"I saw you put a gun to your head."
He froze but didn't turn to face her. It occurred to her only then that she had this information against his will. He'd never told her on his own. This was more of an intrusion than had ever passed between them. Her heart broke a little at this thought, but she could feel her words still hanging in the air along with six years of other words she wasn't about to lose, and there was nowhere to go now but forward.
"That night on the tape. The night you came to my apartment. I saw you, Mulder, you were sitting right here. . ." He had been crying. She had seen clearly on the surveillance tape the glistening of the tears that slid quietly down his cheeks. "You were watching something on tv, and then. . . you. . ."
Her voice trailed off into a whisper and then to nothing. She couldn't say it again. The words were awful enough the first time, when she had forced them out into the room to be followed by a terrible silence she feared neither of them would ever break. For all the quiet hours they had spent in rented cars and offices together, this silence chilled her to the bone, and she felt it was his turn to speak.
She could almost hear his voice, the air was so thick with the expectation of it. She could hear the words he might say as clearly as if they were written in a script somewhere. But he didn't speak. No one had given him the script, and she was alone out here trying to sort through all this terrible silence.
"Mulder - "
"Scully. . ." He barely breathed her name. As if her voice had broken a spell, he spoke the only word that meant anything to him. There were ten thousand things he wanted to say, but his horror at the knowledge of what she knew had silenced him.
Neither of them knew when he had turned to face her or when he had taken the few steps that closed the distance between them, but now he reached for her instinctively, almost without his own permission, and then drew back.
"Scully, I didn't mean for you to see that."
"I didn't mean to see it, Mulder." Part of her wanted to apologize for even knowing what she knew, and part of her wanted to scream at him and demand to know more. Why did you do what you did that night! How could that thought ever have entered your beautiful mind? How could I have let you come so close, and how am I supposed to get up every morning and go to bed every night wondering how much closer you might have come?! Waiting for those thoughts to come back?
"Mulder - "
God! What was the matter with her?! Could she say nothing but his name?!
"Mulder, I can't. . .I don't. . . I'm sorry."
And suddenly his arms were around her and she realized that she had been crying for some time. Her face and neck were wet with tears and she was still talking.
"Mulder, why did you do it? I'm sorry I don't understand. I'm sorry I didn't understand then, I'm sorry that I didn't know for all this time, and I'm sorry I wasn't there with you, that night, on the couch, watching whatever you were watching, Mulder, I'm so sorry you were alone in your apartment that night."
Mulder had been silently cursing himself the entire time Scully had been in his arms. He couldn't stand what he was hearing. Her guilt at the very thing for which he should be begging her forgiveness. And then he was talking too, drowning her out. Whispering "I'm sorry" between the gentle kisses he was showering onto her hair and forehead and neck, desperately trying to stop the terrible, broken sobs that were shaking her whole body.
"Scully, I'm so sorry. I don't know how it happened. It scared me too, but it doesn't scare me now because it's over now. It's over and we're safe. I am and you are. And there's nothing for you to be afraid of unless it's the prospect of working with me for the rest of your life, because Scully, I will never leave you."
She had stopped crying, but was still clinging to him, clenching fistfuls of his t-shirt the way a child would hold to her mother's coat sleeve. He was relieved at the calmness of her body which moments before had seemed about to collapse.
They stood there motionless. In the very spot where she had once stood over the body of the man who had surveilled Mulder's apartment and nodded her head to the investigators. She had been concerned then about her lie, unaware of how narrowly she had escaped having to tell the truth that morning. One final sob escaped her at this thought, and Mulder's arms tightened around her. He knew then that he would not let go. She made no pretense of asking him to.
His hands were warm on her back, her shoulders. Her face still turned sideways against his chest. They stood wrapped in each other's arms, in each other's thoughts, not hearing the silence over the sound of their breath. And Scully's mind began, first, to let go of the fear and sadness that had engulfed it. And then to grow conscious of Mulder's breath on the back of her neck. Of the hand that occasionally found its way to her face to futilely brush away the memory of a tear. And of the warmth and strength of the living, breathing body she now held in her arms.
When had her heart begun to beat this fast? When had her mind forgotten how to tell her body to move? To untangle itself from warmth and breath and to find its way home? If she had been able to disengage herself from him, she wouldn't have been able to find her way out of the building, or to locate her car, or to drive the darkened streets. The thought of unlocking her apartment door, of turning on lights to illuminate empty rooms, was cold and foreign to her. There was no place else she could think to be. Nowhere else she could possibly exist.
But she had - somehow - regained the ability to move.
She unlocked her arms from around Mulder's waist and lifted her tearstained face to look into his. Although the mere sight of him thrilled her, she couldn't bear being far enough from him to look.
In the time it would've taken her to reconsider, she had wrapped her arms loosely around his neck and pressed her mouth to his. It was an unwavering kiss, not allowing itself time to stop, to ponder, or to change its mind, and it set them both in motion. It was Mulder who broke their kiss, to reverently trace the line of her jaw, the hollow of her throat, to obsess over the fragile perfection of her left collarbone, which he had looked at thirty thousand times and somehow never kissed -- how was that possible? He made up for that now, losing himself in the radiant warmth of her skin.
He didn't reach for the buttons of her blouse necessarily on purpose, but the fabric stood between him and her perfect shoulders. Had stood between them for too damn long he decided. He held the top button of her shirt mutely with trembling hands. Hesitating to seek permission from her eyes. Afraid she would push his hand away. And to his momentary despair, she did. But only to replace it with her own hands. To dispel that hesitation and to answer it with none of her own, as she undid the buttons of her blouse, for the first time in what seemed like hours, putting space between his body and hers. Redefining the physical definition of what was him and what was her. She didn't bother to untangle the tear dampened hair that lay flattened against her neck, or try to obscure the tear stains that adorned her flushed cheeks. She allowed everything Mulder knew about her to remain written on her face, and he couldn't look away.
"Scully," he whispered, but found no words beyond that.
"It's ok. This is where I want to be."
She came back to him then, again finding his beautiful mouth with hers, but not allowing herself to embrace him. She held his arms, as much pushing him away as drawing him toward her. She kissed him again and again. Brief, almost violent kisses, each time pulling away to look into his face at the lost expression she found there. Half bewilderment and half something she had seen a thousand times and never allowed herself to name. She kissed him and kissed him and held him away from her, until all at once all the times she had wanted this and not allowed herself to want it retaliated against her and she dissolved into him, his arms sliding beneath her shirt, his hands pressing against her back, his thoughts suddenly and momentarily becoming very clear.
I've lost you so many times, he thought, and each time I get you back, I start letting you go again. That night he never let her go for longer than he had to. And when at last they found themselves undressed, and he tried to guide her toward the bedroom, she stopped him and instead pulled down with her onto the battered couch where he made love to her reverently, ceremoniously, kissing her face and neck and shoulders and breasts until his lips were numb, cradling her against him and burying his face in her hair, hearing the soft sighs that escaped her precious lips and nearly reeling into blackness each time she breathed Oh my God into his ear. Her breath came harder and harder, shuddering against his neck, until her legs tightened around his, and she was arching against him, wanting to be closer to him than it was possible to be. And then, finally, they lay still, their bodies drenched in sweat, their breath ragged and uneven. They both thought they might remain that way possibly forever, but eventually, characteristically, Mulder spoke.
"I think we can find a way to get around this."
"Get around what?"
He looked toward the window where daylight was beginning to creep into the sky. "This big idea tomorrow morning has gotten that it might arrive."
Scully smiled a radiant smile. "What d'you suggest?"
They situated themselves on the couch, Scully's head on Mulder's shoulder, her body resting against his, a blanket pulled protectively around her, and Mulder listened as her breath grew steadier. Even when he knew she was sleeping, he knew he couldn't sleep. He lay with his arms wrapped completely around her, feeling her breath everywhere in her body. He thought about how small she seemed. He thought about the way her hands had felt gripping his shoulders, digging into his back. He thought about the night he had taught her to hit a baseball.
He wanted to say things to her. Random things. Ridiculous things. Scully, have you ever won a spelling bee? Scully, can you name the constellations? Scully, will it rain on our wedding day?
As the light began to strengthen through the windows, Mulder began to drift toward sleep, and when Scully opened her eyes to find him sleeping, an uncontrollable smile spread across her face. She had been dreaming inexplicably of baseball and spelling bees and the constellation Orion. These dreams had been somehow good, and as the rain began to rattle at the windows, she found she was in no hurry to leave them. She buried her face back into Mulder's shoulder. She thought about how small they both seemed. She concentrated on the way his arms felt encircling her. She thought about the Christmas Eve they had spent with ghosts less haunting than their own, and when at last she knew that they were both alive and both here, in real time, on a real couch, in a real room in the first hours of the day, she closed her eyes slept.
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