Rumor & Bartering Contentment by Beduini

Rumor + Bartering Contentment cover

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Rumor + Bartering Contentment cover

Rumor by Beduini

Rating: R

Category: If I wrote it, it’s gotta be MSR.

Spoilers: Hungry, FTF, End Game, Biogenesis, Amor Fati, Orison.

Archive: Ask me before archiving so I know where it’s going. I like to visit them on birthdays and holidays.

Disclaimer: Basically, I have no legal right to be doing this. I admit it. As I’m not making any money from my effort, what difference does it make?

Marty did the beta. Thanks, Marty!

This is dedicated to my bestest friend Karooni, who doesn’t believe me when I tell her that I still have her Christmas and birthday presents sitting on top of my piano. Maybe by Valentine’s Day, Wom!


It started like many rumors do – in the ladies room on the sixth floor. This time it happened to be during the five-minute break between departmental speakers in the first quarterly review of the new Millennium.

While re-applying her lipstick Special Agent Henry commented to Special Agent DeLuca about the noticeable marks on Special Agent Scully’s right cheekbone and forehead, and the bruising around her left eye. DeLuca added that Scully clearly seemed uncomfortable throughout the first two presenters. Although they were all a little bored with the financial projections laid out by the tax division, they speculated that perhaps the reason Scully was so uncomfortable was because her injuries extended beyond what could not be covered by her clothing.

After the break, when everyone who was supposed to be in the review was present, Scully’s partner Special Agent Fox Mulder got up and gave a brief overview of the cases he and Scully had opened during the first quarter. Although he received a few snickers at the mention of a successfully closed case involving a cannibalistic young man with extraordinary physical characteristics working at a fast food restaurant in Orange County, California, everyone took the sight of his physical appearance very seriously. As light and charming as his delivery was, he never stood completely straight, seemingly hunched over stiffly at the lower back. His face was marked with a slightly swollen, split lip, and Agents Henry and DeLuca whispered with Agent Carlson about the fact that there appeared to be a small tuft of hair missing from the right side of his head.

By mid-morning the speculation had grown, fueled by the sight of Scully limping out of the meeting, steadfastly refusing the arm offered to her by her partner. He remained close without touching her, just in case. At any rate, she appeared to be leaning toward him, without leaning toward him (if such a thing were possible) commented Agent Carlson to Agent Lopez back in the bullpen.

Over burgers and beer at lunch a group of agents, including Agent Lopez, began discussing the less-than-the-usual-polished appearance of Scully and Mulder that day, their conversation turning to previous scrapes and bruises suffered by the X Files team. There was that time he went to Antarctica and pulled her half dead out of the snow. Another time, a couple of years back, when she pulled him half dead out of the snow. No, Agent Rosen countered, the military pulled him out of the snow and she stuck him back into a tub filled with ice, somehow saving his life. Not to mention Mulder’s mysterious illness and the emergency brain surgery last fall. Gunshot wounds, abductions, murdered family members, fires…even that fetishist escaped from prison to have another go at Scully just weeks ago.

The group agreed that they’d seen more action than any ten agents in the violent crimes and drug enforcement units combined and on that distinction alone they had been elevated to nearly legendary status in the eyes of their peers. As the hour wore on, more incidents were cited, and it became glaringly clear…

…Mulder and Scully had more lives than Morris the cat. And they had to be nearing the top of the ninth.

Just after lunch the story that had been shaped by the cigarette crowd, of which Agent Rosen was a part, was one of intrigue and conspiracy, with deadly consequences. Mulder and Scully had evidently ventured out over the weekend into another unknown unsolved case from which they’d narrowly escaped with their lives. Something of the utmost secrecy and carrying global significance.

Assistant Director Jana Cassidy was indulging in her own unsolved dilemma, having gone all morning without the sweet taste of tobacco or the soothing rush of nicotine.

Quitting smoking was a bitch.

Standing unseen on her own, she listened as she drew deeply from the filtered phallus between her lips, feeling her body hum with the narcotic pumping through her veins. Mulder and Scully running off unauthorized, digging around into God knows what. She could only imagine what the explanations would be this time. Surely not bees carrying an alien virus again.

Stubbing out her cigarette, she blew out the last glorious puff of smoke and made her way inside to find out if there was any truth to the rumor.

Assistant Director Walter Skinner was sitting at his desk in white shirtsleeves when she walked in, his glasses perched on the edge of his nose. He looked up, blinking at her a moment, before turning back to the papers in front of him. “Jana.” He said evenly.


“To what do I owe the pleasure?” His voice held a hint of sarcasm, and he didn’t look back up at her as she took a seat opposite him, crossing her legs as she studied him.

“How are things with the X Files these days?”

Walter Skinner paused, his hand hovering over the document on his desk, and let out a breath of air, looking up at her.

“Why do you ask?”

She shrugged nonchalantly. “I heard part of Agent Mulder’s presentation this morning. From the sound of it, things have been pretty busy.”

He put down his pen, took off his glasses and pinched his nose between his thumb and index finger, clenching his eyes shut at the same time. After a moment he replaced his glasses.

“What have you heard.” It was a question, but the way he said it, it sounded more like a statement. Direct and to the point, just like him. He didn’t look at her.

“Just a rumor.”

He sighed and made direct eye contact, nodding slightly. “Still trying to give up cigarettes?”

She let out an impatient huff and rolled her eyes, having been caught indulging in her narcotic of choice. “Oh for God’s sake, Walter, cut the dance routine and talk to me. We used to be able to talk.”

Back when they had both indulged in two packs a day, he mused. His shoulders relaxed ever so slightly and he looked down at his desk a moment, then back at her. “You know there’s nothing in the guidelines that prohibits them from seeing each other outside of the office.”

She sat up with interest, her eyebrow quirked. “They’re sleeping together?”

He sat back in his chair, exhaling long and slow, his face carefully unreadable. “I don’t know. You said you heard a rumor, I assumed that was the standard rumor that has made the rounds from time to time over the last seven years.”

She smiled at him. “So are they?”

His response was solid, like steel, and still unreadable. “I don’t know. I don’t think so.”

She looked at him a moment longer, knowing he was telling her the truth. “That’s not the rumor I heard today. The rumor I heard today was that Agents Mulder and Scully were out sleuthing over the weekend and exposed themselves into a significant amount of danger. The kind of danger that seems to follow them around more than any pair of agents I’ve ever seen since I’ve been at the Bureau.”

He sat up again, his eyes boring into hers. “What kind of danger?”

“Did you look at them this morning, Walter? They look like they’ve been to Hell and back. What in God’s name are they working on?”

He folded his hands together on the desk. “Nothing that I’m aware of. But with Mulder you never know. He…attracts…certain cases like shit attracts flies.”

“I understand they’re driven, but they’re not twenty anymore, and this lifestyle is taking its toll on them.”

He let out a soft snort. “None of us are twenty anymore. What aren’t you telling me, Jana? What do you know?”

“Nothing. If I did, I wouldn’t be here now, would I?” She sat back, their eyes holding a familiar challenge in a time-worn game of cat and mouse as they stared each other down.

He sighed. “What do you want me to do? I can’t forbid them from investigating leads on their own time.”

She nodded. “What’s it going to take, Walter? Watching them run off together into the sunset until one of them doesn’t make it back? Presenting the flag to her at his funeral?” She paused for effect. “Or to him at hers, perhaps?” She noted the way he clenched his teeth, his jaw twitching, and her long-held suspicion was confirmed. Hard-assed Walter Skinner, ex-Marine and Vietnam Vet, held a soft spot for Special Agent Dana Scully. How soft that spot was would have to be determined over time. Something more to ponder on her cigarette breaks, maybe.

She stood, offering him a look that told him to think about intervention, and without another word walked out of the office, leaving him with his teeth clenched and the vein on the side of his head throbbing.

When the door closed behind her, he let out a sigh. He really didn’t need any of this bullshit today, but considering the history of the X Files and it’s investigative team, he knew he had better look into it before whatever it was they were involved in this time bit him in the ass.

Bypassing his assistant, Assistant Director Skinner picked up his phone and called down to the basement to arrange a meeting.

Scully picked up the call.

Skinner wanted to see her and Mulder in his office ASAP. When she hung up the telephone, she looked at Mulder, who nodded as she stared solemnly back at him. Without a word they stood and made their way out the door, her limp no less evident than it was that morning.

They stood side by side in the elevator, both leaning against the back of the car, facing forward. She looked sideways up at him, and he glanced down, his eyes confirming his assurance. He offered a hint of smile, which she returned, barely, as the doors opened to allow several more passengers into the car.

Scully’s stride was purposeful as she entered Assistant Director Skinner’s office, in spite of the limp. She bypassed the A.D.‘s Assistant without hesitation, Kimberly glancing up but not stopping her. After several years on the job, she was more than accustomed to being left out of the loop when it came to these two particular agents.

Mulder was directly behind Scully, and as they took their seats Scully noticed that the A.D. was taking in their appearance with unusual scrutiny. She raised her chin, and looking him steadily in the eye, said, “Sir.” She was determined that she wouldn’t be the weak link, not giving anything away.

Mulder’s jaw was clenched as he sat, and echoed her ‘Sir’ with his own.

Skinner let out a long breath of air, looking them over a moment longer. “Agents.”

They were silent for an uncomfortable amount of time, Mulder’s boundless energy limited to the wagging of one expensively clad foot. Finally, Skinner cleared his throat and addressed them again. “Word is you two were involved in something…unusual…over the weekend.”

Scully’s lips pursed, and Mulder stared back at him with a poker face. “Care to elaborate on that speculation, Sir?” He said without inflection.

Skinner stared back at him, calling his bluff. “What I mean, Agent Mulder, is you two look like shit.” His voice softened, taking on the tone of a caring father as opposed to a hard-nosed Drill Seargent. “I’ve seen you look worse, but not by much. What the Hell is going on?”

Scully’s eyes darted over to Mulder’s face for a brief instant before she looked down and shifted stiffly in her seat. She had maintained that it was nobody’s business, but if it came up they should tell the truth. Mulder argued to the contrary, stating that the truth would bring on more trouble than they needed right now. So she remained silent, deferring the explanation to him.

Mulder wasn’t sure what he was going to say. Images came unbidden to his mind, almost like a psychedelic high-speed slide show that played constantly in his head, but he was afraid to stop and dwell on for more than just a few fleeting moments. There was a dark alley, and the smell of filth and piss and vomit, and the retreating footsteps of a less-than reliable informant. There was snow and Scully’s full Irish fury directed completely at him in her deadly blue eyes. There was his own anger and frustration and an un- censored remark and then there was the feel of her fist solidly connecting with his face and the wet, metallic taste of blood.

Skinner seemed to read the unspoken unity between the two, and focused his attention on Scully first. His voice was firm, but there was a gentleness to it when he addressed her. “Agent Scully?”

Scully looked up at him, her eyes less defiant but still not giving anything away. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.” She replied. Her delivery was good, but knowing Scully for as long as he had, he recognized her evasive tactic for what it was.

Skinner let out a huff, and after a moment, he said, “Alright, Scully, you can go.”

Scully glanced at Mulder. He met her gaze briefly before she stood and limped out of the office.

Fox Mulder knew interrogation. He knew interrogation like the back of his hand, and he knew that separating him and Scully was the obvious tactic…but it wasn’t going to work in this case. He wasn’t up for sharing his experience.

Skinner stood and walked around his desk until he was directly in front of Mulder. Leaning back against the desk, he crossed his arms and looked at him.

“Am I going to be receiving a visit from our smoking friend over this?” He asked, exhaling in preparation for the answer to hit him in the solar plexus.

Mulder bit the inside of his cheek thoughtfully. “I don’t think so.”

Skinner reached out his hand and grabbed Mulder’s chin between his thumb and forefinger, turning the agent’s head to examine the quarter-sized bald spot his left side. Scully had apologized more than once for that, of course. He kind of liked the way she bit her lip when she looked at it, because it was one of the rare times when he knew without a doubt what she was thinking.

Skinner dropped his hand and crossed his arms once again. “Stand up.”

Mulder looked up at him, then stood, wincing as the tender skin on his back stretched with the effort. With a few crackles and a fair amount of pain it straightened, all under the careful supervision of the Assistant Director. Mulder sucked on his upper lip, looking at the door and the picture of Janet Reno on the wall – anything to avoid Skinner’s gaze.

“I suppose you’re going to tell me the other guy looks worse.” Skinner commented.

One side of Mulder’s mouth turned up in a smirk at the A.D.‘s choice of words. The ‘other guy’ was a petite redhead with a fair complexion that forgave nothing. Her eye was black from the solid connection it made with the bone and gristle of his shoulder. So yeah, the ‘other guy’ looked much worse.

“You could say that.” Mulder replied, still smirking. He recalled every one of the purple and blue marks his partner wore like a badge of courage. There was no doubt she was as tough as she was tenacious, and to her dismay he’d taken to calling her ‘Scrappy-Doo’ when no one else was around.

‘If I’m Scrappy-Doo, Mulder, who does that make you? Shaggy?’ She asked as she turned her full, irritated countenance upon him.

The only thing he could think of to say to that was ‘zoinks’. Then he’d pointed to the bald spot on his head and her countenance crumbled.

He was vaguely aware that Skinner was still staring at him, and caught his full attention when he said, “take off your shirt.”

Mulder’s mouth opened a moment before twisting into another sarcastic smirk. “I didn’t realize I was your type.” He quipped, loosening the knot in his tie.

“Just shut up and do it, or I get Kimberly in here to chaperone.” Skinner said with annoyance.

The indirect lighting wasn’t much for examination, but there were several more marks on Mulder’s chest and arms, notably two large, roundish red and yellow scrapes on both of his elbows. Skinner pulled his arm up and examined the marks more closely, chewing on the inside of his cheek as he did so. They were different from the the dark scab on his his lip. However, they were similar to the marks on Scully’s cheek and forehead. For the Assistant Director a picture was beginning to appear, and like a polaroid, the image grew clearer the longer you watched it.

Skinner had moved around behind him and Mulder knew there would be no hiding the evidence that the A.D. would find there. Closing his eyes, he stood still, waiting for the inevitable. Damnation or absolution.

Skinner let out a long, slow breath.

There were eight long scratches across Mulder’s back, four over each shoulder blade. Not enough to draw blood initially, but the break in skin caused an eventual scab to form just the same. Just above those there were eight corresponding crescent-shaped red marks. And above that, on the right tendon running from his neck to his shoulder, was the unmistakable red and purple bruise that can be attributed to only one thing.


He hadn’t felt it at the time. Just seconds after her fist had collided with his face Mulder had shoved Scully against the alley wall, eyes blazing and nostrils flaring. Then all Hell broke loose and they were flailing, pushing, clawing and devouring each other, seven long years of attraction, devotion and unresolved sexual tension exploding in their faces. They’d resolved it right then in their overcoats, against the alley wall, her pantyhose and panties ripped from her body and discarded in the dirty snow and his pants and boxers down around his ankles. Neither gave a second or even a first thought to the filth and the smell, or that fact that someone might discover them at any moment. She’d marked him with her mouth and her hands and her scent and he’d done the same, possessing and claiming what had always been promised but never delivered.

They’d taken it home to Scully’s, the unbelievably warm space in front of her fireplace and the slow erotic pace the complete antithesis of their previous encounter. Not the emotion, though. She laved over his swollen lip as she murmured her apologies while his fingers gently traced the swelling flesh around her eye. She worshiped him with her mouth, and with the preservation of his tender back in mind he told her to roll over, pushing her into the unforgiving rug underneath them as they lost themselves in each other for the second time that evening.

He wore his battle scars like a crown, for they were unrefutable proof that it had happened. When the Assistant Director stepped back around his desk and sat down without making eye contact, he pulled his shirt on silently, his head held high. The shirt was buttoned, the tails tucked in and the tie looped over his head when Skinner asked quietly, “the limp?”

Mulder’s proud face softened, his eyes warm and the corners of his mouth turned up in a gentle smile as he shrugged. “I don’t always look where I step.”

Skinner paused, then picked up his pen and began writing on the document in front of him, a slight flush across his face and head. After a moment, without looking up, he said, “that will be all, Agent.”

Kimberly looked up from her monitor as Agent Mulder stepped out of the office, closing the door behind him. He said ‘hi’ with a polite smile as he swiftly passed by, and she returned the smile with a polite smile of her own, turning back to the computer screen.

In all of the years she’d worked with Assistant Director Skinner, she thought she’d seen it all. People coming and going, some she knew, some she didn’t. The Assistant Director remained calm through it all, and she could count on one hand the number of times she’d seen him lose his composure. Most of those incidents involved either Agent Mulder or Agent Scully or both, so it was less of a surprise for her to hear an unusual sound filtering out to her through the door of his office, considering the circumstances.

She’d heard the rumors that were circulating around the Bureau, and she’d seen the damage on Agents Mulder and Scully. She knew it was only a matter of time before they would be called up to the boss’s office for an explanation. But the sound coming from the Assistant Director’s office was so unusual, so foreign, that she stood up and walked over to the door, pressing her ear against it and knocking gently before stepping inside.

“Sir?” She said tentatively, her face covered in concern as she stood in the doorway, her hand still on the doorknob.

The Assistant Director sat in his chair, his back turned to the door and his broad shoulders shaking silently. Kimberly took a step closer, then hesitated. “Sir?” She said again, a little louder.

Then she heard the unusual noise again, it’s tenor growing louder and stronger until the Assistant Director turned in his chair and faced her, his teeth flashing in a straight white line as he laughed a full-bellied, out and out rolling laugh that made his upper body shake.

“What is it, Kim?” He asked with a grin, his eyes shining mirthfully behind round lenses, still chuckling to himself.

“Is everything alright?” She asked, smiling, although her face still showed her puzzlement.

“Everything is just fine.” He replied, turning back to his desk as the last of the chuckles escaped his chest. “Wrong damn rumor.” He said under his breath, chuckling again.

“Sir?” Kimberly said, not quite understanding.

He drew in a deep breath and let it out, regaining his composure. “It’s nothing, Kim.”

She paused, her mouth pressed into a non-committal line, and turned to leave.

“Oh…Kim?” The Assistant Director called just as she was starting to close the door.

“Yes, Sir?” She said, stepping into the office once more.

“Send a box of chocolates up to Assistant Director Cassidy with this message; ‘Next time have a chocolate instead’.”

Kimberly’s brow furrowed, but she recovered quickly. “Anything else, Sir?”

He looked up, giving her a kind smile. “That will be all.”

She stepped out of the office once more, closing the door behind her.


She drew in a breath and let it out slowly, and with a shake of her head, sat back down in front of her computer to finish her current project before looking up the number of the nearest confectioner that delivers.

Okay, first of all, I have to apologize for yet another cartoon reference. Between work and a two year-old who shouts ‘cartee toons!’ in my face the minute I walk in the door, these types of references more readily spring to mind of late.

Watch for my next story, an X-Files/Rugrats crossover. Mulder and Scully get called in to investigate the strange abduction of Tommy Pickles and Mulder relates it to the abduction of his missing sister. Scully struggles with the emotional strain of dealing with Angelica and the memory of her lost daughter, Emily. Chuckie is the only one who can help them, effectively overcoming his fear of the potty in the process.


The idea for this story came from that commercial that morphs every couple of seconds slightly changing the perspective each time (car commercial I think, the one that plays a rip-off, legal or otherwise, of The Nails’ 88 Lines About 44 Women). Does it work for you? And a quote I read which may or may not have been from Gillian Anderson – something about her imagining that ‘it’ would probably occur following an explosion rather than from any romantic event after all these years. If you know of the specific quote and can confirm its source, please let me know!


Bartering Contentment by Beduini 

Rating: NC-17

Catgory: S, MSR, A, DAL

Keywords: Mulder/Scully

Spoilers: Triangle, The Unnatural, Amor Fati, SUZ

Disclaimer: I don’t have a legal leg to stand on as far as the intellectual property of Fox is concerned. However, having died in 1616, Mr. Shakespeare is easily public domain.

Summary: Turning fledgling physical intimacy into a relationship you can wear every day.

This is a sequel to the story “Rumor” which you should read for continuity even though you don’t have to. Go ahead, read it. It has smut, too:

Archives: Kimberly yes, if you want it; Chronicle X yes, if you want it; Haven yes, if you want it. All others – you know I want to hear from you first so I can claim visitation rights. Thanks!

For Kerri, because she asked.


Bartering Contentment by Beduini

The way he remembered it, her eyes burned like blue fire in the inky darkness.

She was practically standing on top of him, her face mere millimeters from his own. She was using psychology, compensating for being smaller by invading his personal space.

Two can play that game, he thought, grabbing her shoulders and spinning her around, pinning her against the wall without even thinking about the larger implications of his actions.

She didn’t flinch beyond the initial surprise, her anger turning into purple fury when she realized that he’d used his physical advantage.

“Let go.” She spoke very low, her voice lethal as her azure eyes bored into his.

“Why? So you can hit me again?” he said through clenched teeth, his words clipped and his breath coming in short bursts through his nostrils. She’d struck him once before, if his memory of a pre- World War II Scully on a Nazi-controlled British luxury liner was to be believed.

He’d expected it then. But that was a sock in the jaw.

His lip felt hot and tight from the swelling, the metallic tang of blood on his tongue his reminder that what he was doing was acceptable, pinning her against the wall – that she had struck him first. He couldn’t take his eyes off of hers, the way they glowed, burning icy fires straight into him.

She ran her tongue along the inside of her cheek, her hot steely eyes refusing to leave his. “Let. Go.” She said again, her voice harder.

His eyes reflected her determination back at her. “No.”

Her emotions boiled over, overruling her self-control as she twisted in his grip, letting out an impatient huff. She wasn’t afraid of him, despite the fact that he had sixty pounds or more and ten inches of height on her. “I mean it, Mulder! Let go!”

His composure remained intact, although he felt nowhere near being in control. “No.” There was a hint of sadistic pleasure coursing through him with the knowledge that he held the advantage and there was nothing that she could do about it.

She had struck him.

Suddenly, she stilled, her muscles growing limp as she seemed to stop fighting. It was a fake, he knew. Scully was a fighter, not a quitter. He knew she could hike her knee up into his groin and immediately put a stop to their battle of wills. He also knew that she was as excited as he, so he held his position. When her hands came up to his chest to give him a solid shove he was ready, grabbing her around the wrists and this time pinning her arms back against the frozen wall next to her head. She thrashed and he pressed his body against hers to further limit her movement.

That was when things became surreal. They both could smell it in the air. Thick, powerful. Like a Matisse orange. Arousing. He never would have thought that he and Scully would be engaged in a back alley brawl, let alone against each other. But one moment they were struggling for control and the next moment they were all over each other, surrendering. Hot, wet, open-mouthed kissing with tongues and teeth and small whimpering noises and she was pulling him closer just as he was trying to get closer and they were merging…

In the twilight darkness of his apartment Mulder closed his eyes, savoring the memory.




They’d only made love on two separate occasions, three if you counted the time immediately following that initial encounter as separate from the first. And yet, except for the fact that he now had gained the long-desired intimate knowledge of her body hidden underneath the black suits and how her face looked contorted in passion nothing had changed.

Not that he was ready to propose marriage or even cohabitation at this point. Although, emotionally and spiritually they were so completely enmeshed within each other and each others’ lives that it was hard to tell where one stopped and the other started.

Their’s was a snail’s pace.

There would be no one else for him. Or for her, he was fairly certain. A few words and a thin band of gold would make little difference now.

Still, he’d drive her to the courthouse and marry her first thing tomorrow morning if he thought that was what she wanted.

So why was he alone in the darkness, then, wishing she was there with him or that he was with her at her place? Because as before, they lead separate lives. He didn’t know what it was that she wanted. Maybe, just maybe, instead of separate everyday lives there was something for them between the rare, not-so-casual soul-melding fuck and combining CD collections. Maybe there would be a time when he felt like he could go over there anytime he wanted to without having to come up with a believable excuse. Just to watch television or share dinner, or make love not because of some tragedy or emotional event but because he wanted to show her what she meant to him.

Or, God forbid, share a little pleasure.

But then again, he thought, maybe he and Scully weren’t the hang out, watch television and share dinner type, although they used to be. Back in the day. He couldn’t really say what she wanted now, not with any level of confidence. He didn’t even know how she felt about such things because since they’d taken things into the physical they had yet to talk about it.

Any of it.

And neither one of them had brought it up.

Well, not successfully, anyway. He sat up, blinking in the Sunday evening dimness. His basketball lay on the coffee table in front of him and he picked it up, feeling the pebbly skin, letting it rest naturally between the pads of his fingers.

Maybe I should, he thought. Bring it up.


The basketball hit the far wall, bouncing back and returning to his waiting hands with a soft ‘whump’. He paused, the familiar motion both comforting and thought-provoking, then did it again.







…he couldn’t support their combined weight any longer and he slid to his knees. The material of his pants and boxers down around his ankles had already soaked up the dirty, slushy water he had been standing in. He was still inside of her, just barely, and he trembled. It was cold, his socks were soaked, the puddle he was kneeling in was frigid and his legs were spent, their trembling going way beyond the physical, straight down to the core of his soul.

What have we done? His mind was screaming in the silence of the deserted alley.

She was still holding on to him tightly, her face tucked into his neck and her warm breath painting the inside of his collar.

What have I done?

All he could say for certain was that he didn’t want to let go. He felt her pull back slightly and he hesitantly looked down into her face, afraid of what he might see there. Her eyes a mixture of blue/black bewilderment and confusion and something else…



They looked at each other a moment, and he lifted a shaky hand to brush away a stray lock of hair that was clinging wetly to her cheek. With all of the gentleness and subtlety that had been absent from their previous encounter he leaned down and kissed her, brushing his lips against hers softly before running the tip of his tongue over them. She responded by opening her mouth to him, returning his kiss with the same careful attention that he was giving her.

The inside of her mouth was warm and he wanted to move in.

It was a long time before he laid his cheek against hers and whispered her name reverently into her ear as he let out a long sigh. He was aware of the stinging burn of his back, marked in the heat of passion, and he knew her eye had to be hurting from knocking not-so-gently into his unforgiving shoulder. She shivered, reminding him of the fact that even though she still wore her overcoat she was as naked as he was from the waist down, her panties and pantyhose ruined and unusable somewhere behind them in the dirty snow. His knees were frozen and numb, probably bleeding from prolonged exposure to the icy puddle but he was loathe to move, not wanting to let go of the moment. But he had to get Scully out of the dark alley and back indoors where it was warm…



He placed the basketball back on the coffee table and ran his hand over his face. He was going over there. HE was going to bring it up.


The water was warm, filling the sink with bubbles and the fresh scent of lemon as it mixed with the dish soap. She had the television on in the background, loud enough so that she could hear the dialogue from where she stood in the kitchen. Lyrical British voices, trained for every nuance, spoke in soothing rhythm.

“…Thus goes every one to the world but I, and I am sunburnt. I may sit in a corner and cry, ‘Heigh-ho for a husband!’

“Lady Beatrice, I will get you one.”

“I would rather have one of your father’s getting. Hath your Grace ne’er a brother like you? Your father got excellent husbands, if a maid could come by them.”

“Will you have me, lady?”

“No my lord, unless I might have another for working-days. Your Grace is too costly to wear every day…”

Scully turned off the tap and began moving the dishes from the counter into the hot soapy water.

For working-days. She quirked an eyebrow. That would be a neat trick, wouldn’t it? She imagined splitting Mulder into two men; Workday Mulder and Private Mulder. Just like the mod-hair Ken she had when she was ten, Private Mulder would come with gray T-shirt and blue jeans. Leather jacket optional. Of course she had to have the leather jacket. It went with the set.

But which Mulder would she prefer if she had to choose?

She plunged her hands into the water, its heat tempered by the oversized utilitarian latex gloves she’d donned. If only it were that simple.

But it wasn’t. She loved working with Mulder. He was exciting, infuriating, challenging; and mentally, emotionally, spiritually, he pushed her, took her farther than anyone had ever taken her in her life.

And she was also in love with him. His passion. His goodness. His brilliance.

She couldn’t separate him into two men. She was inextricably tied to one man and that one man was all things, on working days and in private.

On days like today, when there was no trauma bringing them together or threatening to tear them apart she felt it keenly, the need to connect with him on a more private level. They had just been through one of the toughest, emotionally draining experiences of his life, of their lives, and when they returned from California weeks ago they went on as always, as if nothing monumental had happened. Mulder went to his place and she went to hers. They spoke on the phone, kept in constant touch, saw each other at work.

But they didn’t discuss the change in their relationship.

At times a little distance was necessary but enough was enough! Her mind yelled. The memory came unbidden once again, played over in her mind like an old 45, reminding her that she hadn’t merely imagined the entire thing.

…the fire was warm to her right but he was warmer to the left, his skin pressed against the length of hers and her stomach and thighs pressed into the warm carpet. She’d been chilled to the bone in the alley, albeit shocked and thrilled by what they had done. She preferred the cold and the risk of being discovered to the alternative, which was to break the physical connection with Mulder altogether and return to the noisy, smoke-filled bar.

Now as she lay with him in the sanctuary of her own apartment she had both contact and warmth. For the first time in her life she felt so contented she was nearly drunk with it, her eyes closed and her body humming in satisfaction. A secret wish realized.

She’d made love with Mulder.

“What are you going to say if someone asks about that black eye?” He asked, running the pad of his index finger gently along her temple.

Her eyes blinked open. “No one will ask. They never do anymore,” she replied softly, but with conviction. “I’d say they’ll be more inclined to ask you about the missing hair.” She wanted to soothe her fingers through his hair just above his ear, but her arm was tucked between them and she was too comfortable to move.

“I’ll just say I was attacked by a rabid dog,” he said with a smile.

She smiled briefly in return, her eyes falling closed again. “I AM sorry, Mulder. But you stepped on my foot and it was cold. I was just trying to find leverage.” She did feel terrible about it just the same.

He leaned over and pressed a kiss to her forehead, whispering, “such a brute.” His lips traveled down the side of her face to her ear, teasing and nuzzling the shell before nipping at the lobe.

“I could say the same about you.” She raised a foot into the air, a silver-dollar sized area on the top already turning mottled purple. “You and your big feet.”

“Sorry.” He smiled apologetically, drew in a breath and looked at her a moment. When he spoke again his voice was soft and gentle. “I don’t think we should tell anybody about how this happened if they do ask, Scully. It would give too many people more than enough ammunition to make our lives even more difficult than they already are.”

She wore an indiscernible expression as she looked up at him, her eyebrows raised. “Who are you referring to, Mulder? Nobody at the Justice Department could give a flying fuck what we do anymore, unless it’s either a public embarrassment or costs an exorbitant amount of money. They got what they were after when they cut you open.” Her cheeks were red, the anger seeping out from the mere mention of the violation he suffered just months ago.

“Did they?”

She remained silent a moment, conceding the point. “So what’s the story, then?”

He ran his finger down the crease in the middle of her back, picking up a stray drop of perspiration and rubbing it into her skin just above the rise of her buttocks as the silence grew. “Nothing. We don’t have to say anything. It’s none of their business.”

“You’re right, it isn’t anyone’s business. But I prefer the truth to a lie.”

“No one is telling us the truth.” He leaned down and placed an open-mouthed kiss over her shoulder, his tongue lapping at the warm skin as his hand gently urged her to roll over onto her back. “Besides, it’s only a lie if we say anything to the contrary.” She watched him lean over and place another open-mouthed kiss just over her heart while he caressed her bare breast with his hand, rubbing his thumb over the nipple until it became stiff to the touch. Then he moved his mouth to the excited nub and she closed her eyes, allowing the sensation to take precedence over the conversation…

Scully sighed, using the back of her wrist to wipe away the perspiration that had beaded on her forehead from the diffused heat of the dishwater. She didn’t know how to bring it up. And Mulder’s cloak and dagger answer about not saying anything didn’t bolster her confidence in the least.

End Part 1 Concluded in Part 2

From: beduini <> Subject: NEW: Bartering Contentment (2/2) NC-17

The central heater in her apartment building must have been broken or else someone had been playing with the thermostat – the hallway was hotter than Hell. He shifted his weight nervously, looking down at his feet with his sweaty hands shoved in the pockets of his jacket. He didn’t call ahead but he saw her car parked on the street so he knew she was home. Whether or not she wanted to see him was another matter. Of course she would welcome him in, she always did.

He was hoping that she would welcome the conversation. He was hoping that before she opened the door he would figure out a way to broach it.

His head came up as he heard the chain slide back in the latch and he smiled when the door opened and her face appeared. “Hey.”

“Hey,” she greeted him, surprised but covering it quickly. She stepped aside so that he could enter.

He hated it that she was surprised.

“What are you up to tonight, Mulder?” she asked, her cool eyes quickly taking in his leather jacket and blue jeans ensemble, a brief cognitive smile flashing on her face. Private Mulder. The temperature inside was more moderate so he didn’t take his jacket off right away, just in case she wasn’t in the mood for company. Or maybe because he might need to leave suddenly.

Her face didn’t give any indication of her current mood as she closed the door behind him, walked into the kitchen and picked up a dish towel off of the counter. Her shoulders seemed relaxed and her movements were efficient but not hurried or forced.

So far, so good. He followed her, leaning against the counter as she fished a coffee carafe out of the clear water in the sink and began drying it off with the towel.

The television was on, tuned into a movie with the volume louder than he would have expected. He’d seen it before – a movie adaptation of a Shakespearean comedy that reminded him of his college days at Oxford. He even recognized the actors. Legitimate.

“…I took no more pains for those thanks than you take pains to thank me. If it had been painful, I would not have come.”

“You take pleasure then in the message?”

The way the characters comfortably bantered it reminded him of the two of them. Scully was watching him over her shoulder, an eyebrow raised in question as she waited for his answer.

He shrugged, his eyes on the television. “Thinking, mostly.”

She placed the carafe back in its place in the coffeemaker and turned back to the sink with a slightly sardonic smile. Must be something in the air. She’d been standing in the kitchen with her fingers pruning inside yellow latex gloves while the water in the sink grew cold. Thinking.

She looked at him again and he was watching her, his eyes wide and earnest like a boy, despite the small lines that now appeared beside them giving away his age. There was also something else, something infinitely deeper in them as well.

“You gonna tell me what you were thinking about?” she asked, fishing a dinner plate out of the sink.

He shifted, crossing his legs in front of him as he leaned against the counter. “Oh you know, the usual…conspiracies, the Yankees…what would Scully look like in a Yankees jersey while while chasing down the bad guys…”

She was wearing that blue button-down shirt he’d become quite fond of lately. It brought out the color of her eyes nicely. Not to mention the opportunities it provided for gratuitous glimpses of cleavage. He suspected that she wore it partly for that reason.

She looked over her shoulder again, her eyebrow raised. “Did you come to any conclusions?”

He drew his lips into a tight line, nodding his head. “Yeah, I did.” He paused. “I think they have a good shot at the series again this year.”

She let out a soft chuckle and turned back to the sink once more, whispering the word ‘baseball’ with a slight shake of her head. The memories the word alone aroused was enough to make her cheeks flush pink, even if they had only swatted at a few balls. But that was before they’d abruptly crossed the line of physical intimacy. They were just fledglings then.

The same memory warmed him and he drew in a deep breath, letting it out slowly. “Why haven’t we talked about it, Scully?”

She didn’t turn around but he knew that she knew what he was talking about just the same. It wasn’t baseball. And she wasn’t certain where he was going with this. After a long pause filled with the sound of her swirling silverware around in the soapy water she replied in a low voice, “I don’t know, Mulder.”

He stepped closer, leaning back against the counter next to the sink so that he could see her face and block out some of the noise from the television. “Why not?” She was silent. “What, you don’t want to?”

It was her turn to draw in a long breath. She was beginning to believe that theirs was a relationship reserved for times of stress. She certainly was feeling the stress at the moment. She turned to face him and slowly peeled off the latex gloves one at a time. “Of course I do.”

He released the breath he had been holding and looked down at his feet. “Does this…arrangement…” he paused a moment, “does it suit you?”

She pursed her lips together. “What ‘arrangement’ is that, Mulder?”

Keep it focused, he reminded himself. Raising his eyes to hers, she saw his reproach. “Are you saying that nothing had changed?”

Licking her lips, she studied him, trying to read his expression. His eyes were intense but the intensity was hard to decipher. She deduced perhaps he wasn’t happy since he’d brought it up in the first place. “I’m not sorry for what we’ve done, if that’s what you’re asking.”

A look of frustration passed over his face as he shifted against the counter. “That’s not what I’m asking.” He chewed on the inside of his cheek. Just once couldn’t they talk about something without having thirty different conversations simmering underneath?

Drawing in a deep breath that raised her shoulders and straightened her spine to full height, she crossed her arms in front of her. Defensive posturing, he recognized. Complicated. Just like her.

Just like them, she thought.

She looked to the side, staring at the television as he shifted his weight from foot to foot. The actors on screen were a virtual mirror of themselves, also talking in circles around the subject at hand.

“I do love nothing in the world so well as you. Is not that strange?”

“As strange as the thing I know not. It were as possible for me to say I lov’d nothing so well as you. But believe me not; and yet I lie not. I confess nothing, nor I deny nothing.”>

Same subject, same subtext. But the movie characters appeared to be going in a forward direction in their conversation. They, on the other hand, seemed to be going backward.

“I don’t know, Mulder,” she sighed. She took her time, looking away before continuing. She did know, she was just too much of an emotional coward to admit it first. She hadn’t even said the words to him, although she knew that he knew how she felt. What it was exactly that she was waiting for wasn’t clear to her, either. She looked up at him for his response. His eyes held hers and she knew that she had to offer more of an answer than ‘I don’t know.’

“Sometimes, Mulder,” she licked her lips, looking away again, “sometimes I’d like things to be…different.” She looked back up at him and his eyes ran over her face, searching for the details she didn’t verbally provide. As he watched her Mulder saw the insecurity that she hid so well, lurking just around the edges of her countenance. It was something that he’d trained himself to see, part of their silent communication that helped him understand what she wasn’t saying as much as what she said. She did not easily let go of emotional declarations. He knew that she loved him – even though it was never directly stated.

His reply was soft. “I feel the same way, Scully.”

Scully picked up the dishtowel, folded it, and set it back down on top of the counter. “So this isn’t exactly what you envisioned.”

He shrugged, looking back at the characters on the television.

“And, I pray thee now tell me, for which of my bad parts didst thou first fall in love with me?”

“For them all together, which maintain’d so politic a state of evil that they will not admit any good part to intermingle with them. But for which of my good parts did you first suffer love for me?”

“Suffer love! A good epithet! I do suffer love indeed, for I love thee against my will.”

“In spite of your heart, I think. Alas, poor heart, if you spite it for my sake, I will spite it for yours, for I will never love that which my friend hates.

“Thou and I are too wise to woo peaceably.”

Scully was also looking at the television, a thoughtful expression on her face.

They were both too wise, too well-versed in pain and suffering to woo in times of peace. They had no precedent for such things.

“I envisioned us having a lot more sex.” He said, not entirely joking.

She gave him a look that was almost apologetic as she thought back to the last time.

…the sun was streaming in through the blinds, casting bright straps of light over his back. Off and on since dawn she’d watched in the mirror above the bed as the light grew brighter and the shadows grew darker. They had been there all morning, thrusting, licking, burning, kissing, chafing. His gluteus maximus flexed with each powerful thrust burning her like hot oil deep inside. She’d come three times already, her genitals swollen and tender, sensitive to the point of pain. She knew he was sore, too, from the way he grimaced as he slowly pumped in and out, in and out. It was amazing he could even sustain an erection – he’d come twice that morning. Once when she gave him fellatio until her jaw ached and once when he’d taken her from behind like an animal.

They had started out the night before, her gentle comfort turning into lovemaking, but the session that morning had been desperate fucking, pure and simple. She’d told him not to hold back for her sake and he gave her all thathe had left and more, adding to the atmosphere by muttering words of carnal desire into her ear.

She came violently.

If you counted the sex they’d had the night before, it totaled five to four in her favor since they had fallen into his bed fourteen hours prior.

Her eyes were glassy and involuntary tears were streaming down her temples, but she wouldn’t stop him. She didn’t want to. It was the kind of pain that was welcome, and she wasn’t ready to give that up yet. Who knew what would happen once they got out of the bed and faced the rest of the day, the rest of their lives. She didn’t want to think about what would transpire once they started talking again. Right now they found comfort in each other. A way to remind them that people may die around them but thankfully they were both still very much alive. This night it had been about his loss and she was there for him in every way he needed her to be. It was the first time in their long partnership that they’d used sex for comfort.

Looking back on it now, she was surprised at their behavior then, considering everything that they had been through in their long partnership together. Perhaps it was due to the newness of their physical relationship, or the fact that they had both gone so long without it that they chose to play out their emotions like a couple of college kids in heat instead of two complex adults on the far edge of their thirties. Or maybe it was simply extraordinary behavior in an extraordinary circumstance.

She remembered imagining herself on a small boat, the gentle lapping of the waves the same rhythm as Mulder’s body, the spray of sea air gently painting her lips. Mulder was with her and there was no one or nothing as far as the eye could see. Just the deep blue of the sea, the light blue of the sky, the warmth of the sun, and the comforting presence of Mulder.

They were safe there. Insulated from the rest of the world.

Mulder was covered in perspiration, both his and hers, as well as saliva and the sticky remnants of their previous lovemaking. The sheets beneath them were damp and a drop of sweat dripped off of the end of his nose onto her lips.

It was salty, like the sea.

“I love you,” he whispered hoarsely, burying his face against her neck. He was breathing heavily, the tendons in his neck straining from the demands he was putting on his body.

She didn’t think she had one more orgasm in her. She was nearly positive that he didn’t, but she didn’t stop him. She didn’t want him to have to face the pain once again. She didn’t want this reprieve to end.

But it did.

He pulled out of her abruptly and flopped down on his back beside her on the bed, exhausted. “I can’t.” He said breathlessly, his wrist covering his eyes and his cock already beginning to shrivel.

“Then don’t,” she said, her voice hoarse but forgiving. She was looking at him without judgement, full of understanding.

He turned his face toward hers, his breath still ragged. He didn’t say anything, but his eyes spoke of gratitude and love, and apprehension. He knew as well as she that they couldn’t hide in the bed forever. They stared at each other, silently assuring each other that they would get through it together. After a few moments he turned his head away, closing his eyes.

Too soon, she thought. It was over too soon and now the pain had risen back to the forefront of his consciousness. She reached out and ran the back of her fingers over his cheek, lingering a moment before sitting up in the bed. He didn’t move but his eyes opened, watching her in the mirror overhead. Her eyes located her discarded clothing from the night before and she bent over to retrieve her undergarments, sliding them on before standing and retrieving her blouse and pants from farther away. She dressed silently with her back to him, then turned to face him once again.

His eyes were closed and she let out a soft sigh. “I’ll make some coffee.” She paused, and when he didn’t open his eyes again she padded softly out of the room.

She stopped in the bathroom to relieve her bladder and wash up, then moved into the living room. She planned on running home for a long, hot shower and gather up some personal things to bring back over to Mulder’s for what would probably be an extended stay. First she needed some time – an hour, at least – to herself. To deal with the cause of Mulder’s pain in her own way.

Her shoes and socks were where she had left them next to the sofa and she sat down, sliding them on one at a time as she heard the shower go on in the bathroom. Smoothing her hair unconsciously she stepped into the kitchen, and over to the coffeemaker on the counter. She dumped the old coffee out of the pot and rinsed it, then re-filled it and poured the water into the machine. Replacing the filter and spooning in a generous amount of coffee, she flicked on the switch and leaned her hip against the cabinet with a sigh.

Complicated, she thought. It’s not that the feelings aren’t there. It’s just all so very complicated.

She heard the shower go off and wandered back into the living room to find where she’d left her jacket. A knock on the door broke her train of thought. She squared her shoulders, preparing for what lay ahead, determined not to let another ounce of pain find its way past her to Mulder…

So much for sparing Mulder his pain, she thought. What was that saying? ‘The road to Hell is paved with good intentions?’ Scully looked down at her hands, wishing she had an answer to that.

Mulder tilted his head to the side, looking at her softly. He had been watching her as she remembered their last intimate encounter, noticing the way her eyes grew soft and her focus drew inward. “What is it that you want, Scully?” he asked gently.

She let out a huff, her breath catching as she exhaled. He was asking her all of the most difficult questions, forcing her to reveal things she wasn’t comfortable revealing when she wasn’t emotionally forced to so do. She didn’t know specifically what she wanted – it was more a sustained feeling of contentment that she was striving for rather than an itemized list. “The same things as anyone else, I suppose,” she said softly.

He shifted, looking down at the floor. When he raised his eyes he looked at her with intent. “Do you want to get married?”

Scully’s eyes grew wide. It took a few moments and a couple of tries opening her mouth before she was able to respond. “I…” she paused, blinking a few times, then looking down awkwardly before letting out a nervous chuff.

Mulder smiled, chuckling softly at her. He enjoyed the times he was able to shake her tree. “Was that a difficult question?” He couldn’t remember another time when he’d so effectively rendered Dana Scully speechless.

She drew in a breath, her chest expanding and her shoulders squaring and she raised a fist to her lips, clearing her throat as she prepared herself for her answer. “Assuming that was a hypothetical question, Mulder, I’ll give you a hypothetical answer.” She crossed her arms, looking him directly in the eyes, a sparkle in her gaze. “Yes, Mulder, if the situation is right, some day I would like to get married.”

He didn’t respond, smiling at her with warm eyes that said that he, too, would like that as well. Someday.

She looked at him a moment. “What is it that YOU want, Mulder?”

He reached out tentatively and took her hand in his, lightly threading their fingers together. They both watched as their fingers caressed and when she looked back up at him he was staring at her, his eyes dark and blatant in his desire for her. “Besides the obvious answer, which I believe I’ve already mentioned…” she looked down, grinning, and he grinned back at her before continuing, “I’d like to be able to spend time together without an emotional trauma initiating it. I’d like to have a standing date on Valentine’s Day and on birthdays. I’d like to be able to come over here and feel at home and have you feel the same way in my place. I’d like to buy two tickets to a ball game and know that it’s understood that the second ticket is yours.”

She looked at him, her face stoic but mirth shining in the depths of her eyes. “Who else would you take to a ball game, Mulder?”


She paused. “Are you asking me to go steady?”

He watched her face closely, his eyes holding the same intense look from moments before. “Scully…”

“Yeah?” she asked, her eyes becoming serious.

“Be my girlfriend.”

She drew in a breath, giving his fingers a squeeze with a soft laugh. “I was kidding, Mulder. I’m thirty-six years old.”

“I’m not kidding, Scully, and you aren’t too old.” He tightened his grip on her hand. “Look, I know it’s corny considering everything we’ve been through, but we need something like this. Something to remind us how to act when we’re not working. How to be…” he shrugged, “us.” He smiled self-consciously.

She could see his point. She smiled warmly at him and tugged on his hand, pulling him closer. “So Mulder, if I agree, what are you gonna give me to prove it?”

He shook his head, not understanding. “What do you mean?”

She released his hand and ran both of her hands lightly up his chest, resting her palms over his heart as she leaned into him. “The last time I had an official boyfriend, Mulder, he gave me his fraternity pin to seal the deal.”

“And what did he get out of it?” She looked up at him with a raised brow as if to say it was a stupidly obvious answer and he grinned with understanding. “Alright, Scully.” He slid his jacket off and placed it over her shoulders, pulling the front together just underneath her chin. “Consider yourself pinned.”

The jacket went nearly to her knees and she looked down in amusement. As stupid as it sounded, a fair amount of satisfaction coursed through her. It was almost as if Mulder had found the thing that she wanted without her knowing herself it was what she had wanted. She felt safe and loved. Content. Picking at an imaginary thread on his shirt she said, “there’s something I’d like you to consider.”

“What’s that?” he asked, sliding his hands under the jacket to rest loosely on her waist.

“I’d like it if you’d stay over once in a while.”

“I could do that.” His thumbs began rubbing circles against her sides through the material of her shirt. “Especially if it involves you and I getting naked.”

She paused, giving him a flirty look. “And I supposed I could stay over at your place sometimes.” Her eyes promised that he wouldn’t be disappointed even though she knew that he was just teasing.

He grinned. “I’d like that, too.”

He spoke with such a delighted contentment that it moved her almost to the point of tears. But not quite. The emotions swelled within her, her eyes glowing cornflower blue as he looked into them. He removed his hands from her waist, reaching out and brushing his knuckles against her cheek, moving his fingers into her hair and kissing her gently.

The actors on the television were still debating their situation.

“They swore that you were almost sick for me.”

“They swore that you were well-nigh dead for me.”

“‘Tis no such matter. Then you do not love me?”

“No, truly, but in friendly recompense.”

“I love you,” Scully whispered against his lips in between kisses as he cradled her head in his hands, her hair weaving fiery bands between his fingers.

His response was a small noise in his throat as she kissed him again. So this was what she had been waiting for.

She felt the scratch of stubble against her own cheek as she moved to kiss his neck, his jacket sliding off of her shoulders into a heap on the floor as her arms went around his neck to pull him closer. “…so much,” she whispered into his ear as he planted a row of kisses down her jaw.

All he could think of to say was “I know.” He pressed his lips against her hair as she kissed her way down his sternum and he murmured once more, “I know. Me too.” She laid her cheek against his chest and he rested his chin on top of her head with a smile of satisfaction. Closing his eyes he wrapped his arms around her tighter, swaying gently as they held each other close.

“Mulder?” she said quietly.


She pulled back, her hands resting gently on his hips as she looked up at him, a hint of blue fire glowing in her gaze. “Stay tonight.”

He chuckled. “Lest you’ve forgotten, girlfriend. You’ve got your proof, or your pin, so to speak.” He glanced down at his jacket laying at their feet, then back up to hold her eyes with burning intent. His hands slid around to the front of her shirt, long, agile fingers working the button out of the first buttonhole on the bottom and moving up to the next one.

“Now we seal the deal.”


My wholehearted thanks to Marty for doing such a bang-up beta!

The movie in question is “Much Ado About Nothing” from the play of the same name. Shakespeare, if you didn’t already know.

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