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When Mulder Met Scully

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i. then

His phone rings at eleven o’clock on Friday night, as he’s lying on his couch, something completely forgettable playing on the television.

“Hello?”

“Mulder, it’s me.” He smiles. He knew it would be her- she calls most nights, since she’s been back, and if she doesn’t, he calls her- but it hasn’t gotten old, hearing her voice on the other end of the line. Not when he’d spend months worrying he might never hear it again.

“Can’t sleep, Scully?”

“Actually, I haven’t even tried yet,” she says. “It’s just too quiet in my apartment. Every little noise is creeping me out.”

“You can come over here, if you want,” he suggests, and immediately, he’s kicking himself. They don’t really have that kind of relationship, much as he’d like for them to. They hang out in each other’s motel rooms when they're in the field, but they don’t spend time together at one another’s apartments when they’re home. They have keys to each other’s apartments, it’s true, but that’s meant to be for emergencies.

Though, for the first week after she came home from the hospital, it had been difficult for Mulder to keep himself from driving over there and letting himself in while she slept. Just to check on her. Just to be sure she was okay.

“That’s okay, Mulder,” Scully says, in a tone that, surprisingly, doesn’t indicate that she’s found his suggestion odd. “I’m not tired enough to sleep... but I’m definitely too tired to go anywhere, if that makes sense.” He hears her shifting around, and he pictures her settling back onto her blue-and-white striped couch- or maybe stretching out on her bed. He wonders which it is. “What are you doing?”

“Watching TV,” he says. “Or not watching it, more accurately. Just zoning out, really.”

“Oooh, I keep forgetting I have cable again now,” says Scully, and he hears her shuffling things around on her coffee table (couch, then; he has his answer). “I just got it hooked back up at the beginning of the week.” Scully’s mother had cancelled all of her daughter’s utilities after she’d been missing a month. She’d gotten everything turned back on before Scully had come home from the hospital, but she’d forgotten about the cable. “Anything good on tonight?”

“No idea,” he says truthfully. He hears the sound of her flipping through channels.

“Oh look, ‘When Harry Met Sally’ is on,” she says, after a moment. “Just started, too.” Mulder scoffs.

“A chick flick? Please.”

“I’m not forcing you to watch, Mulder,” she says. “You’re welcome to watch whatever bad sci-fi you’ve got playing at your place.” He realizes, suddenly, that he really and truly has no idea what he’s been watching. He’d stopped paying what little attention he’d been giving it the moment she’d called.

“What channel?” he asks finally, reaching for the remote. She tells him, and soon, he’s hearing the movie through the phone in his left ear and from his own set in his right. They watch in a companionable near-silence, laughing together at all the same parts. He can practically hear her blushing through the phone during the fake orgasm scene, and it makes him smile.

“What do you think, Mulder?” she asks him, as the credits begin to roll. It’s nearly one in the morning now, and her voice is sleepy, slurring sweetly.

“About what?”

“Is it true? Can men and women never really be just friends, because of the sex thing?”

“I dunno, Scully,” he says quietly. “I don’t have too many close friends these days. I’m drawing from a pretty limited sample size.” He switches off the TV, and in the silence, he can hear her slow, even breathing. “What do you think?” She’s quiet for so long, he thinks she might have fallen asleep.

We’re friends,” she says, finally, her voice soft. He smiles.

“Yeah, we are,” he agrees.

“Best friends, I think.” His heart clenches in his chest. When he thinks about it, he doesn’t think he’s ever had a best friend before.

“I think so, too.” He thinks about Harry telling Sally how she’s the last person he wants to talk to before he goes to sleep every night. It’s the same with him and Scully- he's a poor sleeper to begin with, but he’s a full-on insomniac if he doesn’t hear Scully’s voice before he closes his eyes. Part of him knows this says something important, but he’s not sure he’s ready to examine that just yet. For now, he’s just relieved beyond measure to have her back.

He realizes she’s been silent for more than a minute. “Scully?” he says. In answer, there’s a soft, snuffling snore. He smiles. “Sweet dreams, Scully,” he whispers.

He hangs up the phone, closes his eyes, and sleeps the whole night through.

 

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ii. now

His phone rings at eleven o’clock on Friday night, as he’s in his office, mindlessly surfing the same websites over and over, reading and re-reading the same information without really absorbing it. Glancing at his phone screen to see who’s calling is unnecessary; there’s really only one person it could be. He feels an irrational stab of irritation at modern technology for robbing him of three of his favorite words in the world, and so, predictably, he rebels by answering as though he has no idea it’s her.

“Hello?”

“Mulder, it’s me.” He grins.

“Hey, Scully, what are you doing up? This is a little late for you, these days.” At least, he thinks it is. Back when this was her house full-time, and not just on the occasional weekend, she’d generally be in bed reading by ten-thirty, and out cold by eleven... but for all he knows, that may have changed. At any rate, she’s usually in bed fairly early when they’re out in the field together (if she’s not spontaneously sharing his motel room), and while it’s true she’s up pretty late when she stays at the house with him, it’s typically because he’s keeping her awake.

“I had some coffee when I got home, so I’d be awake enough to finish writing my report tonight, while my impressions were still fresh... but now....”

“You’re a little too awake?” She sighs.

“Uh-huh.”

“Do you....” He licks his lips and braces for rejection before he’s even asked the question. “Do you want to come out here?” There’s a brief silence.

“I do, but... it’s kind of a long drive at this hour, Mulder. It would be just my luck for my coffee to wear off halfway there.” He relaxes. She’s not saying no because she doesn’t want to; she’s saying no because it’s impractical right now.

“Want to watch a movie?” he asks.

“I don’t have cable,” she says. He can’t help smiling to himself. She’s been in that apartment for almost a year, but it’s still undecorated, still impersonal, and, apparently, still without full amenities.
“You’ve got your laptop, right?” he asks. “And an internet connection? Let’s watch something on Netflix.”

“I keep forgetting that’s even an option.” He hears her moving around her apartment, presumably in search of her computer. He takes his own laptop from his desk and walks out to the living room, setting it on the coffee table. He navigates to the site and begins scrolling through the various options.

“Hey, how about-”

“Mulder, if you suggest ‘Plan Nine from Outer Space,’ I’m hanging up,” Scully warns, and he laughs. “Besides, I can already see you watched it recently.” Ah yes, the joy of a shared account. “Oh, hey! This wasn’t available on here the last time I wanted to watch something!”

“What is it?”

“’When Harry Met Sally.’” Mulder grins. He thinks about putting up a fight, but he knows he’ll lose, and anyway, his objections wouldn’t really be that sincere. They both queue up the movie, count to three, and hit play.

The feeling of nostalgia is incredibly strong for Mulder as the film plays. If he closes his eyes, he could almost be back at Hegal Place, Scully at her apartment in Georgetown, back when the only real baggage either of them carried was his sister’s disappearance and Scully’s abduction. They still laugh at all the same parts... but this time, he knows full well that the fake orgasm scene is nowhere near risqué enough to make her blush. It does, however, spark a question in his mind.
“Scully, have you ever-”

“No, Mulder, not with you,” she says, anticipating him, as always. He relaxes, relieved.

“Really?”

“Never needed to,” she says casually.

“But you have... before me?” She sighs.

“Yes, Mulder, I’ve faked orgasms before.”

“With who?”

Mulder.”

“Sorry, sorry.”

The film plays on. This time, Mulder can’t watch the New Year’s scene without thinking of December thirty-first, 1999... the moment when Harry’s famous line finally made sense to him.

“When you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible.”

“Scully,” he says abruptly, “how about I come over there?”

“Now, Mulder? It’s after midnight.”

“Yeah, I know,” he says, “but you know me. I’ve got hours left before I’ll get sleepy.” It’s quiet while she considers it.

“The movie’s not over yet,” she points out.

“Pause it,” he says. “We’ll watch the ending together.”

“What, all five minutes of it?” She laughs. “Okay, Mulder. But I’m not promising I’ll be awake when you get here.”

So he grabs a change of clothes, hops in his truck, and drives to DC. He lets himself in with the key she’s given him (for emergencies, of course), and finds her curled up in bed, her laptop next to her. He’s about to wake her so they can finish the movie... but looking at her, lying there so peacefully, he can’t quite bring himself to do it. They can finish the movie in the morning, he decides. He closes the laptop, places it on the nightstand, and climbs into bed next to her. She snuggles up to him without ever really waking up.

“Sweet dreams, Scully,” he whispers. He presses his face into her hair, closes his eyes, and sleeps the whole night through.