AUTHOR: Kat Leigh
ARCHIVE: Anywhere. Just drop me a quick mail so I know where it's going.
SPOILERS: post-"all things". Major spoilers for "The Field Where I Died," "Sein Und Zeit," and "Closure."
KEYWORDS: Mulder/Scully romance
SUMMARY: As Scully leaves Mulder's apartment, she remembers all the reasons why romance between them wouldn't work.
DISCLAIMER: X-Files is copyright 20th Century Fox and 1013 productions. I don't own any of the characters.
Normally when she fell asleep in an awkward position or an unfamiliar place, Scully would awake with a jerk, her eyes flying open quickly. But—either because his apartment was as familiar as hers, or she was so sated and comfortable—today, she teetered on the edge of wakefulness, basking in the warm, sleepy feeling her alarm clock systematically destroyed every morning. In her sleepy haze she tried to ignore the fact that, in a scant few hours, she would be expected to show up at work to try and rationalize everything her partner threw at her…
…The same partner who had his warm arm draped across her stomach, his deep breaths disturbing the hair beside her ear.
Whatever fatigue that had been lingering abruptly fled. Careful not to wake the man beside her, she turned slowly so she was facing him. She shifted so his morning breath wasn't hitting her square in the face. Last night she had been so sure of herself, and so sure she had put to rest the regrets seeing Daniel had evoked. But in the light of day, doubts began to form in the recesses of her mind, bubbling to surface with a heart-stopping pop—not doubts of herself and her actions, but doubts for her partner.
She held a short debate with herself on her next move, but finally decided that leaving quietly would be the best option. They would each have time alone before they were forced to make their daily rendezvous in the bowels of the J. Edgar Hoover building.
She didn't need the time, but she feared Mulder would.
Scully slipped from the bed gingerly, allowing his arm to fall against the bed, still outstretched. He made a small noise in the back of his throat, shifting so that he was on his back, rather than his side. But he didn't wake up.
She feared that—if he looked at things differently—Mulder would regret the course of action they had taken last night. After all, it wouldn't have been easy to say no to a woman sliding naked into his bed, especially with all this talk about paths and choices, coupled with a six-hour jet lag—Mulder had an excuse, if he ever chose to use it.
He always held such a single-minded passion that she both loved and hated. He could be so driven and unstoppable, but at the same time, his beliefs were used against him, to hurt him. Ideally, discovering the truth about Samantha should have offered him closure, and the strength to end his search for the truth. But so much had been loss—by each of the partners—that ending their pursuit for a different kind of justice never even seemed a plausible possibility. They needed answers like they needed to breathe.
Scully padded silently across his bedroom, her bared skin getting chilled and losing its sleepy warmth. She picked up her clothes from the floor, entering his bathroom, but leaving the door opened. Her green shirt was inside out, so she fixed it before sliding it over her bed-mussed hair. She reached behind her to zip up her skirt.
She was never one to accept things on command, and her no-nonsense attitude had always complimented Mulder's relentless will to believe. But in some cases, she found herself hurting because he believed. It was these moments when they were out of synch; it was these moments that frightened her.
Diana Fowley had always been an awkward point of miscommunication. It always hurt to think that Mulder still trusted Fowley, even after Scully had found evidence regarding her treachery. But Dana found that she was no longer angry with the woman; Agent Fowley made some bad choices, and Scully pitied her for the mistakes she made, and the alliances she chose to create. It seemed to be a step-up from her former anger and animosity.
Some issues, unlike Diana Fowley, had never formally closed in Scully's mind. The strange case in Apison, Tennessee left her with a bitter taste in the back of her throat. How dare Melissa Riedal convince Mulder she was his soul mate! Mulder had held such longing, such hope, only to have it shattered when his "soul mate" took her own life. Scully never truly believed that what Melissa or Mulder said was true. There were inconsistencies that couldn't be ignored, even when disregarding her Catholic beliefs, which taught against reincarnation.
If Melissa were truly his soul mate, than that would mean he would never again meet up with her while he was in this life. That would make his life meaningless—he would never have a chance to be happy. It would mean they constantly lived lives of agony and separation, coming together only to be torn asunder once more.
Scully didn't want Mulder to believe that—not only for his sake, but for hers, as well. But he did believe, and that hurt.
She turned away from the mirror, picking up her jacket and donning it. He was still lying on his back; the arm that had been outstretched was now curled on top of his stomach. She watched him tenderly for a moment, fighting the surprisingly strong urge to go wake him up before she left. She finally turned, getting her shoes from the living room and closing his door softly behind her.
As the door clicked shut quietly, Mulder's eyes opened.
Scully liked the task of driving. It was something she could accomplish easily, and she was the one in control, which was reassuring. She only allowed Mulder to take away that control, trusting him even more than she trusted herself. She knew her limitations, and she knew she made mistakes, but he didn't share her vulnerabilities, only understood and respected them. At a time, being known so well would have frightened her, but not anymore.
Checking the car radio clock, she estimated that she would have about an hour to take a shower and get ready for work. Of course, thinking of work made her think of her partner.
How could she settle for being second best? The woman he believed to be his soul mate was dead; did that mean that he would constantly wonder what might have been, had Melissa lived? Would Scully always be standing in the shadow of what he could have had?
She never stopped to think that Mulder would believe she was unsure of herself. She never stopped to consider what she could have had, if she'd stayed with Daniel, or Jack, or Ethan…because she didn't deem those possibilities. She had grown from the woman she once was, becoming wiser and stronger, but also more pessimistic and world-weary. The woman who was with those men wasn't the same one who had just spent the night with her partner, and she would never be the same again. But Scully would never trade her knowledge for bliss—that was just the kind of person she was, and had always been.
Sometimes she forgot that she wasn't the only one who had changed. Mulder had come so far, taking it all in stride with only a wry smile and a slight sag of the shoulders. He had uncovered the truth of Samantha's disappearance, but in his pursuit he had lost his father and mother. And anything that hurt Scully touched him as sure as if it had happened to him. With his cocky façade and dry wit, it was easy to forget how compassionate and empathetic he was—one of the things that made him a great profiler, while simultaneously wearing on his heart. Futile though it was, she often found herself wishing he could let go of the pain he was gripping so tenaciously. She knew his scars would remain, a little sorer and a little tenderer than most, but only scars, nonetheless.
Allowing herself to reminisce, she recalled how happy he had seemed last night, touching her in ways that a Demerol-induced "I love you" could not. She bit her lip unconsciously as she pulled up in front of her apartment complex, wondering if her fears were misplaced. Reversing their situations, she would be concerned if she awoke to find him gone without a word.
But she steeled her resolve once more. She wanted him to form his own opinions—his own beliefs, so they could hash it out once they got to the office. At this last thought she made a face, disgusted at how she was treating this like a case.
She parked her car, walking up to her apartment and finding her key. Her fingers skimmed over the key to Mulder's apartment. The ink that wrote out his name had long since faded, but the masking tape still stuck, though it was worn smooth and there was dirt on the edges. She mentally shook herself out of her reverie, opening her door and taking in her familiar surroundings. She found herself peculiarly wishing she were back in Mulder's bedroom, liking the way that his sheets had smelled like him—like them.
She slipped her jacket off, throwing it on the couch. She checked her answering machine before she could take a shower. The light blinked, indicating she had two new messages.
She clicked the "play" button, her eyebrows lifting when the automated machine told her that the first message was left at 6:03 a.m. this morning. When his voice came through it was oddly comforting.
"Hey, Scully, I've been thinking. What if—throughout eternity—we had one life that was right, and all the others were wrong? And there were signs along the way to pay attention to." She smiled lightly at the way he used her words from last night to fit his beliefs. "Then all of my other lives would lead to this one. One wrong turn, and I wouldn't be with you. That says a lot. That says a lot, a lot, a lot. That's probably more than I should be leaving on your answering machine."
The message clicked off, signaling its end. She wondered how Mulder knew the exact things to say to pull her out of her slump. No longer dreading the day ahead, she slipped her shoes off as her second message began playing.
"It's me again, Scully. You left your panties at my place."
She pulled a face at his joke, but her heart felt lighter. She was his choice, and he was hers. That's all that mattered.
Author's Note: This was my first X-Files story. I'm not real good at action scenes so I figured I'd start out with a simpler story. Feedback is much appreciated. Please send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.