Fox Mulder was shopping for groceries. In a supermarket. In
Georgetown. He felt silly shopping here, but he was still hoping he
would bump into Scully before he left her neighborhood. It was
Friday and he had brought some insurance policy papers along as a
good excuse to stop by her apartment. She didn't answer and he had
stepped inside just to make sure she really wasn't there tonight. He
didn't want to leave the papers underneath the door. They would make
an excellent excuse to stop by tomorrow night and maybe persuade
Scully to have a good Italian dinner on him.
He only needed to shop for groceries every few weeks, stocking up
staples like beer, microwave popcorn, and sunflower seeds. He ate
out so much, whether he was in D.C., or on the road, that these
essential trips were far and few between. He usually found it
relaxing to stroll through the aisles at eight o'clock at night,
humming to the Muzak and forgetting the usual frustrations that
accompanied so many of his days. Including his inability to
understand women. Well, just one woman in particular. A woman still
hiding behind a facade of propriety, still unwilling to tear down the
walls that separated their private and public lives.
And he couldn't blame her. It would probably really fuck up their
lives at this point. They had recently gotten the X-Files back, and
they didn't need the distraction. They had no idea what lay ahead
now that the Consortium was weakened. And Skinner would probably not
be pleased, though Mulder would never expect any reprisals from the
A.D. He was too discreet to respond to any Bureau rumors and too
indebted to them to pry into their personal lives.
But he could blame her. It was getting absurd. She had to know
he felt about her by now. He was pretty sure that she wasn't dating
any eligible men at the Bureau, men who frequently asked her out,
despite gossip about their 'close' relationship. The whole debacle
with Philip Padgett had convinced him that she wasn't leading some
secret life, one he had no knowledge of.
He'd never felt more out of line than when he'd ask her about the
love scene portrayed in that sick puppy's novel. And when she told
him that 'he knew her better than that,' he hadn't had a smart ass
comment to fling back at her. Because he just wasn't sure at that
point in the case what to think. He was riding a wave of jealousy,
unable to comprehend how she might have let her guard down, sitting
down for coffee in a stalker's bedroom. Later, after her traumatic
experience in his apartment, he understood that she was more
fascinated with the peculiarity of Padgett, than the man himself. If
she had been trying to convey a subconscious message that her partner
was ignoring her, she had succeeded.
He had made an attempt to lighten things up for them. By playing
baseball with her, by stopping by with food or videos when he knew
she'd be home. He wanted to develop a comfort level between them
that would allow her to admit her true feelings in her own good time.
If she saw how much he valued her as his friend, if she trusted him
without question (as she once upon a time had), maybe it would
convince her not only that he loved her, but that he saw no one else
in his future other than her.
Mulder emerged from his thoughtfulness, realizing that he had
unwittingly stepped into a mine field by choosing this particular
supermarket near Scully's apartment. It was 'singles' night and
there were far more women than men cruising these aisles. Everywhere
he went in the store he was accosted by leering smiles. These women
must think I'm here to pick someone up, he thought. The joke was on
them. He'd been so wrapped up in his meditation on Scully that he'd
been completely immune to their well-advertised charms. He was
determined to get the hell out of here as soon as possible, slightly
embarrassed by the attention he was receiving. Even though he was
doing little or nothing to encourage it.
Mulder got to the produce aisle and suddenly felt surrounded.
seemed to be the outpost for most of the unattached women roaming the
store. Maybe they felt that they could help clueless men choose the
right cantaloupes, he surmised. In any case, he just had a few more
things to buy and he was out of here. He didn't foresee the
aggressiveness of the pretty blonde in the fruit aisle. He just
wanted a few oranges to ward off scurvy, and he was assailed by
voluptuous curves leaning over into his space, trying to engage him
in conversation. At the very moment he was trying to jovially
disabuse her of the notion that he was even the slightest bit
interested, he heard a familiar voice from behind.
He turned around, so happy to see her there that he dropped his
intended purchases, watching as they merrily rolled away along the
smoothly polished floors. Both he and Scully raced after the fruit
and she helped him bag them up and throw them in his cart. Buxom
blonde had immediately lost interest, skedaddling away to annoy some
other, more receptive, patron of the establishment.
He smiled broadly at her and said, "Thank you, Scully. You
me from an awkward situation."
"What are you doing here, Mulder? Isn't there a store in your
He tried to think of a reasonable response on the fly, but just
couldn't. He had to admit he'd driven out here to see her, or at
least to drop off those papers and see her.
"I had some insurance policy papers you have to sign..."
"You could have slipped them underneath my door."
Time for brutal honesty, Mulder. You owe it to her. This is part
of the new regime, the new battle plan. He glanced down at the floor
tiles and said, "Well, if I'd done that, I wouldn't have been able to
come by tomorrow night when you'd be there." He looked up and gave
her a sheepish grin, fully prepared to look like an ass in her
She looked at him thoughtfully, considered her words carefully,
said, "You know, I never much cared to come over here on singles
night. It always struck me as such a meat market. Now I realize
that I was just waiting for the right company to keep. How would you
like to help me shop for groceries, Mulder?"
His expression said it all, pure gratitude that she had accepted
interest for what it was, allowing him to save face, allowing him to
spend precious time with her without questioning his lame excuse for
being there. He looked over at his partner, her arms crossed, eyes
bemused and shining, and said, "Sure, Scully. I'd love to. But I
don't want any of that health food crap in my cart. You'll have to
get your own."
She laughed loudly, to his great delight, and said, "O.K.,
But you have to come help me put all my groceries away afterward.
And eat some of them, too. 'Kay?"
"Whatever your heart desires, Scully. Whatever your heart desires..."
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