A Feeling of Home
Second day of @thexmasfileschallenge: wreath.
Revival fluff, sort of.
Also tagging @today-in-fic
Mulder’s hand, the one that is not clinging to the paper bag holding his present, is poised to knock. If any of Scully’s neighbors were to open their door right now they might stop and wonder. Mulder, he is certain of it, looks frozen in time and place, an unwanted still picture here in this unfamiliar hallway. Her neighbors don’t know him, have never seen him; he doubts she ever mentioned him. To them, he is a stranger, a possible intruder. To Scully, he hopes, he is neither.
But he pauses, contemplates. His eyes are fixated on the perfectly crafted wreath that adorns her otherwise impersonal door. The joyous green clashes with the dark, massive grey that almost looks black. The paper bag rustles as he shifts his weight from one foot to the other. It was a silly idea. Stupid, really. He should leave. Scully doesn’t know he’s here, she doesn’t expect him. There’s no discernible noise on the other side of the door. She might not even be home. Without him she has all the time in the world. She could be at church, out a café with friends or she could be out on a date. Mulder swallows hard. Scully wouldn’t go on a date on a Sunday morning, would she? Not the Scully he knows. Or knew. But the Scully he knew had also never left him. That Scully never packed her bags, told him she couldn’t do this any longer before left him and their house.
His hand touches the wreath and he lets his fingers wander over a pinecone, over an artificial, dark red berry. It pains him to realize she’s used artificial greenery this year. He gathers his courage and finally knocks. It’s been years, a decade, since he’s last knocked waiting for her to open the door.
“Mulder?” Scully is surprised to see him and he can’t tell if she considers it a good or a bad surprise.
“Hi. I know I should have called first but-”
“No, it’s fine.” It’s hard to tell if she means it. Mulder decides not to question it, not now, and instead hands her the paper bag awkwardly.
“I uhm, brought you a gift.” She glances down at the bag and then back at him.
“Come on in, Mulder.” Scully steps aside and Mulder, for the first time, steps into the small space that Scully considers home these days. A few times after work she asked him if he wanted to see it, come with her. He always declined, unable to stomach the fact that when they spoke of home they both meant different places.
“Would you like anything to drink?” Scully asks him setting the bag on the kitchen counter.
“No, I can’t stay.” She turns to him, her expression unreadable. “I just wanted to drop this off. You don’t have to use it, but I wanted…” Mulder trails off, shrugging. A small smile plays around Scully’s lips as she gently takes out his gift.
“Oh Mulder.” How often has she uttered these words. He knows every intonation of her voice, has heard his name spill from her lips in so many ways, and he knows this one, too. “You did this for me?” The room fills with the strong aroma of freshly cut greenery. Scully touches it, follows the contours of twig that stubbornly sticks out.
“It’s cedar and fir,” Mulder clears his throat, “Your mother told me once that you can use just about anything green but make sure it’s evergreen. I know… you and your mom used to make the wreaths together. I still have the one she made for me last year.” He has to clear his throat again and he observes Scully. Her eyes fill with tears but the smile on her lips lets him know she wants to hear this.
“I know this is your first Christmas without her and I- I guess this is my way of honoring her. I should have known you already had a wreath.”
“I bought it, Mulder.” Scully admits, her voice heavy. “But you… this is beautiful, Mulder. My mom would love it. I love it. Let’s put it up on the door.”
“Scully, you don’t have to do that.” Mulder tells her as she walks past him, her hand softly touching his arm in passing.
“But I want to, Mulder. Make this place feel a bit more like home.” Mulder bites his lip as he watches her take off the artificial wreath. How badly does he want to remind her that there’s another house, another place that’s just waiting for her to come back. But he’ll wait. This, he figures, is a start.
“Now I’ll always have a piece of you here with me, Mulder.” Scully whispers before she gently, almost tentatively, kisses his cheek.