A muchos gracias to Lauren for her continuing encouragement, also, for her beta work.
She doesn't tense, doesn't move, the moment his lips touch her skin; not because she doesn't want to see (if it's any consolation, he's the only thing she wants to look at in the world right now,) and not because any of this is wrong. The situation isn't wrong but it doesn't tread that line of almost-maybe-right that most of their combined actions tend to tread.
Glassine thin, the atmosphere in which she is suspended; it is liable to fracture if she makes the slightest of movements and so she remains still, feigns sleep. A woolen blanket, over her, threatens to bake her body from the heat she radiates, core temperature up a few degrees now. But not a word, a peep, a sound, a movement from her. What would she say? What would he say if he caught her, faking slumber?
It could change everything; it is changing everything, his lips against her hairline.
Her choice, tonight, to be in his home, to sit beside him, to be with him, if that was the choice she was supposed to make then everything happening, the painful splitting of her heart when Mulder pulls back and breathes her in... is the only possible outcome that is right, the only scenario that is possible. There's something comforting about that, there's something exciting about it. Even if she shouldn't be the type of person who allows herself to go along willingly with the unfolding of the 'natural progression of things', that part of her remains dormant, as it has for the past forty-eight hours or so.
And she's just not in the position to tempt fate tonight. It's that simple. Scully simply doesn't have the sort of energy it'll require.
Attention, all of hers is focused solely on the man beside her, his scent, his head. But indecision, it radiates off of him in strong waves and her conscience is pulling in neither direction. If this is fate, everything will mete out as it should and thus she waits, breathes.
But there is nothing, nothing. The sound of him shifting beside her, denim, leather and anticipation and nothing.
Apparently, it's all in her hands and when her eyes slide open, it's almost enough to imagine there is a fire in the room, it is so warm in color and heat. But it's only him and the walls and the lamp casting a glow over them that gives this impression so effectively, her eyes open and close as the room swims into focus. If she looks to her right, she will have to face him and if she looks to her left, to the entryway, to the way out she might actually consider leaving him. But that won't happen.
"Hey," voice low and tender, it's the perfect pitch and tone for a person who is waking and the cadence of it nearly sends her back to sleep. Yet it's then that she realizes that his hand is on her thigh, maybe holding her in place, maybe not, but it's there and it feels as though it belongs.
"How long was I out for?" It doesn't matter and Scully doesn't care, yet the banality of conversation calls for her to say something other than telling him that this entire situation is the natural progression of seven years of everything. Because he doesn't need to hear it; if it is, he'll know.
Mulder is sluggish in his movements, head swaying towards the clock to glance the time, swaying back to her. "About... an hour." And his words come up just as paced and toned as before. The syllables and breaths dance along her spine, tingling, forcing her to stretch out her sleep-atrophied limps. His eyes follow her actions, the joints and bones popping too-audibly.
Everything around them shifts, everything. It's almost as though the floor has dropped from beneath them. "Let's get you to bed." Not a question, not a request, just the truth of the situation, that she is tired, that he is tired, that it's far past the time to be between the sheets, dreaming. It is, for all intents and purposes too late to stay but it is far past the time to go. Part of her, of course, the most base, rational segment of her mind blats lowly at her to consider the consequences, but Scully is bone weary and gravitating towards... not caring. That part of her settles back to submission. Flinging her arms wide and giving herself over to the pillowy uncertain, predetermined force of fate.
When she stands, a brow of his lifts just barely; he is surprised that she has gone so willingly along with him, that she's choosing the more difficult of her options, though notably the safest. Rounding the corner towards his bedroom, she ponders a moment on Colleen and how at peace she seemed, how perfect and right, being ebbed by the flow of fate and not caring where it takes her. Because it's where she ought to be.
"I've never said I regret the choices I've made," she mentions as he steps around her to walk to his dresser; pausing, mid step, he turns and regards Scully with quiet nod. "I don't."
Mulder licks his lips but says nothing, apropos for the what she's thinking because she has nothing to say either. Another nod and he turns to his dresser, retrieving a worn tee-shirt and pair of shorts for her to transfer into. "I'm glad," comes his response, just as she expects it to.
There's a fluidity to his motions, and it seems as if, for a fraction of a second, that time slows down; his body stretches and reaches and moves as it always has, but Scully watches it now, new eyes picking up on the gentleness of each of his individual movements. In her hands appears the clothing he has selected and it holds her gaze before eyes flick up to meet his.
There's too much between them, hanging around them. It's all too fast, it's all too slow, his hand sweeping up to lay upon her shoulder. Where is should be. "Stay," he speaks the word into the air between them, not a question. Thus she gives no answer, simply moves around him and sheds her clothing, sliding into that which he has proffered her.
Of course his eyes are on her back, cataloging the smooth skin she bares; Scully can feel it, the heavy gaze hanging on her back and I causes her to shiver, knowing that he is now looking at her, looking at her as she has always wanted him to. It feels electric and liberating and quite possibly the most wonderful sensation she has ever had the pleasure of harboring. "I'm free," she whispers, though she's not sure why, it feels natural and relieves herself of such a leaden burden in her chest.
No longer gunshy of his too-heavy glances, no longer having to question what they mean…
"This is… uncanny," her voice is heavy, thick with lethargy. Standing before him in the too-large tee shirt and baggy shorts, she looks nearly like a child, but someone wise beyond her years.
Mulder is late-night smoothed out, the dark and shadows licking out the cracks and wounds in his surface. "What is?" he asks, his voice fracturing into wanton man.
"This feels like reality," and perhaps it's blatant lucidity or delirium that settles behind her eyes, but they sparkle and catch all of the sparse light that has managed to creep into the bedroom. Her gaze wanders all around her, seeking out the ghosts in every corner, the monsters under his bed, the boogeyman in his closet.
But at its most base, it is she, standing in Mulder's room, ready to give herself wholly to his whims. An urge runs through her, to find out the title of the book that is resting on his bedside table, to read from it aloud. An imposing act of intimacy, and she wishes to conquer it, somehow make part of this room hers, to make her indelible mark on the moment.
In that moment, she decides to take off towards the other side of the bed, but is stopped by his hand at her wrist, spinning her unsteadily into him. "Sometimes I think of you in any place other than this," oh he's as delightfully crazy as she is right now, so fantastically on keel. "I think of you as one of Gatsby's girls, as the President, as an explorer, a mother, someone other than what I've made you." Hand sliding up her arm, to her shoulder, the other casually finds her waist, as though it is coming home.
"And then, of course, I realize how insane I'm being, that I haven't made you anything; you're too strong to be changed but you've changed me, and I've never… thanked you for that." He blinks; she thinks that perhaps she needs to cry now, that's what it feels like. "I thank the god I don't believe in every day that you're here with me, but I've never thanked you."
The watery, bashful, searing smile she gives him turns his lips up in kind. "Thanks."
What else to say but, "You're welcome."
There are the deep, rationed breaths of two people who are on the verge of tumbling into a black hole and they don't look away from one another. Not when he touches her chin delicately, and not when he bends to slide his lips over hers.
It is languid and sweet and slow and quite possibly the exact culmination of a fate both were too afraid to speculate on for fear of casting it into oblivion.
"Let's get you to bed," he whispers finally, against her mouth, and takes her there without another word.