His belly is full of Scully’s good food and his ears are ringing with the bawdy rendition of “Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer” currently being sung by Langly and a surprisingly heavily inebriated Byers. Shorn wrapping paper litters his partner’s ordinarily tidy floor between his feet as he relaxes on the couch, feeling warm with Christmas spirit. The red wine doesn’t hurt, either.
“Yo, Frohike!” he hears Langly suddenly call from his supine position on Scully’s small armchair, “You’ve got Scully under the mistletoe!”
All observing parties turn to glance at the scene in question, noting the presence of a little faux mistletoe branch attached above the dining room table. Frohike looks up and grins. Scully looks amused but not unwilling and makes a comment about being glad she invited the man of her dreams.
Mulder feels ridiculous for even having any kind of emotion about it, but he is relieved when Scully leans down and plants a sweet but very appropriate kiss to the corner of Frohike’s mouth. The little man flushes and grins, gesturing for Scully to come close again and Mulder sees him begin to whisper in her ear. He hates himself for it when he bristles internally. He makes a mental note to give Frohike a word of warning on lecherous comments aimed at his partner, which—thankfully—seemed to have lessened as of late compared to previous years. But still. Things have changed between him and Scully and he can’t help the little flame of jealousy even when he knows it’s likely unfounded.
To Mulder’s surprise when Frohike draws away he sees Scully’s face soften, and a bald-faced glow of affection blooms across her features. She nods, squeezes Frohike’s arm and leans in to whisper something back in his ear.
Mulder huffs and takes another sip of wine.
Following a chorus of holiday well wishes and “safe drive”s, the after-party scene is lit by the overhead bulb on Scully’s stove and a single lamp by the couch. They rinse dishes in companionable quiet conversation, Scully’s portable record player crooning a lush rendition of “White Christmas” behind them and the Christmas tree fills the atmosphere with the scent of moist pine and earth. Everything glows around the apartment; the peace surrounding them filling Mulder with a sense of belonging he’s never imagined experiencing.
He stands beside his partner—enjoying her warmth and company, laughing over the quirky gifts the boys had given them.
“I think we’re going to need to add ‘Judgement Day’ to the list of films for movie nights, now that we’ve established its contents are appropriate for mixed company,” Scully muses as she snaps the soap dispenser hatch closed on the dish washer. Mulder chuckles, a little too mirthlessly.
“No kidding, I found myself a little perturbed when Frohike handed you a VHS-shaped box.”
“Mm hm. Almost as perturbed as you were when you saw me kiss him earlier under the mistletoe?”
He felt his panic face slide into place, almost instantly.
“Look, Scully, it’s none of my business—”
“Mulder. He told me that I seem happy and that he’s grateful that I’m clearly looking after you,” she grins in the playful-Scully way he’s seen so very often these last few months, “You have very good friends, Mulder. I like them, even if they’re…well, a little eccentric.”
“You seem to like those kinds of characters, I’ve noticed,” he remarks ruefully, messily folding a sopping dishtowel across the sink divider. When he meets her gaze she’s shaking her head with bemusement, but her eyes look up at him adoringly.
“You’re ridiculous, you know that?” she coos, a kiss meeting the soft skin beneath his ear lobe. He smiles and leans into the caress with a quiet “hmm”.
From her kitchenette he glances over at the slight mess the holiday party of five have made of Scully’s apartment living room. A pile of cookie and blondie crumb-covered plates sits alongside a mass of festive party napkins on the coffee table. The half-finger gloves Frohike bought Mulder nestle against the jewel case of “Love Deluxe” Langly gave to Scully (“she’s no Poison Ivy, but Mulder said you like her”). Coffee cups and red wine glasses are everywhere.
He thinks of tomorrow. Thinks of the beautiful and expensive cashmere sweater Scully would never, ever buy herself that she will open in front of her entire family in the morning. He isn’t doing it for brownie points, but he certainly isn’t going to be caught giving her a less than laudable gift with Bill Scully undoubtedly glowering at him from across the room. If Scully feels Mulder worthy of presenting before her family, then she deserves a gift worthy of her. And truth be told, he bought the sweater three months ago, well before he even knew he was going to be with the Scullys for the holidays. The sweater had just reminded him of her cheeks when she blushes…he’d felt compelled to buy it, then.
“What are you smiling about?” her voice is mellow now, no longer teasing. He chuckles, helping her to put the last of the dinner plates away in the cabinet above the sink.
“Uh…” he doesn’t know how to put it, this melded feeling of belonging and nerves and excitement that he’s perpetually been walking around with since they kissed and he realized this woman actually wants him in her life and her bed. He has no idea how to express the fact that despite the pain he’s brought her and her family, she welcomes him in every conceivable way, her own mother opening her house and her pantry to him on a day when typically he would have no one.
“I was just thinking…feeling, rather—having friends over for drinks and presents, going to your mom’s for the holidays. Feels like we’re married or something.”
Her expression is unreadable for a few moments as she seems to consider his earlier statement. He feels a small fissure of dread in his belly, but is heartened when she doesn’t seem flighty or uncomfortable. Still, he hadn’t meant to say as much as he did and feels compelled to clear up any discomfort that might tarnish this perfect evening.
“Is this not something we should talk about?” There’s a pause, and he’s about to aggressively rebuke himself for his rash stupidity, but she intercepts him before he has a chance to do so.
“Not tonight, but…this is a conversation that I’d like to revisit in the future,” she murmurs.
He nods, gently touches her hand, and respects her space. He doesn’t mention that he’s quietly felt married to her for years now.
The two of them have been insatiable the last few months, seemingly making up for what they both have occasionally referred to as “lost time”. But tonight he can’t seem to bring himself beyond just touching and kissing her naked skin, wanting to bathe himself in her essence as he listens to the soft noises and sighs that bring shivers to his entire body.
“You smell like heaven,” he groans, dragging the tip of his nose up the toned curve of her vastus lateralis (see Scully, I do read your autopsy reports). Her hips stir between the loose clasp of his palms, her face drowsy with arousal and blessed with a smile. They’re surrounded by rumpled sheets and low lighting, nowhere to be for several hours except wrapped in each other.
“I feel like heaven,” she quips. He moans in acknowledgement as he drifts his fingertips to her mound and gently spreads her open and vulnerable to the touch of his mouth. She whimpers and he grows lightheaded at her wanton display of her need for him. It’s inconceivable to him sometimes.
“You got that right,” he breathes against the heady warmth of her opening before dipping down. He feels her entire body clench and her hand is suddenly in his hair, shaky and weak. He laps, kisses, and nuzzles, knowing his rhythm is slow enough to keep her buzzing but not enough to give her relief.
“God, I love this, Mulder,” she breathes, “I love you.”
His breath catches in his throat at her words, at the tone they’re spoken in. Just when he thinks this day couldn’t get any better…
He can’t help it, he groans and with one final slow lick (she practically growls in pleasure with that) he raises himself above her, bracketing his forearms beneath her shoulders and kissing her. She reaches between their stomachs for him as their mouths meet messily, trying to blindly slip him in and giggling against his lips when she can’t get the angle right. He loves her, too.
“Here, baby, I’m here,” he says needlessly, backing away slightly as their hands meet to gently guide him, hot and slick, smoothly inside her. She falls back amidst a moan of satisfaction, met with his own vocalization of pleasant agony as he follows her down. This moment is almost always the best part, when they just take a breath to feel the aching warmth they both went so long without. When he begins to move again his thrusts are steady and deep, meant to illicit feelings, not just sensations.
“I meant what I said, Mulder,” her voice is husky and honeyed with pleasure in his ear as her fingers scratch soothingly against the back of his head, “I want to have that conversation with you, sometime. I really do.”
He’d been wrong about his day getting any better.
She comes quietly but intensely, her body quivering in his arms as he strokes her hair from her forehead and watches her fall apart. Feeling the heat of her release triggers his own and he buries his face in her neck as they breathe.
A quick trip to the bathroom, a glass of water, and one very brief session of pillow arranging later and they are curled snugly within sheets and quilts, cooling bodies kept warm by soft kisses and whispered endearments related to the holiday season. After ensuring twice that the alarm clock is properly set, Scully finally allows herself to drift to sleep in his arms. He stays awake a while longer, not because he can’t sleep, but because he wants to spend a few more minutes indulging in this contentment. What used to be the emptiest time of year has suddenly become a representation of everything he holds close within him.
Later in the afternoon Scully will tipsily confess to him that her response to Frohike’s mistletoe profession was, “Mulder’s looking after me as well…and doing a very good job of it.”
He’ll spend the evening trying to come up with a plausible lie to state when Bill Scully ultimately asks him why the hell he’s smiling so much.