TITLE: Walking Away 3: Unexpected Visitor AUTHOR: ScamBeliever
EMAIL ADDRESS: firstname.lastname@example.org DISTRIBUTION STATEMENT: Anywhere, sure. :) RATING: PG
CLASSIFICATION: S, A, S POV
SPOILER WARNING: Milagro
SUMMARY: Scully gives in at the wrong time. DISCLAIMER: CC, let me play.
FEEDBACK: Pretty please? :)
"Difficult not to feel a little bit
Disappointed, passed over.
When I've looked right through,
To see you naked but oblivious
And you don't see me"
- 3 Libras by A Perfect Circle
The state where your face registers nothing because it's frozen by the thousand terrors your heart cannot possibly endure.
And yet she does. She tries to.
When Scully heard Mulder's door close, her mind snapped a couple of times before some of the cold fear finally seeped away. She eyed Mulder warily as he walked tentatively towards her, concern etched deep in his face. Her eyes started darting around nervously and she found out why.
She was sitting at the corner of his couch with her legs folded against her chest, her arms securing them tightly as half her face hid behind her knees - the smallest she could possibly be.
It doesn't take Mulder's Psychology degree to see through that.
She unfolded herself slowly to ease some of Mulder's concern. Then her eyes stung suddenly, making them water. She couldn't understand why until it hit her. She wasn't ready to move just yet. She wasn't ready to be fearless again.
She leaned forward and paused, breathing heavily as she tried to keep the tears at bay.
She felt Mulder's arms reach for her and she cringed, not wanting them. She grabbed his hand instead to stop him from fully holding her, squeezing his warm hand to reassure him that it was all she needed right now. No coddling. Just be there for her for a few more minutes. Thankfully, he only squeezed back in response.
"Can I get you anything Scully?" he asked softly after a couple of minutes of silence.
"Water? Change of clothes? Tuck you in?" he added smiling.
Mulder being Mulder. She couldn't help it but her lips were responding in kind.
He saw it. "All of the above then."
He was grinning now.
"Mulder..." she shook her bowed head, rolling her eyes eventhough he couldn't see her.
He removed his hand under her hold to slide it from her crown to her cheek. He peeked through the red curtain that hid her face. "Seriously Scully, do you need anything?"
"Water Mulder. Water would be good." she said through part of his palm, finally looking up to him. He watched her face for a second and nodded.
As soon as Mulder turned his back on her, she stood and went to his phone.
"Who are you calling?" Scully almost dropped the phone, not expecting him to be that fast. She mentally kicked herself. Did she expect him to boil the water first?
"C-Cab service." she answered. Three rings and they had not picked up yet.
In the middle of the fourth ring, it stopped. No dial tone.
She looked up and found Mulder right beside her, his finger over the plunger. What the - ?
"What are you doing?" she asked him as he took the receiver from her.
"Here you go." He ignored her question as he handed her the glass of water.
She took it, still processing what Mulder was up to. Drinking the water slowly, she watched him as he left her side to go to his bedroom. After hearing a few drawers being opened, she watched him return with a set of clothes.
"Mulder..." She shook her head in disbelief and lifted the receiver again.
The first ring didn't even finish. Sure enough, Mulder's forefinger was once again pressed on the plunger.
"Will you stop it?" It was the first time she had raised her voice all night.
"Scully, you can't be serious." His finger didn't budge and she was starting to get pissed off. She relished it. It was better than being afraid.
"Mulder, saying that the day had been horrible would be an understatement. I want to put this behind me and rest. I want to go home. To do that, I need a ride. But for some reason, you wouldn't let me get one."
He took the already empty glass from her. "Yes, you do need rest. You're welcome to my bed." His firm expression dropped for a moment as he realized how his words sounded out loud.
Scully heard both interpretations of his offer and stiffened. No, it was definitely not an option to consider.
"I appreciate your concern but I'd rather sleep in the one I have at home." She stepped away from him and reached for her cellphone in her pocket. But as soon as she had whipped it out, Mulder grabbed it and tossed it to the couch.
"Mulder!" She didn't need this right now, damnit!
"I am not going to leave you alone tonight. I'm not going to let you deal with this by yourself."
Scully was starting to see red. "You don't have a say in this. I WANT to be alone. For once, please don't make this be about you."
She didn't want to see his reaction and went around the coffee table to get her phone. Then she dialed again as she went for the door. She heard him follow her and whirled around.
"Don't you dare Mulder." she hissed and slammed the door shut.
As soon as the door closed, her determination crumbled immediately at the empty hall and at the sight of the door beside Mulder's. The phone pressed against her ear dropped to the floor and was instantly lost at the debris of her false bravery. Cold fear came back with such vengeance, spreading from the base of her spine and she couldn't move eventhough she desperately wanted to run as fast as her tired legs could carry her.
It felt like the hallway held too many doors, too many doorways that the stranger can hide behind.
Her mouth opened to a silent scream.
'My heart. My heart. My heart.' was what she kept begging for. She wanted it back.
The door to her right swung open. She jumped back, her fist clutched to her chest.
'Not my heart.' Her eyes wailed what her mouth couldn't voice. It hurt to plead so openly and she couldn't stop the tears. The more she became aware that she was crying and needed to pull herself together, the more she couldn't stop herself.
The stranger touched her face and she couldn't move.
'This cannot be happening again.' Her mind screamed in terror.
Her vision cleared at the familiar voice. Grounding voice.
Mulder was cradling her face as gently as his big clumsy hands could. He ducked his head, peering at her eyes as he willed her to see him. She blinked and he was still there. Still Mulder.
He saw it when it finally dawned on her. He could also see how her eyes gradually started pulling away. Before Scully could fully recover and have the sense to push away, Mulder pulled her back in his apartment. Through her confusion, she somehow sensed him fighting the urge to pick her up right then and there.
They went past the living room...past the bathroom...
Scully had yet to register what was happening until she felt Mulder's arms leave her, making her feel unprotected. She watched Mulder pull down the covers of his bed. When he tugged on her arm, it was only then her mind made a resounding snap in her head.
She shook her head 'no.'
"You're not ready to go yet, Scully." He whispered so low she almost didn't hear it.
Those words should've ticked her off again. Only Mulder wasn't patronizing her, he was begging. That stopped her from backing away.
Mulder could be unreasonably stubborn when he's in 'overprotective mode.' Whenever she didn't relent on his requests to take it easy, whenever she ended up hurt in one of their cases, he'd usually throw a fit that would put a brat to shame and never resorted to begging.
When he tugged her closer to his bed, she didn't fight him.
"I won't be able to sleep." She had a hundred protests when Mulder pulled the blanket up to her shoulder but she was only able to voice that inconsequential one.
"Just rest your eyes then." He smoothed her hair and she felt like a child again. She buried her face deep in the pillow, fighting the urge to cry for the nth time that night.
"You don't have to stay with me." She choked out, bracing herself for another squandered request.
"I'll be right outside if you need me." And Scully exhaled, thankful.
The bed rose slightly as she felt him move away. After she was sure Mulder was out of the room, she turned to the other side, away from the doorway. She pushed her face as deep into the pillow as she could go to silence the sob that was forcefully pushing its way up from her chest.
She was at the church again.
But this time, she was standing in front of a mirror instead of the painting of the Divine Mercy. She watched her own image touch her necklace, her eyes following her fingers as it slid from the chain down to her...pendant?
The Milagro replaced her cross, which clashed against her pale skin and her gold necklace.
"It suits you."
Her eyes flew back to her face in the mirror and she gasped as she found Padgett right behind her. Scully wanted to pull her gun but she stood frozen at his unwavering gaze. He reached over her shoulder and lovingly touched the skin surrounding the pendant. She cringed at the contact, but she couldn't move even if her life depended on it.
The caress became rubbing and then scratching. Then to her horror, she watched him dig into her flesh, right over her heart.
He was trying to get her heart.
"Nooooooooooooo!" She tried to grab his hand but his fingers had sunk too deep. Blood was gushing down her clothes. She shut her eyes and pulled on his hand with all her might.
She felt Padgett shake her through his buried hand. 'Oh God, please let go.' she pleaded as the shaking became more intense. Excruciatingly painful.
"Come on Scully. I will not let you go until you wake up!"
Her eyes opened to find Mulder's face inches from hers. Her hands were clutching the blanket to her chest. She frantically felt for her necklace, making sure she still had her cross.
"God Scully, what happened?"
Padgett was trying to take her heart again. Stealing her heart.
"I was...dreaming." was all she could say.
"If that was just a dream, I don't want to know what happens when you have a nightmare." He was rubbing her cold, cold hands, trying to gently ease their hold on the blanket.
"Are you all right?" He was trying to calm her, but his hands shook when he tucked a lock of her hair behind her ear.
"Were you here the whole time?" she asked, ignoring his question because she didn't have the energy to carry a lie.
"No, I was sleeping on the couch and then I heard you scream." She cringed. She never liked it when people saw her become afraid. Especially Mulder. She never wanted Mulder see her lose it.
"I'm sorry I woke you."
"It's okay. Of course it's fine as long as you're okay. You are okay, right?"
"I'm...I'm better now."
Something touched her forehead. Only then did she realize that she had unconsciously leaned her head against his chest. Before she could pull back, Mulder had already held on her tight and moved so that he was against the headboard.
It seemed wrong to her. She couldn't just let him be a personified sponge to her pain and fear.
She wanted to pull away but she was so goddamn scared she was having a hard time to breathe. Mulder rocked her as she buried her face to his chest. She shook and shuddered as she kept trying to control her sob.
"It's okay Scully."
She was soaking his shirt but neither one of them cared. Scully felt she had been crying forever.
Exhaustion finally took over after what seemed like hours. And the last thing she vaguely remembered before she slept was of Mulder sliding them down the bed and pulling the blanket over them.
When she opened her eyes again, it took her a few moments to realize where she was. She was staring at her own image at the ceiling.
Of course she didn't have a mirror above her bed, so this wasn't her room.
Mulder has one?
Then she watched in surprise as Mulder's reflection shifted and reached for her. Without waking, he pulled her closer, draping an arm and leg over her.
"He cannot guard your heart from me." came a voice from the foot of the bed.
Scully bolted upright at the voice of the Stranger.
But no one was there. Only darkness.
She breathed heavy breaths to calm her pounding heart. Maybe it was better if she stayed awake for the rest of the night. She'll sleep when she's home.
She wanted to sneak away without waking Mulder, only to find there was no need. Mulder was not beside her on the bed. She blinked and looked up at the ceiling. She was alone.
She was still wondering when her dream actually ended when she heard Mulder's voice outside the room. She got up from the bed to know what was going on.
"...I thought she was dead. There was blood seeping out her blouse and neck..."
"Is she all right?" Scully froze near the doorway. When she heard Mulder's voice, she thought he was talking on the phone. Apparently, someone had visited.
"I don't know." Mulder answered.
"You don't know? She's alive isn't she?" Scully heard something hit a glass, like someone stirring a drink.
"She's alive. But I don't know if she's...well." That made Scully grit her teeth. She's well. She will be well.
"What do you mean?" Scully leaned closer.
"I don't know." There was a pause and Scully could imagine Mulder passing a hand over his eyes tiredly.
"Scully can shut me out so completely sometimes, I have no idea if she IS okay. Oh she's shaken all right, but come tomorrow, she wouldn't ever broach the subject again."
"Maybe that's how she deals with it, Fox. Maybe it's best that you leave her alone."
"But that's what she always does!" Mulder hissed. "You have no idea how frustrating it is." His voice had lowered immediately, conscious that the subject of their concern is just a few feet away.
"That may be. But you have got to let her heal the way she's accustomed to. That's who she is. She's not like most people who would look for someone to turn to."
"Well it's time she should." he spat back.
"Fox-" Scully felt the tiny hairs at the back of her neck rise at Diana's tone. Inappropriately patronizing.
"She doesn't want to. She doesn't need you."
"I know that." Mulder's voice sounded irritable.
Tense silence. Either Diana didn't know what else to say or Mulder is still angry about his admittance.
"Fox..." Diana starts cautiously. "...maybe at times like this, you should keep your distance." Scully heard someone shift uncomfortably in his or her chair.
"Maybe you should realize that sometimes, what happens to Dana is not about you."
Scully caught her gasp before it escaped her lips. In her panic and fury, she had uttered almost the exact words to Mulder earlier. She never realized how harsh those words sounded.
A loud screech of a chair being suddenly pushed back announced that someone was furious. Then clatter and running water. Scully peered at the doorway and saw Mulder's back at her, cleaning what must be his cup. Diana was watching him, waiting out Mulder's version of a tantrum.
After a few minutes, Diana stood up and went to Mulder. She leaned on the counter, setting down her cup on it. She watched Mulder wash his own cup repeatedly.
"Fox..." her voice softer. "...how about you? How are you holding up?" she asked, injecting the right amount of sympathy in her voice. Soothing his back without laying a hand on him. Scully felt like she was watching a skilled actress at her element.
"You've been talking about Dana's condition and neglected to tell me yours."
The running water stopped. Scully bet his cup was 99.99% germ free. He gave a terse answer that Scully couldn't quite make out and then stalked out of the kitchen.
Scully ducked behind the wall, flattening her body against it. She watched the bedroom's darkness as she tried to think about Mulder's muffled answer. It sounded like "Depends on how Scully is."
Something in that context.
She leaned her head back and closed her eyes. If she heard him right, f*, she had no idea how to deal with that.
Her uneasy reverie was broken when she heard Mulder's door open. Diana must be leaving.
She carefully took a peek just in time to see Diana lean forward to kiss Mulder goodbye. From her viewpoint, Scully couldn't tell where Diana kissed Mulder exactly, if he enjoyed it, and/or reciprocated.
"Thanks for checking up on us, Diana."
"I always check on yo-" Then she stopped at mid-sentence. Scully hid behind the wall again in alarm. Why did Diana stop?
"Us? She's here?" Diana asked, her voice just a tad lower than what most would say as incredulous. Scully was surprised Diana hadn't figured that part out.
"Yes." Mulder answered simply.
"She needs to rest, Diana. She doesn't have to go all the way back to Georgetown tonight."
"How long are you letting her stay?" She made it sound that Scully begged Mulder to let her spend the night.
Both Diana and Scully waited for his answer. Both of them frowned for different reasons when Mulder took his time.
"As long as she'd like." he finally said.
After a pregnant pause, Scully heard the scrape of heels as Diana turned to leave. Then silence.
Diana had one last question.
"It wasn't her idea to stay, was it?"
Then the heels tapped slowly away.
"Goodnight Diana." Mulder called after her before he finally closed the door.
Scully scrambled back to bed as quietly as she could. She flipped to face the opposite of the door. She held her breath when she felt Mulder's presence as he hovered at the doorway.
Scully didn't know which had been worse: having two nightmares in one night or having woken up from them.
It didn't make sense that she was standing in front of a door she now feared more than the one beside it. The true reason that brought her there was even more questionable.
How Mulder would react when he sees her there is only one among a dozen other things that she was fighting to keep her feet from running to the elevator.
She was already gone when Mulder woke up that morning, leaving him an impersonal note that she had gone to her mother's and that she would call him later.
She didn't call and she was quite sure Mulder was getting frantic. She knew that hurt. When she checked her voice mail and her machine, he didn't leave a single message.
That hurt even more.
She stood by her phone for about fifteen minutes pondering what it meant.
Why she didn't call, why he didn't and why it was painful.
Scully didn't know if resolution is what she wanted when she decided to go to his apartment. Maybe it's time to stop denying what she kept ignoring for the past six years. Maybe it's about time she took the risk and accepted the hundred silent offers that Mulder had been placing at her feet, which she had been stepping over, acting as if she didn't see them.
Maybe it's her turn to knock on his door and ask him to take her in.
So she did.
They just stood there for a while just staring at each other. Scully tried not to squirm when Mulder didn't offer for her to come in. She didn't blame him if he was angry.
Finally, Mulder broke the silence.
"Is there anything wrong, Scully?" he asked.
"No." she assured him quickly. She broke eye contact and took a quick glance at the elevator, thinking if it was too late to run.
"I, uh, just wanted to tell you...I'm fine." she said, awkwardly addressing her shoes.
"You could've called." Right. Of course he had a reason to be pissed.
"I know. I'm sorry for not calling." Her eyes gravitated towards Padgett's door. She swallowed hard.
"I was scared." she whispered.
Apparently, it was the right thing to confess because Mulder immediately softened, reaching out and pulling her tightly against him. She felt almost completely swallowed, as Mulder seemed to try to cocoon her with his body.
Any other time, she would've pulled away discreetly, not wanting to feel so vulnerable. Now she didn't.
Maybe it's time to let Mulder hold her the way he wanted to.
The way she wanted to.
She shifted without making Mulder loosen his arms so that she can look up at his face. He looked back down.
Sometimes she wondered how she was able to string intelligent thoughts when he looked at her so intensely.
Habit, she guessed. She ignored it for so long, kept denying it was anything at all. Maybe it's time she took notice.
She stood on her toes and lightly brushed her lips on his.
It was brief but a freefall risk nonetheless. She watched his face carefully as she settled her heels back down. His eyes bore into hers, switching from her left to right eye, a crease forming between his brows.
Something was wrong.
She panicked and pulled away but Mulder caught her arm before she could get any farther.
They both froze.
"Who's at the door?"
It seemed like an hour before Mulder answered as he let go of Scully's arm. "It's Scully."
The door opened wider and Diana fitted herself under the doorway beside Mulder.
"Agent Scully. I'm glad to see you're doing fine. I heard what happened."
Scully made an effort to give a steady answer. "Thank you. I'm fine."
Diana nodded then turned to Mulder. "I'm just going to make us some coffee." And without waiting for Mulder's answer, she padded away to the kitchen.
Padded. She was barefoot.
"I'm sorry for disturbing you." Scully said as soon as Diana was out of earshot. "I'll see you tomorrow."
Mulder caught her arm once again before she could take one step.
When she dared to look at him, she found him looking extremely uncomfortable. Scully thought uncomfortable doesn't even cover what she felt right now.
"Why did you come here?"
Nothing. She came here for nothing.
"To thank you. For last night. For...letting me stay."
He watched her face, trying to see the truth. Trying to believe her.
He stepped forward.
Five minutes ago, they had been comfortable in their embrace. Now, Mulder was invading personal space. Too close for comfort.
"Was that just a 'thank you' too?" His eyes flicked to her lips.
Scully stepped back.
"Yes Mulder, it was."
Then Scully managed the incredible feat of leaving him without running.
END Unexpected Visitor
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