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prologue






HANDBOOK FOR ON AND OFF-DUTY AGENT CONDUCT 

 

The following handbook summarizes the principal laws and regulations governing the conduct of Federal Bureau of Investigation agents. The purpose of this handbook is to increase agent awareness of the fraternization rules and their applications.  We suggest that agents consult the full text of the law or regulation for additional information.

An agent shall not engage in criminal, dishonest, immoral or disgraceful conduct, or other conduct prejudicial to the government. This includes time spent off-duty, as such behavior may reflect poorly upon the institution.

Generally, agents should be mindful of their responsibilities to make an honest effort to use government time for official business only, and to protect and conserve government property. Agents should not share rooms, beds, clothing, or consort in a manner that distracts from their duties.

As government employees, agents are generally authorized to make minimal personal use of that time where the cost to the government is negligible and where it does not interfere with official business. 

However, this limited personal use is a privilege, not a right.












i. check-in




Scully knew the rules and regulations held by most FBI agents didn’t necessarily apply to her and Mulder. They’d crossed several of those boundaries during their very first case together. It may have simply been the nature of their work, or perhaps even something more: something special the two of them shared that defied explanation. But the comfort and trust they’d experienced together that very first night was something she continued to hold close to her heart. She clung to it; remembered it on the nights they were separated, the nights where there was a wall between them: of the metaphorical kind as well as the physical.

Working on the X-Files had practically forced them to get close; be it shoulder to shoulder in some underground mutant’s lair, or backing each other up in front of powerful people in the bureau. Close in mind; in the way they volleyed and wrestled each others’ theories to the ground, one after the other. 

But it also meant getting close in spaces where the work was no longer present.

“You smell like the drunk tank,” Scully chastised him as they left the diner. Mulder was covered in sweat and grime and the thick August humidity wasn’t helping matters.

He ducked into the passenger seat of her rented sedan and closed the door with an apologetic grimace. “Sorry.”

She started the engine, then made a face. “No, Mulder, I’m sorry. I cannot drive us back to D.C. with you in the next seat smelling like that.”

Mulder glanced at his watch. “I’ve got an hour left before I have to check out of my hotel. Why don’t you take me there first so I can de-smellify?” He gave her a lopsided grin and ever so briefly something popped into her head that her friend had put out into the universe yesterday.

You said he was cute.

She had indeed said that, after Ellen had given her a thorough grilling. Most of Scully’s friends had taken the road more traveled: husbands, kids, remarkable houses. She wanted that too, perhaps someday, although she still wasn’t quite sure whether it was a desire that came from within or without.

Mulder wasn’t exactly the type of guy she could picture herself marrying. Besides the fact that mixing personal with professional was something she’d been actively avoiding since her past failed relationships, Mulder was far too focused on the X-Files to give any woman the time of day, much less Scully. In any event, he seemed to treat her like one of his buddies, not necessarily like a woman, and for the first time in her life she actually appreciated that. It was difficult enough making her way in a man’s world; the FBI was another beast entirely. 

A relationship with her partner? No . The idea had left her mind almost as quickly as it had entered it.

But. Still. He was cute. That thought might never leave her mind, even if she wanted it to.

When they arrived at the Galaxy Gateway hotel, Mulder stopped and turned to her a few feet away from room 756.

“Just a second,” he said, and knocked.

“Why are you knocking on your own door?” she asked him, confused. Suddenly the idea he might have company inside, perhaps even female company, struck her soundly. This was Atlantic City, after all, and surely there was no shortage of available women scouring the casino. Her stomach lurched. She identified the emotion instantly and didn’t like it. Why should she care if he’d entertained someone in his hotel room after hours? It was absolutely none of her business.

“The man who gave me the information last night was sleeping in an alleyway,” Mulder explained. “I wanted to investigate, so I gave him my spare room key so he could have a bed not made out of newspapers for the night.”

Scully felt an unexpected rush of emotion directed at her partner. This audacious display of compassion and generosity warmed her heart. She hadn’t known him long but one thing she was beginning to learn about Mulder was that, as self-absorbed as he could be, he could also be absolutely selfless in the most unusual of circumstances.

“That’s really kind of you, Mulder,” she said, liking him a little bit more than she had only a minute ago.

“Let’s just hope he didn’t raid the minibar.” Mulder pushed the door open and called out “Hello?” After a second, satisfied that the occupant had left, Mulder grinned at Scully and held the door open. “Looks like he must have gotten homesick for his tent.”

Mulder liked to break the rules, and she’d learned this about him almost instantly. In fact, she’d known it by his reputation before they’d met. She couldn’t deny that this aspect of his personality excited her, even titillated her. But the one boundary Scully insisted on adhering to was apparently difficult for Mulder to stay behind. Their own personal space while on assignment was their own personal space

She was beginning to realize Mulder had no concept of personal space whatsoever.

Scully felt a flush on her cheeks and looked down at the hallway rug, straightening her skirt. Regardless of what had occurred between them in Oregon, the idea of entering Mulder’s private space was somewhat daunting. “Actually, I think I’ll just go down and wait in the lobby.” She wondered why she’d even followed him up here at all. It had been automatic, like a donkey following a carrot dangling in front of its face.

“Don’t be ridiculous,” he said. “They don’t have HBO in the lobby.” He stood by the door expectantly, gesturing her inside, and although every muscle in her body felt like it was warring against this breach, she found her legs moving towards the door of their own accord, into his room. 

“Make yourself comfortable,” Mulder said as the door closed behind them. He picked up the remote, tossed it to her, and began removing his jacket. 

“HBO, huh?” she muttered, hoping there would be something on television to distract her from the awkward situation she worried this might quickly turn into. 

She had no idea how quickly that would actually happen. 

Pointing the remote at the TV, the screen came to life, revealing a naked couple writhing on the floor together, ubiquitous bow chicka bow wow music permeating the room. Scully barely had time to register what she was seeing before two heaving, sweaty, anti-gravity breasts came into view as the woman mounted her male companion, his enormous erection pointed directly at her.

“Oh,” Scully said, flustered, as she frantically attempted to change the channel. Of course, as most hotel remotes were, this one was infuriatingly complicated. She stole a glance at Mulder, who held his hands up in surrender.

“Don’t blame me,” he chuckled. “Looks like my nomadic compatriot was making good use of taxpayer money last night.”

Scully finally got the channel changed to When Harry Met Sally as Mulder made his way toward the bathroom. “I’ll only be a few minutes and then we can get back on the road,” he called over his shoulder. He threw his jacket on the bed, then loosened his tie, threw it on top. Kicked his shoes off. Began to untuck his shirt and unbuckle his belt, and just when Scully was convinced (and slightly terrified) he was prepared to strip down to his underwear in her presence, he turned and walked into the bathroom without another word, closing the door.

Relieved to be left alone, she began to wander around the room aimlessly. The drifter had left it fairly clean, hadn’t seemed to have abused the mini-bar, and even made the bed. She sat down across from the TV and watched Meg Ryan pretend to have an orgasm, then quickly switched the channel, afraid he might hear and misconstrue. 

Suddenly she heard the shower turn on and was wildly cognizant of the fact that Mulder, her partner, was naked in the next room. 

They’d only been working together for a short time, and while she was aware that he was clearly comfortable sharing her space, she wasn’t exactly sure how comfortable she was sharing his. This felt intimate, maybe too intimate. And perhaps she herself had been to blame for his presumption she would be comfortable with such an intimacy. She had, after all, dropped her robe in front of him their first night together.

She shook her head a bit in remembrance, brushing off the phantom-like feel of his fingertips as they softly pressed against the small of her back. She knew so little about him and yet, somehow, it felt like she’d known him her entire life, not for just a few short months. Thinking about that night always brought her comfort: the knowledge that having this person in her life was truly something unique and special. 

But she couldn’t deny thinking about that night also brought plenty of confusion.

She must have been lost in thought for some time, because the next thing she knew, the shower was turning off with a loud squeak. She listened as the curtain swept open, picturing in her mind its plastic rings scraping along the rod as the fabric pulled back to reveal Agent Mulder stepping out of the shower and into her vivid thoughts: steam encircling him, dripping wet. Naked.

She tried to shoo the image away but she couldn’t not think about it now. She was sitting on his bed, which she knew Mulder hadn’t actually slept in, but she still felt flustered. She shifted a bit. Was she sweating?

It wasn’t until the bathroom door swung open and Mulder emerged in only a towel that she realized she was in exactly the kind of trouble she’d so assiduously tried to avoid. All she could do was stare at him as he walked over to his duffel bag and began rooting around inside.

“So who’re we meeting with? Someone at bail bonds?” he cracked, his back turned to her. She enjoyed this, his easy humor, and a flush crept into her cheeks as she appreciated the fact that he had the ability to make her smile in spite of herself. 

“An old professor of mine at the University of Maryland,” she explained. “Dr. Diamond.”

“And… he’s an expert on the Jersey Devil?” Mulder asked in that excitedly hopeful voice she was beginning to really, really like.

“No,” she corrected, staring unabashedly at his back. Drops of water beaded along his trapezius, which she couldn’t help but follow all the way down his spine to its natural conclusion: the place where the gentle curve at the top of his backside was barely visible beneath white terry-cloth. She felt a rush of heat between her thighs as her heart rate suddenly picked up. “He’s an anthropology professor. He’s going to convince you this Jersey Devil doesn’t exist, since I can’t seem to.”

Mulder finally spun around, holding a pair of freshly located clean underwear in his hand from which she tried to avert her eyes. She awkwardly looked around the room, anywhere but at him, then realized he was talking to her, so she reluctantly dragged her eyes back to meet his.

“Anthropology, eh?” Mulder smirked. “Was that an elective, Doctor Scully?”

She completely ignored his quip, as she was having a considerable amount of trouble keeping her eyes on his face and not wandering all over his torso. She idly thought of Ellen and how she now regretted allowing the words “yeah, he’s cute” to escape her lips. Because as she sat here practically gaping at her partner’s near-naked body, imagining how his ass looked beneath that towel, she was aware of a new, alarming truth.

He wasn’t cute. Fox Mulder was, in fact, a stone-cold fox.

“Uh…” she stammered, her eyes raking over his chiseled abs and pectoral muscles. She couldn’t help it.

She found herself thinking about her date tonight, and how perfect and normal and… well, boring Rob was. He was kind, a good father, and obviously had time to take out of his busy work schedule to share with her. He seemed to be on the same page as she was when it came to the things she thought she wanted out of life. But had there been a spark there? Had they shared a moment? Had she felt the same heat, the same sudden urge to cross her legs when she’d shaken Rob’s hand?

Would she have dropped her robe in front of him in the dark in complete and absolute trust?

Mulder was self-absorbed, but measured in his compassion. He’d never expressed a desire to be a father and it seemed a safe assumption he never would. And as for his work? Well, Mulder never left the work in the office. There was nothing about him that was desirable in a lifelong partner, at least not on paper.

She felt a bit guilty evaluating him in this way when he wasn’t even supposed to be on her radar as a romantic partner. She was supposed to be his equal, his backup. But the fact that he was so comfortable practically naked in front of her gave her pause. He’d been so nonchalant when he came out of the bathroom. She began to rethink her earlier considerations: did he truly see her as one of the guys? Just another partner in a line of male partners that came before her?

And if so, why was it bothering her so much now, when moments before it had been a source of comfort?

“Earth to Scully,” Mulder was saying, startling her out of what had been very obvious ogling. “Come in, Scully.” She finally met his eyes, embarrassed. Had she been staring this entire time? 

“Yeah. Sorry.”

He held up a shirt he must have pulled from his bag, which was horribly wrinkled. “Which would you rather tolerate? The wrinkles or the smell?”

She glanced down at the bed at his discarded suit, reaching out to touch it. Lifting the sleeve of his shirt to her nose as she slightly leaned over, she expected to smell whiskey and biker sweat or some other drunk-tank-bouquet, but instead was greeted with the familiar, masculine scent of Mulder, just Mulder, that same scent she recognized all too well by now from being constantly stuck in close quarters with him. 

That same scent that stirred something inside of her she wasn’t prepared to deal with at the moment.

“This one,” she declared, holding up the shirt. “Seems the shower took care of the smell.”

He stepped forward to take the shirt from her hand, and she was suddenly painfully aware of how close she was to a living and breathing naked male specimen, something she hadn’t been in some time. He took the shirt and began to slip it on, remaining so close to her she could actually feel the heat radiating off his stomach. 

His glorious, toned, perfectly edible stomach.

Appetite for human flesh, indeed.

“Can I use your bathroom, please?” 

She didn’t know why she said it, but suspected her fight or flight response had acted up, propelling her into another room. Before he could even answer in the affirmative she was up and moving past him, into the bathroom, shutting the door behind her. 

For some reason, bits and pieces of her anthropology lessons back at the University of Maryland flooded the primal parts of her brain that were still mentally undressing her partner.

Wild men. Aggressively territorial. Orientated by selfish sexual and reproductive drives.

She shuddered. This wasn’t right, she couldn’t fall back into her old habits. Starting up romances with men she was professionally involved with was a thing of her past, the old Dana. Something Ellen would have expected. She was the new, responsible, independent FBI Dana now. She shouldn’t be fantasizing about her partner while he was half naked in the next room.

There was a gentle knock at the door. “Scully? You okay?”

“I’m… not feeling well, just a minute,” she said quickly. Just get dressed, please , was what she wanted to say, but she figured if she stayed in here long enough that particular problem would sort itself out. Now, she couldn’t help but turn her attention to her own problem, the unstoppable images in her mind that were making every last nerve ending in her body light up like a Christmas tree.

She stood in front of the steamed-up mirror and reached underneath her skirt, seeking the source of her frustration. As suspected, her inappropriate thoughts about her naked partner in his tiny little towel had soaked her underwear all the way through to her nylons.

She couldn’t drive back to D.C. like this. What if he smelled her? Would he identify her lust for what it was? Could she handle that humiliation this early in their partnership?

Someone or something out there is hungry, Mulder had said. He had no idea how right he would turn out to be.

Her thoughts turned to primal man-beasts and pure animal instinct. She could feel her heartbeat throbbing between her legs and she knew she would never, ever survive a three hour drive next to Mulder if she didn’t take care of her little problem right here and right now.

Scully kicked off her shoes and did away with the nylons quickly, stuffing them deep into the trash can. Hopefully Mulder wouldn’t notice their sudden absence but, she reasoned, it was too fucking hot out to be wearing them anyway. She tiptoed to the door, quietly locked it, and pressed her ear against it, listening for sounds that indicated Mulder was not privy to her activities. When she heard the channels changing on the television again, she was satisfied she had at least a few minutes before she aroused his suspicions.

Gripping the edge of the counter, she slid the well-practiced fingers of her other hand adeptly into her underwear, her middle finger immediately finding the bundle of nerves that so desperately craved attention, first rubbing softly, then flicking it back and forth. She had to make this quick. Her sensitive bud was slick with desire and she closed her eyes, trying to convince herself this was merely biology, just something she needed to do to function properly. Not completely inappropriate lusting after her co-worker.

Mulder’s face appeared impudently behind her closed eyelids, and she could see him stripped down before her: his eyes, his nose, his perfectly kissable lips. The body she’d only just been introduced to was fully visible to her in her imagination, and the idea she might never actually be allowed to touch it was surprisingly and incredibly painful. For some reason she felt entitled to it, as if they belonged to one another, even though they’d never acknowledged it.

She thought of him a couple of months ago, reaching out to straighten her necklace, certainly unintentionally but ever-so-slightly grazing her breast as he did so. 

It seems like you were acting very territorial.

Of course I was. 

They did belong to one another, somehow, in some way, and he knew it too. This knowledge turned her on even more.

She heard his voice in her mind as she touched herself, and where she would normally insert vague utterances of pleasure or encouragement, she instead found herself imagining him talking to her about the Jersey Devil, spouting some wild theory about carnivorous beast men or similar lore, his eyes sparkling with the excitement of discovery that she found absolutely thrilling. Then, completely unexpectedly, her finger became that tongue, those lips, that mouth that worked around sunflower seeds on a daily basis (lucky bastards) delving between her folds. Then, a pair of hazel eyes were watching her dutifully, a smile curving intimately against her. 

Her eyes flew open and she mentally chastised herself for making this fantasy far, far too personal.

She tried to redirect her focus to a more appropriate subject: Rob, the handsome divorcée who had given her the attention she was now realizing perhaps she wanted from her partner instead. Rob seemed nice enough. He had a steady job that seemed to get him home on time. He checked all the boxes she could ever need to check off her list. 

But right now, with her fingers shamelessly attacking her clit in the bathroom, she couldn’t help but compare him to Mulder. 

He’s a jerk.

He’s not a jerk.

He’s obsessed with his work.

She’d reacted defensively to Ellen’s questions, she now realized. Not once had she entertained the idea of simply replying “he’s not my type.” Because if her fluttering fingers and wandering imagination were any indication whatsoever, Fox Mulder was most definitely her type.

On the other side of the wall, she heard the TV turn off. She was officially on a clock, and it was ticking down fast. Rob and his plastic Ken doll haircut weren’t doing the trick. Alone in this bathroom, carried away with her darkest fantasy, she knew the truth. She wanted something else: she wanted weird, she wanted wild. 

She wanted Mulder.

Allowing her brain and her body to tell her what she needed, she once again shifted focus to her partner. And like clockwork, like magic, she could feel her orgasm beginning to build deep down inside. She widened her stance as much as she possibly could with her skirt hiked up around her waist, and felt her hips gyrating against the counter, creating additional friction against her pubic bone as she leaned forward. She couldn’t tell if the fog on the mirror was from Mulder’s shower or her own ragged breaths. 

Her mind leapt to a dozen conversations, the rhythmic timbres of their shared dialogues a functional aphrodisiac. Mulder’s theory. Her rebuttal. For the first time she saw it clearly for what it was: sex. Their own safe, private, ‘chaste’ version of sex.

“M...Mul…” she bit her lip hard to stop herself, wanting so desperately to utter his name but knowing somehow that would make this real; that would make it even more forbidden. She’d already crossed so many boundaries in body and mind in the past two minutes alone.

She was rapidly reaching the point of no return and hastily thrust her hand into her blouse to relieve the pressure of her painfully hard nipples, inadvertently popping a button off in the process. 

Her crest approached like a wild, predatory beast, stealth in the darkness, coming right for her. She welcomed it as she stared into the mirror at her reflection: eyes at half-mast, jaw slack, her traitorous panting echoing within her ears. As the beast sunk its teeth into her she threw her head back in ecstasy, imagining a primal scream she withheld out of societal duty. 

As she recovered she looked at herself once again in the mirror, straightening her hair, adjusting her blouse as best she could, shimmying her skirt back down. Her activities had wrinkled it atrociously and she prayed Mulder wasn’t the type to notice such a thing. 

She turned around to flush the toilet, congratulating herself on this tiny act of subterfuge. Washing her hands, she readied herself to face him in the flesh.

She turned the doorknob slowly and entered the bedroom to find Mulder sitting on the edge of his bed, reading a piece of paper in his hand. He looked up, registering her presence, and she was relieved to see he was fully dressed, although his shirt was still unbuttoned to a dangerous degree, swaths of coarse brown chest hair peeking out like forbidden invitations. 

She prayed to God he couldn’t tell what she’d been doing.

Demurely tucking a strand of hair behind her ear and clearing her throat, she adjusted her skirt a bit and walked, a little wobbly-legged, towards him, attempting to be as normal as possible.

“Everything okay?” he asked, and while it was definitely not ideal for Mulder to be asking after her prolonged bathroom habits, she found herself pleasantly surprised he cared at all.

“Everything is fine.”

More than fine, now.

He lifted an eyebrow. “So who’s the guy?”

“Guy?” She felt her face completely drain of color.

Oh, God. Had he heard her?

“Yeah, you said you have a date tonight? Lawyer? Stockbroker? Someone who always follows the rules, I’ll bet,” he winked. 

She exhaled slowly, relieved his question seemed to be an innocent one. But Mulder never asked her about her personal life unless it was a request to cancel it. This was unexpected. She found herself somewhat annoyed he seemed to be making fun of her.

“I… don’t really know much about him, actually,” she answered. “That’s kind of the point of a date, you know?”

“Well, I hope it goes well. I know how much you’d like to get a life.” His words came out a bit harshly, and it was the first time she realized what she’d said in the diner might have actually hurt his feelings.

“You don’t have any interest in having a life outside of the X-Files, Mulder? Honestly?”

He shrugged. “I like my life the way it is. Besides, I’ve tried. It doesn’t really work for me.”

She wondered what exactly had entailed ‘trying’ for Fox Mulder. Obviously he had needs, the same as she did. There was a reason for all the adult videos she found scattered around his office. But perhaps she knew less about him than she thought. What if he had been dating someone, even during the short time they’d been partners? She had no idea what he did with the time he spent outside her presence. 

She’d always appreciated the power she felt as Mulder’s partner, as his equal. She knew now, more than ever before, she didn’t want to be seen as one of the guys. The idea of him spending time with some other woman made her feel less powerful, not more. 

“Why not? Has no woman ever lived up to your high expectations?” she found herself asking.

He shifted uncomfortably, as if she’d stumbled upon a sensitive topic. Suddenly she felt like they were delving into territory in which she wasn’t welcome, even though he’d brought it up himself. 

“No,” he said. “It’s just hard to muster up the interest.”

“Really? No interest?”

He shook his head. “Not at this time.”

She paused. It was amazing how Mulder could be such an open book and such a mystery at the same time. “You don't ever just... feel like talking to someone?”

“I have you,” he shrugged, as if he were making the most obvious statement in the world. “I’d rather spend my time talking about primitive territorialism with you.”

Scully blinked, surprised. She was flattered and overcome at the same time by this new revelation. It wasn’t that Mulder saw her as merely a partner. It appeared that, to him, being his partner made her absolutely everything. 

“That’s nice of you to say, Mulder,” she finally replied a bit shyly, tucking another bit of hair behind her ear in a slightly self-conscious way. 

“It’s only the truth,” he said simply. His eyes darted down to her chest, and she saw his cheeks flush bright red. “You’re, uh… you’re a little…” he made a gesture at his chest level and she looked down, confused. 

The button that had popped off her shirt during her frenzied masturbatory session had evidently been an important one. Her breasts were practically spilling out of her blouse.

“Oh!” she reacted immediately, covering herself. “This shirt is… uh, old.” 

She pulled her jacket closed in front of her and buttoned it, dreading the ride back in the wretched heat. But from the pink hue on the tips of Mulder’s ears, she was now satisfied that however he behaved in the field, right here, right now in this motel room, he most definitely saw her as a woman.

They looked at each other for a moment, and as she felt the heat coursing between their bodies and minds somehow she knew that this thing between them, whatever it was, was far too complicated for this tiny room. Suddenly she couldn’t breathe and needed to get out.

“Ready to go?” she asked. 

He stood, grabbed his bag, and gestured for her to lead the way. As the door closed behind them she knew that what had happened needed to stay there until she figured out exactly what was going on. She only worried she’d most definitely be thinking about Mulder’s towel-clad body tonight while on her date.

She wiped her brow with the back of her hand, still a bit sweaty from her exertions in the bathroom. That had been close… too close for comfort.

As he passed her and walked a couple of steps ahead, her gaze drifted down to his ass, and she abruptly averted her eyes. 

Never again, she lied to herself. The rational part of her brain wouldn’t allow any other course. They weren’t in Las Vegas, but the rules still applied, and Scully always followed the rules.

What happened in Atlantic City stayed in Atlantic City.










Chapter Text

ii. wake up call 



If Mulder had gotten there thirty seconds later, Scully would have been beheaded. For once, timing seemed to be on his side, and instead of lying in the morgue, she was in her motel room lying down. The paramedic had said Scully was lucky she didn’t have a concussion and that she’d just need to take care of the small cut on her head. 

Lucky.

Would they have eaten her? Or was she tainted meat to them?

He let out a low breath as he roughly rubbed his hands over his face. Even though she was safe and in her room a few feet away from him, he still couldn’t stop thinking about how close he’d been to losing her tonight. So close to losing her again

By the time they’d gotten back to the motel it was well past midnight. Sleep usually evaded him, but tonight he knew he didn’t have a chance in hell. Every time he so much as closed his eyes he could see her bucking wildly against her restraints while an axe glinted above her head in the firelight, her screams muffled by the gag in her mouth while her fingers scratched desperately at her bindings. Her eyes had been wild and frantic like a caged animal until she met his gaze, but even then he could tell she was shaken. Not that she’d tell him as much.

After he’d freed her hands she retreated back into herself. She was responsive when the officers came to take their statements and when the paramedic checked her out, but when it came to him trying to check in with her, she’d hidden how she was truly feeling behind a myriad of failed comforting grins and empty reassurances of “I’m fine.”

As much as he wished that were true, he couldn’t imagine anyone walking away from something like that unscathed. Since she wasn’t forthcoming, all he could do was trust her and hope she was as fine as she wanted him to believe she was, or at least, that eventually she would be. Aside from the late hour, all the noises coming from the other side of the thin wall sounded like her usual nightly routine, something he’d become accustomed to hearing during their cases together.

A few gentle knocks broke that normalcy and his startled gaze darted to the adjoining door. 

“Scully?” he called out, swinging his legs over the side of the bed.

“Yeah, it’s me,” she replied from the other side of the wood. Her voice sounded strained to him and he was pulling the door open before he registered that she’d said anything at all. 

Mulder’s eyes initially met the crown of her head before dropping down a few inches, forgetting how short she was without her heels. Her hair was wet from her shower, her crimson tresses muted and leaving what looked like tear tracks on her silky pajamas as water dripped off the ends. She was playing with her nails and, aside from an initial fleeting glance to his face, she was either staring at his chest or the floor. “Can I come in?” she asked before clearing her throat.

“Of course,” he nodded, stepping aside and motioning in towards the lamp-lit room. 

He closed the door behind her and watched as she looked around the room with unabashed curiosity. “You weren’t sleeping, were you?” she asked. 

“N-no,” he stammered, using his foot to kick a pair of boxers under the bed before she could see them. “I was just watching TV.”

Scully turned her head and watched the Potty Putter infomercial play out on screen. Turning back to him, a small smile played on her lips as she teased, “Riveting stuff.”

“It’s always slim pickings after three,” he chuckled, rubbing his hand over the back of his neck before scratching his chest through his T-shirt. Scully let out a little ‘ah’ sound before turning back to the man trying to golf on the toilet.

He felt a little awkward in spite of himself. Scully hadn’t even said why she’d come to his room, yet it felt oddly momentous. She’d been through so many traumas this past year and she’d never once turned to him. It didn’t matter to him if he was her only option at three in the morning in the middle of nowhere, he wanted to make her feel better if he could.

“You can sit anywhere you want,” he offered, easing himself onto the bed to sit cross legged. 

Scully looked like she was going to choose a chair in the corner of the room, but ultimately decided on crawling onto the bed next to him and reclining with her back against the headboard, her knees drawn up to her chest. Being this close to her, he could smell her lavender shampoo permeating the air around them and the small intimacy almost brought a smile to his face.

He couldn’t remember the last time he’d been this nervous about having a woman in his bed.

“Is it insomnia?” she asked out of the blue, her gaze mindlessly resting on the television set.

“Hm?” he prompted, turning to her.

She didn’t turn to meet his gaze as she clarified, “Do you have insomnia? Is that why you never sleep?” 

“I sleep,” he replied automatically before adding, “-sometimes.”

“I can hear you through the walls. I don’t think I’ve ever heard you sleeping,” she challenged.

He wondered idly if that meant perhaps she found it hard to sleep sometimes, too. “Do I keep you up? I’m sor-”

“No,” she interrupted. “It’s comforting.”

He smiled lightly at her reply, but she still wasn’t looking at him. “I’ve never been diagnosed, but I probably do. I just... can never turn off my mind enough to sleep,” he replied honestly.

He didn’t really believe she’d come in here to talk about his sleeping habits, but he was curious if her asking had anything to do with herself. “How come you’re not sleeping?” he asked, trying to make sure his tone was light so she didn’t take it the wrong way. “Not that I’m complaining about the company,” he added as an afterthought.

She offered him a weak smile before returning her gaze to her lap. “I-I don’t feel good,” she sighed, pressing her hand to her forehead.

“Is it your concussion? Do you think we need to go to the hospital?” he asked, sitting up straighter.

“No,” she interjected, placing a hand on his forearm to stop him. He settled back in the bed and she put her hand back in her lap, starting to play with the hem of her pajama shorts. “I’m not injured. It’s just been a long day.” 

“Wanna talk about it?” he offered.

“I’m fine, Mulder,” he predicted her saying. He was so used to the answer that he could hear it vividly in his mind as if she’d spoken the words out loud.

But the words didn’t come. Instead, she took a deep breath and grabbed a pillow to place on her lap, hugging it to her chest lightly. He felt himself subconsciously mirroring her body posture, showing his willingness to listen - an old Oxford trick manifesting itself. 

“I can’t shake this feeling,” she admitted. “No matter how hard I try, I just feel so bogged down.”

“Near death experiences can-” he began, but was interrupted by her shaking her head.

“It’s not that. Which, now that I say it out loud, sounds ridiculous,” she explained with a huff of mirthless laughter. Then, almost to herself, she added, “I was almost beheaded and it’s not even what’s bothering me most.” 

“What is bothering you most?” Mulder prompted softly.

Scully pursed her lips tightly and moved her attention down to the bed spread. “I woke up in a trunk,” she began. “I couldn’t see anything. I just felt the gag in my mouth and that my wrists were bound.”

He felt his stomach churn when he started to connect the dots. He’d been so concerned about what he’d seen in the field tonight that he didn’t even think of it in the context of her other traumas. “Did you have a flashback?” he asked.

She took a deep breath and shook her head. “Not really. There was just... a moment, um,  when I woke up. I was a little disoriented and confused and I had this overwhelming fear that I was back there,” she explained slowly, as if not wanting to admit it to herself, let alone him.

“In Duane Barry’s trunk?” he asked, making sure he was on the same page. The fact she was even talking to him about this felt surreal, like this moment was only brought upon him by the precise mix of adrenaline, middle of the night anxiety, and the comfort that anything she said would be left in this random motel room.

“Yeah,” she nodded, a few drops of water from her hair falling onto the pillow. “But then I realized, it wasn’t. It was just another person abducting me, shoving me in their trunk to transport me to god-knows-where to do who-knows-what.”

“Oh, Scully,” he murmured.

He felt an overwhelming urge to comfort her - to throw his arm around her and pull her to him. But he didn’t want to make her uncomfortable or, even worse, make her retreat back into herself. He knew he didn’t want to just stay still and not offer her any kind gesture, so biting back his nerves, he placed a hand on her back so he could rub circles against the fabric of her nightshirt. He was a little taken aback by how damp her shirt was and how much it was clinging to her skin.

She didn’t say anything in response and just stared straight ahead, her face reflecting an array of colors as the television played. “You said you couldn’t shake ‘this feeling’,” he stated softly. “Are you scared?”

“No,” she mumbled, her lips barely opening. “No, not scared. I feel-” she paused, searching for the right word, “-defeated.”

His brows furrowed and he felt himself frown. “Defeated?” he repeated, the word bitter on his tongue. Scully was one of the most resilient people he’d ever met. To hear something like that come out of her mouth made his heart ache.

“I hate not knowing what’s happened to me. I mean, I was gone for two months and my admission records did nothing to fill in the blank. Two months and I can’t remember a single thing. My muscles weren’t atrophied, so I had to have been doing something ,” she explained, her admission tumbling from her lips despite her apparent discomfort.

Taking a shaky breath she continued, “When Pfaster took me, I can’t remember certain parts of it. I can’t remember anything from the time I was run off the road to when I woke up in his closet. And now... I remember being in the Kearns’ house, then I was in a trunk.” As she explained herself he saw her eyes moving back and forth, as if scanning the files she’d no doubt memorized and trying to create an image to fill in the gaps of her memory. 

“It bothers me that I don’t know. It makes me uncomfortable that I’ve been taken so many times and these men had complete control of me and my body, to use me however they wanted,” she explained, her voice hitching on the last word. She bit her lip to suppress the burgeoning emotions as she shut her eyes. Her shoulders curved inwards as she rested her chin on the pillow in her arms, as if she was caving in on herself.

The hollow despondency in her words chilled him to the bone and he found himself unable to shake his growing discomfort. “You don’t think you were...” he trailed off anxiously, unable to say the word. He’d spent so much time looking over her statements that to think she’d leave out something so traumatic made his stomach churn.

“No,” she stated firmly. She looked uncomfortable to even be having this conversation, but she continued regardless. “But they could have done anything they wanted and that’s what I hate.” 

Mulder took his hand away from her back and tucked a strand of wet hair behind her ear, letting him see her profile better. “I’m sorry,” he murmured softly, trying to make her feel better, but not knowing what to say. “I wish I could take your pain away.”

A sad smirk graced her lips and she nodded softly. “I know you do,” she whispered. 

He noticed she started anxiously twisting and rubbing the red skin of her wrists as she opened up to him, and her roughness with herself bothered him. Tentatively, so as not to scare her, he took her hands and rested them on his legs - rubbing the abused skin tenderly with his fingers. He wasn’t a doctor, and he was pretty sure this brought himself more comfort than it did her, but she smiled again at the gesture and he was grateful she was letting him.

Unsure of where to look, his eyes landed on her hands in his and he was blown away by how comparatively small they were. He felt like Lennie in Of Mice and Men holding something precious in his big clumsy hands, worried one move would hurt her. He was tracing over the red, bruised skin as delicately as he could, pleased when he could feel her pulse was steady and strong underneath his fingertips. He didn’t want to make her nervous.

“Is this a feeling you often have? Or was it mostly sparked by what happened tonight?” he murmured, using his thumb to trace a blue vein on her wrist.

She swallowed thickly, taking her wrists back and putting them in her lap, but not grabbing at them anymore. “I still think about them all the time. That’s what I hate more than anything. They all took time away from me, my sense of safety, and I feel like I keep letting them take more because I can’t stop thinking about them,” she punctuated the sentence with a sharp inhale, but she still hadn’t shed a tear. Her body was tense and closed off, despite this being the most she’d ever confided in him, and he was worried she was only confessing because she’d reached her breaking point.

Not too long ago, he’d accidentally said something while trying to comfort her that stepped too out-of-bounds and she sternly told him never to psychoanalyze her again. He hadn’t meant to, but it could sometimes be hard to shut off. Now, he felt like he was at an odd impasse. He was afraid if he told her that her reactions were totally normal and she shouldn’t feel any shame, that she’d take it as him profiling her and regret opening up to him in the first place. But it was all he could think of to say. People didn’t usually turn to him when they needed comforting - it was his job to be the mess. But he didn’t want to make her regret coming into his room; he didn’t want her to wake up tomorrow and feel embarrassed for opening up to him.

“After Samantha was taken-” he began, trying to find the words to express something he’d never confessed aloud. “I know it’s not the same, but I couldn’t do anything that reminded me of her abduction without having a moment of panic. Playing board games made me uncomfortable, the initial flash of lightning struck fear in me, the sound of a child screaming at a park made my knees weak, hell, the one time I experienced an earthquake I had a full blown panic attack,” he explained with chagrin. 

“What about now?” she asked, turning to face him as her eyes shone with curiosity.

“It depends. If it’s broaching the anniversary of her disappearance, I find myself being reminded more and more, but over time it’s diminished. What would have sent me into a tailspin decades ago is now just a passing thought. Sometimes a lightning storm will pass and I won’t realize until later that I didn’t have a flashback to that night, or I’ll play a boardgame with the gunmen and actually have fun instead of feeling shame and guilt,” he replied before shrugging. “It’s impossible to predict trauma, but it gets more manageable over time.”

Mulder watched as Scully took in what he said, nodding lightly to herself as she chewed on her lip. “For me, the biggest thing that sets me off is being in a bathtub,” she replied softly. 

“That’s what triggers you?” he coaxed gently. She made a little sound of affirmation and nodded her head and he continued. “It reminds you of Pfaster?”

“I just-” she started before letting out a low breath to compose herself. “Why did it have to be that?” she asked, almost to herself.

Mulder waited for her to elaborate, but she didn’t. “What do you mean?”

“I used to love relaxing while taking a bath, and now it just makes me think of him,” she explained with so much malice it made his hair stand on end. “Even tonight, all I wanted to do was get clean. I wanted to get the smoke out of my hair and the dirt off my skin, but as soon as I turned on the water… I thought of him. When I try to wash my hair I just think of him asking if my hair was normal or dry, and suddenly my hands are his and I have a moment of panic.” 

She started rubbing at her cheek, only stopping when he put his hands on hers to still her. She let her hands fall and he could see what she’d been idly picking at: residue from the duct tape that had been placed over her mouth. He’d tried his hardest to pull it away from her as gently as possible, but he’d been so desperate to hear she was okay that maybe he hadn’t been as gentle as he thought. He let his hand stay there as he rubbed the residue lightly with his thumb, watching it roll into tiny clumps on her cheek before falling to the mattress.

She sighed, “I know how stupid that sounds. ” 

He returned his hands to his lap and shook his head. “It’s not stupid at all.” 

“And-” she began before stopping herself, wiping her cheek quickly to hide the tear he saw fall down.

“What?” he prompted.

“Sometimes I wonder if, while he was carrying me to the car and into the closet, if he stroked my hair or played with my nails while thinking of what trophies he was going to take from me,” she replied. 

He felt a wave of uneasiness wash over him. It was an uncomfortable image, but it was one he’d thought of himself when she was gone. “Is that why you’ve been keeping your nails short?” he asked, glancing at her bare nails. For as long as he’d known her, Scully always had perfectly manicured nails, sometimes even coordinated to complement her outfit, but as of late they were always unpainted and all the white edges were cut down. 

She nodded and examined her upturned fingertips for a moment. “From time to time, I think about it when I look in the mirror. I feel like I’m not even looking at myself. I’m just looking at the bad things that have happened to me.” 

“You’re so much more than that,” he replied instantly, watching as she subconsciously scratched the back of her neck where a little pink scar resided.

The movement caused him to notice something he’d been brushing off before. She wasn’t just wet from her shower, she was absolutely soaked. That’s why her hair was dripping so much, why her pajamas were clinging to her like that, and why the smell of shampoo was so strong. Looking at her hair, he realized something he hadn’t seen before: suds .

Mulder felt a pang of sadness rip through his chest as he realized what had likely happened and what made her come to him tonight. “Scully, did you have a panic attack when you tried to take a shower tonight?” he asked, bending his head down with her a little bit when her gaze fell.

“I just-” she started, her face contorting into a pained grimace. “I was overwhelmed and I had to get out.”

So she threw on her pajamas and ran in here, to him, for comfort. It made him happy to think she found some sort of solace in coming to him, but the thought of her being so fraught with distress she couldn’t even take time to dry herself off made his heart break. “What do you do when this happens at home?”

“Have you ever been in the shower and you close your eyes for a moment, and for that split second you convince yourself something evil must be looking at you? So you snap your eyes open and all you see is how irrational you just were?” she asked, seemingly ignoring his question.

“Yeah,” he nodded. “All the time.”

“It feels like that, but the moment of panic is still there when I open my eyes. Taking a shower sometimes feels like I’m just enacting Donnie Pfaster’s fantasies, and tonight-” she broke off as her throat clenched in defense for an onslaught of tears. She kept them at bay as she powered through. “Tonight I had a vivid idea of him sitting in his jail cell thinking of me doing exactly what I was doing at that moment. And it felt like I was playing out a sick fantasy for him and then I just couldn’t breathe.”

She sniffed, wiping her eyes with the back of her hands. “And then I was knocking at your door,” she added with a shrug.

“You don’t remember getting out of the shower?” he asked.

“I just remember wanting to feel safe,” Scully mumbled, wrapping her arms around herself. 

His heart went out to her and he wished he could go back and prevent himself from ever accepting that case and exposing her to that monster. He knew it wasn’t his fault, and that he couldn’t fix the past, but he could try his hardest to make a better future for her.

He had an idea, but he wasn’t sure if she’d go for it. “When was the last time you took a bath? Do you just take showers now?”

“I’m a military brat, Mulder. I know how to be in and out in five minutes, and that’s what I do now. I… um… I haven’t taken a bath since before,” she made a hand gesture as if to say ‘that night’. “I tried once, but I couldn’t tolerate the sound of the running water.”

Mulder expected as much and nodded in acknowledgement. “Have you ever heard of exposure therapy?” he asked.

Scully looked at him skeptically but answered nonetheless. “I think so? A person is afraid of spiders, so you get them to hold a spider so they can see there’s nothing to be afraid of.”

“That’s right,” he praised. “I think it might help you.”

“What exactly are you suggesting?” she asked slowly.

He took a deep breath before explaining, “I hate that he took your sense of safety away from you, Scully. I hate every awful thing that’s happened to you, but it makes me extremely uncomfortable to think that something that once brought you happiness has been tainted.” Scully’s eyes were locked on his and, even though she was nervously chewing her bottom lip, he was hopeful she was open to what he was saying. “I think it would be beneficial if you tried exposure therapy by taking a bath. I’d be right here to talk you down if you got overwhelmed.”

“But I just took a shower,” she replied with furrowed brows. 

“This isn’t about getting clean,” he murmured.

She nodded a bit apprehensively and then steeled her resolve. “I don’t want to be scared anymore,” she seethed with a strained voice. She looked over at him again and murmured, “I don’t want you to feel like you have to do this.”

He was shaking his head as she said this and immediately responded with, “No, I want to do this. I want to help you in whatever way I can.”

She smiled at him before slipping off the bed. “So, what’s the plan?” she asked, fidgeting with her nails again.

He stood up on the opposite side of the bed and thought out loud. “I want to respect your privacy, so I can be wherever you prefer: on the other side of the door, in the other room, whatever you want. This is all on your terms. All I’d recommend is that you talk it out with me. If you get uncomfortable, let’s talk it through.”

“Okay,” she nodded. “I’ll go into my room quickly and change into my robe. Then I’ll be right back.”

Mulder tilted his head in question. “You mean… you want to do it in my room?”

She paused for a moment, then nodded seriously. “I’d feel more safe, I think.”

He nodded in agreement and said, “Okay.”

Scully disappeared into her own room, and he turned to head into his bathroom. It wasn’t too shabby as far as motel bathrooms went, but it was still pretty cramped. He sat on the lip of the tub and turned on the faucet, putting his hand underneath the stream to make sure it would be a good temperature for her. Even though he was the one to suggest this, he was in disbelief they were actually doing it. He was used to Scully turning down his ideas, so for her to take him up on this so readily just told him how much she wanted help. 

He looked around and couldn’t find any luxury items, so the best he could do was pour some of his body wash into the stream and mix it up with his hand in an effort to produce bubbles.

“Mulder?” she called from behind him.

He turned around and saw Scully drowning in a fluffy bathrobe. “Hey,” he greeted, wiping his hand on his pajama shorts.

“I don’t have any dry pajamas,” she stated, her eyes focusing on the sight of the rising waterline.

“Do you want to borrow something of mine?” he asked.

“I’d really appreciate it,” she responded with a small smile.

“Yeah, yeah, of course,” he replied, standing up and moving past her to find her something. He paused when he felt a small hand grab his wrist. He turned around and saw Scully looking at him. “Thank you, Mulder. For all of this. It means a lot to me.”

He didn’t know how to react to such honest praise, so he found himself blushing and laughing it off. “You might change your tune when you find yourself wearing an old shirt and boxers.”

She rolled her eyes and let go of his wrist so he could retrieve those very items, which he triple checked to make sure they were both clean. “Here you go. I’ll just lay them out on the count-” he stopped when he turned around and saw her standing at the side of the bathtub, just looking down at the water.

“You okay?” he asked, setting the pile of clothes down on the countertop. 

“Yeah,” she replied with a quick nod of her head, looking over her shoulder. 

He reached around her and turned off the tap, figuring it was full enough and he didn’t want them to have to yell over the sound of the running water. He stood up straight and took a step back, waiting for her instruction. “So, where do you want me?” he asked.

She turned a little so she could look and weigh her options. “Could you sit on the toilet?” she asked, looking at his face to gauge his response.

He blinked. “You mean… you want me to stay in here with you?”

“If that’s okay,” she replied shyly.

He shut the seat, and sat down awkwardly. “No, of course. I’ll, uh, I’ll just shut my eyes right now if you wanna…” he trailed off.

“Oh, um. Yeah. Thank you,” she stammered equally as awkwardly.

He made an exaggerated show of clamping his eyes shut, just so she’d know he was being serious and not taking any peeks at her while she was trusting him. Even so, it was a moment before he heard the sounds of the sash of her robe being undone and the soft swoosh of terry cotton falling to the ground. 

Mulder listened as she took a step into the bath, followed by another, and the sound of the water accommodating her body. He wished he could open his eyes just to see how she was reacting, but instead he had to listen to the small gasp and sound of her even breathing. He startled a little bit at the sound of scraping metal until realizing it was her drawing the shower curtain against the rod. “Can you see me?” she asked.

“No, I promise my eyes are closed,” he reassured immediately.

“Oh, sorry. You can open them. I mean can you see just my face?” she clarified.

His eyes fluttered open, blinking rapidly to get rid of the purple-hued color distortion as he turned to the tub. Sure enough, the curtain was pulled to completely preserve her modesty, but with her back reclined against the slope of the tub, he could see just her face and the tops of her bare shoulders. “Yep, you’re all good,” he affirmed.

She smiled before turning to face the wall in front of her. “I can’t help but imagine myself in the place of the hypothetical me that didn’t get away,” she admitted.

He’d be lying if he said he wasn’t imagining the same. Seeing her in the tub just reminded him of the mental images he’d had while she was gone - entering Pfaster’s lair only to find Scully dead, her body bobbing lifelessly in the ruddy water. This was about her, he wasn’t going to divert from the task at hand, but he internally acknowledged this was also therapeutic for his own trauma. “I understand the instinct to imagine that, but I want you to describe how you’re feeling right now. Take the mental aspect out of it and detach yourself for a moment. How does your body feel?”

“I feel warm,” she stated. “The temperature’s perfect.”

He smiled softly and nodded in encouragement. “What else? Use sensory details.”

“I didn’t realize how sore my body had been after tonight, but right now I can feel my muscles relaxing from being submerged in the water.” As she said this, he heard the water sloshing and he imagined she was swishing her arms and legs in the water. “It smells like you,” she added.

“They didn’t have any bubble bath, so I had to improvise with my stuff,” he replied.

“I like it,” she stated kindly. An irrational swell of pride blossomed in his chest at the small compliment and he couldn’t keep a smirk from crossing his lips. 

She sniffled once and continued, “Pfaster filled up the tub with something that smelled like artificial fruit.”

He swallowed thickly and shifted on the seat, the lid creaking in protest. “What’s your favorite type of bubble bath?” he asked.

“Um, my mom got me some lavender stuff not too long before it happened, and I really like it,” she answered.

“Did she get it for you because she knows you like baths?”

He risked a glance at her and saw her nodding. “Yeah, my family always teased me about it because I was notorious for taking long baths,” she said with a huff of laughter.

He smirked at the small levity. “Why do you like baths so much?”

“In a family of six it was the only time I really had by myself. I guess I always equated it with a job well done, too. After a long day, or finishing something stressful, or when I finally have time to myself, taking a bath is like a reward. A moment to relax and just enjoy myself,” she responded.

“Is that why you got an apartment with the world’s biggest bathroom?” he teased.

“It is not,” she laughed. “But yes, the bathroom was definitely a major selling point.”

“Have you tried maybe playing a radio while trying to take a bath?” he asked. “It might help drown out the sounds of the running bath water if it bothers you, but also hearing the disc jockeys and commercials might help cement you in the present while your mind is focusing on the past,” he offered. 

She made a little sound of approval in the back of her throat. “That’s good, I’ll try that when we get back to D.C.”

He smiled and raised his eyebrows. “Hey, listen to you, talking about your next bath,” he praised.

“I won’t let him win,” she stated, her words more confident than her tone.

He pivoted on the seat and leaned forward towards her. “As much as the traumatized part of you will always remind you of what could have been, the unshakable, undeniable truth is that you survived. Even if you feel uncomfortable while taking a bath, you’re in control. You’ll get out of the tub, you’ll be in your home, and Pfaster will be wasting away in some prison cell. He will never touch you again.”

She let out a little shaky huff of laughter and looked away from him. “I wish I could personally thank your Oxford professors. You’re good at this,” she joked. 

“Just calling it as I see it,” he mused with a smile. “Are you ready for the hard part?”

Mulder didn’t need to elaborate what that was. He heard her reach over and grab a bottle of something followed by the sound of it squeaking from use. “3-in-1, Mulder? Really?” she asked, mirthful judgement heavy in her tone.

“Hey, it’s efficient,” he replied with a grin.

“I’m not sure that’s the word I’d use,” she teased, before setting the bottle down. 

He heard her take a deep breath before the sounds of her washing her hair filled his ears. He was silent while they both waited to see how this would go, but he could rejoice in the fact she hadn’t panicked yet. He’d glanced over once, but he’d accidentally caught a glimpse of her exposed back and his gaze quickly darted to the floor, counting the tiles to keep himself occupied. 

A big swishing sound filled the room and he realized she’d dunked herself underwater. She stayed like that for a moment, the bathroom feeling eerily still until she emerged with a big gasp, like a baby’s first breath.

“Are you okay?” he asked, breaking the silence. 

“Yeah. Yeah, I am,” she replied softly. 

He knew they both knew this wasn’t over. Doing it once didn’t mean the next time would be easy or that she’d never think of it again. But she’d done it once, and that’s what mattered. Small victories.

He knew she’d pulled the drain plug as the sounds of the water leaving the tub gurgled loudly. Taking his cue, he stood up and stated, “I’ll let you have a moment alone, okay? I’ll be in the other room.”

“I owe you one, Mulder,” she answered, gratitude lacing every word.

He laughed and made his way to the door. “You’ve already repaid me a thousand times over, Scully.”

Mulder shut the door and made his way over to the bed, crawling back into the same position he’d been in before the bath. A few minutes later, Scully emerged, looking fresh and pink. She was wearing one of his old Oxford shirts, her shoulders swathed in grey until the shirt switched colors and a rich oxblood red draped down, settling at the middle of her thigh. He could see a bump on the side of her hip from where she’d no doubt had to tie the shorts in a knot to keep them from sliding down her legs, and he was struck with the evidence of just how much larger he was than her, physically. He saw her as a beacon of strength and power at work, and this reminder that she was truly a petite, tiny woman struck him and he had to resist smiling. “That’s a good look for you, Scully.”

She rolled her eyes and made her way to the bed. “Thanks,” she replied with a laugh. Mulder chuckled and watched as she slid under the top sheet of the bed with grace. At his look she stopped and explained, “Sorry, I was cold.”

He put a hand up immediately and shook his head “No, no, be my guest,” he stammered, turning to the television so as to not make her uncomfortable. 

In his periphery, he saw Scully shift the pillow that she’d been holding earlier behind her head and shoulders, propping her up. They sat there in silence for a while, watching the television play a commercial for a local psychic. Occasionally he saw Scully’s little feet move beneath the covers as she got comfortable. He wasn’t sure quite what to do with himself. He hoped she was feeling better, but he wasn’t sure if she was since she was still in here. Did she want to sleep in here? If she did, that was fine with him, he just wasn’t sure if he should go to the couch or if she’d be offended if he laid down next to her. So instead, he continued sitting up straight while his gaze flickered from the television to her outline under the covers.

He was certain that their relationship was getting stronger the more time they spent with each other, but he couldn’t shake the guilt that she’d been feeling this way and he hadn’t picked up on it. He hadn’t been oblivious, but she always played it off. “ I’m fine, Mulder.” Why had it taken a near-death experience influenced panic attack to get her to confide in him?

“Why didn’t you tell me you’ve been feeling this way, Scully?” he murmured softly.

Scully was silent for a moment and he was afraid he’d crossed a line. “I didn’t want you to know it bothered me.”

“I’d be more concerned if it didn’t,” he admitted. “You’re the strongest person I know. Even so, you’re only human.”

“I just don’t want you to feel like you need to protect me,” she murmured, glancing over to him with even eyes to gauge his response.

All she could have seen was the look of confused surprise that crossed his face. At the beginning of their relationship, he’d seen her defenses up, built as high as they could go. As a woman in two male dominated fields, he understood her need to prove herself as equal to those around her. But he’d hoped by now she knew she didn’t have to do that with him. “Scully, I’d be dead several times over if it wasn’t for you,” he stated firmly.

She smiled softly, but it didn’t quite reach her eyes. He continued. “You know I’m right. You’re the best partner I’ve ever had; and if I’ve ever done anything protective of you, it’s because I never want to see you hurt, not because I think you’re some damsel in distress who needs it,” he explained. “Hell, even hypothetically referring to you as a damsel in distress makes me cringe.”

An actual smile graced her lips and she let out a huff of laughter. “Good,” she stated softly. “And… thank you.”

“Besides, if it weren’t for me you wouldn’t have-” he started, only to get interrupted by her pointed look.

“I’m your partner, Mulder. Anywhere you go, I go. We’re a team,” she stated firmly. “I’m only in these places because I choose to be.”

He nodded, though he still felt guilty. “Would you have gone to the Vikings Game with me?” he asked with a playful lilt, wanting to keep her spirits up.

She pressed her hand to her mouth as she yawned, withdrawing it to reveal a contemplative look. “I would have,” she mused. “But not before giving you a hard time first.”

She nuzzled further down onto the mattress, eyes not leaving the screen, as her damp hair fanned out like licks of fire against the stark white of the bedding. 

“How did you even get those tickets?” she asked.

“The Gunmen,” he answered with a grin.

“Of course,” she chuckled. Then, a few moments later: “Why did you want to take me?” her soft voice croaked.

He was glad it was dim in the room as he felt a flush spread over his face. I wanted to spend time with you, just having fun. Instead of saying that he shrugged and said, “I figure one of these days I can get you to see the beauty of sports.”

“Sweaty men on a field throwing pig skin around. Yeah, beautiful,” she replied sarcastically, yawning through the last word.

Mulder let out a small huff of laughter as he sat up straighter on the bed. “Tease me all you’d like, but I think one day I’ll convince you. Some people may not like sports because they find them violent or boorish, but… I like watching the teamwork of it all, the camaraderie. All of these guys probably dreamed of winning the superbowl or making an amazing catch- but only until someone is there to throw them the ball and play alongside them are they able to achieve those dreams,” he explained. 

He felt a swell of embarrassment in his chest as he realized he’d been rambling and he added, turning to her, “I know it sounds corny but-”

Mulder stopped mid-sentence as he turned towards her and saw her eyes were closed, her lashes fluttering against her cheeks as her breath came out in measured exhalations. She fell asleep. A smile crept onto his face as he saw how serene and peaceful she looked, as if years of tension had left her face.

Scully turned her body a bit so that she was lying down properly and facing him. She looked so comfortable and vulnerable that he felt an overwhelming surge of protectiveness swell in his chest alongside an urge to lie down and draw her into his arms.

The thought that anyone could look at her like this and think of doing her harm or taking advantage of her made him want to barricade the two of them in this motel room forever, to keep her safe by his side. 

I love her.

The thought hit him like a freight train and once it hit, he couldn’t get out from under it. He looked down at her sleeping form, so trusting and so open with him, and the thought went through his head like a mantra. 

I love her. I love her. I love her.

A soft snore broke his thoughts and he immediately felt guilty. The last thing Scully needed was her weird partner leering over her while she slept. He wiped his face with his hands, as if he could brush away his newfound realization. Standing up, he grabbed his side of the blankets and tucked them over Scully as lightly as he could so as to not wake her, cocooning her with the comforter. 

He kept the television on so she wouldn’t wake up to blackness before heading into her room, keeping the adjoining door open. The sounds of the for-hire psychic followed him as he stood in the doorway.

“Your future is right in front of you. You just need to know what to look for.”

Her bed was littered with some of her clothes, and he scooped them up carefully and piled them on the chair next to the bed before easing himself under the covers. The bed smelled like Scully and he wondered briefly if she’d smell him when she woke up. He wondered if she’d find comfort in it. 

A blue glow was starting to emit from behind the curtains as the birds outside began to chirp and sing. Mulder rubbed his palm across his forehead in frustration at his thoughts defaulting to her in this way. She needed him to be her partner, her friend, not some guy obsessing over her. 

With a sigh, he rolled to the light and flicked off the switch.

Chapter Text

iii. room service



Scully didn’t know which had taken longer - her attempts to convince Mulder to take the weekend off or her telling him over and over again that vacation meant vacation and that he was by no means allowed to work between when they left the office on Friday and when they returned on Monday.

If only she’d been able to heed that advice herself.

When she returned from Maine, she felt less rested than she would have if she’d just stayed at home. Her body ached from the near ten hour drive, and she’d only gotten to the second chapter in her book Affirmations for Women Who Work too Much.

In a cruel twist of fate, while she’d had a weekend full of unexplained, spooky phenomena, Mulder had actually taken her advice and laid low, yet it only resulted in winding him up more than when she had left. The whole week they’d been back he’d been restless, trying to find a case, talking about how excited he was to get back into work, how much he preferred her being the one to offer the ‘boring scientific explanation’. 

He missed her.

It was a thought that would come into her mind every now and then since getting back, even though it was a sentiment he hadn’t voiced. Five years at his side had made her pretty fluent in Mulder’s wide array of emotions, and from the way he kept asking her opinion over and over and the way she kept catching his eye when she looked his way, she realized he wasn’t listless from not working on a case during the weekend; it was because they’d been apart for so long.

Scully had a slight inkling that was why he’d gone out of his way to nab an out-of-town case. There were plenty in the D.C. area that he had stacked in a pile on his desk, but he was insistent that a case in Minnesota required their attention. Out-of-state cases naturally meant far more together time than local ones, and part of her was curious if he was trying to make up for lost time.

But it just so happened this case that they ‘needed to get to ASAP’ turned out to be a bust almost immediately. What he’d anticipated was going to be a week-long case ended up with them arriving in Duluth, Minnesota in the evening only to have to turn around and leave the next day. The spookiest thing in small towns, nine times out of ten, was the result of bored teenage delinquents.

Mulder had been contrite, clearly disappointed for ‘dragging her out’ here, but she told him being able to sleep while on the plane was the most relaxing thing she’d been able to do in longer than she could remember. Her only complaint was that she would now probably be up for the rest of the night, unable to go back to sleep. 

Scully had been right about that too. She’d changed into her pajamas and had been lying in her bed for about an hour with no luck. For a while she contemplated going into his room and asking if he wanted to watch something, but as soon as her legs were over the bed she heard the door to his room shut and an engine outside rev up. With a sigh, she leaned back and resigned herself to a BBC marathon. 

She was enjoying her choice as she became engrossed in the newest adaptation of Emma , but then a few knocks on the door interrupted the climax, forcing her to clean up the vending machine wrappers on the bed and make her way to the door as Mr. Knightley’s confession continued on in the background.

“What of my flaws? I've humbled you, and I've lectured you and you have borne it as no one could have borne it. Maybe it is our imperfections that make us so perfect for one another. Marry me?”

Looking out the peephole, she was met with the sight of Mulder fumbling with multiple grocery sacks from the local store. She opened the door and watched as his face lit up.

“Room service,” he beamed, holding up his offerings.

“What’s this?” she asked, stepping aside to let him in as he walked further into the room, setting his collection of bags on a table.

“I just thought we could have a little fun,” he beamed, pulling out a handle of Tito’s Vodka. 

“A little?” she replied, staring at the bottle in surprise.

“Scully, it’s the least I can do,” he explained, bringing out several mixers and sodas from the other bag. “After all, I still owe you a rain check don’t I?” She was just about to ask him what he meant when he added, “It’s no wine and cheese platter, but I think we can still make it work.”

A small flush crept up her neck at the reminder of that night. There was something about going to the communication seminar that had dredged up some unwelcome memories.

“We never really… uh… talk much… do we?”

Eddie Van Blundht hadn’t even realized how right he’d been when he said that. Up until the warning signs started to go off, she’d really been enjoying herself - enjoying how she felt as she thought she and Mulder were finally opening up to each other. She’d felt embarrassed and ashamed when she’d realized it wasn’t her partner she’d been confessing to, but she’d also felt a shockingly powerful sense of loss. One step forward, two steps back. 

That night, after he derailed them from the communication seminar, she’d felt a similar sense of loss. Even though Mulder would have flippantly treated the whole thing as a joke, maybe she could have surprised him with being open and honest and he might have returned in kind. When that didn’t happen, as much as it chagrined her to think she was taking notes from a man like Eddie, she thought if she came to him with an offering of wine and a willingness to connect, that maybe they could. She’d just gone into remission, she was feeling better, and she wanted to recreate that moment. 

“Well, what's stopping us?”

Scully looked over and watched him as he poured vodka into two red solo cups, haphazardly grabbing mixers as he went along. He was still in the fitted grey t-shirt and jeans he’d been wearing earlier, but somehow during his walk into the room he’d kicked off his shoes and was standing in his worn socks. 

She felt a little underdressed in comparison; her pajamas for the night were just an old t-shirt and cotton shorts, and she’d taken off her bra already. She felt the urge to curve her shoulders in and cross her arms in front of her chest to make it a little less obvious, but he’d seen her like this too many times over the past few years for her to be coy. And she knew Mulder had a talent for being an absolute gentleman, despite the occasional glance.

“Thanks for getting all this,” she stated, crawling onto the bed and sitting off to the side so he’d have room.

“Of course,” he replied, holding up the cups to make sure they were even. “Voila!” Mulder proclaimed as he turned around, handing her an orange cocktail. She sniffed it tentatively and winced at the smell. “Oh come on,” he chuckled at the reaction.

He scooted onto the bed where she’d just been earlier and sat with his back to the headboard. She brought the rim of the cup to her lip and gulped down a mouthful of liquid, only to regret it immediately.

“Jesus, Mulder,” she sputtered with a cough, her whole face wincing as the alcohol burned warmly down her throat.

“Are you implying I shouldn’t pursue bartending as a secondary career choice?” he teased, laughing as she tried to recover. 

“How many shots did you put in this?” she asked, eyeing the cup skeptically.

“I dunno, I just did half and half,” he shrugged.

“That’s like six shots, Mulder!” 

“I thought you were Irish?” Mulder teased before taking a big swig of his own drink. A suspiciously big swig. 

She leaned over and took the cup out of his hand, ignoring an offhand comment about her having cooties, and drank from his, surprised when his went down much easier. “Mulder!” she balked.

“What?” he asked innocently.

“You barely have any,” she pointed out.

“I don’t drink very often and I fear I have a less than impressive tolerance,” he explained. “I’ve seen some wine at your place so I figured you dabbled more frequently.”

“And I’m half your size,” she corrected, handing him the drink originally meant for her. “I think I’d have to have a problem for me to have the same tolerance as you.”

“Oh come on, it can’t be that bad,” he laughed before taking a drink, regret painting his face immediately. “I stand corrected.”

She smiled as he inhaled a sharp breath between clenched teeth as his face twisted. “Told you so,” she laughed.

He reached over to her night stand and stole a drink from the water she’d left there. “That’s potent,” he choked out.

In all their time together, she’d never really seen him have any sort of alcohol and she realized she didn’t even know why. “How come you don’t drink, Mulder?” she asked.

He looked like he initially wasn’t going to answer, just offering a simple shrug, but then an admission tumbled out of his mouth, “Somewhere along the line I started drinking only when I was upset.” 

“Did something upset you tonight?” she asked, her brows furrowing.

He immediately moved to dismiss her worry. “No, not at all. I actually tried to run to Blockbuster so I could surprise you with a movie marathon, but they were closed. I just wanted to find something fun for us to do since this case was a total bust. Then I just thought it might be fun to hang out and drink. Besides, I’ve never seen you loopy,” he explained, waggling his eyebrows at his last statement.

“I can’t even imagine what your choices for a movie marathon would include. I suppose I should be grateful you don’t bring any of your personal collection on the road,” she teased, taking a sip.

“I have no idea what you’re talking about,” he deadpanned with a smirk, taking another big swig of his drink. 

She rolled her eyes and reached around over the edge of the bed, bending over with her back to Mulder as she grabbed a bag she’d discarded earlier. As she twisted back to face him, she caught his lingering gaze on her body and she realized she’d just all but shoved her ass in his face. His eyes snapped up and he took another drink to pretend like he’d been occupied. 

She felt a small flush spread across her chest, but she pushed it aside and dropped the plastic sack in between them. “I still have a lot of the snacks from the airport that we can share. I think it might help the alcohol go down a little better.”

He opened the bag and a beaming smile erupted on his face immediately. “Sunflower seeds? Scully, are you psychic?” he teased.

“I think I picked you up a Mars Bar too,” she replied, grabbing something for herself. By this point in their partnership, she felt like she knew Mulder’s preferences like the back of her hand. Endless hours in the car and various motel rooms across the country had caused her to sometimes feel like they knew one another better than a married couple - minus the obvious intimate details.

“BBC, huh?” he asked, drawing her attention to the forgotten screen. 

“Oh, yeah. I was watching Emma before you came in here,” she replied, tucking an errant strand of hair behind her ear.

He turned to her with a cocked brow and teased, “And you were worried about my choice of movies?”

She laughed and rolled her eyes. “It’s a classic, Mulder!”

“Does it make you swoon?” he lilted, throwing back the rest of his drink in a final gulp.

“Jane Austen is a talented writer. I can’t deny I find such multifaceted characters charming,” she replied with a playful smile, finishing off her drink as well. Warmth was spreading through her body from the alcohol, and she could only imagine the effects it was having on Mulder since his was so much stronger. 

“You want our friendship to remain the same as it has always been, but I cannot desire that,” he stated in a passionate murmur, locking eyes with her as she said it.

Her heart thrummed in her chest at his words before she recognized the sentiment. She gave him a pointed look and he shrugged his shoulders. “So I may or may not have studied Austen in college.”

“Was that an elective?” she smirked, remembering the flack she’d received for her anthropology courses.

“Maybe I just find Mr. Knightley incredibly charming,” he teased, waggling his eyebrows. 

“Give me your cup,” she commanded, holding out her hand to him.

“So bossy,” he joked, handing it to her with a smirk.

She got off the bed, feeling his eyes on her the whole time, and made her way to his impromptu bar. Luckily, though his bartending skills were lacking, his selection was good, and she was able to concoct something drinkable for them both. However, when it came time to add the alcohol, she couldn’t resist the temptation to add a bit more to his cup than she did hers. It wasn’t ill intended, she was just enjoying seeing Mulder let loose; usually his mind was going a thousand miles a minute, and if she could help him relax a bit and open up some more, she wanted to. She wondered if he’d had a similar thought and just used her tolerance as a scapegoat.

“Here you go,” she said, offering him the drink.

He took it from her with care not to spill it. “What is it?” he asked as she made her way back to her previous spot, him following closely after.

“It’s a Vodka Cranberry,” she replied before repeating an old adage a college friend once told her, “It’s an alcoholic beverage and a probiotic all in one.”

“How considerate,” he laughed, taking a generous swig before asking, “What are you doing?”

She’d stuck her finger into her beverage and was swirling it inside. “Trying to mix it together better so the top isn’t just juice,” she replied, smiling when he immediately followed suit without question. She pulled out her finger when she was satisfied and stuck it in her mouth to clean off the remnants. 

Scully heard him gasp and her eyes flicked upwards to him, her cheeks still hollowed around the digit. Realizing the accidental sensuality of the action, she let go of her finger with an audible suction and wiped the remaining saliva on her shorts. 

He looked away and took another drink and she watched as his eyes squinted lightly and his lips pursed. “Is it okay?” she asked, worried her attempts to give him a little boost had ruined the drink.

“No, no. It’s delicious, Scully,” he reassured immediately. She knew that wasn’t really true, she’d put too much in for it to be anywhere near ‘delicious’ unless he was tipsier than she assumed, but she was flattered that he wanted her to think so.

“Good,” she replied softly, sipping her own.

They both settled back against the headboard, sitting up side by side. Emma had ended and the new movie was something she didn’t recognize. Mulder appeared to be pretty interested, but she couldn’t maintain focus long enough to understand what was going on. Her mind kept wandering to the man sitting next to her. Did he really go out of his way to do something nice for her because he felt bad for ‘dragging her’ out here? They’d gone on plenty of cases that had been a waste of time, but he’d never made an effort like this before. It just added to her theory that his choosing this out-of-town case was an attempt for them to spend more time together. 

Had he missed her that badly?

As much as she wanted to roll her eyes at the melodrama of it, she was touched. If he wanted to spend time with her, all he had to do was ask. They didn’t need to wait until they were in a motel room to watch movies together and enjoy a drink or two - the distance between Georgetown and Alexandria was only twenty minutes.

Did he think she only viewed him as an accessory to work? That inviting him over to her personal space would be like mixing church and state? She realized every time they had been in each other’s apartments, something dire was happening that required their immediate attention. 

The thought of Mulder, dressed in his casual wear showing up to her apartment and just hanging out with her brought a small smile to her face, and she realized that was something she wanted. He shouldn’t feel like their friendship was designated to the 9 to 5 time slot with the occasional exception of being in a motel room.

“C-can I ask you somethin’, Scully?” he asked, breaking her out of her thoughts. She wasn’t sure how long she’d been ruminating over the topic instead of focusing on the screen, and she just silently prayed whatever his question was didn’t pertain to the movie. She could tell whatever he was going to say was serious as he sloppily tried to sit up straighter.

“Yeah,” she agreed softly with a nod, taking a sip of her own neglected concoction. 

A look of boyish vulnerability passed over his face and she felt her brow furrow in concern of what caused it. “Did you miss me at all?” he asked, punctuating the question by pouting his lip slightly.

If it wasn’t for the earnestness of his expression, she would have chuckled. “Why would you ask me that?” she prodded, wanting to hear his honest feelings.

The fact that Mulder rarely imbibed was becoming clear as she realized that two strong drinks had caused quite an effect. “Because I really, really missed you,” he replied. “You’re the best friend I’ve ever had, Scully.”

His words took her by surprise and she felt a smile tugging on her lips despite her efforts to subdue it. She considered him her best friend as well but had never admitted it to herself, let alone him. To hear it spoken out loud was extraordinarily validating.

‘Missing her’ wasn’t a sentiment she usually associated with her brooding and comely, six-foot tall partner, but him sitting in front of her right now pouting while seeking her approval and admitting something as simple and sweet as missing her was absolutely adorable and endearing.

“I missed you too, Mulder,” she replied, brushing some of his mussed hair with the tips of her fingers.

“I kept wanting to call you,” he admitted, blatantly leaning into her touch.

“You did keep calling me,” she corrected with a smirk.

He rolled his eyes and tried to take another drink, frowning when he realized it was empty. He turned the cup upside down and shook it in a comedic fashion. “No, besides that. You kept hanging up on me, Scully!” he stated with an accusatory look.

“I wasn’t avoiding you. I was busy,” she explained with a laugh.

“Yeah, with Jack ,” he mumbled, fingering the lip of the solo cup.

Are you jealous? The words burned her tongue, but she couldn't muster the courage to give voice to them, despite her knowing he was probably intoxicated enough to answer. 

“What was he like?” he suddenly asked, breaking her train of thought.

“Jack?” she asked. He nodded and she pursed her lips, memories of a night tortured by the images of an ambiguous Dr. Bambi Berenbaum flashing through her mind. To be honest, that situation wasn’t all that different from this one. He’d been out on a case by himself, with an unknown woman, constantly calling her and asking for advice before hanging up, leaving her to speculate the worst.

“He was very kind. He valued my opinion on the case he called me to, and he took me out to a nice meal,” she responded vaguely.

“T-took you out?” he stammered. 

“Yes. For lobster.”

“Lobster?” His eyes bulged and she couldn’t help but be secretly delighted to make him squirm a bit. “Hang on, I need another drink,” he murmured. For the first time tonight, she wondered if this had been his plan all along - to get her drunk so he could ask her about Jack. It had worked, to an extent, only he was the drunk and blatantly honest one.

“Yeah, I wanted to try the seafood since it’s what Maine is known for,” she responded before taking a small sip of her own drink as she watched him make his way towards the bar.

“Do you need more?” he asked, holding up the bottle.

“Sure, barkeep,” she smiled, fully intending to dispose of the alcohol somewhere other than her stomach. He poured straight vodka into her cup this time, then his own, and she listened to the glug glug glug sound of him overshooting the alcohol ratio again. “Did you have fun?” he asked, turning around.

“Mulder, add something to that,” she instructed, pointing behind him. 

His brows furrowed as he looked into his cup, glancing up at her as he made an ‘o’ with his mouth. “Good catch, Scully. You’re always lookin’ out for me,” he replied, turning around and grabbing some orange juice.

“Do me too,” she said, holding out her cup, then, realizing her unintentional innuendo, clarified. “I mean, my cup, please.”

Scully watched to make sure he filled them both enough so they weren’t awful before answering his prior question, “Well I don’t know if I even count it as a vacation since-”

“No, did you have fun with Jack ?” he interrupted, turning around again with his finger in his cup, swirling it haphazardly, causing some of the liquid to slosh over the sides.

He wiped his finger onto his jeans with the dexterity of a child who just picked their nose before making his way to the bed. “Let me hold that,” she instructed, not wanting him to make a mess all over her sheets.

Mulder handed it over without protesting and adjusted himself to get comfortable on the matress. “Jack was a very nice man, but I would have had more fun if you were there,” she responded softly, just wanting to give him a little happiness since this seemed to really be nagging at him. She wasn’t lying either; many times during the case she’d wished Mulder was there to offer his perspective. She had felt totally out of her element.

A smile spread across his lips as he let out a little huff of laughter. “Really?” he asked.

“Yes,” was her only reply. In response, he held his cup aloft and she did the same, both bringing the cups to their lips, only she pretended to drink, and he did not. He let out a loud cough and doubled over, and while he was distracted she quickly dumped the contents of her cup into a nearby wastebasket.

He sat up, eyes closed, composing himself for a moment, then he stated, “I feel bad for him.”

Scully turned to him with her head cocked and asked, “Why?”

“Because he only got to be your temporary partner. He doesn’t get to be your always partner,” he replied.

She wanted to question him about the details of being an ‘always partner’ but she didn’t want to delve into territory that might embarrass him in the morning. “Well, I wouldn’t even call myself his temporary partner. I was more like a consultant on the case. A consultant who needed a consultant,” she replied.

“But still,” he exclaimed dramatically. “Nothing’s ever gonna stack up for him after you.”

She felt a blush spread on her cheeks and she shook her head. “Mulder, that’s not true.”

“Is too,” he persisted. “You’re the best. You’re smart, you literally have kicked g-grown men’s asses, even my own.” He paused to take another drink and she was too lost for words to say anything. “You’re funny, you’re so, so, so beautiful, and when I’m with you I feel like I’m not a joke.”

She’d been flustered during his rambling, but the last sentiment took precedence above all else. “Mulder, you’re not a joke,” she stated firmly, brushing some of his hair back.

“You may not think so, but others do. Some people don’t care what ‘Spooky’ has to say, but when you’re with me, they’re m-more likely to listen. An-and people who are normally outright rude to me are less so when they see I’m with you. Sometimes, I feel like…  like I’m an alien, but you’re my human credential. People are more willing to believe I’m worthwhile because you do,” he explained with remarkable coherence she wouldn’t expect from a typical drunk, but somehow from Mulder it felt completely appropriate.

She could feel her bottom lip pouting at his explanation and it made her heart swell with affection for him. “Of course you’re worthwhile, Mulder,” she murmured.

She saw color tint his cheeks and she wasn’t sure if it was from the alcohol or her reassurance. He looked down into his cup before throwing the rest back. He looked like he was going to get up for another but she placed her hand on his arm and pulled him back. “You don’t need another one, Mulder,” she stated.

Scully wasn’t sure if he heard her actual sentiment because he let the cup fall to the ground as he rolled back onto the bed and tossed an arm around her middle, cuddling into her side. She looked down at him and saw his eyes were closed in contentment. “Um, Mulder. What are you doing?” 

“Sleeping,” he murmured.

“You’re not sleeping in here,” she chided, leaning away to put her cup on the nightstand.

He looked up at her, his head nudging her hip, and with a pout he whined, “Why not?”

She felt heat rush through her body at his closeness and she tried not to squirm and cause any other unintentional touching. “Because I don’t want to share a bed with someone who might throw up on me.”

“I would never,” he mumbled, squeezing her tighter.

“Come on,” she replied, disentangling herself from him despite his grumbles of protest. “I’ll tuck you in,” she offered as she stood next to his side of the bed. 

That perked him up. He leaned up quickly and tried to stand up, which only resulted in him nearly crashing them both to the floor. “Whoa, whoa,” she cautioned, trying to help straighten him out. 

“Scully, you’re so short,” he replied with a laugh, raising his hand to place it on her head and draw an imaginary line to his body. His aim was off and his hand lowered dramatically. “See, you only come to my belly button.”

“That’s not true, Mulder,” she laughed, putting his arm around her and coaxing him to the adjoining door.

“You’re so cute and tiny. I bet I could carry you over my shoulder easily,” he replied.

“If you try, I’ll shoot you,” she stated, putting her hand on his stomach to help stabilize him as they entered his room and approached his bed. “And you know I’m not kidding, either.”

She wasn’t sure what he tripped on, but one second she was celebrating getting him to the edge of the bed and the next his body weight was pressing her into the mattress. “Mulder,” she wheezed, trying to wiggle out from underneath him.

“Whoa,” he giggled, his chest vibrating against hers as he tried to orient himself.

“Mulder, you’re heavy,” she grunted, putting her arms on his shoulder, trying to push off his dead weight.

“I’m comfy,” he murmured, nuzzling into her like she was a pillow.

As much as she was trying to get him to roll over, her body was instinctually reacting to the sensation of a man’s body weight on her, Mulder’s body weight on her, especially what he was pressing into her upper thigh. 

“That makes one of us,” she grunted, freeing one of her legs from underneath him and using her heel to prod his side. 

Mulder’s attention was lazily drawn to her foot, which caused his hips to shift into the cradle of her thighs, rubbing against her inadvertently as he turned his head. He shuddered, presumably from the same sensations she was feeling, and it caused her nipples to harden against the cotton of her shirt. His gaze trailed up her body until he was looking down at her, his face a few inches from her own, looking at her like he hadn’t realized she was underneath him. A toothy grin broke out on his face as he chuckled, “Scully, you’re so soft.” 

And you’re so hard, she thought as his erection continued to grow firmly against her. “You’re crushing me, I can’t catch my breath,” she prompted, knowing that would likely get his attention. Though with how light-headed she felt about the situation, she wasn’t sure if it was entirely a lie.

His eyes widened and he rolled off her so that they were side to side with his back on the mattress. “I didn’ mean to smoosh you,” he apologized with concern. “Yer so teeny, but so strong, ya know?”

Trying to ignore how much her body missed his weight, she sat up and turned her head to him. “It’s okay.”

He was looking at her with a goofy smirk that caused her to ask, “What?”

“Yer on my bed,” he cooed, rubbing his torso idly.

She rolled her eyes and stood up, smoothing her hair with shaky hands. “Can you... take care of things from here?”

As she said it, her gaze accidentally fell to his lower half before snapping back up to his face. Having noticed her attention, his smile turned a little cocky. “What if I need your help?” he teased, pouting his lip.

The double entendre made her face flush and she rolled her eyes to try and break the tension. “I think you’ve got it covered,” she deadpanned. “Goodnight, Mulder. Thank you for the drinks.”

“Night, night, Scully,” he replied, waving at her as she made her way back to her room.

She shut the door and felt her body humming. Her legs were a little weak and she could feel her heartbeat thrumming in her neck. She made her way to her bed and lay down. Maybe I didn’t dilute my drinks as much as I thought, she considered. That would explain why she was feeling this way.

Her thoughts were interrupted when she heard a few loud sounds come from the other side of the wall followed by some muffled cursing. She sat up on her elbows to listen and was glad when she heard some clamoring footsteps followed by the sound of springs protesting her partner’s body weight. Scully fell back onto her own bed in relief and looked over at Mulder’s makeshift bar on the table, his cup still on the nightstand, and she felt a small smile of contentment spread across her lips. 

Mulder had done all this for her. They’d spent a night hanging out without any pretense of being on an official case or needing something. He’d merely wanted to spend some time together. He was her best friend and she wanted to do this more often; he’d gone out of his way to make an attempt at connection and she needed to make an effort to reciprocate in the future.

But the cups weren’t the only remnants of the night left over. As she lay in bed waiting for sleep to take her, she thought of Mulder’s body on top of her and felt a persistent pulsing in between her thighs: pure carnal lust.

For him.

It had to be the alcohol, she told herself.

 

Chapter Text

 

 

iv. no vacancy



“Looks like we can’t get a flight out of here until tomorrow,” Scully said, hanging up her cell phone.

“I certainly hope not.” Mulder sunk into a plastic folding chair and leaned back, gesturing at the leaking ceiling of the Kroner High School gymnasium. He was absolutely exhausted by the day. And it had been a day.  

He glanced around the assembled crowd of reunion-goers, which at this point had trickled down to about a dozen people. Most of the guests had departed, seeking shelter from the inclement weather, but Holman and Sheila still sat in the corner, chairs pulled close together, knees touching, talking softly. 

Mulder smiled with the thought that of all the paranormal forces he and Scully had encountered during their tenure on the X-Files, love truly had to be the most mysterious. 

You should try it sometime, Holman had said under his breath. Surely Scully had heard him. It was getting ridiculous how obvious it was to everyone else that he was in love with her, and yet he couldn’t buck up the courage to take his own advice to Holman and simply tell her how he felt. 

Soon , he thought. Something’s got to give.

“Want to head back to the motel?” he asked her. The Cool View Motor Court was still booked solid because of the reunion, and it wasn’t the first time they’d been forced to share a room while on assignment, but this particular case had obviously dredged up a lot of feelings. He was nervous tonight, torn between avoidance and action. He suspected Scully was choosing avoidance, from the way she seemed to be delaying their return. He wondered if and when he would decide upon action.

“Yeah, let’s go,” she said. For a moment, Mulder thought she didn’t really want to; that perhaps going back to a cramped motel room where they’d be spending the night together wasn’t her idea of a relaxing evening. But then to his great surprise, she looked around the room surreptitiously, grabbed an unopened champagne bottle out of an ice bucket on the table, and stuffed it underneath her coat. She widened her eyes at him as she jerked her head towards the exit, indicating go, go, go.

He stood up, following closely behind her, impressed. “You rebel,” he muttered softly behind her with a grin.

When they arrived back at the room, Scully did what she’d done the previous night, which was to head straight to the bathroom, closing the door. He allowed her to change while he rooted through his own clothes,patiently waiting for her to exit in her robe with a shy smile, and then went into the bathroom himself. All of it was done expertly in sync; like a habit they’d never actually created. He continued to marvel at the occasions when utter silence seemed to be their best form of communication.

He’d just finished relieving himself when he heard a voice from the bedroom.

“Hey, Mulder.”

He poked his head out to see her sitting in the center of the bed in her pajamas, holding up the bottle. Her robe had been discarded and the television was on, playing softly behind her. “Par-tay?” she asked with a smile.

He cocked his head to the side, her spontaneity and whimsy on this trip continuing to delight him. “Hell, yeah.”

He walked over to the bed and sat down across from her as she poured some champagne into two clear plastic cups. She handed him one and held her own cup aloft.

“To our powerful matchmaking skills,” she grinned.

“Hear, hear,” he replied. They tapped their cups together and sipped. The subsequent silence was extensive and deafening.

He looked at her a bit awkwardly. He was inches from her in his T-shirt and sweatpants. It occurred to him that a distance of two feet and a couple layers of fabric were the only obstacles between Scully and the part of him that wanted her most. Not long ago, he’d have felt ashamed to think of her in such a way. Now, he could so rarely avoid thinking about it, he’d given up on the guilt.

“Do you really think we did anything at all?” he asked her. “I mean, would they have figured it out eventually?”

She looked pensive. “I think so.” Her eyes landed on him, softening. “I hope so.”

He nodded back. “I guess it was just their time.”

“Probably.”

They were experts at this, Mulder and Scully, at this kind of maneuvering; their ability to dodge and shift around any given heated moment. They’d done it for years, delicately navigating a dangerous path that constantly teetered on the edge of a precipice that would surely land them in a pit of flames if they weren’t careful. He knew it, she knew it. He hardly understood what they were waiting for anymore.

They looked at each other and he felt his features soften. This seemed to happen whenever he looked at her lately: a tightening in his gut and a flood of emotions to his heart that he could now identify in precisely the way that the hapless-yet-surprisingly-perceptive Holman Hardt had earlier that morning.

I do not gaze at Scully.

Right now he was unequivocally, unabashedly, one hundred percent gazing at Scully.

“Well,” he said, catching himself and swiftly breaking their gaze. “You tired?”

She shrugged. “Not really.” She looked at him in a way that felt like a dare. 

“Um…” Mulder looked around, searching for something, anything else they could possibly do besides deal with the obvious elephant in the room. Scully seemed far more at ease than he’d expected.

“You know, I have to hand it to you, Mulder,” she said. “I know I teased you about it, but whatever you said to Holman seemed to work.” 

“Dana Scully,” he said, in mock surprise. “As I live and breathe. Are you actually admitting you believe Holman Hardt was controlling the weather?”

“I never said that,” she retorted. “Convincing him to confess his feelings is one thing; the weather is quite another.”

“How do you explain the storm then?” Mulder asked, amused.

She shrugged. “How do you know it isn’t just a coincidence?”

Mulder gave her his patented give me a break face. “Come on, Scully.”

“I’ll admit it’s odd, but if your theory were correct, and letting out his true feelings would ‘break the spell’, so to speak, wouldn’t it have stopped raining by now?” She gestured out the window where it was indeed raining cats and dogs.

Mulder paused, trying to remember the order of events. “I don’t know how it works, exactly,” he said defensively. “All I know is we came here because of a drought, and that case appears to be closed.”

“I guess you’re right about that, although I don’t know how we’re going to explain this one to Skinner,” Scully groaned. Mulder knew that, as much as she’d indulged him while on this case, she really couldn’t wait to go home.

“So you concede?” he pressed. 

“That a man can control the weather? No!” Scully said with finality. “You’re not going to convince me of this, Mulder. Correlation does not equal causation.”

“Mark my words, Scully, the man has a superpower.” The events Sheila described weren’t random occurrences, of that Mulder was certain. 

Scully shrugged. “I guess I just require more than you to believe,” she said simply. “I always have.”

That we can agree on,” Mulder conceded. Scully raised an eyebrow in that way he could never quite tell was flirting or not; the one that gave him permission to cross certain boundaries but left him unsure of how far he could go.

They sat quietly for a few moments and Scully sipped her champagne. When she brought the cup away from her lips he couldn’t stop staring at her mouth. He couldn’t help it; sometimes her tongue would slide out to catch a spare drop and it was distracting. 

“So what did Holman say to you, anyway?” she asked curiously. “You should try... what sometime?”

Mulder knew exactly what Holman had meant, and he was pretty damn sure Scully knew it too. But his mouth turned dry, and he was unable to tell her the truth.

“I don’t know,” he lied. “Maybe try to… get a life?” 

“Haven’t I been trying to tell you that for years, Mulder?” she asked. 

“Yes,” he agreed, “and you’ve both been exactly the same amount of effective.”

She chuckled. “Well, what do you call this?” she asked him, gesturing around the room. “We’re cooped up in a motel room together in our jammies drinking champagne and hanging out together. That’s… fun, isn’t it?”

He nodded. “I like fun.”

“Well, so do I.” She looked slightly affronted that he might suspect she wasn’t interested in having fun. Her tongue rolled across her bottom lip again and he couldn’t tell if she’d done it on purpose or not.

He stood up and started wandering around the room, opening drawers. He wasn’t really sure what he was looking for. “Wonder if there’s anything fun to do around here.” 

...Besides each other, was the inappropriate conclusion to that phrase that made its way into his brain.

Mulder shooed away the thought and opened the drawer to the nightstand, finding a deck of cards. He pulled them out to triumphantly present them to Scully, and before he could stop himself, the words flew out in that way they usually did: that playful, never-gonna-get-there, just kidding around way.

“Strip poker?”

It was just a joke, a tease. He never in a million years thought she’d take his suggestion seriously. Which made it all the more surprising when she replied.

“Sure.” She shifted her body to face him, legs crossed underneath her. “Why not?”

He felt a chill envelop him, pure nerves from head to toe, and had a flashback to eighth grade when he’d played strip poker in Graham Stewart’s basement. It was the first time he’d seen a real pair of breasts and the image was permanently seared onto his brain, regardless of the hundreds he’d seen since, whether in real life or just on screen.

His anxiety manifested in an audible gulp. He felt his Adam’s apple bob, and as Scully raised an eyebrow he thought how appropriate. It was as if her willingness to engage in such a forbidden activity was that very apple lodged in his throat. She was tempting him, and Scully rarely tempted him, at least on purpose. He could feel himself hardening at the mere suggestion, and prayed she wouldn’t notice.

If he continued down this road of thought, they wouldn’t get very far into a game without him visibly embarrassing himself, so after inwardly cursing the unfairness of being born a warm-blooded male, he did his best to mentally shake off his nerves and sat down next to her on the bed with a grin. He shuffled the deck a couple times. 

“You’re serious?”

“Dead serious,” she shot back. “Unless you’re worried you’re going to lose.”

He narrowed his eyes at her. He loved it when Scully was competitive.

As he dealt the cards, he couldn’t help but take stock of what both of them were currently wearing: him, his sweatpants, a T-shirt, underwear and socks. Her: a very promising ensemble of merely a two-piece silk pajama set, whatever lay beneath it, and socks of her own.

Well. They already had quite the head start.

Scully held up her cards directly in front of her face and peered over them at Mulder. She glanced down at them, discarded and drew a new one. He saw a barely suppressed look of glee pass over her face and wondered if Scully was any good at bluffing, but immediately retracted that absurd notion. Of course she was.

He looked at his own cards and saw two pairs. Satisfied, he looked back up at her. “What’ve you got, G-woman?”

She laid down her hand with a smile, revealing a pair of aces. Grinning, he showed his. With a dramatic, heavy sigh, she stuck her leg out along the edge of the bed, leaned forward and grabbed the toe of her sock. She pulled straight up and it slid off, slowly. He could tell she wasn’t trying to do it in a seductive manner, but Scully had a knack for unintentionally seducing Mulder in the most incidental moments.

She tossed the sock to the floor and pulled her leg back beneath her, obstructing his view of her naked foot. He found it adorable, given the fact that very soon, at least one of them would be baring much more to the other if they followed the rules.

And Dana Scully always followed the rules.

“Your deal,” he said, handing her the cards. She grinned at him wordlessly, shuffled and dealt. He looked at his hand and was greeted with a most welcome sight of three queens. This is all too easy, he thought. Suddenly getting Scully naked wasn’t the insurmountable feat he’d previously thought it might be. 

They showed their hands, and Scully let out another heavy sigh of defeat. He watched her face this time as she removed her other sock and for the first time since they began this endeavor he saw a tiny glimpse of trepidation. If she lost one more time, things were going to get incredibly intimate.

“Hey,” he said, because he felt like he had to. “This was a stupid idea. Maybe we should just watch TV.”

She looked up, and any apprehension he’d noticed was instantly gone. He saw the same Scully that had shot him in the shoulder because she had no choice, the same Scully that had offered to fall on his sword as she lay dying. The same Scully that had saved his ass innumerable times. 

“No,” she said. “Not before I get those boxer shorts.”

His heart stopped in his chest. He couldn’t believe what he’d just heard her say. She grinned at him, and he wondered if maybe she was being affected by the champagne, but neither of them had even finished one cup. 

“I don’t see it happening, Scully,” he said. “Not the way you’ve been playing.”

She threw her cards on the bed. “I have a strong feeling my luck is about to change. Shuffle, Spooky.”

He laughed, shrugged, and dealt. As if the universe had indeed suddenly swung in her favor, he looked at his cards and was greeted with absolutely nothing. Not long afterwards, they were tied: two socks each. Their four socks co-mingled on the ground, his draped over hers, and it felt oddly ilicit. They looked at each other, knowing what would come next. The inevitability hung in the air, like heavy moisture he knew couldn’t possibly exist in Kansas.

Mulder tugged at the neck of his T-shirt. “Is it… getting hot in here?” he asked.

She shook her head slowly. “No, but I’ll bet you’ll be getting much cooler pretty soon,” she said playfully. 

She was right. Scully held a full house, and grinned with delight as Mulder stripped off his T-shirt. He tried not to notice the way she bit her lower lip when he did so. That line of thinking wouldn’t do him any favors at the moment. But he’d been wondering for the past twenty minutes just what exactly she had on beneath those pajamas, and he finally got his answer: she wasn’t wearing anything underneath her top. Either there had been a sudden inexplicable drop in temperature he couldn’t detect, or perhaps it was something… else.

“What are you looking at, Mulder?” she asked curiously.

“Oh, nothing,” he said guiltily, looking up quickly.

Luck was on her side the next hand as well, and Mulder was already down to just his pants. She downed the last of her champagne and refilled her cup as she watched him strip down to the last article of clothing between her and victory.

It occurred to Mulder the last time she’d seen him this stripped down was in a decontamination shower at Fort Marlene. Things had been strained between them at the time, and while they’d both certainly stolen a glance at one another, it had been no time to be thinking about her in the unpartnerly way he’d become accustomed to. Now it seemed she was reveling in the sight of him, and he couldn’t be quite sure if it was his state of undress or the fact that she was winning that had her so excited, but he’d take it. Anything to see that smile.

The next hands were dealt, and when he saw Scully’s face turn beet red he knew exactly what was about to happen.

Pants or top, he wondered. He couldn’t make up his mind which he’d rather see go.

She folded her cards facedown on the bed and slid off until she was standing right next to him, so close. He took one last look at her fully clothed body, and when she slowly tucked her thumbs into the waistband of her bottoms and began to slide them down her legs, the impact of such a moment almost knocked the wind out of him. He kept his eyes glued to her hands as they moved, every excruciating inch revealing more creamy skin to him.

She stepped out of them, first one leg, then the other, and kicked them aside. His body was frozen to the spot. She stood in front of him and crossed her arms in front of her chest, and as she did so her pajama top bunched a little, revealing a tiny sliver of her underwear. It was simple: white cotton, hugging her in all the right places. It made him think of Oregon. It made him think of trust.

She scrunched her face up a bit, and for a second he worried she would back out of this somehow, that she’d never actually intended to get completely naked in a motel room with her partner while on a case. That she was going to put a stop to it here and now. But she clambered back onto the bed, sat on her calves, and looked him right in the eye.

“My deal.”

He didn’t want to change her mind. He wanted to see just how this would play out. So he didn’t say a word and let her deal the hand that would undeniably change everything. He picked up his hand, looked down, and after discarding and drawing, arrived at his moment of truth.

Three kings.

It was good, but Scully had been granted some unbelievable luck tonight. He eyed her, searching her face for a sign, but she revealed nothing this time: as enigmatic as ever. She discarded two cards and drew, keeping her eyes plastered to the deck.

“Let’s see what you’ve got,” she said with a completely straight face.

He laid the kings down gently on the bed and watched her face, wanting his answer from her, not from the cards. And he got it: a slight flicker in her baby blue irises that gave her away. He looked down at what she’d laid on the bed and saw three queens.

She looked him in the eyes and this time it was something new, something dangerous. They’d reached a line and were about to cross it so easily, simply because if they didn’t it would be breaking the rules.

He met her gaze with intensity, and for a moment it felt like a legitimate standoff; was she waiting for him to put a stop to this? Was he waiting for her to?

Did either of them even want to?

Her finger suddenly moved towards the button of her pajama top, and in an instant he knew this was going to happen. She started to unbutton it, her eyes never leaving his. He felt his erection twitching inside his underwear and suddenly, this wasn’t a game anymore. Scully was about to reveal herself to him in a way he hadn’t earned, at least not in the way he wanted to earn it. 

He didn’t want it to happen this way: because she’d lost a game. He wanted it to happen in a moment when they both felt like they’d won.

“Wait,” he said, and his hand shot out to stop her own, covering it. 

Her eyes lifted and met his, and he looked at her intently, the are you sure? implicit. He hoped she understood, hoped that he wouldn’t have to ask. They’d denied so much of themselves to each other over the years, it wasn’t uncommon for them to listen only when they weren’t talking. Only when they spoke with their eyes. 

She didn’t speak. Instead, with her other hand, she reached out to touch his bare chest, the contact electric, and he inhaled quietly when she did it.  She looked intently at his skin where her finger grazed him, from the top of his pectoral muscle to the bottom, carefully avoiding his nipple; just testing the waters. 

Perhaps it was simply their current closeness, the heat traveling from his wanting body to hers; perhaps it was the proximity of his hand to her accessible breast. Maybe she just couldn’t handle the pressure anymore. It had never been more clear to either of them that this entire thing, all seven years of their waiting and wondering and longing was about to erupt like a volcano.

Whatever the reason, she leaned forward ever so slightly until the tips of his fingers were grazing her breast through the silky fabric. Her own fingers squeezed his a bit, giving permission. Please, she seemed to be saying. Please touch me. Her eyes closed, as if she wanted to indulge in this tiny bit of release without the messy implications of locking eyes with him, without either of them acknowledging that it was even happening.

He dragged his fingertips along the curve of her breast, Scully’s breast, and realized he’d been holding his breath this entire time. She gave up any plausible deniability that this was simply an accident by pulling his eager hand directly against the firm, round expanse, and he cupped her fully, squeezing gently.

Jesus fuck, he thought. Fuck

They’d been traveling on this trajectory for so long, crossing tiny lines one by one, becoming so enmeshed with one another that suddenly being able to touch her like this, in however small a way, seemed like the most enormous thing that had ever happened to him.

His eyes couldn’t make up his mind where they wanted to land: her beautiful face or her perfect tits, and her head lolled slowly from side to side as her mouth dropped open a bit. She let a tiny moan escape, and the idea that barely touching her could elicit such a reaction made him so hard he was worried he’d misfire. He was suddenly aware of the television playing in the background; some action hero defusing a bomb that counted down slowly and surely towards an explosive end.

Her eyes opened and she looked right at him. Getting up onto her knees a bit, still holding his hand firmly in place, she then glanced downward into his lap. He knew he would never escape this. He knew she would see how aroused this was all making him, as if she could fool herself into believing otherwise. And before he could even process the fact that Scully was looking at his massive hard-on, he didn’t have to, because she was reaching for it.

Her fingertips lightly grazed his shaft through his boxers, the entire length of it, as if she were measuring it. As if she were taking notes. Every nerve ending in his body was aflame, and he wanted her to wrap her little hand around his cock so badly he involuntarily thrust his hips a bit towards her, the same way she had presented her chest, and to his great surprise and delight she responded. She gripped his length and he felt himself losing his mind: his eyes were rolling back into his head, his breathing was erratic.

“Scully…” he whispered, the first word either of them had uttered since this new world arrived.

“Mulder,” she replied, just as softly. 

His heart was pounding, and at first it was a low thrum in his chest but was gradually moving into his ears, a persistent rumble.

Suddenly they were back in his hallway, and she was leaning in closer, wanting to kiss him, wanting to take this further than “just friends.” As if they’d ever been “just friends.” As full as his mind generally was of monsters and aliens and Samantha and any number of non-Scully related topics, he couldn’t think of a damn thing he wanted more in this moment than her lips against his, not a damn thing. 

The rumble he was hearing was suddenly so loud he couldn’t believe it was just his heart. Maybe it was Scully’s too; maybe they both wanted this so badly that their bodies couldn’t physically contain their excitement.

Maybe that was it, maybe it was both.

Maybe it was neither, he realized in an instant. 

Suddenly he was aware the entire room was beginning to shake. Pictures slid down the walls, Mulder’s neglected cot toppled away from the wall. An acrylic display full of brochures that proclaimed “Visit Kroner!” fell off their perch near the door.

What the hell was happening?

Scully’s eyes widened, her hand letting go of him, and as he reluctantly released her as well he saw in her face a brief expression of utter exhaustion. Why was the universe so dead-set against them? 

“Get in the doorframe!” Mulder commanded, assuming an earthquake was happening. Scully ran over to the bathroom and situated herself within the frame, and Mulder flung open the front door to do the same. Before he could feel too much regret at their missed opportunity, there was an enormous cracking sound beneath them. 

His brain began working its usual overtime, and where it landed was surprising even to him. 

Where was Holman Hardt at this very moment? 

It was a Mulder hunch, for sure, but he’d learned to trust those over the years. What if Holman’s love confession was merely a prelude to the extent of his powers?

Suddenly Mulder was no longer convinced this was a mere earthquake, as visions of flying cows danced through his memory. Thoughts of what he and Scully had very nearly begun moments ago flooded his brain, and the realization that it was highly likely Holman and Sheila were off somewhere at this very moment doing exactly the same thing hit him like a hurricane. 

“We have to get out of here, now!” he yelled at Scully.

She didn’t argue, and he was grateful for this convenient departure from her norm as she darted towards him across the room. He took her hand and they ran outside as a loud rrrriiiiipppping noise tore after them. He felt heat, he felt pressure. And after they’d run across the parking lot half-dressed in their bare feet for at least twenty yards, he spun around and saw what he could only describe as molten lava pouring out of their door.

“What the hell?” Scully asked, thoroughly confused. “Is that… what I think it is?!”

Mulder nodded, heaving a heavy sigh, as liquid magma spilled across the parking lot. Neither of them could quite speak aloud its absurdity but it seemed there was indeed a volcano erupting in the middle of the Cool View Motor Court.

“Do you believe me now, Scully?” he said, his voice triumphant, a wide grin spreading across his face.

Scully didn’t reply, still in utter shock. Several other guests were now pouring out of the motel in a panic, screaming in confusion. The bedraggled manager in her bathrobe and curlers was among them. 

After a couple of minutes, as the shock began to fade, the manager made her way over to Mulder and Scully. “You two all right?” she asked.

They nodded, and she eyed their lack of attire curiously. Mulder noticed Scully had gone as red as the molten magma seeping across the parking lot, and he shifted his body to attempt to grant her a modicum of privacy. 

Lava spurted from the top of the motel as the Cool View Motor Court went up in flames with the quite plausible passion of a man who probably hadn’t been laid in years.

Well, Mulder thought with bitter disappointment. At least someone got lucky tonight.

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

v. noise complaint

 

 

“Skinner’s a tough man to shake up,” Mulder remarked as he followed Scully into her motel room, kicking off his shoes and throwing his coat on a nearby chair to make himself at home. “This case is hitting him pretty hard.”

They’d been called late last night to report to North Carolina as soon as possible. One early morning flight and a long car ride later, and they were in Winston-Salem. Most of the day had to be spent navigating the fine line between trying to comfort Skinner and admitting they were dealing with something unexplainable, the former being made useless by the latter. 

Mulder had gone off to investigate with Skinner while she was left at the county morgue conducting the autopsy. It’d been a long process trying to find any evidence to report back with, and that, combined with all the traveling they’d had to do, had made her body sore and achy. Mulder must’ve noticed her discomfort because as soon as she’d kicked off her heels, he’d pulled a chair in front of the bed and motioned for her to hop onto the mattress.

Ever since they’d made love for the first time after he’d gotten back from England, it was like the floodgates had opened and seven years of sexual tension had washed over them. She’d always thought post-coital bliss was a temporary high one had after coming down from the peak of passion, but Mulder was proving to her that post-coital bliss was a way of life and that sometimes an afterglow would never dim. 

He had been nervous about what would happen after finally being together so intimately, fearing that she may regret it and the walls he’d been slowly breaking down since he kissed her during the New Year’s Eve ball drop would be erected again higher than ever, but that fear was assuaged every time he remembered her sweet kiss on the lips and the simple reassurance of a smile. There’s no going back now.

She grinned at his enthusiasm and hopped up on the edge of the bed, wordlessly putting her feet in his lap as she unbuttoned her jacket. It was hard keeping their hands to themselves in the field. For years people had been speculating they were sleeping together and they’d continued their lives unbothered, but now that they were, every touch and open expression of intimacy felt like a target on their backs. Mulder had noticed that was one of the primary things that made her nervous about this new step they’d taken, so he had been on his best behavior when they were in front of other people. 

Now that they were alone, she could see the fire dancing in his eyes.

He started rubbing the soles of her feet with extreme care, watching her face to gauge how she felt. She smiled at him in reassurance and had to make an effort to keep her eyes from fluttering shut and moaning from just how good it truly felt. “How did it go with Skinner today?” she asked, her voice coming out low and smooth. 

“We went to the Morley headquarters,” he replied, rubbing his palm against the heel of her foot. “They seemed more concerned about covering their own asses than trying to figure out what happened to the man who’d been working there for years. Dr. Voss even said he’d been friends with Scobie for fourteen years but didn’t even seem broken up that he was silenced,” Mulder explained, judgement heavy in his tone.

“Did you ask them about your bug theory?” she asked, setting her jacket to the side of her on the bed, leaving her in her purple tank top and black skirt - a sight she saw Mulder immediately enjoying as his eyes roamed her bare skin.

“I showed them the bug, and that’s how I learned it was a tobacco beetle. But they didn’t seem fazed by the fact it was found in Scobie’s home,” he responded, his ministrations on her feet sliding slightly higher onto her leg - a gentle seduction. “But I don’t want to talk about the case right now,” he murmured, his hand starting to slip under the hem of her skirt. 

Before she had a chance to respond, he’d leaned forward and closed the gap, lifting her slightly so she was further on the bed and he could nestle himself on top of her. “Mulder,” she laughed, bending her legs a bit so her skirt inched higher and he could press himself closer. He silenced her with a kiss on the mouth, deepening it almost instantly so his tongue could glide against her own. 

This was the first time they’d been in a motel room since they’d gotten together. It almost felt taboo. She’d spent so many nights dreaming of Mulder coming into her room and kissing her this way, and now it was actually happening. Her hand reached up and she raked her fingers through his short, spiky hair, smiling at the way it seemed to encourage him.

Scully felt his knees bump up against the backs of her thighs, causing her to spread her legs even more as she felt his erection rub against her inner thigh. He pulled back and littered a few wet kisses on the exposed skin of her collar bone, whispering “I. Missed. You. Today,” in between every one. 

She felt a rush of arousal course through her at the sensation of him on top of her, but she couldn’t help but worry about the consequences of crossing this boundary. He must’ve sensed her apprehension because he pulled up so that his face was hovering over her own. “I can feel you thinking,” he reprimanded throatily.

“We’re on a case,” she whispered breathlessly, still dizzy from his kiss and the sensation of his erection rubbing against her underwear.

“I know, it’s a fantasy come true. I’ve wanted you all day,” he whispered while leaning down to kiss her again, only stopped by the turn of her head.

She turned back in time to catch his bottom lip starting to pout as his brows furrowed. Raising a hand, she pressed her palm to his cheek, watching as he pressed himself into her touch. “I want you too, but that’s exactly why we need to set some boundaries. I don’t want this to distract from the case. You have some of your best ideas in motel rooms,” she explained.

“Yeah, and I think I have my best one yet,” he murmured, rocking his hips against her center and smirking when she gasped. “Besides, we already had sex in our office,” he reminded her with a waggle of his brows. 

“And as much as I enjoyed that,” she offered with a smile, “it can never happen again. We need to be careful. Also, it’s different when we’re just going to be with each other after work. Here we’re supposed to be focusing on the case. If I’m spending all day thinking of what I want to do to you when we get back to the motel or thinking about what we did last night, I’m not going to be able to concentrate,” she explained.

“I respectfully disagree,” he murmured before kissing her and backing up, removing his weight from her. “But if that’s what you really want, I’ll be on my best behavior.”

His statement was almost comically ironic as he stood there with a massive tent in his pants, and she lay gasping on the bed with her skirt around her hips - her arousal no doubt evident to him. “I’m sorry,” she offered, leaning herself up and pulling her skirt down with shaky hands.

He raised a hand up and shook his head with a soft smile. “Don’t be sorry. I never want to do anything you’re not comfortable with. Just prepare for me to ravish you as soon as this case is over,” he explained.

God, how she loves this man.

She smiled at him and eased herself off the bed, watching as he collected his jacket and made his way to the door. “I’ll be eagerly awaiting you to follow through with that offer,” she teased, following him to the door.

He glanced up at her while slipping on his shoes. “Oh, it’s not an offer. It’s a promise,” he replied with mock severity, adding a wink for good measure. He was about to turn towards the door when he suddenly turned back around. “Oh, by the way,” he murmured, reaching to search through his jacket pocket. “Since our rooms aren’t connected, I got a spare key to mine in case you need it.”

She took the key offered to her with a smirk and replied, “I can’t imagine that I will.”

He grinned at her and she could still see the fire burning behind his gaze. “Just one more to tide myself over,” he whispered before maneuvering his head down and capturing her lips with his own. He wrapped his hands around her, one on her back and one cradling her head, as he pressed his body flush against hers. 

Her body reacted instantly, melting into his as he playfully bit her lip before soothing it with his tongue. She still felt his erection pressing into her hip, and she couldn’t help but rub herself against him, swallowing his moan as she tried to convey how much she did truly want him with her kiss.

After a moment of softcore heavy petting, he pulled back and exhaled slowly. “Wow,” he grinned, looking down at her with hooded lids.

She felt her heart hammering in her chest and her pulse in her groin as she pulled away. “Goodnight, Mulder,” she stated with coy innocence. 

He had a doofy grin on his face as he bid her goodnight, exiting the room with one last longing glance.

As soon as the door was shut and she was left in the room, she felt a gnawing sense of loneliness. She knew it was ridiculous. He was only a room or two away and she’d see him first thing in the morning, but her entire being craved his presence. 

She changed into her pajamas and got ready for bed with that lingering sense of longing hanging over her like a blanket. Everything about the room made her think of how much better it would be if it were complemented by him: her red toothbrush would look better next to his blue one, her clothes on the floor would look better tangled with his, her bed would look better with Mulder’s body in it. 

Scully lay in bed with a sigh and turned off the light, resigning herself to staring at the flaws on the spackled ceiling. How many nights had she put herself to bed in just this way listening to Mulder on the other side of the wall? Wanting to go in and lie with him? Anytime she had allowed herself that comfort, whether it had been under the guise of a nightmare or a flawed motel amenity, he’d always greeted her with a smile and an expression that said I’m so glad you’re here.

Whipping off the covers, she muttered, “Fuck it,” under her breath.

She hadn’t spent all these years yearning to be with him only to choose to be alone.

She stepped into her slippers, ready to go run to his room, when an idea struck her. With an excited smirk, she whipped off her sleeping shirt followed by her pajama shorts and put on her robe, tying the sash around her waist like a present ready to be unwrapped.

The door clicked shut behind her as she read the numbers on Mulder’s key. Room 203. She walked down the hallway, passing the room separating theirs quietly. Without even knocking, she opened the door and slipped inside, pausing only to move the ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign to the other side of the door.

Just like all the other times she’d visited Mulder’s room, the television was playing at a low volume as it cast a prism of colors across the white sheets. She toed off her slippers silently as she watched his head peek out from beneath the blankets. “Scully?” his voice called out softly. He sat up and watched her as she came to stand at the foot of the bed. “Are you okay?” he asked, cocking his head to the side as he tried to read her expression.

“I changed my mind,” she whispered, grabbing the end of her sash with one hand and pulling it until her robe parted in the middle, revealing herself to him. She shrugged her shoulders and let the silk of the robe fall from her skin, falling silently to the ground. He watched her like a lion sizing up its prey and it made a shudder of excitement ripple through her body. 

Mulder licked his lips and threw the covers off to the side, pausing only to turn off the television and haphazardly discard the remote, bathing them in the gentle glow of the moonlight coming in from the open curtains. “Come ‘ere,” he murmured, whipping his shirt off eagerly. 

She crawled onto the bed and over his body, straddling his lap with him lying down. Her arousal was lined up perfectly with his rapidly burgeoning hard-on, and she kept eye contact with him as she rocked her hips on top of his, her wetness dampening the fabric of his boxers.

His hands grabbed her bare hips as he helped encourage her gyrations, bucking his hips upward against her. “Do you have any idea how sexy you are?” he rasped, his Adam's apple bobbing in his throat as he swallowed thickly. 

“Only what I see in your face,” she responded softly, grabbing his hands and trailing them up her body until they arrived at her breasts. Mulder cupped the aching flesh in his hands, shifting their weight around tortuously as she arched her back into his touch. “Mulder,” she whispered in ecstasy as his fingers found her nipples, rolling them in between his fingers before rubbing his thumbs back and forth.

“Crawl up here,” he requested, his voice laden with arousal.

“I did,” she sputtered, her head lolling onto her shoulders as she enjoyed the talents of his hands. 

“No, crawl up here and grab onto the headboard,” he clarified, scooting back and lying down with his head on the pillow, bringing her with him.

Her brow furrowed in confusion before she realized what he was asking. She felt a gush of arousal leave an even larger wet spot on his boxers at the mere idea of straddling his face. “Are you sure?” she asked, licking her lips.

“Scully, I’m more sure about this than I am about UFOs,” he nodded, moving his hands from her breasts to her ass in encouragement. 

She couldn’t help but smile at the overt sexuality of this position. She watched him underneath her for as long as she could, crawling over his abdomen, his chest, and then his shoulders, until his grinning face disappeared beneath her. She was facing the wall as her hands reached out to grab onto the wooden headboard. 

“Is this good?” she asked, her chest heaving with excitement.

“So good,” he replied, his hot breath hitting the wetness of her sex and making her shiver.

She’d been nervous to lower her weight onto him, not wanting to suffocate him, but it seemed as if that was exactly what he wanted her to do. He wrapped his hands around her thighs and pulled her down until she felt his nose brush against her and his mouth latch onto her. “Jesus Christ,” she gasped. Her mind flew wildly to Clyde Bruckman’s prophecy of the manner of Mulder’s demise, which she’d brushed off as a joke at the time, but now she was rethinking her hasty dismissal. She instinctively jumped in aroused surprise at his insistent mouth, but his hands were a vise on her legs, keeping her in place while his tongue swirled around her swollen nub. 

Her fingers tightened around the wooden headboard and she saw her knuckles turning white. She still was nervous about making sure he could breathe, but she couldn’t keep her hips from pumping up and down against his mouth, adding little rhythms of pressure against his tongue. He’d only just started, but she could already feel a familiar coiling in her gut. The first time he’d gone down on her, she swore she’d never felt anything as good before. However, Mulder was the most intuitive man she knew, and he seemed to be reading her pleasure like a book.

She couldn’t help the throaty moan that ripped from her lungs as he hummed against her, sending vibrations directly against her clit. Scully felt herself press against the headboard and lean down on him a bit more, undulating her hips like a figure eight against his greedy tongue. She was rocking so much that occasionally the headboard would bend too far back and hit the wall behind it, but it was a distant sound behind her own mewlings and encouragement of yes, Mulder, please.

As he moved his mouth against her, she could feel his scratchy chin rubbing against her opening, undoubtedly getting soaked wetter and wetter. She had a passing thought wondering if there was a pool of her own arousal gathering at the hollow of his throat, and the thought only fueled her more. “Muh-Mulder, I’m c-close,” she whimpered, her voice an octave higher and breathier than normal.

He tightened his grip on her legs and flicked his tongue back and forth rapidly against her clit. She couldn’t help the sounds of pleasure tumbling from her lips as she continued shamelessly humping his face, desperately awaiting the unravelling of the tightly wound spiral deep within her belly. “Oh my God! Mulder!” she cried, her whole body quivering and trembling as he helped her ride out her orgasm. She swallowed lungfuls of breath as she tried to come back down to earth. 

A sharp rap came from the wall which she thought she might be imagining at first.

Mulder gave her such intense orgasms that often after coming, she went temporarily deaf, only able to hear ringing in her ears for a few seconds. Then a high pitched trilling, sounding warped as if she were underwater, overcame her, and she couldn’t help but giggle.

It wasn’t until Mulder gently tapped her ass that she realized it wasn’t her usual auditory hallucination, it was the motel room phone ringing next to them as she trapped Mulder in place with the death grip of her thighs. “Oh, sorry,” she breathed, rolling over so that she was on her back next to him.

Mulder eased himself up on his knees, facing her as he reached over and picked up the motel phone. “Hello?” he asked, the entire lower half of his face glistening with wetness. He eased his boxers down his thighs and pulled them out from underneath him as he nodded, “Uh-huh.” 

Scully bit her lip and watched his erection bob against his stomach, the glare of the moon illuminating every inch. He was smiling and she wasn’t sure who he was talking to. “I heard that too,” he responded, pinning the phone between his shoulder and his cheek. He took himself into his left hand, circling his precum with his thumb before stroking himself idly. Scully was trying to understand what he could possibly be talking about, but her focus kept getting drawn to the way he was rolling his wrist against himself. His cock was red, throbbing, and pointed straight at her.

She jumped when she felt him place his other hand in between her thighs, rubbing her sensitive clit with his middle and ring fingers. She bit back a muffled whimper as she ground herself into his hand, noticing the way the movements of his other hand picked up speed as she did this. “Yeah, no, not from my room, but from the sounds I heard, I wish it was,” he replied with exaggerated severity. 

She felt a sudden realization crash over her and her face flushed in embarrassment. Mulder winked at her as if to say she shouldn’t be, before ending the phone call. “You too. Goodnight.”

He hung up the phone before crawling in between her legs with a cocky smile.

“What was that about?” she asked, even though she was positive she knew the answer.

Mulder shrugged. “Manager. Apparently there was a noise complaint.” 

“We got a noise complaint?” she asked, horrified, clapping a hand over her mouth. She tried to remember all the sounds she’d made during her enjoyment.

“It appears not everyone enjoys a siren’s song,” he tsked in mock disappointment. “But I certainly do.” He grinned lasciviously, bending down to kiss the sheen of sweat on her breasts. 

She’d never been one to be loud with her other partners, but with Mulder she couldn’t seem to help it. He turned her on so much that the moans and whimpers and pleas tumbled from her lips without her even being conscious of it.

“I’ll be quiet,” she whispered, spreading her legs wider as his tip brushed against her swollen lips.

He grabbed himself in his hand and parted her cleft with precision, lining them up. “Don’t be,” he demanded before plunging all the way into her.

She gasped loudly in pleasure, arching her back, and he started laughing. “Good, I want to hear you,” he chuckled.

She knew Mulder loved to hear her moan just as much as she liked the things he did that made her moan. She swore sometimes just hearing her voice was enough to drive him crazy. As much as she wanted to turn him on right now and reciprocate the pleasure he’d just given her, a noise complaint was dangerous territory. She didn’t want to do anything that would raise suspicion if it got back to the bureau.

Mulder withdrew torturously slowly before thrusting back into her, angling his hips so that he’d rub against her G-spot. She bit her lip and furrowed her brow as she swallowed a moan. “Scully,” he groaned, pumping his hips against hers, the sounds of skin against skin contact slapping against the walls of the room.

She raised her legs and wrapped them around his waist, reeling from the sensations of his hips grinding against her inner thighs, their arousals pressing together as intimately as possible as he slid in and out of her. He leaned over her, bracketing her head with his arms so that his weight was on her a bit more, his adonis belt sinfully rubbing against her pubic mound, stomach against stomach. “Oh my-” she began, stopping herself with another bite to her lip. 

Mulder bent down and kissed her on the mouth, causing her lips to pucker against his. She was just about to deepen the kiss when he leaned back up, a bead of sweat trickling down from his hairline. “I want to hear you, Scully. I want to hear how I make you feel.”

She knew this would give him the pleasure she wanted to reciprocate, so she nodded. “Okay,” she whispered.

He moved his hands and grabbed her wrists, taking them both in one hand and trapping them over her head. “Is this okay?” he grunted, rolling his hips against her when he bottomed out inside of her.

It was more than okay, and the gush of arousal that coated his cock and the way her eyes all but rolled into the back of her head had to have told him as much. But she knew he wanted to hear her say it. 

“It feels amazing,” she moaned. “You feel amazing.”

With his free hand he grabbed one of her breasts, squeezing and kneading it before moving to the other. He bent his head to capture her nipple into his mouth and suckled on it mercilessly, lavishing her with his attention. A throaty groan escaped from her lips as she arched her back up, desperate to have as much contact with him as possible.

In this position she felt like she was completely and utterly his, completely vulnerable to him in every way. Mulder, of course, used this position to give her as much pleasure as possible. She felt like a bundle of live wire in his hands thrumming all over with charge. Every single bolt of pleasure in one part of her body was magnified by his attention, making her dizzy with arousal.

He picked up the pace and was starting to slam into her, the entire bed creaking as she writhed beneath him. “Oh my god, yes Mulder,” she cried out, her whole body pressing against him as much as she possibly could, as if she was trying to meld their bodies into one. 

He took his hand from her breast and brought two of his fingers to her lips. Taking the hint, she lifted her head and drew the digits into her mouth, swirling her tongue around them as she hollowed her cheeks and stared into his eyes.

“God, you drive me crazy,” he grunted, curving his fingers in her mouth before withdrawing them slowly, wiping away some remnants of saliva off her chin before bringing the fingers down to her clit.

She whimpered loudly at the contact as he started rubbing her, while snapping his hips against her so hard her breasts were bouncing wildly on her chest. “I’m so close, Mulder,” she pleaded, rolling her hips against him.

He angled his hips in a way that, combined with his fingers and the position, had her seeing stars once again. “Mulder!” she shouted, lifting herself on her heels to buck against him. She felt him hardening before he spurted hotly inside her.

ScullyScullyScully,” he chanted as he drove himself as deeply into her as possible.

Soon enough, the only sounds in the room were that of their mixed breathing. He let go of her hands, delicately bringing each wrist against his lips and pressing a kiss to them before collapsing next to her, then dragging her spent body against his. 

They lay there, catching their breath as they lovingly pressed kisses to each other’s faces and wiped hair out of each other’s eyes. “I’m so glad you changed your mind,” he murmured, stroking small circles onto the skin of her back. She swore she could hear the tiny inked snake encircled there hissing with satisfaction.

She felt her eyes grow heavy as Mulder pressed a kiss to her forehead. “Me too,” she nodded, with a smile. She could get up in a few minutes; she wasn’t ready for this moment to end quite yet.

Her eyes slowly blinked open as she became aware of the sound of Mulder talking. “Uh-huh. Alright sir, I’ll be down as soon as possible. Yeah, I’ll meet you in the lobby.” She lifted herself onto her elbow and looked over him at the alarm clock on the nightstand. 

5:37.

She hadn’t intended to fall asleep in his room, but it seemed her body couldn’t resist the temptation to curl into Mulder’s side, his arm thrown around her, and drift off into sleep while he'd played with her hair.

She wiped her eyes and sat up fully, smiling at him when he mouthed good morning. His happy face faltered as he listened to the other person on the phone. “Oh, um, I think she mentioned it wasn’t working yesterday,” he frowned, scratching his chest idly. “No, no, that’s not necessary, sir. I can go wake her up. Scully isn’t a morning person, she’s really grumpy. You don’t want to face her wrath,” he explained, giving her a teasing look.

Her brows furrowed in confusion as she watched him hang up the phone. “What was that about?” she asked, her voice raspy from use. 

“Skinner,” he replied. “Another body has been found and he needs us downstairs stat so we can drive to the scene. Apparently he called your room first and was worried when you didn’t answer.” 

“Shit,” she exclaimed, rolling out of bed and grabbing her robe. 

“I told him we’d meet him in the lobby, and he seemed to buy it,” he explained.

“Okay,” she nodded, brushing her hair back from her face. “Meet me in the hallway?” she asked.

“Will do,” he replied, standing up and giving her a quick peck on the lips as he made his way to the bathroom.

Scully went into her room and dressed as quickly as she could, trying to ignore the dull ache between her legs. She was glad Mulder had been able to think on his feet and cover for her, but she still couldn’t help but feel worried that Skinner suspected something. 

When she met Mulder in the hall and walked with him to the elevator, she could tell he wasn’t concerned in the least.The doors opened to the main floor of the hotel and she could feel her heart pounding. She straightened her skirt compulsively when they walked across the lobby to meet Skinner, but instead of the look of judgement she was expecting, he just looked exhausted. “Thanks for meeting me so quickly,” he greeted them.

“Sorry I missed your call, sir. I was having a bit of trouble with my phone last night,” she explained, having practiced the sentence over and over again in her head during their descent in the elevator. 

“I don’t think it’s just yours, Agent Scully,” he replied, motioning for them to follow him to the coffee bar. “Apparently the entire phone system in the hotel was acting up, mine included.”

Scully felt her body freeze. “You’re... staying at this hotel, sir?” she asked, trying to hide the worry in her voice.

“Yeah, I’m on the second floor,” he replied with a nod. She glanced over at Mulder with wide eyes behind Skinner’s back and he just mouthed ‘I didn’t know’ with a shrug.

“Did you two get any sleep?” Skinner asked as she snapped her attention back to him.

“I did. Very peaceful. What about you, Mulder?” she prompted, turning to him and appearing to look curious about his answer.

“Oh, yeah. I feel very refreshed,” he responded with an overenthusiastic nod.

Skinner sighed and fixed his coffee. “Well I’m glad someone was able to sleep. My room was next to a couple enjoying themselves a little too much, if you get my drift,” he muttered. “I’d be surprised if there wasn’t a hole in the plaster.” 

Scully felt her entire face flame crimson and she started fixing her own coffee to look preoccupied.

“That loud, huh?” Mulder prompted, with a smirk.

Skinner nodded with a frown, “I had to file a noise complaint it was so bad. Usually I don’t want to be that guy, but Jesus. Some guy named Miller apparently has many talents.”

“Wow,” Mulder chuffed with a laugh. Scully looked at him with absolute mortification but it seemed he was enjoying himself entirely too much.

“Yeah, wow’s right. It sounded like my bed was next to a jack hammer operated by a woman having a heart attack,” he continued, sipping his coffee, every word a further ding at her pride. She had never truly bought into Mulder’s theory of spontaneous human combustion, but she wished more than anything that she could just go up in flames right now. 

Skinner must’ve mistaken her embarrassment for discomfort and he quickly tried to shuck it off. “I’m sorry, Agent Scully, that was inappropriate of me. We should get going,” he replied. He looked like he was about to start moving when he stopped for a moment. “By the way, what are your room numbers? I’m having some files sent here from D.C, and I’ll ask the front desk to put them in your rooms.”

There was a beat of tense silence before Scully swallowed thickly and meekly mumbled, “Uh, room 205.”

“That’s right next to me! And you didn’t hear anything?” Skinner asked with incredulity.

He looked at her expectantly and she was too embarrassed to look him in the eye so she quickly darted her gaze back to the ground. But then she realized that looked suspicious so she tried to look back up confidently. “Um, no. No, I didn’t hear anything. I sleep very deeply, sir.”

“Very deeply,” Mulder sniffled loudly, and she sent him a pointed glare.

“I don’t understand how they didn’t wake up the entire damn floor,” he replied in disbelief before turning to Mulder. “And your room number, Agent Mulder?”

Mulder let out a little groan and a shrug before stating. “I, uh, I forgot,” he lied.

“It’s on the back of your keycard,” Skinner replied helpfully.

Slowly, like a man being sent to his execution, Mulder extracted his card, flipping it over to pretend he was looking, and mumbled so she could barely hear him, “203.” 

She watched as Skinner’s face remained a perfect catatonic mask. The only sign he heard anything at all was the twitching of a vein on his forehead. Then, ever so slowly, as if she could visibly see the wheels in his bulbous head turning, his mouth twisted into a frown.

“I see.”

They all stared at each other, a wave of awkwardness washing over them. Skinner finally rolled his eyes and wiped a hand across his face, stopping to pinch the bridge of his nose. “I’ll get those files sent to your rooms.”

“Sir-” she started, ready to try some lame excuse.

He raised his hand to stop her. “I just hope Agent Mulder lowers the volume the next time he wants to enjoy the hotel’s adult offerings.” He glared at Mulder. “Right?”

Mulder’s mouth gaped as if to defend himself but said nothing as Scully elbowed him. “Um. Yeah, now that I think about it, I was watching something…. not very family friendly.”

“I’d prefer it if you kept the personal entertainment off the bureau’s bill, Agent Mulder.”

“Check, sir,” Mulder replied dutifully. “I definitely won’t be… indulging tonight, because I’m going to be so engrossed in those files. Right, Agent Scully?” 

“Yes. I’m going to give them my all as well so we can solve this case,” she lamely replied.

“I trust that you will,” Skinner stated, eyeing them both. 

They watched as he turned to make his way to the front desk, and when he was out of earshot she whispered, “I can’t believe he heard us.”

“I can,” Mulder whispered. “Your performance was absolutely magnificent.”

She smiled, allowing her humiliation to fall away at his compliment. “Well, your performance was nothing to sneer at, either.”

“A jack hammer?” Mulder repeated with unabashed pride in his voice. She began to say something but he stopped her with a raised palm. “Before you say it, I think we can both agree it should be my line now.”

She gently took the edge of his jacket between two fingers and led him out of the lobby, rolling her eyes, saying it anyway.

“Shut up, Mulder.”

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

vi. adult supervision required



As far away from the darkness as they could get.

For him, that was wherever Scully was. For as long as he’d known her, she was and continued to be the endless source of light that kept him going. But if he needed to find a geographical location for the sake of symbolism, he was going to try his damnedest to do it right. However, finding a vacation destination that could capture the hope she gave him was proving to be a difficult feat.

She’d offered to help him many times, but he wanted to do this himself. He wanted to impress her. To make sure she knew he was taking this seriously - that he was taking them seriously. He could tell she was a little apprehensive, no doubt accustomed to the decades worth of one star motel rooms and unsavory destination choices, but she was conciliatory to his pleas, probably curious to see what he’d choose when left to his own devices.

Mulder had quickly replaced cutting out newspaper articles and spending all of his time on internet conspiracy forums in favor of looking at travel brochures and vacation hot spots. He wanted to take them somewhere breathtaking where they could just enjoy themselves. 

If her reaction was any indication, he’d done a pretty damn good job.

Scully saw the Maldives on her ticket, then on the boarding monitor, but she didn’t seem to believe it until they touched down and got off the plane. “Mulder,” she’d whispered breathlessly, her mouth agape as she took in the landscape.

“Did I do good?” he asked, watching her face and knowing nothing around them could possibly be more beautiful. 

She looked up at him and gave him a beaming smile followed by a series of kisses. “You. Did. So. Good,” she giggled.

Her spirits were high as ever the entire taxi ride to their resort, but he couldn’t help but worry about one small detail he’d left out. He didn’t think she’d have any issue going along with it, but he hadn’t really realized until this moment how much he wanted her to have a positive reaction to the information.

“There’s one catch,” he murmured, grabbing her hand in his. 

“Hmm?” she replied, taking in the sights all around her with unabashed awe. 

Leaning closer to her, so that his arm was around her shoulder and his mouth against her ear, he whispered, “It’s illegal for unwed couples to stay in the same room, so if anyone asks, you’re my wife.”

She let out a little chuckle of amusement, and he felt a small twinge of hurt that the prospect of being his wife was funny. She must’ve seen it on his face because she raised her hand to his cheek and stroked it reassuringly. “A rule breaker even on vacation, I see.”

“What can I say? I like keeping you on your toes,” he teased, turning his face to kiss the inside of her palm. “Besides, maybe it’ll be fun to not live in sin for a few weeks, even if only in our imaginations.”

Scully leaned forward and captured his lips with her own, only breaking the kiss when her smile became too wide. When she pulled back she gave him a faux stern look. “You can’t call me ‘Mulder’ though. Our neighbors might get confused if we start screaming the same name in bed.”

He felt his loins stir at the promise of what was to come, and a lascivious smile broke out on his face. “I like where your mind’s going, Scully,” he murmured, brushing a piece of hair behind her ear.

The flight had been nineteen hours from D.C. and that, combined with the taxi ride to the resort and the cart ride to their bungalow, had them both stirring with excitement to be by themselves. Scully’d had a permanent smile plastered on her face since they’d checked in and while it hurt him to think of how long it had been since he’d seen it, he was touched to think he put it there now. “What’re you smiling about?” he asked, throwing his arm around her as they rode the cart, the resort breezing past them in hues of sparkling blue and blurs of orange, lit tiki lamps. 

“Reservation under Fox Mulder. Fox Mulder. I can’t remember the last time I heard that,” she laughed, resting her hand on his thigh.

While they were on the run they’d had to adopt new aliases at every motel. But not anymore. He was no longer Matthew Mann or Harry Park or Kevin Cargill or any of the other fictional disguises. He was simply Fox Mulder on vacation with the love of his life, Dana Scully. “It feels good,” he replied, hugging her tighter to him.

“Yes, it does,” she agreed, turning to look at him with a contented smile. He felt his breath catch in his throat at how beautiful she looked. It wasn’t just the way her hair was being blown by the wind, or the newly purchased blue sundress complementing her frame, or how her skin glowed under the dim lights, but for the first time in what felt like forever, Scully looked blissful. Carefree.

Happy.

Unable to contain himself, he drew her to him, and kissed her passionately, his hand entangling in her long tresses while she kissed him back with equal fervor.

“Ahem,” a voice coughed, interrupting them.

Scully pulled away shyly, hiding her smile behind her hand while Mulder looked at the resort attendant who’d managed to stop the cart without Mulder even noticing. “Your private bungalow is just down this dock,” he explained. “This is a semi-private beach cove. You have neighbors, but they’re several yards away on either side.”

The kid hopped off and began to grab some of their luggage. Mulder got out and helped him despite the attendant imploring that he could do it himself. The sooner he could swoop Scully into his arms the better. They got everything situated in the anteroom of the bungalow and Mulder tipped the kid before locking the door. Scully raised an eyebrow at his generosity, knowing Mulder would rather lift every last bag himself than cough up a couple of bucks as a tip. 

He shrugged. “I’m sparing no expense on this trip.”

“Oh my god, Mulder,” she exclaimed when she turned around, her eyes darting around frantically since there was so much to take in. 

“I know it’s not the threshold, but-” he started before surprising her by lifting her into his arms bridal style, carrying her into their space for the next three weeks. 

She giggled and held onto him as she looked around. “Mulder, you can see the ocean through the floor!” she exclaimed, pointing downward. 

He glanced down and saw what she meant; there were little glass spots littering the floor where the blue water was clearly visible, sending watery refractions of light dancing across the wooden walls. “It smells like sea breeze,” she mused happily. 

He let her down with a kiss before investigating the rest of the place. It was without a doubt the most breathtaking place Mulder had ever seen and from Scully’s exclamations as she entered every room, she clearly felt the same. He felt his chest swelling with pride every time she looked at him with excitement, pointing to something beautiful she wanted to share with him.

They stopped at the back deck and she unexpectedly threw her arms around his shoulders, standing on her tiptoes, and pressed a warm, wet kiss to his lips. He let his hands fall to the graceful curve of her hips as he stood there with her, swaying slightly as they kissed. 

She drew back but it felt like the kiss was continuing from the amount of love beaming in her eyes. “Mulder, this is perfect. I’m blown away. I don’t know what I expected, but this is beyond my wildest dreams,” she praised breathlessly.

He beamed at her and tucked some of her windblown hair behind her ears, cupping her cheeks in his hands. “I’m glad you like it. It was between this or the Davy Crockett Motor Court,” he explained.

She furrowed her brows exaggeratedly and deadpanned, “That’s a tough one. I don’t know how you were ever able to decide.”

He smiled in response and pressed a kiss to her forehead, each cheek, and the tip of her nose, before finally pressing his lips sweetly against hers once more. When he pulled back he took in the sunset behind her and was struck by the small irony.

“Hmm?” she hummed in response to the small chuckle that escaped his lips. 

“I promised to take you away from the darkness, and as soon as we get here the sun sets,” he mused, motioning to the sight behind her a nod of his head. 

She turned her neck to look over her shoulder, taking in the shades of day deepening into the twinkling night. It was a pristine twilight that was glowing on the translucent water, making it seem endless. “I-I know the past few years have been hard,” he began, getting her attention back on him.

She looked up at him and patiently waited for him to continue. “I feel like I’ve dimmed some of your happiness over the years with my relentlessness, and I just can’t help but think of all you could have had without me-” he explained shyly, shifting his weight from one foot to the other.

“Mulder,” she chided, interrupting him. 

“But,” he continued strongly. “I know you’re with me because you want to be, and as much as I can’t believe I’m lucky enough to deserve it, I want to work hard so you never regret it.”

She was pouting, her bottom lip sticking out as her brows furrowed. She was looking at him with so much affection and love it was almost overwhelming, and he felt a little awkward at being so openly vulnerable when they were supposed to be having fun. 

“Mulder,” she whispered sternly. “I’ve never regretted a day.”

He didn’t believe that could be true, but he didn’t want to spend the beginning of their vacation bringing up reasons why she should. Scully must’ve been feeling the same because she reached down and took his hands in her own. “I don’t want to hear you doubt yourself, Mulder. I love you. Let’s leave the darkness behind, okay?”

Mulder nodded softly with a conceding smile and followed her as she pulled on his hand. “Let’s go walk on the beach,” she said excitedly. “I can’t wait to dip my toes in the ocean.”

Their bungalow was just a few meters away from the shoreline and it was stunning. They walked hand in hand as he took in lungfuls of the cool salty air. He still couldn’t believe he was here with her, halfway across the world, away from everyone they knew.  “We’ve never been able to do anything like this before,” he mused with a smirk.

“You mean, travel halfway across the world when one or the other of us isn’t dying?” she asked for clarification.

“Not what I meant,” he replied, chuckling, his feet sinking into the sand with every step. “But very true. I was more so talking about being out so publicly, though.” They’d had to hide their relationship from the bureau as soon as it started, then they were apart for so long, and then when they were finally together they were either running and hiding their identities or he was trapped at home.

“Hmm, you’re right,” she agreed.

“I mean,” he started with a joyful laugh, turning and pulling her against him suddenly. “I, Fox Mulder, can do this to you, Dana Scully, and no one can tell me I can’t. No Skinner, no Kersh, no Bureau here watching over our shoulders,” he stated.

He went in for a kiss but she put her hand up to stop his advance. “You mean, you, Fox Mulder, can do it to your wife,” she corrected him, looking around surreptitiously.

“Still feels good,” he grinned before kissing her passionately.

She giggled against his mouth but melted into his touch as his hands started roaming her body. He pulled back only to lower his lips to her neck, pressing a series of kisses to where her shoulder and neck met. She let out a little hum of contentment and arched her back into him. The cool breeze from the ocean hit them and caused her dress to flutter in between his legs, her hair cascading across his face and blinding him. 

Mulder laughed and pulled back, trying to brush it away from his face. 

“Sorry,” she chuckled. She took a few steps away from him towards the water, looking down and moving her feet playfully against the sand. 

Despite the hour, it was still hot on the beach and he wished they’d changed into their swimsuits before coming out here so they could cool off. Then, as suddenly and powerfully as a lightning strike, he had a brilliant idea.

“Have you ever skinny dipped, Scully?” he asked, a challenge in his voice, already moving to unbutton his shorts.

She shook her head, her hair swishing in between her shoulder blades. “Mulder, no,” she laughed, turning down his suggestion as well as answering his question.

“Mulder, yes,” he replied. His pants and underwear fell to his ankles as he whipped off his shirt, discarding them all haphazardly in the sand.

He poked her softly on her shoulder before murmuring, “Tag, you’re it.” 

Before she had a chance to respond, Mulder was running, to the best of his ability, through the sand towards the ocean. “Mulder!” she exclaimed with a burst of laughter.

He let out a little squeak of surprise as the cool water hit him, but after getting used to it it felt like a relief from the balmy heat of the night air. He turned around when he was chest deep and was ecstatic to see Scully shimmying out of her dress. “Keep going, g-woman!” he beamed with a boastful gesture.

She put her finger to her lips and glanced around her to make sure no one was watching their nighttime streaking. Once she’d reassured herself that she was safe, she eased her panties down onto the pile and took off running towards the water, her breasts bouncing obscenely on her chest with each step.

“Holy shit,” he chuckled, his dick standing at attention immediately. 

She let out her own squeal as the water washed over her legs and she eased herself in. “What?” she asked, treading lightly as she swam towards him.

“That was hotter than any Baywatch scene ever made,” he stated confidently, standing far enough back that the water was up to his shoulders while he watched her with a smile.

“Yeah, I’m sure,” she chuffed with a laugh. Her hair was only half submerged, the top half looking as styled and perfect as when they left their room, while the ends clung to her bare, porcelain skin. 

He offered his arms out to her and was pleased when she swam right into his embrace, wrapping her arms around his neck as her feet pressed against his legs. Mulder placed his hands on her bare hips to help steady her, looking her straight in the eye. “You can’t touch here, can you, short-stuff?” he asked, amusement poorly concealed in his tone. 

“Let go,” she instructed playfully.

He did as she said and she removed her feet from him and held her hands up parallel to the sides of her head. She smirked at him all the way down as the water engulfed her until it was just her hair floating at the surface. 

Scully broke the water with a gasp and brushed the wet tresses back, smiling as she blinked him into focus. “It appears not,” she mused mirthfully, gently treading the water in front of him. Turning her head back to the shore, she took another glance to make sure no one was privy to their indiscretions. “I can’t believe you got me to skinny dip on the first night,” she chuckled, turning back to him to add with a smile, “I can’t believe we’re even here.”

The water was crystal clear, so even with the only illumination being the moonlight and tiki lamps on the shoreline, he could see the warped visage of her body, the perfect half-orbs of her breasts settled at the surface of the water. “Your boobs are floating,” he mused playfully, lifting his hands to brush against her nipples. She giggled and swam away from him playfully.

“I feel like I’m one of the girls in your old magazines, the ones miraculously unaffected by gravity,” she teased with a toothy smile, her head and shoulders bobbing up and down in the water.

“Well,” he started, grabbing her forearm and dragging her to him, letting her stand on his legs again while she held onto him. “They couldn’t even begin to compare to you,” he murmured, pressing a kiss to her sternum. 

Scully hummed in pleasure, raking her fingernails against his scalp before jumping in his arms with a gasp. “Something just brushed against my leg,” she giggled, looking down.

“What did it feel like?” he asked. 

She laughed and leaned back towards him. “It was probably just a fish,” she mused.

A shit-eating grin broke out on his face and she cocked her head, only to squeal as he arched his hips against her again so his erection brushed against her inner thigh. “Is that so?” he teased.

“I’m not sure,” she teased, moving her leg against him purposefully. “I think I might need to investigate.”

Without warning, she sank down into the water in front of him. He felt her hands skim down his torso, along his hips until-

“Holy shit,” he groaned. His whole body shivered as he felt the unexpected sensations of Scully taking him into her mouth. A few bubbles floated to the surface as she released him momentarily to press open mouthed kisses along his length. He felt her ankles wrap around his legs to keep her from floating upwards while she steadied herself with one hand curving against his leg, the other wrapping around the base of his cock.

Her tongue started flicking over his sensitive head before she went down on him again, bobbing her head against him while stroking what she couldn’t fit in her mouth with her hand. Her hair was floating around her head, a few errant strands wandering and tickling his stomach.

Mulder had never felt anything like this before and he felt his eyes roll to the back of his head as he enjoyed her ministrations, the only sign of her presence being the gentle waves she was causing in the water. She was able to do it for an impressive amount of time before he felt her let go and come up for air, taking in a lungful after spitting the water out of her mouth like a fountain statue.

“How were you able to do that without seeing?” he asked, panting.

“Call it lover’s intuition,” she laughed, pushing her hair back with both hands and inadvertently squeezing her breasts together. “I’m an expert when it comes to you.”

“God, you’re so sexy,” he rasped, pulling her back to him so that her arms were around his neck again, her legs wrapped around his middle. 

He put one hand on her hip as the other cupped her pubis mons. His fingers parted her folds and he could immediately feel the difference between the water and her arousal coating his fingertips. He started rubbing her entrance tauntingly, pushing against her but not quite going in. Scully gasped in pleasure, but grabbed his wrist. He looked at her with a raised brow and was pleased with himself when he saw her breathing was already heavy. “Don’t penetrate me in the water. I don’t care how clear it is, it’s still a breeding ground for bacteria,” she explained breathlessly.

He licked his lips and nodded, resulting in her letting go of his wrist and putting her hand back onto his shoulder. “No penetration in the water. Got it,” he whispered, retracting his fingers slightly so that they were concentrated on her hard bundle of nerves. Scully gasped, her jaw falling slack as she squeezed his shoulders tightly.

“But is this okay?” he murmured against her open mouth, rubbing her back and forth in firm strokes.

“Y-yeah,” she nodded before closing the gap and latching her mouth onto his, gliding her tongue as smoothly against his as his fingers moved against her.

He could feel waves around his calves and he knew she was sporadically kicking against the water so she could bob back down, humping his hand and using her leverage in the water for momentum. 

“Mulder,” she whimpered. Her body glided against his from her movements and her nipples felt like pebbles against his chest. “S-so, good.”

“That’s it, honey,” he coaxed, rubbing her mercilessly. He was unabashedly humping her leg while she clung to him, and refraining from moving her on top of him and thrusting into her was proving to be an intense battle of wills. 

Scully seemed to be feeling the same need, and she reached down to pluck his hand away, placing it against her back. She lowered her body until she was pressed against his throbbing cock and began to drag her slit up and down, up and down, along his rock-hard length. Her movement was agonizingly slow and he felt his eyes rolling back into his head. She was driving him absolutely insane.

It seemed she was driving herself just as insane because she then gasped, throwing her head back as she came. Her breasts looked beautiful in the moonlight and he watched as pearls of water moved down her torso. He couldn’t help but lean forward and capture a pert nipple into his mouth, swirling around the rosy peak before moving to the other one as she rode out her pleasure. She was quivering and trembling in his arms so hard as she came that it looked like the water around them was vibrating.

“Take me to the shore,” she rasped, still recovering from her orgasm. 

“Shore?” he asked with a raised eyebrow, wanting to know if she meant what he hoped she meant. “Not our room?”

“Don’t make me ask again,” she teased. 

Without another word, he picked her up in his arms and navigated her floating form towards the shore until he was carrying her out of the water. Something about Scully breaking the rules turned him on insurmountably and he felt like his legs couldn’t carry them fast enough. He could feel the tip of his erection tapping against her ass as he walked towards their clothes, and he couldn’t wait to be inside her.

Mulder let her down onto her feet gently, laughing as she swayed on wobbly feet. He gathered their clothes, laying them down on the sand to the best of his ability to create an impromptu blanket. Scully eagerly helped him with the task, pausing only to do another visual sweep of the surrounding area. Turning to him with a satisfied smile, she commanded, “Get on your back.”

Following her instructions with unabashed enthusiasm, he settled down on the makeshift blanket, nuzzling his back against the clothes so the sand would flatten beneath him. He watched as Scully swung her legs over him and eased herself down onto her knees, however, she was facing away from him so that her back was to him, her ouroboros tattoo seeming even darker on her fair skin in this lighting.

Scully looked over her shoulder and winked at him, grasping in between her legs and finding his throbbing cock. She gave him a few encouraging pumps before easing his reddened tip inside of her. 

They’d tried every position under the sun, but this wasn’t one in which they often dabbled. He leaned himself up on his elbows so he could watch their joining from this erotic perspective.

She faced the ocean and placed her hands on the ground in between his knees where their clothes covered the sand, leaning forward as she impaled herself on him, her lips spreading around his girth as she accommodated every inch. From here he could watch as each thrust into her caused his cock to become more and more coated with their mixed arousals, resulting in a glistening sheen covering the skin where they met.

“Fuck, Scully,” he groaned, pumping his hips upwards and watching as her ass pressed against his Adonis belt.

She let out a throaty moan as she lifted herself up before sinking back onto him. His arms reached up and gripped her hips and helped lift her up and bring her back down, his elbows rubbing against her calves pressed against his sides with every downward stroke.

Her long hair was plastered in strips along her elegant spine, shifting as her shoulders flexed with the momentum of gyrating herself against him. Mulder watched as beads of water ran from the ends of her hair and down the expanse of her porcelain back before falling into the crease where her ass began.

He moved his hands from her hips to her backside, groping her cheeks and kneading the flesh. She moaned and halted her thrusts as she sat on him fully, choosing to undulate her hips against him while they were connected as intimately as possible.

Mulder sat up and wrapped his arm around her middle, bringing her up so that her back was flush to his front. She was panting as she let her head fall back against his shoulder, resting there so that they were cheek to cheek. He slid his other arm around her and maneuvered himself so that one hand was going from breast to breast lavishing them with attention as his other hand moved to her clit, rubbing her mercilessly with his hard on still buried inside of her.

“Mmm-Mulder,” she moaned. She was trapped by his arms which kept her from moving too much, but she was still squirming and bouncing lightly in his lap as best she could.

He angled his head down so his mouth could latch onto the erogenous zone on her neck, sucking lightly on the pulsing tendon under his tongue. She tasted like an exquisite blend of salt from the ocean and her sweat. He felt Scully clenching her muscles rhythmically around his cock, squeezing him playfully. He laughed against her neck and mumbled, “I love it when you do that.”

“Mmm,” she murmured. “I love it when you do everything.” 

He let out a throaty laugh that she matched, which quickly morphed into a moan as he plucked at her hardened nipples. 

“Let me turn around,” she whispered breathily. “I want to see you.”

He withdrew his fingers and watched as she stood up on shaky legs, turning around and easing herself back down on top of his thighs with a knee on either side of his hips. She ran her fingers through her tangled hair and tossed it over her shoulders, getting it out of the way. From here he could see her face illuminated by the glow of the lamplight, her makeup smudged slightly under her eyes and her freckles standing out prominently as she beamed at him. She looked stunning.

“I love you,” he murmured, raising a hand to the side of her head and stroking her cheek lovingly with his thumb.

“I love you too,” she said, rocking forward so that her clit hit his balls. 

His cock bobbed eagerly against her stomach, the leaking tip resting at her bellybutton. It always turned him on seeing this representation of how deep he could go inside of her. She grabbed him and started stroking him firmly in between them. “You feel so good,” she exhaled, easing herself up onto her knees so she was hovering over him.

He angled his hips so that he was aligned with her and she rocked her hips back and forth, grinding his head against her slick, swollen folds. She let his crown rub against her clit before she pushed him back against her opening, leaning back so she could sink down on him - uniting them once again. She moaned loudly as her inner thighs pressed against his hips - his cock buried deep inside of her, bottoming out against her cervix. He was harder than ever and she could tell he was about to explode. “Fuck, Scully,” he groaned, bucking upwards and making her breasts bounce on her chest once again.

She put her hands on his shoulders and rolled her hips forward so that she was rubbing her clit against him, pumping herself up and down on his length while her muscles flexed against him from the effort. Her face was a perfect map of her pleasure as she rode him, her brows furrowing, her eyes overflowing with lust, her lips pursing as she tried to stifle her whimpers. He loved this part more than anything - seeing what he did to her. 

The stars were scattered across the sky behind her head, and from this perspective, it felt like they were just blending into the heavens. Two constellations come to life and mingling together in the most intimate way possible. 

“I-I’m gonna-,” Scully stated in a staccato whisper.

“Me too,” he replied. She pushed him down with her hands and let them rest on either side of his head while she used her entire body to ride him. He let his hands come up to her hips and simply lay there and watched as she brought them both to the edge - their bodies reaching a crescendo of pleasure together. 

“Mulder,” she cried out. Her muscles gripped him like a vise and caused him to empty himself inside her, moaning as he rocked his hips upwards. Her face was hovering over his as she gazed at him with such an intense look of adoration and love he felt his heart hammer in his chest. 

Scully bent down and captured his lips in a messy kiss, panting heavily against him as she tried to steady her breathing. 

A high pitched whistle startled them both and he felt Scully all but jump off him. She whipped her dress from under his weight and covered herself with it while he grabbed his shirt and put it over his spent penis. They looked over at the source of the noise and had to lift their hands to prevent themselves from being blinded by a flashlight. 

“I’m here, I’m here,” a panting voice called out. 

Mulder squinted against the light and saw the bellhop from earlier, carrying an emergency kit and a life preserver. The kid lowered his flashlight and rested his hands on his knees, trying to catch his breath. Mulder sent a quizzical look to Scully, who he’d noticed had only put the halter neck of her dress on - covering her front fully while her backside was completely exposed. 

Mulder shrugged his shoulders and looked at the kid. “I’m sorry, we didn’t see anything saying we couldn’t come to the beach at night.”

“You can, but I saw her giving you CPR and I came to help,” he replied, looking up at them while holding up his emergency kit. He squinted in the darkness and Mulder could tell the kid wasn’t fully realizing what he was seeing, at all. “Is your husband okay, ma’am?”

Mulder coughed dramatically and Scully eased herself down on her knees, patting his back carefully, following his cue to take the out that had been presented to them. “Thank you so much,” she replied. “My husband just inhaled some water, that’s all,” she explained. 

“Oh,” he replied sadly, lowering the kit to his side. “So... you don’t need any help?” he asked, clearly disappointed his hero moment wasn’t about to happen. 

“No, my wife saved me,” Mulder answered with a smile, patting her naked rear a couple of times. It was actually quite humorous how clueless the kid was.

“Okay,” the bellhop nodded. “Well, be safe,” he instructed before running off in the other direction, none the wiser.

They both watched as he disappeared, before busting out laughing. “So what was that you said about traveling around the world not to save each other’s lives?” he teased.

“If you’d like, I’ll save it again,” she said huskily. She leaned down to kiss him properly, moaning into his mouth, stroking back his hair. He brought his hands to her face, wiping some sand away.

“Mouth-to-mouth resuscitation is much sexier here than surrounded by vicious aliens,” he grinned when she pulled away.

“What aliens?” she winked, and she stood, offering him her hand. 

He took it and got up slowly, feeling some sand uncomfortably clinging to his body as he shook out his clothes. 

They helped each other wipe the sand off of their skin before Mulder took her hand and walked with her towards their bungalow, not caring about their state of undress. While that whole experience had been mind-blowing, there was one small part he wasn’t able to get his mind off of. 

My husband…

It was the first time he’d ever heard those words come from her mouth. Even when they’d gone undercover as husband and wife she hadn’t uttered them. Hearing her voice the words and directing them at him made him feel an intense desire to hear them again. 

He wanted more than anything for them to be true. 

In that moment, walking hand in hand with her with the stars as their witness, his resolve was set. He wanted her by his side for the rest of his life, partners in every sense of the word, for better or worse. 

He was going to propose to Scully. 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

vii. do not disturb



She was back.

It was a strange kind of back; not just back on the X-Files again after so many years, but... back. Back with Mulder again. Back together in the platonic sense of the word she’d nearly forgotten. 

Mulder had asked her to marry him so many times over the years she’d lost count. At a certain point in their relationship, it occurred to her they’d been a romantic couple for longer than they hadn’t, and while that old part of them would never truly leave her heart or her mind, she’d wanted to honor this new them. She’d hoped they would stick around. When she’d finally said yes in the Maldives, it was only when they were free: free of the FBI and its unrelenting vendetta against them, finally free of the darkness.

Or so she’d thought.

Things had gone from very good to bad to worse with them, and it had been nearly two years since she’d thrown in the towel completely, leaving him and their life together behind in their empty house. She’d known she would have to be the one to make a change, for Mulder had fallen into a pattern that he couldn't get out of: looking into the darkness for so long that he’d become blind to everything in the periphery, even her. 

He wasn’t built to give up. But she wasn’t built to be in the periphery. 

She couldn't live with Mulder anymore, not after all of the heartache they’d put each other through. But somehow she couldn’t imagine her life without him either. And maybe that was the reason they were back now, woven together like twine that tied them to their unavoidable journey in perpetuity.

Apparently this time, their journey was leading them after a monster, and while it wasn’t the highest priority in her mind, it was still her job. People were being murdered and if they could help catch a killer, they should.

Mulder tapped the bell on the desk of the woodsy lodge they were checking into in Shawan, Oregon. As they waited, Scully looked around at the kitschy decor, the taxidermied animal heads mounted on the wall, photographs of small men proudly holding up large fish. 

A rather mousy looking man appeared from a back room, dabbing his forehead with a kerchief. “What do you want?” 

Mulder looked around, making a show of taking in his surroundings. “Are you the manager? We’d like a couple of rooms, please.”

The manager looked at Mulder, then over to Scully. “A couple? You two old-fashioned or sumthin’?”

Mulder eyed Scully, letting her take this one. “We’re not old-fashioned, sir, we’re FBI agents,” she said with a heavy sigh, raising her badge. “I believe our Director called ahead?”

The man looked at her badge, then at her again, then at Mulder, and his expression changed from confusion to a pronounced leer more quickly than she’d ever witnessed in a man.

His leer, however, wasn’t directed at her.

“My apologies, please sign in,” he said sweetly as he shoved a guest book at Mulder, completely ignoring Scully. Mulder gave the man an awkward grin and she stifled a laugh, extremely amused at this turn of events.

“Is that… your personal number?” the man asked as he craned his neck to watch Mulder pen his information.

“Um.” Mulder turned a shade pinker. “That’s the direct line… to headquarters in Washington.”

“Oh.” The man looked disappointed, eyed a bottle of rubbing alcohol that sat on the counter. “Well, just around the corner. Rooms six and eight.” He held out two keys. When Scully reached for one of them, the man held it back. 

“He’s in six.” He handed Mulder one of the keys and the other one to Scully. She was so distracted by his obvious attraction to Mulder she didn’t think much of it.

“Thank you,” Mulder said politely, and Scully couldn’t help but notice the manager watching them closely as they walked out of the lobby.

“Subtle, wasn’t he?” Scully teased.

“What is it lately with me?” Mulder asked under his breath. “I’m flattered, don’t get me wrong, but I’m just confused as to where the recent uptick in male appreciation is coming from.” 

Scully chuckled, remembering his tale of a recent proposition from another man in a storage closet. While she enjoyed watching his bemused reaction, it only further highlighted the fact that Mulder, her Mulder, was still extremely desirable. To every gender.

“You’ve always been an attractive man, Mulder.”

His eyebrows reached new heights. “Oh, really?” He grinned and she rolled her eyes as he reached out to chivalrously take her suitcase from her. It was a nice gesture, unexpected and very un-Mulderlike. Not that he wasn’t a gentleman, but he’d typically allowed her the independence he knew she’d desired.

She shrugged. “Why would I lie to you about that? Although most good-looking men only get better with age. You were bound to benefit from that kind of certitude.”

He stopped. Cocked his head to the side. “And what about you, Scully?”

“What about me?”

“You’re honestly going to stand there and tell me you haven’t been beating handsome surgeon-types off with a stick?”

She huffed a laugh. She wasn’t in any headspace to tell Mulder, her technically current husband, she’d indeed attempted to move past him with other men. She also wasn’t in any headspace to tell him she’d failed spectacularly.

“Not as much as you have, apparently,” was all she could muster.

“He’s not really my type.” 

“Seems like you’re his,” she replied.

He shook his head. “You always were great at avoiding the question, Scully.”

She bit her lip, remaining silent, intending to once again prove him right. She was used to it anyway.

Scully used her key to unlock room eight, placing her body between him and her door. For some reason she wasn’t interested in letting him carry her suitcase inside.

“Thanks, I’ve got it from here.”

He didn’t push, and obeyed, setting her suitcase next to her. “Okay. Fifteen minutes? Back out front?”

“Yes, we have to be at the crime scene in thirty.”

“Yeah,” he said in a flat intonation. “To catch a monster.” He said the word ‘monster’ with barely veiled derision.

She tried to decipher the look in his eyes, which wasn’t quite boredom, but the same disillusionment she’d been noting ever since she saw him again outside Tad O’Malley’s limousine. She didn’t like it. Three eyes, two eyes, whatever their “monster” featured across its face, it was out there somewhere, killing people. They were here to catch it, and she needed Mulder’s instincts and expertise. His prevailing “crisis of faith” was disconcerting, to say the least. 

He had started to walk away when he seemed to notice something out of the corner of his eye. He turned back, bent over towards her suitcase and pulled out, to her horror, a leopard print bra that had been dangling out the side. Now it was her turn to change colors, chameleon style.

“Oh. Um…” 

He held it out and she snatched the offending item. “Thanks.”

“Don’t want to lose that one,” he said with a wink. “It always was one of my favorites.”

And with that, he spun on his heels and headed down the corridor. She was still watching him, mouth agape, when he disappeared into his room.



***



She really had forgotten how much fun they’d had back in the day: solving cases, chasing monsters. It seemed like another lifetime altogether; as if they’d been two completely different people. She felt so removed from it now she found herself able to appreciate it more. 

Mulder was still having a tough time admitting they were after a monster, and she found it odd that she was suddenly in a position to convince him otherwise. But she didn’t like when he was this way: without hope, without that eager boyish energy she’d fallen in love with so many years ago. Through perhaps no fault of his own, he’d lost it over the years, and she couldn’t do anything about it at the time but sit back and watch until she couldn’t watch anymore.

He was trying, at least. He was here, and he was healthy, and he seemed to be enjoying himself as much as she was. She’d begrudgingly admitted to him how much she’d missed this, but she was fully capable of admitting it to herself.

Arriving back at the motel after conducting the latest victim's autopsy, Scully flopped her suitcase onto her bed and opened it up to retrieve her nighttime necessities. She searched through item after item for her pajamas with no success. She mentally chastised herself: it had been so long since she’d packed for an out-of-town case she'd apparently forgotten how to do it. 

She considered just sleeping naked, but this wasn’t the kind of establishment in which she felt completely safe to do so. Not to mention the disembodied fox head on the wall that stared at her with beady little eyes. It was disturbing, to say the least, and she shuddered. 

There was only one Fox she’d ever allowed to look at her naked and he was in the room next door.

Knowing there was really only one thing to do, she threw her suit jacket over a nearby chair, grabbed her room key, and went outside, locking it. She walked the standard fifteen feet to the next door, as was customary whenever their rooms didn’t adjoin, and as was also customary, she knocked three times. 

Her attention was drawn to the taunting “do not disturb” tag dangling from the knob, and her head snapped up as she heard the lock turning. Mulder opened the door, an eyebrow cocked. He was wearing sweatpants and a dark gray T-shirt. “You told me to get some sleep, Scully,” he said. “What, you want to join me?”

She was used to his flirting. He couldn’t turn it off, he never had been able to. Ignoring his comment, she cut to the chase. “I just… forgot to pack pajamas.”

Mulder shook his head. “Rookie.” He held the door open, understanding her subtext as always, and while she’d expected this, she wasn’t quite sure how comfortable she was in his space again. 

“I don’t want to bother you, really,” she backpedaled, suddenly very awkward. “I can figure something out.”

He held firm. “You’re never a bother, Scully.”

She wasn’t quite sure why she was so hesitant. Things had been relatively friendly between them lately. But she was starting to realize she wasn’t worried she didn’t want to spend time in his motel room. She was more worried that she really, really did.

“Thanks,” she said, somewhat reluctantly ducking underneath his arm, standing anxiously by the doorway. As she watched the door swing shut, the ‘do not disturb’ tag dangled temptingly on the knob. She felt an unexpected hot flush spurred by a memory: the instinctual impulse she'd always had to put out that sign herself whenever she and Mulder were on the other side of the door. 

She could feel his eyes boring into her back as she glanced at his television, tuned to an episode of The Dick Van Dyke Show. She couldn’t suppress a fond chuckle of remembrance at the domestic exploits of Rob and Laura Petrie, and when she turned around to share a look with him he was already prepared, that lopsided grin the same as it ever was.

He gestured to his suitcase, which was opened on the bed, still packed. Mulder never unpacked on cases; the possibility of some new creature or some new truth to find always precluded any desire to sit still.

Scully sifted through his clothes, an act that she found more difficult than she’d anticipated. The scent of home invaded her nostrils as she picked up his items like olfactory talismans. Inexplicably, she came across what looked like his old red speedo and held it up questioningly, an eyebrow raised.

“That’s not what you think,” he explained. “It’s just underwear.”

“Briefs? Really?” Mulder had always been a boxers kind of guy. This was an interesting development. 

“What’s with the third degree, Scully? First the monster, now me? Boxers or briefs?”

She huffed a silent laugh and shrugged her shoulders, dropping them back into his suitcase. “It’s just surprising, that’s all.”

“It’s the new Mulder. What can I say?”

She smiled at him, and continued searching. Finally she landed on a familiar gray and oxblood T-shirt with a tiny blink-and-you-miss-it Oxford logo emblazoned near the waist. She held it up, asking silent permission, and Mulder made a be my guest wave.

Without thinking, she pulled the shirt up to her nose and inhaled, her eyes peering over at him as he took in this sight with barely suppressed adoration. 

“Definitely meant to take this one with me,” she admitted. “One of my favorites.”

“I doubt I’d have missed it, you little thief,” he grinned. She felt a flush of embarrassment that clearly he’d noticed the other treasures she’d taken with her when she left: a bottle of his aftershave, his alien head mug, a framed newspaper clipping of them after they’d solved a difficult case. “Anyway, keep it, it’s yours.” 

She glanced around his room, which looked pretty much like hers, except a mirror image version. There was another glaring difference.

“Nice wolf,” she smiled, pointing at the furry gray creature mounted on his wall.

Mulder shrugged. “What else can you expect at the Enchanted Hunter Motor Lodge?”

She chuckled a bit. “You sure know how to pick them, I’ll give you that, Mulder.”

He gestured for her to have a seat on his bed, and while she thought it could be a mistake, that it could make things more difficult, she found herself sitting all the same.

“...And which enchanted creature hath this establishment bestowed upon thee?” he asked.

“A fox, if you can believe it.”

“Ah,” he exhaled with a small grin. “Well, I suppose it wouldn’t be the first time a fox watched you sleeping.” He instantly drew his mouth into a thin line, perhaps regretting the words.

“What?” she asked.

“Nothing.” He shook his head. “Never mind.”

“No, tell me,” she prodded. 

Mulder shrugged in that I’ve got nothing to lose way he had going for him lately. She’d been noticing more and more that leaving him had had an effect on his behavior she hadn’t anticipated. She wondered if perhaps it was exactly what had needed to happen to jar him awake. 

“I’ve always loved to watch you sleep, Scully.”

Her heart thudded inexplicably at his intimate declaration, and although she’d known this sort of thing was bound to happen again, she’d feared it just the same. She still worked daily to convince herself that getting back together with Mulder wasn’t an option anymore. She’d found a comfortable stasis of sorts; her life had been cauterizing into something that resembled normalcy again. She’d thought for nearly two years she could finally break free of the powerful hold he’d had over her for the better part of her life.

When he said things like this, she wasn’t so sure she even wanted to.

“You… watched me sleep?” she asked. She couldn’t help it. “When?”

He made his way over to sit next to her on the bed, tentatively. “Not to creep you out or anything, but all the time. Stakeouts. My apartment back in D.C.” He looked right at her. “At home, in bed.”

When he used the word home it melted her. She missed it so much; not just the space but the feel of it; the home they’d made together, as unusual as the circumstances had been. It had been so good. It was his and it was hers and it was theirs. 

“And why did you do that?” she asked.

“Well… I guess when you’re sleeping, I can imagine you’re at peace. You look peaceful.” His expression softened. “And beautiful.”

She stared at him for a moment, trying to recollect all of the times she’d fallen asleep in his presence. She made a mental note to pay more attention to his own peaceful slumber if she were ever again afforded the opportunity. 

He must have misconstrued her silence for disapproval, and he quickly backtracked. “I’m sorry, does that make you uncomfortable?”

“No,” she said immediately, and she meant it. “Not at all. It’s actually making me feel the opposite.”

He smiled. “Good.”

“How… far back would you engage in this particular activity, Mulder?” she asked.

“Well,” he began, concentrating on some vivid memory. “Do you remember that night after Dudley? We did exposure therapy together. For your baths.”

“I do remember that,” she said. “It feels like another lifetime ago.”

“Not to me,” he said. And before she could press him on his meaning, he continued. “You were so brave. You went through with it, and then you climbed into my bed without even asking.”

She felt her cheeks flush. “I think I was more afraid than I cared to let on.”

“I certainly wasn’t going to complain, Scully,” he grinned. “Anyway, you were asleep in a matter of minutes. It was the first time I’d ever gotten to see it. I felt this surge of pride that I’d helped you somehow. You were at peace. And to be honest, it was like a drug. I was hooked.” 

She smiled at this information; that there were things about Mulder she would continue to learn, perhaps as long as she lived. The tenderness he’d possessed at the time to care about such a thing surprised her. The Mulder she remembered was always so hyper-focused on everything, it had seemed, but her. The knowledge that hadn’t been the case at all nearly took her breath away.

“Wow, Mulder.”

He shrugged. “It’s pretty cheesy, I guess.”

“No,” she said instantly. “It’s… it’s really sort of… romantic.”

Her mind wandered to a younger version of Mulder, watching her sleeping form, wondering how he’d felt about her when he did so. She was fully aware that they’d both engaged in more-than-friendly thoughts about the other long before they’d dared to admit it. 

He turned his head to look at her and suddenly she was cognizant of the fact that they were close, very close to one another. On a bed. While on a case. Regardless of the probability of anything untoward actually occurring, they were both aware of the heat between them at this very moment.

“Be honest, Mulder,” she said, trying to lighten things. “Did you sneak a peek that night? In Dudley?”

“I most certainly did not!” He laughed with mock indignation. “I was a perfect gentleman.”

She grinned. “You always were, from what I recall.”

“I was. Well, except on those occasions you didn’t want me to be,” he made sure to clarify, in a suggestive, throaty tone.

A flush of remembrance reddened her cheeks as she thought of all the times he’d behaved, quite welcomed, in a very un gentlemanlike way. 

“I recall those times, too.” 

She felt an unexpected heat between her thighs and crossed her legs, shifting uncomfortably. She missed physical intimacy so badly; not just with another person, but specifically with Mulder. She’d known that was the case whenever she’d attempted to date other men, which wasn’t frequent, and always ended badly. It was Mulder she missed, Mulder she wanted wrapped around her on the nights she only had her hand and her trusty vibrator in her bed. And it was getting harder and harder to keep her arousal under control ever since they’d begun spending all of their time together again. Having him near, seeing how much he’d taken care of himself. Smelling his heady, masculine Mulder scent. It was almost enough to push all of her rational thinking to the back of her mind.

What if…? What if, maybe, they could put all of their baggage aside for a night and simply enjoy each other the way they used to? The way it was before? Just throw caution to the wind and allow themselves some much-needed release? Maybe it could be like old times…

Old times. Back when sex was what they used to avoid talking about all of the things they really needed to.

She shook off the urge, knowing as much as she wanted him, they weren’t ready to take that particular plunge. They’d only just begun rebuilding what had been broken, and she still wasn’t entirely certain if they could get somewhere new, somewhere better. Mulder was still healing; not only from his dark place, but from the pain she herself had inflicted upon him when she left him behind. It wasn’t ego; she’d picked up on as much from his attitude when they’d seen each other again after so long. She couldn’t take advantage of him in such a vulnerable state. If it led somewhere they couldn’t return from, she would never forgive herself.

“Do you remember the last time we did this?” Mulder said, interrupting her reverie.

She wasn’t sure what he meant. They’d done pretty much everything together. “Did what?”

 “Oregon. Sixteen years ago.” He looked around the room. “The colors in here are even the same. It was the last time… well, the last time we ever shared a room while working on a case.”

There were some nights she’d spent with Mulder she’d tried to forget. Moments they’d shared from their past life that, if she thought about them too hard, might swallow her whole. This particular memory jarred something loose inside of her, a feeling she’d held close to her heart for all this time. It was the night he’d told her to move on with her life, just before he’d been abducted. It had very nearly crippled her.

“I remember,” she said gently, and out of complete habit she reached out and rested her hand on his thigh. “I remember all too well.”

“I always felt closest to you on nights like these, Scully,” he admitted. “In rooms just like this. I guess... I just felt like whatever happened in these spaces we shared when we weren’t supposed to, was sacred.”

She felt the same way. Out there, where the monsters lurked and they did their work, was the professional part of them. In here, when it was quiet and intimate and just the two of them, it became personal.

“I try not to think about that night,” she admitted. “I know why now, but at the time it felt like you were giving up on me.” 

There were moments early on in their relationship, at least in their romantic relationship, when she’d still felt so far away from him. He’d held her close in that Bellefleur motel room and talked about a future that she now knew in retrospect he hadn’t believed they’d get. There had been a wall between them, always a wall, built of the things they couldn’t say to one another.

“That was such a strange time, Scully,” he said, and she saw real pain in his eyes as he remembered. “I think I just loved you too much to hurt you again.”

It was odd: now that they weren’t in a relationship anymore, she didn’t feel the same hesitancy to share her feelings. “I wish you would have confided in me.”

He nodded, deep in thought. “I wish I’d done a lot of things differently.”

She wished the same, for them both, and while it wasn’t the first time Mulder had expressed his regret, it was the first time she really believed him. Here, again, in this sacred space they could call their own, she knew it was true.

“Me too.”

They sat in silence for a few moments, and she suddenly wanted nothing more than to see him smile again the way he used to, the way he would when some exciting discovery was within his grasp. 

“Cheer up, Mulder,” was all she could think to say.  “There’s a monster out there, you know.”

“You really think so?” he asked. 

“No,” she answered with a smile. “But I hope so, for your sake. I don’t like this new Mulder, at least not when you’re all mopey.”

“You didn’t like the old one much, either,” he pointed out. 

“That’s not true,” she declared. “It just... got difficult to see him anymore, that’s all.” She reached out and laid her hand across his heart. “He’s in here, somewhere, still believing in monsters. I know he is.”

Mulder stared at the wall, apparently deep in thought. She was reminded of the days he’d done the same when they shared a life together; those moments when she felt like he’d lost his way, and with it, she’d lost him.

“I think when you left,” he suddenly said, still staring straight ahead, “it just got hard to believe in anything anymore.”

Her heart seemed to stop as she took in his words. They hadn’t addressed what had torn them apart; their inability to communicate. She wanted to, but she couldn’t. She still felt like the moment she left this space things would go back to the way they usually were between them. She knew her departure had affected him but never before had she realized exactly how much. Mulder without his beliefs was no Mulder at all.

The truth was, Mulder without Scully was no Mulder at all.

“I’m right here,” she said, no louder than a whisper. “And even though I left, I never stopped believing in you.”

She reached up to touch his jawline, turning his head to look at her. Suddenly she found herself tumbling into his hazel irises the way she had that night in Kroner, and without any thought as to what she wanted or what she was even ready for, she found herself leaning in. 

He met her halfway like he always had, and their lips touched for the first time in nearly two years. It was a sweet kiss, a moment of reconnection they both needed. Like butterfly wings. She was transported back to New Year’s Eve, another lifetime ago. 

When she pulled away her first thought was fear, fear that perhaps she’d led him on, that maybe she was indicating she was ready for something she wasn’t. But he didn’t push. He just gazed at her, and his eyes softened, and although she knew it was ridiculous to think so, she felt like she’d injected a little bit of life back into Fox Mulder. 

“Well,” she said, her talent for not allowing a moment to overtake them as well-fed as ever, “I suppose I should get some sleep.” She stood and turned to face him, hugging his shirt to her chest. “You should do the same.”

He still looked a bit dazed from her kiss, his eyes half-lidded, his lips still slightly parted. There was disappointment in his expression, but although she wanted to stay, she knew she had to go. She hadn’t meant to disturb the balance she thought she’d created in this new post-Mulder life. 

There was no balance, not really. What she was beginning to realize was that there might never be a post-Mulder life.

“Sweet dreams, Scully,” he said softly. “See you in the morning.”

She headed over to the door, opening it a tad and looking back at him with her hand on the knob. 

“Thanks for the shirt.”

“Hope it fits,” he replied.

“It won’t,” she assured him with meaning. “But that’s what I always liked about it.”

She gave him a gentle wave as she exited, pulling the door closed. The “do not disturb” tag dangled there, mocking her once again.

She went back to her quiet room, took off her clothes, and slipped Mulder’s shirt over her head. As it fell down over her shoulders she was surrounded by its scent and it smelled exactly the same as she remembered. He hadn’t so much as switched laundry detergents. 

After her nighttime ablutions, she got into bed, burrowed beneath the covers, and turned off the light. Just before she drifted off to sleep she looked up at the wall where a fox watched her.

Somehow, this time, it felt right.



Chapter Text

 

viii. loyalty rewards



The Four Seasons in Washington was extravagant; even nicer than the slick, modern house Scully had been staying in before it blew up in both of their faces. Their case in the Bronx had wrapped up and with it, they’d finally solved yet another mystery: the mystery of them. They were home again, but not really, not quite yet, and as they approached the hotel room she’d been staying in the past several days Mulder wondered exactly how they’d finally gotten here. 

A lean, a whisper. No more darkness. A candle burned brightly in a cathedral and she’d taken his hand, leaning against him. As they watched the flame flicker he’d known once and for all Scully was right: it was her turn. There would be no more darkness, not from him.

After they’d left the church he’d put on his turn signal to take the route home to Farr’s Corner but she’d stopped him, grabbed his arm.

Take a left, she’d said. He’d obliged with curiosity. 

Now, she inserted a plastic keycard into the slot and beckoned him in, into a space he’d never entered before. He wondered how many nights she’d been paying for this room, considering she’d actually been at their house more nights than she hadn’t over the past couple of weeks.

“Wow, Scully.”

“Not too shabby, right?” She threw the keycard onto the table by the door and went into the bathroom, collecting her toiletries, packing them up.

It certainly wasn’t shabby, not at all. When they’d lived together, before the bad times, he’d always found it therapeutic to keep their home nice. When he’d fallen into his state of disarray, he’d allowed the house to fall with him. He suddenly felt a bit ashamed he hadn’t spent more time fixing it up for her imminent re-habitation, whenever that might occur. 

“I don’t blame you for preferring this space to the house,” he said weakly. “I always did feel a little guilty that you picked a place that felt more like me than it did you.” 

She came out of the bathroom with a small toiletry bag. “I don’t prefer this space, not at all,” she said. “And yes, the house felt like you when I bought it. Leather and wood and Mulder. But it became ours.” She placed the toiletry bag into her suitcase, zipped it shut. Then she stepped over close to where he was standing and regarded him. “It’s always been ours.”

He smiled, a bit hopefully. “You called it ours a few weeks ago, remember? When the Russians were after us?”

She nodded, looked down at her feet with a smile. “I did.”

“It gave me such hope, Scully, that you wanted to come back. That I could have you back again.”

She looked at him with a grin. “Well, you already have me back. But as for the other thing… well, that’s why we’re here.”

“What do you mean?” he asked, hopeful but not daring to ask her the question they’d both been dancing around for months.

When will you come home, for good?

Scully sighed and looked up at him. “Our house… I’ve been treating it like one of our motels.”

“What do you mean?”

“I mean… it’s been a safe space for me again. Where we can be ourselves without the pressures of work. Just you and me and these walls.”

Nodding, he understood. He’d loved every minute she’d spent with him over the past few weeks, months even, but she hadn’t officially moved back home. It was as if they were still only fraternizing; as if she’d been slowly allowing tiny bits and pieces of herself into his life again but hadn’t been able to take the final leap. 

Back in the church, she’d told him she was taking that leap. He braced himself now for the impact he’d secretly hoped for ever since she packed up and left him.

“It hasn’t felt right staying here, at all, Mulder. The nights I haven’t been at home with you… it’s been desperately lonely in that huge bed all by myself.”

He watched her and listened, all ears. 

“It reminded me of all the nights I spent in a room right next to yours, just wishing I had the courage to tell you how I felt. You were right when you said it always seemed like we were closest to each other on those nights; in rooms like this, the nights we shared all of the things we didn’t have to.” She took his hand. “Just the things we wanted to.”

He tilted his head questioningly. “I feel like this is leading somewhere, Scully. Don’t make me wait.”

She smiled. “I suppose I could have come here alone, packed up all of my stuff and brought it back to the house myself. But I wanted you to be here for this, Mulder.” She reached up and cradled his face, prickly with his five-o-clock shadow, between her hands. “I want you to know that I don’t want to walk into a hotel room without you ever again.”

He closed his eyes, blissful in her confession, and covered her hands with his. 

“I don’t want you to,” he agreed. “Ever again.”

She leaned into him and he pulled her into a hug, resting his cheek on top of her head. They just stood there for a while, lingering in the moment, this moment of in between where there were no cases to follow, nothing else to attend to but each other. He heard her sigh contentedly and it was the best sound he’d ever heard. Until she leaned back and delivered her next declaration.

“I’m ready to come home, Mulder.”

The sentiment was more welcome than he’d even imagined. She was his again, finally. And she was so beautiful. She’d always been beautiful, but now there was something new. He could see lines on her face: age, certainly, but he wondered how much of it he himself had put there; how much time she had spent worrying about him, putting up with him and all of his bullshit for so many years. How much time he’d spent focusing on other, less important things. 

The truth was, he was seeing her through new eyes now, and she was more beautiful to him than ever before. It was something he planned to appreciate for as long as life allowed them. 

He pulled her back into his chest. “I've been wanting to hear you say that for a long time, Scully,” he mumbled into her hair, his voice hitched with emotion.

“I know you have, and I’m sorry you had to wait so long for me to say it.”

He closed his eyes, held her tightly. Kissed the top of her head. It smelled like lavender. 

“You’re always worth the wait, Scully,” he said softly. “And I mean always.”

She stood on her tiptoes to kiss him tenderly, and as her lips brushed against his own he swept a bit of her hair out of the way. After a moment his eyes opened and he pulled back a bit, holding one of the fiery strands between his fingertips.

“I was kidding, by the way. About your haircut,” he said. “Of course I noticed.”

She closed her eyes and smiled with relief. “Presbyopia aside, I was a little concerned, Mulder.”

He rolled the hair between his fingertips. “I love it no matter how you wear it, but this reminds me of the way it looked a long time ago, when we first started together. Back before we started sharing rooms.”

Scully settled back onto her feet and looked up at him. “We did in a way,” she clarified. “You were always on my mind, at least. Even when we had a wall between us.”

Mulder nodded. “I can attest to that as well.”

“Do you remember that night in Henrico County? The Chucky and Judy case?” she asked, and he raised an eyebrow.

“How could I forget?”

“That was the night I knew for sure I wanted you back, and it was strange the way it happened. In a motel room, in the middle of a case.” She shook her head. “That damn wall. I couldn’t sleep with that wall there, knowing you were on the other side, knowing I could be in your arms instead.”

He grinned. “I couldn’t sleep either, but only because I was too busy thinking about your ass.” She swatted at him playfully, having not only caught him checking her out on a couple occasions but having been caught herself doing the same.

“I wasn’t lying about that scoot in your boot,” he chucked.

They shared a laugh, and after a moment she reached out to tug on his tie a bit and spoke again. “We’ve had so many moments of clarity in rooms exactly like this, haven’t we?”

Mulder glanced around at the opulent surroundings, then eyed her skeptically.

“Okay,” she amended. “Not exactly like this.”

“I don’t know, Scully,” he said as he looked around. “It just doesn’t feel right if it isn’t ground floor, with a slight odor of mold. Peeping Toms all around.”

“Consider this the room we’ve earned after all those years,” she smiled. 

“Did you have something in mind, Scully?” he asked in a slightly propositional tone of voice. 

“I might have an idea or two,” she said, matching his timbre. “You?”

“Definitely having many, many ideas right now, Scully,” he nodded. “And as you know, I come up with my best ones in hotel rooms.”

She shook her head and laughed. “Mulder, don’t you want to go home?” 

He did want to go home, but something about being in this particular space with her felt important. They’d taken a huge step, perhaps the biggest one they’d ever taken towards their forever. He wanted to celebrate that. 

He leaned down to kiss the tip of her nose. “We have the rest of our lives to be at home. Let’s enjoy ourselves here, now, in the moment.”

She inhaled deeply and closed her eyes. “That’s something I’ve been waiting to hear you say for a long time,” she admitted. 

She backed up against the door, took the ‘do not disturb’ tag off the handle, and opened it, placing the tag on the other side.

“This really is how I like my Mulder, you know,” she said coyly. The door swung shut and her lips curved into a smile as she stepped up close to him.

Mulder held her by her shoulders. “I promise, he isn’t going anywhere this time.” 

“Good,” she whispered as she placed both hands on his chest. He grinned and playfully scooped her up while she laughed, throwing her over his shoulder. She was as light as ever. He flopped her down on top of the bed, hovering over her, dropping his voice an octave.

“How much longer do you have the room?” he growled.

“You’re sure we have nowhere else to be?”

He shook his head. “Inside these walls, Scully, time may as well disappear.”

“For longer than nine minutes, I hope,” she winked. 

He leaned down into her neck and throatily whispered: “I can’t make any promises on that front.”

Out of the corner of his eye he saw her lift one gorgeous, perfectly shaped eyebrow at him, and it was all the invitation he needed to pounce. He pressed his lips to hers as she flung her arms around his neck, arching into him, bringing their bodies close together. Her fingers wove through his hair and he could feel her nails digging into his scalp. 

His mouth left her lips and trailed down her neck, running into what he determined was far too much clothing. He began to pull her jacket off and she sat up, helping him out, removing her shirt as well. He responded in kind, throwing his jacket on top of hers, and as he struggled with his tie she slid off the bed and made her way over to her suitcase, shimmying off her pants.

“Hey, where are you going?” he asked softly.

Scully unzipped the side pocket of her suitcase and rooted around. “Just looking for something,” she said mysteriously. He finally got his tie undone and slipped it from around his neck, continuing to undress until he was down to his boxers. 

She made a sound of triumph as she located the item she was searching for, and when she pulled it out and held it up he felt a thrum of fresh arousal go straight to his dick.

Handcuffs.

The sight of her holding up the cuffs in her underwear, which he now noted with great delight was a matching black lingerie set, made him instantly harder than a man his age had any right to be without the assistance of a pill.

“Fuck me,” he muttered under his breath. 

“That’s the idea,” she said. She began to make her way back over to the bed when he craned his neck to look behind her. 

“Why do you have those? What else have you got in there?” He moved past her with a sly look. 

She grabbed his arm. “Mulder, there’s nothing, come on.”

“Let me see.” He dug around in the pocket and it wasn’t long before he pulled out the item she clearly hadn’t wanted him to find: a small, egg-shaped fuschia vibrator.

“Why, Dana Scully,” he grinned. “I thought you’d lost this.”

“I did,” she said with mock irritation, crossing her arms in front of her chest. “I replaced it. You didn’t think I’d just forget about it, did you?”

He chuckled. “I’d hoped not, actually,” he admitted. “This little wonder has brought both of us no small amount of pleasure.”

“Both of us?”

“Well,” he grinned, bending down to place a kiss on her shoulder. “Your pleasure brings me pleasure, Scully.”

She reached up and placed her hands on his shoulders, giving them a squeeze. “Then let’s get it on, Spooky.”

He bent down to kiss her again, his tongue so hungry for her he couldn’t help but place his free hand behind her neck to pull her in, kissing her harder. She responded in kind and they made out furiously, their moans echoing around the far too grand hotel room. He pulled her against his body firmly so she could feel how much he wanted her, and he was thrilled to feel her desire as well; as she pressed her breasts against his abdomen her hardened peaks could practically cut ice. Wanting so badly to feel them, he tossed the toy behind her onto the bed and cupped both breasts, her nipples hard against his palms, stretching the silken fabric taut. He squeezed gently and she closed her eyes, tilting her head back, enjoying his ministrations.

After he’d gotten his fill, for now at least, he reached down and lifted her by the ass so that she leapt up into his arms, wrapping her thighs around his middle. He walked her back to the bed, the cuffs still in her hand, as they reveled in the feel of their mouths mingling together with no more uncertainties whatsoever.

He laid her down on the enormous bed and settled back onto his haunches to enjoy the sight before him. She was so petite, the bed seemed to swallow her up. He was absolutely ravenous but he wanted nothing more than to give her whatever it was that she wanted.

“What’s first?” he asked.

She held up the cuffs. “You are. Turn around.”

He grinned and obeyed, his cock throbbing with anticipation. The cuffs had been one of their favorite games years ago, and while they tended to switch roles, he knew she loved it best when he used his mouth and nothing else. She’d told him on multiple occasions he had wizard-like talents with his tongue, and he loved demonstrating his powers to her over and over again.

Scully pulled his arms behind his back carefully as he kneeled on the bed. She cuffed his wrists together, leaning forward to kiss between his shoulder blades as she did so. He turned around and waited for her next instruction.

“Okay, Mulder,” she said in a low, seductive voice. “I hope you haven’t forgotten how to do this.”

He shrugged, his hands restrained behind his back. “Like riding a bike. Without arms.”

She smiled eagerly as she unhooked her own bra and tossed it aside. He was unprepared for this small act of mercy and watched her breasts bounce as she scooted back to lie against the pillows, knees spread apart, waiting for him. 

“God, you’re beautiful,” he said, in absolute awe. She smiled in that way she did that let him know how much she appreciated his praise, in any form it happened to arrive. 

“That’s sweet, Mulder,” she said. “Now go to work already.”

He laughed, knowing how much she loved to watch him operate with the cuffs on, and crawled over as best he could on his knees to bend forward, not quite touching her yet, just breathing. Her underwear was already exquisitely saturated, and he inhaled her aroma like it was a lifesaving elixir. “You asked for it, Scully.”

He felt her gasp at his hot breath as he realized he had just as much control over her as she thought she had over him. His eyes flickered up to meet hers and he could see her chest rising up and down as she breathed heavily with impatience.

“Is this what you want?” he asked, his nose nuzzling up against her, his tongue darting out quickly to lap at her over her underwear. She squirmed and opened her legs wider.

She closed her eyes and nodded. “Yes.”

“I want to know how much you want it,” he said, wanting her to beg. 

“I want it so much, Mulder,” she breathed. “I want you so much.”

His tongue darted out again and he dragged it along her seam, over her underwear, the tickling sensations evidently almost too much for her to take as she stifled a squeal. He inched up closer to her face, his hard cock pressing against her. The friction was killing him, but it was the best kind of agony. 

“I want to hear you say it,” he said gruffly, rubbing his erection against her wet heat, the fabric absolutely drenched at this point. She knew what he wanted. She also knew by saying it she would get what she wanted too, so she let loose.

Please, Mulder.”

He felt the blood rushing to his groin as he rocked against her a bit and leaned down to capture her lips in another kiss, a slight hint of Scully on his tongue. She reached around his back and held his bound hands with her own, playing with his fingers as he prodded at her. He then released her lips and moved back downwards to close his teeth around the top of her underwear, tugging a bit, just a bit, slowly and torturously. His arms were already aching and he’d barely begun. He worried that perhaps he was getting too old for this kind of play. But Scully’s moaning was worth every bit of discomfort, so he forged ahead.

She closed her legs to allow him to pull off her dampened panties completely, then in an act of characteristic defiance, kept them locked closed as he moved towards her again. 

“I know you’re trying to tease me, Scully,” he said as he nipped at her breast. “I can tease you, too.” She gasped and arched as he circled each areola with his tongue, one after the other, sucking hard on her rigid nipples, and finally, when she apparently couldn’t stand it anymore, he felt her legs open to him again. 

He sat back to admire her in all her magnificent glory. She lay before him completely nude; supine and ripe. It was the most erotic sight he’d ever seen in his life and he felt his cock growing with every breath she took, every rise and fall of her chest.

“You’re amazing,” he said, because there really wasn’t anything else to say. And then he dove in head first, his tongue circling her swollen nub while his hands remained bound behind his back. She tried desperately not to move, not to make it easier for him but she couldn’t seem to help herself as she bucked up into his face, her moans pronounced and loud.

“Oh god, Mulder-” she cried out as he brought her closer and closer to the edge, then when he thought she was about to climax he pulled back, the sweet torture part of the fun.

Her eyes opened, watching him. “Cut that out.”

He shrugged and gave her his best shit-eating grin, knowing that this was his only power over her at the moment and he planned to use it. “I want to watch you.”

“Watch me?”

“Play with yourself,” he told her. “I won’t go back in until you do.”

She smirked, moving her hand down, using her middle finger to rub against her clit. He locked eyes with her as she flicked and pleasured herself.

“Do you know how many times I’ve done this while thinking about you?” she whispered, running her tongue along her bottom lip, her eyes never leaving his.

“Oh my god, Scully,” he huffed, these thoughts placing the power right back into her hands again. It was a constant give and take, a dialogue like they’d always shared, and he loved it. He felt the divine torment of his inability to stroke himself while watching her masturbate, his hands locked helplessly behind him.

“One of our first cases, Mulder,” she revealed, her finger now circling her clit madly, moving her other hand to her breast, squeezing and pinching. The sounds of her slick desire echoed in his ears as she rippled beneath her own fingers. “I was already picturing your face in between my thighs.” 

“Jesus,” he groaned. He moved in again and took over for her, flicking with his tongue until she was moaning again, getting closer and closer to the edge. This time, he decided to let her come.

She cried out loudly, for the first time reminding him they were actually in a hotel in the middle of the day, but he didn’t care. He littered kisses along her inner thigh as he felt her hand fall down to find his face, stroking it softly in gratitude. He rested his chin on her stomach and just watched the beauty of a post-orgasmic Scully as she came down from the heavens.

After a few moments she sat up, and he was forced to follow as she gripped him by his upper arms. She guided him until he was essentially sitting on his hands, his back against the headboard.

“That was very rude, teasing me like that,” she scolded him with a smile. Her eyes were completely dilated as she held his thighs down tightly and slid off his boxers, glancing down at his erection as it bobbed lewdly and pointed right at her. “So rude that I’m afraid I’m going to have to punish you, Mulder.”

“Scu-” he said, completely unprepared for this turn of events as her head sunk down upon him and he felt himself disappearing into her hot little mouth, inch by inch.

“— Jesus!

He was completely helpless as she held him down, practically swallowing his cock as she swirled and sucked like she was in Catholic school again. He could feel her tongue exploring every inch of him and his eyelids drooped, his hips meeting her movements. Her head bobbed and pulsed and he knew it was probably a mistake to look but he couldn’t help but watch her plump lips work his length, up and down, over and over. The entire surface of his cock was glistening with her saliva, and he knew he didn’t have much longer.

“Scully… you should stop…”

He watched her face appear before him as she released his aching cock with a pop , and it bounced back onto his stomach, leaking and agitated. 

“Want me to unlock you?” she asked. He nodded, wanting nothing more than to touch her, and after she unlocked him he brought his hands to her face and pulled her in for a passionate kiss. Her torture tactics had brought him much closer to the edge than he wanted to be. 

He still had big plans for her, after all.

“My turn,” he said as he held his hand out for the cuffs, twirling his finger in a turn around gesture. “Lie down.”

Scully looked a bit confused, but obliged, laying facedown on the bed. He took the cuffs, closing them around one of her wrists, looping them around the headboard, then securing the second shackle around her other wrist. When she was firmly locked into place, he hovered over her, running his fingers over the perfect curve of her ass, nudging her legs apart a bit with his knee.

“Mulder…?” she asked, unsure. He leaned down and whispered into her ear. 

“Trust me.”

He watched her body visibly relax, falling into that very trust, and it made him love her even more. He ran a fingertip down her spine and she shivered when it dipped into the dimple between her ass cheeks. He widened her legs a bit more, then waited. And waited. Her breathing began to pick up and he could tell she was incredibly aroused by the anticipation alone, by wondering what he would do.

He reached over to grab her little pink companion, and pressed it against her clit as he switched it on. It sprung to life and Scully gasped; a gasp which quickly turned into a moan. He held the vibe firmly against her clit and as he moved it around, he slowly dipped two fingers easily inside her. 

“Oh god,” she groaned, her entire body bucking from the sensations. She wriggled as much as she could in her prone position, and he went harder with his fingers, circling them around and curling underneath until he found the spot he was looking for. The vibe buzzed and his fingers fucked her insistently until she was writhing like a snake beneath his touch.

“Mulder, I’m gonna- I’m gonna-”

“Come for me Scully,” he groaned. “I want to watch you fall apart.”

And she did, her body undulating along the bed as she rode out another intense orgasm, his fingers coated with her seeping arousal. She cried out in ecstasy as her toes gripped the comforter, then let out a heavy sigh as she closed her eyes and began to recover.

But he wasn’t done with her yet.

He turned off the vibe and dropped it behind him onto the bed, leaning forward to uncuff her. As he did he kissed the red, raw skin at her wrists, then swept the hair away from her neck, placing kisses on her tiny scar, his tongue darting out every so often to taste her sweat. He listened to her breathing, allowing her to relax again.

“You’re so unbelievably sexy, Scully,” he mumbled into her ear. “I want to be inside you. I need to be inside you.”

She rolled over onto her back with the biggest smile on her face, and she looked so, so sated, he almost wished he hadn’t said anything; that he could just let her fall asleep and watch her when she did. But she glanced down at his painfully heavy cock and touched it, at first softly, then wrapping her fingers around him firmly.

“Please,” she said again, bringing her knees up to her shoulders, and although he was certain he couldn’t physically get any harder he felt the blood rushing in once more, twitching in her hand. Her flexibility at her age was astounding.

“Say it again,” he commanded.

“I want you inside me too,” she said. “Please, Mulder.”

He couldn’t wait, he didn’t wait, and with one assertive thrust he plunged himself deeply inside her until they were as close together as they could possibly be. He could feel her fingernails scratching his shoulders as she cried out with every thrust “ more, more, more ,” and he was satisfied with the knowledge that he could give her that. Forever, for the rest of their days.

Always more.

He pumped and moaned and their bodies slapped together, sweat trickling down his brow. Her breasts bounced as he feverishly drove into her again and again, emboldened by her sounds of pleasure.

“Scully, it’s a goddamn miracle I’ve lasted this long,” he admitted, out of breath, as her hands traveled the expanse of his back, her delicate fingertips tracing the contours of his muscles.

“I don’t believe in miracles, remember?” she said. 

“Well, you should, because there is no other explanation,” he insisted, his thrusts picking up with even more intensity. 

“It must be an X-File,” she smirked, and although he loved everything about her in this time and in this place, he was suddenly transported to a time long ago, to the Scully he’d only just met, the Scully whose walls coming down was a miracle in and of itself.

She seemed to notice how close he was, and in an effort, perhaps, to relieve him, she pulled him down close and gave him permission. 

“Let go, Mulder,” she said into his ear.

He had virtually no choice anymore anyway, and felt his balls tighten as he soared past the stars, emptying inside of her, grunting out her name and collapsing on top of her, trying his best not to crush her. He’d never been so physically spent in his life, and he’d been through a lot. A lot, a lot, a lot.

Rolling them both onto their sides, she draped a leg over his hip, keeping them connected. He felt her hand cup his scratchy cheek as she leaned in for a kiss. She traced his jawline with her index finger as he felt himself still pulsing inside her.

“That was… unbelievable,” he gasped, when he could finally speak. 

“And yet somehow not outside the realm of extreme possibility?” she grinned.

“What about you, did you…?”

She shook her head. “I’m perfect, Mulder. You’ve taken good care of me.”

He let out an exhausted sigh. “You’re incredible, Scully, I don’t…” he couldn't stop himself from uttering it. “...I don’t deserve you.”

She looked at him intensely, holding his face between her hands, resolute. He knew that look, the patented Scully what you’re saying is absolute madness, Mulder look.

“That’s not true,” she said. “It just isn’t. The reason it took me so long to get here wasn’t about you, I promise. It was about me.”

He closed his eyes. He wanted to believe.

“Hey, look at me,” she said.

He looked.

“Remember what you said? Reason and faith in harmony. That’s you and me. We need each other.” She squeezed him tighter with her thigh. “You feel that? We’re made for each other, Mulder.”

He looked into her eyes and fell into them for the thousandth time, and knew what she was saying was true. He’d known there could never be anyone for him but her; he’d known it for years. His one in five billion, his constant, his touchstone. He owed her everything.

“I love you,” he said, moving a sweaty tendril of hair from her forehead. At the end of the day, it was really all that mattered. She leaned in again to draw him into another kiss, one full of passion and intensity that he knew she meant.

“I love you too.”

He rested his hand on her backside and squeezed it gently. “So… what now, do you think? Room service? Pay-per-view?”

“Mulder?” she said softly, seemingly ignoring his question.

“Yeah?” 

“Can we check out now? I think I’d like to go home.”

He laughed and pulled her in close, encircling her with his arms. “Okay.”

It didn’t matter to him anymore where they were. When they were together, he was home.