Title: Cows & Cell Phones
Scully fastened the tape on the top of the box and dragged it over to the door. It was the last one. She stood with her hands on her hips, surveying the empty apartment. She'd lived there for five years. Longer than she'd ever lived in one place in her entire life. Maybe it really was time to move on.
As she stood and looked into the empty corners, a ringing sound began emanating from one of the boxes near the door. Scully tried to ignore it, but it didn't stop. She turned her head and looked, listening to her cell phone ring. She knew it was him, and even if she'd wanted to answer it, she wasn't about to dig it out of the brown cardboard box.
The ringing stopped.
She breathed a sigh of relief.
And it started to ring again.
With renewed determination, Scully heaved the box up onto one hip and threw open the door, staggering out to her car and depositing it into the full trunk. She walked back to her door slowly, taking a moment to look up at the stars. They're the same everywhere you are, Starbuck. She smiled as she remembered her father's words to her on the eve of the first move she could remember, when she'd been four years old and flung herself into his arms crying because she didn't want to go.
She stood in the doorway, silently saying goodbye to the apartment. This time it was her choice to go. She pulled the door closed and it locked automatically. She pocketed the key to give to the apartment manager on Monday.
She didn't look back as she got in her car and pulled away from the building. Scully tried to force herself to think ahead as she drove, fiddling around with the radio, settling in for the hour and a half drive.
Not too far from D.C, she thought. Didn't want to make it too hard for him to find you.
She shelved the thought, and left the radio on a station that was playing an eerie instrumental tune. What did you expect, she asked herself, on Friday the Thirteenth?
Friday the Thirteenth, she thought, a wry smile touching her lips. Spooky's day. The smile faded as a small spot underneath her heart ached. A big part of her could still barely believe she was doing this.
But the country is a good place to live, she told herself, and she loved her house. She snuggled deeper into her seat at the thought. Her house. She was a homeowner. It was a big old farmhouse out in the boonies, with more rooms than she could think to know what to do with. Her first thought was to buy books. A lot of books. A whole room full of books. She liked to read. although she rarely got the time. Well, that had all changed. She could do that now that she was settling in, making a place for herself.
Alone, that annoying voice reminded her. In a haunted house.
"I ain't afraid of no ghost," she muttered to herself, attempting to banish the thoughts. She knew she hadn't bought the place because she had a secret desire to appear on the show "Sightings."
She'd bought it because it had an atmosphere about it, dark and creepy and welcoming, The kind of atmosphere she knew she would miss.
The kind of atmosphere that Mulder brought to any room he entered.
Mulder. She'd thought his name. But that didn't mean she had to deal with her thoughts of the man. She turned the radio up and focused on the road.
It was dark, like ink, like melting tar on a hot summer's day. The street lights were few and far between, and every time she passed one, it made a shadow like a phantom play across her windshield. Clouds had rolled in overhead, making lighter blotches on the black sky. She couldn't see the stars anymore.
There were headlights behind her when she looked in the rear view mirror, too bright and closer than she would have liked. Scully stepped more firmly on the gas, but they stayed with her. She shivered and turned up the heater, but she knew cold wasn't really the reason behind it.
She turned her head and looked at the car through the back window, but of course she couldn't see anything but the stunning headlights. For a second, she wanted to throw her arm out the window and wave at the car to go around her, like Richard Dreyfuss in CE3K.
Except in the movie it had been a spaceship.
Scully pressed the accelerator harder, but the car was overloaded with her belongings and didn't want to go much faster. Her heart was pounding audibly in her ears. She'd been run off a lonely stretch of road before. If it hadn't been for Mulder and his instincts... she didn't like to think about it.
The car was still behind her.
Scully frantically peered into the darkness beyond the road, searching for a house, a landmark, anything. Finally she spotted the road sign - Christopher Robin Lane. A romantic, if silly name for a street. She was almost to the big gaping monster of a house she would soon be calling home.
The car's not following me, she told herself over and over, it's a coincidence. She pulled into her driveway.
So did the car.
Taking a deep breath, Scully surveyed her options before turning off her car. There seemed to only be one: Confrontation. She pulled the cigarette lighter out of the dashboard to defend herself with and didn't turn off the headlights. Then she got out of the car.
A tall figure got out of the car behind her.
"You're on private property," Scully's voice was commanding. "Turn your vehicle around and go back the way you came." Silence. The man was walking slowly toward her, but she couldn't make out any features. "Now," she ordered.
Her eyes closed at the sound of his voice, and her shoulders sagged. She dropped the cigarette lighter in the dirt underneath the car.
"Why did you leave me?" he asked.
Her mouth pursed as she went through all of the responses to his question. None of them were right. She didn't want to have this conversation now, in the middle of the night in the driveway of her new, haunted house. She actually didn't want to have this conversation ever.
"Scully?" he asked again, reaching out to her like a blind man in the darkness.
She closed her eyes and tried to harden her heart, but it was difficult. "It was time, Mulder," she told him.
"Scully," he said again, this time as though he was bargaining.
"It's too late," she said in a flat tone, turning and unlocking the trunk of the car. She heard Mulder's sigh beside her and stiffened her shoulders. Ignore him and he'll go away, she told herself, but she knew that Mulder never, ever gave up. She hoisted the first big box out of the car onto her hip, limping under its weight toward the door.
"Let me help you."
"No!" Scully shouted. She felt his hands on her, brushing her waist as he tried to relieve her of the box. It was instinctive for her arm to reach out to shove him away from her. He stumbled away, the gravel crunching beneath his feet, but Scully barely heard it. The smooth cardboard of the box was sliding away from her fingers, down her body. She shifted, trying to stop its descent.
The crash was horrendous. It seemed to echo on and on through the still night. For a moment, they were both frozen, then Scully sank to her knees beside the fallen carton, unaware of the whimper that escaped her lips. "Damn it," she said softly, putting her head against the carton, feeling weak and defeated all of a sudden. Fighting was getting her nothing but pain.
Mulder approached her carefully, squatting next to her. He thought she hadn't noticed him until she spoke, and even then he thought she might be saying the words to herself. "My great- grandmother's china. The only thing she brought with her from Ireland, my only heirloom."
She couldn't fend off the rage swelling within her. "Damn it!" she said again, pounding her fists on the box before turning on Mulder.
She pushed him, hard, both of her hands on his shoulders, shoving him away from her with all of her might. She heard the sickening crunch of gravel as he fell backwards, but didn't look back. Instead, Scully got up, marched over to the huge, heavy front door of her new home and went inside, slamming the door soundly behind her.
Thirty seconds later, she regretted her actions. But after such a childish stunt, she couldn't bear the thought of facing Mulder again. He would leave now, certainly, she thought, but she didn't hear his car start. Curiosity and a twisted desire to see him one last time drew her to the large bay window overlooking the drive. She peeked out.
Mulder staggered to his feet and she thought for a moment that she'd really hurt him. It isn't possible, she told herself, look at me and look at him. She watched, unmoving, as he walked up to the front door, which was out of the sightline of the window. She expected to hear his knock, soft and knowing.
She didn't expect the door to fly open with a violent crash, which is exactly what it did. The overhead light came on and she looked up at Mulder with wide eyes. Fury furled his brow and blood was running from a serious gash into his right eye. "Explain this to me, Scully," he said to her, an order.
She didn't move. She knew if she did, she would brush his hair back tenderly and try to stop the flow of blood from the cut.
He lifted her bodily from the seat by the window. She felt her feet leave the floor and in a moment of panic, she squirmed to knee him the groin, but he knew the move was coming and avoided .
Unfortunately, they both ended up on the floor. Scully felt a twinge of worry at Mulder's dazed reaction, but she used the time to scramble away from him, sliding across the wooden floor on her hands and knees.
"Stop right there," Mulder's voice made her look up at him.
A chill seized her body when she saw how close the barrel of his pistol was to her face. She stopped where she was, looking up at him. "Start talking," he ordered.
"Mulder, why are you doing this?" Scully asked, trying to reason with him, desperately wanting to believe that he wouldn't shoot her point blank in the head. But it was a belief that was a long time coming. Hopefully this was just the result of watching waaaay too many Quentin Tarantino movies.
"Why am I doing this?" Mulder's laugh was pained. "I'm not doing anything, Scully. You're the one who left me."
"We both knew it couldn't continue the way things were," she explained matter of factly. "One of us had to go. It wasn't going to be you."
"Scully," his voice was low and his eyes were dark.
"You want me to come back. Well, I'm not coming back."
"Why do you think I want you to come back?" Mulder asked her frankly, and she had no answer. "What are you so afraid of? The world won't end if you allow yourself to feel something, Scully."
"Who the hell are you to say that to me?" she demanded.
"Don't talk to me like that, Scully, you're changing the subject."
Her eyebrows went up. "Oh, yeah?" she asked. "What the fuck is the subject then, Mulder? The fact that you only have feelings about people who are gone from you, permanently? Or the fact that you're pointing a gun at my head?"
"You're not gone from me."
"Samantha is." He flinched at her words, but she repeated them. "Samantha is, Mulder, she is not coming back. She is the only person on this earth you will admit that you care anything about, and you can't even bear the sound of her name. Go back home and worship your sister, Mulder. Leave me alone." Scully turned away from him. She tried to ask herself what she thought she was going to accomplish with this, but she didn't know.
"Samantha may be gone, Scully, but you're not, you're not physically out of my presence. I don't want to lose you like I lost her." Scully turned back to him and saw that he had lowered the gun and his eyes were flooding with unshed tears. He was fighting them, fighting the pain that had been squeezing his heart so tightly since she left.
She looked at the gun as it clattered to the floor when his tough shell finally cracked, "I love you Scully. I..."
He backed away from her and when he hit a wall he slid slowly down taking deep breaths. He wanted to smack himself, <Why did you pull a gun on her?> 'I don't want her to leave.' <You're not going to get her back by threatening her life!> He smacked his forehead and she jumped at the sound. He then buried his head into his knees and began to cry, forgetting where he was, why he was there, and who was with him.
He just wanted the earth to open up and swallow him whole.
But that isn't going to happen, he thought to himself, making himself sob even louder.
Scully stood and watched him, her eyes widening every time his body shook with more tears. She'd only seen him once like this and it had only served to put her in doctor mode: trying to cover him with a blanket, to hold him until he stopped shaking, then to sit him down, calm him and get him to agree to a thorough check up. This time it made her heart pound so hard that she thought she might fall. 'I love this man' she thought letting out all the air in her lungs quickly. 'Whoa. There, I thought it,' but she knew the revelation would do him no good unless she said it.
But she couldn't say it.
Mulder looked up at her suddenly and stood, turning away from her, not wanting to see her after what he'd done. He started out the door but stopped when she whispered his name, his first name. He turned back to her and looked to the floor.
"Where are you going?" she asked, her voice cracking.
He looked up at her and shook his head, "I... I don't really know... home I guess."
"You're going to go to a bar and do something stupid."
He looked at her with his mouth open. "What makes you think I would do that?!" He screamed. She backed away and immediately he regretted it. He held a hand out to her, "I'm sorry Dana, I didn't mean to yell at you."
She put both hands at her waist, "See, this is exactly why I want to leave! It's gotten to the point that when we disagree you immediately yell at me, like I've done something horribly wrong to use logical deduction."
"You were going to leave because of that?" He smiled and she gave him her most 'mad' look, only making his smile grow wider.
"Yes. I'm getting sick and tired of you ignoring my theories because they're based on science and logic instead of fantasy and the supernatural."
"But we've been fighting like this since the moment we met, why is it such a problem now." He shoved his hands into his pockets.
She grunted, "I listen to you. I try. You listen and then tell me your theory without even a nod about mine. Then, the few times that I happen to be right, you don't acknowledge it, you just move on, like it never happened. Like I'm not there."
He began to laugh.
"Mulder, this isn't funny."
"Oh yeah it is. You were going to get reassigned, you moved, you left me all because you didn't like that I was hard headed? Scully, all you had to do was tell me." He began to laugh harder.
She turned away from him and covered her eyes, rubbing her forehead, wondering what the hell was going on. "Mulder, I moved partially because I didn't want to live in that city anymore. I didn't want to have to deal with 'city' life anymore. Wasn't it you who said, 'If I could settle down, it would be in a place like this.' Like where we are now, in a large farmhouse, in the middle of nowhere."
"Why are we here again?" he asked, falling to the floor again in defeat, tears at the corner of his eyes from how hard he was laughing.
"Ugh!" She walked past him and went back out to begin bringing in the boxes she had in the car. But she started to cry the minute she stepped out.
Mulder jumped off the floor and was out, behind her in an instant. What he saw made him laugh again, "How do you like country life, Scully," he said in a southern accent, wishing he had a wheat stem to stick into his mouth as he watched the cows surround their cars.
"These are not supposed to be here." She pouted.
Mulder laughed again, he'd never before seen her act like such a child.
"This isn't funny Mulder! How am I going to get my stuff out? How are you going to leave?"
He took her hand, making her turn to him quickly. "We'll get your stuff tomorrow, and I guess I'll stay here. It's a big house, I'm sure there's more than one room."
She smiled, for the first time in a while, and looked down at his hand, "But there's one mattress."
He led her back into the house and she suddenly wondered why she was upset in the first place. "It's your house, your mattress. Besides, I'm used to sleeping in odd places."
"Mulder, do you actually sleep on your couch?"
"It's not that uncomfortable, you know."
He looked at her, "When have you slept on my couch?"
She only smiled. "What are we going to eat Mulder, I haven't had dinner." She looked up at him and laughed when she saw the confused look on his face.
As they closed the door behind them he pulled out his cell, "You don't suppose they'll deliver Chinese all the way out here, do you?"
"Not with those cows out there, Mulder. If they could get through, so could we," Scully pointed out.
Mulder shrugged. "Fine, then we'll just so hungry."
"Okay," Scully agreed as though challenging him. "Besides, I don't know where I left my cell phone."
"That's all right, I've got..." Mulder trailed off as he patted his pocket.
"Forget something?" asked Scully with a grin. Mulder rolled his eyes. "I don't know if I can handle this, the two of us stuck out here all alone with no cell phones. Better hope nothing happens."
"I'm sure nothing will," he said, sounding irritated. "Best turn on a light." He reached for the wall switch and flipped it. Nothing happened. Scully just laughed. He looked at her.
"All the lamps are in my car. And I didn't bring my flashlight." She couldn't help it; she had to tease him some more. "Did you?"
"Damn it, Scully, this isn't funny."
"Scared of the dark?"
"Of course not," Mulder snapped. They glared at each other in the darkness for a moment.
And then they heard the noise.
"What was that?" asked Mulder, after he jumped.
"Sounded like chains," she said as though it was perfectly normal.
"Did you leave some out on the clothesline?" Mulder asked.
"Not exactly." He raised his eyebrows at her and for a moment, she was too embarrassed to say it. "Did I mention this was a haunted house, Mulder?"
"You ditched me on the X Files to go and live in a haunted house?" Mulder cried. "That proves it, you've lost your mind."
"If I did, I had some help," Scully shouted at him. "Do you know what you've put me through? Do you?"
He didn't answer her. He was smiling. She was furious with him and he was smiling like a gump. "You missed me," he said. "You knew you were gonna miss me even when you left. Was this some kind of a plan, Scully, to get me back on your own turf?"
"Wait just a minute, get you *back*? I don't remember ever having you."
"We could fix that," Mulder informed her.
"Mulder, don't -!"
It was too late. He'd already thrown his arms around her and pressed his lips to hers. She shoved him and he fell backwards, breathing hard. She was breathing hard herself. And looking at him, sprawled there, she couldn't help herself. She threw herself at him, kissing him, hard.
He rolled over with her, so her body was under his. "Oh, Mulder..." she sighed.
"Know what you deserve?" he asked seductively.
"What?" she whispered back.
His eyes didn't leave hers as his hands slid down to tug her tucked-in blouse out of the waistband of her pants. "This," he said and started tickling her.
"Mulder, no! Stop it! Mulder!" Scully screamed, trying to get away from him and his ridiculous revenge. "Let me... stop... enough..." How could he have guessed that her skin was so sensitive and there was nothing on this earth she hated more than being tickled?
Abruptly, she stopped squirming. A few seconds later, Mulder released her, worried that somehow he'd hurt her. Hadn't he read about people who died from being tickled to death? "Scully?" he asked, looking into her wide eyes in alarm. "What is it?"
"Turn around," she said, staring.
Mulder did. His jaw dropped open and his skin turned pale. A moment later, he collapsed on the wooden floor. Fainted from fright.
A harsh laugh escaped Scully's lips. "Now I know the truth," she said, amazed. "He's scared of ghosts." She looked up again at the spot where the ectoplasmic phosphorescent blob had recently resided, but it was gone. Probably scared off by the noise of Mulder falling on the floor.
"It's all right, Mulder," she said. "You can wake up now. It's gone."
"What's gone?" His eyes fluttered open.
"You fainted from fright."
"I did not!" Mulder cried.
"Oh yeah?" she challenged him, one eyebrow raised. "You're afraid of ghosts!" She couldn't help laughing.
"Want to bet?" Mulder demanded, getting to his feet and walking towards the door.
"Where are you going?" Scully asked.
"To find the ghost."
"Are you sure you want to do that?"
"Pretty damned sure," he informed her.
He stomped to the door and rushed outside, running through the cows and around the house and into the trees behind it. Scully, still inside, though he would come right back in and she waited. And waited. She glanced at her watch, wondering if maybe this was just some joke, if he would appear near her now, behind her, to scare her, but he didn't. She stood slowly and walked to the door, patting her pocket to make sure the keys were still in there, she walked outside.
"Mulder?" She called. She waited, but heard nothing but the cows and the wind blowing through the trees. She looked out as far as she could see and didn't see him.
Knowing he wouldn't want to go further than the house, she walked, against the wall, around the corner and saw a light in one of the trees behind the house. She creased her eyebrows and walked towards it, it turned off. She gasped, taking a step backwards and remained where she was and suddenly two arms grabbed her waist and pulled her to the floor. She screamed and she rolled away, but before she could take off running, a beam of light hit her face and then, as it moved away she saw Mulder.
"Found a tree house, must've belonged to the people who lived here before. They probably had kids, grandkids. I found this flashlight up there, still works." He smiled, pulling her off the ground with one hand, "Now we don't have to worry about lighting."
She grunted and walked with him back into the house. As they entered she threw herself onto the floor and rubbed her temples. He sat across from her and sat the flashlight so it's beam hit the roof and illuminated the room. It was large, larger than Mulder thought it was. He glanced at the stairway that led to the second floor and he put a hand on her arm. She looked up at him.
She shrugged, "Rooms."
"I wanna see them."
"Maybe we'll run across a ghost or two."
She smiled, "What, you wanna be a big macho man and show me how you're not afraid of ghosts."
He gave her an annoyed look and stood, grabbing her hand and pulling her up. She yelped, knowing he'd probably helped pull a muscle in her arm, but she only held it tightly to her and followed him up. He pushed open all the doors he could find, until he found the one with the mattress and walked into it. He threw himself on it and smiled up at her, but noticed she was holding her arm, not paying attention to him.
"What'sa matter?" he asked, getting back up on his knees.
"I think you pulled something." She tried to stretch her arm, but that only helped to form tears in her eyes from the pain. He stood, worried.
"I'm sorry, Dana." He forced her to sit down and then he tried to roll her on her side, but she remained on her back, staring up at him. "Roll over," he told her.
"No, I'm fine, it doesn't hurt that bad, really." She lied.
He sighed and yanked her on her side and began to rub circles on the back of her arm. She squirmed in pain for a moment, but the relaxed into it. The warmth actually numbed it a bit.
Her eyes drifted closed involuntarily in reaction to the lovely feelings Mulder's touch stirred within her. A moment later a sigh escaped her lips.
Mulder's whisper was hot and close to her ear. "That feels better, doesn't it?"
She opened her eyes and looked at him. "What are you getting at, Mulder?"
One corner of his mouth turned up in an amused smirk. "What do you want me to be getting at?" he asked, moving his fingers up from her arm to the knots of tension in her shoulders.
How did he find the sore spots so accurately? Scully wondered, another contented sigh escaping. "Stop," she said, intending for it to be an order, but to her consternation it came out much more like a moan.
"Are you sure you want me to stop?" he asked, his voice like raw silk as his fingers snaked down her back. His lips were so close to her neck she could almost feel them. "Because we're not partners anymore, Scully, we don't have to stop. Not anymore."
She was too busy melting against him to reply.
A second later, all of that wonderful warmth and sensation disappeared. Scully's eyes popped open and she straightened her spine, feeling cold. "Mulder?" she asked. He didn't answer. She turned and saw him all the way across the room, peeking around the doorway into the dining room. "What are you doing?" she asked.
"Ssh," he informed her.
She got to her feet, feeling quite irritated. This was the Mulder she knew and loved. "What's over there?" she asked, at full volume, walking over to him.
"Turn off the flashlight."
"No way. What's so interesting -" she broke off abruptly when she looked around his shoulder into the dining room. The ghost they had seen earlier was back. Having attained something close to human form, he was sitting in the breakfast nook and it looked like he was reading a book.
"Don't scare him off," Mulder whispered to her, his eyes fixed on the being.
Scully looked at him. His skin was very white, she noticed, and he was swaying on his feet. "Don't faint again," she said. He gave her a dirty look. She just raised her eyebrows at him, thinking how much it sounded like he was hyperventilating.
They watched the ghost in silence for a moment. It turned the page of the book once, and looked very involved. Scully wondered what book it was and where it had come from. Ghosts didn't borrow from the library, did they? Maybe the former owners of the house had left some things in the attic - old trunks or whatever people left in attics. She supposed she should be glad the ghost wasn't playing dress up in old Civil War costumes.
"This is real exciting," she muttered to Mulder.
"This is fascinating!" he whispered back.
She shook her head and began to move away. With Mulder more captivated than a child in front of a Disney video, maybe she could get some sleep. See if the cows had gone and she could begin unloading her belongings...
They'd attracted the ghost's attention with their whispering. Mulder caught her arm and kept her from going, directing her gaze back at the otherworldly being. It raised its head from the book and looked at Mulder. Scully expected it to shush them so it could concentrate on its reading. Who knew, maybe it was working on its doctorate or something.
She felt Mulder's grip on her arm weaken and groaned, knowing what was about to happen. A moment later, his eyes rolled back and he slumped against the wall, sliding noisily to the floor. "We're really going to have to do something about this fear of ghosts, Mulder," she said. She glanced over her shoulder to see if the ghost concurred, but it had gone. It was just as well.
Mulder became aware slowly, first of a throbbing pain in his head. And of the hard, cold surface beneath him. He struggled to open his eyes, anticipating the bright overhead light that accompanied a hospital bed. The darkness was almost a relief, and he saw Scully's face hovering above his. She reached toward him and blotted the thing that hurt and he winced. Cut, he thought. It felt like it needed stitches.
"Can you focus?" she asked him, patiently, that doctor tone he really liked.
"Yeah. What happened?" he asked, trying to sit up, but deciding it was too much effort and sinking back to the floor.
"What do you remember?"
"That's right, Mulder. There was a ghost and it was too much for you and you fainted again," she said with a note of annoyance in her voice that he didn't like. But then she brushed the hair off his forehead with gentle fingers and looked down at him, concerned. "Who knew you were such a wimp?"
"I'm not a wimp!" he cried.
"Then what's with the girlish vapors, Mulder?" she asked.
"It's an excuse to get you down here on the floor with me, Scully, what did you think?"
"Really?" she asked.
"I might just take you up on that."
"Please do." They were both smiling now. Scully stretched out beside him on the floor, fitting her body against his.
"What now, my friend?" she asked, her eyes on his seductively.
"Are you asking me or the ghost?" he asked.
"Is it back?" she asked without moving.
His tight smile told her yes. "Are you going to faint again?" she asked.
"I don't think so. I have something better in mind," he said, pressing his lips against hers and kissing her.
"You know what, Scully?" he said, sometime later, when they were much more comfortable and both wearing considerably less clothing.
"What?" she asked.
"I like your house."
"Oh, really?" she asked, raising an eyebrow.
"I was thinking I might even want to live here."
"Uh-huh," she said.
He sat up slightly and looked at her. "What do you think about that?" he asked, a little more seriously. Her lack of a real response worried him - he wasn't kidding, even if his tone was light.
"I think you'd better do something about the cows then," she informed him. Equally serious.
"What do we need that we don't have right here?" he grinned. "We're doing pretty well for only having a mattress."
"You mean you could go the rest of your life, right here, without your cell phone?" she challenged him.
He hesitated a moment. "Couldn't you?"
"I'm the one who decided to give up city life, remember?"
"I think," he answered, catching her in his arms again, "I could be convinced."
And he was.