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Burdens Seem to Fall

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They didn’t do this a lot.

Sometimes they kissed goodnight – chaste, warm, comforting. When she fell asleep on his couch and had to remind herself to leave, he would kiss her sleep-messy hair at the door. When he was hurting and there was nothing she could do but put her lips to his knuckles. When night had fallen too early and the movie had finished too late, she kissed his temple as she arranged a pillow on her sofa.

Some nights were different, though. Dark nights that fell after darker days when they hadn’t saved anyone, or when their office smelled faintly of cigarette smoke. Nights when her wine tasted more like regret than relaxation, and her bath was too hot and too cold. They were quiet nights if they spent them together. Bad television programmes that Mulder chose. Scully would brew coffee that they rarely drank before they fell asleep or reopened the bottle of Scotch which lived in a kitchen cabinet.

Those nights usually ended with a kiss at the door that did nothing to calm her and everything to make it impossible to sleep. Tonight was one such night.

She placed the lid of the French press gently, reaching for two mugs from the rack next to her sink. She only ever used two – one for tea and one for coffee each day. She was rarely home, anyway, and she rarely had more than one visitor. Rarely had even one, recently, and she didn’t want to think about the last time her mother was here.

She thought that normal people – people with lives and friends and families – would call them 'guests'. Scully didn't ever have guests, nor did she wish to. She had herself, and she had visitors, and she had Mulder. On the increasingly rare occasions that she spent the night with someone else, she never invited them here.

She heard Mulder move behind her, and he knocked quietly on the doorframe, as though asking permission. He waited only for her to turn around and look askance before he entered. She leaned against the bench and sighed. He stopped in front of her, placed a finger under her chin and lifted gently. She inhaled deeply, trying to centre herself, and instead smelling nothing but fresh coffee and Mulder.

It was never Scully who initiated kisses like this, because some nights her body was easier to ignore than others. And after days like today, like those few others which had drained them both of energy and will, she didn’t trust herself not to ask.

She knew, in a sense, that she would never ask. It wasn’t fair, and she respected them both far too much to let herself. Because the guilt would be hers if he said yes and his if he said no, and she wasn’t prepared to put that on either of them. She was well aware that theirs was not a typical relationship by any definition. Their relationship had never been sexual, and usually that was fine. They were more than colleagues, friends, more than family or lovers. They just were, and although it terrified her sometimes, Scully had no intentions of changing it.

Sometimes, though, sometimes she needed something more. Needed someone, some kind of release from whatever pent up havoc had been wreaked on her life. She needed him, although she would never say it. Usually, she ignored it, and pulled away from him when she felt heat start to rise in her cheeks and thighs.

Tonight, though, something in her usual resolve vanished, and when he kissed her, she placed a hand on his chest. It wasn’t a lot, but it was more than she had ever dared when he kissed her like this, open mouthed and decisive. He stepped into her, against her, his hand moving to her face, palm against her cheekbone, fingers curling just a little in her hair. Her own fingers pressed into his chest as he brushed two down behind her ear. She shivered despite herself, sliding her hand up, wrapping it around the back of his neck and pulling. He met her tongue with his own as she ran it across his bottom lip.

She barely noticed that they were moving until Mulder pulled away just enough to switch on her bedside lamp. His hand came back to her hip and she looked at him for the first time since he'd kissed her. She felt her face redden and cursed herself for it, but it seemed to be what Mulder was waiting for.

Mulder sat on the edge of her bed, with her legs wrapped around him. She shifted onto her knees, feeling slightly more in control of herself. A wry smile forced its way onto her face – like this she was taller than he was. He looked carefully at her face, studying her eyes, her mouth. She closed her eyes against the intensity.

Lowering herself onto his lap, she felt the hardness of his belt through her slacks, the softness of him underneath. It suddenly occurred to her that doing this meant exposing herself completely to him; submitting, in a sense. She wasn’t used to that, had never been touched without touching, watched without watching.

It wasn’t that she thought he expected it, but that she knew he didn’t. She knew that his interest in sex was not his own physical pleasure, that his interest in sex was not in fact sexual at all, and wasn’t totally sure how to deal with that. But he nuzzled into her jaw, and she also knew that this wasn’t a favour. It wasn’t a consolation prize, or a gift. They were still them, after all, and while she needed this, physically wanted him, he needed her, too.

There were a thousand things that she probably should have said, and she said none of them. Every apology and question, every request and self-admonishment, every excuse and assurance seemed inadequate. So she said what she had always said to him when she needed him to understand.

Simply, “Mulder…”

Then quietly, his response, “I know.”

And then he was kissing her again, hands now circling her waist, moving steadily up, pausing to palm her breasts through her shirt. She arched forward, into his belt, and he kissed the skin above the neckline of her tee shirt. She felt heat burst across her chest and face even as her skin prickled, her nipples hardening against her bra. Mulder's arm wrapped around her back, sliding a hand under her shirt, up between her shoulder blades, into her hair and down again.

She leaned back and pulled her shirt over her head. She held it in one hand, didn’t drop it until the arm around her hip pulled her down against him.

She felt him shift under her, his hardness beginning to press against her and she placed a hand on his belt in question. She was a medical doctor; she knew that his apparent arousal was a physical response to stimulation, but she needed him to tell her. His free hand skimmed down her arm, and covered her own. Almost imperceptibly he shook his head. Nodding just as slightly, she uncurled her fingers from the buckle, resting her hand just above, over his shirt.

He brought her hand to his mouth, kissed her inner wrist. His breath came hot over her skin as his thumb crossed her palm. She shifted, trying to cover the shiver that it sent through her. She licked her lips, catching the lower between her teeth as Mulder kissed her jaw. Her arms fell over his shoulders, one hand in his hair, fingernails grazing across his nape.

Mulder kissed, sucked a path from her neck to the cup of her bra, and she wondered whether it would leave a mark. She immediately chastised herself for hoping that it would. His mouth followed the curve of her bra, and she reached one hand behind her to unhook it. She let it fall open, but didn’t shrug it off. She was unsure, again, of how far this was allowed to go. Of what he wanted, and of how exposed she was willing to be in front of him. She refused to call it vulnerability, but it didn’t feel altogether different.

Large hands ran up her back, over her shoulders and down her arms. She leaned back to give him enough room to remove her bra, pressing herself down against his belt again. At the same time, Mulder’s kissing, sucking resumed, leaving a pattern of quickly-fading red marks on her pale breasts. When his lips caught her nipple, her gasp was loud, needy, and she felt her face heat with embarrassment and arousal. She had built a life for herself without need, relied on intelligence and commitment, on ambition and a right hook. She hadn’t even relied on God, hadn’t let herself need Him. And yet here she was, needing.

There had been times, of course, that he had seen her undone, watched sympathetically as she clenched her jaw, bit a trembling lip, failed to hold back her tears. It was entirely another thing for him to be the one to undo her. He had always been there to pull her back together; to put the string she had dropped back into her hands so that she could re-tie the knots that made her. To help her pull them tighter than before.

But tonight she didn’t need to be put back together. Tonight the knots were tangled and too-tight and fixing it was easier, so much easier, with two sets of hands.

He pulled her firmly against him, and suddenly she was leaning into the familiar feel of her bed against her back. His right leg nestled between hers, pushing up as she gripped his shoulder through navy blue cotton and flicked her hips. She was barely controlling her breathing anymore, allowing herself a gasp when he licked across a nipple, a groan when a roaming hand pinned itself between her and his thigh. She let her fingers tighten on his bicep and leave small red crescents on his shoulder blade.

He kissed her sternum, her breasts. Her back arched into him, his mouth warm around her nipple, sudden rush of cold air when he pulled back to flick his tongue over it. He continued until she was breathless, shaking against him, although whether for arousal or anticipation, she wasn't sure.

She pulled with the hand against his shoulder, and he went. He kissed her hard, just as breathless, and that was it.

Suddenly needing him wasn’t so hard, as he left a fast trail of small, wet marks down her chest and stomach, and her hand tangled in his hair. Her slacks were quickly unbuttoned, removed along with her shoes. She heard his own hitting the floor, watched him move back to lie between her legs, felt his stubble scrape neatly against her thigh as he mouthed the band of her underwear.

She raised the knee that wasn’t trapped under his arm and he understood, hand running from the back of her knee to her hip, wrapping around just enough to take the cotton in his fingers and pull down, tossing the underwear on the floor with everything else. His breath was hot on her thigh and cool against her lips, and she realised how wet she was.

Mulder seemed to realise, too, and his breathing stuttered as he made a small noise of what may have been encouragement. Palm against her thigh and fingers splayed in her pubic hair, he glossed his thumb across her lips a few times, before pushing between, circling her clit. She cried out, one hand tightening in the sheets. She managed to regain control of herself before she tugged hard on Mulder’s hair, instead rolling her hips up, pushing against his hand. He pushed back; thumb trailing between her inner and outer lips, up one side, around her clit, down the other.

It was slow, rhythmic, deliberate, and it made her feel incredibly exposed. He was looking at her with the same wide-eyed fascination he usually reserved for things he found particularly beautiful. Mulder's eyes met hers and she wanted to turn away. With other people, this was usually the point where she would take control, if she hadn't already, avoid the intensity and intimacy of being scrutinised. But Mulder was not other people – Mulder had proved himself to her, proved himself trustworthy. That didn't stop her from tensing under his gaze.

Her face flushed again and she let her eyes close when he finally looked away, pulling her right leg over his left shoulder, wrapping his arm around her thigh to pull her closer. The friction of the sheets made her back tingle.

His thumb dipped lower this time, pressing into her ever so slightly. It was enough to send a jolt through her entire body. He released her thigh, sliding his hand back to cup her buttock, then under, resting one finger at her entrance. He swiped his thumb over her clit and pushed in. She bit her lip to keep from crying out, but this time she didn't refrain from tugging his hair.

He rested his cheek on her thigh, below his right hand, watching her intently. But she had forgotten to be uncomfortable under his gaze, and she dug her heel into his back when he added a second finger. It didn't take long. She came trembling, arching, aching with his fingers curled inside her, and his face pressed into her thigh. His breaths puffed cool air across her hot skin.

She stroked her fingers through his hair, felt his eyelashes bat against her thigh. The silence of the room was overwhelming, and yet strangely comforting in a way that she didn't wish to disturb. They stayed this way until Mulder shifted, allowing her to move. Even still she didn't, surprised at her own willingness to remain like this, especially naked. Eventually, Mulder's breaths began to even out against her hip, and her skin started to prickle in the cold.

She stood carefully, managing to find a clean pair of underwear and a tee shirt and glanced at Mulder. Almost automatically, she went through the the apartment, checking the locks, cleaning the French press, turning off the lights, brushing her teeth. It occurred to her that she should sleep on the couch, but it seemed that tonight she was selfish, and so instead, she turned off the bedroom light.

Mulder had stripped down to his briefs and tee shirt, and lie with his forearms crossed, hands tucked under his arms. He was sleeping as soundly as she imagined he ever slept, and she wondered when he had last slept on an actual bed. A familiar pang went through her – not quite pity, not quite love, and something entirely to be thought about another time. She managed to pull a blanket up over him, and as soon as she settled herself, he curled into her side. It was impossible, she thought, how small he seemed. She placed her hand in his hair again, and she felt his body relax against hers. She refused to call it vulnerability.