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Date Night

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His arm was sore from where Byers inserted the smallest of metal rods containing some kind of scientific doo-hickey that would tell them where he was, anywhere in the world, within a couple hundred yards, Mulder disbelieving but not willing to truly test the theory by going 600 miles the other side of the middle of nowhere. Now he watched Scully get hers while she talked quietly about this that and the other thing to Frohike … antiseptic, nick, probe, insert, Neosporin, two stitches, Bandaid.

“Ready, Mulder?”

Eyes drifted from where she was adjusting her sleeve, then pulling on her sweater, up to her face, “sore?”

“Not yet. Yours?”

“A little. I think Byers took out some latent anger with the scalpel.”

Byers gave them a smile as he cleaned up, “you do owe me $22 for food from our last poker night. I may have pulled the stitches a little tighter than I should have.”

Thanking them, then quietly reminding them to forget everything that had happened in the last four hours, Mulder and Scully headed out into the snow, which was beginning to blow down the alley and around the corner, freezing any and all exposed skin. The only thing he could see of Scully was a slit where her eyes were, squinted against the driving ice pellets, scarf thick and warm around her head, “hey.”

“Hey, what?”

“Wanna go on a date?”

Skidding to a stop when her boots hit a packed down section of snow, “a what?”

“A date. The kind of thing we skipped right over when we went from ‘hey, let’s surf’ to ‘hey, take off your pants’.

She inhaled a wee bit of yarn fuzz from her scarf at this point, “hey, take off your pants?”

“Not here, it’s cold but maybe later.” Reaching out to grip her mittened hand, “I think we should go do something that a normal couple would do.”

“What the hell do normal couples do?”

“I don’t know. We can go to the movies or go get some dinner or fly to Italy?” Eyes glittering now with possibilities, “or we could drive south until we get out of the snow or hey, we could pack a bunch of blankets and head to Babar and chill, no pun intended, until spring.”

Head spinning with a whirlwind of suggestions to match the gale whipping her coat, “slow down, partner. Babar is buried in snow and Italy is too long a flight for now. I don’t want to sit in the car for 8 hours to find the end to winter but I could really go for some Mexican and maybe a movie with one of those incredible large buckets of artificially buttered popcorn … Oh my God, Mulder, we need to go eat food right now.”

Laughing at her, pulling her scarf down enough to reveal the tip of her nose, he brushed his over it, “where do you want to eat? Fast or slow?”

“Slow. I want to watch them make the guac so I can request extra lime and onion.”

“For that reason, I won’t be kissing you later,” he could see the shape of her mouth through the scarf and kissing the general area, “so I’ll just do it now.”

Sudden giddy giggle emerged and she nudged him towards the car, “car, move, hungry.”

“Use your words, Scully.”

“Food.”

“Yes, ma’am.”

&&&&&&&

It took ten minutes to drive, park and given the ugliness of the weather, to be seated in a corner, cozy booth, menus in hand and waters on the way, “not too busy for a Saturday night.”

Grinning at him as she opened the menu, honing in on the fajita section, “it’s 5 degrees out and snowing. Every sane person is home, in their slippers, trying to keep warm.”

“More salsa for us then.” Digging into the freebies on the table, “what are you getting?”

“I was debating the fajitas for two, shrimp and steak.”

“Oh, I was looking at the chicken chimichangas.”

Moving in on the salsa as well, “I never said the fajitas were for sharing, Mulder.”

As his head dipped, smile wide, “you’ll have a ton of leftovers.”

Biting her chip and twinkling her eyes at him, “maybe.”

Two hours and two orders of Guacamole later, Scully had her feet up on the booth seat beside Mulder and he had his hand wrapped around her ankle, picking random green peppers off her plate, “think we should head out?”

“What? Is it already over? Dates usually last past 9pm, don’t they? And if so, we are severally short changing ourselves.”

“I don’t know how dates work? Maybe some do end at 7:47pm, give people a chance to get home, put on pajamas, complain to friends on the phone how the guy didn’t pay and the sour cream was warm.”

Shaking her head at him as she rested against the vinyl back, “I think we should wander the street for five minutes and see what the cool kids are doing these days.”

“Five minutes and they’ll be frozen kids.” Squeezing her leg, he shifted to pull out his wallet, “date night, guy pays, call me sexist but whatever.”

“I’m not complaining. I forgot my wallet in the car.” Crunching one last chip for the road, “we can get it when we walk past.”

Dropping tip on table and picking up bill, “I think we can manage without your wallet for the evening.”

“I also need some gum.”

“Car it is.”

&&&&&&&&

Shivering after two minutes, Mulder stopped dead in front of a store, nodded his head, pulled her inside, “come on.”

Warm air hit her face, what was exposed anyway, and her eyes lit up …

He’d taken them into a bookstore. An independent little place that when she stood on her toes to see over the stacks of items, seemed to extend backwards to infinity; more than likely a few hundred feet but still, whatever, felt like miles.

“Feel like staying?”

She would have heard him but she was already ten feet away, unraveling scarf, following her nose wherever it led, behind a stack, around a table, through a doorway marked ‘red things, cooking, fantasy and small’. Mulder hoped he’d see her again by spring.

Nodding to the one worker, bedecked in cardigan, kilt and Yankees ball cap, he meandered to a wooden carved sign hanging from the ceiling declaring the section on aliens, astronomy, alchemy and algebra. Believing he had fallen down a rabbit hole, he broke the silence by asking, “how late are you open?”

The kilted gentleman answered, his mouth full of pizza, “we’re open ‘til we close, man, no hurry at all. I live upstairs so it’s a short commute.”

As a Tortie cat wandered through, giving Mulder a thorough look and sniff, “how many books do you have in here?”

“Lost count a few years back.” Pointing to Mulder’s right, “there are two rooms in the direction your wife went and,” pointing now to his left, “three more than way. If you get lost, yell.”

And he did.

He found Scully again nearly two hours later as she surprised him coming around the corner of the doorway leading to ‘medical, marvelous, sparkly and green’, “oh, hi.”

“Hi.” Eyeing the stack of books nearly blocking her face, “find anything?”

She almost worked up to embarrassed, “this is my second stack. Corky already has the first one.”

Mulder gave her a look of complete incredulity, whispering, “kilt man is named Corky?”

“Yes, Fox.”

“Touche.” Setting book in hand on the pile by his feet, “ready to go?”

“We probably should although I haven’t even made it to the ‘fiction about dead people’,” looking over her shoulder and squinting to read the ornate sign, “humorous cats, chubby hamsters and historically ordinary men with mustaches.”

“Oh, we’ll be back. This may very well be my new favorite place in the universe.”

“Where was your original favorite place in the universe?”

“It’s slightly x-rated.”

Pretty sure she knew exactly where he was talking about, she had the sense to turn slightly red, cheeks pinking up enough to let him know she knew, “come on. We need to go find out if we have to ask my mother for a loan to buy Ramen so we can eat for the next month.”

Corky, having moved on to lounging in a reclining aluminum lawn chair behind the checkout desk, cat on stomach, book in hand, dislodged animal and stood when he caught sight of them walking towards him, “I see you’ve found more.” Perusing the titles, nodding at some, eyebrow raising in appreciation at others, “good stuff, too. Totally don’t even remember getting this one in so kudos for finding it. If you don’t like it, bring it back, I’d like to read it when you’re done.”

And he was completely serious.

So was Scully when she nodded, “I will.”

Mulder wanted to ask if Corky needed a part-time employee but refrained, instead, pulling out his credit card, “what’s the damage there, Corky?”

The amount did not knock them off their feet. Made them inhale a bit deeper, wonder fleetingly if maybe they should put one or two back on the shelves but then Corky, being Corky, an excellent Corky in a world of Johns and Ryans and Donalds, handed back Mulder’s card, “and just ‘cause the weather sucks and your wife bought something with a shiny cover,” holding out a box of donuts, open, glazed, “you both get a snack for the road.”

Scully, getting a little hungry again, took one without question, and feeling the calm of paper and dust and musty pages surrounding her, “do you have a section on aura mapping and/or aura projecting?”

“Of course. In the back under ‘rainbows and righteous soul things’.”

“My husband would like to marry you.”

Holding up his left hand and occupied ring finger, “taken but I’d love to have a conversation with you about the whole aura thing if you’ve ever got the time. You are a very curious shade of red.”

Mulder glanced at Scully’s hair, in the process of being trapped under her hat, “I always assumed I’d be blue.”

Once everything was bagged and they’d finished a few more minutes of conversation, they headed out to the street, Mulder hefting two bags while Scully carried one, “thank God for canvas bags. Paper ones wouldn’t have held up.”

“I may not hold up. Did everything you bought have to be hardcover?”

“Pot, kettle, Mulder. You’ve got a 20 lb. book about tasseography.”

Putting stuff in the trunk, he grabbed her before she could open her door, turning her, leaning her against the Jeep, wiggling down scarf to kiss her long and slow, only pulling away when he could feel her begin to smile, “we should date more often.”

“We should and you know what’s best about dating me?”

“I have at least 480 reasons but lay it on me.”

Tugging her scarf up after another quick kiss, “you get to go home with me and take your pants off.”

“Always with the pants off.”

“Do you object?”

“Just get in the car.”

&&&&&&&&

Eventually, they arrived home, slow-going on the icy roads, to have to lug everything upstairs, leftovers included this time, “okay, there is a four book limit for our next visit.”

“Each or total?”

Tripping on the last step and hitting the wall with his elbow, “each.”

As she took the largest of the bags from him, “I can live with that. It won’t happen but I can live with the concept of it.”

Giving her a tired smirk, “then only paperbacks.”

Wet boots left at the bottom of the stairs, they only had to shed frozen coats and accessories before they could hone in on hot chocolate packets from the cupboards and super thick socks from the bedroom, “meet me on the couch in five minutes.”

Like he’d ever not meet her on the couch in five minutes and after the five minutes were up, he turned, about to yell that she was late when she appeared, package of fudge striped cookies in one hand and two mugs of cocoa in the other. Taking his, he sipped, burned his tongue, nibbled a cookie, loved his life in general, watched her settle before she asked, “so, what did you buy?”

“Didn’t you already see the titles when he rang them up?”

“Yes, but now I want you to tell me why you bought them and the order you’re going to read them.”

Another sip, another burn, another nibble, “you are such a geek, Scully.”

“Corky also thinks I’m your wife.”

Offering her a bite of his cookie, which she accepted readily, “we should get on that.”

Perfectly fine with marriage hanging in the air over them for what could possibly be years to come, “probably.”