Disclaimer: Nouns belong to Chris Carter, first line of the story to Mosca. The rest of the words are all mine.
Author's note: Post "all things" coda. Response to Mosca's 'first line' challenge: these are first lines of some of my stories. Pick one and write a drabble/ficlet that begins with it. First line, therefore, provided by Mosca :-)
"He's not the only man I've ever loved," I told Mulder as we sat on the sofa. My voice sounded scratchy, and it was difficult to get the words out -- for more than just the reason of my fatigue. The clock read 2:43, but I tipped my head sleepily in Mulder's direction. I'd already dozed off once before, and Mulder had covered me up with a blanket. Now, I stared at him, as he sat just inches away from me on the sofa. The stub of his ticket to England sat on the coffee table, along with a postcard of the Tower of London beefeaters he'd thoughtfully brought back for me. No crop circles, though, he said, the trip had been a waste of time, and he couldn't wait to get back to Washington, D.C. I'm glad you're back, I had told him, and I'd meant those words honestly.
"Where did that come from?" he asked. In the soft glow of the lamp, his features softened. He still wore his t-shirt and jeans from earlier. I wondered what he'd been doing in the half an hour or so I'd fallen asleep suddenly on his shoulder.
I shrugged. "I thought you should know, I mean, that you should know that about Daniel."
"That he wasn't the only man you've ever loved?"
"What is this, Scully? Confession night?" Mulder put his hands behind his head and leaned back against the sofa. "Are you going to list all your boyfriends for me?"
I shook my head. "Mulder."
He sighed heavily. I noticed then, the weariness at the corner of his eyes, the way his hair flopped down across his forehead. He looked so tired and I couldn't help myself; I reached out and carefully brushed the wayward strand of hair away from his forehead.
"You need rest," I said softly. "You've had a long day. To and from England in such a short time. And all for nothing."
He looked at me wryly. "Don't remind me." He stretched his legs out, resting them on the coffee table. Some file folders fell to the floor, but he made no move to clean them up. Sometimes, I loved being in the chaos of Mulder's apartment, the fact he was seemingly oblivious to the mess he lived in was strangely relaxing for me. "But you were busy." He shot a wary glance in my direction. "With this Daniel Waterston. Whom I'd never heard of until this evening and yet, you say you considered spending your life with him." Mulder shook his head. "The things I don't know about you, Scully."
"I didn't hold back on you on purpose," I said. "I never thought about it. It never mattered. Daniel and I, we were over when you and I started working together."
"No, nothing like that, no," I said, taking a deep breath. "It's just, there never seemed, you know, the right time. I mean, you never asked, and I don't know, how was I supposed to bring it up? I'm not even that person anymore, Mulder, I'm not even that person who loved Waterston."
Mulder swung his legs off the coffee table and walked over to the fish tank, and retrieved a little Buddha figurine from beneath it. I stared at him in surprise.
"You're not even the person I left behind just over two days ago," he told me gently. He handed me the Buddha. It felt smooth, cool and solid in my hands. I turned it over slowly. "The question is, Scully, what it all means, what you got out of all this soul-searching, voodoo conjuring time away from me."
I took a deep breath. I put the Buddha back on the table and wiped my suddenly sweaty palms against my wool skirt. "I think you know," I said. And then I reached over, cupped his face in my hands, and he went still for a moment. I said, "Remember Orison? Remember Donnie Pfaster?"
Mulder looked back at me, his eyes wary and dark with memory. "Yes," he said, "of course, I do."
I touched my forehead to his. "Remember how that song kept playing?" I asked in a low and even voice. "'Don't look any further?'"
"Yes, yes, of course." Mulder sounded a little impatient. I smiled then and he touched my lips lightly with his finger.
"That maybe we already have what we're looking for? That perhaps that value in the possession we search for is already present, that we merely have to take a look around, realize the possibilities--"
Mulder's eyes widened. "Have you found what you were searching for, Scully?"
"Everything and nothing happens for a reason," I said. "You're here, I am here, and maybe, I mean, don't let it go to your head, but you could be right, that there's a reason all of the paths we took led to this very moment."
Mulder tipped his head to the side, considered. "Yeah," he said, flashing a lopsided grin in my direction. "Yeah, I think that. The question is, what do *you* think it all means?"
I considered. The intensity in Mulder's eyes frightened and comforted me at the same time. It would be so easy, I thought, but then again, with us, nothing has ever been that easy. And I knew Mulder liked making connections, that he reveled in the obscure and tenuous leaps of faith he made. He had once asked me to believe in him.
"When have I been wrong?" he had demanded and I'd been forced to concede the point. Now, I could only hope he would be right again, as he had so often been in the past.
I reached for his hand. "Daniel Waterston isn't the only man I've ever loved." I held my breath as I watched Mulder. He seemed to consider this statement, but at the same, didn't break the eye contact and for that, I was grateful; I didn't trust myself to speak.
"I go away for a couple of days and--" Mulder stopped suddenly. As it had over the last day or so during Mulder's absence, time seemed to stop and suddenly the clock on Mulder's wall ticked out in loud beats. Noises seemed amplified: the car squealing as it rounded a corner, the couple arguing just outside Mulder's door, the fish tank's filtration system. I watched the shadows play against the walls, and then took in the way the apartment was so comfortably Mulder -- from the second-hand furniture to the various piles of books and papers scattered out about. I looked everywhere except at Mulder, until he said my name.
"Scully." His voice was soft, and he stretched out the syllables of my name, softening the last one into an almost whisper. His arms went around me, his breath was warm against my cheek, and I pressed my face against his chest. We swayed slightly and then Mulder bent down, his lips against my ear. "I ought to go away more often."
His hand rested lightly on my hip, a warm comforting presence that told me everything I had needed to know from him, and when I leaned towards him, I admitted all.
~ the end
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