A/N: Hey everyone, here's another oneshot. I tried to stay as true to canon as possible, I hope you like it. Reviews and feedback are most welcome. Happy reading x
Spoilers/references: Triangle, The Sixth Extinction: Amor Fati, Millennium, Sein Und Zeit, All Things, Requiem, Per Manum, DeadAlive, Three Words, Existence, Nothing Important Happened Today.
Disclaimer: Chris Carter and his partners in crime own them, I'm just having fun.
Their first kiss was on New Year's Eve.
The memory of a different kiss, on board a ghost ship the previous year, left him longing for more. Although unsure whether it actually happened or whether it was all in his head (for she clearly had no such recollection whatsoever), he had been consumed by this burning need to kiss her again ever since. This time, he told himself, she would remember. He was resolved on kissing her, even if it was the last thing he would do.
He wasn't that pathetic, though. He hadn't actually planned it to be on New Year's Eve. But when the opportunity presented itself to him, he knew he would be a fool not to seize it. It was nothing like the kiss he remembered. It wasn't a harsh, in case we never meet again type of kiss. It was brief but very sweet, long overdue after seven years of partnership. After a moment of frozen surprise on her side, he could actually feel her kiss him back, which did wonders to his shaky confidence. The world didn't end, nor did she slap him. As far as he was concerned, this was a successful first attempt.
Despite his hope that the kiss would satiate his yearning, it had only intensified. Neither of them mentioned it right after it happened or in the days that followed. In fact, when the holiday season was over they returned to work as though nothing even happened. Not talking about things was what they'd done best, after all. But whether they were willing to speak about it or not, things were changing. He could sense it. There was something new between them now, sizzling in the air of the tiny office they shared.
Their second kiss was a far cry from the tender moment they shared on New Year's Eve. In fact, for the longest time he refused to believe it had ever happened, and once he had finally come to terms with it, he was consumed with guilt and shame. He didn't mean to kiss her. Well, he did, but not like that. It happened on the night following his mother's death. Whereas his breakdown that night had left him exhausted, the rage within him had not shown any signs of vanishing.
She stayed with him, obviously shaken by his breakdown. He could feel her watching him carefully as he was lying on his sofa, staring emptily at the opposite wall. He was thinking of his mother, of the many secrets in her life, secrets he would now never learn. He was thinking of the message she had left on his answering machine, cryptic words he would never get to make sense of now –
"Mulder," she said softly, pleadingly. He blinked, his eyes slowly adjusting to the darkness. He snapped at her when she tried to click on a lamp minutes or hours before, and the room was swimming in shadows. He could barely make out her small figure, sitting cross legged on the armchair across from him. "Go to bed," she whispered.
"I'm fine here."
"Please. You've been through so much in the last twenty four hours…" Her voice trailed off as she looked at him pleadingly. "Just for a little while. You must rest. Doctor's orders."
He was too drained to be affected by the hint of a smile that accompanied those last two words. He grunted softly as he sat up. The room swam into focus, and he buried his head in his hands, determined not to reveal this sudden weakness to her. When he felt stable enough, he got up and padded into his bedroom. She had removed her shoes at some point of the evening, but he could still hear her follow.
His bedroom was as dark as the rest of the apartment, and she walked passed him to his bedside to click on a lamp before he had a chance to protest. He remained standing in the middle of the room, watching her as she swept the covers back on his bed. For the first time in ages he felt absolutely nothing, not the passion of his search or the frustration with his superiors. He was absolutely numb, listless. It was disorienting.
She tugged at his hand, shaking him out of his reverie. He met her eyes with difficulty. "I want you to take a shower and get into bed. I'll be right outside if you need anything, okay?"
He nodded, unsure of what she had just said. Her voice echoed strangely, as if he was underwater, listening to her. As soon as she turned away from him, though, the weirdest sensation swept over him, and his own voice was echoing in his head. In case we never meet again…
She turned at the doorway to face him, and for a moment he couldn't find the words. She gave him an inquiring look as she walked back into the room. The need for her overwhelmed him. Everyone he had ever cared for had deserted him. The man he had believed to be his father died years ago, his sister was gone, his mother took her own life. He was damned if he let her walk out on him as well.
"Don't leave me."
Her features softened; she shook her head. "I'm not going anywhere, Mulder. I'll be in the living room, so if you need anything during the – "
Her words trailed at once as he placed a finger on her lips. They were inches apart now; her breath was hot against his skin. He could hear rather than sense her pulse racing. Slowly, he removed his finger from her lips, and she followed the movement, unblinking, her lips still parted ever so slightly. There was something resembling fear reflected in her eyes now, but she kept her gaze locked on his.
"Stay with me… here."
Without allowing her a chance to respond, he pulled her closer against him. He grasped her arms and his lips descended on hers, muting the tiny gasp of surprise she had tried to utter. He kissed her roughly, barely caring if she would bother to return it, and she didn't. She was trying to break free, until eventually she managed to shove him off.
"Mulder, don't," she breathed, laying an unsteady hand on his chest as though she had truly believed it would be enough to hold him back. The very notion made him laugh. To his ears, it sounded like a witch's evil cackle; he could feel himself slowly unraveling. "Please, you're not yourself, you don't know what you're – "
He grabbed her wrist; her words became a whimper, one she could not hold back. "Don't you walk away from me," he growled, only half aware that he was frightening her, and probably hurting her as well. "You're exactly like her. Both of you, you and my mother, keeping secrets from me, trying to destroy me."
"Mulder, you know that's not true. Your mother loved you. I – "
"What? You what?"
"You know I would never do that to you. You know I care about you. You said it yourself, didn't you? A few weeks ago? You said I was your touchstone."
"I didn't see things as clearly as I do now."
"Mulder, let me go," she whispered. There were tears in the corners of her eyes now; she was trembling underneath his grasp. But he refused to be distracted by her feigned helplessness. She was the one who told him his mother's death was a suicide. She was the one who told him about his mother's disease, the one he had not known about until it was too late. What else had she known, what else had she been keeping from him? Had she known about his mother's affair with the Cigarette Smoking Man? Had she been working for him all along? The very thought was inconceivable. He had lost too much for that bastard; his father and mother, his sister. She was the only one he had left. He couldn't let him have her as well. He wouldn't.
"You're mine, do you hear me? You can't leave me. I won't let you."
Then, as though a distant part of him was suddenly aware of what he was doing, he let go of her wrist. She cradled it with her other hand. He stared at her with growing horror as realization and remorse quickly washed over him. He let his head hang in defeat. His body slumped, and he dropped to the floor like a rag doll. Before he knew it, he was weeping again, burying his face in his hands as sobs tore through him.
"Oh, Mulder," she murmured, kneeling beside him. She wrapped her arms around him as he cried against her shoulder. "It's okay. Everything is going to be okay. I'm right here."
He had never asked for her forgiveness after that night, but he knew that she knew how sorry he was. He could see it in her eyes whenever they happened to meet his. The sight of the yellowing bruises on her wrist made his stomach turn. She was more careful around him in the next few days, as though she was wishing to give him his space, and he appreciated the gesture, but at the same time, he wished he could bring back those days following their first kiss before everything went to hell.
He kind of thought she had forgiven him because shortly afterwards, she asked him to father her child.
He knew she had been looking into the possibilities of having a child. From the moment he had confessed to her about finding her ova, she had relentlessly sought for second opinion, for ways to defy the people who had subjected her to those awful tests. She returned to the office on a whim after her doctor's appointment – it was way passed their office hours and yet he was still there, catching on some paperwork, and with endless blushes but with a voice unfaltering and resolute, she had told him about the IVF and asked if he would consider helping her.
Her request caught him off guard at first, especially the way she held his gaze without flinching as she spoke. He was in awe by the way in which she carried herself. And of course he would do it. He told her he needed to think about it, but a big part of him was already set on helping her anyway. Not only because he was still desperate to make amends after that night; in a way, he felt he owed it to her. After all, she had lost this chance for motherhood while embarking on his personal journey. He got his closure; wasn't she entitled to have hers?
Despite her happiness, her hope, her complete belief that this time, everything would be alright, the procedure failed. He cradled her against his chest so he wouldn't have to see the devastation reflected in her eyes. He would have done anything to take away her pain. Never give up on a miracle, he told her. He could never tell her how upset the news had made him, as well. His part in this was purely technical, but already he had seen this child in his mind's eye, a perfect blend of the two of them, with her red hair and his hazel eyes. A child that would never be now.
He kissed her goodbye on her doorway that evening. He wanted to stay, but she insisted she would be fine. He knew she wanted to be alone and so he didn't argue, but his heart broke to see her so down. Although their lips touch for slightly longer than appropriate, this was not a kiss of heated passion. They were clinging to one another, two lost souls seeking solace. For a moment he wasn't sure which one of them was comforting whom.
Had someone told him their fourth kiss would be a major turning point in both their lives, he would have laughed in their faces. It wasn't off to a very good start, with them getting into a nasty fight and him leaving in a huff to England. Upon his return, a few days later, he found her a completely different person. Well, it was a hefty way to put it, but she seemed different to him. Calmer somehow. And the story she told him about that other man and her choices in life completely blew him away. He kept thinking about it after leaving her asleep on his sofa and retiring to his bedroom. He couldn't sleep, couldn't help but wonder what would have happened if she chose that man, if she chose to pursue a career in medicine. What would become of the X Files? What would become of him?
He didn't know how long it had been before he sensed her presence. He opened his eyes to find her standing there on the doorway, barefoot and squinting into the darkness.
"Scully?" His voice was raspy. He didn't even realize he had fallen asleep. "Is everything okay? Do you need something?"
She was shaking her head vigorously. "You were sleeping. I'm sorry, I didn't mean – "
"No, it's fine. Come on in."
She hesitated, shyly observing his naked chest, but eventually walked in and sat on the edge of his bed. She avoided his inquiring gaze, looking anywhere but straight at him. She crossed her legs, uncrossed them, straightened an invisible wrinkle on her skirt. He sat up and leaned against the bed board, watching her curiously. She seemed nervous, and it had nothing to do with her waking him up. He wondered what this was all about.
"I didn't mean to fall asleep earlier, I'm sorry," she said eventually, barely looking at him. He was scanning the room, trying to remember where he had left his tee shirt. He didn't want to make her uncomfortable; he hadn't expected her to show up in his bedroom when he had discarded the shirt earlier.
"You had a long couple of days."
She laughed bitterly, as though that was the understatement of the century. She seemed to want to say something else, but held back.
"What?" he pressed her.
Her eyes widened in surprise, as though she had truly believed she could fool him and get away with it. "I just want you to know… All things considered, despite everything we've been though over the last seven years, despite everything we've lost, I'm glad my choice has led me here. I'm glad I didn't… quit when I had the chance."
"I'm glad you didn't quit, too," was all he could say. It sounded so lame. There was so much more he had to tell her.
"And, umm, I've been thinking." She was clearly blushing now. She wouldn't meet his eye. "About New Year's and the IVF and… everything."
"No, please let me finish," she cut him off, then laughed softly, sheepishly. "God, I don't even know what it is I want to say."
"For what it's worth, I'm completely jetlagged and delirious; you could probably get away with just about anything right now."
But his words didn't make her laugh as he had hoped they would. It was almost as though she didn't hear them at all. She moved to sit closer, so close his could smell the faint lavender scent coming off her skin. He suddenly felt horribly exposed in just his pajama bottoms. He couldn't go in search for his tee shirt because she was now in his way and he didn't want to have to push passed her. Besides, he was too curious to leave his spot. He tightened the covers around his middle, not daring to look away from her, wondering what she would say – what she would do next.
"I'm tired of all this running around while my own life is standing still. I'm tired of holding back emotions I'm not supposed to have just because I'm terrified of the consequences. I'm tired of telling you one thing while meaning another. I don't want to do this anymore."
Before he could decipher her cryptic statements, she was inching even closer. Her lips, soft and warm, met his. He held back a moan. He had forgotten the electricity, the fireworks going off in his head. Letting go of the covers, he brought his hand to the back of her neck, drawing her closer. She didn't seem to expect it and sort of stumbled against him, her nails grazing his skin as she snaked her arms around his neck. She was all but straddling his lap, as much as her narrow skirt allowed her.
Having her at the same eye level at last, he kissed her harder, reveling at the sensation, thinking of all the times he had been denied from doing just that, be it by circumstances or his personal cowardice. There was absolutely nothing to be afraid of; he knew that now. This was just right. He was blindingly feeling his way up to her neckline, trying to take her jacket off her shoulders. She pulled away from him, giggling breathlessly, and removed it herself, leaving it on the edge of the bed.
Faces flushed, hair a mess, breathing ragged and heavy, they stared at each other, their expressions a mix of satisfaction and disbelief. Every other kiss they ever shared paled in comparison to this one.
"Jetlagged and delirious," he said again, half to her, half to himself. He couldn't help the small smile he could feel curling on his lips. He knew it would be like this. He forced a more nonchalant expression on and gave her a look. "Is that the part where you slap me and run away screaming?"
"More like, the part where I kick myself for not doing this much sooner," she replied, and her fingers tangled in his hair when their lips collided once more. The air was crackling. "I think… we've got… a lot to catch up on," she managed as he trailed kisses down her neck.
"Damn straight," he murmured as he lowered her to his bed.
There were many kisses from then on in; he had completely lost count. The shift from partners to lovers was possibly the best thing that ever happened to him. He caught sight of his reflection in the mirror one morning and couldn't help laughing. He was practically glowing. For a moment it was possible to forget the government conspiracies, the darkness, everything grim and awful in the world, and lead something close to a normal life.
Miraculously, he remembered their last kiss before he had gone back to Oregon, before they had been torn apart. Everything else was a blur. He vaguely remembered the ship, the other abductees, more pain than he could bear, inflicted upon him over and over again. For the longest time, he could only hang on to the memory of that kiss. Knowing she was out there, waiting for him, was the only thing that gave him hope.
When he finally regained consciousness after what had been termed by everyone as a dark, horrible ordeal, everything was so changed. She had a new partner, assigned months ago to search for him when he had gone missing. He was, for all intents and purposes, out of a job, banished out of his own office. And to top it all off, somehow, against all odds, she was pregnant. He was too exhausted to care about anything, let alone the ramifications of that last bit of information. He still had nightmares about the dark place and the procedures, and so he found it much easier to just stay awake. As a result, he was cranky and constantly angry with everyone. He had no sense of belonging whatsoever. He felt weary, betrayed, completely left out.
Somehow she bore with him all through this period of detachment. She showed up at his apartment every day after work, making sure that he bothered to get out of bed and get dressed, that he had enough to eat, that he was healthy. He knew she was hurt by his indifference, his unusual passivity. She had never said anything, but he could see it in her eyes. She had expected more of him. At the beginning, though, he couldn't even find the energy to care.
He wasn't sure what made him get himself together eventually, but the next time she came over to his place to bring him lunch, he stared at her as though for the first time. In many ways, it was the first time he had truly seen her since finding her by his bedside at the hospital. Her pregnancy was hard to miss, obviously, but now he was fully aware of every curve of her body, the slow and careful way in which she carried herself. Despite the worry lines he could now notice, there was this constant glimmer in her eyes; there was color in her cheeks. She looked radiant.
He stepped back into the living room after putting the bag she had brought him in the kitchen. In his brief absence, she had settled on the sofa. She was leaning her head against the wall with her eyes closed and her hands on her stomach. Only now he realized the burden coming here must have been to her, a physical burden as well as an emotional one. She must be getting tired more easily these days. He knew how frustrated she must be with him; she must have expected a seamless reunion. Only now he could find it in his heart to be sorry for putting her through this, for being so ungrateful. He was acting silly, really, shutting out to a woman who had become his everything in seven, now eight years.
Her eyes snapped open as he lowered himself to the sofa beside her. She blinked, momentarily disoriented, and he flashed a crooked grin in wordless apology. She nodded, and her eyes seemed more alert now as she looked at him questionably. He raised his arm ever so slightly and, looking down at her stomach, asked, "May I?"
She seemed confused for a split second, but then slowly nodded. He lay his hand against her stomach, feeling as clumsy as ever, and she laughed softly and covered his hand with hers, moving it into a slightly different spot. He didn't feel anything, but he didn't bother to say so. Her hand was warm, stirring something deep and numb inside him. Already this was better than his recent aloofness. He was beginning to feel like himself again. Their eyes met and she smiled shyly. She seemed to be thinking the same thing.
"When are you due?" he asked, suddenly anxious to catch on. He had missed so much.
"In a few weeks," she replied, her eyes speaking volumes. It was the things she didn't say that shocked him the most. It was easy to do the math, to count back the months of his absence to what started right here, in his apartment. Suddenly he was too terrified to be thrilled. Sure, he had been preparing himself for the possibility before, but that was when they were trying, and he wasn't even going to be involved, but this…?
Something inside her fluttered, right underneath his palm. He started and she laughed at his reaction. The baby kicked against their joined hands, as if with confirmation to what he had just come to terms with. He looked up at her, and his joy immediately dampened when he realized her eyes were glimmering with what seemed like tears.
"What is it?"
She shook her head; her hand squeezed his ever so slightly. "I missed you."
All her hope, all her misery, summed up within three simple words. He thought he knew exactly what she meant. He had been there too, in her shoes, years ago. "I missed you, too."
They moved towards one another, as though on cue. The moment their lips met, the baby kicked again, but as new and thrilling as the motion was, he didn't let it distract him. He raised his hand from her stomach to cup her cheek, to bring her closer to him, never wanting to pull away.
He remembered the tender kiss they shared in her bedroom, with their baby snug and warm in his arms, fussing softly between them. It was a sweet aftermath after a frenzied several days. They had made so many plans in the past few days. He was actually ready to move in with her. They had already planned which of his furniture they would bring over to her place, which would be sent to storage, how they would tell everyone, what they would tell her mother. It was almost wrong to be so happy, so hopeful.
And then, barely two days later, everything changed. With tears in her eyes, she pleaded with him to leave, to save himself. She said he must do it for his sake, but mostly for the sake of their baby. She got in touch with the Gunmen and got them to find him a safe place to stay. He watched her as she arranged for his forced exile, running around her apartment, packing, making one phone call after another. He was sitting on the sofa, holding their son in his arms and whispering false reassurances into his tiny ear.
The kiss he remembered the most was on the day he left, on the doorway at her apartment, an apartment that would never be their own now. It was not yet dawn, but they had been awake for several hours. Their baby too was awake in her arms, watching him curiously, his eyes surprisingly alert. It was as though he knew exactly what was going on. She put on a good act, but she was clearly holding herself together. He should know; he was doing the same. He held her for a long moment, the best he could with the baby still nestled against her chest. He breathed in his sweet scent, and hers, committing it to memory.
"Be safe," she told him, and her voice was breaking, betraying her calm façade.
"You too. Keep him safe." He leaned over and placed a gentle kiss on the baby's head. "See you soon, William." He blinked, refusing to be distracted by tears, but it was hard when tears were streaming down her own face now. He shook his head and she tried to smile, as though she knew it was silly to cry. "I'll contact you as soon as I can."
He took her hand and laced their fingers together. She watched him as he raised their joined hands and pressed his lips to her knuckles. "This isn't forever."
"I know," she nodded, gently untangling their hands so she could walk into his arms again.
He held her like he always had, with her head tucked underneath his chin. He placed a kiss on the top of her head. "I love you, Dana."
She let out a tiny gasp and looked up. It was the first time he ever said it. Well, the first time he wasn't joking or delirious or under the effect of painkillers. He smiled at her, hoping it would reassure her. Inside, he was breaking, but he was determined not to let it show.
"I love you, too."
"Then we'll be okay. I promise."
And there it was; their last kiss. It had been months, but it was still engraved in his mind. Memories were all he had left of them now. In the few days the three of them had lived as a family, they didn't even get a chance to take a picture together. He carried a photo of her and William, taken several weeks before by the Gunmen. She attached a photo almost every time she emailed him. The baby looked exactly like her, but something in his tiny face reminded him of himself. He looked happy and that fact comforted him. More than anything, he wanted to be a good father to him, a better father than the one he had known himself.
He was lonelier than he thought was possible. Having happiness present itself to him just to be taken away shortly afterwards had only intensified his desolation. Their last kiss gave him strength; it filled him with hope. It would be over soon. It would be safe to come home, to see them again. She would open the door and smile when she'd find him there, leaning nonchalantly against her doorway. He would kiss her and like in a fairytale, the evil spell would be broken and there would be no more darkness.
He curled as small as he could in his narrow bed, and his tears soaked the pillow beneath his head. He wanted to believe it would happen this way. This isn't forever, he reminded himself whenever things became unbearable. This would soon be over, and he would see them again.
But in the meantime, he had only memories to wallow in.