Would you be open to writing something with Mulder helping Scully with something wonderfully domestic long before they become involved? Like moving house, fixing the sink, paining the apartment...UST!
I absolutely loved this prompt - thank you so much, anon! I hope you like it. Set between Redux and Detour.
“Mulder, what are you doing this weekend?“ There is no reason to be nervous, Scully reminds herself as she presses the phone against her ear and winds the cord tightly around her finger. It’s just Mulder.
"Not much. Shoot some hoops, maybe. Why, do you have any tantalizing x-files lying around, Scully?" He chuckles at his own, really not so funny, joke.
"No, I could just use your… help. For something.” The cord bites into her skin leaving a red mark. Scully considers hanging up the phone and claiming she was high on painkillers.
“My help? Always, Scully. What do you need me to do?”
“Only if it’s not too much trouble.”
“Scully, come on. What is it?”
“I need to paint my bedroom and the doctor said I should refrain from strenuous activities so-”
“He’s right, Scully. You’re barely out of the hospital. I’ll gladly help you, but don’t you think it’s too soon?” Scully gnaws on her lip. That’s exactly what her mother said, too. If it were up to her, Scully would spend the next few weeks or even months in a bed recuperating. Having ditched certain death, all Scully wants is to do things. Live. Because it’s the one thing she thought she’d never get to do again. She beat cancer. Clearly, she can paint her bedroom.
“I’m fine, Mulder.” He groans in frustration on the other end of the line. “I really am. I know I have to take it slowly and I’m doing that. I just need to paint that wall.” He is quiet for a moment, a tell-tale sign that he’s thinking. Scully imagines him licking his lips trying to come up with the right words. She is not ready to spill her secret just yet. The reason why the paint job can’t wait.
“What time should I come over?”
Saturday morning and the hardware store is crowded. Mulder listlessly pushes their cart along the broad aisles and she has to grab it a few times to prevent a collision with another cart or person.
“You didn’t tell me we still had to buy the paint.” Mulder sounds like a moody child and Scully is about to tell him to stop being such a baby when he abruptly comes to a standstill. It’s too late to stop herself from crashing into him.
“Scully, look at this,” her eyes follow Mulder’s pointing finger, “what do you think?"
"It’s cut lumber, Mulder.” He nods, staring at the cut pieces and panels as if they were extraterrestrial entities. Scully briefly wonders when Mulder has last stepped foot in a hardware store. Or if he ever has.
“I could build you a new kitchen cabinet.” His voice is more excited about that prospect than it should be.
“Nothing is wrong with my kitchen cabinet, Mulder. I am very happy with my furniture. What we need is paint.” She tugs at his sleeve and he starts moving again. As if she’d ever let Mulder alone with a hammer and nails. They spend enough time in and out of hospitals as it is.
They make it to the paint aisle without further disruption. Mulder stares at Scully, at the colors and back at her.
“I think I should stick with white. What do you think, Mulder?"
"You really don’t want to ask me about colors.” Mulder’s finger traces a soft aquatic color and then turns to her. There’s a soft, almost shy smile on his face. “Reminds me of your eyes. But uhm, that’s probably not the color you want in your bedroom.” He clears his voice. Scully, touched yet slightly embarrassed, lets his comment slide and moves on to the whites.
“Silver Feather or Morocco Sand.” She mumbles, examining the colors closely.
“Scully, it’s the same color. They’re both white!”
“No, they’re not. Look,” Scully is interrupted by another couple, matching grins and clothes, apparently hoping for some advice, “the Morocco Sand is a touch darker.”
“Silver Feather works great in bedrooms,” the woman tells them with a wink, “reflects the morning sunlight just beautifully.”
“I think I want Morocco Sand, Mulder.” Scully mumbles quickly and pushes Mulder to get the cans. The couple keeps moving to the reds and Scully takes a deep breath.
“Are you sure, Scully? I think Silver Feather looks really nice.”
“You just said they looked the same!”
“I was wrong. Let’s buy Silver Feather." She doesn’t object.
Scully feels as if she’s in a movie. In one of Mulder’s videos that aren’t his. She watches as Mulder, shirtless and with low-riding jeans, moves the furniture in her bedroom. Moaning from the physical exertion. The play of his back muscles as he puts protective plastic on the ground is mesmerizing.
"Should we get started?" He stands in front of the naked wall, hands on his hips. Scully nods, her mouth slightly open. Water. She needs a glass of water. Ice cold.
"Do you- are you thirsty, Mulder?”
“Oh yeah.” He basically groans. Scully walks into the kitchen, heat following her, and when she pours the glasses, Mulder is suddenly close behind. Scully almost lets go of the glass but quickly recovers and pushes it into his hands. Her fingers brush against his hot, naked chest. Mulder gulps down the water and grins at her.
“Let’s get this paint on the wall, Scully.”
It turns out Mulder puts as much energy into painting a wall as he does in everything else he considers important. She tried to help but Mulder makes her take a break every five minutes. ‘I’ve got this, Scully,’ he told her, ‘sit down and relax. You can watch and criticize.’ She tries to find fault in his brush strokes, but he seems to know what he’s doing. So instead Scully looks for her old radio, dusts it off, and soon soft music fills the room. Whenever a song comes on Mulder likes, he starts whistling, badly. Then Elvis starts singing. Mulder lets go of the pain brush, turns to Scully who sits cross-legged on the plastic, half reading a medical journal. Mulder offers her his hand.
“Dance with me.”
“What?” She laughs.
“Just one dance, Scully. Please. It’s Elvis!” She puts her hand in his, convinced. Small drops of paint are splattered on his arms and his chest. His still very naked chest. Scully loses herself in the warmth of his skin, the feel of his muscles. Her thin cotton shirt is the only barrier between their chests, barely there at all. Her hands are on his back, skin touching skin.
“Hmm, you gotta love Elvis.” Mulder croons into her ear, his hands on her back drawing small circles. She wishes she’d put on a bit more weight already. He must be able to feel her ribs against his fingertips. Scully makes a mental note to have a big lunch, maybe something with fries. Mulder, she is certain, won’t need to be convinced.
The melody picks up and Mulder doesn’t miss a beat, twirls them around. He laughs at her and the sound is so infectious that she giggles, hides her face against his chest. Suddenly he dips her and Scully squeals. Her eyes, upside down, land on that spot on the wall. She one she wanted to forget. The one that started the whole thing. The music stops, Scully stands upright, tries not to let Mulder see her change in mood.
“Scully? Are you all right? Are you dizzy? I didn’t think. I’m so sorry.”
“No, Mulder. That’s not…” Scully stares at the wall again. The smallest imperfection in a sea of white.
“What is it?” His voice is soft and she knows the exact moment he sees it. Mulder crouches down, the plastic rustling under him. He touches his finger to the spot, now a pale, distorted orange color. Scully hugs herself, feeling cold.
“What… what…” But Mulder doesn’t finish his sentence, whatever it is.
“One night,” Scully takes a deep breath, “one night my nosebleed was so bad. I didn’t see anything. It was everywhere. I crashed into the wall, I think, trying to get to the bathroom. I didn’t see the blood on the wall until later and then it was too late."
"I didn’t want to look at it anymore. Be reminded of it. I know it’s stupid but-”
“It’s not stupid. It’s not stupid at all.” Mulder picks up the paint brush and dips it into the can. Then he hands it to Scully. Soft white droplets drip to the floor as he waits for her to take it. Her hand is unreasonably shaky as she reaches for it. Mulder doesn’t let go and she eyes him, a questioning look on her face.
“Let’s start a new chapter, huh?” He asks her. Scully nods and together they paint over the blood, over the past until it shimmers silvery white and new.