Thank You

by Mary Kleinsmith (

Spoilers: None

Summary: Mulder realizes that a friend like Scully shouldn't be taken for granted

Rating: PG

Classification: M/S Friendship bordering on MSR

Archive: Yes

Disclaimer: Mulder, Scully, and everything related to them belong to Chris Carter and 10-13, with magic added by David and Gillian. I'm only borrowing them.

Thank You

By Mary Kleinsmith

These cases were just getting too hard, Scully thought to herself as she nearly fell down the stairs to their basement office. She heard the slightly dragging steps behind her and knew that Mulder was tired too.

She waited while her partner struggled with the lock; it figured that it would choose tonight to be difficult. "Tell me again why we had to come back here instead of going home?" she asked him as he finally coaxed the key into turning.

"Because, Scully."

"'Because' is an unacceptable answer, Mulder. We could have just as easily written the reports in the morning."

"Well, not exactly. . ."

"Oh no," Scully groaned. "What have you volunteered us for this time?"

Mulder smiled, the anticipation of a new "hunt" giving him renewed energy. "The Gunmen e-mailed me this tip on a great sighting! And it's not even all that far from here. You're going to love it! It's got all those things you love . . ."

"Correction, Mulder. It's got all the things that you love. I just get to go along for the ride." She sighed as she plopped into her chair. "Just give me the forms so we can get through this."

Knowing that she wasn't going to join in his eager anticipation of the new case, at least until she got this one out of the way, he settled down to write his part of the report. One more word and she'd start to bite his head off anyway, and he knew better than to instigate something when she got like this.

Three hours later, it was approaching midnight as Mulder scrawled his name across the bottom of the report. Using his best 'spy' technique which he'd developed as a boy, he looked over to Scully without moving his head, curious to see what she was doing now that she was still and silent.

God, she looks dead to the world, he thought, noticing her half-closed eyelids and the way she leaned her head on her hand. "You still with me, Scully?" he asked with a tone of lightness he hoped would be contagious.

"Yeah, I'm here, Mulder," she slurred. "I was just trying to remember when the last time was that I had an evening to just enjoy myself."

"It hasn't been that long," Mulder responded, his tone slightly affronted. "You mean you'd rather be sitting at home with a book or visiting your Mom than investigating all these fascinating phenomenon?"

"In a second," she answered, pushing herself to her feet. "I'm outta here, Mulder. I can't take this anymore. I'll see ya in the morning."

Watching her pick up her coat and purse, he realized just how truly tired she was. "Wait a minute, Scully. I'll drive you home. You don't look in any shape to get behind a wheel."

"But my car's here," she half-whined as he led her from the room.

"It's okay, Dana. I'll pick you up in the morning." She apparently didn't have the strength to argue, as she went along with him quietly. He even thought she dozed in the passenger seat as they made their way to her apartment. Scully didn't notice when they pulled up in front of her place until he circled around and opened her door for her. "Out ya go, sleeping beauty," he whispered, trying to get her moving without really waking her. She stumbled along obliviously beside him as he guided her up the steps and through her doorway once he unlocked it.

"Ah, ah, ah," he said as he kept her from sliding down on her sofa. "If Dana sits down now, she'll never get up again," he said facetiously.

"Muuuuuldeeerrrr," Scully whined, trying again to sit. " 'm tired . . ."

"I know, Scully. But you'll be much happier in bed." He led her into her bedroom, trying to resist the urge to look around. It was an urge he was destined to surrender to, as his curiosity was just too strong.

It was beautiful, as he'd half-expected it would be. All whites and creams and ruffles, complimented by rich oak furniture. An obvious reflection of the woman who lived here. Only not quite as neat as I'd expected, he thought. The rest of her apartment was always spotless, so it seemed only natural that her bedroom would be the same way. And for the most part it was, except for the clutter on her dresser top and nightstand.

All this went through Mulder's mind in a fraction of an instant, just before he realized that Scully was preparing to groggily climb into bed in her trenchcoat and business suit. "Scully, wait," he said gently, keeping her from lying back. She only stopped, though, because he held her there with his left hand as he used his right to remove first her coat and then her suit jacket. He hesitated, flushing - where do I go from here? - and quickly decided that she couldn't possibly sleep in her shoes and knee-highs, which he also removed, but left the rest of her clothes on before tucking the quilt around her snugly.

He took once last glance at her, then turned to the room to close the drapes. Sunup came early this time of the year; no reason she shouldn't get to sleep in as long as possible.

Heading for the bedroom door, he couldn't resist another look at the scattered papers on her dresser. Now that he looked at them more closely, he saw that they were mostly photographs, and quite old ones at that. His eyes scanned over the closest ones, recognizing a much younger Maggie Scully in some, often surrounded by a pair of dark-haired boys or red-headed girls, sometimes all of them. A few even added an older man, stately in a navy uniform yet warmth radiating from his joyous, round face as he spent time with his sons and daughters. Then one picture caught his eye, and he was drawn to it by a familiarity he couldn't quite put his finger on until he picked it up. The young girl in the photograph was adorable, but it took him a few more seconds before he knew why he thought he knew that face. It's Emily! The girl was quite a bit older without a doubt, perhaps 11 or 12 years of age, but there was no mistaking that face. Yet there was also a hint of the maturity that was yet to come there, and it was undoubtedly Scully.

She stood smiling brightly, holding a large trophy adorned with an ice skater in one hand and a pair of white figure skates in the other, and there was an excitement in her face that Mulder realized he'd not seen for a long time in his partner's. Near to where he picked up the first picture were others also showing the same young girl. On the ice, now wearing the skates and a warm sweater over a tiny skirt, she exuded a confidence that was mesmerizing.

He gently placed the picture on the top of the pile when he heard Scully stir in bed, simply rolling over on her side. The stress was now gone from her face, but the tiredness was not, and he found that he longed to brush it away with a touch of his hand. With more courage than he thought he had, he returned to her side long enough for him to briefly brush his lips against her forehead. "Sweet dreams, sleeping beauty." Pondering Scully's earlier complaints about her lack of free time, Mulder knew that rest was not necessarily synonymous with sleep; the human mind and body required other forms of rest than simple slumber, and it was long since time that his partner got some long overdue rejuvenation.


They'd worked on the new case the next three days, interviewing each of the two dozen people who claimed to have seen the mysterious phenomenon. They were just finishing with the 21st and still had three to go when Mulder glanced at his watch, noting that it was 5:30.

"Looks like Mrs. Howard Ellicott is next," Scully said, studying the file folder she carried as they walked toward the Taurus.

"Let's do that tomorrow, Scully," Mulder said, trying hard not to let her see the anticipation on his face or in his eyes.

"What, the original workaholic wants to take off early? Will miracles never cease!" She waited for his reaction, and when she got none, added, "you have a date or something, Mulder?"

"Not quite," he answered, hiding his smile behind the car door as he climbed behind the wheel. She joined him, resigned to his silence, and soon their conversation about the case and the eye-witness reports resumed their natural ease.

Still puzzled over their early day, Scully shook her head in bewilderment as he dropped her off at her car in the Bureau parking lot. "See ya later," he said in response to her smile and "goodnight" a moment before she shut the car door.

For once, rush hour traffic seemed to be moving along steadily, and she counted herself lucky that this was the one day she happened to be in rush hour traffic. It was just too weird to think about Mulder not wanting to work. It was his singular compulsion and obsession. It just wasn't like him to go home at quitting time.

Thoughts of Mulder and his search fled from her mind when she was greeted at her door by a large white box wrapped with a giant red bow. It was the kind of box that fur coats came in, though she knew that wasn't what the box would hold and wouldn't have wanted it if there'd been one inside. Scully balanced the box against her hip as she unlocked her apartment, pushing the door open before picking up the package and using that same hip to push the door closed behind her. The excitement at an unexpected pleasant surprise made her eyes glitter as she laid her gift on the coffee table. She couldn't shrug out of her coat fast enough for her; she was dying to open the box.

A gentle pull on a piece of the bow and the entire ribbon fell apart, giving her access to the lid. She studied the box, looking for an indication of the store from where it came with no facts being revealed. Sliding her fingers under the edge of the lid, she lifted it off to reveal the contents: a cozy-looking Irish wool sweater like none she'd ever owned but always wanted, a matching turtleneck just the right color blue for her eyes and hair, and a pair of leggings and wool socks in the same soft blue. They were gorgeous!

Against the royal cloth, she couldn't miss the white envelope. Sliding out the card, she smiled at the colorful abstract on the front before opening it to read the handwritten note inside. Surprise! Get dressed - I'll pick you up at 7:00. - M

M? Mulder? But who else would it be? She held up the sweater in front of her and smiled, shrugging her shoulders. Mulder was up to something, and she'd just have to wait to find out what. Heck, he probably just heard of a haunted ski chalet up in the hills. She decided she had time for a quick shower before sliding into the luxurious-feeling clothes, having a hard time deciding whether shoes, boots, or sneakers would be the appropriate footwear for whatever they were doing. She decided on her white high-tops, and was ready by the time Mulder rang her doorbell at 6:58. For once, he wasn't late.

"Hi," he greeted as she opened the door to admit him, trying not to stare at just how good the outfit the clerk had helped him pick out looked on her.

"What are you up to, Mulder?" she asked without preamble, thought the sting was taken out of her words by her smile.

"Well, since you're dressed I presume you got my note. It's a surprise." He reached into the pocket of his winter jacket and pulled out a strip of cloth the same shade of blue as her outfit. "Turn around," he said with a mischievous grin.

"What are you up to, Mulder?" Scully asked suspiciously.

"I'm going to tie this blindfold around your eyes so you don't see your surprise before I'm ready. Now turn around," he repeated giving her the puppy dog look he knew she couldn't resist.

"Y'know, if I didn't trust you so much, Mulder . . ." she said as she spun around. Underneath, she was secretly enjoying the game, but she didn't want to let on. That was her surprise!


They'd driven for quite some time, her curiosity growing within her with each passing moment. "C'mon, Mulder. Tell me where we're going!"

"You'll see when we get there." She could hear the glee in his voice, a tone that she could never remember hearing there before. "And so help me," he laughed, "if you take off the blindfold, I'll turn this car right around."

"Mulder, you sound like my father!" She paused when he had no response. "Okay, okay. I'll be a good girl and try to be patient."

Fortunately, they only drove what she guessed was another five or ten minutes before the car rolled to a stop and she head the engine was silenced. "We're here," he announced, as if she couldn't figure it out by herself.

"So I can take this thing off now?" she proposed eagerly.

"Just a few more steps." When she sighed heavily, he added, "please?"

She went along without responding, Mulder guiding her by the arm up a pair of steps and through a doorway. Her mind was racing by now, trying to figure out what was happening. A party? It was nowhere near her birthday or any other holiday that would merit one. A case? She'd known Mulder to go off half cocked on one before, but he didn't usually drag her along, and certainly never led her in so blindly that she'd worn something over her eyes! So what did that leave? She was at a loss to come up with anything.

Scully was so deep in her musings that she was taken by surprise when they stopped and Mulder said a simple, "sit down." She did, finding herself on a bench rather than a chair. She felt her left foot lifted as he began untying her shoes. "Okay, Scully. Uncover your eyes."

She noted that his voiced echoed hallowly before she was even able to focus her eyes once the cloth was removed. The reason was more than clear as she looked over a wide expanse of glaring surface, brightly lit by the overhead lighting. "Mulder, where are we?"

A smile touched his lips as he continued working on her shoes. "Didn't they teach you to be a trained observer when you went to the academy? They sure ingrained it in me."

"Well, I know that we're at an ice rink, but where? And where are all the people?"

He worried that she'd resist as he fitted the white figure skates to her small feet, but forged ahead all the same. "Well, if you must know, we're in Georgetown, and there are no people here because the rink is closed on Tuesdays." Either she didn't mind, or wasn't thinking about, what he was doing to her feet. "I guess you could say I made the owner an offer he couldn't refuse so we could use it."

When Scully didn't reply, Mulder looked up to meet her glistening eyes, and the gratefulness there melted his heart. "However did you know? Nobody's ever done anything like this for me."

"Then it's about time someone did. I saw the pictures of you as a little girl in your apartment the other night," he added as he put the finishing touches on her skates.

"Where did you get these, Mulder?" she asked. "They fit perfectly, like they're my own."

"They are your own. Your mother was very happy to pull them out of storage for me when I talked to her."

"You talked to Mom?" she asked, smiling shyly.

"Yep. Remind me to thank her for keeping quiet, okay?" He rose and sat beside her. "Go on, Scully. Take a spin around the ice," he smiled.

He could see she was hesitant. "I haven't done this in a long time, Mulder."

"So? If you fall, I'll pick you up again. That's what partners are for!" He nodded toward the ice, and giving him a quick smile, Scully stepped onto the rink. Mulder watched as she glided along smoothly for a few minutes, then gathered her courage and began moving faster.

Before long she was traveling the large rink in graceful patterns. Figure eights, curves and circles on one foot or two. She'd apparently forgotten very little of what had earned her the trophies in the photos. As she passed him in each rotation, Mulder could see the contentness, the sense of peace, that had settled on her delicate features. And his heart became a little lighter at her enjoyment of the simple pleasure.

On her next pass, Mulder said, "I'm going to find a restroom," to which she nodded and went on skating. Instead of going to the bathroom, though, he went to the back door and admitted the man who drove the white truck, showing him to the area where he'd work and tipping him well before rejoining Scully rinkside. She was still practically floating on air as she skimmed over the ice.

After a few more minutes, Scully slid to a stop in front of Mulder, smiling like he'd rarely seen her smile. "Aren't you going to join me, Mulder?"

"Join you? This is your night. I'm just the fairy godfather," he laughed.

"Well, if it's my night, then I want you to skate with me."

"But I don't have any skates," Mulder tried for a new excuse.

Rather than answer the remark, Scully left the rink, walking on the skates nearly as smoothly as she would in her own shoes.

"Where are you going?" Mulder asked, confused.

"Wait here," she told him as she left his side. Five minutes later, she returned carrying a pair of hockey skates.

"They're just your size," she said to his questioning glance, and he marveled that she even knew his shoe size. "Here, put them on," she held them out.

Sitting down and taking the skates, he hesitated before taking off his shoe. "Scully, you don't really want me out there with you, do you?"

"Mulder, what is the problem? I'm not asking you for proof of the existence of extraterrestrials or evidence of bigfoot. I just want you to skate with me!" An indefinable expression crossed his features, so quickly it was almost invisible, but Scully saw it. "Mulder, can you skate?"

Sighing heavily, Mulder shoot his head slightly. "Not since I was twelve." He looked up into her eyes, seeing the encouragement to open up. "My parents were the kind who always treated their kids equally. I'd asked for skating lessons at the local rink for a few years, but they always said that I couldn't go until Samantha was old enough to go too. Finally, when she turned eight, they let us go." He dropped his eyes, and his tone became quiet, "two months later, she was gone. And I haven't skated since."

"Well, Mulder, she said, bending down to pull off his right sneaker. "Tonight, you're going to skate again."

"But . . ."

"No, buts. Do you want to ruin everything you've done for me here so far? No? Then you screw up your courage and get those skates on."

"But what if I fall?"

"So you fall. Considering your propensity for hurting yourself, it'll be no big deal. And I'm going to be here to help."

"Okay, okay, not so tight!" he agreed realizing that she'd already put on the first skate and was lacing it up.

"You're an athlete, Mulder. You run, swim, play basketball, work out in the gym. . . . This'll be a piece of cake for you."

"We're gonna find out, I guess," he said, still sounding nervous. Why was she putting him through this?

Very soon, she was leading him by the hand onto the ice. His ankles shook with the first step, but he found his balance steady and started feeling better about it. Still, he didn't resist when Scully took both his hands in hers, skating backward in front of him as he got used to moving forward. He tried, with his eidetic memory, to recall each of the few lessons he'd had, and the words the teacher had used to guide the children. Sam, like Scully, had been naturally much better at it than he, but he hung in there. He was determined to do the same now.

Scully flashed a blinding smile at him as he grew steadier. She released her grip on his right hand and spun a half turn so she was skating on his left side, that hand still in hers.

He was doing much better, keeping pace with her, although she was admittedly going easy on him. They talked and laughed and skated for almost a half hour before he asked her if they could take a break, to which she was more than happy to agree. She was loving this, but she had to admit her ankles were getting tired.

Mulder went on ahead, and by the time she stepped off the ice, he'd already removed his skates and was sliding back into his sneakers. She slipped hers off as well, as Mulder said something about going to the bathroom and headed off. She admitted, before he was out of earshot, that she had the same calling.

Her words brought a grin to his face, although she couldn't see it. His plan had originally been to not return, so she'd come looking for him. This was even better. As he entered the snack area, which one had to pass through to get to the restrooms, he was pleased to see all the arrangements were made and the caterer was nowhere to be seen.

He stood, waiting until she entered the area and beheld what he'd done. "Oh, Mulder," she muttered, seemingly unsure of what else to say.

"Your table awaits, m'lady," she said, holding out her chair until she came and sat down at the largest central table. He used a hot mitt to remove the top of the chafing dish, unveiling the main course as she dug into the salad that sat in front of her.

"I didn't realize I was so hungry," she said between mouthfuls, her eyes not meeting her partner's.

"After all these years, Scully, I know what you like." He sat down opposite her and took a bite of his own salad.

"Mulder," she began before dishing up her main course, "what made you do all this? I mean, I know I complained about how hard we work, but this is above and beyond what any good partner can expect."

"Well, maybe you're better than the average partner," he responded, blushing slightly. "And maybe I realized that I don't always appreciate how much of yourself you put into these cases."

"It's your 'quest', Mulder."

"That's just it, don't you see? Everybody, the both of us included, looks on the X-Files as my quest . . . my work . . . my obsession. They don't see what I do - that it's just as much yours as it is mine." His voice dropped as his blush intensified. "And I just wanted to show you how much I do appreciate having you with me on all these cases. You've given up as much as I have for them, you've gone through just as much or more. So this is just my way of saying 'thank you'."

"Well, it wasn't necessary," she said, taking his hand in her small one and holding the fingers tightly. "But you're welcome." His head was still down, but he looked up into her reassuring and warm eyes, and was compelled to raise his own head to meet her smile with one of his own.

After a few moments, she broke eye and hand contact, not wanting him to get uncomfortable. "So, how much longer can we stay?"

"We have the whole place to ourselves for the night, so we can stay as long as your ankles hold up."

"Then once we finish that wonderful looking cobbler for dessert, we're going back out, and I'm going to teach you some really fancy moves!" She laughed at the horror on his face, which only stayed for a moment before being replaced with a laugh of his own. It wasn't often she heard him laugh like that, and she was as grateful for it tonight as she was for his generous gift.