Title: "Meeting Halfway"
Author: Emmyjean (email@example.com)
Classification: M/S UST, Scully POV
Rating: PG-13 (I guess)
Spoilers: Set during late Season Five
Disclaimer: Not mine, never were, never will be.
Notes: I've been having trouble getting myself inspired to write XF related stuff lately, what with everything that's been going on with the show. I've found that it's more fun to write about the Mulder and Scully we used to know so well...and it actually makes me feel better to know that, in one way or another, they live on in our imaginations. J I hope this brings back good memories for all of you as it did for me.
Scully sucked a breath through her teeth and firmly pressed her fingertips against her right temple. Closing her eyes, she tried to regulate her breathing and get past yet another of the sharp headaches that have plagued her since she got out of the hospital two weeks ago. At first, she was worried that it had something to do with her cancer, but the doctors have since told her that it's simply a side affect of the treatments she had undergone for the disease…treatments that had ultimately sent the cancer into remission, so she supposed it was worth a little suffering.
Rubbing gently, she wondered how long these headaches would persist. It wouldn't be such a big deal, except that she was also experiencing muscle soreness and nausea. She hated nausea. She'd have to remember to give her doctor a call when she got home that evening.
Opening her eyes once again and bringing them back to the papers spread out on the desk in front of her, she attempted to regain her place in the expense report she had been filling out for Skinner. After a moment, however, she became aware of the intense feeling of being watched. She glanced up at her partner, who was sitting quietly at his desk, and was just in time to catch him looking away quickly at her sudden scrutiny.
"Mulder…is something wrong?" she asked, well-aware of why he had been staring.
He let out a short puff of humorless laughter and replied, "Isn't that what I'm supposed to be asking you? I mean, you were the one who grabbed your head in pain a minute ago."
She sighed...ever since her release from the hospital's care, he had tried his best to coddle her. She knew him well, and therefore she knew that he felt personally responsible for her ordeal. Everything that happened to her was apparently an opportunity for him to spread another layer of guilt over his already laden conscience. She had tried to make it clear that she herself didn't blame him for anything, but he wouldn't hear any of it. Sometimes she thought he relished beating himself up.
"Mulder...I'm fine. It's just a headache."
He looked up and commented, "You've been having a lot of those lately. Is...is it a serious problem?"
She knew he was more worried about it than he let on, but she wasn't about to play victim anymore. She had grown weary of everyone treating her like glass, and she didn't need to be mothered...particularly not by her partner.
"No, it's not. I would tell you if it was," she finished, with what she hoped was a firm tone implying that she didn't wish to discuss it anymore.
Naturally, he ignored it.
"Scully, I'm not sure you should have come back to work so soon after...everything."
"I said I'm fine, Mulder. I can handle it."
He sighed, frustrated, and continued pushing.
"Look...you don't have to put up a front for me, okay? I'm not going to judge you, you know that. If you need help, or if you need to slow down, just say it. It's not worth…"
Angered now, she interrupted him, "I said I was fine! How many times do you have to hear it before you can accept it? I'm a big girl, and I can take care of myself. I'm not fragile, and I don't need to be regarded as if I were. Okay?"
She could see a twinge of tempered fury ignite in his hazel eyes, and she knew that she had gone too far. She had not meant to anger him, simply to shut him up...now it seemed as if it was too late.
"Alright, fine. Have it your way, Scully," he bit out her name as if it were repulsive in his mouth, "I don't care."
He stood, strode angrily to the coat rack, and jerked his overcoat off of it so hard the thing almost fell over. Shoving his arms roughly through the sleeves, he continued in a voice of steel,
"I don't know what you have against being treated like a human being, but I think it's asinine. You are not superhuman, you aren't invincible. Why don't you stop pretending like you are and making a fool out of yourself in the process?"
"You haven't allowed me to do shit for you since you found out about the damn tumor. I can't even get close enough to you to put on the act of being a good partner, much less a good friend."
She was shocked. Not only was he using foul language, which was extremely uncharacteristic for him, but he was going to walk out on her after he finished chewing her out. It was an afternoon of firsts.
"I mean, why don't you be honest with me for once, Scully? Am I your friend, or am I just being a jackass and deluding myself?"
She didn't answer. She didn't know what to say, and she had a feeling it was a rhetorical question anyway. She merely tried to think of a way to keep him from storming out of the office and leaving her to sit there alone. Alas, she could not, and he turned and yanked the door open.
Then he left, and slammed the door hard on his way out.
She didn't sleep very well that night, and neither one of them picked up a phone.
The next morning, she met him at the airport as was planned, and she immediately searched for any signs of softening in his features. She encountered nothing but indifference...but at least it wasn't the muted wrath she had seen all too clearly yesterday. They didn't speak much on the flight to Oklahoma City, where they were investigating a case about a girl named Josie Reade who claimed she was possessed by the spirit of the Virgin Mary. On top of everything else, Mulder flirted with the flight attendant who served them their breakfast. It was a blatant attept at making it clear to Scully that he didn't care what she thought. Although she knew this, she still couldn't help feeling a pang of...something. She chose not to analyze it, and reminded herself that it was her outburst that caused this whole conflict...to keep herself from gouging his leering eyes out.
After that, they disembarked and went about their business in the city as any normal business partners would do. They spoke in detached tones about the case, shared theories, and interviewed the people involved. It turned out that Josie claimed she had been impregnated by God and had never before had sexual relations. Her mother believed her to be the chosen one, her father was ready to disown her and have his wife committed, and it was all Scully could do to keep from rolling her eyes so hard that they fell out of their sockets.
When they were at the high school speaking to the girl's brother, who was telling them all about his sister's druggie boyfriend, Scully was struck suddenly by an intense wave of nausea. She attempted to stand her ground and let it pass, but it became clear that she wasn't going to make it past this one without actually getting sick. She excused herself quickly and ran to the washroom, spilling her stomach in the toilet the minute she got into the stall. She sighed and scrubbed her hand over her face, thankful that the doctor had told her that this was normal and that she would be fine in a couple more weeks.
She freshened up and then walked back to the office, only to find both the boy and Mulder gone. She asked the secretary where they went, and she told her that her partner had left a message to do an amnio and a DNA test on Josie's baby.
"Where did he go?" Scully pressed the secretary.
"I don't know, he didn't leave any contact information with me. Sorry," the woman smiled apologetically.
Scully nodded and thanked her, then went to the hospital to perform her "assigned duties". In a cab, of course, as Mulder had taken the rental...a true gentleman. She was beginning to get pissed off. True, she realized that she had hurt his feelings the day before in the office, and apparently had been unknowingly doing so for quite some time, but this was really taking it too far. Did he intend to simply ignore her from now on? How could they get any work done?
She decided that if he wasn't going to give her the courtesy she had come to expect from her colleagues, then she sure as hell wasn't going to ask him for it. She would rather eat her own foot. She would simply go about her business and pretend like none of his behavior bothered her in the least.
Even if it did.
With that thought in mind, she threw herself into her work.
After what seemed like two days, Scully was finally finished with the girl and was headed back from the lab with the results of the test in her hand. She smiled to herself in smug satisfaction at the discovery that Charles Fetner was indeed the father of Josie Reade's unborn child, and she could at least have the satisfaction of shoving THAT under Mulder's big honker. She wondered where he was...not because she was worried, but because she didn't have the money to take another cab back to the motel. She would simply call and demand - not ask - that he pick her up.
After all, it had been a bad day. As it was, she had to go to a laundromat tonight to clean her suit, which had gotten crap all over it somewhere along the line while she was working...now she was wearing surgical scrubs, and she was thoroughly sick of being awake. Dialing, she almost wished he would give her a problem about this just so she could use him as an outlet to vent her frustration.
"Mulder, it's me."
"What did you find?" he asked curtly.
"I'll let you see for yourself as soon as you get here," she replied in an equally short tone. This was really ridiculous.
"The hospital. You're gonna have to pick me up."
There was a pause, and for a moment Scully actually thought he'd say no...and then she'd be forced to throw her phone on the ground and fire eight rounds into it.
"I'm already at the motel," he sounded put out. On purpose, she was sure.
"Can't you take a cab?"
"No, Mulder! I used all my money on the first cab I had to take today when you left me at the high school! Now please stop arguing and just get over here now!"
Pause. "Fine." Click.
She was walking down the deserted flight of stairs when she saw him approaching the building. She slung her coat over her arm and clutched the lab results in her hand as she started down the stairs. God must have chosen that moment to punish her for her vengeful attitude because the scrubs, which were too long on her, got in her way as she hurried down the last flight and she promptly lost her footing and fell. She tumbled down the hard, steel-lined steps and felt her poor body thud on each one as she went.
When she finally reached the bottom, she felt as though she had been kicked to death. She could feel her already traumatized head pounding, and her foot was throbbing something awful. Not a good sign.
"Scully!?" Mulder's choked voice interrupted her mental physical evaluation of herself, and she looked up to find him crouching down beside her. He must have seen it through the glass doors and had a heart attack. Good.
"Scully, are you alright?" he asked, concern radiating from his face as he reached out his hand to gently smoothe her hair out of her face and then put his arm around her shoulders, lifting her to a sitting position.
"I'm fi…" she stopped herself at the glimpse of disappointment in his features at what she was about to say. Sighing, she thought suddenly that she was tired of being angry. She decided that, even if she didn't need it, she would try to ask for his help more often simply because he wanted her to do so...after all, there was nothing wrong with compromise.
"I, uh...actually, I think I sprained my ankle, Mulder."
He looked down at her foot, and asked, "Why the hell are you wearing these things? They're way too big for you."
"I know...it was all there was. My suit..."
"We should get you back up those stairs and into an exam room," he broke in.
"No, I know how to deal with a sprain. It's not broken. I just want to go back to the motel and go to sleep."
He nodded reluctanly, and looked back up at her face with uncertainty, obviously trying to restrain himself from being too overbearing.
"Can you walk on your own?" he inquired almost nonchalantly.
She thought for a second, then made a decision. Not without some effort on her part, she replied resolutely, "I don't think so."
His face registered complete surprise that she would even admit it, but then his eyes met hers and held them. A thousand words were spoken in the look they shared, over the course of mere seconds. Apologies, grants of forgiveness, promises for the future. Finally, he smiled slightly at her and she reciprocated.
They had made up.
Suddenly, he put his arms under her legs and lifted her clear off the dirty floor of the hospital lobby. She opened her mouth to protest, thinking that he was going to try and carry her all the way to the car, but he set her down on her own two feet as soon as she was vertical again. She smiled as she recognized what he was doing - he was meeting her halfway.
All at once, she realized that even if she didn't need his help to survive, having it made things a lot easier to overcome. With that admission came the concession that she wasn't merely letting him- she was "letting" herself. Allowing herself to admit weakness and accept it as a human quality, not a fault.
He placed a bracing arm across her shoulders, and she put her arm around her waist to keep her balance as they walked together through the sliding glass doors.
"You don't make a fool of yourself," he said suddenly as he helped her across the parking lot with an arm around her shoulders.
She realized he was talking about what he had said the other day, when they were fighting. He must still feel guilty about the things he said. She smiled softly to herself, and replied simply,
"You are my friend."
She felt his pace slow almost imperceptibly, and then his arm tightened just a fraction. She in turn squeezed his waist a bit more than was neccesary to keep herself upright. She guessed it was a hug...their version of one, anyway. How typical of them.
Once they had gotten to the car and he had carefully lowered her into her seat, he walked around to take his own and asked as he turned the key in the ignition,
She smirked at him and said, "Nope. Biker father."
"I should have left you on that floor."
She smiled and smacked him with the manila folder she held.
"I would have shot you."
"Again, Scully? Don't you think that's overkill...so to speak?" he countered in his usually dry tone.
She sighed dramatically and merely responded with, "Shut up, Mulder."
When they got back to the motel, Mulder didn't even ask. He simply scooped Scully out of the car and helped her to her room, easing her down on the bed. She gazed up at his figure towering over her, and suddenly felt very warm. He just stood there, looking at her, standing stock still.
Suddenly, he leaned down and whispered, "Do you need help getting undressed?"
In the dark, she couldn't tell if he was being serious or not. He might be teasing her with the incessant sexual innuendo that he enjoyed so much…but he also might be honestly wondering if she needed his aid.
"No, I'll just sleep in these. It's fine...thanks, Mulder."
He didn't move right away. He just lingered there, and she could feel his breath on her face.
"Goodnight, Scully. If you need me in the morning, just call."
"I will. Goodnight."
He walked out of the room, closing the door softly behind him. She immediately succumbed to her fatigue, closing her eyes and drifting off. Before she completely lost consciousness, however, she decided that she might just take him up on that offer. Maybe she'd ask him to bathe her...really scare the crap out of him. She smiled to herself. That would put a lid on the suggestive comments for at least a month.
She promptly fell fast asleep in the comfort of her decision, and had no trouble at all staying asleep that night.
More Fanfiction by Emmyjean at
Between the Lines
The Hidden Tower