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Keeping the Stars Apart

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i carry your heart with me (i carry it in
my heart) i am never without it (anywhere
i go you go, my dear; and whatever is done
by only me is your doing, my darling)
i fear
no fate (for you are my fate, my sweet) i want
no world (for beautiful you are my world, my true)
and it's you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life; which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart

e.e. cummings

Blue, blue, everywhere.

On her, under her, around her, as far as the eyes could see, blue.

This must be how it feels to be weightless, to be in space, she thought with a kick of her fins. The mass of the water pressed on her absurdly light body and she would have laughed, if the rubber mouthpiece wasn't making it difficult.

Behind the plastic mask, she watched a small school of silver fish dart by. She felt like one of those fish, her hair streaming behind her like a dorsal fin, her feet transformed into strange marine appendages by the rubber fins on her feet.

The sea had always been a second home to her. Her first memory was being held in her father's strong and tattooed arms as he dipped her in the warm waters of the Pacific. Other memories rushed through her as she kicked along the surface of the sparkling water. Underwater breathing contests with Melissa in San Diego, the two of them ducking under the waves, daring each other to see who could hold out the longest before popping up to gasp a lung full of air. Then there was the memory of walking along the same beach, many years later, her heart swollen with ache for the daughter who'd been pulled from her grasp much too soon. The pounding of the surf on that evening had been the lifeline that kept her tethered, kept her from giving in to the overwhelming despair.

Yes, the ocean was many things to her, as full of mercurial emotions as she herself, but today it only brought comfort and freedom.

She was mostly healed from her shooting, but she had been struggling with a body that still tired easily, that needed more recuperation than usual from the stresses of her daily life. Here in the waters of the Caribbean, she felt as joyfully careless as the fish who swarmed around her, as light as the sea plants swaying on the ocean floor.

Underwater, nothing bad could possibly happen to her.

She took a deep breath and dove to the bottom, just to be able to say she touched it. Then she burst upwards to the surface, to the air, to the light.

Behind the dark lenses of his sunglasses, he was neither awake nor asleep, but in a hazy land in between where his eyes could only focus on the undulation of the Caribbean waves.

From time to time he spotted the black plastic of her snorkel air tube, or the kick of her fins breaking the surface of the water. He wasn't concerned, didn't need to check up on her. The surf wasn't rough on this end of the island, and if anyone knew the moods of the ocean, and her own limitations while in it, it was Dana Scully.

Instead, he lay back on the cushions of the lounge chair, feeling the pleasant lassitude of simply baking in the sun. He was unaccustomed to doing little all day but bronzing, drinking, swimming and making love, but he congratulated himself on his ease in slipping into this new role. After three days, with four more to go, it was getting easier and easier to keep his cell phone turned off and carelessly tossed on the dresser.

If he shut his eyes, he smelled salt and the tropical tang of sunscreen, and the savory odor of chicken grilling at the beach bar. Strains of salsa music were carried in on the breeze and he also heard the laughter of the few other guests lounging in the sand of Playa Palancar. Today wasn't a cruise ship day, so the tiny beachfront resort was nearly deserted.

A scratch-tap on his arm made him open his eyes again and he smiled to see the alert and curiously intelligent face of Lisa, the beach's baby chimpanzee. She belonged to the owners of the resort and spent her days scampering from guest to guest in her Pampers, receiving the attention and adulation that was her due. Mulder handed her a piece of mango from a plate of fruit and Lisa delicately popped it in her mouth, nodded at him in thanks and then took off to madly swing from the branches of the nearest tree.

He turned his attention back to the water and was rewarded with the sight of Scully emerging from the waves, her mask in hand. Despite the awkwardness of walking in fins, she was Aphrodite rising from the clam shell, Ursula Andress in Doctor No, Bo Derek in 10. Okay, she was none of those things, since Scully was most definitely her own woman, no pale carbon copy of a mythical goddess or a forgotten starlet.

She slipped off the fins and threw them onto a safe patch of sand where they wouldn't be washed away by the waves. Unaware he was watching her, she tugged at the bottom half of her bikini, as it had rode up while she was snorkeling.

He'd bought the bathing suit for her, summoning his manly courage and walking into Everything But Water with a full-length photo of her for a size reference. The salesgirls had cooed and fussed over him, declaring him the sweetest thing ever to want to buy a suit for his girlfriend. An hour later he'd walked out with four swimsuits- three bikinis and a one-oiece. Scully had arched an eyebrow at him when she saw the bikinis, but after an impromptu fashion show, with the both of them flushed and sweaty on the floor in the aftermath of the show, she'd agreed to keep all of them. The girls in the store knew their sizes.

The bikini she wore today was black, which emphasized the creaminess of her pale skin, mostly protected by industrial-strength sunscreen. The two pieces of the bottom were tied together with strings tied on each side and he wondered what she'd do if he simply walked up to her and undid the strings right there on the beach. The top had underwire that pushed her breasts up and out in a way he never would have dreamed possible if he hadn't seen it for himself. Peeking from the edge of the bikini, to the left of her bellybutton, was her new tattoo, the small and intricate Chinese symbol for the phoenix. Just above the tattoo was the raised pink scar from her gunshot wound, the reminder that they weren't just any average couple enjoying a week in the Cozumel winter sunshine.

Scully walked toward him with an unconsciously sexy stride, her breasts bobbing in the bikini top, shaking her head like a dog after a backyard hose-down.

Mulder licked his dry lips, feeling the rush of blood rapidly pooling in his groin. It had only been five or six hours since they'd last made love, but he was starving for it again. He felt himself harden against the flimsy green cloth of his trunks and wondered if she'd notice.

He wanted her to notice. Perhaps they'd spent enough time on the beach for the day.

The air was so hot and dry she could practically feel the drops of water sizzling on her skin as she walked out of the ocean. She was a doctor and knew full well the dangers of sun exposure, but the rays felt healing to her after so many months of gray Washington skies and trudging through slush. Weeks and weeks of the pain and itching of flesh knitting itself back together and fitful naps on the couch had made her more than ready for a getaway. Finally, they had escaped, if only for a week of their lives. Down here in Mexico they had no guns, no badges, no witnesses or paperwork. She'd even forcibly separated Mulder from his cell phone. Sure, it was risky to be so unprotected, but she was willing to take that risk to spend seven days simply being a woman at the beach with her lover.

After everything, so much time and pain, they deserved this week.

Her eyes widened as she came closer to Mulder, sprawled out in a chaise lounge in his baggy swim trunks. Three days in the sun had already burnished him golden brown. He was nearly the color of cinnamon toast and twice as tasty, she thought with a smile. She, herself, was simply a faint pink, with extra freckles spread across her nose and cheekbones. Genetics could be awfully unfair.

Scully shook her hair free of excess seawater and moved towards her drowsing partner. She swung her leg over the chaise and sat on his legs, just above the knees.

Mulder's mouth opened. "You're wet," he astutely noticed.

"Water does that to a body, Mulder."

He pushed his sunglasses up into his hair and squinted at her with long-lashed eyes, olive green in the sun. "Guess what else you do to a body," he said, looking down to his lap for emphasis.

She grinned at the sight of his erection tenting his swimsuit. It didn't take much for Mulder, she'd noticed in the few months they'd been lovers. At first she'd assumed his near-constant state of arousal was the aftereffect of finally consummating what was, essentially, a six-year courtship. However she'd come to realize that he was a highly sexed man. Mulder is horny, therefore he is. And she wasn't about to file a complaint any time soon.

Manolo, the beach waiter, came by with a tray in hand and the little chimp riding shotgun on his shoulder. "You folks need more drinks?" he asked, scooping up the empty margarita glasses.

Mulder shook his head. "I've had enough for now. Just a bottle of water."

The waiter looked over at her. "Anything for the missus?"

Scully stifled a laugh. Everyone on the island assumed they were married and on their honeymoon. They must have been giving out newlywed vibes or something. No, they didn't have the papers or rings, and probably never would, but they were as wed to each other as if they'd stood in front of the priest on a Saturday in June. "I'll take some water, too, please," she said to Manolo.

The waiter nodded and walked back in the direction of the bar.

"Mrs. Fox Mulder," he teased.

"I like Mr. Dana Scully better, myself."

He tucked his arms behind his head and indulgently grinned at her. "It makes sense, since you wear the pants in the family."

Sweat was beading down his chest and she fought the urge to bury her face in the sparse dark hairs and sniff his sun-warmed skin, licking away the drops with her tongue.

Mulder touched her cheek. "You like what you see?"

She trailed her hand over the bulge in his trunks and nodded. "I'd like to see even more," she said as a tremor passed through him at her touch.

They hastily paid up with Manolo and packed their beach bags.

They were staying a short walk away from Playa Palancar, just down the road that circumnavigated the island. The walk was dusty and hot, smelling of pure Mexico-exhaust fumes, wilting vegetation and food frying in corn oil. With relief they arrived at the little compound that was Casitas del Carmen.

Their own casita faced the beach, a small adobe structure of a soft blue, covered in lush bougainvillea that somehow thrived in the face of overwhelming heat and dryness. It was one room, simply adorned with a black iron bedstead covered in crisp, white bedding. The floors were covered in blue and gold ceramic tiles and the walls were whitewashed, giving a cool effect to the room.

The chill of the air-conditioned room was a shock to her sun-heated skin and she felt her nipples harden in response against the Lycra of her bikini. She dropped her bag on the floor. "I'm going to take a shower," she said, acutely aware of the fine silt of salt and sunscreen on her skin.

Mulder turned around and she was struck by the ravenous expression on his face. "Don't you dare," he growled.

"But I'm all sweaty-"

He cut her off with a finger to her lips. "I said, don't you dare take a shower. Not yet."

It was funny how times like these were the only ones when she let him boss her around. Especially times when he moved against her and his erection was insistently pressing into her belly. And when he tipped her head back to lick her neck like the salty rim of a margarita glass, no she wasn't going to say a word in complaint.

How did we, she hazily thought as their mouths came together in a seawater kiss, how did we spend days, weeks, months, years together, not knowing it could be like this?

She flashed on despairing nights in anonymous motel rooms in the heartland of America, listening to the rattle of rusty air conditioners, furtively touching herself under the sheets and feeling so alone, so fucking incomplete as she came into her own body after orgasm. Now she knew Mulder had been on the other side of the wall all that time, doing that very same thing, coming alone.

She sighed as his fingers cupped her bikini-clad breasts. "Yeah, I like that," she hissed. "Touch me more."

Mulder looked down at her with surprised and amused eyes.

"What?" she asked, anxious for him to keep doing whatever that luscious thing was he'd been doing with his thumb on her left nipple.

He shrugged. "I just like it when you're talkative, Scully."

Mulder was the vocal one in bed, sending her off to the heavens with a stream of deliciously pornographic words and images. She was more likely to express her appreciation and desire through her body, her touch and small noises and cries.

"You're the gregarious one, Mulder."

Her fingers went back to their whisper-stroke on her nipples and she felt the onrush of heat between her legs. Fine, if he wanted talk, he'd get it today.

She looked up at him, the way his lower lip was swollen and slick from their kissing. Her voice was a raspy whisper. "I'm going to tell you what I want." There was no reason to play coy with Mulder. He was the only one who truly knew her. She took a deep breath. "I want to be fucked, right now. I want you to fuck me hard."

Mulder's eyebrows nearly touched his hairline. Got you there, she thought, strangely pleased she could surprise him after so many years.

He took her hand and started for the bed. She shook her head. "I don't want to get sand in the sheets."

"What a little perfectionist." Mulder snorted a laugh.

"So sue me."

"I'd rather fuck you."

She stood back and smiled with her lips together, waiting to see what he'd do.

In the beginning, they'd had to be so careful. It began with the gentlest of kisses in the kitchen, and then a slow, underwater session of touching in her bedroom a few days later. When they finally made love, while in Greenwich for his mother's funeral, he'd been terrified of hurting her. She'd seemed so fragile, despite her apparent inner strength. The scar was still red on her pale midsection and he'd feared that the weight of his body, the strength of his desire for her, might damage her healing flesh.

But now, Scully was standing before him, entirely healed, wearing the skimpiest of black bikinis. There were no limits now, no holding back. And the everyday world was not about to encroach, either. No ringing telephones or informants, no meetings in the morning or witness interviews. It was life distilled to the simplest elements--man, woman, bed.

And here she was, asking him to be fucked with that shy, yet mischievous look in her eyes.

Mulder had never been able to dream of such a thing, no matter what smutty images had paraded in the depths of his mind. Scully just wasn't the kind of woman who would out and out ask for what she wanted. She wasn't.

But she was and now she pushed the fine straps of her top off her shoulders, licking her lower lip and blinking at him through auburn eyelashes. He stifled a groan, overcome by the dizzying want that coursed through every vein in his body.

This wasn't a time for finesse, for the languorous exploration of touch. That was for later, after the edge of desire had been worn down.

Scully backed up until her back was touching the iron frame of the bed. "Now?" she asked.

He gulped and nodded, overcome by her.

Her small fingers deftly unhooked the clasp of her bikini and she unceremoniously tossed it on the tile floor. The small bottom followed and she stood before him in her pink and white glory, like a pastel sketch by Degas with her oddly flamboyant hips and ass and round little breasts tipped with pale brown nipples.

Turning around, she gripped the frame of the bed. "Now?"

He nodded and fumbled with the knot that tied the waistband of his shorts. Damn thing wouldn't undo with his fingers feeling as thick as carrots. He was at the point of howling in sheer frustration when the string finally came apart in his hands and the material slid down his thighs to puddle at his feet.

Two steps and he was against her, tanned skin against fair, heat touching heat. He took a moment to taste the coconut sweat of her upper vertebrae and she shivered under his tongue, dipping her head lower, her hair a copper waterfall around her face. "Now," she ordered.

He'd never admit it outright, but he was her slave, her footman in livery at her constant beck and call. If Scully asked him to fetch her snow from the Andes at this moment, he'd be out the door with his credit card in hand.

There was no control for him when it came to the woman pressing her lower back into his hard cock. It was his secret, held behind his deadpan facade.

No control, he repeated to himself as her arms reached back and scrabbled for his hips.

As much as he wanted to take her this way, to have her straining and crying out for more as she held onto the foot board of the bed, his sensible self told him that it wouldn't work out, given the eight inch difference in their heights.

Got to think of a better way, he muddily thought to himself. But for some reason, all he could remember were the precise instructions for assembling his CD player (attach Cord A to Cord B and plug in wall socket) and where the Baggage Claim was located at O'Hare Airport.

Luckily for him, Scully was smarter on her feet. God bless women. "Never mind the sheets."

He'd suspected her fastidiousness would run and hide with the overwhelming force of her desire.

She clambered on the bed and grabbed a handful of pillows, settling them under her. With a turn of her head, she looked at him through heavy-lidded blue eyes. "Now," she breathed.

This time, he didn't need to be told twice. Through the weak afternoon light filtering through the gauzy white curtains he saw her spread out for him, her little bottom pushed up by her nest of pillows, her reddish tangle of curls damp. He licked his dry lower lip and climbed up onto the mattress.

I'm not going to hurt her, he thought with glee and relief. We can do anything now.

Mulder nearly sobbed with joy as his skin again touched hers and he slowly pushed his way into her slick tightness. There comes a point in nearly every relationship when sex becomes mundane, but he knew that moment would never come with Scully. She was forever a new territory to explore. Each time they made love tasted different from the last, had an entirely new mood.

This time it tasted like Aveda sunscreen and the silt of beach sand. It tasted like wildness, of splashing in the water as he heedlessly as she sang a chorus of need through her clenched teeth. Scully arched her back as he held her by her upper thighs, trying to go deeper, oh God, yes, deeper still. He could feel her grinding her pelvis into the pillow and he bent his head to her to again taste the sweat running down her spine.

Yes, wildness, like running through the forest in the rain with his gun in his hand, his partner by his side, panting in the dank Pacific Northwest gloom.

But he needed to see Scully, see her face, experience the bliss and power of watching her come. He pulled out of her, nearly screaming at the loss of sensation.

"Wh-wh-what are you--" she stammered.

Mulder's response was to tug her over onto her back. She woozily smiled in response, reaching for his cock with blind fingers and guiding it back towards her warmth. He sighed happily as her legs wrapped around his waist and he slid back up into her.

He paused to kiss her, keeping his eyes open the whole time so he wouldn't miss anything.

Scully broke off the kiss and held his head in her hands. A profound expression crossed her small face and he waited for one of her loving pronouncements. She opened her mouth.

"Now," she said in a gasp.

He bit back his laughter and thrust deeply inside, feeling her answering backthrust.

"Now," Mulder repeated, his eyes involuntarily closing as he moved harder into her. If only they could permanently occupy this space and time. They could just move into this casita, order in room service and spend the rest of their days in a tangle of arms and legs on the white sheets. They'd only get out to shower, use the toilet and to let the maid change the bedding. He'd never have to run down the hallway of a hospital, rushing to her bedside as she lay still and white and full of tubes. There would never be any more nights of sitting vigil in a straight-backed chair while he held her limp hand in his.

But they'd never find the truth.

For right now, the truth was here, her hair spread against the pillow, her hips circling under his. He needed more, needed to be as deep as he could, so he pulled her left knee up and under him. A strangled cry escaped her throat as he pulled out nearly all the way and slid in again. "Moremoremoremore..." she groaned, her eyes rolled back in her head, resembling one of the martyr saints in holy ecstasy.

More, what a joke, he'd be lucky if he lasted another minute. It almost hurt him to hold back, sweat running down his face as he concentrated on keeping his orgasm at bay. He wanted to cover her mouth and stop her from making those noises that made it so damn hard to keep himself in check. Forget thinking of historical dates or something bloody and oozing, he was absolutely unable to leave the present, leave the woman loving him so thoroughly.

The wave struck him like the surf just outside the door, nearly knocking him off the bed as he bucked against her, every muscle gone taut. Never, never, never want this to stop, he thought as he surged into her, letting go. Never.

Scully was smiling beatifically up at him when he opened his eyes. Damn fuck damn, he'd come before her.

His woman was clever, through, and her hand reached between them, just above where they were still joined. A few quick flicks of her fingers and she was biting her swollen lower lip and thrashing under him. It was almost better this way, since he was able to concentrate on her; the way the flush spread across her face, how she pulsed and flexed around his now-flaccid cock. And under him, he could feel the fierce and alive beating of her heart.

He gathered her tighter in his arms and celebrated every beat against her breastbone.

As the sun was setting they set off for Cantina Rosita, just up the road. Freshly napped and showered, they bore virtually no resemblance to the sweating creatures who'd collapsed in a heap on the bed.

Before they left for dinner, Scully phoned the front desk and requested fresh bed linens.

The small restaurant/bar was crowded with Mexican couples who came for the music and the inexpensive drinks, and sunburned tourists who came for the filtered water and sinful guacamole. The band was setting up to play on the terrace that faced the water and Mulder and Scully pushed their way past the bar and found the last table, wedged in the corner.

"I could eat a horse," she said, running her hand through her still-damp hair. It pleased her to see Mulder sitting across from her, not in a suit and tie, but an olive green tee shirt and khaki shorts, glowing from a tan and recent sex.

He laughed as he opened the menu. "Be careful, we might end up ordering horse if we're not careful, since the menu is all in Spanish."

She shrugged. "Doesn't matter, I'm starving."

His eyebrows rose a fraction. "Work up a bit of an appetite?"

Grinning, it occurred to her how odd it was to have a conversation like this with Mulder. Sure, there had always been a certain amount of innuendo from him, but most of the time their topics of conversation had an almost unbearable gravity to them. It made her feel free to just sit at the table in her sundress and sandals and have nothing more important to ponder than what flavor of margarita to order.

Saving the world was all very well and good, but it did get to be terribly tiring.

After long and ponderous thought, she went with her favorite, lime with strawberry swirl.

A male voice made them both lift their heads. "Hey, it's really crowded here. Do you mind if we share this table with you?"

The voice came from the male half of a couple around their own age, sunburned and colorfully dressed. Mulder looked over at her and she nodded in assent. "Go right ahead," she said to the couple, who flashed a look of relief.

Introductions were passed around. "I'm Jim Collier and this is my wife, Suzanne," said the man, dark-haired and boyish-looking.

Scully spoke up. "Dana Scully," she said, as they all shook hands.

Mulder smiled. "I'm Fox Mulder, but you can call me Mulder. I'm not really fond of my first name."

"Catch a lot of hell as a kid?" Jim said, smiling.

"He won't even let me call him Fox," Scully said. In truth, she would rather be covered with boiling oil than have to call him Fox. It just seemed so wrong, somehow.

"We're from Duluth, Minnesota," piped up Suzanne, "escaping the fact that when we left on Saturday it was ten below zero." She was a tall, lanky woman with blonde hair in a blunt bob, wearing a loose lavender cotton dress.

Jim turned to his wife and smiled. "That's not the only reason we came, Suze..."

"Your honeymoon?" Mulder arched an eyebrow.

Suzanne patted her belly and Scully noticed that it was gently rounded under the fabric of her dress. "We decided we had to have one last trip, just the two of us before the baby comes in July."

Under the table, Mulder automatically grabbed her hand. She made sure to smile at the happy couple. "How wonderful for you, are you excited?"

The waitress came by and plunked down the margaritas Mulder and Scully had ordered. A long sip of the sweet-tart liquid was immeasurably soothing.

During dinner, as the two couples chatted pleasantly about the best beaches in Cozumel, politics and movies, Scully stole little glances at the other couple. How innocent and carefree they seemed, their eyes unshaded by tragedy. Jim was a corporate lawyer and Suzanne taught history at a community college. No doubt they owned a three-bedroom house with a nice lawn and had a dog. No one had ever shot at them or abducted them. They weren't missing whole months of their lives. For them major trauma was if the new slipcovers came out the wrong color.

She drank her second margarita and shook her head at herself, as she pretended to laugh at a joke Jim had made. God, how condescending she could be. Everyone's lives had pain and suffering, and who was she to decide what the Colliers had and hadn't gone through? Was she a better person because she'd been called to this topsy-turvy life in the shadows with Mulder? No, she was just different. Who was she to judge normal? They're nice people, she thought, poking at the pile of grilled peppers on her plate.

The band started playing slow Mexican boleros on the terrace. Jim stood up. "If you don't mind, I'm going to dance with my wife before she gets too big for us to get close enough to each other." He took her hand and they left through the French doors that separated the restaurant from the terrace.

Mulder set down his drink, his eyes large and apologetic. "I'm sorry, Scully," he said.

She shook her head. "There's nothing to be sorry about."

"But you didn't need that little reminder."

A sharp puff of air escaped her chest. "Mulder, we can't escape the fact that there are normal people out there living their normal lives-getting married, having kids, buying houses. We may be pretending to be one of those couples this week, but that's not the life we're going to have together."

He reached across the table and grabbed her hands. "I wish we could have that kind of life. I want to give you the things that will make you happy."

She squeezed his hands. "I am happy. This is the only life I know now. I can't imagine things being different. It's just that sometimes I wonder how it would be if everything we deal with just went away and it was only you and me."

Nodding, he simply said, "I do, too."

There would never be any easy answers for them. They could take a brief holiday from their lives, but it was all still there, hiding in the corner and waiting for them.

Leaning forward, she said, "Will you dance with me, Mulder?"

His smile was surprisingly shy. "We've never danced together, you know."

A laugh bubbled out of her. "How soon they forget. What about the night we danced to Cher?"

He smacked his own forehead and she laughed again.

The eight-piece band sang melancholy songs of love. She only knew as much Spanish as the average American who eats in Mexican restaurants knows, but she recognized the words for 'stars' and 'love' and 'soul' from the husky-voiced female singer. Mulder and she were not good dancers, frequently stepping on each other's feet, but there was a wonderful security in being held in his arms, smelling his smell and feeling his growing erection pressing into her stomach. He hummed along with the singer in his sonorous monotone and she allowed herself to relax and be led along with the music under the supernaturally bright stars.

Later, much later, she slipped out of bed and pulled on her white cotton nightgown. Mulder was soundly sleeping and she knew that nothing short of an alien spacecraft landing on the beach would wake him at that point.

She walked in the wet sand, watching the footprints she made in the light of the full moon.

There had been a night, a little over a year before, when she'd walked alone on the San Diego beach, in mourning for her own life. At one point she'd looked at the horizon, wondering if she could continue after everything that had been done to her, done to her daughter. She'd wondered if she'd be able to get out of bed the next day and resume the brisk efficiency of her life.

She'd done it, and survived and even thrived, in a way. She'd found love and while it didn't solve everything in her life, it provided a certain security that allowed her to continue the fight.

The water splashed around her bare feet and she breathed in the clean ocean smell. For the first time in a long time, she felt she was where she belonged.

Tilting her head back, she stared at the stars in wonder.

Eventually she made her way back to the funny little blue casita to rinse her sandy feet off and climb into bed.

Mulder moved against her, his bare chest to her back, skin to skin in the grip that comforted her the most. "Where did you go?" he murmured in her ear in a sleepy voice.

"I watched the stars."

"Did you see anything good?"

Nodding her head, she gasped as his fingers began to trace the swell of her breasts. "I saw our future out there."

His lips pressed against her neck and began to nibble. "What is our future?"

Scully leaned into his chest. "Our future is forever, Mulder."

Even in the dark, she could hear him smile in response.