Make It Worse

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Summary: fill-in-the-blanks for the last flashback in Per Manum
Originally posted 28 Aug 2018

Notes: This a ficlet for my friend cinderella819 on Tumblr. She replied to this post where you choose a pairing and a number and I had to write a drabble accordingly. She requested MSR and #32 (“I think I’m in love with you and I’m terrified.”). A little longer than a drabble, but enjoy the angstfest, my friend.

Mulder was still holding her when Scully tensed in his arms, signifying that she’d let her mind drift to something even more unpleasant. “What did you mean,” she asked, “when you said that you wouldn’t want it to come between us?”

“Hmmm?” he murmured, still rubbing her back lazily, hoping he could lull her back into complacency.

It didn’t work. She pushed back and looked up at him. “When you came to tell me your answer, you said that you wouldn’t want it to come between us.”

He shrugged. “You said you understood. When I said it, you said you got it.”

She pulled away and crossed her arms. “Yes, but that was when I thought you were saying no. In the context of you saying yes, it makes no sense.”

“I told you it sounded weird. I – I just – It was what I was feeling at the time, okay? I can’t explain it.”

“Can you try?”

He shook his head. “I don’t want to argue, Scully. Not tonight, okay? Can we just drop this for tonight?”

She turned away and began forcefully to rearrange the cushions on the couch where he’d just been lying. “No, no, you’re right. Let’s spread all our hurt feelings out rather than getting it all out in the open.”

“I know what you’re doing,” he said, keeping is voice soft, knowing it wouldn’t help to get as agitated as she was.

“What?” She turned, anger flashing in her eyes. “What am I doing? Trying to make sure I understand your motivations for something that isn’t even going to happen now?”

“You want me to say something that’s going to make this worse. You want to be able to be angry at me, rather than at the injustice of it all because I’m easier to be angry at. You probably already were if you think about it.”

When he could see the argument dissolve from her face, he took the cushion still in her hands and tossed it on the ground, then he sat, pulling her down to the couch with him.

A tear escaped down her cheek. “And what could possibly make it worse?”

He reached out and wiped the tear away. Might as well go for broke. If she wanted it all out in the open, then he’d give her something to really sink her teeth into. “How about ‘I think I’m in love with you, and I’m terrified’?”

She burst out with a laugh. “Bullshit.”

He blinked, pulling his hand back. He didn’t expect that kind of a reaction. “What the hell do you mean by that?”

“I mean, there’s no thinking about it, Mulder. Not with you. You are a god damned Oxford educated psychologist and you just picked apart why I was starting a fight with you. You don’t have to guess. You either are or you’re not. But terrified? Yeah, terrified, I will give you. And stop trying to change the subject. I know what you’re trying to do, too.”

He raised an eyebrow, unsure whether he should be impressed with her deduction or affronted. “And what’s that?”

She sniffled. “Give me a reason not to give up.”

He couldn’t help a small grin. At least she wasn’t denying him outright. “Is it working?”

“Maybe.” She didn’t return his smile. She nudged his knee. “Tell me what you meant.”

He sighed. “Fine. This.” He motioned a finger back and forth between them. “This exact scenario. If I said yes, and we went through it and it didn’t work. It would affect us in ways we wouldn’t be able to get past.”

“You think I won’t survive this?” She narrowed her eyes at him, as though waiting for him to say the wrong thing.

“No, I know you will. But you will shut off a part of yourself and I will never get it back. So, you see, another reason for me to be terrified.”

“Even if – it wouldn’t –you – you don’t understand.” She let her head fall into her hands.

He took hold of her wrist and turned her to face him. “You’re acting like I didn’t say yes. I’ll admit it was cautious, but it was a still a resounding yes, Scully. I wanted this as much as you did.”

She nodded. “Okay. You’re right. But it wouldn’t — ”

“Wouldn’t it? What did you think was going to happen? I’d be Uncle Mulder, Mommy’s work friend? Never see them except on Bring Your Kid to Work day?”

She shrugged. “We hadn’t discussed your involvement.”

“Consider it discussed now then. Involved. Completely and utterly. All in.”

She nodded again, closing her eyes to thwart the tears threatening to spill. She stretched out her arms and pulled him into an embrace.

“Thank you,” she said into his ear, “but it doesn’t even matter now. Last chance, remember?”

“Doesn’t it?” he asked, tightening his hold on her. “I’m terrified, remember? Don’t make me repeat why.”

“I remember,” she said, pressing a kiss to his cheek. “For what it’s worth, I’m terrified too.”