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梁山掌门


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推荐一些最近看的fanfic

Scully's Californication

By: Mulder's Woman 

Mulder and Scully travel to California. Scully has a hot encounter with a guy named Hank Moody, who helps her discover what she really wants. Technically a crossover story, but mostly its MSR. Drug and alcohol use. Wonderfully smutty.

Rated: Fiction M - English - Romance/Angst - D. Scully, F. Mulder - Words: 9,492 - Reviews: 10 - Favs: 16 - Follows: 1 - Published: Jun 24, 2011 - Status: Complete - id: 7111530

昨晚无意中看了这篇<The X Files> & <Californication>的crossover,很短,但是视觉很独特,基本就是M&S去调查Mia失踪,遇到了Hank,然后Hank约Scully晚上单独去探访他。。。描写很符合人物个性。细节非常重口味,虽然没写但是rating该是NC-17。如果你18岁以下能无障碍看懂,估计平时上网就什么都见识过了,我亦无谓多说。

由于正文无法复制,连接如下:

https://www.fanfiction.net/s/7111530/1/Scully-s-Californication


[ 此贴被梁山掌门在2014-01-16 05:27重新编辑 ]





[楼 主] | Posted: 2014-01-09 03:42 顶端
梁山掌门


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第2篇 - Worth Breaking

http://shippers.fredfarm.com/fanfic/stories4/worthbreaking.txt


TITLE: Worth Breaking
AUTHOR: Narida Law
E-MAIL ADDRESS: narida_law@hotmail.com
RATING: NC-17
CATEGORY: SRAH
SPOILERS: I'm not responsible for references made through
S6.
KEYWORDS: MSR
CONTENT STATEMENT: SMUT alert – if you're not into
gratuitous, graphic sex then this fic isn't for you. You
may OD on it. Any redeeming social value is purely
coincidental.
WEBSITE: http://www.angelfire.com/ms/naridalaw
DISTRIBUTION: Do not send to Gossamer; I'll send it myself.
Otherwise, okay for Spookys and anywhere else as long as
these headers remain intact. Telling me is sweet and would
be much appreciated, but not obligatory.
DISCLAIMER: Mulder and Scully belong to each other. I'm
just telling a story. And to steal my very favorite
disclaimer =ever=, generously shared by my wonderful friend
Trixie – I almost wish they =would= make a big deal about
fanfic...
FEEDBACK: If you have something to say, I would love to
hear from you.

SUMMARY: Mulder and Scully embark on a relationship neither
is able to handle, and the question of what is or isn't
worth breaking must be answered.

"...what is everywhere known as Grimm's Law - an
aggrandizement of rough rules to ideal completeness."
- Thomas Hardy, from "Jude the Obscure"

Acknowledgements will follow at the end of the story.

~~~~~~~~
Prologue
~~~~~~~~

She was awakened slightly by the dip in the bed, caused by
a large, warm, male body. The pitch-blackness of the room,
however, combined with her exhaustion and the certain
knowledge of whom the body belonged to, allowed her to
remain unconcerned.

After all, this was not a new or even unusual circumstance.
In fact, such occurrences had been happening for quite some
time now. He had probably been unable to sleep, or had
woken from a nightmare. Whatever the reason, he was always
able to find rest when he had a warm body by his side, and
it was no hardship to help him out.

He was her best friend.

She felt him press close, and her head naturally rolled
toward him. Burying her face in the crook of his neck, she
breathed in his warm masculine scent. He always smelled so
good.

She let out a small sigh, not having once opened her eyes.
As usual, he was naked from the waist up, wearing loose
pajama bottoms and nothing else.

His arm snaked around her, bringing her body still nearer
to his. She could barely breathe for the closeness, but to
this, too, she was accustomed. In a matter of moments, he
was claimed by sleep and his grip slackened.

She then pulled away, only as much as she needed to give
herself a little breathing room, but otherwise she was
content to let things stay as they were.

Moments later, she returned to her slumber.

~~~~~~~~
Chapter One
~~~~~~~~

Office of Dr. Audrey Lake
September 14
9:58 a.m.

The waiting room was too small. It felt cramped, which
didn't help to alleviate Scully's tension one iota. She'd
been here only once before, and she hadn't gotten used to
it yet. She didn't know if she ever would. But she needed
to be there.

She was going quietly mad.

She recalled the day she had meekly asked Karen Kosseff for
an outside recommendation of a colleague. She hadn't known
where else to turn, and picking a psychologist out of the
phone book wasn't a very attractive option. Going wrong
there would invalidate the whole purpose of seeing a
counselor in the first place.

Karen hadn't come right out and asked why, but the question
had been in her eyes. Scully had mumbled something about
it being a personal matter that she didn't feel comfortable
discussing with Bureau personnel. She had expected Karen
to try and convince her that she could communicate whatever
was bothering her and it would remain private and
confidential. But Karen had merely smiled kindly and
provided Scully with a name.

For whatever reason, Scully felt very uncomfortable with
the notion of discussing these particular problems with
Karen. Possibly because Karen was privy to certain
information, such as first hand knowledge of who Mulder
was. She needed to talk to a total stranger. One she
could open up to and not chance seeing in the FBI cafeteria
or walking the same corridors that she did everyday.

Dr. Lake was just what she needed. A nonjudgmental ear and
helpful comments interspersed here and there. Not too
many; mostly the psychologist just listened.

Voicing her troubles out loud to someone she didn't have to
face on a normal day-to-day basis helped her sort out her
thoughts.

She preferred to speak them out loud to =someone=, because
the last thing she needed was to start talking to herself.
Today she would start her real therapy. She had decided
this after the last session in which nothing of import had
really been revealed. Scully had felt a bit nervous and
shy to start in on her =real= problems right away, so she'd
mostly talked about her general family and professional
life, touching on various other light subjects here and
there.

However, there was no sense in spending the money to see a
psychologist if she wasn't going to open up and truly
embrace the purpose of these sessions.

Dr. Lake's receptionist showed her into the spacious office
where everyday people poured out their problems and
anxieties, maybe even letting a few dreams slip in now and
again; it felt a lot more airy and less confining than the
waiting room. Scully took a deep breath.

Once settled in the large comfy leather loveseat of her
choice, she began to relax. She liked the fact that Dr.
Lake was never in the office when she walked in. Scully
was allowed to get her bearings in her new surroundings
before having to face the other woman.

"Hello, Dana."

Scully started a bit at the voice; she had been lost in
thought. She moved to stand, but Dr. Lake held up a hand
and motioned for Scully to remain seated. "Hi...Dr. Lake,"
Scully responded. The designation was an after-thought;
too late she remembered that she had been asked to call
Audrey by her first name. Scully was too preoccupied with
what she was going to reveal today and how she would go
about doing it to remember such details.

"Audrey, please," the other woman corrected. She smiled,
her eyes crinkling at the corners. Her salt-and-pepper
hair was, as usual, immaculately groomed. Scully thought
absently that she hoped she would age as gracefully. "I
think we can dispense with the formalities, wouldn't you
agree?" She took a seat in the large chair opposite
Scully.

Scully relaxed even further at hearing the soothing voice,
slightly tinged with a British accent. She had already
come to associate the sound with the letting of her burdens
– though she had yet to get to the big stuff.

Her eyes strayed for the first time to Audrey Lake's
credentials. They spied a diploma of particular interest -
one she hadn't noticed before.

"You attended Oxford University?"

"Yes, I did my undergraduate work there," Audrey explained.

Scully could not take her gaze off the diploma. Before
Audrey could question her interest, she spoke. "Mulder is
an Oxford graduate." She looked down at her lap, fiddling
with an imaginary piece of lint on her black slacks.

"Is he, now?"

Scully continued to train her gaze downward.

"Is there something else you would like to tell me?"

Scully took a deep breath. This would start it. She would
spill her guts today. At least, some of them. "Yes."

She had spoken sparsely of Mulder, but enough that Audrey
knew generally who he was and the background of Scully's
professional relationship with him. But what concerned
Scully – what she wished to reveal today – had nothing to
do with their professional relationship.

"Take your time."

The understanding tone of Audrey's voice encouraged Scully
to say what she needed to say, if only she could find the
words. The right words to make it sound more...acceptable.
Less sordid.

"I'm having sex with him," she blurted. Oh God. That was
a little more blunt than she had planned, and judging by
the warmth in her cheeks, she was sure her face must be
flaming.

Audrey's facial expression did not alter. "I see."

Scully finally lifted her head to face Audrey. Her heart
was pounding like a hammer in her chest. Was it just her,
or did Audrey look extremely disapproving? But no – it
wasn't disapproval; it was more a piercing stare of
concentration.

"I...I..." Scully didn't know how to continue, and looked
away, unfortunately catching the Oxford diploma again.

"Is this a situation you wish to change?"

"No!" Her answer came a little too quickly, and she begged
herself to get a hold of her reactions. But it wasn't
completely truthful. And she would help no one – least of
all herself – by not being honest. "Not exactly," she
amended.

Audrey remained silent, but the expression on her face
caused Scully to hasten the explanation. "I enjoy – it.
But I'm afraid I've trespassed the boundaries that we
agreed to, which may compromise everything we are to each
other."

The other woman was apparently waiting for Scully to
continue. When she didn't, Audrey was forced to say, "I'm
afraid I don't quite understand."

Scully felt miserable. "I'm sorry. I don't mean to be
cryptic. I'm not sure if I understand anymore, either."

"How long has this sexual relationship existed?"

"About two months."

Audrey nodded. "Why don't you explain what you meant by
'trespassing boundaries.' Am I to understand that you and
Mr. Mulder formed some sort of...pact, before venturing
into this relationship?"

"Yes. We did. We set rules."

Scully didn't blame Audrey for looking a little perplexed.

"Our working relationship is...extremely important, to both
of us. We thought it best if certain limits were
established, so as not to endanger the health of our
partnership."

"What kind of limits are we speaking of?"

Scully hesitated. This was where it got tricky. She
wasn't sure an outsider would understand. It wasn't the
most orthodox of relationships.

But when her gaze met Audrey's, Scully pushed away the
heaviness in her own chest, knowing it was a risk she would
have to take...and that Audrey was there to help.

"Perhaps it would be best to start at the beginning," the
older woman suggested when Scully still did not speak.
"You and your partner had obviously harbored feelings for
one another before this began – "

"Oh, no!" Scully interrupted. Audrey had jumped to the
most obvious – and erroneous – conclusion, and Scully
couldn't blame her. "That's exactly the problem. There
are no feelings involved whatsoever," she said miserably.

Audrey looked skeptical. "None?"

"Well...not on his part," Scully whispered painfully. Here
it was, the confession that she had been holding inside for
such a long time. "But - on mine. And in that way, I've
broken our most important rule."

"So this was to be a purely physical relationship?"

"Yes." Scully bit her lip. "No strings attached. Two
adults relieving the tension of a highly stressful work
environment - an environment that also makes it extremely
difficult for either one of us to meet or sustain any
meaningful relationship with others." Scully did not
realize that she parroted her answer in monotone, as if she
had repeated it hundreds of times before.

"Well - that sounds reasonable on the surface. However,
put into practice, it becomes a highly volatile situation."

"I know."

"You are an intelligent, capable individual, Dana. What
did you hope to get out of such a relationship?"

"It wasn't supposed to be a real relationship at all!"
Scully revealed, somewhat agitated. "A – a relationship
requires feelings, commitment...work. What we have
requires none of that."

"Yet from what you have told me, there =are= feelings
involved. Yours."

Scully shuddered. "Yes. He doesn't know."

"And you aren't happy with the situation."

"I..." Scully hesitated. "I'm not happy with where I see
it going. The problem is, I don't have the right to feel
this way. I wasn't supposed to get emotionally...
attached."

Audrey appeared to consider for a moment. "What about the
rules you established? I take it they didn't work as
planned?"

There was no masking the derision in Scully's voice when
she answered. "Oh no – they've all been broken." She went
on quickly, "And before you say that I should tell him how
I feel, I should tell you that I can't. I won't. I could
never jeopardize our professional relationship for self-
indulgent emotions on my part."

"Dana, I wouldn't advise any action that makes you
uncomfortable. At least, not at the moment." Audrey
smiled, the corners of her eyes crinkling again, and Scully
told herself to relax. "May I ask you a question, Dana?"

Scully felt herself tense up again, but nodded, if somewhat
jerkily. She didn't know if she would be able to answer,
but she could hardly refuse to hear the question.

"Did you enter into this...situation, thinking that you and
your partner would succeed with it? Where did you see it
going? Be honest."

These were not unexpected questions, but Scully hesitated
nonetheless. "I have asked myself that a thousand times.
I honestly don't know. When I agreed to the terms we set,
I truly believed that we could pull it off. His emotion,
or lack thereof, would help me maintain my own emotional
distance. That's also what the rules were for, to help
keep personal and professional private." She paused,
gathering her thoughts. "But in hindsight, I think I knew
I was fooling myself. I =had= wanted to develop our
relationship further."

"But it hasn't happened."

"No." It was what they had before, with occasional – or
not so occasional – sex. The physical might have moved to
a different level but the emotional had not followed. She
couldn't move their relationship to the next level by
herself; he needed to want it, too. But he didn't.

Scully was mortified to find that her eyes were burning
behind her lids. I'm not going to cry, she told herself.
Taking a deep breath, she went on, "And now...and now I'm
afraid that I've ruined the most important relationship in
my life."

This was her true fear. The one that kept her awake
nights, that visited her in her nightmares and haunted her
during her waking hours. It was the black mark in her
life...the dark cloud on the horizon that threatened
showers of loneliness and pain.

"How did it begin?"

Audrey's voice was so kind, so ready to understand, that
Scully could not refuse to answer.

"I won't lie. There was always – something – between us.
I think it just broke during a particularly long and
frustrating case. We were overworked and tired. He was
stressed out."

~~~~~~~~
Chapter Two
~~~~~~~~

Dew Drop Inn, Room 7
July 11
3:05 p.m.

Scully took a relaxing breath and sank further into the
sudsy world she had made for herself. Rarely did the
places where she and Mulder stayed have such wonderful
tubs, but she always brought bubble bath just in case.
This time, she was able to put it to use.

She really didn't relish the idea of leaving the soothing
water, but it was rapidly cooling, and the pads of her
fingers and toes were starting to resemble little prunes.
So with a sigh of regret she pulled on the drain and
climbed out. Toweling herself off, she heard the
connecting door open.

"Mulder? That you?" she called. If it wasn't, she wasn't
in a pretty situation – her gun was in the bedroom.

"It's your secret lover, here to have his wicked way with
you," he answered, his voice muffled.

She snorted. That would be the day. She told herself that
the rush of arousal his words elicited was utterly
ridiculous and only went to prove how lacking her sex life
had been for the last – oh, seven years or so. The problem
was not lack of opportunity, exactly. It was lack of
opportunity with the one person she wanted to spice it up
with.

For all of his innuendoes and risqué humor, Mulder had
never seriously made a move on her. There had been that
one time, a kiss that almost happened, but that was more
than a year ago. He hadn't attempted anything resembling
lip-lock since, so she chalked it up to temporary insanity.
They had been going through a lot at the time.

She quickly slipped her clothes on – at the moment, her
glamorous attire consisted of sensible cotton underwear, a
ratty old t-shirt, and a pair of Mulder's boxers. She had
no idea how they had gotten into her possession, but they
were comfortable, and he hadn't seemed to miss them,
anyway.

Opening the bathroom door, she saw what was, apparently,
her partner stripping. He had pulled the curtains shut,
giving the room an artificial cover of darkness in the
bright afternoon.

"Mulder...what are you doing?"

"Taking my clothes off."

"Uh...why?"

"Because I'm tired and I want to get some sleep." His tone
was very matter-of-fact. He flipped over the bedcovers.

"It's three in the afternoon."

"With your powers of observation, Scully, it's amazing we
didn't have this case wrapped up sooner."

She pursed her lips. God, she hated the bastard when he
got sarcastic. "This is my room." She hated to state the
obvious, but with Mulder, sometimes there was no other
recourse. He seemed allergic to the sensible and obvious.

He was down to his t-shirt and boxers; the rest of his
clothes were strewn carelessly on the floor. His fingers
slid under his shirt and her eyes widened. Don't you dare
take that shirt off, Fox Mulder...

His subconscious apparently chose not to read her mind, and
he deftly jerked the shirt over his head, tossing it to the
floor to join the rest of his clothes. She wondered if her
gulp was audible. It sounded loud enough to her ears. He
had the most beautiful upper body, toned and smooth, with
just the right sprinkling of chest hair. She never saw him
tanning himself, but his skin always had a gorgeous,
healthy glow...

He cranked up the air conditioning, then flopped onto her
bed while she remained standing at the doorway to the
bathroom, gaping at him.

"Mulder." There was dire warning in her voice.

He yawned hugely, stretching his long arms over his head.
"You should probably get some sleep too, Scully. You look
beat."

Thanks. You really know how to stroke a girl's ego, she
thought acidly. "What's wrong with =your= bed?" she
complained, finally moving from her position to pick up his
clothes and fling them onto the nearest chair in
irritation.

His eyes were already half-closed. "It's in my room."

"And what's wrong with your room?" Scully was provoked
into asking, exasperation tingeing her voice. "You haven't
had a problem with it the last three days."

"You're...not in it," Mulder answered in a drowsy voice,
the words trailing off at the end. The statement was
capped by a slight snore.

She gaped at his prone figure in the bed. When he was able
to fall asleep, he could do it very quickly, Scully had
learned.

She sighed. A nap did sound rather nice. The bath had
relaxed her muscles, and her limbs suddenly felt heavy. It
would be good to rest a bit. They'd been working nonstop
since they arrived a couple of days ago. Also, baths had
always made her lethargic. Achieving such an effect was
why most people took baths in the first place.

She considered going into Mulder's room to sleep, but part
of her argued that he shouldn't be able to displace her
from her own damn bed. Besides, there were probably
sunflower seeds and shells all over the place. Ugh.

Without further contemplation, she crawled into bed beside
her sleeping partner, pulling the covers over them both.
There was no sense in wasting perfectly good body heat.
Even if it was July.

In any case, no matter how much she groused about it, the
truth was they were used to sleeping in the same bed
together. It was just something they had come to do from
time to time, like buying each other meals or saying "it's
me" as an introduction on the phone. Just a side effect of
their partnership.

Scully lay on her side, facing away from Mulder, their
bodies not touching in any way. She closed her eyes and
took a deep breath. Ah, this really was nice. Mulder had
the right idea. Her last thought before she drifted off to
sleep was to wonder what would happen if anyone ever caught
them indulging themselves like this. Not that anything
untoward =ever= happened. Wait, was that disappointment
she was feeling...?

~~~~~~~~

Dew Drop Inn, Room 7
July 11
4:13 p.m.

When she woke, Scully found that she had rolled over and
was now facing Mulder. Somehow he had hauled her close,
making it possible for his erection to press insistently
into her stomach, which was not a new sensation by any
means. They had, after all, slept together in the same bed
on many occasions. But the feel of his hardness, the
irrefutable evidence of his masculinity, always made her
want what she could not have, and that invariably put her
in a bad mood.

He had an arm wrapped tightly around her waist, keeping her
firmly where he wanted her. His other hand was cupping one
of her breasts. Also, nothing new. That sometimes
happened.

What woke her was no doubt a new sensation, one she had not
previously experienced...Mulder's tongue halfway down her
throat. Now that was definitely new. Her eyes popped
open.

"Mmphf," she said. She tried to glare at him, but since
his eyes were still closed, it didn't quite have the effect
she was going for. It was also probably not as resolute as
she wanted, but the feeling of his warm lips on hers, their
wet tongues sliding hotly together, made her want to close
her eyes again.

She allowed herself to enjoy it a few moments more, but
when he began to play with her breast more determinedly,
pinching her nipple, she knew she had to stop him now or
she wouldn't at all.

She wasn't sure about Mulder's state of consciousness,
whether he was still sleeping or what, but he was about to
be awakened. She abruptly pulled her mouth from his,
intending for her entire body to pull away as well, but she
had underestimated the strength of his hold on her.

Still, her mouth was free, and she gasped for air. She
used her hands to push against his chest – his naked chest.
Uh oh, that probably wasn't a very good idea. Now her
hands burned to run over the expanse of skin so delectably
within reach.

"Mulder!" They shouldn't be doing this. There was a
reason. A very sensible reason, she was sure.

"Scully, whad you do that for?" he mumbled.

"Let go of me."

"Don't wanna." His lips found hers again, nibbling this
time, sliding his tongue between her lips and running it
over her clenched teeth. "Feels so good."

Well, she wasn't going to argue with that. But it was
still wrong. And if she could only get her wits about her,
she'd tell him why.

"What's wrong with you?" she finally cried, not knowing how
else to get through to him.

His eyes opened at last, and she was mesmerized by the
intent they held. "I'm doing something right for a
change," he answered. "I'm tired, I'm stressed out, and
all I want to do right now is kiss you. Because that makes
me feel good. And I think it makes you feel good too." He
smiled and lowered his voice seductively. "So let's not
play these stupid games anymore, Scully."

She didn't understand what he was talking about - what had
made him suddenly decide this? – and that made her
frustrated, which in turn made her a little pissy. "I
haven't been playing any games, Mulder. You're the one
playing games here."

He looked affronted. "I'm not playing games. I'm being
honest. I'm tired of pretending that you don't turn me on,
Scully. You do. Every little thing you do makes me hard.
Did you know that? You've turned me into a permanent hard-
on."

Her mouth opened in astonishment, but no words came out.
She shook her head. His words sparked a rush of arousal,
and she frantically willed it away.

"I know you find me attractive," he whispered. "I've seen
you checking me out when you think I'm not looking. And
all your temperature checks – those are only excuses to
touch me."

She was mortified. Learning she was so transparent caused
two spots of humiliation to flare in her cheeks. She
wanted to hotly deny what he was saying, but his next words
made her momentary fit of pride fly right out of her head.

"I think we should fuck."

"What?" Was that her voice that sounded so squeaky? How
could she be so turned on and want to slug him at the same
time?

"It'd be the perfect solution, Scully."

"To what?" She'd missed something, here.

"Half the time I can't concentrate on our cases because I'm
too aware of you." He took a ragged breath. "Everything
you do, every move you make. You don't realize it, Scully,
but I notice everything about you...the way your ass moves
under your skirt when you walk, those tight shirts you
wear... your beautiful breasts looking like they're gonna
spill right out..."

There really was a rather insane looking light in his eyes.
She had never been more turned on in her life.

"And I'll bet that works both ways," he continued. "Tell
me the truth, Scully. Don't I distract you sometimes?"

Her first impulse was to nod enthusiastically, but she
resolutely kept her head still. If she told him yes, he
would no doubt take it as encouragement. She was finding
it difficult enough to keep from eagerly going along with
his crazy suggestion without the added burden of having to
deal with an =encouraged= Mulder.

How best to proceed? After a few moments of frantic
thinking there was really only one thing she could do – she
wasn't about to lie bald-faced to him about something so
inconsequential as finding him attractive. So what if she
did? She found plenty of other men attractive. None came
immediately to mind, that was all.

Did he distract her at times? Yes, he did. Much to her
consternation, she lusted after him constantly. She just
didn't know it was public knowledge.

"Sometimes," she acknowledged reluctantly. Half a truth
was better than none, right?

"You see? Our relieving this tension would be for the good
of our work. We'd 'solve the mystery' – the unknown would
be made known. The attraction of the unexplored would no
longer be there..."

She was somewhat insulted by his assumption that once he
had experienced sex with her, the main attraction – that of
the unknown – would be gone. But she had to focus here.
The idea of the two of them, having sex - she suppressed
another shiver of longing - as some sort of preemptive
strike against loss of concentration at work, was
absolutely ludicrous.

"The fact that I find you reasonably attractive as a person
of the male gender does =not= mean that we should have
sexual relations," she informed him frostily.

He looked amused, damn him. "It does if it =distracts=
you, which is what I asked, and you answered in the
affirmative."

She opened her mouth to refute his claim, but then realized
there was nothing of substance to refute. "I hate to crush
that enormous ego of yours, Mulder, but you don't distract
me =that= much," she responded haughtily. Oh, if only that
were true.

He was apparently not swayed by her assertion. "What if I
find =you= that distracting?"

Her heart jumped to her throat. "Well...I guess you'll
just have to stop it," she said lamely.

"I've got a better idea. Since I'm attracted to you and
you're attracted to me, I say we do something about it
right now."

"Okay, let's," she said sweetly. "We'll start by
forgetting this conversation ever happened." Forget that
her heart was pounding madly in her chest.

"Hear me out, Scully," he begged, nearly bouncing on the
bed. The mattress shook with his enthusiasm.

She sighed; all of his crazy theories started out with that
plea. His exuberance was almost contagious. Almost.

"We're letting our attraction to one another distract us
from our work, Scully, whether you admit it or not. Now, I
don't know about you, but I don't think that's a good thing
at all." He sounded disapproving.

"I don't think it's a good thing," she said immediately.

He nodded. "Physical attraction isn't something you can
just will away. Are we at least agreed on that?"

If it was, she wouldn't be attracted to him. God, his
nearness was making her feel a little dizzy. "Yes, that's
true."

He looked relieved, then smiled. "Once we've gotten this
out of our system, we'll be able to concentrate better on
our cases. Not that we're doing too shabby a job, but we
can always do better. Wouldn't you agree?"

Had Mulder's voice always been this hypnotic? Laced with
the remnants of sleep and combined with a little lust and
need, it seemed more seductive than it had ever been. She
stared into his eyes; they entranced her.

"We could always up our solve rate," she agreed, not
looking away from his eyes. She was unable to see the
satisfaction that bloomed over his face as all her
concentration was focused on one part and not the whole
picture; all she saw was the crinkling at the corners of
his eyes.

"Right. I'm glad you're being so reasonable about all
this, Scully." He appeared to be very proud of her.

"I'm a reasonable person, Mulder," she said automatically.

"I know you are," he soothed. He continued, "And sex is a
great way to relieve tension...not just the sexual kind,
but all kinds. This is a highly stressful job, Scully."

She nodded. They had both chosen very stressful
occupations. She panicked when she realized that he could
interpret her nod to mean acquiescence to his suggestion
that they engage in sexual activity. She had to control
those involuntary head movements.

"It'd never work, Mulder." How could it? The very idea
was ludicrous. Tempting, but insane. Much like Mulder
himself.

"Why not?"

"You know why not," she said in frustration. Wasn't it
=obvious=? She struggled to voice her precise objections,
but they seemed all jumbled in her mind. He ought to know
them, anyway.

"I don't know," he stated. "You agreed that physical
attraction can't be simply willed away. The only way I see
it dissolving is if we give in to it. Otherwise, we'll
always see each other as the person we can never have –
making us even more attractive to one another."

She chewed on her lip. "Yes, but..." Oh =why= weren't the
arguments coming?

He continued as if she hadn't spoken. "We know each other.
And we trust each other. We'd never have to worry about
disease or...or..." She knew what he meant. Pregnancy.
"No strings attached, Scully. No messy emotions to get in
the way. We love each other, the way two best friends love
each other, and that bond is stronger than any connection
to another human being I've ever had in my life. Our
friendship is the most important thing in the world to me."

She latched onto his admission. "Sex would ruin that."

"No, no," he hastened to assert. "Our friendship would
have nothing to do with it, don't you see? Just a man and
a woman, relieving stress and tension together." When had
his hand started that soft stroking gesture against her
spine? She shivered.

"Sex is an animal instinct, like eating or sleeping. Its
deprivation naturally causes the deprived – you and me – to
supplement it in =some= way." His voice was a seductive
whisper. "This need becomes a priority, like any other
animal need, and that would be when our work could be
disrupted. I think we both agree that that would be a bad
thing." His hold on her tightened once more.

She had to admit that this argument held some merit.
Mulder had never sounded so reasonable.

"Of course, this need could be fulfilled by other people,
too," he conceded somewhat grudgingly, "but since we're
attracted to each other and trust each other with the
important stuff, why let that go to waste? Besides, what
we do isn't exactly conducive to meeting people." Who
weren't circus freaks or flukemen or shapeshifters, he
meant.

He appealed to her with earnest eyes to see the rationality
of his idea. "I would =never= do anything that would
jeopardize our friendship. You believe that, don't you,
Scully?" The tremor in his voice combined with its tone of
utter sincerity made it very easy for her to believe him.
There was no reason why he should lie about such a thing.

"So you want us to...have sex? This once?" Even saying
the words made her feel slightly light-headed.

"Whenever we feel like it," he breathed. "Maybe after this
once, we won't want to again. Maybe it'll be enough. But
we won't limit ourselves. What do you say?"

Was this how he picked up women in bars? If he turned the
full blast of those puppy dog eyes on some unsuspecting
female, he could no doubt get anything he wanted. Hell, it
was working on her and she was hardly 'unsuspecting.' What
swayed her, however, were his arguments. He seemed to have
given it a great deal of thought. That in itself was a
pretty heady notion.

"We are both mature, responsible adults, Scully," he said,
when she hadn't said anything. "More than capable of
separating sex and friendship, don't you think?"

Her mind chose that moment to recall a movie. "It didn't
work for Harry and Sally," she said.

Amazingly, he picked up on her wavelength, as out of the
blue as the allusion appeared to be. "First of all, those
were fictional characters," he chided. "Second, once she
slept with Harry, Sally didn't =want= to separate the two.
We don't know if they both had tried it that it wouldn't
have worked."

Well, the 'When Harry Met Sally' argument was all she had
left, and he had effectively and convincingly disputed it,
so it seemed to her that it was time to give in.

NO! What was she thinking? She had to use the strength of
her mind to overcome the weakness of her flesh.
Unfortunately, that's where he had attacked – her mind –
and the second an argument popped into her head, she heard
him voicing his contentions again, convincing her even
before the argument fully formed.

She considered herself to be a mature, responsible adult.
When he put it that way, saying no would be to say that she
couldn't handle a "mature" relationship. He clearly
thought he was more than capable of handling it. And if he
could do it, then of course, so could she.

The concerns nagging in the back of her mind seemed to
quiet with this reasoning. In any case, it appeared Mulder
was armed with an arsenal of excuses and seemed fully
prepared to shoot down any possible resistance without
breaking a sweat.

"I suppose that's right," she said grudgingly.

"So what's stopping us?" Mulder traced a finger down her
cheek. His touch immediately caused her nipples to harden.

Scully pondered his query. None of this sounded remotely
right, of course, but he had been very persuasive and she
was tired of arguing.

His hand dropped from her face to the aroused peak of one
breast. She vaguely realized that this was his first
blatantly sexual overture aside from their earlier kiss,
and that she ought to be more outraged by the liberties he
was taking. But his fingers began playing delicately with
her nipple, distracting her.

It wasn't as if she could truthfully say she didn't want to
have sex with him. She'd wanted him for a long time – so
long she couldn't even recall when the wanting began. It
was just a fact of life she had learned to live with.
However, it did seem rather ludicrous, now that he had
pointed it out, that all this time, they'd been right under
each other's noses, yet had never taken advantage of their
mutual attraction.

"You feel so good," he whispered, eyes glazing over with a
kind of primal need. He rolled her onto her back while she
was still contemplating. He lifted her shirt up over her
breasts so that they were bared to his view. He licked his
lips. "Can I taste you?"

She could feel his hot breath on her newly-exposed skin.
This felt so incredibly right – and yet, so very wrong.
She knew she ought to stop him, but hadn't they already
crossed some invisible line? And if they were going to
cross the line, mightn't they just go all the way? No use
breaking only half the rules, right? Once you'd broken
one, you were already a criminal.

She stared once more into his beautiful hazel eyes, wide
with hope and lust, and knew they mirrored her own. Her
doubts had been effectively muted. The only thought in her
head was how much wanted him. She hesitated a moment, then
nodded, sealing her fate.

His relief was almost palpable. He lowered his head, his
tongue snaking out to run a damp circle around one nipple,
already puckered into a hard little nub from his earlier
touch. Now, his ministrations caused her breasts to
further ache with want, and she groaned.

"You have the most luscious breasts, Scully," he breathed
reverently, kissing the nipple he had just laved. "I've
noticed those shirts and sweaters you've taken to wearing.
My imagination works overtime with you, Scully. Do you
know how many times I've dreamed of taking a whole one of
these into my mouth?"

She moaned, wishing he would stop talking about it and do
it already. Now that she had agreed to this, she was
determined to enjoy every minute. After all, it was
possible they would decide afterwards against doing this
again.

"You like that idea, huh?" She didn't know whether he was
referring to the idea of the act or the idea that he
dreamed about it. She found both possibilities equally
arousing. "Well, I do it a lot, Scully," he shared, his
voice rasping like sandpaper. "You wouldn't believe how
much."

I'll believe anything if you'll just fulfill both of our
fantasies, right now, she thought a little desperately.
Would it be really rude of her to just pull his head down
and thrust her breast into his mouth?

Finally, seeming to sense her desperation, he sucked a
nipple into his mouth, then took as much of her breast into
his mouth as he could. She gasped; she had never felt
anything quite as incredible as the sensation of Mulder
suckling her. This was already better than most of her
past experiences with sex. If he did just this all day,
she would be pretty content.

She found the little noises he made while performing this
act almost as exciting as the act itself. She felt like
the most desirable woman in the world; he couldn't seem to
get enough of her.

With his mouth still sucking strongly at her, his hands
reached up to pull her shirt completely off. It fell,
forgotten, to the floor. Her hands had somehow made their
way into his hair and were clenching tightly.

He released her breast with a slight suctioning sound and
worked the other into his mouth. Electricity shot through
her veins, pooling into liquid form at her center. With
his teeth he nipped lightly at her nipple, and the
sensation felt so startlingly good that she yelped and
arched off the bed.

She saw, even with his mouth full of breast, the grin that
split his face at her reaction. In another situation, she
might have wanted to wipe that smug look away, but at the
moment, she couldn't care less. As good as he was making
her feel, he had a right to be smug.

When he apparently decided it was time to move on, he
deliberately rubbed up against her, making his way
leisurely back up her body, skin to skin, letting her feel
the friction of his chest hair against her nipples. The
feeling was indescribably erotic. Her fingers felt
boneless, falling from his head to his shoulders, reveling
in the feel of his taut, smooth skin over the hard muscle
beneath.

He then lowered his head and kissed her again, rubbing his
tongue possessively against hers, devouring her. Her hands
traveled up and down the length of his arms, absently
marveling at how different he felt from herself. He was so
hard and smooth everywhere, and she was eager to feel if
that applied to all of his appendages.

And he was so smart. They had been idiots to deny
themselves for so long.

That said, she was tired of being the submissive one.
Hooking one arm around his neck, she used her weight and
the element of surprise to topple him onto his back. She
fell not so gently onto him, but the grunt he let out
wasn't one of pain.

She straddled him fully, her knees on either side of his
ribcage, and bent to spear him with a fierce look. He
looked a little anxious for a moment, his macho facade
slipping a bit, but he regained his equilibrium and smiled
lazily. "Be gentle," he pleaded in mock seriousness.

She smiled back, somewhat ferally, and he again looked a
little worried. Oh, he was all hers now, all Mulder under
her, and she was going to enjoy herself. She trailed one
finger down his cheek, exactly as he had done to her
earlier, her nail digging into skin near the corner of his
mouth. Immediately she reached down to soothe the hurt
with her lips.

"You know you don't really want me to be gentle," she
husked into his ear. He shivered, then yelped when she
reached behind her to feel the strength of his resolve.

"Very impressive, Agent Mulder...I can't wait to get that
in me." He groaned at her words. "But first I think I
want you to have a little taste test." She was somewhat
surprised by the words that fell so easily from her tongue.
This was their first time together, and she ought to show
some modicum of reserve, but – this was Mulder. She was
used to demanding what she wanted, even if she didn't
always get her way.

He groaned, clutching her thighs tightly. He looked at her
with feverish eyes. "You read my mind, Scully," he rasped.
"I can't think of anything I want to do more. You have no
idea how much I – "

"Shut up, Mulder," she ordered, exasperated. He talked way
too much. She was going to put that delicious mouth to
much better use. She hopped off the bed for a moment to
dispose of her boxers - well, Mulder's really - and panties
already soaked with her desire.

He clamped his mouth shut, immediately doing as he was
told, and she could barely stifle a smirk. In this
situation, he was a typical male – so easily controlled by
sex. A side bonus to agreeing with his plan. If she had
known he would become so docile, she'd have agreed much
faster. Grinning, she clambered back on him, treating him
rather like a gymnastic apparatus. Her smile widened at
the thought.

"You can't possibly be as thrilled as me," he claimed
huskily, taking in her beaming face.

She leaned down and kissed him, hard. "You ready?" she
whispered.

This time it was his turn to grin. "Been ready for the
last few years or so..." At her raised eyebrow he raised
both of his. "I've even been building strength. Why do
you think I eat so many sunflower seeds...?"

She couldn't help it; she burst out laughing. He took the
opportunity to lift her up a little so that he could slide
himself down, until she was poised directly above his face
and her laughter had turned to breathless pants of
anticipation.

The first touch of his tongue sent a bolt of electricity
from her clitoris to the rest of her nerve endings. He
worked her slowly at first, running delicately through her
folds, laving gently. However, it soon became not enough,
and he met her increasing need with stronger strokes of his
tongue. At a critical point he sucked her clit into his
mouth and she jerked on him, crying out, practically
rubbing herself in his face.

"You taste incredible, Scully," Mulder shared in a voice so
contorted with lust that it was barely recognizable as his.
"I could do this all day."

I could let you, she thought hazily, not able to muster
enough concentration on the act of speaking to actually
lend voice to the words.

She cried out when he worked his tongue into her; it was
one of the most erotic sensations she had ever felt. The
knowledge that it was =Mulder's= tongue doing these things
to her made it even more exciting. Damn, he really did
have a talented mouth. He wasn't kidding. All those hours
of shelling sunflower seeds had certainly not gone to
waste...

Soon his tongue was replaced by several fingers, rubbing
and stroking her expertly, occasionally sliding into her
tight wet heat. She found herself moving up and down on
his hand. It felt so good she couldn't begin to imagine
what it would feel like once she had his dick – so much
bigger than a couple of fingers – inside her. She couldn't
wait to find out.

Spots of white were beginning to dance in front of her
eyes, and she knew it wasn't going to be very long before
she...oops, there she went, leaping, flying over the edge
as her entire world first went completely white and then
dark. She heard someone screaming, and from the slight
pain in her vocal chords, realized it was her.

So much for not being submissive. She found herself
promptly tossed onto her back, her legs spread wide apart
as Mulder asserted himself there, his cock immediately
finding her entrance, pushing unrelentingly, inexorably
into her.

The stretching sensation was almost unbearable as she tried
to relax her muscles to accommodate him more easily. It
had been such a long time since she had had to accept a man
inside her body that it was not without a little
discomfort. For the first few moments the pain almost
overwhelmed the pleasure.

"Jesus, Scully," he gasped. "Why is this hurting you?" He
sounded genuinely alarmed.

"I haven't done this in a l-long t-time," she answered,
concentrating on her breathing.

Her admission seemed to make him grow even a little big
bigger, and they both groaned, for different reasons.

God, it felt like he was splitting her in two. She tried
to keep the whimpering to a minimum, though she was certain
tissue that wasn't meant to be torn was being torn anyway
as she breathed in short, shallow pants beneath him. Never
once, though, did she move to stop it. She knew if she
were to show any indication of real resistance, he would
roll off of her immediately, and she didn't want that. She
wanted this, needed it as much as her next breath. Just
underneath the pain was the wonderful, incomparable
sensation of being completed.

When he was finally all the way in, when he was buried so
deep inside her that she could feel his balls resting
lightly against the curve of her ass, she let out a deep
sigh of contentment. Now there was truly no going back.

She had never felt so filled. The pressure she had felt
during his invasion had been well worth this delicious
feeling of fullness.

"You feel fucking amazing," he groaned, shifting his hips a
little. She winced, but was pleased nonetheless.

She thanked God he had prepared her so well – she suspected
it would have been a lot more difficult to accept him into
her if he hadn't.

"You do, too," she answered truthfully. Yes, 'fucking
amazing' just about covered it.

She sucked in a breath when he slid nearly all the way out,
then back in. No wait, she had spoken too soon. =That=
felt fucking amazing. He did it again, and again, each
stroke more pleasurable than the last.

She could tell that he wanted to be gentle; he was holding
himself back. But each thrust shred a little more of his
control, until every stroke of his shaft was hard, fast,
unchecked. She liked seeing him totally out of control
like this, as he rode her hard and caused her to jerk
against him like a marionette. She liked knowing she was
the one to make him so wild with lust and need. She
especially enjoyed feeling him fuck her like a madman, as
if she was the woman he wanted most in the world and this
was his one and only chance with her.

Unbelievably, she could feel the pleasure build again until
she was once more in danger of toppling into the abyss of
climax. This had =never= happened to her. She had
accepted long ago that she was not a multi-orgasmic woman.
This had never particularly bothered her. She counted
herself lucky; some women found it impossible to climax at
all, while others didn't have partners who could get the
job done and had to go it solo.

Now she had Mulder to thank for showing her the wonderful
world of multiple orgasms.

He jerked against her, ramming one last time into her, so
hard that for a moment the pleasure and pain blurred. She
felt him expand, growing impossibly bigger and harder.
Then he was gushing into her, the hot seed of his life
rushing forward to fill her in all the places his cock
hadn't reached.

It was more than she could take, and her back arched,
lifting her hips up high as her second orgasm hit. It
wasn't quite as strong as the first, but in many ways it
was even better, first and foremost being that this time,
she had the feel of gripping Mulder's hot engorged cock
inside her as it happened.

They both passed out for a few moments.

When next she opened her eyes, it was to find that Mulder
had straightened the covers a bit and adjusted her limp
body in a way that she lay plastered against him.

Looking up at him, she saw that he looked positively smug.
Smug and sated. When he saw that she was looking at him,
his expression immediately turned hopeful. He gave a
tentative smile.

She supposed this was the point where he expected her to go
into histrionics, wailing about what they had done and what
they were going to do about the future and so forth. If
she had not had that second orgasm perhaps this would have
been the case. Currently, however, she felt much too happy
and content to go through any of =that=.

Deciding to go the mature, calm route, she returned his
smile, then stated, "I suppose we should draw up some rules
about this." It was probably a safe assumption that they
would want to do this again. She knew she did.

"Rules?" He sounded dismayed.

"Yes. Other than keeping this to ourselves, which I think
is a big given?" She felt rather than saw him nod. She
continued, "As a preventative measure. Establishing rules
would help keep us from getting too carried away."

"But Scuh-lee," he whined. "We're grown ups. I don't
think we need rules to keep everything separate."

"We're entering into a very dangerous situation here,
Mulder. Emotions are very volatile. Lines should be
drawn, at least in the beginning, and we have to make sure
that they don't get blurred." She was making too much
sense, even for herself. God, she really knew how to suck
the fun out of a situation, didn't she?

"At the beginning?" he hung on to her one concession with
hope in his voice.

"Well...yes. If we continue to do this, I'm sure that
after awhile some of the rules will eventually become
unnecessary."

"I see." He was quiet as he mulled. "I agree; this makes
perfect sense," he announced. "You're right, Scully."

She was a little suspicious by the vehemence of his
complacency, but she muttered, "Of course I am. =You're=
being surprisingly reasonable all of a sudden."

"Surprisingly?" he exclaimed, sounding insulted. "I can be
just as reasonable as you."

She decided not to share her doubt about that one.

"And to prove it, I'll even come up with the first rule,"
he offered.

Gee, take your time thinking about this, she thought
sarcastically, then frowned. What was the matter with her?
She ought to be thrilled that Mulder was embracing her
suggestion about drawing lines. Or maybe this was just an
opening to yet another wisecrack.

"Okay...what is it?" she asked warily.

"We shouldn't say each other's names during the deed. Like
the way you screamed my name just now? Not allowed."

Was he kidding? She twisted her head to look up at him,
but he seemed perfectly serious.

"It makes sense, Scully," he continued. "If we're to
separate the sexual act from =us=, from our friendship,
then it makes sense to distance who we are from it,
entirely."

She furrowed her brow. He sounded so cold, so impersonal.
But that was the point, wasn't it? He'd made it clear from
the beginning he didn't =want= to get emotionally involved.

Well, neither did she, she told herself stubbornly. She
had to get her feelings for Mulder under control. Like he
said, it was just the unresolved attraction between them
that was making her feel these strange love feelings for
him. Now, that would stop. She ignored the pang of loss
she felt in the pit of her stomach.

"Okay..." she agreed slowly. "And we should never do this
during an ongoing case. It should be like it was this
time, after things have been wrapped up. The point is to
keep from getting distracted from our work, not aid the
distraction."

"Agreed," he injected smoothly. "In that case, to keep up
the impersonal nature of our bargain – we're just using
each other for sex, after all – I say that our apartments
are off limits, too."

Did she detect a note of asperity in his voice? She looked
at him suspiciously, but his face was the epitome of
blandness. "All right, that makes sense." Damn, she'd
never fulfill that fantasy of making love to him on his
couch.

"No funky business at the office, either," she added.

"Are you kidding?" He sounded appalled. "If you even
=consider= compromising my virtue at FBI Headquarters I'll
finish this like that." He snapped his fingers for
emphasis while she hid a smile. "Anything else?"

All right, there was definitely a note of sarcasm there,
but she chose to ignore it. She thought some more, but
there didn't seem to be...oh. There was something else.
Discussing it would feel just about as lovely as a root
canal, but it had to be said.

"We can see other people." Her voice was deceptively calm.
In reality, she thought she was going to show Mulder the
contents of her stomach. This was =not= the conversation
she wanted to have at the moment. This was not the
conversation she wanted to have, =ever=.

Before, they had had a kind of unspoken agreement - while
they were of course free to have romantic relationships
with other people, they had nevertheless remained
"faithful" to one another, despite not being involved in a
romantic relationship with each other. Changing this fact
changed that previous dynamic. Before, "fidelity" had been
individual choice. Now, it could be misconstrued as
obligation.

It was ridiculous to couch it in terms of fidelity, anyway,
but she couldn't think of what exactly to call it. She
just knew that she didn't want Mulder to feel that he
needed to abstain from going out with other people out of
some misplaced sense of duty to their new physical
relationship.

What they had embarked upon still couldn't be considered a
romantic relationship. If they went strictly by the rules,
they weren't having any kind of relationship at all. They
were the same as they had always been. Their bodies were
going to help them relieve stress and tension from time to
time, but nothing significant was to change.

She didn't know if it was really possible to separate
existences and realities, but they were going to try. And
one of the first steps was to acknowledge that they were
nothing but temporary sexual diversions for one another – a
circumstance that could change at any given moment.

For instance, if Mulder found someone he wanted to spend
the rest of his life with. Stop it, stupid heart! she
thought in annoyance, when a sudden pain shot through the
organ in question.

"Mulder?" she prompted gently when he still hadn't said
anything.

His agitation was clear from his reply. "For crying out
loud, Scully, this thing's barely started and you're
already talking about seeing other people?" He was pissed.

"I just think we should be prepared for any eventuality,"
she soothed hesitantly. He could have no idea how hard
this was for her. But, she refused to allow herself to
harbor any false hopes. If they didn't get this straight
right from the beginning, she would be so easily lulled
into a false sense of security, before having her heart
shred to pieces when the inevitable finally happened. When
it came time to let him go, the last thing she wanted was
to make him feel obligated to her, or for her to make a
huge tearful scene begging him to stay with her. She
cringed at the thought.

"All right, fine," he snapped. "You can fuck whoever you
want to fuck, and I'll look the other way."

For a moment she was inert with confusion. Her, why was he
talking about her? This was for =him=. She would never
want anyone else. She supposed it was only natural – at
the moment there wasn't another woman in his life and he
had naturally taken her statement to mean that she wanted
to be able to see other men.

"Mulder," she began cautiously. "As friends and two people
who care about each other, we have to plan for such a
situation." She sighed when he continued to sulk in
silence. "When – if," she amended for his benefit, "one of
us becomes emotionally or physically involved with another
person, we should let each other know immediately." Even
the thought of Mulder coming forth with such news was
enough to cause bile rise in her throat. Yet, this
discussion was necessary, even if he couldn't yet see the
sense in it, so she pressed bravely onward. "For health
reasons if nothing else."

"Should we each take a blood test every time we hit the
sack, too?" Even his scowl was attractive, she noted
distractedly.

"No..." She knew he was lashing out from his perceived
hurt, and wanted to ease his tension as much as she could.
"I trust you. And I think you trust me, too. That's why
we're doing this, right?" She took a deep breath. Maybe
he had changed his mind. Maybe he hadn't bargained for all
these restrictions when he had made the rash suggestion
that they sleep together. Maybe she should just keep her
mouth shut and go along with whatever he was capable of
giving.

But this was for their own good. She didn't want to lose
the comraderie they shared; she doubted that he did,
either. If they stopped now, that could still be salvaged.
It'd take some time, but it could be done. If they went on
like this, however, separating their personal relationship
from their professional relationship would only get more
difficult as time passed. This was precisely why they
needed to set these ground rules, to make sure that didn't
happen. The rules would help them maintain focus of who
they were. Who they =really= were.

She suddenly felt very frightened. What were they really
doing? Wasn't it completely insane to risk what they had
for a few sexual encounters? She sighed in resignation.
Perhaps not, but now that she had made love with Mulder,
she could never voluntarily go back to not being able to
make love with him. He would have to be the one to express
that desire.

"Yes," he answered finally. "I trust you." He sighed.
"Okay, so we're gonna tell each other anytime we each
score. Anything else?"

"Well, along those same lines..." God, she hated herself
sometimes. She really did. He had gone silent again. "I
know this should be obvious, but...=this=," she gestured to
the tousled bed and their state of nudity, "shouldn't be a
factor when making a decision about whether or not to enter
a relationship with someone else." Shut up, woman, shut
up!

She was desperate to make it clear to him that she did not
want to hold him back, that he was free to pursue his own
interests and happiness without feeling responsible for
her. "In other words, I don't want you to feel some
misplaced sense of loyalty to me, or this. If you find
someone, Mulder, I'll be thrilled for you, as your friend
and your partner." She floundered at his black look. "We
don't owe each other any emotional...obligation," she
finished, for lack of a better way to say it.

"Has anyone ever told you that you're really romantic?" he
asked darkly.

"There's no romance in this. None," she stated fervently.
It was fine and dandy for Mulder to be so condescending
about all this, but he didn't have the same level of
emotion invested. This was clearly evidenced by his
initial proposition and his subsequent lack of argument
over the rule-making, despite his blustering. He poked fun
at =her=, but she didn't see him really disagreeing with
any of it. Inside, he was probably relieved that she was
being so "mature."

"Okay fine – we're fuck buddies," he snarled. "Agreed."

"You sound upset." She toyed with the sheet covering his
stomach.

"I'm =not=...hell yes, I'm upset!"

"I didn't mean to upset you," she said, running her hand
soothingly over his chest. "But it's over now. We can
move on."

He brooded sullenly as she waited for him to get over his
pique. She knew he wasn't really mad at her; this just
probably wasn't the way he had pictured things would
happen. That was her Mulder, always jumping in head first
without fully considering all the repercussions. Of
course, she grinned to herself, she wouldn't have him any
other way.

"Okay," he sighed finally, in acceptance. A pause, then,
"What are we going to have for dinner?"

Oh, now =that's= romantic, she retorted silently. But she
smiled, burying her face in his chest so that he couldn't
see. "Whatever you want," she purred, laughter in her
voice. It wasn't like they had many choices; the local
diner or delivery pizza were the safest bets.

Then she shivered as he slid a little ways down to nibble
behind her ear. He growled into her ear, "Then I'll have
to ask that you stay right there."

~~~~~~~~
Chapter Three
~~~~~~~~

Mulder's Apartment
September 17
8:58 p.m.

Mulder flopped ungracefully down onto his couch and stared
up at the ceiling. He was wide awake.

His fingers itched to pick up the phone, but he was
resisting the urge to call Scully.

It had been nearly a week – well, okay, three days - since
they had last made love, and he was feeling a little antsy.
Not to mention really, really horny.

He wanted to call Scully; there was no real reason =not= to
call Scully, except that he was a big coward. In fact, the
next stage of this affliction was to sprout wings and start
clucking.

The problem was that he didn't want to push her too far,
too fast. It had taken him five years to make a =real=
move for precisely that reason, and even that had been
thwarted in the end. It had taken him another year to make
a second move – a really blatant one at that, since Scully
wasn't the greatest at noting subtlety.

Hell, he'd come right out and told her he loved her, though
her naturally cautious nature wouldn't let her believe him,
loaded to the gills as he had been with drugs. He'd even
contrived a baseball game that was really nothing but a
poor smokescreen to allow him to touch her and hold her
that close.

He'd wanted to rip Padgett's heart out himself after
reading the things that freak had written about Scully. It
had infuriated him that another man had dared to fantasize
about her, even though part of him, of course, couldn't
blame Padgett. His partner was, after all, incredibly hot.
Still, she had scared him shitless for a moment when she
didn't agree right away that the naked pretzel scene
Padgett had written about was 'a priori,' too. She was a
cruel woman.

In any case, he was closer now than he had ever been to
getting Scully right where he wanted her. It would be a
crime to frighten her off now with needy, overeager calls.
She had hated those even when they =hadn't= been sleeping
together.

Sighing, he turned his head, his gaze falling upon the
black leather-bound book resting on the coffee table. He'd
purchased it during lunch, escaping from the office and the
vision of Scully in a slit skirt. After their one and only
transgression in the office, which really hadn't been their
brightest move, he hadn't wanted to risk a repeat. Fleeing
the office had been the only recourse.

He wasn't sure if the book had been an impulse buy or not.
He'd needed some sort of mental release for weeks. He
still wasn't sure if the idea of writing in a journal had
been building for all that time, or if it had come to him
when he'd been standing in the bookstore, catching sight of
it on his way to the porn mags. They had now become
deterrents for his lust; after being with Scully, the
glossy images of fake-breasted, shaved, big-haired women
just didn't do it for him anymore.

It didn't really matter, he supposed, =why= he'd purchased
the journal – the fact was, it was here and he had no one
else to talk to.

Sitting up, he reached over and switched on the lamp. He
picked up the journal, and for a moment just held the
weight of it in his hand. He felt kind of idiotic,
actually. He'd never written in a journal in his life, and
the concept seemed kind of – well, girly.

He had never felt much compulsion to put his thoughts on
paper, and wasn't sure why he felt drawn to it now. Of
course, he had never been in a situation quite like this
one before.

He flipped the journal open to the first neatly lined blank
page. It occurred to him that he was supposed to mar it
with ink, fill it up with the things in his head. It
seemed like a waste. The book was probably better off with
its nice new blank pages, without the crap in his head
messing it all up. And his writing was really messy. And
ink inevitably smeared when he wrote anything.

But those things didn't really account for his hesitation.
That stemmed from another source - he didn't know what he
was going to write, which was more than a little
frightening. What was going on in his head was confusing
and, at times, threatened to make him say or do things he
knew he shouldn't. But he had never faced what those
things were. This journal might make him face them.

And he just wasn't sure he wanted to know.

*You don't even want to know what's going on inside your
own head, Mulder? Imagine how the rest of us feel.*
Scully's voice popped up in his mind out of nowhere to
taunt him.

Grabbing a pen that lay with the rest of the clutter on the
coffee table, he began to write.

**I am sleeping with Scully. No, wait – Scully and I are
sleeping together. I am sleeping with a woman and she
happens to be Scully. We are relieving tension together.
Yeah, that's it – relieving tension.

It was my idea. Hell, of course it was.

It all started about two months ago. Two months yesterday,
in fact. Not that I'm counting. You could say that Scully
and I have been seeing each other for two months, if this
was a normal kind of relationship.

But, of course, "normal" wants nothing to do with me. And
if I'm honest, I'll admit that Scully wants what "normal"
wants. At least, romantically.

Damn it. This is not how things were supposed to be. I
was supposed to be the one with all the control. I knew it
wasn't going to be easy to sway Scully to my thinking, but
now that I've had her, I'm more impatient than ever to have
it all.

Which most likely means I'm going to fuck things up.

All right, lack of control was kind of what brought this
all about, I'll admit. I couldn't control myself around
Scully. Well, I could, but it was getting harder and
harder. Yep, you could take that both ways and they'd both
be accurate - the situation was difficult, and I was always
sporting wood around her, too.

More and more I started to think that if I could have her,
just once, it would make all these pesky feelings of lust
for my partner go away. It was getting really distracting
– each case became more of a reason to be around her than
to actually bring any truth to light.

Okay, I don't think I really believed that "just once" crap
for a second. But it was really convenient to think so at
the time. The Time Before. As in, before I actually had a
naked Scully in my arms and was making love with her.

It seemed like a perfectly reasonable theory. Scully is,
after all, a very intelligent, beautiful, wonderful, sexy,
compassionate...

Scully is an attractive woman. And while I may be
oblivious to a lot of things, but Scully's attractiveness
is not one of them. I also have the same natural impulses
as the next guy.

And my natural impulse around Scully was – is - to toss her
onto the nearest bed – or floor, if no furniture's
available – and show her why it's a dangerous idea to wear
her tight little shirts around me. Or any clothes at all,
for that matter, since she looks incredible in anything. I
suppose the alternative then would be for her to walk
around naked, and that wouldn't help the situation. Though
I can't say I wouldn't be the happiest guy on the planet –
provided, of course, that only I would be privy to
the...okay, damn, this was =not= supposed to degenerate
into another Scully fantasy.

Anyway, I dreamed of "just once" constantly. Just once, I
told myself, that's all I would need. Scully was utterly
desirable - but most likely it was because I felt like I
couldn't have her. Nothing will tempt a man more than what
he thinks he can't have. I convinced myself it was because
she felt so off limits to me that I wanted her so damn
much.

And once I had her, well, that would be that.

Okay, I suffer from denial. A lot of it. I won't attempt
to defend myself except to say that at the time =it=
happened, I still believed the lies I was telling myself.
Sort of.

I still don't know where I got the balls to do it. I had
insinuated myself into her bed for months by then –
sleeping, and copping a feel here and there, which she
surprisingly didn't seem to mind.

Of course, she might not have noticed, but I highly doubt
that. I imagine it's hard to miss a man's hand clamped
around your breast. You may ask why I'm into this kind of
masochism, being so near her and yet never really being
able to go the last inch. What you have to understand
about Scully is that one inch with her is like ten miles.
You gotta train for that sort of thing.

I already wanted her so badly my teeth hurt just to be
around her...and I start sleeping in the same bed with her,
touching her in all her lovely feminine places? Well...not
=all=. But it was the sweetest torture imaginable, and I
was addicted to it. Some people are addicted to drugs,
others to alcohol, others to chocolate – there are a lot of
things, I suppose, that a person could get hooked on.
Well, sign me up for the meetings. Hello, my name is
Mulder and I'm addicted to Dana Scully.

Most mornings after we'd slept in the same bed I was out
like a shot and into the shower where I could jerk off in
relative peace.

But I wouldn't trade a single one of those Scully-scented
nights for all the gold in Fort Knox.

Don't imagine that I let up on the sexual innuendo I so
delight in. It's already been established that I am a
masochist, after all. I even tried pathetically to let her
know in little ways how I felt about her, not really
consciously accepting that that was what I was doing.

Unfortunately, she's used to me and never takes anything I
say seriously. I don't really blame her – I wouldn't take
me seriously, either. But I can't help feeling that if
she'd only use some of those smarts and figured out that I
was in love with her, she could have set me straight right
then and there and we wouldn't be where we are today.

I like to think that I would have taken the rejection like
a man. There would have been some awkward weeks, yes, but
we would have risen above it and moved on. We'd still be
partners, friends.

But now I've been given a taste of heaven, and if I had to
give it up, I think I'd run off in search of the next ghost
ship and make sure to actually drown this time. Without
Scully to wake up to, Scully to say "I love you" to, God,
what kind of life would that be?

I haven't lost her yet, though. I just wrote "yet,"
implying that it's going to happen eventually. I guess I'm
still living in denial though part of me knows better. For
now, for today, I still have Scully in my life.

Ever since we started fucking like bunnies, I started to
plan how I could get her to fall in love with me. I know
she enjoys the sex. I was pretty pleased when we managed
to break all those damn rules within the first six weeks.
I thought things were finally falling into place for me; in
another six weeks we'd have moved in together.

I'm still working on it, but it doesn't look good. After
all the rules were broken, we've just been fucking whenever
and wherever we want. She doesn't want anything more than
that, though, and that's what I've got to make happen. I
need her to want more. I'm more than ready to give it to
her.

Now I'm trying not to call her because I don't want her to
get annoyed with me. In a way, it's good – deprive her a
little and she might come to realize how much she needs it.
Unfortunately, that means I get deprived as well, and I
already know I need her, which makes it ten times worse.

I'm here in my place and across town she's in hers, doing
her Scully thing. All so mysterious yet desirable. I want
her to do her Scully thing in my apartment. I'd like to
experience that for the rest of my life, I think. Maybe
that's not long enough.

I like to imagine Scully in her apartment – I like being
there. I feel so surrounded by Scully, always, when I'm
there. I think that goes back to the time when she first
let me sleep in her bed. My father had just been killed.
In the midst of that horror, I had Scully to go to. I was
drunk as a skunk and probably reeked, but she put me in her
sweet-smelling bed and let me sleep there. I think I must
have fallen in love with her then. It surely accounts for
why I always feel so safe when I'm surrounded by her scent.

I remember the first time we made love in her bed. It was
doubly thrilling because it was the first rule we broke and
she was the one who initiated it. It's still my favorite
place to make love. I thought at the time that my head was
going to explode from too much happiness.**

~~~~~~~~
Chapter Four
~~~~~~~~

Mulder's Apartment
July 23
6:34 p.m.

Every time he caught himself whistling, he'd stop. A few
moments later, he'd catch himself doing it again. He
usually whistled when he was nervous or happy. In this
case, it was a little of both.

He didn't know why he was so anxious about going to
Scully's for dinner. It was standard, routine. Once a
week, when they weren't on a case, they would take turns,
once a week, to prepare dinner for each other at their
respective apartments.

It was Scully's turn. Such was the case half the time, but
he had never felt this particular combination of light-
headedness and terror before.

It wasn't that bad, actually.

He couldn't have been more thrilled with the way things
were working out. He and Scully hadn't lost their easy
companionship, despite their new carnal knowledge of each
other. Things at the office had been surprisingly
comfortable. He'd expected a little awkwardness, maybe,
and perhaps a little embarrassment. He'd prepared himself
for stilted conversations before things truly settled.

He wanted to take it one step further, but he was patient.
He could wait. There would be plenty of time to convince
her those damn rules weren't necessary.

As it turned out, he'd been overly cautious. They had
jumped back into their working relationship with total
ease. He behaved as he always did – light flirting, subtle
innuendo, and the occasional invasion of personal space.
For the most part, she responded in her usual manner –
barely concealed exasperation, deadpan deflections, and the
occasional arched eyebrow.

More than that, things seemed =better= than before. Scully
seemed a lot less tense and certainly he felt a new
lightheartedness. He would often look up from his desk,
catch Scully's glance, and return her smile. Afterward he
would realize that she had been responding to =his= smile,
which seemed permanently plastered to his face. In fact,
at times he would wonder why the muscles in his cheeks
ached, and then realize he was grinning – and had probably
been doing so for some time.

He wasn't aware of their sexual tension in the same way.
It was less urgent, less on the surface. He was better
able to concentrate on his work, and, it appeared, so was
she. They had really done themselves a good turn.

He'd really convinced her that he wanted to get rid of his
attraction for her. It was rather disturbing that she had
been so eager to get rid of hers for him. There was no way
in hell he was going to let =that= happen.

In the meantime, he'd play along and pretend his attraction
for her was dissipating. He'd get to work on "defeating"
it – hopefully, a lot. He knew he was grinning
idiotically, and didn't care.

However, thinking about it made him excited, so he tried
not to, especially around Scully. He had to take things
slow – she was likely a bit skittish at this early stage,
and he didn't want to frighten her off.

It was difficult to keep his lust at bay, yes, but not
impossible. Often, the best trick would be to simply train
his gaze on Scully, who was even more ethereally beautiful
lately. He enjoyed simply looking at her, marveling at her
petite and perfect figure, the way her eyelashes framed her
expressive eyes so perfectly, the way she would tuck a
strand of her soft, thick hair behind her ear when she was
studying a document.

His libido would rise again when she got up from behind her
desk and he caught a glimpse of her gorgeous legs, but he
would simply squelch his desire. Accomplishing that was a
lot less painful than it had been before. Before, his need
had almost been overpowering. Now, he felt content to
wait. Because Scully was worth waiting for.

Almost immediately after their first time together, he had
realized that "just once" wasn't going to be enough.

As a result, he'd been a little disturbed by the rules she
had insisted on imposing upon their fledgling relationship.
He had gone along, albeit a bit reluctantly.

He was proud of himself for not letting his emotions get
the better of him by making unreasonable demands of her.
She would have shown him the door immediately. Thank God
it turned out he was a mature, responsible adult, after
all.

Using the same tactic, he would control himself at this
dinner. It would be like always, two colleagues, two
friends, having a weekly dinner together. He didn't want o
push his luck, revealing to her that he wasn't capable of
handling the relationship as it now stood. First, he
needed to convince her - subtly of course - that what they
now had was fantastic, but more would be even better.

Mulder pulled on his leather jacket, still whistling.
Making sure he had his keys in his pocket, he exited the
apartment.

Dinner. Friends. Natural. Casual.

~~~~~~~~

Scully's Apartment
July 23
7:17 p.m.

"Oh...ohhhh...oh God!"

Mulder clutched at the material of Scully's sofa as he
watched her head bob up and down on his lap. The tender
ministrations of her mouth – her lips and tongue on his
cock - was quickly driving him over the edge.

This was Scully. This was really Scully giving him head in
her living room. The very thought nearly signaled the end.
If he was kind, maybe he ought to come now. After all, her
work would then be over. But he was also a selfish bastard
and the sensations felt entirely too good for him to stop
her just yet.

So he held on, and she kept sucking.

Mulder wondered hazily how they had gotten to this point so
quickly. He was still wearing his jacket, for Pete's sake.

He dimly remembered knocking on Scully's door, fully aware
that he was wearing a goofy and slightly nervous smile.

Her first words were, "Mulder, you look a little tense,"
spoken in a tone that had immediately caused his dick to
stand at attention.

She had then led him over to the sofa without saying
another word and proceeded to coax him into unbuttoning his
pants. Not much coaxing had really been needed, but his
nerveless fingers had made themselves so useless that it
looked like he was resisting rather than assisting.

It had all seemed rather surreal. He kept waiting for her
to burst into a peal of laughter, or else slap him – hard.

This is a test, he told himself. She wants to see if
you'll stick to the rules. Technically, it was even his
rule, though it had been sarcastically meant. If she
wanted to break his rule, that was fine by him.

This was, of course, against regulations. No sexual
activity was to be performed while in each other's homes.
It made impersonal sex rather difficult, when one was
surrounded by the other's personal effects.

He was a slut – no resistance came from him whatsoever. He
was physically incapable of resisting. She could put a
stop to it at any time, however. And right up until her
lips closed over him, he'd thought she was going to do
exactly that.

She hadn't hesitated once. She'd grabbed hold of him as
soon as his erection had cleared his pants and instantly
brought her mouth to him.

That was a few minutes ago. Or maybe it was eons.
Presently, she was sliding him in and out of her hot mouth
continually, stroking him with her tongue. After paying
especial attention to the head of his cock, which she
kissed and licked and squeezed between her lips, she took
the length of him in again.

He couldn't take his eyes away from her. The sight of her
engulfing his dick with her mouth was unbelievably
exciting, yes. What was most intoxicating was the
knowledge that it was Scully doing this to him. For him.
God, she was so beautiful.

She kept going, farther than she had before, until he could
feel himself prodding the back of her throat. And still
she kept taking him in, until she had every last inch down
her throat, and her nose was touching the skin right below
his stomach.

"Omghh," he groaned, giving a little involuntary thrust.
Damn. He hadn't meant to do that. How was she not
choking? How was she not gagging on him? No matter how
much he wanted to touch her, he kept his hands to himself.
The last thing he wanted was for Scully to think he was
going to hold her head down.

It was the least he could do to show his gratefulness.
Boy, was he grateful. She was a goddess.

When she began to slide him in and out of her throat, all
the little whimpers he had been making turned into full-
blown groans. God, she was incredible. This was...it was
the most...God, she was incredible.

He nearly lost it all when he saw her close her eyes,
taking him in as though she was sucking on her favorite
lollipop. It struck him how much she was enjoying this.
He'd had blow jobs before, but no one had ever seemed to
delight in it as much as she seemed to be doing now. Maybe
it was because Scully simply enjoyed the act? Or maybe it
was because it was he that she derived joy from it? God,
he hoped that was it.

Just when he thought he couldn't feel better than he was
feeling at that moment, one of her hands reached between
his legs and cupped his balls through his boxers. He saw
stars – he really did, and he thought he might have started
drooling when she began to massage him lightly. It was
just the right amount of friction to add to the pleasure he
was already feeling, and he distractedly told himself that
he better remember every second, because his life would
never get better than this.

She started making humming noises in the back of her
throat, and he could feel the vibrations running in little
waves of pleasure all over him. He'd praise her for her
impressive repertoire, only he honestly believed that she
didn't have one. The humming seemed to stem from her own
pleasure. At least, if the constant "mmmm" sounds were
anything to go by.

He felt a familiar tightening at the base of his cock
signaling his impending orgasm. He opened and closed his
mouth several times to try and warn her, but no sounds
issued forth. He had to warn her, didn't he? Fellatio
etiquette escaped him at the moment. This was his first
blow job ever by Scully, and already it had surpassed any
and all of his previous experiences. It would be
presumptuous to assume that she'd want to swallow, too.

Finally he was able to get out, "Scuh – " but she was too
fixated on her task to appreciate his effort; she didn't
even pause. "Gonna...gonna come, Scuh...Scuh..."

She ignored him. Okay, that had to be deliberate. He had
strung five words together in an audible voice and she was
still just sucking the life out of him. Which
meant...which meant she wanted him to come. In her mouth.

"JESUS!" The thought of Scully =wanting= to swallow his
ejaculation was what finally did it. He jerked into her
mouth, spasming as he emptied himself down her throat. Her
hands were on his thighs, holding his lower body down as
much as she could, all the while continuing to suckle him,
milking him dry.

Well, one rule was definitely blown – so to speak. Oral
sex was sex. And they were in Scully's apartment. But had
he broken another rule, the other ridiculous one he had
manufactured, about not saying each other's names? She
definitely had not said anything – that much was for
certain. What about him, had he said her name? Almost, he
realized. But not exactly. So technically, that rule was
intact. Just barely. He found himself almost
disappointed. Well, he shouldn't be too greedy. One was a
start.

His brow furrowed as it occurred to him to wonder why she
had done this in the first place. Setting up those damn
rules had been her idea. He wouldn't allow himself to hope
that she had reached the same conclusions as he – he highly
doubted that she had come to realize she wanted to spend
the rest of her life with him in the time between their
first sexual experience and his arrival at her door
tonight.

Scully braced herself against his legs and lifted herself
up from where she had been kneeling between his knees.

"So are you hungry, Mulder?" She brushed some lint from
her jeans.

He could only stare at her and nodded mutely. She stepped
around his left leg and made her way over to the kitchen.
The sex was over, so it was safe to say each other's names
again. Right. And they were going to have dinner. Like
normal, friendly...oh who the hell was he kidding.

The sound of running water told him she was washing her
hands.

"Good, because I made your favorite," she called, and he
could hear the smirk in her voice. It was an old joke
between them – he ate anything, so everything she cooked
was his favorite.

How could she =joke= at a time like this? When he still
sat stupefied on her couch, his dick still hanging limply
out of his pants? Wasn't she at all affected by what had
just occurred?

She'd broken one of the rules! Why had she done that? Not
that he was complaining, but he wanted to know what it
meant.

Or perhaps it wasn't so significant for her. Maybe he was
making a big deal out of something that wasn't a big deal.
She =had= said that times would come when one or all of the
rules would no longer be necessary. He had simply assumed
that there'd be some sort of discussion about it, first,
and he certainly hadn't expected a rule to be broken this
soon.

Maybe subconsciously Scully really wanted the same thing he
wanted. The thought made him very happy. But no – that
was too easy. He would just have to wait for her to
enlighten him.

Silently he righted his underwear and buttoned his jeans,
his hands shaking slightly. Aftereffect of orgasm.

"Do you need an engraved invitation?" Uh oh. Slightly
pissed tone of voice; he'd better go sit down at the table.
Scully didn't like it when her sauces burned.

He got up a little shakily and took off his jacket, which
he draped over the couch. He then made his way to the
kitchen and sat down at his normal place.

She had made chicken Alfredo...delicious. Scully's
culinary skills didn't extend very far, but her chicken
Alfredo was out of this world. She placed a heaping plate
of pasta in front of him, not even half that amount for
herself. He busied himself by opening the wine bottle.
This was routine. What they did every time they had dinner
at her place. He always opened the wine.

A sudden thought flashed through his mind that he always
wanted to be the one opening the wine bottle at Scully's
table. A wave of longing swept through him so fiercely
that he actually felt his eyes burn.

Scully had already dug into her pasta, paying him no mind.
He filled her glass first, then his own. She took a big
gulp of wine.

How could she eat so heartily after...after?

She took a crusty bread roll and dipped it into the creamy
sauce. The salad was ignored. Mulder knew from experience
she always ate that last. She had read somewhere that this
was the healthier way to eat. He didn't see what
difference it made since it was all mixed together once it
went in, but Scully was surprisingly stubborn about things
like that. Just like the yogurt and bee pollen – he had
told her a million times that she was a scientist and it
was ridiculous she bought into such crap, but typically,
she never listened to him.

"What's the matter? Why aren't you eating?"

Under her scrutiny he obediently dug his fork into the
pasta. Steam rose from the noodles and sauce, and despite
his inner turmoil his basic biological need for food took
over.

He had had one basic biological need satisfied this evening
by Scully; this was merely the second.

All right, he had to stop dwelling on that, so he
concentrated on his food. He glanced up once to ask her
why she had jumped his bones the minute he'd shown up at
her door, but was distracted by the sight of Scully chewing
her pasta. A little cream sauce had situated itself right
above her upper lip, and her tongue darted out to clean it
off. He swallowed and forgot what he was going to say.

After that he looked up only to fill their wine glasses.

Finally, over bowls of vanilla ice cream, Mulder felt ready
to confront her. He cleared his throat, then opened his
mouth to speak.

"You liked it, didn't you, Mulder?"

"W-what?" Was she talking about the pasta or the fellatio?

The corners of her mouth twitched. Her head tipped to the
side, indicating the living room. "What happened on the
couch."

Was she kidding? He was so thrown he could only stare at
her. She licked ice cream off her spoon; he couldn't seem
to tear his gaze from her lips.

"You could say that, yeah," he answered raggedly. Now he
was at a loss as to how to ask her to explain her actions.
What was he supposed to say? Thanks for an incredible
experience but don't let me catch you doing it again? It
was fanfuckingtastic Scully but have you lost your mind?
What about your rules?

The evening in review: he arrived at Scully's apartment –
the home of the woman he cared most about on the planet –
she gave him a blow job, and then served him dinner...and
he was going to ask her to explain herself?

It was official – he was an idiot.

But it was bothering him. There was something not quite
right about the whole scenario.

"Why?" he asked finally, foregoing anything more
articulate.

She gave him a sheepish grin. "I don't know – I felt like
it. It's been almost two weeks since..." She flushed a
little.

He raised an eyebrow. So this was what Scully with an
active sexual life was like. In any other circumstance he
might have given her a hard time, but there was no way in
hell he was going to do that now.

"And," she continued a bit breathlessly, "I wanted to see
what you would taste like. I've been wondering about it
all week."

He absently noted that the ice cream was melting – a
natural process, to be sure, but he couldn't help but think
that the heat of their current conversation was assisting
in the liquefaction.

"O–Oh?" Though he had so recently been sated, he felt
himself begin to harden at her words. It was her tone of
voice; it was because Scully was the one saying them. "And
– what did I taste like?"

She cocked her head to the side, as if thinking for a
moment. She pushed her bowl away. "Better than ice
cream."

"Really? Just this ice cream, or ice cream in general?"

Her eyes held laughter before she rolled them at him. "It
was one of the lesser rules, anyway."

"There are lesser rules? There's a rule hierarchy?"

"Of course," she answered primly. "You're the one who made
it up," she reminded. "You were being sarcastic, but at
the time it actually kind of made sense. However, the
point of this exercise, I thought, was for us to be able to
ease a little stress."

He nodded enthusiastically. "That's true."

"We experience stress even when we're not on a case.
Right? So it seems kind of arbitrary to say we can't
relieve some of it at this location or that. Except at the
office, of course. For me, just getting up in the morning
knowing I have to work with you is stressful, Mulder." She
grinned.

"Ha ha." She had always been the more the levelheaded of
the two of them. She could tell herself whatever she
wanted about keeping things separate. Meanwhile, he would
do his damnedest to make her forget about the rules
entirely. And if he did it stealthily, she wouldn't even
notice until she was head over heels for him and wouldn't
give a damn.

Still, some part of him was determined to make her suffer
for imposing the rules in the first place. "Won't this
blur the line between, you know, the people we really are
and..."

Her eyebrows raised. "The other people we are?"

"Yes."

"They're just places, Mulder." She shrugged. "Locale.
We'll just have to trust one another to keep things
separate. It would be ridiculous of us to waste money on a
motel whenever we felt like..." She looked down, flushing
again. It was really cute, the way she did that.
"Copulating" was the word that sprang to his mind, but he
didn't share. "It'll be harder, but I think we can
manage," she finished.

His mind flashed back to another time he had been in her
apartment, drunk, having just held his father's dead body
in his arms. Scully had helped him into her bed, and even
then, in his exhaustion, he'd realized that it was
precisely because it was =Scully's= bed that it brought any
comfort. Now, he kept his mouth shut, even knowing that
for him, locale was very significant.

Her trying to think otherwise was something he could use to
his advantage. He'd agree with whatever excuse she wanted
to give, and then somehow he would take this intimacy and
make Scully fully aware of how intimate it really was.
Then she would see that they were both fully capable of
being in an intimate relationship, that in fact, they had
been engaging in one for quite some time without realizing
it.

He nodded and smiled. "You're absolutely right, of course,
Scully."

She looked at him suspiciously. He doubted he had ever
said those particular words to her all in one sentence
before.

"All right, then." She had apparently decided to ignore
the momentary aberration.

Decision made, they carried their plates and silverware to
the sink. They washed and dried together amiably, as they
had dozens of times before.

He wiped his hands on his jeans. He wasn't sure if their
conversation meant he could stay tonight if he wanted, or
whether it was just for future reference, or...

His thoughts halted when Scully slid her arms around his
waist and looked up to meet his gaze with lust-filled eyes.
The blood in his head began to rush in a southerly
direction.

"So," she began huskily, "what would you like for
breakfast?"

He didn't need any more invitation. He bent his head to
capture her lips with his. "What I'm about to have for
dessert."

Kissing, they fumbled their way to her bedroom. Just the
sight of that bed made him unbearably excited.

She broke her mouth from his. "This is the only rule we'll
toss," she said firmly.

He shook his head. "Whatever you say, Scully."

"I love how sex makes you so docile, Mulder," she said,
pulling her shirt over her head and flinging it aside.

As they fell on the bed, Mulder had a brief flash of what
Scully's reaction would be if she really knew what was
going on in his head. But then her hot little mouth closed
over his nipple, and he forgot everything but the woman in
his arms.

~~~~~~~~
Chapter Five
~~~~~~~~

Office of Dr. Audrey Lake
September 21
10:01 a.m.

Scully had arrived early for her appointment this morning
and was ushered in immediately. Audrey seemed eager to get
started.

The psychologist took a sip of water. "Now, last week you
were telling me about the new direction your relationship
with your partner had taken. Our time was unfortunately
cut short – did you want to continue with that?"

"Yes, I do," Scully answered decisively. "To be honest,
it's the reason why I decided to seek...outside help."

Audrey smiled kindly. "I thought so. Please continue.
Talk about whatever you like, whatever's on your mind."

"Last time I told you we tried to distance ourselves from
what was happening in a deliberate way. Establishing rules
and such. We – I - thought this would make distance
=possible=."

Dr. Lake nodded. "You didn't find this to be the case?"

"We tried to make it impersonal. But no, I didn't find
this to be the case at all," Scully shared miserably.

"Impersonal sex? That's what you were aiming for?"

"Yes...no. I don't know. I agreed because it was what
Mulder wanted and I thought I could go along with it. I
think I was hoping that in the process of pretense, I could
learn to want what Mulder wanted." She took a deep breath.
"Or, I hoped circumstances would eventually change on their
own, making it so that I wouldn't need to learn it."

"Change how?"

Scully was silent, contemplating her next words. "That we
would...that Mulder would...that Mulder and I – I don't
know."

"Of course you do." The other woman's voice was kind but
firm.

Scully swallowed. She felt rather like the times she'd
been caught by her mother lying, and she did now what she
did whenever that happened: she spilled her guts. "I
suppose I hoped that our physical intimacy would carry over
to our pre-existing relationship. That we would combine
the two."

Audrey nodded. "That's only natural. You care about him
outside the realm of your sexual relationship. What is he
to you, Dana?"

Scully's response was automatic. "A colleague...a
friend...a partner." Audrey waited. "A very prominent
figure in my life," she finished in a low voice.

"I'm told by several sources that partners in law
enforcement are often closer than a husband and wife. Do
you believe this to be true?"

Scully sucked in a breath, looking down. "I wouldn't know.
I've never been married."

"That's a very pragmatic answer, Agent Scully." The
unusualness of Audrey using such a formal title when she
normally called her "Dana" caused Scully's head to swivel
up to look at the other woman. Audrey met her gaze
unwaveringly.

Scully flushed and looked away again. Usually during a
session she trained her gaze down, or to a point on the
wall behind the psychologist. She found it difficult to
look directly at another person while she was baring her
feelings; she supposed it was a natural protective
instinct.

"There's a 'but,' isn't there?" Scully asked wryly.

"But," Dr. Lake smiled, "you understand the basic
institution of marriage and generally what a marriage
requires. You've been exposed to marriages and probably
have heard many secondhand stories about it. I think you
can give a better answer than that."

"Yes," Scully answered finally, "I do believe that in
=some= cases partners in law enforcement are closer than a
husband and wife in =some= marriages. But that would
depend on the marriage."

"True," Audrey conceded. "But that would have to be some
bond. Most people spend their days working and spend only
nights and weekends with their spouses. Now, in some
occupations – such as law enforcement – even that is iffy.
Rarely would a situation occur where one or the other has
to make any decisions about his or her spouse's continuing
existence on the planet.

"Partners, however, depend on the other in life or death
situations, and spend most of their waking hours with each
other. Time spent together, combined with that kind of
dependence and trust, would make almost any other
relationship pale in comparison. At least," the older
woman took a sip of water, "that's my personal view."

Scully's mouth had dropped open during the spiel. She'd
never heard Audrey speak so at length. It was probably a
bit unorthodox, but Scully found it refreshing. It made
her feel as though she was only engaging in conversation
with another person, instead of being stared at and
dissected like a bug under a microscope.

"I'm sure you're right," Scully conceded huskily. "I think
that in most instances, exceptionally sound marriages
apart, partners have a special connection, one that is as
strong if not stronger than most marriages."

Audrey nodded. "Dana, I don't believe you explicitly
stated one way or another the last time we met, but you and
Mulder are still involved in this no-strings-attached
physical relationship, am I correct? At least, on the
surface?"

Scully nodded her confirmation.

Audrey seemed to hesitate a bit before posing her next
question. "Dana, do you believe that you and Mulder have
one of those partnerships?"

Scully was somewhat taken aback by the question, although
it shouldn't have been unexpected. That's where all this
was leading, of course – back to her and Mulder. Well, did
they? She trusted him with her life and she knew the
opposite to be true, but did that really mean anything?
They were both officers of the law and honorable
individuals; they had sworn to protect and uphold the law,
and knew that at any given moment they might be called upon
to give up their own lives for somebody else.

So was their relationship merely the co-worker equivalent
of what their jobs entailed anyway, or was it something
more intimate?

"I would like to think that we do," she answered. Whether
they did or not was another question.

"You realize by saying this you are implying that you do
not expect a future relationship to surpass what you have
with Agent Mulder."

Scully bit her lip. That =was= what she was saying, wasn't
it? It seemed so perfectly innocent when approached from
one side – do you trust your partner? Do you have an
intense understanding of one another? Do you have a unique
connection to one another? To all the questions the answer
was yes.

But when approached from another angle, the questions were
altered yet inherently the same – and much more dangerous.
Do you trust anybody else the way you trust your partner?
Will anybody ever be able to understand you the way your
partner does? If your connection is unique, doesn't that
mean that there is and can be no other like it?

"Yes, I realize this," Scully said. "Nobody else could
ever mean what Mulder means to me," she finally whispered.

There was a moment of silence as Audrey considered Scully's
answer.

Scully tried not to watch the clock; she knew it was rude,
but she was supposed to meet Mulder after her session
today. Normally it was fine if she ran late, but she
didn't want him questioning her tardiness this time. If he
knew that she'd been seeing Audrey, it would bring up too
many questions, with answers he didn't want. It would also
force a confrontation she wasn't ready for.

However, chances were great that he wouldn't even notice.
He always seemed to be in a different world when playing
basketball with his friends.

"These...parameters the two of you set. You said they have
all been broken."

Scully was momentarily thrown by the change in subject, but
was relieved to leave the intense personal scrutiny behind.
"Yes."

"I see." Scully watched as the older woman jotted a few
notes onto her pad of paper.

"I broke a rule first," Scully blurted, as if she were in
confession. "What I mean to say is, I initiated the first
rule breaking."

"Why?"

"I...missed him," she said, flushing. "I was...it had been
a week since the first time we ever...had relations, and I
wanted to have sex with him." Might as well get it out
there. "I thought about it all the time. I knew he was
going to come over for our weekly dinner, so I told myself
I could have him then. It helped me get through the days
at the office.

"I suppose, subconsciously, I wanted to break down the
barriers, even as we constructed them." She gave a small
laugh. "But you know all about subconscious motivations."

"I don't know yours," Audrey replied with a smile. "It's
good to be aware of the factors that prompt our actions,
Dana. Don't feel the need to hold back what you think were
your motivations. It's important for me – and especially
you – to hear them."

Scully nodded and took a deep breath.

"I take it you felt the rule was dispensable?"

Again, Scully nodded, and gave a little smile. "At the
time, =extremely= dispensable." She and Audrey both
laughed. It felt good to be able to talk about this with a
little brevity. "The rule was that we weren't supposed to
do the deed at our apartments. But since we started having
sex to relieve stress, it seemed rather ludicrous to have
limitations on location. Stress can strike anytime,
anywhere." Of course, that sounded more like an excuse
than anything. "Well, that's how I rationalized it to
myself," she amended.

"It certainly can," Audrey agreed, amusement coloring her
voice. "The next 'rule' that was broken – when was that,
and at whose instigation?"

Scully immediately relaxed. This was already done, in the
past; this she could handle. She thought for a moment.
"About a week and a half after the first one."

"And what did this rule entail?"

"Well...I told you that we had originally planned to make
our sexual...er – transgressions as impersonal as
possible."

"I heard you say that, yes."

"We thought it best if, during the sexual act, we didn't
say one another's names."

Audrey's eyebrows rose. "And it had worked up until that
point?"

Scully flushed a little. "It had been difficult, for both
of us, I think, but yes. After the first encounter and
making up the rules, there was only that one time at my
apartment when we had to exercise this restraint before we
broke another rule. Well, it wasn't =one= time but it was
one occasion - " Scully stopped abruptly as she realized
she had probably said more than Audrey needed to hear.

Mortification threatened to overheat her face until she
heard Audrey chuckle. She started in surprise.

"Dana, I'm quite aware of the various forms sex can take
on. Stop being so self-conscious – I'm not a priest."
Audrey chuckled again, filled with mirth. "You're making
me feel like an old woman."

Scully found herself smiling sheepishly in response. "I'm
sorry. That isn't what I meant to do. I just find it hard
to speak openly about this to someone who isn't – " She
hesitated, then plunged ahead. " – Mulder." So why hadn't
she spoken about it to him, then? Maybe she was afraid to
realize exactly how little this meant to him.

"Oh, to have the benefits of youth and vigorous physical
training on your side," Audrey sighed wistfully. "So...you
were telling me about how you and your partner could no
longer hold back shouting out each other's names in
ecstasy," she said with a straight face.

God, would she ever stop blushing? Audrey had apparently
forgotten her question about who had been the one to
instigate the breaking of this rule, and Scully was rather
relieved. Okay, so it had been her...but she'd been in the
throes of mindless passion at the time. Surely she
couldn't be blamed all that much.

It had been another rule that had a sound theory behind it,
but when put into practice was simply unfeasible. She was
certain it would have been broken sooner or later, so it
really didn't matter whether it was she or Mulder who had
initiated that particular transgression.

Besides, it'd been getting rather ridiculous. What were
they supposed to do? It's a natural inclination to utter
your sexual partner's name while making love. Should they
have made up names? Remained mute?

There was never any regret on her part that that rule had
been tossed to the wind. And it was highly doubtful Mulder
had been fond of it, either.

She'd done them both a favor.

~~~~~~~~
Chapter Six
~~~~~~~~

Residence of Mrs. Elliot Treadahe
August 4
5:12 p.m.

They stepped out into the bright sunlight, Mulder donning
his sunglasses and Scully following suit.

"So what do you think, Scully?"

All she seemed capable of concentrating on was his lower
lip. Throughout their interview with Mrs. Treadahe, Scully
had been unable to focus on the questions being asked. She
was grateful Mulder hadn't seemed to notice that he'd been
picking up her slack.

It was ridiculous that the only thing she'd been aware of
as he'd spoken to the interviewee, and now, as they
conversed in front of their rental car, was that lower lip
of his. Well, =he= was conversing. She was merely staring
from behind her sunglasses.

The lip was plump and slightly swollen from being chewed
on. He had recently run his tongue over it, so it
glistened, slightly moist. She had the almost
uncontrollable urge to stand on her tip-toes, lean over,
and suck it right into her mouth.

"Scully?"

She reluctantly dragged her gaze from her perusal of his
lip when her name emanated from his mouth.

"What, Mulder?" She was thankful she had followed his lead
and put on her sunglasses. He couldn't know what was so
preoccupying her.

"You okay there?" He was the very model of concern. "You
were saying you thought you had a fever." He drew closer,
arm half-raised, no doubt intending to check on that
himself.

She backed away before he could reach her. The last thing
she needed was for him to touch her in her current state.
The way she was feeling right now, she was liable to throw
him to the ground and wrestle him for possession of his
tongue.

And that was against the rules. Most definitely against
the rules. Maybe not against a specific rule, but against
the spirit of the rules in general. Oh – and they were on
a case. Right.

"I'm fine, Mulder." She was proud of the way her voice
came out cool and collected. Her gaze fell to the strong
column of his neck, so ready to be nibbled on.

He dropped his arm. "All right. So what do you think?"

Damn. What had he been saying? She was loathe to reveal
the extent of her absorption with assets of his that had
nothing to do with his mind. Unfortunately, there was no
help for it. She hadn't a clue to what he wanted her
response.

"I'm sorry. I wasn't listening." She adjusted her
sunglasses. "Run it by me again?"

Surprisingly, Mulder made no comment, simply repeating what
he had just said. "The lab results and forensics report
are pretty clear. I've found nothing out of the ordinary.
Mrs. Treadahe seems a few sandwiches short of a picnic, and
I don't think a poltergeist is involved. Seems like a
simple arson case to me. No X-File."

She nodded her agreement. Not an X-File. Which meant,
technically, that they were no longer on a case. Which
meant...she couldn't stop the flutter of excitement that
arose in her stomach.

"We'll go speak to the sheriff and tell him our conclusion,
then I'll books us flights out for tomorrow. What do you
feel like for dinner?" Mulder was always worried about his
stomach.

"Whatever's fine."

They headed toward their rented Taurus. Mulder was
driving, and not for the first time, Scully was grateful.
She was little too keyed up at the moment to drive, and
looked forward to some contemplation time.

Neither brought up the fact that it was still early evening
and they could probably get a flight out that night with
very little problem. If they'd wanted to leave.

~~~~~~~~

Motel 6, Room 9
August 4
9:21 p.m.

Scully rose out of her bath, reaching for a towel. After
she pulled the plug to drain the tub, she began to pat
herself dry. The bath had relaxed her somewhat, but now
that she was no longer ensconced in bubbles, she felt a
twinge of the same anxiety that had prompted her desire for
a bath in the first place. She'd taken one even though the
tub was small and cramped, not ideal for bathing.

Sighing, she hung the towel back onto the rack. Now that
she was all sweet-smelling and clean, what the hell was she
going to do? Barge into Mulder's room, where he was no
doubt entertaining himself with filmed versions of what she
wanted to do with him, and announce that fact? Or wait
until he came to her?

She honestly didn't know if she could wait that long. She
had been feeling restless and horny all day, and if she had
to wait until =Mulder= made a move she could well be facing
hours of frustration.

Yet Mulder had been the one to make the first move and got
this whole thing rolling, while she had been paralyzed with
indecision.

Well, no more. Now that they had crossed that line, she
didn't feel the need to hide her desires the way she used
to. Still, what was wrong with her, anyway? She'd never
been quite so desperate for sexual attention from a man.
And why Mulder? Sure, for six years her dreams and the
occasional fantasy had revolved around him, but that was
because he was a good-looking man, intelligent and
challenging, and practically the only male she ever spent
time with on a regular and significant basis. But surely,
now that he had been attained, her desire should have been
doused somewhat?

She was not of the mind to do any real analysis. All she
wanted was Mulder's cock – which, incidentally, she had
become quite infatuated with – and those lips of his
pressed upon her body.

Yet simple pride kept her from throwing open the connecting
door clad in only her birthday suit only to find him
sprawled fully dressed on his bed watching TV.

She wanted him to want her as much as she wanted him. The
only way she would know that for sure was to wait until he
made the first gesture. Pulling on a robe, she went into
the bedroom and sat down on the bed to wait.

After about ten minutes, she got bored and switched on the
TV. Flipping through the channels, she finally stopped on
some adult channel where a woman with enormous breasts was
having sex with a man who needed some major grooming in
Scully's opinion – and she wasn't talking about the hair on
his head.

She changed the channel. A nature film, the narrator
cheerfully explaining that it was mating season for this
particular species of toad, and Scully was then subjected
to the sight of the two horny toads – and she wasn't
talking about the species.

Everybody's getting some but me, she thought morosely.

Sighing, she went over to her suitcase and took out a
bottle of nail polish. If he didn't show up soon, she was
going to paint her toenails. She set the bottle down on
the small bedside table, then took one of the pillows and
propped it up against the headboard. She settled against
it, half-sitting and half-lying on top of the sheets.

"Scully?" There was a tentative knock on the connecting
door, Mulder's voice muffled behind it.

Finally. But it wouldn't do to appear too eager. She
could be just as cool and detached about this as he.
"Yes?"

"Can I come in?"

Don't ask, just do it! she thought with aggravation. Her
voice, however, was perfectly calm when she spoke. "Sure."

The connecting door opened slowly, an inch at a time, as if
he was afraid he was interrupting something he shouldn't.
Once he spied her on the bed, however, the door swung open
with a loud bang against the wall. Scully winced.

"Sorry," Mulder mumbled. He was wearing a Knicks t-shirt
with torn sleeves and sweatpants.

He looked utterly delectable to Scully, but she casually
trained her vision on the TV. She wouldn't have been able
to tell anyone what she was watching, though. She was too
aware of Mulder's presence in her room. Oh, well. It
wasn't as if she'd be quizzed on it.

"What'cha watching?"

Oh, damn you, Mulder. "Uh – " There were pelicans on the
screen. "The nature channel." Whew. Good save, Agent
Scully.

She suddenly felt very warm and wanted to shed some
clothing to ease the discomfort, but then remembered that
the robe was the only thing she was wearing. While the
prospect of getting naked with Mulder was infinitely
pleasing, she wasn't about to stand up and simply drop the
robe to the floor. She felt too self-aware at the moment,
not to mention that she didn't feel the least bit sensual
or provocative.

It rather felt like she was on her first date, wanting to
be kissed but lacking the know-how to go about initiating
it. And it didn't help that her "date" was currently
staring at his feet as if they were incredibly fascinating
– more fascinating than the half-naked woman on the bed.

"What'cha doin'?"

"Nothing."

He made a move toward the bed, placing first his hands upon
the cover, then hauling his large frame completely onto it
to settle next to her.

Scully's heart beat a little faster. Here it comes, she
thought. If she had been some heroine in a bad romance
novel she would have demanded that he ravish her
immediately. Instead she said, "You're a big lug, you know
that, Mulder?" The bed had shrunk two sizes.

"What have I told you about the flattery, Scully?" Mulder
retorted sarcastically.

She didn't know why she felt so damnably awkward. She
certainly hadn't felt awkward the last time they'd done
this – she'd devoured him as soon as he'd entered her
apartment. But there was the difference, she supposed;
she'd felt comfortable in her apartment, in control. She
had decided upon a course of action and simply plunged
right in.

This was a little different. It didn't feel spontaneous,
yet neither of them knew what the plan was. She didn't
want to be the only one who wanted to test the boundaries.

"You're into the nature channel, Scully?"

The sound of Mulder's voice so close to the sensitive area
of her ear caused her to give an involuntary jump. She
smoothed a damp palm against the material of the robe,
hoping to cover her reaction.

But he had noticed it, she realized, when she looked at him
out of the corner of her eye and saw a pleased little smirk
on his face.

"It's very educational," she replied.

"You don't have to pretend. I know you haven't really been
watching." Boy, one uncontrolled physical response and the
man was reeking arrogance!

"Shows what you know," she snapped. "They were talking
about...frogs mating." Ha!

"Uh," he said, in a tone that made her want to clobber him,
so full of condescension, "the humping toads were on when I
first came in. They've gone on to at least four other
animals since then."

Her first thought was, *he said 'humping.'* Focus, woman,
focus!

"That one was the most interesting," she answered, feeling
a hot flush creep up her neck.

"Mm hmm." She jumped again as the deep throaty purr seemed
even closer to her ear, so close that she had not heard so
much the sound but felt the vibration of his utterance.
She froze when she felt Mulder's nose touch her ear.

"I've often wanted to learn more about the mating habits
of...frogs." She struggled for some semblance of
nonchalance.

"They were toads," he whispered, his breath tickling her
ear, causing goosebumps to appear all over her flesh.

"Oh," she responded breathlessly. Mulder began to rub his
nose back and forth against her ear, causing her toes to
curl in pleasure.

"Are you wearing anything under that robe?" he murmured.
His breath was hot against her ear, and he flicked his
tongue against her earlobe, warm and wet. Tremors of
anticipation shot through her. She wanted to feel more of
his tongue against her ear, so she pressed it against his
face.

He chuckled. "You haven't answered my question." But he
obligingly sucked her earlobe into his mouth, nipping and
biting lightly.

She moaned, writhing a little on the bed. One leg came up
so that her foot rested against the bedcover, causing the
material of the robe to slide down, exposing one bare thigh
to practically the junction of her legs.

Mulder caught the movement, and there was no doubting the
tremor in his own voice as he said, "Well, that was a very
demonstrative way to answer."

To her delight, one of his hands immediately went to her
exposed knee and began a trail up her leg, higher and
higher to the soft skin of her inner thigh. She shivered
at the sensation of his slightly callused hand gliding up
her skin, promising soon to be where she wanted it most...

Though she was expecting it, the sensation of his fingers
there at her center nearly made her vault off the bed in
surprise. One of her hands went involuntarily to his
wrist, as if to stop him, and he went still.

She loosened her grip, instead trailing her fingers over
the back of his hand until she reached his fingertips. She
looked into his face then, and saw that he was watching her
intently. Their gazes locked and held as she pressed one
of his fingers into her.

There they were, in a Motel 6, dressed in ratty clothes,
the nature channel blaring from the TV, and she was having
an unbelievably erotic experience. The feel of his finger
pressing up into her was incredible – and she could hardly
wait for something more substantial. It was the connection
of their eyes that made it all so much more intimate,
however.

Quickly, Mulder moved in between her legs, his head dipping
low to get a better view of what his finger was doing.

"You're so wet," he murmured. "Already." There was no
hiding how pleased he was. "Mmm, and you smell good too.
Want to...taste you." He removed his finger, eliciting a
small whimper of disappointment from her – but then his
tongue was there, searching her folds, and she quickly
voiced her approval.

But when she would have said his name, she bit her lip.
That was not allowed. She just had to pretend that it was
not Mulder who was doing these things to her, but a random
man. A random, sexy stranger she had picked up out of
nowhere because she felt like having sex. He just happened
to look a lot like her partner.

She felt oddly bereft, even as her lover's lips and tongue
were bringing her to new heights of ecstasy. She felt
strangely alone. That had to be changed.

"Stop," she commanded huskily, sitting up.

He only looked at her in confusion, the beginnings of hurt
starting to show on his face.

"Let's do this together." Her hands went to the belt of
her robe, clearly intending to remove it. She gestured to
his clothes. A grin spread across his face.

"Whatever you say, Sc – " he stopped, a sad look stealing
over his face. But then he brightened. "I never refuse
when a woman asks me to take my clothes off." He stripped
of his shirt with glee and tossed it carelessly to the
floor.

She raised an eyebrow, feeling a touch of possessiveness
about him even though she knew he was joking. "And how
often is that, M - ?" That was a close one.

"Oh, all the time...all the time. Don't you see them
throwing themselves at me?" he teased. He leaned forward
to kiss her sweetly.

"If you mean Kersh's secretary, the next time I see her I'm
gonna – "

"Ooh, what?" His eyes were twinkling with delight. "You
would fight over me?"

She smiled. "Of course not. The next time I see her I'm
gonna tell her you're not worth it."

His face fell, but she could see that he was amused. "Not
even a little bit?"

"Not...even...a...little...bit," she answered, punctuating
her words with kisses. The last one initiated a kiss that
continued for quite some time. They weren't touching
except for their mouths, and Scully wanted to remedy that
as quickly as possible.

She shrugged the robe completely off, glad to be rid of the
thing that was keeping her from feeling Mulder's skin on
hers. She placed her arms on Mulder's strong shoulders and
wrapped them around his neck. She then plastered herself
against him, delighting in the way he felt against her skin
and her breasts in particular.

He apparently liked it as well, because he groaned into her
mouth and wrapped his arms tightly around her, bringing her
even closer to him.

God, it was such an amazing feeling to be naked, at least
from the chest up, with Mulder, kissing the life out of
each other. He tasted so good...he smelled so good...he
felt so good...and she herself had never felt better.

But there was something slightly amiss. She wasn't feeling
=all= of him. She realized he still had his sweats on.

She couldn't get her arms down to his pants with his arms
around her so tight, so she had no choice but to make him
aware of it verbally. The problem was that when she tried
to pull away from his kiss, those same arms held her in
position.

She placed two hands against his face and forcefully drew
his head away as she pulled back, so that their lips
disconnected with a loud pop.

She couldn't help but grin at the slightly dazed look on
his face. His eyes were still closed almost all the way
and his lips were still slightly puckered.

"Scuh - ?" She clamped one hand over his mouth so that he
wouldn't break the rule, and smiled at him.

"You're still wearing your pants. That's cheating."

The heat in his gaze brought her temperature up a few
degrees. "Well let me take them off, by all means.
Wouldn't want to be accused of foul play."

They moved away from each other reluctantly, Scully feeling
an unwelcome blast of cold air from the ventilation system.
It did cool her off a little, however, and she was better
able to appreciate the sight of Mulder stripping off his
clothing with eyes unfogged by the drugging lust that
normally overtook her when in his arms.

He hooked his thumbs into the waistband of his sweats and
removed them swiftly. Next went his boxers; he slowly
tugged downward on the material until his jutting erection
sprang free. His underwear joined his sweats on the floor.

Scully immediately reached for his arousal, being as she
was rather obsessed with it. He seemed more than happy to
oblige her, however, returning to the bed and kneeling on
the mattress.

Before she even knew she was going to do it, she had taken
the tip of him between her lips.

"Aauhgh, don't do that!" Mulder exclaimed in distress,
jerking back so that he popped right out of her mouth.

"What? Why not?" Scully was rarely denied what she
wanted, and this unexpected rejection was rather
aggravating. She could still taste him in her mouth, but
the flavor was quickly dissipating. She wanted it back.

He was breathing rather rapidly, and his hands were in
front of his groin, as if shielding his poor mistreated
penis from her uncouth and unwanted aggression, Scully
thought in irritation.

"I can't...concentrate when you do that."

"I'm not asking you to write a dissertation here, Mu – "
His eyes widened and she closed her mouth abruptly.

"I know, but it's my turn." Was that a whine she heard in
his voice? "You said I could," he fairly accused. "You
promised." Yep, definitely getting whiny.

"Oh, all right," she said grudgingly. Not that she was
opposed to this idea of Mulder performing cunnilingus on
her, of course. But she did so like having him in her
mouth. And this was a new experience for her. She had
never liked it before – ever. Yet with Mulder, he hadn't
even been the one to insist on it before she had eagerly
fallen to the task.

"Well, I suppose we could compromise," he said
thoughtfully.

"What do you mean?" She looked at him suspiciously, then
felt a flood of warmth between her legs as she realized
what he meant. This was exciting in so many ways, not the
least of which was that she had never done it before.
"Okay, how is this gonna work? You being the big lug that
you are?"

"You're really going to hurt my feelings one of these
days."

She smiled.

He moved, settling against the pillow propped up by the
headboard where she had been lying previously, sliding
about halfway down. He flashed her a quick grin. "Problem
solved."

She was dubious, and it showed on her face.

"You just worry about your end, and I'll take care of my
end," Mulder said patiently. She could tell he was trying
not to grin madly at his meaning. "Now, back into me."

"What! I'm not backing into you." The very idea seemed
undignified to her.

"Fine. Do it however you like. But I'm not backing down
about this."

"Did I ask you to?" she snapped. Finally, the only
foreseeable alternative was to straddle herself high on his
chest and gradually go on all fours. So, that was what she
did.

He was now within reach, and she licked her lips in
anticipation.

"Wait! Don't start yet!" The loud cry nearly gave her a
heart attack.

She turned her head to look behind her and see what the
holdup was. He was struggling, wrestling with the pillow,
and finally he just propped himself up by his elbows.

"Well?" She raised an eyebrow.

"Hold on." More struggling, until he was settled once
again back against the pillow, at the perfect height for
his mouth to reach her without having to lean forward.
"Now, when I tell you, can you back up a little?"

She turned back to take in the object of her hunger. "I
suppose so." Less for her, but not that much.

"Okay then."

She felt his hands against the backs of her thighs, sliding
up toward her feminine core. She felt his thumbs parting
her folds, and knew without a doubt that he was studying
her. She had never felt so exposed in her life.

It was a great feeling.

And then his mouth was on her, and it was as if she had
been dunked into a well of sensation. Electric shocks were
coursing through her body so fast that she could hardly
identify where they were coming from.

In automatic response, her mouth latched onto his cock.
Mmmm. She could hear him groaning behind her, but she
couldn't concentrate on anything but the wonderful
sensations his lips and tongue were rousing, and the fact
that she had Mulder's thick cock in her mouth.

She suckled strongly at him, and felt his response as he
stabbed his tongue into her. It was a curious mix of
attack and retaliation, each trying to force the other over
the edge first.

She laved her tongue all around him, concentrating on the
tip; he teased her clit with his tongue. She took him deep
into her throat; he stabbed two fingers into her, pumping
roughly.

The influx of sensation was amazing. He was making her
feel so good, and she realized she was making him feel the
same way, which made her feel good again. And she loved
tasting him in her mouth. A win-win situation all around.
It was undoubtedly one of the most arousing sexual acts she
had ever performed, and she wondered why she had never done
it before. Of course, she had never enjoyed giving blow
jobs before, either. Obviously, it was all because of
Mulder.

She couldn't stop the thought as it came unbidden to her
mind. Shit, shit, shit. It was not supposed to matter
that it was Mulder, damn it. He's just a guy.

But the taste she had in her mouth – it was so familiar.
So familiar because breathing deeply, she smelled him. And
he smelled like her partner. He smelled the way he smelled
on a hundred stakeouts when she had fallen asleep on his
shoulder. He smelled the way he did when he got too close
to her, explaining one of his theories. He smelled the way
Mulder smelled when he'd leaned in close to kiss her cheek
as she lay on a hospital bed.

This was that same scent, only earthier, muskier; it was
raw Mulder, promised to her senses many times but never
actually fulfilled until she had had him that first time in
her apartment.

This =was= Mulder, and that was why everything was
heightened; better.

He chose that moment to press his tongue hard against her
clit, circling forcefully, and contemplation took flight.
All she saw and felt were stars, exploding all around her.
She couldn't even concentrate on what she was doing with
her mouth. Her arms felt rubbery, alien, as if they were
not really attached to her body.

It came as no surprise to either of them when her arms
finally gave out and she collapsed onto him, his erection
leaving her mouth with a twitch of disappointment.

For a long time there was nothing except for the sounds of
two people trying to slow their intake of breath.

"That was fun," Mulder said finally. Scully was eye-level
with his cock, still hard and huge and throbbing with
blood. He could see that she was looking at it, of course,
and his reflexive swallow was audible.

"Yes, it was," she said. His dick moved in response to the
warm caress of her breath.

She finally called up the strength to haul herself up and
straddle him face-to-face. For a long time they just
looked at each other, a thousand conversations flying back
and forth in their gazes. Scully dipped her head and
touched her lips to his. The kiss immediately deepened.
She could taste herself on him and knew that he could taste
himself on her, and for a long while the mingling of these
flavors was the only purpose they had in life.

When Scully pulled away, it was to gasp for air. "I
think..." she rasped, "I think it's time we took care of
your little problem."

He looked vaguely insulted that she had called his raging
erection a "little" problem, but was not quite fully
coherent enough to voice any objection. He did, however,
locate enough cognizance to sit up and adjust his position
better suited for what was coming next. So to speak, she
snickered to herself. God, this habit of making bad puns
had to have come from Mulder.

Bracing her hands on his shoulders, adjusting the position
of her legs, she slid down on him an inch at a time. She
could feel her muscles expanding, adjusting to the foreign
object invading her body, and she was glad they had taken
the time for foreplay or this would have been more
uncomfortable. Two prior experiences had not gotten her
body used to him yet, but if she was honest, the discomfort
was pleasurable as well.

It was the intimacy of the act, however, that she enjoyed
most.

Mulder had his eyes closed and was biting his lower lip;
the sight sent a shiver of desire racing through her body.
She loved it when he did that.

At last, there was nowhere else for him to go, and he let
out a hiss of breath. "God, you're so tight, Sc – " He
stopped himself.

She was a little annoyed that he still had the presence of
mind to think about =rules= when he was fully sheathed
inside her as far as he could go. And this was not an easy
thing for a woman of her size to do – accommodating a big
lug like him.

"You think so, huh?" She gave his shoulders a little
squeeze. "Did you know I can be even tighter?" She
clenched her inner muscles.

"God!" His eyes flew open.

"Feel good, dearest?"

He panted. "Ah, I can't remember – you'd better remind
me."

She did, this time sliding up and down as she did so. She
smiled in satisfaction at the long throaty moan she got out
of him. So she did it again. Again. And again. Soon she
was riding him so hard and fast that her muscles began to
ache and protest loudly. She kept her inner muscles
clenched tight, which was tiring, but also made it feel
incredible for her.

She took her hands from his shoulders and adjusted her
angle, her hands now resting on his hard stomach. OH! The
new angle hit some funny spot inside her – she had never
felt that before. There it was again!

To her amazement she felt herself begin to tighten even
further, signaling an orgasm. She had thought for sure
that the last one was – well, never mind what she thought;
she had been wrong. This new spot was the key. And to
think in her entire life so far, she hadn't even known it
existed!

Moving frantically on him, she wondered why the hell he
hadn't come yet. She was so close to her second climax,
and he hadn't even reached his first. She recalled that
she wanted to make him lose control, lose that irritating
presence of mind he was so good at maintaining. That was
the whole point of this ride-him-fast-and-hard exercise.

The side bonus of a second orgasm from her exertions had
momentarily distracted her from this ultimate purpose.

She slowed to a halt, causing the little cries from Mulder
to stop and elicit a panicked, "Why are you stopping?"

"Not stopping," she explained in a breathy little voice.
"Just changing pace." She unclenched her muscles, lifted
herself until he was almost completely out, then slammed
back down, reclenching when he was fully inside again.

His bellow rang in her ears, and she blacked out a little
for a moment, herself. She performed that move two or
three more times, until for the last one Mulder
unexpectedly met her halfway. He'd been pretty docile up
to that point, letting her ride him at the pace, depth, and
strength she wanted. Now, he came up hard as she was going
down hard – the result was bone jarring, teeth rattling
ecstasy.

He erupted into her, shouting "Scully!" like a benediction,
so loudly her ears rang with the noise.

It wasn't until moments later, feeling the aftershocks of
her second orgasm that she realized she was chanting,
"Mulder, Mulder, Mulder."

She was once again crushed against his chest, having
collapsed upon him. His arms had immediately gone around
her and held fast. She lacked the strength and the
conviction to do anything about it.

Silence reigned.

A pronouncement: "I think we should toss out that rule."

Coming close on its heels: "I agree."

"It's hardly reasonable not to say names during sex. 'God'
and 'Jesus' don't count." Mulder was the voice of reason.

"Nope." Scully hid a smile. She'd done it, made him lose
control. If she had lost some in the process as well, it
was a loss well worth the result.

"It would be stupid to make up fake names."

"Ridiculous. Unthinkable."

There was another moment of silence as this was digested.

Mulder cleared his throat. "Since that's settled, mind if
I go take a shower?"

"Not at all." Her voice was dismissive.

"Uh, Scully?" Pause. "You'll have to get off me."

"I already got you off," she replied, snickering. At his
groan she rolled away, trying not to feel bereft when he
slipped out of her body.

She watched him make his way to the bathroom, admiring the
fine round cheeks of his ass as he walked. She heard the
shower go on, and tried not to feel that he was washing her
off of him.

The area between her legs throbbed, reminding her of her
recent activity, and realized with a grimace that she was
going to pay the price for all this pleasure with a lot of
soreness tomorrow.

She wondered if she ought to put on some clothes. Where
was her underwear? Ah, yes, she hadn't been wearing any
this time. At least she wouldn't be hunting madly for them
as she had the last two times she and Mulder had made love.
It was odd, but she seemed to have misplaced those pairs.
Not that she could really say for sure.

The first pair to go missing had undoubtedly in her
eagerness been flung into some forgotten corner where the
maid had probably found them. The second pair was likely
still in her apartment somewhere – maybe she had tossed
them into the laundry hamper and forgotten.

She lost this train of thought when she heard the shower
stop, and then heard the soft, muted sounds of Mulder
drying off.

He walked back into the room, naked as a jaybird, and
Scully thought absently that he was magnificent. Grabbing
his clothes up from the floor, he quickly redressed.

She watched him with a growing sense of unease.

"Well," he said, not quite meeting her eyes, as if
embarrassed that she was still unclothed, "good night."

He walked quickly to the connecting doorway, then through
it to the adjoining room.

He wasn't going to sleep with her? Scully tried not to
feel like crying, and failed miserably. He washed off the
evidence of their passion, dressed, then went somewhere
else to sleep?

What had she expected, words of love and promises of
forever? She knew she wouldn't be getting those things –
ever. They had an agreement and she was breaking it right
now by wanting more. Mulder had probably suspected that
she would get emotional on him, and had wanted to spare her
the agony of indulging her feelings only to have them lead
nowhere.

She knew that he was doing what was best, but it didn't
stop her from resenting him for it. Or feeling hurt.

Just because he'd spent the night at her place that once
didn't mean he wanted to sleep together all the time.
Maybe she was too clingy in her sleep. Maybe he just
wanted to sleep in his own bed. Well, he shouldn't want
that! the unreasonable part of her argued. He should want
to spend the night with you, in the same damn bed!

He doesn't want that and neither should you, she told
herself, and ignored the wetness trailing down her cheeks.

She got up to turn the room light off, then crawled back
into bed, burying her face in the pillow he had so recently
leant against. She could smell his soap and his sweat, and
if she concentrated she could still taste him in her mouth.

She didn't shower; she liked the way his scent was all over
her, saturated into her skin.

She feel asleep with Mulder's redolence surrounding her,
his face filling her slumberous vision, his essence resting
safely inside her.

~~~~~~~~
Chapter Seven
~~~~~~~~

Mulder's Apartment
September 20
9:32 p.m.

Popping open a can of diet soda, Mulder took a long gulp,
then settled onto his sofa and flipped open the pages of
the journal. It had been three days since his last entry.
At the time, he had penned the last word with a feeling
akin to relief - it had been cathartic to spill his guts
onto paper. That had changed in the past few days.

He was more anxious than ever.

Although he had seen Scully since his last entry and their
lovemaking had been as powerful and enjoyable as ever, he
was beginning to feel as if she was trying to distance
herself.

She was doing the exact opposite of what he had hoped their
closeness would induce – she was retreating rather than
embracing. And he didn't know how to stop her from
slipping further away.

The situation was making him insane with worry.

This time, he didn't hesitate. He picked up his pen and
began to write.

**I've always been open and honest with Scully. I've
always told her everything. But I've kept one thing from
her these past few weeks – knowledge she has a right to.

Though this is the only thing I have ever kept from her, I
feel like the biggest liar on the planet. I don't even
think I've kept the secret all that well, but amazingly
enough, Scully's keen instincts haven't picked up on it
yet. I must be more talented than I give myself credit
for.

Actually, I lied to myself just now. It's not the only
thing I've ever kept from her, but we made it through the
other instances with our friendship intact and possibly
even stronger for them. This, however, has the greatest
ramifications to the continuance of our friendship to date.

I'm scared.

Scully has always been the strong one of the two of us, and
this time it's not any different. I'm tempted to confess
all and let =her= come up with the solution. The only
reason I haven't is that I'm afraid her solution would be
to leave me. And that would make me want to shoot myself
in the head. So.

I have to remember how strong our bond is. It makes me
ashamed that I have to remind myself, but there it is.
Fear is crippling. I can't lose her.

We've had more than our share of tragedy and pain, but in a
twisted way, that makes our happy times even more
meaningful – not that I wouldn't take back all the pain
I've caused her if I could. Right now is a happy time.
Sort of. I love being able to express my love for Scully
in a physical way, and I love that she enjoys it, too. The
threat of these happy times ending haunts me.

I know I'm the luckiest son of a bitch alive for being able
to experience what we've had. I'm also a greedy son of a
bitch, though, and I want more. I want it all.

I'm addicted to the fact that whenever things look like
they can't get any worse, I see Scully beside me and
realize that things will never be at their worst if she's
with me. I love that I can depend on that. It scares me
shitless to imagine a time when I can't.

It used to be fine to accept it like any other given in
life. The sun will always shine. The sky will always be
blue. Kersh will always hate my guts. I will always have
Scully. Now such assumptions are dangerous. Now there is
a chance that a given will change. Scully may not be
there. Then you might as well ask me to stop breathing.

Such fears prompt even more dangerous thoughts. Thoughts
of confessing what I feel for her.

More and more, I'm thinking these dangerous thoughts.
Thoughts I hope and am yet afraid will manifest themselves,
making it impossible for us to continue on the way we have.
It would force us to make choices. Well, force her to make
a choice, at least. It's not really a choice for me. Do
you want to go on living? How would you answer that?

I'm living a fucking lie. I don't want to pretend anymore
that I have lesser feelings for her than I do. But I will,
if the only alternative is a life without Scully.
Sometimes, I let myself hope that she's living a lie, too.
Then we can confess our truths to each other and move on,
complete and together, from there.

But the realist in me doesn't dwell on it too long. I know
that if only one of us is living a lie, then we both lose,
just in different ways.

I know she's not ready to hear my truth yet. What I mean
by 'ready' is: ready to give the response I want to hear.
She's not going to drop everything and declare that she
returns my feelings. I think the only time I could ever
expose myself like that, bare my soul to her, risk our
partnership, would be when I'm reasonably sure she's not
going to utterly reject me.

Because if I do come clean with her about the way I feel
and she doesn't feel the same, not only would I have to
deal with the rejection itself, but also with the knowledge
that I'd made myself a burden to her. She'd have to deal
with my feelings. Not exactly the kind of impression you
want to make on the woman you love. Worse – she might pity
me. Or maybe not worse. It's pathetic, but the selfish
part of me would even take that, if it was all she could
offer.

But then she'd feel guilty...unhappy...stressed. And if
there is one thing I have sworn to myself about my sorry
life, it's that it will in no way, shape, or form, cause
Scully unhappiness.

I've already failed plenty of times in that respect, I
suppose. Never with that intention, though, and never when
I could prevent it. This I can prevent. I'll just keep my
damn mouth shut and everything will be fine.

I don't know what to call these feelings. I suppose, love
- which explains everything and nothing at all. I don't
think we have a word for what I feel for Scully in the
English language. Perhaps another. Perhaps somewhere, in
another country, another continent, a language exists where
a man is able to describe in one word what he feels for the
woman who completes him, sustains him, owns him body and
soul.

The other day, I ran through the gamut of words that I know
and none of them fit. They are all so pale, so drab, so
unfit to describe what Scully means to me.

I would do anything for her. People die for causes all the
time, and I'm no different. I'd die for a cause if I
thought it worthy, I'd die in exchange for my mother's
life, I'd even die for your average citizen on the street.
Hell, that's what they pay me for, isn't it? That's what
an officer of the law risks every day.

But how many people can say they have something – someone -
to live for, truly live for? Scully is it for me. I don't
think there's a single person in this universe who could
get me to stay in this world if I wanted to go. Except
Scully. It's a lot harder to live for someone than to die
for a person, I can tell you that. Dying for someone or
for a cause requires only one moment of bravery, and then
you don't have to worry about anything ever again.

I've had a number of such moments in my life. *Well,* I
thought during those times, *this is the end.* While I was
never =happy= about those occasions, I wasn't entirely full
of regret, either. I suppose I took the thought of death
rather pragmatically. We all have to go sometime. Most
people probably think about their loved ones when they're
about to die. The precious faces, the good times, the
shared love.

I never, ever, let myself think of Scully at those times if
I can help it. It makes the prospect of leaving this world
too hard, the yearning to stay too strong. Why put myself
through that kind of agony if it's really my time to go?

I haven't always been successful at putting her out of my
mind. That's how I know what agony is.

On the reverse end, there have been very few times in my
life when I've been consciously happy to be living. Scully
is associated with them all. The day her cancer went into
remission, life had never seemed so beautiful. I was
thrilled to be alive, because my life had been given back
to me. That may not make any sense to anyone else. The
way she looked at me, those beautiful eyes sharing her
relief, her bravery, her pain, I think she knew what I was
feeling.

I ask Scully for a lot – sometimes, more than she wants to
give. More than I deserve. But I ask anyway. How can it
be expected of me not to ask? One day I'm afraid that my
need will swallow her whole. I see it coming, sometimes,
the way the sea swallows an object as strong as a ship – in
the end, it's as if the ship was never there. Scully will
be minimized, reduced to becoming a part of me, because I
couldn't learn to coexist with her. Instead, we'll be made
into a sick parody of togetherness.

I've tried to keep my distance to please her – God, how
I've tried. The time we broke down and actually said each
other's names while making love, I was a little scared.
Her name was ripped out of me and I thought I'd given
everything away.

I was afraid she'd see right through me – she'd see what
she meant to me, and I would lose her. Imagine my intense
relief when I heard her cry my name out too.

I had to pretend to be detached; pretend it didn't faze me
at all that she'd fucked me within an inch of my life. So
what if it was one of the most incredible sexual
experiences of my life? I was very convincing. I amazed
myself.

The last thing I'd wanted to do was wash off the delicious
fragrance of Scully, me, and sex, but she was watching me
and it would have looked suspicious if I hadn't.

Sure, part of it was pride, too. If she didn't want to
care about me, then I wasn't about to confirm how truly
pathetic I was by begging her to do it anyway. So I was
clinical about it, as she would appreciate, following the
spirit of our pact. I washed, I dressed, I went back to my
own room to sleep. Just because these actions made me
miserable didn't mean they weren't necessary. I probably
made Scully very relieved. That's something, I suppose.

And if I wanted more than anything to hold her in my arms
as I fell asleep – well, that was my own fucking problem,
wasn't it?

I don't worry too much about that time anymore, though.
Since then we've learned that we both sleep better with
each other than without, so it's not a memory that causes
me much anxiety now.

I remember the first time she actually let me stay with her
in a motel situation. To say I was thrilled covers maybe a
tenth of what I felt then. It happened during the time we
broke our last rule, actually.

I'd been so frustrated - by the case, unrelieved horniness,
and Scully's tempting presence - that I was practically
demented by the time we got into bed.

I still think we did everybody concerned a good turn by
breaking that rule. I'm certain that it's what finally got
my mind unknotted enough to complete the profile on that
son of a bitch, and we nailed his ass. But that's a whole
other story.

My anxiety now stems more from my possibly doing something
stupid, something that will make her end it with me once
and for all. And that doesn't just entail the confession
of my feelings. It could just dawn on her one day that
she's fucking a pathetic loser whose professional opinion
she doesn't think is worth beans most of the time.

You know, some poor schmucks live with that fear all the
time, all over the world. I just never thought I'd be one
of them. Before Scully, I don't think anyone would have
pegged me for the type, =especially= myself. I was
absorbed in a lot of things, but being in a relationship
with a woman wasn't one of them.

Now it's the most important goddamn relationship of my
life, the only thing I'm really absorbed in, and I'm
fucking it all up. I guess that's pretty typical.

I suppose it's kind of sad how easily I accept that.

I don't mind being a fuckup in the eyes of the world – in
fact, I cultivated that notion. It was carefully
orchestrated. Okay, maybe not, but I certainly didn't mind
when it happened. But I can't be a fuckup in Scully's
eyes. Her opinion =matters=, and if she doesn't see any
redeeming value in me then I'll have to believe that that's
because there isn't any.

I suppose that one time we broke another rule and fucked in
the office could be categorized as somewhat of a fuckup.

Technically, it wasn't the office, it was the bathroom, but
it was in the building where we work. Of course, I
initiated it all. I know I can be somewhat of an ass at
times. I could blame it on her shorter-than-usual skirt,
or the top she was wearing that was so tight her breasts
were practically exploding out of it, but that would be to
place blame where it doesn't really belong.

I have no control where Scully is concerned – I'm just
grateful she puts up with it most of the time. She
possesses amazing powers of forbearance. Then, she's had a
lot of practice with me around.

She really is the perfect woman.

Needless to say, it was basically just down and dirty
fucking at old FBI Headquarters, and even though it was
incredibly stupid and risky...I still wish it would happen
again. To know once more how it feels to have Scully
wanting me that bad. The fact that we're not likely to do
it ever again just makes the experience that much more
memorable.

Talk about thrill! Talk about danger! Man. Members of
the mile-high club don't know what adrenaline =is=. It was
fast and hot and sexy and I would've probably been willing
to donate a kidney for the experience. Luckily, no such
sacrifice was required of me.

Of course, it did get Scully kind of pissed at me. I
didn't know what she was so mad about – she enjoyed herself
at the time, or it seemed to me, and I know she came. I
still have scabs where she scored me with her nails to
support my claim on that. To this day, I still have no
idea what I did that made her so upset.

Maybe it was the meeting with Skinner right after. Hey,
it's not what I would have wanted after making love with
Scully, either, but we =were= on the clock. I guess she
just took her annoyance out on me. That's okay because
Scully deserves to take some frustration out on me.

I gotta say, Skinner is one lucky bastard, though. He got
to see Scully after she'd been thoroughly fucked, and there
isn't a more beautiful sight in the world. Of course, the
reason why we both still have our jobs is due to the fact
that he =wasn't= aware of what he was seeing. I have it on
good authority, however, that it's been quite some time
since anyone has seen her like that (aside from her lover,
of course – and that would be me), so I'm counting Skinner
as lucky.

See, a little on-the-job-fucking can sometimes benefit more
than just the two parties directly involved.

I'm the luckiest bastard of all.**

~~~~~~~~
Chapter Eight
~~~~~~~~

FBI Headquarters – X-Files Division
August 16
3:01 p.m.

"It's Friday, Scully. What do you want to do?" He twirled
a pencil.

"Work, Mulder. You know, why I'm here in the first place."
She kept her face buried in the document she was perusing.

"I thought I was the reason."

"Right. I forgot." There wasn't even an attempt at
sincerity in her tone as she began to scribble on a pad.

What the heck was she doing over there that was so much
more interesting than he was? He leaned forward, trying to
peer over at her desk. Eh, looked boring. He tossed the
pencil skyward. YES! Clean stick. That sucker wasn't
coming back down anytime soon.

He looked over at Scully again, and could have sworn she
was trying not to smile. She used the hand that wasn't
holding her pen to play absently with her necklace, drawing
his gaze to that area. She shifted a little, and Mulder's
eyes widened. Had there been that much cleavage showing
before? And if there had, why hadn't he noticed until now?

Not that it mattered. He was in a constant state of
arousal around her so it really didn't make much of a
difference.

They'd last had sex...when was it? A week ago? Two nights
ago? Whenever it was, it was too long.

She brushed a strand of hair out of her face, and he
swallowed. Had that deliberately been provocative, or was
he just really susceptible? Then she began to nibble on
her lower lip. Without conscious knowledge, he imitated
the action on his own lower lip, imagining it was hers.

Uh oh. He was quickly getting excited. And they were at
work. This was not good.

Concentrate on something else, he told himself. Since at
the moment he found it physically impossible to tear his
gaze away from Scully, he just had to concentrate on her
less provocative assets.

Unfortunately, there wasn't a single part of her that
didn't turn him on. Even her hands, so beautiful, so
delicate, so pure and chaste, were not safe from his lust.
From the graceful arch of her wrist to the tips of her
delicate almond-shaped nails, she was sexy as hell.

Not to mention that his mind vividly brought to the
forefront the memory of what those hands were so good at
doing. For a moment he allowed himself to believe that
they were not at work, that they were somewhere else
entirely, transported there by a benevolent being who had
taken pity on him, and he and Scully were free to cavort as
they pleased.

He was doused in the cold water of reality when Scully
asked if the expense reports were done.

He looked at the pile of receipts and forms on his desk.
"Uh...no?"

"One of these days, Mulder – "

"You're going to shove me up against the wall and punish
me?" he suggested hopefully.

" – you're going to give me a heart attack when you answer
'yes' to a question about getting any paperwork done."

"I think that day is still far off in the future, Scully,"
he assured her.

He thought he heard her mumble something about karma, but
he couldn't be sure.

Scully sighed, and for the first time he noticed – or
thought he noticed – lines of tension around her eyes.

"Want a neck rub?" he offered. At this point he had no
thoughts for anything more than that; she looked tired and
she appreciated a neck rub now and then. Of course, that
was usually in private, but surely it wouldn't harm
anything?

"That would be good," she murmured.

He was instantly grateful to Scully for understanding how
much he wanted to do this for her, how much he needed to be
able to help her in some way.

Making his way to where she sat behind her desk, he
loosened his tie a bit. Maybe they were both a little
tense.

He stood behind her, looking down at the top of her head,
thinking once again that she was entirely too beautiful
from any angle. Leaning down, he placed a gentle kiss
where her hair naturally parted, taking the opportunity to
take in her scent. His eyes closed, imagining that they
were at home, relaxing after a long day at work, and he was
going to ease her tension with a neck rub.

She had stiffened a little under his hands from the kiss,
and immediately he straightened. Unfortunately, only the
last part of that fantasy was true - they were still at
work. And more-than-platonic gestures were strictly
forbidden. He might have already blown it with that
lengthy kiss. It wasn't even a kiss, really, he defended
himself, just the pressure of one part of him touching one
part of her.

He placed his thumbs at the junction of her neck and
shoulders, and began with slow, hard strokes, the way he
knew she liked. Her head bobbed gently forward as she
allowed herself to relax and fully enjoy his ministrations.

Slowly, he worked his way up the column of her neck,
pressing his thumbs firmly against the tight muscles. She
moaned a little, and his cock twitched at the sound. It
was far too used to hearing that moan under different
circumstances.

Or perhaps it had been a preparatory twitch; after all,
massages given in the privacy of wherever they happened to
be often led to a vigorous bout of sex.

It ain't gonna happen this time, he informed his penis
sorrowfully. But it had taken on some of Scully's
personality attributes – it knew who could bring it the
most pleasure, after all – and stubbornly refused to listen
to him.

His hands had returned to the tense muscles of her
shoulders, which had loosened considerably. He could also
tell by the humming noise coming from her throat that he
had at least brought her these few moments of relief.

Another breathy moan and he was rock solid against his
slacks. "Feel good?" he asked, not quite steadily.

"Mmmm," she answered, the sound making the little hairs on
the back of his neck stand at attention – and that wasn't
all. He involuntarily moved closer to the back of her
chair so that his erection was pressed up against it.

"Good. I'm glad," he rasped. With every strenuous rub his
hands performed, his lower body rocked forward, creating
some blessed friction where he desperately wanted it most.

He supposed he ought to be ashamed that he was practically
humping Scully's chair while she sat there innocently
believing he was only being nice. He truly had meant this
to be an altruistic effort on his part. Once again,
however, he had underestimated his need for her; his
automatic response to Scully whenever she was near.

Vaguely in his lust-addled mind it occurred to him that
this problem was supposed to have abated somewhat – that's
why he had thought up the whole sex-as-inhibitor thing in
the first place. But he had fed his addiction when he
should have starved it.

The functioning part of his mind at the moment, however,
was far from clamoring for him to cease and desist.
However, all the blood rushing south didn't allow for many
thoughts, and unfortunately his brain wasn't the organ in
command.

It was this other part that told him to lean down and plant
a kiss on the soft skin of Scully's neck. And another.
And another.

It was this other part that told him her skin would
probably taste sweet and salty at the same time, and
encouraged his tongue to reach out and find out for sure.
Yep, it was true.

It was this other part that told him to suck gently on her
skin until he elicited a moan from her throat – and this he
did, with no compunction.

He lifted his lips from her neck, noticing that her muscles
had tensed again and her breathing was uneven.

He didn't even know he was going to speak until the words
had been said. "Ladies room. Two minutes."

In the period of time between his demand and her answer,
Mulder's head cleared a bit – enough to understand that he
had probably just made an immense ass of himself. Not only
was he suggesting they break yet another rule of their
mutually-agreed-to pact, but his suggestion went against
all of Scully's inured convictions of professionalism.

He was about to open his mouth and apologize, when to his
disbelief she gave a short nod, not looking at him, then
got up and left.

OH MY GOD.

After he had gotten over the shock – well, let's face it,
there was really no getting over it, only familiarize
himself with it – he felt such an urgent surge of need in
his pants that he thought he was going to burst right
through his zipper.

Holy shit. She was actually going to do it. She was going
to let him fuck her in the ladies room in the basement of
fucking FBI Headquarters. At the office. This admission
of her desire, of her need, sent tremors of excitement
jolting through him. His head was probably so swollen it
could have popped with a single pinprick.

That she would overlook professionalism, throw all caution
to the wind, do this utterly stupid thing with him, was
unbelievably sexy. He'd never been so turned on in his
life.

Oh, Scully. His prim, proper little Scully who was a tiger
in bed but nevertheless kept her professional demeanor to a
fault at the office. At work, this sacred place where she
based much of her worth, she was going to overlook and
bypass all that, so that she could have sex with him.

He probably would have gone through another wave of
amazement had his cock not reminded him of the time. His
two minutes were up, and heaven beckoned.

He nearly killed himself tripping over a box as he rushed
out, narrowly escaping concussing himself on the edge of a
desk. He shuddered to think what Scully's reaction would
have been to find him knocked out on the floor of their
office, beaten up by a desk, no less, after waiting who
knew how long for him in the ladies room.

He had chosen the ladies room because it was closest; the
men's room was located all the way down another hall. At
the time he hadn't really had any other consideration, but
now that he thought about it, it had been a blessing in
more ways than just location. The mental picture of making
love to Scully next to a bunch of urinals was not exactly
lust-inspiring, so there was that.

But what =was= lust-inspiring, incredibly so, was the fact
that they would be doing it in the room where Scully went
everyday to do her mysterious little feminine preparations,
whether it was to touch up her makeup or tweeze her
eyebrows or whatever the hell it was that women did in
bathrooms that made them take so damnably long. And now
whenever she went in that room to do those things, she
would remember this event.

He made a vow right then and there that this was going to
be the hottest, most erotic, unforgettable sex that he
could give her. After he was through today, she wouldn't
be able to walk into that room without soaking her panties.

That thought sent more blood rushing to his cock, which
made him grit his teeth. He was aroused to the point of
pain, and if anyone should see him at this moment there
would be absolutely nothing he could do to hide his
condition. He would have to stop this barrage of
excitement and control his dick, or the only thing Scully
was going to do when she walked in that ladies room in the
future was laugh.

Standing in front of the door to the restroom, he took a
deep breath. What if another woman was in there besides
Scully, who had for some random reason decided to use the
bathroom in the basement? Perhaps there had been long
lines for the restrooms on other floors, and a woman had
decided to venture down to the basement...what would he do
then? Mutter a sheepish apology, he supposed. It was the
only thing he =could= do.

But it'd certainly look suspicious, if Scully was in there.

Or maybe what would be suspicious would be to make too big
a deal out if it, like he was doing now. There was a
perfectly good bathroom here that hardly anyone but Scully
ever used. Why should he have to walk to the men's
restroom, which was all the way down in the other
direction, when they were both grown adults and could
listen to another person urinating without going into fits
of adolescent giggles?

But he'd – they'd – be breaking some kind of unspoken
social rule. Men did not go into women's restrooms or vice
versa. If they were caught in the same restroom, for
whatever reason, it would probably be weird enough to pass
along, and tongues were wagging enough about them as it
was, without feeding the fire over where he took a leak.
And with things being as they currently were, the less
attention drawn to them, the better.

Also, if there =was= another woman in there, Scully would
no doubt be outside to warn him.

Better to err on the side of caution. He'd open the door
just a crack, take a tiny peep.

He pushed gently; the hinges squeaked a little as they gave
way slightly. There didn't seem to be anyone inside, as
far as he could tell, but he couldn't see very much. He
pushed a little harder, opening the door a little more.

It occurred to him that if there =was= someone other than
Scully there, it'd look a whole lot worse to be peeping
into the ladies room than if he were just to open the door
normally.

However, before he could put this plan into action, the
door swung rapidly away from him, causing him to pitch
forward and stumble into the room.

Before he knew what was happening, he had been slammed up
against the wall and Scully was kissing him senseless. He
eagerly responded in kind, and the kiss quickly spiraled
out of control. His teeth ground against hers; lips were
bitten; tongues clashed, and all thoughts of being
discovered vanished.

He thought he tasted blood, but whether it was Scully's or
his own he didn't know and it didn't matter. He felt wild,
out of control, and best of all Scully seemed to feel the
same way.

He wanted her to lose her head, to lose her cool, because
that would mean he could sneak in and steal her heart when
she wasn't looking. Or more accurately, he hoped she would
give it of her own accord, but that wouldn't happen except
perhaps during a vulnerable moment. And Mulder was
determined to create as many of those as he could.

Quickly, he reversed their positions. Scully grunted when
she hit the wall a little too hard, but he didn't apologize
and she didn't complain. It was perfect. This whole
scenario was perfect; there wasn't such a thing as being
too rough. It was going to be quick and dirty, the way
they both wanted it.

It was funny how they could read each other like that. He
wondered when it had started. He wondered why it was so
easy to read each other's sexual needs and why they
couldn't do it with the important stuff.

He supposed it was because they were unafraid to show one
and scared shitless to show the other. That was the
difference.

Searching her face, he found it difficult to get past her
expressive eyes, darkened by desire, and her hair, which
was mussed by careless handling and framed her flushed
cheeks.

"Why..." he began, but the thought rolled out of his head
when she cupped and massaged him through his pants.

Scully met his gaze unwaveringly, wetting her lips with her
tongue. It distracted him from her eyes, and he followed
the movement hungrily. He saw them then curve into a small
smile.

Groaning, Mulder slipped his hands under that short skirt
of hers and felt bare skin. Ah, Scully, what foresight.
She had already removed her pantyhose. He glanced down and
saw that she had put her shoes back on. Those black,
clunky, high-heeled shoes. He groaned again. Was there
anything about this woman that =didn't= turn him on? Oh
wait; it'd already been established that there wasn't.

Shoving his hands up her thighs roughly, her skirt
obediently following suit, he kissed the area right above
her still-clothed breasts. He was delighted to feel skin;
Scully had undone two extra buttons. Kissing and nipping
his way up to the base of her neck, he concentrated on that
spot for a few moments. They didn't have all the time in
the world, he realized this, but it was one of the sweetest
spots on her, and for him, this was time worth spending.

Scully threw her arms around his shoulders. He took the
hint, grabbing her ass with his hands and lifting her up.
She hooked both legs onto his hips. "Come on, Mulder," she
ordered breathlessly.

Well, that was enough time spent on that spot, he supposed.
He slid his tongue up the length of her neck, stopping at
her chin, kissing her there lightly. Her legs wrapped
around him, helping her stay in position for the moment,
and he was able to let go of her sweet little bottom to
fumble with his belt.

If he'd had the same foresight Scully possessed, he would
have gotten rid of the thing in the office. Now, instead,
his anxious fingers made it take longer than it should
have. Then the button. And the zipper. Damn all these
contraptions!

Scully made no move to help, simply rolling her head back
and forth against the wall, making impatient noises in her
throat. Her arms had slid bonelessly down to her sides.

Mulder hitched Scully up a little higher and leaned in
closer, so that her weight was partially supported by the
wall and his abdominal muscles. He could feel her burning
through the material of her panties and his thin dress
shirt. He needed to be =there=, right now.

He was also starting to realize that he probably should
have gotten his pants off before getting into this
position, but now that they were there, there was no way in
hell he would change things.

Hooking his fingers into the waistband of his boxers, he
attempted to slide both his pants and his underwear down in
one easy motion. Unfortunately, the elastic of his boxers
wouldn't give, and only his pants made it to the floor.

"Goddammit," he muttered.

Scully cracked her eyes open, staring at him from beneath
her lashes. Mouth parted and swollen from his kisses, he
thought he had never seen her more beautiful, and was going
to die if he didn't get inside her within the next few
seconds.

"What's wrong, Mulder?" She spoke in a voice so
transformed by lust that it was barely recognizable as
hers.

"Nothing, nothing," he said, latching onto a breast with
his mouth. He could feel the hardness of her nipple
through her shirt, and he circled it hard with his tongue,
wanting to distract her.

All right, there was no way he would be able to get his
boxers off and still hold Scully up at the same time, so
the boxers were just going to have to stay on. Impatiently
grabbing the waistband with one hand while the other
grabbed Scully under one of her knees, he began to
hurriedly hitch the boxers back up.

Unfortunately, in his haste he pulled a little too hard,
and almost gave himself a nasty wedgie. Avoiding such an
occurrence by a couple millimeters or so, he was finally
able to reach into his fly and pull out his rock hard
erection. His mouth let go of her nipple.

Finally! He was home free! Oh damn, Scully was still
wearing her underwear. All right, there was no way he
could survive more delay. He was already half-deranged.
Reaching toward the waistband of her panties, he tested the
material quickly. Silk. Easily torn.

One good yank and they were off, fluttering to the floor.
Scully seemed to appreciate his impatience, because she
emitted a sound that was a cross between a growl and a
gasp.

At last. He slid Scully down gently, until he was poised
at her entrance. He knew she could feel him prodding at
her, and she let out a breathy little moan. Her legs
tightened around him, urging him closer. He gripped her
right underneath her thighs, just below her ass. He had a
good grip, which was important, because this was going to
be hard and fast, and he needed to be able to keep them
both upright.

"You ready?" he rasped.

"Yes, Muld – augh!" her response ended on a shriek as he
rammed into her.

Oh God, oh God, she was so tight and hot and wet and she
was like a fist gripping him so firmly that it felt like
heaven. Feels so good, feels so good, feels so good...

"You feel good, too," she gasped out, her words punctuated
by little gasps as he thrust forcefully into her feminine
heat.

Mulder realized he'd been speaking out loud. With every
thrust of his hips, he yanked her body forward to meet it,
so that they crashed against each other again and again,
connecting almost violently.

"Harder."

He was already pounding her. "Are you sure?"

"Harder."

His arms were getting tired, and luckily Scully seemed to
sense this. She wrapped her arms tightly about his neck
and braced some of her weight onto his shoulders. She then
moved herself against him, bringing herself down hard on
his cock. Gasping, his freed hands slapped again the wall,
bracing himself there. He continued to move his lower body
with the ferocity she wanted, her little screams and gasps
filling his ears.

"Faster. Faster...y-y-yes, like th-that," her voice
trembled as he complied. She continued to jerk herself up
and down on him and he moved his hips even faster, faster
than he thought he was capable of, faster than he thought
any human being was capable of.

But Jesus, did it feel good.

Suddenly Scully let out a piercing scream, scoring the back
of his neck with her nails, and began to shake against him.
Her vaginal muscles squeezed him so tight that he let go,
too, shooting into her like a geyser, bellowing into her
ear.

They held onto each other tightly for a few moments,
waiting for their minds to clear and vision to return.

When Mulder finally allowed himself to let up just a little
on his tense muscles, it was a mistake – he slid weakly to
the floor, taking her with him, nearly cracking his
kneecaps on the tiles. Scully apparently was experiencing
the same lack of strength, as she no longer tried to help
him support her weight. Her cheek rested on his shoulder,
and he really wanted to see her face. Did she regret this
breach of conduct, which represented practically everything
they had said they wouldn't do?

Was he about to get his ass kicked?

"Let me clean you up, Mulder."

He guessed not.

Lifting herself off of him, she pressed and slid her face
against his shirt, down and down until she reached his
cock, hanging feebly outside the fly of his boxers.

Mulder closed his eyes as he felt her tongue sliding over
him, cleaning their mutual juices off of him.

Once, he thought he heard her say, "Mmm, we taste so good,"
but he was only half paying attention, so he couldn't be
sure. Having her tongue and lips on him, combined with the
sounds she was making, caused familiar stirrings of
arousal. Before that could be manifested into another
erection, however, it appeared he was finally cleaned to
her satisfaction, and she tucked him back into his
underwear.

She then got up, wetted a paper towel, and scrubbed his
face clean of traces of lipstick. When she was done, she
grabbed his face for another quick kiss. He wanted it to
last longer, and was disappointed when she pulled away.

"I guess...we should go back to the office," he said
regretfully.

"I guess." Scully didn't seem particularly concerned. She
stood in front of the mirror, looking at herself
critically. Finger-combing her hair, she grumbled a little
to herself.

With a little difficulty, Mulder got to his feet then
reached down to pull his pants up. He spotted Scully's
underwear not two inches from his foot. Glancing at
Scully, who was attempting to erase the smudges of lipstick
outside her natural lip lines, he quickly snatched them up
and stuffed them into his trouser pocket.

They were torn, anyway – she couldn't wear them again. She
hadn't noticed yet that he was pilfering her underwear. Or
if she had, she hadn't said anything to him about it.

He liked having them. The first time had been purely
accidental – he'd seen a pair of his boxers lying on the
floor after the first time they'd ever had sex, and
snatched them up. When he realized that they were the
boxers Scully had been wearing, he'd already found the
panties bunched together with the boxers. He'd returned
the latter but kept the former.

Since then, he'd taken them whenever he could, remembering
each sexual encounter by Scully's underwear. He washed
them and kept them in his underwear drawer, placing hers
right next to his. He supposed this was rather obsessive,
freakish behavior, but was that supposed to bother him?
Besides, he liked seeing their respective undergarments
lying side by side in his drawer. As if...as if – this
line of thinking was dangerous. It spoke of permanence,
and right now they were far from that point. They were
getting closer, though, and for that he was grateful.

He stood there awkwardly a moment, studying her, wondering
how she could be so poised, fixing her lipstick as if she
had merely smeared it while eating her morning bagel. He
didn't know why she was really bothering; there wasn't much
left of it.

The back of his neck throbbed vaguely; he placed a hand
over that area and winced at the stinging sensation.
Bringing his hand back to his line of vision, he gaped at
the traces of blood. Damn, Scully was a wild woman. She'd
broken skin. If he said something she might take it as a
complaint, though, and he certainly didn't want that.

"Meet you back in the office," he muttered, turning toward
the door. This felt all wrong. He wanted to talk to her,
to discuss what had happened, but she was just so put
together. He got the feeling that if he tried to start any
serious discussion she would just get annoyed with him.

And he didn't want Scully to be annoyed with him.

Just as he reached the door, he heard footsteps. High
heels, to be exact, and they were coming from the wrong
side of the door. Clack, clack, clack, traveling quickly,
too.

Oh, shit.

"Scully, I think there's someone coming," he hissed.
Looking around frantically, there was really only one thing
he could do. He went into the nearest stall and shut the
door.

~~~~~~~~

FBI Basement Ladies Room
August 16
3:47 p.m.

At the first sign of trouble, it was typical that Mulder
would dive into the nearest bathroom stall and lock himself
in.

However, in the present situation, it was probably a good
call. At least he had the presence of mind to stand on the
toilet seat or whatever he was doing so that she couldn't
see his feet. And thank goodness for it - not two seconds
after his impromptu break for the closest door to hide
behind, the door to the ladies room swung open.

"Agent Scully?"

"Kimberly," Scully exclaimed, trying to mask her dismay.
The secretary's presence meant only one thing: Skinner was
looking for them.

"I'm sorry; I don't mean to intrude, but Assistant Director
Skinner has been looking for you and Agent Mulder. I tried
calling down here several times, but no one answered. And
no one was in the office, so I thought I'd try here..."
She stopped and sniffed the air.

Jesus, she can smell us, Scully thought, not a little
panicked. She let out a fake little laugh that normally
would have made herself shudder.

"Yes, I had to use the restroom. Just finishing up here.
And we uh – that is, I came to see if uh..." She thought
wildly. Her first inclination had been to say that she was
fixing her makeup or her hair, but there was no makeup or
brush in sight. "...see if they had replaced the tampons
in the machine."

Kimberly looked at her in puzzlement. Scully walked over
to the machine that dispensed those feminine products.
"Yep, looks like they did. Never know when you might need
one of these things, you know. Goodness! They charge a
quarter now? That's highway robbery..." She knew she was
babbling but couldn't seem to stop.

"Agent Scully," Kimberly interrupted, apparently having
heard enough, "AD Skinner would like to see you.
Immediately. Where is Agent Mulder?"

"I think he's around somewhere." Scully pursed her lips.

Kimberly looked at her expectantly, clearly expecting
Scully to follow her out.

"I'll find Agent Mulder, and then – " Scully began.

"That won't be necessary. I've left a note in his office
and a message on his machine to go up to the AD's office as
soon as possible. It seemed urgent." This last was
directed pointedly at Scully.

"Oh, all right," Scully grumbled, not trying in the least
to hide her irritation.

If the other woman was surprised by this attitude, she
didn't let on, for which Scully was extremely grateful.
After thinking about it, after thinking about what Kimberly
=could= have walked in on, she was counting her blessings.

She shuddered to think. She and Mulder had been very, very
lucky this time. Not that the inconsiderate bastard had
seemed the least concerned by what they had done. No, it
was wham, bam, thank you ma'am, out the door. Jerk, she
fumed. And now she was following Kimberly back to
Skinner's office, all sticky between her legs and fearing
that things were about to get even stickier.

She would have given almost anything for the chance to duck
into a bathroom and take care of her problem, but Kimberly
was walking so fast that Scully didn't dare. For one
thing, she had already admitted to using the restroom, and
for another, if Kimberly had been sent to look for them, it
meant that Skinner was probably already annoyed it had
taken this long.

Once at their destination, she was quickly ushered into
Skinner's office, where she encountered the scowl of her
boss.

It was then that she felt it. In her hurry, she hadn't
been able to clean herself up, and now she stood with her
legs pressed tightly together. Was it possible she could
actually feel that certain fluids created during sexual
intercourse were about to escape from her body, starting to
trickle down her leg...? She let out a deep breath. Of
course, it was only her imagination. For the time being.

Skinner glared at her. At least, that's what it seemed
like.

"Where's Agent Mulder?"

Scully opened her mouth to respond, but, as it turned out,
she didn't have to. The subject in question answered for
himself.

"I'm right here, sir."

Scully whipped her head around so fast it hurt. Mulder
must have rushed out as soon as she and Kimberly had left.
Damn him, he looked immaculate, while she felt – and was
certain that she looked – completely frazzled.

Skinner gestured for them to sit. Mulder did so fluidly,
while Scully went about it a little more gingerly.

Was it her imagination or did Skinner sniff at them? God,
he couldn't smell her, could he? She was positively
mortified by the possibility.

Clamping her legs together as tightly as she could, she
stared at him as he began to speak. None of his words
registered. She could see his lips moving, could even
vaguely hear the sounds that were coming out of his mouth,
but her concentration was on masking the scent of sex as
much as she could.

She was still wet. What if she left a stain...? Oh, God.
Yet another mortifying possibility to worry about.

Mulder was sitting, utterly at ease, in his chair. His
face was a little flushed, but for the most part, he seemed
totally relaxed.

And why shouldn't he be, Scully fumed. He wasn't the one
still soaking wet, trying to not leave a wet spot on
Skinner's chair. He wasn't the one who likely still reeked
of their quickie. God, what had she been thinking! She
had told herself it was a bad idea, over and over.

She told herself that even as she took off her pantyhose
and stuffed them in the nearest trash receptacle. She told
herself that even as she unbuttoned her blouse. She told
herself that even as she threw Mulder against the wall and
practically assaulted him.

Well, she was paying for her indiscretions now, wasn't she?
She was the one who was desperately clenching her inner
muscles, attempting to hold in not only the remnants of her
sexual arousal, but his as well. It was =his= fucking
semen that was threatening escape, and she would be the one
to live with the consequences if she couldn't hide it.

And just =where= the fuck were her panties? Those would
have helped a little in this situation. Of course, perhaps
not in this case, since she belatedly remembered that
Mulder had torn them off. This recollection made her
thoughts toward him turn even blacker.

Now what the hell was Skinner saying? She sighed a little
in irritation, and fought the urge to slug Mulder.

Skinner noticed that her attention was not entirely focused
on the meeting. "Agent Scully," he barked. "Is everything
all right?"

Scully noticed out of the corner of her eye that Mulder
tugged around his collar a bit, but did not look at her.
Yeah, you better be nervous, buddy.

She felt another trickle of - something - between her legs,
and she clamped them together even tighter. Damn gravity,
anyway. Oh God, Skinner would be able to smell it, she was
sure. She flushed in humiliation. She was going to kill
Mulder for this. Fucking stupid semen! Slow, agonizing
death. Yes. All for Mulder.

Skinner stared at her expectantly. She realized she still
hadn't answered.

"Yes, sir," she said. "Fine." She congratulated herself
on the slightly bored affectation of her voice, conveying
that he had no reason to ask in the first place.

It worked, and Skinner's brow furrowed. "In that case,
there isn't much more to say. Your flight to Arizona
leaves tonight."

Scully opened her mouth to ask what it was exactly that
they were supposed to do in Arizona, but immediately
thought better of it. No doubt that had been covered
during her homicidal ruminations. The important thing now
to consider was escape.

Mulder stood up quickly, as did Skinner. Scully was afraid
to stand. What if the wetness had seeped through her skirt
and onto the chair? It was really too bad that these
chairs weren't made of leather, which would have made such
an event fairly easy to hide. One conscientious swipe of
her bottom...

She tried not to glare at the two men who were looking at
her with expectancy, and a little confusion. Fucking men.
They had their fun and never had to deal with the
consequences.

"Uh...Scully?" Mulder raised an eyebrow. Damn him, that
was =her= look. Death was too good for him.

He was completely oblivious to her problem, staring at her
with that condescending look on his face.

"I'm sorry, I feel a little dizzy," she improvised. "Just
give me a minute." She wondered wildly how she was going
to be able to get up to surreptitiously check and see if
she had stained one of Skinner's chairs - if =Mulder= had
stained one, she amended, since she was positive it was
mostly his fluid that was trying to escape.

God, even his bodily peripherals were a pain in the ass!

And if there =was= a stain, what in the world was she going
to do, aside from die of embarrassment on the spot?

Immediately Skinner looked concerned, while Mulder
continued to sport his best imitation of a bemused
hedgehog. Scully could practically hear his thoughts. He
had just banged her but good in an FBI ladies room, and she
hadn't shown any signs of illness then. Or was he
responsible for this sudden bout of dizziness? Had he just
been too damn good?

Was it her imagination or did his chest actually puff out a
little? It would be up to her to deflate that overactive
ego.

"Is this serious, Agent Scully?"

She understood from the gravity of his tone what Skinner
was asking, and she tried not to flinch at this reminder of
the cancer. "No, no. I think it was something I ate."
Mulder's eyebrows shot up to his hairline. He was
remembering, as she was, that she had licked him dry
afterward. Which was why he was entirely comfortable while
she felt like she was leaking like a faucet. "I guess it
wasn't very good."

She watched Mulder deflate to the point where his shoulders
actually sagged. For a moment she was thrilled with her
payback, but then she felt bad. After all, the sex had
been spectacular. It wasn't his fault they had been so
hurriedly called to Skinner's office, or that she had this
new tendency to lose her underwear after getting laid.

She felt sticky and uncomfortable, a little panicked
because she didn't know what she was going to do if she
=had= left a wet spot on Skinner's chair, and now, to top
it all off, she felt like a bitch for hurting Mulder's
feelings. And then it made her madder that he should be
the one to cause this situation in the first place, yet
=she= was the one who had ended up feeling bad.

Skinner was still looking at her expectantly. After all,
she said she was fine, so why was she still sitting there?

She =had= to get their attention away from her. If Mulder
was a little quicker on the uptake, he would have realized
her predicament, but alas, he was Mulder - only brilliant
when it didn't have to do with her.

"I...uh..." She was really beginning to sweat now. The two
men were staring at her raptly, no doubt wondering what the
hell was =up= with her. And she couldn't come up with any
diversionary tactics.

"Sir," she finally blurted. "Could I ask you to turn
around, please?" The straight-forward approach.
Conventional, a little humiliating, but endurable. She had
thought for a second about shouting, "What's that?!" and
pointing, but dismissed the idea because only Mulder would
have turned to look.

Skinner's brows snapped together in confusion. Mulder
merely gaped at her.

"Agent Scully? What are you talking about?"

"Turn around. Please. Both of you." She glanced down at
her lap in what she hoped was an embarrassed look - let
them think that she had feminine problems. Anything was
better than the truth.

Understanding dawned on Skinner's face, though he was still
slightly puzzled. Scully saw Skinner glance at Mulder, who
was still staring at his partner. Skinner gestured for
Mulder to turn around. Judging from the look of utter
confusion on his face, Mulder still hadn't gotten the
point. Scully merely glared at him before he, too,
followed suit.

Seeing both of their backs, Scully quickly got up and
glanced down at the material of her seat. Nothing. She
craned her neck to look at the back of her skirt. Also
nothing. It had all been in her imagination. All the
moistness and dampness she felt had been contained within
the confines of her skin and skirt, although the first stop
she was making once she got out of this office was to the
nearest restroom.

"Thank you," she said huskily, and started out of the
office, brushing by the two men quickly. She felt flushed,
and could only hope that Skinner would interpret the
redness of her cheeks to be embarrassment rather than
anger, which would invite more speculation. But Mulder
would know better. She would make sure of it. Once she
could bring herself to admit her over-active imagination.

This was the last time this was =ever= going to happen
again. No more sex at the office. It had been risky,
stupid, and utterly unprofessional. If either of them felt
another unprecedented level of horniness again, they would
leave the building, go to an apartment, a motel, a fucking
park bench. But the J. Edgar Hoover FBI Building was off-
limits from now on.

Even if they had been in a normal relationship, work would
and should be a place where they drew the line. The
problem was, they had drawn many lines, but they were
getting blurrier all the time. She could hardly recall why
so many lines had been drawn in the first place.

But of course, she did remember. They had been drawn for
her protection. Oh, they both pretended that it was for
Mulder's protection, too, but she knew that she was the
only one in danger of being seriously hurt. The one who
could let this consume her, let it take her over, ruining
their friendship and their professional relationship in one
fell swoop.

She had to follow the rules and remember why they had been
created. There was one rule still intact, but the rules
themselves weren't what mattered. It was the purpose
=behind= the rules that was important. Sex was to be kept
separate from their friendship and their partnership.

She could not lose those things. And that was all the
reminder she needed to strengthen her own resolve.

~~~~~~~~
Chapter Nine
~~~~~~~~

Office of Dr. Audrey Lake
September 28
10:10 a.m.

Scully hurried into the office, where Audrey was already
seated. She took her normal place across from the other
woman and put her purse on the ground, her breathing
somewhat labored.

"I'm sorry," she said a little breathlessly, adjusting her
position and trying to get comfortable.

"It's quite all right, Dana, relax." Audrey smiled, calmly
taking a sip of coffee from her mug. "Would you like
something to drink?"

"Ah – water would be great," Scully replied, feeling how
parched her throat was.

Audrey buzzed her receptionist, who promptly returned with
a bottle of water for Scully.

"Thank you very much," she said, gulping gratefully. When
her throat didn't feel as much like sandpaper, she
explained, "I was running late this morning and then I
couldn't find parking...finally found a space a few blocks
down."

Audrey looked at her with shrewd eyes. "You look tired."

Scully almost collapsed at the other woman's words. She
had been trying to keep her exhaustion at bay, but at the
confirmation that it was evident, she deflated like a
pricked balloon.

She =was= tired. And confused. And feeling like she was
about to start screaming any minute.

"Something's happened, Dana?" Audrey's voice was matter-
of-fact, and came across sounding more like a statement
than a question.

A hysterical bubble of laughter threatened to escape, but
Scully suppressed it quickly. Something had happened, all
right. "Our relationship is over." It was amazing how
calm she sounded.

Audrey was clearly surprised. "Oh, Dana, I'm sorry," she
murmured. "When did this happen?"

Scully waved a careless hand. "Nothing definite has been
said. It just – is. Because of me." She took a deep
breath for the strength to elaborate further. "I'm in love
with him."

She wasn't saying anything they didn't both already know,
but it felt like a huge revelation, anyway.

What was huge was how that factor affected what had
happened last weekend. She felt that she had whizzed by
the point of no return with barely a second glance. She
had to try and salvage what was left. She only hoped that
she was not too late.

It wasn't until she licked her lips and tasted the
saltiness there that she realized something in her had
caved, and she had started to cry. Bringing her hands up to
wipe the tears away, she murmured, "I'm sorry."

Audrey opened a desk drawer and pulled out a box of
tissues. She handed it to Scully, who apologized again.
"Dana," the older woman said gently but firmly, "it's all
right to express your emotions. This obviously upsets you.
Let yourself cry."

Scully gave a choked, watery laugh. "I let myself cry. I
do it too much." This past week, anyway. In her bedroom,
in the dark, usually alone. She tried not to do it when
Mulder was around, but luckily the few times it had
happened, the tears only came after he was asleep.

Audrey smiled sympathetically as Scully tried to compose
herself. "You haven't done anything yet."

Scully shook her head. "But I will," she whispered. "I
have to."

"Will you be sharing with him what you just shared with
me?"

For a moment Scully thought Audrey meant telling Mulder
that things were over, and her first response was, well of
=course= she was. But then she realized Audrey meant her
earlier "revelation," and Scully gave a short, bitter
laugh. "How can I? It's bad enough I'm going to lose this
part of him. If I were to tell him I'm in love with him,
it'd scare him shitless. I'd lose what's left."

"And what =is= left?" Audrey pressed softly.

"Our friendship. Our partnership. The things that will
last. This isn't an easy decision for me. God. I
=wanted= to believe in the fairy tale." She hung her head,
as if ashamed that this was the case.

"And just what is the fairy tale?"

Scully looked up, her smile bittersweet. "Everyone knows
the fairy tale, Audrey," she whispered. "That, in the end,
I won't have to hide my real feelings. That my love is
reciprocated. God, how naive that sounds. I finally found
something to believe in, and it was the one thing you
couldn't share." This last was murmured to someone else.

"So now you're going to...?"

"I know what I should do," Scully said quietly. "I know
what you – and let's face it, most people - will advise as
the best course of action."

"I'm not going to advise any course of action. I trust
you, Dana, to know what is the best thing to do for
yourself."

That was the problem. There was no "best thing" to do for
herself. Because of her wretched emotions, she had lost.
No matter what she chose, Mulder was lost to her. It was a
bleak, depressing reality.

"I can't lose him." The tears fell in earnest. "I
can't...but I already have."

Mulder's reaction to what she had done the previous weekend
had been everything she could have hoped for and more. But
it was dangerous. He'd been feeling possessive,
territorial. A natural reaction, since they were what they
were to each other. However, she had started to see it as
something more, as evidence of his deeper feelings for her.

Letting herself believe he felt more than he did was so
easy, so tempting. If she allowed herself to be immersed
in that fantasy world, however, getting out would be
impossible.

"You know, Dana..." Audrey hesitated. "Have you considered
that you might be wrong about your partner's emotional
stake in your relationship?"

"That the fairy tale is true, you mean?" Scully sniffed,
blowing her nose. "The possibility briefly occurred to me,
but I'm too realistic to entertain the idea for very long.
I would only be setting myself up for more pain, wouldn't
I?"

She might have already gotten in too deep. That was why
she had to end it before it could go any further.

"Perhaps," Audrey conceded. Gently, she suggested, "But
have you thought about the pain that awaits you by not
making sure? Considered the happiness you might be
throwing away?"

Scully was confused. This was not the line of advice she
had expected Audrey to give. She was expecting something
more rational, not follow-your-heart.

When Scully still did not answer, Audrey continued. "I
know you're afraid of being hurt. We all fear the same
things. We take that chance every time we allow our hearts
to become involved." She took another sip of coffee.
"Dana, let me ask you something. Do you consider yourself
to be an optimist or a pessimist?"

Scully was a bit thrown at the change of subject, but
considered it for a moment, using a tissue to wipe away the
remainder of her tears. "I don't believe I can label
myself either, in all honesty. I'm a realist." She smiled
a little. "I suppose that's one of the greatest sources of
contention between Mulder and me."

"Is Mulder a realist, like you?"

The laugh that resulted was genuine. Mulder, a realist?

"I take that to be a 'no.'" Audrey smiled.

Scully's brow furrowed a bit. "Actually, I believe that
Mulder believes himself to be a realist, as well."

"What category would you put him in?"

"He's an optimist." Scully smiled, seeing Mulder, his
enthusiasm, his energy, his sheer strength of will. "I
think he has enough hope for everybody in the world."

"And what category would he put =you= in?"

Scully's smile vanished as she considered this. "I
suppose," she said slowly, "I suppose he would call me a
pessimist in many ways, but not in general." She paused.
"Does that make any sense?"

Audrey nodded. "You know, pessimists call their views
realism and optimists call it pessimism."

"Just because I would label Mulder an optimist doesn't mean
that he feels things he doesn't."

"That's absolutely true. That's not what I was proposing;
I was merely trying to suggest that perhaps what =you= see
as his motivations may not actually be what they are. That
isn't to say that your assessment may not be dead-on, of
course, but there is another possibility."

Scully shook her head. "But I know Mulder. I know him
inside out."

"Dana," Audrey began in a voice that clearly said it was
not meant to offend but might do so anyway, "don't you see
that it's impossible for you to have an objective viewpoint
about Mulder's motivations? You have too much at stake.
You have too much riding on the answers."

"You think I'm being defensive." Scully's tone was almost
accusatory.

Audrey nodded. When she spoke, her voice was soft. "Yes.
I do. It's perfectly understandable and natural. Many,
many people in your situation – myself included – would
probably react in a similar manner. It doesn't mean the
situation will resolve itself the way you want. The only
way that can happen is if you act. Or if he does."

It was Scully's turn to nod. "But if I tell him how I feel
and he doesn't feel the same – " Worse, if he looked at
her in sympathy, or in pity, she would just dry up and blow
away at the first sign of wind. "I will lose everything.
His friendship, our recent closeness, the job that I love.
It will make it impossible for us to work together. That
can't happen. Our work is too important."

If she had to sacrifice herself for the greater good by
never letting Mulder know how she felt, then that was what
had to happen. She had been doing it for the past six
years – it could not be thrown away now. Not over her
inability to control her hormones.

Or was that just an excuse?

"If I don't say anything at all and just end it, we can at
least continue to work together."

Audrey looked at her steadily. "Can you? You believe you
can end this new relationship that you've started with your
partner and go on as you always have? You mentioned
something earlier about sounding naive. Does this seem
like a sound plan, one that you honestly believe will
work?"

Psychologists weren't supposed to say things like this,
were they? Tears flooded Scully's eyes again as Audrey
echoed her own doubts out loud. "I – " She grabbed
another tissue as the tears ran unbidden down her cheeks.
"It's the only thing I can do."

It was all too much. It had been folly to do what they had
done; it would pain her to lose the physical intimacy that
she now shared with Mulder. But he did not love her; he
was not =in= love with her. If she confessed her feelings,
their years of hard work would be wasted; she would be
separated from Mulder. She shuddered.

She might have been able to live with such a possibility a
year ago, maybe even six months ago, but she didn't have
the strength for it anymore. She had to be near him, to
work with him, to see his beloved face everyday. She
couldn't imagine life without him, and sure as hell didn't
want to live it.

She didn't know if she could go back to being his partner
at work only; when their new tie was severed, it would be
the most painful event of her life.

No more weekends spent like the last one, no more satiating
their hunger for each other, no more sweet, slow sex in the
mornings, no more rough, fast fucks in restrooms, no more
cleansing, life-affirming, passionate lovemaking in the
dead of the night.

No more whispered sweet nothings. No more relaxing baths
together. No more kisses that made her toes curl and her
heart jump to her throat. No more holding each other
close. No more watching Mulder sleep. Losing these things
would be gut-wrenchingly difficult. And it would be by
choice. The hardest thing she'd ever done.

But the alternative – losing him for good – was not
acceptable. She simply did not possess the strength it
would take to survive such an event. What she'd had only a
few short months ago used to be enough. And enough it
would be once more. The pain of one option simply held no
comparison to the other. And since it was the only choice
left to her, she had to make it work. She had to at least
try.

Scully explained this to Audrey, who nodded
sympathetically. "I don't mean to be harsh, Dana. I only
want to suggest alternatives, because I know you can't be
completely objective about this subject. I want to be sure
that you have considered every angle before you reach a
final decision."

"I understand," Scully replied hoarsely, throat thick with
tears. She had already made her final decision: not to
lose Mulder.

Now she just needed the strength to inform him of her
decision. No doubt he'd be disappointed, since there was
no problem that =he= could see.

"Do you believe that your partner will marry someday?"

It was as though Audrey had slapped her. Scully sat there,
momentarily stunned. The images that Audrey's words
conjured ate at her soul like acid. Would Mulder marry
someone someday? A someone that was not her? A someone
who would share his life, his body, his heart?

"I can see this idea does not appeal to you," Audrey noted
dryly. "Have you considered that if you stay on as his
partner at work, the day may come when you will have to
confront his life partner of choice?"

His life partner of choice. Mulder and another woman. Oh,
God. Mulder and his wife. Oh, Jesus. Scully felt as
though her chest had been ripped wide open, her heart
removed and cut into a thousand pieces right before her
eyes.

"I hope – " The words came out as a croak. Scully cleared
her throat. "I hope that when and if that time comes, it
will no longer affect me the way that it does now. I hope
I will be happy for him," she added, almost defensively.

"Of course. And I hope the same. But our hope does not
guarantee that event, does it?"

Scully felt the other woman's look and shook her head. Of
course it didn't. Of course not. Suddenly she wanted to
scream. She wanted more than anything to be out of this
office. Though she understood on an intellectual level
that it was completely irrational, she wanted to get away
from Audrey, who had forced her to think of things she
would not have let herself imagine even in her worst
nightmares.

She could almost see it now. Mulder lovingly holding his
wife, an unknown entity - Scully felt an almost consuming
hatred toward the faceless woman – telling her that he
loved her, that she completed him, that she was his life.
And Scully, standing off to the side, her heart in her
hands, her eyes huge and wounded as the man she loved
professed his undying devotion to another woman.

She felt almost disgust at this unflattering, degrading
image. Her pride was rebelling at the thought. Pride was
good. Pride would save her. She would never let herself
go that far.

The moment another woman came into the picture, Scully
promised herself fiercely, she would be gone. She would
leave. By that time, Mulder would no longer need or want
her presence, and hopefully, =hopefully=, the sight of
Mulder with someone else would be the final breaking point
for her. The time when she had to face once and for all
that he did not love her.

She recalled with sudden clarity that almost a month ago,
she had decided on a course of action to slowly get them
back into the groove of their pre-sex relationship; they
had just broken the rule about sleeping together while on a
case. She had determined then to gradually extricate her
need for Mulder in a way that would make it bearable for
her and acceptable to him.

Obviously, she had failed. Instead of getting less
intense, they had only gotten more so, and now she was in
danger of being consumed.

Yet even now she hoped that perhaps she was wrong about how
he felt about her. She felt herself tremble as a wave of
longing washed over her. She had never wanted so much in
her life to be proved wrong.

Mulder...please. Please prove me wrong one more time.

~~~~~~~~
Chapter Ten
~~~~~~~~

Yavapai County Sheriff's Office
Seligman, Arizona
August 24, 1999
8:04 a.m.

Scully followed Mulder into the sheriff's office, which was
cluttered with paperwork, charts, and assorted
paraphernalia that indicated recent usage by a number of
individuals. At the moment, the only people present, aside
from she and Mulder, were the sheriff, a few deputies
milling about, and a couple of officers from the state
Criminal Investigation Bureau who looked as if they had
been up all night.

"Morning, Dana. Agent Mulder," Sheriff Robert Barnes
greeted cheerfully when he caught sight of them. Barnes
had just celebrated his sixty-fifth birthday; he was
slightly thick in the waist and had more lines in his face
than one would expect a man of his age to possess, but he
was tall and carried himself well. He still had a full
head of hair, which was more than a lot of men his age
could claim, even if it was snowy white.

"Morning," she murmured in reply, glancing over at Mulder
and his stony face. He had been in a rotten mood for days;
she knew it was frustrating the hell out of him that they
weren't further along in this case.

Despite this, he murmured a greeting as well, looking
around distractedly. Scully said she was going to get a
cup of coffee and asked if he wanted one; he answered "no"
rather absently, still seeming preoccupied. Without a word
he left her side and went over to study some of the charts
on the walls.

"He always like this?" There was no mistaking of whom the
older man was speaking.

Grounds for it or no, she was immediately defensive.
"Mulder gets very focused. It's why he's so good at what
he does."

The older man acquiesced to her claim, indicating that he
had meant nothing negative by his comment. She knew what
he was thinking, though. This was the eighth morning that
had dawned since their initial arrival, and the case seemed
no closer to being solved.

She sighed; she felt responsible for Mulder's mental health
– the whole reason they were here was her doing; Sheriff
Barnes was an old friend of her father's. It was he who
had contacted her and asked for assistance. A string of
murders had left the local law enforcement stumped, he had
explained. Since she was with the FBI did she know anyone
who could help, perhaps do some profiling?

Mulder had, of course, been agreeable to doing the favor.
While she did not particularly enjoy watching Mulder sink
into the mind of a societal degenerate, there was no
doubting his skill and aptitude for it.

Then, there was the fact that Robert Barnes had been like a
father to her in her early years, and of course, there was
the fact that a serial killer was at large. Innocent
people were dying, and if Mulder could stop that – well,
she would not allow her at-times-overprotective desire for
his well-being stand in the way. Skinner had approved the
assistance, the local field office had been more than happy
to conserve manpower, and off to Arizona they had gone.

After all, it wasn't an X-File. He would prepare a quick
profile, they would catch the killer, and then they'd be
out of there. Justice would be served, she would have done
her duty as her father's daughter, and no one would be the
worse for wear.

Yet it had been a week and the profile still wasn't ready.
She knew it wasn't from lack of trying, but it was odd.
From the start, Mulder hadn't seemed to focus the same way
he used to. The concentration was there, as always, but
the intensity he was capable of when immersing himself in
cases such as these was simply not there.

That didn't mean he'd faltered, however. The profile was
almost complete. "There's just something missing," he'd
mutter. Some piece of the puzzle that hadn't yet fallen
into place in that brilliant mind of his.

"There was a gray notebook sitting on this desk last night
when I left. Where is it?" Scully looked over at Mulder
when he spoke.

He looked tired, she realized, feeling the urge to go over
and take him in her arms. She felt guilty again for having
gotten them here. She would make him sleep tonight, stand
over him and make sure it happened, if she had to.

When no one answered, he asked again, this time louder.

"Uh – " Deputy Mikladen spoke up. "I think one of the CIBs
spilled coffee on it last night." There was a definite
note of worry in Mikladen's voice. "It's sitting right
there." He pointed to another desk where the coffee-soaked
notebook was located.

Scully blanched. That notebook held a lot of Mulder's
notes, his thought-processes, details and connections; days
of work. He'd forgotten it when they'd left at two in the
morning last night for their motel. When he realized that
he didn't have it in his possession they figured it was
safe enough to leave it in the office.

There was a pregnant silence. With a deceptively casual
stride, Mulder had reached the desk and picked up the
notebook. The pages crunched as he flipped through it,
some of them stuck together. He tried to separate a couple
of pages, and the paper tore in his hands.

Scully closed her eyes. She knew it was only a secondary
source of information to what Mulder kept in his head, but
he was already frustrated enough. She began to walk toward
him, desiring to prevent what she could already see coming
– an explosion of epic proportions.

"Mulder..." she began soothingly.

"Don't say it's okay, Scully," he said, his voice a little
too calm. It made her nervous.

"It was an accident – " the Sheriff began. "No real harm
done..."

Mulder shot him a withering glance. "I can't =read= my
fucking notes!"

Scully reached his side. "Mulder, we'll piece together
what we've got – "

"What we have is nothing! I don't believe this." He was
clearly disgusted.

She stayed silent. She knew as well as he that the
information in the notebook could never be as important as
the information in his head; she understood why he was
upset, but there wasn't anything they could do about it
now.

"Not like it was doing much good, anyway," Mikladen mumbled
under his breath.

Mulder and Scully both turned sharply to look at the
deputy.

"What?" Mulder demanded. "If you have something to say,
just come out and say it to my face."

"I said it wasn't doing much, anyway," the other man
answered loudly. "You're supposed to be the hotshot FBI
profiler, and the killer's still on the loose! You haven't
done a damn thing!"

Mulder stared at the man for a moment, then turned on his
heel and stalked off.

Shit, shit, shit. He would blame himself; he always did,
anyway. But now with Mikladen verbally placing blame,
Mulder would wallow in self-reproach.

"It's not Mulder's sole responsibility to catch this guy,
Deputy," she told him coldly. "Might I remind you that it
was =your= team who couldn't get the job done and requested
help. You've had a month to do your duty; we've only been
here a week."

She strode quickly out of the office and into the warm
Arizona morning, only to see the back of their rented
Taurus as it sped off.

~~~~~~~~

Historic Route 66 Motel, Room 5
August 24, 1999
10:22 p.m.

All Scully wanted was a shower. It had been a long,
exhausting day, to top off a long, exhausting week, and the
very notion of getting out of her suit provoked thoughts of
heaven.

She wearily dug through her purse for the key to her room,
getting frustrated when it remained lost in the depths of
her small purse.

Every joint ached. She was covered in dried sweat, several
times over, and functioning on three hours of sleep. A
long hot shower was all she needed, and then she'd collapse
onto the bed and sleep for at least a thousand years.

And she would not let Mulder deter her from her intended
goals. If he wanted to go out and sulk all day, that was
his business. She was only slightly teed at him for
ditching her in the company of people she had just told
off, but she knew he needed the time to cool down.

She'd even eaten lunch an hour late because she had waited
for him, but he had never returned to the Sheriff's office.
She'd spent the rest of the day trekking through the dry
Arizona heat interviewing victims' families again – and
they weren't happy about it. Now all she wanted to do was
get out of her disgusting clothes and stand under a
scalding rush of water.

Nothing of import had come from the interviews; nothing
said that hadn't already been said. Not that her mind had
been completely focused on the task at hand – her thoughts
kept drifting to her wayward partner.

She should probably check on Mulder before she crashed,
but...she would rather sleep. Besides, he was bound to be
in a sulky mood, and she found a sulky Mulder rather sexy.
She didn't know what that said about her, but she hadn't
had sex in a week and the most important thing was avoiding
physical contact with him as much as possible.

Avoid anything that turned her on...which at this point
pretty much ruled out everything about him.

Having at last located her key, she unlocked the door and
swung the door open with a loud bang. Finally inside her
room, she kicked the door closed behind her and stepped out
of her shoes. Depositing her purse, her notepad, and the
files onto the desk, she allowed her tired eyes to drift
shut for a moment. She had left the air-conditioning on,
and the cold crisp air of the room only accentuated how
dirty and smelly she felt.

She removed her suit jacket gingerly. Ugh, that feeling
was the worst. Well, it was almost as bad as sitting in a
car upholstered with leather on a hot sticky day, then
getting up from said seat, clothes soaked with
perspiration.

What she needed was a massage. A long hot shower followed
by a relaxing massage. Not by Mulder, though, she told
herself. Any masseuse would do. Yeah, keep dreaming.

Her bra followed. Then her skirt and hose. Clad in only
her white cotton bikini underwear, she went into the
bathroom and started the shower. She wanted it good and
hot before she stepped in.

Her eyelids were drooping. She badly wanted to get under
the covers and close her eyes. But she wanted even more
desperately to be clean, and to slide into those sheets
warm and scrubbed from her shower. Okay, so it was going
to be a short shower.

Stepping back into the bedroom, groggy and eyes half-
closed, she didn't know what hit her until it was too late.

She landed on the bed with a stifled shriek, her hair
flying about her head and finally feathering onto her face
in a rather undignified fashion. She found herself pinned
under a very heavy, very naked Mulder.

"Mulder?" She was more puzzled than anything. After the
initial surprise, she was more concerned for him than
herself. This =was= kind of bizarre of him, wasn't it?
Her brain might not be functioning on all gears but she
knew a strange situation when it hit her. She brushed her
hair back from her face, brow furrowing. "What are you - "

He stopped her question by quickly planting his mouth onto
hers. It was wet and full of passion - the kiss of a man
who had been waiting a long, long time.

He was pressing her so hard into the mattress, his mouth so
vehement on hers that she found it difficult to breathe.
She whimpered in distress.

Immediately his mouth gentled and he slid his tongue into
her mouth. Her eyes closed completely. He tasted
heavenly. Would she ever get used to kissing Mulder? She
really, really hoped not.

Lightly, his tongue rubbed against hers. He teased the
roof of her mouth, caressed the back of her teeth. She
swept her tongue into his mouth, and immediately he
deepened the kiss, devouring her. For a time, there was
nothing but the wet sounds of the two of them kissing.

Of their own volition, her hands wandered up into his hair.
Dimly, she realized that the strands were wet. He also
smelled really good, the combination of soap, shampoo, and
aftershave. He smelled clean.

Eventually, the sound of the water she had started in the
shower penetrated through her lust-fogged brain. This,
combined with his clean scent, reminded her of her own
grimy state. She tried to push him off of her, embarrassed
that she should be so disgustingly sweaty when he was
freshly showered.

He wouldn't budge.

She broke their kiss and turned her face away. He began to
kiss her cheek, making his way toward her mouth again.

She shoved against his chest. The feel of his smooth warm
skin under her hands made her want to run her hands all
over him. But even her hands felt dirty, and she didn't
want to soil her clean Mulder with them. "Mulder...uhgn
...mmm...get off me."

"Don't want to," he answered succinctly into her ear, then
began to nibble on it.

She couldn't quite stifle her moan. Her ears were very
sensitive places, damn it. And now she was made very aware
of his erection pressing into her hip. It was enough to
send a hot new tide of arousal rushing to her center.

He began to trail kisses down her neck, and she sighed in
bliss. Her collarbone received a nip. Then he was at her
breast, his tongue circling her aureole first before he
sucked her nipple into his mouth.

She groaned as it happened, at how good it felt. A hand
found its way into his hair again, and clenched hard. He
didn't complain, simply began to suckle and lave in
earnest.

He possessed a talented mouth. He really did. He could
spout the dullest facts in the most monotone of voices but
in the end, what his mouth was capable of was amazing.

But now she was even more uncomfortable. Grimy with dried
sweat and wet with arousal. If Mulder kept this up, she
wouldn't care. But after it was over, he'd realize what he
had done and would wish he had waited. At the moment,
however, she understood that his cock was his operating
brain, and couldn't see how much more sense it would be for
her to shower first.

She tried to pull his head away by yanking on his hair, but
he was attached like a leech – or a particularly hungry
infant. "Mulder...I want to take a shower."

He pulled his mouth away from her breast, and a popping
sound signaled the disengagement. Their eyes met, and
Scully shivered. God, those eyes...she felt a swelling of
emotion and tamped it down fast. She looked away.

"Why?" He sounded truly puzzled.

"Why? Because I'm sweaty...and dirty...and ohhhh - " She
moaned as he ran light fingers over the crotch of her damp
panties.

He licked the area between her breasts. "You taste
mmm...delicious." His mouth moved to her other breast.
"No shower yet."

He couldn't be serious. If she tried to get up right this
second, he would pout a little, but he'd let her go. She
decided that this was a very educated guess, and moved to
rise.

To her surprise, and if she admitted it, arousal, he pushed
her back down and held her pinned to the bed by his weight.

His eyes were a bit unfocused, the light in them a little
wild. She was excited in spite of herself. Here was a
Mulder she didn't know very well. A Mulder who wouldn't
take no for an answer, who took what he wanted.

"Mulder?" Was that her voice, so breathless, so tremulous?
A strand of hair was caught somewhere, and she tried to
adjust herself to fix it.

He interpreted it as movement to escape again, and made a
low sound deep in his throat. He hooked his fingers into
the waistband of her panties and dragged them off her legs.

The barely masked urgency of the movement made her gasp.
She shivered, but not in fear.

Suddenly, something occurred to her. "We shouldn't be
doing this," she gasped. "We're still on duty..."

"Fuck that," he growled. His fingers worked her, and she
closed her eyes to enjoy it.

"I need this," he revealed, voice gravelly and taut with
barely suppressed need. He leaned down to speak directly
into her ear again. "And so do you." He then slid one
long finger into her until he was buried to the knuckle.

She involuntarily threw one arm around his neck to clutch
him close, as if the lack of such an anchor would cause him
to withdraw completely. She whimpered her displeasure when
he began to slide his finger out, then groaned when it
returned with reinforcements.

His thumb rubbed in circles over her clit, fast but not too
hard, just the way she liked it.

She knew she ought to be protesting to his actions – and
hers, but at the moment she couldn't remember why.

"You want me to fuck you, don't you, Scully?" he rasped,
his need and desperation almost masked by the sheer naked
lust that was also in evidence.

She half opened her eyes to see his, so dark and
beautifully haunted, staring at her intently. His narrowed
as they took in her swollen pink lips, parted so she could
take in the little breaths that apparently, was the only
thing she was capable of at the moment.

"Oh, yeah," he breathed, satisfaction lighting his eyes.
"You want it bad." Their eyes still connected, she watched
as his head dropped back down to her chest. They looked at
each other as his hand continued to work her. In and out.
In and out.

He sounded like an arrogant asshole but Scully knew better.
There was a lot of need there, and she basked in it. She
enjoyed seeing him out of control. She liked joining him
in that state. And despite the need, despite his caveman-
like boasting, his touch was gentle; it held care and the
desire to please.

When she still had not said anything, his brow began to
crease in uncertainty. His movements inside her began to
desist, and when he opened his mouth she could see that it
was to apologize.

However, all thoughts of a shower had flown out of her
head; the only thing she was aware of was Mulder and the
way he was making her feel. The way only he could make her
feel, and she lifted her hand to cover his mouth. She
thrust her hips forward, telling him without words that she
wanted him to continue.

She lifted her hand, letting her fingers linger on his lips
as they trailed away. He still watched her, and she knew
that he would stop at any sign of resistance from her at
this point.

"Keep going, Mulder," she whispered. "I want you..."

A sound escaped his throat that was half growl, half
whimper. "I gotta have you now, Scully," he said, his
voice unsteady. That wild look in his eyes was back.

She nodded, and he pulled his fingers out of her. Rising
to his knees, he adjusted her so that she lay in the
position he wanted her to be in, flat on her back with her
knees up.

He braced one arm by her head and lowered himself closer to
her. With his other hand, she saw him grasp his cock. Her
vaginal muscles gave an involuntary twitch. God, she loved
seeing him do that.

After that, all she could do was feel. He rubbed the tip
of his penis against her, running it through her slick
folds. Once or twice there was pressure against her
entrance and she prepared herself for his invasion, but it
never came. Instead, he kept wetting the head of his cock
with her juices, then used his hand to run the moisture
over the rest of him.

She resisted the urge to point out that he was going about
it all wrong - if he wanted his cock slick with her wetness
all he had to do was slide on in. Still, it was an
incredibly erotic sight and kept her in a heightened state
of arousal.

"Scully."

It was a few moments before she realized that he wanted a
response. She cracked open eyes she didn't realize had
closed, to see him looking closely at her face.

"What, Mulder?" Did her voice sound as reedy to him as it
did to her? She would go mad if he didn't use his dick the
way that God intended, soon.

"I want you to watch," he said in a low voice. "Think you
can do that?"

Her brow furrowed. "Watch? What do you mean?"

"While I fuck you," he clarified. "I want you watching the
whole time."

Any blood that had remained in her brain now rushed to
color her cheeks. "I...I don't...know," she stammered.
The idea excited her unbearably, but at the same time, she
had never done such a thing before. "What are you going to
do?" she wanted to know.

"I'm going to watch you," he said simply.

"You mean..." She faltered. He wanted her to watch him
fuck her while he saw her response to what he was doing.
She swallowed, and her breathing became even shallower. It
was almost =too= arousing and strangely, personal.

She wouldn't be able to control herself in that state; who
knew what she might reveal in her facial expressions? But
you want him to know, she told herself in sudden
realization. You want him to see how you feel about him,
because he should know. Because maybe, just maybe, he'll
then feel free to reveal something, too...

Without requiring an answer, Mulder leaned forward, resting
his groin against hers and causing them both to groan, then
brought his arms back and his hands grasped her under her
knees. Pushing them forward, he adjusted things so that
her knees were practically in her face, her ass lifted so
that her entrance was open, more readily accessible, and
vulnerable.

He then swung her legs over his shoulders, leaning forward,
spreading her legs wide.

Scully couldn't tear her gaze away from his. It was
incredibly intimate to look into his eyes as he prepared
her for him; his eyes were dark, fathomless pools of
intensity.

Finally, he appeared to have their positions settled the
way he wanted, his hands on either side of her head. She
couldn't move; she was trapped, but instead of alarming
her, she felt curiously content – safe and secure.

The only person she was vulnerable to was Mulder, and there
was no other person she would rather be that with.

"Can you see?"

She had almost forgotten. She glanced down, where
currently his cock was trapped between his stomach and her
bed of curls. She nodded.

"I want you watching the whole time." She looked at him
again. He smiled, a slightly feral movement of his lips, a
flash of teeth that made her think of a wolf. "I'll be
watching you," he reminded her. "So don't try to cheat."

She nodded again, and could only wonder where her voice had
disappeared. She was determined to play this as coolly as
he was, so she directed her gaze down once again.

"Well? What are you waiting for?" All right, so her voice
was a little unsteady, but at least she had found it again.
And she had managed to apply an imperious tone to it.

She saw him adjust his hips until the tip of his cock was
poised at her entrance. Even though she was watching the
whole thing while it happened and knew when to expect it,
it was still a shock to see his huge erection thrust into
her and to feel it simultaneously.

She gasped steadily as he filled her, disappearing into her
body until she could feel his balls brushing against her
ass.

"You're beautiful, Scully," he said.

Immediately she was self-conscious and wanted to see his
face, but she wasn't about to give in to that weakness. In
any case, Mulder chose at that moment to withdraw and
thrust again, and she groaned at the sight. She couldn't
decide what was more arousing, the sight or the feel of him
moving in her.

He kept up a steady rhythm, sliding in and out with
restraint. In this position she was unable to limit the
speed or depth of his penetration, which excited her even
more. Acquiescing control had never afforded more
gratification.

She noted a little absently that he was certainly wet with
her juices now. She was infatuated with his cock, and it
pleased her to see it happily finding pleasure in her.
With her. The pleasure was building with each thrust.

"Christ, Scully," he groaned. "I love the way you look.
It's...it's indescribable." He thrust faster. "You like
what you're seeing down there?"

"Ah...ah...ah," was the only response she could make.

"I love making love to you," he gasped. "I love watching
you."

Eventually the restraint gave away to the overpowering need
for release, and his assault became marked with purpose,
driving them both toward a much-desired end.

She gulped, breathing growing faster and faster in time
with his thrusts. In and out, his cock moved with amazing
speed. So caught up with she with the sight and the
sensations it was provoking that she was startled when her
vision was blocked by Mulder's sweaty face, flushed with
his exertions.

Leaning closer, forcing her knees to practically touch her
shoulders, he kissed her, swallowing her gasps, sucking her
lower lip into his mouth, biting it. She kissed him
ferociously in return, their mouths colliding, teeth
grinding against one another's.

He shoved into her so hard that it actually hurt a little,
forcing her to break the contact of their lips and cry out.

"I'm sorry, I'm sorry," he said in horror, stopping.

"Mulder, it's okay," she hastened to say. She kicked her
feet slightly, heels falling lightly upon his back. She
took his face in her hands, reassuring him with her eyes.

He was obviously appalled, his hazel eyes so concerned that
she felt a warm flood of pleasure begin at her heart and
spread throughout her body. "It's okay," she said again.
"I liked it. I was just...surprised." She lifted her
hips, thrusting against him. His eyes closed, a grimace of
pleasure crossing his face.

"Are...you...sure?" he ground out.

"Yes." She licked her lips. "Fuck me, Mulder. Fuck me
the way I know you want to – " She gasped as he began to
move once more. It didn't take more than a few thrusts
before her climax hit, causing her to tighten her inner
muscles as waves of ecstasy attacked her senses.

She felt Mulder swell to an even greater size and hardness
before he too exploded, and she felt the warmth of his seed
bathe her insides.

Eventually, she slid her legs off of his shoulders, no
small feat considering he was currently resting his weight
against them. When she removed this support, he collapsed
fully onto her, the back of his head pressed to the side of
her neck.

Her eyes began to refocus. The room and the situation
gradually filtered back in to her, and along with them, the
concerns and doubts.

"We shouldn't have done this," she said quietly, even as
she basked in the sheer pleasure from the feeling of being
crushed by Mulder's weight.

He didn't answer.

Damn it, he was probably already asleep. She sighed. Part
of her was relieved. She wasn't sure she really wanted to
have this confrontation...

He spoke. "Why not?" His voice was drowsy, and muffled by
a pillow, but he was awake, at least.

For some reason, his nonchalance upset her. "Why not?" she
repeated. "Mulder, this – " She gestured with an arm to
generalize the whole situation, but of course, he couldn't
see it. She blew out a breath, considering for a moment.
"This seriously compromises things."

He chuckled a little. "Do you feel compromised, Scully?"
he asked in a throaty voice, rubbing against her.

If she had been able see anything more than the back of his
head in her peripheral vision, she would have glared at
him. Instead, she had to settle for staring balefully at
the ceiling.

"I'm serious, Mulder. This was a mistake." Contrarily,
she felt the urge to wrap her arms around him and keep him
pressed close to her as she uttered those words, but she
resisted.

Sensing her mood, he lifted himself up a little, looking
down at her a little anxiously.

Other than the concern, he looked wonderfully relaxed and
content, Scully noted absently. A far cry from the
ravenous being he had been only minutes ago.

He leaned down and kissed her softly, and her eyes
automatically drifted shut. His gentleness caused an
unwanted lump of emotion to form in her throat.

She soon realized that she was only getting that one kiss
and opened her eyes. She reluctantly met his gaze, since
there was nowhere else for her to direct her attention. He
was staring at her so intently that she found it impossible
to look away.

"Nothing that happens between us is a mistake," he said,
his voice husky with emotion. A hand glided across her
forehead, brushing back the hair there with gentle fingers.
"Don't you know that?"

A secret part of her thrilled at his words, but she
suppressed it quickly – she would not allow herself to
entertain false hope. It was very well and good for him to
get caught up in the moment, but she couldn't afford to do
the same. They were on dangerous ground here. "Mulder – "
she began tremulously, hating herself for ruining the mood,
but unable to stomach the pretense that everything was okay
when she felt more confused and conflicted than ever.

She resented him for making her love him so, for saying all
the right things at the right moments. How was she to keep
from loving him when he did that? How dare he say them to
her when he didn't mean them in any way beyond the sexual,
proving to them both how successful he was at separating
his emotions from their physical relationship?

She was at last able to turn her head, breaking their eye
contact, when she felt tears spring to her eyes. She
couldn't bear to look into his familiar hazel orbs, so
loved, and see nothing reflected back at her.

"Don't cry, Scully, please don't cry," he entreated, his
voice sounding curiously thick to her ears, trying to get
her to look at him again.

She couldn't face him; instead, she pushed at him firmly.
"I have to get cleaned up, Mulder," she said.

His hand was gentle against her face, his thumb lightly
exerting pressure against her jaw. She stubbornly refused
to turn her head; she knew that if she saw his beloved
face, his eyes filled with sympathy or even worse, pity,
she would certainly burst into tears and horrify them both.

Finally, he let her up, for which she was both
excruciatingly disappointed and immensely relieved.

She escaped quickly to the bathroom where the shower was
still running and shut the door behind her.

Not yet, she told herself, swallowing sporadically, keeping
the tears in check. Not yet.

She realized she was shaking, actually shaking. She was
glad that the heat from the shower had caused steam to
blanket over the mirror – the sight of herself in her sorry
state would undoubtedly only make her feel worse.

Grabbing a small washcloth, she stepped into the shower and
hung it haphazardly on the bar situated just inside the
door. She was overwhelmingly grateful that the water was
still hot, since their recent bout of lovemak – fucking,
she amended, had been desperate and frenzied, taking only a
fraction of the time that some of their sessions lasted.
It was such a simple, trivial thing, but at the moment it
felt like a blessing.

Nothing like a quick fuck to ease your tension, she told
herself deprecatingly.

Standing there, water pelting her face, she let her
emotions go. The hot liquids of the shower and her tears
combined so she could pretend that the moisture running
down her cheeks was only water. Not physical evidence of
the pain in her heart.

Reaching for the bottle of shampoo, she squirted some of
the substance into her palm and began to wash her hair.

You are such a hypocrite, she castigated herself, lathering
her hair viciously. They had broken rules before – twice
at her own prompting. Why was this one suddenly so hard on
her?

But it wasn't about the rules. It was never about the
rules; she had simply arrived at a point in their
relationship where she could no longer fake indifference,
or pretend to herself that that was what she really wanted.

What she really wanted was the man in the next room by her
side for the rest of her natural life. You would have had
that, she thought bitterly, if you hadn't let your lust for
him lead you to this point! Now that would never be, and
her heart ached with the knowledge.

She understood quite well that technically, it was Mulder
who had started it all. But he had known his limits; it
was she who had been unable to admit hers.

Mulder had sexual needs, she knew that. As the female he
was around most often, it was natural that he should
develop an attraction to her. It was natural that he would
want to do something about it. That didn't mean that he
wanted a normal =relationship= with her – or any woman for
that matter. She knew what his goals and his priorities
were. She had always known.

Had she fallen prey to the common feminine delusion that
she could change a man? She felt nauseated by the thought.
Had she, in the back of her mind, believed that once Mulder
entered into a physical relationship with her, he would
suddenly reciprocate her feelings for him?

She couldn't know for sure what had been going through her
subconscious in the moment of her acceptance. Consciously,
however, she had realized it was her opportunity to know
what it was to be loved by Mulder, even in just a physical
sense - know what it was like for him to look at her, touch
her, as a lover would. And she had wanted that, wanted it
to the exclusion of all common sense.

She probably =had= thought that it would change things, she
admitted to herself in resignation. At least she had
ceased the self-pity. Her emotions were no longer welling
up like a bubbling cauldron; instead, she felt a soothing
kind of numbness steal over her as she confronted some home
truths. Truths she should have made herself face long ago.

She had excused her actions with the same reasoning she had
allocated to Mulder: working with him day in and day out,
caring for him as she did, sharing a bond with him that
necessarily excluded others, it was only natural that if
she should develop an attraction to someone, it would be
Mulder. There was proximity and opportunity, combined with
mutual respect and concern. It was perfectly
understandable – she couldn't fault herself for that.

Their reasoning at the outset had been sound in many ways –
they were both human beings with sexual needs, yet they
trusted no one but each other. The logical and =safest=
thing to do was to alleviate those needs together. Or it
would have been, had their presumptions been correct.
Primarily, that the other didn't want or need more than the
physical gratification.

While that was true on his part, she had been lying both to
herself and to him when she had agreed to the terms,
stating in not so many words that it was also true for her.

Now it was too late, too late to go back to that day six
weeks ago when he had first suggested the possibility of
sexual involvement. Her self-preservation instincts had
failed her then, and now she was on the verge of having her
heart irreparably broken.

Having gambled in a game she could not win, the only thing
she could do was enjoy what little she had left before
that, too, was stripped from her.

Admitting her feelings was an impossibility; one that could
not even be contemplated. She would never, ever force
Mulder's hand in that way. The very idea that he might
feel obligated to coexist in a romantic relationship with
her out of some misplaced sense of guilt or pity was
abhorrent, sickening. She couldn't do that to him, or to
herself.

If she revealed her feelings, he would react with one of
two extremes: feel sorry for her and continue the charade
until who knew when (she never underestimated Mulder's
capacity for obligation), or he would end it immediately.
She knew that this latter scenario would probably be best
for their relationship in the long run. Yet there was
still part of her that hoped for things to end happily.

In the interim, she would have the opportunity to repair
their friendship, ease them back into how they were before,
saving that relationship. If he was suddenly torn from her
now, she would not be able to handle it; she knew she would
do something drastic and unlike her. She needed time to
prepare herself for the end.

The possibility of the relationship ending naturally =and=
well was slim. Indefinitely continuing their sexual
liaisons required quantities of strength she did not have.
She just needed a little time to extricate as much of
Mulder from her heart as possible. She could not go on
much longer as they were. She had to distance herself
before it was too late. She could still see the boundaries
of normalcy; she was sure she could reach them again.

And then there was Mulder. He had other priorities, other
goals to achieve. Those things took time and all of his
concentration. One day those goals would be reached, and
then perhaps he would want to settle down, start a family.
The last thing he would need or want was a partner who
could not let go.

Rinse, rinse, rinse. Repeat.

He loved her, as a friend and a confidante. She knew that.
She felt the same kind of love for him. It was not =that=
love that was incompatible with what they each took from
their physical intimacy. It was the kind that wanted him
not only as a friend, but also as a lover and lifelong
companion, that was unacceptable. She wanted to grow old
with him.

Right now, that was the last thing he could offer her. He
had never pretended otherwise. The very ease in which he
conducted his part in this relationship – or whatever the
hell they wanted to call it – was proof irrefutable. These
were not the actions of a man in love.

He had never attempted to claim otherwise: he liked her, he
respected her, he trusted her, and right now, he was fine
with the two of them satisfying their mutual lust for one
another. He believed that her emotions and desires
mirrored his own.

Her deceit in that regard would soon be mended. She would
eliminate the feelings that were causing her to lie to him
by omission.

To successfully achieve this end, it was necessary that she
continue as she had before. In the process of hiding her
need for him from him, she would be able to suppress it
entirely.

Starve the feelings, and they could be killed.

The first order of business: reassure Mulder that
everything was fine. Her aloofness and outburst of emotion
had probably already caused him to have second thoughts
about whether she was handling things as well as she
should. No more freaking out like that.

She wanted to enjoy what they had together, even as she
prepared for its end. The last thing she wanted was to let
some evidence of her need slip through the cracks. She
didn't want to worry him or have him suspect that something
wasn't right. For him to guess at her feelings would bring
about all the negative repercussions she was determined to
avoid.

He had no doubt returned to his room by now; she would go
to him. For all intents and purposes, nothing was wrong –
she had as much of Mulder as she could ever expect him to
share, and they had just made wonderful, incredible love.
She should be making the most of what time they had left,
not brooding in a motel room shower.

Engrossed in her thoughts, she was unaware of Mulder's
presence in the bathroom until he had stepped into the
shower with her, as naked as when she had left him.

She gasped in shock at his unexpected appearance. Her
heart was beating so hard in her chest she could hear it
pounding in her ears.

Before she had fully recovered enough to speak, he had
grabbed her around the waist.

"You okay?"

She trembled slightly at his proximity and the husky
tenderness of his voice. He really had a beautiful chest.
She stared at it.

"Fine," she nodded. "I don't know what happened – "

He bent down so that they were eye-level and captured her
gaze. "You were right, Scully," he interrupted. "It
probably was a mistake, but I wanted you – " He took a
deep breath. " – I needed you," he completed, earnest as
he attempted to gain her forgiveness. "Scully...we created
those rules so that we each would know the boundaries and
that would help us keep things separate in our minds. But
it hasn't been a problem; neither of us seems to be having
any trouble – which makes the rules not only unnecessary,
but also a hindrance. We know the limits; we don't need to
follow arbitrary rules. Do we?"

She didn't want him to see how much his words hurt. She
didn't realize how painful it would be to hear him
verbalize exactly how well he was able to keep his feelings
for her as a partner and his lust for her as a willing
female body separate. For a moment, she thought there was
a note in his voice that almost made her believe that he
wanted her to disagree with him, and she reprimanded
herself for indulging wishful thinking.

"I guess not. I wanted it," she said honestly. She
attempted a bright smile. "Who says that people only get
stressed out =after= work is over, anyway? We're doing
this to relieve tension – and that strikes most often
during a case, wouldn't you say?"

Something she couldn't identify passed over his face, but
it was soon gone and he had relaxed into a smile. "That
makes perfect sense to me, Agent Scully." He leaned in and
kissed her, both keeping their eyes open.

You're wonderful, she told him silently. I'm not going to
lose you. I can't lose you. Even if I have to lose this.

"You about ready to get out of here?" he teased.

She smiled a little sheepishly. "I've washed my hair. I
haven't actually done any cleaning yet..."

"You've just been thinking in here the whole time, huh?" he
asked lightly.

"Pretty much," she admitted.

He didn't say anything for a moment, and she looked at him
quizzically. "If you wanted me to wash your back, all you
had to do was ask," he finally said, attempting a grin.

She ignored the fact that it didn't quite seem to reach his
eyes. Putting a bar of soap into his hands, she whispered,
"Mulder, will you wash my back?"

"Only if I get to wash the rest of you, too," he countered.

She pretended to consider for a moment. "Umm...okay."

He was very courteous and gentlemanly as he washed her. He
never stopped for a prolonged period at any one area. He
was almost clinical as he cleaned, with a kind of
detachment that both amused and irritated her.

When she had been thoroughly cleansed, he stood there and
inspected her with a critical eye.

"What?" she demanded, a little exasperated.

His eyes narrowed, and then he trailed a hand down her
chest, running his fingers about experimentally. Finally,
he gathered some lather in his hands and began soaping up
her breasts. "This area looks like it needs some extra
attention," he said, in a voice so low she had to strain to
hear him above the shower. "May I?"

Her breaths were coming short and shallow now as she saw
the intent and rekindled lust in his eyes. "Be my guest,"
she croaked.

She moaned as his fingers, slick with soap, kneaded and
shaped her breasts, molding the peaks into his hands. He
paid especial attention to the hardened tips that were
pushing insistently against his palms.

"You have the prettiest pink nipples," he said.

She smiled at how silly he sounded, but he was looking at
her with such reverence that she decided to let it go.

"Are they clean yet?" she asked huskily. The water from
the shower had washed the soap away.

He studied her heaving chest for a moment. "I think I'm
going to need further examination to answer that question,
Doc," he replied, before leaning in and closing a mouth
around her.

It was a good thing his arms had wrapped around her waist,
or she surely would have fallen. Her knees felt like
jelly, and standing upright seemed a most difficult feat.

She looked down at him as he suckled hard on her, his eyes
closed, his face covered in droplets of water. He looked
beautifully sensual. This was how she wanted to remember
him.

He transferred his attention to her other breast and worked
on it until she was putty in his arms. He pulled away,
apparently satisfied that the area in question had finally
passed muster in the cleanliness department.

Lathering up his hands once again, he then took one of her
hands that was currently clutching his biceps and deposited
the bar of soap there. "Hold that for me, would you?" he
asked.

She could only nod as she stared at him through half-closed
eyes. She held onto the bar of soap tightly, as if it were
a talisman of strength.

"There's another area I'm particularly concerned with," he
shared. He kept one arm wrapped around her waist while the
other found the area between her legs.

She quivered against him as two soapy fingers eased up into
her.

He pumped her quickly, causing little mewling sounds to
issue from her throat. He spread moisture over her clit, a
combination of soap, water, and her arousal. He moved
faster and faster, and she was involuntarily moving up and
down on his hand.

Eventually, their muscles protested the prolonged tension,
and Mulder pulled away, groaning.

She whimpered at the loss of him, though her arm ached from
gripping him so tightly and her legs ached from the effort
to stand.

Her hand brushed across his groin, encountering his
hardened cock. Of course it had probably been in that
condition for a while, but this was the first that they
took note of it.

Impressed by his stamina, she stepped back to get a better
look.

"Whoa, how'd that get there?" he exclaimed with some
surprise and not a little pride, looking down at himself.

Her clit was throbbing almost painfully, and she was
delighted that Mulder would be able to join her in release.
"You're not thinking of taking all the credit, are you?"
she admonished, grabbing hold of his hard-on with both
hands.

"Wouldn't...dream of it," he gasped in response. He
reached for her again, but she avoided him playfully,
letting go of him.

"Scuh-lee," he whined. "I wanna touch you."

"Is that all?" She sounded disbelieving, almost scolding.
"I don't think you're being completely honest with me,
Mulder."

He looked like a little boy who had been caught blatantly
lying. "All right...I really want to be inside you but the
other sounded more respectable," he confessed.

Her vaginal muscles clenched tightly at his admission.
"You don't think after all we've done to get me clean, I'm
gonna let you put =that= in me, do you?" She pointed at
his gorgeous cock, now getting sprayed by the water not
blocked by her body.

His mouth dropped open and he stared at her, clearly
panicked. "But – "

She held out the bar of soap for him to see. "Clean
yourself up, Mulder," she demanded throatily.

He obediently took the soap from her, rubbing it in his
hands until he had a good lather going. She then took the
soap from him and carelessly tossed it onto the soap dish.

She watched in fascination as he grasped the base of his
erection with one hand. It had been a surprise to her how
much enjoyment she got out of watching him masturbate.

"Come on, Mulder," she encouraged breathlessly. "You know
what I want to see."

His gaze dropped to the curls between her legs, looking
quite mournful. "Has anyone ever told you that you're a
cruel woman, Scully? I can do this at home, you know."

He almost had her feeling guilty until she saw his cock
twitch in his hand when she licked her lips. She smiled
slowly. "I don't believe it's the same thing at all," she
said silkily. "Now – do it."

"Yes, ma'am," he said meekly, sliding his fist up his
impressive length. His eyes closed and he groaned; she
smiled in satisfaction, feeling a gush of warmth between
her legs in response.

Up and down, he pulled and jerked at himself until his
breathing grew short and shallow along with hers. She
dropped to her knees, barely even computing the hardness of
the tiles against her joints. She was much more interested
in the hardness that was now eye-level.

The combination of soap and water had given Mulder a slick
look, making a pretty good imitation of how he had looked
gliding in and out of her earlier. She licked her lips
again.

She looked up to see that he was watching her with lowered
eyelids. Without a word he halted his motions and took his
hand away. Reaching up a little, she grabbed the washcloth
she'd brought into the shower. It was already wet, but she
stuck it under the spray for a few moments, anyway. When
it was saturated, she brought it to the object of her
fascination and proceeded to wash all traces of soap off of
him. He was sensitized and the washcloth was abrasive so
she was very, very gentle.

That done, she deposited the washcloth onto the floor. She
brought her face closer to him, studying his throbbing
length from all angles. He was beautiful.

She began with light kisses. Starting at the base then
working her way up, she trailed his hardness with tiny
movements of her mouth. He stood utterly still. Her hands
grasped his thighs, and she could feel how tense the
muscles were there. He was obviously struggling for
control, and winning admirably.

Next, her tongue appeared. She had tasted him dozens of
times, but each time was different. He was a veritable
cornucopia of flavors. Now, he was sweetened by the soap,
but still possessed the underlying musky flavor that was
always present, and which she associated solely with
Mulder.

The softness of his skin, the hardness of his muscles, the
rain of the shower spray delivering rapid punctuation on
her back, the sluice of liquid trails down her breast, the
feel of her hair plastered against her face, all made for a
dizzying combination of sensations. Every second of it was
noted in some part of her brain, to be retrieved at a later
time and date for further enjoyment.

She licked and nibbled at him, enjoying herself so
thoroughly that she didn't even notice when his hands
threaded through her hair. He kneaded her skull for a
moment, and she moaned her appreciation. Another
sensation.

It was a complete surprise when he used that leverage to
pull her away from him.

"Okay...that's enough of that," he rasped, looking slightly
unbalanced.

She decided not to protest. She loved when he got that
deranged look in his eyes.

Suddenly, she shrieked. The hot water had been steadily
getting cooler during their activities, and the last of it
had finally given out. She was now being stung by
extremely cold water.

Reaching behind her quickly, she turned the water off,
spluttering a little as some of it ran into her eyes and
over her face. She stood, wringing out her hair. That
done, she turned to face a grinning Mulder.

Normally, she might have taken exception to his smirk, but
she was far too eager to be fucked to pay such trivialities
any mind. She took his cock in her hand again. "Let's
take care of this, Mulder," she said breathlessly,
motioning to open the shower door.

He stopped her with his hand. His eyes gleamed. "Let's
take care of it in here," he suggested, deliberately
lowering his voice to a sexy pitch.

But then, his voice was always sexy, she thought absently,
as she let him gather her in his arms.

He lowered his head so that she thought he was going to
kiss her, and she closed her eyes in preparation. But the
kiss never came. Instead, she felt him press his cheek
against hers, felt his breath in her ear as he murmured,
"What do you say?" He nibbled a little at her earlobe,
then unexpectedly stuck his warm, wet tongue inside.

She cried out from the delicious sensation and her nipples
puckered further; she felt a flood of wetness arrive yet
again between her legs.

"Oh – okay..." He had her up against the wall before she
had even finished uttering her consent.

They seemed to have developed a thing for bathrooms and
walls, she thought with as much amusement as she could
muster under the circumstances.

"We know how to do this, right?" he murmured, trailing
little kisses along her jaw.

"If I remember correctly, it goes something like...this..."
Using his shoulders for leverage, she hoisted herself up –
he helped her cause by grabbing her under her thighs and
using his superior arm muscles to lift her.

Wrapping her legs around him securely, she felt his cock
seeking entry into her, and then he found his way – gently
but firmly stabbing into her. It felt comfortingly
familiar, having only been there a short time ago, and so
very, very good.

Unlike the animalistic nature of what had occurred between
them in the bedroom, or even their previous up-against-the-
wall experience, this time their lovemaking was slow,
gentle. She was making love with Mulder - the last man
with whom she would ever use that term.

It couldn't be slow and gentle forever, of course, and she
was just as happy with fast and hard. While he was ramming
into her almost too forcefully, she glanced down at the
area where they were joined. Perhaps it was a residual
reaction from before. Even though she had witnessed this
exact activity very recently, in no way did it detract from
the impact of seeing, again, his shaft pumping in and out
of her. She was close. So, so close.

"Hey, could I get some attention here?" he joked, panting.

With some difficulty, she tore herself from the sight and
raised her head so that their gazes could meet. If she had
possessed the energy or the concentration, she would have
raised an eyebrow. "You =wanted= me to watch before," she
reminded him.

"That was before...I realized...you were gonna...start
...ignoring =me=," he said with mock accusation, his words
punctuated by gasps of pleasure.

"Why don't you take a look for yourself?" she suggested.
She had an inkling of what might happen if he took her
advice, and brought a hand between her legs. With one
finger, she began to circle her clit hard and fast, panting
as she did so.

Mulder looked into her face for another moment, thrusting
rapidly, and then, not letting up, he lowered his gaze.

"Oh Jesus!" he groaned. "Scully, I...you..." he stopped,
unable to continue the thought.

She smiled. He had been right earlier. It was a beautiful
thing to watch him take in their intimate actions. His
eyes were as big as saucers. Was this how she had been?
The expression on his face was one of rapture, fascination,
and arousal combined. She found it distinctly pleasurable
to be able to see it, and at the same time feel the
pressure of him inside her and the furious movement of her
finger working herself.

Moments later she was brought to a panting climax, and a
good thing, too, because Mulder slammed one last time into
her, howling and yelling so loudly that it echoed and
reverberated through the small bathroom.

She was distantly aware of the fact that Mulder had
gathered her into his arms and was stepping out of the
shower. It took all the strength she could muster to get
her arms around his neck. Using one hand, he brought a
towel carelessly around them to get at the larger droplets
of water on their skin. She was grateful for his strength,
because she felt absolutely boneless.

She understood that he didn't want to let her go, that
letting go meant that they would have to disengage, but
this was not going to work the way he wanted it to. She
grabbed his arms and indicated that she wanted him to let
her go.

He resisted for a moment, then gave in to reality and set
her gently on her feet.

She winced as he slipped out of her; tomorrow was not going
to be pretty. Tomorrow. Oh, God. They still had a case
to work on.

Mulder passed her a towel, which she took and briskly began
to dry herself. And, if she admitted it to herself, to
hide from him, as she thought about what the hell they had
done tonight.

You're turning out to be a regular little slut, Dana
Scully, she fumed, flushing. Who needs professionalism?
Who says it's really bad taste to sleep with your partner?
Well, we're not really =sleeping=... Oh, okay, be an
incorrigible wiseass now, too. She was disgusted with
herself – she knew that much. She just didn't know what
part she was disgusted with.

He plucked the towel from her hands. "You're dry, Scully,"
he said with a little amusement. "Well, your hair's still
a little wet..." He ran the towel haphazardly over her
head, squeezing here and there in an attempt, she supposed,
to dry it. "Okay, now it's just damp." He discarded the
used towel to the floor.

"Now what?" she asked, crossing her arms.

"Off to bed," he said lightly.

She felt disappointment seep into her. The last time they
had made love in a motel, he had left her to sleep in his
own room. When they did the deed at their apartments, he
always slept with her. But then, it was probably a bit
ridiculous to sleep on the couch after their activities.
Here, there was a perfectly good extra bed waiting in the
next room.

In the larger scheme of things, it was probably much wiser.
Keep things separate. There was no reason at all why they
should cuddle after making love. That was what =normal=
people did. They were just conducting a series of one-
night stands. She didn't stop to consider the
contradiction of those phrases. She was too busy feeling
sorry for herself.

Leading her over to the bed, he stripped off the top cover
that was stained by the material evidence of their earlier
activities. He lifted the other sheets and gestured
silently. Sighing, she slid between them, still a little
fatigued but not nearly as much as she had been before.
She wasn't sure she'd be able to fall asleep at all now.

She watched as he shut off all the lights in the room.

"Good night, Mulder," she said in a small voice. Shut up,
Dana, just shut up! Do you =want= him to feel sorry for
you, is that it?

She was shocked when she felt the bed move as a heavy
object deposited himself onto it. "What – what are you
doing?"

She felt him move, heard the sheets rustling, and seconds
later his warm bare skin was pressed up against her. God,
it felt heavenly. He was emitting waves of heat already;
she loved that about him.

He nuzzled his nose into her hair. "Sleeping."

"You are?" she squeaked.

He shifted, bringing an arm around her, pulling her to him
tight. "I'm sleeping here with you, Scully," he announced.
He sounded commanding, but she could hear the underlying
quaver. He was waiting for her to hand him his balls and
order him to his room. "Don't even try to argue with me
about this," he continued with false bravado. "I'm not
going to listen."

He sounded like one of her nephews, determinedly telling
his parents that he was not going to bed until he finished
his Disney video, knowing that it was only due to the
indulgence of the authorities that he was actually getting
to stay up, not because he held any sway.

"Don't worry, Mulder," she yawned, trying to convey that
she was too tired to do any ass-kicking this night. I
wouldn't dream of it.

They slept, entwined.

~~~~~~~~

August 25
8:12 a.m.
On the road

She was sitting in a car with Mulder, and he was driving.
Such a scenario was hardly out of the ordinary.

She was aching from their activities last night. She was
sore in places she'd forgotten existed, and the muscles of
her inner thighs positively protested any movement. Most
of all, she ached between her legs. Now these details -
they were unusual. At least, prior to the last six weeks.

The soreness was almost pleasurable when she reminded
herself that one day soon she'd no longer have cause to
ever feel that way again.

It felt unbelievably intimate to be sitting in a car with
Mulder, not touching, not speaking, but feeling achy from
having had intimate physical contact.

Oh my God. We had sex while on a case. In the light of a
new morning the excuses she had made to herself last night
meant precisely squat. The lines were so completely
blurred now as to be rendered invisible. What fucking
lines? They had demolished them!

Her mind suddenly reeled from the direct confrontation of
this fact. The ache between her legs shouted something
like "Duh!" but she was still flabbergasted by the
realization their sheer audacity. Obviously, neither had a
gift for thinking ahead. But then, Mulder was always
impulsive. It was she who should have been more careful,
more deliberate in her thinking processes.

This was probably the most important rule they should have
adhered to – but no, they had broken it. Saying each
other's names during sex? How could that be helped, make
up new names? That was ridiculous. Fucking once in a
while at each other's apartments? Also not that big a
deal. Home was home, work was work. They were fighting to
preserve their =working= relationship. Having sex at the
office? Okay, that was a huge mistake. But they had both
agreed never to let that happen again. Looking at Mulder's
relaxed face, it didn't look like he would advocate the
same conclusion in this case.

Mulder, noticing her twitching, glanced over. "You okay?"

"Huh?" She glanced at him, a little distracted. "Oh -
yeah. Yeah." We had sex while on a case, Mulder! She
shouted at him silently. She decided not to make a fool of
herself by voicing it out loud. He could hardly be
oblivious to the fact.

Unbidden, her traitorous mind recalled the vision of how
Mulder had looked thrusting inside her. Oh God. A small
whimper escaped. She really should not be thinking these
things.

"Scully?"

"Sorry. I thought I saw roadkill," she quickly improvised.

He was certainly behaving casually. As if nothing had
happened.

Mulder began to whistle.

She stared at him in amazement.

Apparently, Mulder was not as disturbed or concerned as she
by the latest breach of their sexual "contract." He was
positively =cheerful=, experiencing none of the agony she
was putting herself through.

He behaved as though he hadn't a care in the world. =He=
wasn't having fits of uncertainty.

Well, goddammit, if Mulder could be so casual about
everything, then so could she. Right. Hadn't she said
something like that before?

While she ruminated, he pulled in front of the small diner
where they'd had just about every meal for a week.
Grabbing some breakfast, no doubt.

"Be right back," he tossed, jumping out of the car quickly.

The last thing she felt like doing at the moment was eating
a carbohydrate bomb smothered in glazed sugar. The thought
made her feel positively ill. But Mulder – there was no
stopping that man's stomach.

He returned scant minutes later, sporting a huge box that
had to contain at least three dozen donuts. What the hell?

At her look of amazement, he handed her the box and a cup
of coffee. He started the car, and off they went again.

"Mulder," she began, when he made no explanation, "what is
this?"

"A box of donuts," he said matter-of-factly, as if he did
this everyday. "I just thought the boys might like some."

She hoped she wasn't gaping at him, but couldn't be
certain. The boys? The BOYS?? Was he talking about the
same men who had so angered him yesterday that he had gone
off on his own for the whole day?

He didn't seem to think this was anything unusual, however,
so she decided not to say anything. He had gone completely
around the bend. There was no other explanation for it.
But he had gotten her coffee, and for that, she was willing
to forgive almost anything – even insanity.

She took a sip. Mmm, he had made it just the way she
liked. By the time she was done with the cup, they were
pulling up in front of the building where the Yapavai
County Sheriff's office leased their working space.

He took the box from her as they made their way inside.

"Hey, Barnes – thought you and your boys might enjoy some
morning goodies," Mulder said to the wary man, placing the
box of donuts on top of the filing cabinet.

"Well, now, that's very nice of you," Barnes replied
cautiously, looking at Scully. She shrugged; =she= didn't
know what the hell was going on. Maybe he had poisoned
them.

Deputy Mikladen was there, along with a handful of other
officers. They too seemed a bit taken aback by Mulder's
good cheer, but dug into the box with appreciation.

"Look, Mulder, I'm sorry about yesterday..." Mikladen
began, but stopped when Mulder flung an arm out in a breezy
gesture.

"Don't worry about it," he grinned. "We're all on the same
team, right?"

Mikladen nodded his agreement. Finally noticing Scully,
they greeted her with a round of hellos as each man dug
into the box for a donut of his choice – a couple of people
were already on seconds. She was still looking at Mulder
with something akin to amazement.

With casual off-handedness, Mulder then shared, "Oh, by the
way – I know who your killer is."

Barnes nearly choked on his glazed twist.

"What?" Scully exclaimed, apparently speaking for all of
them.

"Well – Christ, Agent Mulder!" Barnes yelled. "Why didn't
you say something? Who is it? Let's go bring his ass in."

Mulder shrugged. "Oh, I wouldn't worry about it. I'm sure
he's still sleeping. He's the nightshift manager at Del's
Liquor. He just got off work what, two hours ago?"

"What? Are you sure? How the hell do you know this?"
Mikladen demanded. "Just yesterday you didn't have a
clue!"

"I had a clue," Mulder said mildly. "I just didn't have
the whole picture. The profile clicked for me this
morning. I'm sure I'm right. I can even tell you where to
find the murder weapon." He took a large bite of a jelly
donut.

"Where'd this epiphany come from?" Barnes asked. Even
without the suspect in hand or any evidence further than
what they already had, it was obvious that Mulder was
believed.

Scully wanted to know, herself. He said it had clicked for
him this morning. When? Between getting out of bed and
putting on his tie? It always intrigued her to witness
Mulder's keen mind in action. He was a profiling
wonderboy. She quashed the feeling of pride she felt
starting in her chest. There would be none of that.

Mulder shrugged again. "A good night's sleep?" His voice
was casual but there was no mistaking his meaning. Scully
flushed in embarrassment at the surge of memory of their
shared pleasure. "I think that's all I needed," he
completed softly. "Well, that, and I looked at your notes
this morning, Scully." He grinned.

The interviews. Sure, she did all the work and he took all
the glory. But she hadn't found anything particularly
noteworthy – they'd all been interviewed before.

She gave him the eyebrow. "Okay...what happened?"

"It was staring at me in the face the whole time," he said,
shaking his head. "But reading your interview notes this
morning..." He explained how it had clicked for him and
she followed his thinking process, but something nagged at
the back of her mind.

Now it seemed kind of obvious, and that they should have
caught the guy before this. She wondered if, despite their
best intentions, they had been distracted by other...
pursuits. But there had been plenty of other people
working the case – if it was that obvious, any one of them
could have made the connection.

And it couldn't be argued that the very day after they had
given in to their physical desires, Mulder had been able to
finish his profile and come up with their killer. Maybe it
was a good thing that they had slept together on a case,
after all.

Or perhaps she was just rationalizing their actions.

They were quiet for a moment, then Mulder leaned down and
whispered into her ear, "You helped me clear my head,
Scully. Thank you."

He turned away before she could form an adequate response.
Scully stared after him thoughtfully. Mulder claimed that
their activities had loosened him up enough to be able to
concentrate on his profile, when in fact it was probably
her interview notes that had prompted his sudden clarity.

However, she was willing to admit that it was =possible=
she had provided Mulder with the physical release he needed
and it had indirectly lead to solving the case. Such a
possibility was not without merit, and if true, went a long
way to soothe her qualms about what she had allowed to
happen the previous night – it meant their actions had
actually helped rather than hindered.

The question that disturbed her, however, was if he would
have been so distracted and unfocused in the first place
had they not been involved in this relationship at all.

~~~~~~~~
Chapter Eleven
~~~~~~~~

Mulder's Apartment
September 28
10:14 a.m.

He'd been prowling about his apartment all morning, trying
to talk himself out of calling her. As usual. He was
worried – there was no doubt about that.

It had been a week since the incident when he thought
he was going to blow things for sure. Afterwards, it had
=seemed= that everything was resolved, but they hadn't seen
each other outside the office since.

He missed her.

Sure, he saw her everyday at work, and things had appeared
to be normal. Scully, especially, seemed to try hard to
keep up the level of ease and friendliness that was
normally there.

Unfortunately, it only made Mulder even more anxious. Why
should she have to =try= to keep that up? Wasn't it there
of its own accord? He felt something punch him in the gut
every time he saw her arrive at the office in one of her
impeccably tailored suits, coffee cup in one hand, her
briefcase in the other. He wondered if his worship was in
his eyes.

He bantered with her as he always had, and she resisted
response as usual. But obviously, something was not right.
She had lately felt the need to keep up a pretense of
comfort she obviously did not feel.

It wasn't anything she had said or done; it was simply
something he felt.

He had tortured himself all week guessing at why she would
throw off such odd vibes, but he had been unable to reach
any satisfactory conclusions. He'd hoped that the weekend
would provide opportunity for answers, but Friday had come
and gone, and she'd left with only a murmured "goodbye,"
without a single look back. Not once during the whole of
the week had she mentioned anything about plans for the
weekend.

She was distant. There was no other word for it, and it
made him very nervous. And more than a little scared.

That was it. He tossed aside the basketball he'd been
bouncing to keep himself distracted, and strode over to his
desk, picking up the phone. Speed dial one, and it was
ringing. And ringing. He hung up. Shit.

Maybe she just wanted to be left alone. But why should she
want that? he wondered, wounded. He hadn't been
particularly pesky lately. At least, not that he
remembered. He'd been giving her the space she obviously
wanted. No eager, love-me-please looks thrown her way.
Well, none that he was aware of.

Still, if she wanted to be left alone, she would be annoyed
by his intrusion, which would help his case not at all.
Not if he wanted to find out what was wrong, and he
desperately wanted that. He didn't know what =could= be
wrong; everything seemed perfectly fine, in spite of his
less-than-inspiring performance last weekend.

He was probably blowing things out of proportion. She's
playing it casual, you doof, he reminded himself. Just
because he had ceased to care about the terms of the
relationship they had embarked on didn't mean she had done
the same. Scully lived by rules. She enjoyed them, and,
in this case, had reasons for sticking to them.

But damn if he hadn't tried his hardest to obliterate both
the rules and the need to follow them. Scully was Scully,
though. He loved her for it.

Well, if she was being casual, he reasoned, then she
probably wouldn't mind if he called. He simply had to
behave in kind. He had to make calling her seem like not
such a big deal - that was the key. Everything to do with
her was a big deal to him, but he didn't want to scare her
by announcing it too quickly or loudly. Obviously, she
still needed to be worked on.

Speed dial one again. It rang and rang and rang until her
machine picked up. Where the hell was she? He slammed the
phone down. She wouldn't have gone out with that bastard
again. She couldn't –

"Damn it!" he snarled, kicking his chair with enough force
to break the delicate bones in his foot. Luckily his sock
provided some buffer, and it was only incredibly pained
instead of broken.

Hobbling over to the couch, he sat down, massaging his
injured appendage. When the throbbing had subsided
somewhat, he looked under the hill of newspapers and other
assorted junk on his coffee table until he came across the
black leather journal.

He picked up a pen, flipped the book open to a blank page
and furiously began to write, not choosing his words with
care. He just had to get things off his chest.

**Fuck, fuck, fuck. All right, Scully, I know I made an
ass of myself last week but damn it, this is not fair. I
really hope you're not with him. Because if you are, I
might have to take out my gun and commit a crime that
you'll need to arrest me for. But actually, that's even
more motive to do it, because at least then I'll know where
you are and you'll be with me.

You've turned me into a certifiable madman, Scully. I hope
you're proud. I've always been thought of as a lunatic to
others but this is the first time I've admitted to being
crazy. And you're the cause.

I've tried to take this whole thing in stride. I've tried
to be casual; I've tried to treat this whole thing the way
I know you want me to. But I can't. Instead of wanting
you less, I only want you more.

Is that why you're running the other way, Scully? You can
sense this in me and don't want to hurt me? It's too late
– I've fallen in love with you and I don't know how to fall
out of it. Even if I knew how I wouldn't want to. Why
would anyone in his right mind want to stop experiencing
the wonderful, dizzying, exhilarating feeling of being in
love with you? Well, as I've already admitted, I'm not in
my right mind and right now I'm considering it.

Maybe if I fall out of love with you I won't be so scared
that you don't feel the same way. Maybe if I wasn't in
love with you I wouldn't have to try so hard to make you
fall in love with me in return.

But then why would anyone like you ever love someone as
fucked up as me? You deserve so much better. And if =I=
wasn't the fuckup involved I'd tell you to run like hell
the other way, and then I'd kick my ass. But I'm selfish,
Scully. I've always been selfish when it comes to you. I
can't help it. I look at you and I want to kiss the life
out of you. I see someone else look at you and I feel so
proud that I'm the one who knows you.

I know what they think when they see you, Scully. They see
an intelligent, worldly, beautiful woman with the strength
of a dozen men. You're so much stronger than I could ever
be. But I'm blessed because you've shown me your
vulnerabilities. Usually not voluntarily and not very
often, but I've seen them and I don't think very many
people can say that.

In those moments you let me in, I feel the entire essence
of who you are seep into every corner of me. I see you –
all of you. And you are beautiful, Scully.

If I weren't such a greedy man, I'd take what you're able
to give. I'd take my few moments here and there of basking
in you, and run like hell with what I've got. But now I've
experienced everything, and I want it all. I want to see
your face every morning for the rest of my life. I want to
spend every weekend in your company. And everyday for the
rest of my life, I want to hear your voice before I go to
sleep.

I don't know if you want these things, Scully. I don't
know if you want them with =me=. That uncertainty makes me
feel crazy inside, as if I don't know whether I'm coming or
going. You know, if you told me that what we have now is
all that you can ever give, I would accept it. If you told
me right now that you no longer feel attracted to me and
want things to go back to the way they were, it would be
difficult but I'd try to respect your wishes.

But don't push me out of your life, Scully. That I can't
do. I can't not have you in my life. I wouldn't know how
to go about living it again. I know this is a big burden
to put on you. I hate myself for it, at the same time I do
everything I can to keep you with me. I'm weak. I freely
admit it. I've got nothing to lose but you. You can't
blame a guy for trying to preserve his reason for living,
can you?

Look at me – a couple of days of your distance and I'm
already going out of my mind. I've tried calling you but
you're not home. Where are you, Scully? I know I have no
right to ask you that, but I'm asking anyway.

I know I acted like a moron last week. I know I goaded you
into going out with him. I was – I don't know what I was
thinking. Part of it was just habit, and part of me wanted
to provoke you into denying what I was saying. Stupid, I
know. And I normally work so well under pressure. I know
I went off the deep end. I know I scared you – hell, I
scared =me=. I swear it won't happen again. You can see
whoever you want to see, Scully, and I –

Oh who the hell am I kidding? I'd want to hurt any man who
comes near you. But I swear I'll try to hide it better. I
swear I'll try.

I'm not always clear-headed when it comes to you, Scully.
You know that. Hell – everyone knows it, including Skinner
and the shadow figures who have tried to take you from me
so many times. What they never saw was that taking you
only drove me more – there was a reason for me to keep
existing. I had the only reason I would ever need – to
bring you back. To make sure you're alive and safe. To
make sure you're with me. In fact, there's no greater
motive they could have given me to keep at it, those stupid
bastards.

But what they failed to do I've done to myself. Now I've
driven you away and I don't know how to fix it. I'm
drowning, Scully. I'd ask you to save me, but I'm afraid
I'd pull you under, too.

You're the only person I need. I know you don't want that,
but there it is. I'll try for your sake to not need you so
much, but it's your own fault, you know.

I don't understand this latest bump we've hit. God, I hope
it's a bump. I was a fucking idiot last week but you
seemed to forgive me. I know my tactics were a little
caveman-like but I'll try to control those urges. Just –
don't pull away. Don't shut me out.

You can't say that the last two and a half months haven't
been amazing. I've never felt more alive. Or happier.
You make me happy, Scully. That's not a crime, is it? I
know it must seem like an affliction at times to have the
weight of my happiness resting on you, but I hope that I've
made you a little happy, too.

I know you don't have any complaints about the sex. God,
that part's incredible. You're the hottest, most sensual
woman I've ever been with, and I thank the fates that have
allowed me to experience that privilege.

And you're gorgeous when we make love, Scully. I love
watching you, seeing the pleasure on your face that I'm
giving you. I want to be the only person to give that to
you. I'll do it the rest of my life if you'll let me.

But I won't accept that that's all you feel for me. I
won't accept that the physical is all you want from me.
Like what happened last week – surely you wouldn't have
responded the way you did if you didn't love me, just a
little.

Is that a problem, Scully? Did what happen make you
realize that you have deeper feelings for me than you want
to admit? God I hope that's true. Are you taking this
time to think about it, think about what you want from me,
from this, from us?

The possibility thrills me, but I'm more frightened than
ever.**

~~~~~~~~
Chapter Twelve
~~~~~~~~

YMCA
September 14
11:14 a.m.

Sweat dripped off his face and his breathing was labored as
he dribbled around a large body determined to prevent him
from getting to the hoop. He spun around, then again,
successfully diverting his opponent. An easy lay-up later,
his team was again leading.

Someone called time, and they all took a water break. It
was usually the same guys, and while they never did
anything together outside of playing ball, there was an
easy familiarity and camaraderie that came simply from the
good-natured competition they engaged in roughly once a
week.

Today, Troy Bruschard had happened to put his gym bag close
to Mulder's, and Mulder tried to suppress his irritation.
Bruschard was an okay guy and a decent ball player, but he
rubbed Mulder the wrong way.

They reached for their respective water bottles and began
to gulp thirstily.

When they each took a breather, Bruschard asked casually,
"So is your babe of a partner gonna come see you today?"

Mulder gritted his teeth. Bruschard had made no secret of
the fact that he found Scully extremely attractive, and was
constantly referring to her in ways that set Mulder on
edge.

Bruschard was not a bad guy. He had an unfortunate way of
referring to women in a manner that obviously stemmed from
personal insecurities – he probably thought it made him
seem macho. But he was never intentionally rude, at least,
not that Mulder had seen, and more often than not,
Bruschard played the role of peacemaker when a scuffle
erupted between players. Bruschard had a gift for easing
tension with good-natured aplomb; he had a knack for
diplomacy, and genuinely seemed to care about maintaining a
pleasant dynamic within the group. Knowing this, Mulder
found it impossible to be outright hostile to the guy.

"She mentioned she'd be dropping by," he relayed
reluctantly. She'd told him earlier that she needed to
take care of some errands in the neighborhood, then she'd
drop by and they'd have lunch.

"God, if I worked with a piece like that, I'd never get
anything done," Bruschard commented.

Mulder just barely resisted to urge to connect his fist
with the other man's face. "Who says I get anything done?"
he joked, only half-paying attention. He was looking for a
petite female with glorious red hair.

This would be the first time she had come here since they
had started sleeping together, he realized. That might
explain his more-lacking-than-usual tolerance toward
Bruschard.

Mulder had once asked Scully what she thought of Bruschard,
trying to gauge her interest. It was more for his own sake
than for Bruschard's, of course. She had only given him a
little smile and asked, "Why? Are you trying to set us
up?" The idea had been so vile that Mulder had never
brought it up again.

Now he wondered, with a sick feeling in his stomach, if she
had =wanted= him to set her up with Bruschard. After all,
the other man was attractive, around Mulder's age, and had
a steady job. The kind of guy he could picture Scully
having a normal life with.

It also made him want to smash things, but there was no
denying that Bruschard was prime significant-other material
for an attractive, single woman like Scully.

They spotted her at the same time. Bruschard gave a low
whistle. "My Saturday has just improved a hundredfold."

Mulder stiffened. His had as well, but that didn't mean he
wanted to hear the same sentiments voiced aloud by some
other man.

She was a vision in jeans, a tight-fitting white top, and
boots that made a deep clacking sound on the basketball
court as she made her way toward him.

Calm down, he told himself. But the way Bruschard was
ogling her was downright aggravating.

If anyone was going to drool on Scully, it was going to be
Mulder.

Ignoring Bruschard, he grinned at her as she approached.
Christ, even the way she walked turned him on. Was there a
more delectable woman anywhere on earth?

"Hey," he greeted softly, eyeing her possessively.

If she took exception to that look, she didn't show it.
She smiled in response, though he noted that her eyes
seemed downcast. "Hey yourself," she answered, not meaning
to sound sexy, he was sure, but her voice caused goosebumps
to rise on his flesh just the same.

"Hey Dana," an intrusive voice said brightly next to him.

Don't call her Dana, he wanted to shout. But the thought
of Bruschard calling her Scully was even worse. Don't you
call her anything at all.

Scully's glance flickered to his companion, and Mulder held
his breath. He let it out in relief when there was no
interest in her eyes other than her good manners forcing
her to go through the pleasantries. "Hi, Troy," she
replied.

The other man grinned, obviously delighted that she had
remembered his name. She's a law enforcement officer,
Mulder wanted to inform the other man. She's trained not
to forget names and faces.

Bruschard asked casually, "So you two are partners...?"

"Yeah, we work together," Mulder said shortly. Then
venomously in his mind - as you perfectly well know.

Something flashed briefly in Scully's eyes that could have
been described as...hurt.

He had to be mistaken. Why should Scully be hurt by
something so innocuous? And true? He had said it out of
habit, as well as a preemptive strike against further
intrusive questions. Their relationship was nobody's
business but their own.

To his consternation and surprise, Scully then turned to
Bruschard again, looking at him speculatively. "Right.
And what is it that you do? I've forgotten." Had she
deliberately injected that note of coyness into her voice?
Surely it was just her manners that made her ask.

Mulder didn't even hear Bruschard's response, so intent was
he on reading Scully's behavior. Was she trying to provoke
a response out of him? But why should she want to do that?

"So you two aren't - ?"

*You know perfectly well we aren't, you ass, since you ask
every damn time. Well, we are, but you don't know that.
Even if I want to shove that knowledge down your throat
right now.*

"No, we aren't. We work together, that's =all=." He was
appalled by the words that kept popping out of his mouth.
What in the world had come over him? Sure, he had said
them countless times in the past, but never had he meant
them less. Why was he being so fucking insistent, when the
last thing he wanted was to let Bruschard think he had a
chance?

According to the blasted rules, he and Scully were free to
be interested in other people. Just because he would never
be interested in another woman again didn't mean that the
same was true for Scully and other males.

He suddenly realized: he wanted her to prove him wrong. He
wanted her to tell him that she wasn't interested in
pursuing a relationship with any other man.

Tell this jerk to back the fuck off, he pleaded with her
silently.

Scully studied him with unreadable eyes. He didn't know
what was going through her mind. "That's all," she echoed.

He had never wanted to hurt himself more. Stupid, stupid,
stupid! What was she supposed to say after he had made
such an adamant denial? No, actually, Mulder and I are
lovers? God, he was such a moron!

He'd wanted her to voice that they were more to each other;
he'd wanted to hear her say it. But now he had set back
the efforts of the past few weeks, trying to ease her into
the knowledge that he was in love with her.

Was there a more miserable excuse for a man? He knew she
wasn't ready to admit anything remotely the same; why did
he have to provoke her like that?

"Well, listen," Bruschard said enthusiastically, apparently
not sensing the tension between the other two, "Would you
come with me to this social function I've got for work
tonight, keep me company? I always get bored as hell at
these things, but I have to be there."

Mulder was speechless with shock. Had he just heard right?
Had this guy just asked his Scully out on a date, right in
front of him?

Scully gave a nervous laugh. "Oh, I don't think – "

"Oh, come on," Bruschard persisted good-naturedly. "Just
as friends. My date canceled on me at the last minute and
she was gonna be the only diversion to get me through it.
It'd be for a good cause. Mulder here can vouch that I'm a
great guy."

Mulder stared at Bruschard in bug-eyed amazement. First
this guy had the balls to nerve to ask =his= woman to go
out with him, and now he was using =Mulder= as a reference?
He had to be out of his fucking mind!

Scully would never go out with this guy. She didn't know
him or care to know him. She was involved with Mulder.
But he had the same urge to hear her say for herself that
she wasn't interested.

He deliberately closed off his expression, not wanting to
influence her decision. If she truly wanted to see
Bruschard, well, he wouldn't stop her. He'd go home and
clean his Sig, but he wouldn't keep her from what she
wanted.

"Sure," he said hollowly, "A great guy."

The little shit had probably made all that up on the spur
of the moment. Scully wouldn't fall for such an obvious
ploy.

She was quiet for a long moment, looking at Mulder. He
gave her a tight smile, pleading her in his mind to reject
Bruschard already and not to torture either of them with
the wait any further.

Finally, she directed her attention back to Bruschard.
Mulder almost melted in relief. Here's where she was going
to let him down...

"Sure, why not," she accepted softly, sending each man onto
contrasting planes of joy.

"Great, thanks, you're a lifesaver," Bruschard announced.
"I swear you'll have a good time. We'll make it fun for
each other."

Scully gave a smile that didn't quite reach her eyes, and
as she gave Bruschard her contact information, he was
glowing with delight.

Mulder gripped his water bottle so hard it collapsed in his
hands.

~~~~~~~~

Outside Scully's Apartment
September 14
10:43 p.m.

Was it pathetic that he was sitting here in his car, in the
dark, outside Scully's apartment, spying on her? Should it
be troubling him that he was waiting for her to come home
from her date so that he could haul her inside and remind
her just who it was that she belonged to? Or what if she
actually came home with Bruschard? Was it terrible that he
was half hoping she would, so that he could tear the guy
apart limb from limb, for daring to go anywhere near her?
And then he would haul Scully into bed and reassert his
ownership.

What fucking fantasy world was =he= living in? Scully
belonged to herself. She would be the first one to tell
him to take a flying leap off the nearest multiple-story
building if she heard him even remotely voice the
possessive and jealous feelings rampaging through him at
the moment. But there was no denying he was feeling them.

He'd been sitting here for two hours, hoping against hope
that the whole thing would be a bomb from the start and
she'd get home early. As each minute ticked by his mood
had gotten blacker and blacker, until he could barely think
straight for the cloud darkening his mind.

He reveled in the rage, because without it, he'd no doubt
break down and sob like a baby.

Why had she agreed to go out with Bruschard tonight? Was
she genuinely interested in him? Dared he hope that it had
anything to do with him? He heard Scully's voice in his
mind, normally so welcomed, but this time forcing him to
remember..."Not everything is about you, Mulder."

"Damn it!" he swore, pounding the steering wheel. God,
this pain in his chest was agonizing. He had to get a hold
of himself.

After a few more minutes, he was less explosively angry,
but the hurt had not gone away. He had never felt as
confused as he did right now, sitting alone in his car,
staking out Scully's apartment. He had believed that he
and Scully were closer than they had ever been – what had
happened? Had that been an illusion on his part? Had she
really only been using him for sexual release while looking
for something else?

Wasn't that exactly what she thought =he= was doing?

A tap against his window nearly made him jump out of his
skin. Scully. Shit, caught in the act.

He had to remember he didn't have anything to feel guilty
about. He wasn't the one who had gone on a date with
somebody else. The reminder roused his ire again.

He was not going to be made to feel bad about waiting for
her. He wanted her to know that this had bothered him.
She wanted his balls on a platter? She had them.

But not if she had Bruschard with her. Then he wouldn't
give either of them the satisfaction. He'd simply get back
in his car with as much dignity as he could muster, drive
home, try not to get into an accident on the way, and then
crash onto his couch to wallow in pathetic self-pity. That
was, unless he crossed a nice, tempting bridge along the
way.

Instead of rolling down the window, he opened the car door
and stepped out. He wanted to have the semblance of the
upper hand in this situation, and it would help if he could
use his height to his advantage.

She didn't look like the vindictive little bitch he had
tried to convince himself she was. She just looked –
tired. But he wasn't about to let her off the hook that
easy. He needed answers.

Craning her head to look up at him, she met his accusing
gaze unflinchingly. "Want to come inside?"

Damn it, his cock really did have a mind of its own. Even
as upset with her as he was at this moment, his dick sprang
to attention at her invitation with its unintended meaning.
He gritted his teeth. No, he was not going to be
distracted by her feminine charms, though she had those in
spades.

He jerked his head, looking for a sign of Bruschard, but
the other man was nowhere to be found. He despised himself
for the intense relief that flooded through him.

Shit, she was already halfway to the building. His long
strides caught up to her quickly. Once at her door, she
dug through the small purse she had been carrying.

"Shit...I don't have my keys," she said tiredly.

Left in a bit of a hurry, did we? he thought caustically,
but kept his mouth shut. Wordlessly, he dug into his
pockets and took out his keys, handing them to her.

"Thanks," she sighed, behaving as if this was all very
normal.

Opening the door, she stepped into her apartment, Mulder
following silently. She switched on a lamp and tossed her
purse and the keys onto the couch.

He sucked in a breath when she took off her long black
overcoat; underneath, she was wearing a long form-fitting
dress, kind of a shimmery blue, with no sleeves and a
neckline that plunged a deep V into her cleavage. She
looked – stunning. Breathtakingly so.

She stepped closer to him, having noticed his reaction.
"What's the matter, Mulder? Don't you like it?"

Bitch, he thought. Manipulative bitch.

"Is this what you wore for him?" he asked, a dangerous edge
to his voice. The thought of his Scully preparing herself,
dressing up for some other man, positively nauseated him.

She stared up at him with wide, sincere eyes. "I wore this
for you, Mulder," she whispered, stepping closer, sliding
her arms around his waist.

He stiffened at her touch, not wanting to give in. He
desperately wanted to believe her, to believe the beautiful
lie she was spinning for him. Who cared about the dress?
The fact was that he was with the woman he loved, and they
were alone.

"I was hoping you would be here," she confessed. "I needed
you to be here..." She rested her face against his
unyielding chest.

He was thawing. This was =Scully=, he told himself
fiercely. She didn't know the first thing about being
duplicitous.

"Why did you do it?" He hated the quiver in his voice.
God, he was so weak when it came to her.

"I'm sorry," she answered, sighing. "I just – " her voice
caught. "I'm glad you're here."

That wasn't an answer, but he closed his eyes at the
sincerity in her voice. He believed her. Of course he
did.

"You can see anybody you want to see; it doesn't make any
difference to me," he grated. Oh, that's a smooth one.
That's why you were staked outside her apartment until she
got home.

She was quiet for a moment. Her answer, when it came, did
not alleviate his fears very much. "I know I can. But I
don't want to be with anyone but you right now. Is that
okay?"

He trembled. Was it okay? Was she kidding? "Jesus...of
course, Scully." He hated himself for it, but he had to
know. "How was your date?"

"Boring," she answered without hesitation. "He was nice.
But he wasn't you, Mulder. Though, God, I wanted him to
be..." He was enthralled by the look in her eyes. If it
was possible to feel cherished from a look in another
person's eyes, then that's what he felt.

He was as surprised as she by the ferocity of his kiss. He
simply lowered his head and captured her parted lips with
his; no preliminaries, and his tongue was thrusting into
her mouth, her gasps swallowed by him even as they left her
mouth.

He could taste the wine on her tongue; he swept over it
until all traces were gone. He wanted to eliminate all the
evidence of her evening spent with someone else.

Pressing closer to her, he heard her whimper when his
arousal rubbed against her stomach, telling her blatantly
what he wanted.

She broke off the kiss and tugged on his hands, leading him
to her bedroom. "Come on, Mulder," she urged huskily.

He didn't need more encouragement than that. Once inside,
she shut the door, enclosing them in darkness. A little
moonlight greeted them through the window, but it was
hardly sufficient. He was glad. He didn't want any
artificial light encroaching on these moments; apparently,
she felt the same way, as she made no move to turn on any
lights.

Scully maneuvered him into a large stuffed chair by the
bed. He rested his hands on the armrests as he studied her
with hooded eyes, his legs spread apart casually. That
dress was unbelievable. It molded to every lush curve
Scully possessed – and she had a lot of them. And then in
a whisper of material, it simply wasn't there anymore.

His breath caught in his throat. God, she hadn't even been
wearing a bra. Her beautiful pink nipples grew hard under
his gaze. It caused his cock to tighten painfully in
response. Jesus, and the rest of her – those wispy black
panties enticed him with what they hid, and she was wearing
black thigh high stockings. No garters, but he was glad –
here was the same idea but without the trouble. His Scully
was a genius. She was still wearing her black high heels.

He swallowed. She had really gone all out, hadn't she?
Maybe she had expected to get lucky with Bruschard, he
thought painfully. But no – she said she had dressed this
way for him, hadn't she? His gaze shot to her face.

A little smile crossed her lips. "For you, Mulder," she
answered his unspoken question. "Just for you."

She stepped closer so that she was almost between his
thighs, then dropped to her knees. He stared in
fascination at the way her pretty pink-tipped breasts
jiggled in front of him.

Her hand reached out and ran up the material of his shirt.
He was glad he had left his jacket in the car – one less
item of clothing to get in the way.

He followed her hand as her fingers began to deftly flick
open his buttons one by one, going down, down, down. More
of his taut skin was exposed to view as she completed her
task; when she reached the waistband of his jeans her other
hand came around and helped pull his shirt out.

Finally, his shirttails were unceremoniously flipped aside,
and Scully ran her hands up his bare chest. Her fingers
brushed against his nipples, which hardened at her touch.
He still had not moved.

She stopped running her hands over him and instead focused
her attention on his right wrist, undoing the buttons at
the cuff. He was a little confused when she began to roll
the sleeve up, almost to his elbow. She did the same to
the other arm. Then she ran her hands up his forearms.

"God, you are so sexy," she breathed. His eyebrows rose,
but he was willing to accept her praise. She appeared to
have developed a fetish - he often did this exact thing
while he was working. The thought was flattering, and
very, very arousing.

Without a word he used a hand to touch the side of one of
her breasts. Her skin was incredibly soft. He ran his
fingers forward until they were resting over the aroused
peak of her breast.

"More," she rasped, pushing herself into his palm.

He was not averse to this plea; he gave her an obliging
squeeze. He let her nipple pop out between two of his
fingers, right above the webbing, and he contracted his
digits, trapping it there. He was satisfied to hear her
moan.

Her hands went to the fly of his jeans. He shivered when
her fingers brushed against his erection, straining to be
let loose from its confines.

The rasping of his zipper was overly loud in the silence of
the room. He clenched his teeth and forcibly kept from
crying out when she reached into the opening of his boxers
to stroke him and then pull him out.

His breathing was coming faster and faster as she ran her
fingers lightly up and down his length. She wet her lips
with her tongue. He was already hugely erect, but when he
saw her do that, he seriously thought for a moment that he
was going to embarrass himself. His dick twitched against
her hand.

She retreated, to grab hold of his jeans. "As good as you
look in these jeans, Mulder, I think I want them off now."
She was getting no argument from him. He waited for her to
remove his shoes and socks, then lifted his hips as she
pulled the heavy material down and off, flinging them
elsewhere.

"I think these have to go, too," she said without remorse.
She tucked his penis back in, and he helped her ease his
boxers off to join his pants.

Those things out of the way, she drew her face close to his
straining erection. He could feel her breath, hot and
moist on him as she paused there for a moment, seeming
content to look at him.

Meanwhile he was feverishly anticipating the touch of her
mouth. Even so, he jerked when he felt it; her lips at the
base of his cock, light but insistent, sucking at his skin.
His balls tightened to the point where it was almost
unbearable, and then she cupped them in one of her hands.

"I've never seen anything as beautiful as you," Scully
shared, beginning to lick him.

That's my line, he would have said if he had had the voice.

Finally, she had kissed and licked her way to the tip of
him. But where she would have taken him into her mouth, he
stopped her by jerking away.

"What's wrong?" she asked in confusion, a little hurt in
her voice. She could see as plain as he that his cock
twitching with desire and need. He told her with his eyes
that he was in no condition to be subjected to more than
one stimulus tonight; if she wanted her pleasure as well,
she would have to stop. She smiled in understanding; he in
relief.

She stood, stepping away, and hooked her thumbs into her
panties and slid them down, stepping out of them. Her
shoes went next, then her stockings, peeled slowly down the
length of her legs, making his mouth go dry and further
fueling the fire running rampant through his veins.

She motioned to step forward again, but he stood, towering
over her; she had lost the few inches of height her shoes
had afforded her. However, she didn't back down in any way
– she simply looked back up at him, full of strength and
resolve.

God, he loved her. It would scare her if she realized how
much.

He captured her mouth in a bruising kiss, trying to tell
her with his passion what he could not voice out loud. He
wanted her to know on at least one level what he felt.
Still kissing, they made their way over to the bed, falling
onto it gently.

He started to shrug out of his shirt but she stopped him.
"Leave it on, okay?" she implored breathlessly.

On, off, whatever – he was content having her in his arms.
He rested his weight on his hands as he braced himself over
her, devouring her with his lips and tongue and teeth.
From her mouth to her breasts, he left nothing untouched.

Suddenly and without warning, he forced her legs wide and
pushed himself into her. She was scalding heat and
moisture, enveloping him. He needed this. He needed her.
He belonged to her. She belonged to him...

She was more than ready for him. She was so wet, so hot,
and so incredibly tight that he couldn't stop his initial
invasion until she had taken all of him. He was buried in
her so deep, as far as he could go.

Moaning in surprise from his sudden and thorough entry, she
gripped at his shirt with both hands, lifting her hips for
a better angle of penetration.

Christ, she felt so good that it took all his concentration
not to come right then and there. He was gonna make this
as great for Scully as it was for him; that was the plan.
She still hadn't said why she had gone out with someone
else, but what mattered was that she was with him now. He
would use every opportunity he had to convince her that he
was all she would ever want or need, ever again.

His hips pumped against her in a rhythm he knew she liked,
if her breathless little panting was anything to go by.
She clawed his back with her nails, and he felt positively
triumphant at the twinge of pain he felt. His hipbones
ground against hers, their bodies slapping together in
fierce emotion.

He opened his eyes to glance down at her, and was a little
unnerved by the fact that she was openly looking at his
face, meeting his gaze unflinchingly.

She must have seen something there, some kind of bleak
need, because her next words cut him with their precision.
"Oh, Mulder," she whispered. "Don't you know I'm yours?"

He could not answer; he closed his eyes from the shock and
regret of having been read so easily. But then, this was
Scully – the only person who possessed such unfailing skill
where he was concerned.

"Mulder, Mulder," she murmured beneath him, letting go of
his shirt and instead placed her hands on the hard planes
of his chest, caressing him lovingly. Then, to his intense
dismay, she reached up and brushed away tears he hadn't
realized had fallen from beneath his lashes.

Tonight she was his; this much was true. But he wanted to
be with her every night, every day, until he drew his last
breath. He wanted to have that right; he wanted her to
want it too.

Feeling a sudden undeniable urge to brand her as his, as if
the very act of his body moving inside hers was not enough,
he lowered his lips to the soft skin of her neck. A
tangible mark, he decided, was just what was needed.

He nibbled softly at first, tasting the salt of her
perspiration there, reveling in the rapid beat of her heart
right below the skin. He never once faltered in his
actions – his lower body continued to move in an age-old
rhythm even as he sucked strongly on her neck.

When her climax hit, her inner muscles pulled at him and
milked him, and the sensation was so unbelievably
pleasurable that his first instinct was to clamp his teeth,
trapping her delicate skin there. She cried out even
louder, her whole body jerking up, forcing him in deep.

He regained the presence of mind to let go of the flesh on
her neck before he began ramming into her like a madman,
any pretense at finesse abandoned in favor of the need to
find his own release in her sweet depths.

At last, at last, he was coming hard, exploding into her
like a rocket, emptying into her until he was sure there
was not a drop left in his body.

He collapsed, spent, onto her, burying his face into the
hollow of her throat. He felt her twine her arms around
him, holding him tightly.

He was probably crushing her. Rolling off with some
reluctance, he couldn't help but be pleased by her little
mew of disappointment.

"Come on," he urged gently, pulling back the covers. His
voice sounded odd, low and hoarse, and it even felt a
little strange as the sounds found their way out of his
throat. He realized these were the first words he had
spoken since he had asked her how her date was. Damn, but
that felt like ages ago.

He wasn't sorry that that was the case. If he never felt
as miserable as he did only an hour ago ever again, it
would be fine by him. The time he had spent between
leaving her at the YMCA – plans for lunch had been cast
aside as he'd stalked out, angry and hurt – and seeing her
arrive home alone had been some of the most wretched hours
he had ever spent. And considering the horrors he had
seen, some experienced first-hand, that was saying
something.

He took a moment to strip off his shirt, and then they
slipped quickly under the covers, both reaching for each
other and cuddling close. He was bathed in her scent, and
he took a deep breath to get it all in. God, he loved
sleeping here with her. He felt surrounded by her, secure
and wanted.

The important thing about tonight was that she had chosen
him over Bruschard and a "normal" life. He knew she
wouldn't have come home alone if she hadn't chosen to. He
would have to be more careful in the future about the
dangers that threatened to take her away from him. He had
prevailed. This time.

"What are you thinking?" Her arm was slung possessively
across his chest; he rather liked it.

"Um...do you know if the Redskins won their game today?"
Oh, that's classic. Use humor as a defense mechanism, his
psychology training mocked.

She stiffened, then let out a huff of outrage before she
sighed – in understanding if not acceptance. "They didn't
play today," she stated flatly.

He began hesitantly, "I was thinking..." Just say it, you
coward. Scully, I love you and want to sleep with you in
this bed everyday for the rest of our natural lives.

"Yeah?" she prompted, yawning.

"I was thinking..." He faltered again. He couldn't do it;
he was too afraid of the possible consequences. She might
make him leave, and that was the last thing he wanted to
do. He didn't want to do anything that would jeopardize
his chances of sleeping next to her tonight. It was a sure
thing right now; if he said anything to alarm her, that
could change in a heartbeat.

"...that it's real nice being here," he finished finally.
What a gift with words you have, his inner voice said
sarcastically. "Real nice" – that was the understatement
of the century.

Scully didn't seem particularly disturbed by his choice of
words, however. She only snuggled in closer. He glanced
down at her, her head resting on his shoulder. Her eyes
were closed, and he spied a small smile touch her mouth.

"It is nice, isn't it?" she agreed, sounding drowsy.
Within moments, he could tell that she was asleep.

Delicately, he brushed her hair back from her face,
caressing the strands lovingly. He wanted to tell her he
loved her, and he would - just as soon as he could be sure
that she would reciprocate the sentiment and not leave him
holding the pieces of his shredded heart in his hands.

He knew that she knew he loved her – as her best friend and
her partner. But she didn't know that he was =in= love
with her, and there was a world of difference.

If only he wasn't so damnably chickenshit. If only things
were as black and white as they had meant them to be and
rules and lines were easily adhered to and emotions were
easily controlled. If only he wasn't so fucking scared of
losing her. If only he was all doped up again, so the
drugs would loosen his tongue up. If only this situation
wasn't completely different from that time, and the words
didn't mean so much more.

If only he could stop with the "if only"s and grab life by
the balls for once and tell the woman he loved how he felt.
For once in his miserable life, reach out for happiness
instead of push it away.

"I...I love you, Scully." His voice cracked on the
delivery, but he had done it. He had vocalized his
feelings for her in her presence. He took a deep breath
and let it out slowly, to calm his racing heart. Christ,
even his palms felt sweaty. He noticed that the hand of
the arm around her small shoulders was tracing nervous
patterns on her skin. He forced himself to stop.

He heard the steady rhythm of her breathing as she slept
on, and he stared morosely at the ceiling. That was good;
good job, he told himself. Now if only he could do it
while she was actually conscious.

~~~~~~~~

Scully's Apartment
September 15
10:18 a.m.

He woke with an erection and Scully spooned up against him.
There was only one logical thing to do.

Wrapping both arms around her just under her breasts, he
kissed the top of her head in a morning greeting, sure she
was still sleeping.

Slowly, he moved a hand up to one plump breast, and
caressed it until he felt the nipple harden against his
fingers. He then performed the same task on its twin, and
Scully shifted against him. He stifled a groan as her soft
little ass rubbed against the rigid length of his shaft.

His hand trailed down from her breasts over the firm
muscles of her abs, into the thatch of curls shielding the
part of Scully where he wanted to be most at the moment.

He tested the waters and nearly growled with satisfaction.
She was wet and ready. He glanced down at the top of her
sleeping head. Maybe she wouldn't even notice. He'd be
quick – no sense in troubling her.

He closed his eyes and let out a silent groan when she
enveloped him into her slick depths. He grabbed her leg,
dragging it back over his hip as he continued to move
gently in and out.

His breaths grew shallower and more urgent as he thrust.
The strain of being gentle and unobtrusive was tiring him
out; he halted his motions to gather strength.

"Why are you stopping?" she murmured, pushing back against
him.

All right, so he hadn't really believed she would stay
asleep during the whole thing. But he felt guilty, anyway.
"Sorry, Scully," he said, his morning voice rough and low.

She twisted to face him, beautiful in her half-asleep
state. "Mulder, as much as I love this position, I want to
see you," she said.

He obligingly slipped out of her so that she could settle
onto her back before she pulled him between her legs again.
He pushed back inside without missing a heartbeat, feeling
inexplicably relieved to be in her again.

His movements had just started again when the phone rang.
Shit, it was Sunday – it was probably Scully's mother.
Scully, however, made no motion to pick it up.

"Shouldn't you get that?" he groaned.

He continued to thrust, and she said in between breathy
little gasps, "Very...funny...Mulder."

"No, I mean it," he gasped in response. His thrusts grew
arrhythmic as he tried to halt his body's natural
instincts, but he found it difficult to stop completely.

His hips stilled by the fourth ring of the phone. It was
Mrs. Scully, he was sure of it. For some reason the idea
that Scully should ignore her mother because of him was
incredibly wrong.

He ignored her dumbfounded look as he reached over a little
ways to the cordless phone sitting on her bed stand.

"What are you doing?" she cried, jerking her hips up to
encourage him to begin the mating rhythm once more.

"Scully," he gasped at the movement. "What if it's your
mother?" Which it almost certainly was. He knew that Mrs.
Scully regularly called her daughter around this time on
Sundays, after she returned from church.

"Mulder," she began, "I can call her ba – hello?" He had
pressed the receiver to her ear and pressed 'talk' before
she could finish her sentence.

Still gasping for breath, he lowered his head onto the
pillow, resting his cheek against it, facing away from her.
He hoped their conversation wouldn't be too long. He
didn't have unlimited reserves of willpower.

His hair was damp from the sweat generated by their morning
exertions. They were both sticky with perspiration, but
the feel of her skin rubbing against his was simply divine.

He felt her run a hand down the length of his back in a
gentle caress. She rested the tips of her fingers into the
dip of his spine, and he couldn't quite stop from rubbing
against her.

"Hello?" he heard her repeat.

His lower body was tense as he forced himself not to start
thrusting again. When she tightened her vaginal muscles
for just a second to tease him, he decided that she was
evil. He let out a tortured groan.

He concentrated on taking deep, even breaths. It was an
unbelievable feeling to be lying so still inside her, her
inner muscles gripping him tight, while he tried to keep
from moving.

"Hi, Troy," he heard her say. What the hell? Why was that
asshole calling her? He remembered that she'd never said
what exactly had happened last night.

So he hadn't come home with her, so what. Scully wasn't
the type to sleep with a man on a first date. What about
Ed Jerse? his mind taunted. She was pissed at me then, he
responded defensively. And besides, he was fairly certain
she hadn't slept with Jerse. She was pissed at you
yesterday, too. Whatever – but she hadn't done it. He was
the one in bed with her. He was the one =in= her.

Then why the fuck was she on the phone with Bruschard?
That asshole was the reason he'd postponed both of their
climaxes?

As much as it killed him, Mulder listened to her sweet
voice talking to the other man. He had to know if it meant
something.

"It's so good to hear from you," she fairly purred. He
jerked his head up sharply in an involuntary gesture to
look at her. The look of smug satisfaction on her face
quieted some of his worries. In fact, he was positively
elated. She was just teasing him.

Oh, what a wonderful feeling relief was.

"Uh huh," she said. Mulder felt his brows draw together.
What could they possibly be talking about? In his mind the
conversation was clear. Bruschard: Let's go out again.
Scully: No, thank you, and please don't call me again. I'm
being fucked senseless by the only man I'll ever want.

Mulder almost smiled.

"Get off the phone," he murmured into her ear, taking her
earlobe between his teeth.

She looked at him with wide eyes, questioning with mock
innocence why she would want to do that.

Oh, so it was going to be like that, was it? Two could
play at this game. He never took his eyes from hers as he
raised himself up again.

Moving his hips slowly, he dragged himself out of her, then
just as slowly pushed back in till he was buried to the
hilt.

He heard her voice catch on her sentence. This was even
better, he thought. Making love to Scully with that
bastard on the phone, claiming what was his in a primitive
display of possession.

The fact that Bruschard wasn't aware of the slight only
added to the satisfaction of doing it. Bastard.

And, of course, there was Scully, who obviously wanted to
provoke him. Perhaps into doing exactly this. Mulder
couldn't keep back the grin.

She grabbed one of his shoulders, trying to push him back.
There was a slightly panicked look in her eyes and a
becoming flush to her cheeks.

*No* she mouthed, then her breath hitched and her eyes
rolled back as he disregarded her request and surged forth
again.

"Hang up," he rasped softly.

She shook her head and mumbled something into the phone.
She returned his gaze stubbornly, determination gleaming in
her eyes.

He shrugged and tried to hide his amusement. He'd been
playing nice, but obviously she had underestimated his
resolve. He began to move again, this time a little
faster.

She swallowed; he saw her trying to control her response by
gulping her breaths. "I...don't know," she responded into
the receiver, in a voice that was barely there.

His next thrust was a little harder than its predecessors,
and she let out an involuntary sound of surprise. She
shook her head frantically as his thrusts grew stronger and
faster in pace, but the legs that had tightened around his
waist, keeping him to her, belied the negative gestures of
her upper body.

He felt a familiar tightening in his cock as his body
prepared for release. His eyes slipped shut, his lower
body driving into hers with a single purpose. He no longer
cared about Bruschard; Scully couldn't be too interested in
the guy when she actively participated in his humiliation –
and she was definitely active now, raising her hips to
deepen his penetration, clawing at him with her free hand.

The bed rocked and squeaked with the force of his efforts.
He didn't even realize she had apparently hung up the phone
until he heard it unceremoniously drop to the floor with a
muffled thud.

"F-finish your con...ver...sa...tion?" he managed to gasp
in between thrusts.

"Ah...sort of," she responded, sounding decidedly out of
breath. "I don't think he'll be calling back," she
finished in a rush.

"Why?" Don't come yet. Don't come yet.

"I think...the sound effects were...too much for him. I...
tried to...stop - " She sounded contrite. Then she was
thrashing against him, her nails digging into his ass as he
moved frenetically against her. Her gasps of encouragement
echoed in his ears.

The knowledge that Bruschard had actually =heard= Scully
fucking him danced around gleefully in Mulder's mind,
making the inevitable arrive that much sooner.

A few more rapid thrusts and he was gone, shooting into her
with unbelievable force. He was dimly aware of the
movements of his body; his mind was on another plane of
existence. He felt as though he were floating, floating
high in a place where nothing and no one existed but
himself and the woman in his arms.

"Mulder," he heard Scully calling. "Mulder, come back to
me."

Gradually his heartbeat slowed enough that blood was
allowed to rush back into his brain. He was aware of the
stickiness between his legs and that he was still ensconced
inside her. His hair was flopping over his forehead in
damp strands and his arms ached from holding himself up.
His eyes refocused and he saw her precious, familiar face.
"I'm here, Scully," he said. "I'm here."

~~~~~~~~
Chapter Thirteen
~~~~~~~~

Madhatter's Bar
Washington, D.C.
September 29
10:54 p.m.

It was Sunday night and everyone had work or school the
next day, but not one of the many patrons of the bar seemed
too concerned.

The push and shove of the bodies determined to be next
served by the bartender, the dim lighting easy on bloodshot
eyes, the din of the crowd as people raised their voices to
be heard by their companions over the people at the next
table – all this served to provide Mulder with the sense of
anonymity he sought. He took refuge in the crowd, the
noise, the complete lack of concern over who he was or why
he was there.

The cacophony of the many voices around him helped to dull
the ones in his head, suppressing painful memories. But no
matter what he did, one voice continued to ring clearly.
It was both the one he wanted to silence the most and the
one he welcomed despite the pain it brought.

Mulder stared, unseeing, at the tabletop. He didn't
acknowledge the other three occupants of the booth.

"Hey buddy, I think you've had enough." Frohike plucked
the shot glass from Mulder's unresisting fingers.

His reaction was delayed. "Hey, fuck you," Mulder was
provoked into snarling. "Who the hell do you think you
are, my mother?" Waking from his stupor, he signaled the
server for another round.

"Luckily, I didn't commit =that= many sins in my past
life," Frohike retorted.

Mulder buried his head into the crook of his arm, which was
resting on the table. He heard the Gunmen talking, but
didn't care enough – and wasn't sober enough – to
participate. Scully's voice resounded in his ears, despite
the racket of dozens of drunk people. He kept hearing her
tell him that it was all over. He wasn't able to suppress
the small whimper that issued from his throat.

"Man, if he starts to cry again, I'm gonna start bawling,
myself," Langly asserted. He and Frohike were seated
across from Mulder and Byers.

Mulder thought he heard his name being called by a
familiar, beloved voice. It didn't matter that she'd so
recently hurt him; his heart leapt in hope. "Scully?" He
lifted his head. Seeing that his partner was nowhere to be
found, he resumed his former position. His vision swam a
little, and he closed his eyes.

The conversation continued over his prone form; he heard
the words but didn't process their meaning.

"Have we ever seen him this bad?" That was Byers.

"How about five years ago?" Frohike suggested under his
breath. "She was missing." Then, loudly, "Come on, you
lush. Trying to drink yourself into an early grave?
Taking the coward's way out?"

Mulder only realized he was the one being addressed when
the question was followed by a hard punch to his arm. He
barely felt it.

She had left him.

Not completely – she =had= said they could remain friends.
Or something like that. Scully was not above using trite
phrases when it suited her purpose. Apparently, breaking
his heart didn't warrant original phrasing. He'd been
reduced to a chore. He could just see it in her Dayplanner
– 10:30 a.m. Work out at the gym. 11:45 a.m. Rip out
Mulder's guts. 12:00 p.m. Lunch.

She'd been utterly uncomfortable the whole time, seemingly
oblivious to the fact that the words spilling out of her
mouth had cut him deeper and deeper until he was sure he
was bleeding right before her eyes.

He didn't blame her for not looking at him. He supposed he
had made a rather pathetic sight. He'd known that she
hadn't enjoyed hurting him, but she had obviously wanted to
get away from him as soon as the distasteful deed was done,
so he'd let her go. She didn't like messes.

"It won't change our working relationship," she'd said.
She was determined that their partnership would be as
strong as always.

That was something, he supposed. At one time, it would
have been everything.

Now, however, he knew exactly what he was missing and he
would mourn that loss for the rest of his life. She had
rejected him even before he had been able to offer himself
properly. Before he could lay his life at her feet and say
that it was hers. Now he would never have that chance. It
was still true, but she didn't want to hear it – and that
knowledge hurt in the most agonizing way.

She'd made her wants clear. She had pushed him away, and
it was obvious that that was where she wanted him to stay.
She was more out of reach to him now than before they'd
even become physically intimate.

He had no one to blame but himself. He'd lost her, and it
was the result of his own greed and stupidity.

Their server returned with another round of drinks, but
Byers quickly put them out of Mulder's reach and asked for
four glasses of water.

"Whatever it is, it can't be that bad," Byers said. He
sounded confident. "You've got to quit with this self-
pity."

"Yeah, man, you're getting us all down," Langly chimed in,
obviously new to the act of offering comfort.

Mulder ignored them. He hadn't wanted them here in the
first place. All he'd wanted was to drink his mind into
oblivion and find a cold, dark place to hide. There was
nothing left for him now, nothing but an agonizing pain
where his life used to beat.

He had failed. He'd had a chance to make Scully fall in
love with him and he'd blown it. The idea that he could
=make= her do anything was preposterous, of course, but he
had hoped a little persuasion would help. He'd allowed
himself to hope, and for that, too, he was to blame. The
pain he felt now was of his own making. That fact didn't
dull the hurt, but at least it helped him focus his
resentment. It wasn't Scully's fault she wasn't in love
with him.

And if alcohol would numb his ache, if it would send him
away from a world in which Scully did not want him, he
embraced the cure.

He'd wanted more than he had a right to. He should have
been content with what he'd already been blessed - he was
the one she spent time with, he was the one she trusted.

In fact, Mulder had made himself indispensable to her,
slowly but surely cutting other people out of her life
until he was all that was left. Her only friend.

She had gone along willingly with this, he knew. Scully
was not a woman to be manipulated. She had made her own
decisions. Still, he had to admit that he had stacked the
odds in his favor. He had made it difficult for her to do
anything but turn to him.

At first, he didn't even recognize that he was doing it.
He would entice her with cases, knowing she enjoyed the
challenge. He would deliberately provoke her, knowing how
she liked to prove him wrong. At times, he would even grab
for the most outlandish, far-fetched theory possible,
because he enjoyed seeing that look of incredulity on her
face. And because he knew that it kept her with him.

When he'd finally realized what he was doing, it was too
late. He was addicted to her like a drug addict to a fix
and couldn't stop it anymore. There was no turning back,
nor did he want to. He fed his addiction.

It started with simple touches. Invasion of personal
space. Days, months, years went by and he got bolder.
Double entendres he half-hoped she would take seriously and
half-hoped she wouldn't. Verbal declarations of his
feelings that he felt safe uttering because he knew she
wouldn't believe him. And aching, always aching to touch
her.

Some days, it'd been all he could do to keep his hands to
himself. It was inevitable that a day would come when the
temptation was too much, and when that day arrived, he'd
given in with no real hardship. It had been surprisingly
easy to get her to let him sleep in her bed. Then, perhaps
it wasn't so surprising. Scully had a big heart, and she
cared about him. He used to have nightmares a lot; she'd
probably thought she was bringing him a little comfort, a
little rest.

Mulder never had nightmares when he was sleeping next to
Scully. He wouldn't deny that that was a blissful thing.
But it wasn't his primary motivation in seeking her bed.
Mostly, he'd just wanted the intimacy. He'd taken
advantage of her kindness. He'd only felt slightly guilty
about it at the time. Now he was paying for his sins.

She'd given him all of these things, and what had he done?
He'd held these precious gifts in his hands and thought of
what =else= he could have. His avarice deserved to be
punished.

"You guys get into a fight or something?" Langly asked.

He didn't want to talk about Scully. And especially not
with them. In spite of everything, he only wanted to talk
to =her=.

"Don't get yourself so down, buddy," Frohike said. "You
and I both know that come tomorrow, you two'll have made up
and be attached at the hip again."

Was that how people saw them, as being attached at the hip?
They weren't, were they? It was more like he had a vice-
grip on Scully and wouldn't let go. He was reminded of the
more literal times they had been attached at the hip,
moving together in a universal dance. Wonderful,
exhilarating moments he was not to experience again.

Mulder would not be consoled. They didn't understand. How
could they? They didn't know how badly he had screwed it
up this time. Things would never be the same, and it was
all his fault.

He knew that letting his emotions get the better of him
last weekend had been a huge mistake. He'd expressed his
feelings for her with the most primitive of emotions –
jealousy. She'd recognized it and had comforted him,
because she was Scully.

He'd hoped desperately that she would overlook his
behavior. Everything had seemed all right; he'd gotten out
of her hair the next morning as soon as he was able to bear
leaving, but obviously, the damage had been done. She'd
been distant the whole week and yesterday it had all come
crashing down.

He should've just stayed home, let her go out with
Bruschard – nothing had happened there, anyway. But no –
he'd gone and flipped out, sitting outside her apartment
waiting for her like some damn stalker. The fact that
she'd taken it well only served to make him feel like an
even bigger asshole.

"She deserves better than me," he mumbled sorrowfully. He
sat up, but his shoulders still drooped. He couldn't seem
to lift them for the weight they held.

"Hell, we all know =that=," Frohike chortled.

Normally, Mulder would have shot back an equally biting
response, but this time his friend's joking response left
him deflated.

"Will you shut up?" Langly demanded, glaring at Frohike.
"I'm telling you, I do not want to see this man cry again."

It didn't even bother him that he'd been blubbering into
his cups when they'd found him nearly an hour earlier. Who
cared about appearances? The one person he wanted to care
about him decidedly didn't. He didn't know how they'd
found him, and at the time, hadn't cared enough to ask.

Now, however, he found himself curious. Drunken oblivion
still beckoned, but it wasn't going anywhere. He'd be
there soon enough, but for now, he found himself
distracted. He supposed he ought to be relieved; he was,
instead, somewhat irritated. He =wanted= to sink away into
comforting darkness, but this question begged an answer.

"How'd you know I'd be here?" he questioned suspiciously.
His head was starting to hurt – not a good sign. It meant
he either needed to drink more or find the nearest bed and
crash. He planned on doing the latter, but not before he'd
done plenty of the former.

"Ah – " Frohike began, then stopped. The three cronies
looked distinctly uncomfortable. They were hiding
something.

Byers was the first to offer an explanation. "We come in
here now and again. We were just as surprised to see you
as you were to see us."

Right. "Try again," Mulder suggested.

Frohike and Langly erupted into what appeared to be a
difference of opinion, talking in low, urgent voices. Both
were obviously irritated.

Mulder sighed, resting his head in his hands, and wondered
when they were going to leave so he could kill his brain
cells in peace. The throbbing in his head had worsened,
his eyes felt dry and bloodshot, and he desperately wanted
to quench the thirst in his mouth. Preferably with a few
shots of tequila.

The argument only got more heated and didn't seem as if it
would be resolved soon. Ask a simple question... Mulder
let it continue for a few moments longer while Byers tried
to shut the other two up, but then he distinctly heard
Frohike say, "She asked that we not say anything!"

"She?" Mulder interrupted forcefully. Who else could 'she'
be? "Scully?"

Frohike looked tight-lipped while Langly looked triumphant.
"=You= gave it away," Langly said smugly.

"Look – " Frohike turned to Mulder. "Don't say anything,
okay? We were asked that you not be told." He glared at
Langly.

Mulder hated himself for the joy that bloomed in his chest.
Reality quickly squashed it. "She wanted you to check up
on me? See if I had blown my brains out yet?" Letting the
bitterness seep through was almost a relief.

He'd been bottling his anguish, his hurt, his sorrow inside
– he hadn't realized that it had needed expression. He
supposed he could have written in his journal, but the
sight of it now disgusted him, pained him. In it he had
spilled all of his hopes, all of his dreams for Scully and
himself. It reminded him of what a pathetic idiot he was.

"She wanted to make sure you were all right," Frohike said,
not bothering to hide the note of censure in his voice.
"What'd you do to her, anyway?"

Mulder was incredulous. "What did...what did =I= do to
=her=?"

The water arrived. Byers placed a glass into Mulder's hand
and he automatically gripped it. Realizing what it was, he
grimaced and let go. He needed something a lot stronger
than H2O.

Frohike frowned. "Look, I don't know what happened between
you two, but she didn't sound good. She asked us to look
for you, make sure you were okay."

"How did she sound?" Mulder latched onto the detail,
wanting to hear anything about Scully.

"Like I said, not good," Frohike replied gruffly.

Of course. He was being stupid. Scully was sensitive and
caring. She knew he was hurting and probably a danger to
himself. So she'd called the guys to check up on him, make
sure he wasn't doing anything foolish.

She couldn't risk finding him herself, of course. She knew
he'd read too much into it, maybe have the breakdown he'd
been so successful at containing in her presence in his
apartment.

"She sounded like she'd been crying," Frohike added
reluctantly.

What did it say about him that he was elated by this news?
"Oh?" Mulder asked casually. He hoped it was true. Maybe
she had changed her mind about what she'd said? Maybe she
was regretting what she'd done?

His tone apparently raised Frohike's hackles. The other
man stated, almost angrily, "Yeah. She did. So let me ask
you again: what the fuck did you do to her?"

Mulder was immediately defensive, but the feeling died
quickly. Scully may have been the one to end things, but
the deterioration of their relationship certainly wasn't
her fault. He'd been the one to push her into something
she didn't want and hadn't asked for.

He'd promised one thing, all the while deceiving her,
manipulating her into accepting him in her life as a
friend, a partner, a lover. He'd wanted to be everything
to her. He'd probably been smothering her. No wonder she
had wanted to be free of him.

"We just..." He stopped. There was no way to explain
things except to reveal all, and he couldn't do that.
There had been an unspoken agreement that what he and
Scully were – had been – to each other, was between them
and them only. "Nothing," he said dully. "Everything's
just as they should be." He swallowed the lump in his
throat.

"Ah, bullshit," Frohike said bluntly. "That's why you're
practically crying tequila. Sure."

Mulder was silent. There was nothing else to say. He just
wanted them to go the fuck away now.

He ought to be celebrating the fact that she hadn't booted
him out of her life for good. He should be celebrating
what he still had. However, the urge to mourn what he had
lost was too strong, so that's what he was doing.

Perhaps she was mourning, too. If she was, he might still
have a chance...

"You're an idiot."

Mulder was startled enough to stop staring at the tabletop
and meet Frohike's gaze. Mulder blinked, then sighed. "I
know."

"No, I really mean it. You're an idiot."

All right, now he was starting to take exception. He
looked at his friend balefully. "I heard you the first
time. I agreed."

"But not for the same reasons. Look, it's obvious
something happened. You had an argument, whatever, and now
you're sitting here feeling sorry for yourself, when what
you really should be doing is talking to Scully."

God, even the mention of her name hurt, at the same time he
wanted to hear it again. He was a sick, masochistic
bastard.

"She doesn't want to talk to me," he said hollowly.

There was a moment of silence, then Frohike said, "I hope
you're not serious." He exchanged looks with Byers. "It
was pretty obvious to me that she wanted to talk to you
herself, but thought you'd be more receptive to the likes
of us."

"She wanted to talk to me?" He despised himself for the
hope he heard in his voice. He was being ridiculous,
overly optimistic. What did they know?

Frohike rolled his eyes. "Uh – yeah. You're the =only=
one she ever wants to talk to. You =know= that. You're a
bastard for making me say it. So pardon me if I don't feel
overly sorry for you."

"Well, right now I'm the last person she wants to talk to."
He hoped he was lying; he hoped his companions would
continue to feed the flame of hope he felt burning in his
chest.

"You don't believe that any more than we do," Byers replied
in a calm voice.

Was that true? There was no doubt that yesterday he had
been in a very bad place. He'd gone into an anguished fit
after she'd left - throwing things, kicking furniture,
knocking things over, before finally crying himself into an
exhausted, fitful sleep. When he'd woken it had been dark
outside.

That night – God, it had only been last night - he'd been a
zombie, sitting on his couch, staring off into space, using
his eidetic memory to recall every moment he'd shared with
her over the last seven years, focusing most intently on
the last few months. Dawn had arrived. He'd barely
noticed, still lost in his memories. He'd fallen asleep
sometime before noon, he guessed, and when he'd opened his
eyes again his first thought had been that he really needed
a drink.

He'd gotten to Madhatter's just after seven, and had still
been there when the Gunmen had found him.

Mulder had thought that his despair was irreversible, too
deeply embedded inside to ever be wrenched free. But
apparently when it came to Scully, his heart knew no
despair. It would always hold hope.

His mind recalled Scully's behavior in the past two and
half months in flashes of memory. Her insistence on the
formation of the rules. The sight of her beautiful face as
she'd made love to him with her mouth. Getting emotional
and hiding in her shower for ages when they had made love
while on a case. Looking at him with wide, wounded eyes
before accepting a date with Bruschard. The way she'd
ended things with him, unable to meet his gaze, and then
afterward, leaving so quickly. The fact that she'd asked
the Gunmen to make sure he was all right.

Every one of those actions had meant something different to
him when they had happened. Now, putting them into
perspective, looking at each event as part of a greater
whole, he realized they all had one thing in common: they
spoke of deeper, hidden feelings. If he hadn't been so
busy trying to act casual and indifferent around her, he
might have seen that sooner. They'd been cracks in her
defensive armor. He realized now that he might not have
been the only one presenting a front.

Mulder stared into his glass of water, concentrating. A
review of the facts was necessary. He was certain that she
didn't know he was in love with her. If she'd known, he
would have been afforded more pity. He had been a little
too convincing in his nonchalance – and she had been a
little too willing to believe. Ironic, he thought with a
wry twist of his lips, that this would be the time she
would choose to believe him.

If she didn't know his feelings, she couldn't be repulsed
by them. That didn't mean that if she =did= know, she
wouldn't be, but he wouldn't dwell on that for the moment.
It wasn't why she'd broken things off, and that's what he
needed to discern. It would have been a possibility, but
now there was only two other reasonable explanations for
why she had felt the need to end their physical intimacy.

One would be that she had simply tired of it. If that was
the case, there was nothing he could do. Yet he didn't
believe that her passion for him had dissipated. Their
last sexual encounter had been as full of passion as it had
been from the start – and she had initiated it. In spite
of his brooding, possessive behavior, she had welcomed him
into her arms and her bed. It'd been his own mortification
of his actions that had sent him fleeing from her apartment
– not hers.

The other explanation was the one he hardly dared let
himself entertain – that Scully loved him in return, loved
him with the same mindless, breathtaking, uncontrollable
feeling that he did her. Which meant that she had done
what she'd done out of a desire to keep herself from being
hurt. It pained him not a little that the woman he loved
believed she had to protect herself from him.

It seemed so clear-cut. Obvious. Yet had it always been
so apparent? Or had the reality of losing her combined
with Dutch courage enabled perception skills that had been
overwhelmed by doubt and fear?

The idea that they had both been hiding things – feelings –
from one another struck Mulder as both ironic and deeply
distressing. If he was wrong, then so be it. But he
wasn't about to let pride and misunderstanding throw away
what he had with Scully.

It was up to him to make things right, if in fact things
were wrong. He wouldn't lie to her anymore; he would come
clean with the truth and take the consequences like a man.
He had always told her the truth, and now realized how
wrong it had been of him to keep this from her for so long.

If she =was= in love with him, she was probably trying like
hell to fall out of it. He certainly couldn't let that
happen. Lucky for him, falling out of love wasn't a thing
easily accomplished; he ought to know. And of course it
wouldn't be for Scully, either, whose loyalties were fierce
and unwavering. She was so strong...protective...loving.

All of a sudden it hurt to breathe. He didn't belong here.
It wasn't right that he was in a bar indulging his sorrows
when he could be striving for the greatest joy he would
ever know. He ought to be with Scully.

"I've got to go," Mulder said abruptly. He picked up the
glass of water and gulped it down thirstily. His headache
was now only a slight ache behind his eyes. The rushing
adrenaline in his system allowed him to barely notice it.
He felt wide-awake and more alive than he had felt in days.
When the one glass was gone and he still felt thirsty he
grabbed Byers' glass and downed it, too.

His friends watched his actions with open-mouthed
amazement; yes, it was quite a change from his quiet
contemplation just moments before. He'd thrown some bills
on the table and was out of his seat before his companions
had even realized he was going.

"You can't drive in your condition," Frohike said, dogging
his heels. "Wait!"

Mulder shrugged off the restraining hand. Not a difficult
thing, considering how much taller he was than the other
man. He had to see Scully.

He pushed past the throng of people, jostling alcoholic
beverages in hands, and earning glares from the bar's
patrons as he rudely shoved past. He ignored them all. He
had to get to Scully, and all these people were in the way.

He heard Byers call, "Mulder! Let one of us drive you!"

Mulder ignored that. He felt perfectly sober, certainly
enough to operate a car.

The night was cold, the wind whipping up something fierce.
There was a thickness in the air, and Mulder thought
absently that it forebode rain.

Getting into his car, he drove quickly to his place, doing
ninety on the freeway, and on the surface streets he ran
several reds and ignored stop signs. It was wasting a lot
of time to drive from downtown Washington to Alexandria
back to Georgetown, but there was no help for it. There
was something he had to get. Fortunately, the local cops
weren't out in force tonight.

Once in his apartment, he scrambled around frantically,
looking for the leather-bound book. The place was a mess.
The last time he'd seen it, he'd hurled it away from him in
a fit of rage. He hadn't wanted to be reminded of what the
journal contained, what he'd written on the pages like a
lovesick puppy.

There it was. He could see its black edge poking out from
beneath a trail of paper and magazines. It was askew, open
to a random page where it had fallen. He bent and
retrieved it quickly, noting that some of the pages were
bent and wrinkled. His bold black scrawl filled half of
it. He was out the door two seconds later.

It was drizzling, but Mulder hardly noticed. He drove
determinedly to Georgetown, focused on only one thought.
He would be with Scully soon. His heart beat excitedly
within his chest, knowing that he would be in her presence
shortly. He would get to see her bright, beautiful face
and breathe in her wonderful scent. And he would get to
talk to her. He would get to tell her that he loved her.
His car quickly ate up the miles.

About two miles from her apartment, two things occurred in
quick succession that nearly undid all of his plans. The
drizzle had gradually grown stronger, and at that point,
the heavens opened up in a sudden torrential onslaught of
rain. Not long after that, his car died. Luckily he'd
noticed something amiss and had pulled off to the side of
the road before it became fully nonfunctional.

He cursed, trying the ignition again. Nothing. This was a
bad omen. Perhaps he was making a big mistake. Maybe the
fates were trying to tell him that this was not the time to
confront Scully with his feelings, no matter what his heart
craved. Maybe he was wrong and she didn't want to see him.
Maybe the idea that she actually reciprocated his feelings
was only a pipe dream.

Mulder contemplated for a moment, doubt beginning to seep
in. He thought he had perfectly good reason for going over
to Scully's – but he'd been drunk. Did his reasoning
=really= make sense or was it only the ramblings of someone
who'd had one too many shots of tequila?

His gaze caught the gas gauge and he almost grinned in his
relief. It wasn't fate working against him - it was only
his own idiocy at work again. The car was dead for a
reason no more complicated or nefarious than because it was
simply out of gas.

He got out of the car, the rain slanting down mercilessly
upon the streets of DC. He tucked the journal close to his
body, protecting it as best he could.

It was only twenty minutes. He would run.

~~~~~~~~

Scully's Apartment
September 29
11:01 p.m.

There was something comfortingly methodical about doing
laundry. No strenuous thought processes were required of
her, yet it kept her busy and helped pass the time.

Scully sorted the most recent load after tossing everything
onto her neatly made bed, folding up articles of clothing
with systematic precision. She set aside the items that
needed to be ironed.

The wait was excruciating. Frohike, why haven't you
called? Haven't you found him yet?

She needed the distraction to keep herself from looking at
the clock every two minutes. She'd gotten it down to about
every five minutes now.

Earlier, she had needed some kind of diversion from
thinking about Mulder at all, and she'd spent the entire
day finding things to do in order not to dwell on those
hurtful thoughts.

Lunch and some shopping with her mother had taken care of a
large part of the day. Once or twice she had zoned out
from the conversation and returned only to find her mother
looking at her strangely. She'd quickly covered up, citing
exhaustion for her lack of concentration.

After those slip-ups, she'd determined not to arouse any
more suspicion from her mother, and to do all she could to
distract herself from thoughts of Mulder.

She'd suggested that she and her mother have dinner
together as well, desperately needing someone else with
her, keeping her attention from straying into forbidden
territory.

Time alone was too dangerous, too tempting.

That was proved two hours ago when she had returned to her
apartment after dinner. She'd given in to the impulse that
had plagued her all day, and dialed Mulder's number. Her
heart had been in her throat; what would she say? Why was
she really calling? In the end, her jitters had been for
naught – he hadn't picked up. Either he wasn't home or he
wasn't picking up his phone; she'd still wanted to make
sure he was all right.

In a way, she felt relief. Hearing Mulder's voice might
very well snap the thread of control she was so tenuously
holding on to.

So she'd called the Gunmen instead. It had been a rather
rash decision; she probably shouldn't have gotten them
involved, but at the time it had seemed necessary. She
needed to know.

Frohike had answered. She'd asked him, hesitantly, to
check up on Mulder for her. Such a request had immediately
roused all sorts of questions about Mulder's safety,
whether something had happened, if he had gotten himself
into some kind of trouble. She had declined to answer.
"Would you find him for me, please?" she'd implored. "I
know it's a lot to ask...but it's very important. Please
tell me as soon as you know he's all right."

Perhaps it was something in her tone that quieted any
further inquisition. There had been a beat of silence
before Frohike had answered, "I care about him, too.
Consider it done; I know of a few places he might be."

That had been over two hours ago. Since then, she had done
two loads of laundry, the bookshelves and countertops had
been dusted, the kitchen was sparkling, and there wasn't a
single piece of furniture out of place. The apartment was
immaculate, and she was fast running out of things to do.

She needed distractions to keep herself from worrying.
Time was passing by at an unbearably slow rate, and more
and more, she was allowing herself to remember the events
of the day before. The worry of not knowing if Mulder was
safe allowed memories to seep in...she was no longer able
to solely concentrate on =not= thinking about him as she
had previously done.

Scully dragged out the ironing board. Filling the iron
with a bit of water for steam, she plugged it into an
electrical outlet. While she waited for it to heat, she
sorted the wrinkled clothing into an order in which she
would iron. The folded clothing she put into the
appropriate drawers, the towels and sheets into the linen
closet, and what needed to be hung up was efficiently
speared by hangers and placed in her spacious closet.

The one thing she had not done was vacuum, because she was
afraid the noise would keep her from hearing the phone
ring.

Once the iron was ready, she took the first item – a shirt
– and diligently began to press out the wrinkles. A billow
of steam rose up to bathe her face in the heated
evaporation, but instead of turning away she remained where
she was, letting it hover over her. She welcomed the
moistness now condensing onto her skin; she pretended for a
moment that it was she who was bringing herself this wet
relief.

She ignored the dryness of her eyes. It was an odd and
frustrating thing, but she had not been able to cry. The
aching tightness in her chest begged for release, but
curiously she had not been able to shed any tears.

Prior to the official end of their physical relationship,
Scully had cried. "Too much" was what she had told Audrey.
Now she was unable to do it at all. She had experienced
dry sobs, and real tears had been elusive.

Now she was numbly resigned to the fact that the physical
release of crying was denied her. Perhaps when it had all
sunk in, that it was really over – maybe then the tears
would come. But it was possible she would never know what
it was to cry, again.

She tried to concentrate on the shirt she was ironing, but
felt her eyes glaze over and was unable to stop it from
happening. She was no longer seeing the iron, or her hand
holding it...

He hadn't made a scene. He'd sat there on his couch,
unmoving and silent. She hadn't been able to look at him.
She couldn't even remember the words she had used. She
hadn't planned to do it that day, but her session with
Audrey had invigorated her resolve. Even with the other
woman's caution to proceed carefully, Scully had known what
she had to do. She'd felt then that she was as strong as
she would ever be, so she had to take her chances and do it
while she could.

God, it seemed an eternity since then. Could it have been
only twenty-four hours ago?

Armed with a false sense of strength and her self-
preservation instincts, she'd knocked on Mulder's door with
purpose. All had crumbled to dust when he'd opened the
door, smiling hugely and looking at her with eyes filled
with happiness that she'd come to see him.

He'd led her into the apartment, offering coffee and
conversation. Her heart in her throat, she'd followed his
movements with hungry eyes. She'd told herself that she
was being ridiculous, that she would have cause to be there
again, that she was doing this =so= that would always be
possible, but her inner self wasn't listening. It kept
memorizing every detail of her lover.

Every one of his actions made doing what she had to do as
difficult as possible. He'd run a careless hand through
his hair, making it peak adorably, before giving her a
sheepish smile and apologizing for the mess. He'd brewed
coffee, taking out mugs from the cupboard, adding cream and
sugar in the amounts he knew she preferred. Every action
was familiar, endeared to her aching heart.

He'd offered her an apologetic grin, holding out a mug.
"Sorry if you get some grounds in there; I need a new
coffeemaker."

His jeans had been worn and comfortable-looking, his gray
t-shirt clean and hanging loose. His feet were bare,
sexily so. Scully had swallowed, berating herself for
finding even his feet incredibly attractive.

She'd considered for a brief, wonderful moment that she
didn't have to do this. He would never know. They could
carry on as they were, take things as they would come.

He's not in love with you, she had reminded herself. This
is killing you, little by little, and if you let this
continue, if you don't get out now, when he ends it, it
=will= kill you. You won't be able to handle it then –
you'll be in too deep. You'll lose it all.

People work through things like that, she'd tried
rationalizing to herself desperately. Perhaps she could
confess her feelings. If he didn't feel the same, they
could handle it. They could try and forget it ever
happened.

Then he had asked her why she was behaving so oddly, why
she was looking at him so strangely.

His query had prompted her to remember why she had to do
what she had gone there to do. Last weekend had shown her
that she was weak, that she had come to expect things from
Mulder that he wasn't ready to give. Might never be ready
to give.

A slight burning smell distracted Scully from her reverie.
Her eyes refocused on what she was doing, and saw that
there was now a light brown stain in the shape of the iron
on her snowy-white shirt.

"Shit," she muttered, trying to work up the energy to care
more. She tossed it aside and picked up another shirt.
This time, she'd keep her mind more on her task.

Who was it that had said friends were forever, but
everything else was transient? Especially lovers.

They'd seated themselves on his couch; he'd gone silent.
Her hands had been shaking slightly, and she had gripped
her mug tightly in order to stop the giveaway reaction.

He hadn't said a word through the whole thing, the whole
spiel she had made. Her voice hadn't been steady, and she
had felt like vomiting the whole time, but she'd gotten her
point across.

Even when she had finally stopped speaking, he hadn't
jumped in with any arguments or demanded more explanation.
It had been incredibly painful to accept that he wasn't
going to try and convince her to change her mind. She'd
expected him to at least voice objection because he enjoyed
what they =did= have together, if only on a physical level,
even if he wasn't emotionally invested. To try and
preserve that much of it.

Perhaps he had sensed how close to the edge she was. How
desperately she wanted him to convince her that things
would work. He had probably sensed her need, and had shied
away from it, realizing that she had gotten too close and
her backing away was the only viable solution.

Perhaps he had been relieved.

She had not been able to look at him almost the whole time
she had been there – aside from her stolen glances while
he'd been making the coffee – and when she had finally
dared to look up, the expression on his face had caused her
chest to contract so tightly that it had been impossible to
breathe for a few moments.

The depth of hurt there, the presence of betrayal in his
eyes, had felt like a physical blow. She had begged
without words for him to understand. In a moment of
weakness she had almost given in to the urge to fling
herself into his arms and plead for his forgiveness.

Such an action would have been disastrous, Scully now
acknowledged. He probably would have demanded explanation
for why she had ended things if she hadn't really meant it,
and she would then have either confessed all – ending
things anyway, but badly, or she would have made something
up, and things would have gone back to the way they were
before. Luckily, the reason she had to do it was never far
from her mind, and it was one she would gladly suffer
excruciating pain to preserve – their partnership.

Last weekend he had shown a possessive streak, but that was
not what had disturbed her about the incident. It had been
her response to him and what she had allowed herself to
reveal by it that had shaken her.

She'd basically told Mulder that she wanted no man other
than him; that she was in love with him. God, she'd even
told him that she belonged to him, thinking at the time
that it was what he wanted to hear – which it probably was,
but his desire for this affirmation had stemmed from
territorial motivations. She, however, had pretended that
his primitive actions had been prompted by caring rather
than his alpha male instincts.

Unfortunately, she hadn't shaken herself out of her
fantasies until after she had showered and returned to the
bedroom to find an already-dressed Mulder pulling on his
shoes. He'd been flustered, embarrassed, and barely
stammered out an apology before he'd taken himself off.

To say reality had slapped her in the face would be to
phrase it nicely. Obviously, he'd caught a glimpse of her
true feelings, and his immediate reaction had been to run
like hell the other way. She'd accepted then that the
lines were blurring too much for her; if she had any hope
of recovering her equilibrium she had to end things.

The entire week after that weekend, he'd tried his utmost
to be engaging, to behave as though everything was normal.
As if she hadn't handed him her heart and he hadn't
politely refused. If she hadn't been weighed down with the
knowledge of what she had to do, she would have basked in
his attention.

Contrarily, it was actually his casual, friendly behavior
that provided the final straw. It was so damn =obvious=
that he cared nothing for her the way she did him; he
couldn't be so nonchalant and blasé if he did. It was what
he had said from the beginning: he wanted to be friends
with a little sex on the side. He was completely capable
of separating the two.

She'd finally had to admit that she couldn't do the same.
She couldn't be his friend and fuck him impersonally once
in a while. She was in love with him, and it was killing
her that she made love to him while he had sex with her.

The hurt and betrayal she'd seen in his eyes she'd believed
stemmed from his feelings of personal unworthiness. Mulder
was at the same time both the most egotistical and also the
most fragile person she had ever known. His capacity for
self-recrimination was truly extraordinary.

The idea that she would be one more person to contribute to
this diminished self-image had made her nauseous. She'd
quickly explained that her decision was not the result of
anything he had done, and in fact had nothing to do with
him at all. He was by far the best lover she'd ever had;
she had simply reached the conclusion that it was just not
a good idea to keep mixing their professional relationship
with a personal one. They'd tried it and it wasn't working
out. She had said something like that.

She'd stayed as long as she dared, until she'd felt as
though she was choking on his hurt and hers. The faster
she got out of there, she'd told herself, the faster they
would both be able to recover. He would get over it in a
matter of days; it would take her longer. It would be
easier for her to start killing the feelings when she saw
how well and truly he had gotten over it.

His hurt won't last long, it's his pride suffering, she'd
convinced herself. She'd reminded herself how casual and
aloof he had been during the whole of their physical
relationship. That reminder had given her the strength to
propel herself to the door and out of his apartment.

After she'd left, she had driven straight home.
Considering her state of mind, it had probably been a
miracle she'd gotten both her car and her person home
intact.

Unable to cry and unwilling to allow herself to drown in
thoughts about what she had done, what she had said, what
she could have said, his reaction, and all the minutiae
that was there to be analyzed and dissected, she'd soon
left again. A walk would help keep those hurtful thoughts
at bay.

She had been surprisingly successful. It was as though her
mind had set up a block and refused to let her remember in
detail anything that happened before she had arrived at her
apartment that afternoon. She suspected that she hadn't
been prepared then to fully digest what had happened. If
even one thought had escaped, she likely would have
crumpled right there on the street.

Returning hours later, it had already been dark, and Scully
had been so exhausted from the day's events – such strong
denial took a lot of energy – that she had crawled into bed
and immediately fell into a dreamless sleep.

When she had awakened this morning she'd felt like a ton of
bricks had dropped onto her head during the night. Every
part of her ached, but what hurt most of all was the empty
gaping hole inside of her. It'd once been filled with hope
and love – two things not easily replaced. She had dry
heaved into the toilet, and considered calling her mother
to cancel their plans. She'd realized, however, that her
mother would provide company and a good source of
distraction.

Even after the all-day excursion, Scully had been unable to
banish the look of hurt on Mulder's face from her mind.
The image haunted her. She knew he was upset. His hurt
didn't stem from the same place that hers did, but it was
pain just the same. And she loved him; she needed to be
sure that he was all right and not doing something foolish
out of a perceived sense of having done something wrong.

She'd told herself she was probably flattering herself in
her assessment of his emotional state; he was likely lying
on his couch, remote control in hand, watching TV, without
a care in the world. Even so, she had called the Gunmen,
because she had to be sure.

It saddened her that she had had to send them out to make
sure he was okay, instead of being able to do it herself.

The point of what she'd done had been to =preserve= her
relationship with Mulder, not destroy it. So why did he
feel lost to her? Why did she feel more distanced from him
than ever before, more than when he had believed she'd
betrayed him, more than when Diana Fowley had reappeared in
his life? Perhaps because this time, the distance was of
her own making.

With sudden, horrifying clarity, she recognized that
despite her naive hopes, their friendship could never
return to the way it had been. Such a thing was
impossible, not with all they had done and been to each
other. =She= was now incapable of seeing him as anything
other than the man she loved, and in all likelihood, that
was always how she would see him.

They couldn't go back, and now, because of her, they
couldn't go forward.

Scully felt an unbearable tightening in her chest, and
almost choked on the tears she couldn't shed yet felt
locked somewhere inside of her.

Her ironing done, she went into the kitchen to distract
herself from this new realization eating away at her soul.
Had she done it all for nothing? Had she given up
something real for something elusive? The reality of their
physical intimacy for the continuation of a friendship that
was altered and could never be the same again?

She poured herself a glass of water with shaky hands. The
sight of her coffeemaker sitting in the corner reminded her
of Mulder and the fact that he needed a new one.

Picking up her water, she went into the living room and
settled onto her couch, willing the phone to ring.

When it actually did as bidden, pealing loudly in the
quietness of her apartment, she started, and the water
sloshed around in the full glass, threatening to escape its
confines.

Setting it down quickly on an end table, she was able to
pick up the phone after only one ring. "Frohike?"

"Hey, Scully." He sounded hesitant.

Her brow knitted. "Did you find him? It's been over two
hours." She couldn't keep the worry out of her voice.

"Um, yeah...we found him. He was ah – drinking."

Scully gripped the receiver tighter to her ear. Mulder had
been drinking? Over her? "Where are you? Is he with
you?"

"We're still at the bar – Madhatter's. He was a little too
fast for us and we couldn't catch him when he left."

"He's gone? Where is he now?"

There was a beat of silence on the other end, then with
obvious reluctance, Frohike shared, "I think he's going
over to your place. He left about five minutes ago."

Her breathing quickened and butterflies appeared in her
stomach. "He's coming here? Why?" She wasn't ready to
face him. Why was he coming to see her?

"Don't get mad, Scully...but it sort of slipped that you
were the one who asked us to find him..." Frohike trailed
off.

She closed her eyes. Of course. It would have given
Mulder the idea – correctly – that she wasn't sure if she
had done the right thing. If he had it in his mind to
persuade her to give things another try, she didn't think
she was strong enough to refuse. "What did he say?"
Holding her breath, she waited for Frohike's answer.

"I believe he said something to the effect of: 'Why? She
wants to see whether I've blown my brains out yet?' "

"He was upset?" She was a terrible person, but she was
glad that he wasn't taking their separation lightly, even
if it wasn't a separation in the strictest definition of
the word.

"You could say that. Look, he was kind of messed up. He
got real quiet and then he just up and left."

"Did he say he was coming here?"

"He didn't say that specifically, no – but it was pretty
obvious to us that that's where he'd go." Frohike's voice
lowered, grew more serious. "He seemed like he wanted to
be with you, talk to you, about something important. I
don't know what's going on, but...won't you talk to him?"

Scully swallowed the lump in her throat. Mulder must have
been in a bad way when they'd found him for Frohike to
sound so concerned. And for him to make such a request of
her indicated that he knew she was partly to blame for
Mulder's condition.

His condition – this wasn't the first time she'd known him
to get drunk. Oh God. "Did he take a cab?" she asked,
concern deepening the natural alto of her voice.

Frohike hesitated. "Ah – he had his car. We told him he
couldn't drive in his condition, but...well...you know how
he gets. We said we'd drive him but he wouldn't listen,
and..." It was obvious Frohike didn't want her to be upset
with them for letting Mulder go off half-assed and drunk.

"I know," she sighed, conveying that she understood his
dilemma. When Mulder got a bee in his bonnet, deterring
him from his intended goal was next to impossible. It was
one of his most attractive qualities. He never gave up.
He approached life with a single-minded purpose that was
breathtaking at times.

She looked at the clock on her mantle. It was 11:36. It
wouldn't be too long before Mulder arrived. Half of her
dreaded his appearance for what it would require of her,
while the other half desperately needed to know that he was
physically safe and wanted to see him as soon as possible.

A few words of thanks, and she hung up with Frohike. Now
all there was to do was wait. She busied herself by
rinsing out her mug, then went around the apartment
straightening items that had already been straightened a
number of times in the past couple of hours.

When after fifteen long minutes he still hadn't shown, she
sat down on her couch. No position was comfortable for
long, and she felt highly tense. Her nerves were stretched
taut imagining all manner of scenarios that could present
themselves once he arrived. What would he say? How would
she respond? Yet there seemed to be a block in her brain
that refused to allow her to dwell on any one possibility
for long. The butterflies in her stomach kept distracting
her. She noted that her hands were shaking and clenched
them into fists in an effort to cease the involuntary
movement.

Nervously anticipating his arrival and at the same time
wondering where he was and why he was taking so long,
imagining all sorts of horrific possibilities, was
draining, and her composure was fast slipping. It didn't
take this long to get to her place from that bar.

Twenty minutes later, she was calling all the area
hospitals, asking about car accident victims, automatically
citing all of Mulder's physical statistics while inside she
screamed at the possibility that he could be hurt. No one
matching his description had been admitted to the hospitals
she'd called within the last few hours. However, that
didn't mean something bad hadn't happened. It had started
to rain not too long ago, upping the chances for a car
accident to occur.

It was, of course, possible the Gunmen had gotten their
information wrong and Mulder wasn't on his way over to see
her at all. At this point, however, she could settle for
nothing less than to know for herself that he was all
right. She called his apartment and got no answer.
Perhaps he had gone somewhere else entirely. She didn't
know where that might be, but she would worry about that
when the situation presented itself.

Perhaps he was home and wasn't answering his phone. In
that case, she had to go over and make sure for herself.
She didn't even care at this point what he would think of
her intrusion. Another bridge she would cross when she got
to it. Not knowing if he was all right was doing serious
damage to her mental and emotional state. It was sapping
her already depleted reserve of strength.

Amidst all the horror her brain kept conjuring up, an image
cropped up again and again, breaking her heart and making
her even more resolute in finding him. She kept recalling
Mulder's beautiful, blinding smile yesterday when he'd
first opened the door to see her standing there.

Scully didn't bother to change, remaining in her sweats and
t-shirt. She stepped into her tennis shoes and grabbed her
keys from the coffee table. She pulled her jacket hastily
on, not caring that it was bunched up and tweaked in
places.

She opened the door...and found Mulder on the other side,
fist poised to knock.

Even overcome by relief and elation, she could only stare
up at him for a few moments. The shock of his appearance
left her somewhat dumbfounded.

The state of his appearance probably also contributed to
that. He was soaked. His hair was drenched, causing
rivulets of water to streak over his face and drip from his
chin. He apparently hadn't shaved in days, the dark
stubble on his face almost menacing, as it indicated his
state of mind – that the last thing he was thinking of was
being civilized. His shirt was so wet that it was
plastered to his body, and he held an object in his hand.
She couldn't tear her gaze away from his face long enough
to discern what it was.

Mulder met her unblinking gaze with one of his own. It was
then that she noticed his eyes – large, bloodshot, and a
little wild-looking. They seemed to be drinking her in,
and she leaned into him slightly, as if offering more.

The sound of his voice when he finally spoke provided a
marked contrast to his untamed countenance, and the sexy,
familiar tones sent shivers racing down her spine. Calmly
and without breaking eye contact, he asked, "Are you going
somewhere, Scully?"

~~~~~~~~
Chapter Fourteen
~~~~~~~~

Scully's Apartment
September 30
12:37 a.m.

He wondered if he had made an enormous mistake by coming
here. He was feeling a bit warm and flushed. Had the
alcohol he'd consumed compromised his thought processes?
Isn't that what alcohol did?

True, that he'd felt sober when he'd left the bar. True,
that he'd felt sober driving around DC and Virginia. And
true, that he'd felt stone sober running the thirty-odd
blocks to Scully's apartment. But now that he was there,
he was suddenly assaulted by a wave of dizziness. Whether
it resulted from nerves or the alcohol in his system, he
couldn't be sure.

What he did know what that his first sight of Scully could
be likened to the advent of sustenance to a starving man.
He drank her in, noting every feature of her face as if he
had not seen them in years. She was even more beautiful
than his tortured mind had allowed him to remember.

After a while, he noticed that Scully was still staring at
him, as he was staring at her, and neither of them had said
a word. Doubt and uncertainty began to seep in,
threatening his fragile bravery. He felt brittle, and he
waited for the words from her that would splinter him into
a thousand shards.

Yesterday, Scully had gone to his apartment with the intent
to break their relationship apart; he had come here to put
it back together. It was right that he should be the one
to do so; the whole situation was his fault, after all.
=She= didn't know why he was here, however, and was
probably wondering with dismay why the hell he had shown up
at her door - and how she was going to politely get rid of
him.

Two minutes, Scully, that's all I need, he thought. It
would only take that long for him to spill his guts and for
her to respond. If she never wanted him to darken her
doorstep again, then he wouldn't. He would leave quietly,
not make a scene, wait until he was alone to express his
anguish.

Even now, he was on the alert to make tracks, if necessary.
He didn't want to be a source of aggravation for Scully.

He finally took in the detail that she was dressed to go
out - her keys were in hand, and she'd opened the door
before he'd even knocked. "Are you going somewhere,
Scully?" he asked, for lack of anything better to say.

In a way, he felt almost calm. In fact, it was amazing how
calm he felt. The heart that had threatened to jump out of
his chest all the way over here was no longer pounding a
mad beat. His breathing had slowed, and his vision was
somewhat glazed. He felt - resigned. He could almost
swear that he felt nothing. One last plea for mercy. Was
this how the condemned felt when the executioner lowered
the axe?

Scully was apparently spurred into action by the sound of
his voice. She was suddenly a flurry of motion. Grabbing
his wrist, she pulled him into the apartment and shut the
door.

Well, at least the door wasn't shutting in his face.

And he had lied. He didn't feel nothing. On the contrary,
his skin burned where she touched him, sending tiny flames
of heat to his sensitive nerve-endings. The rapid beating
of his heart started up again, causing the blood to pulse
in his temples. He had to close his eyes from the
sensation; it made him dizzy. He began to shiver from the
combination of the tangibles that assaulted him, including
the fact that her heated apartment made his dripping-wet
self suddenly feel very cold.

"Mulder," Scully murmured, caressing his wrist ever so
slightly, and he thought he detected concern in the action
and in her voice. He opened his eyes again to meet her
eyes, dark with worry. Without a word, she let go of him
and left him standing there as she quickly made her way out
of the room, disappearing into her bedroom.

He didn't know what to do with himself. He was very tired
and wanted to sit down, but didn't want to mess up her
couch. Her apartment was even more immaculate than usual -
and that was saying something. Why did he suddenly feel so
uncomfortable in the place where he had always felt the
=most= comfort?

Scanning the area, he noted with sorrow that everything was
perfectly in place. The surfaces fairly gleamed. Scully
had always been neat, but not like this. He doubted there
was a trace of dust anywhere. He'd only been here a week
ago and she had already cleaned up after him.

Scully was moving on; did he really want to mess up her
neatly ordered life with his presence? And shouldn't he
have thought of this before arriving here, now dripping
water onto her carpet? Perhaps he ought to leave. Leave,
before she came back from whatever it was she was doing in
her bedroom. The water stains on he carpet would
eventually evaporate. It would be as if he had never been
there at all.

His mind chose that moment to remind him of the object he
held clutched in his hand. He stared at the journal, not
recognizing it for a moment what it was. He then recalled
the reason why he had raced out of Madhatter's like a
madman, why he had driven like a maniac back to his place,
and why he was now standing inside Scully's apartment.

Now that he was here, secure in the knowledge that she was
close by, he began to take notice of a pressure in his
bladder. It'd been there for a while, but he'd relegated
to the back of his mind due to more pressing matters at
hand, but it was definitely becoming a concern now. He'd
consumed a remarkable amount of alcohol and a lot of water
in short succession soon thereafter. The combination was
enough to get him moving.

"I'm going to use the restroom," he called out timidly. If
things had been normal, if he had been comfortable, the
idea of telling Scully that he was going to go pee, like an
8-year-old child, would have been absurd. Under the
current circumstances, however, it felt necessary.

"Okay." Her reply was muffled.

He wasn't sure why he was hesitating. Go already, he told
himself. What are you waiting for, a commendation?

His clothes were uncomfortably damp, and he wished that
he'd been a little less hasty before barreling over here
without a plan...or an umbrella.

The bathroom was neat and clean, just like the rest of the
apartment, and it smelled like flowers. It seemed
incredibly appropriate that it should smell like springtime
in Scully's bathroom. And she had liquid soap. Of course
she did. Much more hygienic to have liquid soap. He
looked up and caught his reflection in the mirror, noting
without surprise his bloodshot eyes and flushed cheeks.

Physically, he felt enormously better after relieving
himself. Except, now that he'd "broken the seal," he'd
have to pee every hour for the rest of the night.

Returning to the living room, he wondered what was taking
Scully so long. What was she doing? On second thought,
perhaps the better question was, what was =he= doing,
standing in Scully's living room soaked to the skin and
having no idea of what he was going to say to her?

He'd reached some conclusions in the bar that now seemed
laughably unrealistic. Was he really going to risk what
they had left for =might be=? He realized fatalistically
that he was. He'd taken risks before, big risks that
included giving up the stability of the career track he'd
been on for the chance to find out what had happened to
Samantha. And yet he'd turned around and given up the
person he'd thought was his sister for Scully. Even then
he'd known that he couldn't live without this woman. And
there were other risks he'd taken, with his life and with
his career, that no sane person would ever have. But now
all that seemed but practice for this moment. The biggest
risk he would ever take, because it meant more to him than
anything had ever meant in his life.

Not surprisingly, he was suddenly gripped by a paralyzing
fear, the fear of being rejected. He didn't think he was
strong enough to face Scully rejecting him - again. It
would be more pain than he believed he could bear. He
looked at the journal again. Perhaps he could just leave
it for her. He'd still be taking the risk; he just
wouldn't have to see her make her decision in person. He
could postpone having his heart sliced into ribbons. If
she liked what she read, she would contact him, tell him.
If she didn't, she wouldn't have to say anything – her
silence would be answer enough.

But that would be taking the coward's way out, and Mulder
was not a coward. Usually. In any case, though his false
bravado was slipping away, something purposeful remained,
determined to see him through this. Despite the
nervousness churning in his stomach and the fear that
gripped his insides, he felt physically incapable of
leaving voluntarily. Scully was here. How could he go?

These thoughts were soon overshadowed by one that crept
into his consciousness unexpectedly. He missed her.
Already the few seconds she had been gone was too long - he
wanted to see her again.

As if reading his needy thoughts, Scully reappeared sans
jacket, bearing towels and a neat little stack of clothes.
He recognized them – they were his. He supposed it was
something that she hadn't returned all his things to him
the day she'd gone to his apartment and handed his heart
back.

"Come on, Mulder," she said softly, and he had a momentary
compulsion to crawl into the cradle of her arms and bawl.
His ears burned to hear the sound of her voice saying his
name again. Or it didn't even have to be his name; he
wanted to beg her to just talk to him, and never stop.

She placed the bundle on the couch, then walked over to
him, taking his hand and leading him further into the
living room. He now stood next to the end table by the
couch. He stared down at the objects on the table.

"Your phone is off the hook," he said. It was a jarring
aberration in the immaculateness of the rest of the
apartment.

"Oh," she said, staring at the phone for a moment before
quickly securing the receiver into place. She seemed
flustered by this minor detail; it confused him.

"Let's get you out of those wet clothes, Mulder."

He watched as her tiny fingers deftly undid the buttons of
his shirt. When that was accomplished, she slid the shirt
over his shoulders, running into problems when it wouldn't
slide off. The buttons of his cuffs were still securely
fastened, keeping the material together. She gently took
the black book from his hand.

Mulder opened his mouth to say something, panic rising in
his chest - but she merely placed it on the coffee table
without giving it a second glance. At last, his shirt was
deposited in a wet heap to the floor.

"I'm sorry for messing up your carpet," he said in a small
voice.

She looked him directly in the eyes, the first time she had
done it since she'd found him standing at her door, and
there was something there that held him captive. In a
moment it was gone, replaced by typical Scully pragmatism.
"Don't be silly," she said firmly. "You're not ruining it,
and it wouldn't matter if you did."

Perhaps it was pathetic, but he found it extremely
wonderful of her not to mind if he ruined her carpet. It
was also promising - that, and the fact that she hadn't
ordered him to leave. She obviously still cared about him
on =some= level, even if it was only friendship, so perhaps
she would be willing to listen to what he had to say
without dismissing it out of hand.

She began to rub him briskly with a towel, and a tingling
sensation assaulted the affected skin. She was gentle yet
decisive in her actions. She went up on tiptoes to reach
the back of his neck, and it brought her achingly close to
him. If he leaned down just a few inches, he could touch
his mouth to hers. He was so very close to her...only a
few inches...

"Okay," she rasped, stepping back once more. She handed
the towel to him. "Can you manage the rest yourself?"

If not surprised, he was still crushed that after all they
had been to each other, all they had done together, she was
now inserting this distance, this need for modesty. Or
perhaps she simply didn't want such an intimacy. So he
nodded, clutching the towel, and she turned her back.

There were things that he was supposed to be telling her,
important things that had the power to change the very way
he approach life from this moment on. But he couldn't find
the voice to say them out loud; he didn't even know =how=
he was going to express himself. He was afraid that it
would come out wrong, that she would not be convinced – or
worse yet, wouldn't allow him the opportunity to finish
before he got it all out. He needed more time to think
things through, and so he held his tongue.

He reached down to untie his shoelaces before stepping out
of his shoes. His socks were uncomfortably damp, and he
was glad to strip those off. He quickly undid the buttons
of his jeans, feeling the wet, uncomfortable material
abrade his skin as he removed it. His boxers went next,
and he hurriedly ran the towel over his exposed skin,
rubbing the damp spots quickly, thinking mournfully that it
had felt so much better when Scully had done it.

She'd brought replacement boxers, a t-shirt, socks, and
sweats. All he donned with haste, except for the socks
because he didn't want to waste anymore time. All he
wanted was for her to turn around again.

"Okay, Scully," he said when he was done.

She turned around, moving closer to him and put a hand on
his chest. He held his breath, but all she did was apply a
gentle pressure, making him move backwards, eventually
causing him to fall backwards onto the couch.

Seating herself next to him, she then turned sideways to
face him. Picking up the towel again, she used it to rub
vigorously over his hair, mussing up the damp strands,
massaging his skull in the process.

It felt unbelievably good, and God, she was so close. He
could smell her warm fragrance, and closed his eyes while
he breathed her in, so that he could concentrate on the one
sense without being distracted by the others and therefore,
appreciate it better. It felt so good to be cared for like
this by her. Yet, wasn't that why he never worried about
getting himself into one scrape or another? Because he
knew she'd be there to care for him? Or perhaps it stood
to reason that he even did those things in order to achieve
this exact end?

Mulder had never considered before that perhaps she was
tired of doing it. Maybe she didn't =want= to do it.
Jesus, was it always about him? Was he such a bastard?
The answer was a glaring yes. He'd been the one to suggest
that they alleviate their sexual needs together, with the
full intention of tricking her into loving him...needing
him. He had never fully realized prior to this moment
exactly how selfish he was when it came to Scully. She
deserved to know that about him. He owed it to her to
admit it outright.

He didn't even realize she had stopped drying him until he
felt the soft touch of her fingers on his cheek. He
reopened his eyes, staring immediately into hers, which
were filled with concern.

"Are you...tired, Mulder?" she asked softly.

Scully motioned to move her fingers away from his face, and
out of an instinct to keep her close, one of his hands
grabbed hers quickly as it retreated. Holding her hand
there, their gazes still locked, he rubbed against it,
hearing the slight rasping sound his stubble made against
her palm.

She flattened her hand against his cheek for a moment, even
going so far as to slowly run her thumb back and forth
against his skin, before she gently but insistently tugged,
wanting him to let her go. He did so, with reluctance. He
would let go of her hand – for now – but letting her go
entirely was another matter.

He'd just have to make her listen to him. And he knew she
=would= listen to him, if he could stop being so clingy and
allowed her room to breathe and think. He resisted the
urge to grab her to him.

Sliding down from the couch to the floor, she positioned
herself between his knees. Her expression was clear and
unguarded. "You didn't put your socks on, Mulder," she
reprimanded lightly. "Your feet will be cold."

His toes reflexively dug into the carpet at her words, and
he thought about how nice and soft the carpet felt under
his sock-donned feet. His apartment had hardwood floors,
and he'd never much thought about the difference before.
Now he knew that carpet was far superior. Of course, he'd
grown up with carpet and he hadn't felt this way about it
then. Maybe it was just Scully's carpet that was better.

He remained still as she put the socks over his feet, her
soft touch inadvertently tickling the soles of his feet.
He enjoyed the way his toes warmed almost immediately.
Even through the thick cotton material, he could feel the
lightness of her touch.

She placed a hand on his knee. "I'll make hot chocolate.
You want hot chocolate?"

It didn't matter that the whole situation was rather
bizarre and unreal. He nodded, trying to contain his
enthusiasm. It wasn't for the hot chocolate, that was for
sure. She was offering him a drink! He could stay!
Somewhere inside him, a little boy danced and rejoiced.
Not only was Scully herself prolonging his visit, but now
he had more time to think about what he was going to say to
her. He decided that it would take him quite a while to
finish his chocolate.

"Okay," she said, looking hesitant for a moment. She
opened her mouth, and it seemed as though she was going to
ask him a question, but then closed it again. Instead, she
said, "I'll be right back."

Mulder followed her movement away from him, trying to
communicate with a desperate look what he found so hard to
do with his voice. She didn't turn around, however, so
this attempt was wasted.

Watching her as she bustled about the kitchen, opening
cupboards and getting milk from the fridge, he reflected on
how domestic it all felt. And how wonderful that was. He
knew he was an interloper, however, and the cozy warmth he
felt being there was superceded by the cold weight of the
truth that settled in his stomach.

He wistfully thought about what he would have done only a
scant week ago, had he found himself in this position – he
would have gotten up from the couch, followed her into the
kitchen, and then wrapped his arms about her waist, burying
his face in the side of her neck, as she went about
preparing the hot drink. She would complain that he was
making the process take twice as long, but as always, would
make no real attempt to make him detach himself. The
longing to experience that was so great he had to clench
his fists to keep himself from getting up and doing it.

Now he suspected he wouldn't be able to get within a foot
of her without being told to keep his distance. The
thought was utterly depressing.

So why, exactly, was he here? His glance strayed from
Scully to the journal sitting on the coffee table. She
hadn't made any note of it at all - that was strange,
wasn't it? Did she suspect what it was, and wanted to
avoid talking about it? Yet how could she know?

Most likely, she'd simply dismissed it. She had other
things on her mind - like why the hell he'd shown up on her
doorstep in the first place. Yet if she was concerned
about that, wouldn't she have demanded an explanation from
him at the beginning, instead of offering dry clothes and
hot chocolate?

When he returned and was once again settled on the couch,
he reflected on how incredibly good it felt to be here, so
comforting. Yet it felt wrong, as if he was being
intrusive. He had no right to impose on her like this,
basking in her care. Perhaps if he were here on a
legitimate basis, as a friend or as her partner, the right
would be his. But he wasn't, and she still didn't know the
truth. He felt like a fraud.

He would be honest with her. He would come clean, as he'd
originally planned when he'd raced out of the bar like a
lunatic. He wouldn't stay in her apartment and force his
company on her under specious pretenses. He didn't want to
think that his presence here wasn't entirely wanted, that
it was only tolerated because he had put up a false front.

Scully returned with two steaming mugs of hot chocolate.
His attention was brought once more to the fact that she
was dressed to go out - she was even still wearing her
shoes - and that he might have interrupted her plans. But
it was almost one in the morning. Where would she be
going? Maybe he didn't want to know.

He accepted the mug of chocolate that she held out to him,
and had a brief flash of memory: he, holding out a steaming
mug of coffee to her yesterday in his apartment. Now, he
was made miserable by the reminder of what had happened
afterward.

Staring at her tennis shoes, he whispered, "I'm sorry,
Scully. Are you going out?"

She sighed. He watched her still-shoed feet make their way
over to the couch. The cushions moved a bit as she sat
down, so close to him that the material of their respective
sweatpants brushed together.

"Mulder," she began, sounding hesitant. "I was going out
to look for you." She placed a hand on his arm. "I'm glad
you're all right," she finished quietly.

His head turned sharply to look at her, and his gaze
immediately caught hers. Her luminous blue eyes were
filled with relief and...something else. She gave him a
tiny smile, and he could have sworn that her eyes were
brighter than usual. And were they glistening, just a
little? He felt a tiny bit of hope reassert itself in his
chest.

"You were going out to look for me?" He attempted to sound
less delighted than he was. He took a sip of his drink to
hide any emotion he might give away on his face. Hot. Ow,
really hot. Okay, now his tongue was burnt. As if he
wasn't already having enough trouble using it. He quickly
set the mug down next to the phone.

She looked away, at the same time taking her hand from his
arm to clasp it defensively to her other hand, which rested
in her lap. He noticed that her mug of hot chocolate was
sitting on the coffee table, steam rising steadily. It was
apparently forgotten by Scully. "Of course. I know you
know I asked the guys to see that you were okay."

He winced at the remembered hurt. "Why did you do that,
Scully? If you wanted to know I was all right, why didn't
you make sure, yourself?" It was a baldly inquisitive
question he wouldn't have dared ventured if not for his
suddenly inflated sense of courage. It was odd how it came
and went. The second she relented a little bit, the second
Scully gave an inch, he took a mile and more. But now that
the question had been posed, he couldn't take it back; he
had crossed a line.

If he wasn't sure about what he wanted to reveal tonight
before, it was now too late. The ball had been put in
motion. His pulse fluttered erratically as he waited for
her response.

"I couldn't," she said in a barely audible voice, still not
looking at him.

Scully had a beautiful profile, but he wanted to see her
face. His fingers itched to reach for her chin, to turn
her toward him, but he dared not touch her, for fear that
she would retreat even further. He had to tread carefully,
consider his actions, bide his time.

"Why?" he asked, awaiting her reply with both dread and
anticipation.

There was moment of silence, and when she spoke it wasn't
to answer but to counter with a question of her own. "Why
did it take you so long to get here, Mulder?" She finally
turned her head to pierce him with the clear intensity of
her eyes again.

His breath caught. Leave it up to Scully to cut right to
the chase, even though she couldn't know she was doing it.
It was his turn to avoid her gaze. His glance slid away,
landing once again on the journal, almost directly in front
of him on the coffee table. The urge to pick it up and
shove it into her hands was nearly overwhelming. What he'd
written in there would tell her all she needed to know. It
would be so easy to let the journal do his work for him...
yet something in him rebelled against the idea. It wasn't
right.

He had let her know in various forms, had told her a
thousand times in a million unvoiced actions, how he felt.
Other people had come closer to saying it for him than he
had - at least, to her awake and conscious form.

It was well past time that he spoke for himself.

"Aren't you going to ask me what I'm doing here?" He
ignored her question for the time being. Turning his head,
their gazes locked once more.

"Are you drunk, Mulder?"

He was frustrated by the question, though it was posed so
gently. "No. I'm not. Scully, I don't think I've ever
been so sober."

"But you've been drinking," she stated matter-of-factly.

"I had a few drinks this evening, yes," he said. That
seemed ages ago. The only drug affecting him now was her
presence. "But I am not inebriated."

She leaned close to him, sniffing. Their gazes caught and
he met hers steadily. "Tequila?" she asked.

He sighed. She knew his drink of choice; that was just a
lucky guess. "Yes. So? Aren't you wondering why I'm
here?"

Scully sat back and did not break their gaze. "I gathered
you wanted to talk to me about something."

He could lose himself in those eyes. He could, and he
wanted to - but more than that, he wanted to be welcome to
do so.

"I do," he answered. Now that the moment had arrived, he
faltered. "There is something I want to tell you." He
cleared his throat, as his voice had cracked on the last
word.

She regarded him patiently. "Just tell me, Mulder." Her
voice shook, just slightly, and for some reason that was
all the encouragement he needed.

Taking a deep breath, he screwed up his courage...and all
that needed to be said spilled forth in a rush from the
deepest recesses of his heart. "Scully, I came over to
tell you that I love you, that I've loved you for a very,
very long time but only had the guts to tell you once
before and I was disappointed but a little relieved that
you didn't believe me. I'm was afraid then and I'm afraid
now, and I don't know why I found the courage tonight to do
this, maybe it's because I've been drinking, maybe it's
because I know what I'm missing now and can't take not
being with you anymore. But it doesn't really matter why
because I've finally said it, and I'm sorry if you don't
want to hear it, Scully, but I thought you should know, I
thought you should know that I love you."

He was beyond the point of caring that his confession came
out in long disjointed sentences and sounded like he was
babbling. He didn't care that he was almost crying. He
didn't care that his heart was jumping from his throat to
his stomach and back, or that his pulse was hammering so
strongly that he thought he might have a heart attack.
Those things were the least of his worries.

It was painful not to be touching her, and though he had
already blurted out the most relevant news, the words kept
spilling from his mouth, running out of him like rainwater,
cleansing and pure. It felt so good to finally tell her
the truth that he couldn't stop. "Scully...I'm in love
with you and I won't apologize for it, I won't apologize
for the truth - but you deserve the truth and there it is,
I'll say it again: I'm in love with you."

There was nothing left to do now but hold his breath. He
could hear the mad pounding of his heart within his chest,
felt the blood pumping like quicksilver through his veins,
as he waited for her reaction. It was the most torturous
moment of his life...he was laying it all out there. He
was completely vulnerable; he had placed his heart in her
hands, and now waited to see what she would do with it.
God, after this week, nothing would ever faze him again.

She stared at him with an expression that could only be
construed as shock. She was silent for so long that he
felt dread begin to seep from his abdomen, radiating out to
all of his nerve-endings. Suddenly he felt like vomiting.
God, he'd been so wrong to come here and foist all of this
on her. How was she to respond to such a declaration from
him, if she didn't feel the same? Watching her try and
couch a response in nice terms was a hundred times worse
than having her flat out reject him. A thousand times
worse.

He'd been an utter fool; an impassioned, reckless fool with
a penchant for believing in all the wrong things, including
the beautiful lies he was prone to spinning for himself.
The flame of hope flickered and died in his chest. He
swallowed convulsively, willing the massive aching in his
heart away.

How could he have been so unthinkingly selfish as to come
here, so wrapped up in his own need that he'd actually
believed for a few hours that she would welcome it?
Obviously, she didn't feel the same or she would have said
something by now. Fuck.

He had just made up his mind to get up and walk out,
intending to give her all the space she wanted, determined
that he would never again overstep her boundaries, that she
would never again have to ask him for his distance, when
Scully made a sound.

For a moment he thought he had imagined it when she didn't
say anything further, nor did her expression change, and he
bitterly castigated himself for this additional evidence of
self-delusion. God, was it his fate to be continually
tormented by this stubborn hope that refused to die?
Wouldn't he ever give up? The fight was lost. He had
lost.

But then the sound came again, it wasn't his imagination,
and it unmistakably came from Scully. She was looking at
him with wide eyes, and her lips had parted slightly,
though she had yet to utter a recognizable word.

"Mulder - " she began, a catch in her voice, and he noted
that her eyes had begun to glisten again. She unclasped
her hands, and reached out to once again place her hand on
his arm. Her fingers was shaking slightly...in fact, her
entire body seemed to be trembling. They noticed this at
the same time, and immediately she withdrew it.

She was hurting for him, hurting for what he was doing to
their relationship. He hadn't realized how much of an
anchor her hand had been until she removed it; he instantly
felt bereft, lost and adrift in a situation he was
floundering in. He felt moisture begin to pool in his own
eyes, and he fought to keep them in check. She didn't need
to deal with his tears on top of everything else.

"I know," she began shakily, then stopped and took a deep
breath. "I know that you're upset..."

"I'm sorry, Scully," he blurted before he could stop
himself. The tears spilled in spite of his attempt to
reign them in. "I...I can learn not to show it so much. I
can pretend I don't love you; I can hide it, I swear. I
won't mention it ever again, I promise." This last ended
on a small sob. "I promise, Scully." Of its own accord
his hand reached out to implore her, yet even then knowing
to keep his distance, not daring to actually touch her.

Through the hot wetness of his tears he suddenly saw the
tear tracks running over her cheeks. God, he had made her
cry.

She reached out and took his hand, and in spite of his
pain, he felt an inordinate amount of relief wash over him,
bathing his senses with its sweet presence. She didn't
hate him.

Her voice was steady when she spoke, if a little deeper
than usual. "Mulder, I'm glad you love me, and I don't
ever want you to feel the need to hide it." Her voice
lowered even further, making it harder to catch her words.
"I love you, too...you know I do. But as for being in love
with me...you only think that right now, because of all
that's happened." He saw more tears slip down her face.
"You're overemotional - " She stopped. With her other
hand, she touched the tips of her fingers to her wet
cheeks. "I'm crying..." she breathed, as if it were the
most stunning revelation.

He had been too stunned by what he was hearing, unsure he
was hearing her correctly, to speak for several long
moments after she informed him that he was not really in
love with her. Clutching her hand in his, he now burst
forth with a forceful, "No!" He stared at her accusingly.
"You don't think I'm capable of knowing when I'm in love
with someone? You think I've carried over residual
feelings from what we've been doing for the past couple of
months, that that's all it is?

"I =am= overemotional right now, but it's because I'm
scared shitless. Of losing you. How can I lose you,
Scully?" What was with him tonight that he couldn't shut
up? "I need you, I want you to know how I feel, and I am
=in love= with you. I may never have felt this emotion
before, but I can recognize it. It =is= like everyone
says..." His throat had progressively tightened during
this rant, until it became difficult to continue. "...you
just know," he finished in a whisper.

Mulder searched Scully's face for some sign of realization,
of acceptance. He was further frustrated when none came.
He never imagined that the hardest part would be to
convince her of his love; it wasn't as if he hid it
particularly well, judging by how easily other people were
able to read him. Apparently, "other people" did not
include Scully, which was ironic considering how well she
was able to read him in every other situation.

She was shaking her head; he grew desperate. He clutched
her hand tighter, drawing it near to his heart. "How can
you not know?" he asked, blinking rapidly, inadvertently
dislodging some previously unshed tears from his eyes.
God, if he lost her because of his own stupidity, of his
own actions...he would never forgive himself. He had to
make her understand.

"Scully...Scully, you know that I asked you to make love
with me because I wanted that intimacy with you. I wanted
to be as close to you as a human being could possibly be to
another. Each time we made love, I felt close to you. I
felt so close to you." He tried desperately to control his
panic, needing more than anything to make her listen; it
had never been more imperative that she believe him.

She reached out to tenderly brush the tears from his
cheeks, but he was too caught up in his confession to
analyze what that meant. He continued, "It was wrong to
deceive you like that, and I am so sorry, Scully. I only
did it because I wanted to make you fall in love with me, I
wanted you to love me in the way that I loved - =love= -
you."

"Why didn't you just tell me?" She didn't take her gaze
from his face, but neither did she joyfully embrace him.
He wasn't in the clear yet, but she was giving him a chance
to explain himself. This opportunity he grabbed and hung
on to for dear life.

"Scully..." He looked down, not being able to look her in
the eye, but refusing to let go of her hand. "I didn't
want to overwhelm you," he explained in a low voice. "I
knew you didn't feel what I felt for you. I didn't want to
risk our friendship, not knowing how you felt." He
squeezed her hand. "You know our friendship is the most
important relationship I have, Scully. The most
important," he emphasized fervently, daring to glance at
her before looking down once more.

"My plan was...my plan was...not great," he finished
lamely. "I wanted to be the best lover you'd ever had. I
wanted you to enjoy our physical intimacy, and accept the
idea that I could be everything for you." He looked up
again, pleading silently for her to understand. "I can be
everything for you, Scully. Please let me try."

Why wasn't she saying anything? Maybe he was being too
obsessive, too suffocating. As hard as the words were to
get past his mouth, he said them. "You don't even have to
love me back, it would be o-kay," he forced out. "And I
won't be so needy, Scully. You think I can't do it but I
can! Whatever you want, I can do. I can give you as much
or as little as you need. All I want is for you to be
happy..." He was desperate for her concession. Surely she
couldn't turn him down now, could she? "You were happy
with me, weren't you?" he asked, hesitating.

She smiled, and it was a beautiful sight to see. It
reached her eyes. "Yes, I was happy, Mulder," she
answered.

"See? See?" he jumped in eagerly. "I can do that. I can
do it forever." His other hand came around to grab her
hand. God, he was holding her hands. For a moment he was
completely overcome by the simple joy in having her hands
enveloped with his - it was as if all of the compassion and
strength she was capable of was imbued in the small
capacity of her palms and fingers.

"So you were pretending not to love me, so that you could
get me to fall in love with you?" she asked matter-of-
factly.

He mulled that over. "Sounds like crap when you say it."
It sounded familiar; he thought he had said that to her
before. "It made sense at the time," he defended himself.

Inside, he was doing somersaults. This was very, very
good. She didn't sound upset or angry, and she was
allowing him to hold her hands. Dared he hope...?

Suddenly she began to laugh, much to his consternation. He
was just starting to feel the first stirrings of hurt
beneath his confusion, when she explained.

"You're an idiot, Mulder." Her smile was securely in
place, her eyes now shining with amusement instead of
tears. She reached over to give him a quick peck on his
temple, and he got the feeling it had been an impulse she
wasn't able to control.

He felt a sense of deja vu. Hadn't he already heard that
once tonight? "Yeah, that seems to be the general
consensus." He was a little too confused by the sudden
turn of events to fully process the fact that she'd just
kissed him.

That made her laugh again, and he smiled uncertainly. The
air in the room was so much lighter than it had been only
moments before. He was glad, of course, that she was
finding merriment in this situation, but where did that
leave him? How was he supposed to respond? "Want to share
the joke?" He hadn't meant to sound so irritated, but he
couldn't help it. He'd just spilled his guts in the most
daring move he'd ever made in his life, and the woman he
loved was laughing - and it seemed, at him.

"It might only be amusing to me," she said casually.

"Try me."

A red eyebrow arched. "Temper, temper, Mulder. I won't
tell you if you keep pouting like that." She smiled.
"Ready?" At his nod, she continued conspiratorially,
"Here's what's funny: if you hadn't been trying so hard to
keep me from seeing that you loved me - which you did very
well, by the way, I commend you on a fine performance - you
might have caught that I was doing the same thing."

He played her words over in his head a few times before he
would let himself believe what she was saying.

Scully apparently did not feel the need to practice the
patience she had so recently preached to him, and grew
annoyed waiting for his response. "Should I rephrase that
into simpler terms?" she asked sarcastically.

He nodded; he was still too overcome by what he was pretty
sure she'd just admitted, and wanted her to relay the
message in no uncertain terms.

Her face grew serious. Removing her hands from his, she
placed her hands on either side of his jaw and drew his
head down to hers, so that their foreheads and the tips of
their noses touched. Looking directly into his eyes, she
whispered, "I'm in love with you, Fox Mulder."

Crazy, overwhelming, exhilarating euphoria burst open in
his chest. It was only natural, with their faces so close,
that he should close the distance and kiss her fiercely, so
this he did. It was passion and frenzy and need, all
combining into the sweetest, most intense kiss he'd ever
known.

She loved him. She'd said she loved him. And now he was
kissing the woman he loved, and it was even better than
that - the woman he loved was loving and kissing him right
back.

He broke the kiss to whisper, "I feel like I'm dreaming."
And in fact, he felt dizzy and out of control, as dreams
were wont to be. Suddenly he felt a sharp, stinging pain
on his shoulder. "Ow!" Mulder jerked back involuntarily,
staring at Scully. "What'd you pinch me for?"

"Just reassuring you that you're not dreaming," she
answered. "And punishment was in order. Who said you
could stop kissing me?"

He grinned, delighted. So the slight throbbing on his
shoulder was a love wound. He could live with that.
That's what he got for falling in love with a redhead.
"I'd kiss you for the rest of my life, if I could," he said
with feeling.

"Do you always have to be so extreme, Mulder?"

"Always," he answered unrepentantly. "But that's why you
love me, isn't it?"

"I'm sure you know it's one of the reasons why I love you,"
she replied, smiling.

"What are the others?" he asked eagerly.

Looking at him from beneath her lashes, the look she gave
him was mysterious. "I can't divulge all my secrets at
once, Mulder."

He considered whining, but thought better of it. He had
the rest of his life to learn them all. This caused his
face to split into a huge grin. "Okay...then tell me you
love me, again."

"You love me again."

"Scuh-leee."

"All right. I love you."

"Again."

"I love you."

"Again."

"At this rate, you're going to get sick of hearing it."

He was amazed by the very idea, and such was evident in his
voice when he said, "I could never get sick of hearing you
saying that to me, Scully - never. I love you. Okay, your
turn."

"Mulder." She was exasperated, he could tell. "When you
were a little boy, you wore out your new toys in the first
week you got them, didn't you?"

"No," he said seriously. "Any toy I liked to play with
over and over, I took very good care of." He kissed her
softly. Looking directly into her eyes, he promised
solemnly, a catch in his voice, "I am going to take such
good care of you."

She maneuvered herself so that she was sitting on his lap.
Her hands were resting on his shoulders, but one lifted to
trail up over the side of his neck, and then further up to
cup his cheek. "You already do," she answered simply.

He noticed that her eyes were watery again, and quickly
moved to kiss them closed. "Don't cry anymore, Scully. I
hate to see you cry," he confessed miserably.

"Mulder...I'm glad I'm crying." She attempted a smile, and
it only made him more confused before she elaborated. "I
wasn't able to cry before this, and I felt like my grief
was choking me. Your being here like this...just being
=you=, it touches something inside me, and it lets me open
up. Thank you," she whispered.

"You're welcome," he said tentatively, still not completely
certain that making Scully cry was ever a good thing.

When she opened her eyes once more, Mulder saw with relief
that the threat of tears had dissipated. She sniffed, and
her face was adorably pink from emotion. He felt her trace
the tearstains on his own face. "And I hate to see you
cry, too, Mulder," she said in a gentle voice. "We've
cried more than our share in this life. So we'll just have
to make sure we do less of it from now on."

"Okay," he agreed quickly, relieved.

"And no more hiding things from each other."

"Of course not." He was appalled by the very idea. "I
wouldn't have done it, except - "

"Yes, yes," she brushed him off. "We've already
established that you're an idiot."

He hoped he didn't look as crestfallen as he felt. "But
I'm not," he protested, before amending, "Or if I am one,
you're one too. You were doing the same thing, =and= you
went out with some other guy! Besides, I was the one who
came here to spill my guts; =you= were the one who ended
things between us!"

The reminder of the torture he had gone through the day
before was enough to make him truly distressed, not to
mention the reminder of her quasi-date with another man.
He never wanted to feel as he'd felt on either of those
occasions ever again. He pinned her with an accusatory
gaze, even as he wrapped his arms around her to pull her
close. "You know you nearly killed me, Scully. Why did
you do it?"

A guilty look stole over her face before it was replaced by
a glare. She clasped her hands around his neck. "What do
you mean, why, Mr. Let's-Have-Sex-To-Relieve-Stress? I had
to protect myself from being emotionally traumatized!"

"Emotional trauma? What about imposing all those stupid
rules on our fledgling relationship? You were determined
not to feel anything!"

"That's right, I wasn't - not with you running around
assuring me every five minutes that all you wanted from me
was sex!"

"I didn't just want sex! I was in love with you, dammit!"
he shouted.

"Well, how was I supposed to know that? You did everything
you could to hide it from me," she said in rebuttal.

"Well, maybe I didn't want to get hurt."

"Well, maybe =I= didn't want to get hurt."

They were both breathing hard. There was silence as they
both brooded, and Mulder wondered in panic if Scully had
now changed her mind and decided she was mistaken and
couldn't be in love with an idiot like him, after all. Why
couldn't he just keep his damn mouth shut? How had they
degenerated into yelling at each other, anyway?

He was just about to apologize when Scully said
thoughtfully, "I think we just had our first romantic-
associated fight, Mulder."

"Yeah...so?" he asked warily. Here it came; she was going
to announce that their personalities were too different,
that this wasn't going to work...all the things he knew
weren't true. He gripped her tightly to him, and mentally
prepared for the argument he was sure would be occurring
momentarily. There was one thing he knew for sure: he
wasn't letting go. It was then that he noticed she was
holding onto him just as firmly, allowing him to relax...a
little. Scully was nothing if not clever. He had to be
prepared for anything.

She smiled brilliantly at him, the appearance of her teeth
lending feral effect. She drew seductively nearer,
bringing her mouth close to the skin of his neck. He could
feel her warm breath on him, and goosebumps rose all over
his body. "You know what happens after a fight, don't you,
Mulder?" she murmured.

He blinked. She definitely didn't sound mad. In fact,
that tone of voice was rather familiar...one that his cock
immediately recognized, as it twitched to attention.
"What?" he rasped.

"You know." She adjusted herself so that the swell of her
bottom brushed up against the front of his sweatpants, and
he groaned. "Make up sex," she purred against the side of
his neck, her lips just touching the skin there. "It's
required."

He shivered, involuntarily bringing one of his hands around
to the rapidly swelling hardness at the front of his pants,
while keeping his other arm around Scully. At least he was
wearing sweats. The restriction wasn't =too= uncomfortable
...yet.

"If you s-say s-so," he said cooperatively, his eyelids
dropping down.

She was obviously pleased with his reaction because she
nibbled lightly at his neck before placing her hand over
his, encouraging him to cup himself fully through the
material of his sweats.

"Will you indulge me in something, Mulder?" she breathed
into his ear, and he trembled.

Oh, Scully, I would do anything for you. "A-anything," he
promised. He'd never been more serious in his life.

With effort, given how strongly he was holding her, she
moved away from him. He tightened his grip, intending to
pull her close again. She firmly resisted, and reluctantly
he stopped exerting pressure.

She took her hand away from his, and now they weren't
touching at all. Collapsing his weight fully against the
cushions, he reluctantly removed his hand from the front of
his pants, feeling somewhat conscious about it now that
they were separated.

"Okay, then...I want to go to your place." She licked her
lips.

He was dumbfounded. Why in the world would she want that?
It was so much nicer here. It was so Scully here.
Although, that was probably not a very good bargaining
point. And besides... "We're already here. What's wrong
with here?"

Scully rolled her eyes. "We =always= do it here."

"So?" He was defensive. She made it sound as though he
was a boring old man, set in his ways. He thought he was
pretty adventuresome - he just liked making love in her
bed, feeling surrounded by her. "And, no we don't."

"Usually," she dismissed.

"But we're already here," he repeated, staring at her. Why
wasn't she using =reason=?

She leaned forward into his space again, then straddled
him.
She wrapped her arms around his neck, rubbing her breasts
against his chest - an obvious ploy to make him forget his
arguments. It worked, and he saw small sparks as his brain
short-circuited. All thoughts of resisting further were
decisively tossed to the wayside.

"I want to make love on your couch, Mulder. I've always
wanted to, and it's the one place we haven't done it yet.
Isn't that strange? Don't you think it would be
appropriate for us to christen the last place we haven't
made love on the day we cleared up all these
misunderstandings?" She felt so good, sitting on top of
him like that. Her mouth was so close. He wanted to kiss
it. But she kept talking. "It would be a symbolic gesture
of all we've been through to reach this point."

He was distracted by the bottoms of her feet, which were
normally sources of delight for him – Scully's skin was so
soft there – but what he liked to see was frustratingly out
of sight. "Scully, you're still wearing your shoes."

She sighed in exasperation. "Do you ever listen to
anything I say?"

"Every word," he swore. "You know I love listening to you.
You want to go to my place and make love on my couch," he
relayed smugly, still having no idea why. He wasn't sure
she was making any sense to herself, either. His arms
reached out, his hands pushing on her tennis shoes to get
them off.

She swatted at his hands. "Stop that. If we're going to
your place, I'll have to put them back on."

"But I want to feel your feet."

"Do I know about this fetish?"

"I don't know." He stopped his attentions to her shoes for
the moment, nuzzling his face into her breasts. "You know
about this fetish, though."

He felt pretty damn gratified when she moaned.

"Yeah, I know about that one," she gasped.

Mulder ran his hands over her calves, up the sides of her
thighs and then under, to cup her gently rounded bottom.
"What about this one?" he asked, rubbing his nose against
her nipple.

"Uhm...uh hum...yeah..."

Already she was becoming incoherent. He grinned to
himself; he'd get them to stay here yet.

He hadn't expected a counterattack, but should have. If
he'd been in any position to do so, he would have expressed
his admiration at her skills. As it was, he could only
witness as his resistance crumbled in the wake of a far
superior warrior. There was, however, still one soldier
standing proudly at attention, who loved the enemy too much
to fight her, who wanted to make love, not war...

She grabbed the back of his neck, pushing his face firmly
into the soft, sweet-smelling mounds of her breasts as she
gyrated her hips against him in a circular motion. He
jerked up involuntarily, his cock hitting the area between
her legs, and he saw stars, it felt so good.

When her hand reached between them and cupped his balls, he
was done for.

"I want to go to your place," Scully stated again, gulping
from her own arousal. She was more in control of her
faculties than he was of his, however, and he did not
begrudge her this. The great thing about these power
struggles was that he inevitably lost most of them, but he
wasn't really losing at all. There were only winners.

One last attempt before he waved the little white flag.
"Why, again?"

She rolled her hips again and he groaned. "There are
several reasons, actually. First is that we've never done
it there and I think it's about time we did. Second
is...second is..." He wasn't really listening anymore; he
was too busy trying to capture her nipple between his lips.
It was tricky, being as how said nipple was hidden behind a
t-shirt and her bra, both rather slippery for his task.
"Second is that I think it would be...uhm...symbolic."

Symbolic of what? And did he really care at this point?
If indulging her in this meant that much to her, then he
was thrilled to do it. Ecstatic, even. His mission in
life was to make Scully happy.

"Get your coat."

~~~~~~~~
Chapter Fifteen
~~~~~~~~

On the way to Mulder's Apartment
September 30
1:45 a.m.

In the end, it was really an impulsive decision, borne of
too much unhappiness and guilt being swept away in a sudden
onslaught of overwhelming relief and joy.

Scully knew that Mulder didn't understand why she'd
insisted on leaving the comfort of her apartment to go to
his place. She wasn't sure she completely understood it
herself. All she knew was that it felt imperative that
they make love there.

She knew he enjoyed making love at her place because he
liked being surrounded by her things. Normally, she didn't
mind this. In fact, it was sweet and flattering, and
didn't cost her anything to indulge him. Now, however, she
felt the need to be surrounded by =Mulder's= things, to be
encompassed by =him=, after coming so close to nearly
losing him.

Perhaps it was selfish – but dammit, Mulder was hers now
and she was allowed to be selfish.

There were, of course, many questions that still needed to
be asked and answered, but at this point, the only things
that needed clarification were just details. And those
could wait. After what she had been through on an
emotional level the past few days, there was nothing more
she wanted or needed at the moment than to feel the
physical proof that Mulder was with her. Really =with=
her, in every way.

Eventually, she wanted to talk. To discuss all the
details, to iron out all the things they had done wrong to
get themselves to this point. But when a loved one is
almost lost to you, do you =talk= about such things when
first they are returned? No. You hug them. You kiss
them. You reassure yourself that they are alive and
healthy and safe in your arms. You want to hold them and
never let go.

She wanted to run her fingers over his skin and convince
herself that his presence wasn't a figment of her
imagination. She wanted to hold him close to her and make
him promise that he would never, ever leave her.

But most of all, she wanted to feel what it was to make
love to Mulder knowing that he was =making love= to her.
Of all the sexual positions they had tried over the last
few months, of all the locations and explorations of each
other's physical needs, she had never once been able to
experience their intimacy with the knowledge that what they
were doing had anything to do with love. Her natural
defense mechanisms had seen to that.

But now she would know what it was like. And she would get
the opportunity to purge what had happened in his apartment
only a few days ago, which, she realized, was partly her
motivation for making them take this ride. They would get
to dispel bad memories of the location and replace them
with good ones. She felt that this cleansing was the most
important thing in the world.

Apparently, Mulder felt similarly. He was maneuvering the
car as if prepping for the Indy 500. On the best of days,
he wasn't a cautious driver, but tonight he was a menace.
Normally, she would have rebuked him with a look, but
tonight she was in as much of a hurry as he.

Still, he seemed to sense her innate wariness - either that
or he knew her well enough to know that she would be far
from pleased by his maniacal driving - and quickly
reassured her, "I drove like this on the way to your place;
there wasn't a cop in sight."

The last thing she was worried about was a ticket. It was
their lives that were in jeopardy. Well, that was an
exaggeration – Mulder was actually an excellent driver and
she trusted him implicitly.

However, this did not diminish the strain she felt when he
nearly sideswiped a vehicle, and narrowly missed a street
lamp, both of which had the singular misfortune of being on
the same street Mulder had chosen to take. Luckily, the
lateness of the hour and the chill in the air kept any
would-be late-night strollers from making an appearance,
although it had stopped raining. It would certainly be a
risky move, with Mulder at the wheel in his current state.

It was flattering, however, to see the evidence of how much
he wanted her. He was risking life and limb to have her,
and quickly. Well, either that, or he needed to pee again.

The problem was, she had never been much in doubt as to
whether Mulder wanted her. She knew he did, with an
intensity that at times took her breath away. To know that
he loved her...well, that was something she had only let
herself consider in the deepest cavities of her heart. And
soon she would know what it was to be made love to by
Mulder, while being able to openly acknowledge that he
loved her.

She believed him. There was no way they would be where
they were if she entertained even the slightest doubt.
Mulder wouldn't lie about something like that. Other men
would and did all the time; false words of love were
uttered with appalling ease. But not Mulder, the silly
man. He was much more apt to tell her that he =didn't=
love her when he did, out of misguided notions.
Deciphering how Mulder's mind worked often proved to be an
exhausting yet fascinating exercise. She was sure this
time would prove no different.

When he had begun his awkward confession, part of her had
already known what was coming. She had anticipated it with
fervent hope and abject dread. The reason for the hope was
obvious. The dread was in knowing that she wouldn't be
able to accept his confession of love at face value; no
matter what, she would have to be convinced.

For even though Mulder would never knowingly lie about
loving her, she had to believe he was susceptible to the
fairly common affliction of believing himself to be in love
when in fact he was not. It would be all too easy to
mistake his affection for her as a friend, and her role as
a convenient sexual outlet, for love - especially when
those things seemed threatened, as they certainly must have
when she had ended things between them.

But for once she was more inclined to believe him than not,
and when she had searched his face for evidence, she had
been confronted with the truth. It was all there in his
eyes - all the love in the world reflecting back on her.
Mulder's eyes had always been open windows to his soul, at
least for her, and he had never been able to hide anything
from her there.

At least, not when she was looking. These past few months,
she had been so afraid of what she would see there that she
hadn't really looked at all. She chastised herself for it
now, for had she had more courage then, they would have
both been spared a lot of heartache and pain.

"Okay, Scully, come on," Mulder urged breathlessly,
practically vaulting out of the now-unmoving vehicle.

She had been so absorbed in her thoughts that she hadn't
noticed they had arrived at their destination.

Walking as fast as she could, she was still no match for
Mulder's long, hurried strides. He kept one hand on her
back while the other tugged on her wrist – once or twice,
she was even in danger of tripping, but his hold on her was
such that he easily lifted her for that fraction of a
second and preempted any possible accidents.

At any other time, she would have given him her blistering
opinion on what she thought of his manhandling ways, but
she sensed his urgent need, and rather reveled in it. She
would not be reprimanding him for wanting her too much, not
tonight. Perhaps not ever.

The elevator buttons were abused. Though announcing with
their lit faces that the desired destination information
was received and acknowledged, they were punched several
more times by an impatient male finger.

"Come on, come on," Mulder muttered, as the elevator doors
slowly closed.

For her part, Scully was not immune to the electricity that
sparked in the air between them. She was glad that he was
constantly touching her; if he didn't maintain contact, she
would have to.

The elevator doors finally opened, and she and Mulder
cleared them in record speed. However, halfway down the
hall, he suddenly stopped short. "Shit, I left it in the
car," he muttered.

"Left what in the car?" she asked, tugging him further down
to his apartment, not really caring. She was more
concerned with the fact that his attention was no longer
concentrated on getting her naked and writhing on his
couch. Could it be that her feminine wiles were slipping?
Had the confession of her love somehow made her less
attractive as a sexual being?

She had gotten them to his front door. His gaze dropped
down to her lips, his eyes darkening with intent. Her
heart thrummed excitedly at the look on his face.

"Never mind," he said, split seconds before his head
dropped and he touched his lips to hers.

The kiss deepened immediately as Scully eagerly opened her
mouth to allow him entrance. It had been less than an
hour, but it felt like an eternity since they had last
kissed.

His tongue swept in, dueling with hers in a wet greeting.
He was fierce in his possession, rubbing his tongue gently,
lovingly, against hers, then running it along the roof of
her mouth and along her teeth. He was re-familiarizing
himself, she realized - and knew that the past week had
been a long time for him, too.

It was unbearably touching, and the movement of his tongue
inside her mouth was a heady feeling in itself. She felt
herself turn into a puddle of goo, and would have slipped
right down to the floor had his strong arms not caught her
and kept her upright.

Mulder made a frustrated sound in his throat, and broke the
kiss, chest heaving. She whimpered in disappointment, not
capable of more sound than that, though she wanted to
question why he had halted the proceedings.

Without saying anything, he suddenly grabbed her behind her
thighs and lifted her legs up to wrap around his waist, her
back supported by his apartment door. She understood at
last that it was a matter of leverage. He'd probably
gotten a cramp in his neck from the position they were in
before.

She wrapped her arms around his neck as his hands went
about her waist, and he captured her mouth again for a
second round. The desperate urgency of the last kiss was
missing from this one, but it was no less fierce. She
sensed that his need to reclaim her mouth as his territory
had abated, and she took this opportunity to do some
reclaiming of her own.

Just a few hours ago she had believed she would be denied
this pleasure for the rest of her life. The recollection
prompted her to cherish this experience all the more,
sucking on his lips as if her very life depended on it.
She echoed his movements from only a few moments before in
his exploration of her mouth, touching her tongue to every
crevice inside his mouth that she could reach, until he
groaned, the sound reverberating into her. It was a
wonderful sensation, to feel his need and his love blend
into that involuntary sound.

He was pressing her so hard against the door that she was
sure the imprint of "42" would be branded on the back of
her head for a week. But stopping was not to be
considered, not for such a trite, unimportant reason.

Mulder had patiently allowed her exploration, his tongue
only giving a gentle caress now and again against hers as
she went about her business, but apparently he had grown
impatient and wanted back in on the action.

When her tongue darted forth again, he immediately slanted
his mouth at an angle that would allow deeper access for
them both. She was clutching his neck so hard that she
thought she surely must be strangling him. However, since
he wasn't complaining, she didn't let up - she suspected
that this anchor was the only thing keeping her body from
utter liquefaction.

He trapped her tongue between his lips and began to suck
voraciously, nipping lightly now and again with his teeth,
and she felt a rush of hot liquid between her legs. It had
been pooling for some time now, and had probably already
soaked through her panties and perhaps even through her
sweatpants. Wouldn't it be embarrassing if he pulled away
from her sporting a big wet stain on the front of his pants
from her?

If it hadn't already happened, it would happen soon enough
if they kept this up.

Her eyes, which had been closed so she could savor their
kisses without distraction, popped open. Her brain
registered that they were in his hallway, for heaven's
sake, and despite the late hour could be discovered in this
compromising position.

"Mulder, we should get inside," she said. But as he still
had hold of her tongue, it sounded more like "Uh-her, ee
ooh eht enhie."

Keeping one arm around his neck, she used her free hand to
push uselessly against his shoulder. He didn't budge an
inch, and she decided that this was one of the times his
superior strength was less a turn-on than it was a source
of aggravation.

Without other recourse, what she did was dive back into his
kiss. She coaxed him to relinquish control, which he did,
and she could now break the kiss at any time.

She could break the kiss at any time. Come on, woman,
break the kiss!

But they were kissing so languidly now, so sweetly, that
she was extremely loath to end it.

The distant sound of the elevator doors was processed. The
idea that someone would see this very private moment
spurred her into action. She broke off the kiss abruptly,
a loud popping sound resulting from the action, followed
immediately by a loud sound of protest from Mulder. She
unwrapped her legs from his waist, preparing to slide down
to the floor.

She found herself embraced in a viselike grip as Mulder let
go of her hips only to wrap her securely in his arms,
leaning in close, making it impossible for her to move down
any further. He was pressed up firmly between her legs,
and she could feel the hardness of his erection lining up
with the part of her that strained and throbbed for him,
and the sensation made her groan.

"What are you doing?" Mulder asked, his voice slightly
tinged with panic. "Where are you going?"

She had to move her head to the side so that she could
focus on his face, he was so close. "Mulder, we're in your
hallway," she hissed, believing that whoever the elevator
doors had opened for would spot them any second, if it
wasn't already too late.

His relief that she hadn't changed her mind and wasn't
planning on leaving was almost palpable. She almost
smiled. "So?" he asked.

"I think someone's coming. I heard the elevator," she
shared.

He, of course, had no shame, and turned his head to look
down the hall toward the elevator. She buried her face in
his neck, mortified.

She could hear the grin in his voice as he whispered,
"There's no one there, Scully."

Her head jerked up. "Are you sure? I thought I heard the
elevator..." She turned to look for herself; indeed, the
hallway was empty save for the two of them. "Well, all the
same, I think we should go inside now," she said firmly.

His eyes danced. "Mmm, good idea." He backed up a little,
and the sudden lack of support caused her legs to slide
downward with appalling abruptness. When her feet hit the
floor, her knees felt rubbery and weak, and nearly gave out
on her. She slammed her palms back against the door to
keep herself from collapsing into an ignominious heap in
front of Mulder's feet.

He noted her difficulty with amusement, damn him. "Need
some help?" he offered.

She itched to wipe that smug smile off his face. All in
due time. "I'm fine," she said. "Want to unlock the
door?"

The trembling of his fingers belied his smug tone. After
several aborted attempts at inserting his key into the
lock, she finally had to say it.

"Need some help?"

"Shut up, Scully." At last, the key slid into place and
the door was opened.

Scully wondered if a tsunami had ever been recorded as
having gone through a residence before. If not, Mulder's
apartment would be the first. It was a complete disaster,
worse than she had ever seen it. She could barely see the
floor for all the things covering it.

"Ah – okay, then." She wasn't quite sure what to say. She
had the feeling this had something to do with what had
happened Saturday, but she didn't want to bring that up,
both because she didn't want to remind either of them of
that awful time, and because possibly it had nothing to do
with...this...at all.

She had never seen Mulder's cheeks warm to that color red
before. He'd been rosy from drinking, but this was another
flush entirely. He was obviously embarrassed.

"Sorry about the mess," he mumbled, bending to pick up some
scattered paper. He wouldn't look at her.

She shut the door, since he had apparently forgotten all
about it, and righted a couple of chairs.

"Mulder - " she hesitated. She felt like she had to say
=something=, but didn't quite know what.

Suddenly making his way to her, he took her in his arms.
His closeness caused her to forget what she was going to
say, if in fact she was going to say anything at all.

"I don't want to talk about it," he declared.

"All right. We don't have to," she agreed softly.

His arms tightened until she was pressed against him in a
tight hug, her arms wrapped around his waist.

"I missed you," he said, and she could tell that he was
trying to rein in his emotions. "I missed you a lot."

Scully felt her own eyes grow damp. God, it had been such
a relief to finally be able to cry back at her apartment,
and now she couldn't seem to stop. All it had taken was
Mulder. It was truly a magic hold that he had on her, this
ability to make her express emotion when she had taught
herself at an early age to be reserved. She always =felt=
the emotion; she just found it difficult to express it
sometimes. Not with Mulder. With Mulder, it all just ran
out of her. It embarrassed her at times. But she wouldn't
change how he was capable of affecting her, for the world.

She almost smiled. "Did you know that you're capable of
supernatural powers?"

There was silence, then: "What?"

She'd thrown him. What a nice change from the way things
normally worked between them. "You. All this time you've
been searching for proof of extraordinary powers, and here
you've possessed them the whole time."

He finally let up on his hold, so that he could look down
and see her face. "I've never looked for proof," he said
in an affronted tone. "That's your job. I just contend."

"You mean you make wild assertions and pull theories out of
your ass," she retorted.

His pearly whites made an appearance. "Yeah."

She rolled her eyes, then stepped away from him to make her
way over to the couch. Seating herself, she burrowed in as
far as she could burrow into leather, then raised an
eyebrow. "Well? Are you going to stand there all night?"

"Maybe. I have a pretty good view."

"You'll have a better one if you come closer," she
promised. She saw the front of his pants react to her
statement, and she smiled in what she hoped was not too
predatory a manner.

He swallowed - she could see his Adam's apple bob even from
where she was. Slowly, he made his way over to the couch,
then knelt down next to her.

"You're really good at this," he sighed. "You always win."

"I have lots of motivation...I get such a sexy prize." She
put a hand on his chest, looking at him hungrily.

He let out a squeak, then cleared his throat. "I don't
know if you're ready for your prize," he said nonchalantly.
"It may be too...potent...for you."

She responded to the sexy undertone of his voice. "Oh,
really? I think I am, but how do I know for sure? I
wouldn't want to be prematurely...worn out."

Mulder seemed to consider for a moment. "That is a very
good question. I think a series of experiments will
unearth your answer for you, Dr. Scully."

Tricky devil. "Hmm. What kind of experiments?"

"Well...they're rather - risqué."

She couldn't help it; her eyebrow shot up. "Oh, really?"

"Yes. Perhaps too avant garde for you."

Even though she knew he was teasing, she rose to the bait.
"That's twice you've questioned my stamina. I think I'm
fully capable of what you have in mind."

It was his turn to raise his eyebrows, and his eyes
twinkled. "Now you have me intrigued. But saying the
words is easy.   How do I know you'll actually go through
with it, when push comes to shove?"

She reached out to trace the outline of his lower lip.
"When push comes to shove, you can bet I'll go through with
it," she answered huskily.

Scully saw a dull flush splash Mulder's cheekbones, and
felt enormous satisfaction. She had made him blush! She'd
actually made the king of innuendo blush.

He cleared his throat, recovering quickly. "I'm glad you
said that, because this involves...the removing of
clothes."

She nearly laughed at the way he managed to sound
scandalized, appalled, and excited all at once, when she
knew he only felt the last.

"Oh, my," she played along, trying her best to sound
shocked. "You mean I have to take off my clothes? All of
them?"

He nodded vigorously. "Yes. All."

"I don't know. What if I get cold?"

"I'll keep you warm," he assured her.

She suppressed a shiver from the promise she saw in his
eyes. "I believe you," she answered faintly.

"All right, so - whenever you're ready," he said, obviously
trying to hide his eagerness.

Not so fast. "What about you?"

"What about me?"

"Well, it doesn't seem fair that I have to be the only one
who's naked," she pointed out reasonably.

"Oh." He looked genuinely sorry that she had thought of
this. Then he brightened. "You won't be the only one."

"I won't?"

"I plan on joining you, eventually."

"Eventually." She did her best to sound skeptical of such
a plan. Luckily, she had had a lot of practice. She gave
the appearance of considering whether this was a good deal
for her.

"Scuh-lee," he whined. "This is =my= fantasy."

She found him irresistible when he whined like that, though
it would be disastrous to let him know that. So instead,
she questioned with amusement, "This is your fantasy?"

"Yes. Well, one of them," he amended.

She had always been curious about this, and now she was in
the perfect position to find out more. "You have fantasies
about me?" she asked innocently. "You have fantasies about
me on this couch?"

Mulder laughed in genuine amusement. "You're kidding,
right?"

Scully shook her head. It was something she had =assumed=,
but how could she know it if he had never told her?

He answered solemnly, "I have had fantasies about you while
I was on this couch, yes. I have had fantasies about you
=being= on this couch, yes. In every way you could
possibly mean that question, the answer is yes." He didn't
look ashamed at all.

She was entirely too thrilled with his answer. "Well...to
be fair, I've also had fantasies about you being on this
couch," she admitted.

He had the cheek to be sarcastic. "Gee, really? Is that
why we drove all the way here even though we had a
perfectly good couch and bed where we were?"

She frowned, putting her index finger against his lips.
God, she loved the way that felt. Apparently, so did he,
because he quieted immediately and didn't move. "I'm not
finished. I've also had fantasies about you while sitting
on this couch."

His eyes widened just a fraction. "You have?" he asked
against her finger. "When?"

"Oh, lots of times," she said airily.

"While we're working?"

"Mm hmm. Especially when you're wearing your glasses," she
revealed with a teasing smile.

"You like the Clark Kent look, huh? What about when we're
watching TV?"

"Yup. The thoughts in my head are much more interesting
than anything on television."

"What a coincidence. Mine, too," he revealed, unabashed.
"Even while we're eating pizza?"

"Especially then." She grinned. "You always get tomato
sauce in the most...fantasy-inspiring places," she shared.
"Like...your lip..." She used her index finger and ran it
down his pouty lower lip. "Your chin..." The finger then
trailed down to that location. "And I just want to..."
She leaned forward and flicked her tongue lightly against
his chin, causing him to jump in a most adorable way.

Scully leaned back, suddenly blase again. "And...I have
fantasies about you fantasizing about me while you're on
this couch." She gave him a look of triumph. Beat that.

"You fantasize about that?" he squeaked.

"I imagine that when you're thinking about me, you're also
engaged in...other activities at the same time. Am I
right?"

"You have no idea."

She smiled. "That's what I thought," she said in
satisfaction. She was feeling just a little bit gleeful.
And smug.

"Well then, since we're both here, it looks like fate has
presented us with an unprecedented opportunity."

"And that would be...?"

"To make each other's fantasies come true."

Her mouth went dry. His words weren't entirely unexpected,
but their effect was not diminished one iota. She was
intrigued, excited, and wary all at the same time. She had
always wondered exactly what kind of fantasies Mulder had
about her - and now, not only would she know, but she would
get to experience them firsthand.

She couldn't quite suppress the shiver that ran down her
spine. However, she thought she managed to sound quite
calm when she spoke. "Who goes first?" The idea of
telling him about the things she fantasized, before he
shared his with her, wasn't very appealing. She felt a
little shy of this prospect, in spite of all they had
already done with each other. Amazing. She quickly
amended, "Never mind. You go first."

He seemed to hesitate. "It's actually...pretty
simplistic."

Scully was relieved. She smiled encouragingly. "That's
okay. Mine are usually simplistic, too," she confessed.

"To tell you the truth, just the act of making love to you
here would pretty much fulfill every one of them."

Hers, too. "That's sweet, Mulder. But I know there must
be...specifics involved." She looked at him expectantly.

Taking a deep breath, he began, "You're naked."

"Already? No striptease or anything?"

"I told you it was simplistic."

"All right. So I'm just...naked. For no apparent reason."

His eyes glinted wickedly. "Oh - there's a reason." He
moved away a little. "So? Take off your clothes."

"Wait. I want to know what's going to happen," she argued.

"Scuh-lee." He rolled his eyes. "So typical. I'll tell
you as we go along. It'll be more fun that way."

She bit her lip, considering. "All right," she said
grudgingly. "But if you drag out a chest of electronic
devices, I'll have to hurt you."

"The key word here is: simple. The only device you'll be
handling...is mine." He parted the lapels of her light
cotton jacket and brought his thumb to one of her hardened
nipples, pressing firmly through her t-shirt. The action
was so unexpected that she gave an involuntary jump as a
tide of warmth flooded the area between her legs once more.
Since this only added to the evidence of their earlier
activities out in his hallway, she was made aware that her
panties were getting very uncomfortable. It would actually
be a relief to take them off.

She was also amused that they had embarked on this sexual
adventure when they were both decidedly at their most
unglamorous, sporting comfy sweats, t-shirts, and tennis
shoes.

"Okay, Mulder, I can live with that," she replied in a low
voice. She began to remove her jacket. He got up, and it
looked like he was going to leave the room. "Where the
hell are =you= going?"

"I'm not supposed to be here," he explained in a reasonable
tone of voice. "I just...find you here."

"You just find me here. Naked on your couch. Like that's
plausible."

He sighed. "It's a =fantasy=. And it's not plausible?"

She thought about that. "Well..."

"I've been away for a long, long time," he added.

"You have? Where have you been?"

"It doesn't matter. But you haven't seen me in a long
time. You've been coming here to feed my fish."

"I see. I'm dumping fish food into the tank, and then I
think, what the hell, I'll just get naked and sit on
Mulder's couch."

"Now you're getting it!" He grinned, not fazed at all by
her teasing. "=And= you think, what the hell, why don't I
just masturbate?"

"I think WHAT?"

"You're such a naughty girl."

"I don't want to – " she protested. She wanted =him=, not
herself.

"Pleeeease, Scully," he pleaded, widening his eyes to form
that look she couldn't say no to.

Mulder always indulged her when she asked the same of him.
Wasn't it fair for her to return the favor? It wasn't as
though she wouldn't enjoy it. So she wanted =him= more.
So what? She would still have him... "Okay."

He fairly glowed with delight. "I'll be in the bedroom.
When you're done undressing, lie down on the couch, so
you're facing my desk. You can't see me. Oh, and
Scully..." His voice grew husky. "Don't worry, you won't
be alone for long..."

She was amused in spite of herself. As he retreated to the
bedroom, she made short work of disposing her clothes. As
she had suspected, removing her underwear was blissful.
The evidence of her desire had cooled, the cold wetness
pressing against her skin uncomfortably. She was a little
embarrassed by how much of it there was, making the insides
of her thighs sticky, but figured that was probably good
for what Mulder had in mind.

Settling herself onto her back, she wondered what she was
supposed to do now. Sure, she knew the technicalities of
what she was supposed to be doing, but it just seemed a
little - crude. Simply reaching down there and doing what
she had done a thousand times before didn't seem right for
this occasion.

She wondered what it would be like if Mulder really were
gone for a "long time." What was a long time? A week?
She tried to imagine not seeing Mulder for a week. Her
brow furrowed as she tried and failed to imagine such a
scenario. She remembered that they had been away from each
other the past couple of days, and that had been torture.
Two days, and she had been frantic to see him, to hear from
him. But that wasn't really a "long time" by normal
standards...so, three days, maybe? A week? A week was a
reasonably long time, wasn't it? So if two days was bad,
think of what a week would feel like...

Scully found herself actually missing Mulder. It was
ridiculous. He was in the next room and she was missing
him. But she wasn't supposed to know that he was in the
next room, she told herself. To her, he'd been gone for a
week. A week without seeing his face, hearing his voice,
breathing in his scent. Oh, God. She bit her lip. It was
ridiculous that she was missing him, really ridiculous.

But it wasn't as though he were gone for good, no. He
would be back soon. She was simply keeping his fish
company, providing them sustenance while Mulder was away.
In fact, they probably ate better when he was gone than
when he was actually there. Well, ostensibly she was here
to feed his fish. More likely, she was here because she
wanted to surround herself with his things.

If he'd been gone for a week that meant she hadn't had sex
in a week, at least. It was funny, but she'd gone years
without it and had been perfectly fine. She hadn't missed
it...well, at least, not the way she did after she and
Mulder had started sleeping together. Now she felt
deprived if she couldn't have sex with him, which had
actually only happened a few times - when she had gotten
her period, and the past week or so, when she thought she'd
never get to make love with him ever again.

So Mulder had been gone, she hadn't gotten any in all that
time, and now she was alone, horny, and missing him. Of
its own volition, her right hand trailed down her chest,
passing the valley between her breasts, past her stomach,
down, down, until she could feel the coarse texture of the
hair between her legs. So close to where she wanted to
touch herself, but not yet, not yet; it wasn't the right
time yet.

Her other hand lightly clasped her neck, then traveled down
to her collarbone, and she splayed her fingers before
finally moving lower, over the soft skin of her left
breast. Her fingers teased at herself, circling the area
around her nipple but never actually touching it. Her eyes
still closed, she pretended that it was Mulder's hands on
her, Mulder's fingers that finally pinched her nipple
between his fingers and tugged. She heard a moan and
realized that it was hers.

The fingers resting in the curls down below, which had been
patiently waiting for further orders, were put into action.
She touched the soft skin of her femininity, moaning softly
again at how good it felt. Mulder, it's Mulder, she told
herself, missing him.

But Mulder's fingers weren't so small; Mulder's fingers
weren't so soft. They were deliciously rough and big – big
enough that when he slid his fingers inside her she
actually felt stretched. Certainly more than when her
fingers were doing the job. And he had a callus on his
trigger finger that provided the most wonderful friction.
She shivered now as she imagined that finger sliding into
her, rubbing her insides in all the right ways.

Hearing her own gasping breaths, with no Mulder groans to
complement them, jarred her out of her illusion and she was
disappointed to find that it was only her own fingers
moving in and out of herself - not nearly as satisfying as
when Mulder did it.

She squeezed her eyes tightly closed, willing herself to
delve back into the fantasy. "Mulder," she murmured, as if
the mention of his name would conjure his presence.

And suddenly it was as though she could feel his light
touch gliding over her body, hovering for a moment over her
breasts before gliding like a ghost down to where she
craved his touch most. She could almost smell his scent,
almost hear his deep breathing as he concentrated on moving
his hands over her. She withdrew her fingers.

"Mulder...?" His name was but a breath of air as it passed
between her lips, and her eyelids felt too heavy to open.

Yes, yes, it was his hand there, parting her sweaty thighs
further, opening her up with his warm dry fingers. She
moved her lower body, desiring a more substantial touch.

"Keep your eyes closed," he whispered, and his voice seemed
to come from the edge of her consciousness. She did as he
asked, although she wasn't sure if the voice had come from
somewhere in her own mind.

Her phantom Mulder's touch was still too light. She wanted
more. She needed more.

Moving her hips insistently, she pushed down, and was
finally rewarded for her efforts. That finger, the finger
with the callus he probably didn't even know was there, was
sliding into her, rubbing against her, making her feel so
good. It was soon joined by another, both moving in and
out of her body at a leisurely pace.

Her right hand, the one that had so recently been doing
what his fingers had taken over, was lifted into the air.
Before she could process what was happening, he had taken
her middle and index fingers – still covered in her juices
- into his mouth.

It was incredibly hot in there, his tongue slick and soft.
He scraped his teeth against her knuckles, then sucked
strongly. She moaned. The fingers that had been keeping a
slow thrusting rhythm into her sped up, and she could hear
the wet sounds her body made as it was repeatedly invaded
by his long digits.

The physicality of it felt unbelievably good, and coupled
with her emotions, escalated too quickly. She was torn –
her body craved the release, while she wanted the feeling
to last longer. But she didn't want him to stop, either,
so she tightened her inner muscles around his fingers,
releasing slowly, repeating the action a few times. He
read her body language with efficiency, and slowed his
movements.

She wanted to see him, but was afraid to open her eyes. It
was odd, but though it all felt incredibly real, what if he
wasn't really there? What if she had only dreamed the past
few hours, and was really lying in her own bed at home,
waiting to wake up from this wonderful fantasy back into a
world in which Mulder would never, ever do these things to
her again? If this was only a dream, then she wanted it to
last a few moments longer. An eternity longer.

Yet almost against her will, her eyelids cracked open. The
first thing she saw when she opened her eyes was Mulder, so
real, so vibrantly real, kneeling next to the couch. And
he was looking right back at her.

He'd been reading her face the whole time, she realized,
even as his fingers had pleasured her. His mouth went
slack, and she slipped her fingers out, bringing her hand
up to his unshaven cheek. He leaned into it, staring at
her with those intense eyes of his, so dark, and made even
darker by the fact that somehow, all the lights had been
turned off. The only source of illumination came from the
moonlight that shone through the window in front of his
desk.

"You're here..." she said, and was mortified to feel the
dampness return once again to her eyes.

"I will always be here," he answered, his voice sounding
unnaturally loud in the quietness of the room.

"You'd better be," she said. Then, "Where are your
clothes?"

"I imagine, where I left them."

She remembered that they were supposed to be acting out a
fantasy. "Aren't you cheating?" she asked.

He shrugged, a grin tugging at his lips. "I...sped events
up a bit. It's my fantasy."

"You keep using that excuse."

"When it stops being applicable, I'll stop using it," he
said in a reasonable tone of voice. It was a pity she so
seldom heard it. "Besides," he added, lowering his voice,
"you were having so much fun out here on your own that I
got jealous."

She laughed.

He leaned down and spoke directly into her ear in a low,
sexy tone. "In my fantasies, only I get to have extended
time pleasuring you." A tremor ran through her entire
body, causing her nipples to pucker even further.

"Isn't that...kind of...selfish?" she gasped.

"I guess it is," he admitted, now trailing open-mouthed
kisses along her jaw and down her neck. "Don't you know
I'm very selfish when it comes to you, Scully?" He was
down to her breasts now, and he licked at a nipple. "I'll
work on it."

"I don't really m-mind," she said magnanimously, then
promptly forgot what their conversation was about as he
sucked her nipple into the hot cavern of his mouth and used
his tongue and lips to bring her to new heights of ecstasy.
Her hands clutched at his shoulders, which were deliciously
strong and smooth. Mulder had great shoulders.

He leaned over to give equal attention to her other breast,
and she took the opportunity to run her hand up the back of
his neck, into the lush softness of his hair. It was
unfair for a man to have hair this soft. It felt so good
between her fingers that she didn't let go even when he
began to move lower, kissing the valley between her breasts
and then over her stomach, lower and lower until there was
no mistaking his intentions.

Oh, God, with that mouth of his, and with his talents in
using it, there was no way she would be able to postpone an
orgasm; she was too close to it already. She wanted to
wait for him. Yet her legs began to shake slightly, and
her heart rate sped up in anticipation.

"M-mulder," she began, but couldn't find the voice to
actually hinder his progress.

"Do you know how wet you are for me, Scully?" he whispered,
having reached his destination. Before she could answer,
the flat of his tongue was firmly pressed against her, and
the sensation caused her to jerk against his face. He
began to lap at her softly, much like a kitten with a
saucer of cream.

Scully found it impossible to speak. Her vocal chords were
paralyzed; or rather, the part of her brain that normally
operated them was concentrated on something much different.
Mulder was playing with her now, licking and sucking at her
with just enough pressure to make it feel good, but not
enough to bring her over the edge.

He kept this up for some time. The sensations would build
and build until she was sure there was no postponing the
inevitable, ready to float in a sea of bliss... But then
he would prove her wrong, retreating from his efforts,
allowing her to return to the plane of simultaneous torture
and pleasure that made her think of being on a roller
coaster in that breath-stealing moment just as it was about
to plunge back down to earth.

Any time her body tensed up to prepare for orgasm, he would
slow his movements and move his head away so that her
feminine core was exposed to the cool air of the apartment.
It would take the edge off her need, until he brought his
mouth to her again and it started all over.

For a long time the only sounds that existed were the sound
of Mulder drinking from her steadily dripping fountain and
the sound of her small gasps as she tried to control her
response. It was true that she hadn't wanted to orgasm
yet, not without him, but she was aroused almost to the
point of pain. Her clit throbbed so heatedly that she
thought she would explode soon.

She eventually became so sensitive that even the slightest
touch brought more of the pleasurable ache, making it more
difficult to keep from climaxing. Mulder seemed to realize
this, and went out of his way to keep from touching her
there.

After long torturous minutes of this, he saw fit to slide
his tongue into her, making her cry out, and her hands flew
to his head to keep him there. Her inner muscles
involuntarily contracted, and were disappointed to find
that they were not clutching at a more substantial
appendage. She groaned her pleasure and her
disappointment.

"Please...please..." she whimpered, hoping that Mulder
would understand what she wanted, because it was simply
beyond her to ask for it more intelligibly.

He ignored her at first, continuing to delve in and out of
her with his tongue, making her muscles respond as if they
were having intercourse. It was wholly unsatisfying, for
even as his tongue whetted her appetite, it was far from
stimulating her hunger. But then he ceased, sucking at her
one last time, and proceeded to slide back up the couch,
deliberately rubbing his naked body against hers.

Her nerve endings were on the alert, and with every scrape
of his chest hair against her sensitive skin, her body was
subjected to an intense tremor of need and desire. She ran
her hands over the hard planes of chest, then over the
smooth expanse of his back as he drew closer. Mulder was
so big that for the two of them to fit on the couch, they
had to lie on their sides, and Scully's back was pressed up
against the back of the couch.

Mulder settled himself between her legs, drawing her right
knee over his hip. She was exposed in such a position, and
could feel his hardness seeking entrance to her body. She
eagerly attempted to meet it, rotating her hips and causing
him to groan. But he didn't enter her as she had hoped.

"Mulder - " She bit her lip in frustration, trying to get
him to comply. She slid her arms over his shoulders,
clasping her hands behind his neck, attempting to draw him
closer.

"Shhh." He brought his index finger to her lips, which she
promptly sucked into her mouth. He tasted good – warm,
salty, and she could taste traces of herself. "Want to
know what happens next?"

She opened her mouth, and his finger slid out. "I =know=
what happens next," she stated a little impatiently. "But
you're not cooperating."

He grinned, the bastard, seemingly unaffected by the same
need that coursed through her veins. "Oh yes," he
breathed. "That will happen. As soon as you beg me for
it."

Her eyes widened slightly, and she let out a puff of air.
"That won't happen," she stated haughtily, even as her
heart pounded in her chest and she formed the words in her
head.

Mulder appeared undeterred by her statement, even going so
far as to widen his smile in delight. "I'm disappointed,
Scully," he purred, and she knew it was a blatant lie. It
was obvious her response was exactly what he had expected.
"I guess I'll have to work for it, then." His hand came
between their bodies, sliding down to the curls between her
legs.

Oh no. Not that again. She couldn't take more of that.
No more teasing. If he started his pleasure-and-retreat
tactics again she was going to cave, anyway. So why delay
the inevitable when she could have what she wanted right
now?

She swallowed and licked her lips. He followed the
movement of her tongue with hungry eyes. It bolstered her
courage. He was not as indifferent as he acted, and she
wasn't really "giving in." And it was his fantasy, after
all, and she had promised to fulfill it...

"Wait." He stopped her as she was about to speak. "Not
because it's part of the script, Scully," he rasped. "Only
if you really want it." His fingers drew nearer to the
spot that craved his touch and her clit throbbed painfully
in anticipation.

Was he kidding? "I do, Mulder," she answered, tossing all
pride to the winds. "Please give it to me."

He raised an eyebrow, mischief dancing in his eyes.
Obviously, now that he had her, he was going to exploit his
advantage. " 'It'? Maybe we're not thinking of the same
thing. What exactly is it that you want?"

In her head, she promised thousands of Mulder-humiliation
scenarios to come, but at the moment he had the upper hand,
and sometimes, giving in wasn't giving in at all... "Your
=cock=," she whispered, gyrating her hips against him,
causing his jaw to drop and a small sliver of saliva to
appear at the corner of his mouth. "In me."

Recovering, he closed his mouth and said, "Whatever you
want, Scully."

He positioned himself at her entrance, and already she was
contracting her muscles, as if she would somehow be able to
draw him inside her when he wasn't paying attention.
Slowly, inch by thick inch, he eased his way into her.
Farther, farther, more, more, more... She gasped. There
was so much of him, and every bit was stretching her,
testing her limits. God, how many times had they done
this, and still it affected her in this way?

The feeling bordered on too much, and she pressed back
against the couch in an effort to escape from the near-
overwhelming sensation. But she had nowhere to go, and he
kept pushing into her, inexorably forging his possession.

He was so hot and hard, as if he was made of fire-warmed
steel. She melted around him. And then he was pushing
against =that spot=, and she couldn't get him close enough.

"You feel incredible, Scully," he groaned, his eyes
fluttering shut as he dropped his forehead against hers.

She kissed his closed eyelids softly. "You're the one who
feels incre...ohhhh," she ended on a moan as he began to
move, thrusting in and out with an insistent rhythm before
slowing his pace.

His eyes opened again, and his lips twisted into a cocky
smile. "I thought I'd taken care of all that wetness down
there, but you just keep generating more, don't you,
Scully?"

An answering smile played on her lips and her lashes
lowered in modesty. "Actually, it's you who keeps
generating more," she countered in a low, sexy voice, and
was rewarded by a fierce thrust.

"Sorry," he whispered. "Couldn't help myself."

"It's okay," she gasped. "You can do it again if you
like," she added generously. He did, and she showed her
thanks by covering his mouth with hers and engaging him in
a long, drugging kiss. Her eyes drifted shut; it was
increasingly impossible to keep them open.

They kissed; they made love; Scully couldn't imagine any
moment more perfect than this.

"I want this to last forever," Mulder groaned.

Eventually, their languid rhythm was no longer satisfying,
and they moved harder against each other. But their
position wasn't conducive to more vigorous lovemaking, and
Scully soon found herself sitting up on the couch, Mulder
pulling out of her. It made her feel empty, and she
immediately demanded his return.

"Before you know it," he promised. He knelt onto the
cushion between her legs, and maneuvered them so that she
was sitting on his lap, his cock pressed up between them.
"Put your arms around my neck," he said, and she complied
straight away. He placed his hands on her knees, pushing
them up and out until they were pressed up against the back
of the couch. She was completely spread open to him.

Positioning himself at her entrance once more, he leaned
forward to say in her ear, "Now I've got you exactly where
I want you," and promptly thrust back into her.

She cried out in surprise. God, that felt amazing. She
felt taken. There was nothing she could do to control his
movements. He had enclosed her in his embrace and
everywhere she turned, everywhere she looked, was Mulder.
He pounded into her, and all she could do was tighten her
arms around his neck and hang on for the ride as she was
rocked against the couch again and again by the driving
force of his hips and lower back.

Her own back was sticky with sweat, and the feel and sound
of it rubbing against the leather material of the couch
only added to the eroticism of what they were doing.
Without the resistant friction of the leather, the power
with which she was being shoved up against it would have
had her sliding further and further upwards. But as it
was, the laws of physics kept her in position to receive
more of the same.

As much as she loved relinquishing control to Mulder, she
soon decided that the time had come to take some of it
back. Her arms slipped from his shoulders, sliding down
the taut, hard muscles of his straining arms, down to his
wrists. His hands were still firmly pressed against her
knees, holding her open as he moved with fierce purpose,
inside her. Her hands reached his hands, and her light
touch caused him to still his movements.

"Mulder," she said softly, her fingers playing with the
skin on the back of his hands.

He was out of breath. "What's the matter, Scully? Don't
you like it?" His brow creased in uncertainty.

"I love it," she replied fervently. "But now it's my
turn."

His hands loosed their grip, and her knees straightened
once more, resting against his hips. In one fluid
movement, she managed to turn them around so that he was
now the one sitting on the couch with her straddling him,
all without breaking their connection.

"That's better," she said in satisfaction.

"This is...rather nice," Mulder murmured, jerking his hips
up and causing them both to gasp. "Amazing – you're even
capable of topping my fantasies."

She only smiled as she began to move on him, easing him out
and then taking him back in. Soon she was bouncing up and
down on his lap, and he was thrusting his hips up to meet
every one of her downward strokes. His hands clutched at
her hips, pulling her down on him hard. She was sure she'd
have bruises from his fingers in the morning. She couldn't
care less.

They slammed against one another, each forceful movement
eliciting cries from them both. Scully felt the beginnings
of the vibrations traveling through her inner muscles that
signaled her oncoming orgasm. She licked his lips, coaxing
them apart so she could slide her tongue inside. After
several moments of gasping into one another's mouths,
Mulder gently broke the kiss.

"Scully," he breathed against her lips.

"Hmm?" She could barely concentrate. Perspiration was
trickling into her eyes, making it hard to see. All she
could think was, don't stop moving, don't stop moving,
don't stop moving... This was without a doubt the most
beautiful love they had ever made. So this was what it was
like. She sighed blissfully.

"Scully." Her name was more insistent-sounding now.

Mulder was looking at her with such intense concentration
that she was concerned. "What, Mulder?" she asked, pulling
back a little so she could see his face more clearly. It
was physically impossible for her to stop riding him, so
she didn't, but she slowed her pace, and he matched her
effortlessly.

"Okay, at this point..." he said in a voice that betrayed
his need, lifting his hands from her hips to hold her face,
his eyes dark pools of quiet desperation, "...you always
tell me that you love me."

Oh, Mulder. She was sure that he could see her love
shining from her eyes even in the dark, even with her back
turned from the only source of light into the room. "I
love you, Mulder," she said, kissing him gently. The
heartfelt truth in her words softened her tone to barely a
whisper of breath against his lips. "I love you."

His eyes closed. "God...oh GOD Scully..." And he
convulsed, shooting into her with a force that made her
glad she had such a tight hold on him. Feeling Mulder's
hot fluids warm her insides was incredibly stimulating, and
she couldn't quite bite back the moan that rose in her
throat.

She held on as he continued to jerk against her, not
ceasing his rapid thrusts, and this, combined with the
sheer intensity of his orgasm, set off her own.

As she came, she distantly heard Mulder chanting, "I love
you, Scully...I love you..."

Her own climax had been postponed for so long that when it
finally happened, rushing through her body in wave after
wave of intense pleasure, it was more powerful than she had
ever before experienced, or even imagined was possible.
Colors exploded in front of her eyes in a shower of
brightness and light, right before the world went a
blissful black.

Dimly, as if she were somebody else, she recognized that
her cheek was pressed against Mulder's. She wasn't sure if
the wetness she felt was a result of the tears raining down
his face, or hers.

After a time, she recovered enough to lift her head, and
reached up to brush her hair away from her damp face. She
couldn't help but notice that he was looking at her with a
sweetly adoring expression, and she was sure he would see
the same look on her face.

"I love you," he said fiercely, hugging her to him hard.

"I know," she murmured, licking at the salty skin over his
collarbone, then snuggled against him with a contended
sigh. She felt him moving around, rearranging limbs that
were too heavy for her to move – including her own. Then
he was standing, lifting her into his arms and carrying her
into his bedroom.

Settling her onto her feet, he made sure that she could
stand up on her own before he moved to the closet. "Let me
get you some pajamas," he said.

"I need underwear." The pair she'd been wearing was
somewhere out in the living room, and she didn't feel like
going out to find them. It'd take her a month to find them
in that mess. And she didn't like wearing clothes without
her underwear. "Forget it. No pajamas." She yawned.

Mulder turned around, a pair of flannel pajamas in his
hands. "I know you like sleeping in your PJs, Scully.
Um...you might find some underwear in that drawer over
there." He brought a hand up to scratch his head.

"What?"

"They're clean," he added quickly.

Now she was seriously annoyed. He had =women's= underwear
in his drawers? If he thought, even for a second, that she
was going to wear panties that had been owned by some other
woman in his life - possibly Diana Fowley - he had another
think coming. And she didn't even want to know what it
said about him or his relationships with this past woman -
women? - that prompted him to keep the underwear to this
day.

If it wasn't so late, and if she wasn't so tired, and if
she wasn't sure that she would be seriously sore tomorrow
as a result of their activities tonight, she might have
given in to the impulse to go ballistic and demand an
explanation. As it was, ripping Mulder a new asshole would
simply have to wait until tomorrow.

But she had to see exactly what the hell he thought he was
doing, having women's underwear in his possession. Perhaps
seeing the evidence would rouse the energy for her to chew
him out.

Without a word she stalked over to his chest of drawers and
yanked the first open, where she knew he kept his boxers.
Her head lowered, her hair falling like a curtain over the
side of her face so that he couldn't see her expression,
she allowed herself a smile - a huge smile of relief and
mild irritation.

They were hers.

All of her missing underwear - save the one pair that had
been torn - were sitting, nicely washed, in Mulder's
underwear drawer, right next to his boxers. She should
probably be disturbed by this discovery, but the relief
that he hadn't been keeping some other woman's panties in
his possession overshadowed any immediate feelings of
aggravation.

She was instead only mildly exasperated, especially when
she remembered all the times she'd thought she was going
crazy, hunting for her underwear high and low, thinking
she'd misplaced them.

Now she was compelled to ask herself the same question she
had asked only moments before, only now the query sounded
much different. What did it say about his feelings for her
that he would do such a thing? Suddenly she felt giddy.

Still looking into the drawer, she tried to mask the smile
in her voice when she spoke. She aimed for stern.
"Mulder, is there something you want to tell me?"

"Uh..." Was that fear on his face? She thought she heard
him swallow. Yes, that was definitely fear. She had never
seen him look so guilty. He must have known that she would
be less than pleased, but had decided to reveal all in
spite of it. From the look on his face, he obviously
thought that she was going to start cursing a blue streak,
raining all sorts of wrath upon him.

For some reason, that caused laughter to bubble up inside
her, and she was soon overcome with giggles, her annoyance
having long since faded.

He crossed over to her as she pulled a pair of panties out
of the drawer, still smiling, and put them on. Standing
before her, he used his thumbs to tuck her hair behind her
ears, then gently caressed her face with his fingertips.
"I just wanted to have proof...that we were real..."

God, she had been on an emotional roller coaster tonight.
She alternated between wanting to cry and wanting to laugh
with every new revelation. Now, she was overcome by an
emotion that made her throat feel thick.

He helped her don her pajamas as if she were a little girl,
then led her over to the bed. Tucking her securely into
the voluminous softness of the covers, he kissed her brow
as she wriggled around contentedly. The coolness of his
sheets felt heavenly against her heated skin, and it all
smelled deliciously like Mulder. Mulder surrounded her.
She had all she could ever want.

It was an effort to keep her eyes open; she felt incredibly
drowsy. But she didn't want to fall asleep before he got
into bed beside her and she could feel his arms sliding
around her. She could hear him moving around the room, and
wondered what he could be doing.

"How long have you been in love with me, Mulder?" she
asked, trying to keep herself awake. She didn't know where
that came from, but now that she had asked, she was
interested in the answer. She yawned.

He didn't answer right away, probably mulling the question
over, and she had to ask herself if his answer mattered.
What if he said 'last week'? Would it mean any less than if
he said 'five years'?

Drawing close to her side of the bed, he studied her with
those thoughtful eyes of his as she struggled to keep hers
open. "I think..." he hesitated. "I think since I was a
single-celled organism, Scully," he answered finally. "As
long as I can remember."

As he kissed her brow and she drifted off to sleep, she
thought dreamily that that was a very good answer.

~~~~~~~~

Mulder's Apartment
September 30
7:48 a.m.

Something had woken her. It wasn't the heavy arm that was
draped across her stomach, or the soft breathing in her
ear. She recognized Mulder in those things, and they were
only comforting. No, what had prompted her sudden leap to
consciousness was a nagging concern. Something wasn't
right.

Her eyes flew open and a quick glance at the clock told her
that they were both going to be late for work this morning.
She hated being late. Quickly, her mind flew through her
daily calendar – well, as quickly as the fact that she'd
just woken up would allow – and breathed a sigh of relief
that they didn't have any meetings this morning.

She was just about to turn to Mulder and poke him in the
shoulder when she noticed the object next to her head on
the pillow. It was a piece of paper folded in half,
standing on top of what looked like an open book. Grabbing
the piece of paper, she unfolded it and read Mulder's bold
scrawl: "No work today. Let's call in sick." She smiled.
Fine by her. It would look suspicious for them both to
call in a sick day, but who cared?

That worry over, there was still the mystery of the book.
She squinted and recognized Mulder's writing on the open
page. It was his journal.

First, she was surprised, because she hadn't known that he
kept a journal. Second, she was somewhat wary because it
was obviously there for her to read. Some images clicked
in her mind, and she recognized it as the same item that he
had brought to her apartment last night. Had he meant for
her to read this then? And how had he placed this here
without her knowledge?

She didn't know the answer to the first question, but to
answer the last, she remembered that she had been out like
a light after his answer to her question of how long he'd
been in love with her. In the light of day, she flushed in
remembrance. God, what a stupid question to have asked.

All things considered, it would have been an easy task for
him to retrieve the book and place it here for her to find
in the morning. But he hadn't had it when they had entered
the apartment yesterday – she ought to know; she'd had her
hands all over him and was sure she would have noticed a
journal in his pants.

Then she recalled his muttering something about having left
something in the car, and the pieces of the puzzle all fell
into place. Okay, now that that little mystery was solved
– back to the journal. Did she really want to read it?
Perhaps the real question was, now that she knew of its
existence, and Mulder's obvious desire for her to read it,
how could she not?

Carefully sitting up, she ignored the tightening of his arm
and the soreness of her muscles. Looked like she'd be
spending the day recuperating.

Taking the journal, she fluffed her pillow up against the
headboard and rested against it. Mulder made little sounds
in his sleep, and she leaned down to kiss his sweet-
smelling hair. She knew that as long as he had her to put
his arm around, he wouldn't wake until his body had gotten
the rest it needed.

How convenient for her.

Calming the little flutter of excitement in her heart, she
started to read the page he'd left open for her. It began,
"If ever there was a person who loved another on this
earth, Scully, I love you."

Her face split into a wide grin. Every book should start
out like that.

~~~~~~~~
Epilogue
~~~~~~~~

Mulder's Journal
September 30
In the early hours of the morning

**If ever there was a person who loved another on this
earth, Scully, I love you.

I know that the first thing you're going to think when you
wake up this morning is that we need to talk. You're
right. I love talking to you, Scully, and I'm always
amazed that you'll waste your breath talking to someone
like me. I can only assume that you thrive on aggravation.

You're wondering if what happened last night – well, this
morning - was something that happened out of desperation or
maybe you dreamed it. Or maybe it's just me, because
that's exactly how I'm feeling right now. I'm watching you
sleep, and I can't imagine a more beautiful sight than you
in slumber, Scully. I'm afraid to join you there, because
I don't want to wake up in the morning and discover that
I've only dreamed all this.

I once read something of yours that you never meant for me
to see. So I think it's only fair that you get to read
this equivalent, which I hope will put to rest any
outstanding fears that you might have about how I feel. I
can't imagine that anyone could doubt it, but I've made a
royal mess of things when it comes to you. It saddens me
to think that of all the people in the world, you're
probably the one who needs this confirmation most, because
of the things I've said, the things I've done. And I am so
sorry about that, Scully. I am so sorry.

You once told me, "Believing is the easy part." I didn't
agree with you then, but...you were right. Believe that I
love you, Scully. It's very, very easy.

When this all started, it made so much sense, huh? Well,
as much sense as two deluded individuals like us could
make. Hey, Scully – you're the logical one, you should
have seen through all the smoke. All right, you can let go
of the family jewels now – I know it was all my fault.

Thinking back it was all so stupid. Like "Three's Company"
meets "I Love Lucy." Hmm...does that make sense or only to
me because it's almost four in the morning?

Can't blame us for our hubris, though, right? We're both
reasonably mature, strong-minded, stubborn people. If
anyone could make it work out, we could, right? So we set
up all those rules, thinking we'd be able to
compartmentalize, making each other miserable, when all the
while we were in love with each other. God, I like the
sound of that. We are in love with each other. So simple.
So easy.

Luckily for us, rules are made to be broken. And every
rule we made was worth breaking, Scully – every single one.

But you know what? I'm glad we had to go through all that
heartache and pain to make this work. No, hear me out –
it's not just middle-of-the-night delirium talking (at
least, I don't think so). It made us think about the
choices we were making, and whether what we had was worth
fighting for. We've come such a long way...and I think
we've earned the right to be happy.

I'm only going to bed now because I have something to look
forward to: waking up next to you. And I know I'd let my
heart bleed every last drop of blood that it did these past
few months, and re-shed every last tear all over again if
it meant being able to wake up next to you for the rest of
my life. Because it turns out that I'm a very simple man,
Scully, with simple needs. All I need is you by my side.

I hope that after you read this, Scully, you won't have any
doubts about how I feel about you, how much I ache to hold
you close to me and show you all the love in my heart. For
now I'll let the words written here speak for me.

Promise me you'll wake me when you're done, because no
matter how much I seem to be enjoying my sleep, I assure
you that I'm dying to wake up and see your smile.

Oh, and Scully – I know I've asked a lot of you lately, and
I must seem like a pretty greedy guy, but I have one more
proposition for you.

I'll give you the biggest, brightest, most deliriously
happy smile you've ever seen...if you'll wake me with a
kiss.**

=End Worth Breaking=


AUTHOR'S NOTES: Well, it's finally over! Are you happy?
Are you sad? I think I'm a bit of both. Write me and we
can celebrate/commiserate with each other! <g>

The following thank yous are long but heart-felt; my
acknowledgment that I owe many, many people...

HUGS AND BESOS FOR:

BRANDON, for hunting up all the information on the Yapavai
County Sheriff's office, population info on Seligman, and
accommodations for Moose and Squirrel during their stay in
Arizona. If it weren't for Brandon, they'd have had to
camp out in their rented Taurus!!

BRYNNA, for her beta work and support. She helped me work
out the kinks in a chapter that was really kicking my ass,
and for that I am extremely grateful. She always put up
with my whining and was nothing but encouraging the whole
way through.

KATY L., a wonderful RL friend who not only loves me for my
obsession despite not being into XF herself (I'm still
working on it!!), but even goes the extra ten miles for
some kick-ass beta. Words cannot express how much I owe
her.

MAGDALEINE, for allowing herself to be sucked into my
"tawdry little web" and for laughing in all the right
places.

LIVIA, for her awesome beta work on some of the later
chapters. She took over where Ropo left off...and I thank
my lucky stars for having such talented writers around me.

ROPOBOP, for the uberbeta she is getting famous for – and
well-deserved. I shudder to think what this piece would
have been without her comments and suggestions. To think
of all she did while in the midst of a major move! I
genuflect in her presence. She even did =phone= beta! And
I used to think I knew the meaning of hotface... Also, I
have to thank her for agreeing with Trixie about the
HappySecureInTheirLove!Smut, for which it might never have
happened.

TRIXIE, the Super!Beta for her quick reading and dead-on
beta comments. She was a great support and anchor through
this endeavor, spending hours helping me out, =and= she let
me use her wonderful disclaimer! It was her insistence
that there be HappySecureInTheirLove!Smut, and I think I'm
finally ready to admit that it was necessary. I think I
owe her a Cheesecake Factory. Yes – the whole restaurant.
<g>

SPECIAL THANKS: For the readers who followed this story
from the beginning. They put up with the cliffhanger
endings, Mulder and Scully in their most obtuse moments,
the real-life writer delays, and still were militant enough
to keep reading. Major kudos. It's been a wonderful
journey, and I owe it all to you.

Thanks everyone for reading! That you spent your time
sharing this little universe with me means more than you'll
ever know.


[ 此贴被梁山掌门在2014-01-09 04:23重新编辑 ]





[1 楼] | Posted: 2014-01-09 03:51 顶端
口水剑客


头衔:FBI地下室的小老鼠FBI地下室的小老鼠
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都是NC-17的?掌门口味略重哦,哈哈~玩笑,不知道为啥现在我看BG的基本都是PG-13,最多R,除非是slash,才会飙到NC-17,另外不能为了肉而肉,要有案子,最好还死人...呃,好吧,我口味真够奇特的,不过ABO和SM是我的雷= =

这么多年,最爱的还是你们。Mulder&Scully forever.

[2 楼] | Posted: 2014-08-06 20:18 顶端
eileenliao


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兩篇都看完啦
嗯...NC17果真厲害
歡迎多多推薦呀!



[3 楼] | Posted: 2014-09-13 21:16 顶端

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