Disclaimer: Not mine. Just test driving.
Spoilers: The End, Never Again, Memento Mori (assuming that the air dates were accurate and N.A. came before M.M. even though they were shot in the reverse. Whatever.), Leonard Betts
A/N: Just thought i would post this as a little appetizer while I'm working on the main course.
Scully stood still, her head resting on Mulder's shoulder for almost ten minutes before he said anything. The ceiling was still dripping, but the fire trucks had left a few minutes before. She was slightly aware of Skinner coming to check on them, but she didn't care.
"I'm glad it was the office and not you this time," Mulder said finally as he leaned down and hugged her. She tipped her face up to look at him in astonishment.
"Are you kidding me?"
"You think these files are more important to me than you are?"
"No. I'm just surprised you said it at a time like this. Are you going to be okay?"
"I think so. Let's get out of here."
"Where do you want to go?"
"I don't know. I just want to get out."
She nodded and took his hand, leading him out into the hallway. Skinner was leaning against the wall, his hands in his pockets. The three just stared at each other for a moment.
"I'll be honest, this doesn't look good." Skinner said finally.
"No kidding." Mulder replied with a slight chuckle. Scully squeezed his hand gently, keeping his mind from wandering to revenge. He squeezed back in appreciation.
"Go home agents. I'll deal with everything tonight. I'll call you tomorrow and let you know the verdict."
Mulder nodded and followed Scully into the elevator. They sighed together once the doors had closed.
"We smell bad," Mulder commented, brushing ash from her hair.
"Oh well. Where do you want to go?"
"Hospital. I want to see Diana."
She was quiet, shifting her gaze to the floor.
"What's the matter?"
"Mulder, even if there was something wrong, this wouldn't be the time to argue about it."
"What's bothering you?" he asked, tipping her chin up and seeing the tears that had begun to form in her eyes.
"Nothing. There's just a lot to take in right now. I don't know what to think."
"We'll be okay. We just have to stick together. Alright?"
She nodded, knowing it was a lie. There was no way she could stick by him knowing that he favored Diana over her. The doors opened and they walked slowly to her car.
"Do you want me to drop you at the hospital, or do you want to get your car first?"
"You're not going to come with me?"
"Mulder, I don't know if you've noticed, but I don't like Diana very much."
"Oh. So that's what's bothering you."
"Mulder, this isn't the time to talk about it."
"What do you mean why not? Our… your… the office just burned down and you want to talk about why I don't like your old partner?"
"We can talk about that later. So where to?"
"Your place. We're talking about this."
"I want to resolve this before it gets bigger."
She sighed, knowing that she wasn't going to win the argument. Mulder always got what he wanted in their relationship and normally she didn't mind, but tonight was a night that she wanted to call the shots. They were quiet during the whole trip, and even quieter once they got into her apartment. She went into the kitchen and started a pot of coffee, her default when she didn't know what else to do. She was suddenly aware of Mulder standing behind her, too close for comfort.
"Mulder, what are you doing?"
She spun around to face him, a hint of hostility in her eyes. His arms came around her tightly and she had no choice but to hug him back.
"Scully, no matter what problems we have, you're my partner, and you always will be. I'm always going to love you and trust you."
Her tears surprised both of them.
She didn't reply, just continued to sob as his hands rubbed her back in small circles.
"You'd think that after everything that we've been through this year, we would get a minute to breathe. When is it going to stop? When are we going to stop loosing things? And why is it always us? Can't they leave us alone and retire or something?"
"I don't know."
She pulled her head up from his chest and looked into his eyes.
"I don't know if I can do this anymore."
"What are you talking about?"
"I don't know how much longer I can go on knowing that another shoe is going to drop. I don't know if I'm prepared to sacrifice anything else. Who knows, next time they could take you from me. I need to get out before they do that."
"Do you really mean that?"
"I mean it in spirit. I don't want to quit, I want to finish this fight, but I don't know if I'm going to last that long. I know that the fight is worth it, but sometimes I just want to be selfish. Don't you want to be selfish?"
"All the time. There are days when I dream about what other things I could do."
She wiped her eyes and turned the coffee pot off.
"I'm not going to sleep tonight anyway," she remarked with a watery smile.
"Will you go somewhere with me?"
"Bring your key and come with me."
She obeyed, following him out of her apartment and up to the roof of her building.
"I've never been up here before," she commented.
"I came up here a lot, when you were sick. Have you noticed how quiet it is?"
"It's pretty peaceful."
He lead her over to the lawn chairs that were sitting on the other side of the roof.
"Scully," he started, taking her hand as they sat down. "Can I tell you something?"
"There has been one time that I seriously started thinking about quitting. I actually looked into some other jobs."
"Recently. At Christmas time right before Emily died. I just wanted to take the two of you and run away."
"I wish you could have."
"You would have gone?"
"Without looking back."
He reached over and squeezed her hand gently.
"We could still do that."
"I'm tempted," she said on a small chuckle.
He sighed softly and held her hand a little tighter.
"Maybe we should just get out for a while. Take time off. You could attempt your vacation again."
"That's a good idea. You should come with me. You need a vacation just as badly as I do, if not more."
"Where should we go?"
She shrugged, then yawned.
"Somewhere that we can get some rest. I don't think I've had a decent night's sleep in over a year."
"Me neither. Although drug induced sleep does help some."
She giggled and turned in her seat so she could see him better.
"Mulder, do you mean it when you say that you trust me?"
"Of course I do."
"Then why don't you always act like it?"
"Because it's still hard. I hadn't completely trusted anyone for most of my life, and then you came along and I realized after a while that I had no reason not to trust you. I know I don't act like it sometimes, but it's hard to do that in all of my actions. I'm still trying to separate myself from the independent person that I was for so long. And complete trust is a huge thing. I hardly know what that looks like. I just know that when it comes down to it, I trust you with everything I have."
"And you love me?"
"How could I not?"
They shared a long look and he squeezed her hand again.
"Let's get out of here. You're tired."
She nodded and followed him back down to her apartment.
"Thanks for taking me up there," she said as he unlocked her door.
"You're welcome. I'm going to head home."
"How are you going to do that? You don't have your car."
"I'll take yours and figure the rest out later."
She nodded, her eyes focused on the floor.
"Scully, what's the matter?"
"My mind is too full. I can't shut it off."
"Go to bed and relax. If you're not asleep in half an hour, call me, okay?"
"You take good care of me."
"Tit for tat. Goodnight."
"So you're not asleep," Mulder greeted as he answered the phone an hour later.
"No I'm not. I was for a minute, but then I woke up. Of course, now I can't fall asleep."
"Will it help if I bore you with one of my theories?"
"I don't know. And you don't bore me."
"Amazing. So what should we talk about?"
"I don't know. Endangered species?"
"Can I ask you a question?"
"That thing with Ed Jerse… you never told me why you did it."
"Mulder, there was a lot going on at that time that I never told you about."
"You're going to be mad."
"No I won't."
"I hadn't been to the doctor yet, but I already knew I had cancer."
"Leonard Betts. When he attacked me he told me I had something he needed. It made sense."
"Why didn't you tell me?"
"I wanted to be sure first. And I wanted to be able to tell you, I just… I couldn't do that to you."
"Is that why you were so… mean to me?"
"Probably. I think I thought that if I was mad at you, it would make it easier to keep it from you. And then you took the idea and ran with it."
"Yeah, I wasn't the nicest person about that whole issue."
"But we got over it. That's progress. And I learned that it's probably better not to keep things from you."
"I appreciate that."
"Do you remember…the night Penny died…"
"And later that day, when you brought me home…"
"I think I know what you're getting at," he said, starting to smile.
"I kissed you."
"Oh yeah, you did," she retorted, starting to blush. She glanced over at the other side of the bed where he had been sitting when he kissed her. It had been a short kiss and totally unexpected. And then they had never said anything about it. He had just tucked a strand of hair behind her ear, told her to get some sleep, and left the apartment.
"Why did you do it?"
"I don't know. Maybe I just wanted to."
"Why do you ask?"
"I've just always wondered."
"Did you hate it?"
"Because. There have been a few times when I almost did it again."
She was quiet for a long time.
"What are you thinking?"
"I was thinking… that I still smell like smoke and it's giving me a headache, but I'm too tired to take a shower. And I was wishing you were here."
"Oh yeah? How come?"
"Because I'm cold. And you're always warm."
"My feet are."
"Put some socks on."
"That would require getting out of bed. And I'm almost asleep."
"I can tell. I can only hear about half your words. Hang up on me and go to sleep."
He couldn't decipher the mumble she gave him.
"I said we should just stay on the phone."
"Okay. Go to sleep. I love you."
"I love you too, Mulder."
They both knew that without the fire, they wouldn't have cemented their place in each other's lives. They wouldn't have shared their feelings, and they wouldn't be starting fresh, together. Maybe it's true that clouds do have silver linings, just as flames refine and smoke clears.