The Moment That Mattered
By Christine Leigh
Summary: Love actually does mean sometimes having to say you're sorry, or more importantly, wanting to. Follows the events of Two Fathers/One Son during season six.
Category: S, MSR
Spoilers: Two Fathers/One Son.
They had it back.
Surveying their office, Mulder should have been more content than he had been for the past several months, but that wasn't the case. Instead, he was sad. Nothing new there; he'd been sad since he was twelve years old. Sad and Mulder were synonymous. But this was different; maybe, he thought, I've finally hit a wall.
Things were wrong between him and Scully, and it was his fault. Until two weeks ago they had been on their way to where they should have been last summer, before the events in his hallway had escalated into a near-disaster. Those weren't of his doing; sadly, the same couldn't be said of the present. Mulder would give anything to be able to take back the utterance of that one remark, "Scully, you're making this personal." He had said that to her. Really. He ticked off the list - abduction, stolen ova, cancer, Melissa's and Emily's deaths, infection with the alien virus. Nothing personal about that list. Unless...Oh, that's right - those things all happened to Scully.
The phone rang. He picked it up.
"Mulder, it's me. I have a stop to make on my way in. Are you able to spare me another hour?"No, he thought. I'll never be able to spare you. Never. He felt weary, as he answered her.
"No, nothing yet. How are you doing?"
"Fine."Of course. But, he thought, she did sound almost "normal," whatever the hell that was, compared to how she had been last week.
"Well then, I'll see you when you get here. Bye."
Almost normal. As in before Diana had intervened and he had followed unquestioningly. He now acknowledged that Diana wasn't to be trusted, but so much had altered subsequently since that scene at the Gunmen's that her loyalty (or lack of) had moved down considerably in the pecking order of his world. He had been numb after the holocaust at El Rico. Not the numb like after the office burning, when all he could do was lay on the couch in a state of semi-awareness, but more zombie-like. He kept on moving. The evening of the terrible incident he had gone home, watched TV all night, gotten up the next morning and had the meeting that led to the restoration of the X-Files to him and Scully. The day after that Jeffrey Spender was declared officially as missing. Mulder kept on moving. He hadn't talked to, or seen Diana since parting with her in that day in her building, after having not pulled away from her kiss. What the hell was wrong with him? He'd behaved like an alcoholic who fell promptly off the wagon when he encountered her again after all these years.
He looked around. The office that had burned had been a little larger; fitting another full-size desk into this one was going to be tough. Even one year ago Mulder would still have considered the desk issue significant. It wasn't though. Not then, not ever. It was odd, though, considering the events that followed Scully's question about the desk, that that particular memory from that terrible year was the one that brought on his guilt with gale force. He had hurt Scully, in a way that had shamed him at the time. And now, he'd managed to top that.
Scully was resolute. She'd worked her way through mad, disgusted and fed up. Two weeks ago she had come closer than she had ever before been to inflicting physical harm on another person for the sheer pleasure of it. The moment passed, but even now, it was scary to remember how out of control she had felt at the time.
Jealousy alone hadn't prompted her reaction, although she admitted to herself that it had started with that. Until that day at the Gunmen's, Scully had thought that Diana posed no threat to whatever it was that she and Mulder had been slowly moving toward. The events of last summer had changed whatever residual effect that the woman had on Mulder, she had thought. She remembered Mulder's arms and the warmth of his breath so close. For one moment she had been exquisitely happy; for one moment they were perfect. She knew it was juvenile, but she replayed that scene infinitely every night before she dropped off to sleep. Despite Diana's interference and everything else that had occurred since, this was the moment that mattered.
Things had been strained between her and Mulder ever since that day at the Gunmen's. Then after that they had both been preoccupied with assimilating the fallout from El Rico, and then getting the X-Files back, but it was there. She felt guilty about letting so much time go by without saying anything to him, but the moment never seemed right. The fact was, she had been hurt by his remark. But she also realized that he had been under an incredible amount of emotional strain, even for Mulder.
She'd had enough time though, to consider the implications of the recent events. And even if her mind didn't fully accept it yet, there was evidence enough to make her believe that there was imminent, tangible danger of unknown proportions on their horizon. And she didn't intend to let any more time pass without declaring her personal war on the situation and its orchestrators. If any good had come of the whole thing, it was the surety that now ruled both her heart and mind. It drove and sustained her. It brought her to today, when everything would change. It was time to let him know.
Mulder was stalled. Bored with filling out supply requisitions, he'd been reading one of the files that Spender had left behind. He could only surmise how many files had been destroyed. That some weren't was a mystery; but then these files were rather recent. And it would seem that Spender had left in a hurry. The little bastard obviously hadn't had time to get rid of these newer ones.
Okay, he thought, it's been an hour-and-a-half. Where is she? He just needed to see her. And hear her. Her voice was like a tonic for him. It made whatever was before him more bearable. It connected him, however tenuously, to reality. Losing Scully and losing his mind were the twin fears that governed Mulder. Leaning forward he put his head in his hands and sighed out loud. He couldn't keep doing any of this without her.
What he wanted most was to find a way back to last summer. He wanted to finish what had begun in his hallway. It had been perfect for that moment. Why, he thought, have I let so much time go by? The feeble attempt that led to their haunted Christmas Eve outing was just that. He had come close to saying something after they'd opened their gifts, but then he let her go. And sitting there waiting to see her in the hospital in New York, he'd thought that it was finally all over for him. He hadn't killed Ritter, but he would have if her wound had been fatal. Then after he'd shot himself it would all be over, without one word ever having passed between them in this life about what mattered above everything else. Mulder got up and put the file away. He'd wallowed enough. He would walk his requisitions up to Supply, and she would be there when he returned. And he would find a way to tell her. It was time to stop letting her go.
St. Mary's Cemetery
It had been several months since Scully had been to visit Melissa's grave, and St. Mary's wasn't exactly on her way to work, but Mulder would be fine on his own for an hour or so. He'd sounded downright solicitous on the phone. Poor Mulder, she thought. I should have talked to you before today, but I just didn't have the words.
It was a cool, almost-spring morning. She placed the daffodils she'd brought on her sister's grave. They'd both always loved them, going back to childhood. After saying a silent prayer, she stood and looked out over the hills. She had awakened that morning in an "afterdream," feeling as though she had been talking with Melissa, but she couldn't remember any of their conversation. And she had felt calmer than she had for quite some time.
Melissa, she thought, I've reached a decision. It's time to tell him. I've known for so long, but still haven't been able to move beyond last summer. Oh, I know, you're probably smiling and thinking, last summer? I know, but until then, despite everything, I'd been afraid to believe that he had those feelings. And then I started to doubt. And not just him; I doubted myself. I started to believe that it was my over-tired, over-everything existence that tricked me into seeing what I saw, if just for a second. I mean, what if he did say it all just to keep me soldiering on? One more member of the women-who- can't-do-without-Mulder brigade reporting for duty. Which brings me to Diana. Melissa, it scares me to feel about another human being the way I do toward her. I've never truly hated anyone before. And Mulder's seeming addiction to her was (is?) the biggest mystery. I accept their past connection, but can't fathom the hold she still has over him. It's like a sickness, the way he runs whenever she calls.
And, Melissa, I'm worried about him. El Rico took its toll on him, and I feel ashamed of the way I've been treating him since then, even if it is in part justified. No, I take that back. I can't justify treating him badly. Not now. Melissa, I love him, so. I wish you were here to tell me that this is all going to work out.
Scully turned and started the walk back to her car. It was during a time like this that she missed Melissa the most. It wasn't as though they'd talked every day, or even every year at one point, but Melissa was the only female she had ever been able to openly discuss matters of the heart with. Melissa had known about Mulder; Scully was certain of that.
It was time to go and make things right.
The phone was ringing when Scully entered the office. No one was there, so she picked it up.
"Agent Scully, hello. This is Diana Fowley. May I please speak with Agent Mulder?"
"He's not in at the moment. May I give him a message?"
"Do you expect him soon?"
"I would presume."
"I'll call back then. Thank you." Click.
Scully walked over to the file cabinets along the west wall of the office. Above them, there was actually a small window. She wished she could climb up there and open it to let some air in. Even that woman's voice over the phone made it seem as though the room suddenly smelled bad.
Mulder came through the door. He saw her and smiled.
"Scully, hi. Is everything all right? I was starting to think you'd decided to take the day off. I'd have had to drink both of these." He set down a tray holding a plain coffee and a non-fat latte on the desk.
"My errand took a little longer than I thought it would. Thanks, Mulder. I could use this right about now." She took the latte from the tray and sipped gratefully, delicately licking the foam from her upper lip. One of the many small pleasures in Mulder's "Scully Gallery" as he had come to think of it, was watching her drinking a latte.
They were quiet for a few minutes, just leaning against the desk and drinking. It was better though, he thought, because she was here. He glanced at her and smiled again. She seemed to be off in a different world, momentarily. There's nothing like this, he thought. Nothing that could improve on this; the two of us, that is, doing what we do, day in and day out, together. This is what's right, this is what I want. And her. I want her.
Scully was half daydreaming, and half watching Mulder peripherally. Looking at Mulder peripherally was one of her small pleasures. Whatever his situation, he always looked good. But, she thought, he looks different today. Still good, but there was something else. Rejuvenated, maybe? He seemed to have left the auto-pilot Mulder who had still been here last week, behind.
Mulder set his cup down. He suddenly felt nervous, but started to speak anyway. "Scully, there's something I'd like to talk with you about, if you have the time."
"Of course." He looked at her with an expression in his eyes that made her heart skip a beat or two. Calm down, Dana, she thought. It could be anything. Maybe Supply won't be able to replace the slide projector.
He paused, and then gently took her cup from her, setting it next to his on the desk. Then he took both her hands in his. Okay, she thought, it's not about the projector.
"I'm sorry about what I said to you that day at the Gunmen's. I know better than anyone just how personal this all has been for you, and there isn't any excuse for my having said what I said. Whenever I think of Melissa or Emily, whenever I see a pregnant woman, or whenever I wake up from one more nightmare where you're gone, it's all I can do to muster the nerve to face you the next time we see each other. And the only thing worse than any of those things, would be to ever find out that you've decided that you don't want to see me ever again. If that happened, I wouldn't want to go on. I meant every word I said that day in my hallway last summer."
Through his entire disclosure, Scully had been looking down at his hands, clasped around hers. His beautiful hands, whose touch had the ability to thrill her and heal her. He had meant it. For a moment, that seemed to be all that registered. He'd meant what he had said that day. She wasn't some little fool who'd followed a man just because he'd said what she wanted to hear. She looked up at him, and her tears spilled. He took her in his arms and held her tight. They just stood there, neither one speaking.
He was still holding her. Her tears had dried, and it was just like the cliche - time had stood still, or so it seemed. Scully looked up at the little window, and noticed the change in the angle of the sunlight. How long have we been standing here, she wondered?
"Mulder." Her voice was full and low.
"It's a two-way street. I'm so sorry about the way I've been treating you the last few weeks."
"I deserved it."
"No, you didn't." She reluctantly pulled back from his chest, so that she could see him. Gently, she placed a hand on either side of his face.
"Mulder, there's something I want you to know and understand. It's very important to me." She paused. "It's about the reasons you mentioned earlier for this quest being personal for me. It is, of course, but the reason above and beyond everything, even Melissa and Emily, is you. It's personal for me because it's personal for you." She took a few seconds to breathe.
"Mulder, I love you."
Then he took her in his arms and slowly lowered his lips to hers. He would never forget this first, sweet taste that he'd anticipated for what seemed like forever. He kissed her gently, and then they both kissed as though they might never again. When they finally broke from it, they just stood there, arms still entwined, grinning and gazing at each other.
"I love you Scully, so much. You don't know how I regret that I didn't say that to you that day last summer."
She placed her hand on his lips.
"No regrets, please."
The phone was rang. It rang six times, and then stopped. It didn't occur to either of them to answer it. Mulder wondered if there would ever be any work done here, again, ever.
"Scully, I didn't think that I was going to warm to this office."
"I like it."
"I like it too, Mulder, but I'm ready to go home."
He leaned down to kiss her again and phone chimed in once more, going ten rings before it stopped this time.
"If we leave now, we'll beat the heavy traffic. Mulder, please, take me home."
"Let's get out of here, then."
The phone rang a third time, as they were walking out the door.
"Mulder, are you sure you don't want to answer that?"
~ End ~
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This story is (c) Copyright 2000 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.