Angst on a Shoestring:
What a Difference a Day Makes

by Susan P.
  Fandom: X-Files      Pairing: Scully/Ginger (ofc)  
  Rating, etc.: 13+, language, mild angst  
  Spoilers: General spoilers for seasons 4 and 5.  
  Summary: Set the evening after AoaS: In-Between Time. Scully gets a phone call, and suddenly things don't look quite as bad as the night before.  
  Author's Notes: Another in the Angst on a Shoestring series.  This installment is the latest in the timeline for the series thus far.  
  Disclaimers: Ginger is MINE, allll mine...  (Tom and Jeff, too.)  Scully, unfortunately, is not.  She belongs to Carter, 1013, Fox, et al.  But I don't think they'll ever let the poor dear have a life, so I'm giving it a shot.  
  Permission to Archive: Passion and Perfection, ScullySlash Archive. ShatterStorm Productions   Anyone else, please ask first.  


Scully slammed the door to her apartment, made the few steps over to the nearby table, dropped her keys on it and her briefcase on the floor. She half shrugged out of her jacket on her way to the kitchen, put her take-out on the counter and continued stripping off the jacket as she headed for the bedroom.

She hung the jacket in her closet and gratefully slipped out of her heels--not that she'd done much walking today. Her work day had been spent catching up on paperwork. Eight. Long. Hours. In the office with Mulder.

She collapsed on the bed and couldn't resist the temptation to lie down and rest her tired, aching eyes, just for a moment. She blew out a long breath. "I'll have to apologize to Mulder tomorrow."

It wasn't his fault, really. Mulder was just being...Mulder. She was the one who was 'off.' The long, mostly sleepless night the night before, the dream, and her general frustrations about Ginger had gotten to her. She'd made it to work on time, but looking as haggard and listless as she felt. Mulder had noticed and asked. No smartass comments, just a simple, "You okay, Scully?"

It wasn't the question so much as the look on his face. She'd seen that look, or one like it, so many times since the cancer. Before her remission, it was mostly fear, and sympathy, and guilt. Now, it was more fear than anything else--the irrepressible dread of a relapse that was brought to the fore whenever she showed any signs of illness or fatigue. She didn't blame him for it, really; she still sometimes worried whether the 'cure' could really be trusted. But seeing that look on his face just made her think of things she didn't want to think about.

Answering his question honestly would just make her think of other things she didn't want to think about, especially after the night she'd had. Never mind all the other reasons the thought of discussing the situation with Mulder made her uncomfortable.

So, she had all but bitten Mulder's head off that morning. The hurt in his eyes had almost been enough to make her take it all back then and there, but she had been in no mood for their usual banter, and a wounded Mulder was a quiet Mulder. It was easier, in the short term, to postpone the apology in the hopes of getting a little peace and quiet. It had worked. They'd managed to work through the majority of their backlogged paperwork in the course of the day.

She pushed herself off the bed, not wanting to sleep just yet. She poured herself a glass of wine and was about to dig into her Chef's salad when she noticed the blinking light on her machine: one message. She casually punched the button on her way to the couch with her dinner. The voice on the recording made her stop cold, just for a moment. She set the take-out container and her glass down so she could concentrate more fully on Ginger's voice:

"Good morning, Day! I had a dream about you last night--nothing bad, don't worry. I just took it as a sign I should call you. It's been awhile... How are you? Anyway, call me when you can, okay? I have news... Love you. Bye."

Scully played the message again, and once more, letting the voice flow over her frayed nerves. All her emotional contortions last night, the resulting insomnia, her foul mood today--all of it was washed away by the tide of contentment she felt just from hearing the smile in Ginger's voice. 

She reached for the phone before realizing what day it was. She checked the time. Ginger had a group session tonight; she wouldn't be home for another hour or so. Scully allowed her finger to hover over the button that would delete the message, but she couldn't make herself press it. She probably wouldn't do so for a few days yet, when it finally seemed too silly to keep it. 

She took her time over dinner, then changed into her dark blue satin pjs and settled back into the couch with another glass of wine and the phone. She tried reading a little to pass the time, but gave it up when she caught herself dozing. She tried the television, but wound up doing little more than channel surfing, so she just gave up and turned the set off. She checked the time, eyed the phone, looked back and forth once more, then decided to give in and make the call.

She tried to shake off her disappointment when she heard Ginger's answering machine pick up. She could always try later, after all. After the beep, she started to leave a message, "Hi, Ginj, it's Dana. Well, it looks like we missed each other again--"

She was cut off as she heard a click on the other end and Ginger's breathless voice, "Hang on, hang on. Don't hang up, Day..." It was followed by the sound of the machine being turned off, and then the minor crash of the phone clattering against something, and then, "Shit!"

Scully fought the urge to laugh, and just held on until she heard Ginger's exasperated, "Hey, Day. Sorry for abusing your ear-drums..."

"Problems, Ginj?"

"Well, it was either drop the phone or lose the towel and flash the neighbor across the alley. I just got out of the shower."

Scully laughed. "Well, that would be one way to make a new friend."

"Ha! He's probably gay, I doubt he'd appreciate the view."

Scully found that hard to imagine. She was having a hard time fighting off the image of Ginger--in her bedroom, wet, and wrapped only in a towel. It was becoming very distracting. 

"Look, Ginger, why don't you just get dressed and then call me back?"

"Oh, nonono. I'm not really in any hurry to get ready, anyway..."

"Get ready for what? Are you going out tonight?"

Ginger sighed. "Yeah. But I'm not really sure why. Except that Tom and Jeff threatened to drag me out of the apartment bodily if I didn't agree to meet them at the bar."

"And you don't want to go?"

"Well, yes and no. You know I have a weird reaction to the bars anyway. On the one hand, it's good to be out among 'my own kind,' but half the time I wind up leaving there feeling more alone than I did when I walked in." 

"But Tom and Jeff will be there tonight."

"Yeah, and I do love hanging out with the boys. Trouble is, I'm afraid they're trying to set me up."

Something in Scully's chest constricted. "What do you mean--set up how?"

"Well, Ms. Tom is convinced that I, as he puts it, 'need to get laid.' Though he put it much more colorfully."

Scully laughed, remembering the times she had spent with Ginger and her friends. "Oh, I can imagine." She hesitated a minute, not sure she was prepared for the discussion that might result from her question. That was what decided it for her, because it wasn't about her. It was about Ginger. "So, do you?"

"Do I what?"

"...need to get laid?"

Ginger chuckled. "Well, it wouldn't kill me, I'm sure. But if sex were all I wanted, I'm sure I could manage without Tom's help." The voice on the other end of the line turned serious, "I want more, though. And it's not like I haven't been dating at all... I have. A little...every once in awhile. There just hasn't been anything serious yet." Scully heard Ginger's heavy sigh and could picture the other woman running her fingers through her hair, the way she often did when she was nervous or upset. "I don't know, Day. I'm not even sure what it is I'm looking for. I only know I haven't found it."

Scully let the silence on the other end stretch out. She had no simple answers to offer her friend. She'd only just begun to figure out some of her own answers, and she had no way of knowing if she could be anything more to Ginger than a source of support, a sympathetic ear and a shoulder to cry on, when necessary.

Finally, Ginger spoke again. "Maybe it's me, Day. Maybe I don't have the heart to take the chance again."

"I don't believe that for a second. Maybe you just need more time. Maybe something will sneak up on you when you least expect it. But when the time comes, Ginger... Your heart. Your courage. They'll be there. And you'll jump in with both feet, like you always do."

"Thank you, Dana. At least you can believe that."

"I do believe it, Ginj, and I'll keep reminding you until you believe it again."

"Damn it, woman, you're gonna make me cry if you don't stop that."

They both shared a brief chuckle over that, releasing the tension a little. Then they fell silent, neither quite knowing what to say next.

"Saved by the bell," Ginger mumbled, "Hang on Day, someone's at the door."

The next thing Scully heard was: "See, Jeff. What. Did. I tell you? Guurl, why are you not ready?"

"I was getting ready, but then Dana called and... HEY!"

"You will get this phone back when you are dressed, young lady! Now, scoot." Tom was doing a frightening impression of meddling mothers everywhere, causing Scully to shake with silent laughter. 

"All right, all right. And I am older than you, bubba!" Ginger's reply was part frustration, part amusement.

"A mere technicality, girl. Now, go. And put on those black jeans and that fuck-me-red silk shirt of yours!" And then Tom addressed her, "Hello, Miss Dana. How are you doing?"

Scully did laugh then. "I'm fine, Tom. How are you?"

"I'm doin' good, girl."

In the background, Scully heard, "Tell her I said, Hi."

"Jeff says Hellooo," Tom relayed.

"I heard. Tell him I said, 'Hello.'"

In the background, she heard Tom's, "She said, 'Hello to you too, you big stud,'" and Jeff's answering laughter.

Then Tom addressed her again. "Miss Dana, you're going to have to help me convince 'Our Lady of Perpetual Virtue' here to let someone else dip their fingers in the honey-pot, FOR A CHANGE." It was obvious he'd shouted that last bit for Ginger's benefit, and she heard her friend's exasperated, "TOM!" in the background.

Scully fought the urge to laugh at the interplay between them. Ginger and Tom could squabble like siblings sometimes, but the love between them was genuine.

Scully had learned to expect that kind of sexual innuendo from Tom by now, but she couldn't hold back a sarcastic reply. "Gee, Tom. Who knew you were such a 'romantic?'"

"Well, you know me, honey. I tell it like it is."

Scully turned serious again. "Go easy on her, Tom. She went through a lot with Carol. Maybe she just needs a little more time."

"Dana, you and I know both know how hard losing Carol was for her--we both helped get her through it. But it's been almost three years! That's long enough to mourn anybody, and Miss Carol would be the first one to tell her to get her ass back out there."

"She would. You're right."

"Time is a luxury and a gift. The friends we've lost...the patients she's lost... She should know that as well as I do, by now. She should be out enjoying life, but she just gets all wrapped up in her work and doesn't take the time to just have fun and enjoy herself. You know?"

Scully blew out a breath, trying to fight the feeling that Tom was talking about her life, not Ginger's. She was guilty of the same thing herself.

"I know, Tom. I know." Too bad it was easier to admit her problem than fix it.

Tom shifted back into teasing mode; it was what he did best. "Miss Dana, you sound like you could use a little fun yourself. Are you sure you don't wanna 'switch teams' and give our girl some tender, loving care?"

"Tom, are you sure you know exactly which 'team' I'm on?" The words were out of her mouth before she even realized it, but she found she wasn't really sorry she'd said it. It was the first time she'd tried to verbalize what was going on within her. It felt good, and it sounded right.

"Oooh! Well, I thought I knew, but maybe I need to re-think that.... You wanna give me some details, honey? Names? Dates? Pictures or video of you and some lovely lady 'doin' the Do?'"

"Damn it, Tom!" Ginger's voice called out. "Give me that phone!"

"Uh-oh, Miss Thing here is pissed. Well, I've gotta go Dana, so we'll have to continue this discussion later... You have a good night now, honey."

Scully laughed. "You guys have fun tonight, Tom. Bye."

"Bye, girl. And, Ginger, I said the red silk shirt."

"Yeah, well I'm wearing the black. Get over it. Now, would you please give me some privacy so I can finish my conversation?" Ginger sounded annoyed, "I'll be out in a minute." Then Scully heard a door slam.

Ginger sighed, "I'm sorry, Day. I'd apologize for him, but you know how he is..."

"Ginger, you don't have to apologize for him. Tom wouldn't act like that with me if he didn't like me. And I'm not offended. Honestly."

"Yeah, but he shouldn't be teasing you about stuff like that. It's not..."

It's not what? Scully wondered, but Ginger didn't finish the sentence.

"Ginj, I was playing right along with him, really. Besides, I appreciate the fact that he and Jeff adopted me into their circle just because I'm someone you care about."

"It's not just because of me, Day. They really like you. And you've done exactly the same thing with them."

"Well, I like them, too. You know, Ginj, I should probably let you go before Tom starts getting restless."

"Oh, Tom can wait. Besides, I still haven't told you my news."

"Oh, that's right! What is it?"

"The APA is having its annual conference in D.C. this year. I probably would have gone anyway, but I just found out today that they want me to present my paper on my work with support groups for people with HIV and AIDS. It's in the middle of June. So, if you and Mulder aren't off chasing some obscure something-or-other, maybe we can spend some time together while I'm there?"

"That sounds wonderful, Ginj! E-mail or call me with the details as soon as you know them, and I'll see if I can get some time off that week. You're welcome to stay at my place, if it won't be inconvenient for you."

"Great! I'm looking forward to it."

"Me, too."

"Okay, Day. I guess I should let you go now. The natives are probably getting restless out there by now."

"Okay, Ginger. I'll talk to you later. Love you."

"I love you, too. And, Day... Thanks. I really needed to hear your voice."

"I really needed to hear yours, too."

"We didn't even get to talk about what's going on with you. You okay?"

"I had a rough day, but I'm feeling much better now."

"You want me to call back later so we can talk about it?"

"Call back when you have time to talk, sure. But I'm okay, Ginj, really. Listen. Try to have fun tonight."

"I will. Thanks, Day."

"Good night."

"You, too. Bye."

Scully was still smiling as she placed the cordless phone back in its cradle. She should go to bed, but she was too energized from her talk with Ginger to be able to sleep just yet. She slid into the chair at her desk and opened up the journal she'd been writing in not so many hours before.

        What a difference a day makes. Not even a full day,
        really, since I sat here pouring out my pain in these
        pages. I spent most of the day annoyed and on edge,
        and I all but ripped Mulder a new one when he dared
        ask how I was doing. Then I come home to hear your
        voice on my machine, and it's like it all just fell away. 

        How can you do that? Make it all go away without
        even trying--without really even knowing what it is that
        you're soothing away, just by being there?

        As complicated as things have gotten for me since I
        realized I was falling in love with you... As painful as
        loving you can be for me sometimes, there are these
        moments when I'm just so happy and proud to have you
        in my life. Moments when my heart is so full of loving
        you that I'm afraid it might burst. Moments when
        seeing you, or hearing your voice, almost takes my
        breath away.  Moments, like tonight, when knowing
        you're only a phone call or a flight away is one of the
        few things that allows me to hang on.

        Sometimes I try to remember if it was ever that way for
        me before, but it's been so long now I wonder if I can
        remember any of it clearly. And it's hard to know how
        to compare anything with this. I don't know if it's just
        because of the fundamental difference between you and
        the others--and between who I thought I was and who
        I'm finding out I could be. Or maybe it's something
        simpler. Maybe it's because we were friends first, long
        before I was even aware of the possibility of attraction
        between us. 

        We've built something solid between us. Fundamental
        and necessary. I can't imagine my life without your
        friendship, but I wonder if these new feelings I have for
        you might be the very thing that tears that friendship
        apart. Tonight I listened to you talk about dating, and
        looking for something you couldn't seem to find, and I
        was torn between wanting to be your friend and helping
        you find your own way, and wanting to be your lover,
        and getting you to help me find my way. Part of me
        hopes it might be possible for us to find our way
        together--that our respective paths might lead us to one
        another--but I'm also afraid that my seeking may wind
        up leading me to violate our friendship in some way.

        If I push for what I want... If I tell you what I feel and
        you reject me, can I remain friends with you--or you
        with me--without making things terribly awkward for
        the both of us? If there's any chance you could feel
        something more for me, then my keeping silent might
        be too great a risk, because I doubt that you would ever
        admit to wanting more unless you were sure I was

        I keep thinking in these circles: if I want you, but you
        don't want me, then I should play it safe and not say
        anything; if you want me, but don't think I want you,
        you'll try to protect me by not saying anything, so I
        would have to; if we both want each other but are too
        damned stubborn, or dense, to realize it and too damned
        scared to take the chance, then how will we ever get
        past this? If I never find the courage to tell you how I
        feel, will I be able to get past these feelings and still be
        just a friend? Having your friendship has always been
        more than enough for me. Before. Can it still be
        enough? If the price of keeping your friendship means
        keeping silent, is it a price I can pay?

        I told you tonight that your heart and your courage
        would be there for you when the time was right. Will
        mine, I wonder? When the time is right for me, will I
        know it, and will I know what to do?

        I don't know. All I know now is that I love you, and I
        need you, and I want you. And it's enough, for now, to
        know that you love me and need me, too. It has to be
        enough. For now.

Scully closed the journal and put it and the pen back in their usual place. She didn't feel that she was any closer to the answers, really. But maybe it was enough that she was finally asking the right questions.

She gravitated to her answering machine again, needing to hear Ginger's voice again. She listened to the message, smiled at Ginger's, 'Love you,' and turned off the light before heading off to bed.

"I love you too, Ginger."


The end (for now).

© September 2001