Well! I am sorry that this has taken so long to get finished. It isn't even a hugely long chapter! I just got quite attached to this story, and I think that's the reason it's taken me so long, I had to try to do it justice. So, I hope that you enjoy it and that it was worth the wait. Thanks for reading!
Their lips met almost harshly due to the force of the momentum, but when Mulder finally got his head around just what was happening he soon backed off a little and turned the kiss into something far more gentle, far more reminiscent of their almost kiss, the one that had plagued his dreams ever since that moment in his hallway. This kiss was not born out of desperation though, and was all the sweeter for it. Lips and tongues caressed each other in restrained but passionate motions, learning this new part of the other, committing every detail to heart
Lost in each other the two didn't even hear the gasps emanating from everyone else in the room. For them there was no one else, and even Bill's exclamation of disgust and subsequent movement from sofa to doorway went unnoticed as they succumbed to a temptation that had existed for as long as either could remember. Finally, reluctantly, they broke apart; unable to survive without air any longer, and quietly stared at each other, trying to put words to the feelings coursing through them. Mulder was the first to speak, if less than eloquently.
"Uh, so, um ... wow, right?"
Scully let out a breathless chuckle and nodded her agreement. Suddenly noticing the vacant seat next to her, Mulder pulled himself up onto it, grimacing as his knees protested. Scully laughed again, earning her a dirty glare from Mulder, but she became serious again as he came to rest beside her and took her hands in his.
"I need to hear you say it, Scully." He murmured quietly. "I know you're not always good with words, but I really need to hear this."
Scully wanted to answer flippantly, turning the serious moment into a joke as they did so often when it came to these matter, but she knew that if Mulder was asking he really meant it, and doing that now would only hurt him. She stared at him, biting her lip and taking deep breaths. This was a big deal for her. She knew it was a big deal for Mulder too but it seemed that he had spent the last couple of days thinking about it, whereas she had still been concentrating on suppressing her feelings, so it was a larger leap for her. And Mulder had never really been one to hide his true feelings like she was. All in all, this was a tough situation, but there was only one way out of it. Screwing up her courage she looked him straight in the eye.
"I love you too, Mulder."
The words were quiet, almost whispered, but in the silent room they were heard without effort. Mulder couldn't help the inane grin that spread across his face as he heard Scully say the words he'd dreamt of hearing from her, but never actually expected to. He felt the elation build up inside him, and just couldn't resist it. Leaping to his feet he punched the air.
"Yes!" He shouted, earning him an embarrassed smile from Scully, looks of consternation from the rest of the family and a silence from the corner. Surprised by the latter as he was fully expecting yet another confrontation Mulder turned to see Bill stalking back across the room towards him. He rocked from foot to foot for a minute, unsure as to whether he should run for his life, but he couldn't bear to leave Scully after what she'd just admitted and so stood his ground.
Rather than being knocked to the ground, however, Mulder found himself pinned by a hard, fierce stare from Bill that rivalled any of Scully's. He held the other mans gaze, not looking away; giving Bill the time he needed to find whatever it was he was searching for.
Scully stood too, absolutely prepared to defend this new aspect of her relationship with Mulder. She'd been waiting for this for years and was not about to let Bill give Mulder any reason to regret his decision to admit his feelings for her. But both of them were left speechless as the object of their mutual apprehension broke the stare, gave Mulder a long appraising look, and finally extended a hand toward him.
Astounded Mulder did nothing but blankly stare at the appendage being dangled in front of him until Scully nudged him back into consciousness. Moving his gaze up to Bill's face Mulder regarded him with wary hope, slowly holding out his own hand and placing it in the other mans, steeling himself for a bone crushing handshake. Again though he was surprised as, instead of squeezing his fingers til they bled, Bill gave a tight smile, swung his arm a couple of times, dropped Mulder's hand and spoke.
"You'll take care of her. No idiotic jaunts to the middle of nowhere. No leaving her behind to worry herself to death. No being a sorry excuse for a man and a selfish son of a bitch. Got it?"
Mulder simply nodded, aware that this was a set of orders and not something to be taken any way but absolutely seriously. And since they consisted of things he had just promised to Scully anyway, he was quite happy to agree to them. The insults slid off him like water off a duck, unimportant in the grand scheme of things, and barely noticed as he realised that this was Bill practically giving his blessing. It might be reluctant, but it was genuine, and he knew it meant the world to Scully.
"Got it." He replied, his eyes shining with gratitude. "She's been the most important thing in my world for longer than I can remember," he continued, turning now to face Scully, "and though I've hurt her and caused her harm over the years she's always come back to me. I don't deserve her, but I thank everything I believe in for her every day, and I always will."
A sudden burst of sobbing caused both Mulder and Scully to jump, and they turned to find Maggie clutching a handkerchief to her face.
"Mom!" Scully cried. "What is it? What's wrong?"
"Nothing, sweetheart. Really, nothing. Everything is finally right." Maggie replied with a smile, taking her daughters hand in hers and pulling her close for a hug. "I'm just so happy for you. For both of you. I wasn't sure I'd ever actually see this day or whether the two of you were going to wait until you were in the nursing home to admit how you felt!"
Laughter followed the remark, and the congratulations started in earnest, with both Mulder and Scully receiving enormous hugs from Tara and Charlie, but it was Bill that Scully really wanted to speak to. Having finally extricated herself from the tangle of people she found him standing off to the side, watching the scene with a half smile on his face.
"Thank you." She said, knowing he would understand what she meant. "That you'll try ... it means so much."
Smiling down at her Bill nodded his head and then swept her up into a hug that had her feet dangling from the floor.
"I only ever wanted you to be happy Dana. If you say Mulder will make you happy I won't stand in the way."
"He will, Bill. I know he will."
Mulder, a head taller than most of those next to him, watched the interaction between the siblings from across the room. He knew he'd been the cause of a lot of the arguments between them and was glad that the tension seemed to be dissipating at last. As he watched he saw Scully turn her head in his direction and meet his gaze, and for the first time in many years he found himself able to see every single thing she was feeling. The guarded, wary look had gone. Her face was as open as the day it had been when she first walked into his office and it was glowing with happiness. Unable to stop himself he moved toward her, the only thought in his head to hold her and never let go, and he found his way was clear. After so many years of stopping himself and being stopped, he could finally take Scully in his arms and kiss her senseless without fear of recrimination or rejection. So, with great enjoyment and filled with hope for the things to come, he did.