Actions

Work Header

He is the Master of His Fate, She is the Captain of Her Soul

Chapter Text

"Thank you for telling me," said FBI Special Agent Dana Scully before hanging up the phone and letting out a deep sigh. How was she going to tell Mulder this news? He was still recovering from his ordeal. She could think of numerous reasons to wait on this, but knew that she couldn't keep Diana's murder from him and it would be better to get the news from her anyways. Maybe. Whenever the two had discussed Diana Fowley, an argument had always erupted. She grabbed her car keys, locked the basement office door, and made her way to the parking garage.

As she started to drive in the direction of Special Agent Fox Mulder's apartment, her mind wandered to the events of the past week...

It appeared to Scully that those who took Mulder and operated on him hadn’t decided to stick around, and maybe even left him for dead. His bandaged head worried her immensely and she feared she was too late. Finally, she heard something that was music to her ears: “You… help… me.” Mulder’s voice sent waves of relief through Scully and she was able to get him to sit up on the table. She managed to get him to his feet and out the door, but their progress through the facility was slow-moving as she bore the majority of his weight.

Amazingly, that section of the DoD seemed to be deserted. Scully thought it was way too easy getting Mulder out of there. No one stopped them. In fact, she wasn’t questioned by a single person during their entire passage out of the facility. She assumed that the reason could be the key card that had been slipped under her door allowed her certain levels of clearance within the DoD, and while this was all extremely suspicious, at that moment she was too consumed with getting him out of there safely.

Once Scully had gotten him into the back seat of her car, she drove to Georgetown Memorial Hospital. For the next five days, the Department of Neurosurgery did test after test and finally cleared Mulder of the abnormal brain activity that he had suffered from weeks earlier.

“I don’t need those tests to tell me that my brain is back to normal, Scully,” he said from his hospital bed. “I already know it is. I knew it from the moment I woke up in that room and saw you there.”

Scully, who had remained at the hospital night and day by his side, was nonplussed. “I don’t see how that could be possible, Mulder. I didn’t have any of the rubbings on me. We couldn’t have known whether it would affect you the same way or not. Besides, you’d had your head cut open by goodness knows who or even what they did to you.”

He sighed. “I knew I was okay because I couldn’t read your mind anymore.”

She returned this statement with a blank stare and then a carefully arched eyebrow. “Excuse me? You’re saying you could read minds? Maybe you need to stay in the hospital longer, Mulder.”

“Scully, you have to believe me,” he replied. “It all started when I was shown those rubbings from the craft. I suddenly could hear all these voices. I didn't understand what was happening at the time. But when I was all doped up in the psychiatric ward, everything became clearer. I could read people’s minds. The doctors, Skinner, Kritschgau, my mother. Whenever they came into my room to see me, I could hear their thoughts. But I was unable to respond. Most of the time, it was all one confusing blur of sounds as everyone’s thoughts blended together whenever there were people outside my room. And nearly everyone who stood by my hospital bed spoke lies to me. The things that they said were not what their thoughts were saying.”

“If that’s true, then I guess you can now sympathize even more with Gibson Praise,” she remarked.

Mulder continued, gazing steadily into her eyes. “When everyone’s thoughts were just noise, there was one voice that stood out above the din. There was only one person in whom I could find no deceit, who didn’t have something to hide. There was only one person who spoke the complete truth."

“So, when I came back from Africa and spoke to you in the hospital, you could also hear what I was thinking?” Scully asked.

“Yes,” Mulder responded.

He watched as Scully’s face began to redden, but she didn’t look away. The two partners stared at each other for some seconds before a nurse entered the room with discharge papers.

...Once Mulder returned home, Scully continued to worry about him. Every couple hours she would give him a call to make sure he was all right. Her biggest fear was that the Cigarette Smoking Man would come for him again, that he wasn’t safe. This morning, one week after rescuing Mulder, she received the phone call informing her of Agent Diana Fowley’s murder.

The Metro PD didn’t have any leads and Scully knew that they would most likely never find the shooter. At that moment, she knew who had given her the DoD key card. She also realized that Diana Fowley had paid for that action with her life. Scully was unsure how this news would affect Mulder. Months earlier they had both seemingly come to a tacit agreement that Diana Fowley was a subject better left unspoken. It sure made for a more peaceful working relationship. She had been suspicious of Diana from the moment she returned to the FBI in Washington over a year ago. Events that occurred since then left little doubt in her mind of who Diana was really working for. These were suspicions that Mulder didn’t want to hear about, and it had started to create problems within their partnership.

Scully could understand that Mulder did not want to confront these possible truths about Diana because then he’d have to confront the validity of his past relationship with her all those years ago. These issues seemingly went unspoken in an effort to avoid the bickering that had been happening much more frequently since they had returned from Antarctica. Sometimes it seemed that they were constantly at odds. There was rarely any agreement between them, and if there was, compromise was reached begrudgingly. Everything was a battle. What once would have been a partial and impassioned discussion, was now always an argument. There was so much frustration simply in the tone of voice they were using with each other.

Thankfully, the bickering had lessened recently. But now there was a marked silent tension between them that at times was so thick Scully felt one could cut through it with a knife. For a while, she thought the tension and bickering only occurred whenever Diana was discussed, but truthfully the tension was there at all times.

Scully was afraid to ask Mulder about Diana, afraid of what he’d say, afraid of how he might feel about Diana, afraid to learn that he was seeing her outside the workplace, afraid to learn that she needed to compete with her, and that if pushed, he would actually choose Diana. Scully had decided that she’d rather not know. She had tried to convince herself that she was simply afraid of being pushed out of the X-Files, being pushed out of a partnership with Mulder, and that he would rather have a partner that agreed with his theories instead of one who questioned his every idea.

In reality, Scully was afraid of her own fear and what it truly meant, was afraid of her own feelings, which the emergence of Diana Fowley had forced her to accept once and for all. However, acknowledgement of her feelings was one thing, speaking them out loud was another thing altogether. As she drove from the office to Mulder’s apartment, she wondered if Diana’s murder would have an adverse effect on their partnership. She may have been afraid to learn that his feelings for her didn’t run as deep, but she knew that she couldn’t handle the tension anymore.

*****

Upon hanging up the phone, Mulder sat in silent reverie. Albert Hosteen was dead, and he’d been in a coma for two weeks. He also hadn’t left New Mexico in almost a year. So how could he have travelled to Washington to see Scully last week? Could she have just dreamed it? Or, in a state of exhaustion, have hallucinated the whole thing? It wasn’t like her to confuse reality. He needed to talk to her right away. He got back on the phone and called the office.

“Voicemail. Damn,” he said aloud before hanging up. It had only been two days since he’d seen her, but it felt like much longer. The thought of heading to work and hanging out with her in the office was very appealing. He knew he was supposed to be resting, but he couldn’t wait. He headed into the bedroom to get dressed.

Scully parked outside Mulder’s apartment building, but it took her a minute or two to steel herself before getting out of the car.

Chapter Text

The month of June came to a close and Mulder was facing a six-week medical leave of absence from work. Most people would be overjoyed to have the entire summer off work. He wasn’t too enthused. He had nearly two months of freedom to rest his mind, strengthen his body, and generally take things easy. The six lonely weeks stretching out in front of him seemed like an eternity. He’d rather be in the office doing research. He’d rather be heading down to see The Lone Gunmen or Chuck Burks whenever they discovered something new and weird. He’d rather be hopping on planes and chasing leads of paranormal activity all over the country. He’d rather be with Scully.

Mulder couldn’t help but smile as his mind turned to Scully. Since that day she had come to his apartment to tell him about Diana’s tragic death two weeks ago, he had felt a noticeable shift in their dynamic. The words they spoke to each other in his hallway felt almost like a vow or confirmation. Yet again, he played the scene out in his mind…

Scully was standing in front him, in tears, having a crisis of faith, and he's the fool who was standing there trying to hide his head bandages with a Yankees cap and cracking dumb jokes.

“I don’t know what the truth is. I don’t know who to listen to. I don’t know who to trust,” she said as she started to cry. “Diana Fowley was found murdered this morning. I never trusted her, but she helped save your life just as much as I did. She gave me that book. It was her key that led me to you. I’m sorry. I’m so sorry. I know she was your friend.”

Scully must've been having a real crisis if she’s suddenly giving Diana credit. Was Diana his friend? She may have helped Scully get into that DoD facility, but the damage was done. She stood by his hospital bed and told him she loved him, while at the same time selling him out to the one man he despised. Diana was weak, and self-serving. Nearly every interaction between them from the moment they met had been a manipulation. She’d been working with him all along. Scully had tried to warn Mulder, to make him see the truth about Diana, and he'd refused to listen. For the first time in six years, he shut her down and wouldn’t even hear what she had to say. He was a fucking fool. Diana was not his friend. She never was.

He wrapped his arms around Scully as she cried. When was the last time he had held her like this? He couldn’t even remember. What had happened to them? Why did they waste an entire year being constantly at odds with one another? Oh God, it was dawning on him that he almost lost her. And not because of his illness. He didn't know how much longer she would have stayed with him if he'd allowed Diana to continue to wedge herself between them. He had to make this right. How could he tell her that Diana had never been a real threat? How could he make her see that no one could ever mean more to him than she does? He had to make her see…

“Scully, I was like you once — I didn’t know who to trust. Then I… I chose another path… another life, another fate, where I found my sister. Even though my world was unrecognizable and upside down, there was one thing that remained the same.”

He held her face in his hands and looked her in the eye. She then held onto his wrists. He had to make her see.

You… were my friend, and you told me the truth. Even when the world was falling apart, you were my constant… my touchstone.”

“And you are mine,” she said.

For a split second Mulder thought Scully was going to kiss him, and then she went for the forehead. But the way she was looking at him, caressing his face, and brushing her thumbs over his lips. A thousand unspoken words passed between them. Something was about to happen. And then she walked away without saying another word. What was happening?

…Mulder now felt an immense sense of relief, as if a heavy weight that had been holding him down for a long time had been suddenly lifted. His recent conversations with Scully were more light-hearted than they’d been in quite a while. Gone was that overwhelming feeling he’d had for a long time: that neither of them were happy, but no one was saying anything about it, and so a palpable tension was thickening the air between them. Replaced was an uplifting, positive feeling that was almost, dare he think it… hopeful. With Scully’s remarkable discovery in Africa and the work she accomplished there, Mulder felt that their once at-odds belief systems were starting to find common ground. He felt excited about what this meant for the future and what they had yet to accomplish. And there was something more, something much deeper that went beyond the work. But what else he felt hopeful about, he wasn’t quite sure.

Mulder did notice that the feeling would rise up whenever he talked to Scully on the phone, and was especially powerful during the times he was able to see her in the past couple weeks. She had formed the habit of stopping by his apartment every morning before work, and he would catch himself smiling like an idiot whenever he thought she wasn’t looking at him. Then he’d suddenly get a nervous, butterflies-in-the-stomach feeling and want to run from the room. Mulder was confused about this new hopeful, nervous feeling and didn’t really know what to do about it. So he found himself deflecting most serious conversations with even more lame jokes than usual. Thankfully, Scully didn’t seem to notice.

*****

Something had happened. Scully didn’t know what and she couldn’t begin to explain why she felt that way. What was this feeling? She had spent most of the past year with a knot of fear in the pit of her stomach, and it had started to slowly dissipate since that night she played baseball with Mulder a couple months ago. But that seemed so long ago now and so much had happened since then. His recent ordeal and the re-emergence of Diana Fowley had caused that knot to tighten up again. But something definitely had happened in Mulder’s hallway. Could she possibly feel… happy? Scully found herself smiling at odd times, like while folding laundry or standing over the sink washing dishes. This didn’t happen so often at work, though.

She was still bogged down with paperwork. The FBI wanted a detailed report of everything that occurred in Africa and how she got Mulder out of the Department of Defense, but Scully wasn’t so sure that was such a good idea. Being in the basement office without Mulder was incredibly dull. She had no idea what he did down there in the two years before she partnered up with him. Not much, in any case. She found herself going outside for walks quite often just to relieve the banality.

Mulder had put up a decent fight about taking a leave of absence, but Scully was adamant that he not return to work any time soon. There was still so much that was unknown about his previous condition: what truly caused it, how much damage had been done to him while he was operated on, and what any long-lasting effects there might be. Scully would much rather have Mulder in the office with her, but she knew that a couple months away from work would do him good. One thing she couldn’t prevent, nor did she really try to, was how often he called the office to talk to her. Apparently he felt staying at home was just as mundane as she felt about working in an empty office.

Their phone conversations would start off work-related and then soon would drift off into random topics ranging from childhood memories to whatever Mulder had just watched on the History Channel. These phone calls were also not just limited to work hours. Last week, a phone call from Mulder had awoken Scully from a sound sleep at 2:30 am. She panicked, thinking something was horribly wrong, and jumped out of bed to run for the phone. But there was no need for alarm. He just couldn’t sleep so he thought he’d call her up and talk to her about his latest theory concerning “ancient aliens” and the Navajo.

At first, Scully was furious. Why in the world did Mulder think it was a good idea to wake her up in the middle of the night just to chat?! This conversation easily could’ve waited for a more decent hour. But then she realized that this was something he used to do all the time. She suddenly remembered that going to bed every night with the phone next to her pillow had been just as much an automatic habit as brushing her teeth. The silent tension between them had started to create distance as well. She realized that he had stopped making these usual late-night phone calls since that whole ordeal with Cassandra Spender, and they came to blows over Diana Fowley’s involvement. Except that wasn’t true. There had been one late-night phone call since then…

Back in the spring, when they had returned home following their hospital stay in North Carolina, Mulder called up Scully quite late at night because he couldn’t sleep.

“I just wanted to hear your voice,” he had said. “And assure myself that we still weren’t trapped in that field with a giant carnivorous mushroom.”

“We are definitely safe and sound, Mulder,” she replied. “There’s no need to worry.”

“I didn’t wake you up, did I, Scully?” he asked.

“No, I couldn’t sleep either.” 

He finally spoke after a pregnant pause. “I don’t suppose you’ve figured out how we were both having the same exact hallucination?” 

“I have no idea, Mulder. It doesn’t really make any sense, which I guess is par for the course with us,” she replied. “I have no idea how I’m going to explain it in the report.”

“You’ll find a way,” he said. “Goodnight, Scully. See you in the morning.” Then he hung up without waiting for a response.

Sure, she will. How in the world could she explain how a giant fungus knew that she and Mulder were so intrinsically co-dependent that they would need to be in the same hallucination? Scully thought.

…And that was the last time the two partners had shared a casual, late-night phone conversation up until last week, and which was now becoming an almost nightly occurrence. New rituals had also been added to their routine. Every morning before work, Scully would stop by his apartment with breakfast. At first she told herself that as Mulder’s doctor, she needed to make sure that he was taking care of himself. But after a few days, she stopped with the excuses and admitted to herself that she just wanted his company.

Surprisingly, over breakfast he didn’t want to talk about work, the X-Files, alien spaceships, or government conspiracies. Instead, they would talk about their lives, ask after family members, and tell stories that hadn’t already been shared. Mulder was also always smiling at her. He seemed happy, happier than she’d really ever seen him. Yes, something definitely had happened.

Chapter Text

Fourth of July weekend had arrived, and surprisingly Mrs. Scully had invited Mulder to her house for the family BBQ on Sunday. A long afternoon spent in Bill Jr’s company wasn’t exactly his ideal way to spend the holiday weekend. He decided to skip it and go visit his mother. Scully hated the idea of him driving alone for over 250 miles, it made her feel uneasy. He’d only been out of the hospital for a few weeks. What if something happened to him? She tried to get Mulder to buy a plane ticket instead, but he was adamant that he was perfectly fine and that she should stop worrying about him.

While Mulder was packing up a duffel bag on Friday morning, July 2nd, his stomach started to growl and let out a sigh. He was a little concerned that Scully hadn’t come by for breakfast. Was she annoyed that he was going away for the weekend? She had been fine the night before. Every evening this week, he had gone to her apartment and helped her work on the report for Skinner. They had laid out all the rubbings of the spaceship on her floor, spent hours putting them together like a puzzle, and reading from the book Native American Beliefs and Practices. They usually ended up talking in circles in their attempt to make sense of it.

Mulder could tell that it all frightened Scully: the notion of God writing his Word on an alien spacecraft or the even scarier idea that there never had been a God in the first place. One of the things Mulder most admired in her was that despite everything she knew about science, she still held on to the hope that there was a greater Power out there in the universe. One that was most certainly not alien.

He wanted to see Scully before he left for Connecticut, so he threw his duffel into the back seat of his car and drove to the FBI headquarters. As Mulder approached the office door, he found it locked. Where was she? She must still be in her report meeting. As he started to unlock the door, a familiar voice called out to him.

“Mulder, glad I caught you,” Skinner said.

“How did you know I was here?” he asked.

“Word travels fast,” Skinner replied. “Look, I need to talk to you about something. It’s important. Scully’s on her way down here now, so we can talk later. Stop by my office before you leave the building.”

“Okay…,” he said, wondering what this must be about. Did the report cause a problem?

Skinner got onto the elevator as Scully got off. Skinner said nothing as the doors closed, and then she turned an arched eyebrow on Mulder. “What was that about? What did Skinner want?” she asked.

“He wants to talk to me before I leave,” Mulder hastily replied. The sight of her pushed his ponderings about this upcoming chat with Skinner out of his mind. “Scully! Why didn’t you come by earlier for breakfast?”

“Sorry, Mulder. I didn’t really have time. My meeting this morning had been set for a prompt 8:00 am,” Scully said as Mulder held the office door open for her to walk through.

She walked inside, and turned to face him. The sight of Scully casually leaning against the desk and smiling at him, with both hands grasping the edge and ankles crossed in front of her suddenly caused Mulder’s mind to go blank. He felt an overwhelming urge to rush over, take her in his arms, and have his way with her right there on the desk. He just stood there, stunned. She eyed him and smirked.

“Mulder? Did you really come all the way down here just to ask me why I didn’t stop by for breakfast?” Scully asked. “You could’ve just picked up the phone.”

He blinked. “Oh, yeah. I know. I just wanted to see you before I left for the weekend.”

“Ahh. Well, I’m glad you came by. I wanted to see you too,” she replied. “It’s too bad you’re not coming to the family BBQ. My mom really wanted you to be there.”

“Yeah, and she’s the only Scully family member who does,” he retorted, thinking of Bill Jr’s stony glares.

“That’s not true,” she said simply, gazing at Mulder.

He noticed a blush creeping up Scully’s neck and into her cheeks. Then she broke eye contact and stared at her shoes. The urge to rush over to her returned before he quickly pushed it away. But he found himself staring at her knees that were just peeking out below her form-fitting navy blue skirt. “It’s not?”

“No. Charlie is coming down from Baltimore with his family,” she replied, looking up. “He was looking forward to finally meeting you.”

“I bet he was,” he said dryly, meeting her eyes. “I’m sure Bill Jr has told him everything he needs to know.”

“Actually, Charlie usually tends to see my side of things,” she smirked. “My mom and I would love to have you there too, of course.” Scully casually shrugged.

“I know. Well, maybe I’ll stop by if I leave early enough on Sunday,” he replied, shifting his feet.

She gave him a small smile. A distinct silence filled the basement office. Mulder had a fleeting notion of going over to Scully and kissing her goodbye. He wanted to. Badly. The feeling was overwhelming. But then his fight-or-flight response kicked into gear.

“Well, I guess I’ll see you when I see you,” Mulder said, before turning and walking out of the office.

*****

Scully stood there wondering what that was about. She felt like Mulder had been about to say something of importance, that he had come down to the office for a real reason. He certainly seemed nervous. She felt like he had been on the verge of saying something significant all week…

The long evenings spent cooped up in her apartment going through her rubbings, related X-files, pouring over books. There were moments where their bodies were only mere inches from each other as they sat on her floor, reading and discussing. Then their hands would touch or Mulder would tuck a strand of her hair behind her ear or place a strong hand on her upper back as she buried her face in her hands out of frustration. This kind of contact wasn’t new or out of the ordinary, but now the feeling was absolutely electric. There were moments when Scully had to get up and pace in the kitchen just to relieve the tension. Then she’d pretend that she went into the kitchen to get a glass of water or a piece of fruit.

But the work also scared her, and the weight of the past few weeks had suddenly come crashing down on her: Nearly losing Mulder because he’d been “too much alive,” and feeling helpless because there was really nothing she could’ve done to fix it. What if this mysterious illness was to return? What could be done in that event? She had no idea. Religious writings and human DNA sequences etched into a spacecraft? Everything she’d believed she was now having to question. She was in such a state of mental and emotional exhaustion that she had never experienced before. Scully had the feeling that Mulder sensed this, as there was so much care and concern in the way he interacted with her as they worked together on her apartment floor.

…Thankfully, Mulder was alive and well. And there to crack jokes, to make her smile through the confusion. She felt like their partnership was taking huge strides where there had once been small steps. There was a new closeness of a different kind. She would often feel sad at the end of the evening, when the clock would strike 10:00 and Mulder would reach for his car keys to return home. Scully often wished that he could just stay. He would be coming around the following evening like clockwork, anyways. Why bother leaving? Then she would even start to question this thought process. What did she even want from Mulder? Really and truly? And was it even possible? It wasn’t long before Scully would snap herself back to reality, though. But burying these questions and her feelings was becoming harder and harder. She wondered if she could keep them buried much longer.

*****

Mulder walked down the FBI hallway towards Skinner’s office. “Hey Spooky,” said a man on the opposite side of the hallway, who sniggered along with a fellow agent as they walked past. “How’s Agent Scully?” The two agents looked at each other and grinned. He rolled his eyes and opened the door marked Assistant Director Walter Skinner.

He greeted the secretary Kimberly, and she showed him into Skinner’s office. “Thanks for coming by, Agent Mulder,” he said and motioned for him to take one of the chairs in front of his desk. “I’m afraid I don’t have very good news.”

Mulder stared. “What’s happened, sir?”

“The FBI has decided to suspend the investigation into Agent Fowley’s murder,” Skinner replied. “There are absolutely no leads. No weapon to be found, no prints. The investigation’s at a stand-still. There’s really nothing else we can do unless we get some new information.”

Mulder swallowed and looked at his hands. “Who gave the order to suspend the investigation?”

“It came down from the Deputy Director’s office,” Skinner replied.

“Okay. Is that all, sir?”

Skinner looked intently at him. He seemed to be making a decision. “No. You know your friend Danny was running the investigation. He stopped by my office late yesterday afternoon to give me something for you.”

Skinner got up and walked over to one of the cabinets against the wall. He pulled out a square metal box that looked similar to a safety deposit box, and walked back over to his desk.

“This was found on the top shelf in the bedroom closet in Agent Fowley’s apartment,” he said as he set the box down in front of Mulder. “It had a note attached to it with instructions to give the box to you.”

Mulder stared at it. “What’s in it?”

“I don’t know,” Skinner replied. “I didn’t open it. Neither did Danny.”

“Why did it take so long to get it to me? Diana was killed three weeks ago,” he enquired, with a hint of suspicion in his voice.

“Danny purposely kept it out of the investigation, kept it out of evidence. He removed the box himself and it stayed in the trunk of his car until yesterday afternoon.”

“Why would he do that?” Mulder asked.

“Because he wasn’t sure what was in it, and didn’t feel comfortable making the contents public,” Skinner replied. “For your sake, probably.”

Mulder nodded. He grabbed the box and headed out of the office. As he held onto the box in the elevator ride down to the parking garage and then placed it in his back seat, a million thoughts were running through his mind. What could possibly be in that box? Did he even want to know? Would it provide some answers? Or cause unnecessary pain? Both? So much had happened in the past two months. The four-hour drive to Greenwich, Connecticut would allow him to have some time to himself just to think everything over. Time much needed.

Chapter Text

Mulder had been driving for just over two hours when he pulled off the turnpike and stopped for lunch in Bellmawr, NJ. He found a pizzeria with outdoor patio seating, and satisfied his hunger with two slices and a Coke. It was a beautiful day outside. Perfect, sunny weather. He wished Scully had been sitting there at the table with him. The thought of Scully in casual clothes, wearing sunglasses, and doing nothing but simply enjoying the sunshine made Mulder wish that he’d spent more time with her outside of work over the years. Maybe he could get Scully to take a vacation soon. Maybe he could get her to take it before his medical leave was over. Maybe they could take a weekend and go somewhere together. Suddenly hazy thoughts of Scully lying on a beach somewhere took his mind to places that made him feel flushed. These thoughts were becoming much harder to control lately.

The waitress interrupted Mulder’s daydreaming to bring him the check. After he paid the bill, his mind was once again back on the metal lock box in the back seat of his car. He decided to try to open it. He couldn’t wait until he got to his mother’s house. The box had a padlock with a 4-digit combination key. Mulder tried a few different number combinations, but the lock wouldn’t budge. Then Mulder entered in his own birthdate: 1013. It worked. All Mulder found inside was a piece of lined paper, folded in half.

“Fox,

If you are in receipt of this lock box, most likely I am dead. You may have already learned of the information inside, or at least suspected that this information existed. I know that Agent Scully certainly suspects a lot about me, but I don’t know whether she’s shared those suspicions with you. Everything I know about Agent Scully tells me she is remarkable. Why else would they have been so afraid of her, or at least what she’s capable of. Why else would they have given me the charge of causing division between the two of you. They knew you are far more dangerous with her working with you. But you proved to them that not even sending Agent Scully to the bottom of the world could stop you, and so they decided on a much more subtle tactic.

I hope you know that I believed I was always acting in your best interests. Or at least what I had thought they were. Of course, this all means that my loyalties were not just to you. And you may now suspect just how far back my duplicity goes. But please know that not everything between us was false. My feelings were very real, even if my actions were based in deception. I hope you will benefit from the information I am giving you and that it will shed some light on a great many things. I’m so very sorry.

Love,

Diana”

Mulder didn’t know what to think. He supposed this letter wasn’t telling him anything he didn’t already know. He certainly had questioned Diana’s intentions ever since that night the Consortium and their families had burned up at El Rico Air Force Base. He finally learned some answers when Diana was around him in the hospital and he could read her thoughts. He knew the truth, and had been trying to forget it ever since. Scully was right. Diana had played him for a fool.

But what was this “information” Mulder was supposed to receive? The box was empty except for this note. Typical. You’ve got to be fucking kidding me! In frustration, Mulder slammed the open box down and it fell to the back seat floor. A false bottom immediately popped out. Mulder reached down and picked up a silver compact disc in a plastic case. It had no markings. Mulder then got back in the driver’s seat and placed the disc inside his duffel bag on the passenger seat.

Mulder was deep in thought as he got back on the New Jersey Turnpike heading north to Connecticut. “And you may now suspect just how far back my duplicity goes.” How far back did it go? This was a question Mulder had been avoiding for months. He knew he couldn’t avoid it any longer…

In September 1986, he was in the thick of it with New Agent training at Quantico. Because he was training as an intelligence analyst with a view to joining the Behavioral Science Unit, he was up to his eyeballs with research and homework. Sometimes the library at Quantico could be stifling, what with his brand new nickname “Spooky” now being floated around. The Melvin Gelman Library was near downtown D.C. and there he commandeered the same table in a quiet corner almost every evening, remaining until closing time at midnight.

One evening, as he approached his usual table at the library, he found it occupied. A woman was sitting there, with books and notes scattered all over the table. He stopped and stared. That was his table. Every night. And he didn’t think he’d ever seen this woman before. She was pretty, with long dark brown hair, and he could tell she was tall. His perfect type. He definitely would’ve remembered seeing her before. He thought about saying hello but then he remembered all the work he had to do, so he started to seek out another table when something caught his eye. The books this woman had spread out all over his table were all on the subject of parapsychology, including books on ESP, telepathy, psychokinesis, and the ganzfeld experiment. He decided to approach her.

“You’re sitting at my table,” he said.

“I wasn’t aware there was assigned seating,” she retorted. “My name’s Diana. I’m here working on my Masters in psychology, and this table is prime real estate around here. Who are you and why are you here?” She was now grinning at him.

“Fox Mulder. But you can just call me Mulder. I’m training to be an intelligence analyst with the FBI.”

“Okay, Fox,” she smirked. “I don’t see why we can’t share the table. There’s room for the both of us.”

For the next few weeks, there was enough room at the table for Mulder and Diana nearly every night. They mostly discussed paranormal phenomena, and soon he told her his theories about his sister’s abduction from his family home. She was the first person to whom Mulder had really opened up about Samantha, and who didn’t laugh at him or tell him he was crazy. In October, he graduated from the training academy and joined the Behavioral Science Unit. Not long after that, there also seemed to be enough room in his apartment for the both of them.

Over the next few years, Mulder’s profile within the FBI grew higher. But even as he found success with the BSU and then even more acclaim after transferring to the Violent Crimes Unit in 1988, his attempts to find answers about what had happened to his sister proved fruitless. Diana convinced him to undergo regression hypnosis to get a clearer picture of his memories from that night in 1973. The results made him even more determined to search for the truth, but he was at a real loss as how to move forward.

In the spring of 1991, Diana attended the FBI training academy and became a Special Agent. About a week after beginning work for the Bureau, she came to Mulder to tell him that she had found something of interest locked in an office at FBI headquarters. Diana then led him down to the basement and showed him the file cabinets filled with X-files. He had heard of their existence, but had never learned where these files actually were stored.

Mulder soon became obsessed with the X-files, reading and re-reading every case until the wee hours of the morning. He wanted to transfer out of the Violent Crimes Unit to the X-files as an official assignment that he could work on exclusively. Diana, and everyone else at the FBI, thought he was committing career suicide. Diana encouraged him not to get too sucked into the X-files, to keep it as something he could do on the side as a passion project. She had been incredibly excited to show him where the X-files were kept and was now backtracking, as if she was trying to reign him in. But Mulder was adamant that the answers to every question he’d ever asked were in those files. Surprisingly, the FBI allowed him to transfer out of the VCU and into the basement without so much as an objection.

Late in the autumn of 1991, Diana came home to their fourth floor apartment in Alexandria, Virginia to tell Mulder that she’d been offered a foreign counter-terrorism assignment and that she was going to take it. He was shocked. First of all, he couldn’t think why Diana would have any interest in counter-terrorism. It wasn’t exactly her field of expertise. Second of all, ever since he’d transferred to the basement Diana had been on this kick about getting married, moving to a nice area like Fairfax, and having babies. At the moment he found his life’s work, Diana suddenly wanted to settle down and move to suburbia. He was forced to constantly deflect this conversation.

The very next day after Diana informed him she’d be taking the assignment in Europe, Mulder came home from work to find that she had packed up her things and moved out. Five years together, and that was how she left. Diana never called and never wrote, and he never enquired after her. He stopped sleeping in the bedroom; too many memories. Eventually he even sold the bed. The couch was good enough for him.

…How long had Diana been working for them? Since she joined the FBI? Since before they’d even met? Did their relationship exist for the sole purpose of keeping tabs on him? These thoughts carried Mulder through the rest of his drive to Greenwich. He arrived at his mother’s house around 3:00 pm, and she was happily surprised to see him. He felt somewhat happy to see her, but that disc was weighing on his mind and all he could think about was finding out what was on it. He spent the afternoon doing some much needed chores around the house. In just a few short hours, the lawn was mowed, the garden weeded, the bushes trimmed, and the gutters cleaned out.

Later in the evening while eating dinner together, Mulder was once again reminded that he and his mother had little to say to one another. It was difficult to talk about past memories and it was difficult to talk about his present work. All the things he wanted to say to her would only cause her distress and make things uncomfortable. It had been heartbreaking to find out that after spending years asking questions and searching for the truth, his parents had the answers all along and had just refused to tell him.

After dinner, while they sat at the kitchen table drinking coffee, Teena Mulder asked her son how he was enjoying his summer off from work and if he had made any plans as how he was going to spend it. He’d been thinking about taking a vacation, but hadn’t decided. She also asked him how long he planned on staying, but he wasn’t exactly sure. Then she asked after Scully.

“You know, Fox,” his mother said. “I’ve always liked her.”

“I’ve always liked her too, Mom,” he replied, smiling.

Teena Mulder eyed her son with a questioning gaze. He felt his face burning, and so he excused himself, saying he had some things he wanted to work on in the office. He went into his old bedroom, grabbed the disc out of his bag, and went back downstairs to the home office. After turning on the desktop computer, he inserted the disc into the CD-ROM drive. A window opened but the file was encrypted. There was no way he’d be able to get past the encryption with the software on his mother’s desktop. “Shit,” Mulder said to himself and let out a deep sigh. He needed to find out what was on this disc. He decided to drive back down to D.C. the following morning.

*****

It was just past midnight when a loud ringing sound pierced the quiet air in the master bedroom of a nice Georgetown apartment. Scully, half-awake, slowly reached under her pillow and pulled out her cell phone.

“Hi Mulder,” she answered hazily.

“Did I wake you up, Scully?” he asked.

“Of course you did. It’s the middle of the night.”

He smiled into the phone as he laid in his old bed. “How was work today?”

“Boring. How was your drive to Connecticut?”

He swallowed. He hadn’t told Scully about the box Diana had left him. “It was nice. Beautiful weather. Traffic got crazy when passing through New York, but that’s normal. What did you do after work?”

“Nothing much, really. Ate dinner in front of the TV and watched a movie. Kind of a dull evening compared to how I’d been spending my evenings lately.” She paused. “It was awful quiet without you here.”

That hopeful, nervous feeling was flooding his stomach again. He felt incredibly warm all of a sudden. “I missed you too, Scully.”

“When will you be back?”

“Well, now I don’t really know. Perhaps sooner than you think,” he teased.

“Hmm, Charlie and his family will be here sometime on Saturday afternoon,” she said. “Maybe we could all get together for drinks or something tomorrow night.”

“Will Bill Jr be coming along?” he asked.

She scoffed. He could picture her rolling her eyes. “Well, if you’re going to be joining us, then we don’t have to invite Bill.”

“Okay, I’ll come.”

She smiled. “Good.”

“Scully?”

“Yes, Mulder?”

“My mom really likes you.”

“Aww,” she laughed.

“Goodnight, Scully.”

“Goodnight, Mulder.”

Chapter Text

On Saturday morning, after having breakfast with his mother, Mulder packed up his bag and started his drive back to D.C. He was in such a hurry to get home that he didn’t make one stop, and he was in Alexandria walking through his apartment door by 1:30 pm.

After tossing his bag in the bedroom, he sat down at his computer and popped the disc into his CD-ROM. Once again, an encrypted file window came up on the screen. Mulder gave up after working for almost an hour with no luck and sighed in frustration. He decided he was probably going to have to get some professional help with this one.

*****

Early on Saturday morning, Scully drove to Alexandria, Virginia to help her mother get the house ready for the arrival of Bill and Charlie and their families. Bill and Tara were going to stay in the guest room with Matthew, while Charlie and Jennifer would be staying in Scully’s old bedroom. Their kids would be put up in Charlie’s old room, as it hadn’t changed much over the years and so it was a perfect fit for his two boys.

Scully had always loved this house. After 30 years in the Navy her father retired, and so it was the first house they’d ever lived in that wasn’t on a naval base. Scully, along with her parents and Charlie, had moved to Alexandria in the summer of 1982, after she had graduated from high school in San Diego. Scully had decided to attend the University of Maryland that fall, and always suspected that one of the major reasons her father had chosen to move the family back east was because he’d wanted to keep his little girl at home for as long as possible. Melissa had remained behind in California as she was attending Scripps College in Claremont. Bill Jr had been serving in the Navy for a few years by then and was stationed in Pensacola, where he would eventually meet Tara.

Scully was sitting on her old bed lost in thought when, just after the clock struck one o’clock, a honking car horn could be heard from the driveway. “Bill’s here!” Mrs. Scully called out and quickly made for the front door. Scully made her way downstairs and once out the front door, saw a visibly pregnant Tara getting out of the car. “Surprise!” Tara called out, laughing and rubbing her belly. As Bill was unloading their luggage out of the trunk of the rental car and Mrs. Scully was busy hugging Tara, Scully opened the back door and got 18-month old Matthew out of his car seat. He had only been a few days old the last time she saw him. He was very cute. Mrs. Scully came over and took Matthew from Scully, declaring “I want to see my grandson!” She carried him into the house.

Tara rushed over to Scully and gave her a big hug. “Oh Dana, I’ve missed you,” Tara said sweetly. “My due date is October 31st. And guess what? We’re having twins!”

“You’re kidding,” Scully replied, touching Tara’s belly.

“Of course I’m not kidding. We wanted to try right away for another baby. You know it took us so long to get Matthew, and we didn’t want him to be an only child. My doctor suggested in vitro and BAM! Twins! Can you believe it? Bill thinks the due date is perfect because when we found out it was twins it scared him to death.” Tara laughed.

“Yeah, I bet it did,” Scully smiled. “Congratulations.”

“Thanks, honey,” Tara replied. “So how are you? How’s that exciting job of yours?” Tara then leaned in closer and lowered her voice to a conspiratorial tone. “How’s that cute partner of yours?"

Scully felt her face turning red and was saved from answering this question by the appearance of Bill at their side. “Hi Dana.”

She hugged her big brother. “Hi Bill. How is your vacation going so far?"

“Great,” Bill replied. “We got to see Tara’s family and some friends in Pensacola. It was nice.”

“When do you go back to San Diego?” Scully asked.

“Monday morning. Taking the first flight out of Dulles. Have you heard from Charlie?”

“Yeah, he called about half an hour ago to say they were leaving the house,” Scully replied. “It only takes him about an hour to drive down here.”

Mrs. Scully then called them all into the house.

*****

It was now late afternoon and Mulder was in downtown D.C., sitting in the Lone Gunmen’s office. He thought if anyone could crack the encryption on that disc, they certainly could.

“Okay, Mulder. We’re through,” said Frohike. “But it looks like we’re gonna need a password.”

“A password?” Mulder asked.

“The disc has two layers of security,” Byers replied.

Langly explained further. “Once the file is decrypted, you have to enter a password to unlock the contents.”

Mulder spent about the next 30 minutes thinking of various possible passwords, but to no avail. “How long would it take to break through without the password?”

“It’s hard to say, “ said Frohike.

“Could only take an hour, could take five,” Langly added. “It depends on the security program Diana used and how complex her password is.”

“Well that’s just great, guys,” Mulder said, tensing up. His cell phone then started to ring.

“Mulder.”

“Hi, Mulder. It’s me.”

Mulder smiled and relaxed his posture. “Hey Scully. What’re you up to?”

“I’m at my mother’s house. Were you still planning on getting back today?” Scully asked.

“I’m already back in D.C. Got back a few hours ago.”

“Are you at home?”

Mulder looked at The Lone Gunmen. “Uh… no, I’m not home right now. I had to go out for a couple errands.”

The Gunmen all arched their eyebrows in Mulder’s direction, and Mulder worked hard to avoid their gaze.

“Oh, okay. Did you still want to come out with us for drinks tonight? You’ll like Charlie. And Bill will not be there. I promise.”

Mulder grinned. He really wanted to see Scully. “Yeah. Drinks sound good. Where should I meet you? And what time?”

The Lone Gunmen exchanged looks.

“Charlie likes The Old Toad,” Scully replied. “How about 8:00?"

“Sounds good. I’ll see you then.” Mulder hung up the phone and saw the Gunmen eyeing him amusedly. “What?”

“Your face is all red,” Frohike replied. Mulder stared.

“So you got a date with Agent Scully?” Langly asked.

“Her brother is in town for the weekend and he wants us all to get together.”

“I thought he hated you,” said Byers.

“That’s Bill Jr, the older brother. Charlie is the younger brother, and I haven’t met him yet. And no, it’s not a date.”

“Then why is your face still red?” Frohike asked. Mulder blinked.

“Well boys, thanks for your help. Call me when you crack that password.” Mulder stood up and walked out the door.

The Lone Gunmen exchanged more looks, and smirked.

*****

The Old Toad was a British-style pub on 19th Street in the Downtown neighborhood of D.C. It was a popular nightspot known for its specialized ever-changing beer menu, dance floor, Pub Trivia nights, karaoke, and dim lighting. The place was even busier on the holiday weekend. Mulder was glad he’d taken a taxi because it would’ve been near impossible to find a parking spot anywhere close by. As Mulder walked through the door, he found the place jam packed and a band setting up their equipment in the back. He couldn’t remember the last time he’d gone out to hear live music.

The sight of Mulder coming through the door in dark jeans, gray T-shirt, and a black leather jacket filled Scully with excitement. “Mulder, over here!”

He saw Scully standing near the bar waving and started to make his way over. “The bar’s way too crowded. We’re just waiting for a table,” Scully called out. “Should only be a few more minutes.”

Mulder squeezed through groups of people, continuously having to say “Excuse me” until he reached her. She greeted him with a smile. A warm glow filled his chest. It was so good to see her.

“Hey,” Mulder said as he started to bend towards her face, and then he jerked himself upright. Did he seriously just bend down to kiss her? Get ahold of yourself.

Scully gave him a queer look, and then chuckled. “Mulder, this is my brother Charlie and his wife Jennifer.”

Standing behind Scully was a tall, slender man who had his arm around the shoulders of a pretty woman with light brown hair. They all shook hands. “Nice to meet you, finally,” said Charlie with a smile. “We’ve heard a lot about you.” Mulder turned and squinted at Scully. She grinned at him and averted her eyes.

A couple attempting to make their way to the bar bumped hard into Mulder and kept going without saying anything. Mulder shook his head. “It’s a mad house in here. Do you think all these people appreciate the irony of crowding a British pub on 4th of July weekend?”

Charlie laughed. Mulder smiled and turned to Scully. “So how’d you get rid of Bill Jr?”

She rolled her eyes. “Bill, Tara, and my mother are taking the kids out for mini golf and ice cream.”

“Table’s ready,” said a waiter with an English accent. “I like this guy,” Charlie said to Scully, nodding in Mulder’s direction. He then grabbed Jennifer’s hand and they followed the waiter, with Scully close behind them, as he led them towards a table in the farthest corner from the bar area. While walking a few feet behind Scully, Mulder noticed three men who were seated closer to the bar turn their heads in her direction as she walked past their table, and heard one of them say “Oh… my… God.” Mulder had a momentary urge to throttle this guy, but he kept on walking. The men were blatantly staring at her ass. Well, she was wearing a great pair of jeans. He now had to force himself not to stare too. Once they were seated at the table, Jennifer ordered tonic water, while Charlie, Mulder, and Scully each ordered a beer off the specialty draft menu.

“Seeing as how you’ve heard so much about me,” Mulder began, eyeing Scully who smirked at him in return. “I think it’s only fair that I hear all about the both of you.”

Charlie laughed. “You make a good point.” He then told Mulder about his career as a basketball coach at a Catholic high school in Baltimore, while Jennifer regaled Mulder with comical stories from her experiences as a kindergarten teacher. Charlie and Scully would also intermittently share amusing stories from their childhood, and even funnier ones from their teen years. Mulder had an idea, reading between the lines, that Charlie and Scully were often partners in crime and frequently up to no good.

The live band had finished setting up, and had begun to play some recognizable classic rock. The band started playing REO Speedwagon, prompting an “awww, I love this song!” exclamation from Jennifer. In no time, Charlie had her out on the dance floor. Mulder was about to ask Scully to dance, but then had second thoughts. He wasn’t sure he could handle holding her that close to him. He might do something stupid.

“What are you thinking about?” Scully asked.

“You.”

Scully swallowed. Butterflies filled her stomach and she could feel her face getting hot. Thank goodness for the dim lighting in there. “What about me?”

Mulder and Scully gazed at one another for some seconds. A hundred thoughts were racing through Mulder’s mind. He wanted to pull her to him and kiss her right there at the table. He wanted to ask her to go home with him. He wanted to put his hands on her.

“Mulder?”

“Um, I think I’ll come to the BBQ tomorrow. I know you want me to. And I wouldn’t want to be rude to your mother just because Bill Jr hates me. It was thoughtful of her to invite me.”

Scully felt disappointed. Mulder always seemed just on the verge of saying something. Was Mulder ever going to do anything about… anything? “Oh, yeah I want you to come. It’ll be a nice day for a BBQ.”

When Charlie and Jennifer returned to the table, they shared their story of meeting in the 10th grade and getting married the summer after they graduated high school in 1986. “I’m the youngest in the family, but the first to get married and the first to have kids,” said Charlie. “I always knew I was the black sheep.”

“How old are your kids?” Mulder asked.

“Ben just turned 12 years old and Jack will be 10 in a few months,” Jennifer answered. She and Charlie shared a look. Jennifer then turned to Scully. “We didn’t want to say anything back at the house, so as not to take away any of the attention from Bill and Tara’s twins, but… we’re having another baby.” Charlie had a huge smile on his face and was nodding enthusiastically.

Scully was stunned. Jennifer laughed. “I know! We were shocked too. I thought we were done having kids, but I guess God had different plans. I’m only a few months along right now, so it’s easy to hide. The baby’s not due until January.”

“Well, that’s wonderful!” Scully replied. “I’m very happy for you. I, for one, hope it’s a girl. I know Mom would love to finally have a granddaughter.”

As Mulder watched Scully through this exchange, he suddenly began to feel very sad. It should’ve been Scully having all those babies. She would’ve been an amazing mother. She’d lost out on so much, and it's his fault. The waiter returned with drink refills. The live band struck up another one of Jennifer’s favorite songs, and so Charlie whisked her back to the dance floor.

“Mulder? What are you thinking about? Why are you so quiet?” Scully asked.

A cell phone started to ring loudly. Mulder removed his jacket from the back of his chair and pulled out his phone.

“Mulder, it’s Byers. You need to get over here right away.”

Chapter Text

Charlie and Jennifer finished their dance and returned to their table at The Old Toad to find Scully sitting there alone. “Where’s Mulder?” Charlie asked.

“He left.”

“Where’d he go?”

“I don’t know,” Scully sighed. “He didn’t say.”

“Does he do that a lot, sis?” Jennifer asked tentatively.

“You have no idea,” she scoffed in reply.

Jennifer gave Charlie a sad look. “Do you want to go home?” Charlie asked while checking his watch. “It’s just past 10:00, anyways. We should probably get back to mom’s place and make sure our boys haven’t run her ragged.”

Scully sat silently in the backseat as they drove towards her apartment in Georgetown. Charlie would occasionally throw concerned glances in the rear view mirror, but Scully would only shut her eyes and shake her head as a reply.

*****

When Mulder entered the Lone Gunmen’s office he was greeted by three very somber faces. Mulder grabbed a chair and Byers stepped forward to hand him the disc. Langly sighed and crossed his arms. Frohike shook his head. Byers gave Mulder a concerned, sympathetic look. As Mulder sat down, he thought the scene took on the air of someone about to find out he has terminal cancer.

“Sorry to interrupt your night out with the illustrious Agent Scully,” Byers began. “We’ve removed the security on the disc, so you should be able to go through it and read it yourself on your home computer.” What was with Byers’ tone? He sounded almost… sad. Mulder started to feel a little worried. What if he’d gotten his hopes up for nothing?

“What’s wrong? The disc wasn’t blank, was it?” Mulder asked.

“Far from it, “ Langly replied, with a marked edge to his voice. Frohike and Byers looked at him.

“Good grief, fellas. Who died?” Mulder quipped, slightly annoyed.

“Only a lot of innocent women!” Frohike exclaimed, slapping his hand hard on the table.

Mulder shot the three of them a surprised look. “What’s on the disc?” he asked slowly.

“If you recall, back in February,” began Byers. “Agent Scully came to us to try and find information on what Diana Fowley had been doing in the years she was working abroad.”

“Oh, I do recall,” Mulder said darkly, remembering that stupid fight with Scully when he foolishly refused to believe Diana’s intentions were anything but admirable and then made the huge mistake of basically telling Scully not to take things personally. He wished he had never said something so hurtful. He wanted to erase that night from his memory.

“Then you’ll remember that we found out Diana had been monitoring MUFON groups across Europe,” Langly said.

“And making weekly trips to Tunisia,” added Frohike.

Mulder nodded.

“The disc contains the data she’d been collecting on the MUFON groups,” Byers continued. “The disc is essentially Diana’s personal log with notes on all the MUFON women, specifically their health. Each woman was assigned an identification number along with the date the chip was removed from the back of her neck. The number is very similar to serial numbers embedded into Pentium microprocessors, so we can assume that each woman’s ID number corresponds with her chip.”

“Then Diana would monitor how much time it took for each woman to develop cancer,” added Frohike. “And the types of brain cancer they were diagnosed with, then how long each woman survived after receiving a diagnosis.”

“Okay,” Mulder sighed, rubbing a hand over his eyes and then crossing his arms. He had guessed he’d find information like this.

“She made weekly reports on each woman,” Langly said. “She’d sign and date the bottom of each report, and also on each one under her signature is the name Strughold that is dated approximately two days later.”

Mulder knew that name. “Conrad Strughold was a German industrialist and a Nazi. After WW II ended, he fled Germany to escape trial and is supposedly living out his exile in Tunisia.”

His companions nodded in agreement. Mulder then started to recall the abandoned Strughold Mining Facility in West Virginia where he and Scully had found those medical files containing smallpox vaccination records and tissue samples.

“Well, thanks for finding this all out for me, boys.”

The Lone Gunmen exchanged dark looks. “There’s more,” Frohike replied.

Mulder looked at Byers. “What else did you find?”

“Diana also wrote reports on the infertility of each female member belonging to the European MUFON chapters,” Byers responded. “It appears as though she started a side project which Strughold did not sign off on, at least officially as his name does on not appear on any of the reports. They are signed and dated by Diana, then signed and dated a week later by a C.G.B.S.”

“C.G.B. Spender,” said Mulder. “Cancer Man.” Of course. Did he expect anything different?

“They were also experimenting on the women,” Langly said.

“What kind of experiments?” Mulder asked resignedly. He didn’t like where this was headed.

“Diana conducted a clinical trial with 30 MUFON women,” Frohike said. “The women chosen were all married, and during the trial they all became pregnant.”

“What? I don’t understand. They’re all barren. How is that possible?” Mulder asked. “What was the trial?”

“The trial seemed to correspond to the other various experiments done with alien DNA and the alien virus, particularly the experiments that produced Emily Sim,” Byers replied.

Mulder stared. Now Mulder really didn’t like where this was headed. “How did those women become pregnant?”

“By their husbands, so it seems,” Langly answered.

“From what we gathered from Diana’s log, those 30 MUFON women agreed to have the chips placed back in their necks,” Byers continued. “Then Diana notes that C.G.B. Spender received a list of the 30 identification numbers. Within four weeks, all 30 women were pregnant. That’s all that’s stated regarding the method of conception. So we’re assuming the pregnancies came about naturally.”

“What happened with the babies?” Mulder asked.

“They were never born,” Frohike replied.

“The women all miscarried in the 7th or 8th week of pregnancy,” Langly clarified. “A window of two months would go by, then Diana would start the trial anew with the same 30 women. She’d send the ID number list to the Smoking Man, and within three or four weeks they were pregnant again. And like clockwork, they all miscarried in the 7th or 8th week.”

“Diana’s notes state that the chip provides perfect health for the woman,” said Byers. “So no defect could be passed on to the embryo from the mother. The chip apparently activates ovulation. Diana mentions that the new ova are different from the ova harvested from a woman during her initial abduction, because of the woman’s now-branched DNA.”

“It seems as though Diana was struggling to find a cause for the miscarriages,” Langly added.

“The stem cells of the fetuses showed signs of the alien virus, the same kind of DNA that turned up in that Gibson Praise kid not too long ago,” Frohike said.

Mulder’s brain had gone fuzzy. He could see the dots and was hurriedly trying to connect them.

“Diana believed that if these women could ever bring a child to full term…” Byers began.

“They’d create the perfect child,” Mulder finished. “An alien-human hybrid in the truest sense of the term. One that was human and naturally immune to the virus.”

“Yeah,” Langly concurred. “And the possibility of possessing amazing capabilities.”

“But there was a problem,” said Frohike.

“The miscarriages,” Mulder concluded.

“In Diana’s final journal entries on the clinical trial, dated March of last year,” Byers continued. “She came to the conclusion that the miscarriages are most likely caused by the imperfect DNA passed on by the father that is incompatible with the mother’s branched DNA. The father’s DNA contains no immunities to the alien virus. The fact that the miscarriages always occurred around the 8th week led her to make this hypothesis, as it is during this period of the pregnancy that a gene will trigger the sex of the child.”

“What happened with these women?” Mulder asked.

“Well, it appears that the fertility activated by the chip was only temporary,” Langly answered.

“Based on Diana’s notes,” Byers added. “The Smoking Man ordered all evidence of the trial destroyed.”

“Including the women,” Frohike said angrily.

“They were killed?!” Mulder felt disgusted. How could Diana have gotten herself involved in something like this? He couldn't believe that he'd ever momentarily decided to side with her and the Smoking Man. He felt sick to himself that he'd accuse Scully of 'taking this personal' when she only tried to make him see the truth.

“Eventually,” said Byers. “He had Diana remove the chips from their necks. Those 30 women are either all dead from cancer by now, or on the verge of death.”

*****

Once Scully was home, she picked up the phone and called Mulder’s cell. It was shut off. She then called his apartment and only got the answering machine. Did something happen? She hoped Mulder would call her if he was in any trouble and she also hoped he’d call her even if he wasn’t, just to tell her he was okay. But she also knew that chances were likely he’d keep her in the dark, at least for a while.

Mulder’s ability to set up a barrier around himself was not new to Scully. For as open as he usually is with her, he could also be closed up tighter than a drum. Pot calling the kettle black, Dana. She knew she had closed herself off to Mulder more times than she could count. But there was a time, during her illness and very soon after her recovery, when she had been open to the possibility of their partnership becoming something more. She thought she might’ve even hinted at it once or twice, but nothing happened. Mulder had closed himself off. Then, as Mulder started to open up and express to her how much he needed her in his life, Diana Fowley emerged and Scully promptly erected as many walls as she could.

Then Mulder was sick and dying. Scully was travelling to the other side of the world to find a cure to save him. She almost lost Mulder. And if Diana Fowley hadn’t intervened, she most certainly would have lost him. Scully hated feeling indebted to that woman. But Mulder had been saved, and as they stood in Mulder’s open doorway a few weeks ago, Scully felt that for the first time in six years they were both finally open to each other. There were moments over the past couple weeks when she was sure that Mulder had been about to kiss her or hold her or tell her something she desperately needed to hear. Sometimes she wanted to touch Mulder so badly that it hurt. There were moments when it took every fiber of willpower she possessed to not cross that line they had drawn in the imaginary sand all those years ago.

So she just kept waiting for Mulder to say or do something. But now Scully could feel the knot of fear starting to return. She knew, deep down, that Mulder loved her. She may have tried to deny it, or ignore it, but she knew. What she didn’t know was whether Mulder would ever act on it before one of them closed themself off again, whether they could ever get out of their own way and finally move forward.

*****

Sunday, July 4th was a beautiful sunny day in Alexandria, Virginia. Mulder arrived at Mrs. Scully’s around three o’clock in the afternoon. The driveway was full of cars, but he was able to park in front of the house. As he was getting out of the car, a SUV pulled up behind him. A middle-aged couple got out, along with a younger couple and a girl who looked no older than six or seven. The men unloaded a few bags from the back. They all smiled as they approached Mulder.

“Hello there! You here for Maggie’s BBQ?” asked the older man. “Jim Delaney, Jennifer’s dad. This is my wife, Meghan. Our son Jamie, and his wife Ryan. And this is our granddaughter Charlotte.”

Mulder greeted them all and shook hands. The sound of laughter inside the house could be heard out front, so Charlotte broke free from her parents and ran to the front door to seek out her cousins.

“I’m Mulder. I’m a friend of Scully’s.”

“Uh… which one?” Jim laughed.

Mulder gave a small smile and nodded. “Dana.”

They all stared at him. “Are you the guy she works with? The one who believes in aliens?” Meghan asked incredulously.

Mulder blinked. Jamie and Ryan laughed uncomfortably.

“Come on now, honey,” Jim said. “We don’t want to scare the guy off before he’s even set foot in the house.”

“Right… sorry,” Meghan said awkwardly to Mulder.

“That’s okay,” replied Mulder good-naturedly. “Believing in aliens isn’t even the weirdest thing about me.”

The family laughed, no doubt grateful for the tension relief. They then made their way toward the house.

Scully had been walking through the living room when she saw Mulder standing out front with the Delaneys. Oh, brother. As much as she wanted Mulder to spend the day with her and her family, she was also nervous about how they’d act around him. She didn’t want him to feel uncomfortable. She certainly didn’t want various family members ganging up on him. She didn’t know what would make him feel worse: Bill’s blatant coldness, or other over-enthusiastic family members camping around Mulder demanding that he explain “those crazy ideas of his.”

The Delaneys knocked on the door as they entered the house. Scully greeted them all with hugs and directed them to join everyone in the back yard. Mulder stared at Scully’s back. She had on a yellow sundress with small red flowers of some kind, and she was barefoot. Mulder’s mind went blank, and then vivid images of Mulder sliding his hand up underneath that dress filled his mind. But his eyes zeroed in on the small scar at the base of her neck, and his thoughts turned grim.

Scully turned a warm smile on Mulder after the Delaneys had made their way out of the living room. “Glad you could make it.”

“What? I don’t get a hug?” Mulder teased.

“Do you want one?” Scully quipped sarcastically.

Before Mulder could think of a reply Scully had crossed the few feet between them, and was sliding her arms around his waist and up his back. “Is that better?” she grinned.

Mulder smiled and wrapped his arms around Scully’s back. But then he noticed Charlie standing at the foot of the stairs watching them. Mulder gave Scully a squeeze and then quickly let go. “Thanks. Now I feel like a real guest. Everyone’s in the back yard, you said?”

“Um.. yeah, everyone should be out there,” Scully replied. She couldn’t begin to explain it, but Scully felt there was something off about Mulder. What was going on with him? Was he shutting her out again?

Charlie greeted Mulder and led the way to the back yard. Scully walked behind them but was waylaid by her mother, Tara, Jennifer, Meghan, and Ryan in the kitchen. They were all surprised that Mulder actually showed up. As a matter of fact, so was Scully.

Scully watched from the kitchen window as Mulder shook hands with Bill Jr, who seemed kind of stiff. But then again, that was how he pretty much carried himself at all times. Charlie then led Mulder over to the cooler and they each grabbed a beer, before heading to sit with Jamie at one of the picnic tables. Jim Delaney was chatting with Bill as they started getting things ready for the grill. The kids were in their swim suits and running through the sprinklers. It all looked so… normal. Scully didn’t know how she felt about that.

Once the ladies had finished gathering things for the picnic tables, they joined their men in the back yard. Jamie and Charlie quickly got up to help spread tablecloths so their wives could set the tables. Scully walked over and sat across from Mulder.

“Scully, can I ask you a personal question?”

“Uh… sure, Mulder.”

“What the fuck are you wearing?”

Scully burst out laughing. She tried to answer, but then she started laughing again. After taking a deep breath, she said “I’m just a girl trying to make her mother happy. She got it for me as a gift. She always made me and Melissa wear sundresses on 4th of July. It’s tradition.”

Mulder smiled and nodded.

“So, what happened to you last night?”

Mulder knew this question was coming. “The Lone Gunmen called me. They said it was important.”

“Oh, okay.” Scully could tell that Mulder wasn’t about to elaborate, so she dropped the subject.

After about an hour of everyone sitting around drinking and chatting, Bill Jr got the grill fired up. The mothers got their kids inside to dry off and change clothes. Soon the families had spread themselves out over three picnic tables and everyone feasted on hamburgers, hot dogs, and BBQ chicken along with other picnic staples Mrs. Scully filled the tables with.

To Scully’s relief, despite several of the ladies insisting on calling him “Fox,” no one badgered Mulder. She wondered if Charlie had something to do with that. If that was so, she was thankful. However, she did note that Bill seated himself as far away from Mulder as he could possibly get without sitting on the ground. Oh, well. Some things will never change. But even though no one was being invasive towards Mulder and (most) everyone treated him kindly, she observed that he got quieter and quieter as the day went on.

*****

It was nearly 8:30 pm and everyone loaded up into as few cars as possible to drive to Oronoco Bay Park to watch the fireworks. Once they reached the park, the Scullys, Delaneys, and Mulder all filed out with lawn chairs and blankets. They found a soft grassy area just far enough away from the crowd of people gathering to be able to talk normally and still be heard by one another.

Mulder walked behind Scully towards that chosen area. Charlie’s youngest boy, nine year old Jack (whom Mulder had learned was the nephew who had been obsessed with the movie Babe a few years ago and would make Scully watch it 10 times a day with him), held her hand the entire way from the parking lot. Mulder sighed.

Spending the day at Mrs. Scully’s house had been a reminder that in many ways Scully’s life was very different from his own. He had been estranged from his parents for most of his adult life. Most of his childhood memories were marred by his sister’s abduction and his parents’ divorce. Scully had grown up a happy kid, with parents who loved each other, surrounded by close siblings.

And as Mulder watched these happy families, he saw just how much had been taken away from Scully. He was surrounded by happy marriages and healthy children. And then there was Scully, alone and barren. Because of him. Her sister was murdered. Because of him. She had gotten cancer, and in order to survive she has to walk around with that thing in her neck doing God knows what to her. All because of him. Scully deserved this care-free, happy life that her family enjoyed. It should be her with the adoring husband and surrounded by children. What could he ever give her? She deserved so much more.

At 9:30 pm, the fireworks started. Scully had seated herself in a lawn chair, and Mulder came over to seat himself on the ground by her feet. He was getting tired. He leaned his shoulder against her left leg and crooked his arm around her calf. Scully absentmindedly started to run her fingers through Mulder’s hair. “Mmm, Scully,” Mulder cooed. “I’m gonna fall asleep if you keep doing that.”

Scully smiled. “So go to sleep, then.” She continued to stroke his forehead and run her fingers against his scalp. Mulder was making sounds that sounded almost like a cat purring. Scully tried not to giggle. Then Mulder felt someone looking at him, and he opened his eyes to catch Bill Jr’s icy stare. A pang of guilt flooded Mulder’s stomach.

“Thanks, Scully,” Mulder said as he pulled his arm back and leaned away from her. “But I really don’t want to fall asleep in the park. Who knows what could happen?” Mulder’s feeble attempt at a joke fell flat. He got up and walked to the other side of the group, leaving Scully staring at her hands in her lap. He sat down in a lawn chair next to Jennifer, behind Bill Jr.

Charlie had watched this whole scene. He approached Bill Jr, whispering “What the hell is wrong with you, Bill?”

“I don’t like that guy.”

“Come on. He’s a good guy.”

“Do you have any idea what he’s put Dana through? What he’s done to this family?”

“Dana makes her own choices, Bill. Mulder never forced her to do anything she wasn’t willing to do."

“I’ll never understand why she couldn’t just be a doctor. She could’ve been a Chief Hospital Administrator by now.”

“I can’t believe we’re having this conversation again. She is a doctor. She’s a doctor with the FBI. Bill, have you ever stopped to think that Dana wants more excitement in her life than piles of paper work and endless board meetings?”

“Ridiculous,” Bill Jr sniffed.

“Dana believes that what she’s doing is worthwhile. She believes in upholding the law, carrying out justice, and saving lives. There’s nothing wrong with that. You should be more understanding.”

“Yeah, how many lives is she saving by chasing UFOs?” Bill Jr retorted. “Look, if Dana wants to work for the FBI, fine by me. It doesn’t mean I have to accept Mulder.”

“Yes, Bill, that’s exactly what it means. Because she’s in love with him.”

“Charles, don’t be ridiculous. They only work together.”

“You’re a goddamned fool, Bill.”

As Charlie walked away, Jennifer turned her head until she caught Mulder’s eye. Mulder slowly shook his head and then stared at his shoes.

Chapter Text

Something had happened. Scully didn’t know what that was, and Mulder didn’t seem inclined to illuminate. But there had been such a marked change in Mulder’s demeanor ever since he’d returned from Connecticut, that it was impossible to deny. She didn’t think it had anything to do with his mother, as he wouldn’t have had a problem talking about that. Could it be something going on with The Lone Gunmen that had him so preoccupied? Mulder had run out of The Old Toad because of an apparent phone call from them about something “important.” But that could be crop circles in Canada for all she knew or suspected of what those guys deemed to be all-important news.

Scully didn’t know what had caused Mulder to abruptly move himself away from her during the fireworks. She had her suspicions, but these only caused her pain and embarrassment. The feel of running her fingers through Mulder’s hair as he leaned against her was soothing beyond belief. Such a simple act that, six months ago, never would have happened so naturally and without second thought.

Their dynamic was finally changing, and she thought for the better. But Mulder seemed to be backtracking, trying to stop them from progressing further. She knew that Mulder loved her, yes, but did he want her? She was afraid to learn the answer, and it only made her feel helpless. Wasn’t Mulder sick of remaining stagnate? She knew that she certainly was. But she was quickly losing hope, believing that Mulder could easily convince himself he was content with loneliness for the rest of his life. Could she really go on like this forever? Scully didn’t know. She maintained a steady gaze out the car window for the duration of the 15 minute drive from Oronoco Bay Park to her mother’s house in the Alexandria Wrest neighborhood. She didn’t want to look over at Mulder and catch his eye. She didn’t want to find rejection and disappointment there.

*****

The fireworks had come to an end, prompting the Scullys, Delaneys, and Mulder to make their way back to the parking lot. After they piled into vehicles, Mulder found himself sitting in the back seat of Charlie and Jennifer’s car with a silent Scully, and a sleeping Jack between them. Was Charlie right about what he said to Bill Jr… she’s in love with him? He knew it must be true. Mulder now recalled that someone else had attempted to bring this to his attention not so long ago, but the thought of his former neighbor Phillip Padgett turned his stomach and he forcefully pushed the memory away. Charlie turned on the car radio, but kept the volume low as he and Jennifer quietly talked together up front. Scully seemed to be resolutely staring out the window. What was she thinking about?

Mulder had never felt more confused in his life. It seemed as though his body and his mind were in a state of war. Whatever had been the status of his partnership with Scully up until this point, his body was now fighting against it. It wanted more. Where Mulder found contentment with his friendship with Scully, his body knew it could be so much better. Where Mulder found it hard to find the words to express how he felt or what he wanted, his body knew how to make it clear.

But then Mulder’s mind would put up one hell of a defensive effort. It had masterfully laid hidden counterattacks like land mines, so that whenever his body would compel him to move to action, a mental blast would check him and keep him restrained.

That yellow sundress had been driving him crazy all day, not to mention Scully’s bare feet and painted toes. There were moments when Scully had separated herself from the group outside and wandered into the empty kitchen. The impulse to follow her into the house was almost too powerful. He sat there picturing himself going inside and getting her behind a locked door, frantically shoving her dress upwards and burying his hard member in her wet heat.

But then his mind would cruelly remind him of all the terrible things that had happened to Scully of which were directly or indirectly his fault. Why would you force her to chain herself to you more than she is now, his mind would chide him. Why do a disservice to her professionalism and her reputation by turning her into your sexual play-thing? You already know why everyone thinks she’s stayed in the basement with you all these years. Why make the whispers and smirks in the FBI hallways of fact instead of baseless rumor? You’ve done enough damage to her already.

Mulder sighed. He looked over at Scully. She was still looking out the window. He watched as her profile would momentarily alight with the passing of street lamps or headlights, and then once again become cloaked in darkness. There was so much Mulder wanted to say to her, but didn’t know how to. He had an unexplainable feeling that a door was closing somewhere, an opportunity was being wasted. But he could do nothing but silently brood over the enigma of their partnership; the simultaneous nature of their closeness and distance, their solidarity and discord, which was perfectly embodied by the fact that even though Mulder sat so near to Scully in the back seat of this car, the intermittent darkness was preventing him from seeing her face clearly.

*****

Everyone safely arrived back at Mrs. Scully’s house and began saying their goodbyes. The Delaney clan, after telling Maggie that they’d see her at St. John’s Church the following Sunday for mass and reminding her of the fundraiser they were putting on to help Father McCue raise money for Carpenter’s Shelter, hopped into their SUV to return home.

Charlie and Jennifer were saying their goodbyes to Mulder as Scully was giving hugs to Tara and Bill, and wishing them a safe flight back to San Diego in the morning. After Bill and Tara started to make their way inside the house with a sleeping Matthew, Scully approached Charlie, Jennifer, and Mulder. Mulder watched as Charlie and Jennifer each gave her a tight hug, then the latter whispered “Call me!” into Scully’s ear while darting a quick glance at Mulder, and then walked into the house with her husband.

“Well, goodnight Mulder,” Scully said simply. “I’d say ‘see you in the office tomorrow,’ but you know…”

“I’m on summer vacation,” Mulder quipped. Scully gave him a small smile. “Goodnight, Scully.”

Mulder watched Scully walk with her mother towards her parked car in Mrs. Scully’s driveway.

“Hey Scully! You’re not seriously thinking of driving back to Georgetown tonight, are you?”

“Yeah, why not? I live there.”

“It’s kind of too late to be driving all the way back there, don’t you think? Wouldn’t it be better to stay here tonight?”

“Mulder, it’s less than 20 minutes away. And it’s not even 11:00 yet. I’ll be fine.”

He made no reply. This was one of those times when Scully’s stubborn independence could be downright infuriating.

Maggie Scully gave her daughter a hug and kiss goodbye, then watched her pull out of the driveway and make way for home. She then turned and saw Fox Mulder approaching his driver side door, pulling out his car keys. Maggie was glad she finally had a chance to speak to him without the others around.

“Fox?"

Mulder looked up with surprise. “Yes, Mrs. Scully?”

Maggie walked over to stand on the curb next to Mulder’s car. “I wanted to talk to you about Bill Jr.”

“Oh.”

“I know Bill was rude to you today,” Maggie said. “And I wanted to apologize. He has strong opinions, I know, but he should know better than to treat any guest of mine inhospitably.”

“That’s okay, Mrs. Scully.”

“I hope you know, Fox,” Maggie replied. “That you are always welcome at my house. Dana trusts you and respects you, so how can anyone else who doesn’t know you as well as she say otherwise.”

“I completely understand why Bill Jr hates me, so try not to feel too bad about it.”

“Hate is an awfully strong word,” said Maggie contemplatively. “Bill only has one perspective on the matter: his own. I knew from the moment I met you how much you cared about my daughter. You always refused to give up on her, even when we were prepared to let her go. Whatever Bill may think about what caused the things that have happened to Dana, you are the reason she’s alive today. Hopefully, in time, Bill will come to realize that as well.”

Mulder swallowed; he felt a lump in his throat. He could only nod in reply. After saying goodnight, Mulder got into his car and drove home to his apartment near the river.

*****

Mulder found himself walking on a beach. He knew this beach. This was the place he’d come to so many times over the past few months. As Mulder walked further, he saw the young boy with light brown hair next to the large UFO made out of sand. He ran to Mulder and grabbed him by the hand. He was upset and crying, saying “help my mother” over and over. Mulder tried to tell him that he doesn’t know who the boy’s mother is. The boy grabbed Mulder’s hand again, and then led him away from the beach and into the nearby woods.

Mulder didn’t recognize this part of the dream. As he walked through the woods, he felt a gentle breeze and occasional warmth when passing through patches of sunshine that had found their way through the trees. Mulder felt completely at peace. The boy continued holding on to his hand, guiding him, until Mulder saw a flash of yellow behind some trees and heard familiar laughter. It was Scully. He knew it was her. She’d never been here before. How did she get here? He could feel her close, but he couldn’t see her. The boy had disappeared. Where did he go? He heard the laughter again, louder. He quickly turned around, and there was Scully.

She looked different, somehow. Her hair was slightly longer and her eyes were a different shade of blue. They were piercingly bright, and twinkling with happiness. She was wearing that pale yellow sundress with the small red flowers that stopped just above her knees. Mulder tried to speak, but he couldn’t make a sound. He had so many things he needed to tell her. He kept trying, but his words were lost on the air. Scully smiled at him. A sudden sense of urgency overwhelmed him. If he couldn’t tell her, he’d have to show her.

In an instant, Mulder had grabbed Scully and lifted her up, holding her tight to his chest. Her arms were around his neck, and her eyes sparkled. She didn’t speak, but she was telling him she loved him. He heard the words from somewhere: inside himself? Her mind? He didn’t know. And he still couldn’t speak. In another instant his mouth was on hers. She didn’t resist, but seemed to match his fiery sense of urgency. Scully was what he wanted and needed. She was so soft and tasted so sweet.

Mulder laid Scully down on the grass, pressing his body tightly against hers. She arched her back, but it wasn’t enough. They weren’t close enough. Suddenly his clothes were gone, but he didn’t remember removing them. He pressed into her again, wanting to be closer until they were like that fused dime and penny in his desk.

Amazingly, Scully wanted more, wanted him. Mulder hurriedly pushed the edge of the sundress up to her hips. He knew that Scully wanted to feel him inside her. She parted her legs and he settled between them. In a matter of seconds, Mulder had completely filled her. It was the most incredible sensation he’d ever known: warm and wet and tight. He began to move quickly with a sense of urgency he had never experienced before. He was afraid this would end. He never wanted it to end. He was pulsing and alive inside her. Scully… Scully… Scully. He was thrusting harder and harder, wanting to cry out but no sound would come. His release was imminent. He could feel it burning. Mulder could sense waves of ecstasy just over the precipice. So close…

Cigarette smoke. The woods darkened. No. No, no, no, no, no. No, not again. Scully’s radiant blue eyes were now filled with fear. Suddenly Mulder was clothed. He stood up, holding onto Scully’s hand. The Cancer Man was there. Mulder couldn’t see him, but he was here. He was going to take Scully away from him again. He couldn’t let him have her. Scully’s hand started to slip out of his own. He couldn’t hold onto her. Cancer Man was taking her. His worst nightmare was coming true. The young boy was back, crying and pulling on Mulder’s arm; “help my mother,” “help my mother!” Scully was screaming.

“NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!” Mulder lunged off his couch, hitting his head hard on the coffee table, and ended up bent over on the floor. “Ouch, fuck,” Mulder whispered to himself as he rubbed his forehead, sitting up. The television was playing some old black & white film. Mulder got himself back sitting on the couch. He still felt afraid. Mulder reached for his phone to call Scully. He had to make sure she was okay. He looked at the time; 4:37 am. He then saw he was still wearing the same clothes he’d worn to Mrs. Scully’s. The past day’s events came back to him. He put the phone down. Scully was fine. It was just a dream.

Chapter Text

Following the events of the 4th of July weekend, the rest of the month was dragging slowly. Work was insipid. Scully was basically accomplishing little to nothing down there in the basement by herself. In the last week of July, she’d been called in by the Little Rock Field Office to consult on a murder case involving the deaths and mutilations of several young children that appeared to be satanic in nature. They had actually wanted Mulder, of course. But he was unavailable, so they contacted Scully because they’d heard she was “the next best thing.”

Scully had to brace herself when asked to perform the autopsies on the four victims. It was one of the most horrific things she’d ever had to do. Once the autopsies were finished, she hid in a locked stall of an empty women’s bathroom and called Mulder in tears. She couldn’t cry in front of the other agents, police officers, and pathologists at the Medical Examiner’s office. For a long time, she’d felt she could never cry in front of Mulder either. She knew that Mulder saw her as an equal, someone who commanded authority and respect. But she also knew Mulder never saw her tears as something that marked her as inferior, or as having some kind of weakness.

Naturally, no real evidence of satanic cultism was found. As she was on her flight from Arkansas back to Washington just two days later, the FBI and state police were rounding up all the sex offenders in several counties. In truth, the only reason she went out there was to escape the humdrum atmosphere the basement office took on in the absence of her partner.

Scully had no idea where Mulder was half the time these days, or what he was doing. She’d call his cell phone, and most of the time he wouldn’t answer. She’d call his home phone, and get the answering machine. Then he’d call her back and leave a message. Scully started to notice that he’d always call when she wouldn’t be around to answer the phone. Mulder knew that, in the summertime, Scully liked to get out of the office and spend her lunch break in John Marshall Park. And almost every day when she’d return from lunch, there would be a voicemail from Mulder, saying “sorry I missed you.” Then she’d call him right back, but wouldn’t get an answer. Sometimes it was infuriating.

Then, after going all week being completely incommunicado, Mulder would show up at her apartment on a Friday evening with pizza, a six-pack of beer, and a terrible move like The Jerk. She would ask Mulder what he was doing with himself, and he’d always respond with a vague “oh, keeping busy.” Then he’d change the subject. The next week would go by with them playing phone tag again, and then Mulder would show up at her apartment out of the blue on a Sunday morning, telling her to get dressed because he had Yankees tickets. They’d drive to New York, spend a long afternoon at the baseball stadium, and then they’d drive back home, where Scully wouldn’t hear from Mulder again for days.

Working in the basement alone, and only seeing Mulder sporadically, forced Scully to realize that she missed him terribly when he wasn’t around. This was not something she found easy to admit to herself. She had worked hard over the past several years to portray herself as a strong, independent woman who not only was more than capable to work alongside Mulder, but who could walk away from the X-Files at any time and get on with her life. However, the events of the past year and even this summer of solitude in the basement had made this façade harder to keep up. Could she really just up and walk away from the X-Files at any moment? She probably should, but she felt stuck. Scully honestly had felt this way at times over the last couple years, but it was now starting to be a constant in her life.

Returning to regular FBI work after everything she’d seen and done with Mulder was impossible. The very idea of monotonous police work made her groan out loud. Perhaps she could go back to teaching at Quantico, or find a position in a top research hospital. But staying on with Mulder, investigating new and weird phenomena that had yet to be discovered, was shaping up to also be an impossible scenario if her relationship with him wasn’t going to change. She wanted Mulder in a way that had absolutely nothing to do with work. There were other aspects of her life that she just couldn’t go on ignoring anymore. She had been trying to do everything she could to convince herself, and everyone around her, that she could easily live without Mulder if she had to, but all the while the secret person of the heart was silently pleading with him to ensure that she never had to.

There had been moments, during the rare occasions they’d spent in each other’s company since Mulder returned from his mother’s house in Connecticut, where he always seemed just on the verge of taking her in his arms, or opening up and pouring out his heart. But then he’d pull away. Scully now had the feeling that Mulder was so busy respecting her as his partner, that he couldn’t even see what she needed from him as a woman. Scully had desperately wanted to force Mulder’s hand. But what if she made Mulder run in the opposite direction? Mulder was so solitary by nature, that that was a likely outcome if she was forced to browbeat him into revealing his true feelings.

But Scully knew she couldn’t wait around for Mulder forever. That sensation of being stuck was welling up again. What about her future? What did it even look like? If something, God forbid, happened to Mulder, she’d be all alone. She had no one else, not really. She suddenly thought of her brothers and their wives, surrounded by their beautiful children, who would be their joy and comfort in their old age. Scully was no longer content with loneliness. She’d never be able to be a mother, but she could still have unconditional love. And there was only one person whom she could ever imagine being with. Life without Mulder was inconceivable, but living a life with him in it, and yet always just out of her reach, would be intolerable.

*****

At eight o’clock on Friday morning, August 6th, Scully had walked into the basement office preparing for another day of doldrums. The majority of the morning went by slowly. Scully replied to emails and reviewed the official report of her findings in the Arkansas murder case before she was to submit it to Skinner later that day. At just past 11:30 am, there was a knock on the office door.

Scully looked up, startled. “Come in.” Who could it be? Skinner wouldn’t have knocked.

The door opened and there was Detective Kresge, who worked for the San Diego Police Department. Scully stared. He was the last person she ever expected.

“Detective Kresge!” Scully said enthusiastically, getting up from the desk and walking towards him. “How are you? What brings you all the way out here?”

Detective Kresge smiled and shook Scully’s hand. “I’m good, thanks. But I’m not a detective anymore. It’s Lieutenant Kresge now.”

“Congratulations on the promotion,” Scully replied.

“Thanks. I’m actually in town attending the National Academy at Quantico.”

“Wow,” Scully replied, impressed. “That’s great. I’m glad you’re doing well. So what brings you down here, in the basement?”

Kresge smirked. “Yeah, I was wondering about that. When I signed in and asked to see you, they told me you were in the basement. I figured you were down here looking for something or going through old files, so I told them to just direct me to your office and I’d wait for you. They got a real kick out of that.”

“I bet they did.” Scully gave a sardonic look. “So, you came here to see me?”

“Yeah,” Kresge said simply. “I knew you were here, and I don’t know anyone in the area other than my classmates. I wondered how you were doing, so I decided to look you up.”

“Well, that was thoughtful of you.” Scully smiled.

“You look good,” Kresge said matter-of-factly, without hint of embarrassment or awkwardness.

“Um, thank you,” Scully replied, not quite meeting his eyes.

“So… you got plans for dinner tonight?”

Scully gave a surprised look. “No. Do you mean, like a date?”

“Yeah, like a date,” Kresge grinned.

*****

Scully sighed as she came through her apartment door and locked it behind her. She tossed her keys on the table and kicked off her heels. It felt good to get them off her feet. The wine from dinner had given her a relaxed, fuzzy feeling, and she hummed to herself while she walked towards the kitchen to get some ice cream. The sight of Mulder sitting at her kitchen table stopped her in her tracks.

“Mulder! What are you doing sitting here in the dark?! Trying to scare me to death?”

Scully walked over to the wall and flipped the light switch. The kitchen was suddenly bathed in soft light.

“Where were you?” Mulder asked, ignoring her question and eyeing her dark blue cocktail dress.

“I went out to dinner. I might ask the same of you,” Scully retorted. “Where have you been all week?”

“Working on some stuff. Keeping busy,” Mulder replied. “Who were you with?”

“I don’t see how that’s any of your business, Mulder,” bristled Scully.

“Why? Was it a date, or something?” Mulder scoffed.

“Yes, it was,” Scully said evenly. She opened the freezer and pulled out a carton of French vanilla. “Do you want some ice cream?”

Mulder stared. “Sure. So who was your dinner companion?”

“Detective Kresge,” replied Scully. “Oh, well it’s Lieutenant now. Lieutenant Kresge.”

Mulder watched Scully as she stood on her tip toes to reach for two bowls, and then walked to the other side of her sink to open a drawer and pull out two spoons.

“Why does that name sound familiar?” Mulder questioned.

“He helped me with the Emily Sim case in San Diego.”

Scully chided herself on her use of words. It made her sound so cold. But truthfully, referring to that experience as “the Emily Sim case” served as a helpful way to detach herself. But then Scully thought of her situation with Mulder and knew just how big of a problem emotional detachment could be.

“I shouldn’t have said it like that,” Scully sighed, as she dished up the ice cream. “The truth is most of the time I can manage to make myself forget about Emily. But then I remember, and my heart breaks all over again. As if it had just happened yesterday, instead of almost two years ago.”

She sat at the table crosswise from Mulder, setting his bowl in front of him. For some seconds, they ate their ice cream in silence.

“So how did this dinner date with Kresge come about?” Mulder finally asked.

“He’s at Quantico for the FBINA training course. He stopped by headquarters to see how I was doing. And then he asked me to dinner.”

Scully’s face reddened. She didn’t know whether to admit the real truth or not. She decided the fewer secrets between them, the better.

“But… as it turns out, Bill had run into him in San Diego before he left for the course and told him to look me up. Even told him to ask me out. Apparently, he told Kresge that I was in need of some ‘different male company.’”

Scully had mockingly air-quoted Bill’s words, while holding her spoon, causing Mulder to chuckle.

“Bill Jr is clearly desperate at this point,” Mulder replied.

“Heh, yeah, I suppose so. Oh well. I still had a nice time. I can’t remember the last time someone took me out.”

“Scully! We just went to a baseball game last week!” Mulder said, looking affronted.

“Yeah, well… you know what I mean. I don’t think I’ve been on a date since Ed Jerse. And we both know how well that turned out.” Scully smirked, rolling her eyes.

Scully then noticed an abrupt change in Mulder’s posture. He had tensed up. Silence filled the kitchen.

“Why did you agree to go out with him in the first place?” Mulder asked.

“Who? Kresge? Or Jerse?” Scully replied, eyeing Mulder warily. She didn’t want this to escalate into an argument. She also really didn’t want to talk about the fact that the last time she had sex, it was with a guy whose tattoo was telling him to kill people.

Mulder looked as if he was debating the answer. “Kresge,” he finally said.

Scully thought that Mulder probably didn’t want to go down the Jerse road either.

“I don’t know,” said Scully. “He asked me if I had dinner plans, and I answered honestly. I couldn’t really think of a legitimate reason to refuse his offer.”

“Oh.”

Did Mulder look hurt? Scully started to feel guilty, but that guilt quickly turned into annoyance.

“So, are you going to tell me what it is you’ve been up these past few weeks? Or are you going to keep me in the dark?” Scully asked icily.

“I have no idea what you’re talking about, Scully,” Mulder replied in that dead tone of his.

And as Friday, August 6th came to a close, Mulder and Scully sat at her kitchen table in silence, both feeling angry and frustrated and completely miserable.

Chapter Text

Mulder couldn’t go back to sleep after the dream and lied awake on the couch for another hour, thinking about Scully, and trying not to think about the Cigarette-Smoking Man. Then he bolted up and sat at his computer. He pulled a disc out of the top right drawer and inserted it into the CD-ROM drive. Mulder had been trying to avoid it, but he knew it had to be done. It was possible the Lone Gunmen had missed something, or overlooked the significance of an observation made by Diana. He had to read what was on this disc for himself.

Mulder spent the next three hours reading every file, every report Diana had saved onto the disc. Something of note, which Mulder found strange, was that the 30 MUFON women of the pregnancy trial Diana had conducted were all inoculated with the vaccine before their chips were activated to start ovulation; the same vaccine that Mulder had used to save Scully’s life in Antarctica. Why? Was the branched DNA alien in nature? No, that didn’t make sense. Did the ovulation caused by the chip have an effect on the branched DNA, perhaps causing it to mutate? Would there be problems with the pregnancy if the mother contained no immunity to the alien virus?

Mulder’s head was starting to hurt. How could he even begin to find out the answers? Diana was dead and gone. The Consortium had all burned up. Perhaps Marita Covarrubias could provide some clarity, if she was even alive. She wasn’t looking too good the last time Mulder saw her. He supposed Krycek was still out there somewhere, surviving like a cockroach. Cancer Man was somewhere out there, too. Mulder mentally chastised himself; DON’T THINK ABOUT HIM.

Mulder let out a deep sigh. He needed Scully to help make some sense of this. Then that familiar guilty feeling reared its ugly head. Mulder thought that telling Scully wasn’t such a good idea, but he wasn’t exactly sure why. Why did Diana’s involvement make him feel so guilty? He felt dirty somehow, as if her sins had become his as well. Maybe he felt that way because he had staunchly defended Diana whenever Scully cast aspersions on her character.

Or maybe it was because of The Dream. The dream in which Mulder, knowing the truth about Diana’s duplicitousness, had willingly abandoned Scully, and chosen a life where he was obliviously imprisoned in a Suburbia of Lies. Mulder knew that it was silly to beat himself up over choices made in a dream, which one had no control over. But Mulder thought it was humiliating that, for someone so obsessed with searching for the truth, he had zero problems accepting the lie where Diana Fowley had been concerned.

Mulder was determined to find some answers. He may have felt that he couldn’t bring Scully in on this, but that didn’t mean he’d have to work alone. He pulled on a pair of shoes and grabbed his keys.

*****

“Mulder!” exclaimed Frohike as he opened the door to the Lone Gunmen’s headquarters. “You’ve got perfect timing. We're making huevos rancheros.”

Mulder stared at Frohike’s 'Kiss the Cook' apron. “I didn’t come down here for food. So pardon me if I don’t pucker up.”

Frohike gave Mulder the stink-eye as he walked through the door and sat down in a chair opposite from Langly and Byers.

“So what brings you down here?” Byers asked, as Frohike joined them at the table.

“Oh, just wanted to see if you boys were interested in some unofficial investigative work,” Mulder replied.

The Gunmen raised their eyebrows. “We’re listening,” said Langly.

“The clinical trial Diana conducted with the MUFON women,” Mulder began. “Do you think that was limited to just one study in Europe, or do you think something similar could’ve been happening here in this country?"

They stared at Mulder.

“I think we need to look further into the MUFON chapters here,” Mulder continued. “There must be at least one whose female members were subjected to this pregnancy trial. There must be a record of it somewhere. We’ve got to find it.”

“We?” Byers questioned.

“I’m down for some excitement,” said Langly. “It’s been a slow summer so far.”

“So…,” Frohike paused. “Will that sweet partner of yours be joining us?”

“Calm down, Melvin,” Mulder said flatly. “And no, Scully won’t be working on this.”

Byers eyed him questioningly. “Why not?”

Mulder hesitated. “Because technically I’m on medical leave from work. This investigation will be strictly unofficial. If I were to bring Scully along, who is currently working as an active agent, I would run the risk of getting her into trouble with the Bureau. You know how Scully has to do things by the book.”

“I’m sure Scully would still want to come along,” Langly said.

“She’s got enough blemishes on her personnel file because of me, don’t you think?” Mulder responded.

“Agent Scully doesn’t care about that,” said Frohike dismissively.

“I do.”

The Lone Gunmen exchanged looks, and then promptly dropped the subject.

“So where do we start?” asked Byers.

“We start by contacting the Mutual UFO Network,” Mulder replied. “See if there are any chapters with reports of once barren members suddenly becoming pregnant.”

*****

Late on Friday afternoon, July 16th, Mulder walked through the door to his apartment, tossed his keys on the table, and sat at his desk. He’d spent a long week with the Lone Gunmen driving up and down the northeast in the Gunmen’s van, and speaking with MUFON members or at least trying to. Most female members were all dead of brain cancer. The men belonging to the now dwindling groups had no knowledge of any pregnancies. Mulder glanced down at his answering machine, noticed he had five unheard messages, and pressed the play button.

“Hi, it’s me. I got your message here at the office. I was having my lunch at John Marshall Park. Did you forget that I have lunch there when the weather is nice? I had called you because Charlie and Jennifer were wondering if you’d like to go to dinner sometime. Let me know.”

He didn’t know how he felt about that.

“Hello Fox, it’s your mother. Just wondering how you were doing. Give me a call when you get a chance.”

He sighed. He’d call her later.

“Hello Marty, it’s Vanessa. It’s been so long since I’ve heard your sexy voice. I’ve been so lonely and missing you terribly. Marty, just for you we’re running a special low rate of 45 cents each additional minute after $2.99 for the first minute. Call me soon, lover.”

He rolled his eyes and pressed the delete button.

“Mulder, it’s me. I got your message. I was on my lunch break. In the park. As usual. Which you apparently have forgotten about. Again. Anyways, to answer your question, I haven’t really been doing anything all that exciting lately. I’ve just been working on a monograph on PCR genotyping for the Forensic Sciences Journal. What have you been doing, Mulder?”

He felt a twinge of guilt.

“You know, Mulder, maybe you should try calling at any time other than my lunch break. Or, here’s a novel idea, if you need to speak to me when I’m having lunch just call my cell.”

Shit, she’s pissed. Mulder hadn’t seen her since last Saturday morning, when he had stopped by her place with breakfast after making a Dunkin’ Donuts run. He missed her. Working with the Lone Gunmen was better than working alone, but they weren’t Scully. No one was.

*****

At 6:25 pm, Mulder was knocking on Scully’s door while holding a pizza, with a Steve Martin movie sitting on top of the box, and a six-pack of Rolling Rock. Scully, wearing a white tank top and black jeans, opened her door and pursed her lips. He could tell she was debating how to react to his unannounced presence at her apartment after avoiding her phone calls all week. Scully then sighed and stepped back from the doorway, allowing Mulder to come in.

He set the pizza and beer on Scully’s living room table.

The Jerk, Mulder? Seriously?”

“It’s an American comedy classic, Scully.”

She rolled her eyes. He thought she still seemed irritated with him.

“And it’s also an apology,” Mulder said, while holding up the VHS case next to his face and pouting.

Scully chuckled and shook her head. She went into the kitchen to grab a couple plates and a bottle opener, and then returned to the living room, sitting on the couch and opening two bottles of Rolling Rock.

While eating pizza, Scully asked him what he’d been doing with himself. Mulder deflected the question and asked after her family. They then enjoyed sitting together on Scully’s couch, laughing through the movie along with plenty of eye rolling and pointed looks thrown Mulder’s way during the more ridiculous parts of the film. He would laugh in return.

Scully was sitting near enough to him so that Mulder could just reach out and hold her hand. Or pull her closer to him and put his arms around her. He wanted to. Occasionally during the movie, his mind would wander to an alternate universe where they were urgently moving to the bedroom, while frantically groping at each other in the dark and ripping at each other’s clothes, until his fingers found her wet slit and her small warm hand stroked his hard cock.

“Mulder, are you all right?” asked Scully. “You look glazed over.”

He mentally checked himself for allowing his thoughts to get so carried away. “Yeah, I’m fine. Just getting tired.”

As Mulder drove home that night, he wondered how much longer they would be able to be alone together at each other’s apartments before he lost control. He couldn’t stand being so close to Scully, and yet unable to bring himself to touch her. But why would she even want that? It could ruin everything. This was becoming a constant torment.

When he arrived home, he found a new message waiting for him on his machine and within seconds Byers’ voice could be heard.

“Mulder, we just contacted a now-defunct MUFON chapter in Raleigh, North Carolina. Also located in Raleigh is one Lombard Center for Reproductive Medicine, now closed and no longer in operation. I don’t suppose the name Lombard rings any bells? Delete this message and call us back.”

*****

Mulder and the Lone Gunmen spent the next week in North Carolina, conducting interviews with former MUFON members. They even managed to break into the closed down Lombard Center for Reproductive Medicine, but found the building to be completely empty. Several of the men they spoke to knew of nine women of the Raleigh chapter, all married, whose cancer had suddenly gone into remission and then within a month or two were pregnant after receiving treatment from the Lombard Center. This caused a lot of speculation and even contention within the group, as other members grew angry and suspicious over these women agreeing to have the chips placed back in their necks.

The women all suffered miscarriages, but would return to the Lombard Center and soon after were pregnant again. Only to once again suffer a miscarriage. On Friday they met with Paul Solometo, one of the former MUFON members and professed alien abductee. He said this pregnancy/miscarriage cycle occurred three times before the Lombard Center closed. Solometo also told of reported stolen computers in all the homes of MUFON members shortly before the Center shut down last summer. The MUFON chapter also disbanded last year because of the division among the group, and the women had eventually died.

On Saturday morning, July 24th, Mulder and the Lone Gunmen loaded up the van and headed home to D.C. During the drive back home Mulder didn’t say much, but sat quietly listening to the Gunmen’s chatter and only occasionally adding to the conversation.

“So, Mulder,” Langly spoke after a prolonged silence. “What does Agent Scully make of all this?”

“What?” he replied, startled out of his reverie. He didn’t quite know how to answer without causing suspicion. “Oh, she’s just as confused as the rest of us.”

“Well, if anyone can figure it out, she can,” Frohike said confidently.

Byers said nothing, but silently eyed Mulder in the rear view mirror. He caught his gaze, and then quickly looked away.

*****

When Mulder arrived home that afternoon, he was glad he hadn’t come home to more annoyed messages. This was mostly thanks to the fact that Mulder, even though he left random voicemails for her at work, took his cell phone to bed and called her every night from his motel room in Raleigh. Most nights they’d end up discussing the alien spacecraft Scully had found in Africa, and what that knowledge meant to their evolving belief systems. Now that Mulder was home, he desperately wanted to see Scully. But he didn’t think showing up at her place that night was a good idea. His thoughts were becoming harder to master, and the more explicit his thoughts, the more cruel his inner voice became.

Mulder was now convinced that Scully’s love for him didn’t surpass close friendship because how could it possibly. Look at everything she’d suffered because of her involvement with him. The best thing for Scully would be to get as far away from him as possible. She could have a chance for a normal life, maybe even a family, but at least a life where she wasn’t in danger every minute of the day because she worked on the X-Files. The dark government, the Smoking Man and his associates, had constantly used her as a pawn in their games to send Mulder down the wrong path, to mislead and manipulate him. They made Scully suffer to punish him, and if they ever found out that their partnership had become something more, they could easily do it again.

But this time it would be so much worse than before because in the past Mulder had been willing to do almost anything to save Scully’s life, almost. But if Mulder were to allow Scully unrestricted access to his heart, and his body, he wasn’t sure whether his moral compass would remain intact if they threatened her life again. He could easily go past the point of no return, where absolutely nothing would stay his hand if he found his enemies staring down the barrel of his gun. He could even end up willing to do the unthinkable: sell his soul to the Devil and place himself under the power of the Cigarette-Smoking Man.

Even though these harsh thoughts were useful in checking his momentary unguarded desires for Scully, he still could easily cross the line and lose control. So the next morning, Mulder showed up at Scully’s apartment at 9:00 am. He had called the Yankees box office the day before and scored two tickets for the Sunday game against the Cleveland Indians. A baseball stadium seemed like the perfect place, and also a safe one, to spend hours in Scully’s company.

*****

Their drive to New York was a pleasant one. They didn’t talk about work or Bill Jr. Mulder kept the radio on the classic rock station, and Scully found it amusing when he got really into songs like Pink Floyd’s “Comfortably Numb” or Van Halen’s “Panama.” The sight of Mulder tapping the steering wheel and bobbing his head, silently mouthing the words, would send Scully into a fit of giggles.

“You’re really cutting loose over there, Mulder. Look at what vacation has done to you.”

He threw a sarcastic look in Scully’s direction.

“I’m just enjoying the ride, Scully. Maybe if the station plays some Fleetwood Mac, you’ll cut loose too,” Mulder deadpanned.

She rolled her eyes. “What’s wrong with Fleetwood Mac? They’re geniuses.”

Scully had never been to Yankee Stadium before, and Mulder loved playing tour guide. They spent the afternoon watching the game, complete with Mulder’s commentary, eating hot dogs and sharing popcorn, and drinking cold beer. Mulder thoroughly enjoyed seeing the almost constant smile on Scully’s face.

At the bottom of the eighth inning, Scully started yawning.

“Getting tired?” Mulder asked.

“Mm-hmm,” Scully answered, and then stifled another yawn.

She then snaked her right arm underneath Mulder’s left, crooking her elbow against his, and laying her hand on his forearm, then leaning her head against his shoulder. Mulder smiled. As Scully dozed, she absentmindedly started to softly brush the tips of her fingers up and down his arm. Mulder closed his eyes. His heart swelled, and that long-forgotten hopeful feeling returned. In that moment, Mulder wished he could do nothing more than spend the rest of his life making Scully happy.

Late on Wednesday afternoon, July 28th, Scully called Mulder to tell him that she’d been asked to go to Arkansas to assist the Little Rock Bureau with a murder case that had potential satanic cultist overtones, and she’d be leaving that evening. Mulder didn’t like the idea of Scully flying to the other side of the country without him, but he didn’t say anything. He knew she was desperate to get out of the basement.

The following day, Scully had called Mulder crying. Performing the autopsies on those children had taken a serious emotional toll on her, as it would’ve done to anyone. Mulder was glad that she called him, and that he was able to provide some comfort and a listening ear. Scully was always so independent; not allowing him to see her cry, not sharing her fears, not wanting Mulder to feel like he needed to protect her; her vulnerabilities always hidden underneath the surface. Until recently, anyways. Mulder felt relieved when Scully called him on Friday to tell him she was flying home to D.C.

*****

Scully spent the weekend in Baltimore babysitting for Charlie and Jennifer, so Mulder didn’t hear from her until Monday morning after she’d arrived at work. There was a voicemail for him that had been left on Saturday afternoon. It was someone named Paul Solometo of the Mutual UFO Network asking Mulder to give him a call when he gets a chance. He left a phone number with a 919 area code: Raleigh-Durham. Scully had assumed it was one of his usual sources, and Mulder didn’t correct her. She asked what Mulder thought it was in reference to, but he told her he had no idea. Scully then told him she’d be in and out of the office this week because one of the pathologists at Quantico had asked her to take over some duties while he took his family on vacation.

Mulder then drove to the Lone Gunmen’s office, where they called Solometo. He said that there was something he’d forgotten about and thought he’d call Mulder to tell to him about it, in case it was useful. After the pregnancies failed for the third time, an FBI Agent (“a woman, tall and brunette”) came into town to investigate and spoke to the women about their infertility treatment. The Lombard Center then unexpectedly closed down just a few days later and the doctors all left their homes in Raleigh. They hadn’t been seen or heard from since. All the MUFON women were soon after plagued with the recurrence of cancerous brain tumors.

Mulder and the Lone Gunmen sat in silence. There had been no other reports from MUFON groups in other areas of the country of astonishing pregnancies experienced by barren members. The Raleigh chapter had been the only one. There were also no reports of other Lombard facilities popping up anywhere. Mulder had no idea where to go from here.

“Maybe we should call Agent Scully,” Frohike suggested. “She might know what do to.”

“She’s at Quantico,” Mulder replied, rather brusquely. “I don’t want to bother her.”

“But Scully could really help,” Langly added. “She could investigate using official channels, maybe find out what else Diana was up to while working for the FBI.”

“For the last time, Scully has enough on her plate working the X-Files by herself,” Mulder firmly replied. No way was he ever going to mention Diana to her again. “She doesn’t have time to be running around with us.”

“Doesn’t she have a theory?” Langly continued. “Some idea that might be helpful? She’s got to have some kind of opinion about it.”

Mulder sighed. “If Scully had a theory or a suggestion, don’t you think I would’ve already tried it by now? She doesn’t know what to do any more than we do. In all likelihood, these experiments have stopped and they’ve covered up their tracks pretty good.”

He stood up and walked to the door, asking them to give him a call if anything else turns up. Frohike and Langly shook their heads, while Byers stared at Mulder’s back until the door closed. After he was outside, a voice called out to him.

“Mulder!”

He turned and saw Byers walking towards him. “Yeah?”

Byers hesitated nervously, but then appeared to steel himself. “Why haven’t you told Agent Scully about this?”

He blinked. “What do you mean?”

“You haven’t told Scully a single thing about we’ve been doing. She has no clue about these experiments on the MUFON women. You didn’t even tell her about Diana’s disc, did you? Why?”

Mulder swallowed. “I decided it was best to leave her out of it.”

“That doesn’t really answer my question.”

He sighed and shifted his feet.

“She’s gonna kill us when she finds out, Mulder!”

He thought it was kind of humorous that Byers actually looked scared. “Byers, calm down. Everything will be fine. I gotta go.”

Byers could only watch helplessly as Mulder started to walk away. Suddenly, Mulder turned around and shot an ominous stare at him.

“Oh, and Byers… Scully better not find out.”

*****

At 8:30 pm on Friday evening, August 6th, Mulder showed up at Scully’s apartment. He figured he was going against his better judgment, but decided to throw caution to the wind. She wasn’t at home. Where could she be this time of night? Oh well, he’d wait. He just had to see her. To go from being with Scully all day long almost every day, to only once a week at the most was making him miserable, on top of everything else that was making him miserable these days. It’s his own damn fault.

Mulder knew he had to make a decision about Scully. He felt stuck between a rock and a hard place, and it couldn’t go on much longer. It had to be all or nothing. But why? Why does there have to be a choice between pursuing the truth and being with Scully? Mulder had felt tormented by his dreams lately. Every night he’d see Scully on that beach, and he’d take Scully in his arms and fulfill his desires. Or at least he tried to. Every night the Cancer Man invaded his passion, pulling Scully away from him and touching the chip at the base of her neck. Scully would scream, and Mulder would wake up sweating and filled with anxiety. He thought it was a sign, a warning of some kind.

Mulder believed he could never have Scully the way that he truly wanted, not unless he gave up his quest. Otherwise, they’d never let him have her. Forget about what those closed-minded people at the FBI thought about them. He’d not only be jeopardizing her reputation, but her life. Mulder was still searching for answers, for his sister. He’d chosen Scully over his quest, and over his sister, before. Was he ready to walk away from it completely, so that he could actually have a life with Scully? And who’s to say Scully even wants him that way. Sometimes he felt sure that she did, and other times he convinced himself that their bond was nothing more than friendship to Scully. But this couldn’t go on anymore. He had to talk to her about it, about their future. Scully wouldn’t take kindly to being pushed out of the X-Files, but he had to draw a line somewhere. It’d be for her own good, anyways.

These were the thoughts running through his mind as Mulder sat at Scully’s kitchen table, waiting for her to come home. Eventually the sun set and the apartment grew dark, but Mulder wasn’t motivated enough to get up and turn on the lights.

Then, just after 10:30 pm, he could hear Scully’s key in the door. He watched her walk inside, put her keys down, and take off her shoes. She had on a dark dress that stopped above her knees. She was humming. Where the fuck had she been all night?

Scully was startled when she saw him sitting there, and got kind of snippy when he asked her where she’d been. But Mulder could tell she wasn’t that angry. Now she was asking him if he wanted ice cream. Had she been drinking? Wait… did she just say she’d been out on a date?

He watched Scully as she closed the freezer door and set the ice cream at the opposite end of the table from Mulder. He watched her as she walked to one of the cupboards and opened the door. Mulder thought about offering to help but he was rooted in his seat, staring at her.

She was talking about Kresge, but he found it hard to concentrate on what she was saying. She had on a backless blue dress, and he watched her upper back stretch as she reached for two bowls. His gaze followed her move across her sink and open a drawer to pull out spoons. She came back to the table and started dishing up the ice cream, and Mulder watched the muscles in her right arm contract and extend. Now she was talking about Emily. Was there anything terrible that hasn’t happened to Scully?

Scully walked towards his end of the table carrying the bowls of ice cream, and sat down kitty-cornered from him. As he ate his ice cream, all the things he’d planned on saying to Scully escaped him, and so he let her lead the conversation. Maybe now wasn’t the right time.

Mulder couldn’t believe that Bill Jr would ask a random acquaintance of Scully’s, someone she hadn’t seen since Christmas ’97 and under dire circumstances, to take her out on a date to try and lure her away from him. But on second thought, he could totally believe it. Bill Jr was an ass. And did Scully just say she had a nice time anyways?

To Mulder’s chagrin, apparently having a pizza and movie night and going to Yankee stadium didn’t count as taking Scully out somewhere. Sure, maybe to Scully spending the day at a baseball game might not compare to dinner in a fancy restaurant, but that had arguably been one of the best days he’d had all year. Whatever. What the fuck did she just say? Did she just mention Jerse? Goddammit.

Mulder didn’t like the way this conversation was going. What made her think that spending the night with a complete stranger she met at a tattoo parlor in a shitty neighborhood was a good fucking idea? Was she angry with him about something? It had to be more than just not having a goddamned desk. “Not everything is about you, Mulder. It’s my life.” Yeah, well guess what? Her life was now his life. What happens to her is his business.

He was glad she never did anything so stupid again, but he didn’t want to talk about Jerse right now. Or ever. “Kresge,” Mulder replied to her question.

“He asked me if I had dinner plans, and I answered honestly. I couldn’t really think of a legitimate reason to refuse his offer,” Scully said.

Mulder stared at his spoon. No reason to refuse going on a date with some other guy, huh? Well, that settles that, then.

He still had one more week of medical leave, but, in light of recent events, he felt it was high time that he went back to work. As Mulder walked through his apartment door, not long after midnight, he decided to call Skinner in the morning.

Chapter Text

Over the weekend, following that miserable Friday night spent in her kitchen with a brooding Mulder, Scully hadn’t heard anything from him. There was a marked coolness in the way Mulder said goodbye to her when he left, that gave her an unexplainable sense of dread. Scully could count on one hand the number of times Mulder had been legitimately angry with her over the past six years, and the feeling turned her stomach. Every time she went to pick up the phone to call him, she changed her mind. She had no idea what she’d say. Scully thought about apologizing, but she didn’t think she had anything to apologize for.

On Monday morning, August 9th, Scully made her way through the employee entrance at FBI headquarters and stepped onto the elevator. Also getting on the elevator was another female agent, who warmly greeted Scully.

“Hi Dana! How’re you?”

“Oh, hi Natalie. How are you doing?”

“Good. You goin’ to the Team Building Seminar this weekend?”

“Is that this weekend?” Scully couldn’t remember whether she’d heard anything about this or not.

“Yeah. They’re having the conference in Philadelphia this year,” Natalie replied. “It’s this Saturday. Should be fun. Are you and Agent Mulder going?”

“Um… no, not this year. Mulder is still on medical leave, so we’re going to end up missing it.” He would certainly be thrilled at having escaped the teamwork seminar yet again.

Natalie looked slightly disappointed. “That’s too bad.”

The elevator stopped on the third floor, and Natalie started to make her way out. “Well, hopefully I’ll see you around, Dana. We should have lunch sometime. Oh, and tell Agent Mulder I said hello.” Natalie smiled and the doors closed.

Scully got off the elevator on the fourth floor and made her way to Skinner’s office. Scully was greeted by his secretary, saying “It must be good to have Agent Mulder back, huh?” as she opened Skinner’s door for her. Scully gave her a puzzled look before turning and seeing Mulder, wearing his charcoal suit, sitting in a chair in front of Skinner’s desk. She stopped and stared at him.

“Thanks for coming, Agent Scully,” Skinner said as he got up from his desk. “Take a seat.”

Mulder didn’t say a word, and hadn’t even looked at her from the moment she arrived. Scully sat down in the chair next to him.

“For starters,” Skinner began. “Good work in Arkansas, Agent Scully. The forensics you pulled from the victims’ bodies led them to make an arrest. The Little Rock Field Office is very appreciative.”

“I’m glad I was able to help, sir,” Scully replied, still confused about Mulder’s presence in the office.

“Secondly, Agent Mulder,” Skinner continued. “I honestly would’ve been shocked had you rode out your entire medical leave. I was actually expecting your request to return to work weeks ago.”

“I found ways to keep myself busy,” Mulder replied.

“Now, the real reason we’re here…” said Skinner, as he held up a piece of paper. “Is your request to go to Africa, to the site where Agent Scully made her… discovery.”

Scully quickly turned her head and stared at Mulder. This was news to her. Mulder swallowed, but continued to look resolutely at Skinner.

“What do you have to say about this?” Skinner asked her.

“Uh… I don’t know, sir,” Scully hesitated. “The chances are more than likely that the craft isn’t even there anymore.”

“Well, regardless, Agent Mulder’s request has been denied.”

“Why?” Mulder asked heatedly.

“I hate to break it to you, Mulder,” replied Skinner, with an exasperated look. “But the Ivory Coast in West Africa isn’t under FBI jurisdiction.”

“But Agent Scully went there,” Mulder insisted, but still not looking at her. Scully felt like he was talking about her like she wasn’t in the room.

“Yes, she did,” Skinner said, glaring at Scully. “Unofficially, and without permission.”

“To save Agent Mulder’s life, sir.” She was not about to apologize for this. Scully watched Mulder’s mouth twitch slightly but he said nothing.

“I’m not trying to invalidate your actions, Agent Scully,” Skinner replied in a softer tone. “You did what you felt you had to do. But Agent Mulder is requesting to go to Africa as an official X-Files investigation, which is something the Bureau cannot allow.”

Scully sighed. She wished Mulder had talked to her about this. She wished he would’ve told her he was coming back to work. She wished Mulder would at least look at her.

“Is that the final decision?” Mulder asked tersely.

“As far as you’re concerned, yes,” Skinner answered. “You may go now, agents.”

Mulder and Scully made their way to the basement office in silence. Mulder unlocked the door, and went to sit at his desk. Scully followed him inside, pulled up a chair, and sat facing him with arms crossed. She had no idea what to say. She wanted to rail against him for continuing to keep things from her, for leaving her out. But Scully had already had a miserable weekend, and she just wanted things to go back to normal.

“So when were you going to tell me about Africa?” she asked him, making sure her tone wasn’t argumentative or accusatory. “Why didn’t you tell me you were coming back to work, for that matter?”

“I wanted to surprise you,” Mulder replied evasively.

“Well, it worked.” She arched her eyebrow.

“Scully, there are still answers to be found,” he said. “That spaceship can’t be the only one. There must be more out there to find. Sometimes I feel like we’re not getting anywhere.”

“Mulder, that craft we found…,” she began.

You found, Scully,” he corrected her, staring down at the desk. She could sense he felt disappointed.

She pursed her lips and sighed. “There is no ‘me’ in the X-Files, Mulder. It’s ‘us.’ Anything I may accomplish individually counts as your success too.”

At that, Mulder looked up and stared into her eyes as if he was just seeing her for the first time. He thought that there wasn’t anyone on the planet less selfish than her.

“Scully? Are you going to see Kresge again?”

“No, Mulder. I’m not.”

*****

Over the course of the week, Scully and Mulder managed to keep themselves busy at work. One of Mulder’s sources had sent him an email with a newspaper article about a teenage girl reportedly taken from her home under strange circumstances involving “bright lights,” “doors shaking,” and “a mysterious figure” entering the house. Mulder and Scully then drove to Lewistown, Pennsylvania to investigate, only to find that the “strange circumstances” of her abduction that had been recounted by her brother were brought on by hallucinations caused by drug use. In actuality, the girl was found in a town about 70 miles away staying in a motel room with her boyfriend.

Mulder had also found a way to submit a claim of “mental health reasons” as a way to get out of the seminar in Philadelphia that weekend.

“Mulder, in the six years we’ve been partners, we haven’t gone to one single teamwork conference,” she pointed out.

“Why should we have to, Scully? Other agents could spend 75 years at the Bureau and never even come close to seeing or doing the things we’ve done together. I don’t see how spending an entire Saturday in a hotel conference room listening to lectures about ‘going the extra mile,’ and having you direct me to find an item in the room while blindfolded is going to serve any useful purpose. But if you really want to try some teamwork activities with me, Scully, that blindfold might be fun.” Mulder waggled his eyebrows.

She rolled her eyes and shook her head. Scully thought that building up some teamwork skills might not be a bad idea.

At 4:00 pm on Friday, August 13th, Mulder and Scully made their way to Skinner’s office to go over their report on the Lewistown, PA case. As they sat in front of Skinner’s desk, he appeared to be disturbed by something.

“Good work in Lewistown,” Skinner began. “Your report appears thorough.”

Mulder nodded. Scully pursed her lips. It seemed to them that Skinner looked uncomfortable. A moment later, his secretary Kimberly announced through the intercom that Deputy Director Cassidy was on the line. Skinner sighed and appeared to brace himself. He then put Cassidy on speaker phone.

“Hello, Deputy Director. I have Agents Mulder and Scully in my office.”

“Thank you, Walter. Agent Mulder, if you recall, I received a request form from you yesterday morning concerning your desire to investigate an alien UFO crash site in Africa, which I promptly and assiduously denied. I believe AD Skinner had already informed you that this kind of investigation would not be backed by the Bureau. And now I find out that not only did you once again go over your direct superior’s head, but over mine as well, and sent your ridiculous request this morning to the Director himself.”

Scully turned a shocked and incredulous face on Mulder. He met her eyes, confirming what the Deputy Director just said.

“Did you know anything about this, Agent Scully?” demanded Cassidy.

She looked at Mulder, who gave a slight nod of his head to direct her to answer honestly. “No sir, I did not.”

“Agent Scully, was not the purpose of sending you down to that godforsaken office in the basement was so that this kind of nonsense would be controlled? How is it that you have no idea of what your partner is doing?”

“Agent Mulder chose not to share this with me, sir.” Scully eyed him pointedly.

“Oh, I see. Well then, what do we do about that? I see here that you two have been partnered since 1993 and not once have you attended a single Team Building Seminar. In fact, Agent Mulder, earlier this week you submitted a claim of ‘mental health reasons’ stemming from your hospital stay earlier this year to the Training Division so that you didn’t have to attend the conference in Philadelphia. You must be having mental health problems if you thought sending that absurd request to the Director was a good idea.”

He sighed.

“Seeing as how it is late on Friday afternoon, the spots for the conference tomorrow are all filled up. However, fortunately for you, there is a vacancy elsewhere.”

Mulder shot an uneasy glance at Scully.

“A few of the field offices out in the mid-west have put together a three-day Team Building Retreat to be held in Colorado next weekend. You and Agent Scully will be going. You both seem to be in need of more effective teamwork and communication. AD Skinner will inform you of your travel arrangements. That is all.”

Deputy Director Cassidy hung up the phone. Skinner sighed. Mulder stared at the ceiling. Scully felt nervous, and excited.

*****

On Thursday evening, August 19th, Mulder and Scully arrived in Colorado Springs. After checking into a motel, Mulder put his bags down and sat on the end of his bed. Scully was just on the other side of the door to their adjoining rooms. He pondered about going over and seeing what she was up to, but then decided against it. The urges he was feeling at the moment could make a trip to Scully’s hotel room disastrous.

Mulder felt more conflicted than ever. One moment, he wanted to tell Scully it was best she left the X-Files and pursued her medical career. The next moment, the thought of her moving on without him sent him reeling with deep feelings of misery. How could he work with her all the time and still maintain a safe distance? How could he take what he wanted from her without endangering their partnership, or her life? He turned on the television and flipped through the channels. Nothing interested him, but the urges he was feeling were now overwhelmingly powerful and he needed release.

Mulder walked into the bathroom and turned on the shower, making sure the water was as hot as possible without burning him. Steam filled the room while he removed his t-shirt and unbuckled his pants. After removing his socks and boxer briefs, he stepped into the shower, letting out a sigh of relief as the hot water ran over his hard member.

Mulder placed his left forearm against the wall underneath the showerhead and leaned forward, then wrapped his right hand around his cock, giving a slow stroke. “God, Scully…”, he panted, and grew harder. He closed his eyes. His imagination took him from the shower back out to his room where he’d just been sitting on the end of the motel bed, but this time Scully had come through the door.

She was kneeling in front of him, and undoing his jeans, sliding them down his legs along with his briefs. He shifted, spreading his legs apart. Scully then lowered her head down, running her tongue up and down Mulder’s hard shaft.

His own fingertips were gently stroking up and down, twisting over the head of his cock as the hot water ran over his shoulders. A low groan issued from his throat.

Scully now wrapped her left hand around his balls, with her right hand pulling more and more of him into her mouth.

“Fuck, yes…”, Mulder hissed in the shower, and stroked faster. His loud moans echoed in the shower walls.

Scully was moving her hand up and down at a quick pace, while her tongue swirled over the head of his cock. She was moaning and her eyes were on his.

A low, desperate sound escaped Mulder’s throat. He squeezed his eyes shut so that he was seeing stars. He was now pumping faster, sensing his imminent release. His legs shook, and he cried out “Fuck, Scully!” as his climax spilled over the shower wall. He stood there panting, gently stroking his softening member as he came down off his high, mumbling Scully's name, and leaning his entire body weight forward against the wall. The hot water washed him clean.

After drying off, Mulder pulled on a pair of Knicks gym shorts and a fresh white t-shirt. There was a knock on the door separating his room from Scully’s.

“Mulder? Are you decent?” Scully asked through the door. “I was going to order something for dinner. Do you want to eat together?”

He sighed. Thank goodness for that shower, or he’d have to refuse. “Sure, Scully. Be right over.”

*****

At 8:00 am on Friday morning, Mulder and Scully left for the River Dance Wilderness Lodge just outside the Colorado Springs city limits. The conference room was filled with 10 other FBI partnerships, from several different states, all seated at circular tables. When the clock struck 9:00 am exactly, two middle-aged men dressed in camouflage stood up at the front, introducing themselves to the room.

“My name is Bob Miller and this is Randy Avery. We’re the co-founders of Team Builders Ex. As former TOP GUN graduates, our extensive leadership experience as military professionals will make this team building workshop something you’ll never forget.”

Mulder leaned towards Scully, whispering “Kill me now.” She smirked.

Randy started to address the group. “As you can see, we asked you all to come in casual gear, and not your usual business attire. If you thought this was going to be just some seminar where we all sit in a stale hotel conference room all day building towers of furniture and doing trust falls, think again. We are here to turn two individuals into one insular unit of confidence, strength, and communication.”

“And we do that,” added Bob. “By throwing you into a real-life scenario and forcing you to work together to survive.”

Mulder and Scully exchanged apprehensive looks. They then sat through an hour-long keynote address covering the necessary skills required for effective teamwork, better communication, problem solving and decision making, and, finally, dealing with team conflict.

“Now let’s head out,” concluded Randy enthusiastically. Scully threw an uncomfortable look at Mulder, who was staring at the ceiling and shaking his head.

Everyone piled into several jeeps that were waiting outside, and departed the Lodge. As the trail of vehicles pulled off the highway, Scully noticed a sign that read “Golden Gate Pointe State Park” with “70,000 acres" in smaller print underneath. She wondered what was in store.

The jeeps arrived at a parking area, where there already was a large tent set up and filled with several picnic tables with backpacks placed upon them. There also was two women with clipboards, dressed in army fatigues. The group made their way over to the tent, and then was addressed by Bob and Randy.

“Now, seeing as this is a Wilderness Retreat, you’ll all be heading into the wilderness of the state park,” said Bob. “Each pair will receive a GPS unit and a map, and each person will receive a backpack already filled with anything you could possibly need. If you end up needing something else, then you’re not working together properly.”

“It is absolutely vital that each person here sticks with his or her own partner,” added Randy. “No separating. No joining other groups. There are only three hiking trails, out of many others, that will take you directly to the reservoir clear on the opposite side of the park. All three trails take more than 36 hours to hike when going at a pace of 20 miles per day, and stopping at night. We don’t expect all of you to go at that pace, but we expect all of you to reach the reservoir by midnight on Saturday.”

“This area may be a state park, but it is wild,” added Bob. “The terrain can be rough. You’ll have hot days, like today, but at night it could drop to the 50’s and you’ll feel real cold. You might walk faster or comprehend the map better than your partner. You may get frustrated with one another. The point is work through frustrations and conflict; to work on problem solving using patience, trust, and communication.”

Randy continued. “Each pair will be assigned a different trail, and this is the trail you must stick to. I don’t advise leaving the trail. The first three teams to make it to the reservoir get a trophy and bragging rights. And hopefully all of you will acquire more effective teamwork and a new sense of appreciation for your partner.”

The teams all lined up at the tent with the women holding clipboards. The women called out names, and then handed out the respective backpack and trail assignment. Bob and Randy stood to the right of the tent, overseeing the process and answering any questions.

“Fox Mulder and Dana Scully!” called out one of the women, with her shiny black hair fastened tight into a ponytail.

As Mulder and Scully approached, and were handed their backpacks and GPS unit, Bob and Randy walked over. “Agents Scully and Mulder? From FBI headquarters in D.C.?” asked Randy.

“Yeah, that’s us,” replied Mulder.

Bob and Randy glanced at one another. “We got a special phone call about you two. We don’t usually get agents from the east coast,” said Bob.

“We actually have a special directive for the two of you,” Randy continued. “Seems as though your Deputy Director wanted to make sure we make this experience extra-special for you.”

Scully blinked. Mulder groaned internally.

“It’s not so bad,” Bob laughed. “ As something special, we’re not going to assign you a trail. We’re gonna let you pick any trail you want. In the whole park. We only ask that you wait behind here about an hour, so that the others can get to their assigned paths unnoticed.”

Bob and Randy walked away to lead the group to their designated hiking trails. Mulder and Scully stared after them, and then resignedly sat down at a picnic table inside the tent.

“Just think, Scully,” Mulder said. “We could’ve just had to waste one boring Saturday sitting in a Philadelphia hotel. Now we get to spend an entire weekend getting lost in a forest.”

“I have no intention of getting lost, Mulder.”

“Do you think, if we did, that they’d even come looking for us?”

“I think the Deputy Director is hoping they won’t,” Scully quipped.

After waiting an hour, Bob returned to the tent and told Mulder and Scully they were now free to make their way to the reservoir. He then turned and got into a jeep with Randy and the two women. Mulder and Scully watched them drive off. Scully checked her watch, it was just past noon. She then returned her focus to the map of the state park.

“Hey Mulder, have you ever been canoeing?” asked Scully.

“A couple times when I was younger,” replied Mulder. “My dad and I were Indian Scouts, remember.”

“There are three canoe trails on the map,” Scully continued, pointing out the spot on the map. “The blue trail will move us far ahead of the hiking trails by the end of the day, by many miles. Then we can canoe the blue trail until it meets at a three-way fork with the red and orange canoe trails. It looks like there is a campsite here where we can stop for the night, and get some sleep. Hiking trail C goes right by this spot, and from there it’s only 10 miles on foot to the reservoir. We could get there well ahead of the others.”

“Well, then let’s go, G-woman.”

Mulder and Scully walked in the opposite direction from where they’d watched Bob and Randy lead the rest of the group. They came upon a dock, with upside-down canoes lying on the grass next to it. The state park attendant, who looked no older than 25, stationed at the dock verified that they were with the Team Building Ex group, and let them choose a canoe.

“Good luck,” the young man said. “I’ve never seen nobody from your group canoe before. You sure you know what you’re doing?”

“I think we can manage it,” replied Mulder, as he and Scully each put on a yellow life vest.

Scully pulled out a hat and sunglasses from her backpack. “I guess they really did pack everything you’d need.”

Mulder and Scully flipped over a large green canoe, placing the paddles and their backpacks inside, and carried it to the water’s edge. Once the front end of the canoe hit the shallow water, Mulder held it steady while Scully climbed in and sat down in the front seat. Mulder pushed the canoe a few more paces, and then hopped in the back. They then pushed the canoe out of the shallow water with their paddles.

After canoeing for two hours, they came to a lake. The blue canoe trail picked up again on the other side, so Mulder and Scully started to make their way across. Scully felt completely at peace. The sun was shining, the water was calm, and there was lush greenery everywhere around them.

“Isn’t this beautiful, Mulder?” she asked. Scully was grateful that she was able to experience this with him, when not so long ago she was stricken with the fear that she’d never see him again.

“Mm-hmm,” Mulder agreed, and then paused. “Scully? Do you ever think about quitting the FBI?”

She didn’t exactly know how to answer. “Of course, Mulder. I think everyone imagines quitting their job, or any number of scenarios that would make their life different from what it is. Do you think about quitting the FBI?”

Silence. “I’ve been thinking about it lately. Scully, they’re never going to allow me to go to Africa, if the spaceship is even there. But maybe we should just go anyways. Or there’s got to be another ship somewhere. The FBI is just stifling my efforts in finding one. And the Cancer Man and whoever works for him, maybe they’re behind it. It’s hopeless to think we’ll ever be able to prosecute them. How is that justice? I don’t want to sit around and wait for whispers or unsubstantiated reports. Maybe we could quit the FBI. Go off on our own. Find a ship, track those bastards down.”

Hearing Mulder say all this made Scully nervous. He couldn’t possibly mean it. “Quit the FBI, Mulder? Seriously? Go outside the law? Go rogue? Like Alex Krycek.”

“Come on, Scully. We’re the good guys.”

“Mulder, we’d lose our access, our protection. What justice could we possible achieve that isn’t morally abhorrent? The moment we start acting outside the law, our ‘good guy’ status becomes null and void.”

Mulder didn’t protest, and continued to paddle in silence.

“You know I’m right. Mulder, I know you’re frustrated. It does seem like we’re at a stand-still. We haven’t been able to really move forward since your illness. In many ways.” Scully sighed. Would they ever?

Mulder stared intently at the back of Scully’s head. After about 40 minutes, they had made their way to the opposite end of the lake and found the large blue sticker posted on a tree near the mouth of a water trail. They continued for several more hours, stopping a couple times by pulling up onto the bank, and snacking on trail mix that was found in their backpacks (“Those guys must think they’re really clever,” Mulder deadpanned) or finding a private area to relieve themselves.

They reached the fork where the blue, red, and orange canoe trails converged just as the sun began to set. About 15 yards from the bank of the water trail, they spotted a campsite clearing with a picnic table and fire pit. Mulder and Scully pulled their canoe up onto the bank, and walked to the campsite.

After setting their backpacks down, Scully removed her hat and sunglasses, setting them on the picnic table, and watched Mulder unpack his bag. Mulder unpacked a tent, sleeping bag, air pump with batteries, folding chair, axe, rope, repair kit, 2 toothbrushes, sunscreen, water jug, and hot dogs. Mulder gave her a confused look. Scully grabbed her backpack, and began removing items. Scully unpacked stakes, poles, sleeping bag, air mattress, hammer, folding chair, first aid kit, matches, toothpaste, another hat and pair of sunglasses, water jug, and marshmallows.

“Wow, they weren’t kidding when they said partners had to stick together,” Scully said, grinning at Mulder. He chuckled in reply.

Mulder and Scully silently worked together to quickly set up their tent before it got too dark to see what they were doing. They then gathered up some firewood, and within 30 minutes had a crackling, hot fire going. They sat in their folding chairs a safe distance from the fire, and roasted hot dogs and marshmallows over the flames.

“This isn’t so bad, is it, Mulder?” Scully asked. She felt perfectly happy sitting there by the fire with him. But she wanted to reach out and hold his hand, and wished that things could finally be different between them.

He smiled. “Not bad at all.”

*****

Once the fire died out, they headed into the tent and slipped into their sleeping bags that were lying on top of the queen-sized air mattress. The temperature had steadily dropped to a chilly 51 degrees, something they hadn’t noticed too much while sitting by the fire. But now they were in their tent, and soon Scully was shivering.

“Scully?” Mulder whispered, as he turned to lie on his right side.

“Hmm?”

“Your teeth are chattering.”

“Sorry, Mulder,” she replied, still chattering.

He sighed. He unzipped his sleeping bag, then reached over towards her and unzipped her bag. “Get over here, Scully.”

Mulder wrapped his right arm around her torso and pulled her towards him, as she scooched over and into his sleeping bag. Scully found herself snuggling against him, breathing in his scent, with her arms folded up against her chest, as he zipped up his bag. She gave a huge sigh of relief at the warmth inside. She then slid herself up a bit, lying on her left side, so that she could be face to face with Mulder.

“Thank you,” she whispered.

“Hey, that’s what team building is all about,” he smirked, looking into her face.

Scully chuckled.

“Mulder?” she whispered. “Do you really want to quit the FBI?”

“I don’t know what I want, Scully.”

She didn’t know what to say to that, and bent her head down so that she was staring at his chest. She wondered if she should broach the subject of their relationship, if now was the right time, but she found there was something else she needed to talk about. A sense that Mulder was creating distance between them had been gnawing at her. He was so secretive lately. What if he really was going to leave the FBI? Is that what he’d been working on since the 4th of July, what he wouldn’t tell her about? Would he leave her behind? The very idea terrified her.

She raised her face to meet his eyes. Mulder could see that she had taken on a pleading look.

“What is it, Scully?”

She hesitated. “Mulder, what have you been doing all summer? What are you hiding from me?”

He sighed and closed his eyes. “Scully…”

“Mulder, tell me. Please. Don’t leave me out. Don’t go where I can’t follow you.”

He then looked into Scully’s face, and their eyes met. In that moment, a memory of Scully crying beside his hospital bed swam in front of his eyes. Mulder could hear her voice speaking to him, telling him to hold on because of what she’d found; the key she’d found to all the questions they’d ever asked; a puzzle for them to put together. But this memory contained another voice, also Scully’s, fainter and in the background but clear as day. This voice was telling him to hold on because she couldn’t live without him. “Don’t leave me all alone. Don’t go somewhere I can’t follow.” How could he have forgotten that he heard Scully’s thoughts that night?

And Mulder knew, in that moment, that Scully was irrevocably attached to him for the rest of his days. He also knew that she loved him, a love that ran so deep he couldn’t even begin to fathom its depths. But as he looked into her eyes, he was also instantly filled with a sense of despair that he’d never again know the thoughts behind them.

“I’ve been working with the Lone Gunmen,” Mulder finally said. “When we get back to D.C., we’ll go and see them. Everything will be explained. I promise.”

Scully smiled, and then closed her eyes. She snuggled up closer to him, until she laid her head in the crook where his neck met his shoulder. Mulder tucked a strand of her hair away from her face and behind her ear. Soon Scully’s slow, steady breathing meant she was asleep. And as Mulder himself drifted off to sleep, he was comforted to know that, despite the prospect of never again knowing Scully’s mind, she would always surprise him with an unexpected idea, opinion, or emotion. She would always keep him guessing, and maybe that was better.

Chapter Text

Scully was running down a hallway and trying to open doors, but they were all locked. She could hear Mulder’s voice ahead. He was behind one of these doors; she just had to find the right one. Finally a door opened and there was Mulder. Suddenly they were in her bed and he was lying on top of her, but she couldn’t remember how this happened. She could feel her clit aching. She heard a knocking sound, and everything was starting to fade. No, no, no. Just a little longer. Mulder’s face was above hers. He was stroking her throbbing clit. She hadn’t felt this good in so long. She was going to come, she was so close. But she was slipping away…

Scully opened her eyes. Dammit. It was still somewhat dark, and the sun was going to rise soon. She could hear a woodpecker in a nearby tree. That was such a good dream, but now she couldn’t remember the details. It was fading from her memory as quickly as sand falling through her fingers. But the tingling sensation remained and she was squirming. There was a warm body behind her, and Mulder’s left arm was holding her tight to him. She suddenly remembered where she was, and why she was there; in a tent, deep in the forest of a Colorado state park, on an FBI teamwork retreat.

She looked at her watch; it was 5:28 am. Mulder was still sleeping. Quietly, and trying to make as little disruptive movement as possible, she loosened his grip on her, turning her body so she was lying on her other side, and looked at him. He looked so peaceful. She wondered if he was dreaming, and if those dreams were happy ones. She hoped they were. Scully started to trace his forehead with the tip of her right forefinger, tracing his eyebrows and his nose, softly brushing his cheek with the backside of her fingers, before tracing his lips.

Her fingers softly traveled down his neck and to his collar bone sticking out from under his navy blue long-sleeved shirt. A fleeting notion of going further down his body entered her mind. STOP, Dana. Scully pulled her hand away, and pushed those feelings back. Although she had done her best to ignore and suppress her love for Mulder, now which she could do no longer, any sexual feelings for him had been buried even deeper. He meant everything to her, and to think of him in a sexual context had always seemed too much of a risk. She had forced herself to never think of him that way, out of fear; fear of loss, fear of rejection, fear of change; fear of their partnership being ruined if things didn’t work out, fear of the possibilities if things did.

Mulder opened his eyes. He looked at Scully, blinking himself awake.

“Good morning,” she spoke softly. “Did you sleep well?”

He sighed. “It was the best sleep I’ve had since I can remember… until that damn woodpecker. Where’s my gun, Scully?”

She smirked. “It’s on the floor of the tent next to the mattress, where you put it.”

“I’m gonna shoot that fucking bird.”

“Come on, Mulder. We’ve got to break camp.”

“Scully, no. Let’s stay here all day.” He closed his eyes and pulled her tighter to him.

“No, don’t go back to sleep. We can’t stay here all day because then we won’t be the first ones at the reservoir.”

“Ugh, Scully. Who cares? This whole thing is ridiculous.”

She felt slightly disappointed, and didn’t respond. The prolonged silence caused Mulder to open his eyes again and look at her.

“I didn’t mean being here with you, Scully,” he said kindly. “I mean the whole purpose of this thing. How is hiking and camping supposed to make the two of us work better together?"

“Technically, this kind of retreat isn’t for partners who have been together for as long as we have,” Scully replied. “Everyone else in the group has only been partnered for a year at the most. This isn’t designed for people who know each other as well as we do. But that doesn’t mean this trip hasn’t been beneficial. You finally communicated with me, didn’t you?”

He pursed his lips, and snorted.

She smiled and leaned her face closer to his. Mulder’s features softened. She then lightly brushed the tip of her nose against his. “Come on, let’s get going.”

“But who cares about a trophy, Scully?” he groaned in resistance. “I say we should be the last ones there. Let’s just stay here and enjoy ourselves.”

“Mulder, we have to get to the reservoir before everyone else does,” she said firmly, pulling herself free of his hold, and turned around to unzip the sleeping bag.

“Scully, where is this sudden competitive streak coming from? I’ve never seen this side to you.”

“Beating everyone else is not really what interests me,” she said as she got off the mattress and unzipped the tent. “I just want you to give the first place trophy to the Deputy Director.”

She turned a knowing look on Mulder. He grinned, and then started to move off the mattress to follow her out of the tent.

*****

At 6:16 am the sun had risen, and by 6:30 Mulder and Scully had packed up their camp and made their way to the Hiking Trail C marker just 20 yards north of the campsite. It was 10 miles to the reservoir, which normally would only have taken them just over three hours to hike, but the weather was a warm 84 degrees and the trail contained numerous steep inclines and descents. The trek wasn’t easy, but on occasion they’d come to a meadow awash in wildflowers or a waterfall, which allowed them to take short breaks and refill their water jugs.

They walked at a steady pace, Mulder unwaveringly remaining three to five feet behind Scully. She was telling him stories from her family’s camping trips around Maryland when she was a kid, with Mulder also sharing a few childhood experiences from the YMCA Indian Guides program. He liked being out here with Scully; spending so much time alone with her while not working on a case, not searching for answers and suspects, not fearing for their lives. Just enjoying each other’s company. Maybe he could actually quit the FBI and have a real life.

But what about that spaceship? What about his sister? What about that chip in Scully’s neck? Could he really just walk away without ever learning the answers? But what if he’s always searching and never finding? Could he do this forever? Would Scully even want to? He had been kidding himself thinking he’d ever be able to do this without her. He could no sooner push her out of the X-Files than cut off his left arm. But what to do about her? He wanted her, but he knew he was capable of ignoring that and keeping the status quo between them. Even if it tormented him.

But what did Scully want? Mulder couldn’t picture her up and leaving him, maybe getting married and moving on with her life, even though that might actually be good for her. She’d sacrificed enough for him, and he knew he’d invariably be forcing her to live a lonely life by keeping her by his side. He knew, of course, that it was Scully’s life and she made her own choices. But Scully was loyal and maybe even felt obligated to remain with him no matter what. She’d never abandon him, even if common sense told her she should.

Mulder supposed there was no harm in maintaining their friendship the way it was. He may not be able to have all of her, but he could still keep her in his life. When she brushed her nose against his, he wanted so badly to take her face in his hands and kiss her. Roll her over right there and make love to her in that tent. They had slept next to each other all night, sharing a sleeping bag, but no line had been crossed. No personal space invaded too much. The boundaries between them were clearly defined. Yet there was such intimacy between them, Mulder could feel it in the air.

They were together, but apart; close, but maintaining a constant distance. If they were to bridge that distance, if their dynamic shifted so that they were together in every sense, would it make things better? Or worse? Would he gain so much more? Or would it eventually come between them? Would he lose her? That would be unendurable. Just the thought filled him with dismay.

*****

At 12:48 pm Mulder and Scully, hot and sticky from the 10-mile hike, had reached Golden Creek Reservoir. No one else was there. The blue lake was sparkling and they could see Cheyenne Mountain in the distance. The cool breeze filled the air with a crisp, clean smell. There were several picnic tables scattered about, along with fire pits.

A table about 10 yards to the west contained a large wooden box. Next to it was a clipboard with a sign-in sheet. They set their backpacks down at the table. Mulder then wrote his and Scully’s names down on the first line while Scully opened the box. She pulled out a stapled packet with the top page being a piece of stationary with the Team Builders Ex logo. It looked like a letter, and she noticed Bob and Randy had signed the bottom. Scully handed the paper to Mulder, and continued to examine the box’s contents.

He started to read aloud. “Congratulations on making it to Golden Creek Reservoir. We hope that your experience hiking to this spot was a positive one. We are sure that you discovered the necessity of sticking with your partner as you worked together to survive in the wilderness. You undoubtedly now see the value of the many skills highlighted at the opening keynote address, especially effective communication and practical ways to deal with conflict. You no doubt have a newfound appreciation for all that your partner has to offer, and we hope that your partnership is more harmonious now than what it was before you started this journey together.”

Scully turned her head to face Mulder and their eyes met. He grinned at her and she smiled.

Mulder returned to the letter. “We also hope that your experience at the reservoir further builds upon this foundation as you learn to work together as partners while working within a larger group. This packet contains further directions.”

He then looked up at Scully. “What’s in the box?”

“Several fishing poles, bait and tackle, hunting knives, lighter fluid, frying pans, kettles, and charcoal. What do the directions say?”

Mulder flipped the page. “Upon arriving at the reservoir, you now commence the Rescue Mission section of the wilderness retreat. You must all work together for the whole group to survive until you are rescued. We will not be telling you when that is. It could be anytime Saturday night or even Sunday morning. We hope that you band together as a group, while still striving to work on communication and teamwork with your partners.”

Scully balked. “We’re gonna be stuck here until tomorrow? I wanted to be back at the motel tonight.”

He sighed. She shook her head in disbelief. He then returned to the directions.

“Rule #1: You must all remain together at the reservoir. No separating and going elsewhere. Rule #2: There must be one male agent AND one female agent awake at all times for security.”

Scully sat down in front of the box on the picnic table’s seat. “I was really hoping for a bath, Mulder. I feel disgusting.”

“Well, there’s no one around, Scully,” he replied. “And probably not for a long time. Take a swim in the lake.”

She gave Mulder an apprehensive look. Bathing in the lake and being happened upon by unsuspecting agents is not what she had in mind.

“Scully, no one will be here anytime soon. We’ve arrived hours ahead of everyone thanks to your discovery of the canoe trail on the map.”

She still felt unsure about it.

“Here’s what we’ll do,” Mulder sighed, putting the directions packet back down on the table. “I’ll go for a swim too. I’m sure I stink. We could both use a bath, and clean clothes.”

Scully felt better, at first. But as they walked towards the lake, her stomach filled with butterflies. When they arrived at the water’s edge, they stood in silence, hesitating. She turned her head to look at him and caught his eye. She felt very shy all of a sudden.

“Okay,” Scully said. “If you stay here, I’ll go around the bend just over there to the right so I can bathe and wash my clothes. We won’t be in each other’s sight, but we’ll still be able to hear one another if we need anything.”

Mulder nodded his head in agreement.

She made her way along the water’s edge as it curved to the right and then sharply turned inwards, creating something resembling a wall. She couldn’t see Mulder anymore, but she could hear him taking off his Timberland boots. She heard the unbuckling of his belt. This gave her a comforting feeling to know she wasn’t completely alone out there, especially since she would be undressing. Mulder was just a holler away if she was in trouble. Scully removed her jacket she had tied around her waist, then took off her boots, jeans, and shirt and set them in a pile on the grass. Scully then gave an apprehensive glance around her. No one could be seen, and the only thing she could hear was Mulder suddenly yelping as he went into the water.

“Is it really cold, Mulder?” Scully called out.

“It’s shocking at first, but now it’s not so bad,” he answered. “Thank goodness it’s a hot day.”

Scully removed her bra and underwear, and washed them in the lake water, scrubbing gently with a smooth pebble. She laid them up on the grass to dry next to the pile of her clothes. She then went into the lake, gasping as the cool water enveloped her. But she soon acclimated to the temperature and felt quite comfortable. It felt good to wash the sweat and grime off herself.

“Hey Scully!” Mulder yelled. “Did you know that there are amoebas that reside in lakes that will eat your brain?”

“You mean Naegleria fowleri?” she called back.

“Is that what they’re called? I wouldn’t advise putting your head under the water! I’m not gonna. I’ve had enough brain problems this year.”

“Mulder, this isn’t a warm lake. Don’t worry about it!”

Scully then lowered her head underneath the water, and used her fingers to scrub her scalp and comb through her hair. She began to swim. The water felt so good against her skin. She wondered what Mulder was doing. He had gone quiet. She swam over towards the sharp curve of the shore as noiselessly as possible so she could peak around the edge at him.

He was standing with his back to her, and the water was up to his waist. He was scrubbing his arms, chest, and face, then pouring water over the back of his shoulders. His upper back glistened in the sunshine. He really is beautiful, Scully thought. She wanted to go to him and tell him that she loved him. But Scully was then overcome by a deep sense of sadness, and she wasn’t exactly sure why. She suddenly felt hopeless, as if things between them would be forever at a stand-still. Things would never change.

*****

Scully got out of the water and walked up to her pile of clothes on the grass. Her bra and panties were dry enough. Her hair had gone curly, but there was nothing she could do about it. She got dressed and made her way back over to Mulder. They then returned to their backpacks, and decided to set up their tent near another picnic table and fire pit close by. Once the tent was set up, she inflated the air mattress and put it inside while he took the axe into the woods nearby to collect firewood.

After he returned with kindling and some bigger branches, and arranged them in the fire pit, he noticed Scully yawning.

“It’s been a long day,” he said to her, while checking his watch; it was 2:31 pm. “You hungry?”

“Yeah, I’m starving.”

He grabbed the lighter fluid from the box and the matches from their backpacks, and started a fire. He took out the remaining hot dogs and skewered them, laying them across the fire, and constantly turning them so they cooked evenly. She took their sleeping bags and laid them on top of each other on the grass a few feet from their designated campsite. She kicked off her boots and sat down with her back to the fire. He looked over at her, and saw her wavy red hair gleaming in the sunshine. After they sat on the sleeping bag together eating their hot dogs, she lay down and fell asleep. As Mulder watched Scully sleeping, he felt glad that they’d been sent on this team building retreat. Maybe it wasn’t so ridiculous after all.

Chapter Text

Over the course of the late afternoon and evening, the remaining FBI agents arrived at the reservoir, warmly greeting Mulder and Scully as they arrived. Most of them also appeared to be none too pleased with the idea of staying out there for another night. One by one, the partners chose a campsite to set up their tents. Everyone agreed upon making a bonfire, and several agents took the fishing poles out to the lake to catch dinner for the group.

Once the bonfire got going, and the agents who went fishing returned with an ample supply of rainbow trout and largemouth bass, the scene took on a real social atmosphere. It was now just after 7:00 pm, and everyone got out their folding chairs and set them down at various spots around the bonfire. Other than Scully, there were only four other female agents in the group. One of the women approached Scully while she was sitting next to Mulder. Scully noticed she was young, probably in her mid-20’s, and very pretty, with smooth light brown skin, shiny dark hair, and almond-shaped eyes.

“Hi, I’m Layla,” she said as she shook Scully’s hand, smiling.

“Dana. Hi,” Scully said returning the smile.

“We’re trying to round up supplies to make s’mores,” said Layla. “And so far we’ve got graham crackers and chocolate bars. So we’re out hunting for marshmallows.”

“Oh, I’ve got some,” Scully said, getting up. She walked over to her and Mulder’s tent a few feet behind them and grabbed the marshmallows from her backpack.

“Thanks,” Layla said as Scully returned. “Would you like to join us? We’re gonna make s’mores for the group.” Layla nodded her head in the direction of the other women sitting at a picnic table about 30 yards behind them.

“Yee haw,” Mulder quipped while sitting in his chair next to them.

Layla gave Scully a puzzled look.

“Ignore him,” Scully said pointedly. “Sure, I’d be happy to join you.”

She turned to walk with Layla.

“Scully, where are you going?” Mulder whined.

“I’m going to hang out with the girls, Mulder,” Scully said, before she smirked and walked toward the group of female agents.

“Great,” Mulder grumbled under his breath.

While Layla and Scully made their way to join the other women, Layla glanced over at her. “Why does he call you Scully?”

“What do you mean? That’s my name.”

Layla hesitated. “Yes, but your name is Dana.”

“Oh, well, yeah… I don’t know. He never calls me that. I’m just Scully.”

Scully then realized that she’s never really asked herself that question. Sure, Mulder hated his first name, but she felt nothing similar in regards to her own. And Mulder had called her Dana on occasion in the past, usually if he was in a weird, emotional mood or if he was making fun of her and “Dana” took on a rather sarcastic edge. While Scully sat at the picnic table with the other female agents, all younger women in their mid-late 20’s, she got to know more about them, including the fact that they all called their partners by their first names.

Special Agent Layla Abbas, whose family emigrated to the United States from Iran back in the 1970’s, had a master’s degree in criminal justice from Temple University. Her and her partner, Agent James McGill, worked counterterrorism at the Oklahoma City field office. Special Agent Erin Ames, a bubbly Californian blonde complete with a perfect tan, had a bachelor’s degree in sociology from the University of San Diego and a master’s degree in psychology from Boston University, and worked with a hostage negotiation unit out of the Omaha field office along with her partner, Agent Frank Wallace.

Special Agent Terra Vassello, an Italian with dark brown eyes and hair, had a master’s degree in forensic science from Pace University, and had worked with the NYPD for a couple years before graduating from the FBI academy the year before. Her and her partner, Agent Henry Steele, worked in the Violent Crimes Unit out of the St. Louis field office. Special Agent Shenelle Block, a woman who looked like she belonged on the cover of a magazine instead of law enforcement, had a PhD in criminology from Florida State. She worked in the Organized Crime Unit at the Chicago field office with her partner, Agent Guy Conley.

Soon the conversation turned to their personal lives, and to Scully’s surprise, these women all had one. Their lives didn’t completely revolve around work or their partners, save perhaps Layla, of whom Scully had a sneaking suspicion that her personal life and her partner’s were one in the same. Scully found she had little to contribute to this part of the conversation. As she sat listening to these young women talk about their hopes for their careers and their lives, that sense of sadness Scully had felt when watching Mulder in the lake grew deeper.

She had been like them once. Fresh out of the academy, and had landed a job teaching forensics at Quantico. She had a social life, she had friends. She was even dating. She had a sex life. Who was that person she used to be? Scully felt like she could barely remember. There was life before Mulder and life after Mulder, and everything before him was starting to become a blur.

Scully, being only 35, was far from old and could still have a life if she wanted one. But Scully wanted a life with Mulder, and it didn’t seem as though that was ever going to be a reality. She felt hopeless. She felt stuck. And doubts were creeping in. Did Mulder really love her? She had thought that he did, but maybe she was wrong. He had told her so once, but he’d also just been pulled unconscious out of the ocean and was ranting about WW II. If he did, he didn’t love her enough or in the way in which she wanted him to. Was she really so good at hiding her feelings that he had no clue how she felt? Mulder never gave any hint that he thought of her in any capacity other than his partner. His casual flirtations and innuendos were actually defense mechanisms, not to be taken seriously. Did he really feel nothing more for her than friendship? And how long could she wait around hoping that someday he would?

At 7:49 pm the sun set, so Scully and the other women got everything organized for the s’mores and started to head back towards the bonfire. The cleaned fish were spread out on a picnic table closest to the bonfire, waiting to be cooked. There were some agents scattered about, sitting in small groups and talking. Others were down by the lake.

Scully was starting to feel a little chilly, so she turned towards her and Mulder’s tent to get her jacket. Layla decided to walk with her so she didn’t have to walk around the reservoir campground by herself.

“It’s getting dark, after all,” Layla said admonishingly.

“Layla, everyone here is an FBI agent.”

“You can never be too careful.”

Scully chuckled. “Yeah, well, I’m armed.”

“So is everyone else.”

Scully looked at this young woman, who could be no older than 25, and wondered what horrors her family may have escaped from back in Iran. As they got to Scully’s tent, they also were close to where they had left Mulder, and now they saw he was joined by four other agents. They were in the middle of a conversation. Layla grabbed Scully’s arm gently, pulling Scully partially behind the tent, and then put her finger in front of her mouth, motioning her to be quiet, and winked mischievously.

*****

“You two are lucky,” said Agent Robert Babcock, who looked around 30 years old. “You got hot partners. I’m stuck with this ugly mug.”

His partner, Agent Lewis Jackson, laughed.

“The redhead is hot, true,” said another man, Agent Lawrence Stewart.

“Her name is Agent Scully,” Mulder said testily.

“Fine. Agent Scully is a hot piece of ass,” Agent Stewart retorted. “I love redheads.”

Mulder seethed.

“But I feel sorry for you, man,” Agent Stewart continued. He nodded his head in the direction of Agent McGill, who was sitting to the right of Mulder, in the chair Scully had been sitting in before she left. He had blond hair and blue eyes, and was in his mid-20’s. Mulder thought he looked like the typical All-American boy scout, and had probably been the high school quarterback and prom king.

“Why is that?” Agent McGill asked, eyeing Stewart. Mulder thought he appeared to be bracing himself.

“Because who wants a towelhead for a partner? I mean, who did you piss off to get stuck with an Arab?”

Mulder was shocked at what he just heard. He didn’t like the sudden turn the conversation had taken. He looked at Agent McGill, who stared blankly at Stewart.

“First off, she’s Persian. She’s not an Arab,” Agent McGill said calmly. “Second, talk about her like that again and I’ll break your face.”

Mulder could see redness creeping up McGill’s neck and face. Mulder guessed that McGill’s partnership might be more than strictly professional. The group got quiet and Agent Stewart excused himself, saying he was going to find out if his partner needed help cooking the fish. Agents Jackson and Babcock also found a reason to depart.

“It’s not easy having a beautiful woman as a partner, is it?” Agent McGill said to Mulder.

Mulder sighed. “No, not always.”

“I mean…,” Agent McGill hesitated. “You want to protect her from that locker room garbage; defend her dignity, her respectability. She’s an excellent agent, an amazing person. And at the same time, you don’t want to give her the impression that you’re her champion, like you don’t believe she can take care of herself. But I can’t stand the shit people say about her. Or about us. It’s so frustrating sometimes.”

Mulder chuckled. “I know what you mean. But do you believe that she’s the right partner for you? Or do you think you’d be better off working with someone else?”

Agent McGill stared at Mulder. “She’s my perfect match. I can’t imagine being with anyone else.”

Mulder smiled. “Well, then fuck everyone else. Fuck what they say and fuck what they think.”

“So how long have you and Agent Scully been working together?”

“Six years.”

“Are you married? Do you have any kids?” Agent McGill asked.

“No. Why?”

“I was just wondering how this job will affect my life,” Agent McGill answered. “I’d like to get married, have some kids. But the job can be dangerous, and it’s a serious thing to consider when you think about your loved ones. Plus the workload is outrageous. No wonder agents just end up getting involved with people at work. It must be hard to sustain a relationship, right?”

“Hmm… well, I’ve really only had one relationship since joining the FBI,” Mulder replied. “She ended up becoming an FBI agent too. But she left almost eight years ago.”

“You haven’t had a girlfriend in eight years?” McGill asked, looking appalled. “Wow. I think I’d go crazy. So where is she now?”

Mulder sighed. “She’s dead.”

McGill swallowed. “Oh, man. I’m sorry. What was her name?"

“Diana,” Mulder replied.

“So why eight years?” Agent McGill asked tentatively.

Mulder slowly shook his head and shrugged. “I don’t know. I guess at first I just threw myself into work to forget about her. I was alone before her, and it proved to be not too difficult to resume being alone after her.”

Agent McGill thought about that for a minute. “Yeah, but… eight years. Do you ever think about getting married? Having kids?”

“Honestly, marriage has never interested me,” Mulder replied. “I’m sure that stems from my parents. And the only woman who I ever imagined having children with…” Mulder sighed. “Well, that’s impossible.”

“Right…,” Agent McGill replied.

Mulder thought this conversation was turning depressing. He didn’t want to think about Scully being barren. Or Scully getting cancer, or literally anything about Diana, or any number of the awful things that have occurred over the years. He wondered where Scully was and why she’d been gone so long. But then he supposed it was probably nice for her to have some female company. He wondered what Scully would be talking about with those other women. She probably hasn’t had much of that kind of thing since her sister was killed. Great, let’s just add Melissa’s murder to the list on this shitty walk down memory lane while we’re at it.

“What about Agent Scully?”

“What?” Mulder asked, startled out of his reverie.

“Is Agent Scully married?”

“Oh, no,” Mulder replied.

“Have you two… ever… you know,” Agent McGill asked tentatively.

“No, never.”

“Wow, really? In six years?” Agent McGill looked shocked.

“That’s probably why we’ve stayed together for six years,” Mulder deadpanned.

“Never say never,” replied Agent McGill. “It’s been eight years. Live a little.”

Mulder sighed. He wished Scully would hurry up and get back there.

Agent McGill didn’t really know what else to say. “Well, it was nice talking with you. I think I’m gonna go find Layla.”

He then stood up, and after shaking Mulder’s hand, he walked off to the other side of the bonfire in search of his partner. Mulder rolled his eyes.

*****

Scully and Layla were still standing next to the tent, a few feet behind where Mulder was sitting. Scully watched Agent McGill walk away in the opposite direction. Layla was watching Scully’s face.

“Are you okay, Dana?” Layla whispered.

Scully didn’t say anything. She was fighting back tears.

“Was what Agent Mulder said true? You’ve never… or have you?” Layla seemed to be confused over what would’ve made Scully so upset.

“Yes, he told the truth. We’ve never,” Scully replied.

Layla watched Scully stare at the back of Mulder’s head. “There’s nothing more agonizing than being in love, is there? And six years is a long time to be in agony.”

Scully turned a surprised look on Layla. Layla then gave Scully’s shoulder a gentle squeeze and went to find her partner.

Scully’s emotions were getting the better of her and she had to check them. But it was proving difficult. Was Mulder not over Diana? Is she the reason they can never move forward? He was hung up on her when she left, and now with her death, he’s still hung up. Of course he'dl never be a father because Diana is dead. All these years, he’s just been thinking about her? Gibson Praise even called out the fact that Mulder was thinking about Diana. It seemed so obvious now; the real reason things between them would be forever at a stand-still. How could she have ignored the most probable explanation? She's a scientist, for chrissake.

This was the wedge between them, Scully thought. Mulder really had caused this distance – over Diana. Even with her death, the wedge couldn’t be removed because Mulder was keeping it there. Could he really be clinging to his relationship with Diana? When what they have is so much more. It’s based on truth, for one thing. Scully may not have any real proof, but she's positive she was working with the Smoking Man. Their partnership was built on trust and respect. Was what he had with Diana even real? Mulder was a perfect fool.

*****

As it got darker, everyone made their way over to sit in a circle around the bonfire. They ate grilled fish and made s’mores. Most everyone was enjoying themselves. Mulder was surprised, and a little disappointed, that when Scully returned she took a seat clear across from him on the other side of the bonfire. Did something happen? Maybe Scully’s conversations with other agents were just as invasive and uncomfortable as the ones he’d had. Mulder thought that Scully was clearly avoiding his gaze.

As Mulder watched Scully through the flickers sparking up from the bonfire, he thought that today had been one of the best days he’d ever had in his life. Waking up with Scully lying next to him, hiking with her, hearing her tell stories about her childhood, bathing together (sort of), watching her take a nap on the grass, seeing her smile and laugh; just the way she looked at him. It had all been like a dream. Except there was no danger. No Cancer Man to rip her away from him. And Mulder thought that Scully had never looked more beautiful; no makeup, red hair in a wavy mess, freckles popping out all over her face. She was gorgeous.

*****

It was 11:21 pm on Saturday night, and there was no sign of Bob and Randy or any “rescue.” Scully could barely keep her eyes open, and she was falling asleep in the folding chair. She felt someone grab her hand, and opened her eyes to see Mulder kneeling in front of her.

“Come on, let’s go get some sleep,” Mulder said.

Scully yawned. “Okay.”

After getting inside their tent, Scully got into her own sleeping bag, zipped it up, and turned so her back was to Mulder. Mulder seemed to be clued in to her mood because he didn’t try to make conversation. But she did notice a strange look on his face as she was getting into her sleeping bag. Did he think they were going to share again? She had to put a stop to things like that. It only gets her hopes up when it meant nothing to Mulder. He didn't care for her that way, and she needed to stop hoping he would. He never would. So get over it, Dana. Forget it.

*****

By 8:30 am on Sunday, everyone was packed up and awaiting their rescue. At 9:00 am sharp, Bob and Randy landed with a large black helicopter on a clearing about 100 yards from the reservoir camping area. The group boarded and by 11:00 am they had arrived back at the River Dance Wilderness Lodge. Bob and Randy gave a brief closing lecture and handed out the trophies to the first three partnerships to reach the reservoir. Scully was glad that they were all allowed to use rooms afterwards to shower and get cleaned up before leaving.

Mulder and Scully hopped into their rental car and made their way to the airport to catch their 3:10 pm flight back to D.C. They hadn’t talked much at all that day. Mulder appeared to be confused by Scully’s silence, but she didn’t feel motivated to keep up an appearance that everything was fine, even though she told Mulder she was fine several times. He didn’t believe her, of course. While Scully sat quietly on the plane next to Mulder, she kept thinking about something Layla had said to her before they left the Wilderness Lodge earlier.

“I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of the Great Iran Flood,” Layla said to Scully as they said their goodbyes in the parking lot while Mulder was loading bags into the rental car. “It was in 1954, before I was born. But my father was 12 years old at the time and he’s told me the story many times. During the flood, there was a young girl who got her foot stuck in the street. Maybe in the mud, or a grate. I don’t know. The water kept rising, but she couldn’t get free. Many people came to help, but they couldn’t get her foot unstuck. The water kept rising and rising. She drowned.”

“That’s terrible,” Scully replied.

“Yes, it was. But that never would’ve happened to me. Do you know why?”

Scully shook her head and gave a slight shrug to her shoulders.

“Because I would’ve said ‘Cut it off! Now!’ Sometimes we have to cut something off, no matter how much it hurts, in order to survive, to move on.”

Layla gave Scully a pointed look, then said goodbye and crossed the parking lot to join Agent McGill.

As Scully sat in her seat on that flight back home, she wondered if she was going to have to eventually cut something, or someone, off.

Chapter Text

September 1998

He sat at his desk in his dimly lit office and pulled a cigarette from his packet of Morleys. There was a knock at the door and he watched her enter, taking a seat in front of his desk.

“Thank you for coming at this late hour,” he said to her.

“It was no problem,” she replied.

He lit his cigarette, took a puff, and leaned back in his chair, relaxing his posture.

“So how are the tests on the boy going?” he asked her.

“Gibson performs the tests regularly,” she said. “His brain function is remarkable. He’s a genetic anomaly. If only we could re-create him somehow. If only the MUFON pregnancies had been successful.”

“Yes, if only,” he said, dragging another puff from his cigarette. “And the boy’s parents?”

“They haven’t said a word since receiving the money,” she answered. “I don’t think they’ll be a problem. Gibson’s surgery is scheduled for this week. Hopefully we’ll then learn even more.”

He nodded. “Good. I didn’t actually call you down here to talk about the boy. I’ve just returned from Tunisia. Strughold seems to be at a loss with what to do about Mulder.”

She said nothing, and waited for him to continue.

“In fact, we all are,” he said. “We’ve gotten word that the X-Files have been re-opened. Horrible timing after everything Mulder’s just seen. He has no more doubts now. He’s more determined than ever to expose us.”

She sighed and crossed her arms. “What are you thinking of doing?”

He eyed her momentarily. “Scully is the key. Mulder’s obsession is the X-Files, true. They were all he thought about and the only reason behind everything he did, at first. But that’s all changed now. Mulder’s world would completely fall apart without Scully, even if he’s blind to the fact.”

She pursed her lips. “Well, then you have to separate them to neutralize Mulder.”

He shook his head. “No, you don’t understand. Separating them doesn’t work. We’ve tried it, more than once. We even sent her to Antarctica, for God's sake, and he went down there and brought her back. Maybe he’s not as blind as I thought… He’s dangerous with her, and even more dangerous without her. He becomes a man who has nothing left to live for. He becomes reckless, he’ll stop at nothing. At one time I thought that was a perfect scenario to enable him to come work with us, but I was proved wrong.”

“So what can be done?” she asked.

He stubbed out his cigarette and left the butt in the ashtray. “No outside force can come between them. I’ve tried everything short of murder. And I have no intentions of killing Mulder, or Scully. They can be useful when necessary. The only thing that can come between them is themselves. If they separated of their own accord, well now, that’s different. Isn’t it?”

She stared at him while he pulled another cigarette from his Morley pack.

He lighted it and took a puff. “Mulder will never leave Scully. He’s too dependent on her. He has no one else, nor will he ever. And he knows it. But like I said, Scully is the key. In many ways, she’s a much stronger person than he is. She may not want to live without Mulder, but she’s certainly capable. But if she’s to leave Mulder of her own volition, she will need a good reason. A personal one.”

He eyed her across his desk. “I know I can count on you, Diana.”

She nodded. “How would you like me to proceed?” Diana asked.

He took a drag from his cigarette. “I can’t prevent the X-Files from being re-opened, but I’ve arranged things so that Jeffrey is in a position to take control. He’ll be needing a partner.”

*****

February 1999

The rebels were a serious problem. He knew what he had to do, but he couldn’t bring himself to do it. He couldn’t terminate the mother of his child. The group might as well accept the inevitable and allow it to begin. They were all going to be meeting at El Rico Air Force Base later that night. The future was here.

His office phone rang. “Yes?” he answered, while taking his pack of Morleys out from his inside suit pocket.

“Mulder and Scully were just at the Lone Gunman office. I think their conversation will interest you.”

“Go ahead,” he replied.

The sound of a tape recorder button could be heard and soon the office was filled with Scully’s voice.

“I'll ask you to hear me out before you launch any objection. Mulder, I asked them to pull up everything they could on Diana Fowley.”

“I don't have time for this.”

“Mulder, she's playing you for a fool.”

“I know her, Scully. You don't.”

“You knew her. You don't anymore. I think we can prove that to you.”

“She took a position in the FBI's foreign counter-terrorism unit in 1991,” said Byers. “Seven years in Europe.”

“Yet there isn't a single piece of information available on her activities in the FBI files,” added Scully.

“I hope you've got something more than that to indict her with.”

“Travel records pulled from airline manifests that had been purged from her FBI records. Extensive movement throughout Western Europe. Almost weekly trips to and from Tunisia.”

"For the purpose of what?” Mulder asked.

“That's what we couldn't figure until we took a flyer and we found this,” Langly replied.

“Mutual UFO network logs,” Frohike added.

“MUFON,” said Mulder.

“Special Agent Diana Fowley of the FBI was visiting every European chapter collecting data on female abductees,” continued Scully.

“So she's collecting data. Big deal.”

“Or hiding it.”

“Scully, you're reaching.”

"Mulder, when I was abducted a chip was put in my neck. When I happened upon a MUFON group filled with women who'd had the same experience.”

“So you're suggesting that Diana is monitoring these abductees? Monitoring these tests?”

“You tell me that Cassandra Spender is the critical test subject – the one who could prove everything. And yet, who is watching over her? Mulder, I can prove what you're saying or I can disprove it but not when Diana Fowley is keeping us from even seeing her. Mulder, ask yourself why there is no information whatsoever on Special Agent Diana Fowley. Why she would suddenly happen into your life when you are closer than ever to the truth. I mean, you... you ask me to trust no one and yet you trust her on simple faith.”

“Because you've given me no reason here to do otherwise.”

“Well, then I can't help you anymore.”

“Scully, you're making this personal.”

“Because it is personal, Mulder. Because without the FBI, personal interest is all that I have. And if you take that away, then there is no reason for me to continue.”

The recording stopped. “That’s it,” said the man on the line.

“Thank you,” he replied, taking a drag from his cigarette, and hung up the phone. Well, this is certainly interesting, he thought. Diana has done better than I’d hoped.

He decided to go and see her, and left the office to head for the Watergate Apartments.

*****

Three days later.

It had all gone to hell. He was once again sitting at his desk in his office, wondering where to go from here. It wasn’t the first time he had been unsure, and it probably wasn’t going to be the last. Diana walked in and sat across from him.

“I’m sorry about Jeffrey,” she said.

“So am I,” he replied, pulling out a cigarette. “I take it you’ve been informed of your reassignment now that Mulder and Scully have reclaimed the X-Files.”

“Yes, counterintelligence.”

“Good,” he replied.

Diana sighed.

“Nice work with the Scully situation, by the way,” he said.

She gave him a puzzled look. “What do you mean? I don’t think I was all that successful. They’re still together.”

“But now there are splinters, cracks in the foundation. And cracks can grow bigger if left unaddressed, especially the way those two fail to communicate.”

Diana furrowed her brows. “But who knows how long that could take?”

He took a long drag from his cigarette. “Well, that all depends on how big of a fool Mulder is when it comes to matters of the heart.”

Diana looked uncomfortable. He knew she was loyal to him, but he also knew she harbored a soft spot for Mulder. That could be useful too. He pulled out a tape recorder from the bottom of his desk, and pressed play.

“They’re all dead, Mulder. Cassandra is dead. We couldn’t save her.”

“She wasn't at the train yard. Spender was probably misled, Scully. Unless we were just too late. They took her with them to El Rico Air Base.”

“Mulder? When you called me earlier, you said you were with Diana. And that you were coming to take me with you. Where were you going to take me?”

There was a long pause in the recording. He looked across his desk at Diana, and their eyes met.

“Mulder?”

“We were going to the air base.”

“For the purpose of?”

“Scully… the Smoking Man. C.G.B. Spender… he said it was a way we could save ourselves. There was nothing to be done. Nothing I could do to stop it.”

“And you believed him.” It wasn’t a question.

“Scully…”

“I don’t believe this, Mulder. You sided with him, of all people. You just gave up. Everything you’ve been working for. We’ve been working for. And you thought that I would be willing to go with you, and Diana Fowley. To become a co-conspirator with those people and save myself at the expense of mankind. Is that it?”

“Scully…”

“I don’t know what sickens me more, Mulder. The fact that you would make such a decision for yourself, or the fact that you thought I’d be willing to go along with it.”

Another long pause.

“You betrayed me. You betrayed yourself.”

“I’m not going to make excuses, Scully. But it was only a momentary decision. And then you gave me a reason not to give up. To keep fighting.”

“And how do I know that you won’t give up again? Especially if you continue to allow your judgment to be clouded where Diana Fowley is concerned.”

“Scully, I have yet to see proof that she is actually guilty of anything.”

“You’ve got to be kidding me.”

Another long pause. A ringing cell phone could be heard on the tape.

“Scully... Okay, sir. We’ll be there.” A snapping sound can be heard. “Kersh wants to meet with us in the morning.”

“Great.”

He pushed the stop button on the tape recorder, and took a long puff from his cigarette. “Cracks, Diana. Cracks in the foundation.”

Chapter Text

On Sunday evening, August 22nd, Mulder walked through the door to his apartment, dropping his bags in the living room, and collapsed on the couch. The weekend in Colorado had ended up being an emotional rollercoaster. He now felt closer to Scully than he was before the trip, but simultaneously felt like they were more apart than ever. Typical. They hadn’t really talked the whole flight back home, and their goodbye at the airport was very brief.

Something had to have happened that last night of the retreat, but Mulder couldn’t possibly begin to guess what that could have been. Did someone make an asinine comment? Did someone mistreat her in some way? But, if so, why wouldn’t she have told him? Scully seemed… hurt. There was no other way he could describe her demeanor.

He’d only been away from Scully for over an hour, and he missed her already. He watched an old black and white movie on the TV, but soon lost interest. He grabbed his phone from the desk and set it on the coffee table. Mulder thought about calling Scully, but changed his mind. He then momentarily thought about actually going to bed, but he hated the idea of being in there alone. So he shut off all the lights and stayed on the couch. As he lay there, he missed her even more. He missed her in a way he never would’ve thought possible just three days ago. He missed falling asleep next to her, and he knew, come morning, he’d be greeted with the disappointment that he wasn’t waking up next to her.

Maybe that retreat was a huge mistake, and they never should’ve gone. It only made him more keenly aware of how empty his life was in Scully’s absence. If only she was there with him. The things he would do to her. The things he would say. In the safety of his imagination, he had all the courage in the world and there were no negative consequences. He could hold her, and kiss her, and touch her. She actually wanted him to. And there was no harm done, no price to pay.

However, Mulder knew that reality was much different. There could be a lot of harm done, and a huge price to pay. But even if there wasn’t, did she even want a physical relationship with him? His flirtations were always greeted with eye rolling or blank stares. Maybe she wasn’t attracted to him. Maybe it was asking too much for someone like Scully (intelligent, beautiful; the best person he’d ever known), to not only respect him and consider him worthy of her friendship, but to view him as a sexual prospect. To think of him as a man capable of pleasing her. Maybe in her mind, he’s just this lovable geek of a friend whose only joy in life is chasing aliens and government conspiracies. He inwardly balked at the thought. No, that couldn’t be right.

Mulder closed his eyes, grasping at the memory of Scully beside his hospital bed just over two months ago. He could hear her thoughts, sense her overwhelming emotions. He knew there was deep love there. She didn’t trivialize his existence. He knew the profound importance she had put upon his place in her life. But in no way did he sense any sexual undertones in her thoughts about him. Of course, at that moment, she had feared for his life. What he would give just to read her mind once more.

But none of this was helping him reconcile her behavior towards him since last night. He felt like their walls had been starting to come down and a different kind of intimacy emerging. Then suddenly, without warning or any cause that he could determine, she seemed to be shutting him out again. But maybe this was a good thing. Maybe she’d be better off without him. He knew she’d be safer, maybe even happier. But what if they stayed together and he could make her happy? Their relationship could be better; not so apart, not so lonely. They could be closer. But what experience did he have with making romantic relationships work? Every relationship he’d been in, and not that there’d been many, had ended up a complete disaster. Sure the women he’d been with weren’t all that good for him on a basic human level, but he’d made almost no effort to make things work. What did he really know about being a good partner in that sense? What if Scully left him like the others?

He started to feel the same sort of panic that he felt when he’d heard her screaming for him on his answering machine, when she was in a coma and her family was going to pull the plug, when Donnie Pfaster had taken her, when he saw her screaming face in Gerry Schnauz’s photo, when she had been missing from her hospital room and he’d found her journal written to him like a goodbye, when that damn bee stung her, when he found her encased in ice on that ship, when he found her lying on his apartment floor unconscious and covered in blood.

Mulder suddenly didn’t know which was worse: the idea of losing her, or the idea of never having her in the way that he wanted. Something had to give. A decision needed to be made. He couldn’t keep silent forever, keep putting off the inevitable. But, then again, what was wrong with keeping things the same? They’d survived this long without things getting messy and complicated. Scully was his partner, his dearest friend; his only friend. Was it worth the risk? But was there anyone else out there more perfect for him than her? Definitely not. He thought that his subconscious of several months ago, that seemingly preferred a life in suburbia with Diana over anything with Scully, was a fucking idiot. If he did find the courage to declare himself, to tell her what he wanted and how he felt, would she be accepting? Or would she rebuff his attempts to take their partnership into new territory? Or worse, would she not take him seriously and laugh at him? He once again felt stuck between that rock and hard place.

Mulder lay awake in the dark. His brain wouldn’t shut down. He wished Scully was there. As he finally started to drift off to sleep, his phone started ringing. He checked his watch; it was 12:47 am.

*****

Scully arrived home on Sunday evening absolutely exhausted. The tears that she’d been fighting back the whole return flight to D.C. from Colorado couldn’t be held back anymore. After setting her weekender bag in the bedroom, she got into a steaming hot shower and cried until she couldn’t cry anymore. She’d never felt more lost in her life. She didn’t know what to do with herself, with her career, with Mulder.

Should she cut and run? Should she stay and hope that Mulder would eventually get over whatever he needed to get over in order for them to move on? She thought she wanted a life with him, but what if she eventually did get one, and then things didn’t work out? That was the reason she put walls up. That was the reason she was forever keeping people at a distance. The reason why she’d never had a relationship that lasted longer than a year. The reason why as soon as she felt herself getting too attached, or if the guy was starting to make it clear he wanted lifelong commitment, she ran.

Was there anything scarier than love? Than giving another human being complete power to destroy you? Was there anything more painful than loving someone? And then losing that someone? She’d been afraid of death, of the pain that comes when someone you love more than anything is ripped from your life. If she never loved, then she wouldn’t have to experience this. For years, she fought to avoid that pain wherever possible. She always had an exit strategy for when relationships became too serious. She had found a way to surrender her body and engage her mind, but still keep her heart locked up tight. No one was getting in there. Before Mulder only one man had really come close, and she had even considered the possibility. But she still ran away from him; ran in the opposite direction to the FBI.

But somewhere along the line, where or when she had no idea, she had fallen in love with Mulder. By the time she had fully realized this, and could no longer ignore it or pretend otherwise, it was too late. And now she knew this pain, this pain she’d been running from. Now just looking at him broke her heart. She wanted to touch him, to feel his arms around her, to feel his lips on hers; she wanted the ecstasy of his skin on her skin, the weight of his body on top of hers. But that just hurt.

Scully sat on her couch wishing they’d never gone on that retreat. She wished they’d never shared a sleeping bag, wished she’d never spent a night with him holding her close to him, wished she’d never woken up next to him. God, that sleeping bag. The sleeping bag was going haunt her forever. The feeling of Mulder grabbing her and pulling her across the mattress towards him; the feeling of being snuggled up tight against his firm body, feeling his warmth; seeing the look on his face as their eyes met. Had there ever been a more perfect opportunity for their partnership to evolve?

But overhearing him talking with Agent McGill helped her to finally understand why Mulder never acted when she thought he would. He hadn’t had a relationship since Diana left, and he didn’t seem like he wanted another one. He had actually imagined having children, but Diana was dead. It was impossible for him to be a father. The pain was more unbearable now than ever before. And if she didn’t find a way to erect the fortress around her heart again, she didn’t know how much longer she could cope with the pain.

As she got ready for bed, Dana Scully was going into self-preservation mode. Usually this meant making plans to run away and start over. But she knew she couldn’t leave Mulder. She couldn’t just cut and run. It wouldn’t be fair to him. The thought of hurting him wasn’t even a consideration. She had to find another way to deal with this. She had to accept the fact that although she was his closest friend, and he loved her dearly, he did not want her. That had to be good enough. It must be. She had to admit that she’d rather have Mulder just the way he is, with just the way things are, than not have him at all.

Scully walked through her living room and noticed she had two messages blinking on her machine. She pressed play.

“Hi Dana, it’s Tara. Listen, Jennifer told me what Bill did. I can’t believe he told that police officer to ask you out. I’m so sorry, honey. Bill got an earful from me, let me tell you. He shouldn’t be sticking his nose where it doesn’t belong. Anyways, the twins are kicking like crazy! Maggie said you went to Colorado. Hopefully we can talk when you get back. Love you.”

She thought about calling her back. It was only 8:00 pm in San Diego. But she didn’t feel like talking. She’d call her in a couple days.

“Dana, it’s Mom. I hope you had a wonderful weekend in Colorado. It’s beautiful out there. Father McCue came over for lunch after Mass today. He was asking about you, wondering why he hadn’t seen you all summer. Would you like to come over this Sunday? I was thinking of asking Charlie and Jennifer too. We could all go to church together. I know Father McCue would love to see you. Give me a call when you get home.”

She sighed. How could she ever explain to her mother? How could she explain to Father McCue, for that matter? Scully started to feel the tears well up again. What did she believe anymore? She didn’t even know. She hadn’t been able to come up with any justification for what she saw in Africa, no real explanation. How could she reconcile what she saw with her faith? Did she have faith anymore? Faith in what, exactly? God? She needed to talk about it. But she couldn’t tell her mother. And she couldn’t see herself telling Father McCue. What an uncomfortable conversation that would be.

She eventually made her way to bed, but she couldn't sleep. She tossed and turned, a million thoughts racing through her head. She needed to talk to someone. And it dawned on her, not for the first time or the last, that only one human being on the entire planet understood her. Only one person truly knew her, knew her better than anyone else did. Because she’d actually allowed this person to know her; to know her on such a level that she’d never allowed anyone else to.

She reached over to her bedside table and picked up the phone.

*****

He grabbed his phone. “Hello?”

“Mulder, what if God is just another word for alien? How am I supposed to tell my mother that?”

He sat upright on his couch. He hadn’t been expecting Scully to call him, especially since she had barely spoken ten words to him earlier that day. “Do you have to tell her something like that?”

“I don’t know. Shouldn’t I tell her the truth?”

“What is the truth, Scully?”

“Mulder, I haven’t gone to church once since I got back from Africa. I know my mother is concerned, and now Father McCue is asking after me. What do I say to them? I don’t know if I can ever set foot in church again.”

“I… I don’t know, Scully.” I’ve never been a churchgoer, so I haven’t got a clue how to deal with that, he thought.

She sighed. “Mulder? What if everything I ever believed is a lie? All of it.”

He'd been there. “You don’t know that, Scully. Who’s to say it’s all a lie? The answers are out there. We have to hope that we’ll find them someday.”

“I’m angry, Mulder. What if I put my faith in something that doesn’t exist; in something that is nothing more than a deception created by humans to explain mortality, to incite wars, to pretend that this life isn’t all there is, to hide the truth?”

“But who’s to say God doesn’t exist?”

“But that spaceship, Mulder. Why would scripture and human DNA code be engraved upon it?”

“Well, what if the aliens believe in God?” He was shocked at what he just said, and he certainly hadn’t planned on saying it. But now that he had said it, it kind of made sense to him. In some weird way.

She sighed. What in the world? “Mulder, come on. You’ve always been skeptical about God. Now you’re supposing the aliens are believers?”

“Scully, what about Albert Hosteen?”

There was a long pause. She hadn’t figured out how to explain that yet. “I can’t say for sure that really happened, Mulder.”

“Scully, don’t second-guess yourself. Think of the emptiness you felt in Africa, and the hopelessness you felt when you returned.”

She hesitated. She couldn’t remember ever talking about that with him. She thought she had kept that to herself.

“Now think of how you felt when Albert Hosteen held your hands and prayed with you.”

She swallowed. She could remember how hope blossomed in her heart as Albert knelt on the floor with her. Her throat was constricting and she could feel the tears welling up in her eyes again.

“Scully, if Albert Hosteen had been in a coma in New Mexico that entire time, who was in your apartment? Who prayed with you?”

Tears were now steadily flowing down her face.

“You have to make some sort of peace with what you saw in Africa, Scully. But don’t count out God.”

She sniffled, and grabbed a tissue from the box on the bedside table and wiped her eyes.

“Do you want me to come over, Scully?” Please say ‘yes.’ Wait. No, no, no. Bad idea. What was he thinking?

She paused. Yes. Yes, please come over. Come over and make her forget about God and aliens and spaceships and church. Come over and make her feel better. “No, that’s okay, Mulder. I’ll see you in the morning.”

“Okay, Scully. See you in the office.” He hung up the phone.

Mulder and Scully finally drifted off to sleep, both of them wishing they weren’t sleeping alone.

Chapter Text

On Friday, August 27th, Mulder and Scully had a full day of quarterly departmental meetings in Skinner’s office. They gathered up their case reports from the past three months, not that there’d been very many due to Mulder’s medical leave, and sat in Skinner’s office with the other agents under his supervision. Mulder hated quarterly day.

On the last Friday of every quarter, they had to sit in Skinner’s office and discuss the validity of their caseload from the previous three months. If the meeting was just with Skinner, it wouldn’t have been much of a problem. But they also had to meet with an executive from the Records Management Division and the Finance Division. This was the status quo for all field agents in every branch on quarterly day.

However, for Mulder and Scully, quarterly day also meant that an executive from the Office of Integrity and Compliance sat in on the meeting. Such was the reputation of the X-Files and Mulder’s reputation, specifically. Mulder had that nasty habit of not doing things by the book, and after landing in hot water one too many times, now a representative from OIC attended all their quarterlies. This started a year ago when they’d been assigned under Kersh, and even though they were now back on the X-Files and working under Skinner, OIC thought this was just too good a habit to give up.

Today, Assistant Director Gregory Roberts from OIC was sitting in on the quarterly. As soon as Mulder walked through Skinner’s door and saw Roberts sitting in a corner, notebook in hand, he wanted to turn around and walk right back out. Roberts was a real son of a bitch, and it was no secret that he loathed Mulder. Scully stopped in her tracks at the sight of Roberts and inwardly groaned.

AD Roberts had originally hailed from the Laboratory Division and had worked out of Quantico. He had been Scully’s supervisor when she taught there from 1990 – 1993. He had known of her relationship with Agent Jack Willis, and had strongly disapproved. At first, Scully thought the disapproval stemmed from his ideas about students getting involved with instructors. However, it soon became clear that his disapproval was of a personal nature that made Scully very uncomfortable. In 1997, Roberts had accepted a position with the OIC.

On Friday, November 27th of last year he had sat in on Mulder and Scully’s first quarterly with Kersh, that had now required, for the first time, a representative from OIC (at Kersh’s request), and the experience had been miserable. Roberts had made jabs about November 27th being a very special date for Mulder and other unfavorable remarks about the X-Files, but most of his hostility had actually been directed at Scully. He made underhanded comments, which Kersh pretended not to hear, about Scully’s career choices and about her supposed penchant for authority figures; he impugned Scully’s reasons for staying with Mulder so long, reducing the validity of everything she’d accomplished in the X-Files, by surreptitiously remarking on her abandoning a real career in exchange for “paranormal pillow talk.” Mulder had walked out of Kersh’s office that day on the verge of bursting a blood vessel.

Needless to say, both Mulder and Scully felt a sense of horror at seeing Roberts once again attending their quarterly. But thankfully, with the meeting being directed by Skinner and not Kersh, Roberts wasn’t allowed a free-for-all attack on Scully or Mulder or the X-Files. That’s not to say Roberts didn’t attempt to get a few digs in, but each attempt was immediately greeted with Skinner’s reply of “Do you have something you want to share with the room, AD Roberts?” or “Roberts, unless you have something to add that is relevant to the case we’re reviewing, please save your comments for later and I’ll be happy to discuss them with you.” Roberts soon gave up.

For the first time ever, Mulder and Scully’s caseload didn’t take them very long to review. This was usually the other agents’ favorite part of the quarterly, the discussion of the X-Files cases Mulder and Scully had worked. Mulder may have made quite the reputation for himself, that of a loose cannon and an oddball, and many people wondered why someone like Scully would stick around in that dead end basement, but no one doubted the fact that Mulder and Scully did exciting work. Usually by the end of quarterly Friday, stories about all the “weird shit” Mulder and Scully had gotten into had spread all over the building.

Today was no different. By the time Scully had finished her overview of the rubbing that had caused Mulder’s illness and the description of his abnormal brain function; the ship in Africa covered in human DNA sequences and scriptures from the holy books of major religions; the strange occurrences in Africa around the site of the spaceship with the locusts, the water turned to blood, and the boils erupting on the skin of the African men who had been in the water with the ship; of Mulder missing from the hospital and then finding him in a DoD medical facility left for dead after invasive brain surgery, Skinner’s office had fallen silent. Mulder thought he could’ve heard a pin drop. No one knew what to make of this. Mulder could tell that some couldn’t believe their ears, while others looked frightened. Even Roberts hadn’t made any remarks under his breath the entire time Scully was talking.

Seeing the now awkward silence that was pervading his office, Skinner called for a 20 minute break, much to everyone’s relief. Mulder and Scully quickly left the room before Roberts had even gotten up from his chair, and were in the basement less than three minutes later. Much to their surprise, as they walked towards their office Lieutenant Kresge was standing outside their door, knocking.

“Dana, hi!” Kresge said, turning towards them.

“Hi Jonathan!” said Scully, smiling.

Kresge put out his hand, saying “Agent Mulder, right?”

Mulder shook hands with Kresge. “Good memory.”

“You’re probably wondering why I’m here,” said Kresge, turning toward Scully. “Dana, I’m sorry I haven’t called or anything. National Academy was kicking my ass. I just finished the Yellow Brick Road.”

“Wow, you survived,” Scully replied, chuckling.

“Barely,” Kresge grinned. “Anyways, I was wondering… do you have plans tonight? I’d like to take you out again.”

At this, Mulder walked away and unlocked the office door, going inside and leaving them out in the hallway. Scully stared at him until he was out of sight. She suddenly felt angry, but she wasn’t really sure why.

“Um… no, I don’t have any plans,” Scully said hesitatingly.

Kresge eyed her. “Look, Dana… I know your brother asked me to look you up, but I had a good time. I don’t want you to think that I only took you out as a favor. I’m going back to San Diego tomorrow. I’ve only got one night left on the east coast, and I’d like to spend it with you.”

A loud banging sound could be heard from inside the office. Scully thought it sounded like Mulder had dropped something, and she could hear him grumbling to himself. She rolled her eyes.

“What did you have in mind?” Scully asked.

Kresge smiled. “How about dinner at Marcel’s? I can pick you up at 7:30.”

“But that’s a brand new restaurant,” Scully replied. “We couldn’t possibly get in tonight.”

Kresge gave her a sheepish look. “Well… I knew tonight would be my last night in D.C. And so I made an 8:00 dinner reservation weeks ago, that afternoon after I came down here to see you.”

Scully had a puzzled expression. “In the afternoon? Wait. You mean you made dinner reservations for tonight, in hopes that I’d go with you, before we’d even gone out the first time?”

Kresge stared intently at her. “Yes.”

Scully felt her face redden, and she averted her eyes.

“So, will you go to dinner with me?” Kresge asked, expectantly.

She hesitated. “Sure.” Scully suddenly thought that Kresge would be a useful distraction from Mulder.

*****

At 3:30 pm, everyone reconvened in Skinner’s office following the 20 minute break. No one had much to say about Scully’s report, or if they did, they were keeping it to themselves. Although one of the other field agents quipped about Scully possibly writing off her travel expenses to Africa. Some final words were spoken to the group by Skinner, Roberts, AD Brenda Stercho of the Records Management Division, and AD Fern Mathews of the Finance Division, and by 4:15 Mulder and Scully were heading back down to their office.

“So… you’re going out with Kresge tonight?” Mulder asked, watching Scully take her keys out of her bag.

Scully didn’t look at him. “Yes, we’re going out for dinner.”

Silence. “I thought you said you weren’t going to see him again.”

“Well, I had no idea he was even going to ask me out again, Mulder. I certainly didn’t think so.”

Mulder sat down at the desk. “But I was going to take you over to see the Gunmen tonight.”

Scully looked over at him. “For what?”

He shot her an incredulous look. “Scully. You wanted to know what I’ve been doing all summer. I told you I was going to take you to see the Gunmen and explain everything.”

“Oh, right. Mulder, it doesn’t really matter. You did explain. You told me you’d been working with the Lone Gunmen. That’s explanation enough. Besides, it’s really none of my business what you do outside of work. Anyways, I’m heading out a little early. See you on Monday.”

He stared at her as she walked out of the office. Where the hell did that come from?

*****

Mulder sat in his apartment, watching the clock and thinking about Scully’s behavior since they’d returned from Colorado. She rarely made eye contact with him and she resisted whenever he made plans for them, or for her. There had been a murder case out of Vermont that he wanted to check out, as the victim had radiation burns from an unknown source, and he had the body sent to Quantico. When he told Scully the body had arrived for her to conduct the autopsy, she recoiled and made some flippant remark about Mulder acting like her boss.

That was just one example of many during the week where Scully had alluded to feeling like he dictates her life. Mulder had no idea what to say to this. Instead he just shook his head, and would leave the office. But as Mulder sat on the couch in his apartment, it all started to become clear. He could see behavioral patterns presenting themselves. Scully had only really acted this way twice that he could distinctly remember, and one time involved Ed Jerse and the other Phillip Padgett. Goddammit.

It suddenly dawned on Mulder why Ed Jerse had happened: He’d been ignoring her. He had been too obsessed with the work to notice that something serious was going on with Scully, and so she got a tattoo and then spent the night with a total stranger, almost getting killed in the process. Unfortunately, that didn’t really wake him up to his self-involved behavior because he didn’t understand her actions at the time, but her cancer diagnosis soon after sure did. Scully then became his priority; making sure she was okay, searching for answers to what caused her cancer, searching for a cure. He had come so close to losing her, and that was something he never wanted to experience again. So even after she recovered, he made sure that he didn't get so wrapped up in the X-Files that he ignored her. But how long did this last?

Mulder also realized why he’d found Scully sitting in the dark on Phillip Padgett’s bed: He’d been taking her for granted and was ignoring her again. Maybe she'd wanted his attention. Mulder knew that for the past year, ever since they returned from Antarctica and had the X-Files taken away, he’d acted like a real dick at times. Even to Scully, sometimes especially to Scully. Maybe it was frustration. Maybe it was anger. Maybe it was Diana. Or, rather, maybe it was because of how he knew she felt about Diana. Diana's offhand remarks about Scully not being a real ally to the work because she didn't agree with him about everything, that Diana would've contributed to a more equal partnership on the X-Files; he had actually let this get to him. This had caused a lot of internal conflict, and he’d taken it out on her. Maybe not directly, but he knew his actions toward her had been passive-aggressive at times. And now he hated himself. He hated himself for not resolutely defending Scully in a way that made Diana shut up. He hated himself for his behavior since they had returned from Antarctica, especially since he had actually become seriously aware of how important she was to him and to his work. He had told her so. And then that damn bee...

But it took reading Padgett’s book and finding Scully covered in blood on his apartment floor for him to start waking up to his behavior. Even so, he wasn’t fully awake until she had gotten him out of that DoD facility, and he’d recovered from his illness. She’d saved him. He had woken up to the truth about Diana, and his real feelings for Scully. But he was too late. He should’ve woken up years ago.

Was Kresge the next Jerse? The next Padgett? Or, even worse, was Kresge the decent man who would take Scully away from him? Someone who would come along and give her a normal life? Mulder decided that she obviously needed his attention. He thought about going over to her apartment and waiting for her to come home. But then he remembered that other Friday night not too long ago when she’d come home from her first date with Kresge, and changed his mind. That had been a miserable night. And doing so would be very selfish of him. He had no right to interfere in her life.

Maybe he should just let things take their course. Scully deserved a real life, a happy life. How could he possibly give her that? Why should she be chained to him and his quest forever? He wanted so much more for her. This might be her best chance for happiness. Kresge didn’t seem like a bad guy. He’d probably take good care of her. He knew that if she wanted to leave, he wouldn’t try to stop her this time. He won’t go charging after her down his hallway. He’d let her go. As Mulder sat in the darkness of his apartment, his heart broke and he buried his tear-stained face in his hands.

Chapter Text

It was after 10:00 pm on Friday night, August 27th, when Kresge walked Scully inside her apartment building. Scully had a nice time at Marcel’s, a romantic French restaurant. Kresge had wanted to know all about her, her life and her work. He even asked how she’d been able to hold up after what happened with Emily. Scully knew that he wasn’t doing this as a favor to Bill. She could tell by Kresge’s tone of voice and body language that he actually liked her. It sure was tempting.

When they reached her apartment door, she turned to face Kresge. “Goodnight. Thank you for dinner. I had a really nice time.”

“The night doesn’t have to end right now,” Kresge said, leaning toward her.

She stepped slightly backwards, so that her back was touching her apartment door. She blushed and looked away. When Scully looked at Kresge again, he was licking his lips. She felt the muscles in the pit of her stomach tighten up. Kresge stepped forward, sliding an arm behind her waist and pulling her to him. She reflexively threw both hands up to grip his shoulders. Kresge’s pupils were dilated and his breathing had quickened. He had a hungry look on his face.

Scully swallowed. Here was a man, an attractive man, who didn’t hold back from communicating what he wanted. Kresge was blunt and to the point. Here was a man who wanted to touch her, who wanted to fuck her, and he wasn’t trying to hide the fact that he wanted to. When was the last time a man had looked at her like that? She hadn’t had sex in so long. She hadn’t felt a man’s arms around her, felt a man’s passionate kiss, felt a hard cock stroke her into ecstasy. Her suppressed libido was awakening. She felt hot desire pooling at her center.

But she lowered her arms and backed out of his hold. He looked disappointed. “Yes, it does,” Scully finally replied. “You’re going back to San Diego in the morning. I’m not going to see you again.”

Kresge eyed her thoughtfully. “Have you ever thought of moving back to San Diego? A change might be good. And anyways, I really like you, Dana. I’d happily keep seeing you if wasn’t for, you know, logistics.”

She gave him a small smile. He kissed her on the cheek and said goodbye. Scully watched him walk back down the hallway towards the elevator. She hurriedly unlocked her door and entered her dark apartment, kicking off her shoes. She couldn’t stand the ache anymore. It was unbearable.

She leaned back against the door and lifted up her skirt, shoving her right hand down her belly and into the front of her panties. Her fingers slid past her soft curls and sunk into her wet folds. Scully whimpered and closed her eyes. She couldn’t remember the last time she’d allowed herself to feel this kind of pleasure. Her fingers dragged the pooling juices from her slit forward, circling her aching clit. She moaned, and then sunk two fingers into her drenched cunt, and then a third finger. But it wasn't good enough. She abandoned this and concentrated all her ministrations on her throbbing clit. Suddenly Mulder was there and it wasn't her hand, it wasn't her fingers, his cock was between her legs, her clit stroked hard and fast. Within seconds she was coming, gasping and moaning.

But it wasn’t good enough. She wanted Mulder. She wished he was there. But he wasn't there. And he didn’t want her. He probably never would. He’d really only ever wanted Diana Fowley. And this was why she fought to never think of him in a sexual way. Because now the pain was back, sinking its claws into her heart and debilitating her. She sunk to the floor in misery.

*****

Ivory Coast, West Africa; May 19 – June 16, 1999

The first thought that ran through Scully’s mind as she laid her eyes on the craft washed up on the shore, lurking under the ocean waves, was that she wished Mulder was there. This is where their paths were meant to converge; where science and paranormal combined to form a common ground their partnership could build upon. This was meant for him to see. But she was there alone, without him to help steer this new path straight. How could she begin to understand? To make the connections that Mulder’s brilliant mind could always so quickly determine?

And so in Africa she did what she once did when she was lying in that hospital in Allentown, Pennsylvania: she kept a journal written for Mulder. She needed the grounding that Mulder always provided; his unwavering convictions and beliefs that she could always put her back up against in her weakest moments.

Every day Scully rose at dawn to continue the excavation of the craft. She collected rubbings of the surface, but she struggled to put the pieces together, to make sense of what she’s seeing. She needed Mulder more than ever. He could put the pieces together. His speculations, his hunches, usually turning out to be right, much to her chagrin a lot of the time.

As she lay awake at night, after a long day of deciphering the rubbings taken from the craft’s surface, her mind would be back in D.C., with Mulder; thinking of him in the hospital on those monitors screaming her name, or the times he’d just be looking up at the camera soundlessly mouthing her name and his eyes staring directly at her. He knew she was there. He needed her. He always spoke to her with his eyes, and they said far more than his words ever did.

Scully had left Mulder behind, to find answers and the hope for a cure to save him; she had left him behind with Diana Fowley, and this worried her. He was vulnerable and within Diana’s grasp. This turned her stomach into knots. What if something happened to him? Diana was a liar. Maybe he had indeed called her for help, but only because Scully had been in New Mexico. He’d been asking for her, at least Diana had admitted that. But it was possible that he never called Diana, and someone else had. Someone was spying on them, she knew it. Skinner? But why? Was Diana involved in that? Most likely. Scully couldn’t help but feel betrayed by Mulder’s continued allegiance to her, by his ignoring her legitimate suspicions over Diana’s true intentions. She had left him behind, and she fervently hoped she wouldn’t live to regret it.

But every night in her dreams, Mulder was there. In her dreams, she wasn’t afraid.

He was pulling her from her cot, telling her to get back to work. She’d tell him that she was tired of chasing aliens and monsters, and to let her sleep. He’d laugh at her and lift her from the cot, setting her on her feet.

“What are you doing, Mulder? You’re sick. You need to be resting.”

“Scully, you need my help. I’ve got that Navajo translation book you’d been looking for all day. We can decipher those rubbings you took.”

“But Mulder, you’re supposed to be in the hospital.”

“I’m supposed to be here with you, Scully.”

He took her hand, threading his fingers through hers, smiling at her. Suddenly he’s pulling books from the shelves of the Universite Cote D'Ivoire library. “We have to hurry, Scully. We need to find the answers.”

They sat on the floor, pouring over books, and putting the rubbings together like a puzzle. Suddenly, what had confused her earlier the day before was now making sense. She was thankful he was there to help her, but she still worried about him every night.

“Mulder, are you in pain? Does your head hurt? You should rest.”

“I’m okay, Scully. You rest. You’ve been working hard all day. Go to sleep, Scully. I’ll stay up.”

She wanted to stay up with him, she needed to work. But she’s so tired and she lay down on a couch in the library, drifting to sleep while he worked at a table next to her.

And then it was once again dawn, and Scully would awaken on her cot in that tent next to Amina Ngebe. Mulder wasn’t there.

On her last night in the Ivory Coast, June 16th, Scully was drifting off to sleep despite of herself and her instincts to remain awake now that Dr. Barnes had intruded on their work. But she was exhausted, and unconsciousness was pulling her under.

He was shaking her awake. “Scully, you have to come home now.”

“But there’s so much work to do, Mulder. I haven’t found a cure yet. I don’t know how to save you.”

“You’ll find a way, Scully. I trust you. Just come home. You have to."

She felt that falling sensation of a hypnic jerk and awakened in her cot. Amina was lying awake next to her, and nodding towards Dr. Barnes, who was standing guard at the tent entrance. Scully wasn’t sure how she’d be able to leave. But she had to get home. She thought of Mulder in the clutches of Diana Fowley, of the possibility that Skinner was spying on the basement office, and of whomever else who might be putting his life in danger. He was in trouble; she knew it. She had to get to him as soon as possible.

*****

After a few minutes, Scully picked herself up off the floor and made her way to the bedroom. She got undressed and headed into the bathroom to take a shower. After getting out and putting on her robe, she realized that she had never checked her answering machine after getting home from work earlier. She had two messages.

“Dana, it’s Mom. Charlie and Jennifer are coming down on Sunday morning with the kids. We’re going to go to church together and then go out for brunch afterwards. They’d really like to see you. Oh, and Charlie says to invite Mulder. I don’t know how much success you’ll have with that, but that’s what your brother wanted me to tell you. Let me know if we can expect you. I love you, honey.”

She sighed. She supposed she should go, if at the very least to ease her mother’s mind. But the thought of Mulder attending Mass at her family’s church was laughable. Like hell was she ever going to ask him to go to something like that. What was Charlie thinking?

“Hi, Dana. This is Connie calling from Capital Women’s Care reminding you of your 8:00 am appointment for your annual exam this Tuesday, August 31st. We look forward to seeing you!”

She groaned. Time for her yearly reminder that she'd never have children.

There was a knock on her door. She looked up, surprised. It was after 11:30 pm. She then sighed and stared at the door. It could only be one person. Scully opened her door to see Mulder standing there in a charcoal t-shirt, dark jeans, and sneakers. He looked her up and down. Her hand flew to her robe to make sure she was decent. She became keenly aware that she wasn’t wearing anything underneath.

“I didn’t wake you up, did I?” he asked, looking concerned.

“No, Mulder.”

He hesitated. “Are you here alone?”

She scoffed. “Of course I am. Who else would be here?”

Mulder shuffled his feet from side to side. “I thought you had a date with Kresge,” he said, not meeting her eyes.

Scully eyed him pointedly. “We went out for dinner earlier, yes. But he’s not in my apartment. Nor was he ever.”

He met her eyes and their gaze lingered for some seconds.

“Can I come in?” Mulder asked.

She blinked. “Oh, yeah… yeah, come in.” She stepped aside from the doorway and Mulder entered, turned left into the kitchen and sat at the table. Scully followed him. “Would you like some coffee? Tea? Beer?”

Mulder debated. “A beer would be great, thanks.”

She grabbed two beers from the fridge, and a bottle opener, and sat across from Mulder at the table. “So, what’s up?”

He took a swig of his beer. “I fell asleep on the couch and had a bad dream.”

Scully drank from her bottle and then nodded. “What was the dream?”

He sighed. “There’s this young boy on a beach building a sand UFO. He used to be happy. But lately he’s been very upset and no matter what I do, I can’t help him. I can’t get to him. I can’t fix whatever is wrong.”

“So you’ve had this dream before?” she asked.

Mulder nodded. “Yeah, I’ve dreamt many times about this little boy.”

She pondered this. “Take out the sand UFO and replace the little boy with a little girl, and I have similar dreams.”

“What do you think it means?” Mulder asked.

Scully shrugged. “I don’t know. Do these dreams have any major significance? Or are they just hyper-active brain activity conjuring up an amalgamation of various images, sensations, and emotions that we have experienced at some point in our lives? I know I was deeply affected by Emily’s death, and so dreaming of a little girl isn’t so strange. Or maybe dreaming about children is fulfilling some need within our subconscious.”

“Hmm. Do you think we’re missing out on anything, Scully? I mean… our work is consuming. There are other things that we could be missing out on.”

She was surprised by this. She had never known him to give serious consideration to life outside the X-Files.

“I suppose everyone is missing out on something.” She really didn’t want to talk to him about wanting children, or other things she felt she was missing out on.

“Yeah, maybe,” he said. He paused. “Scully, I’m kind of surprised that you changed your mind about wanting to know what I was doing with the Lone Gunmen over the summer.”

She shrugged.

He was going to tell her anyways, even if she pretended she didn’t care. “Scully, a couple weeks after I started my medical leave, I received a box with a letter and a compact disc from Diana.”

She pursed her lips. And Mulder saw it happen, right there in front of him; saw a cloud suddenly come over Scully’s face; saw her eyes that had been full of emotion now look dead; he saw the walls coming up.

“I don’t want to talk about Diana Fowley, Mulder,” she said tersely. She never wanted to hear that name again.

He sighed. “Well, I do want to talk about her. And who else can I talk to? You’re the only one I’ve got.”

She felt at a loss. She didn’t want to talk about this. To hear him talk about Diana and how much he felt he was missing out on would be torture. But how could she refuse him? He was her friend, and he needed her to listen.

Mulder saw some emotion creeping back into her eyes, but she appeared to be bracing herself for things she didn’t want to hear. But he had to get this off his chest. It was eating away at him.

“Scully, you were right about her. Everything. All of it. She collected data and supervised experiments on MUFON women. And who knows what else. She’d been working for Cancer Man the whole time. You were right all along.”

Her eyes grew wide and she stared at him. “How do you know? When did you find this out?”

Mulder sighed. “I started to realize back in May on the day Diana came for me in that stairwell at American University and she took me home. I could hear it. And then when I was in the hospital, I knew for sure.”

She looked doubtful. “Not that ‘reading minds’ thing again.”

“Scully, I’m telling you the truth. I should’ve realized much sooner, like you did. But I let anger get in the way.”

“Anger? What were you angry about?” she asked.

Mulder hesitated. “I was angry about a lot of things, Scully. I was angry at the FBI for taking the X-Files away from me. Everything I’d worked for, poured my heart and soul into, had been taken from me and I was stuck investigating literal piles of shit. But… mostly…”

She looked at him questioningly, but he was staring at his hands on the table. “Yes?”

He lifted his head and looked into her eyes. “I was angry at you, Scully. I was angry that you didn’t back me up in front of the OPR panel. I was angry at you for denying what had happened in Antarctica. I was angry that we were suddenly tip-toeing around one another and bickering all the time. I was angry that you didn’t believe me when I said Diana was doing what was best for the X-Files. I was angry that you would throw trust in my face and would seemingly try to force me to choose between you. I was angry that you went behind my back to gather information on her and confronted me, not in private, but in front of the Lone Gunmen. I didn’t know what you expected of me.”

“Mulder…”

“No, let me finish. But when we sat in Kersh’s office and you stood by me, despite being upset over my own actions, telling Kersh not to bet against me… I knew what you had expected of me all along: to stand by you, no matter what. You weren’t asking me to choose because, in reality, there should’ve been no choice to make. I should have acknowledged your right to voice your suspicions of Diana even if I didn’t agree with you, instead of trying to silence you or dismissing your opinion out of hand. By ignoring your concerns, I ended up forcing you to question my loyalty to you. At the end of that meeting with Kersh I felt so relieved to finally have the X-Files back, but when I turned to you and saw how sad you looked, the feeling of relief was gone as I saw the chasm that laid between us. Scully, I’m sorry about Diana, about my behavior. I should have listened to you. You were right. She played me like a fool.”

She sat there, stunned. He was once again staring at his folded hands. How different he was on this Friday night compared to the Friday night three weeks ago when they had sat eating ice cream at this same table. Gone was the silent broodiness, and here was Mulder actually expressing himself. Scully reached across the table and held onto his hand. He looked up and stared at her.

“So, my family is getting together this Sunday. Would you like to come to brunch with us?”

Mulder grinned at her. “Is Bill Jr in town?”

Scully smiled. “Nope.”

Chapter Text

Just after 8:00 am on Saturday, August 28th, Mulder showed up back at Scully’s place. She opened her apartment door, still wearing her pajamas, wondering why he was there so early, especially since he didn’t leave her place the night before until well after midnight.

When Mulder had left, she'd felt a huge sense of relief. He wasn’t hung up on Diana, except maybe still a little angry at himself for being so blind. But he hadn’t loved her. He hadn’t wanted her. And as Mulder stood in her doorway, seeing her in her pajamas and her hair a mess, she smiled as she thought of the night before…

“I know it must’ve been hard for you, to have such strong feelings about her and then learn of her betrayal. And with the Smoking Man, of all people,” Scully said softly, still holding Mulder’s hand across her table.

He started to play with her fingers. “Scully… I obviously had feelings for Diana years ago and having her around again was certainly awkward. But I had no thoughts of picking up where we’d left off or hoping for anything like that.”

She watched their fingers entwine. “Why didn’t you?”

Mulder looked at her thoughtfully. “Because that was so long ago. Thankfully, I’m not the same person I was when she left. I just wish I had known where her true loyalties lied. I wish I had been able to confront her about it. Now I just feel stupid.”

Scully nodded sympathetically. “But she still helped me save you. And she paid with her life. Even though her motives were… questionable, I guess she was still a friend to you, in some ways.”

He shook his head. “No, Scully. Diana had her reasons for doing what she did, but everything she did was working against me and the truth. You are my friend. You’re the only real friend I’ve ever had.”

She stared at him and gave him a small smile. She felt the pain dissipating. She no longer cared about Diana Fowley or believed she still had some kind of hold on Mulder. She wanted to tell Mulder how she truly felt, tell him that she loved him. But she could feel the fear and doubt rising up. He thought of her as a friend. He’d made no inclination that he thought of her any other way. She waited for Mulder to make that move, to make that step that crossed the line between them. He had to be the one to do it.

Mulder’s heart pounded in his chest and his stomach filled with butterflies. He wanted to take her in his arms. He wanted to run from the room. He wanted to grab her up onto the table, shove her robe aside and sink his rock hard member into her hot, wet center. He wanted to leave her apartment immediately.

He pulled his hand from Scully’s. “Thanks for the beer. And thanks for listening to me. I should go, it’s getting late.”

She walked with him to her apartment door. They said goodnight, and made plans to see each other for brunch on Sunday in Alexandria.

…Mulder walked past her and into her living room. “Get dressed, Scully, and pack a bag. We’ve got to go to Arizona.”

“Arizona?” She looked at him, puzzled. “Why?”

“Special Agent Pysnack of the Phoenix field office called about an hour ago. Last night someone went on a shooting spree in the small town of Ajo, Arizona and killed six people. A suspect, one Harold Kennedy, was apprehended about an hour later by the local police, who then called the FBI field office. The FBI sent a team down to look into it, and apparently Mr. Kennedy is saying he has no memory of killing those people because aliens abducted him and took control of his mind.”

Scully stared. “Well, the man is obviously crazy.”

“Maybe he is. But is he crazy-crazy? Or did the alien abductions make him crazy?” Mulder replied.

She arched an eyebrow at him.

“He’s offered some very specific information about his abduction experiences, including tests, metal implants, lost time. The Phoenix field office wants us to handle it.”

“Oh, I’m sure they do,” she quipped, dryly.

“Come on, Scully. We’ve got to get out there,” Mulder said hurriedly.

She frowned. “But it’s the weekend, Mulder.”

He stared. “What’s your point?”

She shot an incredulous look at him.

“Scully, when was the last time we worked a real case? Come on, let’s get going. Our flight leaves at 9:20.”

She sighed. Was this really what her life had become? Never just standing still for a moment, and enjoying a simple existence. Was she forever going to be running, chasing, searching? And then coming home to an empty life, a life without a family of her own? Coming home to an empty apartment, and no one to share her life with? Would Mulder ever want to stop and just spend some real time with her, time that didn’t involve monsters and aliens and nefarious government organizations? She thought about refusing him, about finally putting her foot down and demanding some kind of normalcy for herself.

“Scully, the Phoenix field office requested our help. I don’t want to go out there alone.”

She looked at his puppy dog expression, and her resolve weakened. Dammit. She wanted to refuse him, but she knew she couldn’t. She knew she’d follow him anywhere.

*****

After an hour layover in Houston, they had arrived in Arizona around 12:50 pm local time. After collecting a rental car, they met with Agent Pysnack at the FBI field office who gave them all the information he had on Harold Kennedy as well as briefed them on the background information on all six victims. Kennedy was currently being held in the jail of the Pima County Sheriff’s Department in Ajo.

A two-hour drive south of Phoenix brought them to Ajo, Arizona, a town with a population of less than 3,500. Before heading to the county jail, they went directly to Kennedy’s home on West 9th Street. Agent Pysnack had told them that the local police had confiscated several assault rifles from his backyard shed. Mulder wanted to gather as much information about Kennedy as he could before interviewing him. It was a small, one-level single family home with sparse landscaping and three bedrooms that Kennedy had bought several years ago for only $16,000. Kennedy wasn’t married and he had no children. The house looked lived in and empty at the same time. There were no photos, or other personal touches around the house.

As Mulder and Scully walked into the home office, they were greeted by walls covered in newspaper clippings and magazine articles about the occult, aliens, abductions, reports of satanic cult activities. The book shelves contained post-apocalyptic novels, non-fiction books about Area 51 and the history of UFO crashes, America’s top secret military projects, extraterrestrial encounters, and reported satanic cult killings.

She held up the book Demonic Conspiracies throughout History to show Mulder, and gave him a blank stare. He shook his head.

“He’s definitely crazy, Scully,” he said while looking through the bookshelves. She sighed, shaking her head and closing her eyes. She couldn’t believe she was spending her precious Saturday in this room.

They found a box filled with VHS tapes and took it out to the living room. They proceeded to watch several tapes with Kennedy recounting his experiences of being abducted by aliens. One video was something he’d recorded of himself outdoors at night because he felt the alien implants were directing him to a secret satanic ritual somewhere out in the desert.

“This just looks like a knockoff of The Blair Witch Project, Mulder.”

He sighed. “Time to go see Mr. Kennedy.”

It was almost 5:30 pm when Scully and Mulder got into their rental car and headed to the county jail. The interview of Harold Kennedy didn’t go over very well. One minute, he was claiming that alien mind control took over him and told him to start shooting out in the open street upon unsuspecting citizens. The next minute, he claimed he had been a victim of satanic cult abuse and had been possessed by the Devil. Of course, there was no actual proof of any of this. Mulder even used a wand metal detector, but no implants could be detected. By the time Kennedy had changed his story to aliens and satanic cultists being in cahoots, Mulder had heard enough. He informed the Phoenix field office that there wasn’t anything for him to do and the local police could handle it.

Mulder and Scully sat in their rental car in the parking lot of the Sheriff’s department. She sat, shaking her head. What a waste of a perfectly good weekend. He cleared his throat. “Okay, so he was actually crazy. For real crazy. Do you think the Phoenix bureau called me as a joke?”

Scully sighed, clicked one of the overhead lights, and opened the file on her lap. “He was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia in July 1990. He stopped taking his medication eight months ago.”

Mulder sighed and looked at the clock on the dashboard; it was 9:17 pm. He pulled out his cell phone and called headquarters about getting a flight back to D.C. After a few minutes, he hung up and turned towards her.

“The next flight out with two seats available isn’t until 1:25 am and doesn’t get into D.C. until just after 1:00 pm on Sunday. There’s a three-hour layover in Charlotte.”

Scully looked horrified. She hated long layovers. She hated red eye flights. They always left her exhausted and her body clock screwed up. “When’s the next flight?”

“It leaves at 5:00 am and gets into D.C. at 3:15 pm with a one-hour layover in Denver. But there’s a 7:00 am direct flight available that gets into D.C. at 2:05.”

Scully thought about it. There goes church and brunch with the family, but maybe they could meet up for an early dinner. “Okay, let’s take the 7:00 flight. But right now I’m starving. Let’s find somewhere to eat.”

Mulder and Scully found an authentic Mexican café that was still open and they sat at an outdoor table. The tables inside with the air conditioning were all filled up. The outdoor seating area was lit with small red and green Christmas lights strung along the patio awning. Mexican folk music could be heard playing from speakers that were hung up in the corners.

When their waitress came over, they each ordered two chile verde tamales and ice water. Mulder removed his tie, unbuttoned the top several buttons of his shirt and rolled up his sleeves to his elbows. “It’s hotter than hell out here, Scully. And it’s dark out now. Night has fallen. And have you looked at the thermometer over there? It’s 87 degrees.”

“I know,” she said. “I’m sweating to death over here.”

When their food arrived, they ate in comfortable silence. After Scully had finished her last bite of her second tamale, she groaned in appreciation. “Mulder…”

“I know. They’re fucking delicious.”

“This was worth coming all the way out here,” she said, wiping her mouth with her napkin.

Mulder looked at her. “So you don’t wish you’d stayed home?”

She smiled at him. “No.”

He smiled in return.

Mulder found a motel close by where they decided to stay the night and get a few hours of sleep. It was after 10:30 pm. They decided get up early and drive to Phoenix in the morning. They checked in and were given two rooms. Mulder stood outside while Scully unlocked her motel room door and stepped inside.

She took one look around the room, and then turned an annoyed look on him. The room had stained, faded orange carpeting that clashed with the glaringly bright-colored paisley-patterned comforter on the bed. The room was hot and the air inside felt stifling.

“For just once, Mulder, can we not stay in a place that has hourly rates?”

He grinned at her. “We gotta stay within the FBI’s allotted accommodations budget.”

Scully groaned as she shut the door behind her, while Mulder walked next door to his own room. He turned on the A/C unit in the room and it started blowing hot air. Hopefully it would only take a minute to start cooling. He took a cold shower, and then pulled on a pair of gym shorts. When he walked back out to the room, the air was just as hot as ever. He went over to the A/C unit and tried fiddling with it, but no cool air was coming. He called the front desk and complained. The receptionist knew about the problem, but they had run out of coolant and wouldn’t be able to get any more until the hardware store opened in the morning. Mulder asked for another room, but they were all booked up right now. But a room might be available in an hour or two, “depending on when the occupants finish up… doing whatever they’re doing.” Mulder sighed and hung up the phone. The heat and stuffy air of his room was unbearable. He tried to open the windows to let some air in, but they were bolted shut.

He went back outside and knocked on Scully’s door.

“Who is it?”

“Um, Scully… is your A/C working?”

“Yeah. Isn’t yours?” she asked through the door.

“No, it’s only blowing hot air,” Mulder replied, exasperated.

“Do you want to stay in here with me?” Scully asked.

“Really?” He was surprised that he didn’t have to ask and that she didn’t hesitate to offer.

Scully chuckled. “Yes, of course. You won’t get any sleep in a hot room. Go get your stuff.”

Mulder smiled. “Go team,” he said through the door.

She laughed.

Mulder went next door to grab his things. When he came back she had unlocked the door, and he stepped inside. As he shut the door and locked it behind him, dropping his bag on the floor next to him, he closed his eyes and leaned back against the door, feeling the immediate relief of the cool air.

“Beautiful,” he sighed.

He opened his eyes and saw Scully standing there, looking like she’d just showered herself, wearing ankle socks, black cotton shorts, and a white tank top. He noticed she wasn’t wearing a bra. Beautiful. Um… maybe this was a bad idea.

As Mulder kicked off his sneakers, she stared at him and blinked. He was only wearing shorts and a pair of socks. She stared at his long legs, his firm and flat stomach, his sculpted chest with the perfect amount of soft curls, his collar bones and up to his neck. She could feel her face burning.

She turned around to look for the TV remote, anything to distract herself. Mulder made his way over to stand in front of the A/C unit. He watched Scully move around the room, watched her smooth legs and watched her breasts moving freely underneath her tank top. He wanted to touch her so badly. He felt his cock twitch beneath his shorts. Calm down, you worthless fuck. Bad idea. This was such a bad idea.

Scully turned on the TV and then set the remote down on the left bedside table. She loosened up the sheets from the corners and fluffed the pillows. She had pulled off the ugly comforter and laid it in a pile across the floor at the foot of the bed. She walked around to the right side of the bed, in front of where Mulder was standing by the A/C, and lay down, pulling the sheet over herself and turning so her back was to him. Her stomach was filled with butterflies. She wanted to have a real talk with Mulder, tell him how she felt, tell him what she wanted. But she was afraid; afraid of rejection, afraid of acceptance. She wished she could find the courage to speak up.

“Um, Scully. I think I’ll sleep on the floor.”

“The floor is disgusting, Mulder. But it would serve you right for picking this shithole for us to stay in.”

He chuckled and nodded his head. He shut off the lights, and walked around to the left side of the bed. He lay down on top of the sheet, stretching his legs out in front of him, and shut off the TV.

“Don’t you want to watch TV?” Scully asked, sleepily.

“Nah.”

“But don’t you usually fall asleep with the TV on? I don’t mind, really.”

“Yeah, but I don’t need to have the TV on now,” he said. “Because you’re here.”

Scully smiled to herself in the dark. “Will you talk to me until I fall asleep?” she yawned.

Mulder turned to lie on his right side and face her. “Sure. What do you want me to talk about?”

“Tell me your story about the Queen Anne and the Nazis and Thor’s Hammer and how I saved the world. I’ll be out like a light in no time.” She started giggling.

He stared at her, trying hard not to grin. “Very funny, Scully.”

She kept giggling. But it was infectious and soon he was laughing too. His laughter was the last thing she could remember hearing before drifting to sleep. When they awoke to the alarm sounding off just four hours later at 3:30 am, they were in the same position they had fallen asleep in, each lying on their sides and facing each other, except at some time during the night Mulder’s hand had found Scully’s and he was holding it tight.

*****

Thankfully, their flight had no delays and they arrived on time in D.C. at 2:05 pm on Sunday. Mulder had agreed to drive Scully to her mother’s house in Alexandria. Charlie and Jennifer and their kids were there. When they arrived at the house, Mrs. Scully came outside and invited Mulder to stay. To Scully’s happy surprise, he accepted the invitation and followed her into the house.

“I’m sorry about keeping Dana from church and brunch today, Mrs. Scully,” Mulder said as he entered the house.

“Oh, that’s okay, Fox. I’m sure it was important.”

Scully made eye contact with Mulder and smirked, her eyes laughing. He gazed at her and fought hard to stop himself from grinning.

“Yeah, we were checking out a case in Arizona,” Mulder replied to Mrs. Scully.

At this, Charlie walked into the room and held out his hand toward Mulder. “Anything exciting?”

He shook Charlie’s hand. “Just some lunatic that went on a shooting spree.”

“Oh yeah, I think I saw something about that on CNN,” Charlie said.

Charlie then walked over to Scully and gave her a hug. “Jennifer and the boys are in the backyard.”

Mulder watched her and her mother make their way to the kitchen. “Can I get you a beer, Mulder?” Charlie asked.

“Yeah, sure. Thanks,” he replied.

Mulder and Charlie sat at the kitchen table and talked, while Mulder occasionally looked out the window to the backyard and watched Scully sitting at the picnic table with her mother and sister-in-law. He saw that the two boys, Ben and Jack, were racing remote control cars around the yard. Mulder also noticed that Jennifer’s pregnancy was showing.

A couple hours later, they all sat around Mrs. Scully’s dining room table. She had baked her famous lasagna and meatballs. Scully listened to Charlie and Jennifer talk about getting things ready for the upcoming school year; back to school shopping for the boys, meeting with the parents of her new kindergarten students, meeting with the players from last year’s basketball team and their parents. They talked about PTA meetings, the pregnancy, planning a nursery, planning for Jennifer’s upcoming maternity leave. They talked about their neighbors and dealing with a tree that had fallen into their yard. She listened to them talk about all the small things that combine to make up their life together.

Scully also listened to Mulder talk about the X-Files cases they’d worked on together with just as much enthusiasm as her brother and sister-in-law talked about their simple life. The boys would gasp or laugh at Mulder’s stories, unable to believe what they were hearing, sometimes breaking into Mulder’s commentary with their own exclamations of how cool or gross something was. Mulder would just smile. Charlie and Jennifer listened intently to him, asked questions, laughed, made disgusted or shocked faces, and basically just seemed genuinely interested in his work.

As Scully sat listening to both parties discuss their lives, she realized that neither life interested her in the long-term. To leave the X-Files to live a mundane life in the suburbs where the only exciting thing to happen was a neighbor’s tree falling into your yard would be boring as hell. How could she ever go back to a normal life after everything she’s done? The life Mulder leads would never really be boring, even if their investigations turned up nothing, like the one in Arizona. She liked being with Mulder, and it really didn’t matter what they were doing (although the accommodations could be better). But the thought of always living alone, without a family and without love, with absolutely nothing going on in her life other than some weird thing Mulder wants to investigate isn’t the life she wants either.

But a combination of the two might not be so bad. Having an exciting life filled with purpose, filled with strange and new discoveries, saving lives and administering justice; that was at the same time the opposite of lonely, that was a life filled with love and personal satisfaction – this was the life she wanted. But was it the life Mulder wanted? Would she always be alone? Would she ever strike up the courage to tell him how she feels? Or would Mulder ever want her and then do something about it? Is this really it? Is this all her life will ever be? Stop it, Dana. Scully reprimanded herself, telling herself that she'd be happy to accept whatever Mulder was willing to give her. If that didn't include love and sex, then so be it. She had to come to terms with the fact that friendship was the best she could hope for.

But would she forever be going home to an empty apartment, with no one there who loves her? No child of her own? Was motherhood really lost to her forever? Sometimes she still found it hard to believe.

Chapter Text

On Monday afternoon, August 30th, Mulder and Scully walked into Skinner’s office.

“You wanted to see us, sir?” Scully asked, as they walked through the door.

“Yes, take a seat,” Skinner replied.

Mulder and Scully sat in the two chairs facing Skinner’s desk.

“A couple things I wanted to talk to you about,” Skinner said as he grabbed a manila envelope from the right side of his desk and set it down in front of him. “First, the field office in Phoenix sends their thanks for getting a confession out of Harold Kennedy.”

He gave Skinner a skeptical look. “I was under the impression that I did absolutely nothing worthwhile out there.” He glanced sideways at Scully, and saw she was chewing her bottom lip and staring at her entwined hands in her lap. He furrowed his brows. Did he say something wrong?

“On the contrary,” said Skinner. “When they arrested Kennedy he told them he had no memory of anything over the previous 12 hours due to… uh… alien mind control.”

She rolled her eyes. He snorted.

“The boys called you in and Kennedy started singing like jailbird,” Skinner continued. “Early on Sunday morning they found the murder weapon, an assault rifle, under a sewer grate just five blocks from the crime scene. His prints were all over it. Kennedy is set for arraignment in Arizona Superior Court in Pima County.”

He nodded his head.

Skinned sighed. “And speaking of court, the District of Columbia v. Bernard Oates trial is set to start next Monday, unless there’s another postponement. The prosecution wants to meet with you both again this week. I suggest you review your report on the attempted bank robbery and the death of Pamela Hamilton. And the prosecution requests that you make no more references to Groundhog Day.”

He pursed his lips.

“Is there a problem, Agent Mulder?” Skinner asked, tersely. “The prosecution wants to win this case. Bernard Oates is guilty. He needs to be put away, and they don’t want you ruining your credibility as a witness by getting on the stand and saying that Pamela Hamilton was stuck living that day over and over again. That’s not even relevant to Oates’ guilt.”

He sighed. Scully glanced at him sympathetically.

“Anyways, they’re not sure how long the trial is going to last,” said Skinner. “Oates pleaded not guilty and so far he’s resisted any attempts at a settlement. He wants a full-fledged trial by a jury of his peers. So I suggest that you two not take any more cases for the time-being, until your part in the direct and cross examinations is concluded.”

Mulder balked. He felt like he hadn’t accomplished anything since he’d come back to work from medical leave. He felt stuck, like he was running around in circles and never getting anywhere.

Skinner eyed him thoughtfully. “I had a department head meeting this morning. The Deputy Director wasn’t very amused with the gift you sent to his office.”

Mulder smirked. “Why? I just felt that the Deputy Director should know that his decision to send us on that team building retreat yielded good results.”

Scully glanced down at her lap and smiled to herself.

Skinner glared at Mulder. “But did you have to send him the trophy wrapped in pink tissue paper and tied with a ribbon?”

Scully’s mouth flew open in shock, and she started laughing in disbelief (“Oh, my God.”), and then covered her face with her hand while she shook her head. Mulder shot her a sideways look and grinned, before returning to stare resolutely at Skinner.

Skinner sighed. “Mulder, are you purposely trying to piss off the wrong people? Don’t pull another stunt like that again.”

He glowered at Skinner, and Scully glanced nervously between them.

“You may go now, agents,” Skinner said brusquely.

Mulder and Scully walked out of Skinner’s office in silence. When they got out to the hallway, he stared pointedly at her. “You sure were quiet in there.”

“What was I supposed to say?” she asked, as they walked down the hallway toward the elevator.

Mulder shook his head and shrugged his shoulders, defeated. Scully chuckled. “Did you really wrap the trophy in pink tissue paper?”

“Yep, and I tied it with white ribbons. You know... the gift wrap kind with the curls.”

She shook her head in disbelief. “The Deputy Director is going to get you back for that, I hope you know. But no one can ever say that you don’t have balls, Mulder.”

He grinned down at her. She smiled back.

They stepped into an empty elevator, and Mulder pressed the ‘B’ button. The elevator stopped on the third floor, and some agents and administrative staff stepped on. Scully stepped to the side to stand in front of him to make room for the others in the now packed compartment. As the elevator resumed its descent, he glanced around and noticed a couple of male agents, in their mid to late 30’s, staring at Scully. One of them leaned over and whispered something to the other. They both chuckled under their breath, and then returned their gaze back to her. He scowled.

When the elevator stopped on the first floor, everyone in the elevator, apart from Mulder and Scully, started to exit. As the two agents started to make their way out, one of them turned and asked “How’s life in the basement treating you, Spooky?”

Mulder noticed Scully tensing up and her posture going stiff. But she stared firmly at the elevator panel in front of her. He turned to look at the agent and glared.

His companion, the other agent, glanced at Scully again. “I’d say it’s going pretty good, wouldn’t you? I sure wouldn’t mind being down there under certain circumstances. It must have its privileges.”

They smirked at Scully as they exited the elevator, but she refused to look at them. After the doors closed, she looked back at Mulder and rolled her eyes. But he wasn’t taking it all in stride as she was doing. He felt flooded by too many emotions at once; anger, annoyance, guilt, shame. What had he done to her, her career and her reputation? He suddenly felt sick of himself, and fervently hoped that she didn’t feel the same.

*****

Just before 8:00 am on Tuesday morning, Scully arrived at Capital Women’s Care for her annual pelvic exam. She started to fill out the familiar questionnaire about her medical history, sexual activity, and menstrual cycle. It served as a shitty reminder each year of the state her life was in; the only reason she was cancer-free was because of that chip in her neck, she was barren and couldn’t remember when her last period was. Two months ago? Maybe three? And she wasn’t having any sex. Three cheers for Team Scully.

After the pelvic exam, pap smear, and clinical breast examination concluded and she got dressed, her gynecologist Dr. Patricia Rausch sat down with her in the exam room.

“Okay, Dana. I just wanted to go over the results of your blood tests you had done at the lab yesterday morning.”

Scully nodded.

“Your key hormone levels are all normal; your progesterone, FSH, LH, E2, and AMH levels all look good. So that’s great news. Amazing news, really.”

Scully gave a puzzled look. “Why is that?”

“Well, you were diagnosed with premature ovarian failure two years ago, but in fact it says here in your chart that you believe this had actually first occurred back in November 1994.”

“Yes.”

Dr. Rausch gave her a pointed look. “You’ve had POF for almost five years now and it seems as though you have yet to experience the onset of premature menopause. Are you experiencing any mood changes, hot flashes or night sweats? Vaginal dryness? Decreased interest in sex?”

Scully sighed. “No.”

Dr. Rausch looked at her carefully. “Hmm. As you know, due to your POF we also have to test for any signs of osteoporosis, hypothyroidism, Addison's disease and other auto-immune disorders, and heart disease. But your blood tests all came back fine. It appears that you are in perfect health, despite the fact that your ovaries no longer produce eggs.”

Scully furrowed her brows. “Is that strange?”

“Well…,” Dr. Rausch paused. “not exactly, no. But I can’t possibly begin to explain why your ovaries have failed without any signs of the usual causes or the fact that after five years you don’t have any of the adverse symptoms that accompany the diagnosis of POF.”

Scully shook her head slightly and sighed. “I can’t explain it either.”

Dr. Rausch gave her a small smile. “Okay, well that’s all I have for you. Before you leave, make sure you schedule your six-month appointment.”

Dr. Rausch left the room. Scully grabbed her bag. She always felt irritated that she had to return six months later just to have her blood pressure taken and her urine tested. She walked out to the waiting area and stood at the receptionist’s desk. A woman in her early to mid 40’s with curly blond hair and brown eyes pushed aside the glass partition. She noticed that her name tag said “Connie.”

“You need to schedule your six-month?” Connie asked, greeting Scully with a big smile.

“Yeah,” Scully replied.

Connie made a few clicks on her computer. “February is all booked up. How about March?”

“That’s fine.”

“Is there a day of the week that you prefer?” Connie asked.

“Not really.”

“How about a time?”

“As early in the morning as possible,” Scully replied.

“How about Monday, March 6th at 8:00 am?” asked Connie.

“That works,” Scully said.

“Okay, we’ll see you then!” Connie said brightly.

Scully blinked, and then gave Connie a halfhearted smile before walking out of the office. She had planned on hailing a taxi, but it was a beautiful day and she started walking. It was only a 30 minute walk to FBI headquarters from Capital Women’s Care on K Street.

As she walked down Pennsylvania Avenue and around the President’s Park towards the Hoover Building, she grew more and more depressed. She thought of her long phone call the night before with Tara, who was excited over the twins. She had found out she was having two girls and was gushing over baby clothes, nursery designs, names, and all the little things expectant mothers think about and plan for. Tara and Bill had tried for years to get pregnant, and finally Matthew arrived. But the road to his arrival had been difficult and emotional. Tara wasn’t up for more years of struggle, and so she tried in vitro this time around. She was immediately blessed with two daughters who would be arriving in just two short months.

She thought of Charlie and Jennifer, who had tried a long time ago for a third child, but it had never happened and after two years of trying, they stopped. They decided that a third child just wasn’t meant to be, and they were content with their two beautiful boys. Then suddenly, without trying or even thinking about it at all, another baby was on the way. In the years after Melissa was killed, Scully would sometimes have vague, fleeting thoughts of hoping to name a daughter after her sister someday. The same had been true after her father’s death, and her hopes for a son in some unknown future that lay ahead of her.

But all that had changed two years ago when she learned she’d never be able to conceive a child. Now, when Scully thought of the future, there wasn’t much hope or security there. Several months ago, she had told Phillip Padgett that loneliness was a choice. But whose choice was she living? Did she choose to be lonely? Or did Mulder choose for her? Deep down, she craved unconditional love and was tired of being alone. She didn’t want to be lonely, but she was.

Scully then thought of Kresge, and knew that she didn’t have to be lonely. She could easily find sex and companionship whenever she wanted it. But she didn’t want just sex or just anyone to fill up her time. She wanted Mulder. There was no one on earth more perfect for her than him. She'd never be happy with anyone but him. So she’d rather be alone than have anyone but Mulder. And so, yes, she supposed loneliness was really a choice she herself had made.

*****

At 8:15 am on Tuesday morning, he unlocked the basement office door and walked over to his desk. He checked his emails and voicemail. There was a message for Mulder and Scully from the U.S. Attorney’s office informing them that the prosecutor for the Bernard Oates case, Assistant U.S. Attorney Ms. Stephanie Speno, would be coming by headquarters that morning at 10:00 am to meet with them. Mulder sighed.

Just after 8:30 footsteps could be heard in the hall approaching the office and Mulder smiled. But after a couple seconds he knew the footsteps couldn’t be Scully. It was a courier with the inter-departmental mail. The young woman handed Mulder the familiar yellow envelope and left the office. Mulder opened it and read a notice from the Finance Division informing them that the reimbursement form from their trip to Arizona had been sent to the Phoenix field office for verification. Blah, blah, blah. Where was Scully?

Mulder got up and pulled the file on Bernard Oates and Pamela Hamilton from one of the filing cabinets, and sat back down at the desk. While reading the case report, every couple minutes he’d glance at his watch and then at the clock at the wall. He drummed his fingers on the desk. He leaned back in the chair and sighed. The clock read 9:12 am. Where in the world was Scully? Mulder picked up the phone and dialed her cell phone. Straight to voicemail. He then called her at home. No answer and got the machine. Mulder hung up the phone and sighed again. He hoped she would show up by 10:00, but it's not like her to be so late. Mulder started to feel panic slowly rising in his gut, and he left the office to go look for her.

He rode the elevator to the fourth floor and walked to Skinner’s office. He asked Skinner’s secretary Kimberly if she had seen Scully at all that morning, but she hadn’t. Mulder walked back out to the hall and checked his watch; it was 9:26 am. He called her cell phone and her home phone again. No answer. Mulder stood there thinking with his hands on his hips. He remembered that last fall, when they were stuck working under Kersh, she had gotten kind of friendly with Agent Natalie Black who worked in the FBI bullpen on the third floor. She had occasionally met up with Natalie for coffee. He thought they might’ve even gone out to lunch a couple times. Mulder walked back to the elevator and pushed the down button.

He walked into the third floor bullpen and scanned the room for Agent Black. He was trying to remember what she looked like. He chided himself on not paying enough attention at the time.

“Agent Mulder?”

He turned to see a very pretty woman smiling at him. Mulder thought she couldn’t be older than 25 or 26. With her high heels on, she was just a couple inches shorter than him. Her long dark brown hair was held back from her face by an elastic band and was splayed across her shoulder. Her chocolate brown eyes obviously looked very happy to see him. Mulder remembered her now.

“Agent Black.”

“That’s me,” she said, still smiling, and stepping closer until she was standing just inches in front of him. Mulder had to take a step backwards. “But I told you to call me Natalie. What brings you down to the bullpen? Or should I say up? I haven’t seen your face around here in a long time.” She was still smiling at him.

He gave her a blank stare. “Um, yeah… have you seen Agent Scully? I can’t find her.”

Agent Black frowned. “No, I haven’t seen Agent Scully since a few weeks ago. I told her to say hello to you for me. I hope she remembered.” Agent Black was smiling again.

Mulder blinked. “Okay, well, thanks anyways. If you see her, tell her I’m looking for her.” He turned and quickly walked away back to the elevators. He pushed the down button to head back to the basement.

*****

Scully walked through the employee entrance to FBI headquarters, and then downstairs to the basement. The office door was locked. She went inside and set her bag down. Mulder wasn’t around. She noticed the file on Bernard Oates lying open on the desk. She picked up the phone and checked their voicemail. After listening to the message from the U.S. Attorney’s office, she hung up. She glanced at the clock, it was just past 9:30. Maybe Mulder had gone to see Skinner before their meeting with the prosecutor. She locked the office behind her and walked to the elevator.

She rode the elevator to the fourth floor and made her way to Skinner’s office. When she walked in, she was greeted by Skinner’s secretary who told her that Mulder was looking for her.

“Is Agent Mulder in with AD Skinner?” Scully asked.

“No, Agent Mulder left,” Kimberly replied.

“Okay,” she said, and turned to leave.

“Oh, Agent Scully,” Kimberly said, raising her voice slightly. Scully turned back to face her. “The meeting with the Assistant U.S. Attorney has been pushed to 10:15. The Assistant Director said that conference room 4-C down the hall will be available for your use.”

“Okay, thank you,” she replied, and walked out of the office.

Scully walked back to the elevator and pushed the down button.

On her way back down to the basement, the elevator doors opened on the third floor. Mulder turned around at the sound of the elevator, and greeted her with a look of relieved surprise.

“There you are. I've been looking all over for you,” he said, getting onto the elevator.

“Hi. Um… I'm sorry," she replied, averting her eyes from his gaze. "I had a doctor's appointment and… um… I don't know, I guess time just got away from me."

Mulder looked down at her, slightly worried. “Is anything the matter?”

“Nothing,” Scully said, still not looking at him. “No, I just… uh… went for a walk.”

He could tell something was bothering her, and he didn’t want to press her too hard into talking about whatever it is, but he felt that panicked feeling returning. “Hmm… then what’s wrong?”

She sighed. She had always tried to avoid this subject with him, and with everyone, really. But why? He was her dearest friend. Maybe she should take steps to share more of herself with him. She wanted them to be closer. She wanted things to change. But that would never happen if she was forever holding back.

“I'm sorry I haven't told you,” Scully said after a pause. “I don't know why I haven't. I mean, you were always there for me during my illness, but… um…”

Mulder was trying not to panic. She wasn’t making eye contact with him. His brain started coming up with horrible implications. What had the doctor told her? Was she sick? It couldn’t possibly be cancer again, could it? She was cured. What could it be? Something was definitely wrong. He leaned in closer to her, and spoke softly, not wanting to alarm her with the storm of anxiety that was now raging in his mind. “Don’t make me guess.”

“I was left unable to conceive with whatever tests that they did on me,” Scully quietly replied. “And I am… not ready to accept that I will never have children.” She couldn’t even look at him as she said the words. She wished it wasn’t so hard to open up and share her real feelings. It left her feeling embarrassed. She had always felt she had to be the strong one. She didn’t want Mulder to pity her.

He stared at the floor. The panicked feeling was gone, but had been replaced with guilt flooding his stomach. He thought of the Lombard facility where the Kurt Crawfords had showed him the stored ova. He thought of sitting in front of that judge almost two years ago to speak for Scully so she could gain custody of Emily. He remembered something that he had never told her. She deserved to know.

The elevator doors opened to the basement. He stepped out and turned to look at her. “Scully, there's, um… there's something I haven't told you either and I hope you… uh… forgive me and understand why I would have kept it from you.”

“What?” She couldn’t possibly guess what he was talking about. Her stomach was in knots. She had known for years that Mulder was prone to being secretive at times, to keeping things from her and only telling her parts of the whole.

“During my investigation into your illness I found out the reason why you were left barren. Your ova were taken from you and stored in a government lab.”

“What?!” Scully replied. “You found them?” She knew that her ova had been taken from her during her abduction. He had said as much when Emily had been discovered. But he had never told her that he had actually found her stolen ova.

“I took them directly to a specialist who would tell me if they were okay,” Mulder said. He could see she was getting upset. He had never wanted to tell her. He had wanted to protect her.

“I don’t believe this,” she said. How could he have kept something like this from her?

“Scully, you were deathly ill and I... I couldn't bear to give you another piece of bad news.” The guilt was crushing him. She didn’t deserve to suffer any more than she already had. He should’ve told her before. Or maybe he never should’ve opened his mouth. Now he was just reopening wounds. He's a worthless piece of shit.

She could feel the tears welling up. She didn’t want to cry in front of him, make him pity her any more than he already did. “Is that what it was? It was bad news?”

“The doctor said that the ova weren't viable.” Mulder wanted the earth to open up and swallow him.

Scully seethed. She wanted to scream at him for keeping secrets, for not telling her something so important. And where had he been keeping her eggs all these years? In his freezer next to the frozen peas? For fuck’s sake.

She glared at him. “I want a second opinion.” Who knows what quack he had taken her ova to? She pushed the button for the fourth floor, and the doors started to close.

Mulder reached out and threw his hands to the elevator doors to stop them from closing. He didn’t know what to say. She was angry. He looked at her imploringly. He needed her to forgive him. But she could barely even look at him. He let go of the doors and let them close.

The meeting with the Assistant U.S. Attorney had been extremely uncomfortable. Scully refused to look at or speak to Mulder, and he wanted to be anywhere but in that conference room. He knew that she had been angry with him before, many times even. But this was different, he could feel it. He could sense her indignation as though it was seeping from her pores. After the meeting, he started to make his way to the elevator to head back down to the basement. He sensed that Scully wasn’t with him, and turned to see her walking into Skinner’s office without saying so much as a word to him. He thought it was the perfect time to take his lunch break. He walked to his favorite deli and bought a sandwich and a coke, but he couldn’t eat. His stomach was in knots.

How could he make this right? He should apologize again. Tell her again of why he couldn’t tell her the truth before. He couldn't stand to see her in pain. He wished nothing or no one would ever be able to hurt her. He wanted to keep everything evil and painful in this world as far away from her as possible. He loved her, and it broke his heart to see her suffer. He wanted to tell her all this, but maybe it would make her even angrier. She always balked at his protection, accusing him of not believing her to be capable. He knew she could take care of herself. He knew she didn’t need him, and she’d probably never want him now. He's one sorry son of a bitch.

When Mulder returned to the basement office after sitting at the deli for an hour, not eating, he found it empty. Maybe Scully had decided to take her lunch too. Maybe she waited until she knew he was in the building, so she could avoid him when she left. The office phone rang, and he picked it up.

“Hello.”

“Agent Mulder?” spoke a familiar female voice.

“Yes?”

“Assistant Director Skinner would like to see you as soon as possible.”

He now recognized the voice as belonging to Skinner’s secretary. “Sure thing. Tell him I’ll be right up.”

Mulder made his way back to the fourth floor and to Skinner’s office. When he walked in, he was half expecting Scully to be there, but no one was there besides Skinner and himself. Skinner directed him to take a seat in one of the chairs in front of his desk.

Skinner eyed him, and paused. “Agent Scully stopped in to see me after your meeting with Ms. Speno. She left for the day, and she’s decided to take some personal time. She’ll be out the rest of the week. But she said she’d have no problem being at the district court on Monday for the start of the Bernard Oates trial.”

He stared. He felt panic rising in his gut again.

“Are you alright, Agent Mulder? I’m sure you’ll be able to handle things by yourself for the rest of the week. Right?”

He blinked. “Yeah. Fine.”

He then got up and walked quickly out of the office, ignoring Skinner’s calls for him to come back. When he arrived back in the basement office, he noticed he had a voicemail on the office phone. He picked up the receiver and pressed the button that was lit up with a small red light.

“It’s me. I’m taking the rest of the week off. I just need some time to myself. It’s probably good that we spend some time apart, anyways. I’ll be at the courthouse on Monday morning. Oh, and could you call me back and give me the name of that specialist who’s been in possession of my stolen ova for the past two and a half years? I won’t answer the phone, so just leave a message with the name.”

Mulder hung up the phone, and sat at his desk with his head in his hands. ‘Spend some time apart?’ The panicked feeling was giving way to nausea. He couldn’t lose her over this, could he?

Chapter Text

On Wednesday morning, September 1st, Scully made her way to the Columbia Fertility Specialists on M Street in downtown D.C. After waiting in the reception area for close to 20 minutes, she was met with a Dr. Rafat Khan. She followed him back to his office and sat in a cream-colored chair in front of his desk.

“Okay,” Dr. Khan said, after sitting down, and began reading off a clipboard that was in front of him on the desk. “I have your information here. We received the already-frozen vial of your ova on February 8, 1997. I verified that the frozen ova weren’t viable for insemination and IVF. Mr. Fox Mulder, your partner, asked that we store them with our egg bank. I told him it wasn’t necessary to store them, as the ova couldn’t be used for anything. But he insisted.”

She sighed. “And you still have them?”

“Of course we do,” Dr. Khan sniffed. “Anyways, you said that you wanted a second opinion.”

She noticed that he seemed affronted by her question. She didn’t mean to imply they were incompetent. “Yes, I’d like to have another doctor look into it. See if there’s any chance the ova can still be used.”

Dr. Khan looked at her carefully. “Ms. Scully… Columbia Fertility Specialists is constantly ranked as one of the top fertility centers in the country. Our physicians are board certified in the full spectrum of reproductive medicine, and we have spent years mastering the latest technologies and techniques available so that all of our patients can achieve parenthood. I don’t see how a physician from any other practice will look at your ova and give you a different answer than the one we’ve given you and your partner.”

She nodded. “I just don’t want to miss out on the chance to find out if there are still other options out there.”

Dr. Khan sighed, and looked at her sympathetically. “Well, okay then. We’ll just need you to inform us of the name of the physician you and Mr. Mulder will be using and then we can make arrangements to transfer your frozen ova to their facility.”

Scully blinked. Dr. Khan obviously thought her and Mulder were life partners. “Okay, I’ll let you know as soon as possible.”

She hadn’t found another doctor yet. She was glad to have taken the week off from work so she could devote her time to this. She wanted to be sure she found the right doctor.

Dr. Khan then walked her back out to reception. Right before she was about to say goodbye, Dr. Khan interrupted. “Ms. Scully… Dana, I hope you know that I wish you all the luck in the world. I hope that, if the time comes, you’ll consider coming back to us. We have a wonderful donor egg program here. I know it’s never anyone’s ideal to use an egg from an anonymous donor, but everyone deserves to have their dreams of parenthood come true.”

Scully swallowed. She felt her throat constricting.

Dr. Khan sighed. “I wish you’d seen the look on your partner’s face when I told him the ova weren’t viable. He looked heartbroken. I just want you both to know that there are options available for the two of you.”

Scully blinked back tears. “Thank you, Dr. Khan.” She turned to go, but suddenly thought of something and turned back to the doctor.

“Dr. Khan, what about the fee? How much do I owe you for the ova storage?”

He gave her a puzzled look. “I think your partner already paid August’s bill,” he said before glancing down at the clipboard and lifting the top sheet of paper. “Yes, we got the check on August 14th. There will be no September bill if you transfer your ova by the 6th.”

She didn’t know what to say to this, so she just nodded and said goodbye before turning and leaving the building. Mulder had been paying all this time? He wrote out a check every month for her ova storage in the Columbia Fertility Specialists' egg bank and never once did he think to actually tell her of her ova’s existence? She didn’t know whether to feel touched or angrier than ever.

When she got home, Scully called Capital Women’s Care and asked to speak with her gynecologist, Dr. Rausch, but she wasn’t available. She left a message, and then decided to devote the rest of her day to cleaning her apartment. She scrubbed and polished and vacuumed until she couldn’t scrub, polish, or vacuum anymore. At 1:38 pm, Dr. Rausch was returning her phone call. Scully requested a list of the fertility specialists she recommended to her patients, and Dr. Rausch agreed to mail her the recommendations list by the end of the day.

As the sun set and twilight set in, she showered and sat on her couch. Mulder had made no attempts to contact her other than his brief message on her answering machine Tuesday afternoon telling her he’d used Columbia Fertility Specialists. She thought of everything Dr. Khan had said earlier that day. Maybe she should call Mulder. She was still angry, but she’d rather be angry and telling him she was angry, instead of not talking to him at all. Scully then bolted off the couch, slipped on a pair of shoes, and grabbed her car keys.

*****

Mulder was sitting in the dark on his couch, not bothering with turning on any lights. The television silently displayed images on the screen, but he didn’t try to comprehend what he was actually watching. He’d spent all day at work without Scully and he hated it. She hadn’t called him, not that he really expected her to. Every time he picked up the phone to call her, he reminded himself that she wanted him far away from her. What if over the course of the week she really started thinking? About her life and what he’d done to it? About how her career went down the toilet? Her sister’s murder, her cancer, her infertility? The various psychos and dark government forces who have threatened her life more times than he could count? What if she finally figured it out that he’s not worth it and he never was?

There was a knock at the door. He looked at the clock; it was 8:16 pm. He wasn’t expecting anyone. Instinctively, he grabbed his gun from his top desk drawer and walked towards the door.

Another knock. “Mulder, it’s me.”

He hesitated, but then opened the door to see Scully standing there with damp, wavy hair, and wearing black pants with a purple shirt. He stared at her.

“Can I come in, or what?” she asked testily.

Mulder sighed. “I’m not fit company.”

Scully pursed her lips. “I didn’t come here for company.”

She walked towards him, forcing him to step aside, and into the apartment. He sighed again as he closed his door.

She looked at her surroundings, and saw that no lights were on and the television was on mute. She looked back at him and saw the gun in his hand. Her eyes flew to his face.

Mulder furrowed his brows. “Scully, calm down. I only took the gun out when you knocked.” He walked back over to his desk and set the gun back in its holster, closing the drawer.

She flipped a light switch. There was nothing on the coffee table. She looked at his desk and only saw the computer, telephone, and some books. She glanced into the kitchen and there was nothing on the counters or the stove.

“Mulder, when was the last time you ate something?”

He thought about it. “I had a slice of pizza from Jerry’s at lunch.”

She knitted her brows. “But that was, like, eight hours ago.”

He sighed and sat on the couch. “So?”

She shook her head, and walked into his kitchen. She opened his fridge, rolled her eyes, and then closed it. She then walked over to the desk, sat down, and picked up the telephone.

“Hi, I’d like to place an order for delivery,” she said after she dialed a number.

“I don’t want to eat, Scully,” Mulder said in his dead tone.

She ignored him. “Yeah. One drunken noodles, one Bangkok fried rice with chicken, one papaya salad, and two spring rolls … Mulder … 2630 Hegal Place, #42 … 555-9355 … Okay, thank you.”

Scully hung up the phone. She turned in the chair so she could face him. He was bent over on the couch, his elbows on his knees, and staring at his entwined hands. She sighed, and looked at the floor. They sat like that, in complete silence, for the next 10 minutes. She was waiting for him to speak up, but then it became clear he would not be initiating conversation.

“Why didn’t you tell me about the ova, Mulder?”

He looked up at her. “I told you. You were sick. You were in that hospital in Allentown. Penny Northern had just died. I couldn’t bear the thought of telling you.” She’s still angry. God help him.

Scully nodded. She was trying to control her emotions. She didn’t want to fight. “But then I got better, Mulder. When I found out two years ago about my ovarian failure, you were the first person I told. I didn’t even tell my own mother until months later. Why didn’t you tell me then?”

He swallowed, and looked back at his hands. “I don’t know. I felt guilty, I guess.” Please just kill him now. He didn’t want to talk about this.

She stared at him, anger starting to blaze. She's gonna need a better reason than that. Then she continued, her voice becoming heated. “And when we learned about Emily, you came to San Diego and sat there and told that judge that during my abduction I was subjected to experiments that extracted all of my ova. Something I had no idea of until then, since you had kept that from me. And still, you wouldn’t tell me that you had actually found them, had them tested, and had been paying a bill every month to keep them stored in an egg bank for some unknown reason!”

He couldn’t even look at her. He's a real fucking piece of work. God, what could he say? How could he even put it into words?

“Well?” She had raised her voice now. “Are you going to explain yourself? How could you keep something like that from me? I mean, it’s unbelievable! And for over two years?! How could you, Mulder?!”

He bounded up from the couch. “Scully!” he said, panicking. Then it all came pouring out before he could help it, and he was yelling back at her. “Scully, I couldn’t tell you! I didn’t want to tell you! Because telling you would make it real! And the thought of motherhood being taken away from you because they had abducted you to punish me makes me want to fucking stab myself! The idea of you never being a mother was just too painful! I didn’t want to think about it! I didn’t want to talk about it! I hate myself over it! Is that what you want to hear? Is that explanation enough for you?!”

Mulder fell back onto the couch, elbows once again on his knees, burying his head in his hands. Scully’s eyes filled with tears, and she sat there in stunned silence.

She quickly wiped away her falling tears. She didn’t want him to blame himself. What could she ever say to make him not feel that way? “Mulder,” she said softly, almost a whisper. “It’s not your fault.”

Like hell it’s not.

She waited for a reply, but none came. “Mulder, if the doctor told you that the ova weren’t viable, why would you pay to keep them?”

He sighed, still bent over with his elbows on his knees, not looking at her. “I didn’t want to tell you that I’d found ova that were useless. I thought if I worked hard enough, I’d find the answers to what they did to you and I could fix it somehow. The chip cured your cancer. Maybe there was something out there that would cure your infertility. I wanted to be able to tell you that you could still be a mother.”

Scully’s tears were now starting to flow freely. She got up from the desk, and moved to the couch to sit by Mulder. She snaked her left arm around his right, running the palm of her left hand slowly up his arm until it found his right hand, and threaded her fingers with his, leaning her head against his shoulder, and cried silently.

“I don’t deserve you, Scully,” he whispered.

“Mulder, don’t talk like that.”

“Scully, it’s true. The X-Files are my life. You deserve so much more than that.”

She wiped away her tears with her right hand. “You deserve the same things I do, Mulder. Isn’t there anything you want out of life that isn’t in the X-Files?”

His stomach went into knots. Should he tell her how much he wanted her? How much he needed her? How he couldn't live without her? How much he wanted to make her happy? How much he wanted to fall asleep next to her every night and wake up next to her every morning? How much he wanted to hold her in his arms and feel her skin pressed against his? How much he wanted to please her? Should he tell her how much his heart aches at the thought of losing her, as if his heart would rupture and he’d bleed to death if she ever went away? How he’d do anything to prevent that from happening, even if it meant never taking what he wanted from her?

Mulder sighed. He's a goddamned coward.

A knock at the door signaled their dinner had arrived. He extricated himself from Scully and walked to the door, paid the delivery guy (“You better give him a decent tip, Mulder,” she called out from the couch), and set their dinner on the coffee table. He walked into the kitchen and pulled out two beers from the fridge, then grabbed two plates and silverware, and returned to the living room.

He picked up the TV remote and put the volume back on. “What do you want to watch?”

“Something funny,” she replied. She thought they could both use some laughter.

The clock had just struck 9:00 pm, and Mulder put the television on The Drew Carey Show. “I’m not sure if this qualifies, but I guess it’ll do,” he smirked.

While they ate and watched TV, Scully thought of her question to Mulder and his non-answer. Did he really want nothing else out of life than whatever was in the X-Files? Could she live like that? Forever? She wanted to leave, to go home and cry her eyes out. But she stayed, because maybe she'd come here for company after all. Because maybe she’d rather be miserable and be with Mulder, than be miserable and be at home all alone.

Chapter Text

On Thursday morning, September 2nd, Scully received the list of recommended fertility specialists from Dr. Rausch. Columbia Fertility Specialists were at the top of the list. Figures, Scully thought. Next on the list was the Parenti Medical Group in College Park, Maryland. It was a very large OB/GYN practice, with two medical directors, a board certified PhD specializing in andrology and embryology, six physicians with F.A.C.O.G. credentials, and two licensed clinical social workers, one specializing in fertility and the other in family planning/termination/adoption. Scully picked up the phone and dialed the office number.

After being informed by the receptionist that there were no appointment openings for a consultation with any of the physicians until the 23rd, Scully informed her of her situation with her frozen ova being stored with the Columbia Fertility Specialists and needing to transfer them by the 6th to prevent being billed for another month.

The receptionist placed her on hold, and upon returning after a few minutes, informed Scully that they would fax a transfer request to Columbia Fertility Specialists that day. Dr. James Parenti had agreed to evaluate her ova once they received the transfer. The receptionist also informed her that Dr. Parenti said he had a brief window available on the 10th at 12:30 pm to meet with her.

Scully bit her bottom lip. She would very likely be in the middle of the Bernard Oates trial next Friday. But she couldn’t pass this chance up. She couldn’t wait until the end of the month to find out. To hell with it. As Scully’s stomach filled with butterflies, she told the receptionist she’d be there.

The next morning, Scully was awoken by her phone ringing. After picking up her watch from the bedside table and noticing the time was 7:17 am, she grabbed her phone.

“Hello?” she said groggily.

“Agent Scully?”

It was Skinner. She sat upright in bed. “Yes, sir?”

He sighed. “I know you had asked for the entire week off, but… would you mind coming in to work today? Stephanie Speno wants to meet concerning the Bernard Oates trial.”

Scully rolled her eyes. “Again?”

“Well, she doesn’t want to meet with you, exactly. She’s nervous about putting Mulder on the stand, and she wants to run through everything again before the trial starts. She’s afraid questions are going to come up in the cross examination about how Mulder knew Oates had a bomb; why he asked you to bring Pamela Hamilton inside the bank. She’s concerned that Oates’ defense lies in the fact that Pamela Hamilton never would’ve died if Mulder hadn’t told you to bring her inside. Ms. Speno wants to be sure his testimony isn’t… cluttered… with his theories. She wants you to be there to make sure Mulder is, uh… cooperative.”

Scully sighed and shook her head. “I’ll be there, sir.”

“Thanks, Scully,” Skinner said before hanging up.

*****

She walked into the basement office just after 8:30 am to find Mulder sitting at the desk, checking emails on the computer. He looked up at her in surprise.

“Scully! What are you doing here?” Mulder gave her a small smile, but then his face fell. He hadn’t seen or spoken to her since that emotional Wednesday night. He felt sadness clench at his heart.

She could tell he still felt bad about what happened, and she suddenly felt a little awkward. “Skinner called me earlier. Stephanie Speno wants to meet with us again.”

Mulder shook his head and rolled his eyes. “I know. Looks like the trial isn’t going to get another postponement. Everything’s set to start Monday morning at 9:00 am.”

Scully nodded, and sat in the chair in front of the desk. She wanted to tell Mulder about the Parenti Medical Group, but maybe bringing the subject up again wouldn’t be such a good idea right now.

“What time will Speno be here?” she asked.

“Not until 10:00 am,” Mulder said, glancing at his watch. “Did you eat breakfast?”

She shook her head. “No, I didn’t have time.”

Mulder smiled, and turned off the computer. He wanted things to go back to normal after the past few difficult days they’ve had. He felt like something had torn between them, and he needed to fix it. “Let’s go.”

He got up from the desk, and Scully followed. They walked to a coffee house just a couple blocks away from the Hoover Building. Downtown Coffee and Tea was a favorite among a lot of the federal agents, as it had an outdoor patio outside and dim lighting inside, and so usually he avoided the place like the plague. But he knew that she was partial to their muffins.

As Mulder and Scully entered the coffee shop, they were greeted by the familiar dim lighting, hunter green walls with sparse artwork, dark brown oak hardwood flooring, black leather sofa and arm chairs facing the front window, and several high-backed dining booths on the right-side wall made out of the same dark hardwood and perfect for privacy.

Mulder ordered a coffee and a sausage, egg, and cheese bagel sandwich for himself as well as a green tea with honey and a low-fat blueberry banana nut muffin for Scully. After retrieving their order, they walked to the very last booth, and he sat on the side that was against the rear wall and facing the front of the coffee house. He slid all the way over to the right-side wall and glanced upwards at the booth in front of him, reminding himself that the top was well over his head. Scully smirked. Mulder obviously didn’t want to be seen by anyone, particularly any fellow agents. She got into the booth and slid over towards the wall so that she was facing him.

An awkward silence then pervaded over the table. Scully didn’t really know what to talk about. She wanted to talk to Mulder about transferring her ova to the Parenti Medical Group, discuss it with him. But she felt embarrassed. He probably didn’t want to talk about it ever again. Then she scolded herself for clamming up, when she really should be working on opening up. Do it, Dana. Just tell him. Intimacy is a two-way street.

She pulled off a piece from her muffin and started to chew it. He sat drinking his coffee, and taking bites of his sandwich. She swallowed.

“So…,” Scully paused. “I found a doctor who said he’d take a look at the ova.”

Mulder’s eyes quickly met hers. He didn’t know why he felt surprised; she had told him she wanted a second opinion. He didn’t know what to say. He didn’t want her to get her hopes up, only to be crushed. But he knew he had to be supportive. He had to make things right between them.

“What’s the doctor’s name?” Mulder asked.

“Dr. Parenti. He’s one of the medical directors of the Parenti Medical Group in College Park. They came highly recommended by my OB/GYN.”

He nodded. “Well, I hope you get good news.”

Scully didn’t know why, but she felt like Mulder wasn’t completely sincere in that wish. Or maybe he didn’t believe that she would hear anything different from this doctor, and thought that getting a second opinion was a fool’s errand. She sighed.

Several loud female voices dropped into the booth behind Scully.

“Natalie, how could you refuse a date with Agent Morehouse?” said a high, loquacious voice.

The smooth, musical voice of Agent Natalie Black responded. “I’m just not interested.”

“Kelly, you should know that Natalie goes for the more strong, silent types,” another woman said. “And the spookier the better.”

At this, Mulder and Scully locked eyes. He pursed his lips. She snorted and bit her bottom lip, trying to stop herself from giggling.

“Come on, Michelle,” said Natalie, slightly annoyed. “He’s not spooky.”

“Who are you talking about?” Kelly asked, puzzled. “Natalie, your face has gone all red.”

“Agent Mulder,” answered Michelle. “Natalie’s had the hots for him for almost a year.”

“I don’t know what to do,” Natalie sighed. “I tried almost everything, apart from blatantly throwing myself at him. He just doesn’t like me.”

“Who is Agent Mulder?” she asked, sounding confused.

“Come off it, Kelly,” Michelle responded, exasperated. “Everyone knows who Spooky is.”

“What do you mean, ‘spooky’?” asked Kelly. She then slightly lowered her voice. “Like, weird? As in, kinky?”

“Oh, I bet he is,” quipped Michelle. “All the weird ones are. I’m sure Natalie wouldn’t mind being tied to Agent Mulder’s bedposts, isn’t that right?”

“Michelle!” Natalie exclaimed, accompanied by nervous laughter.

Mulder sat wide-eyed, staring intently at his coffee cup on the table. Scully could feel her face reddening, and she covered her mouth with her right hand.

“Ooh, yeah, Agent Mulder,” said Kelly, in a tone of realization. “He worked in the bullpen for a while. His partner is the redhead, the really pretty one. Oh, yeah, he’s the agent that Stacey used to constantly bitch about.”

Mulder and Scully exchanged puzzled looks.

“Stacey? Stacey who?” Natalie asked.

“Kersh’s secretary,” Kelly responded. “The tall blonde.”

“The bitchy one,” Michelle added.

Mulder and Scully nodded at each other, not surprised. He knew that Kersh’s hatred of him had long since extended to his administrative staff.

“She doesn’t like Agent Mulder?” Natalie asked.

“Not since he fucked her and then, like, never spoke to her again,” Kelly answered bluntly. Michelle gasped, and started laughing in disbelief.

Scully stared at Mulder in shock. He vigorously shook his head and silently mouthed “No” over and over.

“What?!” Natalie exclaimed, sounding upset. “What did she say?”

“I believe she used the words ‘tiger in the sack,’” said Kelly.

“See? What did I tell you? Kinky.” Michelle kept laughing.

“Stop it, Michelle,” Natalie said edgily. She sighed. “This sucks, you guys.”

“He obviously prefers the bitchy type,” said Michelle. “I mean, he’s stayed with the Ice Queen all these years.”

Scully wanted to run from the table; she wanted to be anywhere but in that booth, listening to this conversation.

“Michelle, knock it off,” Natalie said firmly. “Dana is really nice. Don’t go around calling her that. It just makes it okay for the assholes around here to say it, and they only call her that because they know they can’t get in her pants.”

“Well, she’s probably got her hands full with Mulder,” quipped Michelle. Natalie sighed.

Mulder closed his eyes and hung his head.

“Hmm…,” said Kelly. “I didn’t get the impression that they were, you know, a thing.”

“I don’t know,” Michelle said, as though teasing. “What do you think, Natalie?”

“Well, most of the time there didn’t seem to be anything going on between them,” Natalie paused. “But then, sometimes I’d see Agent Mulder looking at her, and… I understood why he never paid any attention to me.”

“Well, maybe he’s not into agents,” said Michelle. “Maybe he’s just into secretaries.”

Natalie sighed.

“Uh… we have to get back, you guys,” Kelly said.

The three women quickly left their booth and headed out the door.

*****

Mulder pursed his lips. She stared at him, speechless.

“Scully, I did not sleep with Kersh’s secretary,” he said insistently. “I promise.”

She sighed. Of course he didn’t. “I know, Mulder.” Didn’t change the fact she’d been going around telling people he did, though.

Scully wasn’t into mind games, and she certainly didn’t want to play them with Mulder. But she was curious about his feelings, if things weren’t changing between them because he didn’t feel that way about her or if he just had no interest in having a personal life at all, with anyone.

“Maybe you should ask her out,” she said, looking at him thoughtfully. “She likes you.”

He gave her a confused look. “What do you mean, Scully? She obviously hates me.”

“No, Mulder. Not Kersh’s secretary. Natalie.”

He stared at her. She couldn’t possibly be serious. Why would she want him to go out with another woman? “She’s not my type, Scully.”

She gave him a dubious look, and then got out of the booth. “What are you talking about, Mulder? She’s exactly your type.”

He sighed, and exited the booth. While leaving the coffee house, he supposed that technically she was correct. His high school prom date, Christine; Lisa, his college girlfriend at NYU; Phoebe; Diana; they were tall brunettes. Even his casual encounters, very few and far between as they were, had all been tall brunettes. But on the other hand, Scully was wrong. The tall brunette was no longer his type. His type was Dana Scully, and there was only one of those. And it didn’t matter if she was tall, short, fat, thin, blonde, brunette or redhead, just as long as she was Scully. Other women weren’t even a consideration.

As they walked back to work, Mulder wondered if she really believed him about Kersh’s secretary. He hoped she did. Looking back, he’d always felt he had to explain himself whenever Scully found him in a compromising position with another woman, as though he was a defensive husband. He’d never understood, at the time, why he felt he had to defend himself or explain the situation, despite the fact that she never demanded explanations and tried to act like she didn't care. And what if he really had slept with Kersh’s secretary? He and Scully were not romantically involved, and he had every right to a sex life, which, technically, wouldn’t even be her business. But yet, he had this keen sense that getting involved with another woman would be a betrayal. For years it was something he couldn’t explain, and so he avoided thinking about it.

Mulder’s mind went into overdrive as he walked. In all honesty, he never really understood, until now, why he’d felt so betrayed by her one night stand with Ed Jerse; why he’d loathed Phillip Padgett as much as he did and in a way that had nothing to do with his normal detest for violent criminals: he had, unwittingly, entered into a committed relationship with Scully.

As Mulder and Scully approached the employee entrance of FBI headquarters, he wondered if she realized this too, and didn’t know whether he wanted her to or not. He wanted to love her, to show her how he felt, but how could he do so without harming her? Without harming their partnership? Without harming her reputation even more than he already had? What if their relationship did become physical? The FBI would gladly latch on to any valid reason to split them up, and they’d be handing one over on a silver platter. Not to mention the dark forces within the government that could potentially do much worse if they wanted to.

He and Scully had a relationship that, from the outside, appeared to be nothing more than an FBI partnership between two friends and colleagues, but in fact, was the most intensely devoted relationship he’d ever been in. Whatever he felt in his past relationships didn’t even come close to what he had with Scully. But what did he have with Scully, exactly? They were partners, they were friends. But it also wasn't that simple; it was more complex than that. How could he even possibly begin to define what they were? It was beyond definition. It was a relationship without any of the physical benefits, and yet he felt more deeply connected to Scully than any of the women he’d ever shared his bed with. His yearnings to share his bed with her were starting to create a dull, aching pain that was becoming a constant in his life, as he unsuccessfully tried to keep those feelings at bay.

*****

Over the course of the next week, Mulder and Scully sat in court for the District of Columbia v. Bernard Oates trial, and watched the jury selection process as well as the opening statements by the prosecution. As the Friday morning session came to a close on September 10th, she became increasingly more anxious. She was supposed to drive to College Park, Maryland to meet with Dr. Parenti at 12:30. This meeting could possibly affect her entire future. She tried hard not to think of how exactly her future might change. She didn’t want to get her hopes up. In reality, she was more than likely to get the same answer from Dr. Parenti that she got from Dr. Khan of the Columbia Fertility Specialists.

The judge called for a recess for lunch at 11:55 am and announced that court would reconvene at 1:30 pm with the opening statements by the defense.

“Where do you wanna go for lunch?” Mulder asked her.

Scully hesitated. “Um… I can’t go for lunch today. I have to drive to College Park to meet with Dr. Parenti.”

Mulder stared at her. He felt an indescribable sinking feeling. “Do you want me to come with you?”

She paused. Did she want Mulder there? What if she got good news? Or what if she found out it was hopeless? She didn’t think she wanted him around for either scenario. “No, Mulder. That’s okay. I’ll see you after lunch when I get back.”

Scully arrived at the Parenti Medical Group building on Oakhurst Avenue in College Park. As she sat in the waiting room, her stomach had gone into knots. She tried to prepare herself for the worst, and to remind herself that the worst was a reality she’d already been living with for the past two years. She sat there trying not to get her hopes up, but the thought that her future might not be as lonely as she thought it was going to be was proving too difficult to resist.

A door opened, and a doctor with gray hair and a dark goatee walked towards her, smiling.

“Ms. Scully?” he said as he approached her. “Got a good report for you. I've looked at the ova you've given me, and consulted with some of my colleagues. We all feel that with the proper approach we might be successful. Got a good chance to get you pregnant.”

Oh, my God. She was stunned. She couldn’t believe it. Did Dr. Parenti really just say what she thought he just said?

She could feel tears welling up. “Oh... it's too good to be true.”

Dr. Parenti smiled. “I don't want to lay odds, but it's not out of the realm of possibility if we start soon.”

Scully looked up at Dr. Parenti in amazement. “We can start right away?”

“Well, you need a father, of course,” Dr. Parenti replied. “I can get you genetic counseling on finding an anonymous donor if that's what you want, unless you already have someone in mind.”

“Yeah... I, uh...,” she hesitated. “I just have to figure out how to ask him.”

Scully had been thinking about this for the entire 30 minute drive from the courthouse. But, deep down, she’d really been thinking about it ever since Mulder had told her about her ova. She knew this would be required, if there was any hope that her ova were viable. She knew she’d need the other half of the equation, the XY chromosome. And she knew the only person she could ever imagine asking was the other half of herself.

Chapter Text

Scully cried the entire drive back to D.C. from College Park. She was overwhelmed by too many emotions; anxiety, doubt, fear, excitement, hope. What had looked like a dark lonely future looming in front of her, now suddenly was growing brighter. But maybe it was too good to be true? Maybe she shouldn’t get too excited because it could all be for nothing. She tried to control her thoughts, not let herself get swept away by the possibilities.

But there was now a spark of hope when she pictured what her life could look like in a year, ten years, twenty. The chance to have a home with someone who loved and needed her, the chance to have a life that was real and meaningful, the prospect of having comfort and joy in her old age, the chance to possess unconditional love; this blossoming hope carried her all the way back to D.C. She left her car at the FBI parking garage, making sure to grab her umbrella as the light sprinkles of the morning had turned into heavier rain, and hailed a taxi for the quick ride to the courthouse entrance. She wished she’d worn a jacket; the temperature had fallen about 10 degrees since she’d left her apartment that morning.

At 1:28 pm, Scully was speed walking through the doors of the fourth floor courtroom. At the sight of Mulder, standing in their usual spot on the end of the third row and speaking to Ms. Speno, this blossoming hope gave way to fear. How was she going to ask him? What would she say? And what did she want from him, exactly? Just his sperm? If a child was going to be the end result of this, what she did want Mulder’s role to be? Did she want him to take some kind of responsibility? No. She could never ask that of him. How could she? She had no right to. But what would she tell this possible child about his or her father? Would she want Mulder’s name on the birth certificate? Or would he only be known to her child as the man that she worked with?

Deep down, Scully knew what she wanted. She knew what she wanted her life to be like. She knew who she wanted there. She knew that even if she was blessed with a child, if this new part of her life did not involve Mulder, it wouldn’t be whole. A deep sense of sadness suddenly engulfed her, and she blinked back tears. As the Honorable Warren Bender entered the courtroom and everyone began sitting in their seats, she watched Mulder turn a concerned expression to the doors of the courtroom. Her eyes locked with his, and she held his gaze for some seconds. Scully watched Mulder’s expression turn sorrowful as she hurriedly approached their row just as Judge Bender called court to session.

*****

Over the next three hours, Mulder grew more and more distressed. Scully would barely look at him. He struggled to pay attention to the opening statements made by Bernard Oates’ defense lawyer, Alexander Catalano. He thought that he never should’ve told her about the ova. She had gotten her hopes up, only to have them defeated. It seemed to him that he did nothing but cause her pain. Every awful thing that had ever happened to her was all because of him.

Mulder didn’t know what to do. He wanted to tell Scully to get as far away from him as she could. She could move somewhere, maybe to Baltimore or San Diego to be closer to her brothers and nephews. But who was he kidding? He was way too selfish for that. He would never seriously tell her to leave him. He needed her too much. Who would he be without her? Sometimes he could barely remember the person he was before she walked into his life.

That person was an empty shell of a man, going nowhere and accomplishing little to nothing. Scully had filled his life with purpose. Mulder thanked his lucky stars that they sent their “spy” to work with him. Instead, they gave him the best ally he could have ever asked for, the best friend he could’ve ever hoped for. They had no idea of the threat they were creating by sending Scully to him. And when they found out, they hurt her. They hurt her in order to hurt him. Because they knew. They knew how much he needed her. They knew he’d very likely give up without her. She endangered her life every day by staying with him, and yet she did stay, and never hinted at any plans to leave.

At 4:15 pm, the defense finished its opening statements. After a quick sidebar with Ms. Speno and Mr. Catalano, Judge Bender briefly addressed the jury, and then court was adjourned for the day. Mulder and Scully walked out of the courtroom and waited outside in the hall for Ms. Speno.

“Agent Mulder?” Ms. Speno said as she approached them.

Mulder and Scully turned to see her walk towards them carrying a briefcase, throwing her red trench coat over her left arm, and then running her hand through her shoulder-length golden brown hair.

“I’ve decided to make a slight change,” Ms. Speno continued as she came to a stop about a foot in front of them. “I think I want you to present your testimony first, instead of Agent Scully. Whatever happens in the cross examination with Catalano, and we can expect him to lay blame on your actions, Agent Scully’s testimony will then add more weight and credibility when she backs up what you’ve already said.”

Mulder nodded. “Okay.”

Ms. Speno eyed him. “This means you have one less day to prepare, as I’ll be putting you on the stand first thing Monday morning. I just need you to be clear on what you’re going to say and how you’re going to say it. Will you have time tonight to go through the direct examination again? The team is going to be pulling an all-nighter at FBI headquarters with the appointed attorney from the OGC. I believe Dave Shapiro is very interested in how you will portray the FBI on the witness stand.”

Mulder stared at her. Scully leaned to the right, and lightly bumped her elbow against his left arm.

“Yes, of course,” he replied, sighing.

Ms. Speno threw an annoyed look back and forth between Mulder and Scully. She shook her head as she started to walk away.

“Oh, Agent Mulder,” Ms. Speno said, turning back. “We’ll be meeting up at 5:30 pm.”

He glanced over at Scully. “Um, I don’t think I can make it by 5:30. I’ve got plans. But I can be there later.”

Ms. Speno pursed her lips. “How much later?”

He glanced over at Scully again. “Um… I’m not really sure. Depends on how long it takes.”

Ms. Speno once again looked between Mulder and Scully, her facial expression going from leery to comprehending. “Hmm... I see,” she said curtly. She rolled her eyes and walked away, mumbling “You’ve got to be kidding me” under her breath in annoyance.

“What was that about?” Scully asked him.

Mulder shook his head and sighed. “Who knows?”

They stood there for a few seconds, not talking and not meeting each other’s eyes.

“I suppose we should head back to the office,” she finally said.

*****

At 4:50 pm, Mulder and Scully were walking through the door to the basement office. She sat down in her usual chair while he sat at the desk, logging onto the computer to check his email.

“I got an email from Danny,” he told her. “Something weird from Ellens.”

“Ellens Air Force Base?” replied Scully. Ugh, not that place again. “Why was Danny even out there?”

“He wasn’t,” Mulder replied. “He just has a buddy who is stationed there. Anyways, the NSA informed the big boys up at Ellens that Zarya and Unity picked up on some strange signals being directed at the Arecibo Ionospheric Observatory in Puerto Rico. The NSA has so far failed to crack the codes of these signals and no one can determine from where they originated.”

She blinked. “Zarya and Unity… you mean, the International Space Station?”

He gave her a knowing look. “Yep.”

Scully stared at him. “If you think I’m going to Puerto Rico, think again.”

He snorted.

“And if you think you’re going to Puerto Rico again, Mulder, or back to Ellens Air Force Base, you can just change your mind right now.”

He leaned back in the chair, clearly frustrated. “Scully, this could be something!”

She shook her head in disbelief. “We barely got out of there alive the last time, Mulder!”

At this, they heard a knock on the office door, and they looked to see Skinner standing in their doorway. Mulder quickly grabbed the computer mouse and closed his email.

“Hello, sir,” said Scully. “What brings you down here?”

Skinner looked around the office for a second. “Oh, just wondering how the trial went today.”

Mulder sighed. “It was okay, I guess. I mean, it’s court. So, not exactly mentally stimulating stuff.”

Skinner frowned and looked at Scully. She shrugged. She knew Mulder hated the trial process of the job, and he felt like sitting in a courtroom all day was a huge waste of his time.

“Anyways,” continued Skinner. “The real reason I came down was to let you know that you’re both being given a Public Service Award for preventing Bernard Oates from blowing up that bank. I know this seems last minute, since the ceremony is coming up on the 2nd, but the Bureau feels this is a good idea with the trial going on right now.”

Scully turned a surprised smile on Mulder. He nodded, giving her a half smile in return.

“So I expect you both to attend the FBI Community Service Awards Banquet next month.”

Skinner watched Mulder roll his eyes, and shot him a stern look. “And it’s mandatory. So get a tux.”

Scully grinned at the scowl on his face as he watched Skinner leave the office. “It doesn’t hurt to be social once in a while, Mulder.”

He scoffed. “I am social, Scully. I’m social with you. That’s all the human interaction I need.”

She rolled her eyes. Suddenly, her stomach filled with butterflies as this made her think of what she’d learned from Dr. Parenti earlier. Mulder was so solitary, and maybe a child was something he’d want absolutely no part in.

She swallowed. She had to tell him. Just tell him. What was the use? “So, you told Ms. Speno that you had plans and couldn’t meet up at 5:30. What plans are these?”

Mulder smiled at her. “I’m taking you out for dinner. Your stomach was growling all afternoon, Scully. You didn’t eat lunch, did you?”

She thought about it. “Oh, yeah… no, I didn’t get a chance.” She had barely got back in time from College Park as it was.

He turned off the computer, and then they made their way out of the office, Scully grabbing her umbrella and Mulder putting on his trench coat, locking the door behind them.

*****

At 5:32 pm, Mulder and Scully arrived at her favorite Friday-night restaurant in Georgetown, Doug’s Fish Fry. It was only two blocks from her apartment building. Sometimes on Friday evenings, when going for a run in her neighborhood, she’d inevitably wind up at Doug’s for her dinner. Mulder and Scully each ordered the fish and chips special upon arrival. Years ago, she always ate her fish and chips with tartar sauce. But then he introduced her to using just simple salt and vinegar with a splash of lemon, something he’d said he picked up during the three years he’d spent at Oxford earning his master’s degree in psychology.

Scully stood and watched Mulder sprinkle salt and squirt malt vinegar onto his basket of fish and chips immediately after receiving it at the counter, and then squeezing his lemon wedge over the food. She wondered what he had been like at Oxford. He rarely talked about it, and she had a sneaking suspicion it was because of negative associations brought on by Phoebe Green. She then wondered what his life would’ve been like if she’d been friends with him at Oxford, wondered if Phoebe would’ve still happened to him. Maybe, but maybe not.

Mulder and Scully took their baskets of food to one of the pub tables. While she crunched on her dill pickle, she was having an inner battle with herself on whether to bring up the news she got from Dr. Parenti. She still had no idea how she was going to ask him, and she was nervous that he would ask her what the doctor said. She was now thankful that Danny had sent him that email because it was all he seemed to want to talk about at the moment.

“Scully, this could get us going in the right direction.”

She sighed. “Mulder, it’s too dangerous. By the time you got down there to the observatory, there probably wouldn’t be anything left to find except guns pointed at your head. And I’m sure Ellens Air Force Base has developed a way of being alerted to your presence at the very moment you set foot in Idaho. Besides, we can’t skip town. Think of the Bernard Oates trial. Think of how Speno is counting on you, Mulder. Think of the Public Service Award that would go down the toilet.” Scully’s tone had taken on a phony sense of severity. She then grinned at him, and winked.

Mulder tried to keep a straight face, but he found her eyes, twinkling with mischief, too irresistible. He smiled at her, and she smiled back. He dropped the subject of strange International Space Station transmissions and Ellens Air Force Base. Despite Mulder and Scully now eating in comfortable silence, gazing at each other and smiling, underneath the surface she was one raging storm of anxiety and doubt, while another storm of guilt and desire raged inside him.

*****

Mulder drove Scully home, parking on the street across from her apartment building.

“Well, I suppose I should head back to headquarters for that all-nighter with Speno and friends,” he quipped. “I’m already an hour late.”

Scully nodded, but she didn’t make any move to leave the car. The sensation of butterflies had so flooded her stomach that she thought she might be sick. She had to tell Mulder. She had to bite the bullet and ask him. You are not getting out of this car, Dana, without asking him. Do it. Do it NOW.

“Scully?” he asked, slightly confused. “You weren’t planning on spending the rest of your Friday night stuck at work, were you? You don’t have to be there.”

“Yeah… I know, Mulder.” God, why was this so hard? Why couldn't she just speak her mind? She shouldn’t be scared, it’s only Mulder. But… that’s precisely why this was so scary.

He was staring at her, but she couldn’t look at him and stared at her hands. “Um…”

“Scully…,” he spoke softly. “What happened when you went to College Park?”

She sighed, but she still remained silent. She knitted her brows, and stared fixedly at her hands in her lap. DO IT NOW, DANA. TELL HIM. But... how could she ask him?!

Mulder’s hand reached into her lap, taking her hand and holding it in his palm. “Tell me, Scully.”

She took a deep breath. “Dr. Parenti said that… it wasn’t out of the realm of possibility… that… the ova could be viable… and a successful pregnancy could be possible.”

“You’re kidding.”

“No, I’m not,” she said with nervous laughter, and finally looked up at Mulder.

“That’s… that’s incredible, Scully.” She saw he was looking at her in wide-eyed amazement.

She swallowed. “The thing is, Dr. Parenti said I should start as soon as possible.”

“So I guess Puerto Rico is really out of the question now,” Mulder grinned.

She snorted, and looked again at her lap. “But, um…” Oh, God. “Dr. Parenti offered to set me up with genetic counseling to choose a donor but, um…” Good grief, pull it together. “I was thinking… I don’t really want to use an anonymous donor if I don’t have to. And so I was wondering… if you’d consider… donating your, uh… genetic material.”

Silence pervaded the car. “Scully, are you asking me for my sperm?”

She sighed, and covered her face with her hand.

He gave a short, breathy laugh, and pulled her hand away from her face. “Scully, I…”

She looked up at him. “No, Mulder, please don’t answer right now. Just… take some time to think about it? Okay?”

He nodded. Scully pulled on the handle, and opened the car door. “I’ll, uh… talk to you later. Oh, and thanks for dinner.”

Mulder gave her a half smile, and she got out of the car.

*****

They were all gathered in a fifth floor conference room at FBI headquarters to make sure that Mulder’s testimony didn’t feature any of his crazy ideas and that he portrayed himself as an exemplary representative of the FBI. The room was abuzz with legal talk and strategic planning. But as he sat in this room with Stephanie Speno and her legal team as well as Dave Shapiro, an attorney with the FBI’s Office of General Counsel, his mind was a million miles away. Actually, it was about 2.8 miles away in Georgetown, at 1419 31st Street NW, apartment #5.

He went through his testimony spiel for what felt like the hundredth time, answering all of Ms. Speno’s direct examination questions exactly as she expected him to. Her legal team threw different curveball questions at him, in an effort to guess how Bernard Oates’ lawyer would perform the cross examination. He cooperated and answered every question in a way that seemed to satisfy everyone else in the room. Mulder didn’t care about any of it. There were more important things on his mind.

At 8:50 pm, the prosecution team agreed to take a break, and they sent someone to get Chinese takeout for the group. Mulder excused himself, and headed downstairs to his office. He sat at his desk, pulling up the email from Danny. He planned on sending him a short reply, to ask him for more information if he ends up getting his hands on any. But he sat there staring at the screen, his mind on something else. He leaned over, resting his arms on the desk.

What if it really happened? What if Scully had a baby? It would mean an end to the X-Files, he knew it would. A baby would change everything. She would no longer be so courageously willing to enter into dangerous situations. She’d no longer be able to drop everything at the last minute and fly with him across the country to Nevada to check out an anonymous source. She’d be a mother. She’d have another life to consider. He couldn’t do this without her. He didn’t even want to. How far would he get? Not very. What would he accomplish? Not much.

But was he ready to walk away? There were still answers to find. There were still truths out there he’d yet to uncover. What about that spaceship? And the chip in Scully’s neck? He’d yet to fully expose the dark underbelly of the government, their secrets and lies, bring them to justice for their crimes against the American people. The Smoking Man was still out there somewhere, slithering in the tall grass like a snake, waiting to strike. What about the alien virus? The vaccine, a cure for whatever might be coming in the future?

What about Samantha? He still had no clear idea of the circumstances surrounding her abduction, or where she’d been taken, or where she was now. Cancer Man had showed him glimpses, but was anything that man ever said the truth? Were any of those women his sister? Or were they just clones? Alien-human hybrids? A poor man’s substitute for his real sister.

If Scully were to have a baby, and his work in the X-Files ceased, he’d never find Samantha. He knew that for certain. Was he ready to give up searching? Would he regret it if he did? He would live out the rest of his life not finding the answers. He would most likely go to his grave never knowing what had really happened to her. Would he be okay with that? He wasn’t sure.

Suddenly, Mulder remembered The Dream. The Dream where he deserted his quest for creature comforts; a life in the suburbs, with a wife and children; a place where everyone spoke lies to him. But he had Samantha. He had found her, and she was alive, and happy. The one thing he’d wanted every single day since the moment she’d been taken away from him almost 26 years ago, the one thing he’d been searching for, he’d finally found. But he’d betrayed and abandoned Scully in order to do so, and the end result was disastrous.

And so Mulder made his decision. Deep down, he knew that Scully had become the priority above and beyond his quest for the truth, his quest for his sister. He didn’t exactly know when that had happened, but he should have faced up to the truth when he traded his sister (or what he thought was his sister) for Scully on that bridge in Bethesda, Maryland over four years ago. Two years later, he once again traded the prospect of finding his sister to cure her cancer. And he still couldn’t admit it to himself: Scully had become more important.

She had sacrificed so much for him, and without ever blaming him for the hardships she’d endured. He couldn’t continue to force her to live a lonely life, a life where she was regularly endangered, for the sake of finding Samantha. Scully was unhappy, and he knew it. He’d known it for a long time, but chose to ignore it for his own selfish reasons; for the sake of the work, of the quest. And where did that get him? Mulder could find the answer to every single question he’d ever asked, but he knew he’d never be happy if she was miserable.

But if Scully was never in pain and never suffered, if she was never in danger, he could have some peace of mind. He was tired of being miserable himself; tired of the guilt, tired of the heartache. He was tired of the FBI and its bullshit. And Mulder suddenly could see a future that looked different from what it had looked like before. Most of the time, he tried not to think about the future in a personal way. But now he could see one start to unfold. The picture was cloudy and obscure, but he sensed that happiness might be within his grasp. If Scully was happy, if she acquired what she wanted out of life, it was possible that he could be reasonably happy too.

And Scully wanted to be a mother. He realized he held the power in his hands to make her happy. And so Mulder made his decision. He shut off the computer and got up from the desk, put on his trench coat, and headed to his car.

Chapter Text

During the 10 minute drive from FBI headquarters to Scully’s apartment in Georgetown, Mulder started to feel a twinge of doubt and fear. A baby would change the dynamic between them, as the majority of Scully’s attentions would be directed elsewhere. He realized that he didn’t even know what Scully wanted from him, in the long term.

Would Scully’s child grow up not having a father? What if, God forbid, someone like Kresge swept in and took her away? Another man could potentially raise this child. Mulder hated the thought, it turned his stomach. But she had made no indication that she wanted anything other than a donor. Did he want to be a part of this child’s life? Did she even want him to be? Would the child know who he really was? Or would he only be known as “Uncle Mulder,” mommy’s friend from work? The thought filled him with dismay. He never really thought he’d have family of his own, too many bad memories from his youth. But… if a family were to include Scully, it might not be so bad. Mulder quickly pushed the thought away, before his insecurities and doubts could crush him.

And what if the opposite happened? What if the ova weren’t viable after all? Or what if his boys didn’t pass genetic muster and Scully was forced to use an anonymous donor? How disappointed would she be? And how awkward could things become? Would she hold it against him? But even if these factors all worked out, what if the process still failed? The possible heartbreak caused a pained expression to come over his face has he turned onto Scully’s street. Mulder was suddenly gripped by fear. What if this ended up causing friction between them? Either scenario had the potential to divide them.

Mulder sighed as he shut off the engine and sat in his car in front of Scully’s apartment building. He then thought of everything that had happened over the years, how numerous outside forces had tried their damnedest to separate them, and all proving unsuccessful. Now that he thought about it, the idea of a pregnancy, or a failed attempt at one, doing what the darkest forces imaginable hadn’t yet been able to do seemed absurd. But as he got out of the car and walked toward Scully’s building, nervousness filled his stomach.

*****

Scully had just finished cleaning the kitchen, and was walking out to the living room, when there was a knock at her door.

She opened her door to see Mulder standing there. She found that she wasn’t at all surprised to see him there, even though she knew he was supposed to be at work. “Hi.”

“Hey,” Mulder said, smiling.

“Uh… come on in,” Scully said, backing away and opening the door wider for him to walk through, before closing it. “Can I take your coat?”

“No, I can’t stay,” he replied. “I gotta get back to the office for a while.”

Mulder glanced at her awkwardly, appearing to not know what to say, how to begin the conversation. She decided she should probably take the lead here. “Obviously you've had some time to think about my request.”

“Um, it’s…,” he replied, looking her in the eyes. “It’s not something that I get asked to do every day. Um…”

Scully closed her eyes. Oh, no.

“But I am absolutely flattered. No, honestly.”

He’s trying to make light of the situation, his classic defense mechanism. God, this was so embarrassing. “Look, if… if you're trying to politely say ‘no,’ it's okay,” Scully said, averting her eyes from his face. “I, I understand.”

“See as weird as...,” Mulder paused. “This sounds, and this sounds really weird, I know, but I, I just wouldn't want this to come between us.”

“Yeah,” said Scully softly, her voice becoming almost a whisper, and looked down at her hands. “I know… I, I understand. I do.”

She knew it was too good to be true. What was she thinking asking him for something so personal? Oh, God, she's going to cry in front of Mulder. No, no, no. Don’t look at him. Scully knew Mulder could obviously see the disappointment. It was written all over her. But she was trying desperately to hide how hurt she really was. Scully saw his hand coming toward her face, and looked up to see him still staring intently at her.

“But… the, the answer is ‘yes.’” Mulder had an indescribable look on his face. She thought he looked happy. She couldn’t tell, exactly. But she could see that his eyes were full of tenderness.

Wait, what? Oh, my God. Did he really say “yes?" She couldn't believe it. He would really do this for her? Oh, my God.

Tears were now welling up in Scully’s eyes. She stepped forward and threw her arms around his neck, and felt his arms wrap around her back and hold her. She didn’t think she had ever loved Mulder more than at this moment.

She let go of him, but didn’t really know what to say to express how happy she felt. She had a fleeting notion of just coming out and telling Mulder that she loved him, but quickly squelched that idea. She felt awkward enough as it is, and she lacked the courage.

“Um... well, I'll call Dr. Parenti and...,” Scully looked at Mulder, who was nodding and smiling at her. “I assume that he'll want to meet you and go through the, uh, the donor procedure.”

“Oh, at that part, I’m a pro,” he quipped, as he turned toward her door.

Right. Scully smiled, somewhat shyly. Mulder gave her a small smile before leaving.

Scully sat on her couch, and cried tears of joy. But after a minute or two, she started to reign in her feelings; reminded herself that this could all be for naught. There was still a huge chance that nothing would come of this. She had to remind herself that her chance for a successful pregnancy was likely a very low percentage.

Then Scully thought about Mulder’s crack before he left her apartment. What did he mean exactly by “at that part” he’s a pro? What other parts to this was he not a pro at? Scully realized that she had never even had a conversation with him about what exactly she was asking of him, what her plans would be if it worked, and about how involved he did or didn’t want to be. Yet, he’d agreed to it, without knowing any real details. She wondered what Mulder expected.

*****

Over the weekend, Scully debated whether she should inform her mother about her plans to try IVF. In the end, she decided not to. She would only tell her mother if the procedure proved to be successful. She’d hate to see the looks on her family’s faces if she told them all what she was doing, and then it failed. Scully also knew that telling her family about attempting IVF would induce questions about the sperm donor and his involvement, and she wasn’t sure how she would handle that. How could she answer their questions when she didn’t even know herself? If, in the rare chance, it was successful, she still had no idea what kind of arrangement she would make with Mulder. It was something they definitely needed to talk about.

Early on Saturday morning, Mulder called Scully to tell her that he was driving up to Connecticut to visit his mother for the weekend. Scully guessed that Mulder probably just wanted to get away from Stephanie Speno and her prosecution team. This assumption proved to be correct when Speno called her around 11:30 am on Saturday, wondering where Mulder was because she had told him that they were going to be holed up in the U.S. Attorney’s offices all weekend preparing. Scully told her that something had come up and Mulder had to drive up north to see his mother. Speno was obviously irritated. Scully hung up the phone slightly amused.

Later that night, as she stood in the bathroom brushing her teeth before bed, the seed of an idea crept into her mind, took root, and sprouted. As she slowly lowered her toothbrush to the sink, she stared at her reflection in the mirror with strange sense of dawning realization. He couldn’t have. He wouldn’t! Oh yes, he would. She walked quickly into her bedroom, and after picking up the phone, called Mulder’s cell.

“Hello?”

“Mulder?”

“Hi, Scully. What’s up?”

“Mulder, where are you?”

“I’m at my mother’s house, Scully. Where else would I be?”

“Oh, I don’t know. Puerto Rico, maybe. Or Idaho.”

Mulder gave a breathy laugh. “Scully, I’m in Greenwich. Would I ever just run off somewhere without telling you first?”

“You’re kidding me, right?”

“Okay, so maybe I have done that in the past… once or twice. But I really am in Connecticut. How about you hang up, and then call my mother’s home phone number.”

Once or twice, huh? Good lord. “It’s after 11:00, Mulder. I wouldn’t want to wake her up.”

“That’s okay. I’ll pick up on the first ring.”

Scully sighed. “No, Mulder, it’s… Never mind, I believe you.”

He chuckled.

“So how’s your mother doing?” Scully turned down the bed, and got in, sitting up against her pillows.

“Um… she’s okay now, I guess.”

Scully grew worried. “What happened? She’s not sick, is she?”

“Oh, no, nothing like that. Her health seems fine, really. But, um… we had an unpleasant conversation earlier.”

“What about?” Scully’s face fell. Mulder’s situation with his parents always made her feel unhappy. She sometimes wished that he had had the happy childhood that she had. But then again, Mulder is who he is because of exactly what happened in his childhood. And for all his faults, she wouldn’t change him.

“Samantha. My dad.”

Scully closed her eyes. “I’m sorry, Mulder.”

He sighed. “Scully, can I make a confession?”

“Um… of course.” Where was this going?

He hesitated. “I hate it here.”

“Oh, Mulder,” Scully pouted.

“I wanted to get out of the city, and I knew I hadn’t seen my mother since the 4th of July weekend. This is the only place I have to go, just my mother’s. I don’t have anyone else.” Mulder sighed. “I wish you were here, Scully. Actually no, you wouldn’t want to be here either. I wish I was there with you.” He chuckled.

She wished he was there with her, too. She gave a small smile into the phone, but said nothing.

“Well, I should let you go,” he said. “I’ll see you Monday morning.”

“Goodnight, Mulder,” Scully said before hanging up the phone.

*****

Mulder was walking down the beach. He came upon the familiar large sand UFO. The boy was there, and for the first time in months, he wasn’t crying. He wasn’t afraid. He was happy. He knelt down on the sand and helped the boy sculpt the UFO. Suddenly a breeze stirred, and he could smell something sweet, like vanilla or maybe clover. Scully. She was here somewhere. He had to hold her, he had to touch her. Mulder stood and looked around, but couldn’t see her anywhere. The boy smiled and pointed to the woods.

He walked a path that had become familiar to him since that first day he’d found Scully in these woods, wearing that yellow sundress. He’d walked this path countless times since that day. All of a sudden, night had fallen and he came upon a cabin, the cabin he’d been coming to almost every night to be with Scully. The scent of sweet clover was stronger. Mulder knew she was just inside the door.

Mulder opened the door, and was greeted with a warm glow. Scully was there, wearing powder blue silk pajamas, standing next to a warm fire burning in the hearth. There were candles on the bedside tables. She turned to look at him, and the radiant brilliancy of her electric blue eyes filled him with elation. She smiled wide, and rushed towards him. His arms were around her, touching, groping, kneading whatever he could get his hands on. She was franticly pulling his shirt over his head, while he ripped her clothes from her, buttons flying to the floor.

Suddenly they were on the bed, and she was spreading her legs for him. He settled between them and she wrapped her arms around him, holding him tight to her. She whispered in his ear, “I love you, Mulder.” He groaned, frenziedly jamming his hard member into the wet heat of her center. Every night was the same, as though he’d never experienced such a sensation before in all his life: the slick, warm softness combined with a tight pressure that made him feel like he would either cry or burst into flames. She was moaning his name, and panting “give me a baby, Mulder… you’re the only one who can” in his ear. “But I don’t know how,” he told her. Her eyes brightened, and she smiled, saying “yes, you do… you're the only one who can do it.” He thrust harder; pure ecstasy was within his reach, he was almost there.

The fire went out in the hearth, and a wind that seemingly came from nowhere blew out the candles. Everything darkened. No. No, no, no, no, no, not again. He can’t take her! The Smoking Man was in the cabin, pulling her away from him. Mulder tried to move, to lunge from the bed and attack him, but he was frozen. Cancer Man was sneering at him, saying “she wants a baby, Mulder.” Scully was frantically struggling against his grip, but Mulder couldn’t move. He locked eyes with Mulder, touching the scar at the back of her neck with his forefinger, saying “I’d love to be a grandfather.” Scully’s loud screams filled the cabin.

Mulder awoke in a cold sweat, panting hard. He bolted upright in the bed in his mother’s guestroom, hot tears filling his eyes. He grabbed for his cell phone on the bedside table.

*****

A loud ringing sound jarred the still night air, and Scully woke with a start, reaching for her cell phone underneath her pillow. The clock on her table read 4:22 am.

“Mulder?”

She could hear heavy breathing, and then a stifled sob. “Scully…”

She sat up, and turned on the light. “Mulder, what’s wrong? Is it your mother?”

The only response she got was more sobs. Fear sunk its teeth into her heart. “Mulder, do you need me to come up there?”

“Scu… Scully,” he cried, struggling to speak. “Are you… sure… that you… want me?” He continued to sob into the phone.

She didn’t know how to answer that. “Mulder, what… what are you talking about?”

“But you don’t know,” he cried. “You don’t know.”

“What don’t I know, Mulder?” She got out of bed, and started mentally making preparations in case she needed to leave for Connecticut.

“My DNA… is bad, Scully,” he said miserably. “You don’t… want it. It’s… poison.”

What in the world? She walked to her closet and grabbed her weekender bag. “Mulder, tell me what’s happened.”

He started to reply, but his voice became choked with continued sobs.

“Mulder, I need you to calm down and take a deep breath… Come on, breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth.”

Scully listened as his breathing became slower, controlled. His sobs soon halted.

She sat back down on the bed. “Okay, Mulder. Talk to me.”

“Scully… the Smoking Man, he’s my father.”

She didn’t know what to say to that. “Mulder, why would you think that?”

“I don’t ‘think’ it, Scully. I know it. He is. Remember, a few years ago, I started to retrieve those suppressed memories from my childhood. He was there, when I was a kid. He was around. I saw him with my mother, and I just know it’s the truth.”

She sighed. “Yes, I remember. But, if you remember, Mulder, you were also drilling holes in your head, so you really shouldn’t trust those memories.”

“Scully, he told me himself when he took me from the hospital. He’s my father. If you have a child, Scully, it will be tainted. I have his DNA. You don’t want that. You don’t want me.”

She closed her eyes and sighed, rubbing her fingers across her forehead. Did this really change anything? Mulder seemed to think it would. But did it really matter to her who his biological father was?

“Okay, well, you have his DNA. Do you believe that you are tainted by it, Mulder? Because I don’t.”

He sighed into the phone.

“Mulder, you are nothing like him, at least not in the ways that truly matter in life. He’s a coward and a liar, who would selfishly save his own skin at the expense of the rest of the world. He is cruel and deceitful, and there is not an ounce of love or decency in his heart.”

He made no attempt at a reply, and just sighed again.

“And Mulder, you… you are the best man I’ve ever known.”

Silence. “Scully, I’m gonna drive home later this morning, after I try to get a few more hours sleep. I should be back in D.C. by mid-afternoon. Do you have plans for today?”

“Well, I have church in the morning,” she paused. “But I’ll be back home after lunch. Why?”

“You’re going to church, Scully?”

“Yes,” she replied. “You told me not to count out God, remember?”

He snorted. “Right. Okay, well, when I get back, um… can I hang out at your place?”

Scully smiled into the phone. “Of course, Mulder.”

“Great. Speno might be watching my apartment to see when I get home. I’ll, uh… see you later, then. I’m going back to bed.”

“See you later,” Scully said, before hanging up the phone. As she shut off the light, and lied back down in bed, she wondered what could’ve gotten Mulder into such a state. She then remembered he had mentioned an unpleasant conversation he’d had earlier with his mother. She often wondered how Mulder had turned out so brilliant when he was raised by such ineffectual parents. Maybe DNA did play a small role in his make-up, but she didn’t think she could ever begin to explain how someone as exceptional as Mulder developed from such ignoble roots.

Chapter Text

At 4:05 pm on Sunday afternoon, September 12th, Mulder arrived at Scully’s apartment after his drive back from Connecticut. He sat in her kitchen while she cooked dinner for them; penne with vodka sauce. He helped her set the table, and then grabbed the bottle of white wine from her fridge and two wine glasses.

“Oh, Mulder,” said Scully. “I can’t drink.”

He gave her a puzzled look, and then understood. “At all?”

“Not during the IVF process, no,” she replied.

He put the glasses and the wine away.

“You can still have wine, if you want, Mulder.”

“Nah,” he shrugged. He walked to another cabinet and pulled out two acrylic water glasses.

Mulder and Scully sat down to dinner, each wanting to broach the subject of the IVF attempt, but not quite knowing how. So they talked about everything but. Fear held them back; Scully’s fear that he wanted no personal involvement if she became pregnant, Mulder’s fear that she didn’t want him involved. They were afraid to find out, and this fear was so overpowering it prevented them from even asking the question.

In reality, the fear stemmed from something else entirely, from what was buried beneath the surface: their real feelings for each other. Deep down, Scully’s subconscious directly connected Mulder’s decision about how involved he’d be in the potential pregnancy with his feelings about her. If he wanted no personal involvement, then it was clear how he really felt about her. She was his friend, and any thoughts of her becoming more than that were foreign to him. In turn, Mulder felt that if Scully didn’t want him to have any part in the life of her child, she didn’t feel the same way about him as he felt about her. The idea terrified them, and so they’d rather not know, yet still knowing full well this conversation loomed ahead of them if the IVF procedure were to succeed.

On Monday, Mulder and Scully were once again in the fourth floor courthouse in one of the D.C. district court buildings. Stephanie Speno’s direct examination of Mulder in the morning went by without any hiccups. When Judge Bender adjourned court for lunch recess, Scully once again drove back to College Park, Maryland to meet with Dr. Parenti.

“Okay, Ms. Scully,” Dr. Parenti said to her as she sat in an exam room. “Now, with normal IVF procedures, we start by giving the woman hormones for ovarian stimulation, so that we can collect viable eggs. However, your ova have already been collected. But, you clearly haven’t ovulated in a very long time and it’s been over two months since your last menstrual cycle. Even though your hormone levels are good, I’m going to start you on a 10-day treatment of estrogen and progesterone to strengthen your uterine lining before we begin embryo transplantation.”

Scully nodded. “Okay.”

“I also spoke with your partner this morning and he’ll be coming in this Wednesday evening, on the 15th, to give us a sperm sample.”

She felt her face redden slightly, and she nodded.

“On the 17th, we’ll perform insemination. Hopefully, in four days’ time we’ll have at least three healthy embryos to choose from and on the 20th we can perform the embryo transplantation."

Scully gave a small smile, feeling herself get excited. But she then chided herself. This could all be for nothing. Don’t get your hopes up.

“Then, after 12 days, we’ll have you come in and we’ll give you a pregnancy test.”

She took a deep breath. “Okay. Thank you so much, Dr. Parenti.”

He smiled warmly at her. "I can’t say the chance is very high that your ova will produce enough healthy embryos, but it’s far from impossible and it’s definitely worth a try.”

Scully nodded, feeling herself getting nervous.

*****

On Wednesday, another long day in court ensued. This time Scully was put on the stand and she gave her testimony concerning the events that had occurred on that day back in February at Cradock Marine Bank. At 4:45 pm, court adjourned for the day. Later that night, Mulder called her when he returned home from College Park.

“Well, Scully… I, uh… deposited my sample.”

She laughed nervously. “I’d ask you how it went, but I won’t.”

He chuckled. “It was painless.”

“Uh-huh,” she said. God, this was so embarrassing.

Scully didn’t really want to think about Mulder masturbating. Usually, this thought only made her sad. There were times over the years when she’d come by his apartment in the evening, unexpectedly or earlier than anticipated, and she could hear through the door what was unmistakably an adult film playing in his living room. She’d knock on the door, and then she could hear him scrambling, possibly tripping over furniture or his shoes, the sound from the TV silenced, and Mulder calling out that he’d be right there. Thankfully, this hadn’t happened at all in recent memory. But the thought of him, sitting in his living room alone and touching himself, when he easily could have the real thing anytime he wanted, had always made her feel sad. She wasn’t really sure why it made her feel that way, but then she’d quickly push that feeling aside before she could think about it too much.

Now, the thought of Mulder touching himself to orgasm made her feelings a jumbled mess. Sure, she still thought it was kind of sad, but she was also overcome with a desire to watch him do it, making her feel very uncomfortable. She desperately tried to push the images that her mind was producing far away from her as Mulder spoke on the phone about everything Dr. Parenti had explained to him about the IVF process.

On Thursday morning, the 16th, Dr. Parenti called Scully on the phone to tell her that they’d decided to inseminate seven of her eggs in hopes to have one to three healthy embryos for implantation. She could feel the excitement growing in the pit of her stomach, despite her inward battle with herself to not expect too much.

Also on Thursday, Bernard Oates’ defense began its presentation of evidence. To everyone’s chagrin, his defense laid in the supposition that Mulder was a crazed man with weird ideas who dragged Pamela Hamilton into the bank, forcing her to get shot by Oates. To Mulder’s extreme displeasure, he was once again called to the stand. Fortunately, Oates’ defense lawyer, Catalano, didn’t have much ground to stand on as Judge Bender frequently threatened him with contempt for continuing to mention Mulder’s “crackpot” history on the X-Files as a way to prove that his actions in the bank were questionable and that Pamela’s death could’ve been prevented. Each time the judge threatened contempt, Oates became increasingly distressed. At the end of the day, Ms. Speno mentioned to Mulder and Scully that Oates was now requesting a deal. He thanked his lucky stars that the trial would soon be over.

*****

Early on Monday evening, September 20th, Mulder drove with Scully to College Park. She hadn’t asked him to come along, and he hadn’t mentioned to her that he wanted to go with her. But after leaving the basement office and walking to the parking garage, he followed her to her car instead of making for his own vehicle and driving home. He didn’t say a word and she didn’t question it.

Upon arriving at the Parenti Medical Group shortly before 6:00 pm, Dr. Parenti then greeted Scully and Mulder in the waiting area and brought them back to his office.

As they sat down at Dr. Parenti’s desk, he threw a warm smile in their direction. “I have some very good news for you.”

Scully went wide-eyed, her mouth falling open, and her hands started shaking in her lap. Mulder reached over and held one of her hands in his. She couldn’t look at him. She thought that if she looked at him, she would burst into tears.

Dr. Parenti smiled at them. “Two of the inseminated eggs have become healthy embryos. So if you’re ready, we can do the embryo transfer now. Then we’ll have you come in on Friday, October 1st after you get out of work, and you’ll take a pregnancy test.”

“Oh, my God,” Scully breathed, blinking back tears. Mulder held her hand tighter. She turned to look at him, and he was smiling at her, his eyes full of emotion. She smiled in return, and then turned back to the doctor.

“I hope you’ve been drinking a lot of water today,” Dr. Parent smiled at her, getting up.

“Uh, It’s important to have a full bladder to allow ultrasound guidance for the transfer,” he said to a confused Mulder. He nodded his comprehension.

Scully chuckled. “Yes, I have.”

“Good,” he replied.

They followed Dr. Parenti out of his office. Mulder went to the waiting room, while Scully was directed to a medical exam room.

*****

The next 12 days proved to be excruciating. Anxiety, doubt, and fear were constants within the minds of both Mulder and Scully. They still hadn’t had a conversation about what they wanted, or what their plans were, if they found her to be pregnant. He supposed this was a good thing, in case the IVF failed. Why plan for a future that may never come?

Fortunately, they could use work to take their minds off the waiting game. Mulder was called in by the Behavioral Science Unit to act as a consulting analyst on a high profile case. A serial killer had emerged on the streets of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and had killed several young men, their bodies found with signs of torture and mutilation. Upon the discovery of the seventh victim in as many months and virtually no suspects, the FBI had been called in to take over the case from the state police. The FBI investigation had ended up taking on the atmosphere of a manhunt, but with no man to hunt down. An eighth victim was found in the dumpster behind an abandoned apartment building. The FBI still had no suspects.

Mulder assumed that it was out of desperation that the Behavioral Science Unit called him for his help, almost pleading with him to come to Pittsburgh. Scully told him that underneath the derision he may receive from his peers, deep down they knew he was brilliant and would stop at nothing to find the truth. And that’s why many scorned him, because they believed he was wasting away his talents, and he could do amazing things if he buckled down and got some career ambition. He'd scoffed at her, but he did go to Pittsburgh, and it was his criminal profile that helped SAC Gary King and his investigative team find the killer and make an arrest before a ninth person could fall victim to his crimes.

Scully was also keeping busy. Another criminal investigation had discovered a mass grave in rural Virginia. Twenty seven bodies, male and female, young and old, had been found in Culpeper County on the 145-acre property of one Jerome Baker, the leader of a small independent church called “The Adoration of the Inevitable Promise.” Jerome Baker was found two hours later attempting to fly to Mexico out of Dulles International Airport. All 27 bodies were then sent to Quantico to be autopsied, and the head pathologist requested Scully to assist them with the workload.

On Friday afternoon, October 1st, she could still be found at Quantico deliberating with the other pathologists on their autopsy reports for all 27 victims. At 4:13 pm, her ringing cell phone told her Mulder was on the line.

“Hello.”

“Scully?”

“Hi, Mulder.”

“I’m at the Pittsburgh airport, boarding my plane now, and on my way back to D.C. I should be arriving at Dulles just after 5:30. I can meet you at College Park.”

She hesitated. “Mulder… I’m only going to take a pregnancy test. It’s only going to take a few minutes. There’s no point in rushing from the airport to meet me there when it’ll be over by the time you get there.”

“Well, then I can meet you at your apartment,” he said.

Scully bit her lip. She didn’t know if she wanted him around when she learned the news. If it was bad news, she’d want to be alone with her grief. She didn’t want to break down in front of him.

“Mulder, you’ve been working nonstop for the past 10 days. Just go home, and I’ll call you when I get back from College Park. Okay?”

He sighed. “Sure, Scully.”

She hung up the phone. She fervently hoped she would get positive results from the pregnancy test, but also dreaded the opposite. Scully had a feeling that her life would change, either way.

Chapter Text

Scully was a bundle of nerves as she drove from Quantico, Virginia to College Park, Maryland late on Friday afternoon. Over the past 12 days, she hadn’t felt much of a difference in her body, and this concerned her. She had been hoping there would be some sign, that she’d be able to sense if the IVF worked. But she didn’t experience any cramping, sore breasts, increased urination, or heartburn. As the days went by, she couldn’t feel anything. But she knew 12 days was a very short period of time and that many women may not experience pregnancy symptoms for several weeks.

She also knew that she’d done everything Dr. Parenti had directed her to after the embryo transplantation: she took three doses of progesterone daily, she drank Gatorade all day (despite not finding any flavor she could really stomach), she ate more protein, and she took it easy. She stopped going for runs or any other exercise, and she requested a student assistant to help her at Quantico so that she didn’t have to do anything strenuous during the autopsies she performed. She spent a lot of time sitting whenever she could while at work, and relaxing when at home.

Despite all this, Scully spent the entire hour-long drive putting up walls around her heart in an effort to protect her from the heartbreak of hearing bad news. If she expected the worst, then maybe the worst wouldn’t be so devastating. By the time she’d pulled into the parking lot of the Parenti Medical Group at 6:13 pm, she was still trying to convince herself that she’d been hoping in vain and she couldn't possibly be pregnant.

*****

Mulder was a bundle of nerves the entire hour-long flight from Pittsburgh to D.C. He walked off the plane and exited through the Arrivals doors a few minutes before 5:30 pm, hailed a taxi, and by the time he’d arrived at his apartment 30 minutes later he was sick with anxious anticipation. He walked into his bedroom, tossing his navy blue suit jacket on the bed. He unbuckled and removed his belt, and took off his pants, also laying them on top of the bed. He then reached into the third drawer of his dresser and pulled out a pair of dark jeans. After putting them on and sticking his wallet in the right back pocket and his keys in the front, he went to his closet and picked out a long-sleeved shirt, pulling it over his white undershirt.

He spent a few minutes bouncing his basketball around his living room until his downstairs neighbor started pounding his ceiling beneath his floor. Mulder then spent 10 minutes pacing his apartment, walking between the living room and the kitchen and back again, his mind racing, and staring at his telephone.

What if it worked? What if it really worked? What if Scully’s pregnant? Would she quit the X-Files? She’d have to. Maybe. Yes, she’d have to. It would be too dangerous. Maybe he would go back to the Behavioral Science Unit. They could still be partners. Or maybe back to the Violent Crimes Unit. Ugh… he guessed it wouldn’t be terrible if he had Scully with him. But would she even want to work with the VCU? Hmm… maybe she’d just go back to teaching at Quantico; that wouldn’t be so bad. Or maybe she’d quit the FBI altogether and get a job at one of the hospitals in the city. Oh, God… did he even want to work at the FBI without her? Did he make enough money to pay child support? Damn. He never asked her if she wanted him to pay child support. Knowing Scully, she probably wouldn’t accept it from him anyways. Would the kid even know who he is? Was he going to be a father? Would the kid call him ‘dad’? Would they be a family? If she did quit the FBI, he guessed they could actually all live together under one roof. Nope, don’t think about that. But would Scully even allow him to be the father? He didn’t know what she wanted. Oh, no, what if she doesn’t? Don’t think about that. God… what if Scully is pregnant? Oh, man… what if she isn’t?

Mulder pushed that painful thought away and looked at the clock: 6:20 pm. He thought he should wait for her at her place, and then reminded himself that she clearly didn’t want him there, and probably wanted to be by herself. But he couldn’t stand being alone in his apartment, pacing the floor, for one more minute. Fuck it. Mulder put on his sneakers and grabbed his jacket before heading out the door.

*****

Scully was greeted by a nurse in Dr. Parenti's office waiting room on the sixth floor of the Parenti Medical Group building, was given a cup to provide a urine sample, and then instructed to leave the cup on the bathroom sink. After this was done, she was ushered into Dr. Parenti’s office. As she sat in one of the beige chairs in front of his desk, waiting for him to come in, she thought she could throw up at any second.

“Dana,” Dr. Parenti said as he walked into the office. “Hello.”

“Dr. Parenti,” Scully said as she started to stand up, but he motioned for her to keep sitting. He sat down at his desk, with his clipboard.

“Okay… yesterday morning you had a blood test done at Lifecare Medical Associates in D.C. and they sent us the results this afternoon. We also just tested your urine.”

Her stomach was doing somersaults and she started to brace herself for the bad news.

“I’m afraid both tests showed that you are not pregnant,” Dr. Parenti sighed. “I’m sorry, Dana.”

She didn’t know what to say. Scully took some deep breaths to remain calm. She didn’t want to break down. She was strong. She could handle this. She'd already been barren for two years, she thought. It’s not like this was shocking news to her. She stared down at her hands in her lap, blinking back tears.

“Dana, this was just the first try. Many women go through several IVF cycles before one succeeds.”

Scully looked up at him. “What… what do you mean?”

“Did you think that I was only going to try once and then give up on you?” Dr. Parenti asked, his voice empathetic and kind.

She chewed her bottom lip, tears welling up in her eyes.

“You do want to try again, don’t you? We have your remaining frozen ova. We froze the remaining sperm sample. Of course, our preference is to work with fresh sperm when possible. I’m sure your partner wouldn’t mind providing another sample at a later date. And there are other techniques and methods that we haven’t even explored yet. We’re far from exhausting all of your options.”

Scully sighed.

“Dana. I’m not giving up on you and I’m not going to let you give up on yourself.”

She nodded. But did she have the heart to go through this again? She didn’t know.

“With an unsuccessful IVF attempt, you can expect to get your period any day now. But after your following menstrual cycle, hopefully just a month from now, we can start the process again. Okay? Don’t give up, Dana.”

“Okay,” she sighed. Scully tried to remain positive, but she felt grief and fear seizing hold of her as Dr. Parenti began to explain to her how the next process could go, and the different methods they could try.

*****

Mulder arrived at Scully’s apartment at 6:49 pm, unlocking her door and stepping inside. He turned on a couple lights. He’d been alone in her apartment before, waiting for her, but this had a completely different feeling. He hoped she’d be home soon. He paced the floor between her kitchen and living room, he turned on the TV and turned it right back off; he then went to the bathroom to empty his bladder, and he saw the open doorway to her bedroom.

He could count on one hand the number of times he’d been in that room. He remembered one night, waiting for her, sitting in there in the dark. He stopped and stared at it. He wondered why she kept it open. His was always closed, even though a bed had mysteriously appeared in there a year ago and he’d actually started using his bedroom for the first time since Diana left him all those years ago. Yet, the door was always shut, whether he was inside the room or not. And here was Scully’s bedroom door, left wide open, and she wasn’t even home. Mulder’s psychology degree kicked in, but he pushed it away before he could start to analyze himself too much.

Mulder felt anxious and his throat felt parched. He grabbed a bottle of beer from the fridge and drank the whole thing in under a minute. He then checked his watch: 7:16 pm. Where was Scully? He didn’t know if the longer she was gone meant good news or bad news.

He grew tired of pacing, and sat on the couch. His mind was no longer racing and his anxiety started to dissipate somewhat. Mulder suddenly felt tired, and stretched himself out on the couch, putting two pillows under his head. He shut his eyes, and drifted off.

*****

Scully pulled out her keys and to unlock her apartment door. She wished she could just call Mulder in the morning, but she knew he was just as anxious as she’d been to find out, and she couldn’t make him wait until tomorrow. Besides, she knew he would just end up calling her if he thought he'd been waiting too long to hear from her.

As she unlocked the door and stepped inside, closing the door behind her, Mulder awoke to the sound and turned his head back to see her standing inside the door.

“Scully?” he said, getting up off the couch.

Of course he’s there. She found that she was not surprised in the least to see him there. But she didn’t know how to tell him. She didn’t want to say it out loud.

“I must’ve dozed off,” he said, blinking himself further awake. “I was waiting for you to get back.”

As Scully walked toward him, Mulder looked at her with a sinking heart. Oh, no. “It didn’t take, did it?”

“I guess it was too much to hope for,” she replied, her chin quivering. As much as she was trying to fight them, Scully could feel the tears welling up, and her throat constricting. To speak the words out loud was so painful.

Mulder shook his head and reached for her, and she moved towards him, wrapping her arms around him and letting him hold her.

“It was my last chance,” Scully cried over his shoulder, and he gripped her tighter to him.

Mulder closed his eyes and felt his heart breaking. He couldn’t help feeling that this had been his last chance, too, but didn’t want to dwell on that thought. He knew she needed him to be the strong one now. He had always been the believer to her skeptic, and he thought that if there was ever a time when Scully most needed the strength of his beliefs and convictions, now was that time.

He pulled away from her slightly, his hands moving from her back to caress her arms, and kissed her forehead as Scully gave a shuddering sob. He then pressed his forehead against hers and moved his right hand to hold her waist.

“Never give up on a miracle.”

Mulder was the second person tonight to tell her not to give up. What would she ever do without him? She raised her right arm over his shoulder, and moved her other arm around his back, as she brought her face to his and kissed him near his mouth, and then his neck. He then wrapped his arms around her, holding her tightly to him.

"Please stay," she said, her voice breaking. "Don't go."

He smiled into her hair. "I'm not going anywhere, Scully. I'll stay for as long as you want me to stay."

She was now glad that Mulder had completely disregarded what she told him to do, and showed up at her apartment anyway. She was glad she wasn’t alone. But she was alone, really. She'd always be alone. Scully felt fresh tears welling up in her eyes and she once again began crying into his shoulder.

“I hate being all alone, Mulder,” Scully sobbed.

He felt his heart sinking into his stomach.

She was going to grow old and die alone. With no one who really loved her, with no one who needed her; old and unloved with her dried up, barren womb. Scully continued to cry.

Mulder thought that he had never felt sadder in all his life than at this moment. But… she wasn't alone. Why did she think that?

“Scully, you’ll never be alone. You’ve got me.” But to his dismay, instead of these words being a comfort, they only made her cry harder. He sighed. “Scully, come on… come sit on the couch.”

He moved his hands to her jacket, unbuttoning it, and then pushed the jacket down and off her arms. He wrapped an arm around her and guided her to the couch, laying her jacket over the back of it. He then walked into the kitchen, grabbing her kettle and adding water to it, before setting it back down on the stove and turning on the burner. He went to a cabinet and pulled out a mug, before grabbing a chamomile tea bag from its box on top of the counter. Mulder turned a concerned glance back into the living room to see Scully still sitting on the couch, staring at the empty fireplace, before returning to the kitchen.

Sadness overwhelmed Scully as she sat on the couch, but eventually her breathing calmed and her tears stopped. She could hear Mulder behind her in the kitchen, but she wasn’t paying enough attention to comprehend what he was doing in there. She thought she might’ve heard him opening her cabinets. He had told her she wasn’t alone because she had him. But did she? Really? Not the way she wanted. The pain was back; not the pain of her barrenness and crushed hopes, but the pain of loving Mulder.

Why was her fear so debilitating? She wanted love, needed love. But why was she so afraid to ask for it? To show it? She thought of the twisted psychos that she’d looked into the eyes of, bravely fought against for her very life; she thought of the commanding respect, and maybe even fear, she received from her superiors and her peers. They knew she was tough, she was someone who wouldn’t compromise her standards; she was someone who would never apologize for her intelligence just because she’s a woman. Ice Queen, as if. She's fucking mush inside, and she knew it, so she put up these ever-moving, maze-like brick walls to protect that soft mush because she knew from a young age that she did could not cope very well with pain and loss.

But Mulder, unknowingly and unintentionally, had stealthily made his way through that maze around her heart, and embedded himself into the soft mush. And Scully knew that meant he was never getting out, which only caused her pain and heartache over what would never be hers. Sometimes it caused her unending frustration that Mulder couldn’t see what she needed from him. Sometimes she felt like her feelings were written all over her, and that he’d find out any second. She cursed the commanding respect, and the fear, because she received those things from Mulder too. And she wondered if he would ever be able to disassociate who she was as an FBI agent from who she was as a woman, if Mulder would ever look beyond her badge and her sensible suits to see the caged fire underneath that was desperate to be set free. As Scully sat on her couch, she felt stuck, and hopeless.

Mulder stood in the kitchen, waiting for the water to boil, guilt and shame flooding his stomach. This was all his fault. All of it. He thought of everything that had been taken away from her, but he knew she was young enough to still be able to attain some of those things. Sure, she had him, but he couldn’t keep her chained to him anymore. She deserved better. She deserved more. He couldn’t make her go on like this. It wasn’t fair. She was unhappy, and he was the cause of it. This had gone on long enough. He had to draw the line sometime, and he was going to do it right now, even if it meant ripping out his own heart and banishing the rest of his life to miserable darkness.

The kettle started whistling, and he quickly grabbed for it and poured hot water onto the chamomile tea bag inside the mug. He then went searching through her cabinets until he found what he was looking for. He grabbed a spoon from the silverware drawer and stirred two tablespoons of honey into the tea. He stood there, watching the tea steep. He was frozen in that spot, trying to will himself into walking out to the living room and doing what he’d decided to do. Mulder knew that when he left the kitchen, his life would change.

Chapter Text

Mulder walked out to the couch with the tea, and handed the mug to Scully. She smiled, and thanked him. He was relieved to see she had stopped crying. He sat down on the couch, and she felt disappointed that he had sat himself nearly out of arm’s reach. He watched her drink the hot tea, watched her sigh with satisfaction as it warmed her insides and calmed her mind. By the time she’d drank the entire mug, leaving only the dregs, her eyes were no longer bloodshot and the red blotchiness of emotion was gone from her face.

“What did Dr. Parenti say, Scully?”

“I don’t want to talk about that right now, Mulder.” She turned to see his furrowed brows and worried expression. “I’m sorry, Mulder. I promise I’ll tell you, but maybe tomorrow or in a couple days. I just don’t want to think about it right now.”

He nodded.

“How was Pittsburgh?” Scully asked.

Oh, God. Why remind him? “Uh… it was horrible, but we caught the guy. I don’t really want to talk about it. I’d like to forget it, actually.”

“I’m sorry for bringing it up,” she sighed, giving him a sympathetic look. She’d like to forget those 27 dead men, women, and children that had been found in Virginia, victims of a megalomaniacal cult leader.

“That’s okay, Scully.” Come on, you worthless fuck. Speak your piece and get it over with.

She smiled and said, “Thanks for the tea,” before setting her empty mug down on the coffee table.

Mulder nodded at her, and then bent over, putting his elbows on his knees, and stared at his entwined hands. Scully’s eyes flew to his posture, knowing full well it meant that the conversation was about to turn unpleasant. She shifted on the couch, moving closer to him, and turning sideways to face him, with her right leg bent under her and the other draped over the side, her left foot barely touching the floor.

He closed his eyes and swallowed. He couldn't do it, he couldn't. He couldn't live without her. You fucking piece of shit. You selfish fucking bastard. He owed her everything, and he could start making it up to her by letting her go.

Mulder sighed. “Scully. I’ve been doing a lot of thinking, not just tonight or in the past couple weeks, but several months, really…”

She went wide-eyed, and her stomach twisted into a knot of fear. She didn’t like his tone of voice. She didn’t like his posture, and the fact that he was speaking to his hands and not her face. She didn’t like where this was heading. In her experience, every conversation she’d ever had that started off with “I’ve been doing a lot of thinking” never, ever ended well. She suddenly got an overwhelming feeling that she was about to get dumped, a feeling she hadn’t experienced since high school.

“Scully… you deserve a real life. You deserve to be happy. You deserve the successful career you’d always wanted, your family always wanted for you. You deserve the big house in Fairfax or Falls Church, with all the other affluent families. You deserve to have the loving marriage to a successful, respectable husband, and as many children as you want. These things… they’ve been taken away from you: your chance to be a mother, your sister, your health, your safety. They’ve all been sacrificed to me, and my journey, my quest, whatever you want to call it. I can’t let you do it anymore.”

“Mulder…”

“No, I’ve made up my mind. You’re done with the X-Files, Scully. I’m going to talk to Skinner first thing Monday morning. And then you can do whatever you want. Go back to Quantico, or start practicing medicine. I’m sure any hospital in the country would fall all over themselves to hire you.”

“Mulder.”

“I’m not finished, Scully. I’ve done nothing but drag you down. Look at the lives of your brothers and their wives, their kids. That could’ve been your life, too. Look at the life and the promise you had in front of you when you walked into my office that first day. God, Scully, you were only 29 years old. Look at all the shit that’s happened to you since. It makes me sick. I had no right to involve another person, to endanger you all these years and wind up with nothing. Have I found my sister? What have I accomplished, exactly? None of it was worth what you’ve sacrificed. I put you through hell, Scully. I put your family through hell. Your life would’ve been so much better if we had never even met. So… I’m drawing the line here, Scully. It’s over. Go be a doctor. Go live your life. Find some happiness. That’ll only happen if you keep as far away from me as you can.” I want to die.

She blinked back tears. “If we had never even met?” What if she’d never been assigned to work with him? Where would she be now? She might still be with the FBI, maybe not. She might be working in a hospital, or have her own practice. She might’ve found some man somewhere who she finally allowed herself to stay with for longer than a year, and maybe gotten over her fear of commitment, settled down into suburbia and had some kids. The thought filled Scully with horror.

As she watched him sitting there bent over with his elbows on his knees, it dawned on her that not once during that whole speech had his eyes left his hands. Scully knew Mulder well enough to know that if he had really and truly meant everything he said, he would’ve said it straight to her face, like that night at his apartment when he was yelling his reasons for keeping her ova a secret from her. He’d looked her in the eyes and spoke the truth. What wasn’t he telling her? What was he hiding? The reason why he had to say it to his hands, why he couldn’t look her in the eyes. But… what was it? She was determined to find out.

“Mulder… you’re right.”

He closed his eyes. He's lost her. It’s over now. The deed was done.

Scully watched Mulder’s hands tighten into fists. She knew she was heading in the right direction.

“I could’ve had a husband. Maybe he’d be a doctor, or some FBI agent or police officer, maybe a stock broker or a politician. I could’ve had the big million-dollar house with the white picket fence, lots of kids, and a dog. I could’ve had the life my family wanted me to have, the life I always had expected myself to have. I might’ve been happy, but that’s not always the case with marriages and families, is it? But, yes, I could’ve been a mother, spent my years loving and caring for my children. And all that was taken away from me the moment I stepped into your office over six years ago. I missed out on a lot of things.”

Mulder felt like his heart was shredding into a million little pieces. He wanted to die... he wanted to die.

Scully watched him as she said all this. He was still bent over, not once looking up at her; his brows were furrowed, his eyes closed, his fists clenching, his jaw grinding. How could she make him understand without thoroughly embarrassing herself and saying something she shouldn't? Like, 'I love you.' Ugh, she couldn't. Those words wouldn't even cover it, anyways.

“Mulder…”

He started to feel panicked. He had to get out of there.

“Mulder, look at me.” Scully’s eyes welled up with tears, her voice breaking.

He sighed, and then sat up straight, opening his eyes, and turned to look at her. Scully could see that his eyes were shining with unshed tears. Mulder could see that she was staring fiercely at him, as if willing him to maintain eye contact; willing him to understand, to believe what she’s going to say.

“I wouldn’t trade the past six years with you for six years spent elsewhere. Mulder, I wouldn’t trade you for the biggest house, the highest-paying job, or the best husband.”

He blinked at her. What was she saying?

“Mulder… I wouldn’t trade you for a dozen children.”

He stared at her. What… what did she just say? Mulder saw something in Scully’s eyes, in her face. Desire? Affection? Both? Her eyes were pleading with him. He couldn’t believe what he was seeing. But this was the exact opposite of what he was trying to do. He was trying to make her leave him. Not want to stay. But, oh God, she kept looking at him like that…

Scully saw the same look come over his face that he’d had when he told her “yes” to her request to help her get pregnant. His eyes filled with tenderness, and his face softened. She saw something there in his eyes, but couldn’t define it. His face… he was looking at her like… she didn’t know. He'd never really looked at her like that before, this was new to her. She noticed that his breathing had gradually quickened and his pupils had dilated slightly.

In that moment Dana Scully realized three things.

1) She had to make it clear that in no way, shape, or form was Mulder ever getting rid of her. 2) Mulder was never going to be the one to act on feelings or impulses and she was wasting her time waiting for him to do so; it had to be her. 3) She could finally grow a spine and ignore that voice in her head who was always telling her that Mulder had no feelings for her other than the platonic love of friendship or, she could end up a bitter old woman looking back on this night, wishing she’d been braver.

And in that moment, Dana Scully made a snap decision. She pushed off the floor with her left foot, lifting herself up above the couch cushion with her right knee, and launched herself forward toward Mulder, landing on his lap and straddling him.

Mulder’s arms had instinctively reached out for Scully’s body, as though he was reaching out to catch a baseball flying at his face. And before he could truly comprehend what was happening, she was pressed up against him and her mouth was on his, softly moving her lips against him. He held her to him, and then slowly returned her kiss.

Scully sighed into his mouth, moving her hands to his hair, causing him to wrap his arms tighter around her back, pressing her into his chest. He was trying to tell himself what a bad idea this was and this could be a huge mistake, but his brain had gone fuzzy and every mental reprimand was beaten back by the movement of her soft lips against his mouth. And when Scully darted out her tongue, slowly brushing across Mulder’s bottom lip, his groin tightened and he groaned, opening his mouth slightly, allowing her tongue to enter.

Their kissing intensified with her tongue finding his, and his hands went from her back to her hips, grinding her against the stiffening member inside his jeans. Soon they had to pull away in order to breathe. She leaned her forehead against his, panting for breath, while she continued to move her hips against his, seeking some friction for her awakening clitoris.

He started panicking. They shouldn’t be doing this. What was this? What was happening?

“Mulder?” Scully whispered. She was going to do it. She had to be the one to act. He never would.

“Hmm?” he breathed, still panting.

“Stay with me tonight.”

Oh, my God. This can’t be happening.

“Mulder, you said you’d stay for as long as I want you to stay,” Scully whispered, continuing to rock her hips against his. They were both starting to burn, her clit coming alive and his cock now hard and bulging inside his jeans. “And I want you to stay... all night.”

He just stared at her, breathing heavy. He didn’t know what to say. He couldn’t believe she actually wanted him. Well, she just said tonight. This might just be a one-night thing. Oh, God. He don’t know how he felt about that. This could ruin everything. But wasn’t he just trying to end their partnership? He should’ve known it would be impossible. And he'd been worried IVF could come between them. This definitely could. But wasn't this what he'd wanted? What he'd dreamed about? But this could turn out so badly! But… oh God, he wanted to fuck her.

Scully looked into his dilated pupils and saw that the green of his eyes had darkened to a forest green shade or maybe it was dark moss, and she could see flecks of gold in his irises. She could feel his heart pounding in his chest. She then removed herself from his lap, standing up in front of the couch. She smoothed out her black shirt over her abdomen, and looked down at Mulder, sitting there on the couch, breathing heavily with his erect cock protruding from his lap. He was still staring at her, eyes wide. She could tell his mind was in overdrive.

And Scully held out her hand to him.

Mulder sighed, and reached out to take her hand. As he stood up off the couch, she turned and, holding onto his hand the entire way, led him through her hallway, past the closed door to her guest room and the bathroom, and through the open doorway of her bedroom. The room was dark but as their eyes adjusted to it, the room seemed lit well enough by the moon and the city lights outside the bedroom window.

Scully closed her bedroom door, and turned to face Mulder. She walked towards him, and slipped her arms around his waist, and up his back, pressing her abdomen and breasts into his body. She looked up at his face, and he bent down to kiss her, his arms snaking around her back. As his lips touched hers, she felt new waves of desire pool at her center. She started to squirm, needing relief.

But then doubts and insecurities welled up inside Mulder. Almost every night in his dreams, he held Scully in his arms and pleased her. He knew exactly what to do, and how to do it. He made her moan and come. But those were just dreams. He knew that reality was very different; it could be painfully, embarrassingly different.

“Scully…” he said, pulling out of the kiss and panting.

“What, Mulder?” she replied, also breathing hard, looking up into his face, but he averted his eyes.

He felt the insecurity begin to crush him. “Um… I haven’t done this in a really long time and, uh…”

She gave him a small smile, and shrugged. “Me neither.”

He snorted. “Yeah.”

Mulder’s eyes flew to hers, and realized that she really did want him. This was something she wanted. Something she needed. And he could give it to her. She had wanted him before, but she’d fucked Jerse instead because he couldn’t get his head out of his ass. She probably would’ve fucked Padgett too, if he hadn’t intervened. And then both those men tried to kill her. He suddenly wanted to do this, really wanted to do this. He pushed all his nagging fears, and doubts, and insecurities away. He pushed away all his reasons for why they shouldn’t be doing this. He was going to fuck Scully. She needed him. He was going to make her feel good. He could do this.

And his mouth was on hers, kissing her slowly, but passionately, mentally recording the softness of Scully’s lips and the firmness of her tongue against his. To Mulder’s surprise, he found he was in no hurry. In all his fantasies and his dreams about Scully, there was frenzied kissing and a keen sense of urgency, where they frantically ripped at their clothes and groped at each other in the dark, thrusting and grinding as if their lives depended on coming as soon as possible. But now, on this night, standing in Scully’s darkened bedroom, there was no urgency. He had no desire to rush. He wanted this to last as long as possible. He didn’t want it to be over almost as soon as it had begun.

Mulder turned them around, and walked her backwards until the back of her thighs hit the bed.

“Get on the bed, Scully,” he breathed, staring down at her, heavy-lidded.

She felt her clit throb at his words, and a fresh wave of moisture poured out from her center. She sat on top of the comforter, Mulder holding onto her hips as she scooched herself back towards the headboard. She lay down on her back, and he climbed up, lying on his side next to her and holding himself up above her with his forearm. He wrapped his other arm around her waist, and turned her slightly to the side to face him, while pushing his leg up between hers, settling his thigh against her center. Scully squirmed against his leg. Mulder grinned, before leaning down and once again devouring her lips.

Scully’s hand went to Mulder’s hair, while her other hand snaked up and inside his undershirt, languidly brushing her fingertips up and down his back. She could feel his erection prodding her hip. She then sent her other hand to the hem of his shirt and pulled it off, together with his white undershirt, in one motion. Her lips found his again, and she wrapped her arms around his bare back, running her fingers up and down his skin. Mulder’s head was swimming and his blood boiled. He didn’t want to hurry, but Scully was now rocking against his thigh.

Her clit was now throbbing unbearably and she desperately needed some relief. "Mulder," she whimpered.

He never thought he’d hear such a sound come from Scully. His groin tightened even more, his swollen cock straining painfully. He sat up slightly. He grinned at her, and then grabbing the hem of her black shirt, pulled it up and off over her head. Mulder looked down at her black lace bra, and groaned. How many years had it been since he’d seen breasts? Real, live breasts.

He leaned back down, capturing her mouth, and pressing his chest against hers. Despite her aching need, Scully started to worry. She looked nothing like those women in Mulder’s video collection. Her breasts were nothing like the large orbs planted on the chests of those women. She was petite, and she had body hair. She looked nothing like those women, with their engorged fake breasts, fake hair, fake nails, and hairless vaginas. Was that what Mulder liked? Oh, God. This was a bad idea. What if, after tonight, he didn’t want to do this again? What if he would just prefer porn and touching himself instead of the real thing? How mortifying. What if she's not what he actually wanted?

“Scully…” Mulder breathed, breaking their kiss. “Are you okay?”

“Yeah, I’m fine.”

He couldn’t tell if this was the truth, or her typical Scully-fine response that meant anything but. Maybe this was a bad idea. Maybe she’s regretting it. Maybe she wanted to stop, but felt too embarrassed to say it.

“Are you sure you want to do this, Scully?” Mulder whispered. “We can stop, if you want.”

She sighed. She didn’t want to feel insecure. She didn’t want him to have second thoughts. She wanted their brains to just shut off.

“I’m sure,” Scully whispered, raising her fingers to his lips, brushing them gently. “No more talking, Mulder. And don’t think. Just do.”

He searched her face, looking into her eyes. He saw she spoke the truth. His mouth was on hers again, probing with his tongue for a second until she opened her mouth to allow him entrance. His hands went behind her back, and unhooked her bra. As it fell from her arms, Scully tossed it to the floor.

He pressed his chest against her bare breasts, and they moaned into each other’s mouths. Mulder pulled his leg out from between hers, causing Scully to make that whimpering sound again, making his brain go to mush. She spread her legs, and he settled between them, his mouth never leaving hers, and she rocked her hips against the hardened cock inside his jeans-clad pelvis. Mulder couldn’t take much more of that, or this would all be over before they’d really started.

He broke free of her swollen lips, and moved back, trailing kisses down her neck, lowering his hips away from her squirming center.

“Mulder, touch me,” Scully said, whimpering again. She couldn’t believe she’d just said that. The muscles in the pit of her stomach were knotted, her inner voice battling between her need for Mulder and her insecurities.

He smirked at her. “I thought you said ‘no talking,’ Scully.”

She rolled her eyes. Mulder smirked again, returning his lips and tongue to her neck, and then took his hand to her soft breast, heavy with arousal, holding its weight in his palm, rolling her taut nipple between his thumb and forefinger. This elicited a guttural moan from Scully. It had been so long since a man had touched her. Mulder groaned into her neck. When was the last time he’d held breasts in his hands? His engorged cock was now unbearably painful. He couldn’t take this slow pace anymore. He needed to make Scully come.

In one swift movement, Mulder lowered his head to Scully’s breast, sucking her hardened nipple into his mouth, flicking his tongue back and forth, rolling his tongue over it. Each flick of Mulder’s tongue registered on her clit, causing her hips to buck and squirm. She was moaning as his mouth moved to her other breast, continuing its ministrations around this new taut nipple.

Mulder then began to kiss Scully down her abdomen, and to her waist, reaching her pants. He sat up on his knees between her legs. He undid her pants, pulling the zipper down, and after shifting so that he was no longer between them, grabbed the waistband with both hands and pulled her pants down and off her legs. Mulder stared at her black panties, and then closed his eyes, taking a deep breath. He had to muster an enormous amount of willpower to stop himself from ripping them off and burying his cock in her hot center. He hooked both thumbs at the waist, and pulled them down and off her legs too.

He once again shifted, so that he was sitting on his knees between her legs. He bent her legs, so that her feet were planted on the comforter on both sides of his hips, and stared down at her. His hands went to her hips and waist, caressing up and down her sides. Mulder momentarily dwelt on the scar that had been left by Agent Ritter's bullet, and was determined to never let Scully out of his sight. He pushed those dark thoughts away. He then shifted his gaze to stare at her soft and full and perfectly round breasts, reaching up to gently squeeze and caress them. He rubbed his hands up and down Scully’s thighs. This was a real woman in front of him. With soft, milky skin, and meaty flesh. Mulder stared at her center, at her short, trimmed auburn curls. He could see her wetness glistening in the light shining in from the bedroom window. He groaned.

Scully wondered what Mulder was thinking about. She looked nothing like those women he fantasized about while he masturbated over his adult videos. But as she looked at him, his eyes told her that he liked what he saw. He seemed mesmerized, caressing the skin of her belly, her hips, her sides, breasts, her legs. Scully was breathing heavy again and she felt more wet desire pooling from her center.

“Mulder.”

He broke his gaze from her body, and looked at her face. “What?”

“Let’s pull the comforter down.”

He blinked. “Oh, right.”

Mulder then leaned forward over Scully, and grabbed the front end of the bedspread, along with the top sheet, down and underneath her. He helped her as she scooched backwards, so that she could lay her head on a pillow in front of the headboard. He leaned back down on top of her, kissing her passionately, and fondling her breasts. She pulled her legs up around his hips, still covered up by his dark jeans.

He couldn’t wait anymore. He had to make Scully come. Now.

As Mulder trailed kisses down her neck, chest, and abdomen, heading down her pelvis, it dawned on Scully where his mouth was heading. Her mind filled with wanton lust, but also painful insecurity. Very few of the men she’d been with had actually done this, and partly because she usually stopped them when they tried. It was just so… private. Daniel was the only one who ever performed this act with any kind of regularity, and that was a very long time ago. She hadn’t allowed anyone to do it since. Her brain told her to stop Mulder before he got to his destination, but her throbbing clit overruled that idea.

As Mulder’s face reached Scully’s center, and he breathed in her arousal, his mind went swimming and he gasped, hanging his head. His hips involuntarily thrust into the mattress. God, that scent. What had he been thinking spending so many years not smelling this? So much wasted time.

Mulder looked up at Scully’s face and saw that her head was turned to the side and the fingers of her right hand were splayed across her eyes. She didn’t want to look. He wanted to make her look. He wanted to draw it out, make her squirm and force her to beg him to suck her clit. God, where were these thoughts coming from? Get ahold of yourself.

Mulder was thankful Scully couldn’t read his mind. Gibson Praise was right, his mind was dirty. Suddenly, he worried about that dirty mind and whether this would have a negative effect on her. She was his partner, she wasn’t a porn star. He shouldn’t be thinking these things about her. She was his friend, he had to respect her and… What if there were things inside his dirty mind, embedded there from years of porn-watching instead of participating in a sexual relationship with a real person, that Scully was just not comfortable with? Don’t think about that right now. You can think about it later.

Mulder’s lips and tongue went to Scully’s inner thigh, kissing his way to her pelvis. Her found her groin sopping wet with her juices, and licked it clean while he thrust his rock hard cock into the mattress, still straining inside his jeans. He reached down and undid the button, pulling down his zipper, desperate for some relief. Scully’s hips started to rock, and Mulder then planted his shoulders up against the back of her thighs, holding her pelvis down with his hands. She planted her feet on the mattress behind his arms, but found she couldn’t move her hips, and started whimpering again. The throbbing ache of her clit was insufferable.

He looked up at her, but found her head still facing towards the wall, her hand over her closed eyes. Oh well. Mulder brought his face to the heat of her center, her pretty folds drenched in her juices. His tongue moved out at her center, starting at the bottom of her slit, working its way up through her folds, but stopping before he reached the swollen bud. Scully started moaning, and then whimpered again when his tongue stopped short of where she wanted it the most. As Mulder stared at her engorged clit, he started thrusting into the mattress again.

Scully could not stop squirming. Her head was swimming and her blood was burning, her skin was on fire. She felt like she could cry from insatiable need, but she still kept her eyes shut tight and couldn’t look at him.

And then Mulder’s mouth was on her swollen bundle of nerves, sucking and flicking and rolling his tongue around her clit.

“Oohhh, fuuuck,” Scully moaned.

Mulder stared at her in shock. He didn’t know how to reconcile everything he knew about Scully to what was happening right now. His cock was painfully engorged with his own aching need. He thought about the fact that she hadn’t done this in a long time too. He didn’t want to hurt her. He thought he should keep her as aroused as possible. That sense of urgency now hit him.

His mouth returned its ministrations on her clit, and she was rocking against him, eyes still slammed shut, and moaning incoherently. Mulder removed his right hand from her pelvis, gripping her hips tighter with his left, and brought it down near his mouth. He turned his hand palm up and inserted his index finger into her dripping wet cunt. Scully moaned and writhed against him. He looked up at her, but her face was still off to the side, eyes shut tight. Dammit.

Mulder stroked her inner walls, tight around his finger, as his tongue now set a rhythmic pace against her clit. He could feel Scully’s body tense up and go rigid. Thank you, Jesus. He removed his finger, before pushing back inside along with his middle finger, curving them slightly upwards. He found the slightly rough, spongy pad inside her front wall. Mulder started to stroke his fingers against the pad in the same rhythmic pace as his mouth sucked her clit.

Scully felt an unbelievable tension building and building, her muscles clenched, and then she was coming, grinding her hips against him, moaning loud incoherent speech, her hands flying to grip the bottom sheet, but unable to find decent purchase. Mulder pulled his fingers out of her pulsating cunt, raising up both hands toward her, and she gripped them tight with her own, riding out the waves of pleasure coursing through her brain.

As she started to come down off her high, she gently pushed his face away from her over-sensitized nerves. He lifted himself up to look at her. She was lying on her back, face forward looking up at the ceiling, eyes open, and with her hands at her face, nervously giggling.

“Oh, my God… oh, my God… oh, my God…”

At that moment, for the first time since mindfuck extraordinaire, Phoebe Green, had walked out of his life all those years ago at Oxford, Mulder was thankful that she’d actually walked into it and turned him from a naïve 22 year old boy into a man who knew things.

Scully, feeling wild with arousal and craving penetration, sat up and started reaching for Mulder’s erection, protruding from inside his heather gray boxer briefs, as the waistband of his jeans had steadily been pushed down his hips from all the movement.

“Scully, wait!”

She knitted her brows. “Why?”

“Because I’m about to explode, and if you touch me, I will, and this will all be over. I just…” Mulder took a deep breath. “I just need to calm down a little, think about something else for a minute.”

Scully grinned, biting her bottom lip, and laid back down. She listened as he took a few more steadying breaths, and then she watched him pull his jeans down the rest of his legs, taking his socks with them. Mulder caught her eye. She was licking her lips.

“You’re driving me crazy, Scully,” he whispered. She smiled, nervously bringing the back of her right hand to her mouth.

He watched Scully’s face as he pulled down his boxer briefs, watched her eyes go wide and her mouth fall open. She was nervously giggling again. Mulder wished he hadn’t wasted so many years not hearing that sound, but quickly pushed that sad thought away.

He moved up Scully’s body, hovering over her. She spread her legs, raising them up around his hips, and he settled between them. His engorged erection prodded her wet center. It took another feat of willpower not to come on her right there instead of inside her, where he wanted. Mulder then realized he had no condom. Normally, this would've panicked him. Every single other sexual encounter he'd ever had, from the few one-night stands to his nearly five-year relationship with Diana, he never fucked without a condom. Never. He had never wanted children, and he'd spent his entire sexual history making damn sure he never had any. And he saw the irony of the moment, that now when he would most welcome a child, condoms were unnecessary and Scully couldn't give him one. Mulder wasn't sure whether the pain he felt was for her or for him, and as his swollen cock prodded the hot, slick folds of her entrance, he prayed for that miracle.

Mulder then leaned down further, pressing his abdomen against hers, feeling her bare skin underneath him. He fervently hoped that the first time wouldn’t be the last, but knew full well that Scully could wake up tomorrow and freak out, saying it was all a mistake and they never should’ve acted on such hormonal impulses, and that things would be much better if they pretended like it never happened. But was it hormonal impulses? Was it simply nothing more than a sexual impulse that sent Scully flying into his lap on the couch? Somehow he didn’t think so.

Mulder looked into her face, bringing his hand up, brushing her cheek, and her jawline. Scully felt like he was searching her face for something, like an answer or permission, maybe. But his eyes blazed, and she saw not just arousal, but love, affection, devotion. And her heart swelled, full to bursting.

At that precise moment, Mulder’s other hand guided his engorged cock, throbbing with need, into her cunt, her dripping wet walls greeting him with their warmth and pressure.

“Aahh, fuck, Scully… this isn’t going to last long.”

She smiled up at him, she didn’t care. The feeling of Mulder on top of her, his skin pressed against hers, his hard member inside her inner walls, Mulder looking into her eyes with affection, it was all overwhelming.

After several thrusts, Mulder started moaning. Thank God, thought Scully. She had always strongly disliked sex with men who did little more than grunt a couple times at ejaculation. She liked men who were vocal, the sounds of their pleasure always registering with her clit.

Mulder’s frantic thrusts into Scully’s wet heat sought the ecstasy he could never achieve in his dreams. As he looked into her face, he knew there was no Smoking Man here, no one to take her away from him, and in fact, there had actually been no sign of the man anywhere since he came home from the hospital. No threats, no whispers of illicit activities, nothing but silence. Mulder then thought that it had been foolish to allow fear of this evil bastard to keep him from Scully. They should’ve done this a long time ago.

He could sense his imminent release; his groin tightened, the tension in his balls building until he couldn’t take the pressure, and Mulder started mumbling wildly explicit language as his face hung over Scully’s. Her eyes widened with shock, but she liked it, as the language was littered with references to her body and her name.

Scully felt Mulder push his arms underneath her, to hold her tight to his chest, burying one hand in her hair, pressing his face into her neck; and then he was coming, moaning loudly and she could feel his hot seed flood her womb. In that moment, it all proved too much: the act itself, having been so long since she’d experienced it, the fact that this was also the first time she’d had sex since finding out she was barren, and that the person who still found her desirable was Mulder. This all sent just too many waves of emotion as she gripped him to her and cried. She wept for herself, she wept for Mulder, she wept for the children they’d never have.

He was confused, and worried. “Scully, did I hurt you?”

“No,” she cried. “You could never hurt me, Mulder.”

“What can I do?” he asked, feeling helpless.

Scully pushed him over, so that they were now lying on their sides, and she wrapped her leg around his hip, one arm around his neck and the other around his back.

“Just hold me,” she cried into his shoulder.

And Mulder held her tight, their arms and legs entangled, as she cried. After a few minutes, her cries lessened, and he leaned back to look in her face. She was still giving off shuddering sobs, trying to catch her breath. Mulder brought his hand to her face, gently stroking her cheek, wiping her tears.

Scully wanted to say the words, she wanted to say "I love you." But she couldn't. The fear was still there. The walls were still there, and she was putting them up, always in a state of self-preservation. She had no idea what this was, or what it'd mean in the long run. Maybe he wouldn't want to do it a second time. Maybe this was just a pity fuck. Maybe he'd start trying to push her out of the X-Files again. It didn't seem that way right now, with Mulder gazing at her in an affectionately sleepy way, one hand in her hair and the other one on her ass. But Scully knew that men often went to sleep in post-coital bliss, only to wake up the following morning feeling quite differently.

Despite Scully's tears, and the unknown that lay ahead of them, Mulder was happy, and possibly more content than he'd ever felt in his life. He had no clue what just happened or why it happened or if it'd happen again. He could only hope and pray that it would. And as he watched Scully succumb to sleep, Mulder smiled, following her into unconsciousness seconds later.

Chapter Text

As the light of dawn started to make its way through the window of the master bedroom in Apartment #35, 1419 31st NW in Georgetown, Mulder stirred awake, eyes slowly blinking open. And then what he saw brought a warm smile to his face. Scully was lying next to him, sleeping soundly. As he watched her face, he realized that it hadn’t been a dream. It was real. It had really happened. All of it.

He reached his hand out to softly brush her hair away from her face and behind her ear. He felt quite content to just lay there and watch her sleep as the light of morning slowly spread across the bedroom. Memories of the previous night swam in front of his eyes, some incredibly painful, most incredibly pleasurable: the softness of Scully’s skin, the delicious taste of her, her gratifying sounds, the affection in her eyes.

He fought the urge to wake her up, roll her over and fuck her again. His mind flooded with fantasies of all the different ways he wanted to have her, while hoping intensely that when Scully woke up she wouldn't regret what happened so that he would be free to make these fantasies come true. But then he started to remember all his reasons, some silly and others valid, why adding sex to their partnership could be a very bad idea.

The sillier reasons he could more easily suppress, as he didn’t honestly think that what happened last night would have any adverse effect on their working relationship and how they’d pursue or handle cases. He’d been a fool to think he could just force her to leave. Because he’s still Mulder and she’s still Scully, and that’s what made the X-Files work. Unless things became unbearably awkward and they couldn’t even look or talk to each other. Damn. That would be a problem. Don’t think about that.

Also, judging by the stares, whispers, and smirks of his peers, Mulder assumed that most everyone at the FBI probably thought they’d been fucking already. He thought that Skinner sometimes even suspected as much. And yet, no one bothered to make any kind of outright accusation and try to separate them on grounds of the anti-fraternization policy. But they also hadn’t ever… fraternized. Until last night. Making it obvious might become a problem, when it’s no longer rumor and it became known fact. He then panicked, realizing that his car had been parked all night outside Scully’s apartment building. He knew that if this… thing… continued, he couldn't be leaving his car outside her place overnight. Someone would be bound to notice, whether that’s someone from the FBI or more dangerous characters that he’d rather not think about.

And now Mulder’s most valid reason came forward in mind, for why picking up where last night left off would be a very bad idea, a dangerous idea. It most likely wouldn’t take long for any significant change to their partnership to be noticed by certain nefarious groups within the government who considered Mulder and Scully to be persons of interest. They’d been put under surveillance too many times for Mulder to just assume that would never happen again in the future. What if they then used her, threatened her life, to manipulate him? Cancer Man could easily return from whatever hole he’s hiding in and take her from him.

As these paranoid, fearful thoughts ran through his head, Scully slowly opened her eyes, blinking herself awake. She smiled at him. He turned to look at her, and then all those negative thoughts vanished from his mind as quickly as a flame blowing out of a candle. Mulder was staring at her when it happened. Again, he could see it happening right in front of his eyes. A look of realization, and then a dark cloud came over her face, any emotion fled from her eyes and he couldn’t read them. A wall was in front of her. She was closed off to him.

“I’m gonna take a shower,” she said, not looking at him, before wrapping herself up in the cream-colored top sheet and walking across the bedroom to the bathroom door, disappearing behind it.

Mulder turned so that he was lying with his back against the mattress, and threw his hand across his forehead. Shit.

*****

Scully stood inside the bathroom, leaning against the door to her bedroom and locking it. She then crossed to the other wall, and locked the door leading out to her hallway. She was panicking, as she remembered the events of the previous night and felt embarrassed. She’d done and said things that were making her face red with humiliation. And she’d seen the look on his face when she woke up, like a deer caught in the headlights. What if he really wanted to get rid of her now? For her own good? She ruined everything. He'd never look at her the same again. Their friendship wouldn't ever be the same now, and he probably didn't even want a personal relationship outside work. What had she expected to happen? Had she expected things to actually change for the better? He had only wanted to make her feel better last night; he pitied her. And now he probably regretted it ever happened. Oh, God. How could she have been so stupid?!

Any idea of talking about what happened was quickly crushed by the twisted knots of fear in her stomach. She didn’t want to look at him and see the regret, the rejection. Or worse, hear the words of regret and the words of rejection. She then went over to the toilet and nearly fell in. She stood up to see the toilet seat had been left up. She rolled her eyes, and slammed it shut, annoyed. After emptying her bladder, she turned on the shower and hoped that by the time she got out, Mulder would have gotten dressed and gone home; that he’d be a real friend and spare her the crushing embarrassment.

She took her time in the shower, prolonging her departure from the bathroom. After 20 minutes had gone by, she was standing in her robe in front of the bathroom mirror, combing her hair. She then lightly stepped across the floor to open the door leading into the bedroom, and cracked it open. Mulder wasn’t there. Thank God. She returned to the sink, and as she started brushing her teeth, she heard the TV turn on in her living room. She froze. He’s still there? Couldn't he go home and watch TV? You’ve got to be kidding me.

*****

Mulder wanted to talk about what happened, or maybe he didn’t. He didn’t know what to do, what would be the best course of action. He could talk to her, and possibly hear things he really didn’t want to hear. Or they could pretend like it never happened, and allow things to go back to normal. He felt his heart sinking. How could they ever go back? There’s no going back.

He turned on the TV to ESPN and baseball coverage. Perfect way to disengage his brain. He heard Scully come out of the shower. He could hear her moving around the bedroom. He thought about going in there, but fear kept him rooted to the couch. But as he looked down, he remembered that the couch was where this had all started. He wanted to go back and relive it. It likely was the first and last time anything like that would happen. Maybe he should've done or said something differently last night, to ensure that this morning wouldn't be going the way it was. But what that was, he had no idea.

He spent the next hour sitting on the couch while noticing that she was spending a lot of time in rooms other than the one he was sitting in. He’d get glimpses of her walking between the bedroom and the hallway, going in and out of the bathroom. She was doing laundry. Then he heard the vacuum turn on and she barricaded herself in the guest room. He could hear her in the kitchen now, and she was cleaning. He thought that it had looked spotless the night before.

Apparently, she’d chosen to ignore him. Well, that’s just great. Mulder decided that he was going to force her to acknowledge him.

“Hey, Scully?” he called out from the couch.

She stopped wiping down the counter. Her guts churned with humiliation. “Yeah?”

“You hungry?” he asked. “You wanna go get some breakfast?”

Sure let’s go somewhere public so he could break it to her gently. “Um… no, I’m not hungry. Why don’t you go and get something to eat?”

He was skeptical. “What do you mean, you’re not hungry? You must be starving. You didn’t even eat dinner last night.”

“I’ll eat later, Mulder,” she brusquely replied. She wanted to be alone. Why didn’t he understand that?

He sighed. “Do you want to talk about what Dr. Parenti told you?”

She froze. She felt sadness clench at her heart. How could she ask Mulder to support her through another IVF attempt after what happened last night? Suddenly the idea of creating a child came with so many more implications that she wasn’t ready to think about, let alone talk about. “Not really, not right now,” after the long pause.

Good grief. If anyone could earn a PhD in suppressing and avoidance, she could. Uh… look who’s talking, buddy. He sighed. She clearly just wanted him to leave. He picked up his sneakers that he’d left by the couch the night before, and put them on. He shut off the TV and stood up, walking towards the coat stand to grab his jacket.

“Okay, so… I guess I’ll see you tonight, Scully. I’m still picking you up at 6:30, right?” he said by her apartment door, looking into the kitchen.

Why would he come back later? She had no idea what he was talking about. “What do you mean?”

“The FBI Community Service Awards Banquet,” he replied. “We’re getting a Public Service Award, remember?”

She blinked, staring down at the counter. “That’s tonight?”

“Yeah. At the Capital Hilton, 7:30. Did you forget? You asked me last week to pick you up so we could go together, remember?”

She sighed. She had completely forgotten about it. She hadn’t gone shopping for a dress. She’d made no appointments for the salon. And they’re supposed to get up on stage and accept an award, and address the room with some kind of speech. What was she going to say? What was she going to wear? She supposed she could spend her afternoon getting ready.

“You don’t have to do that, Mulder. I’ll drive myself.”

“Scully, why should we take two cars? I don’t mind picking you up. I already told you I would.”

“Because it’s not fair for you to drive home, get ready, then drive back here. I can just meet you there, Mulder.”

She wasn’t even looking at him as she talked to him. He started to feel anger bubbling in the pit of his stomach.

“Scully, I’m picking you up,” he said firmly. “I’ll be here at 6:30.“

He was staring at her. She was still refusing to look at him. He didn’t know what else to say. There were things he wanted to say, but he didn’t know how to. He hated her silence. He’d rather she was freaking out, and emotional, and telling him all her reasons for why last night had been the biggest mistake they'd ever made. He could at least argue with her, raise his objections, and they could hash this thing out like every other difference of opinion they’d ever had. But her silence, her distance, he had no weapons to defend himself against. It was ice cold, and it froze his heart.

“Fine, Mulder,” she replied curtly, not looking up from the kitchen counter she was cleaning.

He sighed and opened the door, and after one last painful glance at the couch, where she flew into his lap and invited him to her bed, he left.

As Scully’s elbows dropped to the counter, she hung her head, eyes filling with tears.

Chapter Text

At 6:15 pm on Saturday, October 2nd, Scully was dressed and ready to go to the FBI Community Service Awards Banquet, her knee-length charcoal gray wool trench coat over her new dress, shoes on, and pacing her apartment waiting for Mulder to arrive. She felt nervous, embarrassed, scared, anxious, excited, hopeful. She wondered if tonight would go well or horrible. She wondered if things would go back to normal between them or if things were forever changed. At first, she had dreaded the thought of the banquet. She knew it had been awful timing, being held on the day after she’d learn the results of her IVF attempt. But now that she’d learned the IVF had failed, being in a large room full of people, most of whom she didn’t know particularly well and therefore her conversation could be limited to non-personal small talk, seemed like a good distraction from the suffocating thoughts raging in her mind.

At 6:25 pm, Mulder showed up at her apartment, and knocked on her door. Scully stood there, frozen, staring at it. A sensation of butterflies filled her stomach, but after taking a deep breath, she walked towards the door and opened it. He was standing there, wearing his trench coat, and she could see the bowtie of his tuxedo sticking out at the collar. She gave him a halfhearted smile. “Hi.”

Mulder stood there, staring at Scully. His eyes roamed down from her hair, which was shiny and pulled up and away from her face; her eyes, done up with smoky makeup; her glossy red lips; the earrings hanging from her lobes, glittering in the light; the dark coat hugging her figure; past her sheer black nylon-covered legs to her feet, shod in black high stiletto heels, and then back up. His brain went fuzzy.

“Mulder?”

He blinked, trying to focus. “Hey… Yeah, you ready?”

Scully stared at him, and Mulder thought he might've seen a momentary twinkle of mischief in her eyes. “Yes, I’m ready.”

She walked out the door, locking and closing it behind her. As she walked down the hallway towards the elevator, Mulder walked behind her, staring at the soft skin of Scully’s neck, exposed now that her hair was up, and a black seam going straight down the back of her sheer nylon-covered legs and disappearing into her heels. He groaned internally. This was going to be a long night.

A quick seven-minute drive took them from Scully’s apartment building to the Capital Hilton in downtown D.C. Upon arrival in the hotel lobby, Scully excused herself to use the ladies’ room and Mulder approached the registry table, pulling out his badge.

“Fox Mulder and Dana Scully,” he spoke to the attendant sitting at the table, a middle-aged man also dressed in a tuxedo.

The attendant glanced at Mulder’s badge, and then scanned his list of names. “Yep, I’ve got you right here. Table 13. Oh, I see you’re one of the award recipients. Congratulations.”

“Thanks,” said Mulder. He then went over to the cloakroom to the right of the table and checked his trench coat.

“How’s it going, Spooky?” came a familiar voice from behind him.

Mulder turned to see the unwelcome presence of Agent Tom Conlon standing there looking at him. He stared, and before he could think of what in the world to say to the guy, he saw Conlon’s gaze shift to stare past him. Mulder turned, and gaped.

Scully was walking towards them in her black stiletto pumps and carrying a small, shiny purse, wearing a figure-hugging black spaghetti strap dress that stopped about three inches above her knees and showed just enough cleavage to make Mulder’s heart start pounding. He felt his cock twitch in his pants as he watched her approach them. Oh, God. This was gonna be a really long night.

“And here’s Mrs. Spooky,” Conlon said to Scully, albeit in a good-naturedly way.

“Hi, Tom.” She rolled her eyes. She turned her attention to Mulder, and her heart skipped a beat as she gazed at him in his black tuxedo.

“Hi, Dana,” Conlon said, grinning and waggling his eyebrows at her.

Mulder didn’t know which was more irritating, "Mrs. Spooky" or "Dana." He just knew he wanted to get away from Conlon as soon as possible.

“We’re at Table 13, Scully,” he said impatiently. She could tell by his tone that he wanted them to leave the lobby, and Conlon, specifically.

“I’ll guess I’ll see you inside, Tom,” Scully said, as she turned towards the open double doors to the banquet room.

Tom winked. “You better believe it, Dana. See ya, Spooky.” Conlon then walked away to greet some other acquaintances.

Mulder stood there, throwing an icy stare at Conlon’s back as he walked away. Dana, his ass. Scully reached out and grabbed his arm. “You ready?”

He stared at her hand, gently holding his forearm, and then looked into her face. It was the first time she’d touched him since the night before. Scully blushed, quickly pulling her hand back, and averted her eyes. She then turned, and walked into the banquet room. The room was done up in blue and silver décor, complete with a stage at the front holding up a podium with the FBI insignia and tables to seat 1,000 people.

As they walked towards their table on the other side of the large event room near the stage, Scully was hearing “Hey, Spooky” so many times her blood was starting to boil with anger. She wished that other agents would open their eyes and give Mulder the respect and admiration he deserved. He simply rolled his eyes or returned a blank stare in the direction the name was being called. He’d been hearing that name for 13 years, since the Academy. There was nothing he could do about it, and it had never seemed worth getting bent out of shape over. However, one too many male agents had said “Hi, Dana” for his liking, most of whom he and Scully didn’t even know by name or face.

As they made their way across the room, they were stopped by Skinner.

“Hey, I’m glad I caught you before this thing starts,” Skinner said as he approached them, wearing an American flag pin in the lapel of his tuxedo.

“Hello, sir,” Scully greeted him. Mulder just nodded his head.

“Listen, about this Public Service Award…,” Skinner hesitated. “The Deputy Director has decided that as the award is being given to both of you, as one unit, you don’t both need to get up on stage. And he’s asked that only one of you go up to accept the award, and say a few words.”

“And by that you mean Agent Scully,” Mulder said.

Scully turned a surprised look on him, and then turned it on Skinner. “But sir, I didn’t really do anything in the bank. It was Mulder who stopped Bernard Oates. Mulder’s the one who rendered the public service. I didn’t really do much of anything.”

“Well, the Deputy Director doesn’t want Mulder getting up there and talking about Pamela Hamilton living out the plot of a Twilight Zone episode,” Skinner explained.

Mulder sighed, and shook his head. Scully flashed an angry look in Skinner’s direction, and started walking away to Table 13, Mulder following behind her.

She reached the table first, Mulder having been stopped by his friend, Agent Danny Valladeo. She was grateful there was at least one friendly face in the room for his sake. She walked around the table to find her and Mulder’s place cards, and upon finding the card with “Dana Scully” printed on it, she sat down and set her clutch on the table. She glanced to the place card on her left, to see “Peyton Ritter.” Her stomach knotted. Oh, no. It couldn't be. She looked to her right, expecting to see the place card with Mulder’s name, but instead the printed card read “Spooky.” Scully felt hot, angry tears filling her eyes. Assholes. Somehow this night felt like an event planned by the Deputy Director just as a way to stick it to Mulder. She grabbed her clutch, pulled out her black felt pen, turned her place card over and wrote “Mrs. Spooky.”

Mulder finally left Danny to sit at the table next to Scully. He glanced at his place card and then at hers, which had clearly been written in her own handwriting.

“What did you do that for?”

“Solidarity,” she replied.

Mulder grinned at her. “Go team.”

Scully chuckled.

*****

At just past 7:00 pm, Special Agent Peyton Ritter from the New York Bureau approached Table 13 and sat down at his seat. He stared at the empty chair next to him and then looked up to see Mulder sitting on the other side of the empty chair. He blanched. Mulder stared.

Ritter cleared his throat. “Agent Mulder. So… uh, where’s Dana?”

You’ve got to be fucking kidding me.Agent Scully is over at the Quantico tables talking with her friends.”

Ritter nodded. “And what about you? Don’t you have any friends here?”

“No,” Mulder replied. “Well no, that’s not true, I have one friend. And she’s walking around being social.”

Ritter eyed him. “Well… okay, then.”

Mulder wondered if the Deputy Director put Ritter next to Scully on purpose. The more he thought about it, the more plausible it seemed.

“How would you like to have more than one friend here?” a familiar female voice asked behind him.

Mulder and Ritter turned to see Agent Natalie Black, wearing a red strapless cocktail dress, her long dark brown hair cascading over one shoulder. He blinked at her as she sat down in Scully’s chair, sitting sideways to face him and crossing her legs, turning her back to Ritter.

“Hi, Agent Black,” Mulder said politely.

“I thought I told you to call me Natalie,” she said. “You look great in that tux. And, uh… I really miss seeing you in the bullpen.”

At this, Ritter leaned over to look around her, and arched his eyebrows at Mulder. Mulder refused to make eye contact with him.

Scully was enjoying spending time with the Quantico pathologists and laboratory staff, laughing and talking about their lives, families, work. She had known them for a long time, nine years, and she was very fond of them. They all congratulated her and Mulder on the award and told her that they’d cheer the loudest when their names were called. She felt grateful. She turned to look back at her table, to see Natalie sitting in her chair, with her legs crossed toward Mulder. Scully excused herself from her friends, and headed back to her table.

“Are you doing anything after this?” Natalie asked him.

Mulder gave her a puzzled look. “What do you mean?"

“Are you going to any of the parties?”

He shook his head. “I’m not a party person. I haven’t been to a party since college.”

“Yeah… I was thinking about skipping the parties myself,” Natalie replied. “Um… I’d still like to do something fun, though.”

Mulder nodded.

“Would you, maybe, like some company tonight? We could hang out after. Maybe… at your place?”

Mulder blinked. Ritter leaned way back in his chair and threw a wild stare at him.

“Hi, Natalie.” Scully had returned to the table.

“Oh, hi Dana!” Natalie said, smiling and standing up. “You look beautiful tonight.”

Scully smiled. “Thank you. So do you.”

“Thanks,” Natalie said. “Well, I guess I should head to my table. It’s back there somewhere.” She then squeezed Mulder’s bicep, saying “Let me know about tonight,” before walking off.

Scully turned an incredulous look on Mulder but before he could say anything, Ritter had stood up behind her.

“Dana?” he said.

She turned to face him. “Agent Ritter.”

“I’d really like it if you called me Peyton.”

Mulder seethed.

“I’d really like it if you hadn’t shot me.”

He went wide-eyed. Mulder started laughing.

Scully smirked at Ritter. “I’m just kidding.”

Ritter let out a nervous laugh. “Funny. Listen… I’m really sorry about what happened. I thought about calling you or sending you an email, but it just seemed too impersonal. I wanted to be able to apologize again in person, you know, when you weren’t laying in a hospital bed. I really am sorry. If you had…” he sighed. “I never could’ve lived with myself.”

“Apology accepted,” Scully said, smiling.

“Well, I’m not finished. I also want to apologize for the way I acted, the way I treated you when we were working the case. I was very disrespectful towards you, and I feel badly. I may not have put it in the report, because I really don’t need everyone at work looking at me like I’m a lunatic, but… you were right about Fellig. And I want to apologize for my behavior.”

She nodded. “Apology accepted again. So what brings you to the banquet?”

“Oh, I’m getting one of the Public Service Awards. We caught Matthew Eric Stern.”

Scully looked at him, impressed. “He was in the FBI Top Ten list. That was you?”

“Yep,” Ritter asked, smiling at her. “Uh… can I get you a drink from the bar?”

She hesitated. “Sure… I’ll have a glass of Chianti.”

“Coming right up,” Ritter said enthusiastically. “You look very beautiful, by the way.”

Scully gave him a half smile. “Uh… thank you.”

Mulder stared at them. What the fuck was going on here?

Ritter then walked away towards the bar. Scully sat down in her chair and turned to face her partner, who was staring at her.

“Why are you being nice to him, Scully? He shot you. He almost killed you.” He suddenly remembered Scully’s naked body in front of him and running his hand over her, to caress the scar Ritter’s bullet had left behind.

She stared at him. “Yes, Mulder. He shot me. And it was an accident. Accidents happen. I shot you, Mulder. And that was on purpose!”

“Two completely different situations, Scully.”

She rolled her eyes. He grumbled to himself.

Ritter returned. “Here’s your glass of wine, Dana.”

Mulder shot him an icy glare. One more “Dana” outta him and he was gonna punch this clown in the throat.

As Ritter sat down, the other occupants of the table, fellow award recipients, took their seats as well. The program was about to begin.

*****

Two hours went by, awards being handed out and speeches being made, special videos played featuring what the FBI had done in the past year by way of charitable donations, community projects, and victim assistance programs. Mulder would’ve been bored out of his mind if Scully hadn’t been sitting next to him. She didn’t talk to him much, and she kept getting up from the table to talk to someone she knew or use the women’s room. She seemed restless. Maybe she just didn't want to be near him. He tried to push that thought away.

But Mulder could look at her whenever she was sitting next to him at the table. He watched her small hands move about the table in front of her, from her purse to her glass of wine or glass of water, her tiny wrists attached to firm, round arms, her gold watch sparkling on her left hand, the milky skin of her shoulders and neck. He fantasized kissing that neck and pushing her spaghetti straps down off her shoulders. He’d gaze at her cleavage, the tops of her breasts quivering with her movement. The thought that he’d never again be able to touch her soft, perfectly round breasts, or suck a taut, pink nipple into his mouth filled him with anguish. He wished he could read her mind. If there was ever a time when he wished he could have that ability back, this was certainly it.

Assistant Director Alvin Kersh and Assistant Director Gregory Roberts took the podium to introduce the next Public Service Award recipients. Scully turned to look at Mulder. His eyes met hers. They both gave each other looks of dismay. Of course. Of course this was going to be their award. Kersh and Roberts spoke of Cradock Marine Bank and the lives of over 35 people inside the bank that day, employees and customers, and not to mention the millions of dollars of property damage prevented, because of two agents who prevented Bernard Oates from using the bomb he had strapped to his chest. And now Bernard Oates was going to prison for a very long time.

“This Public Service Award goes to Special Agent Dana Scully and Special Agent Fox Mulder,” finished Kersh.

Roberts then broke in. “Whom I’m sure most of you are more familiar with his real name, Spooky.”

Sprinkled laughter could be heard throughout the venue. Mulder shook his head and sighed. Scully felt hot anger flood her stomach, like molten lava.

“Anyways,” Kersh continued, giving a flinty sideways glance at Roberts, who seemed pretty pleased with himself. “We’d like to call Special Agent Scully to the stand to collect the award.”

Lots of applause erupted, most notably from the group of tables everyone knew as the Quantico section, where everyone was giving Scully a standing ovation, whistling and cheering. Mulder smiled at her. She stood up. For most of the day, she had been terrified of going up there and had hoped Mulder would do most of the talking. She had no idea what she’d even say about what happened at the bank. Partly because she didn’t really fully understand herself how Mulder knew Oates had a bomb and that Pamela Hamilton was the one who could stop him. But ever since arriving at the venue, she’d gotten angrier and angrier as the night went on. And as Scully walked to the stage, she didn’t feel nervous at all. Righteous indignation was carrying her all the way.

She blew right past Roberts without even acknowledging him. Kersh then handed Scully the plaque with her and Mulder’s names engraved. Thankfully, they’ve left “Spooky” off it, she thought bitterly. She then approached the podium and set the plaque down.

“Thank you. Um… I really did nothing at Cradock Marine Bank. I mean, I was there, but I only did what Agent Mulder told me to do. I had no idea why he asked me to take Pamela Hamilton from her parked car outside the bank, but I did it anyways, unquestioningly. Because I know, as much as it irritates me sometimes, that Agent Mulder tends to be right about things most of the time. Almost every single time, actually. It’s incredibly annoying.”

Sprinkled laughter could be heard throughout the audience. Mulder chuckled.

“I have no idea how his brain works, how he is able to make connections and figure out the truth based on his gut feelings, and his ability to read people and situations.”

Scully sighed. She looked over at her table, and her eyes caught Mulder’s. He was staring at her.

“Um… working with Agent Mulder is challenging, frustrating, infuriating… terrifying, and… exciting. He has taken me farther than anyone ever has. He’s pushed me mentally, emotionally, spiritually. He opened my eyes and woke me up; allowed me to attain knowledge of the world around me that I had no idea of before.”

Mulder sat, eyes wide, staring at Scully. He wasn’t expecting this.

“I think the real public service is that someone like Agent Mulder is even in the FBI. Someone with his brilliance, his passion, his keen sense of justice, his empathy, his inherent goodness. It is because of these things that Bernard Oates was unable to set off that bomb. I think everyone in this room should be thankful that Agent Mulder is here, and should be proud of everything he’s accomplished. I know that I am. Thank you.”

The room was silent as Scully stepped away from the podium, until the Quantico section started with the cheering and applause, and most everyone else eventually began clapping.

Mulder sat, bewildered, as she walked off the stage and was ushered through a side door to get her picture taken. Now that Scully had left the stage, her anger has dissipated and her stomach was filling with nervousness. Now they all knew. Everyone in that room knew how she felt about him. Oh, God. After getting her picture taken for the FBI newsletter and the local newspapers, she walked back out to her table with the plaque.

Agent Ritter stared at her as she sat down, not quite knowing what to say. “That was… some speech,” he said.

Scully didn’t bother with a response. She looked at Mulder.

“I thought you were going to talk about Bernard and Pam and the bomb,” he said, with a puzzled look.

Scully sighed. Well, almost everyone.

Later, as Mulder was making his way back to the table from the bathroom, he checked his watch: 10:13 pm.

“Mulder?”

He turned to see Agent Natalie Black. He wished this girl would leave him alone.

“So… did you want to hang out tonight?” she asked, smiling. Her chocolate brown eyes giving off suggestiveness.

Mulder sighed. “Agent Black…”

“Natalie,” she said, pointedly, still smiling at him.

He grew increasingly annoyed. “Okay, Natalie. Look, I am almost 38 years old. I do not hang out. Have a nice night.”

As Natalie stared after him, Mulder walked with purpose away from her and towards his table. When he arrived back at the table, he’d found Scully wasn’t there. He scanned the Quantico section for her, but couldn’t see her over there. He sighed, and sat down. Mulder couldn’t believe there was still another 30 minutes or so until this thing was over. He looked at the plaque Scully had gotten. She had placed it on the table in front of his chair. He supposed she thought it really belonged to him. He then noticed there was a folded up piece of paper underneath, and then pulled it out from under the plaque. The handwriting was Scully’s and with the same distinct black ink she’d used to change her place card.

“Mulder,

I wanted to go home, but I didn’t want to force you to leave early. In case you might’ve made plans for afterwards with Natalie. I’m taking a taxi home, so don’t worry about it. I’ll see you Monday morning at the office.”

Why in the world would he want to stay there a minute longer than her? He didn't wanna be there if she wasn't. Natalie? For fuck's sake. And… what the hell? Monday? Why would he have to wait until Monday to see her? That’s two days from now. He wasn't waiting two fucking days.

Mulder, with anger starting to rise up in the pit of his stomach, grabbed the plaque and shoved Scully's note in his pocket. As he glanced down at the table, he saw her place card, with her handwritten "Mrs. Spooky." He stared at it, before quickly grabbing it and shoving it in his pocket to join her note. Mulder made his way to to the lobby, and after retrieving his trench coat, left the hotel and drove towards Georgetown with thoughts of Scully and that black spaghetti strap dress filling his mind.

Chapter Text

Scully had hung up her coat and kicked off her shoes, setting her purse and keys on the table near the door. She wandered into her kitchen and thought about having some tea. She wondered how Mulder would react to her note. He’d be angry, she knew he would. But then what? Would he call her? Would he ignore her? She hoped he’d react the way she had wanted him to. But either way, she knew she couldn’t stand sitting at that table with him any longer. She could feel the way he was staring at her; tingling sensations of desire would start to awaken at her center, and then she’d start squirming at her seat. She kept making excuses to get up and leave the table.

She then went into her bathroom, emptied her bladder, removed her earrings, and was about to take all the bobby pins out of her hair when she heard a loud knocking at her door. She froze, staring at her reflection in the mirror. Several emotions were hitting her all at once as a small smile broke out on her face: fear, anxiety, excitement, arousal.

She went and opened her door, seeing a visibly angry Mulder staring at her. She found that she was suppressing a desire to laugh.

“You fucking ditched me,” he said, as he walked past her and into her apartment.

“Well, now you know how it feels,” she quipped, before closing and locking her door.

He pursed his lips. “I want to talk.”

“Yeah? About what?” she replied, in the most bitingly sarcastic way she could manage.

Mulder felt hot anger rising up. He suddenly had an overwhelming urge to say something hurtful, something shocking, to pick a fight. He was sick of the silence, the distance. If he could get her angry enough, maybe she’d yell at him. At least they’d be talking, even if it was an argument.

He stared daggers at her. “It’s no wonder Jerse tried to throw you in his incinerator.”

Scully stared at him, speechless. And then she did something he was not expecting. She burst out laughing. “Oh my God, Mulder,” she said through her laughter. And then seeing the dumbfounded look on his face only made her laugh harder, clutching at her side and wiping away the tears leaking from her eyes. Eventually, her laughs subsided and she started trying to catch her breath, the stitch in her side dissipating.

“Do you want to throw me in your incinerator, Mulder?” she chuckled, as her breathing calmed. And then he saw it again, the twinkling mischief in her eyes.

As she locked eyes with him, she saw that his pupils had dilated and his breathing had quickened. They gazed at each other.

“No,” he said, not breaking his intense gaze. “I want to fuck you on the couch.”

Her mouth fell open, as more hot desire pooled at her aroused center.

And then they flew at each other, Scully’s arms going around Mulder’s neck as both his hands went under her ass, squeezing her through her dress and lifting her up, as she locked her legs around his hips. Her lips were on his, kissing him passionately. He walked them over to the couch in her darkened living room, sitting down, and she settled against his lap, straddling him as the hem of her dress slid up her thighs to her hips. As he saw the black garter straps attached to her thigh-high sheer black stockings, and at the same time reaching his hands around her hips to her ass to find she was wearing a thong, he groaned and the growing bulge in his pants became harder and thicker.

She pressed her body into his chest, and he held her tight to him. Scully’s tongue started to slowly brush across Mulder’s bottom lip, and they moaned when she entered his mouth, as he started to grind her hips against his swollen erection. Wet desire was dripping from her center, as he held onto her hips and drove her now throbbing clit back and forth over the hard cock protruding out of his tuxedo pants.

Scully’s hands went to Mulder’s bowtie, untying and throwing it to the floor. She then started to unbutton his shirt all the way down, finally pulling the white tuxedo shirt free of his pants and off his shoulders. It too was then thrown to the floor. Her hands went to his firm chest, running her fingers through the small patch of soft curls, before dragging a manicured finger across each nipple. He groaned, and pulled away from her mouth to look at her. She grinned at him.

“Scully, this dress has been driving me crazy all night,” Mulder breathed, as his hands moved from her hips and started unzipping it down her back, and then sliding the straps down and off her arms, exposing her bare breasts.

She was still grinning at him. She remembered shopping earlier that day, and when she tried this dress on she knew he would like it. She had reasoned to herself all afternoon that if Mulder had felt embarrassed and humiliated, as she had felt this morning, he would’ve left her apartment immediately. So maybe he didn’t regret what happened after all. She didn’t want things to go back to normal. She wanted things to change. The fear was still there, and there was a constant battle within her mind between her needs and her fears. But this was still a change, and it was better than nothing. She didn’t know what it meant, or where it would lead, but it was better than the alternative. She was trying desperately to push away her insecurities and that nagging voice inside her head because after knowing now what it was like to have sex with Mulder, she didn’t want to give it up. And right now, she didn’t want to have awkward conversations about feelings or have some kind of complicated discussion about what was going on between them. Right now she just wanted to come.

“That’s why I bought it this afternoon,” she whispered, leaning in closer until her lips were just lightly touching his. “I also paid $450 for it, so I don’t want to ruin it.” And she lifted the dress up from where it had pooled at her hips and off her body, tossing it to the other end of the couch.

Mulder stared at her in surprise. Where had this Scully been this morning? “And the, uh…” he panted. “The thong with the garter? Did you buy this today too?”

She bit her bottom lip, and nodded shyly. “I thought if things went well tonight, you’d get to see them,” she whispered in his ear.

He had a puzzled look, as he remembered the banquet. “Did… things go well tonight?”

Scully smiled into his ear. “I’d say they’re going pretty well, wouldn’t you?” she whispered.

Mulder chuckled.

She started grinding harder against his engorged cock, causing his head to swim and he lost all rational thought. If they didn’t stop this soon, he was going to finish inside his tuxedo pants. His mouth returned to her lips, passionately devouring them. And as his warm hands started to fondle her breasts, squeezing their weight in his palms and rolling her hardened nipples between his fingers, he stuck his tongue even deeper into her mouth.

The throbbing ache of her clit, having been in a state of dull, humming arousal nearly all night, was now intolerable. Her hands went to his pants, unbuttoning them, and after slightly lifting her hips off of his lap, pulled the zipper down. He broke free of their kiss, to look at her in wonder.

“Mulder, help me,” Scully whispered, sounding almost desperate.

His swollen cock was throbbing painfully at her words and he lifted his hips off the couch, as she pulled his pants down to his knees, before straddling him again. Mulder took his left hand to Scully’s face, his thumb at her cheek and fingers holding her head steady to gaze into her eyes. His other hand went between her legs, shoving aside the crotch of her black thong, and stroked her sopping wet center, gathering her juices up and around her engorged clit.

Scully started whimpering and rocking against his hand, her hands gripping his shoulders, with Mulder still not allowing her to move her face away from his. He removed his hand from her center, causing her to whimper again, and pulled his swollen erection out of his black boxer briefs. She scooched her hips up closer, craving his hard cock inside her inner walls. As she looked at him, Scully once again got the feeling that Mulder was searching her face for something as he gazed into her eyes.

“Scully?” he whispered, as he slowly started to drag the head of his engorged cock up and down her wet slit.

She started panting and squirming on his lap. “What?” she whimpered.

Mulder’s eyes were looking intently into her face. “Did you really mean all those things you said up on stage tonight? Or were you just trying to be my big defender against those people?”

Scully’s hands left his shoulders, to caress the sides of his face. “I meant every word,” she whispered. She then saw his eyes, blazing with desire, fill with love and affection. Her heart swelled.

After one last penetrating gaze into her eyes, Mulder smiling because she was open to him instead of closed down like she’d been earlier that morning, he saw she spoke the truth. He then released his hand from her face, bringing it down to guide her hips to his erection. She lifted herself slightly off of his lap, and then back down burying his hard cock to the hilt inside her cunt.

Scully’s eyes widened with shock as her hips convulsed against him and she moaned. “Oohh, Mulder, I’m gonna come.”

He was surprised. “Already?” He couldn’t believe this was happening. She’d been so distant this morning and she’d made no indication at the banquet that she wanted this to happen. And then it dawned on him. That note. Did she know he’d come over there? Or did she just hope that he would?

She closed her eyes tight, and after just a few upward strokes of his thrusting cock against her swollen, throbbing clit, her muscles clenched, and she was moaning loudly; her arms flying around his neck and gripping herself to him as she rode out her waves of pleasure on his lap.

Once she had come down off her high, he started to move to lay her down on the couch.

“No, wait, Mulder. I don’t want to stain the couch. Let’s go to the bedroom now.”

He then stood up, stepping out of the tuxedo pants that had fallen to his ankles, and carried her, with her arms and legs locked around him, to the bedroom. After turning down the comforter and top sheet, Scully lay down on the mattress and watched Mulder pull off his boxer briefs and socks, before he climbed on and laid down next to her.

She then forced him over onto his back and straddled his hips, lowering herself down to his chest, and kissed him passionately. His hands came up between them to fondle her breasts, and then his hands went to the sides of her waist, sliding her body upwards so that her breasts came to his mouth. He took turns, sucking the taut nipple of one breast into his mouth before moving his attention to the other.

She moaned and writhed against him. She slightly turned and glanced behind her to see Mulder’s engorged cock, standing at attention, as his hips thrust involuntarily, straining for her. And Scully knew what she wanted, but suddenly felt insecurity overwhelm her, the sense of embarrassment and humiliation she’d felt that morning started to well up. But she didn’t want insecurity or fear to hold her back right now. So she braced herself against the insecurity, and went for it.

Scully started to slide herself back down, moving her breasts away from Mulder’s face, and after kissing him passionately on the mouth, started to make her way down, kissing and licking his neck, moving her mouth over his chest and dragging her tongue over his sensitive nipples. He groaned and his mind turned to mush.

As she made her way down toward his pelvis, kissing and dragging her tongue across his firm stomach, he suddenly realized what she was about to do. Oh, my God. His cock throbbed painfully. But then images swam in front of his mind, of the various scenes from adult movies featuring women with cocks prodding their heads and come all over their faces. The thought of inserting Scully into such a scene turned Mulder’s stomach.

“Scully, wait, stop,” he whispered.

She removed her lips from the trail of dark hair running down from his belly button. “What’s wrong?”

Mulder was breathing heavily, and he hesitated. He thought about telling her the real reason, but then quickly changed his mind.

“Nothing. That’s just not what I want, I want you up here,” he said, after sitting and reaching to pull her up towards him.

She gave him a skeptical look. She’d never known any man to turn down oral stimulation. But then his mouth was on hers and she stopped thinking. He thought of how he'd fantasized that morning about the different ways he wanted to have her, and he turned their bodies so that she was underneath him. Then he flipped her over so that she was lying on her stomach.

Scully’s eyes went wide and the aching throb of her clit returned. Mulder stared at the skin of her back, and his eyes zeroed in on the scar on her lower back from where she'd had her tattoo removed. He wasn't sure how this made him feel, and pushed his confused thoughts away as he brushed his hands over her, caressing her, and then moving down to her soft, round ass, running his hands over the thin material of her black thong and down the backs of her thighs to where her stockings began.

“You are so beautiful, Scully,” Mulder whispered. She whimpered, burying her face into her arms.

He couldn’t wait any longer and then moved to hover over her, bringing one hand underneath her pelvis to lift her hips off the mattress and his other hand holding her upper back down. And as her legs parted slightly, he then pushed aside her thong and guided his swollen cock to her entrance, burying himself into the tight heat of her dripping wet cunt.

“Oh my God, Scully…,” Mulder groaned, as he lowered himself over her back, placing his hands on the mattress. She moaned in response, and as his cock stroked the sensitive spot in the front wall of her cunt with each downward thrust, she felt the exquisite tension build until it seemed like every muscle in her body was straining for the relief, and the knuckles of her hands had gone white as they gripped the sheet in front of her.

And as Mulder watched, wide-eyed, as Scully snaked her right hand underneath herself to rub her clit, he felt his own tension in his groin and balls build, and then wildly explicit language that was littered with her name and descriptions of her cunt was once again pouring out from his mouth. These words from Mulder caused Scully’s tension to finally burst and she was coming hard, moaning and crying out. Her clenching muscles and her cries brought him to orgasm, and his loud moans filled the bedroom as his hot seed filled her womb.

He collapsed on top of her, breathing hard and smiling at the nervous giggling ushering forth from Scully, whose face was buried in her arms. He wished he could bottle that sound and take it with him everywhere. And as Mulder lay on top of her, his erection deflating inside her, he closed his eyes and once again prayed for a miracle, before sliding out and falling onto the mattress beside a giggling Scully.

Chapter Text

She slowly opened her eyes to see Mulder sleeping beside her, as the early morning light of Sunday, October 3rd shone through her bedroom window. She smiled as she looked at him, but soon her mind flooded with fear. At some point over the last six years, Scully had allowed herself to fall in love with Mulder, which left her vulnerable to the pain and loss she’d been trying to avoid all her life. She knew that one day she would lose him, and the fear of this happening suddenly seized her.

A case could go badly wrong. They’d had so many close calls as it was. There’d been so many times when she almost had lost him. When would their luck run out? There could come a day when she couldn’t save him, and the thought filled her with dread. Even if that didn’t happen, one day Mulder would grow old and die. He’d be gone. Scully didn’t fully understand why the concept of death scared her so much. People had been born, lived their lives, and then grown old and died since the beginning of time. It was the circle of life, and it was happening every day all over the world, but it terrified her.

And now she knew what it was like to be held by Mulder, kissed and caressed by him, and what it felt like to reach ecstasy in his arms. She knew there was no going back now. If something were to happen to him, if she were to lose him, her life would be over. Who would she be without him? Sometimes she didn’t know where she ended and he began. Half of her heart, her mind, and her soul would be ripped from her. How could she ever endure such pain? As she lay there looking at him, she was subconsciously doing what she’d always done in her past relationships: giving over her body and mind while trying to disengage her heart. She was trying to keep him out as much as possible.

A minute or two after waking, Scully also became aware of different feeling entirely: an uncomfortable wetness between her legs and a sickening sensation growing in the pit of her stomach. Oh, no. No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no. Not right now! She started panicking, and quickly rolled out of bed as quietly as possible. She stared down at the area of the mattress where she’d been sleeping, but didn’t see any spots. Thank God. She stepped over her thong and nylons on the floor and then quickly, but quietly, made her way around the bed and across the room to the bathroom door, and closed it behind her.

After sitting on the toilet, she emptied her bladder and her eyes confirmed what her body had already told her. She suddenly remembered that Dr. Parenti had told her on Friday that her period would come any day now, but she’d completely pushed it from her mind. Mulder had served as a useful distraction from her grief, which was now starting to overpower her. The embryos were gone. Her dead, lifeless womb had destroyed and expelled his children. Scully’s eyes filled with tears, and she stifled a sob, as her insides began to churn in agony.

*****

Mulder slowly awoke to the sound of the shower. He lay there listening, drifting between sleep and consciousness until a completely different sound coming from the bathroom made him sit up and stare at the door. He could hear her crying, and to Mulder’s dismay, he realized her cries sounded more like gut-wrenching sobs. He jumped out of bed, pulled on his black boxer briefs, and walked to the bathroom door.

Finding the door unlocked, Mulder opened it and walked inside to hear her sobs become louder. The room was filled with hot steam. He then stepped on a dark bobby pin, and as he looked down, he saw that there were bobby pins scattered all over the bathroom floor, as if they’d been thrown. He walked to the door and pulled it open to see a weeping Scully sitting on the shower floor, arms wrapped around her legs and her head bent over her knees, with the hot water running over her back.

“Scully?” he said, his voice filled with concern, as he crouched down to look at her.

“Go away, Mulder,” she sobbed.

He felt his heart sink into his stomach. “Scully, what’s the matter? What’s happened?”

“Mulder, just leave me alone! Please!”

He didn’t know what to do. What could’ve happened to make her so upset? She’d been fine when they went to sleep the night before.

“Scully, tell me. What’s wrong? Did something happen?”

She raised her head to look at him, her dark makeup from the previous night running down her face. “I SAID GO AWAY, MULDER! GO AWAY!”

He sighed, and then stood up to close the door as her face returned to her knees. He then left the bathroom, shutting the door behind him, and sank to the bedroom floor, keeping his back against the door to the bathroom, sitting with his elbows on his knees. He sat listening to Scully’s sobs, feeling completely helpless.

After a few minutes, he got up and pulled on his socks, and then walked back out to the living room to put on his tuxedo shirt and pants. He grabbed his bowtie and slipped his feet back into his dress shoes. He opened the front door, and after hesitating to listen to her continued sobs, he walked out and shut the door behind him.

As Mulder approached his car, he started berating himself for leaving it outside Scully’s apartment building for the second night in a row. When he got into the driver’s seat, he noticed his trench coat and tuxedo jacket lying in the passenger seat. He remembered taking them off just before he’d gone inside her building. He wondered why he did that. Did he know what would happen when he went up there last night? Or did he just hope something would happen? He then turned on the car and drove away, before he could start to analyze his subconscious too much.

On his way home from Georgetown, Mulder drove to the nearest Dunkin' Donuts to grab some coffee and a bagel. On his way out, he noticed that Agent Natalie Black was standing in line with some friends and she was staring at him. He saw that she was wearing a pair of black yoga pants and a pink jacket, and that she was giving him the once-over, no doubt noticing he was still wearing his clothes from last night. A stony expression then came over her face, and she turned her back to him. He sighed and rolled his eyes as he walked out the door.

After Mulder walked through his apartment door 15 minutes later, he took a shower and changed into a pair of blue jeans and a gray long-sleeved shirt. He then sat down at his desk and played the two messages on his answering machine.

“Hello, Fox. It’s your mother. I haven’t heard from you since you went back home. Give me a call when you get a chance, if you’re not too busy.”

He sighed, as the voice of Langly filled the room.

“Mulder, we haven’t heard from you in a long time. Where you been? We haven’t turned up anything else with the MUFON groups; looks like it’s at a dead end. Anyways, we’re having a Star Wars marathon on Sunday, if you’re interested. We’ll be making chicken enchiladas. Oh, and bring Agent Scully by sometime. We haven’t seen her in ages. I think Frohike is going through withdrawal. Make sure you delete this message after you listen to it.”

He then realized that he had never actually explained to Scully what he’d been doing over the summer. He thought he told her that he had learned of Diana performing experiments on MUFON members, but he never explained to Scully what those experiments actually were. Suddenly, the thought of telling her about those women who continuously were made pregnant only to suffer miscarriage after miscarriage turned his stomach, and this seemed like knowledge he’d much rather take to the grave.

And now Mulder couldn’t get his mind off Scully, and the image of her sitting on her shower floor crying her eyes out. He still had no idea what would’ve caused her to become so distraught. He just knew that she was pushing him away, and he was also no stranger to her defense mechanisms. Then that voice inside his head told him that maybe this was how it should be, that what was happening between them couldn’t really lead anywhere good, that they were endangering both their lives by becoming more involved with each other than they already were, that what had happened the last couple nights had been merely hormones and tension, and that she could never truly want a worthless piece of shit like him.

But then Mulder told that voice to shut the fuck up. He liked what was happening between them and he wanted it to continue, no matter how much his doubts and fears try to convince him what a terrible idea it was. He knew she had told him to go away, but he didn’t want to go away. He wanted to be there, and deep down he believed Scully wanted him there too even if she didn’t want to admit it. So if he had to force himself into her personal life until she finally accepted his presence there, then so be it.

He checked his watch; it was 11:21 am. He then stood up and walked to his bedroom, opening the door, and grabbed his keys and wallet out of the pockets of his tuxedo pants that were lying on the bed. As he did this, her note and place card from the banquet fell out of the front right pocket. He bent down to pick them up, and smirked at the note before tossing it on the bed. He then stared again at the place card with “Mrs. Spooky” written in Scully’s handwriting. Mulder smiled to himself before sticking it inside his wallet.

He got back in his car and in less than 15 minutes he’d arrived back at her apartment building. He knocked on her apartment door, but there was no answer. He knocked again; nothing. He sighed and took out his keys, unlocking the door. It was quiet inside and there was no sign of her in the living room or the kitchen. He walked to her bedroom door, and opened it to see Scully curled up on the bed in the fetal position wearing her bathrobe. She was asleep.

As Mulder shut the door, he left it partly open so that he could listen for her. Then he went out to her living room, turned on the TV, and muted the volume. He planted his feet on the coffee table, anticipating a long Sunday afternoon of NFL football.

*****

After several hours, Scully eventually blinked herself awake. As she lay there in her quiet bedroom, she wished she hadn’t yelled at Mulder. She wished she hadn’t forced him to leave. Why does she do this? She wanted someone to love and care for her, but she just couldn't allow herself to accept that loving care, and especially from him. So she pushed him away, because that was much easier than talking about how she felt or what she was thinking about. That made two mornings in a row where she completely shut down and blocked him out.

What must he think? And what if she ruined everything? What if he’d rather stay away than have to put up with her? What if things went back to normal and he wouldn't want to touch her again? Her eyes filled with tears. But then she heard it, that sound, and suddenly the tears streaming down her face were not brought about by anguish. She’d know that sound anywhere: the crunching of sunflower seeds. Mulder had come back.

She walked out to the living room, to see him sitting on her couch watching TV and popping sunflower seeds.

“You’re here.”

Mulder turned to look at Scully standing there in her bathrobe, her face blotchy with emotion. She’d been crying again. “I’m here,” he sighed.

“But… you left.”

“Yep, I did,” he replied. “You didn’t expect me to sit around here in a tuxedo all day, did you?”

She chuckled, and then averted her eyes, staring at her hands in front of her. She felt embarrassed over what happened in the bathroom earlier. She wanted to apologize. “Mulder, I…”

“Scully, are you just gonna stand there or are you gonna come over here and sit on the couch with me?” he asked, interrupting her.

She gave him a small smile, and then walked over to sit next to him as he unmuted the TV and turned the volume up. He then put his arm up on the couch behind her head.

“What teams are playing?” she asked.

He looked over, raising his eyebrows at her. “Do you honestly care?”

“No,” she said, chuckling. He laughed.

She eyed his bag of Spitz sunflower seeds. “I hope you’re not making a huge mess with those things.”

He grinned. “If there’s a mess, I’ll clean it up.”

She gave him a skeptical look. She then sighed; she felt sick, but she also felt like she could eat a horse. She scooched herself a little further away from Mulder, but before he could waste too much time worrying about this action, she had laid down to put her head in his lap. He smiled, and his hand went to her hair, brushing it back from her forehead.

“Do you want to talk?” he asked gently.

She sighed. “No, not really.”

He hesitated; he wasn’t quite sure how to go about this. It was all so strange and new, and yet somehow felt completely natural as if not much had changed between them at all. “Do you… want… to do… something else?”

She blushed, and bit her bottom lip. “Um, no…”

“Okay, maybe later,” he replied.

Scully sighed. She should just tell him. “Well… I, uh… got my period this morning.”

He blinked. “Oh.” Having lived with a woman for nearly five years, he knew what that meant. Her body was off-limits. He sighed.

“It’s only for a few days, Mulder,” she chuckled. “We can have sex again when it’s over.”

He turned a surprised stare down at Scully, whose head was in his lap facing the television, and a smile started to break out over his face. Did she really just say…? Yes, yes she did. So, this… thing… he guessed it was a real thing now. They're just gonna keep doing this. Well… okay, then.

And then he remembered the scene in the bathroom earlier. “Scully… is that why you were crying this morning?”

She sighed. “Sort of…”

“Why didn’t you just tell me?”

“I didn’t want to talk about it, Mulder.”

He sighed. Was she ever going to want to talk about anything?

She wanted to ask him something, but she didn’t want to come across weak and needy. “Um… are you planning on spending the night again?”

He smiled down at her, but then remembered his parked car on her street. “I don’t think I can. I drove my car over here.”

She was confused. “So?”

“Well, that’ll make the third night in a row that my car was outside your apartment."

“What’s your point?” She didn’t think that was an explanation.

“The point is someone could see it out there, Scully.”

She chuckled. “Like who?”

“Someone from the FBI. Or the DoD. Or, I don’t know… them.”

She sighed. “But, Mulder, they’re all dead.”

He looked down at her. His hand once again returned to her hair, running his fingers through her messy red waves, and he thought of the devil that haunted his dreams and turned them into nightmares. “Not all of them, Scully,” he said quietly.

“Mulder, I doubt the Justice Department really cares about us anymore. Unless we end up being the cause of some sort of public embarrassment for the Bureau. And I think the Defense Department stopped giving a fuck about us the moment they cut your head open and left you to die.” She could feel anger rising up as she remembered almost losing him just a few short months ago.

He didn’t know what to say to this. He thought he should change the subject. “Scully… I want to talk about Dr. Parenti.”

She knitted her brows.

“Tell me what he told you, Scully.”

She sighed. “Dr. Parenti said that most women go through several IVF cycles before one actually works, and that he thinks I should try again.”

He hesitated. “Do you… want... to try again?”

She didn’t say anything. She didn’t know what to say. She wanted to try again, but she couldn’t bring herself to ask him to go through the process a second time. Things had changed now, and it could lead to awkward conversations about the future and what they were and what they wanted and she just didn’t want to think about that.

“Scully, how are we gonna get a miracle if we don’t even try?”

She sighed. Miracles. If science couldn't fix her, then she didn’t see how a miracle could.

He didn’t want her to quit. “You’re not giving up, are you?”

She didn’t reply.

“Scully, if there is a chance it could work, we should take it. I don’t mind going up there to deposit another sample.”

She bit her lip and knitted her brows again.

“Scully, look at me.”

She turned her head in his lap so that she was looking up into his face.

“Do you want to try again?”

She swallowed and after looking Mulder in the eyes, she said “Yes.”

“Good. When can we start?” he asked.

She sighed. “After my next menstrual cycle, whenever that is.” She cursed her irregular periods.

He nodded. “Well okay, then.”

Scully desperately wanted to change the subject. “Mulder, I’m starving. Let’s order a pizza.”

*****

Later that night, she lay awake long after Mulder had fallen asleep next to her. Things were changing, and now that she was starting to get what she wanted, the fear was welling up. She still couldn’t bring herself to open up, share her real feelings, and speak her mind. She found herself always on the verge of saying what she wanted to say, but then she’d put her guard up.

There were so many things she wanted to say to him. She had never felt this way before. Sure, she’d been smitten with different men over the years, and infatuated many times. But to be in love, this was completely different. Sometimes she could feel it painfully throbbing underneath her ribs. Scully finally realized why lust and sex and love could drive people insane. Why empires had been built and destroyed, and wars waged over it. There was nothing more terrifying, or more wonderful, than being in love.

There were many moments during the evening, while they were on the couch or when they’d gone to bed together for the first time for the sole purpose of sleep and nothing else, when she had an overwhelming desire to blurt out the words. There were moments when the words felt like they were just on the tip of her tongue, but then her old friend self-preservation would kick in.

She’d be a fool to say it before he did, if he even did feel that way. She could imagine the shocked look on his face, and the awkwardness to follow. No way in hell was she ever going to put herself in that situation. And as Scully’s mind started to surrender to sleep, she remembered some of the things he had said earlier: “How are we gonna get a miracle if we don’t even try? … If there is a chance it could work, we should take it. … When can we start?”  What did he mean, exactly, by “we?" But as she watched Mulder’s sleeping face, she knew that she’d never have the courage to ask him.

Chapter Text

He was walking down the familiar beach, towards the eight year old boy and the sand UFO. To his surprise, Scully was not hiding from him. He didn’t have to go deep into the woods to find her. There was no hidden cabin for him to take her in his arms and fulfill his unsatisfied desires. She was on the beach with the boy, and helping him with the UFO. Her hair was in soft, red waves, and it was a lot longer than he remembered, her face was make-up free and freckles had popped out all over it. She was smiling. She was happy. And so was the young boy. There was no Smoking Man anywhere, no one to invade this bliss and turn it into despair. The way that she and the boy looked at each other caused his heart to swell with happiness and pride. They both greeted him with warm smiles, and then he knelt down on the sand with them, helping them sculpt the UFO.

Mulder awoke to the alarm he’d set on his cell phone. He reached out to the bedside table to grab his phone and shut off the alarm; it was 6:00 am. And the screen told him it was Monday, October 4th. He groaned. He looked over at her sleeping beside him.

“Scully?” he said softly.

“Hmm?” she answered, not opening her eyes, snuggling up closer to him.

He smiled. “I’m gonna go home now and get ready for work. I’ll see you at the office.”

“Okay,” she answered sleepily.

Upon hearing her apartment’s front door close, Scully’s eyes flew open. Work. The office. Her mind went into overdrive. Would the events of the weekend have an effect on the atmosphere at work? Sometimes she felt like what had happened between her and Mulder was written all over her. Would people at the FBI notice? Would they betray themselves with looks or body language? They’d have to maintain a professional manner at all times while at work. How difficult would that be when they’re locked away down in the basement by themselves?

She got up out of bed and headed to the bathroom, with her mind on what might lay in store for her when she got to work. She went over to the toilet to see the seat up, rolled her eyes, and then slammed it shut. After emptying her bladder, she got into the shower and her thoughts consumed her. How did Mulder look at her now? Would he treat her differently? Would he still treat her as an equal? Would he now feel he had to protect her even more? Would they be able to have differences of opinion, and even arguments, over a case and leave it at their office door? Or would these disagreements carry over into after-hours? Or, in turn, would personal disagreements end up carrying over into their working relationship?

The boundaries between her and Mulder had now become blurred, and she found herself needing to create new ones. But how to do that without him thinking that she was establishing rules? Was she worrying for nothing? Should they just go with the flow and see what naturally developed? She sighed. She supposed they’d just have to find a way to deal with whatever circumstances that might arise in the future.

*****

At 8:17 am Scully walked into the basement office to find Mulder sitting at the desk, wearing a black suit, looking into the computer screen. She felt butterflies fill her stomach, not knowing what to expect. He looked up at her as she came in and watched her hang up her jacket. She then she did what she does best, and she put her guard up as she turned around and walked towards the desk.

He looked at her. “Good morning.” He felt like her expression was unreadable. She was closed to him again.

“Good morning,” she said, sitting into her regular chair facing him.

“Um… Skinner wants to see us in his office at 8:30.”

“Okay,” she replied. “Anything in the email, or on the voicemail?”

He sighed. “No. I feel like nothing interesting has come across my desk in a long time. Other than that info Danny sent me.”

She arched an eyebrow at him.

“I know, I know. I’m not going to Puerto Rico or Ellens Air Force Base. Danny couldn’t even get any more information, anyways.”

Scully suppressed a smirk. “What about our contacts?”

Mulder shook his head. “Nope. I haven’t received anything from our usual sources.”

She thought about that for a second. “Oh! Remember that message from awhile back? Someone from MUFON. I think his name was Solometo? What was that about?”

He shifted in his chair, feeling uncomfortable. “Nothing but a dead end.”

Scully sighed. “I guess we could send some feelers out to the field offices. See if anyone has anything that might interest us.”

Mulder nodded. “Yeah, I suppose.”

She checked her watch. “We should probably go see Skinner now.”

He nodded and shut off the computer, and they left the office to make their way to the elevator. On the first floor several people stepped onto the elevator to join Mulder and Scully, including Stacey Palmer, Kersh’s secretary. She gave him an icy stare before turning her back to him. Scully turned behind her to look up and catch Mulder’s eye. He threw a bewildered look down at her, shaking his head in disbelief and shrugging his shoulders. She smirked at him, but he wasn’t that amused.

On the third floor, several people exited and entered the elevator. A male agent with blond hair who looked around 30 years old stepped onto the elevator and when he caught sight of Mulder, headed to the back of the compartment to stand next to him.

“Spooky, you dog,” the agent said amusedly, keeping his voice low.

Mulder stared at him.

The agent pursed his lips. “Agent Mulder, I mean. Sorry,” he said, throwing his hands up in a surrendering position.

“And you are?” he asked.

“Agent Henry Morehouse,” he said, reaching out his hand to shake Mulder’s.

He shook his hand slowly, not knowing where this was headed.

“Congratulations on your award, but I must say I’m even more impressed with the way you celebrated afterwards,” Agent Morehouse said, lowering his voice.

Mulder sensed Scully’s body go rigid as she stood in front of him. He stared at Agent Morehouse, furrowing his brows slightly.

Agent Morehouse shot him a conspiratorial look. “Natalie is the best looking chick on the third floor. I’m jealous, Spooky. I’m awfully jealous. You get the hottest babes around here,” he concluded, nodding his head towards Kersh’s secretary standing at the front of the compartment.

Mulder didn’t know how to respond to this and suddenly the doors opened on the fourth floor, most everyone starting to exit. As he and Scully started to walk towards Skinner’s office, he could see the slightly puzzled look on her face.

“Don’t ask me, Scully,” he sighed. “I have no idea either.”

Once they reached Skinner’s office, his secretary showed them inside and Skinner greeted them, asking them to sit at his desk.

“So, how was your weekend?” Skinner asked, leaning back in his chair.

Scully shifted in her seat, and re-crossed her legs. Mulder coughed.

“It… was fine, sir,” he finally said.

Skinner stared at them. “Well, did you enjoy yourselves at the banquet?”

“Not at the banquet, no,” he replied. Scully found herself staring at her lap, her hand picking at something non-existent on her navy blue skirt.

Skinner glanced between them, and then sighed. “Look, I’m sorry for the… tone of the banquet. The Deputy Director…” Skinner sighed again.

“It’s okay, sir,” she said, looking up. “It’s not like we didn’t know he had it out for Mulder.”

Skinner then shot them a stern look. “Which Mulder brought upon himself, in many ways, need I remind you.”

She sighed. Mulder shrugged.

Skinner shot him a pointed look before continuing. “Anyways, the reason I asked you both to come here is because I’ve noticed that you haven’t really had any new cases lately. I know the Oates trial interrupted your work for a while but I feel I need to tell you both that if you want to keep the X-Files open long-term, I suggest you start generating some successful cases as soon as possible.”

Scully stared at him. “That sounds almost like a threat, sir.”

Mulder turned his head sharply to look at her, and then back to Skinner.

Skinner sighed. “The Deputy Director is now paying a lot more attention to you than he was before, is all I’m saying. He doesn’t like you, Mulder. And he’ll gladly latch on to any valid reason to shut you down.”

He closed his eyes and shook his head, and a knot of fear started to slowly tighten in her stomach.

Later that afternoon, just after 5:00 pm, Mulder and Scully exited the basement office, locking it behind them, and made their way to the parking garage. The day they’d spent in the office had been a quiet one. They’d called around and left messages with agents they knew at different field offices around the country, several of whom they’d met back in Colorado, to let them know if anything X-Files related came under their radar. They made contact with different sources from MUFON, NASA, and different science departments from several universities. The highlight of the day was their lengthy, and amusing, phone call with Mulder’s friend Chuck Burks, who was still running the Advanced Digital Imaging Lab at the University of Maryland. But even Chuck hadn’t heard anything through the grapevine that they could look into.

Mulder and Scully didn’t speak much, as their minds were occupied with the same disquieting thoughts. They each worried that this veiled threat from the Deputy Director would cause the other to have second thoughts about this new transition to their partnership. He worried that she would tell him that it was a bad idea and that for the sake of the X-Files, they’d have to nip it in the bud right now. She worried that he would tell her the exact same thing. And so they sat in silence, sharing the same fear.

Once they had reached the parking garage, and Scully turned in the direction of her car, Mulder finally broke his silence.

“Um, Scully?”

She turned back to look at him. “Yeah?”

He swallowed. “Am I… going… to see you tonight?” Please say ‘yes.’

She gave a sigh of relief and smiled at him, biting her lip. She walked back towards him, closing the distance between them. He could feel his heart pounding and thought that if Scully got any closer, she’d be able to hear it.

“I don’t think so, Mulder. Not tonight.”

He gave her a disappointed look, and then he started worrying again.

She looked at him sympathetically. “I just have so much I need to do, Mulder. Things I’ve been neglecting. I need to drop off my dry cleaning. I really need to see my mother. I have to go grocery shopping.”

He nodded. He momentarily had an urge to ask her if he could go with her to the grocery store and to visit her mother, but he wasn’t sure why. Then he realized how domestic that sounded, and he quickly pushed those confusing thoughts away.

Scully smiled at him. “Why don’t you come over in a few days, when… you know…”

He smirked and raised his eyebrows at her. “You’ll… be open for business?”

She blushed furiously and put her hand over her face, laughing. “Wow, Mulder. Thank you for putting it into such terms, but… yes.”

He grinned at her.

“How about Thursday?” Scully asked, still blushing and fighting a smile.

“Sounds good,” he replied, smiling back.

She started to walk away towards her car, but when she glanced back a moment later she saw that the smile was gone and his brows were furrowed. “Mulder, don’t worry,” she called out as she walked away. “It’s only a few days.”

*****

Early on Friday evening, October 15th, Mulder hailed a taxi and headed towards Scully’s apartment in Georgetown, anticipating the night ahead of him, and his thoughts turned to this recent development in their lives. They still hadn’t talked about this thing between them, this new transition their partnership had undertaken. They were partners, they were friends, and they were now having sex. Sometimes he felt like he should pinch himself, sometimes he still couldn't believe it was happening.

But they were still beyond definition. What were they now? He still had no idea. It was a relationship, but without all the relationship stuff that he had always associated with romantic couplings. Scully didn’t ask for flowers or gifts or flowery greeting cards or any of the things that the former women in his life had expected from him. There were no pet names or fluffy terms of endearment. He didn’t even think of them as a “couple” in any traditional way. He was Mulder and she was Scully, and now he got to see her naked. And the longer they went not talking about it, the easier it became to just not talk about it.

They were completely professional at work; their demeanor, conversation, and working relationship hadn’t gone through any real significant change. Although, he noticed that their discussions were less tense, she didn’t roll her eyes at his theories and ideas as much and she seemed to take things much more in stride, and she smiled a little more often, especially when she thought he wasn’t looking at her.

After work, they’d head to their separate cars in the parking garage, or sometimes he took a taxi when he was feeling paranoid, and both wind up at her apartment, with Mulder always arriving 20 minutes behind her and she’d greet him at the door with wet hair, freshly showered. Always her apartment. They never went to his. He wasn’t exactly sure why, but her place was closer to work, a lot cleaner, and there was actually food in the refrigerator.

Mulder usually sat in her kitchen and watched her cook dinner, which apparently took Scully some getting used to as she would complain that she couldn’t concentrate with him staring at her and she’d always try to get him to wait in the living room while she cooked. But he always resisted: he wanted to watch her. Then they’d sit at the table and eat together. Sometimes they’d discuss work, or something he had read in the newspaper or the current MUFON newsletter, or something interesting she had seen in one of the science journals she wrote articles for or something weird she’d heard from one of her friends at Quantico; sometimes they ate in comfortable silence.

They would then move to the couch in her living room and watch TV, but before long any interest in the television was abandoned for a make out session that inevitably led to their naked bodies groping, thrusting, and moaning in her bedroom. He would then leave a sleeping Scully at dawn, go home and shower, and then they’d both arrive at work, where they proceeded to act like the previous night had never happened. Cycle, rinse, repeat.

In the dark of Scully’s bedroom, she was open to him. She unquestioningly received pleasure and affection. In the light of day, she was closed off to him. There had been moments where he had, automatically and without even thinking about it, attempted some sort of public display of affection, like two days ago when they went to a diner for lunch and he unconsciously reached across the table to hold her hand. Scully pulled her hand back and looked at him like he had three heads. Although, later that night she was enthusiastic about celebrating his birthday and he remembered the sex being particularly good.

He wondered if they’d ever talk about what was happening, or what it meant, or where this was heading, or what would happen if the next IVF attempt actually succeeded. But then he thought that maybe it was better that they didn’t. This thing between them, this thing that had no definition, Mulder suddenly seemed scared to define it. Did it need to be defined? Did he need to explain it? Maybe he didn’t want to.

Chapter Text

On Friday night, October 15th, Mulder and Scully sat in her living room facing the television, he on the couch and she on the floor in front of him at the coffee table. They had ordered delivery from an Italian restaurant in the neighborhood earlier that evening because she had things she needed to do and hadn’t felt up to cooking. He turned his attention from Dateline NBC to the coffee table, which held a half-empty bottle of red wine and two glasses, a few open books, and Scully hunched over it in front of him with a notebook and pen.

He sighed. “Are you going to work all night, Scully?”

She grinned over the book she was reading. “No, not all night.”

“Can’t that wait?”

“Well, I really need to make some headway with this, Mulder. I have to submit the final draft to the Forensic Sciences Journal in three weeks.”

He groaned in frustration.

She chuckled. “I promise I’ll give you lots of attention later.”

“Hmm,” he replied, his tone denoting a hint of skepticism.

She rolled her eyes and smirked over her notebook.

After 25 minutes had gone by, and Dateline was going off the air, he lost any interest in the TV and found himself gazing down at the back of her head. Her hair was up in some elastic and the milky, soft skin of her neck was exposed. He slid down, and sat on the floor behind her, settling his back against the couch and sliding his legs around her.

“Mulder, what are you doing?” she asked as she drove her pen across the notebook, jotting down notes on mitochondrial DNA.

“I’m tired of sitting on the couch by myself. If the mountain won’t come to Mohammed.”

She snorted.

He stared at the back of her neck. He brought his hand up and began to gently brush her skin with the tips of his fingers.

“Please don’t distract me, Mulder. I really need to concentrate on this.”

“Mmm-hmm,” he replied, without taking away his hand, and continued to slowly brush his fingers up and down the soft skin of her neck.

She sighed after reading the same paragraph three times.

He smirked. He brought his head down and kissed the back of her neck, darting out his tongue against her skin.

She let out a small gasp and closed her eyes, dropping the pen on her notebook and letting her hand fall to her lap.

“I want to find all your spots, Scully,” he whispered.

She sighed again as he returned his lips to the back of her neck, stroking her skin softly with his tongue.

Soon Scully started to squirm, feeling hot desire begin to pool at her center, and Mulder brought his arm around her waist to hold her to him. As his mouth made its way around her neck, she tilted her head to the side, keeping her eyes closed, and moved her right hand behind her to the back of his head, running her fingers through his hair. And when his tongue found that soft area of flesh just behind her earlobe, she gasped. He smiled at having discovered another one of her sensitive spots. His tongue continued its ministrations there until she started breathing heavily, and then his hands left their hold around her abdomen to drop to her black pants, undoing the button and pulling down the zipper, as his own member began to stiffen inside his jeans.

“Touch yourself, Scully,” Mulder whispered in her ear.

Her eyes flew open. “Wha… what?”

“I want you to touch yourself. I want to watch.”

She thought of his porn habit. Of course he likes to watch. She felt insecurity and cringing embarrassment rising up in her gut. “I’d rather you did it, Mulder,” she whispered, after a pause.

He returned his mouth to her neck, while mentally chiding himself. He could feel her tense up as soon as he’d said it. Dammit, why did he do that? He’d obviously made her feel uncomfortable. That was clearly one of the things inside that dirty mind of his he was better off keeping to himself. How much of his mind could he open up to Scully without causing her to recoil from him? It had been so long since he'd had a sexual relationship, he'd forgotten how difficult it could be to open up your world to someone else.

He didn’t want her to think something was wrong, so he snaked his hand down the front of her pants and inside her lavender cotton underwear, his fingers finding her clit and the growing wetness there. He felt his erection become harder. Scully closed her eyes and, to Mulder’s delight, soon started moaning.

His ministrations on her clit and the feel of her ass squirming against his swollen cock started to make his head spin and his groin tighten. She felt the first stirrings toward orgasm, when he pulled his hand away. She whimpered. He grinned into her ear.

“Let’s go to the bedroom, Scully,” he whispered.

They stood up and made their way to her bedroom, his hands never leaving her waist and his mouth never leaving her neck. Once they’d closed the door behind them, she turned to face him and his mouth was on hers, kissing her passionately. Mulder loved kissing Scully, and sometimes felt that was his favorite part. There had been times over the past week when he found himself on the verge of attempting to kiss her hello or goodbye, but she always averted her eyes and turned her head. But there, in her darkened bedroom lit only by the moon and street lights outside the window, she was open to receiving his affection and so he took as much advantage of it as he could.

She lifted his charcoal gray shirt up, and Mulder pulled it over his head. He then pulled her white shirt up and over her head, and it joined his shirt on the bedroom floor. She then began to kiss his chest, running her tongue over his sensitive nipples. He groaned, as his hands went to her hair, pulling it free of the elastic and sinking his hands into it. She ran the tips of her fingers through the soft curls of his chest, down his firm stomach to his waist, unbuttoning his jeans and pulling down the zipper. She slid her right hand down the front of his jeans, and slipping them inside his navy blue boxer briefs, her hand closing around his hard cock, and stroked him.

“Scully…” he breathed, closing his eyes.

And once again, Scully knew what she wanted. She’d wanted to do it many times over the past week, but Mulder always had some way of preventing her. At first she didn’t think much of it, but the more he stopped her, the more she thought about it, and then the more it bothered her. She’d find herself gazing at him, hunched over his desk at work wearing those adorable, dorky glasses of his, and she’d wonder why he wouldn’t let her do it. But she was determined to not allow him to stop her again.

Her hand left his erection, and she pulled his jeans down to the floor, removing them off his legs along with his socks. She was sitting on her knees in front of him, and she was determined. She then pulled his boxer briefs down to the floor, and he stepped out of them. But as he reached down to lift her off the floor, she put her hands out to block his arms.

Mulder chuckled. “We have to get you undressed, too, you know.”

She looked up at him. “Not yet.”

He then noticed that she was staring at his engorged cock, and licking her lips. He felt his cock throb, but he sighed. “Scully, that’s not what I want.”

She looked up at his face. “Mulder, I’m tired of you saying that. What about what I want?”

He stared at her. He didn’t recall the previous women in his life being particularly enthusiastic about this act, other than Phoebe who tended to turn it into a controlling mind game, like she did everything. But his college girlfriend absolutely refused to do it and Diana felt it was a chore she performed begrudgingly, and only willingly handed out on special occasions, like his birthday or their anniversary. And he thought of those scenes from adult films, of women with dicks all over their faces and begging for come. Real women weren’t like that, at least the ones he’d known, and certainly not a woman as dignified as Scully. He couldn’t let her do it.

Mulder sighed. “Scully, no. What could you possibly get out of it? Let’s just get on the bed.”

She raised her hands to grasp his erection, and started to stroke him. He closed his eyes and started breathing heavily. “But you do it to me,” she said.

He looked at her. “That’s different, Scully.”

She gave him an incredulous look. “How is that different?”

“It just is.” He looked down at her small, warm hands sliding up and down the length of his swollen cock, and he started panting harder.

She realized that he had no valid reasons whatsoever for preventing her from doing this. She let go of his erection, and challenged him. “I thought we were equals, Mulder.”

He opened his mouth to reply, but then quickly closed it. He stared down at her, and saw she was arching an eyebrow at him. She had him. And she knew she had him. What was he going to say? They’re not equals? Because he couldn’t see that going over very well. He would rather get hit by a bus that’s engulfed in flames than ever say such a thing to Scully. They were equals, and he could never deny it.

“Mulder… do you like receiving oral sex?” she asked in a tone which revealed she already knew the answer.

He nodded. “Yes,” he whispered.

“Good. Because I like giving it.”

He stared at her. His heart started pounding furiously.

She looked him in the eyes. “I want to suck your cock. And I want you to come in my mouth.”

Mulder’s eyes bulged. He never imagined that such language was part of Scully’s vocabulary.

She then turned her attention back to his erection. He was so beautiful. He was big and hard and thick and… male. He smelled like salt, and something else, something uniquely Mulder. Her mouth started watering. She then grasped his erection firmly with both hands, and flicked her tongue over the engorged head.

His eyes rolled and he let out a groan, “Fuuuck…” When was the last time a woman put her mouth on him? He couldn’t even remember.

She repeated the flick of her tongue a few more times, before flattening her tongue and swirling it around his sensitive head. Then she took him fully in her mouth, and the guttural moan this elicited from Mulder caused a surge of power to rise up inside Scully. In her mind, he was a powerful man. He could be controlling at times, and a part of her needed it and another part of her hated it. But he’d grasped her hand and courageously brought her with him to the most dangerous situations imaginable, putting her in harms’ way again and again, and yet he was her fiercest protector. Without question, she placed her very life in his capable hands every day, trusting that no real harm could befall her if he was there. To Scully, Mulder had real power, a power that came from somewhere deep within him. And she held his pleasure in the palm of her hand. He was at her mercy. She felt powerful.

From the first flick of Scully’s tongue, Mulder was gone. It was almost like this was the first time he’d ever experienced it. Every movement of her mouth around him was mesmerizing. But then she started to stroke one hand up and down, twisting around his shaft, and sent her other hand lower to cup and squeeze his balls. He started moaning and felt like his knees were going to buckle. He looked down into Scully’s eyes smiling up at him and it was the most erotic thing he’d ever seen in his life. Her soft, pink mouth was hot and wet. Her swollen lips looked incredible around his cock. And as he watched her tongue lick up and down his shaft, he had to fight the urge to grab her head and rock his hips against her. He started digging his hands into his thighs.

She thought that his sounds had taken on a note of frustration. “Mulder, tell me how you like it,” she whispered.

He smiled down at her, running his hands through her hair. She was so beautiful. “You’re doing fine, Scully.”

She gave him a pointed look. “Damn it, Mulder, just tell me.”

“Deeper… harder,” he whispered, closing his eyes. He still couldn’t believe she was doing this.

Scully didn’t hesitate to wrap both hands around his swollen shaft and squeeze tighter, before she returned her mouth to his engorged head and increased her suction. He let out another guttural moan and his hands clutched her hair. She picked up the pace; stroking faster, squeezing tighter, and sucking harder.

He felt his groin tighten and the pressure inside his balls build. “Oh, my God, yes…” he breathed.

She felt another strong sense of power surge through her body. She stared moaning against him.

Mulder looked down to watch her and he felt his groin tighten even more. He’d gazed at Scully’s mouth a lot over the last six years, and fantasized about that mouth, but nothing could’ve prepared him for how carnal she looked at that moment. Just an hour ago this mouth was talking to him about human mitochondrial DNA and age-related point mutation, and now that same mouth was devouring his hard cock. Oh, God.

He watched her return one of her small, warm hands to cup and squeeze his balls, and he felt jolts of pleasure streak through his groin, down his thighs, and up to his stomach. His hips bucked against her. “Scully…” Mulder panted.

She could hear the desperation. She took him deeper into her mouth, sucked a little harder, and squeezed a little tighter.

He felt the jolts of pleasure turn into waves. Explicit language started to tumble out of his mouth, and she knew he was close.

“FUCK, SCULLY…” Mulder’s knees locked and his hands gripped her hair tighter, as his waves of pleasure became a flood, and his orgasm spilled into her mouth. She continued the suction around him, milking him, as she licked and swallowed his release.

He stood there with his eyes closed, breathing hard and with his hands still in her hair, for some time before he could trust that his legs would be able to hold him up if he moved.

Scully had never felt more turned on in her life: the salty taste of him and the power he gave her, the control. She had also never felt more confident. “Mulder… did you still want to watch me?”

His eyes flew open and he stared down at her. He nodded his head vigorously, eyes wide. His mouth then devoured hers as she stood up. Scully threw her arms around Mulder’s neck, kissing him passionately, and he held her tight to his chest. Then he walked her backwards until the backs of her thighs hit the side of the bed. He turned down the bed and then picked her up, sitting her on the mattress. His hands went to the waistband of her pants, pulling them down and off her legs as she laid down. She removed her bra and tossed it to the floor. He gazed at her perfectly round breasts before hooking his thumbs in the waist of her panties, noticing they were soaked through, and pulling them down her legs.

Mulder climbed up on the bed to sit beside Scully. She was lying on her back, and she gave him a small smile as she saw his head turn to look down at her center. She then bent her knees, and spread her legs. He gazed at her. He watched her right hand slide down her abdomen towards her pelvis, down past the crown of her trimmed auburn curls. She pulled her fingers through her wet slit, and up to circle her engorged clit. He watched her close her eyes, arch her back, and press her head into the mattress. He then watched her begin to rub herself, his photographic memory capturing her movement for future use.

She started breathing heavily and making small guttural moans. And then he watched, wide-eyed, as her fingers left her swollen clit to slip through her soaking wet folds and push into her cunt, before returning back to rub her clit. She performed this pattern more times, each time faster than the last until it became a rapid succession. She shut her eyes tight, and her breathing quickened.

Mulder lay down on his side next to her and brought his hand to her jawline. “Look at me, Scully,” he whispered.

She turned her head to the side as she opened her eyes, and he gazed into them. His hand went to the side of her throat, brushing his fingertips up and down her soft skin. She felt her heart swell as she looked into his eyes. The exquisite tension increased, and finally the throb of her clit burst and waves of pleasure flooded her brain. Scully started to turn her head away from Mulder, but he immediately leaned down to capture her loud moans with his mouth, kissing her passionately, not letting her look away from him.

Chapter Text

She walked up the stairs of her Stevensville, Maryland home and down to the end of the carpeted hallway. She turned to the left and stared at the white door. This room always used to be open but the door had been closed since that Saturday when friends and relatives had accompanied her back to the house from the church, that day she’d hoped that she would never have to experience. She hadn’t been able to bring herself to go inside this room and do what she needed to do, but she couldn’t go on ignoring it any longer. It had to be done.

She opened the door and was greeted with the familiar white walls, celery green carpeting, the bedspread of purple lilacs with green leaves, and the antique wooden vanity table with matching chair and dresser. She remembered fondly when the former occupant of this bedroom had excitedly chosen the furniture and bedding when she was just 15 years old. Had it really been that long ago? It seemed like yesterday. The room hadn’t actually been occupied since 1977, and was only used when the former occupant had come home for holidays or the occasional weekend visits. But there would be no more visits, no more holidays spent together.

She set the cardboard boxes down on the floor and went to the closet. She removed dresses, skirts, and other nice clothes. She reached for the lilac purple prom dress with ruffles around the scoop neckline and on the sleeves, the fitted waist with a ribbon, and the tulle over-layer with subtle polka dots. Tears filled her eyes. She had been so happy on that night, and so proud of the woman her daughter was turning into: she was beautiful, and smart, incredibly smart, and driven.

She folded the dress gently, and placed it inside a cardboard box. Once the closet was emptied, she moved to the dresser and filled another box with pants, shirts, pajamas, and undergarments. Once the dresser was empty, she moved to the vanity table and cleared off the few bottles of perfume and the jewelry box containing her daughter’s teenage treasures. She picked up the framed photograph, the only picture in the room, taken at her daughter’s university graduation just over 10 years ago. Her daughter had actually earned a PhD. She’d been so very proud of her little girl. That was a happy day.

She looked at the man in the photo. He had his arm over her daughter’s shoulder, and they were smiling. Her daughter had been so gone on that man. He was all she ever talked about. It was too bad things couldn’t have worked out for them. She had always rather liked him. She then placed the photograph inside the box to join the other items from the table.

Once the vanity was cleared, she moved the boxes out to the hallway. She returned to the bedroom and took one more glance around, and then stared at the bed. She supposed it wouldn’t hurt to check. She got down on her knees, raised the skirt off the floor, and looked underneath the bed. Well, this was a surprise. She’d never seen this before. She pulled it out from underneath the bed. There was a white letter-sized envelope taped to it, addressed “Mom.” A lump grew in her throat and her tears began to fall as she took her left forefinger to the envelope, and opened it.

*****

Scully lay awake as the morning light brightened her bedroom, watching Mulder sleep. She felt conflicted, as always. She wanted him there with her all the time but she knew that getting too used to having him around, especially in a personal way when work wasn’t involved, would only make her more dependent on him. This, in turn, would only make the heartache and pain that waited for her in the future even more unbearable. She wanted him there but self-preservation was winning out, as usual.

She rolled out of bed, went into the bathroom, and put on her ivory bathrobe. She returned to the bedroom to see him still asleep, lying on his back and with the lower half of his body covered up by the cream-colored sheets.

“Mulder, wake up,” she said, gently shaking his arm.

“Hmm?” he replied, his eyes still closed.

“You need to wake up. It’s time for you to go home.”

He started to blink himself awake. “But it’s Saturday, Scully,” he said, yawning.

“What’s your point? Mulder, you’ve spent the last nine nights in a row here.”

He grinned at her. “Are you counting, Scully?”

She stared at him.

He was still grinning at her. “Why don’t you come back to bed, Scully?”

He started to reach for her, but she stepped backwards. Scully’s fight-or-flight response was kicking in. At night, in the dark was one thing. Sex with Mulder in broad daylight was another thing altogether, and that wasn’t a road she was really prepared to go down.

“Do I have to remind you that you don’t actually live here, Mulder? It’s time for you to go home.”

He sighed, sitting up in the bed. “Why? I wanted to hang out here with you today.”

She have him an exasperated look. “Mulder, I have things I need to do. I need to write that article for the Forensic Sciences Journal and I’ll never finish it if you’re here. I’m assuming you’re planning on spending the night all next week as well?”

“Yes,” he said without hesitating.

“Well, then, I need to get this done,” she replied. “Mulder, don’t you have things you need to do? You must have a mountain of laundry, and it probably wouldn’t hurt to clean that disaster you call an apartment.”

He rolled his eyes and got out of bed as she left the bedroom and headed into the kitchen. As she was setting the tea kettle on the stove to boil, he entered the kitchen, fully dressed.

“Do you want to have breakfast together before I go?” he asked.

“No,” she replied. If she allowed it now, it would eventually become a habit, and then it would turn into yet another aspect of their co-dependency. She thought returning a little more distance between them couldn’t hurt.

Mulder eyed her, sighing. “All right, then.”

He walked over to where she was standing in front of the sink, placing both arms around her and grabbing the counter edge. Scully felt trapped. He looked like he was about to kiss her. They’d never kissed just for the sake of sharing a kiss, despite the fact that she could tell he had wanted to quite often over the past week or so. But kissing had been kept for one purpose, to lead to sex, along with all other displays of affection. She needed to maintain some kind of hold on the situation, she didn’t want to let herself get carried away and start acting like some lovesick teenager. She was fighting to keep herself from getting even more attached to him than she was already.

The kettle started whistling and Scully turned her face from his, who had started to lean down towards her, and pushed into his arm for a second until he let go of the counter. He sighed as he watched her pour the hot water into her mug, and then turned to walk towards the front door. She then followed Mulder, and opened her door for him.

Once he was past the threshold, he turned to look at her with a disappointed expression. “Scully, can’t I stay?”

She stared at him. “No. Good grief, Mulder. It’s Saturday. Go do something, anything. Clean your apartment. Feed your fish. Do some errands. Go for a run. Play basketball. Visit the Lone Gunmen. Whatever it is you normally do with yourself on the weekends. I’m sure you have a life you need to get back to. Okay? I’ll see you on Monday morning.”

He looked at her. He felt he was just on the verge of saying “You’re my life,” but he quickly stopped himself. And then what she said sunk in.

“Monday?!” He felt stunned.

Scully sighed. “Yes, Mulder. I’ll see you Monday morning. At the office.” And then she shut the door in his face.

*****

Mulder grumbled to himself all the way down Scully’s hallway and her building’s elevator. It was dawning on him that she was creating rules. So far she hadn’t allowed hand-holding, kissing (other than at night in her apartment), and other displays of affection, especially in public. She wouldn’t let him take her out to dinner or anything else that could possibly signify “a date.” He supposed there wasn’t anything wrong with that. It’s not like he wanted his friendship with her to become anything like the previous relationships he’d had. He really had no idea how to make a romantic relationship work, anyways. Every woman he’d been seriously involved with left him, so he must’ve been doing something wrong.

But at the same time, Mulder felt something was lacking. He always felt a twinge of disappointment when he couldn’t kiss Scully hello or goodbye, when their hands would brush against each other as they walked down the sidewalk and she would put hers in the pocket of her jacket just at the precise moment Mulder automatically went to hold it, when he’d nonchalantly rub her back or shoulders in their office and she’d walk away from him. Mulder would usually blow it off, reminding himself that he had no idea how to be a romantic partner anyways, she clearly wanted to maintain some sense of boundaries between them, and that this thing between them was pretty good just the way it was.

But deep down in the recesses of his heart, Mulder wanted more than just sex. He wanted Scully to love him, and not just as a dear friend. Maybe if he got her to open up to him more, and not just in the dark of her bedroom, she would. When they lay down together at night, he could see the affection in her eyes. Outside of her bedroom, she shut him out, she hid from him. He wished he knew why. He'd been suppressing those feelings since the morning after she’d flown into his lap on her couch and their partnership crossed into uncharted territory. And instead of sitting down and talking those things out, the subject just joined all the others that they had avoided talking about over the years. He and Scully were pros at not talking.

Truthfully, it had been easy to bury those feelings in the past because he never really knew what it was like to grow up in a household where there was a lot of love and affection. He thought he had loved Phoebe, but the older he got the more he realized his feelings were closer to obsession and that Phoebe had never actually loved him at all. He thought he had loved Diana, but there were many things about that relationship he wasn’t all that happy with and now that he knew the truth about her, he’d rather just forget everything. Mulder had never really known, or understood, what true love was, real love. He'd never experienced it, nor had he seen it exemplified by the adults in his life when he was younger.

But hidden deep down, Mulder craved the security of a loving relationship with someone who really cares about him, someone who would never fuck with his head, someone who would never lie to him. His deep-seated yearnings for family and fatherhood, which he’d repressed for most of his life, were also becoming ever-present in the back of his mind. Now that he was getting a taste of everything Scully could offer him, those long-buried desires were slowly starting to bubble to the surface and were becoming difficult to ignore. This only added to his confusion. He had no idea what he and Scully were, or where this was going, or how long it would last. Was it only for a little while until they get it out of their system? He hoped not. Was it forever? He quickly suppressed that thought.

And as Mulder walked towards the front door of Scully’s building, he was acutely aware that he had really wanted to stay with her all weekend. He wanted to spend time with her and do things that didn’t necessarily involve taking their clothes off. He’d be perfectly content to sit on her couch all day and watch TV with her. Or sit and listen to her talk, about anything. He didn't care. Or take her out somewhere nice, even though she usually shot him down whenever he suggested it. But basketball season was starting up soon. Maybe he could get tickets for them to see some Maryland Terrapins games. Seeing as how sports was involved, she might not think he was crossing the personal boundaries she was creating.

When he got outside to the sidewalk, he realized he didn’t have his car. He gave an exasperated sigh, and then started walking up Scully’s street until he reached P Street NW and hailed a taxi. The cab dropped him off at his favorite local diner, Abigail’s, which was only three blocks from his apartment on Hegal Place. After a breakfast of eggs, corned beef hash, and toast, he walked home.

Mulder didn’t know what to do with himself. His apartment was a pigsty. His clothes had been thrown every which way all over his bedroom. His breakfast dishes were piled up in the sink. He thought about cleaning, like Scully suggested, but then quickly abandoned that idea. He changed into his torn, sleeveless Knicks sweatshirt and a pair of gym shorts, grabbed his basketball, and headed to his local court.

*****

She’d driven her silver 1995 Buick LeSabre for an hour, and found herself once again turning onto the familiar street. It had been almost nine years since she’d been there. She remembered that day vividly. It was Thanksgiving 1990. Instead of her daughter coming to her house, like she usually did for the holidays, she had wanted to prepare Thanksgiving dinner at her apartment. Her boyfriend’s parents also came, something her daughter hadn’t expected. They’d been invited, but had initially declined to give a definitive answer. Her boyfriend had been almost positive they wouldn’t show up. But they showed up after all, and she remembered the atmosphere being very tense and awkward. She felt very sorry for the young man. He’d looked completely miserable the entire day.

As she drove down the street, she found the building where her daughter had used to live but had to drive a little further down to find a parking space. She sat in the car for quite some time, not able to get out. She wasn’t sure what she was going to say. She looked down at it, sitting in the passenger seat. She remembered her daughter’s letter that had been attached to it with her instructions. She hadn’t really understood some of the things the letter said, and her daughter’s reasons for why it had been left under her old bed, and why the letter had asked her to bring it here. There obviously had been things in her daughter’s life that she’d completely kept from her.

After sitting in the car for close to 10 minutes, she opened her door and stepped out. She walked around to the passenger side, and after opening the door, grabbed it off the seat. She then locked the car, and started to walk towards the apartment building. She walked through the front door, and made her way to the elevators.

When the elevator doors opened on the correct floor, she stepped out onto the hardwood flooring and walked to the opposite end of the hallway. She stood in front of the apartment door, and lifted her hand to knock, but she froze. What was she going to say? Should she just leave it, and go? Should she stay and see if it will be opened in front of her? Did she even have the right to ask what was in it? Her daughter’s letter had made her feel like she’d rather not know. But what if she knocked and no one came to the door? She couldn’t leave it in the hallway. Would she get up the nerve to drive out here a second time?

But after taking a deep breath, she knocked.

“Hold on, be right there,” called out a familiar voice from inside the apartment.

Her stomach was full of nerves as the door opened, and she saw him standing there with wet hair, wearing a pair of jeans and holding a towel in his hand, with a look of absolute astonishment on his face.

“Mrs. Fowley?"

She smiled. “Hello, Fox.”

Chapter Text

Diana’s mother was the last person on earth Mulder ever expected to see at his apartment door. It had been ages since he’d seen her, not since they’d all gone out to some fancy restaurant for Diana’s birthday a couple months before she left for Europe. And that was over eight years ago. She’d aged, her hair had gone completely gray, and she had a lot more wrinkles. She had to be in her late 60’s.

“Sorry to bother you on a Saturday afternoon. I’m sure your weekends off are precious.”

Mulder shrugged. “I wasn’t busy. It’s not a problem.”

“Can I come in?” she asked.

Mulder blinked. “Uh, yeah… yeah, come in.”

Mulder showed her into the living room before darting into his messy bedroom to find a clean shirt. He came back out to see her sitting on his couch and the white cardboard storage box she’d been carrying was sitting on his coffee table.

“Can I get you anything? Some coffee? Or tea?”

“No, thank you, Fox.”

Mulder walked over to his desk to turn the chair around, and sat down to face Mrs. Fowley. He had no idea what to say to her. “So… what brings you here?”

“This box,” she replied, nodding her head in its direction. “I’d found it under Diana’s bed at the house, in her old bedroom.”

He’d been in that room before, many times. “What’s in the box?”

Mrs. Fowley sighed. “I don’t know.”

“You didn’t open it?” Mulder was kind of surprised at that.

“No,” she said. “I wasn’t sure I wanted to know. I’m still not sure. Attached to the lid was a letter from Diana. She’d come to the house about a week before she was… killed. Apparently she’d put the box there then because it hadn’t been there when I did the spring cleaning two months before.”

Mulder nodded. He had no idea where this was heading. “What did the letter say?”

Mr. Fowley hesitated. “That if anything happened to her I was to bring the box to you, but if something had also happened to you, I was then to find someone named Dana Scully at the FBI. She said in the letter you would understand what was in the box. At first I thought the box might’ve contained personal items, but then the letter went on to tell me that there were many things about her life and her work that she had never told me. That she had never wanted to make me feel ashamed, that she’d only ever wanted to make me proud. I don’t want my memories of my daughter to be tarnished, Fox. If Diana’s work made her compromise her… morals, then I think I’d rather not know.”

“I understand,” Mulder replied, as Mrs. Fowley stood up from the couch.

Mulder stood to join her and she walked towards the front door, Mulder following behind.

As they reached the door, Mrs. Fowley looked into Mulder’s messy kitchen. “The place was a lot cleaner last time I was here,” she said, eyeing him.

Mulder chuckled. “Yeah, well, I had Diana cleaning up after me.”

Mrs. Fowley looked at him. “You never got married?”

He shook his head.

“Do you have a girlfriend? Or… someone special?”

Mulder hesitated. Just the thought of labeling Scully with a relationship title as trite as ‘girlfriend’ made him cringe. He didn't really know what he had. “Uh… well… I have, uh, I have my FBI partner.”

Mrs. Fowley gave him a small smile, and then sighed. “Never found time for romance, huh? Diana was the same.”

Mulder didn’t know what to say to this. Mrs. Fowley then opened the apartment door, gave him another small smile, and then left without another word. Mulder walked over to the couch and sat down, pulling the white storage box closer. He lifted the lid to find stacks of black ruled journals. After picking up the first one on the top, he opened it and stared scanning the pages. Oh, God.

Mulder threw the notebook back in the box. He briskly walked into the bedroom to put on his shoes, and then grabbed his cell phone and keys off the dresser. After walking back out to the living room, he grabbed the box and made his way out to his car.

*****

On Sunday morning, Scully got dressed into her sage green skirt and matching jacket, and drove to Alexandria to meet her mother at St. John’s Church. To Scully’s happy surprise, Charlie, Jennifer, and the boys had also come to spend the day.

After Mass, Scully drove to her mother’s house to have lunch with the family. They all sat around the dining room table, talking and laughing. Jennifer was just about six months pregnant now, and was excited over learning she was having a daughter. She was in her own little world of baby names, nursery designs, and baby shower planning.

After lunch, they all got on speaker phone with Bill and Tara. Tara was going to have her twins any day now, and so they’d been giving Mrs. Scully daily phone calls to keep her apprised of what’s going on. They all gathered around the phone and had a group conversation that lasted well over an hour. Scully sat and listened to Jennifer and Tara go into ‘mommy mode’ with their excited baby talk. She wondered if she'd ever have good news to share with them, but quickly pushed that thought away.

Later, Scully and Jennifer cleaned up the kitchen while Mrs. Scully and Charlie were watching The Rugrats Movie with the boys in the living room.

Jennifer eyed Scully, who was washing dishes in the sink. “So… what’s going on with you?"

Scully turned to look at her. “What do you mean?”

Jennifer squinted at her, and twitched her mouth slightly. “There’s something going on with you. What is it?”

Scully felt her face grow hot and turned her attention back to the sink. “Nothing.”

Jennifer rolled her eyes. “Dana, come on. You’ve been smiling to yourself all day. So that obviously means there’s a guy. Are you seeing somebody? Wait… is it that cop? What was his name? … Kresge?”

“No, Jennifer. And Kresge went back to San Diego a while ago.”

She smirked at Scully again. “Then why are you blushing? And smiling?”

Scully sighed. “I don’t know what you’re talking about. I’m just having a good day, that’s all. Does that have to mean something is going on?”

She felt herself desperately trying to stop blushing, and stop herself from smiling. She even started biting her lip as she washed the dishes. Jennifer didn’t reply, and continued to dry the clean dishes that Scully was handing to her. But then Jennifer turned her head sharply to look at Scully, her eyes going wide.

Scully turned to look at her. “What?”

Jennifer started giggling, “Oh, my God, Dana.” She then pulled Scully away from the sink, and into Mrs. Scully’s pantry, closing the door behind them, still giggling.

“It’s Mulder, isn’t it?”

Scully stared at her in shock. “What? No! Jennifer, come on, don’t be ridiculous.”

“You’ve always been a terrible liar, Dana,” she replied, grinning. “Why didn’t you tell me?!”

Scully’s face had gone bright red. “Jennifer, you can’t tell anyone! Not even Charlie!”

“I knew it.” Jennifer was giggling again. “Are you having sex with him?”

Scully buried her face in her hands.

“Oh. My. God.”

“Jennifer, I’m serious,” Scully, despite her best efforts, had started giggling too. “You can’t say a word to anyone!”

“I won’t. I promise. Cross my heart and hope to die. How did this happen?”

Scully sighed. “I don’t know. It just happened.”

“Well, it’s about time,” Jennifer replied. “So… how is it?”

Scully looked puzzled. “How is what?”

Jennifer gave her an exasperated look. “The sex, Dana,” she whispered. “The. Sex. It’s good, right? I could tell just by looking at him.”

“Jennifer!” Scully’s face was burning up again.

“What? I’m just saying.”

At this the pantry door flung open and Charlie was standing there. “What are you two doing in here?”

“Nothing,” Scully and Jennifer said in unison.

He stared at them.

“Go away, Charlie,” Jennifer said.

Charlie glanced between them before walking away mumbling something that sounded a lot like “women” under his breath.

Jennifer rolled her eyes before closing the door and turning back to Scully and lowering her voice. “So, is Mulder, like, your boyfriend now?”

Scully shot her a blank stare. “Boyfriend? What am I, in high school?”

“Well, then… what is he?”

Scully thought about this. She really had no idea. What were they now? They were partners, they were friends, but they were more than that. But how much more, that hadn’t really been clearly defined.

“I don’t know. He’s… he’s Mulder,” Scully replied, shrugging.

“Hmm,” Jennifer replied, slightly skeptical.

Scully arched an eyebrow. “Can we please stop talking about this? And can we please get out of the pantry now?”

*****

At just past 5:00 pm on Saturday afternoon, Mulder was pounding on the door to the Lone Gunmen’s office. After hearing several locks releasing, the door opened.

“Mulder!” Frohike greeted him with a surprise. “Nice to see you finally gracing us with your presence. We’ve been wondering what you’ve been up to. Is, uh, Agent Scully with you?”

Mulder sighed. “No, she’s not.”

Frohike gave him a disappointed look before stepping aside to let Mulder through the door.

“What’s in the box?” asked Langly, as Mulder walked further into the office and set it on the table.

“More MUFON data from Diana. That pregnancy trial in Europe with the 30 women, the one that was on the disc, which Diana conducted in late 1997 – early 1998 wasn’t the first one. Others had been done much earlier than that.”

Byers walked over. “Wow, really?”

“Yep,” Mulder nodded. “So put on a pot of coffee, boys, because we’re going to go through it all.” Mulder opened the lid of the box and started taking out the notebooks.

Six hours later, Mulder, Frohike, Langly, and Byers could still be seen hunched over the table, reading Diana’s log books. Not long after starting the process, they realized that the notebooks contained data from separate tests done over the past several years. They then had to spend quite a while organizing the notebooks into chronological order.

The journals containing the notes from the earliest test group were from early 1996. This group included 20 female abductees, MUFON members from European charters, all of whom were either married or single and sexually active. They all agreed to place the chips back in their necks, their cancer soon going into remission, and then all agreed to try to get pregnant. The women were all administered the vaccine to the alien virus, and then their chips were activated after a request form with their ID numbers was sent to a C.G.B.S. – Smoking Man.

The women each kept a diary, also included in the box with Diana’s notes, describing each sexual experience. Within three to four weeks of their cancer remission, the married women were all pregnant. None of the single women were, save one. But during the 7th or 8th week of pregnancy, the pregnant women all miscarried. The study was conducted twice more, and the same result: married women pregnant, single women not (other than one in particular), and then all miscarried.

Mulder gave Byers the job of reading all the women’s journals describing each sexual encounter with their husband or boyfriend. There were moments when the other guys would see Byers’ face burning red, or abruptly getting up from the table to get a glass of water, and they’d all exchange looks and grin.

“You all right, Byers?” Mulder asked after seeing him turn beet red, and leave the table.

“Shut up, Mulder,” he called out from another room.

Frohike, Langly, and Mulder all stifled laughs.

“What happened to the women after the tests failed?” Mulder asked, looking at Frohike and Langly sitting across from him.

“Cancer Man ordered Diana to remove the chips from their necks,” Frohike replied, in a disgusted tone of voice.

Mulder sighed, rubbing his hand over his face.

“Mulder, we’ve gotta get some sleep,” Langly said, yawning. “We’ve been at this for hours. We’ll never understand what’s in these journals if we read while we’re exhausted.”

Mulder nodded. He felt exhausted, too. The Gunmen all headed to their bedrooms, and Mulder crashed on the couch.

*****

Jennifer sighed. “Okay, let me get this straight. You and Mulder are… partners.”

“Yes.”

“And friends.”

“Of course.”

“And he’s been practically living at your apartment now for over a week and you’ve been screwing like bunnies.”

Scully sighed, closing her eyes and covering her face with her hand.

“Are you two going to… move in together? Get married? Not that that would make much of a difference, really. He’s already your work husband.”

Scully’s eyes flew open and she stared at Jennifer, before letting out a nervous laugh. "Jennifer, marriage and family isn't exactly part of Mulder's life plan. His life is the X-Files."

“Dana, are you having sex with him just for the sake of having sex? Sounds like you're just enabling Mulder's immaturity and under-achievement. Plus, isn’t this risky? What about your job?”

Scully sighed. Did she enable Mulder? Of course she did. She was sure their co-dependency required it. “I don’t know, Jennifer. I don’t know what’s going on. It just happened, and it keeps happening. And… I like it.”

Jennifer gave her a sympathetic look. “But are you happy? I don’t want you to be hurt. I know how you really feel about him, no matter how much you try to deny it.”

Scully averted her eyes, and stared at her hands. But after thinking about what she’d said, she had faith and knew without a doubt. Scully then looked her sister-in-law in the face.

“Mulder would never hurt me, Jennifer.”

Jennifer gave Scully a pointed look. “I know that, Dana. I wasn’t referring to Mulder. I was talking about you. You are prone to hurting yourself.”

Scully sighed. She knew Jennifer was right. Every man she’d been seriously involved with, she’d hurt. Every man who’d fallen in love with her, she’d run away from, even men she'd genuinely cared for, like Daniel. Knowing that you’d broken the heart of a good man was painful. Scully knew from experience. What if Mulder suddenly declared himself? Told her he was in love with her? Would that be something she’d want to hear? Or would it terrify her? Would she run away from him like the others? She didn’t want to hurt Mulder. And she knew she could never really leave him, no matter how bad or awkward things might get. A life without Mulder was inconceivable. What would it even look like?

Scully felt like she was fairly content with the way things were going, at least at the moment.

“Jennifer, this is all so brand new. It’s way too soon to start thinking about where it’s going or what’s going to happen months or years from now.”

She sighed. “Okay, Dana. You’re right. I’m glad you’re finally having some fun. And Mulder’s a good guy. I just hope you don’t bite off more than you can chew.”

“Jennifer?”

“Yeah?”

“For the love of God, can we please leave the pantry now?”

*****

By 8:00 am on Sunday, October 17th the Lone Gunmen and Mulder had once again returned to the table covered in journals and notebooks. They then moved on to the next trial conducted with 20 different European women, MUFON members, which began in December 1996. The trial was similar to the last. The women, either married or single and sexually active, agreed to have chips placed back into their necks and to try to get pregnant. To Byers’ relief, there were no diaries describing their sexual experiences with their husbands or whomever they were dating.

“I wonder why that is,” Mulder said.

“Because Diana decided to try in vitro with this group,” Langly replied, pointing to something written in the notebook he was reading.

Mulder’s head whipped up from a journal with Diana’s notes and stared at him. “IVF?”

“Yeah,” Langly replied, and then exchanged quick glances with Byers and Frohike.

Mulder swallowed. “What happened? Did the IVF work?”

Langly shook his head. “Diana was unable to harvest eggs from the women. The women were all given… hormones of some kind.”

“Estrogen and progesterone,” Mulder said.

Langly nodded, after looking down at the notebook. “Yeah. But Diana was unable to retrieve any eggs. Their ovaries didn’t release any. Seems as though the fertility triggered by the chip just didn’t work that way.”

“But that’s the normal way,” said Frohike. “That’s how it works naturally.”

Langly shrugged.

Mulder felt like the answer was there. But he couldn’t make the connections.

They then moved on to the third, and last, trial notes contained within Diana’s box. It was conducted in the spring of 1997 with a larger sample, 40 women (20 married and 20 single). In vitro was abandoned for natural conception by their sexual partners. They all were instructed to keep a personal diary detailing their attempts to get pregnant. All 20 married women became pregnant within a few weeks. None of the single women did. And then all the pregnant women miscarried like clockwork eight weeks later.

Mulder and the Gunmen were talking in circles, and not getting anywhere. None of it was making much sense. Eventually they took a break and ordered a couple pizzas. But after about an hour, they went right back to talking in circles.

“Okay, let’s forget about their chips and ovaries and fertility cycles for a second,” Mulder said. “Why would the married women become pregnant but not the single women?”

The Gunmen stared at him, nonplussed.

“Were they having the same amount of sex?” Mulder asked Byers.

Byers turned a bit red. “Um… I believe so, yes. But I think the married women did have a slight edge.”

Mulder put aside the notebook he’d been reading. “We need to read those personal diaries. The answer’s got to be in there. If conception came about the natural way, then we need to figure out why some of the women became pregnant but the others didn’t.”

After reading and re-reading the journals, Byers seemed to have a look of dawning realization come over his face, and then left the table to sit at the desk on the other side of the room and log onto the computer.

For the next hour, Frohike, Langly, and Mulder took each individual test subject and compared Diana’s calculated conception date to the corresponding personal journal entry. And then compared the journal entries between the married women and the single women.

Mulder sighed, rubbing his eyes. “Okay, once again, what conclusions have we reached about the similarities between all the women at the point of conception?”

“1) the women were having sex with their husbands,” began Langly.

Mulder nodded, writing it down.

“2) the women were extremely sexually aroused, and had more than one orgasm,” Frohike added.

Mulder nodded again. "Okay."

“And 3) the women felt completely exhausted, or depleted afterwards, like they could barely walk to the bathroom,” finished Langly.

Mulder sighed, staring at the notes he'd written. “It’s still not making sense to me. Many of the single women had sex just like that, and they didn’t get pregnant.”

At this point, Byers re-joined them. “The point is that the women who got pregnant were having sex with their husbands.”

Mulder and the other Gunmen stared at him. Byers then handed them the papers he’d printed off the computer.

“I think that neurochemicals released in the brain during sex attributed highly to the conception,” Byers began.

“Like oxytocin?” replied Mulder.

Byers nodded. “But that’s just one of many. There are a host of chemicals released in the brain during sex, and then others released specifically during orgasm. But when you add in love and bonding, a whole array of complex chemicals is added to the mix.”

Mulder could start to see the connections being made. But then he remembered something.

“What about that one single woman from the first trial who got pregnant? She wasn’t married.”

Byers gave him a knowing smile. “No, she wasn’t. Technically, she was a single woman. But she had a live-in boyfriend whom she’d been with for 11 years. So, we can’t say that marriage was a requirement for conception. What we can say is that all the women who became pregnant were in a high-trust relationship where she wasn’t worrying at all about what she looked like, sounded like, or smelled like. If you re-read the personal diary entries of the single women, their sexual experiences were somewhat clouded by their own insecurities, whether it was about the man they were with or about themselves. These feelings could suppress the healthy, positive neurochemicals that are released in the brain during sexual activity. Not to mention that the married women, and this one single woman, were having an intense sexual experience with a man they were deeply in love with. That’s a whole lot of chemicals for the chip to feed off of. These neurochemicals could be what triggered the chip to start ovulation. This would also explain why the IVF didn't work.”

They then all sat in silence, thinking.

“Did all these women die, too? From this last test?” Mulder asked.

Frohike nodded. “All the women from the three trials, even the IVF attempt that never panned out, had their chips taken out after the trial was over. We all know what happened after that.”

Mulder sighed. He once again felt sickened by Diana’s actions, and depressed by the fact that these women and their families would never see any justice. And Mulder felt sick that Scully had to rely on that chip to live. Mulder sighed again. He hadn’t seen her in 36 hours, and he wasn’t going to see her for almost another 12.

“So where do we go from here?” Langly asked.

“Who knows?” Mulder replied. “There isn’t really anything we can do about it. These tests just get added to the long list of immoral experiments they did, using innocent women as lab rats.”

The Gunmen sighed.

“You guys don’t mind if all this stuff stays under lock and key here with you?” Mulder asked. “I’m not sure if my apartment is the best place.”

Byers nodded. “That’s fine, Mulder.”

Mulder stood up and checked his watch; it was 9:07 pm. He thanked the Gunmen for their help, and headed out to his car. He was heading for home at first before he made a sharp turn and headed for Georgetown.

*****

Later on Sunday night, after returning home from her mother’s house, Scully stood in her bathroom, brushing her teeth, wearing a powder blue tank top and matching plaid pajama bottoms. She’d finished her rough draft for the Forensic Sciences Journal on Saturday night, and now she was feeling bored. She was starting to regret telling Mulder to stay away for the whole weekend. She thought about calling him and asking him to come over, but then quickly changed her mind. She could hear Mulder now: 'Is this a booty call, Scully?' She cringed.

Scully went out to sit in her dimly lit living room, bringing her cordless phone with her. She knew she could be expecting a call from Bill at any time about Tara going into labor. As she sat on her couch, she felt lonely. Wasn’t this what she’d been desperate to get out of? The lonely existence? But was this thing with Mulder only increasing their co-dependency? What if she got used to having him around, every day and all day, sleeping next to him every night and waking up next to him every morning, only for it to be taken away from her? She wouldn’t be able to bear it. Scully then started berating herself for the fears and doubts that constantly kept her caged.

There was a knock on the door.

She felt butterflies fill her stomach, and a smile spread across her face. But… she had distinctly told Mulder to keep away. He was blatantly disregarding what she’d told him. She’d wanted space, and some healthy distance. Scully didn’t know what to do. She wanted Mulder, but she also didn’t want to open the door. Scully then sighed, and rolled her eyes. He’d probably just use his key.

Another knock on the door.

As Scully opened the door, she saw Mulder standing there with a very sorrowful expression on his face. She wondered what had happened since she’d last seen him. Mulder saw her standing there in her tank top and shorts, her perfect breasts not inhibited by a bra. He knew he’d made the right decision. He didn’t want to go home to his empty apartment and think about all that horrible shit Diana had done. He wanted to feel Scully’s arms around him and her lips on his.

“Scully, I know you told me to go away, but I can’t wait until tomorrow morning to see you. I need to see you now.”

She sighed and shrugged her shoulders, defeated, giving him a half smile. Oh well.

In a flash, Mulder was across the threshold and, after closing the door behind him, his arms were around Scully, lifting her up. Scully’s arms went around his neck and her legs locked around his waist. He was holding her tight, and pressing his face into her neck.

“What do you want, Mulder?” Scully whispered.

“I wanna make out,” he said, before caressing her neck with his lips and tongue.

Scully snorted. “Make out? How very high school.”

Mulder chuckled. “Well, I didn’t know you in high school, Scully. I need to make up for lost time.”

“Hmm,” Scully murmured, smiling at him.

Mulder carried her over to the couch and laid her down, putting her head on top of the pillows at one end. He kicked off his shoes and lied down next to her. He brought his hand up to her face, brushing his fingers across her cheek and tracing her jawline. Scully’s hands went to his face and around his neck to the back of his head, running her fingers through his hair.

Scully smiled. Mulder silently gazed into her face until he found what he was looking for. And there it was, Scully was open to him. There was no wall, nothing blocking him out. And his lips were on hers, kissing her slowly, softly, passionately. Occasionally they’d break their kissing to breathe, and Mulder would gaze at her, stroking her cheek, her jawline, her chin. Words passed silently between them, there was no talking.

His lips returned to hers, brushing her bottom lip with his tongue, and she opened slightly to allow him entrance. Scully sighed into his mouth as his tongue gently caressed hers. Mulder had never kissed her like this before. It was slow, and he was in no hurry to move on to other things. Scully felt like she could lie like this all night long and be perfectly contented. Soon she lost track of time and space.

After a while, Mulder’s mouth left hers and he bent down to her ear, whispering “I want to make you come, Scully.”

“That never happened in high school,” was her reply.

Mulder chuckled, before sliding down the couch away from her. Scully lifted her legs up, bending her knees, and planted her feet on the couch. Mulder sat in front of her, on his knees. He reached down and pulled Scully’s plaid pajama shorts down her hips and off her legs. She wasn’t wearing anything underneath them.

“Scully…” Mulder breathed.

She looked down at him, her hand at her mouth, and giggled quietly.

Mulder hovered over her until his face was at her chest, and he lied on top of her, pushing her tank top up and over her breasts. His mouth was on her hardening nipple, licking, sucking, and flicking his tongue back and forth, before turning his attention to her other breast and sucking the taut, pink nipple into his mouth.

Scully sighed and started squirming. Mulder looked up and grinned at her. She smiled.

Mulder moved downwards, kissing and licking her abdomen and her soft belly, scooching himself back down the couch as Scully scooched herself upwards to settle her back against the pillows. When Scully spread her legs, Mulder looked up at her. He thought of the times he’d done this to Scully since that first night, this act he was about to do, and each time she kept her face turned away from him and her eyes closed. Now, her face wasn’t turned away from him anymore, but she still lied there with her eyes closed. Mulder wanted Scully to look at him while he did it, watch him with eyes open.

Mulder started to kiss her inner thigh, gently stroking with his darting tongue, down towards her hot, wet center. Scully whimpered when he bypassed it and went to her other thigh, kissing and licking down to her center. Her pretty folds were swollen and soaked with her juices, her clit was red and engorged and begging to be touched. Scully was squirming even more.

“Scully?” Mulder whispered

“Hmm?” she replied, still not opening her eyes.

“Look at me.”

Scully opened her eyes and looked down at Mulder. As she laid her eyes on his face between her legs, her mind filled with wanton lust, overpowering any lingering insecurity over this act that might’ve still remained.

Mulder could see her eyes darkened with her dilated pupils. “Keep your eyes open. Watch me.”

Scully started breathing harder, and she didn’t look away.

As Mulder stroked her wet slit with his tongue, pushing through her folds and up toward her swollen bundle of nerves, he watched Scully’s mouth fall open and her eyes widen as she arched her back. And she moaned. Mulder grinned. He reached down to his jeans, undoing the button and pulling down the zipper, before reaching inside his boxer briefs, and started stroking his throbbing erection.

Mulder then planted his left shoulder against the back of her leg and reached his arm around her, bringing his hand down towards his mouth to spread her folds. He then slowly pushed his tongue into her cunt. Scully’s eyes bulged and she gasped, “Oh, my God…”

Mulder’s mouth then went to Scully’s engorged clit, as her hands went to his hair, his tongue flicking her clit, his teeth grazing over it. Scully felt like her skin was burning as she watched Mulder’s mouth on her. And when Scully started pushing Mulder’s head down against her, as his tongue moved between her cunt and her clit in rapid succession, grinding her hips against him, Mulder started stroking his swollen cock harder and faster, until they were both coming, hips thrusting and moaning loudly.

While they lied there on the couch, their breathing gradually returning to normal, Scully’s phone rang.

“Don’t answer it,” he said, his head lying on her abdomen.

“I have to, Mulder. It might be family.”

The phone kept ringing, and Mulder reached out for the phone lying on the coffee table and hit the speaker phone button.

“Hello?” Scully said.

“Hello. Is this Dr. Scully? Special Agent Scully, with the FBI?”

Mulder and Scully locked eyes. “Yes. Who is this?”

“Uh, hi. This is Sergeant Ferrera with the Costa Mesa Police Department. We have a bit of a situation down here. We have ourselves a victim, one Donald Edward Pankow. Uh, the medical examiner’s office doesn’t know what to make of the body. We called the FBI office in L.A. and their pathologist can’t make heads or tails of it either. He said we should contact Quantico, and so when I called them a little while ago and explained the condition of the victim… well, they told me I should call you.”

Mulder and Scully exchanged puzzled looks.

“Um, what’s the condition of the victim, Sergeant?” Scully asked.

There was a pause. “Uh, well, he has an inch and a half hole in his head, and his brain is gone.”

Mulder and Scully stared at each other. “His… brain is gone?”

“Yes, ma’am. Missing right out of his skull. Would you and your partner like to take this case off our hands? No one down here in the department wants to touch it with a ten foot pole.”

Mulder started waggling his eyebrows at Scully. She grinned.

“Sure. We’ll be there tomorrow.”

Mulder smiled at her, and nodded enthusiastically.

Sergeant Ferrera gave a sigh of relief. “Thank you, ma’am. We appreciate it.”

Mulder reached over and pushed the end button on her cordless phone.

“We finally got a case. When was the last time we went to California, Scully?” Mulder asked, waggling his eyebrows again.

Scully stared at him. “Back in March.”

Mulder thought about that for a second. “Oh, right. Bellflower. Karin Berquist.”

Scully nodded, twitching her mouth slightly. “So… I suppose we’ll just meet at the airport first thing in the morning?”

He grinned at her. “Yes. But only after we sleep first.”

Scully smiled at him. Mulder then got up, and picked her up off the couch. She locked her arms and legs around him, and he carried her to the bedroom.

Chapter Text

At 8:00 am on Monday morning, October 18th, Mulder and Scully departed Dulles International Airport on a nonstop flight to Los Angeles, arriving at 10:40 am local time. During the flight, thoughts of finally having Scully in a motel bed filled Mulder’s mind, while Scully thought that working far from Washington would prove as a useful way to insert some much-needed distance between them.

Scully had been just on the verge of saying “I love you” far too much the previous night. It had been dancing on the tip of her tongue whenever Mulder gazed into her eyes. She had doubts as to whether this was something Mulder even wanted to hear. Where would such a declaration even lead to? She knew that he wasn’t exactly the “settling down” type. Scully could only envision awkward tension after making such a statement. When she woke up early that morning to find her arms and legs had entwined with Mulder’s at some point in the middle of the night, and wanting to say the words yet again as Mulder opened his eyes and looked at her, she suddenly felt like this thing between them should probably be reined in a bit.

After retrieving a rental car at LAX, Mulder and Scully met up with Sergeant Lucas Ferrera and his partner Sergeant Gustavo Morales, both of whom were in their mid-late 30’s, of the Costa Mesa Police Department at the office of medical examiner Dr. Joseph Abernathy, on Newport Boulevard in Costa Mesa. Following introductions, Dr. Abernathy brought them to the exam room that held the body of Donald Pankow.

“Now, I already performed the autopsy,” Dr. Abernathy began. “The only cause of death I could determine was the removal of the man’s brain. But how exactly that happened, I haven’t got a clue.”

Dr. Abernathy unwrapped the body of a young man in his early 20’s, as Scully put on a pair of latex exam gloves. She walked around the table and stared at the inch and a half wide circular wound in the man’s forehead. She then stood up and locked eyes with Mulder, arching an eyebrow.

Mulder walked over to stand next to Scully and looked at the wound, before turning on the police officers.

“Where was the body found?” Mulder asked.

“In the trunk of his car, which was found in a reservoir about 10 miles away. Someone called it in on Saturday afternoon.”

Mulder nodded, as Dr. Abernathy opened the cranium so Scully could look inside.

“There’s still brain matter in here,” she said to Mulder.

He turned back to look inside the skull. “Hmm.”

“What was the time of death?” Scully asked the medical examiner.

“I put it around midnight on Friday night,” Dr. Abernathy replied.

Mulder walked around the table, thinking. “Was there any evidence recovered from the car?”

Sergeant Morales approached him, holding up a small clear plastic evidence bag with a button inside it. “Only this.”

Mulder took it from the officer’s hand. “Free Fer Fridays?”

“Yeah, it’s from Lucky Boy, a fast food chain out here. The employees wear buttons like that,” Morales said.

Mulder nodded. “Only the employees? Or do they also hand them out to customers for promotion?”

“Nope, only the employees,” Morales replied.

Scully removed her gloves and tossed them into a trash can. “How many Lucky Boys are there in town?”

Mulder turned to look at her, and then back to the police officers.

Sergeant Ferrera pursed his lips. “There are 32 in the county.”

Scully gave him an incredulous look.

Mulder grimaced. “Canvassing, Scully. My fave,” he said to her in his bitter, sarcastic tone.

She sighed.

The officers chuckled. “Don’t worry, we’ll be helping you out with that,” Ferrera said.

*****

Mulder and Scully, along with Ferrera and Morales, were also joined by Officers Simon Franco and Jim Connelly to canvas the Lucky Boys in the county. They spent the early afternoon in Costa Mesa, checking out both Lucky Boy locations on Harbor Boulevard and also the Baker Street location. All the employees present had their “Free Fer Fridays” buttons. The managers also called in all their remaining employees, and these also showed up with their buttons.

At just past 2:00 pm, they arrived at the Lucky Boy on East 17th Street. They discovered that one of the employees, one Derwood Spinks, didn’t have his button. Mulder and Scully felt this was reason enough to clear out the place. The officers assisted them in getting the employees and customers out of the restaurant.

Once everyone was out of the building, Mulder and Scully started looking around.

“Hey, Scully, check it out. You know how they say you never want to see the kitchen of any of your favorite restaurants?”

“Somehow, I don't think Lucky Boy would make that list,” Scully retorted.

Mulder gave her a brief stare. “My point being that this is a hell of a lot cleaner than all the others. Don't you think?”

Scully looked around her. “I guess. So what are you saying, Mulder? This place has been scrubbed from top to bottom to cover up evidence?”

“Maybe. Maybe I'm thinking this was the crime scene.”

“You're saying Mr. Pankow had his brain very neatly removed from his skull right here in this kitchen?” Scully asked.

“It had to happen somewhere,” Mulder said, looking under the counters.

“But next to the shake machine, Mulder?” Scully replied, with a tone of disbelief. “I think that we should be checking out employee lockers and not entertaining the idea that ad hoc surgery was performed here.”

Mulder stood up straight and turned to look at her. “I wouldn't exactly call it surgery. What if this man's brain was eaten?”

Scully looked at him in shock.

“It… it's not sociologically unheard of. There are certain tribes in New Guinea that consider human brains a delicacy.”

“Yeah, but Mulder, we're in Orange County.”

Mulder gave her blank stare. “Yeah, what's your point?”

Scully gave him a look and fought hard not to roll her eyes at him.

“It's just that nothing about the way the body was dumped suggests a fetishistic killing,” Mulder explained. “The brain wasn't removed intact. What if this man's brain was eaten right out of his skull?”

“Through an inch-and-a-half opening that looks like it was cut with a hole saw?” Scully asked skeptically.

“Well, maybe it was cut. Maybe it was punched. What look like tool marks to you look to me like something more organic. Like it was made by a... a tongue or a… proboscis.”

Scully gave him an amused incredulous look. “The proboscis of what?”

Mulder started smiling and then he knelt down to look under another counter. “I don't know.”

When he looked underneath the counter, he saw a smear of red. “Oh. Hello. Look at this. Does that look like blood to you?”

Scully crouched down beside him and looked at the spot Mulder was holding his flashlight up to. “Yes, it looks like it.”

Mulder then saw a goopy-looking substance near the smear of red. “What is that? Next to it. Is that, uh... oh, my... ugh. Is that brain? Is that brain matter there?”

Scully stared at it. “No, I'd say that's ground beef.”

Mulder turned to look at her. “Ground beef.”

Scully pursed her lips. “Yeah,” she breathed, and then stood back up. “Let’s go ask the manager who was working on Friday night.”

Mulder followed her outside, and then Mr. Rice, the Lucky Boy manager, approached them. “Do we have the all clear?”

“Uh, no, you should probably send your employees home for the day,” Scully replied. “But, um, do you happen to know who was working here on Friday night?”

“Sure, I can get you the time card,” Mr. Rice replied, making for the Lucky Boy front door.

“Uh, Agent Mulder?” Sergeant Ferrera said as he approached them.

Mulder and Scully turned around.

“This Derwood Spinks… he’s got a record,” Ferrera said. “Did five years in Chino for attempted murder. He was released two years ago. We’re gonna take him down to the station for questioning.”

Mulder and Scully exchanged looks, and then nodded at Sergeant Ferrera before he walked away. They then followed Mr. Rice back inside the Lucky Boy and went to his office. Mr. Rice got on his computer and printed off Friday’s time sheet, handing it to Scully. She scanned the names with their punch in/out times.

“Mr. Rice?” Scully asked.

“Yeah?”

“All of your employees punched out by 11:00 pm, except for one,” Scully began. “A… Robert Roberts, who punched out at 12:04 am.”

Mulder turned to look at her, and she handed the time sheet to him.

Mr. Rice nodded. “Yeah, Rob. He was the one you talked to at the register when you first arrived. He stayed late on Friday night. Our freezer had died, and we had 35 pounds of ground chuck that was going bad. So Rob closed late to get rid of it and clean out the freezer.”

Scully nodded.

Mulder looked up from the time sheet. “Where would he have put the bad meat?”

“In the dumpster out back,” Mr. Rice replied, nodding his head in that direction.

“Would the meat still be there? Or would it have gone to the landfill?”

Mr. Rice shook his head. “Nope, the trash isn’t collected until Thursday. So it’s still there.”

“Could we take a look?” Mulder asked.

“Sure, I’ll get you the key,” Mr. Rice replied.

Scully turned to look at Mulder, and arched an eyebrow. She hoped that digging through a dumpster of rotting meat wasn’t going to end up on her agenda for the afternoon. Mulder smirked at her. But Scully’s concerns were unwarranted, as the dumpster ended up being devoid of the 35 pounds of bad meat.

“That’s weird, Scully," Mulder said after they had looked inside the dumpster behind the restaurant.

“Hmm.”

“What do you think happened to it?” Mulder asked.

She shrugged her shoulders. “I have no idea, Mulder. Maybe it got thrown into a different dumpster.”

He shot his eyebrows up at her. “Or maybe the monster ate it.”

Scully gave Mulder an unbelieving look. “Monster? So now it’s a monster we’re looking for? A monster… with a proboscis.”

He chuckled. Scully grinned at him, rolling her eyes and shaking her head.

Mulder turned to walk back inside the Lucky Boy to return the key to Mr. Rice. “I’m gonna go talk to that Rob Roberts kid. There was something strange about him.”

Scully sighed. “And what would you like me to do, Mulder?”

“You should probably go talk to Derwood Spinks. And then I want you to take a closer look at the victim, see if you find anything,” Mulder replied as he started walking away.

She stared after him. “But, Mulder, he was already autopsied!”

Mulder kept walking. “Not by you, he wasn’t.”

Scully sighed again, but then the confident tone to Mulder’s voice caused a smile start to spread across her face as she gazed at his departing back.

*****

At 6:50 pm, Mulder was standing outside the one-way mirror of one of the interview rooms of the Costa Mesa Police Department on Fair Drive. Sergeants Ferrera and Morales were standing with him.

“Are you sure you don’t want to talk to Spinks?” Ferrera asked Mulder.

“He’s our prime suspect as of right now,” added Morales, as they watched Scully get up from the table where she’d been interrogating Derwood Spinks. “I would think you’d have some questions for him.”

He shook his head. “Nah, Agent Scully’s handling it just fine.”

“Just don’t skip town, Mr. Spinks,” they watched Scully say to him.

Scully then left the interview room, and joined Mulder and the officers. “He was working at Lucky Boy on Friday night, and the time sheet says he punched out at 10:53 pm. He claims to have been at home watching TV at midnight, but he lives alone and so no one can confirm he was actually there.”

“Not exactly an airtight alibi,” replied Ferrera.

Scully shook her head. “But there’s no proof he did it either. There’s no evidence that he was anywhere near Pankow. We can’t hold him.”

“No evidence, yet,” Morales responded. “We’ll get him.”

Ferrera and Morales then entered the interview room to begin the release process for Spinks.

“It’s not him, Scully."

“Mulder, of course it’s him. We just have to prove it.”

A couple other officers and some administrative staff then appeared in the hallway, walking past Mulder and Scully. He gazed at her. She looked so beautiful today. He then wrapped his hand around Scully’s upper arm and gently pulled her up around a corner to a quieter area.

“You hungry?” he asked her, leaning down towards her and lowering his voice.

She smiled up at him. “Yeah, I’m starving.”

Mulder grinned down at her. “Let’s go get something to eat.”

After getting into their rental car, they drove to the Newport Rib Company on Harbor Boulevard for some barbecue. Once the hostess sat them at one of the tables and their waiter came over, they each ordered the pulled pork dinner with coleslaw and corn bread. Mulder and Scully took off their suit jackets and hung them on the back of their chairs. A minute later, the waiter returned with their drinks.

“It’s Rob Roberts, Scully,” Mulder said, after taking a sip of his Coke.

She gave Mulder a skeptical look. “Rob Roberts? That awkward, skinny kid who looks like he weighs 120 pounds?”

Mulder nodded. “He did it.”

She sighed and shook her head at him slightly. “And on what do you base that, exactly?”

“Just call it a hunch, Scully.”

She arched an eyebrow at him. “And on what is your hunch based, Mulder?”

He smiled at her. “His apartment was immaculately clean, for one.”

Scully stared. “So that makes him a suspect? Because he isn’t a slob like you?”

Mulder smirked. “What 21-year old guy who lives alone keeps his apartment spotless?”

She shrugged. “I’m sure there must be some out there… somewhere. Mulder, a clean apartment isn’t going to get you an arrest warrant.”

He chuckled, but then grew serious. “Roberts is hiding something, Scully. It’s him, I know it is.”

She sighed.

Soon their food arrived, and they ate their dinner for a while in comfortable silence.

“So, when are you gonna take another look at the body?” Mulder asked, breaking off a piece of corn bread.

“Pankow? I made arrangements with Dr. Abernathy to do an examination tomorrow afternoon,” Scully replied. “Oh, um, I think I’m going to drive down to San Diego while we’re out here. The twins should be arriving any day now, and I really should see Bill and Tara since I’m actually here.”

Mulder nodded. As he watched Scully finish eating her meal, his eyes passing over her mouth, her hands, and her breasts protruding from her form-fitting light blue shirt, his mind wandered to later that night when they’d be checking into a motel. He felt the member inside his pants twitch in anticipation.

Scully noticed the way Mulder was looking at her, with dilated pupils, licking his lips. She averted her eyes, fervently hoping she could keep her resolve, and tried to ignore him. She knew she wanted Mulder; wanted him badly, wanted his lips and hands on her, wanted his hard cock inside her, but she was adamant that this boundary she’d decided on was one that had to be firmly established and maintained.

*****

At just past 9:00 pm, Mulder and Scully were standing at the front desk of a Travelodge.

“Two rooms, adjoining,” Mulder said to the clerk. He nodded.

“No,” Scully quickly said. “Not adjoining.”

The front desk clerk stopped typing on his computer keyboard and stared at them.

Mulder looked at her, puzzled. “Scully, we always get adjoining rooms when they’re available.”

Scully gave him a pointed look and spoke firmly, “Not anymore, we don’t.”

Mulder felt an indescribable sinking feeling, and then turned to the clerk. “Two rooms. Uh, not adjoining.”

Not long after this, Mulder watched Scully disappear behind her motel room door that was across from his in the hallway, before entering his own room and closing the door. Mulder and Scully both took showers in their separate motel rooms, and got ready for bed.

After some deliberation, Mulder stuck his motel room key into the pocket of his navy blue pajama bottoms, walked over to Scully’s room, and knocked. Scully, who had been sitting on her motel bed channel surfing and trying to pretend like Mulder’s firm body wasn’t just across the hallway, turned to stare at the door.

Mulder knocked again. “Scully, it’s me.”

She continued to stare at the door for some seconds before moving off the bed, and walking over to it.

“What is it, Mulder?” she spoke through the door.

He stared at Scully’s door, and chuckled. “Are you going to let me in?”

She sighed. “Mulder, we both know what will happen if you come in here.”

He gave the door a puzzled look. “Exactly.”

Scully arched her eyebrows, and felt her resolve stiffen with his presumptuousness. “We’re on an assignment, Mulder.”

He balked at the door. “Are you seriously throwing that bureaucratic nonsense at me?”

“Mulder, we’re on Bureau time.”

“Scully, come on,” Mulder groaned through the door.

She found herself suppressing a desire to laugh, and had to bite her lip. The idea of driving Mulder crazy suddenly became very appealing.

Scully leaned closer to the door, and then spoke resolutely. “Mulder, maybe we should just concentrate on solving this case so we can get back to DC and fuck.”

Mulder stared at the door in shock. He then pursed his lips, and slapped his hand on the door. “I’m gonna get that Roberts kid, Scully!”

“Keep dreaming, Mulder. It’s not him.” Scully then put her hand over her mouth, shaking with silent laughter, after she heard Mulder give off some sort of growl sound and then walk away back to his room.

*****

On Tuesday, Mulder and Scully were going to spend most of the day apart, so Scully ended up getting her own rental car. Mulder was pursuing his investigation into Rob Roberts and Scully was holed up at Dr. Abernathy’s office all afternoon re-examining the victim’s body. She’d discovered an organic and sharp object lodged in Pankow’s skull, and had to use a saw to cut it out of the bone.

Later that night, after having dinner with Sergeants Ferrera and Morales at their favorite local Mexican place, Mulder once again came knocking on Scully’s motel room door.

“Go away, Mulder,” Scully said through the door, stifling a grin.

“Scully, I just want to discuss the case with you.”

She smirked. “We already discussed the case over dinner, Mulder.”

Mulder leaned his head against the door. “Scully…”

“You’re not coming in here, Mulder.” She then started giggling as Mulder grumbled to himself and walked away from her door. But she also started feeling a twinge of regret, remembering how good Mulder had looked in his blue pinstriped dress shirt earlier, and her resolve started to weaken. The thought of going over and knocking on Mulder’s door, surprising him, brought a smile to her face. But then she reasoned that she’d be setting a dangerous precedent, and was once again decidedly against it.

On Wednesday morning, Scully returned to the medical examiner’s office and then drove to the FBI lab in Los Angeles to try and decipher what the object was she’d found in Pankow’s skull.

Just after lunch, Mulder’s cell phone rang. “Mulder.”

“Mulder, it’s me.”

“What did you find, Scully?”

She sighed. “That sharp tip of something embedded deep into the bone of Pankow’s skull? Well…”

Mulder was intrigued. “Well… what is it?”

Scully paused. “I can only describe it as a small shark’s tooth.”

Mulder’s eyes went wide. “I told you it was a monster, Scully.”

She scoffed. “Mulder, come on. This isn’t conclusive evidence of anything.”

He shook his head in disbelief. “Scully, can you give me a plausible explanation for how a tiny shark’s tooth buried itself into Pankow’s skull?”

Scully didn’t have a reply to that, and only sighed.

Sergeant Ferrera then approached Mulder. “Hold on, Scully.” Mulder put his hand over the phone as Ferrera stopped in front of him.

“Spinks is missing,” Ferrera said. “We’re starting a search.”

Mulder nodded, and after Ferrera walked away, he returned to his phone. “Derwood Spinks is missing, Scully.”

“Would you like a plausible explanation for that, Mulder? Because I have one.”

Mulder tried not to grin into the phone. “Yeah, me too. Meet me at Rob Roberts’ apartment. It’s on Poplar Lane.”

Scully shook her head and sighed. “Mulder, shouldn’t we be looking into Spinks’ disappearance?”

“That’s what we’re doing, Scully. Just meet me over there.”

*****

Early on Wednesday evening, Scully drove an hour down the coast to San Diego to visit Bill and Tara. Scully had invited Mulder to come with her, but had only been greeted with a sarcastic stare. Scully then thought that going alone was indeed a much better idea. Tara’s belly was enormous and she needed help to get on and off the couch. “I don’t even bother walking upstairs to the bedroom these days,” she’d told Scully as they sat and talked for a couple hours. Matthew eventually climbed up on the couch and sat on Scully’s lap while she visited with Tara, and Scully couldn’t help wondering if she’d ever have her own little boy.

At just past 10:00 pm, Scully arrived back at the motel, showered, and got ready for bed. At 10:50 pm, there was once again a knock on her door. Scully stared at it and shook her head, smirking as she walked towards the door.

“Yes?” she asked through the door.

“Hey, Scully, I’ve, uh, got a proboscis for ya.”

She burst out laughing. “Nice try, Mulder.”

Mulder leaned against her door. “So how was dinner at your brother’s house?”

Scully sighed. “Fine. They’re very excited, and very nervous. Bill was a ball of anxiety.”

Mulder nodded. “Yeah,” he breathed, wondering what it would be like if Scully actually became pregnant. He was sure he’d be a nervous wreck, too.

Scully was suddenly overcome with a strong desire to open the door and make love to him.

“See you in the morning, Scully,” Mulder said through the door before walking back to his room.

Thursday in Costa Mesa proved to be an insane day. Mulder and Sully arrived at Rob Roberts’ apartment that morning to see it had been smashed up with a baseball bat belonging to Derwood Spinks, whom still hadn’t been found. A private investigator who’d been hired to spy on one of Roberts’ neighbors, Sylvia Jassy, had gone missing after last being seen parked outside Roberts’ apartment building. After they talked to Roberts, Mulder was convinced the kid was about to crack.

Half an hour after leaving Roberts’ apartment, the Costa Mesa Police Department got a phone call about the dead body of a woman found in a garbage truck. When Mulder and Scully arrived on the scene, Mulder identified the woman as Sylvia Jassy and they saw her forehead had the same circular wound that Pankow had. The Costa Mesa Police Department was then able to issue an arrest warrant for Rob Roberts.

Mulder and Scully then arrived at Rob Roberts’ apartment, along with Sergeants Ferrera and Morales, to find Rob Roberts in an aggressive stance against his mental health counselor, Dr. Mindy Rinehart. Scully couldn’t believe her eyes. This was not the awkward kid from Lucky Boy. Mulder had been right, Roberts was some kind of genetic mutant. Roberts ignored Mulder’s commands to back down and rushed at him to attack, effectively committing suicide.

More police officers arrived, roping off Roberts’ apartment, and interviewing everyone in the building while Mulder and Scully took Dr. Rinehart outside to question her about Roberts. An ambulance eventually arrived, taking Roberts to the morgue.

“You’ve got to do the autopsy, Scully.”

She shook her head. “They’ll never allow it.”

“Why not?”

She gave him a pointed look. “Because you’re the one who shot and killed him, Mulder. Conflict of interest. I already spoke to Sergeant Ferrera, and they’ve agreed to send the body to Quantico.”

Mulder sighed.

They spent the remainder of Thursday afternoon and evening holed up at the Costa Mesa Police Department filling out paperwork. They then took the 10:55 pm nonstop 4-hours-and-45-minutes flight out of LAX and landed at Dulles International Airport at 6:40 am on Friday. Scully got into her car and started on the 35 minute drive to her apartment in Georgetown, Mulder following behind her.

Chapter Text

At 7:38 am on Friday, October 22nd, Scully and Mulder walked through the door to her apartment after driving back from Dulles International Airport. Once they set their bags on the floor, Mulder reached his arms around Scully’s waist, pulling her backwards against him. His mouth went to her neck, softly kissing her.

“Scully,” he breathed. “I had every intention of ravishing you the minute we walked through the door…”

“Hmm. But?”

“But I’m exhausted,” Mulder sighed.

Scully chuckled. “I’m really tired, too. We've been awake for over 24 hours.”

Mulder smiled into her ear. “How about we just sleep?”

She wrapped her arms around Mulder’s, squeezing him against her abdomen, and closed her eyes. “That sounds perfect.”

Mulder then took Scully by the hand and led her to her bedroom, where they got undressed and slept for the next five hours. At 12:55 pm a cell phone started ringing.

“Hello?” Scully answered sleepily.

“Agent Scully?” Skinner responded. “Uh, is Agent Mulder there?”

Scully blinked herself awake and started tapping Mulder on the arm, but he only groaned.

“Um, why would Mulder be here, sir?”

At this Mulder’s eyes flew open and he stared at her.

“Because you answered his phone,” Skinner replied.

Scully rolled her eyes and placed her hand over her face, before closing her eyes and shaking her head, and then shoved the phone into Mulder’s hand.

“Yes, sir,” Mulder said into the phone, staring at Scully. “I’m here. Uh, we took the red eye flight from L.A. last night and, uh… we then collapsed on Agent Scully’s couch after getting back from the airport. Uh, the phone woke us up.”

Mulder shook his head, shrugging his shoulders. Scully smirked at him.

“That’s why I’m calling, about that case in California,” said Skinner. “I was informed that you shot and killed the suspect, a Mr. Robert Roberts.”

Mulder sighed. “Yes, sir, I did.”

“You’re going to have to meet with one of the licensed psychologists at the Behavioral Science Unit,” Skinner said.

Mulder groaned into the phone. Scully mouthed “What?” He shook his head at her, closing his eyes.

“I know, Mulder,” Skinner replied to Mulder’s groan of displeasure. “No one likes having to do this. But you know that it’s part of the job, and that it’s necessary. You killed someone. You have to speak with a counselor.”

Mulder sighed. “Okay.”

“I’ve arranged for you to meet with Dr. Susan Clifford this afternoon at Quantico,” Skinner said. “Can you be there at 3:00?”

Mulder looked at his watch; it would take almost an hour to drive to Quantico. “Yeah, I can be there.”

“Good,” Skinner replied. “Also, Roberts’ body will be arriving at Quantico sometime today, just to inform you. And tell Agent Scully that I’d also like to see her this afternoon, so she can give me an overview of what happened out there. I’ll expect a full report from the both of you by Wednesday.”

“Okay, sir,” said Mulder, before Skinner hung up and Mulder tossed the cell phone on the mattress. “I have to go see one of the psychologists at Quantico this afternoon.”

Scully nodded her comprehension. “Oh.”

“And Skinner wants you to come in and apprise him of what happened in California.”

“I better take a shower,” Scully sighed, getting out of bed.

Mulder stared as Scully started to walk around the bed and towards the bathroom, watched her breasts slightly moving underneath the white lace bra, and stared at the white panties covering her cunt. He hadn’t touched her since Sunday. It seemed like a lifetime ago.

“You want some company?” Mulder smirked at her.

Scully glanced over at him as she made her way to the bathroom door, and smiled. “Um… no. I don’t want to take too long. I should see Skinner as soon as possible. Plus, I’m still too tired to make any kind of real effort.”

Mulder chuckled. “Okay.”

After Scully closed the door, she leaned against it and sighed. She wanted sex. She wanted Mulder. And the idea of Mulder, not only naked, but naked and wet, caused sensations of desire begin to tingle at her center. The enforced distance of the past few days out in California had been frustrating. But the thought of taking this thing between them to broad daylight made her feel uneasy, and she wasn’t exactly sure why. It was easy in the dark. She didn’t feel so self-conscious. It was easier to let her guard down. Without the dark, there would be absolutely nothing to obscure what was happening. Scully felt like she’d be exposed, somehow.

After she finished her shower and stepped out, she put on her bathrobe and stood at the sink, brushing her teeth. Mulder walked into the bathroom, still only wearing his black boxer briefs, put the toilet seat up and emptied his bladder.

Scully stared at him. “Couldn’t you have waited until I left the bathroom?”

Mulder turned to look at her, surprised. “What? Does this bother you?”

She arched an eyebrow at him. “You know, Mulder, it’s okay if there’s still some mystery between us.”

He snorted, as he flushed the toilet. “I think I have more than enough mysteries in my life, Scully, without adding our partnership to the mix.”

As he walked out of the bathroom, Scully stared at the upright toilet seat. “At least put the seat back down,” she said, slamming it.

“Oh, yeah, sorry,” Mulder called out from the bedroom.

She rolled her eyes and then sighed, thinking of the enigma that is their partnership.

*****

After Mulder showered and changed at Scully’s, he grabbed his bag to head for his car, and opened her front door. “So I’ll see you tonight?”

Scully smiled, standing in the kitchen finishing her tea before she left for the office. “Yes, definitely.”

He smiled at the twinkle in her eyes. “Good. I’ll, uh, see you later.”

At that Mulder closed the door behind him, and then made the 45 minute drive to Quantico with thoughts of finally having Scully again later that night filling his mind. After arriving, he made the familiar way to the Behavioral Science Unit and into the office of Dr. Susan Clifford.

“Thanks for driving down here, Agent Mulder,” she said as she shook his hand.

Mulder nodded, and after sitting down in the beige chair in front of her desk, Dr. Clifford had him recount the events that led up to the shooting of Robert Roberts.

“It sounds to me like he committed suicide,” Dr. Clifford commented.

“Yep,” Mulder said.

“Why do you think he did that?” she asked.

Mulder sighed. “He said he was tired of being something he’s not.”

“Hmm,” Dr. Clifford responded. “I guess we all have a similar struggle at times; to conform ourselves to what society or our families and friends think we should be, even if it goes against our nature.”

“I suppose,” Mulder replied.

Dr. Clifford looked down at the file in front of her. “How’re things between you and your partner?”

Mulder stared at her. “Uh, they’re good.”

“You’ve been partnered with Agent Scully for over six years now, so I’m guessing you feel this is a much more successful relationship than your last one?”

He nodded, and looked at his hands. Mulder immediately thought about Diana. He didn’t think anything like this would’ve come up in the session.

Dr. Clifford eyed him. “It’s no secret that your last one had its problems.”

Mulder looked up at her in surprise. How would that even be known by the FBI? Unless Diana had made their personal business known to others, like Cancer Man, which was highly probable. Nope, don’t think about that.

“I believe you and Agent Lamana had butt heads a few times when you were partnered in Violent Crimes,” Dr. Clifford explained.

Mulder sighed. Of course. Jerry. Mulder then wondered why his mind immediately went to Diana when asked about his partnership with Scully instead of Jerry.

“We… had our ups and downs,” Mulder replied.

Dr. Clifford nodded. “I’m sure you and Agent Scully have had your share of ups and downs, too.”

He nodded, fervently hoping she wasn’t going to pry into what those ups and downs may have been.

“Was your partner in the room with you when Mr. Roberts was shot?”

“Yes, she was,” Mulder replied.

“Did you think she was in any danger?” Dr. Clifford asked.

Mulder thought about that. “I guess we’re both always in some kind of danger, just by putting ourselves in these situations.”

Dr. Clifford nodded, giving him a small smile. “But did you think she was in any immediate danger by being in that room with Roberts?”

“No.”

“And why not?” Dr. Clifford asked.

Mulder stared at her. “Because she knows how to defend herself; she was armed. Because she’s been in far more dangerous situations before. Because… because… she was with me.”

“Hmm. So you weren’t worried about her when Roberts attacked?”

Mulder shook his head. “No.”

“Then is it safe to say that you worry about Agent Scully when she’s not with you?” Dr. Clifford asked, eyeing him slightly.

Mulder swallowed. “Not so much now.”

“But you used to?”

He sighed. “There was a time… when our lives were constantly threatened by outside forces because of the nature of our work. It’s not so much the case these days.”

Dr. Clifford nodded, looking down at the file on her desk again. “It says here that Agent Scully was abducted twice; once in 1994, when she was missing for four weeks, and then again in 1998. And that you believe this was due to her involvement in the X-Files, correct?”

Mulder looked down at his entwined hands. “Yes.”

“Yet she continues to be involved. So can I assume that you don’t think this will happen to her again? Or is this just something you are both willing to risk?”

Mulder looked up at her, but didn’t know how quite to reply. “Uh… well, the men responsible for abducting her are all dead now, along with their work. Most of them, anyways." He didn't really want to talk about that. "What does this have to do with Roberts?”

Dr. Clifford gave him a smile. “I’m just trying to ascertain your thought process at the time of the shooting, and that includes any subconscious or conscious fears you have concerning your partner as she was present when you were attacked and had to defend yourself with lethal force. I’m trying to find out if her presence in the situation affected your actions in any way.”

Mulder nodded. “Maybe if Roberts had run at Scully, but he didn’t. He was coming at me.”

“Do you think he would’ve harmed Agent Scully?” Dr. Clifford asked.

Mulder shrugged. “I don’t know. Maybe if she’d found herself alone with him, and he was hungry enough to attack her.”

Dr. Clifford gave him a scrunched up, disgusted face.

“But he wouldn’t have harmed her, or tried to, while I was there. The thought didn’t really even cross my mind,” Mulder concluded.

“Okay,” Dr. Clifford replied. “So, how are things at home?”

Mulder knitted his brows. “At home?”

“Yes, in your life outside work,” Dr. Clifford nodded, looking back down at the file on her desk. “I believe the last time you had one of these sessions, several years ago now, you lived alone and you weren’t seeing anyone and you stated that you didn’t have much time for a social life. Are things still the same?”

Once again, Mulder didn’t quite know how to answer. He supposed he socialized with Scully a lot more often now, but did spending time with her outside work constitute as ‘seeing anyone’ since he would see her all the time regardless? It’s not like he could tell the FBI shrink about that, anyways.

“Yep, still the same,” Mulder replied.

Dr. Clifford nodded. “And how do you feel about that?”

“About what?”

“Being alone,” Dr. Clifford replied. “Are you content with your life staying the same? Do you want your life to change? Do you think about marriage and family? Not being alone?”

Mulder wasn’t sure what this had to do with shooting Roberts. He couldn’t imagine himself ever being married, but he quickly pushed away thoughts of being a father. “I, uh, I don’t know.”

“Have you recently experienced anything distressing in your personal life, or any significant change that is affecting your mental or emotional state?”

Mulder sighed. “No, nothing.”

Dr. Clifford nodded. “Okay. Well, I think that about does it. Thanks again for coming down here on short notice. Assistant Director Skinner was insistent that I squeeze you in today.”

Mulder stood up and shook hands with the doctor, then walked out of her office and headed towards the parking lot.

*****

During the drive back to D.C., Mulder was still trying to figure out why he’d thought about his previous relationship with Diana when Dr. Clifford had asked him about his partnership with Scully being more successful than his last. Mulder had never worked with Diana in any official capacity, she was never his work partner. His only partner before Scully had been Jerry Lamana. Scully was nothing like Diana, and his relationship with Scully is nothing like what his had been with Diana.

He and Diana rarely disagreed about anything and rarely argued. When they did fight, it was because he’d picked one, but that also was rare. Their relationship was all flowers and chocolates and jewelry; fancy restaurants and romantic weekend getaways; greeting cards filled with flowery sentimental mush; ‘baby’ and ‘babe’ and ‘honey’ and ‘sweetie’ and ‘sweetheart’; saying “I love you” 10 times a day. Mulder had no real desire to be tied down, and often felt suffocated or trapped, even though at the time he felt that he did really love Diana. He had thought that’s just what you do when you’re in love; he thought that’s what being in love was supposed to look like and feel like.

Mulder realized that he had no real inclination to do most of those things that make up your typical romantic relationship with Scully. Maybe they really were just partners, and friends of course, and the sex was just… well, he still didn’t know what that was, really. But he and Scully didn’t seem to fit as part of the average romantic coupling. He just knew that he liked what was happening and he wanted it to keep happening.

But then Mulder thought about Dr. Clifford asking him if he was happy being alone, if he wanted his life to change. He didn’t have a typical relationship, like the one he’d had with Diana. But he had Scully. She rarely agreed with him about anything, but she listened and understood him. They hadn’t argued lately, but it’d happened enough over the years for him to know occasional arguments would always be a factor of their partnership. Then Mulder thought of the things Scully had said about him at the banquet, and knew that she had done the same for him. She challenged him and pushed him, and he’d grown as a person in leaps and bounds since she’d partnered up with him.

Did he want his life to change? Mulder still had no real desire to be tied down, and the idea of getting married, being a husband, wearing a gold band just didn’t appeal to him at all. But on the other hand, he was bound to Scully, and he believed his bond with her was shackle free. He thought his life really had changed dramatically in just the past few weeks, and that his life was actually pretty good lately.

Was he really alone? He’d always had Scully, at least for the past six years, but only in a minimal capacity. Even with their all-consuming work and partnership, he’d still led a lonely life. And now that life wasn’t so lonely anymore. He no longer slept alone, well, other than when working on a case that took them far from D.C. Mulder was still grumbling to himself over that. But, typically, he got to work with Scully all day, and now he spent the night with her arms and legs wrapped around him, her soft lips caressing his, her tight, wet heat stroking him to ecstasy. But his friendship with Scully didn’t contain all that romantic fluff his previous relationships had with the few women he’d fancied himself in love with. He and Scully were still just as indefinable as ever.

Chapter Text

As Scully made her way back down to the basement from Skinner’s office, her cell phone started ringing. After unlocking the basement office door she glanced at the clock on the wall, it was 3:52 pm, and then answered her phone.

“Scully.”

“Hi Dana! How’re you?”

Scully smiled. “Hi, Jennifer. How’re you doing?”

“I’m good,” Jennifer replied. “Listen, I’m going to be driving down to Alexandria in a little while to start organizing the baby shower with Mom. She’s been driving me crazy to get it going.”

Scully laughed. “I bet.”

“Do you have plans tonight? I know it’s super short notice, but I’d really like for you to be there to help me. If not for the shower planning, then at least helping me keep some sort of restraint on Mom. I mean, it’s my third kid. And she wants to do this huge thing, and she’s not really listening to my pleas to keep it small and simple. You know how she is.”

“Yeah,” Scully said with a breathy laugh.

“So, can you come down to your mom’s house after work? Please? I need you! You’re the only sister I’ve got who isn’t in San Diego and about to go into labor at any minute.”

Scully chuckled. “Wait, what about Ryan? And your mom? Will they be coming to help out?”

“They all went down to the Outer Banks for the weekend.”

“Why didn’t you and Charlie and the boys go with them?”

Jennifer sighed. “We weren’t invited. They apparently assumed we wouldn’t want to go because of the pregnancy and how Charlie’s got basketball season starting up in a couple weeks. Whatever. You know how they are sometimes.”

“Hmm, yeah,” Scully replied. She knew Jennifer had a strange relationship with her family and ever since they were teenagers, when Jennifer had started dating Charlie when they were 15, Scully noticed they would do this type of thing to her. Jennifer’s parents had always played favorites and their favorite was decidedly, and obviously, her brother Jamie. From the moment she’d met Charlie, Jennifer had pretty much latched onto the Scully family and practically lived at their house throughout high school. After a while Scully had noticed that Charlie was only part of the reason, and staying away from her own home as much as possible was a big part of it.

“So can you come? Please?” Jennifer asked.

“Of course,” Scully said. “I’ll head down when I get out of work.”

“Thanks, sis! See you then.”

After hanging up the phone, Scully realized that driving down to her mother's house was definitely going to interfere with her plans for seeing Mulder later. She sighed. He wouldn’t be happy about it. She wasn’t all that happy about it herself, honestly. Scully then felt slightly amused over the fact that, in the past, she’d gone years without sex and now after going just five days without sex with Mulder, it was driving her crazy.

*****

As Mulder was walking through his apartment door, his cell phone rang. “Mulder.”

“Hi, Mulder, it’s me.”

He smiled, dropping his bag by the door and closing it behind him. “Hey, Scully. How was your meeting with Skinner?”

“It was all right. How was your meeting?”

Mulder hesitated. “Uh, it was, you know, typical for how those things usually go. But it was painless, really.”

“Okay, good,” Scully said, and then paused. “Um, listen, I have to go to my mom’s house after I get out of here and help Jennifer plan her baby shower.”

Mulder felt that indescribable sinking feeling. “How long will that take?”

“I have no idea. I would hope not too long, but you never know.”

He groaned in frustration. Sometimes he felt like he was going crazy with need. Over the past several days he’d thought about relieving himself, but his own hand paled in comparison with Scully. She’s what he wanted and he was willing to hold out for her, knowing it really wasn’t all that long before he’d have her again. But he also knew he couldn’t stand the wait for much longer. He needed to kiss her, he needed to feel her breasts in the palms of his hands, he needed her clit in his mouth, he needed her tight cunt to milk his hard cock.

Scully sighed into the phone. “I know, Mulder. I want to see you, too. Hopefully it won’t take too long.”

“Okay, Scully. Just call me when you’re on your way home.”

Mulder then spent his evening at home. He went for a run, and then stopped by a local deli to get a sandwich for his dinner before heading back home to shower. He then finally had to break down and do some laundry as he’d run out of clean clothes. Upon returning from the Laundromat, he was disappointed there was no message from Scully on his answering machine, and it was after 9:00. Mulder wished he had something to distract him from thinking about her.

At 10:40 pm, Mulder’s phone rang.

“Scully?” he said after grabbing the receiver.

She sighed. “Hi, Mulder. I’m sorry I wasn’t able to call you sooner.”

“That’s okay. Are you home now?” He felt himself getting excited, and stood up from the couch to look for his shoes.

“Um, no,” she replied, sounding a bit out of sorts. “I’m at Dulles. Tara just went into labor two hours ago, and I had to drive my mother here so she could get the next flight out. Unfortunately, there were no more available flights to California until 8:30 in the morning, but I was finally able to put my mom on a flight for JFK. She can then grab the next flight out of there which will have her in San Diego at 10:00 tomorrow morning. It was the best I could do.”

“Wow, sounds like you’ve had a long night,” Mulder said.

“Tell me about it. It’ll be close to 11:30 by the time I get home. Mulder, I know you had your heart set on coming over tonight, but I’m exhausted. Those five hours of sleep this morning are all I’ve had since Wednesday night. I’m just going to crash as soon as my head hits the pillow.”

Mulder sighed. “I understand, Scully.”

“But I’ll see you tomorrow, right?” she asked.

He smiled at this. “Yes. I’m coming over tomorrow and spending the whole weekend. You’re not kicking me out this time.”

Scully snorted. “I guess that’s fair.”

Mulder grinned into the phone, and lowered his voice. “Oh, and Scully? Just so you know we’re staying in bed the entire weekend. We’re not leaving your bedroom until I’ve made you come so many times you can’t see straight.”

Silence. And then he could hear Scully clear her throat into the phone. “Um... okay.”

Mulder chuckled. “Are you blushing, Scully?”

“My face is as red as a tomato, Mulder, thank you.”

He grinned. “I bet I can make something else as red as a tomato.”

“I’m hanging up now, Mulder.” And she did.

Mulder laughed. He knew that dirty talk was something Scully had yet to get used to. Mulder was determined she’d get used to it, and that someday, he’d even hear it from her. Of course, that was more than likely far off into the future. Oh well, he’d enjoy getting there.

At 4:00 am on Saturday, October 23rd, Mulder’s ringing phone woke him out of a sound sleep on his couch.

“Hello?” he answered groggily.

“Agent Mulder?” asked a man’s voice.

Mulder sat up. “Yes. Who’s calling?”

“Hi, this is Special Agent Guy Conley from the Chicago field office. Uh, we met out in Colorado over the summer. Sorry for calling so early.”

Mulder was still blinking himself awake. “Oh, yeah. Right. Uh, that’s okay. What can I do for you?”

“I believe your partner talked to my partner, Agent Block, on the phone not that long ago, asking us to inform you if anything remotely X-Files related came across our desk.”

Mulder was now fully awake. “Yes, I remember. What do you have for me?”

“Well, normally we wouldn’t know of anything that would interest you, since we work the Organized Crime section. But, uh, are you familiar with the Bureau’s investigation into Jimmy Cutrona?”

Mulder nodded. “Yeah, I’ve heard some things about it.”

“Last night we had two agents working the stakeout outside Cutrona’s building. They saw a man fall 30 floors to the ground, and into an open shaft. Then they saw that same man climb out of the shaft and run away. The guy should’ve been a smear on the sidewalk, but he wasn’t even hurt.”

“Wow,” said Mulder. His mind started racing through any possible explanation for how a 300-foot fall from the roof of a building wouldn’t kill someone.

“Yeah. We’re thinking that he didn’t just fall. Cutrona leases the top two floors of the building. We’re thinking this man was thrown off the roof. If we can get him to testify against Cutrona for attempted murder, well, that would help us out a whole lot. Would you and your partner mind coming out to Chicago and seeing if you can find this guy?”

“We’ll be there,” Mulder replied, before hanging up. He supposed his weekend holed up in Scully's apartment could wait.

*****

At just past 5:00 am, Mulder called a sleeping Scully from Dulles International Airport to tell her that he was about to board the 6:00 am flight to Chicago, that he’d gotten her a ticket on the 7:20 am flight, and that after she checked in with the FBI field office on W Roosevelt Road she was to meet him on the northeast corner of 7th Street and Hunter Avenue.

Upon landing at the Chicago airport at 8:24 am local time, she hailed a cab to the FBI field office and checked in, leaving her bag there with Mulder’s, and getting another taxi to meet Mulder. It was a beautiful day in Chicago, sunny and a pleasant 68 degrees. Scully had always liked Chicago, but she couldn’t help wishing that her and Mulder were back at her apartment instead. As she stepped out on the sidewalk and walked across a closed metal shaft, there was no sign of him anywhere. She pulled out her cell phone.

“Hello,” answered Mulder, hitting the up button on the platform he was standing on and headed up toward the sidewalk.

“Hey, Mulder, it's me. What now?”

Behind Scully, the sidewalk grate started to open and a platform began to rise out of it.

“Are you in Chicago?” Mulder asked.

“Yes, I'm in Chicago. I'm on the northeast corner of 7th and Hunter just like you asked. Only you're not here. So where are you?”

As the platform rose to the sidewalk and the shaft doors opened, he saw Scully on her phone, with her back to him, dressed all in black. It felt so good to see her.

“Oh, around.”

“Yeah?”

Mulder then hung up his phone and called out to her. “Hey, nice outfit.”

Scully turned to face him and put her phone away. She saw that he was standing there grinning at her, and she smirked. He thinks he’s so cute.

“Hey,” Scully said. “What's down there?”

“Before you check out down there check out up there,” Mulder said, pointing to the top of the tall building in front of them. “Top two floors are leased to one Jimmy Cutrona whose name you might be familiar with.”

“Organized crime,” Scully replied. “The Bureau's been trying to build a racketeering case against him for the past few years. Gambling, extortion, murder.”

“Which is why last night there were two agents parked across the street in surveillance. They witnessed a man being thrown from Cutrona's roof at 10:40 pm. This man fell for 30 floors, plus the distance down this shaft, because these doors just happened to be open, straight through, nothing but net.”

“Ouch,” Scully said.

“I'm guessing that's what he said. After, he got up, climbed out of here and scampered off into the night.”

Scully then joined Mulder on the platform and he pushed the button to lower them to the basement level.

“Mulder, you keep saying ‘this man.’ Who is this man?” Scully asked as she took out her flashlight and began to look around.

“No idea. He got away. The agents gave chase, but no clear description.”

“Was this basement thoroughly searched?” asked Scully.

“No. Technically, falling 300 feet and surviving isn't a crime.”

“And your theory is?”

“What if this man had some kind of special capability?” Mulder hypothesized. “Some kind of genetic predisposition towards rapid healing, or tissue regeneration?”

“So, basically, what if we were looking for Wile E. Coyote?” Scully asked. “You're saying that he is invulnerable, right?”

Mulder started to say "Yeah," but stopped himself, realizing how that sounded.

“You know in 1998, there was a British soldier who plummeted 4,500 feet when his parachute failed and he walked away with a broken rib.”

Mulder gave her a blank stare. “What's your point?”

“My point is that if there's a wind gust or a sudden updraft and, plus, if he landed in exactly the right way, I mean… I don't know. Maybe he just got lucky.”

“What if he got really, really lucky? That's your big scientific explanation, Scully?” Mulder asked with affectionate sarcasm, and then laughed as Scully flashed her light in his face.

“I mean, how many thousands of variables would have to convene in just the right mixture for that theory to hold water?” Mulder asked.

“I don't know,” Scully replied.

"Well, thousands," said Mulder.

Scully looked closely at a Grayson’s Linen Service laundry cart in the basement. The wheel castors have been broken and folded out as if a huge weight landed in the cart. “Mulder?”

“Yeah?”

“Look at this. If this cart were on the platform when he hit, that would explain the condition of these wheels. And what if this whole thing had just enough give to save his life?”

“We'd have to find him to ask,” Mulder replied.

“Yeah, we have to find him.”

As Mulder sifted through the towels in the cart a small round object flipped out onto the floor. After bending down to look at it, he picked it up to find it was a prosthetic eye.

“Looks like maybe we've found part of him already,” Mulder quipped.

An hour later, after Mulder called the Cook County Hospital’s prosthetic department to find out if anyone applied for a new prosthetic eye, they found themselves outside a low rent apartment building in Melrose Park. Mulder pressed the buzzer for apartment 313.

“I think you're taking a flier here, Mulder. There's got to be at least 600 people with prosthetic eyes in the greater Chicago area.”

“Yeah, but only this one Henry Weems made an appointment this morning to get a new one.”

Mulder pressed the buzzer again.

“Maybe he can't see his way to the door.”

Mulder turned a big surprised smile at Scully’s joke. When was the last time she told a joke? This was definitely not the Scully of several months ago. At that moment an elderly lady with a rolling shopping cart came out of the building, and Mulder caught the door before it closed behind her.

“Come on, Scully. I'm feeling lucky.”

They grinned at each other as they stepped inside and walked down the hallway toward the elevator.

*****

Later on, after Mulder unsuccessfully attempted to help a lady with her leaky faucet, ending up drenched as Scully fought hard to stop herself from laughing at him, and then falling through the floor to the empty apartment below, they found Henry Weems. He had no explanation for his survival of the fall from the roof other than landing in the laundry cart and they were unable to convince him to testify against Cutrona.

Mulder and Scully stood at the elevator, and she pushed the down button.

Scully turned to face Mulder and looked up at him. “So, here's the plan, as I see it: we inform the Chicago field office about Weems, leaving it to them to secure his testimony, you change your clothes…”

Mulder raised his eyebrows at her, and Scully smiled.

“We fly back to D.C. by sunset and all is right with the world,” Scully concluded, adding a bit of a purr to her voice. She just wanted them to get back to her apartment. The waiting was killing her.

“Come on, Scully, you're going to dump this case just as it's getting interesting.”

“’Interesting,’ Mulder, was when we were looking for Wile E. Coyote,” Scully said as she pushed the button again. “Come on, Mulder, this guy just got lucky. There's no X-File here.”

“Maybe his luck is the X-File,” Mulder replied.

Scully decided they have waited long enough for the elevator. “Stairs.”

Upon leaving the apartment building, Mulder realized he’d lost his car keys and so they ended up having to press Weems’ buzzer to be let back in. They heard a gunshot and had to break in through the building’s front door. Upon arriving at Weems’ apartment, he was nowhere to be seen but there was a dead man hanging from the ceiling fan. Mulder called the local police.

After a rather amusing re-telling by Mulder of what he supposed happened in Weems apartment that led to one of Cutrona’s enforcers hanging by his shoelace from the ceiling, Scully had a nice chat with one of Weems’ neighbors, a sickly boy named Richie.

“So I'm guessing you're a sports fan,” Scully said as he sat on his bed and looked around his room. “Which one's your favorite?

“Well, it used to be basketball,” Richie replied. “But now the Bulls suck, so I think maybe baseball.”

“I like baseball, too,” Scully said, affectionately remembering Mulder teaching her how to hit a baseball and that afternoon they spent at Yankee stadium. She then noticed another intricate contraption in the room. “Did Henry make this for you?”

Scully started the toy, and after a complicated series of events around the board, a small basketball was thrown into a hoop. She chuckled. “That's pretty neat.”

But Richie didn’t know where Weems might be, and soon Scully left to rejoin Mulder. Later on, after Weems bought a lottery ticket that led to a man getting hit by a truck, Mulder and Scully still were unable to track Weems down. Eventually they were able to find him, but another one of Cutrona’s enforcers ended up dead and both Mulder and Weems ended up in the hospital to get treated for wounds caused by a grazed bullet. However, Scully was still unable to convince him to enter into protective custody and testify against Cutrona, getting a little frustrated with Mulder in the process for relying on Weems’ supposed good luck to keep him safe from hardened criminals.

After Weems got hit by a truck, Mulder believed Scully’s comment about lucky streaks coming to an end and Weems agreed to testify against Cutrona. Richie ended up being rushed to the hospital, and they took Weems to his hospital room. But soon it became apparent that Richie’s mother, Maggie, was missing. Mulder and Scully went back to Melrose Park to look for her, but there was no sign of her anywhere. Weems was determined that Cutrona was the one who had taken her, and left the hospital.

Scully remained at the hospital with Richie while Mulder went in search of Richie’s mother. In an amazing string of events, Weems was able to find Maggie and Cutrona was killed, Mulder actually found them back at Grayson’s Linen Service, and Cutrona ended up being a perfect match for the liver transplant Richie gravely needed.

*****

After checking back in with the field office, relieving themselves of any further involvement with Weems or the Cutrona investigation, Mulder got on the phone with headquarters about getting a flight back to D.C. He sighed after hanging up, glancing at his watch; it was 10:24 pm.

“There are no more flights to D.C. tonight,” Mulder said, sighing again. "So I guess we'll be staying."

“Hmm,” Scully replied.

After Mulder told her the available flight times for the following day, Scully chose the 1:10 pm flight that would get back to D.C. at just after 4:00 in the afternoon. Mulder felt disappointed that she hadn’t chosen the first flight out the following morning. He’d wanted to get back to D.C. as soon as possible. He wanted Scully so badly it felt like his skin was crawling.

As they got into a taxi, Scully spoke to the driver. “Majestic Hotel on W Brompton Ave, please.”

Mulder turned to look at her. “That doesn’t sound like it’s within the FBI’s accommodations budget, Scully. Plus, I already checked us into a motel earlier.”

“Mulder, I’m tired of you choosing crappy motels for us to stay in. I want to choose, and the Majestic is one of my favorite places.”

He sighed. “We’re gonna get raked over the coals. They’re just going to deny the hotel charge and make us pay for it. Then they're gonna ask why we have two different hotel charges on our Bureau account.”

Scully suppressed a smirk. “Well, if that happens we’ll just have to deal with it.”

Mulder didn’t say anything, and just sighed. He didn’t want to argue.

When they arrived at the boutique hotel 20 minutes later, Mulder paid the cab driver and they walked inside. As they stood at the reception desk, Mulder started to pull out his wallet to take out their Bureau-issued credit card when Scully placed her gold card on the counter. He stared at it.

“How can I help you?” asked the front desk clerk, an average-height blonde in her mid to late 20’s.

“Do you have a king suite available?” she asked the front desk clerk.

Mulder turned his head sharply to look at her. He thought they’d be getting separate rooms. “Scully, aren’t we working an assignment?”

“No, Mulder, the case is closed as far we’re concerned,” she replied, eyeing him pointedly. “We’re no longer on Bureau time.”

He slowly put his wallet back into his pocket, dawning realization coming over him. He smiled down at her as she spoke with the front desk clerk. Scully received their room keys, and they headed for the elevator in silence. Once inside the empty compartment, Scully pressed the ‘4’ button to take them to the top floor.

They turned and gazed at one another. Scully licked her lips, and then dropping their bags to the floor, they lunged for one another. Mulder dropped his head to capture Scully’s mouth, and took her bottom lip between his teeth before releasing it to probe the inside of her mouth with his tongue. Scully had thrown her arms around Mulder’s neck, and now pressed her body even tighter to him and moaned as he pushed her back against the wall of the elevator. Hot desire was pooling at her center and the maddening throb of her clit was making her squirm against him. She could feel his erection start to prod her stomach as the elevator ‘dinged’ and the doors opened on the fourth floor.

Breathing heavily, they turned and walked down a hallway to their room. As Scully was trying to open the door, he was standing behind her, with his mouth at her neck and his erection prodding her insistently. Mulder thought that if he got any harder he’d be able to cut through cement. Scully managed to get the door open, and they slammed it shut behind them, locking it, and once again dropped their bags to the floor as Mulder flipped one of the light switches, turning on the light over the wall mirror behind them.

Mulder pushed Scully back against the wall and passionately devoured her mouth as their hands began frantically removing articles of clothing. Mulder’s brown suit jacket and blue shirt were thrown to the floor along with his white undershirt and Scully’s black jacket and shirt. Scully’s hand softly caressed the bandage wrapped around his left bicep from where the bullet had grazed him.

“Does it hurt?” Scully breathed.

“Not right now,” he groaned, before recapturing her mouth with his.

Mulder unzipped Scully’s black dress pants as they kicked off their shoes, sliding his hand inside her panties to her center.

“Fuck,” Mulder gasped against Scully’s mouth as he ran his fingers through her soaking wet folds, bringing her juices forward to circle her engorged clit.

Scully whimpered, and her hands flew to Mulder’s pants, unzipping them and shoving her hand down the front of his boxer briefs, closing her warm hand around his hard cock, squeezing tight and stroking him.

They stood there for some seconds, stroking each other and panting, before Mulder withdrew his hand, causing Scully to whimper again, and pulled her pants along with her underwear down to the floor and she stepped out of them. His hands then went behind her back to her bra, releasing it and tossing it to the floor. He palmed her breasts as his mouth returned to hers, kissing her passionately, his tongue searching for hers.

Mulder then picked her up, his hands going under her ass as her arms and legs locked around him, and he settled her back against the wall. He held her with one arm while his other hand pushed his suit pants down until gravity dropped them to the floor. He then pulled his swollen, throbbing cock out of his boxer briefs.

He dropped his head to take the hardened pink nub of one of her breasts into his mouth. The sensation of Mulder’s mouth on her breast hit Scully like an explosion, and she felt she was so close to coming already. Mulder greedily suckled her breasts, taking turns to ring her aureoles with his tongue and then pull her nipples deep into his mouth. With his mouth still at one breast, he looked up at Scully’s face and then bit down hard. He watched her mouth fall open and her eyes squeeze shut, and she bucked against him as he softly laved where he had bitten.

“Mulder,” she whimpered. She could feel her wetness dripping from her, drenching her groin and inner thighs, as the aching throb of her clit drove her mad. She continued to rock against him, frantic for some relief.

He grinned at her, and holding his erection steady at the perfect angle, he loosened his grip on her slightly. Scully shifted her hips to try out her balance against the wall, and her calves curled tighter around Mulder, pressing him against her and causing him to groan.

Scully arched her back and lowered herself slightly until she felt the engorged head of his erection press against her soaking wet folds and prod her entrance. “Fuck me, Mulder,” Scully panted.

In one swift motion, Mulder’s hand left the base of his erection, and both hands went to firmly grasp her hips as he thrust upward, impaling Scully’s dripping wet cunt on his hard cock and causing them both to cry out. Mulder thrust frantically, slamming her hips against him as Scully let out continual whimpers and moans.

Then Mulder watched with wide eyes as Scully brought her right arm down between them, settling her hand against her center and placing her fingers on each side of his cock as he slid in and out of her, slightly squeezing him. A low, guttural moan escaped Mulder’s throat. His grip on her loosened and she slid down the wall a little, changing their angle. Scully’s eyes went wide and she started clenching around him, throwing both elbows around his neck to lock herself tighter, slamming her hips against him and moaning loudly. Mulder loved to make Scully come with his mouth, but feeling her come on his cock always filled him with a deep sense of self-satisfaction.

Mulder wanted to keep Scully coming, and he moved them away from the wall, pulling out of her. Mulder stepped out of his suit pants that had pooled at his ankles, and started carrying her. He was aiming for the bedroom but they got as far as the darkened living room before Mulder’s knees somewhat buckled and he lowered Scully to the floor. She giggled as she pulled him down to the floor with her and then forced him onto his back, pulling his boxer briefs off his legs and straddling him.

Scully closed her eyes and started to slide her wet slit back and forth against Mulder’s engorged cock. He gazed at her intensely, his hands gently placed on her hips, as she rocked herself against him, rubbing her cunt over the length of him in slow, hot strokes. He started panting has he felt the hard nub of her clit grind up and down his cock. Mulder thought he was going to lose his mind.

As Scully reached down to guide his cock inside her, Mulder grabbed her waist and pulled her forward, sliding her up his abdomen and toward his chest. He caught her confused expression and then a look of realization as he continued to pull her forward and lift her slightly to his face.

“Mulder, wait, I haven’t showered since early this morning,” she said quickly, breathing heavily. Scully had felt a momentary sensation of panic and embarrassment.

He made no reply as his hands brought her down toward his mouth. Mulder was desperate to taste her, lapping at her juices, pulling her hips down against him.

“Oohh, fuuuck,” Scully moaned, as her hands reached out to grab the arm of the sofa to keep her balance. The panic was gone, as was all rational thought.

Scully’s moan went straight to Mulder’s swollen cock, and it throbbed painfully with need. He could never get enough of Scully’s taste, and the slick feel of her against his mouth. Mulder circled her entrance with his tongue and then plunged as deep inside her cunt as he could go. His hands left her hips and went to her breasts, squeezing them and rolling her taut nipples between his fingers. Mulder started moaning as he fucked her with his tongue, his sounds flooding Scully’s brain with pleasure, and she was coming again, pressing her hips hard against his face and gasping.

Mulder felt like he was about to explode, and without giving Scully any time to come down from her high or for her nerves to recover, he pushed her back down to his pelvis and slammed into her. Scully cried out, her hands falling to his chest in an effort to hold herself up as her body shook above him. Mulder planted his feet on the floor, and grabbing onto her hips tightly, he thrust into her cunt hard and fast.

“I want you to come again, Scully,” Mulder panted.

“I don’t think I can, Mulder.” Scully felt like her nerve endings were in overload with waves of mingled pain and pleasure. She didn’t know how much more she could take.

As Mulder felt waves of pleasure streak from his balls across his groin and out towards his stomach and thighs, explicit language poured out from his mouth and he reached his right hand between their joined center, finding Scully’s clit, and pinched hard.

“Jesus Christ!” Scully cried out, grinding her hips harder against him and knitting her brows as another orgasm overtook her. The clenching muscles of her tight cunt caused Mulder to finally explode, his loud moans filling her ears and his hot seed filling her womb.

She collapsed on top of his chest, utterly depleted. She had no idea how she was going to get up off the floor. They lay there breathing heavy, not moving a muscle. After a while, he sat up, holding her in his lap. He smiled at her, his eyes searching her face. He began to kiss her cheeks, her eyelids, her forehead, her nose, before caressing her lips in slow, soft, passionate kisses. She wrapped her arms tighter around his neck and he held her close.

“Scully?” Mulder whispered.

“Hmm?”

He smiled. “I think the Majestic is one of my favorite places, too.”

Chapter Text

April 17, 1999

Scully is lying on his couch, facing the back of it. She’s wearing one of his old Knicks t-shirts and a pair of his basketball shorts that end past her knees and are so large around her she had to fold and tuck the waist to keep them from falling off her, and she’s partially covered with a blanket. She isn’t sleeping, but she’s quiet. Three hours ago he’d found her on his apartment floor, unconscious and covered in blood; her blood.

The police had been called, Padgett’s body removed from the basement, and after asking Scully 500 questions, Mulder could see her eyes start to glaze over and he ushered the police out of his apartment. Mulder had told Scully that he wanted her to stay at his place that night. Any idea of letting her out of his sight was out of the question and she seemed too exhausted to go all the way home.

To Mulder’s surprise, she didn’t protest. She merely brought her legs up onto the couch and lay down, turning her back to him without a word. She actually hadn’t spoken a word to him since he’d found her, and held her as she sobbed. He’d listened as she told the police what happened, how Naciamento was tearing through her chest with his bare hand, how she’d pulled out her gun and shot him several times, but without effect, and then she passed out to awaken to Mulder’s face. The police removed several bullets from Mulder’s wall and ceiling, and they also took her clothes as evidence.

Mulder desperately wanted to know what she was thinking about. Something was going on inside her head, something she wasn’t sharing with him. This seemed to be part of something bigger that was also going on between them: a chasm of silence that had grown larger and larger ever since they’d returned from Antarctica. Then Mulder momentarily betrayed himself and his cause, betrayed Scully, by siding with the Smoking Man and agreeing to go with Diana to that air force base. The look on Scully’s face when he’d confessed this, he’ll never forget it as long as he lives. Their bond seemed to be weakening somehow and the larger the chasm of silence grew, the more distant they became and the more they argued. Mulder didn’t know how to fix it.

As Mulder stared at her back in silence, his guts still churned in terror. The sight of Scully on his floor had paralyzed him. He then thought of Padgett. If he hadn’t torn his own heart out, if Scully had actually died, Mulder would’ve ripped it out for him. His thoughts then turned to bursting in on Scully sitting on Padgett’s bed in the dark. That sight had also paralyzed him, but in a completely different way.

He’d felt hot anger surge from the pit of his stomach and momentarily had the desire to grab Scully forcibly from the apartment, to scream at her. At the time, his anger appeared to stem from the fact that Padgett was the murderous psychopath they’d been looking for. But now Mulder was starting to realize that his anger had stemmed from the fact that he’d felt betrayed somehow, but he didn’t really understand that feeling.

Why did this happen again? Mulder had felt like this was Jerse all over, even though Scully really hadn’t invited Padgett into her life. Scully certainly hadn’t spent the night with Padgett. But when Mulder had asked her if what Padgett had wrote about her was true, Scully averted her eyes and wouldn't look him in the face. Mulder stared at Scully’s back, as she lay on the couch, and he now noticed that she’d drifted off to sleep. Finally.

And now Mulder’s thoughts turned to Padgett’s book, particularly the chapter that carried on with him and Scully in his bedroom had Mulder never interrupted them. Mulder’s photographic memory recalled the words on the page, as the images of the scene Padgett described swam in front of his eyes.

“She felt wild, feral, guilty as a criminal. What would her partner think of her?”

Mulder knew what he thought. He felt embarrassed for Scully, and he loathed Padgett for taking something so intimate about her, something Mulder himself could never even hope to know, and turning it into pornographic trash. But at the same time, Mulder couldn’t help inserting himself into the scene, replacing Padgett, and suddenly it didn’t seem so trashy. Mulder envisioned himself lying on that bed with Scully, her flaming hair spread out on the pillow, her soft lips against his, his hands unclasping her black bra before taking a hardened pink nipple into his mouth. But then Mulder assiduously suppressed those thoughts, burying them somewhere deep along with all the other similar thoughts he’d kept buried for the last few years.

He then supposed that Padgett had loved Scully, at least in some way, and was willing to trade his own life for hers. Of course, a lot of innocent young lives had been heinously cut short just so he could get closer to Scully. The guy was a raving lunatic who manipulated Scully into taking his side, believing him to be innocent.

And then Mulder felt a twinge of guilt, for he knew that in some ways he also manipulates Scully. He smiles, touches, flirts; he appeals to her intelligence and her pride and her sense of duty to the X-Files. And he does it all to keep her with him. He was even forced to make a declaration in his hallway and came so close to kissing her, all so that she would stay with him. If Scully hadn’t been walking out his door, seemingly for good, Mulder knew he never would’ve had the courage to admit those things to her, and especially to kiss her. Without the X-Files, there’s no reason for Scully to be with him. Without the X-Files, she’d just move on with her life. And so Mulder poured his heart, mind, and soul into the X-Files, making it his priority in hopes that Scully’s loyalty and sense of obligation would move her to make them her priority too. So that she would always stay with him, and never leave.

For Mulder knew he was a selfish bastard, his needs always going before Scully’s. Her wishes were secondary. She’d apparently wanted to get on with her life, but he couldn’t let her go. He was willing to say anything, do anything, including opening up his heart and telling her how important she is to him, just to keep her from walking away. For if she wasn’t walking away from him, he knew he’d never admit those things. He’d never open up and tell her how he really feels about her, even if that was something she needed to hear, that which Mulder highly doubted. What would Scully ever see in me, anyways?

For that is his strongest fear, even more terrifying than losing her by force: that she will leave him by choice; that she will finally realize he isn’t worth her time, her talents, her life. Padgett had this same fear, and he felt the solution was to kill her. And Mulder then realized that Padgett’s murderous attack on Scully and his own melodramatic death had only happened once Padgett came to the conclusion that she could never be his. Scully would never love him. And so he’d rather kill her than lose her.

Padgett had stared intently into Mulder’s face to tell him that Scully was already in love with someone else. Mulder knew what he’d meant, knew that Padgett believed Scully to be in love with him. But how in the world Padgett came to believe that was beyond Mulder’s comprehension. He didn’t see how anything in the way he and Scully interacted would’ve caused Padgett to reach such a conclusion. Afterwards, Scully neither confirmed nor denied Padgett’s statement. She simply walked away in silence. This bothered Mulder even more, this silence between them. He hated it, and yet he knew he’d never find the courage to break it.

Mulder then watched Scully jerk awake, moving to lie on her back, eyes wide with confusion as they took in her surroundings. Mulder quickly stood up from his chair and she gasped, turning a frightened stare in his direction.

“Scully, it’s just me,” Mulder whispered reassuringly.

“Mulder?” she breathed. It was the first thing she’d said to him in hours.

And then Scully held out her hand to him.

Mulder sighed, as something deep in his chest clutched at him and ached. He felt tears stinging his eyes and a lump growing in his throat. What if she had died? How could he ever live without her? Scully gazed at him, her eyes also glistening with unshed tears. Mulder walked over to the couch and took her hand. Then she turned to face the back of the couch as she scooched over to press herself flush against it, taking Mulder’s hand with her. Mulder lay down on the couch behind her, bending his legs against hers, his arms wrapping around her, his mouth settling at her ear.

She didn’t speak; she kept her thoughts to herself. Suddenly a memory sprung to his mind, one of Scully sitting across from him at his desk: “Not everything is about you, Mulder. This is my life.” She’d spoken the truth, then, as much as he hated to hear it. But was it still the truth now? Was Scully silent because of her, or because of him? Had she been sitting on Padgett’s bed because of whatever was going on in her own life, or was it because of him? Mulder wondered if he’d ever know what was going on inside her mind. Had everything Padgett wrote about her been fabricated, fictionalized? Mulder was starting to doubt. There was a whole world inside Scully, a world of emotions, thoughts, hopes, dreams, a secret life that she kept locked up tight and hidden from him.

Somehow Padgett had seemed to understand her, understand her on such a deep level that Mulder had never wrapped his brain around, and this sickened him. But was it because Mulder couldn’t, or because he chose not to? If Scully was locked up tight, so was he. He knew he forcibly kept himself distant, but always refused to confront his reasons why. And so why was it that he only readily admitted how much she meant to him when something or someone tried to take her away from him? These were the tormenting thoughts raging inside Mulder’s mind as Scully drifted back to sleep in his arms.

*****

On Sunday, October 24th, Scully woke up to the morning light peeking out from behind the closed curtains of the bedroom of a king suite at the Majestic Hotel in Chicago. Mulder was behind her, with his back to the windows and his arm holding her tight to him, still asleep. The digital clock on the bedside table told her the time was 8:53 am.

Scully turned herself to lay on her other side, facing Mulder. He mumbled and pulled her closer to him. She smiled, and started to caress his face with her hands, before moving down to his neck, collar bone, and shoulder. Mulder started to stir, a slight grin breaking out over his face.

“Good morning,” Scully whispered.

“Mmm,” was Mulder’s reply, keeping his eyes closed.

Scully was now wide awake, and she wanted Mulder to wake up. They had to check out soon, so that they could head over to whatever motel Mulder had checked them into the day before and check out of that one by 11:00, and then they needed to be at the airport around noon to catch their flight home. An idea sprung to her mind, and she smirked, biting her bottom lip. Scully began to kiss Mulder’s face, starting with his jawline and moving down to his chin, before heading south and trailing kisses down his neck. More ‘mmm’s were issuing from Mulder, and Scully grinned.

Scully trailed more kisses down Mulder’s body and as her tongue dragged across his left nipple while her fingers ran through his patch of soft chest hair, Mulder’s eyes flew open, blinking himself awake.

“What’re you doing, Scully?” Mulder asked, still somewhat groggy.

“Waking you up,” she replied, pushing him over so that he was lying on his back.

Mulder chuckled. “I’m awake, I’m awake.”

But Scully kept moving south, trailing her lips and her tongue down Mulder’s torso, as her head disappeared beneath the sheet. Her mouth reached his firm stomach and Mulder groaned, feeling his groin tighten and a growing erection begin to tent the covers in front of him.

Scully kissed down the trail of hair leading from Mulder’s belly button, and felt his legs go rigid as his hips involuntarily gave a slight thrust off the mattress. She smiled against his skin.

She moved her petite body further down and away until she was lying between his legs, with Mulder giving another buck of his hips when her body slid over his now fully engorged cock. She then took her right hand, encircling his cock and started to stroke him slowly up and down. Mulder groaned.

Scully tilted his hard shaft forward, still stroking him with her warm hand, and brought her lips to his balls, gently sucking them into her mouth.

“Aahh, fuck,” Mulder gasped, squeezing his eyes shut.

She continued to lick and suck his balls, teasing the sensitive area between them with her tongue, as her hand stroked his shaft up and down, twisting around the engorged head. Scully loved the way Mulder’s breathing quickened, how he groaned her name.

Scully then moved her mouth up to lick and suck the engorged head of Mulder’s cock, and his hips bucked toward her. She then took him wholly in her mouth, squeezing the base of his shaft with one hand and gently squeezing his balls with the other.

“Scully! Fuck!” Mulder started panting.

She flattened her tongue and swirled it around his sensitive head before covering her lips over his cock and sucking him in slowly, inch by inch, increasing her suction and squeezing him tighter.

Mulder started moaning. “Aahh… that’s gonna make me come, Scully.”

As she murmured an “Mmm-hmm” around his swollen cock, Mulder’s eyes rolled to the back of his head and his hips bucked against her. But he suddenly wanted something else, something better, and he also didn’t want to be the only one getting off. Mulder then sat up, throwing the covers, taking Scully by surprise.

“What’s wrong?” she asked. The room was now much brighter as the morning light continued to make its way through the cracks between and outside the curtains. She suddenly felt exposed in the light.

“I want your cunt,” Mulder groaned, grabbing Scully and pulling her up towards him, before flipping her over onto her back. She moaned, causing his erection to throb achingly with need.

Mulder positioned himself over her as she spread her legs, his erection gliding through her swollen, soaking wet folds and prodding her entrance. “Oh, Scully,” he whispered, gazing at her with heavy lids, his brain going fuzzy with the knowledge of Scully becoming so aroused by sucking his cock.

She whimpered and started squirming. Her clit throbbed and her hot, wet center felt like it was on fire. Mulder then settled his hips between her legs, lowering his abdomen against her. He held himself up by his elbows, as his hands went to her face, his fingers caressing her cheeks, her jawline, and he gazed into her eyes.

Scully once again felt like Mulder was searching her face for something. The room was becoming brighter, and she was failing to hide behind a wall she was so desperately trying to put up. Her heart swelled as Mulder gazed at her adoringly. Mulder lowered his forehead, placing it against hers, as her arms went around his back, and her legs lifted up around his hips and her ankles locked.

Mulder groaned as he slid his throbbing cock into her dripping wet cunt. Scully moaned and gripped him tighter with her arms and legs. He pulled almost all the way back out, leaving only the engorged head inside her, before slowly entering her again. Mulder started thrusting in a slow but steady rhythmic pace, and soon started moaning.

“Harder,” Scully whimpered. Mulder’s brain went to mush. Scully had never instructed him before, told him outright what she exactly wanted or how she wanted it. He knew he wasn’t going to last long now, and he needed to make Scully come. Hearing Scully be more assertive, all Mulder could do was oblige. He lifted himself up, bringing his hands down to her legs, and threw them over his shoulders, hovering over her.

“Oh, my God…”, Scully’s eyes bulged. Mulder buried himself to the hilt and was so deep the head of his cock was lightly brushing against her cervix. He felt as good as he looked, his thick shaft filling her in a way she’d only previously imagined.

Mulder then slammed into her harder and faster, rubbing her clit with his hand. Scully’s sounds then became a mixture of loud cries and guttural moans as Mulder stroked her in an unrelenting rhythm of ecstasy with every point of contact he made with his hard cock and his hand. Tiny sparks of orgasmic pleasure were firing through her brain with every inch he gave her and every flick of his fingers. It didn’t take long before she threw her head back into the mattress and screamed as her orgasm reached its overwhelming climax. As Mulder felt Scully pulsating and clenching around him, wildly explicit language littered with her name and worship of her cunt poured out from his mouth, and he felt his cock desperately twitch and throb inside her. He gave one final deep thrust, burying himself to the hilt, and moaned loudly as his hot seed spilled onto her cervix in copious spurts.

As she came down from her high, Scully was trying to place some sort of barrier between them, afraid that in the now much brighter light of the hotel bedroom Mulder would know. He’d know her true feelings, that there’d be no way to hide the fact that she’s in love with him. He’d see it in her eyes, in her face. Scully was desperately trying to disengage her heart and put another wall up, but as Mulder gazed down at her, those efforts failed her, and she helplessly gazed up at him affectionately. But in another moment she steeled herself and averted her eyes, turning her head away from him and sighing as the pleasure coursing through her brain slowly subsided.

No words could possibly describe the emotions overpowering Mulder as he looked down at her. The want he felt for Scully was nothing like he’d ever experienced with anyone else, and filled him with a contentment he’d never known before. At that moment, he made an internal vow that he would never sacrifice their bond for anything. And as he looked into her eyes, he realized she would never leave him, whether they had the X-Files or not. It didn’t matter where they went or what they did, Mulder swore internally to obey whatever demands his friendship with Scully required. His wants and needs were now secondary to hers.

Chapter Text

On Friday morning, November 12th, Mulder left a sleeping Scully at 5:00 am while it was still dark and drove home to his apartment to get ready for work. After showering and getting dressed, he turned on the television and sat on his couch to watch the local news. The first few reports were of murders in the D.C. area, most likely drug or gang-related. Mulder’s mind started to drift, thinking of other things. Then as Mulder listened to a report on a sheriff’s deputy in Pittsfield, Virginia being beaten to death the night before and the suspect, a sixteen year old boy, claiming the deputy had an invisible attacker, his interest peaked.

Mulder and Scully hadn’t had a decent case since they got back from California, and this seemed intriguing. Mulder put on his trench coat and walked out to his car to take the 90 minute drive southwest to Pittsfield. On his way, he gave Scully a call on his cell phone to let her know that he was checking out a possible case, and if it turned out to be worth their while, he’d have her join him.

After arriving at the sheriff’s station in Pittsfield at 7:30 am and reading the police report on the incident, he went to the local hospital to check out the body of the murdered deputy. Mulder couldn’t believe his eyes. He got on the phone.

“Scully.”

“Scully, it’s me. You gotta get down here.”

“Okay, Mulder. And you’re in Pittsfield, Virginia, you said?”

“Yeah, Pittsfield. Are you in the office?”

“Yep.”

“Okay. I’m gonna fax you the police report, Scully. Meet me at St. Jude’s Memorial Hospital, at the morgue.”

“I’ll be there.”

Two hours later, Scully still hadn’t arrived at the hospital. Mulder glanced at his watch; it was almost 10:15 am. He pulled out his cell phone to give her another call, but then felt something bump against his back. He turned to see Scully, in her black pantsuit and a white button down blouse, giving her a breathy laugh and a big smile. He was happy to see her.

“Uh. There you are. Heavy traffic?” Mulder said as they turned to walk down the hallway.

“Slow going,” Scully replied. “Let's just say I had ample time to read the police report that you faxed me.” Scully held up the manila file folder she was holding.

“Thoughtfully provided by the local authorities even though it doesn't begin to tell the whole story.”

“Sheriff's deputy is slain during a routine patrol. It's a tragic occurrence but I don't see the mystery here, Mulder.”

“Except that the deputy was beaten to death by an invisible assailant,” Mulder said.

“Yes, but that's according to the young man who's accused of his murder.”

“One Tony Reed, and I'm guessing wrongfully accused. He's an 'A' student moved here a few months ago from Philadelphia. He's never been in trouble in his life.”

Mulder held the morgue door open for Scully to walk through.

“Mulder, tell me you've got more than SAT scores to show that this Tony Reed didn't commit this crime,” Scully said as she put on a pair of latex gloves from a box on a cart next to the body.

“Maybe,” he replied quietly. “Take a look at the body.”

Scully turned on the overhead light, flipped back the sheet, and looked at the smashed face of the deputy. She gaped, and then looked back up at Mulder in shock.

“The former Deputy Ronald Foster,” Mulder said. “As you can see, the report doesn't quite do it justice.”

Scully stared at the body. “Oh, my God, it looks like he was hit with a sledgehammer.”

“Police flashlight. One blow.”

Scully looked at him in disbelief, before turning to examine the body. “The damage to the maxillofacial bones and the cranium is consistent with a blunt-force trauma, but... I'd say that, uh, Tony eats his Wheaties.”

“Check out the back of his head,” Mulder replied quietly.

Scully bent down to look and saw the twisted glass and metal amid the bloody hair. “Ugh! His eyeglasses.”

“Penetrated to the back of his skull. Babe Ruth couldn't hit this hard, let alone a high school sophomore.”

“Well, maybe if he was under the influence of PCP or some kind of stimulant,” Scully reasoned.

“No, his tox screen came back negative,” Mulder replied.

“Well, even so, I mean, stress and fear may have triggered an adrenaline response, which is known to enable feats of near-superhuman strength.”

Mulder gave a small smile and nod at Scully’s explanation, before turning to see the sheriff enter the morgue. Mulder could tell that he didn’t look happy.

“Agent Mulder? How long are you planning on being down here?”

“Uh, Sheriff Harden, this is my partner, Agent Scully.”

The sheriff completely ignored Scully and stared hard at Mulder. “How long you planning on being down here? I'd like Ron left in peace. I don't know what there is to see, anyway. We got the kid who did it.”

“Sheriff, we don't mean to second-guess you,” replied Scully, somewhat reassuringly. “We're just hoping to be of some assistance.”

The Sheriff stared at her. “Well, I don't need it. I got the murder weapon with bloody fingerprints and once the state crime lab matches that up with Tony Reed, it's open and shut.”

Mulder turned to look over at Scully, and said casually “Well, uh... we're done here. Right?” Scully nodded. He then turned back to the sheriff. “But, Sheriff Harden, you won't mind if I talk to Tony Reed, do you? I mean, it won't hurt your case and if he did do it, you'll want to know why.”

Sheriff Harden stared at them, considering. “Alright, then. I’ve already had several of my men talk to the kid, and so far we haven’t been able to make him crack. So knock yourselves out.”

Mulder and Scully made their way from St. Jude’s Memorial Hospital over to the Sheriff’s Station. Mulder signed his and Scully’s names into the visitor registry for Tony Reed, and after glancing at his watch, also wrote down 10:55 am in the time column. They were then cleared to visit Reed.

As Mulder and Scully walked down the hallway towards the interrogation room holding Tony Reed, a pretty blonde young woman wearing a tight pink long-sleeved shirt and blue jeans bumped into Mulder as they passed. Mulder turned to look, and saw her staring and smirking at him. Scully grabbed his elbow and he turned to see her glaring at him and arching an eyebrow, before she let go and turned towards the interrogation room.

“What?” Mulder said, laughing defensively.

Scully didn’t acknowledge this, and they entered the room to see Tony Reed sitting at the table.

“Well, Tony, this must be your lucky day for visitors,” Mulder quipped, thinking of that blonde girl and now Scully. “This is Agent Scully with the FBI…”

“I'm not talking anymore, okay?” Tony said, interrupting him.

“Well, that might make things worse and they seem pretty bad already,” Scully replied. “In your statement you say that Deputy Foster stopped you but you don't say why.” She then pushed the case folder towards Tony.

“Come on, you were cruising, right?” Mulder said. “I mean, a small town like this you're not exactly living La Vida Loca. I know. I grew up in Dullsville, too, you know. Nothing to do but drive and park.”

“How long ago was that?” Tony asked sarcastically.

Mulder took the verbal hit, and inwardly groaned. Teenagers.

“Look,” Tony continued. “Don't you think I know what you're doing? You're like the tenth cop who's come in here trying to relate to me till I confess.”

“If you didn't do it, it's all the more reason to clear it up,” Scully reasoned.

But Tony was firm. “Everything I know is in my statement.”

“Okay, but bear with us 'cause we're old and stupid,” Mulder quipped bitterly. Scully looked down at the table to hide her smile.

“How long was it between the time you heard the scream to the time you found Deputy Foster?” Mulder asked.

Tony didn’t reply, and Mulder turned to look up at Scully standing next to him.

As if on cue, Scully spoke. “Tony, you're not likely to get a fairer hearing than this.”

“Maybe 10... 15 seconds,” he answered.

Mulder thought about this. “Okay, but you didn't see anyone near the patrol car? You didn't hear anything? And you're still gonna stick with your story that you were the only one there. Is that right?”

A long, silent pause filled the room. Mulder thought Tony looked visibly uncomfortable.

“I want to go back to my cell,” Tony replied.

Mulder and Scully then walked back out to the hallway outside the interrogation room, and spoke quietly.

“Sixteen years old and his life is over unless he starts telling the truth.”

“If you really think he's guilty, Scully, why don't you ask yourself this: why wouldn't he make up a more plausible cover story? Why didn't he say that, uh, a pickup full of hillbillies drove by and clobbered the deputy and ran away?”

“I'm not saying he's guilty, Mulder. I'm inclined to agree that Tony Reed did not commit murder but I think that he saw the person who did, and he may be covering up for him.”

“I'm not sure there was a person to see. I think there was a force at work here.”

“What kind of force?” Scully asked, as if bracing herself for one of Mulder’s bizarre theories.

“I don't know… some kind of territorial or spiritual entity, maybe.”

Scully sighed, staring into the room where one of the deputies was handcuffing Tony Reed.

“Poltergeists have long been associated with violent acts like this and they tend to manifest around young people,” Mulder continued. “They seem to be drawn to the turmoil of adolescence.”

“Mulder,” Scully replied somewhat innocently, almost coyly, looking down at his tie and then grabbing it with her hand. “Rather than spirits... can we at least start with Tony's friends?” Scully continued to play with Mulder’s tie, and then looked back up into Mulder’s face. “Please? Just... for me? I think there's one person in particular I'd like to talk to.”

Mulder turned his head to give a meaningful look down the hallway where the blonde girl had left earlier, remembering Scully’s reaction, and then looked back at her. After checking the visitor registry to get the name of the blonde girl, they left the Sheriff’s Station and drove towards the high school. Mulder’s mind drifted back to the station where Scully had played with his tie, the backs of her fingers lightly brushing against his dress shirt-covered stomach. Was that Scully attempting to use her feminine wiles on him in order to get her way? He supposed it had worked. He glanced over at her in the passenger seat and grinned, looking forward to later that night.

*****

At 11:50 am, they arrived at the high school main office and received the class schedule for the girl they wanted to talk to. They then waited in the hallway outside her classroom. The bell rung, and students began leaving the class. Mulder and Scully recognized the blonde girl from the Sheriff’s Station earlier.

“Chastity Raines?” said Scully, holding up her badge. “I'm Agent Scully. This is Agent Mulder. We're with the FBI.”

“Yeah, I remember you,” Chastity said, smirking, before turning to walk over to her locker as Mulder and Scully followed her.

“Chastity, what did you and Tony talk about this morning?” Mulder asked, walking behind her.

“He didn't kill that cop,” she said.

“How can you be so sure?” asked Mulder.

“Tony just doesn't have it in him,” Chastity replied casually.

Scully wasn’t about to take any shit from this girl. “Do you?”

Chastity opened up her locker, giving Mulder and Scully an apprehensive look.

“Were you there when it happened?” Mulder asked.

“Look, I gotta go,” she replied evasively, putting on her varsity jacket.

Scully stared at her. “Do you realize that Tony could go to prison for the rest of his life for this?”

Chastity paused as she did up her jacket, looking at Scully and thinking about what she just said.

Mulder could sense she was holding something back. “Chastity, if you know something now is the time to mention it.”

A young man came over to them, and wrapped his arm around Chastity’s shoulders possessively.

“Unless they got a warrant, you don't have to say nothing,” he said.

“Wow, you must be her lawyer,” Mulder quipped.

He stared at Mulder. “Let's go,” he said to Chastity.

Mulder did not like this guy. “Gee, butting in to our investigation. I wonder what your father, the sheriff, would think.”

“How do you know who my dad is?”

Mulder pointed at the name on the kid’s school folder. “You got the same last name.”

“Oh, you're good,” he replied sarcastically. “We're done here. Come on, babe.” As he walked away with his arm around Chastity, he stared at Scully. “You must have been a Betty back in the day.”

Mulder and Scully stared after them. “A ‘Betty’?” Scully asked.

“Back in the day,” Mulder quipped dryly, staring at the back of Chastity’s school jacket as she walked down the hall and noticing the "Adams High Panthers" logo with the word "SUCKS" added at the bottom. Fucking teenagers.

Scully’s cell phone rang. “Scully.”

Mulder turned his attention from Chastity and her boyfriend to look down at Scully.

“Hello, Agent Scully? This is Sheriff Harden. We seem to have a situation here. The murder weapon is missing.”

“What about the murder weapon?”

“It’s missing from evidence. Gone. Could you and Agent Mulder come back down here?”

“We’ll be right there,” Scully said, before hanging up.

After arriving back at the Sheriff’s Station 15 minutes later, Harden showed Mulder and Scully to the evidence room where Deputy Foster’s police flashlight was missing. After Scully asked about the security tape, they watched the footage of the flashlight being locked away and then nothing for several hours until the state police showed up to take it to the crime lab, and it was gone. After the sheriff left the evidence room, Mulder showed Scully an anomaly on the tape. For a split second, a fuzzy figure could be seen as Mulder paused the tape, but then in the next frame it was gone. Scully didn’t know what to make of it, and she wondered if this would somehow fuel Mulder’s poltergeist theory.

*****

That afternoon, Mulder decided to take the security tape to the University of Maryland in College Park and see if Chuck Burks and his Advanced Digital Imaging Lab might be able to shed some light on the anomaly on the tape. Chuck told Mulder that he’d take a look at the tape over the weekend and see if he can figure it out. After stopping back at his apartment, showering, and changing into casual clothes, he drove to Scully’s apartment in Georgetown.

Scully heard a knock at her door, and after glancing at the clock to see the time was 5:38 pm, she opened it to see Mulder standing there in a pair of blue jeans and a heather gray sweater with his black leather jacket over it.

“I didn’t expect to see you,” she said in a surprised tone of voice.

Mulder gave her a puzzled look. “Why wouldn’t I be here?”

“Um… because we’re working a case.”

Mulder stared at her, and then grinned. “Yeah, close to home. It’s not like we had to check into a motel, Scully. Are you saying that when you’re at home while we’re working a case you are still on Bureau time?”

Scully’s mouth twitched. How was she going to respond to that? She’d been hoping to have a night off to herself. Scully wondered when Mulder was going to revert back to his solitary nature, but also dreaded it at the same time. She sighed, and then opened her door wide for Mulder to walk through.

Scully followed Mulder into the kitchen, and started pulling ingredients out of the refrigerator while Mulder grabbed two plates, silverware, and napkins before sitting at the table. He then sat and watched Scully while she prepared dinner. Once it was ready, he grabbed two wine glasses and pulled a bottle of red wine out of the refrigerator. They ate their spaghetti dinner in comfortable silence mostly, and occasionally discussed aspects of the Pittsfield case.

Mulder continued to sit at the kitchen table, watching Scully’s back as she washed the dishes. She was wearing dark jeans and a form-fitting sweater that was some shade of dark purple, like eggplant almost. He stood up from the table and walked up behind her, wrapping his arms around her waist and bringing his mouth to the side of her neck.

“Mulder, what are you doing?” Scully asked, somewhat annoyed. Her hands were in a sink full of soapy water, scrubbing a saucepan.

“What do you think I’m doing?” he whispered into her ear, before bringing his lips back down to her neck.

Scully sighed. “But we really should focus on working the case without distractions.”

Mulder grinned into her ear. “Am I a distraction, Scully?”

“Yes, a big one.”

He pressed his hips tightly against her. “Hmm… how big?”

She snorted and shook her head.

Mulder then thought of something. “So, uh, what was that earlier? At the Sheriff’s Station?”

Scully didn’t know what he was referring to. “What was what?”

“That look you gave me after Chastity Raines bumped into me.”

Now she knew what he was talking about. “You were blatantly staring at her, Mulder.”

He snorted. “Scully, she was staring at me. I only turned to look.”

“Mmm-hmm,” ahe replied, skeptically.

Mulder was getting a kick out of this. “Scully, you weren’t jealous of a teenage girl, were you?”

She thought of his video collection. “Well, who knows what you like, Mulder?”

He gripped her tighter to him. “I like you,” he said softly into her ear. “What do you like?”

Scully smirked. “I like you, too, Mulder.”

“Hmm… what else do you like?” he whispered as he pressed himself into her again. “Tell me.”

“Mulder…”

“I want to hear you say the words, Scully. I want you to describe what you like, what you want me to do to you. I know I like it when you get jealous. Now you tell me something.”

She felt her face start to redden, and wanted to change the subject. “Jealousy is beneath me.”

He chuckled. “Oh really? Because it’s not beneath me.”

Scully rolled her eyes. “And what do you have to be jealous about, Mulder?”

He paused. “Kresge.”

“Please,” she scoffed.

Mulder loosened his grip on Scully’s waist as she moved the clean saucepan onto the dry rack. “Jerse.”

She sighed. “But that was so long ago, Mulder. Aren’t you ever going to forget it?”

He then remembered the night after the banquet, flipping her over on to her stomach and taking her from behind. The sex had been amazing, and her cunt had been so unbelievably tight in that position, but Mulder suddenly realized that they’d never done it that way since. He didn’t want to see the scar.

“No, never.” You’ve made sure of that with that goddamned tattoo.

Scully shook her head. She couldn’t believe this was still an issue. “Well, are you ever going to get over it?”

Mulder’s thoughts dwelled on how good the sex had been after the banquet, how hard he’d made her come. “I think I can, yeah.”

Scully chuckled.

“Why did you sleep with Jerse?” Mulder blurted it out before he could stop himself, this question that had been burning him up for almost three years, this question that he’d buried alongside everything else he’d never been able to ask her. He thought he knew the reason, had it figured out, but he wanted to hear the words from Scully.

She paused. “There were several reasons, Mulder.”

“Tell me. I want to hear them.” He let go of her waist and walked over to stand on the other side of the sink, and leaned against the counter, looking at her.

“Well, first, he was an attractive man that was giving me attention. I would say that’s reason enough for some people.”

Mulder scoffed.

Scully stared at him. “Do you want to hear my reasons, or don’t you?”

He put his hands up, surrendering.

She sighed. “Also, I knew you wouldn’t like it. And I was… rebelling against you in some way. Like I always tend to do when an authoritative, controlling man walks into my life.”

Yep, Mulder knew it. He’d been an ass. An ass who had been ignoring Scully during a time when she was obviously having a personal crisis, seeing as how a week later she told him she had cancer.

He crossed his arms. “I’m sorry, Scully.”

She sighed again. She’d asked herself the Jerse question many times, and usually coming up with different reasons. There was one reason, at the core, that was always present, but she didn’t feel like sharing that one, so she kept it to herself.

“I know. And anyways, Mulder, that was a long time ago. Years. I don’t even think about it, and neither should you.”

He nodded, and then moved away from the counter and walked over to the refrigerator to grab a beer. But he then thought of something else, someone else. Mulder turned to stare at Scully’s back, as she was drying the clean dishes. He didn’t want to say it. Mulder didn’t know if he even truly wanted to talk about what had happened. But it was let loose, before he could stop it.

“Padgett.”

Scully froze. They had never talked about him. They had never talked about what happened. Sure, Scully had signed off on the case report Mulder had written, but she couldn’t even bring herself to read it. She felt guilty, and afraid that a conversation about Padgett would lead to other uncomfortable conversations that she wasn’t ready to have. She swallowed. “That was fiction, Mulder.”

He glared at her. He felt angry all of a sudden. “Yeah, which parts?”

Scully turned to stare at him. “What is that supposed to mean?”

“You reciprocated his feelings for you, didn’t you?”

She felt her body tense up, and she averted her eyes. “Mulder, of course not.”

He saw she couldn’t look him in the face and say it. “Hmm. But you thought about it, right?”

She felt anxiety flood her stomach. “You don’t want to hear about this, Mulder.”

Scully turned to walk out of the kitchen, but Mulder quickly went around the table and stood in front of her, blocking the way. “Yes, I do. I want to hear all of it. Why were you sitting on his bed, in the dark?”

She felt trapped. “Because… I was curious about him. I wanted to know how a complete stranger knew me so well.”

He balked at her. “You told me that what he wrote about you wasn’t true. That he didn’t get inside your head.”

Scully looked down at her hands, her fingers entwining nervously. “I lied,” she whispered.

He glowered at her. “What else did you lie about?”

She looked up at him, and sighed. “Mulder…”

He felt hot anger rising up from the pit of his stomach. “If I hadn’t walked in on the two of you sitting there on his bed, what would’ve happened?” he asked slowly, carefully enunciating each syllable.

She swallowed, and averted her eyes again. She’d fantasized about Padgett, she couldn’t deny it. But there was no way in hell she was going to tell Mulder. In that moment, Scully erected walls of steel around herself. When she looked back up into Mulder’s face, all he could see was cold fury.

“And how many times did you read that chapter, Mulder? How many times did you picture me fucking him right next door? Did you imagine yourself listening through the wall? Or watching through the camera?”

He stared at her in shock. “Do you think I actually liked reading that? And now to hear that all the other stuff Padgett wrote about you was true! I thought I knew you better than that, but I guess not.”

Scully glared at him. “You are just like Padgett.”

Mulder stared at her in wide-eyed shock. “What?!”

“You both thought you know me better than I know myself, intruding into my life, only to act so fucking condescending.”

Mulder knew she was right. He had laid claim to her, and set standards for her out of his own idea of who she was or who he expected her to be. How much did he know about her, really? How much did he know about Scully’s inner life? The truths about her habits, beliefs, and feelings? Her personal struggles with her career, her colleagues? Her past relationships? Padgett deciphered these truths, wrote them eloquently down on paper, accepted her and loved her for them. But if there was ever a reason for why Mulder didn’t know these things about her, it was because she wouldn’t allow him to. Or was it because he’d never attempted to know?

“Well, maybe I shouldn’t intrude into your life anymore,” he finally replied.

Scully’s face fell and she knitted her brows as Mulder turned away from her, grabbed his leather jacket off the coat rack, and left.

Chapter Text

Scully half-expected Mulder to turn around and come right back, continue the argument or make amends. But neither happened. Scully tried not to think about Mulder when she channel surfed the TV, she tried not to think about him when she took a shower, she tried not to think about him when she brushed her teeth, she tried not to think about him when she changed into her flannel pajamas, and she tried even harder not to think about him when she lay down in bed. She tried to sleep but after glancing at the bedside clock that told her the time was 12:21 am, having spent nearly an hour and a half lying awake in bed, she gave up. Scully bolted out of bed, shoved her feet into her black leather ankle boots, grabbed her FBI badge, wallet, and car keys, threw on her black jacket, and walked out the door.

After a 15 minute drive in the rain, she was walking into Mulder’s apartment building. At first she couldn’t remember the last time she’d been here, but then the memory of that night she’d confronted him about her ova came back to her. And here she was again, to confront him.

Scully sighed as she stood in front of his apartment door. She didn’t want to argue anymore. She wanted to make things right, explain herself fully, so that this subject could be dropped forever. She had to find a way to make things clear, so that Mulder knew the truth, so that he would know there was absolutely nothing to be jealous over or angry about. Scully braced herself, her stomach filling with butterflies, and then knocked on the door.

Mulder opened the door 30 seconds later, still wearing the same clothes from earlier, to see Scully standing there in boots, black plaid flannel pajama pants, and a black jacket with water spots all over it from the rain.

“I didn’t wake you up, did I?” Scully asked.

He stared at her. “Do you honestly think I could sleep?”

Scully sighed, and looked down. But then she raised her head, determined not to avert her eyes. “Can I come in? There are things I want to say.”

Mulder nodded and stepped away from the door, allowing her to enter the apartment. She walked over to his living room, removed her boots and set her jacket over the back of the desk chair, and sat down on the couch with her legs bent under her. Mulder followed her, and sat down on the other end of the couch, closest to his front door. Scully sighed over him sitting as far away from her as possible.

Mulder took a deep breath, setting his elbows on his knees, staring at his hands. “I know you came over here because you wanted to talk, but there are things I need to tell you first.”

She felt her stomach twist into even tighter knots as she took in his posture.

But Mulder then sat up and turned to look her in the face. “I’m sorry for behaving so rudely earlier. It really was none of my business, what happened with Jerse. I shouldn't have asked you such a personal question. And yes, I loathed Padgett. Yes, he was a murderer. And I had been angry that you’d refused to believe that he was involved in the murders we were investigating.”

Scully sighed. “Mulder, I felt so guilty. I still do. All those people who were killed, brutally murdered… I’m the reason they’re dead.”

He shook his head, and moved closer to her on the couch. “Scully, Padgett is the reason they’re dead. It’s not your fault he was obsessed with you, stalked you. But he was taken in by you, and wanted to impress you. I can relate. I certainly can’t fault him for that.”

She stared at him, and his eyes met her gaze. “I just wished that you would’ve realized his guilt, Scully. And not only did you believe his innocence, but…” Mulder sighed. He felt uncomfortable, but he knew he needed to say it. More than that, he knew she needed to hear it. “You would’ve allowed him to kiss you, to… to touch you. But there were places that you wanted to be touched, needed to be touched. You wanted things, needed things. Padgett realized this, and showed you that he knew those things about you, offered to give those things to you. And I was the horse’s ass who didn’t realize it. Or, well… I don’t know… I probably did realize it but I just… ignored it.”

Scully gazed at him, guessing at how difficult it was for him to admit all that. “He was right about some things, Mulder. And I was flattered by his attention, the kind of attention I rarely ever received. I was flattered by the words in his book, they made me feel things I’d thought I’d forgotten, that I thought I’d buried. Some parts were frighteningly accurate, but some things he said were way off base.”

Mulder fought the urge to once again blurt out “Which parts?” but he held back. “Scully, he knew things about you that I didn’t, and still don’t. Maybe he knew you better than I do. It sickens me.”

As he once again turned to stare at his hands, Scully knew she had to tell the truth. But she had to find some way to say it without revealing too much, without leaving herself too vulnerable and open to a reaction of awkward silence or, even worse, outright rejection.

“Mulder, I spent the night with Jerse because I was angry that a complete stranger, someone who didn’t know me at all, wanted to give me that kind of attention, but you… you who knows me better than anyone… you didn’t want to.”

He sat up again, staring at her, listening to the rain pound against the apartment building, against the window over his desk.

“I was attracted to Padgett… because I thought he saw things in me that you didn’t. He acknowledged feelings I had, desires, which you blatantly ignored. But that doesn’t mean he knew me. Padgett’s alluring descriptions of me were somewhat fulfilling but they were also completely empty. He knew some things about me, but only based on observations he’d made from a distance. There’s knowing facts, but then there’s understanding who a person really is. Mulder, you know me. You understand me. And not based on hypotheses and conjecture. Based on real interaction, interaction that’s taken place over many years. And when Padgett finally started interacting with me in the real world, he realized he’d been wrong about me. Because he didn’t know me, not really.”

Mulder then remembered something Padgett had said: “Agent Scully is already in love.” He wanted to ask her if that was one of the frighteningly accurate parts or if Padgett had been way off base about that, but he was too afraid to ask. He wasn’t sure if he was prepared for either an answer in the affirmative or negative.

“But Jerse and Padgett… I guess I had just wished it had been you. They didn’t care about me the way you do, Mulder. How could they? They couldn’t possibly know, or understand, what we’ve been through together. Padgett certainly couldn’t comprehend your place in my life, there was nothing in his book about our partnership, our friendship, and because of that he didn’t know me at all.”

Mulder sighed. Why hadn’t it been me? It should’ve been him, but she sought comfort in the arms of strangers. Well, it was him now, and it was gonna stay that way.

Scully stood up from the couch, and went and sat on the coffee table in front of Mulder. He reached out to grab her hands, and to his delight, she didn’t pull away. She allowed him to hold her, placing her small, soft hands inside his slightly rougher and larger ones. They both sat there, in silence, listening to the rain.

“Do you want me to intrude into your life, Scully?” Mulder asked quietly.

She gazed at him. “Yes,” she answered.

“What else do you want?”

She could think of a hundred answers to this question, but only one that would do for the moment. “I want you to make love to me,” Scully whispered.

Mulder’s eyes met her steady gaze. It was the first time either of them had used those words, up until now it always had been various words and phrases to denote fucking.

He pulled her off the table and into his arms, pressing her tightly against him, as her legs wrapped around his hips to straddle him. He then placed both hands under her and stood up as she locked her arms and legs around him, carrying her petite frame to his bedroom.

Once Mulder had opened the bedroom door and walked in, he flipped the light switch on the wall and then felt her body tense up. “Do you want the lights off, Scully?”

She looked at him and silently nodded. Scully didn’t want to feel self-conscious, didn’t want to put her guard up, especially tonight. She wanted to make things clear to him without feeling like she was exposing herself too much.

Mulder turned off the light, but noticed that he’d left the bathroom light on earlier when Scully had knocked. She didn’t seem to care that it was on, so he left it alone. He didn’t want the room to be pitch black, he wanted to be able to see her. He set her down on his bed and then turned down the covers, as she scooched up towards the headboard, sliding them underneath her.

Scully felt adrenaline pumping through her veins and filling her stomach with butterflies, felt hot desire start to pool at her center and Mulder hadn’t even kissed her yet. They had never had sex in his apartment, in his bed. How often had she imagined going behind that door to this room, lying in this bed? Too many times to count, and always swiftly suppressed. But now she was here, and this was really happening.

Mulder climbed up on the bed and laid down next to Scully, holding himself over her with his forearm and wrapping his other arm around her waist and turned her towards him. He caught her lips with his, slipping his tongue inside her mouth to tangle with hers. He kept the kissing soft and light until she moaned, and then he pushed her over until she was flat on her back and he was pressing into her, her legs spreading and moving up and around his jeans-clad hips.

Mulder began kissing Scully’s jaw and neck while his fingers unbuttoned her black plaid flannel pajama top. Once he’d loosened all the buttons, he gathered the material and pulled it up and off as she raised her arms, revealing her bare breasts. Once she was free of the top, her hands reached down for the hem of his heather gray sweater and pushed it up to his shoulders, along with the white undershirt, before Mulder took it the rest of the way off and tossed it on the floor beside Scully’s pajama top.

He then returned to pressing his body into hers, his firm chest against her soft and perfectly round breasts. Mulder groaned as his lips recaptured hers, Scully’s arms moving around his back, the member inside his jeans beginning to harden. After a couple minutes, he lifted himself up slightly, and his fingers began to tenderly brush the soft, milky skin of her stomach. Scully arched her back, needing more. Mulder grunted in reply, his hands moving up her body and his thumbs running along the undersides of her breasts.

She was squirming, and she could feel her wetness pooling, her clit throbbing like mad. He was moving achingly slow. “Mulder…” she whimpered, breaking their kiss.

“What do you want, Scully?” he whispered.

She pressed her arms tighter around his back. “I want you.”

An idea floated to the front of Mulder’s mind, stemming from earlier at her apartment and now building since their conversation on his couch. “Tell me what you want.”

She felt her face redden slightly with embarrassment. “You already know what I want,” she whispered.

Mulder looked down at her, remembering Padgett’s book. There was a dark abyss inside Scully, one that she kept locked up tight and perhaps even Padgett hadn’t been able to penetrate with his illuminating observations, a dark space of desire, want, and need. He didn’t want this space to be dark anymore, he wanted it open, and he wanted Scully to be the one to open it. He wanted to be the one, the only one, she opened it for.

“I know some things, Scully. But I want to really know you, who you are, what you want. I want you to tell me what you want from me, what you want me to do.”

She snorted. “Since when have you ever liked me telling you what to do?”

He grinned. “This is different. Scully, I’m not doing anything unless you tell me to do it.”

She could see the wicked gleam in his eyes, and she could feel cringing embarrassment rising up in the pit of her stomach and spreading all the way to her reddening face.

Mulder thought that maybe he should help her along. “What would you like me to do first?”

Scully felt torn. She knew what she wanted, but the idea of speaking the words out loud to him seemed mortifying. She wasn’t sure why, it was just Mulder. But then it dawned on Scully that maybe it had been her all along who hadn’t been able to decipher between who she was as Mulder’s partner and who she was as a woman. She had locked herself away behind her sensible suits and her badge and her commanding respect. Padgett had been right, for her to think of herself as just a woman was bridling. And to speak her desires out loud, in regards to herself and her own body, was unthinkable.

Mulder could see the inner turmoil, it was written all over her face. “Let me in, Scully. I want to know you better than anyone else does, or ever did. Um… other than yourself, of course.”

She laughed at the contrite expression that accompanied his afterthought. “Kiss me, Mulder.”

He smiled. “Hey, now we’re getting somewhere.”

She rolled her eyes and chuckled. Mulder devoured her mouth with his, kissing her passionately. Scully moaned. She loved his lips, they were both soft and firm and the combination sent more waves of moisture rushing out from inside her hot center.

After breaking their kiss to breathe, Scully tilted her head and placed her right forefinger at her chin and then traced back all along her right jawline to the back of her ear and then down her neck, smirking at Mulder. He gave her a wide-eyed smile, before tracing this same line with his lips, stopping briefly at that soft spot of flesh behind her earlobe and probed with his tongue.

She gasped, her fingers pressing hard into his back, and she started squirming. Mulder continued the trail of his lips and tongue down her neck, before dipping into her clavicle. Scully started writhing underneath him, and she brought her hands down from his back to palm at her own breasts.

He quickly grabbed her hands away and lifted them up above her head, before holding both her wrists together in one of his hands. He smirked at her. “Nuh-uh, I’m going to do that. But only after you tell me to.”

“Mulder, come on,” Scully said, half-laughing, and trying to wriggle her hands free from his grasp, but quickly gave up.

“Tell me,” he breathed, looking down into her face.

She sighed. “Touch me,” she whispered.

“Touch you where?”

She pursed her lips at him. “My breasts, Mulder. Touch them.”

He laughed, releasing her wrists from his grip. “I thought you’d never ask.”

Scully glared at him. “I’m going to kill you, Mulder.”

He chuckled, wondering how she was going to react as this thing carried on. Mulder then brought his large, warm hands to Scully’s soft breasts, heavy and full with arousal, savoring their weight in his palms.

“Mulder,” she breathed against his lips. She arched her back, pressing her breasts into his hands. He felt her nipples harden into taut, pink nubs.

“I like it when you say my name, Scully. You should say it more.”

She gave him a puzzled look. “I say your name all the time, Mulder.”

He looked at her somewhat sheepishly. “Not during sex.”

Scully was surprised at this. “I don’t?”

Mulder shook his head.

She had no idea whether she did or didn’t do this. Scully knew his name ran through her mind continually, but she also knew a lot of things did that she never dared say out loud. “I’ll keep it in mind,” she whispered.

He snorted. “Okay.”

She smiled, and then bit her lip.

Mulder continued fondling her breasts, as his lips once again caught hers, alternating between gently squeezing them and rolling her nipples with his fingers. Scully was moaning, and squirming. She felt like she would combust, he was moving so slow. She pulled his bottom lip into her mouth, and licked it with her tongue. He groaned, but he didn’t pick up the pace. As soon as the thought entered her mind, wondering why Mulder wasn’t moving on to something else, she realized she hadn’t told him to. Damn him.

He noticed the frustrated expression on her face. “Tell me what you want, Scully.”

She was cringing inside. Why was he making her say it out loud?! She could strangle him. She sighed. “Your mouth, Mulder. On my body.”

He looked at her questioningly. “Where on your body?”

Scully glared at him. “Fucking… everywhere! Jesus!”

He laughed. “You’re really getting riled up, aren’t you? And where would you like me to start first?” Mulder asked, gazing into her eyes and at the same time pinching her nipples.

Scully moaned, and her hips rocked against him. “You know where,” she whimpered.

“Say it.” He was thoroughly enjoying this.

“I want your mouth on my breasts, Mulder,” she sighed.

He slid back down, moving his hips away from her squirming center, and then leaned over, flattening his tongue, and traced the underside of one breast. She tasted salty and sweet, soft and warm against his lips. Mulder licked and sucked along the curves of her breasts, carefully avoiding her nipples. He stared down at her, loving how her chest heaved with anticipation as she panted.

“Mulder,” Scully whimpered, digging her fingers into his biceps, hips squirming. She felt like her blood was a raging fire.

He then ran his tongue up and over one nipple. She began making small grunting pants, and that was just after one stroke of his tongue. Mulder gave her a blazing stare, filled with feral determination. He was going to make her beg for it, and then scream. He smirked before his lips wrapped around her areola, his tongue making long strokes over the hardened nipple.

Scully whimpered, arching her back and pressing herself against his mouth. Mulder heeded her cue and took her nipple into his mouth, sucking hard. She started moaning and her hands went to his hair, encouraging him.

He moved to give attention to her other breast, grazing his teeth against her taut nipple before sucking it into his mouth. Scully hissed, and started squirming even more.

“Mulder…”

“What, Scully? Tell me,” he whispered, lifting his head from her breast.

She was fighting with herself, but then gave up. “Do that biting thing again.”

Mulder smiled at her. “From that night in Chicago?”

Scully nodded, breathing hard.

He grinned before taking her nipple back into his mouth, sucking and flicking it back and forth with his tongue. Then gazing up intently at her face, he bit down and watched her eyes roll back inside her head and her mouth fall open, her hips bucking against him.

Scully had been trying to keep her eyes open, but was failing miserably. Her eyes squeezed shut, and all she could see was tiny flashes of light as Mulder did amazing things to her breasts. His warm hands caressing and pinching, replaced by his mouth, soft, hard, and hot as it laved over her. The throbbing ache of her clit was unbearable, and she knew her underwear had to be soaked right through.

Mulder then sat up, bending her knees to his side and pulling her pajama bottoms and panties down her hips and off her legs along with her socks, throwing them on the floor. He then returned to hover over her, settling himself between her legs as he kissed and licked his way down her abdomen, and the creamy, soft skin of her belly.

As Mulder trailed his mouth over Scully’s hip bone, he nipped at it with his teeth, and she arched towards him, groaning his name. He felt his throbbing cock strain painfully, but he knew it was going to be worth the wait.

Mulder then completely bypassed Scully’s center, as her legs spread out before him, and he turned his attention to the back of her right knee, kissing her delicate skin. He then started to move down her thigh, kissing and darting his tongue out against her.

“Bite, Mulder,” Scully moaned.

He grinned. “How hard?”

She snorted. “Well, don’t draw blood, but… hard enough to leave a mark.”

Mulder blazed with desire and arousal at the idea of marking Scully, claiming her. And he left a trail of bite marks down her thigh, gently soothing each spot with his tongue afterwards before moving on.

The ache of Scully’s clit was intolerable. She felt like she could cry with insatiable need, and that her center was rippling with pre-orgasmic waves, on the verge of coming, just by feeling Mulder’s hands and the scratchiness of his stubble on her thighs.

He spread her legs wide in front of him. He breathed in her heavy scent of arousal, making his head spin. God, he loved that scent. He stared up at her face, and smirked.

Scully opened her eyes and looked down at him, the sight filling her brain with wanton need. “What are you waiting for?”

“You haven’t told me what to do,” Mulder replied simply.

She felt overpowering, cringing embarrassment rising up as she stared at him. She couldn’t do it. She couldn’t say it. There was no way. Scully nervously shook her head at him.

Mulder decided that he was going to have to drive her crazy enough to crack, which was fine by him because he wanted her so insane with lust that she was begging him.

“You’re so wet, Scully,” he said, studying her soft, glistening pink center.

She started breathing heavier, her widened eyes glued to his face.

He bent down towards her and Scully bucked her hips towards him, but he held her down with his strong hands. Mulder then rubbed two fingers against the bottom curves of her ass, moving them up to her groin, gathering her juices.

“So wet,” he whispered, before locking eyes with her and sucking his fingers into his mouth, licking them clean. “You taste good.”

Scully stared at him, mouth agape and eyes wide, panting. She felt her clit tighten, her core become even hotter, and fresh waves of moisture pour out from her center. She wanted him. She wanted it. She wanted him to suck her clit. But she still couldn’t tell him so. Something in her brain, or deep in the pit of her knotted stomach, was preventing her from speaking those words out loud.

But Mulder was determined that this was a battle he was going to win. He then took those same two fingers and gently parted her drenched folds, being careful not to touch the places she most wanted him to. “I can’t get over how fucking pretty your cunt is, Scully,” he whispered. “I love your cunt. I love how it tastes. I love the way it feels around my hard cock. I love how it clutches at me when I’m inside you, like you don’t want to let me go.”

“Oh, my God…” she moaned somewhat involuntarily, eyes rolling. His words were driving her over the edge.

“What was that, Scully?” Mulder was trying not to laugh at her unraveling.

“Mulder…” she whimpered desperately.

He smirked. “What do you want?”

Scully was panting, but she couldn’t say those explicit words. However, she thought of something else that might lead to the same result. “I want… you inside me.”

“What do you want inside you?” he asked, raising his eyebrows at her amusedly.

She was going to fucking kill him. “Your tongue, Mulder,” Scully whimpered.

He then leaned forward, bringing his hands up the backs of her thighs, partly bending her knees down on top of her.

“Sit up on your elbows, Scully,” Mulder instructed, and she did so. He looked at her, to see her licking her lips, and he grinned. “Can you see your cunt?” She nodded, wide-eyed “Are you going to keep your eyes open?” She stared at him, breathing heavily, and nodded again. “Okay, good.”

Mulder leaned his face down toward her hot center, and after taking a deep breath, slowly inched his tongue into her cunt, using a back and forth motion, and twisted his tongue inside her before he pulled back out to breathe. He then returned to form a tight circle around her entrance with his mouth and sucked, pulling her sweet, wet desire out with his tongue

“Fuck, Mulder…” Scully was moaning at the pleasure from his tongue and then started whimpering over her clit, aching with need.

“Tell me,” he said, looking her in the eyes.

She whimpered again. Scully was having an intense inner battle with herself. “You know what I want! Now. Now, now, now, now, now.”

He grinned. “Say ‘please.’”

“Mulder…” Scully groaned.

“Say it.”

“Please,” she whimpered.

He smirked at her mischievously. “’Please,’ what?”

Scully stared daggers at him. “I wish I had brought my gun with me, so I could shoot you again!”

Mulder stared at her in shock. “You left your apartment unarmed?! Are you crazy? Why would you do that?”

“We can talk about that later!”

He returned his tongue to her slit, stroking up and stopping just short of her throbbing bundle of nerves. “I love it when your cunt is swollen and wet for me,” he whispered.

Scully’s hips jerked towards Mulder’s face involuntarily, her nerves desperately seeking friction.

“Tell me.”

“Mulder, I…” she whimpered. She was losing the battle, she could feel it. Or maybe she was winning, she couldn’t tell anymore.

“I don’t know what you want unless you tell me, Scully.”

She was desperately squirming against his firm hold on her and she felt she could sob from need. “Fucking… oh, God… suck my clit, Mulder, make me come! Please!”

He smiled at her. “Hold your legs for me.” Scully then reached down and held her thighs apart. “Can you still see your cunt?” She nodded. “Can you see your clit?” She nodded, starting to pant in anticipation.

He rubbed one finger over her swollen, needy clit, causing her hips to buck. “It’s so hard.”

“Enough with the talking, Mulder. Do it.”

He started laughing. He really had driven her crazy. Then Mulder gripped her eyes with his and stared at her as the tip of his tongue rubbed along the base of her clit.

“Oh, my…” She couldn’t finish the sentence. Scully nearly broke into tears of relief, and when she saw Mulder’s lips close around her hard bud, it was the sexiest, most arousing thing she’d ever seen in her life. The sensations of his mouth on her were pure bliss, but nothing compared to the actual visual of seeing her clit sucked between his perfect lips. She felt she could come just from the sight of it.

Scully felt her orgasm just over the ledge after only a few flicks of Mulder’s tongue as he sucked her, she was so close. And when he slipped two fingers inside her, stroking that sweet spot on her front wall, giving two or three more flicks of his tongue, she went off like a bomb.

Her hands let go, as her thighs clamped down against Mulder, clawing and gripping at his bed sheet, her back arching off the mattress. But Mulder didn’t stop, he held her hips tightly with his hands and kept her cunt at his face, stroking his tongue over her clit. Scully tried to get away from him, her nerves in overload. As she reached down to frantically grip his hair, to pull him away from her, another orgasm hit and her legs shook as she moaned and screamed, desperately trying to push herself away from his mouth.

“Mulder, stop, stop, stop, stop, stop, I can’t take it!”

He let go, chuckling, and slid up the mattress to lay down next to her, as she laid on her back, glistening with sweat and breathing hard. After a couple minutes, she turned to look at him and she saw his eyes glittering at her with greed and hunger, darkened beyond anything she’d seen before. Scully lunged at Mulder, forcing him onto his back, laying on top of him, and kissed him passionately. He wrapped his arms around her, holding her tightly. She then reached down between them and unbuttoned his jeans, taking the zipper down, and started to slide them down his hips, Mulder helping by lifting up off the mattress. Once she’d gotten his jeans, boxer briefs, and socks off, throwing them into a pile on the floor, she straddled him.

Mulder then sat up, holding Scully in his lap. She grinned at him. “I didn’t tell you to do that.”

He smiled, wrapping his arms tighter around her back as her legs wrapped around him. “Nope, no more instructions,” he whispered. “I’m going to make love to you now.”

Scully’s heart swelled at his words and the affection pouring out from his eyes. Mulder gazed into her eyes, searching her face. He saw honesty, loyalty, love and devotion. He lifted her hips slightly, and then slowly lowered her onto his engorged cock. They both sighed with the contact, and held each other tighter.

Mulder captured Scully’s mouth with his, kissing her passionately, as his hands rocked her hips in a steady rhythm up and down, back and forth, stroking his hard cock with her tight cunt.

She broke their kissing and threw her arms around his neck, holding him close and pressing her body into his, one hand gripping his shoulder and the other in his hair, and the side of her face pressed against his, but it wasn’t close enough. She wanted to melt into him until they were the same person.

It didn’t take long before the strokes of Mulder’s cock against Scully’s center soon caused that delicious tension to build once again as her clit started to respond to his ministrations. “Oohh, Mulder…” she moaned into his ear.

He groaned at his name on Scully’s lips in a tone of pleasure, his hands leaving her pelvis and moving up to wrap tightly around her back, pressing her against him. Scully worked her hips over Mulder, seeking the perfect friction and rhythm for her release, her tension soon bursting, and she was coming.

“Oohh… Mulder… you feel so good,” she moaned through her orgasm.

He felt his groin tighten at Scully finally vocalizing her pleasure in coherent words, using his name. His hands went back to her hips and he started quickly rocking them up and down his cock with purpose, Scully meeting his thrusts with her rotating hips to help him along.

“Come, Mulder,” she whispered into his ear.

Her sounds, words, and clenching muscles caused the jolts of pleasure rippling from his balls outward to turn into crashing waves. He wanted to see her. Scully's arms clutched tighter around his neck as Mulder moved his head to look into her face. He looked into the blue of her eyes, their mouths meeting in heavy breaths and their lips in desperate kisses. Mulder then started moaning Scully’s name and his love for her cunt, and after a few more thrusts he came. She felt his cock pulse over and over inside her, as his hot seed filled her.

They sat there on his bed, Scully on his lap and still connected at their joined center, breathing heavily. Mulder then brought his hands up to gently hold her face and gaze intensely in her eyes. She had seen that look before, over a year ago out there in his hallway before that bee had stung her. Mulder then pressed his forehead against Scully’s and closed his eyes. When he opened them a few seconds later, he smiled as he looked into her face.

“What was that?” Scully asked.

“I was praying for a miracle.”

She gave him a small smile. “But I thought you didn’t really believe in God, Mulder.”

“Well… for a long time, I didn’t. That’s true. But I don’t… not believe. I told you not to count God out, remember? So I think the jury’s still out on that one.”

Scully chuckled. “What made you change your mind?”

Mulder gave a slight shrug. “You.”

She smiled.

As he watched Scully fall asleep, the sound of the steady falling rain outside also pulling him under, he wondered if he really needed to ask her if what Padgett had said to him was accurate or way off base. Maybe Mulder already knew the answer, maybe he’d known it a long time.

Chapter Text

Scully awoke to sounds coming from Mulder’s living room. She turned towards the clock on his bedside table, to see red lights reading 4:18 am glowing back at her in the dark. Mulder was not in the bedroom. She rolled out of bed, grabbed her pajama bottoms and top, quickly threw them on, and left the room. She found the living room in complete disarray: the coffee table and chairs were turned over, the couch had been pushed out from the wall, the lamps were turned over and taken apart, all the panels of the electrical outlets were unscrewed and hanging from the walls. He was standing at his desk, wearing gray sweatpants and a white undershirt, taking his phone and answering machine apart.

“Mulder, what are you doing?” Scully asked, giving him a puzzled expression.

“I’m sorry, did I wake you up?” he said, glancing up to look at her, before returning to the phone.

She stared at him. “Um, I think so, yeah. What are you doing?”

“I’m looking for cameras or microphones.”

She was confused by his response. “Why?”

“In case someone is watching or listening, Scully,” Mulder replied in an obvious tone.

She was again confused, and wondered if this was something he did on a regular basis. “How often do you check your apartment for bugs?”

Mulder hesitated. “Uh… I actually haven’t checked since last winter.”

“Huh. And you suddenly had the desire to get up in the middle of the night and check now?”

Silence filled the living room. “Uh, well, you know… I woke up and couldn’t go back to sleep, so… It couldn’t hurt, right? Anyways, now that you’re up, I can go check the bedroom.”

Mulder walked past her without meeting her eyes and walked into the bedroom, leaving Scully standing in the living room, staring at the mess. She wasn’t sure why but Mulder seemed to be in a fit of paranoia, something she hadn’t seen in a very long time. Scully then started to wonder if this was the real reason why they had never gone to Mulder’s apartment to be together. She had offered many times to come to him, feeling bad that they were always at her place and Mulder always had to drive home in the early morning, but Mulder always insisted on her apartment.

His apartment had been put under surveillance before, she knew. But that had been years ago. Scully then suddenly remembered her suspicions back in the spring when Mulder had become ill, that they were being spied on, at least in their basement office. Scully turned her head sharply at the bedroom doorway, her stomach starting to twist into a knot over the idea of someone actually listening to or watching their intimacy.

Mulder soon emerged from the bedroom.

“Did you find anything?” Scully asked nervously.

Mulder shook his head. “No.”

Scully gave a sigh of relief. But as she looked at Mulder she felt something had changed after last night, like some of her walls had unintentionally come down without her realizing, and that she’d opened herself to Mulder in a way she hadn’t planned on. She had a strong desire to leave right away.

“Well, I should go,” she said, walking past Mulder and into the bedroom. She was searching for the rest of her clothes, but could only find her socks. Her lavender cotton underwear had been tossed somewhere in the bedroom, which was now looking like a tornado had gone through it. She'd have to get it later.

Scully walked back out to the living room, sat on the couch, and started putting on her boots.

“Why are you leaving?” Mulder asked, walking over to stand in front of the couch.

She sighed. “Well, I don’t have any clothes here, for one. And Jennifer’s baby shower is later this afternoon, so I’ve got things I need to do to get ready for that.”

Mulder nodded. “So, will I see you tonight?”

Scully hesitated. “Um, I don’t know how long this shower thing is going to last, and then how long I’ll be at my mother’s house helping Jennifer with everything once it’s over. Anyways, I’m sure we both could use the night off. I don’t want you to get sick of me.”

She looked up with an amused expression to see Mulder nodding his head slightly, but then he looked confused. She stood up, grabbing her jacket from the back of the couch, and put it on. She turned to walk towards his door, and after hearing him open a drawer in his desk, he followed her out of the living room.

“I think I can find your front door on my own, Mulder,” she quipped.

He chuckled. “I just wanna walk you out.”

Scully thought he had meant just to his hallway, but he ended up slipping on a pair of sneakers by his door and walking her out to her car. When they reached her driver’s side door, she turned to say goodbye and Mulder placed both hands on the car on either side of her. She felt trapped. He then leaned down to kiss her, but she placed a hand up on his chest.

“Mulder, we’re in public.”

He chuckled. “We’re on a darkened street with nobody around.” He then amusingly leaned back to glance up and down his street, like he was searching for someone, and then smirked at Scully. But she had taken advantage of him leaning away from her, and turned away to open her car door. He sighed as she opened the door and got in the driver’s seat.

He closed the door after her as she started the engine. Scully started to put her seatbelt on when Mulder knocked on her window and motioned for her to put it down. She hesitated, afraid that Mulder would try to lean his head in to kiss her, but she pushed the button to lower the window down all the way. When he leaned down to look at her, she saw he had a very serious expression on his face. He then reached inside his pocket and gave her a small handgun, his side piece that he usually kept strapped to his ankle when in the field.

“Scully, don’t ever leave your apartment unarmed again.”

She sighed, taking the gun. “I know, Mulder. I just had… other things on my mind.”

He nodded his understanding, giving her a small smile. But then his expression was once again serious. “Just don’t do it again.”

Scully swallowed, and nodded, feeling chastised, before putting her window up and driving away towards Georgetown, noticing Mulder in her rearview mirror staring after with furrowed brows.

*****

June 14, 1986

The Oxford graduation ceremony was over and Mulder had returned home to his flat, packing up his clothes and other belongings, after a night out celebrating with some classmates. His flight back to New York City was leaving in the morning, and he’d procrastinated long enough. He needed to have everything packed up and ready to go before 8:00 am.

At just past 11:00 pm, there was a knock on his door. He opened it to see the face of a woman he’d both longed for and dreaded with every fiber of his being, a face he hadn’t seen in a year. Much to Mulder’s dismay, and delight, Phoebe Green was standing there smirking at him. God, he loved her. But he also fucking hated her. His stomach was in tight knots.

“Hello, Mulder.”

At the sound of her voice, he felt rage burning through his gut. “What the fuck are you doing here?”

She gave him a look of disapproval. “Such language, Mulder. Is that any way to greet an old friend?”

He gave her a blank stare. “Is that what you are?”

Phoebe laughed, her brown eyes twinkling at him, and tossed her shoulder-length dark brown hair. “Of course, darling.”

She then pushed past him and into his flat. Mulder noticed she smelled of vodka and cigarettes, a lethal combination that always sent her to his door late at night, well, at least it used to. But that was a while ago now. And a painful memory rushed to the front of his mind, of the last time she’d come to him in such a state. That had been the beginning of the end…

May 11, 1985

He hadn’t spoken to Phoebe in four days. He’d shown up at her graduation earlier that day, but she’d only winked at him across the room at the Sheldonian Theatre. Every time he’d tried to look for her, to talk to her, he couldn’t find her; she’d disappear. Mulder thought she was avoiding him, but he couldn’t figure out why. Not like that was a surprise, he could never figure out the reasons for most things she did.

She’d knocked on his door quite late, after a night out drinking with her friends after her Oxford graduation ceremony. She was now kneeling on the floor, her mouth around his hard cock, bringing him closer and closer to orgasm. But then she stopped, her mouth letting go of him with a loud ‘pop’ sound, and she looked up at him.

“I love you, Mulder. Do you love me?”

Mulder looked down at her hands stroking him, and then looked into her face, her brown eyes shining up at him, her long dark brown hair cascading over her shoulders. “Of course I do, baby.”

“Then why are you leaving for a whole month?”

Mulder gave her a sympathetic smile. “But I’m not leaving for another three weeks. My mother asked me to come home for the summer. I haven’t seen her in almost a year. I didn’t go home for any holidays.”

“But I thought you didn’t want to go home for the holidays. You said you’d rather be here with me.”

He nodded. “That was the truth. But I can’t just never see my mom. She wants to see me.”

Phoebe grasped his cock tighter, stroked him harder. “But I want you to spend the summer with me.”

Mulder gasped, and started panting again. “But I’ll be back at the end of June. We’ll have all of July and August together before classes start. But I guess I could go later in the year, maybe for Thanksgiving. Do you want me to cancel my ticket?”

“Yes.”

Mulder nodded. “Okay, I will.”

Phoebe once again devoured his cock with her mouth. Mulder soon felt his imminent release, and then she stopped and let go of him. Mulder groaned in frustration.

“How much do you love me, Mulder?”

Mulder was breathing hard. “I love you more than I’ve ever loved anyone.”

Phoebe smirked at him. “Do you love me enough to marry me?”

Mulder swallowed. Phoebe knew exactly how he felt about marriage and kids. He didn’t know what to say. He couldn’t think clearly. A wrong answer would send Phoebe right out the door, and Mulder desperately needed to come. But he spoke the truth, anyways. “I don’t want to ever be married, Phoebe. You know that.”

“But people change their minds all the time, Mulder. Wouldn’t you like being married to me? Wouldn’t you like to live with me?” Phoebe’s hand once again started stroking him.

Mulder groaned. “I… I’d like to live with you, yes. Maybe I’d get you all to myself for once.”

Phoebe smirked at him. “But I promised my father that I’d never live with a man unless we were married.”

Mulder didn’t know what to say to that. He sighed. “I’m never getting married, Phoebe.”

She stared at him hard, and then stood up. “I’m sure you can finish that yourself,” she snapped, before walking out of the living room and out his front door.

Two days later, after much deliberation and soul-searching, Mulder found Phoebe sitting in her favorite café and told her he would marry her. She threw her arms around him and kissed him passionately. Phoebe then took Mulder to a men’s clothing store and bought him a brand new suit. Mulder was shocked that Phoebe wanted to get married right away. He panicked, but then accepted the inevitable. What did it matter whether it was next week or six months from now? He wanted Phoebe badly, wanted to claim her as his own and chain her to him, so that she would stop disappearing on him, so that she would always be there when he wanted her, so that no one else could ever have her, ever take her away from him.

On Friday, May 24th, Mulder was sitting in the Oxford Register Office, dressed in his brand new charcoal gray suit, waiting for Phoebe to arrive and become his wife. He waited, and waited, and waited. She never came. He searched for her everywhere, called her phone, but she was nowhere to be found. Five days later, while Mulder was laying on his bed, drowning in misery, his phone rang.

“Hello.”

“Mulder, my love! How are you?”

He sat up, wiping the tears from his face. “Where the fuck are you?”

“I’m in Greece, darling.”

“Greece?! Why the hell are you in Greece?!”

“Oh, some old friends of mine showed up in town and had an extra ticket for me to go on holiday with them. I couldn’t pass up the opportunity. I love Greece.”

Mulder was in dumbfounded shock. “But… we were supposed to get married! I waited and waited for you.”

Phoebe started laughing. “Oh my God! You actually thought I was serious? Mulder, come on. How could you have taken me seriously? I have no intentions of getting married before I’m 30. I thought I’d told you that before.”

Mulder couldn’t wrap his brain around what she was saying. “But… the suit! And the dress! And the license!”

“Oh yeah, well I had to be absolutely sure that you really loved me enough to marry me. And now I know that you do, darling. Anyways, I thought I was only going to stay in Greece for a couple weeks, but we’re thinking of renting a house for the summer. Either way, I’ll see you back in Oxford before your next term starts. When do you leave for the States? Make sure you give my love to your mum.”

Mulder felt blind rage rising up in the pit of his stomach. “I’m not going back to the States, Phoebe. You wanted me to cancel my ticket, remember? So that I could spend the summer with you?”

Phoebe giggled. “Oh, that’s right. You did, didn’t you? Well, I guess you can buy another one. I’ll see you when I get back from Greece, probably some time in August.”

Mulder hurled the phone at the wall, smashing it to pieces. And that was the last time he spoke to Phoebe. She hadn’t shown her face in Oxford after that, she never came back. Mulder eventually heard through mutual friends that she’d gotten a position with Scotland Yard and moved to London.

… June 14, 1986

“You still haven’t told me what you’re doing here, Phoebe.”

She grinned at him. “I was in town seeing some friends. How could I leave without seeing you? Impossible!”

“Well, now you saw me. And now you can leave.”

“You don’t really want me to go, do you, Mulder?” Phoebe asked suggestively.

Mulder glared at her.

Phoebe glanced around to see Mulder’s packed bags. “Are you leaving? Where are you going?”

“I’m going home.”

“To America? Why?”

“Because that’s where I live.”

Phoebe chewed her bottom lip. “Did you get accepted to the FBI?”

“Of course,” Mulder replied dryly.

She stared at him. “I can see your arrogance is just as profound as ever.”

“Surprisingly. I guess it was one of the few things you didn’t crush.”

Phoebe laughed. “Don’t be so melodramatic, darling.”

Mulder glared at her. “So how was Greece?”

Phoebe sniffed and averted her eyes. “Greece was wonderful.” But then she turned a challenging look on Mulder. “The men are divine. Greek men are so passionate.”

Mulder felt rage bubbling to the surface. “Congratulations on being the biggest whore in Europe.”

Phoebe took two determined steps forward and slapped him, then threw her arms around Mulder’s neck and kissed him hard on the mouth. Mulder returned her kiss and hurriedly walked her into the bedroom, articles of clothing frantically discarded and thrown to the floor, before throwing her onto the bed.

When Mulder awoke the next morning to his 6:00 am alarm, there was a note from Phoebe on his bedside table.

“Good luck at the FBI. I’m sure you’ll solve all their three-pipe problems.

Phoebe”

Mulder crumpled the note in his hand, misery overcoming him once again.

*****

At 6:30 pm on Saturday, November 13th, the last of the shower guests departed Maggie Scully’s home. A total of 20 people had gathered in her living room for finger foods, cake, silly games, and the opening of gifts. After everyone had left, Scully had helped Jennifer load up the gifts into the trunk and back seat of her car. Once they returned inside, Scully made a big salad for their dinner, and they sat around the kitchen table talking and eating.

“Um, Mom, do you mind if I spend the night?” Scully asked.

Jennifer stared at Scully across the table. Maggie gave her daughter a look of surprise. “Of course I don’t mind. But, uh… is there something wrong, honey?”

Scully looked up from her salad. “Of course not. Why would something be wrong?”

Maggie looked at her contemplatively. “Dana, the only times you’ve spent the night here since med school, that didn’t involve Thanksgiving or Christmas, something was wrong. Has something happened?”

“No, Mom. Nothing. I just don’t feel like driving back to my apartment tonight. I’m tired. I didn’t get much sleep last night.”

Jennifer threw a mischievous glance at Scully, but Scully refused to look at her.

Later that night, after Maggie had gone to bed at 9:00, Scully and Jennifer sat on the couch.

“You didn’t have to stay just because I’m staying, Jennifer.”

Jennifer shook her head. “Charlie doesn’t like me driving at night anymore. It makes him nervous. He told me to come home in the morning.”

Scully nodded, and then looked at her hands in her lap.

Jennifer eyed her. “So, uh, what’s going on with Mulder?”

Scully looked up at her sister-in-law. “Nothing.”

“Then why are you here and not at home having hot sex with him?” Jennifer smirked.

Scully sighed. “I don’t know. I freaked out this morning and ran away. But it’s not as though that’s a surprise.”

“What did you freak out about?”

“I’m not really sure,” Scully replied. “I was just… scared, I guess.”

“What are you scared of?” Jennifer asked.

Scully sighed. “Everything? Getting what I want, not getting what I want.”

Jennifer smirked. “And what do you want?”

“I don’t even know anymore,” Scully replied, with a breathy laugh. “I don’t think I can see the forest through the trees.”

Jennifer scooched closer to Scully on the couch, and leaned against her. “This is a job for Melissa.”

Scully laughed. “Yeah.”

Jennifer giggled. “Remember when you were dating that one guy in college, Brendan? But you also liked his friend?”

“Kyle,” Scully replied.

Jennifer kept giggling. “Yeah, that was him. Remember when Melissa brought out her planetary stones and her crystals to help you choose which guy you liked best? And you left the room?”

Scully burst out laughing.

“Maybe you could use some crystals on Mulder,” Jennifer said. “I remember that amethyst attracts the male.”

Scully giggled. “I don’t think attracting him is a problem. Is there a crystal for the opposite?”

Jennifer laughed. “Probably. So you want him to give you some space, huh?”

Scully sighed. “No, not really. It’s not him. It’s me. I hate feeling like I’m losing control over myself. I just think spending some time away from him would be good right now.”

“Hmm…” Jennifer replied. “Sometimes it’s good to lose some control, Dana. Otherwise, how will you truly know what it’s like to feel free?”

“Free?” Scully asked skeptically.

Jennifer nodded. “Yeah. Free to have experiences you’ve never had before, to feel things you’ve never allowed yourself to.”

Scully sighed.

“What do you think Missy would say about you and Mulder?” Jennifer asked.

Scully smiled. “She always liked him. She even said that we were, uh, ‘cosmically connected.’”

“Wow, really?” Jennifer replied. “What is that, like, fate? Or something?”

“I don’t know, maybe,” Scully giggled. “If only she were here. She could bring out her crystals and explain it to us.”

“I bet Missy would wonder why the hell you were sitting on this couch instead of cosmically connecting yourself with Mulder,” Jennifer laughed. She then sighed. “I miss her.”

Scully leaned her head against Jennifer’s shoulder. “Me too.”

*****

Mulder lay down on his couch, with the TV on in the background, staring up at his ceiling and thinking. He didn’t like the way Scully left that morning. Sometimes he felt like they would take two steps forward and then three steps back. She would open up to him, and then close down. He didn’t know what to make of it.

Phoebe had completely mindfucked him. After her, the simplicity of his relationship with Diana was a welcome relief. It wasn’t complicated, it was like every other romantic relationship he’d seen in the movies or read about in books. Clichéd, almost. Diana told him every day, several times a day that she loved him. But looking back, there were little things she said or did that raised small red flags in his mind, which he ignored. She ended up leaving him, too. And now he knew their relationship was most likely a complete sham.

So what did he actually expect from Scully? He didn’t know. He had no idea what her past relationships were like. He didn’t know if she had been closed off to everyone she was ever with, or just especially with him. Maybe that’s just who she was. But her actions left him feeling confused. He could feel her love and affection for him when they were alone, their bodies joined, but at other times she shut him out.

Padgett seemed to think she was in love with him, but outside the bedroom she didn’t really act like it. So was she? Then again, did he even know what it really felt like to be loved? He sometimes felt overwhelmed by powerful emotions when having sex with Scully, but he knew sex and love are two very different things. He had no desire to buy Scully jewelry or dresses or send her a dozen roses. He could imagine her face if he did, and he didn’t think those things would be readily accepted.

Mulder then started panicking, and could feel anxiety flood his stomach. What if she did want those things, but didn’t want to tell him she did? What if she really is in love with him? Would she want him to marry her? He's not cut out to be a husband. What if the next IVF attempt actually worked? And she had a baby? Would she want them to get married? Live together and be a family? What if he's a horrible father? A horrible husband? What if he came home to find her and the kid gone? What if they wound up divorced, like his miserable parents? Or what if he agreed to getting married, but she changed her mind? What if she decided she didn’t really want to marry him? What if he's left there waiting and waiting, but she never showed? But would they even allow it? How could they even get married? What if they started spying on them? It would be too dangerous. Cancer Man could come for her, and take her. Oh, God. What if he took the kid? He could lose Scully, or the kid. It would be just like Samantha all over again. How could he ever live with himself?

But then the paranoid, anxious thoughts that had been storming in his mind subsided. What was the point in worrying about all that? None of it would most likely happen. He was getting himself worked up for nothing. Did he need to think about what would happen years from now? Mulder never used to. He always lived in the present. He needed to stop dwelling on things that would probably never transpire. This thing with Scully, at the present, was pretty damn good. Why mess it all up with worrying about something as esoteric as love and something as temporary as marriage?

Mulder got up off the couch and went in search of his shoes. He knew Scully said she was busy tonight, but he assumed she'd be home by now. He needed to see her. Suddenly there was a knock at his door, and Mulder glanced at his watch; it was 11:21 pm. He walked over and opened his door to see Scully standing there in black pants and her black jacket.

“Scully! I thought I wasn’t going to see you tonight.”

Scully glanced nervously at her feet, and then pulled Mulder’s handgun out of her coat pocket. “Uh, yeah, I know. But I was driving home from my mother’s house, and I realized I still had your gun. So I thought I’d stop by and return it.”

Mulder grinned at her, taking the gun and holster from her. “But you could’ve given it to me at more convenient time. You didn’t have to bring it over here so late at night.”

“Oh, I know. But I was on my way home, so it wasn’t a big deal.”

He kept grinning at her. “Do you… wanna come in?”

Scully bit her bottom lip, fighting a smile. “Uh… sure.”

Mulder stepped aside and she walked through the door into the apartment. Once he closed and locked the door, setting the gun down on his table, he walked up behind Scully, wrapping his arms around her waist, and then unzipped her jacket.

“You know, Scully,” Mulder whispered. “You don’t need to make up excuses for coming over here.”

Scully blushed as Mulder removed her jacket down her shoulders and off her arms, tossing it over onto the table. He then started walking her toward his bedroom door, unbuttoning and unzipping her pants as he kissed her neck. Scully lifted her arm up to run her fingers through Mulder’s hair. When they reached the door, Scully opened it and they walked across the threshold, Mulder sliding his hand down the front of Scully’s pants and entwining his fingers into her auburn curls.

“What do you want, Scully?” Mulder whispered into her ear.

“I want you to make me come, Mulder.”

He then shut the bedroom door behind them.

Chapter Text

Late on Tuesday afternoon, November 16th, Mulder and Scully had headed back from Pittsfield, Virginia with a closed case. On Monday morning, they’d met Chuck Burks in their basement office and with his help they were able to assign colors to the police video tape of the evidence room. The blur, to Scully’s relief, was not an actual poltergeist, but was a solid figure that cast a shadow and with the help of Chuck Burks, was assigned the familiar Adams High School colors of purple and yellow, like that of the varsity jacket Chastity Raines wore. Chastity Raines’ boyfriend, and Tony Reed’s friend, Max Harden, son of Sheriff Harden was eventually found to be the actual killer of Deputy Ron Foster.

On Monday, he’d also invariably murdered his teacher, Mr. Babbitt, in the middle of the crowded school cafeteria without anyone actually seeing him do it, and then ended up in the hospital with exhaustion and signs of extreme damage to his tissue, including concussions, stress fractures, and even arthritis. Later that day he’d also attacked his father after disappearing from the hospital. Once again, Mulder’s theory was proved true, as Max seemingly had been able to tap into a paranormal ability of super speed supposedly caused by some kind of atmospheric anomaly inside a cave in the woods outside town. In a tragic turn of events, both Max and Chastity were found in the cave on Monday evening, victims of an apparent murder-suicide. And, as per usual, no proof of this anomaly was actually found and the U.S. Geological Survey team didn’t find anything out of the ordinary within the cave, but filled it with concrete anyways “for precautionary reasons.”

Once they reached Alexandria, it was after 6:00 pm and so they stopped for dinner at Ripley’s on Diamond Street, near the river. The bar, situated between a grocery store and a dress shop, had no windows or visible signage from the street, and so it was perfect for Mulder. He also thought it was a perfect place to bring Scully. Scully thought it had a pretty decent menu for a bar.

Once they seated themselves in a small crescent booth in a dark corner in the back, sitting next to each other, Mulder ordered a burger and fries while Scully got her usual veggie basket, a basket of golden fried broccoli, cauliflower, mushrooms, and zucchini with horseradish sauce for dipping. Mulder hadn’t been in a particularly good mood the past couple days, and Scully was thankful the case was over with and that Mulder would no longer have to roam high school hallways alongside obnoxious teenagers.

After they’d finished their meal in mostly comfortable silence, they lingered at the table, in no real hurry to leave. Soon a confusing din filled the bar as other patrons filed in and took up seats at the bar stools and other tables. Mulder slid himself closer to Scully and put his left arm up on the seat behind her. Scully turned to look at him and her eyes met his, gazing moonily at her. His arm bent and he sunk his left hand into her hair, before gently guiding her head forward as his head bent down towards her face.

“Mulder, what are you doing?” Scully demanded, leaning back away from him.

He sighed. “Scully, come on…”

She stared at him. “We are in public, Mulder.”

He was still gazing at her. “We’re in a dimly lit bar. I want to kiss you. What’s the worst that could happen?”

Scully gave him an incredulous look. “Can you not see the bar is full of people around us? Weren’t you the one who was just going on about how important it is for us to keep this a secret? How we can’t even leave our cars parked outside each other’s apartments overnight too often? How dangerous it would be if people found out?”

Mulder sighed, and moved his arm back down from the booth behind her. “Fine.”

A stony, frustrated silence pervaded the table. Then Scully’s cell phone rang.

“Scully.”

“Hi Dana. It’s Latoya.”

“Oh, hi Latoya. How’re you?”

She sighed. “Um, not that great. My husband’s father died this morning unexpectedly.”

“Oh no, I’m so sorry,” said Scully sadly.

“Thanks. We’re going to be leaving tonight for Mississippi and won’t be back until after Thanksgiving.”

“Okay. Do you need me to help you out at Quantico?” Scully asked. Mulder turned to look at her.

“Yeah, that’s why I was calling,” Latoya replied. “I was able to get most of my days covered for the rest of this week, but I’ll need some coverage for next week. Most of the other pathologists are going out of state for the holiday, and I know your family lives in the area. Or, well, unless you were planning on going to San Diego for Thanksgiving?”

“No, no. I’ll be staying around here. What days do you need me to cover?”

“Would you be able to cover my classes on Monday and Tuesday and the office on Wednesday?”

“Sure,” Scully replied. “Not a problem.”

“Thanks, Dana. You’re awesome. But look, if Agent Mulder ends up having a case, don’t hesitate to call George and tell him you can’t cover my duties. He’ll work it out.”

“Okay.”

“Thanks again, Dana,” Latoya said. “I owe you one.”

“Anytime. Tell Derek that I’m so sorry about his dad.”

“He’ll appreciate that. He’s taking it pretty hard. Okay, well I should go and finish packing. I’ll see you when I get back. Maybe we can go out for lunch or something.”

“Sounds good,” Scully replied.

“Okay, bye,” Latoya concluded, before Scully hung up the phone.

She turned to look at Mulder. “I’ll be working at Quantico for a few days next week, Monday through Wednesday.”

He nodded.

“Well, unless we get a case,” Scully added.

Mulder nodded again. “Okay. You ready to go?”

“Yeah,” Scully replied. “Listen, you don’t have to drive me all the way back to D.C. I’ll take a taxi.”

He gave her a mildly surprised look. “I don’t mind, Scully.”

“I know, Mulder. But we’re already in Alexandria. I’m not going to make you drive into D.C., and then drive back home. I’ll take a cab, okay?”

He stared at her. “Okay, fine.”

Scully hailed a taxi outside the bar and after a brief tense goodbye to Mulder, hopped in and headed towards headquarters to collect her car from the FBI’s parking garage. On her drive home to Georgetown, she felt confused about what had happened at the bar, why frustration and tension had crept back into their interaction, why she and Mulder were now looking at a night spent apart. A little while later, after showering and changing into casual clothes, she really didn’t want to be sitting around her apartment by herself. So she grabbed her jacket off the coat rack and her purse, went down to her car, and drove back to Alexandria.

*****

As Mulder sat on his couch, he wondered what had happened back at Ripley’s. What was he thinking trying to kiss Scully in a room full of people? Especially a bar that he used to frequent pretty often, a bar where at least one person would be bound to recognize him. At least Trudy didn’t work there anymore and they stopped playing that creepy alien-like background music whenever he walked through the door. Still, it was likely that someone there would know who he was.

Scully had been right. They had just had the conversation again over the weekend, when she’d left her car parked outside his apartment building, about how important it is that they’re careful to not draw undue attention to themselves. And yet, there he was, putting his hand in Scully’s hair, leaning down to kiss her, wanting to thread her hand with his, wanting to tell her how beautiful she was, right in the middle of a crowded bar. What was he thinking?

He hadn’t been thinking. Or, well, all he’d been thinking about was Scully. There were times when he still felt like something was lacking between them. This thing between them was really good, and yet Mulder couldn’t help but think that it could be even better. But how exactly it could, he wasn’t entirely sure. But he did know that he felt palpable disappointment, and increasing frustration, whenever his attempts to show Scully some affection outside the bedroom were firmly rebuffed.

Suddenly there was a knock on his door and Mulder checked his watch; 8:48 pm. He got up and looked through the peephole, then sighed and smiled to himself before opening the door.

“Hey,” he said.

“Hi,” Scully replied, sighing.

Mulder noticed that she had an apologetic air about her, and her eyes looked regretful. “So what brings you down here?”

Scully shrugged. “You.”

He nodded, giving her a half smile. He then watched her step closer towards him in the doorway and raise her arms up slightly to wrap around his waist, hugging his body against hers.

She looked up into his face. “Do you still want to kiss me?”

Mulder smiled down at her. “Always.”

He bent his head down, wrapping his arms around Scully’s shoulders while she lifted herself up on her tip toes, and pressed his lips against hers, kissing her softly. Not long after that, they were in his bed kissing passionately, clothes in a pile on his bedroom floor. Mulder sat up on his knees, spreading his legs, and pulled Scully down towards him, bringing her legs up and over his hips as she lied on her back. He then grasped the base of his hard cock and rubbed its engorged head up and down her wet slit, circling her swollen clit. She squirmed against him, panting.

“Stop teasing me, Mulder.”

He grinned at her. “I’m not teasing. I’m just getting you warmed up.”

“I’m warmed up already. I'm beyond warmed up.”

Mulder laughed. As he slid his erection into her wet, glistening folds, prodding her entrance, the phone rang.

“Don’t you dare answer that,” Scully warned.

He hesitated. “But it could be important. It might be a case.”

Scully glared at him, but Mulder reached over to the bedside table and hit the speaker phone button on the base holding his cordless phone.

“Hello,” he said, smirking down at her icy stare.

“Hi, Fox. It’s Maggie.”

Mulder and Scully stared at each other, eyes wide. He watched her cover her face with her hands, shaking her head. He grinned down at her.

“Uh, hi Mrs. Scully. To what do I owe this pleasure?” While saying these words, Mulder thrust his hard cock into Scully’s cunt, sheathing himself inside her.

Her eyes flew open in shock and she gasped, before covering her mouth with her hand. Mulder brought his forefinger to his mouth, giving her a look of phony admonishment, and motioned her to be quiet. Scully shook her head at him, taking her hand way, and silently mouthed “I’m going to kill you.” His eyes glinted down at her.

“I was wondering if you’d like to come over for Thanksgiving,” Mrs. Scully replied. “I figured you’d be spending the holiday with your own family, but Jennifer suggested that I invite you anyways.”

Mulder watched Scully bring her hand up to cover her face, rolling her eyes and shaking her head.

“Uh, well, Mrs. Scully, I had been thinking of going up to Connecticut for Thanksgiving, but those plans weren’t definite,” Mulder replied, slowly sliding his cock out of Scully’s cunt until only the engorged head remained inside, and then forcefully thrusting his length back in. Scully once again stared at Mulder in shock, throwing her hands up to hit him, but he grasped her arms and brought them over her head, holding her wrists tight with his left hand and hovered over her. She struggled to free herself, but it was useless.

“Are you all right, Fox?” Maggie asked.

Mulder smirked down at Scully. “Yeah, I’m good, Mrs. Scully. I’ve, uh, just got you on speaker phone because I kind of got my hands full at the moment.”

She stared daggers at him. Mulder, still holding Scully’s wrists with his left hand, reached his right hand down to rub her clit, causing Scully to gasp and then purse her lips, her facial features contorting and her eyes slamming shut.

“Okay, well we’d really like to have you here for Thanksgiving dinner,” Maggie replied. “Especially Charlie. He said another guy would be sorely needed around the house.”

Mulder chuckled, continuing to slowly thrust his cock in and out of Scully’s wet cunt, circling her clit with his fingers. “Yeah, I’m sure. Well, if I don’t end up going to Connecticut, Mrs. Scully, I’ll definitely take you up on your offer.”

“Okay, great,” Maggie said. “You can just tell Dana if you decide to come or not, and she’ll let me know.”

Mulder watched Scully’s eyes open to look at him, and he grinned down at her. “Okay, I will definitely tell Dana if I’m coming, Mrs. Scully.”

She glared at him, squinting her eyes and shaking her head. Mulder pressed harder on her clit, causing her to gasp again and bite her bottom lip.

“Good,” Maggie replied. “I hope you have a nice night.”

“Oh, I will. Same to you.” Mulder reached over to the base of his cordless phone and pressed the end button.

“You are a sick man!” Scully exclaimed, half-laughing, as he released her wrists, and she started slapping him.

Mulder was laughing. He then reclaimed her wrists and again held them tight with his left hand, holding them above her head, hovering over her, his lips inches from hers, and gazing intensely into her eyes. “You know you love it.”

Scully was breathing hard, her chest heaving under Mulder's restraint. He snaked his right hand between them and resumed his ministrations on her engorged clit as he thrust his hard cock into the tight, wet walls of her cunt until she was moaning beneath him, her clenching muscles and the sound of his name on her lips bringing him to orgasm, and he felt the ecstasy of filling her cunt with copious spurts of his hot seed.

*****

On Sunday, November 21st, Mulder was sitting on Scully’s couch watching the New York Giants at Washington Redskins football game. She was busy with chores around the apartment. Earlier her mother had called her about using her large crockpot for Thanksgiving, and so Scully grabbed a chair from her kitchen table and carried it out to the hallway. She opened the door to her hall closet, and moved the chair to the inside of the doorway. She then stood on her tip toes to reach for the crockpot on the top shelf.

Mulder walked into the hallway to stand next to her. “Scully, why didn’t you just ask me to get it?”

“Because I can get it myself,” she replied, as she grabbed hold of one of the handles.

“Yeah, but it would’ve been so much easier to just ask me for help. Let me get it for you.”

Scully sighed. “Mulder, I’ve got it. I don’t need you to take care of me.”

He stared at her, shaking his head. “Wow. Okay, then.”

As she started to pull the crockpot off the shelf, some bags fell to the floor. Out of a small white and silver gift bag fell a hot pink vibrator. Mulder and Scully froze, staring at it. She pursed her lips, her face reddening. He reached down and picked it up. It was six inches long and about an inch and a half wide. It was also still in its original package and had never been opened.

He looked up at her, still standing on the chair, staring down at him wide-eyed.

“Scully, why…”

“Mulder, I didn’t buy it,” she interrupted him, speaking fast. “It was a gag gift. A friend of mine from Quantico got married a couple years ago, and I went to her bridal shower. And, uh, I was given… that… in the gift bag. I didn’t buy it myself, Mulder.”

He nodded, grinning at her. “That’s not what I was going to ask. Why haven’t you used it?”

Scully opened her mouth to respond but then closed it, her face becoming even redder. Mulder was looking at her expectantly. “I, uh, I guess it just didn’t appeal to me. Those… things… just seem like poor substitutions for the real thing. I have no inclination to use it.”

Mulder nodded, twitching his mouth slightly. He bent over to pick up the gift bag, putting the packaged vibrator inside, along with the other bags that had fallen, and handed them to Scully. She turned to set the bags back on the shelf. Mulder wondered why she’d even bothered keeping the vibrator, if she was so against using it. An idea then briefly floated across his mind. He walked over closer to her, feeling her tense up, and reached up to take the crockpot off the shelf for her. He then carried it into the kitchen, setting it on the table before returning to the living room and football, leaving an embarrassed Scully standing on the chair staring after him.

On Wednesday afternoon, November 24th, Scully was sitting in an office at the Quantico Pathology Department, working on her laptop when the AOL Instant Messenger icon beeped and flashed at her from the lower right corner of her screen. She sighed. Mulder must be bored again. He’d excitedly installed the instant messenger on her laptop on Saturday night, and over the past couple days she’d return from classes to read the various messages he’d sent her about something he’d read in an X-File or some random idea or theory he wanted to talk about.

She opened the message.

[Hey Scully, what are you wearing?]

She rolled her eyes, and started typing.

[A white lab coat, Mulder. I’m busy, and I’m sure there are other things you should be doing.]

He grinned at her reply.

[Come on, Scully. All work and no play makes for a dull basement. You know that. Anyways, I’m always up for abusing FBI resources.]

She chuckled.

[So what else is new? Like last week when you were looking at that site on the office computer. Wait until the IT department catches it. You’re in for it.

Mulder, if there’s something you really want to talk to me about, just call me on the phone. I don’t see the need for playing. Also, I’m busy.]

He rolled his eyes.

[Scully, I was not looking at that site. It came in my email and I accidentally opened it instead of deleting it. And do you know who it is that sends me those emails? The guys in the IT department.

But you know how men love their toys, Scully. This isn’t fun?]

She sighed.

[But why do we have to play with toys, Mulder? What’s so great about chatting through a screen? If there’s something people need to talk about, face to face is best. If that isn’t possible, then listening to each other’s voices is the next best option. I don’t see how words on a screen can have the same effect.]

He chuckled, glad that he’d at least drawn Scully into a debate.

[It’s not about having the same effect. It’s about adding another form of communication to the list.

Besides, toys are fun.]

Scully sighed.

[I don’t see the point, Mulder. This whole online chatting thing is a poor substitute for real communication.

And as for toys being fun, I’m an adult and have had no use for toys since I was a child. I prefer the real thing.]

He rolled his eyes.

[The point is that sometimes it is easier to communicate through the written word. It can be easier to say things that you normally would be embarrassed about or afraid to say in person, or even on the phone.]

Scully felt butterflies fill her stomach. Where was he going with this? Another message appeared on her screen before she could reply.

[Anyways, toys aren’t a substitute for the real thing. They only serve to enhance the real thing.]

She stared at the screen, her face reddening.

[Mulder, what are we talking about?]

He gave the screen a puzzled look.

[What do you mean, Scully? We’re talking about different forms of communication. What do you think we’re talking about?]

She covered her face with her hand, sighing and shaking her head.

Mulder re-read their conversation, realization dawning across his features as his eyes bulged and his eyebrows raised as high as they could go. He waited patiently for her response. The conversation had suddenly turned way more interesting.

[Mulder, I have to go. George is on his way down here to get an autopsy report. I’m spending the night at my mother’s house tonight, so I won’t see you. Are you still coming over for Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow?]

He sighed, feeling disappointed. He wanted their chat to continue. It wasn’t likely that he’d get her on this same topic again.

[Yes, Scully. I’ll be there. See you tomorrow.]

The office phone started ringing, and he picked it up.

“Mulder.”

“Goodbye, Mulder,” said Scully. “See? Isn’t my voice better?”

He smiled into the phone, sighing. “Yes, yes it is. Goodbye, Scully.”

Chapter Text

Thursday morning, November 25th, Thanksgiving, wasn’t shaping up to be a very good one for Scully. She’d awoken in her old bedroom at her mother’s house in Alexandria to the most unexpectedly unwelcome arrival of her menstrual period. Thankfully, after searching through the closet in the upstairs bathroom, she’d found the box of tampons she’d put there over a year ago. At first, this set of circumstances only proved to be mildly annoying. But as she was showering and getting dressed for the day, things like IVF and Dr. Parenti, and Mulder, and the numerous implications this arrival might produce filled her mind like a storm of anxiety.

As she sat on her bed, procrastinating her descent into the kitchen downstairs, her mind raced. Not once since that Sunday afternoon on her couch after the banquet had they discussed anything having to do with Dr. Parenti and IVF attempts. Did she want to try IVF again? Yes, deep down she knew she did. But could she bring herself to broach the subject again with Mulder? Their relationship was not what it had been the first time around.

By asking him again to help her get pregnant, what was she really asking him? To be a parent? How could she ask that of him? And if not, if she was to make it clear that she really just wanted his… donation, would that be insensitive or hurtful? Wouldn’t this just induce uncomfortable conversations about what was going on between them? Did she really want to sit through the “Define the Relationship” talk with Mulder? Wouldn’t this put her in that clichéd nagging-woman position and put Mulder on the defensive? At least one of them would be bound to be misunderstood or, even worse, hurt. Her guts churned just at the thought. She didn’t want to define it. Why did it need a label, or some official status? It was fine just the way it was.

But was it? Really? What does she have with Mulder, exactly? Is this really what she wanted; a never ending pattern of the X-Files and sex, without any progression towards anything else? Couldn’t this eventually turn stagnate as well if there was no change? She still lived alone, technically, even though they spend most nights together. Didn’t she want a home to share? A life to share? Maybe if her heart had chosen someone more… rooted. But she could never ask Mulder to be anything other than who he is, and right now she couldn’t really picture a future where they shared the same home and enjoyed something resembling a normal life. Isn’t that what a child would need? Stability? Constancy? What kind of life could she give a child? Was she herself prepared to leave the X-Files and work with Mulder behind? Could she truly even ask Mulder to put down his life’s work, his life’s purpose, just so she could have a baby? She wasn’t sure if she could.

And what if all that messy, complicated relationship talk stuff was avoided? How would a pregnancy affect their dynamic? Mulder would no longer be her priority; he’d take the back seat. Would Mulder willingly relegate himself? Did she really want him to? This thing between them was so brand new, and they were still learning things about one another. Was she ready for it to change so soon? Is this something they were both even prepared for? Mentally or emotionally? Mulder had rarely, if ever, over the years mentioned any real desire for a family of his own. He was wrapped up in the work. If she did become pregnant, would he suddenly realize that he wasn’t cut out for it? Would he retreat? Return to his solitary existence? She didn’t want to give up what she now had with Mulder. She didn’t want to lose what she’d gained.

As Scully made her way downstairs to join her mother in the kitchen, to start preparing Thanksgiving dinner, she was seriously contemplating keeping the arrival of her menstrual cycle a secret from Mulder and devising ways to keep him at bay until it had passed.

At 11:00 am Charlie, Jennifer, and their boys arrived at the house after driving down from Baltimore. Ben and Jack set up their Nintendo 64 in the living room to play their brand new Donkey Kong video game with Charlie, until 12:30 when the early NFL football game would kick off. Jennifer joined Maggie and Scully in the kitchen where they were preparing pre-Thanksgiving dinner appetizers for lunch. Just after 11:30, Jennifer’s parents, Jim and Meghan, arrived, along with her brother Jamie and sister-in-law Ryan, and their daughter Charlotte.

Jim, Jamie, and Charlotte joined Charlie and the boys in the living room. While Maggie was sitting at the kitchen table talking with Meghan and Ryan, and at the same time spreading the white bean, garlic and rosemary mixture over the toasted baguette slices, Scully and Jennifer were standing over by the stove preparing the apple and butternut squash soup.

Scully glanced over at the table, seeing the other women engrossed in conversation, then turned back to Jennifer and gave her a pinch at her side, keeping her voice low. “Thanks a lot for convincing Mom to invite Mulder.”

“Hey!” Jennifer winced, and then grinned at Scully. “What? You don’t want him here?”

She sighed. “I don’t know. Just the thought of us all here, and then Mulder being here too… it just seems really…”

“Domestic,” Jennifer concluded.

Scully let out a nervous laugh. “Um, maybe. I don’t know how I feel about that. It’s very strange.”

“At least Bill isn’t here,” Jennifer smirked. “Things could’ve gotten really uncomfortable.”

Scully sighed. “Yeah. But maybe if he was, Mulder would’ve stayed away.”

“Well, you’re in a fine mood today,” Jennifer teased.

She sighed again.

Jennifer eyed her. “Has something happened since the last time we talked? Are things not going well between you two?”

“No, no,” Scully replied. “Everything’s the same. Nothing’s happened.”

“Hmm. Then I don't see why you wouldn't want him here. Maybe you two aren’t, uh, ‘comically connecting’ enough,” Jennifer said, winking at her.

Scully stared. “We’re connecting plenty, believe me.”

Jennifer giggled. Scully rolled her eyes and shook her head, smirking at her.

They finished up the soup on the stove and pulled the sausage stuffed mushrooms out of the oven, while Meghan fixed her spinach and artichoke dip and Ryan heated up her crunchy sweet Brussels sprout salad in the microwave, and Maggie began setting the dining room table for Thanksgiving dinner. Just before 12:30, as they started to bring out the appetizers to the large coffee table in the living room, the doorbell rang. Scully stood looking at the door for some seconds and then turned around to walk resolutely back to the kitchen as Charlie went to answer it, Jennifer staring after her with knitted brows.

*****

After Mulder entered the house and shook hands with Charlie and the other guys in the living room, and receiving an especially warm welcome from Charlie’s two boys, he walked into the kitchen to say hello to the ladies of the house. Maggie, Jennifer, Meghan, and Ryan all turned beaming smiles in his direction as he entered the kitchen and the sound of several “Fox!” exclamations greeted him, Jennifer being the only one to address him as “Mulder.”

“Hey,” Scully said to him as she turned from her spot at the counter to look at him, and then quickly turned her back on him to continue peeling potatoes.

“Uh… hey Scully,” Mulder replied, not knowing quite what to make of her demeanor.

He stood there staring at her back, noticing her light blue sweater and dark jeans hugging her figure, until he saw that the other women were eyeing him and glancing between him and Scully. Mulder then turned around after a quick nod of his head in their direction, and went back to the living room. For the next few hours, the guys watched the Dallas Cowboys and Miami Dolphins game in the living room. The kids had quickly lost interest in the television and got out some board games to play on the floor.

Also over the course of the afternoon, Mulder had a distinct sensation of déjà vu, but couldn’t quite place it. He’d get glances of Scully walking between the kitchen and the dining room, and occasionally he’d hear the sound of her voice carry, especially her laugh, which made him smile to himself. But not once did she enter the living room. Towards the end of the game, Mulder could place the déjà vu sensation: it was eerily similar to the morning after Scully learned of the IVF results, the morning after their first night together. Scully was once again spending a lot of time in rooms other than the one he was sitting in. She also hadn’t spoken a word to him other than her brief greeting in the kitchen hours earlier.

Mulder wondered if she was feeling embarrassed about their IM conversation yesterday. It had been innocent enough, but she’d obviously taken a particular meaning from it that he hadn’t intended. He hoped that she didn’t think he was going to push the issue. She obviously wasn’t comfortable talking about it, and Mulder certainly wasn’t going to force her to. He’d have to think of another way to introduce the topic down the road.

“Hey Ryan, can I get a drink?” Jamie called out from the couch.

“Sure you can, sweetie,” Ryan called back. “The refrigerator’s in here.”

Mulder could hear laughter erupt from the kitchen as Jamie sighed and shook his head, getting up off the couch. Mulder chuckled. Once Jamie left the living room, Charlie and Jim started laughing. They too also stood up and went into the kitchen, and soon all three returned with beers in hand. Scully then walked into the living room carrying a beer and handed it to Mulder, before turning a glare in Charlie’s direction.

“Uh, thanks Scully,” Mulder said, before she nodded and walked back into the kitchen.

Charlie looked at his older sister, and then turned to Mulder. “Sorry, man. I should’ve offered.”

Mulder waved his hand. “Not a problem.”

“How do you get such service?” Jamie quipped at him.

Mulder shrugged, grinning as he took a tip of his beer.

“Probably because you ain’t married,” Jamie again quipped.

The other guys laughed, but Mulder didn’t really know how to respond to that.

At 5:00 pm, after Maggie and Scully had inserted two additional leaves into the dining room table, all 12 of the Scullys, Delaneys, and Mulder sat down to Thanksgiving dinner. The table held the large 20-pound turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, gravy, and green bean casserole, mashed sweet potatoes with apple butter, cranberry sauce, and yeast rolls. Over on the hutch was a pumpkin pie, apple pie, and cherry pie.

Maggie sat Mulder at one end of the table, with Scully sitting crosswise on his right, and Charlie at the other end. To Mulder’s surprise, everyone reached out to hold hands around the table. He looked down to see Scully holding her open palm towards him, and when he looked to his left, he saw Mrs. Scully doing the same. Mulder reached out and took their hands in his. Charlie then said grace. When he finished, Mulder was again surprised that everyone was still holding hands.

“Okay, I’ll go first,” said Maggie. But then after noticing the slightly puzzled expression on Mulder’s face, she explained. “Let’s all go around and say what we’re especially thankful for this year.”

Mulder nodded. He hadn’t celebrated Thanksgiving since 1990, with Diana and her mother and his parents. What a god-awful day that had been. They certainly hadn’t held hands around the table or spoke of being thankful for anything. In the few years before that, he had usually found ways to prevent having to go with Diana to her mother's house for Thanksgiving and Christmas. Mulder always requested to work the holidays, whether it was at the BSU or a high profile case with Violent Crimes. He then supposed that his last real Thanksgiving had been before his parents’ divorce. In the years since then, the divorce prevented any real family gatherings and when Mulder became an adult, he sought to avoid them as much as possible. Mulder then suddenly realized that at his last real Thanksgiving, Samantha had been present. It had been just a few days before her abduction.

After Maggie spoke of being thankful for her healthy children and grandchildren, plus yet another one on the way, Meghan Delaney went next, and the other family members continued reciting their thankfulness clockwise around the table. At some point, Mulder stopped paying attention and started staring at Scully until her head turned and their eyes locked. Mulder knew exactly what he was thankful for, but he also knew he couldn’t speak it out loud in that room. He then started to softly rub his thumb in circles on the back of her hand. Scully squeezed his hand tighter, gazing at him. A hundred unspoken words passed between them.

Then it was Scully’s turn.

She cleared her throat. “Well, I’m thankful for my health and that I’m another year cancer-free. I’m thankful for my family, which has increased in even greater number this year since I finally have some nieces.”

Jennifer, sitting on Scully’s right, gave her hand a squeeze.

Scully turned to look at her. “I’m thankful for my sister Jennifer and how she always knows exactly what to say when I need to hear it.”

Jennifer smiled, and winked at her.

“I’m thankful for… the amazing things I’ve been able to see and do this year, things I never would have been able to experience if not for Mulder. So… I’m even more thankful to have Mulder in my life, and that he allowed me to go on his journey with him. It, uh, expanded my horizons.”

She gave his hand a squeeze, and he smiled at her. He knew Scully wasn’t one to get sentimental, nor was she one to talk about feelings, but he could read between the lines.

Everyone then turned expectant looks on Mulder, and he froze. He hadn’t thought at all about what he was going to say.

“Um… well, I’m thankful to be alive. There were a few times this year when the chances of that seemed very slim.”

Mulder watched as everyone around the table adopted serious expressions as they looked at him.

“But that’s every year, am I right, Scully?” Mulder quipped.

She smirked at him while the others laughed, and Mulder was grateful to have broken the serious atmosphere.

“Um… I’m thankful for Mrs. Scully and how she always tries to include me in these Scully family gatherings, even though I typically resist.”

More chuckling could be heard around the table as Maggie gave him a big smile.

“And, uh, I’m very thankful for Scully. She’s the reason I’m sitting here, alive. And, uh, she’s the best friend I could’ve ever asked for.”

He turned to see Scully gazing at him, her eyes twinkling. Everyone gave one final squeeze of their hands around the table, Mrs. Scully saying “time for the love squeeze,” and then they started to dig in to the meal. Mulder suddenly felt a lump growing in his throat and he blinked back tears.

Chapter Text

At just past 9:00 pm, Mulder departed Mrs. Scully’s house after a brief goodbye with Scully. She could tell that he’d searched her face, as if trying to determine whether he would see her later or not, but he departed the house with a slightly confused expression. Scully knew she’d kept herself unreadable. In all honesty, it was because she didn’t know the answer herself. Should she just go home? It would be fairly easy to stay away from Mulder tonight. But what about the weekend? How could she possibly give a believable reason for why she couldn’t spend the night with him without telling him the truth?

Should she pack a bag and leave town for a few days? No, she couldn’t. Mulder would just wonder why he wasn’t going with her, why she wanted to go away without him. Should she pretend that she’s sick? So she could convince Mulder to stay away from her the whole weekend? As Scully sat in her car in her mother’s driveway, she sighed. She didn’t want to lie. Mulder would see right through it anyways.

The anxiety was eating away at her. Did Mulder really and truly want to father a child? Would he seriously want to trade in the X-Files for bottles and diapers? Scully couldn’t imagine it. She had no idea how she could even ask him to. Although maybe he would, if she did ask him to. He might be willing to do it out of loyalty and obligation. But would he just end up resenting her? What would he even do with himself without the X-Files, without his work? Mulder would be at sea, she knew he would. How could she do that to him?

She’d asked him, earlier in the year just before the onslaught of his illness, what they were even doing anymore with the X-Files, what was the point of it. Mulder had won. He’d beaten them, those men in the dark underbelly of the government who’d performed heinous crimes against innocent people, who’d done their damnedest to make her and Mulder’s life hell. He’d uncovered their secrets, exposed them. And they were now dead and gone, and their conspiracy with them. So what could Mulder still possibly be hoping to accomplish? The one thing he’d set out to accomplish from the very beginning, the one thing he’d bared his soul to her about in that motel room in Oregon over six and a half years ago: he was still looking for his sister.

Deep down, Scully knew that Mulder would never find her. Samantha was most likely dead. Scully knew it. She’d always known it. But she’d never had the heart to voice this out loud. She still didn’t. Scully knew she couldn’t browbeat Mulder into accepting the inevitable; she could never force him to stop looking for his sister. But at the same time, wasn’t it in Mulder’s best interest, in the long run, to let go of this obsession? This was something that had been driving him since he was 12 years old, since those first few weeks after Samantha’s abduction when Mulder rode his bicycle around his neighborhood ringing doorbells and asking everyone if they’d seen her, the weeks he’d spent making “Missing” posters handwritten with a black marker, the weeks he’d spent confused and hurt that his parents didn’t look for her at all. Bill Mulder was cold and stoical, while Teena Mulder had collapsed into herself in grief, like a dying star. In many ways, Mulder was still that 12 year old child, desperately searching for his sister and wondering why no one else was.

Maybe she should just do it; have “The Talk”; just hurry up and get it over with, like ripping off a Band-Aid. If Mulder freaked out and retreated, if things were to return to what they had been before, well it was best it happened right now instead of later on. It’s not like this thing between them was destined to last forever. The end would hurt way more later on. If it happened now, she was almost sure she could survive it. She could chalk this thing between them up to temporary tension relief and lack of impulse control, and they could just pretend like it had never happened. As Scully drove from her mother’s house to the other side of the city, walls of self-preservation were erecting around her heart like a steel fortress.

But how should she even begin this conversation? She knew from experience that starting off important discussions with “We need to talk” assuredly caused the man to feel like he’d done something wrong and put him on the defensive. There are probably few things more gut-wrenching, or more dreadful, than hearing those four words. She’d have to take a different approach. Maybe she should just come right out and tell him that she’s been thinking about trying IVF again, that now with the arrival of her menstrual cycle, she can go for it right away. Mulder would no doubt realize, as she had done, that this would bring singular complications that hadn’t been there the first time. She’d just ask Mulder if he still was willing to donate a sperm sample. With that one simple question, she’d possibly get her answer to so many others.

*****

After a 10 minute drive, that seemed both far too quick and agonizingly slow, she’d arrived at 2630 Hegal Place just past 9:30 pm. As Scully stood in front of his apartment door, listening to the sound of his television and hesitating, she realized that she was about to find out if Mulder loved her, really and truly loved her. Not the love for a replacement sister, which Scully had often felt was the case in the very early years of their partnership, and not the deep love for a dear friend. Real love: the all-consuming, passionate, head over heels, I can’t live without you and I want to be the father of your children, let’s grow old together, LOVE. Scully felt like she was on the verge of hyperventilating.

But Scully braced herself, taking a deep breath, and knocked on the door. After about seven seconds, the door flew open and she had barely registered Mulder’s face before he’d grabbed her and pulled her to him, his lips devouring hers. Her arms reflexively went around his neck, and she returned his kiss as he turned them and walked back inside his apartment, slamming the door shut with his foot.

Scully’s mind went blank, and her reasons for showing up at Mulder’s apartment in the first place suddenly escaped her. Mulder’s lips were soft and firm and warm against hers, and she opened to the gentle prod of his tongue without any hesitation. His lips caressed hers with such knowledgeableness and ease, that Scully could have sworn that their newfound intimacy was something that had been going on for years instead of a few weeks.

Mulder’s tongue slowly unfolded inside her mouth, stroking the skin inside tenderly, firmly brushing against her tongue, caressing it. Scully sighed into his mouth and Mulder held her closer to him. She felt warm sensations of pleasure flowing like waves through every nerve ending in her body as her hands gripped Mulder’s neck tighter. As she started to feel tingling sensations of desire come to life at her center, and felt Mulder’s cock begin to stiffen against her stomach, she pulled away.

“Mulder, wait,” Scully panted, breathing heavily.

“What?” he replied, also breathing hard.

Scully sighed. “Um, I got my period today. I’m sorry.”

Mulder blinked down at her, and then also sighed. “Oh. Scully, why are you apologizing? It’s okay.”

As Scully stood there staring at him, she couldn’t bring herself to open her mouth and say the things she needed to say.

Mulder than grinned at her. “I really shouldn’t be distracted, anyways.”

“Were you working?” Scully asked.

He nodded. “I was about to start, yeah. Tomorrow is quarterly day, remember? Fun times. I was about to review our cases again. Uh, do you wanna spend the night?”

Scully looked at him, feeling mildly surprised. “Wouldn’t it be better if I went home?”

Mulder gave her a puzzled look, and then chuckled. “Why? Because we can’t have sex?”

She didn’t know how to answer. “Um…”

Mulder stepped forward and wrapped his arms around her again, giving her an amused questioning look. “Do you think that’s the only reason I would want you to stay here?”

She felt her face start to redden, and averted her eyes. “Um, no… no, of course not.”

He looked down at her, giving her a half smile before letting go of her. “Hmm.”

Scully hung her coat and purse up on the coat rack by his front door. Mulder then turned to walk into his living room, shutting off the television, and gathered up the X-Files cases on the coffee table as Scully stood in the threshold between his dining and living room. He then walked toward his bedroom door, opening it as Scully followed behind him.

After flipping the switch on the wall to turn on the overhead light, Mulder set the case files on the side of the bed closest to the bedroom door as Scully shut the door behind her. She watched Mulder then move to his dresser to take out a pair of gray flannel pajama bottoms. He stared at his back as he pulled his navy blue long-sleeved shirt and white undershirt off his head, unbuttoned and unzipped his jeans, pulling them off along with his socks. After tossing them onto the pile he’d created on the floor next to him, Scully continued to gaze at him as he pulled down his black boxer briefs, revealing his firm, round ass. Scully chewed her bottom lip in an effort to stop herself from grinning, as Mulder pulled on the pajama bottoms and opened a drawer to take out a clean white undershirt.

He then bent down and picked up his pile of clothes and walked into the en suite bathroom, depositing them into a laundry basket. Mulder walked back out and around the bed, taking off his watch and placing it on his bedside table. He then looked over at Scully watching him.

“Aren’t you going to get undressed?” he asked.

Scully blinked. “Uh, yeah.”

She’d never really seen Mulder perform his regular night time routine, at least what it had been before this recent development between them. Watching Mulder in his natural habitat was hitting her with too many emotions for her to process at the moment, but she was keenly aware that she was fighting to keep a smile off her face. Scully walked away from the door and removed her black ankle boots, before removing her dark jeans and socks, folding them neatly and placing them on the carpet next to Mulder’s dresser. She then lifted the light blue sweater over her head, and then it too was folded neatly and set on top of her jeans. Scully unhooked the front clasp of her pale pink racerback demi bra and tossed on top of her clothes.

Something suddenly warned Scully that she was being watched, and she turned to see Mulder standing in the bathroom doorway looking at her as she stood there wearing nothing but her heather gray cotton brief panty.

“You’re beautiful,” Mulder said quietly.

Scully snorted, blushing. “Um, thank you.”

She then turned her back on Mulder and opened his dresser drawers in search of a shirt. She took out a gray t-shirt, with “Georgetown” printed across the chest in blue letters. After pulling it over her head and threading her arms through, it fell to the bottom of her thighs. Scully then walked around to the side of the bed closest to the bathroom, turned on the lamp next to the bed, and then turned down the covers, fluffing up the pillows and getting in.

Mulder started emptying his bladder, with the bathroom door still open. Scully rolled her eyes, and sighed. He then stood at his bathroom sink, brushing his teeth.

“Oh, hey Scully…” Mulder called out, raising his voice slightly.

“Yeah?” Scully replied, turning her head in the direction of the bathroom doorway.

“Are you going to call Dr. Parenti?”

Scully froze. Her mind raced. She didn’t know what to say. “Wha… what?”

“Are you going to give Dr. Parenti a call?” Mulder called out from the sink, after spitting out some toothpaste. “You had to wait until your next period to start the IVF cycle again, right?”

She felt her stomach fill with butterflies. What was he saying? She didn’t know how to respond.

Mulder then turned and walked to the bathroom doorway, toothbrush in hand, and stared at her. “You haven’t changed your mind, have you?”

Scully swallowed. She still couldn’t speak.

Mulder eyed her. “You’re not giving up, are you?”

“No,” said Scully quietly, not knowing what else to say.

“Good,” he said, smiling. Then he stuck his toothbrush back in his mouth and returned to the bathroom sink. “So you’ll call him, yeah?”

Scully hesitated. “Yes, I will.”

Scully’s stomach was in knots. What just happened? Were they really just… what did this mean? She supposed skipping over an awkward conversation about their feelings and defining whatever it was that they were was a relief. But didn’t he see how complicated this could make things? Didn’t he say before he’d agreed to it the first time that he was concerned IVF would come between them? And that was when their partnership was much simpler than it is now. But Mulder didn’t seem at all phased by the idea of trying IVF again, nor did he seem concerned that this could potentially cause friction, or something even worse, like separation.

“I put a brand new toothbrush on the sink for you,” Mulder said as he left the bathroom.

“Oh, okay,” Scully said, startled out of her pensiveness. “Uh, thanks.”

She then got out of bed and walked into the bathroom, making a point at shutting the door behind her. Scully emptied her bladder, noting that it was probably a good idea to keep some personal items at Mulder’s apartment now that staying here was becoming a regular thing. But then even that thought caused a certain amount of panic as she walked to the bathroom sink to wash her hands. Would Mulder even want her stuff around his place? Would he think she was imposing, or trying to progress things between them faster than he was ready for? But he seemed to be all gung ho about a baby, so why then would he be apprehensive of her keeping some belongings at his place? God, this is so fucking confusing.

After washing her hands, she opened the package containing the new toothbrush and dispensed some minty toothpaste onto the bristles. Her mind was in overdrive as she brushed, trying to figure out why Mulder didn’t seem concerned, why calling Dr. Parenti had been his natural reaction and seemingly without any hesitation, why he didn’t seem to think there needed to be a serious conversation about what would be expected of him if a pregnancy actually occurred. Her mind raced.

And then Scully stared at her reflection in the mirror, lowering her toothbrush, her eyes widening slightly. Does he love me?

Scully slowly opened the bathroom door, and looked at Mulder sitting up on the other side of the bed. He had his glasses on and he was reading an X-file. She stood there, gazing at him until he turned his head to look at her.

Mulder stared at her, his pupils dilating and his breathing quickening. “You look good in my shirt.”

“I do, huh?” she replied, smirking, getting onto the bed and sitting next to him.

Scully’s eyes then zeroed in on the noticeable bulge in Mulder’s pajama pants.

Mulder sighed. “It’ll go away, Scully.”

“I can help you with that.” She slid closer to him, and started to reach her hand out to stroke him. This was at least something they could do and it would alleviate some her own cravings.

He reached out to hold her wrist. “Scully, no.”

She knitted her brows. “Why, Mulder? We don’t both have to be frustrated.”

Mulder stared at her. “You think it’s fair that you’re the one who would have to go to sleep frustrated? I’d just feel guilty. So, no.”

“You sure can find a reason for guilt in almost anything,” Scully quipped.

He gave her a blank stare, and then dropped the case file on Robert Roberts in her lap. Scully sighed.

“Do you ever wonder if the Bureau gets some kind of sick satisfaction at holding a quarterly after Thanksgiving every single year?” Scully grumbled.

Mulder shrugged. “The quarterly is a pain in the ass no matter on what day it’s held.”

Scully nodded. “Oh, Mulder? Whatever happened to that mysterious waterbed you had?”

He chuckled. “I got rid of it. Too many leaks. I still have no idea where it came from, or that horrid leopard print bedding.”

She made a disgusted face. “Did your mystery benefactor give you anything else?”

“Um…” Mulder chuckled again. “There were mirrors on the ceiling, above the bed. But I took them down.”

“Why?” Scully asked.

“Because they were ridiculous.”

“Hmm,” Scully nodded. But she suddenly envisioned lying on Mulder’s bed, looking up at herself in the mirror while his face was between her legs. She grinned, biting her lip, and felt herself growing warm. “The mirrors might not have been so bad.”

Mulder turned a look of shock on Scully. She giggled, her eyes twinkling at him suggestively.

“You’re not helping me here,” Mulder deadpanned.

She saw that his erection had only dissipated slightly.

“Sorry,” Scully sighed. Then she glanced down at her shirt. “So, uh, Mulder, why do you have a Georgetown University t-shirt? You never went there. And I don’t recall you being a fan of their sports teams.”

“You’re right, Scully. I can’t stand the Hoyas. The t-shirt was a gift.”

Scully nodded. “Did you know someone who went there?”

Mulder hesitated slightly. “Uh, yeah, this girl I dated went to Georgetown Law.”

She turned a surprised smile on Mulder. “I don’t remember ever hearing about this girl.”

He chuckled. “Her name was Trudy and she was a bartender at Ripley’s when she was going to law school.”

“Hmm…,” Scully replied. “And when was this, Mulder?”

Mulder put the case file down on his lap, and thought about it. “Huh, wow… a long time ago. It… was the winter right before you started working with me.”

Scully nodded. “How long did you date her? Was it serious?”

He picked up the X-file and resumed his perusal. “Oh no, we only dated a few times. Three or four, maybe five. Actually, the last time I took her out was about a week or so after you and I got back from Bellefleur, Oregon. So that would’ve been… March 1993.”

Scully gazed at him. “Why didn’t you take her out again?”

Mulder chuckled. “Apparently, she didn’t think our last date went well. I believe I sat through dinner talking nonstop about work and my brand new partner.”

She snorted. “And did you have sex with this girl?”

He nodded, giving her a sideways glance. “Yes. Yes, I did.”

Scully smirked. “And how was it?”

Mulder turned his head, giving her a look of surprise. “I don’t remember.”

She gave him a disbelieving look. “Apparently that photographic memory of yours is also selective.”

“I didn’t say I can’t remember,” Mulder said, grinning. “I said I don’t. If I really thought about it, I could certainly remember it. But I don’t want to.”

Scully smiled, biting her bottom lip to hide it. “Well, at least you got a nice t-shirt out of it.”

Mulder laughed, and then his face took on a look of exasperation. “Scully, it would really help me out if you would cover your legs with the sheet.”

She looked down at herself, and saw the t-shirt had ridden up to her hips and her crotch was exposed. She pulled the top sheet up and over herself. “Sorry.”

They spent the next hour going over the few cases they’d had over the past three months, Scully studying autopsy reports and Mulder discussing his theories. Scully eventually became too tired to read anymore and after setting the files down on the mattress between her and Mulder, she turned to lie on her side, facing the wall, while Mulder continued to work.

Scully drifted in and out of sleep for a while, thinking about Mulder, and IVF, and the future. But she couldn’t grasp her mind on anything clearly. Maybe she’d gotten herself worked up over nothing. She had a strong feeling that Mulder would never retreat from her, no matter what happens in the weeks, months, or years ahead of them.

After some time had passed, Scully blinked herself awake. The lights were still on, but the room was quiet. She could no longer hear the sounds of X-files being studied. She turned to lay on her other side and saw that Mulder was asleep, sitting up, leaning back against the pillow, and still wearing his glasses. Scully sat up and scooched closer to Mulder, until she was almost on his lap. She slowly picked up the X-files off the mattress and leaned over to place them on Mulder’s bedside table. Scully then reached up to gently take off Mulder’s glasses, and after she pulled them away from his face, she leaned across Mulder to set them down on the bedside table on top of the X-files.

When she leaned back, she saw that Mulder had opened his eyes. They gazed at one another. Mulder then wrapped his arms around her and pulled her to him, capturing her lips with his and kissing her slowly, passionately.

Mulder then pulled away, and sighed. “I wish we could fuck.”

“Me too,” Scully said, also sighing. “But it’s only a few days.”

He smiled, brushing her hair from her face and back behind her ear, and giving her another kiss. “I know.”

Chapter Text

On Friday, November 26th, as the red light of the digital clock on Mulder’s bedside table shone 4:07 am in the dark, Scully rolled out of bed and tiptoed across the carpet to the bathroom, quietly shutting the door before turning on the light. After emptying her bladder, she realized she had to leave and go home. There were, of course, no tampons at Mulder’s apartment. Scully then tiptoed back across the carpet over to her clothes, folded neatly on the floor next to Mulder’s dresser, and quietly got dressed. Once she opened the bedroom door, she turned and gazed at a sleeping Mulder, and then walked out, closing the bedroom door behind her.

At 4:49 am, a half-asleep Mulder rolled over to wrap his arm around Scully, his hand in search of her breast, but she wasn’t in the bed. He blinked himself awake, and sat up.

“Scully?” he called out, rubbing his hand over his eyes.

Mulder looked over toward the bathroom door, but she wasn’t in there. His eyes then searched for her pile of clothes by his dresser, but they were gone. He walked out to his living room, and then glanced into his kitchen, but no sign of Scully. Her coat and purse were no longer on the coat rack. Mulder sighed, and wondered at what time she’d actually left. He thought of the look on her face when he’d asked her if she’d changed her mind about IVF. She seemed momentarily shell-shocked. Mulder then wondered if he’d pushed her into agreeing to try again, but that couldn’t be right. He knew she really wanted to. Mulder certainly wanted her to. If this time the IVF actually worked, it would be answer to his prayers. A miracle of science was still a miracle, especially in Scully’s unique case.

At 8:12 am, Scully walked through the basement office door to see Mulder in his navy blue suit, sitting at his desk looking into the computer monitor. The X-Files cases they’d reviewed the night before were stacked on the end of the desk.

Mulder looked up at Scully, wearing a black skirt and jacket with an ivory sweater underneath. “What happened to you this morning?”

Scully gave him a puzzled look. “What do you mean? I had to get ready for work.”

“Yeah, but I woke up before 5:00 am and you were gone. You could’ve at least said goodbye. Why’d you leave so early?”

Scully shrugged slightly. “I woke up and… just decided to go home.”

Mulder stared at her. “Well, I didn’t like waking up to see you’d disappeared.”

She shook her head and sighed. “Mulder, we shouldn’t really be having this conversation at work.”

“Okay, fine,” he replied tersely, before turning his head back to his email.

Scully sighed again. “I suppose we should head upstairs to Skinner’s office. I know you’ll want to make sure you get your seat in the back.”

“Oh,” Mulder turned quickly to look at her. “It’s not being held in Skinner’s office. They’re having some kind of electrical problem on that floor. So we have to use the CMU conference room on the third floor. And you’re right, I do want a seat in the back.”

Mulder shut off the computer, and grabbed the files off his desk. After closing the office door and locking it behind them, they made their way to the elevator and up to the third floor. Upon exiting the elevator they walked past the open-air office of the Bullpen they used to inhabit when working under Kersh. Two female agents were standing next to the desk of a male agent, chatting with him, and when they saw Mulder and Scully walking by they stared, slightly elbowing each other. Scully saw one of them turn around as if trying to get someone’s attention, and then she had the slightest glimpse of Agent Natalie Black’s face turn in their direction before her and Mulder had cleared the Bullpen area.

As they approached the double doors marked “Crisis Management Unit, CR-3,” they could hear voices inside.

Mulder groaned. “Dammit.”

Scully grinned. “Looks like some eager beavers beat us to the room.”

“I’m not sitting in there with those people any longer than I have to.”

“’Those people?’ You mean your fellow agents, Mulder?”

He pursed his lips at her. “But it’s another 40 minutes until the quarterly starts. Do you think I wanna sit in there and make conversation? Actually, let’s do it. The day’s gonna be shitty anyways. Might as well get it started.”

“Do you want to go back down to the office?” Scully sighed, and then she grinned up at him. “I think Natalie is back in the Bullpen. You could go hang out with her for a while.”

Mulder gave her a blank stare, but then he smirked sarcastically down at her. “No thanks, Scully. I think I’ll pass.”

He then saw a door a bit further down from the CMU conference room doors. “Oh yeah, we can wait in there.”

Scully followed him as he walked down the hallway. Mulder quietly opened the door, allowing Scully to enter first, and then closed it behind him after he stepped inside. They were immediately greeted by several voices in conversation on the other side of the wall. Scully looked around the room, noticing a rectangular table with six leather office chairs, two on each side and one on each end, a large abstract painting of angel fish on the wall. Scully also noticed that the wall ended only part way across the room, leaving an opening as large as a doorway from which the voices were carrying through.

“That leads to the conference room,” Mulder whispered, taking a seat at one of the leather chairs.

Scully sat down on the end, crosswise from Mulder, propping her elbows up on the table. He fought the sudden urge to reach out and hold her hand.

“So what crazy shit do you think the Spookys have in store for us today?” said the voice of a male agent.

Mulder and Scully locked eyes, and rolled them. It was Agent Alan Collins, a man in his early 40’s who had been with the FBI for over 15 years and worked in the Violent Crimes Unit.

“I just hope it’s not more of that alien spaceship stuff,” spoke a female voice, Agent Sarah Brewer. She was young, in her late 20’s and had only been with the FBI for three years, and also worked in the Violent Crimes Unit. “That really bothered me the last time.”

Scully looked down at her entwined hands on the table. Bothered her? Try seeing it with your own eyes. Mulder gazed at her, wondering what was going through her head.

“It was probably just bullshit anyways,” replied Agent Collins.

“Agent Scully would never lie,” said another male voice, firmly; that of Agent Samuel Cole, Agent Brewer’s partner, and also in his late 20’s.

Mulder smiled at her.

“Please, Sam, she’d lie for Mulder,” replied Agent Michael Chan, Agent Collins' partner. “Like that time she told everyone he’d committed suicide after he killed that DoD operative.”

Scully looked up to meet Mulder’s eyes, and shrugged. Mulder snorted.

“I’m sure there was a good reason for that,” Agent Cole said.

“Why are you defending her?” spoke up another female voice, Agent Josephine Vaughn of the VCU. “She and Spooky are a joke.”

Mulder and Scully gave one another sympathetic smiles.

Agent Brewer laughed. “Because he’s got a big schoolboy crush on her, Jo.”

“Who doesn’t?” Agent Cole retorted. “I mean, do you see the way she just walks down the hallway? Like she’s on her way to kick some serious ass. I mean, my God. I’d let her kick my ass any day. I’d let her do more than that.”

“She won’t need to kick your ass,” Agent Collins quipped. “Because Mulder would shoot you before she’d get the chance.”

Scully rolled her eyes while Mulder raised his eyebrows at her.

Agent Cole laughed. “Whatever. I think maybe I should just ask her out.”

“You have zero chance,” Agent Chan said. “Mulder would never let you near her.”

“And even if Spooky did, she wouldn’t go out with you anyways, Sam,” added Agent Vaughn. “Everybody knows they’re lovers.”

Mulder and Scully averted their eyes, feeling slightly uncomfortable. Scully’s stomach filled with butterflies. Mulder felt himself inwardly cringing at the idea of assigning the title “lovers” to him and Scully.

“Jo, that’s just gossip,” Agent Cole said, sounding slightly exasperated. “Agent Scully doesn’t strike me as someone who would go against the fraternization policy. Besides, everyone knows that Spooky is a fucking stud and that he gets around. He fucked Stacey Palmer, and all the guys know how impossible that is. He also has something going on with that Agent Natalie Somebody who works out there in the Bullpen.”

Mulder rolled his eyes and shook his head, getting increasingly annoyed. Scully sighed.

“No way is that true, Sam,” said Agent Vaughn.

“Mulder and Scully have AD Skinner wrapped around their finger,” added Agent Brewer. “They break FBI policy all the time and nothing ever happens to them. Maybe you’re too busy staring at Scully when she walks down the hallway to notice that Mulder has his hand on her lower back almost the entire time. And what’s with all the close talking? They could easily have private conversations without their faces being three inches apart.”

Scully threw Mulder a puzzled look. Do they really walk around like that at work? Mulder shrugged, chuckling under his breath.

“It is true, Jo,” Agent Cole said resolutely, apparently ignoring his partner. “Well, at least what I said about that Natalie girl is a fact. They were both seen the morning after the banquet at Dunkin’ Donuts and Spooky was still wearing his tux from the night before. They fucked. And word has it they still are.”

Mulder leaned back in his chair, throwing an incredulous look towards the ceiling. Scully just shook her head.

“Nope, no way,” spoke Agent Vaughn firmly. “The Ice Queen would never tolerate that. Remember what went down with her and Spooky’s ex in the hallway upstairs a few months ago? They had a fucking cat fight over him.”

Mulder looked at her in confusion, searching her face to find out if this was true. Scully’s face reddened, remembering her confrontation with Diana after Mulder went missing from the hospital. She knew that she’d pulled Diana into an empty office and confronted her privately. She also knew that what happened was a far cry from the term ‘cat fight.’ Scully rolled her eyes.

“Agent Fowley?” asked Agent Collins. “You know, I don’t think they ever found her killer.”

The room went quiet. Mulder and Scully gazed at one another.

“It was probably the Ice Queen who did it,” laughed Agent Vaughn.

Scully closed her eyes, placing her hand over her face and shaking her head. Mulder felt anger starting to burn through his gut. The sound of the conference room doors opening could then be heard.

“What’s up, gang?” spoke the voice of Agent Max Zukowski, who was in his mid-30’s and had been working with the VCU for two years, ever since he joined the FBI.

“The party can start now that we’re here,” added Agent Lamar Carter, Zukowski’s partner since they both graduated from the Academy together.

“Hey Max! Hey LC!” greeted Agent Brewer. “Nice to see you guys. How’s everything going with the case in New Hampshire?”

“It’s fucking gruesome,” Agent Carter replied. “Let’s not talk about it.”

Mulder and Scully could hear Agents Carter and Zukowski settling into chairs.

“So what are you guys talking about?” enquired Agent Zukowski.

“Mr. and Mrs. Spooky,” replied Agent Brewer.

Scully rolled her eyes. Mulder grinned, remembering the place card from the banquet that was still in his wallet.

“Ahhh, yeeeah,” Agent Zukowski. “I get to sit in a room with Dana Scully all day. I sure hope she’s wearing one of those tight pencil skirts. Speaking of whom, I thought I saw them get off the elevator on this floor while we were in the Bullpen talking with Agent Peterson. I figured they’d be in here.”

“They’re probably in a hall closet screwing,” Agent Vaughn quipped.

Mulder and Scully sighed. Scully wished to God they had just waited in the basement until the last minute, or that Mulder had just resigned himself to walking into the conference room and waiting in there with them. At least they wouldn’t have had to listen to this garbage.

“Would you shut up, Jo?” flared Agent Cole.

Agent Vaughn snickered. “Sam here doesn’t believe Mulder and Scully are a thing.”

“A thing?” asked Agent Zukowski. “Of course they are, Sam. Everyone knows that. It’s been that way for years.”

“If it’s such a well-known fact, why hasn’t Skinner separated them?” Agent Cole asked. “Or OPR? If it became a known fact that Sarah and I were involved, we’d get reassigned immediately. We’re not, by the way. Sarah is happily married now, which everyone knows because she never stops talking about it.”

Agent Brewer laughed. “Shut up, Sam. If you went on a honeymoon to the Maldives, you wouldn’t stop talking about it either.”

“The FBI doesn’t separate them because of their success,” explained Agent Collins. “I mean, look at their numbers, their arrest record. They have one of the highest success rates in the Bureau."

"Sure, the X-Files is a joke around here and there’s no way to climb the ladder out of the basement, but Mulder and Scully have supporters," added Agent Carter. "Skinner, obviously. But you should’ve heard the way some of our Academy instructors went on and on about them at Quantico.”

“Whatever, I think I'm going to ask her out,” Agent Cole replied. “There ain't no gold band on her hand. She’s fair game and in her sexual prime. I'm gonna go for it.”

“You’re a dead man,” Agent Zukowski sighed.

“I’m not afraid of Spooky,” Agent Cole replied.

“You should be, if you know what’s good for you,” said Agent Chan. “There are more powerful people than you at the FBI who are. Why do you think they keep Mulder in the basement?”

Scully and Mulder’s eyes met, and they gazed into each other’s faces.

Agent Vaughn laughed. “Uh, because he’s an embarrassment to the Bureau.”

“No, Agent Vaughn,” Agent Chan said. “They’re scared of him. He’s a threat.”

“A threat?” Agent Vaughn laughed incredulously. “A threat to whom? That’s ridiculous.”

“I don’t know, exactly,” replied Agent Chan, lowering his voice. “But I do know that every month, the Director receives a blue file folder that’s basically a rundown on everything Mulder is up to in the X-Files and that the file folder is marked ‘high priority’.”

“Michael!” Agent Collins snapped at his partner. “I think we should move on to another topic.”

Silence filled the room, and then Agent Vaughn started to ask Agent Brewer about the Maldives while the others discussed the football games from the day before.

Mulder leaned over the table, bringing his head closer to Scully’s, and whispered, “It’s days like today that make me wanna walk right outta here and quit.”

She smirked at him. “So why don’t you?”

“You think I wanna do these people any favors?” Mulder deadpanned, giving her a blank stare.

Scully snorted, shaking her head.

“Maybe we should go find one of those famed hall closets and fuck. They already think we do that kind of thing, anyways. It would sure make my day better, Scully.”

She stared at him, arching an eyebrow, as they heard the conference room’s double doors opening and more agents entering the room. “We should probably head in there. It’s going to start in a few minutes.”

Mulder groaned, and stood up, gathering the X-files off the table. They walked over to the cased opening in the wall and looked into the conference room. The agents inside were looking to the front of the room, and didn’t notice Mulder and Scully quietly walk through and take seats against the back wall. Mulder sat the X-files down on the small circular table between them.

Skinner then entered the room through the double doors, along with executives Frances Martin of the Records Management Division, Tiffany Pineo of the Finance Division, and Marianne Burnell of the Office of Integrity and Compliance. Mulder felt that the fact AD Roberts wasn’t here would be his only silver lining on the day.

Skinner then addressed the room. “Okay, we can get started.”

“Uh, sir,” spoke up Agent Clint Moore of the VCU. “We have to wait for Agents Mulder and Scully, don’t we?”

“What do you mean?” Skinner stared at him, and then nodded towards the back of the room. “They’re already here.”

Everyone turned to see Mulder and Scully sitting against the back wall in the black fabric-covered, square box style conference room chairs, and stared at them.

“When did you come in?” asked Agent Collins, sitting at a desk in the middle of the room with a puzzled expression on his face.

Mulder shrugged. Scully crossed her arms and sighed.

“Huh, kinda spooky,” muttered Agent Vaughn. “Wouldn’t you say?”

Sprinkled laughter could be heard throughout the room, as Mulder and Scully braced themselves for a long day of peer case reviews and budget discussions.

*****

Later that night, Mulder and Scully were sitting on her living room couch, Mulder watching the Washington Wizards basketball game on the television while Scully was reading Muriel Spark’s The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie.

“God, the Wizards suck,” sighed Mulder in disgust.

“Then why do you bother watching them?” Scully asked, not looking up.

He turned to look at her. “Because it’s basketball. And because the Knicks aren’t on.”

“Hmm,” Scully replied, engrossed in her book.

Mulder looked at the book cover, and then grinned at her. “You know, Scully, I, uh, heard through the FBI grapevine that you are in your sexual prime.”

She looked up and stared at him, fighting a smile. Then she shook her head and returned to her book.

“And I… am not,” he sighed.

She rolled her eyes.

“I always found it cruel that I sexually peaked while I was a virgin,” he griped.

Scully burst out laughing.

Mulder stared at her, laughing hard and wiping the tears leaking from the corners of her eyes, grinning at her. He loved it when she laughed. Soon her laughs subsided and her breathing began to return to normal.

“You know, Mulder, it all depends on how you base your sexual peak. It’s true that at 18, men get the fastest and firmest erections and are better equipped for multiple… performances because of their testosterone levels. But most 18 year olds have no idea what to do with them. The more satisfying sexual experiences happen later in life. You also have to add in variables like hormones, genetics, relationship quality, and other psychological factors, which are completely different for everyone. So if you base your sexual peak on satisfaction, instead of performance, then I’m sure you’ll find that your peak came much later.”

“Yeah, like right now,” Mulder stated matter-of-factly, before turning his attention back to the basketball game. “I guess that’s good news.”

She gazed at him, and felt herself growing warm, her heart swelling.

“How do you go an entire quarter and only score eight points, and allow Charlotte to score 31? Why am I even watching this clusterfuck?”

Scully returned to her book, smiling to herself and blushing.

Chapter Text

At 10:45 pm on Sunday night, November 28th, Mulder was lying on his back in Scully’s bed, trying to sleep, but he kept glancing over at his partner lying on her side with her back to him. He knew she was awake. She’d been noticeably quieter all weekend than she’d been Friday night, ever since he’d returned to her apartment early on Saturday evening after spending the day back in Alexandria, taking care of his laundry and paying his bills. Even though Scully had been in a fairly pleasant mood and she’d willingly engaged in conversation when he wanted to discuss something about work or whatever was on the television, there was something going on behind her eyes. Whenever he searched her face, he could tell she was hiding things behind it.

Most of the time Mulder had to fight the urge to force her to talk about whatever was on her mind, but he knew force would get him nowhere. Her silence would only turn to anger, and then he’d really regret attempting to pressure her into opening up. Mulder respected her privacy, not allowing himself to pry. He knew that if it was really important, or if she actually needed his help, eventually she’d tell him whatever it was. Hopefully. The wait could be excruciating, though. Mulder’s intense desire to always help, solve, fix as quickly as possible was not Scully’s way of dealing with things. She took her time to think things through, process her thoughts and emotions, and if he was lucky, she’d actually let him in on what she was working through. Sometimes she did, but most of the time she didn’t.

Scully was a mystery to him. She’d always been. And Mulder was starting to think that maybe this was a big reason why he’d kept himself distant for so long. Unlike the mysteries contained within the X-Files, of unexplained extraterrestrial phenomena and paranormal occurrences that Mulder had firmly believed he would eventually discover the truth about, Scully was a mystery he’d probably never be able to solve completely. She’d always keep him wondering about what was going on inside her head. This had always been kind of intimidating, but since their partnership transitioned into new territory it was becoming more intriguing. Little by little she was opening up her inner self to him, showing him glimpses, sharing stories from her past she’d never spoken of previously, allowing him to see sides to her personality he’d never seen before. The more he learned about her, the more he wanted to know. But he knew he couldn’t coerce her into opening up more, he’d have to be patient. And that was okay, because he wasn’t going anywhere.

He sighed.

“Why aren’t you asleep yet, Mulder?” Scully asked in a tired voice.

“Because you’re not.”

Scully sighed. “I’m sorry. Um… I, uh, called Dr. Parenti on Saturday morning.”

His eyes went wide, and he rolled over onto his side and moved closer to Scully, wrapping his arm around her and pulling her back against him.

“What did he say?” Mulder asked softly in her ear.

“That I can start now,” Scully replied. “That he has a window open early Monday morning if I wanted to go up to his office and start another IVF cycle right away. He said the sooner the better.”

Mulder felt like his stomach was doing somersaults. “And… what did you say?”

“I said okay,” she said after hesitating slightly.

He smiled into Scully’s ear. “Really? That’s great.”

“Yes.”

But Mulder saw her knitted brows. “Then what’s wrong?”

She sighed. “It… it scares me. I want to, but… I don’t know.”

“It scares me too,” Mulder replied. “But that doesn’t mean it’s not worth trying. If Dr. Parenti thinks you have a chance, then maybe there’s hope. Have some faith; believe. How will you know if you don’t try?”

Scully smiled, and turned around so that she was facing Mulder, bringing her hand up to gently stroke his face. He leaned in and kissed her, bringing his hand underneath the hem of her white silk pajama top and softly brushing his fingertips against her belly. Mulder then broke their kiss and sighed, pulling his hand away.

“It’s only a couple more days, Mulder,” Scully whispered. “I’ll make it up to you.”

He chuckled. “I’m gonna hold you to that.”

Scully yawned. “I think I can sleep now.”

“Good,” he said, also yawning. “Me too. Goodnight… lover.”

“Oh, my God, Mulder," Scully giggled. "Would you stop it with that? Don’t make me get my gun.”

He laughed. “Coming from you, that’s a real threat.”

Soon their laughter turned to contented sighs, and then those sighs turned into the slow, deep breathing of peaceful, dreamless sleep.

*****

At 5:00 am on Monday morning, Mulder and Scully awoke to her alarm.

“You can go back to sleep, Mulder,” Scully whispered. “I’m just going to hop in the shower and get ready so I can be at Dr. Parenti’s by 7:00. I’ll see you at the office. I should be able to be there by 8:30.”

Mulder gave her a puzzled look. “What do you mean? I’m coming with you."

Scully stared at him. “Oh. O… okay.”

She walked into the bathroom to start getting ready for the day. She felt excited and anxious, but she still felt scared. She wished she could bring herself to have a real talk with Mulder, lay everything out in the open, and speak plainly of her needs, wishes, and desires for her life. Having a child was a serious decision, not one to be taken lightly. A child would have singular needs, and she wondered if Mulder was prepared for that. But, then again, she hadn’t actually asked him to be a parent nor had he spoken to her of any desire to be one. Maybe she was afraid to find out, and that fear kept her silent.

After 25 minutes in the shower, she stepped out and dried off, before throwing her robe on. She poked her head out through the door into her bedroom. “Shower’s free.”

Mulder got out of bed and walked into the bathroom, removing his gray boxer briefs and stepping into the shower. After about five minutes, he groaned. “Did you have to use all the hot water, Scully?”

Scully, standing by the sink blow drying her hair, didn’t hear him.

Once they dressed, Scully in her black pantsuit and white blouse and Mulder in his casual clothes he’d worn the day before, they took the 30 minute drive to Dr. Parenti’s office in College Park, Maryland, arriving just before 7:00 am. After only a few minutes in the waiting area, they were ushered into Dr. Parenti’s office and sat down in the two beige chairs facing his desk. After another minute or two, Dr. Parenti joined them.

“Nice to see you again,” he said, shaking their hands, and then sitting down. “Okay, well if you’re still on board I want to start right away.”

Scully’s stomach further tightened into knots of anxiety, but she nodded. “Yes.”

Dr. Parenti smiled. “Great. So, beginning today I’m going to start you on a daily treatment of estrogen as well as one injected dose of progesterone a day to strengthen your uterine lining. This time we’ll make it a 12-day treatment instead of 10. I set up an appointment for you with Lifecare Medical Associates in D.C. to have some blood work done later today, just so we can test your other hormone levels. I’m sure they’re fine, but it doesn’t hurt to check.”

Scully nodded.

“This Friday, December 3rd, we’ll have your partner come in to deposit a sperm sample,” Dr. Parenti continued, glancing to Mulder.

He nodded. “Yeah, that’s fine.”

“Oh, and remember, no ejaculation for at least three days prior.”

Mulder stared, remembering the instructions Dr. Parenti had given him the first time. He sighed. “I remember.”

Scully shot Mulder a brief sideways glance, her stomach still in knots. Sex was most likely out of the question for the rest of week, at least until Friday night, and it was already almost a week since they’d last had it. This process was suddenly nothing like it had been the first time, going through the initial stages separately. There were so many other factors to think about now, like the different effects IVF would have on the intimacy of their partnership, that hadn’t even been considerations before.

“Then on the 5th, I’ll perform insemination with the most vigorous and healthiest sperm we collect from the sample,” continued Dr. Parenti, before turning to Scully. “I think I’d like to try a blastocyst transfer this time around.”

“What’s that?” Mulder asked.

Dr. Parenti nodded, giving him a small smile. “Within 24 hours after fertilization, embryos begin to cleave, from 2 cells to 4 cells. Then in the next 24 hours, embryos will cleave to 8 cells and so on. When the embryos reach 32 to 64 cells they become blastocysts. At this stage of development different parts of the embryo are visible for the first time. There is a thin layer of cells that encircles a fluid-filled cavity, and a small group of cells called the inner cell mass will eventually develop into the fetus itself. In the early days of fertilization, it is difficult to determine which embryos have the best chance to result in pregnancy. Since many embryos are incapable of developing to blastocysts the ability to culture embryos for a few more days until they reach the blastocyst stage can make the task a lot easier.”

Mulder nodded his comprehension.

“Now, the last time we performed the embryo transfer on the fourth day of fertilization,” continued Dr. Parenti. “But I think I’d like to culture the embryos further to see if any develop into healthy blastocysts. If we have at least one healthy embryo on the sixth day, we’ll perform the blastocyst transfer on December 10th.” Dr. Parenti then looked down at his desk calendar. “After that… I can schedule you to come in on December 22nd so we can give you a pregnancy test.”

Scully could only nod. She felt too many emotions at once, and it was difficult to process the storm of fear, anxiety, excitement, and hope that was raging inside her mind.

*****

Late on Friday afternoon, December 3rd, Mulder and Scully drove from FBI headquarters to Dr. Parenti’s office.

“I still don’t see why I needed to go with you, Mulder,” Scully sighed, as they entered the waiting room. “I would much rather have gone home.”

He grinned. “I told you, it’s a surprise.”

She stared at him. “You know I hate surprises.”

“Yep, I know,” he replied, still grinning.

As Mulder glanced at the clock on the wall, which read 5:52 pm, he approached the receptionist. “Hi, uh, I’m here to deposit a sperm sample.”

A woman in her early 50’s, with graying blond hair, looked up from her computer screen, giving him a warm smile. “Hello there. Sure thing. Name?”

“Fox Mulder.”

She clicked her mouse a few times, looking at the computer monitor. “Okay, got you right here.”

She then stood up from the desk, and walked to a cabinet on the opposite wall, pulling out a plastic cup, and returned to the desk. “Here you go. Now, our apologies, but all the exam rooms are occupied at the moment with patients. Do you mind using a restroom?”

Mulder blinked. “Uh, I don’t think that’s a problem.”

“Okay. Sorry again about the rooms. Fridays are always hectic around here.”

He gave her a small smile. “That’s okay.”

The receptionist then showed Mulder to a unisex restroom in the hallway off the waiting room, and departed back to the desk. He walked into the bathroom, setting the cup on the sink, and stared at it.

She sat in the waiting room, and sighed. What was taking Mulder so long? She glanced at her watch; 6:13 pm. Suddenly her cell phone started ringing.

“Scully.”

“It’s me.”

She let out a breathy laugh. “What are you doing, Mulder?”

“Not a damn thing,” he griped.

Scully sighed. “What’s wrong?”

“Well, uh, I’m having some trouble. Can you, uh, come back here?”

She was speechless.

“Hello? Scully?”

“Yeah, I’m here. I thought you were a pro, Mulder.”

He sighed. “They stuck me in a bathroom, and there are no, uh, items in here for assistance.”

She rolled her eyes. “What about that photographic memory of yours?”

“It’s not working. Would you just get back here? Please?”

Scully gave a breathy laugh of disbelief into the phone, before hanging up. The very idea was so ridiculous to her. Her and Mulder, in a bathroom, at a doctor’s office. She giggled nervously, shaking her head. Oh well. She got up from her chair and walked back into the hallway, looking up and down, wondering where Mulder was. Then she saw a door open to her left and Mulder standing there with furrowed brows, looking embarrassed and anxious. He obviously didn’t think it was very funny.

As Scully stepped inside the bathroom, closing and locking the door behind her, she had a powerful feeling that’d she been in a similar situation before. Scully didn’t see how that could be possible, but suddenly vivid memories from medical school, of locked rooms at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, rushed to the front of her mind and she had to quickly suppress them before feelings of guilt could blossom in the pit of her stomach. She looked around the stale bathroom, with the white toilet and sink and not much else.

Scully grinned at him. “I’m shocked you couldn’t get into the mood in here, Mulder.”

He sighed, giving her a blank stare.

She moved towards him, wrapping her arms around his waist, and looked at him. “Just so you know, I’m not giving you a blow job next to a toilet.”

Mulder laughed.

Scully felt relieved as the anxiety was erased from his features, and she gazed up at him. “Kiss me.”

Mulder looked down into her eyes, gazing at her, and then brought his hands up to hold her neck, his thumbs caressing the sides of her face. He bent his head to capture her lips with his, kissing her slowly. Scully appreciated his tenderness, but she wanted to get out of this bathroom as soon as possible. She kissed him soundly, and her hands went to Mulder’s suit pants. The belt was already undone, along with his button, and her hand pushed the zipper down as she reached inside his boxer briefs, Mulder’s suit pants falling to his ankles.

Scully stroked his cock until it hardened in her hand, Mulder groaning into her mouth. Then she pulled her hand away after freeing his erection from his boxer briefs. “You do it.”

He stared at her, breathing hard. “What?”

“I want you to do it,” she said, her voice almost purring.

Mulder once again devoured Scully’s lips as he began to stroke his hard cock, and she reached out with her left hand for the cup on the sink. Scully moaned into his mouth, and he broke free of the kiss to breathe. He laid his forehead against hers, panting heavily, as he gripped his cock tighter and stroked faster.

“Scully…” he groaned.

“I want to watch you come, Mulder,” she whispered.

A low, desperate sound escaped his throat, and he gripped her waist with his left arm to maintain his balance as his hand pumped faster along his swollen shaft.

“Fuck, Scully… aahh, fuck,” Mulder panted, feeling the pressure increase.

She made sure she had a firm grasp on the cup with her left hand, thankful that Mulder had already removed the lid before she’d gotten in there, and ran her right hand through his hair, whispering his name into his ear and telling him to come. His legs locked and Scully brought the cup to his erection, tilting it towards the engorged head. He then let out a guttural moan, as his hand stroked his hard cock to orgasm, his seed spilling into the plastic cup. Mulder stood there, panting hard and leaning his forehead against Scully’s.

He looked down at the cup in her hand, as she reached over to place it back on the sink, and saw that some of his ejaculate had gotten onto her thumb. Mulder reached for the tissue box on the sink, but then his eyes widened in shock as she gazed at him, licking her thumb.

“Scully,” Mulder groaned.

"I told you I'd make it up to you," she said, winking.

“You’re going to ruin my surprise.”

Scully gave him a puzzled look. “What does that mean?”

“It means I’m now tempted to skip over the preliminaries and just have my way with you as soon as possible,” he grinned, pulling up his boxer briefs.

“There are preliminaries? Mulder, I don’t need to be seduced. I’m a sure thing.”

He laughed. “It has nothing to do with seduction.”

“Hmm, well, I’ll be in the waiting room,” Scully said, before exiting the bathroom as Mulder zipped up his suit pants.

*****

Once Mulder and Scully departed Dr. Parenti’s office on Oakhurst Avenue in College Park, they took a quick five minute drive to the College Park Marriott Hotel and Conference Center on University Boulevard East. After Mulder parked the car, he turned and grinned at Scully.

“Mulder, what are we doing here?” Scully asked, pursing her lips. Why this place? Of all places? She couldn't believe it.

He cleared his throat. “Now, Scully, I believe you said that you would make it up to me.”

She stared at him. “Yes, I did say that.”

Mulder smiled. “Well, this is how you’re gonna start.”

He then got out of the car, walked around to Scully’s side, and opened her door for her. She eyed him suspiciously as she got out, and stood next to the car door. Mulder then held out his hand to her. Scully crossed her arms and stared at him.

“Scully, you’re gonna hold my hand while we walk into the building.”

She arched an eyebrow at him. “We’re in public, Mulder.”

He smirked at her. “Dr. Parenti’s office was public.”

“We were in a locked room where no one could see us. People will see us here, Mulder.”

“I’m willing to take that chance,” he replied. “Scully, it’s just for tonight. Humor me.”

Scully sighed, and inserted her small right hand into Mulder’s larger one. As they walked across the parking lot, Scully was trying to beat back the warm, fuzzy feelings that were suddenly swelling in the pit of her stomach while Mulder held her hand in his. It was silly sentimental things like this that would make her fall even more in love with him than she was already. She refused to look over at Mulder, knowing he’d just have some soppy grin on his face.

When they reached the hotel lobby, Scully pulled her hand away but Mulder gripped it tighter. “Nope.”

She sighed.

Mulder followed signs for the conference center through the lobby until they came upon double French doors and a sign for “The Garden.”

Memories started to flood Scully’s brain. “Mulder, why are we here?”

He chuckled. “What do you mean? We’re here to eat dinner.”

“Yeah, but why this place?”

“Because I recall you saying that you love Maryland blue crab, and this restaurant came highly recommended by Chuck.”

Scully stared at him. “I have no recent memory of talking about blue crab.”

Mulder smiled at her. “It wasn’t recent. It was when we were working that case in Braddock Heights, Maryland and the town didn’t really have any decent restaurants.”

“Braddock Heights,” Scully repeated pensively. “Mulder, that was years ago.”

He stared at her. “Yep. May 1996. What’s your point?”

“How could you possibly remember I said that?”

Mulder gave her a surprised look. “I remember everything you say.”

He then opened one of the French doors for Scully, and she walked through. A painful memory was pushing to the front of her mind, and she was desperately trying to suppress it. Mulder walked up to the hostess, as Scully looked around the restaurant. She saw patrons sitting in the familiar Queen Anne-style chairs pulled up to tables draped with white tablecloths, topped with small oil lamps and brass chargers. On one wall she saw the familiar Chinese and Balinese artwork, and noticed the bar that filled one corner of the room. Doors along the opposite side the room led to the Asian garden, with tables that one could sit and dine in nice weather. Scully remembered eating out there in the garden several times over the course of one summer, and then hastily tried to push those memories away.

“Our table won’t be ready for about 10 minutes, but we can wait at the bar,” Mulder said, turning to face her.

“Okay.”

After hanging up their coats, Mulder placed his hand on Scully’s lower back as they walked to the bar, something Scully was growing keenly aware of since those gossiping agents unwittingly brought it to her attention. She now realized that Mulder did this a lot, that he’d actually been doing it for years, and wondered why she’d never really thought too much about it before. Once they reached the bar, and sat up on the stools, Mulder stared down at Scully’s exposed knee as she crossed her legs, and then laid his hand there. Scully stared at him hard, arching her eyebrow, until he removed it, throwing his hands up in surrender. This present scenario felt awfully like a romantic date to her, and a warning siren of self-preservation was sounding off somewhere in the back of her mind.

“What do you want to drink?” Mulder asked her, as the bartender walked over.

Scully twitched her mouth, deciding. “Well, I can’t have alcohol right now. But um… I want something sweet.” She then felt her face reddening a bit. She knew what she wanted, but she felt that ordering it made her sound like such a little girl. Oh well. “I’ll take a Shirley Temple.”

The bartender nodded and turned to Mulder, who was smiling at Scully, and then Mulder ordered. “Uh, I’ll have a Coke.”

“Mulder, you don’t have to abstain from alcohol just because I am.”

“I don’t feel like drinking, Scully,” he said, shrugging his shoulders.

After the bartender brought them their beverages, Scully eyed her partner. “So, uh, seriously, Mulder. What in the world made you suddenly remember that I had mentioned that I like Maryland blue crab in the spring of 1996?”

He smirked at her. “You didn’t say you liked it. You said you loved it. And I didn’t ‘suddenly remember,’ Scully. It’s just one of the things I know, of all the things you’ve said over the years that are firmly locked inside my brain. I remember everything you’ve said since our very first case. I can remember entire conversations. In fact, I, uh...” Mulder chuckled.

Scully could see him turn slightly red. “What?”

“Well, back when I used to spend my nights alone on my couch,” replied Mulder. “I used to replay our conversations in my head until I fell asleep.”

“Really?” Scully said, smiling affectionately at him despite herself.

Mulder nodded, gazing at her. “Yep.”

After being shown to their table in a quiet corner a few minutes later, with a Chinese landscape painting over their heads, and ordering, their appetizers arrived at the table, the flatbread salad with mixed baby greens and balsamic vinaigrette for Scully and the grilled shrimp for Mulder.

“I’m guessing you’ve probably been here before lots of times,” Mulder said.

Her eyes flew to his, her stomach going in knots. “What makes you say that?”

“Because it’s just down the road from the University of Maryland campus. You must’ve come here when you were college, right?”

Scully sighed, the knots in her stomach loosening slightly. “No, it wasn’t here when I was in college. It didn’t open until after I was in medical school.”

“So, you’ve been here before?” Mulder asked, stabbing a shrimp with his fork.

“Yes,” Scully nodded. “A few times. But that was many years ago.”

Scully desperately wanted to change the subject, and so she asked Mulder what Chuck Burks was up to lately. Conversation about Chuck carried them through to the arrival of their entrees, as their waiter placed the Maryland-style crab cakes in front of Scully and the filet of beef tenderloin in front of Mulder. Scully enjoyed the rest of her dinner in ease and comfortableness, the knots in her stomach having dissipated.

*****

Upon returning to the hotel lobby once they’d finished their meal, Mulder told Scully to wait there while he went out to the car for something. She wondered what he was up to now. To her dismay, he returned with their overnight bags from the trunk of the car.

Scully balked. “Mulder, are we staying here in the hotel?”

“Yeah,” he replied, waggling his eyebrows at her. “It’s a nice surprise, don’t you think?”

Scully’s stomach had once again tightened up into knots, and her fight-or-flight response was going off. “Mulder, we can’t stay here.”

He looked at her, confused. “Why not?”

What was she going to say? “Um… Mulder, we’re in the D.C. area. Someone might recognize us.”

He nodded, winking. “Which is why we’re going to head up to the suite separately.”

“Suite?” Scully said in disbelief.

Mulder grinned. “Yep, I made reservations. You treated me to a suite in Chicago. I’m just returning the favor, Scully.”

She sighed. How could she stay at this hotel? She couldn’t do it. But she knew that the only way she was going to be able to persuade Mulder to leave off this course of action was with the truth. And so her only options were to either confess to him that this Marriott hotel had been a key figure in an adulterous affair she’d once had, or stay the night here with him. She quickly chose the latter.

Mulder allowed Scully to go up to the room first. She walked through the living room area and into the bedroom, which was separated by a privacy wall. After setting her overnight bag down on the bed, and gathering her personal items, she retreated into the bathroom and took a quick shower, making sure not to get her hair wet.

After exiting the bathroom, wrapped in a towel, she walked out to see Mulder sitting in his white undershirt and navy blue boxer briefs on the edge of the bed in the darkened bedroom, staring at his entwined hands. Light filtered in from the opening to the living room area. Mulder looked up and gazed at her, sighing. They hadn’t had sex since last Tuesday, 10 days ago. Scully felt like it had been much longer than that. She walked over to Mulder and stood in front of him, running her hand through his hair. He gazed into her face, lifting up his hands and pulling her towel free. His hands went to her waist, as he ran his eyes over her petite body.

“Scully…,” Mulder breathed, rubbing his hands up and down her sides before bringing them up to gently palm and squeeze her soft, perfectly round breasts.

She could never get over how he spoke her name this way, with more amazement and reverence in his tone of voice than he’d ever used for the most incredible and awe-inspiring things he’d witnessed over the years in their work together.

Mulder pulled Scully closer to him, running his hands along her strong back and then down to her ass, and bent his head down to take one pink nipple into his mouth, stroking it in circles with his tongue. She closed her eyes and sighed. When his teeth grazed over her nipple and then bit gently, she moaned, her hands moving from Mulder’s shoulders to the sides of his face and into his hair, gripping it between her fingers. He began to greedily suck her nipple hard, before moving to her other breast to give this new taut nipple the same attention.

Scully felt a surge of heated excitement at her center, her clit tightening and wet desire flowing out from inside her, and she started to squirm and whimper. His right hand moved up over her hips from her ass, down to her thighs and up between them. She shifted to spread her legs, Mulder grunting in satisfaction against her breast.

Mulder groaned when his hand found Scully’s wetness, his fingers sinking into her folds and gathering her juices forward to circle her swollen clit. She moaned, moving her hands from his hair to grip his shoulders. He then slid his index and middle fingers down to her entrance, and then thrust inside her, hard and to the knuckles.

Scully cried out, fingers digging into Mulder’s shoulders that were still covered by his white undershirt, as jolts of pleasure rippled from her core to her brain. He pulled his fingers out slowly, while taking her other nipple into his mouth and grazing his teeth against it, and then thrust back in even harder while biting down on her nipple.

“Oh, my God,” she cried out again, her eyes slamming shut, and pressed her center against Mulder’s hand as he started to circle her clit with his thumb along with the thrusts of his fingers. Scully’s hips moved with his hand as his mouth moved up her chest from her breasts and to her neck, kissing and stroking his tongue against her skin.

The ministrations of his curled fingers against her sensitive spot inside her front wall and his thumb pressing down on her clit it tight circles soon caused her body to go rigid and she felt that delicious tension heightening toward its plateau.

“Mulder… I’m gonna… I’m gonna,” Scully panted.

“Yes,” he breathed against her neck, picking up the pace.

Her head fell back and she gripped his shoulders even tighter, moaning, “Oohh, there it is.”

Her tension burst, her muscles clenching around his fingers, and she was coming, her load moans filling the bedroom. Mulder held her against him as her waves of pleasure subsided, and her sensitive nerves began to recover. Scully bent her head to kiss him passionately on the mouth, and he began to stand up. He then broke their kiss to quickly remove his undershirt, tossing it to the floor before removing his boxer briefs.

“How do you want it, Mulder?” she whispered, feeling his engorged erection prod her stomach insistently.

He was breathing hard. “How do you want it, Scully?”

She shook her head, grinning at him. “I’m here to make it up to you, remember?”

Mulder threw his arm out to turn down the bed and then picked Scully up, setting her down on the mattress and she scooched backwards to lay her head on a pillow. As he climbed up on the mattress and moved up towards her, she saw his hungry expression and dark eyes, and thought he resembled some large animal about to devour her. Scully's eyes widened and she swallowed, feeling her clit begin to throb once again.

“Tell me how you want it,” she whispered.

“On top,” Mulder panted, moving to hover over her. “Between your legs.”

Scully spread her legs, bending her knees as his hips settled between them as he held himself up by his elbows. He then brought one hand down between them to spread her wet folds, and his hard cock nudged her entrance. She whimpered and pushed back, craving him inside her.

“Scully,” Mulder whispered, his voice again filled with reverence and awe.

He then slowly thrust inside her tight cunt. Her muscles contracted around him, desperate for his thickness, and Mulder groaned. She loved that sound, and clenched her muscles around him again. He gazed down into her face. “Oh, Scully,” he whispered again, pressing his forehead against hers.

He then began to thrust in a strong, steady rhythm and she started moaning. With each thrust, Scully could feel the base of Mulder’s thick shaft rub against her slick, swollen folds, his taut balls beat against her tingling anus, the engorged head of his cock stroke her inner walls, his pelvic bone rub her clit.

Scully then started to rotate her hips to meet Mulder’s thrusts, and soon felt another orgasm surge through her body, her back arched and her hips bucked against him. Mulder heard her moans turn into loud cries and the cries sounded a lot like his name. He started thrusting with increasing urgency, the clenching muscles of her wet cunt urging him on to ecstasy.

Wildly explicit language tumbled out of his mouth as the spark of pleasure issuing out from his balls to his tightening groin became a tidal wave. Scully, as her own high was slowly subsiding, watched Mulder’s face contort as pleasure gripped his features, loud guttural moans escaping his throat, and he was coming, filling her womb with his hot seed.

As she lay on her side, facing Mulder, Scully wondered if she’d ever be able to open up about her past. He was just so… good. Sure, he had a knack for rule-breaking and refusing to go by the book a lot of the time. But there was a reason for that. He hadn’t always been that way. There was a time when he was the perfect boy scout, unfailingly obeying the orders of his superiors and always going by the book. Until, he believed, this cost a fellow agent his life. He had known what the right thing to do was, the course of action he should take, but this wasn’t by the book. He followed the rules, and the agent died. Scully knew that this haunted Mulder.

Since then he allowed his own conscience to be his guide, even if this didn’t go by the book, because he believed that his own innate sense of right and wrong was superior, and in many ways it truly was. Knowing what she knew about Mulder, his goodness, his family and his fears concerning his true progenitor, how could Scully ever tell him that she’d had an affair with a married man? What would he think of her? Wouldn’t he be ashamed of her actions? She knew she was.

Mulder watched Scully as she fell asleep and wondered why she’d looked so panic-stricken when they’d arrived at the hotel, when they stood outside the restaurant, and when he’d told her they were going to stay. As he looked into her face over the course of the evening, he knew she was hiding things behind it. He could only hope that one day these things would no longer be hidden from him. But for now he was perfectly content to spend the weekend locked away in a hotel room with her, praying for a miracle, knowing full well that the FBI and its stress as well as the anxiety of IVF treatment awaited them on Monday morning.

Chapter Text

In the early morning of Saturday, December 4th, Scully awoke in a one bedroom suite at the College Park Marriott Hotel and Conference Center and felt a surge of panic. She had to get out of this place as soon as possible. Scully quietly rolled out of bed, making sure not to wake a sleeping Mulder, and headed into the bathroom to take a shower. Twenty minutes later, she left the bathroom to find that Mulder had woken up.

“Why are you up so early?” he asked groggily, glancing over at the digital clock on the bedside table telling him it was 7:26 am.

“Mulder, we have to go.”

“But I got the room for the whole weekend, Scully.”

She sighed. “I appreciate the gesture, really. But I can’t stay. My medications are at home, the estrogen and progesterone. I have to get back.”

Mulder sat up in bed. “Scully, can’t you just run home and grab what you need, and then come back?”

Scully bent down to take out some clothes from her overnight bag. “I want to go home, Mulder.”

He heard the finality in her tone of voice, and knew that any argument he could possibly think of to change her mind would be pointless. Mulder got out of bed and headed into the bathroom to take a shower. Ten minutes later, Mulder left the bathroom and proceeded to get dressed. After making sure they hadn’t left anything behind in the room, they made their way down the lobby and Scully went outside to wait in Mulder’s car while he checked out at the front desk. Their 30 minute drive back to Georgetown was a silent one.

*****

August 1986

Scully had spent the weekend moving into her new apartment, the off-campus student housing she’d arranged through the Medical Residence Hall of the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, in East Baltimore, in the Fells Point neighborhood just south of the medical campus. Thankfully, with the help of her parents, Melissa, and the newly-married Charlie and Jennifer, it had only taken one Saturday to move her from her parents’ home in Alexandria. Scully was especially thankful that it had taken just one day, since tensions were currently high in the Scully household.

To Bill Scully Sr’s chagrin, Charlie had married Jennifer just one month after graduating high school. The fight that had erupted in the kitchen when Charlie announced their plans to get married was sure to go down as one of the more legendary ones. Bill Sr accused Charlie of getting Jennifer pregnant, which Charlie adamantly denied. He railed at Charlie for throwing his future away, his chance to make something of himself, to have a successful career and make some decent money, to spend the time needed to become a man before thoughts of settling down entered into the equation.

Charlie railed right back, defending his decision, and made it clear that nothing would ever change his mind. He was going to marry Jennifer. A compromise was reached begrudgingly. Even though Charlie had been accepted to several colleges, albeit not as prestigious as the ones Melissa and Scully had been accepted to, he had planned to skip college and get a full-time job. But if Charlie agreed to attend university and graduate with a degree, Bill Sr would not say a word against Charlie’s decision to get married for the rest of his days. And so on Saturday, July 12th, Charlie and Jennifer were married at St. John’s Church in Alexandria in front of 30 friends and family. Maggie cried through the ceremony, while Bill Sr remained silent and stony.

Bill Sr did not understand Charlie. He was too much like Maggie, which he thought was fine for a woman, but was completely unacceptable for a man. Unlike the other Scully children, Charlie had zero ambition. He had no desire to join the navy like his father and brother. This was not so much of a problem for Bill Sr; he knew the military was not for everyone. But he at least expected Charlie to have some kind of goal for his life, and to work hard towards that goal. What Bill Sr could not accept was that Charlie’s life goal was to simply be a husband and a father. That’s all Charlie really wanted. Maggie understood him. Bill Sr did not.

And so the Scullys, save Bill Jr who was currently at his naval base in Pensacola, spent a rather tense Saturday packing up Scully’s now-former bedroom and moving her into her furnished apartment in Baltimore. Although Bill Sr was proud of his daughter and her choice to pursue medicine, he did not really like the fact that she was moving this far away from him and his watchful eye. He’d managed to keep her living at home all four years of college, but he couldn’t keep her at home any longer. Scully was 22 years old, an adult, and she had things she needed to accomplish. He’d always known he couldn’t keep her at home forever. But Bill Sr did find it reassuring that Charlie and Jennifer had moved to the same city, as they would both be attending the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. On Saturday night, when Maggie and Bill Sr had returned home to Alexandria, without Scully, he broke down and cried.

The following Monday morning, August 11th, Scully arrived at Johns Hopkins medical campus for orientation. She learned that she had been matriculated into the Florence Sabin College, one of four colleges that students were divided into in order to promote mentoring, camaraderie, networking, and professionalism. Scully was then directed to a table where she’d wait to meet her appointed mentor, Dr. Daniel Waterston, one of six faculty advisors for Florence Sabin College. There were four other First Year medical students already sitting at the table, all female.

“Hello, I’m Lalita Chopra,” spoke up a very pretty Indian woman with long black hair held back in a tight ponytail, and reached out to shake Scully’s hand.

“Hi,” Scully replied, shaking her han