Situations can be familiar and strange at the same time. How many Fridays have the two agents sat in their basement office with the clock nearing 5 p.m. and their latest case wrapped up except for the paper-work? They fall into a companionable silence. As the clock nears closer to 5, though, both begin to think about the fact that soon they each will go home alone. In the beginning of their partnerships, these moments were often awkward. In those early days, Friday at 5 came with Mulder looking at Scully with puppy dog eyes of abandonment. Sexual tension of if and when and should we was a fact of their partnership never discussed, but often pondered.
A lot has changed since those days. They, of course, have had sex. In fact they had a child together. They had lived together. They had been passionate, sweet, bored, angry and routine in their love making over the years. They have been neglectful of each other. They were now each other exes. Fate has brought them back together in a work capacity and back to the familiar basement office. The feeling of awkwardness at saying goodbye and going home alone was familiar, but different than before. There are still the things left unsaid between them. The strangeness in the circumstances now was that the sense of inevitability and anticipation was replaced by regrets of past mistakes. It is hard to explain the distinctness of the similar circumstance in different times, but Mulder is an analytical man and struggles to understand the change. He finally concludes that the best tangible proof that it is different than before is that he doesn’t have fish anymore because he doesn’t have anyone who would take care of them if something happened to him. This, he thinks, illustrates the distance between them as being so much greater than before they had ever been a romantic couple.
Scully is finishing the paperwork as she usually does. Mulder remembers a similar time in the days before they had ever been a couple. He can see the younger version of themselves and the office so vividly. It had started with him asking a question…
“What are you doing tonight, Scully?” Mulder throws a last pencil at the office ceiling as Scully begins to gather the work she will take home for the week-end. She likes to leave her area of the office tidy and clean.
“The usual. A long bath, order in some pizza, maybe watch a movie or read a book.”
“Sounds lonely.” Mulder says as if he does not know that this is her routine every Friday or as if they had never talked about how much she values her solitary time. He has never told her before that it sounded lonely and she looks at him now a little surprised and a little hurt.
“Generally, a friend will drop by exactly as the pizza arrives. It never matters what time I order the pizza to arrive- 6 p.m or 10 p.m., but he always manages to arrive just as the pizza comes. He will have a bottle of wine or a six pack of beer and we will watch the movie together.”
“Then what, Scully?” Mulder smiles at her annoyance.
“Does he tell you to leave the pizza boxes for the morning? Does he put on some soft music and ask you to dance? Does he tell you how nice you smell and then gently kiss you on the lips?”
“No. Mulder, its not like that.”
“Oh, it is a little more passionate? Does he press you against the wall while he runs his hands over your body? Does he press against you until you are biting that bottom lip? Does he spank you as you turn away and move in the bedroom?”
“No, Mulder. He generally politely picks up the pizza boxes and takes them with him to throw away as he heads home alone to his own apartment and his fish. Then, about an hour after he has left, he will call me to wish me goodnight.”
“Oh, he’s a gentleman?”
Scully stand and walks over to Mulder’s desk. "Usually. I think he is waiting for me to make the first move and I have always been afraid.”
Scully ‘s blue eyes peers into Mulder’s in a way he finds disconcerting. He looks down somewhat dejected and then looks up quizzically at her next comment.
“Its time, though, Mulder. Tonight it is time.”
“Time for what, Scully?”
Scully bends down. She speaks low. “For my friend to bring his overnight bag and spend the night in my bed.” She bites her lower lip.
Mulder sits immobile knowing exactly what her invitation means. She walks to the door and looks back at him. “It’s time.”
The older Mulder is smiling at the memory and of how easy and simple it was for a while after Scully had decided it was time.
“It’s time, Mulder.” He hears her again in the present and stares blankly at her, but the body language of the older Scully, the woman he has loved and hurt, the woman who had left him, is much different.
“Time?” He asks in a sad and dejected voice.
Scully points to the clock. “It’s time to go home now, Mulder.” Her tone is business like. She is gathering her belongings.
“Oh, it is time, Scully.” Mulder has two different voices. This first sentence he says in his announcer voice which is smooth with consonant sounds crisp and clean. It is the melodious voice which used to make Scully say, during the in between X-files days, he should work recording books on tape. The next sentence he says in his other voice. It is the voice he uses when he is emotional and trying to hide it. It is a growl like, deep voice which seems to vibrate in his chest before forcing itself out of his mouth reluctantly. It is a bourbon voice: a voice which betrays his soul.
“It is time,” he growls now “ not to go home but to come home. It’s time for you to come back to our home, Scully.”
He looks at her with all his emotions plain on his face and waits to see her reaction.
Now it is her turn to remember when she got up the courage to tell him it was time. After years of imagining different scenarios the fact that the moment had occurred simply because she said she was ready was the most beautiful surprise of all. There was no great romantic gestures or impassioned declarations before their first time together; just the simplicity of “It’s time.” She can count the number of times Mulder has made grand declarations of loyalty and love and not use all ten of her fingers. She remembers the last time he did so and how it did not keep her from walking out the door. There will be no grand declarations asking her to return. Instead as he has so many times before he communicates all he needs to say through his eyes.
Is it time, she asks herself. She tries to tell herself that she doesn’t remember why she left, but, of course, it isn’t true. She wanted no more of aliens or the search for the truth. She meant it at the time, but it seems ridiculous now that she has joined him again back at the FBI. She hadn’t really left because of him. She had tried to leave her pain and fear behind: her pain at his abduction, of his absence after William was born, of her anger at herself and Mulder for her giving up her son for adoption, of her terror of someday finding Mulder dead again in the woods. She had tried to run away from it and of the constant reminder he represented, but the pain and fear had followed her. In returning to the X-files, she had rushed back head first into the only world where she could find the truth that might help her understand why she had experienced this pain and terror. Mulder, who she loves, is the one person who understands her pain and her fear. She sees the hunger in his eyes for her and feels her own hunger for him.
She says only simply. “You are right, Mulder. It is time I came back home.”
She finishes gathering her belongings. He rises and gestures for her to walk out first. He follows with his hand at the familiar spot on her lower back. At the door they stop. He looks down at her with a smile. She looks up at him and raises her eyebrow. He turns off the light and shuts the door to the basement office. Monday, they will return to the world of the paranormal, but tonight there is only one truth that matters.