Title: TIME/LIFELINE -- A Mulder Sketch
Author: Janet F. Caires-Lesgold
e-mail: jfc@freeshell.org
Feedback: Please, to the above address!
Archive: Please contact me for permission
Rating: Strong R
Category: VAH
Spoilers: none -- Pre-Triangle
Keywords: MSR angst (schmoop alert!)
Summary: A quiet evening at home.


DISCLAIMER: These characters belong to Chris Carter, 1013 Productions, and the whole X-Files gang, not to me. I promise to put them back in their proper places when I'm done playing with them. This story is just for the entertainment of my online friends and myself, not for any profit.

COPYRIGHT: (C) July 31, 1998, Janet F. Caires-Lesgold, jfc@freeshell.org

Please don't redistribute or alter this story in any way without the express permission of the author. Thank you very much.



6:10 p.m. -- "I don't know what to think sometimes. You know somebody for a long time, and, sure, you have your differences, but there's always that mystery that something else could develop. We've been through so much, but sometimes it's as if I barely know her. I can never tell how she might feel about me, if she ever even thinks about me like that. I've got to decide if I should say anything about it at all. You've met her. What do you think?"

Mulder's question was met with silence.

"That's true. What do you know? You're fish." He opened the feeding lid of the aquarium and sprinkled in a pinch of fish food. Golden scales shimmered in the water as the creatures gobbled up the crumbs of their dinner.

He flopped down onto the sofa and thumbed through his mail. There was an advertisement for tires, a postcard from the dentist reminding him that his last checkup was two years ago, and a phone bill. The sheer volume of 900-number calls made him tuck the bill back into its envelope so he didn't have to look at it very hard.

He stacked the mail neatly on the coffee table on top of a month's accumulation of similar mail. His glance fell upon a small yellow paper rectangle on the floor that had a dirty, formerly sticky stripe running along one edge. He picked it up and turned it over to find the note "Read this -- S". The newspaper article to which it had once been stuck was long since filed away. All that remained was the sticky note. He ran his thumb softly over the handwritten letters: *Scully's* handwriting. He pictured her at the forensics conference that had taken her across the country for the whole weekend. Maybe she was scribbling notes to herself while a fascinating speaker was holding the floor. Maybe she was doodling on the corner of the program, waiting to make her presentation. Was she holding the same pen she had used to write this terse little note?

He pictured her hands: pink, small, neatly kept, with nice curves. He chuckled when he realized that the description fit her in general, as well. How often had those hands touched him, unintentionally or intentionally? Maybe they had brushed at his hair, or picked a piece of lint off of his jacket. He couldn't remember the last time one of those small, perfect hands had held onto his shoulder for support... He tried to imagine her index finger grazing the line of his chin, then sliding along his lips. It would pause at their fullest point, and he would kiss the fingertip tenderly. As the finger remained there, he would open his lips and let the very tip of his tongue brush it moistly. She would insert her finger into his mouth, and his lips would close on it. It would gently caress his tongue as he wrapped it around this beautiful digit, sucking at it as if it were a popsicle, which, while much colder, would not seem nearly as sweet.

He swallowed the saliva that had gathered in his mouth as the fantasy drifted away. He reluctantly opened his eyes again, reached for his stash of sunflower seeds, and resumed his evening puttering.


7:42 p.m. -- Mulder folded laundry while the TV yammered softly to itself. For some reason, the building's laundry room hadn't been busy at all. The idea that people usually had more interesting things to do than laundry on a Friday night never occurred to him.

Mulder had spent a lot of time alone in his apartment, working, reading, sleeping, sitting and thinking, doing nothing in particular, so he thought that he'd be used to it by now. Instead, he felt a gaping hole, like someone had removed one of his major internal organs. No, it wasn't his heart, because that was still there, reminding him that he was truly alone. He felt cut off, disconnected... He suddenly spotted his cellphone, lying unused in its battery charger. Scully was out of range -- that was the whole problem. At that moment, he understood the comfort he took from being able to dial her at any moment, or to know instinctively that it was her on the other end, needing him, wanting to tell him something important, or just compare notes. Her voice could be as calming as buttered rum, or as lively as champagne, or as biting as grapefruit juice. How long had it been since he'd heard one of those frothy champagne giggles, or a warm rum sigh? Lately it had been grapefruit, grapefruit, grapefruit. The stress of the job wore at them both, and stretched at her patience with him. Some days it felt like he'd never hear her laugh again.

Just to hear that voice... It could be calling to him in fear, making him feel needed. It could be asking where he wanted to go for lunch. It could be singing some half-forgotten song, and not very well. He wouldn't care if she was reading off an endless column of numbers, just as long as it was her voice, speaking to him. Calling his name... Using four-letter words like a longshoreman... Whispering them in his ear... Suggesting some mutually agreeable activity for two... Begging for his touch... Sighing... moaning... crying out in orgasm...

Music announcing the start of a basketball game tootled from the TV, yanking his attention to the here and now, away from the probably not possible. Sportsguy voices suffused his consciousness, and he balled up one last pair of socks and carried the basketload quickly to his chest of drawers to put them away before the game got going, with Scully's voice fading in his memory.


9:28 p.m. -- The game blared away on the TV, and an open pizza box sat on top of the stuff piled on the coffee table. The phone rang. Mulder picked up the receiver with the hand that didn't have a slice of drippy pepperoni pie in it. He chewed and swallowed as quickly as he could, then barked excitedly into the phone, "Scully?"

A woman's voice, though older than the one he had expected, addressed him. "Hello, Fox. Did I call at a bad time?"

His face fell, but he tried not to let his disappointment read in his voice. "Oh, hi, Mom. I'm just having some dinner during the game. How are you?"

"Fine, dear. How are you doing?"

"How do you mean?"

"Well, didn't you say that Dana was going away this weekend?"

"Yeah, I did."

"Well, you *did* think it might be her calling just now... I just thought that maybe you'd get lonesome."

Mulder muffled a sigh. "Not really..."

"Lie to me all you want, Fox Mulder. I'm your mother, and I know a few things. If you want to sit there alone all weekend and moon over her, go right ahead. I'm not going to stop you."

He felt a guilty flush cross his face. "Thanks for thinking of me, Mom. I'm fine."

He could picture her raising one eyebrow, not unlike another female of his acquaintance. "Really?"

"Yes, Mother," he inhaled in a singsong, rolling his eyes. "Look, is that the only reason you called?"

"Can't I call my son to see how he is?"

"Yes, you can. I'm fine. Thanks."

She sounded less than convinced. "Okay... If you're sure..."

"Yep. Gotta go -- the Knicks are down by five. I'll call you next week!" he called into the phone as he hung up.

Mulder realized that he had cut her off so fast just so he could keep the line clear, and felt guilty all over again. He thought about how hard it must be to be a parent, and how your kid is always your kid, no matter how old or spooky or ungrateful he is. He tried to picture himself having kids, somewhere off in the murky future, but whenever he did that, he always found that he pictured himself having kids with *Scully*. He was well aware that Scully, who may have been less than forthcoming about her feelings on many things, most definitely wanted to have a baby of her own. It broke his heart to think that this scenario could never happen now that he'd come into her life and dragged her along on his little alien hunt. Because of him, because of his endless, sometimes seemingly pointless quest, she'd been abducted, kidnapped, whatever; her body so damaged that she could never become a mother. Her childless fate was all his fault, and he felt responsible for every moment of unhappiness it would bring her.

Maybe there was something doctors could do... Maybe some way that medical science could make it happen, make her able to conceive again... Of course, he'd be thrilled to help in any way he could, that is, if she wanted his help. He conjured up a mental image of her nursing and cooing to a tiny red-haired baby, who would see nothing more in her magnificent breasts than a nice, warm meal. Ah, the innocence of the young! As he smiled and enjoyed this beautiful scene, it shifted, and suddenly he could see her hugely pregnant, her belly swollen with the child she so wanted. She would take Mulder's hand and hold it against her taut flesh, where an enclosed foot kicked out as it moved within her body. By the way she looked at him, her eyes shining and happy, he knew that this was his child, too, and the thought that his seed could have sown this miraculous bounty simultaneously aroused him and almost moved him to tears.

A loud whistle stirred him from his reverie. The quarter was over, with the Knicks still down by five. His appetite for pizza curiously quelled, he shut the box and went to find space for it in the nearly empty fridge.


10:54 p.m. -- The light from Mulder's TV cast a peculiar glow on the drawn windowshades in the darkened room. He lay on the couch stripped to his underwear and socks, his left hand clutching a VCR remote control, and his right toying with the elastic waistband of his briefs. The images onscreen flashed by rapidly as he let the machine fast-forward the tape to his favorite scene. He pushed the "play" button, and his eyes widened as scantily clad figures began cavorting before him in full color. The fingers of his right hand crept into his underpants and reached for his flaccid penis. His thumb ran up and down the wrinkled flesh as his fingertips teased the head and its eye, for once strangely dry. The familiar performers suddenly looked bored and uninvolved in their sport, and their pretend sex play began to look forced and artificial, having no effect on his mood at all. He realized how pathetic he must have been when the actress with the red hair, who was always his "sure thing", left him absolutely cold for the first time.

Was it just the red hair? Was that the only thing that got him going about this marginally talented though well-endowed actress? He paused the tape on a frame where the woman's face was obscured but her hair was clearly visible. Maybe if he just pictured Scully in that black lacy camisole with gartered fishnet stockings, her legs spread invitingly before him... His cock twitched in his hand, blood beginning to fill the empty channels and make its flesh tight and rigid. Yes, that image was helping... He imagined her fingers tickling her own clit, making her opening wet with the anticipation of his penetration. A glistening droplet of fluid formed on the tip of his penis, and he eased off his now-snug briefs with his other hand. His wrist jerked back and forth, making his hand slide along his length as he clutched himself gingerly yet firmly. Oh, Scully! Why couldn't she just see what she did to him? Why wouldn't she make the first move, to indicate that she understood how much he wanted her, how much he needed her, both physically and emotionally? Why should he have to say anything? Wasn't it obvious? He pumped himself steadily, with a practiced intensity, trying to pretend that his hand was her hand, guiding him into her dark center, plunging into heaven, coming home. Pressure began to build in his loins, and he felt a ringing in his ears.

No, wait. He *heard* a ringing. His phone. "Aaagh! Not now!" he wailed as he tried not to lose the mood. It *couldn't* be her, he decided, so he chose to let the machine pick up.

He frantically yanked at himself, mentally scrambling for images of women's mouths, women's breasts, women's genitals...

Frohike's voice boomed over the speaker. "Mulder! I know you're there! Get your dick outta your hand and pick up the phone!" he ordered.

Caught! His embarrassment shrank his erection, and he dove for the phone. He put on his best "just coming in the door" voice and answered. "I'm here! I'm here! Don't hang up! I was just getting home..."

"Yeah, right," Frohike barked. "Look: we need a fourth for poker. Are you game?"

Mulder refused to think about why they needed an extra person to play poker, and tried not to sound like he was standing there in stocking feet with his underpants around his ankles. "No. As I said, I just got in. I'm really beat," (at which Frohike let out an involuntary guffaw), "and I don't think I'm going back out."

"Well, okay, if you think you can't make it, we'll manage. Say, next time you hear from Miss Strawberry Queen 1998, tell her I had a wet dream about her last night..."

Mulder was starting to protest that he didn't know if he was going to hear from Scully, when he heard scuffling over the phone on the other end.

"Mulder!" It was Langly. "Say, pal, we've got a wager going on over here. Want in?"

"I don't know," he fumbled.

"I've got ten bucks that say you won't tell Dana how you feel about her before the Millennium. So, whaddya say?"

Langly's voice faded as the phone was jerked from his hand. Mulder muttered after him, "How do *you* know how I feel about her? Sometimes I'm not sure *I* know..."

Byers whispered into the Lone Gunmen's receiver. "Tell her, Mulder. I've seen how you look at her. She must be pretty important to you. Go on: tell her."

"She's not here. She's not even in town. She's at some conference in San Francisco until Monday."

"Well, then, tell her Tuesday."

This conversation was starting to make Mulder angry. "Byers, why the hell does it matter to you, anyway?"

"I never turn down a chance for an easy ten bucks..."

Mulder made an agonized grunt and slammed down the phone, but not before he overheard Langly yelling from elsewhere in the room, "Hey! I heard that!". He spun on his toe and began to stalk off to the bathroom. Unfortunately, he forgot that his underwear was still lying around his ankles, and he tripped, turning a sloppy somersault over the coffee table and across the room, landing flat on his back, staring at the ceiling.

"A graceful ending to a charming conversation," he muttered sarcastically to himself. "Ow!" he groaned as he started to pick himself up and rubbed the back of his head.


12:33 a.m. -- Sound asleep on the couch, Mulder dreamt. He found himself dressed in an elegant grey morning coat with a striped silk ascot and black formal trousers. Sun streamed in through stained-glass windows, and happy voices buzzed around him. He realized he was standing below an altar, and looked up at the religious officiant behind it, whose eyes were looking far behind Mulder, over his shoulder.

He turned and saw her: appearing at the very back of the room, preparing to walk down a long, white runner towards him. Dana Scully: his partner, the only person he trusted in the world, the only reason he wasn't dead right now dozens of times over, poised to take the longest walk of her life. She was wrapped in white tulle and satin, a veritable blancmange of fabric, gliding along on the arm of Assistant Director Skinner, who was decked out in a monkey suit identical to his own. He quickly looked to his right and his left... A few familiar faces, some strangers, but an even number of men and women: everybody else matched up already. Was she coming for him? He squinted to see the look in her eyes (man! how long *was* that aisle?), and as he focused on those baby blues, they seemed to rush up at him like the surf, not quite knocking him over, enveloping him, crashing around him with a roar that drowned out every other sound in the room. Bells were ringing far away as he beheld her face, perfectly framed by a delicate veil, but glowing and giving every ounce of attention to him and him alone.

"I love you," he said tentatively, marveling at the ease with which those tiny words finally floated free on the air. He eagerly awaited her response.

"Mulder, it's me," she began.

He interrupted her. "Of course it's you! It's always been you! It's always gonna be you! From this day forward, forever and ever!"

"I guess you're not there."

"Of course I'm here! Where else would I be?" He became aware that he'd uttered this last sentence out loud, not just in his dream, and this woke him up to find the light on his answering machine blinking steadily. That meant a message was coming in!

He bounded to the desk to snatch up the receiver just as Scully was saying, "Well, I guess I'll call you sometime tomorrow..."

"No! Wait! I'm here! Where else would I be?" he hollered, wondering where he'd heard that line before.

"Oh, hi, Mulder. Did I wake you?" She sounded tired herself.

"I guess so, but that's okay. How's your conference going?" He was wide awake now, giddy with delight at having her there at the end of his arm, there inside his ear where she belonged.

"Boring as hell, but I should have expected that. Sorry for calling so late. I guess I lost track of time, and forgot about the time zone thing..." Her consonants were noticeably mushy.

He listened to her more closely. "Scully, are you drunk?" He chuckled at this revelation.

"A little. Somebody from the conference was trying to wine and dine me, and there seemed to be a lot more wining than dining. He's picking me up here at the hotel in a few minutes. I think he wants to take me dancing."

Mulder's heart sank into his stomach, but he desperately didn't want her to notice his disappointment. "So, is this the man of your dreams, then, Scully?" he said, wearing a forced smile.

"Nahhh. Not even a passing fancy." Mulder heaved a silent sigh of relief. "I figure I'll give him the slip in an hour or so. If he's too persistent, I guess I could always throw up on him."

"That would probably work," agreed Mulder, thinking that it would take more than that to scare *him* off. There was a pause, but it wasn't awkward or strained. It felt almost like a resetting of a technical system to its standard operating settings. "I miss you, Scully," he almost whispered.

"I only left this morning!" she whined, then caught herself. "I'm sorry. I'm tired, I'm cranky, and a man who could pass for Walter Cronkite's younger brother has been looking down my blouse all evening. I miss you, too. But I'll be back Monday night. Can you pick me up at the airport?"

He smiled to himself. "I'd love to..." A muffled knock could be heard over the phone.

"You're wonderful! Whoops, there's my date. I'll call you Monday to let you know which flight I'm catching. Have a good weekend!" The line clicked off.

Mulder looked at the receiver and sighed sadly. He spoke to the phone in his hand. "You, too. You're wonderful, too. I'd love to... I'd love to meet you at the airport and run away with you to a deserted island where there are no government conspiracies, little grey men, or relatives of former TV anchormen making your life miserable. I'd love to sweep you off your feet and make passionate love to you. I'd love to watch you eat an apple. I love you, Dana Scully..."

He hung up the phone. Maybe Langly would win his stupid bet after all...


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