Time Off - 2
 
 
 
 
Scully stared at the receiver for a moment, then placed it back in the
cradle with a soft smile.  She rose from her bed and moved to the bath.
 She ran her tub and sank into the fragrant bubbles.
 
That was not exactly how she had planned her evening, talking to Mulder
for a couple of hours.  They didnít talk like that when they were
together.  
 
ďI miss you.Ē  That remark had caught her off guard.  Mulder rarely
said things like that.  Now the comment about what she was wearing,
that was familiar.  He had actually seemed interested in what she was
doing, without some paranormal phenomena.  Talking dolls indeed.
 
When the water cooled, she rose, showered off and slipped into a gown. 
She hadnít brought her normal pajamas on this trip.  Staying in a bed
and breakfast made her feel pampered and she didnít need the
button-down, professional look that she adopted when out of town with
Mulder.
 
The gown felt sensuous against her body, as did the sheets. Not many of
the motels that they stayed in used 300 count Egyptian cotton sheets. 
This trip was a gift to herself, time off.  
 
So why was she contemplating going back to DC early?  Mulder, thatís
why.  But getting back into town, would that be a mistake?  Would he
immediately launch them into another X-File?  They couldnít seem to
spend time together otherwise.
 
Wait, that wasnít exactly true.  Lately they had spent some off duty
time together.  Heíd brought a movie over to her place a couple of
times, and they had pizza at his place fairly often now even when there
wasnít a definite case to discuss.
 
She flashed on her evening with Eddie Van Blundht.  That had been an
eye opener for her.  She and Mulder didnít have Ďtalksí, not then.  For
a long time after that, he had kept his distance.  She would never
forget the look on his face when he had broken down her door.  The fact
that he had raced to save her had been lost on her for too long.  Her
mortification at being found in such a position by the very person she
thought she was about to kiss so strong.
 
It had taken her awhile to realize that he was as embarrassed about the
situation as she was.  They hadnít really discussed it, but she knew
him better now.  He really did consider himself a loser with women.
 
She stretched in the sheets, the man obviously didnít look in the
mirror often enough.  Again she smiled, well look at those ties, of
course he didnít.  She fell asleep with the smile on her face.
 
The next morning she allowed herself to sleep late, but it was a
beautiful fall morning and the sun coming through her window was
inviting.  She dressed and ate a light breakfast in the dining room,
then using the map she had printed from the internet, began her walking
tour and antique shopping.  She had no intention of buying anything
specific; it was just something to do at a leisurely pace.
 
She'd obviously spent too much time with Mulder rather than not enough.
 Going through these beautifully preserved older buildings, she found
herself wondering if any of them had stories of haunts.  She shook her
head, obviously too much time.
 
But it would have been a more pleasant trip with someone.  Why hadn't
it occurred to her to see if someone could come along?  A little
honesty here, Dana.  She hadn't seen any of her friends in so long they
probably didn't remember her.  Besides, the logistics would be
difficult between husbands, kids, soccer games . . .
 
She could have checked to see if Mom was available, but that would lead
to the inevitable 'why don't you get out with your friends more?'
conversation.
 
Hell, the truth was she didn't mind not seeing them most of the time. 
The infrequent conversations had less and less to do with her life and
interests as time had passed.  She had no regrets about not setting up
a practice, and talk of family, kids, even divorce didn't hold her
attention.
 
Maybe if Emily had lived and she'd gotten custody . . . No, don't go
there.  It was a beautiful day and she was free to enjoy it as she
wished.  She didn't have to finish the walking tour, she could go
shopping for the rest of the day, indulge herself in a new suit, or
some non-work, sexy shoes.
 
She didn't even have to stay here.  She could drive off in any
direction and stop when she saw something interesting.  She was
startled to realize the image of Mulder was in her mind, wearing that
new gray suit.  He'd gotten the pants cut a little higher this time and
- Jesus, Dana! She blushed realizing just how closely she had observed
him in those slacks.
 
Maybe she just needed to get laid.  Not very likely.  Besides, the last
time she'd even considered a date with someone she met out of town,
she'd nearly been thrown into a furnace.  She wasn't a good judge of
character when it came to men, hadn't Ed Jerse put the final nail in
that?
 
She looked around and spotted a tea shop.  Lunch.  That should get her
mind off of Mulder's slacks.  She opened the door and couldn't quite
suppress a smile.  Mulder would hate this place - chintz on the chairs,
hanging ferns, delicate furniture with real china.  Places like this
made her normally graceful partner into a blundering moose.  His long
arms and legs seemed to grow to ungainly proportions and move on their
own.
 
"Will someone be joining you?"
 
The cool voice startled her back to the present.  "No, thank you.  I'm
alone."
 
"Of course.  Please follow me."  The older woman glided off and Dana
followed.  Shit, the woman reminded her of Mrs. Mulder, aristocratic
and aloof.  Her appetite dropped.  
 
She was seated at a lovely small table and presented with the short
menu.  There were live flowers on the table and as she looked around,
she realized she wasn't the only woman sitting alone.  There was
definitely a higher percentage of women.  In fact, she saw only two men
and both were older, here with their wives of probably 50+ years.
 
That caused her mood to fall further.  Together for more than fifty
years.  That wasn't in her future.  Her parents had had 42 years,
Mulder's only 15.  She shook her head, why did her thoughts keep
drifting to him?  It was dumb and becoming uncomfortable.
 
"Have you decided?"  The voice of the young woman caused her to jump. 
"I'm sorry; I didn't mean to startle you."
 
"No, you didnít.  I'd like the fruit plate with chicken salad."
 
"Yes ma'am, and to drink?  We have a special home blend of hot tea."
 
"That would be fine.  Thank you."  As soon as she was alone again,
Scully pulled the small visitor's guide she'd picked up at one of her
stops and opened it.  But she didn't focus on the words.
 
This trip was a sham, a throw-back to the life she'd envisioned for
herself years ago.  Life was what happened while you were making plans.
 In her case, Mulder had happened.
 
She'd never seen that coming.  He'd been a total surprise to her, an
enigma as well as, face it, a jerk.  She was used to the men that saw
no reason for women in their profession - whatever field that was,
physics, medicine, the Bureau.  But that hadn't been Mulder's problem. 
She wasn't even sure he knew she was female in the beginning.  Of
course, running to his room in a storm, wearing only her underwear had
probably gotten through even to him.  She smiled gently at that memory.
 A gentleman, Mulder had been the consummate gentleman that night.
 
She shook off thoughts of him and returned to the pamphlet.  Her lunch
was excellent which did lift her spirits some, but the sparkle of the
day seemed gone.
 
She finally gave in and returned to the B&B.  She opened the door and a
movement over to her right drew her attention.  A tall, dark hair man
was looking at the brochures.  Mulder?  Had he come to find her?  She
took a step toward him, her mouth open to speak when he turned.
 
He was younger than Mulder, not as filled out when she really looked at
him, and he had eyes only for the young brunette.  He returned to the
counter and gave her a kiss.  Unexpected tears formed in Dana's eyes. 
She turned away.
 
"I hope you two have a wonderful honeymoon.  We'll take the bags
upstairs.  Go on in the parlor and have a glass of wine."  The hostess
led them into the next room as the young handyman picked up their bags
and headed for their room.
 
Dana waited until the lobby was empty, then moved quickly to the
stairs.  She hurried to her room.  Honeymooners.  She closed her eyes
and leaned against the door.  Why had she even thought that man was
Mulder?   He didn't know where she was.  Okay, he was an FBI agent, but
that didn't mean he would search for her.
 
No, there was no reason for him to come.  They'd had a conversation
last night.  Just a conversation, like friends.  That shouldn't have
caused her to have him on her mind all day.  She wasn't going to call
him tonight.  She shouldn't have last night.
 
She'd take a bath and go on to bed.  She had no appetite for dinner
anyway.  Dana reached into her pocket and pulled out her phone to turn
it off.
 
She almost dropped it when it rang in her hand.  It was automatic to
answer.   "Hello?"
 
"Hi."
 
Damn that voice.  It was huskier now, slightly damaged and he sounded
like a walking wet dream.
 
"Uh, Scully?  It's me.  Is this a bad time?"
 
"No, no.  I just walked in."
 
"Oh.  Did you have a good day?"
 
"It was fine.  I took a walking tour, saw the historical part of town."
 
"Any haunted buildings?"  He asked with a grin in his voice.
 
She closed her eyes, way too long.  "Not that I know of."  She said
dryly.
 
"Scully, you okay?"  He sounded somber now, slightly concerned.  She
sank down onto the bed.
 
"Yes.  What did you do today?"  She asked with a lighter tone.
 
"Me?  Well, I'm probably going to have to hock something to get my dry
cleaning out, and I did laundry.  My underwear drawer is full of clean
things again."
 
She chuckled.  "I guess that's good news.  What else?"
 
"Well," she could hear him get comfortable on his couch, though she
couldn't say exactly how she knew that.  "I cleaned out my
refrigerator, and I dusted."
 
"You dusted?"
 
"Hey, I've dusted before."  He sounded slightly stung.
 
"When?"  Was her quick retort.
 
"I didn't write down the date."
 
"Just give me a decade, Mulder."
 
He harrumphed, but didnít directly respond.  They were both quiet for a
moment, then Mulder got up his courage.  "Did, uh, did you decide if
you were going to stay there the rest of your time off?"
 
"Well, actually I was thinking about moving on.  I'm footloose and
fancy free, right?" She tried for the lighter tone, but it sounded
false, even to her.
 
"Did something happen?"  He was getting some kind of vibe that worried
him.
 
"A, uh, a honeymoon couple moved in next door, and . . . " she trailed
off, why the hell had she said that?  "Uh, what about you?  Have a big
case waiting on you for Monday?"
 
"Oh, uh, no.  Since you were going to be out of town and I'd never want
to ditch you, I decided to take a couple of days off myself.  I'm
footloose too."
 
There was silence on her end, but he didn't give himself time to think
about that.
 
"It'd be real dumb to think about being footloose together, wouldn't
it?"
 
Now he took in the silence.  God, what had he done?  It was just that
last night had been so comfortable, talking with her.  It had been fun.
 
On her end of the line, she wasn't sitting silent as much as struck
dumb.  He, he wanted to be with her on their time off?
 
"Uh, Scully, that's okay.  I shouldn't have - "
 
"Did you have some place in mind?"  She found her voice before he could
retract his question.
 
"I, uh, I . . ." He needed to think fast, "How about Massachusetts?"
 
"The whole state?" But she realized she was smiling now.
 
"Uh, I'll find a place and call you back.  How's that?"
 
"Mulder, you don't have to - "
 
"I want to.  Maybe we could head over to Salem or down to the Vineyard.
 Go get some dinner and I'll get back to you with directions.  Okay?"
 
There was only the slightest hesitation, maybe he only felt it because
he was so anxious to hear her reply.  "Okay, I'll wait to hear from
you.  Mulder, you're sure?"
 
"I'm sure.  I'll see you tomorrow."