Read Between the Lines

By Jeannine Ackerson



Feb 2, 1997


Rating: PG for some general bad words and romantic stuff.

Disclaimer: The X-Files and the characters portrayed therein are property of C. Carter, Fox Broadcasting, 1013 Prod., etc. No copyright infringement is intended.

Spoiler warnings: I'm going to deal with a lot of stuff, including a few things from Season 4 - up to "Terma." Nothing too major, and even if you haven't seen season 4, this shouldn't spoil anything.

Relationship: SR, MSR. Non-relationshippers would do well to go and find something else to read.

Summary: An argument spurs Mulder and Scully to look a little deeper for the truth.

Hi all! Here's a new letter for the Alphabet files, "R". I know as a die-hard relationshipper that I read into those M&S looks, words, gestures and those *long* commercial breaks more than is intended. So this story is my chance to have M&S hear/see what I have. Now, to the story . .

"It's all interpretation

To find the truth

You gotta read between the lines."

Diamond Rio - It's All In Your Head

"I don't believe you can't see it!" Fox Mulder yelled, exasperated with his partner's lack of open mindedness. After all these years, after all they'd seen . . .

"And I can't see how you can ignore all the practical evidence!" Dana Scully threw back, angry at his accusation to her. She'd been there all those years and seen it too. . .

"Then explain it all to me Scully. How did these men wind up halfway across the country in less than two hours of being kidnapped? How could all the marks and signs of an alien abduction be there, and it still not be one?" he demanded, forcing her into giving him a good explanation.

"Mulder, there is no physical evidence that these men were ever taken against their will, let alone had anything happen to them that they couldn't have done to themselves. And as for their location, it is technologically possible to get from San Diego to Dallas in two hours by most commercial planes," she answered him with conviction.

He had known that she could give him a scientific answer. But he had asked anyway, just in the hopes of finding a hole in her theories. Now he could do nothing but frown at her flawless logic. He knew she was right, but it didn't mean he had to like what he'd heard.

A long silence fell after that, and they just stood there, watching one another. They observed each other, gauging their partner's attitude and composure. Searching for that one chink in the armor of the debate that would make them the victor. Yet the only flaw they could find they both ignored. Because it had nothing to do with the argument.

It did have everything to do with *them* though.

Their relationship was based on a lot of things, but mostly it was the mutual respect of ideas, skills, and character. But underlying all that was a singularly, unparalleled thing. A bond that rivaled, and in some cases surpassed most relationships. Most marriages. But it had never been tested in one way. It had never been acted upon, never physically consummated.

Looking into each other's eyes, the silent communication, the connection was there to be seen. And somewhere in the shifting hazel and the cloudy blue they knew they could have the answers to the most fundamental questions. The questions that they had been avoiding for years. Was theirs a love of lovers? A love that could withstand anything? Could they find happiness in each other's embrace?

They knew all they had to do to get those answers was ask the right questions, watch the other's eyes, and listen to each other's voice. All that was necessary was to read between the lines.

Suddenly it was just too quiet in the room, almost unbearably so. One right word, or one wrong one could bring everything crashing down around them. So instead of waiting for him to say anything, or for her to accidentally speak out of turn, Scully turned and headed for the door. Her actions jolted him from their stand-off, and he moved to head her off. He caught her hand as she got it around the door knob.

"Scully, where are you going?" he asked nervously. There was a little part of him that was afraid that if she walked out the door now, she'd never come back. And if there was one thing he had admitted to himself a long time ago about Dana Scully, it was the fact that he couldn't live without her.

"Out. For a walk. I think we both need some time to cool off, before either of us says anything we might regret," she explained. If she stayed, she knew she would say something, do something that she couldn't take back. Something that might destroy them. And she'd learned long ago that being by Fox Mulder's side was an addictive experience. There was no way she was willing to jeopardize her position without good cause.

She caught his gaze with hers for just a moment. They could see so much in each other's eyes. But there still was their tactic agreement not to speak of it. To never cross that line. In a heartbeat Scully turned the knob, and carefully slipped her hand free. Then she was gone, leaving him standing there.

Mulder stood and stared at the empty doorway, and someplace deep inside his soul began to ache.

When exactly he'd stopped looking at her as just his partner at work and started seeing her as his partner in life wasn't clear. He just knew one day she'd become the most important thing in life to him. More important than the truth. Even more important than Samantha.

His mind started wandering then, and he could picture so many events that had shaped that opinion. So many times there had been that look in her eyes, or a word or gesture that had driven home the fact that she felt something for him that she had yet to express to him. Something akin to what he felt for her.

When he thought about his feelings for Scully, there were two memories that he always thought of first. One was the stunning smile she'd given him when he'd woken up in Alaska. That smile was only matched by the one she'd given him after she'd woken from her coma. Her head had turned from the window and she'd flashed him that smile. Both times it had rocked his world, and he'd had a hard time forming words in the presence of it.

Then there were the words that stuck in his mind and wrapped around his heart. Like when they had sat in front of Eugene Tooms' place, and she'd said those words that had filled his heart with awe.

"I wouldn't put myself on the line for anyone but you Mulder."

Of course, moments before it she'd tried to call him Fox, but he'd put the kibosh on that fast. The first time had jarred him enough. A second time wasn't coming until she admonished her mom for calling him that in the hospital. But even then he'd secretly longed to hear it coming from her lips in a more intimate way.

Another such phrase didn't come until she'd dragged him halfway across country, to a room in New Mexico. As she'd made it clear that he was on his own, he'd been surprised about the risks she'd taken on his behalf. The next words that came from her mouth had penetrated his soul.

"I was sure that they would have killed you Mulder."

There was so much emotion and meaning in that simple, quiet statement that he hadn't even tried to sort it all out.

Then there were the actions that spoke louder than words. The dozens of times she'd saved his ass. Thrown herself into harms way for him. She'd tracked him down, halfway across the country to save him. She had broken laws, defied congress, put her job in jeopardy, become a fugitive and even denied her own beliefs in favor of his, all for him. And he knew that he could never pay her back. Never.

Of all the things that had moved him though, the looks that carried so much in them meant the most. Times when words would have only cluttered the feelings. Like when he'd stared down the barrel of a gun at her, his will being pushed by Modell. The fear and the trust mixed in her eyes, and a single tear had been their only release. He'd known how she felt about him in that split second.

They'd seen it then, but had subconsciously denied it.

But now . . . he didn't want to forget it. He wanted to admit it.

With a sudden need, he reached for his coat and hurried out the door. He had to find Scully.

Luckily it was late spring, and the weather was comfortable enough for her to be walking about without her coat. She'd left it in the office when she'd run out, but she wasn't about to go back for it. As it was she didn't know how long it was going to take her to throw her walls up again. It seemed every time they got closer to *that* point, it took her longer to put those protective barriers around her emotions.

There wasn't any rhyme or reason to her path, as she walked along the mall, passing the Reflecting Pool. But when she looked up and found herself at the park bench that she and Mulder had ended up at many times, she knew her subconscious had been leading her travels. With a heavy sigh she sat, leaning her head back and closing her eyes.

After all this time, she was coming to the conclusion that fate and love were both intertwined in hers and Mulder's future. She almost broke into a little smile at the memory of the root beer on the stakeout of Tooms. She had always wondered what he would have said to cover himself if there had been an iced tea in the paper sack.

All the half smiles and lopsided grins, frowns and smirks came back to her then in a kaleidoscope of pictures. Somehow it always amazed her how those looks effected her. How they made her emotions ran the gambit. Love and fury, devotion and humor. It was so easy to let him into her heart with all those expressions.

The time after her father had died, he'd put his hand on her cheek. Then the times he'd put his hand against her back. Or when he'd cover her hand with his own. Or wipe a strand of hair from her face. Or hold her . . . like when she'd almost died in Wisconsin. Or when her sister had died.

Then there were his words. They had always been short and to the point. The strangled sound of his voice saying her name as he struggled against Modell's will. It had been like hearing the voice of God call her. Then the little flippant comments that always made her wonder what was behind them.

"I think it's remotely plausible that someone might think you're hot."

"You never draw my bath."

"I just got very turned on."

"Scully . . . What are you wearing?

All of them held within them a grain of truth. Something that they both knew, but had denied. And in knowing they had made an unconscious decision never to acknowledge what they knew.

But it had begun to get too hard to lie to him, to herself. There were times when she wanted to do nothing more than take him in her arms and never let him go. To tell him of her love and devotion and her secret dreams for the future. A future with him.

Now, sitting on the bench, her head fell forward, her gaze now caught on the water. God, she wished she had the answers right now.

She wished Mulder was there.

Mulder headed out the office, and was soon walking along the mall. He didn't know if she would be there, but he knew he wanted to hope she would be. As he rounded a corner, he could see the red hair leaning against the bench's back. Slowly he came up beside her, and laid a hand on her shoulder before she looked up and saw his face above her.

Without asking, he walked around to the other side of the bench. As he sat, his coat caught underneath him, and he shifted slightly to free it, bumping into her. At the slight contact their eyes met and connected. And the heat and static that they had spent almost an hour trying to diffuse flared again, as if the time had never happened.

Again the silence fell upon them, and their eyes ripped away from each other. Long seconds passed before Mulder felt a tugging at his chest. He was still afraid of this, of the answers, but this time he knew he had to have them. He had to ask her this. He had to know once and for all. He *had* to.

"Would it kill you to believe in one of my theories Scully?" he asked suddenly with a quiet, unfamiliar edge to his voice. Only once he'd asked her did his eyes again meet hers.

Even as subtle as it was, she'd heard the hesitation in his voice. Then

she looked in his eyes and saw the actual question there, big as the world. It surprised and even hurt her a little that he would even feel the need to ask her it, after all this time.

<Can't you just once believe in *me*?>

She watched the man sitting beside her and saw the emotions shifting in his eyes, the expression on his face. Then she realized what exactly he meant by *believe*. And right there and then she knew he had to know the truth. He deserved it. They both did.

"I always give your theories the benefit of the doubt Mulder," she responded evenly, meeting the challenge of his question, both the spoken and the silent one. Somehow she knew he would see it.

Mulder heard the answer in his head, conveyed through her gaze. Even though she had told him it before, this time it moved him even more than ever. Because this time the connotations behind her words denoted so much. A depth of feeling that he'd suspected, but never imagined he'd see.

<I've always believed in you.>

They had begun to move closer, the anger long drained from their bodies. Replacing it now was a fire in their eyes. It smoldered with hidden, denied longings and passions. The only thing that remained of the illusion that they'd been holding on to was their spoken words.

And at the moment, that one small delusion was threatening to tear at the seams. Like a shirt that was too small. They both knew that there was a second when they could have gone back right then and there. Denied everything they had seen in the other, felt in themselves. But it was too late. They had come too far.

"Dana," Mulder said quietly, his voice barely above a whisper.

"What Mulder?" she answered, knowing that this was it. Her, their last chance to back out. But no one seemed to be taking it.

"Why do we keep putting distance between us? It's not what I want, and I don't think you want that either," he said, tilting his head up to met her gaze.

"I . . . honestly?" Scully asked, and he nodded for her to continue.

"No, I don't want that. But we can't cross the line. The work's still too important for us to compromise it with a questionable choice."

"Questionable? Don't you think it would work?"

Scully's head dropped at his words. For one of the first times they weren't understanding each other. But she wasn't sure how she could make him understand without saying the words that would push them over that line permanently.

"Fox," she barely breathed, and she could hear the sharp, shuddery intake of breath Mulder made at the sound of his name coming out of her mouth, "it's because I know it would work *too* well. There's no way we could hide. No way that it we could pretend that we didn't feel that way about each other. Where would that get us? Split up and the X-Files closed. Is it worth that?"

"I don't know Dana, but I do know that if we don't at least try, we'll regret it. If not today, then tomorrow, or the day after that."

"I always knew that we would come to this point, but I had assumed for some reason that it would be after we'd been split up again . . . when there wouldn't be anything to jeopardize. I keep wondering if we shouldn't wait for that day," she whispered, fearing her own wishes to not wait any longer more than his answer.

"And what happens if I lose you tomorrow Dana?" he asked, his voice rich with emotion. "If that day never comes when I can admit the way I feel before something takes you away from me? You'll make me spend my whole life wishing I'd told you the truth, that you'd told me the truth."

For the third time that day the silence fell heavily on them. She knew what he meant. She felt the same way. But to give in now . . . to acknowledge it for what it was . . . meant taking the risks along with it.

And they were considerable.

But then she knew that if she lost him now, right then and there, she would regret every day of her life not knowing what could have been.

"You know that I love you, don't you Fox?" she stated, her voice trembling.

He reached for her hands and gripped them tightly.

"I know Dana. And you know that I love you, right? That I've loved you ever since that first case," he replied, his tone rough with feeling.

She could only smile at that. That horrible case in Oregon, when she'd been so green and spooked by "Spooky" Mulder that she'd run to his room to check the mosquito bites on her back. She still couldn't believe that she could have ever thought that they were the same marks as the abductees. It was laughable.

"You just fell in love with me because I didn't laugh at your theories. And that I came to your room in my underwear," she teased.

"Yup. First time I ever wanted to violate Bureau policy by sexually harassing my partner."

There was another pause, this one full of hope and longing. And it wasn't long until Mulder broke it.

"Dana, I want to try this. I know we won't be able to flaunt it in front of the Bureau, that we'll have to be secretive and careful, but I need to be with you. I need for us to be together. As partners in every sense of the word," he said forcefully, even if his voice was just above a whisper.

"So do I. Come on G-Man, let's go," she added, smiling now. Standing, she then reached back to take his hand in hers and pulled him up.

Hand in hand, the agents walked back to the J. Edgar Hoover building, and the start of their new understanding. One based on *their* truth.


Alright - three to go! J.

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