When she emerged from the bathroom she was dressed again in shorts and t-shirt, but her hair was wet and slicked back in a ponytail. He had dressed as well and was waiting for her on the couch with a glass of tea for himself and a glass of wine for her.
She stopped and looked at him. She hadn’t been sure he would still be here. He looked so guilty and contrite. He extended the wine to her.
“Trying to get me drunk?”
“Just trying to mess with your aim in case you’re planning to shoot me again.”
“I almost did.” She took the wine he offered and sat beside him on the couch. She helped herself to a sip then looked over at him. “What’s going on?”
“I’m not sure I can . . . “ She waited, this had better be good. “I just came over to have some dinner.”
“You . . .
you had a date, you brought a woman over here?” Her voice
had gotten a little louder, a little faster.
“No! No, Scully. I brought a meal over and I ate here - alone.”
“Why, Mulder? Why here?” He looked away. Any answer he gave was going to make him look like a fool or worse. “Mulder? Are you okay?”
“I’m embarrassed, but other than that, yeah.”
“Then I don’t understand.”
“Neither do I, Scully. It seemed like a good idea when I thought of it. To just come over here, spend an hour or so and get out. You’d never know, and - “
“You were in my bed Mulder.”
“Yeah, I kinda . . . you weren’t supposed to be back until tonight.”
“That’s an excuse?”
“No, but you wouldn’t . . . I was going to pick you up at the airport.”
She put her glass down on the coffee table. So far nothing he had said made any sense whatsoever. She felt him wilt beside her, but he said nothing, waiting for her to blast him.
She rose from the couch and he winced, expecting explicit orders about ever darkening her door again. Her eyes fell on her answering machine.
“I have a message. Did you listen to it?”
“No Scully, I didn’t even notice. I didn’t come here to invade your privacy.” Her expression showed exactly what she thought of that statement. Rather than comment she turned away and pressed play.
“Dana, Charlie called and said you’d had to leave early. Something important at work. I just wanted to make sure you had gotten in okay. Call me if it’s not too late. Oh, I’ll be gone Friday, but if I haven’t heard from you I’ll call back.”
Mulder blinked, Mrs. Scully had left this message on Thursday? Where had she been? And what work had brought her back? He realized her face had flushed a dark red.
“I guess I’m not the only one behaving strangely, huh? I see I did invade your privacy after all.” He rose now, she’d want him as far from here as he could get.
“Mulder, wait. Don’t . . . don’t go.” He stopped and stood looking at her silently. “You know there wasn’t any work to hurry back to.” He just looked at her, not bothering to nod.
“Yeah.” He finally spoke. “So?”
“Mulder.” How had this become about her?
“Okay,” he drew a breath, “You had something to do before you came back here, or someone. It’s none of my business, obviously. I screwed up and it won’t happen again. I apologize for being in your apartment without your permission.” He pulled his keys from his pocket, removed the key to her apartment and tossed it on the table. He moved again toward the door.
He’d made a fool of himself before, hell he was used to it, but this . . . this. He reached for the doorknob.
“Stop!” She moved to him, “Are you planning to just leave without asking where I went?” He nodded, not wanting to speak. “Damn you! I should let you leave; let you go without any explanation. Fine! Get out, just get the hell out of my apartment.”
She turned away from him and headed toward her bedroom, slamming the door behind her.
She was seated on her bed, staring at nothing when the door opened. After a moment he sat beside her on the bed. “Why are you still here?”
“I don’t know. I haven’t known what was going on since you left town. You asked if I’d slept since you were gone, the answer is not really. You were gone and I couldn’t even call you. I knew you were okay, but it didn’t help. I came over here because I missed you - stupid huh? Did you . . . “ He sighed, “Where did you go when you left Charlie?”
“You missed me?”
He hung his head and wouldn’t look at her. “Where did you go?”
“I spent last night in Detroit, at the airport. Engine problems, then we got to Chicago and there was a storm. I’ve spent the last 36 hours trying to get home . . . because I missed you.”
His head jerked up and he looked at her as though she’d lost her mind.
“What, it’s okay for you, but not for me?”
“But why would you miss me? I mean . . . you have family, friends.”
She looked at him, mouth open. It took her a couple of seconds to catch up. “You think . . . we spend five days a week together for seven years, not counting the weekends and evenings outside of work and you think I wouldn’t miss you?”
“Well, okay but enough to come home early from your vacation?”
“You missed me enough to sleep naked in my bed.” He looked away at that, they were sitting on that same bed. The urge to pull her down onto the bed and run his hands all over her body was growing. He needed to get out of here. "We're some pair, aren't we?"
He gave a sad sort of chuckle. "We both missed each other and neither of us wants to admit it. Scully,” He took a deep breath. "I hate it when you're gone. I feel incomplete, unfinished. I know we don't spend all that much time together outside of work. I mean, we don't hang out on weekends if we're here in town and all that, but I know you're here. I know I can see you if need to, if I want to. You're not seeing anyone, at least not that I know about."
"I'm not." He nodded and she thought his shoulders relaxed just bit. After a brief silence she looked over at him. "Why did you jump to the conclusion that I had been with someone when I left Charlie?"
"Because it would make sense."
"Make sense? How?"
"You're a beautiful woman. Men look at you all the time. Without me there, one of them might work up the courage to ask you out." She just stared at him for the longest moment.
"What are you talking about?"
He shrugged, "You know, you've called me on it often enough."
"You act . . . you try to scare men off?" She looked at him with disbelief.
He hung his head, and after a moment took a deep breath. "Look, I've revealed just about all I can stand to tonight. I'll see you at work."
"You want to keep me for yourself." She spoke as though he hadn't. A smile started to grow on her face. "You're territorial outside of work. You do always call me when I'm out of town for personal reasons, don't you?"
He hadn't made it to his feet yet and now he sat back, watching her. She'd never noticed?
"You came over here to eat, just to be as near me as you could while I was gone." She was truly smiling now.
"You think this is funny?"
"No! No, I think it's . . . it's incredibly wonderful. And to know you feel that same way I do . . .” She placed a hand on his arm. "Thank you."
"I feel very, very good right now."
"Good enough to let me stay?"
She smiled again, "Don't push your luck, Mulder. But maybe we could spend some time together. See if it's comfortable."
"You mean I might be able to come over here for dinner and not have to break and enter?"
She gave a soft laugh, "Well, that would be a good start."
- Fin -