What is love? MSR style.
I’ve been thinking a lot recently about the ways Mulder and Scully love each other (mainly because I truly hope we see a proper and right reunion for them this season).
I know love comes in many shapes and sizes and that sometimes it fits snugly and other times it’s baggy and formless but you still know it’s there.
I’ve tried to break it down. This is rambly - sorry, but I’m feeling a little sappy this week. And some of it might be slightly NSFW.
The first dawning
My headcanon is that the turning point for Mulder was when Scully was abducted. I don’t think he could articulate what it was he was feeling because fear clouded his emotions, but when she was returned and safe, the idea bloomed in him and he couldn’t shake it. He was frightened, of course. He’d been hurt before. But loving Scully didn’t just get easier, it began to flow in his veins. What started as a challenging partnership (and he found that challenge pretty sexy from the start) morphed into something as necessary as breathing.
For Scully, so much more reliant on the cerebral version of love, I think it was during her cancer that she let her heart overtake her brain. There was an instant physical attraction, but dating a work partner hadn’t ever panned out for her before. Besides, Spooky was committed to the quest to find Samantha and seemed, on the face of it, to have no room in his heart for anything else. She saw straightaway that he was passionate but she kept the distance required to always be able to challenge his wild theories in order to level him. When she was dying, there was no need for distance. And by then she’d seen that unending capacity of that big heart of his.
Is Mulder romantic? We see him bringing her flowers, protecting her, touching the small of her back, asking her to dance, giving her presents. But we also see him ditching her, putting her in some compromising or downright dangerous positions. Mulder’s childhood trauma has impacted every aspect of his life and sometimes I wonder if some of his gestures are almost possessive acts - he’s still trying to bring his sister back, keep her safe. I think he’s an openly passionate man; his driving force is his quest and when that wanes, he has to find an outlet for that great passion. He channels it into finding Scully, protecting Scully, keeping Scully safe, and eventually trying to protect Scully and William.
Scully isn’t openly romantic, she’s far too reserved with her feelings for that. But there is a streak within her that yearns for the sort of recognition of her as a woman - as Dana - not just for her intellectual capacity, or her stoicism, or her ability to execute precision autopsies. I think, later on in their relationship, if Mulder tells her she’s beautiful, she would melt a little, and blush a lot, but she loves to hear his thoughts and feelings out loud. And I think she appreciates the small and the strange things that Mulder offers her. She kind of loves how sappy he is, but she really enjoys the romanticism of his ideals, the notion that he still wants her opinion on his wacky theories, the late night phone calls, the keychains.
Mulder’s porn is just an outlet, a visual stimulus that titillates but doesn’t fulfil. He learned with Phoebe, he grew with Diana but he peaks with Scully. He finally discovered all that passion and drive could be satisfied with physical love. His deep-running love for Scully makes him a considerate lover but demanding too, with a kind of underlying desperation that he carries everywhere. His only rule is that Scully has to come. And preferably first, because when she lets base emotion take over, her face is the most beautiful he’s ever seen. But he’s nothing if not tenacious, so he’ll work on her imaginatively if he sneaks in his orgasm first.
Scully may not seem overtly sexual but her reserve is a cover for her depths of feeling. Once committed, she gives herself entirely. She too is demanding and for Mulder, it’s a huge turn on. She knows what she wants and she gets it. But she’ll always give of herself too. Leaving Mulder satisfied is a huge sexual boost for her. Does she have rules? Definitely, no sex out in the field. Period sex - maybe towards the end when it’s lighter and only if she’s had a bath. She’s not overly keen on standing up sex - it strains her calves too much and she’s not interested in morning sex. Unless it’s Sunday morning. Because Sunday mornings often blend into Sunday afternoons. So that makes it okay.
Mulder and Scully’s slow burn has meant they are aware of each other’s flaws as well as their strengths. They have each fallen in love with the whole package. And despite ‘the bump in the road’ they seem to have hit, that love will not die. They will find their way back to each other - in fact, they never lost each other. Circumstances or medical issues may have left them apart, but they are better able to see each other from that distance. They know there is no-one else, no other life they want, that together they function better as people.
You cannot live the lives they have and not retain the habit of love, the pattern of love, the shadows and highlights and undertones of love.
Let’s hope for a reunion, Mulder and Scully style, with thumbs, and eye contact, and single tears, and love unspoken but shown. Great lighting would work too!