Five Months Later
Friday, November 13th, 1998
“I can’t believe you,” Scully hisses as they exit Skinner’s office. “We’ve discussed this, Mulder. Multiple, no, countless times. You can’t just accuse someone of being a supernatural entity based off a… a wild hunch!”
“A hunch? Scully, we have concrete evidence. It’s literally documented in the folder you’re holding right now.”
“That ‘evidence’ is obviously subject to interpretation,” Scully retorts, stomping down the hall in an attempt to keep pace with Mulder’s long strides. “An interpretation I thought we’d agreed upon before going into that meeting. And I don’t appreciate you abandoning a solid hypothesis, that we discussed at length, in favor of whatever the hell that just was.”
Mulder stops outside the elevator, turning to her. “That was the truth, Scully. It’s out there, if you would just open your mind a little and accept that there are things science still can’t explain.”
“But science can-” She reaches out and punches the button for the elevator, “-explain it. You just like the sound of your own theories and ideas better than fact. Fox Mulder, the champion of truth, the only man willing to consider the extreme.”
“You know you like it,” he says in a low tone.
Scully’s eyes go wide, and she grabs his elbow. “Do not-”
The elevator doors open, and they scurry into the lift. Mulder presses the button for the basement.
“Do not use my weaknesses against me at work, Mulder, that’s not fair,” she says as the doors slide closed.
“Weaknesses?” Mulder asks casually. “Am I your weakness, Dr. Scully?”
“I’m serious. We’ve have a few close calls in the past few months; if we’re not careful, we’re going to be found out.”
“How, by arguing? We did that before we started fu-”
She gives him an imploring look.
“-working after hours,” he corrects. “Besides,” he continues, angling his chin downwards to reach her ear, “I happen to know arguing turns you on.”
Scully licks her upper lip. “I’m just saying we have to be more careful,” she insists, staring straight ahead.
“Then I guess this isn’t the best time to invite you out for a drink,” Mulder says.
Scully glances at him out of the corner of her eye. “It’s Friday the thirteenth,” she notes with a twinge of a smile. “Don’t you think it’s a little risky?”
Mulder shrugs as the elevator doors open into the basement. “Historically, the thirteenth is my lucky day.”
“You know, it’s been nine months since our first date,” Mulder says conversationally. They’d walked to Casey’s Bar from the Bureau and are now perched on stools at the far end of the counter, nursing a beer each.
Scully furrows her brow, obviously doing some quick mental math. “February… that was a date?” she says, somewhat amused. “You should have told me at the time. I wouldn’t have waited so long to put out.”
Mulder raises his eyebrows. “Dana,” he says in mock surprise. “I thought you were a good church girl.”
“What gave you that idea, my penchant for kneeling?” she mutters into her glass.
Fuck, she’s good.
They’ve been together for six months now, and it’s surprising how little has actually changed between them, in the practical sense. They’ve been pretty good at keeping their relationship a secret, Mulder thinks. It helps that everyone in the Bureau already thought they were crazy, codependent, and tanking their respective careers. Apparently, bad reputations make the best cover.
He and Scully arrive at the Hoover building in separate vehicles, squabble over conflicting viewpoints, have lunch together almost every day. He rests a hand on her back, guiding her through the halls, and she gives him withering glances and dramatic eye rolls when appropriate. From the outside, they’re still the same Mulder and Scully.
And then they go home to one of their respective apartments and tear each other’s clothes off.
Well, they usually make it home. That quickie in the office annex was an outlier.
Nine months seems significant somehow. The length of human gestation, Mulder thinks absently. It seems like a length of time worth celebrating.
“Would it be terribly corny of me to propose a toast?” he asks.
“A toast to what?”
He’s suddenly shy. “Us,” he says softly. “How far we’ve come. And how much,” he adds, giving her a nudge with his elbow. She rolls her eyes at him, and it feels overtly fond.
Scully lifts her glass. “To us,” she says warmly. “And to spooky shit.”
“You remember,” Mulder says as they clink glasses, recalling that first toast in Casey’s all those months ago.
“Mm,” she replies, sipping her beer. “I do. It was a… notable evening.”
“What made it notable for you?” he asks.
“We had an actual conversation, for one,” Scully muses. “About our personal lives, attraction, about how we relate to the outside world; and by extension, how we relate to each other. I remember very clearly feeling like we were close to something.”
“So did I,” Mulder admits. “So what happened, on your end?”
“I don’t know,” she sighs. “The spell wore off, maybe? When I got home that night I remembered all the reasons it would be a mistake to let myself feel. And then Mark happened, and you know the rest of that story.” She turns on her stool to face him more fully. “What happened for you?”
“I took you on a very cold, very dark picnic,” Mulder reminds her.
“Which was wonderful,” she offers.
Mulder nods. “But then when I asked you out again, you had a date. I don’t know, maybe I was going too slow, being too subtle. But when you started going out with that jackass it felt like… in a way, you were saying that what I had to give wasn’t enough.”
Scully doesn’t say anything, just stares down at her glass.
“And I realize that it’s selfish of me to project that onto you,” he amends. “Your choices aren’t about me. But fuck, I wished they were.”
“You’d be surprised how many of my choices actually were about you,” she says softly. “I surprise even myself. You told me before that you didn’t think I’d last a full year working with you, remember? There was validity in that. This job… it’s the most difficult thing I’ve ever done. So much is at stake for us, so much has been taken. But I chose to continue because I believed in you, and in our work. We have different methods and come to different conclusions, but we’re working towards the same thing. That’s what I believe.”
He reaches over beneath the cover of the countertop and takes her hand, clasping it atop his knee. They sit in silence for awhile, taking sips of their drinks, palms pressed together.
The truth hides in many places, Mulder is learning. Places more secret and sacred than dusty file folders or abandoned warehouses, more mundane than the locked rooms of the Pentagon or trapped beneath thousands of years of ice. The greatest truths are scattered pieces he stumbles upon every day; reflected in his bathroom mirror, scribbled on post-it notes in their office, hidden under Scully’s warm tongue. He knows he’s an obsessed man, prone to irrationality and impulse; but in quiet moments with his partner, he finds small fragments of peace he never thought he could reach.
“Where are you?” Scully says softly, drawing him back into the present. A dim barroom, a sweating glass, her soft hand in his. He wonders if the day will come when his mind wanders too far for her to follow.
“I-I know how crazy this is going to sound, Scully but bear with me… do you ever think that we’re… that we’re bonded somehow? Like we were always supposed to end up here. Together.”
“Like here, here? In this bar?”
“Maybe. Maybe less specifically this bar and more generally this time and place on earth. This universe, this dimension. With each other.”
She shakes her head gently, smiling. “Mulder, it’s been a long week. If we’re going to talk about the metaphysical I need to either have more to drink or be under the influence of a postcoital surge of oxytocin.”
He leans closer to her. “Do you have a preference as to which, because I’d gladly provide either.”
Scully pushes her half-empty glass away from her, eyes dark and soft. “Take me home, Mulder,” she whispers.
His heart squeezes. “Will you stay?” The night, the rest of our lives, until our boat drifts over the edge of the earth?
She nods, and another piece of the truth slides into place.