What Time? III:

Evening Falls

By Jeannine Ackerson




Rating: PG.

Disclaimer: The X-Files, FM & DS and the rest belong to CC, FOX & 1013

Prod. I'm just taking them on a joyride, and will bring them back in a few hours. <g>

Spoilers: For "Jersey Devil".

Relationship: UST/MSR. So if you're not into this, please skip this story.

Summary: Scully starts thinking about the dark and Mulder in the same terms, leading to some interesting acknowledgments as to how integral he is to her.

Hi All! Another time *zone* here. (Finally!) This one's a Scully piece, similar to Mulder at "Dawn". What can I say... they have different ideas about when to ponder these things. <eg> Anyway, let's get to the story. . .

Dana Scully sat at her window, looking out at the sunlight disappearing as the darkness began to encroach on the city.

There was something about the dark and the loss of the sun that evening that made her fearful. Maybe it was that little part of her mind that thought she might not wake to see another sunrise. It was possible. The life she led wasn't a safe one. She knew that and had made her peace with

it many years ago.

No, the more she thought about it, she realized that her fear tonight had to do with the work she did and the man she did it with.

The X-Files.

And Fox Mulder.

She tucked a leg up underneath her as she stared out onto the fading colors. It had been a long time since she'd seen a "real" sunset. Back in the days of being on the West Coast she'd seen her fair share. But she had learned to appreciate the sunrises the East Coast provided her. And now, the fading of the light and the approaching dark seemed natural to her.

She sighed slightly under her breath. What was it about evening, the fall of night that made her think of her career and her partner?

Both seemed dark, and during the light of day it was easier to forget, to disbelieve that they were sometimes lost and disheartening. The job was easy enough to think of that way. The dead bodies, the possessions, the fear. . . it was an everyday thing for the X-Files. But what did that have to do with the man?

At that, her thoughts drifted off and settled on the man that had been part of her life now for so many years. She remembered the things he'd told her, things he'd done, places they'd been and things that they'd shared. And finally it all seemed to make perfect sense.

Mulder was the ideal dark hero. A Hamlet or Mr. Rochester or Heathcliff. One of those brooding, mistreated characters. One that had so much light and love trying to shine its way into their life and heart, but they never noticed it. Or at least they never really realized it was there. Not to the degree that it could really change them. Bring them into the light.

It was the perfect description of Mulder.

And if he was the dark hero, what was she? The heroine? The damsel in distress? The femme fatale? The true love? The sidekick? Or all of them perhaps. . .

But even if that was the case, why had she let herself become these things. Why had she worked with him, accepted the assignment with the X-Files in the first place?

Looking back, she had to admit that the first year she had been there for him and the job out of a sense of duty. The second year, marred by her abduction had found her returned with new hopes and new convictions. And she had come back to the X-Files with a new sense of purpose: to be there for him. The partnership had become something more than work and less than social. There were times when her home was their office, and the basement a makeshift dining room.

It was with that understanding that she finally recognized herself as the heroine of the story. The one prevailing believer in the man that was the reluctant hero. The woman who wanted to redeem him. Save him. Love him. . .

She let her eyes close against the fading light as she acknowledged that emotion to herself. She loved him and maybe he loved her.

God. . . She loved him.

How exactly had she let this happen? When had it happened? She wasn't sure, but there were a few things she did know. And one of them was that things had really changed between them when she'd realized how much he wanted her in his life. Any way he could have her. As his partner, his friend and whatever else he seemed to gain from their platonic relationship. But she was sure that he did care for her more than as just a friend.

It had been the simple little things that had clued her in to how he felt.

Yet there was one thing she knew as certainly as she knew that she lived: He would never say the words to her. Never. That would be pushing something that he was sure wasn't there. He'd gotten his mind set that he would be alone the rest of his life. That he would search for his sister until he found her. Would discover the truth that no one wanted him to uncover. And he could never ask for anyone to be beside him through it all. To ask someone to attach themselves to him for the rest of their lives.

But she'd joined him faithfully and of her own free will in his "dangerous purpose". And that had made the difference. In his life, and in his heart.

And the decision was made for them both in the hospital room after she'd been returned.

Then that third year, when she thought that he was dead, only to have him come to her in her dreams had been an epiphany for her. The relationship that they had between them, unspoken though it might have been was strong enough for him to reach her when he was on death's door and thousands of miles away. He'd returned to her as she had needed to believe he would. And with that return, she had decided that she would never doubt them again.

As the darkness finally enveloped the room, she walked to the lamp by the couch and turned it on, chasing away the night with the halo of brightness. There were days she did that for him. She was sure of it. The days when his laughter came more freely and more honestly. Times when he wasn't afraid to let her comfort him. The silences that spoke volumes to the right ears and were anything but uncomfortable. Smiles that lightened her heart and filled her soul.

All those things were given to her in return for her unconscious, unconditional love. The fact that he didn't realize that that was what he was paying for with those gestures heartened her even more. The fact that he gave them to her just because he wanted to made her feel special. . . the FBI's *most* wanted.

Her mind continued to muse over the feelings that he inspired in her. How deeply his eyes looked into her soul without even trying. She sighed as she let herself recognize and feel each emotion.

Turning towards the couch, she sat and watched the shadows created by the light in the dark. It was something like how she felt their quest was viewed. Candles that tried to illuminate the truth, but only seemed to light a small portion of it, while the rest remained distorted or out of range.

Yet she wouldn't trade a single day. She had to thank the smoking man and Blevins and all the other FBI players that had thought she would be the key to bringing down the renegade agent for what she had. They'd thought she'd stop "Spooky" Mulder. Put and end to his quests. How could they have known that they were teaming her with the most important person she would ever known. One that filled the empty corners of her life, and made everything else seem unimportant.

For how else could she explain the things that had happened to her, except to say that since she'd met Mulder, been with him, that she'd slowly stopped needing things because what she got from him was infinitely better.

Hell, she had stopped looking at other men long ago. What was the point, she had decided. Her last date had been with that tax and real estate planning guy that she'd met at her godson's birthday. And she'd been almost thrilled when Mulder had called to interrupt their evening. And when her would-be date called for a second time, she didn't even have to think twice about telling him that she wasn't interested.

The truth was that Mulder had spoiled her for other men. And she didn't care, as long as she had him in her life. As her friend and partner, or as more, perhaps. . .

Over the mantle, she heard the chime of her clock, telling her how late it really was. It seemed funny in a way that she had forgotten all about the fear she had when night had first begun to fall. Instead she'd been thinking of Mulder, and that had brightened her spirits and her heart.

Getting up, she headed for the kitchen, planning on fixing a late meal.

Before she could get that far, she was sidetracked by the ring of the telephone.

"Hi Scully," came the velvet voice of her partner over the line.

"Hey Mulder. So, what's going on that I'm getting a call from you at this hour?"

"Nothing much. Just thought I'd call and see how you were."

There was a brief moment when Scully was sure she could hear the emotions between his words. When she could tell what he meant and what he wished he could say. And it struck her at her core.

"Thanks Mulder, I'm fine," she replied lightly, settling back on the couch and let herself imagine him in a similar position in his apartment. "So, is there anything else you wanted?"

There was a long pause when she could almost hear what he wanted to say. The unsaid feelings that he couldn't or wouldn't express. The *real* reason for his call.

"No, not really," he replied with a wistful tone to his voice. "I'll see you tomorrow."

She was tempted to say something else. Even the truth of what she felt and thought that he felt as well, just to keep him on the line. But she stopped herself. This wasn't the time or the way to break the mutual silence. They needed to do this face to face. And it was something that could wait. Till morning, till next week. . . It didn't matter when. It would be said eventually.

"Night Mulder."

And as she hung up the phone, she smiled at the receiver. Soon there would be a day that when evening fell, they would be together. She was certain of that. As certain as she was of the sun coming up in the morning.


Well, there's another story in the series. Look for at least one more. J.

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