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“I have a proposition.” he says suddenly, completely out of the blue.

Scully looks up from her paperwork, expression puzzled. They've been working in total silence for about an hour now, as they usually do on Friday nights. Mulder is propped up on the couch, long legs stretched before him and crossed at the ankles, while she sits at his desk, head down and hand grasped around a pen.

She turns around to look at him, right eyebrow raised, “A proposition?”

He's looking at her, manila envelopes cluttered around his torso and his own paperwork laying forgotten on his lap. He's clicking his pen absentmindedly, biting his lip and peering at her with a strange sense of interest.

“Yes. And you have to promise that if you don't like it, you'll forget I even propositioned it, deal?”

She stares at him, mouth opening and then closing in silent confusion. She turns around fully in the chair, crossing her legs and giving him her full attention, “You're not really giving me much to go on here, Mulder. I mean, how am I supposed to make a promise that I don't know I'll be able to even-”

“I'm not asking you to give me your kidney or something, Scully, don't worry.” he's laughing but there's an edge to it that she picks up on immediately. “You know what- forget it, actually. Forget I said anything.” he's still smiling, head tilting down to look at the half completed forms in his lap.

She rolls her eyes, getting out of the chair and shuffling over to the couch where she points to his legs soundlessly and waits for him to move them. He sighs, bending them up towards his chest in a slightly uncomfortable position, some of the folders and papers cascading to the floor.

“Really, Scully, let's just get back to work.” she senses almost no sincerity in his voice, and she knows without a doubt that he's trying to use some sort of reverse psychology spiel on her. She has to admit- it's working.

“For God's sake, Mulder, what's the proposition?” she's already tired of beating around the bush, and his teasing is beginning to irritate her. His head pops up, a smile on his face, and she knows she's fallen directly into his trap.

“Promise.”

“Promise, what?”

“Promise that if you don't like it, you'll forget I ever said anything.”

She sighs, closing her eyes but feeling herself nod, “Fine, I promise. There you go.”

When her eyes reopen he's got his legs pulled back even further against his chest, sitting at the very end of the couch with his face almost hidden behind his knees. She scrunches her forehead and waits for him to speak.

“Okay.” he says, quieter than before. She can see his cheeks turning slightly pink, and before she can even begin to wonder what she's just gotten herself into, he peers at her from over his knees and says, “Do you want to have sex again?”

Well, whatever she'd been expecting, it certainly wasn't that.

He stares at her. She stares back.

Silence.

Then-

“I- um,” she's honestly speechless, unable to unlock her eyes from his, “I- I don't know what to say.”

His legs lower a bit, and his face becomes more visible; he's bright red. She's learned by now that he's nowhere near as suave as he's led on all these years.

“Anything. You can literally say absolutely anything.” he replies, biting his lip again and looking genuinely nervous. “Seriously. Anything.”

Her mouth does the classic open-and-close once again, and she can feel her heart beating fast in her chest, her skin warm like someone's turned up the heat in his apartment within the last two minutes.

“I- well,” she finally unlocks her gaze, but not by much, her eyes falling instead to his lips. “I... I thought we said that was a one time thing.”

“...We did,” he agrees, legs lowering even more; she can see his neck now, and a hint of his chest peeking through his t-shirt. He's blushing all over. “But I...” he trails off, clearly still wanting her to say something.

“You disagree.”

Her eyes travel back up to meet his, and he nods slowly, “Um... well... yeah.” he licks his lips, “Pretty much.”

Her skin is tingling, warmth spreading through her body faster and faster by the second. She remembers what happened last month like it was yesterday, every single part of her brain bringing the image to the front of her mind. Him, hovering over her with that look on his face, her fingers pressing into the soft skin of his back and the sound of light rain falling outside his bedroom window. He'd smelled like the woods. He always smells like the woods.

“Scully?”

She doesn't know how long she's been sitting there without speaking, but she quickly attempts to regain composure, clearing her throat and uncrossing her legs. “What?”

“Say something? Please? I'm dying over here.” her eyes are downcast but she can hear the nervous smile in his voice.

“I'm... I'm thinking.”

“Oh, okay, sorry. Yes, please think. Continue thinking. Think about it. Maybe we can go over pros and cons or something. Like, we could write out a list and-”

“Mulder, shut up for one second, okay? Thanks.” she puts her head in her hands; she honestly feels slightly woozy, and she's not sure if she's just overwhelmed or... something else.

“Shutting up.”

She'd said they wouldn't do it again. She'd said it was a one time thing. Because she didn't want to risk their friendship, the bond they'd cultivated and shared for almost seven years.

She realizes she hadn't really given much thought to what he wanted.

“Okay, you need to be honest with me right now. No bullshit, no lies. Total honesty.” she pulls her hands away and turns to look at him, “Promise?”

“I promise.” his legs are almost straight now, and his socked feet are pressing into her thigh.

“Do you think it'll change anything?” she asks, voice incredibly quiet. “Do you... do you think it'll mess things up? Do you think it'll mess us-” she gestures to the two of them, “Up?”

He's silent for a moment, peering at her with that familiar intensity and focus that he always gives her when she speaks. Looking at him now, admiring the soft lines of his face and those eyes that somehow speak to her soul, she feels herself hoping beyond everything that he says no.

“No.” he says, almost a whisper. “No, I don't. Scully, I-,” he takes a breath, swallows and blinks, “I think it's the most us thing we could possibly do.”

She feels herself smile, wide and bright, skin practically set on fire by his words.

“I have a proposition for you.” she says softly, hand reaching up to dance across his knee.

“What's that?” he breathes.

“Take off your clothes.”