She wakes early — the sky outside his window is barely lighter than the humid, musky darkness inside — and her first semi-conscious thought is don’t move, don’t wake him.
She needs a minute to herself before she has to deal with whatever’s about to happen.
Images from last night flood her brain: him clutching her as he sat in his desk chair, weeping and lost, abruptly and painfully an orphan; her moving off her knees once his tears had stopped and him pulling her close in a different way that was at once shocking and completely expected; his mouth on hers, his hands everywhere, his erection pressing hot and hard against her — and her immediate response in kind, the feeling of being so blazingly alive, so raw and vital, of sudden, animal heat rising to match his; the frenzied unbuttoning, tearing, yanking-off of clothes; his teeth scraping at her nipples through the lace of her bra; his fingers sunk deep inside her before her underwear is all the way off.
Oh shit, she thinks, forehead resting against the bare skin of his back, inhaling his scent, her traitorous body anticipating more — when she’s reasonably certain he’ll never be able to look her in the eye again.
She had come so fast, so hard that first time — pressed up against the wall, legs around his waist, his tongue rough against her breast, the heel of his hand crushing her clit, her voice unrecognizable to her own ears. They hadn’t even made it to the bed after that — he’d swung her around, a dizzying half-turn, and almost fallen to the floor with her in his arms. She was wet, dripping, aching with need; he’d pushed inside her in one stroke, so deep that it took her breath. She’d gasped, almost a scream, and it was the one time he’d hesitated — just long enough for her to manage “ohfuckmore pleaseMulder” — before he withdrew and plunged back in with all his might, again and again until he shuddered and bellowed with his release.
They’d both lain there, panting, stunned, shaken to the core, his weight on top of her the only thing holding her to the earth.
There was a moment then — a brief stoppage of time when the universe, blown apart, tried to reassemble itself — in which things could have gone any of several different ways. She didn’t want to think, didn’t want him to think — didn’t want to separate awkwardly, go about picking up strewn clothing and making apologies. So she didn’t.
Instead she tightened her inner muscles on him, licked at the fine beads of sweat at his jaw, scraped a fingernail down his spine. His guttural moan vibrated through both of them; she felt his cock twitch inside her, and flexed again.
“Scully,” he groaned, reluctantly pulling out at last. He propped himself up on his elbows and kissed her again, slow and hot and deep but not softly — as if he would consume her. His hands tangled in her hair and his thumbs traced her ear, her jaw, the vulnerable tendons at the back of her neck.
He whispered something against her lips, something she couldn’t make out. “Huh?” she breathed, rubbing her cheek against his, reveling in the scrape of his stubble. He lifted his head slightly away from her.
“I want — I need —”
With a mighty effort her lids fluttered open, and she found the whole world narrowed to just this, just him, the darkness fallen in the green-gold forest of his eyes.
“Yes,” she said.
“Yes,” she said again, meaning anything, everything, all of me. He sat up, pulling her into his lap with her back against his chest. She felt like a rag doll, pliant in his hands. His warmth surrounded her, their sweat-slicked skin slid together, she could almost hear the thump of his heartbeat in sync with her own.
He reached blindly on the floor around them, located something, then brought his hand back between her legs to clean her up, gently, with his T-shirt. She let him, impossibly languid and not the least bit embarrassed. She was his tonight, completely.
He spoke into her ear, so low it was almost a whisper, “Bed. Now.”
She nodded, although it wasn’t really a question and she’d already answered: Yes.
He’d half-carried her to the bed, pulled back the comforter, laid her down — and then had stilled. He studied her naked body in the striped moonlight with fevered reverence, a level of scrutiny and worship she would absolutely have shrunk from under other circumstances but felt no inclination to avoid now. She felt the same expression on her own face as she looked upon him, a true believer at last encountering the divine.
After a long moment, he moved again; it was startling, as if she’d witnessed a Bernini sculpture come alive.
He knelt above her and stroked her all over, with a barely-there touch that made her writhe with desire. His eyes rarely met hers, but when they did it was disquieting — as if he was haunted, lost still, searching for his way. She burned to be the answer to his questions, but he couldn’t ask them; instead she did the only thing she could, the thing she always did: She followed him down, not caring what they left behind.
After what seemed like hours of his roaming hands, lips, tongue — a secret underworld created of just their mingled moans and sighs — he at settled at last between her legs, putting his mouth where she’d been begging him to. It was worth every second of the wait, every whispered plea, every frustrated whimper of need. He worked so carefully, so deliberately, taking an eternity and she never wanted it to stop. But she was so engorged, so close for so long, that she thought she might be past the possibility of orgasm — until —
oh, Oh, there it was —
a massive, almost frighteningly strong wave breaking inside her and carrying her under, unfurling all the way down the shores of her body and back out to sea. He stayed where he was, cradling her, riding out the waves as they subsided.
Tears burned behind her closed eyelids; one escaped and she swiped at it with trembling fingers before he could see. He wouldn’t understand, not right now — it wasn’t sadness or regret; just the intensity, the beautiful relief.
He moved up the bed toward her, the length of his body dwarfing hers. He slipped one arm under her neck so that her head rested against his shoulder; turned her on her side and fit himself behind her with his other arm holding her in place. She could feel him hard again, against her backside, and a tremor went through her. She hooked her leg up over his, offering what she knew he wanted; he immediately molded his body to hers, angling his hips so that he could slide into her from behind. She moved with him, slow and languorous at first, but soon pushing back against him as he sped up, crying out as he printed his frustration on her shoulder with his teeth — he couldn’t get deep enough this way and ohjesus she wanted him deeper too.
She rolled the rest of the way over, onto her stomach, and pushed up onto her hands and knees, taking his weight with her. His growl went all the way to her bones; she shivered as he positioned himself for better leverage, braced on one hand with the other roughly cupping her breasts, and started to move again. He was so much bigger than she was, he covered her entirely; she was not in charge here, and yet she felt powerful — pushing away and back into him, meeting every thrust as hard as she could, her swollen sex and overtaxed nerves protesting it was almost too much, too much, until at last he had to let go of her breasts and grab the headboard as he came, crashing into her, pulsing inside her, filling her. He stayed draped over her, nearly sobbing against her neck, the sound in counterpoint to her raw-throated gasps as she drifted back to herself. They collapsed together, her back still to him, his face buried in her hair as he whispered her name — broken but maybe not, at least now, irreparably.
She knew she should get up, go to the bathroom; she was thirsty too, wanted a drink of water. But she couldn’t leave him, not at this moment. So as he dropped off to sleep, so did she, and her last semi-conscious thought was something like protect you.
Now, an unknown amount of time later, she lies there wishing he could sleep longer, sleep all day, get some fucking rest for a change — and never begin the reckoning she knows they’ll have to have.
Then — one moment, he’s there, warm and trusting in her arms; the next, his entire body stiffens. He’s awake. He remembers.
As neutrally as she can with her heart breaking a little, she tells him, “Mulder. It’s OK. It’s just me.”
His head dips forward; she can’t see the grimace of pain she’s sure is on his face.
“I know,” he manages finally, in a voice thick with remorse. “I’m so sorry.”
His first impulse is to apologize? There’s a spark of hope in that, as far as she’s concerned. She knows his guilt like she knows the Hail Mary; it’s a Rosary whose beads she can tell without prompting.
“Sorry for what?” she asks, sans any kind of contrition herself.
He groans, covering his face with his hand. “All of it, everything, last night. I had … no. right. to do any of that, to — drag you into —”
“Nobody dragged me into anything, Mulder.” She knows she has one shot, one chance at getting ahead of this, or at least staying even.
“Oh, Scully,” he says, and it’s almost a sob. His body tries to curl away from her, but she holds on. “You say that now but — I demanded, I practically forced you — and you just, you give me whatever I want and it’s not fair —I just take and take and take —”
“You accepted what I freely offered.” Her voice is clear, firm, brooks no nonsense.
“Don’t — don’t revise history, you can’t let me off the hook like that, I won’t —”
“Mulder. Look at me.” This, at last, is an order. She sits up, pulls the sheet around herself, tugs briskly at his shoulder. He moves at last, self-loathing evident in his posture long before she can ever see his eyes.
“How long have you been awake, thinking of how to manage me?” He always has been at his most cutting when he’s condemned himself first.
“Nothing needs to be managed, least of all you,” she replies acidly. She touches his knee, careful not to react to the way he flinches. “I was there. I wanted the same thing you did. You didn’t coerce me or trick me; there were no pretenses, and no promises made.” He makes as if to interrupt her; she continues as if he hasn’t. “Denying that just means you think I have no agency or will of my own.” He sits, absorbing this.
She takes a breath, softening her tone but not backing down. “It doesn’t have to change things between us.”
His eyes are closed, his lips pressed together and brow furrowed. She waits.
Finally: “What if I want it to. What if it did, but not the way I meant?”
He meets her eyes again, tormented and regretful.
“I’m not following you,” she says with a shake of her head.
“I mean … ahhh, Jesus, Scully — is that how you thought our first time would be? We didn’t even — we fucked on the floor!” He runs his hands roughly through his hair, spiking it every direction, agitated and not quite able to look at her. She blinks, surprised he’s acknowledging out loud the anticipation of their having a first time — they’re both such masters at avoiding talking about this. Despite the crudity of his words, the small flicker of hope inside her grows a little brighter.
“No, it’s not the way I thought our first time would be,” she says evenly. “But I don’t regret it, and I don’t regret that it happened this way.”
The light of curiosity shining through his misery is enough for her to go on. She speaks slowly, feeling her way as she goes, making sure she’s telling the truth; they’ll both know if she lies. She starts with the most obvious fact.
“We’ve been heading in this direction forever — the potential was already there.”
He nods, his glance falling to her lips before lifting again to her eyes.
“And last night, in the middle of all this pain and death and grief — everything that’s terrible right now, every horror we’ve been through — we had each other. We’re alive, Mulder. We’ve been so afraid to cross the line, as if that would protect us, but — we got shoved — and then we jumped over it, together.”
He leans toward her at last, draping one arm tentatively around her back and resting his forehead on hers, taking one hand in his. The hitch in his chest tells her he’s on the verge of tears again, and suddenly she is too. But she doesn’t want that right now, not again. Hastily she kisses his cheek, then stands, letting her hand trail down from his hair to his shoulder in a gentle caress. She drapes the top sheet like a towel around herself; it had come completely untucked at some point, and there’s nothing else in sight for her to put on.
“I’ve gotta go clean up, OK, Mulder? I’ll be right back. Get dressed, we’ll get some coffee or something.” He looks like he wants to protest, but decides not to, instead giving her a slightly forlorn smile and turning to let her go into the bathroom.
When she comes out, with finger-combed hair and slightly fresher breath, she finds her clothes on the bed, neatly folded; she dresses, surprised to find all the buttons on her shirt still there, then pads into the living room to look for him. He’s found a clean t-shirt and jeans, and stands drinking a glass of water in the kitchen, waiting on the coffee to brew. They trade places, careful of each other and slightly wary, but much less awkward than she’d imagined.
This might be OK. It might …
A knock from the hallway stops that thought. She goes immediately into partnership mode; she may not be able to keep him safe or even sane, but whoever is at that door, Scully will stand between them and Mulder. He is hers, and she’ll protect him, whether he feels worthy of it or not.