Subtext: Tooms

TITLE: Subtext 06: Extra Bases
SPOILER STATEMENT: "Tooms"; small ones for "Ice"
RATING: PG
CONTENT STATEMENT: M/S UST. A few bad words.
CLASSIFICATION: V
SUMMARY: Missing scene from "Tooms"
THANKS: To Brynna, Paulette and Sharon, for beta chores.

Subtext 06: Extra Bases

by Brandon D. Ray

I can't believe this stupid radio will only pick up two stations. It was working fine this afternoon, but now the tuner knob seems to be broken, leaving me the choice of the last FM station it was set to, which happens at this moment to be playing Old Time Gospel Radio Hour, and the aforementioned 790 AM with the Pete Rose talk radio program.

Evangelical religion or sports? What a choice. Like there's really that much difference between the two ....

I finally decide on the talk show as the lesser of two evils, and settle back to wait and watch.

Unfortunately, I don't really know what I'm supposed to be watching for. Mulder is convinced that Eugene Tooms is a serial killer with a career stretching back to the turn of the century. Which is absurd, of course, and I've told him that repeatedly. Nevertheless, here I am, participating in an unauthorized stakeout in violation of Bureau policy. And I'm wondering just how I came to be here.

"Mulder, I wouldn't put myself on the line for anybody but you."

I've been mulling over those words ever since I said them. There is no doubt in my mind that they're true, even though I hadn't thought about my ... partnership with Mulder in that way until that very moment. But the words just seemed to come bubbling out from nowhere, seeming so tangible and significant that I could almost *see* them hanging in the air between us.

Mulder, of course, had to up the ante. Even in the short time I've known him I've come to recognize him as a risk taker, and so I shouldn't have been surprised when he replied, "If there's an iced tea in that bag, it could be love."

Love. God. I don't think either of us has ever spoken that word to the other -- certainly not in a personal context, and most assuredly not since the trip to Icy Cape. But there it was; he'd said the word and I had to respond somehow. In any other situation -- if we didn't have this damned history dragging us down -- it would have been a harmless comment, one I would have been free to interpret as a joke, and then move on.

But we do have that history, and there's no use in trying to deny it. Which means I have to consider the very strong possibility that Mulder was trying to send me some sort of message when he said that word. What that message could be -- other than the obvious, which I'm really not ready to deal with -- I'm not quite sure. But there must be some meaning there, because another thing I've learned about Fox Mulder is that he never says or does anything without there being some purpose behind it.

A small part of me can't help but wonder what would have happened if it *had* been an iced tea in the bag -- but then I push the thought away. People don't actually make life-altering decisions based on things like that. Certainly *I* do not. If there had been an iced tea in the bag, I could have found some way around it, some way to laugh it off or otherwise deflect the issue.

Just as I could have found some way to take Mulder up on what may have been a semi-serious overture, if that's what I had wanted to do. Despite the root beer.

Dammit, how did we get to this point so quickly? It was only a few weeks ago that we were barely speaking to each other, barely tolerating each other's presence. Granted it was due to a misunderstanding, but still -- those walls we'd built up around ourselves after we slept together have come tumbling down so terribly, terribly fast. It's been breathtaking, and more than a little frightening.

My attention is abruptly drawn back to the radio. Pete Rose has been chattering away with his callers, talking about the baseball strike, arguing about whose fault it is, speculating about whether the Blue Jays will win it all again this year once the season finally gets underway, and so on. I'd basically tuned it out; I only have the damned radio on in the first place for background noise. But something has attracted my attention; something has made me start listening for real ....

"I don't know if it's fair to place all the blame on the players," the caller is saying. "I mean, when you stop and think about it, the owners are making a hell of a lot of money off the game. Don't the players deserve a cut of that? Without them there wouldn't *be* any baseball."

There's something familiar about the man's voice, but for a minute I can't quite place it -- and then I have it.

Mulder. It has to be.

I shake my head in disbelief, and I can't help but wonder if he told me to listen to this station specifically because he intended to call in tonight. If so, it's just plain dumb luck that the tuner on my radio is broken, because otherwise there's no way I'd have this program on. Now I just have to figure out *why* he wanted me to listen.

Because Fox Mulder never says or does anything without there being some purpose behind it.

I turn my attention back to the radio. Mulder and Rose have finished dissecting the strike, and for a second I think maybe the call is over. But no, Mulder apparently has something else on his mind.

"Pete, can I ask you a question?" he says -- and if I wasn't sure before, I am now. That is definitely Fox Mulder's voice.

"Sure, Bill, go ahead," Rose replies easily. Bill. Funny. I guess Mulder really *doesn't* like his first name. I'd thought at the time he was just putting me on, maybe trying to push me away. But apparently he was telling me the truth.

"How do you know when it's time to take a chance?" Mulder asks. "I mean, when you're out there on the base paths, maybe you've just hit one to deep right. How do you know when to take a chance, and try to stretch it for extra bases? Instead of playing it safe and settling for the single?"

Rose chuckles. "I guess it's just something you get an instinct for after awhile," he says. "Of course you pay attention to the first base coach; he may have a better view of the situation than you do. But the bottom line is instinct. You just have to know in your gut that it's time to take a chance and go for that extra base. It's not really a conscious decision at all; there isn't time for that. It's instinct."

"Instinct," Mulder says doubtfully -- and I can almost *see* his brow wrinkling in concentration. "Okay, I guess I can see that. But still -- you make mistakes sometimes, right? Sometimes you take that chance and you try to stretch that hit, and you get caught. Right?"

"Of course," Rose replies. "That's part of the game. You think you can do it, and the other guy thinks you can't, and you both do the best you can. And if you're better than he is -- if your *judgment* is better than his is -- then you come out on top."

"So you just go for it?" Mulder asks.

"That's right," Rose says. "You just go for it. And if you screw up -- well, that's part of the game, too. That's part of life. But you don't let it get you down; you try to learn from the mistake, and you try to do better next time."

"One last question, Pete?"

"Sure. But make it quick; we have to go to a commercial in a few seconds. Gotta pay those bills, you know."

"Okay," Mulder replies -- and now he sounds *nervous*. I don't think I've ever heard Mulder sound this nervous before -- and it suddenly dawns on me that this isn't about baseball at all. It's about us -- about Mulder and me, and our partnership. Our *relationship*, whatever the hell it may be at this particular moment. Why Mulder has chosen this venue to talk to me I have no clue, but that's exactly what he's doing. And now he's speaking again ....

"Pete," he says -- and no, I have *never* heard my partner sound this diffident. Not even that horrible morning after we slept together; not even then. "Pete, which do you prefer?" he continues. "All other things being equal would you rather take a chance, or play it safe? Would you rather try for the extra base, or settle for the single?"

I reach out hastily and turn off the radio. I don't need to know what Pete Rose thinks about that, and I think I already know Mulder's answer -- he is the risk taker in this relationship, after all.

Which leaves me needing to figure out what *I* think. Do I want to try for the extra base? Or settle for the single?

I can see this is going to be a long night.

Fini

Title: Subtext 06 Leaps of Faith
Author: Trixie
Spoilers: Ice, Lazarus, Tooms . . .
Classification: V, touch of UST
Rating: PG
Summary: Post-Ep for Tooms
Disclaimer: Sure; fine; whatever.

~

Contrary to popular opinion, I really am such an idiot.

I don't know what else you'd call me. I've spent the last few months bemoaning the state of my relationship with my partner; I've whined, I've raged, on occasion I've even pouted. Things were tense between us; she refused to acknowledge what happened after we got back from Icy Cape. Then finally - =finally= - we begin to break down our collective walls. Hers mine and ours cracked and crumbled until we could see each other over the rubble.

And what do I do? Me, the genius, the Oxford educated profiler and student of human relations' balks when she tries to call me by my first name.

Smooth move, Ex-Lax.

Sighing, I carefully navigate my Bureau issued automobile through DC traffic; it's the middle of the night; do you know where your liver-eating mutant is? That's my excuse; what are the rest of these people doing up at this time of night?

Maybe there are children going to visit their parents in the hospital; lovers meeting for a tryst somewhere they aren't likely to be discovered. People who went to a midnight showing down at the theater around the corner from my apartment. I always mean to go in there some Saturday night when I have nothing to do. The problem is, I never seem to have a free Saturday night. The work consumes me and it's begun to consume Scully, as well.

I have my rare moments when I think that maybe I should feel some guilt over her obvious loyalty toward me. But more often, there is the overwhelming feeling of gratitude towards her. I've never really had someone on my side before; someone I knew would stick up for me, no matter what anyone else said. And more and more each day, I'm beginning to trust that Scully will always be there, by my side. Even my more pessimistic nature has to admit she doesn't seem to have any inclination to leave.

This, of course, does nothing to assuage my neurosis; they're still convinced I'll come into work one morning and find a note taped to my office door that reads 'it's been real, but I've been promoted to head of Forensic Pathology, try not to get yourself killed, Scully'.

Or you know, something like that.

As I'm stopped at the fifth red light in five minutes, I allow myself to think about what happened.

Why couldn't I let her call me Fox?

My entire being had snapped to attention when she spoke my first name out loud. Something had recoiled and rebelled at the notion and I couldn't possibly move fast enough to correct her. Maybe it was because I couldn't handle it; couldn't handle an intimate relationship with a woman who's made it abundantly clear her devotion doesn't extend beyond the professional. Which isn't being fair to Scully. She just doesn't want to have sex with me. That's fair, I guess; I can't be the easiest guy in the world to work with; the thought of taking me home at night must be downright daunting.

Maybe I should stop psychoanalyzing and stick with the fact that I =really= don't like my first name and she's the only person on this earth who I know would actually respect my wishes.

And I'll be damned if something inside me doesn't keep whispering that Scully doesn't become daunted so easily . . .

Scully made a leap of faith toward me tonight and I rejected it one minute, then returned her parry with a thrusting leap of faith all my own, another. Does that make me a jerk or fiercely brave?

I wonder if she's actually listening to the radio; if she's actually taking me up on my suggestion. I planted a seed with her as I left; the way she pulled out that root beer; her comment about fate; it caused an idea to take root in my brain. The fact that she made me go home just cemented the notion. She's not listening; there's really no reason to put myself through it.

But what if she is, a little voice whispers to me. What if she knows you well enough to know there's always a method to your madness; what if by =not= going through with it, you screw everything up? Besides, it's not like you're getting home any time soon; the damn traffic will see to that. I eye my cell phone in the seat beside me; tempting. And even if she =isn't= listening . . .

Jesus has it really been three days since I last slept? I glance at the date on my watch and cringe. She was right to send me home; I need to shut down for awhile. It's just hard for me to rest while Tooms is still out there. Some unsuspecting soul with a healthy liver is in a lot of danger and it's up to Scully and I to protect that person; no one else is going to do it apparently. No one else believes me . . .

Woah; maybe I should deprive myself of sleep more often. Because I just had the most amazing, tremendous, fascinating epiphany.

Scully believes me.

She actually believes something I do. She's sitting in a cold car in the middle of the night after I just rejected . . . something from her, waiting for a liver-eating mutant to show because =she= believes =me=. Yet another leap of faith on her part.

If that doesn't give a guy a buzz, nothing will.

What to do with this new information? How to assimilate it, to blend it with the facts I already have? Scully is rigid; she strictly adheres to her science and her rationalism. However, Scully also has faith in one of the most insubstantial, implausible things in existence: God. Scully believes in the existence of a benevolent God, without question. Her faith is as strong as mine in my search for Samantha.

Maybe it's simpler than that though; maybe it isn't that she believes me so much as she believes =in= me. Jesus, can I actually allow myself to consider this most extreme of possibilities? No one has ever believed in me; ever.

I'm just tired, that's all. I smack the radio and I wince as something called Old Time Gospel Radio Hour plays. I try to change the station, but it refuses to budge. Groaning in agony, I smack the radio off with a resounding slap of my hand. I hadn't realized I have a headache until it got worse. I need to sleep; I'll feel much better once I've crashed on my couch for a day or two. Maybe there's something good on TV; an old B-Science Fiction perhaps . . .

My hand moves to the radio without conscious thought on my part. I turn it to Pete Rose's Late Night Sports Talk Radio Show and listen. He's talking about the strike; blaming the players. I can use this; I can work this. All I have to do is call . . .

All I have to do is give her one more leap of faith.

I'm dialing before I can talk myself out of it. It's ringing and I'm on hold. I explain my opinion to the nice woman screening calls and am informed she'll put me through to Pete; Woo-hoo.

"Hello Caller, what's your name?" Pete's voice echoes in my ear and on my radio.

"Bill," I answer as I turn past that old theater by my apartment; it has a little extra charm tonight for some reason. Maybe it's fate, maybe it's love, maybe it's faith; maybe it's a combination of the three.

I wonder if Scully likes to go to midnight shows.

~

END

~

When the ninth person in a day asked me 'Do you have a webpage?' I decided to stop fighting City Hall - but I will never stop fighting the future! (Yea, yea, I know, I know, adoration/obsession, fine line, yadda, yadda, yadda . . . )