Summary: Missing scene from Per Manum for #xf missing scene challenge
“Never give up on a miracle.”
He whispers words of comfort at her temple, but it’s not enough. It could never be enough to replace what they’ve taken from her.
She pulls back with a soft intake of breath. Her hand behind his neck draws him down, as if to tell him a secret, and as he understands her intention, there’s a fleeting moment of hesitation. Their lips meet—a chaste, careful kiss, testing the waters.
They’ve followed the laws and played by the rules, always ending up here, loss and disappointment heavy on their hearts.
To hell with it, he thinks, and kisses her again.
He pulls away, tugging on her hand. “C’mon. Let’s go.”
“Trust me,” he says, half question, half request.
She ducks her head in assent, and they escape together into the light of the evening street. He keeps her hand tucked in his, desperate to keep some small part of her safe.
“Where are we going?” she asks when they’ve walked a few blocks, her voice numb.
“I’ll, uh, know when we get there,” he mutters. In truth, he doesn’t have a plan or a destination; he just knows he can’t sit in her apartment and watch her come undone.
He finds the restaurant a couple blocks down; a hole in the wall, the kind with red-and-white checked plastic tablecloths and a menu of photocopies. He holds the door and she walks under his arm, barely seeming to notice her surroundings.
When the hostess is out of earshot, Scully leans forward. “Mulder…if this is some kind of pity date—“
“Not a date, Scully. I’m just trying to get you drunk in the classiest way I know how.”
“Get me drunk? Mulder—”
“I think there’s a bar down the street, but you’re less likely to get alcohol poisoning if you eat something, too,” he says, scrutinizing the menu.
She frowns. “I don’t have much of an appetite.”
“That’s OK. We’ll just drink, then,” he says, struggling to keep his voice even. He half expects her to walk out, to retreat to the privacy of her apartment to lick her wounds. “Red or white?”
“Red,” she says finally. “But you have to promise to hold my hair if this goes the way I think it will.”
Mulder flags down a waiter and orders the wine and an appetizer of stuffed mushrooms. When their drinks arrive, Mulder raises his glass, but he can’t think of a good reason to toast.
“Bottoms up,” he says instead, clinking the glasses together. The first acidic-sweet sip hits his palate, a balm to an ache that isn’t his to share.
The seconds tick by in uncomfortable silence; he reaches over, tapping her knuckles with one finger. “Talk to me, Scully.”
She swallows hard, brow knit in thought. Finally she looks up at him.
“You kissed me back there,” she says, somewhere between a question and an accusation. “Why?”
He blinks, stunned at her frankness. “I thought you kissed me.”
“Maybe it was a little of both,” she admits. “But you didn’t answer my question.”
“I…you—I mean, we—”
“I don’t want your pity, Mulder.”
His eyes widen. This is not going the way he hoped. “That’s not—I don’t…pity you.”
She goes quiet again, fixing him with a stare he recognizes from countless interrogation rooms.
“If anything, I blame myself,” he babbles, desperate to unpin himself from her gaze. “If I’d told you about the ova sooner, you might have had a better chance…maybe I didn’t get them into cold storage soon en—”
“I don’t want your self-pity, either,” she cuts him off. “No one is responsible but the men who took advantage of me.”
Heat rushes to his cheeks. “I didn’t do anything—anything—out of pity, Scully,” he says. “I hope you know that.”
She bites her lip, nodding slightly, her eyes heavy with unspoken accusations. There’s another pause, this one longer, and he wonders if this was a mistake.
“Maybe it’s for the best,” she says, turning the wine glass stem between her fingers.
He opens his mouth to protest, but something about the way she’s looking at him takes his breath away; like her soul has been laid bare, and she’s daring him to touch.
“When I was laying on the table and they were doing the procedure…one of the nurses advised me to visualize the desired outcome, to see myself holding my child,” she swallows hard. “But no matter what I tried, I couldn’t see it. Everything was blank, like an empty white screen. And I keep thinking, maybe it’s a sign…”
“I refuse to believe that.”
She doesn’t respond, but her eyes shine, darkening in stark contrast to her pale skin, and she ducks her head to hide the tears.
“Hey,” he says gently, nudging her foot under the table. “We’re supposed to be drinking your problems away, remember?”
“Right,” she sighs, forcing a watery smile. “I think we’re going to need more wine.”
The appetizer arrives, and Mulder breathes a silent sigh of relief when Scully polishes off three of the mushrooms and a second glass of wine. He pours her a third and tops off his glass for good measure.
“At this rate, I’ll be wasted before the first course,” she muses, watching him finish off the bottle with a dramatic flourish.
“I don’t think I’ve ever seen you drunk, Scully.”
She frowns. “There was that time with the wine and the…oh. That was Van Bluhndt, wasn’t it?”
Mulder grimaces at the memory. “Yeah. That wasn’t me.”
“I tried once,” she says. “But you weren’t interested.”
“That night at the motel in Florida. The impromptu wine and cheese reception?”
“You were—you mean—I—ohhh…”
She quirks her lips. “You ran after the…whatever it was before I could make my move.”
“You had a move? There was a move?” he grins, giddy at the thought of his straight-laced, buttoned-up partner seducing him in a cruddy backwater motel room.
“Well, maybe I didn’t have a move, but I was keeping an open mind,” she says, swiping a crumb of mushroom from her plate and sucking it off her thumb. “Which is more than I could say for you at the time.”
“Damn,” he says, cursing his stubborn single-mindedness. “Maybe our friend Eddie was right: I’m a loser by choice.”
“Circumstances being what they are…I didn’t ask Van Blunhdt for a sperm donation,” she says wryly.
“Maybe,” Mulder concedes, finding it suddenly impossible to look her in the eye. He focuses on his wine instead, swirling the dregs in the bottom of the glass. “But a guy would have to be pretty thick to say no to you.”
She licks her lips, a rosy flush creeping up her neck. “So—what was your first time like?”
Mulder coughs, finding it suddenly hard to breathe. “My—my what?”
“The first time you got drunk,” she clarifies.
“Oh, um,” he looks at the table, remembering. “It wasn’t that exciting, really. I think I was 13. Snuck into Dad’s liquor cabinet when my parents were away. Passed out on the couch in the basement and woke up with one hell of a hangover.”
Scully arches an eyebrow. “Thirteen? That’s precocious.”
“Yeah. Not that my parents were paying attention,” he says. “What about you? Lemme guess…senior prom night? Open house at Kappa Phi?”
She takes a drink. “I was 16. I caught Missy sneaking out to a party off base, so I did what any responsible younger sister would; I threatened to tell Mom if she didn’t take me.”
Mulder leans in, grinning at the thought of a young Scully coercing her older sister into collaboration. “They teach blackmail in Catechism class, huh?”
She smirks. “It was a bunch of seniors from her class and me. The party was terrible, of course, but I liked the thrill. Someone handed me a drink—I don’t know what it was, but it was sweet—and suddenly everything was funny, and I couldn’t stand up straight.
“But then Missy picked a fight with her boyfriend, who happened to be our ride, so he left. We had to call Mom to pick us up, and I threw up in the car on the way home.”
Mulder whistles. “Bet that made for a fun Sunday confessional.”
“Dad was at sea, of course,” Scully continues. “Mom never told him; it would have been worse if she had…she must have thought the humiliation was punishment enough.”
“Mmhm,” she says. “Next time, I made sure I had cab fare.”
Mulder holds up his glass. “I’ll drink to that.”
More wine turns into wine and entrées. Scully forgoes her usual salad for lobster ravioli, and Mulder chooses the lasagna. When the food arrives, he’s so entranced at the sight of her enjoying the meal that he doesn’t realize he’s staring until it’s too late.
“What?” she asks, wiping her lips with a napkin. “S’there something in my teeth?”
He considers feigning ignorance, but the wine has loosened his tongue. “It’s good to see you eat, is all.”
“Ahh, the hormones,” she murmurs, ducking her head.
His mind tells him to tread cautiously, to turn the conversation around, but his stupid mouth fails him. “That bad, huh?”
“Mmm. Although, to be honest…the whole experience was so…consuming. It’s still a bit surreal when I think about it. Having a child,” she says, hiding her next words in her glass. “With you.”
With you. The phrase lingers, bouncing around his brain like balls in a pinball machine. “There were times when you were preparing for the treatments, I wondered if you’d change your mind.”
“About me, as a donor,” he says. “Paranoid delusions and a pronounced narcissistic streak don’t make for an easy childhood.”
“What happened to ‘passing genetic muster’?” There’s a teasing lilt in her voice.
“I…don’t know how to answer that without incriminating myself.”
She smiles, sadness lingering in her eyes. “I would have liked to meet your kid, Mulder.”
His throat tightens unexpectedly. “Yeah. Me, too.”
The waiter interrupts to suggest dessert, and Mulder accepts, eager to change the subject. By the time they’ve finished, the rest of the patrons have dispersed, and the staff are wiping down tables and putting up chairs.
“I guess that’s our cue,” Mulder says, handing Scully her coat, watching as she struggles to put it on inside out, then backwards, before offering to help.
“Mulder, I can’t even—this is—I’m not going to be able to walk,” she giggles.
“Lightweight,” he teases, taking her hand.
“You had…how much have you had?” she narrows her eyes in an exaggerated frown as he guides her out the door.
“Not as much as you,” he admits. “One of us has to navigate.”
Her hand is cold, so he holds it close between their bodies, and she leans into him all the way back to her apartment. To the untrained eye, they look like a normal couple on an evening stroll.
They stop at her doorstep, and he realizes, in his haste to whisk her away from real life for a few hours, that he doesn’t know what comes next.
She answers the unspoken question by unlocking the door and pulling him inside.
“Stay with me, Mulder.”
He stands, frozen, at the threshold. “I—I can’t.”
“Can’t or won’t?” she says, in a tone far too precise for her current state.
“I don’t put out on the first date, Scully,” he quips, hoping it sounds more nonchalant than he feels. “And you’re drunk.”
Scully snorts, leaning down to slip off one heel, wobbling on unsteady feet. “You said it wasn’t a date.”
“You got me there,” he says, offering an arm to steady her as she removes her second heel. “But you’re still drunk.”
“That I am,” she smiles, stifling a yawn. “No thanks to you.”
“I take full responsibility. And the responsible thing is for me to go home and let you sleep it off.”
She turns around, placing both hands on his chest. “Mmhm. That would be responsible.”
He should follow his own advice. She’s vulnerable, and he’s not entirely present, but she’s looking at him with such open desire that his feet won’t move.
“Thank you,” she says, leaning into him, further complicating matters and assuring he can’t leave without dropping her.
“It was nothing,” he rasps.
“It was…exactly what I needed,” she sighs. “I wish…“ she begins, closing her eyes. Her head nods forward. Her breath warms the spot on his chest where he might have held a child, in a different time, a different life.
“I know,” he murmurs, when she doesn’t finish. He cradles the back of her head in his hand, running his fingers through her hair in careful circles. “Me, too.”
She steps back. “Stay,” she says, almost breathless with the invitation. Her hand catches his, and he looks down, surprised at how they fit together, how natural it is to touch her like this.
He swallows hard. “I shouldn’t. Not that I don’t want to. I mean, not that I want that, but…and it’s not that I don’t want…that…shit,” he says, rubbing at the back of his neck.
Scully giggles, eyes shining.
“What’s so funny?” he asks, already wincing at the answer.
“If I had known that’s all it took to shut you up, Mulder, I would have propositioned you years ago.”
The light in her eyes is blinding, and he steadies himself against the doorframe, the wine having nothing to do with it.
“Please, stay. Not…for that,” she whispers. “I’m not ready to be alone with this yet.”
He bites his lip, thinking of their kiss, of the lines they’ve crossed. “Alright,” he concedes. “Only if I get the couch.”
“Deal,” she says, looking up at him through heavy lashes. “And Mulder?”
She turns, hips swaying as she makes her way to the bathroom, a lilt in her step and her voice.
“I’m going to need you to hold my hair.”