“Oh Mulder,” his name falls from her lips in a tortured whisper. He watches as she applies medical ointment to his red, chafed wrists, the scent making his eyes water. Or that’s what he tells himself anyway.
Looking at Scully, seeing her vibrant hair, her blue, watery eyes, he is filled with calmness. There‘s no sound here except for her breathing, and his own thoughts.
“Think I‘ll live, doc?”
“Not funny,” she says with a stern look. “How are you feeling? Do you want me to give you something to sleep?”
He shakes his head. “The nurse, she… I should be asleep already.” He‘s bone-tired, his muscles aching. But how can he close his eyes? Falling asleep does not seem like an option.
“It‘s the adrenaline,” Scully says, putting the cap back on the ointment. She continues to rub his wrist, applying gentle pressure. “It will wear off soon. You need to sleep, Mulder.”
He shakes his head and gives her half a smile. “You should sleep though.” He looks around, for the first time realizing that Scully only got them one hotel room. There‘s only one bed. “Are you- you‘re not leaving, are you?” His voice sounds shaky to his own ears.
“I thought we could share for the night.” There‘s an innuendo stuck in his throat that he swallows.
“Thank you,” he says instead.
“Is there anything you need?” Her fingers are still wrapped around his wrist, but she‘s not trapping him; she‘s anchoring him here, to this moment. He‘s overcome by thankfulness for her. By love, too. She‘s done so much for him already. How can he ask for more, again and again?
When she became his partner, she didn‘t sign up to share his trauma, all his nightmares. This one barely scratches the top ten of what he‘s gone through. Yet, he can‘t fathom closing his eyes and losing sight of her.
He doesn‘t have the right to ask her, but he can‘t fight his exhaustion any longer.
“Can you just… stay?” Her expression is puzzled. “Hold me?” he asks in barely a whisper.
“Of course.” Her reply is just as soft before she helps him lie down, covering him with the comforter. “I‘ll be right back,” she promises, quickly running her fingers through his hair. He listens to the intimate sounds of her bathroom routine that he knows she‘s keeping short tonight. For him. She‘s back before he‘s dared to blink.
“Promise me you‘ll try to sleep,” she says, her breath smelling of toothpaste. “I will be here.”
“I know,” he says. “You believed me, Scully.” He blinks, his eyes feeling as heavy as lead.
“I saw it,” she admits, meeting his eyes.
“So we‘re both crazy now, huh?” His eyes drift close but he cracks a smile.
“You‘re not crazy, Mulder.”
“Are you coming on to me, Scully?” He wonders if he‘s asleep already, if maybe this conversation is just a dream. He scoots closer to her, shamelessly stealing her warmth and her strength. But she doesn‘t seem to mind. Instead she holds him closer, her hand on his back as if to steady him. His one in five billion. Who else would hold his broken soul and cherish it?
She doesn‘t reply, but he never expected her to. Her hand finds his, her slender fingers tangling with his broken ones. She lets go of his hand and he‘s about to protest when she touches his lip where it bust open.
“Kiss it better?“ He jokes, wondering how many innuendoes he has to throw out until she bites.
“Will it hurt if I do?”
He must have reached the magic number. His eyes open and he can barely make out her face.
“I don‘t know,” he says, staring at her. The sheets rustle as she leans over and presses the lightest kiss to the corner of his mouth.
“Did it hurt?”
“No. No pain.”
“Good. Try to sleep now, Mulder.”
“Hmm,” he hums. He wants to say more, needs her to know that he needs her here. That her arms are holding him together and safe from the nightmares.
“I won‘t let go,” she promises, tightening her grip on him. But he doesn‘t need to say anything because she already knows.