- Ficlet: "Broken Sinks”
Mulder hates sinks. He also hates washing machines, runoff drains and lightbulbs in unreachable places. He never really intended to own a home, to be responsible for such things. But he has been failing to be the Man of the House in the other ways he used to succeed.
So here he is, under the counter with tools and cleaning products strewn all over the floor like Armageddon at a hardware store. It is 80 degrees in the house because Scully doesn’t like the AC, and he is trying to get into a garbage disposal because Scully dropped a tiny spoon down it.
Goddamit, Scully, why do you have to use those tiny spoons? Where does she even get tiny spoons? Is there a tiny spoon store?
“It helps my ice cream last longer,” she’d said to him innocently. Far be it from him to come between Scully and twenty extra seconds of chocolate ice cream. And who the fuck tightened this thing? He feels sweat trickle down the side of his face as he tries to get some torque on it, his biceps burning. He hasn’t been doing anything to keep them in shape. Why bother? She doesn’t touch him there anymore, hardly touches him at all. His only use is digging tiny spoons out of sinks.
There, he’s got it. It’s coming loose.
But he’s apparently twisted the wrong part. The water sprays out, sprinkling his forearms, the front of his t-shirt. He sits back, ducking his head out and resting it against the cabinet. He bangs it there once or twice, just hard enough to make clear to himself and all the inanimate objects in the kitchen just how much this sucks. It’s hot as fuck, I’m out of shape and old and can’t even get a spoon out of the sink. He’s the most useless person ever and she’s going to leave him.
He suddenly remembers himself as a different person. A guy who could shave without feeling exhausted by it. A guy who did not choose his laptop over following Scully to bed, a guy who would follow her to bed even if the world was ending. That guy would probably be laughing as the water sprayed him, happy for a little relief from the heat. He’d be listening to music, saying things like fuck the sink, but not while banging his head. He’d be focusing on finding his favorite pen in an unholy mass of plastic bags.
Okay, well, let’s start with music, he thinks. I can do that.
He gets up and reaches for the little pink boom box sitting atop the refrigerator. He bought it for Scully at a Goodwill Store a couple years ago so she could listen to the cassettes she refused to give up. He hits power, nothing, fiddles with the tuner. It needs batteries. This is another thing about houses, there are so many places for things to be.
He checks all the cabinets, his desk, the little drawer in the living room where Scully keeps trying to make him store the remote control. Nothing. He leans his hands against the living room wall and takes a deep breath, his shirt sticking to him and his jeans hanging off his poorly nourished hips. He has to fix this, somehow, all of it. Maybe if he could just find the batteries, it would be okay.
He’s ashamed to ask for her help, but he knows she knows where everything is. He walks awkwardly toward the bedroom, trying to remind himself that he is not an intruder there. That it is still his room too, even if he never goes in it. He calls out to her before he tents his fingers on the door and pushes it open.
“Hey, have you seen the… Oh.”
She is in nothing but a threadbare white V-neck t-shirt. Her pale legs tangle monochromatically with a white sheet, her hand is moving below it. He can tell by the speed of it that she’s just started. She stops and looks at him with her hair fuzzed and wavy, surprised but not embarrassed, breathing slowly.
“What is it?”
“Batteries,” he mutters, sheepishly staring at the sunlight hitting the floor beside the bed.
“What do you need batteries for?” she asks breathlessly, moving a clump of hair back from her eyes.
“I just wanted to listen to some music.”
She reaches over to the nightstand, picks up her phone, swiping at it until Moby’s singing (if you can call it singing). She swipes some more, finding Springsteen for him and holds the phone out.
He approaches the bed like a peasant in the royal court, nervous and slow. When he finally takes the phone from her outstretched hand, he’s struck by the scent of sheets dampened with her. Rainy forest. Toasted marshmallow. He can never quite place it.
She leans up on one arm with her shirt falling off her shoulder as she watches him take the phone and stand there dumbly. There is a cluster of freckles grouped around the fold of her armpit. The guy he used to be would have stayed to count them. Now he is too concerned that she is waiting for him to leave.
There is this, or the sink. There is this, or nothing.
His eyes flutter to the floor like pieces of paper, shielding him from the potential disgust in her eyes.
“Keep going,” he requests humbly. She kicks the sheet away and moves over, rolling onto her back, slipping her hand back into place. He puts Springsteen on the nightstand and lies on his side in the damp spot she left. He rests his head on his t-shirt to watch her.
She wanders away with her eyes closed, her breathing becoming staggered. He silences his own, afraid to interfere. But in a moment she quietly invokes his name. He works his hand over the twitching muscle in her arm, brushes his fingers over her chest, despairs of having forgotten the sensation of hard nipple under cotton. Her body responds with a squirm, with acceleration. She is so beautiful like this he wants her to take longer, wants to eat her with a tiny spoon.
But it is no time at all before her breaths are coming in hard bursts, one climbing on top of the other. It is different when she does it herself, and he is awed by her efficiency. There is no mess of curses, no uncertainty. Just one Oh God and one Yes, and he can feel her breath stop under his hand. She reaches above her head and grips the railing of the headboard, curls her toes into the sheets as she comes. She takes three deep breaths before she rolls over into his body and grips his wet shirt in her fist, says his name again.
“I don’t think I can fix the sink,” he says. She covers him with her leg and drags her hips toward him.
“I’d rather you make yourself useful here.”