She watched his tears dry around 3:30 this morning. Propped up against his headboard, she ran her fingers through his hair as the last drops soaked into her slacks. Sleep followed soon for him, his tense body slowly relaxing into her lap, his broken breaths becoming even, but rest couldn’t find her. Her brain couldn’t turn off the thoughts and memories of being in that autopsy bay earlier, of cutting into the woman that brought him into this world.
Her mind walked a tightrope, trying to find her balance between feeling empathy for this woman who had lived in so much pain and disgust for her giving up on mothering one child after her complacency in sacrificing the other. She had removed Teena Mulder’s organs, actually held her brain in her hands, but she will never understand or comprehend the decisions that woman had made.
Her eyelids were just beginning to feel the weight of the past 48 hours when Skinner’s knock intruded.
Three hours later she finds herself nestled between Mulder and Skinner on a flight to California. Seven years together and she has never seen her partner take a window seat, but he is currently crammed into the tiny space, his body angled toward the window, curled in on himself. To her right, Skinner is pouring over case details and crime scene photographs and rubbing his weary eyes.
Mulder adjusts his body so he is facing ahead and she turns her face to look at him. She can see the shininess in his eyes and understands perfectly well how the grief of losing a loved one creeps up on you in the most random of times. She thinks of the days and weeks after losing Ahab and how her eyes would well up with tears for no discernible reason as the weight of her loss would crash down on her. She thinks of how he would notice her grief but knew better than to say a word in an attempt to comfort her, instead choosing to brush his hand across her back a little more than necessary, or to push a stray strand of hair out of her eyes.
She thinks of classes she took as a medical student, learning how physical touch cures hurts of all kinds. She wants nothing more than to take him in her arms again and hold him and give him the comfort he needs. She settles though for sneaking her fingers onto his leg to take his hand in hers. He startles at the contact and pulls slightly away from her. She is momentarily hurt by his refusal, but insists on leaving her hand against his leg. It rests there for one minute, then two, until finally she feels his pinky finger reach over and curl itself around her thumb.
His small acceptance of her comfort is enough for now as she closes her eyes and finally allows her mind and body to rest.