Silver Bracelet Series, The by Brandon D Ray

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Silver Bracelet Series by Brandon D Ray

Silver Bracelet Series cover

TITLE: The Silver Bracelet

AUTHOR: Brandon D. Ray

DISTRIBUTION STATEMENT: Anywhere and everywhere, so long as my name stays on it and no money changes hands.

SPOILERS: Spoilers abound for numerous episodes through U.S. Season 5, and also for FTF.

RATING: Individual chapters are rated from PG to NC-17. On the principle that adding a teaspoon of dirty water to a gallon of clean water yields a gallon of dirty water, I suppose that means that the entire story must be rated NC-17. However, individual chapters are individual rated in the table of contents, below.

CONTENT WARNING: Several chapters include strong religious content, handled as respectfully as I know how. Some chapters also contain explicit sexual material, and are appropriately marked. All chapters contain at least some bad language. Maggie/Bill sr. Character death (told in flashback; not M or S).


SUMMARY: This story deals with Dana Scully’s infertility, as well as her religious faith, and attempts to explore how those two issues might affect a romantic relationship with Fox Mulder. I have attempted to avoid excessive sap, and there is more than a little angst herein. However, this is basically a happy story, because I’m basically a happy guy.

AUTHOR’S NOTES: This story takes place in an alternate timeline, which diverges from what we have seen on television sometime after FTF. Specifically, Season 6 never happened in this world.

COVER ART: Rachel Lewis


This story is dedicated to Rachel Lewis, for providing the inspiration which transformed a short story into a much longer and more complex work.

Chapter 4 is dedicated to Helen Wills, whose wonderful story “One Sorry Son of a Bitch” provided inspiration for this chapter.

Chapter 12 is dedicated to Rachel Anton and Laura Blaurosen, whose excellent Desideratum stories provided the inspiration for this chapter.

The Silver Bracelet by Brandon D. Ray

  1. Chapter 1: TRANSFIGURATION. In which a stone is removed from the path. This chapter is rated PG.
  2. Chapter 2: AS I KNEW HE WOULD. In which a woman prays for her daughter. This chapter is rated PG.
  3. Chapter 3: FAITH AND ACCEPTANCE. In which obstacles are overcome. This chapter is rated PG.
  4. Chapter 4: RECONCILIATION. In which a troubled man discovers a higher truth. This chapter is rated PG-13.
  5. Chapter 5: DECOMPRESSION AND RELATIVITY. In which two people grow closer. This chapter is rated PG-13.
  6. Chapter 6: DARK MIDNIGHT OF THE SOUL. In which demons are held at bay, and plans are made. This chapter is rated PG.
  7. Chapter 7: WHAT DOES HE SEE WHEN HE LOOKS AT ME? In which a question is answered. This chapter is rated R.
  8. Chapter 8: CONSUMMATION. In which love is shared, and thereby enhanced. This chapter is rated NC-17.
  9. Chapter 9: CHARLIE. In which anxiety is examined. This chapter is rated PG-13.
  10. Chapter 10: EPIPHANY. In which pain is shared, and thereby diminished. This chapter is rated PG-13.
  11. Chapter 11: A WOMAN IN LOVE. In which extreme possibilities are considered. This chapter is rated PG.
  12. Chapter 12: PRINCESS LEIA RACES HOME ABOARD HER STARSHIP. In which extreme possibilities are explored. This chapter is rated NC-17.
  13. Chapter 13: PARTNERS FOREVER. In which the future is addressed, and promises are made. This chapter is rated PG-13.


Chapter 1: Transfiguration. In which a stone is removed from the path.

This chapter is rated PG.

December 24, 10:43 p.m.

Outside it was cold, and it was snowing.

Dana Scully sat on the sofa in her mother’s living room, sipping hot cocoa and staring at the lights on the Christmas tree. The twinkling, colored bulbs cast the only illumination, and much of the room was lost in shadow. A single tear trickled down her cheek.

“It’s such a pity Fox couldn’t join us this year,” her mother had said when Scully arrived earlier in the evening. Yeah, Mom, such a pity. “You know he’s always welcome here.” Not anymore, Mom.

Scully took another sip of cocoa, and a flash of silver caught her eye. Deliberately, she set down her mug, and held out her arm so that she could examine, once again, the silver bracelet adorning her left wrist. It glinted slightly, reflecting the Christmas lights. It was such a lovely bracelet; such a lovely gift. So sad that she would have to give it back to him. She should have done so immediately; putting it off was just going to make it harder.

She slipped the bracelet off her wrist, and turned it over in her hands. The lighting was too dim to allow her to read the inscription, but she knew what it said: “All my love. – M”

All his love. At last. And she could not accept it.

Mulder had completely blindsided her with the gift that afternoon. Was it really only earlier today? It seemed like a lifetime. They’d been preparing to close the office for the holiday weekend, and he had suddenly told her to stand still and close her eyes.

Suspecting some sort of a trap, but willing to play along, Scully had complied, and seconds later she felt his hand on her arm, sending as always a thrill of electricity through her body, and then she had felt the cool touch of metal as he slid something over her hand. At his command she had opened her eyes….

“Oh, Mulder, it’s beautiful!” She had held out her hand and turned it, admiring the bracelet. “It’s perfect.” She’d looked from the bracelet to his face, and her eyes had widened as she saw a light in his eyes that she had never seen there before.

“I’m glad you like it, Scully,” he’d said, his tone as soft as his eyes. “I, I hoped it would be the right thing.” He’d moved closer to her, and touched her chin with his fingertips, and Scully was shocked to see tears in his eyes. “You see, I’ve been struggling for a long time. Struggling with something inside of me. I…I don’t know…” And he’d shrugged helplessly, and given a sheepish smile, both hopeful and terrified, and said, “Aw, hell, Scully, you know I’m no good at this sort of thing.” There had been the very briefest of hesitations, then: “I’m in love with you.”

And Dana Scully had burst into tears and fled the room. She had not returned.

Eventually, she arrived at her mother’s home in Baltimore. She had no clear memory of how she had spent the five hours between the time she left the J. Edgar Hoover Building and the time she arrived at her mother’s, but she didn’t really care. All that she cared about was that she was someplace safe, someplace she could hide. She had greeted her mother briefly and distantly, then gone to her old room, and tried to sleep.

Mulder had called, of course. She had known that he would. But she had refused the calls.

Finally, unable to sleep, she had gotten out of bed and gone back downstairs. Her mother had turned in for the night, and Bill and Charlie were both out on deployments, so she’d had the ground floor to herself. She had switched on the Christmas tree lights, then made some cocoa and sank down on the sofa.

And here she still sat, more than an hour later. In her mind, she kept replaying the scene in the office, over and over and over, and each time it was like a knife stabbing into her heart. How desperately she wanted the love he had offered her; how desperately she yearned for that warmth and comfort. But she couldn’t accept it. She just couldn’t.

The worst of it was that he was probably blaming himself for her rejection. She knew beyond any possibility of doubt that she had hurt him terribly by her reaction. She hadn’t seen his face, or his body language, or even heard his voice, as she fled from the office. But she didn’t need to.. She knew Fox Mulder better than anyone in the world, and she felt with brutal empathy the crushing pain that must have descended on him.

But there was nothing she could do about that, either.

<<Oh, Mulder. Why couldn’t you have left well enough alone?>> After all the hardships of the last two years, things had finally started to seem okay between them again — better, in some ways, than they had ever been before. She had felt closer to Mulder, more intimate with him, than she had in years, and she had taken great comfort in that closeness and companionship. If only he had been able to leave it at that.

She shouldn’t blame him, of course. He had done nothing wrong. The fault lay in her.

The fault lay in her.



Scully awoke with a start. She did not remember falling asleep on the sofa, but clearly she had. She shook her head, trying to clear the muzziness from her mind, then sat up and looked around.

Something about the room was different. At first she couldn’t put her finger on it, but then she realized that there was more light than there had been previously, and that the light was growing stronger by the minute. It was soft and white, and seemed to be everywhere. A few more seconds, and the room was bathed in light, illuminating every nook and cranny, making the Christmas lights seem pale by comparison.

“Hi, Ms. Scully.”

Scully turned her head sharply, and her eyes widened. Standing just inside the front door was a boy, perhaps twelve or thirteen years old. He had a narrow, angular face and light brown hair, and he was dressed all in white, the same color as the pearly light suffusing the room. In an instant she realized who it was.

“Kevin,” she said. “Kevin Kryder.”

He smiled, and repeated, “Hi, Ms. Scully. I’m sorry if I woke you.”

“No, that’s okay,” she replied. She looked at him for a moment, then shook her head. “Kevin, what are you doing here?”

Still smiling, he walked over to stand in front of her. “I told you we’d see each other again,” he said.

“I know. But I didn’t expect….this.”

“Sometimes things happen in the manner we least expect,” the boy commented. He paused for a moment, then added, “But you already know that.”

Scully was surprised to find herself slipping into acceptance. Kevin was here, and that was all that mattered. But she still wanted to know why.

She started to frame the question, but before she could speak, Kevin said, “You already know that, too, Ms. Scully. All you have to do is look into your heart.” He sat down next to her and turned to face her, one arm flung carelessly over the back of the sofa.

“I thought I’d been doing that,” she said. “Looking into my heart, I mean.”

The boy shook his head. “I don’t think so, Ms. Scully,” he said softly, solemnly. “Looking into your heart doesn’t hurt; at least, not the way you’re hurting. Sometimes you find things there that you don’t want to know, but that’s a good hurt, not a bad one. It’s clean.”

She shook her head. “You don’t understand,” she said. “You can’t understand.”

“Because I’m still just a boy?” he asked, then shook his head. “People are people, Ms. Scully. It doesn’t matter how old you are, or whether you’re male or female, or any of that. What matters is that you’re human. Once you accept that about yourself, everything becomes much clearer.” His face grew even sadder. “Not that it’s easy. It’s never easy. Feeling someone else’s hurt, accepting it, understanding it…those are hard things to do.” He looked directly into her eyes. “Especially when the other person feels empty and incomplete. Especially when she feels that she is not really a woman anymore.”

Kevin paused, then went on, so softly that she could barely hear him. “Some people hurt you, Ms. Scully. They hurt you very badly. They took something from you that is very precious, a very special gift. You’ve gotten past hating them, at least mostly, and that’s good. But you’ve done it by turning that hate on yourself, and that’s bad. It’s keeping you from accepting something which would be so good for you, so right. All you have to do is reach out, and you can have your heart’s desire.”

She stared at him. “How do you know so much about me?” she whispered.

He hesitated, then shook his head. “I don’t know how to answer that question,” he admitted. “All I really know are things you already know yourself. But sometimes it helps to hear them from someone else.” He studied her face for a moment. “I hate to see anyone hurting, Ms. Scully. I’d like to help you. I’d like to help you get back that which was taken from you. But you have to take the first step yourself. You have to ask.”

Scully continued to stare at the boy. His face was now serene and untroubled. “I…I don’t know how.”

“Yes you do, Ms. Scully. You know how.”

She closed her eyes and tried to think. What did he expect from her? What did he want? None of this was making any sense at all, and she felt desperation welling up inside of her. She had an almost uncontrollable urge to jump from the sofa and run out of the room, but she forced it back down. She was out of places to run to and something deep inside told her that if she turned away from this, she would never have another chance. She felt lost, torn apart, and she couldn’t think what to do.

<<Please, dear God, help me!>>

She felt a touch on her abdomen, and her eyes flew open. Looking down, she saw Kevin’s hand resting there. She raised her own hand towards his, but she caught a motion out of the corner of her eye, and looking up at Kevin, she saw that he was shaking his head. His eyes were closed and his lips were moving, but she couldn’t hear his words.

She felt a warm, tingling sensation, starting where Kevin’s hand rested on her, and spreading rapidly outwards until it seemed to fill her entire body. The pearly light surrounding them intensified, until finally, for a timeless moment, there seemed to be nothing there at all except for her and Kevin.

And then it was over. Kevin was drawing back his hand, and the light was fading away. In seconds, it was gone.

Scully looked at Kevin in confusion, but he was smiling a contented smile, and his eyes slowly came open. Before she could say anything, he rose off the sofa and stepped up next to her. “I think you should sleep now, Ms. Scully,” he said.

Gently, he put one hand on each of her shoulders, and she let him guide her down until her head rested on the cushions. Automatically, she drew up her feet, and lay quietly while Kevin took the afghan off the back of the sofa and spread it out on top of her.

“You sleep now,” he said again. “You need your rest.” He turned to go.

Scully grabbed his wrist. “Kevin,” she said. “What…what just happened?”

He looked down at her. “Just sleep,” he repeated. “And when you wake up, things will be different.” He pulled his wrist free from her hand, and reached down and stroked her cheek. “I can’t give you joy, Ms. Scully. No one can do that; you have to find it for yourself. But sometimes a friend can remove a stone from the path, and that makes it easier. Now sleep.”


December 25, 7:03 a.m.

“Dana?” Scully was distantly aware of someone shaking her. “Dana?”

Slowly, groggily, she opened her eyes. “Mom?”

“Good morning, sleepyhead.”

Scully looked up at her mother’s face, then looked around, confused. She was lying on the sofa in the living room, and for an instant she couldn’t remember how she got there. Then everything came flooding back.

Her hand flew to her wrist, searching for the silver bracelet, but it wasn’t there. She sat up, and started digging frantically through the sofa cushions.

“Are you looking for this?” Mrs. Scully asked, and Scully turned to see the bracelet resting in her mother’s hand. She took it from the other woman and slipped it on her wrist.

“It…it must have fallen off in the night,” Scully said awkwardly.

“It’s very beautiful.” There was a moment of silence. Then her mother added, “He’s a good man, Dana.”

“I know.” She stared at the bracelet for a moment. It WAS beautiful. It was perfect. And to think that she had almost thrown it all away. She looked up at her mother again, and the other woman’s eyes were warm, loving and compassionate. “Mom, I need to make a call. Do you mind if I use the phone in your room?”

“Of course not, dear. Give him my love.”

Everything was going to be all right.


Chapter 2: AS I KNEW HE WOULD. In which a woman prays for her daughter.

This chapter is rated PG.

He has come to her, as I knew he would.

My daughter was not happy when she arrived at my home last night. She has not been happy for a long time, for almost a year now, but this was worse. Much, much worse. She knocked on my door, and when I opened it she spoke only a few words, very sad and distant, and then withdrew to her old room and locked the door.

He called for her, as I knew he would. Each of them always seems to know when the other is hurting. Always in the past they have been able to comfort each other, to ease the pain, but this time it was different. This time she refused even to speak to him, and I could hear in his voice that he was suffering too. I didn’t know what was wrong, but I wanted to reach out to both of them, to hold them close to me, and make it better. But I knew that I could not, and so all I said was, “I’m sorry, Fox. I’ll let you know if anything changes.”

I sat on the sofa for a long time last evening, looking at the Christmas tree, not thinking about much at all. I have never felt so helpless in all my life as I felt last night. Even when she was missing, even when she lay dying in a hospital bed, I felt I had some connection, some way I could reach out to her and provide at least some comfort. But last night the connection was gone.

Oh, it had not been severed; even in the extremity of her pain she had not gone that far. But the door between us was closed, just as surely as her bedroom door upstairs was closed, and I was standing helplessly on the outside, knowing that my baby girl was on the other side, suffering, and that I could not go to her.

It is any parent’s worst nightmare.

Finally, I got up, turned off the tree, and went to bed. But I did not sleep.

I heard her go downstairs, of course, last night after she thought I was asleep. Part of me wanted to go to her, to hold her in my arms and give her love and reassurance, but I knew that when she was ready to accept my comfort she would come to me. And so I stayed in my room, and prayed for her and for the strange, wonderful man she cares about so deeply. I know that faith has become unfashionable in these modern days, but I do believe that God hears our prayers, and that sometimes He answers them.

Finally, it is morning. I get out of bed and go downstairs at my usual time. My daughter is curled up on the sofa, asleep, an afghan draped over her body. The only light comes from the Christmas tree, and from the soft gray dawn trickling in past the window shades.

I go around to the front of the sofa, and gaze down at her for a moment. She looks so beautiful lying there. Her face seems so calm and untroubled; it is hard to believe that this is the same woman who arrived on my doorstep last night, despair and hopelessness written on her features. It is even harder to believe that this strong, sensitive, beautiful woman is also the baby who was at my breast not so very long ago.

As I stand looking down at her, something glints in the corner of my eye, and I drop my gaze to the floor to see a small heap of metal. I drop to my knees and scoop it up: It is a bracelet. A plain, silver bracelet, elegant in its simplicity. Almost without thinking, I turn it over in my hands, and see the inscription: “All my love. -M”

So that’s what this is about. I should have realized, but it’s been so long since I have had to worry about such things on my own account. I have been so sure of Bill for so very long, that I can’t even remember what it was like before. I am still sure of him, knowing that he thinks of me every day, even as I think of him. And I know that when my time comes, he will be there, waiting for me, just as I waited for him so many times when he was away at sea.

For a moment I think that I should let her sleep, but the still, soft voice deep inside tells me that it is all right, and time for her to wake up.. I don’t know where this voice comes from, but it has been with me all my life, and I have come to trust it over the years. I reach out and touch her shoulder.

“Dana?” I gently shake her. “Dana?”

Slowly, groggily, she opens her eyes, and my heart flutters with joy as I see the light which has been missing for so very long. “Mom?”

“Good morning, sleepyhead,” I say.

My daughter looks up at me in apparent confusion, but after the briefest of moments the confusion is gone, and there is a look of wonder on her face which I have not seen in ages. I don’t know what has changed since last night, but something has.

Abruptly, her hand flies to her wrist and then she is sitting up and digging frantically through the sofa cushions. She is looking for something, and I suddenly realize what it is.

“Are you looking for this?” I ask, and she turns to see the bracelet resting in my hand. For a moment, I think she is going to cry, but then she takes it from me and slips it on her wrist.

“It…it must have fallen off in the night,” she says.

“It’s very beautiful.” There is a moment of silence, and then I add, because her father is not there to say it, “He’s a good man, Dana.”

“I know.” She stares at the bracelet, and for just a moment I can see the pain and heartache of last night flicker across her face. Then she looks up at me and says, “Mom, I need to make a call. Do you mind if I use the phone in your room?”

“Of course not, dear. Give him my love.”

That was three hours ago. She went to my room, and a few minutes later I heard her come out again and go into her own and shut the door. I feel a momentary flutter of anxiety, but the still, soft voice reassures me, and so I go about the business of preparing Christmas dinner.

There is a knock on the door, and I know before I even open it who will be standing there. There is pain in his eyes, but there is always pain there, and I have come to accept it as part of who he is. This morning it seems there is more pain than usual, but again the still, soft voice reassures me, and I invite him into my home.

He has come to her, as I knew he would.


Chapter 3: FAITH AND ACCEPTANCE. In which obstacles are overcome.

This chapter is rated PG.

Fox Mulder sat in silence next to his partner, on her mother’s sofa in front of the Christmas tree. Christmas dinner had come and gone, and Mrs. Scully had retired to her bedroom, saying that she needed a nap, leaving the two partners alone together for the first time since the previous afternoon. They sat close to each other, not quite touching, and carefully did not look at one another.

Finally, Scully broke the silence. “Thank you for coming up here today.”

“You’re welcome.” Mulder kept his voice low and controlled. He felt whipsawed by the flood of conflicting emotions, but he knew that he had to maintain control, or all would be lost.

Again the silence settled over them. It had been like this since he arrived, several hours earlier. They had stepped carefully around each other, as if they were walking on eggshells, and their conversation had been sparse, disjointed and mundane. Mulder knew that this could not continue, but he was afraid to begin the discussion which he knew was coming, not knowing how it might end.

At last, he spoke. “Why, Scully?” He struggled to keep the pain out of those two words, and knew that he had failed when he saw her wince.

Looking as if it were the hardest thing in the world, she turned to face him. “I’m sorry, Mulder,” she said, so very softly. “You have no idea how sorry I am.”

He shrugged his shoulders restlessly. “This isn’t about sorry,” he replied. “I’m not asking for an apology; your feelings are what they are, and you never need to apologize to me for them. But I would like to know why.” He wanted to reach out and stroke her cheek, but something warned him not to. “Please, Scully. I need to know why.”

She stared at him for a moment, her eyes glistening with unshed tears. “God, Mulder, don’t you know? Do I have to say the words?”

He closed his eyes and swallowed. She was hurting; sweet Jesus, she was hurting. And although he didn’t understand how or why, it was clear that he was at the center of it. This had to stop. Now.

With a sigh, he opened his eyes, and looked into hers. “I’m sorry, Scully. I never meant to hurt you. I wish to God that I didn’t have to ask you for an explanation. I wish I could understand without putting you through this. And if you…can’t say the words, whatever they are, I’ll walk away from it. I promise.”

For an agonized moment she seemed to consider it; then she shook her head violently. “No,” she said. “No, you’re right. You deserve an explanation. What I did to you was inexcusable.” She looked down at the floor, and repeated, “I’m sorry.”

“Scully, I —”

“Just wait and let me do this, okay? It’s hard enough as it is.” She took a deep breath and shuddered. Her fingers momentarily caressed the silver bracelet she wore on her left wrist, and Mulder’s heart jumped to see her acknowledging its presence, even indirectly. Then she started speaking again.

“You…you surprised me yesterday.” She shook her head again. “No, you more than just surprised me. You scared the living hell out of me.” She stopped speaking for a moment, as if hoping that somehow that would be enough. Then she sighed and continued. “I just didn’t know what to say.”

“You could have said no.” God those words hurt to say, but he had to say them. He had to let her know that he would accept that.

She glanced at him, very briefly, then looked back at the floor. “That’s the problem. I didn’t want to say no. I wanted to say yes.” She took another deep breath, and when she spoke again her voice was quavering. “But I knew that I couldn’t do that to you.” She tensed her shoulders for a minute, then turned to look him square in the eyes as she stripped the bracelet from her wrist and held it out to him. “I think you’d better take this back.”

Mulder sat absolutely still, making no move to take the bracelet. “I don’t want to take it back,” he said. “I want you to have it. It’s yours. Even if there’s no us, it’s yours.”

“Dammit, Mulder!” she said, brushing at her eyes with her free hand. “Why are you making this so hard?”

“Because I don’t understand,” he said gently. “You still haven’t explained it to me. I offered to leave, but you refused. I suggested that you could say no, but you said you wanted to say yes. I think…I think you want…what I want. But you keep pushing it away. You keep pushing ME away. And I don’t understand why.”

Scully pulled her hands together in her lap and absently toyed with the bracelet. After a pair of minutes she looked at him again. “You’re really going to make me do this, aren’t you?” she said. Then she nodded. “Okay. You already know this, but maybe…maybe it’s not the same for men.” Seemingly unconsciously, one of her hands gently caressed her abdomen.

Realization dawned slowly. Finally, as full knowledge burst upon him, Mulder said, “My God, Scully. Is this about….” His voice trailed off.

“It’s all right, Mulder; you can say it.” Now her voice was bitter and angry. “I’m sterile. Barren. Whatever the politically correct euphemism of the week is. Christ, you’ve known it longer than I have; I don’t know why we’re dancing around this.”

He stared at her for a long moment. Then, very softly: “Do you think that matters to me?”

She turned her head and looked at him, her face an emotionless mask. “Are you saying that it doesn’t?”

Another long pause, then he nodded slowly. “Of course it matters.” She turned her face away and drew back from him. Mulder reached out and touched her chin, trying to turn her head back towards him, but she jerked away. “Dammit, Scully, you know what I mean — or you ought to.” His voice softened. “It matters because I can see how much that loss has hurt you. Hell, it hurts me, too. It hurts like hell to know that we can never…never have a child together.”

She made no response. After a moment, Mulder continued. “Don’t you think I’ve considered this?” He struggled to keep the desperation out of his voice. “This isn’t a spur of the moment decision for me, Scully. I’ve been thinking about this for months, ever since we got back from Antarctica. Jesus. Do you have any idea how empty I felt when you told me they were sending you to Salt Lake City? Or how absolutely devastated and lost I was when you were taken from me again?” There were tears streaming down his face, but he didn’t care, and he made no attempt to wipe them away.

“I told you then, and I’m telling you now, Scully: You make me whole. Without you, I have nothing; I AM nothing. With you, I have the whole world. That’s why I said what I said yesterday. Because I love you, and I think you love me, and I…can’t…stand…being alone any longer.”

Silence descended once again, and it lasted so long that Mulder was beginning to wonder if he should just get up and leave. But God, he didn’t want to. His entire life was sitting here in this room; if he walked out now, he knew he’d never get another chance.

Finally, she said, “Something happened last night, Mulder.”

He was confused by the sudden change of topic, but he knew that this subject, whatever it was, must be important, or she wouldn’t have raised it. “What happened, Scully?”

“I saw Kevin.” She turned her head and looked at him sideways. “You remember? Kevin Kryder?”

Mulder nodded. “Sure. I remember Kevin. The boy with the stigmata. Why was he here?”

“He said he was here to help me.”

“To help you?”

She nodded. Her face now bore a dreamy, faraway expression. “He sat on the sofa next to me. Right where you’re sitting now. And we…talked.”

“Just that? Talked?”

She shook her head. “No. He touched me.” Again she caressed her abdomen. “Here.”

Mulder waited, but she didn’t seem inclined to go on. Finally: “And?”

She shrugged helplessly. “I…don’t know how to describe it. It was…profound. I felt as if his hand was…sinking into me. It was warm. Special.” She seemed to be struggling to find the right word. “Magic.” She closed her eyes for a moment, then opened them and looked at him. “What do you think it means?”

Mulder hesitated. This was important; he could tell by the look on her face. The problem was that he didn’t have a clue what the right answer was. Finally he shrugged. “I don’t know, Scully. I wasn’t there.”

She looked away. Sadly: “That’s what I thought you’d say.”

Another long silence. Then, very softly, Mulder said, “I asked you this once, but I’ll ask it again. Do you want me to leave?”

Again she seemed to be considering it, and Mulder held his breath in timeless agony. At last, she closed her eyes and shook her head, and when she spoke again, her voice was barely above a whisper. “No. I don’t want you to go; I want you to stay. God help me, I want you to stay.” She looked at him again, and her voice firmed up a little. “But it has to be on my terms.”

He looked at her for a moment, then nodded slowly. He knew he was about to make a commitment, and he did not enter into such things lightly. But he had chosen this path yesterday afternoon, and he knew he had to stay on it to its conclusion, whatever that conclusion might be.

“Anything, Scully,” he said simply. “I’ll do anything for you.”

She seemed to study his face for a moment, then she nodded slightly. “Okay, Mulder. Okay. What you have to do…what I need from you…is respect.” She put her hand to his lips to still his objection, then went on. “I don’t mean respect in the professional sense. I know I have that; I’m confident of it, and it is one of the many reasons that I love you.” Mulder shivered slightly as he realized that this was the first time she had spoken those words.

“And I don’t mean respect for my independence as a person, because I know that I have that also. And again, that is another of the countless reasons that I love you.” She took his hand and squeezed it briefly, then let it go again. “What I mean is respect for my beliefs.” She reached up and lightly touched the gold cross at her throat. “For my faith. I don’t ask that you share my faith, but I want — I NEED — for you to honor mine.”

“Scully…” He stopped, and tried to think. His first instinct was to deny what she was saying, to insist that he DID respect her beliefs, and always had. But he knew in his heart that it wasn’t true, and he also knew that if he lied to her now, she would know it, and it would all be over.. He felt tears forming in his eyes again, and tried to blink them away, but it just made his vision blurry. He wiped at his eyes angrily. “Dammit, Scully, this is so hard.”

“I know,” she said softly, looking deep into his eyes with love and compassion. “I know it’s hard. It’s hard for me, too. Neither one of us is very good at expressing our feelings. But if we truly want this, we have to do it. Because I NEED your respect, Mulder. Doing without is not an option. If you can’t…come to terms with this part of me, then there can be no future for us.”

“I don’t know where to begin,” he muttered.

She gently grasped his hand again, and this time she allowed the contact to continue. “Why don’t you begin by answering my question. What do you think the experience I had last night means?”

He stared at her, trying to think. He knew he’d blown it the first time, but he really didn’t know what it meant. No, that was a lie; he knew what he thought, and it wasn’t what she wanted to hear. But he had to tell the truth. He had to. There was no other way. Looking down at her hand resting on his, and wondering if this was the last time he would see their hands together, he said, very low, “I think you had a waking dream, Scully. I think you were in such a fugue from the emotional turmoil I put you through, that your mind created Kevin for you, as a way out.” He looked back up at her face, trying to gauge her reaction, but she was giving nothing away. “I think you imagined it.” Pause. “But I think you believe it really happened.”

Time seemed to stop. Scully stared into his eyes, probing, searching. He felt completely naked and vulnerable, and after a moment he realized that she was still waiting. Waiting for more. And after another moment, he realized what it was she was waiting for.

“What do YOU think it means, Scully?” he asked.

Her eyes closed, and for one bleak instant Mulder thought it was all over.. But then her eyes opened again, and it was Scully looking at him. His partner Scully. His friend Scully. The only one he trusted. “I think it was a miracle,” she said quietly, and she squeezed his hand again. “I think it was a gift from God.”

He knew they were not quite out of the woods yet; there was one more thing he had to say. Fortunately, he knew what it was. Even more fortunately, it was the truth. “I can accept that.”

And then she was in his arms at last, hugging him, and he was hugging her, and for a long time neither of them spoke. Finally Scully broke the silence, her voice muffled against his chest. “God, Mulder, I was so scared.”

“So was I,” he said softly, stroking her hair. “I was terrified. I was sure that whatever I said it would be the wrong thing. Oh, God.” He breathed into her hair, and tried to draw her even closer. “Oh, God.” He couldn’t believe this was finally happening. It was too much; it was overwhelming. He knew that there was still a rough road ahead, but at least now they were on it together.

Finally, she drew away from him a bit. “Mulder? Will you do something for me?”

“Anything, Scully” he replied, echoing his words from before. “I’ll do anything for you.”

“Will you….will you put my bracelet back on for me?”

He smiled at her, and she smiled back. “That’s an easy one,” he said. He took the bracelet from her and slid it back onto her wrist, then raised her hand to his lips and kissed it lightly. “There. It’s back where it belongs.”

“Yes, it is,” she said, turning her wrist and looking at the ornament. “It’s right where it belongs.”

Mulder suddenly felt nervous, and after a moment he realized the cause. Hesitantly, he said, “Scully?” She looked up at him, but didn’t speak. “May I…may I kiss you?”

Still she didn’t speak, but continued to look at him, studying his face. He didn’t know what she was looking for, and after a moment he started to feel uncomfortable. “Scully? Did I say something wrong?”

She shook her head, still studying him. “No. No, I want you to kiss me. I want it so bad. But once we kiss, everything will change, and I want to remember what you looked like…before.”

“Oh.” Somehow that made sense to him. Very softly: “Okay, Scully. Take all the time you need.”

After a couple more minutes, she smiled and nodded. “Okay. I’m ready.”

The first contact was dry, awkward and uncomfortable. Mulder drew back and shifted his position slightly, trying to make things better, but the difference in their heights was making it difficult. Finally, Scully put a hand on his chest. “Just a minute.” She braced one hand on his shoulder and the other on the back of the sofa and levered herself up onto his lap, then put her arms back around his neck again. “There. That’s better.”

“It certainly is.” Their lips met, and this time it was perfect.

After a timeless interval, their lips parted again, and Scully rested her head on his shoulder. When she finally spoke, her voice was dreamy. “That was…profound.” Mulder felt a thrill chase down his spine, and he cuddled her closer. She shifted slightly, and raised her head and looked up at him. Her eyes were dark blue and luminous, her expression serious. “This isn’t going to be easy, is it?”

He shook his head and smiled. “No. Nothing is ever easy for us. If it were easy, it wouldn’t be any fun.”

She chuckled and lay her head back down on his shoulder again. “As long as we’re together, I don’t care how hard it is. We’ll find a way. We’ll make it work.”

Mulder laughed, too. “Hey, Scully, I’ll cut you a deal. I’ll overthrow the Consortium, if you’ll be the one who breaks the news about us to Bill..”

She giggled and nuzzled her face into his neck. “Troublemaker.”

They sat together in silence for awhile, barely moving, just feeling the moment. At length, Scully lifted her head again and gazed up at him, a shy, hesitant smile on her face. “Mulder?”

“Yes, Scully?”

“Will you…will you sleep next to me tonight? I’m not ready for…for anything else. At least, not yet. But I want you next to me. I want to know what it feels like to wake up in your arms.”

Mulder felt his throat constricting, and tears stung his eyes. “God, Scully.” Ever so gently, he stroked her cheek, then planted a soft kiss on her lips, lingering just a moment. “This is so intense. I…I’d love to sleep next to you. But what about your mother?”

Scully arched an eyebrow at him and smiled. “I didn’t think she was your type.” She shook her head and laughed. “Seriously, Mulder, don’t worry about it. I don’t think Mom will mind. She’s had her eye on you for a long time.” She kissed him, then slid down off his lap and took both of his hands in hers. “Come on, partner. Let’s go to bed.”


Chapter 4: RECONCILIATION. In which a troubled man discovers a higher truth.

This chapter is rated PG-13.

Margaret Scully awoke at her usual time on the day after Christmas. For just a moment she snuggled against her pillow, and considered staying in bed. There was really no reason why she should have to get up, and the bed was so soft, so warm.

Then she remembered. The dishes from Christmas dinner. She should have done them last night, but she’d been so tired, having stayed up all night the night before. She briefly considered the possibility that Fox and Dana might have done them after she went to bed, but she suspected that they had had other things to occupy their time.

She shivered as she remembered the events of the last two days. It had been such a hard time for both of them, and there had been so little she could do. Still, things had seemed to be working out when she’d excused herself and gone to bed the night before. They still hadn’t opened up to each other, but Fox had come to Dana, as Maggie had known he would, and she had hoped that once they had a chance to be alone together, they would find the necessary words. The fact that the still, soft voice that lived deep inside of Maggie had allowed her to go to bed, and then drift off to sleep, was a good sign.

But now it was morning. The dishes. With a sigh, she threw back the blankets and climbed slowly out of bed. <<Time was, I would have rolled out of bed,>> she thought. <<But I’m getting older.>> Not that it bothered her overmuch; her aching joints (so far just in the mornings, when she first woke up), and all the other little signs that her body was gradually running down, just meant that she was that much closer to being with Bill again.

A small part of her, carefully suppressed in the back of her mind, longed to go to him now. That part was always there, whispering to her, but she knew better than to listen to it. The fact that the Church would not approve was only a small part of her reason for not listening; although she and Bill had both always been devout, they had never allowed anyone’s dogma to interfere with doing what they thought was right.

The more important reason to resist the voice was her promise to her husband, that horrible night five years before. She closed her eyes for a moment and let herself remember.


They had had dinner with Dana in her apartment. It had been a short visit, shorter than Maggie had wished, but Bill had seemed anxious to get home, and she had let him take the lead, as always. Maggie would wonder, later, if things might have been different if they had stayed. Maybe her daughter’s medical skills could have saved the man they both loved. But there was no way of knowing, no way of going back.

The promise had come while Bill lay dying in her arms, during the terrible, lonely wait for the paramedics. His face was pale and sweaty, his breathing harsh and labored. She held his head, crying and praying, tears streaming down her face. The still, soft voice was quiet, and that scared her even more than the obvious agony her husband was experiencing.

“M-Maggie…” Bill’s voice was soft, so soft she could barely hear him.

“Shhh,” she replied. “Don’t try to talk. Save your strength. Help is coming.”

He moaned, and a new wave of pain crossed his features. “No…no time,” he gasped.

“No, Bill! Please, no! You’ve got to hang on. I can’t live without you!”

That seemed to get his attention. He turned his head slightly, and looked up into her eyes. “Maggie,” he repeated, his voice still a whisper.

“Yes, Bill. I’m here, Bill. I’ll always be here. Just…try to hang on..” Her voice cracked, and she let a single sob escape.

“Maggie…” he gasped, and tried to suck in air through his mouth. “Can’t…breathe.” Another gasp. “Can’t….”

“Yes, you can! Oh, Bill, you CAN breathe. You must!”

“No. Time’s…up.”

His eyes closed, and she felt terror rising in her throat. She shook his shoulder, gently, and In the distance, she heard a siren. “Bill,” she begged. “Don’t go, Bill! Please don’t go.”

His eyes fluttered open, and somehow she knew that it was for the last time. “Can’t breathe,” he repeated. “Maggie…love. You…” he stopped again, and gasped for air one last time. Then: “You’ve got to breathe. For both of us.”

And then he was gone.

Maggie closed her eyes and cried; long, wracking sobs. The siren in the distance grew louder, and then the paramedics were pounding on the front door. She didn’t want to move, she didn’t want to go to the door. She just wanted to hold her husband; she didn’t wanted to admit the men who would tell her what she already knew: that Bill was gone forever.

The pounding on the door was repeated, and she knew she had to answer it, or they would break it down. With a sigh, she opened her eyes, and for just a moment she let her gaze caress Bill’s features. She felt all the love and longing of more than 30 years of marriage, and she gently brushed her fingers against his cheek. “I promise, Bill,” she said. “I’ll breathe for both of us. I promise.” And she got up, gently laying his head on the floor, and went to answer the door.


Maggie sighed and opened her eyes again. Sometimes she needed that. Sad as it made her to remember that night, sometimes she needed the catharsis. She took a tissue from the box on the nightstand and wiped her eyes, then pulled on her robe and went out into the hall.

She frowned as she saw the door to the guest bedroom standing open. Fox Mulder had never struck her as being a morning person, an impression Dana had confirmed to her on several occasions. She stepped over to the open door and looked inside, and her unease deepened.

The bed had not been slept in. Nothing had been disturbed; nothing was out of place. There was no sign that anyone had been in the room at all.

She wondered if things had perhaps not gone well the night before, after all. Perhaps Dana’s walls had been too high and too strong, or Fox’s own pain had been too great, and he had finally turned and walked away. She tried to listen for the still, soft voice, but it wasn’t saying anything to her at the moment, and that also worried her.

Well, nothing to be done about it now, if that was indeed what had happened. Nothing to do but to pick up the pieces. Assuming it was necessary. And it still might be okay; they might just have fallen asleep on the sofa downstairs, as Dana had on Christmas Eve.

She walked down the hallway towards the front stairs, then stopped again as she came to her daughter’s old room. The door was closed, and Maggie stood looking at it for a moment, wondering if she should knock. A wild thought crossed the back of her mind, and she took another step closer to the door, and cocked her ear to listen, holding her breath. Then she smiled.

She heard voices, softly murmuring to each other. And then she heard Dana laugh.


Thirty minutes later she was up to her elbows in dishwater. Fox and Dana had still not come downstairs, and she had no intention of disturbing them before they were ready. She knew that Dana was probably nervous, especially about having allowed Fox to spend the night in her room. Maggie and Bill had always been strict on that topic: No visitors of the opposite sex in their childrens’ bedrooms. And while Maggie had to admit, at least to herself, that the situation made her a little uncomfortable, she wasn’t about to interfere with something that so obviously made Dana happy.

Her little girl was happy. What a profoundly wonderful thing. Such a welcome change.

The doorbell rang. Maggie raised her eyebrows; who on earth would be out ringing doorbells at five minutes until eight in the morning on the day after Christmas? Stripping off her rubber gloves, she made her way to the living room and opened the front door.

“Billy!” In a flash she was wrapping her arms around her son’s waist and giving him a warm, affectionate hug, before releasing him and allowing him to enter the house. “It’s so nice to see you! What a wonderful surprise. I thought you were going to be at sea until after the first of the year.”

He smiled as he shut the door. “So did I. But the sea trials were a total bomb. They are at this moment TOWING the ship back to Charleston. I guess that’ll teach them not to schedule trials over a holiday.” His smile broadened. “And I copped a 72 hour pass.”

“Oh, that’s wonderful,” Maggie said, leading him over to the sofa. “I mean, it isn’t wonderful about the problems with the ship, but it’s wonderful to have this opportunity to see you. Are Tara and the baby coming?”

He shook his head. “No. They’re still in Seattle with her folks, and it didn’t seem worth it to have them fly all the way out here just so we could have one day together. Besides, airline reservations are almost impossible to get on short notice, this time of year. I’ll see them soon enough.” He sat down on the sofa next to his mother. “By the way, I tried to call Dana when I passed through Washington, but got no answer. Any idea where she might be?”

“Oh, yes. She’s here,” Maggie replied, then felt a slight tremor of apprehension as she suddenly realized the potential for conflict in the situation.

Bill was already rising to his feet. “That’s great,” he said, heading for the stairs. “I suppose she’s still in bed. I’ll just go up there and drag her downstairs.”

Maggie rose to her feet and ran after her son, catching him at the foot of the stairs and laying a hand on his elbow. “Bill,” she said. “Wait a minute.”

He turned to look at her, and his smile suddenly disappeared as he took in the look on his mother’s face. “Mom? Is something wrong?” He glanced up the staircase, then back at Maggie. “She isn’t…she isn’t sick again, is she?”

“No, Bill, she isn’t sick,” Maggie said quietly, and a shiver went through her in spite of herself as she remembered those horrible times. “Come here. Sit with me for a minute.” She led him back to the sofa and they both sat down again.

Maggie wondered how to begin. There really wasn’t any good way to say this, and she knew that Bill’s reaction to the change in the relationship between Dana and Fox would not be positive. Still, better for him to find out about it this way, and at least have a few minutes to prepare himself, rather than being taken completely by surprise.

“Bill,” she said, choosing her words carefully. “Normally, this is not something I would wish to discuss with you. As you know, once you kids reached adulthood your father and I felt that it was not our place to interfere in your personal relationships, either within the family or outside of it. Naturally, we always hoped that our children would be friends with one another, and of course we wanted only your happiness in your relations with others, as well. However, as I said, we did not feel it was appropriate for us to interfere.”

She paused, and looked at her son for a moment; he nodded for her to continue. “That’s why this is so difficult for me to say,” she went on. “Because I am about to…interfere in your relationship with Dana. But that is only because I foresee problems, if you are not forewarned of something.” She shrugged her shoulders. “It may be that I am doing you a tremendous injustice in anticipating these difficulties. If so, I wish to beg your forgiveness in advance.”

Bill shifted uneasily in his seat. “Mother? What are you getting at? What’s going on? You said Dana’s not sick…” He trailed off, a questioning look on his face.

“Dana is not sick,” Maggie agreed. “She is fine. In fact, she is better than she has been in a very long time.” She stopped, unsure of how to go on. She was sorely tempted to back away from this; she really did feel uncomfortable at the idea of meddling in her childrens’ lives. But she had to do this. She couldn’t just let Dana and Bill walk into a potential firestorm unawares — nor would it be fair to Fox.

“So what’s the problem?” From his tone, it sounded like Bill was becoming defiant. That was his standard reaction to anything he didn’t understand: Defiance and anger. She loved her son dearly, more than life itself, but that didn’t stop her from seeing his flaws, nor did it stop her from blaming herself for every single one of those flaws.

No choice but to meet the matter head-on. “Bill,” she said, taking one of his hands in both of hers. “I know you don’t get along well with Fox Mulder.”

His eyes narrowed. “What’s he got to do with this?”

“He’s here, too, Bill.”

He stared at her for a moment, then shrugged angrily. “So? I mean, you said it yourself: I can’t stand the man. But if you chose to invite him to your house, that’s your business. I know you didn’t expect me to be here this weekend.” Another shrug. “I’ll do the best I can to be civil. As long as HE does the same.”

Maggie shook her head. “It’s not that simple, Bill. First, I did not invite Fox over here – – although I have no objection to his presence, and I have invited him to visit me in the past. I like Fox very much, and I value his friendship; I wish he would visit me more often. I know that he has flaws, but they are more than outweighed by his good qualities, and it grieves me that you can see only the former, and not the latter.”

“Mother!” Bill said in exasperation. “What’s this all about?”

She sighed again. “Bill, he’s upstairs with Dana.”

He stared at her again, and his eyes narrowed further. “What…what exactly do you mean by that?”

“He’s upstairs with Dana,” she repeated. “In her room. He’s been there since last night.”

Her son’s eyes widened, and his cheeks started to redden. Then came the explosion. “Jesus, Mother!” And he jumped from the sofa and strode rapidly towards the stairs.

“Bill!” Maggie sprang to her feet and went after him again, but this time he shrugged her off and started up the stairs. She clapped her hands together sharply. “William Matthew Christopher Scully! Come back down here this minute!”

He froze. For an agonizing moment, she thought he might disobey her. Finally, however, he turned around, and slowly descended back into the living room. He allowed himself to be led back to the sofa, and the two of them sat down again.

They sat staring at each other for a pair of minutes. Finally, Bill said in a low tone of voice, “Why did you stop me, Mother?”

“Because you were about to do something all of us would regret.”

“Speak for yourself, Mother,” he said coldly. “I was going to enjoy it.”

They sat in silence for another moment. Then Maggie said, “May I ask what, exactly, you thought you were going to do?”

“I was going to break it up, get him out of there.” He looked at her, amazement on his face. “Hell, Mother, I was only going to enforce your own rule.”

“That was a long time ago, Bill, and it was a rule for teenagers. Dana is no longer a teenager, and she is no longer my dependent. She makes her own rules, just as you and Charlie do. Just as Melissa did.”

“You can’t tell me that you approve of this!”

She shook her head. “It’s not for me to approve or disapprove. Dana is a grown woman, and she makes these decisions for herself now.” She thought about it for a moment. Then: “And no, to be perfectly honest, I am not entirely comfortable with the situation. I wasn’t raised that way, and your father and I tried not to raise our children that way. But times change, and there’s no use in trying to hold back the tide. And I respect Dana too much to second guess her on such an important matter, in any case.”

“Even under your own roof, Mother? What a bunch of politically correct bullshit!”

She looked at him for a moment in silence, trying to decide what to say, and when she did speak her voice was very quiet. “Bill, are you under the impression that this is the first time something like this has happened in this house?” Suddenly he didn’t seem to want to meet her eyes. “Or, to put it more precisely, are you under the impression that I think this is the first time something like this has happened?”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“Don’t you?” She arched an eyebrow at him. “Did you really think your father and I didn’t know what was going on between you and Tara, ‘under our own roof’, for nearly two YEARS before you married her? Did you think we were blind, or merely stupid? Or perhaps you thought I had no sense of smell. I was the one who did all the laundry, as you may recall.” He shifted uncomfortably, and still he refused to meet her eyes. “Or perhaps I should mention the time I found a pair of Tara’s underpants tangled up in your bedclothes.”

Now he did look at her, and his eyes were big and round. “You…you found —” He licked his lips nervously. “What did you do with them?”

“I washed them and gave them back to her. What would you expect me to do?”

“Why…why didn’t you just give them back to me?”

She smiled slightly. “Well, they pretty clearly weren’t your size, Bill.” More seriously: “And in any case, you quite obviously did not wish for me to know what was going on, and I did not wish to make you uncomfortable by rubbing your nose in the fact that I DID know. You see, I respected your decision, Bill, just as I now respect Dana’s.”

“The two situations are totally different,” he muttered.

“You’re damned right they are!” she said, suddenly angry. “Do you want me to tell you how they’re different? They are different because Dana is considerably older now, and much more mature, than you were then. The other difference is that you have this irrational hostility towards Fox Mulder, while she was never anything but gracious and friendly towards Tara. Even though I am pretty sure Dana knew what was going on, as well. And those are the ONLY differences, Bill. The only ones.”

Her son pulled back from her slightly, apparently stunned at her outburst.. He just sat there for a moment, looking at her, his eyes large, wounded circles. Finally, his voice very low, and with a tremor in it: “Mother….what is it you want me to do?”

Maggie felt her anger melting away. More than anything in the world, she wanted just to reach out and take him in her arms and comfort him, as she had so many times when he was a little boy. But much as her arms ached to hold him, she knew that if she did she would risk undoing whatever good had just been accomplished. So instead, her hands folded carefully in her lap, she said, very softly, “What I want, Bill, is for you to be the kind, generous, loving man than I know you really are.”

She paused for just a moment, then went on. “I want you to be a friend to Dana, and I want you to be gracious to Fox. And I want you to remember that while he is close to your sister, and very important to her, he is also close to ME, and that he is a guest under my roof. That’s what I want, Bill.”

He sat silently for a moment, and she watched while his internal conflict played out across his features. Finally, he shook his head. “Mother…” But his voice trailed off, and he seemed unable to finish the sentence.

At that moment, Maggie heard a door open and close upstairs, followed by the sound of voices and laughter.

“Bill,” she said urgently, reaching out and touching his hand again. “Bill, we are out of time. In about thirty seconds Dana and Fox are going to be coming down those stairs, and you MUST decide.” Still he didn’t speak. Desperately: “Bill, listen to them. Listen to HER. Listen to how happy your sister is. Listen to her, and tell me when the last time was that you heard Dana laugh like that.”

That did it. Bill’s face seemed to crumple inward, and his shoulders sagged. He closed his eyes, and took a shaky breath, then opened them and looked up at her again. “All right, Mother,” he said, the words obviously costing him a great deal, and Maggie felt a moment of pride at this demonstration of his strength of character. “All right. I’ll try.”

“You’re a good boy, Billy,” she said, and she hugged him briefly and fiercely. “You’re a good boy.” Then she released him, and together the two of them rose from the sofa, and went to meet Dana and Fox.


Chapter 5: DECOMPRESSION AND RELATIVITY. In which two people grow closer.

This chapter is rated PG-13.

“Mom, are you sure this is a good idea?” Scully asked as she finished wiping clean one of the plates from lunch, and handed it to her mother for drying.

“Am I sure what is a good idea?” the older woman replied, working her dishtowel in smooth, regular circles.

Scully shrugged. “You know…leaving them in the living room, alone together.”

“You mean Fox and Bill?” Mrs. Scully asked, glancing at her daughter. Scully nodded. “I think it will be okay.”

“I don’t know,” Scully replied. “I’m worried. They’ve both been pretty well-behaved this morning, but …well, you know how poorly they get along most of the time.” She tried to think of a way to express the unease she was feeling, but all she could come up with was to repeat, “I’m worried.”

Bill had arrived at Mrs. Scully’s home that morning, unexpectedly. Scully’s head had already been spinning as a consequence of the emotional rollercoaster ride she and Mulder had been on since the day before Christmas; seeing her brother standing next to the sofa as she and her partner came down the stairs that morning, hand in hand, had simply added to her internal turmoil.

She had immediately braced herself for an explosion, and she’d felt Mulder tense up, too. <<Not now,>> she’d thought desperately. <<Not so soon. We’ve only just started on this new thing between us; can’t we even have twelve hours together before something bad has to happen?>>

Much to her surprise, the explosion had not come. Bill had been polite, if a little tense and distant, and Mrs. Scully had seemed completely happy and open. Scully hadn’t known quite what to make of the situation, and it was clear that Mulder was very much on edge, as well, but after awhile they’d both started to settle down, and by mid-morning things had seemed almost pleasant, at least as far as Bill was concerned.

But then, of course, her core of insecurity had found something else to worry about: Mulder. She was certain, at the top of her mind, that she was being hypersensitive; she even knew that this hypersensitivity was because of the newness and fragility of their relationship. But she couldn’t help feeling that Mulder was pulling away from her, trying to put some distance between them, both physically and emotionally. He seemed to be uncomfortable holding her hand, and when she’d sat next to him on the sofa, after breakfast, he’d edged away from her slightly.

Scully suddenly wondered if this drawing away was due to Bill’s presence. She toyed with that thought for a moment, and decided that it felt right. It might not be all of the reason — certainly the fact that last night they’d suddenly and rather traumatically torn down a lot of the barriers they’d each ereected must have something to do with it as well — but she had a strong feeling that having her brother there in the room, watching them, was having an inhibiting effect on Mulder.

She’d have to talk to him about that.

Scully realized that her mother had been speaking to her. “I’m sorry, Mom,” she said. “I was miles away. What did you just say?”

Mrs. Scully smiled at her indulgently. “I said that if you’re finished with that plate, hand it over, and we’ll be done.”

Scully looked at the sink and counter, and realized with surprise that her mother was right; the plate in her hand was the last item. She handed it over, then pulled the plug in the sink drain and peeled off her gloves, before turning to watch as her mother finished drying the plate and putting it away.

“Mom,” she said suddenly. “What were you and Bill talking about before Mulder and I came downstairs this morning?”

Her mother looked at her thoughtfully for a moment, then nodded slightly. “We were talking about you and Fox, of course.”

For some reason Scully felt embarrassed at this statement, and she looked down at the water swirling out the drain. “Oh.” Steeling herself, she looked back up at her mother. “What did you — what did HE say about us?”

Mrs. Scully hesitated, and this time she shook her head. “That was a private conversation, Dana, and even though you and Fox were the subjects of our discussion, I don’t feel comfortable telling you the details. You can ask Bill sometime, if you want to. You can tell him I don’t object.”

“I’m not sure I want to ask Bill,” Scully muttered.

“I can understand why you might feel that way,” her mother replied. “And that’s a decision you’ll have to make for yourself.” She paused for a moment, then added, “I guess I can tell you this much. As you’ve probably guessed, your brother is not entirely happy with the new developments between you and Fox. However, I think he is willing to give it a chance. I think he really is going to try, Dana.”

Scully nodded. She hesitated for a moment, then said, “What about you, Mom? Are you okay with this?”

Her mother raised her eyebrows. “Me? Dana, it’s not a question of whether I’m happy or not; it’s a question of whether YOU are happy. And you certainly seem to be. I know it’s all very new and fresh, and you’re both still feeling your way, but I really think things are going to work out for you. You’re both good people, and you obviously care about each other very much.”

Scully looked at her mother for a moment, then said, in a low voice, “You didn’t answer my question, Mom.”

Her mother looked back at her curiously. “Are you asking for my approval, Dana?”

“Maybe a little. Mostly, I just want to know….I don’t know.” Scully felt all tangled up inside; and for a moment she couldn’t find the words. Then she blurted out, “I just want to know that there’s somebody out there pulling for us. I want to know that we’re not completely alone.”

Mrs. Scully reached out and drew her daughter into a hug. “You’re not alone dear; you’ll never be alone. And I’m sorry; I hadn’t realized how important my opinion was to you.” Scully felt warmth spreading through her as her mother gently caressed her hair. “Yes, Dana, I’m very happy for you. I’ve wanted this for you for a long time. I’ve always known that there was a special person waiting for you somewhere, and I’m overjoyed that you finally seem to have found him. And to have it turn out to be someone as wonderful and kind and caring as Fox Mulder, well, that’s just icing on the cake.”

Scully hadn’t even realized that she was tense, but now she felt her muscles relaxing as she stood in her mother’s embrace, and she closed her eyes for a moment and rested her head on the other woman’s shoulder. “You’re such a good mom,” she murmured.

“I’ve had lots of experience.”

The two women stood together for a moment, not moving. Finally, Dana raised her head and took a step back. “I suppose we should go out and see how the guys are doing,” she said.

“Yes, I suppose we should.” Mrs. Scully smiled at her, and went on, “I was thinking maybe Bill and I could go out for awhile this afternoon, and give you and Fox some time alone together.”

Scully felt herself blushing slightly. “Mom…that’s really not necessary. Mulder and I…well, we…”

“Hush, dear,” her mother replied. “You don’t have to explain anything, and I’m not jumping to any conclusions or trying to push you into anything.. All I meant is that a new relationship takes a lot of work, and much of that work has to be done in private. I’m sure you and Fox have things you want to talk about. And if not, then maybe you can just cuddle on the sofa and watch a ballgame. Or whatever. You both need some time to relax a bit, and get away from all the tension of the last few days.” Scully started to object again, but Mrs. Scully put her hand over her daughter’s mouth. “Please, Dana. Let me do this for you. Think of it as a Christmas gift.”

Scully looked at her mother for a moment, then smiled slightly and nodded.. “Okay, Mom. I guess it does sound nice. Thank you.”

“What’s a mother for?” Mrs. Scully said. She leaned forward and kissed her daughter on the cheek. “Now you just wait out here for a moment, and I’ll go pry Bill loose from the television. Okay?”


A few minutes later, Scully stepped into the living room. Mulder was lying stretched out on the sofa in his customary sprawl, half on and half off, watching a football game. Scully paused for a moment in the doorway and just looked at him. God, he was beautiful. And how wonderful it was to be able to think that, without having to feel wistful or guilty or depressed. She could even say it out loud, now, if she wanted to. She felt incredibly liberated.

“What are you thinking about?” he asked.

She suddenly realized that while she’d been standing there, looking at him, his eyes had left the ballgame and were now focused on her. She blushed slightly, and tried to think of a quip to put him off with, but then she remembered afresh: She didn’t have to put him off. She was allowed to say things like this now.

“I was just thinking about how beautiful you are.”

He raised his eyebrows, and glanced down at himself, then back up at her. “Me? Beautiful?”

“You. Beautiful.” She walked over and stood in front of the sofa, gazing down at him. She let her eyes rake over his form in frank admiration, something she had never allowed herself to do before, not even last night.. “The most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen.”

“I thought that was supposed to be my line.” He smiled slightly, and looked a little embarrassed.

“Oh, I’m not trying to steal your thunder,” she said, as he sat up and moved his feet out of the way so that she could sit down next to him. “It’s just…” She shook her head, and smiled back at him. “It’s just that I don’t have to leave my thoughts about you locked away in the vault anymore.”

He moved a little closer and took one of her hands in his. “That’s a good thing, isn’t it?”

She nodded. “It’s a very good thing. It’s lonely in the vault.”

“I’m sorry, Scully,” he said. “I never wanted you to be lonely.”

“It’s not your fault. It’s not anybody’s fault. It’s just one of those things that happened, and now it’s over.”

“I’m so glad,” he said.

“Me too.” She looked at him speculatively for a moment. Then: “So. Did you and Bill get along okay while Mom and I were in the kitchen?”

He shrugged. “We got along. We talked a bit. We watched the ballgame.” He smiled slightly. “It was really weird. It was almost like I was a human being or something.”

“What did you talk about?”

“Basketball, mostly. It turns out he’s a Knicks fan.”

She nodded. “I guess I knew that.”

His smiled broadened. “Hell, Scully, you should have told me that years ago. It would’ve made all the difference. Not much can stand between a couple of guys, if they’re both Knicks fans.”

She laughed. “Sort of like a lodge brotherhood?”

“Pretty much.” Mischief gleamed in his eyes. “But girls aren’t supposed to know about it.” He looked at her a moment longer, then broke eye contact and glanced around the room. “Say, Agent Scully?”

“Yes, Agent Mulder?”

“Have you noticed that other than ourselves this house appears to be empty?”

“Now that you mention it — yes, I have.”

“Funny, isn’t it,” he went on, “the way your mother and Bill cleared out of here in such a hurry? You’d almost think there was a conspiracy afoot..”

“For once, I think you may be right,” she replied with a little laugh. “In fact, I know you’re right. Mom told me as much before she came out here to collect Bill. She said she thought we needed some time alone.”

She moved closer to him on the sofa, and Mulder raised his eyebrows, his lips quirking in amusement. “Scully, are you saying that your mother told you she was getting herself and Bill out of the house so that we could make out in her living room?”

“Well, I don’t recall that she used those precise words, but that was the general idea. I think she wanted us to have a chance to decompress a bit.” Scully reached up and lightly touched his cheek. “She said to consider it a Christmas present.”

“Well thank you, Santa,” he said, and bent over and kissed her.

After a timeless interval, they pulled apart again. For a long moment she looked up at him in silence, studying his face. Then, very softly: “Mulder? Can I ask you something?”

“I think…” He stopped and cleared his throat. “I think that anything you might want to ask of me in that tone of voice would have to be answered in the affirmative.”

She chuckled, and nuzzled her face against his neck for a moment. God, he felt so good. But this was going to have to wait just a few minutes longer. With a sigh, she pulled back a little and looked back up at him again. “Why have you been so distant today?”

He raised his eyebrows. “Have I been distant?” She nodded silently. “I’m sorry, Scully; I hadn’t noticed.” He stopped and seemed to think about it for a minute. “I guess maybe I have been. As to why…” He seemed to be struggling to find the right words. Finally: “I guess I’m just not used to this yet. I’m not used to the idea that I can just touch you anytime I want to.” He shrugged. “Old habits die hard.”

“I guess I can understand that,” she said.

He thought some more, then added, “Also, I have to admit that I’m a little intimidated at the thought of fondling you in front of your mother and your brother.”

She laughed. “I’m not asking you to do anything that would embarrass anyone,” she replied. “I’m just asking for…small things. I want you to hold my hand. I want you to…to….I don’t know. Put your arm around me when I sit down next to you. Give me a kiss on the cheek just because you feel like it.” She felt a little embarrassed to be saying these things. <<But this is Mulder,>> she reminded herself again. <<It’s okay to say these things to him. He’ll understand.>>

“I’m sorry, Scully,” he said, moving closer to her and putting his arm around her shoulders, and nuzzling his face into her hair. “Is this better?”

She leaned into him. “Much.” They sat in silence for a moment. Then she went on. “You know, it’s okay to do this sort of thing when other people are around, too.”

“I know. I’m sorry.”

“Don’t be sorry,” she said softly. “This is a big step for both of us. We’ve got a lot of learning to do, a lot of work.”

“If it’s all like this, I’ll be there with bells on,” he said, brushing his lips against her ear.

Scully shivered. “Me too.”

“So,” he murmured. “Want to go upstairs and cuddle?”

“No,” she said, lying back on the sofa and pulling him down on top of her.. “I want to stay down here and cuddle.”

He raised his eyebrows. “But what about Bill and your mother?”

“They’re not here right now,” she pointed out. “And if I know Mom, she’ll find some excuse to phone us before they do come back.” She shrugged. “And if they walk in on us cuddling together, so what?” Again she studied his face for a moment. “Mulder, this is terribly important to me. I don’t want to hide what we have. I don’t want to feel as if we need to be ashamed of it.”

“Oh, Scully,” he said softly. “Beautiful, beautiful Scully. Don’t you know? You could never do anything you had to be ashamed of. You couldn’t do anything shameful if your life depended on it.” And he leaned down and kissed her again.

The kiss went on for quite awhile.

Finally, their lips moved apart again. Scully lay absolutely still, drinking it all in, just feeling his weight pressing her down into the sofa cushions. It felt so good, so perfect. Nothing had ever felt this way before. No man had ever treated her so sweetly, so tenderly — not even Jack, and he had really loved her, even if she had not been able to love him back.

Maybe that was the difference.

“Hey, Scully.” She was pulled out of her reverie by the sound of his voice, barely above a whisper, his warm breath caressing her ear as he spoke.

“Hey, Mulder,” she replied.

“I’m not too heavy for you, am I? I’m not hurting you?”

“Oh, no,” she said. “It feels good. So good.” She shifted her position slightly, trying to bring more of her body into contact with his. She felt something hard pressing against her thigh, and couldn’t help but chuckle a little as she realized what it was.

“What are you laughing about?” he asked, unease evident in his voice.

<<He’s embarrassed by it,>> she thought in amazement. <<Mulder, you don’t have to be embarrassed. It’s okay.>> Aloud, she whispered, “I was just wondering…are you packing your gun in an unusual location, or are you just glad to see me?”

She knew it was a mistake almost as soon as the words were past her lips, but there was of course no way to call them back. He froze for a moment, then started to push himself up off of her. Instinctively, she wrapped her arms more tightly around him, and tried to pull him back down.

“Scully….I…” He couldn’t seem to get any words out.

“Mulder, it’s okay,” she whispered. “It’s okay. I wasn’t laughing at you, and I’m certainly not offended. I’d be disappointed if you DIDN’T have that reaction to me. Please come back to me?” They were both very still for a moment, then his body relaxed, and he settled back down on top of her again.

“I’m sorry, Scully,” he said, staring down into her eyes.

“There’s nothing for you to be sorry about,” she replied. “It’s perfectly natural. And, as I already told you, I like it. I like very much that I can make you feel that way.”

“You’ve always made me feel that way,” he replied.

She cocked an eyebrow at him. “Always?”

“Well, not always,” he admitted. “Not in the very beginning. But for a long, long time.” He hesitated, then went on, “Can we please not talk about it right now? It’s kind of…” His voice trailed off.

Scully nodded, and stretched her neck to plant a soft, chaste kiss on his mouth. “Of course we don’t have to talk about it. I’m sorry I said anything. The last thing I want to do is make you uncomfortable.” She pulled his face down to hers and kissed him again.

Their lips separated again, and Scully nuzzled her cheek against her partner’s. “That was nice,” she said. “It’s all nice. Every bit of it.” She nuzzled him some more, trying to explore every inch of his face with her own. Finally, she drew back, and looked into his eyes. “Mulder, have you ever studied relativity?”

He looked down at her and blinked, confusion written on his features. “A little, I guess.” A smile crept across his lips. “I remember one paper in particular. It was written by this tight-assed pathologist the Bureau wanted to foist off on me to discredit my work.”

She arched an eyebrow at him. “Anyone I know?”

“I don’t think so,” he replied. “Or maybe she just turned out to be someone other than who I thought she was.”

She nodded. “I think that must be it, and that just helps illustrate my point.” She paused for a moment, then continued, “You see, relativity teaches us that perception varies according to the frame of reference. That’s basic Einstein. Depending on your point of view, an object may vary in mass, in velocity, in physical size…even in position. And the important thing about this is that there is no ‘correct’ frame of reference. Every frame is just as valid as any other.”

“I guess I knew that,” he said. “It’s a hard concept to get your mind around, though.”

“Yes, it is.” She lay quietly in his arms for a moment. Then: “But there’s more to it even than that. Other thinkers came along who built on Einstein’s work. Heisenberg, for example, proved — as well as anything CAN be proved in modern physics — that we can never know anything with certainty. To take the simplesst example, we can know a particle’s position, or we can know its velocity. But we can’t ever know both at the same time.”

“Sounds like a smart man,” Mulder commented.

“He was. But the implications of his work are disturbing to some people. If you can never know anything with certainty, then what does that say about free will? What does it say about humanity’s role in the universe?”

“Does that disturb YOU?”

She nodded slowly. “Yes. Yes it does. In fact, it terrifies me. I think that’s the biggest reason why I’m so resistant to…extreme possibilities.” She looked up at him, peering deeply into his eyes again. “Do you see?” she asked. “If I can just quantify everything, and get it all down on paper, then I can have control over things.”

He hesitated for just an instant, then said, very softly, “That kind of control is an illusion, Scully.”

She closed her eyes and sighed, then looked back up at him again. “I know,” she said quietly. “I really do know. That’s one of the things I’ve learned from you, but I haven’t learned it very well. I still have a great deal of difficulty letting go, and allowing that illusion of control to slip away from me. The very idea makes me want to run and hide.” She paused for a moment, then went on, “And I think you are pretty much the opposite. You’ve given up too much control. You’re too inclined just to let yourself drift with the current. And it scares you; I know it does. Sometimes you seem so lost and scared, it makes me want to cry.”

They were silent for a long moment, and Scully was starting to worry that perhaps she’d said too much too soon. She was sure she was right, but maybe he wasn’t ready to hear it yet. Finally, he said, “There’s a lot of truth in what you say, Scully. I hadn’t ever really thought about it that way, but there’s a lot of truth in it. And you’re right, it does scare me sometimes; it scares me a lot.” He leaned down and kissed her briefly. “But I think that’s why we work so well together. Each of us complements the other’s weaknesses. Neither one of us is a truly complete person, by ourselves. But when we’re together, we make each other whole.”

Scully felt tears forming in her eyes. “Mulder…do you really think so?”

“I really think so. Relativity doesn’t really apply to people. If you can get close enough to another person, you can start to get inside her frame of reference, and add it to your own, and then everything starts to make MORE sense, rather than less.” And he kissed her again, and again they were quiet for awhile.

This time she was the one who broke the silence. “You know, I have no idea where that all came from.”

“Where what all came from?”

“You know. Einstein. Heisenberg. Relativity. Even I have to admit that it’s pretty weird to be talking about stuff like that when we’re curled up in each other’s arms.”

He smiled down at her. “It came from inside you, Scully. It was something you wanted to say. That made it important.” He hesitated again, then added, “It was pillow talk.”

She considered that for a moment. None of her previous lovers had been much for conversation, either in bed or out, and she’d never really considered the matter. When other women mentioned things their husbands or boyfriends had said when they were lying in bed together, Scully had dismissed it as unimportant. The very phrase “pillow talk” seemed to ooze triviality. But this hadn’t been unimportant, and it certainly wasn’t trivial.. It had been very…intimate.

She smiled up at her partner. “That was pillow talk?”

He nodded solemnly, but with a slight twinkle in his eye. “I think so. Did you like it?”

“I liked it very much. It made me feel closer to you.” She suddenly felt very shy. “Can we do it again sometime?”

“Absolutely. Every day for the rest of our lives.” And he leaned down and kissed her again, and this time the silence was not interrupted.


Chapter 6: DARK MIDNIGHT OF THE SOUL. In which demons are held at bay, and plans are made.

This chapter is rated PG.

December 29, 11:32 p.m.

Scully awoke in the darkness, and for a moment she could not remember where she was. The mattress was cold and lumpy, and the room felt odd and unfamiliar.

Then she remembered. Iowa. The Pull-R-Inn. Reports of strange lights in the sky at night over a small Midwestern town. Lights which had turned out to be a TV station’s news copter trying to get the goods on a corrupt local politician.

<<Par for the course,>> she thought. <<And one of the things that helps us maintain such a high solve rate. Get to the bottom of it, and you get a mark in the “win” column – – even if it turns out to have been a helicopter and a couple of soccer moms with overactive imaginations and too much time oon their hands.>>

She shivered slightly, and drew the blankets up close around her neck. Cold. It was so cold in the room. Mulder. That’s what she needed: a Mulder-blanket. She turned over in bed and reached out for him.

He wasn’t there.

She frowned. Where could he be? She listened carefully, but the room seemed perfectly quiet. Now that her eyes were adjusting to the dark, she could make out dim shadows: The low bureau set against the wall at the foot of the bed; the dark square of the television sitting on top of it; the doorway leading to the darkened bathroom. But no Mulder.

“I’m over here, Scully.”

She jumped, then turned over in bed again. He was sitting slouched in a chair by the window, and despite the gloom she somehow knew that he was looking at her.

“Sorry. I didn’t mean to scare you.” His voice was soft and warm, but also somewhat distant.

“You didn’t scare me,” she whispered back. Somehow it seemed the right thing, to whisper. “Just startled me a little.”

“I didn’t mean to do that, either,” he replied, now also whispering. “I think we’ve had enough surprises for one week. Don’t you?”

Scully nodded. Then, not sure whether he could see her, she said, “Yes, I do.” She hesitated, then went on. “Are you okay?”

There was a sense of motion in the darkness, and she decided that he must have shrugged. “Oh, mostly. Just couldn’t sleep. So I thought I’d get up and think for a bit.”

Scully considered that for a moment. She knew that he had bouts of insomnia, but there hadn’t been any episodes since they had finally made peace with their feelings for each other on Christmas Day, and Scully had been hoping against hope that maybe the insomnia was a thing of the past. That hope was unreasonable, and she’d known it — a problem that had been years in the making was not going to go away overnight, no matter how fervently she wished for it tto do so.

“You know you could have woke me up,” she said. “We could have watched a movie or something.”

“I know.” She could almost hear his smile in the darkness. “But you looked so sweet lying there — sound asleep, drooling into your pillow. I didn’t have the heart to disturb you.”

Reflexively, she wiped her mouth with her hand and laughed softly. “Drooling, was I? Well, at least it wasn’t on one of your suits this time.” She heard him chuckle. “Seriously, Mulder…you could have got me up. I’d have understood.”

“I know that. I do know it.”

“Why didn’t you?”

Pause. “I don’t know. The things I was thinking about….” Another pause. “It didn’t seem…fair. To bother you with them.”

Scully let a bit of exasperation into her voice. “Fair? Mulder this isn’t about fair. It’s about being there for each other, no matter what. I thought we’d agreed on that point.”

“We did,” he admitted. “Years ago.”

“But you keep running off on me,” she pointed out.

“I know. I don’t ever mean to do that to you, Scully; you have to know that. It’s just…sometimes I can’t seem to help myself. And since Antarctica I’ve been trying to do better.”

She thought about that for a moment, and the silence stretched out between them. Finally: “You have been doing better. And I appreciate it.”

“Only for you, Scully,” he said quietly. “I wouldn’t do it for anyone else. I couldn’t.”

“I know.” She waited for a moment, until she was sure that he wasn’t going to voluntarily advance the conversation. “So what were you thinking about?”

She heard a soft rustling sound, then the drapes covering the window next to Mulder slid back a few inches. A thin shaft of light trickled in, and now she could see his profile as he turned and looked out at the lights of the town. “Them,” he said softly.


“All those lights,” he replied. “All those people. Millions and millions of them, going about their daily affairs, earning a living, raising their kids, going to ballgames.” He turned to look back at her, and now she could see part of his face, the side towards the window, dimly illuminated by the faint shaft of light filtering in from outside. “And not one in a hundred thousand has any clue what’s really out there, waiting for them. Hardly any of them have seen the things we’ve seen.”

Quietly, Scully got out of bed and took the three steps necessary to bring her to his side. Reaching out, she found one of his hands and grasped it in both of hers, raising it to her lips for a gentle kiss before pressing it firmly to her breasts. Then she knelt down next to him and looked deeply into his eyes, and waited for him to continue.

“It’s just so damned hard sometimes, Scully,” he said after a moment. “It’s just so damned hard, keeping going, fighting for what we think is right, and always, it seems, getting the prize snatched away from us just when we think the battle is won.” He nodded towards the window. “And then I think about all those people, just trying to live their lives and be happy, and I wonder…”

His voice trailed off, and Scully waited for a moment to see if he would finish the sentence, but he didn’t seem inclined to do so. Finally, she whispered, “What do you wonder, Mulder?”

He looked back at her for a moment, then shrugged in resignation. “I wonder…I wonder about us.”

“What about us?”

“We’re two of the very few, Scully,” he said. “We’re two of the very few who really understand at least some of what’s going on. And among that tiny number, we’re almost the only ones who really care what happens to them.” He nodded towards the window again. “And I wonder if we have any right to jeopardize their future by taking even a few moments for ourselves.”

“Everyone has a right to be happy, Mulder,” she said quietly.

He nodded sharply. “I’m trying to believe that, Scully,” he replied. “I really am trying. But it’s so very hard sometimes. It’s not an idea that I’m accustomed to.”

“I know. It’s hard for me, too. Sometimes.” She rose slowly to a standing position, and drew him to his feet. “Come on, partner,” she said softly. “Let’s go back to bed.”

“I still don’t know if I can sleep, Scully.”

“That’s okay. We’ll just lie down for awhile and cuddle. If we sleep, we sleep, and if we don’t, we don’t.”

“I don’t know,” he said. “You should get your sleep, at least. I mean, just because I have insomnia is no reason why you shouldn’t —”

“I’m fine, Mulder,” she said, then laughed softly as she realized what she’d said. “No, really; I’ll be okay. I can nap on the plane tomorrow, if I need to.” She tugged at his hands and shivered slightly. “Come on. It’s cold. Let’s lie down.”

Mulder allowed himself to be led back to the bed. Scully tucked the covers up under his chin, then walked around to the other side and slid in next to him. She turned onto her side and looked at him for a moment: he was lying flat on his back, arms straight down at his sides, staring at the ceiling.

She leaned forward and gently butted the top of her head against his shoulder. “Cuddle,” she demanded. He turned and looked at her for an instant, then extended his arm and gathered her in against his side. She snuggled up against him and buried her nose against his neck.

“Scully, your nose is cold.”

“I know. Why do you think I’m doing this?” She shivered and tried to snuggle even closer. “I hate the Midwest in the winter,” she complained. “Why couldn’t you have found us a case in Florida — or better yet, Hawaii? We can always visit Iowa in the summer when it’s warm.” She slipped her arms around his waist and closed her eyes.

He chuckled. “Sorry, Scully. Next time I’ll check the Weather Channel before I accept an assignment.” He fell silent for a moment. Then: “Scully?”

“Yeah?” She was finally starting to feel a little bit warm, and therefore sleepy.

“If you had to be an animal, which one would you be?”

She sighed. “I’d be an animal with a nice warm den that I could crawl into and hibernate all winter.”

That earned her another chuckle. “Gotta love a woman with a one track mind.”

“What animal would you be?”

“I don’t know. I never really thought about it.” He was quiet for a moment. Then: “You know that I really love you, don’t you?”

She opened her eyes and raised her head to look at him. “Yes.”

“I just….I don’t know how to deal with this. I don’t do ‘happy’ very well.” He shrugged helplessly. “I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop.”

“I know,” she said. “Me too.”

“God,” he said, scrubbing his face with his free hand. “Four days. It’s only been four days, and look at us already.”

“I think we’re doing pretty well,” she said quietly.

He looked down at her and stroked her hair. “You really think that, don’t you?” She nodded solemnly. “Scully…is it really possible that we’re going to be allowed to be happy? Aren’t they just going to take it away from us, like they always do?”

“It’s too late for that,” she said, and stretched her neck to kiss him softly on the mouth.

The kiss started out chaste and comforting, but rapidly evolved into something more. Scully felt the passion rising in her, an almost physical force, starting at her center and spreading outwards, a tidal wave of warmth and longing. She squirmed and wiggled around until finally she was lying half on top of him, arms around his neck. Finally, their lips separated, and they lay in each other’s arms, gasping for breath.

“God, Mulder,” she whispered. “Oh, God.” She felt herself trembling, and there was an aching neediness in the pit of her stomach. It was not a new feeling; in fact, she had been vaguely aware of it for years, but suddenly it had moved to front and center. Closing her eyes, she nuzzled her face into his neck, and whispered, “Mulder?”

“Yeah, Scully?” His voice was soft, and choked with passion.

“Do you want to make love?”

He was silent for a long moment, and Scully felt a slight tremor of fear, but his hand was continuing to stroke her hair, and she forced herself to relax as she waited for his answer. “God, Scully…I want to. I want to so bad it hurts…”

His voice trailed off, and after a moment, very softly, she said, “But?”

Another moment of silence, briefer than the last. Then: “But not tonight. Not…here…” Again his voice trailed off, and he seemed to be struggling to find the words. “I…Scully. I want the first time to be special. Not in some rat trap motel in the middle of nowhere.”

Again she raised her head to look deeply into his eyes. “Mulder,” she said, “the first time WILL be special, because it will be you and me. It can’t get any more special than that.”

“I know,” he said. “I do know that. But at the same time…” He shook his head in apparent frustration. “I just don’t know how to explain it.” He smiled slightly. “It’s going to sound all girlie if I explain it.”

“That’s okay, Mulder,” she replied, also smiling. “You can explore your girlie side with me.” She leaned forward and gave him a gentle kiss on the mouth. “Tell me. Tell me how you want it to be.”

“That’s just it,” he said. “I don’t know that I can. I don’t have some well-thought out fantasy or anything. I just want it to be special,” he repeated. He stopped and thought for a moment. “And, to be honest, I guess some of it is a matter of control. I’ve been thinking about what you said the other day, about how I’m not really in control of my life, and I think you were right. I’m NOT in control, and that DOES scare me. I’d….I’d like to have a little bit of control over…this.” He looked up at her anxiously. “Do you understand? Does that make any sense to you?”

She nodded solemnly. “It makes perfect sense.” She paused for a moment. Then, hesitantly: “I’d like to help you take control, Mulder. But…it’s pretty scary for me, too. It’s as hard for me to let go as it is for you to take hold.”

“I know.”

They lay quietly in each other’s arms for a few minutes, and Scully tried to think. What she’d said was true, all of it. It really was hard for her to let go, to let someone else take control of a situation — especially one as emotionally charged as this one. <<But this is Mulder,>> she reminded herself. <<He loves me. He wouldd never do anything to hurt me..>> She felt a fresh tide of love and desire sweeping through her. God, she wanted him; she wanted him now, tonight. But if he wasn’t ready, it wouldn’t be any good. It had to be right for both of them.

Both of them.



Yin and yang.

Mulder. Her Mulder. The one she had come to trust as no other.

Suddenly it seemed absurdly easy. “Okay, Mulder,” she said, and felt his embrace tighten as she leaned down to kiss him again. Just as their lips were about to meet, and remembering his words from Christmas Day, she murmured, “I love you. I’ll do anything for you.”

The kiss was long and deep, and full of passion. Without quite knowing how it had happened, Scully found herself lying on her back, Mulder stretched out on top of her, his weight pressing her down into the mattress. Everything felt so good, so right; she never wanted it to end. She would just stay in his arms for eternity, and nothing would be able to harm either of them.

Finally the kiss ended, and Mulder slid his cheek across hers, touching and caressing her face with his own. The dry stubble of his whiskers scraped her skin, sending a shiver down her spine, and she tightened her arms around his neck.

At last his head came to rest on her shoulder, and she could feel his warm breath on her neck and ear, and his words, when they came, were rich and full of promise: “New Year’s Eve.”


Chapter 7: WHAT DOES HE SEE WHEN HE LOOKS AT ME? In which a question is answered.

This chapter is rated R.

What does he see when he looks at me?

I have often wondered that, but now more than ever before the question burns within me.

What does he see when he looks at me?

I have often caught him looking at me, of course. In the early days of our association, I assumed that he was like any other man, and that when he looked at me he saw only breasts and a vagina, two tits and a cunt. A walking pleasure center, provided for his stimulation and gratification, and not to be taken seriously.

I look at those words I just wrote, and I am amazed at the cynicism and bitterness of my younger self. And I remember that even then, even as I thought those things, a part of me deep down inside knew that it was a lie.. As long ago as that first case in Oregon, I had all the evidence I would ever need to know that Fox Mulder was not an ordinary man, in this as in so many other ways.

When I dropped my robe in front of him that night, and stood before him dressed only in my sensible underwear, I did not know what to expect. I knew that I was taking a terrible risk; I knew that most men would view this as a clear invitation to take liberties. But I was so afraid in that moment, and he was the only one available who might take my fears seriously, and I could not stop myself. And perhaps, deep down inside, a small part of me already knew that it was safe.


I think back on that moment, and I remember the fear. I remember the tremor I heard in my own voice, and I remember thinking, <<Maybe I’m not cut out for field work after all.>> I remember him crouching behind me, holding the candle close to me so that he could examine the three small lumps on my lower back. I remember the soft, delicate touch of his fingers as he probed at the lumps, and I remember my amazement and relief as I realized that his touch was not awkward and intrusive, but was as professional and impersonal as that of a doctor performing a physical.

And I remember the pleased relief in his voice when he made his pronouncement: Mosquito bites.

That should have been the end of it, but it was not. I shrugged my robe back on, and without even stopping to think I turned and almost threw myself into his arms. It was the first time — but far from the last — that one of us sought comfort in the other’s embrace. The hug was brief, over in a matter of secoonds, but it seemed to go on for years. In my mind, he is still hugging me, comforting me, trying to keep away the darkness with his love, and I am doing the same for him.

I spent the rest of that night in his room, enthralled. My new co-worker was not who I had expected him to be, and I wanted to know more about him. I wanted to know everything. And somehow he sensed this, and even more amazingly, he decided to let me into his mind. He gave me a guided tour, stripping himself emotionally bare, just as I had stripped myself physically bare.

That was the night that our partnership truly began, no matter what the official records may reflect.

That was the night when I learned that I could trust him not just with my virtue, but with my dignity.

It has taken another five years for me to learn that I can trust him with my heart. I know that I should regret how long it took, that I should resent every single minute of the delay, but I cannot. Our love affair had to proceed at its own pace, and now the reality of it is all the sweeter for the fact that it has been a long time building.

What does he see when he looks at me?

That one question still remains, floating in my mind. I have long ago discarded all the trite, conventional answers, leaving me only with the certainty that whatever it is that he sees, it is good.

I stand before the full-length mirror in my bedroom, fresh from the shower, completely naked, and I try to look at myself through his eyes, but it is useless. He is the profiler; he is the one with such empathy and compassion that he can literally put himself into someone else’s head. I have never wished for that ability in the past; I have seen too often how much it hurts him. But now I desire nothing more than to be able to slide gently into his mind and look out at myself through his eyes.

I know that he thinks I am beautiful; that much is obvious on his face and in his eyes. It was obvious even before this week, on those occasions when I caught him watching me when he thought I wasn’t looking. And now, of course, he is completely open and naked in his appreciation and desire for me. Yet he has never spoken the words. He has never said, “You are beautiful.”

I wonder if he realizes how much I need to hear those words? I wonder if he knows how insecure I am about my appearance, how intimidated I am by the women in his videos and in those magazines? Surely he must know, he must understand — he is, after all, a profiler, and he knows me better than anyone else. He knows me far better than he knew Monte Propps, oor any of the other countless, haunted men he has tracked and triangulated and finally brought to justice. But if he knows my desire, my need to hear him say that, then why hasn’t he said it?

Could it be that he is afraid?

The thought strikes me from nowhere, and I turn it over carefully in my mind. Fox Mulder, afraid? I shake my head. The very idea seems incredible. He is so brave, so courageous, that it is almost impossible to believe that he could be afraid of speaking a few simple words — words which he surely already knows that I yearn to hear. Words that I cannot possibly ask him to say, but which must comee unbidden from his lips if they are to have any meaning for me at all.

He has already said, “I love you.” How can he be afraid of this?

Yet it is the only explanation I can think of, and I decide that I will simply have to wait until he can find the courage to tell me what I already know, but want desperately to hear him say.

I glance at the clock on my bureau, and realize that time is growing short. Mulder will be here in less than half an hour to take me to dinner, to take me dancing, and then at long, long last, to take me to bed. Truth be told, I would willingly skip the dinner and the dancing, but he asked me to allow him to have control tonight, and I could not refuse. I have given so much to this man, and I would willingly give him so much more.

Tonight I will give him my soul. He already has my heart.

I quickly pull on a pair of plain cotton briefs, then turn to my closet, and draw out the dress which I bought this afternoon. It has been a long time since I tried to dress for a man, for a particular man, but I am certain that this choice is a good one. It is forest green, conservative and elegant. It has long sleeves, a skirt that reaches to mid-calf, and a high neckline, and it fits me so well that it leaves absolutely nothing to the imagination. The sales clerk tried to persuade me to buy something more overtly revealing (and much more expensive), but this is right, this is me, this is us. This is the dress I want to wear on the night we are to become lovers.

I slide the dress on over my head, and it slips into place as if it had been made just for me. I am not wearing a bra, and I feel a blaze of desire as the cloth of the dress brushes against my breasts. I turn and look at myself once again in the mirror, and I feel a warm tingle in my stomach as I realize that I am looking at a woman in love. The sparkle in my eyes, the slight smile on my lips, the happy shine highlighting my cheeks….all the little signs that can mean only one thing.

Only a week ago I would have been horrified to see myself looking like this. Only a week ago, I was sure that my life was over, at least in this respect. Only a week ago, I felt old and used up, and I had resigned myself to finding such pleasure and contentment as I could in my work and in my hobbies. Only a week ago, I had persuaded myself that I could be happy without this man in my life.

Only a week ago.

I shake my head, dismissing the thoughts. One thing my life with Mulder has taught me is not to dwell too much on the past, but to live in the present and hope for the future.

I take the silver bracelet he gave me off of the bureau and slide it onto my wrist, then slip my feet into the shoes I bought to go with the dress.. My costume is complete. I will wear no pantyhose tonight; they would only slow us down when the time finally comes. This afternoon I considered buying stockings and a garter belt, but decided at last that it was too much too soon. Tonight will be serious and profound. There will be plenty of other opportunities to play.

Now it is time, and as the second hand on my bedroom clock touches the twelve, I hear his knock on the door. I wonder how long he has been standing outside my door, waiting for it to be time, and I smile a small, possessive smile as I emerge from my bedroom and walk down the hall to the living room. Out of habit, I look briefly through the peephole, and of course it is him, it is Mulder, looking beautiful and nervous and very much like a man in love.

I unlock the door and step back three paces, wanting to evoke the maximum effect from his first look at my wonderful new dress. Once I am sure I am ready, I call out, “It’s open. Come on in.”

The door swings open, and Mulder steps across the threshold. He raises his eyes to look at me, and starts to speak, and then stops dead in his tracks.

A timeless interval passes as he stands in the doorway, staring at me, and I take the opportunity to stare right back at him, letting my eyes rake over his body, drinking in his masculine beauty, and I realize that he has dressed for me, just as I have dressed for him: Dark suit, snow-white dress shirt, and shoes that look as if they have been spit- shined. And of course, the inevitable necktie, with Marvin the Martian chasing Bugs Bunny across a fanciful Martian landscape. I have never told him that this has always been my favorite of all his garish ties, but somehow he knew anyway.

For a moment I am tempted just to drag him down onto the carpet and consummate our love then and there, and I even know that he would let me do it.. Let me? From the look in his eyes at the moment, I suspect he would beat me to the floor. But that is not the agenda for tonight, and so with a supreme effort of will I resist the urge, and simply stand before him waiting for him to take the lead.

Finally, he clears his throat. I am shocked to see tears forming in his eyes, and suddenly I realize that even if I can’t get into his head and look out through his eyes, I can at least see myself reflected in them. “God, Scully,” he says, still apparently unable to take his eyes off of me.. “God…you’re so beautiful.”

Now I am the one who is crying, and suddenly the three feet of open space between us is totally unacceptable, and I move swiftly forward into his arms to continue the embrace that we began so many years ago in Oregon.

My last question has been answered.


Chapter 8: CONSUMMATION. In which love is shared, and thereby enhanced.

This chapter is rated NC-17.

“Have I mentioned tonight that you’re beautiful?”

Dana Scully looked up from her plate and across the table at her partner. He had given up all pretense of eating, and was gazing at her with frank admiration and desire. His features seemed more soft and open than she had ever seen them, and his eyes were dark with passion.

“A few times,” she whispered. “But you can say it again, if you want to.”

“You’re beautiful.” He reached across the table and lightly caressed the back of her hand, sending a tingle of electricity dancing up her arm, and Scully shivered.

It had been like that all evening, ever since his arrival at her apartment. After an initial, ferocious hug, and a deep kiss, full of promise, they had kept slightly apart from one another, only occasionally reaching out for the softest and briefest of contact. Under other circumstances, it might have been frustrating or distracting, but they both already knew how this evening would end, and each gentle touch only heightened their anticipation.

The restaurant Mulder had chosen was small and intimate. The food was excellent, and a small live band presided over an open space where half a dozen couples danced to a combination of jazz, swing and big band music.

She looked away from the dance floor and back at the man seated across from her. “Mulder,” she said softly, then stopped and smiled.

“Scully?” he replied, a quizzical smile on his face.

She shook her head. “I don’t know.” Her hand crept out to tickle his palm lightly. “Everything’s just so…perfect.”

He took her hand in his and raised it to his lips, planting a soft kiss on her wrist, then slowly rose from the table, drawing her with him. “Dance with me, Scully.”

He led her out onto the dance floor, and she melted into his arms, closing her eyes and resting her head against his chest. For a few moments neither of them spoke as they swayed gently together, their feet sliding in time to the music. Scully felt warm and happy and cherished, and the soft melody drifting around them just made it better. She concentrated for a moment, trying to place the tune; it was vaguely familiar, but that style of music had never really interested her. Until now. Now it seemed just right.



“What’s the song they’re playing?”

“Moonlight Serenade,” he whispered. “Glenn Miller.”

She thought about that for a moment. “Glenn Miller. Little Brown Jug?”

“That’s the one. Little Brown Jug. American Patrol. Chattanooga Choo-Choo.” She felt his lips brush the top of her head. “Serenade in Blue.”

She tightened her arms around his waist. She couldn’t get close enough to him. “I didn’t know you liked this kind of music.”

A brief pause. “You weren’t supposed to know.”

She opened her eyes and drew her head back just enough to look up at his face. “Why not?”

He smiled at her, and shook his head slightly. “Too dangerous.”


He nodded, and bent down to brush his lips lightly against hers. “Dangerous. I didn’t dare listen to this kind of music with you around. It’s much too romantic.” He kissed her again. “It makes me far too vulnerable..”

Scully closed her eyes again and laid her head back against his chest, and she wondered if he realized what a wonderful gift of trust he had just given her. “Your secret is safe with me,” she whispered.

“I know.”

The song ended, and another one began. This time, she didn’t have to ask.

“What a Wonderful World,” he said softly, his voice thick with emotion. “Louis Armstrong.”

Yeah. He knew.

They continued to dance. The music changed again, and then again, and each time he whispered the name of the song and the artist in her ear. Fats Waller. Benny Goodman. The Dorsey Brothers. Scully tried to listen to each piece, she wanted to drink it all in, she wanted to know everything about the man in her arms, but it was all so intoxicating: The music. His touch. His scent. The heat of his body. And most of all his voice, soft and gravelly, mingling with the warmth of his breath to caress her neck and ear.

Suddenly holding him and dancing with him were no longer enough. Scully took her arms from around his waist and slid them slowly up his chest, imagining how his skin would feel under her fingertips, knowing that soon she would no longer have to imagine anything, and shivering with the anticipation that thought evoked. She lifted her head from his chest and once again looked up into his eyes as her arms slipped around his neck.

“Mulder,” she said softly, and stopped, knowing that he would read the rest of her thoughts in her eyes.

He bent his head and kissed her, briefly but thoroughly, and said, “You get the coats. I’ll take care of the check.”

Scully stood for a moment, watching him as he moved away from her and back towards the table. He seemed to be surrounded by a silvery haze, and for an instant she almost believed in Missy’s auras. For just a moment she felt a twinge of sorrow at the thought of her sister, but then she shook her head and it was gone. Missy wouldn’t want her to be sad tonight. Her thoughts traveled back to Mulder and the hours yet to come, and she turned and walked to the coat rack at the front of the restaurant.

A moment later Mulder joined her at the door. Taking her parka from her, he stood behind her and slipped it on her, then reached around from behind to fasten the buttons, one by one. The warmth of his embrace and the slight pressure of his fingers as he worked each fastening were indescribable, and Scully closed her eyes, leaned back against him and moaned softly.

“God, Mulder,” she breathed. “God. I don’t know if I’m going to make it..”

He chucked, but she was pleased to hear a slight shakiness behind his words, too. “Just hang on, Scully,” he replied He bent down as he finished the last button, wrapped his arms around her from behind and whispered into her ear, “It won’t be long now.”

Somehow they made it to his car, and moments later they were on the Beltway heading into Virginia. Scully roused herself slightly from her erotic haze as it gradually dawned on her that they were not heading either for her place or for his. “Mulder? Where are we going?”

He glanced over at her and smiled, then looked back at the highway in front of them. “A place I know,” he said. “A little bed and breakfast out in the country. You’ll like it.”

She shifted in her seat so as to lean her head against his shoulder. “If you’re there, I’ll like it.” She closed her eyes and just let herself drift for awhile.

This was really happening. It wasn’t a dream; it wasn’t a fantasy. She wasn’t going to wake up in a few minutes, all by herself in a cold bed, and somehow have to struggle through another day of loneliness and denial. It was real, and it was going to stay real. She was with Mulder, and soon, so very soon, the last barriers were going to come down.

Scully snuggled up closer against her partner’s shoulder. He was so warm, and he felt so good, even through the heavy winter coat and formal evening wear. Her mind whirled as she again tried to imagine what it would feel like to have his bare skin pressing against hers, and she felt her body start to tremble. Soon she would know.


At length she felt the car slow, and then the ride became bumpy. She opened her eyes and sat up, and saw that they were on a country lane. A few moments later Mulder stopped the car in front of an elegant, colonial-style plantation house, the sort of rambling old frame structure built to house an extended family, plus servants. The surrounding fields were blanketed with new-fallen snow, which glinted softly in the moonlight, and as Scully got out of the car she thought she had never seen anything so beautiful in her entire life.

Then Mulder climbed out of the car and was walking around it to stand next to her, and she had to amend that thought: Almost never.

Mulder slipped an arm around her shoulder, and she leaned up against him, and for a moment they just stood together, looking at the scenery and enjoying each other’s presence. Finally, Scully broke the silence.

“Thank you, Mulder.”

She felt him stir slightly, and she turned to see him looking down at her, a slight, quizzical smile on his face. “For what?”

“For dinner. And for dancing with me. For not making me feel like we had to sneak around, or be ashamed.” She put her arms around his neck and stretched up to kiss him softly on the lips. “For bringing me here. It’s so beautiful. So perfect. Everything is perfect.”

He leaned down and returned the kiss. “This is a very special place for me, Scully. I’ve been coming here for a long time, and now I want to share it with you.”

Despite herself, Scully felt his words ignite that small core of insecurity which she could never seem to shake entirely. He’d come here before; of course he’d come here before. She should have realized….

Something must have cued him to her feelings, because he shook his head and his smile became even softer. “No, Scully,” he said. “Not like that. I’ve never brought a woman here. Not until tonight.” She felt herself relax as he kissed her again. “You’re the first, Scully. You’re the only. This was my hiding place.”

She felt her eyes widen slightly as the possible meaning of his words sunk in. “Your hiding place?”

He nodded. “My hiding place. This is where I came when I had to get away from you. When you were getting too close, or I felt my defenses slipping or my resolve weakening. This is where I came to hide. And I never, ever brought anyone with me.”

“Mulder!” She felt tears forming in her eyes, and she tightened her arms around his neck as she buried her face against his chest for a moment. Then she looked up at him again. “Mulder? You brought me to your secret place?” He nodded again, not speaking, and she could see unshed tears in his eyes, as well. “God, I love you so much.” And this time the kiss was deep and passionate.

Finally they broke apart, and when he spoke his voice was rough and uneven, and choked with love and desire. “Let’s go on in.”

Moments later they were inside, and Mulder was removing her coat and hanging it on the antique oak coat tree in the foyer. The interior decor was simple and elegant, and matched the exterior of the house in every detail, down to the flickering candles and the hardwood floors. The effect was so vivid that Scully would not have been surprised if Thomas Jefferson or Richard Henry Lee had greeted them in the entryway.

Not that she would have given either of them a second glance.

Mulder led her through a side door into what must have once been the parlor, but had now been remodeled into a sort of small, intimate lobby. The colonial motif had been continued here, the only concession to the needs of the modern world being a desktop computer situated incongruously atop a rolltop desk. An attractive young blonde woman was seated at the desk, preoccupied with the computer, and she waved a distracted hand at them as they approached.

“Be with ya in a minute, folks,” she said, and proceeded to type furiously for a few seconds before turning to face them. Then her face lit up. “Fox! I’d been starting to wonder if you were going to show up after all..” Her gaze flickered over to Scully, and her eyes widened slightly as she looked back at Mulder again. “Fox? Is this….?” Her voice trailed off and a hint of a smile tugged at the corners of her mouth.

Mulder looked slightly embarrassed, but he nodded. “Yes.” He put his hand on Scully’s shoulder. “Rachel Lewis, meet Dana Scully.”

The young woman clapped her hands together and jumped to her feet. “Oh, Fox!” She sped to him and gave him a quick hug, then released him and gazed up at him fondly. “I’d just about given up hope on you.” She turned to Scully, and her eyes were shining. “Dana, I’m so happy to meet you at last!” She extended her hand, and Scully took it reflexively. She’d been momentarily taken aback by the other woman’s effusiveness, but it had become immediately evident that Rachel was not a threat but an ally.

Rachel must have realized what was going through Scully’s mind, because her smile became even broader, and she shook her head. “Dana, you don’t have a thing to worry about. Fox has been coming up here for years, and you’re the only thing he’s ever been able to talk about.” She looked back at Mulder affectionately. “SOME of us kept trying to tell him to go for the gold, but the big goof just wouldn’t listen.” She put her hands on Mulder’s shoulders and gave him a delicate kiss on the cheek. “Well just you remember, Fox Mulder: I’m the sort that says ‘I told you so’. Over and over and over.”

Mulder smiled and shook his head. “What would I do without you, Rachel?”

“I guess you’re going to find out, aren’t you?” she said primly, and returned to sit down behind the desk again.

“So what had you so preoccupied?” Mulder asked, moving forward and trying to get a look at the screen. “Space Invaders? Pac Man?”

Rachel laughed. “No, just reading fanfic on the Internet again.” She tapped a fingernail against the screen. “Would you believe some of those idjits on the newsgroup actually think she might kiss her boss? Unbelievable. Anyone with eyes can see who she REALLY wants.” She looked up at Mulder and Scully again, and mischief danced in her eyes. “But somehow I don’t think either one of you is very interested at the moment.”

She pulled open one of the desk drawers and drew out a key, and tossed it in Mulder’s general direction. He juggled it for a moment, then caught it. “There you go, Fox. Number three. Second floor, end of the hall on your left. Now get her upstairs before you chicken out, okay?” Her voice turned warm and friendly. “And it’s been really nice to meet you, Dana. I mean that. I hope you have a wonderful evening.”

Mulder took Scully’s hand, and led her back to the foyer and up a staircase, which opened onto a hallway stretching the length of the building. They walked quietly down the hallway, still holding hands, and Scully tried to concentrate on her breathing. Her heart was pounding in her chest, and she felt heat in her groin and on her face. After what seemed like ages, but couldn’t have been more than a few seconds, they came to the end of the hallway, and Mulder unlocked and opened a door and they went inside.

The room was beautiful. It was dominated by a massive, antique four-poster bed. The canopy looked as if it had been hand-sewn, and the quilt covering the bed was thick and looked very warm. The drapes were heavy linen, dyed light blue, and the wallpaper appeared to be handpainted, with an intricate abstract design that melded perfectly with the drapes and was soothing to the eye. An oak nightstand stood next to the bed, and on it was a single lamp which provided the only illumination. As had been the case downstairs, candle brackets were spaced along the wall, but the candles had not yet been lit.

And they were alone.

At last.

Neither of them moved for a long moment; they just stood next to each other, holding hands. Finally, Mulder lifted her hand to his lips and gently kissed her palm. “Candles or electricity?”

She looked at him and smiled. With the two of them, darkness was not an option; they had more than enough darkness in their daily lives. “Candles.”

He was gone from her side for only a moment, but it seemed like forever. Finally, the candles were lit and the electric light switched off, and Mulder stood in front of her, looking into her eyes, holding each of her hands in one of his. His thumbs gently caressed the backs of her hands, and then he drew her up against his body and kissed her.

Scully had thought she had become accustomed to kissing Mulder, but in the next few seconds she discovered to her joy and amazement that she was wrong. As much as they had shared with each other since Christmas Day, now there was even more, and she felt waves of happiness and pleasure washing over her. She felt dizzy, and her knees were weak, but she knew that he would not let her fall. She leaned into him, letting him take her weight completely, rubbing her body against his and sliding her arms around his waist. She heard a noise that was part growl, part moan, and realized that it was coming from her own throat., and that made it even better.

Finally their lips separated, and they stood clinging to each other, breathing heavily. Scully could feel his hands on her hips, gently caressing and tickling her, sending tingles of arousal to join those already pooling in her abdomen. She tightened her own arms around his waist, trying to draw him closer, and she felt him wrap his arms around her, pressing his hips forward and letting her feel his erection against her belly.

A groan escaped her lips, and she gasped at the sensation. “Mulder,” she said. She was finding it difficult to form coherent words, much less complete sentences.

“Mmm….yeah, Scully?” He seemed to be having the same difficulty.

“Mulder,” she breathed again, and stroked his back with her hands. “Mulder, please take my dress off for me.”

His arms tightened around her for just a moment, and then he released her, and looked down at her. His eyes were so dark with desire that she thought for an instant that she might faint, but somehow she managed to hold on. “I thought you’d never ask,” he said, and after the briefest of kisses he stepped around behind her as she slipped out of her shoes.

Scully stood absolutely still, waiting. Time seemed to stretch out endlessly, and the flickering candles made strange, dancing shadows on the walls and on the furniture. Finally, when she thought she was about to burst from anticipation, she felt a soft, delicate touch at her neck as he brushed her hair out of the way, and then a gentle tug as he started to pull down the zipper of her dress. His thumbnail scraped intermittently along her spine, bumping the flesh laid bare as the zipper continued on its downward track, until at last it reached the bottom.

He slipped his hands into the opening, and Scully felt as if she were on fire as his large, warm hands touched and caressed her back and sides, slowly traveling upwards in counterpoint to the zipper’s recent downward movement. Finally, his hands rested on her bare shoulders, underneath the cloth of her dress..

“No bra, Agent Scully?” he whispered.

She giggled slightly. “It took you this long to notice, Agent Mulder? And here I thought you were a trained investigator.”

“Oh, I am,” he assured her. “But there have been certain distractions tonight.” He leaned down and brushed aside the collar of her dress and planted a gentle kiss at the juncture of her neck and shoulder, sending a jolt of electricity down her spine. “And even a trained investigator such as myself has to set priorities.”

Scully moaned and instinctively pressed her buttocks back against his crotch, rubbing against him and reveling in the feel of his erection against her. “Mulder,” she breathed, “if you don’t finish taking this dress off me right now, I’m going to scream!”

That brought a chuckle. “Can’t have that,” he said, as he leaned back down and kissed the other side of her neck, sending another spasm racing through her body. “We have to save the screams for a little later.” And he gently pushed the dress forward, letting it slide off her shoulders and down onto the floor to pool around her feet. An instant later his arms slipped around her and he was cupping her breasts in his hands, his thumbs lightly caressing her nipples.

Scully gasped at the sudden sensations flooding her body. This was beyond anything she had ever imagined. Every nerve in her body was alive and clamoring for attention. Without even thinking about it she turned in his embrace and threw her arms around his neck again, dragging him down for deep, passionate kiss and going up on her toes to grind her crotch against his. Meanwhile his hands stayed on her breasts, touching, caressing, tickling, pinching.

“God, Mulder,” she said, breaking the kiss to gasp for air. “Do you have any idea what that does to me?”

Deprived of her lips, his mouth slid across her cheek and down to her neck and shoulder, where he proceeded to plant a trail of nips and kisses. Scully groaned and slipped her fingers into his hair, pulling his head down and holding it in place and tilting her own head to give him better access. Her skin felt like it was on fire, and she was sure that every hair on her body was standing on end.

“Mulder,” she whispered.

“Yeah, Scully,” he murmured against her shoulder, and took another nip, making her shudder and draw in another sharp breath.

“Mulder, I love you more than life itself….” Her voice trailed off under the contstant, wonderful assault of his lips and tongue.

Nip. Nip. Nip. Kiss. “But?”

She moaned as he found the spot under her ear. “But…” Another kiss. Another moan. “But you’re wearing too damn many clothes.”

He raised his head from ministering to her neck, and looked down into her eyes, a slight smile on his face. “I think I agree. You want to do something about that?”

She shook her head and smiled back at him. Freeing herself from his embrace, she backed away a couple of steps, taking the opportunity to slip her underpants off her hips and let them fall to the floor before sitting down on the edge of the bed. “No,” she whispered, and ran her tongue along her bottom lip. “I want you to do it. I want to watch.”

His eyes widened, and he raised his eyebrows. “Why Agent Scully,” he said. “Are you a voyeur? I never would have guessed.”

“There are a lot of things you don’t know about me, Agent Mulder.” Again she ran her tongue along her lower lip. “Yet.”

He looked at her for just a moment, then his smile broadened and he started to undress. Suit jacket. Necktie. Dress shirt. Undershirt. Shoes and socks. Slacks. Finally he paused, hands gripping the waistband of his boxers, and raised his eyebrows again, and she realized he was inviting her to help. Asking her to help.

For just a moment she allowed her eyes to rake over his near-naked form, drinking in his masculine beauty: The hard, well-defined planes of his chest and abdomen. His gorgeous, sexy legs. His lightly muscled arms and long, senuous fingers. And his eyes. His wonderful, intoxicating eyes…..


She shook herself, and remembered the task at hand. With slow deliberation she got up off the bed and walked towards him, finally placing her small hands on top of his large ones, and together they lowered his shorts down past his hips, allowing his erect penis to spring free, and finally letting the last item of clothing drop softly to the floor.

Scully moved her right hand away from his, and gently brushed her fingers across his erection, feeling a sense of awe and wonder rising in her chest. She looked up at his face, and saw that his eyes were closed, his head thrown back, and his mouth slightly open, as she gently touched and caressed him.

“Mulder,” she said softly. “Mulder, open your eyes and look at me.” She softly closed her hand around his shaft, and he moaned, but somehow he managed to do as she asked, and she shivered at the mix of emotions she saw in his gaze.

“Mulder, is this because of me?” She took a half step closer to him, until the tips of her breasts brushed lightly against him, and she gently ran her hand up and down the length of penis. It was warm and silky and hard all at once, and for just a moment she allowed herself to imagine would it would feel like when it was finally inside her. “Did I do this?”

He nodded, and when he spoke his voice was harsh and ragged with passion. “Yeah, Scully. Yeah, you did that. It’s all because of you.” He licked his lips and groaned as she stroked his shaft again. “Oh, God, Scully…..Scully….”

Without letting go of him she started backing towards the bed, and he followed, their steps perfectly synchronized. When she felt the mattress against the back of her legs she sat down again, and then stretched out on her back, pulling him down on top of her, and finally they were together, bare skin to bare skin, no barriers at all.

Instinctively, she wrapped her arms around his neck, and tried to pull him closer. Closer. Closer. She had to pull him closer. The sensations of this embrace were assaulting her, inflaming her: the weight of his body pushing her into the mattress, the scent of his arousal mingling with her own, the rasp of his stubble against her cheek, the warm moistness of his breath as he murmured incoherent sounds into her ear. God, the feel of him, just the knowledge that at last it was happening, that it was Mulder on top of her, loving her, wanting her as much as she wanted him.

“Mulder,” she gasped. “Oh, God, Mulder.” She hugged him even more tightly. She wanted him, she needed him inside her NOW. “Mulder, please. Please make love to me. Please, Mulder. Now.”

“Yeah,” was all he said, and she was spreading her thighs as wide as she could and pressing her hips up against him, preparing herself for the moment when he would finally enter her….

And then he was pulling away and standing up. “Mulder!” Her eyes popped open, and she reached after him, grabbing his wrist. “Mulder, what the hell are you doing?” Scully was suddenly close to tears, feeling the agony of frustration, and the fear that he didn’t really want her, that he was going to deny her. “Mulder….” She licked her lips and tried to keep the desperation out of her voice. “Mulder, is something wrong?”

He looked back at her, and the clarity of the desire in his gaze helped reassure her even before he spoke. “Nothing’s wrong, Scully. Nothing’s wrong. I just need to get a condom. I’ll just be a moment.”

“A condom? Mulder we don’t need a condom. I know your chart nearly as well as mine, and I know we’re both clean. And there’s no way —” She suddenly broke off, and she felt her eyes widen. She had forgotten. Kevin.. Unconsciously her hand touched her abdoomen. She had resigned herself so thoroughly to being infertile that she had actually forgotten.

But Mulder had not forgotten.

And he had believed her.

The two thoughts struck home like a lightning bolt. He had believed her. He had believed her so thoroughly and unquestioningly that he had taken the necessary steps to protect her, to prevent her from conceiving a child she might not want.

To prevent her from conceiving THEIR child before she was ready.

Not because he didn’t want a child; he had made it very clear to her on Christmas Day that he did. But because he didn’t want it to come as an accident; he didn’t want it to come as a result of a moment of reckless passion. He wanted it — oh, he wanted it bad, and now she could see that in his eyes, too. But he wanted it after due planning and deliberation, aa joyous reward for their love, not a grim consequence of their impulsiveness.

Scully hadn’t thought it possible to be more in love with Fox Mulder than she already was, but as with so many other things on this night of nights, she was rapidly discovering that she had been wrong.

“Come here, Mulder,” she said softly, and drew him back down on the bed next to her. They lay in each others arms for a long time, softly touching each other, exploring each other’s bodies, memorizing every detail.

Finally, she spoke again. “Mulder, of all the special things you’ve done for me tonight, I think that may have been the most profoundly wonderful..” She pressed her lips briefly against his, then let herself browse along his cheek for a moment. “Mulder, I love you so much. I know I’ve already said that, but I can’t help myself; I just can’t keep from saying it..”

“That’s okay, Scully,” he replied. “You can say it as often as you like. I kinda need to be reminded from time to time.” A brief pause. Then, diffidently: “By the way…I love you too.”

She giggled. “I guess I knew that.”

Another long silence, while Scully continued to nuzzle his face and neck. This time Mulder broke the silence, clearing his throat to get her attention. “So, Jim…”

She smiled into his shoulder, and stifled a laugh. “That’s the Waco Kid to you, Sheriff Bart.”

“We gonna play chess, or we gonna screw?”

Scully raised her head and looked down into his eyes for a long moment, waiting. Finally, she saw the slightest flicker of doubt appear on his face, and she leaned down so that her lips were almost touching his, and whispered, “We’re gonna screw.” And she rolled over onto her back and pulled him on top of her again, this time wrapping her legs around his waist to make sure he could not escape.

He looked down at her, concern battling with desire. “Scully? What about the condom?”

She hesitated, then shook her head. “Not tonight, Mulder.” He started to speak, but she cut him off. “Not tonight. I’ve thought about it; I really have. And I need to feel you; I need to feel all of you. Tomorrow and the next day and the day after that we’ll worry about birth control, and take proper precautions, but tonight there can’t be anything between us, not even a thin layer of latex. I just couldn’t stand it. I know it’s stupid and dangerous; I know what the consequences could be. But just for tonight I need to throw caution to the wind.”

She stopped talking and studied his face, trying to discern what he was thinking, but whatever it was it was too quick and complicated for her to follow, and at last she just held her breath, waiting to hear what he would say.

Finally, he nodded. “Okay, Scully. If that’s what you need, then that’s the way it will be. But I just want to change one thing of what you said.. Just one little word.”

“What word, Mulder?”

“‘Consequences,’” he said simply. “If a child happens tonight — or any night — it won’t be a ‘consequence’. It will be a gift. A gift that we give each other.”

“Oh, Mulder.” And she drew his face down to hers and kissed him, and she kept on kissing him. And they lay on the bed, tangled in each other’s arms, and made love far into the night.


Chapter 9: CHARLIE. In which anxiety is examined.

This chapter is rated PG-13.

Baltimore, MD January 6, 10:22 a.m.

With a sigh of resignation, Fox Mulder climbed from his car, grabbed his overnight bag from the passenger seat and headed up the walk towards Margaret Scully’s front door. He knew he’d been invited; he knew he would be welcomed with open arms, and not just by his partner. But he couldn’t shake the feeling that he shouldn’t really be here, and that someone had made a mistake.

He stood for a moment on the front porch and considered the matter. It wasn’t that he had any doubts of her love — not anymore. His last lingering insecurities on THAT score had finally been laid to rest on New Year’s Eve. But still sommething bothered him, and he couldn’t quite put his finger on what it was.

Something was different.

He shook his head in exasperation. No doubt it would come to him — and probably at the least convenient possible moment. <<Story of my life,>> he thought, and reached out and rang the doorbbell.

A voice called out from inside: “Just a moment!” Then footsteps — not Dana’s; Maggie’s — and the door swung open and he was stepping into her welcoming embrace.

“Fox!” she said. “I’m so glad you could make it! Twelfth Night wouldn’t be the same without you.” Then she released him and turned to the front stairs. “Dana! Guess who’s here?”

Mulder heard a door upstairs open and close, then Scully appeared at the head of the stairs. He felt a lump in his throat as he watched a radiant smile ignite her features. “Mulder!” Then somehow she was at the foot of the stairs and in his arms, and for just a moment the rest of the world went away.

“I’ve missed you,” he murmured, pushing his nose into her hair. It smelled clean and fresh, and uniquely Scully. <<And to think I used to LIKE perfumes and scented shampoos.>> “God, what’s it been? Five whole hours?”

“Me too,” she said. She pulled slightly away and looked up at him affectionately for moment; then she went up on her toes and kissed him, deeply and thoroughly.

Mulder felt himself being overwhelmed with passion, and the most surprising part of it was that he was not even tempted to resist the emotions washing over him. He’d tried for so long to lock his feelings up, to hide them behind a wall of sarcasm and wisecracks, but somehow she’d found the key and let herself in, then stood quietly waiting until he finally found the courage to acknowledge her presence.

Whatever had been bothering him a few moments ago, it certainly wasn’t this.

After a timeless interval Mulder became aware of approaching footsteps, and reluctantly ended the kiss and lifted his gaze to see Maggie coming down the staircase. He hadn’t noticed her leave.

“I took your bag upstairs for you,” she said by way of explanation. Mulder wondered for a moment whether she was annoyed or embarrassed at this unaccustomed public display of affection, but the smile on her face and the twinkle in her eyes told him otherwise. Maggie continued, “So, Dana, do you still want to come with me? I’ll understand if you say no.”

Mulder looked down at the woman in his arms and raised an eyebrow.

“Mom and I were about to go out and run some errands,” Scully said. “Shouldn’t take more than an hour, but they really need to get done. I hope you don’t mind. I’d invite you along, but it’s kind of a girls’ day out sort of thing.” She looked up at him anxiously. “We weren’t expecting you quite this early.”

He smiled and kissed her again, lightly and briefly. “That’s fine. Run along and have a good time.” He released her from the embrace. “I’ll just get changed and maybe clean up a bit.”

A moment later he was standing at the front window, watching Maggie’s car pull out of the drive and onto the street. As it disappeared around the corner he sighed and turned back to face the living room.

Had it really only been nine days since the last time he’d been in this room? It seemed like forever. So much had happened; so much had changed.

He walked over to stand in front of the sofa, and let the memories come flooding back. He’d spent the most important hour of his life on this sofa, back on Christmas evening. He’d thought he’d lost everything, that his life was over, and then by some miracle it all had changed and he’d been pulled back from the brink and into Scully’s arms. Idly, he wondered if Maggie would sell him the sofa. It ought to be in a museum, preserved for posterity.

With a conscious effort he pulled himself out of his reverie, and remembered that he was still wearing his work clothes. Changed; he had to get changed so he could start to relax and enjoy the evening that lay ahead.

He took the stairs two at a time, then strode briskly down the hallway and pulled open the door to the guest room. He had already moved into the center of the room and was looking around for his overnight bag when he realized that there was someone lying on the bed.

“S-sorry,” Mulder said, backing hastily towards the door. “I didn’t realize anyone was here.”

The man sprawled on the bed smiled and sat up, putting aside the book he’d been reading as he bounced to his feet. “That’s okay, I was just killing some time,” he said. He took two steps forward and held out his hand. “I’m Charlie Scully. You must be Mulder.”

Mulder automatically took the other man’s hand as his mind went into overdrive. Charlie? Of course he knew Scully had a younger brother, but he’d never met the man – – and Fox Mulder’s track record with her older brother was less than encouraging. He felt his defensive walls start to go upp.

Charlie broke the handshake, still smiling, and seemed to be studying his face. The smile broadened until it was almost a smirk, and he said, “Relax, Mulder. I’m not Bill. Now you want to tell me why you came busting into my room?”

“I, uh, didn’t know you were here,” Mulder repeated. “I’m sorry. I was just looking for my overnight bag. Your mother brought it upstairs for me, and I usually stay in this room, so…” He heard his voice trail off, and cursed himself for his inarticulateness.

Charlie nodded, still smiling. “Well that makes sense, but she didn’t bring it here. Shall we see if we can find it?”

Without waiting for a response, the younger man led the way back into the hallway and stood for a moment, hands on hips. Suddenly he turned to face Mulder and said, “There are two ways we can do this: We can use our heads and try to think it through, or we can take the brute force approach and just open every door. You choose.” He still wore the friendly smile, but now there was just a hint of a challenge in his voice.

Mulder thought about that for a moment. He didn’t understand why Charlie was making such a big deal about this, but it was apparent that picking the right answer was important. Finally he said, “Let’s think it through..”

Charlie clapped a hand on his shoulder. “Good choice.” He turned and walked slowly down the hall until he stood more or less halfway between the stairs and his own room, then turned to face Mulder again. “Now, over at ONI we have two major issues that we look at: Capabilities and intentions. Are you with me so far?”

Mulder nodded. He understood the concepts, but where Charlie was taking this was a complete mystery to him.

“Good.” The younger man nodded. “Now, capabilities aren’t much of an issue in this case; Mom COULD have put the bag in any of the three remaining rooms.” He gestured broadly with his left hand, then walked slowly back towards Mulder. “So the question before the house is what Mom’s intentions were when she brought the bag up here.”

Charlie looked at Mulder appraisingly for just a moment, then turned and stepped across the hall to the door across from his own and rapped lightly on it. “Now behind Door Number One,” he continued, “is my mother’s bedroom.” He glanced back over his shoulder at Mulder. “We shall assume a priori that she didn’t put your bag in THERE.”

Mulder felt himself flush. “That seems like a reasonable assumption, Monty,” he said. He thought, just maybe, that he was beginning to see where this was heading.

Charlie smirked again, and moved down the hall to the next door. “Now this one,” he said, “used to be Bill’s room, back when we were teenagers. Mom uses it as a sewing room now, but she does have a day bed in there, so it isn’t beyond the realm of possibility that she put your bag in there..” He turned to look at Mulder, leaning back against the door and crossing his arms across his chest. “Do YOU think she might have put it in there?”

Mulder looked back at the younger man for a moment, then shrugged his shoulders. “It’s possible, I suppose,” he said, keeping his tone as light as he could. He felt a sudden tension in his shoulders, and he wished Charlie would stop playing this game, whatever it was.

Charlie nodded. “It is possible,” he agreed. “But not likely, given the circumstantial evidence already in hand.” He pushed himself upright and stepped across the hall to the one remaining door. “And then there’s Door Number Three,” he said. “Dana’s room. Actually, Dana and Missy’s room, but…”

Now younger man’s voice trailed off, and a hint of sadness came and went in his eyes so quickly Mulder wasn’t quite sure it had been there. Then Charlie smiled again, and shook his head. “Sorry. Now where were we?”

“Door Number Three,” Mulder said, trying to keep the tension out of his voice.

“Ah, yes,” Charlie replied. “Door Number Three. Dana’s room.” He looked speculatively at Mulder, then nodded. “So make your pick, Mulder. Which will it be?”

Mulder cleared his throat. “Is there some purpose to this, Charlie?”

“Of course.” Mischief glinted in the younger man’s eyes, and he added, “We’re trying to find your overnight bag, right?”

Mulder snorted. “If you say so. I choose Door Three.”

Charlie’s smile widened into a happy grin, and he twisted the handle and pushed the door open with a flourish. “Ta da!”

Mulder stepped into the room and looked around, and there was the bag, sitting on the floor next to the bureau. He heard a chuckle and turned to see Charlie lounging in the doorway, the same grin still on his face. “What do you know?” the younger man said. “Got it on the first try. And you don’t even have to take home a year’s supply of Jell-O Pudding.” He stood upright and twiddled his fingers. “You go ahead and get changed, or whatever, then come on downstairs and I’ll buy you a cup of coffee.” And then he was gone.

Mulder stood silently in the middle of the room for several minutes after the younger man had left, trying to get his thoughts in order. Charlie had been playing with his mind, that much was clear — the reason for it, though, completely eluded him. Finally he shook his head and gave up trying to figure it out. The Sculllys were strange, all of them. The only one he really understood was Maggie, and that was probably just because he hadn’t spent much time with her. <<Well, it’s all part of the package, Mulder,>> he reminded himself. <<This is what you wanted, right?>>

Oh, yeah.

A few minutes later, having changed from his suit to a pair of jeans and a polo shirt, Mulder wandered into the kitchen, to find Charlie working with a coffee maker. Mulder crossed the room to lean against the sink, then turned and watched the younger man work for a moment.

He’d seen pictures of Charlie, of course: Scully had several of them, and Mulder also remembered one rainy Saturday when Maggie had taken it into her head to walk him through the family photo albums. Still, the camera hadn’t managed to capture everything about this man. Oh, it had recorded the basic facts: The red hair, the light dusting of freckles, the blue eyes, the general shape of his face. But it had missed the easy friendliness, as well as the inner core of strength and self-assurance. Charlie was pretty clearly a Scully, Mulder concluded, but he was also obviously his own man in a lot of ways.

Finally Charlie punched the on button and turned to look at Mulder, an amused smile on his face. “Find what you’re looking for?”

Mulder smiled back and shook his head. “I’m not sure.”

“Well, let me know if you do figure anything out; I’m sure Mom and Dana would be interested.” He moved over to the kitchen table and dropped into a chair; Mulder followed suit. “I suppose you’re wondering what the hell that was all about upstairs,” the other man went on easily.

“The thought had crossed my mind.”

“it’s really pretty simple,” Charlie said. “I’m scoping you out.”

Mulder felt his eyebrows raise. “Scoping me out?”

The younger man nodded, and seemed faintly surprised. “Sure. What did you expect? Haven’t you been taken home to meet the girl’s family before?”

Mulder blinked in surprise, and suddenly all of his own uncertainty and disquiet about being there seemed to fall into place. Was THAT what had been bothering him? Was THAT what this was all about?

Charlie’s voice, still friendly and good-natured, dragged him back out and prevented him from examining the idea. “Come on, Mulder! Wipe the stunned look off your face; I asked you a question.”

Mulder looked again at the younger man, and noted the humor dancing in his eyes. “Sorry,” he said. “I was just…startled.”

The other man chuckled. “Scared shitless, more like,” he commented. He glanced up over Mulder’s shoulder, and added, “Looks like the coffee’s ready.”

Charlie rose from his chair and busied himself for a moment with the coffee machine, giving Mulder a chance to try to organize his thoughts. Being brought home to meet the girl’s parents. Yeah, that made a lot of sense, now that the idea had been put into his head. It explained the nervousness, the general feeling of being out of place, and the fact that he couldn’t seem to get comfortable, despite the fact that he’d visited this house a number of times in the past.

He’d thought to himself as he stood on the front porch that something had changed, and of course it had: His relationship with Scully had changed, and now he was no longer her partner and friend, stopping by for a friendly visit, but a lover and, perhaps, a potential husband, presenting himself to her family for their approval. He nodded slowly to himself. Yeah. It made quite a bit of sense.

Charlie placed a cup and saucer in front of him, then sat down again on the other side of the table, holding his own cup in both hands. Absently, Mulder took a sip of the hot liquid, and again he raised his eyebrows, looking across the table at Charlie. “Does telepathy run in your family, Charlie?”

The other man smiled, and shook his head. “What do you mean?”

“No cream, one sugar,” Mulder replied. “How did you know?”

Charlie chuckled. “Oh, that. Dana told me.”

Mulder blinked. “Your sister told you how I like my coffee?”

“Among other things. She also told me your favorite color, what brand of cereal you like, how you like your steaks done, and about ten thousand other things about you.” Mulder stared at the younger man, and Charlie laughed out loud. “Man, you look like a deer caught in the headlights! Relax, Mulder; I’m your friend, not your enemy. Your secrets are safe with me.”

“When did she….” Mulder let his voice trail off. He wasn’t sure he really wanted the answer to that question.

Charlie gave it to him anyway. “When did she tell me all this stuff? Oh, off and on, over the last three years. Dana and I have always been close, Mulder; we email each other constantly, call on the phone when we can.. And for the last three years or so you have been Topic A.”

“Jesus. Three YEARS?”

“Yeah. Now let me think….it would have been the fall of ‘95…October I think. She’d mentioned you in passing before, of course, but that’s when you started really taking over.” Charlie paused for a moment as if suddenly recalling something. “Now that I think about it,” he added, “that’s also about the time I started hearing about you from Bill.”

Mulder thought about that for a moment. October of ‘95. That would have been right after that fiasco in New Mexico. He winced. Right after Melissa died. That was also about the time he and Scully had started spending a significant amount of social time together. He nodded. It fit.

He looked at Charlie again. “So for the last three years,” he said, “you’ve been getting all sorts of…information about me from your sister.” It wasn’t quite a question.

“That’s right.” The man once again wore the amused grin that Mulder was rapidly come to like very much. “And not only from her. I’ve gotten regular reports from Mom, as well.”

“And Bill.”

Charlie shrugged. “And from Bill, too,” he admitted. “I didn’t take him very seriously, though. Bill can be a real prick when he wants to be, and while it quickly became clear that Dana was equally biased in the other direction, Mom has never been one to be bamboozled by a silver-tongued outsider when one of her kids was involved. And Mom likes you, Mulder. A lot.”

“I like her, too.”

Charlie shook his head and smiled again. “Besides, you were an obvious improvement over Jack Willis, and that gave you extra brownie points from the outset, at least in MY book.” He shivered theatrically. “For awhile I was afraid I was going to have HIM as a brother-in-law.”

Mulder hesitated. Scully’s relationship with Willis had always been something of a mystery to him. The things he’d heard about Willis from other agents had not been positive, but Scully had never seemed to want to talk about it — and since the man was dead it hadn’t seemed to matter, nor had Mulder felt he had any right to pry into his partner’s love life, until about ten days ago. But now he wanted to know, and here was Charlie, seemingly ready to give him at least a little information.

“So did you scope HIM out at your family’s Twelfth Night celebration, too?” he asked.

The younger man looked surprised. “No,” he said, shaking his head. “Of course not.”

“Why ‘of course not’?”

Charlie looked even more surprised. “He was never invited. How could he have been?”

Now Mulder was confused. <<Just when I thought I was getting control of the conversation, too.>> “Uh, maybe I’m a little slow today, Charlie. WHY was it so impossible for him to have been invited?”

Charlie just sat looking at him for a pair of minutes, and Mulder could almost hear the wheels spinning in the other man’s head. Finally: “She didn’t tell you, did she?”

“Didn’t tell me what?” The unease Mulder had felt earlier suddenly came swooping back down on him, and he felt the walls starting to close in.

The other man hesitated, then said, “Mulder, Twelfth Night is a family holiday. JUST family. The only outsider I can think of who has ever been invited is Tara. And the only reason THAT happened was because the wedding was in less than three weeks, and Bill was out on a deployment. And even at that it took me and Dana and Missy the better part of a month to persuade Mom and Dad that it was okay to invite her.”

Mulder shifted uncomfortably in his chair. “Then maybe I shouldn’t be here,” he said.

Charlie shook his head. “No,” he said. “No, I don’t think so. If you weren’t supposed to be here, you wouldn’t be here.” He smiled slightly. “Of course, Bill might have another take on the matter, if he were here, but even if he WAS here the decision wouldn’t be his to make.”

“Maybe the rules have been relaxed,” Mulder suggested.

Again Charlie shook his head. “No. Mom’s pretty flexible about most things, but not about this. You’re here because Dana wanted you to be, and Mom agreed with her. That’s utterly certain.” He grinned. “You’re lucky it’s Dana who’s stuck on you, rather than me. I wouldn’t have had the guts to ask.”

Mulder chuckled. “Sorry, Charlie; you’re not my type.” Then he realized what he’d said, and couldn’t keep from laughing out loud. “‘Sorry, Charlie,’” he repeated. “I bet you heard that a lot as a kid.”

Charlie laughed with him. “Oh, yeah. I got so that I hated that fucking fish.” After a moment he sobered again, and bit his lower lip. “Look, Mulder,” he said. “I don’t want you getting the wrong idea. It’s been a lot of fun playing with your head and making the little mousie spin his exercise wheel, but you gotta understand that this is pretty serious, too.. Dana’s had boyfriends before, and she’s had a couple of important relationships, but you’re the first one who has ever really gotten under her skin. If you’re not serious about this you could hurt her. A lot. And then Bill would hurt YOU.” Pause. “And I’d hold you down for him.”

Mulder studied the other man’s face for a moment. Coming from Bill those words would have instantly raised his hackles, but coming from Charlie they seemed…different somehow. Very softly: “I understand Charlie. And believe me, the last thing in the world I ever want to do is to hurt your sister. I love her so much, I don’t even know how to describe it. She’s…she’s…” He struggled to find the words. “She’s…everything.” He shook his head. “God, that sounded incredibly lame, but that’s the best I can do.”

“That’s okay, Mulder,” Charlie said, also very softly. “Lame is good. If you were the sort of man Bill thinks you are, you would have had a nice glib speech all prepped and ready. I’m happy to see that Bill is wrong. Not that there was ever any real doubt.” He smiled briefly. “Bill LIKED Willis.”

Mulder thought about that for a moment. Then: “So that was part of the test?”

“Yup.” Charlie nodded. “That was part of the test. And you passed with flying colors.” His easy, infectious smile came back. “Take it easy, Mulder; everything’s going to be fine. You’ve already passed muster with Mom, and she’s a pretty shrewd judge of character. And as for me…” He paused and shrugged. “All I really want is for Dana to be happy. And it’s pretty obvious that she is.”

At that moment Mulder heard the front door open, and then Scully’s voice floated in from the living room. “Mulder? Mulder, where are you?”

Mulder stood up. “I, uh, I’d better go see what she wants,” he said.

Charlie shook his head, and once more his smile broadened into a grin. “Man, you’ve got it bad.”

Mulder smiled back, still a little uncertain, then turned and went to find Scully.


Chapter 10: EPIPHANY. In which pain is shared, and thereby diminished.

This chapter is rated PG-13.

I slipped out of the room when the hymns started.

Dana caught my eye, and saw what I was doing, but she just nodded, ever so slightly, knowing where I was going and why, and went on singing with the others. “We Three Kings” it was. I used to love that one.

I stepped into the kitchen and closed the door, which muted the sound of their voices but didn’t block it out entirely. I thought for a moment about going on outside, but it was so damned cold out there, and I’d left my coat in the front closet. No way I could get it without drawing attention to myself, and I was not so completely lost in self-pity that I was willing to go outdoors in 20 degree weather in my shirt sleeves.

Holidays used to be my favorite times, and Christmas and Twelfth Night were best of all, but that was before I lost Betty and the kids. Now those special times of year range from barely tolerable to excruciating, and I try to skip out on as much of the damned holiday cheer as I can.

My C.O. just thinks I’m an eager beaver, volunteering as O.D. on Christmas Day or the Fourth of July, but really it’s just a way of hiding. When I’m sitting at my desk, knowing that I’m one of about five people in the building, just focusing on the latest intelligence estimates and trying to figure out what that motherfucker in Baghdad is up to THIS time, I can make it all go away for awhile.


Dana is the only one who really understands. We’ve been close, really close, ever since we were kids. When those bullies at PS 233 beat me up and stole my lunch money, Dana was the one who shared her food with me. When she missed qualifying for the state science competition by a tenth of a point, I was the one who told her they were assholes who didn’t know what they were talking about. When Susie Pesek broke my heart in the 10th grade, Dana was was the one who took me out and bought me ice cream, and persuaded me to get right back on the horse and ask another girl out. When that son of a bitch Willis laughed at her when she asked him to marry her, I was the one who held her while she cried.

And when I lost my wife and children, Dana was the one who dropped everything and stayed with me until I was strong enough to be alone.

Don’t get me wrong; I love my family. But Dana has always been special to me, and she always will be. And I’m so glad she’s finally found someone who fulfills her that I could dance for fucking joy.

That’s even mostly true, but when I look inside myself I have to admit that there is a small tinge of jealousy at the fact that she now has someone else she can turn to instead of me. But I always knew this day would come, and I long ago swore to myself that I wouldn’t let this feeling rule me. And the fact that the man she’s chosen seems to be a hell of a fine human being helps a lot.

I am pulled out of my reverie by the door opening, and I turn to see who it is. Mulder. Automatically I put that friendly smile on my face — not the one I show to admirals and Congresscritters, but the one I reserve for people I actually like. It’s just a little forced at the moment, that’s all, because happy isn’t what I’m really feeling right now.

I can tell by the brief hesitation in his stride that he has seen through my mask, but on top of everything else he is a gentleman, and he ignores it. He steps over to the refrigerator and proceeds to root around in it, looking for something.

“Can I help you out, Mulder?” I say, taking a step towards him.

He glances briefly over his shoulder, then turns back to his task. “Yeah.. Your mom said there was another quart of egg nog in here, but I can’t seem to find it.”

“Oh, yeah,” I say. “I saw it earlier. Second shelf, all the way in the back.”

“Got it.” He straightens up and turns to face me, and there is nothing but easy friendliness on his face. Mulder and I really hit it off this afternoon, even if he is a Knicks fan. “So Charlie,” he says, moving over to the cupboard where mom keeps her mugs and glasses. “When am I going to get to meet your wife and kids?”

He has his back to me as he delivers this line, so he doesn’t see my jaw drop, or the momentary flash of anger on my face, but in another second he’s going to turn around and look at me again, and then he’ll know, so I quickly turn away from him and lean against the sink.

<<He doesn’t know,>> I tell myself. <<That’s the only explanation. He doesn’t know, because Dana never told him.>> I hadn’t realized until he and I had been talking for awhile this morning that Dana had been a one-way conduit between Mulder and me. She’d dumped so much information about him into my lap over the past three years that I just assumed she’d been telling him all about me, as well.

In retrospect I realize I was wrong about that. I even understand why it was all one way. Dana talked to me at such length about Mulder because she was trying to sort out her feelings about him, and figure out what she wanted. Her mind was conflicted with her heart, and she was using me as a sort of combination sounding board and referee between the two sides of herself. Of course, she had no such conflict when it came to her feelings towards me, and so there was no reason for the information flow to run in the other direction.

Unfortunately, now I am paying the price for that. Mulder doesn’t know about what happened to Betty and the kids, and now he’s gone and inadvertently put his foot in a very sensitive place.

I stand at the sink for a moment, expecting him to go away. It’s a guy thing, you see: Guys don’t share their emotions with each other, and when one of us does slip and let something through, the others are honor bound to pretend not to have seen it, and withdraw from the situation as soon as possible.

Only I guess Mulder never heard about that rule, because suddenly I feel the lightest possible touch on my shoulder, and I close my eyes for just a moment as I realize I’m going to have to deal with this.

“Charlie?” Mulder’s voice is very soft, very gentle. “Charlie? Did I say something wrong?”

Oh, yeah, Mulder, you said something wrong. But it’s not your fault.

I draw a shaky breath, still holding onto the edge of the sink as tightly as I can. I don’t really think I’ll collapse on the floor if I let go, but it feels like it. “It’s okay, Mulder,” I say. “I’m fine.”

Surprisingly, I hear a chuckle at that statement, and I turn my head just enough to see that he is smiling. At the look on my face the smile is instantly gone, and he says, “Sorry. That’s what Scully always says when she doesn’t want me to know how badly hurt she is.”

I can’t help but smile a bit at that. This man really does know Dana, maybe even better than I do. It’s nice to have a kindred spirit at last.

I realize that I’m still standing here at the sink, looking at Mulder half over my shoulder, and now I look at his eyes and I am surprised at what I find there. Not just the tentative glint of humor as he realizes from my smile that I’m not angry at him, but something else. Caring. Compassion. Empathy. Something that encourages me to share whatever it is that’s bothering me, but at the same time assures me that it’s okay if I don’t want to.

I think I’m beginning to understand why Dana fell for this guy.

I shake my head slightly and turn back to the sink, thinking about it. He’s going to have to know, sooner or later, and there really isn’t a good time or a good way to tell him. Might as well be now. I take a deep breath and try to focus all my attention on the faucet, like it was the Holy Grail or something. I feel Mulder’s hand touch my shoulder again, and somehow that makes it easier.

“My wife,” I say, but then suddenly there’s this lump in my throat, and I have to swallow it back down and start over. “My wife…Betty. And Mikey, and Sarah. They…they were in the Murrah Building. Oklahoma City.”

There is a moment of silence that seems to stretch on forever. Images start to form in front of me, things I just don’t want to look at right now, and inside I am screaming for Mulder to goddamned say something, and take my attention off of this.

Finally he speaks. “Jesus, Charlie. I’m so sorry. I didn’t know.”

And the people in the living room choose that exact moment to launch into “Brightest and Best of the Sons of the Morning,” Betty’s favorite of all the Twelfth Night hymns, and I just lose it. My knees give out and I slide down onto the floor, and Mulder is going right down with me, wrapping his arms around my shoulders while I sob like a baby.

After awhile I run down, but we continue to sit there, kind of cuddled together. Mulder doesn’t say anything, doesn’t move, is hardly even breathing, just being there and letting me know that I’m not alone. Jesus. If he’s always like this I don’t know how Dana managed to hold out for three years before finally giving in to him. I’m not a touchy- feelie sort of guy, but I am just completely and totally comfortable, sitting here with him holding me. And after a bit, I hear myself start to talk.

“I was running late that day,” I hear myself saying. “Betty and I slept through the alarm, but she was always more organized than I was, and she had herself dressed and the kids ready for daycare before I had even had my shower. So I told her to head on in to work, and I’d follow in the Cavalier in a few minutes.

“I was almost there when I heard this booming noise. I didn’t know what it was — gas main explosion, maybe, though it would’ve had to have been a pretty fucking humongous gas main to generate that much off a shockwave.. Then a couple minutes later I came around the corner and I saw…well, you were in Dallas.”

I have to stop for a minute to get my breathing back under control, because now we’re coming to the bad part. “I jumped out of the car and ran towards the building. Never even crossed my mind that there might be more explosions, or that the building might collapse on me or something. I just knew that my wife and kids were in there, and I had to find them.

“It was horrible. There was rubble everywhere, and people hurt, and crying, the cops and ambulances were just starting to arrive…. God. I wound up working with one of the rescue teams, digging people out, saving those we could and…and rescuing the bodies of those we couldn’t. And the whole time I was looking for Betty and Mikey and Sarah.”

The lump is back in my throat, but this time swallowing doesn’t seem to be doing me any good, and so I just decide to press on and get it over with. “And then I found Mikey. And he was alive. He was buried under a bunch of bricks and stuff, but he was still alive. I knew I couldn’t move him, I knew I had to wait for the paramedics, so I just lay down next to him. His breathing was so shallow…I could barely see his chest moving. And then it stopped.”

The tears are streaming down my face again, and my shoulders are shaking. I don’t know what Mulder must be thinking about all this, but way in the back recesses of my mind I remember what Dana has told me about the tragedies he’s had to endure, so maybe it’s okay. Finally he says, very softly, “He was waiting for you, Charlie.”

I nod my head. “Yeah, I know. I figured that out. And I thank God every single day that I was allowed to be with him when he died. But god, Mulder, it hurts so much. It hurts so much.” And then I just break down and cry again for awhile.

At last things seem to calm down a bit. I don’t think I want to go into the nightmares; we’ve had enough for now, both of us. I look into his eyes and the empathy and compassion are still there, he’s still reaching out to me, and I have this sudden realization, almost blinding in its wonder and simplicity, that I don’t need to be jealous of this man. He’s not taking my sister from me. He’s not taking Dana. He’s completing her, and he’s going to be there for me, just as she has always been, because now he’s part of who she is. It’s like an epiphany.

Suddenly I start to laugh, as I realize what day it is and just how fucking appropriate that word is. Mulder’s looking a little puzzled, but I’m too wound up with laughter to be able to explain it to him, he’ll just have to wait. I clutch my sides and double over, almost choking with hilarity. I know it’s not really THAT funny, but I can’t stop myself. I guess it’s a way of blowing off steam.

After a minute or so the laughter dies down until it’s just a chuckle or two, and finally I stop and wipe my eyes on my shirt sleeve. Mulder says, “Care to share the joke with me?”

I shake my head. “S-sorry. It would take too long to explain. And it wasn’t THAT funny, really.”

“Are you guys okay?”

We both look up, and there’s Dana standing in the doorway, concern writ large on her face. I don’t know exactly how much of this she witnessed, but I’m not really up to going over it again, and besides, I’m actually feeling much better now than I was a few minutes ago.

“We’re fine, sis,” I say, climbing to my feet and offering Mulder a hand up. “Me and your main squeeze were just doing a little bonding.”

It must be pretty damned obvious that I’ve been crying, but she seems to accept that explanation and smiles. “Good. I’m glad to see you two guys getting along so well. It means a lot to me.” Then she takes three quick steps forward and wraps one arm around me and the other around Mulder and pulls us close, wedging her head in between our chests. “I love you both so much.”

What’s a guy to do? I look over at Mulder, and there’s an amused grin on his face. He winks at me, and I wink back. Then he puts his arms around me and Dana, and I reciprocate, and we just stand there for a moment having this three way hug.

Epiphany. Yeah. That’s definitely the right word.


Chapter 11: A WOMAN IN LOVE. In which extreme possibilities are considered.

This chapter is rated PG.

Charlie Scully stopped in the entryway to Arby’s for a moment and gazed at his sister. A couple of people elbowed by him in annoyance, but he didn’t care: Watching Dana when she didn’t know she was being watched was one of his all-time favorite spectator sports.

At the moment she was seated in a booth towards the back of the restaurant, elbows propped on the table, her hands clutching what he knew was almost certainly a jamocha shake. On the table in front of her was a sandwich with far too much lettuce and other vegetable matter for Charlie’s taste, as well as a small envelope of french fries. And her face….

Charlie felt a smile spreading across his own features. Yup. She was thinking about Mulder again. What a surprise.

He stepped up to the counter and placed his order; a few moments later, beef and cheddar and a large soft drink in hand, he strode across the restaurant to Dana’s booth and slid into the seat opposite her.

“Hey, Red!” he greeted her.

She looked across the table at him and smiled. “Hey, Red!”

“So,” Charlie continued as he unwrapped his sandwich. “What’s on the agenda for today?”

Dana shrugged slightly. “Nothing much. I just wanted a chance to see you before you had to ship out again.”

Charlie snorted. “‘Ship out,’” he repeated. “Yeah, right. The fate of the free world hangs in the balance if I’m not back at my desk shuffling papers by 0800 tomorrow.”

“Join the Navy and see the bureaucracy,” Dana replied playfully.

Charlie shook his head in amazement. Dana was so different — so happy. He could hardly fucking believe it. His mother had reported this change to him when he’d called late last week to let her know he’d managed to get leave for Twelfth Night, but hearing it from someone else and seeing it for himself were two very different things. It was almost enough to make him want to kiss the man responsible.


“What are you thinking about?”

Charlie blinked; he hadn’t intended to get quite so far into his little reverie. “Sorry,” he said, flashing what he hoped was an enigmatic half-smile. “I was just contemplating giving your boyfriend a hickey.”

For just the barest second shock flitted across Dana’s face, and Charlie let his smile broaden into a grin. Her eyes widened as she realized she’d been had, and in another instant brother and sister were both doubled over and helpless with laughter.


“Tell me again why we’re doing this,” Charlie said as he trailed his sister through the crowded shopping mall.

“I told you,” Dana replied. “I’m looking for a present for Mulder. A Christmas present.”

“But Dana,” he protested, “Christmas was two weeks ago, and —”

“Thirteen days,” she corrected. “Thirteen long days. And I still haven’t gotten him a present.” She suddenly veered from her path and darted into a bookstore, and Charlie had to run to catch up.

He found her, as he’d more than half expected, in the New Age section of the store. She took one glance at him as he approached, then turned her gaze back to the shelves in front of her.

“Crystals; auras; Tarot — god, what a bunch of crap.” Dana shook her head. “Who in their right mind would put this stuff in the same category with UFO’s and vampires?”

“Who indeed, sis?” Charlie said, making no effort at all to keep the amusement out of his voice. It was as much as he could do to keep from bursting out laughing again — this was, after all, his big sister Dana, the rationalist’s rationalist, muttering under her breath because B. Dalton’s choose to keep the “respectable” paranormal materials in the same aisle with the not-so-respectable.

Dana shook her head again. “This is impossible,” she declared. “He already has half these books, and for all I know he doesn’t have the other half because they aren’t any good.” She sighed. “A book isn’t personal enough, anyway.” And she turned and strode from the store. Charlie followed.


An hour and a quarter later they were sitting on a bench at the far end of the mall. They’d been in at least a dozen stores, but Dana still hadn’t managed to settle on a gift. And although Charlie was taking considerable amusement at watching his sister in a shopping frenzy — it was almost as much fun as tormenting ensigns — his feet were tired, and he was getting hungry again.

“This is impossible,” Dana was saying. “He’s always been hard to shop for, but there has to be SOMETHING he’d like. I just know it. If only I could think….”

Charlie tuned out her annoyed muttering for a moment, and let his gaze slide across the storefronts opposite them. Musicland…Software, Etc….Thingsville…Victoria’s Secret…GNC….

His eyes snapped back to Victoria’s Secret, and he felt a smile spreading across his face. Mannequins dressed in all sorts of frilly, lacy bits of froth adorned the display window, and as he looked at the storefront a couple of giggling sorority types entered the place. He nodded to himself. Yeah; just the thing.

He grabbed Dana’s elbow, cutting her off in mid-fume, and dragged her off the bench and onto her feet.

“Charlie? What — ?”

“Come on, Dana. I think I’ve found what you’re looking for.” He started to guide her across the thoroughfare towards the lingerie shop.

“I don’t understand. What are you doing?”

Charlie glanced over his shoulder at her and grinned. “Finding Mulder a gift and improving your sex life, all at the same time.”

Her eyes widened as she realized where he was leading her. “Oh, no, Charlie. You are not getting me to go in there. My sex life is just fine!”

He stopped and turned to look at her appraisingly. “‘Fine?’”

“Fine,” she repeated firmly. “As in good. Nice. Wonderful.”

“Uh huh.” He studied her face for a moment, then smiled and shook his head. “Fine isn’t good enough,” he said, and took her arm again and tried to pull her towards the store.

“Charlie, no!” Dana pulled loose from him and took a couple of steps back. He was surprised to see that she really did seem upset, which hadn’t been his intention at all, and for a moment he wondered if he’d made a mistake.

“Dana?” He took a tentative step towards her. “Dana, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to embarrass you or anything.” He hesitated, then added, “What’s the problem?”

He watched as she chewed on her lower lip for a moment; she seemed to be debating with herself what to say. Finally, with some discomfort: “It’s just, um…that I’ve never…um, I’ve never bought anything…like that before.”

Charlie felt his eyebrows shoot up in surprise. “Never?”

She shook her head. “Never.” Her voice firmed up just a bit. “And, to be honest, I’ve never understood why anyone would want to.”

Charlie stared at his sister for a moment; then he shook his head. “Wow.” He studied her for just a moment as afternoon shoppers continued to flow around them. “Dana,” he said, “just why, exactly, do you suppose people buy clothes like that?” He nodded towards the lingerie store.

Dana shook her head again. “I really don’t know.” She paused. “I guess….I guess maybe they do it because…because they’re getting bored? Or because men just…like that sort of thing?” She looked up at him questioningly.

“I suppose those things may enter into it for some people,” Charlie agreed, “but that isn’t all of it.” He looked at her thoughtfully for a moment. “Do you like your cake with frosting on it?”

She looked puzzled for just an instant; then her face cleared, and she nodded. “Of course. But I’m not a cake, Charlie; I’m not a thing. I’m a person.”

“Of course you are,” he said. “You’re a lovely young woman. But this is just an analogy, so bear with me; I promise you, I’m not trying to objectify you.” He waited until she nodded in assent. “Now to get back to the cake, you admit that you like frosting on your cake, right?” Another, somewhat reluctant nod. “Okay. But cake is pretty good all by itself, isn’t it? I mean, it tastes good, and you can get just as fat and shoot your cholesterol all to hell even if you eat cake without frosting, right?”

“Yes,” she said, “and I see where you’re going with this. But Charlie —”

He raised his hand to cut her off. “Don’t interrupt, Red; I’m on a roll.” He gave her an affectionate smirk, and was pleased to see the beginnings of a smile tugging at the corners of her mouth.

“Now let’s move on to something else,” he continued. “I think we’ve covered the cake in adequate detail. Have you and Mulder been out on a formal date yet?”

“Well, yes. On New Year’s Eve. But —”

“Okay, so you’ve been out together, and you’ve done the dinner and dancing thing, or gone to a play, or whatever. Did Mulder dress up for this date?”

Now she did smile. “Yes. Yes he did.”

“But why did he dress up, Dana? What was the point? You weren’t bored with him, were you? You wouldn’t have loved him any less if he’d showed up wearing jeans and t-shirt, would you?” He paused just long enough for the questions to sink in, but not long enough for her to try to respond. “Did you enjoy looking at him in his suit or tux or whatever it was?”

Again she gnawed on her lower lip. Finally she nodded, and smiled. “Yes..”

“Okay,” Charlie went on. “Let’s turn it around. What did YOU wear that night?”

“I, uh, didn’t really have anything appropriate, so I bought a new dress.”

Charlie nodded. “Was it a nice dress? Did it look good on you?”

Dana actually blushed this time, and Charlie felt his lips quirk in amusement. “Mulder seemed to think so.”

“What did he say?”

“He didn’t actually SAY anything.” Her blush deepened. “It was more the way he looked at me.”

“Did you like the way he looked at you?”

“Yes. But…”

Her voice trailed off; Charlie waited until he was sure she wasn’t going to complete her thought without prompting. Then, very softly, “But what?” Still she didn’t answer. “Are you afraid there’s something wrong with the way you felt that evening?”

“N-no. Not exactly. It’s just….no one — no man — has ever looked at me quite like that before.”

“I doubt THAT very seriously,” Charlie said, allowing just a touch of humor to enter his voice. “More likely this is the first time you’ve allowed yourself to enjoy it.” She started to say something, but he cut her off again, and leaned forward and put a hand on her shoulder. “Dana, it’s okay for him to look at you, and it’s okay for you to enjoy having him look at you. And vice versa, of course, but somehow I don’t think that’s the big problem here. And that’s the real reason stores like this stay in business.”

She looked up at him questioningly, and again he nodded towards the lingerie shop, and said, “Because men and women like to look at each other, and they like to be looked at. Now come on; whaddaya say? Let’s go take a look at what they’ve got. Just because you look, that doesn’t mean you have to buy.”

A moment later the two of them were standing just inside the entrance to the store. Charlie stood back from Dana just a foot or two, giving her a little room to establish a comfort level, and also giving her time to get used to being in the place. He noticed one of the sales clerks looking over at them inquiringly, but he shook his head, and she nodded slightly and turned away.

Finally Dana started to walk through the store, stopping here and there to examine a piece of merchandise. She was so completely focused on what she was doing that for a moment Charlie thought this might be how she looked when she was examining a crime scene. He followed along a couple of steps behind, trying to stay out of her line of vision, and waited.

She stopped in front of a mannequin wearing a corselet, and gave it a long look. Charlie edged around to the side, not wanting to distract her, but trying to get a look at her face, but he couldn’t tell from her expression what she was thinking. From the way she’d acted outside the store, he didn’t think Dana was quite ready for this, but if she decided to go for it he would back her up. It wasn’t a good color for her — fire engine red with black trim — but that was a fixable problem; there was an entire rack of similar garments only a few feet away. After a moment more, Dana glanced briefly at Charlie, smiled slightly and shook her head, and walked on.

They finally wound up in front of a rack of negligees, and Charlie nodded to himself. This was probably a good place for her to start; nothing too kinky, but all of them had clearly been designed with something other than sleep in mind.

The look of concentration on her face deepened as she slowly and methodically looked at each garment on the rack. Charlie watched in fascination, wondering if she would actually have the courage to choose something. He’d already pushed her pretty hard, and he really didn’t want to make her too uncomfortable.

Just a LITTLE uncomfortable.

Finally, she pulled one of the negligees from the rack, and Charlie nodded approvingly to himself. It was floor length, lime green with forest green highlights, and with a simple but elegant filigree design on the bodice. The entire assemblage was held up by spaghetti-style shoulder straps, and came with a matching overgarment. Charlie couldn’t prevent a smile from spreading across his face. Fox Mulder was one lucky son of a bitch, and he didn’t even know it yet.

Dana continued looking at the negligee, then turned hesitantly towards Charlie and held the garment up for his closer inspection. “What do you think?” There was a strange mix of hopeful uncertainty in her voice.

Charlie nodded soberly, understanding that he could easily bruise her at this moment by being too flip. “It’s lovely,” he said softly.

“Do you — do you think Mulder would…like it?”

“I think Mulder will love it.”

Dana looked at the price tag and shook her head. “It’’s awfully expensive. I had no idea they cost that much.” Her voice was soft and wistful. “I mean, it’s not a lot of money as such, but it’s a lot to spend on something that…that I’d only be wearing for a few minutes.” She looked back up at Charlie again, searching his face. “Isn’t it?”

Charlie raised his eyebrows and smiled. “Ah, but you aren’t going to wear it for only a few minutes.” He took the negligee from her and held it up so that they could both see the overhead lights shining through the gauzy material.

“I’m not?”

He shook his head and handed the garment back to her. “Nope. Well, actually, you COULD do it that way, if you wanted to. But there’s a better way.”

“What’s the better way?”

“You can stretch it out; make it last awhile.” He hesitated, and suddenly realized that for all his bravado he wasn’t entirely comfortable at the idea of discussing Dana’s sex life with her in intimate detail.

She must have read the uncertainty in his face, because she reached out and laid a gentle hand on his elbow. “It’s okay, Charlie. Really. Go ahead and tell me what the better way is. I know it sounds stupid, but I really haven’t…haven’t done things like this before.” And she blushed again and looked down at the floor.

Charlie nodded. “Okay. Here’s the deal. You invite Mulder over to your place some evening, on the pretext of watching a movie, playing cards, whatever it is you two like to do together. When he shows up, you’re already wearing this.” He touched the negligee briefly. “However, he doesn’t know that, because over the pretty gown you are wearing some old robe or caftan or something that he’s seen before. Something that looks nice, but isn’t TOO terribly sexy. With me so far?”

Dana nodded.

“The next step,” Charlie went on, ” is to get set up for the evening you planned. Say you invited him for a movie. You tell him to sit on the couch and wait while you get the popcorn. Then, without any comment, and without looking at him, you take off the robe and lay it across a chair or something. Then you go get the popcorn, put the movie in the VCR and sit down next to him and cuddle up close.” He stopped and studied her face.

Dana chewed on her lower lip for a moment, and finally shook her head. “I guess I don’t get it.”

“Oh, come on, Dana,” Charlie replied. “Don’t you see? By the time you sit down next to him, Mulder’s eyes will be popping right out of his head — you’ll probably have to pick them up off the carpet for him.” She chuckled, and he continued, “Then you by god sit next too him for the next two hours, and the two of you cuddle and watch the movie.”

“But won’t he just try to….you know?” She waved her hand in the air in embarrassment.

“Not if you play it right. Not if you ignore what you’re wearing completely. He’ll sit there next to you with his arm around you, trying desperately to keep his cool, waiting for you to make the first move.” He chuckled. “And if he DOES try to ‘you know’, is that such a terrible thing? But he won’t, and you’ll get two solid hours of Mulder sitting next to you, looking at you and touching you the way he did when you wore that dress on New Year’s Eve.”

Slowly a smile started to spread across Dana’s face. “That does sound like fun,” she said, and shook her head. “You are an evil, evil man, Charlie.”

Charlie thought they were done, but on the way to the cash register Dana suddenly served and then stopped in front of the mannequin wearing the corselet again. Charlie’s eyes shot up in surprise as he stood and watched his sister. He had a better angle on her face this time, and it was clear that while part of her was resisting, another part of her was very attracted to the garment. Deciding that it was time for another brotherly push, he stepped up next to her.

“You could get one of those, too, if you want to, but that’s not a good color for you.” He stepped over to the rack and quickly flipped through them, finally coming up with one in midnight blue with black trim. He pulled it out and held it up for her. “Here. I think this one would look good on you.”

Dana looked at him uncertainly for a moment, then held the negligee up. “But I already have this.”

He smiled at her. “So where is it written that you’re only allowed to have one item of sexy clothing?”

Dana’s gaze flicked from her brother to the corselet, then back to her brother again. “I don’t know, Charlie,” she said uncertainly.

Charlie studied her face for a moment. She pretty clearly wanted to buy the corselet, but there was something bothering her, something other than the objections she had raised before. “Dana?” He spoke very softly. “What’s wrong?”

“It’s just…” Her voice trailed off, and her face took on a look of frustration as she continued to stare at the garment. Finally she let her eyes drop to the floor, and she muttered, “It’s those damned videos.”

Once again Charlie felt his eyebrows creeping up. “Videos?” It took him just a minute, but then he had it. “Oh, you mean Mulder’s X-rated movies?” She nodded, but still wouldn’t meet his eyes. “What about them?” he asked.

She shifted uncomfortably. “The women in the videos…they wear stuff like that.” Finally she raised her eyes to look at him again. “Don’t they?”

Charlie had thought his eyebrows were as high on his forehead as they would go, but discovered that he was wrong. “Yeah, I suppose they do.” He thought about it for just a moment. “Are you afraid you might suffer from the comparison?”

“Yes.” It was barely a whisper; this must really be bothering her.

Charlie took a deep breath. “Dana, haven’t you figured out why Mulder has those videos?”

She shrugged unhappily. “I suppose it’s because…because they turn him on. Men seem to like them.”

“Some men do,” Charlie said. “And so do some women, by the way. But in Mulder’s case I think the pattern is pretty clear, don’t you?” He waited, but she just shook her head. “Look at the profile, Dana, and try to put your personal involvement aside for a minute. Here we have a normal, healthy man, mid to late 30s. Hasn’t had a date in four or five years, right?” She nodded. “But what he DOES have is a collection of pornographic videotapes, and by the way, for that entire five years plus he’s been working very closely with an attractive woman close to his own age, and now we find that for months, if not years, he’s been in love with her. What does THAT tell you?” And he stopped and waited for her to work it out.

Dana’s eyes widened. “You think the tapes were a form of…of sublimation?”

Charlie nodded. “And not very subtle sublimation, at that. And not only that, Dana, but think about the fact that he let you find out about the tapes. That’s pretty damned unusual — most guys who own stuff like that like to keep it secret, especially from friends of the opposite sex. But not Mulder — ffrom what you’ve told me in the past, it sounds like he almost went out of his way to make SURE you knew about them. I’m not saying this was conscious on his part, but it sounds an awfully lot like he wanted to make sure you knew that he wasn’t seeking relief with other women.”

Dana was silent for a moment as she took all that in. Finally, very softly: “Jesus.” She shook her head. “That’s…that’s unbelievable.”

Charlie shrugged. “It may or may not be true; maybe the poor guy’s just oversexed.” He smirked slightly, wanting to lighten the tone of the conversation a bit. “You’d know about that better than I would. But in any case, I don’t think you need to be threatened by the women on those tapes.. Mulder strikes me as being smart enough to know the difference between a TV picture and the real thing.” He hesitated just a moment, considering whether or not to make one more suggestion, then shrugged and added, “And if you REALLY want to understand those videos, and why he likes them, maybe you should sit down and watch a couple of them with him.”

Her eyes widened again. “Are you serious?”

“Sure. Why not?”

“Well…it’s kind of…weird. Isn’t it?”

Charlie shrugged. “What’s weird?” he asked. “Look, Dana, I’m not trying to push you into anything — not much, anyway.” He smiled at her, and she smiled back, just a little uncertainly. “But I promise you that if you ask tto watch one of those movies with him, he’ll be over at your place with a videotape in one hand and a six pack of beer in the other faster than you can say Johnny Wad.” He held up the corselet. “And if you have THIS on under your robe when he comes over, I can pretty much assure you that you’ll get a first-hand, in-depth demonstration of HIS opinion on whose underwear is the prettiest.”

Dana stood looking at him for a pair of minutes, seeming to study his face. Finally, she nodded. “Okay,” she said, venturing another small smile as she took the corselet from him. “I’ll…I’ll think about it.” She shook her head, and her smile broadened. “I really love you, Charlie. Do you know that?” And she went up on her toes and kissed her brother lightly on the cheek before turning to walk to the cash register.


Chapter 12: PRINCESS LEIA RACES HOME ABOARD HER STARSHIP. In which extreme possibilities are explored.

This chapter is rated NC-17.

She’s up to something. I can tell. She thinks she’s being subtle, but whenever she looks at me that way, like a cat sizing up the next canary, I can tell.

She’s up to something.

She’s been looking at me that way since yesterday afternoon, ever since she got back from that outing with Charlie. I realized as soon as I saw her walk back in the door that she was planning something, and that I was the centerpiece. I should have known better than to let her out of my sight; I especially should have known better than to let her spend time alone with Charlie. But water under the bridge and all that. At least I can be reasonably sure that whatever the two of them dreamed up for me, it will turn out to be fun, in a twisted, harrowing sort of a way.

Today we actually went in to the office for awhile. We haven’t spent more than three or four hours actually working since Christmas — not counting that wretched side trip to Iowa — which is something of a record for us, seeing as how we’re both workaholicss. Somehow having something more to come home to than a beat up old sofa and a collection of videotapes makes fourteen hour days and six day weeks a little less enticing. I know this little impromptu vacation is going to have to end soon, but it’s been fun while it lasted.

This afternoon as we were getting ready to leave work, she looked over at me, and her face had that same predatory look she’s been wearing since yesterday, only now it was even more open and, well, wanton I guess is the word. And she asked me if I wanted to drop by her place and watch a movie tonight.

Now on the surface this seems like a reasonable question, and up until two weeks ago it would have been perfectly normal. Hey Mulder, here it is Friday night, I’ve got nothing planned, want to drop by and watch a movie? And I’d respond sure, Scully, what time, and she’d say, oh, how about sevenish, and I’d say sure again, want me to pick up some Chinese on my way.

And in fact, that’s the exact script we worked through this afternoon, right down to the casual eyebrow quirk and the little wave of the hand she gave me just before I walked out the door.

But the thing is that we are no longer doing the let’s-be-friends thing. As a matter of fact, I woke up in her bed this morning and had Dana Scully for breakfast instead of coffee and a bagel. I don’t think I’ve spent more than 15 minutes in my own apartment since New Year’s; the last time was Monday afternoon, and that was just a quick stop to verify that all my fish were dead. So it really makes very little sense for her to be asking me if I want to come over tonight; I’d kind of been assuming that I would, and that we’d pick things up where we left off this morning when her snooze alarm went off for the third time.

I almost called her on it. Almost. But that look in her eye stopped me; the look that said, sure, she’d tell me what she was up to. But then it wouldn’t be as much fun.

I can wait.

So here I am standing in front of her apartment door, feeling alarmingly adolescent, a rented movie in my coat pocket and a single red rose in my hand. Yeah, a rose. That’s right. Fox Mulder, charter member of Cynics and Misogynists Anonymous, has brought a flower for his best girl. Bite me.

Even more amazingly, I find myself reaching out and knocking politely on her door, instead of using the key she gave me long before we ever started exploring all this new territory. Again, don’t ask me why I’m doing it this way; it just seems like the Right Thing to Do.

Now the door is swinging wide, and in the brief instant it takes to open a dozen images flash through my mind, including one triggered by an advice column I read once while waiting for a connecting flight from Resume Speed to East Bumfuck, in which the columnist advised someone to put more spice in her marriage by greeting her husband when he got home from work wearing only a pitcher of margaritas. Well, not WEARING the margaritas; you get my meaning.

Finally the door is open and Scully is standing there, wearing not a pitcher of margaritas but her favorite lounge-around-the-house quilted robe. It covers her completely from neck to ankle, but fortunately I have an eidetic memory, and I know how to use it.

I smile and offer her the rose. She takes it and closes her eyes as she holds it to her nose and inhales deeply. Then she opens her eyes again and flashes me her thousand watt smile, the one I don’t think anyone but me ever gets to see, and this almost makes up for the Mother Hubbard of a robe she’s wearing. She steps forward and gives me a big hug, which I of course return, then she rises up on her toes and gives me a welcome home kiss.

This is more like it.

“I’m so glad you’re here,” she murmurs against my mouth. “I’ve missed you.”

Well, Scully, it was your idea for me not to come over until seven. Aloud I just say, “I’ve missed you, too,” which is the god’s honest truth.

After another quick kiss she releases me and we stop putting on a show for her neighbors and step into her apartment and shut and lock the door. I glance around the living room, trying to look casual, but I can’t spot anything different. Whatever she has planned for tonight, it must be in the bedroom. This is looking better and better. Maybe we won’t even get around to watching the movie I rented. Another $2.49 shot to hell.

Almost as if she were reading my mind (which I wouldn’t put past her), Scully says, “What movie did you rent, Mulder?” I pull it from my pocket and hand it to her; she glances at the label, then looks up at me and gives me another thousand watter. That’s two of them in less than five minutes, and if I had any lingering doubts I am now absolutely certain that something is up, and that I am going to be one lucky son of a bitch.

“Star Wars Special Edition,” she says. “Wonderful. I haven’t seen Star Wars since I was in junior high.” Her smile broadens, which I wouldn’t have thought was possible, and she leans up against me and wraps her arms around my waist. “I was thirteen when it came out, Mulder. I spent most of the last reel in the balcony, necking with Jimmy Winston. He was a good kisser.” And she goes up on her toes again and gives me one of the more erotic kisses she has ever given me, which is really saying something.. “But not as good as you.”

I am suddenly struck, as I’m sure she intended, by the image of 13-year-old Dana Scully, breasts just budding, hips just starting to take on a hint of a womanly shape, engaged in a friendly bit of wrestling with some pimple-faced punk with more hands than are good for him. Good kisser, though; she said he was a good kisser. I stare down at her face for a moment, and I can’t help but wonder how that necking session went. Did she let him put his hand under her shirt? Maybe she did; I can see from the expression on her face that she is remembering that day in rather vivid detail, but I’m not able to read those details. She probably let him put his hand in her shirt, I decide, but not down her pants or up her dress or whatever. Not at thirteen.

At least, I don’t THINK she would have done that sort of thing when she was thirteen — but now that I think of it the very idea is making me even more horny than I already was.

Now her smile is back — not the thousand watter, but the one that tells me that I’m next in line for the rotisserie. And then she breaks away fromm me and walks over to the sofa, and of course I follow.

“Why don’t you take off your coat and sit down, Mulder,” she says, laying the tape on top of the television and turning around to watch as I follow her suggestion or instruction or whatever it was. Hell, I might as well be honest and admit that it was an instruction; we’re following her script now, and there’s no point in trying to deny it. Then once I am comfortably seated — or as comfortably seated as I can be with a raging hard-on and the woman who inspired it standing only three feet away — sshe turns away from me and with studied casualness she takes off her robe and drops it on the far end of the sofa before turning to face me again.




This has got to be a dream; it has got to be a fucking dream. She is standing there, the very slightest smile on her lips, dressed — if you want to call it that — in a lime green, floor length negligee, which covers her completely and not at all. I can’tt quite make out whether she’s wearing anything under it, and that last tiny bit of mystery and uncertainty is just making this experience all the more surreal.

“Mulder? Are you okay?”

I am jerked partway back to reality by Scully’s voice. With a supreme effort of will I force my eyes away from feasting on her curves and look back up at her face. She has walked over to stand in front of me and is peering down at me, wearing her Dr. Scully face, the one she uses when she thinks I might be hurt or sick.

“W-what?” I manage to stutter out. “What did you say?” Wow. Four syllables. A complete sentence.

“I asked you if you’re okay,” she says, taking another step closer to me. Now I know what it feels like to have the mountain come to Mohammed. She puts a gentle hand on my forehead. “You feel hot,” she adds, her voice barely above a whisper.

Oh boy, do I ever. But I suddenly realize at least part of what’s going on: Scully wants to tease me. She wants to torment me and see just how much I can take before I crack and fall on the floor, begging for her to wrap those luscious red lips around my —

No. Not going to do it. Think about something else. Think about the movie I rented. The movie that I am suddenly determined to by god sit and watch all the way through. Think about the movie. And in the back of my mind I suddenly hear Yoda saying, “Control. You must learn control.” Which is from the wrong movie, it’s from Empire, but close enough for a government worker, at least for the moment.

I suddenly realize that she’s still standing over me, her breasts swaying about two inches from my face, not so much concealed as enhanced by the thin green gauze of her negligee, and that her hand is still gently stroking my forehead. “I’m fine, Scully,” I say, and I tear my eyes away from her breasts and look up at her face again, trying desperately to think about Yoda. “I’m fine.”

“You sure?” she asks, giving my forehead one more stroke for good measure.. “You feel like you might have a fever. I hope you’re not coming down with something.”

I have to replay that statement in my head twice to confirm that she said “coming down” rather than “going down”, and the glint in her eye tells me that she knows just exactly what I’m thinking about.

Two can play at that game, Agent Scully. “No,” I say. “No, I’m fine. This morning I thought I might have felt something coming on. But it went away and I’m fine now.”

She raises an eyebrow at me and gives me a sultry little smile which I think Eve must have first perfected just outside the Garden of Eden, and which has been passed down from mother to daughter ever since. Then she turns away again and heads for the kitchen. “I’ll just be a minute,” she says. “I want to make some popcorn.”

The popcorn break gives me a few minutes to collect myself, which is a good thing, I think, since it means the preliminaries are likely to last longer. I am now certain I know how this evening is going to end, and the longer it takes us to get there, the better that ending will be. Oh, Dana Scully, you wicked, wicked woman. I am so glad you fell in love with me, and one of these days I am going to have to find some suitable way to pay you back for what you’re doing to me tonight. Your birthday is coming up —

Suddenly she is back in front of me with a bowl of popcorn and a couple of bottles of iced tea in her hands. She sets the iced teas down on the end table next to me, then she gives me that little smile again, and she leans over farther than necessary, giving me another closeup of her breasts as she sets the bowl of popcorn down in my lap. Of course, the hand holding the bowl lightly brushes my hard-on, but I knew that was coming, and so my hips hardly jerk at all when she does it. Good thing, too; I’d hate to see that popcorn spill all over the floor.

Now Scully turns away again, and sways over to the TV. That’s right: sways. This is Special Agent Dana Scully of the sensible business suits and sturdy, almost masculine stride, swaying across the room, her hips moving to that secret rhythm that only women can hear, and god help me if there’s a fire or something, because I don’t think it’s possible for me to get up and stumble to safety.

Scully finally makes it to the TV, and she takes the videotape from its case and bends over, again farther than is strictly necessary other than for esthetic reasons, and she tries to slide the tape into the slot. I suppose it comes as no surprise at this point that she has a little trouble getting it in, so to speak, but she finally manages, giving a barely audible sigh of contentment as the cassette slips into place. Then she switches on the TV and turns to face me.

I think at this point the floor show is over, but Scully is always full of surprises, and now is no exception. She arches her eyebrow at me ever so slightly, then moves away from the TV and over to her desk and turns on the floor lamp standing next to it. She says over her shoulder, “I’ll be with you in just a second, Mulder; I just want to adjust the lighting a little bit.” And she fiddles with the lampshade for a moment before once again turning to face me.


This is the sort of image I think the Communications Decency Act was written to combat. Scully has angled the lampshade so that the light is shining right at me, and her very own self is standing directly between that light and me, so that her body is silhouetted within her green negligee. And now I am completely and utterly certain that there is nothing underneath that negligee other than Dana Katherine Scully.


She stands there for just a moment, giving the vision she has presented me ample opportunity to burn itself into my brain, then she walks back over to the sofa and finally sits down next to me. I look down at her as she snuggles up against my side, and she looks right back up at me, giving me that enigmatic Dr. Scully look she does so well. The enigmatic Dr. Scully in a lime green negligee, her warm little body squirming against mine and her soft little hand coming to rest on the inside of my thigh, just above the knee. Max Fenig, you have no idea.

Only one thing to do. I quickly look away, grab the remote control and push play. As the opening fanfare starts I settle back into the sofa, and try to concentrate on the screen. And for a few minutes it actually works.

I really love this movie. I remember being a little wary of it when it first came out. I remember thinking it was probably another one of those silly-ass space operas with bad dialogue, bad special effects, bad everything — an embarrassment even to science fiction geeks like myself. Boy was I wrong.

I was fifteen that summer, just the right age to be nuzzling a thirteen year old girl in the balcony during movies, now that I come to think about it, but I wasn’t into the dating scene as a teenager — or, to be more accurate, the dating scene wasn’t into me. Samantha had been gone a little over three years by that point, and I was just sleepwalking through my life, and looking back I can see that the girls all sensed that and kept their distance. At the time I just thought it was my nose or my acne or something, and I got real well acquainted with my right hand and my father’s collection of Playboys.

Speaking of right hands, Scully’s right hand is now inching its way up the inside of my thigh, real casually, like she’s not even aware she’s doing it. Yeah, right. I take a deep breath and try to concentrate on the image on the TV screen.

Darth Vader steps through the smoking doorway, flanked by storm troopers. Vader is a real baddy in this movie, a villain’s villain. Later on, in Return of the Jedi, he seemed to have a change of heart, but I never really believed it. I was just getting over Phoebe that summer, and a villain with a heart of gold just didn’t strike me as being very likely at the time. It still doesn’t.

Scully’s been awfully quiet for the last few minutes. I take a quick look at her, and she seems to be totally engrossed in the movie, and I take just a moment to admire the creamy white skin of her shoulders and upper chest, not to mention the shadowy swelling of her breasts under the green of her negligee. God, her breasts are so beautiful; they’re the most beautiful breasts I’ve ever seen. They really ought to be in a museum, but then they’d be stuck up on a wall behind a velvet rope where I wouldn’t be able to touch them, or flick my tongue across those hard, tight little nipples —

Stop it, Mulder. You’re going to make yourself crazy. Crazier. I turn my gaze back to the movie, and watch as Darth Vader chokes the life out of a rebel officer. God this is a good movie.

Suddenly Scully’s hand is gone from my thigh. I look down in surprise; I’d almost gotten used to having it there, insofar as it’s possible for me to get used to having her hand resting about two inches from my cock. But now her hand is delving into the popcorn bowl, and her eyes are still fixed on the TV screen. Focused. Scully is totally focused. She wants me to think she’s focused on the movie, but I know her too well to fall for that. This is part of the plan, and if I just wait a minute I’ll figure out —

Oh sweet Jesus. She’s picked up a single kernel of popcorn and brought it to her lips, and now she’s sucking on it. She’s actually sucking on a piece of popcorn, licking the butter off with her dainty little tongue, and if she doesn’t stop soon I’m going to rip a seam in the pants I’m wearing. They’re denim, and double stitched, but everything has its limits.

Finally she pushes the morsel the rest of the way into her mouth, and I give a little sigh of relief, but it’s short lived because before I can even catch my breath she’s reaching for another one, and giving it the same treatment. Then a third, and a fourth. I am totally mesmerized, and she knows it, I can see it in the flicker of her eyelashes as she continues to give every appearance of watching the movie. Jesus. Who would have thought that eating popcorn could be so fucking erotic? And as she delicately pushes the fifth piece into her mouth, I lose it, just a little, and moan.

Instantly she is on her knees, turned towards me and looking into my eyes.. One of her hands is resting on my shoulder, and the other is trailing delicately across my thigh again. “Mulder?” she says. “Mulder, are you okay?”

“Y-yeah,” I manage to get out. “I’m fine, Scully. Just fine. Why….uh, why do you ask?”

“I though I heard you moan,” she says, compassion and concern oozing around her voice. She takes her hand from my thigh and again presses it against my forehead. Okay, so it’s this again. We’ve been through this once already, and I think I can handle it.

“Mulder,” she says. “You feel really, really hot. I’m worried about you..” She pauses for just a moment, giving my fevered brain an opportunity to contemplate the possibilities. “I think I’d better check you for swollen glands.” And while I’m still processing that statement she leans slightly against me and with both hands she starts fondling — that’s the only word for it — my jawline.

I never knew my jaw was an erogenous zone. I guess you learn something new everyday. Her fingers are soft and delicate as she probes at me, and everywhere she touches me she leaves a trail of fire. She is good at this; she is really, really good. I can’t believe that idiot Willis let her get away from him, but I thank god that he did. Her fingers continue to trail across my jaw and down my neck, carefully prodding and squeezing, ostensibly looking for signs of the infection she knows I don’t have. I only have one swollen body part at the moment, and it’s not on my face or in my neck, thank you very much.

It was a bad idea to think about that, though, because now I feel even more blood pouring into my cock. My god, it must be huge this evening. I mean, I’ve never been too concerned about size, it always struck me as a silly thing to worry about, but right this minute I feel like I must have a telephone pole in my jeans. It’s so tight in there it’s actually starting to hurt a little. Sweet torture.

Again, she must be reading my mind, because suddenly she’s going for my belt buckle. “Mulder,” she murmurs, “I think the swelling must be down here. Let me take a look.”

And on the TV Obi-Wan is saying to Luke, “Your father wanted you to have this when you were old enough, but your uncle wouldn’t allow it.” Which is just too fucking perfect a fit for what I’m feeling at this moment, as Scully’s soft, warm hand plunges into my pants and burrows beneath the waistband of my boxers.

Naturally, she doesn’t touch my cock. Oh, no; not Scully. She’s far too subtle for that. Instead she starts probing at my groin, touching me here and there, and never quite landing on any of the spots I really want her to land on. My hips jerk a couple of times, and I bite my lip, hard. I am NOT going to moan again. I just am not going to do it.

I’ve got to do something about this. Distraction. I need a distraction. I focus my attention back on the TV screen, just in time to hear C-3PO say, “Sir, if you’ll not be needing me I’ll close down for awhile.”

Close down. Good idea, 3PO. Close down. Just close down, try not to think about it, just watch the movie and try to ignore the next-to-naked woman kneeling next to me on the sofa with her hand down my shorts. I close my eyes and try to distance myself from this a little.

Of course she doesn’t let me get away with it. Almost as soon as I close my eyes, she leans further forward and starts whispering in my ear. “A thorough examination like this is very important, Mulder,” she breathes. “Your lymph nodes are the first line of defense your body has against infection. It’s where the antibodies gather to fight off germs and things.” She probes a couple more places, and I can feel her breath, hot and moist against my ear. Finally she says, “But I don’t seem to be finding anything. Maybe just a little bit of swelling, but nothing serious. I’m sure it will go down in awhile.” And she gives my cock one quick squeeze and pulls her hand out and reaches for my zipper.

“Uhnn…Scully.” I’m pretty proud of myself. That started as a groan — not a moan, but a full-fledged groan — but I managed to get it under control and turn it into her name. She stops what shhe’s doing and looks up at me questioningly. “D-don’t,” I say. “Don’t zip it up.” Now she arches her eyebrow at me, and I hasten to explain, “I think you’re right; there is a bit of swelling down there.” Breathe, Mulder. Breathe. “And it’ll be more comfortable if I stay unzipped. Okay?” I desperately reach for something to prove, at least to myself, that I still have a little bit of cool left. “I mean, if it won’t embarrass you or anything.”

The expression on her face is very serious, her very best Dr. Scully look, and she says, “No, of course it won’t embarrass me, Mulder. I AM a doctor, you know.” And she settles back down next to me and turns to watch the movie again, and of course her hand lands right back on my thigh. I can take that, though. It’s almost like an old friend at this point.

A few minutes go by and we sit next to each other watching the movie. Somehow my arm got around her shoulders, which is pretty much okay, although it is rather eerily like being at the movies with a thirteen year old girl — assuming, of course, that you could find a thirteen year old girl who would go to the movies wearing a translucent negligeee and then stick her hand down your pants on the pretext that you might have an infection..

As I gradually get my breathing back under control I notice that I have Scully’s bare shoulder resting under my hand, with only the spaghetti strap of the negligee to serve as a hindrance. And so I decide to let MY fingers do some walking for a little while, and I start touching and caressing and tickling her shoulder, letting my fingers just enjoy the contact with her smooth, soft skin.

I think I’m getting to her, just a little, because she sighs softly and moves a little closer to me on the sofa. This is nice. This is really, really nice. I’m sitting on the sofa, my arm around Scully, and she’s cuddled up against me and we’re watching one of my all- time favorite movies together, and as soon as it’s over we’re going to go to her bedroom and make love. I feel myself start to relax, and our bodies start to meld together, and I think that if someone else were standing there looking at us he wouldn’t be able to tell where one of us stopped and the other one started.

My fingers go to work on her neck and she leans her head down on my shoulder, giving me better access. At some point in the last few minutes I stopped watching the TV and started watching Scully, and now she’s got her eyes closed and on her face is a look of pure bliss. She’s happy, and it warms me all the way down, and I do mean ALL the way down, to know that I can make her feel this good. None of the other women I’ve been with have EVER been this happy and content just to be with me, just to have me holding them and touching them. In a way, the expression on her face at this moment almost does more for me than having her writhing underneath me in the throws of orgasm.


I should have realized it was a trap.

“Iced tea,” she murmurs.

I jump a little bit. It’s not that I’m surprised that she said something, it’s just that I was expecting something more along the lines of “I love you” or some such, or maybe even, “Let’s ditch this movie and hump like bunnies”. Still, if it’s iced tea she wants, it’s iced tea she gets. If Scully wants Monica Lewinsky’s garter belt (and don’t even ASK where that thought came from) I’m there for her.

So I reach over to the end table and grab one of the bottles and hand it to her. She twists the cap off and hands it back to me, then sits there looking at the bottle in her hand and frowning.

After a few seconds of this I clear my throat. “Uh…Scully?” She looks up at me, still frowning, looking for all the world like a little kid who just got handed a piece of birthday cake without any frosting on it. “Scully,” I say again, “is there something wrong?”

“No straw,” she says.

No straw? What the hell? I turn and look, and my eyebrows shoot up as, sure enough, I see a straw sitting on the end table next to the other bottle of iced tea. A straw. Oh Jesus. I think I can already see where we’re heading with this, and no fucking way am I going to miss THIS part of the show. I grab the straw and turn and hand it to her with a flourish, and she gives me yet another of those thousand watt smiles. If the power company is having problems with brownouts tonight, I think I know what’s causing it.

She tears the end off the straw’s paper wrapper — with her teeth, of course — and then proceeds to S-L-O-W-L-Y slide the wrapper down and off the straw. She then wads the paper up and I automatically reach out and take it from her. She looks up at me and, I swear to god, she SIMPERS at me. “Oh, Mulder,” she says. “You’re so very thoughtful.” And she stretches up and gives me a gentle kiss on the cheek. “If there’s anything I can do for YOU — anything at all — you know that all you have to do is ask.” And then she turns her attention back to her iced tea, sliding the straw down into the bottle.

Jesus. I think I said that already, but just in case I didn’t, I want to go on record: Jesus.

And now the main event. Scully raises the bottle and lowers her head, and she delicately wraps her lips around that fucking straw and lets it slide slowly into her mouth, and suddenly I’m having a vivid flashback to something that happened in her bedroom this morning just before the snooze alarm went off for the second time.

My cock is throbbing now. I mean, I’ve read about throbbing cocks before, in places like the Penthouse letters column, but I have never had the — pleasure, I guess is the word — of actually experiencing it. But it is definitely throbbing; I’m sure you could take my ppulse just by looking at it. I gotta find a distraction, and quick, so I look up at the TV screen again….

…..just as the Millennium Falcon makes the jump into hyperspace.

Now let me explain something. By modern standards that special effects shot is nothing to write home about. In fact, it’s almost boring, even if they DID juice it up a bit for the Special Edition. But right this minute I’m sitting here staring at it with a huge hard-on, with Scully sitting next to me slurping noisily at her drink, and I’m remembering the almost orgasmic thrill that I felt the first time I saw that shot.

It almost makes me wonder if George Lucas ever bagged Scully, because that’s the only way he could have so perfectly captured what it feels like to be deep inside her at the climactic moment. But that can’t be — she was only thirteen at the time, and her father would have keelhauled Lucas if he’d tried it, and I’m fairly sure that woould have got in the papers if it had happened.

It must be an X-File.

I’ve gotta get my mind off of this, so I try looking back at Scully, but that’s just as dangerous, because at the moment she is running her tongue up and down the straw, lapping up some imaginary drips which she wants me to believe escaped from the tip of the straw while she was drinking.

I’m just sitting here, staring at her, unable to take my eyes off this little drama, and suddenly she stops ministering to the straw and looks up at me and raises her eyebrows. She holds the bottle up slightly, and says, “Do you want some, Mulder? If you’ve got a fever it’s important that you maintain proper hydration.”

I could point out that I’ve got my own bottle of iced tea sitting on the end table, not even open yet, but that would be cheating. Instead, I just nod my head, since I’m not entirely sure what would come out of my mouth if I were to open it at this moment.

Instead of offering the bottle up to me — why did I even think that was what was going to happen? — she bends her head once again and takes the straw between those perfect blowjob lips and sips for a moment. Then she lifts her head again and stretches her neck up and up and up, and kisses me full on the mouth. My lips automatically come open, and she proceeds to swish iced tea and her own saliva into my mouth.

I don’t think I can even begin to find the words to describe what this act does to me. Words just don’t exist for this. Somehow I manage to avoid inhaling any of the liquid she’s just given me, and I swallow it all down, and as soon as I do she breaks contact and settles back down next to me, her eyes still focused on mine. “Do you need any more?” she asks.

I shake my head and turn back to look at the movie again, and Obi-Wan says to Luke, “Remember; a Jedi can feel the Force flowing through him.”

So that’s what this feeling is.

Now we settle down and start watching the movie again. Scully finishes her iced tea and hands the bottle back to me for disposition. And for maybe half an hour or a little more we actually sit and watch the movie. The Millennium Falcon is captured; Han and Luke rescue the Princess; Obi-Wan Kenobi confronts Darth Vader and lets himself get killed…it’s all there and it’s just as totally cool as it was the first time I saw it.

Scully is pretty well-behaved, too, which of course only makes me suspicious. She’s just cuddled there next to me, her eyes fixed on the screen, and she doesn’t really try anything, other than the stroking of my thigh, the quiet little noises of pleasure which she usually only makes in bed, and the like. She’s even given up on the popcorn. All of which just makes me wary, of course, as I remember what happened to me the LAST time I thought she was settling down. Fool me once, shame on you….

Now the Millennium Falcon is approaching the Rebels’ hidden base, and suddenly it hits me: I don’t remember where it is, exactly, but somewhere around here is the final reel change — the place where, when they showed this movie in the theaters, they started in on the last reel of film. And that means thaat somewhere right about HERE is where Pimpleface made his move on thirteen-year-old Scully. Maybe right here….

And Scully is on her knees again and whispering in my ear. “That’s right, Mulder,” she says, once again displaying her talent for telepathy. “This is the place. This is where Jimmy started.” She slips one arm around my shoulders. “He had his arm around me, like this,” she says, her lips maybe half an inch from my ear. “He’d had it there for quite a while…ever since Alderaan was destroyed. And I liked it, Mulder. I really, really liked it. I’d never done anything with a boy, never even been kissed, but I liked having his arm around me like that.”

Oh Jesus. She’s telling me that this necking session she’s been teasing me with was her first experience with…with anything. And oh my god, what an effect that knowledge is having on my poor, misunderstood cock, not to mention the rest of my anatomy. I really don’t know how much more of this I can take….

But Scully is still whispering in my ear. “Mulder,” she breathes. “I don’t remember whether I told you this…but you know that I was thirteen when this movie came out. Well, Jimmy was a little bit older….I felt so grown up, being taken to a movie by an older guy. I felt so sexy. Do you know how old he was, Mulder? Do you?”

I close my eyes. This is gonna be bad; I just know it. I shake my head slightly.

“He was fifteen, Mulder. Fifteen years old. Just two years older than I was.”

Sweet suffering Jesus. She’s telling me that this kid was MY AGE…that at the very moment when I was seeing this movie for the first time — maybe just EXACTLY at that moment — another fifteen year old boy whom I have never met was….oh my god.

Once again I can feel her warm, moist breath against my ear and neck. “It felt really good, Mulder,” she continues. “I liked having his arm around me.” Yeah, Scully, I think you already mentioned that. Arm around you. Felt good. We understand that. “And then he started touching me,” she says, and she lays her free hand gently on my abdomen. “Right here.” And she moves her hand around in small, slow circles. “Like this. And I was a little nervous about it — I think I mentioned that I’d never done anything with a boy before — but it felt so-o-o-o good, and I couldn’t bear the iddea of asking him to stop.”

My breathing is getting pretty harsh and uneven, and so I think it’s time to try to regain control and I focus my attention on the TV again. The Rebel commander is just starting his briefing for the fighter pilots, and he says, “The approach will not be easy. You’re required to maneuver straight down this stretch and skim the surface to this point.”

And Scully’s hand is slipping under my shirt and sliding up my belly to my chest, and she’s saying, “And then he put his hand under my blouse, like this. Mmmm….” She lets her voice trail off for a moment, and her fingers play with my chest hairs. She shifts her weight a little, pressing her breasts more firmly against my body, and whispers, “You know what he did then?” I believe I can pretty well imagine what he did then, but I think she’s about to tell me anyway. “He did this.” And her fingers drift over to one of my nipples and she gives it a gentle squeeze, and by god I’ve done the best I can, but there’s a limit to my stoic reserve. I groan in pleasure.

“That’s right, Mulder,” she says, very softly, and one of her lips just barely grazes my earlobe. “He touched my breast.” And just to make sure I understood what she meant, she gives my nipple another squeeze. “Like this.”

I am pleased to notice that her breathing is getting a little ragged, too.. I take that as a sign that this game may be over soon, and we can get down to some serious fucking. There’s a really strange feeling drifting over me, enveloping me, and at first I can’t quite figure out what it is, but then it hits me: I’m having fun.

Fun. Me, Fox Mulder, having fun.

I mean, fun isn’t something I have a lot of experience with. I told Scully last week while we were in Iowa that I don’t do happy very well, and that’s true enough, but the fact of the matter is that I don’t do fun at all. Or didn’t. But this…this is fun. It’s joyful. Scully and I are playing, and I’m loving every minute of it. I shake my head in wonder.

I want to report this new discovery to Scully, I want to tell her all about this “fun” thing I’ve just discovered, and I turn my head and open my mouth, but before I can get any words out she says, “And then you know what happened, Mulder? He kissed me. Right here.” And she leans into me and presses a delicate kiss on my neck, just under my ear, sending a spasm of urgent signals racing through my body. “Andhere.” She moves her mouth a short distances and plants another kiss, this time on my cheek, and I feel her tongue delicately tracing the outline of my cheekbone. “And here.” Next my jaw.

And she pauses for just a moment and looks into my eyes, which is only fair because I’m also looking into her eyes, and I see more open, naked lust in that gaze than I have ever seen anywhere in my entire life. And finally, at long last, she presses her lips against mine, and murmurs, “And here.”

This kiss…I don’t even know where to begin describing it. I have had intercourse that was less intimate and less arousing than this kiss is. Her tongue seems to be everywhere, probing, licking, exploring, and mine is too, and she’s making these small, urgent noises, and her hands are gliding over my chest and shoulders and her body is squirming and wiggling and rubbing against me. It’s just…it’s just…I give up. There’s no way I can describe this kiss.

One of us must have bumped the remote, because the volume on the TV suddenly increases, and I hear Luke saying, “This is Red Five; I’m going in!”

Yeah, Luke; do it. You’ll be glad you did.

The next thing I know Scully is straddling my lap. Our mouths are still joined, and that magnificent negligee is bunched up around her waist, and she is urgently thrusting her crotch against my boxer-clad erection, and I am just as urgently thrusting up against her, as well. Scully continues to kiss me — I mean, this is one long kiss. But finally we break apart, gasping for air, and Scully looks down into my face as we both try to catch our breaths, and then suddenly she’s reaching down and pushing my pants and boxers down past my knees, finally allowing my cock to spring free.

Funny thing is, as soon as my cock is free of its prison, it seems to want to plunge right back into another tight spot, and my hips move almost instinctively to try to accomplish this. I barely avoid just slipping it into her, but it does rub against her pubic bone, and Scully’s eyes glaze slightly and she gurgles.

That’s right: Dana Scully gurgles.

Condom. I have got to get a condom, and quick. As far as I know the nearest one is in the nightstand by her bed, but I should have realized that my ever-practical partner would be prepared for this eventuality. She bends down and digs her hand into the sofa cushion and a moment later her hand emerges, flourishing a little foil packet triumphantly.

She rips the packet open — and I am pleased and relieved to see that her hands are shaking as she does so — and she slips it into place with one smoooth motion. No more teasing; no more slow seduction. We’re both past that, now, and what we both want and urgently need is to be joined together as quickly as possible. Scully smooths the rubber into place, and looks down at it and — I do not lie — she giggles. And that provokes me to look down and see what’s so funny, and my entire body starts shaking with laughter.

Because right on the tip of that condom is an alien face.

We both lose it. Scully collapses on top of me, and for a couple of minutes both of us are just howling with laughter. Between gasps of joy, Scully manages to stutter out, “I…I h-hadn’t….actually OPENED…one of them yet!” And then she’s off on another round of guffaws and chortles and snorts.

I could get used to this fun thing.

And suddenly I just can’t wait any longer, and I grip Scully’s hips and lift her up slightly, and she realizes what I’m doing and grabs my cock and between us we slide it right up inside of her,and we both groan with pleasure, and Gold Leader says, “Red Leader, this is Gold Leader. We’re starting for the target shaft now!” And Scully and I lose it again, and let me tell you, if you’ve never had the experience of having your cock deep inside a woman who’s shaking uncontrollably with laughter, you’ve been missing something.

Finally we get control of ourselves again, and we both start to thrust, and oh Jesus this is good. It is so, so good. I don’t think I’ve ever felt anything like this in my life. Every nerve ending in my body is totally, completely alive, and I know hers are too, because I can actually FEEL it. It’s as if we’ve somehow become one organism sharing a single nervous system. I mean, I have had sex before; I’ve even had sex with Scully before. But this is something totally new and different.

We continue thrusting, and we pick up the pace, and I can tell that this isn’t going to last very long at all, but that’s totally okay; however long it lasts is however long it lasts. In the background the Rebels are shooting up the Death Star, and there are just enough lines like, “This is Red Five, I’m going in” and “Pull out, Luke; pull out” to keep both of us on the fine edge of hilarity while we fuck. This is just unbelievable.

Scully has got her arms wrapped tightly around my neck, just clinging to me while our hips continue to move in unison, and she’s breathing into my ear again in short, sharp gasps. I feel my orgasm building up inside, I mean I’m really getting close, and I can tell that Scully is, too. I don’t know how long we’ve been going at it, but the anal retentive part of me dredges up the fact that the musical score for the attack on the Death Star is twelve minutes and five seconds long, so I know it’s been less time than that. What I don’t know is why I even care, but somehow it matters, and something inside of me is waiting for…something.

Now Scully is humming. Not humming a tune; just humming, like a well-adjusted car engine. And someone is making short, sharp growling sounds, and after a moment I realize it’s me. And Obi-Wan is saying, “Use the Force, Luke! Let go, Luke!”

I’m working on it, Obi-Wan…I really am. Not much longer….

Scully is just…crazed is the only word for it, and that’s great because I’m not very sane at the moment, myself. We’re both just thrusting and pumping away, building rapidly towards the brink; and then suddenly Scully’s body is cramping and convulsing, and Han Solo is screaming, “Yahoo!” This would cause us to start laughing again, if it were possible at this moment for either one of us to feel anything other than Scully’s orgasm. It seems to go on and on and on, and I can distantly hear Solo shouting, “You’re all clear, kid! Now let’s blow this thing and go home!” and then I explode, too, and for a few seconds I have no awareness of anything, none at all, except for Scully, who seems to be all around me, like a warm, friendly blanket.

And finally I’m spiraling back down to earth, and Scully is collapsing on top of me like a rag doll, and Solo is hollering, “Great shot, kid! That was one in a million!”

Oh, yeah.

We just lie there in each other’s arms for a moment, waiting for our breathing to return to normal. Scully is still lying on top of me, and the heat of her body is seeping into me through the thin material of the negligee that still covers the upper part of her body. God this is nice. This is totally, totally…nice. I don’t think I’ve ever felt this complete before, this satisfied.

An act of Congress wouldn’t be enough to get me to open my eyes right now, let alone lift my head to look at the TV, but from the music that’s playing I know that we’ve come to the final scene, and Luke and Han are getting their medals. In my mind’s eye I can see Princess Leia bending over to put the ribbons around the heroes’ necks, displaying a rather remarkable amount of cleavage as she does so. When I was a teenager I was pretty impressed by that cleavage — I mean, let’s face it, the young Carrie Fisher had a nice pair, as such things go. But they’re nothing compared to Scully”s, who has what is probably the only perfect pair of breasts in the history of womankind. But I digress.

“Mulder?” Scully’s voice is very soft, almost…shy? And that IS enough to get me to lift my head and open my eyes, and her face is just a few inches from mine, and there are these two huge question marks in those big blue eyes of hers. I raise my eyebrows at her, and smile, and she smiles back, just a little uncertainly. “Mulder,” she repeats, and now it’s definite: Dana Scully is feeling shy about something.

“Yeah, Scully?” I say, just as softly and gently as I know how.

Now she drops her eyes, and says, tentatively, “Was that…was that…okay?”

I can feel my own eyes widen. She can’t be serious. Okay? Was that okay? Jesus, Mary and Joseph….

But she’s not kidding. I can tell from her body language and the way she refuses to meet my gaze that she is really, truly uncertain about what just happened. And so I tenderly place my hand under her chin and tilt her head up so that she can see the sincerity in my eyes. “Scully,” I say, still very softly. “That was wonderful. That was the most astounding sexual experience of my entire life.” And it’s true, it’s all true, and I know she knows it’s true, because the tentative, uncertain look is suddenly gone and she’s leaning in against me and hugging me close.

“Oh, good,” she breathes in my ear. “I’ve never done anything like that before, and I wasn’t sure….”

Her voice trails off, but that’s okay, because I think I’m about to go into shock. “Scully?” I say. “Are you telling me that…entire performance you put on for me was, was —” But I can’t find the words to express what I’m trying to say, so I just stop in mid- sentence.

Scully lifts her head again and looks down at me, smiling, and she nods. “Yeah. This was the first time I ever set out to, to seduce someone. I never…never had the confidence to let myself go like that before, to risk making a fool of myself.” She leans forward and kisses me lightly, then continues. “It’s you, Mulder. It’s because I trust you.”

I don’t know what it is about this woman, but she’s had me in tears more times in the past two weeks than I have been in my entire adult life. We just kind of sit there and cling to each other and sniffle together for awhile.

The movie has ended, and now the tape is automatically rewinding itself. The late news is on, but I just tune it right out. Nothing going on in the outside world could possibly matter as much as what’s going on here on Scully’s sofa. And we just sit here together, cuddling, and I rock her back and forth, ever so gently, and I wonder what new thing we’ll discover tomorrow.


Chapter 13: PARTNERS FOREVER. In which the future is addressed, and promises are made.

This chapter is rated PG-13.

Fox Mulder awoke in Dana Scully’s bed to an unaccustomed feeling: Contentment.

For a few moments he just lay there enjoying it. It wasn’t often that he had an opportunity like this, simply to lie in bed, nowhere he had to go, nothing he had to do, wallowing in his own happiness.

<<Correction,>> he thought sleepily. <<Wallowing in OUR own happiness. Mine and Scully’s.>>

At the thought of his partner he rolled over in bed, and was mildly disappointed to see that she wasn’t there. A glance at the clock told him why: It was nearly eleven in the morning, and she had probably been up for hours.

He closed his eyes, and for just a moment longer he continued to lie there, enjoying the warmth of the bed and the lingering trace of Scully’s scent that still clung to the bedclothes. He noticed with pleased amusement that even that faint trace of her was causing his usual morning erection to grow more intense, and he wondered idly how much money he could make if he could bottle that scent. The Viagra people would be out of business in a matter of weeks; of that he was sure.

He threw back the covers and rolled out of bed. For just a moment he stood before Scully’s full-length mirror and considered his erection. “Pretty impressive for a guy of 37,” he commented, then smiled ruefully and shook his head.

She had really cast a spell over him; of that there was no longer any doubt. When he’d started this whole thing on Christmas Eve, he hadn’t dared dream that it would turn out to be this good. Nothing in his prior experience with relationships and women had prepared him for the intensity of his feelings for this woman. He thought briefly of Phoebe and Diana, and shook his head again, still smiling. Nope. Neither of them held a candle to Dana Scully.

God he felt good.

Time to do something practical about this erection. To his delight and surprise, Scully had turned out to be as enthusiastic about morning sex as he was. She was the first woman he’d been with who really seemed to enjoy making love first thing in the morning. His smiled broadened as he remembered the way she’d woke him up on New Year’s Day, and his penis swelled just a little bit larger.

Definitely time to go find Scully.

Two minutes later he was standing in her kitchen, frowning and looking at the note he’d found resting on the counter. “M — I have to go out for awhile. I’ll be back as soon as I can. Love you. S” And then the P.S., in which she demonstrated yyet again her uncanny ability to see right down into his heart: “Please don’t worry; it’s nothing serious, but I need to be by myself and think about something for a bit. I really will be back soon, and I really do love you.” And the word “love” was underlined three times.

The frown on his face turned to a slightly wistful smile. She did love him; of that he had no doubt. But it was very touching that she had added the postscript, and so quintessentially Scully that the addendum was actually longer than the body of the message. He hoped whatever it was that she was trying to work out wouldn’t take her too long; he missed her already.

He sighed, and laid the note back on the counter and went back down the hall to take a shower and get dressed.


An hour later she still hadn’t returned. Mulder prowled restlessly through the apartment, trying unsuccessfully to find something to occupy his mind. He’d already finished up the few dishes left over from dinner the night before, and put away a couple of books that had been left laying out in the living room. The TV hadn’t been able to hold his interest, and neither had any of her books or magazines, and so now he just paced through the empty rooms, and on every third circuit he stopped to reread the note she had left him. Especially the postscript.

He reentered the living room and for the dozenth time he stood staring at the telephone, willing it to ring, but it obstinately remained silent. He wondered if he should try to call her. He’d discovered early in his pacing that she had apparently taken her cell phone with her, giving him implicit permission to call her if he really needed to. He hesitated, his hand hovering over the receiver, then shook his head. He knew intuitively that she’d taken the phone with her because she trusted him not to disturb her unless he got to the point where he couldn’t bear it any longer, and he just wasn’t there yet.

But he could see it from here.

At that moment he heard her key in the lock, and he turned to face the door just as it swung open, and in another instant he was at the threshold and taking her in his arms. He felt her stiffen in surprise for the barest second, but then she relaxed and her arms went around his waist, and for a pair of minutes they just stood there in the doorway, holding each other, neither of them saying anything at all.

After a timeless interval Mulder pulled back, just a little, and looked down at her face. She had obviously been crying, but he could see that she was better now. Not perfect, not happy, but better. He bent his head and gently kissed her on the mouth, an accepting, welcome back sort of kiss, and murmured, “Thank you for the note. It helped a lot.” He hesitated, then added, “Do you want to talk about it?”

She nodded slightly. “Yes. But can you just hold me for a few minutes, first?”

He smiled down at her. “I think I can manage that.” And he led her into the apartment and shut and locked the door, then took her over to the sofa and sat down, pulling her down onto his lap and cradling her in his arms.

For awhile they just sat there, cuddled together, rocking gently back and forth as Mulder tried to put his mind on hold. He wanted to focus all of his attention on the woman in his arms; he wanted to project nothing but faith and acceptance. But try as he might, a few of his own self-doubts and insecurities kept creeping in. He wanted to know what it was that had upset her so much, and he wanted to know it now. Whatever it was, he was confident that by working together they could fix it, but until she told him —

“Mulder, it’s okay.” Her voice was very soft, and slightly muffled against his chest.

Mulder shook his head; he couldn’t help but smile, even though he knew she couldn’t see his face. “Mindreading again, Agent Scully?”

That actually brought a chuckle from Scully, and then she lifted her head and looked up at him, reaching up with one hand to gently caress his cheek, a very slight smile on her face. “Only with you, Mulder. I would never practice telepathy with anyone but you.”

“I’m glad I can count on your fidelity,” he said softly, returning her touch.

“Always.” And she tangled her fingers into his hair, pulled his head down and kissed him, briefly but thoroughly, before finally laying her head down on his shoulder. Mulder simply waited, holding her, caressing her, being with her. Knowing that she would tell him when she was ready.

At last she said, “I’m sorry, Mulder. I shouldn’t have shut you out. I should have come to you; I should have woke you up. But old habits die hard.”

“That’s okay, Scully,” he said. “It really is okay. I was worried, but your note helped me more than I can say.”

“I’m glad.” Another moment of silence. Finally: “I started my period this morning.”

Mulder tightened his arms around her and thought about that for a moment. He didn’t think he was ready to be a father, and a large part of him was relieved at this news. But she pretty obviously felt otherwise. “I’m sorry, Scully,” he said at last. “I know we haven’t talked about it since New Year’s Eve. But I’m sorry things didn’t turn out the way you wanted.”

Scully lifted her head off his shoulder and studied his face for a minute.. Finally she shook her head. “No, Mulder. No, that’s not it. I didn’t want to be pregnant.” She paused for just a moment, and a hint of sadness flickered in her eyes and was gone again. “I just wanted to know that I could be pregnant.”

Mulder nodded slowly. “And for awhile you thought maybe you might be, and now you know you’re not, and so you’re back to not knowing again.” He pulled her closer, and rubbed his cheek against hers before pulling back to look into her eyes again. “But it’s okay, Scully. It’ll be okay. Not knowing whether you can conceive is better than knowing that you can’t, isn’t it?”

She nodded. “Mostly. It was just…a disappointment. And I was all tangled up inside, because I really DIDN’T want to be pregnant, and on that level it was a big relief. And so I got kind of confused.” She took a deep breath. “And on top of it all, the holidays are over, and tomorrow we have to go back to work for real, and we have to break the news to Skinner, and we have to start leading something resembling normal lives again.. It’s kind of like Christmas vacation is over, and now we have to go back to school and study again.” She hesitated, then went on, “And…and I’ve been a little bit afraid, too.”

“Afraid of what, Scully?”

She dropped her eyes. “Afraid that we’re going to wake up in the morning and the spell will be broken and everything will go back to the way it was before.” She shrugged. “I know it doesn’t make any sense, but —”

He touched her lips with a finger to silence her. “Shh. It’s okay, Scully. I’ve been a little afraid of that, too, but it’s not going to happen..” He took her hand. “This is real, Scully. This is us; you and me. This is forever.”

She glanced back up at him, looking just a little uneasy. “Forever is a long time, Mulder.”

“Not nearly long enough,” he replied, and suddenly he felt things bubbling up inside him that he’d never felt before, and the words came spilling out. “I want you, Scully, and I’m pretty damned selfish about it. I want you now, today, and I want you tomorrow, and the day after that and the day after that. I want you for the rest of both our lives, and if there’s anything after that, I what you then, too. I mean it, Scully. Forever.”

She was quiet for a minute, but for once in his life Mulder felt no doubt or uncertainty. He was almost certain he knew what her reply would be, but no matter what she said, he had just spoken the truth, and he could not regret that.

“Mulder,” she said at last, very softly, “was that a proposal?”

He thought about it for the barest fraction of a second, and then replied, “It was if you want it to be. Is that what you want, Scully? Marriage?”

This time the silence was even longer. Finally, she shook her head. “No.. No, I don’t think so. Do you?”

He smiled at her, and suddenly realized how tense he’d been while waiting for her answer to his question. “No,” he said. “I don’t need a piece of paper to tell me that I love you.” He hesitated. Then: “Are you sure, Scully? Because I told you before: I’ll do anything for you. Anything. And that includes marriage, if that’s what you want.”

Again she seemed to think about it. “I don’t know,” she said at last. “I suppose every little girl dreams about getting married. And I guess I had always assumed that I would get married someday, settle down, have a family. Most people do.” She paused for another moment, then went on. “But we’re not most people, are we.”

It wasn’t quite a question, but Mulder answered it anyway. “No, we’re not.”

She nodded. “Nevertheless, I do want a family. I want children, if I — if we can have them.”

“I want that, too,” he replied. “But that doesn’t require a marriage license.”

“No. It doesn’t.” She fell quiet again for a pair of minutes. “I think it would make my mother happy if we got married.” Her lips quirked slightly. “But it would make Bill miserable.”

Mulder chuckled. “Scully, I’m not interested in your mother or in Bill. I’m interested in you. I want to give you what you want, what you need. And damn the torpedoes, and all that.”

She laughed with him, and leaned into him and kissed him. “You and Admiral Farragut.” She looked fondly into his eyes for a moment, and stroked his cheek softly. “Mulder, I can’t tell you with absolute certainty what I might want in the future, but for now, at least, I don’t need to marry you.” Then her expression changed slightly, and she bit her lip and looked at him uncertainly. “But there is one thing I would like.”

“What’s that, Scully?”

“A ceremony.”

Mulder felt his eyebrows rising. “A ceremony?”

Scully nodded, still looking a little uneasy, and for a moment she searched his face. “Yes. It doesn’t have to be fancy, and there don’t have to be a lot of people or anything. Maybe there could even just be you and me. And it certainly doesn’t have to be religious. Whatever makes us both comfortable. But I’d like some sort of…symbol. A ritual. Something meaningful. Is that okay?”

Mulder smiled. “Sure.” He gently eased her off his lap and onto her feet, then rose to his own feet and took her hand. “Let’s do it.”

He tugged gently on her hand, but she didn’t move. “Let’s do what?” she asked.

“Let’s have a ceremony.”

Scully raised her eyebrows. “You mean right now?”

“Right now.” He tugged on her hand again, and this time she followed him as he led her over to the shelf where she kept a small collection of framed pictures. “And see? We can even have your family here.” He studied the photographs for a moment, then picked up the one of her older brother. “You think Bill would want to be here for this?”

He heard her chuckle. “Yes. Bill would want to be here. He really does love me, Mulder; he just doesn’t always express it very well.”

He glanced over his shoulder at her and nodded, then turned back to the shelf and put Bill’s picture down next to the one of Captain and Mrs. Scully. “We’ll just put him over here next to your mother. That way she can sit on him if he causes too much trouble.” He heard Scully chuckle again as she stepped up to stand next to him.

He looked at the collection for another minute, then reached out and gently touched the one of Melissa. “I’m glad she could be here,” he said, his voice very soft. “Did I ever tell you she saved my life once?” He glanced at Scully again, and she shook her head. “She did. It was while you were in the coma, after they gave you back to me — to us. I was…well, the details don’t matter. But Melissa showed up at just the right moment, and kicked my ass and perssuaded me that you still needed me. I’ve always been grateful to her for that, but I never got to tell her.”

Scully slipped her arms around his waist and hugged him briefly but fiercely. “I’m sure she knows, Mulder.”

“I hope so.” He turned his gaze to the picture of her parents. “I wish I’d had a chance to meet your father. I don’t know if he would have approved of me, but I wish I’d had a chance to meet him. He’s been so important in your life.” He glanced at her, and she nodded wordlessly. Finally he turned to the photograph of her younger brother, and smiled. “And Charlie….” His voice trailed off and he shook his head. “I have no idea what to say about Charlie. He’s unique.”

Scully chuckled again. “He certainly is that.”

Mulder turned to face her. “So. You ready?”

She shook her head. “There’s one person still missing. Samantha.”

Mulder looked at her for a long minute, then nodded slowly and pulled his wallet from his back pocket and carefully extracted the worn, tattered picture of his sister which he always carried with him. He held it in his hand for a moment, just looking at it, then placed it on the shelf with the others, propped up against the photograph of Melissa. Finally he turned back to Scully, and took each of her hands in one of his.

“Now are you ready?” he asked.

She nodded, a faint smile on her face. “Yes.”

For just a moment longer he stood looking at her, drinking in her beauty and thinking about what he wanted to say. Finally, he cleared his throat and began.

“Dana Katherine Scully. You have been a source of strength and inspiration to me for as long as I can remember. I told you once and I tell you again: You keep me sane. You make me a whole person. If it were not for you, I truly believe that I would not be here today. I would long since have made some stupid, fatal mistake because I would have no one to provide me with the essential balance that I need.”

He took a deep breath and continued. “Scully, will you be my partner? Will you watch my back? Will you warn me when I’m about to do something stupid, and come and bail me out when I ignore your advice and get in trouble anyway? Will you kick my ass when I need it, and tell me what you believe is true and never what you think I want to hear? Will you sleep in my bed and bear our children, and when we’re lost in the forest will you sing to me? And when we’re on a late night stakeout will you always remember to bring me iced tea instead of root beer?”

Mulder stopped speaking, but he continued to look down at her, and for just a moment the air between them seemed to crackle with electricity. And then she smiled and said, “Yes. Yes to all of it.” And after another brief minute of silence, she began to speak.

“Fox William Mulder. You have challenged my beliefs for as long as I can remember. Time and time again you have caused me to reevaluate what I thought I knew, and forced me to consider extreme possibilities. If it were not for you, I would have less wonder in my life, and I would not even know what I was missing. I would be teaching from someone else’s book, because I would have no one to point out to me that some of the answers in the back were wrong.”

Her smile broadened, and now there were tears in her eyes, shining like tiny diamonds. “Mulder, will you be my partner? Will you push me when I get cautious, and when you go chasing after snarks and boojums will you let me go with you? Will you give me space to be strong and self-reliant, and will you help me stand again when I fall? Will you keep presenting me with your outlandish theories, no matter how hard I try to poke holes in them? Will you sleep in my bed and help me raise our children, and when I sing to you will you promise not to laugh? And when a case goes sour on us and I wake up in the hospital, will you be waiting for me with a football video to lift my spirits?”

For just a minute Mulder couldn’t speak because of the sudden lump in his throat. This was it, this was real, no matter how much they’d both tried to cloak it in levity. There was, after all, truth in humor, he reflected. And he swallowed, and said, “Yes. Yes to all of it.” And then the two just stood in silence for a moment, holding hands and looking at each other.

At last, Scully broke the silence. “So now what happens?” she asked.

Mulder shrugged and gave a lopsided grin. “I’m not sure. I didn’t exactly have this planned out in advance. Maybe this is the part where we get to live happily ever after?”

She snorted. “That’ll be the day. Try again.”

“Hmm.” He thought about it a minute, and then it came to him. “Okay, I got it.” Straightening his shoulders slightly and raising his head so as to look more official, he said, “By the powers vested in me as Senior Agent of the X-Files Division, I now pronounce us Mr. and Mrs. Doctor Spooky, Partners for Life.”

For a moment Scully’s shoulders shook with repressed laughter; then she shook her head. “No,” she said. “Not Partners for Life; Partners Forever..”

Mulder nodded. “Good point. Forever it is.” And he took her in his arms and kissed her.

After a timeless interval they had to come up for air. Mulder looked down at the woman in his arms, and gently stroked her hair. “You know,” he said, “that was really cool. I’m glad we did it.”

Scully snorted again. “‘Cool’? Is that anything to say to someone who has just agreed to be your Partner Forever?”

“Sure,” he replied. “After all, if you’ve got ‘cool’ and you’ve got a football video, what more could you possibly want?” He took a deep breath, and then let it out again. God – – he felt so happy. This was the real deal, and it was happening to him, it was happening to them, and damn if he wasn’t gettting a little teary-eyed himself. He cleared his throat and said, “So, Mrs. Doctor Spooky, how would you like to spend our last day of freedom before we get back to the old grind?”

She seemed to consider it for just a moment. Then: “I want to see the dinosaurs.”

Mulder raised an eyebrow at her. “The dinosaurs?”

Scully nodded, and now there was a childlike grin on her face. “The dinosaurs. At the Smithsonian. And I want to walk on the Mall and hold your hand, and I want people to look at us and smile benevolently because they can tell how much we love each other. Think you can handle all that, Agent Mulder?”

Mulder leaned forward and kissed her lightly on the tip of the nose. “Dinosaurs it is,” he said. And the two partners grabbed their coats, and together they went on out to face the future.



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