Apparent Inability

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Rated: R
Summary: Some use words, others use silence.

Classification: SRA
Rated: R
Key Words: Mulder/Scully Romance
Spoilers: all things
Disclaimer: Last time I checked, I
wasn’t Chris Carter. But you never know…
Archive: Gossamer, please. Email me before archiving elsewhere. I don’t see why I’d refuse.
Summary: Some use words, others use silence.
Notes: Extra-special thanks to Lib for doing an excellent beta while battling both illness and college 🙂


all the way to New York
I can feel the distance
getting close

You’re right next to me
but I’d need an airplane
I can feel the distance
as you breathe

And sometimes
I think you want me to touch you
But how can I, when you build the
Great Wall around you?”

— Tori Amos, China

Scully’s parents spoke about everything. All the time at home, even when they were fighting, they would talk and talk.

She would hear them at night, when she stood on the porch lighting up a cigarette, shielding the match with her hand. She’d hear the murmur of her parents’ voices, drifting down through an open window.

Sometimes she’d catch a name–a “Missy” or a “Charlie”, mostly–but never a Dana.

She’d stand on the porch, looking out at the tidy little base houses bathed in yellow streetlights, her wholesome neighbourhood, and she’d smirk with triumph as she puffed away at her mom’s cigarette.

But her parents had the last laugh one night, when her dad stuck his head out the window and called down–“Gee, Maggie, can you smell something burning? What on earth could it be?” Her mom’s raucous laughter followed his words.

Her parents started talking again as she stubbed out the cigarette. She stayed on the porch for a moment, defeated and furtive, wondering how they had known. How they knew everything about her, about her siblings, about each other.

She wondered this, as they kept talking.

Now she understands.


On the fourth morning, Mulder hands her a case file. She takes it without a word and starts flipping through it.

Five brutal murders in the Wisconsin woods. The only witness to these crimes claims the perpetrator was a giant red bird.

A homicidal phoenix, Scully thinks. This is ridiculous.

She says nothing.

“I’ve booked tickets for this afternoon,” says Mulder. He says it like he expects her to throw the file in his face and stalk out of the office. Like he’s apologizing. She tries not to hear the note of desperation in his voice.

He’s trying too hard to make it up to her–to let her know that he’ll always be her friend. Even though he doesn’t…even though they’ll never…

“I’ll go pack a bag,” she says, picking up her coat. “See you at the airport.”


Mulder is pulling off his mud-crusted boots when it hits her.

This isn’t a relationship. Relationships involve some kind of understanding between the people involved.

Scully leans on the doorjamb, watching him as he studiously does not look at her. He’s sitting on the edge of the bed, staring down at his filthy boots. When he licks his thumb and wipes a smudge
of dirt from his chin, she is struck by the maternal gesture. Mulder is his own mother, father, sibling and friend.

Obviously there’s no room for her in this equation.

“You want me to order take-out?” he asks, facing the wall now. It’s been five days and he still can’t meet her eyes.

“I’m not hungry,” she replies, keeping her voice even. “I’m going to take a shower.”

When she leaves, softly closing the connecting door behind her, she imagines Mulder cracking a bad joke about washing her back. Five days and she already misses his harmless innuendoes.

Get used to it, she tells herself, in her hardest, most determined inner-voice. Things have to be different now, and she’s not going to let herself slip. He’s not going to catch a glimpse of her weakness.


At two in the morning Mulder lies in his motel bed, staring at the ceiling. He can’t even try to sleep, because when he closes his eyes he sees Scully.

This isn’t unusual. He’s spent countless nights lying sleepless and lovelorn, thinking of Scully and what Scully might do given the right circumstances. But his current visions of Scully are entirely different from the old ones because now they’re of things he’s experienced first hand.

He keeps seeing her with her lips against the scar on his shoulder, kissing it over and over, and then kissing along his collarbone. He sees the flush that spread over her skin wherever he touched her. He sees her under him, with black dilated pupils, her hair spread across the pillow, and her swollen lips slightly-parted.

Her hears her too, all her little noises and sighs. Her husky voice in his ear, whispering his name with an inflection on the ‘r’, and then her voice again after they’d both come down, when she told him she loved him.

So why did she…?

It doesn’t matter now. He has to close that door. He has to pretend it never happened. That’s what she wants, so that’s what he’ll do. He’ll close it, box it up, incinerate it. Whatever it takes.

He won’t jeopardize what they have by talking about, by even mentioning, something she obviously doesn’t want.

I’ll still be her friend, he tells himself. We can still be friends.


Scully sits by the window, staring out at the neon-lit parking lot. Instead of dwelling on Mulder, as she has since the…incident, she is trying to think rationally.

She’s decided that she and Mulder can’t keep working together unless they have some kind of established relationship, some kind of agreement.

Before they’d been friends, anticipating something more. But now they’re just two people who can’t make eye contact. This can’t continue.

Either she leaves Mulder forever, or she talks to him about what happened. She refuses to even consider the first option.

So, she thinks briskly. Talking it is.

Easier thought than done.

Hey Mulder, she practices, lisping the words.

Hey Mulder, we need to talk. I need to talk to you. Mulder, I have something to say…something to ask you, oh hell, Mulder, listen to me. Mulder, we really need to talk.

Her rational thoughts begin to disintegrate, and her mind is flooded with him again, with the dark look in his eyes she’d mistaken for love.

“No,” she mutters, standing up suddenly, her knees wobbly with fear.

Wait…fear? Is she afraid of Mulder?

But she realizes that no–it’s much simpler than that. She’s afraid of speaking to Mulder. She’s terrified.


Before Scully opens the connecting door, she pauses, remembering.

She woke up in his arms, blissful and warm, so sure that everything in her life had finally worked out. And she thought he was sure of this too.

She left without waking him–an insomniac needs his rest–and she sang along to the radio all the way back to her apartment. She was still singing as she took a shower, loud and off-key, unable to stop smiling.

It was very early when she arrived at the office, but Mulder was already there. He was sitting at his desk, typing something on his laptop, but when she came in he didn’t look up. At first she thought he just hadn’t noticed her presence. So she walked up to his desk, her heels clicking on the floor. He still didn’t look up.

And then he said it.

“‘Morning, Scully.” His eyes remained locked on the laptop screen, distant behind his reading glasses.

How humiliating, was her first thought–how utterly humiliating, to have to work with him now, when he obviously never wants to touch me again. Her face burned as memories of the night before shuffled through her mind, a seedy slideshow.

She might have stood there forever, too embarrassed to move, but then the anger came, dark and comforting. She held onto it, drawing on its strength.

“‘Morning, Mulder,” she said. Damned if she’d let him see how much he was hurting her.

On autopilot, she sat down and opened an expense report. Then she picked up a pen and started filling it out, ticking the little boxes, trying not to cry.

And now she’s here, with one hand on his doorknob, on the verge of…on the verge of what? Talking to him? Spelling it out? She just wants to know where they stand.

It doesn’t mean you have to let him in, she tells herself. Don’t let him in.


Still unable to sleep, Mulder sits on the side of his bed, his head in his hands. He’s no good at suppressing his emotions–he wants to groan, or scream, or cry. But she’d hear him. He squeezes his eyes shut and counts to ten, but that doesn’t work, so he counts to fifty. That doesn’t work either.

He remembers her moving beneath him, urging him on, running her fingers down his back.

She left.

He woke up the next morning and her scent was all over his sheets, but she wasn’t there. For a while he just gazed at the indent on the pillow beside him, at the few red hairs on the white cotton. His bed had never felt so empty.

She didn’t even leave a note.

It was hard to get ready for work that morning, knowing what would probably greet him when he arrived. He kept picturing Scully in a smoothed suit and fresh make-up, pretending that nothing had happened. Maybe there would be a hint of regret in her eyes, or pity. Or both.

So he didn’t meet her eyes when she walked in, her heels clicking neatly on the floor. Scully was so neat, so precise. He used to love that about her, that difference between them, until she took a
scalpel to his heart. That’s what she did–cleanly, swiftly. She didn’t mention what had happened, or try to explain why she left.

She just sat down and carried on, and he stared at his blank computer screen, pretending to type, trying not to cry.

But the tears are coming now. Mulder leans forward, elbows on his knees, crying silently. He doesn’t hear his doorknob turn.

He doesn’t hear Scully’s bare feet on the carpet, as she walks towards him. The room is silent. His breathing is sharp, it feels like a knife in his diaphragm, stabbing deeper and deeper. If only he could block this out, he would be all right. If he could just pretend it never happened, like Scully, then he would be all right.


Scully stands in front of him, staring down at his mussed hair, shiny and black in the light. What on earth is he doing? His shoulders are heaving, he’s breathing in soft, harsh gasps. Mulder is crying? Yes, she thinks clinically, in shock. Why on earth is he crying?

She’s not sure whether she should reveal herself. Should she kneel and take him in her arms? Pat him on the back, tell him it’s okay? Or maybe she should just leave. If he knew she was here, he
would tell her to leave anyway. He doesn’t want her comfort. He doesn’t want her hands on him again.

But her protective instinct kicks in, overriding her notion for self-preservation. She and Mulder have been through too much together for her to just leave him here, sobbing silently in his room.
Whatever he’s crying about, it’s probably nothing to do with her. He probably thinks of her as his buddy now. His pal.

So she quietly falls to her knees in front of him, placing her hands on his shoulders.

He looks up then, startled. His eyes are wild at first, beyond human thought. When they focus on her his pupils narrow down to tiny points, sizing her up as a potential predator.

Your eyes, she wants to say, in amazement. They’re so beautiful.

She hasn’t seen them in too long. The last time she looked into them, he was still pressing her into his mattress, panting, and she brushed a lock of sweaty hair from his forehead, smiling up at him and watching him grin back.

Now Mulder just stares, blankly. She cups his cheek, wondering when he’ll gently push her away and tell her to leave. I’m not going to leave, she thinks.

They stay still, silent.

Mulder’s expression changes slowly, softening in slight ways until he’s gazing at her with wonder.

“Scully,” he says, “Scully.” His voice roughens. He puts one hand on her shoulder and rests the other against her jaw. Now we are equally linked, she thinks.

“You…” he says, and she knows exactly what he means. “Scully, this is…”

She shifts her hand, tracing his lower lip with the pad of her thumb. He takes her hand and pulls it up, exposing her wrist to his lips. He presses delicate kisses there, along her fine wrist bone, up to the centre of her palm. Their eye contact doesn’t break.

“We can’t go through this again,” she finds herself whispering. “Mulder, we need to tal-”

He shakes his head slightly, cutting her off.

“Later,” he says, voice hushed. There is awe in his eyes now, an absolute reverence.

And love, she thinks, running her fingers through his soft hair, caressing the back of his head. He pulls her closer to him, and now she can only see his eyes. So much love, she thinks. So much want.

When he leans down further and brushes his lips against hers, she pulls him closer, closer, melding their lips together. He turns their bodies, pulling her up onto the bed. They lie face to face, kissing greedily, hands tangled in one another’s hair.

She slides her leg up, over his hip, and presses herself against him. He slides his hands down to cup her breasts.

At first they speak in soft murmured names, in muted moans. Then in a rustling of clothes and sheets. Finally, in quickening breaths and ragged sighs.

They speak with their eyes, their hands, their lips. They speak with their humming blood.

And they speak with the pleasure between them, a bittersweet ache, until it stretches to breaking point and shatters. Then they are shuddering, clutching one another. Mulder groans against her
neck as she arches beneath him, crying out.

He whispers a question into her hair. “Do you still want to talk, Scully?”

She smiles to herself, shifting in his arms. “I think we just did.”