She couldn't get to sleep, not in this chair. She could just leave; he was okay. But she didn't act on the thought. Instead she rose from the chair and stretched. Since he had the couch, she'd take the bed. She found a pair of his pajamas in the drawer - since when did he wear yellow? She slipped them on, rolling up about a yard of material, then crawled into his bed. She was asleep in minutes.
An hour or so later, he stirred from his stupor on the couch and stumbled to the bathroom. After peeing for half an hour or so, he dropped the rest of his clothes on the bathroom floor, adjusted his boxers and groped his way to the bed. He slipped between the sheets and passed out.
She woke the next morning to find him there, his head on her breasts. He'd obviously gotten comfortable; using her as pillow, security blanket and teddy bear all rolled into one. She would have been pissed, if she'd thought he realized it, but he was obviously dead to the world.
Scully carefully extricated herself from his embrace and padded into the kitchen to make coffee.
She saw no reason to be gentle with him, so when it was brewed, she filled his mug, grabbed the bottle of aspirin and returned to the bedroom. "Wake up." She slammed the mug and bottle on his bedside table, very close to his head.
He jerked violently at the sound, then groaned loudly. She couldn't help the smile twitching at her lips. He managed to open one eye and glared at her. "What are you doing here?"
It came out more as a croak, and he opened the other eye to scan her. Didn't he have some pajamas like that? He glanced toward the floor; yeah, those were his. She flipped on the overhead light and he muttered some curse as he threw his hand over his eyes.
"I wanted to make sure you didn't choke on your own vomit."
He spread two fingers apart and glared at her with one eye, but refrained from comment.
"Want some breakfast? I can go get us some."
He swallowed convulsively and noted her grin. He could cheerfully throttle her right now.
Rather than answer, he hauled himself out of bed, grabbing hold of the bedside table to steady himself. He had not heard her giggle; he refused to believe that Dana Scully could make such a sound. He watched her retreat from the room and carefully made his way to the bathroom.
He could see no reason to ever come out, so he turned on the shower. Maybe she'd be gone when he was through.
About half way through the hot water he finally remembered the shots he'd downed the night before. He shook his head once, and decided that was a horrible idea. Okay, he'd gotten smashed, why?
Her plans. The clarity was as blinding as the hangover. Shit, she'd had a date last night and he'd . . . but how had she gotten over here and when? And why was she wearing his pajamas? His eyes opened wide and pain flared again. Why was she in his pajamas?
It didn't matter; she'd be gone by now. He pulled on some cutoff sweats and a t-shirt. He eyed the bottle of aspirin before picking it up, then shook four of the tablets into his hand. He swallowed them with the tepid coffee and trudged toward the kitchen. Hopefully she'd left him some hot coffee.
He was startled to see her on his couch when he emerged. She'd dressed. He felt a surge of disappointment that she wasn't still in his pajamas. Rather than comment, he glanced toward the TV.
She was watching one of those home shopping channels? Scully? Two overly enthusiastic women were gushing over a diamond bracelet. God, why didn't she just shoot him between the eyes? Maybe that would stop the pain. Hell, if she didn't maybe he could.
He kept quiet, moving toward the kitchen. He refilled his mug with hot coffee, and while he was trying to decide whether or not to return to the living room, Scully joined him.
"Want to tell me what's going on?"
He shrugged, "I had a few drinks last night."
"A few?" She glanced toward the trash.
He spotted the bottle and his eyes widened when he realized it was empty. "I . . . I finished it?"
"Very nearly. Why?"
"I was just in the mood."
"In the mood to drink yourself sick and pass out?"
He shrugged again. "Don't you have someplace you need to be?"
"Actually, no." Her eyebrow was high.
His heart sank. Was he ever going to get her out of here? He moved around her and headed for the couch. He plopped down on it, and winced at the jarring in his head. "So, when did you get here?"
"After you passed out."
He rolled his eyes. That he knew. "Okay, why did you come over?"
She didn't answer that, just joining him on the couch. "Tell me why you were in the mood to drink."
"I was just feeling low. It was a mistake. It won't happen again."
"What won't happen again?" She wasn't going to let this go and he was feeling the need for more aspirin.
"I let something get to me. It's not important Scully; could we drop it?"
She started to say something, then stopped. "You don't have anything here to eat. I'm going to go pick up some lunch, I'll be back in a little while."
"You don't have to . . . " He stopped at her look, then nodded.
She rose from the couch and slipped on her shoes. When had she started painting her toenails? "I won't be long."
"Want some money?"
"Next time." She let herself out of the apartment and he breathed a sigh of relief. He leaned back, letting his head fall back onto the couch and shoved his feet onto the coffee table. He knocked a magazine off, but it didn't sound like paper hitting the floor.
He leaned forward to retrieve it and saw the microcassette that had been under it. What was this? It hadn't been here earlier, had it?
What was it? He rose and moved to his answering machine. He switched tapes and hit play.
*Her machine, you got her machine, so she's still out with her plans. Out with some man, some other man.*
That was his voice! Oh shit, he'd called Scully, yeah he remembered that. But she hadn't been home so he'd hung up, hadn't he?
*Any man other than Spooky Mulder, right? Let's face it Spooky, you're not her type and you never will be.*
Oh God. Had she heard this? Stupid question, how else had it gotten here?
*If he hurts her, I'll break his ass. Yeah, that's it; I'll be a big brother to her. Then Bill and I can get together at family reunions.*
He let his face fall into his hands in utter defeat. After a moment he reached to stop the tape, then he heard glass hitting glass, *Why can't it be me, Scully?*
His eyes widened in shock. He'd said that? And she'd heard it? Why hadn't she just let him choke?
He pulled the tape from the machine and sank back down onto the couch. He let the tape drop onto the table. How was he going to handle this? Could he handle this?
How could he have said those things out loud?
She'd come here out of pity. Oh god, she'd heard what he said and she'd felt sorry for him. She'd come home from her date and heard his pitiful diatribe on her machine. Then she'd come over here and found him passed out.
He felt the bottom drop out. He knew if there had been any Scotch left, he'd be drinking it right now. How much did a man his size have to drink to get alcohol poisoning? Dumb question, he obviously couldn't hold that much.
He jumped as the door opened and he watched Scully return. Had he been in a stupor long enough for her to get the food and return?
She had stopped and was looking at him. "Mulder? Are you okay? What happened?" She dropped the bag of food on the table and hurried over to him. "Mulder?" She brushed his hair from his forehead and he moved away from her hand.
The movement stung her and she let her hand drop. "What happened?"
"I'm fine Scully."
Her eyes widened; so that's how that phrase felt. Something had happened while she was gone. What was it? She glanced around the room for clues and saw the tape lying on the table. Her eyes widened. She looked up at him; "You heard the tape?"
"Could you leave Scully?"
"There's no need - "
"You really want me to leave?"
She started to make one more protest, but he had turned away. She didn't know what to say. Finally she stood. She looked down at him, then scooped up the tape.
His hand stopped her and he withdrew the tape from her grip, not speaking. She didn't say anything, allowing him to have it. She sighed and turned toward the door. Leaving the food on the table, she let herself out.
He opened his mouth to call her back, but stopped himself. She'd come if he asked, but only out of pity. He didn't need that.
She got into her car, but didn't start the motor. She lay her forehead against the steering wheel. He'd listened to the tape. What had possessed her to bring it over?
She just hadn't wanted it to be erased. He had let her know that he cared for her, not just as a partner. But he'd had to get drunk to do it and now he was . . .
Scully sat up and turned on the car. It wouldn't do any good to just sit here right now. She drove back to her apartment. She had a lot to think about.
She entered her apartment and immediately looked toward the phone. He couldn't leave a message; she'd forgotten there was no tape. It didn't matter, he wouldn't have called.
She puttered around the apartment, but accomplished nothing. She didn't realize how much she needed the phone to ring until it did. She had it in her hand before the first ring had finished.
There was no sound.
"Mulder? Mulder please, come over. We need to talk." The call was disconnected. She wasn't sure he'd heard.
She sank onto the couch and, after a moment, returned the phone to the charger. Now what? She didn't know how long she sat there, but eventually something made her rise and move to the window.
He was there, in his car. Was he coming in? It didn't look like it. Fine, she headed for her door.
He wouldn't look at her but she knew he was aware of her as she crossed the street to approach the car. She tapped on the window and he lowered it.
"Will you come inside?"
"I shouldn't have come at all."
"Then why did you?" She turned then. The hell with it.
She didn't see the car coming toward her. The man driving obviously didn't see her either, trying to dial his cell phone as he made the turn.
Scully! He vaulted from the car and raced across the lanes. There wasn't time to be gentle. He slammed into her, taking them both down to the sidewalk. The car screeched to a halt and the man tumbled out.
"Are you okay? Oh god, I'm sorry. Are you okay?" He was on his knees beside them. "I'll call 911."
"I'm okay." Scully finally had her breath back. "Mulder?"
"Yeah, I'm fine."
"Are you sure?" He was helping Scully to her feet. Mulder got up himself and brushed off his jeans.
"You need to be more careful while you're driving." Scully looked at the man.
He nodded abashedly. "I'm so sorry. Hey, mister, you're bleeding."
She jerked around then and Mulder saw her face go pale. "It's just a scratch." He held his arm out to show her.
"I can give you a ride to the hospital." The man offered again.
"I . . . I can handle this." Scully looked a little steadier now.
Mulder looked at the man, "Get on to your meeting or wherever, and watch where you're going."
The man nodded soberly. If he had hit this woman, this dark haired man would have killed him. He swallowed and handed Mulder his business card; then, without another word, crawled back into his car.
Mulder wasn't even looking anymore. He was supporting her toward her apartment.
Once inside, he tried to lead her to her couch. "No, let me check your arm."
"It's - "
"Let me check your arm." She moved toward her kitchen table. He sat where she bade and she assembled her supplies. Still her hands were shaking slightly when she began cleaning the cut.
She nodded, "Not a scratch."
He took her hand, "Not true, you broke a nail."
She held her hands up and nodded. "So much for last night."
"That's what I did last night; had my hair done, got a manicure - "
"And had your toenails painted?"
She met his eyes then; he must have seen them while she was barefoot at his place. She hadn't thought he could focus that far this morning.
"Yeah, I had my toenails painted."
"Those were your plans for last night?"
She nodded. She returned her attention to his arm, disinfecting and finally bandaging it, all in silence.
She met his eyes.
"Where did you go last night?"
"I had my hair cut, and a little pampering."
"For what?" She didn't look away.
"For assuming . . . for you having to come rescue me from my own stupidity."
"It's not the first time."
He glanced up quickly and saw a slight smile on her face.
"I made a real fool of myself, didn't I?" He looked defeated.
"Again, not for the first time." She smiled slightly. "Why did it bother you that I had plans?"
He wouldn't meet her eyes then. "I . . . "
"Did you mean what you said, on the tape?"
"Scully, I was drunk."
"I see. So you didn't - "
"Scully, I was drunk enough to say it."
She glanced up then, startled.
"Yeah, it bothered the hell out of me that you had plans. You didn't want to talk about them, but you were excited. You wanted to get out of the office on time."
"Pathetic, isn't it. That I could get that excited over a haircut."
"I . . . no, it's not pathetic. It just makes me feel guiltier that I've led you to this."
She blinked, caught off guard at that.
"I should get out of here. You probably have . . . have plans." He managed a slight grin.
"Yeah, I . . . I do. I want to take my partner to dinner for saving my life one more time."
His smile grew a little and seemed more genuine suddenly. "Sounds like a plan to me."
"Maybe afterwards we could . . . talk."
He nodded. "I think I'd like that."