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Fowley had her hands on her hips, her lipstick spread a little too wide on her face.

“I’m not here to make friends Agent Scully, I’m here to help Fox.”

The use of his first name was getting on her nerves and her implication that Scully was just lint to be brushed off Mulder’s shoulder was getting under her skin. She worked here too, god damn it.

She took a steadying breath through her nose, trying to maintain her poise.

“The X-Files isn’t ruled by hegemony,” Scully said, “it’s a partnership.”

“Then why don’t you have a desk?”

It was a purposeful cut, the gloves coming off, and Scully both relished it and was annoyed at its callow nature. If that was how it was going to be, fine

She stood up straighter and walked casually around the side of Mulder’s desk and sat down in the chair. While maintaining eye contact with Fowley, she opened the top drawer and pulled out a hot pink nail file and set it to the edge of her finger.

Fowley eyed what she was doing. Marking her territory. It all but crowed I keep tampons in here, too.

“I’m going to ask you to leave my office, Agent Fowley.”

The woman scowled, but turned without a word and sauntered out the door.

Scully then did something she wasn’t proud of. Something she hadn't done since she was a teenager. 

She flipped Diana off as soon as her back was turned. 

 

Chapter Text

1. He’d been on the phone with her when it happened. The sharp bleat of a police siren, the slam of a car door, some tense chatter in the background, then, “Scully, I gotta-“ Click. Nothing. 

She’d shouted his name into the phone, then grabbed the baby and the diaper bag and drove way too fast to her Mom’s. 

2. She didn’t tell her mother why she was there and Margaret didn’t ask.

Once William was in the pack-n-play under her mother’s watchful eye, Scully ducked into the small half bath and allowed herself to feel for exactly five minutes. Half-hyperventilating sobs, a keen so high only dogs could hear it. Snot running down her face, hands shaking, half-moon dents in her thighs where her nails dug and dug and dug until finally one broke.

The second-hand of her watch hit the 3 and she took one bracing breath and tore off six squares of cheap, one-ply toilet paper. Two swipes under her nose, a delicate brush under her eyelids, and into the trash it went. 

The wallpaper in the bathroom had long, vertical stripes in maroon and she flashed on a prison cell. She left the bathroom in a rush and punched the light switch with far too much force.  

3. Three days later, she pushed into her apartment with arms loaded down; a bag of groceries in one hand, diaper bag slung over her shoulder, keys practically falling out of her hand, infant car seat slung through an elbow—the heavier Nuna, because the Gracco didn’t seem as sturdy. 

It was coming on dusk outside and her apartment was dark, honeyed light leaking in behind her through the open doorway. Then, a sound; a rustle of clothing, a whisper of skin on ticking stripe fabric.

He rose from the couch like a resurrection, crespucular as a lightning bug, and she froze, the keys clattering to the floor. 

“Scully?”

Chapter Text

1. He’d never had her picture up on his desk, didn’t even have one in his wallet. If anyone thought it odd—even his new partner—no one ever said anything.

After their third case, Scully finally asked him her name.

“Lauren,” he said, and left it at that.



2. It amused him how short Scully was, how she’d have to tip her head almost all the way back to look at him when he stepped up into her space. Sometimes he did it just so she’d have to. But she is never flustered by it, never alarmed. Sometimes he thinks she is maybe amused by it, too.



3. His wedding ring is nicked, scuffed, scratched. Dull and lifeless. He used to take it off when he went to the gym, trying to save the shine from the textured-grip bars of the free weights, but now he doesn’t bother.
Some days he daydreams of flushing it down a toilet at the Hoover, flinging it into the Potomac, but he’d get an earful about it at home even if he claimed it was an accident and he doesn’t want to catch the grief.



4. It was a hot day, stifling, the kind of brutal DC weather they usually got in July, but it was only early May. Nevertheless, they’d both agreed they needed to get out of the office for lunch. There was a cafe just past Ford’s Theater they both liked and it was her turn to pay.

He was holding down a rare open table, lost in thought, when Scully handed him a styrofoam cup of iced tea with the good, pebbled ice, a lemon wedge she’d already squeezed in. He thought of her fingers touching the skin of the lemon and the lemon touching his tongue.

“Are you okay, Mulder?” she asked. He vaguely wondered when was the last time Lauren had asked him how he was. He couldn’t think of it.

“Never better,” he said, and shot her a grin.

The sun was coming through the window just so, and it slanted on her hair; it shone like a new penny. She reached out and squeezed his shoulder.

“I’ll be right back with the food,” she said.

He could still feel her grip as she walked away.



5. Lauren  was a brunette, leggy, an only child who acted like it. She had pouty lips and full even breasts with nipples the color of sun-drenched brick. She was an executive at a PR firm, had clients that were dick-pic sending senators, cheating congressmen. She was trying out vegetarianism, and liked her martinis dry.

She had gone to Mexico with a bunch of girlfriends for her 30th birthday and she’d called him at 1:00am Pacific time on the night of and slurred “you don’t even know what you have.” When she got home, she told him she wanted to have a baby.



6. He would have never been into Scully in high school, probably not even college. She was short, smart and a little prickly because of it--she had a beauty mark she tried to hide and soft daylily hair.

She had only started to figure out how best to dress her body in the last year or so, and Mulder found her comportment utterly captivating. Gone were the overlarge blazers from their first year or two together, with the big buttons and the monster shoulder pads. Scully suddenly had a waist, a bust, shapely legs emerging from sharply cut pencil skirts, trim ankles that dipped into three inch pumps.

“Is your partner still shopping at TJ Maxx?” Lauren would ask, about every 4 months.

Mulder would always answer “yeah."



7. He started taking more cases out of state, and Scully never once complained. She would simply meet him at the airport with a smile, sometimes a coffee, and a light “you ready to go?”

There were times he caught her staring at him, a thoughtful look on her face. She had learned long ago not to ask about Laura, though sometimes she asked him how he was doing, and he knew it was the same question.

Finally, on an airplane over Utah, he blurts, “Lauren wants a baby.”

Scully, next to him in the window seat, nods once and then reaches out to slowly lower the sun shade, then turns to him.

“Do you want a baby, Mulder?” she asks, and he doesn’t answer right away. He’s thought about it a lot.

“I thought maybe I didn’t,” he says, “but…” with that one word, he notices the way her breathing changes, hitches a little. On her lap, the fingers on her right hand flex. He makes a decision, steels himself. “But… lately when I think of having a baby, it only ever looks like you.”


8. He doesn’t see her for over a week after his mid-air confession, and her absence has his gut roiling. When she comes back, she has freckles sprinkled across her nose and she acts carefully normal.

He acts carefully normal, too.


9. Two months after that, he stands up from the desk and shrugs on his suit coat. It’s just after 1pm.

“I gotta get to court,” he says, and Scully half-rises from where she sits, a look of surprise on her face.

“We have to testify?" she asks.

“No,” he says, holding up a hand to stop her, “just me.” She retakes her seat.

“Which case?” she looks puzzled, usually she’s the one who talks with whichever DA, schedules the legal stuff.

He pauses in the doorway, flattening out his collar.

“Mulder vs. Mulder” he says, and leaves before he can see her face.


10. He races into the hospital, pell mell, not knowing where to go, his thoughts running too fast to articulate what he’s looking for when he grasps at a passing nurse. Finally he gets it out and she points him in the direction of the elevator, says “ninth floor.”

He almost trips over his own feet as he enters her room, the door bouncing off the rubber doorstop.

“Scully,” he says out of breath.

From the bed, her face is wan, but her eyes brighten a bit when she sees him. Her hair has grown out since her short bob days and hangs limply over her shoulders, lightly snarled in places.

“Mulder,” she says, and he walks lightly to the bed, sinks down next to it on his knees.

On her chest rests a small bundle, wrapped in a blue and pink striped blanket.

“You have a son,” she says on a tired smile, and turns the baby so he can see its face.

“He looks like his sister,” he says. He still can’t catch his breath.



 

Chapter Text

She has gotten good at saying “thanks, but no thanks.” 

She has tried out different phrases, testing each one to see how it feels on her tongue. Each rejection she doles out has a different flavor, and she can’t quite pick out her favorite. 

 

“I’m not in the market,” she says to the dermatologist, like he’s trying to sell her a new car. 

“No, thank you,” to the gynecologist — quick and direct because she’s never been able to figure out their career motivations, and she’s always a bit weirded out. 

“I’m flattered, but seeing someone,” to the pediatric surgeon. She’s seen the way he is with his patients and wants to let him down easy. He’s a good guy. 

Ophthalmologists, Orthopedists, Oncologists (she’s had quite enough of those, thank you), every specialist in the O’s and on down through the alphabet, they’ve all had a go. 

 

Her favorite is when Mulder is nearby, when suddenly she feels his presence--all lumbering six feet of him. He looks like Grizzly Adams and walks like he still carries a gun. There had been rumors around the hospital about his existence for years, but he’s only recently felt comfortable showing his face in public again, and even then only in short bursts. They scurry away quickly after one sharp hazel look.

“You should tell them we’re married,” he says, as he walks her to his car in the Outer Pleiades of the hospital parking lot. Her car is in the shop again.

“You should have parked in my spot,” she says, feeling the shoes she’s been in all day rubbing her heel raw. 

“I don’t like the surveillance,” he reminds her, and nods towards the camera pointed right at her empty parking space near the hospital entrance. “You should tell them we’re married,” he says again. 

“Mulder,” she says, her voice a little bit warning, a little bit guilty. 

He’d gotten her tipsy and talked her into a hand fasting ceremony in the rainy mountains of North Carolina when they were still on the run. He’d been goofy and happy and they’d felt safe. She still remembers it fondly; him passing her a flask of whiskey and impressing upon her the traditions of her Celtic forebears. 

She'd weakly argued in the days and years since that it wasn’t a legally binding ceremony, that they weren’t really married, but Mulder always reminded her that it was sometimes accepted in the eyes of her church, and anyway, they were common-law by now in at least half the states in the union. 

She finally flops into the passenger seat of his Explorer, immediately kicking off her shoes and reclining onto the headrest. She hears his door close, but the engine doesn’t turn over, so she finally rolls her head to look at him. His eyes are bright, his beard a bit bushy, but she can still see the bones of the man she fell in love with. 

“You should tell them we’re married,” he says again, giving her a significant look and then purposefully lowering his gaze so that she follows his line of sight. There on the console, in one of the cup holders is a small dark jewelry box. 

She looks at it a long moment. 

“Go ahead,” he says, when her eyes flicker back up to meet his. 

She reaches down and gently lifts it from where it rests, feeling the soft suede of the box on the tips of her fingers. 

When she finally lifts the tiny lid, a brilliant, single solitaire shines up at her as if it’s lit from within. The band is silver or platinum—she can’t tell which.

“Mulder,” she says, her voice full of wonder. He finally smiles at her. 

The words Tiffany & Co. are pressed neatly in silver script on the silk lining of the top of the lid. 

“I always thought they came in little blue boxes,” she says, still not pulling the ring out from where it sat. She can't take her eyes off of it. 

“Common misconception,” he says, “or so I’m told by my dedicated saleswoman, Svetlana. Apparently the black best sets off the brilliance of the diamond.” He shrugs at her, pleased that she seems pleased. “It came in a little blue bag, though. I have that if you want it.”

She doesn’t say anything, just stares at the ring, half wishing her mother were here to see it. 

Finally, Mulder turns the key in the ignition and reaches out to squeeze her knee before he puts the car in gear. 

“You should tell them we’re married,” he says, one last time. Then, “maybe now they’ll stop asking."

Chapter Text

Not everything is about you, Mulder.

Maybe not, he thought as they sat in silence, but this one sure as hell felt like it. 

He looked at her as she looked at her lap, the thoughtful quietude of the room stretching until it felt like there was an ocean between them. She hadn’t said a word about her diagnosis since she’d told him about it, and now was definitely not the time to bring it up. 

In the stillness of the office he could practically hear the buzzing of the tattoo gun, imagined the tigers, anchors, skulls on the wall.

She’d inked the small of her back, the place he usually rested his hand when they walked. The psychologist in him wondered if she’d done it on purpose. 

Ergot on her skin, St. Anthony’s Fire in her blood. 

Cancer in her brain.

He wondered if she knew what the ouroboros stood for: life, death, rebirth. Alchemy. Was she thinking of the Gnostics when she chose it? Was she thinking of Leonard Betts? Metempsychosis, the ancient Greeks called it — the transmigration of souls. Reincarnation.

When her soul left her body, would it wait for his? If it didn’t, he would go and find it. 

Chapter Text

 

 

1. He wore a ring, but never mentioned a wife. Nor should he, she supposed; they’d only just been assigned to each other, they’d only just met. 

She considered that perhaps he was a widower, but didn’t feel comfortable asking. She thought maybe he was just a closed off, private man, until she found herself on his hotel bed in her robe, and he was telling her all about his family, his missing sister. 

Then they had been three cases in, and there was still that ring. She finally asked him his wife’s name. 

“Laura,” he said.

She’d heard enough men talk about their wife in that tone of voice to know the relationship was not one like her parents, was not one she’d want herself. 

She felt something close to pity.

 

 

2. He saved her life in the Twin Cities. 

Donnie Pfaster was something more than evil, and when he told her he’d prepared himself for what he was going to see, she’d wished he’d prepared her, too. She was so thrown by the case that in addition to seeking out Karen Kosseff and availing herself of the therapist services supplied by the Bureau, she had plowed right past the fact that her partner had taken on the case for the sole purpose of taking her to the Redskins/Vikings football game. 

A date. 

 

 

3. She’d been with married men. She’d seen what havoc could be wreaked from the pursuit of such a relationship, and she had decided long ago that she would never do it again. 

Mulder had become her best friend. Lately, her only friend. Their reassignment had been difficult, but she talked to him more days a week than she didn’t. She tried not to notice that she was number one on his emergency contact list, and Laura was number two. 

She loved him as a friend, loved him as perhaps something more, but wasn’t convinced of his feelings for her until she was sitting atop Skyland Mountain with her hands tied in front of her, bound and gagged, and amongst a confusion of lights and sound, Mulder stumbled onto the scene, appearing as if from a TARDIS, and threw a haymaker so vicious it knocked Duane Barry out cold. He kicked him in the gut for good measure, and then tenderly removed her bindings, scooped her up in his arms and carried her down the mountain despite her shaky protestations that she could walk. 

 

 

4. She had met Laura only once, near the beginning of their partnership. 

Laura had dropped by their office to take Mulder to lunch on his birthday and had arrived 30 minutes early. As Mulder had told Scully he’d planned to meet his wife in the lobby, she concluded that Laura had shown up early on purpose, most likely with the sole intention of meeting Scully in the flesh. 

She’d given Scully an assessing once-over and then smiled at her with barely concealed  conceit and distaste. She then turned on her clippy Manolo’s, and purred Mulder’s first name. 

He had the look of a man headed to the gallows. 

 

 

5. Scully had tried dating. For a while she accepted every offer, let her mother set her up on blind dates, went through the produce section of her local market with a wandering eye. 

In the end, she had a few second dates, two one night stands, and a heart that was closed to all but one. 

Each night she would soak in the bath until she pruned, cry until the water turned cold and lament her role as Eponine. In the morning, she would meet her partner at the airport, hand him a coffee and a cheerful smile and board the damn plane. 

 

6. “You’re in love with your partner.” Missy said it as a statement rather than a question. 

They were trying an organic tapas restaurant her sister had found and Scully’s appetite disappeared before Melissa had finished the sentence.

“Missy!” she said with horror and embarrassment, which Melissa brushed aside with a flick of her wrist.

When Scully was 12 and 13, she kept a diary. No matter how well she hid it, Missy would always find it, pick the lock, and read it back to her whenever she walked in her room. 

Now that they were older, it didn’t matter if Scully’s secrets were at the center of a maze; Missy was forever Theseus, gaining its center and slaying the minotaur. Scully could keep nothing from her--she didn’t even know why she tried.

“I can hardly blame you,” Missy plowed on, popping an olive into her mouth, “he’s a dish.”

Scully slumped in her seat.

“So’s his wife,” she said.

Missy narrowed her eyes at her sister.

“Is she mean?” Missy asked. 

Scully wouldn’t answer. 

“I knew it,” Missy said, then, “how mean? Like on a scale of Heathers?”

Scully touched a napkin delicately to her lip. “Shannon Doherty” she said, with all the dignity she could muster. 

Missy leaned back in her chair. “You and I are going shopping,” she said. 

 

7. On an airplane over the arid West, Mulder told her, in no uncertain terms, that he was in love with her.

When their plane landed, she called Skinner and requested a week of PTO and an immediate transfer. She would not be a homewrecker again. She would not

After three days next to a pool in Key Largo, Skinner called with an offer: Salt Lake City, take it or leave it. 

Three days later, drained of tears and out of sunscreen, she called him back: leave it. 

She returned to work on Monday. She pretended she never heard. 

 

8. Two months later, Mulder stood in the doorway of their office and told her he was on his way to divorce court. 

Scully sat at her desk, dazed, thrilled, scared out of her mind. A laugh bubbled up from inside her and burst into the dusty air at the bottom of the Hoover building. 


9. Six weeks after the paperwork went through, Mulder showed up at her door at 9:00pm on a Friday and kissed her soundly on the mouth.

Five minutes later they were completely undressed, each het up to the point of frenzy. When she sunk down on him, took him all the way inside of her, she felt something pass between them, something heady and true. From that moment on she would always be a little less of a skeptic.

Later, when he was tracing lazy patterns over her skin with his fingers, their heads just touching on the pillow, he asked thoughtfully, “Is this what forever feels like?”

She took a moment to just look at him. Then, “Yes,” she said, matter-of-factly. 

“I never knew,” he said, his voice full of wonder. 

 

10. Two years later, in a bed in Bellefleur, Oregon, in the place where it all started, he looked up from in between her legs and licked his lips thoughtfully. 

“You taste different,” he said. 

She did some quick math in her head, then reached down and ran her fingers lightly through his hair. 

“I think we should go back to DC,” she said with a tremulous smile.

 

Chapter Text

She had opened the connecting door to Mulder’s room just as he emerged from the bathroom, a towel wrapped around his waist, slung low. He was bare-chested, using another towel to dry his hair. She paused, and he caught her staring.

She was still wearing the burgundy blazer and skirt set she’d been in all day, but had stepped out of her shoes and pantyhose.

He gave her a slow smile. 

“Dr. Scully,” he said on a nod. 

She decided to play along.

“Agent Mulder,” she said, nodding back. 

“Are you feeling alright?” he asked, as he moved into the room, running the towel one more time through his hair before he tossed it casually on the bed. He turned to her. “You look a bit flushed.”

“Do I?” she said, and he took a step toward her. He nodded. 

She felt flushed. Rubicund and aroused. Game to see where he took this. 

“I feel…” she wondered what she was about to say. 

He took another step toward her, the skin of his chest bronzed in the amber light of the hotel lamp. 

“What do you feel, Doctor Scully?” he asked, his tongue darting out to wet his full lower lip.

She followed his tongue with her eyes.

“You want a clinical assessment?” she asked, her voice sounded breathless and lusty, even to her own ears.

He nodded slowly.

“I’m feeling things in the southern part of my abdomen.”

He took another step towards her, shuffled his feet closer, his toes gently bumping into hers. She got a quick whiff of his aftershave mixed with the sweet smell of soap. She could feel her panties dampen.

“Describe these feelings,” he said, his voice low, barely above a whisper.

“It’s an ache,” she answered, a delicious fucking ache.

He blinked once, slowly, reached out one finger, ran it from her elbow to her wrist, his touch barely a graze. The hairs on her arm stood on end under the fabric of her jacket. 

“An ache,” he whispered, and she nodded, the ache accumulating need. “How southern are we talking?”

Her mouth began to water. She undid the single button on her blazer, which fell gently open. 

His throat bobbed. 

“South is my favorite direction,” he went on. He moved his finger to press gently into the white blouse over the skin of her belly, and dragged it agonizingly slowly down. She could feel her nipples pucker under the scratchy lace of her bra.

He started in lean down to her incrementally, and stopped when his lips where mere inches from hers. She felt one puff of breath. 

“Deep,” she said, “deep south-“ before she finished the word, his lips were crushing hers, his arms were around her, grabbing both globes of her ass in vice-like fistfuls, pressing her throbbing sex into an absolutely monstrous erection lifting the front of the towel he still barely wore. 

She whimpered, thrusting her hips into him. 

He pulled his lips back in a hiss.

She felt the blossom of power unfurl in her chest as control shifted from him to her. She moved her lips to his ear. 

“Do you have a treatment recommendation?” she whispered, before latching her teeth onto the flesh of his earlobe. He groaned into her collar, then she felt his own teeth gently crimp into the skin of her neck. 

“Just one,” he said, then licked the skin where his teeth had been. 

The towel then slid from his hips as if he’d planned it. She looked down at his erection proudly bobbing between them, then met his eyes; they were hooded, brimming with lust. Without looking away, she reached behind her to unzip her skirt, then shifted her hips, letting it fall to the floor to pool around her ankles. She shrugged her shoulders once and the blazer dropped down beside it. Mulder’s nostrils flared, but he didn’t look away. 

Maintaining eye contact, she put her hand to his shoulder and pushed him gently backward and he took slow steps until the back of his knees hit the bed. He sank down slowly on it, and she crawled onto his lap without ever looking away. 

He gave her a small nod and she returned it, then reached down to pull her panties aside as she sunk down onto him. Both their eyes finally fluttered shut. She tipped her head forward until it rested on his shoulder and then started rocking slowly into him, feeling stretched, filled, replete. 

“Scu-“ he barely managed to whisper, and then he reached out and rested his hands onto her hips, squeezing her gently with each thrust. She reached a hand out to run through his hair and he looked up her as she looked down, astounded by what she saw there. 

His hips started rising to meet her, so she reached her hand under his arm and then up and around his shoulder, twisting as she grasped until he had her flipped, her hair fanned out around her face, Mulder’s ever-quickening thrusts pinning her to the mattress. 

“More,” she said, and he obliged, the wet slap of their bodies the only other sound in the room. 

With a growl, he reached down and jerked at the scrap of her panties, tearing the fabric and yanking them off. With the sound, there came on a rawness to their coupling, something base and feral. She raked her nails down his back and began to feel the bright throb in her womb, the onset of her undoing. 

With a tameless shout, she came undone, lights flashing behind her eyes. Mulder followed with a hoarse call of his own, pumping into her one last time before he slumped half onto the bed next to her. 

A dull ringing in her ears, she just heard his muffled question.

“Are you okay?” he asked, still trying to find breath. 

She turned her head, pressed a kiss to his damp shoulder. 

“Just what the doctor ordered,” she said.