Her face is close, so close, and he watches it happen like a highway safety video. Catastrophic Collisions: It Could Be You . He knows that he should draw away, that this will end badly, that he’s going to be telling her in five seconds that he doesn’t want this, that the fallout of it will inflict genetic disorders on the next five generations of their conversations. And yet. In a split-second of selfish, self-righteous weakness he thinks: I want to do it anyways. I want to know. Why the fuck not.
Her mouth is on his. Warm and peregrine. An introduced species. It’s her decision. Why the fuck not.
Her mouth is opening, and he shouldn’t respond to it because he’s going to stop this in three more seconds. But he’s in this now, and he wants to. He’s spent the last six months numb and with near-constant acid reflux, his chest sometimes aching so persistently that he considered whether he might actually need to see a doctor. He is so sick of caring. She almost died. Why the fuck not.
His hands go to her hair and he turns the kiss into something almost clinically deep. As if he’s performing it. Making an encyclopedic entry. Data entry. Dana entry. This is what it’s like to do this with her.
Their faces switching sides like turns of the screw. Once, twice.
Coup de grace, he pulls her against him. Her fingers on his ears. Not urgent but firm, a commitment in it that breaks his heart. She’s always committing to him, goddamn her. God bless her. Goddamn it.
One more second.
Zero more seconds.
Zero more seconds.
Zero more seconds, Fox.
He feels the slightest tremor go through her, through those steady little hands that could be veined with radiation and carcinoma and still split an apple at fifty paces. And suddenly that’s it. He stops. He doesn’t look at her. He breathes.
He didn’t look away quick enough. He’ll have the glimpse of her breathless, expectant face filed in his brain for the rest of his life. Maybe he’ll make it the album art for the Sounds of Dana Scully LP so he’ll remember not to listen to it. Great.
He’s not looking at her but his hands still rest on either side of her face. He removes them gently, reaches for her hands instead.
He inhales, exhales.
“You don’t want to do this,” she says, kinder than he deserves.
He looks up, safe now that she’s said her line. Her mouth is chafed to a flush. Flashes of red candy suckers, a flukeman’s sucker. He’s a sucker.
“Scully, you are--” He stops. “I like you very--” he laughs wearily. Stops. Laughs. “I like you very much. I should hope that’s obvious, after all of--after everything. That’s a not a question here. I just--”
“--I need a rest.”
“I know,” she says, looking at their hands, then up at him. “It’s okay.”
“Mulder, it’s okay. It’s really okay.” She squeezes his hands slightly and smiles. Releases them. Steps back and stumbles over her confidently forgotten coat. Picks it up. “I should probably go now, though.”
He hates her for how little embarrassment she manages to betray, loves her. Hates himself. His beard burn blushing across her face like he’s forced discomposure upon her anyways. Just the latest reason that Dana Scully’s body doesn’t get to obey her mind.
“I’ll take another look at Max in the morning,” she says at the door. “Impotence is more likely to have a physical than a psychological cause.”