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march 6, 2000

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It isn’t the howl of the wind, low and broken like a restless spirit, or the icy splatter of rain against the window, or even her alarm clock, still hours from sounding, that wakes her. It’s his mouth, hot and wet on the back of her neck, his jawline rough, stubble catching in her hair. It’s him palming her hip with his big hand, pulling her back against the cradle of his groin where he’s thick and hard, waiting for her.

“Scully,” he whispers, kissing her ear. “Baby, wake up.”

She considers playing possum a little while longer, making him really work for it, but her blood is already growing heavy in her veins, her body sparking anywhere he touches her, and she can’t resist. She stretches, rubbing along the length of him, and they both moan.

“What?” she asks, breathless, although she knows what. Can feel it pulsing against her.

His hand slips into her pajama top, gliding over her belly, her ribs, the undersides of her breasts.

“It’s March sixth,” he says, plucking a nipple hard.

It takes her a moment, the sleep-fog in her brain clearing only to be replaced with lust-fog as he switches from one breast to the other and back again, but when she makes the connection, she grins in the darkness.

“Agent Mulder,” she whispers, grinding back against him. She finds the hand not tangled in her top and brings it to her mouth, kisses each of his knuckles. “I’ve been assigned to work with you.”

He takes her earlobe between his teeth and tugs gently.

“Best damn day of my life.” He slips a knee between her thighs, nudging her open, and ruts himself against her through two thin layers of underwear until she gasps.

“I knew you’d be smart,” he continues, giving her breast one last firm squeeze before moving lower. “But they didn’t tell me you’d be so pretty.

She thinks of the rumors she’d heard—Spooky Mulder, the man in the basement. What had she imagined? Not what she’d found, that’s for sure. Not the GQ jawline and the glasses and hair and those forearms beneath his rolled-up sleeves.

She tips her head back against his shoulder and breathes, “Me either.”

Mulder shoves her panties down, strokes her curls, groans when he finds her hot and slick. She’d been slick then, too. It took her years to admit it to herself, the way he had excited her that very first day. The challenge of him, the dance—he was a key slipping into place, unlocking all of the things she hadn’t known she was missing.

“I didn’t want to like you,” he says to the back of her ear, his words gravely and humid. “I wanted to scare you off.” He fits one finger, then another, into her. He pumps her leisurely, palm to her clit. “I was so fucking stupid.”

She chokes out a short laugh and reaches around for him, twists her fingers in his hair. He shifts behind her, maneuvering with his free hand, and then the wiry hair of his crotch brushes her ass as the wet head of his cock paints a stripe along her inner thigh. She moans, low and wanting.

“You drove me crazy,” he says, curling his fingers to hit her just there. “I wanted you so bad.”

Her grip tightens in his hair and her hips thrust against his hand, searching for more, more, even as she says, “You did not.”

He was relentless that first year, laser-focused on the work. She’s not sure he even looked at her—really looked at her—until 1994.

But he shakes his head, licks her neck, nips at her jaw. His sticky fingers slide out of her, up to catch her throbbing clit between their tight V. Hs shifts his hips, coats his cock in her slip.

“I did.” His free arm snakes under her, anchoring her to him. “God, Scully, I’ve been wild about you from the start.”

He flattens a hand on her belly, guiding her down, down, and then—they both moan as he pushes into her, stretches her, finds his home.

“Mulder,” she gasps as he bottoms out, twists his hips against her.

“I was in love with you,” he says, gliding out and filling her again, again, “before I even knew what was happening.” He tweaks her clit, pinching it between thumb and forefinger. “I was in love with you the minute I saw you.”

Liar,” she pants, but she’s grinning, undulating to his rhythm.

He rucks her top up over her head and flicks an aching nipple. His teeth sink into her neck and she cries out, arching, clenching around him.

Fuck, baby,” he groans and rolls them—hardly missing a stroke—so she’s belly-down in the sheets.

He gathers her wrists in one hand and pins them to the pillow above her. She whimpers and he pops her with his hips.

“If I hadn’t been such an idiot,” he says, breathless, “I would have shown you. I would have spent the last eight—” pop “—long—” pop “—years making you the happiest woman on earth.”

Something in her rolls. How can he not know?

“You did,” she says, turning her head to look at him. He looms close, face sweaty, eyes hunger-dark but serious. “You have.”

His forehead creases, brows drawing together. For a moment, he looks as though he might cry. Then he crushes his mouth to hers, rough and demanding. She parts her lips for his tongue and he drinks from her like he’s desperate, starving.

His body drives into hers with a fierceness that makes her tremble. Eight years of imagining, of biting her pillow and swallowing his name, of giving herself calf cramps and sore wrists, and she never came close to imagining how good it could be, how good it has been.

She is all at once immensely sorry for and incredibly jealous of her past self, little 1992 Dana sleeping the last sleep of her pre-Mulder life. Sorry, because she’s not the one currently being split open, laid bare, made delirious by every sweet, hard inch of this impossible, incredible man. Jealous—because what a future to look forward to.

Behind her, Mulder gentles. He nips at her mouth and soothes with soft, lingering pecks. His hips slow, then slip from her altogether, and she could cry with the loss of him.

“Muld—” she starts, but he’s turning her again, rolling her onto her back.

He folds her, tucks her knees against his armpits as he lowers himself over her, arms all around her, gathering her up. He buries a hand in her hair as he sinks back into her, and she sighs with the relief of it.

The new rhythm is slow, smooth. She feels each long thrust in the base of her spine, excruciating, exquisite—she’s never been so full.

In this position, she can’t move, can’t give him anything in return but the clutch of her hands at his back, his shoulders, his neck. He cups her jaw in one big palm and moors his forehead to hers. His breath puffs over her mouth, but he doesn’t kiss her, only strokes her cheek with the pad of his thumb as his hips roll.

His eyes are huge in the dark, all pupil, and she’s caught. The weight of eight years stretches between them. She wraps her hand around his wrist, thumb to his pulse. It beats in time with hers.

“Mulder,” she whispers, because anything louder would be too much.

He brushes his lips against hers, eyes open.

“What did I ever do,” he murmurs, their mouths catching, “to deserve…”

She shakes her head, clutches harder at his wrist, the back of his neck. She doesn’t know how to tell him, how to say everything, everything, you, so she kisses him instead, tongue-first and liquid.

The pressure in her belly mounts, sharpens. She wants to wriggle away, toward, more, more. But he holds her so tight, so complete, and she is helpless against the slow drag of his body. Helpless. Since day one.

She breaks their kiss to plant her mouth on his chin, his cheek, the sweaty shadow of his neck. His hair is wild with sleep and sex, plastered in the front to his forehead, and she sees him at 32, a rain-soaked maniac. We lost nine minutes! And in the graveyard—his surprised laugh, his dark eyes.

Was it then that she knew this wouldn’t be just one case? Or was it later, when she flung herself into his arms and he was there to catch her, so solid and kind? She can’t remember ever thinking of him as just anything. Just Mulder. Just her partner.

“Scully, I’m…” He buries his face in her hair, his breath hot and short. She can feel the tension in him, his quivering thighs against her ass, the taut cords of his neck.

“Yes,” she pants. “Yes.”

His hips lose their rhythm, growing fast, frantic. The crush of his pelvis against her clit is almost painful, is so good. The first—the first time she ever thought about this—she remembers—so embarrassed, after his phone call—his night-husked voice ringing in her ear, her hand between her thighs—he’d told her, even then, in her head, her first fantasy, he’d said—

“Come for me, Scully, please. I want—” and he bites her neck as punctuation and she whimpers, quakes, cracks wide open and spills like a red robe on a motel floor, like candlelight, like rain.

Distantly, beyond the cottony rush of blood in her ears, she hears him gasping her name, feels the thick pulse of him emptying into her. He kisses her sloppily, a little roughly, then collapses at her side, reaching for her again before he’s even all of the way out of her, tucking her close.

He strokes her back, his fingertips gentle. It’s still raining, and she feels safe here, cradled in the cocoon of his body. He feathers kisses along her temple, her cheeks, the bow of her mouth and the tip of her nose. Her heart aches with tenderness for him, this man who just needed to be loved all along.

They look at each other, two shadowy faces in the darkness, and for a moment, it all feels huge. The improbability of it, of them, of being here, now, like this. She thinks of all the times he’s lectured her on destiny, fate, prophecy, and she wonders, quietly, only to herself, if he’s thinking the same thing.

Then his face splits open into a huge grin, all teeth.

“What?” she says and finds herself smiling too as he begins to chuckle, his chest vibrating hers. She nudges him. “What?

He’s laughing now, a full-blown laugh, and so is she, caught up in him as he wrestles her against the pillows, holding her face in both hands and smothering her in kisses.

“Eight years,” he says, smooching her ear, the corner of her eye, still laughing. “Jesus Christ. Eight years. Who knew you’d put up with me this long?”

She giggles too, latching on with all four limbs, feeling him strong and slick and soft all around her. She presses her mouth to his throat and gives him the only answer she can. It really just feels like no time at all.