She’d never been prone to sit alone at a dingy bar, knocking back whiskey.
That was firmly Mulder’s territory.
She sat at the corner stool, losing herself in the thin haze of cigarette smoke. The bartender slouched her way.
“’Uno mas?” he nodded towards her glass, and she returned the gesture.
When the older man grinned and winked at her, he was missing his eye tooth. “You can hold your weight can’t you, mija?”
She raised her eyebrows and gave a slight, disinterested nod as she whorled the last ice cube around in her mouth.
The bartender slid a fresh drink in front of her and headed to the other side of the bar, wiping down the layer of dust that seemed to settle every few minutes.
“What are these, Mulder?”
“Last time I checked, they were called bus tickets.”
“...I thought we agreed. At least two months here. That we’d give it a chance.”
“You agreed, Scully. I didn’t. You really want to settle down in this piece of shit town?”
“Two months isn’t settling, Mulder. We need a chance to breathe.”
“Yeah, well… I’ve got a lead in Salt Lake City. This might be it, Scully. Proof. There’s supposedly a kid in Wyoming-”
“I don’t care, Mulder.”
“Jesus Christ, Scully, we’re running out of time here.”
“Yeah. You’re right about that.”
Scully shook her head and sipped from her glass, wincing at the brief burn.
The door to the bar creaked open and she looked up.
Two Latino men stepped through, accompanied by a white male. 5.11 tactical pants and hiking boots. She fought to not roll her eyes. Fucking DEA agents.
Undercover, her ass. In the fall of 2006, Mulder and Scully had landed in Albuquerque, New Mexico. They celebrated his birthday in a hole-in-the wall Mexican joint named Tomas’s Tamales, had one too many margaritas, and fell onto their crappy air mattress in their crappy studio apartment and made sloppy love to the distant sound of someone’s backyard Mariachi band.
“We should stay,” Scully remembered asking, drunk and post-coital and boneless.
“It’s a good place for us both,” he’d slurred.
What she hadn’t realized at the time was that it was a good place for him because he had sources in town. And because Albuquerque, in that little sweet spot between Roswell and Mount Weather, was a great place for him to set up shop.
And technically, he was right. He hadn’t agreed to settle down for any length of time.
“Look, Scully, I’m not even saying we should drop the lease on the studio. But this lead could really turn into something.”
“Something like the last lead? And the one before that? We’ve been running for four years, Mulder. Four! Just… give me something to put my back against, here.”
“Scully… come to Salt Lake or don’t. But I can’t promise I’m coming back here.”
“So that’s it, then.”
“The same choice you always make, Mulder. The truth or us. It’s always black and white with you. There’s never been room for both.”
The town held a dark secret not many knew, but Scully and Mulder dealt in dark secrets, and this one was no different.
In the early 2000’s, a war that was all too terrestrial had been waged. The Sinaloa Cartel had gained momentum and then had waged a war with Juarez. El Chapo began to push sophisticated narco-smuggling routes through the Arizona and New Mexico borders, and federal resources were occupied near Ciudad, Juarez to keep a drug war from spilling into the States.
Albuquerque sat along the I-25 corridor, and if the narcos could make it to the highway, they were home-free north to south and coast to coast. Albuquerque also had a meth problem, just like any other small and relatively boring town isolated in the United States. Easy enough for the Cartels to flip a kid, promise him a small cut, a bag of crystal, some downers, and an eightball or two. The dumb fucks would run a box truck all the way up to Canada and be back in town for a second helping the following week. If they got popped? It was inconsequential.
So, Albuquerque landed firmly within the interests of the DEA. Sure, the FBI had a large enough white-collar footprint, and a few agents attached to gangs. But drugs were not exactly their wheelhouse, so the town itself made for a very easy place for Mulder and Scully to hide, particularly because the DEA and FBI were notorious for not getting along.
An FBI wanted poster with their pictures attached clear as day could be on the door to the bar and the DEA agents wouldn’t look twice at her.
“I need you on this one, Scully.”
“No. This time Mulder, you really don’t. Whatever lead this is, it’s a smoke-screen, just like all the rest. Mulder… For once. Let’s just take some time. Let this one go.”
“I’ll be at the station at four. If you’re not there-”
“If I’m not there, what?”
“Then... I love you. But I can’t let this one go.”
“Uno mas, mija?” Missing an eye-tooth or not, the old man had a sweetness to him that made her smile.
“Uno mas,” she replied softly, and he obliged.
Mulder would be in Santa Fe by now on his way to Salt Lake, those long legs of his already itching and bouncing, dreading the next 22 hours trapped on a bus.
There was a jangling of bells as the door opened again, but she didn’t look up this time.
Her head snapped up, but his startlingly blue eyes cut straight through her whiskey fog.
Oh, God. This was too ridiculous, too much of a parody.
She huffed a laugh into her glass and shook her head, kept eye contact with him as she took a quick sip. The man might have been out of his mind at the time, but he’d still tried to kill her.
He was the same as the day she met him. Tall, good looking with an earnestness about him.
“We’ve got to stop meeting like this,” he said, wearing a tentative smile.
Scully laughed out loud then, for what felt like the first time in a year. Nodded her head towards the stool across the corner from her.
“Take a seat, Ed. It’s good to see you’re out.”
Ed Jerse bought the next round, and Dana wondered for only a brief moment how fucked up her life had become.
The day Dana met Ed, she’d felt oddly at ease with him. An instant sort of kinship born of being cast out and not really, completely wanted.
Ed’s ex-wife had been tired of white collar life in Philadelphia. Here and now, Mulder seemed to be exhausted by whatever life of staid domesticity he seemed to believe she was trying to drag him into.
Rather than split out of the bar because she’d been called out by her own first name, Scully felt comforted by the presence of a man that had tried to kill her. After years on the run, trying to disappear into a sea of people, here was a man that knew her.
And the truth was that her and Mulder, whatever they were, were drowning. Mulder had been characteristically relentless after his initial swell of despair after learning the date was set. Fox Mulder, her hopeless man full of eternal hope, had moved them from motel after motel, always running, always searching.
Only, Scully wasn’t as useful to him without a lab. She was great for him to bounce theories off of when he decided he’d talk to her at all, but with four years and hundreds of miles of roads and motels between them… just them… it seemed like he’d run out of things to say. They didn’t talk, they rarely fucked, and they just kept running. She felt like she let him down every time she tried to tell him she was tired.
It was exhausting.
Scully looked over at Ed as he sat down across from her and ordered a gin and tonic. Shrugged guilelessly her way. God. This man had tried to throw her into an incinerator for fuck’s sake.
How on earth was it possible to be this comfortable around him?
The answer was simple: the poor bastard had been out of his mind when he went after her. Even when he went after the other woman.
It was no secret America had been and still did have a terrible track record with depression and other mental illnesses. Instead of seeking help, Ed drunkenly sought out a tattoo and the ergot pushed him off the cliff. He wasn’t evil; he was vulnerable and poisoned. It wasn’t his fault.
She’d been pissed the next day, having to clean up a few cuts and stare at a few bruises. But being pissed didn’t change the fact that the night before, she’d had some of the best sex of her life. She’d needed rough, something to remind her life was worth living, and the second Ed pushed her up against the wall, she’d remembered that she was still alive.
And, she thought, as she swallowed the rest of her Jameson and ordered another, what was the difference between her and Ed, really? They’d both let innocent people die. Both killed innocent people. The main difference was she’d been fully cognizant of her actions – murder not only by proxy but also by a gun fired from her own hand.
“I um,” Ed started, then stopped and shook his head. Clearing the demons? “I never… I always wished I’d been able to see you, after. Just to… to apologize.” He raised his arm to take a sip and she noted the pink, ropey scars that traveled the length of his forearm up passed his shirt sleeve.
He’d set himself on fire for her. Mulder was afraid of flames.
“Uno mas, mija?”
“So, how’d you end up here, Ed?”
He cocked a small smile her way. “Turns out I’m a great real estate agent. Something about being moderately attractive, clearly damaged, but still charming as hell that tends to reel people right in. And my kids play football down the street.”
Scully smiled softly at him and they each took a respective drink.
“It uh… it also helps when instead of being convicted of murder, the courts decide you’re just crazy instead,” Ed investigated his drink while speaking.
An oddly comfortable silence settled over them. The silence of strangers, really, but strangers who’d seen each other naked. Beyond a few drinks and odd confessions in bars and a tattoo parlor, they didn’t know each other at all.
But he’d seen her in pain and they’d slept together and then he’d burned half his arm off to save her and stop himself.
She’d seen the photograph of his kids, seen the cigarette burn of self-loathing punched through his own face.
A man who knew her by name but didn’t know enough about her to judge her past crimes. It was nice.
“Why’d you dye it?” he nodded towards her, and she could see his fingers scratch the top of the bar restlessly.
She shrugged. “Everyone’s running from something.”
He nodded and sipped his drink. “The brown’s nice. I liked the red, though.” Ed leveled a smile at her and shrugged.
What if, she thought. In a land where she hadn’t met Mulder. Hadn’t met and fallen for a man who was in love with a mistress he liked to call The Truth.
“You look good, Dana. Great, actually. Next one’s on me,” he shifted his attention to the bartender who nodded and shot Ed a less than sly wink.
They sat, drank, and talked. Ed was easy to talk to and it’d been a long time since she had an easy conversation; a conversation where every sentence wasn’t a reference to some past transgression or future infringement.
There was Ed the man, who she’d met in a tattoo parlor then had drinks and pretty great sex with. And there was Ed the X-file. It was easy enough for her to distinguish between the two. Scully had been both a person and an X-file herself, after all.
She hadn’t pressed charges, and the woman he’d killed had no family. Ed had been sent to rehabilitative care and was out in five years and off probation after the following one. He followed his kids to New Mexico, not his ex-wife, and he showed up to all their football games. His oldest son played tight-end for Eldorado High.
“He’s got a tentative offer from UNM,” Ed stated proudly, then sobered. “What about you, Dana?”
She sighed. “What about me?”
Ed lobbed a smile her way. God. This man had come a long way. Beaten back a few of his demons. He seemed… at peace. “Ever stop moving in that circle?”
Scully sucked in a breath then took a sip of her whiskey.
“Kids?” he plowed ahead. “Um… husband? Boyfriend?”
Scully closed her eyes and huffed out a laugh. Both. Neither. “Something like that.”
“Hmm,” Ed nodded contemplatively. “And yet, you’re still here, drinking alone in a shitty bar.”
She opened her eyes and leveled him. “So are you.”
“Well,” he looked away, “People dig scar stories usually, but not when they involve ergot poisoning, a dead body, and a battered woman.” He smiled wryly and shook his head.
Scully saw that innocent air Ed typically carried vanish when he turned back to face her and her curiosity got the best of her. His arm was right there, and she was used to Mulder, who endured her medical ministrations with ease. Whiskey-dulled, she didn’t think twice before reaching across the bar to grab at his hand and tug up his shirtsleeve.
“How did it-”
She sucked in a breath as Ed quickly turned his hand over to catch hers and pin it to the bar top.
He let go quickly and dropped his arm away. “Badly,” he said, anticipating her question. “The answer is it healed badly. Could have been worse. I could have been in prison instead of the looney bin when they treated me. I think I have you to thank for that.”
Embarrassed, Scully looked down at her drink.
“Hey,” she heard him say and he reached out to touch her arm. “I’m sorry it’s just still… It’s hard. People don’t understand who I am, anymore. I’m the same guy. Better in a lot of ways, but the scars, you know.”
Scully did know. “They stay with you the rest of your life.” She finally risked a glance his way and the eye contact took her back ten years, to another shitty bar in another filthy city.
The air shifted between them. Their wars may have been different, but the effects of trauma had been the same.
She wasn’t sure who moved first, but he was there suddenly and she found she’d met him halfway.
Scully cocked her head and Ed caught her bottom lip with his own, no teeth. Soft as could be. She pulled quickly from him with a quiet pop. He tasted the same he had over a decade ago.
Mulder was dark with a side of danger, but Ed had always tasted dark with a side of something trying to climb into the sunlight. Maybe it was the pine flavor of the gin.
Regardless, Scully stared, unfocused, as he quickly pulled back and stood up, “Sorry, I… Um,” Ed shuffled uncomfortably, “Bathroom. I’ll be right back.”
He was gone less than a minute before someone came up behind her and slapped a twenty down on the bar in front of her. She blinked and startled back quickly looking to the side, even as she caught the bartender coming up in her periphery.
“Uno mas?” the bartender sounded like he was underwater now, as she met his hooded gaze. Not Ed’s innocent blue eyes, but that shifting hazel she couldn’t pin down if she tried.
“Uno mas,” he said, not turning to look at the man pouring their drinks. “Next round’s on me.”
She refused to look away, sat up straighter as he stared her down.
“Having fun, Scully?”
Shit. Mulder hadn’t gone to Salt Lake, after all.
Time passed in moments… moments which, rushing past, define the path of a life just as surely as they lead towards its end.
Ed, lean and comfortable, returned from the bathroom with his green sweater sleeves pulled up to his elbows, black pants slung low on his hips. Pulled up briefly seeing Mulder, remembering the agent from the hospital.
Mulder, unamused and unwilling to introduce himself, handed Ed his gin and tonic with one hand and slid the six dollars in change the bartender’s way at the same time. He seemed to size Ed up in that pretentious way of his until Ed, naive to the ways of Mulder’s brand of judgement, stuck his hand out for a shake.
Time snapped back.
“Agent Mulder, nice to see you again.”
Mulder’s open hostility hadn’t gone completely unnoticed, and Ed seemed to instinctively move in closer to his one friend in the bar. Mulder quickly postured up to Ed and the men stood face to face as Mulder, never one to back away from his territory, bristled accordingly.
And Scully, never one to be claimed, lit a match and threw it into the kindling in front of her. “We should get out of here.”
Mulder pounded his drink, never taking his eyes off Ed. “We should.” He began to step away.
“All of us.”
Mulder and Ed both cut her a look. “What?” from both of them.
“C’mon, Mulder. We have whiskey on the cheap at the house. We should invite our friend over for a drink.”
Scully was pissed and she was antagonistic in that anger. Go with me or I’m gone, Scully. Leave with me or I might not come back. The truth is more important, but just this one time. I swear, never again. Mulder’s jealousy was convenient for him. The truth, an excuse he fell on like a knight on his sword.
She knew the way to snap Mulder back. He wasn’t the only person in their relationship that could draw a profile.
“All of us. C’mon Mulder, it’s rude not to offer a friend a drink.”
And that was how they ended up standing over a small kitchenette in their studio apartment, Ed Jerse in tow.
“Cheers. To a friend,” Mulder muttered, as he served up rounds, “that once attempted to murder you.”
Ed shrugged, amicable enough. “I served my time, Agent Mulder.”
“Mulder. Just Mulder.”
“I’ve put a lot of work into myself, Mulder. I know I fucked up. Bad. A woman is dead because of me.”
Mulder slammed Ed’s glass down on the table before shooting it his way. “Because you beat her to death like you planned to do my partner,” Mulder shifted his attention her way, “and honestly, Scully, I have no idea why we’re in the same room as this psychopath.”
“He any crazier than me, Mulder?” she asked. “Or you?”
Scully watched as Mulder flopped down into one of their folding chairs across their fourth-hand
excuse of a kitchenette table, and as he cocked his head to regard Ed thoughtfully.
Mulder could be downright mean when he was drinking, and she quickly realized tonight would not be an exception to that precedent.
“Let’s play a game, Ed,” Mulder smiled joylessly his way. “Never have I ever. Ever played that before?”
For his part, Ed remained agreeable and Scully couldn’t figure out why. Maybe they were both desperate to be treated like normal people for a change. “Sure. I’ve played a drinking game or two in my time.”
“Good. C’mon Scully,” Mulder didn’t look her way. “You can play too. I’ll start. Never have I ever thrown a woman in an incinerator.”
Ed huffed and nodded, then took a sip of the cheap whiskey they had on hand. “Fair enough.”
Why was he taking all of this in stride, she wondered? She’d had the vague feeling that Ed could be somewhat of a pushover when she met him the first time, but that feeling had disappeared the second he’d slammed her against the wall and shoved his tongue down her throat.
Guilty or not, he didn’t seem like a man that had trouble standing up for himself. And just like that, she watched as Ed got just tired enough of being pushed.
Ed smiled politely as he sat back in his chair. “Never have I ever pissed off a woman so badly she got drunk, got a tattoo, and fucked a stranger all in the same evening.”
Mulder blinked and gave his head a quick shake and cut a look at Scully, who shrugged. She wasn’t going to let him off the hook for that one.
“Fair enough,” Mulder snarled as he echoed Ed. He took a swig of his own drink.
She wasn’t going to bail either of them out. Suddenly she was enraged with them both. She was no one’s turf. Ed had no right to front with Mulder. Mulder, on the other hand, was plenty good at being interested in her when she’d caught someone else’s eye.
Sick of being a bystander, she jumped into the fray. “Never have I ever gotten a gotten a divorce.”
Both men turned to face her as if they’d forgotten she was there. Both men took a drink.
“This how it was back then, Scully?” Mulder slammed his glass down and stood, only slightly unsteady, as he advanced her way. “This all it takes? We have one bad fight and you go out and get a tattoo? Get fucked?”
“Hey,” Ed stood and moved like he was going to stand between them, but Mulder caught him with a stiff arm to his chest and checked him back.
“Stay out of this, Jerse.”
“Got a new tattoo I should know about, Scully?” Mulder kept at her. He could be a real prick when he was drunk and pissed off enough. “A new, or rather, reoccurring notch in that headboard of yours already?” He leaned down so they were nearly eye to eye. “Do I need to wear a rubber the next time we fuck?”
Scully cocked back and let loose, catching him across the face. It wasn’t the slap that caused Mulder’s next reaction though because she knew he expected it; had in fact probably pursued that purposefully. So, she pushed him one step further. “That would imply we still fuck.”
He moved into her fully then and pressed her up against the wall, catching her mouth with his in a bruising kiss.
He was off and away from her as quick as he’d come down on her, backing away. Mulder’s rage tended to ebb and flow, and she could tell that he was already horrified with himself.
They both hazarded a glance at Ed. The man had murdered a woman, after all. It would probably do them well to make sure they were at least aware of where he was in the apartment.
Ed was staring their way with an open mouth and wide eyes, an unmistakable erection filling the front of his pants.
And unless Mulder’s penis had gained the magic ability to quickly repurpose blood from itself back into his brain, then her mess of a partner was standing just out of her line of sight with his own serious wood.
Scully burst out with a sharp laugh. Then another. She began to laugh so hard that there were tears falling as she tried to pull herself together.
There was a brief silence, but Mulder spoke first, cautious but seeming to catch her mood.
“Two disenfranchised cops and a murder walk into bar, eh?”
She covered her mouth and nodded, regaining enough composure to look up at her partner and ask from behind her hand, “Which one of them is the crazy one?”
Ed sat his drink down and moved to put on his jacket. “The answer is all three of them but you two take the fucking cake, you know that? I’m getting the fuck out of here.”
Scully and Mulder held onto each other’s gaze, and she shook her head in a quick in a little movement that only Mulder saw and only Mulder would understand.
He nodded back, nearly imperceptibly.
“No, Ed. You’re not.”
Ed drew up and looked at Mulder incredulously. “Why the hell would I stay? You guys are
Mulder finally broke from her spell and leveled his gaze at Ed. “You’re staying because we both owe her one, Ed. And it’s time to pay penance.”
Ed swallowed uneasily as he answered, “Yeah, how?”
Ed hadn’t noticed Scully had moved in on him and startled at her voice. “C’mon Ed. You’re a smart guy. Figure it out.”
And with that, she bunched her fist in his shirt and pulled him down, and then Dana Scully devoured his mouth.
In 1982, Dana Scully, apple of her father’s eye, got in her first truly relationship-shattering fight with him when she decided that the University of Maryland seemed like a great spot for her to study physics and then pipeline into medicine. Stanford had been the school he wanted her to attend, since the family remained stationed in San Diego and it was close enough that she still fell somewhat under his span of control. Her mother, similarly perturbed, hadn’t come to her defense, and the window-rattling fight ended with Dana storming out and slamming the door behind her.
Bill Jr. was at the Academy, so she had free reign of his Oldsmobile 442, which she used to her full advantage. On that particular day in 1982, Dana drove the car like she stole it, and made it to Marcus McElroy’s house in record time. Marcus in tow, she drove as far away as she could get them on half a tank, pulled over to a rest stop, and lost her virginity on the backseat of Billy’s car.
She was too young and too dumb at the time to realize that should have been a warning sign.
Five years later, a fight with Daniel Waterston would send her straight into her college roommate’s pants – an experience which would much later apparently serve as a fun little fantasy for one Fox Mulder to beat off to when trying to escape despair in a trailer in New Mexico with his partner and son waiting on him in Washington.
Much later, Jack Willis would betray her trust by telling her, after a romantic birthday weekend, that he wasn’t going to recommend her for field agent status because he didn’t really think women had a place in the field. He was, after all, just trying to protect her.
Dana went to a dive bar a few blocks from her new apartment and proceeded to get completely hammered, picking up a very interested journeyman reporter in the process. She hadn’t counted on one night of fairly tame sex turning into a relationship, but Ethan somehow made himself stick.
The relationship began to fizzle the day Dana took an elevator down to the bewitched basement office filled with Mulder’s ghouls and ghosts and died the day after she came back from Bellefleur.
Mulder was fascinating, to say the least, and he unsettled her, but she found that she liked it. She had fought her whole life to remain unpossessed by men, but this man, with his lost little sister and shattered family and monsters dancing in his brain, completely captivated her.
She recognized early on in their partnership that he was fiercely territorial of her. What truly disarmed her was how territorial she was of him, and how much that scared her. Mulder knew about Ed, but what he didn’t know, and what he’d never know if she could help it, was that there was a small list of men who had benefited from his occasional failure to pay sacrifice to the altar of Dana Scully.
For example, there was a man whose name she couldn’t remember that probably had a few very fond memories of fucking a redhead in a Georgetown alleyway. That night, Scully had gotten off the elevator to the office and heard Diana’s laugh ringing out from the open door.
Her love life with Mulder prior to going on the run had been anything but tame. It had been surprisingly fun in its early stages – full of laughing and playing and fucking. Once they acknowledged what they were to each other, it was astonishingly easy to be secure.
For Scully, it was finally easy to open up about her fantasies. She knew there would be no judgement from Mulder, who wouldn’t have been one to talk anyway, with his drawers full of tapes that weren’t his.
For Mulder’s part, it had finally been easy to open up to someone about some of his own fantasies and the demons that haunted them.
His relationship with Phoebe had burned him badly, but Scully was the balm he needed to acknowledge that yes, he was in fact a little on the freaky side, and that was in fact, just fine.
Particularly because his hot little redheaded partner was just as freaky as him.
They had just about six months together before he was taken, and Scully had never had so much fun sexually in her entire life. It was a time of exploration and mutual adoration. A time when making love easily segued into playful fucking. When small kinks were discussed in the shelter of each other’s bedrooms at night. When things like handcuffs or blindfolds were mentioned without so much as a blush.
A place where, buzzed off his ass, Mulder shocked them both one night by asking, “Scully, would you ever have a threesome?”
“A what?” she had been fairly intoxicated as well, sprawled across his chest, boneless, with sweat cooling across her back.
“Do you want to have a threesome?” she had asked, snorting in laughter before adding, “Mulder, we’re too old to be having this conversation. Threesomes are for frat boys and sorority sisters.”
He smiled at her because he loved any time she considered that she would be around in the future with him, still gracing his bed and his life with her presence. “I would beg to differ, actually.”
She’d remembered thinking they had to argue, even damn near drunk and lounging in a bed that positively reeked of sex. “Oh really?”
“Think about it; college is actually when it might be the worst idea to have a threesome. I mean, unless it’s a spontaneous one. You’re still insecure in college. Still kinda trying to find your way. C’mon Scully, how many of your friends are still together with their high school and college sweethearts?”
She had smiled indulgently at him and ran a finger down his nose. “We don’t have friends, Mulder.”
He’d grinned back and pulled her up with him against her headboard, arranged her so she was sitting with her back to him in the vee of his legs. “I’m just saying, if I were gonna have a threesome with anyone, it’d be with you.”
“Thanks,” she’d replied, dryly.
“No, I’m serious Scully,” and his voice took on the same tone it did when he tried to convince her of the existence of whatever the cryptid of the week was. “I’m not saying I want to have one, I just… if I did, you’re the first person I’d ever feel comfortable enough to do it with. Let’s be honest, you know just as well as I do that women, in general, are far more gorgeous than men.”
“No argument there,” she had granted him. By then, he already knew of her foray with her roommate.
“I just,” he had sighed, and taken on that sound of whimsy he developed when he was waxing poetic. “I just think there’d be almost nothing in the world more beautiful than seeing you go down on another woman. Seeing her reciprocate. Fuck, I’m getting hard again just thinking about it.”
“Mmm, I noticed,” she had pressed herself back against him. “You wouldn’t get jealous?”
It was his turn to snort incredulously. “That’s what I’m saying, Scully. You’re the only person I’d ever think about doing something like that with because I know you’re mine. I’m… finally secure in the fact that I’m yours. You understand? I know you’re not going to go running off with the third person, just like you know I’m not running off with her either.”
By this point, Scully had turned around and straddled him, kissing him sloppily while she started a slow grind astride his hips. “I know that, huh? I dunno, Mulder. I have,” kiss, “quite the jealous streak.”
His eyes took on a glint as he grinned at her. “Mmm. Yes, but you see, that’s the other fun part of it. For me at least.”
She had come to a stop and stared at him. “Alright, I’ll bite. In this hypothetical scenario of yours, why on earth would making me jealous be of any benefit to you.”
“Because,” he kissed her, “once I finally got involved, I’d reap the next forty minutes of you blowing my mind by doing what you always do – sizing up the competition, slaughtering it, and marking your territory.”
“Forty minutes, huh? You sure give yourself a lot of credit, Mulder,” she had murmured as she kissed her way down the plane of his chest and slope of his stomach. “As for marking my territory,” she had nipped the inside of his thigh and delighted as his little yelp turned into a gasping breath when she turned and licked a long, narrow trail up the side of his shaft. “I’ll think I’ll do a little of that right now.”
Mulder had no further words.
Later, though, as they were both coming down from round two, she’d acquiesced. “I can see what you’re saying, Mulder. There’s a lot of trust involved in something like a threesome when you’re in a committed… partnership.”
“Mmm.” He had been post-coitus stupid and soaked in fluid and lethargy.
“But if we ever decide to do it, I have one condition.”
“Only one, huh?” he perked up slightly. He hadn’t really even seriously considered it, but he was caught off guard that she was talking like it was a possibility
“Give a little, get a little Mulder. Quid pro quo.”
At that he had sat straight up. “You can’t possibly mean what I think you mean.” That was absolutely the stuff of the videos stashed away in his closet. Those videos were too dirty to even put in the bottom drawer. And though Fox Mulder was absolutely territorial and absolutely had a jealous streak –
Scully had patted him on the chest. “C’mon Mulder. You’re not the only one that can write a profile in this relationship. If there’s one thing I know about you, it’s this. You like to watch.”
In the winter of 2006, a shitty full-size mattress and box spring had replaced the shitty air mattress in Mulder and Scully’s shitty Albuquerque apartment. Mulder realized now that she had thought that meant they were staying for a while. He supposed the pickup truck he bought with a camper top and long bed wasn’t a big enough clue.
In hindsight, he’d miscalculated her desire to actually take a few months to settle. He’d known she was hanging onto the ledge of something, but he’d figured it was the ledge to a small drop they could recover easily from.
Turned out… that small drop was a damn cliff and that little shove had led them to here: a man that bore striking resemblance to him being manhandled by her towards their mattress. He watched as Scully tangled up with Ed’s tongue, and he watched it all go down with the stiffest erection he could remember having, possibly ever.
A voyeur, indeed. Scully really hit that nail on the head.
“What do you want, Mulder?” she asked, as she pulled her mouth from Ed, who was too stunned to do much of anything by this point.
“What do I want?” Mulder began to move forward then, his voice all gravel and growl. “This is about what you want, isn’t it Scully?”
“I want to be the most important thing in this room,” she said.
Mulder had been a little surprised the first time she ordered him around in the bedroom. In retrospect, he shouldn’t have been. They were both exceedingly capable of playing the dominant role, as aggressive in bed as they were with anything else in their partnership.
Mulder nodded and looked over at Jerse. “And you? Do you think she’s getting what she wants right now? With you just standing there like a teenager at his first titty bar?”
Ed recovered enough power of speech to start in with, “What the fuck-” before Mulder cut him off. “Kiss the woman, for fuck’s sake, Ed.”
Ed’s expression shifted from confusion to comprehension.
And quickly from comprehension to the realization that he had a beautiful woman standing in front of him with gorgeous tits that were currently heaving with the effort of playing a round of tonsil hockey with him.
Ed stepped back into her then, and ran a hand through her hair, clenching a fist to hold her still but not pulling, and finally brought his mouth back down to Scully’s.
It was what he’d imagine, when he’d cave into desire and close his eyes and picture her with someone – anyone -- but him. Someone like him, he would occasionally allow. Dark hair, same build maybe. But never him.
The mattress and box spring were tucked up against one wall of the studio, and they’d hauled in a small, crappy love seat to complete the look. Mulder perched on the back of that love seat now, his erection tucked painfully tight down the seam of his pants. He reached down briefly and brought himself up and into his waistband instead, then dropped his shirt back down and refrained from touching further.
He needed to last. The last fucking thing that was going to happen tonight was going to be him outpaced by Ed Fucking Jerse.
Across from him, Ed began to move his lips down Scully’s jaw and neck line, putting his tongue to liberal use while he brought his other hand to action, clutching her rib cage and squeezing before moving up to palm her breast and run his thumb along the edge of her nipple.
Scully moved to divest Ed of his sweater, and as he dropped to his knees she pulled up the hem of her own so he could nip and lick at her belly. If Ed noticed the new-to-him scar on her stomach, he wisely made no mention of it, but he swirled his tongue around her belly button then nipped a little of the skin there and tugged.
Scully sucked in a shaky breath and moved to take her own sweater off, tossing it behind her, where it smacked the wall and slid down next to Ed’s.
Mulder allowed himself to take in the sight. Her clothes next to another man’s, and not his.
Ed moved a hand up her back, unsnapping and making quick work of her bra. Situated as he was, raised up on both knees, he was perfectly eye level with her breasts. He moved in and placed an open, sloppy kiss on the inside of her right one, and then did the same on her left side, and when he turned, he locked eyes with Mulder.
“This what you want, Mulder?” he asked, then flattened his tongue out to lick up the valley of her tits. “You want another man with his mouth all over your girlfriend?” Ed raked his tongue up and down her nipple before nipping and pulling, giving her a tug.
Alright. That was enough.
Mulder stood, predatory, and stalked towards them while ridding himself of his own shirt. He stood behind her and while Ed continued seeing to her front, Mulder began to tend to her back, moving her hair aside and taking a second to run his tongue over the whorls of her ear before placing a soft kiss on the back of her neck, then dropping to his own knees and mirroring Ed.
Mulder skimmed his hands down her flanks and then up the inside of her thighs before heading north, reaching around and unbuttoning her jeans, giving them a tug. As her pants came down, Mulder leaned to the small of her back and traced the ouroboros with his tongue.
He ran his right hand back up the inside of her thigh and groaned when he met the juncture at her groin. God dammit. She was fucking soaked, straight through her panties.
She moaned as she felt him discover her.
“This turning you on, Scully?” he said, as he brought her panties down as well. “It must feel like there are hands everywhere, doesn’t it? Tongues?” he licked a narrow trail up the valley of her spine. Mulder rubbed his middle finger down the crack of her ass until he got to her from behind and wasted no time or pretense before sinking his entire digit into her. “Fingers?”
“Jesus Christ,” she gasped, and both he and Ed answered back with similar moans.
Mulder slicked his finger out of her and further back, putting just enough pressure on her asshole to sink the tip of his middle finger in.
“Touch her, Ed,” Mulder groaned, for the moment unselfish. “Feel what we’re doing to her.”
Ed, as lust-drunk as they were by this point, obliged, sliding his own hand up her thigh and thrusting against her with his index and middle finger.
“Oh fuck,” the other man gasped. “Jesus, Dana, you’re so fucking wet.”
Scully finally found her voice as she pushed at Ed’s shoulders. “Lay back. Lay back on the mattress,” she ordered him.
Ed willingly complied.
Scully now fell to her knees and against Mulder, who pressed up against her, belly to back. He took over Ed’s previous mission and set about massaging her tits and running his fingers back and around her nipples.
“Take,” she gasped then kept speaking, “off your pants, Ed.”
He quickly rid himself of his jeans and everything else and lay back, watching them with his head propped on his arm, blue eyes darkened by lust.
Mulder rutted himself shamelessly against Scully’s ass then watched over her shoulder as Ed ran his tongue along his hand then moved to stroke himself.
Mulder had to admit, the guy in front of him was objectively gorgeous, even with the bright pink scars that roped up and down along his arm. Mulder couldn’t fault him those, either. All three of them were war-torn, and those scars of Ed’s had been directly responsible for making sure Scully got back to him in one piece.
Mulder had some bulk on him through the shoulders and torso, but Jerse was otherwise ripped to shreds. He had Mulder by a little in the length department too, height and otherwise, but Mulder had never been into measuring dicks. Women liked his and that was enough for him.
“Go ahead, Scully,” Mulder commanded, giving her permission for a question she hadn’t asked.
“I know you want to. Go down on the man. Watch those teeth, though.”
“Fuck,” Ed whispered, slack-jawed with arousal. Scully dropped to all fours and moved forward, crooking a finger and motioning for Ed to move down so he was closer to the edge of the bed.
Mulder took a minute to admire the way those blow job lips of hers looked from this angle, wrapped around Ed’s cock, and decided they definitely needed to get a camera and some home movies going after this. He spit in his palm and began to fist himself, watching as Ed’s head fell back and the other man sucked in a breath as she began.
Mulder moved in then, dropping back down to his knees and positioning himself behind Scully in the vee of Ed’s outstretched legs. “Behind you,” he cautioned, even though he was sure she could feel him. This was way too hot to cut short by having her accidently bite into Ed’s dick, though Mulder wasn’t personally opposed to the idea in different circumstances.
He grabbed his cock and pushed the head of himself into her, then pulled out, running the wetness back and forth, slicking her around her pussy and over her clit. He slid himself up to her ass and performed the same maneuver, not pressing in but just lubing everywhere he could with her own moisture.
It was surreal, hearing another man’s sounds and watching her head bobbing up and down as he made his initial thrust against her pussy, gaining entry to his first few inches. He put a hand between her shoulder blades to steady himself and withdrew almost all the way before he hammered into her, shoving her further down onto Ed’s cock, soliciting a quick, tight gag.
“Sorry,” he mumbled but God help him if he didn’t get even harder.
As in everything, they moved together and quickly found a unison that seemed to work. He moved his other hand around her and began to finger her, setting up a relentless rhythm over the hood of her clit. The sounds in the room were unbelievable. The wet resonance of her sucking a man’s cock, but also the slap coming from her and Mulder as he fucked her.
Jesus. It was sensory overload.
“Stop, stop,” he heard Ed and looked up as the other man slowed Dana down, and with a gentle hand in her hair, pulled her off. “It’s too much, I just… I just want to watch for a second.”
Ed pulled back and sat up on the mattress, watching as Mulder obliged, pulling Scully back against him and turning them so Ed had a profile view. “You like this, Ed?” Mulder growled as he sat back on his haunches and set up a short, punishing pound into her. Every few thrusts, he’d pause and say something else to Ed while leaving himself augered in her. “Want to be fucking this pussy, Ed?” or “You remember how fucking tight she is?”
Scully cried out at that one, and slammed herself down into Mulder’s lap, holding herself there as she came hard around him, gripping him like a vice.
Mulder ground his teeth, fighting his entire body to fend off coming, and once he felt her begin to slow, he pushed her forward and jerked himself away.
He stood and moved over to their lone night stand, gasping and working himself in long, slow strokes. He pulled open the drawer and grabbed a tin packet and small bottle of lube. Still huffing, he moved back to the bed and tossed the condom down near Ed’s hip and the bottle over by Scully, who’d recovered enough to be sitting up on her knees.
“What’s that?” she nodded over at the condom near Ed, who was looking at the packet with a similar question in his eyes.
“He’s going to put that on. You’re going to lube up with that. And then I’m going to watch him fuck your ass.”
Anal, for Scully, was one of life’s greater sexual pleasures.
Good Catholics prioritized things in their life. Premarital sex and anal were both things her religion prohibited, and while she obviously paid no heed these days, back when she was still a virgin she figured if she had to choose, it was more important to save herself for marriage than to avoid the back door.
Marcus may have taken her virginity in the back seat of a car when she used him to fuck away her anger, but he’d gotten a finger or two up her ass long before he got his penis in her vagina.
With Mulder, it was even easier to indulge. She trusted him above all others, so when he’d found a small plug while snooping through her lingerie drawer and threw her a questioning glance combined with raised eyebrows and a cocky grin, she’d merely shrugged and thrown the eyebrow right back his way and got out the lube.
The first time he’d slid home in her pussy while she wore the plug? Scully damn near passed out, she came so hard.
“Oh my God,” Ed’s moan and the rip of the foil packet brought her back to the present day.
“Scully?” Mulder said, and she looked back over at him.
“Hmm?” she felt dazed, in a haze of lust and satiation and a reflash of arousal at the thought of Ed fucking her ass.
“The lube,” Mulder ordered her again.
“Oh,” she came back to herself and grabbed the bottle, spreading it across her palm and then down around her backside, beginning to work it in to her asshole.
She locked eyes with Mulder while she did this, watching as he continued a slow pump of himself. She knew exactly what he was doing. He wasn’t going to let himself come before Ed did so he’d had to back off and edge himself.
As an added plus, she was delighted to realize she’d been right all those years ago. The man loved to watch.
Scully gave him a small smile that she knew screamed, “Toldja, big guy,” and winked at him before standing to move to the mattress.
The wink earned her a soft little moan from Mulder.
She moved between the vee of Ed’s legs and started to go down into doggie, but Mulder stopped her short with an “Uh-uh,” and a shake of his head.
“You stay where you are, Ed,” he instructed. “I meant it when I said I’m going to watch,” he talked to Scully like he was scolding her, and she had the brief urge to say something ridiculous like, “I’m sorry, sir.”
She finally caught his meaning, though, and her eyes widened even as Mulder nodded. “You know what I want.”
She nodded her agreement back. She did know.
She moved back over Ed’s legs, this time astride him, and maneuvered his legs closer together with her own. Then she swiveled around so both her and Ed were facing Mulder, with Ed’s back propped against the wall.
When Ed realized what she was doing, she heard him suck in a breath before saying, “Oh my fucking-”
That was all he could get out before she began, with her legs bracketing his, to ease herself down over the tip of his cock. She closed her eyes for a moment as Ed penetrated her, and once she felt herself lock around the head of his penis, she paused, taking a minute to breathe and relax.
“Open your eyes,” Mulder compelled her, and she forced herself to obey.
It was incredibly erotic, almost an out of body experience, doing this with another man while her lover watched from across the room and stroked himself to it. Mulder’s hair was wild, and with his darkened stubble and the feral glint in his eyes, he looked positively chaotic - her very own mad professor.
She didn’t break his gaze again as she started to ride Ed in shallow thrusts, working him slowly into her ass.
Ed had dissolved into a steady stream of grunts and groans and so help her God, if he came before she even got a chance to feel him fully, she was going to rip him to shreds.
“Don’t you dare come, Ed,” Mulder spoke to the other man, reading her mind.
Finally, ahhh finally, she seated herself fully onto him, and now her ass rested firmly in the cradle of Ed’s hips.
Mulder allowed her a minute to catch her breath, but only a minute. “What are you waiting for Dana? Move.”
“Oh my God,” Scully moaned, as she began a slow pump.
Still with it enough to realize the position she was in, Ed finally responded by spanning the arch of her stomach and rib cage with his hands and slowly thrusting back against her as they set up a rolling motion that was driving her mad. He moved one hand down the front of her hips and slicked his fingers up and down her labia before using his middle finger to duplicate the same grind Mulder had set up on her minutes before.
“Oh, that’s good, you bastard,” Mulder had to smile in amusement. “You’re a quick learner, Ed. I can appreciate that. Can’t you, Scully?”
“Ahh,” she couldn’t believe that he was trying to talk to her. She felt Ed move one arm fully around her waist to support her as he began to slowly speed up his pace.
“That’s not an answer, Scully.”
“God,” she forced out. “Yes, Mulder. I can, ah-” Ed bucked up, then held for a moment, clearly fighting back an orgasm. “I can appreciate that.”
She and Ed sat there, waiting, and it then that it occurred to her that she was wide open for Mulder. He could see everything. Her pussy, her ass, Ed’s cock filling her up.
“Jesus,” she groaned and felt herself clinch, right back on the edge.
She looked up and saw Mulder staring past her, at Ed. Mulder cocked his head to the side and she felt Ed as whatever Mulder seemed to be requested clicked, and he nodded in understanding.
Ed wrapped his other arm around her, and with surprising gentleness, rotated them off the wall and down flat onto the mattress, so she lay on her back atop him. His knees were bent, as were hers outside his thighs, and as Mulder came around to the foot of the bed, Ed spread her legs even wider and set up a shallow, grinding rhythm as he moved his hand back to her clitoris.
“Jesus Christ,” she heard Mulder groan. “Jesus,” he repeated and then she felt a dip as Mulder rested a knee on the mattress and leaned in for a closer look. She could hear the sticky slap of her ass and Ed’s hips, but Mulder had to have used some of the lube on himself because the steady fap of him jerking himself had gotten louder as well.
She heard Mulder pause and then felt the warmth of his breath on her as Ed’s hand left her to move up to her breast, where he cupped her and teased her nipple. Ed stilled the pump of his hips.
There was a snap of anticipation hanging in the air, the kind of feeling one got standing in a field during a lightning storm.
Her ass tightened down on Ed’s cock, and Mulder simultaneously slid one finger into her at the same time as he made his first pass over her clit with his tongue.
“Oh, my fucking God!” Scully slammed her eyes shut and saw stars as she exploded.
And that was how Mulder timed it. He withdrew his finger and raised up on his knees, then angled his cock down at her and nudged the swollen head in, groaning in time with her as she clamped down on him.
Each time she relaxed out of a contraction he pushed a little further.
Ed had moved his hand all the way up to her shoulders now, and she could feel his fingers and thumb digging into the muscles there, helping her relax as she finally started to come down. By the time she was even cognizant enough to realize what was happening, Mulder was already hip deep.
“Oh, my fucking God, Mulder,” she repeated.
Mulder held his hips still, coming down on his hands over her and crushing her mouth in a bruising kiss. Then he pulled off to lick and suck his way down her clavicles, breasts, and belly, keeping a steady stream of nearly nonsensical dialogue flowing, “Fuckin’ fuck Scully dammit you’re so fuckin’… god dammit you’re incredible? So fucking… so tight Jesus Christ, so fucking, ah-”
If felt like her whole existence was clit and tit and cock. She felt like the slightest thing could send her back over the edge. And just when she thought she felt as full and tight and aroused as she’d ever been, Mulder started to move.
He’d never felt anything like this in his entire life.
He was so wrapped up in how just damn wet and tight she was that he didn’t even register the slight contact he was making with Ed every time he sacked himself against her.
All Mulder felt was pure, wet heat. It felt like his entire body was covered with it, as sweat began to bead off him and drop down onto her. He was dripping with the effort of holding himself back, knowing he couldn’t set up a normal pace with her like this. He knew the angle he was at had to be driving her mad because he was riding the ridge of his penis up and down her clit with every single soaked stroke.
They were a jumbled mess of steady moans now, and Mulder couldn’t tell what sound was coming from who, but Ed finally cut through the haze, tapping at Mulder’s shoulder blade from underneath himself and Scully. “Mulder, I can’t… Mulder, I gotta… I gotta…”
He couldn’t get the words out and Mulder knew how he felt so instead of verbalizing anything he grunted that he understood and paused long enough to roll to his side, taking Scully with him and off Ed.
“Shit, shit shit shit,” he heard Ed distantly, through an aural fog, as the other man came.
Mulder set up for broke now, yanking Scully’s leg up along his side and setting a punishing pace.
They’d been using condoms since starting to have sex again, along with birth control when they could get it, but Mulder didn’t care at that moment.
Scully was his, god dammit. His. And he was going to mark her as such.
“Yeah, you fucking loved that, didn’t you, Scully,” he started talking as he kept his pace, breathing like he’d just come through the end of a 400-meter dash, “Fucking love to be fucked, don’t you? You’re so fucking dirty, damn I fucking love it. I love that you’re like that for me, baby, fucking love it.”
He barely even knew what he was saying, but it must have worked because she let another stream of obscenities go and was tightening up on him again.
Mulder would refuse to analyze later why he did what he did, because the sheer territorial rage that flowed through him was frankly alarming when sober and outside the microcosm of seriously dirty sex. But he opened his eyes and saw Ed over her shoulder in post orgasmic awe, watching them, and it settled Mulder in to a slow, brutal pump as he finally felt himself begin to slip over the edge.
“You love it too, don’t you Ed. You loved this tonight, seeing what you could have had. But guess what, Ed? You’re never gonna have this, you know why? She’s mine. Mine, you fucking asshole,” and just like that, with her still coming all over his cock, he reached over and grabbed Ed’s good hand by the index and middle finger, yanking the man to where he and Scully were joined, and threading Ed’s fingers into her alongside his own dick.
Ed’s eyes widened and if possible, his pupils dilated even wider.
“Ah!” Mulder erupted in a final, hoarse shout as his balls pulled up and he pulsed into her, cum flooding around his cock and he was sure all over Ed’s fingers. “You feel that, Ed? Mine,” he ground out as he gave one more short, brutal thrust.
Scully groaned, guttural, and collapsed onto her back with her eyes closed while Mulder fell to his chest, half on top of her and half on the mattress, arms out to the side.
Ed was still staring at the two of them, but rather than wild-eyed, he now somehow looked almost… the best descriptor Mulder had was serene.
The stillness of late evening into early morning began to slowly settle around them as their breathing began to slow.
What happened next would stick with Mulder for the rest of his life.
He was watching Ed with heavy eyes when the other man glanced down at his hand. Ed huffed a huffed a soft laugh then raised his gaze back up at Mulder as he brought his hand to his mouth and licked off Mulder’s cum.
Mulder, still breathing heavy, shook his head as if clearing cobwebs, then as Ed stood and moved past him to the restroom, he relaxed fully down against Scully.
What the hell had that been?
He moved over her and kissed her on the corner of her mouth innocently and in odd contrast compared to what had just gone down. “I need a minute,” he mumbled, and she nodded, her eyes still closed. He kissed her softly one more time, and her lack of response almost concerned him, but then she finally lifted her head and kissed him back.
“Go,” she said and granted him a small smile as her breath began to calm.
Convinced she was alright, Mulder stood and pulled his pants on then stumbled out onto their patio. He opened their mailbox and pulled out a pack of cigarettes tucked inside.
He and Scully didn’t smoke often, but it was a concession they’d started to make every now and then on the run - trying to take advantage of life’s simpler means of enjoyment. They’d beat abductions and cancer. Cigarettes weren’t going to kill them.
He perched on the top step and lit one up after packing the box. Inhaled and closed his eyes.
All around him, the crickets raised a desert symphony.
He didn’t even start as the door behind him opened and closed. He had a feeling he knew who it’d be.
Ed sat down next to him, leaving about six inches between them.
“You guys are fucking crazy, you know that?”
Mulder smiled humorlessly. “So, I’ve been told,” he said as he took a drag and slowly let it out.
“Mulder, I know I don’t need to tell you this, but that woman in there is incredible.”
Mulder nodded, choosing not to respond.
“And, I may not have a college degree, but I can read people. I can tell, for example, that you’re not exactly receptive to being lectured by someone like me about your relationship with your girlfriend.”
“Partner,” he corrected automatically and took another pull.
Ed plowed ahead. “But I can tell you one thing, man. And it’s something you already know, but maybe you need to hear it from someone else, and considering I’ve cosmically ended up as your guys’ landing spot to bang out your relationship drama, it might as well be me.”
At that, Mulder finally turned and looked Ed’s way.
“You gotta get your shit together, man.”
Ed’s expression was too earnest for Mulder to even get his hackles raised, so instead he closed his eyes and actually laughed.
“Tell me something I don’t know, Ed.”
Ed studied him for a minute, then gave him a smile that Mulder could only describe as gentle.
“Alright,” Ed reached over and plucked the cigarette out of Mulder’s hand, taking his own deep drag. He seemed to consider his next words carefully before forging ahead with them, “You should start seeing what she sees in you, instead of what you think everyone else sees. Maybe if you did, you’d finally decide that maybe, just maybe, you’re worth it too.”
Mulder was so shocked by the earnest sentiment and how everything seemed to have gone quiet around him that it never even occurred to him to move as Ed tilted his head and leaned in.
Ed’s lips landed softly across his, open mouthed, yet chaste.
Ed pulled back, reached up, and patted Mulder’s cheek before handing him the cigarette back. He stood and turned, walking the final two steps to the sidewalk. Midway down the path from the apartment he turned and looked at Mulder. “And one more thing. You guys gotta stop smoking. That shit’ll kill ya.”
Mulder stared down the path long after Ed’s form faded, all the way until the ashy end of the cigarette burned down far enough to singe his fingers.
He hissed and dropped it, subconsciously licking his lips. He tasted himself, the same way Ed must have tasted him. He crushed the cigarette butt and headed back inside.