Till I Loved You

By Jeannine Ackerson


Apr 30, 1997


Rating: A strong PG for language.

Disclaimer: The X-Files belong to C. Carter, FOX, and 1013 Prod. They don't belong to me. "Till I Loved You" is by Restless Heart and doesn't belong to me either.

Spoiler warning: Nothing after 3rd season.

Relationship: This is an MSR. This is a song story. If you don't like either of these kind of things you should skip this story. <g>

Summary: Mulder is doing some soul searching at a local bar when a song sets him on his ear.

Hi All! This has to be my all time favorite "Mulder Angst/Romance" song. It's a little different than I usually do these, but hopefully you will find it to your liking. Now, let's get to the story . . .

<This place is a dive.>

Fox Mulder knew it, but he didn't care. It was one of those tough, smoke filled, manly men bars with the wood paneled walls and the poolroom in back. The tables looked like they were cleaned once in a blue moon and the fake leather upholstery was cracked and ripped. To complete the "ambiance", the bartender was a two hundred plus pound man who looked like he belonged in a wrestling ring rather than behind the bar.

<You'd think the guy would wear a shirt with sleeves.>

But the real reason he was here instead of any of the more "respectable" bars in town was that it was dark. He could hide in the corner in the shadows, nurse his drink, and think about why he was there.

<Hell, I know why I'm here. It's because its' been a shitty week and I needed a drink.>

They'd had another multiple child abduction case. God, he hated them. With a passion. Sure, he'd gone out there expecting to verify tales of aliens and UFO's, but instead he'd gotten child abuse and stranger abduction. Two of the things he despised most in the world. And he'd had to deal with them for seven days. And yesterday had been the worst of it all. November 27th.

<The anniversary of Sam's abduction. Damnit, why'd we have to be on this stupid case on this one day out of the year?>

That in itself would have been enough to send him spiraling into this self-destructive behavior, but no, that wasn't enough pain for him to deal with. No. He had to almost lose his partner.

<I almost didn't get there in time. Just like before . . . >

Angrily he took another sip of the dark amber liquid in his glass that he'd ordered and felt some satisfaction as it burned his throat slightly on the way down. Some more discomfort to add to the pain and anguish he was already feeling.

They'd finally tracked down the sadistic bastard to an abandoned house, where he had been keeping and assaulting the children he was kidnapping. It had been a lucky break to find a neighbor that was willing to speak up. More than rare that she was actually paying attention to the strange goings on in her neighborhood.

Knowing that there were a couple of kids in there, they'd gone in quietly, hoping to surprise the guy. Except it had been them who had been taken unawares.

<I should have stuck right by her side.>

There hadn't been much room to the place. The main door had led straight into some kind of living room, and the kitchen and bedroom were right off of that space. They'd swept the first room, and he had poked his head and gun into the kitchen while she followed the wall towards the bedroom. He'd heard her shove the door open, looking around the room and then he glanced down along the wall and watched as she disappeared into it.

After figuring out that their suspect wasn't in the kitchen he hurried to catch up with Scully. Except before he got there, the asshole had jumped her from behind, knocking her much smaller frame to the floor. Somehow she'd maintained consciousness, and had struggled to reach her gun before he could reach it.

<Damn, she's so tough. Stronger than I am, that's for sure.>

He took another swig of the straight whiskey as he continued to let his mind dredge up the memory of this recent, alarming event.

But the guy had beaten her to it. He'd just cleared the doorway when he saw the perp raising her gun, bringing the barrel nearly flush to the back of her head. Seeing her pinned there, death only a second and a bullet away, he'd lost it.

He had blown a hole clean through the guy's brain without thinking twice. It took a couple of long seconds for him to yank himself back to reality. With a shake of his head, he had raced to his partner's side and hauled her out from underneath the body. Looking her over, he had noticed the slight cut on her brow, and his frown had deepened as he pulled a tissue from his pocket and dabbed at the sticky blood congealing there. Together they stood, and she'd almost stumbled when she tried to walk, so he ended up having to wrap an arm around her waist as she clutched her left arm against her body. He'd navigated her out the door before the first set of sirens cut through the stagnant air.

<It was too damn close!>

The locals and the Bureau field office operatives escorted them first to the county hospital, then to the police headquarters. It had been a long, drawn out process; giving statements and filling out all the forms in triplicate. Once they had finished, he'd driven them back to their motel, they'd haphazardly packed their bags and then headed home a little worse for wear: her with a broken arm and a mild concussion and him with a deep gnawing anger and fear from the last seven days of horror, and *especially* from the last few hours.

The trip back had been surreal. He had touched her whenever he could. A hand on her back or covering her own. Staying right beside her, and leaning into her space on the flight back. Just little things to assure himself that she was ok. That she was real. That he'd been in time. That for once in his God forsaken life he'd actually come to her aid when she needed it.

Once they were back, he'd gotten her safely home and then headed here without pause.

He didn't want to have an audience that gave a damn about him drinking and brooding. Someplace that would be bright and friendly. He wanted the dark, noisy, roughness a "bar" could give him. And this place had fit the bill nicely.

In the nearly two hours he'd been there, he'd finished half the whiskey in the short rock glass. Of course, the fact that he hated whiskey with a vengeance was partly the reason. The other reason was that he knew that he couldn't drink himself into oblivion.

<I can't get drunk or they'll call Scully to pick me up.>

He took another long swallow, nearly draining the glass. He looked down at the table, eyes tracing the wet ring of water from the bottom of the glass.

He had been lost in thought until some jerk fired up the jukebox. The infernal device began spewing out a fast, heavy country song. It certainly seemed to fit the place, but it was nothing that interested him, so he lifted his head to glance around the place again.

He had half expected a brawl to break out since the moment he'd walked in. The bar had drawn in an especially rowdy crowd tonight. There had been heated, drunken arguments and more than a few guys had been told to 'take it outside'. One of the patrons at a center table had been pawing at the pretty blonde waitress every time she went past. The guy was an ass and most certainly had had too much to drink. The last time the jerk had done it, he had almost gotten up from his seat and decked the guy.

Of course, the fact that when he looked at her he could only see a beautiful, petite redhead might have had something to do with his being so pissed off about it.

<Stop it!>

He drained the last of the liquor from the glass and toyed with the thought of ordering another. Just to shut up his mind. He knew that the images, the memories were his subconscious' way of trying to get him to face facts. That the real reason he was here had more to do with his feelings for his partner than anything else. That close call earlier had just served to wake up all the slumbering emotions that he had for her. There had been numerous other times when his thoughts had turned to her like this, but tonight he couldn't get them to go away.

Usually when they attempted to surface he would ruthlessly try to suppress them. Normally a bout of reminding himself of the dangers their relationship could bring would be enough to repress them. Other nights he ended up coddling the passion by indulging in that "hobby" that wasn't his. On occasion he had even gotten as far as having to tell himself that even *if* he could figure out a way for it to work, she'd never want him.

But tonight . . . tonight he was having to resort to the liquor.

<Damn. I haven't had to do this for a long time. Not since Comity.>

That had been a fiasco. What with the backbiting comments and the sexual tension between them that could have devastated weaker people, then the whole thing with Detective White . . .

But she would never have believed him if he'd tried to tell her that he'd drunk that bottle of vodka and orange juice concentrate because he had been out of his mind lusting after her. He'd never said anything to her because he knew she wouldn't believe him.

Wouldn't she?

After a succession of hard hitting, fast country songs, a mellow sound began to emanate from the jukebox, interrupting his train of thought. Lilting strains from a piano assaulted his hearing, forcing his complete attention by the time the male tenor started singing.

"Till I loved you . . . "

<That's a funny opening line. Till I loved you what?>

"I didn't know the meaning of the word

I was only taking

Giving nothing in return

My life was an empty page

Less than an even trade"

<I had to admit that. I've been running around chasing those demons. Giving very little back in my campaign for the truth. I thought I'd loved Phoebe. God, I couldn't have been more wrong. That was pure and unbridled lust, and it had never amounted to anything. Ultimately it had nearly destroyed me.>

His head dropped forward, almost resting on his hands clutching the glass. The waves of emotion that the words were stirring up weren't helping him any. And at this point, he didn't have the strength to fight them anymore. So he found himself being carried along on the tide of his feelings and the lyrics of the song.

"Till I loved you . . . "

<I had decided that I was destined to be alone. Until that fateful day . . . >

"My heart was an island unto itself

I thought I needed no one

Till I looked into your eyes

I knew it all right then

I saw what a fool I'd been"

<I had turned in my seat and saw this beautiful, intelligent, determined agent walk in my door and I was hooked. Instantly. The moment our eyes met, I knew exactly what I'd been looking for all along had just appeared out of nowhere. An angel who packed a Sig Sauer. And she had a name. Dana.>

"Till I loved you . . . "

<I didn't know that really falling in love could be the answer to all my prayers.>

"I didn't know what I was missing"

<Then as we worked together, and the fit was so perfect I understood what it was to have a soul mate. To be one half of a whole. I'd found my missing part.>

"Till I loved you . . . "

<I'd never known that I could fall for someone in about the same time than it took to become friends.>

"Taught me that dreamers

Don't need wings to fly"

<I had always been out there with my theories. Part of the reason they call me "Spooky". But she brought me back to earth. She let me fly off and then ease me back to reality in such a gentle way. Bringing me down with a bridging of my insanity and her logic.>

"Till I loved you . . . "

<I had never been more afraid for my own life. When I thought she might be dead that dreadful night so long ago . . . >

"I had never tasted tears of joy

When I take you in my arms

There's no doubt in my mind

This is where I belong

The loneliness is gone

I was living my life all wrong"

<I had cried when I realized that I might have given up my last chance at revenging her. I had cried because I thought that she was gone, forever out of my reach, out of my life. But she'd come back. And then in Minnesota . . . I'd pulled her up into my embrace and had wanted to never let her go. I knew at that exact moment what love was. I felt every dark thing wash away from my soul in her arms. The Guilt. The Pain. The Fear. The Loneliness. The only thing that was left was the love.>

"Till I loved you . . ."

<I hadn't realized that I've never been in love before. I know that now. Because everything pales in comparison to this.>

Slowly the lyrics, and then the music died away, replaced by another boot stomping, cowboy howling tune. With the absence of the soft, soul-wrenching song, Mulder pulled himself out of his treacherous, seductive thoughts. But not before one last revelation forced its way to the front of his understanding.

<And two nights ago I realized that I couldn't survive if she died. It's that simple. I love her too much. I *need* her too much. And I need to tell her that.>

Wrenching himself from his seat, he shoved a five under the glass on the table and headed for the door.

The drive over to Scully's apartment had been just within the legal speed limits. Some part of his brain that wasn't focused on thoughts of her had told him that he would make better time if didn't get caught for speeding.

What couldn't have been less than a half an hour later, he was standing in front of her door.

He stood there, impatiently waiting for her to answer after he'd given the door a couple of knocks. Only after what seemed to him too long, he started fishing around for his keys. He had the key to her apartment there, and if he had to, he'd use it. Glancing down at his pocket where he was rummaging for the key, he caught sight of his watch. It was late. She was probably asleep . . .

Then before his mind could form another thought, the door flew open, revealing the form of Dana Scully. His eyes desperately latched onto her as if he hadn't seen her in years.

Seeing her there, her usual tough exterior of her business suits replaced with a satiny pair of pajamas, his resolve to tell her why he'd come over before he kissed her nearly broke. Then the sight of the white cast on her left arm practically slapped him in the face, and all the fear and anger rose up inside him again. He'd almost lost her again. And all because he'd been careless.

"Mulder?" she asked questioningly, opening the door for him and directing him inside.

He was wearing the same suit he'd had on that evening when he'd dropped her off. It looked rumpled and dirty. The smell of smoke and liquor clung stubbornly to the fabric, and it didn't take a rocket scientist to figure out where he'd been all night. The only question she has was as to *why*.

"Hi Scully," he said, the breath he expelled in saying the words lightly flavored with the liquor he'd consumed.

She looked at him, smelling the remnants of the liquor on his breath and wondered if he was drunk. But the way his eyes focused clearly on her and how his mannerisms and stance were as normal as usual, she knew that he was completely sober. Maybe one drink had passed his lips, but not much more than that.

"Are you coming in?" she asked, and then took his arm in hand and pulled him inside, shutting the door behind him and throwing the locks. Even if he wasn't drunk, she was going to put him up for the night. Of course, some coffee right about now probably wouldn't hurt.

She guided him towards the couch and he went willingly, awed by the power over him that she seemed to command so effortlessly. Only when he'd sat down and she'd let go of him, turning back towards the kitchen did he make any move to initiate anything.

Before she could escape the reach of his arms, he nearly lunged forward, catching her waist. Then with every ounce of his strength combined with his emotions he pulled her back to his lap, turning her as he did so, her face coming into profile as he rested her across his legs.

Startled, Scully looked at him with confusion. Her good arm was pressed against his chest, and her left was immobilized in the sling. She tried to move away, but he held her fast, unwilling to give up his prize.

"Scully, please, sit still," he said intimately, his breath ruffling the auburn hair by her ear. "I need to tell you something, and it would help if you didn't go running off before I can get the words out."

At that cryptic yet serious comment, the fight drained from her and she simply sat there, regarding him thoughtfully. For as long as she'd known him, Mulder had really never been the kind of person that was overly open about his emotions. Yet, here he was, doing something that she'd never thought he would ever do: hold her tightly in a nearly lover's embrace. And she couldn't help but think it was the most provocative thing she'd ever done, just being held like this by him.

With her still and silent in his arms, he forged ahead, willing himself to finally say the words that had been plaguing his heart for so long.

"Scully, there are some things that I've never told you. Mostly because I was afraid to say them to you. But after today," he told her, his voice thick with emotion. "I almost lost you today Scully. If I had been two seconds slower . . . "

"Mulder, you got there in time. I'm fine. A little banged up, but alive. Thanks to you," she said, trying to reassure him with her words and her eyes.

He caught her gaze with his own, blue and hazel locking with an intensity neither of them had experienced between them before. This time the fear and desperation of her narrow escape from death had brought the situation to the forefront. And now, looking at each other, he knew it had always been just a matter of time before he admitted the truth.

"But you *could* have been killed. And I would never have had the chance to tell you . . . " he started, then his voice trailed off, unable to finish.

"Tell me what?" she asked, her voice a mere whisper of its normal strength.

He removed one of his hands from her waist, and brought it up to caress her cheek. Staring at her, her face open and hopeful, he had to blink hard a few times to fight back the tears that were threatening to form and spill in his eyes. If he was going to do this finally, he was going to do it right.

"Till I met you Dana, I didn't know what it was like to really *love*," he said reverently, pulling her head closer to him, their eyes still connected and lips closer together. "And now that I know, now that I've felt what it is to love you, I don't ever want to lose that. I don't want to lose *you*. I love you so much."

Then it was her turn to fight back tears as his words touched her heart and soul. The part of her heart that had loved him almost since that first day expanded, engulfing all of her in the feelings of his love and her love for him.

"I love you too Mulder," she said quietly, a single tear breaking from her lashes and tracking down her cheek.

With that final confession, he knew that he had been right. It *had* been too close. He'd almost lost her. Almost missed feeling like this, being with her like this.

As he wiped the tear away, a beginning of a smile tugged at his lips. Then he pulled her head down to press his lips against hers. The contact was breathtaking, and the sensation of their bodies pressed against one another was more of a reaffirmation to their survival and determination to be together than anything he could have ever known. They reveled in the feeling of their lips meeting, knowing that their hearts and souls were joining with their kiss.

When he finally let her pull back, they grinned at each other, rejoicing in the feelings that they'd finally spoken and acted on. She struggled to get up, and he let her, giving her a helping hand. Once she was standing, she reached down for him with her good hand. He looked up into her eyes and saw the silent invitation there.

Placing his hand in hers, he got up, and they walked together to her bed, to sleep in the same place for what they knew was to be the first of *many* more nights together.


<sigh> Shipper fluff. <g> Well, hope you liked it, and a reminder: all feedback is happily received and *always* answered. J.Author's note: Any mistakes in spelling and grammar are NOT the fault of my wonderful beta reader (My gram) because she didn't get to proof this.

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