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Times Colliding

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Author’s Note: So this is hardcore inspired by an X-Files fanvid that circled around a while ago, credit to @xpsidedown, I believe . Being it as a visual medium it was like literally 90s Mulder’s body with present Scully and 90s Scully’s body with present Mulder (I’m poorly explaining this). I couldn’t think of a way to write that specifically, so instead I’m taking a kind of “Freaky Friday” spin on it where it’s time travelling mixed with mind swapping. The “past” will be set post-FTF. The “future” will be set post-series. Lol, so on that confusing note, here we go!

Then

He hears his alarm go off and, with each irritating ring, his desire to strangle himself grows. He doesn’t need to worry about that though, he’s sure Scully will take care of that herself. It was Saturday. The one day of the week they got to sleep in to an ungodly time and languidly wake up in each other’s arms. Between getting up for work during the week and Scully’s new Sunday morning church visits, Saturday was their day to simply relax. The blaring in his ear was the farthest thing from that.

He rolled on his side and slapped the offending item off without even opening his eyes. He stayed still for a moment and let out a sigh of relief when he didn’t hear any words of frustration or anger come from his wife’s mouth. With that temporary crisis evaded he decided to roll back over and try to fall asleep. Only he was more cognizant now than he had been a moment ago. Now with his semi-awake mind, he realized the bed had far more give than he was used to, that his back didn’t have that kink in it that he usually had to endure when he woke up every morning, and, more importantly, that when his arm reached out to touch Scully, he was met with the cool sheets of the bed instead.

He cracked open his eyes and they widened impossibly large almost immediately. In his eyeline, he saw yellow walls, an old framed jersey, and the old sheets he had on his old waterbed. The sheets he threw out nearly fifteen years ago when he moved into the house he now shared with Scully. He shot up in bed and looked around and realized he was in his apartment from the 90s. Not just a look alike, but the actual thing. With a sinking fear, he looked up and saw the face of thirty-something Mulder staring back at him in the tacky mirror over his bed.

He darted out of his bed and ran to where he knew the bathroom was. Gone were the wrinkles he’d became accustomed to, instead it was the face he only saw in photo albums. This didn’t make any sense. He turned on the sink and cupped his hands under the stream, allowing his hands to fill with cold water before splashing it on his face. He looked up, hopeful his plan worked, but he was met with the same concerned face looking back at him. He wasn’t dreaming. Maybe Scully’d know what to do.

Scully.

Shit, she was probably panicking by now. He ran over to his phone and begrudgingly typed in her number by heart, playing with the cord of the phone as he listened to the ring. Thankfully he didn’t have to wait long. “Scully.”

He sighed in relief and exclaimed, “Scully, what happened to us?”

“Isn’t it a little early for an existential crisis, Mulder?” she teased and her jovial tone almost relaxed him. Almost.

“Scully, where did you wake up this morning?” he asked. Maybe she hadn’t even opened her eyes yet and hadn’t realized. “Have you looked at yourself in the mirror?”

“I woke up in my bed,” she stated in her no-nonsense tone. “And, excuse me?” she added.

“Well, have you?” he repeated.

“Yes, Mulder. I did look at myself this morning. Do you mind telling me why that’s important?”

He let out a loud sound of frustration and had to keep himself from yelling in frustration, “Scully, we were at our house last night! I don’t know about you, but I just woke up at my old apartment, apartment 42, and I look like I’m twenty years younger.”

“Did you hit your head?” she asked, no trace of humor in her voice. A sinking feeling settled in his gut when he realized she wasn’t confused. This Scully woke up this morning with everything in place, she was in the right time period. He was alone.

“No,” he answered definitively before realizing that made more sense than whatever was happening. “Shit, maybe. I don’t know.”

“Mulder, I was on my way to work. I’m maybe five minutes from your apartment. Stay there alright? Drink some water for me and try to calm down.” She was using her professional Scully voice on him. Fuck, he must really sound crazy.

He set the phone down in the cradle and simply did as she said. He went to the tap for water and he almost beside himself when he saw his old alien head mug sitting next to the sink. He shattered that at their house in 2006 when he was too busy eating Scully out to notice there were dishes on the counter he set her on. The mere thought upset him. This wasn’t fair. He was supposed to wake up this morning with the taste of her still lingering on his mouth. He should be going in for another round right now, but instead all he could taste was old toothpaste and longing on his tongue.

He turned over the offending mug, filled it up, and drank it sip by sip. The longer he drew this out, the sooner she would get here, and the less time he would spend pitying himself. He didn’t know if his plan had been effective, or if she had been speeding to get to him. Maybe a combination of both. What he did know was that she was knocking on the door now and he practically threw the mug in the sink to race to get to her.

He swung open the offending door and was speechless when he saw her on the other side. It was Scully. Scully in a way he only remembered. Her auburn hair was dancing over her shoulders and her face looked painfully youthful and innocent. “I came as fast as I could,” she exhaled. Did her voice really use to be that high? He felt like he was watching an old home video but in real life. She was even wearing one of her classic pantsuits. He wanted to cry.

Granted, he should have known better, but he couldn’t help it. His hands came up and grabbed her face, relishing the way she felt so familiar and yet so different at the same time. She looked up at him in shock and her hands came to rest gently on his wrists. He didn’t even notice though. He moved to run his fingers through her hair as he examined her. She hadn’t worn that shade of red lipstick in years. He remembered how upset she was when they discontinued it.

He realized in this moment how much her eyes had stayed the same. A lot about her was the same from this Scully to the one he was so intimately familiar with, but her eyes were still that striking shade of blue that managed to steal all the air out of his lungs. Though, had he been paying more attention, he would have noticed the confusion in their depths.

Consumed by relief brought on by her presence, he removed his hands and threw his arms around her in a tight hug. “Thank you for coming,” he breathed into her hair, relishing the smell of the shampoo she stopped using years ago. Yet again, he wanted to cry. This young girl in his arms had no idea what they would go through in the future.

He didn’t have much time to give that more thought as her body squirmed away from his. He released her immediately and saw her face was bright red and she was avoiding looking at him. “Mulder, what’s gotten into you?”

“I don’t know,” he answered honestly.

“Why are you practically naked?” she asked. She tried to look him in the face, but her eyes were drawn downward before flitting away again. His brows furrowed in confusion and he looked down to see what was bothering her. He was just wearing his boxers, what he always slept in. He wasn’t sure what she found offensive, he didn’t even have morning wood to poke her with.

Realization washes over him like a wave of ice water. “We haven’t had sex have we?” His tone practically dropped an octave as the severity of the situation dawned on him. This was a lot earlier in their relationship than he’d realized. He wished he could take a moment to gather his wits about him because he seemed to constantly be saying or doing the wrong thing right now. Begrudgingly he considered it was because this was the Scully where there were still pretenses. They might be honest about everything, but they were still probably in the phase of their relationship where they hadn’t admitted their feelings yet. Based on the look of pure incredulity on her face, his guess was right.

“Excuse me?” she practically shouted. He realized this wasn’t a conversation he wanted to have in front of all his old neigbors, so he grabbed her arm lightly and tugged her in, locking the door behind him. As soon as he turned back around she was yelling at him again, “Mulder, I don’t know what has gotten into you, but I suggest you start explaining yourself. Now.”

“What year is it?”

“What?”

“Scully, what year is it? Just humor me,” he requested, trying to timeline the situation.

She rolled her eyes and indulged him, “It’s 1998.”

Oh my god . The kiss as the ball dropped, that date on the baseball diamond, when she invited him to her bed that night for the first time, those years on the run. Then his stomach plummeted, William. None of it’s happened yet. Where were they even in their relationship? 1998, that case in Texas, the hallway, was that the last advance their relationship had? Hell, he didn’t know anything.

“What’s in the news right now?” he asked, trying to spark something.

“Mulder,” she started with an exasperated sigh.

“Scully, please.”

She pursed her lips before contemplating for a moment. “Bill Clinton’s going to be impeached soon for the Monica Lewinsky thing.”

“Clinton’s president? Well, I guess there’s an upside to everything,” he mused. The impeachment? December? What were they doing in December of ‘98? Shit, he didn’t know.

“Mulder, you don’t even like Clinton,” she whined out of frustration.

He grabbed her by the shoulders and solemnly said, “I do now. It gets worse. So much worse, Scully. You wouldn’t even believe me.”

She slapped his hands away and backed up. “You’re right, I wouldn’t believe you! You’re not making any sense. I’m seriously considering 911 and reporting a mental breakdown!”

“Come here, sit down and I’ll tell you everything,” he begged, practically dragging her to the couch.

She followed him, but pled, “Fine, but please, can you put something, anything on?” He realized she was still flustered by his nudity and he found it incredibly adorable, despite the situation.

He ran into his room, threw on a pair of short and a shirt he found at the end of his bed, not even caring if they were clean. When he returned, he was glad to see she had taken a seat on his couch, waiting for him to return. He plopped down next to her and laid it on her, “Scully, when I went to bed last night it was 2018.”

“What?” she asked, tilting her head towards him as if she couldn’t have possibly heard him correctly.

Call him paranoid, but in this moment he remembered every single piece of sci-fi literature he’d ever consumed. In every single one there was a recurring plotline; if someone went back in time, it was important not to mess anything up lest possibly ruining the entire timeline. He realized anything he possibly said might affect the future. More importantly, might affect the possibility of them getting together. He decided to tread carefully. Hell, his Scully was still stubborn, but it had dimmed in the years. He remembered the adamance of this Scully. It was possible he could say “Hey, we’re going to get together,” and she refuse from the sole principal that he told her.

He couldn’t risk anything. He had to get back. He had to see Scully. He already missed out on one pregnancy and he’d be damned to let it happen again. Every passing second was a second he should be with her.

He decided to try and stick with the basics, “When I fell asleep last night, it was 2018. I was 56 years old. When I woke up, I apparently woke up as myself, but twenty years ago.”

“You said our house.”

“What?”

“When I called you this morning, you insisted we had fallen asleep at ‘our house’,” she spoke slowly, as if going to fast would stress his fragile psyche.

Shit, he’d probably already said too much. “Um, yeah. I should have kept that to myself.”

“You also declared randomly, ‘We haven’t had sex yet, have we?’,” she added air quotes while mimicking him, making sure to draw out the ‘yet’.

He sighed and ran a hand through his hair, “It was in the moment. I don’t want to say anything that might mess up our timeline.”

“Our timeline?” she repeated with disbelief. She stood up and threw her hands against her sides in resignation, “Listen, I don’t know what’s happening, but I’m going to go to work and tell Skinner you needed to take a personal day. Which I suggest you take and get this out of your system.”

She started walking towards the door and he called out, “Wait,” and started after her, “Scully, I’m telling the truth.”

“I’m sure you think you are, but you’re not making any sense . Which is arguably as important.”

She almost had her hand on the door handle and he decided to lay it on thick. “You have a dimple above your left buttcheek.” She froze in place and turned around to look at him. He took that as a good sign so he continued, “Part of your morning routine involves stretching by the bed for a few minutes because a councilor you liked when you were in Girl Scouts told you it was good for you.”

“How did you know that?” She asked, curiosity lacing every word.

“Because you told me! Not now, but a few years from now,” he explained.

She shook her head in dismissal, “This has to be a prank. My mom must’ve told you.”

She started turning around and he gave her the whammy, “You like being on top during sex because you can regulate the momentum better. You’re very good at it too.” Now she whipped around, and he knew he had to continue quick. “You have a freckle on your left labia lip. You mumble in your sleep, and you moan.” She was walking slowly towards him now with an unreadable expression on her face. “Your first vibrator was a purple rabbit. You got it as a teen and your mom got mad because batteries kept going missing and you never told her.” Now she was practically in front of him. “Do you think your mom told me all of that?”

“How did you know all that? Seriously.”

He sighed and grabbed her arms again, “I told you. Because you told me yourself. Scully, I’m not going to lie. I’m scared. I need to get back to my time. I miss the Scully from my time, she needs me, and I need your help so I can get back to her-er-you.”

She stared at him for a good moment, analyzing him with a serious expression. “Alright, so let’s say I did believe you,” she sighed, irritation from the confusion lacing her voice. “We need to figure out what might have caused this-whatever this is. What is the very last thing you remember doing last night before you went to bed?”

He inadvertently chuckled and he could tell it only frustrated her more. Memories of tangled limbs, sweaty bodies, and multiple climaxes came to mind. He rubbed his hand over the back of his neck and answered honestly, “You.”

Now

He initially thought it was a wet dream; the feeling of a warm body sliding and rubbing against his own only lived in the recesses of his mind after all. It wasn’t all that common for him to have them, so he like to indulge them when they did. With a sleepily content exhale, he focused on what this particular dream was gifting him with. He felt a warm, smaller body wrapped in his arms. They were slightly gyrating their feminine hips against an impressive hard, sliding up and down his shaft at a painfully slow pace. He felt light pants of hot breath come out and, realistically, tickle his neck, the same neck that was being suckled on less than a few seconds later by that same hot mouth. It felt so good that he couldn’t help but buck against the body rubbing him, earning a small chuckle from the dream woman.

Then he felt a small hand play with the bare skin of his waist, their nails raking downward through his patch of pubic hair before grabbing his shaft with a pleasurable intensity. He felt a loud moan escape his throat, so loud that it startled him. “Good morning,” Scully’s voice rasped, so realistically that it did startle him. His eyes shot open and he realized he was awake and this was not a wet dream; he was in a place he didn’t recognize, even though some items here and there were familiar, and there was most definitely a female hand stroking his cock right now.

Wait, that was Scully’s voice.

He rolled away and raised his hands to her shoulders so he could get a better look, just to make sure. He was stunned, to say the least. In his arms was most definitely Scully, he could recognize her from anywhere, but there was something different. Her hair had a slightly oranger tone to it and she looked older? Lines that came out when she smiled at him, or frowned, or laughed now had a more permanent home. Slightly visible even though her face was contorted into a sensual stare he had definitely never seen on the face of the Scully he knew. She was enchanting, almost to the point of intimidation. He groaned as her grip tightened and his confusion did too, this Scully was also doing things he only experienced with his dream Scully.

He decided to stop the guessing game and he stammered, “S-Scully?”

He didn’t know whether it was the questioning tone or the confusion in his eyes, but new Scully withdrew her hand as her brow furrowed. “Are you okay?”

He laughed breathily because he didn’t know what else to do, “Um, don’t get me wrong, I’m having a great time, but I-I’m a little confused.”

She rolled her eyes and the confirmation that this truly was Dana Katherine Scully just started to grow. “Mulder, what’s confusing? It’s Saturday . We don’t have anywhere to go today, and the only thing I want to do for the rest of the day is you,” she purred as she closed the gap and kissed him on the mouth. Her lips felt like velvet and he simply couldn’t believe this was happening. She threw a leg over his abdomen and moved into a straddling position, never letting up her mouth’s relentless conquest. When he felt her bare breasts graze his chest at the same time he felt her wetness hit his groin he gasped and jolted like a volt of electricity shot through his body.

She must’ve been irritated that he wasn’t reciprocating because she leaned upwards and looked at him with concern in her eyes, “Mulder, what’s wrong? You love morning sex.”

His jaw gaped open and he stared at her in shock. Well, the best he could being his eyes kept falling to her bare breasts that she wasn’t even trying to hide from him. If the blanket wasn’t draped in front of where she was sitting on top of him, he swore he would have had a heart attack. He’d seen a glimpse in Antarctica, but he was busier saving her life in that moment. Oh, and Antarctica Scully wasn’t straddling him while making advances on him and telling him that he loved morning sex. He kept telling himself this couldn’t be real, but the throbbing in his groin constantly reminded him his heart was beating and that he was most definitely here.

“Are you real?” he asked. It sounded stupid, even as he said it, but he was still at a loss for words.

At this she slid off of him and sat at his side, grabbing the sides of his face to examine him. “Mulder, you’re starting to worry me” The sensual tone of before was gone and was replaced with unabashed concern.

“You look different,” he explained sitting up, noting that he felt an acute pain in his back. As he sat up, he caught a glimpse of his hands and was struck at their appearance. They looked wrinkled, not obtrusively so, but much more than they had when he went to bed. Before he could put much thought into it, he was struck by her next statement.

“Well, the doctor said it might not be noticeable from day to day, but might strike you on occasion. I didn’t think it’d make you want to stop having sex with me though.” He could hear she sounded almost angry, but nothing she was saying was making any sense to him.

He held up his hand and implored, “First of all, I don’t know what’s going on, but I want to make it clear I always want to have sex with you. Second of all, what’s wrong? Why are you going to the doctor? What would become more noticeable?” She put up her own hand to stop his barrage of questions.

“What do you mean you don’t know what’s going on? Mulder, you’re not making any sense,” she practically yelled.

“Are you sick?” he asked. He felt like he was in a bad acid trip. First their about to have sex and now she’s sick?

“Mulder, did you fall and hit your head or something? Did I actually fuck you senseless? I’m referring to the pregnancy. What else would I possibly be talking about?”

He felt his whole body freeze and he stared at her in awe. “You’re pregnant?” he asked. He sat in shock for a second before adding, “How?”

“That’s it,” she exclaimed, getting up and throwing a closet open. “Get dressed. I’m taking you to the hospital,” she commanded, throwing on a pair of underwear and a bra.Before she could put on anything else, he had sprung out of bed and crouched in front of her, grabbing her arms and was surprised when she didn’t try to pull away.

There it was. A swell. A slight bulge in her lower tummy that he didn’t see a few months ago in the Arctic. He raised his hand and placed it tenderly on her stomach, reveling in the softness and her acceptance. “I can’t believe you’re pregnant,” he whispered, almost to himself.

“Yeah,” she deadpanned, “No one can. Though, I assumed you would being you’re the one that put it there,” she joked without humor, grabbing a sweater and throwing it over her head before shimmying some black stretch pants on.

He stood up immediately and looked at her in complete shock. “What?”

She sighed again and grabbed his head, checking for bumps like she usually did when he was being extra outlandish. He didn’t know what inspired him to say it, but he grabbed her hands and clasped them in his own. “Scully, what year is it?”

“Mulder-,” she started.

“Scully, this is important.”

She regarded him for a moment before answering, “2018.”

Scully wasn’t one for practical jokes. She didn’t tease when a situation was tense like this was. “Where are we?”

Her brows furrowed once more and she squeezed his hands. “Mul-, our house,” she answered, looking almost hurt.

“Did you say, our house? We live together?”

“We’ve lived together intermittently for years. Mulder, this is our house, we’re married, and I’m pregnant with your child,” she explained slowly, trying to gauge if anything she revealed was a shock to him.

It was. Every word.

He was married to Scully? They were going to have a baby? This was everything he ever wanted, but he couldn’t remember a damn thing. He was happy and he was devastated, he didn’t know which made him start to cry. “Hey, hey, hey,” she comforted, grabbing him into a hug. “What’s going on?”

“Scully, I don’t remember anything,” he admitted.

“What do you mean?” she asked.

“When I went to bed it was 1998, Frank Sinatra died, Clinton is president,” he explained.

“I wish,” she chuckled sadly against him.

“No one wishes Clinton was president,” he whined.

“We do now,” she said cryptically.

She eased away from him and ran a hand through his hair and kissed his forehead and then his lips before realizing it might make him uncomfortable and backing away. Apparently that was something they did in 2018, kiss, show intimacy. “We’re married?” he asked, wanting to hear it again.

“We have been for a while,” she reassured.

He simultaneously felt like the luckiest and unluckiest man in the world. He didn’t feel like he was in any pain? How did he get a twenty year amnesia spell in a night? He saw she was staring at him and his heart felt like it was going to burst. Here was pregnant Scully, which as far as he was aware was medically impossible, looking at him like he was the only person in the world. He didn’t mean to sound so needy, though he figured she’d forgive him with the circumstance, and the question tumbled out of his quivering lips regardless. “You love me?”

She laughed, but she looked like the question made her sad too, he even saw her lip quiver in sympathy. “Oh yes, Mulder, so much. I love you with every bit of my heart. You mean the world to me,” she reassured, kissing his knuckles with every sentiment. Tears ran down his cheeks as she mirrored him. He supposed they were both mourning the possible loss of twenty years of development.

He reached out and hugged her tightly, being he felt he could and was elated when her arms wrapped around him. It also made him aware that he was still naked as the day he was born, though his erection was long gone from the stress. She raised her head so that she was resting her chin on his chest. “Hey,” she whispered, getting his attention. “How about you get dressed and I’ll make us breakfast? Then I think we should talk about what the last thing you remember doing was, okay?”

He simply nodded and watched as she left the room, sparing one last sympathetic glance over her shoulder to him. His body missed her warmth and comfort, so he did the only thing he could at that moment. He got dressed and tried to remember everything he possibly could.

So, this is by far probably the weirdest thing I’ve done and I’m curious to see where it goes. I’m also curious if this is something people are interested in? Let me know! Thanks for your time! -Nicole (Twitter/Tumblr: gaycrouton)

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Author’s Notes: Wow! I am so grateful for all the positive responses to this story! I’m really excited about it! That being said, please do not think I’m giving up on Partners with Benefits there’s totally still more to come with that, this story is just coming to me easier. Without further ado, here’s Scully’s point of view.

1998

This wasn’t funny, but she knew he didn’t mean it as a joke. Mulder was being completely and one hundred percent serious, and that’s what scared her. Over the years, many people jokingly asked her if he was having a mental breakdown. When they heard his opinion on what happened to his sister, when he was talking about a theory of his, when he was just being himself, the question would come out under the guise of mocking sympathy for the ‘poor, disturbed man’. She’d send them a cool glare, maybe an irritated and snarky remark, but nothing more.

Until this very moment, she’d never had the thought herself.

She didn’t even know what to say to him right now, and figured the best course of action would arise after listening to him talk. Before he got too into his story, she called Skinner’s office and told the receptionist that she felt ill and had needed Mulder’s help getting to the hospital, and that neither of them would be into work today. She didn’t like it, but it was the truth; people had more sympathy if she was the one in need. They cared more. She hated it, but there was nothing she could do about it. Sometimes she felt like she was the only one in his corner.

Which is why she felt it imperative that they figure this out on their own, or at least try to. If they went to the doctor or somewhere where this would be documented and put in his file, people would just discredit him more than ever before. No, this had to stay between them for as long as possible.

She set her phone down and made her way back to the couch, discarding her heels along the way. His eyes never left her the entire time and she found it a bit disconcerting. “So,” she said, breaking the silence, “Can you tell me what your memories are from the last day?” Before she sat down, she ran her fingers through his hair to look for any signs he hit his head, then she checked his pupils. Normal.

He didn’t seem thrown off by her proximity or touch and started as soon as she was done and was giving him her full attention. “I don’t know how much I can tell you.”

She did her best to keep her face from expressing the frustration she was starting to feel, “What?”

“I don’t want to say something that changes the future. I really need to get back to the Scully of my time, it’s very, very important,” he stated with serious conviction.

“Am I-is she sick again?” She’d just beaten the cancer less than a year ago, she didn’t want to think it’s what she had to look forward to in the future. That is, if what he was saying was true.

“No, no” he reassured with a smile tugging on his lips. “Quite the opposite.”

She waited a moment for him to elaborate on what he meant, but the explanation didn’t come. She sighed and decided to play the theory game. “Okay, so, Mulder from 2018, do you remember one day in the ‘past’ where I randomly told you that I was visited by a you from a different time, or me telling you that you seemed to be possessed by a future you?”

“No,” he answered honestly, not sure where she was going with this, but eager to hear what she had to say.

“So, let’s say we get you in the time you need. I’ll presumably be back with my Mulder and you bet your ass I’ll be telling you-er-him about this, so this already isn’t your ‘timeline’ as you were calling it. The future’s already been altered for me and my timeline’s Mulder so it doesn’t really matter what you say to me beyond that. I’m not the same Scully you know.” It sounded ridiculous coming out of her mouth, and it didn’t even make sense.

His eyes widened and he nodded, taking in her theory, if you could even call it that. “Or what if you are the Scully from my past and I’ve already changed everything, and the Scully I know won’t exist anymore.”

Now it was her eyes widening as his voice clenched up and his lip started quivering. “Hey, hey, hey,” she comforted, scooting closer to him when she saw tears escaping over his cheeks. This was unsettling, Mulder rarely cried in front of her. She rested a hand on his shoulder and was shocked when he fully embraced her. She was used to Mulder touching her, but this was different. Usually he had reservations, he was tentative, but he was touching her like he had thousands of times before. If this was a Mulder from the future, just how close were they exactly. The question made her heartbeat a little faster and she immediately dampened the feeling down. This simply was not the time for her juvenile yearnings.

“This isn’t fair,” he keened as if crying to the gods.

She stroked his hair the best she could from this awkward hugging position as she tried to comfort him. “Well your theory is wrong because if you changed things that badly, the events leading up to you being here wouldn’t have happened so you wouldn’t even be here.”

He eased back at this, pressing his fingers to his eyes and wiping away the wetness, as if embarrassed by his outburst. “You’re right, you’re right,” he admitted, sniffling.

She smiled at him and withdrew her hand, ignoring the way he looked at it longingly. “So, can we stop talking about timelines? I may be a scientist, but science fiction isn’t my genre of choice, this is barely making sense to me, and I’m concerned about more pressing matters, like making sure you’re okay.”

He nodded and leaned back more into the couch, “Yesterday I-.” If he stalled one more time she was going to strangle him. “How detailed do you want me to be?”

“Well the only things you’ve told me, or at least implied, were that we share a house, we have sex and that having sex with me was the last thing you can remember doing,” she deadpanned. Honestly, if the situation wasn’t so weird, she would have really enjoyed hearing those sentiments come out of his mouth. They’d been getting closer the past few months. Even a few weeks ago he’d told her he loved her, but he’d been high on painkillers. Now he’s talking about a nonexistent, detailed sexual history, but he’s claiming to be a time traveller. Would it be possible for him to just express interest in her like a normal person? Of course not.

He let out a self deprecatory laugh and nodded, “Fair enough. Yesterday I woke up in our home with you. It was Friday so we both got up and went to work, I-”

“Do we still work for the X-Files?” she asked. She didn’t even know how much she believed any of this and she felt ridiculous even indulging, but she couldn’t help but be curious. Twenty five years of the X-Files seemed unimaginable.

“No, not really. It’s been disbanded time and time again. We’ve helped out twice in the last decade for brief stints, but-” then his face took on an almost peaceful expression with a nostalgic smile, “This was our last time. I’m sure of it.”

He seemed almost content and it confused her. She thought the X-Files were Mulder’s life mission, she couldn’t imagine what he’d ever give it up for. “So, where do we work?”

“We both teach at the academy, I deal with profiling and you with forensic pathology. Our schedules are pretty similar and we get to see each other a lot.

“Do you like it?” she asked. Teaching at the academy as a full time job seemed like the last thing Mulder would ever want to do, at least the Mulder she knew.

“I do,” he answered honestly.

Then something sparked in the back of her mind. She could only ever imagine him being this accepting of the X-Files being gone if the questions he wanted to know were answered. Does he know what happened to Samantha? Did they find her? The questions burned hot on her tongue, her lips even ghosted the first syllable, but she couldn’t bring herself to ask. This felt like getting a new book, but only reading the first few chapters before reading the last page. You got to know the ending, but you didn’t enjoy the journey as much. This had become her mission as much as Mulder’s, and it felt like cheating to know anything before him. She would go through it with it by his side.

What was she even saying? This could easily just be Mulder in a state of confusion, rambling subconscious desires. Though, he seemed so earnest about all this, and while he seemed like Mulder, he seemed wiser and like he’d seen things she could only imagine. “I’m sorry for interrupting you. Please continue.”

“No, no you’re fine. I can only imagine how strange and confusing this must be for you,” he implored. As he said this, he tucked a piece of hair behind her ear and cradled her face in the palm of his hand, stroking the skin of her cheek. He was staring at her with adoration and she felt her face flame up and she had to look away. These were the touches she dreamed of, but now that they were happening, she was overwhelmed.

Again, in the story of their romance, he was a character after the climax and she was barely past the introduction. She didn’t have any of this development that he claimed to have. Sure, she loved him, but she didn’t know what a relationship with him would be like outside her personal speculation. She wanted to reciprocate, but she didn’t know how. She didn’t know what he liked, she didn’t know what was okay, she didn’t even know what to say, and she didn’t even know what was going on; so she just sat there.

He slowly withdrew his hand and put it in his lap, she looked up at him through her lashes and saw he was still staring at her, but his eyes were sad now.”I’m sorry, I’m making you uncomfortable.”

She hated that she was the reason he looked hurt right now, “No, no, I just- this is a lot.”

He nodded appreciatively, giving her his full, undivided attention. It wasn’t like Mulder-her Mulder- was callous and didn’t pay attention to her, but she could always see there was a flurry of activity was going on behind his eyes. As if when she spoke, he was already trying to formulate a solution to her problem before she got it all out. This Mulder was different, he hung off every word like gospel. She also didn’t know if he had stopped looking at her since she got through the door.

“What was the last case we worked?” he asked, pulling her out of her thoughts.

“Oh, um, technically that freelance one you took with the man with the ringing in his ears,” she said tentatively. She knew how badly that had bothered him, he didn’t talk for the longest time after stepping out of that car. He nodded and then looked like he was lost in thought. “Then, it wasn’t really a case, but you took a side trip to the Bermuda Triangle.”

That seemed to register something with him and his face lit up, “Oh, so I’ve told you I love you already!”

She raised her hand to halt his celebration, “Well you were under the influence of heavy narcotics, so-”

He playfully batted her hand away and exclaimed, “Oh, come on! You know I meant it. At this stage you have to know how much I love you.” Her mouth gaped open in astonishment. Sure, she had an inkling, but she didn’t want it to be just wishful thinking. Then his face returned to that solemn expression and he leaned in a bit, “I guess I never knew when you officially started loving me? You said years, but you may have just been trying to make me feel better since I had said the moment I met you,” he sighed, running his hand over the back of his neck.

Since the moment I met you?

“Is that why you said ‘oh brother’? Because you didn’t reciprocate?” he asked, with trepidation heavy in his voice. “Wait, maybe I shouldn’t be asking,” he sighed, as if he was betraying the trust of future Scully by asking.

“I didn’t want to say anything because you were on drugs. It would have been the same if you had admitted anything to me while drunk. It would be irresponsible to hold them against you in the light of sobriety,” she explained. This wasn’t the time for her to admit why she really went with ‘oh brother’ instead of what she really wanted to say.

He looked like he was about to say something more, but she held up her hand again. “Mulder, it doesn’t matter what I think right now. What matters is that we fix whatever’s happening right now, and in order to do that, we need to figure out exactly what has happened. That starts with you explaining because, not to point fingers, but I know this wasn’t my fault.”

She could tell he was upset that she didn’t reveal her inner feelings to him, but he wasn’t the Mulder she knew. He had the face, he had the body, but the person in front of her may as well have been a stranger. “You’re right. I’m sorry. So we went to work and I don’t remember anything unusual happening. We drove hom together, we ate dinner, you read while I watched tv, then we had sex and fell asleep.”

She didn’t know what she expected him to say. ‘Well around three in the afternoon I started fidgeting with my time machine and, gee, I guess there was a glitch.’ It was just so mundane. She had no idea where to go from there.

“Well,” he started, contemplation in his voice, “I had gone to a non-traditional herbalist for you a few days ago, but that was for something unrelated. I don’t think it would have mattered.”

She didn’t even know what constituted a traditional herbalist, let alone a non-traditional one. “You went to a herbalist? For me?” she asked, disbelief heavy in her voice.

“Future you, yes. You didn’t ask me to, I just was interested and thought it would benefit you. You thought I was ridiculous, but you heard me out regardless,” he explained.

That made more sense, and that honestly was one of the first understandable and relatable things he had said since she got here. “Benefit me how?” she asked. There was something he wasn’t telling her. Why was it so important for him to get back? The Mulder she knew would probably be giddy if he got an opportunity like this. Also, why did he think she needed some sort of non traditional medicine?

His mouth opened to respond before closing it and settling on a noncommittal shrug. She rolled her eyes, “Mulder, you’re not telling me something. Whatever it is, I highly doubt it’s more shocking than anything else you’ve said today.”

He paused for a moment, appearing to find the words he wanted to say. “In 2018 you’re pregnant with our child, and I need to get back to you. I have to be there.”

Lighting would have shocked her less. She didn’t know if he was delirious and revealing subconscious desires, or if it was Mulder from a different future. All she knew was it was a future she would never have. She was infertile, and she could never give Mulder a child. She could never make Mulder as nervous and excited as this one obviously was about their future baby. That was a future she’d never be a part of.

And it hurt like hell.

2018

It was always something with them. She should have figured something like this would happen being they were finally happy for once in their lives. She rummaged around the kitchen, putting bread in the toaster, bacon on a frying pan and eggs in another, acts of domesticity, simple routines that were the one thing keeping her from breaking down completely. She could hear Mulder stumbling around upstairs, his footsteps lacking confidence or purpose and she had to hold herself back from going up and checking on him. It was probably best he had a moment to try and collect his thoughts.

You love me?

His voice had sounded so childlike and sad, filled with disbelief and self doubt. How could he even ask that? Even if he did think it was twenty years ago. It broke her heart. She raised her hand and rubbed the small swell of her stomach as a tear stained her cheek, despite her greatest attempts to keep it at bay. This isn’t fair. This was supposed to be their second chance at normalcy. A second chance to experience being parents without trauma, without loss. Now he was gone, and it was the cruelest deja vu.

This also just didn’t make any sense. She was a doctor, and well aware of the different variations of amnesia a person could get. They didn’t just conveniently lose twenty years for no reason. Mulder didn’t receive a traumatic brain injury, he didn’t have a history of alcoholism, and there was no history of memory problems in his family. As she cooked on the stove, intermittently listening for sounds of distress from Mulder, she called a medical colleague of hers from the hospital. She pretended to by hypothesizing about a journal she was reading, but their conclusions were no different than her own. It didn’t make any medical sense.

After ten minutes, the food was ready, her phone call was done, but Mulder was nowhere to be seen. Concern started brewing in her gut and she set the plates down on the table before making her way towards the stairs. “Mulder?” she called out, her voice echoing off the walls.

She was relieved to hear him immediately call out, “In here.” She heard the voice come from somewhere on the first level with her, and she waited for more of an explanation of where ‘here’ was but she didn’t get one. Then she realized he probably didn’t know what room he was in, so she decided to just follow his voice.

She found him in his study, sitting at his desk. Seeing him sitting there made it almost feel like any other day, but she knew better. He wasn’t moving around the chaos with expertise, instead, he looked like an intruder trifling through Mulder’s things. “Are you okay?” she asked.

“This is my desk, right? My desk from my apartment?” he asked, touching the familiar wood,

“Yeah, you brought it over when we moved,” she explained. He nodded, accepting her answer and continued fidgeting with assortment of items in front of him.

She stood next to him and placed a hand on his shoulder, pleased when his actions became less desperate and he calmed into her touch. “Do you recognize anything?” she prompted.

He quirked his head a little bit as he scanned the desk, “Um, n-no. The way it’s organized makes sense to me, but the objects are just, different.” His phone dinged with a text message and he jumped. She saw him eye the phone with a blank expression and he picked it up with two hands. The screen lit up and his head cocked to the side. He pressed on it as if he were trying to press buttons, but it just jilted the screensaver and nothing more. The only thing visible was ‘One unread text message.’

Mulder offered her his phone and asked, “What’s this? And what’s a text message?”

She stared at him for a second, waiting for him to smile and say ‘gotcha’, but it never came. He just continued holding the phone out to her like a lost child. She took it from him and started to explain, “This is your cell phone, they’re a lot slimmer now.” She held out her palm and said, “give me your hand.” He obliged and she pressed his thumb to the print reader. The phone went to the homescreen, a photo of him kissing her cheek lovingly as she beamed. She didn’t know how much pain she could take at this moment and quickly tapped to get to the texts.

“Did it just scan my thumb?” he asked incredulously.

“Yeah, it took you a few years to get on board with that. You still hate it to be honest,” she chuckled. “Smartphones like this are touch screen now, barely any buttons. A text is like an email, but to your cell phone and usually shorter. You just got one from Dominos Pizza offering you a coupon.”

“How do you make a phone call? It doesn’t have an antenna.” He was still staring at it with undisguised distrust, as if she was holding a stick of dynamite in her hand. She let him look at the screen as she typed in the first few digits of her number, her contact info and picture coming up instantly as she pressed ‘call.’ In a few moments the sound of her phone going off rang in the other room and she hung up her demonstration. He just looked shocked.

“Hey,” she whispered, trying to pull him back to earth. “Let’s go eat breakfast before it gets cold.” She was about to set the phone down but he grabbed her wrist lightly, “Wait, um, could I see that picture of us that was on the phone before we go?”

While she hated this situation, seeing him be so shy and nervous around her was a little cute if she was being honest. “Of course,” she reassured. When Mulder got his phone he only really used it for two things; making phone calls and taking pictures of her and them together. So she went to the camera roll, scrolled for a while until she found this picture of them from last month. She clicked it to enlarge it and then handed the phone to Mulder, who held it with his fingertips.

She stood over his shoulders and watched as he played with the picture, swiping around at the screen until he figured out how to enlarge one section of it. He zoomed in on his lips on her cheek, then moving to her face. “You look so happy,” he murmured.

“I was,” she comforted, running a hand through his hair, ruffling it a bit.

It was so quiet, she almost didn’t hear it. “I’m sorry.”

“Why?”

“I can’t remember,” he lamented.

She bent down and kissed the crown of his head, letting her lips linger for a few moments before pulling back. “It’s not your fault. We’ve been through so much, we can get through anything. You’re alive and you’re with me. For that I’m nothing but grateful.” Making him feel bad wouldn’t help anything. By the way he solemnly nodded, he already was mourning enough for the both of them.

He tried moving the photo back to its original orientation, but he accidentally went to the next one and spend a considerable amount of time looking at that one too. It was a photo of her reading a book on the opposite end of the couch he was on, her feet resting on his lap.

Now that he had a grasp of how to get to another photo, he spent a few minutes going through doing so; her sleeping on his shoulder, her staring at the camera with indulgent amusement, her brushing her teeth in the morning, her with an open mouthed, toothy grin as his hand grabbed her bare breast while he was buried inside of her.

At the last one he gasped and turned his head away, embarrassment painting his face red, “I-I’m sorry,” he stammered, offering the phone to her.

She laughed and took it from him, taking one appreciative glance at it before setting it down on his desk face down. “Mulder,” she cooed, getting his shy attention. He could barely meet her gaze as she tried to reassure him, “ You have nothing to be sorry about. You took that photo. That was us.” He was trying to repress a smile, but the corners of his lips betrayed him. She kissed his temple, happy when he leaned into her lips this time, instead of sitting still as a statue.

She eased back and squeezed his shoulder, “Now come on, I’m starving.”

She turned around and heard him stand up from the seat. She’d almost reached the doorframe when he called out to her again. “Oh, hey Scully?”

“Yeah?”

“Whose kid is this?” She turned around and she learned it was possible for this day to get a lot more painful. Between his fingers he was displaying the photo they’d both shed a thousand tears over. Their beautiful baby boy looking up at the camera. He was holding it and staring at it as if it was the most random thing he could have found. “It was just laying right in the middle of the top desk drawer, right there as if it was extremely important. Hey, are you okay?”

She wiped the offending tears off her cheeks and nodded. “Yeah, yeah, um, he’s a relative. I just, I just think it’s cute you have his photo,” she lied. Before he had a chance to break her heart any more she demanded, “Now come on, I’m not kidding. I’m eating for two here, and the other one is going to throw a fit if I don’t eat in the next minute.”

She turned around without further explanation and started towards the kitchen, trying to calm the quivering of her lip and the tears threatening to spill over. She heard him following behind her, but she was startled when he lightly grabbed her wrist. She didn’t turn around, but she stopped for him. She felt him bend over to get a better look at her face, obviously upset at what he found there. “I’m sorry. I keep making you sad.”

She waved her hand in the air and used the side of her index finger to wipe away the stray tears once and for all. “No, no, don’t be sorry it’s not your fault. This just-this just was the last thing we needed. I’m not the only one this is affecting. I can only imagine how upsetting this must be for you.”

She was glad when they started moving towards the kitchen, she wasn’t kidding about being famished. As they sat in front of their food, she dug in as he continued talking. “I just wish I remembered anything.”

“So, what do you remember?” she asked between bites of egg.

Last week I got back from the Bermuda Triangle, and yesterday had been my first day back off of medical leave. We just filled out a bunch of paperwork, I went home, watched some tv, then I fell asleep. Then I thought I was-” he stopped suddenly, forking eggs in his mouth to avoid talking.

“You thought you were-?” she prompted.

“Um, I thought I was having a really good wet dream, but then I woke up and you were-” he trailed off, making hand gestures in place of words.

“Initiating morning sex with you,” she finished with a teasing lilt.

He chuckled shyly, “Yeah, and I don’t remember a single thing in between. Not like it was fuzzy or anything, its just not there. I fell asleep after a day at work, and I woke up here.”

She paused for a moment, trying to think. She’d never heard of anything like this before. “There’s nothing odd that you remember?”

He shook his head, “No, not at all. I got off my meds awhile ago. I’d just been at my apartment recovering since. What?” He questioned her when he saw a grin cross her face.

“Oh, just the Bermuda thing. That was the first time you said ‘I love you’ to me,” she gushed, fond of the memory.

“May I remind you that all you said was ‘oh brother’,” he teased with a serious tone.

“Mulder, what did you want me to say?” she laughed. “You were on drugs. I’d wanted to hear those words for years, I was so pissed that was when you decided to say them.”

He stopped eating and looked at her like she’d just told him she saw an alien in the front yard and caught it with a butterfly net. “Years?”

She realized this Mulder hadn’t had half the conversations about their love revelations as she had. “Oh god, Mulder. I’d loved you years before that happened. Around that time I was almost overwhelmed with how much I adored you, but it was so hard to tell how you felt about me. I always thought you were just being a flirt and teasing me. I didn’t think I was your type back then, so sometimes it hurt.”

He was shaking his head at her as she spoke and immediately rushed out, “No, no Scully, I meant it. I love you so much. I would do anything for you, you’re the most important person in the world to me.” He was rambling and she grabbed his hand to calm him down. He didn’t need to worry over something she already knew.

“Oh, Mulder. I know you love me. You’ve shown me a thousand times over,” she kissed his knuckles again and rested them along the side of her face.

He tentatively uncurled his fingers so that his palm was cupping her face. He was touching her as if she was a china doll that was going to break under pressure. He stroked her cheekbone with the pad of his thumb, watching her with amazed reverence. It was a touch she’d experienced a thousand times over, but she realized he considered this the first time he’s been allowed such a luxury. Instead of going for another bite of food, she let him experience their intimacy. He brushed a tendril of hair behind her ear before bringing his thumb back to her cheek.

Then he went a little lower and let his thumb graze over her lips. He jumped visibly in his seat when she puckered her lips to kiss the digit on her mouth. He ran it back and forth, mesmerized as her lips tugged against him. After a moment he withdrew, almost embarrassed, but looked at his thumb as if it turned to gold.

“You don’t have to be shy, Mulder,” she almost whispered.

He smiled sweetly and they finished up eating soon thereafter. “Hey, if you just want to put on your shoes, I’ll be ready in a minute.”

“Where are we going?”

“I want to go to the hospital and get a CT Scan, maybe even an MRI.” I don’t know what this is, but I want to try all that I can,” she explained. He just nodded and turned to get his shoes. “The closet’s the other way,” she called out, watching him spin on his heel to go the opposite direction.

She hoped the CT scan would give some sort of answers. She didn’t know which was harder; having Mulder forget twenty years of their relationship, or having to relive the bad times to tell him. Both were horrible, but at least she knew Mulder still loved her deeply, even if he was being a school boy about it, but she knew if this didn’t get better that there were a lot worse conversations they would have to have.

We had a son whom I gave up, only to meet him years later. He’s presumed dead contrary to the vivid images in my head that scream he’s alive. We never found your sister. The X-Files, while a source of intrigue and mystery, never became well-respected and are now officially closed. Your mother killed herself. My mother is dead. Your biological father is the man you hate the most, the same man who wants to pretend he’s William’s father, despite evidence of the contrary. The three closest friends you’ve ever had died and you couldn’t even attend the funeral. There was a period of our relationship where you were so depressed, and I was so miserable, that leaving was all I could do. You were abducted and dead for the darkest period of my life. And that’s just the general overview.

God, she wanted something, anything to happen so she could get her Mulder back. She felt a slight stir in her abdomen and her hand stroked the bump idly. She wasn’t the only one that needed him.

Wow, thank you for reading! Sorry it’s going at a slightly slow pace, they just have a lot of feelings lol. Let me know how you feel! Thank you for your time! -Nicole (Twitter/Tumblr: gaycrouton)

Chapter Text

Author’s Notes: Hello, Hello! Sorry for the massive delay, if you read PWB or follow me on Twitter you already know, but for those that don’t, I was gone because my Grandma died and I had to go home for a while. Thank you to everyone who wished me well, by the way. Anyway, I am back and ready to continue the story I love so much.

Past

Mulder knew he shouldn’t have brought it up. This was just the biggest catch twenty-two he’d even been in, and he didn’t know what to do. The only way Scully could start to understand and be able to help was if he was totally and completely honest with her, but when he was, everything that came out of his mouth made her either think he was crazy or just gave her further reason to doubt him.

He had no doubts she wouldn’t abandon him though, Scully was nothing if not transcendentally loyal, but still, he should have left out the bit about the pregnancy. This Scully hadn’t gone through everything with William and she hadn’t endured the grueling in vitro fertilization attempts they’d tried all those years ago. The knowledge she was infertile was fresh for her at this time, the wounds hadn’t had time to scar over, and he felt like an asshole for practically rubbing it in her face.

She’d been extremely indulgent with him up until that point. She offered theories, she heard him out, they even bantered about the logistics of parallel universes and time travel, but as soon as the information about the pregnancy left his mouth, she closed up. He saw the hurt pass over her face, but as quickly as it had came, she was back to being strictly professional.

“I’m sorry, I-” he had started to say, but was cut off by her abruptly standing. She cleared her throat of any emotions she didn’t want to feel and motioned for him to go to his room.

“Go get ready. I’m going to take you to the hospital.” He started to protest but she held out her hand to silence him. “I know you insist you didn’t hit your head, but as of right now, we have absolutely no answers as to what this is. I just want to go get some tests done so we can see if anything abnormal shows up.”

She was right, as always. It would be best to get anything medical ruled out before they started going off on elaborate theories. He just hoped some sort of answer would emerge soon. He got dressed quickly and followed her out to her car. In his rush, he immediately pulled on the handle, only to get a frustrated, “Hold on Mulder, I haven’t even unlocked the door yet.” Manual locks. Wow, he really hadn’t missed that.

It was odd, for years he’d consumed time travel fanlore. Through movies, television, literature, and, hell, even fireside stories, the sci-fi topic had always been a popular narrative. Never did those stories mention how mind numbingly torturous it would be regressing from one’s own modern day conveniences. As wary as he was to trust it, he really missed twenty-first century technology right now. Not only that, but no one mentioned how absolutely isolating and lonely it would be.

He missed his Scully so much it physically ached.

This Scully was trying her best though, and he more than appreciated it. They spent a few hours at the hospital, but it didn’t go how either of them had hoped. Well, he wasn’t quite sure what he was even hoping for anymore. Everything had to be done in absolute secret, so Scully had to run every single test herself, and more than a few hours later, she was exhausted from all the fruitless efforts. She poked, she prodded, she scanned, she analyzed, and she sighed in frustration as all the tests came back fine. “This was the first time I’ve ever hoped to find something abnormal in your test results.”

Those were practically the first words she’d spoken to him since they got to the hospital, barring the occasional “stick out your arm,” “lay down,” or “sit up.” It was hard to read her right now. She just went through all the motions mechanically, as if she didn’t want to emotionally invest in this until she knew what was going on. He didn’t blame her, that was her favorite way of defending herself, but it only just made him feel more alone.

He realized she was waiting for some sort of response, and all he could muster up was a lengthy exhalation of breath. “Nothing was abnormal? Not even slightly?”

She let her lab coat slip off her shoulder as she shook her head. “Nothing. You’re in perfect health.” He couldn’t even be offended at how disappointed she sounded. He was too. She draped her coat over an office chair and focused her attention on him. He didn’t know what to do. It’d be one thing if he just felt like he felt like he knew some preminatory fact, if that were the case he’d simply blame it on deja vu, but he felt every years worth of memories. He could remember world series scores for games that hadn’t happened yet, he remembered intimate dates with the woman who hadn’t even so much as kissed him at this point in time, everything was vivid and taunting.

“W-what else can we do?”

She let out a humorless chuckle before putting on her jacket. “I don’t know what to tell you, Mulder.” Her words, though honest, struck a chord of hopelessness in him and he just sank into the chair behind him. Scully must’ve realized her words were a little too blunt and she sank down in front of him, resting her hands on his knees to get his attention. “Hey. I didn’t say we were giving up. It’s just been a long day. What do you say we go grab dinner and contemplate our next plan of action. Okay?”

He nodded like a child and followed her lead. They tiredly trudged down to the car and, after he tried opening the door prematurely once more, they were on the road in no time. It felt like all D.C was mourning with him. The sun had set while they were in the hospital, and it must’ve rained too. The black pavement of the streets now reflected the warm light of the streetlamps as Scully drove by. The normally busy streets were now relatively vacant and it just made everything a little more eerie. The only sound was the crackle of the radio playing the contemporary hits.

He smiled to himself when he recognized Depeche Mode’s Enjoy the Silence. Scully and him had thrown such a hit last week when they heard this song on the classic rock station. “If this is a classic, I’m ancient!”

“Something funny?” she asked from beside him.

He looked over and noticed she’d been staring at him, but upon meeting his gaze, immediately darted her eyes back to the road. “Oh, nothing,” he offered lamely. She didn’t press him any further as they turned down a darkened road. He was too busy noticing how dated everything around him was to actually pay attention to where she was going. “Uh, Scully. Where are we going?” The alleyway was familiar, but he couldn’t put his finger on it.

She swerved off to the side and turned off the car. “Well, I figured if I can’t help, maybe they can.” She said this nonchalantly as she got out of the car, as if this was clearly the next step. He didn’t want to get his hopes up, but he couldn’t help the sharp twinge of excitement that shot through his body at the word they.

He couldn’t help the shaking of his hands as he unbuckled his seatbelt. It took three tries to do it successfully. By the time Scully had knocked on the door, he was practically running to get to her side. “Mulder, what the hell’s wrong with yo-”

Before she could fully voice her concern, the voice of an old friend rang out. “Well, well, well. If it isn’t Agent Mulder and the scrumptious Agent Scully.” Mulder felt tears prick at the corner of his eyes, and he was grateful Scully had turned to look at the camera in the corner of the door.

“Ha-ha. Let us in Frohike,” she deadpanned.

“What’s the passwo-”

“Frohike,” she warned with a growl. As soon as the name left her mouth, the door locks started sliding open. There were more than a few of them, so it took a moment, and in that time Scully looked over at him again.

He felt like he was going to throw up. This couldn’t be real. There was no way they would really be on the other side of the door. “Hey, are you okay?” Scully asked in a whisper.

He barely paid the question any attention though because as soon as the door opened, he was closing the gap between him and Frohike. He was just as Mulder remembered him; short, warm, slightly sweaty, wrinkled, and bathed in Old Spice. Mulder couldn’t even smell that cologne anymore without feeling a twinge of sad nostalgia. “ The ladies love it, Mulder. Maybe if you tried it Scully would become more than your partner.”

“Woah there cowboy. If anyone’s going to greet me like that, I’d prefer it to be Scully.” Contradicting his words, Frohike wrapped his arms around Mulder and returned the hug, rubbing his hands up and down Mulder’s back.

“You okay, Mulder? Ya look like you’ve seen a ghost.” Mulder looked up and was met with Langley pivoting on a swivel chair, reclining in his classic, faded Ramones shirt on. Mulder had to turn the radio everytime the Ramones came on to avoid being overwhelmed by memories. “And the Ramones are here, and they don't fight. And every night they get on stage and they play ‘California Sun,’ and I circle the mosh pit like they do on the west coast.”

“Mulder’s going through something right now, and he needs your advice,” Scully’s voice rang out behind them. He could hear her starting to re-bolt all the locks since Frohike was preoccupied.

“Are you in danger? Are you hurt?” Beyers concerned voice called out. Mulder released his embrace and saw his suit wearing friend evaluating him from the otherside of the room. They were here. They were all really here. Alive. God, he missed them.

“Oh, uh, well. I don’t really know.”

“What do you mean?” Langley asked, motioning to an open seat that he took readily, Scully sitting next to him a moment later.

“Can you all promise not to dismiss me. What I’m about to tell you may sound crazy, but I’m serious,” he lamented.

“Of course, Mulder. That’s our favorite thing about you,” Byers comforted, the other two nodding in agreement.

He just decided to lay it out bluntly. “When I went to bed last night it was 2018. When I woke up this morning it was 1998 and I have no idea how it happened or how to reverse it."

Without missing a beat, Frohike was pulling up a file on his computer, “That actually sounds similar to this story I heard from a confidant in Wyoming-.” Mulder couldn’t help but smile at all three of them snapping into action to figure out an answer. They all were quick to offer every solution that sounded plausible, from time travel to parallel universes to mind swapping to multiple personalities. It made total sense why Scully would bring him here, they were great for thinking even father outside the box than him.

Speaking of Scully, she was being unusually silent. He glanced to the side and noticed she had been unabashedly staring at him. Her brows were furrowed and her lips pursed in a straight line. She was looking at him with concerned, analytical fascination. Before he could give it more thought, Frohike asked him a question and pulled his attention back. “So what were you doing the day of?”

Though she was deep in thought, she was still paying attention because as soon as the question left Frohike’s lips, she squeezed his arm with a deathgrip. A deathgrip that spoke the words “If you say you were inside me, my fist will be inside your throat,” quite clearly.

“Um, I woke up at home, went to work, came home, ate dinner, watched tv, and went to bed,” he explained as Scully’s deathgrip lessened with his omissions.

“Had you done anything out of the ordinary recently?” Langley asked.

“Well, the other day I went to a non-traditional herbalist,” he shrugged. It didn’t seem worth mentioning, but it was truly the only thing he could think of.

“I didn’t take you as the voodoo medicine type, Mulder,” Byers chimed in.

“Well, it wasn’t really for healing or anything. I just bought a few medicinal gummies, not that kind Langley,” he reprimanded at the blonde’s suggestive eyebrow waggle. “They apparently just had health benefits and a good luck charm placed on them.”

“A good luck charm? Since when do you believe in stuff like that?” Frohike asked.

He started to feel uncomfortable under all the scrutiny, regardless of how well-intended it was. He also felt uncomfortable since he knew Scully was aware that he’d gone to the herbalist in regards to her pregnancy. It was ridiculous, but he’d been worried her whole pregnancy that something might go wrong. She sought comfort in the church, but even if he tried, the words of hope and praise felt like hollow dreams in his mouth. It was easier for him to place faith in someone else’s convictions. “Um, well, I’m not religious, but it sounded convincing and I’m not one to easily scoff at an attempt for good fortune.”

“Did you take these gummies?”

“Um, well. I actually got them for Scully. I forgot about them until yesterday, but when I showed them to her she seemed skeptical-”

“Scully? Skeptical? I don’t believe that,” Frohike deadpanned, winking at Scully when she playfully glared at him.

“I took one to show her they were harmless, but I had to check on dinner before I saw if she took hers,” he shrugged. “They were just vitamins, they could have been repackaged one a day women’s for all I know.”

“You had to check on dinner? What do you guys live together in the future?” Byers asked.

“Wait, they don’t already?” Langley piqued up.

“And why are you worried about her vitamin intake?” Frohike added in confusion.

“I wouldn’t have taken it,” Scully’s voice dominated the rest. They all turned to look at her and she just continued to stare in conviction. “I know myself. I don’t think I would have taken anything like that.”

He was about to mention the fact he had seen her consume something from a herbalist before, that tea not too long after their first time, but he realized the implication of her words. I don’t think I would have taken anything like that if I was pregnant.

She was right, that’d been Scully’s initial question when he presented them to her. Will this be okay for the baby?

“Well, that would make sense. If this is what caused the change, that would explain why it only happened to you,” Langley pondered.

“What was the name of this herbalist, Mulder?”

“Uh, the shop was on M Street? Ran by a woman named, uh, Barbara something,” he recollected.

Frohike typed rapidly on his computer for a few moments before exclaiming, “I don’t see anything, but it probably hasn’t been built yet.”

“So what should we do? Wait until that business venture goes through?”

Frohike ran his hand over the few hairs on the top of his head and turned to Mulder, “It’s getting late. Why don’t you let us look into this Barbara woman a bit more. We’ll call you with our findings, okay?”

“That’d be great, thank you,” Scully smiled, standing up from her chair.

Mulder stood up along side her, but instead of following her to the door, he went around and hugged each of the gunmen again.

“Mulder, what’s with all the hugging? You’re acting like you didn’t just see us the other week after your bermuda stunt?” Frohike wheezed through Mulder’s crushing hug.

“What can I say, I just like seeing my favorite three stooges,” Mulder joked, playing off the sentimentality he felt.

Even though they were pretending to be put off, he could tell each of the men appreciated the affection they so rarely received. “Yeah, yeah, whatever, but I’m serious. If the next person to hug me isn’t my favorite redhead, I’m not gonna be pleased.”

“Goodnight, you three,” Scully’s voice sternly sang from the doorway.

He followed her out to the car, sparing one last look to the gunmen before sitting in the car. When he looked at Scully to thank her for taking him there, he saw that same look of pensive contemplation masking her face. “Are you okay, Scully?” he asked as they settled in the car.

She remained silent for a while, buckling herself in, turning on the car, and staring at nothing for a moment before answering. “They’re dead. Aren’t they?”

Her question took him off guard and she looked over at him in an attempt to read his face for a confirmation. She took his surprise as confusion and continued to elaborate. “In your time, that is. For a while too, I’d guess.”

This was the first time since this morning she’d said anything even remotely acknowledging the idea he was from a different time. “How did you know?”

She shrugged, as if to shake off the tragic implications of her words, “I’ve never seen you like that.” Yet again, he waited for her to explain a bit more, but she didn’t offer anything up. Instead, she pulled away from their little alleyway and navigated to the main streets.

“Like what?” he prompted.

“You’ve always been fond of them, but I’ve never seen you so insistent about consulting them. You honestly looked nervous when we were on our way to the door. I thought you were going to cry.” She pulled up to a red light, but she still didn’t turn her attention to him, only sparing an occasional glance out of the corner of her eye. “Then the way you paid attention to them. It didn’t even matter what outlandish theory they were spouting, you hung off every word like it was gold.”

The car remained silent as he digested her words. She was right. It scared him how well she could read him while she was currently an enigma to him. But she was right, seeing them meant more to him than he thought possible. It was a constant source of guilt in his life that they died and were buried while he was in hiding. They meant the world to him, and he wasn’t there for them. That seemed to be a theme in his life.

He realized he hadn’t answered her yet, and he decided there was no point in hiding anything from her. Not right now. “Yes. They all died in 2002.”

She was silent and he thought she was just processing the information until the car pulled off to the side of the road. He heard the sob at the same time he saw her hands reach up to cover her face. His heart dropped and he was immediately moving to comfort her. It was awkward since the middle console of the car dug into his side, but he reached over and placed one arm around her shoulders as the other tried to pry her hands away. He could feel her trembling. “Scully, I’m sorry. I keep telling you things that upset you.”

She let one hand fall, but the other went down to clutch her chest, as if she was trying to keep her heart intact. “2002? Mulder, that’s only four years away. I thought they would have gone at scattered times, from old age, illness, or maybe one by tragedy.” Her voice was able to remain strong through that, but her next words made her voice break as her bottom lip quivered. “I didn’t think they’d all go at once, so soon. They mean so much to me, and I’ve never told them.”

He pulled her closer to him and she grabbed his hand as tears streamed down her face. Part of him was relieved that her reaction proved she believed him. At least, she had to a little bit. He might have blamed it on the stress of the day if it wasn’t for the fact she had a similar response when she had to tell him herself all those years ago.

They’d been on the run for a month when the realization struck him. The first month had been so stressful that he’d hardly had time to think of anything aside from ‘Are we being watched?’ or ‘Are we safe?’ Then it struck him one night when they were winding down and getting ready for bed, “I wish I could call the gunmen and tell them what happened. Do you think Skinner, Doggett, or Reyes would have reached out and filled them in?”

Her back had been facing him, but he was still able to pick up on the way she completely froze. She slowly turned around and he saw a look of pure grief on her face. “I didn’t know how to tell you,” she whispered, as to keep her voice from breaking.

“Tell me what?” he asked, scooting towards the edge of the bed so he could reach out to her.

She moved towards him, but seemed reluctant to touch him. “I’m so sorry,” she whispered, her lip quivering as a tear rolled down her cheek. His heart plummeted as he registered the implications of her demeanor.

Frohike, Langley, Byers. They were his only friends.

“What happened?” he asked, not caring that his own voice was starting to tremble as his throat tightened. It felt like he was swallowing a golf ball.

“I barely know myself. They were on a case themselves and they made a sacrifice. They saved so many people. They were heroes, just like they were in life. ” As soon as her explanation was done, a sob escaped her throat. He pulled her to him and wrapped his arms around her waist as she ran her hands through his hair.

“They’re dead?” It was obvious, but he needed to hear it. He needed to make it real.

“Yes,” she choked out. “Skinner made sure they were respected and they’re buried at Arlington.”

“Arlington National Cemetery?” he asked in disbelief. She nodded and he couldn’t hold it anymore, he started sobbing into her abdomen as she cradled his head. Arlington. The fact Skinner went through that for them, the fact he gave them the dignity and respect that they never got in life meant the world to him. He wished he could call Skinner right now and thank him.

He wished he could call them and hear from them one last time. He couldn’t even remember the last time he saw them? What did he say? Did he mention how much he appreciated their work, thank them for how many times they’ve saved his ass, or did he make a rude joke at their expense?

As if she could hear him spiraling, she got down on her knees in front of him and grabbed his arms to get his attention. Her eyes and the tip of her nose were red. There were tear tracks running down her cheeks and her lips looked like they were being dragged downwards with invisible strings. “Mulder, they did so much for us while you were gone. For me.” A choked sob escaped his lips at her words, and she wiped some tears away, but didn’t stop. “They loved William so much, they were fantastic with him.”

Her face started falling and she cried, “Mulder, I loved them so much.”

He pulled her up so they were both sitting on the bed and they just held each other and cried. “Me too, Scully, me too.”

He’d always been touched and moved at how deeply she cared for them. He was even surprised that at this stage in her relationship with them that she felt this way. He didn’t know if it was the stress of the day combined with this information, or if she loved them so early on, but it meant the world to him.

He ran his hand up and down her arm as she wiped at her face, sniffling while trying to compose herself. “How?” her voice came out weakly.

“They were heroes,” he answered honestly, using her own words.

She eased herself up into a sitting position, out of his arms, and put her face in her hands. He leaned upright, but kept one hand tracing circles on her back. “I’m sorry,” he said for probably the hundredth time today.

With a final sniffle, she wiped her hands over her face and tried to compose herself for good. “Stop saying that, Mulder. You can’t help this and I keep asking the questions.”

She started the car up and he put his hand back in his lap. “Do you want me to stop answering?”

“Well, I don’t even know how much I even believe this is real.”

She couldn’t play the despondent skeptic card forever, “Well you’ve been having strong reactions for someone who claims not to believe.”

She pulled up to a red light and let out a sigh of admittance. “Why us? Why is it always us?”

He knew the question wasn’t really directed at him, and for that he was glad, because he truly didn’t have an answer. All he could think of was that the fates really had it out against them and any possibility of their happiness. “I wish I knew.”

“So, will we go to work tomorrow? I don’t know what to really do in this situation?” she asked as she turned down the road.

“I guess it’s all we can do. I’m just hoping we can go home and I’ll wake up tomorrow in the right place,” he sighed, rubbing his eyes in sudden exhaustion.

“Home?” she repeated.

Hearing her questioning tone made his heart drop again. They finally were together again. The past few months of reunion had been absolute bliss. Being separated from her for those years hurt more than anything he could imagine. He missed her so much, he felt like he was missing a part of his soul. The thought of not being able to stay with her after finally getting back to her for good made his heart race. He especially didn’t want to be away when he didn’t even know what was going on in his life right now.

It was bold, but he felt no shame around her. “Scully, could I please sleep on your couch?”

“You want to sleep on my couch?” It was hard to read her tone. She seemed confused more than anything.

“Scully, what I look forward to most in my life is laying next to you every night. Having you in my arms. I know that would be too much, and I would never ask anything of you that would make you uncomfortable. You probably don’t even love me right now, but I really would appreciate being near you tonight. Please.”

She’d reached another red light and she turned to him in touched surprise, “Y-yeah, um, okay. Do you need me to stop by your place?”

He was honestly surprised how quickly she conceded, but he wasn’t going to question it. “No, that’s okay. I’m exhausted.”

“Good, me too,” she agreed.

Within ten minutes of comfortable silence, they were at her place. He couldn’t even remember the last time he’d seen this apartment. God, so much had happened here, so many developments both good and bad. Her bedroom would always remind him of so many intimate nights, including the night he met and held William for, practically, the first and only time. He wasn’t going to lie, he was excited to be there again.

He followed her up the stairs and down the hallway to her apartment, taking in the scenery with silent admiration. “Sorry, I didn’t clean because I wasn’t expecting company,” she apologized sheepishly.

“Don’t apologize. I’m just grateful you’re allowing me to be here,” he whispered, running a hand through her hair as she unlocked the door.

She didn’t say anything in response. She just unlocked the door and walked into her apartment, stepping away from his hand like it hadn't even been there. He walked in behind her, shutting and locking the door before kicking off his shoes and throwing his coat over the back of a chair.

“Um, so, make yourself at home. I’m probably just going to get ready and pass out,” she elaborated awkwardly. She seemed to be accepting that he was telling the truth and, with that, she accepted that he definitely knew the odds and ends of her apartment and she didn’t need to waste time explaining.

“I know this must be a little uncomfortable for you. I can’t tell you how much I’ve appreciated all you’ve done for me today. All you always do for me.”

She smiled, but quickly hid it back and averted her eyes. “Um, no problem. Goodnight, Mulder,” she offered before disappearing down the hall.

“Goodnight,” he called out. He let out a breath and unbuttoned his shirt before collapsing on her couch. It felt a lot better than he remembered it. Probably because they hadn’t broken those springs trying that ridiculous position yet.

Woo, I’m so glad to finally update! I know usually I do both parts in the same chapter, but this was pretty long and I figured if I broke it up, I could get this to you sooner. I hope you liked it! Let me know <3 -Nicole (Twitter/Tubmlr: gaycrouton)

Chapter Text

Author’s Notes: Welcome, welcome! Here is the other part of the last chapter - Past Mulder in Future Mulder’s body POV. Lol it’s so odd referring to the characters in this story, I don’t even know what the most logical method would be and I wrote the damn thing. Regardless, here we go! Also, I know it was shown that Mulder has an android...but I don’t. So let’s pretend he got a new phone so I can reference it better, okay? Lol.

Future

Four consultations, an MRI, a CT Scan, a physical examination, blood tests, a two hour long session with a psychologist, and seven hours later, they had no answers. None. Absolutely everything came back totally normal. In fact, he was even surprised that his future self had been in such good health, especially with the toll his body had taken over the years, just the ones he remembered at that.

“Have you ever seen anything like this before?” Scully sighed in frustration to the last doctor.

“I haven’t, this is an anomaly. I can tell from the patent’s frustration that this isn’t being feigned, but there is no medical issue I, or anyone for that matter, have been able to detect,” the man explained.

The patient. That’s what he’d been referred to all day. He felt like an animal in a zoo, everyone was interested in the fascinating mystery diagnosis, but yet no one was providing any advice. Most of the time they didn’t even talk to him, they just talked to Scully as if she were his parent. To be honest, he felt like a child. He just sat on the exam tables, dressed in nothing but a thin hospital gown, and watched her command the room. “Well, what should we do?” he heard her ask.

“What I would suggest is keep living how you would. By pretending like everything is normal, something might spark his memory-”

“He doesn’t know what normal is! That’s the problem,” she yelled. She’d been so strong all day, listening to the doctors tell her nothing for hours on end. He was surprised it took this long for the stress to catch up to her. He knew she didn’t blame him, but he felt bad. He knew that she knew he’d remember if he could, but he felt like he was letting her down and it hurt. “I’m sorry, I’m sorry,” she immediately sighed after her outburst.

He stood up awkwardly and reached out to stroke her back in an attempt at comfort. She looked up at him and offered an appreciative smile that didn’t really light up her eyes. She leaned into his touch and turned her attention back to the doctor. “So normal routine might bring back his memory? Should I answer his questions honestly, or wait for him to remember himself?”

“Since we aren’t sure if his memory will ever come back,” he could feel Scully’s whole body tense at that, “I would recommend answering anything he might be curious about, but avoid overwhelming him. You never know what will spark his memory, so anything could help.”

Scully just nodded and looked like she was a thousand miles away, so he finally spoke up, “Thank you, we appreciate all you’ve done for us today.”

“Anything to help, your wife is a legend here. I’m sorry to hear this happened.” he explained. He gathered his charts and moved towards the door, only stopping to say, “I would recommend you come for weekly check ups, just to make sure we don’t miss any new developments.”

Mulder nodded in agreeance and watched the man leave, leaving him alone with Scully for the first time since they got here. “I’m sorry,” he lamented.

She turned to him with that look of infinite understanding that hadn’t faded over time. “Mulder, don’t apologize. I’m the sorry one. You didn’t ask for this to happen and I’m throwing fits and making you feel guilty for something out of your control.”

“I don’t want you to be sorry either. It’s more than understandable why this is upsetting, especially with the circumstances,” he soothed, motioning to the belly she was gently resting her hand on.

Her bottom lip quivered and her face crumpled. “This isn’t fair,” she whispered in a choked sob. He moved his arms so he could grab her in a hug and was happy when she reciprocated, clinging onto his back and pressing her face into his chest.

It wasn’t, and there was nothing either of them could do about it. He felt powerless and he did the only thing he could do; he held her tighter and tried to comfort her. Her crying was quiet, but he could feel the dampening of his shirt regardless. It was odd being able to touch her like this without hesitance and have her voluntarily snuggle against him. He held her like that for a while until she disentangled herself and wiped away the remaining tears. “I’m sorry. The extra hormones really aren’t helping me right now,” she laughed in self-deprecation. “You should get your clothes on. Let’s go home, okay? I can make us some dinner.”

“Okay,” he smiled. Home. He liked the sound of that. He went over and gathered his clothes from the floor when he was reminded of something. “Hey, why did that guy say you’re a legend here?” he asked as he slid his pants up his legs underneath the gown.

“Oh, I worked here for a while back in the day, after the X-Files closed.” He had just whipped off his gown when she said this and he knew he wasn’t hiding his expression of shock very well. “Oh, um.” She paused for a moment apparently trying to think of how to discuss this with him. This was one of the first subjects she had to give him a history lesson on. He slipped on his shirt and watched as she continued her pondering, then he put on his shoes and continued to watch her struggle.

Okay, he knew a lot had to have happened in twenty years, but he didn’t think it would be this hard. “So, um. Around late 2000 to 2002, a lot happened and you were no longer on the X-Files really at that time. Then a bit after that, the X-Files closed completely. After that you had to stay off the grid and I started working at this hospital. In 2008, we had a stint with the X-Files again for one case, after that I continued working at the hospital, you did your thing, then in 2016 the X-Files reopened and we dabbled, and just this year we worked some more but they closed for good. Now we just spend time teaching at the academy because it’s easy, gives us something to do, and we can spend time together,” she rambled.

He was shocked. He knew he shouldn’t really be, he understood why things would have changed, but he honestly had always imagined himself investigating those cases for decades. He couldn’t imagine ever been satisfied enough to leave unless-

“Did we find out what happened to Samantha?” He could practically hear his heart beating in his ears. He already assumed the answer may not be what he wanted to hear when he saw Scully’s eyes widen at his question.

She sighed and put her head in her hands and in that moment he realized this was probably the last thing she wanted to do after spending a day of stress. He didn’t realize the complexity of the questions he was asking and it wasn’t fair to her. “Mulder, I was just given explicit instructions not to overwhelm you and you’re asking something like that?” She didn’t want him to get upset, so she took a few steps closer and placed a hand on the side of his cheek, rubbing the skin softly. In a quieter voice, she continued, “I promise I’ll tell you, but it took us years to find out and it feels dishonoring to us and her to tell you in the middle of a hospital room after a stressful day. I’ll tell you, but not here. Not now. Okay?”

He nodded and grasped his hands together in front of him nervously. He instinctively wanted to reciprocate her touch, but he just wasn’t sure what was natural. “I understand. I’m sorry for asking, you’re right. This isn’t the time or place.

She looked relieved and gave him a tired smile. “Thank you.” Then with a more serious tone, added, “But don’t be sorry, you have every right to ask and want to know. It’s your life. We’ll just have to work out the more less stressful method of catching you up on twenty years.”

Twenty years. It still sounded crazy. No, it was crazy. She let him go so he could slip on his shirt. “Are you ready to go?”

He nodded and followed her out to the car. The same car he had spent the entire ride here fawning over. While there was a lot he was missing in his mind about his personal life, he still knew himself. The world, however, had done a complete three sixty and he was still spinning from it. She could press a button and all the doors unlocked. The damn vehicle wouldn’t even let you try to lock your keys in the car, it would incessantly beep at you if you did. He got hot on the way to the hospital and apparently the window rollers were gone, now it too was just a button.

Not only that, but his cell phone, as she insisted it was, seemed like a joke. The TV he saw in his house and in store windows didn’t even have a box on the back. The radio was currently on a contemporary station and he couldn’t identify a single instrument in the song, though the God is a Woman chorus was really catchy, despite his best wishes to resist. Was this Mariah Carey?

One thing didn’t really seem to change so much, the fashion looked relatively similar to what he remembered. On the youth they passed at least. Everyone was wearing flannel and windbreakers. They looked like a mix of grunge and homeless. Did these trends surpass the test of time or were people obsessed with the 90s? He’d have to ask Scully sometime.

Scully.

Another thing that hadn’t changed was her endless endurance of shitty situations he seemed to always end up putting her in. She seemed to tolerate him for some reason though, lucky sonuvabitch he was. She loves him. Throughout the whole day that thought kept coming back to him. Dana Katherine Scully said she loves him. She’s his wife, pregnant with their child. They had a house together. He was repeating facts to himself as he learned them to cemement them to memory, but those three items of information wouldn’t be easily forgotten and yet remained at the forefront of his mind.

He’d thought about it before, what it would be like growing old by her side. During the middle of a lonely night or when his love for her overwhelmed him, it was a comforting fantasy he always came back to. His imagination hadn’t done her justice. He’d always just essentially imagined the ‘them’ he knew. He imagined they’d get wiser, but with no real concept of what that would be like. When he pictured them, he had really just tinted their hair a little greyer or a little whiter and called it good. He knew she’d always be the epitome of beauty to him, but he had no idea what the years would do for her.

She’s radiant. She’s always carried herself with confidence, but this was different. Gone was any traces of youthful vanity or insecurity, this was a woman who was self possessed and took no shit. Confidence was as evident on her as the clothes she wore. She was just breathtakingly beautiful.

“Mulder,” she chided with amusement, “I can feel you staring at me.”

“Sorry,” he laughed in embarrassment for being caught.

“Is something wrong? Aside from the obvious?” she asked, just gazing at him from the corner of her eye for a second before returning her focus to the road.

“No, no, not wrong. It’s just-” he stopped, unsure of how to phrase himself, as to not sound rude.

“Just what?”

“You’re so beautiful, it feels like a waste looking at anything else,” he shrugged.

She pursed her lips, the the edges quirked up regardless. She wanted to play it off, but there was no way she could attempt to hide the blush on her cheeks. “That’s very sweet of you to say.”

Her reaction confused him a little bit. He didn’t understand why she seemed so surprised. Did future Mulder just get used to seeing her all the time, and the compliments phased out? No, that couldn’t be possible. Was it just flattering to her that, even in this state of mental vulnerability, he found her breathtaking? He wasn’t sure, but all he knew was that this amazing woman wanted to be with him and he had full permission to express his affections to her. He liked making her blush.

“Just a fact,” he replied.

The smile finally got to make a full appearance and he felt himself mirroring her for the entire ride home.

He didn’t ask anymore questions for the rest of the evening. They were both aware that he’d eventually need answers to the heavy hitters, but today was stressful. Instead, they just tried to relax. He helped her as she cooked, using it as an opportunity to, not only spend more time with her but, learn where things went, how the house worked. It was a simple domesticity that he enjoyed.

Scully was more than helpful, but he could tell she was exhausted from spending all day at the hospital. Physically and emotionally, she needed rest. Over dinner, he would just ask her small things, like how she was, what she was teaching in class, simple topics that he didn’t anticipate leading into anything stressful.

After dinner, she asked if he wanted to watch tv in the living room while she read. Something told him that that might be a part of a routine they had, but she didn’t want to imply that at the risk of forcing him or being disappointed if he didn’t want to. As if he’d ever turn down spending time with her.

He sat on the couch as she turned on a sci-fi channel before snagging a pink and white book from the end table. He hid his surprise when, instead of just sitting next to him, she laid on the other half of the sofa and spread her legs over his thighs. “Is this okay?” she asked, looking at him over the top of her book.

“Of course,” he said a little too quickly, not wanting her to take her legs off him. She smiled at his enthusiasm before returning her attention to her book. While he was engrossed by how real the movie on the television looked, his attention kept coming back to the way her manicured little toes wiggled subconsciously. He decided to be bold and he rested his hands on her legs, rubbing and massaging the muscles beneath his palms.

He looked over to gauge if that was okay and saw she hadn’t taken her attention away from the page, but her eyes kept reading over the same line and the small smirk from before had grown on her face. Spurred on by new confidence, he continued his ministrations as he watched the movie.

When the credits came on, he was still rubbing her calves and shins and he heard her hum. He turned over to tease her about how cute it was, but was surprised to see she had fallen asleep, a little grin of comfort on her lips as her hands rested subconsciously on her stomach. He leaned over and took the neglected book that was in danger of falling off the couch, marking her page and setting it on the coffee table. He reached behind him and pulled the old navajo blanket from the back of the couch, draping it over her delicately so she wouldn’t wake up.

He watched her for a while, just enjoying the level of vulnerability and trust she was displaying with him right now. She looked angelic. He’d always heard that pregnant women had a certain ‘glow’ to them, but this was the first time he’d ever definitely noticed it. As he watched her, a weird beeping sound broke his reverie and turned to realize something was happening with his cellphone. He picked it up from the end table next to him and it lit up in his hand.

Reminder: Childbirthing Class tomorrow at 1pm.

He felt inexplicably nervous at the words on the screen. At the same time, he felt like an ass for not asking something as important as “how far along are you?” or “when are you due?” God, he really was self-centered. He looked down and her and naively tried to gauge where she might be, but to no avail. She was so tiny on a normal basis, it was just hard to tell anything. He also didn’t have a single thing to relate back to. Pregnant women were not something he normally ran into.

He tried to tap at the white square on the phone to get more information, but it just shook at him. Eventually he did it too many times and a thumbprint icon showed up. Use Touch ID or Passcode.

He remembered how Scully had pressed his thumb on the circle at the bottom of the device and he just mimicked it. The screen changed and the photo of them was there with several square icons on it. It vaguely reminded him of his Dell Laptop, but ridiculously smaller.

He found a square titled “Reminders,” but that was the only one and it didn’t have any subsequent information. He was about to put the phone back down when he caught a glimpse of the background he’d admired earlier. He wanted to see all the photos. Since she was asleep, he felt like he could thoroughly take his time and enjoy them all, not that he couldn’t with her awake, but what was new and exciting to him might be a painful reminder of the situation for her.

He didn’t really know how she got to them though. After clicking on what felt like every square, he found luck with the rainbow colored one. Photos . Immediately after he pressed it, the screen was bombarded with a series of smaller images, almost like a photo album. He remembered when Scully was looking for an older photo, she’d scrolled to the top, so he did the same so he could start from the beginning.

When he could scroll no higher up, he took a glance at Scully’s sleeping form. He didn’t know why he was so nervous. This felt almost taboo, as if he was doing something he shouldn’t be. However, she’d been very adamant with him that this was his life. This phone, the memories on it, this house, her heart; apparently they all were his now.

The first photo was of Scully reading. It was something he was more than familiar with, her look of focus, the way the tip of her tongue was pressed between her lips, peeking out just a little bit. It looked like it was taken on the porch of the house. The next few after that were a series of her realizing he was taking photos of her and he could see her eyes rolling in one of them before she stood up and got closer. If he had to take a guess, it ended because she took the phone from him.

The next set of photos were of a landscape. He wasn’t quite sure where it was, or why it was important. He was trying to use this to get to know himself. He was a profiler, so this in theory wasn’t much different than what he was used to. It was just weird doing it on himself. What was important to the man that owned this phone. What did he think was important to document?

A lot of them were of him catching Scully doing something mundane. Reading, washing her face, cooking, sleeping, daydreaming, nothing extremely extraordinary. She was, undoubtedly, the most important thing in his life, but it felt odd how frequent the photos of her were. It seemed that frequently, he was documenting more and more of their daily life together. Was he afraid of losing her? No, no. First of all, she was pregnant with his child, second of all, she wasn’t giving any signs that they had been unhappy. In fact, with how upset she is, he would say they were living in pure bliss before this happened. But future him was documenting everything as if he knew the pain of not having her and needed to have something tangible to always have with him.

What happened in the past twenty years? What was he missing?

He swiped again and found a photo of an ultrasound. A smile broke out on his face when he found the small mass within the black circle. The terminology was lost on him, and he couldn’t really identify anything, but he saw what he needed. His baby. Their baby. He never thought it could happen. For more reasons than one, but namely he thought she was infertile. However, here she was, glowing, her stomach swelling under her hands, a look of pure peace gracing her resting face. God, he was a lucky man.

He swiped a few more times, admiring the life they’d created with each other, when he stumbled across a video. He looked at the buttons on the sides of the phone and played with them until he was confident the volume was on as low as he could without it being silent. He took another glance at Scully, making sure she was still asleep before playing it.

Immediately he heard her voice whine, “Mulder-” dragging out the ‘r’ in a playful tone.

Holy shit.

The camera came into focus and he realized what type of video this was. “Please Scully, you’re so sexy. We haven’t made a tape since 2006.” He knew what he would be looking for tomorrow.

Camera Scully was completely naked, sitting on top of his equally naked counterpart. Her legs were spread on either side of his, and his cock was bobbing straight in the air, covering her own pubis from the camera’s view. She cocked her head to the side as she took his erection in her hand. He heard himself gasp as she started stroking him, doing all his favorite motions with his head and shaft. Mulder felt himself getting aroused from the imagery, it was almost overwhelming. Seeing Scully naked, as beautiful as he imagined, seeing her expertise at pleasuring his body, and finding out they made smutty homevideos.

“Has it really been that long?” she asked.

“The last one is on cassette,” he laughed, though current Mulder didn’t know why that was funny. What else could it be on?

“Hmmm,” she purred, “Okay.” She looked into the camera and another bolt of arousal shot through him. She eased herself up on her knees, revealing her trimmed patch of red pubic hair as she lined up their arousals before sinking down on him. He almost moaned with them as he saw Scully’s eyes flutter shut with pleasure, her mouth dropping open and her brow furrowing in concentration.

God, she was actually getting off from him.

She proceeded to writhe on top of him as he thrust up into her. Her breast bounced lewdly from the friction as she gyrated her hips. There was nothing awkward about their union. This was a dance they had evidently done thousands of times before.

At the same time video Scully leaned forward, real Scully moved her legs, hitting his growing hard on and making him gasp. He shut off the video in fear of her waking up and, as her movement turned into a stretch, he was glad he did. He didn’t need a full blown erection jabbing her legs. He set the phone where he found it and pretended to be watching the new movie playing on the screen.

“Hey,” she whispered in a sleep laden voice.

He turned over and saw her eyes were cracked open, looking at him lazily. “Hey”

She looked at the tv and then the clock before returning her gaze back to him. “Want to call it a night?” He nods, realizing the day’s worn him out more than he expected, and she turns off the tv.He’s glad to have the cover of darkness that hopefully hides the slight tent in his pants as he stands up with her, his body creaking and protesting more than he’s used to.

When they’re up and she’s walking away a sense of nervousness washes over him. Should he follow? Does he get to sleep in the same bed as her? Should he be polite and take the couch? But Scully, as always, heard his internal panic and called out, “When I get out of the bathroom,  better see my husband in our bed.” She looks over her shoulder with a smile that reassures him she’s teasing him, but also serious.

He goes to where he knows their bedroom is and strips down to his boxers before staring at the bed. Which side was his? Before he comes to a conclusion, Scully’s voice rings out from right behind him, “You sleep on the side by the door.”

He turned around to thank her and was overwhelmed at the sight of her in his old Oxford sweatshirt. It was tattered, clearly loved, and engulfed her small frame. The middle was being pushed out lightly by her stomach and it brought yet another smile to his face. When he bought that sweater in college, he never imagined his child would grow under his wife’s soft skin. Her hair was mussed from her nap and she had an adorable sleepy grin on her face. He could actually feel his heart filling to the brim with love and adoration.

He felt confided she wouldn’t mind and he just wanted to more than anything. He took a step closer to her, placed a hand on her cheek, and pressed his lips to hers. Her chapstick rubbed onto his lips as she moved against him. Scully was kissing him. She placed a hand on the back of his neck like it was meant to be there and deepened the kiss, she tasted like Scully and mint.

He didn’t want to press his luck too much, to he leaned away and was rewarded with the sight of her relishing in the connection they just shared. Her closed eyes fluttered open and she smiled at him, placing a kiss on his bare chest before crawling into bed, patting the space next to her.

He didn’t need to be asked twice and he slid under the covers with her. He laid on his back, his hands not quite knowing what to do with themselves. Before he spent too long worrying, she slid over next to him and laid her head on his chest, draping an arm over his torso. One arm wrapped around her, his hand resting on her back as the other grabbed the arm draped over him. He was in heaven.

“Mulder?” she murmured sleepily into his skin.

“Hmm?”

“Don’t feel like you need permission to be affectionate with me,” she yawned. He opened his mouth to respond, but she added, “I love you. I want you to kiss me and touch me.”

I love you.

His lip quivered and his throat clenched, but he knew she couldn’t see it through the night. He leaned over and pressed a kiss to the crown of her head and whispered, “Thank you.”

There were many thanks in the one simple phrase. Thanks for her love, thanks for her affection, thanks for her kindness, thanks for this moment, and he hoped she got them all. Knowing Scully, she did.
Thank you for reading! I’ll be working on the Partners with Benefits update too, so if you also follow that, have no fear! -Nicole (Twitter/Tumblr: gaycrouton)

Chapter Text

Author’s Notes: Hello! Housekeeping notes: I noticed in Chapter Three I accidentally named someone Melissa, totally forgetting about Scully’s sister, so to avoid having it seem like a weird reference, I changed it to Barbra. Thank you all for your patience, this is only my second multi-chapter X-Files fanfic, and sometimes my schedule is a bitch with it.

Then

There was a short time after she woke up where everything was normal. Everything had the makings of an average Tuesday; her alarm went off at 6:30, she took a shower, put on her robe, and made her way into the kitchen to brew some coffee.

Then she was reminded everything was not normal. In fact, far from it. Because there was Mulder, sitting at her dining table, wearing his boxers and a white t-shirt, squinting his eyes at the morning newspaper with two steaming cups in front of him. When he looked up and noticed her standing there, he set the paper down so he could beam at her, “Morning, Scully.”

She couldn’t help but be reminded of a proud puppy. He sat upright bright eyed with a wide smile as if dying to hear her praise. Instead, he received a skeptical stare as she tried to take in the unusual sight in front of her. His smile faltered and he cleared his throat nervously. “Um, I prepared coffee for you. Two creams, one sugar.” Just the way she liked it.

“Thanks,” she murmured as she walked up to the table, trying to discreetly cover herself more with her robe. If he noticed, he didn’t say anything, didn’t even make a joke. “So, nothing’s changed from yesterday?” she asked, already knowing the answer.

“N-no, sorry,” he suddenly became fascinated with the coffee mug in his hands and she wasn’t sure if it was to avoid the disappointment he expected or if he was trying to respect her modesty by averting her gaze.

“Don’t be sorry,” she sighed, easing herself into the chair across from him, She was braless under the robe and, though he’d made it evident he’d seen it all before, she hadn’t let him before and she wasn’t about to now, so she kept one hand in front of her, clutching the flaps shut, as the other reached for the coffee he prepared. A hum of appreciation escaped her as the warm liquid touched her tongue. It was perfect.

“So,” she started, “Are you going to come into work today?”

“Yeah, I had been considering going around town on a wild goose chase, but I figured if we do get this situation reversed, it wouldn’t do a lot of good if the old Mulder came back and didn’t have a job due to excessive absences.” He was unusually calm and it was almost unnerving to her, but she thought better than to say anything about it.

“That’s really responsible of you,” she praised instead, earning a shy smile from him. Guilt started to gnaw at her a bit, he was doing nothing except trying to make this situation easy for her and she felt like she was just being standoffish, a feeling solidified by the way he appeared to be walking on eggshells.

He laughed lightly and added, “Yeah, besides if I just had to take a shot in the dark, I imagine I’m behind on paperwork that past me might appreciate being done for him when he gets back.”

She couldn’t believe her ears, “I’m sorry. Did Fox Mulder just say he was willing to go to work and do some paperwork?”

He laughed at her tone and added, “Well, I figure it’s better than opening a whole other can of worms on top of our situation right now. Besides, most of what I look for usually turns out to be just the work of insane humans or townspeople with too much time on their hands and an idle imagination.”

He may as well have said the sky was purple. An incredulous sound escaped her throat and she asked, “What?”

He just smiled shyly and shrugged. “I just know we won’t miss out on anything huge if I take it easy for a little while. At least for while we figure out the X-File happening to me right now.”

“Yeah. Yeah, I guess you’re right,” she affirmed quietly. She’d always dreamed of the day Mulder would affirm what she always said, but for some reason it wasn’t half as satisfying as she’d imagined it would be.

She was the one in her own time, but she couldn’t help but feel completely and utterly displaced along side him. It was obvious to her that this man had gone through a lot of developing and growing, but none of it was familiar to her. She couldn’t recognize him. For as long as she could remember, her relationship with Mulder was the one constant in her life. At any given time, barring the Diana incident, she felt like she knew exactly where they stood, but now she felt lost. She didn’t know what to say, she didn’t know how to act, she didn’t know what to do.

He must have sensed her internal battle because he spoke up gently, as if apologetic for interrupting her spiralling thoughts and tried to reroute the conversation. “ Um, I hope you don’t mind that I used your coffee maker and your shower-”

“No, no. That’s fine. I hope you feel welcome here.” That sounded stupid even to her, but he just continued to smile at her sweetly. “Do you have any clothes, or will we need to run by your place?” she asked, taking another sip.

“Well,” All the sudden he appeared a bit shy and he rubbed his hand across the back of his neck. “I hope you don’t mind me saying this, but you told me that you always kept a spare change of my clothes in the bottom drawer of your dresser in case I ever needed them. You said they were a Christmas present you weren’t sure I’d like, so you just stored them away for a rainy day.”

She felt herself blush as he revealed one of her secrets, it felt oddly romantic and she was too embarrassed to ever even consider telling him. “When did I-” she started. “Nevermind.”

He didn’t dwell on it and just continued, “I was kind of banking on the hope that you’d let me wear that.”

“Well of course. They’re for you after all,” she shrugged cooly, taking another drink of her coffee to hide her embarrassment. Just how many other tidbits about her life did he intimately know. Hell, he probably knew how she’d react to events she couldn’t even imagine happening yet. He honestly probably knew her better than she knew herself right now, not in the romanticized sense that sentence is usually said with, but quite literally. The knowledge made her uncomfortable for reasons she didn’t quite understand.

“Thank you. Is it alright with you if I go grab them?” he asked politely, not taking offense to how short she was being with him right now.

She shrugged and gestured to the bedroom. “You know where they are already.”

“I just didn’t want to invade your personal space without your permission,” he said softy standing up and making his way towards the hall. However, before he passed her she reached out and grabbed onto his arm, stopping him in his tracks. He didn’t say anything, simply looked down and waited for her to. She wasn’t used to this unrelenting attention and it unsettled her for a moment before she regained her composure. “Listen, I’m sorry that I keep being rude. I just, I guess I thought we’d wake up and everything would be okay again.”

She let go of his arm and he brought one of his up to gently squeeze her shoulder. “I understand. Your world’s been uprooted, it has to be uncomfortable. I can’t even imagine what I’d do if I was in your position. If you ask me, you’ve been handling this really well.” Her gaze shot up to look for any sarcasm, but she was met with honest sincerity. She appreciated his sentiment, but the most she could give him in return was a soft smile.

He bent down and kissed her temple and she felt her blush spread down to her chest as she smelt her body wash mixed with his scent, his body heat radiating off of him so strongly she could feel it. “Go get ready, we don’t have much time,” she said softy, missing the pressure of his lips when they left.

She’d wanted an intimate, close relationship with Mulder for a long time now. She didn’t really know why she didn’t just revel in what he was offering her. Maybe it was just the way Ahab brought her up to earn her happiness, maybe it was that nagging feeling of exclusion she felt when he referenced to how happy they are together when she didn’t get to experience half of what he has. Was it possible to be jealous of herself? She shook the thoughts from her head and finished her coffee, rinsing the mug out in the sink until her room was free for her to go and change. It was going to be a long day.

She’d forgotten until they reached the Hoover Building that, when she’d called them in yesterday, Skinner said to come to his office whenever they returned. She didn’t know what about, but anxiety started to build in her gut. “Mulder,” she called out to draw his attention away from the phonebook he was analyzing.

“Hmm?” he responded as he burrowed his face in the pages to look at something.

“Skinner told us-what are you doing?”

His eyes diverted away from his concentrated task to look at her. “Oh um, I just haven’t seen one of these in a while,” he shrugged, tossing it back on the table next to the phone booth.

“A phonebook?” She didn’t even try to keep the disbelief out of her tone.

He just shrugged again, “Yeah, cellphones in the future evolve to the point where they can hold all the contact information for anyone you need to contact. If you need a business’ phone number you can just Google it on your phone.” A few passing agents heard his ramblings and shook their heads with a smile. For once she was glad Mulder had the reputation he does. No one thought any different hearing him go on like this. The only person who could tell it was out of the norm was her?”

“Googling something on your phone? It sounds like you live in a sci-fi novel” she balked with a laugh.

“Um, what were you saying Skinner told us?” he asked, changing the subject.

“Oh,”her attention snapped back to the current situation. “He said when we were able to make it back to work that we should go to his office first thing to see him.”

“Are we in trouble?”

“Are you excited about that?” she questioned, not understanding the gleam in his eye.

He chuckled self-consciously as he followed her to the elevator, “What can I say? It’s been a while since I’ve been reamed out by the ol’ Skin-man.”

A smile spread on her face as she turned to look at him, “I knew it!”

“What?” he smiled down at her, looking pleased to have elicited a response other than irritation from her.

“You like getting in trouble! You never seem to be half as nervous about seeing Skinner as I am!” Sometimes she swore he did it on purpose, like he thrived off of aggravating the older man.

“Me?” he asked with fake innocence, widening his eyes and throwing his hands up in mock-defense.

“I’m right, aren’t I?” If this Mulder got to know everything about her, it was only fair she could learn a few truths about her own Mulder. Er-the Mulder of her time.

“I always did find it a bit fun, but you should never have been nervous. You’re so eloquent and professional.” The self-satisfied smirk stayed on her face as her suspicions were confirmed and from his compliment.

“Well, it’s one thing if you think that, it’s another to try to make sure Skinner thinks it,” she explained, stepping into the elevator and pressing the button they needed.

“Scully,” he groaned, causing her to look up at him.

“What?”

“You could punch Skinner in the face and he’d probably thank you for it.”

She balked at the sincerity he said that statement with. “I have no idea what you mean by that.”

Without missing a beat, he responded, “He totally has a thing for you, Scully!”

She was about to fight him on that before her brows furrowed, “Wait, do you know that for a fact?”

“It’s so obvious,” he drew out exaggeratedly.

She rolled her eyes at how juvenile this conversation was. “Sure it is, Mulder. Sure it is. I think he just values our work.”

“Yeah, I think he values your work and a few other things about you,” he joked, causing her to side eye him. It was nice seeing him playful again, flirty even.

“Okay, Mulder,” she laughed.

The elevator was only a few floors away and he took a step closer to her, so that his front was almost flush with her back. She almost jumped when she felt his breath tickle her ear, not having expected him to be so close. “I’m serious, Scully. I think it’s impossible for someone to meet you and not fall in love.”

Her jaw dropped in shock, but before she could even think about what to say in response, the elevator stopped and the doors slid open. A newer agent was waiting to get in and stopped mid-step when she saw them. “Oh, I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to interrupt-”

“Interrupt an elevator ride?” Scully replied harsher than intended in an attempt to cover up the moment that just transpired less than ten seconds ago. She turned around as she stepped off the elevator, just in time to see Mulder try to cover up the smug smile tugging on his lips.

She hoped she wasn’t blushing as she approached Skinner’s secretary. “Agents Scully and Mulder here to see A.D. Skinner.”

“I’ll let him know you’re here. Go ahead and have a seat on the couch,” she responded with a smile.

She plopped down on the couch unceremoniously and was surprised when Mulder sat right next to her. Right next to her as in his side was completely flush against her own. She was about to tell him to get away when he wrapped an arm over the back of the sofa behind her head and leaned down. “Are we seriously in any trouble, I just don’t want to go in there and embarrass you in anyway.” She barely contained her shock at that. Mulder was actually concerned about potentially embarrassing her. Maybe pigs were flying too.

She turned to look at him, not wanting Arlene to overhear them gossiping about Skinner and had to use every fibre of her being not to jump in surprise at how close his face was to hers. She could see every shade of his hazel eyes, she could see where little hairs were starting to poke out from not being able to shave, she could see the quirk of his lips as he watched her staring. “H-he didn’t say. I really don’t know. We haven’t investigated anything yet since you got back from your Bermuda excursion.”

“You mentioned that the case before that was the man with the ringing in his ears right?” he asked. She could smell the mint from her toothpaste he used on his breath. She simply nodded to confirm and his brow furrowed. “Wait, so does that mean we’re technically working under Kersh right now?” Another nod. “So then why did you call in to Skinner yesterday. Why are we meeting with him.”

“I called him because I was a little flustered with a lot on my plate yesterday, and I knew he’d be able to pass along the message in a way that would be acceptable to Kersh. As for the meeting, again, I really don’t know.”

The clearing of a throat made them both jump as they turned to see Skinner standing at his door watching them with a cocked eyebrow. “Agents, come on in.”

Mulder tried to sweep his arm around, but accidentally bumped her head with his hand. “Oops. Sorry, honey,” he apologized, rubbing the spot gently with his hand. At the pet name she sent him a pointed glare and he looked apologetic, retracting his hand away from her.

He stood up and offered her his hand which she resentfully took so his feelings wouldn’t be hurt. She walked away from him towards Skinner, but not before noticing the smile gracing Arlene’s face. Great.

As they walked into the office, Skinner shut the door behind them and watched as Mulder pulled out a chair for her. She mumbled a thank you under her breath, embarrassed at his displays of intimacy ; especially in front of Skinner who seemed equal parts surprised and irritated at Mulder’s flagrant disregard for professionalism.

“Agent Mulder, did I hear you call Agent Scully ‘honey’ in the waiting room?” he asked in a tone that implied he couldn’t believe it himself. She didn’t need to see herself in a mirror to know her face had blanched. They had enough speculation about their relationship without Mulder himself adding fuel to the fire.

“Um, on accident,” Mulder offered lamely. He appeared to be genuinely apologetic, the perfect visage of a kid with his hand caught in the cookie jar.

“Mhm,” Skinner grunted, obviously not buying it.

“Um, sir. Why did you need to see us?” she asked nervously, trying to bury the attention away from what he just witnessed.

Skinner’s gaze softened when he turned towards her and she practically felt Mulder saying ‘I told you so.’ “I just wanted to check on you both and make sure you’re doing alright. I know you aren’t under me, but after Mulder’s scare last week and you feeling sick, I just worry. Did it go alright at the hospital?”

“Hospital?” Mulder asked, the word pitching up at the end in pain as she kicked him under the table. “Oh, yeah. It went well, she was just dizzy.”

“Anemia,” she reassured with a smile.

“It happens when she’s on her period,” he added in, what she could only presume was, an attempt to be helpful. The attempt earned him another jab with the heel of her shoe.

“Huh,” Skinner muttered, eyes darting between Mulder and her, undoubtedly trying to find the source of the odd behavior. “Well, I’m glad you’re okay,” he told her honestly.

“Thank you, sir.”

“And you’re feeling alright as well, Agent Mulder?” he asked.

“Me? Oh, yeah. Never better. Everything’s fine, totally good.” Scully turned to him in surprise at how humorously bad that sounded. It really must’ve been a while since he’d last been reprimanded because he was a little more than rusty. She was just grateful it was in front of Skinner and not Kersh. Mulder must’ve perceived both parties in the room were scrutinizing him and he tried to divert the attention, “What about you sir? How are you? You’re looking good.”

“I’m doing well Agent Mulder, precisely why I haven’t been to a hospital anytime recently,” he stated pointedly. “Well, I’m glad you’re both in better health. How’s Kersh?” he asked in a more serious tone, making Scully think that may have been the actual reason they were called in.

She opened her mouth to respond, but apparently his disdain for Kersh was easier to remember twenty years later instead of how to act in front of Skinner, “We’re working under someone who clearly has no respect for us or our work. It’s not exactly a walk in the park, sir.”

Skinner sighed in exasperation and sat back in his chair, “I’m sorry. This is out of my control, you both know I don’t approve of the situation.”

“We know, sir, and we appreciate it greatly,” she responded, earning the world's most miniscule smile from Skinner.

“Well, that’s all I needed to see you for. Sorry for taking you away from work.”

“Thank you sir,” they said in unison. As she stood up, Mulder’s hand immediately went to the small of her back, as it usually did, but this time instead of simply resting there the touch felt like a caress.

She didn’t think much of it until they were almost out the door. “Oh, and agents?” Skinner called out, making them both turn around. “I think you both know I’ve always held a certain level of discretion about your partnership . Just keep in mind not everyone in charge would, so I’d be careful about pet names and the like in public. Alright?”

She hadn’t felt this way since her mom walked out on her date kissing her goodnight on the porch. Except this time she felt caught and exposed for something she didn’t even help perpetuate. Her blush was so instantaneous that she felt it in her ears, and she didn’t even respond as Mulder said “Yes, sir,” and guided her out. She let him guide her all the way to the elevator, waiting for the doors to close before she exploded.

“Alright,” she barked, jumping away from his touch. “That has to stop.”

“I’m sorry, Scully. It’s just second nature to me and-”

“But it’s not for me!” she practically yelled. “I feel teased with an intimacy that I don’t know how to deal with. Since you seem to know everything you should know that, in 1998, I like you,” the words burned in her throat, as if they themselves knew they shouldn’t be coming out right now, but fuck whatever plans she’d had for their relationship, fate had its own ideas. “So knowing that, can you imagine my shock when one day everything I wanted was just given to me and I don’t even get to know the history behind it. For you calling me ‘honey’ doesn’t even matter, but for me that’s a huge step.”

He hadn’t even tried to interrupt her once and, while she’d always dreamed of the day he’d listen to her with this much focus, it was such a far cry from the Mulder she knew that it felt like a different person. He was a different person. “Scully,” he started when he was sure she was finished. “I’m sorry. I just don’t know where we are right now. I don’t know how to find the balance of what I’m used to and what I remember us being at ‘now,’” he explained lightly, making her feel like shit for getting mad at him.

“No, I’m sorry,” she sighed before burrowing her face in her hands. She heard his hand come out to comfort her, but it fell back down to his side. Great, now he didn’t even think he could touch her. “This just isn’t fair,” she exhaled. “Not just to me, this isn’t fair for you either.”

“We’ll figure it out, Scully,” he promised.

She wiped away any traces of distress before nodding. “We always do.”

Let me know if you like it! I hope you all know I violently love this story, please don’t take my prior absence as disinterest, I just had a very hectic semester and I wanted to get back into the groove of writing before tackling this again. Also, if you have any headcanons or ideas about what this time travelling situation could have in store for them, feel free to hit me up. I just love hypothesizing, and this is such a strange concept that I’d love to bounce ideas back and forth. Thank you all so much for sticking with me! (Nicole: Twitter/Tumblr: gaycrouton)

Chapter Text

Author's Notes: THAT'S RIGHT, TWO CHAPTERS ADDED AT ONCE. I just wanted to express my gratitude for everyone who has supported me and sent me kind words of support. For someone constantly working to be a better writer, and oftentimes being super self-conscious about it, I cannot express how much it means to me. Anyway, hope you enjoy!

Now

A hum of relaxation resonated in her throat as she felt fingertips grazing over her like a landscape, flitting up the valleys of her face, the groves and lines a reminder of years experiences. His fingers spent extra time in certain areas than others, being very gentle over the thin skin of her eyelids, but tracing over her lips a few times. Even in her state of sleepiness, she knew he was focused on the tug of her lip against the rough skin on the pad of his thumb. Her hum turned into a groan of appreciation when his appreciation reached the top of her hairline, fingernails scratching her scalp in that special way that made her melt.

Mulder's amused chuckle brought her fully into consciousness and brought a smile to her eyes slowly fluttered open, blinking a few times in an attempt to adjust to the harsh morning light, but she could see the silhouette of him laying on his side, leaning on an elbow watching her. "Good morning," she greeted sweetly, her voice strained from her full body stretch.

As a reply, he bent down and pressed his lips to hers tentatively. His touch was gentle and she could sense the restrained passion behind it. He always had a way of making every kiss feel like their first. She brought up one hand and cupped the back of his neck with it, pulling him down firmly, causing him to open his mouth so she could slide her tongue in. Mulder accepted her greedily and cupped her face between both his hands, moving his fingers soothingly across the nape of her neck while his thumbs stroked her cheeks. His tongue prodded around her mouth playfully, exploring her with more fervor than usual and it made her break the laugh to giggle.

"Eager, aren't we?" she teased as she rolled onto her side, falling into his open arms while pressing her pubic mons into his erection. Whether it was good ol' fashioned morning wood or if it sprung up from his morning examination of her, she didn't know, but it caused a gush of arousal to rush between her thighs regardless. Mulder groaned and bucked into her, throwing his head back as his eyes shut in ecstacy. Mulder was always an appreciative lover, but there was an unusual amount of reverence in his arousal right now. It only served to drive her wild and she latched her mouth to his vulnerable neck to give him the attention he deserved.

One hand snuck its way under her sweatshirt and stroked her bare back while the other gripped the back of her head. She threw one of her legs over his hip and snuggled closer so that their arousals were pressed together. They were so close she could feel his shaft pulsing against her.

Speaking of pulse, when she was done nipping at his adam's apple, she moved her attention to suck on the side of his neck, taken aback by the way she felt his pulse beating erratically against her tongue. She released him so she could look at his face and saw his eyes were shut in complete bliss. Usually, at this stage in their relationship, there was a lot more laughing and giggling during sex. He was acting like everything she did was the most erotic thing to ever happen to him, which was flattering, but she knew she'd done better at times when she hadn't just woken up. "Are you okay?" she panted.

His eyes were so dilated they looked almost black. Small puffs of air were tickling the top of her head where they were escaping from his swollen lips, and his face was thoroughly blushing. "Yeah, yeah, it just-I love being able to do this with you." She was about to tease him for his odd sentimentality when the memories of yesterday hit her full force.

With how confidently Mulder was snuggling into her right now, she really thought it had all been a bad dream. Those prenatal vitamins really made her gassy, maybe they had also caused her to have an extremely vivid dream of her husband getting spontaneous amnesia in his sleep. No wonder he was acting like this was the first time they'd ever been intimate, for him, it was.

The shock of the revelation caused her to pull away from him gently and halt her hips' gyrations. "I'm sorry I'm being so forward. I forgot about yesterday, and that you-I don't want to rush you into anything you're uncomfortable with."

He was shaking his head before she was even done with her sentence, not backing away from her in the slightest. "No, you're not. I'm sorry if I was being too forward. I just-I would love to have the opportunity to show you how much I love you," he rambled, clearly embarrassed. It must have been weird for him, undoubtable apologizing for not comparing to the lover she was used to when that lover was him.

She smiled at his babbling. Even when they rekindled their relationship all those months ago, he still had the suave seduction she'd come to expect from Mulder. She hadn't had sex with someone this nervous and shy, so eager to please, in almost two decades. It felt like deja vu of first time together. "Then show me," she soothed in her most suggestive voice, rolling her hips against him once more.

She squealed in surprise when he rolled her onto her back, coming to a kneeling position in between her spread legs. She could see his excitement tenting in his boxers as he absorbed every inch of her, commiting the image vividly to memory as if it would compensate for those he'd lost. "You're wet," he whispered as if possessed, transfixed on the wet spot she knew had blossomed on her underwear as he ran an idle finger up and down the skin of her inner thigh.

"That's the effect you have on me." His eyes darted to hers, looking for any sign she was simply placating him, but not finding any. She felt herself overheating under his gaze and arched her back to shed her sweatshirt. However, as soon as her hands grasped the hem, his reached down to rest on top.

"Let me." She nodded and let her hands fall to the side as he raised the fabric inch by inch. He dropped his head down so he could nuzzle his face against every new area of flesh revealed to him. He paused a moment to place a sweet kiss on the crown of her swollen tummy and she knew that kiss wasn't meant for her. The thought brought tears to her eyes that she had to fight away. He just found out he was going to be a father less than twenty four hours ago, but here he was cherishing the baby under her skin. Oh how she loves this man.

He continued his mission quickly after that and she felt goosebumps break out over her skin as his knuckles drug sensually over her ribs and the sides of her breasts. Eventually, she lifted up her shoulders as he carefully pulled the sweatshirt over her face before throwing it off the bed. "Fuck," he inhaled between clenched teeth. His gaze focused on her face and she felt like the most beautiful person in the entire world. This Mulder last remembered her when she was in her early thirties, but here he was looking at her now as if she was aphrodite reincarnated. She wouldn't call herself insecure, Mulder always made her feel beautiful, but, god, he was making her feel sexier than ever right now.

He started scooting backwards with his fingers wrapped around the sides of her panties, dragging them down her legs at a painfully slow rate. She could feel the arousal on the crotch of her panties cooling against the morning air as they slid down her legs, leaving a little trail on her inner thighs where the fabric touched skin, a trail she hoped he'd follow with his mouth to find his way back home.

He tossed the underwear over his shoulder and she could see in his eyes that he was on the same page as her. He lowered himself so he was crawling on his hands and knees as his tongue started at the base of her ankle and made its way up her calf and thigh, stopping occasionally to place sloppy wet kisses lovingly on her skin. Her eyes shut involuntarily as he made his way to where they both wanted him. No, not want. Where she needed him. She was pretty sure her clit had a heartbeat right now from anticipation and desire.

When his face reached the apex of her thighs there was a moment of silence, barring her laboured breathing echoing against the walls of the room. His breathing, on the other hand, was coming out in pants against her swollen sex, undoubtedly gleaming with arousal. His breath against the moisture sent chills up her body. She wasn't sure if he needed permission, or if he was again trying to commit the image to memory, but both were unnecessary. So in an attempt to spur him on, she lifted her legs so that her thighs were resting on his shoulders, her calves resting in anticipation on his back.

His hands slid around her thighs to anchor her in place. She was about to beg when he sent her to nirvana with a single flick of his tongue. "God, yes," she moaned as her back arched, desperate for more. Luckily for her, more was exactly what he wanted to give. With her moan, gone was the hesitance that plagued him earlier. The hold on her legs tightened like a vice as his mouth worked her relentlessly. He lapped at her like it was it was the last thing he'd ever do, playing between using the edge of his tongue versus the flat expanse of it in an attempt to see what would drive her crazy.

"Yeah," she whimpered breathlessly, "Just like that." Her hands moved down her body to rest on the back of his head in encouragement. He opened and closed his jaw against her, playfully closing his lips to suck on her clit for a split second before plunging his tongue all the way in her before repeating the process.

Even though he was holding her down with his forearms, she couldn't help the way her hips rolled against the bed and against his mouth, her body desperate to help him on his mission to get her off. She felt his head move beneath her hands and she looked down to see he was looking straight at her. The combination of his lust-filled gaze and the way he chose that exact moment to flick his tongue quickly back and forth against her clit had her whole body convulsing.

"Oh my god, oh my god, oh my god, Mulder!" She cried as her head fell back on the pillow, her body rolling as her hips rocked to draw out the sensation. When she was left just a quivering mess, her legs visibly trembling against his head, he released her with a kiss. His arms loosened and let her boneless legs rest on either side of his body as he crawled up hers.

Her eyes had rolled to the back of her head with the force of her orgasm and when her vision was finally able to focus she saw Mulder's beaming face looking down at her. His entire lower jaw was slicked wet with her arousal and it was insanely erotic. "You're so amazing, Scully. You have no idea," he panted, gulping lungfuls of air he'd just deprived himself of.

"It's me who should be saying that to you." But instead of saying it, she grabbed his head in her hands and kissed him hard on the mouth, tongue darting out to lick herself off his lips. As he returned her passion with equal fervor, she could feel the heat and strength of his erection pressing into her upper, inner thigh, right where her leg met her crotch.

She undulated her hips down and around so that his head rubbed against her slick entrance and it caused Mulder to break the kiss with a moan. He looked down at her out of heavy lidded eyes and she smiled at him in encouragement. That was all he needed to ease one hand down in between them to line himself up, with one final look of permission, he slid into her with ease.

"Fuck, Scully," he cried with so much reverence it might as well have been a prayer. She returned her legs to where they had been earlier, heels digging into his back in encouragement. His hips started rocking experimentally, testing to see what she liked.

She'd always loved how Mulder always knew what to do immediately to get her off, but seeing, and feeling, him relearning, finding his footing in the ways of her pleasure, was a turn on in and of itself. Maybe seeing how much Mulder cared for her was her fetish? She didn't ponder on that thought for too long because he found the spot he'd been looking for and she gasped loudly as her hands shot up to cling onto his back.

"You like that?" he asked between gritted teeth, beads of sweat collecting at his brow as he picked up the pace.

"Mmmhmm," was the only intelligible sound she could get herself to make as she felt every thrust created a ripple effect of pleasure through her whole body; her nipples were hardened pebbles on her chest, every follicle of hair on her body was standing on end, and she swore the sounds of her wetness were almost deafening.

He took her by surprise when he wrapped one hand underneath her back and the other supported the back of her neck, pulling them up suddenly into a sitting position. She opened her eyes to look straight into his and she got lost. Fuck, this man drove her wild. He rocked his hips violently on the bed as he thrust up into her, the sheer force of his actions causing the headboard of the bed to hit the wall so hard it might leave marks. She rutted her hips against him and she felt that familiar coil in her gut start to tighten again as her clit brushed against his muscular pelvic muscle.

Mulder took that moment to burrow his face into the crook of her neck, placing kisses on her shoulder up to her neck up to that spot under her ear until his lips suckled on the lobe. He let it go as fast as he claimed it so he could whisper, "I love you so much," into the shell of her ear.

She let her full weight fall against him as she came again, surprisingly harder this time. The arms wrapped around her back kept her from falling off his lap as his rhythm lost its cadence and he pumped into her recklessly until he thrust all the way in, spilling hot and deep inside her as he growled her name.

She felt the muscles in his back relax as his breath started to even out. She peppered his shoulder with kisses as she recovered herself, relishing in the comfort of his hand rubbing up and down her spine. Eventually she sat up straight in his lap, his penis shrinking back to normal inside her. She caught him with his eyes closed and a blissful expression on his face. She couldn't help herself and she pressed her lips to his for the countless time today. When she pulled back his eyes were open and filled with adoration. "That was amazing, Scully."

"Always is with you," she smiled, brushing strands of hair away from his face.

"I think we'll need to revisit this a lot, you know, for science. Maybe it'll jog my memory," he joked.

"Oh, purely for science," she laughed in response, sliding off his lap so she could stretch her limbs out. She noticed his attention focus on something on the nightstand and she followed it to the clock. "Is something wrong?"

"On the, uh, my phone," he said as if he still didn't trust that's what the device was, "last night I saw a little reminded square thing that said we had a birthing class at one." Her body jolted with realization when she remembered the class she'd signed up for a month ago. Glancing back at the clock she realized why he'd been looking at it that way as the red fluorescent lights reflected 12:20 back at her.

"Damn it!" she squealed as she ran into the bathroom. She started brushing her hair maniacally as she poked her head out to look at his dazed figure. "Get ready, Mulder. We need to be out of here in the next ten minutes."

He followed her instructions and jolted out of the bed, his mission face a roadblock almost immediately as he realized he still wasn't quite sure where everything was. "Shirts and pants, closet; socks and underwear, second drawer from the top; toiletries, in here," she declared like a sexually sated drill sergeant.

Doing as told, there were barely any missteps. In fact, he got done faster than she did so he ran downstairs. She wasn't quite sure why until she ran down there and was greeted with the sight of Mulder holding a plate of toast and two bananas. "Ready, G-woman?"

The birthing class was being held at the local Y, but when you live out in the middle of nowhere, 'local' still entails a bit of a drive. However, with her speeding slightly as Mulder fed her diligently, she wasn't all that worried.

Today had taken a dramatically different start that yesterday had. Even though he didn't remember the last twenty years, the unconditional love was still there. Mulder and her passion recently had been better than it had been for a while. She wasn't sure what the root cause was, bu she figured it was probably a conglomeration of a few things. His fear he'd lose her again, her determination not to let him slip back into old habits, their shared excitement to finally be an honest to god family, baby and all.

The passion surprisingly hadn't dampened at all and it thrilled her. Mulder told her time and time again that after that almost-kiss in his hallway before antarctica, his love for her became almost overwhelming. Apparently he thought about her all the time, but never thought she would ever possibly feel the same. She couldn't even imagine how she herself would feel if one day she went to bed yearning and woke up with all her dreams having come true. It was fun, and rewarding, to see how much he wanted to be with her even then through the eyes of amnesia-riddled Mulder. Even though, without a shadow of a doubt, she'd rather have her Mulder back, flaws and all. She had to make the best of it, and this was a good start.

However, she should have remembered that all good things come to an end, and it was inevitable that she'd have to face the harsh reality of what his condition entailed.

"Don't take this the wrong way, I'm just curious. Why are you going to a birthing class? You're a medical doctor," he asked while he fiddled with the buttons on the radio in his quest to learn the ins and outs of the car.

She was distracted by the traffic in front of her, so she wasn't paying enough attention to notice her slip up. "Well, last time was a less than pleasant experience, so I just want to learn from some experts in the subject about if they have any hidden pain-management tactics," she explained, trying to get around an SUV blocking her way.

"Last time?" His fiddling stopped as if he was frozen, the only exception being his head which snapped towards her as soon as the words left her mouth. "But I thought-where-you-?" he rambled, unsure what question took precedence between the thousand racing in his mind right now.

Her grip tightened on the wheel so much that she could feel the grooves of where the leather was sewn together. She shouldn't have said that. She shouldn't have said it, but she needed to think of something to say right now because he was boring a hole into the side of her head with his gaze. She let out a chuckle to ease the tension in the car, but the breathy way it came out did nothing to that effect. "Last time as in last time I helped deliver a baby. It was years ago, but the woman screamed like a banshee. All I could offer was the standard breathing exercises."

"You're not telling me something," he stated, not paying an ounce of attention to her attempt to divert his attention.

She brought her car to a stop and she'd never resented a red light more. She turned her head to look at him and saw all his attention was focused solely on her, like a dog with a bone. "What do you mean?"

"Does it have something to do with that photo I found in my desk?" he asked. She didn't know how to succinctly explain the William situation. There was no succinct explanation. Her silence only served to affirm his suspicions and he asked, in a much softer voice filled with disbelief, "Scully, do we have another child?"

A car horn blared, causing them both to jump in their seats. She realized she was sitting at a green light and tried to refocus herself. "Mulder, can we please talk about this later? I just want to enjoy the birthing class with you." As she said this, she reached one hand out to him and he grabbed it like a lifeline. She ran the pads of her thumb over the rough skin on the back of his hand in an attempt to comfort him.

"Y-yeah, Scully. I'm sorry." That was his new catchphrase and she hated it.

"No, Mulder. I'm sorry, you don't deserve to be in the dark and it's not fair for me to keep you there when you're just trying to understand your life." He didn't say anything in response to that, just squeezed her hand as she turned into the parking lot of the pastel colored building. She turned off the car, but before unbuckling herself, softly answered. "Yes, we do. A son."

"Do?" he repeated. Another wave of guilt washed over her when she realized he was probably assuming the worst. "How old is he?"

"Seventeen." She didn't want to be dishonest, but she wasn't lying when she said all she wanted to do was enjoy this experience. Last time she didn't get to do these things to celebrate the pregnancy, the opportunity was taken away from her. When she set this up last week she was overjoyed that she finally had a chance to relive what she'd lost out on, but once again-

"Where-is he okay?" She could tell by his tone that he wanted to know, but was walking on eggshells to avoid upsetting her.

She cupped his cheek in her hand and felt the scrape of his five o'clock shadow on her palm, relishing in the part of Mulder that was familiar to her right now. "He lets me know that he is." Not a lie, he just probably assumes she means he sends her postcards, not psychic visions.

He opened his mouth to undoubtably ask her another question, but she interrupted him, "Mulder, it's a very complicated situation. I can fill you in on it tonight if you'd like, but right now I just want to enjoy this experience with my husband. For now, just know extenuating circumstances kept you away from me for nearly the entirety of the last pregnancy. All I want to do is share this moment with you. Okay? Please, can you do that for me?"

For once, he didn't rush to apologize and she was finally starting to see progress. Things would get better. He took the hand that was cupping his cheek and dragged it down to his lips, placing a kiss to her palm. He didn't say anything, just smiled at her and nodded, and for a moment, her Mulder was back with her.

She smiled back and turned off the car, she was surprised when he practically jumped out of the car, but, as she saw him run around the front of the car, she realized he was coming to open the door and help her get out. Always a gentleman. Mulder opened up the car door and held out his hand to her which she accepted gratefully. As soon as her feet touched the ground, she placed a hand on his chest for leverage so she could place a quick kiss to his cheek, nuzzling her cheek against his. "I've had a great time with you today, thank you for doing this with me." She was alluding to their rendezvous and she was glad he understood that from the smile that broke out against her cheek.

"This has been the best day of my life that I can remember," he gushed, causing her to laugh as she sank back down on her feet. "Are you ready to knock this birthing class out of the park?"

Her eyes rolled as she shut the door, locking it behind her, "I don't know if there's exactly a way to succeed in a birthing class, but sure, let's 'knock it out of the park'." She let her fingers intertwined in his as they walked up to their next adventure.

THAT'S RIGHT, AND IT WAS A SMUTTY UPDATE. Again, my inboxes are always open if you wanna say hey or give me a prompt! Hope you all have a wonderful New Year. 20gay-teen brought us bountifuls of Gillian content, may 20bi-neteen be even greater. -Nicole (Twitter/Tumblr: gaycrouton)

Chapter Text

Author's Notes: Um, YOU GUYS ARE SO NICE. Thank you all for being so sweet and loving this story as much as I do. I wish I could passionately embrace each and every one of you. Also, so we've established this is post- Triangle , but for reasons fairly obvious, I'm going to skip over bringing  Dreamland  into all of this, lol. We may jump just a wee bit more too, but I won't spoil.

1998

She needed time. He understood that. Realistically looking at it, maybe he should have been more thoughtful in his approach. It took him seven years for her to feel comfortable taking that huge step in their relationship and he'd been patient. Even back then he understood how vitally important it was for her to be the one to initiate it, yet here he was fucking it up. He was surprised he actually let her stay at her place last night. It must've been the exhaustion of the day catching up with her, making her a little more accepting.

Then he'd just had to push his luck. Ever since they got back down to the office, they'd been doing paperwork in relative silence. Well, she was doing paperwork - he was going through everything around him in an attempt to analyze what 1998 Mulder's state of mind had been. What he'd found so far was a ton of barely-started case reports, a drawer filled with video tapes he threw out after making all those home videos with Scully, a wallet full of take-out receipts, and enough pencil shavings to start a small fire.

What he couldn't find was the answer to make everything better.

Every time he fumbled with something, whether it be starting the dial up on his computer or receiving a fax, he could feel Scully's eyes focusing on him. As much as he wanted to look at her, he didn't want to provoke her anymore.

"You should know that in 1998, I like you! So knowing that, can you imagine my shock when one day everything I wanted was just given to me and I don't even get to know the history behind it." Her words from earlier kept playing on repeat in his mind and with every replay, his guilt grew. Subconsciously, he had to have known. He didn't actively think about it when he'd been flirting with her earlier, that was just his favorite thing to do, but somewhere deep down he had to have known Scully'd mentioned having a huge crush on him around this time and he felt like shit for exploiting that.

Maybe he was just being selfish, presuming that if one day Scully came in and confessed her love that it would just be his dreams coming true. After her point of view earlier, he realized how much of a nightmare it actually would be, having someone you love coming up to you and suddenly knowing all your intimate secrets. Then boasting about it no less.

God, he felt like an asshole.

If there was one thing he could do for her, it would be to get her Mulder back. He couldn't forget that.

As if they heard his thought process, his phone went off and a quick glance at the screen told him it was the gunmen. "Did you find anything Frohike?"

"Hello to you too, Mulder. Yeah, I'm doing great, thank you for asking," the older man's voice sarcastically replied. Oh my god, he was older than Frohike now.

"Sorry, Melvin," he replied, trying to stop himself from mentally comparing his own 2018-face to Frohike.

"To answer your question though, yes, or at least we might have. We found one woman in the area named Barbara who practices the occult," he replied between chews of whatever he was eating.

"That's great, what did you find?" He asked, sitting up in his seat, peripherally noting Scully watching him.

"An address." Mulder grabbed a pen and a post-it note as he listened to the address being recited. "But I don't want to get your hopes up. I know it's not a lot to go off of."

"No, this is good. This is better than nothing," he hurried, shoving the post it in his pocket and turning off the computer.

"Let me know if it works out."

"Will do. Talk to you later." He stood up and grabbed his wallet as Scully continued to watch him.

"Did they find something?" she asked curiously.

"They might have found an address for the woman I was talking about earlier."

"The woman with the vitamins?" He was glad to know that the sound of Scully's skepticism was a timeless constant.

"Yeah, I'm going to go check it out," he said, before adding a hesitant, "if you don't mind."

She looked at him curiously and he realized asking her permission must also be out of character. God, he really used to be selfish. "You don't have to ask my permission. Just be safe and let me know if you find anything," she mumbled, focusing on the paperwork in from of her, yet not making a move to write anything more.

He walked passed her and tripped over himself as he bent down to kiss her cheek but instantly shot up to avoid touching her. If she noticed, she didn't say anything, and he left without another word.

He'd never really realized how much the area had changed until he had to navigate by himself. As he wandered the streets, he instantly realized he couldn't pull up Google Maps and instead had to rely on asking "Do you know where Crawford Passage is?" to random strangers, and, after forty minutes, he eventually stumbled onto a narrow street that was suspiciously hidden.

Looking at the crumpled post-it note in his hand and checking the numbers above the door, he internally hoped he was seeing wrong. The door was painted black with red embellishments. He wasn't ever turned off from anything occult-ish, but this seemed drastically different from the medicine woman he remembered. No matter how much he moved his gaze, the numbers matched. Relenting that this was it, he sighed and raised his hand to knock. However, before his knuckles even touched the door, he heard a woman call out "Come in!"

And they called him spooky.

Turning the knob, he was immediately met with the smell of marijuana perfuming the air and he couldn't help but feel like he was in college again. Resisting the urge to cough, he stepped in and closed the door behind him, noting the back was decorated with a huge poster of the 'death' tarot card.

"Well, well, Marty McFly. What are you doing here?" The voice was husky and foreboding, but no matter where he turned he couldn't locate the woman.

"Excuse me? Marty Mc-"

He jumped on the spot when he felt a hand touch his shoulder and he whipped around to see a short woman, exactly matching how he remembered her though without a few age lines. "Get it? Because you're travelling through time?" She punctuated the question by throwing her head back in a cackling laugh that made him feel on edge.

Clearing his throat and trying to put on a semblance of power, he stated. "I'm not travelling. You did something to me."

Holding wrinkled hands out in front of her, she waved them back and forth as if to dispel his ridiculous notion out of the air. "No, no, no. have not done anything to you."

"Well-not yet. I saw you in 2018 and I was trying to buy something for my pregnant wife to help ensure the baby would be delivered safely-"

"A good luck charm of sorts," she affirmed.

"Yes. You gave me some gummies. She was skeptical-"

"As always."

"Stop doing that," he pleaded. For someone claiming to be innocent in all this, she sure seemed cocky. "She didn't trust them, so I took one to prove they were harmless, and then I woke up here."

"And you sent this poor Mulder into the future," she chastised before making tsk-tsk noises at him.

"I-what?" he stammered.

"Poor little boy. One day he's having wet dreams thinking of his pretty little partner and the next day he wakes up in his fifties with a pregnant wife," she crooned, walking around him while taking a hit from a long pipe.

He hadn't really considered that. He was too self absorbed wanting to get back to Scully, that he hadn't thought about where the mind of the Mulder he took over went. He couldn't even imagine what he'd do if he was in that position-

"He's having a better time than you are," she teased before cackling again.

He didn't want to consider what she meant by that, instead he moved to the defense. "Are you reading my mind?"

"Ha! Mind reading isn't real honey." Her wink had him second guessing if she meant that.

"Listen, I don't know how you know all this. I just want to get back. It's very important to me to get be with my wife," he begged.

"I know because the cards told me," she explained. "But I'm afraid I do not know how to make these 'gummies' that the future me made, nor the spell she placed on them."

He felt weak in the knees as her words started to register. "S-so, are you telling me. There's nothing that can be done?" He heard the quiver in his voice and he was too upset to be embarrassed. He'd never get to see his miracle baby.

The woman sighed, exasperated by his emotion, before contritely repeating, "Okay, okay, okay." She walked around a tall counter and pulled out a large book, but when he tried to get a better look, the glare she shot him had him backing away. "I think there's something I can do."

"You can switch us back?" he asked hopefully.

"I would say there's-" she paused as she waved her hand in the air with calculated chaos, "an eighty percent chance I can successfully fix this."

"And the other twenty percent would result in-" he trailed off.

"That's my business," she snapped, shutting the book.

He sighed and ran his hand through his hair. "I don't mean this to be rude, but is that an accurate estimate? Last time I took something from you, this happened."

"Exactly," she stated.

"W-what?"

"You weren't supposed to take them. They were for your pregnant wifey," she shrugged, inhaling her pipe.

"So she takes them, their prenatal vitamins. I take them, and they cursed me," he asked slowly, not sure he was following.

"Yes."

"That-That doesn't make any sense," he said.

"You knocked over my candles. Remember that oaf man? I was going to curse you then, but then you started going on and on about your pregnant wife and how you just wanted this baby to have a good life blah blah blah," she rolled her eyes before waving her hand dramatically. "It was annoyingly sweet, so I decided to give you a fifty-fifty chance. You cursed yourself."

"Because I knocked over your candles?"

"I get bored."

Deciding that he'd probably never reach a point of understanding with this woman, he sighed and just relented. "Okay. so you can help me?"

"Come back in a week," she replied, turning around.

"A week?" he repeated.

"Yes, come on, have some fun while you're here. Enjoy what life is like without the constant interruptions from a digital world that is given so much reverence people ignore their own real world disintegrating beneath their feet. Revel in a life in America where the worst thing a President could do is get a little blowjob instead of getting elected on a platform built upon the sexual degradation of women," she seethed before a wicked smile graced her blood-red lips. "Besides. I think the other Mulder would like a little more time enjoying a life where getting inside a woman requires a simple kiss instead of years of foreplay."

He stood there and took in her words before relenting. "Okay. Will yo-"

"I'll call you, Fox Mulder. I know how to reach you."

He simply nodded and walked out, relieved when he could take in a large breath of fresh air. He couldn't help but feel sick, but he felt ridiculous at the same time. His Scully had to know something was wrong, yet it sounded like-it seemed-they were having sex? He felt weak in the knees and walked a bit before sitting down on a nearby bench and putting his head in his hands.

He didn't know how to feel. It was technically still him, it wasn't cheating, and he knew he would never treat her bad. Was it possible to be jealous of yourself? He didn't know, but honestly his head hurt. He'd already faced Scully's wrath enough today and something told him another sleepover at her place might not be completely welcome. So, with a sigh, he hailed a taxi and made his way back to his apartment.

He hadn't been back since the morning he woke up in a panic, and it looked exactly how he'd left it. Mug still by the sink, sheets still haphazardly thrown on the bed, still painfully bachelor-ey. He contemplated calling Scully, but he wanted to give her space, so instead he called Frohike and told him what he'd found out only to receive a lecture on the history of witches and occult curses.

He didn't know what to do. Usually he got home, cooked dinner for the two of them, watched a show as Scully read next to him on the couch, then fooled around a little bit before falling to bed. Now he contemplated doing the single man's version: heating up a microwavable meal, maybe indulge in an old porn tape, then maybe masturbate before passing out on the couch. How wonderful.

Just as he walked into the kitchen, his phone lit up yet again. "Frohike, I'm sorry. I'm just not in the mood for-"

"Mulder, it's me," a soft voice replied on the other end.

"Oh," he perked up. "Sorry, Scully. I didn-how are you?"

"I'm sorry I yelled at you earlier. That was-I was out of line," she lamented. He could picture her perfectly, undoubtedly picking at the hem of her shirt or playing with whatever surface was nearest to her while she apologized. He felt his heart warm at this because if there was one thing he knew about his stubborn Scully, it was that she only apologized when she really felt like she'd done something wrong.

"No, no, Scully. I'm sorry. I wasn't thinking and I think in all the confusion, you're my only constant. Everything else is overwhelming, but you're-you're still Scully.I shouldn't have taken advantage of that," he explained.

"And all I've done is chastise you," she sighed to herself, barely audible over the phone. But before he could respond she asked, "So how did it go today?"

He slid his Hungry-Man meal into the microwave and walked around the apartment as it heated up. "Well, I think it's promising. I hope at least. I'll know more in a week."

"A week?"

"Yeah, I just. I don't know. I'm banking on this and I don't know what to do if it doesn't work out," he confessed.

"I'm sure everything will turn out okay," she reassured, words definitely meant to comfort him rather than herself.

He chuckled lightly, "You wouldn't say that if you heard half the shit she said."

"If you think it's plausible, I'll trust you."

She really must've been feeling bad for earlier because she wasn't even pressuring him. "Thank you."

There was a pause in the conversation as they both tried to figure out how to navigate this unusual awkwardness. "Um, I was worried when you didn't come back," she revealed shyly. He could tell what she was doing; she was being more open now since she figured he knew everything, but she was uncomfortable with it at the same time. He didn't know how to alleviate her discomfort, so he did the only thing he could think of - he just followed her lead.

"I should have called you. I'm sorry, you deserve better than that. I just knew that if I found this woman unbelievable and ridiculous that it would dishearten you, and I didn't want to call you without an update and make you feel like I was hovering."

She was silent again and he'd worried he'd said too much. Again. He was about to apologize for the hundredth time today when her voice cut through the phone again. "It takes me aback how considerate you're being. I'm not used to it." The alarm went off and he walked back to his kitchen. "What was that?"

"I'm making a microwavable meal," he answered, pulling it out with two fingers and pulling the plastic off.

"Mulder, those are awful for you," she laughed, a sound he'd missed desperately, despite hearing it earlier this morning.

"How else do you think I got my manly physique?" Another laugh, two for two. He was on a roll.

"Mulder?" she prompted.

"Yeah?"

"You should-you can just stay here until this is all sorted out."

He stopped stirring his food as he processed what she just said. "Are you sure?"

"Well, I just figured that maybe, while this is all going on, that it may be best for us to just stick together?" He could hear the fear of rejection lacing her voice and it'd never been more misplaced.

"I don't believe we've ever agreed on a theory so intensely before, Scully," he smiled as he tossed his meal into the trash, instead going to his room to quickly pack his bag.

She laughed breathily and he could hear the relief. "I'm glad."

"Scully?"

"Yeah?"

"Thank you," he told her sincerely.

"No problem, honey," she teased, repeating the pet name that got him into so much trouble earlier.

He chuckled in response before telling her, "I'll see you in twenty."

This chapter was a little shorter, but I figured since this was an expository chapter that you guys wouldn't mind. Hope you enjoyed! I'm excited to see their progression as they spend this week together ;) Let me know how you felt! -Nicole (Twitter/Tumblr: gaycrouton)

Chapter Text

2018

Aside from feeling overwhelmed at his apparent lack of knowledge at the birthing process, the birthing class went without a hitch. He was even able to make Scully laugh a few times, despite the instructor's glares. He could tell Scully felt a little out of place amongst the class filled with twenty to thirty somethings, so he went out of his way to try and ease her worry.

He still had a lot of questions on his mind and it felt like they were getting harder and harder to ignore. They were eating lunch at an old diner that he actually could remember from back in the day, and when he'd finally built up the courage to question her, she broke his confidence. "Thank you for being so great today, Mulder. I had a lot of fun," she smiled from across the table, taking a bite of her burger.

"Anytime," he responded honestly, all questions he had about their son remaining unspoken on his lips. He didn't want to ruin her day, aside from the brief moment of frustration in the car, he finally felt like they were getting into a groove and he was enjoying himself.

He took a bite of his own burger as he admired her from across the table. She was comfortable and content, reclined with her feet propped next to his butt on the booth opposite of her. "I love you," he told her for what had to have been the thirtieth time today.

She laughed and smiled sweetly, despite the amount of times he told her, she never got annoyed, if anything it seemed to endear him to her. "Thank you, Mulder. I love you too," she laughed.

It was a sound he wished he could listen to on repeat for the rest of his life. He didn't quite remember her ever laughing so much before. He didn't know if it was the pregnancy or the overall carefree nature that came with aging, but it suited her.

Suddenly, he realized there were other questions he could be asking.

"When did I finally make a move on you?" he asked suddenly, making her pause mid-chew to send him an amused smile.

"What do you mean?" she teased, finishing her bite before smugly taking a drink of her shake.

"When did we finally have sex?" he clarified.

"Why do you think you were the one to instigate our sexual relationship?" she responded pointedly, looking at him with a cocky smirk.

His brows shot up as an excited smile spread across his face. "You made the move?" he asked incredulously.

She nodded before proudly stating, "I fell asleep at your place one night and you sweetly tried to relocate me from the couch to your bed so I could sleep."

"I take it you didn't stay asleep?" he prompted.

"You would be correct," she grinned, reminiscing on the memory. "I grabbed your hand when you tried to leave and asked you to stay with me. You were so nervous," she mused.

"Is that what you said? 'Stay with me?'" he asked for clarification, wanting as many specifics as possible.

"No, I was sleepy and bold and I'd had an eventful day," she laughed. "I told you I was tired of pretending that I didn't want to be with you."

He was grinning like a fool, proud of past Scully's directness, "What did I say?"

She let out a hearty chuckle and said, "You got this look of pure shock, the sentiment 'Surely I misunderstood her' personified, and you said 'Wh-What do you mean?'"

"Stutter and all?" he chuckled at how accurate that sounded.

"Stutter and all," she confirmed, eating some of her fries.

"What did you say?" he felt like he was a teenage girl gossiping and he now found the appeal as he hung off her every word.

"I sat up and pulled you down onto the bed with me and said 'I want you', but you still had that look of disbelief on your face so I kissed it off you until you got my hint," she explained.

His jaw dropped open as he watched her shrug with a laugh. "Scully, that's so fucking hot."

"You thought so then, too," she giggled.

"When was that?" he asked.

"2000."

"Wow, it took us seven years?" he stated in disbelief.

"In your defense, you'd been hitting on me for a long while before that," she offered.

"How," he asked, ready to judge his flirting techniques.

"You were just more complementary there at the height of it," she explained as if really analyzing it for the first time. "Honestly, I feel like we could have cut the sexual tension with a knife. It felt like we were teetering on the precipice for so long. Sometimes we'd share glances that felt as vulnerable as being naked."

"Had we kissed before that night?"

"You kissed me a few months earlier," she nodded. "You kissed me at the ball drop of the new millenium."

He couldn't hide his shock at that. I kissed her. He tried to picture himself in that moment. Was he inspired by the drastic shifts happening at that very moment? The metamorphosis of a new year, decade, century, and millennium blossoming at that very moment making a simple kiss seem less intimidating in comparison? Or was he taking advantage of Dick Clark, a giant sphere, and the shared capitalistic romanticism of Auld Lang Syne being syndicated live out of NYC to an audience of millions just like him, hoping to make a move in the comforting safety net of American tradition? "Did you know I wanted to kiss you or did you think I was doing it customarily?"

"Deep down I knew. It wasn't like the Bermuda Triangle thing where I thought maybe you were out of it or confused. It was just painfully us. We always seemed to make a move but only when the other person had an easy out. Most likely, in this case, being able to say 'oh it was just for New Year's' in case I hadn't felt the same way," she explained before shaking her head.

"What?" he questioned.

"I just...I don't believe you didn't know. I mean...you had to have known," she reminisced.

"Why do you say that?" he asked.

"I felt like I was flirting with you all the time, I had such a crush on you," she laughed.

He felt a huge smile break across his face as she rolled her eyes at his enthusiasm. "You had a crush on me?"

"Mulder, we're married. Obviously I have a crush on you," she laughed.

"Wait, you still have a crush on me?" he questioned with boyish excitement.

"Mulder, shut up," she smiled, taking another drink.

Now felt like a better time to bring it up than any. The gold band on his finger kept drawing his attention every time he moved his hand - as did the rock on her left hand. "When did we get married?"

She paused for a moment and he was surprised she was more hesitant with this question than his last one. "We got married a few months ago. We just figured we wanted to settle down, for once and for all."

He nodded at this and held his curiosity. Just a few months ago? What was the catalyst? Why hadn't they married decades ago? "Did we do anything special?"

She shook her head with a soft smile, "No, and we wanted it that way."

The fact that Scully'd agreed to marry him at all was answer enough, for now. But he still felt uncomfortable about the whole thing, and he didn't want to. Maybe they needed some ground rules to help this adjustment from continuing to be difficult.

He sat up straighter in his booth and prompted, "Hey," getting her attention. She looked up at him with a cocked eyebrow and he asked, "What if we made an arrangement of sorts?"

"Explain," she replied, licking the spoon of her shake.

"First of all, that's distracting," he teased, making her laugh around the utensil. "Secondly, I don't want to ruin our days together by asking you things that make you sad," he admitted.

She set down the items in her hand and sent him a concerned look, "You're not making me sad, Mulder."

"Are you denying I'm bringing up, or at least have the potential to bring up, bad memories?" he asked.

She looked like she was going to argue before deciding against it, "I suppose so."

He nodded in agreement, "Exactly. So, I want to make an arrangement of sorts. If I ask anything you don't want to answer, just tell me to wait until we're home, deal? And I won't pry any further."

"Deal," she nodded.

After they'd finished eating, Scully said she felt nauseous, apparently morning sickness - despite its name - did not care about the time of day. He waited diligently outside the restroom as she threw up and was doting on her as soon as she came out. Ignoring her reassurances of 'Mulder, I'm fine,' as he fawned over her.

She insisted that all she really needed was to take a nap, so he drove them back home and tucked her into bed, sliding in next to her so he could rub her back and stroke her hair until she fell asleep. And, eventually, he did too.

When he opened his eyes, the red neon lights of the RCA Alarm clock were glowing 8:00 at him, but as he oriented himself, he realized it was only the evening. Listening closely, he heard Scully in the shower and decided to make his way downstairs and grab something to eat.

By the time she was done, he was half an hour into Ghost Adventures on the Travel Channel, and halfway into a bag of Chex Mix. "Hey, you're awake," Scully called as she walked down the stairs.

He turned to look at her and smiled as he saw another one of his old shirts making itself useful as a sleep shirt for Scully. "Yeah, I didn't think I'd fall asleep," he chuckled.

"I think naps are a luxury wasted on the youth," she joked as she made herself a mug of decaffeinated coffee.

"You might be onto something there."

He watched as she made her way over to him before settling into the couch and using the remote to turn the television off. "So," she began slowly, "We're home." From how close she was, he could smell her body wash and see her trepidation.

"That we are," he replied, uncertain of her implication.

"Have you thought of what you want to ask?" she asked. With how on edge she seemed, he worried she woke up in their bed and was riddled with anxiety at the prospect of him waking up. Maybe that's why she took a shower?

"We don't have to do this right now. I don't want to-"

"We made a deal, Mulder," she interrupted, reminding him. This was inevitable and they both knew it. God, why couldn't they have just been mundane people with normal jobs. He was sure if John Doe down the street got amnesia, the only thing his wife would need to fill him in on was that Jeopardy was moved to a new time slot. Not that they had missing children they didn't know about.

"I just," he began, choosing his words carefully. "I think this situation might be easier if you didn't have to worry that I was going to ask certain questions and if I didn't have to worry about asking something that might cause a bad reaction."

She nodded, fingering the lip of her coffee mug as she sighed "You're right."

"But, knowing us, I'm sure a lot of what you'll have to tell me will be hard to hear, so I don't know how to go about this…" he trailed off.

She was silent for a moment, looking into her coffee cup for answers. He was about to say they could just forget it and talk about it tomorrow when she spoke up. "Twenty years is a long time. I already think I know what questions you might ask first, and I know those questions don't have short answers. What if we limited it to three heavy hitters a night?" she offered.

He nodded, liking the idea and agreeing with the explanation. "But how will I know what a heavy hitter is?"

"Well, we'll save the Q and A for the night, so during the day ask me anything and if my answer is 'later' then you'll know it's a touchy question and we should wait until we get home to talk about it. By limiting it to three I think that will help you from getting too overwhelmed. But don't think you have to do three at once, some of what you'll hear won't be easy," she explained.

"That's smart," he mused, suddenly feeling anxious.

"So," she sighed, sitting up on the couch and setting her mug down on the coffee table. "What's your first question?"

There were so many racing through his head, but he settled on the one he hadn't been able to get over all day. "It's not as direct of a question as I think you'd hope, but can you tell me about our son?" he asked gently.

She nodded with a knowing smile as if she knew he'd ask that. "I named him William. William Scully," she mused with a nostalgic smile. "He was born in 2001. Um, before and after his birth was a hard time for us. You weren't able to be there for a lot of the pregnancy, the actual birth, and then you had to go into hiding forty eight hours after meeting him," she stated.

I just want to enjoy this experience with my husband.

All I want to do is share this moment with you.

Her words from earlier in the day rang in his mind and his heart lurched for her. After years of being told she was infertile, she was given two opportunities for a normal family and both were tainted by his absence, once physically and now, in part, mentally.

He wanted to ask her what happened then, during this period time she alluded to yet danced around. Even really thinking back, when they were at the hospital, she'd mentioned something about him not being on the X Files around this time. So where was he? If he wasn't working and couldn't be with Scully or their child? Sure he was self-absorbed from time to time, but he'd sooner die than be away from them. He couldn't think of anything that would have dragged him away from them.

He wanted to know, but something told him that was an entire story in and of itself. He only wanted to make her tell him one thing at a time, and right now he needed to focus on his son.

"He was…" she paused to find the right word, "different. People wanted him for what made him special and despite having an amazing support system trying to help me and protect us, I knew I'd never be able to give him the life I wanted him to have." A melancholy expression crossed her face as her lips tugged downwards.

"I'm sure that's not true," he comforted, sliding closer to her and wrapping an arm around her shoulders.

She gave him a sad smile. "He was such a beautiful baby. Sometimes I'd just lay on the bed with him, watching as his eyes scanned the room. He was such a curious baby, he always wanted to look at everything and explore. He was his father's son." He watched her face closely, watching her transport herself back into that bedroom in 2001, spending time with her baby. He knew Scully'd be an attentive, loving mom. It went without question, but knowing that the experience had a heightened reverence being she was told it was impossible.

"What happened?" he asked, feeling guilty as her face fell.

"I couldn't protect him," she whispered, her hands unconsciously coming up to hold her swollen stomach. "I gave him away. A secret adoption so that no one would ever find him. Not even me." He felt his heartbreak at the thought. Scully would have loved that baby more than anything in the world. He could only imagine her sitting in her room alone. Did she keep the baby stuff and just look at it, knowing it would never see the infant again? Did she have a nursery she had to pass by everyday? Months that would have gone into eagerly preparing for the baby's arrival resulting in a closed door to a room to painful to even look at? Or did she just sit in the room and berate herself? All the possibilities made him want to cry.

He was just about to ask her what she meant when she sniffed and spoke up, "I didn't know what had happened to him until this year, a few months ago. People were still looking for him, and they wanted to hurt him."

"Why do people want him?" he asked softly, rubbing up and down her arm with his hand.

"He, um. He has powers," she explained timidly.

"Powers?" he repeated, certain he couldn't have heard her right.

"He can do things with his mind. I-I don't know how to explain it. I don't know if it's shapeshifting or an optical illusion, but he can appear to be other people," she told him. "We've both seen it first hand."

"Where is he now?" he asked.

"His adoptive parents were killed and he went on the run. Um, it's a lot to get into right now, are you sure you don't want to break some of this up," she asked.

He could tell it was hard for her, but he wanted this to be like a bandaid, just rip it off so it could only get better. If they didn't answer this now, she'd just dread having to tell him later and he'd fear the worst. "I think it'd be best to just get it all out right now," he replied.

She sighed, and murmured, "If I overwhelm you, you'll let me know right?"

He squeezed her lightly before answering in the affirmative. With a deep breath she slowly told him, "The last time you saw him... it appeared that he was shot and killed."

He felt his stomach bottom out at that. He saw his son die right in front of him? No wonder she was so hesitant to tell him. It felt like all the air was stolen out of his lungs, but he couldn't help but latch on her word choice. "Appeared?" he repeated in a strained voice.

"I don't think he's dead," she murmured with resilient confidence.

"Why?" he asked, twisting his head to really look at her.

"Jackson and I seem to share a connection," she mused before adding, "Jackson's what he goes by now. What his adoptive parents named him."

"What type of connection?"

"Sometimes I think he sends me visions," she admitted. "They're rarer now, but I think he's letting me know that he's safe. I mean...wouldn't they have stopped if he was dead?" The last question seemed to be almost a reassurance to herself and he hugged her closer.

"If your gut says he's still alive, I believe you," he whispered into the crown of her head before placing a kiss onto her hair.

"I just want him to be happy," she said with a quivering voice that made his frown deepen.

"Is he the baby in the photograph I found?" he asked softly.

"Yeah," she nodded. "I'm sorry I didn't tell you earlier. It's just-" she broke off and took in a deep breath. "I'm so hormonal and the fact that you have his picture right there in your desk makes me emotional," she choked out.

He held her tighter as she sniffled and regained her composure. "I love you," he told her, not knowing what else to say as he digested this information.

"I love you too," she replied, raising her head and kissing his jawbone. She sniffled before asking, "What's your second heavy hitter?"

Samantha. It was a pressing thought at the forefront of his mind, but surprisingly, he couldn't give voice to the question. In the reflection of the black television screen in front of them, he could see their silhouettes highlighted by the glow of the lamplight. Scully was burrowed into his side, still sniffling and idly wiping tears away before letting her hands fall back onto his leg and onto her stomach.

Before this happened, they'd probably been in a similar position, but she was probably laughing as he tried to flirt with her with cheesy jokes. They probably eagerly talked about how they were going to redo the extra room upstairs and turn it into a nursery. They probably couldn't contain their excitement about what the future held for them.

And now she was crying as he made her relive the most painful moments of their past.

He'd waited so many years already, what was the harm in another day?

"Maybe we should just do a question a night, Scully," he stated, pressing another kiss to her crown.

"But, Mulder-" she started, easing her head off his arm to look him in the face.

He took the opportunity to stop her by placing a sweet kiss to her lips. She kissed him back and they stayed like that for a moment before he released her and let his forehead fall against hers. "This should be a happy time for us, Scully. I don't want to make you relive the painful past for hours every night. Besides, you were right. I have a lot to digest, best to give the memories respect by not overwhelming myself."

"Thank you," she whispered with a smile before pecking him on the lips.

They sat like that in comfortable silence as he digested this information. Today he'd learned that a few months ago their son had reemerged and that a few months ago they'd gotten married. Something big happened a few months ago and he felt like he was still missing something important.

Chapter Text

Author's Note: Like all other author's notes on this story: I am sorry and I intend to get better. I am done with grad apps and am just waiting to hear back, so I am hopeful that I'll have more time to work on my stories. I hadn't been posting much this winter break as I got back into the groove with this story, but I have the next few chapters plotted out - so I promise the gaps in updates will never again be as long as this was. Thank you for your continued support!

1998

"Well, I just figured that maybe, while this is all going on, that it may be best for us to just stick together?"

She'd spent the day contemplating if she'd extend this olive branch to him, going back and forth between worrying about hypotheticals and acknowledging the comfort she'd have with him close by. She let the question tumble from her lips in a rush while picking at a loose thread on her couch.

She could hear the smile in his voice as he eagerly responded, "I don't believe we've ever agreed on a theory so intensely before, Scully."

She was happy with her decision to have a spontaneous, hopefully only, week-long sleepover, but as soon as she heard the words "I'll see you in twenty" she got nervous. She was proud of her apartment, but it suddenly felt incredibly small when imagining sharing it with Mulder.

She'd spent a lot of time around Mulder over the years, she knew a lot about him, but cohabiting with someone was a completely different situation. Normally she feared that he'd start to annoy her. Maybe he'd take too long in the bathroom in the morning or maybe he'd leave the toilet seat up or maybe he'd leave little piles of sunflower seeds around. It wasn't that he would try to annoy her, he could just be a little oblivious.

But now with this new Mulder she had to fear the opposite. He was so thoughtful and considerate of her needs, she feared that their whole time together would consist of him suppressing his own needs in favor of catering to hers.

Another reality that might present itself was one she didn't know how to deal with: it may be perfect. This Mulder apparently already has experience cohabitating with her. He has the potential to do everything she didn't even know she wanted. She didn't know what it would be like after this all got better - when her normal Mulder was back. Would she resent him for not being this perfect version of himself?

Deciding that focusing on the 'what-ifs' wasn't conductive, she spent the half hour of waiting by doing a quick clean of her apartment. Not that it mattered, it was no different than when they left for work this morning, but it helped take her mind off everything.

She'd just started getting out her broom when she heard five rhythmic knocks followed by two answering ones. Rolling her eyes, she closed her cabinet door and walked over to let him in. Scully let out a long nervous breath as she smoothed out her hair and ran her fingers under her eyes to make sure her makeup wasn't smeared. Opening the door, she was met with a relaxed, evening-dressed Mulder carrying his traveling suitcase.

"Hey," he offered with a shy smile.

"Hey," she replied, opening the door for him to come in.

When he walked past her, she noticed he was also carrying a bag from their favorite takeout place behind his back. "I hope you're hungry," he stated, holding the bag up.

"Starved," she answered with a smile, locking the door.

When she turned around, she nearly ran straight into him. He was just waiting at the threshold as if he didn't want to seem too presumptuous by just going in. "Sorry," he laughed, taking a whole singular step back.

She shot him a questioning look before taking the Chinese take-out bags from his hands. "Go get plates, I'll set up in the living room." He smiled, acknowledging the fact she was giving him permission to go into her space, and did as he was told.

She'd already apologized for snapping at him earlier and promised to be more empathetic to his situation, yet he clearly felt like he still needed to walk on eggshells. As she set the bags on the table, trying to decide whether to sit next to him on the couch or take the oft neglected armchair, she could see him in her periphery being as quick and efficient as possible, like an eager puppy.

"I grabbed us some forks too," he called out, walking to the couch as she plopped down on one side.

"Thanks," she beamed, exchanging a fork for the TV remote. "You can choose what we watch."

He sat down on the other side of the couch and tried to find something to watch, pausing for a while on a rerun of Cops before eventually settling on Forensic Files. "Wow, TV's a real guessing game without the on screen menus," he joked to himself quietly. They said relatively nothing as they ate, just occasionally spouting a theory about the case playing out on the TV. But eventually the show ended, going onto something she didn't recognize, and they continued to eat in silence.

"So-" she began, a little uncertain of what to say, but wanting to talk to him. "How are you?" It was a bit of an awkward ice-breaker, but he didn't seem to mind.

He turned to her, smiling softly. "Better," he replied. "How are you?"

She nodded and answered in kind. "Better."

"I was happy you called," he confessed, the blunt honesty he'd been giving her making a return once again. "Thank you again for letting me stay here. I promise I'll try not to impose-" he started.

"You're not imposing, Mulder. I invited you," she corrected.

"But still. You didn't have to, but you did. I know this has to be a lot for you, but you're forsaking your own comfort to make me feel better and it means a lot to me," he replied, looking her straight in the eye as he said it.

She felt her face flush at the intensity of his stare, and she shifted her attention to her food, picking at the fried rice to find the vegetables. She shrugged her shoulders as she stabbed a carrot. "What are partners for," she replied.

He made a sound of acknowledgement that told her he found a few more meanings in the phrase than she had intended. "So, has it been hard adjusting?" she asked. She still felt weird talking about this so frankly. Every cell in her body was trying to find what the 'real' cause of this was, but no answer she thought of seemed to fit. He wasn't delusional, he wasn't crazy, and he wasn't making this up.

He swallowed his food as he shrugged. "If it weren't for the fear of missing out on things back home, and not having the comfort of knowing if this was temporary, I'd actually be enjoying myself."

"Really?" she asked.

He nodded, wiping the corners of his mouth with a napkin. "I feels unreal, being back here, seeing you like this," he rambled. "It's like being in a dream."

There was a beat as she digested his words. Seeing her like what? She thought about asking him what he meant, but she didn't know if she could handle another overly-complimentary remark. Deciding on something more interesting, she asked, "Is there anything you miss about the nineties?"

He smirked and leaned back in his seat, chewing while thoughtfully trying to formulate an answer. "I can't tell if the things I miss are because I really miss them or if my nostalgia is making me ungrateful."

Her eyebrows quirked up at his cryptic answer and she motioned for him to elaborate. "Pray tell."

"I've always been a bit distrusting of technology-" he began.

"No," she exclaimed in fake shock. "You?"

He smiled at her, clearly pleased that she was joking around with him. "I know, I know, shocking. It's just… there's so much instant gratification with the advances. It's easier, I'll admit that, and it makes everything more convenient, but I just miss the novelty of having to wait."

She could tell he was trying to avoid saying things like 'in my time' or 'in the future' to avoid sounding like a bad sci-fi novel, but there was no way of trying to circumnavigate the situation to make it anything other than what it was: weird.

"Example," she demanded, twirling her noodles with her chopsticks.

"You're going to laugh at me," he admitted before taking a bite of his food.

"Maybe," she nodded with a smile.

"If I want to find out the scores to a game, I can just Google it on my phone," he

revealed. "I miss itching to get home so I can turn on the TV and find them. Or passing by random people on the streets and casually asking if they knew. I don't know, it just felt like more of a sense of community."

"Google it on your phone?" she repeated quizzically.

"It's like, uh-" he paused, racking his brain for an answer. "Google is like AltaVista or Yahoo Search. Like, WebCrawler or Lycos, just a search engine for you to find things online," he answered.

"And you can search the internet on your phone?" she asked skeptically.

"Yeah," he nodded. "Phones look a lot different so it's not as jarring as you'd think, but, yeah."

Deciding it was pointless to try to envision technology that didn't exist yet, she asked. "Do you think old people living at this time feel that way about television? They probably think the young people rushing home to just turn on their TV sets have it easy. They might miss the novelty of tuning in on the radio to hear the updates, or getting up in the morning and rushing to check the scores printed in the newspaper," she rambled, opening her fortune cookie.

By the time she looked up, she just caught the tail end of an adoring smile. When he caught her eyes, he turned fake serious, leaning in to ask, "Scully, did you just call me old?"

She smirked at him playfully before putting half the cookie in her mouth, looking down at the slip of paper that was encased. She heard Mulder's crack open as he asked her, "What does it say? Good luck is in your future?"

She laughed around the cookie, swallowing before answering, "Change will come for you. Be prepared."

He hummed in the back of his throat, "That's hopeful." Then, pulling out his own, he followed up with, "A good way to keep healthy is to eat more chinese."

"Prophetic," she joked, letting her paper fall into the remnants of her meal before falling back into the seat.

He unconsciously mimicked her actions, focusing on her as he settled into the couch. "So," he started. "How are you?"

She cocked an eyebrow at him with an amused smirk. "How am I?" she repeated, watching him nod in response. She let out a low sigh and tried to think if she even knew the answer to that. "Fine, I guess."

"Fine?" he questioned with a disbelieving smirk.

"I mean, this isn't all that unusual," she replied.

"Oh, you're right. I forgot about how many times I swapped bodies with my future self back in the day," he joked.

Rolling her eyes good-naturedly, she continued, "No, I mean we're always dealing with something that I can't believe, something that tests my beliefs. While this is a bit more personal and confusing, it's not all that different," she shrugged.

He looked at her for a moment, nodding thoughtfully as she explained herself. "Do you believe me now though?" he asked softly.

"I can tell you're being honest," she replied.

"I'm always honest with you," he smiled. "That doesn't mean you always believe me."

"And you should know I'm always honest with you," she responded with conviction. "The explanation is hard for me to grapple with, but the evidence isn't. The way you reacted at the Gunmen's solidified it for me, but-you're different. You've been different since you called me that morning, and you've been different ever since. You're still Mulder, but-"

"But…?" he prompted, nudging her knee with his own.

She inhaled as she tried to find the right wording. "The only explanation that makes any sense for the behaviors you're exhibiting is that you've matured. If you'd started acting like it was 1978 and you thought you were seventeen, that would make sense. I'd think it was amnesia. Hell, there are even cases of people hitting their head and thinking they were a different person or suddenly had an accent."

She paused and he waited for her to continue, only softly adding, "Except we know I didn't hit my head."

Scully nodded in acknowledgement. "Exactly. I know you wouldn't fake it, and I don't know. I just feel like this has to be the only solution that fits."

She made a small revelation while thinking that she didn't want to admit. It would be one thing if he was talking about this supposed 'future world' and behaving as one would expect an older Mulder to. But he was perfect. He was acting like her dream version of Mulder would. She loved her Mulder, but she couldn't imagine him being so in-tuned to her wants and emotions if she hadn't told him.

His explanation made sense in that context. She wanted to thank the future Scully that formed him into such an attentive version of herself, but part of her was just frankly jealous that she got to live with him everyday. She supposed she possibly had that to look forward to in the future, but twenty years seems so far-

Wait.

"Did you just say you swapped bodies? As in you swapped with your old self? As in the Mulder I know is currently, supposedly, in 2018 with a pregnant version of myself?" she asked, her voice sounding more tense than she meant.

Mulder shook his head as if not believing it himself. "That's what the witch said when I went to her shop."

"First she's an herbalist, now she's a witch?" Scully exclaimed.

"Well, not confirmed, but I'd say she is," Mulder admitted. "It's her fault it happened, and she said that I swapped places with your Mulder."

Scully sat back in her chair and tried to even get her brain to wrap around that. Sensing her conflicting emotions, he offered, "Well, he's with you at least."

"What do you think they're doing?" the words tumbled out of her lips before she could even fully register the obvious jealousy lying beneath them. Mulder probably was really enjoying himself. She couldn't even imagine what a future her would do in the reversed situation of this. Would the Mulder sitting next to her know? Does that mean he really does know her better than she knows herself? "How do you think she's reacting?"

"I think you answered that yourself," he answered, clearly trying to hide a smile as she furrowed her brows at him.

"I don't like riddles," she replied quickly.

He started to lay his arm across the back of the couch, behind her head, as he had at the office earlier in the day. But as if he realized how poorly that had gone for him, he retracted his hand and put it on his lap, shifting uncomfortably. "Well, you said yourself that if I acted twenty years younger, you'd assume amnesia. I'm sure as soon as they woke up, they knew something was off."

She frowned and looked aimlessly at the coffee table. But what else were they doing? She didn't even know what to focus on - him or her. Would the Mulder she know jump at the opportunity to sleep with an older version of herself? Would she sleep with him knowing he had no memory of their years together? "What do you think they're doing?" she asked again.

"Well…" he trailed off, clearly hesitant about something. She shot her attention over to him and caught him picking at his nails, avoiding eye contact.

"What?" she prompted.

"The woman at the shop implied they were, uh, getting along just fine," he answered, shrugging.

"How the hell would she kno-oh. Right. Witch," she answered her own question sardonically.

"You're jealous, aren't you?" The way he asked implied he already knew the answer, but just wanted to hear her say it.

Rolling her eyes, she brushed him off. "Don't be ridiculous. I can't be jealous of myself, after all."

"Hmm," he hummed in the back of his throat, not at all convincing her that he believed what she was saying. Uncomfortable with how transparent she felt her walls were right now, she stood up and gathered their plates. "I can help," he offered, sitting up in his seat.

"No, no. You're fine," she dismissed, rubbing his knees as she passed him. She walked into the kitchen and let out a low breath as she ran her faucet over her dishes.

She heard him getting up and following her path to the kitchen - his feet padding against her floor an odd, audible comfort. She was just moving onto rinsing her forks when he leaned against the door frame. "I wouldn't worry. He's in good hands and past me is probably too busy gawking at all the new future gadgets."

She exhaled a small laugh and turned off the sink, grabbing a hand towel to dry her hands as she leaned against the countertop. "You're right. You're right," she sighed, even though they both knew that probably wasn't the case.

She looked at him for a moment, enjoying the way his jeans hung on his hips while his t-shirt stretched across his chest. She'd probably seen him more relaxed in the past few days than she had for most of their partnership. For the time being, there was nothing she could do but wait. She was ruining what could be a fun break from their day-to-day lives by worrying.

"Should we drive separately tomorrow?" he asked, either not aware of or just not drawing attention to the once-over she'd been giving him.

"What do you mean?" she asked.

"When we go to work tomorrow, do you want to carpool or drive our own cars?" he clarified.

"Why not just go together?" she asked.

He raised his hand as rubbed the back of his neck. "I just didn't know if arriving together for the next however many days would raise any suspicion?"

She knew for a fact he didn't give a damn what people thought. He was just asking out of concern for what she wanted. With a small smile she looked up at him and replied, "Mulder, if you so much as bless me after I sneeze, people expect we're sleeping together. I don't care what they think."

He smiled in response before turning his head away and yawning. She looked over at the microwave and saw 10:13 flashing back in neon green. "It's late. Why don't we get some rest?" He nodded and made his way to the couch as she followed up with, "Do you remember where everything is?"

"Yep," he called out.

She started walking to her room before turning back around and stopping to look into the living room. "Good night, Mulder."

He looked up from what he was doing and smiled at her. "'Night, Scully. I lo-" he stopped himself quickly, looking down with a feigned cough. "Thank you, again."

Rolling her eyes, she turned around and, with a laugh, called out "Stop thanking me!"

Scully washed her face and brushed her teeth before crawling into bed. She laid in the darkness, listening to the distant sounds of Mulder rustling around in the living room as she contemplated their earlier conversation.

He was right. She was jealous. But what really got to her was that she couldn't tell who she was jealous of.

She didn't remember falling asleep, but the light streaming in through the blinds told her she had. Stretching her arms over her head as her legs tried to reach the end, she rolled over and slid out of bed to get ready.

From the sound of it, when she went into the bathroom, Mulder was still asleep, and when she got out of the bathroom thirty minutes later, it was just as silent. She glanced down at her watch and decided that they weren't running incredibly late, but she really needed to go wake him up.

Her intentions to just barge into the living room and shake him were immediately stunted when she actually caught sight of him. The light streaming in, filtered by her curtains, was casting a dull glow over his body, making him appear almost ethereal. Scully felt herself walking on her balls of her feet as to not disturb the serenity of the moment as she walked closer to the foot of the sofa.

She'd forgotten she'd draped her coat over the back of the couch, but it was currently in the crook of the arm closest to the couch as Mulder held it to his body, his face turning in as if he was burying his nose in it. The rest of his body was sprawled in pure relaxation. His other hand was lying idly on his stomach, resting right above where his shirt had ridden up in the night, exposing his muscular adonis belt.

She felt her breath hitch slightly when she saw the blanket covering the area directly below that was tented up. She couldn't tell if it was because the blanket had gathered there or if it was… something else. She moved a little closer, but still couldn't decipher what it was. Not wanting to be caught gawking at her partner's crotch, she looked up to make sure he was still asleep.

And he wasn't.

Scully was immediately met with two hazel eyes staring at her intently while a coy smile tugged at his lips. "Good morning," he rasped, his voice hoarse from lack of use.

She felt her face turn bright red as she darted her eyes to her feet. How long had he been watching her? "I just came to wake you up. We need to be going in twenty. I'll make breakfast," she rambled before sneaking one last glance and rushing to the kitchen, the sound of Mulder's chuckling laughter trailing behind her.

Chapter Text

2018

When she woke up, he was still curled around her, completely exhausted from the conversation they'd had last night. Wanting just a moment to herself, she slithered out of his grasp and tip-toed to the bathroom. When she knew the coast was clear, she flipped on the light switch and caught her reflection in the mirror, getting lost while conducting a facial inventory.

Throughout her whole life she'd had insecurities. The stereotypical concerns about how her thighs looked in her pants, how her stomach rolled when she sat down, how her boobs looked in this top or that - all things that she shouldn't have worried about but spent an inordinate amount of time doing just that. Reflectively, she knew she was being ridiculous, but as she caught sight of the various anti-aging lotions adorning the counter, she knew how easy it was to fall prey to insecurities.

However, at the same time, she knew she was attractive. Sometimes when she looked in the mirror she questioned it, finding it easy to focus on this 'imperfection' or that, but she knew it to be certain when she caught sight of herself in Mulder's eyes. They reflected nothing but truth, and within them, accompanied by the quirk of his lips, she knew she was beautiful.

But what was giving her butterflies in her stomach was the simple fact that he was still making her feel that way. The last time he remembered seeing her, she was thirty four years old. He'd seemed shocked when he first saw her, but not horribly so. She'd caught him frequently just staring at her for long stretches over the past few days, but she'd only called him out on it once and his response was so sweet she kept repeating it in her mind to make herself happy.

"You're so beautiful, it feels like a waste looking at anything else."

It's not like she would ever think Mulder would look at her and express discontent at her features, but he didn't even bat an eye. She knew a few lines and creases made her different from her thirty-four year old self, but they didn't bother him in the least. It just served to prove that he was never just telling her anything to placate her. Mulder found her to be unconditionally beautiful, she was only projecting her own self conscious worries onto him. He'd made disparaging comments about his own aging body, which was understandable due to his shock, but hadn't once made her feel anything less than radiant.

With feather-like tenderness, she touched the lines gracing either side of her mouth. "Those are mine," he'd told her once. At her look, he'd replied, "These are from all the half-smirks you've given me over the years." When he said this, he ran his fingers over one side of her mouth, before moving to the other side and adding, "These are from all the laughs you've had because of my charm and wit."

The memory made her lip quiver as she frowned beneath her fingertips.

She'd gone through hard, hard periods of her life without him. The abduction, his 'death', when he had to go into hiding, and the time when she knew separation would be best. Somehow her heart hurt like it did then, even though he was laying peacefully in their bed a few feet away.

A few gentle knocks on the door made her jump in place. "Scully?" his soft voice came from the other side of the wood.

She turned the knob and opened it to reveal a sleep-disheveled Mulder. "Hey," he croaked, while scratching his chest.

"Good morning," she greeted with a smile before leaning over and pressing a kiss to his lips.

He reciprocated immediately, stepping forward into the doorway while raising his hand to the side of her head. They stayed like that for a few moments until his stubble tickled her nose.

She broke away with a giggle and he couldn't help but smile with her. "What?" he asked curiously, watching her grab her toothbrush.

Scully looked over at him and teased, "Scratchy beard."

He raised his hand up to his face and touched his stubble and her heart sank a little when she realized he didn't know their inside joke. She shook the feeling off and just took a step to the side, inviting Mulder to join her.

They stood there side-by-side as they brushed their teeth, occasionally catching the other's gaze in the mirror and smiling the best they could with a mouthful of toothpaste. She could see an idea brewing in his eyes, and he started as soon as he was done. "Hey, I had an idea for something we could do today, as long as I'm not overstepping or anything."

She realized the fact he brought this 'idea' up first thing in the morning made her think it was something he'd been thinking of for quite a while. She spat out her toothpaste and while rinsing the bristles asked, "What's your idea?"

"I, uh-," he stammered, rubbing the back of his neck nervously. Her gaze flitted to the way the movement stretched his obliques before his voice brought her back. "I noticed the spare room is still pretty packed with stuff and I was wondering if you maybe wanted to start turning it into a nursery?"

She felt her throat clench uncomfortably and her eyes start to sting before she could even begin to curse the emotional side effects of pregnancy. "I'm sorry. Was it something I said?" he rushed, putting his arm around her and pulling her to his chest. The toothbrush clambered in the sink as she dropped it to return his embrace.

"Hormones," she sniffled with a laugh, burying her face into the warmth of his skin.

She felt a few tears fall onto her cheeks as she smiled at Mulder's sweetness. "I would love to," she replied.

"Really?" he asked excitedly.

Scully sniffled and pulled away, picking up her toothbrush to put it away after turning off the faucet. "I'm only four months along, so it's pretty early. But I think it would be good for us," she replied.

In fact, she couldn't think of a better thing for them to do. Instead of aimlessly going about their days trying to navigate the awkwardness of their new situation, this would let them do something productive. To top it all off, going through all that junk in the other room just might help spark some memories.

"I'm sorry I didn't ask this earlier. I feel like an ass, but do we know anything yet? You're four months along, you said? Do we know any details?" he asked.

She nodded her head as she grabbed her brush. "Well I just hit seventeen weeks exactly today, which is good. We've had a busy few weeks since this is a pivotal time in the pregnancy. My chances of miscarrying are very slim now, and that was one of my biggest worries. After twelve weeks the chances go down to five percent. At ten weeks we screened for anything genetic, since the chances of something happening are high at my age, but the results came back absolutely average. The only thing I don't know is the sex, which we could have found out starting last week," she rambled.

He'd been staring at her in concentration the whole time she explained, drinking in every word with reverence. "Do you want to know, or be surprised?"

"I've had to be so hypercritical during this pregnancy, I think it would be nice to have just one thing be a surprise," she replied. "But we could always go in and get it done in case you want to know," she offered, despite the fact he was already shaking his head.

"No way, I'm in this with you all the way, Mama," he teased, taking the comb from out of her hand and taking over.

She let her eyes flutter shut as she enjoyed his attention. "Do you have a secret wish at all?" he asked.

"What do you mean?"

"Are you hoping for a boy or girl?" he clarified.

She shrugged and let her hands fall onto her swollen stomach. "I just want a happy, healthy baby," she replied. "Do you have a secret wish?" she asked, repeating his words.

"Just a happy and healthy baby," he replied in kind before adding. "Well… never mind."

She opened her eyes and saw his reflection in the mirror. He was smiling gently to himself as he just played with her hair. "What?" she prompted.

He caught her gaze in the mirror and smiled at her even more. "I want the baby to look like you," he replied sweetly. "I want a redheaded little kid running around with bright blue eyes." She smiled at his sweet sentiment, reaching to grab one of his hands to bring it over her shoulder and press a kiss to it.

"Can I ask you something?"

"Of course," she murmured, rubbing her thumb over his fingers.

"Did Will-er-Jackson, did he look like you? Or me? Or both?" he asked, his voice softening as if to ease the possible tension the question might bring.

Her lips quirked upwards at the thought, turning around so she could face him, her lower back pressing into the counter. "Well," she began with a playful lilt. "He's a good foot taller than me, for starters."

"Well, that's not a difficult accomplishment," he teased.

She rolled her eyes and nudged him with her knee. "As I was saying. He's tall, brooding, a bit on the existential side, and he has thick brown hair," she explained before running her fingers through his morning mess.

"Brooding?" he repeated playfully. "That's my boy."

Scully smiled sweetly at him and rubbed her hands up and down his arms. They'd never really talked about Jackson before with this much levity and it was freeing. Their old therapist had always said it would be beneficial to their mental health if they spoke about William, Jackson, as if he was out there living the life they dreamt he was leading. That it would help them actualize the choice to give him up as less of a loss and more of a gift to him. They'd ignored that advice, but in this moment she was curious how much better off they might have been if they were more willing to communicate these feelings.

The moment was interrupted as his stomach gurgled loudly between them. They locked eyes and burst out laughing as the moment passed. "How about we go get dressed and go downstairs?" she suggested. "I think we have plenty of eggs and bacon that we can eat before starting on the nursery."

"You sure know the way to a man's heart, Scully," he replied, bending down to kiss her before walking back to the bedroom.

She turned to make sure the sink was put back in order when she caught sight of herself in the mirror, her smile lines beaming at her reflection as a result from his compliment.

Their morning passed by with so much ease, and if it wasn't for Mulder not knowing where anything went in the kitchen, she wouldn't have remembered anything was off. He was able to help her prepare breakfast for the both of them, they made fun of the news anchors on tv as they ate together, and he sat on the counter while she washed their dishes from this morning and last night.

"So," he began, bringing a dish into his lap so he could dry it with a dish towel. "Assuming all goes well, today we can clean out the room, go to the hardware store, and maybe start painting?"

She let the water run over the suds on his mug as she turned to him. "I'd love that. Though, I'm not sure how long it will take to clear out the room."

"We can play it by ear," he agreed, setting the dry dish down before grabbing another wet one. "Tomorrow we can even go to Toys R Us and try to pick up the essentials we don't have." Upon seeing her smirk, he added, "What?"

"I'm sorry to inform you, but Toys R Us went bankrupt. All the stores just shut down last month," she replied with mocking severity.

"No!" he gasped with honest shock. "Are you serious?"

"Yeah, a lot of chain stores like that are closing down or limiting physical locations; Sears, Younkers, JCPenny," she answered.

"That's too bad. I went into Toys R Us every year and signed Frohike up for Geoffery's birthday phone call," he explained with a laugh.

She laughed, imagining how the old man felt when a fictional giraffe called him every year, but she turned her attention to scrubbing the eggs off their frying pan in hopes he wouldn't catch anything melancholy in her expression at the mention of their old friends.

"He… he's not with us anymore. Is he?" Mulder timidly asked. He didn't seem as sad as she thought he might have been. It sounded like something he'd been wondering about for a while.

Scully turned to him, setting the dish aside as she turned off the water. She wiped her hands on his towel before grabbing his arm. Shaking her head, she gently said, "No, he's not. I'm sorry."

He pursed his mouth to the side and nodded his head, trying to accept it the best he could. Despite his efforts, she could hear the strain in his voice with his follow up question. "A-and, Langly and Byers?"

She shook her head and frowned as he attempted to blink away the tears brimming in his eyes, a rebellious one escaping down his cheek. "They all went together in 2002. They made a sacrifice that saved many lives."

That small fact made him smile and she joined him, wiping away his tears with the pad of her thumbs. "They're at Arlington National if you ever want to go see them. We visited a few weeks ago, but you know they always liked our drop by visits."

He chuckled in acknowledgement and nodded his head. "Arlington?" he stated, raising his eyebrows. "Must've been some stunt they pulled."

"Skinner might've had a hand in it," she added with a smile. Upon his look she added, "They really grew on him."

"They had a tendency to do that with everyone they met," he laughed.

She took a step forward, stepping in between his bent legs and hugged his middle. "I'm sorry," she mumbled into his shirt.

He rubbed circles into the back of her shirt, his hand warm from handling the dishes. "To be honest, I'm glad that's how it happened."

"Really?" she prompted, kissing his heart through his shirt before leaning back.

Mulder caught her gaze, not releasing her from his arms. "Yeah. I hope this isn't morbid of me to say, but… I think it would hurt more to see the Three Musketeers become a duo."

She understood the sentiment all too well, it was her own fear with the two of them, so she simply nodded in agreement. He kissed the crown of her head and she could sense there was something else. "Is there-is there anyone else?"

"Both our moms," she replied, her eyes fluttering shut as she tried to keep her emotions at bay.

There was something about bringing a child into the world that always made her appreciate her own parents more. During her last pregnancy with William she felt like she was more reliant on her mother than she'd been in years. The tips on pregnancy and motherhood felt like some of the final big life lessons her mom had to pass on before she became a parent herself, and she'd never felt closer to her.

This pregnancy was so much harder without her. Every milestone she passed just reminded her of when she was going through it the first time with her mother. Mulder was great, but she often wished she could have them both.

She clenched her jaw to keep it from quivering, but the tears escaped her eyes anyway. "Oh, Scully," he exhaled, sliding off the counter to pull her into his arms. "I am so sorry," he murmured.

She knew he was. Mulder had often told her over the years that he loved her mom. She loved him and always went above and beyond to make sure he felt like part of the family. Even now, he was compartmentalizing his feelings of his own mother's passing in favor of comforting her over her's. Though, she had a feeling his sentiments would have changed if he knew the circumstances surrounding his mother's death.

"I miss her," she whimpered, feeling a few more hot tears stream down her cheeks.

He was silent for a moment before he gently said, "I bet she and your dad are somewhere together, reunited, dancing to Beyond the Sea, and smiling down at you."

A sob escaped her throat as she smiled against his shirt, her tears dampening the light blue fabric. Mulder was not a religious man, but when he tried to say things that he thought might give her comfort, it meant the world to her. "Thank you, Mulder."

With a loud sniffle, she pulled back and wiped the tears from her face. "Enough of that," she said with a choked laugh. "I want today to be fun, for us and for our baby."

He smiled sweetly at her and picked up the dish towel again, using a free hand to give her the Vulcan Salute. "Scout's honor. Let's get it done."

She indulgently mimicked the salute at him and nodded. "Sounds good. I'm going to go survey the war zone."

Mulder said he was just going to finish drying the dishes and he'd meet her up there in a few minutes. Kissing him on the cheek, she agreed and started walking down the hallway and up the stairs. The walls were adorned with miscellaneous pictures of them with friends and family - all candid shots since they'd never taken the effort to do any sort of official couples photos. The closest thing they had was a shot of them he'd taken with his phone timer; the most technologically advanced thing she'd seen Mulder master with his phone.

It was just a simple photo of them sitting together on the porch swing, a few documents scattered on a nearby table as they kissed. It was the closest thing they had to a wedding shot being they filled out the paperwork and sent it in. They said their makeshift vows, exchanged rings, and had their honeymoon all on that porch swing after that photo. Come to think of it, it was such a casual photo, she wasn't sure if Mulder even saw any significance in it right now.

She took her attention from it as she continued on her mission. It was the little things like the pictures that helped make the home feel so small and intimate, despite how large and roomy it actually was. As two people who needed time to themselves every now and then, a big place was something they'd both wanted. He had an office, she had her own, and then they had all the communal spaces of their room, the bathrooms, the living room, kitchen, dining area, and basement. There were so many rooms in the house, one might think it was easy to overlook the room at the end of the upstairs hallway, especially since there was no real reason to pass by it.

The wooden boards creaked in resistance underneath her feet, used to being neglected for long stretches of time. For a moment she wondered if Mulder might've locked the door, and was relieved when the old doorknob turned in her hand. She stepped in the room, despite her feet feeling like lead, and was met with the stale smell of stagnation and dust.

They just...didn't use this room. They never had a formal agreement on it or anything, they just never really needed it. Then when she moved back in, he'd cleaned the whole place from top to bottom, presumably to make it more presentable to her. He did a great job, except for the fact everything he didn't know what to do with ended up in this room, making it a large scale version of a kitchen junk drawer. Usually it didn't bother her, she had no reason to use this room, but everytime she saw it she was just reminded that Mulder's version of cleaning was essentially that of a kid who cleans his room by shoving everything under his bed.

But, being honest with herself, she knew why the room itself had become a metaphorical elephant in the room for both of them. It would be perfect for a kid's room. She thinks it brought them both comfort to be able to project their own 'what ifs' onto the vacant room. What if William was with them? What if they adopted? What if they tried again? She'd caught him glancing down the hall with a melancholic look in his eyes enough to know it was something he did too. And when the 'what ifs' got painful, they could just turn the other way and pretend like it wasn't there.

Out of sight, out of mind only works for so long.

She trudged through the room, trying to make her way towards the window so she could air it out. The window sill creaked a little in protest before lifting. The cool air breezed past her as she stuck her head outside tentatively. They'd initially moved so far out due to the necessity of keeping Mulder safe and tucked away, but it quickly became evident his remark in Home, Pennsylvania was true.

"You know, my work demands that I live in a big city, but if I had to settle down, build a home... be a place like this."

It suited him. She looked out across the large expanse of green grass and tall forestry that adorned their backyard. They'd had so many cookouts and bonfires in the backyard those first few years they lived here. He'd claimed it was so they could start making memories in their new home, but really she just thought domesticity suited him and he'd never had the opportunity before to know that about himself.

"The sky's so clear here," a voice murmured from over her shoulder.

Without moving from her spot, his arms encircled her waist and his head rested on hers. "It is," she replied, covering his arms with her own.

"I feel like we're in a Disney movie," he mused.

She let out a little chuckle at his statement as she raked her nails over the hairs on his arms. "Oh yeah?" she asked.

"Look at all the little woodland creatures," he explained. "The birds are singing, squirrels are running around, I saw a bunny earlier - I swear, all that's left is finding the Smurf Village amongst the mushrooms over there and we'll have a full collection," he joked before leaning down and pressing kisses to her temple. "But more importantly, there's a beautiful princess here."

She giggled and let him lean against her more, almost swaying like a dance behind her. "Do you like it here?" she asked softly, noticing the way he stilled a bit.

"Do I like it?" he repeated. She nodded and he retracted his arms from under hers, placing his hands on her arms so he could turn her around and press her against the window frame with his body.

He tucked a strand of hair behind her ear before leaning down and stealing a kiss. She felt the hair he'd just put behind her ear fly up as the breeze blew behind her, making her hair dance against his cheeks. Mulder smiled against her mouth and pulled back, catching her tendrils before pressing them to the sides of her head, keeping her gaze on him.

"I've never felt like I had a home before," he started. "Maybe when I was little, but-" he shook his head and shrugged, not needing to rehash what they both knew. "Even in my apartment, it was just a place to be. Somewhere I kept my stuff and could relax. But this," he emphasized the word by turning around and motioning to everything around them before looking back to her, his eyes softening as he really took her in. "It's our home, Scully."

"I love you, Mulder," she whispered, so softly she feared her sentiments blended in with the wind chimes tinkling melodically below them.

"I love you too," he replied, pulling her against them as dust motes danced in the light all around them.

They stood there for a while, simply letting their heartbeats sync as they breathed each other in. She felt Mulder twist a little as he aligned his mouth with her ear. "But I think we should put up a basketball hoop in the driveway."

She laughed against him and pulled back, taking in his mirthful expression. "I'm not opposed," she replied, pulling away and putting her hands on her hips. "But before we talk about any renovations, we need to clean this room."

He looked around and surveyed the task before them. "I'm going to take a shot in the dark and say this mess is my fault."

"Um, well," she started before foregoing any sugarcoating. "Yeah, yeah it is," she laughed, gathering her short hair and putting it up in a ponytail.

"I must say, it's not as bad as I anticipated. What do we have? Ten? Fifteen boxes?" he asked, surveying the room.

"I think you're right. I think it's just how they're haphazardly scattered and disheveled."

His eyes lit up as he turned towards her. "Do we have an attic?"

Scully chuckled and side-eyed him, easing herself onto the ground near a few boxes. "No, I'm sorry. We don't have another room in the house for you to move all this junk to."

He laughed in jovial acquiescence and sat down next to her, pulling a box close to him and starting to open it up. As she looked at the boxes, she saw each one was delicately labeled by Mulder's scrawled hand.

SCULLY - PAPERWORK

MULDER - OLD APT. BRIC A BRAC

HOME VIDEOS

She traced the black sharpie line delicately with the pad of her index finger, as if tracing the words would somehow evoke the image of Mulder as he sat here, who knows how many years ago, compartmentalizing their stuff with so much precision that she knew she must have been in his mind as he did it.

She opened the one labelled SCULLY - PAPERWORK and was disappointed to find there wasn't anything interesting. It was just filled with old documents of hers Mulder inevitably stumbled across and didn't know what to do with. All of these documents were things that she could either find online or their importance was diminished by technological advances: journal articles she'd printed for old research, stray receipts, paycheck stubs, and other miscellaneous billing statements.

Scully looked at each document before throwing it in the trash bin, just to make sure Mulder didn't think this was a good place to keep the deed to the house or anything of the sort. In the time she focused on doing that, she hadn't realized Mulder had been moving from box to box, opening each one but not making a move to sort anything. It wasn't until she was breaking down the paperwork box that she heard a peep from him and noticed what he'd been doing.

"Scully?" he prompted.

"Yeah," she asked, folding the cardboard.

"I don't think I can do anything useful on my own," he explained.

She had been so focused on the prospect of these items sparking some sort of memory for him, she hadn't contemplated the consequences if they didn't. "You don't want to throw anything away and regret it later?" she asked, clarifying if she understood him correctly.

"Yeah," he replied with the nod of his head.

"There's nothing that sticks out as a dead give away?" she inquired. "The box I just went through was nothing but paperwork."

He shrugged and looked around. "Well," he began. "I mean, aside from the things that just draw a blank, there's stuff here that I recognize, but I don't know why I hadn't thrown it out long ago.

"Like what?"

He looked around before pulling out two pale blue teacups that looked vaguely familiar, but she couldn't for the life of her recall what they were from. "These are from my apartment, but it's not like they were special to me for any reason."

"Yeah, me either," she murmured discontentedly. Skinner had gotten them a nice dish set years ago as a 'congratulations-on-not-being-a-fugitive-anymore-enjoy-your-home' present. They kept a few mugs and pieces of china that meant something to them up in the cupboards, but yet he clearly wanted to keep these. She realized that she couldn't be the final decision on these matters. She didn't feel comfortable delegating his keepsakes to a trash can because she didn't know the sentiments they held.

"So should I throw them away?" he asked, motioning towards the trash can.

"No… no," she mumbled with the shake of her head before telling him what she was thinking.

"That's true," he agreed. "I don't want to throw something out that means a lot."

They sat there in silence, looking around awkwardly as their big plan for the day came to a halt.

"It's too bad we don't have that attic," he joked, rubbing his hand across his stubble.

"It is," she nodded before a lightbulb went off in her head. "But we do have an extra closet across the hall," she stated with a lilt.

"Should we stack them up in there and save sorting them for a rainy day?" he asked, already standing up despite his knees' loud protest. With a smile, she nodded and accepted his help up. He took one of the unopened boxes and walked out of the room to start the process.

He'd only been gone for less than a minute when he found something to get into.

"Scully," his voice called out from the other room.

"What?" she called back, redo-ing her ponytail so she could tie up the fallen strands.

Instead of answering, he appeared in the doorway holding a clear mason jar filled with multi-colored gummies. "Do we do drugs now?"

A burst of laughter escaped her lips as she rolled her eyes. "Oh absolutely. I held off for so many years, and then figured life's short so I should start while I'm fifty and pregnant."

"I knew you had an adventurous side," he joked, opening the jar and smelling the contents. His face twisted as he looked up at her with confusion. "Wh-So... Are you sure these aren't drugs? They smell like a head shop."

"Well, as far as I'm aware, you did get them from a head shop. Some, I believe the term you used was non-traditional herbalist, sold you some medicinal-gummies that would act as a good luck charm for the baby if I ate them," she explained, re-taping some of the boxes.

"Are they working?" he asked with a lilt in his voice.

She turned to him with an incredulous look. "Seriously?"

"What," he asked, smiling widely as he took an orange one out. "They're probably just rebranded One-A-Day Women's," he shrugged.

"Usually when I ingest things, especially while pregnant, I like a little more certainty than 'probably'," she laughed.

"Should I take one?" he teased, smelling it again before grimacing.

"No, Mulder. I don't want to deal with you tripping out on some strange drug gummy. That one time was enough," she stated, leaning down to pick up a box.

Not wanting her to lift anything he deemed too heavy, he tossed what he was holding into the trash bin as he made his way across the room to take the box from her. His eyes lit up when her last sentence dawned on him. "Wait, so we did try drugs together? Now that's a story I want to hear."

Chapter Text

1998

Mulder tucked the blanket around Scully carefully, making sure he didn't disturb her as he eased his arms around her to lift her sleeping body into his arms.

His heart was still residually beating fast from their earlier conversation. It felt like they'd been dancing around saying something big. Relationship-changing big. But when he looked over and saw she'd fallen asleep, he couldn't even be disappointed. No matter what, she was here. With him. All the choices they'd made in their lives somehow led them to this moment: Dana Katherine Scully sitting next to him and implying this was exactly where she felt like she was destined to be.

He felt like the luckiest man alive.

The wind outside was howling against the windows as he carried her to his bedroom, the only other sounds being his footsteps and the occasional gurgling of the fishtank. He gently nudged open the door to his bedroom and made his way to the mattress. Without disturbing her, he pulled back the covers and eased her into the bed, only pausing to coax her blazer down her arms and ease her onto her back. Mulder tossed the garment onto his ottoman before turning his attention back to Scully.

She shifted slightly, nuzzling herself into the cotton sheet beneath her. He stood there, keeping vigil at her bedside as he took in the powerful image of Scully lying comfortably in his bed. How many times had he imagined this exact thing? Deciding not to linger for too long, he pulled the covers up over her lithe form as he bent down and pressed a kiss to her temple, inhaling the smell of her. Just one of the many things he'd commit to his memory for when he revisited this moment in his mind.

As he pulled back, he felt a small hand encircle his wrist, encouraging him to stay. He looked down and saw Scully's blue eyes, enhanced by the soft light spilling in through the curtains, gazing at him bright and wide, an invitation in their depths that her mouth had yet to vocalize.

Mulder eased his hip down so that he was sitting on the bed next to her, looking down as a slow smile came to her face. She lifted her hand up and stroked his cheek lovingly, inevitably feeling the way his muscles moved as he smiled beneath her palm. "I thought you might be more comfortable in here," he whispered, afraid his voice might disturb the delicate balance of the moment - tipping the scales towards the past rather than the future she seemed to be contemplating.

She eased herself up so she was sitting, facing him. Her hand had migrated from his cheek to his hand, and they sat like that for a while - staring into each other's eyes as the sounds of the night accompanied them. "I never realized how wrong all the other choices were until I realized what the right one felt like," she whispered, squeezing his hand with her smaller one.

He moved his other hand to their combined ones so that he was clasping her hands in his own. Encouraged by this, she continued, "Fate, inevitability, God's will, luck - whatever you want to call it. It brought us together."

They never were good at communicating, but when they did, the words always mattered.

'You've kept me honest... you've made me a whole person.'

'You're my constant. My touchstone.'

Now, looking into his eyes with a confidence their relationship had never seen: "I'm tired of pretending I don't want to be with you."

She said it so softly he could have mistaken it being his own sentiments echoing in his ears. He didn't need to believe in the extraordinary to realize this was a pivotal night in their relationship. The air between them felt charged like the ground before lightning. "Wh-what do you mean?" he breathed. He wasn't an idiot. He knew, but maybe it was simply in honor of the past seven years of climbing this mountain, he wanted to give her one final chance to back out before they jumped off the cliff for good.

Her lips quirked up in a sentimental smile that said she was done taking those outs. It wasn't New Years. He wasn't drugged. They weren't pretending. This was Fox Mulder and Dana Scully, finally finding the biggest truth of them all.

He couldn't hear anything but his heart beating in his ears as she leaned forwards, her own breath hitching as she closed the gap between them.

Finally.

Usually when he was awakened from this dream, this memory of their first time, it was to the sensations of his wife's soft body beckoning him for something just as great. However, this time he opened his eyes against the harsh light, only to see the same Scully he'd just seen in his dreams standing in the flesh before him. Only the eyes of a woman willing to take what she wanted were replaced by that of a woman repressing those wants.

Scully hadn't noticed him quite yet, instead, she seemed focused on his crotch. He didn't need to look down to know he was sporting serious morning wood. Her head cocked to the side as she took in the sight with appreciation, unconsciously licking her lips. For all he knew, this was the first time she'd ever seen him in a position so intimate. She was clearly tense, only enjoying this moment under the guise that he'd never know. He wanted to tell her she didn't have to be shy, that she didn't have to be nervous around him, but just like always, he wanted the ball to be in her court for matters like this.

However, her unabashed appreciation of his body brought a smile to his lips - a smile she saw for herself as her eyes met his. "Good morning," he rasped, his voice hoarse from lack of use.

Scully's eyes widened before they shot to look down at her feet, shifting nervously from side to side, but even from this perspective he could see her face was flushing from embarrassment at being caught. "I just came to wake you up. We need to be going in twenty. I'll make breakfast," she rambled.

Before she left, she glanced at his form one last time, seemingly just as appreciative as before. The amount of timidity in her demeanour made him laugh lightly while he watched her scurry into the kitchen. He wasn't used to catching her off guard, and the fact he did by catching her ogling his erection made him irrationally happy.

Speaking of his erection, it was still pulsing with need as he eased his legs over the side of the couch. Mulder disentangled himself from the blanket covering his legs and gently laid Scully's coat over the back of the couch, where he'd inevitably stolen it from to cuddle with in his sleep.

In record speed, he grabbed some clothes to change into and made his way into the bathroom. In the mirror, he caught sight of why Scully was gawking. His erection was lewdly tenting his pants and he could see a damp spot on the fabric. "Jesus," he gasped as he eased his pyjamas over himself.

Of all the things he had to adjust to in this situation, this was one of the most taxing. He'd forgotten how easy it was for him to get hard around her, not that he didn't nowadays, but this felt like he was in the body of a teenager with hormones flaring inside himself that he couldn't control. With age had come a better handle over his libido; luckily he didn't have any sort of erectile dysfunction, Scully knew that better than anyone, but he didn't pop a boner every time she so much as smiled at him a certain way.

The past few days had brought all the memories of having to hide his erections from her. Tucking himself into the waistband of his pants, covering himself with his coat, telling her he needed to 'finish something' before he'd stand up - he slowly had become an aficionado in the art of arousal-concealment over the years. However, this one he currently had wasn't one that would be easily willed away.

Wasting no time, he jumped into the shower and let his hand drift over his abdomen and past his pubic mound, reaching until he was wrapping his hand firmly around his erection, tugging it as he worked himself back up to full mast.

Not that it was a difficult task. He still could vividly see the visage of her standing at the foot of the couch, that hungry curiosity brimming in her gaze. It felt taboo to think about her like this, like some innocent virgin. But this Scully had never shared such intimacy with him yet, and that made it all the more thrilling. He knew how good they were together, how much their bodies complimented the other perfectly, but she didn't. He felt like the serpent in the Garden of Eden, all he wanted to do was slither around her body and beckon her to take a bite of the apple.

How would she react if he had eased himself up on the couch, grabbed her hand, and pulled her soft, pliant body flush against his? He imagined she might slap him, but there was something in her eyes this morning that seemed like she might have enjoyed it more than he'd anticipated.

He imagined her crystal blue eyes widening as she shifted against him, her nerves making her tremble as she felt his arousal press against her. His breath quickened as he fantasized about the sensation of her timid mouth pressing against his own, her hands exploring her body like she was trying to commit every curve to memory.

The thought caused him to have to lean over, placing one hand on the tiled wall, as his hand started to move in a flurry of motion. The smell of her was overwhelming in the confined space, and he felt like he was drowning in his desire. God, he wanted her.

What would she have done if he'd shoved his pants around his ankles, kicking them off in his desperation to get to her. Would she have wasted no time ripping off her work attire, eager to finally bare herself to him? Would she want to wait for him to do it for her? Or would she have wanted him so badly that she would just reach between her legs, tear her panties down, and beg him to fuck her just like that, in the same outfit she'd go to work in, sitting across from him for the next eight hours as she throbbed at the memory of him losing himself inside her?

"Ah! Sc-ully," he gasped as he came hot and spurting into his hand, his come coating the wall in front of him until it was washed down by the spray of the shower.

He let himself fall forward slightly, his forehead resting against the cool tile as he tried to catch his breath. He stroked himself idly a few more times, making his hips twitch in protest at the sensory overload before he let himself go. His erection hit his stomach one last time before it began softening back to normal.

In the distance, he could hear Scully moving around in the kitchen and, with the sobering consciousness that usually hit one post-orgasm, he realized she'd told him to be quick and that he might be causing them to run late. Along with that realization, guilt started gnawing at his now-cleared head as he contemplated whether it was all right for him to think about the Scully in the other room in that way. It was one thing for him to fantasize about their first time with his own wife, but this felt different.

Deciding that it was useless to chastise himself over a fantasy, he quickly washed his hair and his body, triple checking to make sure he didn't leave anything he shouldn't on the shower wall. Afterwards, he got dressed and met Scully out in the kitchen; guilt settling over him when he noticed she was almost done with her meal.

"Sorry it took so long," he apologized, rubbing his hair haphazardly with a towel. "I just wanted to be thorough."

She gave him a pointed look and he realized his earlier moan didn't go unheard. "Thorough?" she repeated. "Funny, that's what my teenage brothers called it too," she teased.

"Sorry," he chuckled with a grimace. She held up her hand and offered him a smile to show she really wasn't offended.

"Are you going to do more paperwork today?" she asked. "I think Kersh's assistant nearly keeled over when I dropped off all those finished case reports yesterday."

He chuckled in amusement and nodded lightly, taking her offering of scrambled eggs so he could scarf them down. "Yeah, sorry you did the brunt of it. I was just a little overwhelmed being back."

"That's okay," she replied, scraping up the remainder of her eggs into the middle of her plate. "Do you think it'll be easier for you today?"

He nodded, chewing his mouthful before answering. "I think so, and I promise to be on my best behavior."

She waved her hand in dismissal, clearly still embarrassed for lashing out at him. "I think this is the most well behaved I've ever seen you," she chuckled to herself.

Scully was right. When they eventually left and carpooled in together, no one batted an eye. The agents they walked past in the garage and in the security line didn't even give them a second glance. It was like he and Scully were a package deal and just seeing one of them would have been more unusual than seeing them together.

She seemed pleased by this too, occasionally passing him small smiles of 'I told you so.' He put his hand on the small of her back and led her down the hall to the elevator as he gawked around at all the sights.

"Is it how you remember it?" she asked, knowing what he was doing.

He looked down and saw she'd been watching him as they walked. "To be honest, yes. It looks the exact same as it did the last time I came."

She laughed and pressed the call button for the elevator. "Well it's good to know that the government's poor upkeep of its own buildings is a timeless constant."

He laughed with her, watching how her eyes squinted as she did so, when an idea struck him. "Can I take you out to lunch?" he blurted, watching her profile to gauge her reaction.

Her eyebrows shot up in pleasant surprise and it brought a smirk to his lips. "Really?" she asked, tilting her head up towards him.

She was closer than he was used to, and he presumed it was because Scully, his wife, had long ago banished high heels from her day-to-day wardrobe. "It's a miracle I can get my swollen pregnancy-feet into slippers, let alone these death traps."

"Of course, Scully," he reassured with a smile. "After all, you treated me to breakfast."

She laughed and rolled her eyes. "Oh yeah, those three eggs really broke the bank for me. I mean, what was that? Thirty cents?" she bemoaned sarcastically with amusement.

He chuckled alongside her, shifting his weight onto the foot nearest her so he could bump her body with his in a gentle nudge.

"Agents," a booming voice called out from behind them, making both of them jump apart like they'd been electrocuted. Turning around, they were met with the amused face of Skinner walking towards them. "Sorry, didn't mean to scare you."

"Good morning, sir," Scully greeted politely, pulling at the hem of her blazer and smoothing out her skirt.

"Morning," Mulder added, smiling as the man stopped in front of them. It was amazing how young he looked now.

Skinner looked between the two of them before stating, "I trust your, um, anemia is getting better, Agent Scully? You look better."

Mulder watched as Scully turned towards him to shoot him a glare for the embarrassing cover story he'd made up yesterday. "Yes, sir," she replied, turning back to Skinner. "I feel much better now. Thank you."

Skinner nodded, seemingly pleased by this. "I know I'm catching you guys right as you come in, but I just wanted to give you a heads up that Kersh is calling a meeting."

"When?" Scully asked.

Skinner looked at his watch before looking back at them "Five minutes."

He told them what conference room it was in, and let them know he wasn't sure what it was about. They thanked him before heading to his own office.

"Do you think we're in trouble?" Mulder murmured, following her down the labyrinth of corridors.

"I don't know," she shrugged, her heels acting as a battle drum of their arrival on the linoleum. "I don't know why Skinner went out of his way to tell us." He shot her a sideways glance, waggling his eyebrows, which caused her to exclaim "He. Does. Not. Have. A. Crush. On. Me."

He chuckled at her insistence as he opened the door for her. "You keep tellin' yourself that, Scully," he whispered as she passed by him.

The conference room had been buzzing with conversation, but drastically died down when the pair of spooky agents walked in and sat down. Not only did the other agents start to act differently, but he noticed Scully's demeanor shifted. She was tenser than he'd seen her since coming back. Her hackles were raised as she glanced around the room, her mouth set in a firm line.

He never recalled her being this anxious in these types of meetings, but he honestly was having a hard time recalling if he ever paid much attention to her in these meetings, as much as it pained him to admit. From what he recalled, he usually put on a mask of indifference as a defense mechanism to get them over with as soon as possible.

"Agent Mulder, haven't seen you in a while," a voice called from across the table.

His focus had been on Scully when this was said, and he saw the effects of it paint her face. Her ears perked up as her face tensed, her nostrils flaring in obvious irritation. Now her behaviour made more sense. She was a protective mama bear ready to kill.

He turned to the voice and saw it was a younger agent he might have remembered at one point, but the years had eroded any memory. At attention being given, the kid added, "See any UFOs lately?"

A few of the others chuckled even though that wasn't even a strong jab. He could feel Scully straighten up in her chair, and he spoke to try and diffuse the situation. "Funny," he placated. "But I assure you that our work has a wider purview than the pigeon hole you've put it in."

"Oh, I'm sorry. Did I forget to mention BigFoot?" the kid goaded.

A few more laughs and he could sense more attention was being drawn to the conversation. Mulder showed no outwards signs of irritation, simply nodded and waited for the snickering to die down. "Sasquatch, yes," he deadpanned. "Also, death fetisihists, cult extremists, serial killers, violent offenders, sexual deviants, not to mention all the cases your departments require my assistance with to make a simple profile."

The room fell silent at his words. He wasn't wrong. Even when the X-Files were in full swing, he often was requested to consult with other departments that needed his profiling expertise. Hell, he wasn't one to gloat, but Scully had once told him that one of his profiles was used as required reading during her training at the academy, reading that all of these rookies in the room no doubt had to read and learn from.

"Excuse me, I'm sorry to interrupt," Kersh's voice boomed from the other side of the room. "But I didn't call this meeting to go over Mulder and Scully's CV."

Mulder saw the kids who'd formerly been gloating tuck their tails between their legs as they shut up. Mulder turned and caught Scully playing with her hands in her lap, trying her hardest to suppress a smile. While Kersh began thanking everyone for showing up, Mulder used the foot nearest to her to lightly nudge her calf, getting her attention. As their eyes met, the smile finally broke free and he felt a warmth spread through his chest. A Scully-smile caused by him was always a treat.

He felt a high heel poke his leg before she diverted her attention back to the meeting. Mulder could tell she was significantly less on edge than she had been before and he was curious if it was because Kersh was here to shut anything down, but as he saw a few agents glance their way, he figured that wasn't true.

Slowly, as the meeting progressed, he started to think it was how he'd reacted to the situation. He made it evident that it didn't matter to him what the others thought without aggravating the situation - something he might not be able to say about his younger self. Whatever he did right, he was glad because it led to Scully looking over to give him an occasional smirk or glance far more than she normally would.

The meeting overall took about four hours, and honestly could have been summarized in an email brief - as most meetings can be. They were going to be sent out to the Illinois field office for a required communication conference, presumably like the one they'd missed when they made that detour into the forest.

When they went to lunch, Scully voiced what had been the elephant in the room since they left. "Kersh really must hate us," she lamented before shoving some pasta into her mouth.

"Correction," Mulder began, swallowing his bite before continuing. "He hates me, I think he has hopes for you, but you just piss him off with your unending loyalty to a good cause."

"You being that 'good cause'?" she laughed.

He bowed his head lightly in answer and she rolled her eyes at him jovially. "No matter what this is, it has to be better than asking a bunch of twentysomethings if they know what reefer is, or asking angry farmers if we can see their receipts for cow shit," he admitted.

"And just when I was getting used to the smell," she sighed sarcastically.

They sat in amiable silence for a while as they ate. Mulder had told Scully to choose any place she wanted, and she ended up choosing a little pasta place called Buon Cibo Italiano. He'd tried to tell her that place was out of business despite her protests, but he was proven wrong when they drove past and the place was adorned with grand opening signs.

"I'm sorry this is when you came back," she stated out of the blue.

"What do you mean?" he asked.

"I mean," she shrugged. "I don't know anything about our future, but this seems to be an all-time low. I mean, wouldn't you have rather come back when we worked on the X-Files?"

"You're right," he said with exaggerated severity. "Every night when I go to bed I think to myself; 'what I wouldn't do to see Flukeman's face? Just one more time?'"

She was drinking when he said this and laughed into her cup, resulting in water splashing back into her face. "Sorry," he apologized while laughing at her.

"Okay, but really though," she stated between giggles, wiping her face with her napkin. "If you could have chosen when you could go back in time during the X-Files, when would it have been?"

He took a bite of his lasagna and sat back, chewing as he thought. What would he have wanted to re-live? For a moment he thought of William. What might have been different if he'd stayed. When he'd initially broken the news about wanting to get back to his pregnant Scully, she was clearly shaken and upset. To be honest, he thought that had been the biggest obstacle they'd had to work around. She clearly couldn't believe that this future Scully could ever be her because as far as she was aware, she was infertile. Hell, the death of Emily was a recent wound that had barely any time to heal. He'd been describing the life she'd always wanted and thought she'd never have.

She sat across from him now with a small smile, raising her eyes as if to say 'well?' And even though he had plenty of things he'd imagined doing over: staying with her and William, refusing to go to Bellefleur, telling her how he felt so much sooner; he couldn't say that. He didn't want to cause her any pain.

"That's a loaded question, Scully," he remarked.

"Nothing off the top of your head?" she mused.

"Well there's a lot of things we've done in our time together that I would enjoy repeat performances of," he said with a wag of his eyebrows.

She rolled her eyes with a smile and added, "Seriously."

"I am being serious," he deadpanned. At her pointed look, he raised his hands in surrender and thought of a better answer. "Well, I don't know. I wouldn't necessarily do anything completely differently, because retrospectively it feels important in one way or another, even the bad. But I think I would have made sure you felt more valued."

She looked shocked at his answer, and it made his stomach twist to think this might be the first time he'd said something like that to her. "How so?" she prompted.

"I know there were a lot of times in the past where I've run off without telling you, or taken cases without asking if you were busy, or just overall taken what you do for granted. If I could go back, I'd make sure you never felt like I considered you anything less than my equal partner," he explained, looking at her with conviction.

"Mulder," she exhaled, breaking his eye contact as she digested his words. For a moment he thought he might have offended her until she turned back and he saw she was just trying not to get emotional in public. "Thank you," she said in a strained voice while reaching for her water. "I know you care," she added softly.

He nodded, waiting until she was done drinking before he stated: "But you never should have had to ask why you don't have a desk."

She digested his words and offered him a sweet smile. "That was a good answer," she nodded before teasing, "No wonder I end up marrying you."

Mulder laughed and the comfortable silence fell back over them. He wasn't sure what in particular was causing this switch in her attitude towards him, but it was doing wonders in easing his homesickness. They finished up not too long after that and made their way back to the office.

He felt bad for leaving the office without doing much work yesterday, so today he cracked down - hoping to continue his streak of being on her good side. At first, he was pretty sure she thought he was up to something since he was being so quiet, but when she realized he was just wrapping up as much paperwork as he could, she gave him a pat on the back and let him be.

When they'd gotten back to her place, he made them something to eat for dinner before she said she wanted to take a bath. In that time, he glanced around at her living room and took in all the little knick knacks and eccentricities that usually only lived in his memories. He'd never really appreciated the fact she was able to keep so many plants alive at her place. They were out and about so many times, but they were all clearly loved and taken care of. She also had so many books laying on her bookshelf, each showing a bit of wear and tear from obvious love - Moby Dick, Breakfast at Tiffany's, Bleak House. It seemed like practically every flat surface was adorned with framed photos of her family and loved ones, including one of him from a small party they had at the Gunmen's. She just had so many things that made her apartment a home, especially when compared to his own messy bachelor pad.

He wasn't sure how much time had passed when he heard the bathroom door creak open. Deciding he didn't want to be caught going through her stuff, he jumped onto the couch and pretended to be engrossed in the movie playing on screen.

Mulder listened as her bare feet padded against her floor until she was right next to him. "Hey," she greeted.

"Hey," he replied, smiling back at her.

"It's just a few days now, right?" she asked him as she plopped down next to him on the couch, her business attire replaced in favor of a green silk pajama set, a bare face, and damp hair.

It was a quick topic shift for him, but he realized it was something that she must've been thinking about while she was trying to relax. "That's what she told me," he nodded. "You'll have a lot to fill him in on before you guys take off for that conference," he said in reference to her Mulder.

"Are you scared?" she asked, putting up her feet on the coffee table, her little

toes reflecting a pale, pink pedicure.

"About what?" he asked, putting his feet up on the table next to hers to amuse himself with the drastic size difference.

She laughed lightly and twisted her foot to the side so she could tap her feet against his. "What if you can't get back to her? Or if you get back and things are... different."

It was a thought he'd had many times throughout all of this, and it never failed to make his stomach churn. He looked over at her and saw she was looking at him with timid curiosity in her eyes, and he didn't have the heart to express just how devastated that outcome would make him.

"Well," he started. "To put it simply: yes. I'm very scared I won't be able to get back."

Her gaze flitted downwards and she collected her hands in her lap, beginning to pick at her nails. While she'd been distant and shut off initially when this all happened, they'd developed a fun rapport and he could tell he was growing on her. To the point where he could sense the idea of losing him was akin to losing a close friend.

"As far as if I'm scared things will be different… yeah. Yeah, that scares me too. I mean, I've just invested so much. We've been through so much. I think we finally have a chance at real happiness and I want to be there for it. We earned it," he admitted.

He saw her nodding thoughtfully, but she was staring ahead so that her face was slightly obscured from his vision. There was a long stretch of silence and he felt compelled to add, "But I'm also scared I won't remember this." This made her turn to face him, a questioning look in her eyes. "I mean, as stressful as this has been, I've loved my time with you."

A small smile graced her lips and he could see she was getting tired as her eyes were slightly hooded, but she was attentive all the same. "Really?" she asked.

"Yeah, I mean, who wouldn't? You're great company," he replied, brushing some hair away from her face.

Her eyes shut as his fingers grazed her cheek. "I wonder how many possibilities there are?" she murmured.

"What do you mean?" he asked, letting his hand fall back into his lap.

"If you stayed here, it more or less still is your life, just another version of it. Who's to say for better or worse? What if this plan to get you back backfires but instead of being here or there, you're somewhere else? As a different Mulder with a different Scully. Maybe the same, maybe not," she rambled, her eyes remaining shut.

"I'm not sure this is all that different, all together. I'm still me, you're still you. I think it's just different times rather than different realities."

"The life you're going back to seems to be the best of them all," she whispered dreamily, barely seeming to register what he'd said.

He nodded with a small smile. She's right about that. "Well, one time you told me you thought there might be only one choice. That all others might be wrong, and there were signs along the way to pay attention to. And... maybe I'm being an optimist, as hard as that is to believe, but I'd like to think that as long as we're together we'd always make the right choice. Even if they might not seem like that at the time. I want to believe the signs would always guide us to the other, that it's an invariable constant. But, that might be a lot to unpack right now," he chuckled self-consciously, aware that he'd just unleashed a lot on her and that it easily might overwhelm her.

However, when he looked over, he realized the night had been his only listener. Scully was leaning towards him, her eyes dancing behind closed eyes as her breath came out in even exhalations. There wasn't a navajo blanket behind them nor any pale blue teacups laying on the coffee table, but he still couldn't help the comforting sense of deja vu that coursed through his body and a nostalgic smile immediately tugged on his lips. It was like he was living inside a memory - one of his favorites, at that.

He stood up quietly before leaning down and pulling her up into his arms bridal style. Her head turned towards him, her forehead resting on his neck, as he carried her to her bed. He hadn't been in her room in a long time - hadn't really been in her room. The past few days he'd been in and out in a flurry, not having time to reminisce since he was more focused on how she was feeling. But now, standing in the doorway of her bedroom with her in his arms, he remembered vividly when he stood in this very same place as she held their son, beckoning him to come over. He also remembered holding her here as he promised they'd all be reunited soon. They would just have to be apart for a while until he could guarantee no one would come after them. Then he'd come back and they could all be a family.

Mulder swallowed thickly, a lump forming in his throat. Scully made a little sound in his arms and he looked down to see her head had fallen back onto his arm, her hair dangling away from her as her mouth gaped open in sleep. The sight alone was enough for him to blink away his tears and smile down at the woman in his arms.

Walking the remaining distance to the bed, he pulled back her sheets before delicately easing her down into the bed, lifting the sheets up to her collarbone. The room smelled like her and for a moment, if he closed his eyes, he could imagine they were in their house, deep in Farr's Corner. Bending down, he pressed a kiss to her temple, indulging himself with this one act of intimacy. Mulder felt her pulse thrum under his lips as her baby hairs tickled his nose - in this moment, pulling away from her and not allowing himself to burrow into the bed next to her felt like the hardest thing he'd ever done.

When he pulled away, he felt a cold hand grab his wrist with a featherlight touch, as if it was barely there. Scully was looking at him, her lips slightly parted while she took in his face. "Hey," he whispered. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to wake you up."

"You- that's okay," she whispered back.

Mulder felt her thumb run across his wrist. Once. Twice. Almost seeming like an accident, then seeming like an intimate gesture she was too nervous to commit to. She shifted in the bed, the comforter falling below her breasts as she did so.

He could see a similar idea growing in her eyes like it had in his room all those years ago, but she wasn't as sure of herself as she had then. In his heart of hearts, all he wanted to do was lift up the sheet, crawl in next to her, and make love to her. But the certainty she had in her expression when she'd made a move on him back then was currently replaced by trepidation and anxiety.

"I never realized how wrong all the other choices were until I realized what the right one felt like."

Mulder knew what the right choice was, and doing anything when she wasn't a thousand percent certain wasn't it. He bent down over her and pressed a kiss to her forehead before standing up, her hand falling back to her side as she let go of his wrist. "Good night, Scully," he murmured.

"Good night, Mulder," she replied softly as he closed the door.

Chapter Text

After clearing the space as much as they could, the upstairs hallway closet now filled to the brim with twenty years of memories, they decided to have a quick lunch before heading to a furniture store in College Park. Apparently they'd gone here a few months ago to get a new dining room table and it was about an hour away - a small price to pay for the seclusion of their home.

Mulder asked if he could drive being it had been her burden since this amnesia thing had taken over their lives, and despite some initial reservations, she ultimately relented. He'd always liked the act of driving, he'd probably driven them over a million miles all across America, Scully riding shotgun at his side. It was calming to him, mindlessly methodical, and that's what he needed now.

Ever since they started working on the nursery, he'd had a nagging wish at the back of his mind that he hadn't known how to vocalize. It was just another side effect of feeling displaced within his own life. Things he should be able to talk about with ease got caught in his throat out of a fear of saying the wrong thing. It was a ridiculous notion, this was Scully after all, but he didn't want to add any more undue stress to her pregnancy and with the situation they were already in, avoiding that felt like dancing around landmines.

"Mulder," Scully's voice prompted. He turned his head and saw she was looking at him with furrowed brows.

"Scully," he replied, jovially matching her tone.

"You okay?" she asked, a sweet upward lilt in her voice.

"Yeah, just thinking," he replied, stroking the worn material of the steering wheel with his thumb.

"I know it bothers you, but all cars have GPS in them now. And I promise the assisted parking really is convenient downtown-" she explained, assuming his behavior was in part due to his earlier apprehension at the technology of the car.

"No, no, it's not that," he chuckled.

"Then it is something?" she prodded.

"Um," he started, sitting up a little higher in his seat. "I was just wondering if we had a theme?"

"For the nursery?" she asked, surprise evident in her tone. "You had me worried there. You were being too quiet. I'm not used to that," she added with a chuckle.

"Sorry," he laughed with her.

"We haven't actually talked about that. I guess I've been so caught up in worrying that I haven't really thought about anything like that yet."

His fingers had been burning to touch her and it took him a moment to remember he could. He took one hand from the steering wheel and moved it towards her lap, interlocking his fingers with her smaller, delicate ones. "You said the tests were all good, right?" he asked, waiting for her nod of affirmation before continuing. "Exactly. You said it yourself, you deserve to enjoy this pregnancy. You're here, I'm here, let's enjoy this."

She raised their joined hands to her lips and kissed the back of his hand before returning them to her lap. "Did you bring this up because you have an idea?" she asked. He chuckled lightly and he felt her nudge him with her elbow. "What?" she prompted with a giggle.

He'd been thinking about it since they started clearing out the room, but even though it was his child growing inside her, the fear of overstepping still lingered in him. "You're going to think it's silly," he replied with a knowing smirk.

"Probably, but tell me," she teased good-naturedly.

"What if we did an outer space theme? We could maybe even get those little glow in the dark stars that you tape to the walls and-what?" he stammered, smiling in confusion when he caught her beaming at him.

"I love it," she mused.

"You do?" he replied. "I don't think I've ever convinced you about something so quickly in my entire life."

"I think it's sweet. Fitting," she quipped. "Would it be our child if they didn't spend their time staring into the stars?"

"You have a point there," he murmured in agreement, his smile threatening to take up permanent residency on his face.

"Were you nervous to tell me that?" she asked. "Since when have you been shy about telling me something I might disagree with?"

"I guess I just feel a little out of my element. I just want to give our kid the best life possible, I don't want to make any mistakes. All these decisions feel so permanent," he explained, merging from the highway onto the College Park exit.

As he looked over his shoulder to make sure no one was coming, he caught her beaming at him and laughed, "What?"

"You're going to be a great Dad," she mused with a smirk.

"If I can be half as good as a dad as you will be as a mom, I'll count myself lucky," he replied.

The conversation halted there as the navigation started to tell him where to go. As skeptical as he was about "Siri" and "Google Maps," he had to admit, this was pretty useful. He wished he could ask the Gunmen what they thought. Would they even be able to drive if they were alive? Or would they be too scared that the companies were tracking their whereabouts and mapping out their lives?

He felt another twinge of poignant sentimentality and tried to suppress it; he couldn't spend all his time missing the past at the expense of the future he had sitting next to him.

The place Scully took them to was a huge gymnasium filled with diorama living spaces. What appeared to be five floors, row-upon-row of everything you'd ever imagined possible. It was weird, but the meatballs were good.

"I didn't realize this many colors even existed," Mulder murmured in awe, taking in the rows and rows of paint swatches.

"This is a bit overwhelming," she replied, scanning the various squares with a furrowed brow. His gaze fell to her hand idly rubbing her stomach and he felt the swell of pride blossom in his chest like he did every time he caught her being motherly.

When his gaze returned to her face, he caught her brows furrow momentarily before licking her lips and taking a big breath. She looked a little nostalgic, but instead of wondering why, he decided to be upfront and ask. "Is there something else you're thinking about?" he asked innocently.

"When you were gone during the beginning of my first pregnancy, I put off doing anything to prepare for the baby. It didn't feel right doing it without you," she explained, lifting her head to meet his eye. "Eventually my mom couldn't handle the stress of my procrastination and she helped me paint the room and she brought over some stuff," she explained with a smile. Her direct honesty took him a little off guard, but he made sure not to let it show, just eager she was being so open. Every reminder of what Scully went through during the pregnancy of their first child made his heart ache for her.

"She'd keep asking me what I wanted and I kept saying I wasn't sure, because I wanted it to be something you'd like, but I didn't know what that was and I-I just," she stammered, letting out a low breath before continuing. "It ended up being this awful conglomeration of things that simply didn't fit together; animals, an airplane, clowns. No rhyme or reason. I didn't feel attached to any of it," she shrugged. Part of him was curious if she'd ever said any of this out loud before from the way she was having a hard time finding the right words, but it was evident this was something she wanted to tell him.

"But then one day I saw a mobile of stars and it was perfect. I hung it up as soon as I got home. I was too busy being happy you were back to ask if you liked the nursery decor, but hearing you suggest the outer space theme in the car… that was all I'd wanted to know for so long and hearing you say it now was so validating," she explained, her last statement coming out like a grateful sigh.

"Years before, you'd told me that you always thought souls resided in starlight. And when you were gone, every time I put William down, I imagined your soul in one of those little plastic stars, looking down on him," she shrugged. "I think I'm getting a little sappy for IKEA," she laughed, blinking rapidly to suppress the burgeoning tears.

She hadn't seemed sad throughout any of the speech, but his heart still went out to the poor Scully from all those years ago. "I wish I could've been there," he admitted.

She placed a hand on his cheek and stroked his jaw lightly. "You are now," she replied sweetly. Placing an idle hand on her stomach and shifting her weight from one foot to another she randomly asked: "Do you want to know something spooky?"

"Naturally," he replied with a smirk.

"A few months ago we got to see Will-Jackson's, room, and he's done it as an outer space theme, including a telescope and planets decorating his walls. Kismet," she laughed.

With a smile, he cocked his brow at her and leaned in conspiratorially. "Now that's spooky," he murmured.

"You're telling me," she chuckled. "But back to the matter at hand - Twilight blue or nautical nighttime?" she asked, holding two swatches on either side of her head.

Mulder felt a smile tug across his mouth as he pointed to the darker shade, "Nautical night time obviously, Starbuck."

XXXXXXXX

He could definitively say that, for most of his life, he'd never had a night time routine. Before he'd woken up in bed next to Scully a week ago, he'd been accustomed to coming home after whatever he'd entertained himself doing that evening before maybe watching tv, maybe jacking off, or maybe passing out: usually dependent on if the Knicks were playing, how his day with Scully had gone, or if he'd been investigating leads respectively.

But now it was an unspoken tradition that when they got home from whatever they were doing, Scully would go upstairs and bathe, grade, or whatever she needed to get done while he cooked and/or laid around and watched TV. They'd stopped and eaten at Chilis before coming home from IKEA, so he had the evening to do whatever he wanted until Scully joined him. He needed to remember to ask Scully what it was he usually did, because as of late he felt a little stir crazy, like a puppy waiting for their master to come home. He wanted to give her space to breathe and give her some alone time, and he knew he had plenty to look around and do to find out more about his past - but ultimately all he wanted to do was hang around his beautiful, pregnant wife.

Instead of going up and distracting her, he looked around and tried to find something to occupy himself with. It impressed him how much the space of their home was such a combination of the both of them. He could see things here and there he recognized from his apartment or hers, even the new things looked like they had influences of them both. He'd be lying if he said the simplicity of seeing their stuff together didn't thrill him. It was the same warmth in his chest that he felt when he saw their clothes together in the closet or her toothbrush next to his. Somehow the stars aligned to make him the luckiest sonuvabitch on the planet and he could barely believe it.

Mulder was pulled out of his reverie by the growingly familiar ding of his phone going off. Pulling it out of his pocket, he saw it was one of those instant emails Scully had tried to tell him about.

John Doggett

Hey Mulder,

Mon and I are in town for a few days and she wanted me 2 ask you if u or Scully need anything 4 baby? TTYL LOL

Doggett

Mulder felt his brows furrow in confusion. He couldn't remember ever knowing anyone named John Doggett, yet this person seemed to know him well enough to send something like this.

Before he could think about it anymore, another ding went off and his attention went back to the screen.

Mulder,

IDK y it said LOL. Dam phone!

Doggett

Mulder wondered to himself if this Doggett person ever made sense or if it was just a communication error. Walking towards the stairs he called out, "Scully! Do I know someone named Doggett?" Then, as an afterthought, added, "And what does LOL mean?"

"What?" he heard her call back in a muffled reply.

A little louder this time, he yelled, "What is LOL and who is Doggett?"

His cries were answered by Scully walking towards the landing of the staircase wrapped in her fluffy bathrobe, rubbing lotion on her arms. "Mulder, what have I told you about yelling for me when I'm in a different room?" she sighed with an amused look on her face.

"I'm not sure. I can't remember," he deadpanned.

She rolled her eyes with a smirk and repeated, "What were you asking me?"

"Who is John Doggett?" he asked.

"He took over for you for a little bit when you couldn't be on the X-Files," she answered with a smile.

Mulder inadvertently felt a grimace take residence on his face and it was apparently obvious. "Be nice. You had your hesitancies then too, but he did really strong work, saved my ass and yours more than once, and he's always been a great friend to us."

"And Mon?" he asked.

"His wife. She also worked on the X-Files while you were in hiding, though they weren't married at the time. She actually delivered our first child, believe it or not. You both are quite similar in your eccentricities," she explained.

"Me? Eccentric?" he asked in mock affront.

Scully shook her head as if to say incorrigible before asking, "Why do you ask?"

"I got a message from them asking if we need anything for the baby," he explained.

"Oh, are they in town?" she smiled, brushing a strand of hair behind her ear.

"Yeah for the next few days."

"We should invite them to dinner," she beamed.

If Mulder hadn't felt like he was in a new world before, he did now: Talking to a getting-ready-for-bed-Scully about old friends from the bureau and making dinner plans with them. He could have never imagined this type of domestic intimacy would ever be a part of his life. "I'd like to meet them," he smiled back at her.

"And luckily for you, a case of amnesia doesn't even come close to the weirdest medical phenomena you've exhibited around them," she laughed. "I'll text Monica myself and set things up."

She was just about to turn around when he stopped her. "Wait, what's LOL mean?" he asked, sounding it out phonetically like "l-oh-ll."

"Um, what?"

"Or IDK," he asked. Ih-de-ck.

"Is this another language you're speaking to me?" she chuffed in laughter. "You know I haven't watched Star Trek."

"First of all, that should have been a clause in our marriage vows. Second, he sent me the message 'IDK y it said LOL. Dam phone!'," he read monotonously.

"Oh," she exclaimed. "I.D.K. and L.O.L., they're abbreviations."

"For what?"

"I don't know and laugh out loud," she replied.

"Laugh out loud?" he repeated. "Why not just say 'that was funny' or 'that made me laugh'?"

"It's supposed to be shorter."

"Then why not just say haha?" he clarified.

"These are all good questions, but sadly I know none of the answers. If it brings you any comfort, you've never said LOL," she teased.

"It does, .," he drew out with a smirk.

She shook her head good naturedly before turning around and walking back to the bathroom, leaving him to his own devices. He walked over to their couch and plopped down, returning to the photo album section on the phone so he could look at it again, hoping something may jog his memory.

He scrolled at random, stopping only when he found a photo of him leaning forward with his face near a disgusting pink blobby-looking creature, smiling humorously at the camera. "Ew," he muttered to himself.

Randomly going farther down, he found a few pictures dated May 19th, 2018. One picture was a pixelated photo taken of a laptop screen. Zooming in, he could make out that it was a confirmation email regarding a marriage certificate going through for Fox Mulder and Dana Scully. The next photos were of them smiling on the porch. Scully showing off her adorned ring finger with a blissful smile, one so palpable he felt his own mouth smiling in reflex. He'd seen a photo of this day in the hallway and he hadn't even put it together. May 19th, 2018. He looked down at his own hand and saw the gold band glinting in the light. Again, luckiest sonuvabitch.

He continued scrolling a bit, and much like before, his biggest takeaway was that he'd primarily taken photos of Scully and sometimes them together. He was just about to put the phone away when something caught his eye. Scully loading a bunch of boxes into the back of their cars. He didn't recognize the building behind them, but he saw all the boxes were labelled U-Haul. Who was moving?

The top of the screen told them they were from March 15th, 2018 - earlier this year. He went to the next series of photos and was even further confused to see they'd driven to their house. The next photo showed them unpacking the boxes. Unpacking Scully's stuff. His confusion about their relationship before rejoining the X-Files just continued to grow. He looked around and could see dust littering some of Scully's old furniture, it had most certainly been here for longer than a few months. Yet, in the boxes were several knickknacks he knew meant a lot to her. A bible her dad had gotten her as a kid, photos of her family, things she wouldn't just leave at some random place.

What the fuck?

He knew when she came down, she was going to ask if he had any questions he wanted to ask her, but he didn't even know how to frame what he was most curious about. Did we stop living together? Did something go wrong? Why did we wait so long to get married?

He turned off the phone and put it in his pocket before he let his head fall back onto the couch, dragging his hands across his face as if he could wipe away the confusion. It seemed an unfortunate long-running theme for him, these enigmatic questions regarding his life. What happened to Samantha? What happened with the relationship with Scully?

Samantha.

He felt a twinge of guilt pluck at the strings of his heart as he sat back up, his eyes resting on a photo of Samantha he'd noticed on the mantelpiece earlier. He'd been so focused on adjusting to his new life that he'd neglected the biggest question of his old one. He wasn't sure what it said about him that he'd neglected asking about Samantha for so long. Maybe he was scared to hear the truth, maybe it was worse than he'd guessed.

He'd been so lost in thought that he hadn't heard Scully descend the stairs and walk over to him until he felt her weight dip the couch cushion next to him, her bath-warmed skin heating up his side. But then again, Scully always had that effect on him. "You okay? You looked pretty lost in thought," she murmured kindly, nudging his foot with her own.

"Samantha," he answered honestly.

She nodded slowly. Her hands flitted to her stomach and she just held them gently in place while rubbing her night shirt with her thumbs - the reminder of a missing child making her instinctively protective of her own. "You're ready?" she asked softly, not conveying any of her answer in her gaze.

In all honesty, he didn't even know what type of reaction he should be looking for. Is there possibly a good outcome? He didn't even know how to wrap his mind around the concept of a happy ending where Samantha was involved. All he knew how to steel himself for was the more likely solutions: she was either dead or they never found the answer. It felt wrong hoping for either.

He took a shaky breath as he felt his palms grow slick. His life's mission. The culmination of everything he'd worked towards for thirty seven years of his life was about to be answered. Scully must've sensed his anxiety because she slipped her hand underneath his own, giving him a reassuring squeeze. His constant lifeline in a sea of uncertainty.

"I need to know. Did we ever find her?" he asked, the words coming out like a whisper as if the sentiment was too heavy to be voiced.

There was a small moment of silence where everything felt like it was overwhelmingly vivid. He could hear the cicadas singing outside and the sounds of the old house creaking and adjusting, he could see Scully's chest rise as she took a lungful of air that would inevitably become the words he was terrified to hear, and he could feel his heart pounding against his rib cage like a morbid metronome counting down the inevitable. This could very well be the last moment of his life he spent wondering what happened to Samantha Ann Mulder.

"It's hard," Scully sighed. "To try and summarize everything we went through. We spent years searching, being led in the wrong direction, misinformed to fit narratives others wanted us to be in. I fear any way I say it will seem like a trite oversimplification."

"Take your time," he murmured, rubbing his thumb over the soft skin of her hand.

"I'll tell you about the night we learned the truth. The real truth," she began. "It was 2000, we'd been working on the case of a missing girl, Amber. It was a hard case, you always had a tender spot for missing little girls, but… during this case your mother died," she paused, her tongue darting to the side of her mouth as she looked down. "I'm sorry I was vague earlier."

"How did she die?" he asked, squeezing her hand and hoping it would encourage her to look at him.

It worked, and he was met with big, blue eyes brimming with sorrow. Sorrow for him. "She killed herself, Mulder."

It was something he most certainly hadn't expected to hear. She'd lived through the abduction of her only girl, the murder of her ex-husband, what could be worse? "When she found out about Sam?" he asked timidly.

"No, no," she replied, shaking her head before biting her lips nervously. "When we were out of town, she'd done it. She had an awful, disfiguring illness that she didn't want to live with."

He didn't know what to say to that, so he just tried to digest it, nodding lightly. He'd already presumed his mother had likely passed by now, but hearing that it had only taken place in 2000 and by her own hand made the pain more acute.

"She'd left you a message that said 'So much that I've left unsaid for reasons I hope one day you'll understand'," Scully repeated, the words apparently burned into her memory.

"What does that mean?" he asked. Did she know something more about Samantha?

"I think she was trying to tell you to stop looking for your sister," she stated softly.

Mulder stared at the rug on the floor contemplatively. He didn't understand what any of this meant and he could see why Scully was anxious to tell him. "You said it was in the middle of a case?" he prompted, hoping that if she continued maybe it would all fall into place and he'd understand.

She nodded. "Yes. While working on it we encountered a man named Harold, a self proclaimed psychic who claimed he was getting strong hits off this case."

"Did he?" Mulder asked.

Scully chuckled lightly, as if she was anticipating him to say that. "You wanted to believe so, but at that point in time you'd expressed to me that you wanted this all to be done. The case, the search for your sister. You just wanted closure."

She raised their joined hands to her mouth and pressed a soft kiss to his knuckles before continuing. "Harold believed that 'walk-ins' had come to save Amber, and various other children from suffering horrible fates. Taking their souls and turning them into starlight where they could live eternally. It turned out he had a son who had disappeared and that was coincidentally when he started having these 'premonitions'." She paused for a moment before adding, "He reminded me of you."

"How so?" he prompted.

"He was so determined to believe his son was out there. So driven by his beliefs and convictions to find him, that he was blinded by his mission. He didn't care that people called him crazy or that no one believed what he was saying, because he needed to cling onto that hope in order to survive," Scully explained.

"Anyhow, your sister's case started to become more entwined as Harold got closer. He claimed he had visions of your mother, and I think you believed him. We ended up finding out that Samantha had been taken to an army base to live for a while. We found a diary of hers where she wrote that she'd been taken and experimented on multiple times."

"Did she say anything about her past?" he asked hopefully.

"She said she couldn't remember much. Glimpses of things every now and then. But she was sure she had an older brother who used to tease her, and she wished she could see him again," Scully explained, a tear falling down her own cheek as one hotly slid down his.

"Ultimately she escaped and went to a hospital," she stated. He felt that painful sense of timid hope burgeoning in his chest and he tried to suppress it with all his might. If she were alive, Scully would have started with that.

"We went to talk to the admission nurse, and you asked me to talk to her while you stayed behind. She said she remembered Samantha, that she was brought in by a deputy and was terrified, that she would only let the nurse touch her. Apparently the nurse had a vision of Samantha dead for a split moment while she'd gone to check on her, but then she was fine - just like Amber's parents had. Some men came to get Samantha, but she'd vanished from thin air out of a locked room."

He was about to ask if that was all they knew when she continued, "When I turned around to tell you, you were gone."

"Gone?" he repeated.

"You came out of the nearby woods saying that it was the end of the road. That they were all dead. Harold's son, Amber, your sister. You said you were free, and you'd never looked moreso," she whispered.

"What happened?" he asked.

"You told me later that an apparition of a boy led you to a clearing where you saw the spirits of all the dead children we'd exhumed on the case. You said Samantha was with them," she explained softly.

"Did you believe me?" he asked, knowing even now, as a believer, this sounded so surreal. He couldn't imagine what Scully's perception of it was.

"Well," she began with a sigh. "While you were with Harold, I was doing some research of my own. Your mother had burned some documents ordering that the search for Samantha stop."

"Why would she do that?"

"Um, the smoking man came to my apartment a bit later and told me he was the one that called it off. He said they didn't need to look anymore since they knew she was dead," Scully admitted softly.

He felt a familiar burn of rage surge through his veins. Of course. Of course he would have something to do with it. That and the thought of that bastard in Scully's space made his blood boil. "How did I react to that bit of information?"

"Much like how I can tell you're reacting now: indignant he's so intertwined in your life. Pissed he was anywhere near me." The last part was said with a small smile and he was yet again amazed at just how well she knew him. There were no secrets between them and it made him feel whole.

"I accepted that part of my life coming to an end then? I found comfort in knowing she didn't suffer for too long?" he asked, tracing the blue veins of her hand with his thumb.

"I think it was the perfect combination of you coming to a point in your life where you didn't want to spend it all on this mission anymore. Seeing Harold's desperation, what happened to your mother, and you even told me that you were starting to think a life with me felt like an actual possibility more than a dream. You were ready for it to happen - at the perfect emotional state for it. Which is why I'm a little nervous now," she prompted, watching his face intently.

"What did Harold say when I told him his son was dead?" he asked.

"He freaked out, saying you were wrong. That you were lying. You tried to comfort him and it was… poignant… hearing you talk to him. It's like whatever you had gone through in that clearing had changed you. When you talked to that man, it was as if you were talking to a younger version of yourself. You were offering comfort to someone you empathized with on an intimate level."

From his perspective, he couldn't imagine learning this back in the day and then going to an empty apartment. What followed a revelation like that for a man who felt like his life was his work? Would he be able to work on the X-Files, trying to find the extraordinary with the knowledge that all monsters are merely men nagging him in the back of his mind? All questions seemed to lead to the thoughts of a purposeless man.

But he couldn't relate to that now, because Scully gave his life purpose. Nothing he did then could ever have been fruitless if the reward he reaped was the life he currently had in front of him.

His wife was sitting with him, soothing their unborn child, in their shared home while looking at him with so much love it felt palpable in the air. "Are you okay?" she gently asked, tilting her head while trying to read him.

He opened up his arms to her and was thrilled when she crawled over to him and nuzzled into his side, throwing her legs over his lap. He placed some sweet kisses to her temple, feeling her pulse steady on his lips before resting his cheek on her head.

"She was dead the whole time," he murmured.

"I'm so sorry," she replied with sorrow in her voice.

He looked out the curtains of the living room window, and from there, he could see hundreds of stars littering the blanket of dark sky staring back at them.

Samantha Mulder

Melissa Scully

Teena Mulder

Margaret Scully

Frohike

Langly

Byers

"Thank you for telling me."

 

Chapter Text

1998

These were her favorite dreams to wake up to; so much so that she tried her hardest to just linger in them for as long as she could. Scully found it oddly fitting, a full narrative arc created in her last and her first conscious moments of the day; she'd fall asleep imagining what it would be like being with Mulder, his arms holding her as they lay sated together, and on the best days, she'd wake up imagining he was there with her, peppering gentle kisses all over her face.

She squirmed against her sheets, the fabric rustling near her ear as she let the sunlight beaming through the curtains warm her. It was like she was cocooned by the blissful experience of being on the border between dreaming and consciousness. Scully had spent enough time around Mulder to imagine what it might be like to wake up next to him. The smell of his time-worn cologne, the sleepy grunts, how lazy his touch was when it was heavy from exhaustion.

The dream was so visceral that she felt goosebumps erupt on her body from the ghost of his touch on her arm, imagining the warmth of his breath on her skin. "Scully," Mulder whispered softly.

Scully hummed in the back of her throat, a lazy smile of contentment tugging her lips. She could stay here in this waking-dream forever and never want to leave.

"Scully," another, closer whisper rasped.

The warmth moved from her bare arm to her back, and she realized this was more than just her imagination. Her eyes slowly opened, her brow furrowed in confusion as she tried to get her bearings.

Only to immediately be met with the sight of Mulder's amused face as he bent next to the bed.

"Hey, sleepy head," he murmured with a boyish grin. He took his hand off her back and she immediately missed the comfort.

"Wh-what's wrong?" she croaked, appreciating the way he was backlit by the light like an angelic church statue.

"Nothing," he replied, shaking his head. Then added, "Your mom's on the phone." He motioned with his head and she followed the directive to see her cordless phone was face down on the bed spread.

Her head spun to the clock and saw it was 7:15am. "You answered my phone? Did you talk to her?" she asked, desperately trying to wrack her brain for how she could possibly explain Mulder being here and answering her phone while she was asleep.

A look of surprise took residence on his face as if he'd just realized for the first time that might've not been appropriate. He looked a little guilty, as if he recognized he had imbibed in something he shouldn't have but did anyway. "I-um, yeah."

"What did you say?" she whispered, easing up from her stomach into a sitting position. His mouth kept opening as if to answer, only to reclose to rethink what he was going to say. She cocked an eyebrow as this repeated a few times before she repeated, "Mulder, what did you and my mother talk about?"

"Um, I just asked her how she's been," he shrugged before grabbing the phone and handing it to her. "Here she is."

Scully took the phone from him and placed it to her ear. "Hi, Mom."

"Hi Dana, I just had the nicest conversation with your partner," her mother beamed from the other end.

She looked over and caught eyes with Mulder as she replied, "Yeah, I heard."

Mulder mouthed sorry to her before pushing off of the bed to stand up. Her hip dipped into the depression he'd caused until he removed his hand. Her eyes stayed on him as he walked out of the room and into the hallway, appreciating the sight of how his work attire complimented him as he retreated.

"That's awfully nice of you to let him stay over while he recovers from his concussion," her mom said in that all-knowing tone she liked to use.

"His concussion, yeah," Scully replied, going along with Mulder's cover story despite the fact a concussion wouldn't have lasted that long.

She slid out of bed and started haphazardly getting ready with the phone tucked between her shoulder and cheek. "Is everything okay?" Scully asked, uncertain of why her mother had called in the first place.

"Yes, everything's fine. I just hadn't heard from you in a while and you know how I worry," Maggie explained.

"Sorry, things have just been a little crazy around here," she sighed. Scully made her way into the bathroom and the smell of breakfast cooking hit her nose. She walked a little closer towards the kitchen and saw Mulder was working swiftly between several different tasks. With the surprised lift of her brow and a small smile, she made her way back towards the bathroom.

She listened to her mom tell her all the familial updates and the newest gossip at their church for a while before they both had to go. Scully quickly got dressed and finished her makeup before strutting into the dining room where Mulder had laid out a spread of different breakfast foods. She was about to remind him that they were running late, but was stopped short when she saw the pride in his eyes.

"I know we don't have much time," he replied, as if reading her mind. "I was planning on starting earlier, but I got carried away talking to your mom and I ended up delaying myself."

"I suppose I'm willing to be late if it means I get to try some of your cooking," she mused, sliding into a seat across from him. It wasn't as if this week had been enough of a mess already and it was only Thursday.

"That's the spirit, Scully," he replied in amusement.

She looked around the table and took in what he'd prepared. Eggs, toast, bacon, sausage, fresh fruit, the whole nine yards. "Mulder," she mused, her head cocking to the side as slow realization dawned on her. "Did you go to the store this morning?"

He paused, mid-chew, and stared at her, a smile tugging on his lips. "Maybe," he replied teasingly.

The pieces slowly started to fall into place and she felt a smile mirroring his gracing her face. "Is that why my alarm didn't wake me up? Did you turn it off and run to the store to get all of this to surprise me, and my mother's phone call derailed your plan?"

"It's these detective skills that make you an amazing partner, Scully," he nodded with a gleam in his eye.

The thought of Mulder trying to surprise her so elaborately made her chest ache in adoration. He brought her a coffee unexpectedly to the office every now and then and that was sweet, but a whole meal cooked exactly how she liked it was a luxury she wasn't sure anyone had ever done for her before.

"Thank you, this was very kind of you," she murmured before biting into herjam-covered toast. A hum of surprise resounded in the back of her throat. As far as she was aware, Mulder's wheelhouse included Mac and Cheese and orange juice - the fact he'd branched out and it wasn't just charcoal was a pleasant surprise. "It's delicious."

He smiled in appreciation and took a bite of his own food. "If anyone gives us a hard time being late, just put the blame on me. Though we've really been breezing through our paperwork as of late, so I think we really don't have much to work on since we can't take on a full case right now with the team-building conference coming up and… everything else," he explained.

Scully found it odd he'd seemed reluctant to mention his current predicament, but then again she wasn't exactly being subtle about the fact she was enjoying spending time with this Mulder. She'd had a hard time accepting it at the beginning, but the more time she spent with this thoughtful, kind, mature version of her Mulder, the more she wished he could stay - despite how much she still missed her own reckless Mulder.

She knew she'd reacted territorially when he'd mentioned it was a possibility they had switched somehow- she could barely wrap her mind around the idea herself- but she was worried for how her Mulder was handling this. It seemed cruel, the idea that everything he'd worked so hard to find out had taken place without him. This was their mission, and they needed to go through it together.

Glancing over, she caught the sight of Mulder looking at her, a lazy, soft smile on his face that made all other thoughts disappear from her brain. He was mostly dressed for work, but his overcoat was off and his button up was open a few buttons lower than normal, his sleeves rolled up to the crook of his elbows. He looked so comfortable and at ease that she couldn't help but celebrate it was because he was merely eating a meal with her.

Her eyes flitted back down to her plate, not wanting her stare to linger for too long. She took a few more bites before glancing back, only to catch his appreciative look again. "Mulder, you're staring," she murmured shyly, idly picking at the food on her plate.

He was doing that more often; unabashedly staring. It didn't seem to matter what she was doing, she'd just look up to get his attention, only to see she'd already had it. She was used to catching him gazing when he thought she didn't see, but now instead of his gaze flitting away, he'd just continue with a smile.

"I'm sorry," he replied unapologetically before genuinely adding, "I don't mean to make you uncomfortable. I just love looking at you."

Scully didn't know how to react to that sentiment. It made her cheeks flush and she felt her mouth drop open in a stunted attempt to reply. "I'm sorry. I don't mean to be inappropriate," he replied, looking slightly contrite.

"No, no," she replied, her voice a little too high, an audible tell to how much he flustered her. "That's um, very sweet. I was in a rush, so I thought I must've just looked haphazard."

"Never," he replied with a small shake of his head.

She met his gaze and offered him a bashful smile before turning to her food again.

Jesus, I'm acting like a timid schoolgirl with a crush, she mused to herself.

She'd been exhausted last night, but even then she remembered implying that she was jealous of the relationship they apparently had in his time. Scully couldn't remember how direct she'd been about that, as her memory was tainted through her need for sleep. Now that she was thinking about it, she couldn't remember how she got to bed either. Maybe he-

Oh my god.

Her eyes shot open as color rushed to her cheeks. All other concerns melted away as she remembered the tail end of the night. She hadn't done anything exactly, but she'd crossed a line. It was subtle, but the desire to have him be with her was so strong that she knew if he didn't see it in her eyes that he must've felt it in her touch.

And yet he'd pulled away.

Scully felt a small twinge of embarrassment twist uncomfortably in her chest before she willed it away. It's not like she'd actually invited him to sleep with her and he turned her down, she'd just sleepily grabbed his wrist and he wished her a goodnight. She just couldn't shake the way her heart raced at the thought of what would have happened if he hadn't left.

Jesus.

Realizing Mulder might be looking at her, and not wanting him to see slight panic on her face, she asked, "Why were you up so early anyway?"

Mulder shrugged and swallowed his mouthful of food. "I dunno, just couldn't sleep."

"Is it the couch?" she asked, a frown tugging at her lips at the thought he was in pain. As far as she was aware he normally passed out on the couch, and she figured hers had more support than his.

"No, your couch is comfortable," he assured. "I'm just restless, I guess."

Scully wasn't sure how much she believed him, but before she could say anything else, Mulder gasped, "My fish!"

"What?" she replied, her brows furrowing.

Mulder turned to her with a look of guilt and explained, "My fish haven't been fed since this all started."

His guilt-ridden pout seemed extreme for his confession, but she tried to bite back her smile lest he think she was making fun of him. "Um," she started, uncertain of what to say.

"Would you mind if we ran over there?" Mulder asked. "Since we're running a bit late anyway?"

It was so Mulder of him to be so concerned at the prospect of something being hurt, even fish, that his whole day came to a halt to help. "Yeah, that's fine. Besides, it might not hurt to get some extra clothes for you to bring over here," she nodded.

She hadn't meant that in whatever way elicited the smile on Mulder's face and she felt the flush creep back up her neck. "Thanks, Scully. I know you don't like having your life uprooted, but I appreciate how understanding you've been," he replied appreciatively.

She smiled at him before holding her hand out for his empty plate. "It's always an adventure with you," she mused before standing up and clearing the table with him. They gathered their stuff and headed out to her car in an oddly domestic tandem.

It took only twenty minutes to get to Mulder's place, a little longer than normal being she had to take extra detours just because he wanted to see if this store was there or if that building looked the same. She was willing to indulge him because it was so unusual to see him so enthusiastic about things other than work. It was a nice change. When she parked in front of his building and put a quarter in the meter, despite the fact he was the one who lived here, she felt like she was the one leading the way.

"Shit," he murmured as the elevator ascended.

"Hm?" she responded, checking her watch. It was only 8:20 now, and she was starting to think they might make it on time.

"I don't have my key," he explained with a grimace.

"It's okay, I have mine," she replied, fishing her key ring out of her bag.

"I'd be lost without you," he replied with a laugh.

They exited the elevator and Scully made a beeline to Mulder's door, opening it with practice as he harshly whispered, "Scully."

She turned and saw he'd paused outside of his neighbor's place. "Do you know who lives here?" he asked, pointing to apartment 44.

"No," she shook her head, confused to why he was asking. "Why?"

He glared back at the door before shrugging and walking to meet her. "No reason."

Figuring it was him trying to place a memory, she just ignored it and walked into the apartment as Mulder followed and closed the door. Scully watched as Mulder walked over to the tank and turned to her with a relieved smile, "They're alive."

"I'm glad," she chuckled, walking over to him.

He grabbed the fish food from the glass shelving unit and carefully sprinkled in the water. "I'm sorry you guys, here you go. That's it," he murmured. She smirked to herself at his display of sensitivity before excusing herself to use his bathroom.

When she came out, Mulder was standing in the living room, apparently so lost in thought he didn't hear her return. His eyes darted around with what looked like subdued resentment at the state of the place, almost like pity. She wasn't sure what that was about as when he was in her apartment, she'd caught him examining everything with the care and interest of a museum cultivated just for him. "Are you okay, Mulder?" she asked softly, walking forward and placing a hand on his arm.

He pivoted his head to look at her and he offered her a small smile. "A bachelor pad is a sad and lonely place, Scully," he mused.

Scully looked around in confusion, she'd always thought Mulder had a nice place for a single man. She always felt comfortable whenever she came over. "I like it here," she offered shyly, almost as if in defense of the Mulder who lived here.

"You being here is what makes it nice," he retorted with a woeful smile. "You can turn any apartment or house into a home, without you it's not the same."

He sounded so melancholy that she decided to shift the subject rather than ruminate on it. "Why don't we go get some extra clothes for you? Hm?" she prompted, nudging him playfully in the shoulder and motioning her head to his bedroom.

"Okay," he nodded lightly in agreement, not pressing any further.

She followed him into his bedroom and felt a mounting sense of curiosity. As far as she was aware this room was full of boxes. It wasn't her finest moment, but one of the few times she'd been here without Mulder, she'd been so curious to see his room that she opened the door, only to see it was being used as a storage room. While it made her worry for him, she figured there must be a method to the madness and now she was going to be privy as to what exactly that entailed.

She was surprised then when he opened up the door to a fully furnished bedroom. Scully gasped lightly in surprise, causing Mulder to turn back and see her surprised expression. "You okay?" he asked.

"I-uh," she stammered. "I thought you didn't have a bedroom. Well, I knew you technically did, but I thought it was full of junk."

"I think you mean treasures," he joked, walking further into the room. "It's so weird. I never did, but then one day we came back after following a dud of a lead and someone had fully furnished my apartment," he shrugged.

She walked over to the bed and pressed down on it lightly, shocked when the bed depressed into a ripple beneath her hand. "A waterbed!" she exclaimed in surprise. Never in a thousand years did she imagine Mulder owned a waterbed, and she found herself trying to repress all of the inappropriate thoughts it brought to mind.

"I'm just as confused as you are, even all these years later," he chuckled.

"Do you think it was the Gunmen?" she replied.

Between pulling out a few pairs of underwear and socks from his drawer he replied: "For a moment I considered that, but they denied it." He paused for a moment, clearing his throat and adding. "While it does seem like something they'd do, uh-look up."

She glanced upward only to meet her own gaze. "A mirror?" she asked, taking in the sight of herself sitting on Mulder's bed.

Mulder chuckled at her reaction. "Yeah, while I could see the merry band of misfits doing me a favor and getting me a bed for fun, I don't know if they'd want to go, um, that far into imagining what I might like."

She hummed while trying to ignore doing just that. She attempted to wrack her brain for who else it may have been before the seed of jealousy that had been planted in her brain months ago sprung a new leaf. "Was it Diana?" she asked, feigning innocent curiosity as she straightened her skirt with her hands and tucked her hair behind her ears in an act of nervous self-grooming.

"Absolutely not," he said so firmly it drew her attention back to his face which was the picture of sincerity.

Despite how convicted of an answer that was, she couldn't resist the nagging impulse to be curt at the mere thought of that woman. "Are you sure? It doesn't seem that far out of her purview to do what she deems is in your best interest."

"Scully," he replied, stepping closer to her so he could rest his hand on her shoulder. "Let's just say between the two of you, I've only given one of you permission to come into my apartment whenever they want," he assured. She tried to smile in response, but it was weak. Diana was still a sore spot and this week of him being openly affectionate with her had been a nice respite from her own paranoia surrounding his former chickadee.

He let his arm fall as he made his way to his closet. "Um," he started, the hesitance evident in his voice. "Am I correct in thinking that at this point in time it's her and Spender in control of the X-Files?" he asked.

"No, I've just been bringing you to the bullpen all week because I like all the voyeuristic looks we get when we're trying to have a conversation," she deadpanned.

"Ooh, Scully. I thought it was a few more years before you developed that kink," he teased. Upon receiving no laughter in response, he changed his tone. "What was the last thing we did with her?" he asked.

She sighed and rolled her eyes behind his back. "She stole the X-Files from us, and you two went on a little adventure together wherein the subsequent case report she contradicts everything you said," she explained tersely. This was the last thing she wanted to be talking about right now, and she didn't really care if she made it obvious.

"You're mad," he replied, a statement rather than a question.

"I'm not mad," she said a bit too quickly, wiping her hand across her forehead. "It doesn't matter, we need to get going to the exciting job we've been subjugated to because of your friend."

She felt Mulder drape the clothes he'd been holding behind her on the bed and then her eyeline was filled by him kneeling in front of her, his hands reaching to hold her hands in his own as he got her attention. "It does matter, you're upset," he replied. "The other day you mentioned this wasn't probably the ideal time in our partnership to come back because we aren't on the X-Files, but maybe it was."

He paused for her to respond but she just cocked an expectant eyebrow at him, prompting him to continue. "I think this was a low point in our partnership, not because we weren't on the X-Files, but because I made you question my trust in you."

She let out an exhale of humorless laughter and consequently felt him squeeze her hands. Scully looked at him and saw lines on his forehead standing out prominently as his brows furrowed, his eyes brimming with sincerity. "I've told you countless times that you're the only person I trust, Scully. I mean that. In all my darkest moments, knowing that you have even a modicum of faith in me is what keeps me going. That's always been true, and it always will be. I'm so sorry if I've ever for a second made you feel less valued than that," he explained.

Scully felt her eyes stinging at his confession, an uncomfortable lump forming in her throat, but she didn't want to cry. "Then why won't you trust me when I say I think you need to be wary of her?"

"You need facts and science before you can make an accurate judgement, right?" he asked.

She sighed, reminded of how much she felt like that fact had been thrown in her face as of late. "Yes," she nodded.

"I just often feel like I need to see things for myself," he admitted.

She looked him in the eye and held his gaze. "That's reckless, and I'm just trying to prevent you from getting hurt."

He smiled sweetly at her before lifting their joined hands to his lips, pressing a kiss to both of her fists. "You've always been smarter than me."

Scully grinned halfheartedly at that and he removed one hand to cup her cheek. "I'm sorry I've made you feel bad," he apologized in earnest.

"I'm just protective of you," she murmured, reluctant to admit it openly but figuring it was fair trade for his openness.

"It's one of my favorite qualities about you," he smiled, standing up. He offered the hand that had just been on her cheek as he helped her to her feet. She was immediately pulled into a tight hug, and while she was initially surprised, she reciprocated by wrapping her arms around his middle and burying her face into his chest.

Mulder rested his chin on top of her head and she was struck, like she was every time they hugged, at just how perfectly they seemed to fit together. She felt his nose brush against the crown of her head as his arms rubbed up and down her back. "I love you, Scully. Never doubt that," he murmured against her head.

Scully took a sharp breath at his admission and smiled softly against his shirt. She knew it was true, but it didn't diminish how much it meant to hear it come from his mouth. Mulder kissed her hair for good measure before letting go of her. She saw him glance down at her crimson face before smirking and resuming packing his bag.

She looked around his room, taking in the small eclectic items of his life while he collected everything he needed. I love you, Scully was on repeat in her mind while her body was still thrumming from his embrace. In this moment, her animosity towards Diana diminished slightly. Sure, Diana might have the X-Files right now, but she was the one Mulder turned to when he needed help. Scully could take comfort in that fact. Besides, Diana may have been there with him at the start of the X-Files, but Scully had already more than doubled her time spent on them - her signature was on over half those case files right next to Mulder's.

"Ready to go?" he murmured, pressing his palm against the small of her back, her ouroboros burning as it metaphorically began a new cycle. They had work to do.

Together.

"Yep," she replied with a smile, making her way out of the apartment with her heart lighter than it had been for a while as she locked his door behind them.

Apparently they'd completed more paperwork than they'd realized, and the work day was relatively uneventful. Her desk was behind Mulder's, so when she found her mind wandering, she'd end up inadvertently watching him. Mulder, however, seemed to be occupying himself by responding to various emails. She was too far away to pry that much, but she saw him go through his address book and compose a series of lengthy paragraphs.

Occasionally, Mulder would turn around and play with some of the adornments on her desk and chit-chat with her, but inevitably they'd catch someone staring at them and he'd swivel back around and try to find something else to occupy his time with. The day monotonously went on like that until 5:00pm when everyone started gathering their stuff and leaving.

"Where do you want to eat tonight, Mulder?" she asked in a hushed volume, trying to get his attention without drawing anyone else's.

Mulder rolled his chair around to hers and stole one of her pencils, holding it against his nose with his upper lip as he thought. His eyes lit up and a smile caused the pencil to fall into his lap. "Can we go to Chi-Chi's?" he exclaimed.

Her brows furrowed in amusement as she replied, "You want us to go all the way to Alexandria for inauthentic Mexican food?"

"I haven't had it in fifteen years," he replied, the sparkle of excitement still in his eye.

"I'd consider that a mark of triumph," she laughed, grabbing her bag. "I didn't even know you liked Chi-Chi's."

"They don't have them in the U.S. in my time," he replied, standing with her oblivious to the looks that comment received.

"Why?" she asked, meeting his pace as they made their way to the parking garage.

"Uh," he stammered. "I think that's something you'd rather not know being we're about to go there."

"That's ominous, and I never said yes," she teased, pressing the elevator button to the garage.

"Come on, Scully," he whined playfully, being relentless since they were alone. "You never know what you have until it's gone. It's like my own version of your Goop-O A-B-C, only without the nostalgia and sentimentality."

Her jaw dropped as she turned to him with an incredulous look on her face. "Oh my god, I completely forgot about that. How did you know?" she asked. He grinned at her and she rolled her eyes with a smile, "Oh, yeah, yeah, lifelong partners, you know everything about me. How could I forget?"

"I wouldn't say I know everything, but I'm sure working on it," he replied before adding, "What do you say? I can get a good ol' inauthentic-authentic Chimichanga, and you can get a strawberry margarita."

"Okay, I'm sold," she laughed stepping off the elevator.

The drive there was relatively uneventful, but she felt Mulder's excitement mounting as they got closer. They had lunch together quite frequently, but going out together outside of work hours was always a special treat - especially when he was beaming like that. When they got inside the tacky, ridiculously colored establishment, they were seated at a booth in the far corner, next to a wall painted with various vegetables wearing sombreros - a culturally insensitive version of VeggieTales.

"Is it how you remembered it?" Scully asked after the waitress took their drink order.

"Somehow far more inappropriate than I remember it," he chuckled, grimacing at the Americanized menu.

She looked up and smirked at the series of bright, multi-colored banners hanging from the ceiling. Her attention was drawn to the other side of the restaurant as the wait staff gathered around a bashful young woman with a decorative sombrero on her head. "Happy, happy birthday. To you, to you, olé!" they cried out before cheering.

"I remember doing that to you once," Mulder chuckled, pulling her attention back to him.

"Once better be the operative word there," she teased pointedly.

"I know better than to test my luck twice," he smirked, glancing through the menu.

She didn't respond as the waitress lowered his water and her much larger strawberry margarita. "Do you know what you want to eat?" the teen asked.

Mulder motioned to Scully and she ordered Seared Vegetable Fajitas while he got the Chimichanga Dinner. The waitress took their menus and they were left sitting under the harsh light of the overhead lamp. She stirred her drink before taking a sip, wincing as the bitter taste of tequila hit her tongue.

"Strong?" Mulder asked, amused in response to her face.

"Very," she laughed, struggling through another sip to try and taste a hint of strawberry.

He took a drink of his water as he watched her. "I forgot about that," he admitted with a laugh.

"A drink's a drink, I can't complain for $2.99," she shrugged, her chest warming with the speed in which she was drinking.

He made a sound of agreement before tapping her foot under the table. She locked eyes with him and saw he'd taken on a more serious expression, causing her to put her drink down. "Everything alright?" she asked.

"I just wanted to apologize if I haven't been as respectful of your boundaries as I should be. You said this was overwhelming and I don't know if my actions have done much to abate that," he stated sincerely.

She was shocked by the tonal switch, but could see in his eyes this was something that apparently had been bothering him. "I think it was just a quick learning curve," she shrugged, idly moving her straw around the pink sludge. "It was off-putting at first just because it was such a stark contrast to what I was used to, but now that I'm accustomed to you-um, it really doesn't bother me."

Scully didn't know how to tell him she quite liked his behavior as of late, but based on the smirk on his lips, he picked up on that fact either way. "I just don't want you to think I'm being pushy. I want to abide by your terms, despite the fact I obviously have a hard time resisting flirting with you," he joked in self-deprecation.

"Well, I don't think that's necessarily new," she chuckled, adding, "But, it is nice knowing you really mean it."

She took a big swig of her drink as she watched his eyebrows do that disbelieving scrunchy thing. "Do you think I normally wouldn't mean it?"

Scully slid her jacket down her arms as she started getting warm, setting it carelessly on the booth seat next to her. "Well, I mean, you're always charming-"

"Thank you," he smirked.

Rolling her eyes she continued, "But, you're charming with everyone. I figured it wasn't anything special when you did it to me." She shrugged and took another swig, a nervous habit that was making her cheeks flush and her lips loose. Her light salad from a few hours ago wasn't much help absorbing the straight alcohol in this drink.

"I don't remember flirting with other people," he replied, seemingly wracking his brain.

"It's not even flirting per se," she replied, licking her lips as she contemplated her next words. "Maybe it just feels different to me because I can see how the women react to you just being nice, attentive, etcetera." Because I react the same way, she mused to herself.

Mulder seemed surprised, almost disbelieving of her words. "That always happens to me with you," he countered.

She wiped the drink from the corner of her mouth. "I don't follow?" she replied. Mulder was openly charming during cases, making people who often felt neglected feel appreciated and validated. She was polite, but she wouldn't consider herself as amiable as him.

"Do you know how many times I had to watch the lab geeks fawn over your every word? How often I saw a smile from you turn into someone else's blush?" he asked.

"Flatterer," she denied before smiling at the waitress who set another drink down next to her almost empty one before walking away with a smile.

"See, even our waitress is so charmed by you that you didn't even need to ask for a refill," Mulder teased.

"That's not-," she started, pausing as he shook his empty glass, causing the ice to rattle around.

"And I'm the one in her line of sight," he smirked.

A laugh erupted at her throat from this, causing him to laugh with her. "Well my drink costs more than yours," she mused.

"If that's what you want to tell yourself, Scully, but I still stand by the fact that I've watched people all across the country be enamoured with you. You can hardly blame me for wanting to toss my hat into the ring to get your attention," he smirked.

"Mulder, you're the focal point of my attention at all times," she retorted, throwing back the dregs of her first drink and setting it to the side in favor of her fresh one.

She watched him turn pensive at that, looking down into his melting ice with a small nod. "I meant that in a good way," she offered, nervous she'd accidentally misspoken and offended him.

He smiled at her, as if to dissuade her worry. "I know. And I know you wouldn't be anywhere you didn't want to be, but sometimes I worry you've felt like you had to stick around with me because your women's intuition knew I'd be lost without you."

"You think I'm with you out of pity?" she asked in surprise.

Her voice rang in the following beat of silence before an uncomfortable voice said, "Um, so I have your food." They both paused their discussion, but were too invested in it to make small talk, resulting in them just staring as the girl slid their meals in front of them.

"Uh, okay," the waitress laughed. "Let me know if you need anything else."

"Oh," Scully replied. "Can my friend get a water refill?"

"Absolutely," she beamed, taking Mulder's glass.

He cocked a teasing eyebrow at her before she repeated herself. "You think I'm with you out of pity?"

Mulder shook his head, as if he regretted being so open. "No, I don't mean pity. I just-our jobs are different than the rest of our coworkers' are. It's far more personal for us and I fear that made it harder for you to leave if you ever wanted to because we're so close."

"Have you ever told that to me? Like future me, your wife?" she asked.

"Here's your water," the waitress murmured, sliding the water to Mulder as she took furtive glances between the two.

"Thanks," they both mumbled, staying quiet until she was gone.

"You-uh, she says I'm being ridiculous," he replied.

"Because you are," she retorted. "I hate it when you do that."

"Do what?"

Scully stabbed the prongs of her fork into a stray pepper and brought it to her lips. "You act like I'm a wild animal tethered to you, desperately seeking escape back into my natural habitat."

She aggressively chewed her pepper while he responded. "But there are so many other things you could be doing if you wanted to."

"And I could be doing them right now," she replied, sipping her drink. "Work sucks right now, I'm so bored, and I feel like we're squandering away our talents. I also hate not having a space that's just ours."

"Then why not go-" he started, being interrupted but her leaning forward to emphasize her point.

"Why don't you? You're brilliant. If you asked to be relocated to the BSU or VCU they would die to have your profiling skills and you'd excel over all of them," she countered.

"Because I-we can't give up now," he replied with a gentle nod.

Scully pointed her fork at him with a triumphant smile. "Exactly," she replied. "I just don't like your mindset of if I wasn't with you that my life would be some perfect fantasy when joining the X-Files was the first thing that made me feel like I had a purpose. I was unhappy with my life and felt lost before I became your partner. Now I come-came to work every day challenged and tested and it was thrilling. Sometimes it feels like you're diminishing my feelings when you negate that by saying I'd be better off elsewhere when it's my life, and I don't think that's true."

She realized she'd really unloaded there and felt a flush creep across her cheeks that wasn't caused by the alcohol. He was smiling at her, a wide, toothy smile that was contagious. "I-you're right, I'm sorry for all the times I've invalidated you on accident. It makes me happy to hear you say that. I guess I just have a hard time believing I'm so lucky for you to be invested alongside me."

Scully raised her glass up to him, waiting for him to clink his cup against it. "Always," she replied with a toothy smile of her own.

"I didn't mean to get on my soap box while you were trying to enjoy your Chi-Chi's," she giggled. "Try your c-chimichanga."

"No, I really appreciated hearing that," he replied, cutting off a bite-sized piece to shovel into his mouth.

She watched him chew in anticipation. "So?"

"Just as average as I remember, and it's really hitting the spot," he chuckled.

"Good," she smirked, eating her own meal.

There was a nagging question that was churning in her gut that she wanted to ask. They'd just been open, so she could capitalize on the moment, but she was also nervous to hear the answer.

"You're being ominously quiet," he replied after a few minutes.

"WWhy haven't you made another move on me since we've been back from Antartica?" she pouted. He choked a little bit on his food and took a drink of his water to recover. "Is it because of what you just said? With your whole I-think-I'm-holding-back-Scully-thing?"

Mulder raised his eyebrows a little before cocking his head. "That was a big component I'd say."

"Why else then?" she prompted, attempting to nudge his leg only to accidentally kick his shin. "Sorry."

He laughed in response as he flushed. That was new, she felt like blushing had become her go-to over the past few days. "You're going to laugh," he replied.

"Maybe," she nodded, swigging her drink.

"You make me shy," he shrugged.

"What?" she replied, worried she'd finally asked and now she was too tipsy to understand.

"I had such a crush on you, still do, but back in those early years the thought of making a move made me weak in the knees. I think I finally got guts in the hallway because I felt like I was losing you. I couldn't let you resign without telling you know how much you mean to me," he replied.

She nodded lightly, poking at her food with her fork. "But… why haven't you again?" she murmured, looking up at him through her lashes nervously.

"Like I said earlier, I like you to set the terms," he shrugged. "That and everything we were just talking about regarding my debilitating lack of self-confidence."

That was as attractive as it was nerve wracking. "Can I ask how long it takes until I, um, make a move?" she asked timidly, downing the rest of her second drink.

"If you're asking when we become intimate,if memory serves, May of 2000," he replied, sipping his water.

"May of 2000," she repeated, louder than intended due to her shock, causing a small hush in the dining room.

Mulder laughed at her response and nodded. "It may seem like a long time, but I think it was perfect."

She looked at him in disbelief, unable to wrap her mind around the fact she still had so long to wait. "Perfect?" she repeated, trying to focus on the positive.

"I think we both needed to work some things out before we were ready to take that plunge, no pun intended."

"Ew."

"Sorry," he laughed. "But there were all sorts of things that we both needed closure on before we could do it right."

Scully nodded, taking another bite as she ruminated on his words. Samantha. For her, at least, that was something that had always held her back. She didn't want to give him all her love only to be shoved to the back burner when a new development occurred. It was important, she would never deny that, but she knew he'd throw his all into any lead - and she couldn't be left with nothing after giving her all to him.

Part of her wanted to ask him what really happened to Samantha. She already had a hint that she would be finding out within the next year and a half, but while she wanted to know, finding out without Mulder felt like the utmost betrayal. They needed to find out together.

"Was it good?" she decided to ask instead.

Laughter erupted from him once more and he put his hand to his chest in amusement. "Yes, better than anything I'd ever imagined. You're um, you're so perfect," he replied honestly, a sentimental smile taking over the prior amusement as he looked lost in a memory.

Upon his praise, she felt a warmth bloom in her chest, like a spark that was travelling through her veins and lighting her up. She always thought highly of what Mulder thought of her, but since this switch happened it felt different. It felt akin to how she'd feel in her relationships with Jack Willis and Daniel Waterston, an unabashed pride at having impressed an older man she respected.

But this was different.

In those relationships the power disparity ran underneath her like the humming of an electric current. The age difference, the status difference, a marked inferiority felt, on her part, like she had to be as smart or charming as possible to even gain a semblance of equal footing - something Mulder never made her feel. Mulder was a bit older than her, now even more so with his current mental state, yet he still went out of his way to let her know she was in control. His equal.

"I tend to give as good as I get," she lilted, wiping her mouth and hiding her smirk.

"I'm feeling things I never thought I'd feel in a Chi-Chi's," he replied, laughing when she did.

"When my Mulder comes back I'll have to bring him here more often. Gotta make sure he can get his fill before he can't experience this fine cuisine."

"Refer to him as your Mulder and he'll go anywhere with you," he joked.

"I'll keep that in mind," she replied, putting the cool back of her hands to her cheeks.

"Are you okay?" he asked.

"Um," she replied, laughing slightly. "I think I'm a little drunk."

"Oh yeah, you definitely are, but you're handling it like a true Irishwoman," he praised, passing his water over to her.

"Thanks," she smiled, taking a drink from his glass.

Mulder paid for their food before helping her out of the booth. She wasn't sloppily drunk, but she definitely appreciated the added stability of his arm around her. He helped her into the passenger seat with care before sliding in the driver's seat. It took a while to leave as Mulder had to exaggeratedly move everything to accommodate his height, and then he struggled to back up 'the old fashioned way.'

Mulder asked if he could take a few more detours just to look around the city, and she said it was fine as long as he went through the McDonalds drive thru and got her an ice cream cone to which he happily agreed. It was relaxing to just drive around aimlessly with Mulder as he talked about some of his favorite memories of them in the city. She could tell he was purposefully making sure to talk about things she'd remember, and it was oddly poignant - moments to her that were just 'Friday nights getting Chinese with Mulder' or 'that frustrating time last year where they spent all day trying to find where Mulder's car was towed' had managed to become endearing, sentimental reflections that he clearly held close to his heart.

She passed by these buildings everyday and didn't think anything of them, and to Mulder they were reflections of moments that made them who they were. "What's your favorite place in the city?" she asked after about an hour of driving.

Mulder pulled over and parked the car on the side of the road and turned off the engine. He looked over at her and smiled. "This one."

Scully looked around and realized they were back at her apartment. She smiled to herself as she unbuckled her seat belt, taking his hand as he opened the door for her. It was relatively early in the night, but she could tell they were both exhausted as he unsuccessfully tried to stifle his yawns on their way up the elevator and to her door.

"This was fun," she said, walking into her entryway.

"I agree," he replied, closing the door behind them.

She watched as he stretched before walking over to the couch. The thought of him laying here all night struggling to sleep made her feel bad, and it seemed ridiculous when there was such an obvious solution.

"You can sleep in my bed with me. Since you've been having a hard time sleeping out here," she offered, looking at him once to convey she was serious before her focus dropped to her nails.

"I don't want to make you uncomfortable, Scully. I'm intruding enough as is," he replied through a yawn.

"You're not intruding, nor making me uncomfortable. I wouldn't ask if I wasn't okay with it, but if you don't want to then you don't have to," she shrugged.

"I didn't say I didn't want to," he clarified. "I just don't want you to offer if you're not-"

"I am," she replied shortly, cutting him off.

"Oh, well, then yes. I appreciate that, Scully," he responded kindly.

"Good," she nodded.

"Good," he repeated, his voice brimming with mirth.

She looked up and saw he had an amused, almost gleeful smile on his face. It made her smile in response and she let out a little chuff of laughter. "I missed you," he blurted, gentle adoration in his gaze.

"From the sounds of it you're used to spending a lot of quality time with me," she lilted before adding, "Future me, that is I suppose."

"Yeah, but we've both changed over the years. It's fun seeing how different you used to be," he shrugged.

"Did I change for the bad?" she asked, feeling a little self-conscious.

"No, not at all. I think you just got more direct with age."

"How am I not direct?" she asked.

He smirked before shrugging, "Maybe I'm just tired. But, no, I love every iteration of you. You're the person I fell in love with after all," he replied.

Scully felt herself smile, and she knew she could get used to this continual affection. The words of reciprocity burned on her tongue, wanting to be released, but this Mulder had said them to her a thousand times. She wanted to share the moment of tension with Mulder when he told her himself for the first time.

Mulder must've taken her silence as a bad sign. "I'm sorry, was that too far? Am I back on the couch?" he joked even though he was sincerely checking that he hadn't pushed too far.

She shook her head once definitively. "No, not at all," she murmured with a soft smile. "But you're lucky I'm letting you sleep near me after how many Chimichangas I just watched you eat," she teased.

"That I am," he nodded.

"I presume you know where everything is?" she asked, smiling as he nodded. "I'm going to get ready for bed, I'll be there in a few minutes."

"Okay," he nodded, mirroring her.

He followed her down the hall with his bag in hand, going to the side of the bed she never used as if it was second nature. Scully grabbed her pyjamas, ducking into the bathroom to get ready.

Her makeup had worn a bit so that her freckles were more visible than usual, but other than that she looked pretty good for getting slightly drunk on a weekday. She quickly slipped into her silk pyjama set before finishing up her night routine. They'd shared a bed in the past before, usually one overstaying the welcome in the other's motel room ending up in them both passing out, but the fact it was in her own room made her nervous. Not that Mulder would try anything, he'd been nothing but a gentleman, but just the pure fact that the man of her dreams would be in such an intimate setting with her.

Deciding to enjoy the experience rather than get anxious over it, she walked into the bedroom only to see he'd passed out already, hugging the pillow she'd used last night against his chest with his nose buried in it. Like a jolt, she realized it wasn't the couch, it was that he'd become accustomed to sleeping with her. The thought made her eyes widen and a blush creep onto her cheeks that her presence could have such an effect on him.

Based on how she fell asleep a few minutes later, her arm reaching out towards him, it was safe to say the effect was mutual.

Chapter Text

2018

"I want to take you on a date," Mulder blurted unceremoniously while she was taking a sip of her afternoon coffee, mournfully lacking the caffeine she'd been craving since finding out she was pregnant.

The declaration wasn't all that out of the blue since he'd been buzzing with excitement all day, but Scully was still taken slightly aback nonetheless.

"A date?" she repeated after swallowing, wiping the upturned corners of her lips with the pad of her thumb.

He scratched the back of his neck like he usually did whenever he was shy and it made her heart ache with endeared affection to think he was bashful because of her. "I guess I maybe should have asked if we had any plans today first," he chuckled self-consciously.

There wasn't much about their current predicament that was convenient, but she could take solace in the fact this had all happened when it did. The spring semester of Quantico's training had ended a few weeks ago, so they had the entire summer to themselves to do as they wished — only needing to do miscellaneous work that was optional rather than required: course prep, research, maybe some writing if they were feeling advantageous. She couldn't imagine what this would have been like if they had to teach on top of figuring all this out.

"Nope, nothing except a date I'm going on with this cute guy I'm seeing," she replied kindly. Another sweet smile broke out across his lips and she couldn't help but mirror it as she added, "Though I must admit, we haven't really been on a date in years."

"Really?" he asked, his brows crinkling with disbelief.

"Well, I mean, we go out for meals often, but I wouldn't really consider those dates or anything," she replied with a shrug, taking another swig of her coffee.

When her gaze returned to Mulder, she caught him looking at her with an incredulous smile. "What?" she prompted, her foot finding his under the dining room table and tapping it teasingly.

When she moved to pull away, he trapped her foot within his while chuckling, but she noticed the way the gleam in his eyes shifted from humor to the look of unabashed adoration he'd been giving her as of late that made her blush despite herself. "I feel like I've spent so long imagining how I'd like to romance you, and when I have the opportunity to finally do it, I haven't taken full advantage of the opportunity?" he mused.

"Oh, I didn't say you don't romance me," she clarified suggestively, her toes traveling higher up his calf. "I just said we don't go on dates."

Mulder reached under the table, grabbing her foot and bringing it up onto his lap so he could press his thumbs into the sole for an impromptu foot massage. He smirked when an involuntary hum of appreciation resonated in the back of her throat, and he murmured lowly, "What about it, Scully? Let me treat you today."

Scully hadn't seen him this excited about something other than the baby since their porch wedding a few months ago, and the thought that his childlike enthusiasm spurred from him wanting to spend more time with her made her smile grow even wider. "I'm all yours," she replied.

Mulder instructed her to get ready while he made a few calls. Scully didn't have many 'fancy' clothes, and her pregnancy belly made it a little hard to zip up some of her more elegant dresses, so she ended up putting on a deep emerald sundress that was both stretchy and nice enough to pass as formal wear. She started down the stairs, only to hear him still on the phone, so she went back up and decided to do her makeup to give him a little extra time.

As she got to the top of the stairs, she was struck by a new sight she hadn't fully absorbed yet: the open door of the room at the end of the hallway. It was such a small, but significant thing. For as long as they'd lived here, that door remained shut, and seeing it not only open but recently used and causing a happy rather than mournful reaction felt like a fresh start. She walked down the hall, the smell of paint starting to her nose, and went into the baby's room.

They'd spent the morning painting and seeing their hard work brought a smile to her face. They still needed to build the crib and diaper changing station they'd picked up, but it already was starting to feel real. The walls were now painted in the nautical nighttime shade, and Mulder had spent extra time going over all the walls to finely paint stars and constellations so that it really looked like the night sky.

She never imagined they would get this chance. Despite all they had to go through to get here, the fact she was finally going to get the chance to have a family with Mulder and live happily and freely overwhelmed her in the best way possible. For so long this room had been filled with regret and the ghost of a lost child, now it was home to so much love and a new future.

She wiped the tears from her eyes and decided she should continue getting ready and avoid inhaling more paint fumes. When moved to leave, she paused to examine the doorframe. Just as they'd finished, he made her stand with her back against the wood as he painted a fine line above her head, steadying her as she precariously reached above his head afterward to mark his height as well. She then watched as Mulder, with the utmost care and delicacy, painted Mommy and Daddy with the date by their respective heights before using a measuring tape to mark out different height signifiers. It was sweet and made her eyes water thinking of the years they had in front of them where they'd watch their child grow.

Scully made her way to the bathroom and applied some nude makeup before going to meet Mulder only to see he was already waiting for her at the bottom of the stairs and had apparently snuck by her to get ready.

She smiled at seeing he'd chosen her favorite blue shirt of his, even though he didn't know that. Before she had a chance to compliment him, Mulder took her into his arms appreciatively. "Wow," he sighed in awe, grabbing her arm lightly as his eyes raked her body once over before resting on her face. "You look phenomenal," he murmured.

"You don't look so bad yourself," she replied with a smile.

She caught his eye and felt her pulse quicken at how intense his gaze on her was. He opened his mouth like he was going to say something before he closed it and decided to act instead. Scully felt his hand wrap around her neck, cupping the base of her skull gently as his mouth descended onto hers. They'd kissed thousands of times, but his recent kisses held so much reverence it made her knees feel weak.

What might have been kiss number 103,304 for her might've been his tenth and she could feel how much the marvel was new to him, how much he was enjoying their electricity. It reminded her of when they first got back together after being separated for so long, how much gratitude came through his kisses after realizing what life was like without them.

Mulder broke away after a moment, his breath haggard from the intensity. His eyes were black with desire and she felt her cheeks flush with color at his attention. "Did I mention you're beautiful?" he breathlessly asked.

Then she giggled, actually giggled, like she was a teenager being complimented by a boy for the first time rather than a grown woman being complimented by her husband and partner of twenty years.

"So where are we going?" she inquired, running her hands up and down his arms slowly.

"Nowhere if you keep that up," he teased, kissing her once more before pulling away. "It's a secret."

"Oo, how mysterious," she lilted, following him as he led her out the door.


She tried getting it out of him as he drove them into town, but he kept sweetly deflecting, merely taking her hand in his and kissing it. They truly hadn't been on a real date in so long. The fact Mulder wanted to do this for her just to make her feel valued and appreciated and to show his love for her meant the world. They'd fallen into a comfortable pattern of domesticity that she cherished, as it was something she never expected they could have, but she still enjoyed moments of spontaneity.

Scully hadn't recognized the address he'd put into the GPS, and as the minute countdown on the dashboard kept dwindling, she still couldn't place where exactly they were going. She only started to realize what his plan was when he pulled into the parking lot.

"Mulder," she began hesitantly, amusement brimming over her tone to the point her question was almost a laugh. "W-where are we?"

He unbuckled his seatbelt and turned to her with shy mirth. "Well, I wanted this date to be special, and I wasn't sure what we have or haven't done before, so I tried to think of something out-of-the-box that would surprise you."

"You succeeded," she laughed, looking at a big sign that read East Potomac Mini Golf Course.

"We could always-" he began before being silenced by her leaning over to kiss him.

She pulled back with a smile and shook her head. "Don't think about it, this is perfect."

Unsurprisingly, they were the only people on the minigolf course on a Tuesday evening. They both got their putters and balls - hers neon orange while his was neon green - and they made their way to the first obstacle course.

"Have you ever been before?" he asked, plopping his ball down and hitting it, making it straight into the hole at the end of the course.

Her jaw dropped as she looked at him. "Probably not in over thirty years, but I take it you have?"

Mulder shrugged playfully before answering, "You'd be surprised how wild Langly's birthdays were." She chuckled as she placed her ball on the mark, her swing not as successful as his had been.

"What did we do on our first date?" he asked, playfully swinging his putter at his feet.

"I'm not really sure," she replied, lining her shot up. "Depends on how you classify the word date."

"What do you mean?" he replied, his eyes following the ball as it breezed past his shoes.

She chuckled and shrugged, "We were unconventional. We did things others would consider dates before we were ever together, so distinction gets a little hard. One time early on you took me to see the Liberty Bell."

"I remember that!" he laughed, taking his turn when they went to the next course. "That was really early in our partnership."

"You took me to a special location, you bought my food and a souvenir, and we took a photo together in front of it. Plus we were surrounded by teenagers going on their first date doing the exact same thing so that technically could be considered a date, but you didn't mean it like that right?" she stated.

"To be honest, I thought you were going to reject me, so when you said you'd go with me I was excited at the prospect of having a friend that wasn't one of the Lone Gunmen," he smiled at the memory.

"We were so sweet," she mused, a look of reminiscent bliss painting her face. "One night, maybe six or so years into our partnership, you took me out to the batting cages; and while you didn't call it a date, I think we both knew that's what we wanted it to be."

"I took you to the batting cages?" he asked incredulously. "That's where I was going to take you tonight, but when I called and asked if it was safe for pregnant women they said it wasn't a good idea."

She smiled at the knowledge that even under these new circumstances, Mulder's first instinct for a date was to share something he loved with her. "I think your lesson was very informative, but I must say I think we devolved from the task at hand rather quickly," she laughed, walking with him to the next hole.

"How so?" he prompted, setting his ball down and hitting it. A wide smile spread on her face at the memory and she could feel her pulse quicken slightly in remembrance of that night. Mulder noticed her reaction and she watched his expression mirror hers, "What?"

"Well," she chuckled, setting her ball down. "You started off by showing me how to hit the ball, standing behind me while wrapping your arms around mine."

As she spoke, he copied his past self and she felt his back press against hers while his hands slid down her arms until their fingers were joined around the putter. "Then what?" he murmured against her ear.

"You showed me your technique," she added, grinning as he unwittingly mimicked the Mulder from all those years ago. Using her arms, he tightened his grip, stepping closer so that they were flushed, and took a hit at the ball while his body leaned against hers more than necessary.

They both stood together and watched as the orange ball spun on the turf until it made a hollow thunk as it fell into the hole. "Like that?" he asked, keeping her pressed to him in the enclosure of his arms.

"Mhm," she murmured. Then, mimicking the Scully from all those years ago, she pressed back into him. It was innocent enough with the guise of what they were doing, but from the familiar bulge she felt growing against the top of her ass, it had its intended effect.

He hummed in appreciation and chuckled huskily. "I like the way you play," he muttered.

"You did then too," she teased, rubbing herself against him tauntingly before walking out of his arms. Looking over her shoulder, she saw him standing there with a goofy look on his face and sweetly chirped, "Your turn."

"Did anything happen?" he asked, walking towards his ball.

"We were being discreet, for one because you'd hired a young page boy to load the machine for us, but also because we'd never purposefully done anything like that and it was as terrifying as it was exhilarating," she explained.

"That didn't answer my question," he remarked.

"Aside from some flirtatious grinding, nothing," she answered, laughing as he audibly groaned in frustration. "The page boy had to go home, and after that, I honestly think we were both so horny and nervous we didn't know what to do. I just thanked you for the great night, kissed you on the cheek, and we left in separate cars."

"Horny you say?" he asked, his eyebrows raised in amusement.

Scully remembered that night vividly. There had been a lot of times they'd inadvertently turned the other on, even times where they both awkwardly recognized the suggestive nature of some situations they found themselves in, but that was the first time they had both been purposefully, overtly, and effectively arousing the other. She remembered distinctly how aroused she'd get every time they hit the ball and he pressed himself against her, and how tantalizing it was when she'd then push back. "I think if either of us had made a move we very well might have had sex that night," she admitted.

He whistled lowly and exclaimed, "Damn."

"I think it's a miracle neither of us has carpal tunnel or arthritis from all the tension we had to relieve ourselves of," she joked, hitting her ball into the hole.

"Dana Katherine Scully," he exclaimed in shock. She turned to him and saw a look of boyish glee on his face. "Are you admitting to doing the deed with yourself because of our sexual tension?"

"Maybe," she teased with a wink. "Surely I wasn't the only one."

"You got that right," he murmured, the astonished grin still on his face while he pulled the flag out of the ground and grabbed their balls.

"Aside from that, we did a lot of movie nights at each other's places," she replied. "We'd alternate and the host would order food and the visitor would pick the movie. I think before being intimate we would just calling it hanging out, but with how the night usually ended after we'd had sex the first time, I think those were dates for us."

"I think we should resume that tradition," he remarked as he lined up his next shot.

"We'll have to adapt, being that we live together now, but I'm not at all opposed," she remarked, noting there seemed to be a flash of something pass over his face, but it was replaced with a smile before she could question it too much.

"I'd like that," he replied.

"Me too," she nodded with a smile.

"So... did we ever do any date-dates?" he asked, transferring their balls to the next course.

"Oh yeah," she replied. "Lots. I guess one of the first dates I remember us doing after getting together was in L.A. Which reminds me, I know what movie I want us to watch for our first movie night," she giggled, thinking of the unreleased copy of that terrible movie adaptation of their lives a red-faced Skinner had reluctantly given her.

He chuckled at her enthusiasm and nodded. "Okay, I'm game, but what did we do in L.A?"

"We were invited out there for a special occasion and Skinner ended up loaning us a bureau credit card that we could use for a night, so we bought fancy sushi, drank the most expensive wine I've ever had, and we just walked around for hours enjoying the fact we didn't have to hide the fact we were together. Then we went back to the hotel and made love."

"That sounds great," he replied, fond of the memory despite his inability to recall it. "I bet Skinner regretted that as soon as he had to explain it on the expense report. By the way, how's he doing?"

"He got injured helping us a while back, he would've died if he wasn't so quick on his feet, but he's good. We should go see him sometime," she replied.

"I'd love to see that bald head of his again," he stated, moving his putter.

"Remember Arlene?" she asked.

"His secretary?"

"Yeah, they got married," she explained, remembering how happy Skinner had been when he'd told them they were engaged.

Mulder looked at her with a wide smile. "Really? Well I'll be damned, looks like we weren't the only office romance. Good for them."

She nodded, hitting her ball and inadvertently sending his flying in the wrong direction. They chuckled and she added, "After a hard case in 2008 we took an island vacation. That was really fun."

"Did we do anything like that for our honeymoon?" he asked.

"Our honeymoon was spent in bed," she answered suggestively.

Mulder waggled his eyebrows in response and asked, "If you could travel anywhere in the world right now, where would you want to go?"

She thought about it for a moment, but only one thing came to mind. "I like being home," she answered honestly. "Ask me again later, but right now I'm exactly where I want to be."

He looked touched and sauntered up to her, playfully putting his putter around her and drawing her to him. "I love you," he whispered, leaning forward to kiss her lips softly.

She let her eyes flutter closed as she kissed him back, revelling in the sweetness of the summer evening air breezing around them. Her dress fluttered against his legs as the cool metal of the putter stroked her back while he set it down. When they pulled apart, she watched his eyes open so he could look down at her reverently. "I love you more," she whispered back.

Mulder looked amused by that and she saw him almost imperceivably shake his head. "Impossible," he replied.

Then, for the first time in their partnership, Mulder felt a bulge from Scully press into his stomach. "What was that?" he asked, a quizzical look on his face as he looked down.

"Give me your hand," she demanded enthusiastically, taking Mulder's hand with her own and placing it on the gentle swell of her belly.

"Was that the baby kicking?" he asked excitedly, his fingers gently curving around the swell.

"Or a punch maybe," she nodded, tears springing in her eyes. Scully felt little rumblings before, but she was just coming on eighteen weeks and that was the first time she'd distinctly felt movement.

"Maybe the kid's cheering for Dad's amazing mini golf skills," he joked, his hand moving ever so slightly. Then, adding softly and full of hope, "Do you think they'll do it again?"

"Maybe," she mused.

"You're amazing," he murmured. She looked up and saw him staring at her in awed affection. Scully was glad she glanced up because she got to see first hand the look of emotional surprise when the baby gently thumped into his hand.

"Oh my god," he whispered reverently. "That's incredible, and I think they were agreeing with me that Mommy's amazing."

A tear of happiness slid down her cheek at the sweetness of the moment. Mulder had missed so much last time, and the fact he got to be here to experience the baby's first kick felt like a token of good things to come. Fortuitous of many firsts that they'd be able to share.

They waited like that for a moment, trying to see if anything else would happen. "I think they tuckered themselves out. All you'll feel now is my stomach rumbling."

"What does it feel like?" he asked, retracting his hand slowly.

"This early on it just feels like a tap, like if you weren't really conscious of it you'd assume it's indigestion or gas," she replied.

He threw his head back in a hearty laugh. "Wow, the miracle of life or flatulence, what a thing to have to distinguish between."

"I'm amazed they did it twice on their first time, they must've been excited," she replied, looking down at her sundress and realizing she'd never be able to get rid of it because of this very memory.

"That was the first kick?" he replied in surprise. She nodded and a wide smile erupted on his face. "Wow."

Scully was amazed at how easily he'd adapted to this role. If she'd tried to imagine what it would have been like having 1998 Mulder plopped in this situation, at least memory wise, she would have guessed he'd have a hard time adjusting to having his work solved for him and having to slip into the role of father. She remembered how almost one-track minded and blinded he could be, but here he was without a care in the world, merely content from being with her. It dawned on her that while he was searching for Samantha to give her justice, it was indicative of Mulder's simple desire to be a part of a family that wasn't shattered by tragedy.

It made her heart swell with affection for the man.

A small buzzing sound emitted from his pocket and his eyes widened as he pulled out his phone and saw the time. "Hey, speaking of stomach rumbles, are you hungry? Looks like our reservations will be ready soon."

"Mulder, I'm pregnant. I'm always hungry," she chuckled.

They finished their last hole, Mulder beating her significantly, much to his amusement. "Looks like we'll have to come back and I can give you some more lessons," he teased as she walked up to a vending machine.

She pulled out her wallet and slid her debit card through the reader so she could get a bottle of water. "I'm not opposed," she lilted.

Upon turning to him, she saw a look of confusion written across his face. "Hm?" she prompted, taking a sip of the water before offering it to him.

"Did you just use your card on the vending machine?" he asked, taking a swig from the bottle.

She took it back from him and started walking to the car, watching as he looked back to the machine before following her. "Yeah, those are popular now," she answered.

"Do you know how much hassle that would have saved us at motels?" he asked, unlocking the car as they approached it. "The amount of scavenging for change we had to do. It always felt like we were a nickel or dime short."

"I guess I never thought of that, but you're right," she chuckled, sliding into the passenger seat as a wave of nostalgia hit her. "Damn, I miss our midnight vending machine runs."

"We always end up getting to our motels so late we have to make dinner out of junk food," he laughed, accidentally using present tense. "Used to end up, I guess."

Smiling as the memories flooded back, she started laughing, "Do you remember that time I was in so much pain from my period that you tried to make me feel better by buying me one of everything?"

"I remember that vividly," he stated emphatically, putting the new address in the GPS. "You were trying to hide it, but you were in so much pain you kept doubling over and I felt so awful."

A memory she'd forgotten came back and she added, "Oh my god, and you sat in my room with me and rubbed my back while I ate." She let out a little hum of fondness at the memory and stated, "That was so sweet of you."

He looked bashful and simply replied, "I just wanted to make you feel better. At that moment I realized that once a month you were in pain and suffering while I dragged you all over the country and I felt like an ass."

She reached over and held his hand fondly. "You're not an ass, weren't an ass," she reassured with a smirk. "I don't think I ever told you this, but I remember waking up while you tucked me in and I felt myself fall more in love with you in that moment."

"You woke up?" he asked, embarrassed. "I was worried you would be weirded out."

"Quite the opposite," she mused, watching him smile to himself.

The restaurant was only seven minutes away, across a bridge, so they arrived in no time. "Del Mar?" she read off the sign when Mulder opened the door.

"I called the travel agency and asked for a recommendation and they said this place was really good," he replied earnestly.

Scully found herself smiling, endeared by the fact he did something as outdated as calling a travel agency when he could have looked it up on his phone. "I've heard it by reputation, but we've never actually been here yet. I'm excited to try it." She knew it was really expensive, and she had a feeling he asked for something that would be a real treat for her.

They were seated in the corner by a beautiful window that overlooked the wharf. "Look, I can see the golf course we were just at," she remarked, pointing to the green area on the other side of the water.

"I hope whoever sat here before us was impressed at how great my mini golf skills are," he joked, causing her to roll her eyes in jest.

When the waitress came, she ordered the salmon dish and he a ribeye, before sitting together and enjoying the view.

"Do you ever miss it? The 'good ol' days'?" he asked, presumably still thinking about their conversation in the car.

Scully contemplated that, idly putting her hands on her stomach. She thought about their past often, that was certain, but did she miss it? "If you're asking if I wish I could go back, no. I'm happy right where I am," she replied.

"But there's nothing you miss?" he asked, taking a drink of his water.

"There were painful moments, they led me here so in a way I suppose I'm partially grateful they happened and I wouldn't change anything, but I certainly don't miss those at all," she mused before adding. "I guess I do miss the little moments of ours."

"Like what?" he prompted.

"Small things, you know?" she admitted. "Like how we were mentioning earlier. Even though there were times we were exhausted when we were travelling, it was fun and exhilarating."

Mulder smiled widely and leaned forward dramatically. "I'm sorry. Did Dana Scully say she missed travelling?" he laughed, no doubt recalling all the times she complained.

"I know, I know," she laughed. "But we really got to know each other because of all our travel time. I miss the nights after we solved a case and we'd hang out before flying home the next day, and I miss our trips to seven-eleven."

"You miss our gas station stops?" he asked incredulously.

She shrugged, "It's like I don't realize the little traditions we had and have that define our relationship until I'm looking back on them. We were just friends for so long, but yet we knew such intimate things about each other because of all the time we spent together."

Mulder seemed entranced by her explanation and she realized how odd it probably was to him since that time in their lives felt so fresh. It was seldom one looked around at the life they were living and contextualized it in a larger scheme. How a current favorite song would define a time in one's life, how the views around one might change overtime until the familiar became a memory, she could only imagine how strange the reflixity of her musings were to him. "Like what?"

"Like," she paused, wanting to think of good examples. "It's silly, but I learned your snack preferences over time to the point I could surprise you without needing to ask. I could tell if you were in a good mood or not by how you'd respond to me. I realized over time you set the radio in the car to stations you knew I liked because I'd wake up and you were listening to something else, only to turn it when you saw I was awake."

"No wonder you're such a good agent," he remarked, before reminiscing, "You always fell asleep on me during road trips and I thought it was so cute."

"Wanna know something you did back in the day that pulled at young Scully's heartstrings?" she asked, amused by how candid they were being.

"More than you know," he replied eagerly.

"I always melted when I woke up and realized you'd covered me with your jacket. Sometimes I used to pretend I was asleep longer than I was because I just wanted to lay there and enjoy the intimacy of it," she admitted before covering her face with her hands shyly. "That's so embarrassing now that I say it out loud."

"No, it's adorable," he answered.

An idea floated in her mind and she put her hands in her lap as she posed it to him. "Do you remember that thing we used to do back when we were trying to get to know each other more? Where we'd just ask each other questions and the other would have to answer honestly or confess something random that was embarrassing? What did we call it?"

"Secret for secret?" he replied, a glimmer shining in his eye as he realized what she was going to ask.

"Wanna play?" she suggested. While part of her realized it was a bit silly, they'd spent so much time together she practically knew everything about him, she thought it might help his memory and she was enjoying reminiscing.

"I do," he answered with a big smile. "You first."

Back when they used to play it, they usually asked tame questions just out of curiosity. Favorite musician, best childhood memory, things of that nature. One time on a stakeout they'd accidentally gotten a little suggestive and they both became too nervous to bring it up again. She had a feeling this time was going to be much juicier than it had been back then.

Deciding to just go for it, she asked, "What's a memory you have where you felt yourself fall in love with me?"

"There are so many," he replied instantly before sitting back and rubbing his chin in concentration. "One that sticks out that happened recently, for me, was after Crump died," he replied.

"Crump," she repeated to herself. "The man with the ringing in his ears?"

Mulder nodded, looking sorrowful. "When he died I was so upset with myself and everyone kept trying to ask me questions, but you wouldn't let anyone near me. I'm not sure how well you remember it, but you snapped at anyone who so much as looked my way, loaded me into your car, and drove me back to the motel. You knew I was upset without me having to say it, and I loved you for it. You helped me feel better just by being near me, and I love it when you're protective of my emotions like that."

Scully felt herself smiling at his confession. She remembered how much he'd shut down after getting out of the car, and she just knew she wanted to get him somewhere safe. "Always," she stated, laying her hand across the table as an invitation for him.

He laid his hand on top of hers and interlaced their fingers. "Have you ever been jealous? If so, when?"

"Do you remember Bambi?" she replied instantly.

"The bug woman?" he balked with a laugh.

She just raised her eyebrows while she took a swig of her drink, causing him to laugh in disbelief.

"Are you serious?" he asked before emphatically adding, "Is that why you drove out there in the middle of the night?"

Scully shrugged playfully and took a sip of her water. "Maybe."

"You're full of surprises," he mused with a grin. "But Bambi and Fox? It's too cheesy to even entertain."

She nodded in response while trying to decide on her next question."Was there ever a time you wanted to kiss me, but you didn't?" she prompted, running her fingers over the skin of the back of his hand.

"I always want to kiss you, Scully," he replied sincerely.

"That's cheating," she chuckled.

"Fine, but it's true," he stated before contemplating his answer. "Actually, I remember the first time I ever even thought about kissing you."

"Really?" she replied in shock.

Mulder nodded and explained, "Uh, our first case together, actually. When you came into my room."

"When I stripped half-naked?" she asked, still chagrined at how uncharacteristically frantic she'd gotten. She replayed that in her mind for months after it happened, unable to believe she'd actually gone to his room like that.

"Not then, though I was touched at the level of trust you showed me, especially because I don't think you'd do that with everyone," he replied, as if reading her mind. "It was after, first when you hugged me. I just never really got hugged much growing up. In fact, even with past girlfriends we didn't really hug, so when you did I just felt an urge to kiss you. That was more of a fleeting thought because I was concerned for you, but after a while, when you were cold and slid into my bed and we'd just been talking, I thought about kissing you."

"What stopped you?" she asked.

"Everything," he exclaimed with a laugh. "Someone finally treats me like I'm more than a joke and I just plant one on them? You would have ran for the hills."

"I don't know," she mused, trying to really think of what she might've done.

Mulder looked shocked at her reply and stammered, "W-what?"

"I had no idea what our lives would end up like at that point," she shrugged. "I have always considered you handsome. I was scared, I thought it was a temporary assignment. I really don't know. I might've let you kiss me plus some."

His mouth gaped open in shock as he looked at her. "Did I ever tell you that's actually a fantasy of mine?" he asked. "Minus the part about you being scared."

"No, but I've never told you it's one of mine too. Now it's even better knowing you wanted to kiss me," she teased.

"It's infinitely better for me knowing you apparently might have let me plus some," he replied.

She laughed, trying to subdue her amusement when the waitress set their food down in front of them.

When she left, she looked back to Mulder and said, "Your turn."

"Same question. When was a time you wanted to kiss me and you didn't?" he replied, cutting up his steak.

"I always want to kiss you, Mulder," she purred impishly, repeating his words back to him.

"That's cheating," he chuckled back.

"I think that's hard because you have such distinguishable lips," she admitted.

"Scully, have you seen your lips? They're the lips of dreams," he praised.

She instinctively licked her lips, watching his eyes track the movement. "But there's something about your bottom lip that's mesmerizing, Mulder. I can't pin the first time I thought about kissing you because of that. If I so much as look at your face, I look at your lip and I just have an urge to kiss it."

"I always thought I looked kinda goofy," he replied with a chuckle.

Her brows furrowed at his admittance and she replied, "What do you mean?"

"I'm not saying I think I'm ugly," he replied off her look. "But just, my nose is so big and then my top lip is tiny compared to my bottom one. I don't know, I just got a caricature portrait done one time and it was a humbling experience."

"Mulder, you're one of the most handsome men I've ever met," she stated firmly. He grinned sweetly at her and she added. "One time in particular I remember early on was when we were in Alaska."

"With the parasite?" he replied, clearly surprised.

"I mean," she smirked. "Maybe I'm off base, but when we were in that storage room together things were tense."

"And you thought about kissing me?" he exclaimed.

She shrugged and smiled in acquiencance. "When you pulled me back and checked me for the parasite, it was the first time you'd really touched me and I liked it. A lot. I was relieved we were both okay and I just wanted to kiss you, but there was no way I could since there was an audience outside."

"That's another fantasy of mine," he replied. "Minus the people outside."

Scully was pleased to discover that they apparently shared a mutual affinity for fantasizing about moments they wished had gone further. "I enjoy that one too. I also think about what it would have been like if I snuck into your room and asked if I could stay with you."

"Can I be honest?" he replied.

"Please," she prompted.

He grinned and replied, "If that had happened, I can guarantee you I would have been thrilled at you showing that you trust me, and in my desire to make sure you knew how much I respect and value you; I would have given you my bed, my jacket, and I would have slept on the floor. It would have been so tragically not sexy."

Laughter trickled out of her mouth at the truth of his words. It was fun to reminisce and imbue desires into memory, but they were pitifully nervous for years and perilously bad at timing. "You're right. I can't believe how much we cared about each other was what stopped us from letting us be together for so long," she mused.

After a moment of content silence, she realized it was her turn. "Oh, um," then biting her lip, she glanced around to make sure none of the patrons were too close.

"Ooh, a juicy one," he replied before putting some asparagus in his mouth.

"Was there ever a time you could tell I was aroused while we were together?" she whispered. She'd just always been curious.

His eyes widened and nearly choked on the food he was trying to swallow. "Sorry," she chuckled. "I just definitely noticed quite a few moments where you got hard, like on stakeouts or in the office. Or times where you were just looking at me and I knew you were aroused and trying to conceal it, but could you tell when I was?"

"Hang on, let me think. I'm still recovering from the knowledge that you were admittedly aroused around me back then, and the fact I wasn't as discreet as I thought I was," he mirthfully replied.

"It was endearing," she replied, taking a bite of her salmon. "And hot."

"Well, you have the added benefit of subtlety."

"Sorry, it's impossible for you to be subtle at that size," she interrupted.

"Thank you," he laughed. "So most of mine is speculation, but do you remember the case where my ex Phoebe Green came into town?"

"Yeah," she replied, uncertain of where he was going with it.

"I don't know if you remember, but there was a time I was sitting in my hotel room and I didn't have a shirt on and I'm not sure if aroused would be the right word, but I think you were flustered because of me."

"Oh my god, I forgot about that," she added, nodding as the memory came back to her. "I was taken aback at how comfortable you were with me. I was flustered because I was getting such a look at your body, but I was a little on edge at the idea that you didn't care."

"That I didn't care?" he repeated.

"I don't know," she sighed trying to put thoughts into words. "I appreciated how you treated me more than you'll ever know when so many other men at the FBI belittled and condescended me, but I guess at the same time I didn't want you to see me as just one of the guys. I was afraid you didn't see me as a woman, I guess."

"Oh, trust me. I painfully was aware of your femininity. I just recognized it as a power rather than a weakness," he replied earnestly.

"Good answer," she praised into the rim of her glass.

"Was there ever a time you were ashamed to be with me?" he asked.

The question was so out of the blue she felt it like a shock to her system. However, looking at him, he didn't seem like it was an odd question at all. "What do you mean? Why would you ask me that?" she asked, setting her drink down.

Mulder just shrugged and offered, "I don't know, just curious."

It bothered her that he'd even think that, but she tried to contextualize it that their relationship was still new to him, that he didn't have the same history for them that she did. She wasn't sure if he meant together as his partner at the FBI or his partner in life, but she decided the answer was the same either way.

"I've only ever felt pride at being your partner, Mulder. Never doubt that. You're brilliant, charming, and the best man I could ever dream of being with in all walks of life," she reassured, reaching across the table to grab his hand.

He smiled slightly and murmured, "I don't deserve you."

While part of her thought he was trying to joke, she could tell he sincerely believed that to be true. "I am who I am today because you make me a better person. You challenge me to broaden my perspectives, you show me the power of empathy and compassion, and you allow me to experience what it feels like to be loved unconditionally. I don't want to hear you talk about yourself like that again because it's not true. I'm so lucky to have you."

"I'm sorry. I didn't mean to upset you," he replied.

"You said it yourself, I'm very protective of you," she reminded him with a smile, squeezing his hand in emphasis.

She'd decided they should wander onto a new topic of conversation after that, not wanting to let him wander into any territory that led him to self-deprecation, and the rest of their time was spent jovially enjoying each other's company. They finished their meal shortly after that, and left the restaurant hand in hand, adamant that dates would become a routine part of their lives from now on. They walked the short distance to their car as the breeze from the wharf swirled around them. Mulder squeezed her hand lightly and when she looked at him, she followed his gaze to the sunset, the colors bleeding together with a gentle beauty that took her breath away.

"The perfect end to a perfect day," he murmured.

She didn't know if she'd ever been so content.


Scully kept losing him in the house. He respected her space when she went off to do whatever she needed to get done in the evenings, and it was always fun to see what he'd gotten lost in or where he was loitering. When they'd gotten home she'd been so tired from being on her feet from painting the nursery in the morning and their later date, that she spent an hour soaking in the tub while leaving him to his own devices. After the water became lukewarm around her, she got dressed for bed and continued her new nightly tradition of trying to find Mulder. She made her way through their house, checking each room for him, only to find that tonight he'd decided to hang out in his office.

Leaning against the doorframe, she watched as he rummaged through various papers, before idly clicking around on his computer. He was commanding the space confidently, but the crinkle between his brows showed he was still confused about something.

"Are you trying to find Microsoft Paint?" she teased, remembering how often he would waste time by making nonsensical doodles to make her laugh, especially when she sat behind him in the bullpen.

He chuckled a little, but when his eyes met hers, she sobered her expressions and knew he was doing something serious. "Are you alright?" she asked, walking forward and taking the seat on the other side of the desk facing him. Just like old times.

"I've just been looking through different files," he replied, glancing down at the papers scattering the desk before looking back at the computer monitor.

"Looking for anything in particular?" she asked. The chair groaned in protest as she leaned back, watching as he looked lost in thought, his mouth opening and closing a few times before answering.

"I don't know," he sighed, rubbing a hand through his hair.

"Mulder, what's wrong?" Her voice softened as she asked, her brows furrowing in concern. "Did you find something that bothered you?" She couldn't imagine what that would be, but it was obvious to her he was upset by something and trying not to let it show or he was trying to avoid appearing irrational.

"The opposite actually," he mumbled, confusing her further.

Sitting up slightly, she brought her hands to her stomach and decided to be direct. "Mulder, I don't like guessing games. What's bothering you?"

He chewed on his bottom lip as he brought his hand nervously to the back of his neck. After a moment of silence, he glanced at her and asked: "Scully, can I ask my heavy hitter?"

Her biggest fears were out of the way; he knew about their firstborn, he knew what happened to Samantha, he knew their mothers and the Gunmen had passed. She didn't think there was anything as heavy left, so she was just ready to quell whatever nerves he was having. "Go ahead," she replied, rubbing her hand across the skin-warmed silk covering the gentle swell of her abdomen.

"I don't know how to ask because I don't know the question," he sighed, rubbing his hand through his hair.

Scully felt confusion mount at what he meant. He was clearly anxious, and it was starting to become contagious. "Try," she prompted.

His mouth fell open as he tried to find his words, staying like that until he started vocalizing his thoughts. "I...um, I've been trying to be observant these past few days. It's like I'm attempting to piece together a puzzle, but I feel like I'm missing most of the pieces. Not only that, but when I start to put things together, I'm not sure what it is that I'm looking at."

He made eye contact with her again, the look in his eyes so severe as if hoping she'd know what it was he was alluding to. But, in a rare instance, their non-verbal communication wasn't helping them. It felt like whatever it was had been bothering him for a while, and it made her sad to think that he'd been struggling in silence especially when they'd been having so much fun as of late.

"Tell me what you see, or what you don't see if that's easier," she murmured encouragingly.

"You said after the X-Files disbanded that I was off the grid while you worked at the hospital, right?" he asked.

"Not necessarily at the same time, but you're close," she replied in encouragement. "You were wanted for a crime you didn't commit, and we both were on the run from the FBI. We just laid low and travelled around the U.S."

"You did that for me?" he asked, a look of pensive sadness on his face.

Scully leaned forward and extended her hand out for his. He placed his palm in hers and she drew their joined hands to her lips so she could kiss his knuckles. "For us," she whispered against his skin.

He smiled softly at her before continuing, "You said in 2008 we worked on the X-Files again? Did someone find us?"

"In 2005 I was pardoned. Skinner contacted my mother, under the presumption that if I was in touch with anyone it would be her, and she said I was a free woman. We had to be cautious, but that's when we ended up getting this house and you hid here without anyone other than Skinner and my mother knowing for three years. That was around the time I started working for the hospital."

"So we've lived here since 2005?" he asked pensively, playing idly with her fingers.

Scully's brows furrowed as she processed this. She'd presumed this line of questioning was some curiosity he had about the X-Files, to hear it be about the house was unexpected. "Yes," she nodded.

He bit the inside of his cheek for a moment and nodded as if digesting this information. "I'm confused because I have photos on my phone of you moving earlier this year," Mulder mumbled softly.

Before she could explain, he turned and met her gaze with a forlorn intensity that broke her heart. "Scully, was there a time we weren't together?"

It was one of the worst periods of her life and seeing her pain surface on Mulder's face was devastating. Realizing it had been on his mind for a while now made his question at dinner make more sense to her. He had been trying to figure out what he'd done wrong but didn't know where to start. "Yes," she whispered, barely wanting to give voice to that time in their lives.

"What did I do?" he asked, self-loathing bleeding into his tone.

She shook her head and brought her other hand up to trap his within her grasp. "Don't do that to yourself, Mulder. It's in the past."

"Not to me," he whispered, clearly living through the pain for the first time. "When did you leave?" he prompted, unrelenting like a dog with a bone.

"2014," she admitted, the thick miasmic guilt settling in her chest.

He stared at the floor in front of him like he wanted to dissolve into it. "Why?"

"It was the culmination of a lot of things, Mulder," she replied, uncomfortable. The times in her life without Mulder were the hardest. While the period she thought he was dead was the worst, there was something even more painful about feeling like she'd lost him while they were under the same roof — knowing that she'd left behind a piece of what made her feel whole.

"I don't know what to ask because I don't know what I did to be such a fuck up to risk losing this," he replied, his volume rising slightly as he worked himself up.

"Mulder, you were sick. It's not your fault," she replied.

"I need you to tell me what happened, Scully," he sighed, his entire face contorted in pain. The portrait of a man repenting for a sin he didn't know he committed.

She sighed. "Does the year 2012 mean anything to you?" she asked gently. Even saying the year to him made her tongue burn.

"Many people believe that would be the end of the world because of the Mayan calendar," he nodded before humorlessly laughing, "Looks like they missed the mark there."

She chewed on her lip and nodded. "You had received more information about it at a place called Mount Weather, and a seed of speculation blossomed into something greater than either of us could have ever imagined. You didn't have much to do since the X-Files had disbanded, and you inadvertently put all your stock into that."

She paused to squeeze his hand, bringing up the past sparking a need for her to anchor herself in the present with his touch. "You didn't get a job, you didn't put effort into thinking about the future, nothing mattered to you besides researching how it might be stopped because as far as you were concerned life as we knew it would end on that day," she explained. "I-it was hard because in the moments you would pay attention to me, it felt less like love, and more like a commemoration. Each kiss felt like a countdown to you."

"I sound like a tin-foil hatted conspiracy nut," he replied, sounding both frustrated and disappointed with himself. With his mindset, she imagined he likely could empathize and understand where that Mulder had been coming from, knowing he could have fallen privy to that information if he had it too, but also having to bear witness to the harmful consequences his actions had.

Scully didn't make a move to respond to that, merely adding, "The world didn't end that night, but yours did."

"What do you mean?" he murmured.

"I lost you, Mulder," she whispered voicelessly, her breath hitching with emotion. "You'd gone somewhere else, and for the first time I couldn't follow. No matter what I did I couldn't snap you out of it. You were so depressed."

He looked at her like his heart was breaking. It wasn't a look she'd seen on his face since the day she left. "I did everything I could, but I felt like I wasn't living anymore. It hurt so much to see you like that every day." Despite all of her best efforts, the tears started rolling down her cheeks as her lip quivered. Scully knew it all worked out, they were here after all, but the thought that it might have had the opposite effect still killed her to this day. Even though it had been the second time she had to let someone she loved go because it was what was best for them, it didn't make it any easier.

Upon seeing her tears, Mulder withdrew his fingers and walked around the desk before kneeling beside her. He put one hand around her back, drawing her to him while the other cradled her head. She pressed a hiss to his skin and lamented, "You tried, you really tried, please believe that. It was just a darkness you couldn't quite shake. It was the only thing I could think of that might spur you into getting help."

"If losing you wouldn't instigate me getting help, nothing would," he murmured against her hair. It was something he'd told her before, but she always defaulted it to him just trying to absolve her of her guilt. Hearing him say that while he didn't even fully remember all that happened felt like a reassurance she hadn't realized she needed and she felt unshed tears burn on her lashes.

Wanting to look at him, she pulled back so that they were face-to-face, close enough to see the guilt brewing in his eyes. "I never stopped loving you," she assured. "I just had to love myself too, and losing you like that broke me."

"I was an idiot," he murmured, his tone alluding to the fact there were other choice words he was thinking about his past self.

She moved so that she was cupping his cheeks in her hands. "No, Mulder," she whispered, shaking her head. "You were ill, you were severely depressed, that wasn't your fault."

"How could I have been when I had you? How could anything have made me risk that?" he asked, frustration evident in his tone though he was trying to keep calm for her.

"It wasn't about me, Mulder. You weren't yourself, you didn't choose for that to happen to you," she lamented, stroking his cheek with the pad of her thumb. She ended up wiping a tear across his skin as one fell onto her digit. She knew this would bother him, but to see him reacting more viscerally to this information than he did to finding out about his sister shocked her.

She could see he was mentally berating himself so she leaned forward and kissed him gently on the lips, relieved when she felt him reciprocate. "You never stopped loving me either, Mulder. Your depression didn't have anything to do with how you felt about me, but your recovery did. You got help, you worked on yourself, you did everything you could to let me know you understand taking care of yourself is an act of love towards me," she replied. "Nothing hurts me more than knowing you're in pain, and that includes right now. I can see you're being too hard on yourself."

"I wasted so many years we could have been happy together," he replied with a forlorn sigh.

"I think we've both been guilty of that," she countered, thinking of all the years they spent yearning for the other while saying nothing.

"When did we get back together?" he asked, his fingers stroking her ribs.

"In what connotation of the word?" she replied.

"All of them."

"As you saw, I moved back in March of this year, though I'd been crashing here intermittently for a couple of months prior. Sexually and physically, in January. I'd wanted to for longer, I missed you terribly, but I couldn't do that to you if I didn't think we were ready to be together again. It would have been cruel to you and myself," she answered thoughtfully.

"Mentally? Emotionally?" he replied timidly.

"I never left," she stated simply.

Mulder nodded with a ghost of a smile before standing up, his knees popping in protest. He held his hand out to her, helping her to her feet and drawing her to his chest. She could feel his heartbeat against her cheek as she wrapped her arms around him. "I'm so sorry, Scully," he whispered.

With a sigh, she murmured, "I'm sorry too, Mulder."

Scully put her chin on his chest to look up at him while he looked down. He smiled weakly, and despite how heavy things had just gotten, it looked like he was at least starting to come to terms with their past. He pressed a kiss to her lips again, and when he pulled back she whispered one last remark on the matter before it could hopefully stay in the past forever - the sentiment that she felt at the core of her being when she thought about her relationship with Mulder: "I like to think, even then, we knew it was only temporary. I think no matter what happens to either of us, we'll always find a way back to each other."