He lay on the couch, not daring to close his eyes again. The sweat was still drying on his chest from the dream. He could still see the tear escape her eye and trickle down her face. It had been so close. She had saved herself, saved herself from him. He’d been powerless, completely unable to control events.
Modell wasn’t dead, just in a coma. She promised he would never regain consciousness, but that wasn’t enough. If there had been a hundred bullets in that gun he would have fired every one of them into that bastard.
No, if she had been unable to . . . if he had really killed her, he would have saved one bullet. One for himself. She had been outraged when he had placed the gun to his own head and easily pulled the trigger. That hadn’t been hard; he’d visualized it so many times over the years. Not as many since she’d been given to him, but often before that.
While she was missing, he’d thought about it again. Many times as a matter of fact, but he couldn’t do it, not while there was a chance she was alive and coming back to him. He hadn’t phrased it quite like that at the time, but these words were truer than the ones he’d fed himself at the time.
If he had killed her, with his own hand, there would have been no discussion, no debate. The gun would have gone to his head just as easily as it had under Modell’s direction.
He wanted to hear her voice. He hadn’t killed her; she was fine, home and sound asleep. Hell it was 1:30 in the morning. But he really wanted to hear her voice. He needed that reassurance. He shouldn’t call her, wake her. But he needed . . . he’d just let it ring a couple of times. If she didn’t pick up it would mean she was asleep and he shouldn’t bother her.
He had the phone in his hand. When had he picked it up? It didn’t matter; he had to hear her.
She answered on the first ring. “Mulder?”
“Am I that predictable?” There was no amusement in his voice.
“No, I was just hoping.” That knocked the next quip off his lips. Hoping? “Are you okay?”
Him? No he wasn’t okay; he’d nearly killed the most important person in his life today. “Yeah.” He could hear her moving, getting settled. “Why weren’t you asleep?”
“Just wasn’t. I thought you might call. Are you really okay?”
“I wasn’t the one nearly murdered by a semi-trusted colleague today.”
“Not semi-trusted. I trust you completely. I knew you wouldn’t hurt me.” He was silent at that. Did she not know how close it had been? “Colleague, Mulder? I thought we were partners.”
“Still?” His chest was tight asking that, but it was one of the things he was most worried about.
“Why don’t you come over for a while Mulder?”
That’s what he wanted. He hadn’t realized it when he called, but he wanted to see her. Hearing her wasn’t enough. “It’s late Scully. You don’t need company this time of night.”
“It’ll be the same time whether you come over or not. I’d like to see you.” Another statement that left him speechless. What was with her tonight? Maybe nearly being killed had opened her up to him? “Mulder, please.”
“Yeah. Yeah, I’ll be there in a little while.”
Thanks? She meant it? She wanted to see him? “I won’t be long.” He didn’t have to dress; he’d fallen asleep in his clothes. He found himself having to keep an eye on the speedometer; he didn’t want to be stopped by the cops.
Now he was sitting in front of her apartment, reluctant to move. He’d come to see her; he had to see her. He unbuckled the seatbelt and got out of the car. He forced himself to a decent pace as he approached her door.
She’d obviously been watching for him and opened the door before he could knock. She hadn’t dressed, just wearing her robe for him. He couldn’t move when he saw her, the sight of her whole, alive, breathing locked him into place.
“Come on in Mulder.” She took his hand and tugged him inside. They stood silent after she shut the door, neither knowing how to start.
“I . . . I shouldn’t have come, it’s late and . . . “
“I asked you to come. Why don’t you have a seat? Want anything to drink?”
“Uh, no, thanks.” He moved toward the couch then and she sat beside him, curling her legs up under her.
He still had no idea what to say to her; maybe it was enough just to be with her. He didn’t realize he had started to tremble. She did and her heart went out to him. He felt responsible, guilty that he had pointed a gun at her. Didn’t he remember that she had actually shot him once? What could she say?
“Mulder, you didn’t kill me; you didn’t hurt me. You saved me.” His trembling increased to shaking at those words. “Oh Mulder.”
She pulled him to her then, one arm around his shoulder, the other holding his face to her shoulder. His arms went around her then, pulling her even closer to him, holding her almost painfully tight to him.
“Mulder, it’s okay. I’m okay, believe me.” She kissed his forehead and brushed his hair back.
“Mul - “ He lifted his face to her and met her lips with his own, kissing his name from them. He hadn’t planned this, he hadn’t even dreamed it was a possibility, but he needed this, needed her.
When they broke apart she leaned slightly away from him, breathing heavily. “Mulder?”
“Scully, I’m sorry. I know I’m over the line, I - “
“You kissed me.” He didn’t speak. He wasn’t sure he could move, “I . . . I always thought I was a . . . that I took Samantha’s place.”
“My sister?” His eyes widened. “You thought . . . Scully, I’d have been arrested a long time ago for having these thoughts about my sister.”
Her eyes widened and a blush took over her face.
“I better get out of here.”
“Don’t go. Not yet.”
“This isn’t a good idea Scully.” He started to rise, but she took hold of his hand.
“Mulder, I don’t understand.”
He gave a sad chuckle, “I thought I was crystal clear.”
“Maybe you were, maybe I’m just afraid.”
“Of me?” She couldn’t look away now; their eyes were locked on each other. His eyes showed fear and she relaxed a notch.
“Mulder, you’re just reacting to the . . . to what happened today. It’s okay. I knew you were upset. You don’t have to feel guilty.”
“About the kiss or nearly killing you? Don’t I? He played me, he controlled me. I knew better. I knew what he was capable of, but I still put you in danger.” He shook himself. “Scully, that’s not why I kissed you.” She made no comment. Of course it was, he just didn’t realize it. He saw that in her face. “Scully, listen to me. I faced a lot of things today, things I had avoided seeing. I saw you dead, dead at my hand and I’d never told you . . . did you honestly think that I thought of you as a sister?”
Her nod was almost imperceptible.
He gave a sad kind of laugh at that. “I guess I can believe that, I haven’t allowed myself to know what was happening either.”
“Mulder - “
“Don’t. If you didn’t know, if you don’t want to know, I understand.” He rose from the couch. “Go back to bed Scully. You should take a couple of days. I’ll see you then.”
“Damn it Mulder, sit down!” Her tone left no doubt that this was a command she expected to be obeyed.
He looked startled, but sank back down onto the couch, speechless.
“You said you could see me, dead at your hand. Do you have any idea what I saw when you were pointing that gun at me?”
He looked away and shook his head.
“I saw a man in agony, a man fighting what was probably the strongest opponent he’s ever faced. A man refusing to give up on the fight, refusing to give up on keeping me safe. Maybe I thought it was because of a link to your past, but that doesn’t matter now. I knew you weren’t going to let him win, I knew that even if you did pull the trigger, your aim would be off or something. Yes, I pulled the fire alarm, but it was to help you - like I’m supposed to as your partner. It was not because I didn’t trust you.”
He started to speak, “Wait. The other thing I saw was the ease with which you put the gun to your own head and pulled the trigger. None of the agony I saw when you were aiming at me was present. You just did it, like it wasn’t important.”
“It wasn’t Scully. Not like you are.”
“You don’t . . . you don’t believe that.”
“It doesn’t matter if I believe it or not, it’s true. Do you not know what you’ve done for me? Look at our work, I’m not . . . I’m not the crackpot in the basement anymore. People ask for our input. Do you know how long it’s been since . . . “ He shook his head. “Do you realize I look forward to coming to work because you’re going to be there?”
“Mulder, that’s not - “
“Let me finish Scully. I’ve had other partners, they’ve been forced on me I admit, but . . . Scully, you don’t . . . you seem to care about me - “
“You know I do Mulder.”
“And you care about the work. I can tell.”
“Mulder, where is this going? I thought we were talking about, about us.”
“Can there be an us? Scully, can there? Would you allow it?”
“Allow?” She took a deep breath. “I think we need a little communication here. Am I the reason that . . . that you’ve never . . . that we, shit!” She turned away from him.
“Well, it’s nice to know the communication problem isn’t only mine. Yes, in answer to your almost question. You are the reason I haven’t made a move toward you. The thoughts of you fleeing in terror at my advance, or . . . or laughing . . . was more than I could take. It was all there in front of me today, with that gun in my hand, pointed directly at you. If I had . . . “ He stopped.
“If you had shot me?” She squeezed his hand and watched his eyes darken in pain with that statement.
“The gun would have gone back to my own head much easier than when he pushed me.” He stated it simply, no emotion, just as the fact it was.
She ignored the tear that spilled from her eye at that statement. “You . . . you care that much about me?” He nodded silently. “Mulder, I would never have fled or laughed. Never. I’d just kind of given up hoping you would; just accepting what you wanted to give me.”
He shuddered slightly at that admission, then pulled her back against him and she came to him much easier, melding against him as though she belonged there.
Well she did. Maybe Modell had pushed other things as well. She wouldn’t flee and she wouldn’t laugh. Maybe Modell had actually done him a favor. He was willing to see.