New Year's Day of 2000, is spent hanging out with the Gunmen. Byers, paying attention in a way the others do not, notices a difference in Mulder and Scully... tagging @fictober-event @today-in-fic @xffictober2021
Fictober Day 24
Word Count: 1880
Prompt: The things you make me do...
Fandom: The X-Files
January 1, 2000
“No freaking way,” Langly said, pulling back from Scully, adjusting his black rimmed glasses. “Zombies? That’s far out.”
“I didn’t say it was zombies,” she said, shaking her head and looking at Mulder.
“And she won’t, but she knows it’s true,” he said, rolling his eyes before making a face and rubbing his right arm. “They were totally zombies and trust me, not as fun as they may appear in movies.”
“Fun?” Scully scoffed, shaking her head. “No, they were not.”
“Could I get some pictures of those bites, Agent Scully?” Byers asked. “They could be beneficial in some research I’m doing.” She stared at him and he smiled, waiting patiently.
“Ohh do it, Scully,” Mulder said with a grin. “You might end up on the front page of the latest edition of The Gunman.”
“My souls aspiration,” she muttered with a shake of her head. “Fine. Whatever.” She looked at Mulder again and sighed. “The things you make me do…”
He smiled at her and Byers blinked, glancing at Frohike and Langly, but neither of them saw what he had.
Or thought he had anyway, no way to know for sure, as the next second Frohike was engaging Mulder in a conversation. Byers watched them until Scully tapped him on the arm and cleared her throat.
“Pictures, Byers,” she said with a sigh, her hand going to her neck and he nodded with a smile.
“Let me get the camera,” he told her, hearing her sigh as he walked away, his mind on Mulder’s smile.
How long had they known him? Many years now, with and without Scully. Mulder had women he discussed during that time. Fellow agents or other women he had met, but no one since he and Scully had become partners.
Before they met her, they had heard of her of course. Mulder complained about her before then changing his tune, slightly anyway, still claiming she was skeptical and unwilling to bend or break. Her disbelief in that which he did believe and hoped to find, annoyed him at times, but he respected and depended on her.
When they had eventually met her, Byers watched and listened. She was intelligent, gave as good as she got with their ribbing, and the way she handled Mulder was something they all spoke of when he had left.
Frohike had gone on about her beauty and her intellect, humming a lot as he shook his head, Langly had commented that he liked her and then left to check on something in the other room. Byers had been left thinking about her and more importantly how Mulder had behaved around her.
He noticed then and he had noticed through the years. Their conversations, discussions, teasing and flirting, big fights and small disagreements, he had seen all of it.
Tonight though… tonight something seemed different and he would keep an eye out to see if he was right.
Picking up the digital camera, he made sure the battery was full before walking back into the room. Mulder, Langly and Frohike were now loudly discussing something and Scully was standing off to the side, her arms crossed as she looked at the ground.
“Okay,” he said, stepping close to Scully and showing her the camera. “Just need a couple photos. Could you uh…” He swallowed and glanced at Mulder, who was not paying them any attention as he was laughing with the other two.
“What do you need me to do?” she asked softly and he looked at her, a small smile on her face, one that gave him pause.
“Uh… just uh, hold your collar out and tilt your head to the side.”
“Hmm,” she hummed, doing as he asked, and he snapped a few pictures.
“It’s truly remarkable,” he said, looking through the pictures on the camera. “Zombies… I never thought I’d see or hear they were real.”
“Well, I…” She sighed and he looked at her.
“You really don’t believe it? Even after those?” He tilted his head to her neck and she reached a hand to touch the marks on her neck.
“All I really know is that they are uncomfortable and they itch like a son of a bitch.” She hummed out a groan as she forced her hand away, shaking her head and closing her eyes briefly.
“So, who’s up for poker and vodka shots?” Frohike called out.
“Poker, yes. No drinking for me,” Mulder said, pointing to his slinged arm. “Still on the painkillers.”
“And they make him loopy enough,” Scully said, coming to stand beside him. “Seriously, he’s something else when he’s on them.”
“What do they have you on? They sound good,” Frohike said with a whistle. “If you don’t take them all…”
“I’ll make sure you get them,” Mulder said and Scully looked from one to the other, shaking her head as she walked past them to sit down at the table. Byers put the camera into his jacket pocket and joined her.
A couple of hours later, all of them, save for Mulder, became louder as the bottle of vodka became emptier. Scully’s cheeks were flushed as she reached forward to slide the chips she had won closer to her.
“Oh, it feels good to be the winner,” she proclaimed, stacking the chips by color as she giggled.
“I’ll be having those back the next hand,” Frohike said, pointing his finger rather unsteadily at the growing pile in front of her.
“Psshh, you wish. These are mine.” She held up a green one, squinting at it as she did. “I think this is yours. I’m keeping this one specifically.”
“Shuffle the cards, hippie. I have chips to win back.”
“You won’t,” she said with a laugh, keeping a hold of the green chip and taking another shot.
Byers laughed, glancing up as he was dealt his cards. About to say something, he held his words as he watched the look on Mulder’s face as he stared at Scully.
Again it was different, the way he was gazing at her. Yes, he was the only sober one among them, but there was something in it that made Byers aware that something had changed. His eyes were softer, dropping to her lips, before looking back at her face.
Having recently had his own heart broken, knowing how it felt to love someone, he believed he had an advantage over his closest friends, seeing what they did not.
Though he knew it had to have happened before now, after all Mulder and Scully had been through together, he knew for absolute certainty tonight.
Mulder was in love with Scully.
Byers stopped drinking, wanting a clearer head to observe them as they played a few more hands. When Mulder had lost all of his chips, he shook his head and pushed back from the table, miming washing his hands of the whole thing.
“I’m out, fellas,” he said and Scully looked at him, her eyebrows raised. “And lady.” He nodded at her with a smile and she nodded back, looking down at her cards.
One by one, they ran out of chips until it was down to just Scully and Frohike. Both stubborn, neither showing any expression or giving away a tell, Langly dealt the cards and they all waited. Scully stared at her cards, then at Frohike.
“Two,” she said, setting down her two she wanted replaced, then tossing some chips into the pot.
“Three,” Frohike said, mimicking her actions.
Langly gave them their cards and again they placed their bets, asking once more for replacement cards: two for Scully and one for Frohike.
She stared at her cards, then at his smaller pile of chips, before placing her cards on the table and pushing all of her chips into the center of the table.
“All in,” she said, lacing her fingers and resting her chin on top of them.
“Damn straight. All in.” Frohike said, pushing his own chips in and staring her down. “Show me yours and I’ll show you mine.”
“You couldn’t handle it, old man. But I’ll show you what you can.” Amid laughter and guffawing, she turned over her cards, revealing a straight flush, eight to the queen of hearts.
“Ohhhh,” the others said, looking at Frohike
“What’ve you got that’s better?” Langly asked and Frohike let out a deep breath.
“Fuck…” he muttered, turning his cards over and showing a full house, tens over jacks.
“Oh yeah,” Scully shouted, leaning forward to pull all the chips towards herself. “Turns out you didn’t win that chip back. You lost.”
“Yeah yeah,” Frohike growled, reaching for the near empty bottle of vodka and chugging the remains.
Congratulations were given and Scully reached her hand out to shake Frohike’s. He took it begrudgingly and she laughed. Standing up somewhat unsteadily, she looked at Mulder and smiled. Byers watched him smile back and his suspicions once again confirmed.
“I think it’s time we get going,” Mulder said, reaching a hand to grasp Scully’s elbow and guide her to him.
“Yeah. Gotta quit while I’m the winner. Chalk it up, boys. There’s a new champion in town.” She pointed to herself, giggling as she did.
“Next time you won’t be so lucky,” Frohike said and she scoffed.
“Keep telling yourself that. I’ve got zombie powers now, you don’t stand a chance.”
“Sure, now she admits it was zombies,” Mulder teased.
They all laughed and made their way out of the kitchen saying their goodbyes and happy New Years. Langly went off to check something and Frohike went to his room to lie down, which left Byers to walk them out and lock up when they left.
He opened the door for them, and they walked through it with Mulder’s hand on her back, steadying her as she giggled a goodbye. Byers smiled as he closed the door, locking the locks and watching them on the video screen. Just before they got out of view of the camera, she stopped and turned to Mulder, staring up at him with a smile.
Byers stepped closer to the screen and watched, waiting as he held his breath.
She took a hold of his sling, tugging gently and pulling him toward her. He smiled as he bent his head and they kissed. His hand went to her waist and her arm slid around his neck as the kiss deepened and Byers grinned.
They pulled apart, kissing once more, and she smiled again. Taking his arm, they walked out of the camera's shot and Byers laughed quietly.
No wonder she had won the poker game tonight and Mulder had been the first one out. His emotions were written all over his face and she… well, until that moment, he had no idea if she felt the same as Mulder.
But then, she smiled and he knew. It was not the kiss, although that cemented it for sure, but her smile that gave her away. The smile that was as lovestruck as Mulder’s, kept back and only for him.
“Good for them,” he said quietly, locking the last lock and sighing as he thought of Susanne, hoping wherever she was out in the world, that she was safe and someday he would see her again.
69 notes · View notes