Hearts Series by Anne Haynes

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Hearts Series by Anne Haynes

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Table of Contents

Riddle Incomplete by Anne Haynes

Be Still My Heart by Anne Haynes

Time Like A Heartbeat by Anne Haynes

Heart of Midnight by Anne Haynes

Riddle Incomplete by Anne Haynes

“Riddle Incomplete” – post “Paper Hearts” DISCLAIMER: These characters belong to Chris Carter, Ten- Thirteen Productions and the Fox Network. I mean no infringement.

This is a SONNET story, post-“Paper Hearts,” and contains all kinds of spoilers.

Rated PG-13 for adult language and situations.

Summary: V, A, MSR

NOTE: “Riddle Incomplete” can also be found in the Sonnet Stories

SONNET: “Riddle Incomplete” by Anne Haynes

Every piece that forms the hidden whole
Lies scattered in the ether of remembrance,
And every passing moment takes a toll,
And even truth is subject to dissemblance.
Is this the piece that fits? Is this the key
To all the ancient mysteries concealed?
Is this the secret ever kept from me?
Is this the sin not meant to be revealed?
On hands and knees, I crawl across the past,
Tipping rocks to see what lies behind,
Under chairs, in closets, ‘til, at last, I cannot tell you what I hoped to find.
Yet I endure, though trapped within the middle,
Where incomplete before me lies the riddle.

– Paula Graves


Fox Mulder’s Office
8:17 p.m.

The office door closed behind her, and he stared at the broad, flat surface that separated her from him. His face tingled pleasantly, warm where he’d laid his cheek against her stomach and felt the soft rise and fall of her breathing. Her faint, fresh scent lingered on his skin. Fox Mulder smiled, bemused at the way she always knew how to reach him when he felt unreachable.

How had he managed to survive all those years without her by his side? These days, he couldn’t seem to keep it together for two hours without her.

He’d screwed up. Badly. Skinner was talking censure, probably suspension—and he deserved it. He’d made all the wrong moves on this case because he’d let his need to know the truth about Samantha eclipse his duty to the Bureau, to the people he was expected to protect—

—to Scully.

Skinner hadn’t even waited for them to get back to D.C. before he started reaming them. Both of them. Mulder had taken his punishment willingly, knowing nothing that Skinner could do to him would be sufficient to cover his sins. But Scully didn’t deserve Skinner’s wrath or censure. Though she’d taken it with her usual stoicism, Mulder had seen the humiliation and pain behind the porcelain mask.

His fault, he thought. Always his fault.

God love her, she never blamed him. Sometimes he wished she would. He wished she would kick and scream, throw a fit, make him hurt, make him bleed, make him pay for the pain he’d brought into her life.

And sometimes, he was terrified she would make him pay in the most final, devastating way possible—by simply giving up and walking out of his life for good.

It would be in her own best interests. But it would kill him. A final, fatal blow to a wounded man.

God, he hurt. Hurt bone deep. Samantha was and always had been a wound unhealed, scabbed over by time but still festering beneath the surface. One well-placed blow and he was bleeding all over again.

He fingered the small, plastic-encased flannel heart on his desk. One more little girl lost. One more family who would never know the truth. One more brother wondering, waiting, hoping to find the truth about what happened to his sister twenty-three years ago.

He should feel SOMETHING after killing a man at point blank range. Some sense of horror, some remorse that things had ended that way. But he felt nothing but a vague regret that he hadn’t found Roche twenty-three years ago and blown his brains out before he ever touched the first little girl.

Does that make me as much a monster as Roche? he wondered.

He honestly didn’t know.

He sighed deeply and picked up the final heart. Gently, reverently, he placed it in his drawer and pushed the drawer shut, hiding the small, heart-shaped scrap of flannel from view. He turned back toward the door that Scully had closed behind her and stared at the grain patterns in the wood, wondering if he ever dared close his eyes and sleep again.


A.D. Skinner’s Office 8:37 p.m.

“I’m not going to put anything in your personnel file, Agent Scully.” Walter Skinner closed the folder in front of him, steepling his hands over the file. His expression was stern, tight with anger. “I can’t do the same for Mulder.”

Dana Scully nodded, her stomach sinking. “Yes, sir. I know.”

“He put too many people at risk this time. His judgment in cases such as these is non-existent.” Skinner sighed, looked down at his hand. “I am not unaware that Agent Mulder has talents and abilities the Bureau needs. Between you and me, Scully, if he were any other agent in the Bureau, he’d have lost his job long before now.”

Scully swallowed hard. A nervous energy filled her, kept her on the edge of her chair. She didn’t like to think of what might happen to Mulder if he didn’t have his work.

She didn’t like to think of being an agent without Mulder by her side.

“He needs to take time off anyway.” Skinner pushed the folder to the side of his desk as if dismissing the whole thing. “I’m issuing a censure and enforcing two weeks’ suspension from duty, starting immediately.”

“Sir, perhaps just a censure—”

“The suspension stands, Agent Scully.”

She pressed her lips tightly together, fighting anger. Anger at Skinner, certainly, but anger at herself, as well. Anger at Mulder. Anger at a world so cruel as to give birth to monsters like John Lee Roche, whose primary joy in life was the rape and murder of innocents.

“When are you going to tell him?” she asked.


She stood. “May I be the one to tell him, sir?”

He looked up at her, his expression enigmatic. She thought she saw a hint of admiration—and a hint of irritation. But finally, he nodded his assent. He turned away from her in dismissal.

She left the office, walking slowly toward the elevator. Mulder couldn’t be surprised by this—as Skinner had said, he was lucky to still have his job. But though she’d asked to do it, she didn’t look forward to delivering the bad news to Mulder. He’d already been emotionally pummeled enough over the past few days.

She was surprised to find the office door locked when she got down to the basement. She unlocked the door and went inside. “Mulder?”

Silence greeted her.

She frowned, looking around the office. His coat was gone— he must have left soon after she left him. From the phone on his desk she dialled his cellphone and was informed that he was unavailable. She tried his home phone and got the machine. She didn’t leave a message—he probably hadn’t had time to get home yet, and this wasn’t the kind of news she could deliver over an answering machine, anyway.

She gathered up her coat and purse and headed home. She’d try him again later.


Fox Mulder’s apartment 9:42 p.m.

“Mulder, it’s me.” The answering machine had picked up after four rings, and Scully’s warm, familiar voice filled the apartment. Mulder looked toward the phone from his spot on the sofa, picturing her as she spoke. Blue eyes full of concern, that little frown she got between her eyebrows when she was worried about him.

“If you’re there, Mulder, please pick up.”

He considered it. But his body seemed heavy, unwilling to move.

“Okay, well—call me as soon as you get home. Don’t worry if it’s late—call me anyway. Um—call my cell phone—I’ll leave it on.”

Even if it’s three in the morning, Scully?

“Even if it’s three in the morning, Mulder, call me.”

He smiled. The effort made his face feel as if it were going to crack.

She hung up the phone and the answering machine fell silent. The whole apartment fell silent, except for the soft burbling of the aerator in the fish tank and the faint sound of his own breathing. He felt as if he were waiting for something to happen. Something momentous.

Then realization struck like a blow to the gut.

He was waiting for Scully to show up.

It was why he’d turned off his cell phone. It was why he hadn’t answered the phone just now. It was why he ditched her and walked away from her and kept things from her time after time after time.

It was a test.

Will she follow?

Will she cross the line?

Will she save me?

God, he was pathetic.

Over the past few days, John Lee Roche had made him jump through hoops to get to the truth. If you sink this shot, I’ll tell you. If you bring me the hearts, I’ll tell you. If you’ll pick the right one, I’ll tell you. If you take me with you, I’ll walk you through it….

Was that any different from what he did to Scully?

Almost four years ago, the Bureau had sent a spy to his basement office. A fresh-faced, by-the-book little Nancy Drew who was supposed to take notes, keep track of Spooky Mulder’s lunacy, gather the evidence necessary to put an end to his work on the X-Files for good.

He’d thought to run her off on that very first case in Oregon. He’d held back nothing—not his unconventional theories, not his acidic humor, not his penchance for keeping everyone around him off balance. He’d invaded her space, gotten in her face, gotten in her head. He’d profiled her and dismissed her as a J. Edgar Hoover wannabe with delusions of duty, honor and loyalty to the Bureau. He thought she’d waste no time begging for a transfer when they got back to D.C.

Then she’d walked into his motel room, wet and scared, and asked him for help. She’d displayed an unexpected and overwhelming sense of trust in him. By the time she dropped the robe and revealed herself to him, naked and fragile, trusting him to help and not hurt her, he’d been lost. Utterly lost.

No one had ever trusted him that way. Not since he’d let his sister be taken. That this woman—this stranger, this spy—would trust him to treat her with dignity in her time of utter vulnerability had hit him like a sledgehammer. And in return, he had honored her in the most intimate, personal way he knew.

He’d told her about Samantha.

And she’d listened. Sympathized. He could tell even as he spoke that she had doubts, but she hadn’t voiced them then. She had treated him with respect and compassion—something he’d never expected or even felt that he deserved.

He would crawl naked through glass for Scully. Cut off his arm for her.

Die for her.

And yet, he seemed to have a pathological need to make her prove herself to him over and over again. How far will you come with me, Scully? How deep into hell? How much will it take before you don’t love me enough to do it anymore?

It wasn’t fair to her. It wasn’t right.

He had let the phone ring tonight because he knew her. He knew she couldn’t sit there in her apartment waiting for him to call. He knew that even now, she was probably in her car, on her way over. In a few minutes, he would hear a knock on his door. If he sat quietly and didn’t answer that knock, he would hear the sound of her key in the door. She would come in and look at him, angry and scared at the same time, and then she would put all that aside and come to him anyway, because that was how much she cared.

That was the kind of woman she was, and God knows, he didn’t deserve her. And she sure as hell didn’t deserve what he dished out to her on a daily basis.

He shook off his lethargy and went to the phone. He tried her home number in case she hadn’t left, but all he got was the answering machine. He sighed and dialled her cell phone number.

She answered on the first ring. “Mulder?”

“How far away are you, Scully?”

She hesitated for a second. When she spoke, her voice held equal parts amusement and resignation. “About five minutes.”

He sighed, loving her and hating himself. “I’ll leave a light on for you.” Hanging up the phone, he settled back on his couch to wait for her.


Fox Mulder’s Apartment Building 10:02 p.m.

She should have turned her car around and gone home the second she heard his voice on the cell phone. He was fine. He wasn’t on the verge of doing anything reckless. And she was tired. Feeling a bit reckless herself. Not a good way to feel when she was around Fox Mulder.

They asked so much of themselves. Denying natural instincts because they were married to their work, to the quest that had been his and was now hers. Deeply, intimately hers—did Mulder recognize that? she wondered. Did he know that she’d felt what he had felt through this whole thing? She loved Samantha because Mulder loved Samantha. And Scully loved Mulder. What hurt him, hurt her.

But they never said those things to each other.

She’d always thought that was for the best. But tonight, with her heart raw and her nerves on edge, she was beginning to wonder how much longer they could stay silent on the subject. How much longer could they ignore the elephant in the living room before it went on a rampage?

He opened the door quickly after her first knock. He’d changed out of his suit into a dark green t-shirt and faded jeans. He was barefoot and his hair was an unruly mess. Scully felt every atom of her body move toward him.

He drew her inside with his hand on his shoulder. The touch of his fingers burned her skin even through her coat. She fought a shudder of awareness as she allowed him to help her out of her coat.

His gaze swept over her, as if he were imprinting the image of her in his mind. Despite the thick navy cableknit sweater and black wool leggings, she felt naked. As naked and exposed to him as she had been on that first case in Oregon. Waiting for his touch, praying she was right to trust him. Praying that he wouldn’t betray her.

His eyes finally flickered up to meet hers. “I’m sorry, Scully.”

She wasn’t sure what he was apologizing for. She searched his face for a moment before she remembered why she had been trying to find him in the first place. “Mulder, Skinner called me into his office after I last talked to you.”

His expression changed slightly, a subtle darkening of his eyes and a touch of apprehension furrowing his brow. “What happened?”

“Mulder, Skinner’s issuing a censure and placing you on two weeks’ suspension without pay. Effective immediately.”

He nodded as if he were expecting her words. “I’m glad I still have a job, frankly.”

“You could use the time off, Mulder. This case was really hard on you. Maybe you should go spend a week with your mom, or—”

He shook his head quickly. “No. I can’t—I can’t go be with her after—not right now.”

She felt a little of her tension seeping away. “Well, maybe you could just get away, try to catch up on some sleep, maybe—I don’t know—go camping?”

A faint smile flitted over his lips. “A nice trip to the forest?”

She arched one eyebrow. “Don’t forget the bug repellant.”

His smile broadened a bit, warming her insides. “I’ll figure out something to do with myself, Scully. Don’t worry about me.”

“But I do worry.” She sighed. “You know that what you did was wrong and foolhardy, don’t you, Mulder?”

He nodded again, moving away from her to take a seat on his sofa. He looked up at her as she approached. “At the time I thought it was my only option, Scully. I thought I could handle it—make it work.” He shook his head and looked down at his hands. His mouth worked silently, as if trying to form unfamiliar words. When he spoke, his voice was hoarse. “But when I saw Roche with Caitlin….” A shudder went through him. “God, Scully, what did I do?”

She shouldn’t comfort him. She shouldn’t try to make him feel better. He was right—he’d screwed up and a little girl had almost died because of it. She closed her eyes, reliving that moment in the abandoned trolley car when she’d seen Roche and Mulder in a stand off at the back of the car.

Roche’s words had been soft but distinct in the silence of the trolley graveyard. Roche had Mulder’s gun pointed at Caitlin. He was threatening to shoot her, and Scully had known with sickening certainty that he wasn’t bluffing. He might even shoot her just to see Mulder’s face when it happened. He knew that he’d be dead a second later, but for Roche, that one second of watching Mulder’s soul being ripped asunder would be worth an eternity in hell.

Scully had found that she couldn’t breathe. She kept waiting for the sound of gunfire, waiting for Caitlin to fall, for Roche to fall….

…for Mulder to put the muzzle of his own gun to his head and pull the trigger.

If Mulder had fired at Roche one second too late, that’s what would have happened. Scully knew it deep in her gut where nightmares lived.

What would she have done if that had happened? If she had witnessed the end of his life at his own hand?

How tempting would it be to find a similar solace? The imagined scenario had remained with her, haunting her for an answer. If she watched Mulder kill himself, could she live with that image imprinted on her brain for the rest of her life?

She shuddered.

Mulder looked up at her at that moment, his eyes glowing gold in the dim light of the living room lamp. He reached out his hand in concern at the sight of her distress. “Scully?”

She should go now. She’d told him what she’d come here to say, and staying any longer would be reckless. Because she had needed to be strong for Mulder through this last ordeal, she’d denied herself the chance to break down and deal with her own fears and losses. She was too close to the snapping point of her control to stay now.

He stood and closed the distance that separated them, touching her again, his hand nestling in the curve of her neck and shoulder. “You okay?”

She swayed slightly, mortified by her sudden shivering weakness. “I’m fine, Mulder.”

He chuckled softly. “Of course you are.” He moved closer, lifting his other hand to her shoulder. His thumbs brushed across the ridges of her collarbone.

Don’t, she thought. Please don’t….

His face darkened slightly, his right thumb moving reflexively over her left collarbone. A chill rippled through her as she realized what he was thinking about. The image of a tiny skeleton on an autopsy tray filled her mind. So fragile. Fragile as hope.

All thought of leaving him fled. Driven by an impulse stronger than reason, she threw her arms around his waist and pressed her face against his throat, burrowing in the silky warmth she found there. His arms enfolded her, crushed her, as if he could bring her into himself somehow, merge her flesh with his so that nothing could ever separate them again.

His hand tangled in her hair, tipping her head back. Blindly, she rose to meet him as his mouth descended, hard and hot and hungry. Need swelled in her like a flame kissed by a breath of wind, driving her beyond her last shred of control. They had kissed before—soft, tender kisses just this side of chaste. But never like this. This was thunder and fury. Fire and electricity. She burned. She shivered. She disintegrated.

She jerked at his shirt, tugging, needing to feel him, flesh on flesh. She twisted in his grasp, helping him find his way beneath her sweater to press his fingers into the soft flesh of her back. His mouth moved over her skin, his beard stubble rasping harshly against her cheeks and jaw. She felt everything—pain, pleasure, heat, cold, roughness, softness—all blending, melding, soaring—

When he drew away from her, she nearly collapsed. She blinked at him, disoriented and aching with frustration.

Then she heard the rap on the door.

Mulder met her eyes for a moment that seemed to stretch into eternity, his gaze a swirling kaleidoscope of passion, regret, fear and love. He straightened his shirt and brushed his thumb across his mouth to wipe away the apricot- colored evidence of her kiss before slowly crossing the foyer to the door.

“Mulder?” Skinner’s voice was on the other side of the door.

Scully’s heart skipped a beat. She quickly ran her fingers through her tousled hair and straightened her sweater, patting it down with trembling fingers. Schooling her expression to a cool, composed mask, she nodded toward Mulder, who was waiting for her assent.

He opened the door to let Skinner in.

Skinner stopped when he caught sight of her. His eyes narrowed slightly. “I guess Agent Scully told you about the censure and the suspension.”

“Yes, sir.” Mulder nodded.

“I am not unaware of the special circumstances of this case, Agent Mulder, but—”

“But what I did was incredibly wrong-headed and reckless. I endangered the life of a child.” Mulder lifted his chin and met Skinner’s glare unflinchingly. His jaw was tight with suppressed shame and a fierce nobility that made Scully’s stomach ache with love and admiration. “I deserve far worse punishment, sir. I’m just grateful for the opportunity to prove myself again to you and Agent Scully.”

Skinner looked past Mulder toward Scully. His dark eyes flitted over her quickly, assessingly. She couldn’t read his dark expression. But there was no missing a hint of irritation in his voice when he next spoke. “Agent Scully, I’ll see you tomorrow morning. Agent Mulder—take some time and get your head together before stepping foot in my office again. Understood?”


With a brief nod and another enigmatic glare, Skinner turned and left, closing the door behind him.

For a moment, neither Mulder nor Scully moved. Silence enveloped them.

Then Mulder turned to look at her. His eyes widened, then closed, his expression both resigned and pained. “Damn.”

She didn’t know how to respond to that. Was he sorry Skinner interrupted? Was he sorry they had taken things so far that an interruption was necessary?

“No wonder he looked so pissed off, Scully.”

She shook her head, not following.

Mulder crossed to her and took her elbow, drawing her along with him down the hallway. He pulled her into the bathroom and turned her toward the mirror.

She stared at her reflection. Her heart sank.

Her face was flushed bright pink from the harsh rasping of his beard stubble, her bare lips swollen and dark from his kiss. Her eyes were heavy-lidded and drunk with passion.

No way in hell Skinner didn’t know what had been going on when he knocked.

“Damn,” she murmured.

“We should probably have a long, honest talk about all this, Scully, but I don’t think I’m up to it tonight.” He met her reflected gaze in the mirror. “I want you to stay. But I think you should probably go.”

She closed her eyes, not sure if she felt more disappointed or relieved. He was right. Staying would be reckless. And he didn’t have the strength to resist her if she chose to throw all caution to the wind. So once again, she was left to bear the brunt of the burden. Strength or weakness, Scully? Which will it be?


It took her most of the drive home to convince herself that she’d made the right decision—for now.

But a day of reckoning was coming.


Something had to give.

The End


Be Still My Heart by Anne Haynes

DISCLAIMER: These characters belong to Chris Carter, Ten- Thirteen Productions and the Fox Network. I mean no infringement.

This story is an alternate universe continuation of my SONNET story: “Riddle Incomplete.” This story does NOT belong in that universe, nor does it track with my 12 Rites/12 Degrees universe. This is a whole ‘nother universe. It would, however, help if you read “Riddle Incomplete” first, just so you’ll know where we are as we begin this story.

Clear now? Let’s play….

Rated NC-17 for sexual situations. V, A, MSR

“Be Still My Heart” by Anne Haynes


if we love each(shyly) other,what clouds do or Silently Flowers resembles beauty less than our breathing

– e.e. cummings


Part I: If We Love

Dana Scully’s apartment 11:14 p.m.

She should have stayed.

Pure and simple.

She should have stayed. Reached out her arms to him and pulled him to her, giving him the comfort and strength and love he needed from her. That she needed from him.

Damn Skinner. Damn the Bureau. Damn the Consortium. There were a million reasons she and Mulder should never cross the line between friends and lovers. And only one reason why they should.

But it eclipsed all others.

She loved him and he loved her. So pure. So simple.

And yet, she had left.

She shouldn’t have left.

Scully pushed herself up from the couch and paced toward the door and back. Yes, he had told her to leave. But those were just words. She’d seen his eyes, the plea in them.

Don’t listen to my voice, Scully.

Listen to my heart.

She stopped at her front door, pressing her forehead against the cool wood. Why had she left? Why had she turned her back on his silent plea?

Because she was trying to be the strong one?

What was so strong about running from the truth?

Running from her heart?

Running from his?

Something hit the door beneath her forehead. Three hard raps, making her jump. Her heart jackhammered in her breast as she rose to her tiptoes to look through the fish-eye lens.


Her heart rate tripled.

She unlatched the door and opened it, staring up at him, her breath rasping through parted lips. He stared back, eyes wild and dark.

“I shouldn’t have told you to go.” His voice was thick and hoarse. “I shouldn’t have—”

She reached for him. He reached back, his arms like thick vines, growing around her, curling and grafting until she wasn’t sure where he began and she ended. She had thought to lend him her strength but now found herself the one who was undergirded. Bodies close, limbs entwined, they moved out of the doorway. Mulder withdrew one arm from her long enough to shut the door behind them. He slumped back against the wooden surface, taking her weight against him.

“I’m sorry I left,” she murmured, lifting her mouth to his throat. She flicked her tongue against the hot silk of him, tasting him. Salt and sweet. “I should never have left….”

He tangled his fingers in her hair, drawing her head back, making her look up at him. “Doesn’t matter—” His words stopped on a kiss. Fierce, desperate. His tongue brushed against hers, stroked, glided. Ran over her teeth. Darted against the inner recesses of her mouth. He tasted like sunflower seeds and sweet tea and the dark, rich unmistakable essence of Mulder. She felt her insides soften, spread in hot, liquid waves. She felt heavy, tight, shivery.

She reached beneath his heavy leather jacket and pushed it away from him, sliding it off his shoulders. He shifted, shrugged, and it fell to their feet. He still wore the forest green t-shirt that she’d tugged from his faded jeans less than an hour ago. She repeated the effort, pressing her hands against his flesh, running her fingers over the heat and the soft and the hard of him. She traced the contours of his ribs and abdomen, fingers whispering across the crisp hair of his chest and stomach. She traced the path downward, smiling at his indrawn breath when her fingers slipped just beneath the waistband of his jeans.

He went still. Trembled.

She withdrew her hand and looked up at him, surprised.

His eyes were dark and wild. “Are you sure?”

She stared at him for a second in sheer wonder. Then, knowing it was probably the worst possible thing she could do—but utterly unable to stop herself—she started to laugh. Loud, hitching, gasping laughter like she hadn’t uttered in years. Not since a rainy graveyard in Oregon when for one crazy moment, Fox Mulder’s wild theory had seemed like the most reasonable thing in the world.

He stared back at her, his expression befuddled. He shook his head slightly, only making her laugh harder.

Oh, God, she thought, this is the WRONG thing to do.

But she couldn’t help it. It was like a dam inside her had finally burst and everything had to come out all at once or—

He moved like a cat, swift and silent. Grabbed the back of her neck and pulled her to him. Silenced her laughter with his mouth. Drew her breath into him.

Laughter left.

Suddenly, she realized she was the weak one. The needy one. She needed him on her, around her, inside her–not just inside her body but inside her skin, inside her head.

Inside her heart.

He tugged at her sweater, pushing it up her body. She lifted her arms and wriggled her way out of the scratchy woolen garment. She felt hot. Confined.

She wanted nothing on her skin but his skin.

He lifted his hand to her breast, brushing his palm lightly over the soft cotton lace of her bra. The fabric shifted, rubbed against her tight nipple. She expelled a soft hiss of breath at the electric sensation.

He looked up at her, his gaze intense, as if studying her to see what she liked. What pleased her. His eyes never moved away from hers as he lifted his other hand and repeated the slow, stroking motion on her other breast. She drew her breath, hissed it out again.

He drew slow, exquisite circles with his palms, barely touching her. She arched toward him, needing more.

His eyes darkened. He dipped his fingers into the cleft between her breasts, pressing lightly against the curved flesh. He found the front clasps of her bra and unhooked them, pushing aside the lacy cups and closing his hands gently over her breasts. He traced her, pressing lightly. Closed his fingers over the tightened tips, squeezing gently, eliciting her soft gasp.

She reached for him, needing to return touch for touch. She gathered his shirt between trembling fingers, pushing it up. Past his belly, past his ribcage. She mimicked his earlier movements, flattening her palms against his male nipples, circling lightly before she pushed his shirt further. A low groan escaped his throat, sending fire coursing through her.

He had to release her breasts to lift his arms, and she felt bereft without his touch. Cool air flowed over her heated skin, the coldness of deprivation. She quickly dispatched his shirt, tossing it behind them. His low grumble of need turned into a rumble of laughter. “I hope you’re not going to yell at me about tossing my clothes all over the place….”

“Shut up and kiss me,” she growled, tugging him closer by the waistband of his pants. She unbuttoned the top button and lowered her hand to the zipper.

It wouldn’t budge.

She tugged harder.


She made a low, keening sound. “Damn it!” She jerked at the zipper.

“Ow, Scully!” He covered her hand with his own, stilling her desperate movements. She looked up at him, flushed with a strange mixture of embarrassment and need. Beneath her fingers, beneath the denim and the boxers, she felt the heat of him. The hardness. She felt what she did to him.

Power surged in her.

She slipped her hand from beneath his and cupped him. Felt the thickness, the weight of him. She flattened her hand against him, stroking through the denim, molding her fingers and palms to the shape of him. He shuddered and tugged at the zipper himself. A soft swish of metal on metal announced his success, and she sucked her bottom lip between her teeth.

He caught her hand and drew it inside his jeans. His boxers were dark blue silk. The soft fabric was fiery hot; she curled her fingers in the fabric, felt him through it. Stroked him. Traced the length and the breadth of him, her eyes never once leaving Mulder’s face.

His breath had shallowed to soft, whistling pants. His eyes were chips of onyx rimmed by the faintest circle of silver-green. She closed her hand over him, squeezing gently, and smiled at the pleasure-pain that washed over his beautiful face.

She released him, and he sagged against the door, staring at her, breathing through parted lips.

She slipped off her black leggings, dispensing with her underwear in the same swift movement. When Mulder didn’t move to rid himself of his own remaining garments, she made a little grumbling sound. “For God’s sake, Mulder, work with me….”

A soft, weak chuckle escaped his throat. He pushed his jeans and boxers down over his hips, wincing as the fabric scraped over his erection. He kicked the garments away.

She took a step closer and reached out, curling her fingers around him. The strange thing was, she had seen him naked before. But then, he’d been dying, and she’d been working on nothing but adrenaline and love, willing him to come back to her. A naked and aroused Mulder was a completely different proposition.

A very welcome proposition.

He bent and touched his lips to hers, a light, almost chaste caress–as if she wasn’t holding his throbbing erection in her palm. She was amazed and aroused.

“You’re so beautiful,” he whispered. They were words she had heard before, in the throes of passion and the aftermath of release, but she’d never heard them from Mulder. And she had never felt the truth of the words until now.

She couldn’t draw a breath.

He ran his hands down her sides, tracing a path of shivering heat. He drew little circles over her waist and hips, running his fingertips over the ridges of her hip bones. He palmed the tiny swell of her lower abdomen, splayed his fingers out and downward. His fingertips brushed the tangle of red curls at the juncture of her thighs.

He paused again, his gaze locked with hers. She could read his thoughts, the needs and the fears.

I want this, Mulder, she thought. She stepped closer to him, hips thrusting into his palm. She drew a swift, harsh breath as his fingers pressed into her bare flesh.

I love you, she thought. I love you, I love you, I love you. The words thudded in her head in rhythm with her pounding heart. She arched her back when his probing fingers found her center. She bit her lower lip and gasped as his touch became bolder, more insistent, driving her toward madness. She moved with him in counterpoint, intensifying every shimmering sensation. She was close—too close…. She wanted to wait.

She wanted to give him what he was giving her, but she couldn’t seem to move beyond the twisting, arching movement of her hips. It was primal and shattering, and she felt weak. Wild. Greedy.

He bent his head and closed his lips over the throbbing vein in her throat. His teeth scraped lightly against her skin. Fire coursed through her blood. She had lost touch with him once he began his seduction in earnest; she reached for him now, gathering what tiny scraps were left of her wits long enough to close her fingers over him once again, to share with him a small portion of what he was doing to her. She trapped his erection between her palm and her hip and stroked him in rhythm with the fluttering of his fingers inside her.

His teeth closed over the tendon between her neck and shoulder. He nipped the flesh, then gently laved the indentations with his tongue. He murmured her name against her flesh.

Not Dana.


A name he had made intimate, a verbal caress.

He said it again. “Scully.”

Soft against her flesh. Soft and hot.

She felt herself hurtling toward a precipice. Hurtling wildly, out of control.

She gasped his name.

Not Fox.




He stayed with her as she soared, coaxing her to greater heights. Urged her with his fingers and his murmurs and his teeth and his tongue. She clutched his arms and rode out the sensations, gasping, groaning, shuddering.

When the last fluttering contractions ended, she felt heavy and liquid and hot. He withdrew his fingers gently from between her thighs and bent his head to kiss her, a gentle, reverent touch like a supplicant paying homage at the foot of the cross.

She felt wetness on her cheeks and wondered if those were Mulder’s tears on her skin. It wasn’t until he drew back, dry eyed and surprised, that she realized the tears were her own.


Part II: Deeper Than All Roses

(i do not know what it is about you that closes and opens;only something in me understands the voice of your eyes is deeper than all roses) nobody,not even the rain,has such small hands

– e.e. cummings


Dana Scully’s apartment 12:03 a.m.

He stared at the tears on her cheeks, the diamond-like sparkle on her eyelashes, and his heart clenched with sudden fear. Had he hurt her? Was she afraid?


Her eyes fluttered shut for a moment, her forehead creasing as if with pain. He lifted his hand to her cheek and touched the moisture, rubbed his thumb against the tears as if to wipe them—and her pain—away.

“I’m okay, Mulder.” Her voice had a raw edge to it.


She lifted her hand and caught his trembling fingers in her own. She drew his palm to her lips and kissed the center. Heat and electricity danced along his nerve endings.

She opened her eyes and graced him with a rare, gentle smile. She stepped back, drawing him with her deeper into the apartment. Wordlessly, she led him through the living room, down the short hallway into her bedroom.

A memory of this room fluttered through his mind. Her hands, strong and warm against him. Guiding. Soothing. Healing.

We have to find out who killed my father, Scully.

Cool hands on his hot face, then as now. The bed, soft and yet firm. Like Scully.

She drew him down to the bed with her, reached up with small, strong hands to pull him into the tangle of her limbs. So delicate beneath him; he couldn’t reconcile her tiny stature with the cavernous space she filled inside him.

He could snap her in two. That she reached for him, bore his weight, trusted him with her fragility—this amazed him.

His throat closed up with emotion.

She threaded her fingers in his hair and gently urged his mouth to hers. She caught his lower lip between her teeth and suckled lightly, sliding her tongue over his flesh. His pulse thundered in his ears. Her thighs shifted, parted further to cradle his hips to her own. He felt the moist heat of her against him. He thought he would burst through his skin.


Did she say the word or did he just hear her voice in his head? That voice that had spoken his name a thousand times—in fear, in anger, in exasperation, in affection—and just moments ago, in a soft moan in the hot, silken moment of release.

“Mulder…” She did speak aloud now. Soft, urgent.

He felt slow. Stuporous. Mindless.

“Mulder, in the drawer….”

It took him a couple of seconds to realize what she was saying. He went still, looking down into her murky eyes.

“The drawer,” she said again, her voice tight with need.

This is really happening, he realized with a rush of wonder.

He shifted, his body sliding over hers. In unison they both drew deep, shuddering breaths at the heat and friction.

She exhaled in his ear. “Hurry.”

He released a shaky half-chuckle and fumbled with the drawer of her night stand. It came out a strange angle and stuck.

He uttered a curse.

She twisted, joined her hand to his task. Together, they quickly got the drawer back on track. It slid easily open and Mulder withdrew an unopened box of condoms.

He fumbled with the cardboard flaps for a second before she took the box from him and opened it with a flick of her fingernail. She handed him the small foil packet, her eyes glittering in the low light from the bedside lamp.

God, he felt like a teenager all over again. Eager and scared and utterly certain he was about to make a fool of himself. Reluctantly he sat back from her, his body feeling the ache of incompleteness. She looked up at him from the bed, her lips pink and swollen from his kisses, her eyes dark and heavy-lidded. His hands trembled as he tore open the packet and withdrew the latex sheath.

She sat up and covered his shaking hands with her own. She lifted her face to his, closing one hand over the back of his neck to draw him to her. He slanted his mouth across hers and drank from her strength.

Her small, deft hands eased the condom over his erection, soothing him.

Inflaming him.

She stroked him lightly for a moment, played him like an instrument. Then she lay back, pulling him down to her, anchoring him with her arms and legs.

He sank into the heat of her. Found her core and sheathed himself within.

Hot. Tight. Clenching around him like a fist. His heart banged against his ribcage. Blood rushed behind his eyes, throbbed in his temples. He rolled his hips against hers, experimenting, testing. She thrust with him, taking him deeper into her, holding him there. She snared him with her limbs, her body, her eyes, her soul.

The rhythm of their bodies wasn’t something he set or she set—it was a partnership, like almost everything good in their lives was a partnership. Giving and taking. Weak to her strong; strong to her weak. Fitting together like two pieces of a single puzzle, stronger together than they could ever be apart.

Did she know this about them?

Did she understand?

His body tightened. Surged. Caught him by surprise. He fought against it—it was too soon. He wasn’t ready. She wasn’t ready.

“Now, Mulder,” Scully sighed in his ear. “Now….”

He buried himself in her. In all of her. In her fiery center, in her silken arms, his face pressed into the hair fanning out across her pillow, his heart hiding in the hugeness of hers, his soul enveloped by her spirit. In the shuddering midst of release, he felt himself merge with her.

Her goodness, her warmth, her pure fire infused the tiniest particles of his being. He bathed in the glow of her.

He shattered into fragments of pure light.

He dissipated into nothingness.

Slowly, so slowly, his world pieced back together. Quiet sounds—her soft, shallow breathing. His breathing, harsh and gasping. The slick heat of her skin pressed to his. The velvety warmth that held him within her still. Her hands stroking his back and shoulders, her legs twined around his hips, holding him to her.

The stillness of her body that told him she had not followed him into the ether.

“I’m sorry,” he breathed into her hair.

She smoothed her hand over his hip. “I’m not.”

He rolled to his side, drawing out of her. He shivered at the sudden sensation of loss. She closed her eyes, a soft, gutteral groan escaping her lips, as if she, too, felt the deprivation.

He flattened his palm against her belly and stroked gently, moving lower, brushing his fingers through the dark red curls. She made a soft noise and covered his hand with hers, stilling his movements. Her gaze met his. “We’re not keeping score.”

He stared at her for a moment. Loved her madly.

“I want to,” he said softly. “Please….”

She searched his face for a moment, studying him with the intensity he’d come to recognize as Scully trying to solve a riddle. Slowly, she released his hand, and he slipped his fingers into the soft, slick folds of her core. Caressed her, explored gently. He was slow, thorough, taking time now that his own urgent needs had been sated. He moved down the bed, moved between her legs. He kissed her lightly, ran his tongue over the tender flesh of her inner thigh. He felt her clench around his fingers at the touch, so he repeated it. Kissed and nipped and licked in circles, sometimes hard, sometimes soft as a whisper. Moving upward inexorably. Pressed his lips in the little valley where her legs met her torso, his nose brushing through her curls. She smelled rich. Thick.

He shifted. Covered her with his mouth. Tasted her center. Hot. Smoky. Dark.

He tasted her again.

A soft groan rumbled through her. He felt the vibrations beneath his hands.

He wanted to hear that sound again. And again.

He worked his mouth over her, tongue thrusting, darting, roaming. He felt her hands in his hair—not urging him, not trying to dictate the pace, just stroking, caressing.


He spoke silently to her, his tongue and teeth forming soundless words against her flesh. I love you. I need you.

I am lost without you.

The sounds of her pleasure were quiet. Low. Guttural. Breathless. Wordless. He invoked them with his touch. Sought them like the utterings of an oracle. Begged her blessing upon him.

Her body arched. Her fingers clenched in the sheets beside her. She grew rigid, uttering a long, low groan. She pulsed beneath his tongue. He held her tightly, riding the waves with her, prolonging her pleasure. Her body whispered all the secrets of the universe, and he listened. Memorized.

When she finally lay still and spent, he moved up her body and kissed her. She enfolded him in her arms and murmured his name against his lips. Sleep fell over them both in deep, purple shadows, slowly blotting out consciousness like night swallowing day.

And Mulder dreamed.

He was in his office in the basement, his head pillowed by his arms. He was tired. Weak. But it was a good feeling. A satisfied feeling.

That’s why the small orb of light surprised him. It fluttered over the floor and up the wall, toward the place where Scully’s desk should be.

But wasn’t.

He lifted his head and stared at the small, glowing orb hovering over the empty space where Scully’s desk used to be. It quivered as if speaking some hidden truth to him.

She’s not here.

The light darted around the room toward the door. Its glow beckoned him to follow. He stood, his arms and legs heavy and slow. He stumbled after the light, his heart thudding in his chest.

The light led him on. Gravity and physics had no meaning in this place—he walked through walls, floated up stairs, folded time and space until they had no substance, no form. He traveled the corridors of the J. Edgar Hoover Building, seeking her. Listening for her. Breathing deeply, trying to find her fragrance.

He stopped at Sci-Crime. Pendrell looked up at him, earnest boyish face expectant.

“Where is Scully?” Mulder asked.

Pendrell looked confused.

“Dana Scully. Where is she? Have you seen her?”

Pendrell shook his head. “I don’t—”

Mulder was gone, buffeted by the dream to another office. Skinner’s domain. He could tell by the odor—ink, testosterone, tobacco smoke. He entered the office without announcement and found Skinner there with the Cancerman. Smoke rose about them in a thick, stinking cloud.

“Where is she?”

They merely looked at him.

He rushed forward, grabbed the smoking man by his jacket lapels. “Where is she, you black-lunged son of a bitch? What have you done to her?”

“I’ve done nothing to her, Mr. Mulder.” The smoking man’s words rode on a stream of bitter smoke. “It is you who have brought about her end.”

“Filthy, lying son of a bitch!” Mulder drew his fist back, his vision black with rage. But before he could strike the blow, his arms were jerked back, pinned behind him.

He struggled, but his captor was stronger. He heard Skinner’s tight voice in his ear. “How do you explain yourself, Agent Mulder?”

He couldn’t draw a breath. In front of him, Cancerman calmly withdrew a pack of Morley’s from his pocket and pulled out a fresh smoke. He struck a match and touched it to the tip of the cigarette. He drew deeply, and the tip of the cigarette flared briefly orange. “You are the guilty one, Mr. Mulder,” he said, his strangely musical voice lilting with bemusement. Shrouded by smoke, he lowered his eyes to Mulder’s hands.

Mulder followed the smoking man’s gaze. His arms were pinioned by Skinner’s iron grip, but his hands were free. He stretched out his fingers and stared.

His hands were covered with blood. Drenched with it. The hot, sharp iron smell assailed his nostrils.

Her blood.

“She wanted only to comfort you. But you were greedy, Mr. Mulder.” Cancerman took another long draw, expelling smoke with his next words. “You swallowed her whole.”

Oh, God, he could taste her on his tongue. Blood and bone, flesh and spirit. His tongue burned as if he’d chewed glass. He tore away from Skinner’s grasp, howling in horror. The dream shattered and he surfaced from the black depths of the dream into reality, a cry of anguish ripped from his throat.

He was answered by silence and the night.


Part III: Every Part Stands Still

how lucky lovers are(whose selves abide under whatever shall discovered be) whose ignorance each breathing dares to hide more than most fabulous wisdom fears to see (who laugh and cry)who dream,create and kill while the whole moves;and every part stands still.

– e.e. cummings


Dana Scully’s apartment 2:43 a.m.

The scream woke Scully from a dead sleep. Her nerves jangling and thrumming, she blinked away slumber and turned to him. He was hunched and panting, his hands covering his face. She reached for the bedside lamp and flicked it on. Lamplight bathed them in gold.


His body twitched at the sound of her voice. The muscles of his back bunched and gathered. “I’m okay.” His words were thick, slightly slurred.


“Yeah.” He moved his hands from his face.

Scully gasped.

Mulder held his hands up in front of his face. Blood spotted his palms, dribbled down his wrists. He turned to look at her and she saw that blood was dripping from his mouth. He had turned pale as the moon.

“My God, Mulder.” She reached for him, but he drew back, his hands shaking. His face blanched even more, and he lurched from the bed. He stumbled to the bathroom, and a second later, she heard the sound of retching.

She grabbed her bathrobe from the hook on her closet door and wrapped it around her, then followed him into the bathroom. He had emptied his stomach and was now fighting dry heaves; she took a washcloth from the rack by the tub and quickly drenched it. She crouched next to him and gently placed her hand on his back. He jerked at the touch, and she dropped her hand to her side.

It took him a few moments to swallow back the last of the heaves. He slapped at the toilet handle to flush and collapsed back against the wall, tucking his knees up close to his body.

She held out the washcloth to him. He stared at it for a moment before he took it from her and wiped his mouth. Blood spotted the cloth.

“You okay?”

He nodded, blotting his mouth again. “I think I bit my tongue in my sleep.” He sounded as if he were trying to talk with a mouth full of rocks.

She didn’t try to touch him again, knowing he would reach out to her when and if he was ready. “That why you woke up screaming?”

“Ever bit your tongue, Scully? Hurts like hell.” The weak attempt at humor fell flat, and his little grimace showed that he knew it.

“You’re shivering, Mulder. Feel up to moving?”

He nodded, pushing himself to his feet. She rose with him, close but not touching him. “I’m sorry about this.”

“You sure know how to boost a girl’s ego, Mulder.” She ventured a half-smile.

He returned it, but she could see his heart wasn’t in it. Whatever had propelled him from sleep had horrified him. He was still deathly pale and shivering far more than he should, considering her furnace was working at full blast.

“Here, brush your teeth. It’ll make you feel better.” She crossed to the sink and pulled an unopened toothbrush from the cabinet. She removed it from the packaging and handed it to him. She leaned against the wall while he brushed his teeth. Blood from his injured tongue mingled with the toothpaste, but by the time he rinsed, the blood flow had stopped.

He followed her back into the bedroom and sat down on the edge of the bed, raking his fingers through his mussed up hair.

She stood in front of him. “You want me to get your clothes? You’re still shivering.”

“Don’t mother me, Scully.” His voice was tight.

She looked away, stung by his words. “Sorry.”

As she started to move away from him, he grabbed her wrist. “No—I’m sorry.” He pulled her to him, pressing his face against her abdomen. His breath was hot, seeping through the soft terry-cloth robe. She reached down and stroked his hair. “I’m sorry,” he murmured against her stomach. His arms circled her hips, holding her tightly.

She rocked him gently for a moment, sliding her fingers through his silky hair. After a bit, he loosened his grip and lifted his head to look at her.

“What was the dream about?” she asked softly.

He pulled away, dropping his hands to his lap. As if he suddenly realized he was naked, he reached out and drew the blanket from the bed around his hips.

Defense mechanism, she thought. Girding himself. She reached out to him again, smoothed her palms over his shoulders. “Was it like the others?” Had he dreamed of another child? Had he solved the mystery of the final heart in his sleep?

“No.” He shook his head. He held himself apart from her, somehow. He didn’t respond to her touch.

Her heart thudded uneasily in her breast. “Can you remember any of it?”

He was quiet.


“I remember all of it.” He twisted away from her, pulling his knees up to his chest. He wrapped his arms around his knees and tucked his head.

Scully moved quietly to her side of the bed and sat, careful not to jostle the mattress too much. She mimicked his posture, drawing her knees up into the circle of her arms. “You don’t have to tell me about it, Mulder. If it’s too painful—”

“It was about you.” His voice was faint. Dead. He’d shut himself down, the way he always did when he was talking about something deeply painful. “You were—gone.”

“Was it about the time I was missing?”

He shuddered, and the bed jiggled. “No. It wasn’t like that.” He shook his head. “It was—now. Right now. I was in the office, and I saw this little ball of light.”

Like his Alice in Wonderland dreams, she thought. “And you followed it?”

“It moved across the office to where you should have been— the desk you use. But the desk was gone.”

She rubbed her chin against her bent knee. “What happened next?”

“I followed the light.” He told her the dream, how he’d followed the path of the glowing orb, searching for her, trying to hear or smell or see some sign that she’d ever existed. “I ended up at Skinner’s office. Cancerman was there.”

She closed her eyes. Might as well say the devil was there, she thought. To them, he was evil incarnate. The demon fouling their world.

“He told me—” Mulder’s voice cracked.

She looked at him. His face was stony, his eyes staring across the room at some inspecific point of space. He wasn’t seeing her bedroom, of course. He was back in the abyss of his nightmare.

She waited for him to speak again, but he remained silent.

“What did he tell you, Mulder?”

He bowed his head, pressed his forehead against his arms. “He said I devoured you with my neediness. I swallowed you whole.”

She felt a little chill ripple through her.

“I looked down at my hands. There was blood on them. I could taste you in my mouth. Blood….”

She blew out a little breath she hadn’t been aware of holding. “You bit your tongue and it bled. That what you tasted.”

He turned his head, resting his cheek on his forearm as he looked at her. “Do I devour you?”

Sometimes, yes, she thought, meeting his gaze. Sometimes he did devour her. But it wasn’t a bad thing, to be consumed by him. It was exhilarating. Challenging.

And there were times she consumed him, as well. She could control him with a look or a touch—calm him, tame him, turn him. It wasn’t something he did to her or she did to him— it was something they did together. Not a swallowing but a merging.

“Mulder, you know me better than anyone. You know I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t want to be.”

“But why do you want to be?” His gaze was wary, his body tense as if preparing for a death blow. “Do you feel sorry for me, Scully?”

She arched her eyebrows. “Sorry for you?”

“You’re the best friend I’ve ever had, Scully.” He pressed his lips together briefly before continuing. “I’ve never been shown such loyalty and faith in my life. You’re like— you’re like a tigress defending her young.”

“And you think that what happened here—” she waved her arm between the two of them—“was about mothering you?” She shook her head. “Now that you’ve decided you can associate me with being a mother, you’re stuck on it as an image?”

“You’ve always been a source of comfort to me, Scully.” He looked away from her, rubbing his chin against his knee. “You—”

“I don’t do comfort sex, Mulder.”

He looked up at her.

“If I wanted to comfort you, Mulder, I’d have tucked you into bed with hot chocolate and read you a bedtime story. Which is still not out of the question,” she added with a half smile. “But that wasn’t why I took you into my bed.” She unfolded herself, moving around so that she knelt before him. She lifted his chin, made him look into her eyes. “If you think that what happened between us tonight is about anything but me loving you and you loving me, you’re wrong.”

He stared at her silently for a long, breathless moment, his expression never changing. As the silence deepened, she began to feel the first tiny creeping of doubt.

Then his lips started to tremble. He blinked as moisture pooled in his eyes. His mouth worked, searching for words.

She bent and touched her lips to his, stilling them. The kiss was soft. Sweet. Undemanding. “I don’t need words, Mulder. I know.”

He opened to her, arms and legs unfolding to envelope her. He kissed her, parting his lips to her, inviting her entry. She ran her tongue against his teeth, tasted the cool mint of toothpaste. She darted her tongue further, finding his, savoring the heat, the roughness.

He made a little grumbling noise, and she drew back, remembering his injured tongue. “I’m sorry.”

He shook his head, his eyes dark and drunk. He tangled his fingers in her hair and drew her back down to him, opened his mouth and welcomed her back inside.

He was letting her make love to him, she realized with a rush of excitement. He lay back against her pillows, bringing her down with him. She parted her legs to straddle him, feeling the quickening of his body beneath hers. She drew back from his mouth, looking down at him through the curtain of red hair that had fallen into her eyes.

He returned her gaze with a look of such trust that she found she couldn’t catch her breath. For Fox Mulder, trust was one step BEYOND love. It was his most precious, deeply guarded possession, and he had chosen to give it to her. He had given her the tool of his destruction, trusting her to use it only his benefit.

She felt her heart clench in her chest.

The urgency of her desire transformed into something equally powerful but somehow less frantic. She felt as if she were taking a vow as she bent and pressed her lips to his chest, kissed the flesh over his pounding heart. She untied the sash of her robe and let it fall open around them, enveloping them both in the soft fabric.

He reached inside the folds of the robe and smoothed his hands over her hips, gently urging her closer. She felt his hardness against her softness. She rocked her hips, rubbed against him. His answering gasp was like music.

She rose slightly, moved over him. She reached between their bodies to touch him, surprised to find him so ready. Impressive, Mulder, she thought. She flashed him a little smile.

He reached up and cupped her cheek with one hand. She turned her head and kissed his palm. Darted her tongue out, suckled the tender flesh at the center of his hand.

He shifted beneath her, twisting slightly. She pushed back her hair and watched him retrieve the box of condoms. He tore open another foil packet and handed her the latex disk.

She sat back and moved her hands over him, fingers teasing him as she unrolled the latex.

His answering chuckle was slightly pained. “How many of these things do you think we can go through?”

“I’d say that’s up to you, Mulder.” She darted him a wicked glance. “I have just the one box, though—so pace yourself.”

“Just one box?” He bit his lip briefly as she slid her hand down the length of him, testing the fit of the condom. “Do you usually keep a box of condoms in the drawer of your nightstand?”

She heard the unspoken question behind his words. “I bought that box about eight months ago.” She felt him relax slightly beneath her. So you ARE the jealous type, she thought, hiding her smile. “You were right after all, Mulder. I have no life.”

“Why eight months ago?”

He seemed more interested in her answer than he was in the stroking motions of her hands on his erection. She arched her eyebrows, surprised. But then, Mulder was generally one surprise after another. “I bought them after the Pusher case.”

His face darkened. He never seemed able to forgive himself, and she knew that he agonized over every minute of the Robert Patrick Modell case, reliving those tense, horrible moments in that hospital room at Fairfax Mercy, when he’d pointed a gun at her heart and almost pulled the trigger. She released him and bent forward, brushing her lips against his to dispel the bad memories of that case.

“I knew that day that you loved me,” she whispered against his skin. “I saw it in your eyes. You think of that experience as a nightmare, Mulder, but I remember it as an epiphany. And I knew then that it was just a matter of time before we became lovers. So I decided I should be prepared.” She kissed his chin and sat back.

He looked up at her, his eyes speaking those same, silent words of love that she had seen eight months ago. “You and the Boy Scouts of America?”

“That’s a nasty, unfounded rumor, Mulder. The Boy Scouts and I were just close friends.” She shifted and took him inside her.

He expelled a soft sigh, his hips rising to meet hers. She bent over him, twining her fingers through his. He lifted his head, closed his mouth over her right breast. His teeth lightly rasped against her taut nipple. Sparks of electricity shot through her at his touch, settling in her belly, igniting a fire there. She pulled her lower lip between her teeth and stifled a whimper. She rolled her hips, taking him deeper. His fingers tightened around hers.

He moved to her other breast, laved it, suckled, nipped. She felt herself growing hot and tight, tension building in her core like a tidal wave getting ready to break. The speed of her burgeoning climax caught her by surprise—she arched her back at the first spasm, released a low growl. She rocked her hips against him, greedy for the moment, seeking her own pleasure with a fierce determination that both shocked and thrilled her. He urged her on with soft, wordless murmurs. He thrust up into her, hard, swift.

As the wild, frantic spasms of her body eased to a low hum, she found her thighs quivering with weakness. She clenched her teeth, fought the sudden, unwanted frailty of her body. Just a few moments more. That’s all she needed. He was close—she felt his body gathering beneath hers. Just a few more moments….

Her legs ached, trembled. But she drove onward, needing his release more fiercely than she had needed her own. She bent over him, lowered her mouth to his chest. Nipped at one nipple. Moved her head, ran her tongue over the other. Drank in every sigh, every groan he uttered. Pushed herself. Pushed him. She pressed her lips against his Adam’s apple, ran her tongue over the ridge of his clavicle.

The tendons in his neck went rigid. His whole body coiled. He cried out, a low, strained groan that spooled out around her. He rose up, taking her with him, releasing her hands so he could wrap his arms around her, crush her to him. He found his release in a series of hard, deep thrusts, while she melted around him, enveloped him in her heat.

They fell back against the pillows, gasping. He buried his face in her throat. Murmured something.

She lifted her head. “What?”

He looked up, his eyes heavy-lidded. His expression was relaxed. Replete. “I said wow.”

She chuckled. “Wow?”

“You can take that as a compliment, you know.” He lifted his hand, the gesture slow and weak, as if his limbs had grown impossibly heavy. He brushed her hair back from her face. “Every day that I have known you, Scully, you have found a way to amaze me. Tonight is no different.”

She felt absurdly pleased by his words.

He gently turned them so that they lay side by side. He discarded the used condom in the trash can by the bed, then reached for her. Their limbs tangled, merged. The intimate touch of their spent bodies was so exquisite she felt tears spring to her eyes. She was supremely content. Happy to live in this one perfect moment. So his soft, hesitant words took her by surprise.

“What about tomorrow, Scully?”


Part IV: Sizeless Truth

no heart can leap,no soul can breathe but by the sizeless truth of a dream whose sleep is the sky and the earth and the sea. For love are in you am in i are in we – e.e. cummings

She was so silent he thought his heart would stop from the suspense. He shifted restlessly against her. He felt her arms tighten around him.

“What do you want to happen tomorrow?” Her breath warmed his throat.

“I want us to fly to Aruba and spend the rest of our lives making love and selling tacky souvenirs to the tourists, but that’s not going to happen.” He sat up, pulling her up with him.

She grumbled softly as the movement separated them. She scooted forward so that she sat facing him. She still wore her terry-cloth robe; she pulled the flaps shut and tied the sash as if girding herself for battle. With a rush of sheer affection, he watched her get ready for the discussion, watched her sleep-softened face compose itself as her mind kicked into logical mode.

He crossed his legs beneath the sheets, scooted forward so that their knees touched. “The only thing I’m absolutely sure of, Scully, is that I can’t go back to the way things were before.”

“Of course not.”

He touched her lips with his finger tips. “Let me finish.”

She pressed her lips together in frustration.

“I want to be with you.” He saw her eyes soften, her lips part. “I want us to be together whenever we can. But—”

She closed her eyes. “You want us to keep things secret, don’t you, Mulder?”

“We have to.”


“Scully, hear me out. We’re already in a precarious position at the Bureau. If they found out we were involved, they would separate us in a heartbeat.”

She opened her mouth to protest, but he caught her lips between his fingers and gently closed her mouth.

“You’ll get your say.” His thumb lingered on her bottom lip, traced the softness of it. “I’m not saying that we can’t be together. I’m just saying we have to be very careful and very discreet.”

“Discreet.” She sighed. “Like we’re doing something wrong.”

He reached for her hand, drew it out of her lap. He pressed his lips to her knuckles. “I want people to know, Scully— don’t you think I do? I want to walk through that entire building holding your hand and tell them all that Dana Scully loves me. I want that so much I ache inside.”

Her expression softened, her eyes pooled.

“But if we make that move, they have to make a countermove. It’s how they work.” He didn’t have to tell her who “they” were—she knew. She had lost as much to “them” as he had.

“How do you know they don’t know already?”

He frowned.

“Mulder, this room could be bugged. It wouldn’t be the first time.”

A shudder skated down his spine. She was right. Someone could be listening as they spoke. Recording. Would a cabal of shadowy conspirators sit around a table in a New York suite tomorrow morning and listen to them making love?

He looked around the room. He felt vulnerable. Exposed. Naked. They could have hidden a device anywhere.

God, could they have planted a video recorder—?

“Mulder, we’ll call the guys tomorrow and arrange for sweep to make sure.” She touched him. His skin rippled beneath her fingers.

He closed his eyes, focused on her touch. The heat of her. He let it soothe away the surge of paranoia.

“Mulder, let me tell you what I think we should do.” She caressed the back of his hand. Made him look up at her. “We don’t mix this with our work. What happens at the office doesn’t touch us here. And what happens here doesn’t go with us to the office.”

He nodded slowly, wondering briefly if that were possible. Then he realized that, of course, it was possible. He had spent the last three years working by her side while wanting her desperately. He’d always managed to separate his desire for her from his desire to solve the riddles they faced on a daily basis. If anything, it would be easier now, knowing that when things got crazy, they had this safe place to retreat to.

It might actually improve their partnership. It wasn’t like he and Scully were new to each other—they’d shared a non-sexual courtship for years now. They’d negotiated the worst relationship obstacles already. He knew her tastes, her hot buttons, the way her mind worked, what she cared about. She knew those same things about him. They were like long-time lovers that way. The only thing missing had been sexual intimacy.

Now that they had scaled that wall as well, Mulder wondered why they’d waited so long.

“Office hours are off-limits,” she continued. “We’re partners on the clock, not lovers. That includes out of town cases.”

He nodded again, knowing she was right even as he wistfully waved goodbye to some of his better fantasies.

A cabin at Lake Huevelmann, Georgia, came to mind….

“Until we’re off the clock,” she added.

His eyebrows arched. “Oh?”

“Once the case is settled, if we have to stay overnight before catching a plane, we can consider that leisure time.” Her blue eyes glowed as they met his.

Welcome back, fantasies, he thought, unable to stifle a grin.

“We don’t make any big announcements about our relationship, and we don’t give anyone reason to wonder about us while we’re on the job. But I refuse to hide in the shadows like a criminal.”


She touched her fingers to his mouth this time. Stilled his lips. Brushed her fingertips over his bottom lip before dropping her hand to her lap. “They’ll find out, Mulder. No amount of discretion can stop them. But I don’t want tongues wagging at the office any more than you do. So we’ll be careful to make sure our private lives don’t overlap with our professional lives.”

“They’re looking for a reason to shut us down.”

“Not anymore, Mulder.” She met his troubled gaze with a serene, serious expression. “If they wanted to shut us down, you gave them all the ammunition they needed over the past few days. The fact that you still have a job makes me believe that someone is determined to keep the X-Files OPEN.”

Oh, God, he realized, she was right. He himself had wondered at the fact that he’d not been dismissed outright for his actions during the Roche case. A two week suspension wasn’t even a slap on the wrist for the severity of his misconduct and lack of judgment.

Somebody big was pulling strings.

“They’ve decided they can’t stop us from going after the truth, so now they’re trying to manipulate us, make us do their dirty work, show them where the leaks are so they can plug them.” She leaned forward, covered his knees with her hands. “We’ve got to be smarter than they are, Mulder. We have to keep our eyes and ears open, make sure we’re not being manipulated.”

He looked down at her hands. Even through the sheets and blanket, their heat warmed him. “I’ve let them manipulate me too many times.”

“You have a lot of buttons to push, Mulder. They know that. They take great pleasure in pushing all of them.”

He covered her hands with his own. “I’m a pushover, you mean.”

“You feel things deeply, Mulder, and they exploit that.”

“How do I stop them? I can’t ignore the information they dangle in front of me, Scully—what if the next clue is the one that we need? How do I turn my back on it?”

She squeezed his hand. “You don’t. You just come to me and we follow it together.”

He lifted her hands to his lips and kissed her knuckles, then released them. She dropped her hands to his knees, lightly tracing the bones and ligaments through the bedsheets. Her touch calmed his heart—and inflamed his body. “I didn’t think I could involve you when I took Roche to Martha’s Vineyard. I didn’t feel I had the right to jeopardize your job as well as mine.”

“Your job wasn’t the only thing you jeopardized, Mulder.” Her voice was low, reluctant. He couldn’t meet her gaze, shame washing over him.

She was right, of course. Compared to what had almost happened to Caitlin Ross, his job was insignificant. But by the time he realized what his actions had wrought, it had almost been too late. As it was, the child would probably have nightmares for years.

Because of him.

He shuddered.

“Mulder, I need you to do something for me.” She reached up, lifted his chin and forced him to meet her strong, blue gaze. “I need you to promise me that you’ll think before you act. That if you think there’s a risk that needs to be taken in order to get to the truth, you’ll come to me first. Let me help you figure out what to do.” She loosened her grip on his chin, gently stroking his jawline. He heard the whispery rasp of his beard stubble against her fingertips.

“You always know what’s best,” he said softly. “I know that in the back of my mind, but I….” He sighed, his voice fading away.

“You’re used to doing everything alone, Mulder. You’ve spent so many years alone, not trusting anyone but yourself. Even though you tell me you trust me, it’s still second nature to you to try and go it alone.” She dropped her hand to her lap. “I don’t know—maybe you just think you’re protecting me, somehow. You have a pathological need to shelter the ones you love. You do it with your mother, and God knows, your quest to find Samantha is colored by the guilt you seem to feel about letting her be taken in the first place.” She sighed and pushed back a tendril of hair that had fallen into her eyes. “I know these things about you, Mulder. I can accept them to some extent.”


“But not when you pull what you did in the Roche case. It’s not just what happened to Caitlin, which was horrible enough. But Roche could have easily killed you, Mulder. I don’t know why he didn’t, except that he was a sick bastard who enjoyed molesting your mind as much as he enjoyed killing those little girls.”

She was right. She was always right about him.

“I love you, Mulder. I want to be with you, knowing all these things about you. But I need you to help me. I need you to promise that you won’t keep running off and putting everything and everyone on the line for your quest.” She touched his hand. “A long time ago, you told me that nothing mattered to you but finding the truth about Samantha. But I don’t believe that anymore. I believe that you care about other people. You care about justice, even if you’re not sure it can be found. I know you love me as much as I love you.”

He clutched her hands in his, drew them to his chest. “I do. I swear, I do.”

He saw tears sparkle in her eyes. “Tell me you’ll try.”

“I’ll try. I promise.” He wasn’t just saying the words because he knew she wanted to hear them. As much as he wanted to please her, he was utterly aware that she was right. When he went out on his own, played the lone wolf, he made dangerous errors. Dangerous for others as well as for himself.

Dangerous for her.

So he vowed, in the warm stillness of her bedroom, her soft scent enveloping him, to become her true partner—in life, in work, in the bedroom, in their hearts.

“So we agree we’re going to handle things the way I suggested?” she asked. “No big announcement, but no cloak and dagger, either.”

He felt a creeping sensation ripple down his spine. Old habits die hard, he thought. But he nodded. “Okay.”

“Well—actually….” She plucked at the edge of her robe as if she were trying to gather the courage to say something to him.

He covered her hands with his own. “What?”

She looked up at him. “There’s no way in the world I’m not telling my mother about us.”

A slow grin spread across his face as he pictured Margaret Scully’s face when she heard the news. “Only if you beat me there.”

She smiled and launched herself at him. He caught her and fell back against the pillows, her small body covering him like a sweet, hot blanket. The response of his body was strong and immediate. He slipped his hand inside her robe, running his fingers over her buttocks, fit her hips against his. He reveled in the soft heat of her. “What HAVE I gotten myself into here?”

She chuckled against his throat, rocking her hips against his, sending fiery tingles through his entire body. “I think it’s called love.”

He withdrew his hands from her hips and cradled her face. He brushed his lips gently against hers. “Be still my heart.”

But it wasn’t still. Not for quite some time.

The End.


Time Like A Heartbeat by Anne Haynes

DISCLAIMER: All characters in this story belong to Chris Carter, Ten-Thirteen Productions and The Fox Network. I mean no infringement.

As most of us know, there was a scene between Scully and her older brother Bill that was cut for time. Reportedly, the scene revealed a rather painful side of Scully family relations, as Bill Jr. apparently confronted Scully about her choice of the FBI as a career, blaming her decision for Melissa’s death and offering Scully little comfort in her time of fear and pain. Personally, I’m glad this scene was cut, not so much because I don’t want to see a flaw in the perfect Scully family core, but because Mulder wouldn’t there to see it and react to it. It would have been a waste. So I decided to incorporate it into my “Hearts” universe, since the emotional upheaval caused by such a confrontation would require the additional intimacy the partners achieved in my earlier story, “Be Still My Heart.”

Rating: NC-17

“Time like a Heartbeat” by Anne Haynes


Part I: “Love More Strong”

“This thou perceivest, which makes thy love more strong, To love that well which thou must leave ere long.”

– William Shakespeare


Dana Scully’s apartment February 14, 1997 6:32 p.m.

The voice was male, tense.

Fox Mulder paused in mid-knock. He bent his head toward the door.

“These things have to be taken care of, Dana.”

“I know that.” Her voice was low and tired. The first chemotherapy treatment she’d taken from Dr. Scanlon had been rough on her—intentionally rough, Mulder suspected. He could barely make out her next words. “I can handle it, Bill.”

Her brother, Mulder realized. Curiosity and dread mingled in his gut. She hadn’t mentioned that Bill Jr. was in town. Part of him wanted to turn tail and run. It had been one thing to tell Scully’s mother about their new relationship— Maggie Scully liked him, and he and Scully hadn’t gone into any gory details about the nature of their relationship. But he didn’t think Scully’s brothers would react with similar equanimity.

“Handle it?” Bill’s voice was gruff and oddly musical. Mulder had heard the voice of Scully’s father only once, when the captain had called the office to speak to his daughter not too long before his death. Bill Jr. sounded a bit like his father. “How do you handle something like this, Dana? There’s no handling it.”

“Bill, I have things under control.”

“Like you had things under control when you disappeared for three months? Like things were under control when those bastards killed Missy?” His voice rose. Resonated. “Was it worth it, Dana? Was defying Dad worth all of this?”

Stony silence followed Bill’s words. Mulder felt a surge of sheer, black rage as he felt Scully’s pain even through the thick door. He rapped his knuckles hard against the wood, welcoming the stinging pain to his fingers.

He heard a soft rustling sound and the scrape of the deadbolt disengaging. The door opened. Scully’s pale face lifted to his. Regret and relief sparred behind her blue eyes.

He wanted to drop his packages and scoop her into his arms. But she wouldn’t want him to do that—not in front of her brother. So he restrained himself, holding out a large brown bag and a small red box. “Happy Valentine’s Day.”

Her eyebrows arched. She had forgotten, he realized. She looked over her shoulder, a little frown creasing her forehead. A broad-shouldered man stood in the middle of the living room, dressed in a crisp blue uniform. He had sandy brown hair and wide, full mouth. He was a couple of inches taller than Mulder and probably outweighed the FBI agent by twenty pounds.

Mulder released an imperceptible sigh. He walked toward Scully’s brother, hand extended. “You must be Bill. I’m Fox Mulder, Dana’s partner.”

Bill Jr. stared at Mulder’s hand, his expression shuttered and distant. He didn’t move his hands from his side.

Tight-ass. Mulder dropped his hand. “I..uh…” He expelled a bigger sigh and turned to Scully. “I know we didn’t make set plans—I can go….”

“No, Mulder.” She set the bag and the box on her kitchen table and turned to look at him. He was surprised by the look of desperation on her face. “You know you’re welcome any time.” The statement was firm, challenging, and definitely directed toward her brother.

Bill’s expression shifted just a bit. “So this is Fox.”

Mulder cut his eyes in the direction of Scully’s brother. Bill’s eyes glinted with barely veiled contempt.

“Mulder,” Scully corrected with a soft sigh.

Bill slowly circled them, his blue eyes slightly narrowed. “So, Fox—” he exaggerated the word, “seventy hours a week isn’t enough time for you to screw up my sister’s life? You’re going for twenty-four hours a day now?”

Scully tensed beside Mulder. “Bill—”

“This is between me and Fox.” Bill ignored his sister’s warning glare.

“Grow up, Bill.”

“It’s okay, Scully. Let him get it out of his system.” Mulder stepped forward, subtly inserted himself between the angry siblings. “You were saying, Bill?”

Bill’s face reddened and his eyes flashed. For a second, he looked amazingly like Mulder’s most vivid memory of Melissa Scully—anger and pain suffusing her pretty face as she made him face up to his fear about losing Scully. Mulder blinked away the image, fought the sudden onslaught of guilt. Melissa—another sacrifice. Like his childhood. Like Scully’s innocence.

Her life….

Behind him, Scully made a small gasping sound. Mulder turned. His heart clenched. Blood dripped from her left nostril, spotting her fingertips as she tried to stanch the flow. He fumbled in his pocket for a handkerchief before he realized he’d left it in his suit pants.

Bill hurried to his sister’s side, quickly supplying a snowy handkerchief. Bright red blood marred the white cotton surface, each drop like a knife twisting in Mulder’s heart. “God, Dana,” Bill muttered, his face darkening.

“I’m fine.” She pulled away from his hovering presence and went into the bathroom.

Bill’s spine went rigid. He executed a flawless about-face. “This is your fault, you son of a bitch.”

Mulder met his gaze without flinching, even as he silently acknowledged his guilt.

“You knew what kind of danger you were leading her into, but you let her tag along after you anyway.” Bill took a step forward. His ruddy complexion had taken on a cherry-red brightness. A thick vein stood out in his neck. He closed to within inches, drawing himself up to his full height. “Self-absorbed little FUCK!”

Mulder’s jaws felt tight enough to pop. “Takes a fuck to know one.”

“You’re certifiable, Mulder. I know about you. I know what you do in your basement dump, the kind of people you hang around with.”

Mulder grinned. “Yeah, well, I could say the same about you, Billy boy. Tailhook wasn’t that long ago.”

Wrong thing to say. VERY wrong. Bill Scully closed the distance between them until he was in Mulder’s face. It wouldn’t take much to make the man snap, and Mulder knew it.

But he didn’t give a shit. Because it felt good to vent some of his own bottled up rage.

Really, really good.

“When Dana comes back in here,” Mulder said, “I want you to apologize to her.”

“Fuck you.”

Mulder grinned. “No, but thanks for the offer.”

Bill Scully’s hands formed fists.

Come on, tight ass, hit me, Mulder thought. I dare you.

“You don’t tell me how to treat my sister.”

“Someone should.” Mulder bent slightly, invading what was left of the space between them. He could almost smell testosterone clouding around them. “You’re an uptight, ass- kissing prick in a fancy uniform who thinks he’s got the world all figured out, but know what, Billy boy? You ain’t seen NOTHIN’ like what your sister deals with every fucking day of her life. She’s tougher and stronger and smarter than you or I can ever dream of being, so don’t you DARE come in here and throw your weight around, trying to tell her how to handle her life. Where the hell were you when she was missing for three months? When your mother could hardly put one foot in front of the other after Melissa’s death? You were out on your big, long phallic symbol of a submarine, fucking your precious sea, while she was here, holding everything together. So don’t you DARE try to make her feel bad about the choices she’s made!”

Bill Scully’s fist felt like a baseball bat upside Mulder’s jaw. He sprawled backwards, slamming into the wall. His head connected with plaster in a bone-jarring thwack. He blinked to clear his vision. Blood trickled down his chin from his split lip.

Bill followed his backward movement, pinning him against the wall with one sinewy forearm. “Listen and listen good, you worthless piece of shit. Don’t you EVER tell me what to do. Dana is MY business, not yours.” His eyes glinted, and he leaned in, his nose almost touching Mulder’s. “Besides, considering your lousy track record with sisters, I don’t think you have room to give advice.”

Every muscle in Mulder’s body coiled. But before he could unleash the pent up fury, Scully’s voice sliced through the tension, low but distinct.

“Get out.”

Bill released Mulder and turned to look at his sister. Mulder looked at her as well. She stood in the middle of the living room, her posture ramrod straight and anger crackling from every pore. Her gaze locked with her brother’s.


“Get the hell out of my apartment, Bill.”

Bill stiffened. He slowly straightened his uniform, brushing a piece of non-existant lint from the sleeve, and walked to the door. He closed it behind him without saying another word.

Silence echoed through the apartment, broken only by the soft sussuration of their breathing. Scully didn’t move for along time, still staring at the door.

Mulder finally broke the silence. “I’m sorry.”

She turned her head slowly. “For what?”

“I pushed his buttons.”

“That’s no excuse for what he said to you.”

Now that the adrenaline high was beginning to wear off, Mulder felt regrets creeping up on him. “I said some rough things to him, too.”

“Why are you trying to defend him?” She pinned him with an angry glare.

“Because he’s your brother.”

She opened her mouth as if to argue, then snapped it shut. She took a couple of steps back and sank onto the couch, resting her head in her hands.

“Nosebleed stop?” he asked.

She looked up. “Yeah. But your lip is a mess.”

He touched his wounded mouth. It hurt like a son of a bitch. “Got an extra washcloth?”

Her lips curved slightly. “We’ll have a matching his and hers set, complete with blood stains.”

He tried to smile, but it hurt. “Why don’t you see if dinner’s gotten cold? I’ll be just a minute.” He went into her bathroom and got a washcloth from the shelf above the tub, wet it, and blotted his mouth. The cold water soothed away a lot of the pain, he was glad to note. After all, he had plans for that lip tonight.

He found Scully in the kitchen, arranging the pita sandwiches from Naji’s on a couple of plates. He fell in step with her work rhythm, pouring tea and gathering silverware and napkins. He helped her carry their dinner to the table.

She poked at the falafel on her plate absentmindedly but didn’t take a bite. He looked up at her in alarm. His stomach coiled, and the bite of grilled pepper steak stuck in his throat. He swallowed with difficulty and reached his hand across the table. “Are you okay? You’re not feeling sick—”

She arched her eyebrows in surprise. “No, I’m fine.” She put her hand over his. “Really, Mulder—I’m okay. The nosebleeds don’t necessarily mean I’m getting worse.” She withdrew her hand and picked up the falafel.

He watched her take a decent bite, forcing down his rising panic. But he’d lost his appetite. He pushed his own steak pita around his plate and hoped she wouldn’t notice.

But she noticed. She looked at him with a mixture of sympathy and irritation. “We talked about this, Mulder. We agreed that you wouldn’t bury me before I’m dead.”

He flinched at her words. “God, Scully.”

“You’ve been treating me like I’m fragile, Mulder, and I can’t live this way anymore.” She pushed away from the table and stood. “I have cancer. We don’t yet know how to treat it, but I haven’t given up hope yet, and damn it, Mulder, you promised me you wouldn’t either.”

He stood, too. “What the hell do you want from me, Scully? You don’t want me to lie to you, you don’t want me to hide things from you, and now you don’t want me to fucking feel what I feel?”

Her face darkened with anger. “Is that how you feel, Mulder? You look at me and all you see is the cancer? Is that what you feel?”

He stared at her for a moment, then slumped in his chair. He shook his head slowly.

A long, heavy silence swallowed his wordless reply. He stared at his hands, his feet, the table—anywhere but at her.

“We haven’t made love since I got home from Allentown.” Scully sat down again, her movements slow and deliberate. “Is that why? You can’t bear to make love to a dying woman?”

Tears stung his eyes, burned his throat. “Stop it, Scully.”

“I can’t.” Her voice was faint. Tight. “If you don’t want to be with me because of this, if you need to step back and put some distance between us for your own sanity, it’s all right, Mulder. I understand. But I need to know that now.”

He felt a surge of raw pain—anger or hurt or fear, he couldn’t really say. But it propelled him forward, pushed him to her. He reached down and caught her arms, lifting her to her feet. Her eyes widened in surprise, her lips parting in a soft gasp.

He slanted his mouth over hers, breathing her breath, his tongue pushing past the brief resistance to tangle with hers. She clutched at his arms, her small fingers digging into his flesh, and for a moment he thought she was pushing him away until she shifted in his arms, trapping his left thigh between hers, her hips pressing hard against him, thrusting against him.

He reached between their bodies and found her hot center through the soft cotton leggings she wore. He cupped her, his fingers parting her through the fabric, shifting the material to create friction. She groaned into his mouth in response and slipped her own hand between his legs. Found him through the denim, traced the shape of him.

He was instantly hard. Achingly hard. His jeans felt like a second skin he was about to burst through any second.

And then she stopped. Pushed away from him. Left him pulsing and gasping. He stared at her as she backed away, put distance—the table, the chair—between them. “No,” she said.


Part II: “Compared with Loss”

“And other strains of woe, which now seem woe, Compared with loss of thee will not seem so.”

– William Shakespeare


Dana Scully braced her hands on the chair in front of her, needing the distance and the barriers to regain control of her body and her mind. On the other side of the table, Mulder looked shell-shocked, his breath coming in hard, ragged gasps. His body was tense, hard, flushed with desire. A thin sheen of perpiration made him glow, and she felt her own body surging in response, reaching across the distance that separated them.

“I need you,” he said, his voice raw and low. It was a plea.

She closed her eyes. “We’ve never made love for the wrong reasons, Mulder. I don’t want to start now.”

He was silent. Too silent. She opened her eyes to look at him. The pain she saw in his eyes felt like a physical blow. She formed words on her tongue, tried to say them. But they caught in her throat.

Mulder took a couple of tentative steps toward her, his hands slightly outstretched as if to reassure her of his good intentions. He approached her as if she were a wild animal who could bolt at any moment.

Maybe she was. She felt wild and scared and panicked.

“I love you, Scully.”

She stared at him, a lump rising in her throat, forcing tears to her eyes. He’d never said the words before, neither in the blistering heat of passion nor the languid warmth of afterglow.

Oh, God, why did he say them now? Now when….

When what?

She tried to swallow the lump in her throat.

When I’m dying.

When my life is ending.

When there’s no time left.

She shook her head, denying her thoughts, denying his words, denying a reality that sat on her shoulders like an anvil, crushing her. She had told Mulder, in the still quiet of a hospital corridor, that she had decided to fight for her life. Yet here she was, thinking in terms of what would never be.

No, damn it. That wasn’t how she was going to live her life. Life came with no guarantees—Melissa’s death should have proven that. Tomorrow or the next day or the day after that, she could catch a bullet or be sideswiped by a drunk driver, and then what would it matter that there was a tumor growing in her head?

“Tell me what you want, Scully.”

She looked up at him, meeting his dark, desperate gaze. In his eyes, she saw her future. Her hope.

“I want right now, Mulder.” She swallowed hard, fighting off the last of the tears that left her feeling weak and scared. “I don’t want yesterday or tomorrow. I just want right now. This night. You. I want you.”

His eyes fluttered closed for a second, shuttering his heart from her. When he opened his eyes again, the blazing love she saw there stole her breath. He opened his arms and she flew to them, pressing her ear to his chest to listen to the rapid thudding of his heart. He stroked her hair, his touch like a whisper. Gently, reverently, he threaded his fingers through the hair at her temples and lowered his lips to her forehead, just as he had done in the corridor of the Allentown-Bethlehem Medical Center after Penny Northern’s death, to kiss the heart of her fear.

Kiss it and make it better….

He eased away from her, just enough to cradle her face and gaze down at her, reading her soul in her eyes. She felt naked, vulnerable and alive.

Cherished. Beloved.

He kissed the tip of her nose. “You haven’t opened your surprise.”

She arched one eyebrow. “Surprise?”

“Just because you forgot Valentine’s Day doesn’t mean that I did.” He twined his fingers through hers and led her back to the table. Next to the crumpled take-out bag from Naji’s sat a flat box, wrapped in shiny red foil. Chocolates, she thought. Mulder knew her secret passions.

She glanced up at him. “May I?”

He nodded. His expression was more tense than she expected—did he think he could go wrong with chocolate?

She tore the foil wrapping paper open with her fingernail and ripped it off the box. As expected, inside the foil was a box of imported Swiss chocolates. “Mmm, Mulder, you KNOW what I like.” She pulled the top off the box.

Inside, lying across the chocolates, were two tickets.

She glanced up at Mulder. His expression was both wary and hopeful. She looked back at the tickets. They were small and hand-printed, lavender cover stock paper embossed with a looping script font. “The Vineyard Room Millennium Celebration?” she read aloud.

Mulder shifted from one foot to the other. Scully found the small sign of nervousness oddly endearing. “The Vineyard Room is a hotel in Edgartown. They’ve already started selling tickets to their New Year’s Eve party for the year 2001. That’s the REAL start of the millennium, you know.”

She nodded. “I know.” She ran her fingers over the embossed tickets, fighting back tears. New Year’s Eve, 2001. Almost four years from now. Three years more than the doctor had told her to expect. She lifted tear-sparkled eyes to Mulder. “This is a wonderful gift, Mulder. Thank you.”

He smiled, relief transforming his expression. “I was hoping you’d like them. I bought them a few months ago—as a sort of promise.”

That we’d still be together on New Year’s Eve, 2001, Scully thought, smiling through a veil of tears. That he’d still love me.

“Now, it’s also a sign of faith.” He bent and brushed his lips to hers, the touch gentle and almost reverent. “The hotel ballroom at The Vineyard Place is beautiful, Scully. I can’t wait to dance all night with you.”

She laid the tickets atop the chocolates and wrapped her arms around his lean waist, holding on for dear life. “It’s a date.”

He held her tightly, his breath warm against her forehead. “So, you wanna binge on chocolate, or shall we see if we can remember where we were a few minutes ago?”

She pretended to consider the question. Imported Swiss truffles or mind-bending sex with Mulder?

Hell, why limit yourself? She picked up the box of chocolates and took Mulder’s hand. “Let’s answer the burning question once and for all, Mulder.”

He drifted along behind her as she led him toward her bedroom. “The burning question?”

She paused in the bedroom doorway and looked at him over her shoulder. “Which is better, sex or chocolate?”

He grinned and swept her up in his arms, box of chocolates and all. “Sex AND chocolate!”

He lowered her to the bed and stepped back, untucking his shirt from the waistband of his jeans. She watched as he unbuttoned the shirt, baring his lean, powerful chest. He was beautiful, she thought, strong and toned. She moved the box of chocolates aside and sat up, reaching for his zipper.

He shrugged off his shirt and moved closer to the bed, giving her easier access to his jeans. She unbuttoned the top button and unzipped the tight denim, revealing the soft cotton of his heather gray boxer-briefs. She stifled a smile. The Calvins. Happy Valentine’s Day, indeed.

She slipped her hand inside his jeans and stroked him. The response was immediate, and she glanced up at him. He shrugged and smiled, reaching out to brush her hair back from her forehead.

She freed him from his jeans and underwear, ran her fingers lightly over the length of him. Closed her fist around him and gently squeezed.

He released a soft, explosive hiss.

She glanced up at him, savoring the look of pleasure-pain suffusing his face. She hadn’t realized just how much she had needed this, needed him, needed what they did with each other and to each other. She felt alive and strong and healthy. She felt she could live forever.

She loosened her grip on him, returning her fingers to their playful exploration of his growing erection. She let her fingernails scrape lightly, teasingly, up and down and around. She was rewarded by his quickened breath, his fingers threading through her hair, caressing her. He was happy to let her take the lead, happy to follow her wherever she took him.

She loved him madly for it.

She released him, moving her hands to his hips. She slid his jeans down his legs to puddle in the floor at his feet. She quickly dispatched the gray boxer-briefs the same way, until he stood naked and beautiful in front of her. His eyes were large and dark, the irises small green rings around his dilated pupils. Keeping her eyes on his face, she scooted forward on the bed, stroking his hips with her palms. Lightly. Slowly.


He bit his lip and expelled a little gasp as his teeth caught the swollen flesh where Bill had slugged him. She made a little moue of sympathy, even though the practical side of her knew that in a few minutes, he would be biting the hell out of his lip and not even feeling it.

She slid her hands around to cup his buttocks and draw him closer to her. He stumbled a little as he moved forward, grabbing her shoulders to steady himself. He left his hands there, curling his fingers in the soft fabric of her cotton t-shirt. She leaned forward and brushed her lips against the thin line of hair that bisected his flat abdomen. His muscles bunched at her touch.

His thumbs found the ridge of her clavicles through her shirt and stroked, sending little flashes of heat through her breasts and belly. She rewarded him with a flick of her tongue, circling the indentation of his navel. His whispery intake of breath spurred her on. She kissed the hot, silky flesh below his navel, nipped at the point of his hip bone. She pulled him closer, her hands squeezing his buttocks, sliding over his hips. She rubbed her nose against the crisp hair on his belly and moved her hands slowly across the planes of his hip bones, tracing the lean contours. His stomach trembled beneath her lips and his hands tightened around her shoulders.

She sat back for a moment and reached out for the bedside table, opening the drawer. She withdrew a small square foil packet and ripped it open with her teeth, lifting her eyes to Mulder’s face. His gaze was on her mouth, his tongue darting out to lick his lips. She brought her hands together in front of him and gently cupped his sex, her fingers fluttering lightly against his hot flesh. His fingers dug into her shoulders, and she smiled. God, she loved this. She loved feeling his powerful body soar to a symphony of pleasure beneath her virtuoso touch. She played him with her hands and mouth, coaxing him to new heights, finding melodies and harmonies that belonged to them alone. His fingers slid up her neck and tangled in her hair—not pulling, not holding, just stroking, soothing, loving. She sat back finally, dropping one last affectionate kiss on the tip of his sex, and slipped the condom over his erection.

He gently urged her back from him and knelt before her, his eyes murky with need. Drawing her forward for a kiss, he drank from her mouth like a dying man, his hands roaming her body, seeking and finding the soft and hard of her. He tugged at the waistband of her leggings, and she shifted to help him slide them down her legs. He tossed them away to join his jeans on the floor by the bed. Her panties quickly followed.

For a moment he paused, looking up into her face, studying her as if he’d never seen her before. He cradled her face, his thumbs gently stroking her cheekbones, and drew her down for another kiss. Then he dropped his hands to her hips and drew her forward to the edge of the bed.

Scully lay back, bracing herself on her elbows, and watched him part her thighs and lower his mouth to her. His touch was electric and she shuddered at the sensation. Her breathing quickened. Her hips began a slow, helpless dance in rhythm with his mouth. She released a low groan of pleasure, then another. Another. Her body felt like liquid fire, alternately spreading and gathering, bunching and stretching. She threw her head back, clutched desperately at the bedsheets. His hands found hers, fingers twining through her own. She gripped his hands and lifted her hips, eager and frantic. She gasped his name. Moaned it.

He shifted, removed his mouth from her. She groaned at the sense of deprivation, opened her mouth to plead for his mercy. But his mouth met hers, fiery hot and hungry, and he gathered her into his arms. She clung to him, grinding the heat of her sex against his hardness. His breath exploded into her mouth, and he laid her back on the bed, curling his hands around her thighs and opening her to him. He rose over her, strong and large and all-encompassing, his gaze so intense she thought she’d burst into flame. Her lips parted and his name escaped her throat in entreaty. She saw a kaleidescope of emotions flash across his face in that one trembling moment—need, love, gratitude, sorrow, joy, fear, peace. Then, slowly, he entered her. Stretched her. Filled her.

She closed her eyes, overwhelmed. Overmatched. She lifted her hands to his sides, stroked the silky flesh over his hip bones. Cupping his buttocks, she held him firmly against her for a moment, concentrating on the feel of his body filling her own. Tight. Thick. Perfect. She shifted her hips, took him deeper, and heard his soft, guttural sigh.

She released his hips, sliding her hands up his chest to circle his nipples with her fingertips. She pinched lightly and heard him gasp again. He rocked his hips against hers in response, his pelvic bone pressing against the tiny bundle of nerves at her core, sparking a thousand wildfires along her nerve endings. She bit her lip and arched beneath him.

He set a slow, steady rhythm, dropping kisses along her jawline, her chin, her throat. She pulled her t-shirt up over her head and tossed it somewhere behind her, allowing him access to the soft swell of her breasts peeking above the cotton lace cups of her bra. He bent and nipped at the front hook of the bra, opening it with his teeth and tongue. She chuckled at his talent, until his mouth closed around the hardened peak of her breast. Laughter died away, replaced by a soft, keening gasp of pleasure. He lavished attention on her breasts, her throat, her mouth.

Control slipped away, and she relinquished it with a perverse sense of accomplishment. She reveled in the wild abandon of their lovemaking, in the mindless, thoughtless sensation of sheer physical ecstasy. She gave herself to him utterly, completely, matching his gathering intensity, pushing him as he pushed her, thrusting, clasping, panting. Release began as a pinpoint of shimmering light in her core, then grew, bloomed, spread, scattered. She unfurled like a ribbon of light, a moan unspooling from her throat. Her inner muscles clenched around him, grasped at him. With a low cry, he arched his back and buried himself in her again and again until he finally collapsed against her, pressing soft, hot kisses to her throat and shoulder.

She held him, stroked the trembling muscles of his back, traced the ridges of his spine, murmured wordless sounds of love into his ear. This was her favorite part of making love with Mulder, this sweet, languid time after, when he melted in her embrace, defenseless and utterly trusting. There were no walls in this place, no barriers between them. She closed her eyes and bathed in the warmth of their love for each other.

Finally, much later, he stirred, lifting his head away from her shoulder. She heard him utter a small gasp, opened her eyes and saw him staring at her, his expression somewhere between sorrow and panic. “What?”

He reached down and touched the skin above her lip. When he drew his finger away, there was blood on the tip.

She lifted her fingers to her nose. But her fingers came away clean. She looked back up at him and noticed, for the first time, that his split lip had begun to bleed again. “Yours,” she murmured, reaching up and gently wiping away a droplet of blood with her fingertip.

He rolled away from her, an apologetic grin curving his lips, and reached for the box of tissues on the table by the bed. He sat up and blotted his cracked lip.

She sat up as well and ran her hand gently down his spine. She pressed her lips to his shoulderblade and murmured, “I love you,” against his skin.

He turned and drew her into the warm circle of his arms, rested his chin on her head. They sat there, in comfortable silence, as the night deepened around them. And Scully felt, with a certainty as powerful as any she’d ever known, that there would be many more nights like this for them, many more years of finding peace in the midst of chaos in this quiet place they alone created.

When the phone rang a few moments later, she was so relaxed the sound jarred her nerves. She grumbled against his shoulder and extricated herself from his arms. “Hello?”

“Dana, it’s Mom.”

With a self-conscious grin, Scully dove for the covers. Mulder scooted over to make room for her, his eyebrow quirking. “Your mom?” he mouthed.

She nodded, making a face at him. She pulled the sheet up to cover her nakedness. “Hi, Mom. What’s up?”

“Is Bill still there? He was supposed to be back here over an hour ago.” Her mother’s voice was tense, worried. “Dana, I have a terrible feeling that something’s wrong.”


Part III: “Mouths of Men”

“You still shall live—such virtue hath my pen— Where breath most breathes, even in the mouths of men” – William Shakespeare


Fox Mulder saw his partner frown into the phone. He cocked his head slightly, trying to read in her expression and her voice the conversation going on between her and her mother.

“He left here a couple of hours ago, Mom—but he was okay.” Scully shrugged at Mulder.

He shrugged back and scooted off the bed to retrieve his gray boxer-briefs. Somehow, sitting naked next to Dana Scully while she was talking to her mother offended his sense of decency. He donned the shorts and turned back to the bed to find Scully staring at him, one dark red eyebrow arched and amusement crinkling her eyes.

“Well, it wasn’t really an argument—” She paused and released a little sigh.

Mulder sat next to her, finding her leg underneath the sheet and gently running his fingers up her inner thigh. She swatted at his hand, fixing him with a stern frown. He grinned at her and inched his fingers higher. She squirmed a little. Scully shifted her legs under the sheet, trying to shake off his hand. Stop it! she mouthed. “Yes, Mulder was here, and no, they didn’t have a fight.”

He arched an eyebrow at her and poked out his split lip. Not a fight? Bill had knocked him into the wall. What was that in Scully-terms—a little disagreement?

“I’m sure he’s just out cooling off, Mom. You know Bill. He has to find his own way to sort things out.”

Mulder bent and nuzzled her thigh through the sheet.

She grabbed his hair and yanked hard, making him grunt in pain. “Yeah, Mom, he’s still here.” Scully chuckled, tightening her fingers in his hair as he started nipping her through the cotton. “Mom, Bill’s a big boy—” She stopped short and sighed. “Okay—I’ll call some of the local places around here, see if anyone matching his description has been there tonight. Talk to you soon.”

Mulder lifted his head, wincing as her still-clenched fingers tugged at his hair. “Billy boy hasn’t showed up at the homestead?”

She released his hair. “He and Tara were supposed to catch a late movie, but Bill hasn’t shown.” She frowned slightly. “You don’t think there’s any reason to worry, do you?”

He sat up. “I don’t know your brother well enough to judge. What do you think he would do?”

“He’s not a big drinker, but he was pretty ticked off when he left here, and maybe he thought a beer might calm him down. He came by cab, so it’s not like he’d have to worry about drinking and driving.” Scully tucked her knees up to her chest. “I could call a few of the bars around here, I suppose.”

“I’ll help.” Mulder rolled off the bed and went into the living room, where he’d left his coat. He pulled the cellphone from the inside pocket and went back to the bedroom. Scully had donned her panties and his shirt and now sat cross-legged on the bed, flipping through the Yellow Pages.

They took alternate listings and went through seven bars in the area. None of the bartenders claimed to have seen anyone fitting Bill’s description, and as Mulder pointed out halfway through, he was a hard man to miss, what with the uniform and the semi-buzzcut. Scully put down the phone after the seventh call and sighed. “I really thought we’d find him at one of these places.”

Mulder shut off his cell phone and caught his lower lip between his thumb and forefinger, absently probing at the soreness where Bill Scully’s fist had connected with his mouth. If I were Bill Scully, where would I go? One sister dying. One sister dead and buried. Angry. Hurt. Blinded by grief I don’t know how to express. Where would I go?

The answer came in a flash. He sat upright. “Scully, I think I know where your brother is.”

She arched her eyebrow.

“I think you should go to your mom’s house, calm things down. I’ll go look for Bill.”

“Mulder, I’m not sure—”

He touched his fingers to her lips. “If he’s where I think he is, he’s not going to want to see you there. And I don’t want things to be said between the two of you in the heat of the moment that you can’t take back, okay? If he’s going to go off on somebody, let it be me.”

She sighed but nodded. “I’ll go start the shower.”

Mulder grabbed a clean pair of underwear from the drawer Scully had set aside for him in the bottom of her chest of drawers and followed her into the bathroom. To save time, they showered together, enveloped in a delicate cloud of freesia-scented steam. In tacit agreement, they avoided touching each other as much as possible, although the mere sight of her slick, naked body was enough to give Mulder a nice little buzz. He distracted himself with the thought of Bill Scully, sitting beneath a cold, dark sky, trying to figure out how to say goodbye to the people he loved.

“I’ll call as soon as I find him,” he promised Scully a few minutes later as they walked down the sidewalk toward their cars. He stopped in the middle of the sidewalk and turned to face her. “Tell your mom I’ll be sure to bring him home intact.”

She flashed him a crooked half-smile. “It’s not Bill I’m worried about.”

He bent and kissed her, ignoring the flash of pain in his injured lip. “Talk to you soon.”

He watched her safely to her car, then turned and went to his own car. He pulled the collar of his jacket higher around his neck and cranked the engine. He couldn’t say he was looking forward to another heart to heart talk with Bill Scully, he thought as he pulled out of the parking space. Especially if he found the man where he thought he would.


“Fox is looking for him?” Margaret Scully’s forehead wrinkled slightly.

Scully squeezed her mother’s arm reassuringly. “Don’t worry, Mom, he’s armed,” she joked.

Margaret flashed her daughter a smile. “That’s what I’m afraid of.”

Across the room, Bill’s wife Tara smiled a greeting at Scully. She sat in the rocker by the fireplace, rocking Scully’s sleepy three-year-old nephew David, Charlie’s youngest, who was visiting his grandmother for the week. She looked worried but somehow at peace, holding the drowsy baby.

Seven-year-old Daniel, Charlie’s other son, was on his knees in front of the coffee table by the sofa, busily driving a small Matchbox racer across the flat wood surface, accompanying his play with the proper “vroom-vroom” noises.

Scully slipped her arm around her mother’s shoulders and drew her into the kitchen. “I’m sorry—Bill hardly ever gets home for a visit, and now this….”

“It’s been a rough few years for the whole family, Dana.” Margaret went on auto-pilot, reaching into the cabinet for the tea pot. She filled it with water from the tap and put the kettle on the stove.

The tea kettle had just begun to whistle when Scully’s cell phone rang. She grabbed it. “Mulder, have you found him?”

Mulder’s voice was low, guarded. “Yeah. I haven’t talked to him yet, but he seems to be okay.”

“Where are you?”

“I’ll explain everything when I get him home. Just wanted to let you know I found him.” Mulder disconnected.

“He found Bill?” Margaret asked hopefully.

Scully nodded. “Mulder says he’s fine. He’ll probably be bringing him home any time.” She smiled to reassure her mother, but her own insides were quailing. For she knew Mulder well enough now to be able to read every nuance and inflection of his voice. And his voice had told her that he was in a very dark place.


The night was cold and dark, lit by the pale blue light of a crescent moon. Mulder snapped his leather jacket closed and crossed through the neatly-trimmed grass of the cemetery, his gaze locked on the dark figure crouched by a simple granite stone about thirty yards away.

Bill Scully didn’t even lift his head at Mulder’s approach. He sat, legs crossed, elbows resting on his knees, facing the gravestone of his sister. A six pack of beer sat on the ground next to him. He’d opened only one can, and it sat, unnoticed, in front of his left knee.

Mulder stopped by the grave stone and looked down at Bill’s dark head. He thought he should probably say something, but he didn’t know what.

“Go away, Mulder.”

Mulder sighed and hunkered down by the grave. He had stopped by a grocery store on the way to buy flowers; he placed them gently next to the gravestone. He settled himself on the ground, crossing his legs like Bill. “Your mom is worried about you.”

“Go to hell.”

Mulder didn’t bother to reply.

Bill reached out and brushed a dead leaf away from Melissa’s grave. “She shouldn’t be here. It wasn’t her time.”

“No, it wasn’t.” Mulder swallowed a surge of guilt. He could wallow in self-hatred later; right now he had to get Bill Scully home to his family.

“Was it worth it?” Bill echoed the earlier words he’d asked Scully. “Is your little alien hunt worth what happened to Melissa? What’s happening to Dana?”

Mulder shook his head. Nothing he could say would make Bill Scully feel any better, so he didn’t try.

Bill picked up the can of beer by his knee and took a drink. Mulder could tell by sight that the can was still mostly full. Bill caught his gaze and made a little face. “I’m not much of a drinker. Never thought you’d hear a Navy man admit that, did you?”

Mulder didn’t answer. He sensed he wasn’t supposed to.

“I idolized my dad, just like Dana did. I wanted to be just like him when I grew up.” Bill chuckled, but there was no mirth in the sound. “And here I am, all grown up, following my father’s wake. Months at sea, watching my life go by in the waves on the ocean. My wife looks different every time I see her because so much time passes between shore leaves. We’re trying to start a family and sometime I wonder what the hell for. So I can watch them grow up in pictures like my dad did?” He shook his head. “When you’re a kid, everything seems so simple. You think everyone will live forever, that someday down the line you’ll get a chance to make up for all the things you let slide along the way.”

Mulder could barely remember feeling that way. Way back when, in the Time Before. He had idolized his father back then, too, maybe for the same reason Bill had worshipped his own father. Because of distance. Unfamiliarity. Like Bill Scully, Bill Mulder had spent more time away than at home. His work at the State Department had been the focus of his life, and his family had been a calculated sacrifice he’d made. It had been easy, then, to love his father, because he hardly knew him.

Then Samantha had disappeared, and it all crumbled down around him. The illusions, the lies. He’d found out then about his father’s drinking problem. About the cold anger that erupted in brief, vicious bursts of mental cruelty. About the icy state of his parents’ marriage.

“I don’t know if you know this, Mulder, but Melissa and I were what you call Irish twins. She was born just eleven months after I was.” Bill’s face cracked with a humorless grin. “Guess the rhythm method wasn’t working that year.” He took another drink of beer. “It’s a funny thing. Missy and I hardly shared anything in common. She was as girly as they come, and I was pretty much your typical boy—grimy, loud and obnoxious. Dana and I were a lot more alike—she was always such a tomboy. I don’t know, maybe that’s why I was closer to Missy, come to think of it. Because she wasn’t always trying to out-do me the way Dana was.”

Mulder smiled. Scully was a fierce competitor. He had a few battle scars of his own.

“Whatever the reason, by the time we were teenagers, I was about the only person Melissa seemed able to communicate with. Nobody else seemed to understand her, not even Mom, although, bless her heart, she tried. Melissa was just…different from the rest of us. We were all doers. Achievers. We thrived on the hunt, the chase. Melissa was introspective. Sensitive. Her feelings ran deep—and yet she never hid them. I’m sure by now you’ve figured out that the Scullys are great at denial.”

Mulder inclined his head in agreement.

“But not Melissa. She never lied about how she was feeling. She didn’t pull punches. And she demanded the same of you.”

Mulder knew. He remembered.

“God, I miss her.” Bill touched the gravestone, traced his sister’s name. “It wasn’t even like we talked all that much—a phone call here, a letter there. And that was only recently.” He sat back, sighing.

Mulder could hear the soft hitch in his breathing that betrayed his sorrow. He looked up and saw the faint sparkle of moisture on Bill’s cheeks.

“Melissa and I had a falling out when I joined the Navy. She hated the military, hated the lifestyle and the whole idea of war. She hated how it kept families separated and how it fostered what she called ‘a culture of violence.’ And she was furious when I chose to attend the Naval Academy and join the service. Not long after that, she left home and we didn’t hear from her for a long, long time.”

Mulder nodded. Scully had told him much the same story about her sister.

“When Dana was in the coma, and Melissa came home—” Bill passed his hand over his face. “That was the first time I spoke to her in almost ten years. My sub was cruising the Bering Strait when I got a message through channels. My baby sister was near death, and my other sister was trying to reach me. As soon as I could get to a phone, I called Melissa. By then, Dana was awake. The crisis averted. But I cried like a baby when I hung up the phone because I hadn’t realized how desperately I’d missed Melissa’s presence in my life.”

Mulder closed his eyes, nodding slightly. “She had a way of getting to you. She got to me when nobody else could.”

Bill looked up at him, his expression inviting Mulder to continue.

“Dana was dying.” Mulder shuddered at the memory of that night, in his darkened apartment, when he’d reached the end of his tether. Hope had evaporated, leaving only hate and the ravenings of vengeance. “I was on the verge of selling my soul to the devil when Melissa yanked me up by the ears and kicked my ass into gear. She made me do the right thing. She made me go to Dana and be there for her one last time. She saved my life, and I think maybe she saved Dana’s, too.”

Bill nodded. “That was Missy. You wanted to kill her half the time, but she always seemed to turn out right in the end.” He sighed and looked back at the grave stone. “I never got to say goodbye, you know. When Mom called to tell me that Melissa had been shot, the doctors were saying that she was showing improvement, so I booked the later flight. Tara and I were heading out the door when we got the phone call from Dana, telling us that Melissa was gone.”

“I’m sorry.”

Bill closed his eyes, lifting his face to the pale wash of blue moonlight. He looked like a marble monolith, splendid in his isolation. “I’m so goddamn angry I don’t know what to do,” he groaned. “Missy shouldn’t be dead! And I didn’t even get the satisfaction of finding her killer and ripping his fucking head off! Oh GOD!” His voice rose, his fists clenched and unclenched. “And now Dana, too.” He shook his head violently, side to side. “Goddamn fucking CANCER! How do you seek vengeance against a something like that?”

“You don’t,” Mulder answered quietly. “You find a cure.”

Bill subsided, his rage dissipating, leaving him limp and drained. He slumped forward, holding his head in his hands. “There’s no cure.”

“Yes, there is.” Mulder leaned forward. “Someone did that to her, Bill. It didn’t just happen. And if someone gave her that cancer, it’s pretty damned likely that they know how to cure it, too. That’s where Dana and I look. Not for revenge but for the truth. For the answer.”

Bill met his gaze. “I can’t lose her, too.”

Mulder nodded. “Neither can I.”

Silence spooled out between them like a ribbon. Bill finally broke the silence. “Mulder, did you know you smell like freesias?”

Mulder looked away, remembering the shower he’d shared with Scully. “Bill, I find the fact that you know what freesias smell like kinda…girly.”

Bill bent forward. His voice was low and just a bit tight. “I gave her that shower gel for Christmas.”

Mulder looked up, feeling ridiculously guilty.

“I oughta beat the shit out of you,” Bill muttered.


Once again, their gazes locked for a long, tense moment. Then Bill started to chuckle.

The sound was oddly contagious. Mulder found himself laughing as well, venting a plethora of bottled up emotions in that one act of release. Their laughter rang through the cold, dark graveyard, defying death and its harbingers.

When their laughter finally subsided, Bill stretched his legs out in front of him, loosening the kinks from his prolongued bout of stillness. “You don’t deserve her.”

Mulder shook his head. “No, I don’t.”

“But you love her.” It wasn’t a question.

Mulder smiled, picturing Scully’s small, neat form and intelligent blue eyes. “Doesn’t everybody?”

Bill glanced at him. “You know if you do her wrong, you’re a dead man.”

“I know. She’s already shot me once, and she was in a good mood that time.”

Bill arched his eyebrow, and Mulder smiled.

Bill sighed. “She’ll probably shoot me the second she sees me. I was such a shit to her tonight.”

Mulder nodded. “Yeah. But she’s used to shits. She works with me.”

“I guess maybe we’re both a couple of worthless little fucks, huh?”

Mulder feigned insult. “Hey, I’ve been told I’m a very good fuck, thank you.”

Bill cut his eyes at Mulder. “That is way too much information, Mulder.

Mulder chuckled, pushing himself up to his feet. He held out a hand to Bill.

Bill looked at his hand for a long, thick moment. Then he grasped it and let Mulder pull him to his feet. He released Mulder’s hand and reached down to pick up the six pack of beer. “I don’t even like beer,” he commented.

“Come on.” Mulder nodded toward his car. “We’ve got people looking for us.”

They walked slowly across the graveyard to Mulder’s car, two dark silhouettes in a shower of moonlight.


Part IV: “Constant Heart”

“In all external grace you have some part, But you like none, none you, for constant heart.” – William Shakespeare”


Scully handed off her cell phone to her sister-in-law. “Bill wants to talk to you.”

Tara took the phone, and Scully crossed to her mother’s side by the mantle. She slipped her arm around her mother’s shoulders. “They’ll be here soon.”

Margaret smiled. “Good.” She kissed Scully’s cheek. “You’re looking so well, honey! Better than you’ve looked in a while. Something must be agreeing with you.” Her eyes took on a teasing light. “Or someone.”

Scully felt a warm rush of heat in her cheeks and neck, remembering the feel of Mulder’s mouth on her, the touch of his hands, the exquisite fullness of their joined bodies. “I have so much to live for, Mom. And I’m not letting go. We’re going to find a way to treat this tumor. The answers are out there. We just have to find out where to look.”

Maggie reached up and pushed back a lock of hair spilling onto Scully’s cheek, the gesture bringing back a thousand happy childhood memories for Scully. “He makes you happy, doesn’t he?”

Scully nodded, greeting her mother’s words with a bemused half-smile. “Yeah. He does. I’m glad you like him. Do you think Dad would’ve…?” She trailed off, trying to picture her father meeting Mulder on the front porch, checking out his daughter’s newest beau. The image brought a chuckle to her throat.

“Approved of Fox?” Maggie finished for her, her eyes crinkling slightly with humor. “Not on your life.”

Scully chuckled again. “Some things are just a given, aren’t they?”

Maggie nodded, a smile lingering on her lips. “But he would have come around, eventually. All your father ever wanted was for you to be happy and loved.”

The sound of the front door opening interrupted their soft conversation. Scully turned to see her brother walk through the door, Mulder following on his heels.

Bill paused long enough to give his wife a reassuring touch to her cheek, then he crossed the room to where Scully stood. She looked up at him warily, trying to read his expression. She saw his reddened eyes, the still-damp tracks on his cheeks. The sadness of his expression.

Then he opened his arms, catching her completely by surprise. Bill Scully Jr. was not a hugger, and to tell the truth, she’d never been much of one, either. But she made an exception this time, walking into her brother’s strong bear hug.

“I’m a fuckup and a total prick,” he murmured in her ear, keeping his voice soft, she suspected, so that her mother wouldn’t hear the kind of language he was using. “Say you’ll forgive me.”

“A guy can’t help what he is,” she said softly, cutting her eyes up at him with a devilish glint.

He laughed. “I’m glad you’re going to be around for a long, long time, Dana Katherine.”

She looked up at him, surprised by the confidence she heard in his voice.

He gave her a little squeeze. “Your…partner…is very persuasive.”

Scully glanced over at Mulder. He made a little shrugging motion.

Scully eased away from her brother’s embrace. “Daniel wouldn’t go to sleep unless his Uncle Bill tucked him in, and he’s getting pretty cranky, so why don’t you and Tara go read him a bedtime story and I’ll help mom pour that peppermint tea she’s got warming on the stove.” She squeezed his hand and gave him a push in the direction of the guest bedrooms.

Mulder crossed to her side, searching her expression with a bemused half-smile. “Damn, Scully, weren’t you a little easy on him? Didn’t even pull your gun and scare him a little.”

She waved her hand dismissively. “He’s just family. I save my bullets for the love of my life.”

A ridiculously happy grin exploded across his face. “God, I love it when you talk tough.” He glanced around them. The living room had emptied, Margaret having followed Bill and Tara going back to the guest bedroom to say goodnight to the children. He took another step closer, his knees brushing against her lower thighs. “How long do you think they’ll be back there?”

“Depends on what you have in mind.”

He bent his head and brushed his lips against her temple. “I have a lot in mind. I’m just not sure I want to do it in your mother’s living room with your big, burly brother within earshot.”

“Wimp,” she murmured, darting her tongue against his throat.

He pulled her against him, pressing his hips against hers. She felt the growing evidence of her effect on him. “Are you taunting me, Scully?”

She nipped at the thick tendon at the side of his neck. He tasted clean and male. “I’m seducing you.”

“Shameless.” He dipped his head and found her lips with his own. His tongue slid across hers, hot and sweet.

She opened her mouth and took him in. A thrill rippled through her at the thought of how reckless they were being, playing this game with her mother and brother just down the hall. They could come back at any minute….

He curled his fingers in her hair, moving his hips restlessly against hers. She suckled his tongue lightly and reached between their bodies to curve her palm over his growing arousal. She broke the kiss and stroked him through his jeans. “Have I told you lately how impressed I am by your unflagging enthusiasm for your work?”

He thrust against her hand, once, twice. “Get me out of here now, Scully, before your mother walks in on this.”

She chuckled and closed her hand over him more tightly. “And here I thought you were a danger junkie, Mulder.”

“Scullyyy.” Her name ended on a hissing moan.

She released him and stepped back, gracing him with her favorite enigmatic smile, knowing that there was nothing Mulder loved more than a mystery. “I’ll go tell Mom we’re leaving. You go get a head start getting your apartment in some kind of order.”

“My apartment?” He quirked his eyebrow.

“It’s ten minutes closer.” She left him in the living room and went to say their goodbyes.

“Already?” her mother asked, turning to give her a hug.

She nodded. “I’m ready for bed.”

Bill made a strangled noise in the corner. She glanced at him, trying not to break into a childish fit of the giggles. Funny how being around family could make her feel like she was ten years old again.

Mulder was already gone by the time she got back to the living room. She chuckled to herself. Eager beaver.


His place was a mess, more from lack of attention than any sort of proactive mess-making. And there was the problem of the bed. Or the lack thereof. For that reason alone, they always spent their time together at Scully’s place, in her firm yet soft double bed, never more than a few seconds away from edible food. He wasn’t even sure he had any food in his place. Not that he was really thinking much about food right now.

Okay, Mulder, focus.

Move the papers off the sofa. Dust the leather cushions— should he put a blanket over the sofa? Would that be more comfortable?

The fish were giving him accusatory looks, reminding him that he hadn’t fed them yesterday or today. He poured fish flakes into the aquarium and watched as the fish attacked the floating meal like a school of piranhas.

His heart was pounding. He was sweating. He was like a kid on his first date—which was just plain ridiculous, considering the fact that he’d made wild, passionate love with Dana Scully less than two hours earlier.

God, he loved her.

Keys rattled in his door. His whole body hummed in response to the soft, jingling sound. He forgot to breathe.

Scully burst through the door and slammed it shut behind her. She was breathing hard as if she had run all the way from her car, and her hair was wild and windblown. She turned the deadbolt behind her and strode through the small foyer into the living room, shedding her jacket on the way. It fell to the floor behind her. Her gray sweat pants followed with almost mind-bending speed. She tossed her purse on the coffee table. “I hope you’re not in the mood for much foreplay,” she declared, pulling her Terrapins sweatshirt over her head and flinging it toward the corner.

Yep, he loved her. “Do you know how many men pay good money to hear a woman say that?”

She chuckled and pushed him down onto the couch. She unsnapped her bra, tossed it in the general direction of her sweat shirt, and straddled his lap. “Mulder, you are way over-dressed. Didn’t I send you ahead to get ready?”

“I was dusting—”

She silenced him with a kiss, pulling the tails of his shirt out of his jeans. Her small, talented tongue darted and danced against his, setting off little explosions of light behind his eyes.

She had great hands. Small, strong, deft. She made quick work of the buttons of his shirt, divesting him of the garment without once removing her mouth from his. She unzipped his jeans and tugged insistently until he lifted his hips to allow her to remove them as well. Now they were skin to skin, only the thin fabric of their underwear separating them.

She let him up for air, and he gasped. “God!”

There went her hand, diving for his lap. Small, expert fingers closing around him. His head felt like it was about to explode.

Both of them.

He clutched at her hips, trying to still their frantic dance across his lap, afraid he was about to pass the point of no return way too soon for her tastes and just a bit afraid of what she’d do to him if that happened.

She tightened her grip on him, and he saw stars. Big, bright, multicolored stars.

She said his name. Low. Needy. Silk over sandpaper.

How many nights had he spent here in this apartment, sprawled out on this black leather sofa, relieving his need for her with his own hand while he listened to her voice in his head? That voice, sometimes raised in anger, sometimes soft with compassion, always the one memory of her guaranteed to send him over the edge. Her voice had always been his touchstone, almost from the first. The mere sound of it over the phone grounded him, calmed him. And now that they were lovers, it was her voice, guttural and wordless in the throes of release, that gave him the most pleasure.

He tugged at her panties. A bit too hard. They tore at the seam. She chuckled in his ear. “Rip ‘em off, Mulder, you big strong hunk of man!”

He laughed and obeyed. Suddenly her sex lay across his thigh, hot and humid and soft. He drew a sharp, swift breath at the feel of her. She rocked against him, made a quiet, hissing sound in his ear.

He still wore the black silk boxers he’d changed into at Scully’s. That had to be remedied. Immediately.

He shifted, unbalancing Scully in the process. She slid up his lap and settled firmly against his erection. She groaned softly and pressed down hard against him.

“Scully—shorts—” He was subverbal now. His hips had begun to thrust against her of their own accord. Swift and hungry. She clutched at his shoulders and rocked against him. The friction of silk against his throbbing erection was amazing; Mulder stopped thinking and just rode the sensations, closing his mouth over the pulsing vein in her throat, sliding his hands over her hips and buttocks.

“Talk to me, Scully,” he murmured against her neck.

“What do you want me to say?” She was breathless, hoarse.

“What you always say to me. Tell me I’m crazy.”

“Mulder you’re crazy.” She nipped at his ear lobe.

“Scully, the government is hiding the truth about the existence of extraterrestrial life on earth.” He cupped her breasts, stroked the hardened nipples with his thumbs.

She arched her back and ground her hips to his. “There’s no evidence to support that theory, Mulder.” Her voice shook with laughter. “And you’re one sick puppy, Mulder!”

He twisted and rolled, pinning her beneath him on the sofa. “You love that about me.”

She grabbed the waistband of his shorts and tugged. Hard. “Yes. Yes I do.”

He wriggled free of the last barrier between their bodies and sank down against her. She was so hot. So ready. He ached at the feel of her.

Shit. His condoms were in the bathroom. He sighed and started to get up.

“My purse,” she murmured, groping toward the coffee table.

He grabbed the small black bag and thrust it in her hands. “Hurry, for God’s sake.”

She laughed and scrabbled through her purse. He tried to still the involuntary rocking of his hips against hers, cursing the whole concept of seemingly bottomless hand bags. When she made a little sound of triumph and produced the foil packet, he almost wept with relief.

He took it from her, ripped it open and handed her the condom. He had once rather rudely teased her about her predilection for snapping on the latex. Who would’ve guessed he’d turn out to be right? “Don’t dawdle,” he warned.

She didn’t. Her nimble fingers made quick work of the task, then guided him into her.

He groaned as she enveloped him. Pure heat. Tight as a second skin. He didn’t move for a long moment for fear that the first stroke would be his last.

When he felt sure he wouldn’t end things prematurely, he began to move, trying not to hurry.

But Scully was having none of it. “This is no time for finesse,” she growled, squeezing his buttocks. She set a faster pace, arching her back, flexing her inner muscles. And his control slipped away like sand in the surf. His heart hammered in his chest, his breathing quickened to hard, keening gasps. His whole consciousness became a narrow pinpoint of heat between his legs where their bodies joined. He closed his eyes and watched a brilliant display of colors bursting behind his eyes.

Suddenly, Scully let out a long, gravelly moan, and her body clenched around him like a fist, trembling and spasming. And as quickly, he shattered. Splintered. Flew apart. Unraveled. The sensations built, soared, spun, unwound. It seemed to last forever.

It ended too soon.

Finally, he lay, spent and limp, across her body. He shifted so that he wouldn’t crush her, dropping weak kisses along her throat and jawline.

She lifted her hand to his head and stroked the hair at his temple. “You okay?” she asked.

He nodded, rubbing his stubbly chin against her breast. “You?”

“Never better.”

He turned so that they lay spoon-style. He dragged the Navajo print blanket over them to shield them from the cool night air seeping through the casements of the apartment’s old windows. They lay there for a long time, just breathing in unison, their hands twined, his lips in her hair.

“Some night, huh?” she asked some time later.

“Finally met your brother.” He rubbed his sore lip thoughtfully. “I think I liked him better when I didn’t think he really existed.”

She chuckled. “You never did tell me where you found him.”

Mulder sighed.

She turned in his arms so she could look at him. “What is it?”

“He was at the cemetery. Visiting Melissa’s grave.”

She sighed. “Oh.”

“He doesn’t blame you, Scully. That was just bullshit talking.”

She nodded. “I know. Remember, Mulder, I’ve known Bill my whole life. I know he can be a jerk sometimes.”

“But he’s still your brother.” He nodded, understanding.

“Looked like you two formed a truce, huh?”

He shrugged. “He’s never going to be my biggest fan.”

“Mulder, he’s my big brother. You could be perfect and Bill wouldn’t like you.”

He turned and gave her a pout. “You mean I’m not perfect? You WOUND me, Scully.”

She smiled slightly, tracing the puckered scar tissue on the old bullet wound in his shoulder. “But always for your own good.”

Chuckling, he wrapped his arms around her, tucking her firmly against him. “You are good for me.”

“We’re good for each other.” She nuzzled her nose against his throat, dropped a light kiss against his collarbone.

Her hair drifted across his face, smelling like freesias and some secret, vital essence that was Scully. He breathed deeply, taking her into him just as she had taken him into her earlier.

He could feel her heart beating against his chest. Steady. Strong.

Like a metronome, counting out the seconds of his life.

Unbidden, his own words whispered through his mind. Words he’d spoken to Scully one early morning in the corridor of the Allentown-Bethlehem Medical Center.

“The truth will save you, Scully. I think it’ll save both of us.”

I want to believe….

He kissed the top of her head and curled himself more tightly around her, as if forming a fortress that no one and nothing could ever breach to take her from him.

The End.


Heart of Midnight by Anne Haynes

DISCLAIMER: The characters found in this story belong to Chris Carter, 1013 Productions and the Fox Network. I mean no infringement.

This is a vignette set in the HEARTS series universe, in which Mulder and Scully are already involved in a romantic relationship. Spoilers for “Gethsemane,” “Redux” and “Redux II.”

Category: V, A, MSR

Rated: R for sexual content

All other information withheld at the author’s request


“Heart of Midnight” by Anne Haynes

“Between the lips and the voice something goes dying

Something with the wings of a bird,

something of anguish and oblivion.

The way nets cannot hold water.”

– Pablo Neruda; “I Have Gone Marking”


He slept in her living room, his body stretched out over the blue and white striped sofa like an overgrown puppy beginning to overwhelm the confines of his box. She found herself drawn to him in the small hours of the morning, when her own healing body could take no more bed rest and forced inactivity. She came here to watch him dream, to hear her name on his lips in the still, blue shadows of the night.

She had no doubts about his love. Even in the maelstrom of despair, when she’d been sure that their relationship could bear no more of the stresses that threatened to shatter them, she’d never doubted his love. It suffused him, made him who he was as surely as flesh and bone.

Did he have doubts about hers?

She had spoken words, in the depths of her hopelessness and outrage, that could not be easy to forgive. She could say with honesty that she’d not meant them as words of blame for the disease that had almost claimed her life. She had only meant to force him to see what was happening to them, how his reckless, passionate quest for the answers he wanted to hear had led him astray from the real truth. The cancer had been meant, not as a warning to Mulder, but as an attempt to destroy the only person who could make him see the truth they never wanted him to know.

But Mulder had heard an accusation. She should have known he would. She should have found a different way to tell him.

She crouched by the sofa, her legs aching with the unaccustomed strain. She was so weak still, her once powerful body only now beginning to recover from the ravages of disease. She felt frail and dried out, like an autumn leaf left to wither in the chill of winter. She was getting better—every test indicated an almost miraculous recovery—but she wanted to be whole again. Now, not in a few weeks or a few months.

She wanted to be the woman Mulder had made love with in this room, the woman who’d shattered beneath his touch and shattered him with her touch.

But so much had passed between them since then. The cancer.

Mulder’s escalating desperation. Her own crisis of faith. She had known loving Mulder would be a challenge. He was not an easy man to know, and she was not an easy woman. That they had found each other was a miracle as amazing as whatever it had been that turned around the cancer consuming her body.

But she’d never considered that it would be so hard to find her way all the way back to him now, when the world seemed suddenly rich with possibility.

Not loving him was never an option. Not being with him was inconceivable. But in this time of joy, of rediscovery, this time of reprieve, they had thus far been unable to take the final step back to each other.

Mulder tread the periphery of her life—sleeping on her sofa, tending to her recovery, showering her with a thousand kindnesses she’d never imagined him capable of. But he hadn’t stepped back into the circle of her love. And for reasons she couldn’t fathom, here in the heart of the night, neither had she opened the door and bid him enter.

In the end, it was as simple as reaching out to touch him. In the river of moonlight drifting through the windows, her hand moved over his sleep-soft cheek like a revenant, translucent and shimmery pale. He shivered slightly at the touch, then jerked awake, his eyes wide and disoriented.

“Shhh,” she soothed him, stroking his cheek.

“Scully—” He studied her face, his gaze a caress that warmed her skin. “What’s wrong?”

“Nothing.” Shaking her head slightly, she ran her thumb over his lower lip.

He stared at her, questions in his eyes.

She rose, wincing a bit as her weary body protested. Mulder was on his feet immediately, his tall, lean body seeming to fold itself over hers protectively. He smoothed his hand over her shoulder, the touch burning through the sapphire silk of her pajamas. He murmured her name again.

She lifted her gaze to his. “My feet are cold.”

She could see his mind processing, weighing, trying to regain the old rhythm between them that had begun to miss beats over the past few months. So much danger here, she realized with a frisson of anxiety. So easy to make the wrong step, upset the balance forever. Their path would never be free of ruts and stones—that was the kind of people they were and the kind of world in which they moved. But it was their path. She didn’t want to walk it alone.

She lifted her hand and curled her fingers around his. He squeezed her hand gently and lifted it to his lips. Such a simple gesture, she thought. Chaste, almost.


She wasn’t sure exactly what she was offering him beyond her love. The cancer had progressed so far before the remission, ravaging cells that were only now beginning to recover. She felt weak and tired and old, her skin still sallow and her muscles quivering as if she’d been running for miles. Maybe his touch would energize her, remind her body of what it once had known and would know again. Maybe in pleasing him, she would find new strength. Or maybe they would simply lie together, bodies spooned, and heal in their sleep.

She knew only that she could trust Mulder implicitly. Whatever happened now, it would be what was best for her. Mulder would make sure of it.

She turned, drawing him with her toward the door to her bedroom.

He followed behind, his bare feet padding quietly across the cool hardwood floor. Once in the room, she released his fingers and gave him a little nudge. He sat on the bed and gazed up at her, his face shadowy and mysterious in the gloom.

Bedhead, she thought affectionately, smoothing the wayward strands of hair. He leaned into her touch like a cat, rubbing his jaw against her wrist. His beard stubble rasped against her tender flesh, reminding her that she was alive.

He reached for her almost sleepily, his arms looping around her hips and pulling her against him. He rested his cheek against her breast, his breath warming the silk of her pajama top. “My feet are cold, too,” he murmured. His sleep-roughened voice rumbled through her like distant thunder.

She wriggled her bare toes against his. They WERE cold, she noted, smiling a little. “Why don’t we get under the covers, then?”

He stroked her back for a moment, as if he were unwilling to move out of their easy embrace. But after a moment, he let her go and slid under the quilt and comforter, making room for her to join him.

She curled into the snare of his outstretched arms, nuzzling his throat with her nose. Like old friends, their limbs intertwined, finding that which was familiar even after this time apart. His hips settled in the cradle of her thighs, and she felt the warm, heavy pressure of his sex against the softness of her own. A few small thrusts of her hips and she could have him ready and willing.

She smiled against his throat, reveling in the knowledge of that power. So much of her life had been beyond her control in the last few weeks. Even simple things like getting up to go to the bathroom or keeping down her dinner had been colossal tasks. So it was exciting to realize this moment of control, to know that she alone held the key to the next few minutes of her life. If she wanted him buried inside her, she could make it happen. If she wanted to simply lie there and fall asleep in his arms, she could make that happen as well.

He ran his hand down her back, his fingers tracing the ridges of her vertebrae. She shivered at his touch, realizing in that one brief frisson of need that her sense of control was an illusion.

His love unraveled her, reknitted her into a creature of light and air and joy. Her body sang with possession.

His lips brushed across her forehead, lingering for a moment on the ridge of bone that had harbored a time bomb, then skittered away, raining light kisses on her eyelids and her nose and her cheeks. Finally, he kissed her lips—once, twice, three times in light caresses. “I missed you.” His breath mingled with hers.

“I’m sorry,” she whispered. “I’m so—”

He silenced her with his mouth, stilling her tongue with his.

But even as his lips conquered and claimed her, his hips shifted out of the warm cradle of her own. He kissed her deeply, thoroughly, then pulled back slightly, his breath warm against her lips. “Tell me what you want.”

She threaded her fingers through his hair and drew him to her, turning so that his body pressed into the softness of her own. His body’s response was immediate and gratifying.

She smiled against his lips, feeling inexplicably strong.

He rolled away slightly and began to pluck at the buttons of her silk pajama top. The bedroom was slightly cool; her skin pebbled as he bared it to the night air and he smoothed his hands over her flesh to warm it. But when his fingers reached the bony ridges of her rib cage, he drew a sharp breath and froze.

She looked up at him, trying to read his face in the darkness.

“I’ve lost a lot of weight.” She kept her voice carefully neutral. “I’ll gain it back eventually.”

He was silent and still for a long, thick moment. Then slowly, carefully, he ran his fingers over her ribs, tracing each ridge and furrow. She closed her eyes and shivered, her body coming alive beneath his reverent touch. He skimmed the soft swell of her breasts, leaving fire in his wake. “I’ve missed you,” he repeated. The message was different this time. Visceral. He touched the hard, aching point of her right breast, eliciting a raw gasp from her throat. Her eyes flew open in time to see his small, triumphant smile. “Did you miss me?”

“Yes,” she breathed, not caring how weak and needy she sounded.

He smoothed his palm over her breasts, one at a time, curling his fingers to cup each swell. “Are you sure?”

She nodded, beyond words.

He flattened his palm against her breastbone and began to draw slow, gentle circles downward, over her ribs and across the valley of her abdomen. He slid her pajama bottoms down over her hips, and she kicked them away impatiently, needing him to touch more of her. All of her. She almost keened with relief when he curled his hand over the soft curve of her sex, pressing his fingers against her through the thin cotton sheath of her panties. He began to peel away her underwear, and she shifted to make it easier for him. But his fingers brushed over the too-prominent tip of her hip bone and faltered once again.

She reached down and closed her fingers over his. “I won’t break,” she promised.

He met her reassuring gaze, fear and need waging a fierce battle in his shadowed face.

She released his hand and reached up to cup his jaw, drawing him down to her kiss. She kissed him deeply, tasting him, devouring him, inflaming him. To her relief, he slipped his hand between her thighs and found her center with skill born of familiarity.

She arched against his touch, her body surging. Her blood sang in her veins. This is what it is to be alive, she thought.

Tears of wonder squeezed from her eyes and trickled down her cheeks.

Mulder withdrew his hand for a moment, reaching over to the bedside table. She caught his hand and shook her head. “Not tonight,” she said softly.

He stared down at her, his eyes as dark as the heart of midnight.

She reached out and touched his cheek gently, knowing that her next words would hurt them both. “We both know protection isn’t necessary, don’t we?”

His eyes glittered, and he dipped his head, releasing a soft, ragged breath.

“It’s okay,” she whispered, curling her arms around his waist and pulling him down over her. She opened her thighs, cradling his hips. Through the fabric of his sweat pants, his erection pressed against her center, driving away the crush of sadness.

Later, there would be time to worry about what was wrong. Right now, she needed what was right.

This was right.

She tugged at the waistband of his sweats. He joined her effort, sliding them down over his narrow hips until nothing touched her skin but his.

She took a swift, deep breath, going utterly still.

Slowly, so slowly she feared she would cry out from the exquisite torture, he entered her. Flesh to flesh for the first time. She heard a soft, keening groan and had no idea whether it had come from her or from him. She knew only the fullness of him, the way her body clung to him, holding him there in its warm cradle as if he were part of her.

He bent and kissed her, his lips barely brushing against hers, a simple kiss somehow more moving, more shattering than any she’d ever known. Inexorably, their bodies joined the ancient dance, hearts drumming in intricate syncopation to primal rhythm of life. His gentleness broke her heart; she kneaded the corded muscles of his back, wordlessly giving him permission to abandon himself to his need. But he relentlessly pursued her pleasure, coaxing her body to a joyous new pulse. She soared, clasping him in her arms to bring him with her. They danced together in heaven for a long, kinetic moment before plummeting back to earth to drown in the liquid aftermath of passion.

Much later, Mulder was the first to move, shifting to curl his body protectively around hers. Limbs tangling, hearts still thudding in tandem, they lay spooned together in comfortable silence in the dark. Scully’s eyes began to drift shut, sleep beckoning her tired body even as she struggled to stay awake to savor one more perfect moment. She curled her fingers through Mulder’s, clasping his hand to her belly. His lips pressed against the back of her neck, and she smiled. “You okay?”

He chuckled against her skin. “I’ll live—I think. How about you?”

“I think I’ll live, too.”

She felt the slightest tension ripple through him at her words, a reminder of what he’d gone through over the past couple of weeks. But she didn’t apologize. If she and Mulder were ever to recover from her illness, they had to let go of the fear. Yes, she knew that “remission” didn’t equal “cure.” But her prognosis was good—Dr. Zuckerman had been amazed at her progress. And she couldn’t waste a single precious moment worrying about what might go wrong.

She squeezed his hand, tucking herself more firmly into the curve of his body. “Matter of fact, I feel so good, I think I’m going to go to work tomorrow.”

“No, Scully.”

She arched her eyebrows. “Funny—I don’t recall asking a question.”

“Your doctor said you should take a month to recuperate.”

“He also said that I could do whatever I felt up to doing—that I’d know what my body could handle.” She jutted her chin slightly. “I’m not asking to go on field assignment yet, but considering how crazy the past few weeks have been, I’m sure there are any number of forms that need to be filled out and filed. And I can check in at Quantico, see if I might be needed on any pathology consultations.” She lifted his hand to her lips and kissed his knuckle lightly. “I need to work, Mulder. We both need to get back to some sort of normal routine.”

She gauged his silence, trying to read his thoughts in the slight tension of his arms around her and the whisper of his breath against her neck. Finally, he nipped her earlobe gently and murmured, “Wanna carpool?”

She smiled. “Do I get to drive?”

“So demanding!” He sucked lightly on the tendon on the side of her neck, disentangling his hand from hers to slide it over her abdomen and into the curls at the juncture of her thighs. One finger dipped into her center, and she drew a swift breath. All drowsiness disappeared in a single, hard shudder of need, and Mulder’s soft laughter rumbled in her ear. “I like that about you, Scully.”

“You’re just trying to wear me out so I’ll be too tired to go to work tomorrow,” she protested without much conviction.

His fingers worked slow, languorous magic on her body. “I could probably take a personal day myself.”

“You’re playing dirty now, Mulder.” His name escaped on a swift, breathy groan as he touched a particularly sensitive spot.

“It’s what I do best.”

Her body arching beneath his caress, she had to agree.

– End –


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