Tuesday, February 13, 2001
"Can I help you, sir?"
Doggett looked up into the careful smile of a Hallmark clerk. She was the same one who had glanced at him when he entered the store, so there was a good chance she'd been watching him browse and had decided to intervene when the fiftieth card was placed back on the rack with a sigh. Her nametag read "Marianne."
"Nah..." he dismissed the offer with a grimace. "I don't think you have what I'm looking for."
"What are you looking for?" the clerk asked stubbornly.
John met her eyes frankly. "Something for a woman who's carrying another man's child."
She winced. "Ooh, ouch. That's a tough one."
He laughed rawly. "Yeah."
"Well..." Marianne pondered. "You came to the right place. If our motto isn't 'a card for every occasion,' it should be."
Doggett snorted. "If you can find me a card or a gift that says 'I'm sorry your partner disappeared and you have to put up with me, but I swear I'll find him for you before his kid is born,' I'll buy dinner for you and five of your closest friends."
The clerk's eyes brightened mischievously and she stuck out a hand. "Deal. Now, tell me more..."
Much to his surprise, he found himself spilling out the whole story, except for the bit about Scully thinking her partner's abductors were alien. Then he let out a long sigh and shot her an apologetic look. "Now why the hell I just told you all that, I have no idea." I must really be desperate, he added silently to himself. "Sorry."
"Don't be." The clerk looked pensive. She studied him for a moment, then stated quietly, "I have just the card."
Surprised, John followed her through the store to a section near the back. Scanning the rows of cards, she finally settled on a plain white one embossed with the shape of a simple flower. With a knowing smile, she handed it to him.
Curious, he flipped it open. "It's blank."
Marianne smiled. "Sometimes the best words to use are your own. As for a gift...you love her, don't you?"
Looking a little sheepish, Doggett nodded, still staring at the card in his hands.
"What does she want most for Valentine's Day?"
"Mulder," he answered immediately. "But I can't give her that. I've been tryin'."
"So give her your trying."
His breath caught in his throat and he swallowed hard. He'd been telling her ever since the day they were partnered that he would find Mulder. A promise he'd never taken more seriously, because it was the only way he knew to touch the heart already claimed by a man he'd never met. But promises were hollow if they weren't kept, and she had no way of knowing he was keeping his to the best of his ability...
The clerk was still smiling at him, wise beyond her young years. "You ready to check out?"
Nodding, Doggett closed the card in his hands. "Yeah, I am."
Wednesday, February 14, 2001
She'd been tempted not to come to work today. Every day in that office without him was torture, but this day even more. Was it any wonder Valentine's Day was hated almost more than it was revered? But with the memory of Mulder lingering even stronger in her apartment, she'd known she couldn't stay at home. There was no sanctuary from it, so she'd sought out the only other comfort she had: the distraction of work.
"Agent Doggett?" she called as she opened the door. She had a case that hopefully would take them far, far away from any thoughts of Mulder...or of being alone on Valentine's Day. Invariably, he was waiting for her when she arrived, a fact she'd once resented him for--Mulder had almost always been late.
But then...she'd once resented him for everything he wasn't: only now was she beginning to accept him for what he was.
It took her a moment to register that her temporary partner wasn't in the office. In fact, he was nowhere to be seen. Scully frowned--had Doggett assumed she wouldn't be coming in today and decided to take it off himself?
Hanging up her coat, she glanced around the room in search of clues. Her eyes were drawn to a large, bright red manilla envelope sitting in the middle of Mulder's desk...underneath a single yellow rose.
What on earth?
Approaching the desk, she picked up the envelope and studied it. It was unmarked--the color and the accompanying flower the only indication that it was some sort of valentine. But from who?
Blue eyes drifted to the rose. Yellow for friendship, she thought, although she couldn't remember how she knew.
The envelope was thick and it wasn't sealed, only closed with a brass clasp which her small fingers easily worked open. What are you doing, Dana? It's probably not even for you--Doggett probably got it from some admirer.
How many men do you know who like to receive flowers? she argued with herself.
Sitting down at the desk, she opened the flap and stared in confusion at the stack of file folders inside. Anger flared: only a vicious practical joker would send her work disguised as a valentine. Brutally, she dumped the contents into her lap and snapped up the first folder, flipping it open with disdain. Her fury faltered when she saw the first page.
Oh my God...
Trembling, she lifted the page, and the next, and the next. Fumbling, she moved on to the next folder, and the next. Her breath hitched in disbelief and a sob rose at the back of her throat.
It was all there. Pages and pages of reports, affidavits, statements, records...all having to do with Mulder. And every now and then, her searching fingers would fall upon one page that she hadn't seen, hadn't read.
Overwhelmed, Scully turned away for a moment from the treasure that had been dumped in her lap and picked up the envelope. There was still something in it. Tipping it into her hand, a small, blank white card fell out. On it, in a newly-familiar scrawl, were the words:
"I'll find him.