He stirred and reached for her. Finding only cool sheets he opened his eyes and looked around. He spotted her at the door to his bedroom.
“I can’t. I’m sorry, I . . . I can’t.” She turned then and hurried from the room.
Can’t? Can’t what? He was on his feet, racing after her. The door to the apartment was closing as he got there. That’s when it hit him; she was completely dressed. He couldn’t follow her, he was stark naked. What? What the hell had happened?
He darted back into his bedroom and jerked on the clothes she had removed from his body earlier in the evening. He shoved his feet in his shoes and took off after her.
There was no sign of her as he approached his car at a full run now. He peeled out and headed for her place, trying to keep all thoughts at bay.
He didn’t see her car as he pulled into a slot outside of her building, but didn’t search thoroughly. Where else would she go at this time of night, well, morning?
Using his own key he entered her apartment. The only light on was on the desk. It was the little one she kept on a timer for when she was out of town. The light was dim, but enough to see that she wasn’t home.
She would be. He had broken more than a few traffic laws getting here. He found himself in her bedroom and nearly retreated. No, they were together, lovers; there was no reason not to come in here. He sat tentatively on the edge of the bed.
Where was she? Had she changed her mind? Returned to his place? Should he . . . No. This was her home, she’d come here. There was no reason to go looking for her and miss her again and again. He would wait.
The anger was leaving his body, being replaced by fear and insecurity. What had happened? What did she mean, ‘I can’t.’? He shied away from that, shivering slightly though he didn’t notice.
He took a deep breath and slipped off his shoes, forcing himself to recline on the bed. The scent of her calmed him slightly. Whatever this was, they could work it out. Surely they could, he would accept nothing less.
The sound of the door opening sometime later roused him and he rose from the bed, waiting.
She entered the bedroom without turning on the lights either. From the streetlight he couldn’t read her expression.
She jumped violently. “Jesus, Mulder. What are you - “
He was in front of her then, adrenline pumping into his system. He grabbed her upper arms in a tight grip and opened his mouth to demand answers.
He saw her flinch at his actions and he realized what he had done. He released her as though his flesh was scorched. He backed away, horrified at his actions. He stumbled back until his legs touched the chair near her bedside table, and he sank into it.
“I’m, Scully, I’m sorry. I never, I wouldn’t hurt you.”
She had been nearly as startled when he released her as when he grabbed her, and now looking at his face, she could see the disbelief that he had manhandled her that way.
Scully moved toward him. “Mulder, you didn’t hurt me.”
He shook his head, afraid to look up at her. “Just scared the shit out of you, right?”
She knelt in front of him then her hands resting lightly on each knee. “Mulder, you didn’t hurt me. But yes, I guess you did scare me tonight.”
A low moan escaped him before he could stop himself.
She ignored it, looking into his eyes, forcing him to meet hers. “You do scare me - your intensity, your commitment . . . your beauty.”
He gave a harsh, startled laugh. “You think I’m beautiful?”
“I think you are the most beautiful man I’ve ever known.” She took a deep breath. “You’re in love with me, aren’t you? I mean, I know you love me, you have for a long time, but it’s changed. You’re in love with me now.”
After a long moment he nodded.
“That’s what scared me tonight Mulder. I lay there, in your bed, watching you after we made love and . . . the realization panicked me and I ran.”
His eyes closed at those words, blocking out the sight of her. From behind those closed eyes, he spoke. His voice was low and rough with pain. “Is this where you tell me we’ve made a mistake, but you’d like to remain friends?”
“No.” She spoke softly. “This is the part where I drive around DC for a couple of hours before dawn to try to tell myself that it’s not a good idea and that it couldn’t work out for us.”
She pulled into the diner. She wasn’t sleepy, but she wasn’t safe driving either. She took the back booth. There was only one other patron and he was asleep in his booth, head back and mouth open, snoring softly.
Scully didn’t look up when she saw the white shoes stop beside her table. “Just coffee please.”
The shoes moved away and she couldn’t get the sight of his face, the look of confusion and then hurt come over him as she escaped from his apartment.
A cup of coffee and a piece of chocolate pie appeared before her. “I’m sorry. I didn’t - “ She looked up. The woman was older than her, the makeup too heavy, the hair too brassy and teased too high. There was enough hairspray to withstand a tornado.
“We don’t serve ice cream, which is the accepted remedy for man problems. Did he dump you?”
“Did you find out he was married?”
“What? Uh, no.” Who did this woman think she was? Scully’s annoyance was leading her toward rudeness rapidly.
“Cheatin’ on you?”
“No.” She answered shortly and then wondered why she had answered at all.
The woman slipped into the booth across from Scully, startling her. The nametag on her uniform read ‘Rita’. “He didn’t hit you, did he?”
“Of course not!”
“Good.” Rita relaxed slightly. For the first time Scully really looked into the woman’s eyes. She had been worried, still was, but less than before. Why would this Rita care if some strange woman had problems with a man?
“So, does he look like a toad?”
“No.” But a small smile was teasing her lips now. The sheer audacity of the woman -
“Lousy in bed?”
“Definitely not.” Scully felt her cheeks grow a little warm at that.
“So why are you here?”
This was none of her business, but surprisingly Scully felt like answering. She deflated slightly. “He’s in love with me.”
“Well, that explains . . . nothing. What’s your name?”
“Okay, Dana, let me see if I’ve got this straight. He’s not married; he’s faithful to you and doesn’t hit you. He’s gorgeous - “
“I didn’t say that.”
“Your eyes did, and he’s a jackhammer in bed. And your problem is that he’s in love with you.”
Scully sighed. “He’s . . . he consumes me. I’ve never been loved like this before.”
“You think it will burn out, that he’ll quit lovin’ you.”
Scully was quiet for a moment, then shook her head, “No. He’ll love me as long as we live.”
Rita nodded. “But there’s someone else, better, in your life?”
“No. I mean . . . what if . . . what if I can’t love him enough?” Tears formed in her eyes. “What if I do it wrong and . . . and mess things up?”
The man in the other booth shifted, coughed, closed his mouth for a moment, then was back asleep. In just a heartbeat, the light snoring resumed.
Rita looked back at her, then leaned forward. “Do you know why God gave men a Y chromosome?”
“No.” Scully’s eyebrow was high at that question.
“So they wouldn’t be perfect, like us.”
Scully gave a startled chuckle.
“Honey, if you didn’t love him so much, you wouldn’t be worried about this. You need to cut yourself a break and get home to him. Tell him you’re afraid. Sounds like this man would be willing to wait, even help out.”
Again the woman’s words startled her. Of course Mulder would help her with this. Who else would she turn to? And look how long he’d already waited.
The worry lines seemed to smooth out on Dana’s forehead. She nodded, “yes, he would.” And he would understand better than anyone what she was feeling. Like always - better in tune with her than she was with herself.
“You drive careful now,” Rita stood. “It’s late.” Essentially tossing her out.
Scully nodded, then pulled her purse to her and pulled out a ten, placing it on the table.
“Sweetie, the coffee’s fifty cents and you didn’t touch the pie.”
“This is the most practical therapy session I’ve ever had. Thank you.” Rita had put it in perspective. They would never be like other couples, not being who they were, but together . . .
Rita nodded, “Listen, you bring this guy by, let Rita check him out and see if he’s really worth you.”
Scully blinked, “I . . . I will.” She moved toward the door and let herself out.
The tear slipped from his closed eyes, bringing her back to the present.
“The problem is I couldn’t do it.” She started to smile.
His eyes opened then, puzzled.
“You see, Mulder, it’s not true. It was a good idea, it is a good idea, there’s no reason it can’t work and . . . and I’m in love with you too.”
His mouth fell open, but he couldn’t seem to move the rest of his body. She took care of that for him.
The diner door opened and Rita looked up from her romance novel. The snorer was no where in sight this time. “Dana, Sweetie.” Her eyes moved to the man behind her. “This has got to be him. Um um um! He is gorgeous.”
Mulder blinked and looked over at Scully, uncertain. Who was this woman and why had Scully insisted they pulled in here? They were almost home.
Rita scanned his body, then sighed. “So, no chocolate pie?”
“Uh, no.” Scully was grinning. “We’re on our way back to DC, but I wanted you to see what I meant.”
“I do. You’ll need two coffees to go.” Rita poured two cups and set them on the counter, then leaned closer to Scully and whispered, “velvet jackhammer, huh?”
Mulder watched in confusion as pink tinged Scully’s cheeks. “Yeah, something like that.”
“Well,” Rita leaned back. “You need to come by when you have more time.”
“I will, I promise.” Scully smiled and picked up the cups. Mulder took her elbow and nodded a ‘pleased to meet you’ to Rita, then led her toward the door.
He leaned over, and Rita heard the question, “jackhammer?”
“I’ll explain later, Mulder.”