A Fine Line

By Jeannine Ackerson

 

3/12/97

Rating: R for violence and BAD language. (At this point, I'm asking my grandmother and aunt's forgiveness for my using the "F" word in here. I'm sorry, but I can see people using really bad words like this one when their minds shut off and anger takes over. J.)

Disclaimer: The X-Files as well as the characters portrayed therein belong to C. Carter, FOX & 1013 Prod., and most importantly they don't belong to me.

Relationship: Angst and MSR. Also some violent behavior between our heroes, so be warned. (I promise to work it all out in the end.)

Summary: When Mulder tries to gain access to Scully's heart, he finds a lot of anger and fear blocking his path.

Hi All! As some (or all) of you know, there's a fine line between love and hate. This story deals with both, and how they can sometimes get tangled up together. I've really never written something this emotionally violent, so I hope you find it acceptably done . . .

Dana Scully stood there, the color drained from her face and her eyes wide, staring at her partner and friend Fox Mulder standing in her living room.

He'd come by unannounced and had knocked on her door just moments ago. After she had let him in, he had shuffled and stammered a bit, then closed the door. It was another long minute before he finally told her why he'd come by. And when he did, she couldn't believe her ears.

He'd said he loved her.

She was in shock. The fact that he felt that way. That he was admitting it to her. It was unbelievable. And then anger for being shoved aside and ignored by him for the last four and a half years flared with the rage of a bonfire. There was a second when she could have controlled it, but she let it slip through her fingers like water. For the first time in years, she lashed out with the full fury of her Irish heritage and her father's Navy off-color language.

Directed straight at the man before her.

"You *son* of a *bitch*!" she yelled, her voice hard and loud. His gaze snapped up from where he'd been staring at his shoes, waiting to see what her reaction would be. And as he looked at her in her full fury, he swore that he'd never been so scared or turned on in his life.

"How *dare* you just waltz in here and make this "announcement!" How do you have the audacity to come here and tell me that you love me," she spat, backing away from him and farther into her living room.

"What do you mean by that?" he replied, his voice raising involuntarily. He'd had such high hopes that she would feel the same thing for him that he felt for her. He'd figured that even if she didn't, she would not just dismiss his feelings. That had been part of the reason he'd had the nerve to do this in the first place. But he hadn't been prepared for this, her open hostility.

Yet, she hadn't denied that she felt anything for him . . .

"You know exactly what I mean! What did you think would happen when you told me? Did you expect that I'd fall to my knees, thanking God that *Fox* Mulder had finally seen the light?! Did you figure that I'd be so swept up by you and your magnetic charms, and that you'd chosen me that I'd just fall on my back and let you fuck me?! Well I'll tell you something Mulder, I'm not that hard up, and I'm sure as hell not that easy!"

The storm clouds that had begun to circle round them took up residence in Mulder's eyes. The language really wasn't the issue, even if he was startled by her use of it. It was more the contempt she seemed to have for him. For his intentions in regards to her, them. It was as if she really believed the rumors . . . And it upset him to think that she could think that of him. With a bolt of anger he soon found himself lashing back at her.

"Do you think *I* really need this?! Hell no! You don't think I couldn't be out screwing the secretarial pool at the Bureau or picking up one night stands instead of wanting you? Well, I could! But for some reason that I can't explain, I want you. I fell in love with *you*! I have for a long time now. But I've *never* expected anything from you Scully. Least of all for you to let me just screw you . . ." he growled, the words tasting bitter in his mouth as he said them.

"Why not Mulder?" she broke in savagely. "You've been fucking me for years now!"

This pronouncement surprised him, and he involuntarily took a step back. The look of astonishment must have showed on his face, because she advanced on him, pressing the issue.

"Come on Mulder. Surely all these years of my being your dutiful sidekick; left behind and kicked around haven't happened because of your ignorance. Didn't you get a perverse pleasure out of knowing that you were ditching Scully again? Good, faithful Scully who just can't get enough of "Spooky" Mulder, so she comes back time and again so you can screw her over some more!"

"I've *never* felt like that. Never wanted to hurt you. That's why I would leave you behind. I'd never intentionally hurt you Scully. I don't know how could you even think that of me?" he asked, hurt and defensive by her attacks.

"Easily! All I've ever done is be loyal to you. As a friend and a partner. And what have I gotten in return? Nothing! You don't trust me when you should and you sure as hell don't respect me enough to tell me what you're up to," she explained furiously. "You expect me to follow your lead and take your word as gospel. Sacrifice everything I have on your altar for the truth. Well I'm sorry, but I don't have anything more to give you. I would think three months of my life and my sister would be enough for you. But I don't think you'll be satisfied until I'm dead for your precious cause."

There was a moment when Mulder started to open his moth to object, but Scully ruthlessly cut him off.

"Don't you dare say that you wouldn't sacrifice me for the truth. You'd sacrifice yourself, so why not me?" she said angrily, moving forward as she spoke, her finger jabbing at him. "I won't be patronized by you anymore *Fox* Mulder, who doesn't let anyone call him Fox unless he wants her to sleep with him!"

"I'm not patronizing you Dana. I meant what I said. I *love* you. I've loved you for *years*, and it took me until today to get the courage up to tell you this," he pushed, trying to make things, himself clear to her. But her anger was just so strong. The only thing he could think of to fight it was the truth, and his love. "I love you Dana Scully, and I always will."

"Really? I think you're just confusing hormones with love again Mulder. Nothing new. So tell me, what possessed you to think you could just show up, out of the blue and tell me you loved me? Did you figure it was the only way I'd let you in my bed? Am I that much of a challenge that you finally decided to pull out the *big guns* so you could finally score your coup? Or did you get today's date in the "Spooky screws the Ice Queen" pool and decided you'd try to cash in?"

"Scully! Dana! How can you think that? I love *you*! God knows why. You're the most stubborn, exasperating woman I've ever known but I don't know how I'd live without you. I know what love is Scully, and I know that I love you!" he insisted strenuously, forcing her back towards the wall with his advancing movements.

"How can you expect me to believe you Mulder? How? After all the times you paraded your whores in front of me for my edification, how do you expect me to believe you're sincere now? You practically cast me aside when Detective White shoved her breasts into your face. Then you had that fling with your *suspect*! A suspect for God's sake! And then Phoebe . . . God, you say you're nothing like her, but you are Mulder. You just use people. You've used me so well for the last four years that I never even noticed it. Never cared that you were just going to destroy me, my career and my future before you cast me aside when my usefulness to you and your "search for the truth" was over!"

Stung by her words more than he could admit, Mulder decided he had to take on a more forceful approach. One sure to find her where she lived. He knew she couldn't think these things about him. Not really. If he wanted her to stop this, he was going to have to *make* her stop this.

"You're such a martyr Scully. I never thought you'd be the kind to take up a cross and then whine about it," he finally said, angrily retaliating as he closed the gap between them, making her retreat back a step. "You're more important to me than the *truth*, and you *goddamned* well know it! I've sacrificed *everything* for you! I went out of my mind when you were abducted. I was willing to give up the X-Files, Samantha, *everything* to get you back. How dare *you* say that I used you! Willing to sacrifice you! I've been willing to kill for you, and I've been willing to *die* for you! Tell me how that's using you?! But I know you can't, because you know me better than that. You know I'm telling the truth!"

She kept backing up, and he pursued, moving her from the living room they'd started in to the back wall. It was like a game of cat and mouse. She'd had the advantage of surprise, and now he was upon her with the advantage of the truth. His words were starting to sink in, and he could see it. But in looking, he also saw the basis to her anger.

Fear.

"You're scared, aren't you Scully?" Mulder asked almost astonished, his voice low and husky. "You can't believe me because you're scared of this. Of *us*."

There was a long moment of silence, but she kept her gaze locked with his. It was just like her. She was trying to keep her emotions safe by protecting herself in the lies and anger. Like her legendary persona . . . The Ice Queen. So, faced with his admission, she'd lashed out at the reason for her fears. Him.

Yet the anger was something that was deeply rooted in her fears about loving him. And he realized in a flash that he'd done it to her. Had done a lot of what she was accusing him of. He'd made her feel secondary, disposable. He'd made her endure the strings of women and *made* her watch him as he discounted her for them. The epiphany should have given him a greater understanding as to why she felt like she did. But it only served to anger him. He wasn't about to let his past stand in front of their future. Not now, when he'd finally confessed and owned up to the truth. Nothing was going to get in his way of the love he knew was between them. Not even her.

"Goddamnit, stop hiding Dana! Can't you be honest about how you feel for *once* in your life?" he yelled as he cornered her, his arms braced to either side of her, hands flat on the wall.

His words and actions struck her raw nerves badly. The fact that he'd caged her like some animal infuriated her. His proximity and her rage clashed, and it only took a second before the fire of her outrage that had been dying down flared again in one explosive burst.

"Go to hell Mulder!" she screamed, and slapped him across the face. Hard.

With that, he grabbed her wrists and held them tight. He could feel the heated sting of where she'd hit him. At least she hadn't decked him, he thought painfully. Or shot him.

Angered still, she struggled to break free of his grip. She twisted and bucked in his grasp, looking for a way out of his strong, determined hold. If anything, Dana Scully was a force to be reckoned with, no matter where, when or who her adversary was. And right now that adversary was Mulder. Because he wanted her to admit what she refused to acknowledge. The truth about herself and them.

"Let me go!" she howled, angrily glaring at him.

At the end of his patience, he shook her, still holding her by the wrists. Her head whipped about in his onslaught, and tossed her hair about. He kept a tight reign on his own anger, carefully making sure he did no damage to her, but unwilling to release her until he was certain she was calmed down enough to *speak* with him, rather than at him. And that she wouldn't hit him again.

"Stop it Dana! Just stop it!" he demanded softly.

Long seconds ticked by before she began to relent. He gradually felt the fight go out of her. When she finally relaxed, stilling in his grasp he stopped. Suddenly at rest, her head slowly came back up, her eyes meeting his.

Staring down into the pools of blue that he'd fallen in love with so many years ago, he saw the conflicting, swirling emotions within. As he gazed back at her, he tried to put all the love and devotion he felt for her in his own hazel eyes. If she could just see what she meant to him. What she'd always meant to him . . .

It wasn't long before the salty wetness of her tears crested at the lashes, then spilled over.

"Mulder," she whispered, her tone sounding utterly pained and ashamed.

At that, he swiftly let go of her wrists and instead reached up to take her face carefully in his hands. The feel of her soft skin against his palms was startling. He felt like his soul had just gone through hell, and suddenly he realized that he had. They'd just gone through their own personal hell. A last trial by fire to get to this point. To cross the line they had to get burned. He had fought his demons to gain the knowledge that he loved her and the courage to tell her. And they had fought hers because he'd learned that anything worth having was worth fighting for.

And if he knew only one thing, it was that she was worth fighting for.

*They* were worth it.

"I'm here Dana," he said lightly, running his thumbs delicately across her cheeks, brushing away the liquid regret that trickled over them.

She continued to look at him, her eyes never leaving his. When she had looked into them, been pierced by their intensity, she had seen the *truth*. The truth that he *loved* her. Completely, utterly, totally. He loved *her*. After all this time she'd spent gazing into those hazel depths, she had finally found his love for her in his eyes.

That thought started her chuckling. Then it quickly developed into laughter. Hysterical laughter as the whole reality of what he'd said and what she'd done hit her. Just as she felt her knees begin to go out from under her, Mulder wrapped his arms around her waist and pulled her into his embrace.

Without reservation she threw her arms around his waist and held him tight, her face pressed hard into his chest. She wanted to hide there from herself and her words for just a little while. All too soon she would have to try and repair the damage she'd caused. Damage so severe that she wouldn't blame him if he couldn't forgive her for it.

"I'm sorry," she stated weakly with a lump in her throat when she got herself under control.

"I know," Mulder said comfortingly, as he let one hand stroke her hair tenderly. "I understand. I didn't realize . . . "

At that she pulled back and regarded him seriously. Did he really understand she wondered. Did he realize that his admission, after so long had fueled in her a hatred of her own cowardice? That the fury in her words had come from her despair that he wasn't being honest with her. That it had come from years of feeling inadequate, extraneous. That she'd felt helpless and unwanted as he set her aside for someone else time and again. Was there really a part of him that understood the pain she felt at the losses she'd suffered over the years? Did he know? Really know?

"I didn't realize until just now what I've put you through all these years. The pain, the sorrow, the loneliness, the doubt. You loved me, and I treated you, your gift so badly. When I wasn't hurting you directly, I was hiding from you. Like you finally ended up doing with me," Mulder explained.

He watched her expression, looking for confirmation or denial of his claim, but finding none. His own face began to drop, for fear that she'd retreated again. That the walls that she had, the ones he had come so close to breaching, to destroying had been thrown back up again.

"Scully?" he said, a fearful tremor in his voice as he waited for her response.

She was certain that she'd never been more angry with him than she had been today. Or more in love with him. There was no doubt as to what he needed to hear. And as much as he needed to hear it, she needed to say it.

"I do love you Mulder. God help me, I do," she announced softly, a hidden caress in the words.

The smile that touched his lips heartened her more than she thought it would. And in that moment of confession the pain was gone, forgotten as if it had never happened. And with it went the fear. Faded in the brightness of their love and the light it brought with it.

"I love you Dana," he repeated for the tenth time that day. And this time she smiled upon hearing it.

With that smile and her words in his heart, he chanced a kiss. Leaning down he brushed her lips lightly, feeling the texture and warmth of these objects of his desire. He'd waited for four years to feel them against his lips like this, and he relished the contact, not rushing the feeling. It was finally her that pushed up and into him, pressing her lips harder onto his. That one movement broke any restraint he had left, and he clutched her tightly, kissing her forcefully and for all he was worth.

"Do me a favor Scully," he said after he pried his lips from hers and took her hands before heading them to the couch.

"What?" she asked, seating herself on his lap, facing him, and placing a light kiss on his mouth before he answered.

"Remind me never to piss you off. You have one nasty temper," he commented, somewhat seriously as he gazed longingly at her, the feel of her on him having a prominent effect on his mind, heart and his body. And she knew it too.

She smiled at his words and his reactions to her. A slow, seductive smile that spoke of many more pleasures yet to come.

"You've got a deal," she said before she claimed his lips again.

-End-

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