Dana Scully pulled open her door & beheld Mulder at the threshold, bearing wine. "It's deja vu all over again," she muttered. Mulder grinned. "Can I come in?" "That depends. Is it Mulder or is it Memorex?" "It's really me this time. I can prove it." A leer. "Wanna see my scars, Scully?" "I'm intimately familiar with them already, thanks. I've stitched you up more times than I care to remember." She stepped aside, letting him pass. "It's after midnight and we've got a 7.30 flight. Is this business or pleasure?" "Business with you is always a pleasure. But, um, actually, I did want to ask you something." "Uh-oh." She favored him with the raised eyebrow. "In that case, I'm gonna need some of what's in that bottle." "Me too. Why do you think I brought it?" He busied himself with the details of the wine. Once they were both installed, rather stiffly, on the sofa, he took a fortifying gulp of the soothing beverage and began. "Scully. I know I can trust you with my life. Can I also trust you to tell me the truth, even if that truth is, um, uncomfortable?" "I hope I'm braver than that. Have you ever known me to withhold information just to spare your feelings or my own?" "That's what I hope to find out. Scully...about what happened. When he--I mean, did you think it was me?" Trust Mulder not to mince words. It was Scully's turn to drink before daring to speak. "Yeah," she sighed at last. "I--I could hardly believe it, but, um, yeah. I thought it was you." A flash of humor illuminated her eyes. "Let's just say I 'wanted to believe.'" "Oh." Mulder digested this silently for a moment, draining half his glass in the process. "And so, uh, may I then infer that, um, the idea of...of kissing me, has occurred to you?" The blue eyes, which had been skating nervously in any direction other than his own, dropped guiltily. "That inference would be correct." "Oh." More thinking. More drinking. Then: "And so, um, may I also infer that, as your curiosity has not yet been sated, this idea is still occurring to you?" "Dammit, Mulder!" "What?" He looked, genuinely confused, into her eyes. They were furious. "I was trying to be--" "That's just it! Quit beating around the bush. If you've come here with the intention of delivering the Guy Speech, just spit it out, okay?" "What's the Guy Speech?" "Oh, *you* know." She sneered, actually SNEERED, at him. "There are numerous variations, but they all boil down to 'I like you, BUT.'" "I wasn't going to--" "It doesn't matter. It's not even necessary. I'm not--I don't--it was just simple curiosity. You may not believe this, but I am only human. I just wanted to see how far you'd go." Mulder looked as if he'd been slapped. Hell, he had been. "I really hope that last statement was a lie," he said, very softly, in his best take-me-to-bed-and-use- me-as-you-will voice. The stare-down contest dragged on. And on. Until Scully slammed her glass down on the coffee table, sloshing wine everywhere. "You win. Shit. It was a lie. But, Mulder--" "Scully, stop." He took her hands. "You don't have to explain. I've--I've wondered, too, what it would be like. Of course I'm, er, attracted to you--why wouldn't I be? And because we are so close...well, it almost seems like just a natural progression, doesn't it? There've been so many times I've wanted to--when it would've been so easy--" "So why didn't you? Am I that forbidding?" "I didn't want to make things more complicated for you. You've got enough on your plate as it is, without..." He trailed off, looking down at their linked hands. Scully pulled one free and reclaimed her wine, twirling the stem of the glass between her fingers. "Mulder, I'm seeing a whole new side of you." "I *can* think of other people besides myself, occasionally." "I know that. And I appreciate it. I...oh, God, this is ridiculous." "So why didn't *you*?" She looked up at him. "What? Oh, why didn't I--well, I guess it's like you said; I've got a lot of other extenuating circumstances to consider. How it would impact our working relationship, and our friendship. All the other changes I've had to assimilate. Not knowing whether I'm going to live or die...I don't know. On the one hand, it seems like the perfect time to throw caution to the winds and just do whatever--I could die tomorrow, so why not *live* tonight? I've thought of that, don't think I haven't...But I couldn't do it." "Why not?" His face was intense, close to hers, the darkened eyes searching hers for a truth he desperately wanted to believe in. She hesitated only a moment before answering. "Because I respect you more than that. I respect myself more than that, and I respect what we have, what we are to each other, more than that. Mulder...I'm past pretending, to you or to myself, about what I feel for you. But if we ever cross that line...I want it to be because we're starting a life, together, and not because I may be ending mine." She stopped, abruptly, out of words, afraid to go further. Silence. She flicked her eyes up, out of the depths of the wine and to his face. Had she ever doubted what he felt for her, the look in his astonishing mood-ring eyes would've wiped it away in an instant. He leaned over, leaned in, leaned down, eyes fluttering shut, lips parting, his breath hot on her skin. She tilted her chin up, closed her eyes, reached out for his hand. Mulder's lips, surprisingly soft, brushed hers with infinite gentleness. His kiss was both promise and benediction. "Someday, Scully." She rested her forehead against his; a single tear escaped. "Someday," she echoed, and knew it to be the truth.
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