Melissa sang in the church choir.
She stood front row, sang first soprano, and always got the best solos. She’d had a gift—an uncanny ability to carry a multitude of emotion with a single syllable. A man who had never been fed a drop of religion in his life could know what it was like to know God, just by hearing Melissa sing.
Scully sat in the pews.
She’d be the first to tell you she couldn’t carry a tune. Her musical résumé included a few simple hymns she sang under her breath on the rare occasions she actually made it to Mass, and a monotone rendition of a Three Dog Night classic; she never wanted to be in choir.
But still she envied Melissa.
As a child, tugged out of her muddy, ripped jeans, and forced into a dress, sitting on an old, creaking bench with her mother at her side, hissing, “Sit like a lady, Dana!” Scully’s heart was green when she heard her sister sing.
It wasn’t the notes she was jealous of, but the emotions. Scully, who felt deeply but was twice as guarded, couldn’t fathom the ease at which Melissa poured herself into such a public display of self-expression.
Maggie Scully always said, that when she was born, her younger daughter didn’t cry.
“I asked the doctor what was wrong, but he just smiled and said, ‘She’s just taking it all in, Mrs. Scully. You’ve got a very curious baby on your hands.’”
And of course, that was true. As a newborn, she prioritized understanding the brand new place she’d been pushed into, over giving into the fear of its newness, and thus began the repertoire of Dana Scully; a constant of hers, literally since birth. Melissa was truly gifted, but never let it be said that Scully was not without her own wealth of talents. It took, after all, an incredibly talented person to hold the Universe in the palms of her hands, and pick it apart until it was nothing more than atomic numbers on the elemental table.
But the drawback was that she had walls, somewhat by nature, and certainly by nurture.
It’s not that Scully was dispassionate. No one who truly knew her would call her cold or calculating . She laughed easily at things she found funny, and cried when it was necessary, and she carried within her a heart so full of sentimentality and romantic idealization that among her wealth of medical journals and scientific studies, one could find Austen, Bront ë, and du Maurier. But surely, with a heart so fragile and a mind so analytical, it was only logical to keep it safe.
It wasn’t always about safety, however, but rather, shame. Scully, so independent and self-assured, had the bizarre tendency towards hero worship. Likely, she was born with an overflowing amount of loyalty, and like opposing ends of a magnet being drawn together, she gravitated towards anyone she felt she could unburden some of it on.
Her first hero was her father—a naval captain, who was emblematic of what a man of his time was meant to be. He loved to his core, but was wont to express it more often with a salute than with a hug. And Scully idolized her father, trying so hard to emulate what she saw as a representation of perfection, that she began to see every tear, or hurt, or pain as a weakness, and she began to keep them inside.
And then she had to go and become a doctor, of all things, where she had to work ten times as hard as her male peers just to prove she belonged there. Short, petite, and so very much a woman , Scully could never let her classmates see her as anything but the hardened intellectual facade she brought to her lectures, and into her labs, and then into her residency, until suddenly, that was just who Dana Scully was to any new person she met; logic and intellect personified, in order to avoid the misogyny, both purposeful and ingrained, of her peers.
(She had loved one man in med school, opening her heart exactly once. He was a man who saw her both as a woman and an intellectual, and he was someone she had no right to claim, and when she finally walked out the door and into the arms of the FBI, she couldn’t be so sure if it had been her heart that she had opened to him, or her ego.)
And this all brought her here, to this life she now led, as the voice of reason sidekick to a man she had given her wealth of loyalty to, to the surprise of them both.
Mulder, of course, was not someone she needed to fear judgement from—she had witnessed him proposing alien abduction as a plausible theory to a room full of his superiors on more than one occasion—but by the time he entered her life, or, more accurately, by the time she had been forced into his, her walls had been widened and caulked so substantially that it never occurred to her that vulnerability was an option.
(Every now and then, Mulder would hack away a piece of metaphorical cement, and glimpse at the person behind the wall, and while he never once would pass judgement on her for simply being human, Scully would rebuke herself for her weakness.)
Which is why, today, she is thrown entirely off guard as Mulder asks her, so bluntly and inelegantly that she does a mental double-take, “Why are you so quiet in bed?”
It is either very late, or very early, depending on your point of view. The sun hasn’t quite started to rise, but the sky is starting to brighten just a bit around her halo glow. Scully and Mulder spent the better part of their Thursday night, and Friday twilight hours, on a stakeout outside of an ugly, brick apartment complex in a town of less than 4,000 in rural Kansas, which ended in a foot chase down a dead end alleyway and Scully’s gun pressed against the temple of a man with the marking that led them here tattooed on his right forearm, while Mulder read him his Miranda rights.
“Y’all might as well go back to your hotel and get some rest,” said the local sheriff who arrived on the scene shortly after. “I only got one other officer on duty so it’ll take some time to take care of the booking, and the forensic lab in KC won’t have gotten back to you with the test results on the corpse until at least this afternoon.”
And Scully should have jumped on the opportunity for rest, having not truly slept in well over a day, but she found she was still hyped on adrenaline, and with a single look at Mulder she knew he was feeling the same, which is how they now found themselves sitting in a lumpy booth inside a 24/7 diner, with Mulder inquiring about their bedroom habits.
Because, due to a couple beers over a Twilight Zone marathon taken too far two weeks ago, they actually have bedroom habits—a fact Scully is more or less never not thinking about. Even when she is preoccupied with paperwork, or meetings, or chasing bad guys down rural Kansas alleyways, the back of her mind is always replaying the feel of Mulder’s fingers or the taste of his tongue, like some sort of X rated background noise.
“Mulder,” Scully hisses, after she’s taken a moment to recover. She glances over her shoulder. The diner is entirely empty except for an elderly, heavyset man in the far corner looking like he’s trying, unsuccessfully, to sober up over a cup of black coffee, and the disinterested waitress leaning against the counter, snapping bubbles with her chewing gum while flipping through a gossip magazine without seeming to read a single word.
“Relax, no one is paying attention to us,” says Mulder, reading her thoughts, cutting off her reprimanding before it can begin. She turns back to him and puts both her hands around her mug of English breakfast tea, and stares into it with a frown.
“Where’d that question even come from?” she asks her tea.
“Just something I’ve been wondering since this whole…” He clears his throat. “Erm, thing started.”
“And a crappy diner at 4:30 in the morning is when you decide to ask it?” asks Scully, occupying herself by grabbing another sugar packet and tearing it open to pour into her tea. “Why were you even thinking about our sex life right now?”
“Not to be crass, but it’s probably safe to say that I’m always thinking about our sex life,” says Mulder, and Scully tries to shoot him a glare, but she’s pretty sure it comes out a smirk, because the idea of ‘our’ sex life is still so new and exciting that she gets the flutters in her belly at the thought.
“Hate to break it to you, Mulder, but real life isn’t like those VHS tapes in your desk. Not all women scream bloody murder when they’re fucked.”
Mulder regards her with a sly gleam in his eye that makes her suspicious as he takes a bite of apple pie. “I know that,” he says through his mouthful. He swallows. “I just have the distinct impression that you’re secretly one of them.”
Scully blinks at him. “What makes you think you’d know something like that?”
“I’m a behavioral psychologist,” he says. “It’s my job to know.”
Scully rolls her eyes, and goes back to stirring sugar into her tea, not dignifying that with a response. She takes a sip and grimaces—too sweet.
“That, and you always try to stop yourself from making noise,” Mulder continues, and Scully’s head shoots up.
“I do not,” she defends. In response, Mulder raises an eyebrow, and reaches up to pull the collar of his shirt to the side, revealing the fresh, red bite mark on his collarbone, and Scully flushes, remembering the night before in the motel room they were very much not supposed to be sharing, as Mulder pushed into her and she’d muffled her scream by digging her teeth into the flesh of his muscular shoulder. She scowls. “Circumstantial evidence,” she says.
Mulder cracks a grin, and responds by reaching over and gently taking Scully’s hand that’s wrapped around her mug, and closely examining a faded mark on the skin between her index finger and her thumb, also in the shape of Scully’s bite, and Scully pulls her hand away, thinking about a week and a half ago in her apartment, when Mulder went down on her while she was sitting on the couch, and she had caught her moan before it escaped by clamping down on the webbing between her two fingers, so hard she drew blood.
“What’s your point?” she asks crossly, wishing Mulder had the decency not to look so smug.
“It’s not a point, it’s a question,” he says, sitting back in his chair. “Are you quiet in bed because that’s just how you are, or is it for some other reason?”
“What other reason would there be?”
Mulder shrugs. “You tell me.”
And Scully is at a loss, because the truth is that Mulder’s right—she isn’t a quiet lover. But she wishes that she were, because inside every moan, groan, and wail of pleasure, there’s a vulnerability attached. To be vocal in bed is to admit to feelings she’d rather not say.
“I’ve been louder with other people,” she says.
“So just not with me?”
“Of course not with you,” she says, almost annoyed, because he sounds almost hurt, but he knows her so well, shouldn’t it be obvious ? “Not with you because you matter.”
Mulder makes that face he makes when she says something unexpected. He pulls his eyebrows together, and his mouth forms a question he can’t find the words for, and Scully secretly revels in it, because it’s rare.
“You don’t get it,” she says for him, and he doesn’t disagree.
“Explain it to me?” he says instead, and she stirs her cooling, overly-sweet tea.
“I could never sing in church choir.”
“No offense, but among your many talents singing isn’t one of them.”
She smiles, knowing that for a moment they are both back in the woods in northern Florida, flirting about sleeping bags while monsters lurk in the dark. She says, “I could spend my whole life perfecting vocal technique, and I’d never sound beautiful, because I don’t know how to put emotion behind it. I don’t want to put emotion behind it.”
“Art requires a degree of vulnerability,” Mulder agrees.
“So does letting someone you care about know the things they make you feel,” says Scully, and Mulder understands.
“I’m not a congregation, though.”
“No, you’re something worse.”
“You don’t have to give me anything you’re not comfortable with.”
“But you deserve it,” Scully finds herself saying. God, she’s been up for so long. God, she’s been fighting for even longer. “But I want to. I just don’t know how.”
Mulder is silent. So is Scully. The man in the corner grumbles about his hangover into his hands.
“I have an idea,” says Mulder finally. “But you need to tell me if it’s too much.”
“It’s not too much,” says Scully automatically. She trusts him with her life.
Even as the sun rises, the hotel room is dark. It faces west, and the light is in the east. They’ve got the curtains pulled tight, and the lamps off. It’s an old motel, with only five channels without static, two of which are local weather stations, and the comforter pattern doesn’t match the carpet. Scully lays on her back, a sleeping mask resting over her eyes, as Mulder takes her wrist and locks it inside the cool metal of his handcuffs.
The backboard of the bed is made up of discolored, metal columns, and Scully listens as the opposite end of the handcuffs is placed around one. She tugs experimentally. She’s stuck in place.
“Safeword?” Mulder asks her for the third time, as he takes her other wrist gently in his hand, and takes her own pair of handcuffs to trap her to the bed. Their superiors would love to know what they do with FBI property; maybe it’d finally get them out of the building.
“Abduction,” she says for the third time, and she can’t see it, but she knows Mulder smiles, because he laughed for a full minute when she picked that as the word.
“It’s about sensation,” he explains again, as though reminding himself. “It’s about feeling and letting go. But if it gets to be too much—”
“Mulder?” she interrupts.
And she hears him huff out a breath of laughter, and she feels his lips against hers, just briefly, in a chaste reassurance. “Okay,” he breathes, hot on her skin. And she waits, chained and entirely nude, more vulnerable than she has willingly been, possibly ever. The fear she feels treads the line of exhilaration, as Mulder runs a hand along her thigh.
She hums her contentment. Humming is okay. Humming is not revealing. It’s the noise equivalent of, “that’s nice,” which isn’t scary to say. Yes, that’s nice. Full stop. No barriers broken, image maintained.
He kisses her again, harder this time, and she responds enthusiastically, reaching out to run her fingers through his hair, but being met with the clang of metal on metal and resistance against her wrists. She can’t touch him, and that’s a bit unnerving, as she realizes how unlevel the playing field is. That is, of course, the point, but theory is never the same as practice.
Mulder moves his lips along her jawline, licking her lightly in the spot just behind her ear that is strangely erogenous, and she lets out a muffled, “mmph!” A step up from humming, but not quite the danger zone just yet.
He nibbles lightly on the skin of her neck, not hard enough to raise eyebrows at their meeting with Skinner day after next, but enough that it tickles in that way where it is indistinguishable from minute pain, and a groan builds in the back of her throat, like a low rumble of thunder, but it doesn’t escape.
Two fingers suddenly pinch around her nipple, and she can’t help the gasp that escapes. She can’t see him twist the sensitive flesh; can only feel his fingers tug, and his tongue joins them, and there’s something about the darkness that makes it that much more intense. She pulls her lips inward, and bites down on them, muting the sounds that threaten to pour off her traitorous tongue.
Without moving from her nipple, his other hand reaches down between her legs. A finger dips quickly inside her, and then encircles her engorged clit, lubricating her with her own wetness. “Oh,” she says, softly, turning her head and resting her cheek against her shoulder, and she tries to find something to bite down on, but she can’t reach. “Oh!” she says again, surprised this time, as the fingers around her nipple tighten, and his mouth moves to her other breast, expertly working three of her most sensitive spots at once.
Abruptly, he moves away from it all, and she protests, until she feels him positioning himself between her thighs, and then she smiles, because she knows this is his favorite. She never has to ask; you’d think her pussy was heroin the way he seems to crave it.
But she isn’t prepared for this, as his tongue makes contact, and his fingers slip inside her. She isn’t prepared for the intensity of it, as she pulls on the handcuffs, surely leaving marks in the skin, trying to grab hold of something to concentrate on anything other than the steady motion he’s gotten nearly perfect at.
A tightness begins to build where his mouth presses against her, and every hair on her body is standing on end. It’s too much, too much, and she goes to shout, “abduction!” but it comes out as, “fuck!” In fact, it comes out as a string of expletives, each one louder than the next, punctuated by high, desperate moans, as though she were a woman in one of Mulder’s VHS tapes.
And then her orgasm is washing over her, and she is faintly aware of her voice growing hoarse; of the clang of metal on the backboard pinging like mad, and she doesn’t care. Isn’t that something, she thinks somewhere in her blissed out mind, she doesn’t care . She is singing her own one-person church choir, and Mulder is her congregation, and they both know what it’s like to know God.
She comes down, breathing harder than she had in the alleyway with a gun in her hand, and Mulder pushes up her mask, his eyes wild, looking at her like she’s the answer to every mystery he’s ever encountered, and he crushes his mouth against hers, filling her tongue with the taste of herself.
With no prelude, Mulder pushes his erection inside her easily, and she buries herself in the warmth of his neck, saying all the things she’s never allowed herself to say, using filthy, single syllables. He says it all back to her in the same language. She comes again, which only happens when the sex is particularly special, and he follows her, spilling as deep inside of her as he can get.
Then there is silence; nothing but the sound of their tandem breaths.
“Jesus,” says Mulder finally, and Scully, who has said everything and more, can do nothing else but nod.
He slips out of her; undoes her binding. He rubs her wrists, peppering the red marks with soft kisses, and then gathers her up into his arms.
“I thought you couldn’t sing,” he whispers into her ear, petting her sweaty, properly-fucked-looking hair.
She smiles into his touch.
“I guess I just needed somebody to teach me how.”