Title - Intervention
Author - Zuffy
E-mail – firstname.lastname@example.org
Rating – PG
Category – Mulder/Scully relationship
Spoilers - none
Keywords - MSR
Summary - What if Mulder couldn't think of a way to have "the big talk" with Scully but he could talk about her with her mother?
Written 10/98. Revised 2/99.
DISCLAIMER: Yes, I am aware that the characters of Agent Fox Mulder, Agent Dana Scully, Mrs. Maggie Scully and such other references of the copyrighted X-files are the sole property of its creator, Chris Carter, and its owners, 1013 Productions, and FOX television, a unit of 20th Century Fox, Inc. No copyright infringement is intended. Just havin' some fun here.
Working in her kitchen, Mrs. Scully heard the doorbell ring. She finished wiping off the counter, then went to greet her visitor. Mulder stood outside, dressed casually in shirt, jeans, and leather jacket. His hair was shorter than she recalled, but otherwise he looked just as he had the last time she'd seen him with her daughter.
"Hello, Maggie, thanks for letting me invite myself over."
"Fox, come in. It's nice to see you again."
She closed the door behind him and led him into the dining room. The room was decorated in a warm and feminine style and was lit by the afternoon sun. He imagined that many family memories were anchored by this table, a situation quite unlike his own childhood. Maggie interrupted his thoughts. "I've just made some coffee. Will you have a cup?"
"Yes, sure, thank you."
Mulder sat down in one of the side chairs, stretching his legs under the table. Maggie retreated to the kitchen and returned with coffee and cookies on a tray. She set out everything on the table before looking back at Mulder. She had worried that he had bad news, but he didn't look glum enough.
"This may seem odd to you, but I always talk to my friends around this table. Of course, they're not as tall as you. I hope you're not uncomfortable." He shook his head and she continued a little nervously, "I'm glad you came by. I hope everything is all right. I thought Dana might be with you."
"Everything's fine. We, uh, actually just finished an interesting case involving ritual murders of… well, it doesn't matter. One thing about my job, it doesn't lend itself to small talk." He gave her a slightly rueful smile. "Guess that's why I never get invited to the hot parties."
"Probably not." She tried to picture what his social life might be like, but came up blank. She'd only seen him in the middle of one crisis or another. Dana never mentioned going anywhere with him outside work.
It was his turn to interrupt her musings. "Actually, Dana doesn't know I'm here. I'd like this to be between the two of us."
"Of course. Is there some problem? Dana's never been one for sharing her worries."
Mulder sighed. "Actually, that's part of the problem. I don't know what she's thinking either and it makes me reluctant to talk with her. I thought maybe I could talk to you instead. Get a better sense of things."
She looked at him encouragingly, sensing what might be coming.
He took a deep breath. "I love her, but I don't know how to say it. I've gotten close to saying it, but…"
"But what, Fox?"
"I think I'd be taking a big risk. Too big. As long as we're partners, we can be together. I need to be with her. She's the only person I trust." He paused and Maggie did not interrupt. "Am I making any sense?"
"Yes, it makes sense. But why not tell her? I think she needs to hear it from you." She held her cup up to her mouth to hide the emotions on her face. Slowly, she blew on the coffee and waited for Mulder to continue.
"She is like half my soul. But sometimes it feels like the unwilling half. She pulls back from me when I want her to be open. I don't know what that means." With his elbows on the table, he rubbed his hands through the hair over his temples.
"You've been together through so much…"
"But where does that take us? She knows me too well. If I tell her and…and…she doesn't feel the same, then we won't be able to continue as partners, not like now. I see this great wall going up: Must be careful of Mulder, not feed any of his fantasies. Not hurt his feelings. No," he shook his head, "the risk is just too great."
Maggie thought about the risks he took for himself and for her daughter. Her husband had been in the Navy, so she understood how danger and fear got to be part of your life, always hovering in the background. But that had not been like Fox Mulder's constant state of peril. Amazing that he found it scarier to contemplate stating his feelings.
She poured each of them a little more coffee. "Why don't you think she might love you?" Maggie was able to say the words he had been unable to get out.
Mulder sighed and thought to himself, Where do I start exactly? Even his mother seemed standoffish with him. "I'm not an easy person to love. I know that. I've been called obsessed. Demanding. Self-absorbed. Spooky. Maybe I am spooky."
Demanding. Self-absorbed, she thought. So what else is new? But all she said was, "In other words, unlovable?"
"No, no, I don't think that."
There was a long silence between them. Maggie idly traced circles on the table. "Are you happy the way things are now, Fox? Really? Do you want to go on just like now?"
He took one of the cookies and ate it absently. "Happy is not a word I use to describe myself. Can she and I go on like this? Probably." He paused. "I don't know. Maybe not." The polished surface of the table reflected his hesitations back at him. Those times when the Bureau had separated them, or even threatened to, had been unbearable. That moment would likely come again. Partners got reassigned all the time. Career pressure, organizational needs, field rotation: there were even a special office and a special vocabulary for it. And he knew there were people who thought reassigning Scully would drive him out of the Bureau.
"Well then, is she happy with the way things are?"
"That's what I was hoping you could tell me."
Maggie shook her head slightly. "What makes Dana happy? That was always the big question. Doing what she has already decided to do. That's about it."
"I wish I knew what that was. She tells me she wants 'a life.' A life to go home to after work. Sounds good, doesn't it? Simple. Unfortunately, I don't have a life I can offer her. The X-Files are my life. She is my life. I haven't got anything else to give." Now he did look glum.
Maggie knew that he had a point. But she also knew that however much her daughter wanted "a life" something much stronger seemed to bind her to Mulder. Despite everything that had happened to her, she was unshakeable in her loyalty. Nothing the family ever said seemed to make her doubt her commitment to him and his cause. Maggie worried that if Dana didn't find a life with him, she wasn't going to find one at all.
"Fox, a life isn't something you give someone. It's something you make. It's something you build. But you don't build it yourself and hand it to her. You build it together. It might not end up looking like anybody else's life." Especially where the two of you are concerned, she noted to herself.
They sipped their coffee, each waiting for the other to continue. Maggie spoke up first, "She could have gone out looking for that life by now, Fox, but she hasn't. Even her friends don't see her often. She is as absorbed by you as you are by, by the things that drive you. And she believes passionately in what you are doing together."
Mulder looked pleased to hear this. But his smile faded quickly. "There's another thing. Being with me has already caused her, and you, so much pain. If I tell her how I feel, it's like putting another burden on her. It would be like an obligation. Something else she needs to do for me. Besides… "
"So you've made the decision for her."
He looked up from the table and stared at her.
She took another sip of coffee waiting for him to respond, but he sat back, wordless.
"Let me be selfish for a while, Fox. I want my daughter to find some happiness. I want her to have the pleasure of loving, openly, and knowing that she is loved. She seems as bound to you as you are to her. You are the only person who can give her that happiness. She won't seek it from anyone else. Even if you parted, I don't know that she could ever form a bond like you have. If love is there, why withhold it? Let her decide how she feels."
Part 2. The following Saturday morning.
The sound of someone knocking woke Scully up. The room was already light and the clock showed 8:45. After pulling on a robe and running a comb quickly through her hair, she hurried through her living room to check on the unexpected visitor. To her surprise she saw her mother standing in the hall with a large grocery bag in her arms. She tightened the belt of her robe.
"Mom," she said, opening the door quickly. "This is a surprise."
"Well, I hoped it would be. I thought we might have a nice breakfast together and catch up. I haven't seen much of you lately."
"I'm sorry. I promise to do better." She smiled, somewhat weakly in her mother's opinion, and kissed her on the cheek.
"You don't need to apologize. Your life is busy. I just like to keep up with you from time to time. Well, let me put these things on a plate and make a pot of coffee." Scully motioned her to the kitchen and hurried over to close her bedroom door.
Her mother was setting out a large plate of bagels, with cream cheese, butter, and jam. A carton of orange juice stood on the table. "The coffee is still in the bag. I hope I got the right grind for your coffeemaker."
Scully took out the aromatic packet. Of course, it's the right grind, she thought. Mom is always the perfect homemaker. Scully shook the grounds into the coffeemaker and poured in the water. Though she was glad to see her mother, there was no question in her mind that the moment was decidedly awkward.
"That's a lot of food for the two of us."
"All the bagels looked so good and I didn't know which were your favorite. It was easiest just to get a bunch. You can always save the others for breakfast during the week." Eating breakfast had been a battleground for them when Scully was a teen. Though she had long since adopted a healthy eating style, her mother still treated her habits with a bit of suspicion.
Maggie looked around the kitchen and said, "I'll set the table if you want to go get dressed." Scully was about to agree when the bedroom door opened and Mulder walked into the room, tucking his gray t-shirt into his jeans.
Scully cast him a panicked look which he either missed or, more likely, ignored. "Maggie, it's good to see you." He gave her a little peck on the cheek. "Wow, what have you brought us?"
"Fox, I'm glad to see you, too. It's a good thing I got extra." This latter comment was directed at Scully. Maggie went over to the cupboard to get the glasses and cups.
Scully sat down on one of her kitchen chairs and stared at her mother incredulously. "I really don't believe this, Mother. A man walks out of my bedroom and you say, without… without even blinking, 'I'm glad to see you'?"
Mulder and Maggie exchanged glances. Maggie turned back to Scully and said, "Dana, not 'some man,' but Fox. That's completely different."
Behind her mother's back, Mulder gave Scully a thumbs-up. She refused to smile back and considered sticking her tongue out at him.
"I'm having a little trouble getting my thoughts in order, just now," she said, seething at Mulder. She had wanted a little time to think of a way out of the situation, but he had just decided to burst in. It called attention to them way before she was ready. He *must have heard her mother's voice! And now he was us-ing. 'Brought us'! Deliberately, she thought, as though it was the most natural thing in the world. Was it? Sensing her bewilderment, he walked behind her and gave her shoulders a little squeeze.
Maggie poured out three glasses of orange juice and handed one to Scully. "I'm not shocked. You don't need to shield me, Dana." And then a glass to Mulder. "I take it that you two have finally found the words to confess your feelings to each other. You're both so strong and focused, that I was afraid you would always deny what you felt."
"How did you know what we felt? I didn't know, I mean not really."
"Oh, Dana, just by watching you. By seeing how you looked at each other when you thought no one would see. It wasn't hard."
Mulder sat down next to Scully and took her hand. "Didn't mean to put you on the spot. I wasn't thinking of anything but how happy I am."
Her mother continued. "Children always try to keep some things secret from their mothers. I did. Mom usually knows anyhow, but has to pretend not to know just to keep appearances up. Do you want me here, now?"
Scully's mind rapidly scrolled the events of the past 15 hours. Mulder's casual invitation to dinner "to celebrate Friday." Since when had he paid any attention to days of the week or hours on the clock, much less celebrated them? A perfectly enjoyable dinner together, nothing paranormal but its normality. A return to her apartment to talk about something "important." The little gift box that she thought would hold another bit of his space memorabilia, but instead contained a beautifully executed, small filigree heart. Her mind going blank at the sight of it, not wanting or daring to reach for meaning. Trying not to let him see her tears. His surprising words: "You and the X-Files have been my life. I know you want more to life than that. I thought maybe we could work on it together." No escaping the tears. A kiss, slow and tentative, dissolving into a need greater than she had ever allowed herself to feel. Coming up for breath hours later. And here they were now, with her mother.
"Dana? Dana, is something wrong?" Her mother's voice broke through.
Scully shook herself back to the present and touched the heart which now hung next to her cross. "Sorry, I was just thinking how often Mulder and I don't quite know what we're heading into... " She paused to choose a bagel from the plate. "And how often our progress is advanced by one of Mulder's secret informants." She looked from one to the other. Mulder began to speak, but she stopped him with a kiss and said, "The coffee must be ready. Help yourselves while I get dressed."
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