The following chapter took a completely different turn than the one I have initially intended. I hope you enjoy it still.
Part Three: In His Kiss
Mulder was sour-faced throughout the week, still bitter about not getting his way, but she was beginning to see through the charade. When she left the office that afternoon, he told her he would pick her up at seven, and she detected a definite glint in his eye. He couldn't fool her; he was looking forward to that evening, as was she.
She was playing some old hits to get into that 50s vibe as she was getting ready. She made sure the pleats on her gray skirt were ironed to perfection, sniggering once more at the poodle patch just above the hem. She straightened the soft pink cardigan over a white blouse with its Peter Pan collar, neatly tucked inside her skirt. Black Mary Janes, white socks and cherry-colored lipstick completed the look. Looking at her reflection as she put on her mother's pearl necklace, she was glad she'd chosen this innocent option out of the array of bolder dresses she and her mother had unearthed from the attic. There was something about the subtlety of it that made it more authentic somehow.
In the living room she picked up the framed photo from the mantle. She'd found it in the attic, in the same box with the clothes – her and Melissa sort of collapsed against one another in the middle of a wild laugh. The dresses they wore in the shot she couldn't find, wondered what on earth had happened to them, but she took the photo home with her and got it framed the following day. She smiled sadly, wishing she could share the moment with her sister, although Missy would probably not approve of her date.
The knock came on her door at seven on the dot. She took a second to get herself together, sending the memories away with a shake of her head. She smoothed her skirt, then reached for the doorknob. Her heart stilled at the sight of Mulder on her doorway. He was clad in fitted blue jeans, a tight white tee shirt, and the coolest leather jacket she'd ever seen him wear, its collar pulled up. With his hair slicked back he was hardly recognizable as her partner-turned-lover as he leaned nonchalantly against the door frame. His eyes were gleaming with mischief, widening ever so slightly as he caught sight of her outfit.
"I'm beginning to see the advantages of a 50s themed dance, I think," he said as he straightened up and brought her hand to his lips. "You look adorable."
"I'm not sure I was aiming for adorable, but I'll take it," she quipped, sidling to let him in.
"Nice outfit. Second hand shop?"
"My mom's attic. Missy and me used to play dress-up a lot."
"That reminds me. I spoke to your mom last night. It was weird. I had a feeling she knows about us."
"Oh, she does," she replied casually, chuckling at the horror in his expression. "I didn't actually have to tell her anything, she sort of figured it out herself. She has a knack for these things."
"How long does she – "
"Since last week."
He seemed taken aback, slightly outraged even. "And there's a reason you failed to mention it?"
"Uhhh, I wanted to forget it ever happened?" Even now her cheeks were burning at the memory of it. She glanced at him, suddenly worried. "You're not mad, are you?"
"Of course I'm not mad. It's just..." He was somewhat pale-looking. There was real panic in his eyes. "If your mother knows, your brother probably knows."
She should have known that's what it was all about. "You never cease to surprise me, Mulder," she said, shaking her head. "You take down serial killers and psychopaths and cigarette-smoking bastards on a daily basis, yet from reason unknown you're scared shitless of my older brother who lives miles away. Do you realize how absurd it is?"
"Scully, the man has it in for me, and I can't blame him. I would have acted the same if my sister..." His voice trailed off as if he had suddenly remembered he would never get to be protective of his younger sister in a similar manner. His shoulders actually sagged with the realization of it. She grabbed his hand when she noticed the deep sadness that suddenly overshadowed the glimmer in his eyes. The wound of Samantha's fate was still too fresh. It would take some time for it to properly heal.
"I'm alright," he reassured her, squeezing her hand a little. "Let's just go."
Letting go of her hand, he began to walk towards her door. She meant to turn off her stereo and follow him, then came to a halt in the middle of the living room. The song that started playing hit her like a punch. It was as if the air was leaving her lungs all at once.
I hear the cottonwoods whisperin' above, "Tammy ... Tammy ... Tammy's in love"...
Maybe her own wounds still needed time to heal as well.
She blinked, and her living room swam back into focus. Mulder was standing next to the door, eyeing her with concern. Suddenly overwhelmed by loss, it was a moment before she had found her voice again. "Sorry. I just... This was Missy's favorite song."
Already she was feeling her throat close off, tears burning in her eyes. She wiped them angrily, looking away from him. It hardly helped, of course. He was by her side in half a second, as she half-collapsed against his chest, crying quietly. The song was unrelenting, still playing in the background. She couldn't even bring herself to go and turn it off. Anguish was searing, paralyzing. Her only conscious thought was that it was possible they were standing at the exact spot on which her sister had died. She could feel his arms wrap around her, his hands rubbing her back, as he whispered soft comforts in her ear.
Does my lover feel what I feel when he comes near?
My heart beats so joyfully, you'd think that he could hear...
He was rocking her gently back and forth as the song played on, a slow dance of grief. She thought how broken he had seemed to her not ten minutes ago as he was reminded of his own sister's demise. How odd, and yet how incredibly appropriate, that they would have this thing in common; both of them deprived of their sisters, broken by their absence. Samantha and Melissa, both gone so young, their entire lives ahead of them, in such pointless, needless deaths. And yet through their deaths, pulled the two of them closer together somehow.
The song drew to a close, then was replaced by a more upbeat hit. It was another moment before he pulled away slightly, and placed a finger under her chin, tilting her face towards him. There was unmistakable moisture around his eyes, as well. "Okay?"
"Yes. No. I don't know." She chuckled softly. "I don't know where that came from." She reached out to wipe a stray tear from the corner of his eye. "I'm sorry."
"There's no statute of limitations on grieving. You shouldn't be apologizing, least of all to me. Now go get cleaned up so you could have your way with me," he added, nudging her gently.
She looked down at her outfit, the one she'd been so excited to pick out and put on, but her enthusiasm had waned completely now. She hesitated, unsure how to reveal her sudden change of heart to him. She did sort of force this evening on him, and despite his reluctance, he had obviously put an effort and played along. For her. She left his side and sat on the sofa, tucking her feet underneath her. He followed, sitting next to her. She scooted closer, leaning her head against his shoulder. He took her hand in his, slowly lacing their fingers together.
"I don't want to go."
"What are you talking about? Your elaborate scheme, this outfit..."
"I don't feel like seeing other people right now."
"You won't get any arguing with me, but Scully, are you sure? You were so adamant before."
"I think I'd rather keep us between us for a little longer. As ridiculous a notion as it is to you."
"It's not ridiculous at all. I don't feel like sharing you with anyone anyway."
"Well, what else is new?" she retorted, smiling softly at him. "I don't know. I guess I just wanted us to... spend some time together like a normal couple. For a change."
He smiled so beautifully at her, it made her heart swell. "You could just tell me that, you know. Instead of selling me unfounded lies about Agent Larson." He batted his eyelashes, making her laugh. Following her outburst, it sounded strange, almost foreign. "We could still go out if you're up to it. Be that normal couple for one night."
She looked at her skirt, then up at him, giving him a look. "We look like we just time-travelled from the 50s," she pointed out.
"Oooh, time-traveling," he said sexily, eyes smoldering. "You sure know how to turn a guy on, Scully." He leaned in for a kiss, looking at her curiously as they slowly pulled away. "What was yours?"
"You said Melissa's favorite song was Tammy. What was yours?"
"Oh." Her cheeks colored. "I'm not sure I want to tell you. You'll think I'm bluffing."
"I'll know if you're bluffing. I read you like a book, remember?"
"In His Kiss," she admitted, thinking how apt this song had suddenly become.
His grin implied the same thought had crossed his mind. "Sounds like premonition to me. Definitely within the realm of extreme possibilities, Agent Scully."
"Great," she mock-groaned, "as if my life isn't already an ongoing, unending X File."
They shared a weary smile, and she could feel the rest of her sorrow sipping away from her. "How about we just grab a bite to eat someplace instead of the dance?" he suggested. "It's your call, Scully. Tonight we're doing things your way."
"Well, seeing as it is Halloween," she replied hesitantly, "I guess it won't look all that weird to go out looking like this." She reached out to touch his cheek; he leaned his face against her palm, his eyes never leaving hers. "And afterwards... trick or treat?"
"Tough choice," he murmured, leaning closer yet again. "Although technically you've already tricked me into going to this dance. Which only leaves us with..."
"Just shut up already," she breathed, grabbing the front of his jacket to pull him towards her as she lay back on the sofa.
"Look at that," he whispered, his lips inches apart from hers. "It's like you read my mind."
Her favorite song did feel like a premonition as he leaned down to kiss her.
Well, if not premonition per-se, she could definitely get a glimpse of the future. They were about to forgo dinner altogether after all.