She is sure they could be best friends forever, but the passion died out for her many years ago. After their divorce, she spent many nights doubting herself, missing his warm body curled up in her arms. She longed to pick up the phone and call him, but was tired of leading him on and crushing his hopes. She needed to stope the endless cycle of broken hearts and rough makeup sex that left her feel even more alone afterwards.
When they met again, after almost 10 years of purposely avoiding each other, she felt a spark. At first she tried to ignore it. William was the last link between them after the closing of the X Files. She had no right to tumble back into his arms.
Somehow she found herself ignoring all of the red flags telling her to stop. The tension between them was palpable, each of them dancing around the inevitable until one day it was too much. Mulder invited her up to his apartment for drinks, and for once, she didn’t say no. The second the door closed their movements were driven by pure instinct, and she still knew his body like the back of her hand. She couldn’t believe herself the next morning. The taste of him still lingering on her lips. The memory of him surrounding her was too much to process.
How many other men or women did she draw into her game, only to grab her shoes and silently sneak out in the morning? Why couldn’t she wake up in Mulder’s arms like she used to? She had no answers, it was like someone else was in control of her body. Common sense would tell her she could stop running, could settle down, even if it was only temporary.
She takes a quick shower and uses his shampoo with a trace of guilt. Scent is a hell of a drug. She turns the water as hot as it can go and the shower quickly becomes filled with steam and the scent of the man she has spent most of her life with. She quietly leaves his apartment and goes back to her condo. The scent of his shampoo still lingers, but she feels much better being in her own home. More in control of herself.
Scully tries to think of the last time she had even called Mulder. She remembers a drunken phone call three years ago, where she begged him to come and spend the night. To be fair, he turned her down: “I can’t take advantage of you like this. Call me in the morning once you have sobered up, and I will take the first train back to DC.”
Mulder shouldn’t have been surprised when she never called back, but she still feels bad for opening old wounds. While he could have called her any number of times, he respected her boundaries too much to reach out.
Tonight was their first real date since they found each other again. After two weeks of mindless sex and late nights, Mulder asked her to dinner. She almost declined. Sex was great, but dates? She wasn’t ready for that. She was certain she never would be, but decided to accept his offer anyway.
“Damn Scully, we are really doing everything backwards,” he said in between Scully’s furtive kisses. He pushed her away from him, pinning her hands to the wall. Her blue eyes darkened, anticipating his next move. Instead, he released her and walked to his living room, a huge upgrade from his old tiny apartment without a bed. They shared a cab to the restaurant, sitting on opposite sides of the car. Once upon a time they would practically sit on each other’s laps, but they were both more than a little nervous.
Dinner was nice and normal. Just two old friends chatting, catching up on what they had missed over the past decade. She could not miss the look of pure joy in Mulder’s eyes. He truly loved her. Scully found herself overwhelmed and headed to the restroom. After splashing her face with some water, she reached in her purse for her bottle of Xanax. As much as she hates the idea of regular medication (like any other doctor), she can’t handle the emotions flowing through her mind.
She takes one more look at herself in the mirror, trying to pretend that everything is okay. It’s not, not even a little bit. She feels Mulder falling back in love with her, but doesn’t remotely feel the same way.
She analyzes her feelings, ever the scientist. She had slept with many women and men over the years, but never stayed with anyone long enough to catch feelings. The sex was mindblowing, but not for any reason other than the many years they had each spent learning the other’s body. It was perfect, lying there in his bed and losing herself to him. But the second his stares became something more than lust, she found herself closing off.
She tried to push it down, she really did. At first she thought that maybe she was just scared of falling for him again. But in the light of the morning after their first night back together, she realized that it wasn’t love she was feeling, but just the memory of how good it felt to be in his arms.
They head home, Mulder holding onto her hand like a lifeline. Like he can’t live without her. It breaks Scully’s heart, but she knows what she has to do. She walks him up to his apartment, but stops at the door. She thanks him for dinner and kisses him chastely on the cheek. She starts to turn away, but she can’t just walk away without a word. Not this time.
“This isn’t working anymore.” The look in Mulder’s eyes is enough to make her pause. She wishes she felt differently about him, but he has become like an apparition, someone she sees and hears, but has no real connection to.
Mulder places a hand on Scully’s cheek. “It will be different this time, Dana,” he said, through tears in his eyes. She has only seen him cry a couple of times before, but never because of her.
Scully doesn’t even have to respond with words, Mulder can tell by the look in her eyes that this time she really means it. He kisses Scully’s cheek and closes his front door. For once, he is the one to say that final goodbye.