Title: Not For Too Long
Summary: Come on... *somebody* had to fill in that missing scene at the beginning...
Notes: Alright, I know it's really soon, but this story was *begging* to be written, so I did it. Of course, it had to be done before Sunday because by 10 pm, I'm sure all my illusions will be crushed, all my bubbles burst and all my dreams deferred. Just like last week! So enjoy it now... :)
Another Important Note: It has come to my attention various times throughout my story posting history that there is another "Starbuck" out there. She is not me. My email address, however, has been the same since I was in 9th grade (a looong time ago), so anything with this address is by me (but dear god, some of the older stuff is so horrific I don't even want to take credit for it), and anything with another address is her.
She stared at his bags, all lined up. At first glance, it looked like someone was moving in. But Scully knew better. She knew that he was leaving her.
William whimpered against her shoulder and she patted his back lightly, letting his quiet noises calm her as much as they could. Things had only just come together, and already they were falling apart.
"It's okay, baby," she whispered, "It's going to be okay." The words flowed easily from her, but she wasn't sure who she was trying to convince. Just two days ago, she had thought things were finally as they should be. Loose ends had been tied up, long-past-due declarations had been made, and two halves that had been separated eight long months ago were finally put together and made whole again. But something else happened that Scully hadn't had a clue about. Two days ago a plane ticket was bought to a destination that she would never know, couldn't know.
The sound of the shower stopped, and she heard the frosted glass door slide open. A wave of dread spread over her, and she tried to hold back the nausea that crept up from the very bottom of her. Everything that he did brought him closer to the time when he would...
Scully sucked in a long breath and turned back towards the bedroom. Mulder was standing shirtless by the bed, buckling his belt, when she walked in. She stood in the doorway, leaning her head against the doorframe as she rubbed William's back. She kissed his fuzzy head, and Mulder turned to face her, a forlorn expression on his face.
"Hey," he said dejectedly.
"Hey," she replied.
He walked over to her, still shirtless and placed his hand on her shoulder. She squeezed her eyes together and sharply sucked in another breath. Only when he whispered her name, his voice catching on the word, did she meet his gaze. What she saw there was desolation, regret, hurt. And she was sure the same was reflected back in her own eyes. His fingers gripped more tightly on her shoulder for a brief second before relaxing slightly.
"Scully... it won't be for too long. I'll be back. I promise." He took a deep breath and leaned forward, pressing his forehead to hers as he had done so many times before. "I just... Scully, I wouldn't want to do anything that would put you, or Will, in any kind of danger." He sighed. "We don't know what's happening right now, and..." he trailed off as Scully nodded her head against his in understanding.
"I know, Mulder." The words were quiet, reserved. Her voice was so sad, it nearly broke his heart in two. His eyes and his nose began to sting, and he knew he was going to cry.
"I love you, Scully. More than anything in the wor-" His voice broke of into a half-sob, and he swallowed before finishing. "More than anything in the world." Tears were flowing, silently and constantly down his face now and Scully raised the hand not supporting William to wipe some of them away.
"I love you," she whispered as her own tears began to fall. Mulder wrapped his arm around her shoulders and pulled her, careful not to squish the baby, against his chest. She was sobbing in earnest now, sniffling and rubbing her face against his bare skin, her right arm wrapping tightly around his waist. "Oh, Mulder." She said so softly he could barely hear her, and rested her forehead against his chest. Mulder lifted a hand and ran it over her hair, bending to kiss the top of her head.
William began whimpering again, and Scully pulled back to look at him. One tiny arm emerged from the blanket and shook in the air for a few seconds as he cried before returning to its place against the baby's tiny cheek. Mulder carefully regarded the little boy held closely against her chest. The anguish of what he was about to do, what he *had* to do, he reminded himself, was threatening to bring back in full force the tears that had just barely subsided. No, he thought, distract yourself, don't cry in front of her anymore today. It was hard enough to leave already. He stepped away from the two of them, giving himself some distance.
"I'm gonna, um, put on a shirt," he said, turning away and bending to pick up the t-shirt and sweater from the bed. As he slid the clothes over his head, he took a deep breath and closed his eyes. He needed strength to do this, to walk out. He knew that he was doing the right thing but it stung like a thousand slaps in the face, a thousand harsh words, and every second away from her would feel like a thousand years without breath. Oh, Scully... why do I always have to hurt you?
His navy blue sweater now in place, he turned around to face her once again, expecting more tears. But Scully's face was a mask, cool and collected. And that scared him more than anything he'd seen in his time on the X-Files.
"Scully, no. Don't do this, don't distance yourself from me. Not now," he pleaded with her, placing both his hands on her shoulders and searching out her eyes, which she avoided deftly. "You have to know how much I care, Scully. How much I don't want to do this." She met his eyes and anger flared in her own momentarily, icing over the blue pools for the briefest of seconds.
"Damnit, Mulder, then why do you have to do it?" The anger in her eyes was gone, replaced by hurt, rejection, self-consciousness... and then regret for her words. She didn't want to irritate him now, didn't want to make him feel any more guilty. If he wanted to leave her, she shouldn't stop him. She knew that he loved her, she really did. But no matter what arguments he gave her about her being in danger because of him, she knew that she would only ever feel safe with him by her side. She wanted to understand, and on an intellectual level, she did. But that didn't make it any less difficult for her heart to accept it. "I'm sorry, Mulder. I shouldn't have-"
"No," he said quietly, placing a finger against her lips. "Scully, I don't want you to think that I'm a coward. That I'm just walking out on you because I can't handle this," he waved his hands in between them. "I want to be with you more than anything. A hell of a lot more than I want to move to some other city. But for reasons that you and I both know, I have to go. And it hurts me so much to do that to you, Scully, I feel like I'm breaking in half." He glanced away from her briefly, towards the rumpled bed where they had been sleeping less than an hour ago. "But I know if I stay here any longer, if I wake up with you in my arms just one more morning, I'll never be able to leave. Not ever." He caught her eyes again and looked directly into them, bringing his hands up to her face and cupping her cheeks. "You have to believe me when I say that I'll miss you every second of every day that I'm gone. I'll always want to be here with you and Will, and it will be thinking of you that will get me up and out of bed every morning. I want you. I love you. I love Will, too. And I want to be with you for the rest of my life so bad it hurts. I just can't right now for your own safety, for Will's safety.
"Would that be such a bad thing?" Her tone was soft, defeated, but she knew that he was telling the truth. He huffed out a breath of relief, realizing that she had accepted his words. She trusted him. She believed him.
"I wish that I could say no. But I'm afraid of what might happen now." She closed her eyes, nodded.
"I know." When she opened her eyes to his again, the doubt was gone. But the sorrow seemed permanently etched there. "I'm sorry for doubting you."
Mulder shook his head at her words, relieving her of any guilt she had felt. Then he leaned forward, cupping her face in his hands, and kissed her on her forehead, her cheeks, her eyelids, her chin. His breathing had slowed to normal, but his heart still pounded furiously in his chest. He wanted to say goodbye to her properly, to show her how much he loved her, body and soul, but he knew that it was much too soon. Instead, he kissed her on the mouth, soft, wet, and deep, before pulling back and taking a now-sleeping Will from her arms. The baby was soft and warm and his breath made a soft snuffling sound as it came in and out. Mulder settled the slight weight of him against his left arm and lifted his large right hand to the baby's tiny left one. He slipped one finger against Will's palm and even in sleep, the baby gripped solidly. Mulder smiled up at Scully.
She smiled back, a bit sadly. Everything today is sad, she thought. Mulder looked back at Will and brushed a gentle kiss against his warm soft head. "Hey there, little guy," he whispered, "this is your dad." Scully's eyes went wide. It was the first time he had said it out loud, openly admitted to being William's father. "I just wanted to tell you goodbye, and that I love you. I'll be back, hopefully pretty soon. Then we can start basketball practice, okay? Though you'll probably be too small to even pick up one of those little tiny fake balls that they make. Oh well, it's never too early to start, so they say." He smiled at the unconscious baby snoring against his chest. "Have sweet dreams, Will. I'll be back, I promise. Don't miss me too much." He pressed another kiss against the baby's head then against the tiny fist still clutching his finger, before moving over to the bassinet and settling him down into the blankets.
When he walked back over to Scully, there were fresh tear tracks on her face, which she had tried diligently to wipe away. Now that neither of them had to hold the baby, they were free to hold each other fully, and he immediately reached for her, pulling her snugly against him. Her arms slid around his waist and squeezed him tightly as she nuzzled against his chest, now clothed, and uselessly tried to stifle another sob. She sniffled and eventually gained control. When they spoke, it was in hushed, almost silent tones.
"I'll miss you." He nodded.
"More than air."
He pulled back from her just enough to dive for her mouth, capturing her lips in a fierce and desperate kiss. His lips were demanding as hers were freely giving and his tongue gave back as much as his mouth took from her. They broke apart a few moments later and looked at each other closely, memorizing each detail, every little scar, every dimple and mole, exactly as it was at that second. Then, feeling the shift in emotion, they leaned towards each other and met in the middle in a beautifully slow and wet loving kiss. At that moment, the doorbell rang, and they pulled away from each other reluctantly.
"That must be the cab," she stated sorrowfully. He nodded.
"As always." They shared a rueful smile and finally let go of one another. He let his hand rest against the small of her back as he led her towards the door, towards his impending departure.
The cabby helped him with his many bags, and when they were finally all packed up into the trunk and back seat of the cab, Mulder and Scully stood alone in her doorway.
"This is awful, Mulder," she said, not meeting his eyes.
"Will you write me? Email me at least? That can't possibly do any harm." She looked hopefully up at him.
"Yes. Every day. And you'll write me back? You can send me pictures too. Of Will, of you, of the two of you together... that might make this almost bearable." He reached out and rubbed her back, letting his fingers linger.
"Okay." She smiled.
"You know, Scully, you could send some ah... intimate... pictures too if you wanted." He said teasingly. That earned him a swift elbow in the waist and a stifled smile.
"Don't push it."
"If you don't think you could take them yourself, I'm sure Frohike-" She cut him off with a swift kiss and twined her fingers in his hair before pulling back and giving him a tight hug. He looked down at her with adoration. "I'm gonna miss you like hell, Scully."
"I know." she said. "But I feel better now, knowing that we can at least have some contact." He nodded.
"We'll have to be careful." She sighed and let her head rest against his chest once more She gave him one final squeeze before looking up at him.
"You should go. You don't want to miss your plane." He looked down at her face, her blue eyes turned up to his, shining brightly with unshed tears. So many tears they had shed. A tear for every happy thought... Happy thoughts, sad thoughts, wishful thoughts, mournful thoughts... so many. He brushed a light kiss against her lips.
"I love you," he whispered one more time.
"I love you."
Then he walked down the hall and out the front door of the apartment building. A few minutes later, after she was sure that the cab had pulled away, Scully shut the door to her apartment and slumped against it, crying all the tears that she had left.
He'll be back soon, she told her self. He won't be gone for too long. Not for too long...
But even then, she wasn't entirely sure if she believed the words.
X~*~X~*~X The End X~*~X~*~X
This was sad. I don't do sad. Not usually. But I guess the episode called for it. Damnit. I left it open at the ending, since we don't really know what's going on with DD... I'd like to hope that Mulder will be returning soon, but with the way that Chris Carter likes to torture his beloved characers it's impossible to tell. Well, let me know what you think of this story, it's been a while since I wrote a fic. :)