Scully is already regretting this date, and it hasn’t even begun yet. She wasn’t even interested in Tad O’Malley. She hadn’t been interested in anyone since… she shook the thought out of her head.
She and Tad had gone on one date. And it wasn’t even really a date. Scully was fascinated by his insane conspiracy theories – they were crazier than Mulder’s – and she was intrigued by his earnestness. Frankly, in the back of her mind, she knew she had agreed because she wanted to make Mulder a little bit jealous. Yes, she was the one who ended her relationship with Mulder; yes, she hadn’t dated anyone since then; and yes, she saw more than a little bit of Mulder in Tad O’Malley. Seeing Mulder again made her remember all the good times they had together, the chemistry. She missed him, but would never admit that to him.
So instead, she agreed to go on a double date. Her and Tad. Mulder and Sveta.
Scully hadn’t been planning on going out with Tad again. Then she showed up at Mulder’s house – the one she used to share with him – and found Sveta there. Scully’s heart dropped to her shoes, and Mulder didn’t even notice. He was too caught up with his conspiracy du jour. A couple days later, Mulder’s mania seemed to have subsided, and a whole new wave of jealousy bubbled up in Scully. What did Sveta have that calmed him down, when Scully couldn’t even manage it?
Scully and Tad arrived at the restaurant in Tad's limo. Of course. Mulder and Sveta arrived in a taxi. Of course. The four of them exchanged awkward pleasantries, and Scully couldn't help but notice Sveta's sheer lace dress. It was too short, too tight, and she looked overdressed. Scully wore a simple little black dress that fit her perfectly. She couldn't help but feel satisfied that she looked better than Sveta, who was half her age.
The table was ready quickly, and Tad took to ordering the wine. An expensive wine. Of course. Mulder sneaked Scully a "really? This guy?" look, and she bit her lip to keep from giggling. Remembering that she was supposed to be making Mulder jealous, she turned to Tad.
"So, Tad, why don't you tell us about that deep state conspiracy you mentioned on your show last week?" Scully hadn't actually watched his show, but she figured there was a better-than-average chance that the "deep state" was a common topic with Tad. She was right.
"Of course! So there is this group that calls themselves the Collective, made up of all these billionaires - not people whose names you would recognize, but bankers, oil tycoons, real estate developers. Just the typical douchebag you would see walking down Wall Street...." Scully watched Mulder out of the corner of her eye. He seemed to be dying to jump in to correct Tad, but couldn't be bothered. Sveta, unused to conspiracy theories, tentatively asked Tad what the "deep state" was, and he eagerly launched into a new diatribe.
Mulder quickly lost interest and peeked at Scully out of the corner of his eye. She seemed to be watching Tad intently... but then she checked him out from the corner of her eye! The corners of their eyes locked momentarily, and Scully looked away, blushing slightly.
Appetizers came, and Tad was still explaining the finer points of the deep state to Sveta. Scully wasn't sure if the young woman was enraptured or just being polite, but she kept her eyes locked on Tad. Tad, of course, reveled in the attention. Scully was glad that she wasn't interested in a relationship with Tad; she may have become jealous of Sveta. She was also glad to see that Mulder didn't seem to have any interest in Tad or Sveta. He was focused entirely on digging the roasted marrow out of a bone with a teeny, tiny fork. A fork that looks ridiculous in his big, strong hands...Scully thought - then stopped herself. Maybe it was time to cut back on the wine.
Entrees came, and Tad was still going on about the deep state - or the deeper state. Scully had long since lost all interest. She was relieved when her sea bass came; it gave her something to do. She reached absent-mindedly for her fork, and her hand brushed against Mulder's, reaching for his spoon for his paella. She shivered and looked at Mulder. Yeah, I felt that electricity, too, his eyes told her. They stared at each other a moment longer than was appropriate.
It was at this moment that Tad came up for air. "So Dana, why don't you tell us about your work?" Scully blushed; it was almost as if she had been caught.
"Um, well, I've been working with this international aid group that gives corrective plastic surgery to children with genetic deformities."
Tad hadn't said anything in 14 seconds, so he jumped in. "She is so amazing, going out of her way to help the less fortunate. When I was at the hospital, she was working on a child without ears. It was bizarre! The kid looked like an alien!" The word "alien" roused Sveta's attention, and the two began speaking about strange deformities they had seen. Scully didn't try to get the conversation back on track. It was a lost cause.
Scully glanced at Mulder, who was looking at her sympathetically. The two had a conversation without a single word being spoken; it was all in their eyes. It was a specialty of theirs.
Hey, I'm in the same boat as you.
How on earth did we end up with these two?
Well... I think - hear me out on this Scully - I thinkyou were trying to make me jealous.
Like you weren't doing that with Sveta.
Other than the potential of her being a missing link, I couldn't care less about Sveta.
Then what was she doing at our house?
Your house. Whatever! Scully was flustered, embarrassed.
Need I remind you that you left? You were the one who made it my house.
Scully stood abruptly. "Excuse me, I have to go to the ladies' room," she said coolly.
"Oh! I will go, too!" Sveta exclaimed. Scully sighed inwardly.
Scully ducked into a stall while Sveta preened in front of the mirror. Scully didn't really need to go, but she needed a few minutes alone. With Sveta, the best she could hope for was a bathroom stall.
"Tad is so smart and charming," Sveta said, sounding more like a star struck teenager than an adult woman. "But Fox is so good looking. I'm glad you dumped him!"
Scully, now out of the stall, wanted to punch Sveta in the face. Instead, she tried to patiently explain that she didn't "dump" Mulder. It was like explaining string theory to a five year old. Finally Scully just sighed. "I'm glad you are happy with him, Sveta."
By the time the ladies returned from the restroom, dessert had been served. Good, then I can go home and forget this night ever happened, Scully thought as she dug into her apple tart. While Sveta and Tad continued their discussion about conspiracy theories or aliens or the boogeyman or whatever, Scully and Mulder continued with their eye-conversation.
Scully, I'm sorry. I didn't mean that.
It's okay, Mulder. Really. It's the truth.
I know, but I didn't have to be a jerk about it. I just... I miss you.
Scully turned her eyes away from him, scared of what her eyes wanted to say next. I... I miss you, too.
Their eyes held on one another. Their hands found each other under the table, as if answering a siren's call.
"If I didn't know better, I'd say you guys were eye-banging!" Tad announced a little too loudly. Scully and Mulder let go of their hands, guilty, even though no one had seen anything. Scully refused to look Mulder in the eye for the rest of the night.
Tad insisted on picking up the check. Of course. The goodbyes were even more awkward than the hellos. Scully was whisked away in Tad's limo, so lost in thought that she didn't even notice when Tad put his arm around her.
The car arrived at Scully's house. "Thanks for a delicious dinner," she said lamely as she gathered her purse and her wrap.
"Wanna make it a delicious evening?" Tad asked in what Scully could only assume was what Tad thought was his "seductive" voice.
"No thanks, Tad. I have an early morning."
He looked disappointed, but brushed it away. "I had a lovely evening," he said and leaned in for a kiss. Scully let it happen, assuming it would be a polite peck, nothing more. Of course, it wasn't, and Tad kissed her with more force than she was expecting. She pulled away, reached back, and slugged him across the chin.
"Asshole," she grumbled as she climbed out of the car - and out of Tad O'Malley's life forever.
Mulder's heart leapt when he heard a knock on the door at 1am. The only people who ever knocked on his door at 1am were Scully, or shadowy informants who never said what they meant. Either one would be a win in his book.
It was Scully. A far bigger win. "Hey, you okay?"
"Can I come in?"
He stepped aside and let her into his home. Their home.
"I just want to apologize for my little... outburst this evening."
"You hardly said a word. Oh, you mean your eye outburst?"
Scully couldn't help but giggle. "Yeah. Moving on from you wasn't easy... but it was easier when we didn't see each other every day."
"Scully, you have to know. I was never interested in Sveta. I only agreed to this after I saw how upset you were when you saw her over here."
"You noticed that?"
"Of course. How could I not?" He paused, clearly working up the courage to continue with a speech he had practiced a million times before. "Scully, we have spent nearly every day together for over 20 years. And much of that time, whether I will admit to it or not, was spent gazing at you. I know your every thought, every feeling. I know you." He took her hands into his, and immediately noticed she winced. He saw the swelling on her knuckles, and his throat tightened with anger. "What did that asshole do to you?"
"Nothing. Nothing, thanks to my right hook." Scully didn't feel any pain; just the soothing warmth of her hands in Mulder's. She felt her resolve melting. She knew if she looked into his eyes her resolve would disappear, leaving nothing but a Bugs Bunny-shaped cloud of dust.
He said nothing. He just held her hands and waited. Waited. Waited. As he knew she would, she finally looked up. Their eyes locked. "Can you tell what I am thinking now?" she asked.
Mulder feigned shock. "Agent Scully! You're so naughty..."
"Hey, that's Doctor Scully to you," she warned playfully.
He leaned in and gave her a kiss. It was slow, delicate, tentative at first, but soon grew with passion and desire. All of which Scully returned - and then some.
This was the kiss she wanted tonight.