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Dana Scully is no stranger to nightmares. The first ones started after her abduction, full of shadows and lights and voices that faded into nothingness if she tried to focus on them. Those are rarer now, though not, she suspects, because she’s come past them so much as there are so many other sources of fear for her mind to hold onto.

She dreams of Melissa bleeding to death on the floor of her apartment, dreams of herself lying helpless in a hospital bed as an unseen invader creeps further towards her brain, dreams of little girls with blonde hair and her sister’s smile who turn to dust when she reaches out to them. Recently her dreams are full of another child, her baby boy, crying out for her in the dark. He is taken from her and given to strangers who are unable to protect him, and they let him be taken away forever by men who cannot be killed, men whose only knowledge of him is that he is a target, a threat they must eliminate. They don’t know how his face lights up when he giggles, or how he loves it when his mother sings to him, or how much the occasional crease of his forehead reminds her of his father.

His father is the one she dreams about the most.

There are no consistent events, only recurring themes, the darker the better for her brain to hold on to. Fate has never been fair to Fox Mulder, but her imagination is downright cruel: he is tricked and lied to and torn away from all the good in the world, made to fulfil the dreams of others who only want to hurt him, used in every way to achieve all that he finds wrong. He is tortured, beaten, and murdered by humans and things that only appear to be, or more recently by things not even attempting the illusion. He is left alone to die in the far corners of the world where she can’t reach him until it’s too late.

This time is no different: she sees him tormented and shouted at while he cowers in the concern of that cold, dark cell, and hears him crying out her name, begging for just one more chance to see her and their son. Their son that he will never say goodbye to because of her. He is in pain because of her…

And then Mulder is in front of her, no longer in a cell but still in that stark orange uniform, strapped down on a gurney with a needle in his arm. Her dream self instinctively knows that she can’t get to him, that there’s glass and locked doors and armed guards between them, and there’s nothing to do but watch as the poison is injected into his bloodstream. He doesn’t look, just watches her watching him, and in his eyes she sees everything. She sees the pain and fear and regret that has become commonplace when she dreams of him. She sees the hatred of these people who insist on hurting them both. But the other thing- the new thing- is the hatred in his eyes for her.

As is usual, she wakes with a sobbing plea of his name. What is not usual is for her to wake in his arms.

“Scully?” His breath is warm against her cheek. “Scully, it’s me, you’re okay.”

Before she’s even really aware of where she is- in one of many backwater motels in Roswell, New Mexico, not meeting Mulder’s eyes as he lies on his death bed- he’s wrapping her up in his embrace and murmuring something soothing, beginning to rock her gently as her breathing stabilises. It reminds her of the nights when she’d wake from memories of Donnie Pfaster breathing down her neck, when Mulder would hold her and remind her she was safe, that he was dead, that he couldn’t hurt her anymore.

Those nights seem an indescribable distance away now. It’s hard to believe that at one point her greatest fear was of a single man rather than an entire government, that there was ever a time that her son wasn’t the most important thing in the world. Her son. She has failed as a mother, and sooner or later, Mulder will realise that. He’ll realise it’s all her fault, will realise that she has destroyed everything he could ever have resembling a normal life, will realise that she is a coward and a fraud and will leave her all over again. And then she’ll be alone.

Mulder’s touch momentarily breaks though her downward spiral as he brushes her hair back, still whispering words she doesn’t deserve. His touch sickens her, makes her want to pull away in case she burns him any more, but his arms are still tight around her, making it impossible to move. In the twilight filtering through the window she can see him watching her, but she can’t meet his eyes. She’s afraid of what she might see.

“Scully-” The pity in his voice is too much, and it draws the words out of her mouth before she’s realised.

“This is my fault.”

He’s silent for a moment too long and she find herself filling the gap.

“I made you leave us. I made you leave and I thought I could be strong but I couldn’t, and I gave up on both of you-”

Scully.” He tilts her head up to meet his eyes. “You have never given up on me. Never. And none of this is your fault. You’ve saved me so many times, and if it wasn’t for you… if it wasn’t for you, I don’t know where I’d be.” He kisses her forehead long and hard. “If anything, it’s my fault that you’re here.”

“Don’t say that.” She reaches up and grips his arm, squeezing tight. “I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.” She holds his gaze until his eyes soften. “And I don’t know where I’d be without you, either.”

He offers her a small smile. “Definitely not in some dingy motel.”

She feels herself mirroring it. “I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. Ever.”

Mulder carefully tucks a final lock of hair back behind her ear before leaning in and pressing a kiss to her mouth. How did she go so long without his lips touching hers? The first contact in so long, back in that cell, had broken a dam she couldn’t remember building, and now she can’t imagine lasting even a day without his kisses. And from the way Mulder’s mouth moves desperately over hers, he feels the same way.

It’s a long, long time before he pulls back, even then only an inch so he can regain his breath. When their eyes meet, he gives her another smile, one that makes her heart twist with love.

“What are we going to do with each other?” He jokes.

Despite everything, somehow Mulder’s touch has brought something back to her, because for the first time in so long she feels herself ready to joke back.

“I’m sure you’ll come up with something.”

Mulder’s smile broadens into a grin, one whose last appearance she can’t remember. She’s forgotten the last time she saw that look in his eyes, too: that look of passion and desire and need. It triggers something in her, and she feels her body beginning to vibrate under the familiar gaze, knowing full well what usually accompanies it. She remembers the last time they made love. She was still pregnant and tender, and Mulder had been so cautious and gentle that it had made her tear up. Then, her body had missed him so much that even that touch had been almost too much to handle, and she doesn’t know how she’ll cope now. How either of them will.

Mulder is either having the same thoughts, or has once again read her mind, because there’s a nervous intensity in his face when he searches hers.

“Scully…” She watches the bob of his throat. “Are we…?”

“I missed you so much,” she says in reply, cupping his cheek. “Please.”

That word from her has always been his weakness. He leans in to kiss her again, finally claiming what’s his- what has always been his- and as his tongue seeks hers she feels everything that has felt off kilter for these past few months click magically back into place. This is what it’s supposed to be. This is them. This is all she’ll ever need.

His hands move towards the tie of her robe as hers reach for his belt, perfectly in sync as always. He fell asleep in his jeans and t-shirt, tangled up in her, and she loves that about him, loves that he refuses to do anything by the rules. He kicks his jeans off as she sheds her robe, suddenly aware of how exposed she is to his keen eyes and keener touch. Her body is different now. The silver streaks of her pregnancy still shimmer on her belly, and she knows her breasts haven’t shrank back to their previous size. She’s lost weight since William left, too, and she knows Mulder will notice the protuberance of her hipbone under his warm hands as he pulls her closer to his body.

But if he does, he doesn’t mention it, instead just silencing her worries with his lips as he guides her astride of him. She’s never met someone as fluent with his mouth as Mulder. When he kisses he writes paragraphs, shapes sentences with his tongue and delivers everything he needs to say with a slight movement of his mouth or a touch of his teeth. He’s conveyed love to her like this, of course, but also sorrow, and joy, and anger. Now everything he says is full of pure, unadulterated adoration. Every breath is I need you, every movement you are everything, and she hopes she’s managing to say the same back. She can’t risk it being unsaid, though, and breaks their contact with a sigh, touching her forehead to his.

“I love you,” she whispers like a promise.

He flutters his lips across her cheek, along the line of her nose, up to her forehead where he murmurs his vow in exchange. “I love you.”

The tears are back, brimming just behind her eyelids, but she forces them back. She and Mulder are here and they’re alive. That’s all there is to it.

“Mulder.”

He mumbles an affirmative as his lips find her pulse point.

“You on top.”

He hadn’t been expecting that, she knows, but he takes hold of her hips and rolls them over without a word. The cotton of his t-shirt brushes against her hard nipples as she arches against him, but she needs more. She twists her arms up to find the hem of his shirt and then with his help pulls it up and over his head. Mulder throws it into some dark corner of the room, before sliding down the bed to press delicate kisses around her areola. He takes the other breast in his hand and squeezes in perfect time, that familiar yet neglected touch so honed that it’s as if they’ve never been apart. When he scrapes his teeth lightly against one nipple and pinches the other one, it’s almost enough to make her come. She feels the thrum of her body ignite and begin hurling towards that precipice, but before she can do her hand flies down and grips Mulder’s arm.

He stops immediately and looks up at her.

“I… I need…”

Seeming to understand, Mulder nods and presses another slack kiss against her breast, then eases her legs apart as he heads further south. And even though she knows how wonderful his mouth will feel against her after all this time, that isn’t what she needs right now.

“Mulder, no, I-” He glances up again, and his wide dark eyes are so eager that she almost gives in, but she can see the way he’s trembling, the way he’s having to fight against grinding against the bed. There’s time for all of this later. Right now she just wants him here. With her, together. “I want you inside me.”

In less than a second he’s back, leaning over her, bracketing her body with his. Yes. This is what she wants. She wants to be dwarfed by him, consumed by him, joined until there’s nothing left that isn’t his, until it’s just the two of them, entwined and completing each other just like it was always meant to be. She wraps one hand in his hair to pull him in for another kiss, and snakes the other one down to his waistband, tugging blindly until Mulder helps her pull his boxers off. And then he’s there in her hand again, finally, after so long, and he’s moaning in the way she remembers; that low, hoarse moan of her name that sounds like a curse and a prayer and a plea all at once.  

It triggers something in her, that moan, and before she knows it she’s digging her nails into Mulder’s back and bringing him closer until he is pressed completely against her, his breath hot and heavy in the crook of her neck and his cock pressed against her heat. He wraps an arm around her thigh and pulls it around him, opening her up as he thrusts inside of her with a moan that borders on a gasp.

They still fit together perfectly. At this angle he fills her up fully, and she can feel every inch of him as she tightens. Mulder grips her thigh so firmly she knows it’ll leave a mark, but she doesn’t care. Let him mark her. She’d keep it there forever if she could. She tries her best to reciprocate, scraping her nails down his back because he’s always liked that, and judging from the half sob he breaths into her neck it’s a good bet to say he still does. He’s going slowly, probably trying to help her adjust, but it’s not enough. She needs him, all of him, right now.

“You can be a bit rougher,” she breathes against one prickly cheek, swiping her tongue across his earlobe as an afterthought.

“I want this to last,” he chuckles back, withdrawing from the comfort of her neck until he can meet her eyes. “I don’t know if I can manage for much longer.”

“I don’t mind.” She tilts her head up for a kiss and he obliges. “I’m hoping you’re sticking around for a while yet.”

“Always.” He thrusts inside her again, harder this time, and it makes her gasp. “I’m never leaving you again.”

Scully hadn’t realised how badly she needed to hear those words. He’s staying. He’s staying forever.

“Prove it,” she whispers.

And maybe that’s all the permission he needed, because he does. He presses her into the mattress and twists his hips to they grind against each other perfectly on each thrust. His cock strokes a frantic pace inside of her as he drives himself into her body like his life depends on it, like he’s taking part in some Olympic sprint and there’s no prize for coming second. She can feel her moisture coating both of them, can hear the slick sound of their bodies joining over and over again, can feel Mulder hitting that spot inside of her again and again and again, until she has no choice but to cry out.

He doesn’t let up, and she doesn’t want him to. Perhaps if they can stay here, in this moment, forever, none of the darkness will ever be able to touch them again. It can be just them, the two of them, until that terrible date when everything goes to hell. But it’s impossible to get distracted by those thoughts right now, while Mulder is inside of her and those little grunts keep escaping him as he gets closer to the edge…

He manages to speak her name between clenched teeth and he lets go of her thigh to press his fingers against her clit instead, working in the small, fast circles that only he can pull off. Almost there, now, so close she can feel her muscles tensing in anticipation, and the thing that pushes her over is Mulder’s eyes on hers, baring his soul to her. There is no trace of the emotions she sees in her dreams, only love. Only love.

She comes back to herself what could be minutes or moments later, dimly aware that Mulder is now a deadweight on top of her, and that she can feel his softening inside her body. It’s a nice feeling, one she remembers from before, one that she can feel is making her heartrate return back to normal and her body begin to calm.

A few moments later and he rouses, snuffling against her cheek and humming at the back of his throat.

“I missed you,” he tells her hair, reaching for her hand.

She takes it and brings it up to her chest, catching the scent of their arousal before Mulder takes his fingers into his own mouth, licking them clean.

“I missed your taste.” He kisses her neck. “And your body.” Her cheek. “And your mouth.” Her forehead. “And your mind.”

He pulls back and looks at her, traces her lips with his thumb. “But mostly I think I missed how I feel when I’m with you.”

One tear finally slips free, despite her attempts to stop it. Mulder brushes it away with a smile that she can feel herself reflecting.

“I missed that too.” She leans up to capture his lips in a slow, tender kiss, sliding her fingers through his hair. “I missed you so much,” she confesses as he finally breaks free and eases himself out of her, then settles on the other side of the bed.

She rolls over and snuggles into his arms, closing her eyes as the movement of his chest eases her to sleep. Mulder’s voice rumbles against her ear.

“You’ll never have to miss me again,” he whispers in her ear. “From now on, whatever happens, we face it together.”

“Promise?” Her voice sounds feeble, even to her, but when he replies it’s as if he hasn’t noticed.

“I promise.”

Against all odds, against all the evidence, she believes him. She doesn’t have a choice, she realises, because without that belief where will they end up? She shouldn’t believe him, but against every logical belief, she does.

She believes.