“Scully, it’s me,” the voice on the other end rang out as soon as she picked up the receiver. She can hear him moving about, a flurry of commotion muffled in the background. He’s packing, and she knows it, but she asks him what going on anyway, in hopes that this will be the one time he tells her something different. He does not, but she can dream, if nothing else. “Pack your bags, Scully. We have a case in beautiful upstate New York, where you and I have an appointment scheduled to meet a spry, old woman to hear her recount stories of her son going off the deep end after her daughter got abducted by still unknown assailants.”
She glances at her clock. 7 am. She blows air out of her mouth, steeling herself for the 5 plus hour drive. “Fine. I’ll be ready in 30 minutes. And bring coffee.”
“Already on it, Scully. See you in a bit.” The line goes dead, and she groans into her pillow one last time before throwing her legs over the side of her bed and shuffling to the bathroom to get ready. She's dressed and made up in 15 minutes, leaving an extra 15 minutes to check the weather for upstate New York and pack her go bag accordingly. It's late October, the dead middle of a perfect New England autumn with temperatures in the 50s for the whole week. Regardless of whatever wild goose chase Mulder is bringing her along for, at least the weather will be nice. She's packed and out the door with one minute to spare, and she stands outside her apartment, searching and waiting for a government-issued sedan to come racing down the street. She checks her watch - 7:30am - and glances up to see a sedan turn the corner onto her street. She can make out Mulder's face in the slight tint of the windshield as the car approaches. Right on time.
She steps off the sidewalk and reaches for the back door handle before tossing her bag into the backseat and taking her place in the passenger seat. Her coffee is at the ready in Mulder's hand as she settles in, and she takes it, her fingers grazing his for the slightest of moments, and drinks a hearty gulp. She hums happily, and she’s glad Mulder has the right mind not to say anything before she took her first sip. “Morning, Scully,” he greets, quickly making their way to the George Washington Parkway.
“Good morning, Mulder. Thanks for the coffee.” She raises the paper cup and takes another sip. “So, upstate New York? How upstate are we talking about here?”
“Never fear, Scully,” he starts, pointedly ignoring the small snort of laughter she lets out, “I am taking you to residential New Rochelle, New York. Population of approximately 70,000 people with almost 3 miles of Long Island Sound shoreline for your seaside pleasure.” He quickly glances her way with a smirk on his lips, like he’s won something for taking her to place with a waterfront.
“New Rochelle in the middle of a perfect New England fall? if I were a betting woman, Mulder, I’d say you have something up your sleeve.” She raises the coffee cup to her lips, hoping to hide the teasing smile forming, and eyes his reaction. He licks his lips and fidgets slightly in his seat that she thinks he’s trying to play off as him getting comfortable, but it’s a nervous tick of his. And she somehow just noticed that he’s not wearing a suit, but jeans and a sweater underneath his heavier jacket. Now she’s the one who’s nervous. “Mulder,” she admonishes, setting her coffee back in its right place in the cupholder, lest she drop it after whatever bombshell Mulder is planning on dropping her in this car. He recovers quickly, but that slight slip of his demeanor worries her. “Where are you taking me?”
“Scully, it hurts me,” he raises a hand to his chest for further effect of feigned wounded shock, “that you doubt me. Honest, I’m taking you to New Rochelle. No games.”
She raises her eyebrow and offers him a short hum of indignant acceptance. We’ll see, she thinks, we’ll see.
Nearly six hours later, they pull up to the driveway of a beautiful two-story house that looks like it came out a brochure. The front porch spans the width of the house with two chairs on either side of the front door, which is painted a beautiful deep red. A large oak tree stands proud and tall to the right side of the house, branches framing the top of the house like a painting. Scully is seriously considering a lifestyle change to even afford a house like this, which she, no doubt, knows costs a pretty penny. While she admires and stares at the house, she doesn't even register that Mulder has both of their bags in his hands until they start walking up the paved pathway to the front door.
“Mulder?” he remains silent, striding closer to the door. “Whose house is this? We’re not staying here, are we?” He drops the bags at his feet to fish out his keys.
“Umm,” he stalls with an embarrassed chuckle, inserting the key into lock and twisting it counterclockwise twice until he hears the lock give way. He opens the door, bends down slightly to pick up their bags and takes a tentative step inside. She has a hand on her holster, just in case, because despite being in abnormal situations 95% of the time, this is a different kind of weird, even for them. Before she could even unbutton the leather strap holding her gun in place, she hears someone call his name from the top of the steps.
“Oh, Fox!” Scully's eyes go wide in shock, and she looks at Mulder, pleading for answers on their exact whereabouts. And then she hears it.
She turns around to face the street to hide the shock on her face, mouth gaping open like a fish out of water. That bastard. She fucking knew it. She mutters oh my god approximately twelve times under her breath before turning back around to see Mulder and his mother in an embrace. Scully plasters on a polite smile on her face at the exact moment his mom opens her eyes and sees her over his shoulder.
“Oh, how rude of me,” she apologizes, stepping away from Mulder. “Hi, Teena, so lovely to meet you.”
“Uh, hello,” she manages to choke out, taking Teena’s proffered hand to shake.
“Mom, this is Scully. Scully, my mom.”
“Ah, the infamous Scully. I've heard a lot about you.”
She catches the twinkle in her eye and wonders what exactly Mulder has told his mother about her. She chuckles uncomfortably. “All good things, I hope. Please, call me Dana.”
Teena looks at Mulder for guidance. Scully imagines that whatever Mulder has told his mother, “Dana” isn’t part of the equation. Mulder smiles, and Teena releases her hand. “Well, Dana, come on in from the cold. I’ll make you a cup of tea.” She smiles at them both before turning away to the kitchen. Mulder closes the door, and when Scully is sure Teena is out of ear shot, she gives Mulder a hard pinch on his arm. He jumps slightly and yelps, rubbing his arm.
“You brought me to your mother’s house?! Mulder, I cannot even begin to fathom how inappropriate this is. You lied to me.”
“I didn’t exactly lie to you. I just… wasn't very specific, but we are in New Rochelle!” he says excitedly, as if being in the same exact city as he intended them to be in was enough to make it better. “And we are meeting a spry, old woman - my mother - to talk about her son going off the deep end - me - after her daughter - Samantha - got abducted!”
“Oh, my god." This man really is something else. "I can’t believe this.”
“Come on, we don't have time for this. My mother is going to wonder where we are.” He walks down the hallway and makes a right at the doorway, and she hears them chatting away. She takes a deep breath to calm herself because she’s in it now, and she can’t turn back around. She turns the corner to the kitchen, and Teena is already fixing Mulder a plate of food while he gathers mugs and tea bags for them.
“Grab a seat, Dana. I’m just heating up some food for you. I’m sure you’re famished from the long drive from Washington.”
“Oh, you don’t-“ she begins to protest, but Teena isn’t having it.
“Nonsense. It’s no trouble.”
“Thank you.” She takes a seat at the short end of the rectangular kitchen island, which has a beautiful gray marble counter top, facing the stainless steel refrigerator. The counter begins to its right, forming an L shape that ends at the exact same point as the island. The kitchen isn’t too big or too small, just cozy enough, and it reminds her of home. “You have a beautiful house, Mrs. Mulder.”
“Please call me Teena, dear. Mrs. Mulder makes me feel old,” she says with a laugh. “Fox, would you mind getting some utensils?” He follows his mother’s instructions, and Scully smiles. She wishes Mulder would listen to her like that. It’d save her a lot of trouble and a lot of headache. “I’ve had this house for over 30 years. We used to come here every so often, but never lived in it, long term, of course, but after my husband passed away, I figured it was time.”
“Jasmine tea still your favorite, Scully?”
“Hm, yes, please.” Mulder places a white mug with a single tea bag in front of her before taking the kettle off the stove to pour into her mug. He asks if she wants honey with her tea, and she shakes her head. “Thanks.” He repeats the same for him and takes a seat next to her at the same time Teena announces the food is ready.
“Hope you like roasted chicken with potatoes and green beans because that’s what you’re going to get,” she offers with a smile.
“Smells delicious, Mom.” Mulder digs right in with zero decorum, and it makes her smile on the inside, to see him so comfortable in ways she’s never seen in him before. She guesses being with one’s parents always brings that out in people.
“Dana, forgive me, but I wasn’t expecting you to come by. I love the company, and quite frankly, Fox was never one to bring home girls - couldn’t really get them, you know - but what brings you here?”
Scully laughs despite herself at the ease with which his mother embarrasses him. Plus, seeing Mulder blush like a child is one she’ll never forget. “Teena, I have to be honest with you, but I’m not sure why I’m here either. Mulder called me this morning at 7am, told me to pack by bags for New Rochelle, and here we are.” She turns to face Mulder with a smirk on her face, ready to take on revenge for bringing her here unannounced. “Mulder, care to share with your mother and me why I’m here?”
He chokes on his food and gulps down his tea, presumably to buy him some time before subjecting himself to interrogation, but what comes out of his mouth is refreshingly honest and quite unlike him that she can’t help but let him off the hook. Well, not entirely, she does have a reputation to uphold here.
“I don’t know,” he shrugs. “I thought it’d be nice, nice change of scenery. We never go anywhere without a case being the catalyst, and I was coming to see my mom anyway, and I thought you’d like it here.”
She cracks a smile, but not before giving him an eye roll because, reputation, and turns back to his mother. “There you have it.”
“Well, Fox, looks like the problem still persists." Scully's eyebrow dances up, wondering what problem she's referring to, but she doesn't have to wonder for long. "How do you expect to find a wife if you just whisk people away without explanation, tsk. I raised you better than that, Fox Mulder.”
“Mom!” Scully snickers in the background. She is going to thoroughly enjoy this trip if Teena was going to consistently provide humor by way of embarrassing and teasing Mulder. “Oh, stop it, Scully.”
“Oh, I’m not doing anything,” she insists, sipping her tea, loving the situation unfold right in front of her.
“I’m telling you, Fox,” Teena chides one last time before rinsing off her cleared plate in the sink. Mulder turns to Scully in hopes she would back him up on this, but she refuses and instead mouths listen to your mother to him. Now it’s his turn to roll his eyes. “I’m not getting any younger, and you’re my only hope for grandkids.” Teena comes around to pinch his cheeks, letting him know that her words are only in jest, but Scully imagines there’s weighted truth in it that Mulder carries with him often. “Take as much time as you need, but you two finish up in here. Holler if you need me, and Fox, I take it that you’ll be a good host and show your guest around?”
“Good,” Teena accepts with a nod. “Dana, again, lovely to meet you, and please reach out for anything you may need.”
“I will, thank you.” Scully watches his mother walk away, and once she’s out of sight, she turns to Mulder with a bemused smile on her face. “Mulder, if I had known your mother was such a firecracker, I would have asked you to introduce us much earlier on in our partnership.”
“You’re just pulling my ear.” He stands to go rinse his plate at the sink. “That was embarrassing.”
Scully follows with her plate and stands next to him. “Well, I thoroughly enjoyed it.” He huffs, and she can’t help but laugh. “You deserved it, Mulder. What did you expect when you bring me here unannounced?” He doesn’t respond, so she decides to drop it and tug on his elbow. “Come on, I was promised a house tour.”
She leads them back to the foyer where Mulder grabs their bags before starting the tour. To the left of the entrance is the living room, where a charcoal gray sectional couch lies firmly in the center of the room, facing the tv precariously propped above the brick fireplace. To the right is the dining room which leads out to a sun room, decorated with ocean themed items and wicker furniture, no doubt a nod to his Martha’s Vineyard upbringing. The dining room also connects to the kitchen they were just in.
Mulder takes them up the stairs and leads them to the end of the hall, pointing out the guest bathroom along the way. He opens the door to his childhood room which has since been upgraded to a more adult version - the twin sized bed is long gone and has been replaced with a queen. Opposite the bed is a six drawer dresser with a tv adorned on top. There’s a small wooden bedside table and a white desk in the corner of the room, facing the window, which looks out to the backyard.
Scully looks out the window to see a small allotment garden in the back corner, stems and greenery of all kinds starting to peak up from the soil. Mulder drops both of their bags next to the door, and she whisks away the thought of them potentially sharing this room and this bed for the undetermined amount of time they will be staying here.
“Come on, I’ll show you the back.” He walks away, not waiting for her to follow, and leads them back down stairs. Turning the corner, they walk down the same hallway towards the kitchen, but pass it to reach the back door. There’s a handful of steps leading down to the grass, and the yard is much bigger than she had thought. Mulder points out the garden in the right hand corner, listing out the different vegetables and fruits his mother has started to grow since his father’s passing. He shrugs, not having anything further to point out. The backyard is pretty barren, except for the garden and some orange leaves from the neighboring trees.
“This place is beautiful, Mulder.”
He raises his shoulders again. “Yeah, it was nice. I could probably count the number of times my parents brought us here on one hand. We used to play in the snow, had a barbecue one year. It was nice,” he repeated.
As beautiful and wonderful as this place is, she still doesn't understand why she's here, and she isn’t sure if she could overlook that. She has to ask. “Why’d you bring me here, Mulder?”
“I meant what I said earlier, but-,” he looks down, using the toe of his boot to dig at the earth, “I just wanted to say thank you, I guess. You put up with me a lot, and I thought you, and me to a certain extent, could benefit from a break. I hope you're not upset.”
“I wish you would have told me not under the guise of a case, but,” she sighs, “no, I’m not upset. This was really thoughtful, thank you.”
“You’re welcome, Scully.”
“Don’t take this the wrong way, but how long are we going to be here for?”
“I was thinking about leaving after lunch on Sunday, so we’ll get back to DC that night, but we can leave earlier than that, if you want.”
She does the mental calculations. It’s Friday afternoon now, so they’ll be here for the weekend. A true weekend trip if she’s ever seen one. She thinks about what she has packed, and she could very well manage with what she brought, but accepting and agreeing to this trip seems like a step for them. In what direction, good or bad, she doesn’t really know. He didn’t take her just anywhere. He didn’t choose a location at random, but purposefully decided to bring her here to meet his mother and show her a part of his past. It feels weighted with emotion that she can’t wrap her mind around just yet, but there’s a pinprick in her mind telling her to take this leap and see what lies at the bottom.
“No, Sunday is great.” Mulder smiles brightly like a kid on Christmas morning, getting exactly what he wished for, and it tugs at her heart. He wraps an arm around her shoulder and motions them back into the house before dropping it and letting a hand rest on her back as they walk up the steps.
“I’m going to grab my bag and stay in the guest room, so you can take my room. I’m sure you want some time to yourself, so you’re welcome to freshen up or take a nap or read. There’s a small library down the hall from my room. I’m going to help my mom with dinner, which should be ready at 6pm sharp. Teena Mulder is a stickler for dinner at 6pm, so don’t be late,” he says with a wink.
“I’m happy to help out with dinner, Mulder.”
“No, please don’t. One word of that to my mother, and she’ll be on my case for forcing our guests to cook their own dinner and being a bad host. And I already had a handful of that at lunch, so don’t worry, we’ll take care of it.”
She chuckles at that, remembering the way Teena poked fun at him. “Okay, thank you.”
“Of course. I’ll see you at dinner then. 6pm, don’t forget. My mom will shun anyone who’s late to dinner. I’m warning you now, Scully.”
“6pm, got it. Thank you, Mulder. And I mean it. You didn’t have to do any of this.”
“I know, but I wanted to.” They share a knowing smile, and Scully has to look away because she forgets that his hazel green eyes can have the intensity of a thousand sun sometimes. “See you later, Scully.” With that, he closes the door to his, and now her, room, and she’s left with a nagging feeling that this weekend will push her out of her comfort zone.
Deciding not to worry any further, she digs through her duffle bag to retrieve her pajamas, hoping a short nap will help ease her nerves. She changes from her pantsuit into her matching pajama set in the room, and she can’t help but shudder at the thought she’s changing in Mulder’s room. And will be sleeping in his bed. It’s irrational because he didn’t grow up here, at least not really, so it’s not like they’re at his true childhood home on Martha’s Vineyard. But the chills on her body can’t tell the difference between the two, and this feels a lot more intimate than it is.
She neatly folds her clothes and places it on top of the dresser to change back into later before setting an alarm for 5:30 pm and slipping under the covers. The bed is plush, the comforter is thick and warm, and the pillows somehow smell like him, and her senses are overwhelmed. But she’s so comfortable that she easily drifts to sleep without another thought.
She wakes to the sound of her alarm, and she opens her eyes and remembers where she is and what she’s doing here. Scully lets out a sigh as she rolls onto her back, fanning out her limbs across the bed, seeking the cooler sheets, and stares at the ceiling for a moment. She tries to concoct a plan in her head for this upcoming weekend, but it’s hard to plan for much of anything if she doesn’t know what to expect. She just hopes that she doesn’t get too swept up in her emotions because she does have a professional partnership to maintain after all.
It’s 5:40pm by the time she gets out of bed, and she takes her clothes and toiletry bag with her to the bathroom down the hall. She’s halfway to the bathroom when Mulder takes the final step at the top landing of the stairs, and she pointedly ignores the way his eyes sweep up and down her body, no doubt committing this to his memory.
“Hey, Scully,” he greets, a playful smile threatening to break through. “Did you sleep well?”
“Uh, yeah. Just what I needed, thanks. I’m just freshening up again for dinner,” she explains, holding up her toiletry bag for proof. “Can’t be late.”
“No,” he chuckles, “no, you can’t. I’ll leave you to it. I was just coming up to check on you. Meet you in the kitchen?”
She nods in agreement, and that was enough for him to turn around and head back downstairs. She breathes a sigh of relief and practically runs the rest of the way to the bathroom, quickly closing the door behind her. She can’t shake the way his eyes roamed her body, lips curling up into a smirk, like he liked what he saw. Has Mulder ever looked at her that way before? Gosh, has it been so long since she's been with a man that she's forgotten what it's like? She needs to get a grip and stop acting like a teenager. It’s just her partner from the FBI, nothing more, nothing less.
She changes back into her daytime clothes and curls her eyelashes again, sweeping on a couple of coats of mascara to liven up her still sleep-addled eyes. She returns her pajamas to the room and begins to head downstairs for dinner, carefully trying not to make too much noise with her heeled shoes against the wooden stairs. Scully can hear Mulder and Teena in hushed conversation, and she thinks she heard her name in there a couple of times, but she can’t be sure. She walks with a purpose now, announcing her arrival and hopefully sparing any awkward glances.
“I’m not late to dinner, am I?” Two pairs of the same exact eyes land on her, and she feels awkward from the attention, but offers a smile.
“Not at all, right on time,” Mulder reassures, before turning to his mother. “She’s always on time, so you won’t get to kick anyone out this time.”
“I hope you haven’t been spreading rumors about me, Fox. I would never turn away a guest from dinner.”
“Of course not.” Mulder turns back to Scully once Teena’s back is turned and quickly shakes his head.
Scully smiles at his attempt to cut through the tension and takes a seat at the table. “Thank you for even having me for dinner, Teena. It’s very kind of you, and I hope I can return the favor some time.”
“You keep my son out of trouble, so consider us even. Who knew Fox would be such a fitting name? Mischievous little things,” she mutters under her breath.
“I’ll continue to make sure of it, don’t worry.” She spots Mulder in the corner of her eye, and the smile on his face tells her that he has no problem with that.
Teena serves dinner without further comment, presenting pan-fried filets of white fish with lemon wedges on the side, bowls of rice, and a platter of roasted broccoli. Mulder takes Scully’s plate without batting an eye and serves her a hearty plate before tending to his mother and then himself.
Dinner is delicious, and the conversation is pleasant. They talk about his childhood, with promises from Teena that she’ll show her Mulder’s baby pictures before the weekend ends, much to Mulder’s protest. Teena asks about her and her family and not so subtlety asks if she has a nice boyfriend or husband in her life. Mulder nearly chokes on his food for the second time that day and warns his mother how inappropriate that question is. Scully waves him away with a hand and confirms that she does not. Teena’s eye flicker with recognition, like something clicked into place, but it’s gone as quickly as it came that Scully isn’t sure if she saw it at all.
As dinner continues, Scully can see where Mulder gets his playfulness. Teena is sharp as a tack, and seeing her relationship with Mulder eases a lot of Scully’s worries, especially since his childhood was very fraught. Mulder can get so obsessed with work and conspiracies that it leaves little room for much of anything else, so knowing that his mother is someone he can go to is comforting.
When everyone’s plates are empty, too full to eat more, Scully and Mulder insist on washing the dishes, giving Teena a much deserved break. She accepts gracefully and is nearly out the room until she turns back around, seemingly forgetting one last thing. “I have some errands to run tomorrow, so I’ll be out of your hair for much of the day, but you two help yourself to whatever you need. Fox, you know how to reach me if anything comes up.” Mulder hums in the affirmative. “Good night, Dana.”
“Good night, Teena, thank you again for dinner.”
Scully begins to collect the empty plates and dirty utensils from the table to get started on the dishes. Mulder quickly joins in, collecting the remaining dinnerware, and she can feel him eyeing her, presumably gauging how she felt about dinner with his mother. She beats him to the punch.
“Your mother is a clever woman. I like her.” She sets the dishes in the sink, rinsing each item before lathering a sponge with soap. Mulder joins her at her side, ready to rinse the suds off the dishes and then onto the rack to dry.
“She’s not an easy woman to please, but I think she likes you too.”
“I don’t think the bar is very high, if it’s true that I’m the only woman you brought home,” she smirks.
“Well, no one was really worth bringing home, so I’d say the bar is fairly high. And you’re not very tall either, so you managed well, Scully,” he laughs.
“Hey! No making fun of the guest. It’s not becoming.” He laughs even harder at that, and she can’t remember a time where she felt so, dare she say, happy. It feels comfortable to wash dishes and joke around with him. They so rarely get these easy moments in their every day life that she almost forgot what it was like until now. But with happiness comes melancholy because, as she stated earlier this evening, she doesn’t have anyone in her life, and domestic moments like this make it glaringly obvious to her. She really only has Mulder, and that excites her as much as it saddens her.
She thinks Mulder sensed a shift in her mood because he’s now apologizing. “Hey,” he says with a nudge of his hip to hers, “I’m sorry about my mom earlier, asking you about your personal life like that.”
Scully shakes her head, hoping she doesn’t show how affected she is by this topic. “Mulder, there’s no need to apologize. It was a perfectly reasonable question to ask.”
“I know, but-“
“Mulder, it’s okay.” She hands him the last plate and looks at him in earnest, drying her hands on a towel. “Really,” she smiles, placing a hand on his arm for reassurance. “I appreciate your concern. I’m going to go upstairs to change, okay?” She turns around and heads for the stairs, not waiting for his permission, and she can hear him murmur of course behind her.
She feels a little bad for leaving Mulder in the lurch like that, but she couldn’t stand there any longer without feeling like she failed herself in some way. She had always imagined the kind of life where she has a loving husband, a two story house, and two and a half kids, but she wonders if it's too late for her now, if she missed an opportunity somewhere along the way. She doesn't regret pursuing a career in medicine and taking this job in the FBI - she wouldn't change it for the world, but being in that moment hit too close to home because it was yet another reminder of what she doesn’t have.
Over the past few years, her mind has wandered to that forbidden place of what life would be like if Mulder was the person she shared her life with. It’s not hard to do when he has saved her life a million times over, and he is the only person in the world who understands what they've been know and what they know, but laughing with him in the kitchen, standing hip to hip, and washing the dishes was a lot more fulfilling and comforting than she expected. And it’s scary - scary to figure out what that might mean and scary to come face to face with her feelings.
Three knocks on her door pull her out of her train of thought. She buttons the last button of her pajama top and opens the door to find Mulder also dressed in his pajamas - a white t-shirt with heather gray sweatpants. “Hey, it’s barely 8pm, and I was wondering if you wanted to watch some tv or a movie with me? I have alcohol and ice cream to bribe you with.”
He flashes a boyish smile, and she’s thankful that his first question wasn’t how she was doing. She figures he knows her well enough that a question like that will close her up like a clam, so she accepts his offer and follows him back to the kitchen.
Mulder opens the fridge to inspect its contents. “We have some light beer and red wine. Looks like a Pinot.” He opens the freezer next. “And for ice cream, we have classic vanilla, and if you’re feeling particularly adventurous today, Cherry Garcia from Ben & Jerry’s.” He manages to hold all of the offerings of alcohol and frozen dessert in his arms, and he’s looking at her expectedly, patiently waiting for her to make her selection. She can’t help but smile at the thought that he might be trying to make her feel better with her favorite things.
She makes a show of thinking about it, carefully eyeing the options and tapping a finger to her chin, just to torture him a little bit. “Red wine and Cherry Garcia, please,” she finally decides.
“Yes! Good choice, Scully.” He returns the vanilla ice cream back into the freezer and places the pint of Ben & Jerry’s on the counter before grabbing two spoons. She gets a head start and sinks her spoon into the creamy dessert while he uncorks the wine and pours a generous glass for her. He turns around to her mid-bite. “Hey! No fair.”
“’s so good, I’m not even sorry.”
He sets down her wine with a shake of his head, not evening fighting it because it’ll be no use. He puts the wine bottle back in the fridge and takes a beer from a nearby shelf, unscrewing the top with a hiss. “Shall we?”
Picking up her wine glass and keeping the ice cream in her possession, she heads to the living room and settles in while Mulder grabs the remote and turns on the tv, immediately going to the TV Guide channel to see this evening’s programming.
“What are we feeling tonight, Scully?” he asks, scanning the screen with his eyes. “A Bug’s Life? Ooh, When Harry Met Sally? Classic New York movie. Seems fitting, no?”
“A Bug’s Life, Mulder?” she questions with a raised eyebrow.
“It’s a classic!” he exclaims, flipping to the channel where the movie is just about to begin. “Flik reminds me of myself, you know? No one really likes him or is his friend, except for one person, of course. He’s always causing trouble and is an embarrassment to the colony.” He raises the beer bottle to his lips, stopping just a couple of inches away. “Sound familiar, Scully?” He takes a pull from the bottle, still looking at her, and she thinks he’s doing this purposefully to get a reaction out of her. She looks down at her ice cream, scooping another spoonful.
“Mmm, yeah, it does sound like you.” Her eyes flick to the screen, picking up her wine glass to take a sip. “You look like him too.”
“Okay, give me that.” He steals the pint of ice cream out of her hands. “Uncalled for, Scully.”
“Hey, you’re eating all of the ice cream!”
“You got a head start, so you’re in no place to complain.”
“Hmph.” She settles back into the couch with a huff, watching him smugly eat her rightful ice cream. He relinquishes his hold with a sigh after a few minutes and scoots closer to her, so they’re sitting shoulder to shoulder. He offers the ice cream back to her, and she places a hand on the container to steady it as she digs into the dessert. Her hand is touching his, and she pretends like it’s a normal occurrence, but she can tell that he’s looking at them out of her peripheral vision. She releases the carton and returns her attention to the movie where the pile of food is beginning to topple over into the water.
They watch the movie in comfortable silence, each laughing and making comments here and there. They finish their respective drinks, and the ice cream is long gone by the time the movie ends, and Mulder turns off the tv.
“Dot and Princess Atta remind me of you,” he says without prompting as he clears the coffee table.
“Hm? How so?”
“Well,” he begins, walking to the kitchen. “Dot has been Flik’s friend since the beginning, believing in him when no one else did, and she went to Bug City with him, leaving her friends and family behind. And Princess Atta always wants to do the right thing, and she makes sure everything goes to plan. Flik is a lucky ant guy,” he admits.
Scully tosses the empty ice cream carton into the trash, thankful that its location allows her to turn away from him, so she can panic in relative peace. Mulder isn’t usually one to be so forthcoming about his feelings - one thing she has in common with him - so in the rare occasions that he is, she knows he means it. She turns around with a smile and starts heading upstairs.
“Hm, that he is. Dot and Princess Atta are pretty lucky too. Flik has good intentions and only wants what’s best for the greater colony, even if he messes up sometimes.” She raises a hand to scratch above her eyebrow in slight disbelief they’re comparing each other to animated ants from a Pixar movie as a roundabout way of disclosing how they really feel about each other. But they reach her room, and it’s time to say good night.
“Thanks for the ice cream and movie, Mulder. I had fun.”
“Me too. We can do it again tomorrow night, if you want.”
“I’d like that.”
He smiles, indicating that he’d very much like it too. “Good night, Scully.” He bends down to give her a kiss on the cheek before retiring to his own room. She quietly closes the door and turns around to lean against it, exhaling sharply. Her heart is beating loudly against her chest, and she feels like she just came home from a first date.