Getting A Life

By Jeannine Ackerson

 

4/22/97

Rating: PG for language.

Disclaimer: The X-Files & the characters portrayed therein are property of C.C., FOX, 1013 Prod., etc.

Spoiler Warning: Picking up after "Small Potatoes" in 4th season.

Relationship: Hmm, let me think . . . MSR maybe? <g>

Summary: When Mulder and Scully finally have to deal with the aftermath of Eddie, some startling truths come to light.

Hi all. Yes, I know everyone and their brother is writing something about this one. I was thinking I'd sit back and let the rest tackle it, but I have yet to see anything like what I had in mind. So, here's another post episode story for your consideration . . .

Eddie's words were still plaguing him.

He'd gone for a run but only gotten sweaty and tired. Next he tried to watch some meaningless sci-fi show which was even lamer than the reality he'd just gone through. He found himself dialing the sex line that had left their message on his machine, but hung up on it before getting connected. Hell, he'd even considered briefly going in to the office, except that it was three in the morning and he didn't think his cluttered basement office would help derail his thoughts.

The whole thing was, Eddie had been right. He wasn't living. Not even the little bit that Eddie had done when he was masquerading as him. Fish and porn and work were no substitute for living.

And he hadn't lived in a long time. He existed, but he didn't really live, did he?

The room felt stuffy, enclosing as he looked around his familiar surroundings. What here was him? What in this darkened, limiting space was what made up Fox Mulder?

Samantha's picture by his computer caught his attention. This was part of who he was. A brother. Albeit an absentee one for the most part. It would help if he could actually find her so he could have her in his life.

Am I putting my life on hold because I don't know what's happened to her? Denying myself the happiness because she could be dead? Do I hate myself *that* much for not being able to save her? For feeling guilty for being left behind?

Reeling, Mulder fell backward into his cushions of his sofa. The comforting softness couldn't ease the inner turmoil the last few days events had stirred up. It was had enough to realize that your life's been being wasted in so many regards without someone coming in and showing you how it should be done.

He felt like a star replaced by the understudy. And the understudy had actually enjoyed playing the part, while he had been walking through each scene of this play that was his life.

What would *you* do if you had a life Mulder, he asked himself silently.

Thinking over what information he'd gleaned from Van Blundht, the sequence of events leading up to getting knocked out and locked in the boiler area of the hospital to busting through Scully's door, he had an idea as to what kind of life Eddie wanted.

The image of Scully sitting there on the couch with himself still tore at his soul. That "he" could have supplanted himself into his life with such ease . . .

But did he want what Van Blundht had wanted out of "his" life? He wasn't sure.

But he did know that seeing Scully with himself had sent a chill down his spine. It hadn't been him, yet Scully obviously thought it had been. It had almost made him sick to think of how she'd almost been duped into . . . what? Kissing "him"? Admitting that her feelings for "him" were more than partnership?

Mulder was envious for one of the few times in his life. Eddie had taken from him what should have been his. The chance to be with Scully like that.

Or had he opened the door for him to pursue that chance?

If someone had asked Dana Scully a few days ago what she was most afraid of, she would have told them unequivocally - dying.

Today she knew a new fear. She'd been duped into endangering her partnership with Mulder and now . . . Now she was afraid of the ramifications of that misunderstanding.

It wouldn't surprise her if he felt betrayed. God knew she did. She'd *thought* it was Mulder. Every part of her accepted that the man beside her in the hospital, in Skinner's office, in her apartment was Mulder.

Obviously you weren't looking close enough, were you Dana?

Actually, she'd tried to rationalize why she had missed it. Ok, she'd noticed some odd behavior, but dismissed it because of the head injury. She'd been so busy thinking about the report and autopsy that she missed his question about the weekend. Her surprise to find him at her door threw her judgement off when he grinned like a madman and presented her with a bottle of wine. And finally she'd been so caught up in his talking to her, being with her because she had *wanted* it to be him.

It all came down to her needing to believe that this man who was paying attention to her was Mulder.

A long, shuddering sigh broke from her, and she let herself sag against her couch. She'd long given up trying to deny the fact that the prospect of Mulder desiring her like that was very tempting, appealing. It was part of the reason she hadn't been able to fall asleep tonight.

That and the realization that Mulder probably was very uncomfortable with the knowledge he'd gained with his impromptu entrance.

The man *does* have impeccable timing. If he'd been a minute later, that first kiss would have been with a shadow of the real man.

Or was the real Mulder the shadow? He'd never made her feel like this. Paid attention to her like Eddie had in his "Mulder" guise. Asked about her life, found out things about herself.

Or was that feeling there because she thought it was the man she'd worked with, cared about, doctored, defended and admired? Would she have acted like that with any other man who walked up to her door with that wine bottle and listened to her talk?

Somehow she knew she wouldn't. It was because she thought it was Mulder. She had let her guard down because it had been "him". The side of the man she cared about might not have been real, but the other sides of him were. The ones that had attracted her to him in the first place.

Now all she had to do was get Mulder to talk to her.

There was a knock at the door, and Mulder got up from the couch to answer it. He knew it was still early morning and it was most likely one of two people: one of his mysterious contacts or Scully.

Secretly he was hoping for Scully, but felt that he'd be safer with a back-stabbing informant. At least emotionally safer that is, he corrected as he opened the door to reveal his red-headed partner.

Scully tried to smile at him reassuringly, but knew it never reached her eyes. They were too cluttered with fears and doubts. As she moved towards him, he stepped out of the way, letting her past him and into his apartment.

She turned around to consider him, gauge how he was feeling about things by his stance and behaviors. For someone who could read her partner's body language so well, understand what he was thinking by catching his eyes, she'd been foolishly mislead by Eddie's characterization of Mulder.

With some reluctance, Mulder shut the door, and brought his gaze to fall on his partner. He took in the casual appearance, similar to the other night. Except tonight she was in his apartment and with *him*.

"Isn't it a little late to be visiting Scully?" he asked, walking towards, then past her, heading to his kitchen for some coffee.

"We needed to talk, and I wasn't getting any sleep anyway. And it looks like you weren't either," she observed, walking to join him and scrounge for a coffee cup as well.

She stood there in silence, holding the cup out towards him. With a quiet sigh, he poured her a cup of his nearly stale coffee and then refilled his own cup. Once she had her cup filled, she turned towards the couch, folding her leg beneath her as she sat, getting comfortable.

"Mulder," she began, and he turned to look at her.

"What Scully? Are you here to assuage your feelings of confusion and guilt about being slightly interested in kissing Fox Mulder? Say that you weren't *really* going to kiss Eddie when you thought it was me? Thank me for rescuing you just in time from a fate worse than death - being kissed by the man you thought was me?" he said in rapid succession, but with a bitter, underlying tone to his voice.

Pained, she let her eyes break contact with his and her head slip downwards. God, did he think she regretted nearly being kissed by "him"? How could he be so blind as to not see that she wouldn't have gone so far if she hadn't *thought* it was *him*.

"I thought he was you Mulder," she began haltingly, her voice threatening to crack. "And I would have ended up kissing him thinking he was *you* if you hadn't shown up. And now, all I can think of is how I almost betrayed you and me by sharing that 'first' with him and not you."

There was an almost audible sigh from the man standing in the kitchen before he fully grasped the weight of her statement.

"Scully, I think Eddie was right," he said, walking to stand next to her, then sitting beside her on the couch.

She looked up anxiously at him, wondering what he meant.

"I told you at the prison Mulder that he was wrong, that you weren't a loser," she reminded him. She started to reach reassuringly for his hand, but pulled back at the last minute, unsure of how he might interpret that move.

"No, I mean about living a little," he replied, taking the initiative and moving to take her hand in his. "I've been living for Samantha, for the truth, for everyone but myself I think. And now . . . now I think I'd like to try living for myself some."

Mulder tentatively grinned at her, and she couldn't help but feel energized by the feeling.

"What do you want to do with your life then?" she asked, gripping his hand tighter.

Looking directly at her, he smiled a little nervously. What would you do with a life Mulder? The question he'd asked himself replayed itself in his head. And gazing at her, he knew one of the things he wanted.

"To go on vacations that aren't mandatory or enforced. To go play pick-up basketball at the "Y" when we're in town. Catch more Knick's games in the future. Have friends that aren't paranoid. To keep a crop of fish longer than a month at a time. Discontinue my magazine subscriptions," he listed, but at the last, he saw the shock register in her eyes and decided to say everything he had in mind. "And try and see what it would be like to have a relationship with my partner."

Mulder watched as her throat worked convulsively, as if trying to get something out, or down. Like her heart, he wondered with some hope.

"So, does that mean you'd like to pick up where Eddie's version of you left off?" she said softly, still unsure of his intentions.

At that he leaned in closer, mimicking the move "he" had already made on her. Except this time he was on the couch, and not busting through the doorway. And to tell the truth, he liked this position better.

"Most definitely," he said huskily before his lips met hers.

There was a moment of adjustment before they both eased into the feeling. Four years of being platonic friends didn't simply wash away in ten seconds. But the underlying sexual tension that had been a part of their working relationship soon eased them into that other level of feelings.

Eventually they eased apart, trying to calm down and read the other's reactions. All either of them could see was happiness. The fears and doubts were gone, replaced by a deep, abiding feeling that neither of them could describe, let alone question.

It had been him that she'd wanted he realized. And he was certain that she knew that he wanted her as much, if not more than the fake Mulder had.

To tell the truth, Mulder had to admit that he was grateful to Eddie. He would never have seen what had been there all along if he hadn't taken his place and shown him. Pointed out how he needed Scully in his life like this. How he needed a *life*.

"I think I'm going to like this getting a life," Mulder said as he drew Scully into his embrace, reveling in the feeling that this was just the beginning.

-End-

That's it. Not exactly super-shipper, but a lot better than them saying they should "just be friends". <g> Thanks for reading J.

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