A thunderstorm brings back childhood memories for Scully.
DISCLAIMER: Not mine; they belong to CC, FOX, etc.
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It was a Saturday night, and the two X-Files agents had been over at Mulder's apartment all evening going through field journals and autopsy notes to wrap up their latest case. Around 11 o'clock, they decided to call it a night, and Mulder had disappeared into the kitchen to make coffee before Scully drove home.
While he was standing at the sink washing mugs, the thunder rattling the windows brought to his attention that coffee wasn't the only thing brewing. As the coffee machine did its magic, he returned to the living room to find the lights off and his companion standing in front of the open blinds watching the storm.
As he approached her, a bright flash lit the room, and the rumble following soon after caused his usually stoic partner to jolt as if the charge had gone straight through her. He noted that her arms were wrapped tightly around her midriff, and she trembled slightly, a tangible depiction of the electricity in the air.
He was surprised by her reaction to the tempest, as he seldom saw anything rattle her. Although he had seen her anxious before when they had flown through storms, she always did her best to suppress her nervousness. He had thought it was the flying that caused her anxiety, but what he saw before him now made him question that assumption.
Coming gently up beside her, he tried his best not to startle her further. "Maybe you should stay here tonight so you don't have to drive home in that."
At his voice, he saw her immediately try to regain her composure. He could almost hear her armor snapping back into place. Just then another flash illuminated the room followed by a loud clap of thunder, and her eyes grew wide but her body remained stone still.
"I'll be fine, Mulder," she mumbled in his direction while she continued to stare outside.
*Sure you will,* he thought, but he said no more. He wanted desperately to do something to ease her apprehension, but he knew that he had to tread lightly where Scully's emotions were concerned.
Folding his arms across his chest, he looked out the window as she did, standing mere inches from her but not quite touching. Together they watched in silence as the storm proceeded to rage outside.
Finally, Scully spoke. She tried for a light conversational tone, but it was laced with an uneasiness that would only be discernible to someone as familiar with her as he was.
"When I was 10, a friend of mine was struck by lightning. Well, not a close friend, really, but a girl I knew from school. She was out in a field playing soccer when the storm hit, and there was no place to find shelter. I had never really been afraid of lightning before, but after that, I was terrified of it. While Dad was out at sea, I used to run into Mom's room whenever there was a storm and ask her if I could climb into bed with her. She always let me, even though she always told me it was the last time.
"Then my father came home on leave. One night a storm came through and I ran into my parents' room. Dad told me I was too old for this nonsense and marched me right back to my own bed. He came in and sat with me until the worst had passed, but that was the last time I ever ran to my parents when there was a storm."
As her story ended, Mulder waited for her to continue, but when she didn't, he prodded her. "But it didn't make the fear go away."
"No. Now that I'm older, I understand what my father did, and I would probably do the same thing. But all I wanted that night was for him to hold me. And now every time a storm comes, I remember that scared little girl who's still waiting to be wrapped up in her father's arms."
After a moment's hesitation, Mulder committed to his course of action. He knew there was a danger that she wouldn't receive his gesture well, but he felt that he had to try.
Taking a step back and moving around behind Scully, he wrapped his arms around her, just below her own, and pulled her gently but firmly back against him. At first she tensed in reaction, but then he felt her let out a deep breath and relax into his embrace. It was only now that he realized she had removed her shoes, as the top of her head fit directly below his chin. Lowering his head, he dared to softly nuzzle her hair, but she didn't push him away.
They stood like that for countless minutes until the fury outside seemed to abate and the rumbling grew distant, indicating that the worst of the storm had passed. Scully started to pull away now, and Mulder let her, knowing how precious and rare it was for her to let her guard down. He knew better than to push it when she needed to regain her sense of control.
Taking a step away from him, she turned and looked up at him with a fond smile. "Thank you."
"Anytime." He raised his hand to push a strand of hair behind her ear, and he watched the motion with a wistful look, before his gaze met hers and she could see the mood shift in his eyes. "You know you're more than welcome to crawl in bed with me whenever there's a storm."
She dropped her chin and shook her head in dismay, but chuckled just the same. He had lightened the atmosphere with his usual suggestive humor, which she gratefully accepted. Moving past him now, she sat down on the couch and reached to retrieve and put on her shoes.
He stood there watching her, and when she was finished, she looked up to catch his regard. "What about that coffee you offered me?"
This seemed to bring him out of his thoughts, and he headed back into the kitchen to find the coffee pot full and steaming. Two clean mugs sat in the sink, and the rain tapped against the window. But the room somehow seemed warmer than when he had left it.
Scully had allowed herself to be vulnerable with him, however briefly, and he reveled in it. So seldom did he feel truly needed by her, but tonight was an occasion he would treasure.
When he returned to the other room with two full mugs and they sipped their coffee together before she left, it was not the steaming liquid that heated him inside but the lingering warmth from holding Scully in his arms.
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