Mulder looked up as Scully returned to the office. She was reading even as she entered and he smiled at the sight. “Scully, why don’t you cut on out early? We can’t finish the report until we get the lab work back. Go ahead and start your weekend.”
She looked up as she replied. “I have some more to do. You should go on though. I’m sure Jackie would like to see you come home early.”
“Jackie’s out of town this weekend. She and her sister went antiquing or something like that.”
“Oh. I didn’t realize. Well . . .”
He grinned. “So, if one of us gets to leave early it should be you. Give Tony a thrill.”
She turned away without responding; taking the file she had been reading to her desk. He glanced down at his desk and spotted the pink slip. “Oh, I forgot, you got a call from a Jefferson Bell. He said he was an attorney.” She didn’t respond, which made him look up. She wouldn’t meet his eyes and seemed uncomfortable. “You, uh, you and Tony buying a house or something?”
“No,” she finally said, without offering anything more. Of course that roused his curiosity.
“Scully? What’s going on?”
“Nothing. Are you leaving?”
He drew himself up then and rose from the chair. She tensed slightly and he spotted it immediately. “You can’t get rid of me that easily you know. Scully, talk to me.”
“There’s nothing to talk about.”
“A lawyer is calling you and you don’t want me to know about it.”
“That’s right.” She rose then as well and started for the door.
He took hold of her arm and she looked up at him, her eyebrow rising. He released her, but didn’t move out of her space. “Please. Scully, it’s me.”
She seemed to deflate, and leaned against the desk. She appeared to be studying his shoes. “Tony’s left me. Jeff is his attorney.”
“He’s . . . he’s what?” Mulder gaped at her.
She finally looked up at him. “I believe you heard me.”
She sighed. “Mulder - “
“When did Tony leave you?”
“When we got home from Seattle he was waiting for me. He was already packed. He said we didn’t have a marriage and he was leaving,” she spoke matter of factly, no emotion.
“That was . . . that was over two weeks ago! Why didn’t you say something?”
“What was I supposed to say? It happened, I’m fine. You have your own life.”
“My own life? Damn it, Scully, you don’t keep things like that from me.”
“Look, this isn’t something that you need to worry - “
His look stopped her. “You don’t mean that.”
“If you’re not going to take advantage of the opportunity to leave early, I - “
He stepped away from her then and grabbed up his coat. “Come on.”
“Come on?” she just looked at him.
He nodded and took her arm.
“What do you think you’re - “ but she was moving with him by now. Without explanation he led her to the garage and to his car. “Mulder?”
He opened the door for her and she just stared at him. “Get in.”
“Where do you think you’re taking me?”
“You trust me, don’t you?”
She rolled her eyes at that, but seated herself in his car. She watched out the side window, leaving herself in his hands as she had so many times before. Nothing was said until he pulled into a parking lot. She looked at the sign, then over at him.
“Part of my vast knowledge of the female psyche is that whenever there’s a man problem, the remedy is ice cream.”
“Is that so?” she tried not to smile.
He nodded earnestly. She shook her head indulgently as she watched him exit the car. After a moment, she followed.
He led her to a table in back, holding the pink and white striped chair for her. She sat, looking up at him. “You’re insane, you know?”
“Never denied it, Scully.” He took the seat across from her and smiled at the waitress who brought them glasses of water. She shook her head indulgently as he ordered her a chocolate sundae with extra chocolate syrup and a cherry. He ordered himself a cup of mint chocolate chip.
They talked of nothing of consequence, just enjoying the cold sweetness and each other’s company. When they finished he led her back to the car. “What do you want to do now?”
“I should probably go on home, Mulder. I have laundry and - “
“Oh come on. We should have dinner or something.”
“We just finished eating a ton of ice cream, Mulder. You can’t be hungry.”
“No, I guess not, but I’m not ready to go home to an empty apartment,” he said as he looked around. “What about a movie?”
They settled on a science fiction flick he hadn’t seen and sat apart from the others so that she could nitpick to him. She was laughing when they left the theater and though he tried to look loftily annoyed, his eyes were twinkling.
He took her back to the Hoover, to pick up her car and offered to follow her home. The look of scorn didn’t faze him. “Be careful, Scully.”
“I’ll see you Monday, Mulder. Have a good weekend.” Without waiting for a response, she let herself in her car and started the engine.
Late the next morning, she answered a knock on her door. There stood Mulder in jeans and t-shirt, grinning at her.
“No case, Mulder. It’s Saturday,” she said as she moved to let him in.
“No case, honest. I thought we could have lunch.”
“Well we have to eat, and it is that time.” He shot his innocent look at her.
“Mulder, I don’t need a babysitter. I’m fine.”
His grimace caused her to chuckle lightly. “Come on. We’re both on our own this weekend. Let’s have some lunch and hang out.”
“Hang out? You are getting weirder every day.”
He just grinned.
They ended up at a hotdog stand with the tourists on the mall. He even followed her around the new art exhibit. Again there was no talk of cases; they just enjoyed one another’s company.
She was surprised when she checked her watch, to discover it was dinner time. He spotted the movement. “Hungry?”
“I can’t believe we’ve played tourist all afternoon.”
“I’m a charming companion,” he said loftily.
“Right,” she replied as she rolled her eyes.
“You cut me to the quick,” he gazed upward as he placed his hand over his heart. “Eat dinner with me, by way of apology.”
“Mulder, we’ve been together all day.”
“Okay, I’ll take you home right after we eat. I suppose you’ll be going to Mass tomorrow.”
Her face fell. “Yes, while I still can.”
“What?” His brow furrowed and his hand rested on her shoulder, caressing it lightly.
“Well, after the divorce, I won’t be able . . . “
“Oh crap, I never thought - “
“It’s okay. I didn’t go to Mass for years. Now . . . “ She shrugged.
“That’s not fair. I’m sorry.”
She gave him a sad smile. “Thank you.” She squeezed his hand. “Now come on, if we’re going to eat . . .”
He nodded and his hand came to rest on the small of her back, leading her toward the car. She turned away so that he wouldn’t see the tears that formed in her eyes at his warm, steadying touch.
She came out of the church into the bright sunshine and paused, letting her eyes adjust. Something made her look toward the bottom of the steps. There, leaning against the rail was Mulder. This time he was dressed less casually, though still not in suit and tie. She stopped and just looked at him.
“What? I can’t be in the neighborhood?” His puppy dog face greeted her.
“Mulder, what are you doing here?”
“I was hungry. Can’t a guy get hungry around this time of day?”
“We don’t spend this much time together at work,” she muttered. She didn’t continue on down the steps.
“Is it a problem, Scully?” He waited, not moving closer.
“I told you I don’t need to be ‘looked after’. I’m okay.”
“I know you are, but I am your friend.”
She seemed to relax at those words and continued on down the steps. “Yes, you are. But just so you understand, I have no intentions of becoming a . . . a nuisance to you in your free time. Jackie will home tonight - “
“But she’s not home now. And for the record, Scully, you’re not the nuisance type. I want you to let me know what you need, time off, a strong back . . . a shoulder.”
She nodded, but made no commitment. Instead she fell in step beside him; in a very short time she felt his warm hand on her back.
Mulder rose when he heard the door open and hurried to greet her. His wife looked up at him and gave him a quick hug and kiss on the cheek. Jackie was tall for a woman, 5’10”, with long dark hair, which was pulled back in a casual ponytail. She grimaced at the rough stubble on his face.
He rubbed his cheek ruefully. “Sorry.” She just smiled and let him take the suitcase from her hand. “Did you have a good trip?”
“Susan found a table she liked. She’s still looking for end tables.”
Mulder had already moved on from the conversation and carried her bag into the bedroom. She followed; a slight frown on her face. “Are you okay? Did you get a case?”
“What? Oh, no, but I did get some bad news.” He laid the suitcase on the bed, but she was watching him.
“What kind of bad news?”
“Tony left Scully.” He wasn’t looking at her, so he didn’t see her freeze, or her face go pale.
“Did you say - “
He nodded. “Can you believe it? The man’s a fucking idiot. But she seems to be doing okay.”
“Tha-that’s good,” she managed to stammer out.
“Yeah, I took her to dinner last night, got her to talk about it,” he continued, oblivious to her discomposure. “And I got after her for not telling me right away.” He shook his head.
“That was nice of you.”
“It’s Scully.” He shrugged. “Well, I’ll let you get unpacked. Have you eaten?”
She shook her head. “I’m not hungry. Go ahead if you want anything.”
“I’ll get something later maybe. Do you need any help?”
“No, you go back to your game. I’ll be out in a minute.”
He kissed her on the cheek and returned to the main room. Alone, she sank onto the bed and closed her eyes. Good lord, what was she going to do now?
Scully took the soapy dish from Jackie’s hand and rinsed it. It was uncomfortable being here, though she understood the gesture. She had tried too, a couple of times when she’d first been married and Mulder had just begun dating Jackie, to get the two couples together. It hadn’t worked. She was too nervous having Mulder over, even with his girlfriend. Apparently they had felt the same way.
After those two attempts, it had been allowed to die naturally. Her only interaction with Jackie was when Scully answered the office phone when Jackie called. It was enough. Scully took a deep breath. “I wanted to thank you again for having me over tonight. You really didn’t have to.”
Jackie glanced over at her. “We wanted to. Fox is concerned about you being alone so much.”
Scully stared at the rinse water. “I know, but there’s no need. I really am fine.”
“It, it’s none of my business, but are you sure there’s no possibility of a reconciliation with you and Tony? I mean, counseling or . . . “
Scully shook her head. “I don’t think so. Our lives didn’t mesh. He wanted more of a wife, family, than I could give him. My job doesn’t lend itself to normal hours, as you well know.”
“You didn’t want children? I mean, maybe - “
Scully looked over at her startled. “Didn’t Mulder tell you?”
“Tell me what?” Jackie quit washing the plate in her hand and looked over at Scully.
“I, I’m barren. I can’t have children. I assumed you knew.”
Jackie’s eyes widened. “No, I’m sorry. He never . . . “
Scully shrugged. “I suppose he thought it was mine to tell. I’ve known about it for a long time. Most of the time I think I’m used to the idea; occasionally I . . . well, there’s nothing that can be done, so I try not to dwell on it.”
Jackie nodded, more than a little disturbed by the information, especially the fact that she hadn’t been aware. “Well, I know Fox wants to be supportive. He’s mentioned more than once how good you were to him when his mother died.”
Scully sighed at that. “I know. Teena’s suicide nearly destroyed him.”
“S-suicide?” Jackie dropped the plate back into the soapy water.
“Uh, yes. Did, didn’t you know?”
Jackie was pale now, but striving to keep her composure. “I, I suppose there are a lot of things about Fox that he hasn’t shared with me.” She turned back to the sink.
“I doubt that. You are his wife.”
“Yes. I am.” She stared at the ring on her soapy hand. “I suppose you know why that is as well.”
“I don’t understand.”
“You know why Fox asked me to marry him,” her voice was tight, brittle. Part of her knew she should just shut her mouth and leave things as they were, but two revelations in such quick succession had unnerved her. This woman knew her husband so much better than she did. It was time to admit it.
“Because he fell in love with you, of course.” Scully looked up at the woman.
Jackie looked down at her, her face rigid. “He married me because you married Tony.”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about.” Scully actually took a step back from the woman.
“Don’t you? Didn’t you think it odd that he got married so quickly after you did?”
“No. You got married when it was the right time for the two of you. I had nothing - “
Jackie shook her head. “It’s not been a problem. I love Fox and I know he’s fond of me. While you were married to Tony, I knew I had nothing to worry about. Now . . .” She took a deep breath and threw caution to the winds. “Frankly, I need to know your plans.” She had kept her voice low since Fox was in the next room, but the question came out before she realized she was going to ask it.
“Plans? I, I don’t have any plans. Jackie, you don’t have anything to worry about where I’m concerned.”
Before Jackie could respond, Mulder stuck his head in the kitchen. “Hey, how long are you guys going to be? It’s getting lonely out here.”
Scully dried off her hands. “Actually I need to get going.”
“So early?” Mulder’s look of disappointment was unmistakable.
“Yes. I promised Charlie I’d call tonight and I have some things I need to do at home. I really appreciate dinner.”
“Scully, you could call Charlie from here,” he pressed.
“No, really; I need to get home. Thanks again and I’ll see you in the morning.”
Mulder looked more than a little puzzled, but decided to drop it. Jackie hadn’t said anything.
The door was open, but Scully was no where in sight when he arrived the next morning. Since her briefcase was there, he didn’t worry about it. He got himself a cup of coffee and booted up his computer.
He turned when she entered. “Morning. How’s Charlie?”
Something about her tone made him pause and look up. “You okay?”
“Yes. I, I was just in Skinner’s office.”
Mulder rolled his eyes. “What’s wrong now?”
“Nothing. I just . . . Mulder, I’m thinking of asking for a transfer.”
“A what?” He slammed the mug down on the desk, sloshing coffee on the wood veneer.
“Calm down, Mulder. Think about it; now is a good time for me to, to make some changes. I’m going to have to move anyway; I certainly don’t need an apartment that size for just me. This is a turning point in my life and maybe I should take advantage of that. There’s a temporary assignment in Chicago. I spoke with Skinner about it and he agrees that I should check it out.”
“Oh he agrees, does he? He’s got no right to send you - “
“Mulder, listen to me, he’s not sending me anywhere. I asked for the opportunity.”
He stepped back from her, the look of betrayal on his face stabbing through her. “You, you want to leav- go?”
“It’s not that. I, I just need a clean break. It has nothing to do with you.”
“Nothing to do with me? Are you, are you serious?”
“Look, it’s just a temporary assignment. I might find that I hate Chicago.”
“Or that you love it.” He turned away from her then and left the office.
She closed her eyes, his pain was real, physical, but what could she do? Scully sank down into her chair and went over the conversation with Jackie for what seemed the thousandth time since last night. She’d had no idea that Jackie felt that way. She was sure that she had buried her feelings for Mulder so deep that no one would be aware.
She let her face fall into her hands. Apparently the only people unaware of her feelings for Mulder were Mulder and herself.
Tony’s words returned to her. “You don’t want me, Dana.” He had stood in their living room, so calm, so . . . detached. His bags were already packed and waiting by the door. “I thought there was a chance, when I met you. I thought you were being honest about your relationship with Mulder. Oh, maybe you were, maybe you really don’t know how much you love him, or how much he loves you. It doesn’t matter to me anymore. “
“Tony, I . . . “
“What? Are you going to offer me an explanation? You follow him blindly because you think he’s right?”
“I don’t follow him blindly,” she managed to get out.
He just watched her, as though enjoying the color that came to her face. After a moment he turned toward his bags. “You go on telling yourself that, Dana. I’ll have Jeff call you with the legalities in a few days.” He looked back at her then, “I’m not angry, Dana, not anymore. But I’m not going to live my life in some other man’s shadow. I hope what you have with him will be enough for you, since you seem content with it.”
He had left the apartment before she could think of any response.
She let herself into the apartment and flipped on the light. It was late and she was exhausted. She’d done three autopsies today for the task force. That wasn’t that bad, but she missed the field work that she and . . . No, stop there.
That was another life. A life he shared with his wife. Stop it! Self pity was destructive and, and totally unhelpful.
Why was he so much on her mind today? Usually she could go hours without thinking of him, but today it was as though he were just outside the autopsy bay waiting for her and ready to make some ascerbic comment about her by-the-book theory. She’d actually looked up as though expecting him to walk through the swinging doors, not once, but twice.
She slipped her shoes off and wiggled her toes, rotating her ankles as she padded toward the tiny kitchenette. She opened the refrigerator, but closed it again without taking anything out. Maybe she’d have an appetite later; though it wasn’t likely, not anymore.
She turned to the counter and pulled out a bottle of wine, opening it with no fanfare. She poured a large glass and took it with her into the bedroom. Once there, she changed into sweats. She was cold all the time here and it wasn’t even winter yet. No, even in her state of denial, she knew the temperature wasn’t the reason for her chill. It was loneliness, loneliness for him and there was no help for that. She’d come here of her own free will. Mulder had a life, a life that didn’t include her. The irony of that was not lost on her, but that’s the way it was.
Maybe she would soak in a bath later. Right now she didn’t have the energy even for that. She could usually push this self-pity away. What was wrong with her tonight?
She sank onto the uncomfortable sofa. If . . . no, when she moved here permanently, she’d be happy to get her own things again. The novelty of living in a residence hotel had worn off quickly. The furnishings were adequate, barely, the bed comfortable, nearly, and the distance from DC . . . She took another drink from her glass of wine and closed her eyes, leaning her head against the back of the couch.
A knock caused her head to jerk forward. Oh god, not that annoying neighbor of hers again. How plain could she be in showing she wasn’t interested? She wasn’t interested in anyone. She’d learned her lesson. Apparently rudeness wasn’t enough, time to be brutal.
She rose, putting her glass on the wood laminate end table.
She pulled the door open. “Listen, Eric, I - “ that’s as far as she got.
Her eyes traveled up to his face. Her mouth opened, but no sound emerged.
“May I come in?” His voice actually caused a physical reaction, but she still couldn’t speak. Instead she stepped back to allow him entry.
He looked around once inside as he waited for her to close the door. There were no personal touches in the living room, though he did see the glass of wine.
“I’ve been on the road for awhile, mind if I use your facilities?”
“Through, uh through there.” She pointed toward her bedroom.
“May I have a glass of wine?” he asked as he moved toward her room.
She didn’t answer, but headed for the kitchen. She pulled out a second glass, but her hands were shaking too much to fill it. What was he doing here? She hadn’t ‘felt’ him. She hadn’t! Instead she carried the wine and glass into the living room. He could pour his own when he got back - Oh shit!
She rushed toward the room, but it was too late. He was returning, the frame in his hand.
“Nice picture. When was it taken?” She looked away, but he moved into her space. “It looks like we’re at the guys’ place. That’s right, isn’t it? We were playing keep-away with Frohike’s tape.” He looked again at the picture; they were both smiling, clowning around. He had his arm around her trying to steal back the video tape she was hiding.
She sank onto the sofa and after a moment picked up her wine and took a drink. He spotted the bottle and glass, and poured himself a generous glass full. After taking a sip, he sat it down on the coffee table and faced her.
“I think we need to talk.”
“Mulder, there’s noth - “
“I think there is. First I want to apologize for Jackie. She finally told me what she said to you.”
She looked down at her hands. “She was concerned about her marriage. I certainly underst - “
“And I want to apologize that she said it instead of me,” he interrupted.
Her head jerked up then. “What?”
“She was right you know. You are the reason I married her,” he continued conversationally. Scully just watched him, her mind reeling. “When you met Tony you seemed so happy. I wanted that for you, I wanted you to be happy even if it wasn’t with me. And I still had . . . I still had part of you that I owned.” He shrugged.
“I’m sorry, Mulder. I’m sorry. I never thought my mistake would cause such problems for you.” She looked anywhere but at him.
“When? Scully, when did you realize it was a mistake? Tell me.”
She sighed, he would never let this go, not Mulder. “On our honeymoon.”
“Your honey- What? What happened on your honeymoon?”
“Mulder - “
“Please.” She looked so miserable, but he had to know.
“I, I called him by the wrong name at an inopportune time.”
Mulder’s eyes widened. “What did he do?”
“I’m not sure he realized. I, I tried to catch it in time and, and I turned it into a moan.”
“Oh God.” Mulder rose abruptly, turning his back on her. His physical reaction to her words had caught him off guard. The image of her moaning his name while another man loved her was now permanently etched in his psyche.
She didn’t seem to notice his discomfort. “Anyway, after that I couldn’t relax. I didn’t dare let it happen again, so . . . the Ice Queen reasserted herself.”
He turned then to face her. “Scully, you are not an Ice Queen. You never were. Anyone who knows you knows that.”
“It seems to fit pretty well.” She shrugged. “Look, I’ve humiliated myself enough tonight. Please just go home to your wife, go home to Jackie.”
“I can’t do that. Jackie and I have come to a mutual parting of the ways.”
“What?” She looked up then, startled.
He shrugged. “I’ve moved out.”
“Oh Mulder, no.”
“We had a discussion after she finally told me what transpired between the two of you. I can’t believe how long it took me . . . I did a number on myself. I believed you; that you wanted to get away from me.”
“Mulder, I never said - “
“Jackie’s and my talk, it was long overdue. We decided that it was in both of our interests for me to leave. We could continue living my lie, but it just meant continuing to hurt her, especially now that she knew the truth.”
“That I was in love with someone else.”
She shook her head and started to rise. He moved closer and resumed his seat beside her. “Mulder, don’t.”
“I’m just being honest, Scully.”
“Mulder, you found her, you pursued her.”
He nodded. “I suppose, to an extent. Did you ever notice how much she resembles Diana and Phoebe; the same body type and coloring?”
“Of course. I’ve always known that was your type.”
“No. That’s the type of woman that’s attracted to me.”
“Mulder, you could have any woman you want.”
He gave an unamused chuckle. “Right, any woman except the one I want.”
She looked down at her hands then, not facing him. It took him a moment to realize she was crying. He slipped to his knees in front of her and took her face in his hands. His thumbs wiped away the tears.
“Get up, Mulder.” She tried to pull away.
“No, this is a good position to be in to ask you to marry me.”
She jerked back then, but he followed, not releasing her. “Mulder, don’t. Go back to Jackie.”
“I want to be with you.”
“Jackie can give you children.”
“She can’t give me your children and those are the only ones I want.”
“You know I can’t - “
She had no response for that. She finally met his eyes. The expression took her breath away. He was being honest, he loved her. He loved her and, and she loved him. For the first time in ages, she relaxed.
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Mulder, Scully, the Lone Gunman and Skinner all belong to Chris Carter, 10-13 and Fox. No infringement intended.