Unused Morning

The phone rang and Scully tumbled on her side, rolling over an arm and an elbow and muffling face-first into the pillow. The phone rang again.

She reached over to answer it, but no one was on the other line, not even after she'd tried both "Scully" and "Mulder?" as greetings.

The room peeled back before her as she opened her eyes: bolted lamp, bolted clock, bolted television, bolted phone.

It took her a very long time to realize that the familiar tan-and-blue suitcase on the armchair was not her own, and it took her even longer to realize that the phone ringing had been a wake-up call.

She was still in Mulder's room.

And Mulder wasn't there.

Pulling herself to her feet she remembered only vaguely the night before, something brief about a British guy and a food processing system, and then Mulder. Lots of Mulder. Long spaces in her life, stretching back, delineated only by lack and presence of Mulder. Here, this morning, rubbing her eyes with the heels of her hands and letting her feet sink into the carpet, she couldn't remember a time in her life she hadn't known him.

Setting the flip-lock to keep the door propped open, she ricocheted off the jamb and stepped barefoot into the fluorescent hallway.

Like warped mirror image, Mulder appeared from the doorway across the hall.

"Morning, Scully," he said, passing her and backing sideways into his room.

"Uh huh," she said as she crossed and pushed open the door into the room he'd slept in the night before.