Scully took a deep breath, they finally were finished questioning her. She looked around the room, but didn't spot him. She felt an immediate uneasiness suffuse her.
She stood in order to get a better look around the room. No sign of him. She stopped one of the detectives they had been working with as he passed her. "Have you seen Mulder?"
"Uh, yeah. I think he stepped outside."
For some reason that sent a cold shaft through her. She moved immediately toward the door. She was nearly running when she rounded the building. She looked frantically up and down the wall separating the police station from the river. Finally she saw him, nearly hidden by a post.
"Mulder!" She hurried toward him. He didn't really look as though he was going to jump, but still his posture . . . "Mulder, can you hear me?"
He didn't turn toward her. He didn't move at all. "What is it Scully?"
"I . . . they're through with us. I thought we could go on. Mulder, let's go back to the hotel." She took hold of his arm and though he didn't physically resist, she still felt as though she was pulling him away.
They didn't return inside, moving instead to the car they had rented. She moved to the driver’s side and he didn't protest. She thought about offering to stop for some dinner, but knew he would refuse.
Scully drove directly to the hotel. He didn't speak a word, just letting himself out when she parked in front of his room.
He stopped but didn't turn to look at her.
"Is there anything-?"
He continued on, letting himself into his room and closing the door behind him. She stood at the side of the car, fear growing inside of her.
She felt the wind pick up and bite through the suit coat she was wearing. That got her moving and she opened the door to her own room, next to his.
She immediately glanced at the connecting door. He hadn't opened it. He wanted to be alone, but that was the worst choice he could make right now. She moved toward the door herself and opened her side. She'd be able to hear him if he needed anything.
She was chilled - chilled to the bone, though it probably had nothing to do with the temperature. Maybe a shower would help. Moving took more energy than it should. She felt as though she were moving in slow motion. How he must feel.
He was consumed with guilt. She steered him away from profiling, usually without his knowledge. She wished she could add cases with children to her boycott.
The shower hadn't really helped. She didn't feel warmer or cleaner. The sound caught her attention. That was Mulder's door. She hurried to her window and saw Mulder get into the car. She'd been driving, where did he get the keys? No, unimportant - where was he going? She wasn’t dressed to go out chasing him. He wasn't okay, she knew that, but what the hell was she supposed to do?
She threw her robe around her and moved to the connecting door. Her side was still wide open; she breathed a sigh of relief to discover his side was unlocked as well.
She entered his room, looking for clues about where he might have gone. His suit and tie had been thrown partly on, partly off of the bed.
He'd changed but he obviously hadn't gotten comfortable. Where was he? She picked up his clothes, folding them neatly across the back of the chair. There was nothing here to give her a hint. She sat on the side of the bed, feeling helpless.
She started to rise, but found herself too weary to leave. Instead she scooted to the head of the bed and sat, prepared to wait.
She had dozed off when the door opened. He entered not expecting company. He stopped when he spotted her asleep, too numb to react. She woke as the cooler air touched her. "Mulder? Are you okay?" He didn't respond and she saw the bag he was carrying. He'd been to a liquor store.
She rose from the bed and approached him, shutting the door behind him. "Mulder, you don't need that."
"Go back to your room Scully."
"Mulder, let me - "
"Scully. Go on. I'm here. You don't have to worry about me." She tried to get him to meet her eyes, but he refused, just moving away from her.
She felt her despair grow, but he didn't want her here. He always did this. When he was hurting he retreated from her. He was in such pain that she could feel it physically. He had his back to her and from his posture she knew it was useless.
Nevertheless she caressed his upper arm, allowing her hand to trail down his arm, but didn't speak. She returned to her room and closed her eyes as she heard him close his side of the door behind her. At least she didn't hear the deadbolt snick into place. She left her own side open and moved to her bed.
She left her robe at the foot of the bed and stretched out under the covers. At least he was back safe. If he did tie one on he could pass out comfortably.
Something woke her and she sat up. It took a second to focus
but she saw him then, sitting in the dark in the chair near the window.
"Mulder? Are you . . .?"
"I'm not drunk. I . . . I decided it was a bad idea."
"So you came in here."
"Another bad idea. I'm sorry." He started to rise.
"I'm not." That stopped him. He'd come to her, maybe not to talk, but he'd wanted to be near her.
"I don't want to talk."
"I'm fine with that. Would you, wouldn’t you be more comfortable over here? That's not much of a chair."
"That's probably not a good idea either."
"I don't plan to take advantage." The slight smile on her face drew an ironic smile from him. She sat up, straightening her pajama top. After a slight hesitation he joined her, sitting on the covers and leaning against the headboard.
She looked up to speak, but he turned her away from him, settling her against his side, one arm around her just below her breasts. She accepted it, the fact that he wanted her presence nearly overwhelming her.
Neither spoke, gazing into the darkness. The warmth of his hard body against hers relaxing her.
She became aware that his breathing was becoming labored, his grip tighter. Then she felt the wetness strike her shoulder. Oh god, he was crying. Even as she realized it, he lost control, pulling her painfully close and sobbing into her neck.
“Oh Mulder.” She wanted so to soothe him, finally turning in his embrace and holding his face to her breasts. He was wracked by sobs, completely out of control for what felt like forever. By the time he began to calm down, they had twisted around and were lying back on the bed, spooned together with her pressed against his back. He felt leaden, unable to move.
“Go to sleep, Mulder. I have you.” He more surrendered than relaxed, his eyes already closed.
After awhile the jerking and hitching of his breath relaxed as well and Scully was able to drift off, holding him close to her.
When he awoke hours later he knew immediately whose arms held him, whose breast he was pressed against. His savior once again, Scully.
He moved carefully to relieve some of his weight from her, then softly whispered, "I love you Scully."
"I love you Mulder." He froze. She was awake? She turned slightly and kept her hold of him.
"Don't what Mulder? Love you? Too late. I didn't respond last time because you were drugged and I wanted to give you the opportunity to back out."
"You, you remember that?"
"Of course I do. I have a little place where I keep them. I remember all those little things you've said to me over the years. Like your proposal for instance.”
"When you were in Maine without me."
She nodded. "You haven't forgotten."
"I have a little place like that too, but I never . . . “ He moved farther from her on the bed.
"Where are you going?"
"Uh, back to my room."
"You didn't want to be alone. Not to talk, just to be in here. Why don't you stay? I don't mind. In fact, I think I'd appreciate it."
"Why did you say . . .?"
"That I love you? It's the truth."
"I don't want you to."
"You have no choice about that Mulder. It's not like I've rushed into anything, I mean, seven years. Why is it okay for you but not for me?"
"Because . . . because -"
"Mulder, relax and get comfortable. I want you to stay here tonight. Please."
It was a bad idea, but the thoughts of going into his own room, alone, for some reason terrified him. Without her, the liquor was there, his gun was there - maybe that would be better in the long run. In any case, he found himself settling more comfortably beside her. He was actually fully clothed; she had on her pajamas if not her underclothes.
She sighed in relief, allowing him to curl around her.
She woke to find him watching her, waiting for her presence. “Scully, do you really love me?”
“Yes Mulder. Why do you doubt it?”
“I couldn’t save her.” The change in subject didn’t faze her; she knew what his demon was, for now anyway.
“No Mulder, you couldn’t. No one could. But look at all the people you have saved. Look at how many times you’ve saved me.”
He shuddered at that and drew her closer. “Look at how many times I’ve put you in danger.”
She stretched up and brushed her lips against his. “I forgive you.”
He was stunned by her action, well; most of his body was stunned. Part of him reacted with a painful intensity - an intensity he hadn’t experienced in a very long time. It rendered him speechless.
She was aware as well - very aware. She’d grown moist immediately. That hadn’t happened to her in so long. She couldn’t remember the last time . . . unless you were talking about certain dreams in which this very man played a prominent role.
Without thought she pressed herself against him and he groaned.
“No, Scully, we can’t.”
“I disagree.” And her lips found his again. He pulled away.
“I believed you for a minute.”
“What?” Where had he gone? Suddenly it was like having a different man in her arms.
“Is this a mercy fuck or something?”
She jerked back as from a physical blow, stung. “You think that little of me?” Her pain and outrage caused tears to form. She pulled back then, even farther and left the bed.
“Scully - “
She put out her hand, stopping him. “Maybe you had better leave.”
He silently left the bed and moved toward the connecting door. “Mulder.” He stopped but didn’t face her. “Why would you say something like that to me?”
“Fear.” He continued on to the door and had his hand on the knob when she spoke again.
“Fear of what?” Her confusion almost overrode her pain.
“Happiness.” He pulled the door open then and closed it behind him.
She stared at the door, unable to move. He had never said anything more truthful to her. She felt her anger leak away like the air from a balloon. He was terrified of her, of them.
Last night had been a huge step for him, to come in here, to actually let her know that he needed to be near her, even in silence, especially in silence. And what had she done? Ask for a giant leap to the next step.
She found her hand on the doorknob and opened it quietly. He was standing in his room, his back to the door. It was as though he had lost all momentum with the closing of the door.
“Mulder.” She saw the shudder run through his body. He didn’t turn so she moved around him to face him. “Mulder, let’s start over.”
He glanced up at her and quickly away.
She moved in close, not quite touching him. “I love you.”
He backed away a step.
“Are you that bad?” She asked this is a low tone, almost worried sounding.
“What?” He stopped confused.
“A lover? Are you that bad? Should I call Phoebe?”
He stared at her for a moment, “That’s not what I’m worried about.”
“Thank goodness. I thought I was going to have to teach you everything.” His look was one of total disbelief. “So you think you could satisfy me?”
“Yeah, Scully. I think I could.” He just looked at her again, his eyes narrowing. “What are you doing?”
She relaxed a little. “Trying to lighten things up. Mulder, you suffered a terrible tragedy yesterday. I’m overwhelmed that you allowed me to comfort and support you. I’m sorry that I pushed you into an area you weren’t ready for.”
He stared at her for a long moment. “Do you think I could satisfy you?”
Her face grew serious, “As a medical doctor I’d have to say that, with the evidence presented, there's better than average chance that you could.” She couldn’t keep the twinkle from her eyes.
He continued to stare at her, not even a quip coming to his mind. The laughter grew in her eyes and moved down to her lips. He fought it, but found himself lightening up as well. He didn't deserve to smile or laugh. He'd failed yet again, but she had forgiven him. She had told him she loved him. She had held him last night.
He didn't realize his hand had gone out to her until she took it in her own. "We can take this slow Mulder, not seven more years," she smiled at him, "but I need to know if my medical opinion is correct."
He pulled her close to him then and just held her. "You're my reason to live, Scully. My only reason."
She nodded, not in agreement but acknowledgement. She let her own arms go around him. What he didn't realize and she would have to be very careful to get across to him, was that he was her reason as well.