AND THE WALLS CAME TUMBLING DOWN
A BTT "Title-Tag" fic
By Char Chaffin
Spoilers: Takes place right around "Redux" time frame, then goes off in its own little direction -
Thanks to Maggie for the tag title!
Also thanks to Shelba for late-night beta and much enthusiasm
"And the Walls Came Tumbling Down"
Part One - Scully
Strange, the way it took almost-certain death, before she got what she most wanted of life.
She'd lived her thirty-something years weaving toward one basic goal: that of life, love and happiness, success and contentment. She never asked for more, indeed her upbringing had always taught her that a humble approach to life was the right approach. She tried not to think more of herself than she really was; tried to be a good child, a decent teenager, a responsible adult. Tried to be the best at whatever career she fell into. When that career demanded she become someone's partner, she was determined to be the best partner ever.
And she was. In that respect, she certainly was. She watched his back. She mended his cuts and soothed his soul when in his singleminded quest he bit off far more than he could possibly chew. She swallowed anger when his selfishness left her behind, when it denigrated her importance as one half of their professional whole. She defended him, she befriended him. She sympathized, empathized, cauterized.
And inevitably... she idolized.
She never saw it coming. In fact, it completely blindsided her. His friendship was vital and the thought she could take it any further had not occurred to her. He was passionate. Maddening. Frustrating. Over-brilliant, under-loved, low on self-esteem yet fanatically overconfident in his abilities to do the hardest and more unpleasant aspects of his job. He teased her, loaded her with innuendo and bad puns. He called at odd hours, postulating the weirdest suppositions, the most far-fetched explanations. He drove her batty.
He also held her, kept her together... kept her sane. Most of all, he needed her. And it had been a very long time since anyone had needed her like that.
The day she discovered she was in love with him, wanted him... came almost one day too late.
She sat in yet another examining room, pulling on her clothes, buttoning up a blouse smeared with drops of blood and stairwell grime. Her ears rang with her brother's denouncement of her chosen career, her designated partner's shortcomings. She still smarted from having to once more defend her position in the Bureau, in her overall life. She couldn't help but replay some of the conversation they'd had; couldn't avoid wondering the same as what had been said aloud...
If Mulder cared so much, then why wasn't he by her side?
<Because.> She thought it with fierce aggression. Because he was off fighting yet another battle, righting yet another wrong, or at least trying to. He was covering her presence at his side, doing double duty while she stood in an exam room and forced enough energy to finish dressing and pick up the threads of her own responsibility. Added to the overall, overwhelming feelings of ineptitude she suddenly found herself harboring, was the numbing thought that if she had to go another day without telling him how she really felt about him, it would kill her faster than any cancer presently eating up her body.
Love. It had knocked her sideways while she stood and fought with her brother, and as previously-mentioned she never saw it coming, never felt it invade her. Her eyes had widened and she'd broken out in an actual sweat. All she could see were those wide hazel eyes, that strong jawline, that sumptuous mouth. All she could hear was the memory of that rough honey voice in her ear, murmuring any manner of partnerly nonsense into her reluctantly-amused personal space. She could smell him, that pure male scent of cotton, starch, musky skin and a touch of soap. She might have even been able to taste him... if in that moment she'd known what his taste was like.
She wanted nothing more in this life than to touch him, just reach out with two hands and ten trembling fingers - and place them anywhere on his body. If Mulder had been standing in front of her just then, he would have received the shock of a lifetime, because she wouldn't have been able to stop or control herself. It was that strong. It hit her that hard.
Something else that hit her was the utter irony of it. Her life was in precarious balance with a dark and dangerous force of nature within her. She was dying. She could barely accept the truth of it, was trying to be practical and pragmatic. She would leave this earth not knowing the heaven of Mulder's kiss, the ease of his lovemaking and the merging of his soul, to hers. She'd leave without feeling life blossom inside her womb, the life he put there.
It was intolerable. Unacceptable. Unavoidable... unless she did something about it. Oh, she could fight the good fight, and she would. She'd already decided not to give up. She determined her partner wouldn't give up either, for she knew just how relentless he could be. She'd go down fighting, better believe it - just as she'd find a way to tell him how she felt, and what she wanted. She'd fill herself with his life-force, and she'd love him for an entire lifetime, in the short lifetime she had left. She would.
If only she could convince him; make him believe. Make him accept it was something they both needed, were worthy of having.
In actuality, it was harder than she'd imagined, to get him to hear what she wanted to tell him. To show him. He'd already begun building his defenses, and she'd have bet money he wasn't even aware of doing it.
They'd had a tiring week, and their early-evening office conversation had been curiously hollow and bland. It was as if each had been so steeped in their own private anxiety they'd been reluctant to get too close. It happened that way sometimes, and it was acceptable only because they could spew banalities with their mouths but their eyes always filled in the blanks when they locked gazes.
She could somehow read his mind whenever he glanced her way; his expression was that transparent. It said, 'My fault. I did this.' He may as well have shouted it aloud. The words were echoed in the way he tried so hard not to bother her, irritate her; even his teasing had gentled to something less than the innuendo she'd grown accustomed to. The silences stretched between them; she hated it. And she was just waiting for him to verbalize it; anticipating the moment when he snapped up the guilt, ladled it all over himself, and began mortaring a wall with the defenses he'd collected. As a matter of fact, she had a suspicion he'd already begun.
Over her dead body, would he continue.
"Mulder. Stop it."
His head jerked up and he met her determined stare with one of forced calm. "What? Stop what?"
"Stop feeling guilty. Stop blaming yourself. God, I can practically see the way your mind is churning! You want to heap it all on you, don't you? Everything. Well, don't. Just... don't."
He sighed and turned to fully face her, his hands drumming on the desktop in front of him. "Scully... it IS my responsibility. Think of what you'd be doing right now if you'd never met me. Never been tainted by this damned quest of mine. If you'd never had to deal with it, with me. You'd be safe and happy in a rewarding career that would give you everything this job could never give. You'd be healthy. Your family would be happy..."
She was shaking her head even as he spoke, and her rebuttal cut him off. "No. Don't even go there, Mulder. Because I've already been, and I wasn't. Happy that is." She scooted her chair closer to him, until her knees pressed into the modesty panel on his desk. "I didn't want to hang up a shingle somewhere. I refused to be another zombied-out resident in an understaffed and overbooked hospital. I wanted to make a difference; it's why I let the Bureau lure me out right after med school. I wanted to be on the edge. And that's what I got." Her attention fully focused on him, she hadn't noticed how she'd reached out and grasped his restless hands, across the expanse of the desk.
But he had, and he gently tugged them away, resting them in his lap. His expression was sorrowful and full of longing. Through an unwelcome veil of tears she could see the longing, as he replied, "You got the short end of a substandard stick, Scully. You've got a partner whose never-ending needs have drained you. You've got a life fraught with more danger than any one person should ever have to deal with, even within the FBI. And what I've made you lose far outweighs anything I might have been fortunate enough to help you gain." Now his eyes were filming over; in the throes of self-flagellation he was blind to any real truth. "You've lost so much, Scully. Far more than me."
Abruptly she stood, hands clenched at her side, unwilling to sit there and listen to the way he gladly beat himself up. She'd heard it before and enough was enough. Scully stepped swiftly around the desk, dropping to her knees before him, hands swinging his chair around to face her before she unclenched her fists and laid her palms atop his large hands, still resting on his thighs. She shoved her body closer and smiled with grim satisfaction when he retreated as far as he could, pressing up against the back of his chair. She made him nervous, huh?
"Not everything is about you, Mulder. Seems to me I've said that to you before. It's not all what you did, what you caused. Sometimes an adult has to take responsibility for what they have chosen. Don't you think it's about time you stopped feeling responsible for my decisions?" She moved even closer; now her nose was almost brushing his. "My choice, to be your partner. I could have refused Blevins. My choice, to remain at your side all that first year. I could have heaped on the affront, and requested a transfer. My choice to follow you, lead you, watch your back and count you as my friend."
Her voice lowered and she brushed the next words against his lips, which had parted with astonishment in reaction to what she was telling him. "My choice to remain with you for whatever time in this life I may have left. My choice, to love you for all of that time. My choice, to ask you to love me back." Her words ended on a tremble, as she took in his disbelief.
Scully steeled herself to accept whatever came out of his mouth, regardless of how unwelcome those words might be.
His response floored her, as his hands slipped from beneath hers and trailed up her spine, tugging her close. She closed her eyes as she came into contact with the hard wall of his chest, at last...
For the longest moments he just held her, both of them trembling, both of them so needy. Their mouths were within a breath of each other's. Her heart thundered in her body, proclaiming her alive and wanting to be nothing more than a woman in love. His own answering heartbeat was a fast stroke against her chest, setting off even more flutters inside her stomach when he whispered unsteadily, "My choice, too, Scully... to love you too much to see you die because of me. My choice to keep you safe and warm, for as long as I can. I can't bear to face a future without you but if I knew you were safe I'd at least be able to bear the thought of separation. If I can set you free of all this, knowing you're as far away from it as can be... then I can find a way toward a solution to ridding your body of its invader and you can live that life you so richly deserve."
Oh, God, Mulder. He still didn't get it.
Scully slipped her arms from around his neck and her hands came to rest against his face, holding him still as she vowed, "YOU are what I deserve, Mulder. Please don't do this to me. Don't stack the bricks any higher. Please. Don't build a wall; I'll only knock it down. I may only have a week. Maybe a whole year. Maybe a miracle will happen and I'll find myself burdened with a lifetime. However much I have left, please share it with me. If you love me, be with me. Give me something to take with me when I go, regardless if that day comes tomorrow or thirty years from now." Fresh tears trickled down her face; she let them fall, unwilling to release him long enough to wipe them away.
In the end, it was Mulder who wiped the tears from her face... with his lips.
He never said another word, though she knew his brain was still working furiously, trying to find some kind of emotional loophole. She could accept that kind of self-destruction as long as he let her restore whatever he tried to destroy. But for now, it was enough that he finally seemed to understand.
In their dusty basement office he pulled her into his arms, into his lap. Silence floated through the air, broken by an occasional sigh and a softly-uttered moan, as he held her, kissed her. At last, he kissed her...
Velvet-soft and smooth, those warm lips moving over hers, tasting, teasing. This time the tease was more than welcome. She went very still in his arms; let herself experience the wonder of kissing Mulder. She opened her heart even as she opened her mouth and invited him in; loving the way his tongue curled against hers and the wet of it slaked a thirst she'd been developing, it seemed for years. Wondering what it would feel like to be held, kissed, loved, by this man... and now she was about to find out.
His arms clasped her tightly, his body was hot and hard against hers. His hands stroked over every inch of her he could reach, his sigh was sweet in her ear and her answering moan sounded too loud, but he smiled as he kissed her and the quiet chuckle of delight that vibrated deep in his throat told her he liked to hear the way he affected her. The kiss deepened, lengthened, now hard, now a little rough... endless. Delicious. Perfect.
She was trembling but she'd never felt stronger, more alive, more vital. And every brick he'd erected that week, this day, went tumbling to the floor and lay in a rubble of uselessness as their hands caressed over shoulders, breast and sides, down to where he pressed large and steely against her damp center and around to the straining muscles of his lower back. She slipped a hand into the waistband of his wool slacks and he bit a groan into her neck; she found a spot of smooth, vulnerable skin and the bite of her nails right there sent a hard shudder through him.
One word, her name, and it was better than an entire litany of romantic prose spilled into her ear. Thick with need and raspy with emotion, his voice did things to her that nobody else had ever managed to accomplish with their whole bodies. Every man she'd ever known faded into nothingness, each relationship she'd had in her past crumbled into dust and joined the mountain of fallen bricks, there on the floor at their feet.
Only the faint sound of an elevator ping outside their office filtered through the inevitability of intimacy, either in his chair or on their desk. Like water flung in the face, that ping brought them out of a sensual fog, enough to comprehend where they were and what they'd been about to do. Mulder released her lips and buried his hot face in her neck; she could feel him struggling for control. Likewise she gulped in several fortifying breaths as she rested in his arms and her shaking eased.
"We need to get out of here." He wrapped both arms around her and stood up unsteadily, holding her in front of him like a baby. "You need rest, Scully. You're not ready for this -"
The words got clogged in his throat by the hand she clapped over his mouth. She growled at him, "I thought we had gotten past this, Mulder. If not, let me refrain: I want you. Now, or at your place - or mine, doesn't matter - but make no mistake. I love you. That's our truth. It's not my illness or your quest or how much you or I have lost. It's not anything to do with the career move I never made or the one I chose that sometimes does damage to you, or to me. It has everything to do with just us and the love I know we have for each other. That's all. That's enough, don't you think? Do you really want to rebuild that goddamn wall, Mulder? After what we just experienced together, can you?"
His head fell forward in defeat and hit her shoulder; she could feel the dampness on his cheek. "No. I can't. But like the masochist I am I suppose I just can't resist asking, can I? And if you'd never told me I would have dammed myself up and died a bitter, lonely man without knowing the taste of you, the utter good of you. So, no. The only thing I want to build at this moment is a transport beam, so we can get ourselves to your apartment PDQ..."
She could feel the relieved laugh boil up and she let it fly, rich and happy in the quiet room. She squeezed him tightly and he returned it with enthusiasm, before helping her to gain her feet and holding onto her arm as she steadied herself. When she stared up into his eyes she saw eager light and no more shadows, not even a hint of self doubt.
She laced her fingers through his and pulled him toward the door. "Let's go back to my place, Mulder. I've got a larger bed."
Part Two - Mulder
The sheets were pale peach, with tiny green leaves scattered everywhere. Intensely feminine, they didn't seem to echo Agent Scully, but they certainly fit Dana. A down feather ticking pad beneath the soft cotton made a body sink into the mattress; plumpedup pillows filled with goose feathers invited the head to rest on a cloud.
Mulder only noticed these things on a peripheral plane. Weeks later he would think back on the luxury of Scully's bed, and remember the peach, the leaves, the soft downy mattress and pillows. Right now he only had eyes for the slender woman who stood before him, easing herself out of a black suit that seemed a size too big for her delicate frame.
She'd lost weight. He hadn't wanted to admit it to himself. She looked as if a puff of breeze would blow her over... but he knew under that pale skin and bird-like bones, the heart of a lioness beat, strong and true.
Mulder intended to be there for every beat of that dear heart.
His shaking fingers fought with the buttons of his shirt, with the zipper of his slacks. He wore ten thumbs on each hand; he was nervous and horny and as enflamed with desire as he was afraid. Afraid he was dreaming. Afraid his passion would overwhelm her, hurt her. Afraid he'd reveal himself as being too needy. Afraid she'd find something unattractive on his body.
He had scars, healing bruises, ancient irregularities all over his skin. His knees were knobby, his calves too thin. His nose too large, and his feet too big. He'd stare at himself in the mirror and often thought that when God passed out his looks, He'd really intended to split them between maybe six other baby boys. He must have gotten sidetracked...
Then he'd see the way Scully looked at him. He'd bask in the warmth of his mother's smile. And he understood that whatever his physical shortcomings, the women who were important in his life didn't see what he saw when he looked in the mirror. And he'd have to smile himself.
He peeled off wool and silk, shrugged out of cotton and kicked off leather. Stood naked and more vulnerable than he'd ever felt in his entire life. In the cool air of her bedroom, the blinds closed and one small lamp glowing, Mulder waited while Scully stopped tugging off her own clothes and her eyes traveled all over him, from the top of his tousled hair to the long toes curling in her thick carpet. Her eyes took in the breadth of his shoulders as if she'd never noticed them before; they glanced down his arms and slid over his chest, down to his groin, where they lingered, and lingered...
Her soft, heartfelt, "Oh, Mulder..." brought a huge grin to his face. When she took a step closer, reached out a finger and trailed it over his arm, down to his hand, twining her fingers through his, squeezing them, smiling at him... it was the single most joyous moment he'd ever had, up until this amazing day.
Then he took her in his arms; felt the way her small frame fit so well against his much-larger one, and found new amazement.
Oh, it certainly wasn't the first time he'd ever held her. But it was their first embrace as lovers, and that made all the difference. Now his body could react freely; in the past he'd always had to hold himself in tight check. Now he could let his muscles relax, revel in the way she melted against him, molded to him. With only the barrier of her blouse and skirt between them, still he felt the heat of her, the very alive of her.
Three seconds later he slipped those barriers from her body and groaned at the indescribable delight of her soft bare skin touching his.
Slipping his hands under her cheeks, Mulder lifted her up and carried her three short steps to the bed, sinking down with her onto the down-covered mattress. She shivered and he obligingly gave her his body as a blanket; his action only served to cause more shivers. He slowly wound his legs around hers, pressed himself into the slight cradle of her hips, rocked her gently against him, torturing them both. He couldn't hold back a bark of laughter and another groan of pure lust when her hands dug into his arms demandingly and she pulled him down, closer. She huffed out a mock-indignant growl at his amusement and bit his neck.
Mulder stopped laughing in a hurry.
Where their skins met there was heat, damp, glorious heat. When their lips met Mulder could swear this time he felt sparks fly between them. More intense than anything he'd ever experienced; more needy, more passionate. Because this was love. And love made all the difference.
His mouth roamed her, one lovely spot of skin at a time. The bend of her inner arm. The pale ridge of her collarbone. The fluttery pulse of her wrist; the sweet crease behind her knee. He tasted both small, firm breasts and knew he'd never be able to choose between them; he sipped at the tenderness of one perfect earlobe and nibbled on her third rib.
She giggled, ticklish. The sound delighted him.
He trailed an ardent tongue over her slight stomach, across the dainty navel, dipping briefly there, before seeking out more shadowed places, more deeper flavors. And he smiled into her soft hair when he probed in just the right way and her gasp broke the silence and her fingers gripped his scalp. In that moment, he knew he'd found the only home he'd ever desire.
He wanted to stay there. Wanted to live there, forever. Knew Scully would want the same thing as he.
The love Mulder made to her was the stuff of his deepest dreams; up until that moment he'd not dared to admit it to himself. That he not only dreamed of her but had dreamed of loving her the way she deserved to be loved. Dreamed of cherishing her, adoring her. To know he could now touch her, hold her, and it was what she wanted, as well... to know she loved him, needed him... If nothing else blasted those bricks from the wall he'd attempted to build, in his misguided notion that he was protecting her... that knowledge did it.
The same wall he'd left stamped into the floor of their basement office.
Mulder kept his eyes open and focused in on her beautiful face as he moved within her body, and watched the sun rise in her eyes when she cried out, when she came. Seconds later his own release shook him to his very core as it bathed her with his heat, his very essence.
He fell asleep in her arms with the taste of her on his tongue and her soft breath in his ear.
A week later she was back in the hospital and Mulder's world was plunged into darkness once again.
In a way it was better and in a much deeper way, so very worse. Better because now he felt as if he truly belonged at her side for reasons beyond just that of being her partner, and he really needed to be near her. Worse because he felt all of her pain, all of her anguish and her worry, her fright... and he'd have given anything in the world for the ability to take it from her. Love made him strong and it also decimated his heart, for she was slipping away and he could do nothing to stop it. He had no defense against it, for once that wall came down the expertise needed to reconstruct it was gone as well. He had no protection for her except his love. He could only pray very hard that it would be enough. Could only hope it would sustain her while he fought his way toward a cure, a solution, a reprieve.
He came into her room in the wee black hours of the morning and knelt at her bedside as she slept, her face pale on the pillow. He clasped her hand and cried against her fingers, great ripping sobs breaking from his aching chest. Like a small child who had lost his way, Mulder huddled there, crying for all he'd found and all he stood a chance of losing. Her caring ways, her friendship, her abiding love. A future with her, that most of all. The singular honor of having her there with him, all throughout his lifetime; eternity might just have been enough. If that lifetime had a condition of friendship only, he'd have sacrificed all, to just have her alive. If it meant staying away, he'd have found a way to summon the strength to do just that.
To see her live a healthy and long life... whatever it took.
Instead he curled on the floor against her side of the bed and held her hand while he sobbed himself into a fitful doze. And in the breaking dawn of that same day he awoke to find her staring at him, her eyes shadowed with weary smudges and her pale lips trembling into a smile. She reached out her free hand and traced the tear-tracks on his cheek; he kissed that hand and then her mouth. Without a single word spoken between them, they reaffirmed, recommitted, renewed. She moved over in the bed and Mulder kicked off his shoes and slipped in beside her, under the covers. He wrapped himself around her and held her until she fell asleep again.
Part Three - Together
The teakettle whistled and she jumped a little, then got to her feet and padded to the kitchen, snapping off the heat. She poured boiling water over a teabag and let it steep in the heavy pottery mug, then checked on the contents of a simmering stock pot, adding a few more bay leaves and stirring the thick soup. Glancing at the clock she realized he'd be home any minute.
Scully hurried into the bathroom and splashed water on her face, eradicating all evidence of the tears she'd been shedding. No need to let him know that sometimes she sat and cried, once in a while. He'd only worry about her, and truly she was fine. A cliche to be sure, but nevertheless true. She really was fine.
It was just, once in a while, Dana Scully allowed herself to remember, to think about where she'd been and how she'd gotten to her current place in life. It grounded her. It made her humble and it kept her honest. She smiled a little at the notion she borrowed something that Mulder had said to her years ago. However painful her past, it had given her a future and for that she'd forever be grateful.
Back in the kitchen, she squeezed out her teabag and added a touch of lemon, a tiny sprinkle of sugar. She'd long ago given up the artificial sweetener, the tofu and the fake bacon. These days she enjoyed food in all its many varieties, and she took a few extra vitamins in the morning. She ran an extra mile in the evening. And she was still small and delicate, still light on her feet and narrow through the shoulders.
And she could still kick serious ass.
She'd drained half the cup, stirred the soup once more and had pulled the pot off the burner by the time the front door opened and the sound of heavy footsteps stomping snow on the hall doormat roused a wide smile on her face. Scully placed her mug in the sink and ran into the other room, flinging herself into the arms of the man who caught her in mid-air, still wearing his overcoat and gloves. He pressed a cold nose into her neck, making her shriek.
"Mulder! Stop that! Your nose is freezing!"
He rubbed at her neck with gusto, loving the way she wriggled in his arms. "Well, who jumped me before I could even shut the damn door, baby? Let go of me. I've got a shitload of stuff in the car and I need to get it in before it starts snowing harder. The sky looks very mean."
She slipped from his arms and peeked out the window. He was right; it was coming down fast already. Nodding, she opened the hall closet door and retrieved her jacket; shoved her feet into boots. "I'll help you -"
A small voice at the door interrupted her. "Don't worry, Mom; I got it. There's not that much. Dad exaggerates, as usual."
She smiled down at the flushed face of her son, his hair covered by a dark woolen cap and his little nose red from the cold. She placed a hand on his cheek; it was icy. "William, you're as frozen as your father! What did you guys do, hang out in the parking lot lobbing snowballs at each other after you bought out the store?"
When they both grinned at her, identical wide smiles in nearlyidentical faces, Scully sighed and resumed dressing. Pushing them both in the direction of the kitchen, she tugged mittens out of her pockets and instructed them, "There's hot soup on the stove. Next time you two decide to fight with snow, why don't you do it in your own back yard? God knows, we have enough snow. We won't run out."
Twin male snickers followed her out the door. She chuckled a bit herself, and opened the back of the van; pulled out several bags. Standing in the driveway with snow falling and the daylight slowly turning to dusk all around her, Scully lifted her face to the sky and let those soft flakes touch down on her lashes... and once again marveled at the quirks of fate that had formed her past, strengthened her present and guaranteed her future.
And as she walked back up the sidewalk with laden arms, she blessed the walls that had tumbled down, once a long time ago.
Thanks for reading! Watching the level of MSR on "Redux" always makes me melt -
I'd love to hear from you, email me! email@example.com Please visit my web site! http://char.chaffin.com
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