Heíd been reluctant to leave her last night. Heíd wanted to offer to stay, but wasnít sure it was appropriate or even if she wanted it.
He knew for sure it had been a mistake when he got to the office the next morning and found her message. She was going to take a couple of days. He supposed he wasnít really surprised at that, but the fact that sheíd left the message at 3:20 a.m. upset him. Sheíd made sure she called when he wouldnít be here to get the message in person, and she hadnít called his apartment. She knew he was home and that no hour was too late to call him.
Mulder shook his head; okay she was upset. That was understandable. But he didnít think she should be alone. Of course this was Scully. He glanced at his watch. He had to call; he had to make sure she was . . . she was okay, but then heíd give her space.
She didnít answer, so he had to leave her a message. Had she gone out of town? She did know he was here for her, surely she did. A couple of days . . . okay, he could do that.
Well, heíd thought he could. He did try, but found himself calling her number, even when he didnít leave a message. He was actually a little embarrassed at the number of messages heíd already left, but hell, he was worried about her.
When she didnít appear on the third morning, heíd had enough. Even if she had gone out of town, she should have called. He grabbed his jacket from the back of his chair and headed out.
He was surprised to see her car, but relieved as well. He trotted to her door and knocked. There was no response. He knocked again, harder this time.
He heard the deadbolt disengage and felt a flood of relief
"Mulder." She stood in the doorway, not inviting him in.
"Hi, uh . . . How you doing Scully?"
He winced slightly. "Good. Iím glad. Uh, could I come in?"
She took a moment to think about it, then nodded finally. She stepped aside and he entered, but stopped just inside and turned to watch as she closed the door.
"Scully, I thought, uh, you said you were taking a couple of days."
"Well . . . well I expected you in today."
She looked away, "Youíre right, I should have come in."
"No, thatís not what I meant. If you need more time . . . I just needed to hear from you. I need to know youíre okay."
"I said I was fine."
He could feel his temper beginning to rise. "Scully, youíve been away for awhile, I wanted to check on you. I wanted to make sure . . . Scully, I was worried about you."
"Thereís no need - "
"No need? Are you serious Scully?"
"Mulder, maybe you should go. Youíve check on me, Iím obviously fine - "
"Youíre obviously anything but fine." His voice rose.
She looked at him defiantly. "I think you should go. Iíll be in tomorrow morning."
He blinked at that, she was asking him to leave? "Thatís it, you want me to go?"
"I think it would be best."
"Best? Best for who? Best so that you can throw up another wall between us?"
She turned from him and his hand shot out to take hold of her arm. She didnít fight him; she just froze in place.
The Ice Queen had reasserted herself.
"I gave you time, against my better judgment, time alone. I knew you were hurting. I wanted to be here for you, but I gave you what you asked for. Did it ever occur to you that I might be hurting too?"
She glanced up and quickly away.
"Yeah, Scully, me too. When I agreed to this, I told you I didnít want it to come between us. This is what I was talking about."
"It didnít work, itís history now."
"History? You stayed home to mourn alone for history?"
"I wasnít - "
"Mourning? Well, I can tell you, I was. I wanted that baby. I wanted a child with you."
Now she was staring at him, her mouth opened slightly in shock.
"What? You thought I was just going to loan you some DNA and disappear back into the basement? I agreed to father your child. I thought that you asked me because you had feelings for me, not because Iím 6í1" or still have my hair. I guess I was wrong, I guess I was wrong about a lot of things."
He turned then and moved toward the door. He had it open before she spoke.
His shouldersí tensed, but he stopped, his back to her.
"Donít . . . could you stay a minute?"
"Why? Havenít you used me enough?" Even he cringed at the bitterness in his voice, but hell did she really think he had made the decision that lightly? Had it not occurred to her that he wanted to be part . . .
She had moved around him now and he could see her pale face and noted that she was trembling.
"Mulder, I . . . I didnít think you - "
"And you didnít ask, did you? You just assumed I had already done my part and you moved on. Iím supposed to be the loner, Scully. But itís not me, itís you, itís always been you keeping your distance, making sure I didnít get too close. Well fine, Scully. But you remember that for a little while, my sperm, my DNA, hell my child was in your body. If you didnít want to get closer, then . . . "
He realized her trembling had increased to shaking now and it was like a splash of cold water in his face. What the hell was he doing? "Scully, I . . . " She looked like she was going to faint. His arms went around her of their own will and he held her against him. She didnít reciprocate; her hands were fisted around his lapels.
"Scully, you need to sit down." She didnít appear to hear him, just clinging to him, and he realized tears were slipping down her cheeks.
God, he was a shit. Sheíd just lost her only chance to ever be a mother and he came over here and browbeat her? He led her to the couch and started to seat her, but she hadnít released him, so he sat beside her.
"Scully, Iím sorry. I shouldnít have come over here, I shouldnít - "
"Itís never going to happen."
"What?" She was speaking so low and more into his chest than anywhere else.
She shook her head and burrowed in deeper.
"Let me make you some tea, Scully."
Her fists tightened on his coat and he discarded that idea. She needed him to stay right where he was, for now at least.
"Scully?" He was stroking her hair, her shoulders. Her shaking was lessening but hadnít quit entirely. He rested his head on her hair and felt guilt and despair threaten to overwhelm him.
When he felt her grip loosen, he looked down again. "Can I get you anything?"
She shook her head and started to sit up. His arms tightened around her. He realized it and started to relax, but she sighed and sank back against him. He felt her rub her cheek against his chest.
"I didnít mean to shut you out."
Again it was such a low whisper he nearly missed it.
"Itís not okay, but I couldnít help it. I . . . " She looked up at him, "You mourned . . . "
He let his lips press against her forehead, "Yeah. I wanted it, Scully. I think . . . at first, when you blew me away with the request, I thought maybe I could do it just for you. But then I thought about it and, and I realized I wanted it too. Guess I didnít make that clear. Iím sorry."
"I should have known. Maybe I didnít want to."
"Jealousy. You can still have kids, Iím the one - "
"Scully." He put his finger gently against her lips. "Itís you and me or no one at all. Remember, youíre the only one I trust."
Fresh tears filled her eyes then. "But you - "
"Shh. Not gonna happen Scully. You and me, just like the past six years. No one gets between us or keeps us apart."
"Scully, donít - "
"Iím sorry I canít give you that; Iím sorry I pushed you away."
"You were hurting. I donít always come running to you when Iím in pain either."
He actually chuckled at that. "Okay, I do, but I hoped you didnít realize."
She cuddled in again. "I feel so empty. I feel like Iím eternally empty."
He closed his eyes at the pain those words caused. "Scully, I never see you that way. I never could."
"But itís true. Iíll never - "
"Scully, you know more about this than I do, but there are donor eggs, and - "
He stopped when she shook her head.
"You donít have to decide right now."
"No, itís . . . even if I wanted to, I canít . . . I canít afford it."
He looked at her, puzzled. "How much, how much have you spent?" Heíd concentrated on the procedure, not the cost.
She shrugged, letting her head fall back against his chest.
"Come on, talk to me."
"Itís . . . a little over $10,000."
"Ten . . . Scully, why didnít you tell me?"
She looked up then, a little surprised. "I didnít . . . that wasnít . . ."
"And you didnít think Iíd want to know?"
She sighed, "I didnít want you to feel obligated for any of the expenses, or child support or - "
"So you really did think my involvement would end when I jerked off in a cup?"
"I - "
"Scully. Six years. Give me a little credit."
"I . . . I donít know, I donít know why Iím like this."
"Maybe itís all the stuff theyíve pumped into your system."
She drew back from him slightly. "You know about . . . "
He shook his head, "Of course I do. I had to know what they were going to do to you. I did my research. How do I make you see how important you are to me Scully?"
She looked down abashed. He raised her chin with his forefinger. "Scully, I have to admit, no one else has ever asked me for what you asked, but what you need to understand is, even if they had, the answer would have been no. Youíre the only one I would ever consider this with."
She silently searched his eyes and saw the truth in them. "I wish I could have given you this."
"And Iím grateful for all the things you have given me."
Her brow furrowed then, "What . . . ?"
He shook his head and pulled her back against him. "Oh, nothing important; my sanity, my legitimacy, your support and friendship and companionship and your gentleness, your beauty . . . "
"You . . . you think Iím beautiful?"
"Damn." He breathed into her hair. "Yes, Scully. I think you are the most beautiful woman in the world, bar none. Why havenít I been able to get you to see this?"
"We shouldnít . . . you shouldnít . . . weíre partners Mulder."
"Scully, we passed being Ďpartnersí about three years ago. When you got sick and I thought . . . I realized then how much more than a partner you were."
"You were the only one I called."
His arms tightened then.
"It was the only thing that felt safe."
He closed his eyes, remembering. "Thank you." She felt his lips press against her hair and without conscious thought, turned her face up to him and met his lips with her own.
For less than an instant he considered that this might be a bad idea, but when her lips parted to give him access, nothing else mattered. His tongue slipped into her mouth, taking possession of her.
He realized what he was doing when she moved against him. Had she been trying to pull away? He looked down and saw her startled look.
"Scully, Iím sorry, I - "
Her lips cut him off at that point and he felt her invade his own mouth. Scully? Oh god . . .
They were both breathing heavily when they broke apart. He didnít have a clue what to say.
"Could you stay here with me for awhile?" She asked quietly.
He nodded, still unsure of his voice. He was AWOL but that was the least important thing in the world right now. He saw that her eyes were drooping, and her body was truly relaxed finally.
"Scully, whenís the last time you slept?"
She shook her head.
"Why donít you sleep now? Iíll be here."
She looked at him for a moment, then nodded. To his surprise, she didnít move toward her bedroom, crawling into his lap instead and settling in. She was asleep in an instant.
He sat there in awe; holding her, loving her, knowing for the first time that she understood how he felt. His eyes didnít leave her until they closed themselves in sleep.