Title : To Have This Moment
Author : Gwoman
Feedback : Please!!! firstname.lastname@example.org
Rating : PG
Category : MSR
Spoilers : Milagro
Keywords : MSR
Summary : A sequel to *One Moment. Scully is challenged to confront her fears and her feelings.
Disclaimer : Agents Fox Mulder and Dana Scully and The X files are the sole property of Chris Carter. Obviously. If they were mine, I would never have let them out of their basement office. No infringement intended.
Acknowledgments: I want to thank all of the fan-fic readers out there that liked 'One Moment' and clamored for more. This may have to become a trilogy, so let me know what you all think, and I may be encouraged to write another chapter and put you all out of your misery. Special thanks to Zuffy, for as always, patiently reading, advising, and posting my little stories.
To Have This Moment
Scully reflected on the past months of her life. As much as it pained her to admit it, Mulder was right. They did get the X-files back. But at a cost. There seemed to be a tension between them now that no amount of peculiar details in a case could detract. Something was off, like a slipped beat in a song, or a misstep in this dance that they were in. Scully didnít know quite how to bridge this distance. To say that she craved the closeness they once shared, would be an understatement. In the six years that they had been partners, they had developed a shorthand, a look of the eye that bespoke volumes more than anything verbal. Now it seemed to her that Mulder was intentionally closing himself off. Latching the shutters over his emotions so that with no amount of peeking on her part could she see inside.
Life goes on. Thatís a given. Months have passed since that moment in her apartment. A moment that could have defined a new relationship for herself and Mulder, but which instead left a new impression, in her mind at least, of the tenuous boundary lines, which could not be breached.
Life went on, in the daily grind of case, suspect, motive and closure. Each day drew that line tighter and tighter, until Scully was sure it would one day snap.
That day began like any other day. Dana Scully got out of bed. Faced her normal morning chores. Drove her usual drive to work. Entered the office in her customary way. She listened to Mulder weave a story of unexplained phenomenon that she had to poke holes into in her predictable way. Like a dance, her day twirled her in the same circles. She saw different faces spin by, but always shared the dance with the same partner. It appeared that this was the way her life would revolve.
Mulderís charismatic neighbor had written her life as he saw it, recording painstakingly on a typewriter her conduct and behavior. The last page of the story, he had written in a death scene. Hers. She was to die as all the other victims in the book, her heart torn out of her body, and her soul laid bare to bleed on the floor. At the last possible instant, the author decided to edit his work. Scully came to life on a cold floor, with her partner of six years leaning over her anxiously, his eyes wild and sharp. She jolted toward him, pulling herself into his arms, and clawing at him almost desperately to bring him closer than possible.
She wrote her own ending to that chapter that night. Crying harder than she had ever cried in her life, she heard a wall break in her mind, one of the many fortress walls that she had built to keep herself safe. Mulder just held her, offering neither platitudes nor inanities. Just warmth, and love. She knew he loved her. He spoke his piece that moment in her apartment so many months ago. She knew also, that he would not push her, leaving her free to speak her mind, or hide from it.
He wrapped his arms even tighter around her, protecting her from the room. Her blood had spilled from her chest onto her blouse in crimson tendrils. Scully knew she was sharing that stain with Mulderís soft gray T-shirt, but she couldnít concern herself with that right now. Her thoughts were focused on the feeling of a violating hand, trying to steal her heart. She inhaled a shaky breath, gulping in air frantically to quell the emotions that threatened to choke her. She felt Mulderís hands start a slow slide, up and down her back, as he quietly murmured her name. She felt the tears start to ease, and sensed Mulder stir slightly, shifting so that he was sitting comfortably on the floor, with her body cradled between his legs. Although she knew her tears had stopped, she could still feel her body shaking with shock. She wanted nothing more than to hide herself, deep in Mulderís arms for a lifetime, but Scully felt the instinctual pull to escape. She tried to gently disengage herself from his arms, but he objected quietly.
"Shh, just sit here a minute, Scully," he whispered, lips resting against her neck.
"I canít," she protested. "Please, Mulder, let me go."
"Just hold me for a moment, ok?" His voice, usually low and soothing, came from her partner raspy and broken. She realized that it wasnít her body that was shaking. Mulderís body trembled with suppressed emotion. Before her mind was occupied with her thoughts. Now she took a moment to listen to the ragged breathing of her partner, and she realized that she hadnít cried alone. The arms that she had felt holding her together were also holding on to her. She tightened her arms around his waist, and leaned her cheek to his chest.
"Iím sorry Mulder. I didnít know."
"I saw you dead, again, Scully." He breathed into her hair. He pulled back enough to look down at her. "Scully?" He pushed her away carefully, and stood, taking her hands and helping her up. He ran his fingertips over her neck as if he was looking for fang marks, and traced the edge of her blouse carefully.
"Iím ok Mulder. He didnít hurt me."
"But what about the blood?"
"I donít know how to explain it. I felt his hand in my chest, and then it wasnít. I thought he would--." She broke off as she remembered the feeling again. "Oh God, Mulder. He almost--." The words caught in her throat. She stepped back, as Mulder reached to draw her back into his arms. She placed her hand over her mouth, gasping with fear. This isnít the stance she normally took. This was an unexplained phenomenon. Her job was to make it logical. Scientific. Think about spilled blood from a jar. It canít have been a hand reaching into your chest. It had to be a hallucination, maybe from a gas sprayed into the apartment, or something she ate or drank in the last hour. "It couldnít have happened, right Mulder? It was justÖ"
"It almost happened, Scully. It almost happened." He advanced, closing the distance that she had placed between them. He tipped her chin up with the pads of his fingers, and caught her eyes with his intense stare. "It almost happened."
She wrapped her arms around herself, seeking warmth from the sudden chill she felt. She dropped her gaze, staring at the floor where she had laid. It was spattered with blood. Her blood.
He tried to draw her into his arms again, but she turned away, stepping back quickly. "He didnít hurt me Mulder. Iíll be ok. Let me get cleaned up, then I am going home." She shook her hair away from her face decisively, and headed for his bathroom.
"Donít go home, stay here Scully." He stepped toward her, and placed his hand on her shoulder, gripping it lightly. "Stay with me a while."
Her eyes danced almost violently around the room, taking in the spatters and smears of her blood, and coming to rest on her partnerís face. Concern and longing were etched into his eyes. She closed her eyes, and let her head fall wearily to her chest, the urge to allow him to comfort her, warring with her need to retreat.
"I need to get out of here Mulder. I just want to go home." She forced herself to leave the room, shutting the bathroom door behind her. She fell back against the wood, taking solace in the solidity of it. She caught a glimpse of her face in the mirror, and gasped. Pushing her body to take the few steps to the sink, Scully raised a hand to the spray of red that insulted her features. She ran the water in the basin, cupping her hands and splashing her face with is at first, and then scrubbing furiously, as if she could erase the memory as easily as the blood. Crying again, she grabbed a washcloth from the shelf nearby, and soaked it in the running water. She dragged it again and again over her face, allowing the tears to mingle with the cleansing water.
It was a deceptively calmer Scully that stepped back out of the bathroom. As her eyes once more swept the now empty room, she noticed that Mulder had obviously used her absence to scrub away some of the blood. A brown stain was the only evidence that marked the floor.
She quickly averted her eyes and went in search of her partner. Mulder was in the kitchen, arms braced against the porcelain sink, head lowered almost to his chest. She stood in the doorway, not speaking, not wanting to intrude.
"Iíll be right with you Scully, just give me a moment, ok?" Mulder spoke into the sink.
"Whenever youíre ready, Mulder," Scully answered quietly. She turned and went into the living room, sitting softly on the couch. She thought of all the times that Mulder was witness to her close calls, and near misses. And all the times she was witness to his. Too many for each of them. She knew how it shook her up each time she had to sit at his hospital bedside and wait to see if he would pull through from the latest misadventure. She was just beginning to realize how it must affect Mulder to do the same for her. Only this wasnít a hospital bed. Mulder had walked in to his apartment, to see the apparent dead body of his partner, the woman whom he had told but a few months ago the way he felt about her. It must have shaken him to the core. Just as it had her, to believe that she was on her way to *being a dead body. Scully lowered her head to fall into her open palms. She thought also, of all the times that she just wanted to forget this independent and strong façade she had erected about herself. How easy it should be to just allow herself to fall into the comfort of his arms, and forget about the rest of the world. How tempting it seemed to her right now. But her walls took ages to build, and they wouldnít be able to be demolished that easily. She closed her eyes wearily, sighing with resignation.
She looked up to see a somber Mulder shuffle into the room, eyes trailing along the carpet. She stood and moved to him, peering up to try and read his face.
"Mulder, are you ok?" she asked quietly.
He raised his eyes to peer intently into hers, scanning them for how to respond. He knew her well, Scully mused. She knew he was trying to determine if she was still disturbed by her ordeal, or was deciding to brush it away to deal with later, as she usually did. She watched as his eyes catalogued her expression, and then drifted lower. She could see by his scowl the instant he saw the blood still marking her blouse. As his gaze once again came to rest on her face, she saw his quiet demeanor had changed. The emotions that he had been suppressing just below the surface were about to explode.
"Me Scully?" he sneered. "Iím fine. But then again, I wasnít the one who almost had her heart ripped out."
Even though the harsh words pelted against her, Scully knew he was reacting out of fear and shock, the same way she sometimes railed against his constant ditching her to end up in the near dead experiences he always wound up in.
"That wouldnít have happened Mulder," she began in her most certain, scientist tone. "Iím not sure what that man was trying to do, or even what he did do, but if he tried to rip out my heart, there would be no way I could have come out of it like I did. He would have left an incision, or a tear. I am fine Mulder. Really." Rather than trying to defuse the situation, it appeared that she had just tossed an accelerant onto Mulderís flaming emotions. She watched his face turn stormier.
"How close do you have to get Scully before you are satisfied? You are always telling me that youíre not willing to believe in the stuff that I have seen, and youíve seen. Tonight you almost died. Do you understand that? If Padgett hadnít thrown those papers into the incinerator, you would be dead. The only reason that you are alive is because of the burning of some papers. Yet you still want to tell me that the so-called unexplained phenomenon is scientifically proven? How does your science prove this one Scully?"
"I donít know yet Mulder. I think that we were both through an ordeal tonight. I just want to go home. We can talk about this tomorrow."
"Someday Scully, you wonít have a tomorrow to push all the hard discussions onto. What will you do then? Will you actually take the moment and address the feelings you have when you have them? Or will you just keep putting them off as long as you can? When will you acknowledge your emotions for what they are, a sign of the moment?" He spoke softly, but Scully felt as if he had shouted his allegation as loud as he could. "When will you stop running from yourself?" And from us, she heard the unspoken words in his question.
"Do you have a clean shirt that I can change into Mulder?" She asked quietly, lowering her face from all his accusations.
"Let me change out of this one, and Iíll get us both something clean. Then Iíll take you home Scully." He seemed almost deflated now. He turned to the bedroom, peeling off his blood-smeared shirt as he went. When he returned a moment later, he tossed her a black T-shirt without saying a word, and collapsed onto the couch. He wouldnít look at her, knowing, Scully thought, that the conversation was finished, just as all the deep ones always were.
"I want to talk about this Scully. About what this is doing to us." He said softly still not looking her way.
"I donít know if I can, Mulder." She escaped into the bathroom to change, thinking again about what had happened. Correction, she thought, almost happened. When would she realize that there werenít always going to be a tomorrow? She kept telling herself that one day, she would consider the feelings that she had for Mulder. One day she would try to discover if what they felt for each other would be possible to explore. What if she didnít have a one day? Is that what Mulder is trying to ask her? She peered into the mirror, hoping to find the answer reflected there in her eyes. Always another if.
As she came into the living room, Mulder rose to his feet. He didnít stretch his hand out towards her, but his eyes searched hers intently. She could feel the hope emanating from him, like flames from a candle. She took a step back towards the door, and disappointment began to creep into his face. Could she do this? Could she leave, knowing that this chance might never come again? Yet could she have this moment without knowing what might come out of it? Without knowing if it would last? Without knowing if their relationship as it is, would survive what might be? Could she have this moment without knowing?
She observed his face carefully, but could only see truth etched in his eyes. That is what it comes down to, Scully thought. I had asked him to trust my judgement, to trust me. Is it fair to ask that of Mulder without offering the same in return? Is he, perhaps, asking me to trust his judgement in this? To trust in us? Can I take that leap of faith? She searched her heart carefully, but could find no easy answers there. What if I leap, but I donít trust him to catch me, she thought. Scully recalled the words from the instructor at Quantico during just such a test of faith, "You must trust your partner, or you will both get hurt."
She lowered her eyes decisively, and felt rather than saw Mulder rise from the couch.
"Címon Scully," he sighed. "I will take you home."