... ... ...
"So what was your final wish, anyway?"
Mulder looked at her for a long moment, then, grinning, turned to face the television. "Wouldn't you like to know?"
"Well, yes, I would. That's why I asked."
He continued to stare at the movie, still smirking; still looking utterly pleased with himself.
"Mulder..." Scully practically whined: He was so infuriating when he insisted on teasing her.
"Maybe I wished for this," he told her, but his eyes did not stray from the screen.
"You wished to watch Caddyshack with me?" she scoffed.
Now he did roll his head to the side to look at her. "Maybe," he uttered, a mystery to his tone and sparkling eyes.
"You could have just asked."
"Could I?" Though he had obviously tried to maintain the tone of his voice, his eyes dimmed giving his question a more serious air.
"Of course," she replied, though she wanted to squirm with discomfort, knowing what was at the root of that question.
"You sure? You've seemed... reluctant to be here, particularly socially."
"You've never specifically asked me to be here. Socially."
"I sensed you didn't want me to."
His voice had lost the teasing as well now, and a mixture of anxiety and anticipation churned in her stomach. She recognised the look on his face.
Her throat felt tight as she forced out the reminder, "Mulder, we talked about this."
"I think we were wrong," he whispered, focused solely on her, his eyes fixed intently on hers.
She was vaguely aware of the sound from the television, though she didn't take in any specific words. It was just background noise. With every second she felt more and more powerless to resist what he was suggesting.
"Mulder, we weren't wrong." She cursed her voice for being barely a whisper.
"We can't know that," he responded, turning in his seat, inching closer to her.
Her breathing and heart rates increased but she held her ground. "We agreed -"
"That should have been our first sign that it wasn't the right thing to do."
Her burst of laughter at that was automatic and out before she could stop it. Her instinct to duck her head and break their eye contact, before she got sucked in, was stalled by Mulder's hand gently capturing her head as it moved. He cupped her cheek, stroked his thumb over her skin.
"I am not content to at least have had that night, Scully. I don't want to carry on as if nothing has changed."
She was tempted to believe him; to admit that she felt the same. But the reasons they had given for the denial still applied. She could only attribute his turnabout to whatever genie magic he believed to be at work.
"Mulder, this is -"
"It isn't... It isn't. For my final wish I gave her freedom... I didn't wish for you, Scully, because I couldn't risk the bizarre ways that might have backfired. This is all me. No magic; no impostors; no head injuries. I love you, Scully. I love you -"
"Mulder..." Her protest sounded feeble even to her own ears. It was difficult to argue against something she had wanted to hear for years.
"I love you," he repeated. "After everything we've been through, isn't it time that was our priority?"
She longed to just say yes. To just fall into his arms and let the moment take them where it may. But he had said himself that them being in a state of agreement should be taken as a warning sign. And he had said a lot more than that last time they had talked about this.
"You came up with half the reasons why this is a bad idea."
"Because you looked terrified. You could barely meet my eyes. I thought you regretted it and I was trying to save face. And, okay, I was terrified!... But I'm not anymore, Scully. Because the only thing I wanted for myself - when I could have wished for absolutely anything - was you. When everyone vanished from the face of the Earth, I felt sick. Because I thought I had lost you..."
It was getting harder and harder to remember why she had thought that ignoring their true feelings was a good idea.
"... I know I had some excellent reasons why we shouldn't pursue this... But I was wrong. And so were you."
She had thought that he meant them. That he genuinely did not want to take things any further; that he really didn't want their relationship to change. "I thought you didn't -"
"And I'm sorry I let you think that. Because I do. I love you."
She could stop the tears in her eyes no more than she could stop the smile that surfaced on her lips.
Mulder tilted her head back, stroking her cheek again. "Is that a yes?"
She frowned not recalling the question she would be answering. "To what?"
His eyes darted to the side and she watched him replay their conversation. "Yeah, my question wasn't recent... Is that an 'I love you too'?"
"You know I love you too."
"Nice to hear it once in a while," he grinned.
"You realise that if I agree that we were wrong, then there's that warning sign again."
"Since when do we take heed of warning signs?"
The anxiety was still there but the anticipation was winning. "Are we crazy?" she whispered, bringing her hand up to circle his wrist.
"Don't need to know. Unless you want to tell them, in which case -"
"No. No, let's keep this to ourselves for now."
"Whatever you want."
She was pretty sure that she had never seen him look as happy as he did right then. "You're certain there's no magic at work here?" she double-checked.
"None that I'm aware of," he smiled wider.
She let her own smile reveal how excited she was about their decision and went willingly into the kiss that he initiated in response.
She was in no doubt at all that they were crazy.
And maybe they should be paying attention to the warning signs. But, for nearly seven years, she had been prepared to take certain leaps of faith with him. Why stop that now? Particularly when she was getting everything she would have wished for.