Title: Soup for One
Author: Gina Rain (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Spoilers: Specifically, Detour.
Summary: A tale of dreams and desires.
Special thanks: To Carol for pinch-hitting beta. Thank you SO much.
Dedicated to: Well, it's 1-22, who else would it be dedicated to? The one and only Sybil, of course (uh, should I ask for forgiveness in advance?)
He opened one eye as she walked out of his bathroom.
Scully was completely dressed and ready to go. He was cocooned in a drowsy warmth that was a combination of afterglow and a brief but satisfying nap. He didn't want her to go. Not before five A.M. Not this time.
He reached out a hand. "Come here," he said.
She ignored it, walked around to his side of the bed and quickly dropped a kiss on his lips, "I'll see you at the office."
"Five minutes, Scully. That's all I'm asking for."
"Mulder. Five minutes? Come on. I have to go home and get ready for work. We had a really nice time last night but duty calls."
He sat up. "Nice time? For the record, I wasn't asking for a quickie, Scully. I just wanted to hold you for five minutes. Kind of a pleasant way to ease into the day. But I forgot the rules. I pull out and you pull away," he scooted back down the bed and rested his head against the pillow. "See you later."
He turned to his side. She stood and looked at him for a moment. Saying nothing, she walked out the door.
The dream ended and he woke up - cold. She was so cold.
He ran a hand over his face. Scully had changed a lot in the time they'd known each other. She had dealt with a great deal of loss, and potential loss. But, for now, she still had spirit. He thought of her coming into his motel room a few days ago with no intention or thought of working on a case. She just wanted to spend time with him. Perhaps delve into some of the subjects she had later touched upon while they were in the woods. He had bolted. Partly because of the potential of a new x-file, but mostly because he just couldn't deal with it all at that moment. And he was glad he left. The conversation in the woods hadn't been comfortable but it was better hearing it out there, with the distraction of physical pain to deflect the emotional, than hearing it straight in a motel room with no buffers.
But he had only postponed the inevitable. There were issues to address. Mulder couldn't let Scully become the woman in his dream. He had to put a stop to it.
Scully gently ladled out a bowl of New England clam chowder and brought it into the dining room. She put it on the center of the place mat, with her ham sandwich strategically placed in the upper right hand corner. She dunked her silver spoon into the creamy white soup, rich with chunks of potato and clam. It was an indulgence in the world of soup, not her usual organic, fat-free, low-sodium broccoli-flavored water. Even though her taste buds and appetite were still very much in a state of recovery, she was determined to go ahead and try to satisfy her need to indulge. Food she could control. It was all up to her: what she chose at the market, what she put into the saucepan to heat, and what she served. Indulgences that depended on the whims of another person were another matter altogether.
Her original intention was to push for indulgence in all areas of her life.
She put down her spoon and cut her small sandwich into four squares. She took a bite out of one of them and put the remaining bit back on the plate.
Yes, they had stumbled across a legitimate case and had saved lives. But Mulder didn't know that initially. Or maybe he had, in the deep, dark recesses of his mind. Maybe he possessed some magical sixth sense and he was the true x-file that everyone should be examining. Or maybe he was just trying to avoid a private wine and cheese reception in a motel room that suddenly became too crowded when she entered the room.
A few weeks before, he had given her long, loving glances, held her hand, greeted her with kisses to her cheeks.
She balled up the paper napkin and threw it in the soup.
She could give him a cheek to kiss.
Scully walked into the living room and picked up a book. She put it back on the coffee table and decided to lay on the couch and travel down her own stretch on the highway of guilt. She was alive. She was supposed to be dead and buried by now. Mulder helped her find the cure. Mulder was there for her in the end. Or what they thought to be the end. And she had many, many years to live out her life. Many, many reasons to be grateful. And she was, very grateful. But she was also anxious to get on with life, with living. Really living.
And she didn't want to do it alone. That was the problem. She was sick of doing it all alone.
"You didn't eat your soup," Mulder looked down at a half-eaten bowl of soup for one, with a bloated napkin swimming in it like some new form of sea life that he doubted was part of the original recipe.
"I didn't have much of an appetite. I did finish a sandwich, though."
He picked up the bowl and dumped the contents into the sink. He rinsed the dish, dried it and returned it to the cabinet. The garbage disposal took care of the drowned bit of paper and chunks of potato.
He turned and found Scully at the doorway, leaning against it and smiling. "Your domestic side is quite surprising."
He made a sound between a huff and a grunt and took a sponge to wipe the table. "Consider it barter for your daily doctoring."
In truth, he wasn't as worried about her not finishing her meal as he was about her leaving her dishes where they were. She was nothing if not fastidious in her habits. There was no way he was going to call her on it, though. It was natural that she would have some residual feelings of fatigue. He could do tiny little things to make her life easier. Perhaps she wouldn't notice.
"Mulder, come on. Leave it. I'll do it later. I need to check your shoulder."
"My shoulder is fine. Really. It itches like hell. That's a good sign, right?"
"It's a sign of healing, usually." He didn't miss the note of caution in her voice. She wasn't taking anything for granted. He sighed and went into the kitchen to return the sponge. In a few minutes, he was seated on the couch and she sat in front of him on her coffee table.
"Off," she said, nodding her head toward his shirt.
"I live for these moments, Scully," he said, smiling. He put his hands up to his shirt and began slowly opening the buttons in a mock striptease. She smacked his hands away and started doing them herself.
"Impatience. I love that in a woman."
"Of course you do," she pulled the shirt from his right arm and then gingerly helped him out of it on his injured side. She used scissors to cut away the gauze and tape. Scully ran one finger over the outside edge of the injury. "It's a little pink."
"That's a bad thing?"
She just looked at him. He knew it was a potentially bad thing, but he could see himself it was barely pink and she was being overly cautious. They were both being overly cautious with each other, which was part of the reason he was here. He frowned. He didn't want to have this conversation.
"Scully?" he said as she wet a pad of gauze with peroxide.
"You're a really good doctor."
She gave him another one of those looks, the ones where he was convinced she was trying to talk herself out of having him committed.
"Well, thank you, Mulder, but right now I'm not exactly doctoring. I'm nursing."
He stifled the urge to crack a naughty nurse joke and got back to his original point. "Well, it's all part of the same field. And I would imagine, since your illness, you've had a chance to realize just how important it is to have a doctor who not only knows as much as you do, but cares about his or her patients in the way I'm sure you would do. If your patients were alive, that is."
She laughed. This was not going the way he wanted it to.
"Damn it. What I'm trying to say is, if you want to leave the x-files to concentrate on a medical career, I would completely understand and support you."
She dropped the gauze she was using right on his lap. She looked at his face and he sucked in a breath and held her gaze.
"You," she said as she picked the gauze off his crotch with her thumb and index finger, "are full of crap."
"I'm just saying ... "
"You are saying nothing. I have some idea of what my illness did to you. But I can tell you one thing: if I wanted to leave the x-files, I would not need your permission or blessing and, furthermore, I'm not going anywhere. That's my choice and any consequences based on my decision will be mine to deal with. Is that understood?"
She wasn't going anywhere. And she wasn't just saying it, although she said it very well. He could feel her level of commitment in the tone of her voice, in the stiffness in her posture and the fire in her eyes.
She smiled. "Now, put your shirt back on before I succumb to the charms of that pasty white body."
He put a hand to his heart, "Now, I'm wounded." He quickly slipped his shirt back on and began to fasten the buttons. He stopped midway when she put her hand on his cheek and lightly caressed his face. He looked at her and she was looking at him as if she was memorizing every line in his face. Her blue eyes quickly but completely canvassed each feature.
"I wanted to do that in the hospital, but I was literally tied up with the IV line," she said with a slight shrug of her shoulders.
His eyes widened in surprise and she slightly shook her head from side to side. "Bad timing, I know. But I couldn't help myself."
She dropped her hand and started picking up the wrappings from the gauze. Bad timing, yes. He couldn't springboard into guilt-free pleasure just because she expressed her determination to continue with him on this journey. But he couldn't leave her with the impression that their timing would always be off. He put his hand to the side of her face.
"You have bad timing, and I had bad aim," he said as he leaned forward and pressed a kiss to her lips. His soft pressure was returned and as they broke away, he felt resigned. Their fate and their commitment to each other was sealed. On a selfish level, it was wonderful. On a selfless one, it was bittersweet. Nothing in their lives would ever be easy.
She was smiling at him with a slight rose tint flushing her cheeks.
"Don't get your wound wet when you shower," she warned and all thoughts of how difficult life had been, was, or could be flew out of his mind.
He leaned forward again and kissed her cheek. "Love you, too, Scully," he said softly, as he backed away. He picked up his jacket and without turning to look at her, knew he was leaving a surprised and surprisingly speechless Scully behind.
She dreamed of lying in bed, warm with a combination of afterglow and relief.
Mulder was dressed and sitting on the floor. But it was a different Mulder. While he looked only slightly older than he was now, he was lost. Defeated. And she suspected that if she only made the effort, she would find a world of pain beyond the calm facade of her own dream self. Somewhere in her unconsciousness, she knew not to try.
They were talking but she couldn't hear the words.
Finally, he stood up. With a stooped gait, he approached the bed and she pulled back the covers for him. He lay down and took her in his arms.
Whatever else was happening in their worlds, they had found their home, their haven.
She woke up knowing it was too late to escape.
This was their fate. This could be their destiny.
And she faced it with her eyes and her heart wide-open.
Author's Note: Sybil loves smut. Smut loves Sybil. Gina sat down and intended to write smut. Then she intended to write a slightly risque comedic piece. What she ended up with is another story altogether. Sometimes, you just have to go with the flow. Sorry about that, Sybil. But it is a new story. I do get credit for that, right? Happy, happy birthday, kiddo!
If you enjoyed this story, please send feedback to Gina Rain
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