Author: Gillian Leigh
Genre: Romance/Angst (What cancer fic isn't angsty?)
Summary: Cancer arc. Dinner, rain and a sidewalk conversation in front of a mysterious church. MSR, of course.
Author's Notes: This is definitely a first for me, a story with only implied MSR, no smut (implied or otherwise), no marriage proposals, no babies... Good Lord I'm slipping.... Anyway, it's one of my favorites. Read on.
Mulder cringed as a drunken Daisy filled Charles's car with fish parts.
"Promise me that you'll never get mad enough to do that to me, okay Scully?" he said jokingly.
"Mulder, if I knew that was an option, you would've had a fish-filled car long ago," she replied, and he could hear the smile in her tired voice. He focused his eyes back on the television, which was showing Mystic Pizza. He relished getting to spend this time with Scully, the time after her chemo. It was the fourth day after the treatment, and because she was done vomiting, these were the days they spent lounging around the apartment, watching movies and playing board games. Some days, if Scully felt especially well, they would venture out for a short walk, or take a ride and get lunch. Today it was pajamas, movies, and popcorn.
"It's ironic that you like this movie so much, Scully," Mulder said, and she turned in his embrace to look at him.
"Why is that?" she asked.
"Because I got terrible food poisoning in Mystic Connecticut about a year before they made this movie..."
"Let me guess," she began with a grin. "You had pizza?" He nodded. She laughed. "Only you, Mulder. Only you." She shook her head briefly before letting it fall on his shoulder. Mulder rubbed her frail shoulder, and buried his face in her hair, inhaling the scent of her strawberry shampoo. Underneath the blanket, Scully took Mulder's hand in hers, intertwining their fingers.
"Thank you," she whispered, raising her head to look up at him. "Thank you for going through this with me. I'm so grateful, and honored, Mulder." For not the first time in their partnership, he was left speechless. It occurred to him then; he was in love with her. When he finally remembered how to form coherent sentences, he cleared his throat, and spoke quietly.
"There's no need to thank me. I would do anything for you." '...because I love you...' he added mentally. A tear slid down her cheek, and she squeezed his hand.
"Mulder, I'm tired," she said, quietly, closing her eyes.
"We'll take a nap then," he said, and realized that she was asleep before he managed to speak the words. Mulder watched the movie until its end, and then the TV shut off, and he felt his eyelids drooping as the VCR whirred, rewinding the tape. He was almost asleep when a knock at the door startled him. He eased himself out of the bed and hurried to the door, pulling it open.
"Agent Mulder?" It was Assistant Director Skinner. Mulder mentally cringed. He couldn't imagine how bad this looked, him answering the door in Scully's apartment, wearing his pajamas in the middle of the afternoon. It was apparent to Skinner that Mulder had been at Scully's apartment all day, if not since the night before, but he was not going to address it. He'd come to suspect that his two agents were involved, but he'd come to the conclusion that it had not affected their work, and what they did outside the office was their own business.
"Sir, I can explain--" Mulder began, but Skinner raised a hand to silence him.
"I just dropped by to see how Scully was feeling and give her these. Tell her I hope she feels better," he said, handing Mulder a bouquet of mixed flowers, including roses, carnations and daisies. Working hard to keep his jaw from dropping, Mulder looked at the Assistant Director and said,
"Thank you, Sir. I'll be sure to tell her." Skinner nodded and walked away. Closing the door, Mulder shook his head. His boss thought he and Scully were sleeping together. With a sign, he walked into the kitchen and found a pitcher which could substitute as a vase, filled it with water and placed the flowers in it. Finding a place to put them was another obstacle; nearly every available surface in Scully's living room was covered with flowers. He smiled; most of them were from him. Moving a stack of magazines, Mulder set the pitcher down on the end table, putting the magazines on the shelf under Scully's coffee table.
"Who're they from?" he turned around to find Scully standing in her living room, bathrobe pulled on haphazardly over her pajamas.
"Skinner," he said. Her eyebrows went up.
"And you answered the door?" she asked. Mulder nodded.
"I tried to explain that I stayed with you after your chemo treatments, but he didn't give me a chance. I think he's just been added to the list of people who firmly believe that we're sleeping together." Scully laughed, and walked over to examine the flowers Skinner had gotten her.
"How many different bets are there in the office pool now?" she asked, rearranging the flowers to make them more aesthetically pleasing. Mulder grinned and said,
"Well, there's the one where they bet on when we'll get caught going at it in the office... And there's the one where they bet on the date we'll run off and get married somewhere..." He paused. "I can't think of any other ones..."
Scully rolled her eyes. "I think those two are bad enough."
"Yes, our coworkers have active imaginations. Although, I don't know if they imagine us in these situations because they're jealous or because they hate our guts..."
"Mulder, I wouldn't doubt that it's a bit of both. You have to know that there are many women in the J. Edgar Hoover Building who would give anything to be able to jump your bones." He was more than slightly amused, especially at his partner's use of the phrase 'jump your bones'.
"Really, and what makes you privy to such information, Agent Scully?" he asked playfully.
"Using the women's restroom," she replied dryly. He noticed that she was trying to hide a smile as she said it. She sank down into her couch, and sighed. "Mulder, can we go out somewhere tonight? I'm tired of being stuck in here."
"Are you sure you feel up to it?" he asked, sitting down beside her. She nodded.
"I feel better today than I have in a while," she replied, knowing that he wasn't trying to baby her, though sometimes his constant worrying still got on her nerves.
"Where do you want to go?"
After sitting in thought for a moment, Scully replied, "Le Papillon. It's the new French restaurant that opened up across town. I've been dying to try it." He tried not to outwardly cringe at her use of the word 'dying'.
"Sounds like a plan," he said, standing up and extending his hand to her. She raised a questioning eyebrow at him, and he said, "Well, if we're going out to dinner, we'll need to do some shopping, won't we?"
"Mulder, I can find something to wear," she said, not wanting to admit to him just how seriously her chemo treatments were emptying her bank account, even with her medical insurance.
"No, Scully. We're going shopping-- my treat. And no arguments," he said, pushing her in the direction of her bedroom. "Take a shower and put on your comfortable shoes," he ordered gently. Scully smiled, and shook her head, thinking, 'Only you, Mulder...'
Scully tried to ignore the stares that followed her and Mulder as they moved through the restaurant toward their table. She knew that she looked terribly thin and ill, but she felt better than she looked. Mulder thought she looked beautiful in that dress, but he hadn't built up his courage enough to tell her. He too had noticed the awkward stares that followed them, and it made him both angry and sad. He knew that Scully didn't look nearly as healthy as she had before her cancer, but he wished that people wouldn't stare. The maitre d' seated them at their table, and they both quietly thanked her, and Mulder pulled out Scully's chair for her. She sank into it, and picked up her menu, thanking him quietly. He sat down across from her and opened his menu as well.
"Thank you for this," she said, glancing at Mulder over the top of her menu. "I don't know if I can say it enough."
"Scully, it's just dinner," he replied.
"No, not just for dinner. For everything, Mulder. I owe you everything." Scully did her best to keep from crying, but the tears appeared in the corners of her eyes. Crying was something she hadn't done in a very long time.
"Hey now. C'mon Dana, don't cry. I'm just doing for you what I know you would do for me. Best friends are there for each other," he said, reaching across the table to take her hand in his. Tears slid down her cheeks, and she reached up to wipe them away, but Mulder's free hand got there first. She smiled slightly, and then cast her eyes downward, blushing at her own outright show of emotion.
"Mulder, there's something I need to talk to you about," Scully said, locking eyes with him.
"If you're going to tell me that you're madly in love with Skinner let me know now so I can get a running start on that balcony over there..." he said, looking over his shoulder to the doors which led out to the second story balcony of the restaurant. He started to worry when she didn't smile back at him.
"I'm serious," she said. "It's important that we talk about this."
"Go ahead, Scully. I'm all ears," he said. She cleared her throat and began speaking quietly.
"I want you to promise me something," she said, locking eyes with Mulder. "I want you to promise me that if I don't make it through this--"
"Scully, don't talk like that..." Mulder interjected. Scully shook her head before continuing.
"If I don't make it through this, I want you to promise me that you'll continue with your work. Don't mourn me for too long. You have to promise me that you'll continue looking for the truth," she said.
"I don't want to look for it unless you're there looking for it too," he said gently. She shook her head.
"No, Mulder. This is what we've been working for, what you've spent your whole life searching for, and I'll be damned if you're going to stop looking for it when you're as close as you are. Promise me that you'll continue to look," she said, covering his hand with hers. Her eyes pleaded with him, and he said,
"Thank you," Scully responded, picking up her menu. "Now what looks good?" She smiled at Mulder, and he smiled back, picking up his menu as well.
Stepping out from under the marquee at Le Papillon, Scully fastened the buttons on her coat while Mulder held her purse. It was warm enough out for Mulder to go without a jacket, but Scully's illness left so little fat on her frame that she was always cold. She took her purse from him, and they started their trek back to her apartment.
Three blocks from her apartment, they came upon a church. It was one of the oldest in town, made of brick and marble, with Gothic architecture that has long since gone by the wayside in new construction, but will never go out of style. Though he didn't consciously acknowledge it, Mulder's pace slowed considerably as they approached it, and he came to a stop beside Scully at the foot of the church's entranceway steps.
"I've passed this church a million times, and I've never once been inside," she said, her eyes focused on the stained glass windows which were lit from the inside. "I like to come sometimes at night like this and just look at the windows. It's a shame that this building isn't nearly as beautiful in the daytime." Mulder could've cared less about the architecture of the edifice before them. He was too busy watching Scully. "I came here once, right after my diagnosis, intending to go inside. I planned on praying, and on going inside, but once I got here, I lost my nerve. Every time I come here, I get closer and closer, but I've never gone in." She turned to look at Mulder.
"It's late, Scully, and it looks like it's going to rain. We can come back tomorrow," he said. She shook her head.
"I may not have a tomorrow, Mulder," she replied.
"Damn it, Dana! Don't talk like that!" he said, rounding on her. "I won't have you talking like you've accepted defeat." She was shocked at his reaction, and her eyes clearly displayed it, but then they brimmed with tears. She wasn't prepared to cry in front of Mulder, but it looked like she was going to tonight.
"Mulder, I'm sorry if it seems like I've given up, but I can't keep living for tomorrow, or the next week, or the next year. I don't know how long I have," she said, feeling a traitorous tear slid down her cheek. "Tomorrow is tomorrow, but right now all I can count on is today. Today is all I have." The rain was falling lightly over them, and Mulder took one of her hands in his own.
"I know-- I'm sorry," he said, raising his voice over the sound of the rain. "You say that you can only live for today, and I--I can only hope for tomorrow."
A/N: I know; I know. I'm supposed to be updating What He Knew, but while I was working my butt off to produce a decent second chapter, I got inspired to write this one. Well, at least I hope you like it. Please read and review!!