Scully was free to leave the hospital after a few days of observation with her mother dogging her at each step. She couldn’t blame her, especially after what had happened. Fears of trust and betrayal. Rushing to the only place where she thought she had left. Pointing a gun at her partner. Breaking down in her mother’s arms still grasping her weapon, afraid to give up control. She remembered feeling Mulder’s sad gaze linger as her mother soothed Scully.
The same moment had entirely had been mirrored months previously with Modell control Mulder and point a gun at her. The pain Mulder realized he couldn’t control his own actions. And then with her, she had shown just the opposite. Fear. True fear. What an odd twist of fate. In shared moments of desperation, both had almost shot their respective partners. Except for this time, something resonated deeply in Scully’s heart. A deep ache that hadn’t healed.
After many promises to call Maggie Scully in the morning and assurances that Scully would be fine in her Georgetown apartment, her mother left shortly before ten. The paranoia was still fresh in her mind, however, that was one side effect she hated from the entire experience. She could remember everything. Logically, she knew there was nothing to be afraid of but that would stop checking the locks on all of her windows and triple checking the lock on her front door. Satisfied that she was safe, Scully retreated to her bathroom to draw a long bath in an effort to relax.
It still bothered Scully that she could have let herself think that: Mulder had betrayed her and broken their deeply earned trust in one another. As she slid beneath the steaming water and bubbles, she flashed back over the past three years. Tooms trying to kill her in her bathroom. Duane Barry breaking through her living room windows that lead to abduction. Then to chasing Mulder down to Puerto Rico and staying with him even after news of Melissa taking the bullet meant for her.
Scully flinched in memory, a twinge of regret. It should have been her instead of her sister. When Missy and her mother had needed her, she was with Mulder, chasing the Truth with a capital ‘t’, finding her name amongst endless files that should not exist.
But in the hospital room, when Scully arrived at a vacant bed, it was Mulder who wordlessly held her hand in that empty hospital room and then hugged her as she became adrift with grief. But during all this, during these past three years, Scully had come to trust him more than she would have thought possible. But now that regret and anxiety lingered over her current actions. Had she destroyed it? What they had? What was there left to go back to?
Unable to help herself, Scully climbed out to tub, draining the water, and reached for her cordless phone. It was near midnight but she knew Mulder to be up. The man hardly slept. After she dialed his number and reaching is answering machine, she decided to get dressed and drive to Old Town Alexandria, her conscience weighing heavier by the minute. The midnight drive took longer than she would have liked and parking being worse than she imagined. She turned up the radio in an effort to drown out her thoughts as she parked the car. Scully could go back home and pretend she was okay for the next time they saw each other at the office on Friday morning or she could do something.
Scully found herself in front of apartment number 42 with her hand poised to knock but the door was quickly pulled open. “I saw you parking from the window,” Mulder greeted her softly. “Couldn’t sleep either, huh?”
Scully tried to look beyond her tall partner and saw a reading lamp on, heard The Cranberries playing, and no blue tv light. “Um, no.” She refocused her gaze. “Um...I called and it went straight to voicemail. I was, uh…”
“Did you? I must’ve missed it. I ran out to get some food. Are you hungry?”
He stepped away from the entryway and opened the door wider so she could come in. “So no tv tonight?”
He lowered the volume on his stereo. “I thought I would take a break from watching tv, given recent events.”
She chuckled. “Don’t stop on account of me.” Mulder disappeared into the kitchen as Scully picked the book he had been reading up off the table. “I could tell you the ending to the book your reading, Mulder.”
“I thought I would give it a go since I remind you so much of the title character. You remember our conversation when you wrecked the boat,” Mulder laughed from the kitchen. Scully looked down at the library copy of Moby Dick fondly. “And don’t ruin it.”
“Some coincidence, Mulder.”
“I guess.” He came back out with two cans of soda and one hand and two plates balanced precariously on his other arm like a waiter. “I think I remembered. Beef and broccoli with white rice instead of noodles because you want to be healthier, sweet and sour chicken for me and one single egg roll for you.”
“Mulder, that’s our normal Chinese order. I wasn’t planning on coming over tonight.”
“Call it initiation.” He paused and shrugged. “I must have done it out of habit. Now that I have, we can’t let it go to waste can we?”
“I suppose not,” Scully conceded
“So,” Mulder began, passing her the plate, “are you feeling any better? Not gonna draw your weapon at me if the rice isn’t hot enough?”
“Mulder, please don’t. I feel bad enough as it is what happens.” She sighed, looking at the food. “I still feel ashamed.”
“Scully, you can’t let it eat you like that,” he answered. “You weren’t in your right mind. Just like when Modell controlled me. We had no control over the situation.”
They sat on the leather couch so close that they were touching. Scully moved slightly in an effort to make it less awkward. She shoveled the Chinese around on the plate. “I feel like I did, in some way. Why would it make me believe that you had betrayed me?”
“It prayed on our worst fears. I guess,” he paused in thought, “I guess my betrayal is one of yours.”
“Well, it’s true. I thought you would actually betray me, kill me...I can’t believe I let myself accuse you of those things.” She shook her head in disgust. “Mulder, how can you be okay with this? Be mad. Do something. Anything!”
“Scully,” Mulder sighed, “please don’t.” She set the plate in front of her, unable to eat. He sighed and took her hand without thinking. “Please don’t let us go down that road. You didn’t do anything wrong.”
“How could you be so forgiving, Mulder? I pointed a gun at you. I’ve shot you before, don’t forget!”
“Did you forget I did this same to you not a few months ago?” And he smiled sadly. “And you shot me because I was out of my mind. You saved me, remember? Who else could perform surgery both with a pistol and scalpel?” She bit her lip and tried to pull her hand away. Mulder did not let her hand go. “Neither were you. So why do you hold yourself to a set of different standards than everyone else, Scully? I’m allowed to make mistakes but you aren’t?”
“I can’t afford to be,” she answered after a few moments. She gave up fighting. “I can’t afford to be because I have to prove just as much as the next guy.”
“Not to me, remember? You don’t have to prove anything to me.”
“But I accused you of…”
“You weren't in the right state of mind or have you forgotten? Let it go, Scully. Now eat something before your dinner gets cold.”
Mulder forced the plate into her hand and took a few bites of his own meal. After a moment’s hesitation, Scully followed suit. They continued to eat in silence as The Cranberries played. How could he be so forgiving of her?
“So what’s next?” She asked as she finished her Chinese. “For us?”
Mulder shrugged and picked up the plates. “I’m not letting you travel again tonight, that’s for sure. I know you just got out of the hospital, but it would give me peace of mind. And I don’t fancy your mother’s wrath when she learns you are out and about.”
“You’re no better than my mother. I’m fine, Mulder.”
He knew a losing battle when he saw it when it came to his partner. Her independence and stubbornness matched his own. “Well, at least let me drive you home, using your car and I will catch a cab back here.”
“Mulder, you don’t have to baby me,” she said.
“I’m not babying you. I…” Mulder sighed. “I just worry about you, Scully. And care. That’s all. I’d prefer you stay here honestly. I just want to make sure you are okay.”
For a moment, Scully let her guard down. Maybe she was still tired of everything from the previous ordeal or maybe it was more. Maybe she was just tired of more than the most recent life or death situation. “And what sleep on your couch? It isn’t necessarily that big.”
“I have a seldom-used bedroom, aka the guest room as I call it. You can stay there.”
“Mulder, I’m fine.” She stifled a yawn and wiped the sleep from her eyes. “If you want to mother hen me then come back with me to Georgetown and I will call you a cab. I just want to be in my own bed.”
“Fair enough. I think you may have wasted your gas coming out here.”
“I got a free meal out of it.”
Scully was mentally panicking. This was not going anyway she had planned. She did not feel any better about the situation. More than anything, she needed to run. Mulder reached for her hand again, and for the second time that night, he grounded her and brought her racing thoughts back to a standstill. “Scully, just stay the night. I won’t bite and you would ease my fears.”
“Mulder, I'm fine.”
“I know you are but I’m not. I worry about you, Scully.”
After a moment’s consideration, she gave into Mulder’s request. Not for her sake of course, but for him. She did remember Missy confiding how much her abduction almost destroyed him. “Okay, Mulder,” she relented. She held up a finger conditionally. “But only for tonight.”
“You got it, Scully.”
He had that boyish smile on his face and nodded towards her. “I don’t suppose you would mind if I run out to my car to grab my overnight bag?”
“Since when did you start carrying an overnight bag with you?”
“When you started to call me at odd hours to travel halfway across the country.” Something flashed in his eyes. “It wasn’t meant as an insult,” she added hastily.
“I know, Scully,” he said softly. “I’ll go make up the bed for you.”
She collected her shoes to grab her bag out of her car before taking the elevator back up to his apartment. In the back of her mind, since she had arrived at Mulder’s apartment, the entire ordeal felt off. She thought driving over Mulder’s apartment would ease some of her own worries and doubt but this entire situation was spiraling out of control. She did not know if she felt comfortable with that at all.
She turned the doorknob to find the door in Mulder’s living room open. She heard him moving about the rarely sed room. “I hope you don’t mind the clutter,” he called. Scully stood in the doorway and watched him. “Sheets are clean. The bathroom’s through there.” He gestured at the lit doorway opposite of him. “Can you think of anything else?”
“No, I don’t think so, Mulder. I can still go home and get out of your hair.”
“You’ll do no such thing, Scully. If it makes you feel better, I won’t say anything else about the matter.”
He adjusted the quilt on the bed and gave her one last smile. “Goodnight, Scully. And I’m glad you decided to stay.”
She bit her lip as he shut the door behind him. Scully suddenly felt trapped and at odds with the war of doubt that had been brewing in her head. Hell, that was the whole reason why she had made the trek to Alexandria to begin with. Now, here she was, a prisoner in Mulder’s rarely used bedroom. She could make a run for it and go back to Georgetown, but she was tired. Scully decided that she would likely have trouble sleeping even in her own bed and decided to spend the night and try and make the best of a crappy situation.
The second time Scully woke up, she was disoriented and it took a moment for her to gain her bearings. The dimly lit alarm clock revealed it was 3:14 a.m. The unfamiliar bed felt foreign and she could not get comfortable. She tossed and turned before giving up and turning on the lamp. Boxes upon boxes surrounded her and in the dim light, she caught words like textbooks, photos, Samantha, and research. She shifted her attention and saw a dim light coming from the door that separated the bedroom and living room. She couldn’t hear the tv.
With curiosity biting at her, she got out a foreign bed and creaked the bedroom door open. Scully shivered and grabbed a spare blanket off the bed to wrap around her shoulders. She found Mulder wide awake lying on his couch, staring at some fixed point within his fish tank. The mollies swam back and forth and he sighed. “Am I keeping you up, Scully?”
“No,” she answered softly. “I just woke up. You know I have trouble sleeping in different beds sometimes.”
Mulder pushed himself up and patted the leather couch beside him invitingly. “Come sit with me.”
“I didn’t mean to wake you.”
“I was already up, Scully.” He gave her a tired smile. “I can turn on a light or something.”
“No, this is fine.” She sat gingerly on the couch next to him. “I just have been having trouble sleeping since this entire ordeal. That’s why I tried to call earlier tonight. And why I came here.” She shrugged and Mulder tugged at the blanket fondly. “Sorry.”
“You’re fine,” he chuckled. “I remember having the same problem after Modell.”
“The lack of sleep.” He crossed his legs and rested them on the coffee table. “Well, worse than usual. I kept seeing the gun and your face. More than anything it was your eyes, Scully that always woke me up.”
He nodded and glanced at her. “It is what you mentioned yourself. Betrayal of trust. I just remember the pain in your eyes.” Mulder sighed. “I know that this...little crusade of mine has cost us both.”
Scully maneuvered the blanket around her shoulders and cast it over both of them. Mulder smiled gratefully in the dim light. She brought her knees to her chest and rested her head against her bicep. “I know,” she murmured.
“I should’ve have protected you better,” he confessed softly. He reached for her hand and squeezed it. “The night on Skyline Mountain. The light. You were gone.”
“But I came back.”
“Because they decided they could bring you back to prove a point.”
“Mulder,” she whispered, “I’m not Samantha.”
“I know,” he replied. “You Scully. My Scully.” The way he repeated her surname sounded like an endearment. “But still...I can’t help but think that your sister would be alive if it wasn’t for me.”
The silence was deafening.
“Missy said everything happens for a reason, Mulder. One Christmas, when I was still in medical school, she came home. We went to Old Town Alexandria. Not too far from here. We had a girls' night. I was drunk. She was drunk. We both decided to do palm readings from this little place on the second story off King Street next to a tobacco shop.”
He chuckled. “You, Scully? A palm reading?”
“It was her idea and I was too drunk to disprove it.” Mulder chuckled again. “What?”
“Next time we discuss one of my theories, I’ll bring the whiskey.”
She smiled and moved closer to him to the point they were almost touching. “Missy went first,” she continued, ignoring his loaded comment, “and the fortune she had, well, it was a good thing we were both drunk.”
“What was her fortune?”
“Missy was told she would die young. The fortune-teller specifically said 33 years old.”
She held up a finger. “But, in the afterlife, she would do her most beneficial work.”
Mulder recalled the night he thought about taking his own life during Scully’s abduction and it was Melissa Scully that had interrupted that horrible attempt. But it was her that made him believe Scully was still there, even if she was in a coma.
“Do you think she is watching over you now?” he whispered.
“I like to think so,” Scully replied. “But what was ironic was my own fortune that strikes a chord...well, at the time.”
“What do you mean?”
“We were both drunk that night and I haven’t actually thought of it until now.”
“What about it?” He moved so he could face her. After a moment, he took her hand and lounged backward. She fought him initially but relented after a few minutes. It was much cozier than just sitting on the couch. “Just relax.”
“This is very unprofessional.”
“Since when is anything we did professional?”
Mulder’s hand drifted to the small of her bag and she relaxed. His fingertips grazed her bare skin giving her shivers. He pulled the blanket up around them. She relaxed. “Tell me what your fortune was?”
“I would meet my other half,” she confessed after a long moment.
“Quit making fun of me.”
Scully nuzzled his cotton shirt and breathed deeply. The familiar scent of whatever was ‘Mulder’ wafted through her nose. As she reflected on the fortune she had been told, at the time, she thought it meant Daniel but now, after going through the past few years, and Missy’s prodding. Maybe it meant someone else.
“But yeah. False promises on soulmates.”
“I wouldn’t call it a false promise or false fortunes.” He moved a stray piece of hair out of her face. “Maybe you just haven’t met him yet.”
His fingers drifted up under her top towards the rest of her back. “It was the trust,” she whispered. He was distracting her. She couldn’t collect her thoughts. “I feel like, after everything, I can only trust you because you know. You understand. I call you first. Then my mother. Or my brothers.”
“So when you thought I betrayed you, you went to the next place?”
Mulder rested his forehead against hers. “You know that I would never do anything to you, Scully. Right?”
“I know, Mulder.”
She licked her lips and kissed him before she could stop herself. Mulder broke away, smiled, and attacked with renewed vigor. Words were lost between them as useless couch cushions were pushed off and Scully gained leverage to straddle his waist. Wait. No. So many no’s flashed through her head but she could not stop herself. It was an urge to feel safe, to trust, and to know that someone was there for her. Mulder was that person. But she felt the rising pressure between her legs that came from Mulder.
“We shouldn’t,” she warned.
“I know,” he breathed.
“So much could go wrong.”
But neither one of them made an effort to stop themselves. “Scully, we can go a step further or we can stop this. I don’t want it to stop. Tell me what you want?”
She slid slowly off his hips and gathered the blanket. “I should, uh, go back to bed. I’m sorry for what just happened.”
“Scully…” he called.
She disappeared into the bedroom and shut the door, her last barrier to keep her from losing herself control. After the most recent episode with fearing Mulder’s betrayal and being prepared to shoot him in the face. But to her utter horror, Mulder was trailing her. The door opened with a bang and she jumped. “Jesus, Mulder.”
“Please, hear me out. Is it something I did?”
“No,” she breathed. “We just can’t, Mulder. I had a moment, that is all.”
“A moment,” he repeated. “That wasn’t a moment. You can trust me, Scully. I promise I won’t betray you. I won’t let anything happen to you.”
She brought the blanket around her shoulders instinctively like a shield. Childhood memories of distrust flashed in her head, one of the reasons why she became so private of a person as an adult. But here he was, invading her personal space just like he did the first day they met. He cupped her cheek. Her eyes closed as he gently stroked her cheek with his thumb. “Sometimes, I don’t know who to trust but I know, deep down, I always can trust you.”
“You can trust me now.”
Scully nodded into his hand. Mulder took that as a sign and gently leaned forward to kiss her soundly. The kiss sent electricity through every part of her body and unconsciously, she grasped both of his hands and held on tightly. Mulder deepened the kiss. At that moment, they were both lost. It was something about being able to trust someone with your entirety, body, mind, and soul, and not have to worry about any fears or repercussions. Just because you knew. You trusted them. The blanket fell from her shoulders. Mulder’s warm hands crept under her shirt and she shivered. They were so close to one another.
“Scully, please.” He sounded like he was begging. “I promise I won’t hurt you.”
She closed her eyes, bit her lip, and give him the slightest nod. He was reverent in his movements as he let his fingers trail down her back slowly as if memorizing her. She bowed her head forward and willed herself to move, to do something. Finally, she regained control of her hands and gently peeled off his tee-shirt. She saw the puckered scar on his shoulder that still looked fresh despite it being over a year old. He smiled slightly and kissed her tenderly. The first time Scully had let herself imagine this scenario, she imagined he would be much more vigorous in his efforts, almost like one of his films. But so fair, he kept surprising her.
“I know,” she whispered.
She walked them backwards until the back of her knees met the mattress. “It’s been a while,” she whispered.
Scully felt all sorts of insecurity which she thought buried long ago bubble up. As if sensing those insecurities, he kissed her brow encouragingly and she relented. She pulled off her top in one movement and he swallowed hungrily. The small bulge earlier took on a new life.
“I know I’m not like…”
“You’re perfect,” he breathed.
She was tired of fighting and without hesitation, she lunged forward to kiss him, and then guide him back onto the bed. Like explorers charting the unknown lands, they began their newest adventure. He left a trail of kisses like breadcrumbs down her shoulder blades and down the valley of her breasts. She shivered at the soft touches from his lips. “I wouldn’t go that far,” she murmured.
She leaned back into the pillows taking him with her. “I’ve wanted this for so long, Scully,” he breathed. He took a moment to meet her gaze. “I want you to trust me. I want to be the only one that you trust. More than friends.”
“I remember, Mulder.” She played with his hair. “But that was then, this is now. Things have changed between us.”
“That little small town wasn’t that long ago,” he countered.
He was intent on just lazily kissing her right now. She didn’t seem to mind. “But again, neither one of us was in our right mind.”
He paused and rolled to the side so he could watch her. “The planets hadn’t aligned properly.”
“Not then anyways.”
Mulder propped his head upon his left arm so he could watch her. Despite the wall of boxes in the unused bedroom, he had left the sole window free and clear. The blinds were half open and she could see the streetlights and shadows dance across his face. “I know you said you were ashamed during your little episode but you shouldn’t be.”
“How weren’t you affected by it?”
His hand traced down her smooth abdomen in thought and played with the elastic of her pajama pants. “Hmm? Oh. I’m red-green colorblind and according to the Gunmen, it was something like that causing it.” He saw her raised eyebrow. “In one eye. A childhood accident or something?” He switched winking at her with each eye. “My right eye is fine. My left eye...not so much.” He opened both eyes and smiled. “I can still tell you’re hair is red, not green, but it isn’t as vibrant with both eyes versus just my right eye. Now you blue eyes? Those stand out. Isn’t that funny how that is a thing?”
She chuckled. “I can think of any number of reasons how you might have become color blind in one eye, though extremely rare…” She sighed at the sensation as any rational thoughts escaped her as Mulder found her mons. “Jesus, it’s been too long.”
“Good vibrations,” Mulder sang off-key, “I’m picking up good vibrations.”
Scully laughed at Mulder’s horrible rendition of The Beach Boys before she was silenced by one of his kisses. His hand moved with an independent mind of its own as he experimented with a kiss or a slight tug on her earlobe. Each new sensation caused her to gasp and move under him or buck towards him. “Mulder, enough play.”
His fingers dipped into the ‘v’ of her thighs. “Yes, ma’am,” he answered.
They awkwardly peeled away the remains of their clothes and with unspoken communication, they sealed their union. It was quick, awkward, but all at the same time, unforgettable. Afterward, entangled together like a sailor’s knot, beneath the lightly used blankets, they lay together. It started to rain and Mulder nuzzled her neck and whispered. “You can trust me, Scully...if nothing else, we will always have each other.”
“We’ve been some dark roads,” she whispered into the night air. Mulder coiled around her. “I fear it’s only going to get worse.”
“Mmm.” He vibrated all around her and she tried to pull him closer. “While it may, you'll always have someone to trust.”
“Where does this leave us, Mulder?” she whispered.
“We’re good,” he whispered. “We’re fine. Nothing will change.”
He silenced her with another kiss and she melted against him. She was tired of being unable to trust anyone and the weight of their work felt crushing in moments like this. “We’re okay, Scully. We’re going to be okay.”
“Do you trust me?”
Scully breathed deeply and tried to memorize the moment. Mulder around her. The unused bedroom that had become their private sanctuary. The rain outside beating against the window. The streetlights and the wind moving their branches. He pulled the blankets around them.
“Yes,” Scully answered. “I trust you.”