All work and no play… by chibiness87
Season/Spoilers: 5x10 Chinga
Disclaimer: not mine.
Summary: The relief he feels lasts a grand total of four hours. Four hours where he has the office to himself, not having to think about justifying anything to anyone, not engaged in any arguments about anything, not even fighting over who gets to pay for lunch… god he’s bored.
When she first tells him, his first reaction is of pure shock.
He’s not proud of it, but it is what it is.
“Bye, Scully,” he says, as he slips on his coat, “See you in the morning.” He has one foot out the office before her response registers, and he does a half pirouette a ballet prima donna would be proud of.
“Actually, you won’t.”
He quickly flicks through what he knows of her schedule. Comes up blank. “What?”
She doesn’t look at him, continues to pack up her briefcase. “I’m leaving.”
He feels his heart stop in his chest. Barely able to breathe past a tight band across his chest, he manages to croak out, “You’re…”
“Leaving town? Yes.”
“Oh.” He ducks his head, tries desperately not to reach for her, to beg her to stay. Honestly, he’s impressed she’s lasted as long as she had. He just wished she had bothered to tell him. Surely, after everything, he deserved something in the way of a notice?
“Mulder…” Her voice seems hesitant, almost, like she hadn’t thought this would be his reaction. That thought hurts almost as much as the one of her leaving.
Not able to look at her, he sighs. “No. No, I mean, hell, Scully, I’m impressed you stayed as long as you did. I mean, after everything that was…”
He hears a thump not even halfway through, and then she is there, right there in front of him and her hand is gripping his arm and her eyes are staring at him, wide with concern. “Oh my god, Mulder! I’m not leaving leaving!”
He stumbles to a halt. Gaps at her for a moment like one of his mollies. One day, they will stop talking in riddles around each other, he’s sure of it. “You… what?”
Scully shakes her head, a flash of something like tenderness in her gaze. “I’m taking a few days off, that’s all. Skinner’s been breathing down my neck about unused vacation days and apparently medical leave is different and I have to take the last few days before the end of the… are you okay?”
Quite honestly, no. He’s not. He doesn’t know whether he’s laughing or crying, but it’s definitely one of them, his heart going a mile a minute in his chest. In short, he feels like an idiot. “Yeah. Yeah. Just, you know, maybe next time lead with that bit, yeah?”
Scully raises an eyebrow at him in concern, before realisation hits and her gaze softens. “You thought I was leaving.”
He shrugs. “Um…”
The softened gaze lasts about ten seconds, before it hardens into disbelief. He knows it’s that; he’s seen it on her face enough times. “You. You thought I was leaving…” She sighs, ducks her head, shaking it at him. “Mulder.”
He shakes his own head, embarrassed now. “Forget it.”
Scully sighs, before forcing his gaze to hers. “Look. If, somehow, I was forced to leave, I wouldn’t hang about. You would be the first person I would tell.”
He ducks his head, looking away. Because, truthfully, he wouldn’t blame her if she decided to cut and run now he’s put the idea in her head. “Scully…”
Her hand on his arm squeezes firmly, and her gaze is sure when he dares to meet her eyes again. “The first, Mulder.”
He has to ask. Has to check. Knows he’s a coward for doing so. “You wouldn’t leave yourself? Just walk away?”
He sees her pause for a moment, and he wonders if it’s because of the question or the answer. He’s still not sure when she says, “I… No,” but is too much of a coward to ask for clarification.
She obviously picks up on his hesitance, because she asks, “Okay?”
But he’s still not sure if he even wants to know the answer, so he nods, decisive. “Okay.” And then, because he is, he adds, “And uh, sorry, for…”
Scully, the queen of forgiving his feet living in his mouth, shakes her head. “It’s fine, Mulder.”
It’s not, but he’s the king of running from conversations, so he nods. “Okay.”
They stand in awkward silence for a moment, unsure how to move on, when he blinks down at her. “Hey, Scully?”
There is a hint of a smile in her voice, if not her face. “What?”
And then, like he’s a kid, eyes wide and lip caught between his teeth, he asks, “Can I get a do over?”
Cue eyebrow arch. “A do over?”
He nods, enthusiastic. “Yeah. You know, where the last few minutes didn’t happen and I actually let you explain and not jump to conclusions?” he even gives her a grin to sweeten the deal.
Her eyes roll in a patented Scully response. “Oh all right. Sure.”
“Great.” His cheeky grin fades into a soft smile. “See you tomorrow, Scully.”
Scully huffs a laugh, biting her own lip for a moment in what he’s sure is exasperation, before her expression clears. Face blank once more, she replies, “Actually, you won’t.”
This time, he arches one of his eyebrows. “Oh?”
He can see her amusement at his antics in her eyes, but it pleases him no end when she continues to play along. “Yeah, Skinner’s making me take the rest of my days leave. So I won’t be in until Monday.”
He nods. Overdoing it completely, but hell, in for a penny, in for a pound. “Hey, that’s okay.” He pauses for a moment, voice becoming genuine once more. “You got any plans? Going anywhere?” And then, because he is him and sometimes the opportunity is just there and really, he’s a teenager at heart, he winks at her, teasingly. “I can personally vouch for the house of the King if you’re looking for some ideas.”
This time, she can’t hold back the bark of laughter, and he smiles in response, safe in the knowledge all is forgiven and they’re fine. “I’ll take that under consideration.”
He smiles, turning to once more head out, when she calls after him, “You know, you could do with having the weekend off, too.”
Pausing in his retreat, he glances back over at her. Completely seriously, he says, “You know, I might just do that.”
He has obviously shocked her, because she pauses in her own retreat back into the office to stare openly at her. Ha, he thinks, had you big time. “You… seriously?”
He considers coming clean for a second, but then thinks of all the things he could do without having her breathing down his neck (figuratively speaking), and instead smiles his innocent smile. “Yeah. Why, is that a surprise to you?”
“Honestly, yes.” The eyebrow is arched again. Idly, he wonders if she practices the move for just these sorts of occasions, but then figures enough of them occur day to day she doesn’t really need to bother. He should be concerned about that, he’s sure, but the expression on her face is so Scully he daren’t mention it.
“Well, good. I’m glad I still keep you on your toes.” He winks at her, a teasing glint in his eye, and she shakes her head in response, heading back towards her office. Serious now, he calls to her back, “Hey, Scully?”
The sigh is audible, despite her not turning around. “What, Mulder?”
“Have a good weekend.”
She spins, and he gives her an honest smile, glad when she returns it. Heading up to the parking garage, he plans what he can do now he has some Scully-free time to contend with; all the things he can finally get around to doing.
The next day dawns bright and early, full of the joys of spring. He makes his way down to the office, a slight spring in his step. He’s completely by alone for the next couple of days, and he cannot wait to get started.
The relief he feels lasts a grand total of four hours. Four hours where he has the office to himself, not having to think about justifying anything to anyone, not engaged in any arguments about anything, not even fighting over who gets to pay for lunch… god he’s bored.
He’s so bored.
How has one not-even-up-to-his-shoulder agent managed to take such a monopoly on his life that he feels he can’t exist without her?
(Scratch that, he knows the answer to that, and whoa, he’s not going anywhere near there.)
He rolls a pencil across a report he was supposed to turn in three days ago.
He wonders if she’s made it to her hotel yet.
He wonders where her hotel is.
It suddenly occurs to him, in both the conversations they have had at the office, the original and the do-over, she has never told him where she is going.
Obviously, it’s an oversight on her part. She was going to tell him, but then, well, she forgot.
His eye glance to the phone, thoughts racing.
He shouldn’t call her.
He should let her rest.
She deserves the time off…
He picks up the phone.
The conversation goes about as well as he’d thought it would. Including where she hangs up on him He even saw her roll her eyes at him down the phone line. But he’s worried. Concerned, even. After all, decapitation, it’s a serious problem.
And forewarned is forearmed, etc. etc. etc.
He sighs. Ignoring the late-and-getting-later-by-the-minute report, he picks up one of the tapes the Gunmen left with him after their last visit and switches on the TV, setting himself up with a pile of sunflower seeds, a notebook on his lap while he studies the swarming nature of bees. Maybe there’s something there to explain the swarms he came across a few years ago.
He’s actually getting engrossed with the material, location and solitude fading into background noise, that it actually shocks him when Scully rings him not even half an hour later.
His concern is rampant when she first describes the scene to him, but then as she continues to talk he loses all focus on the screen, intent only on her voice.
The list she provides goes on and on and on, far beyond what even he would be saying in this instance. God, what has he done to deserve her in his life? And what can he do to make sure she stays there?
He’s pretty sure he’s joking.
Ok, so there may be a part of him, a small, tiny part that takes up most of him that wants her to say yes, but the rest of him, the so small as to be insignificant part of him, is joking.
While he’s having this revelation, he’s cracking jokes, because that’s his defence mechanism when things get a little too close.
He wants to be there.
He wants to be there to help.
The whole shebang. The entire kit and caboodle.
(Okay, honestly? He wants to kiss her. But that’s an urge that’s becoming daily, so he’s not counting it.)
He spends the rest of the day perched over his phone, but she doesn’t call again.
He tries her cell a few times, but each time it goes straight to answerphone. After the second try he leaves her a message, but by the evening she still hasn’t called him back, and now he’s… concerned.
Yes, that’s what it is, concern.
It’s therefore totally justifiable, to him, to use his position within the government to sweet talk the details of Scully’s recent card transactions from her bank to find the motel she’s staying in, and then a further sweet talk to the receptionist at said motel to find her room.
Honestly, this would be so much easier if she had just told him.
It would be so much easier if he were there.
The phone in the room rings out, and then he is back to the helpful receptionist. He leaves a short message, before hanging up.
She’s fine, he tells himself.
He just wishes he could believe that.
The next morning, he’s calmed down a little, which means he’s a little bit manic.
He needs to talk to Scully. The phone at the motel rings out again, and he sighs. Pulls out the big guns. Calls the local cops up there, and manages to get to speak to her that way.
And she is fine.
Of course she’s fine.
He manages to talk shop with her for a few minutes, before she hangs up on him again.
Honestly. Sometimes he doesn’t know if he wants to kiss her or… No. He always wants to kiss her.
Eyeing the basketball, he considers going for a few hoops, but decides against it.
He could go for a run, he supposes, but what if Scully needs him and he isn’t within reach of his phone or doesn’t hear it as he’s running or…
He heads back to the office.
He doesn’t know how long he has been sat there, staring at the appliance, before he gives in and calls her, message planned in his head. So it shock him when she actually answers.
He has to admit, the case she has stumbled on does sound intriguing, and he’s a little ashamed how he’s taken it. He doesn’t like it, feeling out of sync with her like this, and his snarkiness comes out a little more, well, snarky than he’d like. But instead of her normal response, she hangs up on him again. When she gets back to the office they’re going to have to talk about her new way of making him shut up.
He has a much more pleasant way they could…
He doesn’t hear from her for the rest of the day, and she’s gone back to not answering her cell.
He spends another sleepless night on his sofa, phone within touching distance, but when the morning breaks he still hasn’t heard anything from her.
Getting in to the office early, he’s met with a message that her plane has been delayed, but she’ll be in later. He breathes a sigh of relief.
Finally, things can get back to normal.
He just has to wait a few hours, and then he can show her the case that he’s found, and they can get back to normal of chasing phantoms and arguing about the aspects of the case over sandwiches from the local deli.
Not that he’s missed her.
Because he hasn’t.
Not at all.
He flips a pencil up and over, catching it on the downfall, before sending it skyward again.
And… hey. Where’d it go?
He glances up, sees the tip embedded in the tile of the ceiling.
He could get up and free it, but gravity is a constant for a reason, and he leaves it there. It’ll fall out eventually. Besides, he has other pencils.
The second pencil lasts only one throw before it, too, is embedded in the tiles of the ceiling.
The third lasts five.
He blinks at the pattern they’ve made; from one particular angle it looks like Orion’s belt. He smiles to himself, a challenge born. He wonders how much of the night sky he can replicate from memory and strategic throwing.
So invested in his new… project, he doesn’t hear her come in, and then he has to hastily hide his new collection of freshly shaved pencils, all while answering questions about a poster he’s had longer than he can think of.
It’s bizarre, but as long as it keeps her attention off the desk and the number of pencils there, pencils he hastily hides in the drawer of the desk the first chance he can get, he’s happy to answer her.
She asks him about his weekend, and he answers overly brightly, about how free he has felt, and how not being there has been such a relief to him and then a pencil falls from the ceiling.
Orion only has two points to his belt now, then only one as another pencil frees itself.
Gravity at its best.
He shoots her an aww, shucks, expression, getting the familiar eye roll back in response, and finally, he feels calm.
Finally, he feels himself again.
Standing, avoiding another pencil as it works its way loose, he shrugs on his jacket.
“Wanna get some lunch?”
Scully eyes the ceiling again, before rolling her eyes at him. “Sure, Mulder.”
He smiles, placing his hand on the small of her back.
Thinking of the last time they were apart for a few days because of enforced leave, he teases, “Hey Scully, you didn’t happen to get another tattoo while you were off on your own, did you?”
The stink eye she shoots him is answer enough.