Title: Touch the Moon
Distribution: Please let me know - I'll probably be delighted.
Category: Post-ep (all things), M/S UST
Summary: Lunchtime the day after the beginning and end of
"all things". In my world, M&S did not do the naked
pretzel during the episode.
Disclaimer: These characters belong to Chris Carter and
1013 Productions, not to me. Bummer.
Feedback: Yes, please.
Author's notes: First, my deepest thanks go to Zuffy for her
wonderful beta reading. She gently but firmly pushes me in
the direction of better writing, and I'm enormously grateful.
Second, the inspiration for this story came from an OBSSE
homework assignment I wrote, and the first line is lifted
verbatim. If it looks familiar, rest assured that to the best
of my knowledge, I'm only plagiarizing myself.
Touch the Moon
"If you want to be forgiven for anything, now's the time to ask. I'm feeling benevolent." Her head falls back, face toward the sun. She becomes phototropic every spring, dragging him outside for lunch on bright days even when the wind is sharp and she has to clutch the front of her jacket tight against the cold. Summer seems to remind her of sunburn and skin cancer but in April and May the light tugs at her body with an undetectable, irresistible force. Spring this year has been rainy and slow in coming but today is glorious, green and blue and streaked with gold. Even Mulder felt the aching pull of springtime perfection.
Usually they eat on a bench close to the Hoover building but today he grabbed her hand and led them all the way to the vast green grid of the Mall. Scully is sitting on her jacket and leaning back on her palms like a college kid. Her body is poised in sun god supplication and she smiles lazily, eyes closed and throat vampire-bait bare. He is amazed, for the millionth time in eighteen hours, by how much she trusts him.
He swallows. "I slept with a vampire once." A pause. "I think."
"Oh Mulder. Only you." Her smile dances and dissolves into a fit of giggles that makes him think about baseball and the feel of hips before hands. "That's several long and lonely miles outside of my forgiveness jurisdiction." She has laughed four times in the past eighteen hours, and his new goal in life is to make it happen again.
"For the gentleman, we have that culinary delight known to the masses as the meatball sub. But for you, Madam, for you we have truly outdone ourselves to produce a grilled chicken salad of extraordinary blandness."
"Mulder, do not ever again, on penalty of.. of something really bad, call me Madam."
"Something really bad? Way to leverage that impressive vocabulary, G-woman."
"Shut up and eat your lunch before I leverage that self-defense training."
"Why do you always eat salads?"
Her fork pauses just south of her mouth. "Pardon?"
"In the seven years we've known each other, you've eaten enough shrubbery to support the economies of several states but you haven't eaten a single meatball sub. Why not? Have you never experienced the pure joy of a meatball sub? Do you have any idea what you're missing?"
"How do you know I don't eat meatball subs by the truckload when you aren't around?"
"You may not be aware, Mulder, but a meatball sub is about as healthy as a stick of butter with a side of Cheetos."
"How many miles do you run a week?"
"Fifteen, more or less."
"And how many sit-ups do you do every night?"
"A hundred. What's your point?"
"You can probably afford a stick of butter every once in a while." He draws his knees up and smiles into his sandwich.
"I'll take it under consideration. I could use some pure joy." Her voice is warm and sleepy and he cannot remember ever being this happy.
"Have you ever touched the moon?"
"I have, Mulder, but not since the glory days of the Bush administration. Unfortunately." Her voice is rueful.
He laughs out loud and wonders whether he should thank God or Buddha for the woman lying beside him soaking in the sun.
"Hey Scully?" He peers at her.
"What's the formula for integration by parts?"
"The integral of v du equals u times v minus the integral of u dv. You having a calculus emergency?"
"Not at present. Just making sure it's really you in there."
"There are better ways to find out than math questions." She waggles her eyebrows at him and grins. "What did you mean by touching the moon?"
"Oh, I think you got it right." His voice is somewhere between shy and triumphal.
She laughs and reaches over to grab his hand, and he decides that it must be Buddha who deserves the thanks. Scully has believed in God forever and it's never made her laugh like this.
She sits up abruptly. "Did you really sleep with a vampire?"
"I think so."
"Why?" Her curiosity seems genuine. "It doesn't seem like a recipe for longevity."
"It was... a bad time." He's watching her face and sees it the instant she knows, the exact moment when she matches names and dates and places and a casefile. "It was… it was the last time I slept with anybody."
She's silent for a moment, and then, "Oh." He closes his eyes and sinks back on to the warm ground.
His eyes are closed when he begins to speak, so quietly that she has to lean toward him. "There's a piece of the moon on display at the Air and Space Museum. You can touch it. It's billions of years old, Scully, as old as starlight. It's history and the future and the greatest human journey ever undertaken all contained in this tiny, unassuming piece of rock and you can touch it. You can run your fingers across it and you're changed fundamentally because suddenly you know it's all real, that human beings did stuff themselves into a claustrophobic little box and hurtle breathlessly through space just for the sake of conquering the unconquerable. You touch it and a piece of you travels backwards on the path the rock took to get here, tumbling toward the moon in slow motion and then landing gently, unbelievably gently on the surface and joining the molecules that have been your companions since the beginning of time. Scully, it's beautiful and you can touch it."
The world is still green and blue when she stands and holds out her hand. He takes it, because he would take anything she offered, and lets his body unfold toward her. She smiles down with a quirked eyebrow and the moment stretches, elongates, pulsing between them with the rhythm of a double heartbeat until it feels like freefall and he's sure he'll be caught forever in this place halfway between lying down and standing up. Then, suddenly, he is looking at her back and the line of their clasped hands as she leads them jubilantly, insistently across the Mall. She turns her head back, urging him to catch up with a dazzling, gold-tinged smile.
"C'mon, Mulder. Let's go touch the moon."
--- end ---