More Than You Think You Are Chapter 13
I shoved with all my strength, terrified of another brutal attack. My eyes opened wide and I realized I’d been dreaming too late to keep Skinner from tripping backwards over the coffee table and falling on his ass with a surprised grunt as the air was knocked out of him.
“Shit.” I sat up, shaky, sweaty and surprised at the lack of pain, the absence of blood. All that remained were drying tear tracks on my face and a slight ache, more like exercise burn than—than—
“They raped me.”
I didn’t realize I’d spoken aloud until Skinner jumped up from the floor and was on the couch beside me in a handful of heartbeats, staring at me with his face just inches from mine.
“What?” he demanded.
I recoiled from his harsh tone, heard an echo of ‘No sleeping!’ in my head and muttered “I deserve the harshest punishment….”
“Mulder, please. You’re scaring me.”
I was scaring myself. But one of the blocks in my head had come tumbling down and images were pouring out like water from a hole in a dam.
“I was in jail. Before. Before Scully and—Scully and I—“ I couldn’t get the words out, and I suddenly realized I was just in shorts and Skinner was sitting too close. I shuffled over on the couch. “I was in jail—a guilty man—“
“No,” Skinner shook his head. “I mean, yes, you were arrested. But it was false charges. You know that. And we got you out. We—“
“Were too late,” I replied. “I deserved the harshest punishment. And they—when they—I—you were too late.”
Dawning realization on Skinner’s face. He had put two and two together and come up with a bloody five. Just as quickly, I realized as well that our sex—lovemaking—whatever it was, had probably been the catalyst for this particular memory returning. I saw Skinner reaching out for me, and I didn’t protest, but a great shudder wracked my body and he froze, hands inches from my arms, eyes dark and troubled behind his glasses. He took a deep breath and seemed to withdraw into himself.
“I’m sorry, Mulder.” I didn’t know what he was apologizing for, and he didn’t elaborate. Instead he stood and announced, “I’m going to grab a shower and change. Think about what you’d like for supper.”
He walked out of the room and I breathed a sigh of relief and almost groaned in despair at the same time. I wanted him back and I didn’t want him near me.
I went to find that list of doctors again.
Walter was careful after that. I guess that’s the word for it. For a few days after the nightmare, it was like I was made of glass and he was afraid his hands would be clumsy and break me. He had been incredibly demonstrative since I’d come home with him, petting and hugging and touching, like he couldn’t get enough of me. And I admit; I had been getting used to it. He still had that weird hands off attitude he’d adopt once in a while, but as long as I was okay with it, he seemed glad to be able to touch at will. And the sex, what we’d had of it, had definitely been good. Maybe I’d been a little rusty, but I knew what I liked. What I wanted. And I found myself getting pissy when I wasn’t getting it. I don’t think I was ever Mr. Super Shallow (okay, maybe I was), but I liked being made much of, and I wanted Walter to fuss at me.
After the third day of careful conversation, a canyon between us on the couch and an ocean of space in our bed, I couldn’t take it another minute.
Walter was sitting propped up on pillows, reading some sort of legal something-or-other. The small lamp on the nightstand gave his bare chest and arms a burnished glow, and reflected off of his glasses, making it impossible to see his eyes.
I was lying next to him, eating sunflower seeds and channel surfing lazily, but for once the television held no charms for me, not even with TIVO. Hopeful glances over to Skinner elicited no response, and I was getting frustrated. I knew there was a part of me that was terrified that I wasn’t wanted anymore; that I had done something wrong and Walter didn’t want to waste any more time with me. Instead of giving voice to my needs, though, I flicked channels and toyed with anger. 'It wasn’t fair,' I fumed silently. I didn’t do anything! And how was I supposed to even know if I did do something wrong, when until a few weeks ago I didn’t even know my own name? I’d had a nightmare, and remembered something horrible, and now was the part where Skinner was supposed to understand, and coddle my fears a little, not be all standoffish and cold. I wanted to swear, to rant and roar, but only a frustrated sigh slipped out of me. And then “pathetic and needy” won the battle they’d been waging with “pissed off and belligerent” all night, and I shut off the television and threw the remote control on the floor.
Whether it was the original sigh, or the added darkness of the room sans television that caught Skinner’s attention, I didn’t know, but he looked over from the papers in his hand with a grim frown that unnerved me. I shrugged and wished he’d put his arms around me.
“Nothing good on,” I muttered. I tried my hopeful glance again, although it was getting a little frayed around the edges. “Whatcha reading?”
I wished that he would take off his glasses. Crack profiler I might have been back in the day, but Skinner wasn’t giving anything away, and I knew it would be at least marginally easier to read him if I could look into his eyes without the magnifying lenses.
“Nothing you’d be interested in.”
His voice sounded less gruff when he clarified, and he set the papers aside. He took the glasses off then, and I tried to capture his gaze, but he turned away from me and shut off the bedside lamp.
“Probably best if we just get some sleep,” he announced, not sounding sleepy at all, and I could swear I heard an echo as his voice carried across the expanse of bed between us.
I stared up at the ceiling, waiting for my eyes to adjust to the dark and wondering if I was going to cry, or hit the guy, or what.
Soft rustling from his side of the bed, and then a sigh, intentionally muffled, obviously, but frustrated nevertheless, and I just couldn’t take it anymore. Even if this all just ended right now (and I felt my stomach lurch at that thought) I couldn’t stand one more moment of not knowing; I’d had plenty of that already.
I rolled over to face him, took a deep breath and touched his arm. I felt a muscle in his bicep twitch but he didn’t respond otherwise.
“Did I do something wrong?” I couldn’t believe that this man had reduced me to a sniveling five year old. What kind of relationship we might have had before I could only guess at, but now—now I needed Walter Skinner; and just as importantly, I needed Walter Skinner to need me.
“What?” He sat up so abruptly it made me flinch. “Fox, no!” His arms came up automatically, reaching for me, but he froze at the last minute, looking frustrated and almost scared.
I completed the task myself, shifting closer so that our chests brushed and I put a little more pressure into the hand on his arm.
“I’ve been an ass,” he said, slumping his shoulders and turning our tentative closeness into a legitimate embrace. I took a minute just to stroke the warm skin under my hand, and enjoy the feel of his hands doing the same to me as we deliberately avoided looking at each other.
I took a deep breath.
“It was a nightmare, Walter,” I said. “But I don’t blame you for thinking I’m crazy.”
His grip on me suddenly grew painfully tight, then disappeared altogether, and the bedside lamp came on. I didn’t flinch, but I had to close my eyes briefly against the brightness. And then I opened them again when I felt him pull me back into his arms.
“It’s not you, Mulder—God!” His eyes were blazing with emotion, no difficulty reading that now, although exactly what he was feeling was still up for debate. It looked like love and felt like anger. “It’s me! I shouldn’t have—or I—I never—shit…”
One of his hands came up to cup my chin, and I don’t know who was trembling. He drew me close and pressed the softest of kisses to the side of my mouth. I squirmed and was already opening up to him when he pulled back.
“I love you,” he said. “I don’t know what else to say.”
“Say it again,” I whispered. Instead, his mouth on mine again, the hand on my chin moving to trace my cheekbone. A nibble at my lower lip that pulled a groan from me. Again I tried to deepen the kiss and again he pulled back.
“I love you. That’s all this is, Mulder, and all it’s ever been.”
He sounded so sure just then, so completely bare and honest that it
nearly brought tears to my eyes. Instead, I let all the ‘I’m a nut-job
he’ll never want me’ tension drop out of me with a gusty sigh and curled
my body into his. He automatically fit our jigsaw together, wrapping strong
arms around me and pillowing my head on his shoulder.
So I just followed the roll of his body as he reached back and turned
the light back off, and then let sleep claim me with an internal promise
that the morning was going to bring more than just a few careful kisses.