Summary: post En Ami; Mulder and Scully have it out over her trip with the Cancer Man
Originally posted in Nov 2000
Author: Circe Invidiosa
Spoilers: En Ami, with references to Milagro, Millennium,
Biogenesis, One Son, and the movie
Disclaimer: I make no claims on the characters. They are
property of Fox, 1013 Productions.
Archiving: yours for the asking
Notes: many thanks to Carol A. for the beta
Mulder was sitting in his car, waiting. It was early Saturday morning. His car was parked near a path that he knew she liked to run. He sat in silence waiting for her. The radio would only annoy him right now. And he didn’t need any more frustration.
He knew that this was Scully’s favourite path. After the whole business with Padgett last year, he insisted on knowing the routes she took when she ran. Just in case, he had told her. She insisted that Padgett could have imagined the whole thing. But then how could he know to move to Mulder’s building unless he followed her? She acquiesced with a certain amount of frustration. She didn’t need a babysitter. But it had bothered him that anyone, let alone a grungy little man like Padgett, could follow her without her knowing. She was an FBI agent for Christ’s sake. She should know better.
Just like she should have known better this past week, he thought. Her naivety exasperated him at times. Her unwillingness to see the hidden dangers all around her had always troubled him. She called him paranoid. But something always happened in order for him to say, ‘I told you so’. He didn’t say it this time. His anger with her actions superseded his concern for her safety. And he had every reason to be concerned for her safety.
Cancer Man…What was Spender’s sudden fascination with her? Spender had always treated her like an object, like she was Mulder’s possession that he could take away as he pleased. He had proven that with her abduction. He proved that when she was taken to Antarctica. He proved that this past week too.
Anger and frustration were seeping back into his consciousness. He hit the steering wheel with the palm of his hand. That wasn’t why he was here. He had to remember that. He was here because he had to try to reconnect with her. The widening gap between them scared him. Scully’s excursion with Spender had shaken his confidence in her and their friendship. It was his last refuge and it had been disrupted.
He had to make the move to repair things before they moved beyond repairing. His anger had angered her in return. He thought she would put up with it. She put up with a lot. He thought they would just continue along. He would make the occasional biting comment about what happened until things gradually became easier. Or until they had an argument about something trivial that each could believe they had won.
But she wasn’t going to put up with it this time. She hadn’t been at work the last few days. He had a message on his voice mail at work the day after she got back: “Mulder, it’s me. I won’t be in for the rest of the week. I already cleared it with Skinner, so you don’t have to make excuses for me.” That was it. No explanations.
He knew she hadn’t left town again. He’d drive by her building in the evenings and her car was in its usual spot each time. Skinner told him he had seen her come to the office a couple of early mornings to retrieve files. All week her cell phone was off and he got her answering machine at home. He didn’t leave her any messages. He called repeatedly hoping she would pick up even if only out of sheer annoyance. He couldn’t be sure she was home but he couldn’t imagine where else she would be. Perhaps it was what Scully called his infuriatingly impetuous narcissism that prevented him from seeing she had other things in her life besides work …and him.
He spotted her. Her head was covered with a baseball cap, but he could still see her red hair peeking out the back. An unexplained nervousness suddenly seized his chest. He knew she would come to a stop in a few minutes. He had to steel himself for this.
He watched her run. Whether he knew the secrets of her heart or not, Padgett had written at least one true thing: Scully had great legs. He shook his head as if he could fling the thoughts out of his mind. She began to decelerate. He watched as she came to a full stop near a playground. He retrieved the bottle of water he had purchased before he arrived and got out of his car…
Mulder wouldn’t speak to her after she took him through the empty building where she insisted CGB Spender’s offices were supposed to be. He wouldn’t even look at her. He had commented that he couldn’t believe Spender would allow her to live. He knew it would cut. She replied again that she had believed Spender. Mulder said nothing to her after that until he dropped her off at her building. Then he barely muttered, “See you tomorrow.”
Mulder had no justification. The sheer amount of crap Scully had put up with from him over the last seven years should have afforded her a reprieve. But if he wanted to wallow in his self-righteousness, so be it. She’d had enough humiliation. She didn’t need this. She didn’t need a lecture of silence or worse yet, a lecture of biting sarcasm. Skinner had no problems with her taking the time. He even pressed her to consider a long vacation.
She thought about visiting her mother. But her mother would insist on knowing what was wrong, and she had no idea how to explain any of this to her. Besides, Mulder had worried her enough when he called looking for Scully.
The rest of the week, Spender’s words played over and over in her head: “You’d die for Mulder, but you won’t allow yourself to love him.” What the hell was that supposed to mean? Where did that bastard get off? She couldn’t help wondering what kind of observations Spender made to Mulder.
In the following days, her phone rang again and again. She wouldn’t answer out of stubbornness. She knew it was Mulder. He hung up as soon as her recorded voice began to play. Was he checking up on her? Why is he calling if he’s so angry?
She spent the days researching as much as she could into the trip she had taken with Spender. She tried to find information on Marjorie Butters and Cobra. She mapped out the routes she and Spender had taken. She poured over the files on the cured boy Jason McPeck, the supposed correspondence between herself and Cobra. She considered taking Skinner’s offer for more time to retrace her steps, but she knew that anything she had seen would conveniently disappear before she got there.
But now as the end of the week approached she was filling with dread. She knew she couldn’t avoid Mulder forever…
Scully’s run slowed down to a fast walk and then stopped all together. She took off the jacket she was wearing and tied it around her waist. As she did so, a passing car honked at her. Jerk, she thought with a sneer. She was about to make a gesture when from the corner of her eye she could see someone coming towards her. She recognized Mulder’s gait right away. She knew there was going to be a confrontation eventually. She’d been preparing for it in the last few days, but she wasn’t sure if she was ready yet.
Mulder approached her and offered her a bottle of water. “Here, you need this.”
She noted the smirk on his face. He had witnessed the catcall and was still amused by her disgusted reaction. She accepted the water, twisted off the cap, and took a swig. She was still breathing hard. She gasped out, “Thanks.” She wiped her chin and handed back the bottle. She turned away and started stretching.
“What are you doing here, Mulder?” she finally asked. She held her foot behind her back and balanced herself against a tree. She looked toward the playground avoiding his eyes. It was too early for kids to be playing there so there was nothing to distract her.
He shrugged. “I was wondering when you’re coming back to work.”
She said tersely, “It’s Saturday.” She held out her hand motioning for the water. He passed it back.
He shrugged again. “It’s about time we talked.”
She took a longer drink and put the bottle down on the ground. “Right this minute?”
“It would have been sooner but since you haven’t come into work and you won’t answer your phone…”
She cut him off. “So your solution is to ambush me?” Her voice was rising.
He ignored her. “We’ll go for breakfast, and we can talk.”
“I have to shower,” she said.
He wasn’t going to give up. “I’ll wait.”
“What makes you think I don’t have plans today?” she asked.
He ignored her again. “Do you want a ride back, or do you want to run?”
“You’re not dressed for running.” He was wearing jeans and a dark T-shirt under his leather jacket.
“I meant I’ll meet you back at your place,” he replied.
She stalled by picking up the water again and finishing it. But she knew she wasn’t going to get rid of him, and she wasn’t going to give in either. She reached down into the pocket of her jacket and handed him her keys and the empty bottle. “I’ll see you back there then.”
He watched as she began to run away from him before he turned back to his car.
He had lost her keys. That’s why he had to ask the landlord to let him in when he had been looking for her while she was gone. He couldn’t tell her that. He didn’t want her to know he had been so careless. But she must have known since she handed him her keys. How did she always know these things?
Mulder stepped into her apartment and left the door ajar in anticipation of her return. He didn’t know why she still lived here. Her home held so many horrible memories. People had died here. And how many times had someone broken in here? Tooms, Barry, Pfaster, Melissa’s killers, even Mulder himself…
He looked around for something to preoccupy himself while he waited for her. As he looked around, he began to realize he had never really taken enough interest in the way she lived outside of work. He suddenly felt like it was the first time he’d ever really been in her home. Her apartment was actually cozy compared to his. His place screamed ‘bachelor’ with mismatched furniture and sparse decorative elements.
He walked about her living room. Her walls and shelves were littered with pictures of her family and friends. His eyes passed over them as he tried to guess who the people were. He realized there were no photos of him in this collection. He had no pictures of her either. They had been partners and friends for seven years and yet neither of them displayed any visual evidence of their relationship.
A photo caught his eye. It was clearly from her brother’s wedding. How many years ago was that? He tried to think back to when Scully had mentioned it to him. In the photo, Scully and her mother stood on either side of Bill and his new bride. Scully was obviously a bridesmaid. Had she told him she was in the wedding party? She was dressed in a full-length gown. Her hair was longer then and was swept up and piled in curls on her head. Her smile was so honest and carefree; it illuminated her face. It soon became the only thing he could see in the photo. He struggled to remember when he had ever seen her smile like that.
He became self-conscious. He suddenly didn’t want her to find him looking at this photo of her. He tore himself away from the picture and sat on the couch. Her coffee table was cluttered with maps and files. He picked up a map and saw that Scully had traced several routes that led out to the middle of nowhere. Circles with question marks dotted the route. He suspected she was trying to figure out where Spender had taken her. She wasn’t going to let it go easily.
Scully walked into her apartment as he was studying her map. He tried to inconspicuously put the map back down. She pulled off her cap and her hair erupted from underneath it.
She kicked off her running shoes and announced, “I’ll be in the shower.” She made her way down her hallway to her bedroom.
Mulder yelled to her, “Scully, do you want coffee?”
“Whatever,” she yelled back as she trudged back to her bathroom with her robe in hand. She shut the door loudly.
He heard the water start to run. “I’ll take that as a ‘no’,” he muttered to himself.
Mulder turned his attention to the files on her table again. He flipped through the information she had collected in her absence from work. He was surprised she had found so much. Smokey is getting sloppy in his old age, he thought. But then, maybe Spender wanted her to find this information to continue to con her. He pushed the papers away from him.
Soon he heard the water stop. He walked over to the kitchen and opened her fridge. He found a carton of orange juice and poured two glasses. He heard the bathroom door open. He popped his head out of the kitchen and watched as she padded across the hall back to her bedroom. She was in her bathrobe with her head wrapped in a towel. Funny how terry cloth makes her look so much smaller, he thought. He brought the glasses out to the couch and sat again. He drank his quickly before she returned.
Scully finally emerged. She was wearing faded jeans and a baggy sweatshirt. Her damp hair was pulled back from her face by a headband.
“Did you make coffee?” she asked. He shook his head and held the glass of orange juice up to her.
She sat down tucking one leg under her as she accepted the glass. Neither of them looked at the other. She started, “What’s this about, Mulder?”
He leaned back and crossed his arms. “I was worried about you.”
“I’m fine,” she said, raising the glass to take a sip.
“Yeah, I know. You’re always fine.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?” she asked curtly as she put the glass down on the table.
“I’m just saying, even if you weren’t you’d say you were,” he muttered.
“This is an old argument, Mulder, and I’m getting tired of it. Did you come here to fight with me?”
“No. Sorry. I’m sorry,” he murmured. “I’m just having a really hard time trying to understand…why…” He moved closer to her and put his hand on hers.
She pulled her hand away. “I told you why. Asking me again isn’t going to change my answer.”
“You scared the hell out of me,” he said.
“I didn’t mean to. I told you I tried to let you know what was going on,” she said as her hands clenched into fists.
He shook his head. “I still can’t understand why you trusted him.”
“I didn’t say I trusted him. I said I believed him.” She looked at him now.
But he wasn’t listening. His resentment was taking over again. “What’s the difference? He’s taken so much from both of us, Scully. I can’t understand why you’d even give him the remotest benefit of the doubt. He’s just trying to show me he can take you away again. What was it Scully? He’s finally paying attention to you so you swallow his garbage hook, line and sinker?”
He was blurting out the words before he thought about them. He regretted it instantly, but it was too late to take them back. His remorse dissolved his rage.
But now Scully was livid. Her voice was low and angry. “Is that how little you think of me, Mulder? Who do you think I am? Where do you get off with this double standard bullshit? If you are expecting an apology, Mulder, you can just f…”
Before she could utter any more profanities, his mouth covered hers. He wanted to stop her from talking. He wanted to stop her anger. Surprise caused her to push him away but he was resolute. His hand moved to the back of her neck and held her firmly. She stopped struggling but she didn’t give in. He released her and tensed waiting to see if she’d strike him in response. But she just sat there.
“You have been taking too many liberties with me lately, Mulder,” she whispered.
She didn’t elaborate. He knew she was talking about similar instances since the New Year. He had become more brazen with her whenever he could, with no explanations and with no conclusions. Her words now made him realize that he was the one who instigated anything between them. He didn’t know how to ask her if she wanted their relationship to progress and so he never did. Maybe he was afraid of her answer.
He moved away from her as she said, “Confusing me won’t change the issue.”
“I’m sorry,” he apologized, “I didn’t mean it. I shouldn’t have said that.”
“No, you shouldn’t have,” she paused and started again, “Mulder, if you were in my position, if you were given the choice, regardless of whether you believed him or not, could you risk not knowing if he were telling the truth? Whose hands should that kind of information fall into? Mulder, you’ve gone with him and after him before. You’ve listened to what he’s had to say repeatedly. You’ve chased down the meager information he cryptically supplies only to find nothing time and again. You were going to go to God- knows-what at that air base with him, with…” her voice trailed off. She closed her eyes and looked away.
With Diana, his thoughts continued where she left off. She was a sore point with Scully that neither of them broached.
She inhaled deeply and continued, “You have asked a lot of me in the last seven years Mulder. You’ve asked me to understand countless times regardless of my suspicions, my intuitions, and my beliefs. And I’ve given you the benefit of the doubt as far as I could, over and over. Why does my trust have to be exclusively in you and yet you can give yours whenever and to whomever you please?”
He suspected she was still talking about Diana. He ran his hands through his hair. Scully had warned him about her. But the past blinded him and he had believed Diana every time. His excuse was always that he knew her and Scully didn’t. When he chose to call Diana when he took ill last year, it had wounded Scully deeply. He should have trusted Scully, especially with his health. He knew she would never compromise his well being for anything, not even her disbelief. Scully never said ‘I told you so’ even when his trust in Diana had nearly killed him. But he had never apologized either. He never thought to question his actions and how they had affected Scully because he never understood that his actions had any affect on Scully until it was too late.
He couldn’t answer her. He decided to start again, “I was scared, Scully. I didn’t know how to find you and I was worried that I wouldn’t. I had no leads this time except for when you called Skinner. And when you refused to speak to me, I nearly went out of my mind.”
She shook her head. “You can’t always save me, Mulder.”
He buried his face in his hands and mumbled, “I know.”
“I’m not your sister, Mulder,” she said quietly.
“What?!” he said flabbergasted and turned to look at her. She looked back but said nothing. He continued, “I don’t think that, Scully. You might have noticed that with the ‘liberties’ I’ve been taking lately.”
“I mean that rescuing me all the time won’t replace your feelings of loss with your sister.”
“That’s not what’s going on here, Scully…Spender wanted to put a rift between us. By getting you to go with him, he wanted to erode my trust in you…”
“So you’re saying he hasn’t?” she interrupted.
“No, of course not…but you could have died…I’m trying to say that if anything had happened to you, I would be done… I’m trying to say that I won’t let him win. I want to understand so that he can’t win…” his thoughts were spilling out of his mouth.
But if he was trying to apologize, she wasn’t buying it. “Regardless, Mulder, I don’t need you to take care of me.”
“That’s what I’m afraid of,” he muttered.
Her frown deepened. “What do you mean?”
He sighed and mumbled, “I’m afraid that you don’t need me.”
Her eyebrow raised, she just stared at him dumbfounded. A long moment later, she asked, “Is that what this is about?”
He sat back, crossed his arms and shrugged, “Maybe.”
She closed her eyes. She sat back letting her head fall back to rest against the couch. She felt a strange sense of deja vu. It had been two years ago that she stood in his apartment vowing to leave the FBI because she was convinced that he didn’t need her, that she held him back. He wouldn’t hear of it: “You’ve kept me honest … made me a whole person. I owe you everything, Scully, and you owe me nothing … I don’t know if I wanna do this alone… I don’t even know if I can … ”
She had never heard Mulder talk to her like that before. His words had almost made her heart burst. She wondered from time to time what would have happened if that bee hadn’t stung her at the most inopportune time possible. But they had never progressed past that moment. It wasn’t until this past New Year’s when he kissed her that their relationship came into focus again. Since then, Mulder had taken any opportunity to touch her. There were more hugs and handholding. It seemed like his hands were always in her hair. And then there was the occasional kiss good night. He would kiss her at the end of their day and then leave before they were obligated to talk about it. It all left her confused and anxious.
Now she had to say something to reassure him. She slid closer to him and took his hand. She turned his face with her other hand to look at her. Then she said quietly, “Mulder, how can you think that? You know that I went with him because of you, don’t you? And when I came back, I went straight to you with everything. Mulder, what do you think I’ve been doing all these years? I’ve been following my crackpot albeit brilliant partner around on his hell-bent quests. Do you think I’d be doing this if I didn’t want to? Jesus, Mulder…if it weren’t for you, I wouldn’t be here. And I can’t imagine where else I’d want to be. It’s that simple.”
“Okay,” he said, nodding slowly. He paused then added, “I’m sorry.”
“For what?” she asked.
“For not trusting you, for not believing you, for the accusations…For everything I should be sorry about in the past seven years up to now.”
She laughed. There it is, he thought, there is that smile. She said, “I guess that about covers it then.”
He smiled back. She then said, “I recall a promise of breakfast.”
He looked at his watch, “It’s too late for breakfast now. Wanna get some lunch?”
She got up from the couch and faced him waiting for him to rise as well. Mulder took her keys from his pocket and handed them to her. She shook her head. “They’re yours.”
He was confused, “Where did you find them?”
“I took them a few weeks ago to make a copy for my mother. She doesn’t have the new set since I last changed the locks. I forgot to tell you. And I meant to give them back but it kept slipping my mind.”
“I thought I had lost them.”
“No, you haven’t lost anything.”
He put the keys back in his pocket with a smile. She didn’t move away from him when he stood. He moved closer to her and she still didn’t move away. He stooped so that his face was a mere breath away from hers. He whispered, “Would I be taking too much of a liberty if I…”
“Shut up, Mulder,” she interrupted, as her hands reached up and pulled him down into a kiss.
Eventually they would have to talk about this too. But for now it was enough that she was safe and he wasn’t angry. For now it was enough to hope for more…