The first time they make love after his return, Dana cries. She doesn't even try to hide it; there is no disguising the thick tears that roll freely down her cheeks. Mulder's heart clenches and the wave of terror that washes over him rivals all others he has ever experienced.

"Shit. Sc-Dana, what is it?" He grits his teeth and tries not to groan as he slips from her, then rolls them onto their sides and brings his hand to cup her face. She rarely ever cried, his Scully, and was reluctant to let him see her do so. For a moment he is terrified that he must have hurt her somehow. His heart throbs in the silence as her tears drip onto his hand. "C'mon, talk to me. You're starting to scare me."

"I'm sorry, Mulder," she shakes her head, "I guess I just...I'm not sure what's wrong."

He pulls her against his chest, even more concerned than he had been a moment earlier, and strokes her hair.

"I think it's a combination of several things," she starts, and he can hear her slipping into her detached Doctor Scully persona, "how much I missed you, the fact that it's been...a while, losing William. I think this must be a little bit of everything hitting me all at once. But I'm okay now."

She nods once against his chest, then pulls away and gives him a shy, dazzling smile that he doesn't believe for a second. But then she kisses him - hard - until he forgets her tears and remembers an aching in somewhere other than his heart.

Her tongue slides against his, and they both shudder as she guides him back inside of her. He wants to resume his pace from before, but steadies himself, focuses on her. He moves slowly, trailing kisses from the corner of her mouth to the edge of her jaw. The salty remnants of her tears make him pause. He is afraid that this journey of theirs, this battle for the truth, has made her fragile. They were only intimate a few times before he was taken but in none of those times was she so submissive as she is now. He remembers scratch marks almost deep enough to draw blood, her teeth tugging at his earlobe as she bucked her hips against his. He remembers his favorite time when she forcefully rolled him onto his back with an almost feral noise and took control. Her pelvis met his hard and fast, a stark contrast to the slow, controlled movements he is making now. She is a different version of the woman he fell in love with, and he has made her this way. He is the reason she is so fragile.

Fragile, yet not broken. She knows the truth now - they both do - and still she doesn't waver. She has managed to find optimism, even in the face of a coming apocalypse that they may very well be powerless to stop.

And though she trembles at his touch, at the force of her own orgasm as it takes a breathless hold of her, there is a strength in her delicacy. There is, in the cry of his name, a hidden promise that she will never give up, will never let him give up.

In the morning, he will find more of the woman he fell in love with in the red half-moons on his back. Ten across his shoulders, hard and fast.