Night of Silence

By Mary Kleinsmith

Category: Written for After-the-Fact's Ghosts who Stole Christmas challenge

Keywords: MSR, A bit of angst

Rating: PG

Summary: After the gifts are opened, Scully feels a need to talk. Can Mulder stand what she has to say?

Disclaimer: They don't belong to me, and I fully realize this. If I make a dime on this, you can have it!

Archive: Anywhere, just keep my name attached.

Feedback: Any would be much appreciated.

Author's Notes: Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all the members of After_the_Fact. As we approach our first anniversary, I'm amazed and impressed by the work that's been posted here. Thank you to all the fellow authors for sharing their talent.

Night of Silence

By Mary Kleinsmith

"Why did you really call me to go out there tonight, Mulder?" It was the middle of the night, but the lack of sleep hadn't dulled Scully's wits in the least.

"It was our only chance, Scully. Investigating the paranormal - that's what we do. And tonight was our only shot until next year." He hoped she bought that simple response.

"That's bull and you know it." Nope, guess not. "Mulder, I like my job. I like working on the X-Files and working with you is something I wouldn't trade for the world. But still, above and beyond all that, I'm still a human being. I need to have down time - time to myself, without the X-Files interfering in my life."

Mulder fought it, but he knew his feelings were reflected in his face. She'd all but said it: she needed time away from him. For himself, he knew he could spend twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, fifty-two weeks a year with Scully and never need time away. He also acknowledged that he was in love with her, but that was a one-way situation. He'd thought that they were more than partners, even from her perspective, but perhaps "friends" was more wishful thinking than reality after all.

He didn't know what to say to her, so he remained silent, knowing she'd continue. He was right.

"This wouldn't have been the first case that you let go for personal reasons, or even just delayed until another time. When did you hear about this case? Have you looked into past paranormal investigations? Pulled records on prior investigations? Checked with the university to see if their paranormal investigative team had ever been out there?"

She paused, and he couldn't meet her eyes. She was right - he'd gotten the information on this "haunting" just today, and he hadn't done much, if any, background checking. "Guess I should have gone a little bit further in checking this out first, but tonight was the only chance. There wasn't time!"

"I'm not saying this wasn't a valid case. I'm not saying that you weren't justified in calling for an investigation. But I AM saying that I'm not being unreasonable when I say that it was out of line for you to interrupt my holiday with work."

"I'm sorry," was all he could think to say, still not able to bring himself to look Scully in the eye. "I just didn't think. I got excited, and intrigued, and . . ."

". . . and you at least managed to not go running off without me. Don't think I don't appreciate how hard that is for you."

"It's not hard at all," he let slip out. He hadn't been able to do anything without her in quite some time, but she definitely didn't realize that. As a matter of fact, he wasn't even capable of being alone anymore. Well, not alone and functional, anyway.

"Well, I'm glad that you've gotten over ditching me, anyway."

Silence ensued, and Mulder didn't really know what to say. Or even if there was anything to say at all.

"Thanks for coming over, Scully. I'm sure you'd much rather be home in bed." He still couldn't look her in the eyes. He expected her to get up and leave, but his next sensation was a gentle touch under his chin, raising it until his eyes met hers.

"Mulder, my family is the most important thing in my life." He looked away, but she kept his chin firmly in her grip. "That's ALL my family. You included." His eyes returned to her, and he knew they were wide with shock.

"I'm . . ."

"Your last name may be Mulder, but you're a Scully, just as surely as Tara is." Did she know what she was intimating by that? "I didn't just come by tonight to give you this little gift," she said, shaking the unwrapped videotape. "I came by because I realized that, while I need to be under the tree at six o'clock, I don't want to be if you're not there with me."

"You want me to . . ." Was she really saying this?

"I don't know if what happened in that house tonight was real, but whether it was ghosts, psychics, or my imagination, they made me realize something. Their message, what they said, about us was true, and I don't want another moment of loneliness to go by for either one of us. I love you, Mulder. And not just as a partner, and not just as somebody who I can try to prove wrong, but as a person. As a man. As a friend. And, as something more."

"More . . ." Mulder repeated, a half question, as her face drew nearer his own. She'd pull back any second. Regain her composure, and her sense. Any second now . . .

Only she didn't. And after six years of imagining . . . dreaming . . . her lips were on his. They were soft, just as he'd always expected, but more powerful - insistent and seductive as they slid against his own. Their mouths opened slightly as their tongues barely touched in the introductory kiss. Finally, she withdrew for air.

"Think that can hold you 'til after the holidays, G-man?" She smiled at him warmly, curling into his side on the sofa.

"For the rest of my life," Mulder said, his arm sliding around her as her head came to rest on his shoulder. "Sleep for a couple hours, and then we'll go to your family's . . ."

She looked up at him crossly, and he knew immediately what he'd done wrong. ". . . our family's for Christmas."

Maybe, Mulder thought happily as he fell asleep, the ghosts' referring to them as "lovers" wasn't incorrect - just premature. The idea put a smile on his face for the rest of the night. For once, he didn't worry about the negatives, just looked forward to the future.

The End