Rating: R for language.
Disclaimer: Alas, unfortunately *sniff* not mine. Property of Chris Carter and 1013.
I rolled over in bed, reaching for the phone on the first ring. It was 1:00 a.m. Saturday morning. Only one person dared call me this early.
"Mulder?" I asked hopefully into the phone. I hadn't been sleeping, I was too frustrated to sleep.
"Frohike?" I asked, recognizing the voice. "Do you know what time it is?"
"Yes," he apologized. "It's Mulder."
I sat straight up in bed, fearing the worse. Things had exploded in mass proportions in the last week. Cassandra Spender, the Syndicate's destruction, the disappearance of Cigarette Smoking Man and Diana Fowley.
Diana Fowley. I was trying very hard to forget that name.
Mulder and I got the X-files back. And from that moment on, something in our relationship shifted as well. We spend over three months living a secret life. One as more that just friends or partners. But these recent events caused Mulder to withdraw from me. I chose to give him his space, maybe to give myself some space too. We had so much to think about.
"What's going on, Frohike?" I demanded, rubbing my tired eyes.
"He was in bad shape, but I'm getting him sobered up," Frohike replied. He whispered low into the phone. I could hear loud music in the background. "The person he really needs to be spilling his guts to is you."
Frohike knew about us, and in some weird way it made certain things easier. I didn't have to lie about it or make excuses.
I sighed deeply. I looked over at the left side of the bed. Mulder's side.
"Where is he, Frohike?"
The Trainwreck Bar
"Scull-llee!" Mulder announced, banging his fist on the counter. "Bartender! Get my partner a shot of Jimmie Walker Red."
"No, thank you," I said firmly.
"This is last call, we close at 2:00 a.m.," said the bartender. "If you're the designated driver, take your friend home."
Mulder's eyes were glazed, but I knew he was coherent. "Did that sonofabitch Frohike call you? I really can't trust anyone."
"Let's go Mulder," I said, pulling him by the arm. He shook me off harshly.
"Back off, Scully," he said.
"Mulder," I replied sharply. "It's closing time, and they don't want you around."
"What about you? Do you want me around?" he said, moving his arms back and forth.
"I wouldn't be here picking up your sorry ass if I didn't," I answered. My jaw was tightening as I tried to hold back my growing anger. I did not want him to make a scene.
"Just go," he said, waving me off. "Leave my sorry ass."
I looked at the bartender as he wiped the counter clean. I couldn't leave him here. I didn't want to deal with this. I tried to muster up my resolve.
"Mulder," I said authoritatively. I stared him straight in the eye, trying to penetrate the alcohol and haze. "I don't give a damn what you want right now, but I am taking you home."
His eyes narrowed at me, trying to focus. "Why are you here?"
"I just am."
I tugged his arm again, this time he slid off the barstool and onto his feet. He could walk on his own, but I kept my hand on his arm to steady him.
Mulder waved at the few customers the bar had, in exaggerated gestures. "She's taking me home."
There was a couple cat calls at me as I made for the door. I was relieved to be outside, to breath in the clean air. I already smelled like cigarettes from the short time inside. He shook me off his arm.
"I don't need you to hold my hand, Scully."
"Well, you need something. Or I wouldn't be getting a one-in-the-fucking-morning phone call," I replied sharply. My car had automatic locks and I opened the doors remotely. "Let's just go."
He looked at the car with narrowed eyes and started to back away. "I don't feel so good."
Mulder walked to the front of the car and leaned over, bracing his hand against the hood. He threw up in violent heaves. Although I knew Mulder drank periodically, I doubted his system was prepared for the amount of hard liquor he obviously consumed tonight.
I opened the trunk and pulled out a small towel from my emergency kit. He was hunched over the ground, clutching his stomach.
"Oh God," he groaned. "Wasn't prepared for that."
"It was probably the movement to the car or the cold air," I said, handing him the towel. I let him finish emptying out his stomach. I walked back around the car. I had a fleeting thought of a much younger Mulder, doing something equally as stupid and being sick with some young teenage girl standing by.
He wiped his mouth and inhaled the air sharply, trying to calm the nausea. He stood on his feet and leaned back against the car. "Jagermeister doesn't taste nearly as good the second time around."
"I don't think it tastes good the first time," I climbed inside the car and started the engine, warming my hands on the vents. Mulder waited about ten minutes before sliding into the passenger's side, leaning back against the seat.
"Drive," he said quietly, as if I had the power to get him away from his own thoughts. "Just drive."
I made some coffee, for myself and for Mulder, to sober up if he'd drink it. I sat in the kitchen, stirring quietly and staring at the cup. Mulder was in the bath.
I knew things were going to change, that we weren't going to work for Kersh forever. That it was eventually going to end, either by resignation or by transferring. I wasn't betting on getting the X-files back this way, at the cost of Jeffrey Spender's life. Everything came with a price.
Suddenly, things were the way they were before. As if the last several months never happened. We reported to Skinner, we were back in the basement, back on the X-files. Would we go back to being just partners? Could we go back?
I sighed deeply. I know I couldn't.
Life was so damn complicated. I couldn't live with Mulder, I couldn't live without him. I hated him. I loved him. He had become that inexplicable thing that completed me. No matter how hard it was at times.
I stood up and walked slowly to the bathroom. I rested my head against the door and knocked softly.
I heard the water move.
"Can I come in?"
There was a long pause. "Yeah."
I opened the door, it creaked as I entered. He was laying back in my tub with his eyes closed, the light were dimmed. I shut the toilet seat, sitting down on its fuzzy cover.
"I always forget how fucking lousy a hangover feels," Mulder said. He seemed more sober and alert.
"Until the next time," I said, watching him. I took a deep breath. "Are you going to tell me what all this about?"
It was so quiet in the bathroom, I could hear the faucet dripping and it seemed loud.
He opened his eyes slowly and looked at me sadly. "It never ends."
I rubbed my hands over my face, pressing my fingertips into my eyes. "I know, Mulder."
"I should have listened to you, about Diana," he confessed.
"Why didn't you?" I asked accusingly. I really wanted to know why.
He sighed deeply. "Diana and I weren't just partners, Scully. We were...."
"I know what you were."
Mulder sat up, leaning out of the bath. "You do?"
"I asked Frohike. I had to know, Mulder and you wouldn't tell me. I suspected as much, he just confirmed it," I looked down and away from him. "I do want to know one thing. It's over, isn't it?"
He reached across, sloshing water everywhere to grab my arm, forcing me to look at him. "Of course it is, Scully. I'm with you now."
"I'm sorry, but I found it a little troubling how you refused to believe me when I uncovered those discrepancies in Diana's record," I said, bitterness creeping in my tone. I had had days to think about it. "You wouldn't even listen to me. She's not been truthful with you."
"Her disappearance confirms it, Scully," he said, banging his head against the tile as he settled back in the tub. "She's not who I thought she was. Or who I wanted her to be."
I studied him carefully, I had so many questions about Diana, about his past, who he was before that day I stepped into the basement and into his life. But I wasn't going to get those answers tonight.
"What's been going on this week, Mulder? I mean, you've been distancing yourself," I asked. "If it's not Diana, then what is it?"
He stared at the water, watching the ripples circle out from him. "It's knowing what my father did, making that deal to save us, save Samantha. All those people who died, thinking they were the chosen ones. How they were all deceived. How we were deceived. If someone has listened to us, let us explain..."
"Explain what? Did we really know what were dealing with?" I asked in quiet resignation. "How could we understand when we were only seeing pieces of a puzzle? We figured it out too late. And it came at a high price."
"Too high, Scully. Over twenty years for me, not understanding what my father was involved with. Or what happened to Samantha. For us, six years of questions without answers. You contracted cancer and almost died from this experiment. And now, it's just fucking over and we're supposed to walk away and wait for the colonization."
I stood up and stared down at him, my temper rising. "I'm not walking away, Mulder. There are still questions I'm going to find the answers to. Whether or not colonization is going to happen, doesn't really matter to me. What does is my work, continuing our work. I will not have the last six years be in vain, Mulder. And I'll do that with you, or without you."
"Scully," he said, his voice dry and cracked. "After all that's happened?"
"Because of all that's happened," I corrected. "When I told you this was personal, I meant that."
Mulder looked up at me, his eyes were rimmed red and shined in the low light. He shook his head from side to side. "I can't to do this without you. You are all I have left."
His words echoed in the enclosed space of the bathroom. Truth was, he was all I had left.
"Then don't shut me out," I said, my hand on the doorknob. "You owe me more that that."
Moonlight streamed in from the open window. I watched the clouds shift in front of the moon, making patterns in the trees. I sat in an old armchair, just watching. It would be morning soon, but I was wide awake. I was becoming nocturnal like Mulder. I suspected soon I'd be sleeping on the couch.
I heard him moving behind me, and then he was standing in my line of vision, blocking the moon. He kept some clothes at my apartment, and had changed into a pair of sweat pants and a t-shirt. An uneasy silence passed between us. I tried to see past him, see through him. But I couldn't.
"Scully," said Mulder, kneeling in front of me. He looked so tired and worn. I reached out and traced the laugh lines around his mouth. It was ironic he had them, we never had much time to laugh.
"I am so sorry I hurt you," Mulder said as my fingers brushed against his lips. "I owe you more than some lame apology."
"What now, Mulder?" I asked, folding my hands in my lap. "Do things go back to the way they were?"
"Do you want them to?" he asked, eyes searching mine.
"No, I don't."
Mulder released the breath he was holding. "Neither do I."
I turned my face up, looking out the window and avoiding Mulder's gaze. "I still think we should be careful. We are still going against policy and regulations. With being reassigned, they'll be watching us more closely than ever."
"I know," Mulder said. His hands reached for mine, holding them tightly. He was struggling for something to say. Something to justify the past and give us hope for the future. He started to speak and stopped several times. Our eyes searched the other's, communicating without words. A thin smile spread across his lips and mine as well.
"I love you," Mulder said softly.
Those words again. Those three words. They would give us the strength to pick up the pieces and start over.