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Wake Up

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The brakes on the vehicle squealed slightly as Mulder put the car into park outside Dana Scully’s Georgetown apartment. Her fingernails gripped the material of her seat and he could hear the sound of the fabric scratching. The silence in the car was overwhelming but he didn’t know what to say.

If he could have stopped anything from happening in his lifetime, he would promptly choose the event that put Scully in the hospital and cost them the last three months together. Of all the things they had to endure together, losing this time felt like it had cost them the most.

Her eyes watered as she looked out the car window at the vehicle at the red brick building she had lived in since moving to Washington after graduating from Quantico in 1992.

“Home sweet home,” she rasped after a beat.

Mulder shut the car off and unbuckled his seatbelt. “Come on. I’ll walk you inside.”

Four days ago she awoke from a three month coma, telling him there was a danger coming, that she saw it all and how it was going to happen. Scully’s doctor warned him that due to the trauma she suffered that caused her coma, her vivid dreams would seem very real to her when she awoke. Inside those missing months, she had fifteen years of a life where they progressed from partners and friends to lovers. They had a child under wild circumstances. They went on the run to protect Mulder. They found his redemption and started the search for a son she named William.

It was all too fantastic for a normal person to consider but Fox Mulder was a believer.

Things had been changing for them since last year. After she found him in that secret lab where CGB Spender had cracked open his head and took out a chunk of DNA from his brain, he was sure that the shift in their relationship was finally going to happen. The way she ran her fingers across his lips at his door had encouraged him to make a move.

Instead, on December 31, she was attacked by a zombie of all things. The bite to her neck was more severe than they anticipated and while everyone else made it out okay, she remained in hospital for three months.

It threw a large wrench in his plans. He thought about trying to kiss her at midnight. It was cliche but Mulder had a penchant for glib remarks and cliche moves that came off as corny. They usually made her blush or laugh a little. He liked to tease her that the moment she mentioned spontaneous human combustion made his heart leap from his chest but lately it had been almost everything about her. He recognized that feeling and thought she returned the sentiment, but everything was put on hold because of a fucking zombie and the Millennium group trying to raise the dead to bring on the apocalypse.

“I am the resurrection and the life,” Mark Johnson whispered quietly as he summoned the recently deceased to rise again. “He that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: and whosoever liveth and believeth in me, shall never die.”

What Mulder understood about Christianity was that suicide was looked down upon from most branches of that religion. For these men to have a basis in that faith and use it to cause the end of days didn’t quite add up for Mulder.

Thankfully, he and Scully managed to stop the end of the physical world. He made it out with a dislocated shoulder. He was lucky in that regard but Scully had suffered a blunt force trauma injury that could have very well been fatal. After minor cosmetic surgery to the wound on her neck, she didn’t wake up.

The trauma from almost losing her on this case was enough to make him reconsider a lot in his line of work. What were they really doing in the FBI as monster hunting, alien chasing professional spooks? This wasn’t worth the cost of their lives. He wanted to find his sister and bring the men to justice that robbed Scully and so many other women of their unborn children and their lives.

He spent the next three months working from a desk, refusing any assignments that took him out of town and focused on debunking work from his basement office. He came by the hospital every day, sometimes twice, and pestered the nurses and doctors for any signs of progress.

A coma wasn’t something anyone could predict or decipher from the outside. The doctors and nurses checked her daily but aside from the occasional leg twitch, she slept.

All Mulder could do was sit at her bedside and ask her to wake up. He told her he was there, he talked to her about his day and ate seeds while the heart monitor beeped at its comforting pace to let him know she was still in there.

When she finally awoke, Mulder raced to the hospital from work, abandoning a report he had delayed submitting to Skinner twice already.

She was sitting in her bed with freshly washed hair and a white waffle cloth robe around her small frame. He stood impatiently in her doorway and her eyes widened when she spotted him beyond the doctors and nurses taking her vitals.

“Mulder!” she called to him and reached the hand currently hooked up to a fingertip pulse oximeter to him.

When he moved towards her, she grabbed at his arms and clutched him so fiercely. It was reminiscent to finding her alive on his apartment floor, covered in blood and lifeless. Fucking Padgett and his gross psychic heart surgery obsessions.

“You’re okay!” she said with astonishment as she pulled him down to her in the bed. Mulder kissed her forehead on instinct. “You’re… your fever? What happened?”

It took three hours of explanations to let her know that she was not in the year 2017. It wasn’t easy for her to grasp that what she lived through in her mind wasn’t real. She touched her abdomen as he explained to her they hadn’t had a child, nor had she been forced to give him up. The revelation that their child was a fantasy was too much for her to accept and he found himself dealing with a new heartbreak as she discovered again that she was childless.

“I’ve seen it!” she insisted as she cried painful tears. “I saw how it all comes together. The smoking man is planning something. Whatever is coming, Mulder, he’s going to end the world!”

Her doctor kicked him out after she made this declaration and gave Scully a sedative to calm her down. All it did was knock her out again until that night and he had to delay understanding what she saw.

It was less than ideal to be removed like a common bystander instead of the man who had been waiting 2190 hours for answers.

Normally, anyone in a coma would awake with the understanding that their dreams or visions were just that and nothing more. No one looked at a dream as though it could be a premonition for the end of days. Almost no one.

He accepted what she told him as possible visions. There was too much in her story to not have a semblance of possible truth. Maybe the chip in her neck was doing more than just curing her cancer but was giving her answers to questions she wanted to know. Maybe there were insights into what she saw and they just had to decode these dreams as though they were whispers of the their impending future.

When he returned that night with leather-bound journals and take out, he sat in the hospital with her and listened to her recount what she saw in her dreams as though they were memories of her life.

“We had a child-” she began and her voice caught in her throat. “You told me not to give up on a miracle and I believed you.”

“Scully…” he started and she took his hand. “I don’t know what to say. I believe you saw these things. I don’t doubt that for a second.”

“I can’t reconcile that the last fifteen years of what I thought was my life didn’t happen,” she said as she traced the inside of his wrist with her finger. “We… we were married, Mulder.”

He grinned a little. “Married?”

She pulled her hand back. “I’m sorry. Maybe… I should see someone. This isn’t fair to put this on you.”

Her rational and logical mind was still processing what she thought she saw and felt. He didn’t mind the tactile side of her that didn’t include assessing his physical state from a possible injury. Even the faux assessments that were more just fluffing his hair were an excuse and he loved every minute of it.

Mulder took her hand in his and he kissed the back of it. Her mouth crooked up in a grin. Her eyes told him this was a familiar thing for him to do but it hadn’t been since her cancer that he showed this kind of overt affection.

“I don’t feel put upon,” he reassured her. “So… Why William?”

The bomb she dropped about their son was bigger than the marriage part. Last year after they got back to the X-files, he told her that he had been holding on to her ova in his freezer. Aside from her reaction that he had withheld that information, she had them tested and asked him to be the father. He said yes to helping her have a baby and they lived through the heartbreak of the implantation not taking.

It had created a shift in their relationship how they saw themselves with each other and he felt the burning embers of desire begin to overwhelm him at inopportune times. All this and they had yet to have their first official kiss.

“After your father,” she explained as though it made sense. “I know you weren’t close but it made sense to me to honour the man who raised you even though you weren’t technically his…”

She shook her head self-deprecatingly and Mulder took her hand.

“What?”

“I suppose it’s better than naming our son Fox but it meant something to me at the time-” she stopped herself. “In my head when I dreamt it.”

Mulder squeezed her fingers and kissed the back of her hand again. “I believe you. I suppose it’s a nice thought. My dad never wanted my sister or I to be sacrificed as some kind of insurance policy. I think that was part of the reason he drank.”

She looked at him with grateful eyes. He missed her so much over these last three months that watching her in front of him, he was having a hard time reconciling that this was real for himself.

“I don’t like to think of the people that brought you into this world as heartless or cruel,” she mentioned.

“My mother will be happy to hear that,” he replied.

Scully’s eyes widened. “Your mother is still- that means my mother, oh my god Mulder. My mother is still alive!”

It occurred to him that of all the things she would have gained in the last fifteen years of the life she dreamt up for herself, she also had loss.

“When did you see my mother passing?” he asked her.

She opened her mouth but hesitated. “I can’t… I don’t want to say.”

“Why?” he asked.

“I think… I would rather speak to her privately about it first,” she explained.

That worried him but he didn’t push it. Mulder reached into his pocket and popped a sunflower shell into his mouth. When he looked up to her face, she was watching his mouth with intensity.

“What?” he asked as he pulled the shell from his lips.

“I’ve seen you do that so many times in my dreams…” she said and shook her head again. “It’s kind of comforting to know you still do or you actually do that.”

Mulder leaned over to her and kissed her forehead. “I want you to use those journals I brought.”

She nodded against his lips. “Okay.”

“I’ll be back in the morning before I go into work,” he said and put his hand on her knee. He squeezed her leg reassuringly and she covered his hand with her own. “I can’t sneak you out of here just yet.”

She nodded slowly and licked her lower lip. “I’ll use the journals tomorrow and try to write down what I can.”

“Anything you can remember will be useful for stopping what’s coming,” he reassured her. “The sooner we know, the sooner the wheels can be set into motion.”

Scully paused thoughtfully. “You believe it was a premonition and not a dream?”

Mulder pursed his lips as he pensively chose his words. “I think it could be both.”

She gave him a weak smile. “Thank you for believing me.”

Mulder grinned. “That’s my thing, isn’t it? I stayed a believer in your dream, didn’t I?”

She nodded. “Yes… almost to our destruction, I’m sorry to say. Maybe we were doomed from the start.”

Mulder slumped against the back of the chair and folded his arms across his torso. “Shit.”

She put her hand on his knee. “I shouldn’t keep telling you this. It’s probably-”

“If you try to hit me with some science and facts arguing against what you thought you saw-” he started.

She laughed and Mulder stopped talking. It was the first time he had heard her laugh in three months and he felt overwhelmed.

“What?” she asked.

“I’m just so glad you woke up,” he said and he put his arm around her shoulders and rubbed her back. “I missed you.”

She grinned a little. “I missed you too but… because of other things…”

A nurse came into Scully’s room and gave Mulder an annoyed look. “Mr. Mulder, please. She needs her rest.”

“She was in a coma for three months and you sedated her for a few hours but okay, sure,” he quipped.

Mulder stood up as he donned his jacket. As he adjusted his tie, he leaned over to where she was sitting and kissed her forehead again. “I’ll see you in the morning. Your mom called me from San Diego and said she’ll be on the first flight out in the morning.”

She nodded slowly as she processed it all.

“Mr. Mulder,” the nurse insisted.

Scully stood slowly and followed Mulder halfway across the private room she had been moved into since her awakening. “Good night.”

He looked down at her and felt that familiar urge when he wanted to kiss her but like all those other instances, he refrained. This wasn’t the right time and place. He wanted something like watching the ball drop with Dick Clark to be as good a reason to kiss her. He could brush it off as a gesture of holiday cheer if it went poorly and hide his feelings with a glib remark.

Scully’s mind had made that journey for them too so he knew that she wasn’t against the idea…

Four days later, they were standing at the edge of her apartment and she was looking at the space like it was a stranger’s home and not her own.

“It looks different from what I remember,” she said as she fingered the edge of the thick plastic bag that held the journals she had filled.

Mulder had changed from his suit and tie into jeans and a sweater before picking Scully up. He stepped around her to put her small go-bag near the front table and shed his leather jacket. “It’s clean. I had a service come by to do the floors and dust a few times. Bathrooms too.”

Scully nodded as she looked around the space. She ran her hand along the kitchen table as she walked towards her fridge. With a sigh, she opened the door and closed it again.

“We’ll have to go grocery shopping,” he said obviously and she nodded. “We can go now if you’re hungry.”

She looked at him and shook her head listlessly. “I don’t know. I feel too anxious to eat.”

Mulder closed her front door and grabbed one of the take-out menus from the neat stack near the phone. He held up the first menu. “Mings?”

She shook her head and he moved the folded paper to the back of the pile.

“Curry and Pie?”

Scully made a face and tucked the hair that had grown long since her hospitalization behind her ear.

“Paisano’s?” he said as he held up the next menu and she shrugged one shoulder. “That’s not a no.”

“Paisano’s,” she agreed and she wrapped her arms around her frame. Being in a coma had stripped about ten pounds from her and the clothes she arrived in months previously were baggy on her when she dressed to be discharged. “I’m just going to get changed.”

Mulder nodded and called in their usual order. Meat lovers for him and a vegetarian for her. They always shared one Caesar and a Caprese salad to balance out the carbs at Scully’s insistence. They split a bottle of wine at his recommendation that it would still be a work meeting they could write off if they had a drink like the rest of their cohorts at the FBI. Mulder wasn’t sure if the wine would happen tonight or if that would be something they would have to do differently.

When Scully returned from her bedroom, she was in a pair of black leggings and Mulder’s New York Knicks sweatshirt that he left there before she went to San Diego for Christmas. She pulled her hair into a ponytail and shivered as she entered the kitchen. He smiled at the sight of the thick socks on her feet.

“I can’t find my slippers anywhere,” she commented as she shivered again. She caught Mulder’s face at her attire and thumbed the collar of the hooded sweatshirt. “Do you mind?”

He shook his head. It was such a familiar thing, like something a girlfriend might do. In her mind, they belonged to one another and she was slowly adjusting to the idea that they had yet to cross that line. Anything that helped to assuage that disappointment didn’t bother him in the slightest.

If she truly had a premonition, their becoming a couple was inevitable. He just needed the conduit to move them from this state of limbo.

He had to admit that it was cool in her apartment and he suggested a fire to warm the space while they waited for dinner. She still had some firewood in her laundry room. When he exited the laundry room with a few logs in his arm, Scully was staring at the carpet near her couch.

“What happened?” he asked.

“I think someone dies right here,” she said quietly as she looked up at him. “Everything I experienced is starting to jumble together. I wrote down a lot but I don’t know how accurate any of what I experienced in my dream and what I can recall to being synonymous.”

Her blue eyes were wet with tears she was close to shedding and the haunting of a life she had ripped from her. On the positive side, they might be able to change the course of the future with what she saw. They might still be able to have a child and protect him from outside threats such as the conspirators and shadow men that lurked in their lives.

“Scully…” he started but he didn’t know what to say.

He wanted to comfort and hold her but would it be too intrusive?

“I just keep thinking that I’ve woken up in a nightmare,” she said as she looked at him with intensity. “All I’ve felt and discovered over the last fifteen years was a lie and I’m stuck in this life where I don’t know who we are to each other.”

“I’m still… I’m still your friend,” he vowed. “I’m not going anywhere, Scully.”

He put his hand on her shoulder and she stepped into his arms. His hands ran up her back and she pressed her body against his completely. He kissed the top of her head and she squeezed him tighter.

When she looked up at him, he thought it was the time. He wouldn’t be crossing a line because she was vulnerable. This wasn’t a dire situation that they could brush off later as a reaction to near death.

He glanced down to her mouth and her pink tongue peeked between her teeth to moisten her bottom lip. As his head neared hers, she stood up slightly on her toes. It felt as though it was moving in slow motion and he wondered if a poorly-timed bee would interrupt this moment for them also. His hand cupped the back of her head as the distance between their mouths closed together. His bottom lip hit slightly below hers and their first kiss changed quickly from something chaste and quiet to open-mouthed and full of promise.

She kissed him as though she had been kissing him all their lives. Her tongue moved against his with the pressure of a woman who understood when that made him hard. She slid her hands into his recently shorn hair and held his face to hers as he picked her up and moved her towards any surface that would get their mouths and bodies at a better alignment. Somehow they made it towards the couch and landed on it without gnashing their teeth or falling on the floor.

Mulder worried this would escalate too quickly before she could understand where they fit together. On the other hand, she was moving her hips underneath his while he pushed against her. This had heightened from a first kiss of chaste intentions to something fevered and hot. He hadn’t kissed a woman with such intensity in his lifetime.

When he pulled his mouth from hers, she looked up at him with wondering eyes and put a hand across her wet lips.

Mulder pushed himself off of her and wiped his fingers across his mouth. “Uh… that wasn’t…”

“Terrible,” she supplied as she sat up on the couch and rubbed her hand across her collarbone. Mulder looked at her questioningly. “That was terrible?”

“No!” he said quickly. “No… I was going to say that wasn’t expected when I walked you inside.”

She pulled her feet on the couch and pressed her forehead against her knees. “In my head, you’ve been more than just my best friend for longer than I can remember.”

Mulder put his hand on her back and moved closer to her. “Scully…”

“Don’t,” she said weakly and he lifted his palm off of her. “I can’t… I miss you and you’re not-”

“I thought maybe we might be getting there,” he offered and she looked up. “I don’t know how much you remember about us before… but I wanted to kiss you at midnight if we were still together.”

“When?” she asked.

“On New Year’s,” he explained and his cheeks felt hot. “I thought if anything else, it was an excuse to kiss you but if you weren’t interested in something with me-”

“I was!” she interrupted and stopped herself from saying anything else. “I just… I don’t know what to think now. I have all these memories of us together that aren’t real.”

“In bed?” he asked with a curious grin.

“Yes - I mean no -” she started and his face fell. “I mean, yes those too but just… there were moments when you were someone else to me than just my partner at the FBI.”

“I’m not just that now, am I?” he asked as he searched her eyes for answers. “Aside from our first kiss being pretty hot-”

“Mulder,” she said and nudged him on the couch with her shoulder.

They laughed together and it felt nice to break the tension with some humour.

“Wasn’t it?” he asked and she nodded. Her cheeks were pink now and he pulled her hands from around her legs to relax her a little. She put her feet on the floor and turned to him on the couch. “I want us to move forward to… what you saw without the heartbreak of us failing to keep our son safe or for my obsessions to get in the way.”

“Mulder you left after we had a child-”

“That is still wild for me to hear,” he admitted.

She fidgeted with the cuffs on the sweatshirt as she stared at her hands. “Is that not something… I mean, I guess that was off the table for you…”

“No!” he replied quickly. “Scully… no, if there is a chance… I wanted to see you have the chance to be a mother. The idea that this child could be ours in some way is…”

He shook his head as he felt the overwhelming emotions of what he never had but lost anyway and she reached out to touch his hand.

“If that’s possible for you or for us, Scully, I want you to have that,” he said and her mouth dropped open a little in shock. “Regardless of some dangers out there. They will always be there but it would make you happy. I would be remiss if I didn’t say it made me a little proud to be the man to make you happy.”

“What if these obsessions and threats interfere anyway?” she asked him. “What if what I saw is going to happen whether we plan for every outcome and we’re bound to hurt each other with our own stubbornness? What if the darkness becomes too much and finds us anywhere we run to?”

“Let it try,” Mulder said with a grin and she clenched her chin as she frowned. “I know how I feel.”

There was a knock at the door and Mulder looked down at his lap. It wasn’t quite noticeable what they were just doing but he was still semi-hard.

“I’ll get it,” she offered.

“My wallet is in my jacket,” he instructed and she nodded.

When she opened the door, the Paisano’s delivery guy held their pizzas in one hand and their salads in other.

“Haven’t seen you in a while,” he commented. “We thought you guys moved.”

Mulder grinned. “We were on a healthy eating kick.”

The territorial side of Mulder liked to make every man in her life think he was there all the time. It wasn’t entirely untrue and he liked being thought of as a permanent fixture around her. Not talking to her for three months had made him more possessive of her. He thought his clinginess would have been cured by the lack of time they had together but it only made him want her more.

Her coma also solidified his feelings for her. When she was abducted and returned, he tried to hide from how he felt from everyone including himself. All it did was make his guilt worse for putting her in a situation she could have been hurt.

When he got the call she was awake four days ago, he vowed to himself that he wouldn’t waste any more time hiding his feelings or guilt over what they went through. He could have Scully in his life romantically and still find the answers about what happened to his sister.

“Forty seven eighty five,” the pizza man prompted.

Scully pulled three twenties from Mulder’s wallet. “Just five back.”

The delivery man fished a crumpled five dollar bill from his pocket after Mulder took the pizza and salads.

“Thanks, man,” he replied.

Mulder closed the door on the young man with spiked hair before another assumptive question came up. “Pizza smells good.”

Scully nodded with closed eyes. “Different than I remember.”

“In a good way?” he asked as he set the food on the kitchen table. He caught her expression and sighed. “I don’t know if I said this enough but I’m sorry about what happened to you.”

Scully came up next to him as she hugged herself and looked at the journals on the table. “Maybe it was just a dream.”

Mulder groaned as he closed the cupboard with the plates on the counter in front of him. “Scully!”

“Well…” she began.

“Why would you say that?” he asked her as he brought the plates to the table. She shrugged and looked obviously uncomfortable. “Scully?”

She looked at him with embarrassment. “Our kiss was familiar. It felt like what… like what we had when I was…”

“Asleep?” he provided as he put a slice of pizza on to her plate while she dished out the salads. “Dreaming of a future that might end with us saving the world? I’m into that.”

“Mulder what if it’s inevitable? What if what I saw is going to happen no matter what we do?” she asked with worry. “When I asked you last year to help me have a child, it wasn’t with the intention we would toss him aside like he was nothing.”

“I don’t think that sounds like us in any version of any reality or a dream,” he said as he put two slices of pizza on her own. “Is that what happened?”

“Not at all… It wasn’t easy to come to that decision and if I could do it all over again, I would still try to do what I could to protect him first,” she answered. “I wanted a child because I thought… I stupidly thought I deserved to be a mother-”

“You do,” he insisted as he reached across the table to hold her hand.

“And I couldn’t protect the child we had from outside elements alone,” she replied as she looked at his hand on hers. “You were gone and I couldn’t keep him safe.”

“It sounds like you did what any good mother would have done-”

Scully held her other hand up. “I won’t ever reconcile that decision.”

She was dealing with something he hadn’t ever contemplated. He couldn’t see beyond answering yes to her and the disappointment of her fertilized ova not taking during the In Vitro procedure. After that, he couldn’t think about what could have been.

“The guilt is still real…” She shook her head as she pressed her palm in to her cheek. “I don’t know if any of it was possible but it was a nice idea for us to try to be a family… Even if it was just a dream.”

“Stop saying that!” he pleaded. “Stop trying to science-away what you think you know. What if your dream was a premonition and maybe it won’t all be like that in the future but the plot points are still there?”

Scully pulled her hand from his and got up from the table to retrieve them each a fork from the cutlery drawer. “What do you mean?”

“I mean… what if our child is the key to saving the world from whatever it is that smoking son of a bitch is concocting right now? We know that there has been a plan set in motion for an end of days with the select few saved from the alien invaders,” he began to theorize. “My sister was part of the insurance to prove the commitment of humanity to this future project.”

“So we should have a child to possibly save the world?” she surmised.

“It sounds like crap when you say it,” he muttered.

“Mulder…” she began tiredly.

“It’s been a long four days and I know you have a lot going on in your mind but us becoming more than friends was going to happen, right?” he asked her. “Or are we not on the same page anymore?”

“Yes…” she said slowly. “I know how I feel or how I felt.”

He wanted to understand. When he woke up from a lifetime of memories with Diana, he had some heavy guilt associated with his subconscious choosing to settle down with the woman who was working the syndicate against the people while acting as a double agent in the FBI. Eventually, he realized that the house down the street from all the people he had lost in his life with the picket fences and manicured lawns wasn’t a dream he wanted to see fulfilled if it was a life with his head in the sand.

Scully had come to him on what he thought was his deathbed and called him a coward and a quitter. It had all made sense in his mind that the only way he could see his life ending so quickly was without her in it.

As they ate their food in silence, he thought carefully about what he should say next. He knew how he felt about her. He realized how he felt about her when he made the snap judgement to save her life over knowing a sister that was another decoy to the truth. He would gladly cure her cancer than talk a minute with another version of the stranger CGB Spender introduced to her.

Even in the dream that he had without Scully, it didn’t make sense for her to be alive and well. A life wasn’t worth remembering without Scully, even with his sister in it. She was the thing that kept him alive all these years and in one afternoon he dreamt a life away. He laid on a deathbed while the world ended because he wasn’t with Scully to stop it. Nothing convinced him more that they belonged together since that vision.

“Scully… I love you,” he began and her eyes widened. “I mean… As my friend… I know I love you-”

“I love you too, Mulder,” she answered. “But I had the emotion and the turmoil of falling in love with you-”

“So we try again but this time we do it better,” he proposed.

She looked at him with hope and worry. “Aren’t you worried that if we tried to have a child, it could fail? What is different from what I saw versus what you saw when you were having that surgery?”

Mulder chewed thoughtfully on his slice of pizza and wiped his hands on the thin napkins that came with their order. “Okay… Well for one thing, we were separated in my vision and therefore the world ended in a few hours. Also, I don’t think that Deep Throat and Samantha are living in a secret neighbourhood tucked away in middle America with happy families. It was guilt I had over involving him in my quest for the truth and my parent’s picking me over Samantha.”

“You didn’t have anything to do with the choice about Samantha and Deep Throat came to you, Mulder,” she reminded him. “You carry guilt over my abduction, my cancer, being barren and Emily. You can’t carry the weight of the death of people who you didn’t kill…”

Mulder pulled her free hand towards him and stopped himself before he kissed the back of it again. “I’m sorry, I keep touching you-”

“I don’t mind…” she said and he noted her cheeks flushing. He couldn’t help but grin at her admission. “Mulder, shut up.”

Mulder laughed and playfully held up his hands in defence.

As they finished their dinner, Scully fought back yawns and rubbed her eyes. He was glad to have her all to himself after the last two days with Maggie at the hospital but overstaying his welcome was something he vowed not to do anymore.

“I should go,” Mulder said as he stood up to take their plates to the sink.

Scully looked at him with wide eyes and obvious disappointment. “Oh.”

“You’re yawning every four minutes and I’m clearly just hanging out because I missed you,” he said as he began to wash the dishes.

Scully came up to where he stood at the kitchen sink and watched as the water and soap cleansed each plate under his hands. They were both avoiding eye contact as he scrubbed each plate and rinsed them before she took the dishes from him to dry with a tea towel.

“Mulder…” she started.

When he looked down at her again, he saw the familiar look in her eye from earlier. It was want and longing but also desire. Her face was mirroring his own emotions but there was so much to wade through between them.

She was having trouble reconciling her feelings and for as much as she was able to record in the journals for him, he had barely scratched the surface of what she had been through.

“I can stay here if you want,” he offered. “Unless you want to be alone.”

She smiled slightly and glanced to his mouth again. “I’d like it if you stayed.”

“How’s your spare bedroom situation looking these days?” he asked as he shut the water off and turned to face her as he used her tea towel to dry his hands. “Last time I was here, I saw a lot of boxes in there.”

Scully thought for a moment. “That’s right. I forgot I had ordered a new bed and not set it up.”

“I can sleep on the couch,” Mulder offered.

“Only if I pull out the sofa bed for you,” she countered with a hint of something in her voice. Maybe it was disappointment. “I don’t think the couch is long enough for you.”

“Just half a foot too short to be comfortable for anything other than a nap,” he replied with a grin.

Mulder wanted to kiss her again but he also didn’t want to rush her. She put her hand on his shirt and clutched the material in her fingers. He stepped closer to her and leaned down to kiss her lips softly again. His hand remained at her waist, in an attempt to keep the action from getting too heated. He wanted her but he wanted her to want him back as the man he was now, not the one she fell in love with during a coma.

Why couldn’t they do anything like normal people?

As her fingers tightened their grip on the material of his shirt, her mouth opened slightly and he took the invitation. The kiss deepened and his hands were suddenly holding her head as he tasted her. He never knew it was possible to miss something before you had it but he couldn’t imagine not kissing her again. He longed for each and every kiss in the future, to taste her everywhere and possess her completely.

He was getting ahead of himself and as she pulled away, he ran a hand over his face.

She gulped as she regained her own composure. “I think you still have a toothbrush and change of clothes here.”

Mulder nodded. “Sure.”

She left him to get the bedding for the pull out couch while Mulder moved the coffee table to the side of the living room. As he was pulling the cushions off the couch, Scully returned with two pillows and a set of white sheets.

“I feel bad asking you to stay over,” she said as they pulled the fitted sheet over the mattress.

“I offered,” he replied.

They spread the top sheet and tucked it in at the corners. Scully handed Mulder one side of the quilt she brought out and as she worked on putting the pillows into their cases, he finished making the bed.

“It’s much faster with two people,” she noted.

“And when it’s not a waterbed,” he agreed.

Scully shook her head. “I forgot you had that thing.”

Had being the word we need to recall,” he said. “I thought about keeping the mirrored canopy-”

She scrunched her nose at it.

“But you made that face any time you saw it so I got rid of that too,” he finished.

Scully crossed the small space in the living room and Mulder pulled her into a hug. He kissed the top of her head and they held each other for a beat.

“I’m glad I woke up,” she whispered into his chest.

Mulder rubbed his palms up her back. “Me too.”

Scully looked up at him. “Are you going to be okay out here?”

He jerked his head in the direction towards the journals on the kitchen table. “I have plenty of reading material to keep me company.”

She pressed her lips together as she stepped back. “Okay… I’m going to bed then.”

“Good night,” he called after her as she walked down the hall towards her bedroom.

Mulder fetched the journals from the kitchen and set them on the side table next to the couch before he shed his jeans and sweater. He climbed into bed with just his grey tank top and boxer shorts on and the light over the couch to illuminate her words.

“I saw the end of the world as the man I love, my husband's life hung in the balance from a virus disguised as something else,” the journal began. “Lights overhead that brought me back to Ruskin Dam where faceless men set everyone on fire for coming to see a light show that would have been our own demise.”

Mulder scratched his cheek with his fingers and listened to the sound of Scully getting herself ready for bed. Her door never closed on her bedroom and he wondered if that was a gesture for him or for herself.

What I recall in the beginning was falling in love with a man who had been my protector and endangerer since the moment we met. He challenged me to be a better person, to have an open mind and to see the world with more than just the science and facts I clung to for so long as though it was the only answer. I saw with him a life that was possible. Truth in the paranormal and science to explain what we discovered on the X-Files.

We found ourselves facing old monsters, meeting old lovers and searching back to the truth in Oregon. Meanwhile, I had become pregnant somehow after more than one doctor had told me it was impossible. I found out in a dingy hotel room with Mulder. Our beginning as partners began so close by and we had another chance to start a family.

How would we know that he would have been abducted by the very aliens that were searching for abductees like myself? The pregnancy was the deciding factor to not take me again, although I still never understood why they took Mulder instead. Was it just to torture him? He endured so much through this while I carried our child to term.

Mulder continued to read through the first journal as Scully accounted for the loss and emotion she felt during her pregnancy. She worried she would lose the baby when she was spotting at twenty eight weeks after the stress of finding him dead in a field. The elation at him waking up was overwhelming and it felt completely real as she recounted every detail.

He worried by reading this, he would foresee his own demise. There had to be a clue in there how to stop some of this from happening. He got up when the apartment was quiet and wandered towards Scully’s bedroom door where she lay sleeping. He used the bathroom quietly, washed his hands and face and brushed his teeth before he found his way back to the living room.

These journals were full of everything she had gone through but part of him wanted to toss them in the fire. Maybe knowing everything wouldn’t help them and all it would do would remind him that even in a dream, he and Scully were a doomed romance.

Sleep overtook him before he could make a decision. His subconscious left him in a world where he was chasing after Scully on a long empty road. Every time he called her name, she got farther away from him and the road narrowed. It was a restless sleep but one he was accustomed to as his subconscious reminded him that while she was back, she was still out of reach.