The case was starting to piss her off, and they had barely started with it. The first days she had been feeling almost like herself again after about a month of harsh chemotherapy and she was spending them in the middle of nowhere in the lovely state of Montana.
Scully had insisted on coming so she couldn't even blame Mulder for it. Surprisingly appearing at the office on that Monday morning, she had felt ready to dive into a case when Mulder told her that he was about to leave on a "monster hunt", not having expected her for another week. He had insisted she sat that one out, it was probably nothing. But Scully wouldn't have any of it, she wanted to be out in the field.
So there she was, in the town of Lakeside, after spending the afternoon performing an autopsy at the county seat, about 15 miles away from their reserved lodging. There had been reports of some missing people and one had been found dead on the west side of Flathead Lake. So obviously Mulder had decided to go check on the mythological Flathead Lake Monster. No surprise here at all. Why she had been so stubborn in following him still escaped her.
When she finally made it to her motel room it was almost midnight. She still had to show her reports to Mulder when the only thing she wanted to do was take a hot shower and sleep for two days straight. But that would have to wait. She took the key from the ignition and walked towards Mulder's room.
Knock, knock, knock. She could have come in without knocking, he was expecting her, but it was not the first time she had found him wearing fewer clothes than she should be allowed to see. Not that she was bothered, though.
"Come in!" He yelled from the inside and she quickly entered his room, rubbing her arms to get warmer.
It was late July and the weather should have been nicer, but apparently Montana was not one of the nicer states to be around in summer. And being on lake shore made the temperature even colder.
"So, how was the autopsy?" Mulder asked her from his little desk in the room, not looking at her yet, while scribbling some notes on his papers.
Once he turned around, she could see his face change in a matter of seconds when he saw her standing in the middle of his room. She must be looking like crap.
"I shouldn't have let you come," he uttered with a somber tone, lowering his sight.
"I'm fine." It was her answer to everything lately, and it came so easily to her lips that she didn't feel like she was lying anymore. She was always fine, even when she really wasn't.
"No, you're not…" He couldn't help it anymore and rushed out from his chair, then walked towards her.
"Mulder, not again," Scully interrupted him before he could rant about the situation.
That pent-up anger he'd been carrying around these last months wasn't doing him any good. Because there was nothing he could do. There was nothing she could do but keep on fighting. And she was doing so. She was staying strong, moving around that deadly illness that was slowly wrecking her on the inside. There was no way she'd let it destroy her life, her job. She was going to stay in the field for as long as she could. And then a little longer.
He knew that, they had talked about it. And as much as he'd try to persuade her to stay away, to live her life, enjoy the ride, she had assured him that what she wanted to do was this. She had a commitment to the job, with all the people they could save. Together.
That always seemed to calm him down from his anger bursts, and lately she wouldn't even have to utter the words over and over as she had to do before. One look into her eyes and he would know.
"Have you eaten? No, you haven't, of course." Mulder asked and answered himself, muttering that second sentence. She hated him being so overprotective, and they had argued about it a lot. He had promised to try not to be so annoying and let her handle things her way. But sometimes he forgot, and Scully didn’t feel like fighting tonight.
She was barely hungry lately. And even when she was, she usually fed herself badly, food not wanting to get in easily. She'd take her vitamins and supplements but he could always tell when she wasn't nourishing herself as well as she should. Damn Mulder and his profiling skills. There was no use in lying.
"Here, have some of my pizza. I went overboard, as usual." He shrugged, quickly turning around, and she immediately knew he had ordered more food than he could eat so as to save some for her, as usual. "It's still warm, I think…" He offered her the cardboard container sheepishly. Scully was amazed at how easily he could go from rage binge to boyish bashfulness. It was kinda cute.
"Thanks." Scully made an effort to smile, she knew how much it calmed him to take care of her. She doubted she would be able to eat much, but she tried, for him. She handed him the autopsy folder while she grabbed the warm cardboard, smiling at the sight of vegetables and mushrooms: of course he had chosen her favorite. Mulder went over her notes while she pretended to have some dinner.
She couldn't admit it, but being around him was actually a source of strength: his drive in the cases and his energy. He gave her as much life as all the chemo and pills she was taking. That was really why she had insisted on coming with him. Even when she knew they'd find no monster at all. The days she had to stay at home and away from him were the saddest of all. She had become so used to his presence, to his puns… She wouldn't tell him, and neither did she like to think about it, it was too risky. Especially now. She couldn't put him through that. She couldn't put them through that.
She was worried she had started developing some feelings she needed to keep at bay. It was all probably because of that fucking disease and the tick-tock of her life clock. Memories of sleeping with Ed Jerse dazed her mind, her judgment had been so clouded. And although she had enjoyed herself that night, she had regretted it a couple of days later.
But she feared this was different. It was not reckless behavior triggered by the fear of dying. It had all started the day Van Blundht had almost deceived her. She hadn't talked to Mulder about it, she was so embarrassed, and surely he was too. But something changed between them, especially after they visited him in the Reformatory. Mulder started coming to her place more regularly. And she couldn't shake the thought that she hadn't escaped Eddie-disguised-as-Mulder's advances. She had secretly wanted him to kiss her. It really disturbed her, how sometimes she found herself longing for Mulder to kiss her now. What was wrong with her? He was her friend, her partner. It was crazy, it shouldn't happen. Luckily he wouldn't try, it was not like that for him.
"Okay, I think 2 a.m. is high time to call it a day, isn't it?" Mulder suddenly said and she couldn't believe time had flown so fast. She still wanted to have a shower before bed, catch some decent sleep time and be up at 6.30 tops to go on with the investigation… Damn it!
"See you tomorrow," Scully said as she quickly grabbed her things and rushed out to the next door.