The morning was especially cold, and wind didn’t make it any better. Scully inhaled deeply, as the dirty, snow and dirt beaten car pulled up to the front of her building. She forced herself to smile as the window lowered, and Mulder leaned out, smiling at her sadly. Scully approached the car, and Mulder. He didn’t need to speak for her to know that he was going to do something stupid. After all, why else would he at 6:30 in the morning, ask to meet outside her building?
“Did you bring the stuff I asked?” Mulder asked, avoiding her eyes. Scully noticed this and touched his cheek gently, forcing him to look at her. She leaned in and kissed him, wishing that she could somehow convey the things she couldn’t quite vocalize.
“So... is that a no?”
Scully laughed softly, but took out a yellow envelope from her jacket. The envelope was folded over many times, to account for the contents being much smaller.
“Thanks. Uh...” Mulder glanced around, and then at her, as if trying to decide something. A decision must have been reached because he killed the engine.
“Can I come up?” He asked.
“I was just about to get ready for work, and the baby is sleeping...” Scully said, this time looking away.
"Does he miss me?"
"Mulder, you're not--you're not around enough for him to miss you. He barely knows who you are."
“I’ll only be a minute. Scully, I... Look, I don’t have much time, but I wanted to say I love you,” He said, and there was an uncomfortable pause, and he followed it with, “I know I’ve been horrible, I haven’t been here like I promised but I wanted to see the baby...”
“You’re still adjusting. I get it. It’s just... you promised you were going to move in, and break your lease at the end of the month and... you’re still over there. I never see you. You come over maybe once every two weeks,” Her voice was small, and sad, but she didn’t seem angry. She played around with her fingernails, a tell for when she was feeling insecure. "I love you too."
Just him being gone is better than him being dead... Scully reminded herself.
“I’m sorry, I... I’m talking to my landlord. She’s been giving me an issue, I... I’m working on something,” Mulder said, his eyes elsewhere. Scully nodded, her eyes looking over the car. In the back seat, she spotted bags, and suddenly, it clicked. She felt a hot wave of anger that rolled over her spine and abated at her cheeks.
Fuck. She saw the bags. Mulder's mind raced; he couldn't bring himself to look her in the eye anymore.
“...you’re leaving. How long?” Her tone was firm, and unfriendly. Mulder could hear the anger barely being held back in her voice.
Mulder looked at her face guiltily, but did not make eye contact.
“I don't know.”
“So when were you planning to tell me? When you were already gone? Mulder, you’re a father, you can’t just go off gallivanting when you feel like it, you have a family now! What about me, Mulder? What about your son?”
A silence fell between them, Scully bringing her hand to her face, covering her mouth and looking past Mulder, at the steering wheel. Her eyes were wet with tears, and Mulder sighed, raising his window, but stepping out of the car and taking her into his arms. She did not fight him. It was the first time she had referred to them as a family, and Mulder knew, more than ever, that he had to leave. Staying there would almost certainly assure that they would be hurt and he couldn't handle that.
“I need you to trust me,” Mulder said, holding her in his arms. The wind blew around them, and he felt her shake. She was crying. Each quiet sob was like a pinprick to his heart, and suddenly, he felt like he was drowning. He felt like he was being back into a corner, and he didn't know what else to do, except run.
He always ran.
“I thought I finally had you back... I—please, I can’t do this alone. I don’t want to do this alone. Mulder, please...” She pleaded, and Mulder felt revulsion welling in his stomach—revulsion for himself, for what he was going to do, what he was putting her through.
Coward. You think you're keeping them safe. You just can't face her. You can't even be there for your son. You're a shit father, like your father.
"I can't stay here, Scully. I'm so sorry. It's for the best. I'll--I'll keep in contact. You have to trust me," Mulder said, looking down at her. Scully took a step back and looked up at him, her eyes red from crying.
"I have to trust you," She repeated, hollowly, her gaze unfocused, looking past him. Out of habit, her hand moved to rub her belly, but she remembered her baby was upstairs, sleeping. She turned, and walked towards the building, in a daze, seemingly. Unsure if he should follow, Mulder hung back, watching her, his heart pulling at his chest, with the desire to follow her.
"I… I trust you," She finally said, pausing at the door, but not facing him. He saw her hand touch the knob, and finally, she looked over her shoulder at him, smiling, but in a bitter way.
"I can't force you to do something you don't want to do. You don't want to be a father… okay. That's fine. I was doing fine while you were… indisposed, I'll be fine now. I hope whatever it is you're chasing is important. I don't know what could be more important than your family. Can I even know what it is you're going after?"
Mulder looked away, her words just one painful blow after the other.
Coward. You can't even tell her why you're running. You can lie, tell yourself it's to keep them safe but you know that's bull. You know that Skinner could help you, if you asked. No, you just don't want to be a father.
No. I want to be a father. I want to be with her, with my son. Maybe I'm a coward for running, but it isn't to avoid her. It's to keep her safe.
Mulder took a deep breath, clearing the thoughts from his mind.
"You know that isn't true, that I want to be here… trust me, if there was another way, I would stay. But I can't. I have to do this. You know, I almost didn't come. I thought about just leaving without saying anything."
Scully raised her brow, but shrugged, sniffling involuntarily.
"It wouldn't be the first time. You're just scared of commitment. I get it. I'm grateful for the gift you gave me, but I don't want you to feel forced to be here. Go and do whatever you were going to do." Scully said, heading inside the building.
Mulder watched her, and made a motion to follow, but glanced down at his watch, and cursed himself. He had to start leaving, or else he wouldn't make the trip in the time frame he wanted. He gave a sigh, and jogged after her.
"Scully, wait! It's not what you think!" Mulder said, as he caught up to her arriving at the elevator. She looked up at him, sadly.
"Do you want to know what I think?" Scully asked, her tone belying her sadness, since she sounded relatively calm.
"That I'm an asshole?"
"No. That as long as we have whatever we have between us, your work will always come first."
"Mulder, I've already accepted that. I just thought that with the baby… things between us would change, that maybe we could finally settle down and stop chasing monsters, but I was wrong. It's just not who you are. And I get it. You'd never be truly happy playing house here with me. I'm not angry with you. ...just disappointed."
"No, in myself," Scully said, stepping onto the elevator when it came. "You're welcome to come up to say goodbye to the baby, if you want. I'm not going to force you to, and the baby won't miss you if you decide not to."
"That's kind of mean…" Mulder said quietly, but Scully shrugged, pressing the button for her floor.
"Can't miss someone who isn't there."
The doors to the elevator closed, and when they were shut completely, Mulder sighed, and exited the building.