In all of her years on the X-Files, Scully had never seen anything quite like what they'd witnessed just hours earlier in the Comity police headquarters, beginning with every firearm in the building simultaneously firing off their rounds. It was a miracle no one else had been killed. Even the injuries were comparatively minor: two officers shot in the legs when their weapons had spontaneously discharged.
She strode through the motel room, grabbing at random for her belongings, placing them haphazardly into her overnight case, rather into her usual neatly separated piles of clean, dirty and dry-clean only. She shut the case a little harder than necessary. Sorting could wait until she got back to Washington.
Of course, she had no idea what to put in her report to Skinner. There was no real evidence that something—cosmic—had influenced the unexplained deaths that had brought them to Comity, despite what Mulder was proclaiming to anyone who would listen. There wasn't any evidence that would convict either girl of any of the crimes committed, none that would hold up in court.
Belongings in hand, she stepped into the hallway, intending to knock on her partner's door. As she hesitated, the image of him lying on his bed with Detective White straddling him arose unbidden into her mind. Instead, she rushed by, pushed open the entry door, and walked into the parking lot to the rental car. She put her case into the trunk, stood for a second or two, then went to the driver's side, opened it and sat down.
He exited the motel, placed his bags in the trunk, and with agile grace, folded himself into the passenger seat, all while she was still struggling with the seat lever. Having finally pushed the driver's seat as far forward as it would go and fastened her seat belt, Scully looked over at her partner. "You ready?" she said resolutely.
"You're the driver." Damn straight.
She shifted the car into reverse and peeled out a little more abruptly than she'd planned, the wheels squealing in protest.
"Uh, Scully, if I'm not mistaken, we're going to be taking a left up here."
She ignored him. He was wrong about that, as usual. She couldn't understand how it was that a man that bright had no sense of direction. That was the same mistake they'd made on the way to Comity.
"Uh, there's an intersection up here, you're gonna wanna...Scully! You're gonna wanna..."
Distracted by his whining, she found herself driving straight through the boulevard stop. Dammit. Why the hell didn't he just shut up?!
"You just ran a stop sign back there, Scully."
"Shut up, Mulder."
"Sure, fine, whatever," was not the response she expected to hear. Almost as a reflex, she found her foot pressing down harder on the gas pedal.
"Pull over, Scully." She pretended she hadn't heard him and drove faster.
"Scully, pull over! We need to talk," he said tightly. She continued to drive.
When he wrenched the steering wheel away from her and steered the car to the shoulder, that got her attention.
"Mulder, what the hell?"
"Stop the car," he directed. When she shook her head, he reached for the key, turned off the ignition, and yanked hard on the parking brake. The car careened to a stop. Mulder pulled the keys out of the ignition and got out, Scully following in his wake.
She grabbed his arm hard. "You want to tell me what the hell is going on?" He was wearing his old trench coat, her favorite of his dress shirts and a tie that wasn't quite as hideous as his usually were. She squelched the impulse to step down hard on his foot.
He shook her off, stopped abruptly, then turned around to face her. "You ran a stop sign, then started speeding up when I pointed that fact out to you. You weren't just ignoring me, you were acting as though you were..." He hesitated for a second.
This was absurd. "You still believe I'm acting under the influence of that so-called cosmic convergence," she said flatly.
"Damn it, yes I do. And unless you can offer a better explanation, I'm sticking with the one that fits with the facts. I think we've both been unduly influenced by the phenomenon ever since we arrived in Comity."
Scully laughed unpleasantly. "I suppose that's as good an excuse as any for what you were up to with Detective White."
He looked hurt, which she supposed was her intent. "Look, that "so-called" cosmic event resulted in the deaths of five young people, or had you forgotten why we were called to consult on this case," he said, making air quotes. "This is what we do. As far as Detective White is concerned, I already told you that nothing happened between us. Why won't you believe me?"
"Mulder, she was all over you when I walked in." She wanted to call him every name she could think of, starting with unprofessional. But this was none of her business, really. If he wanted to screw around with every bimbo in law enforcement, well he was a free agent, no pun intended.
"Yeah, she was. But she barged into my room uninvited...Scully... and, and, I'd been drinking and... "
This was too much. "And you're irresistible, of course." She stood facing him, her arms folded over her chest.
Now he was staring at her. He looked—captivated—was the only word she could think of. It made her feel restless. To her surprise, he put his arms around her and pulled her closer, looking intently into her eyes. She could see that his were the color of the sea at dusk, a darker gray than she'd remembered, with a hint of brown and green in the depths. Her arms relaxed to her side and she swayed toward him. He opened his mouth and then closed it again. She wanted to kiss that mouth, suck on his tongue, nibble on his luscious lower lip.
She frowned. Where the hell had that thought come from?
His hands migrated, first to her hair and then to her face. Now his thumb was smoothing out the wrinkle between her eyebrows. "Don't be angry with me, Scully," he murmured, his lips barely brushing her ear lobe.
God, that felt good. "What are we doing here, Mulder?" Unconsciously, she hummed a little, and worked her hands underneath his jacket, her hands kneading the lean muscles of his lower back.
"I'm not sure exactly." Mulder's tone was uneasy. "Getting you off the road so you didn't get us killed was the original plan, but this... is good, too." He was driving her to distraction, his hands moving down her back, now cupping her backside. She tried not to moan.
"What are you doing?" she asked again, softening her tone. She leaned into his touch and closed her eyes, hoping he'd take the hint.
Maybe it was working! The next thing she knew, he'd lifted her up, and turning back to the car, set her gently onto the hood. It was a little chilly and her winter coat would need to be sent to the cleaners but she was beyond caring about such trifles. He settled himself between her legs and kissed her forehead in his usual spot. She sighed with pleasure and grabbed fistfuls of Mulder-shirt, wrapping one leg around his thigh, drawing him toward her. Suddenly she saw herself back in the motel, except she was in Detective White's place, straddling Mulder's hips, her short skirt hiked up, her hair in disarray, her lips meeting his!
Head tilted up, she waited in anticipation, but nothing more was forthcoming. She opened her eyes. His hands had stopped roving and had settled at her waist. He looked more confused than aroused.
"Oh, I thought...never mind then. What did you want to talk about?" she said as calmly as she could. She was regaining control, which was a good thing, wasn't it? But if that was the case, why did she feel so bereft?
"I don't remember exactly, but I think I was worried about you running the intersection," he admitted. He looked a little guilty, but he hadn't done anything wrong. Oh, Mulder!
She shook her head. "I can't believe I did that. I'm sorry, I don't know what that was about." She did, though. She was angry at him and she'd over-reacted. His hands were still covering her hips, but before she could pull him closer, he shoved them inside his trench pockets and took a half step back. Reluctantly, she released him. She looked down at her sensible pantsuit. This never would have worked. It was mid-January in New Hampshire. She wasn't even wearing a skirt!
He cleared his throat. "I still think it was a lingering after-effect of the larger cosmic event that was affecting the citizens of Comity." He looked at her intently, as always, watching for her reaction.
What should she say? Should she pretend they'd been acting under the influence of the stars, as she knew he believed? Or insist on what she knew to be the truth? She was attracted to him because of his brilliant mind and heroic character, and yes, his physical beauty moved her as well, but it wasn't because of some ridiculous cosmic convergence. She wanted so much to let this spin out of control, to push things beyond the boundaries they had marked for their relationship. Did it even matter? Whatever had been about to happen between them...it seemed the moment for it had passed.
She forced a smile. "Maybe you're right, Mulder." She glanced at her feet. One high-heeled shoe was dangling in mid-air. She pushed it back on and then slid off the hood, planting her feet back on the pavement. "It's getting late. Why don't we talk more about it on the way home?"
He opened the driver's side for her, then settled himself back into the passenger seat. "Fine. What's your theory?"
She reiterated her stance, then listened to his counter-arguments, enjoying the familiar drone of his voice, admiring his intuitive leaps and flights of fancy, so different from the way her mind worked a problem.
Maybe he was content to live with the status quo, but she wasn't going to be for long. She liked the way his hands had felt, roaming her body as though it belonged to him. She'd wanted him to keep touching her, and not with just his hands. She'd wanted to tell him to keep going, that she'd liked how he had made her feel. Just thinking about his lips made her blush. She reached down abruptly and turned off the heater.
He stopped mid-sentence. "Are you okay, Scully?"
He was worried that he'd overstepped. "I'm fine, Mulder. It's just gotten a little warmer in here than I like." She had to reassure him that all was well. Without even needing to look, she reached over, took his hand, gave it a quick squeeze and released it.
She smoothed her wayward locks of hair back into place with one hand, the other firmly on the steering wheel, keeping the sedan in the center of the lane. The open fields turned into suburban homes, which led them back to the highway heading toward the airport.
Soon, she promised herself. She loved him, she was certain of it. Her attraction to him was because of who he was to her: her trusted partner and her beloved friend. However long it took, he would be worth the wait, she was certain of that, too.