They belong to 1013 and Fox Network.
Another disclaimer: "I'll be there for you" is a Bon Jovi song but I only stole a couple of lines. This is NOT songfic.
Rate: PG13, for a few words.
Category: MS friendship (but tending to MSR), MA, SC
Archive: Yes, but please let me know
Feedback: Always welcome. I'm here to learn.
Summary: the tragedies in Mulder's life are starting to take their toll.
Thanks God it's Friday. It's been a long week. No X-files, no puzzling autopsies,no reprimands from our superiors yes, it's been a long,
boring week. Even Mulder is quieter than usual.
I've noticed that lately we don't ask each other if we're OK, probably because both of us get pissed off at the automatic "I'm fines" we get in response. Only we really don't need to ask. We know.
We are at his apartment, this eternally messy place that I've come to know as well as my own. Same goes for the owner. I can read him like a
We had some pizza and beer, chatted a little. The TV is on, we are supposedly watching this cheap sci-fi movie that not even Mulder seems
interested in. I don't pay any attention, I'm too busy watching him.He doesn't look good, but I won't ask.
I can tell by the way he stares away from the screen, the slumping of his shoulders, the way he swallows hard, his uneven breathing. I don't think he's sick, but I know he's not all right.
He knows me too well too. He knows I've noticed how shy and quiet he is. He's had these episodes quite often lately, when he turns introspective and taciturn for no apparent reason.
No wait, that's not exactly correct: for no work-related reason. Like now, for instance. But I don't fool myself. Mulder has plenty of personal reasons to be depressed.It's ironic that he calls me the strong one. Well, I guess I am, but my strength comes from a secure and mostly happy family,with loving and supportive parents and protective brothers and sister.
He's never had anything like that, and yet he managed not only to survive, but to become a good person. A good friend. My best friend.
We are sitting on his couch, a foot apart. I take furtive glances at him, and he inhales deep but doesn't stare back. His hands are lying by his side, unmoving. I take his left one into mine. I like his hands. My sister Melissa used to say that hands can tell a lot about a person, but I guess I was never that good at reading palms. I just take it, as I
usually do when he's sick or injured, and rub it with my thumbs.
I might not be a good palm reader, but the fact that he allows me to do it speaks volumes of his state of mind. I can almost hear the turmoil inside him.
"Mulder" I call him very gently. He swallows again and ducks his head, rubbing eyes and nose with his free hand. He turns his gaze on me, then he grabs a pillow and gingerly lowers himself until his head is on my lap.
I'm the one swallowing now, and it takes an effort to hold back my own tears. I wonder if he knows how much it hurts me to see him so sad. He's not crying, though, just moaning very softly, which is not that much better. He's looking out for comfort, and must need it very badly if he's asking for it so openly.
I run my fingers through his hair, enjoying the soft touch, and squeeze his arm from time to time. He stays there, very still, his disturbed state of mind showing by the stiffness of his muscles and the somewhat ragged breathing. I don't know what I should do: try to calm him down or tell him that is OK if he wants to cry and let whatever is bothering him out of his system.
"How about a back rub?" I offer instead.He inmediately pulls himself up, his head resting now on the armchair and the pillow propping him up in my lap. Following an impulse, I take the hem of his gray t-shirt and roll it up, and he surprises me by actually helping. Once he gets rid of it, he stays again very quiet.
Fortunately my hands are warm, and soon begin to roam all over his exposed skin. It feels so nice but I get a touch of guilt, like I'm
taking advantage of his vulnerability. I try to ease my mind thinking he must be enjoying it too.
Not for the first time I notice the marks on his back. I never gauged enough presence of mind to ask him about them, maybe because I'm not sure I want to know the answer.Despite his frequent complaints at my 'mothering' him, I think he secretly likes it. Most men I've been with would run away from a situation like this unless they calculated a sexual intercourse in the very near future.
As in so many other things,Mulder is different. It's not that often that he will allow me to get this close, but when he does he hardly needs to use words; he comes to me knowing I'll be there for him.
I remember a very difficult case in Sacramento, where we had to team up with one of his envious ex workmates from Violent Crimes. It was a
shock to me in several ways. First, I'd never seen him profile before and it effectively scared the hell out of me. Second, that asshole really did a number on him, Spooky being the nicest thing he called him. I would have gladly shot the bastard if Mulder himself hadn't told
me to back off. And last, I realized for the first time what it must have been like for him, doing that kind of job for three years and
being darn good at it,only to have people laughing at his back and taking all the credit.
That time, once we were alone and safe in our flight home, he crouched over my shoulder shyly. He was exhausted, following his usual
profiler mode behavior,he'd hardly slept during that week.
I was so deeply moved by that implicit trust that I almost fell apart.I knew back then that his so cool and polished professional detachment was a mere mask, his nightmares being the most obvious crack in his disguise.
But that was the first time he consciously let me know how lonely and vulnerable he felt.
I held him in my arms until he fell asleep and
smiled to myself when I noticed every female flight attendant on that plane would take not-to-discreet green-eyed looks at me. All they could see was a very good looking guy dozing on my lap. My fingers exert pressure on the tight muscles of his neck and I feel him relaxing a little. He shifts again and now he has his stomach on my lap, giving me access to his other shoulder, but his face is still buried in the pillow below his folded arms. He is clearly not in the mood to do any talking, and probably he doesn't want to listen to me either.
What can I say to ease his pain, anyway? Right now, I'm doing all I can do for him: keeping him comfortable and letting him know that I'm
here.The TV is still droning, the movie long forgotten. I take the remote and turn it off. I reach for the other remote control without
disturbing Mulder too much and turn the radio on. We can both use some quiet music right now.
I resume my task focussing on his lower back, thumbs pressing the sides of his spine up and down. Another trick I've learned from Melissa. Oh,boy, did she know how to give a massage that would render you a mass of jello.
God, I miss my sister.
My hands reach his side and creep under his ribcage and stomach, I but stop right below his navel, I don't want to make him uncomfortable. My thumbs are now circling above his kidneys.
I don't know how much time has passed, I don't care. I'll do this all night if I have to.
Mulder rolls to his right side, facing me. I smile and he tries to smile back. I put my arm under his neck to hold him better, my right
hand still rubbing his back.
It breaks my heart when I realize that this beautiful man with a beautiful soul never anyone had before who would do this for him. Not even his mother, I'm afraid, and I don't think he ever trusted anyone else enough. Maybe that's why he likes to be cared for now and then.He's trying to make up for lost time.
I kiss his forehead, smiling, doing my best to hide my thoughts. Not that I can hide too much from him, but I guess he's too upset to notice
"Mulder" I muse. "Whatever is bothering you, let it out. I won't ask questions, I'll just hold you" He nods weakly. "And I won't tell anybody either" I whisper in his ear, jokingly.
He swallows again and puts his arms around my waist, burying his face in my belly."It's OK, just let it go" I tell him softly, never breaking the physical contact. "It's OK"
I keep producing low, soothing sounds until I feel his body shaking against mine.He cries, not loud ragged wailing, but soft anguished sobs. His tears smell like old pain, and I get the feeling that they should have been shed a long time ago.
I rock him gently as he goes on with his catharsis, limp and trembling in my arms. I pull his afghan blanket and cover his body, tucking him in tightly. My arms and legs should be screaming for relief by now, but somehow
they don't. It's like my whole body is devoted to give him the shelter and comfort he needs.
I lean down to kiss him in the cheek, salty wetness meets in my lips. My fingers remove a strand of plastered brown hair from his
forehead, then run down his face to his chin and neck, where I place my palm to caress the soft skin. He shudders slightly at my touch and puts his own hand on top of mine. Suddenly exhausted, Mulder takes deep breaths and his tears slowly subside. He flings his hand to his face, but I stop him.
"Let me do it"
I rub his swollen eyes with the back of my index, washing away the remaining tears. He keeps his eyes closed for a moment, then he takes my hand and kisses it. I smile, my own eyes dangerously welling up. This time he does notice and raises his arm to wipe my own tears.
"C'mere" I say, helping him up. He does so, exhaling a long breath, as I change positions and take him in my arms again, guiding his head to my shoulder. "Feeling better?" I ask him affectionally, patting his neck.I feel him nod.
"Want a glass of water?"
"Not yet" he answers with a raspy whisper.
"Just hold me a little longer, please?" Like I could refuse him anything right now. I drape the blanket around him and tighten my embrace.
"Thanks, Dana." And now he calls me Dana. Uh uh.
"You're welcome, Fox."
"Don't" he starts, but then stops with something that sounds like a chuckle. "You know, what the hell. You can call me whatever you want. You earned it"
"Why, thanks, Fox! Now that's an honor!" I tease.
"Just don't wear out your welcome, OK?" We stay on the couch for a while, in complete silence, except for the radio. The volume is really low, but I recognize the ballad that's on as an old 80's hit. "I'll be there for you, this five words I swear to you" I whisper along.
"Will you?" I hear him say shortly afterwards, leaning back to meet my eyes.
"Be there for me" he says shyly.I am about to berate him for asking such an obvious question, but I bite my tongue. He is too emotional right now and maybe he already knows the answer, but needs to hear me say it.
"Of course I will, Mulder" I reassure him. He smiles and puts his head back on my shoulder, releasing the breath he had been holding.
"No one has ever said that to me before, you know" he confesses.
"Is that why you were crying?" I risk to ask.
"You said you wouldn't ask"
"I know, I'm sorry. I just don't want to give the impression that I don't want to listen"
He remains silent a few minutes.
"I wouldn't know where to start.Some things are.. hard for me to talk about. Even with you" he elaborates.
"It's OK, Mulder, I'm not trying to push you. I'm just telling you that if you need to talk, I'll listen"
"Some day I will tell you, Scully. But there are some things I have to sort out myself first"
"I understand. I can wait"
"Would you stay with me tonight? Please?" That tone again. If he asks me to dance a polka, I might just go and do
"I wasn't planning to leave you alone, Mulder. Besides, I'm really tired and the idea of that comfy bed you never use is tempting"
"Could I uh sleep there too?" he pleads.
"Mulder" He looks at me again, his head tilted on one side and an air of loneliness and desolation that breaks my heart.
"I'm tired, Scully, you don't have to worry," he smiles, only his voice betrays the sadness behind the words.
"All right, Mulder. But I'm warning you: I snore" I joke.
"No, you don't" he retorts with a devilish smile. "I would have noticed" We are stretched in his bed, staring at each other in the dark, I'm on my left side, he's on his right, our hands entwined in the middle.
"Don't you ever feel like this, Scully?" he asks.
"Like you're tired of living and you don't want to go to sleep because you're afraid you won't find any good reason to get out of bed in the morning" he explains like he's describing something as mundane as a stomach cramp.Is this so normal to him?
"Mulder, do you feel this way often?"
"Yeah" I must have made quite a face, because he quickly added "Oh, no, don't say it. I know. It's commonly known as depression, Post
Traumatic Stress Disorder in my particular case. It has to do with things that happened to me a long time ago. I've been coping with this
for years, I can handle it" I squeeze his hands under the covers, thinking of the scars in his
body, and though I told him before that I would listen to whatever he has to say, I get the idea that too much pain and suffering lie in his past.
"You're a lot stronger than you give yourself credit for, Mulder" I say sincerely.
"How can you say that after holding me while I cried like a baby" he wonders with innocence, and for some reason that makes me angry.
"Mulder, you are smarter than that. You weren't crying because you hurt your finger, or because Mommy won't let you watch your favorite TV show" I snap.
"It's just I don't feel so strong lately. It takes very little to make me lose control, my hold on things" he says through clenched teeth.
"Maybe it's because you're getting tired of 'coping', as you said, and it's time to let go" Now it is his turn to snap.
"Don't play mind games with me, Scully.You can play doctor all you like, but don't talk to me like a cheap shrink." Any other time I would have been offended, but tonight I read between
the lines and understand loud and clear what he is not telling me.
"I'm sorry." I apologize softly. "I didn't mean to upset you. What I'm trying to say is that I'm your friend and I'm here" I pull myself closer and pass my arms around him. A little more than emotionally volatile, he buries his face against me and fights the sobs that threat to overcome him again. I rub the back of his
neck and just let him be until he calms down and raises his gaze to meet mine.His bloodshot eyes shine in the feeble light that glows in the bedroom. As soon as his breathing is almost normal again, he speaks.
"I know that I'm fucked-up, Scully. I just wanted to know if normal people ever feel like this once in a while."
The sheer loneliness and pain implied in his words threatens to overwhelm my already battered defenses.
"There's no such thing as normal people, Mulder" I tell him, trying to avoid the question, but he doesn't buy it.
"You know what I mean" he insists.I inhale deeply.
"I believe that we all want to send everything packing at some point"
"I guess I had my moments, yes."
"Who do you cry to, Scully?" he asks softly.
His question catches me off guard and forces me to face a subject I'm not comfortable dealing with. But, that's what I get for trying to play shrink with Mulder. Man,he does know this game.
"Usually my mom."
I answer with some resignation. I am about to add Melissa to the list, but this time I check myself. It's definetely not a good idea to mention long-gone sisters right now.
"Lucky you" he sighs.Before I can help it, tears start falling from my eyes.
"Listen to me, Mulder. You are not alone. You are NOT alone. You can come to me whenever you need me"
"I know, Dana. Maybe that is why I feel like this sometimes lately. I can let myself go now, because I know you're there." Oh God, how can this man be so sweet.
"That's right, partner. I'll be right there. Now try to sleep, you're exhausted." I say as I gently kiss his temple.
"Yeah" he slurs. And then, more alert "Dana?"
"Will you will you come to me the next time you need someone to cry to?" he asks hopefully, his hands pressing mine tightly.
"Yes, Fox, I will. After all, if you have your own doctor, I can have my own shrink." He chuckles.
"Thank you" he muses, running his hand through my hair. Three seconds later, he is soundly asleep, still in my arms. I watch him sleep.
"Good night, love." I whisper.I take one last look at him before surrendering myself to sleep.He heard me.
This was my first piece, and it still is one of my favorites. It was written a long time ago, and I still reread it from time to time.