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It is cheaper to fly from Oakland to BWI on Southwest, than it is to fly from Sacramento to Ronald Reagan on any airline in the year 2000. Which is how, in February of that year, Mulder found himself sitting next to Scully in a walled-off red and white corner booth, at In-N-Out Burger, in Alameda landing, mere minutes from the airport’s pigeon filled bottom floor (and it was pigeon filled… the roofing renovations were taking years and you were as likely to get your breadcrumbs swiped by a bird, as by a homeless person).

They happened to be on the same side of the booth because this particular In-N-Out Burger was packed, and the bussers did not give one of two shits about cleaning. Thus, the opposite bench was covered in spilt vanilla shake, the remnants in the righted cup loitering their table.

Meth, he decided. Never once.

“How are you feeling?” Her voice had the ability to sound gravely, melodic, and pornographic in the space of five syllables. All parts of Mulder are too tired to care.

He shrugs a shoulder. “Um…” their burgers, animal-style, lay between them. His is one quarter-gone. Hers. Demolished. Her fries have begun to swim. He huffs a large sigh. “I…” he trails into a similarly heavy breath out. He doesn’t know how he is. Where does one draw the line, between giving up and closure?

Mulder alternates between side-long glances and staring straight ahead. He can’t help but feel she is disappointed in him, rather than rallied by his ability to finally move on. ‘Jesus, Scully. What the fuck do you want from me?’ He cannot win.

For her part, she sloshes a lone fry around in a thousand-island-ketchup-mustard pool of swampy mess. They have two hours until their flight.

The restaurant has mostly emptied, and their voices would be cacophonous if not for the rattle and groan of dishwashers and driers in the kitchen. The drive-through is still blasting orders.

She feels his anxiety mating with sadness, pouring off him like steam from a coffee in the middle of winter. Mulder can tell himself whatever he wants, she suspects, but he will never be free. Scully is overcome, tender and sore; the past few days have been a nightmare. She echoes his sigh and rests her head on his shoulder. She knows he takes comfort in these physical things.

Mulder’s comfort-demon responds instantly, nuzzling his head atop hers, jawbone heavy against the temple of her forehead. If In-N-Out were a gas-station diner, they would look truly tragic, instead of just strung out. His twelve-o’clock shadow catches Scully’s hair but Mulder can still feel Sam, standing oh so short in front of him, her brunette locks hanging up on the scruff of his chin as she wraps him in a hug. He inhales his partner much the same way as his sister, and has to shift his hips when arousal and closure war each other deep in his belly.

Scully turns her head and her nose is buried in the sterno-tendon along his neck and enveloped with that sweat-sweet scent ingrained into her – the smell of late nights in a humid D.C. office, a half mile sprint down an alleyway, the scent she imagined herself buried with because it’s the last thing she always smells before she almost-dies. The doctor in her – the person who can’t help but admire well-muscled female cadavers, who can’t help but notice when a corpse has a ten inch cock – feels the need to nose up that tendon. Feels the need to nip at it, with a light tug of teeth.

Dana Scully works in death, and the passion of tragedy is as close a bed-sister to love as there will ever be.

She will probably never tell Mulder, but she’s fucked away every funeral and death sentence she’s been handed and the one-night stands litter Arlington and Georgetown.

“Scully…” He wants to shrug her off. There is something so, so wrong about her coming at him this way, now, at this time. But as her teeth nip gently, tugging oh-so-light against the skin of his neck, he begins to lose the ability to speak.

He’s wanted her, and he’s had her for weeks now. Weeks do not make up for almost a decade of lust.

She needs to feel him. Something other than this numb carcass that has been sitting in the passenger seat since Sacramento. Something more Mulder, more himself. Scully sees his jeans tighten.

“Mulder,” she moves from his neck to his earlobe, tugs on that next.

“Scu-“ he swallows. “Stop writing checks you can’t cash right here.”

She palms his thigh and walks her hand across to his burgeoning hardon, cupping him with grip and a slight tug. “Never written a check I can’t cash.”

He moans out on a breath and is glad In-N-Out plays music. He wants to tell her this isn’t what he needs right now; he just needs her… but she is so bad at listening to him emote. And anyway, his hips jerk up into her hands and so he would sound like a liar.

“Scully,” he’s only moderately stronger sounding, this time.

She tugs down harder on his earlobe, and palms him up through his pants as she moves across to the edge of his jaw.

“This is last time I’m going to ask you to stop,” he begs, his sex-rough voice sounding anything but pleading. His hips have begun a slow pump into the safety net of her hand. He really doesn’t want this. Compartmentalization is her thing, not his. But as her hand rides over the ridge of him through his jeans, and he decides compartmentalization is for the birds.

He starts to pump in earnest, moves his hand from behind her to head south.

“No,” she says softly with razor wire attached. “This isn’t for me.”

In-N-Out? Corner booth? Who cares. He doesn’t even mind the harsh zip of his fly. They’ve both killed men before. Let’s face it. They’ve done worse than a handy in a public restaurant late at night in Oakland, California.
Pump, pump, pump.

Mulder has always been turned on by girls secure enough in themselves to spit in front of a guy during a workout. So, to hear and see the love of his life wind up and spit into her palm to lubricate him, he almost cums on the spot. “Jesus.”

She’s softer when she pumps him quick, then slows into longer, harder strokes. She moves her other hand down to cup his balls.

His hips jump at the same frequency she beats him, and he scans the now-empty restaurant. Fuck. His dick is waving, flagpole surrender. “Scully…”

There are no staff in sight. They are still behind the counter, freezing and cleaning what they can for the night.

This isn’t what he wants. Mulder hasn’t known what he’s wanted since they began sleeping together.

It’s not enough, because she is only giving him what she’s comfortable with.

He wants it all. And if he looks back on his life with only a few humid nights in the sack and a shitty fast food hand job, it won’t be enough. He needs all of her.

This is the worst moment in his life, giving up on his sister and the fantasy of a relationship he once thought he had a shot at, in the same night… and she can’t look him in the eyes and talk, so instead, she continues to pump.

“Scully, stop.” He doesn’t want to cum but it’s a freight-train and his balls begin to clamp.

“Cum for me, Mulder.”

“Scully… I can’t, here… I’m gonna…” the very last thing he wants to do is pour himself over the floor; even that is too tragic for Fox Mulder. He eyes the cup across the table, about as lonely and empty as he feels right now, and it seems appropriate. “Scu-grab the cup…” He strains on his up-thrust, desperately trying to wait.

She’s confused but quick to action, thanks law enforcement and medical background, and hands him the mostly empty vanilla shake cup.

He bites down on his lip, hard. They’re in public. So instead of tossing his head back and yowling, he groans as deep in his chest as he can and allows his head to plop forward onto his forearm atop the table, unceremoniously, as he spurts once, twice, and
again into the cup.

She strokes him until he physically backs her off with his hand.

He lays sweaty on the table top, amidst the aftermath of burgers and fries, smelling only ketchup, and tries to catch his breath. She sets her chin atop his neck, like an apologetic puppy begging forgiveness. “I thought it would make you feel better.”

He still breathes in quick, deep, recovery gasps. They’re silent as his breathing slows.

They move to the exit, finally, after he tucks himself away (she didn’t even help him out). He dumps the fowled cup in the trash. The door swings shut behind her, as he moves to the car.

“I don’t know what you want from me, Mulder.” It’s the most earnest she’s ever been.

He stops but doesn’t face her. “I want more than a handjob in an In-N-Out, Scully.”

She’s quiet.

He’s quiet.

He breaks the silence as he turns. “I want you to look me in the eye, the next time you ask me how I am.” He’s as angry with her as he is with himself. He’s done with her letting him off the hook… and he’s done with him letting her.

They don’t say another word to each other until they land in Baltimore.