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Under the light of a full moon, she lures him, silkie-slick, into the surf, the water black like the scrap of bikini clinging to her body by strings.

It isn’t the conservative number she wore this afternoon, shaded beneath a big sunhat and a bigger umbrella, still pinking in the bright sun despite her SPF 85. This little slip of a suit is something he’s never seen before, something he didn’t even know she owned, much less packed for their long weekend on the Vineyard. It makes his mouth dry and his palms sweat. It makes him helpless to follow her ankle-deep, knee-deep, hip-deep, until the water crests at his chest and she clings to his shoulders, too tiny to touch the bottom. He holds her around the waist, pulls her flush to his body in the cool Atlantic.

“Have you ever heard,” she murmurs, her voice as gentle as the waves, “of cryptochromes?”

Her fingers tickle lightly at the back of his neck and he shivers, adjusting her closer.

“Of what?”

She smiles against his lips as she bestows a soft kiss, a reward for his ignorance. He loves this about her, how much she enjoys being the one to play teacher. He loves the firm squeeze of her thighs as they rise to greet his hips almost as much.

She repeats it into his mouth—cryptochromes—and the word tastes sweet and ripe, like some exotic fruit plucked just for him.

“They’re a flavoprotein.” She kisses his chin, the curve of his jaw. “They’re sensitive to blue light. They predate the evolution of eyes.”

“Okay,” he says, or tries to say, the word lost in a gasp as she pulls the salt from his neck with her teeth.

“Corals spawn during full moons,” she says, tracing his earlobe with the tip of her tongue, “because their cryptochromes sense the light. It triggers something in their—mm—their circadian rhythms. Their body-clocks.”

He works the hand he’s slipped into the back of her bikini bottoms lower, over the firm curve of her ass.

“Body-clocks,” he echoes. “Yeah.”

A wave buffets them, lapping at their shoulders, and she wriggles against him, against his hand, against the firm ridge of his cock in his swim shorts. He can feel the points of her nipples making friends with his chest through her tiny, unlined top. He slides his hand lower.

“Mulder,” she gasps when his fingertips find a new wetness, viscous and hot.

He works two fingers into the tight clutch of her and grinds his hips against her clit until her head tips back, the ends of her short hair disappearing into the water. Then he bends to kiss the smooth column of her throat, to take it carefully between his teeth, to make her moan a breathless siren’s call.

“It’s a full moon tonight,” he says, following one of the nylon straps that stretches across her collarbone with his tongue. “Is the coral spawning?”

Her small hand disappears between them and he nearly loses his grip on her when it shoves his shorts down just enough to free him into the open water. She rubs the head of his cock against herself through her thin, slick bottoms until they both groan.

“Hmm, probably,” she says when he’s almost forgotten the question. “It isn’t just coral, though.”

“It isn’t?”

The hollow behind her ear tastes like day-old Coppertone and sweat. He sucks hard enough to leave a mark, a bruise that will purple as the rest of her skin freckles and browns.

She shakes her head, and a wet strand of hair clings to her cheek. He nuzzles it away with his nose.

“Humans have cryptochromes, too,” she says, her voice low and tidal.

The hand on his cock disappears for a moment, and he is bereft despite the electric current zinging along his spine just from hearing her strawberry lips murmur science to him beneath the open sky. But then he feels her fingers between her legs, feels them brushing his, still buried in her. She tugs her bikini bottoms to the side, and he gets the idea, retreating with his hand so he can plunge forward with his hips.

It is like coming home and being shipwrecked, every single time.

“Do they—ohh—” he moans when she clenches around him. “—do they trigger spuh…spawning in humans, too?”

The moment the words pass his lips, he wants to snatch them back, spawning too evocative of all the things they cannot have, cannot do. But in his arms, she is unbothered, rising and falling on him with the flex of her thighs, the rhythm of the tides.

There is something primal in her tonight, he thinks, something untamed. He tangles a hand in her wet hair and pulls her mouth to his, grunting when she bites hard on his bottom lip and thrusts her tongue past the sting.

“Scully—”

“More,” she urges, panting against his mouth. “Please.”

He pulls down the triangles of her top, baring her breasts to the moon, to the coral, to his own hungry eyes. Her nipples are wine-dark raspberries, puckered so tight they must ache. He plucks one between his thumb and forefinger and she shudders, mewls.

“Yes,” she says, “Mulder, yes.”

He kisses her again, rough. His body rocks against hers with hurricane force, the chill in the water the only thing holding him back from the edge. He squeezes harder at her breast and tugs at her lips with his teeth and is surprised when he feels that first flutter around him. It usually takes longer, and more, but with one last thrust, she bursts, clawing at his shoulders and crying his name, and the hot, vice-like spasms of her cunt pull him down with her until they are both breathless and shaking and dizzy, maybe still feet from shore, maybe swept out to sea.

She squeezes him tight with her trembling legs, keeping him locked inside her even as he softens. Her swollen lips brush his once, twice, before receding like the tide. She rests her cheek against his shoulder and wraps her arms around his neck.

“Scientists hypothesize we share a significant amount of DNA with coral,” she murmurs.

They sway with the ocean, and he scratches her back lightly the way she likes.

“Was that the cryptochromes, then?” he says.

She kisses his jugular, and he feels the barest hint of her smooth white teeth.

“Mmm. Or something.”

They stay in the water until he shrinks from her entirely, and then he carries her to shore, her small, limp body brined head to foot in salt and sweat and life.