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A Slightly Different Path

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The book slammed down onto the desk with a heavy thud. It registered to him, but only insomuch that he realized he had slid down in his chair and needed to readjust his positioning. He looked over the top of the book and saw Scully. He offered her no words as he pulled himself up into a more comfortable position. 

He saw her in his peripheral, standing up on the desk and looking up through the basement windows. He paid her no attention, but continued to read the book in front of him. 

“Mulder, it is such a gorgeous day outside,” she said with longing. “Do you ever entertain the idea of trying to find life on this planet?” 

“I have seen the life on this planet, Scully, and that is exactly why I am looking elsewhere,” he said, as he turned the page in the book. A crinkling sound got his attention, and he looked over to see Scully taking an ice cream from a brown paper bag, opening it, and taking a bite. 

“Did you bring enough ice cream to share with the rest of the class?” he asked with disbelief as she seemed to have forgotten about him. 

“It's not ice cream,” she said smugly, as though she had bested him. “It's a nonfat tofutti rice dreamsicle.”

“Ugh. Bet the air in my mouth tastes better than that,” he said, with a disgusted face. “You sure know how to live it up, Scully.”

“Oh, you're Mr. Live-it-up,” Scully said as she started to step down off the desk. “Mulder, you're really Mr. “Squeeze every last drop out of this sweet life,” aren’t you?  On this precious Saturday you've got us grabbing life by the testes, stealing reference books from the FBI library in order to go through New Mexico newspaper obituaries for the years 1940 to 1949. And for what joyful purpose?” She stopped speaking and her words amused and aroused him.

“Looking for anomalies, Scully. Do you know how many so-called "flying disc" reports there were in New Mexico in the 1940s?” Ready to tell her, she interrupted him. 

“I don't care. Mulder, this is a needle in a haystack. These poor souls have been dead for 50 years. Let them rest in peace. Let sleeping dogs lie,” she said, and he could hear her silent challenge. 

“Well, I won't sit idly by as you hurl cliches at me. Preparation is the father of inspiration,” he said, throwing it back at her. 

“Necessity is the mother of invention.”

“The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom.”

“Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we may die,” she said, with a mischievous smile as she took another bite. 

“I scream, you scream, we all scream for nonfat tofutti rice dreamsicles,” he said, setting the book down and lunging for the cone. He grabbed her arm and held it as he took a bite. 

“No-ho-ho-ho-ho-ho!” Scully yelled, with laughter in her voice. “Mulder!” The cone broke and fell onto the page of the book as they tussled with it. 

“Mulder!? You cheat,” she said, looking at him with a smile, as she licked the remnants of the dreamsicle off her fingers. “I can't believe that you've been reading about baseball this whole time.” 

“Reading the box scores, Scully. You'd like it. It's like the Pythagorean Theorem for jocks. It distills all the chaos and action of any game in the history of all baseball games into one tiny, perfect, rectangular sequence of numbers,” he told her, trying to explain his fascination to her; to share his passion for something he had loved for so long. “I can look at this box and I can recreate exactly what happened on some sunny summer day back in 1947. It's like the numbers talk to me, they comfort me. They tell me that even though lots of things can change, some things do remain the same. It's...


“Boring? How can you say that? Here, look,” he said, quickly wiping off the book and going back a few pages, to one he had been reading a few minutes ago. “Ah, here it is. Look right here. See the runs, hits, the score. Inning 3 was exceptionally interesting. And it went to extra innings. That’s always exciting. Plus, you know it was more … scrappy back then, so I’m sure some kind of fist fight broke out during the course of the game.” He looked at the box score again and he smiled. He could almost smell the grass and feel the heat of the sun on his skin as he watched the game in his mind. 

“So,” Scully said beside him, bringing him back to the present in their air conditioned basement office that smelled of … well, Scully, if he was being honest. He could smell her above anything else, especially standing as close as he was now. “So … I’ve been up and down many flights of stairs, lugging those huge books around, while you’ve been sitting here reading about baseball? Imagining some sunny day as you ate popcorn and watched men hitting balls with sticks? Am I understanding that properly?” Her eyebrows were up and he knew he was in trouble. 

“Not the whole time,” he said, and if it was possible her eyebrows went up higher. “Really, Scully, I was looking for anomalies. I am looking for them.” 

“Buuut …” she drawled out. 

He sighed and dropped his head. “I was also looking at box scores.” 

“While I …” she prompted. 

“Carried large and heavy books up and down the stairs,” he said as he looked up at her. She nodded, a smile spreading across her lips before her tongue ran across them. He moaned internally as he watched her, wondering how her lips would taste. 

“So,” she said again, stepping away from him and gesturing with her arm for him to walk ahead of her. “You’ve not only made me do most of the work, on a Saturday, in a business suit, but broken up my tofutti rice dreamsicle. You owe me a new one, so let’s do it, Baseball Boy.” She waved her hand again and stared at him, her eyebrows way up. He narrowed his eyes at her and shook his head. She snapped her fingers and pointed, causing him to sigh. 

“Fine,” he said, stepping past her and grabbing his jacket off the coat rack. “But we’re getting real ice cream, because that tofutti shit is awful. I think the air in my mouth actually tastes worse now. How do you eat those? Ugh.” 

“Well, I didn’t really get to eat much of it as you so kindly wrestled it out of my hand,” she snorted, as they walked out the door and she closed and locked it behind her. He nodded at the janitor and heard her say hello again as they made their way to the stairs. 

“Well,” he said, as they then walked to the elevator and he pushed the up button. “I did you a favor then, because that was disgusting and you should never eat it again. Ever.” She smiled at him and once again licked her lips, making him exhale loudly and wish the elevator would hurry the hell up. 

Two elevator rides later, they walked into the parking garage and over to his car, with her telling him he was driving and treating her to an afternoon away from the office. 

“The whole afternoon? You said ice cream,” he deadpanned, having no intention to go back to the office now that they were outside of it, but not wanting her to know just yet. “Scully, there are still two or three books waiting to be gone through on my desk.” She stopped walking and stared at him. Oh, eyebrows down, no smile. 

Backtrack man, backtrack, he thought. 

“Fine, Scully. The afternoon is yours, what do you wish to do?” He bowed slightly and she hummed in the affirmative, her heels clicking along the concrete once again. Raising his head, he grinned at her back as she walked to the passenger side and waited for him to unlock the door. 

He hurried over and unlocked it, both of them getting inside. Putting on their seatbelts, she looked at him with a smirk. “Ice cream first. You need to begin your payment. I carried four books up and down the stairs. If each book weighed about twenty pounds -”

“Twenty pounds,” he snorted. 

“Yeah, twenty pounds,” she insisted as she stared at him, and he looked away with a smile as he shook his head. “That’s eighty pounds total. If you’re going to make it up to me, well, you’re in serious debt right now. So, ice cream first and then we’ll see what else you can do to work off your payment.” He looked at her and she raised one eyebrow, smiling saucily. 

He wondered if she would still be smiling if she could read his mind and see the sudden thoughts running wild in there. Naked thoughts, of his fingers trailing across her soft skin as she moaned into his mouth, her tongue wrapped around his. 

“Mulder?” she said, a curious look on her face. He cleared his throat and turned on the car, backed up, and put it in drive. 

“Ice cream first,” he agreed, hoping the cold treat would lower his temperature. But then she arched her back, sticking out her chest as she adjusted her position. He could picture his face between her breasts as his hands mapped out terrain he never wanted to leave. 

Blood, the smell of the sewer, pustules, he thought, turning out of the parking garage and heading to the nearby ice cream shop, trying to calm his racing pulse. 


“I won’t be able to finish all of this, Mulder,” she said, looking at her ice cream skeptically. “No chance. So it looks like your debt still holds.” Lifting her spoon to her mouth, she gave him a look as she took a dainty bite. 

“Whatever you don’t eat, I’ll finish, so we’re square,” he said with a wink. She widened her eyes in response, looking at her bowl full of ice cream and then his, shaking her as she did. “You don’t think I can?” 

“I don’t think you should,” she said, shaking her head. “You’ll get a stomach ache for sure.” 

“Well, then I guess you better eat up,” he said, gesturing with his chin for her to get back to her treat. She sighed and took another bite, bigger than the last. He nodded at her and suddenly she reached up and ran her thumb across his lips. He froze at the feel of her warm fingers on his cool mouth and he stared at her as she looked at his lips. 

“You’ve got hot fudge just there,” she told him as she wiped at it and then stuck her finger in her mouth, sucking off the chocolate, humming as she did. His brain short circuited and he forgot to breathe, letting out a large puff of air when he did remember to do so. She looked at him strangely, but said nothing. 

Flukemen, Frohike shirtless, aliens ripping themselves from inside a person's body , he repeated over and over in his mind as he felt his jeans tighten, thoughts of that chocolate sauce being used in different ways firing into his synapses. Scully continued to eat her ice cream, oblivious to any of his discomfort.

When he was sure he could function normally, he began to eat his ice cream, the hot fudge cooled and thicker than it had been at first bite. He ate it all, even lifting the bowl and drinking the melted bit at the bottom, much to Scully’s horror. He set the bowl down and wiped his mouth on a napkin. 

He glanced at Scully’s bowl and raised his eyebrows. “Do you need me to finish that for you or …” She shook her head and ate the last couple of bites. “Aww, Scully, see? I knew you could do it.” He winked at her again and she rubbed her stomach, grimacing as she did. 

“When this inevitably begins to make my stomach hurt, you’re going to hear about it,” she told him, standing up and wiping off her hand. She picked up their trash and disposed of it, walking back to their table. 

He stood up and stretched, rubbing his stomach, and grabbed his jacket. They walked outside and he let her lead the way to their next adventure. 

They found themselves in a park with an open air art festival and she smiled at Mulder as she raised her eyebrows. He shrugged and they continued inside. Music and food was available as well, but the scent of meat and spices made his stomach turn. 

“Best not tell Scully,” he muttered under his breath. She had stopped a few feet from him watching a play some children were performing about the importance of spring. 

They were singing and dancing, dressed as flowers and bees. Mulder had no idea what they were saying, his eyes were only on Scully. She was smiling and laughing at the antics of the children and suddenly he saw her bleeding to death on his living room floor, the choking stench of blood overpowering. He shook his head and blinked his eyes as she awwwed at something one of the little flowers did on stage. 

She’s right there. She’s not bleeding out. Touch her and see, he told himself firmly. Reaching for her elbow, he sighed when it was solid and she smiled at him in question. He shook his head and looked at the children, keeping his fingers on her elbow, needing to keep a hold on her to know for certain. 

Applause rang out and he moved his hand to clap along with the crowd. She motioned for them to continue to the art and he nodded. Many different booths were set up, along with portable walls, the art hanging from them. 

Children, animals, fruit, sunsets, beach scenes, and many others were depicted in drawings, paintings, and even small sculptures. Scully’s smile was ever present as she looked at everything, but one in particular he noticed she kept returning to and he stopped to watch her look at it. 

It was a smallish sized painting of a house, nothing special about it, but a house that seemed to draw her eye. The sky was the golden hour of sunset when the air seems to shine and make everything beautiful; beachgrass bent over in front of the house, as though the wind was pushing it. A rocking chair sat on the porch, a colorful quilt hanging on the back. 

“It’s peaceful, isn’t it?” Scully asked quietly. “It’s like a place where nothing bad could happen. Everyone is probably down at the beach, packing up from their day out in the warm air. The kids are tired and brown from the sun, their hair tousled, feet covered in sand. The adults are wrestling and cursing all the extremely important items they brought with them.” She sighed and smiled softly, staring at the painting. 

Mulder could picture everything she described. The voices calling to one another as they walked the path to the house, tired, but the memories of the day sealed in their minds. They would not remember the exhaustion later, only the fun, and the way the sun bounced off the water. 

“But what we don’t see,” he added softly, “their grandmother, who doesn’t get around as well as she used to, just left that rocking chair to check on the meal she’s been preparing. A delicious garden salad, fried chicken, and an apple pie for dessert.” She turned to him with a smile and he shrugged. “I mean, why not?” He smiled at her and she nodded, her arm looping through his, to his surprise. 

“Mulder, you truly do keep unfolding like a flower,” she teased, and he chuckled softly with a nod. 

They kept on, looking at the paintings, separating as they found different things that drew their eye. When they reached the end of the festival, she motioned for them to keep walking and he nodded. 

“See, Mulder?” Scully said, taking off her blazer and folding it over her arm. “Isn’t this better than being in that stuffy basement office?” He shrugged and she hit his arm with a shake of her head. 

“It’s nice I suppose, not very …” 

“Alien?” she joked, and he shrugged again. “Mulder, not everything has to be an anomaly or unexplainable. Can’t you just enjoy a gorgeous spring day?” 

“I am,” he said defensively, and she laughed. He extended his arm and she took it again as they walked through the park. 

People walked past, children laughing as people picnicked on the grass and on nearby benches. Spying an empty one, she steered them toward the bench and they lay their jackets across the back before they sat down. 

“Life is meant to be lived, Mulder, not only read about in a book. No matter how interesting the box scores may be.” She smiled and he leaned back, crossing his arms with his eyebrows raised. 

“I never said I wouldn’t enjoy being outside, Scully, just that it tended to lack a certain … paranormal bouquet,” he said, his eyes on hers. 

“Mmm-hmm,” she said, smiling at him as she leaned back, closed her eyes, and took a deep breath. 

The warm wind whipped quickly and her hair blew into her face. He reached out before she had a chance and moved it, tucking it behind her ear. Her eyes opened as he did and she stared at him, her expression unreadable. Clearing his throat, he moved his hand and leaned back, his hands in his lap. Her eyes closed again and he watched her relaxing in the warm afternoon sun. 

“What do you say to getting some dinner later?” she asked a little while later, both of them companionably silent. Looking at him, she smiled and he nodded. “I’d like to change first though, as being in a work suit is not my favorite thing to wear on a Saturday,” she said, rising from the bench and giving him a look. 

“No one said you had to wear a suit,” he told her, standing up with her, grabbing both of their jackets. Giving him another look, he nodded, knowing that not appearing professional would not fly with her. “Okay, we’ll head back and, sure, dinner sounds good.” 

Dropping her back at her car, she smiled as she drove away. He decided to go back inside and put away the books they had taken out. No reason to leave them out and hear her complaints about them come Monday. 

He smiled as he began to stack the books; he grimaced at the ice cream spots on the pages, hoping they would not get called out on them. 

“Well, not ice cream,” he laughed, reaching to check the pages when he saw a picture that stopped him in his tracks. “Is that Arthur Dales?” Looking closer, he saw that it was. His head snapped up and made sure no one was around before he ripped the page from the book. 

He grabbed his jacket and put the page in his pocket. The books were left on the desk as he walked out the door, Scully’s gasp at him defacing government property almost audible in the empty office. Closing and locking the door, he headed to Arthur’s place, dinner plans with Scully completely forgotten. 


Hours later, the story Arthur told him still filling him with bittersweet feelings, he stood in the ball field, the shirt from Arthur worn proudly on his back. The machine he rented was set up and Poorboy stood ready to pitch them out for him, a big smile on his face. 

“Ten bucks an hour, Mister,” he reminded Mulder as he started to walk toward home plate. 

“Sheesh kid, I know. You ain’t cheap,” he said, shaking his head and looking back at Poorboy, who grinned wider. 

Walking on, he glanced around but did not see Scully. He had called her, leaving a message with her answering service. He hoped she would get it and decide to come and meet him. After that story, he wanted to share something he loved with her, as she had done with him today. 

He knew Scully enjoyed nice things. Her apartment was beautifully decorated and comfortable. She liked art museums and old books, but he was not sure if she had ever hit a baseball just for the fun of it. If she had ever experienced the feeling of contact with the ball as it sailed far into the outfield. 

Tonight, he was hoping to share that with her. 

“All right, Poorboy,” Mulder called out, his toes digging at home plate, taking a few practice swings. “I’m ready.” A ball was placed in the machine and it shot out, flying quickly toward him. He swung and missed, digging at home plate again. 

More balls flew his way and he hit and missed them equally, not caring if he did or not. He found that all he zeroed in on was the anticipation of the ball and the feeling of impact when he hit it with the bat. The sound of it was like beautiful music and he got lost in the melody, thoughts of anything else far from his mind. 

“So, uh ... I get this message marked "urgent" on my answering service from one Fox Mantle, telling me to come down to the park for a very special, very early or very late birthday present. And, Mulder ... I don't see any nicely wrapped presents lying around, so what gives?” he heard Scully saying behind him and he smiled, happy she decided to meet him. 

“You've never hit a baseball, have you, Scully?” he asked her, hitting another ball. 

“No, I guess I have, uh ... found more necessary things to do with my time than ... slap a piece of horsehide with a stick,” she said rather condescendingly as he hit a foul ball. 

“Get over here, Scully,” he said, turning to look at her over his shoulder. She uncrossed her arms and pushed from the backstop, walking toward him as he held the bat out for her. He stepped behind her, wrapping his arms around her tightly, holding the bat with her as she took it from him. 

“This my birthday present, Mulder?” she asked him warily. “You shouldn't have.”

“This ain't cheap. I'm paying that kid ten bucks an hour to shag balls,” he said, close to her ear, gesturing to Poorboy. 

“Hey, it's not a bad piece of ash, huh?” he teased, and Scully turned to give him a look, one he knew too well. “The bat- talking about the bat.” She turned back slightly and he smiled. 

“Now, don't strangle it. You just want to shake hands with it. "Hello, Mr. Bat. It's a pleasure to make your acquaintance." "Oh, no, no, Ms. Scully. The pleasure's all mine." She laughed his name and he was thrilled by it. 

“Okay, now, we want to ... we want to go hips before hands, okay?” he said, moving his hand close to her hip, but careful not to touch her. “We want to stride forward and turn. That's all we're thinking about. So, we go hips ... before hands, all right?” This time he did touch her hip lightly with his hand, while using his own hips to turn her body the right way. 

“Okay,” she agreed. 

“One more time,” he said, wanting to see if he could actually get away with being so bold. He touched her hip with more pressure and he would swear on a stack of bibles that he heard her gasp. “Hips ... before hands, all right?” Her gasp ringing in his ears and causing his heart to race. 

“Yeah,” she agreed again. 

“What is it?” he asked, wanting to hear her say it. 

“Hips before hands,” she said, and it settled in his memory. 

“Right,” he said, very close to her ear. “We're going to wait on the pitch. We're going to keep our eye on the ball. Then, we're just going to make contact. We're not going to think. We're just going to let it fly, Scully, okay?” 

“Mm-hmm,” she nodded. 


He tried to readjust their grip on the bat, moving his hands down to how they should be, while also messing around with her. Both of them struggling for the space and he grinned. 

“I'm in the middle,” Scully said, and he did it a bit more, loving the feeling of not being them for a moment, but silly and free. She got her hands back between his and he could hear her smile and laugh 

“All right, fire away, Poorboy,” he called out and a ball flew their way as they swung at it together. They made contact but it was definitely a foul. 

“Ooh! That's good,” he said, hearing her laugh. “All right, what you may find is you  concentrate on hitting that little ball ... the rest of the world just fades away, all your everyday, nagging concerns-” Scully giggled as they got ready to hit another ball. 

“The ticking of your biological clock,” he said, as they landed another hit.

“How you probably couldn't afford that nice, new suede coat on a G-Woman's salary,” he said, letting her know he had noticed her new coat, saying without words that it looked nice on her. Another crack of the bat and he felt that happiness he had earlier, but doubled now that she was there with him. 

“How you threw away a promising career in medicine …” he all but whispered into her ear. “To hunt aliens with a crackpot, albeit brilliant, partner.” She turned her head and gave him another patented Scully look. 

“Getting into the heart of a global conspiracy. Your obscenely overdue triple-X bill. Oh, I ... I'm sorry, Scully. Those last two problems are mine, not yours,” he said, keeping it light as they hit another ball. 

“Shut up, Mulder,” she said and he could hear the smile in her voice. “I'm playing baseball.” Another swing and she laughed as they hit the ball. Over and over, they did it, her laughter ringing out in the night air. 

His love for baseball had been a part of him most of his life. Now he shared it with her, literally sharing a bat between them as they hit the balls into the middle of the field. He made to step back, giving her a turn on her own, but she gave him another look, and his grip tightened on the bat once again. 

So much had happened recently, their lives flipped upside down, but she was there with him, laughing and enjoying herself. The feel of her in his arms made him happier than he had been in a very long time. 

When the last ball had been hit and Poorboy put up his empty hands, they laughed as they dropped the bat and stepped apart. She pushed her hair out of her face, wearing a huge smile, as she turned to look at Mulder and then out to Poorboy, who was running around collecting the baseballs. 

“We should help him, Mulder,” she said softly, her smile still in place. “He’s a child and that’s a lot of balls.” He grinned at her and she gave him a teasing look as she walked away, her hips swinging more than usual. 

Hips before hands indeed, he thought, his eyes unable to look away until she squatted down to pick up a ball. 

“Jesus,” he muttered, shaking his head as he started to walk out and gather up the balls. 

Back and forth they walked, depositing the balls into the basket. Once it was full, Mulder took out his wallet and handed Poorboy a twenty dollar bill. He looked at it and grinned, taking off at a run. Mulder picked up the basket and pushed the machine toward the backstop.

As they walked to home plate, Scully picked up the bat, smiling at Mulder as she did. They dropped off the machine and the basket of balls at the park office. Walking away, he took the bat from Scully and put his hand out, hoping she would take it. When she did, he smiled and locked their fingers together, his heart pounding. 

They arrived at their cars and he let go of her hand to put the bat in the backseat. Turning back around, he crossed his arms and stared at her. She smiled, the one he loved most: all her teeth showing before she licked her lips. Once again, he groaned internally, imagining how they would taste.

Stepping forward, she put her hand on his arm. “Thank you for my present, Mulder,” she whispered. He nodded and stared into her eyes. She smiled again, pushing on his arms, bringing him closer to her height, her lips on his before he had a chance to think. 

She stepped back and he leaned toward her, dropping his arms and stared at her. He cupped her face, leaning close to kiss her again, her hands coming up to hold onto his forearms. 

Her lips were so soft, their kiss sweet, until she opened her mouth and her tongue licked his lips. He opened his mouth immediately, kissing her deeper, allowing her tongue access to explore. His hands moved to the back of her head and her waist, pulling her closer. She melted into him, holding his shirt as she fell flush against him. 

Pulling back for air, she stumbled backward, and with the tight grip on his shirt, she pulled him with her, crashing into the side of her car. He kissed her again, her hands going around his back, holding him close as their tongues learned each other. 

“Ohhh …” she breathed when he pulled back, staring at her as his lungs burned with the need for oxygen. “We need … we need to go. We should …” She pushed him from her and nervously smoothed her hair and clothes. “I should go. We …” 

She licked her lips and he felt his jeans tighten, no longer wondering how her lips tasted. Peppermint. She tasted of the peppermint tea she drank and he ached for another taste. 

“I should go,” she said, and stepped past him, fumbling with her keys. 

“Scully, wait. Just …” he pleaded and she looked at him and then around the ballpark. 

“We need to go. We, as in both of us,” she said forcefully. “Together.” She smiled and he realized what she was implying. “My place is closer,” she said as she got in the car. Backing up, she nodded with that same big smile, and drove away. 

“Holyyyyyy shiiiiiiit,” he breathed. Standing frozen for what felt like an eternity, he took his keys from his pocket, dropped them with a curse, and picked them up again. He drove away, tires screeching as he did, seatbelt unsecured, a smile plastered on his face as he followed her home. 


Arriving at her place, she opened the door and, less than a second later, he had her pressed against the closing door; her arms around his neck and his tongue in her mouth. 


She pushed him forward, taking off her jacket when she had the space. It dropped to the floor and she reached for her top, pulling it over her head and dropping it onto the floor. He shook his head at her light pink bra that did nothing to hide her hard nipples. 

She reached around to take it off and it dropped to the floor and so did he, on his knees before the goddess Dana Scully, his face pressing into her stomach, his arms around her, sitting under her ass. 

“Scully,” he murmured, peppering her stomach with kisses. Looking up, he saw her looking down at him, her chest rising and falling. 

“Mulder,” she whispered, arousal but also worry in her eyes. He quickly rose off his knees and kissed her, hoping to waylay any fears. 

“Bedroom,” she whispered against his mouth, and grabbed the front of his shirt, bringing him along. 

Once in her room, it was as though they had danced this dance thousands of time. They fumbled a bit, shoes and socks providing a giggling problem, and buttons sticking as they tried to hurry to get them open. 

But when they came together, flesh to flesh, it was perfect. He leaned over her, kissing her, her tongue sweeter than anything he had ever tasted. Her skin was soft and hot under his fingers, trembling as he touched places that made her moan. He kissed her chest, his mouth worshipping her breasts, paying special attention to the rosy pink nipples begging for his tongue and teeth. 

Her stomach jumped as he licked at her abdomen, the muscles clenching beneath his mouth. He felt her fingers gripping his hair and he grinned, knowing she knew where he was headed, the scent of her arousal intoxicating him. 

“Mulder,” she gasped as he kissed her pubis, the hair sparse. “Oh, yes, Mulder.” She opened her legs wider, her heels on his back as he licked her and she moaned and gripped his hair tighter. “Please …” 

That was the last word he heard her say as he set to work doing just that, pleasing her. Kissing, licking, sucking, he took his cues from her. The way she held his hair, arched into his mouth, and how her legs trembled. He paid attention to it all, learning the way she liked to be loved, the taste of her beyond exquisite. 

“Mulderrrrrr!” she cried, holding his hair tightly, her legs closing around him as she came. “Ohhhhh …” He stayed where he was, softly kissing, until she relaxed around him. 

When he felt her grip loosen, he kissed her inner thigh, finding a freckle there that he wanted to kiss forever. Following a path up, he kissed her hip bones, belly button, the rosy pink nipples, her neck, and finally her lips. 

Her legs wrapped around him, pulling him closer to her, her fingers digging into his arms as he kissed her. He positioned himself at her entrance and pulled back to watch her face as he slid inside her.

“Oh God, Mulder,” she breathed, and he echoed her words. “Oh … my God …” she said again, staring at him until her eyes rolled back, her legs pulling him even closer to her.  

“Scully … ohhh,” He pulled out and slid back in, the feel of her all around him, enveloping him just as her body was doing. 

She clawed at him, his name tumbling from her lips, her body arching into him. He fell forward, his face at her neck, her breasts pressed into his chest as he went faster, unable to take it slow, the feeling too amazing. 

“Scully, Jesus, you feel so good,” he moaned and she cried out his name. 

“Oh, Christ,” she moaned out in a low voice, the pitch escalating as her hips met his thrusts, crying out his name over and over their pace hurried, chasing something they had been after for years, the goal finally in sight. He kissed her neck as her cries grew louder, and they crashed over the edge together. 

“Ohhhhh Mulder,” she breathed, her chest rising and falling, arms and legs holding him close, their bodies still rocking slowly. “Mmmmmm, my God …” Her hands ran up and down his back, her nails scratching lightly. 

“Scully, oh, Scully,” he said, pushing up and looking down at her. Her hair spilled across her pillow, sweat beading upon her forehead. She smiled at him, her hands reaching for his face, pushing his hair back. 

“Mulder,” she whispered and he kissed her, rolling them to their sides, keeping them connected. She pulled back and stared at him, her hand on his face once again.  

“Hi,” she whispered, grinning at him as she stroked his face. 

“Hi,” he answered with a matching grin, his hand on her hip. Shaking his head, he opened his mouth and closed it, words failing him. 

“I know,” she whispered with a nod and a shake of her head, causing him to laugh softly. “For the record, while I had fun tonight, this kind of present is one I enjoy much more. I even got to unwrap it.” He laughed again and moved a little, shifting their bodies. “Mulder …” She stared at him and he nodded. 

“I know,” he echoed her words, the humor out of her eyes, the realization of what they had done showing on her face. “Scully, stop those thoughts.” He pushed her hair back and stared at her, shaking his head. “Don’t think right now.” 

“Okay,” she whispered, leaning in to kiss him, and move closer. “That was … oh, Mulder.” She nuzzled into his neck and he felt her shake her head. 

“A home run?” he teased, hoping to halt  whatever she might be thinking. She pulled back and looked at him, a huge grin on her face and then she was laughing, her head falling to his neck. 

“Yeah, I’d say it was. And a single as well,” she said, looking at him again. He wiggled his eyebrows and she laughed, shaking her head. Sighing, she snuggled into him again and they were quiet, both thinking about what just happened. 

“Scully,” he began, and she stopped him. 

“Mulder, let’s just …” she said and he nodded, quiet as he held her, his fingers running softly across her back. 

They must have dozed, as he woke some time later on his back, her head on his shoulder. He looked down at her and smiled, not wanting to wake her just yet. He got up carefully to use the bathroom, moving quietly around the room. 

Standing in her doorway watching her sleep, he felt worried. Now that daylight would be breaking soon, what if she told him this was a mistake? What if she regretted this evening and wanted to go back to how things were, forgetting this ever happened? He shook his head and quietly collected his clothes, getting dressed quickly, needing time to think. 

Driving away, he knew he was being a goddamn coward, but that had been a huge step and the repercussions could be astronomical. He was scared, he would admit that, but only in the confines of his car. 

“Jesus Christ, man. Go back,” he muttered, but could not make his body listen. 

Stopped at a red light, he hit the steering wheel, angry at himself. Looking around, he saw a bakery opening and made a quick decision. Picking up a half a dozen bagels and a container of cream cheese, he drove back to her apartment, quietly letting himself in with his key. 

The cream cheese in the fridge, he set the bagels on the counter. Looking in on her once more, he knew this was the right decision. They needed space to think separately and come to terms with tonight. 

Locking the door behind him, he hummed on the way to the car. He knew her, really knew her, and he would give her what she needed. 

Well, more so than I did tonight, he thought, the memory of the taste of her kiss, her skin, of her making him grin. Shaking his head, he got in the car, driving home to use the computer and see if he could find the artist of the painting they saw earlier today. He had a new take on the story and he wanted to find it so he could share it with her. 

The people in that house were not coming back from a day at the beach. No, they were already home. Lying in bed, sated and happy, the basket of baseballs spilled next to the bat that had beendropped on the floor in their haste to get to the bedroom. Grinning at the thought, he sped up, wanting to get home faster, needing something to occupy his mind. 

He knew once she had the painting and heard the updated version of the story, she would accept it with a knowing smile. 

Yeah, he thought with a smile and a nod, his foot pressing harder on the gas, this is a home run of an idea. 

Chapter Text

“Maybe as his partner, but not as his doctor …  and not as his wife,” she said, not caring anymore if Skinner knew or not. His eyes widened, as she knew they would, but she gave no further explanation before she left his office. 

She walked down the hall, her exhaustion and worry for Mulder weighing her down. Getting on the elevator, she closed her eyes, not caring who saw her or what they thought, her only concern for Mulder. 

The elevator stopped and she opened her eyes as the doors parted to reveal Skinner waiting for her, a bit out of breath, obviously having run down the stairs to catch up to her. She pushed herself from the back of the elevator and walked toward him with a sigh, knowing precisely why he was there. She stared at him as the doors closed and they were alone. 

“His wife, Dana?” he asked quietly, standing close to her, his expression unreadable. 

“Yes,” she whispered, her eyes closing briefly. Opening them, she found him staring at her and she remained resolute. No further information would be shared, unless asked for specifically. 

Skinner sighed with a shake of his head, rubbing at his temple. Putting his hand in his pocket, he took out his keys and gave them to her. “Go do what I couldn’t,” he said, holding her hand in both of his as she took his keys. “Save him.” She nodded and squeezed his arm as she walked past him to his car. 

Taking a breath, she put her head on the steering wheel, her heart aching, the tears she dared not shed while away from him  now threatening to choke her. She needed to get to him, to tell him about what she found, but also to tell him … to tell him how she had missed him, had ached for him, and how much she loved him. 

She had to tell him, to not just wonder or feel it, but tell him. She wiped at her eyes as she drove out of the parking garage, her mind going back to Vegas, when the possibility of all human existence was not known to be written on the side of an alien spacecraft. 


“Oh man, I am gonna kick their asses,” Scully said, hanging up her phone and sighing loudly. “Those stooges. I knew they were up to something. Goddamn.” Her tirade was interrupted by a knock on the door, and she turned with a frown at the sound of it. “If that’s Langly, I swear to God,” she mumbled as she stalked to the door. 

Pulling it open, she was surprised to find not Langly, or any of the others, but Mulder. He stood with his phone in his hand, a bag hanging from his shoulder, and a sheepish grin on his face. He put his phone in the pocket of his jeans and cleared his throat. 

“What? Have you been here this whole time? I thought you … what?” she asked, confused as to what was happening. He looked at her and she opened the door wider, allowing him into the room. He walked further in and set his bag down on a chair, then walked to the window to look out at the view. 

“Mulder?” Scully asked, as she followed him into the room, still confused. 

“Frohike called me,” he said, with his back to her. “He said you were here and he was worried about you. That you were helping them with something but you weren’t acting like yourself.” 

“Not acting like myself? What the hell does that mean?” she demanded. 

“I’m not sure myself,” he said, as he turned around with a grin. “What have you been up to out here in Sin City, Agent Scully?” 

She frowned at him and crossed her arms. 

“I have no idea what you’re talking about,” she said angrily. “What exactly did Frohike say to you?” He stared at her with a smile and she raised her eyebrows. He nodded and stopped smiling with a sigh. 

“Frohike called and said you were … not yourself-”

“You said that already,” she said curtly. 

“Right,” he said, shifting on his feet. “Right. Well, he said you were … giggly, flirty, and … touchy.” Her eyes widened and he smiled. 

“I … what?” she asked, horrified as she shook her head. “I didn’t …” But then she remembered laughing loudly and the taste of a cigarette on her lips, something she had not tasted in years. She let out a breath and stared at him, her mouth open in embarrassment as she closed her eyes and put her face in her hands. 

She could hear him chuckling softly and she shook her head. “Is that why you flew out here? Because I was … not myself?” Looking up she saw him frown and shake his head. 

“I’ve seen you giggly and flirty, Scully. And, most definitely, I’ve seen you touchy.” He held her gaze and her cheeks reddened. He smiled again and walked closer to her. Close enough to touch, but not doing so, as if waiting for her to say it was okay to do it. 

“Hi,” he said quietly, and she smiled. 

“Hi,” she answered, just as quietly. He looked down at her lips and back to her eyes before he leaned forward and kissed her, his lips soft and hesitant. 

Her hand landed on his chest as the chaste kiss quickly deepened into something more. Her arms slid around his neck, her hands in his hair. His hands slid under her jacket and blouse, his fingers grazing across her skin. 

Stepping back, she tried to catch her breath. He grinned and laughed as he watched her, but she could see he was breathing hard, too. Licking her lips, she could taste his kiss. Sweet and salty. No doubt he had been eating sunflower seeds before he knocked on her door. 

“So, did you … did you get your own room or …?” she asked, smoothing her clothes and clearing her throat, her heart racing. He shook his head and she grinned, stepping closer and wrapping her arms around his neck again. “Good decision,” she whispered, kissing him once again, the last words either of them spoke for awhile. 


Waking up, she blinked her eyes, focusing on the heaviness on her chest. Looking down, she saw dark hair and she smiled, closing her eyes again. Putting her hand on his head, she thought of the past few hours. How he had made her come, her legs shaking as she moaned his name. The feel of him as he slid inside her, her body responding to his immediately. He made her feel so good, it should be illegal. 

Since that first night, after they had played baseball, they had not been together again. Mulder had woken up and left early without a word to her, but she had found bagels in a bag on the counter when she went into the kitchen. She had eaten her breakfast, the memory of his mouth on her body making her smile as her fingers danced across her lips. 

No word from him all that Sunday, but Monday morning, he had smiled shyly at her. As they had left to check on a case, he had stopped her from walking out the door. He had squeezed her wrist, his hand moving to her fingers, his eyes holding hers and asking without words if they were okay. She had smiled and kissed him softly, squeezing his hand as she did. 

Walking out of the office, she heard him exhale a breath, relief heard above all else and she grinned. Since then, they had been talking on the phone more at night, laughing about nothing and discussing everything, but had not had sex again until now, and she had missed it. 

A lot. It was amazing how much she could miss it when she had only had it once. 

Well, twice now, she thought, a smile spreading across her face, her hand softly stroking his hair. He shifted, his arm around her waist, pulling her closer. She sighed and moved her hand, carefully slipping from the bed, in desperate need of the bathroom. 

Washing her hands as she finished, he came up behind her and wrapped his arms around her, his naked body pressed against hers. She closed her eyes as his touch set her nerve endings on fire. She could feel him growing hard and she ached to have him inside her again. 

“I woke up and forgot where I was,” he mumbled into the back of her neck and she shivered. His rumbly voice made her clench her internal muscles, her ache growing. “Didn’t help that you left me alone in that cozy bed.” His hands moved from her waist to cup her breasts and she exhaled a moan. 

Opening her eyes, she saw him watching her in the mirror and she was done. She needed him … now. Turning around quickly, she pulled him close, locking her mouth to his. She jumped as she grabbed around his neck and he caught her, setting her on the counter. Her legs went around his waist and he slid inside her, making her gasp and cling to him. 

“Mulder … Jesus,” she moaned, clawing at him as he pistoned his hips. “Ohhhh.” He held her tight, going faster and she felt her eyes roll back, her orgasm building, amazed at how quickly he got her there. 

“Scully … God …” he breathed, his fingers holding her hips hard enough to leave the swirls and loops of his fingerprints embedded in her flesh. 

He went faster and she held on, her legs tight around him, her head hitting the mirror as it dropped back and she cried out, her climax cresting. She had no idea she had dug her nails into his skin until he cried out her name. Even then, she was unable to release him, her body humming and pulsating around him. 

Her ears felt like they were full of cotton or as if she were underwater as she came down, her heart pounding so hard, it could possibly burst from her chest. She was vaguely aware he was saying something, her ears now ringing, but he was heavy against her and she knew he had reached his release. 

“I’m sorry, I’m sorry.” She thought she heard him repeating and she released her grip on him, lifted her head, and tried to focus her eyes. 

“Oh my God,” she breathed, licking her lips and taking a deep breath. “Oh, Mulder. Hmmm. Oh …” She tried to move him so she could see his face. “Mulder, what are you saying?” 

“I said I’m sorry,” came his muffled reply. 

“Why in the hell would you be sorry?” she asked, her body fairly floating. “Look at me.” She pushed at him again, and he raised his head from her neck. His eyes were almost sad as she held his face in her hands. “Mulder?” 

“I hurt you.” 


“I … you’re going to have bruises,” he said, his fingers caressing softly where they had held so tightly minutes before. “I got … I was too rough.” 

“Mulder, if I do, then I do. But,” she bit her lip, her heels pushing into his back. “I’m not complaining. I … I like it a little rough.” He stared at her, his eyebrows shooting up. “Not always, but I absolutely loved it just now.” 

“Is that right?” he asked, grinning at her and she nodded, running her fingers across his lips. 

“Mmm.” She rubbed her feet against him, feeling him softening inside her, but knowing it would not be long before he was ready again. “I … Mulder, I really liked that. I mean really liked it.” Kissing him, his hands stayed on her waist, his thumbs softly stroking. Pulling back, he searched her face and she smiled with a nod. 

A shower was in order and, after helping her carefully off the counter, both of them a bit unsteady, Mulder turned the water on, letting it warm before they both stepped inside. Not able to pinpoint the last time she showered with a man that did not involve the fear of a contaminant, Scully enjoyed the reason for this shower very much. 

Mulder washed her hair, scratching his nails into her scalp, making her moan. He pushed her into the shower wall, kissing her as the water fell like a warm rain. Grabbing her waist and sliding his hands down, he gripped her ass and lifted her as though she weighed nothing. Her legs wrapped around his waist, his tongue in her mouth making her core throb as she rocked against him. 

“Can I make you come like this?” he asked, his mouth at her ear. “Just because I’m out of commission, doesn’t mean you are. I want to make you come. Tell me what you want.” 

“Mulder,” she barely breathed, his words nearly her undoing. She was naked, in the shower, her body fused to his, and he wanted to make her come. How many times had she made herself come picturing this exact scenario? At home or while he was in the next room? God …

“Scully, tell me,” he breathed, biting softly on her earlobe. Her mind was racing, the stimulation too much to think of coherent thought. She had wanted this for so long, she had felt on the cusp of an orgasm recently every second he was near her. 

“Mulder,” she moaned again, pushing up a little, her wet breasts slipping across his equally wet chest. The feel of his sparse chest hair against her nipples shot straight to her core, and she cried out. 

“Have you thought about this before? Us in the shower? Because, Jesus Christ, I can’t tell you how many times I have. God, Scully. It was bad before, but after that decontamination shower, as unsexual as it was, you were naked and wet, right in front of me, how could I not sneak a look?” He nipped her neck and moved a hand between them to touch her. 

“Oh God,” she gasped, rocking against him. “What else, Mulder? What else have you thought of?” He laughed against her throat, his thumb rubbing her clit, causing her to let out a high pitched whine. 

“Oh, Scully, I’m not sure you’re ready to hear it,” he cautioned, his thumb moving faster. “It’s a jumbled mess in there sometimes. Things you wouldn’t even think were possible to be a turn on. But for the sake of risking the hot water running cool, I’ll tell you a few.” She gripped his hair, her body on the verge when he slowed his touch, and she whined his name in protest. 

“Your heels clicking down the hall, the scent of your perfume, your touch on my arm,” he said in her ear as he began to move his thumb faster and she jumped, her heels kicking into him. “Watching you school some misogynistic asshole, your voice, the way you taste. That last one … oh, Scully … learning your taste has led to some very different and amazing levels of masturbation.” 

“MULDER!” she cried, and she came, the thought of him thinking of the taste of her as he pleasured himself, bringing her over the edge. “Oh my God … Mulder … ohhhh …” She clung to him and her head fell back against the shower wall, panting out her breath. 

He kept a light touch against her clit and she moaned, lifting her head to hold him closer, her lips at his neck. He moved his hand and wrapped his arm around her as it joined its mate, holding her tightly. 

“Oh … Mulder,” she whispered into his ear, kissing his neck, her body feeling heavy and every inch of it vibrating with pleasure. 

“I take it you enjoyed that?” he teased, kissing her shoulder, and she laughed. Lifting her head, she looked him in the eyes, her hands on his face. He smiled and she kissed him, her tongue slowly stroking his. 

He moaned and pulled back, looking into her eyes. She pushed his wet hair back and smiled at him. “You are very good at the task at hand,” she said with a raise of her eyebrow, and he laughed. 

“Or thumb, as it were,” he smirked, and she laughed, kissing him again before he set her down carefully. A hand on his chest steadied her and he wiggled his eyebrows as she reached for the body wash. 


Dressed and out on the Vegas strip, Mulder took her hand and grinned as he looked around. “Where to first? The fountain? The tigers?” he asked, and she shrugged with a smile. He nodded and pulled her along, not caring where they went. 

They went to watch dancing water at the fountain. Standing with their arms wrapped around one another, Scully closed her eyes, not caring about the water show. She could feel and hear his heart beating under her ear and she found comfort in it. His hands moved up and down her back as she held him tighter. 

Hearing applause, she opened her eyes and mentally shook her head. She had missed the whole show. Smiling and squeezing him once more, she pulled back and looked up at him. He smiled down at her and shook his head. 

“Did you see any of the show?” he teased and she shook her head. He nodded again and kissed her before taking her hand and pulling her along again. 

They walked through the garden inside the hotel and admired the beauty of the adjoining rooms. Back out on the strip, they walked past crowds of people, despite the late hour. Further down the strip they walked, Scully not paying attention to anything except the occasional thing Mulder pointed out, his knowledge of any and everything astounding her as usual. 

Stopping suddenly, she glanced at him, and then to where he was looking. “You’re seeing it, too, right?” he asked gleefully and she nodded with a smile. 

“Let’s go inside,” she said, tugging at his hand. 

“Scully, no,” he said, stopping her from stepping forward. “It’s a wedding chapel.” 

“Mulder, it’s an Elvis wedding chapel. We have to go inside,” she said, matter-of-factly. He stared at her and she raised her eyebrows at him. “They might have memorabilia in there.” She tugged his hand again and he sighed, allowing her to lead him inside. 

“Oh my God,” he breathed as they walked in the door, grinning at her as he let go of her hand. She watched him walk around and smiled at his gleeful happiness. 

Can’t Help Falling Love was playing on the speakers as she began to look around. Records, photos, framed newspaper clippings, guitars, outfits, were just a few of the items on display. She smiled and shook her head at the pink and red decor, the giant lips sofa, and the disco ball on the ceiling. It was like walking into a room designed by Cupid and Elvis. 

“Oh, Scully,” she heard him say behind her as Jailhouse Rock started and she turned around. He had his hand out and pulled her close when she took it. He danced them around the room, spinning her, impersonating Elvis’s hip shake and causing her to laugh hysterically. 

“Hey now, you ain’t so bad,” they both heard, and a bejeweled Elvis impersonator shot them finger guns and walked into the chapel. When he was gone, she covered her mouth and laughed again. He looked at the chapel door and back at her and then shimmied again. 

“Hey there! Did y’all have an appointment?” a woman asked, her blonde hair up in a large beehive. 

“Uhh, no,” Mulder stuttered, his dancing stopping immediately. “We were walking by and …”

“Oh, we take walk-ins! What are your names?” She smiled, looking at them both, a pen and paper held at the ready in her hands. 

“No, no. We just … we thought we’d check out the memorabilia you might have. We’ll be going now. Sorry.” Mulder hurriedly said, glancing at Scully. 

“You two were not looking to get married tonight?” the woman asked, frowning at him. 

“Us? No. No,” he laughed and cleared his throat, glancing at Scully again. 

“Dana Scully and Fox Mulder,” Scully said, staring at him. His eyes widened and his mouth dropped open as she grinned. 

“Wonderful! I’ll let him know and we’ll get started. You’re lucky it’s so late, not many people are here at this hour.” The woman walked away, writing their names down on her paper. 

Mulder walked over to Scully and grabbed her arm. “What in the hell are you doing? Let’s get out of here before she comes back.” He started leading her toward the door and she stopped him. “Scully? What are you doing?” 

She shrugged and smiled. “Something crazy?” He shook his head and started toward the door again, and once again she stopped him. 

“This is insane. I just wanted to check out the mementos. No way should we be doing this, Scully. Let’s go.” He pulled at her again and she remained firm in her stance. Sighing loudly, he shook his head, his eyes hard. 

She smiled and put her hands on his chest. “It’s crazy, I completely agree,” she said quietly and he scoffed. Laughing, she shook her head. “But what have we done that hasn’t been?” 

“Scully,” he exhaled. “This is beyond any other thing we have ever done. We need to leave. Now.” 

“No, Mulder.” 

“Scully …” 

“Mulder,” she smiled and touched his face. “Let’s get married.” He shook his head and she nodded. 

“Scully, this is completely crazy,” he whispered, searching her face, sighing and then frowning. 

“So, let’s do something crazy,” she whispered back with a shrug. He stared at her and she smiled, hoping her eyes were conveying her true feelings. 

“Let’s do something crazy,” he agreed, smiling and then laughing incredulously. “Dana Scully, you are a puzzle I will never completely figure out.” 

“No, you won’t,” she grinned, rising on her tiptoes to kiss him. 

“Dana Scully and Fox Mulder?” a voice said behind her. “Oh. Well, lovebirds, we’re ready for you.” 

Scully stared at Mulder and smiled. “We’re ready,” she said, and he raised his eyebrows, shaking his head.  

“Yeah, we’re ready,” he nodded. 

“Wonderful. Follow me please.” 

Scully turned around and made a face at Mulder. He frowned at her and she gestured to her clothes. “It’s not fair I’m in these work clothes and you’re all casual,” she groaned, pulling at her blazer. 

“You look great,” he assured her and she rolled her eyes, taking his hand. “You do, I won’t lie.” She smiled and bumped his shoulder. 

“Holy … Christ,” she breathed as they followed the woman into the chapel. It was even more elaborately decorated than the lobby and it almost hurt her eyes to look directly at everything.

Disco balls, more guitars, shiny sequined suits in huge frames; the floor was black and white checked linoleum, and the small row of pews were gold with white muslin. It was tacky as hell and completely perfect. 

“This … is … amazing,” Mulder said beside her as the Elvis impersonator literally slid into the room as It’s Now or Never began to play. He danced around the altar in a gold shiny suit with a white scarf around his neck, black bouffant hair, gold dark sunglasses, and blue suede shoes. 

“Pinch me,” Mulder said close to her ear, his mouth dropping open as he watched him, Scully staring at Mulder in amusement. 

“Hey, Pretty Mama!” the impersonator called to Scully, and she grinned. He stopped dancing, freezing in an Elvis pose, as the music stopped. “Thank you. Thank you.” He bowed as applause rang through the speakers in the room. Mulder looked at Scully, grinning from ear to ear. 

“Pretty Mama, you,” said the impersonator, pointing at Mulder. “You, Hunk of Burning Love, you’ve found your way to the little Elvis chapel. As you can see, I am Elvis and I will be joining you in holy matrimony this night. Can I get an amen?” 

“Amen!” came a voice behind them and they both turned to see the blonde beehived woman in the last pew. She had her hand in the air as though in church and as they turned back around, Mulder grinned at Scully once again. 

“Tonight we are here to join,” he pointed at Scully and waited. 


“And you, you tall drink of water.” 


“Hmmm, I’ll say,” Elvis nodded and Scully laughed. “Fox and Dana, hereby known as Pretty Mama and Hunk of Burning Love, will be joined in the eyes of God, myself, and Ann back there. Don’t worry, she’s not the Ann you’re thinking of,” he stage whispered. “But, boy, she was a knockout, hey?” Mulder nodded enthusiastically and Elvis grinned. “Yeah you have a thing for redheads it seems.” Mulder glanced at Scully and smiled. 

“Pretty Mama, you’ve chosen to marry this man, is that right?” Elvis asked, his hips shaking with his question and Scully laughed. 

“I have, yes,” she said and he began to dance again and All Shook Up begin to play. He reached for her hand and Scully looked at Mulder and he shrugged. She took his hand and they danced around the altar as he sang along to the music. 

Well, please don't ask me what'sa on my mind

I'm a little mixed up, but I'm feelin' fine

When I'm near that girl that I love best

My heart beats so it scares me to death!

Well she touched my hand what a chill I got

Her lips are like a volcano when it's hot

I'm proud to say that she's my buttercup

I'm in love

I'm all shook up

Mm mm mm, mm, yay, yay, yay

Scully was laughing as he spun her around and they danced to the entire song, stopping with a dip beside Mulder. He clapped loudly and they both bowed, her heart racing and face hurting from smiling so hard. 

“Just wanted one dance, Burning Love, before she was all yours.” Elvis explained, leaning close to Mulder. Scully linked her arm through Mulder’s and grinned. 

“Okay, let’s get this going, I’m sure you two would like to move on to other things.” He wiggled his eyebrows at them and A Little Less Conversation played as Ann came into the room, a tray of rings in her hand.

Scully picked the most gaudy ones she saw: gold with dice inlaid in them. Elvis nodded and the music stopped. He took the rings and nodded to Ann who sat back down with the tray. 

“Pretty Mama, please hold Hunk of Burning Love’s hands,” Elvis said and Scully did as told. Mulder shook his head and mouthed crazy to her and she shrugged. “Do you Pretty Mama, take Burning Love as your husband? Do you promise to cherish him, to not be cruel and return him to sender, to love him tender, and to never step on his blue suede shoes?” Scully laughed and nodded, squeezing his hands. 

“I do,” she giggled, and Mulder winked at her. 

“‘Now Burning Love, do you take Pretty Mama to be your wife? Do you promise to cherish her, to love her tender, not consider her a hard headed woman, to not behave like a hound dog, and keep falling in love?” Mulder grinned and nodded as Scully was overcome with giggles once again. 

Mulder let go of her hands, punched the air in front of him and then froze, his lip curled up. “I do, honey.” Scully pitched forward and he caught her as she continued to laugh. 

“Beautiful, just beautiful,” Elvis said, wiping his eyes with the scarf around his neck. “Here are your rings, put these on or you’ll leave me crying in the chapel.” He handed the rings to Scully and she took the larger one, attempting to put it on Mulder’s finger. 

It did not fit on his ring finger, and only went halfway down his pinky, but he shrugged and smiled. He put hers on and it fit perfectly, on her middle finger. She smiled and winked at him. He shook his head again and closed his eyes briefly. 

“By the power vested in me, through the gorgeous state of Nevada, I pronounce you Pretty Mama and Hunk of Burning Love. Congratulations, you two may smooch it up!” He waved his arms and confetti flew out, and Viva Las Vegas blared into the room. He danced and sang as Scully stared at Mulder. 

“You are absolutely crazy,” he whispered close to her ear before kissing her soundly. 

“Crazy, huh? I learned from the best,” she replied, pulling him in for another kiss. Mulder grabbed her and they danced out of the chapel and into the lobby, Elvis singing behind them. 

Ann was waiting at the desk when they walked out, ready for them to pay for the service. “Congratulations! I hope you had fun,” she said with a smile. “He puts on a really good show, doesn’t he?” Mulder nodded and reached for his wallet, but Scully stopped him. 

“Wait. A show? That wasn’t … binding?” she asked, her stomach dropping. 

“Oh, no,” Ann said, with a frown. “In order to get married, you need a license. The bureau is closed now, so this was … just for show. Did you think it was real? I’m so sorry if you did, I thought … you had said you weren’t looking to get married, you didn’t have a license, and so I thought … sometimes people want the experience, but not the actual wedding. I thought maybe that’s what you wanted.” She looked so apologetic, Scully could not fault her, but she felt incredibly stupid. 

She looked at Mulder beside her and found he was staring at her before he turned to Ann. “What time does the bureau open?” 

“Eight in the morning. I can give you the address and a cab can take you right to it. Again, I’m so sorry,” she sighed, looking back and forth between them. Scully shook her head and tuned out the rest of the conversation, as Mulder paid the bill and led her outside. 

“I’m so stupid,” she said, when they had walked a few feet away. “Of course we would need a license. How could I forget that?” She shook her head and sighed, not able to meet his eyes. 

“Hey,” he said, tipping her chin up and making her look at him. “So we did it backwards, does that surprise you?” 

“Mulder, this was crazy, like you said. We can just forget it. Chalk it up to something that happened in Vegas. It was fun, but you’re right, it was … it was crazy.” She sighed and shrugged, taking a step past him but not getting far before he pulled on the back of her blazer. 

“So, it’s crazy … let’s do something crazy,” he said quietly and she scoffed, shaking her head.  “Scully, the way I see it, we did get married, this is our honeymoon, and we simply need to … fix some things tomorrow, no, today. It’s two in the morning, the place opens at eight, we have six hours until we can fix this small hiccup.” He shrugged and smiled at her. 

“Mulder …” 

“Scully,” he said softly, stepping closer to her. “It’s our wedding night, regardless of a piece of paper. We said the words and exchanged the ugliest rings I have ever seen.” She laughed and put her hands on her face. Pulling them down gently, he stared at her so sweetly, her heart ached. “We did the crazy, we’ll do the sane tomorrow … in six hours.” He smiled and she stared at him. 

God, she loved him. She had not told him, but he knew. He had to know. 

Agent Scully is already in love

He had to know that it was him she was in love with, right? No other man even registered to her, not when Mulder was there. No other man made her feel the way he did. His brain had aroused her long before his body ever did. Now she had both and hoo-boy … 

It was on the tip of her tongue to tell him, to say the words, when a car horn honked and made them both jump. Mulder laughed as they looked to the source and found a group of scantily clad women crossing the street. The car horn honked again, followed by wolf whistles, and Mulder looked back at her with a smile. 

The moment had passed but she could do one better. She looped her arms around his neck and felt his wrap around her waist. She closed her eyes as she breathed in his scent. Hotel shampoo and body wash, and the undeniable scent of Mulder. 

“So,” she whispered in his ear, and she felt him tremble. “We should celebrate our wedding night. I’m thinking we go back to the hotel and get very naked for a long period of time. Or at least six hours.” She sucked his earlobe and he twitched into her, his arms tightening around her. 

“Make it eight and you’ve got a deal,” he whispered and she laughed. He pulled back and kissed her, making her knees weak. Grabbing her hand, they walked hurriedly back to the hotel, both of them unable to stop smiling. 


The sun was peeking through the partially drawn curtains as Mulder kissed her softly, her heart still racing from her orgasm. Her fourth one, in fact. His fingers traced up her body, swirling softly across her hard nipples and she arched into him, her body already responding with a need for more. 

“Hmmm,” he murmured into her mouth. “I fear I’ve created a horny monster.” He kissed her again, his tongue exploring, his fingers now lightly pinching and rolling her nipples. She placed a hand on the back of his head and a hand over his at her breast. 

She pulled away from his mouth and moved her hand to caress his face. “You’ve stoked the fire, no question, but this horny monster has always been there. She’s just good at hiding and taking care of herself.” He quirked his eyebrows and hummed, palming her breast and squeezing. 

“I’ll have to see that to really know for sure. Scientific proof and all that,” he smirked as she laughed and kissed her once more. Laying down beside her, she turned on her side to face him, his hand on her hip their only contact. 

She smiled at him and he raised his eyebrows. “What’s that smile?” he asked softly. 

“It’s nothing,” she shrugged, and he shook his head. 

“Nah. I know my Scully smiles, that is not a nothing smile.” 

“You know my smiles?” she asked, already knowing the answer, but wanting to hear it from him. 

“Mmhmm,” he said with a smile of his own as she stared at him, smiling as she looked over his face. “See now, that smile is one is one of intrigue, you’re trying to figure me out.” 

“A given,”she teased, putting her leg over his. He hummed, pulling her closer and she smiled again. 

“There it is, it’s the same but a bit different. I’ve seen it a few times, but now it’s … well it’s gone way past eleven.” He smiled and she grinned wider, remembering the night they watched Spinal Tap, as it poured sheets of rain outside. 

She ran her fingers in his hair and cupped his face, her thumb at his lips. “I’m happy,” she whispered, with a slight shrug. 

He nodded and kissed her thumb. “You weren’t before?” She stared at him and heard all the questions those three words asked. All the worry, the thoughts he was overthinking, and she shook her head slightly. 

“No. I wasn’t,” she admitted softly, as she smiled slowly, her doubts and worries gone, for now at least. All that mattered was the man beside her. The one who saved her time and again. Who came to her without a moment's hesitation when she said she needed him. Who heard she was not herself and came to be sure she was okay, not wanting any ill to fall upon her. “I thought I was, but …” 

He kissed her thumb again and nodded. Turning his head slightly he kissed her palm and then shifted to move over her. Kissing her lips, her legs came around him, her happiness filling her heart as he brought her hands above her head, looking into her eyes, silently asking if she was okay with it. She nodded and he smiled, one of a happiness that matched her own. 

“It’s at least a twelve,” he whispered, and she raised her eyebrows, glancing down his body, and then back to give him a look. He chuckled and shook his head. “My happiness. You have a dirty mind, Miss Scully.” 

She quirked an eyebrow and he shook his head again before he lowered his mouth to hers and she laughed into his kiss. As he began to kiss her body, he softly sang Don’t Be Cruel and she laughed. 

12, 13, 20, 100, she thought, as he kissed her hips, where bruises were beginning to appear. As he kissed them softly, he changed his song to Love Me Tender and she ran her fingers through his hair. 

“Way more than a twelve, Mulder,” she whispered and he hummed in agreement before he once again made her body hum with pleasure. 


Hours later, eyes closed and her head on his shoulder, her body beyond tired, she smiled. Mulder hummed Viva Las Vegas as she tried to find a more comfortable position in the airplane seat. 

“I never knew I’d enjoy being a pinky ring kind of guy, but …” Mulder said quietly and she laughed. Opening her eyes, she glanced down at the horrendously gaudy ring and nodded. 

“We obviously can’t wear them, so …” she explained and he nodded. 

“No, but we’ll know,” he said. “I’ll only need to brush your fingers for you to know that I know.” He lightly held her fingers in his own and it almost felt more intimate than the past twenty four hours. How his touch could do that, she would never know. 

“Best $200 I ever spent,” he whispered and she laughed, closing her eyes and locking her fingers with his. 

She thought of the smile on his face as they were handed their marriage license. The way he so happily handed it to Ann, who grinned when she saw them. The simple sweet Elvis wedding they chose this time, the fun and games were for earlier, the second time was for real. The way she hoped to convey her love in her kiss, when the words still seemed to get stuck in her throat. 

She sighed, feeling like a coward. Then he squeezed her hand and softly sang Can’t Help Falling In Love, and she smiled. 

He knew. And she knew. It did not need to be said. 



Wiping at her eyes once again, she stepped out of the hospital elevator as the doors opened, and walked with purpose down the hall. He was her husband. No one would stop her from where she was meant to be, by his side, as though it had been written in the stars themselves. 

“Agent Dana Scully. I’m Fox Mulder’s wife,” she said, pulling out her badge, as she was stopped at his door. She could see  him in her peripheral and her heart ached. “Please. I need to see him. I'm begging you, please. Thank you.” She put her badge away, no idea what the doctor had said to her. 

She walked to Mulder’s bedside, her love for him propelling her closer with each step. Leaning in, she looked at him, at the man who had married her on a crazy whim, who made her heart race and her blood boil all at the same time, and who she loved unconditionally, to say the words that meant everything to them. 

“Mulder, it’s me.” 


Chapter Text

Mulder stood in his doorway, his eyes closed, the sound of Scully’s heels clicking on the hardwood of the hallway as she walked away. He smiled as he thought of the feel of her thumbs grazing his lips while he drowned in the blue of her eyes. He sighed as he stepped back, closing the door, his hand remaining on it as it clicked shut. 

He carefully took his hat off and hung it on his coat rack. Pulling off his tie, he laid it on the dining room chair and unbuttoned his shirt. Sliding it off, he laid it with his tie and walked over to the couch, sitting down with a heavy sigh, his head absolutely aching. 

Scully was right; he was not in any state to come back to work, but he had wanted to go into the office, needing to get out of the apartment. So many thoughts were banging about in his head, it was hard to know which were true and which had been fabricated. 

The memories of when he had been brought home after collapsing in the stairwell were stronger than others, though they seemed to be a lifetime ago. He remembered Diana being with him, though he did not know how she knew he needed help. 

She was then beside him in his bed, an uninvited guest he could not force her out, his exhausted mind and body unable to do more than lay there. He remembered her voice in his head and then vocally when she believed him to be asleep. The feel of her hand on his face was familiar, but also that of a stranger, and one he no longer welcomed. 

I’m so sorry, Fox.

He heard her tears as she lay her sins at his feet, his forgiveness asked, but the knowledge of her participation too late to put an end to. She laid close beside him, the feel and scent of her all wrong, his thoughts only on Scully. 

In his hospital bed, knowing for certain who she was and what she had done, Diana’s hopeful words of them being together held within them an underlying fear. She had to have known there was not a chance of that happening. The past was long ago and now there was only Scully, the one person he would die for without hesitation. 

He lay in that hospital bed for days, weeks possibly; he had no concept of time. Too many voices continued to clamor in his head, his brain burning and tired, unable to quiet them no matter how he tried to shut them out. But then, one voice, the voice he had wanted to hear the most, quieted all the others. 

Scully had finally come to him. 

He knew she had been on her own journey trying to prove the validity of the discovery of the rubbings they had found. He knew why she was gone, what she was doing, and yet he had ached for her, needing her with him. 

The moment she walked into his room, he felt her voice everywhere, not just in his head. It settled in his heart and his soul. Her words were clear and concise, but her love even more so. It sang out, unable to be quieted, even though she may not have spoken it, or known of it herself. 

Hearing it, knowing it to be fact when it had been something in the background and out of focus, was equally beautiful and frightening. For someone like Scully to be in love with him, was unthinkable. His crusade had become hers and what did she have to show for it? Two months of her life taken from her, her ability to have children stolen, her sister killed, her own health decimated, and for what? For him

He did not deserve her love and yet there she stood, speaking of keys and finding the answers he had desperately been searching for, asking him to hold on, but the words she was not saying rang out louder than anything else. 

I love you. I love you. I love you. Don’t leave me, Mulder. Stay with me. I love you. 

He heard it all, and yet he could not look at her, could not give her the sign she asked of him. Her love for him filled his heart and froze him, knowing he was unable to speak the words to her in return. They were there on the tip of his tongue, screaming inside his head, his heart pounding out the words, but he could not speak them. Physically unable to do it, and also emotionally terrified. 

He was sure he was dying, felt it in his bones. Everything hurt, his mind raced back and forth and he did not want to see her crying over him anymore. 

One sorry son of a bitch. 

Bill had been right to call him that years ago, as Scully lay dying in a hospital bed of her own and he did not have the balls to tell her that he loved her. He had loved her for so long and missed so many chances to tell her. He could not do it to her in that moment when he was sure she was going to die, just as he could not say it as he believed he himself was dying. 

He did not deserve her love. He was a sorry son of a bitch. He had married her, but had never said he loved her. He should have told her every day, but he had not. He knew she loved him just as she had to know he loved her, but hearing it from her, feeling it in ways he never would again, it was a balm on his heart. 

And then Scully was gone. People were speaking around him, about him, and he could do nothing. His mother, her face close to his, her eyes so worried, he tried to call to her, but his body was frozen. 

Then … he was everywhere and nowhere all at once. Things did not make sense and yet made perfect sense. 

You owe me this. I’ve done all you’ve asked of me. 

Diana’s voice had cut into his thoughts, far away and close to his ear all at the same time, no idea where or when he was. 

Oh, Diana. Came his voice, the one he heard like a snake, always lying and slithering close. Your sentimental side will be your undoing. You need to let go of that which makes you weak. But I will see what can be done. 

He floated into a dreamlike life, everything handed to him. Deep Throat was alive. His sister was as well, with three beautiful children of her own. 

Diana. Coming to him seductively, no longer repentant, but happy. They were married, had children, and then she was dead and gone. All of it happening far too fast, like a slideshow on super speed. 

Though fast and confusing, it had felt perfect, exactly what a person should have had- a mate, children, a house in the suburbs, and yet … it lacked something. 

As he lay dying, hearing of all those who had gone before him, one name had broken his heart and brought him to tears. Scully. Scully was dead. His perfect life had been without her. His thoughts of her coming fewer and farther between, until they were obsolete, almost as though done intentionally.

She could not be dead. Not Scully. 

Then suddenly, she was there, walking purposefully into his room, very clearly not only not dead, but confusedly as young as the last time he had seen her, while he himself was old and dying. How was that possible? 

But … she was not his Scully. She was cold, harsh, and cruel. Her clipped words cut him to the core. 

Traitor. Deserter. Coward. 

No, you don't understand. He's taking care of me.

No, Mulder, he's lulled you to sleep. He's made you trade your true mission for creature comforts.

There was no mission. There were no aliens.

No aliens. Have you looked outside, Mulder?

I can't. I'm ... too tired.

No, Mulder, you must get up. You must get up and fight ... especially you. This isn't your place. Get up, Mulder. Get up and fight the fight.

Scully ... Where's Scully? Scully? Scully!

He stood up from his couch, tears in his eyes, as he remembered the desperate feeling of loneliness when she walked out of the room, leaving him despite his cries. He paced his apartment, taking deep breaths to calm himself down. That exchange with her stayed with him, like bold typed print, harsh and dark within him. 

Her appearance, her hard and truthful words, broke into the dreamland he believed was created for him, to lull him to sleep just as she had said. Her appearance and voice made his mind race in ways it had not done in years. He felt confused and scared, not sure if he had ever known the truth, or if the truth had walked out his bedroom door and he was too weak and stupid to chase after it. 

Then he heard her voice again, but not the cruel Scully who had stood before him. Not the Scully who was incredibly angry and not afraid to show him. No. From somewhere, he heard the soft scared voice she only used when she was truly frightened. The one he heard most when his own life was threatened. 

Mulder. Mulder, you've got to wake up. I've got to get you out of here. Mulder, can you understand me?

Mulder, you've got to get up. I don't know how much time we have. You've got to get up, Mulder.

No one can do it but you, Mulder. Mulder, help me. Please, Mulder.

He remembered the horrible and painful screaming in his head, as though he were fighting with two realities, as her words pushed their way to be heard. He was old and dying. But no, he was not, he simply needed to get up, fight, get away from the horrible pain shooting through him. 

He felt something fall on him, something wet, and it was as though it was the magic item needed to break the spell he was under. He opened his eyes and his senses were assaulted by Scully. She was there, all around him, wherever there was, and he knew he would be okay. She had found him. 

You ... help ... me …

He felt the words rasped from his throat as he pulled her close, needing her help, but also to feel her, to know she was real. She held onto him, helping him up carefully. He could smell her and he nearly broke down at the familiar scent of his Scully. 

They stumbled out of the room together, his lumbering weight slowing them down. Down long twisting hallways, she murmured to him to keep going, never letting him go. Her voice was the only thing he heard; her arms around his waist holding him tight was all he felt despite the pain coursing through him. Even when he felt he was about to crumble and fall on his face, she held him up and kept him moving. 

They made it to her car, her gentle hands guiding him carefully to sit down. Her eyes, worried and wet, appeared behind his eyelids as he closed his eyes, his head pounding, his body weak and spent. 

Her voice once again came through, centering him as she spoke, keeping him there with her and not back in some alternate world he seemed to have been living in. Her hand landed on his thigh and he weakly gripped her fingers with his own. 

You’re okay, Mulder. I’m here, I’m here. Stay with me. Hang on, Mulder. We’re going to the hospital.

He had passed out before they made it there. 

He had nightmares in the hospital, which continued even after he had come home. Terrible nightmares, in which Scully was truly dead and no matter what he did, he could not bring her back. No matter how he screamed, or the life saving measures he attempted, she lay cold and lifeless in countless locations. He wanted to die with her, but nightmares are never that kind. He was left to suffer, to live his life without her. 

Diana also made appearances, her eyes unreadable, always watching him. She never spoke, though he tried repeatedly to speak to her. She stood in front of him, silent and stoic, as he fired questions at her. 

Why Diana? You said you loved me. Why would you do this? Was your plan worth my suffering? Is this what I would have done? One suffering to save millions is still one suffering. I would have found another way. Diana … why? 

She shook her head and disappeared down long hallways with many doors. He tried to follow her, wanting his answers, but the doors led to more doors and soon he was back in the room where Scully found him. He knew it by the smell and his own temporarily lucid memories.

Maybe that was Diana’s very last attempt to make things right with him, continuing to lead him back to that room in his dreams, to show him that no matter the horribleness that happened there, Scully would be there to save him. 

For every time, whichever door he chose, he walked into that room. As he stood there, looking down on the table he had laid upon, his pulse rate increased and he would begin to hyperventilate. The pain and fear washing over him until he inevitably felt a hand on his back, and a soft voice speaking to him. 

Scully. She was his constant, even in his nightmares. He could feel her touch, smell her near, and it calmed him. She kept him from falling off the edge in those horrible nightmares, her presence enough to quiet him. In dreams as well as reality. 

She stayed with him for a couple days after she brought him home from the hospital. Administering his medication, checking him for any lasting trauma, and changing his bandage regularly, all fell onto her capable shoulders. He did not remember much of that time as he slept through most of it, his body beyond exhausted. Yet despite the medication he was given, the unrelenting nightmares interrupted his rest until he felt her close to him. 

After she left, he felt so alone, his mind buzzing. He had more nightmares, not wanting to rely solely on the painkillers to help him sleep. He would call her sobbing, needing to hear her voice, to know she was not dead, her blood running across the floor as he had just dreamt. Or her face blue from choking, or her body only bones and found in a shallow grave. 

She took every call, talking to him until he stopped crying, telling him repeatedly that she was there and she was okay. She told him what she had done that day, a story about her childhood, anything to calm him down. He would thank her quietly as he reached for the painkillers, knowing he could not stop taking them, not yet. 

Scrubbing his hand down his face, he sighed, his head still throbbing. He walked toward the kitchen to grab the bottle of medication when his phone rang. His head pounded at the quick reverse of his motion when he walked back to the living room. 

“Mulder,” he said, closing his eyes and wincing as he touched his bandage. 

“Mulder, it’s me,” he heard Scully say, and he smiled softly. 

“Hey, Scully,” he replied lightly, taking a silent breath, not wanting her to hear the pain in his voice.

“I was thinking, I could … bring dinner over later, if you’d like some company,” she said, and his eyes opened, his hand moving from his head. 

“Dinner, huh? Yeah, that sounds great. I could even meet you somewhere,” he said hopefully. 

“Mulder,” she warned, and he smiled. 

“Okay, Doc. I’ll be a good boy and stay home,” he told her. And take some medicine for this terrible pain, he thought to himself; no chance was he going to say it out loud. 

“That’s all I ask,” she said. “What would you like me to pick up? Is there something in particular you’re craving?” 

You, he thought, but held his tongue, knowing he was in no shape for anything of that nature. 

“Whatever you feel like bringing over will be fine,” he said, not caring what food she decided on. 

“So, tofu, greens, and brown rice?” she asked, a teasing tone to her voice. 

“Sure. And I’ll take a double bacon cheeseburger, fries, and a chocolate shake,” he quipped, and she laughed softly. 

“Okay. I’ll be by later tonight. But no fries until you eat some veggies,” she warned. 

“But Moooommmm,” he whined and she laughed again before he heard the phone click off. He smiled as he hung up and then went to find his medication. 


“See? It’s not so bad, you gigantic baby,” Scully said with a roll of her eyes as she took one of his fries. He was swallowing down a piece of the broccoli she had gotten for herself, drinking a large mouthful of tea to chase it down. 

Making a face, he shoved a few fries in his mouth. Shaking her head, she smiled at him, reaching for a couple more fries. He smiled, letting her take whatever she wanted. 

“Anything interesting happen today?” he asked, and she shook her head. 

“You didn’t miss anything,” she smiled, now stealing a drink of his chocolate shake. She raised her eyebrows, but he just smiled, happy she was there with him. 

“I have something for you,” he said quietly, taking the shake from her and taking a few sips. “I’ll be right back.” 

“Mulder …” 

“Just sit tight,” he called back to her as he walked out of the room. He took the package from its hiding place and brought it out to her, laying it on her lap. She sighed as she looked at him and he shrugged. 

“Oh, Mulder,” she breathed, opening it and staring at the painting he had searched for and had professionally framed. “You went out and found this? You were supposed to be resting.” 

“No, Scully, no. I bought it weeks ago. The day after we … after I left your apartment early that morning,” he explained and she stared at him, then looked down at the painting with a sigh. 

She touched it with her fingers, sighing once again. “It is a very beautiful painting,” she said quietly.

“It has a new story though,” he answered, just as quietly. Raising her head, she looked at him questioningly. “We thought the people who live there were on their way home, but I don’t think so anymore.” 

“You don’t?” she whispered, and he shook his head slightly, taking her hand. 

“No, I think they are already home. I think they are upstairs, happy and very naked,” he said and she smiled widely. “I think they had been out, but earlier in the day. I think that a baseball bat, and the basket of balls they carried, have been hastily dropped with the desire to get upstairs and get, as I already stated, very naked.” She was grinning now and he smiled back as she grasped his hand. 

“Perhaps they had been out celebrating a marriage only they knew about, hitting fouls and home runs, the thought of returning for their own private home run, too much to wait for. The balls will have rolled all over, but it will have been absolutely worth it,” she said softly, staring into his eyes. 

He nodded slightly, his fingers rubbing her naked ring finger in slow circles. She smiled and he felt the words on his tongue to tell her, to say how much he loved her, but then she moved her hand, placing it on his bandage. He knew what she was saying, just as he had earlier when she placed her thumbs against his lips. 

It was a promise. A silent vow. They had jumped into this odd marriage, and then life had thrown them hoops and huge hurdles to maneuver. Their faith had been tested and yet they were there together, sharing a meal in his apartment. 

They had time, they had each other. He knew. She knew. They did not need to hurry this, but let it unfold slowly. As they did everything it seemed. 

He nodded at her, his hand reaching to hold her wrist lightly. She smiled, tears in her eyes, but he knew it was not from sadness. He squeezed her wrist and she nodded, taking a breath. 

“Stay,” he whispered, and she nodded again. Leaning forward, she kissed him softly, her hand moving to his cheek, as he closed his eyes. 

This life, this was the one he would choose. 

Every time.