Chapter 9: Even Underneath The Waves.
'Cos even underneath the waves I'll be holding on to you
And even if you slip away I'll be there to fall into the dark
To chase your heart, no difference will ever tear us apart, no,
There's nothing that I wouldn't do, I'll find my way back to you,
~Eric Arjes, Find My Way Back To You
Scully chuckles quietly into her glass, placing it down on the table between her and Jack who had just finished an impression of his youngest daughter Valerie. It was obvious how much the man loved his family, the crazy stories that he told about his three children almost kept Scully's mid from wandering back to Mulder and whatever he was hiding from her. The fact that she had already downed three glasses of whiskey probably helped too though.
Jack settled back into his chair, fiddling with the rim of his glass. "Funny that we bump into each other tonight. Huh, Danes?", he remarked, slurring slightly. "You think it means something after all these years?". His eyes were cloudy and dilated, Scully knew that he didn't hold his drink very well. Their first year in college had been a testament to that.
Scully shrugged nonchalantly. "What, so that we can be miserable together?", she asked, hoping to get out of the discussion that she had a funny feeling Jack was going to start next. Scully didn't want to deal with the 'what ifs' from her late teens years right now. She did ,after all, have enough on her plate.
Jack smiled slightly. "No, Dana", he said with a shake of his head. "Maybe we were supposed to work out the first time. Perhaps something greater than us brought us back together again tonight". Jack watched, trying to gauge Scully's expression. "Something like fate".
Her face fell. Scully had a feeling Jack's conversation was heading in this particular direction but had hoped for both of their sakes that it she would be wrong and it would go down a different route. She watched him silently for a moment.
There had been a time where Scully had loved Jack despite their different views for the future. There was a time when just like Daniel, she had imagined a life with him. That was the past though and even when Scully had believed herself to have been deeply in love with Jack, she knew now that what she had felt for him then paled in comparison to what she feels for Mulder now.
"You mean despite our mutual need for alcohol?", Scully answered, keeping her voice even. She was going to dodge this particular bullet for as long as possible and humour seemed like a decent option right now.
Jack smirked sadly, leaning almost uncomfortably close to Scully across the table. She could feel his warm breath on her face, her eyes fixed on her face. Scully felt herself freeze in shock when Jack reached across the last few inches and merged their lips together. "Whiskey and fate then, Danes". At his words she began to feel her head buzzing pleasantly from the alcohol.
Scully relaxed for a second, almost forgetting where she was for a moment as a result of the Whiskey. Jack took this as a positive sign and made an attempt to pull Scully closer, sweeping his tongue across her lower lip. She could feel his tears on her face or perhaps they were her own. Scully jerked back, coming to her senses. Mulder.
She wiped her lips on the sleeve of her jacket, glaring at a sorrowful looking Jack. "What the hell was that, Jack!", she hissed angrily at Jack for instigating the kiss, even though she was even more angry at herself for going with it, even if it was only for a second.
"I just wondered what it would feel like after all these years", Jack answered apologetically. He regarded her for a moment, how she didn't make eye contact with him. "This guy that you broke up with today", he started, casually. "You really love him, don't you".
Scully looked up to meet his eye, Jack was dead serious about what he was asking but something in his eyes told her that he knew the answer anyway. It was a rhetorical question but Scully nodded in agreement. "Yeah, I do".
She wasn't usually one to divulge her inner emotion that she usually kept bottled up but in the wake of what happened with Mulder she wasn't exactly herself. Scully was worried sick about him, missing his presence like a limb as cheesy as it sounds. Then there was a part of her that hated him, hated Mulder for not trusting her enough to let
Silence hung over them awkwardly, both shuffling their feet and avoiding each others eyes. The hustle and bustle of the bar continued around them despite the fact that many customers were beginning to mill out one by one as morning approached. The bartenders were beginning to come around, going from table to table collecting beer mats and wiping off the surfaces. Scully and Jack remained silent, taking turns observing each other and their surroundings.
"Hey Dana", Jack said quietly to get Scully's attention, breaking the mute between them.
She looked up hesitantly, hoping that he wasn't going to try anything else and ended up relieved by the expression on his face. He seemed sorry, that would be enough for now. "What? "she asked, still cold but less than before.
"For what it's worth. This guy is a lucky bastard. I would have killed to have you love me like you love him when we were together", Jack finished with a cloudy smile, almost melancholic.
"Thanks, Jack", Scully said, gathering up her bag from under the table and digging around inside for her cell phone to call a cab. "I'd better go", she told him finally before standing up to leave.
Jack smiled sombrely. "I know".
6th of July
Mulder grumbled softly, his face an inch deep in the leather sofa. He was sprawled on his back in his living room where he had tumbled in, falling asleep almost immediately the previous night. Mid morning sunlight streamed in from the window to his left, stinging his eyes with it's unbearable brightness.
Mulder's head pounded like the base drum in a marching band as he mentally pepped himself up enough to scramble into a sitting position. The sound of the morning traffic outside was like Z jackhammer against his skull and Mulder held his head in his hands for a moment as his memories from the previous day hit him like a ton of bricks accompanied with a wave of nausea.
'Dammit, Scully', he mumbled to himself as he stood up from the sofa grabbing his coat from the night before. It was only now that the full weight of his actions the day before began to hit him, Leaving Scully would probably was probably the more nobler option but sometimes it really did hurt to take the selfless path.
'Is what you did really that selfless', a small voice at the back of his mind asked. 'Is hurting Scully really the best option for her. Was making up some ridiculous lie better for her, leading her to believe something that is in no way even remotely close the truth'. In the wake of things he wasn't even sure anymore
Mulder pushed these thoughts aside, their presence only making his ears pound and his hangover feel worse. He assured himself once again that what he had done was what was best for Scully and not for any other reason. The result still hadn't shown up, he wasn't expecting them until later in the day anyway. Mulder mind began to stray into dark places, wondering what would be ahead, fumbling in the darkness of what would likely be his future. Surely he hadn't acted rashly about all of this?
Mulder made his way to the door, not bothering to change or shower and took one glance around his loving room before shutting the door on number 42 behind him, heading down the hall. This was a morning for an extremely large black coffee and a whole lot of self pity.
I remember all of the things that I thought that I wanted to be
So desperate to find a way out of my world and finally breath
Right before my eyes I saw, My heart it came to life
This ain't easy, it's not meant to be. Every story has it's scars.
Cleary's 24 Hour Coffee and Diner
With a large cardboard cup in hand Mulder sat down in a reclusive corner in the almost empty coffee shop that he and Scully had started frequent on Saturday morning about a year previously. The shop was a little hole in the wall really, with it's small wooden chairs, darkly painted walls and low ceiling but the coffee was good. As soon as one entered the small shop you would be hit by the unmistakable smell of fresh coffee and the seemingly unending kindness of the seventy something year old woman who had been running the place alone ever since her husband died ten years previously.
"Hello, Mulder", the old lady greeted warmly, notepad and pen at the ready to take his order. "Are you feeling alright this morning, dear". Nancy Cleary stood opposite Mulder, her grey hair tied into a bun at the back of her head, her wrinkles pronounced and her eyes kind. The older woman knew Mulder and Scully well as she didn't have that many customers with her shop being the hidden treasure that it was.
Mulder gave her a half smile despite himself. "I'm fine, Mrs Cleary. Just a little tired", he said dismissively. "How's business?".
The old woman smiled. "Oh, the same. I can't complain". Nancy looked over from Mulder to the empty seat next to him. "I see Dana isn't with you this morning".
Mulder shook his head, taking a drag from his coffee cup to avoid the older woman's gaze. "No, she's not".
Nancy smiled kindly, patting Mulder on the shoulder. She had a fair idea what he meant by his response to her observation. "I don't pretend to know what goes on between young people these days but I do know that you two are a special pair and that things will work out for the best".
Mulder nodded, deciding that it was best to say nothing more on the topic. "Thanks, Mrs Cleary".
She nodded finally and with a final parting glance Nancy left, waddling behind the counter, her floral apron billowing behind her.
Just then the bell at the door tingled, signalling the arrival of a new customer. Both Nancy and Mulder looked up to see who was standing at the doorway and we're greeted with the sight of a tired, dishevelled looking Dana Scully.
Scully smiled briefly at Nancy who asked her for her order. The red haired woman pretended not to take notice of Mulder presence. For now it brought up too many mixed feelings from the day before. She didn't feel like facing him just yet not that her raging headache from last night's drinks helped the matter, making her feel twice as irritated about Mulder's lack of honesty. Scully kept her attention on the older lady.
"I'll just have the usual with an extra shot. Thanks Mrs Cleary".
Nancy nodded and after a few minutes handed over the drink across the beige painted counter top. Scully paid her for the drink before heading for the furthest table from Mulder even though there wasn't much choice with only three small tables in the Diner.
Nancy smiled kindly at her from over the counter, her eyes alight with mischief as she looked between the pair who were hastily avoiding eye contact or any other sign that they knew each other. "I'm afraid that I have that table reserved for a little later, dear. Why don't you take a seat next to the gentleman over there", she said gesturing to Mulder and acting as though she believed the pair to be perfect strangers.
Scully looked up from her coffee, meeting the older woman's knowing gaze. She immediately knew what Mrs Cleary was implying, that she and Mulder should talk. After all it was highly unlikely that a table would be reserved here mid morning let alone two. Scully glanced over to Mulder who at the same moment looked up from his coffee meeting her eye, his gaze intense as though a single glance could gain insight into her very soul.
Mulder held her gaze, wishing that he could somehow telepathically send her a sign. He could see how much he had hurt Scully and hated himself for causing her that pain. He tried to assure himself that causing her this pain resulting in saving her from a lot more. That was until Scully was actually standing in front of him, his best friend, the love of his life. Dammit he needed to tell her. She deserved to know even if it meant that he had to do everything in his power to push her away afterwards. Scully at least deserved the shore truth.
Scully quickly broke the spell, hastily standing up and taking her coffee with her. She felt her heart contract at her own actions. She was walking away from Mulder, the man that she knew that she couldn't help but love. After all, loving him proved to be as instinctive as breathing and leaving him felt like she was leaving her heart behind.
"I think I'll take this to go, Mrs Cleary", Scully mumbled to the older woman as she scrambled for the door. She didn't wait for an answer before the door swung shut behind her, the sound over the bell resonating around the small cafe.
Mulder watched her go for a split second before his body sprung into action. He couldn't leave thing like this, not with her, not with Scully. He quickly downed the last mouthful of his coffee, his head having finally stopped spinning. The sight of Scully must have instantly made him sombre.
Mulder reached the door in a handful of strides. "Thanks for the coffee, Mrs Cleary", he called over his shoulder.
The older woman smiled to herself. The dating game may have changed since her time but love was still love no matter how you dress it up.
Sometime you don't even have to look for your soul mate.
Because you have the same hiding place
Scully made a beeline across the street, the traffic already quite busy and headed straight for the park at the end of the road. The gates on the outside were rusty with the paint peeling off, obviously having been long since abandoned by the city council but the inside was kept pristine even in light of the unseasonably bitter weather. The grass neatly manicured was glossy with dew drops, the small man made lake was a pale grey reflecting the sky over head.
Scully made her way to the bench just to the side of the water, the soothingly bubbling sound calming her, reminding her of those carefree days when she went sailing with her father and brothers as a child. She shut her eyes, managing her temples where a headache was brewing. She needed to be alone with her thought but obviously he didn't think so.
Scully knew Mulder had taken the seat next to her without ever opening her eyes. His tell-tale Muldererisms in his movements gave him away immediately. He reached across, squeezing Scully's hand lightly. "Scully, it's me".
Scully nodded, finally glancing at him. Mulder's hair was slightly bedraggled, his hazel eyes sad with black bags underneath. It was almost a comfort to know he was having just as crappy a time as she in light of this new and uncomfortable arrangement between them. It was almost a comfort to know that the distance and silence, though both were limited by the standards of most, was slowly killing them both. Almost but not quite.
"I know. If you were anyone else you would have a black eye for creeping up on me like that", Scully commented, the light humouredness not reaching her eyes.
Mulder chuckled self-deprecatingly. "I'm flattered, Scully", he said, running his thumb unconsciously along the back of her hand.
Scully pulled away from him, tucking both her hands into her dark coloured jacket. "We've still got plenty of time". She eyed him seriously even though she knew that it would take quite a lot more for Mulder to get such a reaction from her. Yell at him, maybe. Physically hurt him, no.
Mulder smiled sadly. Scully saw in his gaze a sincerity she hadn't seen in him since he confessed his love for rational her. His hazel eyes were wide with emotion until they almost seemed like melting caramel and something else that she couldn't quite name but it made her heart ache. Whatever he was going to tell her was serious. Whatever he was going to tell her was the truth.
"Mulder. Whatever this is we can overcome it together. You know that right?". She was the one taking his hands in her's now and he was the one pulling away. Scully held on to Mulder with her gaze refusing to let go of at least that contact between them.
"Scully, you need to get as far away from me as you can", Mulder told her. A part of him knew that he was getting ahead of himself on this. A part of him knew that the results may tell him that his mother died of a viral disease and that he would be fine. What if he was acting rashly? What if he had nothing to worry about? What if? The two words are as nonthreatening as words can be, but put together side by side and they have the power of haunt you. What if?
Scully fixed Mulder with her signature steely gaze, determined. "Mulder, I know you. You're my best friend. I know something is wrong but I can't read your mind. I can't help you if you don't let me in".
Mulder gulped, barely able to keep the truth swallowed at least not from her. Not from Scully. "You're better off this way, Scully. Without me", his eyes were wide, sparkling in their hollowness. The conviction in his words was lacking, a lie neither of them would believe. A lie that Mulder knew was such and a lie Scully found it had to find reason. His voice said one thing while his eyes screamed, 'Scully, you are the only one I trust'.
The truth was churning in the pit of Mulder's being, churning and about to come to light, bathed in the sincerity of the pair. The words were on the tip of his tongue about to spill out and be known. Scully reached across, seeing that he was ready to be honest with her and squeezed his hand encouragingly. Mulder smiled vaguely, lifting her hand to her mouth and placed a soft kiss on her knuckles.
"I will totally understand if you want to run for the hills when you here this, Scully", he said quietly.
Scully shook her head firmly but said nothing. It was clear to her that as long as he trusted her and she could trust him they had a home in each other, with their best friend and lover. If she hadn't run for the hills the day that she first met him she certainly wouldn't now that they had come so far.
Mulder opened his mouth to speak but was silenced when a hand grasped at his shoulder, turning him around to face her, away from Scully. Diana Fowley smiled sweetly at Mulder before turning to Scully and smiling tightly, obviously forced.
"Diana", Mulder exclaimed, surprised.
Scully looked between Mulder and the tall dark haired woman in front of her. Diana. Scully quickly joined the pieces together, realising that she had finally come face to face with Diana Fowley.
Diana nodded to Scully, realising quickly that she must be the woman Mulder had spoken so highly of the night before. The woman that had helped make his life better without her, Diana, being a part of it.
The dark haired woman turned to face Mulder once again, her smile just a touch to sweet to be genuine. "it's so nice to run into you, Fox", she said, emphasising Mulder's first name. She had been listening to the conversation between Mulder and Scully before and decided to immediately use the one advantage that she still may have. She can use Mulder's first name.
Scully rolled her eyes internally at the other woman's pettiness. Playing that card was just ridiculous, making it seem as though calling Mulder by his first name somehow made their interaction more personal and intimate.
Diana smiled once again, patting Mulder gently on the arm. "I enjoyed reconnecting last night", Diana said deviously, her voice dripping with suggestions.
Mulder shrugged sheepishly, scratching the back of his own neck. He looked between the two women, seeing Diana's triumphant expression while Scully seemed to be starting to stew. He tried to send Scully an apologetic look but she just glared.
Diana smiled, pleased at how she had stirred things up a little and decided to take her suggestions further. "I know our reunion brought you great pleasure, Fox", she said emphasising the final word with a smirk.
Diana glanced back at Scully again. "I see that you two are busy though". She stated brightly, knowing her plan had worked. "Goodbye, Fox". She patted his shoulder once again and with a final sneer in Scully's direction, Diana had brushed past them, vanishing in a curtain of dark hair.
Scully looked up at Mulder, eyes narrowed. "Was that seriously what you had to tell me? That you slept with Diana Fowley last night?". She shook her head, angrily, turning her back on Mulder and heading for the gates out of the park.
Mulder followed her closely behind, grabbing her by the hand and turning her to face him. "Are you jealous, Scully?".
In her anger Scully looked past his eyes that were filled with desperation, only hearing his teasing words. She had thought that finally surrendering to each other had meant as much to Mulder as it had to her but after all, there was no real proof either way. Nothing tangible or scientific to explain the mysteries of what she felt when Fox Mulder was in question. "Mulder, I need to be somewhere".
Scully wanted to fix them, to fix their friendship, their partnership, their companionship , their love. She just wasn't sure if it was fixable. She pulled away from him again, turning to leave and walking down the street to catch a cab.
Mulder followed closely behind as she raised her hand to the closest cab coming by in their direction. "Scully", he said desperately. "You know that Diana was bluffing. I wouldn't do that, not to you. I love you".
She turned to face him, her anger beginning to subside. She knew Diana was only bluffing to create a wedge between them but Mulder had already created quite a large wedge the day before. He had said he didn't love her. Scully wasn't sure that she could enter a more emotional relationship with Mulder if he feeling and expression didn't seem to match up, ever changing. "Mulder how can we further what we have it you keep changing your mind. You tell me that I am the only one you trust and then you don't trust me when I can see that something is bothering you. You have been acting bizarre!".
Mulder sighed, trying to gather his words. He could feel the future looming ahead of them, to be honest the uncertainty scared him. Was he actually sick or would it prove to be simply a false alarm. Mulder knew it such a thing came to pass he would never put Scully through the pain of losing him prematurely. "Scully-", he started, trailing off.
Scully smiled sadly, standing on tiptoes toes, brushing Mulder's cheek with the back of her hand. "You need to figure out how you feel, Mulder. I can't help you there". She fixed him with an intense gaze, a burning weight settling in her chest.
Mulder stood back slightly, nodding in understanding. He knew how he felt he always had. He felt the same was as he had for the last two and half years since they first met in his basement classroom. Mulder knew that he would do anything in the world for her because she was his world, his everything. He surged forward, his hands immediately on her cheek, in her hair, wherever he could reach without either of them taking it too far in the middle of the street.
Scully sighed sadly into his mouth when she felt a certain wetness on Mulder's face that she recognised straight away as tears, they mingled with her own that had sprung ripe from her eyes. Their tears washed over their joined lips making the kiss taste of water and salt and missed moments and unspoken promises that may remain as such. The kiss was numbing and healing and it made the earth beneath them feel as though it was shattering.
Mulder pulled back gently, disengaging their mouths. He didn't want to but his desires made him feel selfish in light of things. He wanted to tell Scully everything, the words right on the tip of his tongue. Just as Mulder was about to speak he hesitated.
Scully sighed solemnly, opening the door of the cab. Apparently the driver had pulled up mid-kiss and the meters was already ascending. Their parting words fell from her lips, spooning between the both her and Mulder.
"I'll see you later, Mulder"
When the pain cuts you deep and the night keeps you from sleeping
Just look and you will see that I will be your remedy. When life seems so cruel
And your heart makes you feel like a fool just look and you will see that I will be your remedy
Scully entered her living room several hours later and tossing her coat on the couch seated herself on the couch. She felt a heavy weight on her chest and even though she had walked away from Mulder she still worried about him, still loved him and some part of her knew with certainty that he felt the same.
Scully walked over to her pale wooden desk next to the window and setting aside the potted plant next to the computer, Scully transferred the few boxes that she had brought with her home from Woodrow Wilson for the summer holidays.
Deciding that she needed something to keep her mind off of things, Scully flipped open the lid of the box to decide which worksheets and essays could be shredded now that the year was over. She had barely opened the box flipping through the first few various sheets when she realised that none of the stuff was hers. The psychology paper. The diagram of human brains. The worksheets on human behaviour. The various printouts and cut outs from The Lone Gunmen's paper and blog. Not to mention the slightly battered copy of Douglas Adam's 'Hitchhikers Guide to The Galaxy' and slightly crude doodles of UFOs. The contents of the cardboard box clearly belonged to Mulder.
Realising that her belonging and Mulder's must have gotten mixed up at some point, Scully made a move to pack the stuff away but something caught her eye right. A manila envelope with her name on it, written in handwriting that was clearly Mulder's.
Scully examined the envelope's exterior, debating internally whether or not to open it. On one hand it may be an invasion of Mulder's privacy, on the other hand the envelope had her name on it. It was as much to do with her as it was to do with him.
Impulsively, Scully ripped open the top, taking out the lined page on the inside. It seemed to be addressed to her and was entirely written in Mulder's writing.
(Damn, it sounds weird to call you that, even in a letter that I'm nearly damn sure I won't have the nerve to give you).
Being the spooky insomniac most people assume that I am (and they're probably right) I sitting here in my apartment wide awake at 4.30 in the morning reading the latest conspiracy theories (that I'm sure you will hear about tomorrow) on my computer.
Scully chuckled at this, endeared by her best friend's ridiculousness. Yes, that was definitely her Mulder.
But aside from all of these things. I need you to know something and I hope to any God that will listen to a man who believes in aliens that I will, at some point, tell you this in person.
Even though we have spent as much time as we have together over the last six months, when I'm not with you I miss having you around. The day we first met you in intrigued me more than anyone I have met before and everyday you continue to surprise me as I get to know you better.
Scully smiled softly, a single tear strolling down her face. This letter was written a year and a half ago . She wondered briefly if things would had turned out differently if one of them had made a slightly bolder move sooner.
I don't want to loose your friendship and I fear that a confession from me would do that. Sometimes I catch your eye when you think that I am not looking and see things in your electric blue eyes that I want to believe are true. I want to believe that you feel the same way as I do but the risk of loosing your friendship and trust would be a price too high to pay for my complete honesty.
I can see it now though, here in the dark in the dead of night when every sane person in the building is already asleep.
I love you, Dana Katherine Scully
Scully chuckled, wiping the stray tear that had sprung from her eyes away with her sleeve. Her chest swelled with love for Mulder, the man who loved her as long as she loved him and just like her, spent the last two years denying it when they were both aching for more.
Scully knew that there was something that Mulder wasn't telling her. She could see it in the glistening pools of his hazel eyes. She could only hope that whatever it was, Mulder would at some point find it in himself to tell her about it. Despite how she usually felt about sharing personal things, Scully felt a great need to tell someone at least some of what transpired between her and Mulder over the last few days from their final get together, to their conversations since ten and now this letter.
She reached over the armrest on the edge of the pale leather couch, picking up the phone that stood on the lamp table. She dialled her mother's home number. The number that used to be her home number before she went away to college. Scully tucked Mulder's letter into her pocket and listened to the dial tone for a few minutes before her mother picked up.
"Hey, Mom. It's Dana...".
On my way now
Don't give up on me
And no one knows what
What tomorrow brings
These weary eyes will never rest
Until they look in yours again
I'm on my way now
I still believe
~ Eric Arjes, Find My Way Back To You.
On the other side of town Mulder too was looking down at a white envelope. One look at it and he knew exactly what it was but for some reason he couldn't bring himself to open it. Mulder couldn't bring himself to open it without her. Scully deserved to know.