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Sex and Loathing

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Title: Sex and Loathing

Author: Malibu Sunset

Email: malibusunset88@gmail.com

Category:  MSR, angst, bad sex, good sex, oddness, Scully POV

Rating: NC-17

Time Frame: Seasons 4 & 5. Starts out post-Paper Hearts. Ends post-Pine Bluff Variant. Some malarky in between.  

Warning – bad, bad sex. But that’s not the end, so keep reading.

 

Bountiful thanks go to Steph, for beta work and idea germination and hand-holding.

 

 

 

The Night the Earth Definitely Did Not Move

 

Beside her in the passenger seat, Mulder slumps like a deflated balloon as the nightscape speeds by. He’s so still she wonders if he nodded off and she considers the logistics of getting him up to his apartment. She has no idea how much he’s had to drink and she’s never dealt with him in this state before.

He sighs and stretches and she realizes he’s awake. “You were supposed to go home and sleep, Mulder, not warm a bar stool for four hours.”

“You didn’t have to come get me,” he mumbles. “I would’ve called a cab.”

“I was worried. You weren’t at your apartment when I stopped to check on you.”

“You didn’t have to check on me.”

Clearly, she thinks. 

His hands are clasped between his bent knees. They stop at a red light and he yawns, tipping back against the headrest.

“What happened to your tie?” she asks, glancing down at his open shirt collar.

“It had blood on it.”

Scully swallows and forces her attention back to the road as the light turns green.

John Lee Roche’s blood on his tie. How many times have they worn the blood of strangers on their clothing? Where, exactly, does that appear in the job description?

He’s clearly inebriated, but she isn’t overwhelmed by the smell of alcohol, so that’s encouraging.

“How much have you had to drink?”

“Just a few.”

She’d seen the total on his bar tab while he fished for his wallet. Either he’d been buying rounds for the bar or it was more than a few.

When they reach Hegel Place, she has to park around the corner. All the decent spots are taken after 11 pm on a Thursday night.

“Thanks for the ride, Scully.” He fumbles for the door handle.

“I’m coming up,” she insists, unbuckling her seat belt. He doesn’t express an opinion about that either way.

The sidewalks are slick from the downpour an hour ago and her hair is still damp from making a dash into the bar. Upon her arrival, Mulder had been the recipient of a few sympathetic glances from fellow patrons, the obvious assumption being that she was his wife or girlfriend, there to drag him home by his ear. Here comes the ball and chain, boys, it was fun while it lasted.

Mulder weaves his way to the apartment building, doing a piss poor job of avoiding puddles in his leather dress shoes. Karmic, she thinks, after all the expensive shoes she’s sacrificed chasing monsters down dark alleys.

In the elevator to his floor, he sags against the wall and spaces out while she monitors him. She’s going to have to put him to bed like a child and watch that he stays there before she leaves. Except that he doesn’t have a bed.

She used to think it odd the normal things he doesn’t have. A bed, a toaster, a phone book. “I don’t make toast,” he’d said, and she had to admit he had a point. He only needs a handful of phone numbers, and they’re all on speed dial. She’s number one. It is perhaps concerning how important that little detail is to her.

Outside his apartment, he sorts through his keys with considerable effort and she resists opening the door for him. “I’m okay,” he mumbles.

“I know.” She doesn’t.  

He has more keys than anyone she knows and she tells him so.

“It would take me too long to figure out which ones I need.”

“So you don’t even know what some of them are for?”

“Nope.” He stifles a belch and she responds with a sour face that he doesn’t see.

A lamp is still lit in his apartment from when she stopped by earlier to find him missing. The painted walls of his living room are the color of butter under the incandescent light.

“Did you eat any dinner, Mulder?”

He shakes his head, swaying on his feet.

Sighing, she removes her jacket and drapes it over a chair. “Why don’t you get changed and I’ll see what I can pull together.”

“Take-out menus are in the drawer,” he slurs as she’s halfway to the kitchen. She knows where they are. The last thing he needs is a greasy pizza. On the other hand, she can’t imagine what useful provisions she’ll find in his cupboards. They’ve never eaten anything together that hasn’t come from a restaurant.  

 Surprisingly, his refrigerator yields both eggs and milk that are not expired. A hunt through the dry ingredients turns up some lumpy sugar and an unopened bag of flour she can’t imagine why he’d have. She digs a Teflon skillet that looks like it’s never been used from the back of a cupboard and lights a burner on the stove.

Twenty minutes later, she sets a plate on the coffee table in front of Mulder, who is draped across his couch in jeans and a wrinkled undershirt, channel surfing with tired, glassy eyes. He perks a little and lifts his head to appreciate the pile of fluffy scrambled eggs and stack of pancakes. The sticky-capped bottle of syrup she found lurking behind the boxes of cereal is questionable, but it’ll have to do.

“You found all that in there?” he asks.

“Here, sit up,” she instructs, tapping his toe. He swings his feet down and she hands him silverware. “I don’t know what you survive on, Mulder. I think Jesus had more to work with when he fed the multitudes.”

He shovels a forkful of eggs into his mouth. “Yes, but can you turn water into wine?”

Scully sits down on the couch next to him. “You don’t need any more wine.”

He eats quietly while they both stare at Conan O’Brien on the small TV. When he’s finished, he piles the knife and fork on top and pushes the plate to the center of the coffee table. “That was good, Scully, thanks.”

She feels his eyes resting on her, but she doesn’t turn. “You’re welcome.”

“I didn’t know you could cook.”

“It’s just eggs and pancakes, Mulder.”

“That’s cooking.”

His voice is scratchy and rough, quieter than usual. The clinical part of her can identify the effects of the alcohol on his speech. Recognizes the signs of impaired gross motor skills. She finds it difficult to silence the doctor part of her brain and just be normal. Back when her social circle included more than Mulder, her mother, and an occasional Gunman, she discovered that friends were not eager to hear her unsolicited medical advice. So she learned to keep it to herself, imagining it was like having a dentist in the family and always feeling self-conscious about your teeth.   

Mulder belches quietly next to her. She hasn’t had the pleasure of keeping him company when he’s been inebriated before. As she could’ve predicted, he isn’t the life of the party. He doesn’t look like he’s going to sleep anytime soon either.

“Don’t you have any…pajamas or anything?”

His chin makes contact with his chest. “I need to do laundry. I…usually just sleep in, ya know-“ He shrugs and gives her a sleepy, side smile.

She doesn’t really, but she’s not going to ask.

Scully bites back a yawn and braces her palms on her knees, preparing to stand. “Well, if you’re okay, then I guess I’ll take off.”

Rolling his head against the back of the couch, he looks at her, heavy-lidded. “Yeah?” He sounds disappointed.

A red mark by his hairline catches her eye and she frowns, passing her hand over his forehead. “What did you do?” The pad of her thumb sweeps careful circles over the raised spot.

Mulder blinks at her with soft eyes, holding still for her fussing. “I hit it on the door of the bus earlier. It doesn’t hurt anymore.”

Scully clicks her tongue, disapprovingly. “I’ll get some ice.”  

She returns with four cubes wrapped in a green plaid dish towel. He makes no move to take it from her when offered, so she does it herself, pressing the bundle to his temple.  He flinches at the first touch of cold, then relaxes.

“Do you have any Ibuprofen?” she asks.

His eyes make several slow passes over her face. He is patient with her doctoring, seems to know that doing this is important to her. Whenever the occasion arises, he is quick to state that she is his physician, even though they have no formal agreement. He is her one and only patient and with the number of times he’s been near death, anyone would question her competency.

“Mulder, do you have any Ibuprofen?” she repeats. He’s still staring at her with a goofy, drowsy expression.

“Yeah, I think so. Somewhere.”

“You should take 800 milligrams before you go to sleep. You’ve got a nice little goose egg on your head. I’d give you something stronger, but not with the alcohol.”

He nods, distractedly. “Okay, Doc.”

The ice starts to soak through the towel and her arm is tired from holding it on his head. She props her elbow against the back of the couch and relaxes into the cushions. The room is darker now and she wonders when he turned the lamp off. Probably when she went to the kitchen for the ice. The only light is the silver flicker from the TV, now muted. It casts prisms on his five o’clock shadow.

“You take good care of me, Scully.”

At least he’s an agreeable drunk.

She huffs at him, avoiding his eyes. “You need to sleep it off, Mulder.”

He sighs, contentedly. “Mmm,  maybe.”

“You’ll feel better tomorrow. Make sure you eat something for breakfast.” What, she can’t imagine. He doesn’t even have bread. She’ll probably check on him tomorrow, even though she’ll argue with herself all the way from Georgetown to Alexandria.  

 “I want to tell you something, but I know you’ll just say I’m drunk.”

“You are drunk.” His body looks boneless, like he’s melted over the couch cushions.

“It doesn’t matter. I think it when I’m not drunk too.”

Oh God, now what? What hasn’t he told her? Worse than his sister being abducted by aliens?   

“What is it, Mulder?”

“I think you’re very pretty.”

It takes her a few beats to register what he’s said. She blinks back at him before rolling her eyes and looking away. “Mulder, come on…”

“See, I knew you’d do that.”

“How did you expect me to react?”

He gives her a drowsy smile. “Just like that.”

“Then why did you say it?”

“Because I wanted you to know. It’s a fact. I think you’re very pretty.”

“I think we should change the subject.”

“Because it’s un-proffeshunnnle,” he slurs, and Scully starts to mentally categorize all the ways in which this whole situation is unprofessional. Beginning with his hand, which has found her knee.

The air prickles between them and he’s still looking at her funny. They’ve been this close before plenty of times, but he’s never looked at her like this. The alcohol has clearly fogged his brain.

Scully lowers the towel from his forehead. He’s sporting a raised, red bump the size of a quarter, but she’s pretty sure he’ll live. “I should go, Mulder. And you should go to bed.”

“Why did you turn down Conover?”

“What?” Her eyes widen sharply.

“Agent Conover, when he asked you out. Why did you say no?”

Scully frowns at him, her mouth open. “How the hell did you know about that?”

“He asked me if I knew if you were seeing anyone. So I just assumed he asked you out.”

“How do you know I said no?”

He shrugs. “I overheard Hunter talking to Ferguson. He said you turned down Conover, so he wasn’t going to bother. Brian Conover’s supposedly quite the catch, Scully.”

“Jesus,” she huffs, shaking her head. “Since when is my dating life the hot topic of speculation?”

Mulder snorts. “Are you serious?”

“People ought to do a lot more working and a lot less gossiping.”

“That is true,” he nods. “However, you still didn’t answer my question. Why didn’t you go out with Conover? He seems like a decent guy.”

He is. A very decent guy. Cute smile, nice hands, dolefully honest eyes, smart dresser, witty sense of humor. There’s nothing at all wrong with him and in her “before life”, she would have politely agreed to dinner and kissed him on the first date, maybe even slept with him after the third. But it never even occurred to her to say yes in this life. It’s ridiculous the things normal people do that she’s forgotten about. Dating, vacationing, pursuing hobbies. Sex.   

“It’s none of your business, Mulder. I certainly don’t need you playing matchmaker for me. If I feel like having dinner with someone, I’m perfectly capable of-“

“Oh, I know that,” he interrupts with a short laugh. “I’m not complaining that you aren’t dating. I was just thinking maybe there was a reason…”

His mossy eyes linger on her face in a way that makes the color rush to her cheeks. “Mulder, what  are you getting at?”

He touches her hand, his rough fingers tracing the webbing between her thumb and forefinger until her breath catches. “You really need me to answer that?”

“Mulder,” she warns, her lips parting. She can’t seem to summon the willpower to extricate her hand from his.

“I think about it sometimes. Maybe more than sometimes. That’s all I’m saying.”

Eyes shifting away nervously, Scully wets her lips, realizing his face is very close to hers. But all she manages is a hushed “Mul-“ before he closes the gap between them and presses his mouth to hers.

She doesn’t kiss him back at first; she’s too surprised.   

The kiss is firm, his lips bold as they explore hers. He weaves long fingers into her hair, cups the back of her neck, shifts so he’s leaning over her.  This time she pulls away with a gentle hand to the front of his shirt. “Mulder, what are we doing?” Tingling all over, her head spins.

His mouth hovers like a moth. “You don’t want this?” She can’t seem to stop herself from arching to the side when he pecks at the slope of her neck.

“It’s not that,” she whispers, taking short breaths through her open mouth.  “I just don’t think this is a good…” His wet tongue on her clavicle steals her thought.  

This is completely crazy.  Crazy and impulsive and very, very irresponsible of them. She should put an end to it and walk out of his apartment right now. Nothing irreparable has occurred. They can still pretend it never happened.

Mulder’s hand slides to the front of her blouse and he works at the buttons from the bottom up, moving swiftly for a man who’s under the influence.  His face is tucked into the side of her neck. “God, you smell good.” There’s a heat in his voice that makes her stomach tumble. With one hand tight on her waist, he holds her in place while he opens her blouse with the other.    

The pads of his fingers brush over her tummy and her abdominal muscles jump. Her eyes are drawn to the ridge of his erection, straining the zipper of his fly.  The flush that started at her cheeks, now burns all the way down to her breasts. 

Scully avoids direct eye contact, certain of what she’ll see. The unmistakable look of want. It’s been so long she’s almost forgotten what it looks like. The predatory look of a man who is thinking of one thing and one thing only.  

Swallowing nervously, she says his name, as if she needs to remind herself it’s just him. Somewhere in the reasoning part of her brain, she knows she can refuse him and he’ll back off. He doesn’t frighten her.

Mulder kisses her again and this time she goes with it, warning her internal gatekeeper to back the hell off and just give her a goddamned minute to try this. It isn’t like the idea hasn’t crossed her mind before.   

She closes her eyes and doesn’t protest when he pushes his way into her mouth. The towel with the melting ice falls behind the couch.

They go on like this for a while, tongues sparring and his hand in her hair. He works her blouse off and it flutters to the floor.

When she pulls back, he whimpers quietly. “Mulder,” she says again, forcing her voice steady. They really probably should say something more before this goes further. They do have to work together. “I think, um…” Oh God. His fingertips are tweaking her nipple through her satin bra. She doesn’t really know what she thinks anymore.

Her arousal spikes hard and fast, like the tide pulling her under. She isn’t sure if she is turned on by Mulder, specifically, or by a man wanting to fuck her this badly. It’s been too long since she’s felt the rush.

He presses her into the couch and lowers the side zipper on her slacks, panting hotly in her ear. Brain on sensory autopilot, she lifts her bottom so he can slide them off. It’s all too fast. This is moving too fast. He works a hand between her legs and strokes her through her cotton panties. Her thighs fall open. Scully knows she should stop him, but it feels good. She grinds against his hand with her knee bent and her heel braced on the edge of the coffee table.

Impatiently, Mulder works her panties off and drives two long fingers up into her. Surprised, she tenses, gripping his shoulders hard. He misreads her discomfort for passion. “Yeah,” he moans, moving his fingers faster, “oh yeah.”  If he would just slow down, kiss her a little more...

Mulder’s face is pressed into the hollow of her neck and she can smell his sour breath. She starts to think maybe this is a bad idea.   

“God baby, you’re wet,” he moans. Is she? It doesn’t really feel like it. And what did he just call her? He thrusts against her bare hip in his jeans, chafing the skin.   

Mulder stands abruptly, wavering on his feet, his eyes burning with arousal. He stares between her legs as he sloughs off his tee shirt, then fumbles with his belt.

She knows she needs a little more time, but he’s back down on top of her before she can say it, his pants around his knees.

He tries to kiss her again, but she turns her face to the side as his penis nudges her opening. “Mulder, wait…we need to use something…”

His aim sucks and he reaches down with his hand to grab himself. “Mulder…condom…we need a condom. Do you…do you have one?”

His hand rubs the tip of his penis over her clitoris and it distracts her for a split second. When she feels him start to push in, she comes back to her senses and shoves him hard with both hands. “Mulder! Condom!”

“Okay, yeah, hang on,” he pants, struggling to his feet again. He kicks his pants and boxers the rest of the way off and then weaves down the hall. She hears him banging around in his bathroom, followed by the unmistakable sound of a drawer being dumped onto the floor.

When he returns to the couch, he’s ripping the foil wrapper with his teeth. She averts her eyes as he fits the condom and then lowers himself back down on top of her.   

Scully shifts her hips slightly and exhales through her mouth, trying to relax her pelvic muscles. The absence of decent lighting has kept her from getting a good look, but from the pinch she feels when he enters her, she has a pretty good idea where he falls on the size spectrum. She wills her body’s latent memory to kick in. Four years without it and the brain isn’t the only part of the body that’s forgotten how this works.

There’s a moment of stillness right after penetration when she wonders if that was it, if he just ejaculated inside her and she missed it. The corners of her eyes sting as she wills herself not to cry at the thought. She’s relieved when he starts thrusting.

He finds a rhythm with his face buried in her neck, breathing fast. It hits her that there is no going back now. This is really happening. She should probably try to enjoy it. Not to mention that she’d rather he not remember her as lying there, frigid and unresponsive.

His forehead has gone damp with perspiration and the room is filled with the sounds of their frantic coupling. He pants hotly in her ear and the worn leather creaks with the shifting of their combined weight. As he pounds into her, she thinks this isn’t at all like she’d imagined it. 

She caresses his shoulder blades with the satin pads of her fingertips and runs her palms over his rippling back, trying to temper his erratic movements. If she can just get him to slow down a little, they can still make this good.

She remains hopeful right up until the moment his face contorts with the agony of release.  His body arcs, going rigid, before he sags heavily on top of her.  She’s quiet beneath him, absorbing his shudders, staring at a corner of cracked plaster on the ceiling.

Time passes and she lays there under him until his weight becomes too much. His penis slips out of her and she can feel the tackiness between her thighs.

“Mulder, get up,” she whispers.

He grunts, but doesn’t move.

“Mulder, get off me, please.” This time more insistently and with a catch in her voice.

She pushes at his biceps and he shifts enough for her to slide out.

His face is buried in a throw pillow, one elephant trunk arm dangling off the edge of the couch, his respiration deep and even.

When Scully stands on shaky legs, she feels the first trickle of fluid down her inner thigh. Oh God.

No.

Fuck.

Under the harsh bathroom light, Scully sits on top of the closed toilet lid with parted knees and investigates. She has to reach up a ways to grasp the latex.  Two fingers pull out the deflated condom along with a slippery pool of spilled semen. “Fuck!” She says it aloud this time.

What’s the date? It’s almost two in the morning and she can’t think straight. A hasty calculation of her cycle inspires her to swear without restraint while dressing. As far as the window for mistakes goes, it can’t really get much worse.     

Mulder is still passed out when she returns to the living room, flipped onto his side now, facing the back of the couch. He’s managed to tug a ratty afghan down onto himself. The air is stuffy, dense with the sour yeast smell of sex and perspiration. Scully sniffles and bends to pull her boots on.  

He doesn’t stir when she lets herself out.

Chapter Text

You Drove 3 Hours To Bring Me a Muffin?

 

Scully had been adamant with him on the phone that he not bother flying to Philly. There was no need and to be honest, he was the last person she wanted to see right now.

So when he knocks on her hospital room door in the middle of Jeopardy, she can’t be bothered to feel guilty for not rolling out the welcome mat. “Mulder, what are you doing here?”

The curious hint of a smile on his face dissolves a little. He ignores her question and sets a small white bakery bag on the table next to her ginger ale. “I brought you a chocolate chip muffin.”

She looks away. “It’s a long way to come to bring me a pastry, Mulder. I already told you I’m being released tomorrow morning. I’ll be back in the office on Thursday.”

He pulls up a chair, his polishes dress shoes scuffing over the linoleum floor. She can feel his eyes on her baggy blue hospital gown, freshly washed hair drying in frizzy waves, scrubbed face.

The abrasions on her cheek smart whenever she flexes her facial muscles, but the worst part is the way everyone looks at her - wondering who the asshole is who took a fist to her face and whether she’ll go back to him. What infuriates her even more, what she has to get over, is the fact that she’s trained to defend herself and she still got the shit beat out of her by an unarmed civilian. A *man* without a weapon. She isn’t feeling overly enthused by the male gender at the moment, including the one chewing his cuticles next to her.   

“Seriously Mulder, what are you doing here?”

“I came to interview Jerse,” he admits unflinchingly. “I spoke with him before coming here.”

Her jaw tightens and she stares him down coldly. “He gave his statement to the police already, Mulder, as did I. There is nothing more to be said. Ed Jerse is facing murder charges when he recovers, case closed.”

He regards her patiently and worries his bottom lip with his teeth. “This is an X-File, Scully. I can appreciate that you feel your privacy has been compromised, but it doesn’t change the fact that the case needs to be documented as an X-File.”

Goddamn him. He justifies cutting corners everywhere else, but on this he’s going to be thorough. Why doesn’t he just come right out and ask her if Jerse’s dick is bigger than his. It would save them both a lot of time.

“So what – now you want to hear my side of the story? Is that it? The details are in the report, Mulder. You can read it yourself.”

He waits a beat, his eyes scrutinizing her. “I just wanted to see how you were.”

“I’m fine.”

She’s tired. She doesn’t want to do this right now. She doesn’t want to do this ever.

“And yeah, I’ll admit, I guess I was wondering…”

Scully arches her brows at him and waits, not willing to make this any easier for him. Is it really that hard to believe she’d engage in casual sex? Or is it just hard for him to believe?

Mulder picks at a loose string on the cuff of his pressed charcoal pants. “It just doesn’t seem like you, that’s all.”

“I don’t ask what you do or who you do it with, Mulder-“

“You can if you want.”

“I don’t.” That’s a bit of a lie. If the situation were reversed, she’d care, but she isn’t about to admit that.

What she did, she did because she wanted to. The tattoo, the one night stand – it wasn’t to get back at Mulder for their shared indiscretion, although she can imagine he might assume it was.

“I’m a grown woman. I can make my own choices. I’m sorry if you don’t approve of them, Mulder.”

He huffs and shakes his head. “If you wanted to blow off some steam, Scully, there are less risky ways to do that. I don’t get it.”

Her eyes widen. She wants to slap that sarcastic smile off his face. “No one asked you to ‘get’ anything. My personal life is none of your damn business.”

“You’re my partner, which means I’m supposed to trust your judgment, so yeah, that makes it my business. It was a stupid thing to do, Scully.”

“Go to Hell!” she hisses at him, her eyes flashing with anger.

Mulder stands up and turns to leave. “All I can say is I hope it was worth it.”

“It was! It was the best damn hour of my life!” She’s careful to emphasize the word ‘hour,’ spitting it out like a verbal grenade. Just in case he was holding out hope she wouldn’t remember how awful it had been between them. That ought to have cleared things up.

She hurls the bag with the muffin at the door as he walks out.

***

 

Sometimes it’s the Little Things

 

 

“What about some soup or something? My culinary skills are debatable, but Campbells and I make a pretty good team.”

Scully forces a smile, not wanting to let him know she can’t foresee getting within ten feet of food without heaving. “I’m fine, Mulder. I’m just going to take a hot bath and go to bed.” She is touched that he politely refrains from pointing out it’s only four o’clock. Her days and nights are all mixed up from the hospital stay.

Mulder sets her small suitcase on the couch and her stack of unopened mail on the table. “Your mom made me promise to make sure you ate something.”

She yawns. “I won’t tell on you.”

He slides her overcoat off her shoulders and hangs it up for her.  Scully crosses her arms over her thick sweater and hugs herself, seeking warmth that she can’t seem to find.  She looks at her thermostat, which is already set to seventy, and turns the dial.

“Skinner said to tell you to take the rest of the week off. There’s nothing pressing anyway.” He fingers the zipper on her bag and stands awkwardly next to the couch, his coat still on.

“I want to work, Mulder. I told you that at the hospital and I meant it.”

“Yeah, but a few days off never hurt anybody.” Coming from the man who had to be forced to take a 3-day road trip to Graceland. She’d wager that he hasn’t spent an entire weekend away from the Hoover basement since she’s known him.

“I’m fine. My doctor is monitoring me carefully.” She doesn’t tell him that she’s currently in possession of enough prescription painkillers to drop a horse. “I’ll be in to work tomorrow morning.”

He nods. She knows he’s uncomfortable talking about it. The idea that, after all they’ve been through, all they’ve overcome, they may finally be facing their Everest.

It isn’t her favorite topic of conversation either and she detests all the unnecessary attention. She received a card in the mail from a friend of her mother’s. “Thinking of You,” it read. It had taken her several minutes to figure out who Louise was. And her sister-in-law sent a big fluffy bathrobe and flowers to the hospital, even though Scully hadn’t seen Tara in nearly two years.  People mean well, she knows. But this, like everything else in her life, she prefers to do quietly.

Mulder picks up her bag. “I’ll put this in your bedroom.”

“Thank you.” She’s comforted by his presence generally, but right now, she wishes he’d just go home. There isn’t anything he can do for her and she’d rather not get sick in front of him if she can help it.

Her bedroom is dark and she’d just as soon leave it that way, but Mulder twists the switch on the night table lamp. Everything is as she’d left it – bed neatly made, pillows plumped. The only indication of her absence is a fine layer of dust on the maple furniture.

Mulder’s eyes drift to the top of her tall dresser where the flowers he’d given her are busy wilting in a crystal vase. Violet and white petals lie scattered like teardrops. He looks both pleased and sheepish as hell. “You kept them.”

She smiles. “Of course I kept them. They might’ve lasted longer if I’d been around to water them,” she says, regretful.

He squeezes her shoulder gently and she leans into him like a sapling. “You sure I can’t get you anything else before I go?”

She shakes her head. “I’m okay. Really.” She is starting to feel a little better, but she’s cautious about relying on it. The nausea tends to sneak up on her.

Mulder’s long arm curls around, winding her into a hug. He plants a hasty kiss to the crown of her head and she looks up at him, surprised. “What was that for?” 

He shrugs. “I’m just glad you’re home.” He rubs her back and it makes her feel drowsy and relaxed. She considers asking him to stay a little longer, just long enough for her to fall asleep. She knows he would.

Mulder brushes the hair from the edge of her cheek and tucks it behind her ear, cups her face in his hands tenderly. “Scully, I-“

The loud trill of her cordless phone makes both of them jump. She has no desire to answer it, but whatever he was about to say, she knows he won’t until the phone stops ringing. With apologetic eyes, she leaves his embrace and goes to sit on the edge of the bed, thumbing the talk button. “Hello?”

“Hi Honey, it’s Mom. When did you get home? How are you feeling?”

“Hi, Mom. About a half hour ago. I’m fine.”

“Is Fox with you?”

Scully glances at Mulder who is staring down uncomfortably at his loafers. “Uh, yes.”

“Oh good. Did you eat something? I asked Fox to be sure you got something to eat. I know you don’t have much of an appetite, but it’s important you keep your strength up.”

“I was just about to do that,” she lies.

“Should I stop by? I’d be happy to come over there tonight, if you need me. It’s not any problem at all.”

“No, Mom, really. I’m pretty tired. I think I’ll take a bath and go to bed.”

Her eyes connect with Mulder’s. He makes a politely awkward gesture with his hand toward the door and mouths, “I’m gonna take off.”

“If you’re sure, Honey,” her mother continues. “I could be there in a few minutes.”

Scully waves at Mulder, her heart sinking just a little. “I’m sure, Mom. Don’t worry about me, I’m okay.”

Mulder has already disappeared out the door of her apartment when her phone call ends.  Scully wonders what it was he wanted to say to her.

Every Friday for the next six weeks, there is a fresh bouquet of flowers waiting by her computer when she arrives at work.

Chapter Text

Lessons in Cool from Eddie Van Blundht and The Fonz

 

 

The lunchtime crowd has dissipated when they slide into a vinyl corner booth at JJ’s diner and order two Cherry Cokes. Not a word spoken in the car since they left the prison.

She overthinks his comment about being no Eddie Van Blundt.

A month has passed since he busted down her door to find his doppelganger getting comfy with her on her couch. She knows Mulder thinks about where it might’ve gone had he not shown up. He’s not the only one.

Bringing it up is even messier given their unfortunate encounter half a year ago. She’s all but convinced she dreamt that they screwed on his crappy couch. The rug under which they apparently like to brush these indiscretions must be the size of a small European country.

Mulder plucks two quarters from his pocket and pushes one toward her.

“What’s that for?”

He points to the wall-mounted juke box, the old-fashioned kind where the songs flip when you turn the dial. Straight out of Back to the Future. “Two songs for a quarter, Scully. You’re not allowed to pick Prince.”

She squints at the choices. “I’m pretty sure they don’t have Prince. These are all old songs, Mulder.” She smiles. “My grandma had 8 track tapes of these when I was a little girl.”

Apparently, JJ was going for an entire 50s theme because their waitress looks like Flo from Mel’s Diner. Scully wonders how much hairspray she goes through in a week and what a hassle it must be to wash out.

“They’re a little temperamental,” the waitress says, pointing toward the juke box with a sharpened pencil. “If it don’t work, just give it a good pop on the side. Our special’s the chicken and biscuits.”

“Sounds good to me,” agrees Mulder, closing his menu.

“The turkey club on whole wheat, please. Skip the bacon and easy on the mayo,” says Scully.

“Comes with fries. You want them?”

“No, thank you.”

 “You can get cole slaw instead.”

“Just the sandwich will be fine.”

The waitress arches her brows as she writes. “I’ll make him give ya an extra pickle”

Mulder smirks while making a tower out of coffee creamers.

The juke box launches into Blue Suede Shoes and she doesn’t have to ask if it was one of his selections.  Scully deposits her quarter and flips until she finds Smoke Gets in Your Eyes. “So what was your second song,” she asks curiously. “Hound Dog?”

“Nope.”

“Don’t Be Cruel? Heartbreak Hotel? Jailhouse Rock?”

He shakes his head and grins. “No, but I’m impressed, Scully. Is there a poodle skirt hiding in your closet somewhere?”

She presses N5 for The Stroll. “I give up. What did you pick?”

“You’ll see,” he replies, and her mental library of Elvis songs has run dry so she stops guessing. Scully sips her Cherry Coke and flicks a wadded straw wrapper back and forth with Mulder. Under the table, his foot nudges hers and she pretends not to notice, uncertain of the intent.

When their food arrives, he lops off a corner of a buttermilk biscuit and relocates it to the edge of her plate, creating a path of crumbs between them. “Just like mom’s,” he says.

She can’t picture Mulder’s mom cooking anything, but especially something like chicken and biscuits. She wonders if he grew up eating things like Beignets and croquettes and flan. As a kid, did he even get Cheerios for breakfast like everyone else? Rather funny to think about considering what he lives on today.

Scully tries the biscuit and it’s not bad. It’s definitely not Mom’s, but it’s not Bisquick either. Her turkey club is okay, but the lettuce is suspicious and they forgot to go easy on the mayo. She uses her butter knife to scrape half off into a wiggly heart attack mass on her plate.

“So you really thought he was me, Scully?”

Her chewing slows.

Mulder’s expression is neutral, but the question succeeds in irritating her. He already knows the answer, so what could possibly be the point in asking?

Yes, let’s rub in the fact that she almost did God-only-knows-what with a man she thought was her partner. It’s not enough that a detailed account of what happened is right there in the case file for their supervisor, and anyone else with proper clearance, to see. And while they’re at it, they can go back another three months and read about how she had sex with a stranger she met in a tattoo parlor. Her mother would be so proud.   

Are there *any* intimate details about her life lately that *aren’t* documented in an X-File? Oh wait, yes.  How about the fact that before she let Ed Jerse fuck her doggystyle on top of his sagging mattress, she performed fellatio on him until he was panting and twitching in her mouth. She almost wishes the investigators had thought to ask about that -  it definitely was one of her more impressive blow jobs. Cancer means you don’t do anything half-assed anymore.

Scully pushes her plate away with half the sandwich uneaten. “No, I thought it was Eddie Van Blundht,” she replies with icy sarcasm. “He’s exactly my type, couldn’t you tell?”

The corners of Mulder’s mouth twitch a little, like he may have picked up on the fact that she’d just inadvertently confessed to having a “type” and that he might be it. Well, news flash – physical attractiveness aside, up until several years ago, Mulder was so far from her type that short of an apocalyptic event which left them as the only two surviving  humans on earth, she would not have considered dating him, let alone sleeping with him. When and why that changed is anyone’s guess, and considerable cause for concern. It’s not like she *wants* to feel this way about him. Jesus.

And if he doesn’t stop doing that with his lower lip, she’s going to take a damn cab home.

Is it tiring being that good-looking?

“I had been drinking, Mulder.” She looks at him squarely. “I know for a fact I’m not the first person who’s made an ill-considered choice while under the influence.”

Checkmate.

They share eye contact until the florescent lights start making everything in her peripheral vision look film noir.  

She’s convinced for a minute that this is it. They’re going to talk about what happened on his couch. This crummy little Happy Days diner will be the backdrop for their most awkward conversation ever. Suddenly, she can’t imagine anything more depressing, so she’s relieved when their waitress interrupts to suggest the pecan pie.

“No, thank you,” she says dully.

Mulder fishes for his wallet. “Just the check.”

“Sure, honey. You don’t know what you’re missing. JJ makes it fresh every day. We got ‘em to go too, if you want.”

He flicks the Bureau credit card on top of the bill. “I’m going to make a pit stop. I’ll meet you in the car.” Scully catches the keys mid-flight.

When he slides in behind the steering wheel, she has to ask. “What was your second song?”

“Blueberry Hill,” he replies. “Fats Domino.”

“I don’t remember hearing it play.” She likes that one too.

“It did.” He sighs. “It always worked for The Fonz. I guess it’s just not my day to be cool.”

***

 

Sticky Wager

 

Irritated with anything that breathes, Scully parks her carry-on near the gate and collapses into a stiff chair, pulling off one shoe. Her arches are killing her from traipsing all over kingdom come in brand new Coach pumps.  No matter how pretty they are, they’re not an outlet bargain if they make you want to cry like a baby.

“How can our flight be delayed three and a half hours?” she whines, to Mulder and to anyone who will listen. “It’s seventy-five damn degrees with not a cloud in the sky.”

Mulder weeds out the pocket lint and pops the leftover sunflower seed into his mouth. “In Florida, yeah. Our plane is coming from Chicago. Storms there.”

Damn Chicago. Damn Florida. Damn moth men. Damn…ass-kissing Agent Stonecipher and her bottle blonde ponytail.

 “What’s the matter with your feet?”

“New shoes.”

He blinks at her. “Why did you buy shoes that hurt your feet?”

“Because I didn’t know they would hurt my feet,” she snaps.

“You didn’t try them on?”

She rolls her eyes. “Of course I tried them on. But until you’ve crossed multiple concourses wearing four-inch heels, you don’t know what pain is.”

“I’ll keep that in mind.”

“So now what?” Scully recrosses her legs to reach the other heel. The second stockinged foot stretches euphorically in her hand. Freedom! She’s all but certain the blissed out look on her face resembles something straight out of Mulder’s porn tapes, but she couldn’t care less.  “Holy Mother of God, that feels good.”

When she opens her eyes again, Mulder’s expression is one of pure delight. “You take your time,” he says, grinning.

She hates him for his neat loafers.

God, his feet are big. Clown feet. He has long monkey toes, she’s seen them. The kind you can swing from trees with. His fingers are long too. Everything on him is…long.  Did she really just think that? Yup. And it isn’t even like she’s guessing anymore.

“So what do you want to do for three point five hours, G-Woman?”

“Truthfully? Sleep.”

Mulder surveys the accommodations. Dirty vinyl chairs, separated by molded armrests. “Eat?” he suggests, alternatively.

Scully sighs. “I could eat.”

“There’s a TGI Fridays a ways back. It’s Happy Hour,” he muses. “And I think I owe you a wine and cheese social.” 

Mulder stands.

Scully looks down at her brand new, pretty cream, two hundred-dollar pumps and pouts. “Please don’t make me put them back on.”

 The only seats available are at the bar and Scully isn’t about to stand another minute than she has to in her gift-from-the-devil shoes. They perch on high wooden chairs at the end of the polished mahogany bar and tuck their carry-on bags under their feet, along with everyone else’s. Scully can’t touch the floor, so she hooks her chunky heels around the chair rungs.  

Mulder looks at the menu. “The only cheese appetizer is fried mozzarella sticks.” He looks hopeful.

“Sorry Mulder, I think you missed your window of opportunity for the wine and cheese reception.

He shakes his head, flipping the menu. “No wine and cheese…and it didn’t rain sleeping bags either. Guess it just wasn’t my trip.”

Scully looks up, not sure she heard him right.

“Burger and a beer?” he asks.

“What?”

He lowers his menu. “I’m getting a burger and a beer. What do you want?”

She finds her voice. “That. But with a glass of red wine, though. And split an order of onion rings with me.”

He raises his brows.

“I have blisters on my feet and I’m not going to get back to my apartment til…” she glances at her watch and quickly calculates travel time, “two-thirty in the morning. Buy me onion rings.”

Mulder places the order.

When they finish eating, more than two hours remain before their plane boards. They order more drinks.

“So do you ever get tired of strangers hitting on you, Scully?”

She chokes on a swallow. “What are you talking about, Mulder?”

“Your eleven o’clock, United Airlines uniform.”

Scully’s eyes drift over discreetly to the pilot. He’s eating a thick sandwich and watching the football game on the big screen TV above the bar.

“Mulder, you’re delusional. He’s entirely engrossed in the game.”

“Yeah, give him a minute. He’s been having you for dessert for the past half hour.”

Scully flushes at his blunt choice of words. “You’re crazy. He isn’t paying the least bit of attention to me, and why would he? You’ve been sitting next to me all evening; how does he know we’re not together?”

“Because if he looks any harder at your left hand, he’s going to give himself a neck cramp. Besides, by the way we’re dressed and the luggage we’re carrying, we look like professional colleagues, not lovers.”

Jesus. The heat in her face intensifies. “Well, I think you’re imagining things.”

“If you say so.”

“Mulder, he’s working.”

“Doesn’t look like he’s working to me. Looks like he’s on a break. And definitely enjoying himself.”

“He’s minding his own business, Mulder.”

“Okay,” he says, nonchalantly. He finishes his beer and stands. “I’ll be right back.” Scully watches him disappear in the direction of the men’s room.

A minute later, she risks a casual glance to her left and sure enough, there are two eyes on her. The pilot catches her looking over and smiles politely, lifting his chin in greeting. Scully glances away again quickly and redirects her attention to the contents of her purse, pretending to be hunting for a lost item.

“So do you believe me now?”

She startles. “Jesus, Mulder, you scared me. Is that why you left? To see if he’d make a move?” She frowns her disapproval.

“No, I had to take a leak, but that’s not a bad idea now that you mention it.” He gestures with a tilt of his head to her half-empty glass. “Stay and finish your drink and I’ll meet you at the gate in a little while.” He’s grinning at her like they’re plotting a million-dollar heist.

She huffs. “That’s ridiculous, Mulder. He’s not going to come over here and try to pick me up in the middle of an airport restaurant.”

“Wanna bet?”

“Not particularly, no.”

“Yes, you do.”

“Forget it. Not interested, Mulder.”

He unfolds two twenties to cover his meal and beer and tucks them under his empty glass. “Come on, Scully, what else are we going to do for the next two hours? I’ll bet you one of those gooey cinnamon rolls from Au Bon Pain that if I leave you alone, he’ll come over and take a shot.”

Her eyes narrow. She likes those rolls.

She also enjoys proving Mulder wrong.

“Fine. I’ll sit here. You know Mulder, your suggestions for how to kill time in an airport could use some work. Remind me to bring a book next time.”

He grins at her and slides the handle up on his carry-on bag. “Have fun. I’ll see you at the gate. And don’t forget my cinnamon roll.”

Scully passes time checking messages on her cell phone. She figures she owes Mulder no more than twenty minutes of good sportsmanship before she’s justifiably won the stupid bet.  Men don’t pick up women in airport bars. Not that she’s tested this theory or would ever want to. Not that she really has any idea where men pick up women anymore.  And it’s not like the pilot doesn’t have a legitimate reason to be there; he’s obviously killing time between flights.

There’s a message from her mother, just calling to check on how she’s doing. This has been a daily occurrence since her cancer went into remission. Even though she was cleared to return to work a month and a half ago. Even though she told her mother she would be in Florida at a workshop for three days. Her mom still worries about the demands of her job. “It’s just a workshop, Mom. I’ll be sitting in a hotel conference room all day. You don’t need to worry.” Guess she should probably skip bringing up the moth men then.

Her phone is to her ear when the chair next to her creaks with the weight of a new occupant. She glances over, still half listening to her mother go on about Christmas at Bill’s this year and how it would be nice if she’d go (since she’s not busy dying anymore).

It’s him. Shit on a stick.

He’s ordering a drink and pulling a shiny plastic Mastercard from his wallet. She can’t read the name without looking obvious.

Dammit, she hates losing a bet to Mulder. She’s going to hear about this one for days.

Scully sighs and tucks her phone into her purse. Maybe he won’t say anything to her and it won’t count. Maybe there was a draft at his end of the bar and he had to move to another seat. Maybe his chair broke.

“Excuse me, but do we know each other?”

She looks at him, not expecting the question. “Um, I… don’t think so, no.” If it’s a pick-up line, it’s new on her.

“Sorry, you just looked really familiar. You didn’t attend Long Island University, by any chance, did you? Southampton campus?”

Scully shakes her head. “No, I’m sorry. You must’ve mistaken me for someone else.”

“Possibly,” he says, smiling. “Sometimes that happens to me, feeling as if I’ve seen someone before.”

She has no idea how to respond to that, so she simply nods and sips her wine.

“Flight delay?”   

“Yes,” she replies, returning a cautious, but polite smile.

“Not United, I hope.”

“Uh, no.”   

“Where are you flying to?” 

“Washington, DC.”

He bobs his head. “One of my routes. Not today, though. I’m headed home.”

“Where’s home?”

“Brussels.”

She arches her brows. “You sound American.”

He nods. “I am. Born and raised in Philadelphia.”

Oh God. Does she emit some kind of pheromone that draws them to her? Even when she’s not in that city, they find her. If he wasn’t wearing a uniform, she’d be checking for tattoos.

“My home base has been Brussels for eighteen months now. Before that, it was Rome.”

He isn’t terrible looking. He isn’t handsome either. Forties, light brown hair, thinning at the temples, bad haircut. Five ten-ish, medium build, fifteen extra pounds. Round face, too-small eyes, prominent forehead, overbite. Let’s face it – not a guy who would ever draw her attention.  

He removes his cap and lays it on top of the bar. “I’m Brad, by the way.”

She accepts his extended hand. “Dana.”

“Nice to meet you, Dana.  So what brings you to the Sunshine State? I’m guessing by the way you’re dressed, you didn’t just spend a week at Disney World.”

Something about the way his eyes rest on her makes Scully feel like a specimen under a microscope. If she were building a profile, she’d say that Brad is just a little too charming to be sincere. It’s the look from a man who’s trying to figure out what color her underwear is. And thinking he might have a shot in hell at finding out. He probably spends more on his wardrobe than she does and drives a car that he believes compensates for…other inadequacies. Not to mention his mommy issues.     

Maybe she’s being a little too harsh. Maybe not. She forces a smile that she hopes doesn’t seem flirtatious and shakes her head. “You would be correct, Brad. I’m here on business.”

“Yeah?” His drink arrives and he nods at the bartender. “Thanks, Pal. And how about getting the lady another glass of wine.”

Scully puts up her hand. “No, really. I-that’s okay, but thank you.”

He looks notably disappointed. “Beer? Coke?”

“Just water,” she tells the bartender graciously.

“So you were about to tell me what it is you do,” pushes Brad. Apparently, he’s willing to attempt this without getting her drunk. He chews the olives off a swizzle stick.

“No wait, let me guess.”

This ought to be interesting.

He scrutinizes her carefully. “I’d say…. you’re in some kind of…television journalism maybe? A news reporter? Or one of those pretty weather girls...” He chuckles, pleased with himself.

Scully blinks coolly, making no attempt to look impressed. Is this guy for real? Does this really work on women?  

Translating her expression accurately, his face sobers and he clears his throat. “I was just kidding. No, that wouldn’t be you, you’re …..let’s see…..you’re, hmmm…..”   

A tall glass of ice water is placed in front of Scully and she takes several long swallows as Brad flounders unattractively. Is she being unnecessarily cruel? She has no intention of furthering this encounter -  wouldn’t with this man under any circumstances, even if it wasn’t part of a silly bet. So she ought to just put him out of his misery and leave. She feels like a cat torturing a mouse, slapping it around a little for entertainment before going for the kill.

Then again, she had been the one minding her own business.

Brad snaps his fingers and rewards her with a toothy grin. “I got it! You’re an attorney. One of those smart, independent, lady lawyer types. Am I right?”

She doesn’t have the energy to bother, she just doesn’t. “How did you know? That’s amazing,” she says, flatly.

Encouraged, Brad scoots his chair closer. He keeps his voice low, like the purr of an engine. “I’ve always been good with that sort of thing. I just have this natural intuition, you know? Okay, okay, I’ll admit…” He rests his hand smoothly on top of the bar next to hers. “Sometimes I just feel unusual connections with certain people.  I think that’s what happened with you, actually. I can’t really explain it any better. I know it must sound crazy to you.”

You’d be surprised at what doesn’t sound crazy to me anymore, she thinks.

“Anyway,” he shrugs, eyes raking over her. “I don’t mean to make you uncomfortable. I’m just a firm believer in fate. I don’t think we ever really know what brings two people together, you know?” 

Oh Brother. “Absolutely.”  

A yawn sneaks up on her and Scully chokes it back. This is painful. She’s never had root canal, but it can’t be this bad. Bet or no bet, Mulder owes her.

Brad waxes on about destiny and auras and past lives and she thinks perhaps she should fix him up with Mulder.  “…You see, I really felt like when I saw you from the other end of the bar, that there was just something special about you, Dana. Like somehow there was a reason why our time here coincided on this particular day in this particular airport…” blah, blah, blah, blah.

If she pulls her gun on him, how much trouble would she get in? Theoretically.

Something catches her eye and it takes her a full few minutes of tuning out Brad’s drivel to realize what she’s seeing. It’s his hand. Not specifically the hand itself, but something on the hand. Or more aptly, something that was on the hand and isn’t now.

A half-inch strip of skin, paler than the rest of his hand. A tan line. On the third finger of his left hand.

Brown-haired Brad with his officer’s stripes and crock of new age bullshit is married. Suddenly he’s no longer just boring and pushy, he’s pond scum.

Scully takes a drink of water and crunches an ice cube forcefully.

“So enough about me, Dana.  What kind of law do you practice, anyway?”

 She takes her time. Her eyes narrow just a little, but she maintains a coy smile.  “Well Brad,” she replies, wetting her bottom lip. Enticed and eager, elbow on the bar, Brad leans into her personal space. She looks him in the eye. “I’m a divorce attorney.”

Brad sputters and coughs on his drink, but recovers admirably. “Really?”

“Really.”

“Well that sounds like it must be interesting for you.”

“It’s very satisfying, yes.” The way she says ‘satisfying’ makes him wince like he’s been castrated.

He’s only quiet for half a minute, though, before his optimism spikes once more and he leans closer, a gimpy grin on his face. She has to give him points for persistence. Or stupidity.

He clears his throat and chuckles lightly. “So listen, don’t take this the wrong way or anything, and I don’t know how long your layover is but, uh… you look like you could stand to get off your feet for a while. My flight doesn’t leave until the morning and I’ve got a room at the Holiday Inn. I’m not suggesting anything, of course, I just thought, ya know…I’d love to hear more about what you do over a bottle of wine.”  He quirks an alluring smile at her. “There’s a hot tub.”

Aaand there it is.

God, she hates losing a bet to Mulder.

For one long minute, Scully sits with a sweetly demure smile playing on her lips and her legs crossed, letting Brad persist in his delusion that there’s a snowball’s chance in hell of getting up her skirt tonight. Because the look on his face will be all the more satisfying when she finally tells him to go fuck himself. If there was any wine remaining in her glass, she might consider redecorating his freshly pressed uniform with it.

“That is a tempting offer, I have to admit,” she says, looking at her watch. “But unfortunately, my time is almost up.” She stands and shoulders her purse. “And guess what? That means yours is too, Brad. Or should I call you Richard Craft? Maybe you go by Dick.” She has to smile at that.

The color drains from his face. “How do you know my name?”

Scully’s eyes dip to the bar. “It’s written on the inside of your hat.”

With a dreary sigh, he picks it up.

Lifting the handle of her carry-on with a snap, she swings the bag into the aisle. “So long, Dick. Enjoy the hot tub. I’ll be sure your wife gets my card when she needs a good divorce attorney.”

When Scully arrives at the gate, the smug grin on her face causes Mulder to lower his newspaper and stare. “What are you so happy about?”

She shakes the Au Bon Pain bag at him and hands it over. “I lost the bet.”

Mulder takes the bag and unrolls the top, peering inside suspiciously.  His eyes return to her. “You hate losing a bet.”

“I do,” she agrees, cheerfully.

She can feel him watching her as she settles her bag next to her and sits down, still smiling. She digs in the side pocket of her purse for her boarding pass. “I’m by the window, which means you’re in the middle. Do you want to switch?”

He doesn’t say anything, but she can still feel the heat of his eyes.

“Earth to Mulder. Middle or window?”

“Window.”

“Give me a bite of your cinnamon roll.”

“Okay,” he says, hesitantly. The bag crunches as he reaches inside. He holds the edge of the pastry by the paper while Scully tears off a corner. The dough is pillowy between her fingers and she folds it carefully into her mouth.

“Mmmmm, oh God,” she moans in earnest.  Eyes drifting shut, she savors the sweetness. Her tongue snakes out to capture the icing on her lips before sucking each fingertip clean. “Oh Mulder. THAT is heavenly.”

When she finishes her bite and opens her eyes again, he’s staring at her mouth like he wants to climb over the armrest into her seat.  Swallowing hard, he lifts the bag. “You can have the rest, if you want.”

Chapter Text

Spooky and the Doc, That’s a Big 10-4

 

“You’re not a bad dancer,” she observes, smiling wistfully out the passenger window of the sedan at passing mile markers.

“You sound surprised.”

She is. More so at the way he’d swept her onto the dance floor and then twirled her like a prom date, moony smile on his face. What the hell was that?

Not that she’s complaining. It was a nice dance, as dances go. She’ll admit that she got caught up in the moment as well. She’ll never listen to Cher’s music in quite the same way again, that’s for sure.   

“Where did you learn?” she asks, legitimately curious.

Mulder chuckles quietly. “You don’t want to know.”

She doesn’t press, but she does float him a look that says she really does.

“An ex,” he concedes finally.  “Apparently, we didn’t do enough fun things together. Ballroom dancing lessons was her suggestion. Mine was Redskins season tickets. Obviously, I drew the short straw.”

Scully watches him drive, his profile glowing green from the dashboard lights. Mulder took dance lessons for a woman once. The idea is perplexing and leaves her with a tight feeling in her throat for no reason she can figure.

“This one had a good ending,” he says, satisfaction in his voice.

“What did?”

“The case. It’s nice to feel like we actually did something good.”

She frowns a little. “I think we do a lot of good.”

“Yeah. I guess. Sometimes it’s hard to see the silver lining, ya know?”

“You’re bumming me out, Mulder.” 

“Let’s find an all-night diner and get the biggest, baddest ice cream sundaes they have.”

They spend half their lives on the road, the other half in diners. They’re like truckers in more expensive clothing. Maybe they should get CB handles. He can be Spooky and she can be Doc. Like Smokey and the Bandit.

This is the strangest life she never imagined. 

 Scully smiles contentedly and tips her head back. “You’re on.”

***

 

Once More from the Top, But With Feeling

 

She is supposed to be driving in the direction of his place, but somehow they end up half a mile from hers. The saying “so angry I can’t see straight” has some merit to it. It’s a miracle they’ve made it anywhere in one piece.

“You could have died!” She chokes the steering wheel in her grip.

“But I didn’t,” he points out, calmly.

“They had NO RIGHT! They deliberately withheld information from you, from both of us, that put you at tremendous risk. It was essentially a suicide mission, Mulder, doesn’t that bother you?”

“Of course it does, but what do you expect me to do? No one’s going to assume responsibility. You know that as well as I do, Scully. It’s the reality under which we’ve been operating for the last five years and one undercover op is not going to change that.”

They make it to her apartment building and she shifts into park, cutting the engine. Mulder looks out the window at the brick front with its clean windows and manicured hedges. Upper middle class, a stretch on her salary, but after growing up on a crowded naval base, she justifies spending her money on more than she needs.

He doesn’t ask why they’re here. She was supposed to take him home, but it’s debatable which of them should not be alone tonight.

Seized with frustration again, she bangs both hands once on the steering wheel. “I hate that I have no one to take my anger out on.” It feels like there’s chalk dust in her throat and bitter tears prick at the corners of her eyes. “I hate this!”

He reaches and her hands disappear into his. “Be angry with me,” he pleads. “I agreed to the assignment, Scully. I didn’t have to.” His touch takes the sting out of her rage. She wants to be mad at him, but like all the other times, there is something tragic in him that softens her.

“Come inside,” she says with a sigh.  

Scully makes coffee while Mulder leans against the archway, watching her like he’s unsure what’s expected of him.

“I wanted to tell you about it,” he offers quietly. “I was uncomfortable from the beginning with you not knowing.”

She nods and closes her eyes for a moment. “I know. Skinner told me.”

All the clean dishes are still in the dishwasher, dry for days, reminding her how little she’s been home this terrible week. The two mugs left in the cupboard are chipped and she’ll be damned if she’s going to give him anything broken tonight. She starts putting plates away.  

Her mind paints a picture of him kneeling in the dirt with his hands behind his back, terrified and alone. Would he have been thinking of her right before the bullet pierced his brain and stopped his heart? How long would he have lain there, dead on the cold ground, before they found him?

The heat of her fury stirs again, but this time it’s mixed with an even stronger emotion. Fear. Anguish. Maybe love.

The glasses clink together as she hastily pushes them into the cupboard. She isn’t interested at all in being careful. They’re just things. Stupid, meaningless, replaceable things. To prove it, she hurls a mug – a red and blue UPenn one of Ethan’s that she should have chucked years ago with the rest of his stuff and it shatters, raining shards into the stainless steel sink and over the stove top.

She swears and braces her palms on the counter, swallowing a sob.

“Hey,” he whispers, squeezing her slumped shoulders. “It’s okay, I’m here.” He feels solid standing behind her, something she can lean into like a human umbrella. Her storm shield. 

“It’s not okay, Mulder. They made me doubt you. Nobody has the right to do that.” Her head shakes, indignantly. “Nobody.”

Mulder sighs, pulling her closer and she turns into his arms. “No they don’t,” he whispers to her hair.

The brushed cotton of his shirt soothes when she surrenders her wet cheek to it. His heartbeat echoes in his chest like a metronome, and her respiration slows, matching rhythms.

She almost lost him forever. No one, not even Scully herself, can know what that would have done to her.  

They stand woven together, breathing in tandem, for a long time. Until she’s sure he’s really there and he isn’t going anywhere. His scent is as familiar as her own. Something masculine, but gentle and very uniquely Mulder. Coffee and sandalwood and clean cotton. It always makes her feel sleepy and safe.

When she turns her face into the hollow of his throat, right below his Adam’s apple, she isn’t thinking about wanting him that way. She’s spent enough time convincing herself she doesn’t. Funny how convincing she can be when she lies to herself.  Her mouth opens against his salty skin and she allows just a taste.

The hands at her waist flex, then tighten. Mulder’s eyes sharpen and dart around for a split second. “Scully,” he whispers uncertainly, spoken like a released breath.

She marvels at how fast her brain can redirect anger into desire. It’s far from the first time she’s felt it – that feeling like she needs to scream and slap him and fuck him standing up.

Her lips climb his jaw, depositing whisper-light pecks. She can’t see the look in his eyes at this angle, but he’s breathing faster. His thumbs press into her pelvic bone.     

She’s poised on tiptoes now, mouth open, the hot steam of their breath funneling. The warning in his eyes makes her knees weak, but she refuses to head for safer ground. Instead, she blinks slowly under heavy lashes, stroking her lower lip with her tongue.    

The kiss, when it comes, is far from shy and anything but accidental. Her fingers twist in his hair and his hand sneaks under her blouse to caress her bare back, staying politely south of her bra clasp.

She feels him grow hard against her stomach and she thinks ‘that was fast.’  He presses her into the edge of the counter and the coffee pot gurgles behind them.  Her tongue flicks around the inside of his mouth like a hot flame.

It’s Mulder who breaks away first, pulling back with a regretful look, which she quickly misinterprets. “Scully, I-“ He shakes his head, trying to catch a breath.

Her cheeks color. She’s embarrassed and slightly irritated at the same time. Why the hell was he feeling her up then? And she knows she hadn’t imagined his arousal.

“It’s fine,” she whispers hastily, refusing his eyes. “Forget it.”

She tries to slip away from him, but his hands hold onto her waist. “No. I don’t want to forget it. The last thing I want to do is forget it.” He huffs. “You just took me by surprise, that’s all. I have to figure either you’re very forgiving, or very forgetful.”

It takes her a few beats, but she finally realizes what he’s talking about. Her fair skin burns even hotter and she shakes her head, looking down. “Mulder-“

“Because I sure as hell wouldn’t be excited about trying again if I were you,” he continues. “Suffice it to say it’s been a year and a half and I still haven’t worked up the nerve to ask for a second chance.”

His confession throws her completely and she pulls her chin back, dumbfounded. “I didn’t know you…wanted one.”

He looks at her like she’s crazy. “What threw you off – the phone calls every weekend for no reason, the slow dancing, the shameless innuendo…”

Scully bites her bottom lip and her eyes fall.

Well, well.

It feels like she’s swallowed a whole net full of butterflies.

“Scully, it was bad,” he admits. His hand comes up to graze her cheek tenderly, and he releases a self-deprecating laugh. “I think I can say with some confidence that I’ve never been that bad.”

This is more than either of them has said since it happened. The relief is overwhelming and Scully has to hold back from spilling everything she’s thought and felt for the last year. “I…didn’t think you wanted to talk about it. I just figured it was something that happened and we were going to ignore it.”

He looks worried. “Is that what you want?”

With a sigh, she shakes her head once. “No.”

They absorb this while Mulder’s hand mingles with hers, fingers weaving and provoking. It makes it very hard to concentrate on what should happen next.

“Do you still want coffee?” she asks rather absently. She doesn’t want him to leave. If he leaves, they won’t talk about this for another year and a half and she will quietly go insane.

“Yes,” he says. “We should talk.” He plants a kiss to her forehead and then leaves her breathless in the kitchen.

Mulder is diligently engineering a fire in her underutilized fireplace by the time she joins him in the living room. There is wadded newspaper littering her floor. He stirs the pile of ashes and charred logs with an iron poker. “Indian Guide make fire,” he says gruntingly, and she smiles. So far, this Indian Guide business hasn’t really come in handy for them.

She sets two steaming mugs on coasters and peruses her CD collection for something fitting the mood. There really isn’t anything perfect for “let’s discuss the awful sex we had.” She chances early Aretha Franklin.

They sit on the couch together, half facing one another, his arm unassumingly stretched across the back of the cushions like he’s done countless times before. Scully can tell he’s waiting for her to say something, that he’s nervous about what’s going through her head. There’s a level of vulnerability in his demeanor that makes her feel off-balance.

“I just figured it happened once and you wanted to forget about it,” she admits, her eyes glancing off his.

“I did. But probably not for the reasons you think.”

Her eyes prompt him.

“I was embarrassed, Scully. I still am. I guess I thought if we ignored it long enough, you might start to think you’d imagined I was really that awful in bed. Not even in bed.” He makes a pained face. “Jesus, there was no bed.”

She touches his sleeve. “It wasn’t one of the more brilliant things we’ve done.”

“It’s nice of you to imply that you hold any degree of responsibility, Scully, but don’t. It was entirely me.”

Scully clears her throat. “Well, it’s not like I stopped you,” she says gingerly.

He waits a beat before he speaks again. “I noticed that.”

Their eyes meet and hold, then proceed to have an entire conversation all on their own.

“My take on it,” he hedges, “and stop me if I’m wrong, is that there was…interest… before that night. Mutual.”

She raises her brows just enough to assure him he isn’t crazy. Not about this anyway.

“And then I pretty much fucked it up beyond repair.”

“Maybe not beyond repair….” She can feel the heat of his gaze on her as she retreats into her coffee mug. He seems to be waiting for her to elaborate, but she refuses. Minutes ago, he’d had his hands up the back of her blouse. Surely the trained investigator in him should be able to apply the clues.

“I know I didn’t imagine how upset you were,” he presses, “in the weeks that followed.”

“No. No, you didn’t. I felt used. Like I just happened to be there. Like you thought I was an easy…” She tilts her head at him, but looks away. It’s a statement she doesn’t need to finish.

His head shakes emphatically. “No. I would never think…no.” He sighs. “Scully…I-“

“The condom broke.” She looks at him squarely. He might as well know, not that it matters now.

“What?”

 “Well, it didn’t exactly break. It…slipped off. Inside me.” She swallows. “I, um, had stopped taking birth control by then.” This is probably way too much unnecessary information about her sex life.   

Mulder sags against the back of the couch. “Jesus…Scully, why didn’t you say something?”

She shrugs at him, wondering what the point is in bringing it up now, except that yeah, it had been a hellish few weeks while she wondered just how badly they’d fucked up their lives.

“I assumed I wasn’t,” she says, “but then I was several days late.”

He groans, afflicted. “I don’t understand why you didn’t say something?”

Scully really hadn’t planned to drag this up, but she has to admit to a degree of satisfaction at his anguished response. He wasn’t the one who took seven home pregnancy tests in five days. He wasn’t the one running to the bathroom every half hour to check for the start of a period. He wasn’t the one who would’ve had to break her Catholic mother’s heart when she found out her only remaining daughter had gotten knocked up by her work partner in a 3 minute drunken fuck. Well yes, she would have made him do that part if she’d been pregnant. It would have served him right.    

“There was no point in both of us worrying about it until I knew for sure,” she replies, less dramatically.

His expression says he thinks she’s off her rocker. “Yes there was. Of course there was.” He lowers his voice. “Did you think I wouldn’t step up? If…”

And do what exactly? Marry her? She scoffs quietly at the idea. How conventional of them.  

“What?” he asks. “Say it.”  He’s starting to appear a touch irritated.

“I really…I don’t see why it’s necessary to consider the potential ramifications of something that never transpired. You asked why I was so upset afterward.” As if thinking he’d used her for sex wasn’t enough reason. She crosses her arms over herself. “And so I’m… telling you.”

There’s a stretch of dense silence in which he looks her over, nonconfrontationally. She can’t read him right now and she hates that. He doesn’t have the right to be pissed off about anything. If he makes this about him-

“I would have stepped up,” he says.

“It doesn’t matter.”

“It does. I don’t give a shit what anyone else in the world thinks of me, Scully. Just you.” He tries for eye contact and she finally gives it to him. “I care what you think.”

But see, that’s the thing she hasn’t the energy to make him understand. No girl dreams of having a child with a man who’s “doing the right thing.” And despite Mulder’s shortcomings, he is without a doubt an honorable man.

Boy, wouldn’t that have made for hot gossip in the bullpen.     

She sighs when he takes her hand, wondering when exactly this conversation turned into an argument.

“I’m sorry, Scully. I wasn’t planning for it to happen that night, but it doesn’t change the fact that I was a selfish jerk. And I’m sorry you had to deal with all the rest …the worrying.” He threads his fingers with hers. “If something had happened, we would have figured it out together.”

That’s about the best thing he could’ve said.

She nods and fights back the surge of emotion that comes from knowing it’s all a sad, moot point. He could lose a hundred condoms in her now and it wouldn’t matter. The irony of them discussing what they’d have done if she’d gotten pregnant without planning to. It seems so anticlimactic now.

 His stiff posture suggests he’s overthinking her silence. “So now what?”

“I don’t know.”

“Earlier in the kitchen…what was that?”

Her cheeks darken for about the twenty-second time. “I don’t know,” she repeats. “It felt like the thing to do.”

Mulder nods and rubs his chin in thought. They size each other up silently until he speaks again. “Does it still feel like the thing to do?”

Her eyes find his. “Maybe,” she whispers.

He slowly places his empty coffee mug on the table and closes the distance between them. She knows what’s coming, but it doesn’t keep her heart from skipping a beat when his fingertips lift her chin. His lips brush hers and she almost spills the rest of her coffee. They both chuckle nervously and Mulder takes the mug from her. “Careful there, calamity Jane.”   

Coffee aside, his hands return to her face. “I was serious about wanting a second chance.”

Oh God.   

Scully blinks slowly, wetting her lips. Before her fraying nerves convince her to go lock herself in the bathroom, she initiates another kiss. Her lips feather back and forth over his before tipping her head and going all in. She kisses him long and deep and doesn’t stop until his hand tightens on her knee.

“What, Mulder? What is it?”

He looks like he might pass out.  

With a half-pant, half-laugh, he melds his forehead to hers. “Nothing, I just really want this.”

The edges of her mouth twitch and she palms the back of his head tenderly. “Breathe, Mulder. This won’t be nearly as much fun if you pass out on me.”

He chuckles. “I’m okay.”  

 Their eyes smile at each other and it’s just them, like it always is. She tells him so, telepathically, even though she claims she doesn’t believe in such things. Never say never, his eyes reply.  

She decides to be the brave one and lifts one knee over his hip, sliding into his lap. Her bottom settles carefully against his erection. Mulder draws a deep, hitchy breath, but holds the eye contact. It doesn’t appear that a coronary event is imminent and she thinks he’ll be okay, so she kisses him again.

As their tongues become more curious, her fingernails slip between the buttons of his shirt to graze his skin. Mulder’s hands frisk her sides, thumbs gently massaging her rib cage, tracing the underwire of her bra.  Scully finds herself wishing to God he’d stop being so polite with his hands.  

When the kiss breaks, their faces stay so close that his eyelashes tickle her cheeks. He nuzzles her temple, skims his open mouth along her hairline, teases her earlobe. “I want to take you to bed,” he whispers. The fireplace crackles and pops, sending up a plume of hot, fiery embers.

In her bedroom, she stands so he can’t reach and makes him watch her undress to her bra and panties. He tries to hold her eyes, but he can’t, stealing hungry glances as she peels away clothing.

“You can look,” she invites. She kicks her slacks aside with the toe of one shoe and stands in front of him in her heels and lingerie. It feels naughty and she bites her lower lip, letting it slide through her teeth. It might be the closest she’s ever come to performing a strip tease.

He fidgets. His hands flex. He looks like he wants to pounce. She feels like prey.

Light from the hallway slices her bedroom into strips. Moonlight filters through the blinds and softens the edges, casting everything in an astral glow. She knows he can see her well enough because she can see him. She wants to see more.

Her small fingers work at his buttons, skillfully. When he tries to help, Scully brushes his hands away. No, this is hers. She didn’t get to do this last time. A bit of selfishness on her part would not be uncalled for.  

Teasing his mouth, she skims her hands over his smooth shoulders, pushing his shirt to the floor. She’s seen him bare-chested before plenty of times, but she’s never mapped him with her fingertips, delighted in the ripple of his muscles, the tightening of his nipples. Their tongues twist as he slides his hands down her hips, over the back of her panties to cup her bottom. He squeezes hard and she almost loses her breath, wavering on her heels. She loves her ass touched. Once in a great while spanked gently, but she won’t tell him that. He can figure it out on his own.

His erection tents the front of his pants, nudges at her belly impatiently. “Look at me! Notice me!” Penises are curious things. Always ambitious, seldom well-behaved. Persevering despite the odds, moody and emotional. Mulder’s brain is unique and unusual, but other parts of him are gloriously, flawlessly male.

Scully presses closer, lets him know she can feel it, teases him a little with a twist of her hips. His eyes flash panic and his fingers mark her ass cheeks. She’ll be able to see that tomorrow, she thinks, vaguely thrilled. “Damn,” he mutters without separating his mouth from hers. “Please, Scully.”

She’s enjoying this a bit too much.  “Please what?”

With two handfuls of her ass, Mulder yanks her against him and grinds until she whimpers and bites his lower lip.

His belt proves to be no challenge at all and there is something very satisfying about the clank of the buckle hitting the floor. There is a nearly unclothed man in her bedroom. Thank God, finally.

She has the sudden urge to stun him with how assertive she can be sexually. There’s very little he doesn’t know about her, but he doesn’t know that.

She coaxes him to sit on the edge of the bed and then tucks herself between his parted legs. Beguiled, he watches her. Reaching back, Scully snaps her bra clasp open and slides the straps off her shoulders, one by one. Her breasts spill out and he captures them with two hands, dipping his face forward to chase one nipple with the hot tip of his tongue. She closes her eyes and parts her lips. Her fingers comb through his thicket of hair.

He tongue-bathes her languidly and thoroughly until her nipples are rosy and stiff, her areolas slick. She doesn’t ever want him to stop. Except that she does because his mouth seems to have other ideas, better ones.

Her panties slip down her legs and she can’t believe how suave he is. She’d been completely unaware he was working them off. When he noses her stomach and begins planting open mouth kisses there, she sucks in a quick breath and cradles the back of his head with her palm.

Please, please, please, please, please, please ….oh God…a little lower, just a… little….

Mulder slides off the bed and onto the floor. His mouth moves with him, tickling her inner thighs with the felty tip of his tongue until she says really dirty words under her breath. He fingers her and tips his head back to watch her expression, captivated. It’s almost too much. She fights the urge to hide her face from him.  Instead she pinches her eyes closed.

Panting and squirming in his hands, Scully wants to scream when he spreads her open and introduces the flick of his tongue to her clitoris.  

He makes greedy, hungry noises that drive her crazy. She arches into his mouth and quivers, looking down at the top of his head at it rocks between her thighs. Oh fucking God, he knows what he’s doing.

“Mulder,” she pants, desperately, “I’m going to fall over.” She means it. She can’t stand up much longer with his tongue doing those maddening, wonderful, unholy things to her.

She’s a trembling mess of nerve endings when he hauls her onto the bed. His underwear is still on and all four of their hands tug at the cotton like the house is on fire.

“I don’t want to rush this, Scully. I want to make this good for you.” He’s breathing fast, his eyes feverish.

She agrees it’s a fine idea. Go slow. Savor it. “It’s good, it’s good,” she groans, straddling him and sinking all the way down.

“Je-zuuus,” he hisses, trying to hold her still for a few seconds.   

His back is against the headboard and she’s sitting in his lap, her hands braced on the wall behind him.  This is a brilliant position for them. How did he know? She suspects he’s thought about this a lot. More than she has, which is saying something.

She starts to move, slowly at first, indulging in the sensation of him gliding in and out of her body. The perfect fit, the delicious slide, the waltz of her hips as she rises and falls, the way her vagina tightens around him, eager and thirsty. She finds a sweet spot and accelerates, letting herself get carried away. The wooden headboard knocks against the wall.

Mulder watches her, blissed out, eyes like dark pools.  

“Easy….easy,” he pleads after several minutes.  Lifting them both off the mattress, he grips her thighs tightly so he’s buried inside her. She clenches her muscles and his eyes slam shut. “God, don’t do that, Scully.”

They rock and pitch together slowly, forward and backward, while he soothes her needy hips with his touch.

Mulder tries to capture a nipple in his mouth and she helps, arching her shoulders back and palming the back of his head, guiding him. She knows he likes her breasts. She catches him looking sometimes – in the car when he thinks she’s zoning out the window. In the basement when she reaches past him, blouse stretched tight. When she swings her jacket on and for a split second, her buttons gap. 

Fingertips dance over her rib cage, tracing the slope of each breast. Scully wiggles and releases a yelpy laugh. “That tickles.”

His teeth free her nipple so he can rest his head back and watch them sway at eye level. He caresses each one religiously. “I didn’t see last time. God, they’re so soft and full.”

She’ll never think of her breasts the same way after seeing how he looks at them.  

Scully feels like the most beautiful woman in the world. She dips forward for a kiss and her hair eclipses both their faces.

Her climax, when it happens, is swift and powerful and she cries out into his mouth, rippling and clenching around him. She thinks he will go with her, but he lasts. He seems fascinated by her orgasm, watching her so intensely that she can’t pull her eyes from his. The intimacy is frightening, almost unreal.

This day. This long, terrible, heartbreaking day, when she had come so close to being alone at the end of it. She wants him to stay and hold her all night.

“You,” she whispers, the emotion crushing her. “You’re here.”

He pushes into her deeper. “Yes… I’m here.” Her breasts flatten against him in a tight embrace and his mouth opens to her shoulder as he shudders and jerks forever, then relaxes.

They kiss their way out of it.

**

This is the part that scares her a little bit. She blinks into the moonlight with his chest rising and falling under her. She isn’t sure they know how to do this. 

“You’re thinking too much,” he says, and she startles, surprised he’s still awake.

“Mmm,” she hums, nonspecifically.

“What about?”

She isn’t prepared for the question. “Just…how strange things are.”

“Things…” he prompts.  

She had to know he wouldn’t leave it alone.

“I guess…tonight…and what happened a year ago. Just everything.”

He sighs deeply and now she can feel him thinking too.

“Do you regret it?”

“No,” she answers quickly. “I don’t regret it.” She doesn’t. She’s just not sure what to do about it.  “Do you?”

“No. Well…I regret how things started. But not that we’re here like this, no. Never.”

It feels surreal having this conversation with him, naked and in her bed.

Mulder is naked. Naked. She mentally repeats the word to herself until it sounds foreign and meaningless.

If she could see in the dark better, she’d look under the sheet again to make sure.

He’s been Mulder to her for so long. Her best friend, her partner, her challenger, her protector. Just Mulder. A classification all his own.

Now he’s a man in her bed. Hairy and strong and muscular and virile. Touching her. Wanting her. She is suddenly hyper-aware of his masculinity, of all the parts of him she wasn’t allowed to think about before.

She doesn’t want to want this so badly, but she does.

His fingertips slow on her spine. “Are you okay?”

“Yeah. I mean…yeah.”

“Okay.” He sounds unconvinced.

“You don’t have to feel like…I mean, I’m not expecting…” She sighs, mutters “I don’t know,” and gets up to walk to the bathroom, closing the door behind her.

When she comes back out, the bed is empty, but there’s noise coming from the kitchen. She slips into a cream-colored silk robe and ties it, scrubs her face with her hands and shuffles off to find him.

He’s standing at her sink shirtless, wearing his jeans. His back is to her. He drains a glass of water, refills it, and turns around.

Her eyes glance over him. His pants are zipped, but unbuttoned, the sides folded down. God, he’s beautiful. She tries not to stare at the ripple of his abs or the trickle of dark hair that disappears into his jeans. He isn’t wearing his shorts underneath because they’re still on the floor of her bedroom. 

“Are you leaving?” she asks.

He shrugs and looks her over, thoughtfully. “Anyone ever tell you that you sure know how to kill the pillow talk?” There’s a faint smile on his face, but his eyes are not happy.

She crosses her arms. “I’m sorry it wasn’t what you expected.”

He frowns. “The sex was great. Better than great. Forgive me if I’m just a little puzzled by the part where you tell me I don’t have to call you the next day.”

“Mulder…”

He shakes his head once and watches her shift her bare feet on the cold tiles. “So you’re not interested in more?”

“I didn’t say that. I don’t know what I-“

“Because I am,” he says pointedly, cutting her off.

She looks at him. Her mouth opens, but she can’t think of anything to say.

“Interested in more,” he finishes.

“Oh,” she says, softly.

He looks disappointed, maybe hurt. “Does that surprise you?”

Scully fidgets with the sash on her robe, pulling it tighter. “You don’t think we’re getting ahead of ourselves? We’ve slept together twice.” And the first one didn’t count, she wants to add.

Mulder nods, not in agreement, but to indicate he’s considering her point. Whatever her point is. She’s forgotten now.

They stand there in silence long enough for him to finish his second glass of water.

“It’s not about the sex,” he says finally. “For me anyway. I just want to be with you.”

God. What the hell is wrong with her?

 “I think I, uh…,” he sighs and stares off at a corner of the table blankly for a second, a small frown appearing between his brows. “I’m probably in love with you.”  He stops for several beats to let the idea germinate, refusing eye contact with her.

She watches him place the glass carefully into the sink. “So you should think about what you want.”

He brushes past her to the bedroom.

After a moment of standing frozen in place, she recovers and follows him.

Mulder gathers his clothing off the floor, picks up his wallet and keys from her dresser and puts them back in his pockets.

“Mulder, wait-“

“I’ll call a cab. You don’t need to drive me home this late.”

“Mulder.”

He sits on her rumpled bed with his back to her, pant leg rolled up, strapping on his weapon. They are the type of people who have guns on top of their dressers, in their underwear drawers, scars in unusual places, chips in necks, poisonous tattoos, missing ova, missing sisters.   

“We’ve got some expenses to sort out tomorrow,” he says, feeling under her bed for his other shoe. “And I can’t find some of the receipts. You’ve probably got them.”

“Mulder.”

“Did I tell you Skinner said the meal per diem is going up by ten bucks next month? We’ll still have to eat diner food, but maybe we’ll be able to afford the places with clean silverware.”

“So this is it then?” she asks, quietly. “Back to normal? Or whatever our version of normal is? Pretend like we didn’t just make love?” She flushes. It sounds strange to call it that, but after his admission, anything else sounds cheap.  And it was making love for her.

Mulder arises, tucks his shirt into his jeans and threads his belt. “I guess that depends on you. I can do business-as-usual or I can do…us,” he says evenly, meeting her eyes. “One I’ll do if I don’t have a choice, but I’m not losing you either way. I won’t do that.”

“Can we…slow down a little? Talk about this?” She takes a step toward him.

Eyes lingering on her, he nods. “We can talk all you want. I’ll still be in love with you, and you’ll still have to decide what you want. But yes, we can talk.” He looks at her, longingly. “And we can take this as slow as you want. If you mean…what happened tonight, I have no problem putting the brakes on. It’s worth the wait.”

“I liked tonight,” she admits without hesitation. “I liked it very much.”

“So did I.”

“I don’t know what I’m ready for,” she says, honestly, the edges of the room blurring. “But something.” She glides closer to him, extending both her hand and her trust. “I’m ready for something.”

Mulder’s eyes spark a smile, but the rest of his face remains cool. “Something is a place to start.”

“Will you come back to bed? Please?”

He hesitates as he appears to consider her request and a hundred other variables. Where they are, where they’ve been. The risks and benefits of loving her.

“I’d like you to stay,” she repeats.

“Okay. I can do that.”

She tucks herself into his embrace, her arms circling him. He cups both sides of her face and kisses her forehead. She thinks about the way he said “us,” and how it makes her feel.

The lights are dimmed and Scully loosens the sash on her robe. She climbs into bed and watches him undress again. 

Sliding to the middle of the bed, his toes go in search of hers.  Chilled from the kitchen floor tiles, she places the ball of her foot on his calf and he jumps. “You’re a human icicle,” he chides, pulling her more solidly on top of him.  

He transfers kinetic energy to her and she curls into him like a cat, sleepy and content.   

 When she opens her eyes again, there’s sunlight warming the corner of the mattress where her hand rests. She slips from the bed nude to twist the blinds closed and sees that he’s watching her, one elbow bent beneath his head.

“How long have you been watching me sleep?” she accuses with a frown, slipping back under the sheet.

“Not long.” He blinks from his pillow. Her pillow.

Scully wants him to stop staring at her. She went to bed last night without washing off her makeup or even brushing her teeth.

“This is the first time we’ve woken up in the same bed together,” he says with an impish smile.

“You don’t sleep in a bed.” Does he always start off this happy before 8 a.m. on a Saturday?

“I think I’m going to get a bed. Maybe today.”

“Where will you put it?”

“In the bedroom. That’s a silly question.”

She squints at him. “You have a bedroom, Mulder? Why aren’t you sleeping in it?”

He smiles. “There’s no bed.”

Of course. She’s going to need more sleep before they dissect this further.

“There’s other stuff in there,” he adds.

If his office is any indication, she can only imagine.

“Do you want to help me buy a bed, Scully?”   

“Why would I want to do that?” She tries not to smirk.

“I’ll buy you dinner afterward.”

Scully props onto her elbow and eyes his morning scruff, pretending to weigh the offer. “That sounds suspiciously like a date.”

“It could be loosely classified as a date,” he admits.

“It’s Saturday, Mulder. How do you know I don’t have plans?”

He has the decency to look worried for a second.

She smiles and rolls over, tucking her bottom into his groin. Which doesn’t seem to be quite as soft as the rest of him at the moment. Mulder inhales deeply and shifts a little, but maintains his composure.

“A bed-buying date, huh,” she murmurs, his warmth enhancing her drowsiness. “I think you lucked out and there happens to be a break in my social calendar tonight.”

He sneaks his head onto her pillow and his arm over her waist. “So that’s a yes?”

“That’s a yes. If you let me sleep another hour.”

“Okay.”

He nuzzles below her ear and his hand finds her breast.

She has to give him the look that indicates just how serious she is about sleep, even though he should know by now.

“Mulder…”

“Hmm?”

“It’s to your advantage to have me well-rested.”   

His hand halts, then finds a place to rest on her tummy. He plants a sweet kiss to her hair. “Shh Scully, go to sleep. You’re keeping me up.”

She smiles into her pillow and closes her eyes.

 

 

The End. Thanks for reading.