow it, advising her that sheíd get all the work later when she was back up to speed.
That night they went to bed together, no pretext of hiding it. He didnít know exactly what she and her mother had discussed but apparently things had been decided without him and that was fine.
It all went to hell the next morning when they emerged from his room into the hall to find Bill Scully standing there. The look of shocked surprise on his face was rapidly replaced with a murderous rage and without thinking Scully stepped between the two men, her back to Mulder, obviously ready to defend him physically if necessary.
She decided it was just as well she couldnít hear what was being said when Mrs. Scully appeared in the hallway and took Billís arm, trying to lead him away.
Scully turned then to look at Mulder. He wasnít speaking, but his face was white and hard. He refused to look her in the eye, turning instead back toward the room they had shared. She caught his arm, "Mulder?"
He refused to turn back, just shaking his head and gently disengaging his arm. Heíd heard every word Bill had spat at him.
She wanted to follow him, but he seemed to want to be alone for a few minutes, and she had plenty to say to Bill. She was shaking with rage when she got to the kitchen. Without attempting to communicate she was in front of Bill. He looked down at her, just as angry. With no hesitation Scullyís hand connected with his face. His eyes widened as he fell back, staggering from the blow.
"Scully, no!" Mulder had raced down the stairs realizing her intent. Not that he didnít want to ask Bill to step outside himself, but he was a guest here. Causing this kind of conflict in the family would only do harm to everyone.
"What did you say?" She turned to Mulder, her face showing her disbelief.
"Donít fight with Bill, Scully. Please, I canít come between Ė "
"I heard you." Both of them had forgotten anyone else was in the room. "I heard you!" Now she was moving toward him, though he was too stunned to move. She threw herself into his arms and they closed around her, lifting her into the air and spinning her around.
"Can you really hear me?" She nodded against his chest.
"Dana! Oh Sweetheart, you can hear?" Her mother was finally able to move. Scully didnít react, remaining in Mulderís protective grip.
Bill continued to smolder, seeing her in that assholeís embrace while ignoring their mother. "Dana, what the hell is wrong with you?" He took a step toward her and Mulderís arms tightened around her.
She looked up to see what had caused his tenseness. "Mulder?"
"Why donít you spend a little time with your mother. Bill and I can clear things up between us."
"Bill, Fox, I will not tolerate the two of you fighting. We all love Dana, we should be celebrating."
"Mom?" They turned to look at her. "Say that again."
"Dana, whatís wrong?" Her mother had her hand on her arm now.
"I canít. . . I canít hear you. Was it just a fluke?"
"Scully donít worry." Mulder ran his hand over her hair and she looked up at him.
"I can hear you." Her own voice was almost too low to hear.
"Scully? What are you . . . ?" He looked up at Mrs. Scully at a total loss.
"Dana, can you hear me?" Scully shook her head, tears beginning to form in her eyes. They all turned toward Bill.
"This is ridiculous. If she can hear Mulder she can Ė"
Mulder had turned from him, watching her. She shook her head, a tear escaping her eye. He pulled her back against him. "We need to call the doctor."
"What do we tell him, Mulder? That your voice is the only sound I can hear? Heíll think Iím insane."
"Scully, if my voice is the only one you can hear right now, I donít care what he thinks. The rest will return, just like he said. Think scientifically, maybe the tenor of my voice, the pitch, hell I donít know . . . but you can hear it. And we know my voice is different from everyone elseís. You and I have done enough voice prints to know that."
She nodded; he could see the wheels turning. Sheíd find a scientific explanation even if there wasnít one. He looked back at Maggie.
"Iíll call." She was already searching for the doctorís card in her purse. Mulder didnít bother to look over at Bill, he could feel the steam coming from his ears.
Okay it was unfortunate that theyíd walked out of the bedroom together at just that instant, but they werenít teenagers and they werenít trying to hide anything from Mrs. Scully. He shoved Bill forcefully from his mind. Later, think about the SOB later.
A new battery of tests was run. The doctor went from being totally skeptical to a dawning realization that she really could hear this manís voice. She could even hear recordings of his voice, but no one else. The thought crossed his mind that she was hearing him through her heart Ė heíd heard the stories about this pair Ė but he shoved that thought away. It wasnít logical, it wasnít even sane.
In any case, he couldnít wait to talk to some colleagues. He promised to review the test results as soon as possible and get back to them.
Scully left the office this time not sure whether to be more frustrated or thrilled about her progress. Bill refused to even travel back to his motherís house with them, choosing instead to take a cab. Mrs. Scully decided not to try and coax a different decision from him. She had been stunned at his outrage over what he had seen this morning. She knew enough to know that Bill didnít like Fox, but sheíd had no inkling that the feelings ran this deep, that he actually hated Fox. That scared her. Her family was so important to her and this kind of rift in the family might never heal.
Dana loved Fox and Fox . . . well sheíd witnessed Fox without her. He wasnít whole without her and he was finally beginning to allow himself to know that. Watching them together was a joy and she couldnít allow Bill to spoil that for her or them.
Sheíd have to try to talk to Bill, make him understand that this was Danaís choice and it hadnít been made to hurt him.
Once home Mulder tried to get Scully to rest, but she was too keyed up. After a lengthy conversation with Skinner he joined her in the living room. "Scully?" She turned towards him immediately. "I think I should stay at my place tonight."
"Is that what you want?"
"No, but I think Ė "
"Itís not what I want either. Bill is not my father. I wonít let his opinions, mistaken opinions, influence my decisions. Mulder, I . . . I need you to stay."
He couldnít hide his happiness at statement. Had she ever said that to him before? "Mulder," she couldnít help but smile back at him, "the only thing I wanted when I was trapped in that building was to hear your voice. I have that and no one is going to take it from me. I can work now, with you. I want to move on."
So did he. He needed to fight her a little about going back to work too soon, and he had to try to make some sort of peace with Bill. But she could hear his voice Ė his, and the rest would come back. He knew that now. And they were truly together.