He wore a ring, but never mentioned a wife. Nor should he, she supposed; they’d only just been assigned to each other, they’d only just met.
She considered that perhaps he was a widower, but didn’t feel comfortable asking. She thought maybe he was just a closed off, private man, until she found herself on his hotel bed in her robe, and he was telling her all about his family, his missing sister.
Then they had been three cases in, and there was still that ring. She finally asked him his wife’s name.
“Lauren,” he said.
She’d heard enough men talk about their wife in that tone of voice to know the relationship was not one like her parents, was not one she’d want herself.
She felt something close to pity.
He saved her life in the Twin Cities.
Donnie Pfaster was something more than evil, and when he told her he’d prepared himself for what he was going to see, she’d wished he’d prepared her, too. She was so thrown by the case that in addition to seeking out Karen Kosseff and availing herself of the therapist services supplied by the Bureau, she had plowed right past the fact that her partner had taken on the case for the sole purpose of taking her to the Redskins/Vikings football game.
She’d been with married men. She’d seen what havoc could be wreaked from the pursuit of such a relationship, and she had decided long ago that she would never do it again.
Mulder had become her best friend. Lately, her only friend. Their reassignment had been difficult, but she talked to him more days a week than she didn’t. She tried not to notice that she was number one on his emergency contact list, and Lauren was number two.
She loved him as a friend, loved him as perhaps something more, but wasn’t convinced of his feelings for her until she was sitting atop Skyland Mountain with her hands tied in front of her, bound and gagged, and amongst a confusion of lights and sound, Mulder stumbled onto the scene, appearing as if from a TARDIS, and threw a haymaker so vicious it knocked Duane Barry out cold. He kicked him in the gut for good measure, and then tenderly removed her bindings, scooped her up in his arms and carried her down the mountain despite her shaky protestations that she could walk.
She had met Lauren only once, near the beginning of their partnership.
Lauren had dropped by their office to take Mulder to lunch on his birthday and had arrived 30 minutes early. As Mulder had told Scully he’d planned to meet his wife in the lobby, she concluded that Lauren had shown up early on purpose, most likely with the sole intention of meeting Scully in the flesh.
She’d given Scully an assessing once-over and then smiled at her with barely concealed conceit and distaste. She then turned on her clippy Manolo’s, and purred Mulder’s first name.
He had the look of a man headed to the gallows.
Scully had tried dating. For a while she accepted every offer, let her mother set her up on blind dates, went through the produce section of her local market with a wandering eye.
In the end, she had a few second dates, two one night stands, and a heart that was closed to all but one.
Each night she would soak in the bath until she pruned, cry until the water turned cold and lament her role as Eponine. In the morning, she would meet her partner at the airport, hand him a coffee with a cheerful smile and board the damn plane.
“You’re in love with your partner.” Missy said it as a statement rather than a question.
They were trying an organic tapas restaurant her sister had found and Scully’s appetite disappeared before Melissa had finished the sentence.
“Missy!” she said with horror and embarrassment, which Melissa brushed aside with a flick of her wrist.
When Scully was 12 and 13, she kept a diary. No matter how well she hid it, Missy would always find it, pick the lock, and read it back to her whenever she walked in her room.
Now that they were older, it didn’t matter if Scully’s secrets were at the center of a maze; Missy was forever Theseus, gaining its center and slaying the minotaur. Scully could keep nothing from her--she didn’t even know why she tried.
“I can hardly blame you,” Missy plowed on, popping an olive into her mouth, “he’s a dish.”
Scully slumped in her seat.
“So’s his wife,” she said.
Missy narrowed her eyes at her sister.
“Is she mean?” Missy asked.
Scully wouldn’t answer.
“I knew it,” Missy said, then, “how mean? Like on a scale of Heathers?”
Scully touched a napkin delicately to her lip. “Shannon Doherty” she said, with all the dignity she could muster.
Missy leaned back in her chair. “You and I are going shopping,” she said.
On an airplane over the arid West, Mulder told her, in no uncertain terms, that he was in love with her.
When their plane landed, she called Skinner and requested a week of PTO and an immediate transfer. She would not be a homewrecker again. She would not.
After three days next to a pool in Key Largo, Skinner called with an offer: Salt Lake City, take it or leave it.
Three days later, drained of tears and out of sunscreen, she called him back: leave it.
She returned to work on Monday. She pretended she never heard.
Two months later, Mulder stood in the doorway of their office and told her he was on his way to divorce court.
Scully sat at her desk, dazed, thrilled, scared out of her mind. A laugh bubbled up from inside her and burst into the dusty air at the bottom of the Hoover building.
Six weeks after the paperwork went through, Mulder showed up at her door at 9:00pm on a Friday and kissed her soundly on the mouth.
Five minutes later they were completely undressed, each het up to the point of frenzy. When she sunk down on him, took him all the way inside of her, she felt something pass between them, something heady and true. From that moment on she would always be a little less of a skeptic.
Later, when he was tracing lazy patterns over her skin with his fingers, their heads just touching on the pillow, he asked thoughtfully, “Is this what forever feels like?”
She took a moment to just look at him. Then, “Yes,” she said, matter-of-factly.
“I never knew,” he said, his voice full of wonder.
Two years later, in a bed in Bellefleur, Oregon, in the place where it all started, he looked up from in between her legs and licked his lips thoughtfully.
“You taste different,” he said.
She did some quick math in her head, then reached down and ran her fingers lightly through his hair.
“I think we should go back to DC,” she said with a tremulous smile.