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Walking the Tightrope

Chapter Text

When she put the phone down she knew she wouldn’t be able to sleep. The Billy Miles case had been unsettling on a level she wasn’t prepared to admit just yet. She’d gone along for Mulder’s ride with more than large dose of scepticism packed in her case. But her resolve to be rational went out the window, along with her pride, after she disrobed before him. His tenderness towards her was a surprise. That he’d shown his vulnerability with his sister’s story was an even bigger surprise.
She got up and made tea. She considered calling Ethan but she could already hear the snip in his voice, the way he’d talk over her if she so much as mentioned her new role.
“Dana, if you’re going to be a spy, shouldn’t you be in the CIA?”
Ethan Minette was a great boyfriend. Just not for Dana Scully. She kind of knew that before she’d got the request from Blevins. Ethan was sweet in the beginning, considerate, interesting and intelligent. But he had started to become self-absorbed and even a little jealous of her career.
“I booked us a table and you didn’t show up.”
“I told you I was flying out the next morning. I couldn’t have a late night.”
“But you’re talking to me after 1am, Dana. Seems you can have a late night with Spooky Mulder, but not your own boyfriend.”
She’d nearly hung up, but she took a deep breath, picked up the specimen jar containing the strange object removed from Billy Miles and held it up to look at it for tenth time. “You called me, Ethan.”
“And you were still awake.”
“This is going nowhere. I’ll see you when I’m home.”
His curt, “Will you?” left her edgy and she wished she could go for a run. She could hear Mulder moving around next door and she knew he would be willing to accompany her, but instead, she tried to add details to her report. Details that didn’t exist.
Sipping her tea, with a better perspective, she could see that now that she’d worked a full case with Spooky Mulder and found him less spooky and more intriguing, she had that bubble of nervous energy working its way around her gut telling her that she needed to do the right thing and let Ethan go.
She was rinsing the cup when she heard the knock at the door. A frisson of fear ran through her. She reached for her weapon with one hand and held the other at her throat, holding the collars of her robe together. It was probably Ethan, she reasoned. Anxious to see her, and she wanted to think it was a good thing, that he was being attentive. But it was gone midnight and she hadn’t slept well for days. By the time she tiptoed to the door, reason had turned to anger. What right did he have to just show up like this? She wasn’t his property. She was still gripping the gun and she didn’t care. Holding her breath until she gasped at the second knock, harder this time, and followed by a low male voice.
“Scully, it’s me.”
Relief flooded her system. She unlocked the door and let Mulder in.
“Were you going to shoot me?” he said, looking at the Sig in her hand.
“I thought you were my boyfriend,” she said, locking the door again.
His mouth dropped open and then shut again. She felt the flush bloom over her chest and neck and up to her cheeks.
“I didn’t mean it like that.”
Mulder grinned. “Remind me never to ask you out, Scully. I’ve heard you’re a pretty mean shot.”
She giggled and sounded about twelve. “Treat me with respect, Mulder and you’ll never have to find out.”
His grin fell away. “I hope you don’t mind me coming here. I don’t mean to get in the way of your private life. If you were expecting your boyfriend, I can leave. I’ll see you in a few hours anyway.”
“It’s fine. I wasn’t expecting him, but I couldn’t think of anyone else who would show up here. Do you want something to drink? Tea, coffee?”
He shook his head. “I just wanted to talk to you about the case. Is that all right?”
She showed him to the couch. “What more is there to talk about? They buried the evidence. My report was trashed. Our voices have been drowned out.”
His weight on the sofa felt different to Ethan’s. Mulder was taller, took up more space, but somehow it felt more comfortable. She sat like she would without anyone there, cross-legged on the seat, hair tied in a loose pony-tail, no make-up, no pretences.
“Scully, I know you were sent to spy on me but I think this case has shown you that what I’ve discovered in the X-Files, the things I’ve seen, I’ve learned…I…I think you can see that the work is valid.”
His face was open, his eyes trained on her, his jaw flexing. She felt a buzz in the pit of her stomach, a familiar ache, something that she hadn’t experienced for the longest time. Excitement, anticipation, rising tension. It was building within her as he spoke. His face, his body language, the way he talked faster and stammered, was evidence of his passion, his complete commitment to his work. Fox Mulder was intensity personified and she felt alive.
When his hand rested on her knee, she swallowed back thick saliva, tasted more than just the tea – it was the tang of arousal and she flushed. She looked up at him, still talking, still explaining the bizarre and the arcane, the conspiracies and the paranoia. He was oblivious to the power he commanded. He had no clue about how he exuded sensuality through this passion of his. She stayed still, holding her breath, lest the shuddery exhale give away her own vulnerability. She was his partner, for God’s sake. She’d already walked that tightrope before and there was no way she was going to give in to emotions so readily. She promised herself she wouldn’t go there anymore. Clearly, she needed distance to work with this man, she needed boundaries. She needed to build some walls.
Her cell rang and she jumped. Mulder stopped talking, surprised to be interrupted. He didn’t move his hand though, even when she leaned across to the coffee table to pick up the phone.
“Ethan?” she said. Fuck. She already had distance, a boundary, a wall. And his name was Ethan. “Why are you calling me so late?”
Mulder leant back against the couch and smiled that lazy, sexy smile. His arms tucked behind his head and his body was on the diagonal so that his knees touched hers. She felt the buzz and she couldn’t move.
“I’m not doing anything. I’m trying to sleep.”
Mulder grinned and shook his head slightly. He was loving this.
“I’m in bed, Ethan. And it’s late. And I’ve had a big week.”
He leant forward now, elbows on knees, face up against hers, and whispered. “I’ll see you later, Scully.”
She watched him stand and walk to the door. She followed. “Thanks for coming over,” she said. He turned and winked to her. She heard Ethan’s voice in her ear and gulped. “No, Ethan. I didn’t say anything. There’s nobody here. I’ll call you later.”
Mulder stood in the doorframe. “You’re a terrible liar, Scully.”
She blushed. “He’s been worried about me. The job, the case.”
He nodded. “But you’re an FBI agent. You can take care of yourself, make your own decisions. I’m sure Ethan will understand.”
“He does,” she said. But as Mulder pointed out. She was a terrible liar.
“Goodnight, Scully. Sleep tight.” He laid a hand on her forearm and looked right into her. They stayed that way for a long, long beat.
“Night, Mulder,” she said, finally.
But she knew when she shut the door she wouldn’t be able to sleep.

Chapter Text

He looked a whole lot better than he had when he got into the car. She’d been scared. Her heart thumping and bleeding a little for this little-boy-lost. He had no idea what had happened to him at Ellens Airbase and it had frightened him. For a man who’d spent so many years trying to remember leading up to the disappearance of his sister, losing more memories would have to be a cut too deep. The worst part was that he knew he had been close. She knew he’d been close. Not that her report would reflect that. It couldn’t. For her sake and for his.
She found him running circuits of the track. The sun was high and he was sweaty in his ratty gear, but the bewildered expression and fearful voice had gone.
“Joining me for a work out, Scully? I’ve always wondered how you learned to run in high heels.”
She followed his gaze down her legs to her feet and felt her skin flush slightly.
“You men don’t know you’re born,” she replied. “You try fitting a weapon and flashlight in the suits they cut for the female form. Most of them don’t even have pockets. Then you add a handbag and high heels to the equation and it’s no wonder most female agents are fitter and more resourceful than their male counterparts.”
He smirked. “On what do you base that finding, Dr Scully?”
“Science.”
His eyebrows raised. “Is that all you got?”
She folded her arms. “You mean I need more? You don’t seem to require any evidence to hang your theories off.”
His jaw flexed and he straightened up. She held her ground. He looked around, eyeing off the stand in the distance. He turned back to her. She’d overstepped the mark. She clenched her fists.
Then he grinned and put his hands on her shoulders. “Two cases in, Scully, and you’ve already got me cracked.”
She rocked back on her heels and smiled. She missed the weight of his hands on her shoulders as soon as he removed them. She loved this softer side of him. He was so intense, so committed to the job most of the time, that seeing him as a human being with a sense of humour, was easy to overlook. He pulled his foot up behind him, stretching his quads and she watched the beads of sweat drip down his face. She really should do more running but the case load had been full on and Ethan had been demanding all of her downtime. Still, her body tingled with the need to let off the nervous energy those cases had filled her with and she resolved to give Ethan a call and cancel their plans for the weekend. She would indulge in two days of jogging and gym work.
“Who was that you were talking to?” she asked as Mulder walked to where he’d slung his bag. He pulled a water bottle from the depths and swigged it. Fascinated by the bobbing of his Adam’s apple, she realised she was staring, only when he wiped his mouth with the back of his hand and gave her a look.
“The older man, grey curly hair. Suit.” She was scurrying behind him and that nervous energy was now building into a bubble of anger. Why was he denying the meeting?
“I was running, Scully.”
“I saw you, Mulder,” she said, finally getting level with him.
He looked down at her, eyes narrow. “Is that all you got?”
She rang Ethan and agreed to a dinner on Saturday night. He got drunk on the house red and she drove him home. He insisted she come in for coffee but she wasn’t in the mood to listen to his whining about how the female producers got all the best jobs because the industry was looking to equality.
“It’s hardly equality when there’s a quota to fill,” he said, slurring and lunging towards her. “I mean, you don’t see this sort of thing in the FBI, do you?”
“You mean giving women a chance to prove that they’re just as capable as men despite never even getting to the interview in this boy’s club world we still live in?”
“Dana…”
“What?” she said, pouring him another coffee. “It’s true, Ethan. Women have to fight every inch of the way just stay even while men call up their buddies and walk into a job they have no business being doing. There are men at the Bureau who should have been put out to pasture decades ago. There were plenty of capable women at the Academy. At least with quotas there’s a strong chance that future generations of women will simply be able to take up the opportunities presented to them, they’ll be inspired by those of us already paving the way.”
He laughed. Not like Mulder, whose gentle chuckles were often a signal that he agreed with her sentiments. Ethan actually laughed as though what she was saying was funny. “Dana, you sound like some radical feminist.”
She poured the rest of her coffee down the sink. “I’m tired, “ she said. “I’m going home.”
He lunged at her, grabbing her arm and pulling him to her. “Stay, Dana. It’s been weeks since you’ve…”
She shifted in his grasp. “I’ve been busy, Ethan. And I said I’m tired. I’ll call you.”
He pulled her closer and kissed her, and all she could taste was bitter coffee and stale alcohol. She pushed him away and wiped her mouth.
“What is wrong with you, Dana?”
She picked up her jacket and went to leave. “Maybe I’m just tired of being taken for granted.”
He rushed after her, putting himself between her and the door. “I don’t take you for granted, Dana. I love you. I thought you loved me too.”
His voice cracked and she thought for one helpless moment that he was going to cry. She thought of Mulder’s bewilderment, his utter confusion outside that base and felt a pang of guilt that her own boyfriend’s emotional outpouring left her cold, while her new partner’s wilfully inflicted situation had her welling with sympathy.
“I’ve got to go, Ethan,” she said and gave him a peck on the cheek.
“I do love you, Dana.” He held onto her hand, gripping it until her fingers turned white.
“I know,” she said.
She tossed and turned and fell asleep as a grey dawn cracked open the sky. Sunday morning lie-ins surrounded by the papers and toast crumbs seemed a world away as the irritating buzz of her cell phone woke her.
“Mulder? What’s the matter?”
He arrived less than forty minutes later, a bag of bagels in his hand. “I owe you an apology, Scully.”
She pulled the tie of her robe tighter and flicked on the jug. “Why? What have you done this time?”
He chuckled. “I haven’t been entirely honest with you. And that’s not fair. You’re my partner and you are entitled to be treated as an equal.”
Turning round to face him, she saw that familiar expression he had, the one where he bared himself, opened himself up. She’d seen it in Bellefleur, at the motel. And again on the way back from Ellens Airbase. Fox Mulder might be capable of hiding things away, but when he wanted to let them out, you couldn’t resist listening.
“So I did see you with a man the other day.”
He nodded. “I’m sorry. I thought I was protecting him. My source. But if I protect him, where does that leave you?”
She took two teabags from the box and dropped them into two mugs. “On the outside,” she said. That seemed to be her life at the moment. Watching it all unfold from a safe distance.
“And I don’t want that for you,” he said. “I want us to be equals, in every way.”
She laughed but shook her head. “I think you need to have a word with my boyfriend.”
Mulder sank back against the bench top. “Trouble in the Garden of Eden?”
“Ethan. His name is Ethan.”
“I’m sorry, Scully. The job can really mess around with relationships.”
She poured the tea. “Oh, I know that, Mulder. But something tells me it’s not just the job that’s getting in the way.”
His face relaxed again, offering her the chance to talk.
“But it’s nothing to do with you, so I won’t bore you with the details.”
“Hey, partner. I’m here for the details. I love the details. I’m a details man,” he took a sip of tea and she couldn’t help but notice his mouth, his full lips. The way he smiled so easily when he wanted to.
“Well, details man, why don’t you let me know what the next case is and I’ll figure out what I’m going to do with my Garden of Eden.”
“I have some advice, if you’re willing to take it?”
She folded her arms. “Go on.”
“Don’t give in to temptation.” He grinned at his own joke and she couldn’t help but giggle.
“Is that all you got?”
“You want more?”
“I thought you were a details man, Mulder.” She was laughing now, blowing steam off her mug as she did. She felt her body soften. She loved this bantering.
“Really, Scully, if you need to sort things out with Ethan, you need to do it. A clean break. Rip off the band-aid.”
She put the mug down and tucked a strand of hair behind her ear. “You seem to know a lot about the state of my relationship, Mulder.”
He sighed. “I’ve learned a bit about you, Scully, in the time we’ve known each other. And you seem out of sorts. I know you are very single-minded and focussed but if you let something like this fester it can wedge itself in your mind and take away your focus.”
“Voice of experience?”
He chuckled again. “Something like that.”
“But you’re wedded to your work, Mulder. No time for anything else. Me? I want a life.”
His voice dropped and he stepped closer to her, looming over her until she could smell his cologne. He bent forward and put the mug in the sink, his arm brushing hers. He stayed there as he spoke, almost a whisper. “And I want a partner who’s clear about what she wants.”
Her throat was so dry the noise of her swallowing filled the space between them. Her arms and legs felt heavy and useless. He was fucking right. And she knew what she had to do.
“You know what you have to do, Scully. You just need to do it.”
He finally moved back and there was a brightness invading her space now. She sighed and felt the prickle of tears at her eyes. She wouldn’t give in. Shouldn’t. She turned to the sink and ran the water as she sniffed. She didn’t hear him return. His hands massaged the gristles in her shoulders and she let him for a while.
“You need to relieve this tension, Scully. You’re holding it all in here.” His knuckles kneaded a hard knot and she gasped, turning to face him. His face was inches from hers and he was half-smiling. His stubble gave him a harder edge and she pressed herself harder against the bench, the damp soaking into her robe.
“I just feel like a shit, dumping him so soon after starting a new job. And for no real reason.”
Mulder shrugged. “You need a reason?”
She nodded. “It makes things easier.”
He bent forward, took her face in his large, warm hands and kissed her. Gentle at first, then with more urgency. She couldn’t breathe. His fingers brushed her cheeks and he was so tender, so genuine that she couldn’t think. When he let her go, stepped back and rolled his lips together, like he was enjoying he aftertaste of her, she blushed hot. He waited a beat, seeming to enjoy her discomfort.
“Is that enough of a reason?” he asked, his voice threaded.
She flexed her shaking fingers and looked up at him. “Is that all you got?”

Chapter Text

He kissed her again, his lips pushing hers open, their teeth clashed and she welcomed his tongue grazing over each one, so that she could feel the drag of his tender flesh. His nose pushed into her cheek and it set her nerves aflame. She became hyper sensitive to everything, the light from the kitchen window, the distant barking of a dog, the smell of the cooling tea beside them, the yeasty aroma of the bagels, the taste of Mulder’s lips, salty and sweet, the feel of his chest against her robe and somewhere in her mind she thanked the stars that she’d chosen the thin, silky one.
It felt like an out of body experience. She almost broke away to laugh at the thought. Mulder would love the idea that him kissing her could induce such a reaction. He probably had an X File somewhere in that crazy filing system. But it felt so good, so right that she put her hand around the back of his neck and pulled him closer. Her thumb rubbed under the curls there. The small of her back pressed into the sink and she rose on tiptoe to counterbalance their upper body movements. Mulder dropped his hands from her face to her waist and then slid one up the front of her robe, rubbing her breast until he got the desired reaction. She sighed into his mouth and he swallowed it, closing off the kiss and pulling back.
Her chest rose and fell, her hair was stuck to the side of her face, near her mouth, an invisible imprint of his on her skin. She took her bottom lip between her teeth and looked at her feet. He reached out and pulled the hair away and tucked it back. Then he turned round and pulled a bagel from the bag he’d left on the table. He bit into it, crumbs falling over his reddened lips. He held it up to her mouth and she took a bite from the other side. As she chewed, he smiled.
“Do you want more, Scully? Because if so, just say the word.”
She nodded.
“You need to say it, Scully,” he said. “You’re the one who has to face up to Ethan.”
Fuck, why did he have to say it like that? Like she would be making a field report to file later. Case File 1013 How Dana Scully cheated on her boyfriend with her new partner. She turned to the window and studied the dust that had gathered on the slats of the blind. How hard could it be to just do the right thing?
The knock at the door sent a sinking feeling to the pit of her stomach. She flattened her hair, swallowed and turned to Mulder.
“That’s Ethan.”
He pulled a face as she walked past. “I’ll leave.”
“No, don’t.”
She opened the door and Ethan walked in without saying a word. He didn’t see Mulder for a few moments but did an almost comic double-take, making an ugly noise from the back of his throat.
“Who the hell are you?”
Mulder held back. She could see him physically still himself, press his lips together, curl his fists. “My name’s Mulder. I’m Scully’s partner.” He held out his hand. No bagel.
“Scully?” The way Ethan said her name twisted her guts. He made it sound wrong, illicit. “Is that supposed to mean something?”
“It means nothing,” Mulder said. Then added, “not to anyone else, anyhow,” in a low breath. She licked her lips, meeting his furtive glance.
“What are you holding behind your back?” Ethan asked, his lips curling into a snarl.
Her fingernails dug into her palms and she stepped between them. “Coffee, Ethan?”
His face untwisted and he pushed past Mulder, following her back to the kitchen.
Mulder sat at the table. His face was unreadable. He reached into the paper bag. “Bagel, Ethan?” He held out a fresh, whole one.
Scully swore he winked at her and she reached up into the cupboard for another mug. “Mulder, more tea?”
Ethan shook his head at Mulder and he put the bagel back in the bag. His chair scraped over the tiles. “No thanks, but I’ll see you tomorrow, Scully.”
“You will,” she said, pouring hot water into Ethan’s mug. It splashed up and caught her on the back of the hand. She hissed as Mulder shut the door.
When she came back from lunch with Tom Colton, she couldn’t find Mulder. His desk was unusually uncluttered and there was a pleasant, bready aroma in the air. She walked around and saw the evidence. One bagel. Two bite marks.
Did she want more? She sat down and smiled.

Chapter Text

She was still trembling hours later. The apartment was a wreck, with dozens of forensics officers, and detectives trekking through. Even Tom Colton had dared to show his face. Not concerned. Not sorry. He just seemed annoyed that Mulder was there. And truthfully, with all these strangers in her own home, if it hadn’t been for Mulder and his territorialism, she would have felt like the intruder here.
He made tea for her. She wanted to bathe but couldn’t face the bathroom. She hovered in her bedroom, not ready to shut the door completely, and eventually got into her pyjamas and robe. This time, she chose the fluffy towelling one. Bagels aside, she was grateful that Mulder was here. A reliable and comforting presence.
“How are you feeling?” he was sitting on her couch, one long leg crossed over the other.
“Fine,” she said, sitting down next to him.
“And how are you really feeling,” he asked, leaning towards her.
She nodded and let out a half-laugh. “I’m fine, really. Shaken up, but otherwise unharmed. Thanks to you.”
He shook his head. “If I ever see Colton again, he’s going to end up with his head so far up his ass he’ll be able to remove his own liver.”
She did laugh then and a flood of relief coursed through her body. She plumped back on the couch and let her hands fall to her lap, kneading the towelling in her fingers. “He was a bright star, always ambitious but maybe being told how good you are all the time makes you arrogant.”
“By that token, Scully, being told how spooky you are all the time should have made me normal.”
This time she giggled so much that tears streamed down her face. The happy tears turned to tears of distress as the events of the evening finally caught up with her. Mulder pulled her to him, held her until she was cried out. She didn’t realise she’d fallen asleep on him until he groaned softly into her hair as he flexed the shoulder she was lying on.
“Oh, Mulder. I’m so sorry. You should have said something earlier.” She scooted away and ran her hands over her hair.
He stood up and stretched his arms above his head. She watched as his shirt lifted, revealing an inch or two of toned back. “You were exhausted. You needed to rest.”
She pushed herself up and stood next to him. “I’ve really appreciated you being here, Mulder. You’ve been a great source of comfort. But you probably need to go home and have breakfast before we have to be at the office in,” she looked at her watch, “an hour or so.”
“I think they might cut us some slack today, Scully. And maybe I can bring some breakfast to the office? Bagels?” He looked at her with puppy-dog innocence.
“Mulder,” she said, smiling. “If I tell you how wicked you are all the time, will that make you better behaved?” His laughter was genuine and sent electricity through her, sparking her nerve endings and leaving a buzz in her stomach. She looked down at her feet and sucked in a breath. “I guess I should tell Ethan.”
“Nothing happened, Scully.” He rested his hands on her shoulders.
“I mean about Tooms, Mulder. And yes, something happened. You know it, and I know it.”
He sighed. “Hi Ethan, it’s Dana. Hi Dana, how was your day? Oh, you know. I fell out with an academy associate, slept on my partner’s shoulder, the same partner that kissed me in my kitchen, and with whom I shared a bagel with sexual overtones. Oh, and I nearly donated my liver to a mutant human with an offal fetish.”
“A bagel with sexual overtones. Is that on the menu at your nearest bakery?”
He opened the door. “Any time you want, Scully. Any time you want.”
Mulder drove them back to the office after their visit to see Tooms in his cell. She needed to write her report.
“Putting off the inevitable, Scully?” Mulder asked, tapping his watch. “It’s nearly 8pm.”
“I’m okay about going home, Mulder. I’m a big girl.”
He cracked a sunflower seed. “That’s not what I meant. Is it supposed to be date night?”
She closed the laptop. “We don’t have date night, Mulder. And I have already spoken to Ethan. Actually, he was quite concerned about me.”
Mulder looked at the ceiling. “Ooh, I bet he was.”
“You are impossible, Mulder.”
He suddenly leant forward, arms on the desk. “You got that right, Scully. You should remember that. I am difficult, antisocial, troublesome, spooky, self-absorbed, challenging and impossible.”
She chuffed out a laugh. “Tell me something I don’t already know.”
He stood up and walked around to her chair. She swung round to face him, aware of the heat rising on her cheeks. “I’m charming.” He sat on the desk, so close she could hear his breathing. “I’m a details man.” He pulled out her cross and tutted, “this is a different necklace to the one you were wearing the other night, and you’ve changed your perfume.” She tried to contain the hitch in her breathing as his fingers brushed the skin on her chest. “I’m passionate.” He bent to her ear and butterflied kisses up and down her neck until she couldn’t decide whether to twist towards him or away from him. He stopped and pulled back. “And I don’t care what anyone thinks about me.” His hand trailed her shoulder, arm, down to her thigh, where it pressed into her skirt so that she could feel the friction of the lining against her stockings. “And you’re wearing thigh-highs and that is not fair, Scully.” His breathing became heavy.
She managed a quiet whisper, “Mulder,” as his hands slipped under the hem but it was a futile protest because she lifted herself up so he could push the skirt right up, exposing her thighs and the lacy stocking tops. He smiled and she licked her lips. “What are you doing?”
He laughed into her lap. “You’re a trained investigator, Agent Scully.”
She stopped trying to make sense of what was happening when his fingers brushed over the front of her panties. Her nipples hardened and the hairs on her arms stood on end. The office was silent except for the hum of the computer and lights, and their own deliciously loaded breaths. He explored her with his fingers, outside her underwear, then inside. He was kneeling between her legs and her skirt was rucked up at her waist. He pulled off her panties and kissed the skin inside her thighs and she sighed, abandoning any reason. His nose pushed into her groin as he let his tongue taste her, a gentle swipe at first, until she lifted her buttocks up and he pushed his mouth against her, probing deeper and deeper, She wrapped her arms around the back of the chair and spread her legs wider, until his chin was hard up against her rear and the bridge of his nose was rubbing her clit. They found the rhythm she needed and he worked her to a frenzy before she cried out in release. Her hand slammed against the arm of the chair and he chuckled against her, sending her pulsing even harder.
“Fuck, Mulder.” She looked down at him, the lower half of his face slick with her arousal. He was grinning and it made her want to come again, just looking at the pleasure on his face.
“Time to go home yet?”
Her legs ached and she felt light-headed. She stood up and pulled her skirt down with shaking hands. “I’m hungry, Mulder. Do you want dinner?”
He smirked. “There’s a really good bakery near my place.”

Chapter Text

She sat outside Ethan’s apartment for what seemed like hours. But according to the clock it was only a few minutes. She was pinned to the car seat by that universal foe – guilt. She knew she had to cut him free but she felt terrible about cheating first. She squirmed at the memory of Mulder and that office chair. The aberration was clearly the culmination of many events – the pressure of the job, the proximity of their working relationship, the stress of the Tooms case, the fact that he was hot.
She went to open the car door. Was it an aberration? Was it really a one-off, a mistake, a never-to-be-repeated-steamy-session with her self-confessed impossible partner? She let go of the handle. Deflated. Fuck. She didn’t want it to be a one-off but she knew in reality it couldn’t continue. And either way, it wasn’t fair on Ethan. She pulled the handle again. What was she going to tell him? The truth or some version of it? She laughed at that thought. What was this thing that Mulder was so inflamed by? What was the truth? Was it the truth as Ethan would see it? That she cheated on him with her work partner and didn’t have the guts to tell him she didn’t love him any more before she did it? Was it that she had never loved him in the first place and that his behaviour towards her since she started the job had simply pushed her closer to Mulder? She sighed and opened the door. Either way, she did cheat. She and Ethan were together. Are together. And she and Mulder…god, that was the most amazing, intense…she couldn’t think of another time where she’d been so impulsive. And fuck, if it wasn’t the best thing ever.
She walked up the steps and steadied her breathing. Behind her, she heard the squeal of tyres and a door slamming. At least someone had some urgency in their life. Footsteps pounded the sidewalk and she was tempted to turn back and just watch as this person, clearly someone with a mission, as they hurried to do their business.
“Scully!”
The voice, the footsteps, the utter and complete drama that came with the package. Mulder. She turned and crossed her arms around her as he grinned, loping up the steps.
“We’ve got a job.”
She looked at her watch. “At 7.15am on a Tuesday?”
He was breathing heavily by the time he got to the step she was on. “X Files aren’t usually known for keeping regular office hours, Scully.”
“And are they known for stalking their partners at their boyfriend’s house so that she is dragged away from doing the right thing?”
He lifted a paper bag up between them. “Bagel, Scully?”
If someone had told her that she’d be turned on by a 6ft man with bad taste in ties looming over her and articulating the word ‘Okobogee’ she would have smacked them in the solar plexus. But. She was learning that everything about Fox Mulder was out of the ordinary.
The case left her feeling wrung out. Kevin didn’t stand a chance of a normal life if his mother refused to tell him the truth. She leant her head on the window and sighed. It all came back to that word, the one Mulder loved with more passion than he would ever love another person. At least a person who was currently present and living.
“You’re quiet, Scully.” He kept his eyes on the road but his thumbs tapped a rhythm on the steering wheel. Mulder Morse code?
“I’m thinking,” she said, watching bleak fields whizz by.
“I can hear it,” he said, turning and giving her a gentle smile.
Now he was going all psychologist on her. Before too long she’d be lying back in the seat and confessing her innermost secrets. Or maybe she’d already done that.
“I have to tell Ethan. He deserves the truth.”
He nodded and she watched his profile. All prominent nose and tucked away chin. “And if you tell him the truth, about us, will that make you feel better. Make him feel better?”
Fuck you, she thought. Fuck. You. “That’s not fair, Mulder.”
He laughed and dug into his pocket for a seed. “Maybe not, Scully. But the truth is fluid and open to interpretation. You can pull it apart like a puzzle and throw bits of it out into the open, just to watch where it lands. The trick is knowing which bits you slot together and which bits you pick up and keep close to your chest.”
She knocked at Ethan’s rather than using her key. If she had been on the receiving end of that kind of arrival, red flags would have been flapping in her face. Instead, he seemed genuinely surprised to see her and she swallowed back the guilt that rose in her throat.
“You look tired, Dana. Coffee? Or something stronger. I’ve opened a red.”
She shook her head, fearing if she spoke she would simply blurt out the truth or whatever it was she was here to tell him. She shucked off her jacket and put her case by the door. The sofa felt odd, like she didn’t belong there. The whole room felt off, darker, drier. She knew Mulder would tell her she was just projecting her own feelings onto the environment around her but, it was also telling that her last time here should be the time she really felt she didn’t belong.
Ethan swallowed a mouthful of wine, smiled at her and sat too close for her comfort. She shifted away and picked at a strand of cotton on her skirt.
“I have to say something, Ethan and I want you to listen until I’m finished.”
“I love it when you take control, Dana.” He sipped the wine again and she felt her stomach fold in on itself.
“You’ve been good for me in many ways, perhaps too good.” He pouted and cocked his head to the side, but remained silent. “You’re steady and dependable, you’re great at your job, you have a wonderful family. You’re going places…but I can’t go with you. Not to where you want to go.” He put the glass down and she saw the trembling in his hands. He gulped hard and she cut him off before he could protest. “I can’t Ethan, and I think you know it too. Deep down. You know I’ve been finding it difficult since I started this job, keeping to the routine we’d established. But the truth is,” she took a shuddering breath in, “I don’t love you like you need me to. And I’m not sure I ever did. But what I am sure of, is that I will never be able to. It’s just not me.”
Mulder was staring at the ceiling, legs on his desk, cracking seeds. He looked dangerous. He was dangerous. She knew that. She sank into her chair and sighed at the stack of paperwork on the desk.
“All done, Scully?”
She didn’t say anything.
“You should be feeling better in a few days. Get back into life.”
The first file was filled with reports of alien abductions where the female victims returned to Earth able to do things they weren’t previously able to do: talk in Arabic, solve complex mathematical equations, perform surgery, one even joined the circus as a contortionist. She flicked through the papers and thwumped them back on the pile, the puff of air hitting her in the face.
“Wouldn’t it be neat if we could all just erase the past and start again, with some new skillset, like being able to fly aeroplanes.”
“Where would you go, Scully?”
“Away from here.”
He shifted his legs off the desk and leant forward. “You don’t mean that. It wouldn’t help. And besides, your skillset is perfectly suited to this job, Scully and you know it. Another case or two and Ethan will be just a memory and you’ll be dating again.”
She looked up at him. “Dating?”
“Yeah, you know, you and a divorced father of two, out for dinner in some fancy French restaurant. A life. That’s what you want, isn’t it?”
She stood up and grabbed her bag. “You’re impossible, Mulder.”
He coughed, like he knew he’d overstepped the mark. “See you bright and early tomorrow, Scully. We can start over again.”
He grinned and she shook her head at him, chuffing out a laugh. “Fine. Just don’t bring any bagels.”
“Deal.”
She opened the door and he stood up, walking to her in a few short strides. He stroked her hair and held her chin up. He pressed a chaste kiss to her lips. “How do you like croissants, Scully?”

Chapter Text

Apparently, having a life with a guy like Rob was not a realistic life goal. But, bailing out her errant partner was. Shouting him breakfast was. Chasing after beast-women in the New Jersey forest was. Going to the Smithsonian was. But clearly, riding him in the back of his car at the far corner of the museum car park was going to be the pinnacle of her life because it felt so, so…fucking good.
She slid up and down on him, every ridge sparking electrical impulses inside her skin. This was unlike anything she’d experienced before. He was so hard. She was so wet. This was primal. The very epitome of the case they’d just finished. Beast man and beast woman. Instinct. She let her head fall back, let him rub his thumb over her clit, let him nuzzle at her nipples, let him turn her from rational scientist to a series of guttural and breathy moans. Pleasure meant everything. Base need compelled her every move. Everything else was background noise. Until he moaned her name and reality set in.
“What the hell are we doing, Mulder?” she said, huffing the hair out of her eyes, while he kneaded her breasts under her open shirt. She’d lost track of where her bra went. She knew her panties were ripped and trapped around one thigh. Her trousers were hanging over the back of the passenger seat and his belt buckle was scratching at her lower back in a circular motion, no doubt leaving a mark.
“Eight million years out of Africa, Scully, and I’m pretty sure that rudimentary human behaviour is still much the same. Eat, drink, fuck.” He bucked up and groaned.
“You didn’t even buy me dinner.” She bent down and kissed him hard, sucking on the lower lip as he ground into her, lighting her clit on fire. “Fuck, Mulder. Fuck me, Mulder. Fuck me so hard, Mulder.”
He chuckled into her hair and upped his game. She held her breath and waited for the pressure to burst and when it did she cried out, digging her nails into his chest and scraping them downwards. He yelped and she opened her eyes to see his head fall back and his eyes roll in pain.
“Shit! I’m sorry.” She patted his bandage back down and he grimaced.
“S’okay,” he said, his voice rasping over his teeth. “Endorphins are solid pain relief, Scully.” He moved his hips and she rolled her own to the rhythm he set. His breathing ramped up and he gripped her hips, holding her in place as he let go. The guttural noise he made was about the most base and erotic thing she’d ever heardand she looked up at the ceiling of the car wondering why it had taken her this long to want to hear it. Her own breathing calmed and they stayed, joined in the silence, for a long while.
“Peptides activate the body’s opiate receptors causing an analgesic effect,” she said, twisting off him and feeling the cramps in her legs as she shifted her weight to find her clothes.
“I love it when you talk dirty, Dr Scully.”
She zipped herself up and looked at him, hair askew, stubble, shirt unbuttoned. He was an unkempt mess but he was so fucking hot. “Seriously, what are we doing?”
He got out of the back and stood outside, stretching. She could barely see him in the dim glow of the car park light but she knew he would be cricking his head from side to side, hands on hips, pushing his lips out. When he got back in, he turned to her and smiled. It wasn’t the dazzling, charmer. It wasn’t the guilty half-smile. It wasn’t the I-wanna-fuck-you or I-wanna-fuck-you-over smile. It was humble, grateful almost. Like he might actually be a normal human being. And that probably meant trouble.
“Scully, I…I’m not good at this stuff. I blow hot and cold. I never know when to open up and when to shut up. I’m kind of an all or nothing guy. I hope you know that by now. I don’t want to hurt you. I think you’re an amazing person, I want you by my side as my partner, that I know without doubt. As for anything else, I can’t make promises. My work is everything.”
His thigh was solid under her touch, his muscle flexing. “I appreciate your honesty, Mulder. I guess I’m just really surprised at my own behaviour. I’ve never been like this.”
“Like what?” he said, his voice thick and warm and inviting.
She chuffed. “I don’t know what the right word is. I guess I feel disconnected to the person I used to be.”
“To the person who dated Ethan? The person who thought she could have a life?”
Her head flopped back against the seat rest. “Who is that person? Was I ever that person? Do I want to be that person? It seems so unattainable, so…”
“Unlikely?” he offered.
Turning to face him, she felt tears pricking at her eyes. “Maybe.”
“What do you want, Scully? What do you really want?” He took her hand in his and massaged her fingers.
She sucked in the emotion, steadied herself. “I want to do good work. I want to expose the truth. I want that life now. Wherever it takes us. Whatever happens.”
He leant forward and kissed her. “Then we want the same thing.”