Author's notes:

Do not post to the ATVXC ng, I will do that. Thanks.

Disclaimer: Fox Mulder, Dana Scully, Walter Skinner and any other tangentially mentioned characters created by Chris Carter remain his copyrighted property, as well as the copyrighted property of 1013 productions and Fox Television, a unit of 20th Century Fox. No infringement is intended.

Original posting Date, June 1998

Classification: Implied MSR, V

Spoilers: FlickFic! Definately. If you haven't seen it, don't read this! You have been warned!

Story Rating: G Summary: Discussion and reflection on the flight from Antarctica.


Coming Home

Mulder watched as Scully tried to get comfortable in the webbed seat. As much as she hated to fly, he knew she had to be really hating this trip, despite the fact that they were heading home. Watching her tighten the seatbelt once more, he began speaking, hoping to distract her from the rumbling and groaning as the giant C-141 began it's trip down the runway. "Skinner says that I'm first up on Monday morning."

"Hmm" Scully's distracted nod made him smile slightly. Her grip hadn't loosened on the armrests at all. With a final loud roar, the giant Starlifter gave a mighty heave and lifted into the sky.

Mulder tried again. "Do you have everything you need for the meeting?" After waiting a second, he tried again, "Scully?"

Scully started slightly at his touch, pulling her gaze from the window to her partner. Glancing down at his hand resting on her arm, she raised her eyes to meet his. "I'm sorry Mulder, what did you say?"

Leaning close to make himself heard over the laboring engines, he asked, "Are you okay? Aside from the obvious, I mean." He let his gaze slide slowly over her face, taking in the harshness from the frostbite and the chapped lips left over from their most recent experience.

Scully nodded, one hand unconsciously reaching to touch the cross that used to lie there. The cross that she was now fairly certain was lying in the depths of a...go on Dana, say it... spaceship. "I don't know Mulder, I'm still sorting things out. I'm not all that clear on what happened yet, you know."

Letting his hand slide down her arm to wrap firmly around her fingers, gave a small squeeze. "Why don't you tell me what you remember, and I'll fill you in."

Marveling a bit at the ease with which she and Mulder seemed to be communicating these days, Scully squeezed his fingers lightly in response. "Okay, I know all of what happened up to that... thing... flew away..." She trailed off, still uncertain about her perceptions.

Mulder let her be, knowing her scientific mind was struggling to put handles on what she knew to be true and what she had seen and experienced. Again he watched her reach up to touch the empty space at her throat. He knew she thought the cross was gone, she didn't yet know he'd found it in her abandoned capsule. Before he could begin to tell her, she started speaking again.

"How did Skinner know where we were? How did help arrive so quickly?"

"I gave Skinner a copy of the coordinates before I left. I also gave copies to the guys," he said, referring to the Lone Gunmen. "Skinner knew that I had a specific window in which to find you and administer the antidote. I told him that if he didn't hear from me within 96 hours, he was to assume the worst had happened and to proceed as necessary."

Leaning her head back against the red webbing that could laughingly be called a seat, Scully gazed up at Mulder. "Hear from you? Don't tell me you expected your cell to reach that far, Mulder?"

He shook his head and smiled. "No, it was sort of a 'universal' hear from me. I had a hunch that whatever I found would cause enough of a disturbance to be noticed globally by someone." He paused and grinned at her. "Do you think they'll refer to this as the 'call heard 'round the world?'"

Scully closed her eyes and chuckled softly. "Let me guess, somebody..."

"NORAD" Mulder supplied helpfully.

"...picked up a whopping big UFO on their radar and dialed 1-800-Skinner?"

"Scully, please explain to me the scientific quantity "whopping big." Mulder teased gently.

Opening her eyes, she met his gaze again. Slowly a smile inched its way across her lips, this time softly lighting her eyes. "Thank you."

"For what?"

Her eyebrow raised, she cocked her head slightly. "For what?" she echoed. "For, I don't know, coming after me, being there, making me smile again, holding my hand when this rickety, fat old plane takes off..." she trailed off. "For being Mulder." She returned her gaze to the window, unwilling or unable to meet his eyes for a minute.

Scully felt Mulder shift next to her, lifting the armrest between them. His hand left hers and she missed his warmth. Suddenly, something small and shiny appeared before her eyes. Her breath caught in her throat as she recognized her cross. Before she could turn to face him, she felt it settle softly in its spot against her throat. Mulder's graceful fingers gently fixed the clasp, securing the small necklace that had become a symbol for the both of them.

Dropping his hands to her shoulders, he leaned down and rested his chin on her left shoulder, staring unseeing out the window with her. "I found this, just before I found you..."

Mulder stopped, unable to continue for a minute. Scully reached up and placed her hands over his, grasping his fingers tightly. Her vision blurred with tears, she leaned her head against his, waiting for him to continue.

"We left something unfinished, you and I." He felt Scully's nod, her hair sliding against his, the soft scent of her blotting out the oily, unfinished smell of the medical transport craft.

"I know." She said softly.

Mulder knew they had a hellacious few days ahead of them yet. They each had to face the OPR Board, offering up explanations and evidence–such as it was–of their experiences. None of that mattered to him at the moment. All that mattered was the woman sitting beside him. He felt Scully pull his hands down until they crossed her stomach, her seatbelt loosened enough that she could rest against his chest.

"No more waiting Scully, no more excuses. When we get back, after the OPR, we're going to finish this, agreed?"

He felt Scully's head nod against his chest. "Finish, Mulder, or start?" She shifted slightly against the seat so she could see his face. "I don't know about you, but I feel like we're starting here, starting something new, together."

Leaning back slightly to meet her gaze, Mulder nodded. For a long moment he let himself be lost in her beautiful eyes. She was right, as usual. This was a new start for them. Both professionally and, hopefully, personally. Regardless of what happened or almost happened, in his hallway a few short days ago, they had crossed a line. Perhaps not physically, but emotionally. The intent to commit is the same as physically committing he'd read somewhere once. Well, he sure as hell intended to cross that line for real, and very, very soon.

Scully watched the thoughts play across Mulder's face, enjoying the rare freedom to watch him openly. Soon, she knew they'd have to put on their professional faces and face the world again. But for now, she was content to sit with him and just be while the world revolved without, or in this case, beneath, them.

Mulder's face moved closer to hers, his eyes softening as he leaned in. Placing a soft, lingering kiss on her forehead, he murmured, "Soon, Scully, soon."

Together they settled in for the long flight, Scully's back resting once again on Mulder's chest, his cheek turned and resting atop her head.

As the steady rocking motion of the plane combined with the white noise of the engines to lull the exhausted pair to sleep, the young Airman assigned as their Med Tech glanced up from the magazine she was reading.

She didn't know who these two passengers were, just that they'd been rescued from somewhere out in the boonies back of beyond and were being transported directly to Washington, D.C., Alpha-one priority.

Scuttlebutt had it that they'd witnessed first-hand the cataclysmic glacier breakup that happened a few days earlier, but she doubted that. Nobody could be on hand to witness a seismic activity that large and live to tell about it.

What she did know from observation was that physically, this pair of passengers was exhausted, worn and recovering from the worst examples of exposure she'd encountered during her tour of Antarctica. Emotionally, she'd never seen a couple so closely linked in her life. She didn't think they'd said more than two dozen words to each other since boarding, and there they were, curled up with each other, making it difficult for her to see where one ended and the other began.

Glancing at her watch, she noticed it was time for both of them to have more fluids. Moving with graceful ease through the shaking body of the plane, she paused, loathe to wake either of them. Shaking her head, she grabbed a blanket from a nearby gurney and gently covered the pair. From the looks of them, these two needed the nourishment only the other could provide more than anything she could offer. With one last glance at her charges, she made her way back to her jump seat and settled in for a long flight to D.C.