Winds of Change,The

by Pattie

Title: The Winds of Change

Author: Pattie

Rated: PG. All you under 13's get to sleep.

Category: Story, Humor, Holiday Fic.

Spoiler(s): Season 6.

Summary: Mulder treats Scully to a New Year's Eve non-date a week after those ghosts scared 'em.

Archive: Gossamer. Others, please ask. I'm usually agreeable.

Feedback: trish59@444.net

Disclaimer: Borrowed for a while, returned unharmed. Chris Carter, Ten Thirteen Productions and Fox Studios deserve the credit for them, I didn't get money, usually don't, and I'm trying not to step into territory which is copyrighted. Isn't it enough that I didn't mention what beer they're drinking? No, not on your Blue Miller Michelob Schlitz life! It's Mulder time.

2360 HEGAL PLACE
ALENANDRIA, VA
DECEMBER 31, 1998

8:12 AM

Maybe it had been a mistake to take Scully on a visit to a house customarily haunted at Christmas by the ghosts of two people who had died in a murder/suicide pact. Mulder felt guilty that Scully had been scared nearly to death, and had been delayed by one night for her Christmas with the family. On top of that, they had agreed not to exchange presents in previous years, but they did so anyway.

Somehow, this year had been different. They had had so many experiences together, so many pieces of the Conspiracy puzzle uncovered, and so much time spent together. He wanted to make it up to her this New Year's Eve. She had been back in Georgetown on the twenty-eighth, anyway. Would it do any harm to spend one of their last evenings of vacation ringing in the New Year? Of course not. After all, it wasn't as if she was dating anyone... Well, if she had been dating someone, she wouldn't have put off Christmas Eve with a date to spend Christmas Eve at a haunted house, or driving alone off to her brother's house.

Mulder didn't really have anything to do on New Year's Eve. It might be nice to spend it with a crowd of happy people. It night be enjoyable spending it with Scully. He wasn't really doing anything that night, except watching the ball drop in Times Square on the network, and that had become a boring routine for him. Every year, another night at home. He was either researching some mysterious phenomenon, sighting, or freak of nature, or staying awake half the night counting his regrets of the past years. Heck. Why was he kidding himself? He wanted to ring in the New Year with Scully, about his only friend who wasn't eccentric.

By 10:15 a.m., Mulder decided to call Scully. The worst thing that could happen would be her saying 'no', he figured. "Why not give it a shot." He picked up the phone on his desk and dialed Scully's apartment, fidgeting a bit with the window blind. It looked like the bright sky was slowly clouding over, After five rings, he heard her voice.

Scully had already done her chores and was finishing folding laundry. "Scully."

"Scully, it's me. Are you busy?" Why ask right away, when it was easier to make some small talk. Besides, he could ask about her plans for that night after some small talk.

"Not really, Mulder. I'm just going to take it easy today after that unusual Christmas Eve, driving down to Bill's, all the holiday frenzy." She thought for a moment. "You haven't got some case up your sleeve have you?"

"Uh, no. Actually, I am being very good, Scully. I was just wondering how you were."

"I'm fine, Mulder. I had a really good visit with Mom, and Tara and Bill are doing very well. Uh, were you okay after I left?"

"Yeah, uh, I think I had a pretty quiet Christmas Day,"

"But? Mulder, you're sounding a bit edgy. Is everything all right?" Scully folded the last of her pants and set them on her couch.

"Yes, I'm fine. Look, if you're not doing anything for New Year's Eve, how about we go have a few drinks and ring in the New Year?"

"Seriously? Sure, Mulder. Where would you like me to meet you?"

"Did you say, I'm sorry, I thought you said, 'Sure'."

"Yes. I did. So, where?"

"I was thinking I could pick you up. There a nice little place in my neighborhood. Maybe dinner, then the party hats and all that."

"You are serious. Okay. Well, how about eight o'clock?"

Mulder was elated, but couldn't let it show in his voice. He was a bit nervous after the way he had spent some New Year's Eves with previous female friends. "Eight it is. You don't have to go all out formal or anything."

Scully was quite amused by this nervousness, but she was puzzled as to this sudden enthusiasm to celebrate the occasion with her. "I'll be ready. It beats watching it on TV alone, anyway. I don't mean... Well, I mean thanks."

"See you tonight." After he hung up, he thought it over. "Well, it's not as if it's a date or anything", he told no one in particular. "I'm having a few drinks with my partner, who's also a friend, and... it's okay."


7:52 PM
DANA SCULLY'A APARTMENT
GEOGETOWN, DC

Scully had chosen a tasteful navy blue suit, with a slightly low cut blouse. She treated herself to a string of pearls. As she was putting the finishing touches to her lipstick, there was a knock at the door."Coming." When she opened the door, there was Mulder in his business suit. "Hey. c'mon in. Has it started to snow yet?"

"No. Uhh, I thought we agreed this was going to be informal."

"I could say the same to you, Mulder. I just thought I may as well dress up just a little. After all, it's New Year's Eve."

"Yeah, I kind of figured it's not exactly a blue jeans affair. So, are we ready to go?"

"Yes. I'll get my coat." She went to her room and Mulder was starting to have second thoughts about this. What if Scully saw this as a date? Sure, dating her had crossed his mind, but that would ruin a perfectly good friendship. It might even make their partnership at the Bureau very awkward, if not impossible. "Okay, let me just turn the answering machine on. Now, I'm ready." She saw Mulder staring off into space. "Mulder? I said I'm ready."

"Oh. Sorry. My car's right out front."


As they drove to Alexandria, heavy snow began to fall.

"Are you sure you want to be out on a night like this?" Mulder inquired.

"Well, Mulder, we're almost there, aren't we? It's New Year's. The forecast called for flurries. It's not like it's a blizzard. Relax."

The closer they were to Alexandria, the heavier the snow was. Since there had been a heavy snowfall on Christmas Eve, there were rather large snowbanks on the edge of the road, and the driving was becoming difficult, but they did get into Alexandria safely, and found a parking spot close enough to Percy's Bar.

Mulder held the door open for Scully as they entered the establishment. Most of the patrons were dressed festively, although certainly not formally, so Scully didn't feel overly-dressed. They found a small table and Mulder took Scully's coat.

"Jerry? Two beers."

"Mulder! Haven't seen you around much lately. Now I think I know why!" The young man winked at Scully and drew them some draft. "There you go. You must be this Scully person he talks about."

Before Mulder could say anything, Scully jumped in. "We work together," she said with a smile. "If you know what I mean." And then she shocked Mulder by winking.

The bartender walked away laughing.

Mulder was quite uncomfortable with Scully's behavior. "What was that all about?"

"C'mon, Mulder. Have a sense of humor. I was just playing along. Besides, it's the Holidays, remember?"

"Yeah. I seem to remember the rumor mill at work, too."

"Oh, don't look so serious. You asked me to celebrate with you, and I intend to enjoy the evening. So, lightem up a bit, Mulder! And you thought I was such as stuffed shirt. Sit back and enjoy. There's a hockey game on."

"Yeah, I know. I'm more a basketball fan, but you go ahead."

After a couple of more beers, and a spaghetti dinner, it was 11:16, and someone had changed channels to the ABC outlet in preparation for the "Rockin' New Year's Eve."

"So, any regrets, Scully?"

"About what?"

"About anything you did in the past year, I guess."

"No, not really. Well, maybe a couple. I should have seen through Phillip Padget sooner. It would have saved another life."

"And possible embarassment, I think."

"About..."

"He said you were already in love."

"Well, I don't really believe he knew everything about me or his villain in the stories, Mulder. It's not as if he knew anything about me--except what he may have observed when he lived in my neighborhood, or my about religious practices."

"So, you were already in love," Mulder repeated. He was leaning with his hand on his chin, elbow on the table.

Scully smirked awkwardly. "I didn't say that, Mulder. He did.If I was, I think I would know it. Anyway, I don't have a 'real life', do I?"

Mulder took a swig of beer. "That could change, you know."

"What about you, Mulder? Any regrets over this year? Please, tell me you regret something, or don't regret something. Lately, you've been a little quiet about those things."

"Okay. I don't regret taking you out to that haunted house last week. Let me make that perfectly clear. And, I don't regret living together under cover in the Falls of Arcadia, as messy as that case turned out to be. I do regret the fungus case. Just thinking about nearly being digested by that fungus makes me sick. Okay, I do regret not having done this sooner and more often. You know, a lot of agents do socialize with their partners. Even if most of them are paired up with other guys."

"Well, that's a compliment, Mulder. Thank you. That was sweet."

"Either that or a sign that I've had a bit too much to drink. Excuse me a minute."

As Mulder made his way to the men's room, Scully called out to the bartender. "Two more, Jerry! And, uh, bring us a bottle of champagne at midnight." She slipped the waitress money and said, "Tell Jerry not a word to Mulder. My treat."

"Sure. Do you mind if I ask you someting?"

"Go shead."

"You two never date, do you?"

"Never," Scully said sadly. "Too busy with work. I don't know if we should date each other, either. Heck, what am I saying?"

"Too bad." The waitress patted Scully on the back and served some other people.

"Yeah, too bad." Scully sipped her beer and glanced at the TV screen. "Half an hour till more of the same," she whispered.

"What was that?" Mulder was sitting once more.

"I was just noticing how Dick Clark never seems to change, like a lot of things."

"Oh. Well, here's to good company."

"Cheers. Tell me, Mulder. Why did you bring me here?"

He hadn't expected her to ask that question. "Haven't you ever hung out with a friend on New Year's?"

"Well, sure. Mulder, are we hanging out or are you trying to make it up to me after last week?" She felt the beer was getting to her, but she had wondered all day about his reason for bringing her out here without even the excuse of a case.

Mulder sat back and stared at the table for a moment. "Okay. I just didn't want you to be alone tonight, and I didn't want to stay in the apartment wishing I was somewhere else."

"To tell you the truth, I'm glad you asked me to join you. I've been thinking how lonely you must be sometimes. Especially on holidays."

A glint of mischief lit Mulder's eyes. "Are you coming on to me again, Scully? Yo should stop doing that."

Scully just laughed and let him decide for himself.

At 11:56. the waitress brought the champagne to the table.

"I didn't order this," Mulder said. "I think you mean the couple over there."

"No, this is definitely your champagne," said the waitress. She sent a smile Scully's way. "Whoever ordered it must have seen you together and wished you well."

"I see," Mulder whispered. "Tell them thank you."

When the waitress left, Mulder opened the bottle and poured the celbratory drink into champagne flutes.

"Chanpagne," Scully mused. "Well, let's make the most of it and get ready for the countdown. Four minutes, Mulder."

Mulder gave Scully her glass and raised his. "To the best of friends," she said.

"Is that the best you can do, Scully? 'The best of friends'? Is that what we are?"

"Well, I think... I think after all that's happened, I should change that. You're right. 'To the best of friends' just doesn't say it all. What would you have me say?"

"To us. Whoever we are, whoever we may become, let's drink to us."

"To us." They clinked glasses and sipped champagne, eying each other as they heard the countdown. "Seven, six, five, four, three, two, one, Happy New Year!"

Scully stood, walked over to Mulder and kissed his cheek. "Happy New Year to us." She arapped her harms around his shoulders, and he put his hands over hers.

Mulder was a bit tipsy, but smiled. "Happy New Year, Scully. I feel the winds of change are upon us."

Scully just laughed. "After this past year, I know they are, and to make sure that happens in a good way, I'm driving you home tonight."

As Scully returned to her seat, Mulder couldn't resist putting his hand over hers. Yes, they both knew there was something about the next year that would change them forever.

END


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