I can't believe you're here... you're really here...

They take what privacy can be found in a public place. The theater is dark at least, and loud. They will not be recognized or overheard if they are careful. Countless precautions have been taken.

They don't have much time.

- You don't know how much I've missed you -

- Shhh, what are you saying? Of course I do.

They have much to talk about, but that comes second - after the lingering, bone-crushing embrace that brings tears to their eyes. He gives her the roses as an afterthought, unable to take his eyes off her.

It is not coincidence that they are meeting on Valentine's Day, but she seems surprised nonetheless. She accepts the flowers silently and gives them exactly one second of her time – long enough to count nine perfect red blooms - before she forgets them entirely and returns all of her attention to the man in front of her. For a long time they simply stand and take one another in, throats constricting, eyes dilating, skins stinging in a euphoria of proximity.

Then there is a rush of words: stories, theories, frustrations, revelations, heartaches, joys, disappointments, plans. There are pictures passed reverently from hand to trembling hand, because tonight there is not time, it is not safe, he cannot see the baby this visit. Next time, they say, softly, quickly. Next time.

- I think about you all the time...all I do is think about you -

They speak in fast hushed tones, never louder than the soundtrack of the film. They huddle close, holding hands, brushing arms, rubbing knees, always touching. She presses her palm to his cheek. He pinches the ends of her hair and smiles. They've both changed a little. They've both missed a lot.

The grey shadows of people long dead flicker through the air and land softly on the screen in front of them, unnoticed.

- Your hair...

- My hair -?

- It's gotten so long...

Half-way through a whispered sentence he is unable to wait any longer and he kisses her. Her lips open petal-like under his and it feels like several minutes before either of them breathes.

- I dream about this...do you dream about this?

- Every day...

Alone in the back row they risk everything. Enveloped in a popcorn-scented cocoon of darkness and THX sound, they succumb to the fantasy that they are safe and behave like desperate teenagers, manic, overwrought by months of deprivation, indifferent to the limitations of winter clothing and narrow over-sprung theater seats. They forget quickly about the danger they are in, frantic for contact, for the touch of hands and mouths, for the feel of skin on skin. For the moment – for a little while at least - nothing else matters.

- My God, how I've missed you...

He pulls her onto his lap and she sinks into the scent of him, the warmth of him, the solid reality of him, so unbelievable, so exactly like and unlike the memories that are all she's had to live on for weeks. His hands press against her, under her coat, over her blouse, his fingers digging into her soft skin as though he cannot grab up enough of her. She lets out a groan of frustration. They can't get close enough.

It is heady. They are breathing hard. They find each other with their mouths and the first kiss is fierce, intense, electric. The second takes longer, is hotter, rolls slowly - their tongues slipping, lips tugging. It lasts forever and still is not enough. It is a thirst that won't be quenched.

Clothing is pushed impatiently aside.

- Mulder -

They are rocking slowly, moving incrementally, scraping against one another in a rhythm that is too cramped, too small, too quiet for what they are feeling. After so long apart, they need more space than this; they want to scream their passion to the rafters -

- Ahhh, Scully -

- Shhh...

The sense of confinement and denial emboldens them. They did not ask for this existence, this pain. They did not choose to have their happiness held at the mercy of shadowy others, as intangible as the ethereal phantoms projected before them. They begin to move faster, harder. They take out their frustration on one another, grinding, delving, clawing, leaving brutal kisses wherever their mouths land. Every touch and thrust is infused with edgy, pain-soaked abandon - the knowledge that this is temporary, just for tonight; in just hours they will have to say goodbye again.

And even that cannot diffuse the joy they feel at coming together. They are defiant.

The seat creaks once, twice, every time they move. Their breaths are no longer silent. She whimpers during a pause in the echoey on-screen dialog. He lets out a long, low moan.

They are lost in each other. They are not careful.

- Ohh - oh God -

A beam of solid light swings up into their faces, blinding them. There is a quick and graceless scramble for modesty.

They have been discovered by an embarrassed teenaged usher who swings his flashlight back toward the floor and mutters something as they wipe mouths, smooth hair, rearrange clothes. He leaves them with their bodies humming, mouths swollen, hearts thumping in their chests.

- Oh my God...

They cannot stay. They leave through a back exit ten minutes before the end of the film.

Outside the air is thin and brittle, and their breaths come out in heavy puffs of vapor. He pulls her around a corner and they huddle for a moment next to the cold brick wall, wrapped in winter coats that insulate them from one another. Their faces are uncovered and so they press them together, unwilling to lose contact yet.

- There's so much I haven't told you -

- I love you, Scully - you know that, right? No matter what happens -

- Mulder - I don't want you to go yet -

- Just know that I love you...

He kisses her before she can start to cry, before he can change his mind and jeopardize more than they already have. There is a crackle of cellophane. He gives her the roses she left in the theatre.

- Mulder, please don't go yet -

He lets go of her and backs away, staring at her. He is leaving.

- I love you, Scully.

- I love you, Mulder - please -

He puts his hand to his lips and blows a kiss at her on a billow of steam.

- Happy Valentine's Day, Scully -

She hears the hitch in his voice as he turns and hurries away. She watches as he disappears, as he does not look back. She looks at the bunch of roses in her hands.

- Happy Valentines Day.


"The most singular difference between happiness and joy is that happiness is a solid and joy a liquid." - J.D. Salinger, 'De Daumier-Smith's Blue Period'