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Enigma

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Margaret's house 

Carrying a half-empty cup of coffee in one hand, Scully sluggishly made her way through the barely lit hallway, her free arm holding files to her chest by the crook of her elbow and wrist, leaving her hand to freely hold and shine the light on her phone at a not too awkward angle. Scully set her bag down heavily on the kitchen island, a heavy sigh escaping her lips. Raising the cardboard cup and taking a large swig, Scully grimaced, a lukewarm coffee tear sliding from the corner of her mouth to her chin. 

"Dana? Is that you?" 

The redhead jumped slightly, her fingers twitching towards her handbag that was digging into her shoulder from the sheer weight of it. She squinted her eyes until the shadows separated and the darkness revealed a familiar face. 

"Mum!" She breathed, relieved. 

"Of course. Who else would it be?" She quirked an eyebrow. 

Scully shook her head, ruby locks curling around her shoulders wantonly. 

"I should be asking what you're doing here?" The woman padded towards the kettle and set it on the stove. "It's late, weren't you dropping by tomorrow?" She added, chin jutting over her shoulder briefly as she fiddled with the tea. 

Scully pressed her lips together, her hands clasped together underneath her chin. "Yeah," she mumbled. After a minute of silence she looked up and her mother was looking at her pointedly. "I was too tired to drive home so I walked here instead," she shrugged. 

"Really, Dana? At this time of night?," Maggie sighed, moving to place a ceramic mug in front of her daughter. "Why didn't you just walk around with your purse in your hands and a sign that says 'rob me'?" 

"Well, I thought about doing that but instead I decided to wear a large traffic cone on my head to avoid oncoming traffic from hitting me,"Her tone dry. 

Maggie clucked her tongue in disapproval. 

"You know, I never got your humour, ever since you learnt how to talk." 

Scully hummed, fingers toying with the edge of her mug.  

"Your father did though," She added. 

The subject landing on her father briefly caused her stomach muscles to contract uncomfortably, that familiar ache of missing someone returning in ire. 

Taking a sip of the warming tea, Scully's gaze wandered around the darkened kitchen. The shadows dancing across the kitchen island wantonly, moving against the white marble. 

"Where is Jay?" She asked softly. 

"Hmm?" A pause, "Oh- Jade?" 

It took every bit of strength she had not to roll her eyes. She knew if she tried her patience any further she'd risk falling into her mother's bad graces. She wouldn't wish that on anybody, well, almost anybody. 

"Yes. Jade, my daughter." Sarcasm dripped from her lips despite her tired attempts to quash it. 

Maggie cleared her throat and stood back up from her seat at the counter top, placing her empty cup into the sink and washing the lasting remnants of the tea down the sink, dark locks swaying from side to side as she shook her head. 

"I still don't know why you bothered to call her Jade when you always insist on calling her Jay, Dana." 

Scully stood up, a sigh escaping her lips involuntary, following her mother to the sink and washing her mug as well. Gelid water threatening to freeze her as it slid languidly down her fingers in slow rivulets. 

"Play nice, you two." A voice teased. 

A loud clang would of announced the arrival of said clumsy brunette if she had not spoken first. 

Scully turned around and embraced the arms outstretched toward her, brushing he locks away from her forehead and pressing a kiss to where a bruise would be appearing tomorrow. 

"What are you doing up?" The redhead asked, indolent features brightening with each passing moment in Jay's presence. 

"You know I don't sleep," She taunted, moving out of her mother's arms and towards the coffee machine and pressing a reassuring hand on Maggie's shoulder. 

Scully raised her eyebrows at her mother when she didn't make an attempt to stop her from recaffeinating. Maggie stood with her arms loosely crossed, unperturbed as she watched her daughter surveying the scenario playing out in front of her. 

Without a hitch, Jay spoke over her shoulder, "Grandma already tried to stop me from getting coffee four times today, I think she's just accepted that I am my mother's daughter." 

She turned back around with a cheeky grin on her lips, nudging her shoulder against Maggie's who just shook her head in disapproval but didn't utter a word. 

Scully looked down at the watch adorning her wrist, which read: 3.30am 

"Yes, well..."she was distracted, her mind mulling over the countless things she had to do this week. "Don't forget- you still have to be up at 6 O'Clock sharp, no matter what time you go to sleep," Her lips quirked upwards, "...or pass out," 

Jay offered her mother a small smile, a promise, taking a sip of her coffee clasped in her hands. Shadowed circles stood out against the pale expanse of her face, betraying the amount of sleep she had been getting, or rather – lack thereof.  

The stress and anxiety of upcoming exams were taking a toll on her from hitting the books too hard lately. When hasn't she overdone it? Scully thought, worry spreading through her gut. 

"Goodnight mum, Jade."She made sure to put emphasis on her daughters name, cocking her eyebrow at her mother with a small smile. 

Maggie waved her daughter goodnight before checking her reflection in the window above the sink, the small chip in the corner capturing her attention. I've got to remember to get someone to fix that, maybe give Charlie a call. 

"Sleep well, grandma." The soft voice pulled her out of her thoughts briefly, a warm kiss pressed to her cheek. Watching the young brunette slowly make her way out of the kitchen and back up the stairs to one of the spare bedrooms she had been residing in. 


 

5.45am 

Filtered orange and yellow rays started to coat the space between the white lace curtains, thick floral patterns blotting out partial appearances of the sun. 

Scully moaned, her subconscious registering the ache spreading down the backs of her calves, tender throbbing that ran from behind her knee to the arch of her feet. She should be used to this by now, she knew that. She spent hours on her feet, walking, running, walking, tripping. But she was getting older, she knew it and her body knew it and it was going to take it's fury at being thoroughly exhausted out on her every chance it got. Turning away from the glare of the sun, careless locks splaying across the pillow and against the creases in her neck as she attempted to bury deeper into the confines of her comforter, attempting to chase the solemn of sleep. 

Solemn didn't want her. 

The alarm clock shrieked at Scully from her bedside table, vibrating across the white hardwood desk. 

The comforter had been attempting to swallow her whole, only the pale expanse of her shoulders peaked out from underneath the covers and a few tangled locks that peaked out from underneath her pillow. 

The smell of coffee wafted through the air; the fumes so strong that she could taste the bitterness of it. Scully nudged her head out of the warm confines, her resting place, her silent heaven. The sheet underneath the comforter was currently sticking to her waist were her shirt had ridden up in her sleep, she breathed in the rich aroma of the already made coffee, her stomach rumbling, it was calling her name. 

After contemplating whether getting out of bed was really worth it, My back is certainly disagreeing with me, Scully slowly rolled over and unwrapped her out of her self-made cotton cocoon. Grabbing her robe off of the back of her favourite reading chair, she tied it loosely around her waist as she made her way down the stairs. With one hand in her pocket and the other tracing arbitrary patterns down the wooden handrail. 

Pushing open the door to the kitchen the smell of the coffee hit her like a brick wall. A brick wall she'd happily walk through again and again if it promised to keep her away for the next 16 hours. 

A mug of fresh coffee was pressed into her hands, the ceramic warm and reassuring in her palms. Calming. 

"Early shift?" Maggie questioned, walking back towards the coffee maker. 

Oh please, please don't start talking. My brain isn't awake yet. I'm not even sure I'm awake, I'm still asleep dreaming of the vacation I never got to take after I graduated. 

Scully paused, not ready yet to engage in any kind of conversation – no matter how light the topic is. 

Not wanting to burn her tongue she took a tentative sip, the liquid fuel whirring the clock in her head, turning the hands. She had to admit, it surprisingly tasted really good. Her mother was an avid tea drinker and whenever she stayed over she always had a mug of coffee waiting for her when she got up. Bitter, watery, too much sugar, not enough sugar...she'd had them all. But this particular cup had to be one of the nicest she'd had in the past few months. 

A plate of sliced fruit and greek yoghurt was placed in front of her at the table, Scully looked up at her mother hovering at her side. 

"Well?" She queried, her own hands holding her tea close to her chest, nestled against the floral pattern of her nightgown. 

She nodded slowly, her mind whirring as it tried to catch up on the last few minutes, caffeine flooding her system at it's usual leisurely pace, her morning migraine slowly easing down. 

"Yes. Yes. I have to go in at about-" Scully lifted her arm and checked her watch, watching the long hand rotate around the small circle ticking past different lines, "2 or so hours, I have to knock off early so I want to get in as soon as I can." 

Jay entered through the doorway as the clock struck 6.05 am with her phone in one hand and her Advanced AP English textbook in the other. Dark hair curling around her face and shoulders, she gave half a smile at her mother and grandma before heading towards the coffee machine where a fresh mug of coffee had been set aside for her. 

"That cup was made about 10 minutes ago, dear. It should still be hot." Maggie said, moving to sit beside her daughter at the table. 

Leaning towards Scully she muttered under her breath,"I can't get over how very alike you two are in the mornings."  

A wry smile tugged at Scully's lips as she watched her daughter reach for two fresh bagels. 

"Yeah, me too." 

After half an hour, Maggie left the kitchen to go take a shower, rambling about plans to meet with Bill's wife for coffee so that they could plan a surprise birthday party. The two girls were left behind to discuss what was on the agenda for both of them. 

"Are we still good to meet after you finish work?" Jay paused, "You can still finish work early today, right?" 

Scully placed her second mug of coffee down on the table, pressing a reassuring kiss to her daughter's cheek.  

"Yes, I got Beth to cover for me."  

Jay's eyes lit up when she mentioned Beth's name, a wide smile adorning her lips. "Oh! How is Beth doing?" 

Her mother hadn't talked about Beth much lately, she was one of her closest work friends, one of the few people in their lives that could convince her to do almost anything. Almost. 

Returning to her mug she blew against the steam gently, the coffee still extremely hot. 

"She's doing really well but you will see her and Hailey at the dinner next week - the one that mum is hosting for the club." 

It was an added bonus that Beth's daughter Hailey was around Jay's age, when they were little they used to play hide and seek at the hospital. Much to... pretty much everybody's disapproval. 

It wasn't their finest moment. 

But work, school and commitments had made it next to impossible for everyone to keep in contact on a regular basis, unfortunately. It would be good for them to catch up finally. 

THUD. 

The book on the kitchen table slammed shut. 

"That's next week? That's when Logan's play premieres." Jay reminded her. 

"It is? Are you sure?" Scully pressed, putting her coffee down on the table and reaching for her handbag. 

Pulling out her schedule, she perused the pages quietly whilst Jay chewed on her cream cheese bagel, crumbs landing on the table. 

Without looking up, Scully spoke quietly, "Don't let Grandma see you spilling crumbs across her brand new tablecloth, she'll make you scrub the kitchen floors for 2 weeks." 

Jay laughed but put her bagel back on her plate before standing up and retrieving a wash cloth from it's resting place over the sink. 

I wish she was kidding, Jay laughed at the thought. 

"Maybe we can swing by the party for a little while, attend the play and socialise 'congratulations yadda yadda yadda', before making our way back in time to eat pie – or to see Uncle Pete do his latest rendition of 'Papa Don't Preach'?" 

"I think you've had too much coffee." Jay replied with a laugh. 


 

St Margaret's Library 

Spotting Jay set up at a table scribbling furiously in a notebook, Scully made her way over to her, she veered in and out of bookcases until she had a clear path to sneak up behind her.  

"Who's your favourite person in the world?" 

The brunette's shoulders jumped up in surprise as the hair on her arms and the back of her neck stood on end. After a delayed moment were her brain tried to catch up on the last 60 seconds, she breathed in the familiar scent of coffee and disinfectant. A wicked grin snuck onto her lips which Scully could feel when her cheeks moved upwards. 

"Aunt Melissa – of course." She quipped. 

Scully scoffed, releasing her daughter and shoving her shoulder with a wry grin. 

"Brat." 

Jay feigned exasperation, "I try." 

Scully moved to sit at the table next to her daughter, moving a pile of textbooks to the side so that she could set herself up. 

Taking a folder out of her bag, Scully set it down on the table and flipped through until she found the pages she was looking for. Sitting there with a pen in her hand, she couldn't help but watch Jay pour herself so completely into her work, her lips moving silently as she took in the information in front of her. 

It reminded her of somebody from a long time ago. 

"Are you sure it's alright that I'm here?" Scully asked, bringing her hands together as she followed Mulder to his bedroom. 

He chuckled, opening the door and closing it after she entered. 

When she still hadn't said anything he looked up to see a disapproving frown on her young face. Mulder at least had the decency to look little sheepish. 

"Oh- you, you were serious..." He rubbed at a spot on the back of his neck as he walked around her until he settled down on a chair at his desk,"They're away at conference out of town. It's fine." 

Tucking loose tendrils of titian hair behind her ear, Scully remained quiet until she was standing beside his desk. Mulder could feel her gaze on him, he looked up at her standing there picking at her nails nervously.  

He motioned to his bed, "Have a seat, we can work from here." 

"Mulder." There was a warning in her voice. 

She knew that they wouldn't get any studying done if they stayed in his room, in his house, alone. He waved at her without looking, a don't-worry-about-it wave. Scully took a quiet breath in... she wasn't going to allow him to get under her skin. Or clothing. 

Taking her school bag off, she rested the heavy contents on his bed beside her before attempting to unzip the bag. The zipper got caught half-way, as it always did, but with a firm tug Scully managed to unzip it completely and pull out her Chemistry textbook. Glancing up, her eyes focused on his mouth, mouthing – from what she could tell – and she pretty much was an expert (of his mouth) – mathematical formulas. 

She could feel her body temperature rising... was the heater on too high? Maybe she was getting sick. That's it, she was delirious. 

The corner of his mouth quirked up, Scully's eyes traced across the contours of his face until they rested on his baby blues. She shivered when his own locked with hers; stormy seas threatening to consume him and then her before toppling them overboard only to have the abyss swallow them greedily. 

"You know" Mulder started, pushing his chair back and standing. 

"Mmm," She replied distractedly, her eyes now tracing his gastrocnemius muscle that flexed slightly as he walked. 

"Scully." He was close. 

Suddenly he was towering over her; her mouth suddenly dry and making it hard to swallow the lump in the back of her throat. Her teeth tug into her bottom lip, the taste of cherry slipping between russet lips. 

"I'd rather study Biology." 

A sudden sharp pressure brought Scully back to the present; a dull, throbbing ache spreading from a spot just below her elbow. 

Scully turned towards Jay with a grumpy frown adorning her face, whereas the brunette was sitting there looking somewhat sheepish. 

"Pressure points help with concentration." Jay stammered, her hands motioning between them. 

"I know," Scully hissed, her arm still sore. 

"Okay. We've got this." She told herself. 

Taking the hair tye from her wrist and tying a loose ponytail at the back of her head. Scully rubbed her arm as she focused her attention back towards the forms spread out in front of her.  

It was the beginning of a long night.