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As much as she hates to admit it, Mulder is right. The case in Bellefleur, Oragon is pretty juicy – so much so, in fact, that besides professional discussions and stupid bureau jargon, little else has been said. The soulmate conversation is on hold for the time being, and it leaves her frustrated. She’s always been good at acting nonchalant, but every time she feels his fingertips press against the small of her back when he’s guiding her in a room, or watches him lick his lips while he goes over paperwork at his desk, it takes a lot of self-restraint to keep herself composed. She’s sure he knows, too, if the smirk on his face is anything to go by.

But anything beyond the casual touching and the technical conversations that ring like euphemisms in her ears is off the table, apparently. Dana is relieved and disappointed and even slightly afraid that there has been some sort of mistake, that God has misguided her and led her to this moment.

She’s brooding at the desk in her hotel room, staring at her blank computer screen when the door knocks. When she asks who it is, the light, snarky response of ‘Steven Spielberg’ doesn’t surprise her at all, yet she’s smiling as she opens up for him. Mulder’s standing there with the same knowing smirk on his face that’s been there since their first encounter, looking her up and down. Checking her out, she realizes. Her heart skips. She’s wearing her rattiest oversized t-shirt and a baggy pair of boxer shorts that hang down by her knees. She knows she should feel embarrassed, or a little awkward, but she doesn’t. If he really is my soulmate, I’ve got nothing to hide. The thought almost makes her scoff.

When his eyes finally drift back up to hers she tilts her head to one side and raises an eyebrow. She does her best to keep a straight face but she knows it’s a poor attempt. “Yes, Agent Mulder?”

“I was just heading out for a run. You wanna come with?” His voice is low and rough. She would say that it’s almost inviting. One corner of his mouth quirks upwards and his eyebrows twitch as he waits for a response. Never before have the words ‘going for a run’ sounded so enticing, or the proposition of joining one so tempting. Dana Scully bites her lip and pretends to think.

“I’ll have to pass.” She relishes the way his face momentarily falls before he regains his cool exterior. He nods, presses his lips together… And when he meets her eyes again he’s analysing her. She knows these things, just like she knows that he’s got no intentions of going on a run, or that he’s still trying to figure out where her loyalties lie. She gestures toward the computer, which is switched off. “I’ve got tons of work to do, so I should probably…”

“Sure, no problem.” Dana’s a little excited that he sounds slightly put-out. He offers her a final smile and tips his cap. “Call me if you change your mind. I’ll be up all night.”

“Goodnight, Mulder.” She shuts the door and returns to her desk, letting out a low, heavy sigh. She’s still wondering if they’re really soulmates – surely there’s a moment of overwhelming sappiness where the two ‘soul-aligned’ profess their undying love for each other? So far, aside from the promise of dinner, the only thing Mulder had shown towards her was suspicion and a vaguely flirtatious attitude that leaves her stomach in knots. Perhaps joining him on his run wouldn’t have been such a terrible idea after all. When she realises it’s too late and she’s too tired to call him up.

She falls asleep with her computer unused and a shitty nature documentary playing on the television.

 

 

The next day is difficult. When Mulder wakes her up and takes her along to the psychiatric hospital, Dana has no idea what to expect because he doesn’t tell her anything. She’s tired and cranky, and when Mulder finds three marks on Peggy O’Dell’s back she turns on her heel and walks out because it’s just too much.

She hears his footsteps hitting the ground and tries to speed up. It’s futile – with his long legs and her least comfortable heels (she blames Mulder for that, too – ‘time’s of the essence here, Scully – we need to get to the hospital pronto’) she doesn’t stand a chance. When he catches up and touches her arm she has no choice but to stop and turn around, feeling like a child caught red-handed. She shakes his hand off and crosses her arms over her chest. He ducks his head to talk to her, and in spite of the irritation and confusion she fully appreciates his height for the first time.

“Hey, are you alright? I know it’s a bit much, but-“

“Why don’t you just cut the crap and tell me what’s going on, Mulder?” Her words are barely a hiss; she hopes they bite into him, sting him, hurt him. She’s tired of the games and the lies, and she’s sick of dancing around him, too afraid to be honest. In her head she’s screaming at him to talk to her, to stop being so fucking bureau-esque and to just be the boy she couldn’t get out of her head or off her skin when she was younger. But she’s waited long enough for this job and she is not going to blow it all on account of her stubborn, irresponsible partner. “Don’t try to cover it up. You know what’s going on here and you’re shutting me out.

His eyes flash. It’s only brief, but she notices. It’s a look that makes her blood run cold – it makes her wonder if the friendly demeanour is just a ruse. He’s angry- no, he’s furious, and it’s because all because of her. “You tell me,” he says. His voice is quaking, and his lips tremble when he speaks. She wants to cower away but she will not. “You know exactly what’s going on, Scully. You’re one of them.

“One of whom?” On the last word her voice reaches a crescendo. The sound cracks in her throat when she shouts at him; she can feel her hands shaking, she can hear her blood pounding in her ears and chest and temples. “Mulder, I know nothing. You’re keeping me in the dark and I have had enough! Maybe you think I’m just another government lackey, but I’m your partner. For God’s sake, we’re…” She trails off and the words turn to dust in her mouth. A tiny part of her doesn’t even want to mention it, because in that moment she isn’t sure if she wants it to be true. But she thrusts her hand out, shoving it in his face, showing him the skin on the back where a faded memo in his handwriting is just about visible. The same inscription is in the same place on his hand – she knows because she saw him writing it only an hour ago. He looks at it for a long time, then back at her. They’re silent as they watch each other, sizing each other up all over again. Her breath runs unevenly through her nose while she stares at him, thinking of what else she can possibly say or do to make him believe her. When she next speaks, her voice sounds thick and strangled, but she’s quieter. “Mulder, I’m not here to ruin your life. I’m not trying to destroy the X-files. But I can’t write a rational, unbiased account of our findings if you don’t trust me. And if you can’t trust me professionally, at least try to put some faith in me as… Your soulmate.”

Mulder is still and silent for what feels like forever. Dana is contemplating leaving when he begins to nod – it’s such a small movement that at first she doesn’t even notice. “You’re right,” he says. When her eyebrows shoot upwards she thinks he mistakes her shock for contempt. “No, I’m being serious. You’re right… I’m sorry. I’ve been so caught up in this case that I lost track of everything. And I was wrong to assume the worst of you.” He tried for a smile. “But you can’t say it was completely unjustified. I mean, your bosses are assholes.”

She smirks, and when she does a crushing weight is lifted from her shoulders. “No comment.”

“Does this mean I’m forgiven?” His smile is just a tad too cocky for her liking but his eyes are bright and earnest. She rolls her eyes.

“Only if you start telling me the truth from now on,” she says. “And I’ll tell you what I know in return.”

“Of course.”

“Alright then, what is it with those marks?”

He puts an arm around her and pulls her so close that his hair brushes against hers. “You want the truth?” he asks, his voice just barely a whisper. Dana nods slowly, incapable of speech. It’s hard to focus when he’s so close; the tiniest movement could change everything. All she needs to do is tilt her head and inch just a fraction closer and she would be kissing him. It’s an awful idea – tempting, but awful – so when she watches his solemn pout transform into a sheepish smile she’s mostly relieved. “I have no idea.”

When he starts to laugh, she can’t help but join in.

Fox Mulder – her soulmate, of all the people God could have chosen for her – is a spooky moron… And she thinks that she kind of likes it.

 

 

 

They’re heading to the forest where the four kids where found under the pretence that said teenagers were abducted by aliens. Dana lists off the reasons that abduction is off the cards – her primary argument being that aliens don’t exist. Mulder scoffs and counter-argues her perfectly rational explanations with far-fetched theories that could only sound even remotely plausible to the type of people that wear tin-foil hats. Still, they’re laughing and joking and messing around, and for the first time since they met Dana decides that perhaps they’re not so unmatched after all.

She kind of likes that he gets on her nerves. Mulder is incessant and reckless and almost certainly insane, but it’s so much more refreshing to be around someone who doesn’t agree with everything she says for the sake of it. He challenges her, he keeps her on her toes. It’s fun, to say the least.

There’s that, and then there’s the way he runs his hand through his hair when he knows she’s looking. And how he walks around with his shirtsleeves rolled up to his elbows, showing off toned forearms. And the way he looks at her, and how it always catches her off-guard – the analysing stare, or the twinkle-eyed gaze, or the look. The one where he watches her from beneath his stupidly long lashes like he’s waiting for her to say something, do something. The last is her favourite, because he looks so impatient and just a little predatory. It sends shivers through her entire body.

 

 

 

She’s cold and wet and tired, so when they finally return to the hotel she can’t wait to peel off her clothes and jump in the bath. Mulder’s theory of ‘time loss’ – even the thought of it makes her laugh – keeps an excited grin on his face all the way back, and he doesn’t stop babbling about it for the remainder of their journey. Her words of reason fall on deaf ears, but she had seen that coming.

The report is coming along slowly when a deafening roll of thunder breaks the silence. Dana almost jumps out of her skin, and the chair she’s sitting on totters ever so slightly. Then everything goes black. Power cut. Of course. She lets out a heavy sigh and shuts her eyes. It’s not the relaxing evening she had in mind, but at least she can still run herself a bath before she goes to bed. That’s always something.

When she lights a candle, she notices that there are words on her forearm that weren’t there before. She smiles. Hey, did your power go out too?

Yeah, she writes back after fumbling around at her desk for a spare pen. The thunder scared the living daylights out of me.

If you get too scared, you could always come in here and share with me. The offer is light and teasing, but oh so tempting. Her cheeks are warm as she replies:

Wouldn’t that go against several of the rules in the Bureau handbook?

I’ve never cared to look at it. Sounds like a boring read.

She snorts at his response. I’m going to run myself a bath and go to bed. Goodnight, Mulder.

Goodnight Scully. He draws a little flower on the palm of her hand, and her heart just about melts.

The candle flickers occasionally, moving the shadows around the walls, but it gives the bathroom a warm glow that serves as something of a reassurance. Dana’s not afraid to admit that her first case has been a little wild, and the storm raging on outside is doing little to calm her nerves. Though she tells herself it’s irrational to be so afraid of something completely unproven, she still flinches when she hears the thunder and the wind howling outside. It’s creepy. There isn’t anything wrong with admitting to that, she assures herself. She’s in a hotel room alone, in unknown territory, in the middle of a storm, right after walking around a forest where a bunch of kids went missing and died. But that doesn’t mean she has anything to fear. Ghosts aren’t real, and neither are aliens, or any other spooky concoction from Mulder’s head that goes bump in the night.

She nods to herself, finally starting to believe the sensible voice in her head again. Her muscles begin to relax, and her face softens. It feels so good to unwind after a day of stress, stress, stress. She massages her neck as she waits for the bathtub to fill up. Her fingers work away the knots beneath her skin, and she slowly starts to lose focus on the case.

Instead her mind drifts to Mulder, which is just a topic just as stressful, if not worse. He’s playing nice, now. Instead of treating her with distrust and mystery he’s starting to open up and actually talk to her; it’s a great feeling, one that warms her chest and makes her stomach flip. She thinks it’s kind of stupid that she feels this way – she’s almost thirty but she’s acting like a schoolgirl with a crush. Dana wonders if he’s going through the same thing.

The bath is full and she runs her fingers through it. The water burns her skin. Her head falls back and she smiles. Perfect. Her hands and feet are bright pink tinged with blue and tremoring slightly. If anything will heat them up, it will be this. She shrugs off her bathrobe and lets it drop to the floor noiselessly. The one candle placed on the windowsill casts shadows everywhere and she stumbles over the bathmat as she shuffles across the box room. She curses. Her hands fumble with the clasp on her bra and she flings it off, throwing it on top of her robe. As her hands move to the waistband of her underwear she brushes something with her fingertips and freezes.

They run over her skin again, her nails scraping the surface. She finds them a second time. Then a third. Lumps.

Her pulse pounds in her ears. An overwhelming feeling of nausea rises in her chest; she covers her heart with her hand and sits down on the edge of the tub to keep from falling to her knees. She’s shaking, she realizes, and her breaths are rough, shuddering gasps.

Dana’s trembling as she slings her bra back on, not bothering to clip the back because she’s already throwing her robe back on top. Her hands fumble uselessly with the knot and she settles for keeping herself covered by crossing her arms over her chest. A fist clutches the top of the robe, stopping it from exposing her.

Mulder is in the room next to her but by the time he answers the door her hair is plastered to her face and rain is trickling from the nape of her neck down to the small of her back. She’s quaking on the spot, and she’s not even sure if it’s because of the storm or the pure, undiluted panic raging through her entire body.

The cocky smile on his face falters when he gives her a once-over – “Scully, what’s wrong?”

“I need you to look at something.”

The whites of his eyes become more visible in the flickering candlelight. He nods, dumbstruck, his mouth hanging open stupidly. “Uh, yeah. Sure, come on in.” The door opens a fraction wider and she slips in. Before he’s even closed it she has dropped the bathrobe to the floor, her gaze fixed at the ground. She hears his sharp intake of breath behind her and bites the inside of her mouth.

“Scully, I-“

“My back, Mulder. Look at the lumps on my back.” She runs over them again, her stomach lurching when she catches them between her fingers. He tries his best to ignore the fact that she’s here in her underwear, and that her bra is unclasped at the back, and that when he kneels down to investigate she smells earthy, with the underlying scent of her perfume lingering. The candle gives him little in way of light, but he grazes his fingers over her skin and puts the pieces together. Her body trembles under his touch. “What are they?” Her voice is sharp and snappy. He doesn’t blame her.

When he’s sure he smiles but doesn’t move away. “They’re mosquito bites.”

“Are you sure?”

“Of course,” he chuckles. “Forest is full of ‘em. I got bit pretty bad myself.”

Mulder gets back to his feet slowly, taking his time to drink in the sight before him. Scully stands right there, soaking wet, her bra unclasped, turning to face him. When she does he’s standing tall, practically looming over her. She stares at him for a long moment, her eyes flicking up and down his face. He watches her, and how she runs her tongue along her lips like it’s nothing. Her eyes burn into him, drilling holes into his skull. They’re wide and blue and he has no idea what it means for her to analyse every part of his face.

Then she falls against him, her head against his shoulder, clinging onto him as if her life depends on it. His response is instant; he holds her, one hand supporting her head, the other on her back. Her bare back. He kind of hates himself for the thrill he gets from touching her. Not the right time, he thinks. Not now.

But it’s so difficult when one hand is tangled in her hair and the other runs across her smooth, soft skin like they do this all the time. Her face is nestled against his chest and she might be crying so he mumbles reassurances in her ear, smoothing her hair out so it stops covering her cheeks. His lips brush her hair, her ear, and he thinks he’s losing himself. Meanwhile, his hand runs up and down her spine, his fingertips ghosting over her body. He almost doesn’t notice her arms reach up to lock around his neck, but when her nails graze across his scalp his head jerks up.

She looks up, eyebrows knitted. The feeling ebbs away as she begins to move her hands back. “Mulder.” Her voice is haggard and raspy; she’s looking at him in wonder, as though only truly noticing him since stepping foot into his room. He’s losing her, he realizes – her arms are slipping away from his neck, moving back past his shoulders. “I’m so sorry, I-“

Mulder catches her wrists in his hands and holds them in place. “It’s okay,” he says, breathless. His chest rises and falls unevenly, and his grip on her arms is firm but painless. “Scully, it’s okay.

Maybe it’s not exactly how she envisioned one of her earliest encounters with her soulmate when she was younger, but Dana finds little to complain about. He holds her gently and wipes tears from her cheeks and smiles at her like she’s the only damn person in the whole world that matters. And when he still sees her shaking he pulls her closer and wraps his arms around her, which makes sense, Dana reasons, because sharing body heat is the first thing you do to keep warm. She ignores the fact that there are blankets on the bed, or that her robe is lying discarded on the floor.

He rests his head on top of hers until she cranes her neck to look up at him. Her chin pokes against his chest, but he can barely feel it. When he looks down he smiles again, and sends stupid little flares of excitement shooting through her entire body. She wants to move away because this is ridiculous, they’ve only known each other for a few days, this should not be happening.

But she’s wrong. They’ve known each other for their whole lives. And besides, she’s still shivering, so she holds onto him, her frozen fingers taking solace in the warmth of the skin on the nape of his neck. He’s doing it to keep her warm. That’s all. What’s a friendly gesture of comfort between two partners, huh?

“Uh…” He clears his throat. She prepares to move away from him. “Sorry, I don’t wanna be awkward, but- do you want me to fix your bra? It’s undone at the back, so…”

Normally (if there’s even a normal response to such a situation, that is) she would insist that she can do it herself, but she nods instead. Her voice has vanished; she’s a dumbstruck, shaking mess.

Rather than moving away and having her turn around he pulls her closer so their chests are pressed together. She almost gasps when he ducks his head so his cheek brushes against her hair and his chin almost touches her shoulder. It’s to get a better view of what he’s doing, she reasons, but oh god. His breath is warm on her neck as he fumbles with the clasp and curses to himself. Dana’s heart pounds relentlessly and she can only hope that he doesn’t feel it going completely wild. She feels the straps fix back into place and remain there, and an unfair surge of disappointment courses through her veins. The moment is lost far too quickly – too fast for her liking. He moves away, and the space on her skin where his breath lingered feels impossibly cold.

“Thanks,” she says, swallowing thickly.

“No problem,” he replies. There’s something boyish to his smile; it’s hopeful, reassuring. The corners of her mouth twitch upwards by just a fraction.

“I should probably… You know.” Her eyes seek something else to focus on – anything but his face. They settle on the candle flickering on the desk only turn back to him seconds later. “I should probably head back to my room.”

“Yeah,” Mulder agrees. Neither of them move. Her hands are still on the back of his neck, his are holding her hips. She tries to ignore his thumb sliding across her pelvic bone – it’s no easy feat. His hands are so warm, and she’s so cold… And his touch sends sparks rocketing through her body, shooting through her nerves and her veins.

“Bureau handbook rules, and all,” she says. He nods slowly.

“Of course.”

“We could get into trouble.”

“Exactly.”

She should leave. She should really leave.

But she doesn’t.

He drags his teeth against his bottom lip, and she comes undone.

Dana grabs his face in both hands and pulls him close. Their lips collide, rough and heavy and just a little clumsy. Her eyes are squeezed shut, his wide open; he kisses her back fervently but his body is frozen with shock. She runs her hands through his hair, scraping his scalp with her nails, spreading her fingers through the shorter strands at the back. It feels like fucking heaven, and when she grabs a fistful and tugs on it his body finally manages to catch up with his mind. A helpless groan falls from his lips and she smiles against his mouth, her breath hot and laboured as she laughs at him.

The laughter turns to gasps when he steps forward, pushing her back until she’s trapped against the wall. She fumbles with the buttons of his shirt, her fingers trembling; he takes both of her hands in one of his and lifts them above her head. He feels her squirm as he buries his head in her neck, his teeth and tongue playing impossible tricks on her skin. Her head falls back against the wall as he tastes and nips at the flesh, eliciting a guttural moan from her throat. Now it’s his turn to laugh. His eyes dance when he looks up at her, watching how she tries to break free without actually wanting to be released. Her cheeks are flushed, her hair stuck to her face – she looks almost feverish, he realises, and his grin stretches even wider. She looks beautiful.

He kisses her again, his teeth pulling on her bottom lip until it’s swollen and bruised. She pushes back against him, her tongue gliding across his lips, her hips grinding against his. She feels him pressing against her thigh and smiles, hooking her leg around his to draw him closer. He jerks forward, shoving her against the wall. Soon her wrists are free and his hands are grabbing onto her thighs, fingers digging into skin as he lifts her off the ground. She wraps her limbs around him and moans when he attacks her neck again, his lips drifting from her collarbone all the way up to her earlobe. His breath is loud and warm in her ear and it sends goose bumps across her arms; she pulls him closer, her hands running through his hair again. Whenever she pulls on it he grunts and thrusts against her, clamping down on her thighs until she’s sure his fingertips will forever be imprinted on her body. Stale fear and urgency mingle together as she pulls him closer, holding his head to her neck. When he hits the sweet spot just behind her ear she throws her head back and cries out, half-laugh, half-moan. Her eyes flutter shut and she holds onto him for dear life, her nails trailing red marks across his neck and shoulders.

Mulder lifts her away from the wall and carries her over to the bed. He throws her down and stands over her, intoxicated by the sight of her laying in front of him. She’s on his bed, in his room, her hair fanned out on his pillow, her eyes dark and sparkling at him in the darkness. Her chest heaves up and down as she catches her breath but she’s grinning, beckoning to him to join her. He eagerly complies, crawling on top of her as he works on the buttons of his shirt.

Dana grabs him by the collar and draws him closer again, her lips hungry for the taste of his mouth. The buttons are forgotten as Mulder grinds against her, the soft fabric of his sweatpants rubbing against her cotton underwear. She hums and giggles her pleasure as she kisses his neck, tasting sweat and cologne as she sucks at the skin. His hand brushes down her side and he hooks his thumb on the waistband of her panties.

“Listen, Dana-“ she laughs at how alien her first name sounds on his tongue. “-no, seriously, listen.” She stops then, propping herself upward using her elbows. Her hair is dishevelled, all over the place, and her lips are swollen and red. She looks like sex; his cock twitches involuntarily at the sight of her alone. He cups her face in his free hand. “Do you want this?”

“What?”

“Do you want this?” He puts it so simply, but why would he ask? She sits up fully so they’re face to face.

“Of course I do. Don’t you?”

“What does it look like?” he jokes, gesturing down to his tented sweatpants. She doesn’t smile.

“That’s not an answer.”

“I want this,” he says. It takes an inhuman amount of restraint to stop himself from leaning forward and kissing her again. “But I want to know that you do. Before we do anything else.”

Dana’s face softens. A slow, steady grin spreads across her whole face. She moves closer and pecks his lips, a secret rush of pleasure coursing through her when she hears his sharp intake of breath. When she moves away his eyes are bright and he looks almost dazed. Dana decides it isn’t a bad look. Not at all.

“I want this,” she whispers. A moment passes before she adds, with an impish smile, “Besides. Haven’t we waited long enough?”

A breathless chuckle escapes his lips. “Can’t argue with that.”

He kisses her until she falls back against the pillows, her fingers laced together behind his neck and drawing him along with her. There’s something slow and gentle about their embrace that warms her body, lighting her up. Even as he pulls her panties down past her knees and she works on the buttons of his shirt, she thinks about them. Them as partners. Them as friends. Them as… What, a cheap hook-up? She won’t believe it.

His mouth is soft on her neck. Now that most of the urgency has passed he takes his time building her up again, his teeth and tongue playing with the same sensitive spot behind her ear. Amid all this, in the rose-tinted haze of searching limbs and bodies pressed close together, Mulder realises that he lives for the quiet mewling sounds she makes and the way she holds him. Perhaps it’s too soon to say that she makes him feel loved, but he certainly feels wanted.

It’s been so long since he felt like that. Too long.

When she removes a hand from his neck the cold air swoops in and makes him shiver. He watches her hand trail down, past her pale, toned stomach, until her fingers reach her clit. Dana smiles, triumphant, as he meets her gaze.

“Hey, I thought that was my job.” Despite the grinding and the moaning and the way Scully’s body is splayed beneath his own, Mulder’s inner smart-ass just can’t help itself. She raises an eyebrow and he feels his cheeks flush as he tries to laugh it off.

He doesn’t expect her to pull him closer, or for her to wet her lips with her tongue before whispering in his ear.

“I wasn’t called ‘the Ice Queen’ in the academy for no reason.” Her voice sounded almost unbearably husky.  One of Mulder’s hands closed around the comforter in a tight fist, his knuckles steadily growing whiter and whiter. He's so painfully aware of her fingers getting faster, working her clit as she struggles to control uneven breaths. “Few men have been able to please me… In the same way I please myself.”

Mulder snatches her hand and tugs it away. The abruptness of the motion takes her by surprise, though she tries her best to hide it. He pins her arm down on the bed with one hand and deftly replaces her fingers with the other. She gives a sudden jerk as he kneads his palm against her clit. A smile spreads across his face, boyish and amused, full of longing.

“Maybe you just haven’t met the right guy.”

Scully laughs beneath him, her eyes lighting up.

“Shut up, Mulder.”

He grins, and when he kisses her this time all he can think is, ‘I could get used to this’.