Disclaimer: I do not own. It is widely understood in the world of all things literary that we beg borrow and steal... and then change the names, situations, and basic plot structure.
Spoilers: Redux I and II... everything before that... obvious one for Tooms.
A/N: I've always wondered what it was like when Scully finally came home from the hospital. I didn't really feel like exploring what was going on at the FBI during this time, so... this is what happened.
Scully giggled as Mulder ran his hands over her feet, putting her socks on.
"I can put my shoes and socks on myself, Mulder," she said, smiling down at him.
He didn't offer another explanation. She just smiled, knowing that he needed this. To take care of her, to touch her, to reassure himself that she was, in fact, fine.
She was going home. She'd been declared in remission for a little over a day, and had managed to hide her weakness from the doctors. She had pinked up, thrown herself into appearing well enough to go home. And she was well. Just tired. Her muscles weren't used to doing much more than laying in bed. Her legs were still wobbly. But she hid it well. Even Mulder hadn't noticed.
Her mother was in the small bathroom, packing up her toothpaste and such, while Bill brought the car around to the front of the hospital. Mulder had come in a moment after she had finished dressing, prepared to take the flowers out to his car. He'd been waylaid by her bare feet.
She wiggled her toes at him and he looked up, a small smile on his face.
"Take me home, Mulder."
"Bill's taking you home."
"I don't like him," she grumbled, pulling her foot away from him.
"Dana, he's your brother," Maggie warned, coming out of the bathroom and depositing a small bag on the bed.
"Sometimes I wonder," she muttered as Mulder finally caught her foot and put it into her shoe.
"I'm just kidding, mom. I know he's my brother. I just question how nature could play such a cruel trick."
Maggie rolled her eyes and slipped her coat on.
"Fox, will you have dinner with us?" Maggie asked, picking up the bags.
"I don't know. I think I'll just drop the flowers off and be out of your way."
"Mulder, stay for dinner. I want you to."
He nodded his head in defeat. She rarely ever said please to him, not for something as simple as dinner. She smiled down at him, and it was almost worth the awkwardness that was to come.
"I'll meet you there."
He stood from the floor and tucked a strand of hair behind her ear.
"Mulder?" she asked after a moment.
"You don't have to bring the flowers. Just the cards are fine. You can throw the flowers out."
"What about the vases?"
"I don't really have a need for them."
He nodded and gathered the bouquets of flowers from around the room.
"I'll deal with these and meet you back at your apartment."
"Twenty minutes, okay?"
He arrived before they did. It must have taken longer to sign all her release forms than she had anticipated. He parked in his normal spot and headed up to her apartment. He hadn't been up there in over two weeks. Maybe more. Maybe less. However long this thing had been going on. He didn't want to think about it.
He opened her front door and headed inside, setting the cards down on the table as he looked around. It was much too stuffy and dark in here. He made his way around the living room, opening all the blinds and a few of the windows. Next he went into her bedroom. The bed was messy, and there was a suit jacket draped over the footboard. He went to the linen closet and made quick work of changing the sheets on her bed. He took the old ones and threw them in the washer, and was tidying up when her family arrived. Bill came in with the bags and set them by the door, while Maggie and Scully followed him inside. Bill glared once he noticed Mulder there, looking so comfortable in his sister's home.
Scully sat down on the couch, putting her feet up on the coffee table.
"Are you ready for dinner, honey?" Maggie asked, hanging her coat on the rack.
She dropped a kiss on her daughter's head and went into the kitchen. Bill and Mulder just stood there, on opposite sides of the couch, watching each other.
Scully looked back and forth between the two for a moment before speaking.
"Something going on I should know about?" she asked, arching an eyebrow.
Mulder was the first to break away from the staring contest. He smiled down at her.
"Nope. Do you need anything?"
"I would love a glass of water. Or iced tea. Whichever is in there."
"Iced tea? Since when?"
"Since that was all you had at your place last time I was there. It's not bad."
"Not bad says the root-beer girl," he chuckled, heading into the kitchen.
Bill sat down in the recliner and watched him. Mulder went into the kitchen, opened the cupboard and produced a glass. Bill growled low in his throat. He didn't even know where his sister kept her glasses- how did this guy? Mulder came back into the room and Bill turned away, only to catch his sister's eye. It seemed that she had no idea what had gone on between the two of them. Maybe it was better that way.
Mulder handed the cold glass to Scully along with something Bill didn't see. Their eyes met and she smiled.
"Mulder..." she said, drawing out the last syllable.
He just shrugged and sat down in the other chair.
"Bill, will you come and help me in the kitchen?" Maggie asked. Bill wanted to grumble, but reminded himself that it was his mother asking. He got up from the chair and went into the kitchen. A long silence followed, during which, Mulder sighed.
Scully lifted her eyebrow at Mulder and patted the cushion next to her.
"Over here. I want to talk to you."
He obeyed, sitting down as she unwrapped the Hershey Kiss he had given her.
"What's going on with you and my brother?"
He sighed as she began to smooth out the aluminum candy wrapper with her thumbnail.
"Some things are better left unsaid."
"Fox William Mulder."
"He hates me."
"What makes you think that?"
"He practically told me. He thinks I'm the reason for everything that's happened to you. He doesn't want me anywhere near you."
She sighed and placed her hand over his.
"You know, Mulder, I don't blame you for anything. You've saved me every time I've been in danger. And if you couldn't you tried to find me. You've always been here for me when I've needed you and I don't want that to stop, no matter how irrational my brother is. He doesn't know the whole story."
"He's right though. If you didn't work with me then these things wouldn't happen to you."
"I don't want to hear you talk like that anymore. This is not your fault. Who knows, maybe I would have been taken anyway. Maybe I would have gotten cancer and everything no matter what I was doing. I've had you here to help me through it. That's worth everything. So stop blaming yourself. "
"I mean it, Mulder. You've saved my life enough times that I'm giving you the benefit of the doubt. Okay?"
"So then, when are you coming back to work?"
"My doctor said he wants me to take the next week off and rest. I think he wants to be sure I'm mentally ready to be back."
"Are you going to take the week like a good girl?"
"Take it, Dana. There's a lot of stuff going on at the Hoover building right now that you don't need to be there for. Enjoy the ignorance."
"I always do."
He reached over and rubbed her shoulders in small circles. She closed her eyes and sighed softly.
"I'm glad you're home," he said finally, his hand brushing quickly over the scar on her neck.
"Me too," she answered, turning slightly towards him and cuddling up to his side. "Thank you for everything you did, Mulder. Everything you do."
"It's my pleasure."
"And I'm going to talk to Bill about this nonsense."
"Don't. It will only make him hate me more. Just sing my praises instead."
She giggled and rested her head on his shoulder.
"That I can do."
He leaned down and kissed her nose softly, just as Bill came back into the room.
"Mom says dinner is ready," he managed to get out before leaving the room.
"Ooh, busted," Scully giggled as Mulder helped her up from the couch.
"All in a day's work."
She smiled as she leaned up to kiss his cheek.
"I wouldn't have it any other way, Mr. Mulder."
Two hours later, Scully claimed exhaustion and Bill and Maggie gathered up their coats and said their good-byes.
"Are you sure there isn't anything else you need, Dane?" Bill asked, pulling her into a huge hug.
"Nope. I'm okay. I can send Mulder out if I need anything."
"Oh you think so?" he asked from the other side of the room where he was trying to find his shoes.
She just smiled.
"I'm going to go ahead and try to fix that lock on your window before I go," he said, excusing himself to the other room.
"Make sure he leaves, Dana," Bill said.
She wrinkled her brow at him.
"I just want to make sure you get enough rest, that's all."
"I will. I'm going to bed soon."
"We'll be by in the morning," Maggie said, hugging her daughter one more time before they left. Scully shut the door behind them and went into her room to find Mulder. He was struggling with the lock on one of her windows, but he finally got it to open. Scully sat down on the bed and watched him as he tried the lock a few times before deciding it was working.
"Okay, I'm going to head out. Need anything before I go?"
"Can you stay for a little bit?"
"Sure. Are you alright?"
"Yeah, I just... I don't want to be alone just yet."
He ran a hand softly over her forehead and through her hair.
"Paranormally," she answered with a small smile.
He guided her shoulders down to her pillows and pulled the blankets over her.
"Want me to tell you a story?"
"As long as you steer clear of vampires, goblins, sea monsters, goat suckers, flukemen, bigfoot, large snow men, reticulans, unicorns, and any other kind of odd creature, real, imagined or not yet fully proven either way."
"Well I'm out," he said after a long pause.
She giggled as he tucked a strand of hair behind her ear.
"What kind of stories did you like when you were a kid, Mulder?"
"Honestly? I read a lot of Hardy Boys."
"I knew it."
"And I'll bet you were a Nancy Drew girl yourself."
She tapped her nose with a smile.
He chuckled and brushed her hair back again. She closed her eyes as he did so, sighing a little.
"I don't think I have ever seen you this tired before."
"I don't think I ever have been. Okay, maybe once, but I was much younger then."
"Yeah. Finals week. I didn't sleep for four days and four nights. I had so much coffee I was bedridden with a caffeine headache the next week. I started seeing double. I may or may not have finally fallen asleep while folding my laundry."
Her voice started to slur as she gave in to sleep.
"Once I finally did get to sleep, I woke up about every twenty minutes because," she was taken over by a yawn which made her eyes water. "I kept dreaming that I was late for a test. It was awful. The worst week of my life."
Her eyes finally closed all the way and her breathing slowed. He smiled and tucked the blankets around her before kissing her forehead and leaving the room.
"Mulder?" she called suddenly as he sat down on the couch.
"I can't find it."
"Find what?" he asked, standing from the couch and going back into her room. She was sitting up again, turning her pillows over and looking under the blankets.
"What, Scully?" he asked again.
"Your sweatshirt. I can't find it. I haven't seen it since I was in the hospital."
He opened the duffel bag that was sitting on the chair near the window. He produced his old Oxford sweatshirt and handed it to her. She smiled and buried her face in it.
"Better?" he asked with a smile. She nodded and lay back down. He had given the sweatshirt to her the first time she was in the hospital. She had been cold, so he had let her wear it. It now accompanied her to the hospital, and stayed neatly tucked behind her pillows when she was at home.
"Go back to sleep. I'll be out on the couch if you need me."
"Thank you, Mulder."
He left the room, closing the door almost fully behind him.
"I come bearing gifts," Mulder announced as he came through Scully's door the next afternoon.
"Gifts?" she asked, looking up at him from her spot on the couch. "Are they pretty?"
He chuckled and closed the door behind him, noticing Maggie and Bill sitting in the room.
"I don't know. They're not from me."
She lifted an eyebrow in confusion and he set the bag down on the coffee table in front of her.
"The Three Stooges wanted to get you a little something."
She reached over for the bag but paused before looking inside.
"Can this be opened in the presence of women and children?" she asked, nodding toward her mother and Bill.
"I think you might have to take your chances."
She nodded and reached into the bag. The first thing she pulled out was a potted fern. Attached to the pot was a card, which she read with a smile.
"What's it say?"
"That's for me and Byers to know and you to wonder about."
"He sure put a smile on your face."
"He's a good artist," she answered before diving into the bag again. This time she came up with an envelope. Inside was a confirmation of a subscription to the New England Journal of Medicine from Langley. She had once told him that she always forgot to subscribe and had to buy each edition individually. The fact that he remembered that off-handed comment only endeared him to her.
The next item she pulled out of the bag was a book from Frohike. It actually looked more like a journal. 'How to be Partnered with Fox Mulder and Live to Tell About It' was engraved on the front and she laughed. Writing an autobiography would be quite the undertaking.
"I guess I'll have to call the boys and thank them later."
"Are you going to let me read that card from Byers?"
She shook her head.
"Never. It's going to drive you crazy."
He rolled his eyes.
"How was work, Fox?" Maggie asked suddenly.
"Boring. You know, when I joined the FBI, I never thought I would be doing paperwork more often than apprehending suspects. You practically have to fill out a form to go to the bathroom around there."
"Now Mulder, it's not that bad."
"Really? I don't know if you understand the hoops I have to jump through to get reimbursed for a new cell phone."
"Probably about as many as it takes to get reimbursed for new shoes."
"Well if you didn't go traipsing around dark alleyways in your most expensive shoes..."
"They weren't my most expensive shoes. They were the ones that boasted durability and style when I bought them, neither of which they had, now that I think about it. I was under the impression that they could withstand anything."
"You're so naïve."
"Shut up, Mulder."
She giggled a little as Bill stood up.
"I'm going to go start something for dinner," he said, heading for the kitchen. "I'm starved. Mulder, are you staying?"
"Uh," Mulder began, looking like a fish out of water.
"Yes, he's staying," Scully answered for him. Bill nodded and went into the kitchen.
"I guess I'd better go supervise him in there," Maggie said, starting to get up from the couch.
"Dana, do you want a kitchen in the morning? Your brother may be a decent cook, but he makes a royal mess while doing it."
Scully nodded and Maggie left the room.
"And then there were two," Mulder said, smiling.
Scully smiled right back and tucked her legs underneath her.
"So what's really going on at work, Mulder?"
He sighed and rubbed his eyes.
"Skinner's freaked out, I think. Everything Blevins has ever done is being looked over with a fine toothed comb. Kritschgau... I don't know. It's almost like for once, everyone else is having a time of it, and I'm just sitting in the basement watching it happen."
"Enjoy it while it lasts."
He rolled his eyes.
"Do you know how quiet the office is with only me there?"
"I would guess not much different, due to the conversations you sometimes carry on with yourself."
"I don't do that often, Scully. Only when I'm sorting files really."
She shrugged and yawned.
"How are you feeling today? You look a lot more refreshed than you did last night."
"I feel better. Not quite ready to go back to work, but feel free to send some of those forms my way."
"No. You need real rest. Sit around and watch soap operas, eat bon-bons, whatever it is you girls do."
"You forgot pedicures."
"Mulder, would you go and grab the blanket off the end of my bed? I'm cold."
He stood from the chair and went to her room, returning with the blanket and handing it to her.
"Thanks. Now sit down."
He sat down next to her and she reached over for his hand.
"Why did you leave this morning?"
"I had to go to work."
"You didn't wake me. I wasn't sure if you just went to work or if something had happened in the night. I was scared."
"I'm sorry, Scully."
"Don't ever do that again, okay?"
"What are you so scared of?"
She looked at him for a moment. She had expected him to agree, not probe further into what she was feeling. She hated when he did that. She stood up and started walking towards her room. He followed her and sat down next to her on the edge of the bed.
"What if something happened to you?"
"But what if I didn't? Mulder, the first thought in my head this morning was that they had come to take you away in the night. My second thought was that I was dead. It was so quiet and cold in here, I was sure I had died in my sleep. And then I started to think about what that would do to you."
She had started crying, the tears spilling down her cheeks as if she had never cried before in her life.
"I'm not going to pretend like I don't know you care about me. If I had died, Mulder, I don't know what you would have done. I do know how you dealt with it when I was missing, so if I was gone for good, Mulder they might lock you up in the loony bin. Or something even worse than that. I'm not trying to sound all... however I sound I was just worried and scared and... Mulder I could have died! I've never been more scared in my life! Never! Because I always knew that you could save me and this time it looked like you couldn't. Maybe you did, but I wasn't sure you were going to. And then you couldn't even tell me it would be okay! You never tried to reassure me, you just sat there."
She was sobbing now, in a way he had never heard anyone sob, much less his partner. He tried to gather her into his arms, but she pushed him away.
"This is all your fault, Mulder! If I didn't work with you... no, it doesn't matter how much I want to be able to blame you; I can't because I know it's not your fault and you have done everything to protect me. And that's not fair! Who else am I supposed to blame, Mulder? Who else? You're the only one here! I can't do this anymore! I can't do this job and that scares me too! I don't want to stop and I don't want to leave you but I can't do it anymore!"
He tried again to hug her, but she pounded against his chest in an attempt to push him away.
"Stop it, Mulder! Don't touch me! You can't fix it!"
He stilled her hands with one of his and she collapsed against him, still crying, her tears seeping through his shirt.
"You'll be okay," he mumbled, willing his own tears to stay where they were and not make an appearance. "I have you. You're safe."
He had said those same words to her before. After Donnie Pfaster. After Penny Northern. Even after Melissa had died.
She continued to cry, clutching at his shirt and gasping for air. He slowly leaned back until they were lying on the bed, her head resting on his shoulder. She was mumbling something into his shirt that he couldn't quite make out.
"Please don't leave me, Mulder. Don't let me leave you. I don't want to go."
He rocked her gently as best he could, running his fingers through her hair and kissing her forehead.
"We will always have each other, Scully. Always. I promise. No matter where I am or where you are."
She nodded and relaxed against him, hiccupping and sniffling quietly.
"I hope no one heard that whole thing," she commented after a moment, raising her face to look at him. He smiled and kissed her eyes.
"Everything is going to be fine, Scully. Okay?"
She nodded again and he stood up.
"Stay here for a second."
He was gone for a moment, then came back with a wet washrag. She smiled as he sat down next to her and wiped the tears and angry heat from her face.
"All better?" he asked, looking into her eyes.
She sighed and sat up to hug him.
"I love you Mulder."
"I love you too honey."
She smiled at the term of endearment and lay back down.
"I'm so tired, Mulder."
"Why don't you get in bed for a little while? Just rest until dinner is ready."
She nodded and crawled under the covers and he tucked her in gently.
"I'm sorry I yelled at you. You know I didn't mean all that."
"I don't want to leave, Mulder. I never have."
"I don't want you to think that I am forcing myself into this job either. I love it. I couldn't leave it. I couldn't leave you."
"I know, Scully. Go to sleep. I'll be here when you wake up and we can talk about it more if you want to."
"Will you lay down with me?"
"What would Big Brother Bill have to say about that?"
"Big Brother Bill has taken a vow of silence on the matter."
"I told him to shut up. He did."
"We talked about it. Come lay down."
He obliged, kicking his shoes of and laying down on top of the blankets. He curled up behind her, tucking her hair behind her ear.
"Tell me about this conversation."
"Mulder, I'm tired."
"Just hit the high points."
"He started telling me you were horrible and dangerous. I told him he was wrong. He didn't believe me. I gave him evidence to support my position. It took him a long time to think of a good rebuttal, so I won. He said he would treat you as well as he would treat any man in my life. It may not be the best, but it's a start. The end."
"Are you sure he's not going to poison my dinner?"
"That would be futile. I could probably save you and then he'd be up crap creek."
"Should I hire a cupbearer anyway?"
She giggled and pulled his hand more tightly around her waist.
"You'll be okay. And so will I."
He nodded and placed a soft kiss behind her ear.
"Have I mentioned that I'm glad you're home?"
"Well... I still am."
"I love you."
"You too. Go to sleep."
Scully opened her eyes and stretched, her foot making contact with something solid. Mulder's calf. She rubbed her eyes and looked over at him, wondering why he was there. He had stayed after her mom and Bill left, helped her clean up the apartment a little. He'd tucked her into bed, kissed her cheek, and she'd begged him to stay. He hadn't protested, just nodded and climbed in with her, hugging her gently before scooting over to his own side of the bed. She was cold.
"Mulder?" she asked, moving a little closer to him.
"I'm up," he answered.
"It's cold in here."
He pulled her into a hug and kissed the top of her head.
"Yeah. Sorry I kicked you. I forgot you were here."
"That's okay. I'm just glad I was sleeping on my back."
She rolled her eyes.
"Mulder, I didn't kick you that hard."
"Hey, what time is it?"
He lifted his arm up to look at his watch.
She sat up immediately.
"You're late for work."
"No big deal."
"And my mom and Bill are supposed to be here in-" she stopped as she heard the front door open. "Oh crap."
"Scully, it's not like we-"
He snickered and stood from the bed. He was still wearing his jeans from the night before.
"Mulder, you slept in those?"
"I was tired. And I didn't think you were going to let me out of your sight."
"Well now I am. Get to work."
"I'll talk to you later okay?"
"Mulder get out of here."
"I can't escape without seeing your mom and your brother, so I might as well just-"
"Dana, are you awake?" Maggie asked as she came into the room.
"Yeah, I'm up."
"Fox, I didn't know you were going to be here. We're going out for breakfast, would you like to come?"
"No thanks, Mrs. Scully. I've got to get to work."
"Alright. You're welcome to come for dinner tonight."
"I'll be here."
With that he left, and Maggie glanced over at her daughter.
"Same clothes he had on last night. I don't think he stopped by here on his way to work."
"Mom, we fell asleep."
"I'm not judging."
"I didn't say you were. I just want you to know what really happened. He even slept all the way on the other side of my bed."
"Honey, you're a grown woman. You don't have to defend yourself to me."
"I'm not. I'm just choosing to tell you what transpired in my life last night."
"Parking the car. Your lot seems to be full this morning."
"Get out of bed and get dressed so we can go, honey."
"Dana, do you and Mulder really eat here all the time? This doesn't seem like your kind of joint," Bill commented as they sat down at a small table in the crowded diner.
"Well, it is my kind of joint. They have the best French toast you'll ever eat in your life. Even better than mom's."
Bill's jaw dropped and Maggie turned to look at her daughter in shock.
"What? It's true."
They continued to stare at her until a waitress brought their menus.
"Morning Dana. Haven't seen you in here in a while," she said, setting the menus on the table.
"It's been busy at work. Louise, this is my mom and my brother."
They all shook hands.
"Where's Mulder this morning?"
"He's at work."
"Want me to fix him up a breakfast to go before you leave?"
"Yeah, that'd be great."
"Sure. Slip a cup of fruit in there too. He hasn't been eating well."
"He was in last week. Nursed a whole pot of coffee and four cinnamon rolls and then left without a word."
She just nodded.
"Well, I'll let you look at the menu and I'll be back to check on you in a while."
"So, you come in here a lot?" Bill asked, his eyebrow raised.
"Probably three or four times a week."
"Or lunch or dinner or sometimes when we get cravings for a plate of fries and a milkshake. Whatever."
"You're on a first name basis with the waitress."
"Yeah, Louise is our favorite. She usually works in the morning. Bob is here for the lunch rush, Stella serves us dinner, and Heather is here late at night."
"So what's wrong with Bob, Stella and Heather that they're not your favorites?" Maggie asked, certainly amused by the new things she was learning about her daughter.
"Well, Bob likes to make small talk and we're usually in a hurry at lunch time. We don't see Heather that often, and Stella... well, we have been known to pull a little Streetcar Named Desire on her when we want our coffee refilled. She's a good sport, but we probably shouldn't have done that."
Bill rolled his eyes. His sister actually smiled and laughed around Mulder. He couldn't be that bad. Either that, or he had hypnotized her. Bill thought about that for a minute. He didn't believe in hypnotism. He couldn't say that Mulder didn't. Maybe it only took the user believing in it to make it work. He sighed and took a drink of the coffee that Louise had just poured. He wasn't going to think about it.
"Are you ready to order?"
"I'll have the usual," Scully said. "And could you get me a cup of tea?"
"I'll have the French toast," Maggie said, handing her menu over. "I have to see if it really deserves first place in my daughter's heart."
"How do you want your eggs?"
"Scrambled is fine."
"And for you, sir?"
"I'll have the breakfast sampler."
"French toast or pancakes?"
"Over easy. Can I get a side of toast too? Sourdough?"
"Sure. Anything else?"
"I think that's good."
Bill didn't miss the look and grin that his sister exchanged with Louise.
"What's so funny, sis?"
"Nothing," she responded, shaking her head and trying to hold back a giggle.
"You just ordered Mulder's breakfast right down to the kind of toast. The only thing you didn't do was beg for an extra piece of bacon."
"I could get an extra piece of bacon?"
She just laughed and shook her head.
They ended up taking Mulder his breakfast at work. This wouldn't have been a huge deal, except Bill and Maggie insisted on coming in too. Scully wasn't sure she wanted them to see the basement office, but it seemed they were going to anyway. She sighed as she led them to the elevators and punched the button for the basement.
"We're going down?" Bill asked.
"Because the office is in the basement."
"Because that's where they put it."
"It's better down here anyway. No distractions."
He bit his tongue as they stepped off the elevator.
"Mulder, it's me," she said, trying to open the door. "Why do you have the door locked?"
"More importantly, why are you here?" Mulder asked from inside the office.
"Open the door and we can talk about it."
She heard him shuffling around and he finally unlocked the door.
"Mulder, were you cleaning in here?" she asked, trying to peek around the door.
"I was just getting some files together. Skinner wanted to see something and I couldn't find it, so I thought I would go through all these piles and..." he trailed off as he saw Maggie and Bill standing behind her. "Hi."
"I tried calling you, but you didn't answer," she said as a way of explanation.
She just smiled.
"Anyway, we brought you breakfast. Louise made it. She cut your French toast into hearts," she said handing him the Styrofoam box. He smiled a little.
"Thanks. I see you had her put some fruit in there."
She just shrugged.
"Bye. Thanks for breakfast."
They turned to go.
"And Dana? I don't want to see you back in this building until your doctor says so. Got it?"
"So... the basement."
Scully just nodded and gave her brother a look that clearly told him to shut up. He didn't catch it.
"Is that... I mean, that can't be respectable."
She just sighed as they followed Maggie through the grocery store.
"It's not a huge deal, Bill."
"Are you sure?"
"I know it looks that way, and yes, having a basement in the office certainly does give our peers license to mock us for the rest of our adult lives, but we like it down there. It's quiet, no one ever just pops in to distract us. Besides, most agents are stuck in cubicles. We actually have it pretty good."
"I just always pictured you as the fourth floor kind of girl."
"Bill, you work on a submarine. It's about perspective. It's not about where your office is. It's what you do in it that counts."
"Are you happy there, Hallmark card girl?" he teased.
"Yes, I am. I love my job, you know that."
"I do. I don't understand, but I know. And all I want is for you to be happy and safe. I guess one out of two ain't that bad."
"Bill, stop worrying about me. You're just going to stress yourself out."
She smiled and patted his arm.
"Thank you for not arguing with me."
"And Mulder won't hurt me. I'd hurt him worse."
"Don't do that, Dana. You'd scare off the only man you've ever really loved."
She gave him a blank stare.
"Oh come on," he said, rolling his eyes and catching up with Maggie.
Scully swirled the last bits of coffee around and around in her cup, sighing and looking up at the clock every few minutes.
Maggie raised her eyebrow and looked at the clock herself.
"Honey, watching the minutes tick by is not going to make them go faster."
"Well... I can't help it."
"You do this every day. You sit down here at three o'clock, knowing he won't be here until after five. Why don't you find something to occupy yourself?"
"Yeah, Dana, you're acting like you're thirteen and sick with a crush."
"Shut up Bill. I'm just not used to spending so much time away from him. Besides, I can't seem to have any intelligent conversation with the two of you."
"Let's face it. We haven't done anything but gossip since you've been here."
Maggie just shook her head and started more coffee.
"Honey, at least go out and take a walk or something. You're getting an attitude."
Scully sighed and stood from the table.
"Alright, I'll go."
She headed for the door and was surprised to find Mulder behind it.
"What are you doing here? It's only 3:30."
"It's also Friday, so I left early."
"Yeah. Stick it to the man, you know," she said with an innocent shrug. "I'm going for a walk. Are you coming with me?"
He followed her down the hallway before exchanging a glance with Bill and Maggie. She led him outside and took his hand as they headed for the park.
"Guess what?" she asked, turning to walk sideways so she could look at him.
"Uh... I'm out. What?"
"I get to go back to work on Monday."
"That's right. Are you ready?"
"Yep. I'm going crazy at home. I need something to do. I hope you have a bunch of cases for us to go over."
"I might have a couple."
She smiled and slowed their pace to a stroll rather than a brisk walk.
"Mulder, I never really said thank you."
"Thank you? For what?"
"For everything. Your encouragement and your smile, and not leaving me. It would have been easy to just walk away and forget me, but you didn't. You won't."
"No, I won't."
She stopped in front of him and wrapped her arms around his waist.
"What's this for?"
"I'm just glad to have you, that's all."
"Right back at you, partner."
She smiled as they sat down on the park bench, watching a pick-up basketball game.
"So what are you going to do with your last weekend of freedom?"
"Not sure yet. Bill is going home on Sunday, so I guess I have to spend some time with him. Mom has some charity even tomorrow, so she's not going to be around as a buffer."
"I thought you guys were getting along."
"We are; I just like to complain."
"What are you going to do on your last weekend of freedom from my incessant nagging?"
"First I am going to try and convince you that you don't nag me as much as you think you do. Then I thought maybe we could have a movie day tomorrow."
"I'd love that."
"I was thinking we could have a mini-marathon of some kind. Any suggestions?"
"I'll get back to you. Should we do pizza for lunch and Chinese for dinner or Chinese for lunch and pizza for dinner?"
"Either or. I don't care. Should we invite Bill?"
"We've never let anyone encroach on our movie days. Are you sure you want that first person to be Bill? This is sacred stuff we're talking about here, Mulder."
He chuckled and drew her into a hug, kissing her hair.
"Scully, I'm glad you're happy again."
"Me too, Mulder."
Scully practically skipped down the hallway. She was glad to be back in the basement, or at least out of her apartment and away from her overprotective mother. Bill had hovered a lot the whole 24 hours before he left too, and she was sure it was going to drive her crazy. Fortunately Mulder could read her and knew when it was time to suggest going on another walk, or to take a nap. She was grateful in a way he would probably never really understand.
She had woken early, gotten dressed and stopped by a coffee shop on her way to work. Mulder brought her coffee in the morning a lot, but she rarely brought it to him. It was time to pay him back for everything he had done for her. She chuckled to herself at how cheesy it sounded, but then realized that she had thought it quietly, and no one would ever know the difference. They might even think she was pondering quantum physics as she went down the hallway. Either way, she didn't really care.
The office door was open a crack and she nudged it the rest of the way with her elbow.
"Mulder?" she asked as she stepped into the room. The lights were off and she had to find his desk purely from memory. She set the coffee down and turned the desk lamp on, then went in search of the overhead light switch. Flicking it on, she turned around and stopped dead in her tracks.
Touching corners with Mulder's desk was a small but sturdy desk of her own. "Welcome Home, Scully!" was printed on a banner that hung above the desk. A box of candy, a bouquet of wildflowers, and a card were sitting on the desk, waiting for her. She opened the card, smiling at the non-descript cover. She opened it to find his unique handwriting filling up both sides of the card.
There's a lot I could say here. I could tell you how glad I am that you're better. I could tell you that I am ecstatic to have you working next to me again. I could tell you that I've missed you and that I love having you with me. But you already know those things. And none of them seem just right for a time like this.
Instead I will say three simple things. First, I love you. I know you know this already, but I think it's something you need to be told every day. You're my best friend, Scully. I don't know what I would do without you. Second, I'm proud of you. For everything you are, for everything you do. You're so wonderfully good, it's easy to take your side. You've done so much in the last 5 years and I am just overwhelmingly proud of you all the time. Thirdly, I am glad you're home. This office is not just mine, it's ours. We're in this together and that's the way it's always going to be.
Thank you for everything you do for me, and thank you for letting me into your life.
She turned around at the sound of his footsteps and smiled as he came into the room.
"Morning," he said, his hands in his pockets. She grinned and attacked him with a hug, her laughter and tears coming at the same time.
"I love it Mulder. It's perfect."
"Good. I wanted to get you a chair, but I wasn't really sure what you'd like, so you can use mine for now and we'll find you a better one later."
"You're wonderful, Mulder."
"I do my best."
"And I love you too."
"Welcome home, Scully," he said, kissing the top of her head. "Welcome home."
A/N II: Okay, so maybe the whole "I love you" thing was a little out of character, but I like to believe that they say that to each other behind the scenes, you know? Humor me, okay?