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It's Scully's turn now.

SPOILERS: diverges from canon sometime after Closure
DISCLAIMER: Not mine; the X-Files belong to CC, FOX, etc.

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Grabbing the last stack of books from the shelf, Scully set it down on her bedroom floor and knelt back down in front of the open box. As her hands mechanically continued the process of packing, her thoughts wandered to the events of the last few weeks. So much had happened, and yet so little had been said. How had everything changed so quickly?

Less than three weeks ago, the partners had been sitting in Skinner's office giving the final report on their latest case. After the usual looks of disbelief and resignation had passed over their boss's face, they were expecting his grunt of dismissal, but instead he took a deep breath and pulled out a folder before looking up at them.

It was a promotion offer for Scully. The field office in Seattle had an opening for the head of pathology, and apparently someone had recommended her for the job. She had been surprised, to say the least, and quite flattered, but she was prepared to decline it on the spot. It was Mulder reaching out for the folder and handing it to her that had stopped her. After muttering a "Thank you" and "I'll think about it" to Skinner, she followed Mulder back to their office without a word being exchanged.

In the end, she had only agreed to take the position because Mulder had urged so strenuously. This was the Mulder who years before had begged her to stay, and now he had all but begged her to go. He offered no argument other than that it was a great opportunity for her and she shouldn't pass it up. The decision had been made, and in typical fashion between them, no more had been said. She gave Skinner her acceptance and her two weeks notice. Her last day at the Hoover building had been on Friday.
Now here she was on Monday, at home packing to begin her move to Seattle.

Scully felt a tear start to trickle down her face, and she brushed it away, sniffing back any others that threatened to fall. She couldn't think about this now. She had been fighting
off the tears for two weeks, and she wasn't about to give in yet. She smiled to herself as an image of Scarlett O'Hara flashed through her mind: "I'll think about it tomorrow."

It wasn't like Mulder had stormed out of her life and said dramatically, "Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn." Then why did she feel like he had? Instead, he had said nothing. He wasn't even in the office on Friday afternoon when she left with the box of miscellaneous desk drawer contents tucked under her arm. The office was dark and empty when she looked at it for the last time and shut the door behind her, the door that still bore his name alone. Well, now it truly was his alone. Apparently, that's how he wanted it.

Scully was pulling packing tape across the top of the box when she thought she heard a knock at the front door. She paused for a moment to listen for the sound. There it was again--definitely a knock. As she got up and walked through the living room, she idly wondered who this could be. It was only noon, so Mulder should still be at work. Otherwise, he would have been her first guess, since he was her most frequent visitor.
Opening the door, she was surprised to see that it was him after all.

"Mulder, what are you doing here? Shouldn't you be at work?"

"Not anymore." Scully shut the door behind him as Mulder stepped into the apartment and turned to face her. "I just handed Skinner my letter of resignation."

"You what?!?!" The look on Scully's face registered her incredulity just as clearly as her voice. "Mulder, you can't--"

"I did, Scully. It's done. I'm not changing my mind." Mulder reached over and grabbed one of Scully's hands that had gone slack at her side. He looked down at her hand for a moment and then looked back up at her sheepishly. "I need you, Scully."

Scully sighed. "Mulder, my decision's already been made. I can't stay."

"I'm not asking you to." Secretly, she was hoping he would. Scully looked up at his face and met the determined look that she knew so well. She wasn't sure where he was going with this, but apparently they were finally going to talk. "I realized something today. I finally pulled my head out of my ass and realized something I should've figured out years ago."

He paused for a moment, but Scully didn't say anything. At her questioning look, he continued. "You told me once that not everything is about me, but it has been. Everything we've done for the last seven years has been about me. Everything you've sacrificed, everything you've lost, it's all been for me, for my quest. You've fought by side, and I never could have done it without you, but you've asked for nothing in return."

As Scully opened her mouth to speak, he stilled her lips with a finger, and with a look he made sure she understood before he continued. "My quest is over now, Scully. I found Samantha--*we* found Samantha, and I can finally move on. That's why I urged you to take this job. I thought I was doing you a favor by letting you move on with your own life. But what I realized today, Scully, is how much I *owe* you. I want to give you everything you've ever wanted, everything you've given up because of me. I want to stand by your side and support you, just as you've always supported me. I don't want to end our partnership. I just want it to be about you now."

Mulder's hand that had lingered over Scully's lips now dropped to his side, indicating that she was free to respond. But she wasn't quite sure what to say. After looking down for a moment at their hands that were still joined, she finally found her voice. "So, what, are you just going to follow me to Seattle?"

As he spoke the next sentence, Mulder reached into the pocket of his trenchcoat and pulled out a little black velvet box that he brought in front of Scully. "Actually, I was kinda hoping you'd take me in."

Scully gasped and stared in shock at the box, now open and revealing a dazzling diamond ring, as Mulder knelt down in front of her. When she was able to breathe again, she pulled her eyes up from his extended hand and looked deep into his hazel orbs. Overwhelming love and fear of rejection battled in his eyes as he let out a breathless, "Please say yes."

After what seemed like an eternity to both of them, Scully dipped into a reserve of Mulder-humor to break the tension building between them. She leaned in and whispered, "You haven't asked me anything yet."

Mulder gratefully met the humor in her eyes and smiled briefly himself before turning serious again. "Scully--Dana, will you marry me?"

The emotions in Scully's throat were choking her speech, so all she could do was look dumbly at him and nod. Mulder took the opportunity to mimic her action of a moment before, leaning in and whispering, "You haven't answered me yet."

She was just able to release her "Yes" on a contented sigh before Mulder's lips gently closed over hers. Then her arms were around his neck, and his were around her back, and the ring was all but forgotten as that first sweet kiss evolved into something more.

After a long moment, breathless, they pulled apart, but only far enough that their foreheads were now resting against each other. Scully started to laugh and shake her head slightly.

"This is crazy, Mulder."

"That's me, crazy Mulder."

She knew she should have seen that one coming. Pulling back a little, but not relinquishing her hold on him, Scully looked deep into his eyes and asked in a very serious tone, "Are you sure?"

"About us, Scully? Of course I'm sure."

"No, Mulder, I mean about the job. How can you just walk away from the X-Files after so long? That job is your life."

"That job *was* my life, and then you came along. Then *you* became my life, and the job was just a means to an end--to find my sister, and to be with you." At Scully's dubious look, he continued before she could object. "Why do you think I stayed when they shut us down?" He paused for a moment, for dramatic effect, before answering his own rhetorical question. "Because of you. If you had really quit after they shut us down and took the X-Files away, I don't know that I could have stayed. You were the only thing that kept me coming back every day. Hell, I had even less of a life then than I did before. I spent far too many late evenings at the office, at that stupid desk in the bullpen, because I knew that's the place where I'd see you again. It was your determination that gave me the hope to keep fighting, to keep trudging through Kersh's shit detail day after day." He sighed and pulled her closer, leaning his head against her chest. "Without you, and without my search for Samantha, the X-Files don't mean anything to me anymore. I can't do it without you."

They stayed liked that for a moment while Scully stroked his hair and took in the things he had just said. These were things she had hoped for and had needed to hear for so long, even more than she had realized. In the past, she would have objected; she would have supported him in his fight and urged him to go back and not throw in the towel. But things had already begun to change, and as she pulled back and looked down into his face, she realized just how much. In this position, with him still on his knees, she was the taller one, and she was seeing things from his perspective for the first time. They had changed places. He wanted things to be about her, and it was her turn to take the lead. Somewhere an inner voice proclaimed, "Dana Scully, welcome to the driver's seat."

"And so we leave and the X-Files close, just like that?"

"I could plead with Skinner to keep them open and assign someone else, but after that last audit, I think it was just a matter of time before they closed us down again. They were just looking for a good reason. I guess we beat them to the punch."

"You don't have to quit, Mulder. You could at least put in for a transfer."

"Scully, I'm no good for anything besides the X-Files. I could never work normal cases, or even worse, sit behind a desk. Besides, no one would want me."

"You're a good agent. The best I've ever seen. You make a difference. You solve cases that no one else would ever figure out."

Mulder smiled up at her in admiration for her support, but then his smile turned rueful. "They'd assign me a new partner. You know I can't work with anybody but you."

For that, she had no objection. She knew he was right. They were a team, and neither of them could ever be partnered with anyone else.

"So, what'll you do?"

"I don't know. I'll just do something else for a while. I've got options."

Scully's eyes smiled down at him as she said playfully, "And who's going to save the planet from the aliens?"

"I never said I was going to give up on that, Scully. But the FBI isn't necessarily the best place to fight from anymore. And who says I can't save the planet from Seattle?"

The tone to his voice was light, but Scully knew he was serious. For a moment it troubled her, but then a peace settled and she smiled at him broadly, hugging his head back to her chest. This was the Mulder she knew, the Mulder she had fallen in love with. And despite all his quirks, she never wanted him to change.


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Notes: After reading an angsty story about Scully putting Mulder's career ahead of hers once again, I just had to give Mulder a chance to say what I think Scully deserves to hear.

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