He made his way back to the couch. She had left. The place seemed so much more empty when she wasn’t there. Why hadn’t she come on in? Why stand in the door? If he really were her touchstone . . .
As horrible as it had been, there were times he missed being able to read minds. Had her main reason for coming by really been to tell him Diana was dead?
He needed to think about that. A few weeks ago he would have mourned Diana. Now, there was almost a sense of relief that he wouldn’t have to deal with her or her betrayal. She was gone; hopefully her presence would fade soon. That sounded cold, even to him, but it happened to be true. She had tried to destroy his work, she had tried to destroy what he had with . . .
He sighed, that brought him back to Scully. Why hadn’t she stayed? She was acting . . . tentative around him now, acting afraid of him. Scully afraid of anything was weird; Scully scared of him was crushing.
She was afraid he knew; she was terrified that he had read her mind. Well, he had and he'd clung to the knowledge during this whole ordeal. Dana Scully loved him. Dana Scully was in love with him.
And she didn’t want him to know it.
She’d certainly kept it secret from him. He’d been stunned senseless at the knowledge. Before he could confront her, all hell had broken loose.
He remembered collapsing at the college, then finding himself at home in his bed. The troubling thing was, and had been, that Diana was there. Not Scully. He’d wanted Scully, but maybe he hadn’t said it out loud. Things had been confusing then; damn confusing.
That was when he’d picked up Diana’s thoughts. He’d been so addled then. Diana was working against him. Scully’s instincts had been right on about her, from the beginning. The thing was, from the beginning it hadn’t felt like Scully was just covering his back from danger. It had felt like a woman defending her territory, her . . . her man.
They weren’t together; not like that. If anything he had felt they were farther apart than ever. Disconnected. That had bothered him on a basic level. Mulder and Scully, they belonged together.
It was his fault. Not just the usual guilt he lived with every day, he really had caused this distance. Diana. Scully thought he had chosen Diana over her. Even when he had left Diana to pick Scully up before the El Rico field disaster, there had been a distance. He’d put the wedge in and time hadn’t dislodged it. He hadn’t known how to repair it. He hadn’t known Scully loved him - hadn’t dared dream it.
He was the perfect fool when it came to women. So he’d had little to no experience in high school, still he managed to get tangled up with the worst possible choice at Oxford. Phoebe had taught him a lot - sexually as well as in life. He’d been lucky to get away with as few scars as he had. Diana had seemed so different. He’d been damn careful in between the two women. Casual relationships, a few sexual partners, but nothing of substance, even when the women had hinted they wanted more. Then Diana, so forceful, so sure of what she wanted. And she’d wanted him.
Had she, or had he been her assignment from the beginning? That was something he hadn’t picked up from her mind, or hadn’t wanted to.
She had conspired with his worst enemy. That he knew. She’d even admitted it to him, when he couldn’t respond. But he had let her come between him and the most important person in his life. He had wanted to believe his relationship with Diana had been real. It wasn't what he'd grown with Scully, but he'd thought it had been based on trust and respect.
He’d been wrong on so many levels.
The longer he waited, the worse it would get. He had to repair the damage Diana had caused. He needed to talk to Scully. He reached for his phone and pressed one.
“Scully, I need you.”
“Mulder? Are you okay?” The concern in her voice was immediate.
“I’m turning around. I’ll be right there.”
He broke the connection and rose from the couch. She’d probably want hot tea, so he should get it ready.
In record time he heard the key in the lock. She must not have gotten very far. Scully burst into the apartment. “Mulder?” She immediately looked over at the couch. “Mulder, where are you?”
He stepped toward her from the kitchen. “Here.” He set the mugs on the counter.
She whirled toward him, her hand coming up to touch his face to check for fever, he realized, or some doctor thing. His hand grasped her wrist; stopping her. “I think we need to talk.”
He saw the fear flash in her eyes. It was gone, hidden instantly. He knew no one else would have seen it.
“Not now, Mulder. You’ve just had major surgery. You need - ”
“What do you think I need?” Damn, had the man always been this tall? She lost her battle to keep looking into his eyes. She lowered her head. He still had hold of her wrist, though he didn’t seem to notice.
“Rest, rest and re-recuperation.” She managed to get out. “And you’re upset about Diana. You - “
“You want to talk about Diana. Okay, let’s talk about Diana.” He led her to the couch and finally released her wrist. After a moment she sank down onto the leather.
“Mulder - “
“You were right about her. 100% right. She betrayed me; she worked against me, probably from the beginning. They didn’t assign her to spy on me. She volunteered.”
“How, how do you know - “
He gave her a sad smile. “I read her mind.”
He saw the convulsive movement of her throat, the pallor in her cheeks. She didn’t want to believe he’d had that ability, but he knew it was her fear.
“You were involved with her.”
“I thought I was, a long time ago. She was using me even then. I didn’t know, I didn’t know any better because I’d never been in love.”
She was silent, her eyes wide.
“I know you love me.” He said quietly.
She blanched even whiter and looked away. His hand took her chin and turned her face back to him. “Why didn’t you want me to know?”
She made a choking sound, half laugh, half sob.
“Scully?” He reached for her again but she pulled back.
“You don’t have to . . . I’m sorry.” She started to rise, but he caught her arm.
“What are you sorry about, Scully?” He asked softly. “I can’t read your mind now. I need you to talk to me.”
She reluctantly settled back on the couch, but refused to look at him. She focused on her hands instead. She couldn’t hold them still, her fingers playing with each other as though under someone else’s control.
“I don’t know what you want me to say.”
“Just be honest with me.”
“Honest.” She repeated dully.
“Yes, honest, open. Talk to me, Scully.”
She looked up suddenly. “And tell you what? You already know my dirty little secret. You know I . . . you know I love you.” Her eyes seemed to flash with anger, but it died immediately.
“Dirty secret?” He wouldn’t let her look away. “Is that what you think?”
She closed her eyes to escape him. “All you need is one more thing to feel guilty about. I know you, Mulder. You’ll feel obligated - “
“I didn’t think it was possible.” He interrupted her quietly.
“You are the most intelligent woman I know. You’re observant, an excellent investigator . . . “
She looked up at him, puzzled.
“Why don’t you know I’ve loved you for years?”
Her lips parted in shock. It wasn’t faked, she was truly stunned.
His shoulders slumped. “Go home.” He rose from the couch. If she was that damn clueless, there had to be a reason.
She sat there, unable to move for a moment.
He left her there, retreating to his kitchen to dump out the now tepid tea he’d left on the counter. He couldn’t be beside her right now. He stood over the sink going over it. Had he misread her? No, she’d admitted it, her ‘dirty’ secret.
“Mulder?” Her small hand touched his arm and he jerked. In his funk, he hadn’t heard her approach him.
“I’m okay, Scully. I’ll keep your secret. Who would I tell anyway? No one would believe me. Things can go back to ‘normal’. I plan to be back at work on Monday. They’ll probably insist on me riding a desk for a few - “
He shut up then, his eyes still on the cups in the sink.
“You’ve loved me for years?”
“Obviously not correctly, if it’s such a shock to you.”
“No. You’ve done everything right.” She moved around him then, trying to see his face. “I was just too scared to accept it.”
He did look at her then. “So I’m Spooky even to you.”
“Not ‘spooky’ scared, ‘terrified of losing you by allowing myself to love you’ scared.”
His lips parted in shock. She was afraid of rejection by him?
She rolled her eyes. “You pick up that I love you, but not why I kept quiet? Some lousy mind reader you are.”
He gaped at her, then caught the twinkle in her eyes. She was teasing him? She was trying to ease the tension. He didn’t need any ‘powers’ to figure that out.
“I didn’t get a lot of practice.” He groused.
That did cause a smile to finally touch her face. He breathed easier at the sight and moved closer.
“So what does this mean, Mulder? If you are in love with - “
“Don’t doubt that. There’s no question.”
“What about Di - “
His lips silenced her and after a second, she allowed it, relaxing in his arms. When her lips parted, he took the invitation without hesitation.
He stepped back away from her then, his hands on her to hold her steady. “Do you really not understand?”
“I guess I’m still . . . afraid.” She met his eyes then. “We’re not . . . we’re not a conventional couple, Mulder. Most of our conversations are fights. We - “
“Arguments, intellectual dueling, Scully. I think it’s sexy.”
She rolled her eyes. “You would.”
He laughed then and drew her closer.
“You’re right, I think everything about you is sexy.”
She looked startled at that.
“Well I do. I don’t throw innuendos at anyone else. Okay, it’s a defense mechanism. You know it, I know it. Until . . . until this happened, I thought the best I could expect from our relationship was tolerance from you. I never dreamed . . . well, yeah, I dreamed.” He grinned and it widened as color rose in her cheeks. "Scully, as you so accurately pointed out, I've just had major surgery. That's not the best time to initiate a physical relationship."
The color in her face rose even higher and he had to smile.
"But I would sleep a lot better tonight if you were watching over me, maybe letting me hold you in my arms. You know, like a ferocious little teddy bear."
Her eyes narrowed at that analogy, but she didn't pull away. "Don't ruin it, Mulder."
He gave her his 'who me' look and she shook her head.
"Stay here tonight, Scully. Please." He'd gone serious now. She met his eyes. There was such yearning in them. She knew what he wanted, without words. He loved her, it was so clear now that she was looking. She couldn’t read minds, but maybe she could read that little piece of him.
She smiled and he relaxed. It was a beginning, he would build on this. He knew she loved him, it was their secret now.
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Mulder, Scully, the Lone Gunman and Skinner all belong to Chris Carter, 10-13 and Fox. No infringement intended.