Title: Mulder At The Bat
Summary: Mulder steps up to the plate, and Scully throws him a curve.
Spoilers: "The Unnatural" kinda......nothing big. If you haven't seen the episode, you can still read this, but it won't make nearly as much sense!
Rating: If you attended a public high school, none of the language included should offend you. I'd give it a PG-13 for language.
Disclaimer: Don't own 'em. Don't claim to. If you sue me, all you'll get is my systematically archived X-Files episodes and approximately $20,000 of debt owed to Catholic University and the federal government. And all my dirty laundry.
Feedback: If you are so inclined, feedback can be sent to AnnieW177@aol.com. Constructive criticism is always welcome, but no flames please!!!
Notes: Many thanks to Lisa for putting up with me and reading all of my crap-it's much appreciated!!
Mulder at the Bat
The only sound that echoed through the park was that of the resounding crack of the baseball bat mixed with Scully's laughter. Mulder thought it was the most beautiful sound in the world.
It had always been a secret fantasy of his, Scully with a baseball bat. Not in some sick, sexual way, although the thought had crossed his mind a few times. Just a simple vision: Scully in jeans and a baseball hat, Louisville Slugger in hand. A simple combination of his two favorite things, Scully and baseball. And although tonight was not exactly the way he had pictured it, he thanked whatever gods may be for allowing him this simple pleasure.
"Mulder, it's after eleven," Scully said, breaking his reverie.
"So?" Mulder replied, swinging the bat they held. The bat met the ball with a crack, and the ball flew into the outfield. "You're getting pretty good at this, Scully. Ever think of trying for the majors?"
She laughed. "Mulder, it's late, and I am sure he needs to be getting home," she said, gesturing to the boy on the pitchers mound.
They hit one more ball before Mulder let go of the bat and walked to the mound. He paid the boy generously, and the boy scurried off.
"Try it by yourself now, Scully," Mulder said, picking up a ball.
"Come on, Scully," Mulder pleaded. "Give it a go. Just a few. Please?"
With a sigh, she got into her batting stance.
"Stick that fine ass of yours out further," Mulder called to her. "And remember to keep your elbows out."
With a wry smile, Scully did as she was told.
"Lookin' good, Scully," he said with a leer. "Makes me wish I had a camera."
"Shut up and pitch, Mulder!" she said with a grin.
He pitched the ball and her bat connected solidly, sending a pop fly into right field. He grinned at her. "Are you sure you've never done this before?"
He pitched her ball after ball, and for every one she missed, she hit two. The only person more surprised that Mulder was Scully herself.
It was well after one in the morning as the two agents walked to their cars, the silence between them companionable. As Scully unlocked her car, she said, "That was a pretty nice present, Mulder. Thank you."
"That's not all of it, though."
She raised an eyebrow. "Really, Mulder, I am impressed. Not only did you remember my birthday-albeit almost two months after the fact-but two gifts. I can die a happy woman now."
"Well, can you put that off until tomorrow night?" he asked, laughing. "I would hate for you to die before you see the rest of your gift."
"What is it, Mulder?"
"You'll see. I'll pick you up at 11:30 tomorrow morning." He opened his car door, but stopped before he got in. "Oh, and wear casual clothes-no suits tomorrow. You don't happen to own a baseball cap, do you?"
She gave him an odd look. "No, why?"
"Just curious," he replied with a shrug. "See you in the morning."
Shaking her head, Scully got into her car and drove home.
Promptly at 11:30, there was a knock on Scully's door. Tugging on her sneakers, she called out, "Come on in, Mulder, it's open!"
He walked in, holding a box in his hands."You're not ready?" He walked over to the couch, where Scully was tying her shoes. Picking up one foot, he put it on his thigh and tied the laces, then did the same with the other. "And you always complain about me being late."
"I wasn't expecting you to be on time, Mulder. It's such a rare occurrence."
He picked up the box, which he had placed on the coffee table, and handed it to her. Suspiciously, she opened it.
"A baseball mitt?"
"Yep. I even oiled it for you."
"And why do I need a baseball mitt?"
He grinned. "You'll see. Let's get going.....we don't want to be late."
"Late? For what?"
"You'll see, Scully."
They drove down the Baltimore-Washington Parkway with the windows open, allowing the early May air to waft through the car. Mulder stole glances at Scully, enjoying this rarely seen side of her. Clad in jeans and a t-shirt, her red hair pulled back, she looked relaxed and happy.
"You look nice today, Scully," he said. "I didn't know you owned jeans, let alone a pair of Nikes."
"Just because you don't see them doesn't mean I don't own them," she replied. "Besides, you rarely have any opportunity to see me in them."
"Guess I'll have to do something to rectify that situation then, won't I?" he grinned over at her.
Smiling to herself, she watched the scenery fly by out her window. When she saw a sign for Oriole Park at Camden Yards, everything fell into place. "A baseball game? Mulder....."
"What, you don't like sporting events?"
"What, fifteen minutes of excitement crammed into three hours of boredom? I'd hardly call that an event."
"Have you ever been to a ball game, Scully?"
She knew she had lost the battle. "No."
"Then how do you know you won't like it? Give it a chance, Scully. Remember, you didn't think you could hit a ball until last night........"
"Okay, okay." She sighed. "But if I hate it-"
"We'll leave at the seventh inning stretch."
He looked at her solemnly. "I promise."
"Enjoy the game," the young man at the ticket turnstile said as they scanned their tickets and walked into the ballpark.
The smell of barbecue and roasted peanuts wafted through the air. Mulder took a deep breath. "Smell that, Scully?"
"Eau de clogged arteries? Yeah, I smell it."
He stopped and looked at her. "Okay, new rule. No talk about how bad any of this stuff is for you, okay? Ball park food is by nature unhealthy, and I plan on enjoying every bite I take today. No lectures, no 'Mulder, your arteries are screaming for mercy', nothing but pure enjoyment."
Scully sighed. "Fine."
"That goes for you, too. You will eat hot dogs and nachos and peanuts and you will enjoy them. Understood? None of this yogurt with bee pollen crap today."
She smiled. "And when we are taken to the hospital for cardiac arrest?"
"The paramedics will be on a first name basis with us." He grinned as she rolled her eyes. "But first things first." He took her by the hand and pulled her over to a souvenir stand.
"If you think I am wearing one of those obnoxious foam fingers, Mulder, you can stick that foam finger where the sun doesn't shine."
"Oh, Scully, come on! The foam finger is an essential part of any sporting event."
She gave him a look.
"Okay, okay, no foam finger. But you will wear a hat."
"Of course." He conferred with the man behind the counter. The man pulled a hat off of a shelf. "Try this one," he said.
With a put-upon sigh, She took her hair down and tried on the hat.
"Lookin' good, Agent Scully," he said. "How does it feel? Too big?"
"No, it's fine."
Mulder paid the man, and they walked toward their gate. As they approached their gate, Mulder covered her eyes.
"Mulder, what are you doing?"
"Now Scully, you just have to trust me on this, okay? I won't let you fall."
Slowly, they made their way to their seats. When Mulder finally uncovered her eyes, Scully gasped. "Mulder, this is beautiful!"
They were seated behind home plate, with a view of the city skyline and the warehouses that lined the Eutaw Street entrance to the park. Scully stared in silence for a moment, then turned to Mulder. "This is beautiful."
He grinned. "I knew you'd think so."
She sat down, still awestruck. "Wow. This really is beautiful." She turned to him. "Why?"
"Why is this a beautiful park? I could give you some architectural reasons-"
"Why did you bring me here?"
He shrugged. "I wanted to share this with you."
Touched, Scully was silent. Unable to speak, she reached out and squeezed Mulder's hand. He smiled in return.
"Ladies and gentlemen, please rise for the National Anthem," the announcer's voice reverberated through the stadium.
Reluctantly, they let go of each other's hands and stood.
By the top of the sixth inning, the Orioles were ahead of the Red Sox by one run. Brady Anderson was up to bat.
"You having fun, Scully?" Mulder asked through a mouthful of hot dog.
"This is so much fun, Mulder," she replied, her own mouth full of pretzel. Swallowing, she took a sip of the beer Mulder had brought her. "Ugh," she said. "You know, this beer is like having sex in a canoe."
"How is that?"
"It's fucking close to water," she replied.
Mulder laughed. "Good one, Scully. I'll have to tell that one to Frohike."
Before Scully could retort, a foul ball came their way.
"Heads up, Scully!" Mulder called. "It's all yours!"
Scully put on her mitt and ran into the aisle, where the ball was headed. With what can only be called beginners luck, the ball landed square in her mitt. She held it over her head triumphantly. "Mulder-look! I caught it!" She was grinning like a kid.
Mulder couldn't help but grin back. A full-fledged, 1000-watt Scully grin was cause for celebration. "Nice play, Agent Scully," he said. "You're ready for the big leagues."
She came back to her seat and sat down, ball still clutched triumphantly in her mitt.
"You know, Scully, some people attend baseball games their entire lives and never manage to catch a fly ball."
"Guess it's beginners luck."
"Thought you didn't believe in luck."
"Well, me catching that ball had nothing to do with skill."
Mulder smiled at her as he opened a bag of sunflower seeds. "I don't know, Scully. I think you sell yourself short sometimes. With some practice, you could be good. Last night you were hitting 'em out of the park, today you catch a foul ball. It may not be skill, but it's not just blind luck, either." He paused and looked over at her. "You should do that more."
She gave him a look like he was insane.
"Do you realize that you hardly smile anymore, Scully? I can count on two hands the times I have seen you smile in the past two or three years."
"It's not like there's been a whole hell of a lot to smile about, Mulder."
"Touche, Scully." He went back to work eating seeds, momentarily silent.
"Why does it matter to you whether or not I smile?" Scully asked. "It doesn't seem like something that would matter to you.....something you'd even notice."
He looked over at her, a small smile on his lips. "You'd be surprised at what I notice about you, Scully."
"Like what?" she asked, a small touch of mirth tinging her voice.
"You are always dressed up. Even on a Saturday, you wear a business suit and those unsensible shoes you like because you think it makes up for your height."
Scully was slightly amused. "Keep going."
"You take your coffee with cream only, and you like your tea with honey and lemon. You don't use that artificial sweetening crap because you know it causes brain cancer, and you eat mainly salads with fat-free Italian dressing but you have been known to sit down and polish off a pint of New York Super Fudge Chunk while watching 'Casablanca'. You have a tennis racket under your bed, but you don't play tennis which leads me to believe that it's quite possible that you were going to take up tennis to impress some guy. You drink Tropicana orange juice, use Tide laundry detergent, and your silverware is Oneida-a gift from your mother. You drink skim milk, and that bottle of strawberry syrup in your refrigerator door says to me that you prefer strawberry milk over chocolate milk, which is surprising given your penchant for cafe mochas. You don't normally eat junk food, but when you do, you like Chee-tohs, double chocolate Milano cookies, and Coke."
Scully was stunned. Maybe he had been paying attention all these years.
"Do you need me to continue," Mulder asked nonchalantly, "or do you believe me now?"
"No, I believe you." She paused. "How did you know about the tennis racket?"
"They don't call me 'Spooky' for nothing, Scully."
"This from the man who can't remember my birthday."
"Hey, all I said was that I am observant. I never claimed to be perfect."
The drive home was uneventful. Scully dozed in the passenger seat, the ball she had caught still clutched in her hands. Her hat was on the floor, and most of her hair had escaped it's ponytail and now fell into her face. Every once and awhile, she would let out a small snore, and it was all Mulder could do to not laugh.
Mulder was pensive as he navigated the BW Parkway, stealing occasional glances at Scully. She had looked so happy today, laughing like a child. That smile she had given him when she triumphantly held up the foul ball she had caught......Mulder had never seen her smile be so radiant. She had been like a different person today, like the Scully he had met on that fateful day when she had walked into his office. Not since that first case had she been so forthcoming with her laughter, and truth be told, Mulder missed it.
Once they had reached her apartment in Georgetown, Mulder shook her gently. "Scully, we're here."
She awoke with a start and looked around. "Oh," she said tiredly.
"Can you make it in alright?" he asked.
"Yeah," she said. After a moment, she said, "Do you want to come up? I can make some coffee."
She nodded. "Yeah. I can't go to sleep yet, anyway. I have some tox reports to go over from our last case." She looked over at him. "Come and keep me company."
How could he say no?
Mulder sat down on Scully's couch while she was busy in the kitchen. "You need help in there, Scully?" he called to her.
"No," she replied. "You want anything to eat?"
He made a face. "How can you think about food now? We just ate our own weight in ball park food."
She popped her head out of the kitchen. "Just thought I would be polite and ask. I never know with you."
She went back into the kitchen, and came out a few minutes later, two steaming mugs in hand. She handed one to him and sat down on the couch.
"I had fun today, Mulder," she said. "More fun than I have had in a long time."
He smiled. "So this means you'd be up for doing this again in say, two weeks?"
She gave him a look. "I knew I sensed an ulterior motive here."
He grabbed his chest as though he had been shot. "Scully, you wound me. How could you think that of me?"
Again, she gave him the look. "Uh-huh."
"So this means you wouldn't be interested in going to see the Orioles-White Sox game in two weeks?"
"I didn't say that."
"So that's a yes?"
Mulder grinned. "Knew I could count on you, Scully."
She smiled as she sipped her coffee. "Glad I can fulfill your expectations of me, Mulder. I can now sleep soundly, content in the knowledge that your expectations have been fulfilled."
"Do I fulfill yours?"
"Oh no, Mulder," she said, setting down her mug. "We are not going there. Not now."
"Because I honestly don't believe you want the answer to that."
"So I don't fulfill your expectations?"
She sighed. "Please, Mulder.......don't do this."
"No, Scully, I want to know."
The tension was palpable. After several moments, she finally said, "You do when you want to."
"What does that mean?"
Scully shifted uncomfortably. "When you want to be, Mulder, you are the best partner anyone could want. I don't know any other agent in the Bureau whose partner would travel around the world to save them. But sometimes, you are the most self-centered, selfish bastard in the world."
"Well.....I think I have been put in my place."
"You're right, I did." He stood up."I think that's my cue to leave."
She grabbed his hand. "Mulder......don't leave angry."
He saw the pleading in her eyes, and sat back down.
"I know you think that you're protecting me, but it sends me the message that you don't trust me. When you ditch me, it says that you don't think I can handle whatever it is you are doing, that I can't be the kind of partner I should be."
"No, that isn't it at all," he replied, squeezing her hand. "I do trust you. I just don't want you to get hurt." He paused. "Scully, you have been hurt too many times because of me, and I don't want it to happen again. That's why I leave you behind....so that I know you'll be here when I return."
She sighed, her face somewhere between a smile and tears. "Mulder......I will always be here. I won't leave you, I promise."
He smiled. "You promise?"
"I swear," she said, reaching up and putting her hand on his cheek.
At that moment, Mulder knew that Scully was sending him a message, giving him an opportunity. She was looking at him with such honesty and openness-a rare moment for her. Ever so slowly, he moved in closer to her, until his lips were touching hers. When she didn't pull away, Mulder knew he had made the right move. No bees this time, no distractions. Just him and Scully and this kiss.
With much reluctance, Mulder finally pulled away. "I had better go."
Scully nodded. "You're right." She got up and walked him to the door. "I'll see you in the morning."
"Yep." He paused at the door. "Bring your sneakers and mitt tomorrow. We'll play a little catch during lunch. "
He kissed her tenderly on the forehead. "Goodnight, Scully."
"G'night, Mulder." She shut the door behind her and leaned back on it, a small smile playing on her lips.
On the other side of the door, Mulder pretended to swing a baseball bat. "Mulder steps up to the plate.........and the pitch.......and it's outta here!"
Thank you ladies and gentlemen, I'll be here all week. Remember to tip your waitress.
Thanks for reading! Hope you enjoyed it.