"Is this seat taken?"
"No, but I should warn you I've been eating garlic-intensive meals, lately."
Scully smiled good-naturedly, and walked around Mulder to sit next to him. She removed her gloves slowly, and sighed. "This is starting to wear on me, Mulder."
He turned to look at her. "What's starting to wear on you?"
She closed her eyes, and frowned. "The secret night-time meetings, teaching at Quantico, not being able to see you as much as I used to, all of the above."
He nodded. "Yeah, we used to see each other more than most couples, didn't we?"
She cocked her head. "What do you mean?"
He leaned back against the bench and crossed his long, elegant legs. "Well, all the business trips of the husband," he gestured towards himself, "were, in our case, also intended by the wife," he said, gesturing towards Scully on the word 'wife'.
She half-smiled. "But not seeing each other at night makes up for the business time, don't you think?"
He raised his eyebrows. "Is this the part where I take you to some seedy motel and we annoy the hell out of the neighbours?"
"Mulder, are you coming onto me?" she asked in a perfect imitation of Mulder when teasing her. They laughed together, and a companionable silence fell over them.
"So, how's the wire-tapping going?"
He groaned. "Oh god, don't remind me. I now know, according to one Bob Goldman, suspected of hate crimes by the FBI, exactly where to get the best lap dance, hand job, blow job, and any other kind of job in and around both Washington D.C. and Baltimore." Scully giggled. Mulder looked at her, slightly surprised to hear her make that sound. Scully outside of work was, in some ways, even more enigmatic than on the job. "How's teaching at Quantico?"
"Not too bad. A little repetitive. It's not the job that's the problem. It's missing the other job."
He grinned mischievously. "So if we ever get put back on the X-files, I'll just tell myself that you're enjoying it when I wake you up at two o'clock in the morning to go look at crop circles."
"Mulder, if ever we get put back on the X-files, and you try that, I will shoot you," she growled. He smiled innocently. She let out a sigh and looked down at her hands resting in her lap, her mood shifting from playful to pensive. "I don't just miss the excitement from being a field agent. I guess I kind of do miss the life-style." She gazed up at the stars for a second, then looked back at Mulder. "I never thought I'd say that I miss staying in those seedy motels you're so good at picking out."
He chuckled. "Even the cockroaches?"
She shuddered. "Okay, maybe not that aspect."
He blinked lazily, smiling softly. The smile slowly left his face as a contemplative mood settled over them again. "Scully, I know I said on the phone last week that it was great to not have someone questioning my every move, but—"
"I know, Mulder," she interrupted. "I know you were joking."
"Krychek could NEVER replace you," he said, emphatically enough to surprise her. "You're the best partner I've ever had." He hesitated. "You're the best friend I've ever had as well."
Scully tried not to let herself start crying or do something equally ridiculous right here in front of him. Trust it to Mulder to know to state exactly what she had secretly wanted to hear. Mulder checked his watch. "It's five o'clock in the morning." Sure enough, in the distance was the bonging of the clock on the city square. He looked up at her speculatively. "You know, there's a bakery around the corner from here. They'll probably have just opened."
Her eyebrows shot up. "Are you trying to recreate the final scene from 'As Good As it Gets'?"
"Yeah, except I'm way cuter than Jack Nicholson."
She ran her eyes over him. "That you are." Mulder tried his hardest not to look pleased. "Am I cuter than Helen Hunt?" Scully asked coyly.
He tilted his head to the side. "Much." He offered her his arm, which she took, shooting him a taken-aback look at the gallant gesture.
They rounded the corner together, and came face to face with a closed bakery. Mulder pointed at the sign. "Opens at five thirty. Damn." He turned to face her. "Do you want to wait around?"
"Sure. But what will we do until then?"
He scratched his head. Then his face lit up. "Three words. Truth or Dare."
She rolled her eyes. "Muulldeerrrr..." she groaned.
"Oh come on, it'll be fun!"
"How old are you?" she asked incredulously.
"Choose either 'Truth or Dare', or 'Chicken or Go'."
"Chicken or Go? God, I haven't even heard Chicken or Go mentioned since my sophomore year of high-school!"
"Take your pick," he said, folding his arms.
She let out her breath huffily. "All right. So, truth or dare, Mulder?"
She studied the concrete. "Do you really think I'm cuter than Helen Hunt?"'
He studied her face. "I think... I think you're the most beautiful woman I've ever seen."
Scully fought for composure as a deep blush settled on her face. Mulder obviously took the rule of the game about telling the entire truth very seriously. Trying not to concentrate too much on what the deeper meaning of this was, she focused on what Mulder was saying.
"Truth or dare, Scully."
"Truth," she whispered.
He stared intensely at her. "What was your first thought when I offered to take you to that motel?"
Scully had no idea where this was going. They had been joking around one second, and suddenly they were... they didn't seem to be playing a game anymore. She opened her mouth, and shut it. Mulder continued to stare just as intensely, watching all the emotions pass over her face. Scully tried to speak. "I... I...—"
"Just tell me the truth, Scully."
She looked up at him, squinting. He already knew the truth. He was just getting her to say it. Didn't he even realize why she was hesitating? "Mulder, I wanted to go to the motel with you, yes. But I didn't say so because I knew what would happen if we began a full-time relationship—"
"So you want a full-time relationship, too?" said Mulder, beaming widely.
"YES! But we can't because—"
She was interrupted by Mulder's mouth. The kiss was gentle, but quickly grew in intensity. Scully found herself wrapping her arms around Mulder's neck and pressing her entire body against his. Mulder pulled away.
"I think that the good in the outcome of this would outweigh the bad," he whispered, resting his forehead against hers.
"I think you're right in this case, Mulder," said Scully, tracing his jawbone with her index finger.
"Do you still want to go to that motel?"
She laughed. "My apartment's pretty close." Mulder pulled her towards the parking-lot. "Wait, Mulder." He stopped, looking back at her worriedly. "We still have things to discuss."
He sighed. "I know, Scully. I know. This won't be easy."
Scully let the breath whoosh out of her. He understood.
Mulder pulled her up against him, and wrapped his arms around her waist. "But right now, all I want to think about is how to love you. I love you so much. You know that, right?"
She looked up into his beautiful green eyes. "I know Mulder. And I love you just as much."
"We'll cross those bridges when they come, okay?"
She smiled, and snuggled more into his chest. "Okay. Take me home."
And they ran towards the parking-lot together.