A storm is raging outside. They're both aware of it on some level, but hardly find it within them to care. They're preoccupied by a different type of storm, or possibly a fire, which has erupted hours or years before, one so intense it would take days, probably longer, to make sense of, and put out.
In its aftermath they lie in his bed, a disarray of limbs, catching their mutual breaths, sated for now, and yet insatiable. The bedroom is stuffy and hot, then drafty and freezing cold, and still they don't care. They're too wrapped around one another, all but blinded by revelations the night has unfolded, by the newness of it all. Her head rests against his chest with her ear pressed over his heart. His arm holds her to his side, and one of his fingers traces the contours of the tattoo on her lower back, making her shiver. But even as the movement of his finger stills, she knows him well enough to know that he's awake, and that his beautiful mind is preoccupied.
"What are you thinking?" she asks him, her voice a murmur in the darkness.
"I'm thinking..." He lingers; there's a smile in his voice when he continues. "If this is jetlag, I never want it to end. I'm thinking why the hell it's taken us seven years to get here. I'm thinking I'm never letting you out of this bed."
He squeezes her side a little as he speaks. She squeaks, not expecting it. "A, it is most certainly not jetlag." She raises her head so she could place a kiss on the scar on his chest where she shot him, sucking on his skin just a little bit; he squirms beneath her lips. "B, maybe we should open an X File about that when you get back to work, and C... as I am due at work in a few hours, you know I'll have to leave soon."
He whines unintelligibly, but doesn't offer further resistance, as he knows she's right. If she's completely honest with herself, she doesn't really want to leave. This newly discovered intimacy already feels so fleeting, especially given the time it has taken them to get there. But it's still dark out, and so for the moment, she mentally kicks rationality out of the room. The real world can wait for a little longer. She relaxes against him, closing her eyes. Before she can truly drift, he speaks again. There's a mischievous hint in his query despite his obvious exhaustion. "What are you thinking, Agent Scully?"
"I'm thinking... thank goodness you got rid of that waterbed. I'm thinking we should do this again. I'm thinking... I never want to leave this bed." He chuckles as she finally admits it out loud. She predicts his next statement and raises her head to give him a no-nonsense look. "But no, I'm not ditching tomorrow. Or rather today."
"Party pooper," he sulks, then leans in for a kiss. As their lips resume their lazy dance he gently flips them over. Her hair spills against the pillows as he pulls away and presses his lips to her pulse point. "Bet I can convince you to stay," he breathes between kisses that make her head spin.
"Delayed gratification is a virtue," she manages, then moans his name as he finds that sensitive spot beneath her earlobe.
"I happen to be very good at it. I've been practicing it for seven years."
His lips leave a burning trail in their wake, and her back involuntarily arches towards him. She wants to resist him, needs to, but finds herself unable to as her eyes fall shut when his lips touch her skin once more. "If you leave a mark I'll kill you."
"Wear a turtleneck."
His words break her tough facade; she giggles at his practicality. The sound seems to distract him, for his lips leave her neck as he hovers above her, kisses her lips softly and then pulls away. His eyes are gleaming as he looks down at her. It's as if he can't believe this is actually happening. Ever the skeptic, she's having a hard time believing it herself. "So no scientific explanation about this whatsoever?"
"I don't think science has anything to do with this," she replies, then grins crookedly. "Possibly chemistry." She reaches out to stroke his stubbly cheek as their gazes lock. "Don't overthink this, Mulder. Everything happens for a reason."
He just stares at her. "Who are you?"
She laughs softly. "I'm still me. I'm still going to bug you with my goddamned strict rationalism and science, as you so eloquently called it once."
"I should damn well hope so." They share a smile before he lays his head on her chest with a sigh. Her fingers thread through his hair as she closes her eyes. Despite her reassurances to him, she's restless, and she can feel he is, as well.
"You're still wondering," she whispers, somewhat hesitant now, suddenly asking herself if she is acting complacent about the whole thing. She knows with absolute certainty this is where they belong, and yet…
He hums in reply without raising his head. "I'm not overthinking this. I'm just... I left for two days, and now this. It's a lot to wrap my head around, is all."
But it's not just two days. It has been set in motion a long time ago, in some distant point in their past she can't quite put her finger on. And recently it has just felt like a race towards this very resolution. His confession of sorts on his doorstep, the day she came to tell him about Diana's death. Their kiss on New Year. What the Cigarette Smoking bastard told her a few weeks ago, about not allowing herself to love him. Her encounter with Daniel. Dozens of little pieces, finally falling into place. But it all feels overwhelmingly philosophical, and so she tries to put it into simpler words.
"I just... realized it wasn't my life that was at a standstill, it was me. I was always waiting for something. Well, I'm done waiting, Mulder. I'm tired of it. If my path has led me here, I see no point in waiting any longer."
He thinks about what she has said earlier before drifting off, about signs along the way to pay attention to. Something becomes very clear to him all of a sudden. "Agent Scully is already in love," he says as realization slowly strikes.
As she hears the awe in his voice, a slow smile finds its way to her lips, bruised from his kisses. "Oh, that she is. Did you really not know?"
"I was afraid to believe it, I guess."
"Then you know how I feel most of the time."
He pulls away from her, and they both lie on their sides, facing one another. Their souls lay there in the silence between them, fragile and bare. To call this moment a turning point would be an understatement of a lifetime. They're both aware of the enormity of it, and hold each other's gazes bravely. They cannot shy away from it. All masks are off. It is finally time. Their time.
He reaches for her hand, touching it with just his fingertips before slowly lacing their fingers together. "What do you want, Scully?"
She remembers Daniel asking her this exact same question, knowing now her answer was wrong. She looks at their joined hands, gives them a gentle squeeze as she brings her eyes back to his. "You. This."
"For once, we are in agreement."
"Imagine that," she says, and they smile fondly at one another. It's only taken them seven years.
They drift into slumber, their foreheads touching, their hands at each other's hips. Comforted by the knowledge that even though she'll leave before dawn, she will always find herself back on his doorstep, and he on hers. It's inevitable. It's ingrained into their anatomy, into their past and their future. It is the only way they know, the only path they will walk from now on.
Suddenly he speaks again, voice thick with sleep.
"If you think this gives you the right to call me Fox from now on, you're sorely mistaken."
And even though she's half asleep, she giggles.
The change may be enormous, the impact on their partnership momentous, and the consequences probably earth-shattering, and yet, nothing at all has changed.
Serenity washes over them, blessed and unfamiliar, lulling them to sleep at last.