I Didn't Ask

By Jeannine Ackerson



Rating: PG for a few bad words and suggestive comments.

Disclaimer: The X-Files belong to C.C., FOX & 1013 Prod.

Spoiler warning: *Slight* reference to 'the' conversation in "Home" and the present in "One Breath".

Relationship: MSR. If you can't believe that they feel like this about one another *even* after "Memento Mori", then don't read this.

Summary: Mulder wants to know what Scully wants and needs out of life, and he decides to just ask her.

Hi All! You know, the inspiration for these vignettes comes from the weirdest places. This one was out of an e-mail about the M&S relationship. Basically I was saying that Mulder doesn't know what Scully needs and wants cause he's never asked and she's never said . . . so, I'm making them open their mouths and say something. <g> Now, to the story. . .

What did she mean by that? Mulder wondered again as he walked away from his car and towards his apartment building.

The events of the day replayed themselves in his head, like a low budget documentary of a day in the life of Fox Mulder, FBI Agent and alien chaser. And he didn't even have the staring role. She did.

Of course, he knew that was because he'd given it to her. The day she'd walked into the basement had cast that change. Slowly the work wasn't about Samantha anymore. It was about her and the missing three months of her life. Because he had to find the truth for her. For them both. Somehow he knew that in that moment when he found out what happened to her, his mind would either be eased or haunted forever.

One day he hoped to have those answers. But as for today. . .

Looking back, it had been a normal enough day, to say the least. With practiced ease he unlocked his door without really thinking about it and walked inside his apartment, flopping on the couch without a second thought as to dinner.

He'd had a couple of case leads and done some paperwork; the normal, general kind of day for the X-Files division when they weren't out in the field. But somewhere around lunch his world had been turned upside down. And just with a few simple words that he wasn't even sure if they were meant the way he thought they were meant.

His memory replayed the conversation that had kept him contemplating it all day, trying to see again if he'd understood her right.

// "Mulder, I'm going to run by the lab. I need to get some more information on that last sample before I submit this report."

"Do you really *need* to Scully?"

"What do you mean?"

"I mean, you have one batch of results, probably with data that you're not comfortable with acknowledging, and you're hoping that the next set of tests will prove your theories correct. Can't you take it on faith that sometimes science just doesn't have an answer? Do you *need* to be right all the time?"

"I'm hardly right all the time Mulder. But in answer your question, I *need* a *lot* of things." //

And at that she'd walked out, leaving him sitting there stunned and a little confused. The way she'd said that last sentence. . . it didn't sound like she was talking about work.

As he sat there on his couch, flipping channels on his TV, he thought about that last comment for the hundredth time since she'd voiced it. There was something about her words that had hit a chord within him. It was more than the job, more than her career. It was almost as if she was saying that she had lots of things she needed in her life, but she wasn't about to tell him. Or was it she wasn't going to tell him without his asking her what they were?

I didn't ask and she didn't say, he thought wearily.

Mulder bolted upright on his couch in shock as the words registered with his tired brain. Was that it? He hadn't asked her what she wanted him to ask her? Asked her the questions that she could answer. Ones that he *needed* to know the answers to.

That thought sent his mind spinning. He'd always wished that things were different between them. He'd wanted so much more than what they had now. Had imagined a partnership with her in the truest sense of the word. But he'd put aside his needs and wants in favor of the big picture. Their quest for the truth and his need to keep Scully by his side, no matter what personal desires he had to put aside to do that. All were reasons that he'd never said what he wanted.

He'd never thought to just ask her what she wanted. . .

To tell the truth, he'd just assumed. . . hell, he'd assumed that she wanted a lot of things, but he had never thought that *he* could be one of them. Mostly because she'd never said anything to him to indicate to him that she felt that way. That she'd never given him a real reason to hope.

But that comment today had so many complex emotions and levels to it, he was starting to think that maybe he was wrong. Maybe she did think of him like that.

Thinking about the last four years, their partnership and friendship, it all made sense in a strange way. Neither of them were willing to make a move because they were afraid of damaging the partnership, afraid of the other's response. It was as if they'd believed that the other didn't have feelings for them like that, so they'd kept silent. That they had figured that if the other was interested in them, they would have said something by now. But they *both* had been waiting, and *no one* had been talking.

But come tomorrow morning, Mulder thought, things were going to change. He *was* going to ask. And if he had anything to say about it, she was going to say. One way or the other.

How the hell does he know what I need?!? He never asks. Never. . .

Dana Scully sighed under her breath as she settled in with a medical journal and some carrot sticks on her couch. The events of earlier that day had frustrated her. He was so dense sometimes she thought bitterly.

Didn't he realize that she wanted him to pay attention to her? To make her feel that he really cared for her as more than just a partner and a friend? Treat her like a woman?

He had the habit to go overboard on that last one, she had to admit. Overprotective was his middle name. He'd tried to tone it down a bit as of late though. She had railed against this habit of his since it began, even though she knew it really didn't have anything to do with her gender, but rather his concern for her in some of the *very* dangerous situations they seemed to get into. Of course though, there were times she was profoundly grateful for that trait. Times that she was alive now because of it.

But his comments, his concerns were always professional. Sure, there had been the scattered innuendo or joking comment, but nothing that couldn't be laughed off. Even that one time when they'd talked about her thoughts on motherhood, he'd joked about it.

Except that he had never asked her why she thought about it. What images she had of what she needed, wanted for her life. He probably just assumed that she was going to one day leave the X-Files, shack up with some guy and start living the idyllic life of wife, mom and suburban taxpayer.

He didn't have *a* clue.

And the thing that made it worse was that she knew that he would never ask her what she wanted. Mostly because she was sure he was scared of the answer.

Hell, she reprimanded herself, you're just as scared to tell him. If you weren't, you'd have just told him by now and gotten it over with.

She shrugged the thought off with a stifled groan. They were both to blame for the 'mess' they were in. It was like chess. One move leading to the next, but except in this game, no one had made any headway. They were just following the same steps, walking the established route. Keeping the status quo. No one said anything so they could deny that either of them wanted anything other than what they had right now.

Even if she wanted *so* much more than that.

With another sigh, she chomped down on another carrot and tried to lose herself in the fine points of some new medical procedures.

Deep down, she wished that she could just come out and say it. To tell him all her wants and needs. Make him understand what her job, her career, everything meant to her.

Yet she couldn't do it. She was scared that he would make joke out of it, and not take her seriously. Because that was what he always did. He wouldn't cross that line for real, even if she gave him every reassurance in the world that she was sincere. He just couldn't take it on faith that she cared for him like that.

So she'd waited for him to say something. To ask her how she felt, what she wanted.

But he'd never done it. Never said a word. And, she reminded herself again with a dejected sigh, he never will.

Scully walked into the basement office the next morning to find Mulder there already, hunched over the desk in total concentration.

His head came up at the sound of her approach, his hazel eyes shinning through the lenses of his reading glasses. A silly looking expression crossed his face as he regarded her. Leaning back, he reached up and took the glasses off, dropping them carelessly on the desk.

Scully could feel something that she couldn't describe, a heavy, almost physical presence resided in the room. And from the intensity of his gaze on her, she was sure that whatever was on his mind had created it.

What was he up to, she wondered as she headed for her desk.

Before she got two steps, he was up and heading for her, practically cutting her off. She stopped in her tracks and stood there as he sat on the edge of the desk, his eyes locking with hers. There was a long pause before he slightly cleared his throat and opened his mouth to speak.

"Scully, I need to talk to you," he said, his voice sounding grave.

Horrifying flashes of transfer papers and life without the X-Files flew through her mind. The way he was making it sound, she knew it was something important. With practiced skill, she put aside her anxiety and focused on him and his question. Maybe it had something to do with a case, she thought hopefully.

"What about Mulder?"

"I need to know some things," he began, and she watched as he swallowed hard. "I need to know what you want."

Her eyebrows shot up at that. He was asking her?!? But *what* was he asking her about? It could just as well be what she wanted for lunch today she admonished herself strenuously before she let herself speculate about the meaning of his words.

"What I want? I don't understand," she replied, her voice sounding tight as she forced a calm tone, her hands clasping tightly in front of her.

Mulder watched her unease at his questions. For a moment, he thought that maybe he had been wrong, that there hadn't been any meaning in her words the day before. Then he looked her straight in the eyes and saw the hope lying there. The message there practically cried: 'I want to answer. Just ask me the right question'. Somehow that look encouraged him and he smiled inwardly a bit. Then he pressed on, making that final leap of faith.

"I want, no, I *need* to know what you want Dana; what you need. In your life, and from me. . . " he said softly, hesitantly.

She gazed at him for one more moment before her eyelids slid shut and she sighed heavily. He knew. He was asking her the question that she needed him to ask her. The one with the answers that she so badly wanted to give. He'd understood the depth in her parting comment yesterday and had seen what she needed: for him to *ask* her what she wanted. He had taken the chance and followed his instincts, confronting her now with her own unspoken request.

She opened her eyes and stared at him, feeling emotions so overpowering radiating from his hazel eyes that she couldn't help but smile a little. And to think that she had thought that he would never ask her.

But now he was. After all this time, he was standing there, looking at her with so much love in his eyes and asking her what she wanted and needed.

And in light of that, how could she deny him the answers?

"I need. . . " she began, then faltered when she looked again into his eyes.

An almost pleading look had appeared within them at the start of her confession. She had paused at the sight, keeping her from saying what was on her mind. As she looked deep into them, she could almost see the statement lying there in his eyes: 'Please Scully, say you want *me*'.

She wanted to cry at the sight, the thought of his disbelief in her feelings for him. What did he think she really needed? A life? A husband? A home? A family? Some kind of normalcy that he thought that he could never give her? She couldn't believe what she was seeing. How could he doubt that she loved him? That she wanted him, the X-Files and whatever future they could carve out for themselves together?

It didn't matter to her anymore if she never had the white picket fence and the kids and the dog. She would have *him*. And that was all she had ever really wanted since that day she'd woken in the hospital after her abduction and turned to see him walk in the door, football highlights tape in hand. It had been then that she knew why she was alive, why she had come back. . . it was to love *him*.

So now she was finally going to be able to let herself say the words she'd wanted to tell him for so long now.

"I need and want to find the truth. To expose the conspiracies. To be there the day Samantha is found. To keep searching for the answers to the questions the X-Files pose. But most of all," she said, pausing to walk over to where he sat and then laid her hand on his cheek, "I need and want *you*."

He couldn't help but smile at that. The fact that she *needed* him in her life, *wanted* him with her warmed his heart and soul like he'd never thought possible. He wrapped his arms around her, pulling her to him. Likewise she embraced him as well, enjoying the feeling of being in his arms and having the weight of her secret lifted.

There was no question, no doubt left in either of their minds. The love that they shared was just that: Shared. And now that they had exposed it, they could go about beginning to live it.

But Mulder was still curious about their future.

"So, do you have anything else that you want?" he murmured into her hair, his cheek pressed against her head.

"Funny you should mention that Mulder," she said, backing away from him to grace him with a sly smile. "How about you come over tonight and we can discuss what else I *want* from you?"

His eyebrows raised at the connotations her words lent themselves to. But he simply gave her a half smile, half leer in reply, letting her know without words that he'd be there, ready and willing to give her whatever she wanted. And if he was right in his assumptions, maybe they both wanted the same thing.

She couldn't help but smile harder at his expression, and shook her head slightly before she leaned back into his chest, letting his arms tighten around her once again.

Oh yes, he thought as he held her to him, he *definitely* wanted to know what else Scully *wanted* from him.

He was so glad he'd asked her. . .


Dedication: To the authors of the 492 e-mail replies that I've received since I began writing back in Sept. '96. The fact that you're out there, reading and enjoying the fanfic helps make these stories possible.

Many thanks, J.

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