The rain was pouring down around them; she was soaked to her skin and she didn’t truly understand what had made her follow Mulder out into the dreary night. Yet, here they stood facing each other, breath heavy on the air, puffed out in clouds before them.
His eyes spoke of unease and an uncertainty she thought to be uncharacteristic of him. He had always seemed so sure and pure to his convictions. Of all the things Mulder was, Scully was always one to respect him for his strength in the face of the unknown, of the challenges to his beliefs. But now, in the rain, in the car park of a side of the road motel, she could see an insecurity in him.
The evening had been playing out like a million of them had before; case files, photographs and reports scattered across the bed and small table in Mulder’s room, theories and discussion about the case flowing between them. She, of course was using science to explain to Mulder why this couldn’t possibly be anything paranormal or extraterrestrial. He countered with his trademark smirk and impassioned spiel about hope and believing in something other than. Scully couldn’t deny that his passion and excitement were infectious. It was like seeing someone discover their favourite ice cream or completing a task thought impossible; that pride mixed with enthusiasm, warmed her and she’d let him go on and on just to see his eyes alight, his gaze dancing with fire upon her.
It had gotten late into the night and their discussion had fallen into quiet contemplation. Mulder sat in a chair next to the table and Scully supported by pillows against the headboard of Mulder’s bed. She’d shucked off her shoes earlier and had commandeered Mulder’s pull over as the rain had started outside; a chill setting into her bones and was reviewing test results and the autopsy she’d completed earlier in the day.
It took her a little while to realise that Mulder had stopped what he was doing and was looking over at her. She looked back at him, a soft smile pulling at her lips.
A soft utterance; the silence between them warm and comfortable, filling Scully with a gentle peace she’d not often experienced. He shook his head slightly, a barely there acknowledgment to her question; not wanting to disturb what was happening in the room at that moment. Scully let the photo in her hand fall to the bed beside her; her arms crossing over her chest as they continued to gaze at each other. The softness of the pullover she’d stolen from Mulder caressed her fingertips, the soft scent of him filling her senses. She didn’t want to be that coworker cliche but she’d always found every part of him intoxicating. She shook the thoughts from her mind.
No... They were partners. Nothing more.
She would always have his back, no matter what but knew that muddying the waters with feelings would never be good. But right now she couldn’t help but wonder what was going through his mind.
The soft lamp light illuminated his face and glinted in his eyes. She’d always been curious about how his eyes seemed to change colour; a shift in mood, light or time of day. If she believed eyes to be the windows to the soul, Mulder’s gaze on her would say more than she was probably willing to admit to herself; they screamed contentment and a sense of care that she didn’t want to label any further. After a few moments, Scully wrapped her arms around her tighter, her gaze on him faltering.
”Something on your mind Mulder?”
Her words must have jarred him from wherever his mind had taken him. He cleared his throat, swallowing guiltily, liked he’d been caught doing something he shouldn’t have been. His eyes fell from her, the air between them stiffening.
”Sorry Scully I...”
His words tapered off as he got to his feet and quickly left the room out into the wet night beyond. Scully felt a frown etch it’s way across her face and before she’d known what she was doing, she’d leapt up from the bed and had followed him out the door. He was striding away across the carpark, seemingly unbothered by the heavy rain falling upon him. The cold, wet ground but at her feet but she pushed forward after him.
Her voice battles to be heard in the rain but it made him stop nonetheless; his back towards her, head tilted skyward, breath billowing above him. She stopped her advance a few steps away from him. He turned to face her slowly; his shirt clung to him and rain beaded in his air, and dropped off the tip of his nose. He looked crestfallen and embarrassed; a stark contrast to his warmth and excitement earlier.
”what’s going on Mulder?”
He clenched his fist against the leg of his now soaked jeans. Scully could see he was battling something inside, trying like hell to keep it contained.
”Talk to me?”
A heavy sigh wracked his chest and he took a step towards her.
”You don’t want that Scully. You don’t want to know what I know.”
She was seriously confused and beginning to second guess her decision to follow him outside, but pushed him anyway.
“Anything you know Mulder, I am sure I can handle.”
He shook his head and wiped the water off his face with a quick hand.
”It will change how you see me and the last thing I wanna do is lose your respect. I don’t have a lot of people in my life and that doesn’t bother me... but you’re here Scully and you’re important to me and I don’t ever want to put you in a position where you feel like you don’t have my respect and I don’t want our partnership to change... I... Scully... You’re important to me!”
The weight of his words settled on her chest, her heart aching for him, knowing how much he held inside... and she did respect him, always... but right now in the pouring rain, her respect blossomed into something else. It filled her with a warmth, an urge to pull him into her, but she could see that was what he was trying to avoid. She extended a hand towards him, slipping her fingers in between his own..
And that was enough for now. Just existing within each other’s worlds was enough.
So there they stood, in the pouring rain, soaked and content, hands clasped between them, a silent acknowledgement of what they both already knew.