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Drug Rings, Black Bikinis & Don Henley by Taylor
Date: Mon, 18 Sep 2000 23:15:38 -0400
Subject: Drug Rings, Black Bikinis, and Don Henley
Drug Rings, Black Bikinis, and Don Henley by Taylor
Spoilers: Anything is fair game.
Disclaimer: The X-Files is a show, with music by Mark Snow.
Summary: One word: undercover. Oh, and some cage dancing.
Part I – Drug Rings
“Where should we start?”
“I don’t know. What stores do you like?” Brooke Skinner asked.
The other woman shrugged warily. “I told you, I’m a catalog shopper.”
“Yeah, and it shows.”
“What does that mean?”
“Oh, come on, Dana. Do you own anything that’s not black? You dress like the guest speaker at a coroners convention.”
Dana Scully sighed heavily. “I should be offended, but I have a sneaking suspicion that you’re right.” She wrinkled her nose distastefully at her black clad reflection in a store window. “OK, so my wardrobe could use a little-spice. But I think I’m a lost cause.
How in the name of God am I supposed to pass for 25-ish?”
A.D. Skinner’s youngest daughter, a 22-year-old prelaw senior at Georgetown, looked knowingly at Special Agent Dana Scully. “Oh, you can do it. We’ll have you ready in no time. Come on.”
Scully sat on the floor of her living room, surrounded by shopping bags, and sighed, completely exhausted. Her mind clicked rapidly over the events in the last twelve hours that had brought her here.
She’d gotten off the elevator in the basement of the J. Edgar Hoover Building shortly before 8:00 this morning, intent on getting her daily first cup of java before attacking the ever-present mountain of paperwork on Mulder’s monstrosity of a desk, only to have her partner meet her at the door and spin her around. As they marched back to the elevator he said, “Skinner’s got something for us. It’s not an X-File.”
“Fantastic,” Scully muttered, but in truth she didn’t mind. No lung-eating bugs. No cosmically maladjusted twins – she was still recovering from that one. The bruises now at least disappeared under a layer of base.
This particular case involved a drug ring. Mulder snorted in derision, and Scully was inclined to agree. This wasn’t even Violent Crimes stuff.
Skinner sighed. “Agents, this is an important operation-“
“Great,” Mulder interrupted. “Where the fuck is the DEA?”
“We’re taking this one, and the director thinks you two are the best for the job. Frankly, I agree.” Sinner looked to Scully for support, but he should have known better. She eyed him with that patented “this better be damn good” look.
“This is a very powerful ring. It’s head in the US we believe to be one Roger Whitmore.”” Skinner flipped the case file across the desk to the agents. Mulder lifted the cover and found himself looking at a man a few years younger than himself, with thick blonde hair, green eyes, and a playboy smile. Next to him was a woman with long dark hair and bangs and big brown eyes.
“Who’s the chick?”
“Rachel Whitmore, his wife. They work together.”
“What’s so special about them?” Scully asked flatly.
“The Whitmores operate in North Carolina, but they have associates, other couples, around the country. They live in college towns, typically near upscale private universities. Duke. Wake Forest.
Stanford. Yale. Dartmouth. You get the point. They prey on the student body. Make friends, get close. After the kids are involved, they usually become dealers themselves, extending the operations. And you understand the types of kids we’re dealing with. Their parents are senators, CEOs, celebrities. These kids move in the highest circles, so this ring has the potential to spread like wildfire. The consequences could be dire. We’ve got to stop it now.
“You will go undercover, get to know the Whitmores, earn their trust, and try to get recruited into the ring. We need evidence, agents, enough to put them away for a long time. the bureau has arranged for you to rent the apartment next to the Whitmores – the former residents have been, ah, temporarily relocated. You’ll leave tomorrow.”
“And where, may I ask, are we going?” Scully questioned.
“Winston-Salem, North Carolina.”
Mulder and Scully exchanged a look. “Sir, is that a good idea? We were just there; what if someone recognizes us?”
“Shouldn’t be a problem. You’ll be with an entirely different group of people. Whitmore’s a Wake Forest grad, class of ’92. He’s, ahem, self-employed. Makes it easy for him to get in with the students. The bureau has created identities for you with all the appropriate papers, records, yadda. Here.”
Two more folders skittered across the desk. “Good luck,” the AD said in dismissal.
One detail Skinner had failed to mention, Scully mused, surveying the items purchased using the bureau’s credit card, was that they had to play “married” again. And not yuppy, established, Izod-wearing, pie-baking, in-a-rut married, but hip, newlywed, touchy-feely, we’re-so-in-love married.
At least Mulder didn’t get to pick the names this time, she thought with some malevolent satisfaction. They were Michael and Stephanie Jacobi, supposedly married in November —ix months ago. She was a grad of the University of Maryland, 27 years old – a year older than Rachel Whitmore. Stephanie Jacobi would report for work at 9:00 Monday morning at the Express clothing store in Hanes Mall, billed as the largest mall between Atlanta and D.C., and a constant hangout for bored Wake Forest students with daddy’s credit card. Not so coincidentally, Rachel worked in the same mall at the Limited, which catered to the same crowd as the Express.
Rachel Whitmore would be Stephanie Jacobi’s new best friend. Rachel was described as “sweet, girlie, outgoing, fun – but, ah, not exactly a real deep thinker” by an acquaintance. Dr. Dana Scully, Special Agent Dana Scully, she reflected, was not any of these things. OK, so it was an acting job. She could do that, as long as Mulder – or Mike – didn’t try to make her the “woman-get-me-a-beer” kind of wife. And if all of the bureau and Brooke Skinner were so convinced that Scully could pass for 27s, shaving nine years off her real age, well, she could.
She smirked. She didn’t envy Mulder. His job was instruction of studio art at Wake. To Scully’s knowledge, Mulder hadn’t so much as touched a paintbrush in at least thirty years. Maybe he’d teach abstract art.
Mice Jacobi was 28 years old, a graduate of the university of Florida, struggling with money and life in general.
Scully went into the bathroom and found her lime-green, all-natural, pore-cleansing face mask. Thinking of Arcadia, she tossed it into her open suitcase.
Part II – Shades of Arcadia
Mulder pulled up in front of Scully’s building at ten. By the time he leaned on the horn of the 2000 ice blue Mercedes convertible, the door was open and she was stepping onto the sidewalk.
Mulder blinked. “Hey, Scully,” she said as she swung herself into the passenger seat. She was wearing jeans, a light blue T-shirt with purple flowers and a skating logo across the chest, and – Doc Martens??
“It’s Stephanie. Jesus, Mulder, I thought the Jacobis had money problems. Where did we get this car?”
“This is the root of our problems, Steph. I’m extravagant. Not too shabby, huh?”
The car was packed with boxes. Scully gestured pointedly. “What’s all that?”
“I dunno. Whatever the bureau thinks we need to play house. Probably the same shit from Arcadia. Which reminds me -” He took one hand from the wheel and flipped open the glove box, revealing a small black box.
“Open that up.”
She opened the box and removed the smaller of two plain gold bands.
After slipping it on her left ring finger, she handed the other ring to Mulder.
The ride was blessedly uneventful. It was afternoon when they pulled into the parking lot of North Cliff apartments off Polo Road, almost adjoining Wake Forest University’s campus.
“Lots of students here,” Mulder commented.
“Captain Mulder, master of the obvious,” Scully cracked.
“It’s Mike, Stephie, sweetheart,” he replied, his words dripping with saccharine. “Move your ass.”
The bureau had arranged for the key to Scully and Mulder’s apartment to be left with the Whitmores. A few words to the realtor suggesting it would be easier for the Jacobis simply to get their key from their neighbors, and baddabing, it was done. Guaranteed introduction.
The apartments were second-floor walk-ups, 24 and 26. Mulder’s brisk knock was answered with a cheerful “Just a sec!” and the door flew open to reveal a pretty brunette about four inches taller than Scully. She regarded her guests with a smile and a look of confusion. “Hi. Can I help y’all?”
“You must be Rachel!” Scully exclaimed in a light, excited voice Mulder had never heard before. “I’m Stephanie Jacobi, and this is my husband, Michael.” As she spoke she tossed him a bright smile. “I guess we’re your new neighbors.”
Rachel’s eyes lit up. “Fantastic! Oh, you guys need your key, huh?
I’ll get it. C’mon in.”
Mulder and Scully stepped into the living room, which was furnished with ultra modern furniture in crayon colors. “Roger – my husband – isn’t here right now; he had some errands,” Rachel said, returning with the key, which she dangled before them. “He’ll be so sorry he missed you.
Oh, but hey! I guess you guys don’t have any groceries, huh? I mean, your stuff’s all packed or whatever. So why don’t you come over for dinner?”
Scully and Mulder exchanged a glance. “Sure,” Mulder said. “If we won’t be trouble-“
“Not at all. Yea! OK, great. Seven? Oh, you guys aren’t vegetarians or anything, are you?” They shook their heads. “Great, ’cause I don’t have tofu or anything.”
Scully got Mulder out of there as quickly as possible.
“Geez, Scully. What the hell were you doing back there?” Mulder asked, amused.
“That was Stephanie. Come on, let’s see the homestead.”
The door of apartment 24 opened into a decent-sized living room, separated from the kitchen by a wall cut by a large glass-less window.
Upon investigation, they found two bedrooms, a small room that could be used as an office, a bathroom, and a couple of large closets.
“Not half bad,” Scully said. “This is nicer than your place, Mulder.”
“Thanks.” He flopped down unceremoniously on the floor. “Furniture’s supposed to be delivered at three.”
“I hope it’s not ugly,” Scully muttered. “Want to unload the car?”
“Well, I’m going to get my stuff.”
Scully reappeared a few minutes later with a suitcase that was almost as big as she, a backpack, and duffel. “Thanks for being a gentleman, Mulder.”
“Hey, I -” he began defensively, then looked up to see his partner grinning. “Geez, what the hell have you got in there?”
“Fourteen black pantsuits and six pairs of stiletto heels,” she cracked.
Roger Whitmore opened the door at 7:10 to a tall, dark-haired man in khakis and a green T-shirt and a petite redhead in black capri pants and a form-fitting grey T-shirt.
“Hi,” the woman said, “sorry we’re late. Our furniture was supposed to be delivered at three but it just got here.”
“I was testing out the couch,” the man said.
Roger frowned quizzically and the couple exchanged a quick glance.
“For when I’m mad at him,” the woman said, and smiled slightly.
The man threw his arm over his wife’s shoulders and grinned. “Not likely. Mike Jacobi and my wife, Stephanie.”
His new neighbors followed Roger into the living room. “Hi, guys!”
Rachel called brightly from the kitchen, which was just like the one next door. “Aren’t they cute, Roger?”
Stephanie Jacobi blushed, Roger noticed, but her husband seemed too busy staring at her shapely ass encased in the black capri pants to notice.
“Have a seat,” Roger said, gesturing toward the sofa. Mulder, looking a little dazed, flopped down right in the middle and flung his long arms across the back. Scully’s instincts told her to sit at the other end, but she quickly remembered her role and tucked herself onto the cushion right next to her partner’s.
“So, you’re new to the area?” Roger asked, sitting down in an overstuffed armchair.
Stephanie nodded, and Mike said, “Yeah, we lived in D.C. before, but we needed a change of scenery.”
“I understand. Actually, Rach and I have been here for – it’s about three years now, isn’t it, hon? And we love it.”
“Wouldn’t think of leaving,” Rachel confirmed. “Do you guys want garlic bread?”
“Yeah, babe, sounds great. I graduated from Wake Forest in ’92 and lived in Atlanta for a while, but we decided to come back after we got married.”
“Oh? Mike’s going to be teaching at Wake,” Stephanie said.
“Steph, let’s not talk about that.”
Roger picked up on the other man’s discomfort immediately. His eyebrows lifted in question.
“I’m an artist,” Mike explained. “I really don’t want to teach, but we need the money.”
“Hey, man, I know how it is. We had the same problems until my business got on its feet, right, sweetie?”
“That’s right.” Rachel sailed into the living room, beaming, and perched on the arm of her husband’s chair, wrapping her arm around his neck. “But the business is doing just great now.”
“What kind of business?” Mike asked.
“Oh, some private consulting. What do you do, Stephanie?”
“Well, I worked in a gallery in D.C., but I’ve got a job in a retail clothing store here.”
“Oh, really? Wow, that’s what I do, too!” Rachel exclaimed, her eyes widening. “Where are you working?”
“The Express at Hanes Mall. I start Monday.”
“Oh, wow! That’s awesome! I work in the mall too, at the Limited.”
Stephanie smiled. “Fantastic, I’ll know someone.”
“Great. You girls can have lunch together,” Roger said.
Mike turned to look at his wife. “As long as you save some time for me,” he said seductively, and Scully felt herself blushing again. Damn her fair skin!
“How long have you been married?” Rachel asked.
“Five months,” Stephanie answered, “at least, on the seventeenth it will be.”
“Oh, you guys are still newlyweds then! I should have known; you have that look.” Rachel giggled.
“What look?” Mulder asked, perplexed.
“You know, like you’re so in love you just can’t keep your hands off each other.” They both blushed at that and Rachel laughed out loud.
“Oh, don’t be embarrassed. We’ve been married three years and we still have that look.” A timer in the kitchen buzzed and she announced, “Dinner’s ready. I hope you like spaghetti.”
A few minutes later they were all gathered around the table. “Parmesan cheese?” Mike offered, holding the canister out to Scully.
“Stephanie doesn’t eat parmesan,” Mike said. “She’s allergic,” to which Scully nodded. It made her break out in hives.
“That’s one of those things married couples always know about each other,” Rachel commented, and Mulder and Scully exchanged another glance. Or partners of seven years, their eyes seemed to say silently.
Dinner passed pleasantly, uneventfully. Neither Rachel nor Roger did anything extraordinary, which is exactly what the two agents had expected. The only thing that could be construed as the slightest bit sinister was Roger’s mysterious “consulting” business.
“Do you want to stay a while and play cards?” Roger asked.
“Sure,” Mulder accepted, and for the next several hours the foursome sat in the living room and played a variety of games. About midnight Scully couldn’t fight her drooping eyelids anymore.
“Excuse me, guys,” she said, getting to her feet. “I’m exhausted.
Mike, I’m going to turn in.”
“Do you want me to come with you?”
“No, you’re having fun. Stay awhile. I’ll leave a light on for you.”
“All right, baby. I’ll try not to make too much noise when I come in.”
“I don’t mind.”
Mulder stood up and, before Scully could react, kissed her squarely on the lips. It was a brief kiss, just a brushing of their lips, but it stopped Scully’s breath and froze her to the spot. Hugging her gently, he dropped another kiss on the tip of her nose and rumbled, “Good night.”
“Good night, Stephanie,” Roger said. “We’re glad you came.”
“Right,” Rachel echoed. “Bye, Steph.”
Scully was sound asleep when Mulder made his way into the bedroom. He looked at her, sprawled out in the middle of the bed, and snorted in disgust. He flopped down at the foot, hoping the bouncing would jar her awake. No such luck. He sat with his arms crossed and glared.
“Mulder.” Scully’s voice was a quiet monotone with a low, threatening undercurrent. “Quit molesting me and go sleep on the damn couch.”
She felt his weight shift off the bed. “Sure, Laura,” he drawled, and ambled out of the room.
Part III: Don Henley
Scully was sound asleep when Mulder made his way into the bedroom. He looked at her, sprawled out in the middle of the bed, and snorted in disgust. He flopped down at the foot, hoping the bouncing would jar her awake. No such luck. He sat with his arms crossed and glared.
“Mulder.” Scully’s voice was a quiet monotone with a low, threatening undercurrent. “Quit molesting me and go sleep on the damn couch.”
She felt his weight shift off the bed. “Sure, Laura,” he drawled, and ambled out of the room.
Scully hoped he could feel the poisonous dagger look she shot him in the darkness. Internally she winced. Damn it. Dana Scully’s brief stint as Laura Petrie was not a period of her life she remembered fondly, although she remembered it very well. She knew she’d been a shrew.
But, god damn it! What the hell had Mulder expected, coming, as it did, hot on the heels of the Diana Fowley fiasco/ Scully had been a hell of a lot nicer to her partner than he’d been in the preceding months.
Scully had forgiven, but she hadn’t forgotten. It still stung. How dare he throw that up in her face?
The next morning Mulder awoke to bright sunlight streaming through wide-open drapes and the stereo blasting classical music courtesy of NPR. And he smelled coffee. He rolled over as much as he could on the sofa – it couldn’t compare to his – and saw Scully, swaddled in her pale blue robe and holding a mug of coffee cupped in her hands. She looked back at Mulder over a plate of wheat toast with peanut butter, and stated, “Yeah, you’re one hell of an insomniac. I’ve had this on for half an hour.”
Mulder sat up. “Make me any toast?”
“No, but there’s some coffee left.”
“I’ll have that.”
She rolled her eyes. “Fantastic. Go get it.”
“Aw, c’mon, Scully,” he wheedled, but she showed no signs of relenting, so he made his way to the kitchen in his boxers and T-shirt.
“Is there maybe an egg in here?” Mulder called, rifling through the fridge.
“Gee, Mulder, I don’t know. Try the egg drawer.”
Mulder reappeared with a cup of coffee and grabbed a piece of Scully’s toast. “Forget the egg,” he said. “What I really want to know is, are you always this cheerful in the morning?”
“Only on holidays and special occasions.”
Mulder formed his fingers into claws and hissed. “Ooh, the Ice Maiden.”
Scully slapped the table with her palm in an unusual display of temper.
“Damn it, Mulder! This is not a terrible assignment, if you can just be a human being for once!”
“It’s just like Arcadia, Scully. I don’t understand why we’re here.
It’s not an x-file.”
She actually laughed, but the sound was a short, humorless bark. “My whole goddamn life is an x-file-So is yours. That should be enough to tide you over for a few weeks until we get back to chasing killer tobacco beetles, OK?”
Scully looked up at her partner, who was suddenly serious. He nodded, his gaze unreadable. “Okay,” he said, taking another bite of toast. He chewed slowly and carefully.
Several hours later, a bemused Scully ran a dust cloth over the end table by the sofa and gave the living room a final satisfied glance.
She could hear muffled noises coming from the bathroom and she shook her head. Scully couldn’t believe that Mulder had volunteered to clean the bathroom. He’d also washed the dishes and made the bed. Scully was starting to worry that he was on drugs himself.
She’d just sat down on the couch and clicked on the TV when Mulder emerged, grinning. “All done,” he announced. “Want a snack?” Before Scully could answer, Mulder was in the kitchen.
He came back with an apple neatly sliced and a plate of cheese and crackers. Under his arm he’d tucked two long-neck beers. His eyes lit up when he saw what was on television. “Hey! Plan Nine From Outer Space. Remember when we watched that?”
“Uh-huh.” Scully was remembering that and other pleasant evenings she and Mulder had spent together when he surprised her by flopping down right next to her on the sofa, close, close enough to rest the plate on her right leg and his left. He handed her a beer, popped the top on his, and lazily slid his arm around hr until his hand rested against her stomach.
She looked at him strangely. “Mulder – What’s up? What are you doing?”
He grinned again. “Nothin’. Just hanging with the wife, watching a little TV.”
Scully could only roll her eyes in response. Mulder had really been ridiculously nice and un-Mulderlike today. She knew him too well not to think something was up.
“OK, spill it.”
“The x-file. Or whatever. Why you’re being so nice. Drop sysour bombshell.”
“Scully, Scully. You wound me. There’s no bombshell.”
She just stared at him.
“Scully, I’m serious. Honest.”
Slowly she shook her head. “Mulder, you are so weird.”
Since Rachel was oh-so-delighted she and “Stephanie” were both working at the mall, and since they both had to go in at 9 :00, they’d agreed to ride together.
Scully slid into the passenger seat of Rachel’s white Honda Civic and forced a bright smile. She wasn’t a morning person.
“Hi!” Rachel sang out, slipping a CD into the player. It was Moby and made Scully think of Mulder. Damn him. While she was pulling double shifts and taking shit from rude customers, he’d be sitting in the apartment, watching baseball and pretending to be a “brooding artist.”
Rachel’s driving was worthy of any DC cab driver, and within minutes they were turning off University onto Hanes Mall Boulevard. Rachel parked and the two women went inside via Eckerd’s Drugs. “Do you want to meet for lunch at the food court?” Rachel asked with a smile so bright Scully wondered if she was ever unhappy. Maybe being a drug dealer’s wife was a cushy deal. Who knew?”
Scully wore charcoal gray corduroy pants and a sleeveless hunter green sweater, adorned by a chakra pendant on a gold chain. Her cross nestled invisibly beneath the sweater. The toes of her green velvet shoes looked like ballet slippers, but had huge, chunky heels. A spiky gray headband held her hair back from her face, which, free from makeup save a touch of mascara and rosy lip gloss, was surprisingly youthful, almost like a teenager’s. She quickly found that, appearance-wise, she fit in perfectly with the other store clerks. Her manager, Madeleine Howe, was a tall, elegant, very slim black woman who seemed instantly distrustful of Stephanie Jacobi. Scully knew this was because of the mysterious order which had come down from the top that Stephanie had been hired –usually the store manager’s job – and would start immediately.
Scullys found herself behind the cash register, accepting credit cards and removing expensive skirts, slacks, and tiny dresses from small black hangers. By 11:30 she’d already begun to wonder if she’d get to move beyond this four foot square space.
Scully met Rachel at the food court and they took a table, then went to get food. Scully returned with a diet Coke and a pita wrap. Rachel’s plate was heaped with Chinese cuisine. Rachel blushed and giggled. “No wonder you’re so thin! I just can’t do it. Do you work out?”
Scully nodded, chewing.
Rachel’s nose wrinkled. “I hate it, but I belong to a gym too. Roger would just kill me if I got fat.”
“It really matters that much to him?” Stephanie asked, sounding incredulous.
“Yeah, well, I guess. Isn’t Mike ever critical of you?”
“Not appearance-wise, really.”
“Why should he be, I guess? You’re gorgeous.” Rachel sighed.
“He doesn’t like the way I dress sometimes.”
Her companion nodded sagely. “Husbands are like that. We can’t always please them, but we try. Hey, did you guys have a big wedding?”
Scully looked up at this sudden change of topic. Rachel grinned.
“Sorry. I’m, like, totally random. I was just wondering. Because Roger and I had, like, this huge wedding with all these people, and I didn’t even know most of them.”
“No, we didn’t. Wse wanted something small and intimate, and we didn’t want to wait a long time, you know? So one weekend we flew up to Cape Cod – he’s from Massachusetts – and got married on the beach. Just me and him and my mom and-his sister. And it was freezing. I wore white, just a white cotton dress, but we were barefoot. All of us.”
It was so strange – Scully could see it all as she spoke the words, as if it had really happened. She shook her head to clear it.
“Ooh. How romantic. Is Mike a romantic guy?”
“He can be, when he’s not so wrapped up in his work that he forgets I exist.”
Rachel nodded. “Yeah. I totally know what you mean. Roger is exactly like that.”
She glanced at her watch. S “Shit! I’ve gotta go. I only get half an hour today.”
After Rachel left, Scully retrieved her phone and dialed.
“Yeah, Jacobi residence.”
“Mulder, it’s me.”
“Oh, hi, sweetheart. How’s work?”
“Is he there?”
“Mmhm, yeah. Roger’s here, helping me unpack some stuff.”
“I don’t think Rachelsis really involved.”
“Oh, why not?”
“Too innocent. She just doesn’t have a clue. It could be an act.
Anyway, I just wanted to check in.”
“OK, bye, sweetie. Love you too.”
Scully ended the call and rolled her eyes.
Scully spent her afternoon in the stock room and was eager to get home.
Rachel chattered all the way to the condo. It would be easy to get close to her, Scully reflected.
She let herself into the apartment and immediately stepped out of her heels, just leaving them in the doorway. “Mike?”
There was no answer. She sighed and went into the kitchen. She’d bought some Lean Cuisines; she’d just microwave one of those. Where the hell was Mulder, anyway?
As if on cue, the door opened and Mulder appeared. “Hi, honey, I’m home.” Fortunately, before Scully could think of a sarcastic comeback, she saw Roger and Rachel behind him in the doorway. “Rog and I went for Chinese. I invited Roger and Rachel to dinner to return the favor, but I didn’t want you to have to cook. I knew you’d be tired.” A person who knew Mulder less well would have missed his snide tone of voice.
“Chinese – just like old times,” Scully answered with her own snide undertone. “Come help me dish it up, baby.”
[Two weeks later]
The weeks had passed in their own routine way. Scully slaved away at the Express, a job she hated 00 although she did like their clothes, and had spent a small fortune, ostensibly on things to wear to work at the store – things that she would, of course, report as “business expenses.” She ate lunch with Rachel and spent most of her free time with her as well, while Mulder lounged around the apartment and played golf and went to bars with “Rog.” She actually saw a lot less of Mulder than she’d originally expected, and the situation was thus much less trying. They made regular reports to Skinner, but they’d made no real progress. Neither of the Whitmores had mentioned anything the least bit incriminating, and the FBI didn’t have enough hard evidence to get a warrant for a wiretap.
As they were getting ready for bed – rather, bed and couch, respectively – one night, Mulder said, “You really are tired, aren’t you, Scully?”
Scully sighed. She was washing her face with cleanser and warm water in lieu of the face masks, which actually irritated her sensitive skin.
“Exhausted. I told you, Mulder, I hate this job. You think the powers that be at the Bureau don’t like you? You ought to meet my boss. I’d rather chase mutants any day.”
Unexpectedly, Mulder pulled her away from the sink and kissed her on the forehead. He grinned. “A woman after my own heart. Night, Scully.”
The next day, Scully was in a foul mood. Her alarm hadn’t gone off and Mulder had drunk all the coffee. Her bad mood hadn’t worn off by lunch, and Rachel soon commented on it.
“Steph, are you okay?”
“You seem upset.”
“Just a bad day.”
Rachel reached across the table and laid a hand on Scully’s arm. “You can tell me, Steph. You and Mike have been fighting, haven’t you?”
Scully opened her mouth to protest, then reconsidered. Maybe it would be to their advantage if Roger and Rachel thought things in Jacobi-land were rocky. “How did you know?”
“I can just tell. When you first got here, you two were so affectionate, but now you don’t touch-What’s wrong?”
Fortunately, Scully was a fast thinker, probably from years of alternately sparring with Mulder and saving his ass. “Mike’s so tense,”
she said. “The closer he gets to starting his job, the worse it gets.
He does not want to teach, Rach. I’d hoped this would be a fresh start, but I already wish we could escape. Just get away from it all for a few days, you know?”
Rachel nodded vigorously, suddenly smiling. “I do know, exactly. And I know just the thing. I’ve got to go, but I’ll see you later, ‘kay?”
Scully’s cell phone rang while she was working the register. She quickly finished ringing up the sale as she answered. “Hello?” It still felt odd not to say “Scully.”
“Scully, you’re a genius, you know?” a very happy Mulder replied.
“Yeah, I do. What have I done this time?”
“Did you know that the Whitmores are leaving Friday to spend a week at their condo in Myrtle Beach?”
“Neither did I.”
“So, apparently Rachel thinks we’re unhappy – a whole star-crossed, Romeo and Juliet kind of scenario. I assume you planted that idea?”
“You know what happens when you assume. But you’re right. Get to the point and hurry up – Madeleine is giving me the evil eye. This better be good.”
“Oh, it’s good. Apparently, Roger and Rachel also think a vacation would do us a world of good. Put the pink in our cheeks and the sparkle in our eyes and all that. Thanks to you, we’ve been invited along.”
“This could finally give us a break in this case.”
“Exactly. On the way home, pick up some steaks and wine. We’re celebrating tonight.”
The next day, Madeleine made sure to keep Scully five minutes into the lunch hour to make up for “excessive phone calls.” Consequently, Rachel came by the store to make sure Stephanie was coming, and she was there when Mulder arrived. He strode into the store, spotted Scully and Rachel, and grinned.
“Hi, honey. Hey, Rach.”
He came over and, massively invading her personal space, swept Scully into a tight embrace. He literally lifted her off the ground and kissed her, his tongue rudely invading her mouth. When he set her back down, Scully, much to her chagrin, felt herself blushing. His arm still around his partner, Mulder turned to Rachel. “Thanks again for inviting us along on your vacation. We can’t wait. But you’ll have to make other plans for lunch – I’m kidnapping my wife. Come on, Steph, we’ve got a picnic in the car. I thought we’d go over to the campus, I’ll show you where I’ll be working, and we’ll have lunch on the lawn.”
Rachel looked enchanted. “Oh, how sweet! You guys have fun.”
“See you later,” Scully muttered, and Mulder escorted her from the store.
“Was all that necessary?” Scully asked once they were out of earshot.
“All of that. Don’t play innocent, Mulder.”
“C’mon, Scully, lighten up. It’s a beautiful day, we’re going to lunch, and we may get out of here before I have to start that godforsaken job.”
The Mercedes was parked (illegally) right out front. As Scully got in, she looked into the backseat and saw a large wicker picnic basket. “You really did bring lunch?” she asked, slightly amazed.
“Yup. And we’re really going to the campus, too.”
Mulder drove through the gates of the Wake Forest campus a few minutes later and parked behind Wait Chapel. Whistling, he caught Scully’s hand in his, swinging them jauntily as they walked around the chapel. Mulder put the basket down, reached in, and brought out a blanket that he spread on the quad’s lush green grass. “Have a seat.”
They sat and he opened the basket, producing, to her delight, leftover steak, crusty french bread, strawberries and orange slices, and chilled champagne.
“Jesus, Mulder!” she exclaimed, her eyes wide, “look at this!”
“Dig in,” he encouraged, and Scully didn’t have to be told twice. She grabbed a juicy orange slice and sunk her teeth into it, grinning as the juice dribbled down her chin.
“This is good,” she mumbled.
Mulder sat back, watching her happily. “You look like a kid, Scully.”
She laughed and threw a strawberry at him.
Many people thought Dana Scully a strange woman. Doc Ice herself, in person. For them she existed only in the autopsy bay and slogging through the mud in pursuit of little gray men.
Lately Scully had begun to wonder if Mulder saw her the same way. Not all the time, but sometimes.
Then he’d do something sweet and considerate, like clean the bathroom or plan a goddamn picnic lunch on a bright sunny day.
But still, she wondered.
The whole-hearted, single-minded, all-consuming pursuit of one quest, one passion to the exclusion of all others, was not inborn in Scully as it was in Mulder. Not that she was any less passionate. Beneath the cool faade, she was simply earthier; about life, life in general, her passion was overwhelming. She just didn’t let anyone in to see that.
Especially Mulder. But he saw anyway.
And sometimes she thought that was worse than him not seeing her at all. Like that kiss at New Year’s. She was afraid he looked at her and saw some lonely, shriveled spinster searching for an outlet and took pity on her. That wasn’t true, and the last thing she wanted was pity, especially his.
So his occasional bouts of sweetness made her bitter and suspicious and embarrassed.
Damn Mulder. Damn him straight to hell.
Scully looked at her partner, lounging behind the wheel of the Mercedes as they followed the Whitmores southeast across North Carolina. She hadn’t gotten to drive the damn car once. Scully had pointed this out to Mulder, who magnanimously assured her that he had absolutely no problem with her driving – but it wasn’t really up to him. Mike wouldn’t want Stephanie driving his precious car. It just wouldn’t fit his image.
Scully hunkered against the window and folder her arms. She hated car rides. They gave her too much time to think.
Her resentment was boiling. Every passing mile allowed her to catalog all the times Mulder had ditched her, ignored her, or just generally been a jackass.
Scully had wondered often in the last seven years why she didn’t hate Fox Mulder. In the last couple of years, though, she’d given up trying to analyze her feelings for her partner. She’d convinced herself she’d rather not know why she did the things she did concerning him, and anyway, she didn’t think the answers were there to be found.
“Penny for your thoughts.”
“Go to hell, Mulder.” The words astonished Scully as they came out of her mouth, but she wasn’t sorry.
“Don’t like the Eagles?”
“The Eagles.” He gestured toward the car radio. “I just put the CD in and asked what you thought, and you said-“
“Oh.” Scully became aware of the guitars, and Don Henley crooning along. “No. They’re fine. Whatever.”
And Don sang on:
“But you can’t hide your lying eyes, And your smile is a thin disguise-“
Part IV – Black Bikini
Scully could hear Mulder in the bathroom, running water, brushing his teeth. She heard Roger and Rachel’s footsteps as they went down the hall to their bedroom, and swallowed nervously. She and Mulder had never slept in the same bed together, certainly not like this. Scully turned over on her side and drew her knees up, gazing out the window.
When Mulder came out of the bathroom in boxers and a T-shirt he was faced with his partner’s rigid back. He got into bed beside her, careful not to touch her, though it was difficult; he wasn’t a small man, and this was only a full bed. He reached over to switch off the lamp. “Good night…Stephanie.”
“Night…Mike,” came her reply, and then the room was plunged into darkness.
Scully woke up in a pleasant cocoon of warmth. Drifting between sleep and wakefulness, she thought of nothing other than the fact that she felt nice; then, moving closer and closer to waking, her heart leapt in panic as she realized that at some point in the night she had snuggled up to Mulder, or he to her, and she now lay in his arms. His right arm cradled her back, while his left hand curved possessively over her hip.
Her leg was thrown over his, her face pressed beneath his armpit. Her body moved with each of his breaths, and the familiar, spicy scent that she could only classify as Mulder filled her nostrils.
Her stomach clinched with embarrassment, which was followed by an undeniably erotic thrill. Hadn’t she dreamt of a moment like this through many long, lonely nights, especially nights on the road, with Mulder in the next room? Of course, in her dreams, waking up like this usually followed a long night of passionate, exhausting lovemaking.
That made her shiver again, and she felt her face flaming.
The gentle rap on the door sounded like a gunshot in the silent room, and Mulder’s eyes immediately flew open. “Are you guys up?” Rachel called cheerfully. She tentatively pushed the door open and smiled when she saw her friends. “Breakfast is ready,” she announced, and closed the door again.
Neither Mulder nor Scully moved.
“Good morning,” said Mulder, sounding distinctly amused.
“Uh, good morning,” Scully muttered, her bright blue eyes locked with his hazel gaze.
Two things happened at once: the door opened again and Mulder’s mouth descended upon hers, kissing her sweetly. The hand at her hip came up to cup her face, and she responded in kind, her palm whispering over his jaw, completely forgetting the person in the doorway. The intimacy of the kiss was astounding, their morning breath mingling, their bodies pressed close and separated only by their pajamas. Instinctively she pressed closer to him.
Roger cleared his throat. “Uh, Rachel wants to know what you guys want to drink.”
“Orange juice,” Mulder replied, as if nothing out of the ordinary were occurring. His mouth slid to the tender flesh behind her ear, then down to her neck, nibbling, sucking, licking. “That okay with you, baby?”
“Unnh,” Scully said inarticulately, her heart pounding with a combination of desire and panic. Her toes curled with the pleasure of his ministrations. They’d talked about putting on a good show, but this was ridiculous!
She glanced at the now empty doorway and shoved at her partner’s chest.
“Get off me,” she hissed.
Mulder raised up and looked at her a little sheepishly. “Sorry,” he said.
After breakfast, Rachel asked, “Steph, ready to hit the beach?”
“Sure, sounds great,” said a still dazed Scully whose poor brain couldn’t handle anything more complex than basking in the sun right now.
“What about you, Mike?” Roger asked. “Want to go play a few holes?”
“Sure. You girls go ahead to the beach and we’ll catch up later.”
It was almost noon, and the South Carolina sun beat down relentlessly.
Mulder surveyed the haphazard rows of baking bodies. “I don’t see them,” he said.
“There they are – over there, at the edge of the water.”
Mulder turned to see Scully and Rachel jogging along the edge of the ocean, the waves splashing around their ankles. His jaw dropped. Jesus H. Christ! He’d never have known her. Not that he didn’t know Scully had a great body – au contraire, he was fully cognizant of the fact; he’d just never actually seen as much of it as was bared by the tiny bikini she was wearing.
It was black, a few tiny shreds of cloth and some string, and it was the most enchanting, devastating thing Mulder had ever seen. Scully had a blue rap slung low around her waist and tied in a knot over her hip, but the top of her suit was enough to make his mouth water. Two strings tied behind her neck, two of their twins snaking around her back, holding the top in place – what there was of it, which was just enough to avoid being arrested for indecency. It clung lovingly to her breasts, revealing the most glorious cleavage Mulder had ever seen. How the hell did she hide all of that under those suits she wore to the office? As he got closer – Mulder suddenly realized that he was, indeed, still walking, and the fact that he was ambulatory amazed him –
he could see a drop of salty perspiration in the valley between her breasts. It was enough to make him groan through clenched teeth.
Matters weren’t helped by the fact that her soft breasts jiggled a little with every step she took, bobbing enticingly up and down.
Dana Katherine Scully was fucking wearing a string bikini. A. String.
Mulder knew he was gaping, his jaw completely slack. At least the raging hard-on he had going was concealed by the towel he was carrying.
Rachel picked that moment to giggle and whisper something to Scully, who blushed and looked at her feet.
“Our stuff is over there,” Rachel called, gesturing. The two men spread their towels out on the sand beside the others and then the foursome flopped down to soak up the bright rays.
Scully was about to remove the wrap. Mulder didn’t even bother pretending not to stare as she worked the knot free and the diaphanous cloth slid down her hips. His breath hitched. Scully’s bikini bottoms were cut so low at the top and so high at the bottom that they barely covered the absolute necessities, and the two scraps of cloth were held together only by four strips of string, two on each side. She must have shaved her bikini line, he realized, and the thought made him dizzy as he examined her creamy white thighs, fantasizing shamelessly about what lay under the tiny briefs.
He’d wondered before if Scully was a true redhead…
A shutter wracked his body and he forced his eyes away, raking instead down her legs to her feet. Muscular calves, well-sculpted, a blue and silver anklet above her left foot. Such tiny, delicate feet. He suppressed a groan.
She hummed contentedly, angling her face toward the sun. She was so warm, not quite unbearably hot yet, and on the verge of dreamland.
“Steph?” Mulder repeated, and her eyelids fluttered behind her dark glasses.
“Wanna go for a walk?”
“Mmm. I was almost asleep, Mmmike.” A “Mulder” had almost escaped then, damn it! He had to stop engaging her in conversation when her defenses were down.
“C’mon.” He had already stood, and now he was ambling away, his stride slow and measured. She sighed, sprang to her feet, and trotted after him.
“Slow down,” she commanded. “I’m not a frickin’ cocker spaniel.”
He slowed obligingly and lent her a leer worthy of the world’s oldest roue. They were out of earshot now and could speak freely. “Gee, Scully, I sure hope you’re not breaking any laws. Public morals or delinquency of a minor or anything.”
“Shut up, Mulder,” she groused. In her haste she’d forgotten her wrap, and she was feeling completely exposed.
He watched her flush a mottled rose all over and wondered if she had any idea how pretty her skin looked like that. He grinned and grabbed her hand. “It’s Mike.”
“How much progress would you say we’re making, Mike?”
“Fair to middlin’,” he drawled. “Look, Scully-It’s a childish ploy, but I think it might help if we staged a fight.”
“A fight?” That perfectly sculpted eyebrow arched upwards.
“Not just any fight. A real knock-down drag-out.”
She sighed. “I hate to say it, but, yeah, OK. I think it might work.”
“Scully, you’re slipping!”
“We’re not dealing with Einstein here, Mulder. Would you let go of me?”
“Touchy, touchy. They could be watching, Stephie, baby. Got to keep up appearances.”
Scully sighed gustily. Truth be told, she was feeling quite distracted herself. Mulder was wearing that red Speedo again – that glorious, damnable Speedo that exhibited what the good Lord had given him for every predatory female on the beach to see.
Mulder was perusing her face, the thoughtful, frustrated expression, the annoyance, the adorable way she was gnawing on her bottom lip.
“Where did you get that suit, anyway?”
Scully blushed. In her mind, she was back at the mall with Rachel last Wednesday, in a department store.
“OK, I’m going to try this one.” Rachel was holding up a leopard print tankini. “Now what about you?”
“I’m not going to buy anything. I’ve already got a suit.”
“Do you have a bikini?”
“Oh, come on, Steph! That one would look fantastic on you.” Rachel pointed to a black string bikini that was nothing more than three tiny triangles of cloth and string.
Scully shook her head adamantly. “No way. There is absolutely no way in hell you could get me in that thing.”
Rachel frowned. “I don’t know why you’re not more comfortable with yourself, Steph. I mean, you have a great body. Fantastic. I don’t care what kind of suits you wore before. You’re married now, after all. Don’t you think Mike would just be thrilled to see you in something like that?”
Scully stared at the swimsuit. She almost laughed out loud imagining Mulder’s reaction. He would shit! She pictured her usual black pantsuits and the plain tank suit that awaited her back at the apartment. Besides, wasn’t she supposed to be a newlywed? Dana Scully might die before she wore something like this, but Stephanie Jacobi would do it in a heartbeat, or at least after a little friendly persuasion.
“Okay,” she agreed finally. “I’ll try it on.”
“Oh, I’ve had it for a while,” Scully said, finally answering Mulder’s question.
Whether he accepted this or not, Mulder let it go. He grinned and slipped his arm around her waist.
His hair-roughened flesh slid silkily over her oiled skin, and he hooked his pointer finger under one of the straps at the side of her bikini bottoms. The muscles in Scully’s stomach jumped reflexively but she couldn’t force herself away from the contact she craved on a baser level. Instead she wriggled slightly as they walked, just once, causing his arm to slide back and forth against her back. She breathed out shakily, causing his breath to hitch in his throat. He yanked her closer to his side – finesse be damned – and though they were still walking – left, right, one foot in front of the other – Mulder’s entire being was focused on his thumb, which gently caressed the flesh of her belly, just a few inches from her adorable little belly button.
He wanted to pull her into his arms and press his body fully against hers, lower her to the beach and fuck her brains out until neither of them could walk or stand or think again, and he didn’t care if there were a million people watching, including Skinner, his mother, the Knicks, and the entire friggin’ Consortium.
No. That wasn’t the way he wanted it to be at all. He wanted to give her champagne and strawberries and chocolate and a king-sized bed with red satin sheets. He wanted to make love to her until he was buried so deeply inside her he never had to come out again.
He looked down at her, at the top of her head, and started to speak when Rachel came bounding up to them, Roger at her heels.
“You guys want to go into the ocean? I’m hot!” she exclaimed.
Mulder wanted to refuse. No thanks, guys. Screw the massive international drug bust. My wife – she’s actually my partner and we’re FBI agents, but fuck that – and I are going back to the condo to have wild, passionate sex because we’ve been waiting for seven years, and if anyone calls, please tell them we moved to Guatemala and don’t have a phone. But it had to be Scully’s decision, and hell, they probably weren’t exactly on the same page.
They probably weren’t even in the same library.
“Sure,” Scully sighed. Maybe the Atlantic would cool her off, but she doubted it. Right now she felt like she was going to spontaneously combust. She imagined Mulder trying to explain it to Skinner. “Well, sir, she just, you know, disappeared. It’s an X-file.” “Fine,” Skinner would say. “I’ll mark the case as open for research purposes, as long as it doesn’t cross my desk…” She almost giggled.
As long as he let go of her. Surely he would let go of her once they were in the water.
But he didn’t. If anything, his grip tightened. She shot him her look and he said, “Wouldn’t want you to get washed away.”
Roger and Rachel were just splashing at the edge, but Mulder and Scully both wanted to swim. Scully waded out until the water hit her chest and stopped. Mulder, who was still dry from the waist up, said, “C’mon, let’s go in further.”
She shook her head. “This is deep enough, thanks very much.”
“What’s the matter? You can swim.”
Scully snorted. “Yeah, but I don’t particularly want to tread water for thirty minutes.”
He grinned and ignored her. “I’ll help you,” he said, and dove under a wave. Scully sighed, exasperated and amused, and followed him.
When she surfaced, treading water, she could see Mulder several yards away, standing easily. She swam over to him.
“I’m going back in some so I can touch bottom,” she said, and turned to swim away, but Mulder caught her arm.
“No, wait.” His hands settled on her hips and he grinned. “There, I’ve got you.” She held herself stiffly and he admonished, “Relax, Scully.
I’m not the big bad wolf.”
“I don’t know about that,” she muttered, but she granted him a small smile.
She closed her eyes and consciously forced the tension out of her muscles, feeling as if it were flowing out of her and into the water.
She’d always loved the ocean, the buoyancy of the salt water, the tangy smell and taste, the wild beauty and raw power, the caress of the waves on her skin. She relaxed gradually into a boneless heap and Mulder drew her close, until her breasts pressed against his chest. She started to stiffen again and he bent his head to her ear, murmuring, “Relax.”
Against her better judgement, Scully did just that. She rested her forehead against Mulder’s collarbone and wound her legs around his waist. He breathed deeply and his hands moved from her hips to her back, supporting her securely.
“Scully,” he muttered, and she whispered a soothing, “Shhh.”
“Scully,” he repeated, and his lips pressed against her forehead. His lips trailed along her hairline, tasting the ocean salt mixed with her conditioner. His mouth moved to her temple, then the corner of her eye. His tongue flicked against her eyelashes, a feather light caress, and she moaned inarticulately.
To anyone witnessing these moments, the couple’s actions would have seemed anything but unusual. To both Scully and Mulder, though, it was inconceivable that anyone could fail to realize the immensity of what they were doing. Mike and Stephanie Jacobi weren’t in the middle of the ocean locked in a passionate embrace. Fox Mulder and Dana Scully, however, were. This time there were no false identities, no pretenses, just the two of them, alive and bare.
He was nibbling her earlobe now, and he still hadn’t kissed her lips.
Scully clutched his shoulders, their bodies bobbing and swaying with the waves. Finally she took his face in her hands and, determined to have his mouth, pulled his head down to hers, bringing his lips low enough for her hungry mouth.
There was no gentleness in the kiss; neither of them needed that.
Scully’s tongue plunged boldly between Mulder’s lips, plundering his mouth, feasting on it. God, he tasted good. She’d never imagined anything could taste so good.
Scully had never been much for kissing. She regarded it with scientific detachment. She’d always thought she was abnormal; kissing had never aroused her. Now she changed her theory. She’d never been kissed properly. This was the kind of kiss she’d always craved, hungered for.
She hungered for Mulder.
She loosened her ankles and slid lower, compelled to rub her body against the hard, aroused ridge of flesh she found there. Scully shivered violently. He was so hard. Hard for her, all for her. The thought heightened her excitement and she whimpered into his mouth. In response, his hands tightened convulsively on her flesh, drawing her as close as he could without being inside her. OhGodohGodohGod. She couldn’t think. His hands had drifted, cupping her ass, spreading her legs wider. She could feel him there between her thighs, pulsing, throbbing with heat. He must feel her heat too. She was so hot. She thought for a moment of how she must look now, engorged, swollen, her sex flushed from the blood thrumming there. An intense ache just kept building and building. She wondered if, despite the fact that they were surrounded by water, he could tell how wet she was.
Their mouths met again, clinging, tearing. It wasn’t enough. Her tongue thrashed with his and she locked her ankles, instinctively raising and lowering her body against his prominent erection. Oh, shit, it felt so good to her too. Through the thin swimsuit fabric she could feel him, feel the veins on his cock, feel him sliding against her lower lips. She was getting frantic. They wouldn’t even have to take everything off. If he just pushed his trunks down, they could maneuver around her bottoms. There was enough room –
She didn’t even realize her hands had slipped between their bodies and she was tugging at his swimsuit until his long fingers closed around her wrists, lifting her hand away. He tore his mouth from hers and placed a gentle kiss on her temple.
“No, Scully,” he said raggedly.
She froze. Oh, God. What had she just done? She quickly unwound her legs from his waist and pushed away. “I- I -” she began, looking away. Scully knew her face was scarlet.
“Not like this,” Mulder said with finality, and she nodded.
“You’re right,” she said shallowly, nodding in two quick, jerky spurts.
“Of course. I-” Again she stopped. Scully dove under the water and swam away. Mulder watched her slice through the waves to the sand, then practically run back to their towels.
Scully’s eyes were stinging, and it had nothing to do with the salt water. She fought the tears pooling behind her eyes and toweled off quickly. She was embarrassed. Mortified. What the hell would Mulder think of her now? That she was so desperate to get laid that she couldn’t control herself, she had to attack her partner? Mostly, though, she was hurt. Deeply hurt. Lately, especially since they’d taken this case, she’d been so sure that he felt more for her than a partnerly kind of affection. The touches, the kisses, the sweet words –
surely all of that wasn’t for show? And today, just now. She’d wanted him so badly. And he’d wanted her – she’d felt the evidence of that herself. But he’d rejected what she’d offered, and her body wasn’t something she could offer easily. “Not like this.” He’d looked so stoic when he said it. Not like what? Like too-long-abstinent FBI agents falling together out of desperation to satisfy an animalistic urge? She supposed she should be grateful for that; he didn’t want to use her like a whore. If anyone would do, he didn’t want it to be her.
But, dammit, it wasn’t like that for her! Scully’s mind screamed with anger and hurt. She was in love with her partner. What the hell good did it do to deny that now? And they had seemed so close, so close, to what she’d dreamed about–
Why the hell couldn’t he just feel the same way, the bastard?
Rachel was alone on the beach. She turned to Scully and smiled. “How was the water?” she asked slyly.
“Fine,” Scully muttered. “I’m going back to the condo now. I think I’m getting a sunburn.”
“OK. Hey, Steph?” She lowered her voice. “I just wanted to tell you.
If you and Mike – I mean, um – if you want to – don’t be embarrassed about – I mean, the walls are thick, OK?”
Scully nodded. She hadn’t thought it was possible to be any more embarrassed, but again she had been proven wrong. She was glowing like a Bermuda onion. Without another word she left the beach.
Part V – Paper Umbrellas
Mulder stayed in the water until things in his southerly regions were again presentable, then waded ashore. He’d watched Scully flee, red-faced. He would follow her. Roger and Rachel showed no signs of stirring; maybe he and Scully would have time to finish what they’d started out in the water. The thought alone had an immediate effect on his body and he grabbed his towel and tried to look casual.
He walked briskly toward the condo. Hell, he gave up trying to act nonchalant and jogged until the structure was in sight. He didn’t want Scully to have more proof of how painfully eager he was.
He unlocked the door and stepped inside, the air-conditioning chilling the moisture on his body. “Scully?” he called. No answer.
She wasn’t in the living room or the kitchen, not in their room, the bathroom, out on the balcony. Where the hell was she? He ached to crush her in his arms and tell her how much he-Yeah. How much he loved her.
The only damn problem was that she had taken off for parts unknown.
Mulder slumped down on the sofa and sulked.
Scully’s Nike-clad feet pounded the sand in a steady rhythm. She exhaled in quick measured puffs. She didn’t know or care how far she had run. Must be five, six miles now. Her lungs were starting to burn. The baseball cap she wore kept the perspiration out of her eyes, but the rest of her body was wet and sticky beneath her gray running shorts, sports bra, and navy sleeveless T-shirt.
Maybe she would run forever. Just run until her body shut down from complete lack of oxygen and she died.
She pushed herself harder, doing her damnedest not to think of Mulder.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t working.
Another mile. Two. Three. Five.
Finally she stopped and bent over, hands on her knees, almost sobbing for breath. She stood like that for a few minutes, then began to run again, back in the direction from which she had come.
She ran right up to the front door of the condo, then stepped inside.
The air-conditioning blasted her and she groaned.
“Hey, Steph,” Rachel said brightly. “Where did you go?”
“Just down the beach.” Scully got herself a glass of water then, on shaking legs, walked out to the balcony, where she collapsed in a boneless heap.
She heard voices inside but didn’t have the energy to stir. She stared dully at the sand and surf.
The glass door slid open behind her. “Hey, Stephanie.”
She looked up to see Mulder. “Hey.”
“So, you went running.”
Scully sent him a look that clearly expressed her belief that that statement was too obvious to deserve a reply.
“We thought we’d go out to dinner at a little place down the road. Not a tourist trap, really casual. You’re fine like you are.”
She shook her head and sighed. “No, I want to take a shower. What time are we leaving?”
“Okay.” She stood up slowly, painfully. “I’ll go get my shower now.”
She walked past him into the condo, leaving him to breathe in the tangy scent of her sweat mixed with the sea air.
Mulder took Scully aside before they left for the restaurant and said, “About the fight-“
She shook her head. “Not tonight. I’m too tired.”
“All right, tomorrow.”
Scully had little to say during dinner. Concerned, Rachel asked if anything was wrong. She shook her head and smiled tiredly. “No, I’m just exhausted. I haven’t run like that in ages.”
They went out to a movie afterwards, a romantic comedy that normally would have held Scully’s attention, but she could barely keep her eyes open, despite Mulder’s offer to share his popcorn and Milk Duds. As soon as they got back to the condo, Scully said good night to everyone and fell into bed, swaddled safely in her large gray pajamas. When Mulder came in less than ten minutes later she was sound asleep, hugging the extreme right side of the bed.
Scully slept like the dead all night long but was up by six thirty in the morning. It was time to prove herself worthy of the FBI.
Rachel wanted to go shopping. Perfect, Scully thought, smiling to herself.
Scully slid behind the wheel of the Mercedes and smiled nervously at Rachel. “I hardly ever drive this,” she explained. “I’m a little nervous.”
“We can take the jeep,” Rachel offered magnanimously, her big brown eyes wide.
“No.” Scully put the car in gear and backed smoothly out of the driveway. “It’s just that Mike usually does the driving. He doesn’t really like for me to drive this car. I mean, he loves it so much.
It’s his baby. And it’s so expensive, I’d hate to do anything to it.”
She cringed. “He’d kill me.”
“That doesn’t sound like Mike,” Rachel commented, checking her makeup.
“He’s always so friendly and good-humored, and it’s obvious how much he loves you.”
Scully smiled slightly. “Oh, I know. Mike’s a wonderful man. I love him so much.” She allowed herself a gusty sigh and a moment of silence. Rachel took the bait.
“Steph, what is it? Is something wrong?”
“No. No, everything’s fine,” she said unconvincingly.
Rachel apparently decided not to push the issue. She turned on the radio and they drove the rest of the way without talking, instead singing along.
They reached their destination and had browsed through a few stores when Rachel led them into a designer boutique. “I love this store.”
Scully smiled. “The clothes are pretty,” she said, but stood with her arms crossed, protectively hugging her purse.
“Ooh, look at that green dress! It would be so pretty with your hair.
Why don’t you try it on?”
Stephanie shook her head. “No. Um, I don’t think we can, um, afford anything in here.”
Rachel clapped her hand over her mouth. “Oh my gosh! How inconsiderate. I totally was not thinking. C’mon, let’s go somewhere else.”
“No, we can look here, Rach. It’s completely OK.”
“No, no, let’s go.”
As they exited the store, Stephanie began to sniffle. Rachel put her arm around her friend’s shoulders and guided her to a nearby bench.
“Oh, Steph! Sweetie, it’s OK. It’s fine.”
“It’s not that,” she sniffled miserably.
“What’s wrong, then? Tell me.”
“It’s the money.” She hid her face in her hands. “It’s not because I can’t buy fancy clothes or whatever. I really don’t care about that.
But it’s – well -” She broke off. “This is hard to talk about.”
“You can tell me, Steph.”
“I know. Well, Mike, he – Neither of us has a lot of money, you know?
But he – he spends money we don’t have. A lot of money. Haven’t you wondered how we could afford that car, Rachel?”
“Well, yeah, Roger and I wondered, because you said Mike took the teaching job because you guys needed the money, but, I mean…”
“It’s – it’s totally extravagant, Rachel. And we’re in debt. Bad.
That’s why we moved.” Tears were running down her face and she was crying openly now. “We couldn’t pay the bills. And our credit is complete shit. And so we just picked up and left. Oh, God!”
“Oh, Steph.” Rachel rubbed her friend’s back.
“And Mike’s so unhappy. He doesn’t want to teach at all and I insisted because, what else are we supposed to do? I can’t pay the bills on my own! And he resents me for it. I feel awful. We fight about it, and –
Rachel, it’s tearing us apart, and I can’t stand it! I don’t know what to do!”
Rachel hugged her sobbing friend and made reassuring noises. “Don’t worry, Steph. It’ll all be OK. Really. I promise.”
Scully lifted her tear-streaked face. “H-how?”
Rachel leaned closer and lowered her voice. Her eyes had widened perceptibly and she looked very serious and a little nervous. “I can’t really explain it to you. But Roger knows people. He has ways to make lots of money. And you and Mike are our friends. Roger can fix it for you so you can both make a lot of money and everything will be fine.
“Really?” Stephanie’s eyes lit up with fragile hope. “Do you really think so? Because if he could help us – oh, Rachel – it would mean so much!”
Rachel hugged Stephanie again and when she spoke again her voice held an undercurrent of certainty. “Don’t worry about it any more, Steph. I’ll talk to Roger tonight.”
“So, we’re in?”
Scully looked around for Rachel, but the other woman hadn’t reappeared from the bathroom yet. Scully spoke into her cell phone in the lowest tone possible. “Yeah, it looks that way, provided Roger’s in favor.”
“That shouldn’t be a problem. I’ve been talking it up. The fight should clinch it.”
“Yeah. Oh, she’s back.” Scully hit the end button and dropped her phone into her purse.
Rachel was all smiles. “There you are! I was thinking, wouldn’t it be fun to go to a club tonight? There’s a great one about ten minutes away from here. Mostly, you know, grad students and people under thirty.
It’s a blast, and the bar tender’s hot.” She waggled her eyebrows.
Scully grinned. “Do the drinks have those little umbrellas?”
“You got it.”
“Fantastic! Come on, let’s go find something drop-dead to wear.”
Mulder was getting really tired of playing golf. It wasn’t exactly his sport of choice. Why couldn’t their man have been a basketball enthusiast? Baseball? Bowling? Chess, for Christ’s sake?
Mulder haphazardly whacked another little white ball and watched it sail away into a sand trap. Roger chuckled and Mulder forced a small smile.
Sure, Scully got to go shopping and lay in the sun, and he got stuck playing five million holes of golf.
He watched as Roger made a perfect put, or whatever the hell you called it. Mulder vengefully swung his club and took some satisfaction at the way the ball spun wildly over the fairway.
Roger Whitmore, he’d decided shortly after meeting the man, was an arrogant s.o.b. Obsessed with money, too. A by-product of the drug trade. Mulder imagined he, as an FBI agent, wasn’t in any danger of catching the Mr. Big Spender virus. His car. His Rolex. His fabulous chateau in Vale. Apparently his latest plan was to buy Rachel some new breasts. Mulder had been too distracted by other things, namely Scully, to pay much attention, but he certainly hadn’t noticed anything wrong with Rachel’s current set.
He was playing along, though, keeping up his overgrown frat boy image, showing the appropriate amount of interest in Roger’s wealth. How had he acquired it? Must be nice to have it so easy. Life was a bitch when you were poor. Be nice to live in style. Stephanie nagged him and it pissed him off, but it would be nice to buy her some things. Pretty clothes, whatever she wanted. Jewelry.
This is when Roger had subtly interjected, “Yeah, man, don’t take this the wrong way, but your wife is hot.”
Mulder had felt the sudden desire to knock the man’s head off, but he wisely restrained himself. Who was he kidding? Scully was hot. Anyone who saw her knew that. He just didn’t particularly want anyone else looking.
After the latest progress report from Scully, Mulder was feeling considerably better. They were close. He could feel it. Whitmore trusted them. It was only a matter of time.
Scully and Rachel cooked dinner. Mulder knew immediately that Scully had selected the menu. Shrimp sauted in white wine sauce, a spinach salad with a light vinaigrette, steamed baby vegetables with just a dab of butter, and crusty french bread. Rachel poured champagne into the fluted glasses and Roger asked, “What’re we celebrating, baby?”
She beamed at Stephanie. “Oh, just – everything. Friends.”
Scully clinked her glass against Mulder’s. “Cheers,” she murmured. He caught her eye and her lips quirked slightly. “We have strawberries for dessert,” she said.
Rachel grinned as Mike drew his flustered wife down into his lap. “My dessert’s right here,” he said, loudly enough for both Roger and Rachel to hear. Stephanie’s face flamed.
Scully shot her partner a look. Mulder, what the hell are you doing?
He grinned in response. It’s all part of the show, Scully, he silently answered.
“So, Mike, the girls want to go to a club tonight,” Roger said.
Mulder looked at his partner, whom he still held firmly in his lap. He knew she hated the way Roger referred to her and Rachel as “the girls.”
“We’re not twelve!” she had snapped once in passing.
Mulder leered at Scully. “That right? Want to get your groove on, Steph?” He wiggled his knee suggestively, causing her to bounce up and down.
She gritted her teeth. “That’s right, pumpkin.” Her voice was syrupy.
Mulder almost cringed. Ouch. She’d sunk to the fruits and vegetables level. Well, he deserved it.
Rachel and Scully abandoned the dirty dishes in the sink and disappeared into the master bathroom to get ready. Mulder heard periodic laughter, and looked curiously at the closed door. Scully dressed up to go out on the town – this he had to see.
Being a man, all Mulder had to do was throw on khakis and a black t-shirt, and he was ready. He and Roger sat in the living room and waited. Roger eventually went to the bathroom door and banged.
“Just a minute,” the reply floated back.
Finally, the door opened. Mulder felt as if he were waiting for the unveiling of a Michaelangelo statue. Rachel appeared first, wearing a silver skirt and a shiny silver-blue tank top, her hair arranged on top of her head in spiral curls. Scully crept out behind her, as if she were trying to hide. Rachel stepped aside and Mulder finally got a good luck at his partner.
He started at her feet: black velvet platform shoes with red embroidery. Impossibly high fuck-me heels. Bare legs – oh, god, bare legs. Blood red skirt – a short skirt, lightly caressing her thighs, hugging her curves. Matching velvet tank top. Mulder could see the barest sliver of pale skin above the waistband of the skirt, and he imagined the little shirt shimmying up her stomach if Scully lifted her arms. Hair down, glistening in the light, raucous curls spilling around her face. Dark lipstick on her bow-shaped mouth, and smoky eyeliner.
Tiny gold hoops sparkled at her ears.
Scully took in his expression and smiled slightly. “Ready?” she asked almost shyly.
The club was large, the lighting low in a classy rather than sleazy way. Mulder looked around the large room. Bar. Tables. Stairs leading down to a huge dance floor, ringed by more tables. Paintedon the walls were scenes of elegantly dressed couples, 40s-style, ballroom dancing a la Fred and Ginger. Most interesting, though, were the raised cages, one at each corner of the dance floor, large enough for a couple of people. He eyed them, wondering what it would take to get Scully up there.
Mulder felt a tug at his arm and turned in time to follow Scully’s velvet-clad derriere as it swayed toward a table on the edge of the dance floor.
The table was shoved into a tiny cube of space. Whil Roger and Rachel sandwiched themselves on one side, Scully found herself practically in Mulder’s lap.
Roger insisted on ordering a round of drinks. Scully looked from the dark, thick German beer Mulder was sipping from a tall bottle back to her untouched margarita. It was pretty, she thought, appealing in its large rounded goblet. She didn’t drink much, but Rachel had told her this place was famous for its frozen margaritas. And what the hell?
She flicked her tongue against the salty rim and took a big gulp.
Roger and Rachel got up to dance. Mulder looked over at Scully, who was finishing her drink. It struck him again that she looked, for lack of a more eloquent word, hot. Under those somber black pantsuits, she was hot. Hell, in those somber black pantsuits she was hot.
As if intercepting his train of thought, her big blue eyes fastened on his. “What?”
He shrugged. “Nothing. Wanna dance?”
He thought she was going to say no. He wanted her to dance with him.
He wanted to hold her and feel her and –
She was going to say no. The prospect of full body contact with a black clad, freshly showered Mulder was just too dangerous – and too appealing.
Oh, come on, Dana! A little voice shouted inside her head. It sounded a little like Missy, but Scully knew it was herself. Live a little, for once. Jesus Christ.
Scully didn’t smile. She looked very serious.
Part VI — More On Black Bikinis
Mulder felt like a pimply-faced kid at his first school dance as Scully followed him the few short steps to the dance floor. He allowed himself, very briefly, to think of the things he’d do with her if she’d let him – Thoughts that furthered Mulder’s analogy of himself to a virginal, hormone-crazed adolescent. Except, he amended, his fantasies had never been so explicit at that age; these things required a certain degree of experience.
But not with her. Never with Scully. Not that he never thought of her sexually – God knows he did. Mulder was not a religious man, but the words that came to him when he thought of knowing Scully so intimately –not just her body, but her spirit, her mind – were “sacred” and “holy.”
He would only come to her if he were in a position to worship rather than profane.
They had started moving to the music, not touching. The song was fast, so they were relatively safe.
Scully began to actually register and digest the lyrics: “Sweat, baby, sweat, baby; sex is a Texas drought…”
“Whatever that is,” she muttered, then laughed aloud at how old she sounded. Scully felt Mulder’s answering laughter in a puff of warm air against her cheek. His hands settled on her hips and he pulled her body close enough to touch his. She jumped.
“Hey, take it easy,” he admonished.
As the song ended, Scully tugged at Mulder’s hand. “Let’s go to the bar and get another drink.”
A few songs later Rachel joined them at their table. She was flushed and sweaty. “Aren’t you guys going to dance?”
“We danced,” Mulder said shortly, looking across the table at Scully.
She was drinking a mararita through a straw – How many was this, anyway? Four? And Scully was pretty small. Her cheeks were a little flushed, her eyes a shade brighter than usual, and she was smiling widely.
“I want to dance.” She stood up suddenly. “Let’s dance, Mike.” He hesitated. “Please?”
That got him. The soft, low voice, schoolgirlish and seductive.
Scully wobbled a little at first, then leaned into Mulder’s offered arm as they wove their way through the throng of gyrating bodies.
Scully glanced over her shoulder, grinning wickedly. One of her small hands snaked out, grabbing the metal bars of the cage they were passing. She planted a high-heeled foot on the platform and started to haul herself up.
Mulder immediately broke into a cold sweat; he could feel drops of perspiration on his upper lip. His prim, straight-laced partner dancing dirty in a cage – Jesus Christ. He seized his partner by the waist and hauled her back down to the floor.
She frowned at him. “Mul-der!” she exclaimed.
“Mike,” he murmured. “C’mon.”
“I just want to have some fun,” she pouted. Mulder looked down into her smoky, over-bright eyes.
“We’re going to have fun. Let’s just dance, sweetheart.”
A new song had just started, fast and bouncy. Placated, Scully began to move with the contagious rhythm. Mulder gawked, wondering if this vision was what Dana Scully had been like as an undergrad. The sensible pathologist lifted her arms and spun, then, facing him again, began to move sensuously. He was even more surprised when she began to sing along. Scully herself wasn’t quite sure why she knew the words, but they tumbled from her tongue: “…that my favorite group ain’t comin’
with it, but I’m with it, ’cause you’re prob’ly goin’ through it anyway…”
Eventually the music changed drastically. Scully recognized the song immediately and froze. Mulder had also stopped. It was a familiar, haunting beat, softly techno.
“Speak to me, baby, in the middle of the night…”
It seemed th eperfect song for Scully and Mulder to dance to. Scully and Mulder, not Stephanie and Mike. Their eyes locked and Scully smiled a little. Their bodies melded together in sync, Scully’s head tucked under Mulder’s chin, her cheek nestled against his chest.
His palms slid over her back and arms before stilling, pulling her so close that not a breath could pass between them. Scully’s eyes drifted shut as they barely swayed.
Mulder led Scully back across the dance floor to their table as soon as the song ended. She ordered another drink, shivering at the salty sweet rush.
Scully became aware of Mulder watching her intently, not moving, not even blinking. She gazed back, intrigued.
He waited until her glass was empty, then pushed it back, at the same time drawing her chair next to his. Before she could move – not that she would have – she was in her partner’s embrace, almost in his chair, and his lips were bathing her face with kisses. Not her mouth, but her eyelids, forehead, nose, cheeks, chin. A feeling of light exhilration started at Scully’s toes and tingled upward, the same feeling she remembered from dancing in a summer rain, and she wanted to laugh.
Instead she twined her arms around Mulder’s neck, vise-like, and yanked his mouth to hers. Their noses bumped clumsily, then their lips fit together, as they had yesterday, like interlocking pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. Her teeth found his prominent lower lip, worrying it, sucking, grating it with her small, sharp teeth, nipping hard enough to draw blood, then soothing with her tongue.
“Scully,” he hissed, and with a soft kiss on her lips, he pushed her back into her chair. He stood and disappeared into the crowd. He reappeared a moment later, tossing a few bills on the table.
“Let’s go,” he said, and she saw Roger and Rachel from the corner of her eye, getting their coats.
Although it was almost summer, the breeze coming in from the Atlantic had a sharp bite. Mulder drew Scully against his warm body as they walked to the jeep, transferring his arm to her shoulders as he helped her into the backseat.
Scully had a nice buzz going, and she liked the contrast of the cool air against her hot skin, but not as much as she liked feeling Mulder’s lithe runner’s body pressed against her side. She giggled, feeling warm and sleepy.
Neon lights whizzed by outside the car window. Scully fixated on one in particular. “Dick’s Pawn Shop. Is that where you go to pawn your dick? You’d better be careful.” She elbowed Mulder in the stomach. He couldn’t help but laugh.
Then her hand shifted, and he wasn’t laughing anymore. He wasn’t sure who was more shocked, Scully or himself, but her fingers now rested directly over his dick. He was very obviously aroused.
She breathed in his scent, feeling his heartbeat beneath the bone and muscle of his shoulder. After several minutes her fingers, which had not so much as twitched, crept down his shaft, her warm palm pressing in and curving to cup him.
“You’re drunk,” he ground out.
“You’re hard,” she replied conversationally, her low whisper inaudible in the front seat. Her eyes said much more. She wasn’t drunk. Her cheeks were flushed and her pupils dilated now with a completely different kind of buzz, much more intoxicating than alcohol.
That knowledge made his dick leap under her palm, and she rubbed him in small circles, almost soothing.
“Are you sure?” he asked, trying to inject the appropriate amount of seriousness into a momentous situation.
“Pretty damn sure,” Scully deadpanned, looking down at the front of Mulder’s bulging trousers. “I know hard from soft.”
That set them both off, laughing drunkenly; whether from alcohol or seven years of tension was immaterial.
Scully moved her hand away and Mulder gathered her to him and held her in a warm, comfortable embrace. In the cocoon of his arms, Scully felt dizzy.
Cuddling, she thought a little hysterically. My partner, Fox Mulder, and I, Dana Scully, are cuddling in the backseat of an international drug dealer’s jeep Grand Cherokee. It was perfect. Given their history, it was just too fucked-up and perfect.
It didn’t matter. Didn’t matter. If, in some tiny, romantic part of her soul, Scully had harbored a secret hope – so secret it had been kept even from her conscious mind – of a future with Mulder, that hope had died long ago. At least, she thought it had. But now –
Now his long, thin fingers were sifting through the feathery hair at the nape of her neck and she was breathing in the scent of spice and musk and sweat that was all male, all mulder. And it felt so good.
She must have said the words aloud, let them flow out on a sigh, because he repeated, his mouth at her temple, “So good.” Then again, grazing the corner of her mouth: “So good.”
“So good,” she echoed, snuggling even closer. She pressed her mouth to his, not really kissing, just touching.
Scully was almost surprised when the jeep stopped at the condo. She let Mulder help her down. They all went inside and said their good-nights. Mulder and Scully hadn’t made it even halfway down the hall when he pushed her up against the wall, using his body weight to hold her there, and began to devour her mouth.
Kisses that started out as hard, hungry nips soon became long, ravenous strokes and swirls. Scully clawed at Mulder’s T-shirt, finally shoving her hands under its hem against his stomach. He groped along the wall, finding the doorknob and flinging open their bedroom door. They staggered inside and the door bumped shut behind them.
A groan. A sigh. Scully’s passion lifted her up with Mulder’s hands so that her thighs cradled his hips, her feet locked securely behind his knees. His hands bunched up her dress, sliding underneath her hose and underwear to stroke the curve of her ass.
“You’re so beautiful,” he said into her neck. “So damn beautiful. Do you know what it does to me, having you next to me every day and knowing I can’t touch you? Can’t ever touch you?”
“You’re full of shit.”
She sighed and kissed his jaw. “Then touch me now.”
The words had scarcely left her mouth and he was divesting her of her clothing with such ferocity that, as he tugged at her skirt, she panted, “Don’t – Don’t rip it.”
“Help me,” he growled, and she wriggled frantically until the fabric cleared her hips. Mulder was already seizing her tank top, discarding it almost ferociously on the floor.
“Christ!” His voice was strangled, and Scully wasn’t quite sure if the word was a curse or an invocation. What he did next shocked her completely. He fell to his knees and looped his arms around her hips, pressing his whole face into her stomach, just above her black bikini-cut briefs. “Scully,” he said, turning to rub his cheek against her flesh. His stubble prickled deliciously. “Scully, Scully, Scully, Scully,” he repeated over and over. He sounded, she thought, reverent.
She felt so…special. Her heart swelled with a love that she finally recognized, all due to him. Hot tears started to roll down her cheeks.
“Mulder.” She tugged him upward. “Mulder, now.”
Scully lay back on the bed, pulling him down on top of her. His full weight settled over her and she groaned.
“Hurting you?” he panted, trying to push himself up onto his forearms, but she wouldn’t let him.
“God, no,” she replied, a little embarrassed by the breathy sound of her voice. Scully clung to Mulder with her best clinch – she’d learned a thing or two from that martial arts training.
He chuckled. “Okay, G-woman.”
She yanked at his shirt, jerking it roughly over his head, then ran her fingernails up and down his muscular back. Instead of gentleness, the love she felt surrounding her partner and herself, binding them together even more tightly, had inspired ferocity. Hers. She wanted to brand him, at some deep, primitive level of existence, to have him brand her.
To her delight, Mulder was removing his pants. She watched as his underwear came down with them and his erect penis popped free. Scully had never considered the primary male sex organ to be sexy or romantic or visually arousing, but now the sight of a naked Mulder made her stomach muscles jump and clench with carnal anticipation.
She closed her eyes and Mulder leaned over her, his face just a few inches from hers. “Ohhh, yeah, sweetheart,” he said huskily, his fingers finding the front clasp of her bra. As she shrugged it from her shoulders, then down her arms, all she could think was a giddy, “Mulder called me sweetheart!” Scully wanted to laugh, but Mulder was busily going to work on her panties, not stopping until they were both nude.
Then he looked at her. Really looked. Stared. Gawked, even. And Scully knew from the look on his face that he liked what he saw, which made her appreciate her body in a whole new way. She tried to see herself as he must see her: short but muscular legs, strong calves, skin lightly bronzed and freckled by the sun. The nest of dark curls at the apex of her pale thighs. Flat stomach crossed at the edge by an angry bullet scar. Nipples standing proudly at attention, chest and breasts flushed rose. The pulse pounding visibly at her throat. Her hair, tossed wildly on the pillow. As if on cue, he dropped his mouth to her pulse point and began to suck and nibble. He felt her racing heartbeat merging with his until the two were indistinguishable.
He ran his hands down her arms, then back up, and paused before giving in to the need to touch her breasts. Mulder’s hands trembled as he drew them down her throat, down her chest, to caress her breasts. His touch was light at first, just a slight, feathery brushing of fingertips. Her flesh seared him.
Scully shifted restlessly, her eyes closed, and emitted a frustrated grunt. Her breasts were so full and heavy and tender that they ached; she was tired of being teased.
“Mulder,” she choked, grimacing.
His palms immediately lifted and cupped her, his weight pressing firmly against the taut, pebbled nipples. Mulder’s skillful fingers kneaded her flesh for a long moment, then took a nipple between the thumb and forefinger of each hand, rolling and pinching them.
“Ooh!” The sound was almost a squeal. Scully felt Mulder’s smile against her chest and her toes curled.
“Like that?” Mulder asked hoarsely. He bent his head and his mouth replaced one hand, while the other and continued to busily work the nipple.
Mulder sucked as much of Scully as he could into his mouth, nipping and biting, tongue laving, sucking almost to the point of pain. Scully made a soft, gasping “aah” sound and twined her fingers through his hair, holding him there.
Mulder switched to the other breast, lavishing upon it the same attention. He was actually holding Scully down now as her body bucked and rolled beneath his, as if she were on the sea. His hungry gaze had just strayed to her thighs and the thatch of dark hair hiding the swell of her sex when her hand closed firmly around his shaft, stroking.
“Now,” she hissed urgently. He looked into her eyes, which were fierce and glazed over. “Now!”
Mulder decided that the sweet tang of pure Scully on his tongue would have to wait; here was his naked partner, writhing beneath him and begging him to fuck her now.
He spread her legs with his knee and reached between her legs. He briefly traced the hot, silky folds and his fingers came up wet and glistening. He licked her juices from his fingers then kissed her, mouths open, his tongue plunging, allowing her to taste herself. Scully spread her legs wider and locked her knees around his waist. His cock rubbed tantalisingly at her entrance. She undulated her hips, making it rub even more.
They were both trembling as he entered her for the first time, feeling her expand to accommodate him. He moaned and kissed her forehead. “You feel so good,” he panted. “So fucking good.”
“More,” Scully demanded, her eyes meeting his. She tilted her pelvis so that he could penetrate her more deeply. “And hard.”
His next thrust was harder, but still not enough. “Do it harder,” she gasped. “As hard as you can!”
Mulder slammed into her with a force that made her teeth rattle and the headboard slam against the wall. Scully cried out, her eyes rolling backward. A few more thrusts and she was so close, the pressure building and tightening agonizingly in her belly.
“Yesss,” she moaned. “Oh – Mulder – oh, I’m – I’m gonna – fuck!”
Her body and mind seemed to implode and she convulsed wildly, her head tossing back and forth on the pillow. Her pleasure drove him over the edge, and, his teeth gritted, he thrust savagely two, three more times and spilled into her with a shout.
Afterward, neither of them spoke. Exhaustion bore down heavily, and, still sweaty and sticky, they fell asleep in a tangle of arms and legs.
Part VII – Conclusion, Resolution, Absolution
Scully was dreaming. It was a wonderful dream. Briefcase in hand, she walked to the door of a brick Georgetown townhouse and let herself in.
Mulder was there with two children – their features were blurred, but Scully knew they were hers. Theirs. On the mantle was a framed photo of Mulder and herself –a wedding picture.
Then, as dreams do, the scene changed. She and Mulder were in a blue tiled bathroom, candles flickering softly while they made love in a hot bubble bath.
In the peaceful state between slumber and waking, Scully smiled and thought of her dream. It wasn’t just a dream anymore. She and Mulder had made love. Passionate, desperate, sweaty, sticky, beautiful first-time love that left Scully feeling wonderful but yearning for a slow, unhurried exploration of Mulder’s body.
But there would be other times. Countless ways for them to demonstrate their love. Her heart swelled. Deep, deep inside, Dana Katherine Scully was a romantic, and for the first ime in a long time – maybe ever – she was head-over-heels in love. She imagined long walks, dancing, rainy days spent curled up on the sofa watching movies, chasing aliens and evil in nowhere, U.S.A. with the knowledge that, at the end of the day, she and her partner would sleep in the same bed and hold one another, shared holidays and birthdays…
Scully stretched and rolled over, intent on snuggling into Mulder’s arms and going back to sleep, and found instead –
And a wet spot from the night before.
Scully sat up and squinted at the bedside clock. It was only 7:15; where the hell was Mulder? She looked toward the bathroom. The door was open, the lights off. No Mulder.
Scully hugged the sheet to her chest, her nudity making her feel vulnerable. She spotted a scrap of paper on the table and seized it with eager fingers. Mulder’s familiar scrawl: S-
7:00 tee time with Roger
That was it. No love, no didn’t want to wake you, not even a see you later. It could be a goddamn interoffice memorandum.
Okay, Dana, calm down, she instructed herself. Mulder’s not exactly a hearts and flowers kind of guy. What did you expect, Byron? I think not. He had to go play golf. You are on a case.
Scully took a shower and threw on shorts and a shirt. Rachel wasn’t up yet, so she tossed the dirty sheets from the bed into the washing machine and sat down to eat fruit and cereal.
Rachel still hadn’t stirred when the guys returned – she’d had a lot to drink the night before. Roger beamed at Scully. “Hey, Steph.”
“Hi, guys.” Her eyes softened when she looked at Mulder.
“Hey,” he replied, not really looking at her. She sobered a little.
“Did you have a good game?” she asked.
It was Roger who answered. “Yeah, we did. Great game. Is my wife still not up? Jesus, she can be lazy.” He headed for their bedroom, ostensibly to wake Rachel.
Left alone with Scully, Mulder grinned happily, and Scully relaxed.
She almost sighed with relief.
Mulder grabbed her shoulders and looked into her face, his eyes shining. “This is it, Scully.”
Scully nodded, thinking of all the things she wanted to say. This is it. You’re the one for me, the only one. You have been for seven years, since I first walked into that basement. I’ve loved you for so long, and it’s finally our turn.
Instead she settled for “I know,” trusting her eyes to say the rest.
“I got the evidence.”
“Wh-what?” she stammered.
“Roger invited us in, explained the whole operation to me,” Mulder said a little impatiently. I got it all on tape.”
“Oh – that’s great.” Scully’s blood actually felt cold, chilling her as it flowed through her veins. “For an international drug lord, Roger isn’t very smart, is he?”
“Smarter than you think.”
Scully closed her eyes for a split second at the sound of the voice.
“Oh, shit.” She opened them again to find herself looking over Mulder’s shoulder, straight down the barrel of a shiny pistol. “Shit. Shit.”
Roger cocked the pistol, aiming at the back of Mulder’s skull. “I suggest you don’t make any sudden moves.”
Rachel stumbled sleepily out of the bedroom in her blue terry cloth bathrobe. Her eyes widened like flying saucers. “Roger! Wha-What’s going on?”
“These people are not who they say they are, Rachel.” He motioned toward the couch, the pistol unwavering. “Sit down. Nice and slow.”
Mulder and Scully sat stiffly, side by side.
“Roger?” Rachel implored fearfully, cowering behind her husband.
“Now tell me who the hell you are,” Roger barked coldly, ignoring his wife.
“I’m Fox Mulder,” Mulder said coolly, his expression unreadable. “And this is Dana Scully, my partner. Special Agents, Federal Bureau of Investigation.”
Roger’s lips curled in disgust. “The F.B. fucking I.”
“The FBI? What could the FBI want with us? Roger? Stephanie – Mike –
that’s not really true, is it?”
“It’s true, Rachel. My name is Dana Scully. Your husband is the head of a drug ring-“
Rachel stared, mouth open. “That’s a lie. That’s a lie! Roger, tell them. Tell them it’s not true-“
“Where do you think the money comes from, Rachel?” Mulder replied.
Roger said nothing.
Rachel looked pleadingly from Mulder to her husband to Scully and back to Mulder. “Is it – true – Roger?”
Roger casually propped one foot on the coffee table. “So, the FBI’s come to visit. Do undercover agents always take their assignments so seriously? That was quite a performance last night.” He smirked.
Scully felt her face flaming. Great. This situation was just perfect.
“What’s your master plan, Roger?” Scully taunted. “What are you going to do with us?”
Whitmore looked at her as if she had the intelligence of tofu. “I’m going to shoot you, Agent Scully.”
“That’s brilliant,” Mulder said. “Just dispatch two federal agents.
No one will ever notice.”
“I’ll be out of the country by then.”
Rachel swallowed hard. “What about me?”
“What about you?” Roger snapped.
Scully’s heart went out to the younger woman. She had seen people transformed from seemingly average individuals into hardened criminals.
Rachel hadn’t. This was the man she loved.
Realization dawned with horror on Rachel’s pretty face. “It’s true.
You’re what they say. You’re going to kill them – and me. You’re going to shoot me.”
Roger sighed wistfully. “I’m sorry, Rach. But what else can I do?”
He turned away from his wife and looked at Mulder and Scully. “Let’s see – Who first? Would you like to watch your partner die, Ms. Scully?”
“It’s Dr. Scully.” She didn’t know why she said it, but it gave her some sort of perverse satisfaction. Then silence reigned again, and Scully gazed steadily at her adversary, her chin raised, fingers itching to hold her Sig Sauer.
“No. You first, Dr. Scully. Want to give Agent Mulder a little kiss goodbye?”
Scully’s eyes flashed with venom. “Go to hell.”
“You’ll get there first.” As she watched, Roger’s finger squeezed the trigger. She squeezed her eyes shut, heard the explosion, felt herself being knocked to the ground. There was an exploding pain in her back –
Wait. In her back?
She opened her eyes. Rachel was lying on top of her. Scully had sharply struck the corner of the coffee table as she fell. Mulder and Roger were struggling for the gun. Mulder shoved the other man to the floor, wrenched his arm back, and disentangled the gun. Scully looked on as if she were watching a movie.
“Stay right there, you son of a bitch,” he said raggedly. “Scully?”
Mulder glanced over his shoulder. “You OK?”
“Yeah. But -” There was hot, sticky blood flowing down Scully’s leg.
It had taken her a moment to realize it wasn’t her own. “Rachel’s not.”
Scully struggled to sit, carefully lifting the other woman’s dead weight and rolling her onto her back. The blood flowed crimson from a wound in her lower abdomen. Scully looked at Mulder, who now held the gun trained on Whitmore.
“Call an ambulance.”
Scully stirred in the hard plastic hospital chair. There was no chance of sleep. In addition to being excruciatingly uncomfortable, she felt compelled to open her eyes every few minutes and check on Rachel Whitmore.
The light in the ICU was dim. Scully looked at Rachel, pale and still as death, hooked up to the monitors. The doctors had performed emergency surgery upon arrival, allowing Scully to observe, but Rachel had yet to regain consciousness.
Now, at 4 a.m., long past visiting hours, the “M.D.” at the end of Scully’s name had helped her forge her way into Rachel’s room. She had been in this spot all afternoon and evening since she and Mulder had delivered Roger into custody and briefly given statements. She’d called Rachel’s mother and sister in Georgia herself. They would arrive in a few hours.
Mulder had left hours ago, at Scully’s insistence, since he couldn’t come into the room. He’d gone to a motel, and would pick Scully up in two hours to go the airport and catch a commuter flight to D.C.
On the bed, Rachel stirred. Scully snapped to attention and watched as the other woman’s eyes fluttered. “Rachel,” she said softly.
It took a few minutes, but Rachel’s eyes opened and appeared to focus.
“Steph? I mean-“
“Dana.” Scully squeezed Rachel’s hand reassuringly. “Dana Scully.
How do you feel?”
“I – It hurts. What-“
“You were shot. You jumped in front of me. You saved my life.”
“He’s in jail.”
Rachel took a painful, shaky breath. “You lied to me.”
“I’m so sorry.”
For several minutes Rachel said nothing. Scully thought she had gone to sleep.
“So, you’re a doctor?”
“Yes. And you’re going to be just fine.”
“Mmm.” She stared at the ceiling. “Dana? So you and Mike – Agent, ah, Mulder – you’re not married or anything?”
“No. We’re partners.”
“But you love each other.”
“We’re best friends.”
“You’re in love.”
“Rachel, it was an assignment. An act.”
Rachel shook her head. “No. That’s not true.” A ghost of a smile touched her pale lips. “You think I didn’t hear what went on last night after the club?”
Scully’s face flamed. “That – that shouldn’t have happened.”
“I don’t care what you tell me. I’ve seen the way you look at each other. Maybe I don’t know love in my own marriage, but I see it in you two.”
Again Rachel fell silent. This time she slept. Scully sat, watching her friend, until time to meet Mulder. She walked down the fluorescent-lighted corridors, out into the pale morning light, and stood until the regulation blue Taurus pulled up.
Mulder drove Scully to the motel so she could shower and change. She tossed her dirty clothes into her suitcase, gnawing her lower lip in intense concentration. Rachel’s words haunted her. Was it that painfully obvious she loved Fox Mulder? And he still hadn’t said a word about what had happened less than 48 hours earlier.
Mulder frowned, watching her. “Scully, is something wrong?”
“I told you, Mulder. I’m fine.”
“You don’t always have to say that, Scully.”
Scully turned suddenly, viciously slamming the lid of her suitcase.
“What could possibly be wrong, Mulder? I’m fine. I’m great. I’m fan-fucking-tastic!” Her voice rose sharply on the last phrase, and she grabbed the suitcase, yanked it to the floor, and stormed out of the room, banging against the doorframe as she went.
The drive to the airport was completely silent. Mulder didn’t like to mess with Scully when she was in these moods. She sat pressed against the passenger door, her back ramrod straight, her lips tightly compressed. She was royally pissed. No, scratch that; she was mad as hell. At him. The trouble was he didn’t know why.
She didn’t say a word to him until they got on the plane, then only broke the silence when he started to take the window seat instead of his usual aisle position to snap, “Can I at least have the goddamn window?”
Mulder gave it up without a fight. He’d never seen Scully so full of suppressed rage; she was frightening in her intensity, and yet she was keeping this emotion as tightly reigned in as she did all of her others.
Scully’s thoughts still plagued her when they reached cruising altitude. As hard as she’d tried to keep her feelings for Mulder hidden from the world, from him, from herself, they had showed through. She really wasn’t surprised.
She looked disconsolately at the fluffy clouds. Scully was so angry at herself. She’d given in, had sex with her partner, thinking of it as some grand declaration of undying love. Stupid! She’d thought everything would be different now. Not perfect, but different.
Intimate in a new way. Instead, even after a near-death experience, Mulder had greeted Scully not with open arms and kisses and words of love, but with a styrafoam cup of diesel coffee, a bagel and cream cheese in a brown bag, and a “Here.”
Stupid! She’d forgotten what sex was. Simple, instinctual mating.
Nothing more. In this case, hard and fast and semi-drunken. Something best forgotten, something Mulder obviously wanted to forget. Scully hoped she could…
She felt her control slipping, her façade cracking, as the plane taxied, and she knew Mulder could sense it too. She willed herself into an uneasy sleep to keep from saying something she would later regret.
Mulder chanced a glance at his partner. She was asleep. He almost sighed with relief, studying her face in concern. Even in sleep, there was a slight frown line wrinkling her normally smooth brow, and her jaw was locked as if she were gritting her teeth.
Mulder forced his attention back to his magazine, and the next thing he felt was Scully’s head dropping onto his shoulder. He started in surprise only to realize that she was still sleeping soundly. As he watched, feeling as if a vice were twisting around his heart, she burrowed into his shoulder and made a mewling sound like a miserable kitten. “To hell with it,” he grumbled, thinking that she was pissed enough anyway, and gave in to his urge to put his arm around her. Maybe it was his imagination, or wishful thinking, but she seemed to relax when he did so. His grip tightened securely.
“Sir, would you care for something to drink?”
Mulder looked up slowly from his intent study of Scully’s face. He stared blankly at the perky, too-alert flight attendant, and for a moment he had no idea what she’d said. “Oh. Oh, yeah. Drink. I’ll have, uh, a ginger ale.”
“And your wife?”
These were the first words Scully heard clearly as she was roused from her sleep. Her lips quirked slightly. He would order for her; he knew her so well. And her husband’s arm felt so secure and warm around her shoulders.
His voice rumbled pleasantly in her ear, and at first she didn’t attempt to decipher the words.
Right. Of course. Her heart twisted painfully with bitterness and her fair share of shame. That’s who she was. Scully. Dana Katherine Scully, M.D. And the man sitting next to her was her partner and nothing more.
Scully was ashamed of herself. For a moment she’d actually believed she was Stephanie Jacobi. Worse yet, she now envied the fictional character the bureau had created.
“I got you a water.”
She lifted her head and moved away quickly, looking up to find Mulder holding up the little plastic bottle and looking ridiculously proud of himself for attempting to please her.
That look – that maddening, endearing, arrogant, supplicating little boy look and all it stood for – was too much for her. And the staid, put-together, unemotional Special Agent Dana Scully, Doc Ice herself, unceremoniously burst into tears.
When the “fasten seatbelts” sign blinked on again in preparation for landing, Scully emerged from the lavatory, fresh-faced and dry-eyed. As she rejoined him, Mulder shot her a questioning glance.
“I’m fine. Just a long, stressful night.”
At the airport, Mulder insisted on giving Scully a ride home, but she was adamant. She’d take a cab. Mulder left her with the words, “Get some rest.”
Scully said that she would, but on the way to Georgetown, her thoughts turned even blacker.
Mulder knew her too well. He knew her mind as well as she; sometimes she worried that he knew her heart better. If so, he must know how she loved him. Again, she feared that, in his eyes, she was the lonely, desperate spinster. What if what she’d thought was an expression of mutual desire was actually pity?
Oh, Jesus. She couldn’t take that.
The more she thought about it, the more certain she became.
When Scully got home, she immediately picked up the phone and dialed Skinner’s number. She requested the week off, and he agreed readily.
“Oh, and, excellent work, Agent Scully,” he added. “Pass that along to Agent Mulder, along with the week off.”
Scully hung up and sighed. That meant she’d have to call Mulder.
She wasn’t a coward and never had been. No, Scully was anything but.
Except, maybe, where Mulder was concerned.
Next Monday, Special Agent Dana Scully would walk into Mulder’s basement office and face im as calmly as she had for seven years. She could pretend what had happened between Mulder and herself meant as little to her as it did to him. It would mean as little.
But during this week, she wanted to hibernate. She wanted to forget Fox Mulder existed. She didn’t want to see him, talk to him, or think about him. She wanted to read Hemingway and Elizabeth Peters and eat Dutch chocolate ice cream and maybe have lunch with her mother.
Resigned, she picked up the phone and punched one on the speed dial.
When Mulder got home from the grocery store with the bare minimum food staples – beer, soda, frozen pizza, peanut butter, eggs – the red light on his answering machine was blinking. He set the groceries down and jabbed the play button.
“Mulder, it’s me. I talked to Skinner and he gave us the week off.
See you next Monday.”
He smiled at the familiar greeting, but his smile faded at the end of the message. That “see you next Monday” had the ring of finality. As in, “Leave me the hell alone.”
With a Scullyless week stretching before him, Mulder flopped down on the sofa and morosely plopped the top off a lukewarm beer. He was worried. Scully had been acting so strangely the last few days – since the night they’d made love – and she seemed so unhappy. Mulder could think of only one reason: regret. He tried to remember if he’d pressured her in any way; he really didn’t think he had.
Mulder remembered the sensation of Scully’s body beneath his, writhing frantically. The taste, the texture of her skin – Despite his best efforts, he felt himself harden.
It wasn’t the way he’d wanted their first time to be. The sex was mind-blowing, better than he’d imagined. But it felt – incomplete. And he knew why. He hadn’t gotten to hold her as she woke up, to make love to her again, to show her how slow and gentle and very tender he could be. He wanted to worship her, to show her all she meant to him.
And Mulder was afraid he would never get the chance, now.
Scully’s answering machine got quite a workout in the next week.
Monday: “Hey, Scully. Just thought I’d see what you’re doing. Gimme a call if you want to.”
Tuesday: “Hey. It’s me. I wanted to make sure you’re okay. Call me.”
Wednesday: “Scully? Are you there?…Uh, okay. Call me, okay? Please?”
Thursday morning: “If you’re there, pick up, Scully. Did you go out of town? Scully? Let me know if you’re okay. ‘Bye.”
Thursday evening: “Scully, I just called your mom’s. She said she doesn’t know where you are. I’m worried about you. Are you sick? Do you need anything? Are you angry at me? I don’t know. I’m sorry, Scully, if I did-“
His time ran out and the tape cut off.
Five minutes later: “Scully? Look, I need to know that you’re all right. If you’re there, pick up. Scully – Dana – please.”
Scully closed her eyes, bit her lip, and lifted the receiver.
Mulder broke off. “Scully?”
“Are you okay?”
“Do you need anything?”
“No, Mulder. Of course not.”
“Did you get my messages?”
“You didn’t call.”
“Why didn’t you call, Scully?”
“I – I just didn’t want to talk, Mulder.”
“I think we need to.”
“No, you’re not.”
On the other end of the line Scully let out a long, shaky breath and sniffed back tears.
“I know you’re not. I’m coming over there, Scully. It’ll take me about twenty minutes, OK?”
What more was there to say? She’d made it clear that she didn’t want him to come over and he was coming anyway.
“Okay?” he repeated.
“Yeah,” she sighed. “OK.”
After Mulder hung up, Scully walked around the apartment.
Straightening up a bit, smoothing her hair, checking her makeup, changing from plaid flannel pants and a T-shirt into a green cotton pullover and tailored black slacks.
The phone rang and she picked up. Maybe Mulder wasn’t coming after all.
“Dana, it’s Mom.”
“Oh. Hi, Mom.”
“Fox called a little while ago and said he was having trouble getting in touch with you. Is everything all right, dear?”
“Did he reach you?”
“Yeah, he did.” A knock sounded. “Uh, I really can’t talk now, Mom.
I’ll call you later. Love you. ‘Bye.”
Scully skittered over and opened the door. Mulder was wearing jeans and a gray crew-neck shirt, and he held a pizza box. “Hey. I brought dinner.”
He stepped inside and she shut the door behind him. They stared at each other for a moment, then Scully asked, “What’s up?”
“Nothing. I was worried about you. And I missed you.”
He missed me. “I’m fine, Mulder. Honestly.”
“Me either…You look pretty, Scully.”
“Thanks.” She was afraid she was blushing. “What is it we need to talk about?”
“Scully…” Her nearness was overwhelming his senses. She smelled so good, and he knew she tasted even better. He wrapped his arms around her from behind and buried his face in her hair and neck. “I missed you,” he said, nuzzling her. “Did you miss me?”
“I-” She arched her neck for his questing lips, then turned in his arms, wrapping her arms around his neck. “Yes,” she sighed.
He tipped her chin back with his crooked forefinger, and she lifted her face hungrily for his kiss. Mulder didn’t disappoint her, their lips first brushing, then their open mouths and tongues melding together in a series of kisses of rapidly increasing desire. His fingers slid through her hair and his thumb caressed her cheek, then he hoisted her into his arms and headed for her bedroom.
He put her down gently on the bed and stretched out beside her, turning her face to his for another kiss.
She twisted her body and turned her face away. “No.” Scully sat up.
“No, Mulder. I can’t do this.”
“Do what? Make love?”
“Have sex. I can’t just have sex with you, Mulder.”
“Scully.” He sat up next to her. “Don’t you think it’s a little late, sweetheart? We already have.”
She shook her head, then dropped it into her hands. Her “no” was muffled, and he could see tears trickling down her cheeks.
“I don’t understand.” He gripped her shoulders and she looked up at him.
“I’ll explain. The sex was great, Mulder. Phenomenal.”
“Than what’s the problem?”
“It’s got to be more than that. I can’t help it. I’m 36 years old. I don’t just want sex. Not even phenomenal sex. Not even with you, Mulder.” Her eyes turned soulful, almost pleading. “You understand that, don’t you?”
“What do you want?” He reached over and laced his fingers through hers.
“I want it all.” She laughed bitterly, dashing away her tears. “I want a relationship. I want love and sex and commitment and laughter and tears. I want someone to love me when I have PMS and no makeup.
Someone to watch bad British romances and endure the Scully family Christmas.”
She risked a look at Mulder. His countenance was so sad that she felt like the bad guy.
“But you don’t want that with me,” he said quietly.
“You think making love was a mistake.”
Scully sighed, her eyes filling with fresh tears. “Yes. Under the circumstances, it was a mistake.”
“I thought – I thought that night was something it wasn’t, Mulder. I expected things to be different…after. More personal. Some acknowledgement that our relationship had changed.”
“Scully…” With his free hand, Mulder moved a strand of hair off her cheek. “Everything about us is personal.”
She shook her head.
“Scully, what did you think it was about? Tell me.”
Silence stretched out between them until she exploded, “I thought it was about love, OK? I thought it was about us loving each other.”
“We do love each other.” He gripped her hand more tightly. “Scully, I’ve loved you covered in exploding shit and extraterrestrial ooze, and you don’t think I can cope with PMS?”
She laughed, really crying now. “So that night-“
“Love, Scully. Love between a man and a woman who belong together.
That was love. This is love. This is us.”
“I was afraid it was pity…”
“Jesus, Scully, who am I to pity you? I’m almost 40 years old. I’m a joke among my colleagues. I have an obscenely high triple X bill, and I don’t even own a bed.”
“I love you.”
“I love you too, Scully.” She pressed her face against his throat and he stroked her hair. “Let me show you how much. Let me show you how good it can be.”
Scully met his eyes and smiled. “Show me, Mulder.”
And he did.
Six weeks later, Mulder and Scully lay curled up on his newly acquired bed, watching the sun set.
“I forgot to tell you,” Scully said, “I got a letter from Rachel today.” She’d meant to tell him right after work, but the thought had slipped her mind. The fact that Mulder was going down on her at the time might have had something to do with it.
“How is she?”
“Good. She moved home with her mom in Georgia, where she’s working retail and taking some college courses.” Scully smiled. “When I saw her in the hospital, she said she knew we were in love.”
“Smart woman.” He turned Scully in his arms and kissed her thoroughly.
“Now she’s saying she wants a wedding invitation.”
There was no wedding planned, but maybe a housewarming. Mulder and Scully had been talking about moving in together, and they’d seen a cute little brick townhouse not too far from Scully’s place…
“Dana?” It still sounded funny coming from him, but nice. He didn’t use her first name often.
“I love you.”
“I love you too.”
“I got my bills today.”
She looked at him blankly, then grinned. “Triple X?”
“And,” he continued as if she hadn’t spoken, “I love the way we’ve cut my cable bill in half.”
She laughed. “So do I, Mulder.”
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