Title: Danger, Without and Within
Author: shannono
Category: Vignette, Scully angst, Mulder/Scully UST
Rated: PG
Spoilers: series through "Detour"
Disclaimer: All "X-Files" elements and references in this story belong to Fox Broadcasting, Chris Carter, and 1013 Productions, and I am making no money from it.

Summary: Scully's thoughts as she guards an injured Mulder in the Florida woods.

Dana Scully's eyes darted around the small clearing again and again, searching for but not finding the danger she felt so near. Rationally, she knew the forest threatened with wild animals on the hunt, but her intuition warned of a greater, unclassified danger. For one of the few times in her life, she trusted that feeling. After what she had seen, how could she not?

She looked down and felt her breath catch again at the sight of the injured man curled up with his head in her lap. Her partner and best friend, Fox Mulder, had fought the creature -- or one of the creatures -- inhabiting these woods, leaving Scully to nurse his wounds and protect him through the night.

Scully half-smiled as she lifted her head and continued her watch. Despite their precarious situation, she rather enjoyed the idea of protecting Mulder, of being the strong one. It had happened before, of course; they had been through so many threats together during the past few years. But somehow it always seems to be Mulder coming to her rescue when she needed him, the only exception being Duane Barry -- a failure Mulder never seemed to be able to forgive himself for, though Scully had never held him responsible.

Sure, Scully had gotten some chances to rescue Mulder. She'd covered him in plenty of confrontations; shot various people (and creatures) off his back; even saved him from himself, more than once. But what she had done seemed insigificant; it was all part of her job. What he had done for her seemed to go much deeper.

Scully sighed as she shifted her position slightly, wrapping her arm more securely around Mulder. Yes, this was definitely a feeling she enjoyed immensely, although her joy was somewhat hollow. She loved Mulder with her whole being; she had long ago admitted that to herself. But the danger of admitting it to anyone else, much less Mulder himself, held her tongue -- and her heart. Her intuition told her he loved her, too, but her rational nature wouldn't yet let her trust that feeling.

Scully's mind drifted back to a conversation she had with her sister not long before her death. Scully had shown Missy the computer chip just removed from the back of her neck, telling her she had no memory of it being put there. Missy had encouraged her to try hypnosis to regain those memories, then told her, "You've lost touch with your intuition."

Scully's eyes softened as she remember her sister's belief in all things spiritual, a polar opposite from Scully's own scientific approach to life. But in that case, at least, Missy had been right. While the hypnosis did little to restore Scully's memory, it did open her to the message Mulder sent, in a dream, telling her he was alive and warning her she was in danger.

Scully glanced down at the sleeping Mulder, then returned to her vigil and her thoughts. Yes, she and her partner shared a bond that went beyond work or even friendship. The question was, just how far did it go?

It was possible, Scully knew, to love someone without being in love with them. Even her rational mind had accepted that she loved Mulder and thought he must love her, because they exhibited all the classic signs: trying to learn everything about one another, wanting to spend more and more time together, putting the other's welfare above their own.

But being "in love"? That was a leap of faith going beyond the rational, and Scully wasn't sure she was ready for that. Heck, Mulder the Believer wasn't even ready to take that leap, or he would have done it by now. Hadn't she taken a step earlier today, showing up in his hotel room with a tray of wine and cheese? Mulder was surprised, pleasantly, by her breach of protocol, that much was certain. But he couldn't seem to warm to the possibilities the situation presented. Instead, he cracked jokes to lighten the atmosphere, then shot out of the room on a pretense of the case.

Another soft sigh escaped Scully's lips. The case -- that would always be the wall, she thought. For they were first and foremost FBI agents in search of the truth, and that search still came first. Scully and Mulder could love each other, but any move to act on those feelings would threaten the search, their careers, even their lives. And neither of them was ready for that risk, she knew.

She looked at Mulder again, then froze as he shifted in his fitful sleep. He settled back down, then let out a sigh, followed by one unmistakable word: "Dana ..."

Scully's jaw dropped in shock -- not just that he would say her name in his sleep, but that he would use her *first* name. She was seized with a sudden, burning desire to know exactly what he was dreaming, but she fought the urge to wake him and ask. Not that he would tell her, anyway, but even if he did, this was not the time or place.

Scully took several deep, calming breaths as her pounding heart slowed back to a relatively normal pace, then resumed her surveillance of the surrounding woods. Not now, she thought. But soon ...


The End

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