Title: Hearts and Flowers
Author: Polly - firstname.lastname@example.org
Classification: MSR, Holidayfic (Valentine's Day)
Spoilers: Season 7, Millennium, Hungry. Takes place between Signs & Wonders and SeinUnd Zeit
Disclaimer: Mulder and Scully belong to DD, GA, CC, and 1013 productions; I'm just borrowing them
Archive: If you want it, it's yours
Feedback: Always welcome and appreciated
Notes: Thanks to Kim for the quick beta and thanks to Christine Leigh for the motivation (see notes at the end)
Summary: Must be fate
* * *  * * * *
Hearts and Flowers
Her pencil tapped out a rhythm on the yellow legal pad as she tried to focus on the autopsy report, but her mind and her eyes drifted. She checked her watch, the clock on the wall, the display in the corner of her computer screen - all surprisingly in agreement. Then a glance at Mulder; shirtsleeves rolled up, chair pushed back, feet on the desk, snacking on sunflower seeds, nose stuck in a reference book. He'd barely moved for the past 45 minutes except to turn pages and spit in the trashcan.
She doodled a Scully original at the top of the pad and continued tapping. They shouldn't let today pass without a mention of its significance, she told herself, but she hadn't broached the subject and neither had Mulder. She'd bought him a card - not too sappy yet not completely devoid of sentiment - but it still rested in her coat pocket. She'd started to give it to him at least a dozen times, but it was never the 'perfect moment,' and now her window of opportunity had passed.
It was barely six weeks since they'd shared their first real kiss, but it seemed like an eternity to Scully. That New Year's voyage into uncharted territory had prompted several days and nights of unbridled passion, but once the initial curiosities were satisfied (quite nicely, she reminded herself), they had mutually agreed to slow down. They wanted to take their time exploring this new phase of their relationship, ensuring that in the process they didn't destroy the old one. 'Slow and steady wins the race,' she'd jokingly said to Mulder.
Now she wished she could eat those words. Her role in their professional partnership had always been to put on the brakes when Mulder wanted to go, go, go, and she assumed it would be the same in their personal relationship. But now she was the one aching to speed things up while he appeared to be in no hurry to get their romance back on the fast track. The world didn't end with their New Year's kiss, but in her estimation it had slowed to an infuriating crawl.
She hoped Valentine's Day might provide the excuse they both needed to get the engines revving again, but so far there was no sign Mulder realized February 14th had any significance whatsoever except to fill the void between the 13th and the 15th.
And now it was 4:36.
She was so lost in clock and Mulder watching that she nearly bolted out of her shoes when the phone on his desk rang. He made no attempt to answer it, so she reached over and picked up the receiver.
"Agent Scully, this is Pam at the reception desk. Something was delivered for you up here. Would you like someone to bring it down?"
She glanced over at Mulder, a hint of a smile crossing her lips. "No, that's okay," she replied. "I'll come get it. Thanks." She put the receiver back in its cradle and adjusted her skirt as she walked toward the door.
Mulder kept his eyes on his book. "What's up?"
"There's a delivery for me upstairs," she replied. "I'm going up to get it."
"Want me to go?"
"No, I'll go. Be right back." She was grinning from ear to ear when she stepped into the elevator. This was vintage Mulder. Pretend to be oblivious, then spring a last-minute surprise. He probably wanted to be sure that all the Bureau gossip mongers would have something to talk about tomorrow - many would be leaving for the day right about now and they'd see her picking up a huge bouquet of flowers. In his own sweet way he was making sure those who lamented the fate of poor "Mrs. Spooky," locked in the basement with the resident crackpot, knew that she had a life after all.
She couldn't help humming as the elevator made its ascent to the lobby.
* * *  * * * *
She slumped in her chair and dropped the small package on the edge of the desk, absently tracing the label with her finger. Mulder closed his book and watched her for a few moments, then dropped his feet noisily to the floor. She didn't even flinch.
"Aren't you going to open it?"
"Hmmm?" She looked up to meet his gaze, then turned her eyes back to the package. "No, I know what's in it. It's those special scalpels I ordered. They finally came."
"Oh, good." He placed his elbows on the desk and clasped his hands under his chin. "You seem disappointed. Were you expecting something else?"
"What? No. Well, I thought maybe ... no."
He continued to watch her as he returned the book to the wall shelf. "Scully, you've been fidgety all day. You were obviously expecting something else when they said you had a package. This wouldn't have anything to do with the fact that today is Valentine's Day, would it?"
She was immediately defensive. "No! Of course not."
Sometimes his eyebrow was as demonstrative as hers. "Is that really true?"
She stood up and retrieved her purse from the desk drawer. "Well, I suppose a small part of me thought that maybe ... I mean, it's not so far-fetched is it? This is a day when it's customary for people who care for one another to demonstrate their affection in some way. Anyway, it crossed my mind, that's all. Just forget it."
He chuckled and sat down behind the desk again. "I'm surprised at you, Scully. I never imagined you were the type to buy into the trappings of a holiday created by corporate America solely for the purpose of boosting the sales of greeting cards, candy, and roses. I guess I've never seen you as a 'hearts and flowers' kind of girl."
"I'm not, generally." She removed her long wool coat from the coat rack and slipped it on. "But that doesn't mean I have to be cynical about it. Honestly, Mulder, only you could turn a simple celebration of love into a conspiracy against the American people. But I can see your point. Men and women spend millions of dollars on this day, and for what? Greeting cards that end up in the recycling bin, flowers that end up in the trash, and chocolate that ends up on our hips and forces us to spend one more hour a day at the gym. Thank you for helping me to realize the error of my ways."
"Look, Scully, if it's that important to you I can go out and get you some flowers right now. There's an enterprising young man with a bouquet on almost every street corner today."
"No, thanks." She paused in the doorway. "I don't want to argue. You're right. It's a silly holiday. Just forget it, okay?"
"Sure, Scully." He leaned back to snag a book from the credenza. "Maybe you'd like to come over later. There's a Knicks game on cable and I was gonna order pizza."
"No thanks. I've got some things to do tonight." I'll see you tomorrow. Enjoy the game."
"I'm fine, Mulder. Good night."
* * *  * * * *
Stopping at the grocery store to pick up a salad for dinner seemed like a good idea until she realized she was facing a close encounter more frightening than any alien could dish out: The Attack of the Last Minute Valentine Shoppers. She couldn't escape them. They breezed by her in every aisle, in frozen foods, and in the produce section, their arms laden with telltale signs of Mass Valentine Hysteria - cards, balloons, stuffed animals, boxes of chocolate, and every form of flower imaginable, from single rose to lavish arrangement. And none of them were meant for her.
When one of the mutants asked for her opinion on a card for his wife, it must have pushed her over the edge. She'd gone into shock, she decided. That was the only way to explain the contents of her shopping cart. Scully didn't remember picking out any of the items, but the clerk nodded understandingly as she passed them over the scanner: two pints of Rocky Road, a package of Mallomars, a bag of Hershey's kisses, and a can of whipped cream - the menu for a pity party of gigantic proportions.
She accepted her receipt and change with a sigh, and as she fished in her pocket for her car keys, her fingers brushed the envelope still tucked there. She pulled it out, took a last look at the 'Mulder' she'd written on it this morning, and tossed it in the nearest trash can on her way to the parking lot.
* * *  * * * *
The side entrance to her apartment building was rarely used by anyone but her, and tonight she was grateful it was there. She wanted to spare herself the pain of running into any happy couples who might be leaving for a romantic night out on the town or any of her well meaning but nosy neighbors worried that she was spending Valentine's Day alone ... again. She managed to slip in unnoticed and started the short walk to her apartment door when something crunched under her shoe.
She looked behind her at the powdery residue on the floor and shrugged. Someone must have dropped an aspirin or something, she thought, and turned back to continue down the hallway. But before she took another step she saw them, one placed every five or six feet, the last one just outside her apartment.
The objects were lined up too neatly to have been spilled there. She took a few steps forward and finally realized what they were - conversation hearts.
She walked by them slowly, pausing and stooping slightly to read each one.
Kids playing in the hallway must have left them there, she reasoned, as she stepped over the last one and let herself into the apartment. She didn't stop to turn on the lamp as she came through the door; the streetlights filtering through the blinds offered just enough light for her to make her way to the kitchen and put away the groceries. She opened the Mallomars and popped one in her mouth, holding it between her teeth while she toed off her shoes, took off her coat and suit jacket, and unbuttoned the cuffs of her shirt. She took a huge bite of the cookie as she moved back across the living room to hang her coat on the rack by the door.
She swallowed the rest of the cookie and flicked the wall switch to turn on the lamp. She closed her eyes at the flash of bright light and rubbed her temples slowly. First a nice, long bath, she decided. Then she'd crash on the couch for the rest of the evening. She locked the door, then turned around to make her way to the bedroom - and stopped dead in her tracks.
Her mouth gaped open at the sight before her. Scattered around the living room were eight vases, each holding a dozen long stemmed roses, each with a numbered envelope propped against it.
The roses in vase Number 1 were lavender, and her fingers were shaking as she opened the envelope and removed the card. A short verse was printed on it, in handwriting she knew as well as her own.
"Roses are red, violets are blue,
My life changed when I met you."
She clutched the card tightly as she made her way to the second vase, filled with yellow roses.
"Roses are red, roses are yellow,
You've made me a most happy fellow."
She moved from one vase to the next, pausing to admire and touch the flowers that each vessel held before opening the envelope and reading the accompanying poem.
Number 3 - dark pink
"Roses are red, roses are pink,
Somebody saved me - who do you think?"
Number 4 - white
"Roses are fragile, someday turn to dust,
Don't ever doubt you're the one that I trust."
Number 5 - pale pink
"Roses are pink, and a joy to receive
Say that you love me - I want to believe."
Number 6 - six red, six white
"Roses are red, roses are white
What are you doing later tonight?"
Number 7 - coral
"Roses are red, roses are coral,
Let's get together and do something immoral."
Number 8 - red
"Roses are red, violets are blue
The rest of my life belongs to you."
Finally she collapsed on the sofa and read all eight cards again careful not to let her tears smudge the cherished verses. She was so lost in her emotions, she barely heard the knock at the door.
She grabbed a Kleenex from the box on the end table and wiped her eyes. "Who is it?"
She blew her nose and rushed to the door, her fingers fumbling to undo the chain. When she finally pulled it open he was leaning against the frame, hands behind his back.
She dabbed at her eyes with the tissue. "I don't know whether to kiss you or kill you."
"Do I get to vote?" He handed her the two-pound box of chocolates in the red heart-shaped box that he'd been hiding behind him. "Happy Valentine's Day, Scully. Here's the heart, there's the flowers. I'm sorry that you're not a hearts and flowers kind of girl, but I'm a hearts and flowers kind of guy, so you're just going to have to learn to live with it."
She stood on tiptoe to kiss him, then pulled him inside the apartment and closed the door. "Mulder, I can't believe you did all this. The hearts in the hallway, these flowers ... how?"
"I'm afraid I can't divulge that information," he said. "It's a trade secret. And if you try to get me to admit that there's any resemblance between Cupid and Melvin Frohike, I'll deny it."
She laughed and held up the poems. "And these! Mulder, they are so sweet."
"I'd say corny is a better description."
"Well, I love them. They're better than any sonnet." She placed them on the coffee table next to vase Number 4. "The flowers are just beautiful, so many wonderful colors. But eight dozen! You didn't have to go overboard like that."
"Scully, don't tell me you missed the metaphor! Do I have to remind you that next month is the eighth anniversary of our partnership? A dozen roses for each year, and each color represents a different facet of our relationship."
"I don't understand."
"Here, I'll show you. I did my homework." He took her hand in one of his and used the other to point at each vase as he talked. "Lavender roses indicate the sender has fallen in love at first sight - which I did in spite of that God-awful suit you wore that day." He ignored her playful poke in the ribs and continued. "Yellow represents friendship. Dark pink conveys appreciation and gratitude, and white stands for purity and truth."
He moved behind her and slipped his arms around her waist. "Pale pink means grace, gentleness, and perfect happiness. And red and white roses presented together signify unity - the joining of perfect opposites. Coral indicates desire - pretty self-explanatory, I think. And red represents respect, courage, and passion. And most of all, red says 'I love you'. And I do love you, Scully."
"And I love you, Mulder." She kissed him, then traced his lower lip with her finger. "Even though you let me make a complete fool of myself in the office this afternoon."
"Well, I didn't want to spoil the surprise," he said. "Besides, you were so cute defending the virtue of Hallmark, Whitman's, and FTD. Now go get dressed or we're gonna be late."
"Late for what?"
"I made reservations at that new French restaurant on M Street," he replied. "So go get changed."
"That place is impossible to get into any night of the week. How did you get reservations on Valentine's Day?"
"I didn't exactly start planning this yesterday, Scully," he said. "This operation has been years in the making."
The eyebrow was still in excellent working condition. "Years? I think you mean weeks."
"No, I mean years. I've been planning our first Valentine's Day together almost since the moment I met you. That's a pretty big advantage. Implementing it was the easy part. I'm just sorry it took so long to get to this point. When I think of all the hearts and flowers I could have heaped on you for the last eight years ..."
"Oh, Mulder." Her chin began to quiver and she tried to pull away, but he held her shoulders tightly.
"Hey, what's all this? Why are you crying?"
"Because of what you did. Because of what I didn't do." Her words were punctuated by tiny sobs. "I wanted this day to be so special, to be the perfect day ... but I didn't do anything to make that happen. I didn't even get you anything because I was too afraid of doing the wrong thing. Well, I got you a card, but then I threw it away because I thought *that* was the wrong thing. I was so selfish ..."
"Selfish?" He tipped her chin up so her eyes were forced to meet his. "Scully, you've given up everything to be with me. You stuck by me when no one else would. The day you walked into my office was the best day of my life. And you love me, and there's no greater gift that that. You don't have to say it, or do things to show it, because you make me *feel* it. And in my book, that's more important than anything in the world."
He pulled her into a tight embrace and she sighed contentedly as he rested his chin on the top of her head. He stroked her hair and she placed her hand over his heart, and they stood like that for what seemed like a long time.
"Everything okay now?" Mulder finally whispered, his breath rustling her hair.
"Okay like you wouldn't believe."
"Good." He squeezed her shoulders gently and winked. "But if you're still feeling badly about not giving me anything, I could make a few suggestions for later."
She giggled and lightly smacked his chest, and he knew everything would be all right. "Now go change into something black and sexy cause we've got an evening of French kissing ahead of us. In the restaurant. I was talkin' about the restaurant."
"Sure you were. Anyway, I thought you wanted to watch the basketball game."
He shook his head in exasperation. "I know I can be an insensitive jerk sometimes, Scully, but did you seriously believe that I would let you spend Valentine's Day alone? Especially our first Valentine's Day as a bona fide couple?"
"After the things you said this afternoon, I wasn't sure."
"If I have my way, you will never spend Valentine's Day alone again. Or Arbor Day or Groundhog Day or ..." She laughed and he kissed the tip of her nose. "That's more like it," he said. "Now go get changed. Get those beautiful little legs moving."
"All right. Would you like something to drink while you're waiting?"
"Iced tea? But I can get it."
"No, you sit down. It'll only take me a second and then I'll change. Quickly, I promise."
She was dropping ice cubes into a glass when an idea hit. "Mulder, do you remember that little negligee I bought when we were in Costa Mesa?"
"How could I forget?" he called back. "I thought I was gonna be a 'Lucky Boy' that night, but our burger flippin', brain suckin', mutant monster friend Rob Roberts kind of killed the mood."
"So I guess that means you haven't seen me in it then, right?"
"Only in my very wet dreams."
She laughed. "Then maybe I do have a Valentine's gift for you after all."
"Ah, Scully, if there's whipped cream in that fridge, could be love."
As she placed the iced tea pitcher back in the refrigerator, she accidentally knocked over the recently purchased can of Reddi Whip. She held the can in her palm for a moment, then placed it back on the shelf. "Did you hear that?" she whispered. "I guess you just got invited to a different kind of party tonight. Happy Valentine's Day."
"Did you say something, Scully?"
She closed the refrigerator, picked up his glass, and snapped off the kitchen light. "I said 'must be fate' Mulder. Must be fate."
* * *  * * * *
Note: I wasn't considering writing anything for Valentine's Day, but reading Christine Leigh's Valentine vignette "The Real Thing" inspired me to try. It's a little late, but this is what I came up with. Thanks to Christine for the inspiration and Happy Valentine's Day!