After being a big-time jerk to Scully, Mulder must make amends.
Original Author Notes
Didn't intend to go into either mythology-fic or Diana-fic and ended up touching on both. However, I needed to have Mulder make good to Scully after his atrocious behavior to her in One Son, so the rest of it had to be dealt with also. (By the way, I chose to ignore the fact that Scully apparently sacrificed her car in that ep; what's up with that?) Important background info: "my" Mulder and Scully have already acknowledged the existence of a relationship beyond their working partnership. Therefore, some of the conversation indicates more intimacy between our two than is apparent on TV, although I hesitate to go so far as to call this a romance (maybe we need something stronger than UST but less than R, sorta like PFR for Promise of Future Romance/Relationship!). My previous fanfic contribution, Crossing Lines, established this situation but it is not needed to understand this story.
This was "inspired" by the big revelation of Season Six. While I wasn't too impressed overall with the events of Two Fathers/One Son, I was even less impressed by the personal schism that occurred between M&S. In a space of about three days, I completed Reparation and then decided that with two stories sitting around, I would take some advice and post them.
This is a post-ep story, taking place immediately upon the conclusion of One Son, which makes it sometime in February 1999.
ATXC Original Posting: March 1999
* * * * *
Dana Scully Residence
"Scully...Scully!" Mulder fumbled with his set of keys, trying to find the one that would lock her apartment door, seeing as how she had no apparent interest in doing so. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw his partner dash down the hall and around the corner in the quick seconds that it took him to finish his task. Damn, those little legs could move when they were determined. She was out the front door and marching down the front walk of her building by the time he caught sight of her again. "Scully!"
Not five minutes ago, he had called her from his cell phone, as he stood at the entrance to her building. The line was picked up and then quickly disconnected. When he called back, he got the standard message that "the cellular customer you are trying to reach is unavailable right now". Yes, Scully had call display and knew it was him. The only logical conclusion he could draw was that she didn't want to talk to him. Not that that would ever stop Fox Mulder. He had learned that one from Dana Scully herself.
Scully knew that her barely five-foot-two frame could not outrun her six-foot tall partner for long. It wasn't even her intention to try. She came to an abrupt halt and turned to face him, forcing him to stop suddenly and come within inches of knocking her down.
"Why'd you hang up on me?"
She ignored his question and looked at him somewhat defiantly. "Mulder, go home. I don't want to deal with this now."
"'Deal with?' What's to deal with? For months now we've been meeting every Friday night to talk. Now when we really need to talk, you're running away? Isn't that supposed to be my move?"
"Might you be taking this a little too personally?" She couldn't hold back her words; that was precisely the reason she didn't want them to talk tonight. She was in terrible danger of saying and doing all the wrong things and history showed that when that happened, he tended to do the same, in spades. They didn't need that, not so early in their new "understanding".
Mulder's eyes narrowed at her. "That was an unfortunate choice of words."
"Oh, really - " She misunderstood. Oh, God, here was angry Scully, much worse than runaway Scully.
"- When I first used them," Mulder interrupted before the woman he loved could completely blow her top at him. He put his hands on her shoulders and held her firmly in place. He could practically feel the heat of her anger coming off her in waves, although it was gradually subsiding. They must have looked like a strange pair to passersby, standing as they were along the sidewalk in an intense face to face confrontation. She, in her "power walking" exercise wear, sneakers, and a gray hooded fleece pullover; he, still dressed in his suit from work.
"Scully, of course everything between you and me is personal. I was a total ass to say that to you. I'm sorry I said it and I'm really sorry I said it in front of the guys."
"Why did you say it in the first place?"
Well, that was a good question. A damn good question.
* * * * *
24 Hours Earlier
Scully and Mulder walked out of Kersh's office in silence after being dismissed. They continued without words until they reached their own office, such as it was. The impersonal open area workplace was empty of other agents, as it was now well past six in the evening.
"So, what do you think, Scully?" Mulder ventured, noting that his partner had said little to him in the past twenty-four hours and was growing increasingly reticent. She hadn't so much as met his eyes in conversation during the afternoon's extended meeting with Skinner and Kersh.
"Was that just a week from Hell or have I finally turned the corner into madness?" Her voice was tight and simmering with barely controlled emotion. Still, there was no direct look from her as she reached into the lower drawer of her desk, searching for something.
Mulder looked at the general area of the top of her head for a long moment and then offered uncertainly, "I... don't know what to say to that."
"Really? Don't you have all the answers, Mulder?" There, finally a direct look. To Mulder, it felt like a slap in the face, but at least her eyes were finally connecting with his. Right this moment, however, they were glaring icy blue eyes: exactly the sort that must have inspired the "Ice Queen" moniker in her academy days.
"Whoa, wait a minute here, Scully, what's with the attitude?"
"I don't know...maybe it has something to do with the fact that every time we meet up with another clue to this government group conspiracy to hybridize humans with aliens, you - " She stopped, as if hearing it for the first time and unable to reconcile how utterly ridiculous it sounded. "Well, let's just say that it brings back some unpleasant memories - memories that I technically don't even have, Mulder - and I wonder why we keep chasing after these carrots that they dangle in our faces. I mean, it's ludicrous! I can accept that some of this evidence is scientifically sound, but if we're to believe these stories, there's something like a half a dozen other-worldly types running around right under our noses trying to sabotage our species!"
Skeptic Scully was back in business, Mulder noted, which was perfectly in keeping with her mode of operation. Whenever she became alarmed or stressed out, it usually manifested itself in that way. But there was also some other emotion beneath her current ranting and he wanted her to be honest with herself about what it really was.
"Moreover, every time this happens, you see fit to take off on a wild goose chase and come back with some cryptic piece of information that's vague at best...while at the same time you manage to invalidate whatever evidence, intuition, or feeling that I may have!"
"I don't do that," Mulder replied quietly. He didn't need to be hit over the head with it; yes, he had been an absolute jerk to her since the CDC incident at his apartment. Still, her overall condemnation of him was inaccurate and she knew it.
"No, not always," she conceded, sighing as she sat down heavily.
Mulder sat down also and pulled his chair close to the front of her desk. "I searched Diana's apartment."
"Why? Did you think she'd be careless enough to leave something to be found? If she is part of this plot and if she has even half the brains that you attribute to her, well.... Look, Mulder, I don't want you to misunderstand. I know where your loyalties lie; I don't question that at all. This is not some juvenile competition between Agent Fowley and me. I just have a bad feeling about her and it kills me that you don't trust my judgement on that." She held up her hand to Mulder's attempt to reply. "Whatever you're going to say, just remember that some things can't be unsaid."
With that, silence overcame the room. Mulder studied Scully's desk blotter intently. She stared at him, willing him to look at her. When that failed, she grabbed her briefcase and got up.
"Since we're 'unsuspended', I assume it's business as usual until the powers that be come to some sort of decision regarding our possible reassignment. I don't suppose it'll happen overnight, so I still have those off-site interview sessions tomorrow. I'm going to go straight there in the morning, so...well, I guess I'll see you Monday."
She gathered up her coat and quickly left, not wanting to know if he even got up to try to stop her. Which he didn't.
* * * * *
Fox Mulder jerked upright, awakened by the sound of a vacuum cleaner being started in the hallway. He had fallen asleep at his desk. He forgot for a moment why he was still at the office, but the fact was, he was in no hurry to check into a motel room either. His apartment was still off-limits and would be for the remainder of the weekend. Last he checked, he was told that it wasn't likely to be as dramatic as what they originally thought. He wasn't in danger of losing all of his belongings after all. But the inconvenience was the pits. Even more the pits was the unexpected turnaround of events. He had supposed that under the circumstances, Scully would have offered her spare bedroom to him, but that was probably as likely as an icestorm in Hawaii right about now.
God, why didn't he just apologize to her? [Well, because she said that some things just couldn't be unsaid, that's why; that was an apology-stopper if I've ever heard one.] Yes, but he definitely made things worse by staying silent. Damn that male ego. He groaned loudly and got up from his chair, stretching his aching muscles. All this because of Diana Fowley. From the moment Diana was recognizable under her enviro suit, he could feel Scully's blood pressure rise. She continued on a steady boil all the way to Fort Marlene's and then into that infamous decontamination shower. What an experience that was...not. He stood for a moment and thought back to yesterday.
"What do you mean, we're going in there together?" It was Dana Scully at her flabbergasted best.
"Sorry, but the facility is built this way and we can't have one of you wait for an hour while the other goes in. There are two entrances from the locker area; they'll take you to two separate sides."
Mulder had been the first to go in, being able to shed his clothing and inhibitions much more easily than Scully. She was barely talking by that time, taking up a position at the other end of the locker room, just off the other entrance to the showers. For both their sakes, Mulder had disrobed quickly to allow her some privacy. But he almost laughed when he reached the shower area and saw how "separate" the two sides were. Yeah, Scully was going to love this.
He heard her come in on the opposite side, but throughout the whole process, they neither spoke to nor looked at one another. It was only when the water shut down that he had stepped forward and turned around, allowing himself to sweep a meandering glance over her. She saw him look at her and seemed resigned to it.
Things had gone steadily downhill from that point forward. What he wouldn't give to relive the past two days again. Perhaps then he could make an active choice not to be the dog that he had obviously ended up being to her. It definitely wasn't intentional. These incidents affected him in much the same way as they affected Scully. He had his own memories to deal with whenever the conspiracy reared its ugly head. Since his supposed meeting with Samantha last year - about which he had only told Scully this week - he had more or less stopped focusing on the issue of her abduction, believing that she was presently living a normal life. While it hurt that she obviously wanted nothing to do with him, he believed her to be safe, at least, in some sense. Now, apparently, the latest and greatest news was that it hadn't been Samantha after all. Scully was right, what was the point in chasing after these ever-changing truths? It was like running around in a house of magic mirrors. Did he really believe that Armageddon was imminent for the planet the other night at the hangar? Why did it matter? If everything were true, wouldn't he and his loved ones be better off dead?
He slipped quietly out of the office and took the elevator down to the parkade. His car was the only one on that level, not a surprise considering it was after eleven. As he slipped behind the wheel, he was suddenly overcome by the weariness brought on by the past several days. He really hadn't slept much in the last forty-eight hours...maybe a night at the motel wouldn't be that bad after all. A real bed; that was a bonus. He would have preferred it to be Scully's bed - at least her spare one - but there was no chance of that any time soon unless he took steps to fix things. He knew that with the new agreement they had regarding their relationship, she wouldn't be taking it upon herself to fix this one. It would be strictly left up to him.
He started the car and headed off towards the nearest motel.
* * * * *
Dana Scully Residence
Dana Scully tossed and turned in her bed, eyes wide open despite her body screaming desperately for rest. Her mind was racing far too fast to consider sleeping. She absolutely hated the feeling; it was reducing her to a teenager and she was never one to wax poetic about her teenage years. She was reliving the most nightmarish aspects of high school: the waiting-for-phone-call/churning-in-the-stomach utter power that someone else had over her. Actually her partnership with Mulder had always raised a certain memory in her mind. In her first two years of high school - which were amazingly spent at one place - she had a close friendship with a male classmate. They were never romantically involved, although they did go out on a few occasions. It was a situation where one or the either may have felt something more but neither party really wanted to jeopardize things by changing them. To this day, however, Scully could remember the pain she felt whenever he actually had a "real" date with someone else. Was she feeling the same thing here with Mulder, about a several-years-over relationship with Diana Fowley?
She turned over onto her side and stared out the window into the semi-darkness. But was it really over? [Maybe that's really what you're afraid of, Dana. That it's not over, that he still has feelings for her and might respond to her somewhat obvious interest.] It had been several months since they talked into the wee hours of a Wednesday morning, clearing the air about how they felt and where they were headed. While it hadn't solved or resolved everything, it had been an uplifting event for the both of them. Things still hadn't been easy, especially after losing the X-Files in the way that they did and having to deal with the subsequent work that had been assigned to them, but she had found some strength in knowing that they were now about so much more than just the X-Files, or just work. They had managed to achieve a new level of comfort that was a refreshing break from the ill wind of the past year.
Diana. Agent Fowley. Diana. Did he always call her Diana? Was there never a moment in their lives when they were just Mulder and Fowley? To her absolute disgust, Scully felt her eyes well up with hot tears that couldn't be held back. She wasn't going to give even her internal teenage psyche the satisfaction, however; no sobbing allowed here; she just let the tears run silently down onto her pillow. It was bad enough she felt the strange urge to retch every time she heard her call him "Fox" in that way that she had. But this wasn't about names, because Scully knew that Mulder had actually called many agents that he worked with by their first names. Reggie, Jerry; good God, he had even referred to "Alex" in conversation back when they were separated. They had never discussed it, but Scully knew that they each felt something intensely personal about using their respective first names. Personal, there was that word again.
She sat up and reached for a tissue, blowing her nose loudly. Last thing she needed was to be puffy and red-eyed in the morning from both crying and lack of sleep. The scientist in her tried to remind her that she was being extremely silly. Here she was getting upset over something trivial and inconsequential. After all, she had real evidence to support whatever bad feelings she had about Agent Fowley...she was not to be reduced to some object of puerile rivalry.
Damn Mulder anyway. He was the real reason why any of this was coursing through her brain at the speed of light at two in the morning. From his attempts to shut her up when they were being "debriefed" by that Fowley woman, to his feigned gasp upon hearing her evidence, to his accusation of making things personal...God, was it possible both to hate him and love him so much all at once?
Scully flopped back onto the pillow, throwing her arms out across the expanse of the bed. [I shouldn't have left him like that. Now it's going to be difficult. And tomorrow's Friday, and I made a point of implying that I didn't want to meet with him as usual.] She groaned and flipped onto her stomach, forcing her eyes closed and commanding sleep to come over her.
* * * * *
Fox Mulder stared alternately at his phone and at the list in front of him. More background checks. Of course, he was now behind, considering how he had taken some time off, first of his own accord and then with the brief suspension. Why couldn't Kersh have kept them suspended until they officially decided on the X-Files reassignment?
He rearranged the piles of papers on his desk absently, picking up the receipt from last night's motel. He'd have to submit that for expenses...he hadn't had many expenses to submit in a while now, given their homebound work. He thought back to last night and how he had hesitated when the guy at the front desk asked how many nights he needed the room for; "one" was his final answer. How he was going to fix things so that he wouldn't need any more motel nights was another challenge altogether, but he had all day to think on that one.
He turned around to look over at Scully's spotless desk. True to her word, she hadn't come in to the office. The off-site work was only three blocks away, however, and he could easily meet her there for lunch. No, lunch wasn't going to solve anything. They still had their normal Friday night date; or rather, Mulder figured - despite her words - they still had their normal Friday night date.
He jumped in response to his ringing phone.
"Agent Mulder, is Agent Scully there with you?" A.D. Skinner.
"No sir, she's already gone on her assignment. What is it?"
"Oh, I forgot. That's going to take up the rest of her day, isn't it?"
"I believe so."
"Just wanted to let you know that there's going to be an official hearing this afternoon regarding your reassignment to the X-Files. It's probably unlikely that either of you will be required to attend, but if needed, I guess you're going to have to represent both of your interests. I'll get in touch with Agent Scully to see if that's all right with her."
"Is this just a formality, sir?"
"It looks that way. Quite likely by Monday morning you'll be moving back into your old office."
"What about Agent Spender and Agent Fowley?"
"Actually, we've been unable to reach either one of them... I'll be in touch if needed, Agent Mulder."
[Unable to reach them... what a surprise. Spender's probably off somewhere puking up his guts over his lineage.]
Mulder released the call, downed a swig of coffee and picked up his list. Guess it was time to earn his keep.
* * * * *
FBI Headquarters Parking Garage
Scully pulled into her usual parking spot and turned off the engine. From here she could see Mulder's vehicle so he was obviously still in the building. He hadn't called her all day and she hadn't called him. They were fully into their respective male/female roles this time. She reached up and pressed her fingertips against her temples, trying to erase the increasing pain she was feeling in her head. Mulder couldn't be blamed for that, unfortunately; it had just been a bitch of a day and with each interview, she had become more and more ornery. She just wasn't in the proper frame of mind to deal with anyone today.
After hearing from Skinner that morning, she had thought it would be a good idea to come back to the office on the pretense of finding out if there was any news regarding the X-Files reassignment. But here she sat, unable to move from the car. The events of the day had drained the last bit of energy out of her. What had seemed like a good idea in the morning was now impossible to carry out. She just didn't have the strength to take on Fox Mulder right now. Not without possibly losing control and creating even more issues between the two of them.
She should just go home, change into something comfortable, and go for a long walk.
* * * * *
Dana Scully Residence
"Why did you say it in the first place?"
She looked and sounded tired, like she had barely slept. [Look what you're constantly doing to her.] At least she no longer looked like a powder keg about to go off.
"Look, Scully, we need to talk - and not out here. If you don't want to go back inside, let's go down the street to a coffee shop or something." He tried not to sound too much like he was pleading, but this wasn't going to go on for so much as another hour.
"I have a screaming headache, Mulder, I can't take any more coffee."
"Then let's go inside." He released her and moved his hand down to her arm. "Please."
She turned and walked slowly back up the walk. When they arrived at her apartment door, they both turned and looked expectantly at one another.
"What?" Mulder asked, puzzled.
Somewhat sheepishly, Scully replied, "I have no keys."
"In a hurry to leave, were you?" He smiled at her, fishing his keys out of his pocket and retrieving the required one. Before he unlocked the door, however, he peered closely at her face, wanting to smooth her hair back and feel her cheek against his hand. Instead, he asked, as sensitively as he could manage, "Bad day?"
"Matches the rest of the week."
"I'm sorry; it probably didn't help that we left things up in the air like that yesterday."
The way he was staring at her was, well, dangerous. [Reason number two we shouldn't do this now.] She looked away and nudged his arm. "Open the door, Mulder."
He did as he was told and then stepped aside to allow her to pass through. He closed the door behind him and leaned against it. Scully got as far as the front of her couch before turning around. Her face was a mask of confusion and frustration, but it was perfectly readable to Mulder. He had to admit, he was getting better at identifying her emotional undercurrents, the stuff she tried to keep under that outer layer of professional detachment.
He approached her slowly, maintaining eye contact the entire time, and hesitated for only a moment before he gathered her up into his arms. He hugged her tightly, feeling extremely gratified when she returned it with the same intensity rather than raising her knee at him. Equal parts of guilt and fear swirled through his brain as he opened his mouth to speak. "This isn't to mean that everything's okay or that we don't need to talk, Scully," he whispered to the top of her head, "Just that I love you and don't want to see you hurting, especially not because of me. There's already been too much of that over too many years. Don't let me keep doing this to you."
She was crying silently into his jacket. He had known it would happen before it even started. He had also known, from observing her face outside the door, that one of the reasons why she didn't want to see him tonight was that she had been afraid of exactly this. Still. After all they had been through and all the talking that had gone on over the past several months, this expression of - did she think of it as weakness? - was something that Dana Scully still preferred to keep to herself. It was one of those old habits that Mulder knew would be difficult to break; hell, he had a fair share of those himself. He could only try to make it easier for her, as he tried to do just now. Get it out of the way before the talking started; that had been his plan. As he held her, feeling the slight tremors that emanated from her small form, he congratulated himself for finally doing something right in the past forty-eight hours.
Several minutes later, she shifted in his arms. Turning her head up and laying her cheek against him, she mumbled, "Sorry."
"No, the only one who gets to apologize tonight is me. That's the rule."
"I shouldn't have walked away yesterday; that was bad. Power tripping."
"Well, you sure don't need to do that, Scully. You know who holds all the power in this relationship, don't you?"
"Why doesn't that make me feel any better, Mulder?" She allowed herself a small smile as she looked up at him.
"'Cause I'm a bastard. A jerk. An insensitive fool - "
"You don't have to embarrass yourself any further; you're all of the above. But do you know why?" She extricated herself from his embrace and sat down on the couch. He removed his jacket and joined her at the opposite end.
"Yeah, I know why. But I also need you to know why." He was suddenly serious. Just as suddenly, Scully noticed how tired and drawn he seemed to be. [We've both been through the grinder again. Only this time we were stupid enough to be at odds with each other too.] "I treated you badly at The Lone Gunman, and again, I'm sorry. It's just that I get crazy whenever this same old shit hits the fan." He shook his head from side to side, running his hand through his hair in exasperation. "I really don't know what to make of that bit about Samantha last year not being real. She certainly seemed real. I've based every action I've taken over the past year on the certainty that it was her. I've left her alone as she wanted, even though with each passing week, it hurt that she didn't want me in her life. What an ending to my supposed life-long quest.... And now it's like I'm no closer to finding her. I don't know what to feel, except that - more and more - I'm certain that I will find her."
"I think you will too." Scully thought back to their meeting with Cassandra at the hospital, remembering the poorly hidden agonized expression that flickered over her partner's face when Cassandra brought up the subject of Mulder's sister. No matter what other complications had entered into this conspiracy over the past several years, Scully could never forget that Samantha was still at the heart and soul of Mulder's search for the truth.
"Diana makes me crazy too, but not in the way that you may think. There's history there, but you and I, we also have history. A lot more, in fact, than I ever had with Diana."
"I was never your lover," Scully murmured, her eyes looking off somewhere towards the fireplace.
"What makes you think Diana and I were lovers?"
Scully brought her gaze back and rolled her eyes at him. He returned a slight smile.
"What can I say, Scully, there are - unfortunately - a few of those in my past, just as there are in yours. What I'd like you to understand however, is that Diana is no more significant to me than any of my other ex-lovers."
"Then why the slack? It's like you don't have any concerns about her motives, nothing....You've never given anyone else that same benefit of the doubt."
"Scully, she's always been a good agent. Maybe I didn't say it right, or maybe the moment was already totally out of whack or something, but when I told you that I 'know' her, I meant in an FBI sense. But you're right...it's been awhile. And I had no right to insinuate that you were proceeding on invalid grounds, or that you were wasting my time. Looking back, it seems like I was the one who was making it personal." Mulder looked away from her and focused on some far away spot on the wall. His expression betrayed a certain sadness when he continued, "I've thought about this all day, and maybe it's total self-delusion, but my belief in Diana stemmed from the fact that I find it hard to believe that everyone that I've ever cared about or who's ever cared about me - present company excepted, of course - ultimately has a part in this hidden agenda against me. How's that for a little bit of hopeful optimism from paranoia boy?"
He leaned his head back and dug the heels of his hands into his eyes, feeling ambushed by the sudden tears that burned there. They sat in silence for several moments before he turned back to her. "I'm just playing Diana's game, Scully. If she's working with them because they think I'll trust her, well, then she becomes the best way to access further information. I have to use that for as long as I can."
"What convinced you?" Scully asked quietly.
"I should have been convinced by your evidence but stubborn bastard that I am.... I was convinced by Poppa Spender's impromptu visit to her place when I was conducting my search. He said he was looking for poor Jeffrey, but I'm pretty sure young Spender and Diana don't socialize in that way, if you know what I mean."
They looked at each other for a long moment, each wondering what the other was really thinking; each yearning for the ability to read minds like Gibson Praise - for just this one time - to make it easier to share some of the feelings that were simply impossible to verbalize.
"What is it?" Mulder asked softly, reaching a hand across to tap her knee.
"I don't want to beat this to death, but - for my curiosity, okay?"
"Whatever; ask me." He sat back, arms out and palms up in an offering to her.
"When I called you, you said you were with Diana. What did you do, wait for her outside her apartment?"
"I waited for her inside her apartment."
Scully raised her eyebrows in response.
"I let her know I had to be sure I could trust her. I even told her I ran into Old Smokey, since I figured he'd probably mention it to her at some point."
They exchanged another meaningful look between them; Mulder was sure he sensed some Scully radar with this one.
"She kissed me." It seemed the appropriate thing to say, under the circumstances. It didn't matter to him one way or the other, but he didn't want this to get back to Scully in some unfavorable way at some future date.
"Hopefully that's not important."
"I'm sorry I accused you of that personal crap. After all, I should count my blessings that you take any personal interest in me."
"Yeah, but you weren't really wrong.... I guess she makes me crazy too."
"Still, it didn't need to be said. Whatever your motives, I should know by now that you have my best interests at heart. God, Scully, why didn't you just slap some sense into me? Would have given the boys an even better show."
"Like that wasn't already a totally shameful display..." Scully seemed genuinely embarrassed now that she thought back to their words and actions.
"They're smart lads," Mulder added, grinning.
"What did they say to you, Mulder?" Scully asked, with the barest hint of a teasing lilt in her voice.
"Oh I got a firm verbal lashing. Langly asked if there was something going on between us that they should know about. Byers was just uncomfortable. I think Frohike said something about taking care of you himself if I wasn't up to the task."
"God." How horrifying. "What did you say?"
"What do you think I said? I was in full confrontational mode, you saw me. I told him to 'f' off."
"Oh, that'll convince 'em nothing's going on."
"Yeah," Mulder chuckled as he recalled the scene. "Remind me to call them; I should apologize. But, hey, we do trust them, right?"
She smiled, shaking her head at the same time. Then she jumped up suddenly, as if remembering something important.
"Mulder - your apartment. They haven't cleaned it up for you already have they?"
"Where were you last night?"
"At one of my special motels. I was waiting for your invite to come here but it didn't materialize." He was obviously making fun, but Scully seemed a little flustered at having forgotten that he had been without a home. "Hey, I'm kidding. It's me, I could have slept in the car and been fine with it."
"Do you have clothes?"
"I keep a bag packed in my car, remember?"
"We've been off the X-Files for months and you still do that?"
He shrugged. "Maybe it was an omen."
"So what's the status on your place?"
"Sunday afternoon, from what I understand. If my neighbors don't circulate a petition to get me out once and for all."
"And what will you do until then?"
"That depends on you, Scully. I have a bag outside, I'm housebroken, and I promise to behave." He looked at her playfully, awaiting her response.
Now there was a face that could implore Scully to set fire to herself. Talk about dangerous. Were they up for a weekend together like this? On the other hand, could they afford not to, considering what they had just been through?
"Go get your bag, Mulder. I'm going to change and then maybe we can go out to eat."
Mulder grinned and headed for the door. Just as he stepped out into the hall, he also seemed to remember something suddenly and called back to her, "Oh hey, Scully - at all interested in what's happening with them X-Files?"
She poked her head back into the living room. "Do you have news from the hearing this afternoon?"
"Skinner called me. Seems it was a short hearing. He actually backed us up this time, Scully. We're back in business as of next week."
She approached him slowly, a small smile on her face. She hadn't anticipated the overwhelming emotion that she would feel upon hearing those words. But she should have realized by now that the assignment meant just as much to her as it did to Mulder. She opened her arms to him and caught him in a hug much like he had done to her earlier. He was the one to break the embrace this time. Holding onto her upper arms, he bent down and kissed her. Intentionally, it wasn't anything long or passionate, nothing more than just a brief touching of lips. Certainly much less than what he had attempted all those long months ago in his apartment hallway.
"What was that?" Scully said when they parted.
"That? That was a kiss."
"I know that, Mulder."
"Then why'd you ask? I can do better, but I think that's all we're allowed for now."
"Who did you say has the power in this relationship?"
"Special Agent Dana Scully, ma'am."
"Then shouldn't I be the one to say what we are and aren't allowed?"
"Just checking. Go get your bag, Mulder; you know where the guest room is." With that, she turned and headed down the hall to her bedroom. Mulder heard the door close before he made his exit. It promised to be an interesting weekend.
* END *
Updated Author Notes (2008-2010)
Out of M&S, I definitely identify with Mulder’s character, but I was appalled by his actions over the course of One Son. It was only a matter of days after seeing that episode that I wrote REPARATION, my second entry into the world of TXF fanfic, at a time when my first story had not yet been officially released anywhere. It seemed naturally obvious in writing REPARATION to set it within the confines of the world that I had already created in CL. And since both efforts were ultimately met with generous rounds of reader approval, there was no stopping me for the stories that would unfold within the “CL universe” over the next couple of years.
It’s a rewarding feeling to know that your writing has had an effect on someone. I remain grateful for the many expressions of kindness and appreciation that I have received over the years about my fanfic, but I also recall one feedback of “non-appreciation” regarding this particular story. Recall my opening sentence above about identifying with Mulder’s character? As TXF wore on, I become more and more of a die-hard Mulderist, but someone really laid into me about bashing Mulder’s character in REPARATION. However, since the email wasn’t along the lines of “the words you picked and the plot you created really sucked” (that is to say, I wasn’t criticized for the construction of the story), it really wasn’t demoralizing. While the feedbacker in question was probably a bit extremist and fanatical – not to mention personal in his/her attacks, taking the time to point out that I was “mindless” à la my email address – he/she obviously found something compelling in my work to have reacted so strongly. It’s all good.
Anyway, when I reread the story for the purposes of making these comments, I still came out agreeing with Mulder’s need to apologize. It also prompted me to take out one of those unwatched DVDs and revisit the actual episode. What can I say? It was a confusing and frustrating episode that makes even less sense nine years later… mythology, piss-ology.