He laughed, humorlessly and full of self-deprecation, cutting her off. No ‘Fox.’ That was dangerous territory. His mother called him Fox. Samantha. Phoebe. Diana. Anyone who had ever used that name in his life had somehow ended up out of it. The name felt cursed to him, as though anyone who dared to breathe it would suffer a terrible fate. And in the years’ time span that he’d known Dana Scully, she became the person he now trusted with everything, someone who was a real friend to him. Someone who may even actually care for him, if he had read between the lines correctly. He knew this was a psychological ploy to distance himself from the name that brought him nothing but loss and heartbreak, but maybe if she didn’t entwine herself too far into him this way, this personally, he could make sure she stayed with him.
“I, uh… I even made my parents call me ‘Mulder,’ so… ‘Mulder.’”
She paused a beat, looking directly at him. Into him.
“Mulder, I wouldn’t put myself on the line for anybody but you.”
And he knew right then and there that it didn’t matter what she damn well called him. She had already wormed her way into his life and his entire being. He could keep trying to hold her at arm’s length, the fear of losing her always present, but it was futile.
She had him, heart and soul. And he was fucked.
He ducked his head to hide the smile creeping unbidden across his face. “If there’s iced tea in that bag… could be love.”
She broke his gaze and smiled with a twitch of her lips.
“Must be fate, Mulder. Root beer.”
How about that.
As she left the car, he worried the top of the can between his fingertips and tried not to think of the inevitable disasters to come.