Saw this picture on Twitter the other day and immediately began to imagine a college AU. Hope you enjoy this little story. ❤️
Just Tea and a Walk
A knock sounded at the office door just as the knob turned and the door opened.
“Excuse me, Professor Harding?” A woman’s voice said and Fox Mulder’s mouth went dry as his heart began to race. “Oh… hello.” The woman smiled at him and he exhaled a breath through his nose, swallowing hard.
“He’s not here,” he said, clearing his dry throat. “I… uh… he had to leave for the day.”
“Oh,” she said, stepping into the office with a sigh. “I thought he would be here.”
“His wife… there was a thing that came up. Could I help with something?” he asked as he took off his glasses, set them on the desk, and looked at her.
“Oh, I don’t know. I’m in his Tuesday/Thursday morning class. My name is Dana Scully.”
“Yeah, I know,” he blurted out and she raised her eyebrows as his cheeks burned and he shook his head. “I just meant, I know who you are. Being the teaching assistant for the class and all.”
“Right.” She smiled with a nod and then licked her lips. “Maybe it’s better if it’s you than him, that I speak to. I don’t think he likes me much.”
“Why do you say that?” he asked with a frown.
“He rarely calls on me. I… my papers are good, I know they are, but he never gives me more than a B. I work hard on the assignments, I really do. I wanted to talk to him about my grades and what he’s looking for, if what I’m doing isn’t right.”
“Oh. Yeah, I uh…” he said, feeling awkward and uncomfortable.
“You’ve seen it, right?”
“I…” He scratched his cheek and let out a deep breath, knowing it was not his place to say anything, but wanting to explain to her why the professor was harder on her.
“You’re brilliant,” he said quickly and perhaps too loudly, judging by the way she took a step back from him. “Sorry. I… he and I have discussed you-”
“You’ve discussed me?” she asked, taking another step back and glancing at the door.
“Not… please… wait. I’m not… shit,” he muttered and scrubbed a hand across his mouth. “My social skills could be better.”
“Hmm,” she hummed and he smiled slightly as he looked at her.
“You’re incredibly brilliant. Professor Harding saw that right away,” he said and she frowned, no doubt not believing him. “He did. First day of class, when you all walked out, he said as much. Not that I hadn’t noticed, but he affirmed it.”
“Okay,” she said, stepping one step closer. “I… thank you? I don’t see how that correlates to him not calling on me much or grading me harder than the other students.”
“Hmm,” he agreed with a nod. “I told him the same.”
“And? He obviously didn’t listen,” she said, her tone hard.
“He did, in his own way. You have to know him. I… it’s really not my place, but…” He shook his head and let out a breath. “He had a daughter who died when she was only twenty. She had been sick for a couple of years and they thought she would make it, but…”
“Oh, I didn’t know,” Dana said softly and he nodded.
“She was a spitfire- his words- but in the best way possible and he loved her immensely. He said they had spirited conversations from nearly the time she was able to speak, always debating everything: bedtimes, foods to be eaten, subjects in school, everything.”
“And… I don’t understand. What does that have to do with me?”
“You remind him of her,” he said quietly with a soft smile. “He told me you did after the class when you debated with him about public transportation.”
“I was convinced he hated me after that class,” she whispered.
“No,” Fox said with a grin. “He couldn’t stop smiling and said you had to have been brought to him by Chrissy, his daughter. He said she had to have known he needed someone to keep him on his toes.”
“But… I’ve been thinking all this time that he didn’t like me.”
“No. You’re his favorite,” Fox said, remembering of all the conversations he’d had with the professor.
“Oh,” Dana said, letting out a breath and looking down.
She sniffled and he handed her a tissue from the box on the desk. She took it, wiped her eyes and blew her nose, putting the tissue into her pocket.
“I came in here, intent on giving him a piece of my mind. I was going to call him a sexist old man.”
At that, Fox laughed and she raised her head, her eyelashes dark with tears.
“He can be a lot of things, but being sexist isn’t one of them. He grades you harder because he sees your potential. And if you gave you an A on every assignment, people would most likely accuse him of favoritism.”
“But apparently I am his favorite,” she stated with a shake of her head and he grinned.
“You are indeed. And to him, that means he needs to push you more so you advance and achieve your full potential.”
“Now I feel weird,” she said, making a face. “Like I don’t know what to do with this information or this kinetic energy I’m feeling. I feel like I need to move around or something.”
“Have dinner with me,” he said, surprising himself.
“What?” she asked, equally surprised and he shook his head.
“Or a coffee?”
“You want to add caffeine to this mass amount of energy I’m feeling?” she asked, gesturing to her body and he laughed.
“Maybe an herbal tea?”
“That sounds nice,” she said, biting her bottom lip. “Maybe a walk around campus? I need to move, man.” He laughed again as she shook her arms to show him she was serious.
“Okay. A walk and some tea,” he nodded and she let out a deep breath. “I’ll get my coat and we can go.”
He took it from the coat rack and put it on, smiling at her as she continued to shake her hands and let out a hmph occasionally under her breath.
“Ready?” he asked, putting on his glasses and picking up his keys. He opened the office door and looked at her.
“Yeah,” she said, glancing at him and smiling. “Oh. This is okay that we’re doing this, right? Me being a student and all?”
“It’s just tea and a walk around the campus. We’re discussing the class and your papers. That’s acceptable.” He smiled and she smiled back with a nod.
“Just tea and a walk,” she repeated and he hummed as he closed the door and locked it behind them.
“And that’s how it started,” Professor Harding said six years later, grinning as he raised his champagne glass, amid laughter and cheers from the others in the wedding reception hall. “A walk around the campus turned to sharing a meal on a bench a week later and then another stroll around campus. Three weeks later, Fox came to me to say he could no longer be my assistant as he had fallen head over heels in love with Dana and he wanted no repercussions for her or himself. I had known it was coming, of course, being a brilliant man, and I was beyond pleased. And so today, we celebrate how “just tea and a walk” led to this moment. Everyone! Please, raise your glasses to Fox and Dana. Congratulations to you both.”
Everyone echoed his words and Dana laughed as Fox tapped his glass to hers before kissing her softly on the lips.
“Just tea and a walk,” he murmured, kissing her again.
“Mmhmm,” she hummed, smiling as she gently stroked his face.