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Only One Choice, Part Two

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“What if we could stop, pause to take stock of each precious moment before it passes? Might we then see the endless forks in the road that have shaped a life? And, seeing those choices, choose another path?”



January 1997

 

She wakes to the feeling of his chest pressing against her back, a hand on her belly finding its way just under the hem of her pajama bottoms. She stiffens reflexively, and then wills herself to relax. 

 

“Hey,” he whispers hotly into her ear, gaging whether she’s awake. She could feign sleep, but if she does that too often he starts to pick up on it. That is a conversation she’d rather not have again. 

 

“Mmm,” is all she gives in response. He presses his erection into her ass and she grimaces, glad that she’s facing away from him so he can’t see. 

 

“You fell asleep on me last night,” he says as his hand moves lower, now slipping below the hem of her panties, “Happy New Year.”

 

She glances at the clock; it’s 5:45. She has to leave the apartment by 7 to get to work on time so maybe this is an ideal situation; it will have to be quick. She hates herself for thinking this way, but since what happened with Mulder, she can’t seem to enjoy sex anymore. It’s perfunctory, an obligation. Somewhere in her subconscious she knows that it’s guilt that prevents her from being truly intimate with Ethan, but she only allows herself to see it as temporary, a hormonal change that won’t last. These things happen, she knows. Sex drives wax and wane. Maybe she should switch her birth control. 

 

“Sorry,” she replies, gently pushing back against him, granting permission. Maybe they can stay like this, spooning; it’s easier when she doesn’t have to look at him, to fake enjoyment and connection. When he pushes her pajama bottoms down to her knees and enters her from behind, she sighs in relief and lets it happen, her mind elsewhere. 

 

She tries not to think about it. About a lot of things, really. About how unfulfilling her marriage to Ethan is. About whether she can do this for the rest of her life, or if things will get better. About Mulder. She has the hardest time not thinking about him. 

 

He hasn’t tried to contact her. Each day she arrives at work and checks her email, holding out a secret hope that there will be a message from him, but there never is. Every time one of her colleagues pops in to ask her a question, she hopes that maybe there is someone there to see her, and maybe it’s him. It never is. 

 

She fakes her orgasm flawlessly, a skill she never hoped to acquire, and then showers for work, washing away the evidence of...what? Bad sex? A loveless marriage? Except the sex isn’t bad and the marriage isn’t loveless. Something is missing, but she can’t quite say what. 

 

Or maybe she can’t quite admit who. 

 

She skips breakfast, kissing Ethan chastely on the lips before she heads out the door. She looks away so she doesn’t have to see the pain in his eyes, the recognition that the woman he married isn’t the one he fell in love with anymore. 

 

The fact that she seems to bring so much pain to the men who love her is something she cannot forgive herself for. 




 

 

Priscilla is alternately licking his cheek and biting his nose and he pushes her away gently, checking the time. His alarm didn’t go off and he’s half an hour behind schedule.

 

“Fuck,” he grumbles, sitting up abruptly and sending her to the floor. She lands on her feet and scurries off, alarmed by his brusqueness. 

 

He peels off his pajama pants and turns on the shower, rushing to the kitchen to feed Priscilla and start the coffee so it will be ready when he gets out. When he realizes he’s out of filters, he abandons the effort and decides to be late for work so he can pick up coffee on the way in.

 

He stands under the spray of the shower and tries not to think about her. Everywhere he looks, he is reminded of the short time they spent together. His couch, where they bonded over the X files. His bed, where he touched and tasted her. His dining room, where he kissed her for the first and then last time. His doorway, where she broke his heart. 

 

Sighing with defeat, he takes his cock in his hand and lets himself remember, chasing that brief moment of release. The thought that he may never feel about another person the way he feels about Scully makes him sick, as though his life ended before it even began. Will he still be pining away for her when he’s in his seventies? Will he marry someone else, just so he can have some semblance of a normal life, but always wish it could have been her?

 

Every day since the moment she walked out of his apartment he’s thought about emailing her. He has an entire folder of drafts that he’s typed up but never sent. Some of them are old-timey love letters full of flowery descriptions of the taste of her lips and the color of her hair. Some are Jane Eyre quotes and song lyrics. Some are angry, accusing her of denial and an absurd obsession with commitment. They tell her that she broke his heart, ruined his life. He’s glad he never sent those ones. 

 

He lets out a strangled cry as he comes, doing his best to aim for the drain so he won’t have to scrub the floor of the shower again. He imagines how she felt when she was coming around his fingers, and on his tongue. He wonders if it was as good as it seemed like it was, and whether Ethan is as good at going down on her as he is. 

 

Was . As good as he was , because it only happened once and it won’t happen again. 

 

He dresses for work, pausing to apologize to Priscilla for being rough with her and thank her for waking him up. She is, and will be for the foreseeable future, the only woman in his life, after all. Not that he doesn’t have options; between the Gunmen and other agents at the bureau someone is trying to set him up with their lovely single friend at least weekly. He tried to go out with a couple of them but it felt unfair. Although single, he’s not available. He leaves the apartment with an empty stomach, already late for his division briefing. 

 

Even if she won’t accept it, his heart belongs only to Scully. He’s afraid it always will.




Chapter Text

“Oh, hi Dana,” Maggie says, drying her hands on a dishtowel. “Should I have been expecting you today?”

 

Dana shakes her head from her mother’s doorstep. “No, sorry for dropping by unannounced, I was just...driving around. I thought I’d say hi.”

 

“Of course, sweetheart, come on in.” Maggie ushers her inside and puts on a pot of coffee. “Did you and Ethan have a good New Year?” she asks, pulling the creamer out of the fridge. 

 

“Yes, it was fine. We just had a quiet night at home, nothing exciting,” she responds blandly. 

 

They get situated in the front room, the warmth of the afternoon sun streaming in the windows and betraying the chill outside. Dana watches a pair of squirrels as they forage for acorns stashed away in the summer months. It occurs to her that the nuts they will eat were hidden before she married Ethan. Possibly even before she broke Mulder’s heart. It feels like lifetimes ago, and yet it was recent enough that the fruit of its season is still edible. 

 

“Dana,” Maggie says gently, “can I ask you something? And I hope you won’t take offense.”

 

“Sure, Mom,” she answers, not looking away from the furry foragers. 

 

“Are you happy?”

 

Dana turns to look at her mother, finding her with a concerned and empathetic expression. 

 

“What do you mean?” she asks. She’s worked so hard to be okay, but maybe she’s not doing as well faking it as she thought. 

 

“Dana, you are my most level-headed child,” Maggie begins, “I have never questioned your decisions or your logic, or your path for your life. It’s so clear that you make your choices with great intention and consideration, and that’s why I didn’t say anything.”

 

“Say anything about what?” Her breath is becoming just a bit labored. It feels like her mother is about to reveal something significant to her, only about herself. 

 

“You changed, Dana, after you and Ethan got engaged. It was like the light went from your eyes. I didn’t understand it, but I trusted that you knew what you wanted and chalked it up to jitters. But it’s been nearly three months, and I thought I’d have my daughter back by now.” 

 

The pain in her mother’s eyes brings a lump to her throat and she swallows against it. Her chin quivers just a bit, but she fights to maintain control. It’s something she’s needed to do often as of late. 

 

“Mom, how did you know that Dad was the person you were supposed to spend your life with?” she asks hoarsely, and Maggie’s face contorts into a mask of pained understanding as she takes her daughter’s hand. 

 

“I knew,” she starts but then stops again, looking out the window with a faraway quality to her gaze. “I knew because when I was with him I felt alive, like he really saw me. And whenever I wasn’t with him, he was all I thought about.” Maggie turns again to look at her daughter with shining eyes, the memory of her late husband still one that pricks at the pain of her loss. 

 

“But did you always feel that way, even after you’d been together for years?” Dana further interrogates. Certainly such a strong feeling must fade with time. 

 

“It changed, of course, after four kids and dozens of moves and deployments. It wasn’t as consuming, we didn’t have time for it to be. But yes, in the moments that mattered, I still felt it. I still do now, and not having him here to reflect it back to me is what made losing him so hard.”

 

Dana nods tersely, looking out the window again as she sets her jaw against the tears. They still come, as she hasn’t mastered control over her tear ducts even after months of surreptitious crying. 

 

“Mom,” she croaks out, turning back to look at the face of a person she knows loves her without question. “I think I made a mistake.”

 

“Oh, honey,” Maggie replies, tears filling her own eyes in sympathy for her child’s suffering. “There’s no mistake that can’t be fixed.”

 

Dana shakes her head and then lets it drop regretfully. “I can’t do that. To Ethan, to you. I already didn’t get married in the church, and I know how much shame a divorce would bring to you,” she says to her lap. 

 

“Dana,” Maggie says with some exasperation, “do you realize that you’re suggesting that you should spend the rest of your life unhappily married because you don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings? Ethan will survive. He will find someone else who wants to be with him as much as he wants to be with them. I can certainly live through Marilyn Webber giving me the hairy eyeball at mass for a few weeks. You deserve to be happy, honey. And if that’s not possible with Ethan, you should move on.”

 

“Move on to what?” Dana asks in a whisper, wiping at her nose with the back of her hand. 

 

“I don’t know, sweetheart. But you’ll never find out if you don’t start moving.”





 

 

She waits with a glass of wine in her hand, the third she’s consumed this evening waiting for him to come home, waiting to ruin his life so that she might save her own. He walks in the door sighing heavily, a sure sign of a bad day, and she’s afraid she might lose her nerve. He stops when he sees her perched in the armchair. It’s no accident that she chose a place where he couldn’t sit beside her. 

 

“Dana, you’re home early,” he remarks, looking at her with confusion and a little concern. 

 

“Uh, yeah. Can we- can you sit down, please? We need to talk.”

 

The worry in his eyes as he sits on the end of the couch closest to her makes her heart speed up. Just do it. Do it before you chicken out

 

“Are you okay?” he asks hesitantly, and she nods her head emphatically. 

 

“I’m fine, Ethan, it’s nothing like that.”

 

He looks at her expectantly, bracing himself. She closes her eyes. 

 

“Ethan. You- you are a wonderful person. A wonderful husband.”

 

“But…” he interjects for her. She opens her eyes and sees that his expression has changed from worry to resignation. Almost like he knows what’s coming. 

 

“I’m so sorry, Ethan. You haven’t done anything wrong. I’m just not- I don’t think we’re right for each other.” She takes a deep breath and a sip of wine. She’s almost there. Maybe he’ll take it the rest of the way for her. 

 

He sits back on the couch, giving her an appraising look. “Since when, Dana? How long have you felt this way?” She can hear irritation in his tone. 

 

She shakes her head gently. “That doesn’t matter, Ethan-”

 

He sits up abruptly and cuts her off. “It matters to me, Dana. Did you marry me knowing that your feelings had changed?”

 

She feels her chin pucker, the tears gathering in her eyes. She doesn’t respond. 

 

He drops his head and gives a derisive little laugh, looking at the floor as he speaks. “I noticed the difference in you. I just didn’t want to believe it.” He lifts his head and there are tears in his eyes too, but his voice is steady. “Five years, Dana. What the hell happened to us?”

 

Mulder. Mulder happened to us , she thinks. But there is no value in telling him that. 

 

“I’m so sorry, Ethan,” she says in a strained whisper. 

 

“Yeah, you said that,” he replies dryly. “So, what do you want, to go to counseling? Get divorced?”

 

She looks at her lap. “We don’t have to get divorced. We’re not technically married,” she says quietly, shame constricting her throat. 

 

“What the hell are you talking about?” he asks incredulously. “I did not hallucinate our wedding, I remember very clearly that you barely got through the vows.”

 

“Um, Charlie was supposed to sign the wedding license, we were supposed to sign it as well, and two witnesses, before it could be mailed in and registered with the state. Missy found it at Mom’s the next day, blank. I guess we all just forgot.”

 

He’s quiet for a long time. When she looks up at him, his jaw is set and angry tears are streaming down his cheeks.

 

“You were never going to tell me, were you?” he asks quietly.

 

She looks away. 

 

“Goddamn it, Dana!” he shouts, slamming his palm down on the coffee table. She jumps at the sudden outburst. 

 

“I’m so sorry,” she says again. She doesn’t know what else to say. 

 

He stands and goes to put his coat and shoes back on. “I need to get out of here,” he says as he stuffs his wallet in his pocket and collects his keys. He’s almost out the door when he stops and turns back. “What happens now?”

 

“I’ll go stay at my mom’s for the week, so you can….” she can’t quite voice the rest. 

 

“Move out. Right. This is your place. Always was. Well, I guess since we’re not actually married there’s nothing more to do. Good luck, Dana. I hope you figure out what you want.”

 

“I’m so sorry,” she says again. 

 

“Yeah, me too,” he says before pulling the door closed behind him. 

 

Chapter Text

Winter soldiers on, the cold and occasional snow giving way to the promise of spring. Her birthday comes and goes, celebrated at her mother’s with her family as it had been before there was someone else to lay claim to her time on special days. The vacant spaces in her apartment that had been occupied by Ethan’s books and clothes, his toiletries, and VHS collection, begin to be filled by evidence of her new, single life. Her solitary toothbrush in the cup by the sink starts to look normal, the indent on her finger where his ring lived begins to fade, and the silence she arrives home to at the end of her workday becomes mundane instead of painful. Though this change was initiated and welcomed by her, change is always hard. She goes through the motions of being okay until one day in early April, she realizes that she is. The budding crocuses bring with them the optimism of a new life, another chance. A third chance, as it were, to get it right. Now she only has to figure out what right is. 

 

Though they’ve always been close, she and Missy become even closer, taking up the space in each other’s lives that would otherwise be consumed by boyfriends or lovers. They are each other’s better half, sharing the minutiae of their workdays and staying available for unexpected illness or the need to move heavy furniture. While every human needs other humans to thrive, the Scully sisters fill that need with each other, shunning the idea of casual dating simply for the sake of companionship. There is no companion more perfect than the one who has known you since before you could understand the need for such a partner in life, and who is by your side not out of obligation, but because their soul is stitched so firmly to your own. They have always pledged their dedication to each other through thick and thin, and the new year of 1997 proves that to be a sincere promise on both their parts. 

 

As such, they sit at their favorite local coffee shop on Sunday afternoon when Missy finally dares to ask her sister the question she’s avoided for the past four months. Not because she was afraid of her reaction, but because she knew Dana wasn’t ready to talk about it. 

 

“Have you heard from Mulder at all?” she asks so casually that Dana flicks her eyes up and stares in disbelief, not sure that she heard her right. 

 

“What?” Dana asks, her heart having lept for one single beat at the mention of his name.

 

“Mulder. Have you had any contact with him, or seen him?” Missy is misleadingly casual, acting as though this is not a question she’s been waiting months to ask. 

 

“No,” Dana says flatly, her eyes dropping down to her coffee cup. “I wouldn’t expect to.”

 

“Does he know that you and Ethan split?” Missy asks next, her feet folded underneath her in the oversized armchair. 

 

“I don’t see how he would,” Dana posits.

 

“Have you considered reaching out to him?” Missy tries, watching her sister for signs that she is going to shut the conversation down. 

 

Dana shakes her head glumly. “After what I put him through, I’m sure I’m the last person he wants to hear from. That was nearly nine months ago, he’s probably long since moved on.”

 

“Have you? Moved on?” 

 

Dana pulls in a deep breath and lets it out slowly. “I don’t know how to answer that. What does it mean, to move on?”

 

“Do you still think about him?” No assertions, just gentle questions, leading her sister to the conclusion she knows she needs to come to. 

 

Dana nods softly. “All the time. Every day.”

 

“Then I think your answer would be no. You should contact him, Dana. It feels like unfinished business.” Missy has a thing about unfinished business. She believes it prevents you from achieving your full potential in life. 

 

“Missy...what would I even say? ‘Sorry I broke your heart, good news is it didn’t even work out so it was all for nothing’? I don’t want to cause him more pain than I already have.” Her tone is resigned and defeated. Another regret she will come to live with, pinned to her lapel with a collection of other mistakes that she can never quite atone for. 

 

Missy shrugs. “You know what I think. The rest is up to you.”

 

Missy is right. The trouble is, she doesn't trust herself to make these decisions anymore. She’s proven to herself that she doesn’t know how to make the right one. 




 

 

“Excuse me,” a rough, nasally voice calls from behind her. She turns to see a red nosed young man in the doorway of the pathologist’s office, slumped against the doorframe with watery eyes. “I’m here to pick up an autopsy report, for, um...I think it’s Richards or something.”

 

Scully has worked with this courier before, and compared to his typical demeanor it’s easy to tell that he’s unwell. 

 

“Are you alright?” she asks as she uses her feet to push her rolling chair over to the file cabinet, retrieving the report in question. 

 

“Uh, not really, no. But if I call out sick one more time I’m gonna get canned.” He leans his head against the cool metal of the doorframe. She suspects he’s feverish. 

 

“You don’t look well enough to work. Where is this headed?” she asks, still holding the file in her hand. 

 

The young man blows out a stream of air and she holds her breath for a moment, not wanting to inhale whatever he’s infected with. He pulls a slip of paper from his pocket. “Hoover Building, Behavioral Science Unit. Agent Kissop.” He stuffs the paper back in his pocket and looks around, taking refuge in the extra chair near the end of her desk.

 

She feels a little flutter in her belly; what are the odds?

 

“I’ll tell you what,” she begins, “I was just about to head out for the day and I live in Georgetown, so I’m going that way anyway. Can I drop this off for you? You don’t look well enough to drive and I’d hate to see you on the news in the morning if you cause an accident.”

 

He sighs deeply, the biggest display of excitement he can muster. “Are you sure? I’d really appreciate it,” he says, his eyelids barely maintaining half-mast. 

 

“No problem at all,” she replies, gathering her coat and purse. “You get home and take some Tylenol, okay? And get some rest.”

 

He nods weakly and she leaves him there, climbing into her car with the file and a pounding heart. She can’t help but feel like this is a sign. She’s been thinking about signs a lot lately, and she’s recently resolved to start paying attention to them. 




 

 

Mulder stands beside the copy machine, doing his Wednesday afternoon ritual of fighting with the toner cartridge and cursing profusely. From around the corner, he can hear AD Kirkbride drumming up his own song of profanity, which is more of a daily ritual than a weekly one. 

 

“Are you fucking kidding me?” Kirkbride is shouting. “Now that dipshit is conning goddamn doctors into doing his pathetic job?”

 

Another much softer voice answers him, but Mulder can’t quite make out the words. He moves closer to the open door, bored enough to bother eavesdropping and seeing which of his colleagues is going to get their ass handed to them today. 

 

“Yeah, I’m sure he is sick, that fucking lowlife. He’s sick every fucking week, it’s always something with him!”

 

“Sir, I don’t know what the history is between you and the courier,” answers the other voice, and it’s familiar in a way that makes him stop in his tracks, his stomach clutching in a mix of nervousness and excitement. “Can you direct me to Agent Kissop, please? Then I’ll be on my way and you can work it out with the courier service.” 

 

It’s Scully. It’s her, he’s sure. He’s been dreaming of that voice for months, the soft sibilant S’s and the way her plush lips rest against her adorable overbite. Without thinking, he enters Kirkbride’s office and sees her standing in front of his desk with a file in her hand and an exasperated look on her face. 

 

“Scully?” he asks, and she turns to him. Her hair is a bit longer, now just past her shoulders, and she’s wearing black slacks and a white blouse. She’s as beautiful as ever, maybe even more than he remembered. She doesn’t look all that surprised to see him. If anything, she looks relieved. Emotion boils up in his chest immediately and he feels his throat constrict. 

 

“You know her?” Kirkbride asks, gesturing to Scully, and Mulder nods. “Great, then show her where Kissop sits so I can call the fucking courier service and tell them to fire that lazy asshat before I strangle him.”

 

Scully walks towards him and he turns wordlessly to show her out of Kirkbride’s office and down the hall to where Kissop sits. His heart is beating slowly but firmly, his pulse resounding in his ears. What is she doing here? Did she come here to see him? And if so, why? When they arrive at Kissop’s desk, Scully hands her the file and they exchange words that Mulder doesn’t bother to listen to. Then Scully looks at him hesitantly and slowly turns to walk away, towards the exit. He feels suspended, unsure if he can believe his own eyes that she is really here, and entirely conflicted over what to do about it if she is. He’s spent nine months trying to forget her, but she’s as real and alive as ever, standing before him. His self-protective instinct says to let her go, but his heart says to run after her. 

 

“Quit standing here like a dumbass and go talk to her,” Kissop orders him, clearly picking up on some tension though she doesn’t have the faintest idea what’s causing it. 

 

Shaken from his daze, Mulder follows Scully into the hallway. 

 

“Scully,” he calls out, and she stops walking but doesn’t turn around. When he catches up to her, he touches her shoulder and she turns to face him with wet eyes. 

 

They stand there for a moment, looking at one another, an expectant feeling hanging over them. He wants to touch her, to feel the press of her body against his again, but he doesn’t dare. That would seem like a relapse, of sorts. 

 

“Would you have coffee with me?” she finally speaks, her voice small and unsure. It’s an invitation she is not at all confident he will accept. 

 

“Okay,” he answers, and they walk out of the building side by side, silently. 

 

They seem to understand without saying so that Mulder will lead them to where they ought to go, which is a little cafe called Burial Grounds just a block from the front doors of the Hoover Building. They stand in line stoically, tension crackling between them like static as they order something that will occupy their hands and give them a safe place to avert their eyes while they talk. They sit at a small table near the door and wait, glimpsing at each other’s faces and then away, summoning courage. Because this was at Scully’s invitation, it seems like she should have the floor. 

 

“Ethan and I aren’t together anymore,” she finally blurts out, and his first instinct is to look at her hand, which is indeed bare of any jewelry. Next he looks at her face, considering her expression and whether she takes this to be good news or bad. She looks pained, but not about what she’s just said. She’s had this look on her face since he first spotted her in Kirkbride’s office. He’s unsure if he should be offering congratulations or condolences, and irritated that he’s being put in the position to figure it out, so he says nothing. 

 

“I’m sure that I’m just about the last person you want to see,” she continues, her ocean irises tracing the logo printed on her cup. It wasn’t a question, but if it were he’d tell her that she’s the only person he wants to see, the only one he ever thinks about. The reason he can’t sleep and, when he does, the only thing he dreams about. “If it’s okay, there are some things I’d like to say to you. I understand if you don’t want to hear them.”

 

She flicks her eyes up to meet his for a moment and he nods softly, keeping his expression neutral. She returns her gaze to the skull and crossbones bearing the name of the coffee shop. 

 

“I have always believed that life is about making the right choices. That we are presented with an ongoing series of options, opportunities and situations, and that we are tasked with determining the right choice that will put us on the path towards the best possible life. But as of late,” she pauses to take a sip of her coffee, stealing a glance at him before she continues, “I’ve come to believe that there is actually only one choice. One path we’re supposed to be on, and there are signs along the way to pay attention to. The choices might not always make sense at the time, but in the grand scheme of things, they are the ones you need to make in order to have the best possible life. Or the right life, the one you’re supposed to have.”

 

She pauses and slides her hand across the table, covering his with her own. The soft warmth of her skin electrifies him a little, sending a flush to his belly. She brings her eyes up to meet his, her brows knit with emotion as her chin gently puckers. She’s so beautiful it physically hurts. 

 

“I ignored the signs,” she says tightly. “I made the wrong choice, Mulder. I thought I was doing the right thing, the best thing, but I was wrong. I’m so sorry that I hurt you.”

 

He feels his chest tighten, a telltale precursor to tears, and he looks away from her. Why is she doing this? To make herself feel better? She pulls her hand back and sniffs, then stands and slings her purse over her shoulder. 

 

“Thank you for having coffee with me,” she says, and then he watches her leave. He sits there, staring at the pink lipstick that stains the rim of her cup, wishing she’d given him some more time to absorb it all. Wishing she’d never made the wrong choice. 




Chapter Text

Finally, after fifteen minutes of staring at her mostly full coffee cup, Mulder tosses both their drinks in the trash and trudges back to the Hoover building. He had plans to work late, but seeing Scully makes focusing on work impossible so he goes home to lie on the couch and stare at the ceiling instead, replaying their one-sided conversation over and over. Upon reflection, he realizes that he didn’t speak a single word to her other than her name. He was paralyzed, his feelings for her in direct conflict with his desire to never again feel the way he felt after she left his apartment that final time. He wishes that he’d asked her what she wanted from him, why she was there. 

 

The phone rings and he rolls off the couch to retrieve it from his desk. 

 

“Hello?”

 

“Will, I’m surprised you’re home. I was expecting to leave you a message.”

 

He smiles at the coincidence of Valerie calling him at this exact moment; she always seems to intuit when he needs to hear from her. Like he does with everyone, he had directed her to call him by his last name when they met. She did so for a while, but when things took a turn towards the intimate she informed him that she could not call a man she was sleeping with “Mulder” and sought to find an alternate moniker, Fox being out of the question. He was Maverick for a bit, then Sly, and for a brief moment Doug (he was never clear on the origin of that one). Ultimately, she went with his middle name, William, and finally shortened it to Will. 

 

“Oh, and why’s that? My bustling social calendar?” he retorts, finding his way back to the couch and sitting heavily. 

 

Valerie snorts. “More like your hopeless addiction to work. How are you? It’s been too long.”

 

Mulder sighs. “I’m...okay.”

 

“That bad, huh? You wanna talk about it?”

 

He considers the question. Talking to his ex-girlfriend about another woman seems a bit uncouth. “I’m not sure it’s something you’d want to weigh in on.”

 

“Girl trouble, then?” she says with a smile in her voice. 

 

“Something like that, yeah.”

 

“Spill it,” she demands. 

 

He tells her everything, about meeting Scully, about getting to know her, falling in love with her. He spares some of the gory details on their sexual encounter and her visit the next morning. He finishes on seeing her that day, and the reason he begged off work early. This is the most he’s shared with anyone about Scully, The Gunmen being great friends, but not the sort you seek dating advice from. It feels good to get it all out. 

 

“Damn, Will. That’s a lot. Shouldn’t you be happy, though, after seeing her today?” He can hear the crunch of potato chips as she speaks, ever the dedicated snacker. 

 

“It was good to see her in a sense, but it also feels a bit like a step backward. Like I’ve lost progress in the effort to move on.” He’s lying down now, one leg kicked over to rest on the coffee table and Priscilla curled up on his belly. 

 

“I don’t get it,” Valerie says deadpan.

 

“What do you mean?” he asks. 

 

“You’ve been pining over this woman for the better part of a year, and she turns up to tell you she’s single and she realizes that she should have chosen you all along. That’s somewhat of a fairy tale ending, is it not? Aside from the whole cheating-on-her-fiancé-part, I guess.”

 

“No, Val, she said that getting involved with me was a mistake, which I already knew. If anything she was rubbing it in, which seems uncharacteristically cruel.” He runs a hand down Priscilla’s back and she cracks an irritated eye at him until he stops. 

 

“Oh my god, Will,” Valerie replies, pulling the phone away from her cheek and sighing in exasperation. “You know, for all that fancy education your parents paid for, you’re really dense sometimes.”

 

“Well then by all means, enlighten me.”

 

“She said she ignored the signs and made the wrong choice. She’s divorced now. The marriage was the wrong choice, you dolt. That other guy was the wrong choice. The signs were telling her you were the right one.”

 

Mulder sits up suddenly, Priscilla clinging to his chest in a last-ditch attempt not to get dumped on the floor and piercing his skin painfully. She ends up on the couch beside him.

 

“How sure are you about that?” he asks, his heart starting to race. 

 

“Pretty damn sure. The way you describe her, she sounds like a thoughtful person. I don’t see what motivation she’d have to reiterate to you that what happened was a mistake; she’d already made that clear in the first go-round. The only reason she’d want to say all that to you is if she realized she was wrong. She wanted to set the record straight, and apologize. Not for what happened with you, but for choosing the other guy.” He can hear the slurp of her eating something like soup in between sentences, the wet smacks making this revelation sound like an offhand comment. 

 

He’s quiet for a long moment, replaying his interaction with Scully today through the lense of her wishing she’d walked away from Ethan, that she’d chosen him. He closes his eyes. Does he dare hope that Valerie is right?

 

“You still there, Will?” she asks impatiently. 

 

“Yeah, yeah I’m here. I’m just...trying to wrap my head around all this.”

 

“Well, I gotta run, so hopefully you can do your ruminating solo. I didn’t even get to tell you the reason I called.” He can hear her up and moving about, opening and closing drawers and cupboards. 

 

“Shit, you’re right. Sorry. What’s up?”

 

“I’m pregnant,” she says, and then waits a beat before adding “it’s not yours, if that’s where your brain is going. We haven’t slept together in almost two years, you may recall.”

 

“Uh, yeah...yeah I do recall that seeing as I haven’t slept with anyone in almost two years. Are you...should I be offering congratulations? This is a good thing?” He’s hesitant, unsure if they’ve reached a stage of life where a pregnancy is happy news. 

 

“Yeah, it’s a good thing. I’ve been seeing this guy for a little over six months. It wasn’t planned, but we’re excited. The relationship is still pretty new, obviously, but I think I can see myself growing old on a porch swing with him.” There’s a smile in her voice, a dreamy contentedness that makes his chest ache. It’s the reason they broke up, so they might each have a chance at something like this. He hopes he’ll have his chance too. 

 

“That’s great, Val. I’m happy for you,” he says with a tight voice. 

 

“Thanks, Will. Sounds like you found your person, too. You just gotta go out and get her.”

 

“Yeah, I guess I do.”

 

“What does she call you, by the way?”

 

“She calls me Mulder.”

 

Valerie laughs softly. “Must be fate.”




 

 

The days since seeing Mulder have been dreary, both in terms of the weather and her mood. She has already lectured Missy repeatedly over her terrible advice to see him again, opening up fresh wounds and sealing shut doors that she had previously held out hope might open again. The morose look on his face as she admitted that she wished she’d chosen him was a kick to the gut. It was too late, far too late, and he wasn’t able to forgive her. Though it’s what she knows she deserves, it still hurts. 

 

She sits in the clean and quiet autopsy bay, filling out paperwork that she tends to reserve for the end of her days. She’s been working more overtime lately, in no rush to return to an empty apartment and be alone with her thoughts and self recrimination. The idea of dating seems obscene, and yet she can admit that she’s lonely. But not lonely for just anyone; she wants only the one person she knows she will never have. 

 

“Excuse me,” calls out a smooth baritone from behind her, and she turns on her stool to see Mulder there. His charcoal grey suit and white dress shirt stand in contrast against his red tie, one hand in his pocket in an attempt to be casual. The cool bravado she saw in him before is absent, replaced with something vulnerable and raw. She feels adrenaline rush through her limbic system, stealing from her the ability to speak. 

 

“I’m looking for the pathologist on duty,” he continues, and she feels a rock in her gut. He had to come here for work, and see her again. She feels guilty for existing in a space that he is forced to enter. 

 

“I’m the pathologist on duty,” she responds regretfully. 

 

He approaches her cautiously, taking the stool beside her without invitation, and considers her for a moment. With a look of trepidation, he holds out his hand and she gives him a quizzical look.

 

“Fox Mulder,” he says, his green eyes so earnest and open. There is no anger, no resentment. 

 

“Dana Scully,” she replies, her voice catching as she understands, slipping her hand into his. 

 

They are starting over. A clean slate. A new chance to get it right. 

 

“You don’t look like a Dana,” he says, and there’s just a hint of playfulness in his voice. 

 

She laughs, her mouth smiling while her eyes glaze over with tears. Their hands still clasped, he pulls her close, her stool rolling into the space between his knees as he wraps his arms around her shoulders. She should be embarrassed by this unprofessional display out in the open, but the only feeling she can muster is relief at the smell of his cologne and the press of his chest into her cheek. How many nights has she mourned the loss of this? Hundreds. Perhaps last night will be the final time. 

 

“Would you like to get coffee with me?” he asks against her hair and she laughs again, nodding as her cheek brushes his shoulder. “Are you free now?” he adds. 

 

She pulls back and looks at him, his eyes shining back at her with hope they’d both given up on. 

 

“Yes, I’m free,” she answers. 




Chapter Text

She can’t stop smiling. Her cheeks ache and her mascara has worn off from all the happy tears. She’s driving North, headed home from Quantico, high on hope and the smell of Mulder’s skin. 

 

Their coffee date had been short and a little bit awkward at first, both unsure if they should talk about the past or just move forward. Asking what you’ve each been up to for the last nine months is a loaded question when you’ve spent them missing each other, or part of it married to someone else. He asked tentatively what happened with Ethan and she gave him a watered down version of her decision to leave. When she mentioned that it took place just after the new year, his eyebrows had lifted in surprise, knowing that she waited so long to get in touch with him. 

 

“I figured you hated me after what I did to you,” she’d confessed, eyes on the table. 

 

He’d scooted his chair around to her side, taking her hands in both of his and kissing her knuckles reverently. 

 

“I could never hate you,” he had said with such conviction that her eyes welled with fresh tears. The gift of absolution was not one she ever expected to receive from him, but here he was offering it, no strings attached.

 

She’d walked him back to his car and they made plans to have dinner that weekend, a real date. Then they’d both just stood there, needing something more but unsure exactly what. Finally, he pulled her into an embrace and she found the perfect home for her head just under his chin, her arms wrapping around his waist as he enveloped her shoulders. They fit together in an odd way, like disproportionate puzzle pieces that still manage to lock into place. She sighed deeply, relaxing into him and nuzzling against his neck. His pulse fluttered at the bridge of her nose and she had the distinct feeling that she could melt into him, be absorbed by him, and it would never be close enough. Her chest ached with wanting more, so much more, but there would be time for that later. Rushing things hadn’t benefitted them in the past and she wasn’t about to mess this up again. Eventually, they’d reluctantly peeled themselves apart from each other and bid farewells. 

 

When she arrives on Missy’s doorstep, there are tears in her eyes but a beaming smile on her mouth. She sobs against her sister's shoulder as she’s done so many times these recent months, but this time it’s with unadulterated joy and relief. 

 

How lucky is she, to have another chance?




 

 

From: fmulder@fbi.gov

Sent: April 17, 1997 10:14am

To: dscully@fbi.gov

Subject: Hi

 

I have absolutely no reason to email you other than the fact that I can’t stop thinking about you. I’m counting down the seconds until Saturday. 





From: dscully@fbi.gov

Sent: April 17, 1997 12:50pm

To: fmulder@fbi.gov

Subject: RE:Hi

 

I’m glad you emailed me. I’m very much looking forward to Saturday as well. What should I wear, by the way?

 

You better be careful. Now that I’ve met your boss I have good reason to think it would not behoove you to slack off on the job. 





From: fmulder@fbi.gov

Sent: April 17, 1997 1:03pm

To: dscully@fbi.gov

Subject: RE:RE:Hi

 

Don’t worry about Kirkbride, he’s all bark and only about 60% bite. I’ve spent the last two years kissing his ass so I can do as I please, including emailing beautiful women all day instead of working. 

 

You should dress for something fancy. Now that I can take you out on a proper date, I plan to go obscenely overboard. You’ve been forewarned. 





From: dscully@fbi.gov

Sent: April 17th, 1997 4:26pm

To: fmulder@fbi.gov

Subject: RE:RE:RE:Hi

 

Women? As in plural? 





From: fmulder@fbi.gov

Sent: April 17, 1997 5:01pm

To: dscully@fbi.gov

Subject: RE:RE:RE:RE:Hi

 

Oh dear god, no. WOMAN. Singular. That being you. 

 

I find jealousy insanely attractive, by the way. Consider it a character flaw. 






From: dscully@fbi.gov

Sent: April 18, 1997 9:13am

To: fmulder@fbi.gov

Subject: RE:RE:RE:RE:RE:Hi

 

Noted. 

 

I have back to back classes on Fridays so I won’t see your response until later, but did you want to meet somewhere tomorrow, or are you picking me up?




From: fmulder@fbi.gov

Sent: April 18, 1997 9:34am

To: dscully@fbi.gov

Subject: RE:RE:RE:RE:RE:RE: Hi

 

I’d love to pick you up, if that’s okay. What’s your address? Can I come by at 6?

 

Now that I know it’s fruitless to sit around and wait for your response, I suppose I’ll get some work done. Thanks for that. 




From: dscully@fbi.gov

Sent: April 18, 1997 4:46pm

To: fmulder@fbi.gov

Subject: RE:RE:RE:RE:RE:RE:RE:Hi

 

Six sounds perfect. I’m at 3170 West 53 Rd, Apartment 35 in Georgetown. 

 

I hope you got some work done. See you tomorrow. 

Chapter Text

“I still think you should wear the blue one,” Missy says from her spot lying on Dana’s bed, having long ago tired of the lengthy debate over what she should wear for her date with Mulder. 

 

It’s now 5:30 and while her hair and makeup have been meticulously complete for over an hour, she’s found herself unable to decide on a dress. 

 

“I was wearing that when Ethan proposed to me, Missy. It’s tainted,” she replies with a glare, alternately holding up a red dress that hits just above the knee and has spaghetti straps, and a black one that is ankle length and has a halter top. 

 

Missy rolls onto her side with an exasperated sigh. “It’s just a dress, Dana. And the man is already in love with you, I doubt he cares that much about what you’re wearing. You’re overthinking it, Sis. Though I think I do have some sage in my bag if you want me to smudge it,” she adds helpfully.

 

Dana gives her sister a pleading look. 

 

“Fine. Wear the red one,” she acquiesces, moving to sit up. “I better get out of here before he shows up,” she says, and the second the words leave her mouth they hear a soft rapping on the door. They look at each other, Dana still in her bra panties, and then Missy stands. “I’ll let him in, you get dressed.”

 

Missy pulls the bedroom door closed behind her and answers just as Mulder knocks for a second time. He gives her a quizzical look and turns to check the number on the apartment. 

 

“You’ve got the right one, I’m Dana’s sister, Melissa. We met once,” Missy says as she extends her hand. 

 

Mulder takes it, nodding with recognition. “Right, I remember. Uh, is Scully, I mean Dana, here?”

 

Missy gives him a sympathetic frown. “No, I’m sorry. She changed her mind.”

 

Mulder’s expression falls until he hears Scully call out from behind her “Missy, don’t be a jerk!” 

 

She crosses the living room, pausing by the couch to pull a shoe the rest of the way over her heel, and then arrives in the doorway. Mulder is dressed in a black suit and crisp white shirt, his dark grey tie patterned with little triangles. His hair looks freshly cut, barely long enough to run your fingers through, and he’s holding a small bouquet of flowers. He looks delicious. 

 

“I think that’s my cue to leave,” Missy says with a mischievous smile, grabbing her satchel from the dining room table and slipping past Mulder out the open door. “You two kids have fun,” she calls over her shoulder. 

 

Dana rolls her eyes at her sister's remark, then turns to see Mulder staring at her with an oddly intense expression, his lips slightly parted. 

 

“What?” she asks with genuine concern, looking down at her dress to make sure nothing is out of place.  

 

He shakes his head gently as if pulling himself from a reverie. “You look...you look incredible. I mean you always look incredible but now that I’m allowed to tell you that you look incredible…” he drags his eyes down to her shoes and back up to her face where he finds a soft smile on her lips. “You’re so beautiful,” he completes. 

 

She looks away sheepishly, pressing her lips together to hide the grin that it would feel too conceited to let show. “Thank you,” she says quietly, then meets his eye. “You look very handsome yourself.”

 

They look at each other for a beat, and she can tell he wants to kiss her. She wonders if he will, and if she should let him. They’ve already done much more than kiss, but everything still feels so new. Starting over indeed. 

 

“Oh, these are for you,” he blurts out, breaking the tension as he offers her the flowers. 

 

“Thank you, they’re beautiful,” she replies, taking them and going to the kitchen for a vase. She can sense his eyes on her back as she fills it with water then sets it on the table. She feels a little tingle in response, one she hasn’t felt in a very, very long time. “Shall we?” she asks as she grabs a sweater from the closet, avoiding his eye lest she throw him down on her sofa and never make it to dinner at all. 

 

He steps just outside the door into the hall, so close as she locks it behind them that she can smell his aftershave. When they turn to leave, his hand drifts to rest on her lower back and it sends a little shockwave through her, and a flush of warmth between her thighs. Knowing that they can actually do all the things she’s imagined is exciting and scary, and she wonders how long she can wait. Wonders how long she wants to. 

 


 

 

He steals glances at every stoplight or stretch of straight road, basically any chance he gets to look away without causing an accident, to take in the stunning beauty in the passenger seat beside him. That little red dress hugs her curves in all the right places, the pale swell of her breasts peeking out and rising gently with each breath. He shifts in his seat, willing his dick to behave and not make him look like a sex crazed lunatic. Though he is pretty sex starved, so it wouldn’t be an entirely untrue assessment. Every bit of self control he’d mustered when they spent time together last year has worn thin, and though he knows that she is no longer off-limits, that doesn’t mean she’s ready to get physical. He would have waited forever for her, so what’s a few more days, or weeks. Months? He really hopes it’s not months. 

 

They pull up in front of the restaurant and he jogs around to the passenger side to open the door for her before the valet can get there. She gives him a shy little smile when he offers his hand to help her out of the car, pulling her to stand in the small space between himself and the doorframe so that the front of their bodies are nearly flush. She tilts her face up towards him, her tall shoes still only bringing her to his shoulder. He lets his eyes fall to her mouth, which is bare of any lipstick but naturally pink and pouty. He could kiss her now and not smudge anything at all. 

 

“Sir?” the valet interrupts, holding out his hand in request of the keys. 

 

The spell broken, he gives over the keys and takes Scully’s hand, her slim fingers threading between his own as her thumb brushes against his palm, a secret acknowledgement of the moment they shared. He smiles to himself as he leads her to the front doors of Marcel’s, looking over to see her curious appraisal of the venue. She clearly hasn’t been here before, which makes him happy. They are led by the host to a small table near the window draped in white linens and she gives him a skeptical glance as he pulls out her chair. 

 

“Are you always this chivalrous? Don’t set expectations you can’t live up to, Mulder.”

 

He chuffs a laugh. “I actually am, it’s not an act. I was raised in a very upscale, old money environment. I can also tell you which fork to use for each course, if you’re interested.”

 

She lifts her eyebrows in surprise, watching him curiously as he takes the seat beside her, not across. He doesn’t want an entire table between them.

 

“Really? Where was that?”

 

“Martha’s Vineyard,” he answers plainly, not ever wanting that to sound like something he’s bragging about. “What about you, where are you from?” He changes the subject as quickly as possible. 

 

She makes a face. “Nowhere in particular. I was born in Annapolis but my father was in the Navy so we moved a lot. The place he was stationed the longest was San Diego so that area feels just a little bit like home, but we’ve also spent quite a bit of time on the East Coast. We lived in Japan for a bit when I was a baby, but I don’t remember it.”

 

The waiter comes by to take their drink orders and Mulder orders a bottle of red he assumes they’ll have without looking at the menu. He watches out of the corner of his eye as Scully opens her menu and her eyes expand in shock. She closes it quietly and waits for the waiter to leave before leaning towards him. 

 

“Mulder,” she says very seriously, as though she’s about to deliver devastating news, “that bottle of wine is three hundred dollars.”

 

He leans further towards her so their foreheads nearly touch. “Scully,” he says in an equally serious tone, “I warned you I was going to go overboard.”

 

He watches her try to suppress a surprised smile as she leans back, eyeing him appraisingly. “You’re quite the enigma, Mulder. With your fancy country club upbringing and expensive taste in wine in contrast to aliens and worn down bachelor pads.”

 

“Worn down?” he says in mock offense, “Priscilla will be horrified to hear that you said that.” The full-toothed smile he gets in response makes his heart swell, even if he suspects it has more to do with the mention of Priscilla than his winning sense of humor.

 

Wine and water are delivered, and Scully tries to order the cheapest thing on the menu before he insists that she wants the surf and turf and she acquiesces with a pained look. 

 

“I think you’ve mischaracterized who among us is the enigma, Scully,” he picks up after their menus are collected. “I’m not sure I’ve ever encountered another Navy brat brainiac babe who cuts up dead people for a living.”

 

“Really?” she asks, eyebrows furrowed as though this is surprising to hear. “I’ll have to invite you to our next chapter meeting.”

 

“You’re also funny, add that to your list of enigmatic qualities,” he retorts, and she shrugs demurely. “Speaking of enigmas, there was a case I did a little poking around on, about some suspicious deaths in a community of carnies. There was a sideshow act where a man who was tattooed head to toe in jigsaw puzzle pieces ate live animals. He was sometimes called The Conundrum, and other times he went by The Enigma.”

 

Her eyes light up at the mention of his old work. “Was this an x file?” she asks excitedly.

 

“Not technically, no. This was just a couple years ago so the files were closed, but every now and then I get a lead and take some time off work to run it down.”

 

Scully looks a little disappointed. “Have you ever tried to have the X files reopened?” she asks, taking a sip of her wine and making a little expression that he takes as her being impressed. 

 

“Sure, especially at first. The people at the heart of these government-run conspiracies don’t want the files open again, but the main reason bureau leadership gives for now is that I don’t have a partner, and they won’t let me work on them alone.”

 

“Couldn't they just assign you a partner? I’m not a field agent, but I was under the impression they somewhat randomly pair people off.”

 

He smiles sheepishly. “In theory, yes. But I haven’t had much success with the partners I’ve been assigned in the past. One might say that I don’t play well with others.”

 

“I find that hard to believe,” she says with a skeptical look, “you strike me as fairly easy to get along with.”

 

“Maybe so, Scully, but there’s a significant difference you’re omitting,” he leans forward and lets the tips of his fingers brush her bare knee. “I like you.”

 

There’s that million dollar grin again. This night is going so much better than he possibly could have hoped. 

 


 

 

She could not have possibly imagined how good it would feel to be with him and truly be with him . No boundaries, no barriers, no lines to walk between what’s acceptable for ‘just friends.’ They openly flirt and smile at each other all through dinner, casually touching an arm or a leg, holding hands briefly a few times. She feels like a giddy schoolgirl and can’t recall the last time she felt this happy. So when the waiter collects their dessert plates and drops off the bill, she feels a little wave of sadness that the night is coming to an end. 

 

She knows that if she invites him to come up to her apartment, he will say yes. And she knows that if she does that, they will end up having sex. She would very, very much like to have sex with him. But she’s also worried that she’s rushing things and potentially ignoring possible red flags or other signs that they might not be compatible because she wants this to work so badly. She decides she’s not going to invite him up. 

 

They stand on the curb outside Marcel’s, waiting for the valet to bring the car around, and she crosses her arms and shivers against the cool evening air. Mulder notices and slides his arm around her shoulders, rubbing his palm briskly over her upper arm. Not satisfied that he’s done enough, he then moves to stand behind her and opens his suit jacket, pressing his chest to her back as he wraps the jacket around her, folding them both up inside it. He’s warm and firm and she lets her weight rest against him, the back of her head tucked into the crook of his neck. She sighs contentedly, feeling safe and cared for. It’s a feeling she’s really missed, being single. 

 

On the short drive back to her apartment, he slips his hand over the console to rest on the seat next to her, an invitation, and she presses her palm against his, feeling the ache of missing him before he’s even gone. He pulls up to the curb in front of her building and they don’t let go, looking at each other in the dim glow of the street lights. 

 

“Can I walk you to your door?” he asks, and she feels a mischievous smile creep over her lips. She nods. 

 

They walk slowly, hand in hand, through the front doors and up the elevator. When they arrive at her door, she unlocks but doesn’t open it, leaning her back against the frame instead. 

 

“I had a really nice time, Mulder. Thank you,” she says, her gaze lingering on his hooded green eyes and that full bottom lip. 

 

“Me too,” he replies with a shy smile, stepping forward and placing his fingertips cautiously on her hips. 

 

Her pelvis tips toward him unconsciously, seeking out the contact she has every intention of denying herself for now. 

 

“Can I...would it be okay if I kissed you?” he asks, his eyes on her mouth. She opens it reflexively, tilting her chin up further.

 

He seems to take that as his answer, dipping his head to meet her at her level, and the pillowy press of his mouth against hers feels like such a relief she sighs audibly. His fingers on her hips press more firmly in response, pulling her gently towards him, closer still. She puts her hands on his forearms and slides them up until her fingers are gently scraping through the hair at the nape of his neck, and she feels his tongue slip out to taste hers. One of his hands leaves her hip and she feels it flutter over the side of her neck, cupping her jaw gently as they kiss slowly, languidly, like they have all the time in the world. His thumb brushes over the front of her throat and it somehow feels more intimate than if he were touching her in a more private place. To touch her in a vulnerable spot, one that can hurt and even kill someone, but to do it so tenderly feels erotic and exciting, and she takes his lip between her teeth and bites down gently to encourage him. He emits a little groan and arches his pelvis towards her, the stiff ridge of his erection grazing her belly. 

 

“Mulder,” she says between kisses. 

 

“Mmmmm,” he says in response, brushing his lips over the corner of her mouth. 

 

“I don’t...I think….we should probably say goodnight.”

 

He makes a little sound somewhere between a whine and a sigh, but pulls away from her. 

 

“I just...I don’t want to rush this,” she says earnestly, holding both his hands in hers. “I want to do things right this time.”

 

He nods, pulling her into an embrace. She has that feeling again, like she could crawl inside his chest cavity and make a home there, though this time it’s accessorized with an erection pressed against her. 

 

“Sorry about that,” he says without embarrassment, and she laughs. 

 

“I’ll take it as a compliment,” she replies, pulling away and reaching for the doorknob. 

 

“You really, really, should,” he retorts, and she opens the door, backing in slowly. Once she is fully inside and looking at him through the slim crack she’s wedged herself into as though she were trying to keep him out, he leans forward so his face is inches from hers. “One for the road?” he asks hopefully, and she nods. 

 

He presses his mouth against hers, chastely, no tongue, and holds it there for a very long time. Long enough that she starts to feel her resolve cracking. She pulls away. 

 

“Goodnight, Mulder,” she says in a sing-song voice, and he backs away from the door with a dopey smile. 

 

“Night, Scully,” he replies, not leaving until after she closes the door. She knows because she watches him through the peephole as he stands there smiling like a fool before looking up and possibly thanking the gods. Finally, he leaves. 

 

Goodnight indeed. It was such a good night. 



Chapter Text

From: fmulder@fbi.gov

Sent: April 21, 1997 8:57am

To: dscully@fbi.gov

Subject: When can I see you again?

 

[This message has no content]





From: dscully@fbi.gov

Sent: April 21, 1997 9:26am

To: fmulder@fbi.gov

Subject: RE:When can I see you again?

 

Will you be disappointed if I say this weekend? 





From: fmulder@fbi.gov

Sent: April 21, 1997 9:49am

To: dscully@fbi.gov

Subject: RE:RE:When can I see you again?

 

Yes and no. I respect your desire to take things slow and I’d never want to pressure you to do anything you’re not ready for. 

 

That said, if you told me I could see you today I’d gladly drop everything I’m doing and be there in record time. 





From: dscully@fbi.gov

Sent: April 21, 1997 12:13pm

To: fmulder@fbi.gov

Subject: RE:RE:RE:When can I see you again?

 

I appreciate your enthusiasm. Perhaps down the line we can get together on a weekday. For now, let’s stick to weekends. 

 

There’s something to be said for building anticipation, is there not?





From: fmulder@fbi.gov

Sent: April 21, 1997 1:16pm

To: dscully@fbi.gov

Subject: RE:RE:RE:RE:When can I see you again?

 

There is something to be said for building anticipation. Let the record show that I’ve been building anticipation for (checks watch) close to a year now so it’s somewhat of a Taj Mahal situation; a true masterpiece in dedication to a beautiful woman. 





From: dscully@fbi.gov

Sent: April 21, 1997 3:27pm

To: fmulder@fbi.gov

Subject: RE:RE:RE:RE:RE:When can I see you again?

 

You do realize the Taj Mahal is a mausoleum, right? It’s a bit of a macabre comparison, though I applaud your artful attempt to draw parallels between constructing a 35,000 square foot building and wanting to... (I’ll let you fill in your own blanks there).





From: fmulder@fbi.gov

Sent: April 21, 1997 4:09pm

To: dscully@fbi.gov

Subject: RE:RE:RE:RE:RE:RE:When can I see you again?

 

I’m shocked by your implications, Dr. Scully. I simply enjoy your company. 

 


 

She’s reading over Mulder’s most recent email, grinning like an idiot at the playful banter that’s become the highlight of her workdays, when she hears someone clear their throat. She turns to see a tall brunette woman standing in the doorway of her office, dressed in a brown pantsuit and white knit shirt. 

 

“Excuse me, I’m looking for the pathologist,” she says. 

 

“I’m the pathologist, how can I help you?” Dana replies as she locks the computer and turns her chair to face the woman. 

 

“I’m looking for some information regarding a few autopsies that were performed here a couple years ago, as part of an ongoing investigation.”

 

“Sure, I can help you with that,” Dana says as she stands and holds out her hand. “I’m Dana Scully, are you an agent?”

 

“Yes,” the woman replies, taking her hand in a gentle yet authoritative grip. “I’m Special Agent Monica Reyes.” She’s very pretty and has a calming presence that makes Dana like her immediately. 

 

“Come with me, Agent Reyes, and let’s see if we can find what you’re looking for.”

 

They make their way to the records area where files for the previous five years are stored, and Scully digs through them in search of three specific files that Reyes is looking for. 

 

“Do you work out of the Hoover Building?” Scully asks as she works, making conversation. 

 

“No, actually, I’m a recent transplant from the New Orleans field office. I’m working with VICAP now, helping with ritualistic crimes,” Reyes answers.

 

Dana cocks a curious eyebrow. “Ritualistic? How so?”

 

“I have a background in religious studies, but I found my niche in crimes that follow a ritual with origins in spirituality, cult activity, sometimes gang violence. With the prevalence of Hudu, Voodoo and Santeria in the Southeast, I was quite immersed in that at the New Orlean’s field office, but I was transferred here specifically to help with the case I need those files for, which has ritualistic elements.”

 

Dana nods in understanding, pulling one file free and setting it on top of the cabinet before moving to a different drawer. 

 

“This might sound strange, because we’ve only just met,” Reyes continues, “but I’m surprised someone like you would be in a profession like pathology, especially at the FBI where so many of your patients have met a violent end.”

 

“Someone like me?” Dana asks, eyeing Reyes skeptically. “What am I like, Agent Reyes?”

 

“Please, call me Monica,” she says with a soft touch to Dana’s forearm, “I just perceive you as having a very green aura, which tells me you’re someone who is very compassionate and attentive to the needs of others. That would typically make a line of work like this very difficult. Are you a Pisces, by chance?”

 

Dana stops the movement of her fingers flipping through the file cabinet and turns to look at Monica with a curious doubtfulness. 

 

“Yes. Though you had a little over 8% chance of guessing that correctly,” she says dryly.

 

“I’m sorry, Dana, I don’t mean to make you uncomfortable. I’m often told that my read on people is so accurate it’s spooky, but I promise I have no ulterior motives.” Her smile is genuine if not a bit pained, seeing that she’s inadvertently been off-putting.

 

Dana quirks a little smile. “It’s alright, Monica. I’m not one to reject spookiness outright, though I will admit that I don’t ascribe to most of that...line of thinking.”

 

She locates the last file and sets it on the stack, and then hands them to Monica. 

 

“I think this is it. Is there anything else I can help you with?”

 

“Um, no, not with the files. But, and forgive me for being forward, but would you like to get coffee or lunch sometime?” Monica asks, shifting the folders between her hands nervously. 

 

Scully blushes and opens her mouth to speak. She can’t help but flash back to the first time she met Mulder. Before she can get the words out, Monica speaks again. 

 

“Oh, just as friends, Dana, sorry. I’m realizing how that sounded. I’ve only just recently moved here and VICAP is a bit of a boy’s club. I’m really missing the female friendships I had at the New Orleans office.” Her cheeks are also now pink, and they smile at each other shyly. 

 

“Oh, sure, that sounds nice,” Dana replies. “There’s a little coffee shop a short walk from here that’s easy to get to on a lunch break.”

 

Monica sighs with relief. “Thank you, here’s my card, why don’t you email me and we can make formal plans.” She hands Scully her business card, which she slips into the pocket of her scrubs. 

 

“I will. Good luck on your case,” she says with a nod towards the folders in Monica’s hands, and they part ways. 





Chapter Text

Saturday at 5:00, she’s standing outside Mulder’s apartment door. When he’d proposed watching a movie, she questioned whether that was the best idea. She doesn’t have any particular reason for trying to hold off on things getting more physical, other than the lingering subconscious belief that nice girls don’t take their pants off before there’s a ring on their finger. That’s never a policy she’s stuck to in the past, but it still feels like they should wait a bit. Maybe it’s what happened before, their previous indiscretion, that makes her feel compelled to take things slow. Regardless of the motivation, spending time alone at one of their apartments is a surefire way to end up ditching her plans, along with her clothes.

 

Speaking of clothes, she’s worn jeans and a T-shirt, decidedly more casual than their last date. She’s also put on a black lace bra and matching boy short panties underneath, just in case. She has no intention of Mulder seeing her underwear, but on the off chance she changes her mind, she’d hate for him to see her granny panties. She also shaved her legs and her bikini line, just in case. Taking a deep breath and promising herself she will exercise exceptional self control, she knocks.

 

When he answers, she instantly feels her resolve falter. He’s wearing jeans and a white T shirt, bare feet, and a beaming smile. He immediately steps forward and slips his arms around her waist, pulling her close and kissing her like she’s just returned from sea. He smells clean and masculine, the stubble on his chin scraping her cheek and summoning a groan from her throat, which she successfully stifles. Finally he pulls back, looking at her with soft, affectionate eyes. 

 

“Hey,” he says with a little smirk, and she smiles at him like they’ve just shared a secret. 

 

“Hi,” she replies, resting her palms on his upper arms. 

 

“Sorry to accost you before you’ve even gotten inside,” he says sheepishly, his arms still wrapped around her, “I’ve been waiting all week to do that.”

 

She chuckles and he releases her, slipping his hand into hers and leading her into the living room. When they enter, Priscilla stands from her place on the couch and arches her back with a meow, then paces excitedly with her eyes trained on Scully. 

 

“Hi Priscilla,” she greets the cat, sitting on the couch where Priscilla climbs right into her lap and starts purring noisily. Scully laughs and runs her hand from Priscilla’s head down to her tail, smiling as the cat closes her eyes contentedly and drool drips from the corner of her mouth. 

 

“She missed you,” Mulder says as he looks on, smiling with his hands crossed over his chest. “She doesn’t drool for just anyone.”

 

“I missed her too,” Scully says to Priscilla, then turns to look at Mulder with a soft smile. “I missed both of you.”

 

They hold eye contact for a beat, then he looks away, walking towards the kitchen. “I was just going to order pizza, if that’s okay.”

 

“Sounds perfect,” she replies, looking around. Not much has changed since she was last here, though he’s hung a couple new things up on the walls. 

 

“What do you like on your pizza?” he calls from the kitchen.

 

“Surprise me,” she replies. She’s not a very picky eater and can’t think of any topping that would be a dealbreaker. 

 

“I like your style,” he says in response, and she can hear the smile in his voice. 

 

There is the muffled sound of him calling the order in, then he returns with a beer in each hand.

 

“I rented two movies,” he says as he sits down close beside her, their thighs touching. “Take your pick between Twister, or Mars Attacks.”

 

“I saw Twister in the theater when it came out, but I can’t say that I’ve seen, nor did I ever intend to see, Mars Attacks,” she replies with a knowing smile, taking the open beer he holds out to her. 

 

“You gotta see it, Scully, it’s an instant classic,” he says with a tone that she can’t pin down as facetious or not. 

 

“I guess we better watch it then,” she says with an equally ambiguous tone. 




 

 

Six empty beer bottles are lined up along the far end of the coffee table, a pizza box sitting open in front of them. Mulder is lying with his head propped up on the arm rest of the couch, one foot on the floor and the other stretched out in front of him. Scully is lying on her stomach against his chest, her cheek resting on his pectoral and her arms wrapped around his rib cage. It was a slow progression towards them ending up fully entwined like this, her belly pressed against his groin, and he has one eye on the TV and the rest of his attention concentrated on not getting hard. 

 

The movie, which is even more campy and stupid than he remembered, is nearly over, and he hopes she doesn’t hop up and leave right away. Looking down over the crown of her autumnal head and along the narrow expanse of her back, he sees a sliver of skin exposed between her jeans and T-shirt and his cock stirs. He slides the hand that had been resting in the middle of her back lower until his fingertips meet with her bare skin and she shifts a tiny bit, but not uncomfortably. Slowly, causally, while keeping his eyes on the screen, he begins to trace his fingers in slow circles on her lower back. Her skin is unbelievably soft, supple and warm. As his movements continue, he increases the size of his circles, inching her T-shirt up higher to expose more skin, and she pulls in a deep breath and holds it for a moment before she lets it out slowly, concluding with a sound that’s almost like a hiss. She shifts again and her stomach rubs against the swelling lump of his erection, pronounced enough now that she may be able to feel it. He dips the tips of his fingers under the waist of her jeans, running them from one hip to the other, and she lifts her head, propping her chin on his chest and looking up at him. Her expression is unreadable; she definitely isn’t upset, but she’s not smiling, either.

 

“Your skin is so soft,” he offers, as though it were an excuse for why he’s touching her, as though it would not be enough to say he’s doing it simply because he wants to. 

 

She shimmies up until they’re nose to nose, the friction sending a jolt to his groin, and he resists the urge to thrust up against her. 

 

“I moisturize,” she says plainly, her breath hot against his lips smelling like hops and garlic. 

 

She drags her lips over his softly, side to side, then kisses him fully with a contented sigh. His hands find the small of her back and push up underneath her T-shirt, sliding over more of that silky softness, and he does thrust up against her, though gently. 

 

They kiss slowly, in no rush, his hands cupping her ass and gliding down her sides, up into her hair and then back again. Her own arms are tucked up underneath her, propping her up as she kisses him, though she shifts her pelvis against his erection gratuitously, not in any way pretending that it’s not intentional. 

 

“Mmmmm, Mulder,” she hums into his mouth, flicking at his tongue with her own and then sucking on his lower lip.

 

“Hmm?” he asks in response, gripping her ass and pulling her firmly against his groin as he pushes it against her. 

 

“I don’t think we should have sex. Not yet,” she croons into his ear, pulling the lobe between her teeth gently. 

 

“Okay, of course, whatever you’re comfortable with,” he answers back with a pained groan, his body not on the same page as his brain. “If you want to stop, let’s stop.”

 

“I didn’t say I wanted to stop,” she replies, kissing down the side of his neck until she comes to the place where it meets his shoulder. “I just said I don’t want to have sex. There are a lot of things we can do that aren’t sex.” She slips her arm free from beneath her torso, snaking it down between them and rubbing it firmly over his aching hard-on. 

 

“Jesus Christ,” he hisses, flexing his hips wildly as he seeks more contact. 

 

She brings her lips back to meet his, peppering small kisses as she strokes him over his jeans. 

 

“How about,” she begins breathily, “one of us keeps our clothes on.”

 

“Okay,” he responds, sliding his hands around her hips to find the button of her jeans. 

 

She laughs a little and sits up on her knees between his thighs, just out of reach. 

 

“I was thinking maybe I would keep my clothes on,” she says in a playful tone, though her expression is bashful. 

 

“Oh,” he answers dumbly, trying to piece together what she’s saying. When her hands go to the fly of his jeans he sits up. “Wait, one second, why me?”

 

She tilts her head with a curious furrowed brow. “This may be the first time in recorded history that a man has objected to receiving rather than giving.”

 

He cocks his own head at her, mirroring her confusion. “I think you’ve been hanging around the wrong men.”

 

After a beat, they both break out into ironic smiles, realizing what they are arguing over. She leans forward, crawling up to kiss him. 

 

“If we were keeping score, which we are not, I would say I owe you one, Mulder.”

 

No matter that it was nine months ago, she’s referring to the one and only other time they’ve done more than kiss. She’s not wrong, but he doesn’t care. He loves making women come; it’s practically a hobby. 

 

He wants to object, but she already has his fly open, her tiny hand slipping underneath his boxers and gliding down the length of him. He groans and she kisses him again, stroking him slowly in the narrow space beneath his stiff jeans. She sits up and tugs at the waistband and he lifts his hips to help her before pulling his T-Shirt off over his head. Within fifteen seconds he’s naked, his ass sinking into the warmed leather of the couch and Scully’s hot little hand cradling his balls. 

 

“Can you take your shirt off?” he asks hopefully, “is that allowed?”

 

She smiles at him. “Let me consult the commissioner,” she says, then glances up and to the side. “Commissioner says yes,” she finishes, pulling her shirt over her head and revealing a black lace bra, her modest breasts pushed up deliciously within its cups. He feels his cock lurch in response and he reaches up to pull her on top of him, deftly unhooking the clasp and chucking the bra across the room. 

 

She sits up again, perched between his thighs topless, and lazily slides her hand up and down over his length. He stares slack jawed at her pale pink nipples, hardened into rose buds in the cool air of the room, and she gives him a devilish little grin before bending at the waist and taking him in her mouth. The wet heat of her is sudden and jarring, so overwhelming that he closes his eyes against the flashes of white hot pleasure as his hips buck uncontrollably. 

 

She plants her palms on his hip bones to hold him steady and moves up and down at a slow pace, her tongue sliding along the underside of his cock until the head is at her lips, where she swirls it around in a circular motion that makes him see stars. He opens his eyes, watching her through the curtain of her hair as his shaft disappears into her hot little mouth, the pink peaks of her nipples becoming visible at regular intervals. She tilts her chin up slightly and looks at him, meeting his eye before she lowers herself further than she had before, and he feels his head hit the soft flesh at the back of her throat before he slips just a little further, pressing into her pharynx. He stiffens and groans, the sensation different and somehow explicit, like he’s somewhere he’s not supposed to be. His hands hover near the sides of her head, gripping at air as he resists the urge to touch her, to control her movements. When one of them brushes against her scalp, she reaches up and takes it, pressing it into her hair and granting permission. He threads his other hand into her tresses and lets them glide with her as she moves up and down. Her fingernails scrape gently over the papery skin of his scrotum and he feels a tightening, coiling sensation that means he’s close. He lets his head fall back and enjoys the incredible feeling of her tongue hot and wet, her lips firm, her hands gentle. When he’s approaching the point of release, he lifts his head and whispers hoarsely, “Scully, I’m gonna come,” and removes his hands from her head so she can pull away. 

 

She does not pull away. 

 

Instead, she doubles her efforts, sliding up and down fast and firm, squeezing his balls gently and sucking hard on the upstrokes. Wanting to make sure she still has the opportunity to pull away, he tells her again, “fuck, I’m coming,” and she keeps right on pace as an explosion echoes from his balls through his cock, waves of release stealing his breath as he goes rigid and then falls apart in a cascade of expletives, returning his hands to grab a fistful of her hair as she swallows him down, slowing but continuing her movements until he’s soft and no longer throbbing. 

 

She crawls up his body, gently resting against him with her chin on his chest, her breasts pressed against his bare skin, and waits for him to return to Earth. Finally, he settles his gaze on her, on those earnest blue eyes and that pink mouth that he now knows holds the secrets of the universe. He feels like he could cry, so instead he makes a lame joke. 

 

“Did it hurt?” he asks, running his hands over her bare back. 

 

She gives him a quizzical but amused expression. “The blow job?” she asks incredulously.

 

“No, when you fell from Heaven.”

 

She rolls her eyes and suppresses a smile as Priscilla springs unannounced from the floor and lands right on Scully’s jeans-clad ass, kneading the flesh a little before curling up for a snooze. 

 

Scully laughs gently, not wanting to disturb the cat. “Is this a thing cats do?” she asks amusedly. 

 

“Not really, you just have a great ass, I can’t hardly blame her,” he responds, and she smiles at the compliment. “You can’t leave now, we’re stuck like this,” he adds. “Priscilla can sleep forever, we may die here.”

 

Scully shrugs, sighing contentedly. “But what a way to go.”




Chapter Text

When she wakes, she momentarily can’t place where she is. The room is dim and there’s a soft whirring sound, a warm body tucked close against her back. Mulder’s apartment, she remembers. They’d decided to make it a double feature, collecting their clothes and switching out Mars Attacks for Twister . She must have drifted off at some point, with Mulder spooning her on the narrow couch, and the automatic rewind on the VCR kicked on when the movie ended. She pulls in a deep breath and his arm around her waist tightens momentarily. 

 

“Stay,” he croaks from behind her, sounding as though he had also fallen asleep. 

 

“I can’t, Mulder,” she replies, twisting her body around to face him, her nose pressed into his chest. 

 

“Why?” he asks, brushing his palm up and down over her back.

 

“Because, I shouldn’t.” She knows her tone isn’t all that convincing. 

 

“Says who?” he asks, though not indignantly. 

 

“Says…I don’t know. Me, I guess,” she replies in a defeated tone. 

 

He sighs, then pauses to consider his words. 

 

“I don’t want to pressure you. But the idea of not seeing you again for a week kind of makes me want to die.” His words are soft and measured, communicating honesty, not frustration. 

 

“That’s very dramatic,” she answers with a teasing lilt. 

 

“I know, I’m sorry. I’m pathetic.”

 

She worms up until she’s close enough to kiss him, pressing her lips to his cheek and then his mouth. 

 

“You’re not pathetic,” she says tenderly, “you’re actually very sweet. I’ll make you a deal; I’m not going to stay the night,” she quirks a smile at his dramatic frown, “but we can get dinner tomorrow, and if you want to have coffee one day this week, you can come down.” She gives him a hopeful smile. 

 

“That seems like a fair deal,” he says, kissing her forehead. “But if you get home, or wake up in the middle of the night, and realize you’ve made a horrible mistake, just call me. I’ll come right over.”

 

“I promise I will,” she says, then disentangles herself from his arms and collects her purse and shoes. She says goodbye to Priscilla, then bids a very long and very kiss-filled goodbye to Mulder before he finally releases his grip on her. As she waits for the elevator she hears the patter of his bare feet on the hallway floor and turns to see him skittering towards her, pulling her into one last kiss before he runs back to his apartment door, waving at her with a coy little smile. 

 

Once she’s buckled into her car, she lets out a deep breath. She’d barely made it out of there; if Mulder had asked one more time, kissed her once more on the couch, she might have caved. Might have stayed the night, and might have done who knows what else. She can easily see the strong potential for this budding relationship to fast track to being more serious than she feels ready for, and it scares her. She’s never felt this strongly about anyone so soon after becoming involved with them. Clearly he has a strong pull on her, given that she cheated on Ethan with him, it’s just a lot, and she’s a person who likes to think clearly and make rational decisions. When she’s with Mulder, she loses the ability to think rationally. 

 

When she’s home and tucked into bed, she does wish he were there, curled up behind her. Knowing she could call him and he’d be here in fifteen minutes is tempting, but she talks herself out of it. Not yet, not until she’s sure that this is more than just animal attraction. More than wanting to prove she didn’t destroy her relationship with Ethan over nothing. 

 

It has to be more. And she suspects that it will be. 

 


 

“Okay, spill it,” Missy says, and Dana looks at her with a mildly shocked expression, not even having fully taken her seat at the cafe with a mocha in hand before Missy gets down to business. 

 

“Hello to you, too, Missy. How was your evening?” she asks her sister with a facetious tone. 

 

“I hung around by myself and wondered what kind of action my little sister was getting that I wasn’t, so please, indulge me.”

 

Dana laughs and shakes her head, debating how much detail to give. 

 

“It was nice, we just watched a couple movies, ate pizza, drank beer.”

 

“...and?” Missy asks expectantly. 

 

“...and, we watched Mars Attacks and Twister ,” Dana answers, knowing that this is not the information Missy is asking for. 

 

Missy drops her head to the side with a frustrated glare. “Dana, quit being a prude, or I’ll just make up my own story and tell it to you right here in the coffee shop, I know you’d love that.”

 

Dana makes a face. “Okay, fine. Yes, we...fooled around. But we didn’t have sex.”

 

“Really, why not?” Missy questions incredulously. 

 

“Missy, it’s not that abnormal not to sleep with someone on the second date,” Dana retorts with an annoyed tone. 

 

“It is if they’ve already gone down on you and you’ve been obsessing over them for almost a year,” Missy shoots back. 

 

“Well, regardless of your unsolicited opinion,” Dana replies, “emphasis on unsolicited , I’m choosing to wait a bit, and there’s nothing wrong with that.”

 

“Fine, whatever floats your boat, Sis. Please elaborate on ‘fooled around’.” 

 

Dana scoffs. “We...kissed, and some other things. Why are you asking for all this detail, Missy? I don’t recall you ever asking me to be this explicit regarding my sex life with Ethan.”

 

Missy rolls her eyes. “I’m willing to bet Ethan was into missionary with the lights off. This Mulder guy has serious sexual energy, he seems like the kind of man who knows what he’s doing. When’s his birthday?”

 

Scully frowns at the memory. “October 13th,” she answers flatly. 

 

Missy shoots her a surprised expression, but suppresses it quickly. “Oh, wow, okay. Um, so he’s a libra. That’s a good thing, libras are very generous lovers.”

 

“I have seen evidence of that, however my pants stayed on last night so nothing to report in that respect,” Dana answers, taking a sip of her coffee to avoid looking at her sister. 

 

“But his didn’t?” Missy asks with a smirk, and Dana purses her lips but doesn’t respond. It’s as good as saying yes. 

 

“Dana Katherine Scully,” Missy teases with a knowing smile. “Some things never change.”

 

“What the hell is that supposed to mean?” Dana asks defensively. 

 

“Oh please, Dana, we went to the same school, you don’t think I heard the story about you and Marcus behind the gymnasium?”

 

Dana’s mouth hangs open in shock. 

 

“Well, I hope he enjoyed his favor being reciprocated nine months later,” Missy continues, then adds “did you swallow?”

 

Her mouth drops open wider and she slaps Missy gently on the upper arm. “Melissa, don’t be gross!”

 

Missy is giggling and swatting her away. “You know what Dad always said, Dana, ‘a Scully sees it through to the end!’” She crosses her arms over her face in self-defense as Dana peppers her with little slaps, though they’re both laughing. 

 

Finally, the tittering subsides and they are both back in their respective seats, catching their breath. 

 

“So when are you seeing him again?” Missy asks, tucking her feet underneath her legs. 

 

“Tonight, actually.” Dana answers self-consciously. 

 

“Oh really? So soon?”

 

“Well he practically begged me to stay the night and said he didn’t want to wait until next weekend, so it was somewhat of a compromise,” Dana answers, the arrangement sounding like a red flag to her own ears. 

 

“Dang, he’s got it bad,” Missy remarks with a little frown. “Is it too much? Are you doing that thing?”

 

“What thing?” Dana asks defensively. 

 

“That thing where you get overwhelmed when someone is really interested in you and you sabotage it?” Missy ventures. 

 

Dana furrows her eyebrows. “I don’t do that,” she says, but her tone suggests that she may not believe herself. “I just don’t want to get all caught up in the excitement of a new relationship and not look at things objectively,” she finishes. 

 

“You know,” Missy says helpfully, “that exciting new relationship, not thinking clearly, crazy in love feeling is something most people like , Sis.”

 

Dana shrugs. “You know me,” she says plainly, “I’m not really one for excitement.”

 

“I have a sneaking suspicion that Mulder is going to put that to the test,” Missy retorts with a smile, and Dana cringes. 

 

“I think you may be right.”




 

Her demeanor when he picks her up for dinner seems just a bit guarded and is markedly different than it had been when they parted ways last night. He brushes it off, figuring that things between them are still new and awkward, and recognizing that he’s probably coming on just a little too strong. 

 

The day has been grey and cool, and she’s wearing jeans and an oversized blue sweater, her hair pulled half up into a little bun. He smiles warmly at her, but stops short of telling her how amazing she looks, sensing that she might not want to hear it. They make their way to a little Mexican place near her house and she is polite but quiet as they order, munching on chips and salsa with a pensive expression. 

 

“Are you okay?” he asks cautiously, and she nods. “I’m freaking you out, aren’t I?” he adds, and she shakes her head gently, but looks at him with wide eyes from beneath her lashes, and he knows it’s true. 

 

He sits back, running his hands through his hair. “I’m sorry, I don’t want to make you uncomfortable. Is it the sex part or the feelings part?” he questions, and when her eyebrows lift in surprise he suggests “Both?”

 

She laughs softly and shakes her head. “It’s really not you, Mulder, it’s me. I’m just not very comfortable with the whole,” she swirls her wrist around in the air, “whirlwind feeling, when things are new.”

 

He leans forward on his elbows and looks at her seriously. “Tell me what you need me to do differently, Scully, and I promise I’ll do it.”

 

“Maybe just...don’t act as though I hung the moon?” she offers with a pained expression. “I’m just a human person like anyone else, faults and all. It makes me worry that when you really get to know me you won’t like what you find.”

 

He gives her an amused smirk. “At the risk of further idolizing you, what’s not to like?”

 

“You want me to write a list?” She asks, returning his smirk, and he gives her a half shrug, half nod. “Well, if I’m basing this on what my family, friends, and past partners might say; I’m very rigid in my thinking on most matters, take myself far too seriously, am emotionally distant much of the time, don’t really know how to have fun and...I cannot carry a tune in a bucket. Basically I’m a total stick in the mud.”

 

“I’ll keep that in mind,” he says, smiling at her. Her self-consciousness is wildly endearing. 

 

“Okay now you have to go,” she says, picking at her paper napkin.

 

“Oh, what are my worst qualities?” he clarifies, “Jeez, this could take a while. Um, I’m very singularly focused, as in whatever I’m chasing down at the moment I become completely obsessed with to the detriment of all other things in my life,” he casts her a little glance to confirm that she understands that this is what he’s doing with her, which she does.

 

“I’m a workaholic, though that’s a lot easier to manage when I’m not all that invested in what I’m working on. I’m terrible with things like birthdays, anniversaries, or generally sentimental things, I just forget them completely. I’m also persistent to a fault, and have a hard time letting things, and people, go, even when I should,” he looks at her again, and she gives him a tight-lipped smile. His worst qualities are the ones that are at risk of scaring her off right now. 

 

“Well then, perhaps,” Scully offers, “I’ll work on not trying to shut you out, and you can work on not trying quite so hard to get in.”

 

“We’re still talking about feelings here, right?” he jokes, and she rolls her eyes. 

 

“There’s another flaw I forgot, making jokes at completely inappropriate times.”

 

She smiles at him, with teeth, and he knows they’ll be okay. He needs to be mindful, but he hasn’t totally fucked it up yet. 

 

The rest of their meal goes without incident. He talks about spontaneous human combustion while she calmly explains why it’s medically and scientifically impossible. The way she can disagree with him without talking to him like he’s a lunatic endears to him even further, but he works hard not to let it show. When the waiter comes by and asks about dessert, she shakes her head. 

 

“I have ice cream at home,” she says after the waiter leaves, “saves us five bucks.”

 

He masks the surprise and delight he feels knowing she’s essentially just invited him back to her apartment, and absolutely does not allow himself to hope that she’ll let him stay the night. It’s a work night after all, and she’s just made clear that she has a tendency towards rules and guidelines; sleepovers on a school night seem like something she’d be against. 

 

Back at her apartment, she gives him a quick tour, having neglected to do so when he was here last week, and he’s impressed though not surprised by how grown up and clean her place is. It matches her personality perfectly, and that makes him like the place immediately. 

 

She opens the freezer and pulls out a pint of ice cream, then retrieves two spoons and hops up on to the counter, which brings them just about face to face height-wise. The cold blast from the open freezer has hardened her nipples and he avoids looking as they pass the pint back and forth, taking alternate bites and talking about their favorite and least favorite flavors. Soon enough, the tub is empty, and she sets it and the two spoons to the side, leaning back against the cupboard behind her. He steps closer into the space between her thighs and places his hands gently on her hips. 

 

“Do you want me to go?” he asks in a neutral tone, not wanting to sound like he’s trying to persuade her. 

 

She quirks her mouth to the side in consideration. “Maybe not just yet,” she says, then hooks her legs around the backs of his thighs and pulls him closer. 

 

He suppresses a victorious smile and instead leans forward to kiss her, simultaneously slipping his hands under the hem of her sweater. She jumps a little at the contact, and he realizes how cold his fingers must be from the ice cream. He pulls his hands free, rubbing them together briskly in the space between their bodies as he continues to kiss her smiling mouth. When he’s satisfied that they are warm, he returns them to her bare sides and she hums in approval. Her hands find the back of his neck, scratching through his hair as his fingers trail their way up the ladder of her rib cage until they meet with the soft underside of her bare breasts. He wants to make mention of the lack of bra, but isn’t sure if calling attention to it would make her self conscious, so he says nothing and just enjoys it. Brushing his thumbs along the seam where chest becomes breast, he moves to kiss down her neck, teasing at the skin behind her ear with the firm tip of his tongue. Finding the spot she seems to like the best, he then runs his thumbs up until they meet with her hardened nipples and she emits a little moan that goes straight to his dick. He stays on this particular combination of rolling her nipples between his thumb and forefinger while licking and kissing her neck until she’s tightening the grip of her legs around his hips, seeking friction. He pushes the fabric of her sweater up slowly enough that she has plenty of time to tell him if she wants to stop, but once her breasts are exposed and his mouth is wrapped around one of her nipples, he is absolutely sure that she doesn’t. She lets her head fall back against the cupboard, breathing hard through her open mouth. He brings the fingers of one hand to the button on her jeans, then pauses. 

 

“Okay?” he asks around the nipple between his lips, and she hums out an “mmmhmmm.”

 

Flicking the button open and easing the fly down, he slips his hand palm-up under her panties, drifting down through her neatly trimmed hair and into the slick heat of her. She’s deliciously wet, and knowing he caused it makes him feel weak in the knees as he rubs his groin against the edge of the counter, even more turned on than he had been before. He slides his fingers up and down over her swollen lips, his tongue still lapping and sucking at her nipples alternately, and she is panting and quaking beneath him, hips writhing and fingers digging into his neck telling him that she wants more. He circles his dampened thumb around her clit and she whimpers, clutching his head to her chest. His middle finger finds her entrance and swirls around it, not quite entering, and she stills, waiting, anticipating. When he continues with his same teasing movements, she lets out a frustrated breath and speaks. 

 

“Please,” she whispers, her voice pained. 

 

He smiles against her breast, slipping his finger inside, and she moans low and long, throbbing once around him. He experiments with different ways of touching her, inside and out, and soon she’s gasping and breathing raggedly, flexing her hips into his hand, nearly suffocating him with her breast in his mouth and he feels like he’s in heaven. 

 

“Oh god,” she moans, then goes still for a long moment as he feels her walls clench tight around his finger. Then she’s coming, throbbing rhythmically and pulling his face up to kiss her, pouring her blissful moans right into his open mouth and clutching him as close as he can get with one hand in her pants. Finally, she touches his wrist gently and he pulls his hand free, enveloping her fully in his arms as they kiss with just as much passion as they started with. 

 

“That really wasn’t what I had in mind when I suggested ice cream,” she says against his mouth, and he smiles, breaking the kiss. 

 

“So that wasn’t some kind of ‘dessert’ double entendre?” he asks, pulling back slightly and looking at her flushed cheeks and still-dilated pupils. 

 

“No, but I’m not exactly devastated that you interpreted it that way,” she replies with a playful lilt. 

 

“So...what now?” he asks cautiously, neither wanting to overstay his welcome nor do what Frohike delicately calls ‘hit it and quit it.’

 

She bites her lip and considers the question. “You wanna hang out for a bit and watch TV? I’ll have to kick you out at 9:00, it being a school night and all.”

 

He feels his mouth stretch into a broad smile at the confirmation of his suspicion that she calls it early on work nights. 

 

“Sounds perfect,” he replies, then steps back so she can jump down from the counter, re-fastening her jeans while casting him a mirthful glance. 

 

They snuggle up on the couch and half-watch whatever is on, but mostly they talk, and kiss, and laugh. He finally asks her about the little gold cross necklace she’s always wearing, and he finds himself further enamored with how complex she is; a woman of science and religion, beautiful and strong, smart and fun. He’s working hard to temper his expression of it, but if he was only ninety-five percent sure he was in love with her when he said it back in August, he is one-hundred-twenty percent sure now. 

 

True to her word, she kicks him out at 9:00 and promises that they will get together for coffee this week once she takes a look at her autopsy schedule and knows which days she’s free. 

 

Once in his car, he drops his head against the back of the seat with a satisfied sigh. All week at work, his colleagues will ask him what he’s smiling about, and he’ll tell them truthfully that he’s just really, really happy.

Chapter Text

From: dscully@fbi.gov

Sent: April 28, 1997 10:46am

To: mreyes@fbi.gov

Subject: Coffee?

 

Hi Monica, 

 

It’s Dana, from pathology. I was wondering if you’d like to get coffee tomorrow around lunchtime? I have a break in classes from 11-2, so anywhere in there would be fine. 

 

I hope things are going well with VICAP.

 

-Dana





From: dscully@fbi.gov

Sent: April 28, 1997 10:48am

To: fmulder@fbi.gov

Subject: Wednesday/Thursday

 

Hi, 

 

I’m mildly shocked that you hadn’t already emailed me before I got in today. Are you alive?

 

If you’d like to meet up for lunch or coffee this week, I can do Wednesday or Thursday, sometime in the 11-3 timeframe. Let me know which works for you and I’ll block the time out so nothing else ends up on my schedule. 





From: mreyes@fbi.gov

Sent: April 28, 1997 11:12am

To: dscully@fbi.gov

Subject: RE:Coffee?

 

Hi Dana, 

 

I’m so glad you reached out. I’d love to get coffee tomorrow; I can meet you just outside the autopsy bay at 1pm, if that works?

 

I look forward to it. 

 

-Monica





From: fmulder@fbi.gov

Sent: April 28th, 1997 12:16pm

To: dscully@fbi.gov

Subject: RE:Wednesday/Thursday

 

Hi Scully, 

 

I see that my exceptional self control has paid off in spades. I am alive, and have resisted emailing you this morning through a combination of sheer will and a two-hour budget meeting. 

 

Wednesday sounds perfect, I’ll be there at noon. Don’t ask me how many hours that is from now because I haven’t calculated it and I have no idea. 



&&

 

About an hour after returning from her coffee date with Monica, which was very pleasant and is something she hopes to repeat, she starts to feel just a little bit achy. She pushes through the rest of her work for the day and by the time she slumps through her apartment door at six, there’s no denying that she’s sick. She takes some Tylenol and goes to bed, hoping it will have passed in the morning, but when she wakes up it’s even worse. She calls in sick to work and goes back to sleep. 

 

When she wakes again, the phone is ringing. She ignores it, only for it to start ringing again the moment the machine picks up. Dragging herself out of bed with a pained moan, she trudges to the hallway, retrieving the cordless phone and walking back to her bedroom as she answers. 

 

“Hello?”

 

“Scully! Are you okay?”

 

“What? Yes. Mulder?” She burrows herself back under the covers with the phone tucked against her ear.

 

“Yes, it’s me, you didn’t answer my emails all morning and never showed up for our coffee date. I was worried.”

 

“Shit, Mulder, I’m sorry. I came down with something yesterday and called out sick. I totally forgot we were having coffee today.”

 

“You’re sick?” he asks, clear concern in his voice. 

 

“Yes, just a virus or something, I’ll be fine.”

 

“Can I bring you something? Soup? Juice? Bad movies?”

 

She chuckles a little. “No, you don’t need to do that.”

 

“Who's gonna take care of you?”

 

“Mulder, I’m a grown adult with a cold, I can take care of myself.”

 

“Are you sure?” She can tell by his tone that he wants to do this more for himself than for her. 

 

“Yes, I’m sure. I don’t want you to see me all sick and disgusting, Mulder. It’s too soon to ruin your image of me,” she says somewhat sarcastically. 

 

“Seeing you sick is not going to change how I feel about you, Scully,” he says very tenderly, and she knows he means it. Still, she doesn’t like the idea. 

 

“I’ll call you tomorrow, okay? Sorry to make you drive an hour for nothing. Rain check?”

 

He sighs noisily. “Okay, fine. I think you inadvertently left ‘stubborn’ off your list of flaws, though.”

 

“Well, I didn’t want to ruin all the surprises,” she replies with a smile. 

 

He reluctantly says goodbye, and as soon as he hangs up, she calls the first number on her speed dial. 

 

“Hello,” calls Missy in her typical singsong greeting.

 

“Missy, can you come over?” she whines, little sister mode in full effect, “I’m sick.”

 

Missy arrives forty five minutes later and fusses around, gathering a glass of water, Tylenol, and the thermometer that is buried in the bottom of a bathroom drawer. Dana has relocated to the couch, and makes a face around the thermometer propped under her tongue when Missy sets four crystals of different shapes and colors on the coffee table, along with two herb-filled capsules. The thermometer beeps angrily and Missy plucks it out of her mouth, shaking her head. 

 

“One hundred and one,” she says with a frown, “here, take these,” she holds out two Tylenol and two of the herb capsules with a glass of water. 

 

Dana takes the Tylenol and leaves the others. 

 

“Whatever those are, I’m not taking them. And you can pack up your crystals,” she says to Missy as she pops the Tylenol and chases them with a big gulp of water. 

 

“They’re just echinacea, Sis, they won't kill you. And neither will the crystals.”

 

“But they also won’t help,” Dana says dryly, setting her water on the coffee table and burrowing back under her blanket. 

 

“Well, I’ll just leave them right here,” Missy says, standing and going to the kitchen. “Why’d you call me, anyway? Shouldn’t playing sick maid be Mulder’s job now?” She’s looking through cupboards, pulling out a pot and a can of soup. 

 

“It’s too soon for him to see me all congested and disgusting,” Dana replies, stifling a shiver. “He wanted to come over, but I told him not to.”

 

There’s a knock at the door. Dana sits up, exchanging confused looks with Missy. 

 

“Did you order food?” Dana asks, and Missy shakes her head, moving to the door. 

 

Dana watches from the couch as Missy opens the door to find no one on the other side. She looks at the floor, then down the hall one direction and the other. She stoops down and picks something up, then walks back to the couch with a paper bag. 

 

“What is that?” Dana asks, and Missy shrugs, setting it on the coffee table and sitting at Dana’s feet. There’s a sheet of paper stapled to the bag, and Missy plucks it off, opening it while Dana explores the contents; a carton of tom kah gai soup. 

 

Missy’s face is a mask of confusion as she reads whatever is written on the paper. 

 

“What does it say?” Dana asks, and Missy hands it to her. 

 

Every atom of your flesh is as dear to me as my own: in pain and sickness it would still be dear. Your mind is my treasure, and if it were broken, it would be my treasure still.

 

Dana’s chin puckers as her bottom lip sticks out in a pout. “Oh my god,” she gushes, “it’s Mulder.”

 

“What the hell does this mean?” Missy asks, taking the paper back and reading it again. “Does he write poetry or something?”

 

“No,” Dana answers, pulling the lid off the container and breathing in the spicy coconut smell, “it’s a quote from Jane Eyre.”

 

“Oh my god,” Missy says with a disgusted look, “you two really are meant for each other. This is sickening, Dana, you realize that, right?”

 

Dana is smiling, taking sips of the hot Thai chicken soup that he somehow knew she needed. “Yes, he’s also a giant nerd, if that’s what you’re saying. But beyond that, I don’t think we have much of anything in common, actually.”

 

“You both work for the FBI,” Missy offers. 

 

“Yes, but in totally different areas. And he’s an atheist, and believes in unverifiable phenomena like aliens and spontaneous human combustion. And he’s impulsive and easy going, and he makes decisions with his gut,” Dana lists off Mulder’s attributes like she’s describing the trim level on a car. He’s cute, and he has a leather interior. 

 

“Well, I certainly wouldn’t use any of those words to describe you ,” Missy says pointedly, setting the note on the table, where Dana plucks it back up and reads it again. “But there’s something to be said for being with someone who’s different from you.”

 

“I don’t really buy into the idea of ‘opposites attract,’” Dana says flatly. “I think that’s just a lie people tell themselves to justify horribly mismatched partnerships.”

 

“I think ‘opposites attract’ implies that your qualities clash, like the odd couple. One is messy and the other is clean,” Missy replies, propping her elbow on the back of the couch. “But I heard about this idea of ‘perfect opposites’ which is more like someone who complements you, or helps kind of level you out. So perhaps you lean to the extreme in some areas where Mulder leans to the other extreme, and you learn to meet somewhere in the middle.”

 

Dana gives her a doubtful look. “What is the middle between believing wholeheartedly that Bigfoot exists, and knowing that he doesn’t?”

 

Missy takes this under serious consideration. “I think,” she says without a hint of sarcasm, “that the medium would be accepting that it’s possible that he exists, and possible he doesn’t, but there's no way to know for sure.”

 

“So a Bigfoot agnostic?” Dana asks, and Missy nods in confirmation. 

 

Dana shakes her head. “Maybe you should have gone out with him, I think you two might be better suited.”

 

“Don’t give me any ideas,” Missy says with a coy smile. “Speaking of which, does he have any single friends?”

 

Dana shrugs around a gulp of soup. “I don’t know, I haven’t met any of his friends.”

 

“Well, when you do, keep an eye out would ya? Now that I’ve lost my single buddy, I may as well get back out there. God knows it’s torture enough hearing your lurid tales from the bedroom.”

 

“Missy, I haven’t told you a single lurid tale ,” Dana chastises. 

 

“I know, what’s up with that?” Missy retorts in mock offense, “speaking of, what happened when he took you out to dinner Sunday night?”

 

Dana shakes her head. 

 

“Oh come on, Dana. I have no life, let me live vicariously,” Missy whines. 

 

Dana shakes her head again. “The only thing I’ll say is; maybe don’t eat off the kitchen counter,” she says before giving Missy a guilty look. 

 

Missy’s mouth drops open. 

 

“Wow, I’m not sure if I’m more grossed out or jealous,” she says as she stands, “I’m gonna get out of here, if you’re good. I think I need to go pick up a guy at a bar for some meaningless sex.”

 

“Yeah, I’m okay. Thanks for coming by. If you need a condom there are some in the bathroom,” she adds with a sarcastic smile, and Missy sneers at her. 

 

“Ha, ha,” Missy replies as she slips on her shoes and opens the door, “last time I checked, you can’t get pregnant from a vibrator.”

 

Dana gives her a sympathetic pout and Missy pulls the door closed behind her. 




 

 

It’s a quarter past eight when the phone rings, and he pushes Priscilla onto the floor to retrieve it from his desk. 

 

“Hello?”

 

“I can’t find it,” says a garbled voice. 

 

“Hello?” he asks again, “who is this?”

 

“It’s really cold. It’s also too hot,” the voice says around a sound like fabric moving over the mouthpiece. 

 

“Scully?”

 

“Yes?”

 

“Are you okay?”

 

There’s a pause. “Mulder?”

 

“Yeah, I’m here. Are you okay?”

 

“Mulder, where are you?” 

 

“I’m at home. You called me at home. Is Missy there?”

 

“No, she had to take her vibrator to a bar,” she answers, and it’s clear that she’s completely delirious. 

 

“Scully, I’m coming over,” he says, standing up to find his shoes and wallet. “Hey, Scully, I need you to do something for me, okay?”

 

“Hmmm?”

 

“Can you stand up and walk to your front door?”

 

She sighs. “That’s very far.”

 

“I know it is, but I need you to unlock the door so I can get in. I don’t think your super would be very happy if I broke it down.”

 

He hears her groan and her voice becomes quieter, then disappears. He waits, and just when he thinks she may have hung up, she picks the phone back up.

 

“Hello?”

 

“Hey, did you unlock the door?”

 

“Mulder?”

 

“Yes, it’s me.”

 

“Mulder, where are you?”

 

He snickers a little. “I’m on my way over, did you unlock the door?”

 

“I...I don’t remember,” she says, and she sounds exhausted. 

 

“That’s okay, go back to bed. I’ll figure it out. See you soon, okay?”

 

“Okay, bye, Mulder.”

 

He waits but the line doesn’t go dead. He hears her shuffle around a bit and then it’s quiet for a long time. Setting the phone on its cradle, he drives over to her apartment. 

 

The door is, thankfully, unlocked, and all the lights are off. 

 

“Scully?” he calls out, not wanting to scare her. “Scully, are you awake?”

 

When he gets no response, he slips off his shoes and makes his way to her bedroom, calling out her name intermittently. He finds her twisted up in her sheets, and one touch to her forehead has him jerk his hand away with how hot she is. He strips the blankets off of her, finding her in only a T-shirt and panties underneath. Next he finds a washcloth in the bathroom and soaks it with cold water, then grabs two Tylenol and a glass of water. When he returns to the bedroom and drapes the cloth over her forehead, she starts and opens her eyes momentarily, but then closes them again. 

 

“Scully,” he says softly, shaking her shoulder, “I need you to wake up, honey. I need you to take these.” 

 

Her eyes open slowly and she blinks at him with heavy lids. 

 

“Mulder?” she asks groggily, and he gives her a sympathetic smile. 

 

“I’m here. Can you sit up and take these?”

 

He helps her prop herself up just enough to swallow the Tylenol and a sip of water before she collapses back against the pillows. 

 

“I feel like shit,” she complains, but her eyes are already closed and she’s on her way back to sleep. 

 

“I know. Get some rest. I’ll be here.”




 

She wakes up to harsh beams of sun pouring directly through her eyelids. Her first thought is that Ethan forgot to close the blinds again, but then she remembers that she and Ethan aren't together anymore and he doesn’t live here, so she must have forgotten to close them. She moves to roll out of bed and is met with the shock of aching muscles, and remembers that she had been raging with fever last night. She probably shouldn’t have let Missy leave, but thankfully the fever seems to have broken during the night. She rolls away from the window, no longer motivated to get up and close the blinds, and finds herself nose to nose with a sleeping Mulder. 

 

“What the hell?” she says out loud, and he opens his eyes and smiles at her. 

 

“Hi,” he says softly, “how do you feel?”

 

She gives him a perplexed expression. “Confused. How long have you been here?”

 

He chuckles “I knew you were out of it, but I didn’t think you were that far gone. You don’t remember?”

 

She shakes her head ruefully. 

 

Mulder rolls to his back and stretches, then turns back to face her. “You called me last night, totally out of it, and I came over to make sure you were okay.”

 

“How did you get in?” she asks skeptically. 

 

“You let me in.”

 

Her eyes widen. 

 

“You were burning up, I just force fed you some Tylenol and kept an eye on you. Around 3am you started shivering, so I think that’s when the fever broke.”

 

She is quiet for a moment, taking in her surroundings. “Mulder...am I not wearing pants?”

 

He holds up his hands in self defense. “That’s how I found you, Scully, Scout’s honor.”

 

“What time is it?” she asks, feeling disoriented.

 

He peeks at his watch. “A little after nine.”

 

She sits up too quickly and gets dizzy. “I’m late for work,” she says, one hand to her head. 

 

“Scully you were delirious with fever six hours ago, you’re not going to work. I called for you,” he says, sitting up too. 

 

She gives him an incredulous look. “You called out sick to work for me?”

 

He nods. 

 

She sighs and looks away from him. “I got the soup, and the note,” she says, “thank you.”

 

“Of course,” he answers, rubbing a palm over her back. 

 

She looks back at him, taking in his sleep rumpled hair and second day stubble. She furrows her brow, a slight scowl on her mouth. 

 

“What’s wrong?” he asks.

 

“You’re my boyfriend, aren’t you?” she says with a defeated tone, and he laughs. 

 

“I’d sure like to be, if you’ll have me.”

 

She groans and slumps against him, sighing as he wraps his arms around her, petting her hair. 

 

“Okay, fine,” she says flatly. 

 

“Well don’t sound so excited about it,” he teases, and she pulls back and smiles at him. 

 

“Thanks for taking care of me,” she says softly. 

 

“Thanks for letting me,” he replies. 

Chapter Text

From: fmulder@fbi.gov

Sent: May 2, 1997 8:06am

To: dscully@fbi.gov

Subject: Back in action?

 

Hey Scully, 

 

You make it in okay today? How are you feeling?

 

Thanks for letting me hang out with you yesterday, even after I broke into your apartment and crawled into your bed. I hadn’t seen the Price is Right since the eighties so that was a real treat. I remain impressed by your ability to guess the cost of a dishwasher. 





From: dscully@fbi.gov

Sent: May 2, 1997 9:15am

To: fmulder@fbi.gov

Subject: RE:Back in action?

 

Hi, 

 

Yep, I’m here and operating at roughly 95% capacity, which is good considering that a fairly advanced decomp was first on the roster this morning. It’s quite a way to start your day, let me tell you. 

 

Thanks again for coming to my rescue, though I remain embarrassed by whatever I may have said or done while under the influence of fever. 

 

If you liked watching The Price is Right with me, just wait until we catch Jeopardy. If me sick and delirious didn’t scare you off, that surely will. 





From: dscully@fbi.gov

Sent: May 2, 1997 9:30am

To: mreyes@fbi.gov

Subject: RE:RE: Coffee?

 

Hi Monica, 

 

Sorry I missed your email, I’ve been out sick the last couple days. I started feeling unwell shortly after we had coffee on Tuesday so I hope I didn’t inadvertently pass it to you. 

 

I’d love to grab coffee again, perhaps next week? I’ll touch base on Monday, have a good weekend. 

 

Dana





From: fmulder@fbi.gov

Sent: May 2, 1997 10:01am

To: dscully@fbi.gov

Subject: RE:RE: Back in action?

 

I’m glad to hear you’re on the upswing. Does this mean you’d be available for a night out tomorrow?

 

I would actually very much like to watch Jeopardy with you, because I will definitely leave you in the dust. 






From: dscully@fbi.gov

Sent: May 2, 1997 2:26pm

To: fmulder@fbi.gov

Subject: RE:RE:RE: Back in action?

 

I think I’ll be game for a night out. Are you going to tell me what you have in mind? At the very least you have to tell me what to wear.

 

Challenge accepted, Mulder. I hope you’re not a sore loser. 






From: mreyes@fbi.gov

Sent: May 2, 1997 3:50pm

To: dscully@fbi.gov

Subject: RE:RE:RE: Coffee?

 

Hi Dana, 

 

I’m sorry to hear that you’ve been sick. I feel fine, so don’t worry about that. 

 

Next week sounds perfect, I’ll watch for your email. 

 

Take care, 

Monica





From: fmulder@fbi.gov

Sent: May 2, 1997 4:17pm

To: dscully@fbi.gov

Subject: RE:RE:RE:RE:Back in action?

 

Wear something comfortable that you can walk around in. Can I pick you up at 6? The rest will be a surprise.

 

I think we both know that the categories will heavily influence who emerges victorious from Jeopardy. If anatomy and physiology is on the board, I concede that you will kick my ass. But if someone goes rogue and puts cryptids up there,watch out. 




From: dscully@fbi.gov

Sent: May 2, 1997 5:32pm

To: fmulder@fbi.gov

Subject: RE:RE:RE:RE:RE:Back in action?

 

See you at 6. 

 

If “cryptids” makes its way onto the Jeopardy board, it may well be a sign of the end times. 



Chapter Text

He’s surprised how nervous he feels knocking on her door. This is far from their first date and, while not exactly planned, he’s already stayed the night at her place. But this date feels significant to him, and perhaps what he’s nervous about is how she’ll react to what he has planned. He takes a moment to pull in a deep breath, tugging at the hem of his T-shirt, but when she opens the door all his nerves subside. 

 

She’s wearing jeans and a pink tank top that has thin straps and is relatively low cut, a small bow pinned to the center right above her breasts. Over it, she has on a black cardigan worn open, her hair down and a little mussed. She smiles warmly and his heart lurches. 

 

“Hi,” she says, and steps forward, pushing on to her tip toes and placing a hand on his shoulder so she can kiss him. Is this the first time she’s been the one to initiate the kiss? He thinks it might be, and it makes his knees wobble. 

 

“You look beautiful,” he says, openly dragging his eyes over her, feeling grateful that he doesn’t have to hide it. 

 

“Well, after the other day I’m sure anything is an improvement,” she comments self-deprecatingly. 

 

He cups her chin in his hand, tilting her face up to look at his. “You are always beautiful. You’re the most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen in my life.”

 

She scoffs and looks away. 

 

“You don’t have to try that hard, Mulder. You were already gonna get lucky,” she says playfully, pushing past him into the hallway. 

 

He stands there for a moment, stunned by her candor and wondering what that means. Does that mean she wants to have sex? Or is she just referring to what they’ve already been doing?

 

“You coming?” she asks, and he snaps himself out of it, stepping into the hall so she can lock the door behind them. “Where are we going?” she asks, slipping her hand into his. 

 

He has half a mind to ask if they should just spend the evening on her couch, but he resists. 

 

“You’ll see,” he says with a smile, and gives her hand a squeeze. 

 

When they park outside the Queen Vic she gives him a curious little glance, but doesn’t say anything. In the lobby, he leans in to ask the host for a particular table, speaking softly so she can't hear him. When the host leads them to the same table they’d sat at the last time they were here nearly a year ago, she smiles broadly, but again makes no comment. She orders the same IPA, and they both get fish and chips. So much is the same, and yet it’s so different; her foot hooked around his ankle under the table, the times she reaches out to touch his hand, the unabashed way she beams at him, laughing at his jokes and peeking at him from underneath her eyelashes. They drink, and eat, and talk. They talk about their childhoods and their teenage rebellions, she tells him how she gets through particularly rough autopsies and he tells her about the Gunmen and how they keep asking to meet her. It’s so easy between them, and so right, as it always has been. But now, his heart fills to bursting knowing that they can see this thing through, that he will later get to kiss that little mole above her lip that she tries to cover with makeup, feel her perfectly manicured fingernails scrape against his scalp. There’s so much more to learn about her, but he knows he will. They have another chance, and it makes him feel like he could cry just thinking about it. 

 

After dinner, he drives them down to the wharf and they get ice cream cones from a little stand by the water; she picks cookies and cream and he opts for rocky road. They walk along the boardwalk hand in hand as the sun eases its way towards the horizon. 

 

“Are you going to maintain control of your ice cream cone this time?” she asks with a smirk, the first mention she’s made of the fact that he’s replicating their first date. 

 

“Well, a lot has changed since last time, however the fact that I can’t take my eyes off of you isn’t one of them, so the ice cream cone is still at risk,” he retorts, rotating his cone dramatically for effect. 

 

She laughs, the sweetest sound he has ever or will ever hear, and he pulls her over to the rail that separates the walk from the water. She leans her back against it and he bends down to kiss her, holding his ice cream off to the side. She tastes sweet, her lips slightly chilled, and the kiss devolves into lapping tongues and soft moans unexpectedly quickly. 

 

She puts her free hand on his chest and pushes gently until he pulls back, then smiles dreamily up at him, licking her lips. 

 

“Should I expect an after-hours baseball session?” she asks coyly, and he frowns. 

 

“No, sorry. Byers, that’s my buddy who got the keys last time, said there’s a private event going on there tonight,” he says regretfully. 

 

“Oh, thank god,” she says with a relieved sigh, and he quirks his head at her quizzically. “The only thing I enjoyed about that, Mulder, was you pressing your body against mine, and now we can do that whenever we want, no batting practice facades necessary,” she says with a smile. 

 

“That does sound a lot more fun than baseball,” he replies huskily, “and I really like baseball, Scully.”

 

“I know you do,” she says in a syrupy voice before she captures his bottom lip between her teeth. 

 

“Are you done with your ice cream?” he asks, and she looks at her half-eaten cone before giving him a determined stare and nodding her head. 

 

He squirms in his seat on the way back to her apartment, stealing glances at her across the console intermittently. She seems perfectly calm and not at all affected, and he wonders if he’s misreading the situation. His cock jumps a little, threatening to spread into a full fledged erection every time he lets his mind wander to what might happen next. He suddenly wonders if he should have brought a condom, but then assumes she probably has them. But what if she doesn’t? It’ll be fine, they don’t have to have sex tonight. But he’d really, really like to. It’s not until they are parked outside her building that it occurs to him that she hasn’t actually invited him up and, not wanting to be presumptuous, he doesn’t ask. 

 


 

Mulder seems jumpy, nervous even, and she finds it mildly entertaining. She’s been toying with the idea of sleeping with him, but ultimately decided to just let things unfold how they would; he’s already clearly demonstrated his skill in the area of foreplay so she can be sure to have a good time whether or not sex is part of it. They pull up in front of her building and he sits there with the engine running, looking at her apprehensively. She smiles, and decides not to mess with him.

 

“You wanna come up?” she asks plainly, and he lets out a huge exhale. 

 

“Absofuckinglutely,” he says, unbuckling his seat belt and killing the engine. 

 

They make their way into her apartment, Mulder still acting awkward and uncomfortable, and she thinks that maybe should mess with him just a little. 

 

“Make yourself at home,” she says, draping her purse over the back of a chair and kicking off her shoes, “I’ll be right back.”

 

He nods and sits on the couch, and she ducks into the bathroom. She’d worn a decently cute bra and panty set, but not the kind that can be classified as lingerie. After emptying her bladder and freshening up a bit, she sneaks into her bedroom and changes into a red lace thong and matching bra. She considers herself in the mirror, debating whether she should put the clothes she was wearing back on, or something else. 

 

“Hey Scully?” She hears Mulder call through the crack in the open door. 

 

“Yeah?”

 

“Do you want to watch a movie?”

 

Her mouth quirks, an idea taking shape. 

 

“What?” she says in response, brushing her palms over her bare hips. 

 

“Do you want me to put a movie on?” he repeats. 

 

“I can’t hear you, Mulder, can you come in here?”

 

Her heart starts up a steady thrum of excitement, but she keeps her demeanor calm, watching her reflection and smiling at herself. 

 

She hears the door open behind her. 

 

“I was wondering if you wa-” he begins, then stops abruptly. 

 

She can’t see him from this angle and she waits a beat before looking back over her shoulder. He still has his hand on the doorknob, his mouth hanging open mid sentence and his eyes hooded with desire. She glances down and sees him growing stiff under his jeans, the knowledge setting off a throb between her legs. She turns to face him, slowly crossing the room and threading her arms around his waist. As soon as they make contact, he puts his hands firmly on her hips and slides them down to cup her bare ass cheeks with a little groan. 

 

“Do you want to watch a movie, Mulder?” she asks rhetorically, flexing her pelvis against him. 

 

He shakes his head, stooping to lift her off the floor before he walks them over to her bed. Setting her down gently in the middle, he moves to hover over her and she bends her leg, planting a foot in the middle of his chest.

 

“You’re wearing way too much clothing,” she observes, then watches him as he strips off his shirt and jeans, standing before her in black boxer briefs. She hasn’t had a chance to really see his body yet and she sighs as she takes in his firm yet slim torso, muscular but not bulky. Her eyes wander down further to where his erection tents the fabric of his boxers, and she smiles. “You look good without clothes on,” she says softly, and he smirks self-consciously. She almost asks him to take the boxers off too, but decides not to deprive herself of the opportunity to do so, so she motions for him to join her on the bed instead. 

 

He carefully crawls up beside her, lying on his side while she remains on her back. He reaches out tentatively to brush his palm over her belly, his eyes poring over every bit of skin he can see until they rest on her face. They hold eye contact for a beat and she reaches up to touch his neck, inviting him to kiss her. They start slowly, softly, and he trails from her lips to her cheek, down her neck until he’s dipping his tongue into the space between her breasts. His hands trace along the hem of her panties, brushing up over her knees and back down the inside of her thigh. His touch is soft and exploratory, igniting nerve endings and building anticipation for a firmer touch in a more exciting place. It’s a slow burn and she is happy to let him take his time. 

 

He slips the tips of his fingers just beneath the hem of her panties and slides them back and forth from hip to hip. 

 

“Can I take these off?” he asks, his teeth grazing her hardened nipple through her bra. 

 

“Mmm, yes,” she answers. 

 

He sits up and peels her panties slowly down her legs; the damp gusset is easily visible against the red fabric and she’s only had them on for about five minutes. When he reaches her feet, he plucks them off her ankles and bunches the fabric up in his palm, pressing it to his nose briefly before tossing it on the floor. She gives him a surprised smile but recognizes that even if she finds it a bit odd intellectually, it does turn her on. 

 

He returns to his spot beside her and she rolls onto her side so that they are facing each other. 

 

“Can I get some help here?” she asks in mock incompetence, tugging at the strap of her bra. 

 

“Of course,” he answers in mock seriousness, reaching behind her to deftly unhook the band and watching as the cups slide away from her breasts. 

 

He helps her pull the straps free of her arms, then sighs as he looks over her naked form. 

 

“You look fucking amazing without clothes on,” he says, full of awe. 

 

“Thank you,” she replies, tilting towards him until he has rolled onto his back, then hitching a leg over his hip, straddles him. Sitting fully nude on his lap, his erection pressing into her ass as he stares up at her with lustful eyes makes her feel like a goddess, like Aphrodite at the altar. She brings her hands up to gently cup her breasts and he groans, his fingers flexing against her thighs. 

 

“Scoot up,” he commands, and she gives him a questioning look but does it, now planted on his chest with his sparse hairs tickling her damp lips. 

 

“More,” he says, in an equally authoritative tone. Normally she wouldn't appreciate being ordered around like this, but the look on his face makes her want to comply. 

 

She shifts her weight to her knees, preparing to scoot just a touch higher, when he threads his arms under her thighs and slides down, pressing his face into her vulva. 

 

“Oh god!” she startles, totally caught off guard, and reaches one hand out to steady herself on the headboard. 

 

For a moment she just perches there, out of her element as Mulder begins to flick his tongue across her clit before dragging it up and down over her lips. This isn’t something she’s ever done before and while it doesn’t feel bad, it doesn’t necessarily feel good, either; it’s hard to relax while holding herself up over him. 

 

As if reading her mind, Mulder wraps his palms around the tops of her thighs and pulls her down hard until she is fully sitting on him, her weight no longer her own to support. She’s afraid she’s suffocating or hurting him, but then he starts humming and moaning against her like he’s enjoying the most delicious meal of his life and she realizes that this is exactly what he wanted; to be suffocated by her pussy. She leans forward and rests her head against her forearm, further relaxing and acclimating to the position. 

 

Unlike the flicking and licking sensations of the typical position for cunnilingus, this affords more pressure and area of contact. Something, must be his tongue, is probing at her opening, flexing against her walls deliciously, while something else, perhaps teeth, scrapes gently against her clit. The more she relaxes into it, the better it feels, and the heavier she sits on him, the more he groans and sucks at her. She feels a slight rhythmic jostling and glances back to see that he’s freed his turgid hard-on from his boxers and is pumping up and down vigorously, and the image pushes her close to the edge. She drops her head back onto her arm and starts flexing her hips against his face, putting the pressure right where she wants it to be, and feels the tingle of an impending orgasm building in her toes. The more she moves and flexes against him, the more he moans and the harder he pumps, and the more she can tell that he is clearly getting off on this, the more turned on she becomes. The cycle builds and builds until it crests, the gathering pleasure bursting all at once as she comes hard against his mouth, his tongue tucked snugly inside her as she pulses around it, coming undone. Soon enough he cries out and she feels his cum spurt hot on her back, running down over her ass and pooling on his sternum. 

 

As her own orgasm subsides, she suddenly feels like she’s made of jelly and slumps to the side, cringing in realization that the cum on her back is now on her comforter. She looks over at Mulder, his chin glistening as he breathes heavily, his eyes on the ceiling. She looks down at his spent cock, shrinking away from the pool of liquid it left behind. 

 

“Well,” she says, “that was...different.”

 

He turns his head to the side and gives her a lopsided smile. “Was it?”

 

She shrugs. “That was a first for me,” she says shyly, feeling silly. 

 

“Oh,” he says, clearly a little surprised but not unpleasantly so. “Well, what’d ya think?” he asks with an expectant look. 

 

“Uh, it was...it was terrible, honestly,” she says, feigning a very business-like tone. “I hated it.”

 

He gives her a cheeky smile. “Oh, you did?” 

 

She nods with a matter-of-fact look on her face. 

 

“Do you normally come that hard when you hate things?” he asks curiously. 

 

She grins at him then, done with the joke, and he grins back. 

 

“Let me get you a towel,” he says, rolling off the bed carefully to contain the mess. 

 

“And they say chivalry is dead,” she retorts, earning a chuckle. 

 

After they have cleaned and re-dressed, they do end up watching a movie. She falls asleep halfway through, the comfort of his large frame wrapped around her making her feel so safe she can’t help but drift off. This time, she invites him to stay the night, and is delighted to find him wrapped around her again when she wakes in the morning. 



Chapter Text

She twists around within the confines of his arms and nuzzles against his neck. He smiles, pulling her closer as early-dawn light seeps in around the blinds. She hums contentedly, wiggling against him, and he pulls in a deep breath, flexing his hips gently towards her with a sigh. Pulling her head back, she looks at him with a sleepy smile. 

 

“Hi,” she says softly, her fingers grazing over his bare back. 

 

“Hey,” he replies, “I have to say, I much prefer that morning greeting to ‘what the hell?’”

 

Her smile widens. 

 

“You might also be a touch confused if you went to bed alone and woke up with someone beside you,” she says, though not defensively. 

 

“If I went to bed alone and woke up with you next to me, the only thing I’d be saying is ‘praise the lord,’” 

 

“I thought you were an atheist,” she retorts, her hand sliding down his back until it slips just under the waistband of his boxers. 

 

He shrugs. “It’s a figure of speech.”

 

“Well, speaking of the Lord, I told my mother I’d go to church with her this morning, so I’ll have to kick you out shortly,” she says, fingers brushing against the tops of his ass cheeks and effectively waking up his dick. 

 

“You said you’re Catholic, right?” he asks, and she nods. “I think you may have some things to confess, Ms. Scully,” he continues, bringing his own hand to her panty-clad backside and pulling her against him so she can feel him growing hard. 

 

She smiles mischievously at him. “That I do, thanks to you,” she says.

 

“So how does that work?” he asks, “forgive me father, for I have sat on a man’s face?”

 

She laughs out loud, a true guffaw, and shakes her head at him. 

 

“They really don’t like you to get that specific,” she answers, “more like...engaged in sex acts outside of marriage, fornicated, euphemisms like that.”

 

“That’s too bad,” he says, slipping his hand under her panties at the leg so he can squeeze her bare ass cheek, “I’m sure those poor priests could use come juicy confessions to break up the doldrums of celibacy.”

 

“Mmm, I’m sure,” she says, digging her fingernails into his flesh. 

 

He kisses her, chastely at first, the sleep-warm smell of her intimate and comforting at the same time. When he brushes his tongue against her lips, she pulls back. 

 

“I have awful morning breath, Mulder,” she objects. 

 

“So do I,” he replies, kissing her again, and this time she lets him. 

 

They paw gently at each other, slow and sleepy in their exploration. His hands drift up under her oversized T-shirt to touch her breasts, and down over the smooth skin of her thighs. She trails her fingers over his bare torso, dancing along the hem of his boxers, brushing over his erection through the cotton. They sigh and kiss, a soft moan occasionally escaping when something feels especially nice. He tugs at her panties and she pushes them down to her knees, then scissors her legs until she kicks them off. Her leg falls open as he touches her softly, not with a goal in mind; touching just for the pleasure of touch. When he slips a finger inside, he groans at how wet she is. 

 

“Mulder,” she says breathily, her lips close to his ear, “let’s have sex.”

 

He feels a surge of blood flush into his already stiff cock. 

 

“Are you sure?” he asks, slowly pumping his finger in and out. 

 

“Very,” she answers, her voice catching. 

 

“Do you have a condom?” he inquires, praying that the answer is yes. 

 

She pushes his hand away and rolls on top of him, kissing him and flexing her pelvis against his as she reaches into her bedside drawer. Finding what she was looking for, she rolls back to his side and holds up a black square with a smirk. 

 

He pushes his own boxers off quickly, then moves to hover over her. Tugging at the hem of her T-Shirt, he waits while she sits up enough for him to pull it off over her head, leaving them both naked with him cradled between her thighs. They resume kissing and he can hear the crinkle of the condom wrapper as she tears it open, then feels her hands stroking him lazily before the cool latex touches the head of his cock. She rolls it down his length expertly and continues down to cup his balls, giving them a soft tug that makes him groan. Next he feels her grip his shaft, positioning the tip at her opening before her hands come to rest on his sides. 

 

He slowly pushes into her, listening and feeling raptly for any indication that he’s hurting her, but soon enough their bodies are flush, his scrotum pressed against her ass with every inch of him tucked inside. She is tight and hot around him and he stays still for a moment, their lips brushing together softly. When he slowly pulls back and pushes into her again, they both moan as her back arches off the bed, her head dropping back against the pillow. He begins a slow, languid rhythm as they kiss, her hands scraping over his back and her legs wrapping around his hips. 

 

“You feel so fucking good,” he professes against her ear, and he feels her throb once around him. “Can you come like this?”

 

“Probably not,” she breaths, “but that’s okay, it still feels really good.”

 

“No, tell me what you need,” he whispers into her neck, sucking at her earlobe. 

 

“Maybe,” she says hesitantly, “if you lay behind me, kind of spooning.”

 

He withdraws from her and rolls on to his side, pulling her back against his chest. He touches her breasts for a moment and then slides his hand down to push her leg up, hitching her ankle behind his knee. 

 

“Like this?” he asks, reaching between her legs to press the head of his cock against her opening as he routes inside. 

 

“Mmmmm, yes,” she moans, and he resumes a steady pace as his fingers find her clit, gently circling. 

 

He threads his other arm under her, crossing it over her chest so he can cup her breast, pinching the nipple between his thumb and forefinger. She gasps, and he feels her clench around him again, the sensation incredible both physically and mentally. She moves her free arm back to rest on his ass, squeezing and encouraging him as he thrusts into her. They are entwined like human pretzels, hands working as he moves within her, her head turned up to find his mouth as they kiss and touch and fuck slowly and quietly, save for the occasional moan and the wet slip of her as he pumps in and out. When she stops kissing him, just holding her open mouth against his, he keeps his movements consistent, knowing she’s close. 

 

“Oh yes, oh god, don’t stop,” she keens, and he feels his balls tighten in anticipation. 

 

She pulls in a big breath and holds it, her body going rigid. Then she lets out a long, low moan and he feels her clench tight around him before erupting into rhythmic throbs. It feels so amazing that he soon follows her, clutching her to him as his orgasm takes off just as hers is coming down, their shared release a cacophony of muted groans and declarations to deities only one of them believes in. They stay there entangled as he slowly slips out of her, kissing her neck softly. 

 

“I need to take a shower,” she says regretfully, “gotta get ready to go confess what we just did,” she adds with a squeeze to his arm, and he chuckles. 

 

“Okay. I’ll call you later?” he replies, standing and stepping into the bathroom to dispose of the condom. 

 

“Please do,” she says, stretching before she rises from the bed herself. 

 

He pulls her into a hug, already missing the feeling of her nakedness against his own. 

 

“Say a few Hail Mulder’s for me, would ya?”

 

She pulls back and smiles up at him. “Of course.”

 


 

She sits between Missy and her mother in the pew, Charlie seated on the other side of mom, as Father McCue delivers his Sunday sermon. Though they have varying levels of belief in the religion they were raised with, Bill being the most devout and Dana a distant second, Maggie Scully lives for the Sundays when one or more of her children attend mass with her. The fact that all three of those who live locally made it today has her in an especially good mood, which is why she doesn’t seem to notice her daughters whispering in the pew beside her. 

 

Missy keeps glancing over at her surreptitiously until finally Dana turns and gives her a pointed look, eyebrows lifted expectantly. 

 

Missy glances at mom to ensure her attention is on the pulpit and then leans in close to her sister’s ear. 

 

“You had sex, didn’t you?” she says in the softest of whispers, and Dana shoots her a look. 

 

“We are in church, Melissa,” she whispers back, shutting down the conversation. 

 

“I’ll take that as a yes,” Missy retorts haughtily, and Dana jabs her in the ribcage with an elbow. Missy winces, then adds “see you in the confessional, Sis.”

 

After mass and the confession booth, where Dana admits to fornication and impure thoughts (so many, many, impure thoughts), they head to Mom’s favorite little cafe for Sunday brunch. The place is bustling at noon on a Sunday and the three Scully children and their mother are cloistered tightly around a small round table, munching on omelettes and sandwiches. 

 

“Dana has a boyfriend,” Missy says flatly during a lull in the conversation, and Scully shoots her another look. 

 

“Nice,” Charlie says with very little interest, but Mom is looking at Dana with a wounded expression. 

 

“Why didn’t you tell me you were seeing someone, Dana?” she asks with furrowed brows and a frown. 

 

“It’s very new, mom. Nothing serious.” Even as the words leave her mouth, she knows it’s a lie; her feelings for Mulder are anything but casual, even if she’s not quite ready to admit it yet. 

 

“When will we get to meet him?” Maggie asks next, and Dana sighs.

 

“I don’t know, Mom. Like I said, it’s pretty new. I’m not going to accost him with a family gathering anytime soon.”

 

“Well, tell us about him, then,” she prods, “what’s his name?”

 

Scully cringes. “Um, his name is Fox Mulder.”

 

“Fox? Like the animal?” Charlie asks with a dopey smile, suddenly deciding to engage in the conversation. 

 

“Yes, Charlie, like the animal,” she replies with an irritated tone, “but he doesn’t like to be called by his first name, he just goes by Mulder.”

 

“You call your boyfriend ‘Mulder’?” Charlie teases, and she sets her jaw, glaring at him. 

 

“I’m sorry, Charlie, what was the name of that trashy woman you brought to Easter dinner last year, Bambi?” she says with a cutting tone. Charlie stops smiling and narrows his eyes at her. 

 

“Her name was Fawn. It’s a totally normal name,” he says dejectedly. 

 

“That’s enough,” Maggie declares, shooting a look at Missy who has been giggling through the entire conversation. “I’m glad to hear that you’re dating, Dana,” she says, placing her hand on top of her daughter’s on the table. “When you’re ready, I’d love to meet him.”

 

Dana gives her a tight lipped smile and a nod, and they continue their meal in relative peace. 

 

After they’ve parted ways at the restaurant doors, she is walking the two blocks to where she parked her car when she passes by a sidewalk cafe. She does a double take when she spots Mulder at one of the outdoor tables, a smile immediately curling the corners of her mouth at the sight of him. She walks towards the table and is about to approach him when she stops, realizing that he’s not alone. He’s seated with a woman with long, dark brown hair, and the way he’s smiling at her makes Dana’s stomach turn. 

 

She steps behind a parked car and watches them for a bit, noting the casual way he touches her hand on the table top and the familiar crinkle at the corner of his eyes that is paired with an affectionate gaze. It is unmistakably the look between two people who are more than just friends, who know each other intimately. She feels nauseous, her heart pounding in her throat as they stand and he pulls her into a tight hug, rocking slightly as his hands brush over her back. They are starting to separate and she can see that he is tilting his head to kiss her so she looks away, not wanting to see. She stumbles to her car, tears breaking free and slipping down her cheeks. Once in the driver’s seat, she lets the sobs overtake her. She feels betrayed, and stupid, and guilty. Stupid because she should have known it was too good to be true and she fell for it hook, line, and sinker. Guilty because she deserves this, after what she did to Ethan. Reap what you sow; isn’t that what she’d been taught as a child? 

 

Maybe it was all for nothing after all. Maybe she ruined her life and a potentially happy marriage for a man who saw her only as a conquest. She sniffs hard, wiping away her tears, and collects herself. Buckling her seatbelt and starting the ignition, she drives home. Once there, she gets to work ridding her apartment of any signs of him. She strips her bed, washes her sheets, throws away the still damp toothbrush he’d just used that morning. She removes him from her life once again, a life that will start over fresh tomorrow; starting over seems to be something she’s becoming an expert at as of late. She just hopes that one day her new beginning turns into something she can hold on to, and that this painful cycle of hurt and healing will eventually stop. 



Chapter Text

“It was so good to see you, Will,” Valerie says in a muffled voice against his chest as he has her wrapped up tightly in a bear hug. 

 

“I know, I’m so glad I ran into you,” Mulder replies, brushing his hands over her back. He pulls away and kisses her softly on the cheek. 

 

“It makes me really happy to see you so happy,” she says with a smile, her long brunette hair lifting softly in the breeze, brown eyes holding affection that can only be held between two people who have the type of bond that can withstand a breakup and then a transition from lovers to friends. 

 

“Likewise,” he says, nodding towards the small swell of her growing belly. 

 

“I’d love to meet your girlfriend someday, if you think she’d be okay with that,” she says, collecting her purse. 

 

“Yes, I’d really like that. I think you two would get along really well, actually,” he says, and she smirks at him. 

 

“You’re not afraid we’ll bond over having to sit through your shitty movie collection?” she teases, and he laughs good-naturedly. 

 

“Hey, Scully likes my shitty movies, that’s why we’re a perfect match,” he retorts. 

 

She squeezes his arm. 

 

“Call me sometime, okay?”

 

He nods and watches her walk away, feeling like he’s on cloud nine. A great friendship with his ex-girlfriend, a promising new love with the woman of his dreams; he can only imagine what lies in store next. He practically skips on the walk back to his car, wondering if Scully might let him come by tonight, hoping that he won’t have to wait until the weekend to see her again. He decides to call her as soon as he gets home. 

 

The first few times he gets her machine, he assumes she must be at her mother’s. When she still hasn’t answered or called back by 9:00 pm, he’s confused. When he emails her the next morning and still hasn’t gotten a response at 10:00am, he’s officially worried. 

 

Something is wrong. 




 

 

She had eventually turned off the ringer on her phone and put the volume all the way down on her answering machine so she wouldn’t have to hear his increasingly obsessive attempts to get ahold of her, then slept fitfully all night. 

 

She knows that she needs to give him some kind of response or he’ll show up on her doorstep, but she can’t bring herself to face him, even in voice. Every time the image of him with that woman pops back into her head, she feels a lump form in her throat immediately, a sick sadness welling in her belly. She’s pored over every memory in her mind, every interaction they’ve had, searching for signs. Signs that he was seeing someone else, that he wasn’t interested in anything other than getting in her pants, that he was lying to her. Her thorough inventory brings up next to nothing, which almost makes it worse; how adept he must have been at creating a false reality for her to exist in. Perhaps he’s garnered some tips from the sociopaths he studies, or maybe his background in psychology allowed him to manipulate her. 

 

When she arrives at work, she is unsurprised though still dismayed to see an email waiting for her. 



From: fmulder@fbi.gov

Sent: May 5, 1997 7:57 am

To: dscully@fbi.gov

Subject: Where are you?

 

Scully, you’re freaking me out. Are you okay? Please respond. 





She deletes it immediately and tries to focus on work. She performs an autopsy and teaches a class, both welcome distractions from her emotional torment. Just before 11:00 am, the phone rings. 

 

“Autopsy bay, this is Trudy…yep, she’s here, one second.”

 

Trudy turns and opens her mouth to speak, but sees Dana waving her arms and shaking her head. She makes a confused face and puts the phone back to her ear. 

 

“Oh, actually she just stepped out, sorry. Can I take a message?”

 

She watches as Trudy scribbles something on a piece of paper. 

 

“Uh huh…yes. Okay, I’ll tell her…you have my word.”

 

She replaces the phone on the receiver and hands Dana the paper with a sympathetic frown. 

 

“Trouble in paradise?” she asks rhetorically. 

 

Dana looks down and deciphers Trudy’s messy scrawl. 

 

Call Mulder immediately. Send a sign of life. 

 

She crumples it up and tosses it into the trash can. 

 

“You wanna talk about it?” Trudy asks. 

 

“Nope,” Dana replies, turning back to the computer. 





From: fmulder@fbi.gov

Sent: May 5th, 1997 11:03am

To: dscully@fbi.gov

Subject: PLEASE RESPOND

 

Scully, I don’t know what the hell is going on, but if you don’t reply to this within an hour I’m driving down there. 

 

Please respond





She feels fresh tears well in her eyes. Why is he trying so hard if he’s seeing someone else anyway? Why is he doing this to her? With a surge of anger, she hits reply. 





From: dscully@fbi.gov

Sent: May 5th, 1997 11:05am

To: fmulder@fbi.gov

Subject: RE:PLEASE RESPOND

 

I’m fine, Mulder. Please just give me some space. 





With that she closes her email, begs someone to take her second class of the day, and goes home. 




 



He feels like he’s stepped into an alternate universe. He’d left her happy and satisfied, and out of nowhere she’s shutting him out. What does she need space for? Space from him? Why? Did he come on too strong and freak her out? He thought they’d moved past that. He picks up the phone again. 

 

“Autopsy bay, this is Trudy.”

 

“Trudy, it’s Agent Mulder again. Look, I don’t want to put you in an awkward position, but is Dana there?”

 

She pauses. “No, she went home for the day. She seemed pretty upset.”

 

“Do you have any idea why?” he implores. 

 

“No, other than the fact that it seems to be directed at you.”

 

“Yeah, that much I gathered. Thanks, Trudy, sorry to bother you.”

 

“No worries, good luck.”

 

He slams the phone down, grabs his jacket off the back of his chair and leaves. 






She is half expecting his knock, but it still makes her jump, nearly causing her to spill her wine. She wants to just ignore him until he goes away, but she knows his proclivity towards persistence won’t let him do that. Better to just get it over with, she thinks as she slumps towards the door. 

 

The second she lays eyes on him in his slacks and dress shirt, the sleeves rolled up to his elbows and his tie discarded, she feels her chin pucker and tears threaten her eyes. As angry as she is, she immediately wants to go to him, to curl up within his embrace so he can comfort her. The problem is, what she needs comforting from is him. 

 

“What is going on?” he says with a mix of frustration and fear. 

 

She stands in the open doorway, not making space for him to enter. 

 

“I saw you,” she says, her voice strained with emotion. 

 

“You saw me...what?” he asks, his face a mask of confusion. 

 

She lifts her chin, clenching her jaw and summoning strength. 

 

“I saw you with her. Yesterday, at the Bluebird Cafe. After I had lunch with my family.” her voice holds steady, anger carrying her through. 

 

His face falls and her gut twists. She wishes she didn’t have to watch this.

 

“THAT is what this is about?” he asks, but there’s no shame or regret in his voice. If anything, he sounds a little mad. 

 

She nods curtly. 

 

“Are you fucking kidding me?” he spits out, and she recoils a little at his vitriol. “Let me in, Scully. Right now,” he demands, and against her better judgement she moves aside. 

 

He pushes past her into the apartment and she closes the door softly, leaving it unlocked in case either of them decides to make a hasty exit. 

 

“Did you consider,” he begins, his back to her, “maybe, I don’t know, asking me about what you saw?” He turns to face her, one hand on his hip and his face contorted with anger. “Or were you just planning to avoid me until I gave up and went away again?”

 

She doesn’t know what to say. She’s confused about why he’s yelling at her when he’s the one who did something wrong. She just looks at him, expressionless. 

 

He juts his chin out expectantly, waiting for an answer, but gets none. She averts her eyes. 

 

“Is that all this is worth to you, Scully?” he continues, “you’re ready to throw this away over a simple misunderstanding, without even talking to me?”

 

She lifts her head and looks at him with a pained expression. “Okay then, talk,” she gets out. 

 

He drops his head in frustration. “The woman you saw me with,” he says flatly, lifting his head to meet her eye, “was my ex-girlfriend, Valerie. I ran into her while I was running errands yesterday, and we had lunch. She has a boyfriend and is three months pregnant. We spent the majority of our meal together talking about you .”

 

She shakes her head gently, her throat closing as a tear rolls down her cheek. “I saw you kiss her,” she whispers, her jaw quivering. 

 

“You saw me kiss her on the cheek? I also kiss my mother on the cheek, Scully, it’s hardly an intimate gesture.”

 

She feels a new wave of sickness pass over her, but this time it’s entirely different. This time it’s the sick feeling of realizing that she was very, very, wrong, and that she has, yet again, hurt the man who loves her. She opens her mouth to speak but she can’t find the right words. 

 

He steps forward but doesn’t touch her. When he speaks, his voice is softer, more defeated than anything else.

“I’m sorry that you saw something that upset you. But if you actually thought for a single second that I want to be with anyone but you, you’re fucking insane. I meant what I said the day you left my apartment last year. I felt it then, and I feel it now. I want this to work more than anything, Scully, but for that to be possible you have to trust me. I can’t live with the knowledge that you might just shut me out at a moment’s notice when you get scared.”

 

She keeps her head down, overwhelmed by a combination of shame, embarrassment, and gratitude that he wouldn’t let her walk away. She does not deserve this man, but she wants to. 

 

“I’m sorry,” she whispers, still unable to meet his eye. 

 

“I know you are,” he replies, moving towards the door. “Take the space you need, and let me know when you’re ready to trust me.”

 

When she hears the click of the door closing behind him, she collapses to the floor, sobbing for so many reasons she couldn’t possibly name them all. When it’s faded to snivels and hiccups, she stands and goes to the hallway, picking up the phone. 

 

“Hello?”

 

“Missy,” she chokes out, “Can you come over?”




 

 

He’s not sure if leaving was the right thing to do. The risk that she might not come back around is one that sends his stomach into knots, but at the same time he finds it hard to accept that she wasn’t even going to give him the opportunity to explain. He’s been actively working to temper expressing his feelings so he doesn’t overwhelm her, but then she gets it in her head that he’s not invested. It feels like he can’t win. 

 

He goes back to work and stops by Kirkbride’s office to apologize for disappearing. Kirkbride just gives him a quizzical look, clearly not having noticed he had left. The rest of the day he buckles down on his caseload, distracting himself from the catastrophic thoughts that dance through his head, and gets more work done than he has in quite a while. When he leaves the office just after 5:00 pm, he feels melancholy and grouchy, and annoyed that he left the ball in her court. 

 

The elevator dings to announce his arrival on the fourth floor and he steps out with a takeout bag in his hand, eyes downcast. Halfway down the hall, he readies his key and looks up, startling when he sees Scully sitting on the floor against his door, knees tucked up against her chest and her forehead resting on her kneecaps. She’s very still, and as he gets closer he realizes that she’s asleep. His heart aches knowing that she’s been waiting that long, that she didn’t want to leave without talking to him. 

 

He crouches down beside her, setting his dinner on the floor, and gently touches her shoulder. She jerks, her head snapping up and her eyes wild for a moment while she tries to orient herself. When she focuses on him, she immediately starts crying, reaching out to wrap her arms around his neck. He’s surprised by her uncharacteristically emotional response, but says nothing and just holds her until his knees start to ache, at which point he sits down on the floor and pulls her into his lap. They stay this way for several minutes, long enough for one of his neighbors to walk by and politely avert their eyes, entering their apartment as though there was nothing out of the ordinary happening in the hallway. When the crying seems to have subsided a bit, he gives her a little squeeze.

 

“Wanna go inside?” he asks, and she nods against his chest, his shirt damp from her tears. 

 

She stands unsteadily and he follows her, grabbing the takeout bag off the floor. They enter the apartment and Priscilla plods up to them with an excited meow. Scully leans down and picks her up, tucking the cat against her neck as they nuzzle each other. Mulder smiles at them with a bemused expression. 

 

“She was talking to me through the door,” Scully says with a small smile, “she heard me knocking and was meowing from the other side. We had a conversation.”

 

Affection swells in his chest and he steps forward to kiss her. Her shoulders drop and she lets Priscilla down so she can get closer, threading her arms around his waist and kissing him back in earnest. Desperate, thought I’d lost you again kisses that are as arousing as they are a relief, because he knows that they will be okay. 

 

He pulls back a little and she makes a whimpering sound in protest. 

 

“I’m gonna go change really quick, okay? Then can we talk?” he asks, and she sighs and nods. “You can have half my Chinese,” he adds, and she gives him a tight-lipped smile. 

 

When he sits on the couch beside her five minutes later, she scoots closer so they are pressed against each other, and he gathers that she needs physical closeness right now. He loops an arm around her shoulder and she crawls right back into his lap, curled against him as though trying to fuse her body to his own. Her head tucked beneath his chin, she holds one of his hands in her lap, fingers laced tightly together, and begins to speak.

 

“After you left, Missy came over and we talked for a long time. I’ve come to realize how much I’m still affected by...what happened last year. I harbor a lot of guilt for being unfaithful to Ethan, and that’s actually largely why I married him even though I knew my heart wasn’t in it.” She pulls in a deep breath, pressing their joined hands tight against her belly, trying to get even closer. “When you and I reconnected, in a way it felt like a chance to validate it. As though things working out with us would mean that what I did wasn’t as bad, because there was something real between us. But at the same time, a big part of me doesn’t believe that I deserve to be happy.” Her voice remains steady, but he feels the wet drop of a tear on the back of his hand. 

He tightens his arm around her waist. “I’ve always been a person who values doing the right thing, and integrity was something that was very important to my father. It was his measure of a person’s character, and that’s something he instilled in me as well.” She sits up a bit so she can look at him, and his heart breaks at her red-rimmed eyes, her icy irises so mournful. “It’s not that I don’t trust you, Mulder. You haven’t given me any reason not to. It’s just that I don’t feel like I deserve this, especially with you, and I’m waiting for the moment it all comes crashing down. So when I saw you with that woman, it was almost like I’d been waiting for it, expecting it. Getting what I deserved.”

 

He brings his palms to her cheeks, brushing away the tears with his thumbs. 

 

“Thank you for telling me that,” he says softly. “I wish I could change how you feel, but I know that I can’t. I do know how it feels to spend your life harboring guilt over something you could have done differently, and I can tell you that punishing yourself won’t make it any easier. It makes me really sad that you’ll always regret how we met.”

 

She closes her eyes and shakes her head gently. When she opens them, her expression is more tender than it is mournful. 

 

“I don’t regret it, Mulder. I do feel guilt, and shame, for not ending it with Ethan so we could have done things the right way, but I could never regret meeting you.”

 

He pulls her back into an embrace, her arms wrapping around his ribcage, and plants a kiss to the top of her head. 

 

“Are we okay?” he asks softly. 

 

“I hope so,” she says hoarsely. 

 

“Is this a bad time to tell you that Valerie wants to meet you sometime?” he asks, and she laughs. 

 

“I don’t know, did you tell her that I freaked out on you because you had lunch with her?” she replies, and he can already hear her tone shifting back to their typical lighthearted banter. 

 

“No, of course not. That’ll be our little secret. Well, plus Trudy. I think Trudy knows too much honestly.”

 

She laughs again, and god he could spend the rest of his life trying to make her laugh. In fact, that’s exactly what he hopes to do. 

 

“Speaking of meeting people,” she continues, “Missy mentioned you to my mother yesterday and she wants to meet you.”

 

A grin stretches across his mouth, but he doesn’t say anything. She pulls back to look at his face, to gauge his reaction, and smiles softly in response. 

 

“You want me to meet your mom?” he asks, the delight on his face carrying over to his voice. 

 

Her mouth screws up shyly. “My little brother will probably be there too, and Missy. Is that too much?”

 

He shakes his head. “Sounds perfect. But, there are some friends I’d like you to meet too, if we’re meeting people.”

 

“The Lone Gunmen?” she asks with a skeptical lilt. 

 

“Those are the ones. They’re my only friends, actually. Aside from Val.” Just then, Priscilla hops up onto the couch beside them. “Oh, and you Priscilla, sorry,” he adds. 

 

Scully smiles at the cat, and then at him. “Can I bring Missy as a human buffer?” she asks hopefully. 

 

“Of course. You may set a record for the highest number of female visitors to their lair in a day.”

 

“Lair?” she asks with wide eyes.

 

He chuckles. “They’ll grow on you, I promise.”





Chapter Text

Missy gives her a skeptical glance as Mulder knocks on the door for an eternity in a strange pattern. She shrugs, then startles when a cacophony of loud pops and clicks erupts from the other side of the door before it swings open to reveal a short man with a receding hairline and bushy sideburns. 

 

“Mulder, ladies, please come in!” he greets warmly, stepping to the side.

 

Mulder touches his hand to Scully’s lower back, ushering her inside and waiting as Missy follows before he enters last. The short man holds out his hand to Missy and when she takes it, he brings her hand to his lips and kisses the tops of her fingers.

 

“Enchante, you must be Melissa,” he says suavely, and Missy gives her sister an amused smile. “Melvin Frohike, pleased to meet you,” he finishes, and Missy giggles.

 

“And you must be the enigmatic Dana Scully,” he says, turning to Scully and offering his hand. 

 

She takes it, but tugs hers away at the first indication that he intends to do more than shake it. Frohike turns to Mulder with raised eyebrows and a knowing smirk. 

 

“She’s hot,” he says matter-of-factly, and Scully looks at Mulder with big eyes, unsure whether he’ll find his friend’s flattery offensive. 

 

“Yes, I’ve noticed. Put a damper on the Don Juan act would ya, Frohike? You’re going to scare them away.”

 

Frohike presses his hand to his chest in mock sincerity. “I aim only to properly welcome these beautiful women to our home, Mulder,” he defends, then holds up his hands in surrender. “Back to the kitchen I go,” he finishes, leaving the room. 

 

A slender man with long blonde hair and glasses passes through, pausing when he realizes they have company. 

 

“Mulder, hey man. I forgot you were coming by.”

 

He looks at Missy and Scully but doesn’t say anything. 

 

“Langly, this is Dana, and her sister Melissa,” Mulder offers, and Langly waves, looking back and forth between them. 

 

“So which one’s yours?” he asks, and Mulder mutters something under his breath. 

 

“That would be me,” Scully answers, holding her hand up at her side. For the first time that she can recall, being referred to as belonging to a man doesn’t bother her. 

 

“Cool,” he says, then turns away and sits down behind a computer. 

 

Scully and Missy both look at Mulder expectantly, asking hundreds of questions with their eyes that they are too polite to speak aloud. 

 

“I know, I know,” he says regretfully. “I told you, they grow on you.”

 

“Mulder, hello,” calls a new voice, and Scully turns to see a tall man in a suit with neatly coiffed brown hair and a matching goatee. 

 

“Hello, ladies, I’m John Fitzgerald Byers,” he says, holding out his hand shaking each of theirs in turn. “I apologize for my friends’ behavior, they don’t get out much. Please, come in, make yourselves at home.”

 

As Byers leads them to the living room, Scully takes stock of what Mulder had referred to as their “lair.” There’s one large room that is sectioned off into a living area and a tech lab, the latter hosting several computers as well as hundreds of computer parts and boxes upon boxes with wires sticking out of them. There’s a kitchen just off the living room, and beyond that a long hallway that must lead to bedrooms. They sit down on a well-worn orange couch, Scully in the middle, while Byers takes an armchair next to the end of the couch where Missy is seated. 

 

“Can I get you something to drink?” Byers asks, his eyes lingering on Missy for a beat. 

 

“It’s margarita night!” Frohike calls from the kitchen, and Byers smiles meekly. 

 

“We also have beer, or wine, if you don’t care for margaritas,” he offers demurely. 

 

“I love margaritas,” Missy answers with a shrug, “so does Dana, right Sis?” she continues, giving Scully a little jab with her elbow, and Scully smiles and nods. 

 

“Sure, margaritas sound great,” she says, and Byers looks visibly relieved. 

 

“Please excuse me, I’ll be right back,” he says, standing with a slight bow. 

 

After he has disappeared into the kitchen, Missy looks over at Scully and widens her eyes momentarily, then juts out her chin.

 

“Really?” Scully says with some measure of surprise, and Missy nods enthusiastically. 

 

Mulder chuckles, and Scully looks at him with furrowed eyebrows. 

 

“What?” she asks accusingly. 

 

“You two have some kind of secret language. You sure you aren’t twins?”

 

“I remember when Dana was born,” Missy says, “it was awful. We are definitely NOT twins.”

 

“Missy, you were two when I was born, there’s no way you remember that,” Scully says doubtfully, and Missy rolls her eyes. 

 

“Believe what you will, Sis, but I distinctly recall you crying for hours and Bill Jr. peeing his pants in protest,” she says confidently. 

 

“That does sound like Bill,” Scully concedes, and they both laugh. 

 

“Why do I get the impression that Bill isn’t the favorite sibling?” Mulder asks, and Scully rests her hand on his knee. 

 

“Just be glad he doesn’t live close enough to attend Sunday brunch tomorrow,” she says with a squeeze, “if you’re lucky, you won’t have to meet him for years.”

 

Mulder smirks at her with soft, affectionate eyes. “Years, huh?” he asks, and Scully smiles as heat rises to her cheeks, realizing what she’d implied. 

 

“Here we are,” Byers says as he re-enters the room carrying a tray with four glasses on it. He sets the tray on the coffee table and passes a glass to each of the sisters and then to Mulder before he takes one himself and sits down. 

 

“What should we drink to?” Missy asks, holding her glass up. 

 

“How about, to new friends,” Byers offers, giving her a small smile. 

 

“To new friends,” Missy repeats, and they clink their glasses together. 

 


 

 

“A WHAT tail?” Missy asks, her tongue thick with tequila and her eyes glassy.

 

“A ves- vesigible? Vestibule tail?” Mulder attempts, closing one eye in concentration. 

 

“Vestigial tail,” Scully corrects them, retaining her medical terminology even under the influence of four very strong margaritas. 

 

“Yes, that was it,” Byers says, pointing at her triumphantly. 

 

Frohike drank too much and retired to his bedroom an hour ago, while Langly is still stationed behind his computer, headphones on and seemingly immersed in some kind of first person shooter game. Byers has shed his suit jacket and cuffed his sleeves, his tie loosened around his neck. He long ago joined them on the orange couch where they are now stuffed like sardines, the sisters sandwiched in the middle with a man on each side. 

 

“Caudal appendages are a normal part of fetal development,” Scully says, her head leaning against Mulder’s arm and their hands entwined in his lap. “The coccyx enlarges to contain the spinal fluid and then it shrinks as the child develops. Occasionally it doesn’t. It’s extremely rare, but it’s been known to happen.”

 

“But that’s not the point,” Mulder retorts, sticking his nose into her hair. “The tail was just how they made the connection, the freaky deaky part is that this guy could change his appearance to look like the women’s husbands so they’d have sex with him.”

 

“That’s disgusting,” Missy says with a frown, and Byers puts his hand on her upper back, rubbing comfortingly. She looks at him and smiles sweetly. 

 

“I don’t buy that at all,” Scully says, shaking her head clumsily. 

 

“The shapeshifting?” Mulder asks, assuming the answer. 

 

“Well that too, but even just the idea that they didn’t know it wasn’t their husband. They would have known,” she says plainly, it being an obvious fact to her. 

 

“He was physically identical to their husbands, there was no way to tell the difference,” Byers explains, looking at the side of Missy’s face while he talks. 

 

“Well maybe he looked like them, but partnered sex is very routine based,” Scully continues, “if you’re with the same person for a long time, you develop somewhat of a cadence, an order of things, that there’s no way he could have replicated. So even if he was physically identical to the husbands, he would have kissed differently, touched them differently. They would have noticed the difference.”

 

Mulder sits back against the arm rest so he can see her face more clearly. 

 

“So you’re telling me that if a man who looked exactly like me in every way, physically identical, tried to seduce you, you’d know it wasn’t me?”

 

Scully gives him an irritated look. “Yes.”

 

“How?” he asks incredulously. 

 

“Because no one else kisses like you do,” she says at a lower register, hoping Missy and Byers aren’t listening. 

 

Mulder looks past her to the other end of the couch and his eyebrows lift in surprise, his mouth curling into an amused smile. Scully turns to see what he’s smiling at and finds that Missy and Byers most definitely were not listening, because they currently have their tongues halfway down each other’s throats. Scully turns back to Mulder with an open-mouthed smile. 

 

“Oh my god,” she gushes, leaning her forehead against his chest. 

 

He wraps his arms around her back and gives her a squeeze. 

 

“I was just about to say we should get outta here,” Mulder whispers against her ear, “but I’d hate to interrupt them. I think this is the most action Byers has gotten in years.”

 

She stifles her laugh in his T-shirt, then sits up to look at him. 

 

“Is he a good guy?” she questions in a bit of sisterly concern. 

 

“Oh, yes, the best,” Mulder says emphatically. “If it were either of the other two stooges down there I’d pry Missy off of him and transport her to safety, but Byers is good people.”

 

Scully nods in approval, sneaking another glance towards the lovebirds as Missy’s foot starts to press against her thigh; they seem to be orienting more horizontally by the second. She glances over at Langly, but he’s oblivious. 

 

“Do you think it’s okay if we leave her here?” Mulder asks cautiously, unsure if it’s an obscene suggestion. 

 

Scully looks at her sister again. “Missy, we’re leaving,” she says loudly, and Missy holds up her arm, flicking her wrist in a “go” motion. Scully turns back to Mulder. “She’s fine.”

 

Mulder lives closer to the Gunmen so they direct the cab driver there, quietly kissing in the backseat on the ten minute drive. She is pleasantly drunk, just this side of sloppy, and feeling particularly amorous after such a fun evening. Mulder stumbles through his front door ahead of her, swearing as he stubs his toe on the table. He feeds Priscilla as Scully removes her shoes and jacket, making her way to the couch. As soon as he sits down beside her, he leans over and presses his boozy lips against hers, the kiss firm and insistent and...weird. 

 

“Mulder,” she says as he continues to plant strange kisses on her mouth, “what are you doing?”

 

“What do you mean?” he asks, moving his pecking down her neck. 

 

“You’re kissing me weird,” she says flatly, and he lifts his head to give her a shocked look. 

 

“Motherfucker,” he says in a disappointed tone, and she shoves his shoulder. 

 

“I told you I would know, jerk,” she says playfully, and he laughs. 

 

“I guess you would,” he says, starting to kiss her more properly. 

 

“Shall we take this to the bedroom?” she suggests, and he stands, holding his hand out to her. 

 

She leads him into the bedroom, and as she approaches the bed he grabs her roughly from behind, clutching her to him. She gasps at the sudden contact, but it also excites her. 

 

“Is this okay?” he asks, his voice gravelly. 

 

She nods her head tersely, wanting to see where he’s going to take it. 

 

He growls and sticks his hand down the front of her still-buttoned jeans, forcing his fingers under her panties until he meets with her vulva. Keeping his fingers still, he slips his other hand under her shirt, shoving it under the underwire on her bra and grasping her breast roughly. Her heart is racing but she doesn’t move. 

 

“Unbutton your pants,” he says levelly, and the authoritative tone in his voice sends a little rush between her thighs. She does as he said, unbuttoning her jeans and pushing them off her hips while his hand is still tucked against her. 

 

With more room to move, he slips his hand down further and drags his fingers lazily over her lips. She can feel herself growing wet, her clit aching to be touched. He suddenly removes both hands, grabbing the hem of her shirt and tugging it over her head before she’s even had time to lift her arms, her bra soon following it to the floor. He steps forward, pushing her along with him, and then touches her upper back. 

 

“Bend over,” he says, and she does, her torso resting on the mattress while her legs dangle over the side. 

 

She feels him tug her jeans off her legs, and then her panties, leaving her nude. She waits, her heart pounding in her ears nearly blocking out the jangle of his belt buckle and the slide of his zipper. She feels his naked skin press against hers, his erection stiff and hot against her lower back. He leans forward to put his mouth to her ear. 

 

“Still okay?” he asks. 

 

“Yes,” she says breathily. 

 

She hears the crinkle of the condom wrapper and wriggles her hips in anticipation, nearly moaning when his hands touch her bare hips, tugging her towards him. She feels the slick press of his latex-covered cock against her entrance and bucks back towards him, earning a little chuckle. He pushes into her, each groaning with relief, and wastes no time finding a hard and fast pace, the slap of skin deafening in the quiet apartment. He changes his angle, and she feels his hand snake around her hip, his touch rough and firm and perfectly paired with the strike of his head against her cervix on each upstroke. It hurts just a little bit, but in the best kind of way, and she cries out when he finds just the right combination, begging him not to stop. 

 

A stream of obscenities, foul and offensive remarks about how she feels and looks, what he’s doing to her, pour from his lips and she is concurrently shocked and delighted, finding herself at the crest as he asks her how much she likes it, and calls her some questionable names. She comes hard and suddenly, the obscenities stopping as he explodes inside of her, falling partially on top of her as he loses the strength to stand. 

 

After he’s extricated himself from the bed and disposed of the condom, he pulls her on top of him and peppers her with tender little kisses and gentle strokes of his hands over her naked body, telling her how beautiful and perfect she is, bringing them back to equilibrium. She props her chin on his chest and looks up at him with a wry smile. 

 

“What did you call me?” she asks, and he does a silly cartoonish cringe.

 

“I’m not totally sure, to be honest. Did I say something bad?” he asks with genuine concern. 

 

“I’m not totally sure, to be honest,” she replies, “I was otherwise engaged.” She smiles at him so he knows she’s not mad. She looks over at the clock beside his bed. “We better go to sleep,” she says, her eyes already drooping. “We have to be at my mother’s at ten tomorrow.”




 



“So, what did you all do last night?” Maggie asks around the lunch table, and Dana chokes on her water while Missy clears her throat. 

 

“I introduced Dana to some of my friends,” Mulder answers jovially, on his best ‘meet the parents’ behavior. 

 

“Oh, that’s nice,” Maggie answers warmly. “Are you from the area, Fox?”

 

“It’s Mulder, Mom,” Dana corrects her, and he waves his hand dismissively. 

 

“It’s okay, moms get a free pass,” he says, smiling at Maggie. “I grew up on Martha’s Vineyard.”

 

“Ooooo, fancy schmancy,” Charlie remarks with raised eyebrows, and Dana glares at him. 

 

“Do you have any siblings?” Maggie continues. 

 

This is a line of questioning he’s had to navigate since he was twelve, but for Dana it’s a first. She tightens her grip on his hand under the table. 

 

“It’s okay,” he whispers to her before turning back to Maggie. “I had a younger sister, but she died when I was twelve.” 

 

Scully understands that this is probably his stock answer, not wanting to get into the true story with each person he crosses paths with, and feels retroactively touched that he was honest with her from the start. 

 

Maggie’s hand goes to her chest as though reaching for a rosary, her face a mask of pain. “Oh, Fox, I’m so sorry.”

 

“It’s okay, Mrs. Scully, it was a long time ago.”

 

Sensing the need for a subject change, Charlie turns to his oldest sister. “What’s up with you, Missy? You’re looking a little rough today.”

 

She gives him a derisive smile. “Thanks, little brother, love you too. I just didn’t get much sleep, I’m fine.”

 

“Uh huh,” Charlie says knowingly, and Missy kicks him under the table. 

 

After the dishes have been cleared, Maggie is pulling the trash bag out of the can when Mulder interjects. “Let me take that out for you, Mrs. Scully.”

 

She watches him with a soft smile as he goes out the back door, then turns to look at her youngest daughter, who is also watching after him with an affectionate expression. 

 

“Dana,” she calls, and when she has her daughter’s attention, she gives her a beaming smile. They don’t need to say more than that; Dana smiles back with a little nod, and they both understand that she’s found something worth moving on to. 




Chapter Text

May passes into June and they quietly acknowledge that it has been one year since the day Mulder walked into the autopsy bay. They spend their weekends watching movies, making love, and hanging out with the Gunmen, Missy often in attendance as she and Byers become somewhat of an item. Every other Sunday they have lunch with her mother, Mulder meeting Bill by way of an awkward phone call and a promise that they will come out to visit San Diego sometime soon. The moratorium on weekday overnights fades away and the days they spend in each other’s beds begin to outnumber those that they don’t. 

 

One day in early August, Mulder laments how lonely Priscilla gets when he’s gone for the night, crying and following him from room to room when he comes home and plaguing him with guilt. Scully suggests that he bring her over with him, setting up a litter box and food bowl in an unused corner of the living room. Without the daily need to care for a cat, he spends more and more time at her apartment, his suits taking over half her closet and his T-shirts occupying one of her drawers. He still has his fish to feed and so they can tell themselves that they don’t technically live together, though it’s been weeks since anyone slept at his apartment. The excitement of new love gives way to the familiar comfort of domesticity, questions about their lives prior to meeting morphing into what they’re having for dinner and whether someone can pick up toilet paper on the way home from work. They each visit the doctor for a full workup and, everything coming back clear, stop using condoms, relying on the progestin shot Scully goes in for every three months to prevent pregnancy. 

 

Far from boring, they find worthy sparring partners in one another, debating everything from whether the moon landing was a hoax to the merits of String Theory, arguing their points of view passionately before they agree to disagree and then let their clothes fall to the floor. They discover the things they love best about one another; Mulder’s unrelenting curiosity and Scully’s bottomless compassion, as well as those they like the least; his forgetfulness when he’s focused on something and her tendency to shut him out when she’s upset. Whether completing a crossword puzzle together or watching Jeopardy, they embrace the ways that they are different and how they balance one another out; his creativity to her order, her planning to his impulsivity, his acceptance to her skepticism. Yin and yang, tall and small, bold and tempered; there is a completeness in their union that makes them each feel whole. 

 

Even in their intensity and their commitment, Mulder has never again uttered the words ‘I love you’ and Scully has never said them at all. Far from a red flag or a hesitance to be vulnerable, they simply don’t feel the need to express it aloud. She knows he loves her when he drives forty minutes out of his way to pick up her favorite donuts or reads the latest issue of JAMA just so he can discuss the articles with her. He knows she loves him when she indulges him in theoretical discussions on the mating rituals of Sasquatch, not bothering to point out that the creature doesn’t exist, or wastes entire Saturdays watching movies that were bad enough to earn Razzies because he finds poorly made films entertaining. 

 

Scully has never met Mulder’s parents, accepting his explanation that his mother is cold and his father distant, which is why she feels caught off guard when he calls her at work on a Tuesday to tell her that his mother had a stroke, and he is on his way to the hospital. He doesn’t ask her for anything, but she leaves work anyway, approaching the reception desk of the emergency department with a level of calm only a doctor is capable of. 

 

“I’m looking for Teena Mulder, she should have been admitted within the last few hours,” she says to the young woman behind the desk. 

 

“Yes, she’s here,” the woman answers, “but visiting hours don’t start until 4:00 and someone is already with her now. Are you family?” The woman looks at her expectantly. 

 

“Um, no, I’m not,” she replies, not bothering to explain that Tenna Mulder is her boyfriend’s mother, who she’s never met. 

 

“You can take a seat then,” the woman says with a well-practiced smile that doesn’t reach her eyes. 

 

She finds an empty seat and pulls in a deep breath, taking out her cell phone in hopes she can reach Mulder, though cell reception in hospitals is notoriously bad. 

 

“Excuse me, are you Dana?” someone says from a few seats away, and she turns to see an older man, perhaps in his sixties, with receding dark brown hair and tired bags under his eyes. 

 

“Yes,” she replies, eyeing him skeptically as he rises from his seat and takes the one just beside her. 

 

“I’m Bill Mulder, Fox’s father,” he says, offering his hand. 

 

She takes it, scanning him for similarities to Mulder and finding none, other than his complexion and hair color. 

 

“Oh, hello, it’s nice to meet you Mr. Mulder,” she stumbles, a bit confused. As Mulder tells it, his parents are divorced and not on friendly terms. 

 

“Please, you can call me Bill,” he says with a small smile, and she nods. “Fox is with her now, though I don’t think she’s awake,” he offers.

 

They sit in awkward silence, Scully realizing she has absolutely no information with which to start a conversation. Mulder has told her nothing about his parents, aside from the details relevant to his sister’s abduction. She doesn’t know what Bill Mulder does, or did, for a living, or where he lives. Just when she’s considering going home, Mulder emerges from a set of double doors. 

 

He was clearly looking for his father, but when he sees Scully his eyebrows knit and his chin puckers in relief. She stands and he scoops her up, squeezing her so tight it hurts. 

 

“Thank you for coming,” he whispers hoarsely into her ear. 

 

They part, hands clasped, and he addresses his father. 

 

“Mom just woke up, you can go see her soon, but since Scully is here I’d like to take her back first.”

 

Scully gives him an incredulous look. 

 

“Mulder, I’m sure your mom doesn’t want to meet me for the first time from a hospital bed,” she pleads. 

 

“I know, but I want you to look at her chart. I just want to make sure that what the doctors are saying is accurate,” he says with desperate eyes, and she nods. 

 

He leads her back through the double doors and into a room where a tall white-haired woman is reclining in the bed, an oxygen cannula tucked under her nose. While she saw little resemblance between Mulder and his father, the likeness to his mother is almost jarring; her stately nose and hooded eyes curating in Scully an immediate fondness for her. She blinks slowly at them, confusion furrowing her brow. 

 

“Mom, this is Dana,” he says, and her expression shifts into one that is slightly pained. 

 

She attempts to speak, one side of her mouth rooting for words that she can’t quite find. 

 

“Hi Mrs. Mulder, I’m sorry we’re meeting under these circumstances,” Scully offers, “I’m a medical doctor, Fox asked me to take a look at your chart, if that’s okay?”

 

Teena nods and closes her eyes, and Scully goes to retrieve her chart from near the door. After she’s looked it over, they say goodbye and return to the lobby to find Mulder’s father. 

 

“Go ahead, Dad, I’ll see you in there,” Mulder says, and then walks Scully to her car. 

 

“So, what do you think?” he asks as they stand next to her open car door, worry crumpling his features.

 

“I don’t see anything out of the ordinary, Mulder. Her stroke was significant, you can see that by the degree to which it’s impacting her speech and gross motor function. It shouldn't get any worse, but she’ll need to go through rehab, and likely need some in-home care for a bit until we know the long term impact. It’s very possible that she’ll be able to continue living independently, but not right away.”

 

Mulder heaves a big sigh and nods. “I’m gonna stay here for a bit, but I think I’ll be home before you go to bed.”

 

“Of course, whatever you need,” she replies, bringing her palm to his cheek. “You okay?”

 

“Yeah, I think so. Thank you, again, for coming down here. You didn’t have to.”

 

“Mulder, of course I did,” she says with concern. “I’ll see you when you get home, okay?”

 

He kisses her one, two, three times, pulling her close for a beat, clinging to her for dear life. 

 

“I love you,” he chokes out, and she hugs him tighter. 

 

“I love you too,” she replies, her chin tucked tight into the crook of his neck. 

 

When he releases his grip on her, she brings her hands to his jaw, brushing her thumbs over his cheeks. 

 

“We’ll get through this, okay? We’ll figure it out,” she assures him, and he nods tersely. 




 

 

She’s in bed reading, Priscilla curled up on her stomach, when she hears the thunk of the deadbolt. 

 

“Mulder?” she calls out, and he pokes his head through the door. 

 

“I’m gonna take a quick shower, I’ll be in in a minute,” he says, then disappears again. 

 

He returns ten minutes later, shower-fresh and warm. She sets her book aside to envelop him in her arms, his head finding a home on her chest as his arms snake around her ribcage. 

 

“How is she?” she asks as she strokes her fingers through his hair and down his neck soothingly. 

 

“The same,” he says with a defeated tone, “they might release her to rehab tomorrow.”

 

“And how are you?” she asks, giving his neck a little squeeze. 

 

He groans. “I don’t know. I’ve been thinking a lot.”

 

“About your mom?”

 

“No,” he says, propping up on his elbow to look at her, “about life, I guess.”

 

She lifts her eyebrows expectantly, waiting for him to continue. 

 

“I don’t want to toil away in the BSU for the rest of my life, Scully. If I die tomorrow, what will I have to show for it?”

 

She frowns at him sympathetically. 

 

“You make a difference in the BSU, Mulder. You help catch murderers, prevent further loss of life. It may not seem like it because you’re so far removed from the people it impacts, but you do.”

 

He flops back onto the bed, eyes on the ceiling. 

 

“You’re probably right, but it still feels pretty pointless.”

 

“What would you rather be doing?” she asks gently, rolling on to her side to face him. 

 

“Honestly?” he steals a glance at her before continuing, “investigating The X Files. Making progress in understanding what happened to my sister. Working to expose those who are responsible for the coverup of secret government operations.”

 

“Maybe you should talk to AD Skinner, try again. Maybe The X files could be reopened,” she says softly, brushing her palm over his arm. 

 

Mulder shakes his head. “Nothing has changed, Scully. They won’t let me operate without a partner and no one wants to work with me.”

 

I’d work with you, but that’s against bureau policy,” she says with a small smile, and he looks at her with an affectionate gaze. 

 

“I’m sure you’d have a field day debunking all my work,” he says coyly. 

 

“I would never,” she retorts sarcastically. 

 

He rolls back towards her, pulling her close with her head tucked under his chin. 

 

“I don’t know what I’d do without you,” he says, his voice full of emotion. 

 

“Well you do have me, so there’s no point in thinking about it,” she replies. 

 

He sighs deeply, reaching past her to turn off the bedside lamp, and they sleep 



Chapter Text

“We should get champagne or something, to celebrate,” Scully says, her eyes roving over the menu. 

 

After three weeks of rehab, Teena Mulder has finally been able to move home, though she’s under the constant care of an in-home nurse. Knowing that she’s back in her own space, no longer the medical setting that made her miserable, is a huge weight off Mulder’s shoulders. This is why they’re out to dinner, celebrating a hopeful return to what feels like normal. 

 

“Only if you’re driving home,” Mulder replies playfully, “you know what bubbly does to me.”

 

She gives him a flirtatious smirk. “Yes, I do.”

 

“Dana?” someone calls out, and they look over to see two women. One is tall and slim with light olive-toned skin and brunette shoulder-length hair. The other is significantly shorter, Latina, with thick hips and an ample bustline, her dark hair cascading down her back. 

 

“Monica, hi,” Scully replies warmly to the tall woman. She turns to the shorter one, “you must be Dahlia.”

 

“Guilty as charged,” the short woman answers jovially with a heavy Spanish accent. 

 

“This is my boyfriend, Fox Mulder,” Scully continues, gesturing to him, “Mulder, this is Monica, I’ve told you about her.”

 

Mulder nods in understanding. Scully has often mentioned a woman she regularly has coffee and lunch with who works in VICAP. 

 

“Nice to finally meet you,” Mulder says, offering his hand to Monica. 

 

She takes his hand with a firm grip, then gestures to the short woman, “this is my partner, Dahlia.”

 

Mulder and Scully both greet Dahlia with handshakes. 

 

“Well, we’ll leave you to your meal, it was nice to run into you,” Monica says.

 

“Would you like to join us? We haven’t even ordered yet,” Scully offers, giving Mulder a quick glance to confirm that this is okay. He nods almost imperceptibly. 

 

“Oh, we don’t want to impose,” Monica answers. 

 

“Not at all,” Mulder jumps in, correctly picking up that Monica is worried about imposing on him, not Scully, “I’d love to finally get to know this mysterious VICAP woman Scully is always talking about.”

 

Monica smiles and he moves to the chair beside Scully so she and Dahlia can occupy the other two. They order champagne and appetizers, and he finds the two women to be very pleasant company. 

 

“So, you work in VICAP too, then?” he asks Dahlia, and she gives him a confused look. 

 

“No, I work at a little flower shop in Alexandria,” she answers. 

 

“Oh, sorry, I thought Monica said you were partners.”

 

Scully shoots him an embarrassed glare, but Dahlia laughs. 

 

“You know, I always tell Monica she should just call me her girlfriend, but she insists on ‘partner,’” she says, looking at Monica affectionately. He can’t help but smile, realizing he’d missed the very obvious fact that they are lovers. 

 

Girlfriend sounds so juvenile to me,” Monica explains, “partner feels a bit more serious, and permanent.”

 

“It’s okay, mija,” Dahlia continues, “you can call me your partner, hasta el día en que puedas ser mi esposa.”

 

Monica beams at her, and while he didn’t understand a word of that, it’s plainly clear that they are very much in love. 

 

Appetizers come and go, flutes of champagne are emptied and refilled and a second bottle is ordered. Scully brings up Monica’s education and her experiences working at the New Orleans field office, and she and Mulder carry on a conversation about the change in VooDoo practices over the course of generations while Scully and Dahlia discover that they have similar taste in literature. Dahlia is telling a story about reading a Spanish translation of Jane Eyre as a teenager and how she still, to this day, has a hard time not calling him “Señor Rochester,” when the waiter brings by the check and Mulder snatches it away just as Dahlia was reaching for it. 

 

“My treat,” Mulder says, pulling out his wallet. 

 

Dahlia gives Monica a look, saying “me gusta este chico,” and Mulder chuckles.

 

That I understood,” he quips, and they all laugh. 

 

Back at the apartment, they get ready for bed. Scully is standing at the sink brushing her teeth when Mulder slinks up behind her, slipping his hands onto her hips and dipping his head down to kiss her neck. 

 

“Mmm, there’s that champagne,” she says, the words garbled around her toothbrush. 

 

“It’s not that champagne makes me want you, Scully. I always want you. It just makes me a little more bold,” he explains, trailing his fingers down to the hem of her night shirt and lifting it enough to get a look at her panties. 

 

She swats his hand away. “Let me finish brushing my teeth,” she chastises, and he retreats to the bedroom. 

 

She joins him a few minutes later, slipping under the sheets and draping her bare leg over his. He lifts his arm so she can burrow against his torso, her head on his chest. He rubs his hand across her back, eliciting a contented sigh. 

 

“So, what did you think of Monica?” she asks, her fingertips on his ribcage moving in small circles. 

 

“I really like her, I can see why you two hit it off,” he answers. 

 

“She reminds me a little of you, actually,” she says, and he can feel her smile against his skin. “She has some...out there ideas.”

 

“Am I not talking enough about cryptids at home, Scully? You had to go find a friend to supplement?” he asks playfully, dipping his fingers into her armpit briefly in a threat to tickle her. 

 

She clamps her arms against her sides and giggles. “We don’t talk much about that, but when I first met her she told me about my aura, so I figured you two would have some things in common.”

 

“That sounds more like Missy’s purview,” he comments, and then they fall silent for a moment. 

 

“I’m actually really glad we ran into her,” Scully begins, running her hand down his abdomen to rest just beneath his belly button. “There’s something I’ve been thinking about and I wasn’t sure how to bring it up without you having some context.”

 

“Scully, if you’re about to suggest we have a foursome with Monica and Dahlia, I’m going to owe Frohike five hundred bucks,” he interjects. 

 

She scoffs, “in your dreams, Mulder.”

 

“I think you mean Melvin.”

 

“Well, sorry Melvin , but that’s not what I was thinking about.” Her thumb hooks just beneath the elastic of his boxers, his happy trail tickling her skin.

 

“Okay, sorry, what were you thinking about?”

 

“What if,” she begins, dragging her finger back and forth under the fabric, “Monica was your partner. On the X files.”

 

He puts his hand over hers to still the movement, pulling away a bit so she’ll look at him. 

 

“What do you mean, Scully?” He feels a rush of adrenaline, though he’s not yet sure if it’s from excitement or fear. 

 

“I mean, she’s open to...unexplainable phenomena. The two of you get along quite well, and she wouldn't try to debunk your work or scoff at your theories. You said they might let you reopen them if you had a partner you could work with, and I think Monica might be that person.”

 

He considers this for a moment. “Who’s to say she’d even want to, she’s assigned to VICAP-”

 

“She hates VICAP,” Scully interjects, “it’s a bunch of macho men trying to one-up each other. I know she’d be happy to be reassigned, and to work out of the Hoover building. She and Dahlia live in Palisades; her commute sucks.”

 

His mind is reeling, but he doesn’t want to get ahead of himself. “I don’t even know where we’d start, Scully. It seems so unlikely.”

 

“Just ask for a meeting with AD Skinner. If you think it would help for Monica to be a part of that meeting, I know she’d be happy to attend. I’ve told her a bit about The X files and I wouldn’t even bring this up with you unless I was sure she’d be interested. I can talk to her about it on Monday, if you want to give it a shot.”

 

He looks up at the ceiling, eyebrows stitched in thought. Hope pricks at the corners of his mind, but he knows well enough not to let it take root; he’s been disappointed too many times before. He looks over at Scully, her expression holding all the hope that he won’t allow himself to feel. 

 

“Why are you doing this?” he asks gently. 

 

“Because I want you to be happy,” she says earnestly, pulling her hand from beneath his and bringing it to his cheek, “from the moment I met you, I saw how you light up when you talk about The X Files. If there’s a chance you can investigate them again, I want to pursue it.”

 

He sighs, a tender smile tugging at his lips. He turns on his side, pushing his palms under her ass and pulling her on top of him as she giggles. 

 

“Okay, talk to Monica,” he says, sliding his hands under her sleep shirt and up her bare back, “I’ll email Skinner on Monday.”

 

She smiles at him, self-satisfied and victorious. 

 

“Now, about that champagne,” he says, pulling her down for a kiss. 

 


 

 

She nervously checks her email every two minutes, aggressively clicking the send/receive button. Monica and Mulder were meeting with AD Skinner at 11:00am  and it’s now almost 1:00pm and she hasn’t heard anything. That could either be a very good sign, or a very bad one. She has class in ten minutes and needs to head over to the lecture hall to prepare. She refreshes it one more time, and an email pops up. 




From: fmulder@fbi.gov

Sent: September 18, 1997 12:51pm

To: dscully@fbi.gov

Subject: Maybe good news?

 

He didn’t say no, but he didn’t say yes, either. He asked us about 800 questions and then said he had to run it by the section chief. My impression is that he wants to make it work, but obviously it’s not totally within his control. 

 

Fingers crossed. Hopefully we’ll know by Friday. 





She heaves a big sigh, a cautious smile playing on her lips. She shoots him a quick response and then makes her way to class, praying all the way that the answer will be yes. 




 

 

She’d taken that Friday off, for no reason in particular. Ever since Mulder had effectively moved in with her, she liked to take random weekdays off here and there just to have some time to herself. She’d spent the afternoon reading, re-arranging her spice cupboard, and making space for Mulder to have half her dresser instead of just one drawer. She’s sitting on the floor of the bedroom, surrounded by neatly folded stacks of T-shirts and pajama pants, when she hears the front door open. She checks her watch; it’s only 3:00 pm, too early for Mulder to be home. 

 

“Hello?” she calls out nervously. 

 

The bedroom door swings open and Mulder is there, his chest heaving and a dopey smile on his face. 

 

“Is everything okay?” she asks, “what are you doing home?”

 

“It was approved,” he says breathlessly, apparently having run from wherever he parked the car.

 

“What was approved?” she asks, standing. 

 

“The X Files, Scully. They’re reopened, effective Monday, with me and Reyes as the assigned agents,” he says, his smile broadening even further. 

 

Her mouth drops open in disbelief, a surprised smile forming on her lips. She had held out hope, but she was also very aware that the chances were slim. He crosses the room, scooping her up in his arms, her legs wrapping around his hips. 

 

“It never would have happened if it wasn’t for you,” he says, adoration in his eyes. 

 

She kisses him, and he turns to lay her on the bed, shedding his suit jacket and tossing it on the floor. Moving quickly, desperately, he tugs at the waistband of her pants, stripping them off along with her panties, and pushes her shirt up to expose her breasts. He begins kissing her neck, down to her chest and belly, pausing intermittently to speak words of affirmation and gratitude until he reaches the apex of her thighs and is quiet. 

 

He laps at her tenderly, humming and sighing as her body catches up and she feels the flush of desire form in her belly. She pushes her fingers into his hair, scraping gently at his scalp in encouragement as he flicks his tongue against her opening and she bucks her hips in response. His thumb swipes gently over her clit as he pushes his tongue inside her, licking at her increasingly slick walls and making her whimper. After a few minutes, he switches to his fingers inside her and his tongue at her clit. Swirling and sucking until she commands him not to stop, he holds steady as she falls apart against his lips, flexing his fingers deep inside to draw it out. Finally she taps on his head, and he crawls back up to plant soft kisses along her jaw. 

 

“Consider us even,” she breathes out, eyes still closed in bliss. 

 

“I think I might like to continue making it up to you,” he says with a nip to her earlobe, and she laughs. 

 

“Okay, if you insist.”



Chapter Text

“Autopsy bay, this is Trudy...yep, one second.”

 

Trudy shoves her rolling chair across the tiled floor, delivering the cordless phone to Scully with a flourish. 

 

“It’s your man candy,” she says with a smirk, and Scully suppresses an eye-roll as she takes the phone. 

 

“Hi, what’s up?” she greets. Now that he has his own office and more privacy (save for Monica, who’s a friend) he’s taken to calling her more often at work. 

 

“Hey honey, you studied German, right?”

 

“Yes,” she answers, an expectant lilt to her voice. 

 

“What does ‘unruhe’ mean? U-n-r-u-h-e.”

 

“Mulder...is this a work call or a personal call?” she questions in a lecturing voice. 

 

“Work, it’s for a case we’re looking at,” he answers plainly. 

 

She sighs, moving the phone to her other ear and turning away so Trudy can’t hear her. 

 

“Mulder, we’ve discussed this. I don’t mind you calling me for help on cases, I don’t even mind looking over medical files for you. But if you’re calling me as a colleague, then I need you to address me as one.”

 

“Shit, sorry, let’s start over,” he says, and she hears the squeak of him shifting in his chair. She imagines him sitting up straighter, putting forth a professional image, and it makes her smile. 

 

“Hi, what’s up?” she repeats. 

 

“Hello, Dr. Scully, I was wondering if I could ask you to translate some German phrases that appear in a case Agent Reyes and I are investigating, if you have time to spare,” he says in his most distinguished, Special Agent voice. 

 

“Of course, Agent Mulder, I’d be happy to help.”





 



The elevator dings, the doors opening to a quiet and nondescript hallway with a few lonely shelves lining one wall. She steps out, suddenly regretting her insistence that she could find her way to Mulder’s basement office without escort. She makes her way down the hall past a set of bathrooms, and finally arrives outside a closed door. 

 

Fox Mulder

Monica Reyes

 

Only the names of the occupants, not their division, department nor area of expertise are included, presumably because anyone who ends up down here is already aware of what they are walking in to. She knocks three times and waits, smiling in relief when Monica appears on the other side. 

 

“Hi, Dana, you found us!” she muses, then steps aside so Scully can enter. 

 

It’s an odd office, in so many ways. Oddly shaped, with daylight basement windows and a glass-encased annex, the space is long and narrow which makes it feel big and crowded at the same time. The decor is odd; newspaper clippings and kitschy knick knacks on the walls and every available surface. She smiles at the sight of the house-warming gift she’d purchased for Mulder; a full sized poster of a UFO hovering over evergreen trees with “I Want To Believe” emblazoned across the bottom. Mulder had told her about one just like it he’d had in “the good old days,” and she spent the better part of a week tracking one down after they’d gotten word that the files would be reopened. Though they’ve only inhabited this space for a few weeks, it already looks very lived-in.

 

Mulder is sitting on the corner of his desk, remote in hand and a slide projector cart situated in front of him. On the wall across from it is a blown up image of a severed head, the eyes partially closed and the lips hanging open. Scully smiles at Mulder and then glances at the screen, frowning at the image but otherwise unaffected. 

 

“Well look at you,” she says with pride in her voice, crossing the room to stand before him where he touches her waist and places a kiss on her cheek. “And who’s this?” she asks, turning again to the screen. 

 

“This,” Mulder says, standing and moving closer to the image, “is Leonard Betts. Or it was, anyway.”

 

“What’s so special about Mr. Betts that he’s found himself in an X file?” Scully asks. 

 

“Would you believe me if I told you that after Mr. Betts was decapitated, his headless body got up and walked right out of the morgue?” Mulder asks with a cheeky grin, and she glances at Monica, who just shrugs. 

 

“No, I wouldn’t, I’m afraid,” she answers. 

 

“Well, since seeing is believing, Reyes and I will be heading up to Pittsburgh for a few days to have a look for ourselves,” Mulder says as he turns off the projector and wheels the cart into a corner. 

 

Scully’s heart sinks just a little. Mulder had set the expectation that there was quite a bit of travel involved with being assigned to the X files, but this is the first time he’s actually needed to be away overnight for work. Wanting to be supportive, she keeps her expression neutral, betraying nothing. 

 

He approaches her, standing close so that their conversation feels private, even with Monica seated a few feet away. 

 

“Tell Missy and Byers I’m sorry to cancel our dinner plans tomorrow,” he says with a sympathetic frown. 

 

“Will you be home by the weekend?” she asks quietly, “I was hoping to celebrate your birthday on Sunday.”

 

He smiles sadly at her. The topic of his approaching birthday has been one they’ve both grappled with for slightly different reasons. He proclaims to have never cared much about his birthday, but knowing that it will mark one year since she walked down the aisle with Ethan makes her want to do something special, to reset the date, in a way. She wants it to be Mulder’s birthday, not the anniversary of the worst decision she ever made. 

 

“Probably, but I can’t make any promises. I’ll do my best, okay?”

 

She nods, and he leans down to kiss her softly in the middle of her forehead.

 

“I’ll need to swing by the apartment to pack before we leave this evening, so I’ll see you in a bit,” he continues. 

 

She bids Monica farewell and good luck, then rides the elevator back up to a world where headless bodies don’t roam the streets. 





 

 

Mulder flies home Saturday afternoon, giving her just enough time to throw together a small birthday celebration at the Gunmen’s the following night. Sunday evening she’s sifting through her closet, deciding whether to dress up a little for his benefit. Mulder is lying behind her on the bed fully dressed, pretending he’s on standby to offer fashion advice but in reality he’s just staring at her as she walks from the closet to her dresser in her bra and panties. He has confirmed no fewer than six times that birthday sex is a tradition that she believes in, then suggested that it might be applicable on both the day of his birthday party as well as his actual birthday, which is tomorrow. He seems to be looking forward to that more than getting together with his friends. 

 

“What do you want me to wear, Mulder? It’s your birthday, you pick,” she says in a defeated tone, feeling uninspired by everything she owns. 

 

“What you’re wearing is great, just go with that,” he retorts matter-of-factly, and she looks down at her underwear before giving him a sarcastic sneer. 

 

“I’m sure Frohike would love that,” she says, and he makes a face. 

 

“Maybe just jeans and a T-shirt then. I honestly don’t care, honey, wear whatever you want. I’m just going to take it off later anyway.”

 

As he finishes speaking, there’s a knock at the door and he stands to answer it, stopping to give her a quick kiss on the crown of her head as he leaves the room. 

 

She pulls out a pair of dark wash jeans and tugs them on, listening as Mulder opens the door and has a muted conversation with someone. It’s a little bit late in the day for solicitors, but they don’t seem to have any boundaries these days. She’s slipping her arms through the sleeves of a blue sweater when Mulder reappears in the doorway. 

 

“Hey Scully?,” he says, his tone strange and unreadable. 

 

“Hm?” she responds, slipping pearl studs into her ears. 

 

“Someone’s here to see you.”

 

She gives him a quizzical look. “Who?” she asks, and he purses his lips in response. 

 

With a mix of curiosity and trepidation she walks out to the front door, which is slightly ajar. She pulls it open and finds Ethan standing on the other side. Her stomach drops, a flush of adrenaline running from head to toe as ringing sounds off in her ears. She gapes at him, unable to take any kind of action. 

 

“Hi, Dana,” he finally says, somewhat sheepishly. “Sorry to drop by like this, I just, um...I found a spare key to the apartment,” he says, holding up a single key between his thumb and forefinger. “I figured I should return it.”

 

“Oh,” she replies, then holds out her hand. 

 

He places the key in the center of her palm and she closes her fist around it, then drops her arm to her side. They stand there awkwardly, an expectant feeling hanging between them. Though she’d momentarily forgotten Mulder was there, he suddenly appears by her side. 

 

“I need to go run to the store for something, I’ll be right back, okay?” he says, locking eyes with her on the ‘okay.’ She understands it to be him asking if they need privacy, and if she’s comfortable being left alone with Ethan. She nods with a grateful smile. 

 

After Mulder has retreated down the hallway, she stands to the side and gestures for Ethan to come in. He enters the apartment cautiously, looking around. She closes the door but stays near it.

 

“Looks different in here,” he remarks, standing behind one of the dining room chairs and resting his palms on it.

 

She nods and shrugs.

 

“Was that, uh...is that your boyfriend?” he asks, hitching his thumb towards the door. 

 

Her shoulders drop, a pained expression falling over her face. “Ethan...” she begins, ready to ask him if he came here just to guilt trip her. 

 

“Sorry, forget I asked,” he interjects, shaking his head. “I didn’t come here to give you a hard time, Dana, I promise. I just…” he looks around again, pulling in a deep breath. “You know it will be a year tomorrow, since...and I wanted to tell you that I’m sorry. For what happened, and also how things ended.”

 

She furrows her eyebrows. “What do you have to be sorry for?” she asks. 

 

“I might have said the same thing earlier this year,” he says with a self-deprecating laugh, “but I’ve done a lot of reflecting since we split and I realized that I wasn’t paying a lot of attention to the signals you were sending me. In retrospect, it was pretty obvious that you were having doubts, and I just kind of crossed my fingers and soldiered on. And then after the wedding, you were so unhappy. I just chose not to see it, I guess. And that was wrong of me.”

 

She feels tears welling in her eyes and her throat becomes tight. She doesn’t trust herself to speak so she just nods. 

 

“I recently started seeing someone,” Ethan continues, “and it’s pretty new, but it’s really made it clear to me that you and I just weren’t a good match. Not because anything was wrong, but...it wasn’t right either, you know?”

 

She nods again, crossing her arms over her chest as a tear spills over and runs down to her chin. 

 

“So, anyway, I won’t take up any more of your time. I just think a lot about how things ended the last time we saw each other, and how angry I was, and I wanted you to know that I get it now. I understand why you did what you did. And I’m glad that you didn’t spend twenty years suffering through it just to prove a point. We both deserve better than what we had.”

 

Her face is now contorted into a grimace as she tries to keep from falling apart entirely, overwhelmed with relief and gratitude, and this opportunity to atone. Ethan moves to the door, pulling it open. As he steps into the hall, she clears her throat and forces out the only words she can muster. 

 

“Thank you,” she squeaks, and he turns to look back at her. 

 

With all the anger and resentment faded away, the grief and the guilt washed clean, she sees again the man she once loved very much, who was a good partner to her, even if he wasn’t “the one.”

 

She moves towards him and he opens his arms, enveloping her in a tight hug. When he loosens his grip, she steps back so she’s just inside the apartment, sniffing and wiping her nose on the back of her hand. 

 

“Goodbye, Dana,” he says with a sad smile. 

 

“Bye,” she says, and closes the door. 

Chapter Text

While at first the days and nights that Mulder is away on a case feel lonely, she soon comes to appreciate the time to herself. She reads more, watches the rom-coms that he despises, has one-sided conversations with Priscilla, and gives her vibrator, long since relegated to the back of her bedside drawer, a second lease on life. When Mulder is home he’s more animated and energetic, their sex exciting and passionate. The things she loves best about him are magnified, but also some of the worst. There have been a few nights he’s missed dinner without so much as a phone call, and her worry quickly gave way to irritation when he waltzed in the door raving about secret storage facilities hidden in mountains. They create new routines, new boundaries and expectations, and as time wears on, they adjust. He’ll call if he’s going to miss dinner, and she won’t guilt trip him when unexpected cases ruin their plans. 

 

The day before Thanksgiving, he gets a tip from one of his sources about a UFO crash site in Utah and books himself and Monica tickets for that night. Scully questions whether he’s going to miss Thanksgiving dinner at her mother’s and he grimaces, saying he hopes to be back but as usual, can’t make any promises. 

 

The last she hears from him is around 8:00 am on Thanksgiving day when he asks her to send his regrets to her mom. She tries to keep the disappointment out of her voice as she promises to pack up some leftovers for him to have when he gets home. When he hasn’t called by Friday afternoon, she’s a little bit worried. By Friday night, she’s panicking. 

 

Not knowing what else to do, she goes to the Gunmen’s, using her own special knock that spells out “doc” in Morse code. 

 

“Hey, Sis, are you okay?” Missy greets her with a worried frown, now an honorary fourth member of the trio.

 

“I haven’t heard from Mulder in over twenty four hours,” she answers, breezing past Missy and into the tech room. “I need you to find him for me.”

 

The Gunmen work their magic while Missy pours her drink after drink. They track his flight into Salt Lake City and then ping his cell phone just outside Provo around 8:00 pm Thursday night. After that, nothing.

 

“What do you know about the case he was investigating?” Byers asks, perched behind a computer with Missy’s arms draped over his shoulders, her chin resting on his head. 

 

Scully rubs her hands over her face in frustration. “Nothing, other than an alleged UFO crash site. He didn’t give me any other information.”

 

“What about his partner, Agent Reyes?” Langly asks, “do you have any way to get ahold of her?”

 

“I’ve tried her cell a hundred times, it’s off,” Scully replies, feeling tears coming up again. 

 

“Does she have a family, someone else you could contact to see if she’s been in touch?” Byers adds. 

 

“She has a partner, Dahlia,” Scully explains, “but I don’t know her last name to look up her number. I’m sure it’s in Monica’s file as her emergency contact, but the whole Hoover Building is shut down for the holiday. I know that her first name is Dahlia, she works at a flower shop in Alexandria, and they live in Palisades. That’s it.”

 

“Well we can work with that, why don’t you go home and get some rest?” Frohike offers, resting his hand on her shoulder. 

 

She shakes her head, quiet tears slipping down her cheeks. “I don’t want to be alone,” she whispers, her voice small and afraid. 

 

“I’ll come with you, Sis,” Missy says, replacing Frohike behind Scully and wrapping her arms around her sister’s shoulders. 

 

After Missy has gathered her things and kissed Byers goodbye, she drives Scully’s car back to her apartment and plies her with more alcohol. They hold hands as they sleep, Scully’s dreams plagued by visions of Mulder detained, hurt, or worst of all, dead. If she’d had any idea that having the X files reopened would put his life at risk, she never would have entertained the idea. 

 

Please come home, she begs God, the universe, Mulder himself if he’s somewhere listening. Please be okay

 

The phone shrieks and she sits up abruptly, her head spinning. Early dawn light is just beginning to seep into the room and she feels like she hasn’t slept at all. 

 

“Mulder?!” she blurts out, a thousand prayers on the tip of her tongue. 

 

“No, it’s Langly, sorry. We got a number for Agent Reyes’ partner.”

 

Missy is now awake, and scrambles to the hallway to get a pen and paper so Scully can write down Dahlia Vidales’ phone number. 

 

“Thank you Langly, bye,” she says and hangs up without waiting for a response. She dials Dahlia’s number with shaky hands, repeating please please please in her head over and over. 

 

“Bueno,” says a creaky voice, and Scully glances at the clock to see that it’s only 6:00 am. 

 

“Dahlia?” she asks desperately, her head feeling thick and muddy. 

 

“¿Si, Quién es?”

 

“This is Dana Scully, have you heard from Monica recently?” Her throat feels thick and dry, her ears ringing in protest of what they might hear. 

 

“Oh, Hi Dana. Yes, I spoke to her last night around ten pm.”

 

She lets out a shaky breath, feeling a wave of relief. 

 

“Was Mulder with her?” she questions, her jaw quivering. 

 

“Si, she said their cell phones were confiscated and they had stopped at a diner to get something to eat. She called me from a payphone. Is everything okay, Dana?”

 

She’s shaking, her body suddenly freezing even under her down comforter. The tension she’s been holding for the last two days erupts in a wave of tremors and she starts sobbing. 

 

“Did she say when they’ll be home?” she forces out around her tears. 

 

“They were hoping to get a flight this morning, so sometime today, should be.”

 

“Thank you, Dahlia. Sorry to wake you,” she says, and hangs up. 

 

Missy holds her as she shakes uncontrollably, her head aching as her racking sobs jostle her dehydrated brain. Missy runs her a hot bath and after some ibuprofen, two big glasses of water, a set of warm clothes and a hot meal, she feels physically much better. 

 

Mentally, she has shifted from worry, fear, and despair to white hot rage. When he walks in that door, she is going to kill him. 




 

 

“Later, Reyes, sorry to hijack your Thanksgiving,” he says with a regretful smile as Monica slides into a cab. He grabs the next one, chucking his duffel bag into the trunk and slumping into the back seat with an exhausted sigh. 

 

It’s been a long few days. They’d located the crash site and even got a little peek at it from behind a utility shed, but soon after they were loaded up in a paddy wagon and interrogated for six hours in a place that was definitely not a police station. When they were finally released, it was without their cell phones, though the suits were kind enough to let them keep their FBI badges. 

 

He needs a shower and a shave, and a good night's sleep. He hopes Scully has gone grocery shopping, and if he's really lucky, there will still be Thanksgiving leftovers. He’d tried calling her from the terminal but she hadn’t answered. At least he has a full day off tomorrow before getting back to the daily grind on Monday. 

 

The cab drops him off outside Scully’s apartment building and he tosses some money over the seat before retrieving his bag. Once inside, he’s fitting his key into the lock when the door swings open and he finds Melissa on the other side. 

 

“Oh, hey Missy,” he says with a touch of surprise. 

 

“I was just leaving,” she replies with an icy stare, and he wonders if something is up with her and Byers. 

 

“Okay, see ya,” he says as she brushes past him and down the hall. 

 

The apartment is dim, a fire crackling in the fireplace the only source of light. 

 

“Scully?” he calls out as Priscilla trots up to him, rubbing her flank against his leg. He picks her up and scratches under her chin, letting her rub her cheek against his two-day stubble. 

 

“I’m here,” Scully says flatly, and he realizes she’s lying on the couch. 

 

He picks up his bag and walks it to the bedroom, dropping it on the floor and discarding his suit jacket on the bed. Returning to the living room, he leans down to kiss her on the cheek and then stands between the fire and the couch, facing her. 

 

“Did you have plans for dinner?” he asks, “I’m starving.”

 

She scoffs, but he can’t make out her face in the dim light. 

 

“Make your own fucking dinner,” she spits at him, and he physically recoils. Scully very rarely swears, so when she does, it means something. 

 

“Whoa,” he says with a concerned tone, “What’s going on with you?”

 

“What’s going on with me?” she repeats, moving to sit up. “What’s going on with me? Hmm, let’s see,” she continues, her voice shifting to angry sarcasm. “Perhaps, Mulder, what’s going on with me is that my boyfriend skipped town just in time to miss Thanksgiving dinner with my family and I had to answer questions all night about where he was. Or maybe,” she says as she leans over and snaps on the lamp on the end table, illuminating her face. Her eyes are red and puffy, pronounced bags resting underneath them. “Maybe it’s the fact that I didn’t hear from you for over fifty hours , not a single phone call, or email, nothing . Maybe what’s going on with me, Mulder, is that I have barely slept in two days.” She stands, moving towards him, her voice rising in volume and her bottom lip quivering. “Maybe what’s going on with me is that I thought you were fucking dead , and I had to track down Dahlia to learn that not only were you alive and well, but you were also perfectly capable of calling me, but simply chose not to. MAYBE that is what is going on with me, Mulder!”

 

He stands there shell-shocked as she pushes past him, slamming the bedroom door shut as wails of agony erupt from the other side. Priscilla jumps up on to the coffee table and quirks her head at him with a meow. 

 

“I have no idea,” he says to the cat. 

 

He cautiously opens the bedroom door and finds Scully sitting cross-legged in the middle of the bed, a wad of tissues in her hand and tears streaking her face. She looks up at him with a wounded expression that he’s never seen before, and would never like to again 

 

“I’m sorry, Scully, I didn’t mean to make you worry,” he says softly, approaching her. 

 

She gives him an incredulous look. 

 

“How the hell would I not worry if I hear nothing from you for two days, Mulder? What was I supposed to think? And why didn’t you call me?”

 

“They took my phone,” he offers, stuffing his hands in his pockets. 

 

“What about the phone in your hotel room, Mulder? Or a pay phone, or a goddamn stranger’s phone. Your cell phone is not the only device available for you to contact me with.”

 

He’s starting to feel like he’s being lectured by his mother for staying out past curfew. 

 

“Okay, Jesus, I get it. I’ll try to call next time,” he says with an irritated tone. 

 

“You’ll try ?” Scully asks him, the anger taking center stage again. 

 

He shrugs. “Shit happens, Scully. You don’t know what it’s like out in the field. Sometimes you don’t have access to a phone, or you’re running down a lead and just can’t waste the time to make a call.”

 

The shift in her demeanor tells him that was the wrong thing to say. 

 

“Waste the time?” she asks in a tight whisper. “Calling me so I know you’re okay is a waste of your time?”

 

“God, no, Scully, that’s not what I meant. You’re twisting my words around. Look, I’m exhausted, I’ve barely gotten any sleep, can we talk about this tomorrow?”

 

“YOU’VE barely gotten any sleep?!” she screams, then stands and walks towards him. Even with the ten inches he has on her, she looks larger than life, imposing, and scary. “I have been lying awake crying for two days worried about you!” she shouts up at him. “Get the fuck out of my apartment!”

 

He’s dumbstruck. He can’t remember the last time she referred to it as her apartment instead of theirs. 

 

“Scully, you can’t be serious, all my stuff is he-”

 

“I said get OUT!” She cuts him off. She picks up his bag and walks it to the front door, tossing it into the hallway. 

 

He walks slowly towards the door, waiting for her to say she doesn’t mean it, that they should get some sleep and talk about this in the morning. She stands beside the open door, her chest heaving and her jaw set, eyes focused on some far-away point but most certainly not on him. He steps into the hallway, opening his mouth to speak, and she slams the door in his face. 

 

He hears the thunk of the deadbolt, and the sound strikes him as similar to the final nail in a coffin. 

Chapter Text

His apartment smells stale and dusty. His thrice weekly trips here to feed his fish are always quick and procedural; he hasn’t stopped to take in the state of the place in a while. A thick layer of dust covers most surfaces, his mattress is bare and there is no toilet paper in the bathroom. He sighs, frustrated and annoyed as he roots around in the closet for a set of sheets to make up the bed. He showers, remembering that his shower head is way too low for his tall frame, and misses Scully’s more luxurious setup. 

 

He also, of course, misses Scully. He understands why she’s upset; he should have called, but the degree of her anger confuses him. When the X files reopened, he talked to her about the need to travel, and the potential for cases to disrupt their personal life. She said she understood, and they’ve worked through several hiccups already. So while he knew she’d be disappointed that he missed Thanksgiving and maybe even irritated at his lack of communication, he’d never anticipated being thrown out of her apartment. 

 

He crawls into his bed, cold and lonely. They just both need a good night's sleep and this will blow over tomorrow, he’s sure. When he’s more well-rested, he’ll be able to explain, to help her understand. 

 

In the morning, he feels a bit more clear-headed, but still decidedly off-balance; he needs to make things right with Scully. He packs up his things, feeds the fish, and drives back over to her apartment. He opens the door and finds the place quiet, the lights out. Something seems off, but he doesn’t immediately recognize what it is. 

 

“Priscilla,” he calls, realizing that the cat hadn’t come to greet him at the door like she typically does. 

 

He walks through to the bedroom, the bathroom, but there’s no sign of either of them. Back in the living room, he sees that the litter box is gone and his heart sinks. He goes back to the bedroom and throws open closets and drawers, checks the medicine cabinet. Scully’s overnight bag is gone, as is her toothbrush and the toiletries she uses daily. His heart starts racing, panic setting in at the idea that she’s left him, and taken his cat with her. This is worse than he’d initially thought, a lot worse. 

 

He goes to the hallway and picks up the phone to try her cell, but it’s off. He tries her mother, who hasn’t spoken to her today. He tries Missy, who doesn’t answer. Not knowing what else to do, he calls Valerie. 

 

“Hi, Will, good to hear from you,” she says, and he can hear the gurgle of her infant daughter in the background. Thankfully, he’d thought to call her a couple weeks ago and offer congratulations on her new arrival, so this phone call today won’t seem totally selfish. 

 

“Hey, Val, I hope you and the baby are doing well,” he says, “I’m sorry to drop this on you, but I’m somewhat in need of advice.”

 

“Yikes, what’d you do?” she asks knowingly, and he hears her speak in hushed tones to her boyfriend as he takes the baby. 

 

“I fucked up, Val. She’s gone,” he chokes out, tears constricting his throat. 

 

Sitting heavily on the couch, he tells her about the X files reopening, about missing Thanksgiving, about Scully’s irrationally explosive reaction. She listens quietly, asking a few clarifying questions. 

 

“I feel totally blindsided, Val. You and I were together when I was assigned to the X files before, and I had cases like this that took me away at odd times, but it wasn’t an issue. I don’t understand why it’s one now. I’m not sure which one of us is out of line here.”

 

“Wow, okay, where to start,” Valerie begins. “First of all, I think you’re both out of line. You are an epically huge asshole, Will, no question there, but taking your cat and disappearing is a bit much.”

 

He feels a pang of defensiveness for her saying something unflattering about Scully, but he pushes it down. 

 

“Something else that strikes me,” she continues, “is your questionably accurate recollection of what our relationship was like when you were assigned to the X files.”

 

“What do you mean?” he asks, sitting up. 

 

“Maybe I did a better job of hiding it than I thought, but I fucking hated that assignment, Will. I was relieved when it was shut down, but you were so upset I didn’t think it would be helpful for me to tell you as much at the time.”

 

“You hated it? Why? I always felt like you were supportive,” he asks, questioning his entire understanding of their relationship. 

 

“I tried to be, but it sucked always coming second. I understood why it was so important to you in terms of trying to find out what happened to Samantha so I dealt with it, but it was kind of like the X files was the other woman in your life. I knew that if it came down to it and you had to choose, you’d choose her. It was really painful. I honestly think if they hadn’t been shut down, we probably would have broken up a lot sooner.”

 

He runs his free hand over his face. “Then what do I do? Quit the X files after I worked so hard to get them back? I haven’t felt this satisfied with work in years, I don’t want to have to do that.”

 

“I don’t think you need to quit, you just need to learn how to prioritize things differently. She needs to know she comes first.”

 

“That’s not how it works, Val, you know that. When a lead comes across my desk, I have to run it down. I have to go out, investigate. I have to find answers.”

 

“No, Will,” she says with a sympathetic sigh, “You don’t have to do that. You choose to. And you choose to do it at her expense. That’s exactly why she’s so upset. Even if in your mind it feels like you don’t have a choice, you do. That might mean missing out sometimes, passing on a case or not finding the answers. But you can’t have it both ways. You can put the X files first and be alone, or you can put her first and sometimes miss an opportunity to investigate the files.”

 

“Is it really that simple?” he asks flatly. 

 

“It really is,” she answers. “The truth is, Will, that you may love those files, but they’ll never love you back. You’ll find yourself a lonely old man if you don’t get your priorities straight.”

 

He slumps down on the couch with a defeated sigh. 

 

“Thanks, Val. I’m really grateful that I can talk to you about this,” he says earnestly. 

 

“Happy to be of service,” she says lightly. “Let me tell you something else, Will,” she adds, “you better work this shit out before you have kids with her, because it gets twenty times harder.”

 

He chuffs a laugh, but the thought of having kids with Scully simultaneously makes him feel elated and terrified, because he’s not sure if he’s already messed it up too badly for that to be an option anymore. 




 

 

She’s curled up on her side in the middle of Missy’s bed, Priscilla tucked against her belly and purring loudly. 

 

Missy spends most of her time at John’s these days, so she offered her apartment as a place for Dana to crash, or hide out, or whatever it is that she’s doing. She’s honestly not sure, she just knows that she needs to be away from Mulder. To get space, to give it, to punish him, maybe all of those things. She wants him to hurt like she did, to not know where she is or when she’ll be back. She hopes that he fears she might be gone for good, though she knows she’s not. Taking Priscilla was just logical; having no idea when Mulder might come home she couldn’t very well leave her there to fend for herself. Knowing that it will add salt to the wound does give her some sick satisfaction, though. 

 

The house phone rings and she lets it go, given that it’s not her apartment. The answering machine kicks on and Missy speaks to her as the message plays, telling her to pick up. 

 

“Hello?” she answers, catching it just before Missy hangs up.

 

“Hey, Mulder is on his way over there,” Missy says breathlessly. 

 

“What? Why?” she asks, not sure if she’s ready to see him. 

 

“He showed up here, he’s been looking all over for you. He asked me if I knew where you were and I said no, but I’m a shitty liar, Sis.”

 

“Okay, I guess I have to talk to him sometime,” she answers, a sick feeling churning in her gut. 

 

“Call me after, okay? Good luck.”

 

She relocates to the living room, not wanting this conversation to take place on Missy’s bed, and waits. The longer she waits, the more on edge she feels. When the knock finally comes, Priscilla startles and runs into the bathroom. 

 

She stokes her own anger as she walks to the door, straightening her posture. She is mad, indignant, furious, ready to go into battle. That is, until she opens the door and sees his crumpled expression, his hooded eyes contrite and devastated. All the anger pours out through her heels, replaced by grief and fear. She feels her chin pucker, her nose burning as emotion wells in her throat. 

 

“Scully,” he croaks out, and she steps forward, opening her arms to him. He folds against her like a rag doll, this big, strong man suddenly like putty. They make their way to the couch and he curls into her lap like a child, crying softly with a tortured grimace. She pets his hair, not offering any words of reassurance, but letting him know she’s there. He sits up a little, wrapping his arms around her rib cage and tucking his face into her neck.

 

“I’m so sorry,” he says in a harsh whisper, and her heart aches. She wants to forgive him, but sorry is not enough. 

 

“I can’t live this way, Mulder,” she says against his shoulder, and he pulls back to look at her, not sure what she means. “I grew up watching my mother wait for my father to come home,” she explains. “Each time he didn’t write when he said he would, or call on a scheduled day, every time there was something about a navy ship in the news. We waited up, praying that he was okay, and it was torture. I swore that I would never put myself or my children in that position, and it’s a promise I intend to keep.”

 

His gaze drops away from her face and he nods sadly. “I didn’t understand, Scully, how to have both the X files and a relationship. I thought I was doing what had to be done, but I see now that I wasn’t putting you first, and I’m sorry. I’m going to do things differently, I promise. Please, give me another chance to get it right.” 

 

He lifts his eyes to meet hers and she can see that he really means it, that he really understands. She nods, and he kisses her desperately; her lips, her cheeks, her ears, her hair. He kisses down her neck as he clings to her, his hands touching her back, her arms, her thighs. 

 

“I was so scared, Scully,” he squeaks out between kisses. “I love you so much, and I was so afraid I ruined everything.”

 

He kisses the tears from her cheeks, finding her lips again as she grips the back of his neck, pushing her tongue into his mouth hungrily, needing him so much closer. He shifts to put his back against the couch, pulling her into his lap and gripping her hips, arching his pelvis up into her. 

 

She’s overwhelmed with arousal, and love, and desperation. He pushes the hem of her shirt up and over her head, finding her braless, and sucks a nipple between his lips. She whimpers, slipping her hand down to rub her palm roughly over the bulge in his jeans and eliciting a deep moan from his throat. She stands suddenly, pulling down her cotton pants and panties, and he follows suit, standing just long enough to push his jeans and boxers down to his knees, sitting again as she climbs astride him. She impales herself on his erection, crying out in relief as they move together, foreheads resting against each other and their eyes locked as she flexes her hips forward and back, pleasure taking away all the hurt and pain. 

 

When she closes her eyes to focus on the sensations, he brings his mouth to her ear, teasing at the lobe with his tongue and whispering to her, his thumb appearing against her clit and sending shockwaves down her legs. 

 

“I love you so much. You’re the most important thing in the world to me, okay? You’re the only thing that matters.” His affirmations flood her with dopamine and she comes hard around him, the feeling extending to the tips of her fingers and turning her joints to jelly. He clutches her to him, finding his own release as he continues to make grand declarations of forever

 

As they come down, he peppers her with kisses in the same way he’d started, desperation replaced with contentment. He pulls back a little to look at her. 

 

“Will you come home?” he asks hopefully, and she nods with a soft smile. 

 

“Don’t ever tell Missy we had sex on her couch,” she says, and they both laugh. 

 

Chapter Text

“Hi,” she greets him as he walks in the door, “I have something for you.”

 

She’s perched in the armchair, a smile that’s coy and playful curling the corners of her mouth. He gives her a curious smirk as he slips off his shoes and overcoat. 

 

“Okay, like a gift?” he asks, crossing the room to plant a kiss on her lips, stealing another to enjoy the warm feeling of her mouth against his, which is chilled from the wintery air outside. 

 

She shakes her head as he goes into the bedroom, changing into sweats and a T-shirt. 

 

“You’re going to have to find it,” she calls from the other room, and he smiles to himself. 

 

This is his favorite version of her; playful and flirtatious, quick to smile and laugh. He loves all aspects of her personality, but the rarity of this one makes it feel special. She almost never acts this way in front of anyone else, even her family; it feels like it’s just for him. He moves to stand at the threshold of the living room, leaning against the wall. 

 

“Are you going to give me a hint?” he asks, and she considers the question with a thinking man pose.

 

“Well, I will tell you that right now you are very, very, cold,” she finally says. 

 

His eyebrows lift in understanding and he walks back into the bedroom. 

 

“Colder!” she calls, and he moves to the kitchen. 

 

“Still cold.”

 

He walks to her desk. 

 

“Mmm, slightly warmer.”

 

Next he steps close to the fireplace. 

 

“A little warmer.”

 

He turns to look at her and narrows his eyes. He takes a step towards her. 

 

“Oh, warmer.”

 

He stands directly in front of her chair. 

 

“Getting hot,” she says with a playful lilt to her voice. 

 

He drops to his knees between her legs. 

 

“Very, very hot.”

 

He slips his fingers into the waistband of her pants.

 

“On fire,” She says with a smile. 

 

He moves to pull her pants down and the tips of his fingers meet with something foreign near the top of her thigh. He quirks his head quizzically, fitting his whole hand into her pant leg and pulling out two long strips of cardstock. Airline tickets. 

 

“How do you feel about a California Christmas?” she asks hopefully, and he looks at the tickets to see that the destination is San Diego, December 22nd. 

 

He knew that she and her mother had been talking about flying out to see Bill for the holiday, but he’d assumed that he’d be left at home. 

 

“What about Priscilla?” he asks, both touched that she wants to include him in her family’s celebration and nervous about meeting her older brother, who he understands will hate him by default. 

 

“We can ask the Gunmen to look after her,” she offers. “Unless you don’t want to come with me?” 

 

He can tell by her tone that it’s not meant to be a way for him to opt out, but a test of his willingness to go. She clearly wants him to. 

 

“Of course I want to go with you,” he replies, moving close and wrapping his arms around her waist. “I will admit to being a little worried about meeting your brother, and in his home, on his turf.”

 

She gives him a sympathetic smile. “Don’t worry too much about Bill. Missy and Charlie are going, and Mom of course, and they love you. I know Tara will too. So even if he does pull the big brother card and give you a hard time, we have strength in numbers.”

 

“Is Byers going?” he asks hopefully, and she shakes her head. “Missy only just barely told Mom about him. It’s too soon for them.”

 

“But not for us?” he asks with the smile he reserves for the times when she alludes to the seriousness of their commitment. 

 

She shakes her head slowly. “Not for us,” she says. 




 

 

“Oh my god, I’m going to lose my mind, Mulder.”

 

She’s pacing around the apartment, putting things into different piles and open suitcases, her level of stress palpable in the air. 

 

“Honey, stop for a second,” he says, grabbing her by the shoulders and dipping his head to meet her eye. “Take a deep breath,” he instructs, waiting as she does so. “We don’t need to leave for the airport for another twelve hours,” he says, keeping his own tone calm and level to counter hers, “we have plenty of time to pack.”

 

“It’s not just the packing, Mulder, this entire week was a nightmare. Everything I was hoping to accomplish before this trip was waylaid in one way or another; I missed my doctor’s appointment because of an emergency autopsy and forgot to reschedule it before they closed on Friday, Trudy was out sick half the week so I had to absorb her workload, the dry cleaners lost the dress I was going to bring for Christmas Eve mass, Priscilla is out of food AND litter, and I can’t find my earplugs for the plane,” she rattles off. 

 

He pulls her into a hug, feeling her relax a bit with the contact. 

 

“I will go pick up cat food, litter and earplugs,” he says, pulling away to look at her again, “and I’ll remind you to call the doctor tomorrow and reschedule. Wear that blue dress with the little flowers on it to mass, it looks beautiful on you. And try to breathe,” he finishes, giving her a sympathetic smile.  

 

She forces a small smile onto her mouth and takes another deep breath. “Thank you,” she says quietly. 

 

He pours her a big glass of wine before bundling himself up against the cold and venturing out into the December night. 

 


 

 

She glances at Mulder intermittently, watching for signs of overwhelm. She knows that coming from a small, dysfunctional family means that he’s not accustomed to the type of gathering they are currently entrenched in; the entire Scully clan plus Tara’s parents and brother, and several members of their church. He seems to be faring okay, sipping a beer while talking sports with Charlie and a few others.

 

As nervous as he’d been about meeting Bill, he was well prepared. Scully directed him to speak highly of the Chargers while eviscerating the Patriots, and to go easy on the PDA. While they aren’t exactly best friends, Bill doesn’t seem to actively dislike him, and they are calling that a win. 

 

She’d fully expected them to be set up in separate rooms given Bill’s traditional family values, but the number of people who needed to be housed made that impractical. They ended up relegated to the guest room and a single twin bed, though the enormous stack of pillows and blankets arranged on it suggest that one of them is expected to make a bed on the floor. They don’t do that, of course, instead sleeping nested together like spoons, Mulder continuously making half-hearted attempts at getting frisky while she laughs and slaps his hand away. 

 

They are dressed for midnight mass on Christmas Eve, Scully in her flowered blue dress and Mulder in one of his typical weekday suits. They sit in the pew between Mom and Charlie, hands clasped chastely on the bench between them, suppressing giggles as he leans over to warn her that he is at risk of bursting into flame. He traces patterns on her palm with his index finger and she realizes at some point that they are letters. She concentrates, trying to understand his message, expecting it to be ‘I love you’ or something similarly sweet. When she puts together that he is spelling out ‘sex tonight?’ she looks over at him with wide eyes and then purses her lips together tightly to keep from laughing, doing her best to glare at him. 

 

They file sleepily through the door at nearly 2am, quietly going off into their respective bedrooms and pull-out couches, hoping to get some rest before Christmas festivities in the morning. Scully quickly brushes her teeth and washes her face before darting to the bedroom, wriggling under the covers and pressing her back against Mulder, her cold toes brushing against his shins. 

 

“Hm, you’re cold,” he says softly, wrapping his arm around her waist and pulling her closer. 

 

“Thanks for going to mass,” she whispers back, “it meant a lot to my mom to have all of us there.”

 

“Thanks for inviting me,” he answers, his breath hot on her neck, “it’s nice to feel like a part of a real family.”

 

She threads her fingers through his where they rest on her belly, squeezing his hand. She tries to go to sleep, but his chest rising and falling against her back and the heat of his groin tucked against her backside are distracting. She wiggles a little bit against him. 

 

“Hmmm,” he responds, thrusting his hips against her gently. 

 

She swore that she was not going to have sex at her brother’s house. She knows that they can go without for the week they are here. But as she feels him grow hard against her ass, the throbbing between her legs suggests otherwise. No doubt it’s exacerbated by the forbidden nature of the situation; the door doesn’t have a lock and the house is quiet and still, though packed with enough ears that the risk of being heard is high. When his lips press against the back of her neck, she knows she’s done for. 

 

She reaches behind herself to slip her hand into his pajama pants, stroking him firmly as he breathes hard into her ear, suppressing the groan that she knows would normally result from her touch. He pushes his pants down to his knees with one hand, then hurriedly brings hers down as well. She emits a small gasp when he slips inside her, simultaneously pushing his hand under her pajama top to squeeze her breast. 

 

“Jesus fuck, you’re wet,” he whispers harshly in her ear, and she wants to make a joke about not taking the lord’s name in vain on his birthday but when he starts pumping in and out deliciously slowly, the thought slips from her mind. 

 

If he moves too quickly the bed squeaks, so he keeps a languid pace as he pinches her nipples and kisses her neck, then slides his hand down to play with her clit in the tight space between her legs, which are still pinned together by the pajama pants around her knees. It feels incredible, and yet the necessary slowness and need to stay quiet make her wonder if she will be able to come. As if intuiting this, Mulder withdraws momentarily, sitting up and freeing her top leg from her pants, then lies back down and hitches her ankle behind his knee; her favorite position. He pulls the blanket back over them for warmth and modesty, though if anyone were to walk in now they’d have no chance of plausible deniability. With more room to move, he resumes his slow strokes and pairs them with hard and fast circles around her clit, murmuring little affirmations into her ear so softly she can barely hear them, much less anyone else. The vibration of his voice, the slip of his cock, the rough brush of his fingers, all come together in crescendo as she stiffens in his arms, turning to muffle her cries against his mouth as she comes. Now able to focus on his own release, he continues to pump slowly, pressing his face into her neck and letting out a low growl as she feels him throbbing inside her. 

 

He slips quietly out of the bed, retrieving one of his dirty T shirts and swiping it between her legs before he pulls her pajama pants back into place. They get comfortable again, the sexual tension that had prevented them from relaxing before now dissipated. 

 

He kisses her cheek softly, murmuring “Merry Christmas, Scully,” into her ear just before she drifts off to sleep. 

 

In the morning, they sit around the lit tree, drinking coffee and eating pastries as they shake off sleep. 

 

“Is your house haunted, Bill?” Charlie asks, and Bill gives him a doubtful look. “I swear I heard some weird noises, like creaking and whispering, I felt like I was in a horror movie,” Charlie defends.

 

Scully hides her face behind her coffee cup, glancing over to see Missy giving her a pointed look. 

 

“I’m sure it was just the Christmas spirit,” Maggie says jovially. “Who wants to open presents?!”







Chapter Text

“Five, four, three, two, one, Happy New Year!”

 

Auld Lang Syne erupts from the speakers at the Gunmen’s, everyone finding someone, or something, to kiss. Scully smiles at the sight of Missy and Byers, snuggled in the corner of the couch smirking around a series of small pecks, whispering something to each other meant only for their ears. 

 

“Sorry, poorly timed bathroom break,” Mulder says as he approaches, putting one hand at the small of her back and the other across her shoulders as he dips like he’s a sailor returning from sea. She squeals, then kisses him in earnest with her hands cradling his face, stopping only when Frohike suggests they get a room. They straighten up, her palms on his chest as his rest just above her tailbone. She beams up at him, optimistic and excited to embark on 1998 as a team. What a difference a year makes , she thinks to herself. 

 

“Happy New Year, Scully,” he says with an affectionate smile. 

 

“Happy New Year, Mulder.”




 

 

“Ugh, do we have to go?” she whines, curled up on the couch under a blanket. 

 

“Do we have to go to your birthday party? I’m thinking yes,” he says, crouching down next to her. 

 

“I’m sleepy,” she says, tugging on his hand, “let’s take a nap.”

 

He sighs. “That sounds very enticing, but you already took a nap today and we have to be at your mom’s in forty-five minutes.”

 

She makes a face. “Fine, but she better have coffee made.”

 

“She always does,” he replies, pulling her to her feet. “But drinking coffee at 6:00 pm is probably why you’re so tired in the first place. You’re not sleeping well at night.”

 

She gives him a deadpan expression. “I totally missed you getting your doctorate in medicine, Mulder. You hid it so well.”

 

He gives her a playful slap on the butt. “Get going, little lady, we’re gonna be late.”

 

There’s dinner, cake, and a small set of gifts. Missy and Byer’s give her a very fancy set of bubble bath and bath salts, while Charlie opts for a VHS of Weekend at Bernies , which she begrudgingly admits is one of her favorites. Mom gives her two tickets to see Chicago live on Broadway, and insists that she won’t be upset if Dana takes Mulder instead of her. She opens Mulder’s gift last, having already warned him that if it were something inappropriate to open in front of her family, she would punish him profusely. He insisted it was totally safe, so she accepts the large flat rectangular package from him with only a hint of skepticism. She tears the paper away to find a large frame, nearly the size of a poster, with a dark blue circle occupying most of the framed area. Within the circle is a series of white dots and lines of varying sizes. Beneath it is a date and set of coordinates. 

 

May 29, 1996

38.5313718, -77.4456233

 

She feels her throat constrict with emotion and bites her lip to try and stave off the tears. 

 

“What does it mean?” Missy asks. 

 

“It’s a constellation map,” Byers answers, “it shows the night sky on a specific date and at a specific location. Those are coordinates.”

 

“For where?” Missy inquires further. 

 

“Quantico,” Scully answers tightly, standing to thread her arms around Mulder’s neck. “Thank you,” she whispers, and he gives her a little squeeze. 

 

“It was written in the stars, Scully,” he whispers back, then holds her while her mother clears the dishes and everyone retreats to the living room. 

 

An hour later, Mulder and Maggie stand at the kitchen sink, washing and drying the dishes while Scully sips a cup of coffee at the counter, her chin resting on her fist. 

 

“Can we go soon, Mulder? I’m exhausted,” she says with drooping eyelids. 

 

“Of course, whatever the birthday girl wishes is my command,” he replies, running a dish towel around the perimeter of a plate. 

 

“Are you okay sweetie, you getting sick?” Maggie asks with a concerned furrow of her brow. 

 

“No, Mom, I’m fine. I’ve just been exhausted lately, no matter how much sleep I get.”

 

Maggie cocks her head at her daughter. “When’s the last time you had your period, Dana?”

 

“I don’t get a period, pleasant side effect of my birth control,” she says with a hint of annoyance. 

 

“And you haven’t missed a pill, or whatever?” Maggie clarifies. 

 

“It’s a shot, and I got one in December, I’m not due to get another until next month,” she replies, resting her forehead on the counter. 

 

There is a long silence. Long enough that she lifts her head to see what’s causing it. Mulder is staring at her with wide eyes, his mouth slightly open, and Maggie is staring at Mulder like she’s just come to some kind of realization. 

 

“What?” Scully asks, “you’re freaking me out.”

 

“I was supposed to remind you to reschedule your appointment in December,” he says softly, his breathing very shallow. 

 

She sits up straighter. “No, Mulder, I got my shot right before we went to California for Christmas.” Even as she tries to convince them all that it’s not what Maggie is suggesting, her face is contorting into one of fear. 

 

“You had an emergency autopsy,” he says quietly, “Trudy was out. You missed it.”

 

“Oh god,” she says, her mind reeling. “Oh my god.”

 

“I’m going to give you two some privacy,” Maggie says, exciting the kitchen. 

 

Mulder comes around to her side of the counter, placing a palm in the middle of her back. “Scully?” he asks, though he’s not sure what the question is. 

 

“We need to go to the store,” she says flatly, shifting into problem-solving mode. “We need to pick up a pregnancy test.”




 

 

They are perched on the edge of the bathtub, the test sitting face-down on the counter next to the sink. 

 

“How long has it been?” she asks, and Mulder checks his watch again. 

 

“Four minutes,” he answers, squeezing her hand. 

 

She pulls in a deep breath and lets it out slowly. 

 

“What if it’s positive?” she asks quietly. 

 

“Then...we have a baby,” he answers.

 

She looks at him and he gives her a small smile. She tries to smile back but her chin puckers and turns it into a grimace. 

 

“Okay,” she finally responds. 

 

Mulder checks his watch again. 

 

“It’s been five minutes,” he says, “do you want to look, or do you want me to?”

 

She closes her eyes. 

 

“You look. One line is negative, two lines is positive. Even if the second line is very faint, it’s positive if there are two.”

 

“Okay,” he says, moving to the counter. 

 

She opens her eyes to watch him as he picks up the test and turns it over. His face is unreadable as he places it back on the counter and walks over to the tub, kneeling on the floor between her knees. He brings his hands to her hips and looks up at her with a gentle expression, then leans forward and presses his lips to her belly. 

 

“Oh my god,” she whispers, tears pooling in her eyes. 

 

He pulls back and takes her hands in his. 

 

“It’s okay, Scully. Maybe it’s not perfect timing, but I love you and I’m excited to have a baby with you.”

 

She looks at him incredulously. “You are?”

 

He smiles at her. “Of course. I’ve thought about us having kids someday hundreds of times. I just always figured it would be a little further in the future.”

 

She gives him a pained smile through her tears, draping her arms around his neck. 

 

“We’re going to have a baby,” she says out loud for the first time. 

 

“We’re going to have a baby,” he repeats. 

 

That night in bed, she lies awake for a long time, the shock of the news overriding her fatigue. 

 

“I can feel you thinking,” Mulder grumbles from behind her. 

 

“Sorry,” she answers over her shoulder.

 

He pushes his chin into the crook of her neck, his arm slinging over her waist. 

 

“What are you thinking about?” he asks softly. 

 

“Just the future. What’s going to happen next. Where the hell we’re going to fit a baby and all it’s crap in this apartment.”

 

“We might have to move,” Mulder offers. 

 

“Even if we do, should we rent someplace bigger? Should we buy a house? Would your name or mine be on the deed? Speaking of names, will the baby have your last name or mine? I can picture my mother’s church friends gossiping about the poor bastard child with a different last name than his mother,” she rambles. 

 

Mulder is quiet for a moment. 

 

“We could get married,” he says with the same casualness as suggesting pizza for dinner. 

 

She freezes. “No, Mulder,” she says coldly. 

 

“Why not?” he asks, pulling away and gently rolling her onto her back so he can see her face. 

 

She shakes her head glumly. “I got married for the wrong reasons once. I’m not going to do it again.”

 

“What’s the wrong reason?” he asks sincerely. 

 

“Getting married because you’re pregnant is about the most standard wrong reason to get married I can think of, Mulder.”

 

“I don’t want to marry you because you’re pregnant, Scully,” he implores, resting his hand on her stomach. “I want to marry you because I love you.”

 

“The timing of the question suggests otherwise,” she counters, and his face contorts into a wounded expression. “Mulder, I’m not saying no forever, I’m just saying not right now. We’re about to go through a lot, I’m going to be insane with hormones, and then give birth and feel fat and awful with a crying newborn and will probably resent you-“

 

“Well with that attitude,” he cuts her off, though his tone is lighthearted. 

 

She rolls to her side to face him, clutching his hands to her chest. 

 

“Ask me again later, Mulder, when we’ve survived this. When you’ve seen me huge and then deflated and unshowered and weepy. If you still think you want to marry me after seeing me at my absolute worst, ask me again.”

 

“Okay,” he says, planting a kiss to her forehead. “I will.”



Chapter Text

It doesn’t feel real until she sees the flutter on the ultrasound, the grey and white pixels flashing erratically confirming a healthy ten-week pregnancy. The doctor gives them a due date of September 17th, and she explains to Mulder repeatedly that the due date is only an estimate, that the baby will most likely arrive sometime in the two weeks before or after that day. Nonetheless, he prints little numbers in the corner of each date on the calendar, counting down. 

 

She is lucky to experience very little nausea, but the time saved clinging to the toilet is instead allocated to bursting into tears at every tiny inconvenience. Mulder comforts her with a confused expression when she cries because she can’t find a Tupperware lid that fits, or her latte has too much foam, or she realizes she can no longer see her toes. She cries because she’s crying, because she feels out of touch with her own body and thrown off by her own emotions. They marvel at the growth of her belly as well as her breasts, which are even more sensitive than they were before. Her libido kicks into overdrive at the same time that she becomes incredibly self conscious about her protruding belly, her fuller face, her swelling feet. This leads to more tears as she grapples with both wanting desperately to be touched and not wanting him to look at her. 

 

He tells her each day how beautiful she is, her hair growing longer and thicker, her skin glowing, her rounding belly housing the perfect little life that they created together. When he’s home, he rubs her feet every night, fetches her countless glasses of water and then helps tow her out of the bed so she can pee ten times in the night. When he’s on the road with Monica, he calls three times a day, asks Missy and her mother to go by and check on her, calls in dinner to be delivered so she doesn't have to cook. As her due date nears, he stops going on out-of-town cases, needing to be close enough to be by her side immediately when she goes into labor. He will not risk missing the birth of his child. 

 

The apartment becomes cramped with a bassinet, changing table, pack n play, and various other baby gadgets. They consider moving, but the idea is too overwhelming for Scully so they decide to stay put until the baby becomes mobile and they really need more space. Mulder breaks the lease on his apartment and moves his fish tank into the living room, putting the rest of his furniture in storage until they buy a house. Priscilla breaks in all the baby gear, sleeping in the car seat and jumping into the swing, covering the tiny onesies with her black fur and making Scully cry yet again. Mulder refuses to let her scoop the litter box, even though she insists it’s safe if she wears gloves and washes her hands afterward. Other tasks she’s forbidden to complete include cleaning the toilet, carrying in the groceries and hauling laundry to the washing machine. When he’s on the road, she misses him as much as she is relieved to be able to be independent, not much caring for being treated as though she’s made of glass. 

 

For the majority of her pregnancy, Scully insists that she doesn’t want to know the sex of the baby, that she wants to be surprised. Mulder respects her decision, even though he would personally like to know, and they create two lists of potential baby names, Scully crossing off “Lisa Marie'' each time Mulder tries to add it to the “girl” column. When she reaches 39 weeks, her pelvis widening as the baby drops into the birth canal, she is so miserable that she has a change of heart, needing to feel connected to this thing that is destroying her body and stealing her sleep. They call the doctor together on a Thursday afternoon as Scully sits on the couch in tears, having woken that morning to find angry red stretch marks marring her previously lily-white belly. When Mulder relays the doctor’s message that the baby is a girl, she sobs harder, and he’s not sure whether it’s because she’s happy or disappointed. 

 

She wakes him at 3:00 am on September 21st, the irregular Braxton-Hicks contractions she’s been feeling for weeks having taken up a predictable cadence, now ten minutes apart almost on the dot. He starts rushing around, scrambling for her hospital bag and his shoes, and now it is her turn to provide comfort, to let him know there’s plenty of time. She doesn’t want to go to the hospital until the contractions are five minutes apart, and so they wait. The progression to nine minutes, then eight, then seven is alarmingly fast, and by the time she agrees that they should head to the hospital she’s starting to feel pressure low in her pelvis. Mulder drives too fast, the streets thankfully still quiet in the early morning, and she is wheeled into labor and delivery with not enough time for an epidural, much to her lament. 

 

Molly Katherine Mulder has blue eyes and a dark shock of nearly-black hair. She barely cries at her entrance to the world, instead searching the room with a curious gaze, squeezing her daddy’s finger with an impressively strong grip and latching like a pro. They are able to go home the following day, Scully wincing as she moves gingerly from the bed to the couch, rinsing her tender stitches with a bottle of warm water and bleeding through entire packages of overnight maxi pads in a day. 

 

Mulder takes off work for two weeks and they spend blissful days curled up in bed with the baby nestled between them as Priscilla curiously sniffs around her, licking her hair with a rough tongue and making them laugh. Each time Scully wakes at night to nurse, Mulder insists she go back to sleep while he changes the baby and walks her around the quiet apartment until she is asleep, singing softly and lulling them both. 

 

When Mulder returns to work, Scully insists that he get a full night's sleep and let her wake up with Molly, reasoning that she can take naps during the day. She does not, of course, take naps during the day. Instead she tries to keep the apartment clean, the clothes washed, the diapers taken out to the dumpster, the litter box scooped. She does too much, and he sees it each day as she grows more and more weary, more and more defeated, the bags under her eyes deepening in color and her mouth rarely hosting a smile. He begs her to let him do more, to ask less of herself, but she is stubborn and strong-willed, the very things he loves about her now keeping her from properly taking care of herself. 

 

They struggle through sleep-deprived arguments over who left the breast milk out on the counter all night, why it matters if he changes the baby on the floor instead of the changing table, why Scully doesn’t want to supplement with formula so he can take some of the night feedings. Her doctor releases her as medically clear to have sex after six weeks and she cries as she tells him that she doesn’t feel ready, that she can’t imagine anything worse than sex right now, and he holds her as he tells her that he doesn’t care, that she should take as much time as she needs, that he can wait. 

 

They struggle, and they thrive. Moments of absolute unadulterated joy are punctuated by intense despair and overwhelm. The gain of a family against the loss of a life where you could pick up and go, stay out until 2:00 am and make love in the middle of the day. They are happy, and they are stressed, and they face it together.

 

On a Saturday in December, Mulder wakes early and takes care of every conceivable task in the house; the laundry, the dishes, cleaning the bathroom, scooping the litter, buying the groceries. He checks every item off Scully’s to-do list and then takes Molly for a long drive, leaving Scully alone with nothing to do in hopes that she will rest for once. When they return from their excursion, he creeps into the quiet apartment with a sleeping baby in his arms and sets her in the bassinet by the couch. At first he thinks maybe Scully has gone out, but he finds her in bed asleep with soaking wet hair, Priscilla curled up behind her knees. He watches her for a bit, affection clutching at his chest, then changes into sweats and kicks Priscilla out so he can snuggle up behind Scully. It feels so infrequent that they just lay like this anymore; one of them is always about to get up with the baby, about to get ready for work, or doesn’t want to be touched after a tiny person has clung to them all day. He pulls in a deep breath, smelling her lavender bubble bath and feeling the rise and fall of her ribs against his chest. He doesn’t want to disturb her, but he can’t resist pressing a tiny kiss to the side of her neck. 

 

“Mmmm,” she hums in response, twisting her body around so they are face to face. 

 

“Sorry, I didn’t mean to wake you,” he whispers. 

 

“It’s okay. Where’s Molly?”

 

“She’s asleep in the living room.”

 

She sighs and snuggles closer to him, pressing her forehead into his chest and pushing one of her legs between his. 

 

“This feels nice,” she says contentedly, and he brushes his hand softly up and down her back. 

 

“How are you feeling?” he asks. 

 

“Tired. Frumpy. Like I haven’t put on real clothes or a stitch of makeup in three months,” she laments. 

 

“Well, I’ll give you tired,” he says softly, “but I can’t agree on frumpy. I think you look very beautiful.”

 

She scoffs against his chest. 

 

“You don’t have to placate me, Mulder. I know I’m a mess.”

 

“Maybe so, but you’re my mess,” he retorts, pushing his fingers into her hair to gently scratch her scalp. 

 

She tilts her head up to look at him, appraising his face with a skeptical eye. 

 

“Is this what you thought it was going to be like?” she asks, her tone open and vulnerable. 

 

“I don’t know,” he answers honestly, “I guess I didn’t really know what to expect.”

 

She sighs. “I just wish I knew when I might start to feel like myself again,” she says sadly. “I can’t help but feel like you’re not getting what you signed up for.”

 

“What do you mean?” he asks with a concerned frown. 

 

He sees her eyes growing glassy, dampening with impending tears. “I mean the woman you asked out in the autopsy bay isn’t the one you’re with now,” she whispers, swallowing against the lump in her throat. 

 

“That’s not even a little bit true,” he implores, cradling the back of her head with his hand. “You are everything you were then, and more. I’m amazed by you every day.”

 

She closes her eyes, a tear rolling across the bridge of her nose. He feels his chest ache; the need to make her understand is overwhelming. 

 

“Hey,” he says, pulling the blankets back, “come here.”

 

He pulls her into a sitting position and slides off the bed, towing her along with him to sit on the edge of the mattress. He kneels on the floor between her knees, his hands on her hips. 

 

“If you think for one second that I want to be with anyone but you, you’re fucking insane. I don’t care if you wear giant milk-stained T-shirts and have spit up in your hair for the rest of our lives, Scully. You’re it for me, okay?”

 

She pulls in a shuddering breath and wipes at her eyes, but won’t look at him. 

 

“Stay here,” he commands, and disappears into the bathroom for a moment. When he comes back, he returns to his post kneeling at her feet. 

 

“We knew this was going to be hard,” he says tenderly, holding one of her hands in his. “You said it yourself before Molly was born, that it would be the hardest time in our lives, and that we’d be at our worst. And I’m telling you that if this is your worst, sign me up, okay? It hasn’t changed how I feel about you.”

 

He holds up his other hand, a diamond ring perched between his thumb and forefinger. 

 

“If you’re not ready to say yes yet, that’s okay, but I need you to know that I still want to marry you, Scully. I’ll wait forever if that’s what you need, but there hasn’t been a single day since I asked that I haven’t still meant it.”

 

Her tears have stopped, though her eyes are still wet and the tip of her nose is red. She looks from him to the ring and back, her eyebrows stitched in contemplation. 

 

“I didn’t hear you ask me a question,” she says quietly, and he picks up on the slightest lilt of playfulness in her voice, which makes him break out into a smile. 

 

“Dana Katherine Scully, love of my life, mother of my child, will you marry me?”

 

She smiles then, and he thinks his heart may burst right out of his chest. 

 

“Yes, I’ll marry you,” she answers, and he takes her left hand, slipping the ring on her finger. 

 

She wraps her arms around his neck and kisses him repeatedly, soft pecks devolving into lingering smooches as he shifts up slightly, pushing her back gently to recline on the bed. He moves over her, kissing along her jaw and down her neck, not going any further, not wanting to rush her. 

 

She brings her hands to his hips, letting the tips of her fingers slip under the waist of his sweatpants, and his cock stirs. It’s been so, so, long, and he wants her desperately, but not until she’s ready. She pushes her hand down the front of his pants, gripping him as he grows hard under her touch. It’s overwhelming in the best way; he feels like a teenager being touched for the first time. 

 

“I wanna have sex,” she breathes into his ear, the words rushing out quickly as though she’s afraid she might change her mind if she waits too long to say them. 

 

He pulls back to look at her. “Are you sure?” he asks, and she nods, bringing her palm to his cheek before glancing at the ring on her finger and smiling. 

 

They move slowly, though still with a sense of urgency that a baby sleeping in the next room brings. He pushes her shirt up and she lets him take it off, then slips the yoga pants off her hips, leaving her in basic black cotton briefs. He sees the hesitancy in her eyes as he looks at her body, now softer than it was before Molly, curvy in different places, purple streaks running from below her belly button to disappear under her panties. 

 

“You’re so beautiful,” he murmurs, kissing her chest, her breasts, her belly, running his tongue along the grooves of her stretch marks. He loops his thumbs under the waist of her panties and tugs them down slowly, quickly undressing before he rejoins her in the bed. 

 

“Tell me if anything hurts, okay?” he asks with a serious expression, and she nods, letting her legs fall open as he settles between them. He lines himself up with her entrance and pushes in achingly slowly, watching her face raptly. Her mouth opens slightly, and she takes in a sharp little breath. He’s about to ask her if it hurts when she closes her eyes and her mouth drops open further as she breathes out “oh,” in a way that he knows means pleasure, not pain. When he’s all the way in, their hip bones pressed together tightly, he stills and kisses her for a while, feeling like he could melt into a puddle for how good everything feels. His heart, his mind, his body, he is all wrapped up in her and it’s exactly where he wants to be. 

 

He begins to move, and she responds with an arch of her back and a little gasp, her hands clutching at his shoulders. Little by little, he increases his pace until he knows he won’t last much longer. 

 

“What do you need?” he asks, and she brings her hand to her breast. 

 

He dips his head, flicking at the hardened bud of her nipple, and feels her clench around him. He plays with the level of pressure, licking and sucking, pleasantly surprised that she is enjoying it even as her breasts have taken on a purely functional role these last few months. 

 

She pulls in a huge breath, arching her back and pressing her head into the mattress and he groans as he feels her tighten around him. She emits a single piercing cry when she comes, stifling it with an arm slung across her mouth. He pours into her, burying his face in her neck, clinging to her like a life raft. She is, in fact, all he needs to survive. 

 

Resting half his weight on the mattress beside her, he stays inside as they both come down, panting and smiling, brushing hands over each other’s skin, reconnecting. 

 

“Ah!” Molly yells from the living room, and Mulder laughs. 

 

“You’re being summoned,” Scully says with a tender smile. 

 

He withdraws from her, handing her his T-shirt to clean up while he slips on his sweatpants and retrieves Molly from her bassinet. 

 

“Guess what, Goose?” he says, using his special nickname for her, “Mommy and Daddy are getting married.”

 

“AH!” She squeals, flapping her arms. 

 

Chapter Text

June 1999

 

The air smells wet and woody, birdsongs trilling in the early morning sun that trickles through a sky light. She stretches, then disentangles her legs from the sheets and stands, walking to the window. 

 

There is a giant soaking tub in the corner of the room, flanked by two windowed walls that afford a sweeping view of the Cascade mountains, green carpeted hillsides meeting with a baby-blue sky. 

 

She can still recall her mother’s face when they told her the wedding would be in Washington State. “But...we don’t even know anyone in Washington, Dana,” she’d said with a bemused expression, lamenting the length of their flights with a nine-month-old in tow. 

 

Her mother’s reaction paled in comparison to Mulder’s excitement when she’d suggested the idea; she would spend their honeymoon relaxing with a book in the tub, and he could spend it traipsing through the woods looking for Sasquatch, or ‘squatchin’ as he called it. They would reunite in the afternoon, hiking, making love, catching up on all the conversations they’d missed while in the trenches of parenting a new baby. Mom would stay at the same resort with Molly so they could see her every day, while having precious nights to themselves; something they haven’t done since she was born. 

 

She turns the tap on the bath, a blast of water thundering into the empty basin. When it’s full nearly to the brim, she disrobes and eases in, breathing deeply to inhale the juniper-scented steam, courtesy of the resort-provided bath salts. Closing her eyes, she thinks back over it all; their chance meeting, how she was drawn to him by a force that seemed to be bigger than them both, the anguish of wanting him but feeling like she owed it to Ethan to stay together. Her eyes snap open, a memory long-buried in the recesses of her mind springing forth like a trebuchet. 

 

The day she met Mulder, she’d been planning to take the day off to go to a book signing for an author she admires. The signing was cancelled due to a scheduling conflict and she almost took the day off anyway, but had a last minute pang of guilt knowing that the workload that week was already heavy and Trudy would struggle to manage it all on her own. So she’d gone in, she’d performed that autopsy that should have been on Trudy’s docket, and she’d filled out the paperwork, and she’d met Mulder. How delicate the balance of the universe that such an insignificant choice completely changed the course of her life. 

 

She suddenly misses him acutely, and a bundle of nerves and excitement flutters in her belly thinking about when she’ll see him next. She’d scoffed at the idea of them spending last night apart; they live together and have a child so the performative chastity seemed to be a bit much. He said it was like a fast, that a little time apart would make it even more special when they saw each other at the ceremony, and she ultimately acquiesced. 

 

“Meet me on a mountain top at 4 o’clock tomorrow?” he’d asked as he backed out of her room, pulling away from the desperate kisses she was planting all over his face. 

 

“Wouldn’t miss it,” she replied with a smile, and they said goodnight. 

 

She smiles again, sinking down until the water slips into her ears. She can’t wait to marry him. 





 

 

He sits up and arches his back, his spine protesting the cramped accommodations. Looking over at Byers and Missy curled up in the king size bed, he regrets his decision to crash on the couch here instead of staying with Scully in their room. Not only because he slept like shit with his legs hanging over the end, but also because work takes him away from his girls so often, he’s an idiot to add another day to it if he doesn’t have to. 

 

He stands, hands on his hips as he twists to stretch his angry muscles, and walks to the window, taking in the dense green hills and valleys that surround them. He smiles, because she could have asked to go to Mexico, or France, or anywhere on the entire Earth and he would have given her what she wanted, but she chose the place she knew he wanted to go. Selfless and giving to a fault, his Scully. Soon to be his wife. 

 

He quietly slips on his running shoes and sneaks out of the room, hitting the hard-packed dirt trail the concierge had told him about. The quiet forest is the perfect place to be alone with his thoughts, nothing but the thud of his feet striking the ground and the twitter of waking birds to distract him. He thinks about his life, about being a child who was lonely and alone, with parents who provided food and shelter but not much more. He thinks about Molly, and how she will never know that kind of pain, that there will never be a day of her life that she is not told how much she is loved. He wonders if his dad ever felt about his mom the way he feels about Scully, and he knows it’s not possible that he did, because if so they would still be together. 

 

He comes to a break in the trees and pauses, breath heaving and lungs burning as he watches a hawk gliding through the valley below, hunting for breakfast. How easily he could have missed this moment, he thinks. Even one small change to the trajectory of his life, and he never would have walked into the autopsy bay that day. If the courier hadn’t been sick, if he hadn’t stopped by Kirkbride’s office when he did. Even further back, if he hadn’t stayed with the bureau with the X files were closed, if Valerie hadn’t been there to encourage him, or if he hadn’t met Valerie one random Tuesday at a record store. The path was long and winding, and it led to her. It led to him on this mountaintop in a sweat-soaked T-shirt, smiling at the thought of his baby daughter, his almost-wife. 

 

He picks up running again, the smile staying on his lips. He’s always felt like he was running away; from his painful past, his regrets, his bad decisions. Now he realizes he’s running towards; his future, a thousand opportunities yet unseen, a kind of happiness he never thought he’d know. He can’t wait for the rest of his life to start. 



 


 

 

He stands in a clearing near the edge of a cliff, the lush green landscape toeing up against the horizon looking like crooked teeth. Frohike stands beside him in khaki pants and a white linen shirt, a leather folio clasped in his hands. Mulder is also dressed fairly casually, in slacks and a blue Oxford shirt, the sleeves cuffed and the top button undone. 

 

Scully wanted this to be as non-traditional as possible, to make it their own. There is no wedding party, no tuxedo, no flower girl or garter toss. No one will walk her down the aisle, as no one but herself has the ownership to give her away. The guests are small in number; immediate family only, plus the gunmen. Monica and Dahlia are house-sitting back in DC, minding Priscilla as well as the dog, King, that joined the family after the purchase of their house in March. Bucking the idea of arranging guests by whose “side” they are on, they all sit in a small cluster, and Scully will enter from the side. 

 

He looks out and waves at Molly, who is standing on Missy’s lap, holding her hands and bouncing up and down forcefully. She squeals and shouts “dah, dah, dah!” which he chooses to interpret as “Daddy” even though Scully told him it’s just a nonsense syllable and doesn’t mean anything. 

 

Langly gets the signal from Frohike and hits play on a small boom box, piping an instrumental version of “Can’t Help Falling in Love” up into the branches of the towering evergreen trees. He expected to feel nervous at this moment, but all he feels is excitement as Maggie scurries out from behind a line of trees and takes her place beside Bill, giving him a smile and a wink. 

 

Scully appears from around the same group of trees and he grins broadly. He’s seen the dress, they picked it out together, but the full effect is stunning. Her hair, now grown well past her shoulder blades, is curled softly and pinned half up, brilliant red tendrils shimmering in the midday sun against her porcelain shoulders. Her dress is full length pearl satin, a slim sheath cut with off the shoulder straps. She is holding a small bouquet of pink peonies in her hands, and holding his eye with a playful smirk. 

 

She arrives beside him and before the music stops, before Frohike has a chance to begin, he steps forward and takes her by the waist, kissing her fully. The guests laugh and he pulls away to see a confused smile on her face. 

 

“I couldn’t wait,” he says simply. 

 

They move through the ceremony, exchanging rings and vowing to love each other forever; promises they’ve already made to each other a hundred times. As they near the part that Scully understands to be the end, Frohike goes off script. 

 

“Mulder has prepared some words of his own, he’ll read them now,” he says, nodding toward his friend. 

 

Scully’s eyebrows lift in a surprised and confused expression. 

 

“Mulder, we didn’t talk about writing our own vows,” she whispers, afraid she’s failed to complete the assignment. 

 

“It’s okay, these are for both of us,” he whispers, and then, taking her hands in his, he reads a passage from her favorite book from memory. 

 

“I have for the first time found what I can truly love; I have found you. You are my sympathy, my better self, my good angel; I am bound to you with a strong attachment. I think you good, gifted, lovely. A fervent, a solemn passion is conceived in my heart; it leans to you, draws you to my center and spring of life, wraps my existence about you, and kindling in pure, powerful flame, fuses you and me in one.”

 

The tear that slips down her cheek is borne only of happiness. She looks into his green eyes and sees contentment and love, and desire. It’s not a spark, what they have, nor an ember. It’s a wildfire, a white-hot torch, an eternal flame that binds them together inseparably. They were forged in fire the moment he laid eyes on her in that autopsy bay, maybe even before. 

 

Frohike concludes, “by the power invested in me by the State of Washington, I now pronounce you husband and wife. You may kiss your bride…again.” 

 

He wraps his arms around her waist, lifting her up as he kisses her deeply, a gust of warm summer wind picking up pine needles and tossing them in a mini-tornado that surrounds them both. Molly squeals “dah dah dah!” and claps for her parents.

 

 


 

 

She stands at the mirror, brushing her teeth. Her hair is combed out, her makeup removed, the white dress hanging in the corner of the room with the hem now tinged brown from the dirt that served as their dance floor. 

 

Mulder appears behind her, an arm snaking around the waist of her satin nightgown. She smiles at the sight of his newly ring-adorned hand pressed flat against her belly, then leans forward to rinse. 

 

“Ready for bed?” he asks softly, and she nods. 

 

They slip beneath the cool sheets, curling around one another face-to-face; her leg threaded between his, his arms around her back, foreheads touching. She draws in a big breath and lets it out slowly, contentment settling deep in her bones. 

 

“Do you ever think about all the things that had to happen in exactly the way they did to lead us here?” he asks, and she pulls back a little to look at his face. 

 

“Yes, I was actually just thinking about that earlier,” she says with a curious lilt. 

 

“Makes you wonder, huh, what lives we’d be leading if even just one detail were changed,” he says, tracing his finger along her shoulder blade. 

 

“I don’t think it would have mattered, actually,” she says, and he gives her a quizzical look, silently asking her to elaborate. “I know this will sound a little far-fetched coming from me,” she begins with a self-conscious smile, “but I think it was always going to end up this way. Even if we hadn’t met when we did, we would have crossed paths some other way. Looking back over everything, it just seems like this was meant to be the outcome, even if the path to get here could have gone in a lot of different directions.”

 

He ponders this, remembering a conversation they had over coffee when, against all odds, she reappeared in his life. 

 

“Like there was only one choice, and signs along the way to pay attention to,” he says contemplatively, lifting his hand to brush a lock of hair behind her ear. 

 

“Exactly,” she replies, pressing her lips to his briefly, “it was always going to be you.”


END