She’s already in the office when he arrives, typing briskly. “Morning,” she calls over her shoulder. The line of her sleek, straight hair just grazes the nape of her neck as she bends over her laptop, and Mulder freezes half in and half out of the doorway.
Whatever greeting he’d intended stalls in his throat. What comes out instead is somewhere between “Oh!” and “Oooh,” a weird-enough noise that Scully turns to look at him. The cropped ends of her bob fan out as she swivels and fall perfectly into place again, and Mulder somehow manages to break his paralysis and get his coat onto the coatrack. On the second try. He blunders around to his side of the desk not looking where he’s going, unable to keep from gaping at her. Scully stares back, raises an eyebrow.
“What?” she says.
“You, uh, you went…” He gestures around his face, a chopping motion at his jawline.
“I got my hair cut, yes.” He doesn’t know what expression he’s wearing, but it feels goofy. He tries to configure it into a grin, but Scully’s look shades into consternation.
“No! I mean, no, I like it. I like it, Scully!” he tries. “It’s very…old school.” Scully blinks.
“Old school,” she repeats slowly, just a hint of emphasis on the old. Mulder shakes his head to clear it, like a dog.
“You look like you did the day I met you,” he says.
She huffs at that, turns her gaze back to the laptop. “Hopefully better dressed,” she mutters.
“Plaid is very underrated, Scully.” Is she blushing? He can’t quite tell, in the chilly light of the computer screen. But it bounces off her high cheekbones, sharper now, and the new-but-so-familiar bright cap of her hair, and she was and still is the most beautiful woman he’s ever known. Mulder stares at her until she looks up again, exasperated.
“Scully. Can I buy you dinner?”
“It’s nine in the morning, Mulder.” Her eyebrow tilts again, and he loves her with his whole heart.
“Have dinner with me tonight. I’m just asking you what I should have, twenty-five years ago.” He leans towards her across the desk. “Think of the time we could have saved, Scully.”
Scully fidgets, her eyes flicking from his face to the computer, to the clock, back to him. The corner of her lips quirks, the barest lift, and warmth surges up Mulder’s spine.
“Sushi?” she says, not quite meeting his eyes. “There’s a new place I’ve been meaning to try.”
“For you, anything,” Mulder says, and means it.