Bits of Now and Then
By Christine Leigh
Summary: Post-Trust No 1. Scully POV alternating with flashback scenes to past episodes.
Spoilers: Irresistible, Die Hand die verletzt, Home.
Scully is not going out today. It had rained all night and it doesn't look like it will cease anytime soon. She hadn't had any particular plans, but would probably have run some of the errands she used to be able to do on her way home from work that had, since the advent of William, been relegated to Saturday or Sunday. She is fortunate to have a grocery store in her neighborhood that delivers, and she has already made an order that will arrive later this afternoon. The rest can wait.
In between tending and playing with her infant son, she hopes to finish the book she had started two weeks ago. A burning log in the fireplace and some music on the CD player complete her plan. She needs to feel something besides cold, wet, and depressed. Tomorrow she will have to face her students and colleagues, and her facade, so meticulously constructed over the past months, and so harshly ripped apart two nights ago, must be rebuilt. She needs Mulder and at the same time needs to stop thinking that she might never see him again. These had been the twin worries running through her mind as she'd e-mailed him the night before last. She had awakened in a cold sweat early the next morning, the thought that she had actually typed the words 'forever yours,' filling her with fear. All she could think of was that it is very bad luck to be so blatant about what she wants. It was one hell of a point in her life for the Irish superstition that she'd managed to avoid so far to kick in.
Her three-hour log is giving off good flames by the time the coffee finishes dripping, and she pours a cup, stirring in some French vanilla-flavored creamer. This is an indulgence she had never allowed herself in the past but that has now become a habit. She seems to need flavor wherever she can get it these days. William shouldn't be up for another hour, so she locates her book and settles on the couch. It has been several years since she'd reread an old favorite, and the lovely hardback copy of "The Pursuit of Love," holds a special significance. It had been a gift from Mulder. He'd always teased her about her romantic taste in reading, and whenever the opportunity presented itself, he would peruse her bookshelves, taking a book down and reading a page or two. Then, looking bemused, he would replace the book back on the shelf -- always exactly where it had been. He'd repeat this routine usually two or three times. Scully had thought it was just to gather more fodder for his teasing, so when he'd presented her with this book on her birthday two years ago, she'd been truly surprised. Now, for the millionth time, she reads the inscription.
She rubs her fingers gently over his handwriting. Then she finds her chapter and settles in for a good, long read.
"Do you want to listen to some music?" William has no opinion. He and Scully have been playing for the last half hour, which consists of him grabbing her finger and then her holding him while walking around the living room, all the while carrying on a one-sided conversation.
"Look at the rain William. Do you see all that water coming down from the sky? I've seen a lot of rain in my life, but today it seems like it isn't going to stop, ever. I don't think we'll be taking our walk."
Scully moves to the CD player and trades Tchaikovsky for a disc of Chopin piano sonatas. She looks at the so-called entertainment center of her living room. Along with the television, the VCR and the CD player is a box full of LPs and 45s that Mulder had brought from his apartment. Scully finds it hard not to smile at this dusty old collection. She almost wishes she had a turntable. To think that she has a copy of "The Night Chicago Died," but no way to listen to it in all its scratchy glory.
"Your father can be so goofy sometimes William. He could make me feel good under some very strange circumstances. Which was most of our time together. Once, instead of water coming down from the sky we had toads bouncing off our umbrellas. That's right. They just rained down on us. Your father said they'd forgotten their parachutes. I didn't let him know it then, but that made me laugh. Later that night when I was alone in my room I laughed out loud just remembering what he'd said."
William gurgles at this. Scully sighs. She wishes she'd laughed when Mulder had made his toad joke, instead of waiting until she was alone. She'd been so wary of letting him see her enjoy his humor, of letting him into her heart just a little, even as a friend. She vows to herself that when they are together again, she will never hold back her laughter. She puts William back into his bassinet and goes to get her journal from the bedroom. She has a few thoughts she wants to get down while they are fresh. She returns and then sits down at the kitchen table and starts writing:
She closes the journal and goes over to the window in the living room. The rain has lessened some. William is asleep. She prays that Mulder is warm and dry wherever he is. She closes her eyes for a moment and imagines a day in the future. It is a sunny day. Perhaps they will be having a picnic. There is a very pretty park two blocks away from her building where she takes William for a walk most weekends, weather permitting. Last Saturday there had been a couple there with a little girl, who appeared to be about three. They were all bundled up and sitting at a picnic table enjoying their lunch. Scully wants so to do that one day with Mulder and William. Her reverie is interrupted by the ringing of the doorbell. She goes to look through the peephole and sees Mike with her groceries. It is good to have a regular delivery person, which means one less I.D. to check. She opens the door.
"Mike, hi. Thanks so much for coming out in this weather. You can set it on the floor next to the table." He entered and set the box of goods down. Usually it is an oblong box; this one is a tall, deep box. She'd have fun digging the stuff out. "It's not too bad now, and I only had three other orders besides yours today." He hands Scully the bill.
"Glad to hear that. I haven't been out at all today, so I really do appreciate the service." She hands him his payment plus a generous tip.
"Thanks, Dana. You and the little one stay dry. Bye." .
Scully starts to unload the box. It is mostly stuff that she needs to get through the work week -- yogurt, fruit, bagels, more of her French vanilla creamer, plus dry goods. Mike had packed the box rather snugly. She pulls out a roll of paper towels, and sees an umbrella jammed into the box. Oh dear, she thinks, he must have stuck his umbrella in the box and forgotten it when the rain started to let up. She takes it out. Then she sits down, breathing deeply for a minute or two. She looks at it again. She'd know this umbrella anywhere; she has stood under it, next to its owner, more times than she can recount.
This is Mulder's umbrella.
Scully awakens, disoriented and sore. It takes seconds for her to remember. Pfaster. Donnie Pfaster had tried to strangle her, but Mulder and Agent Bocks had arrived just in time. God, it had been like a bad TV drama. She rubs her wrists. Mulder had checked on her repeatedly during the night; she knew that. He'd stayed until she'd fallen asleep, and then had returned to his room. But she heard the connecting door open at least three times during the night. She gets up and heads for the shower. She could have used an hour under the water, but they have to be to the airport by 9:00, so she makes quick work of it and is toweled off with her makeup on and hair dried in half an hour. When Mulder knocks on the door she is ready.
"Come in." He enters and smiles at seeing her dressed and ready to go, and looking somewhat better than she had last night.
"Morning, Scully. How're you doing?"
"Better. Mulder, thank you for staying here until I was asleep."
"You're welcome. Did you sleep all right?"
"Yes." And the thing is, that she had. She'd felt safe knowing he was there. She'd never questioned his ability to cover her in the field, but last night had been different. Last night he'd offered her comfort, and she'd accepted it. She can still feel his arms around her. The memory of their strength had warmed her through the night and now into the day.
"It's raining pretty hard. We should probably get going now to allow for the traffic."
"I'm ready." She just needs her umbrella. She looks around. Where is it?
"Mulder, was my umbrella recovered from the rental car?"
"Your suitcase and briefcase. That was it. We can share mine. It's big enough."
She smiles at him. "Thanks."
They trudge to the car, suitcases and briefcases in hand, and manage to stay relatively dry. It is a quiet ride to the airport, but the silence is a peaceful one. Then Scully thinks of something.
"Mulder, I'm sorry about the football game. That would have been fun."
"There'll be another event sometime."
She looks out the window. She hopes this is true.
Scully has been sitting and holding the handle of the umbrella for almost half an hour. It is a solid wood handle, well worn through many years of use. She pictures Mulder's beautiful, long fingers wrapped around it. She looks at it as though it were the eighth wonder of the world. How on earth had he managed to do this? She stands up finally, and sets it on the table. As she resumes unpacking, she notices a small slip of paper in the bottom of the box. It looks like a store receipt that had been left behind. She turns the box upside down and the paper flutters to the floor. There is handwriting on the back of it. Feeling strangely calm, she picks it up and reads what it says:
She stares at it. And then she raises it to her lips and kisses it, gently, so as not to leave too much of an imprint. She then goes to the living room and places it in her book to mark the page where she'd stopped reading earlier. For the first time in two days she feels as though she can go forward, if only by inches. She's carried him in her heart for so many years. He hadn't always been there physically by her side, and they'd survived. Now isn't all that different. She will try to hang onto that, and to the way she is feeling right now.
"So, tell me Scully, how does a kid come to consider watching 'Babe' fifteen times a day as fun? I mean, once or twice I can understand, but doesn't he get bored after that?" They have been driving for just over an hour and have been quiet except for a few perfunctory exchanges about the horrific case they'd just wrapped. Mulder has decided it is time to try and bring a little normality, such as it is for them, back to the scene.
"Mulder, I was bored after one viewing, and even with a movie I loved as a kid, I never could have watched it on an endless loop, but it's different today. They don't just watch a movie for entertainment, except possibly the first time, and then only if they get to see it in an actual movie theatre -- they watch it to memorize every line, so they can recite them back and forth with their friends. It's the thing to do."
"I think I'm glad I was a kid before video came along."
"But you're pretty pleased with it as an adult, I've gathered."
"Yeah, but twice is my limit per viewing, per sitting."
"And you'll be sure to impart that philosophy to your children."
"Excuse me, did I miss something?" They exchange smiles and are quiet again for a few minutes. Then Scully speaks.
"Mulder, I can see you as a parent, and I think you'd make a terrific father should that ever happen for you."
He doesn't take his eyes off the road. It has been a monotonous drive so far, down a long road with nothing much to offer in the way of a view. His mind wanders back again to the all day pick-up games, only this time he sees a little boy with red hair. Funny, he thinks, how your mind can make leaps like that. It is an improbable vision, he knows, and one that will disappear soon enough, but for the moment it makes the road before him tolerable. He turns his head a degree to look at Scully.
~ End ~
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This story is (c) Copyright 2002 by Christine Leigh. "The X-Files" and its characters are the property of the Fox Network and Ten-Thirteen Productions and are borrowed here without profit or intent for profit. The Pursuit of Love by Nancy Mitford was first published in 1945.