|Primary Characters:||Mulder, Skinner, Scully|
|Description:||Mulder and Skinner get drunk together, and Mulder finds out how Skinner really feels about him.|
The last of the report had been made to AD Skinner. Mulder stretched and relaxed a little. It had been a long week, and now, Friday night, it was getting late. Time to get off work. The case had been closed, the suspect apprehended. All that was missing was his partner there to share in the triumph.
This time he just might have had the courage to ask her out. To celebrate, just as any two partners might after the successful closing of a case. But she had had to fly out to be with her family. One of her nephews had been injured in a minor accident, but Scully had felt that her presence was needed. So she had gone with her mother to be with her brother and his family in this time of need.
Skinner smiled a little at Mulder. It wasn’t often that you saw the AD smile and although Mulder liked his boss, he sometimes was a little intimidated by his stern ways. He reminded Mulder of his father. Even back then, Mulder had had a hard time living up to the expectations. Now that he knew he was doing good work, by himself, as well as with Scully, he still hungered for any small sign of appreciation.
Scully gave him some of that, but she was always so shy, he almost had to say. He wished he could read her mind. Did she really care as much about him as he did about her? There was no way of knowing, but he had at times thought he had detected just a small glint of love in her eyes. There was nothing in the whole world he wanted more than that. With a barely audible sigh, he got up, to return to his bare little apartment.
As any other Friday night he would sit there, watch some tv, get a little drunk, look through some magazines, or call one of those phone lines. The kind of thing any lonely man would do, unless he felt like going out for companionship. But since he had become aware of his feelings for Scully, he hadn’t really wanted to sleep with strangers. Not that he had all that often in the past.
Maybe twice since he had begun working with Scully, and maybe three or four times before that. There had been opportunities but somehow it didn’t hold so much appeal for him anymore. He looked back at his boss. Now surely, the work of the week was over. What was Skinner waiting for, staring at him like that?
“Would that be all, sir?”
“Yes, that seems to cover it, pretty well. Good work, Mulder.”
“Thank you, sir. Now if that’s all, could I -“
“Of course. Just one thing. Are you doing anything tonight?”
” No. Not really. Why do you ask?”
“Oh, no reason really, except I thought maybe you’d like to have a few beers. But if you’d rather get home -“
“Why not? Did you have anywhere in particular in mind?”
“My place? I have a sixpack in the fridge, and I could probably find you something stronger if that’s what you want.”
“Sounds good. I’ll just go back to my place and change.”
“Then I’ll see you around 8.30 perhaps?
“That will be fine. See you then, sir.”
Well, this was unexpected. Mulder had often enough gone out with other agents to have a drink, with or without Scully, but Skinner had never given any indication that he wanted to fraternize with the agents under his command. But come to think of it, having a beer with an old friend sure beat sitting alone in a dark apartment on Friday night. So he let the question go.
At home, he just took the time to feed his fish. Oh, no, another one dead. He really shouldn’t keep any pets. At least it was something to look at. Something alive. Not that it made him feel any less lonely. With a touch of guilt, he removed the dead fish and flushed it down the toilet. Sorry, little guy. Then he showered, shaved and changed into a pair of jeans and a t-shirt. What Skinner had in mind didn’t sound like a formal affair.
Skinner’s place was a little more luxurious than his own; better furnished and not so dark, but it still didn’t feel any more like home than Mulder’s own place. Mulder remembered that Skinner was separated from his wife, and as far as he knew, though they still saw each other from time to time, they hadn’t made any attempt to live together again. Another lonely man.
Mulder caught himself looking around for the magazines of the type he kept around the apartment. But of course a man like Skinner wouldn’t leave anything that incriminating around the house. When Scully first came to his apartment, he hadn’t really thought about removing the magazines, and now that she knew about it, he didn’t bother. But her amused look had made him feel ashamed of himself. The last thing he wanted was for her to think of him as some kind of animal.
Skinner seemed to be glad to see him. He smiled and offered to take Mulder’s jacket when he opened the door to him. Mulder let him take the jacket, then walked in and sat down on the sofa. It was big and comfortable. You could almost use it as a bed. But he could see a few doors leading off to other rooms, so he assumed that Skinner had a bedroom somewhere.
His boss went out into the kitchen, and returned shortly with the promised sixpack. After a few more trips there was a big bottle of vodka and a small dish of peanuts. Skinner shrugged apologetically about the spartan fare. But then Mulder hadn’t really figured him a man who would be standing around cooking.
Without much preamble they broke open the beers and got down to some serious drinking. Even if Mulder was kind of a loner, he sometimes enjoyed sitting around with the guys drinking, discussing sports and just hanging out.
“This is a nice place you’ve got here, sir.”
“Please, call me Walter. We’re off duty now.”
“Well, it’s all I can afford now that I’m paying for my wife’s house too. And why bother with something more fancy, when you’re working all the time? It would have been different if we’d had any children. But as it is… You know how it is.”
“Yes, I do.”
“I just wanted to take this opportunity to tell you how much I appreciate working with you. There is no better agent on the force today. Not in my opinion. Despite one or two minor problems with discipline.”
“Thank you, sir, I guess. I mean Walter. But aren’t you forgetting someone?”
“What do you mean?”
“Scully. In my opinion she’s the better agent. And the better person too.”
“Oh, I see. You’re right, I guess. Agent Scully is an excellent agent.”
Even though Mulder didn’t agree with Skinner about his own achievements, it felt good to hear someone finally giving him a little praise for once. His own father never had. And now it was too late. Skinner really reminded him of his own father. And this was someone who actually seemed to like him. He was touched.
The beer was helping him to unwind a little, and he was beginning to enjoy himself. After a while they turned on the tv set and watched some sports. It wasn’t anything special, nothing they really cared about, but it was fun anyway. From time to time they talked for a while, then they drank some more. When the sixpack was finished, they opened the bottle of vodka and had a few drinks. Nothing much.
Mulder had no intention of getting really drunk with his boss. And even though it had been a nice enough evening, it was getting late, and he really should be getting back home. On Sunday, Scully would be back, or so she had told him. He needed Saturday to sober up, in case she would surprise him and give him a call.
“Well, it’s been nice, but I really should get back now. Thank you, Walter. I had fun. Let’s do this again some time.”
Skinner moved a little closer on the sofa, and put a hand on Mulder’s shoulder. Normally, that amount of intimacy would have surprised Mulder just a little, but now the drinks in him made him feel touched. The man next to him might not be his father, but close enough. So he smiled back, more happily than he usually managed these days. It was the sort of smile that always worked on Scully, though he didn’t know it.
“Do you really need to go, Mulder? You’re welcome to spend the night here. On the sofa. You know, you shouldn’t be driving like this.”
“I’m not really drunk. I’ll be fine.”
Mulder tried to get up, but Skinner held him back. The touch on his shoulder got a little harder. What now? But Mulder wasn’t particularly alarmed. Skinner was a friend, someone he could trust. So he sat down again to listen to whatever confidence might be forthcoming. He had a thing or two he would have liked to get off his chest too.
But he really hadn’t figured Skinner as that drunk. Despite a certain heightening of his color, Skinner really seemed stone sober. If he didn’t stop it soon, Mulder felt he would be telling Skinner some sentimental nonsense about how his father never loved him. And if it came to that, he knew he would regret it in the morning.
But Skinner didn’t say anything more. Instead he let his hands do the talking. This really couldn’t be allowed to go on. Both of them would regret it in the morning. And working together after this kind of drunken foolishness didn’t bear thinking about. So Mulder tried again. He gently removed Skinners hands from his shoulders and tried to stand up. The alcohol was making him a little unsteady, so he fell back down again. This sofa really was kind of low.
Now Skinner was slipping an arm around him and getting closer still. One hand was fondling Mulder’s hair. Part of him knew quite well where this was leading. He had had to put a stop to things like that before, from time to time, especially when he was younger. It had been a constant source of disappointment to him that more men than women seemed to find him attractive. Another part of him just relished the closeness. How he wished his father had held him and touched his hair like this when he was a child.
So he didn’t shove his boss away. To hurt his feelings was unthinkable. He had to find a way to stop him more kindly. Mulder didn’t want this. But the nearness was having an effect on him. It had been so long. Those big, strong hands that could have caused so much hurt were gently caressing his skin. He could feel the fingers brushing his cheeks, his lips, his neck.
Now things were really going to far. He made one last feeble effort to pull away. Skinner didn’t even notice, but continued his stroking more and more effectively the further down his hands moved. Mulder felt them making their way in under his t-shirt. A fingertip brushed one nipple, and he instantly felt it stiffen. There was a shiver of anticipation down his spine. Why couldn’t it have been Scully doing this? All he wanted from Skinner was to be his father. No, his friend. He didn’t know anymore.
The feelings he was experiencing were washing away his judgment. Right now, someone was expertly touching him, stroking him. It felt so good. Skinner’s face came closer and now he felt a kiss on his lips. A tongue moved over his lips and inside. It touched his own, and he was lost.
Mulder closed his eyes firmly and tried to pretend it was Scully, or at this point, any other woman, but it was no use. He knew her hands would feel even better on his skin. Still, this would have to do. He was too far gone now to stop. The t-shirt had vanished, and Skinner must have removed his shirt as well. Skin on skin was making Mulder even more excited. Even if it was very obvious that this was no woman.
When he felt Skinners hands on his belt, he tensed up. No. Not that. Despite feeling hot all over, he tried to push away those strong hands, but somehow he ended up helping instead. His jeans fell to his feet and a skillful hand was under the elastic of his shorts. The hand closed on him and began working it with firm, expert strokes.
Mulder heard a soft moan and wasn’t sure which one of them had made it. His mouth was covered by Skinner’s anyway, so any sound was muffled. It occurred to him that he was being selfish and unfair. When he felt the hardness against his hip, he reached down and began reciprocating. Rythmic strokes, deliciously close, were bringing them off, simultaneously.
He felt himself being pressed down into the sofa and the heavy weight pinned him down. It wasn’t long before the climax, and he gave a low gasp. Then he felt Skinner slump down on him. As they lay there getting their breath back, he felt the sweat on their skin drying and he began to feel cold.
He didn’t want to fall asleep here and wake up underneath another man, even a close friend like Skinner. Especially not Skinner, his boss. Now that it was over, he felt something close to panic. How could he have done something like this?
The one time he had ever experienced anything like it he had felt the same. Guilty, ashamed. Dirty. He had only been 13 at the time, and he had never spoken to the older boy again. Would this same thing happen to him and Skinner now? He didn’t want that. All he had ever wanted was a little affection and appreciation. Not this. And now it was too late to go back.
It would be all too easy to blame Skinner. Had he planned this from the start? Getting him drunk and taking advantage of him? But even if he had, there was no ignoring the fact that very little persuasion had been needed. They were both as much to blame.
By now Mulder didn’t care if he offended his boss, he had to get out of there. Back to his own place. The shame he had felt when he knew Scully realized how he spent his lonely nights was nothing compared to this. In a way he felt as if he had committed incest.
The thought distressed him so, that he just got up, and pushing Skinner off, frantically began searching for his clothes. When he found them, he hurriedly dressed and fled from the apartment without looking back. At this point he was beyond worrying about how Skinner would react.
Back at his apartment, after a long shower, where he did his best to eradicate any traces of the shameful encounter, he was trying his best to convince himself this had only been a weird sex dream. It had happened before. In most of those dreams he had been with Scully. Those he didn’t mind. But in others he had had sex with many unlikely partners. Never Skinner, but once his own mother, once Samantha, and on one particularly miserable night, Krycek.
It was funny how that traitorous, double-crossing Russian had gotten under his skin. Those cool green eyes that could freeze you to your place or blaze at you like fire, how they could hold you captive, unless you forced yourself to look away. That dream had felt very real too, but this time he knew it was no dream. Not even a nightmare. For some reason he had done this…this monstrous perverted act. He was no teenager anymore. So why?
Worst of all, what would Scully think, if she ever learned the truth? He would never tell her unless…unless the miracle occurred and he dared to express his love for her, and even more of a miracle, if she returned his feelings. Only then would he feel obligated to tell her. But another part of him wanted to tell her anyway. He wanted her to say something cool and scientific and convince him it was no big deal. That men tried things like that all the time.
He knew they did. But he wasn’t like them. And most importantly, he was in love with someone else. For a second he had a vision of Scully staring at him reproachfully. ‘How could you, Fox’, she seemed to be saying with those lovely, but stern eyes. And he didn’t have an answer for her.
It had been so long and I never dared to believe you could return my feelings.
No, Scully would see through that feeble excuse. Mulder couldn’t think of anything that could excuse him for this. Not like his mother had, when he had confessed about his youthful indiscretion. Though, come to think of it, she hadn’t appeared unduly concerned. She had just smiled at him, so lovingly and told him that it was perfectly natural for boys his age to be confused about their sexuality. And besides, boys will be boys.
He took that to mean that once a certain barrier had been crossed a boy, or a man, might not be in command of himself. But that could also be used to rationalize away rape, and he felt strongly that wasn’t right. So in the end, he had felt just as confused as he had been to begin with.
It was hours before he fell asleep, and when he finally did, he dreamed of his entire family standing there looking down on him, scolding him. And there Scully was as well. All of them were staring accusingly at him. Then he had a flashback to the scene with Skinner on the couch, but this time it wasn’t Skinner anymore, but his own father. He woke up screaming from that one.
It was almost 7 in the morning of the next day. And suddenly the phone began to ring. He wasn’t sure he wanted to pick up. What if it was Skinner? But finally his common sense reasserted itself. Whatever he had done, he still had work to do, and he couldn’t crawl away into some corner like an injured animal. He lifted the receiver to hear Scully’s voice. She sounded apologetic about disturbing him this early.
“Did I wake you? I just thought -“
Her voice trailed off uncertainly, waiting for reassurance.
“No, of course not. Go on.”
“Well, the weather is so nice, and I thought we might go for a drive or a walk, if you prefer. I – I missed you. Being around the family can be a little too intense. I love my brothers, but their happy families, even at times like this, can be just a little too much to take. And my mother would just keep on – But you don’t want to know all this. Sorry, I – Maybe this wasn’t such a good idea. You probably have plans.”
Mulder thought for a moment. He could hide away here in this apartment that would never be a home. Or he could try one last time to show Scully how much he loved her. Maybe this was a good time after all. The shock from last night had shaken him badly. He had a feeling it was now or never.
Ten years from now, what would he be like? A pathetic creature, with no life outside his work, and these bare walls. Some phone sex once in a while, the usual porn magazines. And nothing else. No love, no future. Scully was all the future he had, and if she found someone else…
But if he tried this, he also had to tell her about him and Skinner. For his own sake as well as hers. He could just pretend it hadn’t happened, but that would be dishonest to her, and might prove fatal for the relationship if there ever was a relationship. His studies in psychology told him that. But it was hard to use that knowledge on himself.
“No. I don’t have any plans. I’ve missed you too. More than you know. Where do you want to meet?”
“I can drive over to your place and pick you up. There’s this place I’d like to go to. If you want to go for a drive?”
“Sure. You decide. See you in an hour?”
He got out of bed, and flung his clothes to the floor. Fortyfive minutes later, he was dressed and ready to meet her. As he caught his reflection in the mirror, he winced. His lips still felt sore from last night, but he knew that wouldn’t show. It was just his imagination. There was no way she could see or guess what had happened. Not unless he told her.
And he would have to wait and see how their meeting developed until he could make a decision about that. He could just see himself, like the distraught teenager he had been, blurting the whole incident out. To confess and receive absolution from the one person in the whole world who just might give it to him.
When he saw her car pull up in front of him, he felt the usual stab of what? (love? excitement? pleasure?) at the pit of his stomach. He opened the door and got in. She was smiling at him. At times he didn’t want to admit to himself how that smile moved him, but today he was ready to do so.
He smiled back, but for the first ten minutes or so, they didn’t speak. It seemed both were bracing themselves for something. What if she had come to tell him she had met another man? The disappointment of that would make anything else in his life meaningless. She was the one thing, the one person who could turn his life around. But would she even want to be with him when she learned about last night?
When they had finally nerved themselves enough to say anything, they both spoke at once. They laughed a little uneasily, and apologized. Then followed a ridiculous routine of ‘you first’, ‘no, you first’, until finally Scully gave him a look, and he found himself obeying without hesitation. So the moment had finally come, the one he had been alternately dreaming about, and dreading for years now.
He paused briefly to think of the words to frame this statement. This was one time he had to get it right. No more joking, no more big brotherly patronizing that he really knew was irritating her. If her own brothers were treating her that way, she didn’t deserve that kind of treatment at work, and far less in her personal life.
She stopped the car again and waited for his next move.
“Scully, there’s something I’ve been thinking about for a long time. I just don’t know how to say it, or even if I should dare to. The last thing I want is to ruin our friendship.”
At that perfect specimen of a cliche, she laughed softly, but he didn’t feel as if she was ridiculing him, so he went on.
“Maybe you have guessed some of what I’ve been feeling for you all this time -?”
There was a pleading in his voice that must have gotten through to her, but she didn’t give him any encouragement. He was on his own in this, and he knew it, so he just pushed on before he lost his nerve.
“Maybe it’s easier if I just say this without any more dumb cliches. Dana, I love you and I think I always have, from the first moment you walked into that basement room. Even if you were sent to spy on me, and to shut me down.”
He could see her opening her mouth to protest at that spy comment, but he had heard it all before, and even if it had been true, he had long since forgiven her. So he didn’t give her time to interrupt and sidetrack him.
“I guess what I want to know is how do you feel about me?”
“Mulder, I -“
He could see her struggling for words and thought she was trying to find a gentle way of letting him down. His eyes seemed to grow a little, and although he didn’t know it, they looked exactly like a sad puppy’s. But he had been wrong.
She stopped searching for words, and just reached for him. This time the kiss lasted much longer, and it was much more passionate. It took them both by surprise. All those repressed emotions from their years of working together, so careful not to spoil their professional relationship, spilled over in one moment of clarity.
She felt the same. But things were rapidly getting out of hand. The similarity to last night’s incident made Mulder pull back, ashamed. She had to know about that. Even though there had been no conflict in his mind about this embrace.
“What’s the matter?”
Now she looked just as vulnerable as he felt. He winced at the concern, the pain he saw in her eyes. How could he hurt her like this? But not telling her would eventually hurt her more, he knew that.
“I just have to tell you something.”
He could see her withdrawing, hesitantly, not sure about how to deal with this paradoxical behavior. First the declaration of love, and the kiss, and now this withdrawal. He sincerely wished he was right in telling her. But now it was too late to change his mind.
“Last night I was over at Skinner’s place. For a few beers and drinks.”
She seemed puzzled. This wasn’t leading anywhere that she could have foreseen. But she was content to wait and hear his explanation.
“I see, I didn’t realize that you were in the habit of seeing Skinner privately.”
“I wasn’t. This was the first time.
“Ok. I guess you were celebrating the closing of the Letzner file?”
“Yes. But things got out of hand. We – We kissed, and -“
He found himself unable to go on. The hurt look on her face caused him even more pain. Why did he have to do this to her, to himself? It was true what you said, with friends like these – But in this case it seemed to mean that he didn’t even need friends, all he needed was himself.
“You and Walter Skinner kissed? And -?”
“It didn’t go very far. We just – Like a couple of school boys.”
She was trying to digest this fact, analyzing it for the implications on what had just happened between them. The confusion in her mind was plainly reflected on her face.
“What are you trying to tell me? Which one of us are you really in love with?”
Her tone of voice seemed to further underline the distance between them. She was struggling to make sense of his conflicting messages.
“You, of course.”
He sounded hurt at the innuendo. In love with Skinner? The very idea was ridiculous. He didn’t think that even if he had been into men he would have chosen the A D as the object of his affections. The image of Krycek appeared for a fraction of a second as if to taunt him, but the absent assassin was not his problem this time, so he pushed that image away.
“Then why? Did you go there to explore something new? I am assuming this is something new? Or have there been other men over the years?”
“Of course not. I’m not gay.”
“You’d never tried anything like that before and then suddenly last night you did?”
Something about the way he reacted when she said that, prompted her to renew the question more emphatically this time.
“Have you ever had a sexual experience with another man?”
“Once when I was 13, something almost exactly like this happened. We’d been going through some porn magazines and things got out of hand.”
That didn’t appear to make much impression on her. She seemed to have suspected worse.
He was happy that he could at least reassure her on that account.
“Ok. But I have to ask, are you gay, or bisexual, and are you sure you were telling the truth just now when you said you loved me? If this is some kind of elaborate joke -“
“It’s no joke. I wouldn’t dream of joking about anything this serious. And to answer your other questions, no, I’m not gay, I’m not bisexual. I don’t know why last night happened.”
“Ok. I’ll take your word for that. I mean that you’re not gay or bisexual. You ought to know that by your age. Well, you’re the psychologist, you tell me what mechanisms that were at work last night. Go on. We have plenty of time. This is something we need to work through.”
Without questioning her, he tried to do as she asked him. At least she was still willing to hear him out. What was pretty obvious from the start was that this was wrapped up with his dad. He hadn’t wanted to face the fact that he also felt very lonely and unloved. While he had been sure Scully at least cared about him, underneath all his jokes and attempts at seeming cool and in control, he knew he had ached for some affection.
But like she said, he wasn’t young enough to be dragged into something like this unawares. Of course, one more factor to take into account was all that vodka he had drunk on an empty stomach. Apart from a few peanuts, he hadn’t had anything since lunch. But it still added up to very weak evidence in his defence. And Scully was still waiting for his answer.
“I suppose I associate him with my dad. Wait, this isn’t some kind of twisted Electra complex. I’ve never had any fantasies about sex with my own dad. But I guess I wanted to be liked and to be approved of by Skinner, since my dad never showed me any affection.”
The Electra complex comment made her smile, and he was so relieved that they could still share a joke like that. At least he wouldn’t lose her friendship over this.
“Yes, that seems to make sense. But is that all? Go on, tell me what happened. No, I don’t mean every single detail, I think I can imagine that for myself. But tell me what led up to it. And what you were thinking when you realized what was about to happen.”
“Well, we were a bit drunk, but I thought I could handle driving home. He said I shouldn’t drive and that I was welcome to spend the night on the couch. But I kept saying I was ok. Come to think of it, I might not have been. I did drink a lot of vodka, and I hadn’t had anything to eat all day.”
“That could certainly account for some of it. And then?”
“Then he held me back, and started to touch me.”
“Ok, I understand that part. But why didn’t you walk away?”
“I tried to a couple of more times. But he kept insisting. Not that he was trying to rape me. I could have pushed him away, I just didn’t. At first it felt so good to be touched again after all that time. By that I mean that he was touching my hair, my face, that sort of thing. And I thought if only my dad had ever done that even once. You know?”
“Yes, I do, actually. Better than you think. My dad was a wonderful man, but he never really touched me or hugged me either. I can’t remember ever sitting on his lap. When I was a little girl that sometimes hurt a little. My mother always hugged me, but never dad. But go on.”
“That was about it, I guess.”
He hung his head like a little boy caught at some prank, or right after having broken a window in someone else’s house. This was the part where it got really embarrassing. In fact it was mortifying having Dana imagining just what had gone on between them.
Just like he had hated his mother knowing about the first incident. It was so degrading to feel his own body betraying him. But he needed to get it all out, as a sort of catharsis. Trying to ignore his feelings, he went on.
“I don’t suppose you know, but I guess you get to a point when you can’t really think about stopping. You just go on.”
To his surprise she smiled. All wasn’t lost yet, apparently. And the worst of it was over now. He knew that. Even if they might never know exactly what had prompted him to accept last night.
“Actually, I do know. Biology, remember?”
“I mean biology. Elementary biology. I took it at college. And I’ve studied more about it later. Rape victims often experience a sense of shame after reacting involuntarily.”
But Mulder didn’t want to discuss rape right now, not after the incident a few months back, when he had been abducted by a serial rapist himself. She seemed to read his expression and left the subject.
“But that isn’t the whole truth, is it?”
“What do you mean?”
“I mean, you care about Walter, don’t you? You like him. One thing we haven’t discussed up until now is what might have motivated him. Have you thought about that?”
No, he had to admit he hadn’t. But it was making sense to him now. Skinner might have gone for a long time without sex, but unless he had been in love with someone, what would have stopped him from getting it somewhere? Like at a singles’ bar, or even from his ex-wife. Make-up sex could be sweet, Mulder knew that from experience.
So was this the answer? Skinner was in love with him? That put an entirely different slant on the whole affair. But it didn’t change the fact that it had been wrong of him to accept it. For both their sakes he shouldn’t have. But now he knew he must have sensed that there was more to Skinner’s uncharacteristic behavior than simply the need for sex.
Scully noticed him thinking about it, and went on.
“You know, that time when – when you were abducted, Skinner was the one who shot the man dead in there.”
“I know. I read the report.”
He was trying to sound nonchalant about it, but he could still feel the horror of being raped by another man. The fact that it had been going on inside his mind, and so in fact had not been real, did nothing to change the fact that he had felt himself being violated. That was something he definitely didn’t want to be reminded of. But she wasn’t finished yet, so he let her continue.
“I didn’t even know he had showed up on the scene, until I heard his voice. At that point I was pretty close to losing my head. In fact I was about to kill that man, without warning. You might be able to understand that. After all, I thought he had -“
“Yes, yes. You were saying -“
“And Skinner took over. He covered the suspect, while I went to you. You know the rest, but as Skinner and I faced each other over the dead body of that man, there was this look on his face. I know I had the same look. Because I love you, and then I knew that he did too.”
“Why didn’t you tell me this?”
“It would hardly have been the time or the place for it, would it? You were in hospital in a state of shock from the trauma you thought you’d been exposed to. Besides, he has as much right to love you as I do. You’re the one who has to make up your mind which one of us you want.”
“There’s no question about that. Never has been anyone but you, since day one. I care about Walter, just like you do, but to love him? All I ever wanted was for him to take my father’s place. I know, don’t tell me, he isn’t my father. And he doesn’t have to be. Being a good friend is enough.”
“Ok. Well, I’m glad we settled that. Aren’t you glad we had this talk?”
“Yes. I am. I feel so relieved. You have no idea.”
“Actually, I do. Why did you think I was asking you to come out here anyway?”
“You mean -?”
“Yes. After all my mom’s nagging about settling down with someone, adopting a child, you know the kind of thing -“
“Oh, I know. My mom was always saying things like that too, except about adopting a child. Just one thing. There never seemed to be an opportunity to say this. But you might not have to adopt a child after all.”
“What are you talking about? That poor little girl we found?”
He hurried to take her mind off that particularly distressing event. She always looked heartbroken whenever that topic came up.
“No. Not exactly. But at one time I found some of your ova.”
“In some test tubes. And I thought about what they’d done to you, and well, since I knew how much you wanted to have a child one day, I took one of them. And I had it put into storage at a cryobank. I hope you don’t object.”
“Object? How could I have any objections about something like that? I love you, Mulder. Thank you.”
And with that Skinner business settled once and for all, he again took her into his arms and began kissing her again, even more intensely than before. They went on like that for some time. But after a while they knew they would have to stop or else they would have to find a motel room to continue. So they looked at each other inquiringly and reluctantly let go. Not now, not like this. Certainly not this soon after last night.
But it didn’t really matter anymore. After today they had all the time in the world. Maybe the incident with Skinner had brought some good after all. Mulder knew that he might never had gotten round to telling her how he felt, unless he had been so badly unnerved by what had happened at Skinner’s apartment. He could thank his boss for that. But he didn’t think he would, not for a while anyway.
They didn’t allow themselves to consider Skinner’s feelings at all. For once they would indulge themselves. This was too precious to jeopardize in any way. Sometimes you don’t stand a chance, and in this case Skinner didn’t. But they didn’t think badly of him, all the same.
After all, hadn’t they both taken a chance today? Both knew they might be rejected, but not trying would be worse. Not knowing the answer to the question bothering them day and night. Now they knew, and the agony of waiting had been worth it.