She’s a lot smaller than he expected. And young. Jesus, she looks young. He’d gotten her age from her file, of course, but the girl standing before him barely looks old enough to buy herself a drink, with her big, round eyes and her sugar dusting of freckles and that ridiculous overlarge suit. Where’d she get that, anyway, her mother’s closet?
She shakes his hand and he thinks of Doogie Howser. The little doctor who could. She’s not at all what he expected—not the cerebral, seasoned cynic who had the gall to rewrite Einstein and do it with such panache—and he has the sudden, overwhelming urge to intimidate her a little, to ruffle her, to prove his theory that little Doctor Scully isn’t cut out for this.
So he throws his best at her, his slides and his theories and maybe you can explain this, Doctor, and do you believe in extraterrestrials, Doctor, and do you believe I’m the half-cocked tinfoil crackpot that the whole damn bureau says I am, Doctor.
She should be running for the hills, begging Blevins for a reassignment right now, immediately. But she’s not. She rebuts him, parries him, tosses out explanations and seems genuinely intrigued when she doesn’t have one.
She holds her own, in other words. So he decides she can stay. For now. For Oregon. Besides, once they’re done there, if they find what he thinks—what he hopes—they’ll find, he’s sure she’ll be crawling hand over fist out of the basement. Away from him.
He was joking yesterday when he asked if she had a date, but now it seems like she’s actually gone and gotten herself one. Just to spite him? He wouldn’t be surprised. There’s something fiery hidden in there, barely belied by those round cheeks and shoulder pads. He’s seen it. On an air base in Idaho, her with her gun and her don’t-try-me eyes, he saw it.
And really, it doesn’t matter why she’s on the date. She’s a grown woman. She can do as she pleases. He’s not so regressed as to think he owns her, especially during her off time.
But it’s just… They’re on a case. And sure, maybe they’re not exactly welcome on it. Detective Stick-Up-His-Ass made that abundantly clear. But it’s a case nonetheless, one with lives at stake, and she’s—what?—eating fondue with a hedge fund manager? Being felt up in the back of a movie theatre by an insurance salesman? Answering and what do you do, Dana with well, you see, my job is to wrangle a madman who believes in ET?
He sighs, rubs the bridge of his nose under his glasses. That’s not exactly fair. He knows she has a higher regard for him than that. (At least, he thinks she does. She’s still here, and that’s not nothing.) He knows she even respects the work, in her own way.
But there’s a…a thing on the loose in New Jersey, and she’s on a date, and he knows he’s missing something but he can’t fucking focus because she’s on a date, not here, not giving him the sounding board he needs right now, and she’s on a… She’s… She.
The phone rings. A body. A male body. He’s dialing her pager almost before he’s hung up on the ranger, and she calls him back just as fast. She doesn’t sound upset about being interrupted. They’re in Jersey by morning.
She pointed a gun at him. He thinks about it later on the flight home with her curled in on herself next to him, her forehead creased, troubled even in sleep. She pointed a gun at him, and she held it on him, even when he yelled, demanded she put it down. Even when he held his own on her.
He thinks of partners past, tries to imagine any of them pulling their weapons on him to keep him safe. Tries to imagine what he’d have done if they did.
The plane bumps through a pocket of turbulence, and Scully makes a small, unhappy sound. She shifts lower in her seat, head sliding until it connects with his shoulder. Her hair is baby-soft and fine, tickling the curve of his jaw.
She is wholly incongruous, steel and soft cotton. He can still feel her hands tugging at the back of his shirt, digging into the meat of his neck. He looks at them now, twisted together in her lap. Such small hands.
But they held a gun on him. And they didn’t back down.
She dated her instructor. Her older instructor. Her older instructor who looked like that and tried to kill her.
Well—okay. Maybe that last thing wasn’t exactly Willis’s fault, but he’s having a hard time wrapping his head around the whole enchilada, as it were.
Because when he imagines her with a man, it’s never someone like that. Never someone haggard and work-weary, someone more dedicated to a cause than a person. Never someone who chases the darkness so long he forgets about the light.
It’s… Hell. He doesn’t know exactly what it is. A blonde doctor-type, maybe. Somebody young like her who smiles a lot and has a border collie. Somebody who won’t drag her down, too.
She lied to their superior. For him.
Agent Mulder could not have done it because he was with me.
She didn’t even blink.
He tries to focus on the road to Tooms’ Baltimore residence, but all he can see is her face in the darkness last night. I wouldn’t put myself on the line for anyone but you. And now this, not even 24 hours later.
In the passenger’s seat, she crosses and recrosses her ankles. She doesn’t seem particularly bothered for someone who just risked her career for him. For someone who is still risking her career.
He wonders what will ultimately do it. What will cause her to throw up her hands and walk away? Will it be next month? Next year? It frightens him more than it should, he realizes, the idea of her leaving.
He spares a quick glance at her, her Grecian profile, all that copper hair. It frightens him even more, the possibility that she might stay.