She never allowed herself to wonder what this moment would be like.
In fact, over the years, on the days when she was honest with herself but not with him, she'd admit she never truly believed this moment would arrive.
She hoped it would, of course. Hope, however, failed her on too many occasions and she had no reason to believe it wouldn't do so again.
It didn't stop her from following him, from helping him, from kneeling down and getting dirt under her fingernails when he asked her to, thinking her fingers would soon hit something. Someone.
Yes, she may have lost a hope she doesn't actually remember having, but she refused to allow him to. Besides her, hope was all he had. She wouldn't fail him like everyone else did, like she was sure hope eventually would.
She remembers being new to him, curled up on a bed in a dingy Oregon motel room. She remembers the candle light, the sound of the rain outside, and his young face. She remembers when she first heard the name of the girl that he'd built his life around. One of the two loves of his life.
She didn't use her name much when talking about her. She isn't sure why, she simply chose to refer to her as 'your sister' when talking to him. Perhaps it was a way to distance herself from it, from the young girl who she never got to meet but who managed to change her life as well. This little girl with long, braided pigtails and a mischievous smile. Forever eight years old in the eyes of the brother who would do anything for her.
She didn't believe him seven years ago when he told her the improbable story of the night that shaped him. She didn't need to, all she needed was to know that this child was gone and something had happened to her and the man she would grow to love more than any other needed to find his answers.
Seven years later and she's still standing with him, looking up at the sky, and he believes he's found them. He talks to her about starlight, about souls, about freedom. This moment that she never dared to dream would be a reality for him is here and she is unprepared. She isn't sure who this man is without his quest, and the thought of it ending unnerves her.
She doesn't know what to say to him, she isn't quite sure she understands what this all means. He seems satisfied, which he rarely is, so she accepts this truth that he believes he's found. She's grateful she's here to witness it, to be by his side at the end of this road. He always knew they'd get here. Some days his faith in this inevitability was stronger than her faith in anything else.
Later, when they are on a plane that will take them home, take them back to the uncertainty of what is next in this grand quest of theirs, he talks to her. She hates flying, always has, regardless of how many flights she's been on. It's become a tradition that once they are in the air, cruising comfortably, and she's able to loosen her grip on her armrests, he talks to her. Usually about nothing, anything to keep her mind off where she is and how long until she's back on the ground.
Today is different. He talks to her about something.
"Her favorite color was purple, Scully," he says.
It's a simple statement and it's the simplicity of it that tugs at her heart. For her, for him. She wasn't just a quest, she wasn't just a mission, she wasn't just the family tragedy. She was a girl with a favorite color and it was purple. Why hadn't she known this? Why doesn't she know anything beyond the story of the night she was taken?
"I didn't know that," she whispers in response. She suddenly wants to ask questions, wants to know everything about her. Samantha. She wants to use her name more, wants to imagine her back into reality for him. But she doesn't. Samantha is gone to everyone except the man who sits beside her now.
"Yeah. Not even a nice shade of purple, Scully. A loud, obnoxious shade of purple," he continues, but he can't not smile at the memory. She can't remember the last time he thought of his sister and smiled before today.
"Sometimes I'm afraid that I don't remember her properly," he confesses. "Sometimes I'm afraid that I've just made her up. Nobody's around to tell me."
She's lost count of how many times her heart as broken for him. How many times she's silently raged at the cards he has been dealt.
Outwardly, she will tell him that his father loved him and that his mother did her best, but inwardly, she felt contempt for them both. She hated that they'd allowed him to fall apart. Hated that they'd manipulated him to the point where he doesn't trust his own memories. Hated that at no point, did anyone take the sweet little boy she's sure he was and tell him it wasn't his fault. She hates the parts they both played in breaking him.
She has always done her best to make up for everything everyone else failed to give him. She's always listened, always answered his late night phone calls, always showed up after he's asked her to drop everything. She's taken care of him when his father died, she's cut open his dead mother after her final abandonment of her son.
She hadn't wanted to, she'd made that clear. But he had no one else to turn to. Hadn't for a very long time. She relented, did the most difficult autopsy she hopes she'll ever perform. She remembers every detail. The cold, paper-thin skin of Teena's fingers. She held them in her hand, wondered when the last time those fingers had touched Mulder with kindness. She remembers her eyes, so very much like his.
But mostly, mostly remembers her anger when she discovered she had indeed left this life voluntarily. Of all the things and people that had been taken away from Mulder over the years, his mother was the one to leave him willingly. She'd never forgive her.
"She was real, Mulder," she assures him after too long of a silence. "You didn't make her up."
She has nothing left to offer but a statement of the obvious and a reassuring squeeze of his fingers and she tries not to think of his dead mother's hands.