Dana Scully was seven years old, and she spent her summer evenings on the front lawn with her father, staring up into the darkened sky. The cool grass folded against her skin as she sprawled on her back. Her father would stand beside her, and when his legs tired he would sit, and when his neck grew sore from tilting his head he would lay down beside her. And all the while he talked to her about the stars.
She loved the way the names sounded as they rolled from his tongue, and she asked questions about each star or constellation he pointed to, only to hear its name come from her lips.
Arcturus was her favorite. But at school, she gave reports in class on Globular Cluster M15, and imagined she was a scientist as the syllables developed behind her teeth. It was the way it felt to say them, she decided, that thrilled her. And because they thrilled her, she said them as often as she could.
In fifth grade, when she had outgrown her astronomy lessons on the lawn, she still thrived on words. She spent hours writing class projects regarding Jupiter only to watch the names of each moon unravel from her pen. Europa, Io, Ganymede, and Callisto drifted like poetry between the lines of her notebook. She practiced her cursive until it was more elegant than the teacher's, and she loved the way her favorite words looked written with delicate loops and curls.
In high school she took an advanced biology class, and soon she looked forward to the hour she spent every day hearing phosphofructokinase, karyotype and polysaccharide spill from her lips, sweeter than ambrosia. On the day she learned about plasmodesmata she decided she wanted to live in scientific terms the rest of her life. The next day, she applied to medical school.
When her acceptance letter arrived and she saw her father's proudest smile, she could not think of a word to fit the way that smile made her feel.
Her second year of college, she fell in love. Mumbled I-love-yous that tumbled out between gentle kisses felt as exciting on her lips as Globular Cluster M15 ever had. In the nighttime, she whispered dirty words beneath the tangled sheets and they made her feel rebellious and shining and new.
The third year of medical school she learned he had a wife and daughter, and she stopped saying I love you and stopped listening for the caress of his I love you too.
After graduation, she decided that never had her name looked more impressive than written on her med school degree. She read it aloud to herself, twice, when she was alone, and then she tucked it away where it was nearly invisible, because she had heard the syllables and knew how glorious they sounded, and she did not need to be reminded. The next week she realized she did not want to be a doctor, had never really wanted to be a doctor, and the week after that she applied to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, lured by the vowels of bureau and the title of Special Agent, so dramatic, so stately, so powerful.
Two years later she met Him, and the only word in his mind was conspiracy. Eventually she learned that in the back of his mind was the name Samantha, but it was a painful word to say.
Time passed, just like that, his aliens and mutants and theories constantly battling her phosphofructokinases, karyotypes and proven facts. And secretly, she enjoyed it. She lived for the juxtapositions and stichomythia and being able to list scientific principles and terms and ideas and have him say yes, I understand that, but did you ever think that just maybe? It was the way he pleaded with her to listen to him, to give his theories a chance, and the way he always followed his admissions that an idea was absolute lunacy with But could it be possible?
The part of her mind that thrilled to science labs always answered with No, that defies this scientific law or that scientific law. But the part of her mind that remembered salacious words breathed under bedcovers always answered with It might be possible, it could be. And she knew which part to listen to, or she thought she did, and that was good enough.
That was how they worked their years away, speaking not in shining syllables of polysaccharides and plasmodesmata but living among homicides and threats and impossibilities and arguing, always arguing, angry words thrown back and forth and then forgotten within hours.
Malignant, and later metastatic, fell upon her ears and she suddenly began to acknowledge that as brilliant and glittering as scientific words felt to say they were cold and sterile and inhuman. It was fitting when they were spoken emotionlessly in laboratories under bright fluorescent lights, surrounded by blank off-white walls and the dull whirring of incubators and microscopes. But when they stopped being applied to diagrams or test tubes or petri dishes, and it was not one test specimen that was going to die but Dana Scully, the words no longer sang in her mind or excited her when she spoke them.
He sat with her through all of it, avoiding talk of investigations and conspiracies and her growing cancer. He held her hand in silence, because no words sounded right, and he cried when he thought she was asleep.
Every time he visited, he would greet her with Scully, and she answered with Mulder, and it felt more beautiful on her tongue than Arcturus and phosphofructokinase and even remission, when it came.
A/N: Thank you for reading, I appreciate reviews!