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Up in your arms

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Prologue



A lifetime of searching had yielded results: truth, in its infinite cruelty.

He’d sent Samantha up into starlight: an innocent sprite turned celestial body. His entire life he’d dreamed nightly of her, of what felt like nothing but her: her face, haunted and terrified, as she was dragged away from him into the bright lights; her screams of Fox. Every day he hated the sound of his own name more.

He rarely slept, not really. And when he did, never well. He didn’t want to. Sleeping meant living there again and again. Whether real or imagined or simply a manifestation of guilt, the nightmare lived there, a constant within his mind, waiting to be set free.

Tonight, he’d wrapped his arms around his lost sister and let her go, up into the sky, for good. The tears he’d wept were real, but so was his freedom.

Scully drove them to the airport and as they sped closer to home he felt as if he were sleepwalking the entire time: the car, the motel. The airline counter. Security. A cup of coffee pressed between his chilled hands by Scully’s warm ones, the steam and smell of it encircling him. Scully’s blue eyes watching him over the rim of her own cup.

He drank, but tasted nothing.

They said very few words to each other for hours, but when the plane touched down in DC, he felt her take his hand and squeeze it. He looked over and saw tears in her eyes. She was the only other person in the world who could possibly understand where his head was at this moment, and he squeezed back and smiled, not really knowing what to say, but her eyes told him everything he needed to know.

“You gonna be okay tonight, Mulder?” she asked tentatively as she later pulled up to the curb outside Hegal Place. 

“Yeah,” he said, and he really thought he meant it. “I’m okay.”

She nodded and he could tell she wanted to believe him. “I’ll see you tomorrow, then.”

“Tomorrow.” 

When he closed the door of his apartment and dropped his keys on the dining room table, he heaved a sigh of relief. He was glad to be home again, but he’d never felt so alone in his life.



***



Sitting in Skinner’s office felt strange this morning. Mulder was having the distinct realization that his life had been composed of sections: the part before Samantha disappeared, the part while she was missing, and the part after. The now.

The now, the now, the now.

What now?

Scully had offered to close the file on Samantha for him, to help ease his transition into this new part of his life. But he’d insisted on doing it himself. It was the only thing that felt right.

Skinner closed the file and folded his hands in front of him on his desk, tilting his head sympathetically. “I’m very sorry to hear about your sister, Agent Mulder,” he offered.

“Thank you, sir,” Mulder said, somehow both robotically and earnestly.

“I know you’ve been waiting a long time to close this one. I’m sorry it didn’t have a happier resolution.”

“Happy resolutions are rare, sir, in our line of work,” Mulder pointed out.

Skinner nodded, perhaps a bit abashed. “Do you need to take some time off?”

Mulder hadn’t taken time off in years, at least none that he hadn’t been forced to. He hadn’t even considered it an option. 

“I think… I’m okay,” he replied. “Working is probably the best thing for me to do right now.”

Skinner nodded, respecting that.

Mulder placed a new file on his boss’s desk, eager to get started. “Speaking of work, I believe there’s a situation in Los Angeles that requires my and Agent Scully’s attention.”

Skinner took the file, but still looked only at Mulder. “I’ll take a look.” He studied the younger man closely. “You know, Mulder... I think moving on from all of this will be good for you.”

Mulder eyed him questioningly. At first he wondered if perhaps his boss was crossing a line; if it was, in fact, any of the Assistant Director’s business what would be good for him. But he knew Skinner only said this out of genuine concern for his well-being, out of simple friendship.

He’d lost his sister, for good. He’d lost his mother. He was completely out of family. Friends were in short supply, so he welcomed Skinner’s sentiment.

“Thank you,” he said, smiling tightly.

Skinner nodded and dismissed him, with the proper assurances he’d give Mulder’s 302 and travel requests his attention.

Mulder closed the door behind him and walked towards the elevator, down the hallway. It had never felt so long before. 

Moving on.

What would that look like?



















Chapter One: In starlit nights



Mulder sat in his apartment, relieved it was a Friday. It had been an exhausting week, both physically and emotionally. As ready as he was to move on from the entire ordeal, he looked forward to a weekend of rest.

There was a knock at the door, and he knew instantly it would be Scully. He tried not to take that thought a step further, into who else would it be? territory. 

When he opened it, there she stood, Chinese takeout in one hand, two DVDs in the other. He must have looked surprised, because her face fell immediately. 

“Oh my god, I should have called,” Scully said, deflated. “Obviously you’re not in the mood for movie night tonight.”

“No, no, come on in,” he said. He had indeed completely forgotten about their weekly ritual but now that she was here, the last thing he wanted was for her to go. He reached out, took the food from her, and corralled her into the room by her shoulder. 

“Are you sure?” she asked cautiously. He was so used to this routine by now; him going through something traumatic, her constantly checking in. Now that he thought about it, it was a little strange she’d turned up with takeout and movies as if nothing huge had happened.

“I’m sure. What did you bring?” He gestured towards the DVDs.  

The Jerk or Donnie Darko, ” she said, holding them up. “Although now I don’t really know what I was thinking.”

“Yeah, that’s quite a divergence,” he chuckled. 

Mulder typically chose a comedy whenever it was his pick. Scully’s laughter was a rare creature he sought out like the most diligent of birdwatchers, and he took it as a personal victory whenever his movie selection could elicit some. But instead he felt compelled to point towards the bunny with the macabre Cheshire Cat grin.

“I think fate is telling me this one.”

“Fate, huh?” she grinned. “Well, that’s appropriate, I guess.”

He nodded. “You cue it up, I’ll go get us some plates.”

“Okay.” She slipped off her shoes, which was unusual. She rarely got too comfortable in his apartment, and for some reason he felt a flutter he hadn’t expected, as if something  had changed. He wondered what it was.

He dished out the food and brought it over, setting down two beers next to the plates, cracking them open with a fizz-pop . He sat on the couch, and she situated herself on the floor by his coffee table, sitting cross legged. 

“So… what did Skinner have to say this afternoon?” she asked, placing a napkin on her lap and taking a bite of lo mein. They hadn’t seen much of each other that day, as Scully had been stuck finishing up some overdue paperwork. 

“Just… asked if I need some time off.” 

Scully looked over at him. “Do you?”

He shook his head, mouth full. “I don’t think so, I really don’t.”

She nodded, sipped her beer. “I’m glad to hear that, Mulder.”

Work was good for Mulder, and it had been doing the trick at distracting him all day. But something was nagging at him about his future on the X-Files, and although he knew not what, he knew he would need to face it at some point.

“Can I ask… what happened?” she asked carefully. “Out in those woods? What did you find?”

It hadn’t been the first time Scully had missed seeing something, and it wouldn’t be the last. He wanted to tell her everything but he was afraid. Afraid of what, he wasn’t certain, but perhaps that the finality he’d been granted could be snatched away at any moment by her ever predictable skepticism, regardless of how much she cared about him.

“Confirmation, Scully,” he told her. It was as much as he wanted to reveal at the moment, and she didn’t push. 

Looking at her now, it felt like some kind of invisible weight had been lifted from them both. She appeared at ease, relaxed. Her body language felt different, and it was hard to describe, but he noticed.

“I can’t begin to imagine how much relief you must feel, Mulder,” she said softly. “Back when Melissa died…” she trailed off, reliving it. “It hurt like hell, but I remember being somewhat thankful that at the very least, I knew what happened to her.” She looked up at him. “You never had that... until now.”

His eyes met hers. They shared that certainty: their sisters were both dead. Their fathers were both dead. Scully hadn’t been orphaned like he had, but it still felt like they were soldiers returned from the same side of the same war.

“I’m okay, Scully,” he said. Maybe it was simply having her by his side, but for the first time since he’d let Samantha go, he truly believed it. “Really.”

Her eyes softened and she nodded, almost as if she’d needed confirmation as well. 

As they finished up their dinner, Mulder pressed play on the remote, and the discordant strains of Echo & the Bunnymen’s The Killing Moon permeated the living room as Jake Gyllenhaal rode his bike along the Carpathian Ridge towards his own fate.

Mulder settled back into the couch, his eyes taking turns between watching the movie and watching Scully. She was right. Relief flooded his veins that that part of his life was indeed over.

He would wait until fate showed him what it had in store for him next.



***



She’d been here before so many times.

Not just in his apartment, the stale scent of his sweat and aftershave as familiar as her own. But here, in this position of which way do we go. It was a choice she’d never made because they’d never been forced to make it. Perhaps they never would.

She’d opted to take the floor tonight, her back against the couch, and because of this Mulder had sprawled out across it, his arm resting just behind her shoulder. Every so often his fingers would brush her back and whether it was an accident, whether he meant to or not, she couldn’t focus, she couldn’t think of anything other than his fingers touching her, so she turned her head ever so slightly to surreptitiously study him.

He hadn’t noticed her staring, as his eyes were fixated on the glow of the screen. In all the sci-fi-fantasy films he liked, the guy always got the girl: even this particular movie was romantic, albeit tragic. But never in real life, not in this life, as much as she hoped for it. She wanted to laugh at the irony: they were practically living a sci-fi fantasy and still, years later, nothing.

He sat with his head propped under one arm, his collar unbuttoned, tie loosened, shirt untucked. His half-drunk beer sat on the floor within his reach. Work-Mulder was one thing, but Home-Mulder was a far more elusive animal for her to witness in captivity. She imagined him doing this very same thing night after night regardless of her presence, and wondered if her being here meant anything, changed anything. 

She was so tired of waiting endlessly to know the truth. Seven years together and she felt like she knew him so well, but at the same time barely at all. It was confounding. 

Perhaps it was the gentle brush of his fingers, or his reliable steady breathing, but something had awakened inside of her and she felt a bravery she didn’t recognize. At first she wanted to blame the six pack they’d been sharing but she knew she was not drunk, not at all; the Shiner Bock swam inside her like a friend, like someone she’d needed for years to tell her to go after the things she wanted, the things she deserved. Like Missy in her ear telling her she was worthwhile no matter how her parents made her feel.

No… this was something else. And in a flash, the answer came to her. She suddenly realized she’d been subconsciously planning what was about to happen, that she’d known it even before she came over, and had no idea until this moment. All of these years, she’d waited. She’d known not why, but she’d waited. 

Now, she knew why.

It was because of that deepest, darkest shadow in Mulder’s heart, the Samantha-shaped one she feared she’d never get out from behind. And for the first time in their partnership, she could finally see the sun.

“Mulder, can I ask you a question?”

He looked down at her. “Sure.”

She took a deep breath, and then out it came. “Are you lonely?”

He blinked, surprised at this personal affront. She expected this reaction; they so rarely discussed their emotions with each other. “Why do you ask?”

She didn’t want him to think this was still about him; about his having lost so much. It wasn’t about him. This was about her. 

She looked directly into his eyes and told him the truth. “Because I am.”

His expression changed just then, not to pity or sympathy but something else. She knew his face, every line, every pore. She knew it better than she probably should. And what she saw was complete and total understanding.

Her gaze fell away, unable to muster the courage to hold his own, and landed on his arm instead as it rested on the edge of the couch. It enchanted her; the shape of his extensor digitorum, traveling from his wrist to the crook of his arm, the dimple it created where his elbow bent. His sleeve, rolled up and resting between bicep and forearm, where it always landed at the end of a brutal day. His skin: the tint of it, like the sand she’d once trod to find a cure to save his life halfway around the world.

She’d lain awake night after night and thought of little else since then: those long hours spent in Africa when she’d feared for his life. At the time, it felt like they still had such a long way to go to reach each other.

But there was no distance tonight, not this time. He was here, now. He was inches away from her, his aroma intoxicating, his breathing audible even over the sounds of the television. He was real and she was real and somehow she knew that this thing between them was real, too; this thing they’d denied themselves over the years was real and it would not go away, it would remain, lingering in the air like a cloaked spacecraft. 

She couldn’t see it, but it was real. In this she wanted to believe.

He hadn’t answered her question, just stared at her, his expression unreadable, perhaps wondering how to respond. She turned towards him from her position on the floor and her hand reached out to touch his forearm, her fingers curling around it. It felt so freeing, just making this decision to touch him, an active decision, and following through with it. There was no reason, no excuse. 

This was it, this was the moment of no return, and it was no longer a choice but a compulsion. She was tired of being lonely. She wanted to be touched by someone. She wanted to be held by someone. And she wanted that someone to be him. 

She couldn’t pretend the spacecraft didn’t exist, not anymore. 

“Mulder.”

She rose up onto her knees to face him. The remote rested beside his head on the arm of the couch and she took it, muting the notorious dance stylings of Sparkle Motion, setting it back on the table. 

He stared at her with a look she couldn’t figure out, but it wasn’t a look that said don’t. It was the furthest thing from that look she could discern. So she leaned into him, all the way in, and she felt him inhale ever so slightly as she took the biggest risk of her life.

When their lips touched, he kissed her right back, and all the things she knew were wrong with the world disappeared from her mind; everything bad that had happened in their lives was simply gone, and what remained were Mulder’s lips pressed against her own; nothing but the sweet taste of victory. 

His eyes closed and she could hear a small sound from deep within him, the tiniest sigh of satisfaction, maybe even relief. This was exactly the way she’d imagined it happening all these years, right down to the gentle gurgle of his fish tank beside them, ethereal green light dancing on the walls. Here, right here, is where she’d pictured it. 

The heavenly delirium of his mouth against hers thrilled her enough to spur her on, to part her lips and see what he would do. She wanted him to go further, not to end the kiss sweetly at the stroke of the New Year but to fill her mouth with his tongue and push her down to the floor, put an end to this persistent ache she suspected they’d both felt for years.

But he didn’t. He kissed her gently, almost reverently. Like he didn’t want to break her. Like he was holding something back.

She pulled away, a flush of uncertainty spreading from her head to her toes. 

“Say something,” she whispered. His mysteries were endless, including his feelings for her. She pulled her hands together protectively, resting them on the couch between them.

His free hand moved to cover her own, the warmth a comfort, but still he did not speak. Suddenly a terror grabbed hold of her that perhaps she’d done something wrong, that maybe this was a huge mistake. Maybe he’d abstained all these years for a reason and now she’d lose him forever.

“Mulder, speak to me.”

His eyes then revealed a new expression, and it was not hesitation or discomfort. It was not regret. It was absolute wonder. It was shock and amazement. It was discovery.

His mouth hung open, eyes softening. His voice cracked as he spoke. “I’m afraid... if I say something I’ll wake myself up,” he said, more quietly than she’d ever heard him speak. 

It didn’t feel real, any of it, although she knew it was. She smiled, taking his forearm, and with two fingers pinched it softly. He reacted but neither of them woke up, as she knew would be the case. She brought his arm up to her lips and kissed where she’d pinched him, just wanting to touch him, needing to feel the heat of him, wanting him more badly than she’d ever wanted anything in her entire life. Needing him to know this was real.

He reached out and tucked a stray strand of hair behind her ear, his hand curving, cupping her face, lingering there for a moment. He pulled her towards him and she prepared for another kiss, another step towards their nirvana, but instead he brought his mouth up close to her ear.

“Scully…” he whispered. “Are you sure you want this?” His voice hitched, hesitating, and she could tell he didn’t want to say the next part. But he did. “Are you sure you want… me?”

The idea that she could possibly want anyone other than Fox Mulder hadn’t occurred to her in years, and his humility in a moment where that was clearer than ever humbled her in turn. She was in awe of him, of his concern that her loneliness was perhaps misplaced.

“Yes, Mulder,” was all she could think of to say. Yes, yes, yes. I will tell you yes until the end of our days. “I only want you.”

She leaned back to read his face. There was a flicker in one of his mossy irises, the way he always looked when he was turning something important over in his mind, and for a moment she wondered if it was indeed the answer he’d expected. It was all she wanted to say to him, and that he wanted her back was all she wanted to hear. 

His silence frightened her but she had to know. She had to. She took a deep breath and asked him. “Do you... want me?” 

He shook his head, incredulous. Sitting up, he shifted his body so she was locked between his thighs. He took her hand and laid it against his heart. It was absolutely racing.

“What do you think?”

She nodded. She felt dizzy with euphoria; this was happening and what was only a dream a few seconds ago was now a reality, transforming before her very eyes. She’d never believed in the paranormal, and just as he’d slowly worked at convincing her of such over the years, this too, perhaps the most improbable, mysterious force of all, was coming to fruition. 

“Are you scared?” she asked. 

“Terrified,” he laughed. “Are you?”

“Yes,” she admitted quietly, because as long as the truth was coming out she may as well let him hear it.

“Of what, exactly?”

“I don’t really know,” she said. That I don’t know what I’m doing. That this could be a mistake. Of this entire thing, whatever it is, swallowing us whole.

“You know what I’m thinking about right now?” he asked. She shook her head. “I’m thinking about all the times I’ve been afraid before, all the times I’ve wandered into some dark, scary place… and how knowing you were right there beside me eased my fear.”

She grinned. “Having a flashlight helps.”

Laughing, he nodded. ”You’re right.” He let go of her hand, moved both of his own to her face. She could see him studying it, as if he were seeing it anew. 

“I believe in us, Scully, wherever we go together,” he said. “I want to believe this thing between us is real, and good, and true.” 

She was happy, genuinely happy, an emotion so foreign to her she almost felt like crying. He wanted her. This was destiny, something cosmic, she knew it. It was in moments like these that her faith felt completely justified: in fate, in God, in love. In him.

She exhaled, slowly, attempting to control her emotions. “I want to believe that, too.”

He cocked his head, gave her that patented Mulder grin, and rubbed her cheek softly with a thumb. “Then let’s shine a light on this, Scully.”

This time, he was the one who leaned in, and their second kiss was even better than their first.



Chapter Text

 

 

When their lips touched for the second time he tried to allow himself to believe it. 

He’d never actually thought this could be a reality: him with Scully, in all of their years together. As much as he wanted it, he’d relegated the possibility to the back of his mind like so many other mysteries he’d probably never know the answers to.

He kissed her tentatively at first, just enjoying the feel of this new thing he was allowed to do now, this new element to their relationship, but he didn’t have to wait long before they were kissing properly, her tongue softly pressing against his, her impassioned sighs echoing in his mouth.

She was still kneeling on the floor between his legs, and without breaking contact she stood, crawling into his lap. He felt himself hardening beneath her as she positioned herself directly on top of him, and she wrapped her arms around his neck and held him close.

He laid his hand on her ribcage, his thumb gently grazing the underside of her breast. She drew back a bit and giggled, actually giggled, into his mouth. 

“What’s so funny?” he asked gently.

“I’m sorry, I’m sorry,” she shook her head. She buried her head in his neck. “I guess I’m a little nervous.”

“Well, now you’re making me nervous.” He smiled reassuringly, moved his kisses to her jawline. He littered them down to her collarbone, a string of affection he’d been wanting to give her for so long, and she inhaled deeply, craning her neck, allowing him access.

“It’s just… as much as I’ve wanted this, I never, ever thought it would actually happen,” she continued. “I don’t feel… prepared.”

Mulder marveled at the idea that she’d been just as skeptical about getting physical with him as she was about practically everything else she encountered, and it felt fitting. But her admission brought to his attention his own nervousness. This was such a huge step for them. He’d done this whole routine before, of course, but with Scully he wasn’t exactly sure how to proceed, how fast he wanted to go, how much she’d allow. What they both even wanted tonight.

Given the glacial pace at which they’d been cultivating their attraction he’d always suspected that if it ever happened there would be a moment when the ice would crack and plunge and there would truly be no turning back. The surface of their world would be forever different. Was that moment right now?

“If it makes you feel any better,” he mumbled through his kisses, “I don’t think any amount of preparation would make this any less monumental, Scully.” He found her golden cross resting inside the hollow at her throat, and circled it with his tongue. 

She reacted to this with a soft giggle, and took his face in her hands. She brought her thumbs down to softly caress his lower lip, like she’d done once before, but this time she took the opportunity to lean forward and claim his lips with her own. He felt himself straining uncomfortably inside his pants, and began to feel the earnestness of his newest struggle: his desire to be inside her battling with his desire to make this last as long as possible.

She got up off his lap and stood before him, unbuttoning her shirt slowly, and even the way she did that was just so sexy, so unreal. He could hardly believe she was exposing herself to him this way. She finished the final button but didn’t remove the shirt yet, instead letting it hang open slightly, exposing just a narrow sliver of flawless skin. He could see only the valley between her breasts, and a tiny piece of what looked like plain white fabric.

She lifted an eyebrow provocatively and leaned forward, her hands going to remove his tie. As she did so, he was treated with a perfect view inside her shirt, like some kind of forbidden cavern to which he’d been handed the key. She began to slide the tie through his collar with a soft hiss. Her sly smile lit his insides on fire, and he closed his eyes, afraid that if he looked much longer at such a perfect sight he might actually turn to stone.

He heard his tie hit the floor as she tossed it aside, and felt her hands go to the buttons of his shirt, unbuttoning each one, down, down, down. He began inexplicably counting them, trying to distract his own body from reacting to this, such a simple action. She stopped, and he felt her stand back up. After a moment he heard her voice. “Open your eyes.”

He did, and she stood before him again, this time shirtless. She wore a white cotton bra, so simple, slightly worn looking. Very sensible. Very Scully. He could see the outlines of her erect nipples straining beneath the thin fabric.

He gazed at her. She was exquisite; everything about her was perfect. 

“You… are so beautiful, Scully,” he said. “I can’t believe I can finally tell you that.”

She looked down, a bit embarrassed. “This is my laundry bra.”

He blinked. “Your what?”

She brought her hands up to cover herself. “It’s the one I wear when all the others are in the laundry. It’s… old.”

He smiled, chuckling. 

“I told you I wasn’t prepared,” she said.

He shook his head. It didn’t matter what she was wearing. If he worked with SETI he’d be writing wow in her margins. 

“You won’t get any complaints from me, Scully.”

She smiled, but from the way she was covering herself it seemed she was still a bit shy and unsure. She’d already let him have so much of her over the years: her loyalty, her time, her trust. He wondered in the moment if there was a possibility she felt that because they’d kissed, she somehow owed this to him tonight.

“Are you sure you want to do this?” he asked. “Because we don’t have to do anything you’re not ready for.”

“I am ready,” she declared, standing up a little bit straighter. “I want to. It's just… I haven’t done this with anyone in a while,” she said. 

“I hear it’s like riding a bike.”

She raised an eyebrow. “Oh, is that what you hear?”

“Well, you know. I mean-- a tall, brooding, brilliant, sexy bike with an affinity for alien conspiracies.”

She grinned. “Shut up, Mulder.”

She unzipped her skirt, dropping it down to the floor and kicking it away. Her panties were black but even in the ghostly green light of his living room he could see dampness seeping into the fabric. 

He’d done this to her. Him. The physical, tangible evidence that Scully found him arousing was driving him crazy.

She reached out to take his hand with her own and moved it to cup her breast, closing her eyes as she did so. It felt so good in his hand, even through the cotton: the perfect fullness of it, the tiny hardened peak nudging his palm. He ran his thumb over it, this undiscovered territory, indulging. She arched into him and gasped softly.

“Mulder…”

Hearing her voice saying his surname this way brought to his attention how painfully hard he was, and he badly needed to relieve the mounting friction in his tented pants. He grabbed her waist and pulled her towards him until she was straddling his lap, and she leaned into him, grinding slowly, throwing her arms limply around his neck. God, she felt so good. He could smell her; Christ, he could smell how ready she was. 

Despite all of her previous uncertainty, she reached down with newfound voracity, laying her hand across his rigid heat. Her fingers fumbled with the button of his pants, releasing his aching member to lay against his stomach, dripping arousal from its tip. She gazed down as if discovering something intriguing beneath one of her microscopes, her eyes evolving into that familiar shade of revelation, as she ran her fingers along the ridge. The sensation was maddening. She grasped him firmly in her hand and he sucked in a breath, clenching his lip between his teeth. She leaned forward and whispered into his ear.

“Well, Mulder? Are you nervous yet?” she asked in a sultry voice he’d never heard before as she milked him slowly, and she sounded so confident that for a moment he thought she’d been putting him on this entire time. Perhaps he’d never know.

“Jesus, Scully,” he groaned as she stroked him. He still could barely believe this bewitching creature before him was Scully, his Scully. His brain was having trouble making the connection.

In an attempt to distract himself from making an embarrassing mess all over her laundry bra, he leaned forward to suck at her nipple through the fabric. She gasped as he worried it between his teeth, softly at first, then biting a little harder, suspecting she’d like it. His suspicions bore out and she let out a moan that rivaled that of every single busty blonde he had tucked away in his video cabinet.

He pulled the cup of her bra down with a single finger, exposing a rosy bud in all its perfect glory, and then he was upon her, his tongue sucking and pulling as it hardened further in his mouth. With his other hand he grasped the back of her skull, threading his fingers in between the fiery strands, massaging gently.

He chanced a look up at her face and it was drawn in ecstasy: eyes closed, mouth slack. She hadn’t stopped stroking him, and he felt as if they were now in some kind of competition to see who could make the other come first. He and Scully had been in their fair share of contests in their day but he really, really didn’t want to lose this one.

With an audible pop he released her nipple and pulled her lips down to his again, crashing into her mouth with his own. The sounds of their tempestuous meeting echoed within his ears as they sucked and breathed together, and along with his heart pounding it gave him the fleeting thought that he’d never felt more alive than he did at this moment.

What the hell had he been doing all these years? Why had he ever sought anything else when he could have been doing this, this, this?  

He absolutely ached with desire for her, and moved his hands to her hips, gripping them, squeezing, his fingers slipping beneath the edge of her panties to get handfuls of flesh. He knew this either had to happen right now or it probably wouldn’t happen at all tonight. After so many years of waiting, part of him really wanted to enjoy this, to make it all last as long as possible. The other part of him was nestled between her legs as she slowly rubbed against him, threatening to explode. 

“Hey, can… we move this into the bedroom?” A location change was the first idea that popped into his head that could temper his mounting desire for even a moment.

She looked down at him, not necessarily surprised, but perhaps thrown by the change of venue. “Yeah, okay,” she said, although he could tell she probably didn’t really care one way or another. But he did. He wanted to make this perfect, he wanted to make it right.

He stood and carried her around the corner as she wrapped her legs around his waist, and it wasn’t hard to pick their momentum back up when he laid her down on his bed.

He hooked his thumbs around the waistband of her panties and pulled downward as she shimmied out of them. He wanted to taste her so badly, more than anything else, really, but he feared he wouldn’t last long enough to give her the attention she deserved.

Next time, he thought, resisting the impulse. God, he hoped there would be a next time.

As he stared at her, she sat up and returned the favor, pulling down his pants and underwear in one fell swoop. He shrugged out of his shirt and was completely bared to her, and she smiled as she reached out to take him by the waist, guiding him until he sat at the head of his bed. She climbed into his lap once again, sighing contentedly as her slippery, naked sex made sweet contact with his own, and his eyes nearly bulged out of his sockets at the realization that this was a reality, like the entire evening had been a series of dominoes falling, crashing one after the other, and they’d finally reached the last one.

He was about to have sex with Scully.

She reached behind her back and removed her bra, which he’d grown quite attached to in the past few minutes. He was almost sad to see it go, but when he redirected his gaze to the empyreal naked breasts before him, her discarded clothing was promptly forgotten. She was a goddess, plain and simple, and he was the lucky man who had her in his bed. Seven years of waiting, at this moment, felt like nothing.

She gyrated against him a few more times and then rose up onto her knees, reaching down, guiding his cock, aligning them. 

She was about to sink down onto him when one of his hands gripped the back of her neck and squeezed, his fingers fanning into the wispy tendrils at her nape, and it was the Arctic again, all novelty, all trust. He looked deeply into her eyes, hardly believing it; it was her, Scully , she was everything: the heavens, the earth, the very air he breathed, and she’d chosen him.

“Scully…” he said, his voice barely audible. He was very close to the point where all rational decision-making would be null and void, but he was still in his right mind, and not asking felt irresponsible. “What happens tomorrow?”

Her expression, which had previously been wild with lust, softened, and she tilted her head to the side, reaching out to stroke his cheek. His eyes closed and he fell into her touch. She leaned in close, her forehead resting against his, making sure he heard every word.

“Tomorrow will be like any other day,” she said quietly. “We’ll be together.”

He smiled, and she smiled, and when they finally slid and clicked together like two lost souls discovering one another after a lifetime of loneliness, he could only utter one word.

“Wow.”



***



She looked into his eyes and saw stars, the moon, the sun. Everything that meant anything was right here, inches away from her.

Wow,” he whispered, and the sound of it was so earnest and pure she could barely contain her emotion. 

It had been a long time for her, relatively speaking, since she’d been with anyone, and she’d certainly never had anyone as big as Mulder buried inside her to the hilt this way. She leaned forward, adjusting her body to accept every inch of him. It required her to take a large breath and he noticed.

“Are you okay?” he asked.

She nodded. Yes, she was okay. She was better than she’d ever been in her life.

“I’m good,” she said. She didn’t want to move yet, was rather simply enjoying their connectedness, the agonizing ache of him thrumming between her thighs. She leaned in and kissed him, running her tongue along his cushy bottom lip and couldn’t contain a throaty moan, he felt so goddamn good nestled inside her. Like he absolutely belonged there.

He pulled back, tilted his head a bit in that Mulder way, and grinned at her, a mischievous sparkle in his eyes. He was proud of himself, the motherfucker, as well he should be. They’d barely begun and already he was making her feel like she’d never be able to get enough.

She closed her eyes and began to move, slowly at first. The maddening friction of his thick heat was absolute bliss, and with each movement she felt like she was physically ascending higher and higher to some unearthly plane. He began to pick up the pace and she rode with him, her hands gripping his muscular shoulders, his hands encircling her back, rubbing down then up, his fingers tangling in her hair. His hot breath came out in pants against her naked chest.

“Scully, you feel so good… so perfect…” he moaned.

For some bizarre reason she flashed back to all those times over the years she’d so desired his approval, and the rush of pride she’d always felt when she received it. Knowing he was the best she’d ever had was illuminating enough. Hearing him voice his own pleasure was sublime.

They were moving faster now, in perfect sync, and she knew she was closer to the edge than she wanted to be. Everything about this felt so amazing, so perfect, she never wanted it to end. She felt the stirrings of her orgasm deep inside, however, and knew it was about to. 

“Mulder,” she moaned. “I’m gonna… I’m gonna…”

In response she felt his wet mouth on her breasts again, and she threw back her head, letting go, this release she’d so craved and waited so long for utterly exhilarating. She saw stars, actual stars that exploded behind her eyes as she toppled over the edge.

Every appendage felt like jelly, and she could feel Mulder’s cock pulsing inside her, knowing he had to be close as well. He lifted her like a dried leaf, laying her gently on her back, until he was hovering over her.

“I’m so close, Scully,” he whispered, and she nodded in lazy encouragement.

“Yeah… yeah…”

He continued pumping into her, and she was still so wet it was almost embarrassing. But then he gripped her behind her knee, lifting her leg up until he was hitting her at just the right angle, and reached down between them, finding her clitoris, teasing it expertly. 

She could hardly believe it but she felt a second orgasm approaching. No one had ever made her come twice before. No one had ever bothered to try. The man she loved was turning out to be a perfect lover. How the hell did this happen?

“I want you to come with me,” he growled, and his voice alone did the trick. She was gone again, and as she looked into his eyes so was he, and they were gone together.

Together.

She pulled him down on top of her, wrapping her legs around his waist. Her fingers traveled along the sweaty grooves in his back, and she buried her face in his neck, kissing, kissing. After a few moments he rolled off her, and they lay side by side, breathing heavily, stargazing at the ceiling.

This is it, she thought. This is exactly how making love is supposed to feel.  

She thought she’d done it before. She hadn’t.





Chapter Text

 



Scully woke up in his arms.

For a moment, she experienced the brief confusion of a person who hadn’t been held in years; not like this, at least. That confusion melted into contentment when she saw Mulder, breathing gently next to her.

She watched him sleeping, studying his face. It was drawn up into a slightly thoughtful look, as if he were in the middle of a dream; his eyelids fluttering, his lips slightly parted. There was a tiny pi symbol indented into the skin between his eyebrows giving him that look he had on days when he was particularly exasperated with her.

He really was beautiful. It wasn’t that she hadn’t properly acknowledged it before; she’d just never felt like she had the right to. Any pretense they’d maintained over the past few years that they were strictly friendly, strictly professional, all of that had flown out the window last night. She was happy to look, to admire. Surely she’d earned it.

Vivid flashbacks coursed through her mind: the way he’d clung to her desperately when she threw her head back and moaned, his plump lips pressed against her breasts, catching her sweat. How he’d brought her to climax more skillfully and diligently than she’d ever imagined he could (twice). How he’d cried out her name when he came inside her.

How much she’d needed all of it.

It was still dark outside, but from the look of the clock on his nightstand it wouldn’t be for long. He hadn’t stirred, and she had an overwhelming desire for coffee, so she slipped out of his arms and crept into his kitchen. 

The last time she’d stayed overnight at his place was only a few nights ago, after his mother had died. The coffee mug she’d used that morning was still sitting on the counter, a half inch of cold coffee and its own developing ecosystem inside, right next to Mulder’s. Typically she’d be annoyed with herself for leaving it, but they’d left in a hurry that morning, for obvious reasons. 

She prepared the coffee and as she waited for it to perk, she washed and dried the mugs. Mulder had no creamer, or milk, even, at least none that hadn't expired. She had no idea where he kept the sugar and was afraid poking around his kitchen would wake him, so she drank it black. 

It was bitter, and as it went down her throat, for the first time since she’d awakened a terrifying thought entered her mind.

What have we done?



***



“Hey,” came Scully’s voice as she gently nudged him. “I’m sorry to wake you, but… I have to go home.”

Mulder blinked as the world came into focus. He felt foggy, untethered. He didn’t think he’d slept so hard in his entire life and he was pretty sure finally getting laid by Dana Scully was the primary culprit.

She was sitting next to him on the edge of the bed, fully clothed. He was naked beneath his sheet and felt a bit vulnerable. 

“Um.” He sat up, rubbing his eyes. “Okay.”

“I made coffee,” she offered, setting his mug down on the nightstand.

“Thanks,” he said gently. Why was she leaving? Something felt wrong. “Is everything… all right?”

She smiled. “Everything is fine, I just have to go home. I have some stuff to do this weekend.”

He looked her in the eye and knew this was a classic Scully retreat. She always threw in the towel too early, before things could get real, before things could shake her. She was a master at it, and apparently even life-altering sex was no match for her skills. 

He wanted to say something, to make her stay, to figure out a way to talk about all of this, but he couldn’t think of how.

“Okay.” It seemed to be the only word his mouth could form lately.

She smiled and looked down at him tenderly. He brought her hand to his lips and kissed it softly. “Last night was…” he searched for a word that could properly encapsulate how transcendent last night had been for him. That word didn’t exist, so he couldn’t say it.

“Propitious?” she offered.

“I was going to say something more along the lines of... hot as fuck,” he laughed. She blushed, blushed, for god’s sake, he’d been buried inside her a few hours ago, and when she leaned down to kiss him goodbye he knew he was done for.

This was it, him and Scully, it had finally happened. He’d known for years there could never be another, not for him, which is precisely why he’d avoided this very scenario for so long. It had to be her decision, her push forward, and when she’d finally made it last night he felt as if his life had begun anew. Their timing had finally, finally been perfect.

So why did she have to go?

She pulled back and ruffled his hair in that way she did, only now instead of a friendly gesture on her part, he could almost pretend it was love.

“Can I call you later?” he asked, feeling stupid. He never asked to call Scully, he called whenever he wanted to, day or night. And she always answered. Everything felt different now.

“Yes, of course you can.”

She still sounded a bit off, a bit awkward. He felt resigned: of course things would be awkward. Of course this wouldn’t just magically be perfect. They’d been friends for so long and now this seismic event had occurred. Their worlds would be forever different, no matter how they decided to move forward.

She got up and began to exit his bedroom, and he knew this was one of the times he should definitely not follow her. But he didn’t want her to leave on an uncertain note.

“Hey Scully.”

She turned. “Yeah?”

He smiled, in what he hoped was a reassuring way. “I’m really happy you came over last night.”

She fingered the door frame in a nervous way, but her smile was the same Scully smile that made his heart melt every time. A sense of relief, however small, settled upon him.

“I am too, Mulder.” She walked out of his view and he heard the door open and close. 

He believed her. He had to.



***



Mulder didn’t call that day, nor did he the day after.

Scully wasn’t surprised. It was their usual method of dealing with things, and although her ability to waltz around a heated moment with grace and come out of it unscathed was unmatched, Mulder certainly gave her a run for her money. Together, they were quite the pair.

The sex had been amazing, dare she say perfect? It all felt so right, almost fated. She didn’t regret what had happened, not at all. But she did feel like she’d been careless, perhaps, even irresponsible. Mulder had just been through such a trauma and maybe she’d taken advantage. It hadn’t occurred to her in the moment, even when she realized she finally wanted to do this: the possible ramifications of their actions and the effect it might have on his state of mind.

He’d seemed content enough when she’d left that morning, but her concern for him was real. It was strange that he hadn’t called her all weekend. She could only hope that things wouldn’t be terribly awkward when they saw each other again. 

On Monday she showed up at work earlier than usual, anticipating seeing him but dreading it at the same time. She wanted to be there first, but she had absolutely no plan for what to do when he showed up. For all the times she’d imagined moving forward with him romantically, she’d never really anticipated how they would move forward as partners afterwards. 

Could they, even? Had they started something that would put an end to the X-Files as they knew it?

She heard the elevator arriving, dinging, his familiar steps echoing closer. Everything felt like it was moving in slow-motion. She’d left the door open, perhaps a subconscious signal that she intended to let him decide what their next move would be.

He appeared in the doorway holding a cup of coffee and a sheepish grin. “I come in peace,” he said, with a high-pitched alien affect.

She smiled, wanting to put him at ease. Taking the coffee from him with a thanks, she sipped it. It was prepared perfectly, exactly the way she liked it. 

They just stared at each other for several seconds, and it was hard to look at his mouth and not want to kiss it.

“So,” she said, setting the coffee on the desk behind her.

“So.”

“You didn’t call.”

“I wasn’t sure if you wanted me to,” he admitted.

She looked at him from beneath hooded eyelids. “I wanted you to.”

The sexual tension in the air around them had always existed, but it was even worse now because it was rife with expectation. They’d done it before. They could do it again. And again.

Suddenly he was charging forward, and his lips were on hers once again, a hand in her hair, the other on her waist. It wasn’t a soft kiss, or a sweet one; it was insatiable hunger, and she felt it, too. She opened her mouth to let him in and he pressed her back into his desk as they devoured each other.

Well, she thought, I guess this is how it’s going to be now. 

His hand drifted to the bottom of her blouse, and he slowly began to untuck it from her skirt. His fingers spread across the soft skin of her stomach, up to her ribcage. She felt a familiar heat between her thighs that meant this was leading somewhere it couldn’t, not here or now, so she put her hands on his chest and gently broke their kiss. His eyes were full of lust, and she knew they had to stop but by God, she wanted nothing more than to find a supply closet or a bathroom stall to continue scratching their seven year itch. Every minute of every day was going to feel like this, now. The professional, ambitious part of her hated that.

“Not here, okay?” she told him, shaking her head with a smile. 

He physically took a step backwards from her, appearing almost dizzy. She was in charge here, and they both knew it. He nodded his acquiescence. “Okay.”

“Look,” she said, knowing she’d probably confused him the other day. “I’m sorry I bailed on you like that the other morning.”

His eyes widened, perhaps in utter shock she would actually address what happened. Maybe they really were turning over a new leaf. “Yeah... I wondered what that was about.” 

“It was just… a lot to take in.”

He nodded proudly. “Thank you,” he said, not missing a beat.

“Shut up, Mulder,” she said with a playful glint in her eye. “You know what I mean.”

“I do know,” he said, laughing, and he stepped forward, taking her by the upper arms, rubbing them a bit. “And you’re right, it is a lot. But I think we can handle it.”

She nodded. “Yeah.”

“We’ve handled a lot before, Scully,” he reasoned. “This should be a piece of cake.”

She nodded and gave him a small peck on the lips. She then moved around his desk and sat in his chair, folding her arms on the desk in front of her. He stepped back and leaned against the doorframe, shifting a bit, trying to adjust himself. She looked at the bulge in his pants, the bulge she’d naturally noticed many times before, but this time he was showing a bit more than was work-appropriate.

He saw her staring. “Just give me a minute, okay?” he said, putting a hand up.

She looked away, grinning, shuffling through the files on his desk. She pulled one out, read it over. “What’s this?” She held it up. “A werewolf, Mulder? Really?”

He stepped up to the desk, leaning forward in a melodramatic show of reading what he’d surely written himself. “Oh yeah,” he said playfully. “Skinner approved that one much quicker than I thought he would.”

“Six sightings of an unidentified assailant in the past sixty days,” she read. “And you think it’s a werewolf?”

“Each sighting occurred on a night where there was a full moon, and every victim that survived was unable to give an accurate description of their attacker,” Mulder explained. 

“Well, then, I apologize. Of course it’s a werewolf.”

“...Until this most recent victim,” Mulder finished, tapping his finger against the file in emphasis. “He described a tall creature covered in fur with glowing red eyes. Which is exactly what we’re going to be looking for.”

Scully looked at him, of course, skeptically. “Skinner approved this? Travel expenses to Los Angeles? For a werewolf?”

“Stop saying ‘werewolf’ like that, Scully,” he said. “You’re going to give me a complex.”

“Yeah, yeah yeah,” she interrupted, rolling her eyes. She sighed and put her hand to her temple. “This is so embarrassing.”

“Come on, it’ll be fun,” he grinned. “You don’t want to go werewolf hunting with me? Sneak around in the dark? Maybe make out a little under the full moon?”

She narrowed her eyes and sighed, shaking her head. Her feelings for werewolves were certainly lukewarm, but her feelings for him were getting stronger by the hour. Besides, it might be nice to chase something that didn't involve Mulder's demons.

"Okay. But not while we're working, Mulder," she warned him. He put his hands up in resignation and gave her that look, the one that meant he was listening to her, but not really. The one that meant he might run off to the Bermuda Triangle or jump onto a moving train in spite of her protestations.

"I am at your disposal, Agent Scully," he grinned. And she knew he was. She only hoped she could exercise the restraint she'd been miraculously brandishing for seven years.

Maybe he was right. It could be fun. "All right," she agreed. "Let's go catch a werewolf."

A couple of hours later, they were headed to Los Angeles.

 

Chapter Text

Exhausted from the night’s activities, Scully collapsed onto the motel room bed. She was relieved to leave the evening behind, but most of all, those damn television cameras.

What Mulder had said about the creature-- or whatever it was-- finding more fear to exploit elsewhere had her a little shaken up. As convinced as she was that she didn’t believe any of it, she had to admit his theory was more plausible than any alternative. Gangbangers setting up an elaborate hoax? Preposterous. More preposterous, even, than a paranormal creature.

Mulder knocked at her door, and with her permission, stepped inside. He was wearing sweatpants and a T-shirt.

“Hey.”

“Hey,” she said, propping herself up on her elbows. 

He walked over and sat down on the bed next to her. “Is it okay if I hang out in here for a little bit? I just… I got a little freaked out.”

She raised an eyebrow. “Really?” she asked. “You haven’t been afraid all night and now you are? The sun is coming up.”

They both glanced at the window. The curtains were drawn but she could see the sunlight beginning to peek through the edges. 

“I know, I know.” He shivered, and she found it a little odd. “I can’t explain it. Just didn’t want to be alone.” 

He gave her a shy grin, and she could tell he was trying to be cute, but not presumptuous. He’d found himself at home in her space on many occasions in the past, but things were different now. That same air of expectation hung heavily in the room like a marine layer, seeping into every pore. It was even worse that they were both sitting on an actual bed. Suddenly nothing was more evident to Scully that motel rooms, by definition, expected sex.

“You probably shouldn’t get too comfortable, Mulder,” she said. “Consorting and all that.” 

“Do you want me to go?” he asked, his voice dropping an octave. God, when he spoke to her like that it was so incredibly sexy. 

She shook her head no. She really didn’t.

She hadn’t fully worked out in her own head how this new version of Mulder and Scully would progress, let alone discussed it with him. It seemed, as ever, his insistence on flying by the seat of his pants in any given circumstance would perpetually bump against her rigid rule-following.

She reached over and pushed some hair out of his face, and he took her hand, bringing her fingers to his lips. He kissed each one, his eyes never leaving hers. 

“I’m going to take a shower,” she suddenly found herself saying.

“Oh yeah?”

She nodded. “I need to wash all this… Los Angeles off me.”

He drew her index finger into his mouth and sucked on it gently, then withdrew it. Her panties were suddenly damp. “You gonna be naked in that shower, Scully?”

She raised an eyebrow. “That’s generally how showers work.”

“So... you’re going to leave me out here all by myself? After I told you I was scared?”

Her body was warring against itself: the part that wanted to fuck him senseless versus the part that desperately needed a shower and some sleep. 

She landed on a compromise.

“I think you should take a shower too, Mulder,” she said in a near whisper as she leaned in a bit. “Especially if you plan on sleeping in here. With me. In my bed.”

He grinned, and followed her into the bathroom. She flipped on the hot water, testing the temperature, and when she eventually turned around Mulder was already naked, advancing on her, pushing her firmly against the wall. He kissed her fully as they both stripped her clothing off piece by piece. Steam slowly filled the room, and he pressed his body against hers, his hardening cock warm against her belly, her back freezing against the tile wall. 

She let him take over, something she’d rarely done with men in the past. Typically she was the one to have all the control. But with Mulder it always came down to trust. She wanted to see what he would do, what he liked, what he wanted. And she trusted him completely to take them both exactly where they wanted to go.

They stepped into the shower and the hot water fell between them, trickling down her breasts. Her nipples puckered at the exposure, and like a siren song Mulder was immediately drawn to them, bending down, taking one into his mouth, then the other. It was heaven, his worshipping her this way, and just when she thought he could make her come from merely this, she felt his hand moving south, dragging his fingers along her labia, teasing them apart. Suddenly sleep was completely off the menu.

She broadened her stance, urging him on, and he inserted a finger inside, immediately finding her G spot with the temerity she’d become accustomed to in every other avenue.

“Oh, God…” she moaned, her fingers clutching at his back. He pumped with rhythm, and trailed his tongue along her collarbone, up her neck until he was kissing her again with abandon. She gripped his ass and pulled him into her, allowing him to shamelessly hump her thigh as he plunged his finger, then multiple fingers, in and out of her. 

She wanted to feel how much he wanted her, needed to feel it. She gripped his cock in her hand and stroked him wantonly, knowing she was fast approaching the horizon and wanting him to get there too.

It was at this moment she realized their new arrangement might become a real problem. 

We’re on a case. We shouldn’t be doing this. 

She was troubled by her own flagrant flouting of the rules she’d so assiduously held to over the years. Not to mention that if anyone ever suspected they were engaging in this kind of behavior, she’d forever be known to some as that slut in the basement who slept with her partner. 

Her mind and her heart battled with the parts of her that were on fire, powerless to fight her desire for him. But as she worked the length of Mulder’s bulging, rigid cock with her hand, she found it incredibly difficult to care. 

Suddenly he was on his knees, and his face was buried against her, his tongue replacing his fingers, and her doubts and fears evaporated into the air like the steam surrounding them. She closed her eyes and imagined his expression, since she couldn’t see it: his own eyes closed, his mouth tearing into her like his last meal. She could hear him breathing and moaning, for all the world like he’d never tasted anything so divine. Her toes curled and she arched her body into him, one hand bracing herself upright by gripping the railing and the other enmeshed in his dripping wet locks, wringing them dry.

“Come for me, Scully,” he whispered into her sex. 

Everything was happening so fast; they’d slept together only one time and already she felt so comfortable with him, so at ease. So aroused by everything he did. She could feel wetness everywhere: the water dripping down her body, his skillful tongue laving her below, the room licking her shoulders with its steam and heat. 

She wanted to come for him. She wanted to do anything he asked. So she did, her legs vibrating with exquisite yearning. 

She collapsed against the wall, barely holding herself upright, and he supported her, gripping his erection, stroking himself madly. She was exhausted but wanted to be part of his own undoing, so she grabbed him firmly, drawing him out, and soon enough he fell apart in her hand, spurting hotly onto her stomach. 

He collapsed into her neck, breathing heavily. The water washed them both clean.

There was no discussion as they finished their shower and toweled off. Despite her previous concerns she couldn’t deny the thrill of it all; it was shy smiles and secret looks, a feeling of we’re really doing this lingering in the air. 

She crawled into bed and he followed, wrapping his naked arms and legs around her. She wanted to just allow herself to enjoy this, to enjoy him; they’d had so little to enjoy, relatively speaking, over the years. She turned into him, his chest hair tickling her cheek, and burrowed into his heart, wishing they could just stay like this forever.

“Mmm… by the way, I changed my mind, Scully,” he said into her hair.

“About what?”

“About the bubblegum pink,” he said. “You’re perfect just the way you are.”



***



Mulder could hardly believe his good fortune.

He hadn’t been sure he was ready for a relationship with Scully for years. What she required, hell, what she deserved , was something he wasn’t certain he could give her. So he’d delayed and delayed and even told himself it would never happen. 

But the stars seemed to be aligning for them perfectly now. For the first time in his life it was clear to him she took precedence over everything else, even his work. There was nothing standing in his way anymore. Life held an entirely new meaning.

He wanted to tell her as much; to be completely honest. To say he loved her every day, every time he saw her face. But as crazy as it sounded, it still felt too soon. They’d barely started this thing, and considering her behavior the morning after their first night together, he didn’t want to send her running for the hills.

A month passed after the Los Angeles case, and in late March, an interesting case file turned up on Mulder’s desk.

“Scully, take a look at this,” he said excitedly as she entered the office. “Sound familiar?”

She took the file from him and sat in the chair across from his desk. A string of attacks in downtown DC, seemingly by different attackers, all taking place the night of March 18th.

“What’s so special about this particular night?” she asked him.

“Full moon,” he said, and lifted his eyebrows a couple of times.

“Mulder,” she warned.

“Hey, it isn’t costing the bureau a dime in travel expenses. Our case load is light. It’s worth checking out these remaining victims, getting their stories.” He tilted his head a bit. “Maybe we can close this X-File.”

She nodded. Surely she had to admit it was certainly possible that whatever entity had terrorized the people of Willow Park could have spread clear across the country.

“That camera crew won’t be there this time, at least,” she pointed out.

Mulder shook his head. “Into each life some rain must fall, Scully,” he said morosely.

She crossed her arms and smiled, shaking her head. “So where are we off to first?”

He walked around the desk towards her, closer and closer, his expression smoldering, positioning himself between her and the desk.

“First, I need to kiss you good morning,” he said, his voice suddenly switching to his decidedly extracurricular timbre. It was his ritual, regardless of whether or not he’d awakened her with the same lips that very morning. 

He took her hands in his and pulled her up to her feet, kissing her, first softly, then with more passion. She leaned against him, returning the kiss. She smelled so good, he wanted to bottle it and breathe it in always like she was his own personal oxygen tank. 

But as usual, after a moment she pulled away. “We’re at work,” she reminded him gently. That cursed rational brain of hers.

“Hey, I’m not trying anything,” he assured her with a smile. “But we’re here right now, and you’re right there. Looking like that.” He leered at her in an exaggerated way, and she rolled her eyes with a smile. He placed his hands at her waist. “I don’t mean to make you uncomfortable,” he continued. “We just… have a lot of lost time to make up for, that’s all.”

“I know we do,” she agreed. “And I promise we can make up for it later. At my place.” He nodded. “...Naked,” she added, just to be clear. 

“Ooh, I like where your head’s at, Scully.”

“Well right now, both of our heads should be at work, okay?” She gave him a grin as she stepped away. 

“Message received,” he relented. “But that doesn’t mean I won’t be thinking about you naked all day.”





Chapter Text

 

Mulder gently lowered the tarp over the young woman’s face. No more than sixteen or seventeen, beaten and battered beyond recognition, she was the fifth victim of a spate of attacks that had occurred the night before. He and Scully were after some kind of creature, surely, but something in his gut told him the perpetrator of this particular crime was no monster; at least, not of the paranormal kind.

Scully stood silently in the deserted strip mall parking lot, eyeing him with the vigilance for which she could be counted upon any time he encountered this kind of victim. 

You’re too close to this case, he could hear in his mind, although she hadn’t said it yet. Things were different now; Samantha was gone for good. But it didn’t make this any easier. 

Learning who’d been responsible for his sister’s abduction all along had given him a sense of clarity he’d needed for years. In the end, it wasn’t aliens who had taken her, tortured her, robbed her of her childhood. It wasn’t anything paranormal at all. It was only men. 

The answer was staring him right in the face, through two young eyes that had been closed far too soon. Fate, it seemed, was leading him right back to where he’d started. He wondered if he should get back into profiling. 

Men were the ones he should be chasing. They were the real monsters.

He considered sharing these thoughts with Scully but he wasn’t certain how she’d feel about it. Hell, he wasn’t even sure how he felt about it. The last time Scully witnessed his experience as a profiler, it hadn’t gone well for either of them. He loved working with Scully, and leaving the X-Files meant leaving her behind, at least professionally. He wasn’t ready for that. He wasn’t sure if he’d ever be ready for that.

The DC Metropolitan Police Department was handling the scene, but rather than ask the lead detective for details about a possible creature sighting, Mulder remained silent on the matter and walked away from the body, out to the sidewalk. 

“You okay?” Scully said, a few paces behind him. “Do you want me to ask the detective our questions?”

Mulder shook his head. “Not this one, Scully.” 

She came up next to him and touched his arm. He worried if he looked her in the eye he’d be overcome by emotion so he just stood, and let her stand beside him, exactly where he liked her.

“Are you thinking about her?” she asked quietly.

He nodded solemnly. “What the hell are we doing, Scully?”

“What do you mean?”

He took her by the hand, something he never did on a case, and pulled her further away from the crime scene. “This isn’t the work of a werewolf, or Freddy Kruger,” he sighed.

“I know,” she agreed.

“Some monster, some perfectly human monstrosity did this to that young woman. And if someone doesn’t catch him, he’ll do it again.”

Scully nodded. “I’m sure the MPD have their best people on this, Mulder,” she said. “There are good men and women out there doing their jobs who want to catch him too.”

They approached a bench at a bus stop and sat. Scully scooted closer to him than she normally would while working, and he realized it was getting more and more difficult to behave like he wasn’t insanely in love with her while out in the field.

He was also beginning to care less and less.

He put his arm around her and she leaned against him without hesitation. For a brief moment he tried to forget about the dead girl in the alley and the horde of cops hovering around her, and just imagine what life would look like without any of it. 

He liked what he saw.

“Agent Mulder!” A voice came from behind him and he quickly straightened up, turning and standing to face the officer approaching them. Scully did the same. He recognized the officer from previous DC crime scenes. They knew each other vaguely, although around the area and among local law enforcement, “Spooky” Mulder was known more by reputation than anything else. 

“Officer Daniels,” Mulder greeted.

“Just got a call over the radio,” Daniels said breathlessly, holding it out. “Another victim, this one they say was some kind of animal attack.”

“Animal attack?” Scully asked curiously.

“We’re not sure,” Daniels tried to explain. “I can’t quite wrap my mind around what this woman is describing. Figured you’d want to take this one.”

Mulder looked to Scully. “Sounds like someone pulled our number,” he muttered to her, and he took the radio from the officer, getting the details.



***



Scully wasn’t sure how to quantify it, as usual, but there was definitely a monster roaming the streets of DC. 

With the exception of the young woman that appeared to have been killed by a serial rapist, there had been six victims of attacks the previous night. All but one survived, and the survivors were all able to describe their attacker to Mulder and Scully in varying degrees of detail. It all added up to one conclusion: this could very well be the same entity they’d encountered in Los Angeles.

Mulder seemed delighted the creature had come to them, in a way. He told Scully they were clearly meant to catch it. But Scully was alarmed it seemed to have followed them. She didn’t voice these concerns to Mulder, not yet, but the entire thing left her a bit unsettled.

A contagion of fear. She shuddered, part of her knowing it was ridiculous, the other part wanting to go home, crawl under her comforter and stay there.

Mulder’s theory about the full moon being the catalyst for the creature to come out of its hibernative state seemed to be bearing out, so unfortunately they had no choice but to continue working their other cases while they awaited the next lunar cycle.

Lately after work they’d been staying over at Scully’s apartment more and more. She liked it just fine at Mulder’s, but he preferred to be at her place for some reason, and she didn’t have a problem with that. She liked her own bed. She liked it even better with him in it.

They laid together on her couch, him sprawled out on his back, her laying on top, nestled into him comfortably. She wore one of his T-shirts he’d left at her place, and some pajama pants. She’d been worried she was squashing him but when he pointed out she weighed “practically nothing” and gave her a light slap on the ass, she stopped being so concerned.

The TV was off, and quiet music was playing. They'd shared a full bottle of wine that sat empty next to two glasses on the coffee table, a blood-red ring creeping along the surface that she found herself not caring about at the moment. They had turned the fireplace on and it roared and crackled against the tinkling sounds of rain outside. 

Mulder was softly tracing trails up and down her back and it felt amazing. It was romantic. It was unusual. 

“What’s your greatest fear, Scully?” Mulder asked out of the blue. 

That I’ll never be enough for you, was her first thought. 

A chill ran up her spine that was not produced by Mulder’s touch. Where did that come from? She hated the thought, shooed it away.

“Um...” she thought for a moment. “When I was a kid, I was terrified of clowns. Not so much anymore but… I guess that's the first thing I can think of.”

“Samantha was afraid of clowns too,” he said. “When she was six, I used to leave this freaky clown doll my grandmother gave her around the house. She never saw me moving it.” He chuckled to himself. “I was kind of an asshole, now that I think about it.”

“You were a big brother,” she clarified. “I think that kind of stuff is in the manual.”

“I don’t think I was a bigger asshole than Bill, that’s for sure.”

“I didn’t know you as a kid, but I’m pretty confident we can agree on that,” she smiled. The fireplace crackled.

“What about you, Mulder?” she asked. “What’s your greatest fear? Besides your deathly fear of fire, of course.”

He laughed, his chest making her head bob up and down. “I suppose I exaggerated that one a bit.”

“Just a bit.”

He was silent for a moment, and moved his fingers into her hair, softly massaging her scalp. She closed her eyes and mused that she could honestly die like this, right here, and she’d be okay with that. 

“I don’t know anymore, really,” he said softly. “For so long, I feared I’d never find out what happened to her, and now…” he trailed off. The silence was deafening.

“Tell me what you saw, in the woods,” she requested once more. He hesitated, but she didn’t intend on letting him off the hook. “Please, Mulder.”

For a moment she thought he really wasn’t going to tell her. Then he sighed. “I saw… Samantha. She was right there.”

Scully was silent.

“I mean, a ghost or a vision. Something like that. But she was real, Scully. I wrapped my arms around her just like I’m doing with you right now.”

She sighed in relief. This was what she hoped he’d seen. This was something she could wrap her mind around.

“I saw my father the night he died,” she told him. “I thought it was really him, sitting there in my living room. I thought he was real. But it had to be a ghost, or some kind of psychic visitation, or something like that.”

Mulder’s head tilted against the arm of the couch. “You never told me that before.”

“For a long time I convinced myself I’d been dreaming, or hallucinating,” she said honestly. “I was afraid to believe.”

They lay there in each other’s arms, both thinking of all the loved ones they’d lost over the years. “After a while, though, I realized I was more like you than I wanted to admit,” she said. “I realized I actually wanted to believe.” She felt a lump in her throat. Every time she realized she and Mulder believed the same thing, it nearly took her breath away.

Mulder was quiet for a moment. “I still don’t know how to explain what I saw, Scully,” he admitted. “I can’t rule out that it was a hallucination, and I’m sure you’d tell me the same. But whatever it was, it brought me peace.” He squeezed her tighter. “It brought me freedom that I feel every day when I wake up now, every day when you’re right here next to me.”

She smiled against his chest, breathing in the scent of cotton and Mulder. What he was saying sounded like satisfaction. This was what she wanted to hear.

“I’m happy to hear that, Mulder,” she said. She scooted up his body a bit so she could reach his mouth, and kissed him tenderly. His hands slid to her backside and he gave her another gentle slap. The fireplace snapped loudly.

“You know what this reminds me of?” he mumbled into her ear. “You, and me. On this couch. Or at least, you thought it was me.”

She grimaced, remembering. “Ah. That.”

“What did he do that night that made you want to kiss him? I mean, me?”

She sighed, breathing in the scent of his cotton T-shirt. It could very well be the exact same one Van BlundHt had worn all those years ago in his attempt to seduce her. “Mulder, I must have wondered about that a hundred times.”

“A hundred and one then,” he prodded. “Tell me.”

She thought about it. “I guess… he— you, because to me, it was you— were finally seeing me as a woman.”

He scoffed, his hands still generously cupping her ass. “I always saw you as a woman, trust me.”

“Maybe so, but this was the first time I’d felt it,” she said. “I wasn’t your work partner that night. It was just you and me. It was uncomplicated. I wasn’t even sure if I liked it but I must have, because I wanted you to kiss me.”

“It wasn’t me, though.”

She shook her head. “It doesn’t matter. Because it was you who I wanted that night.” She sat up a bit, her knees around his middle, leaning down to show him just how much. Her lips covered his softly, her tongue teasing his. “It was you who I wanted to kiss.” She ran her hands across his chest. “I wanted you to see me as a woman.”

His hands moved from her backside to her waist, and as she pulled back to sit up, he gazed at her in that Fox Mulder way that made her fall in love with him a little more each time.

“I see you,” he breathed, as their eyes locked. “Believe me, Dana Scully, I see you.”



Chapter Text

The weeks passed in a blur; a daze of improbable happiness. It seemed every day their relationship was getting even better, which Mulder had thought wasn’t possible considering how perfect it felt that very first night.

As for the X-Files, Scully seemed to be enjoying herself on their cases, perhaps even more so than before. It was entirely possible his own mood was having an effect upon the way he saw hers, and he acknowledged that to himself, but he couldn’t deny that things were going well, really well. 

Something they’d agreed upon verbally, however, was a certain amount of discretion as far as the bureau was concerned. He respected her boundaries at the office (mostly) and her fraternizing rules in the field (sort of). She certainly never complained or pushed him away whenever he stole a kiss or a touch. 

One day in mid-April, all of that changed.

Skinner called both of them into his office and closed the door. From the look on his face Mulder knew they were in trouble; he’d seen that look before. But he couldn’t recall so much as a missed report. He wondered what on earth this could possibly be about.

“Is there something you two want to share with me?” Skinner asked bluntly.

“What do you mean?” Mulder asked.

“The producers at FOX sent the raw footage of your case in Los Angeles for me to review and approve before airing. Is there anything on this tape I shouldn’t have seen?”

Mulder looked at Scully, and she was just as confused as he was. Was this about the case? Was Skinner as embarrassed by Mulder’s behavior as Scully had been?

“I thought you told us the FBI had nothing to hide,” Mulder said carefully. Besides the fact that the case remained unsolved, surely there was nothing on that tape any crazier than half of the theories he had espoused to Skinner in this very office.

“I’m not talking about the case,” he said, looking at them meaningfully. “I’m talking about you two. Having something to hide.”

Mulder suddenly felt all the oxygen leave the room. Was there something incriminating on that tape? He replayed the events over in his mind, recalling that he and Scully had remained entirely professional while working that case. Sure, they’d gone back to her motel room afterwards and engaged in some unpartnerly behavior, but that was well after they’d left the cameras behind.

Scully hadn’t uttered a word, and didn’t seem to be planning on it, either.

Mulder called Skinner’s bluff. “I can’t imagine what you’re referring to, sir,” he said.

Skinner’s face echoed that of a bedraggled father as he stood, removed a VHS tape from its sleeve, and inserted it into a nearby VCR.

The grainy footage showed the exterior of their Los Angeles motel. He heard a sharp intake of breath from Scully next to him and feared the worst. Surely the camera crews hadn’t followed them back to their room. This was some kind of trick, it had to be. Skinner suspected something was up and was probably feeling them out.

The camera zoomed towards the window, which was mercifully covered by curtains. Skinner fast-forwarded and there was nothing to see but a closed door and the timecode ticking up. Two hours, three hours. Four hours. Just when Mulder was certain there would be nothing incriminating, he saw the door open, and Scully emerged, followed closely by himself. That was it. The image turned to static.

Skinner set the remote down and leaned against his desk, looking at them expectantly.

“...Well?” he said pointedly.

Mulder looked at him, confused. “Am I missing something?”

“What were you doing in Agent Scully’s room for four and a half hours, Mulder?” Skinner asked with the slow enunciation of a teacher explaining something to a four-year-old.

Scully’s face turned white. She was the worst poker player ever.

“Um. Sleeping?” Mulder tried. It wasn’t really a lie. Technically.

Skinner eyed them both. “Look,” he said, leaning forward. “I’m aware of what’s going on between you two, okay? I’ve known for a while. This is just the first time I’ve got any physical evidence.”

“Evidence of what, sir?” Mulder asked, ignoring his ‘known for a while’ comment. “So we were hanging out together. What’s the problem?”

“Mulder,” Skinner warned. “I’ve been able to get ahold of this tape before it got to the higher-ups. But I’m not the only one who’s seen it. And word travels fast around here.”

“This is a violation of our privacy, sir,” Mulder declared, pointing at the tape. “This was well after the case was over. They had no right or reason to follow us.”

“You and Agent Scully signed a 24-hour waiver,” Skinner explained. “If they found you interesting enough to follow, they were well within their rights.”

“I think we’re done here,” Mulder said, standing up. “Scully, we don’t have to listen to this.”

She wouldn’t look at him, instead staring pleadingly at Skinner. “You won’t let anyone else see this, will you?”

Mulder’s jaw dropped. He didn’t understand. They still had plausible deniability. Why was she outing them to Skinner like this?

“I promise I won’t,” he told her. “But you two need to be more careful. They’re out to put an end to the X-Files, and any excuse will do.”

“Thank you, sir,” she said simply, and stood. “Let’s go, Mulder.”

He watched her leave, gobsmacked. “But… this is ridiculous,” he said. “They’ve got nothing!”

“Let’s go, Mulder,” she said, warningly.

He glanced at Skinner again, annoyed, but Skinner looked deadly serious. Mulder didn’t want to make this a bigger deal than it was, so he obeyed, following her out of the room. She didn’t look at him the entire journey from Skinner’s office to their own, and when they got there, she closed the door behind him. 

“I knew we shouldn’t have done that, I knew it,” she said to herself, her hands going over her face.

“What’s the big deal, Scully?” Mulder asked, honestly. “It’s not like they have any actual proof.”

“They don’t need proof to destroy us, Mulder!” she said firmly. “To destroy me!”

“You?” he asked. “Scully, this isn’t about you. It’s about the X-Files. It’s about me.”

She shook her head. “You don’t get it, do you?” He didn’t. “This is most definitely not about you, Mulder. If word of this gets out…” she looked around the office frantically, moving away from him, standing behind his chair. She bit her lip, thinking hard. Her expression was inscrutable.

She looked so upset he immediately backed down. “Scully, tell me,” he said. “Tell me what you're worried about.”

“It’s not the same for you, Mulder,” she explained. “You could sleep with anyone you want to in this building and the worst that would happen would be a clap on the back and a high five.”

“Hey, it’s gonna be okay,” he said, walking over to her. He pulled her in close, knowing full well it was probably the last thing he should be doing right now, but making her feel better any way he could was all he wanted. Luckily, she let him. He wrapped his arms around her and laid his head on top of hers. She took a deep breath against his chest and he could feel her calming down. 

It gave him pause that she was so concerned about this. Surely this wasn’t about how it looked on the outside, but about what they were to each other. Did she think this was just a game to him? Just a temporary situation?

They both stood in the middle of the basement office, arms around one another in silence for a long time. It felt like there were things they both needed to say, but as usual, they were struggling to make themselves heard.

She leaned back and looked up at him. “We need to be more careful, okay?”

He nodded. “Whatever you need, Scully.”

“No more consorting on assignments,” she said firmly. “I mean it.”

He nodded, as dreams of any future late-night case rendezvous flitted away like a frightened flock of birds. “Okay.”

She looked at him for a minute, then turned to grab her coat. “I think I’m going to go home for the day.”

He blinked. “Why?” He looked at his watch, which said 4:19. They’d be leaving in less than an hour anyway, presumably together. 

“I just need to get out of here.” 

“All right,” he said dubiously. “Do you want me to turn in our field reports?”

She shook her head and took the neatly stacked pile from the desk. “No, I’ll do it.” 

“Will you… still come over later?” They’d had plans to stay at his place.

She looked thoughtful. “Yes, just… let’s be careful, okay?”

He’d never seen Scully behave like this. He wondered where all this paranoia was back when they’d been bugged by the NSA, or the DOD, or all manner of government agencies that had tailed them for far more diabolical reasons.

“Okay, I’ll make sure there are no camera crews outside my place.”

She looked at him. “I’m serious, Mulder.”

He nodded. Now wasn’t the time for jokes, clearly. “Sorry. Message received.”

She turned to go, and when she was gone he felt the first stirrings of real concern that this relationship was not going to be the smooth sailing he’d hoped it would be. 

In any event, he was prepared to do whatever she needed to make her comfortable. To get them to a place where they could move forward, truly forward.

 



***




Scully stepped into the elevator after turning in the reports. She hit the down button, backed up against the wall, and as the doors slowly closed a hand darted between them, followed closely by a male agent she didn’t know. He was blond and tall and sweaty. 

He stepped into the elevator and glanced over at Scully as he pressed his own floor. The doors closed and they were alone with the quiet whine of descent. 

The man did a double take and something like recognition crossed his face.

“Agent Scully, right?” he asked her. 

She wasn’t in the mood for pleasantries, much less inside an elevator, so she nodded politely and stared straight ahead.

“Yeah,” he said in a long, drawn-out voice. “I thought it was you.”

“Excuse me?” she asked, not really wanting to engage, but at the same time mildly curious as to his meaning.

“Oh, nothing.” He stepped closer, too close, until he was standing right beside her. She shifted slightly away from him, but there wasn’t much room for her to move. “Just heard something about you.”

A chill went up her spine and her cheeks felt hot. She wasn’t an idiot, she knew exactly what this was. 

“I like what I heard,” he drawled. He was breathing heavily. She felt bile rising in the back of her throat.

She looked up at the indicator lights as they ticked down floor by floor. Just a few seconds to go…

A few seconds was all the man needed to reach an arm out behind her and grab her backside. 

*ding*

She didn’t have the time or the wherewithal to look for a badge before the elevator doors opened, granting her the sweet relief of escape. She charged forward, not wanting to cause a scene that would surely uncover everything she’d been trying so hard to hide, and brushed past the people waiting to step in.

She had no idea what floor she was on, so she waited around the corner for the elevator to depart, then decided to take the stairs instead.

The tears didn’t come until she was safely inside her car.





Chapter Text

Scully didn’t really want to go over to Mulder’s after the incident in the elevator. It wasn’t that she was upset with him, or even angry at men in general. It was because she wasn’t sure how to behave.

She didn’t want to let this bother her as much as it did, but she couldn’t get the image out of her head of that man leering at her, whoever he was, presumably having either seen the videotape or heard about it. The guy was an asshole, plain and simple. But her concerns had been valid; this thing had been released into the Hoover Building like a virus, and it would spread and spread and spread until she became some person to everyone that she was not.

In any event, as much as she enjoyed proving herself correct, this was one situation in which she had no desire to.

Mulder welcomed her in, happy to see her. He poured her wine and rubbed her feet. She had the distinct impression he was trying to distract her from what had happened in Skinner’s office by being the perfect boyfriend, and she wished she was in a mood to enjoy it but she just wasn’t. He could tell.

“Scully, are you okay?” he asked her. “You’ve seemed off all night. Is this about what happened in Skinner’s office?”

He looked so concerned she almost told him about the elevator incident, but she stopped herself, perhaps out of embarrassment, perhaps out of shame. Maybe she just didn’t want his predictable protective streak to flare up. She knew what would happen next. Mulder would ask who the guy was, and when she told him she didn’t know, he’d make it his new quest to find him and beat the ever-loving shit out of him.

She didn’t want that at all. That would only draw attention to their escalating dilemma. Besides, she never wanted him to feel like he had to save her. She was no damsel in distress. She was Dana Scully.

“I’m fine,” she said, which she really should’ve known better than to say. Mulder was well aware that was code for I’m not fine.

“It’s gonna be okay, you know?” he tried to assure her. “This will all be forgotten by Monday.”

It wouldn’t, and she knew this better than Mulder ever could. His utter ignorance and helplessness broke her heart a little. But his intentions were pure, and he was trying.

“You’re right,” she said reluctantly, something she never said to Mulder when he wasn’t. 

He lifted his hand to move the hair out of her face in that delicate way of his, and she smiled. “You’re really sweet, you know that?” she said. “I had no idea.”

He shrugged. “You bring it out in me.” They were quiet for a moment, just looking at each other. 

“Hey Scully,” he said, breaking the silence. “You wanna go steady?”

She burst out laughing, the moment so welcomed. Her hand went to his cheek. She couldn’t love him more if she tried. “Yes, I’d like that.” 

“With me, is the catch,” he grinned.

“Still yes.”

He smiled, and in his eyes she saw the hope she’d grown so fond of seeing there. It was another huge step for them, a moment that meant something. She closed her eyes and sighed, living in that moment. Maybe she couldn’t ever fully satisfy him, not really. But he still wanted to be with her. Maybe for now, it was enough.

He moved to kiss her and she flinched, just a bit, but enough for him to notice. What was that about? She wanted him to kiss her, so why was she reacting this way?

“Is this not okay?” he asked softly. She loved him so much: his tenderness, his attentiveness. She wished she’d noticed it much sooner.

“No, it’s okay,” she said. She put her arms around his neck and pulled him close, trying to focus. This is Mulder, it’s just Mulder, she told herself, and she tried to put the events of the day behind her and give him all the attention he deserved.

He kissed her softly at first, then his passion began to build as he ran his fingers through her hair. He moaned her name into her ear as he sucked on her earlobe, pulling her body into his. She could feel him getting hard against her as he unbuttoned her shirt, and while she wanted to get naked with him she didn’t want to feel vulnerable tonight. 

I heard something about you.

She tried to shake off the unwelcome image of the creep in the elevator as she pulled Mulder’s T shirt up and over his head, and started pushing his pants down. She probably did it faster than she should have because he seemed to take it as a sign he wasn’t going fast enough. He scooped her up as he kicked off his pants and carried her to his bed, tossing her down on it and in a quick motion sliding her skirt down and off.

“You’re so sexy,” he mumbled as he threw her legs over his shoulders and began teasing the fabric of her panties with the tip of his tongue. She loved when he went down on her, it was her very favorite thing, but her head ragdolled from side to side in distress as Mulder’s magical tongue was conflated with images of unwanted advances. 

I like what I heard.

He slid her panties down her thighs, all the way down and off, spreading her legs and returning to his task. She wanted to tell him to stop, that this was too much right now, but she couldn’t. She didn’t want him to know how much this was bothering her. So she let him finish, or at least think he finished, by faking it.

He wasn’t fooled, however, when he brought his face up next to hers to kiss her, and saw tears welling in her eyes. She’d tried to hold them in, she’d really tried.

“Scully, what’s wrong?”

She shook her head and smiled at him through her tears. She loved him, and that she didn’t have to fake.

“Nothing, Mulder,” she said, and pulled him close to her, kissing him again. “I’m fine.”

She hated lying to him. She never wanted to do it again.

That night, as Mulder slept soundly beside her, she got out of his bed quietly, put her clothes back on in his bathroom, and with one pensive look at her slumbering partner, crept out of his apartment without a sound.



***



When he woke up, she wasn’t in his arms.

The memory of last night came screaming back in snippets, as if he were drunk or had blacked out somehow. But he hadn’t had so much as a sip of the wine he’d poured for Scully, so focused he’d been on making her feel good after what had surely been a tumultuous day for her.

I’m fine, she’d said. He'd known better, even as she’d snuggled up beside him and fallen asleep. 

Something was bothering her, and while he wanted to believe it was only the idea of people finding out about them, he couldn’t shake the thought that she was in some way ashamed of him, ashamed of their relationship. That she might decide at any moment none of this was worth it and end things completely.

He got up and looked around for a note or something, some sign she’d had a good reason to leave, and found nothing. His hand involuntarily went to his crotch, which was aching for the release he’d denied himself last night on account of Scully’s comfort. 

He jerked off in the shower while picturing her mouth around his cock, and when he got out to towel off he felt like shit. Everything suddenly felt complicated, when surely it didn’t have to be. Scully had never objected to having her mouth around his cock; in fact, he was convinced she quite enjoyed it from the look in her eyes whenever she’d had it there.

He wrapped the towel around his waist, then planted his arms on either side of the sink as he leaned forward to look at himself in the mirror. He was so confused about what this new chapter of his life was shaping out to be. He’d spent over a decade of his life on the X-Files, sacrificed so much for his cause. Scully had sacrificed so much for his cause that it had become her own, and he couldn’t deny his own guilt about that.

He loved the way they worked together, the way she rolled her eyes at his theories but always listened. He loved sneaking around in the dark with her, even before those escapades had any romantic potential. He loved how smart she was; he could never do any of the things he accomplished without her by his side.

He loved having Scully as his partner. But he also loved having her as more.

He’d cordoned off his life surrounding Samantha into sections: the before, the during, the after. It occurred to him that he was doing the same with Scully, only he didn’t want there to be an after when it came to Scully.

He shuddered, the mere thought of moving forward without her making his insides shrivel up like a drying rose petal. He could never, ever let there be an after. 

When he got into work that day he arrived at the basement at their usual time, but Scully was nowhere to be found. Typically, he was content to spend all day down here mulling over countless case files, formulating impossible theories. But typically, Scully was down here to listen to him. He tried to call her, twice, to no avail.

He’d suspected something was off last night but now he was concerned something was very wrong. He’d been thinking about what she’d said in their office ever since it had happened. All morning he’d allowed it to work its way into his brain like a splinter, and now he still felt it, a sharp pain at his temple he feared wouldn’t subside. 

Restless, he wandered up into the bullpen looking for her. Did she have an appointment at Quantico she’d neglected to tell him about? He tried over and over to come up with an excuse, a reason she’d left that wasn’t the most glaringly obvious one. 

He went into the kitchen to get a cup of coffee, and as he was pouring it he heard some men wander in behind him.

“I asked her out once and she turned me down,” one of the voices said. “I just assumed she was frigid.”

Another man laughed. “I heard she’s a real bitch,” he said. “Maybe getting a little will help in that department.”

“I guess she’s got so few options down there,” a third voice chimed in.

Mulder got a sinking feeling in his gut. Down there. They were talking about Scully.

“Do you think she’d go out with me now? I mean, now that she’s putting out?” All of the men laughed and he heard high fives going around.

Jesus Christ, men are awful, was his first thought. He was embarrassed on behalf of his entire gender.

Part of him wanted to turn around and lay each one of the motherfuckers out. The other part, the one that felt Scully touching his forearm gently with a soft Mulder, no, won out and waited until they left. 

For the first time he wondered if this was one of the reasons Scully had waited so many years to make this leap with him. He’d never had the opportunity, or perhaps the inclination, to really put himself in her shoes before. There had been barely a whiff of indiscretion and that’s all it had taken for her house of cards to come crashing down. 

She was such a good person, and a great agent. She was smarter than all of those kitchen buffoons put together, and quite honestly, could probably take each one of them down without his help. But none of that mattered anymore. 

An image of a holding cell in California entered his mind: the gaggle of cops fawning all over Jade Blue Afterglow. He’d joined in too, for no reason at all, other than a brief moment of male camaraderie. It was so unlike him but still, it had happened. And now it was clear the male agents in this very building were no different. 

She wasn’t comfortable at work anymore, and it was because of this; of them, of the change they’d made to themselves. They’d crossed a line when they’d consummated their relationship, a line he couldn’t just step back over even if he wanted to, which he didn’t. That was a big enough deal. But for Scully, it had changed something about her fundamentally, something that bled over into her professional life. And it didn’t matter what they did, how secret their affair was, how few people actually knew the truth, because that something-- like a contagion-- had not only taken root in whoever had heard the rumors: it had taken root inside of her. There was nothing he could do to change that.

He felt like an idiot for doubting her, and as the wheels turned in his mind he could see the pieces of what had occurred last night snap into place, making sense of what was probably going on this morning. Scully, his Scully, hadn’t been in his bed last night, and that scared him. That knowledge, along with this alarming new development of her abandoning him in the middle of the night, was creating unease within him that simmered like a slow cooker. 

He wondered how long it would take until his unease ratcheted up to real terror of losing her for good.

 

***



A few hours had passed with no sign of Scully when he was called, alone, into a meeting with several directors including AD Kersh. Skinner sat in the back of the room looking resigned. 

“Have a seat, Agent Mulder,” one of the men said. He did. Mulder looked around the room and tried to recall meeting any one of these nameless men. Other than Skinner and Kersh, he couldn’t. 

“I’m sure you’re aware why we’ve called you in today,” a short man with gray hair and glasses said. He shuffled some papers.

Was this about the video? Had he and Scully been outed to the entire FBI?

Mulder shook his head. They’d have to drag it out of him. “Not in the slightest, sir.”

“The bureau has been looking to make some cuts,” the man said. “Audits are scheduled and yours is the first department on the chopping block. It appears the X-Files unit just isn’t financially viable anymore.”

Mulder nodded slowly. He looked around. “And why isn’t my partner here to receive this news with me?”

“You tell us, Agent Mulder. She hasn’t shown up for work today, and isn’t responding to our calls.”

He blinked. It sounded accusatory.

“I don’t know where she is.”

It was the truth, but he didn’t seem to be fooling anyone. “I see,” muttered the man. “You should be aware it’s also been brought to our attention that you and Agent Scully have entered into an inappropriate personal relationship.”

He felt a chill go up his spine. Surely this wasn’t a coincidence. They're splitting us up.

“My personal relationships aren’t the bureau’s business, with all due respect,” he said.

“Yes,” the man said, “they aren’t. At least, they aren’t until they begin to interfere with your work.”

Mulder clenched his jaw, getting more irritated by the second. “How exactly is my personal life interfering with my work on the X-Files?” he asked. 

“This is-” the man began to stumble over his words- “merely a financial decision, Agent Mulder.”

Mulder shook his head. “No, you said this was about a personal relationship a second ago,” he pointed out.

“There are many reasons we no longer condone the pursuit of X-File cases,” one of the men sitting behind the gray-haired man said, ostensibly rescuing the other. “Many reasons.”

Mulder suddenly felt ill. If the X-Files were being closed, so be it. But if the X-Files were being closed because of his and Scully’s relationship, that was something he could not tolerate.

“Sounds like there are two,” he said. “I counted two reasons.” He held up two fingers for emphasis. “Please, tell me if I’m getting this wrong.”

He knew it was probably foolish to denigrate the board’s decision this way, but he couldn’t help himself. 

The gray-haired man sat forward in his seat, indicated the file on the table next to him. “Agent Mulder,” he said. “Inappropriate work relations aside, your travel expenses alone--”

“If it’s a financial issue, maybe Agent Scully and I could start sharing motel rooms. Solve one of these problems with the other.”

The board was silent. Mulder knew now wasn’t the time for jokes, but the entire situation felt so unfair. Inappropriate work relations? He wanted to scream at them, that he and Scully had maintained appropriate work relations for nearly their entire tenure on the X-Files, to a fault, he now thought, and for what? Only to trip at the finish line? They were being punished for simply following their hearts. And Scully’s punishment would most certainly carry on long after this debacle was over. It felt like everything was getting worse, not better.

The anger that had been brewing since he encountered those assholes in the kitchen started to boil beneath his skin. He could grin and bear it; take whatever crap assignment they put him on, allow Scully to get reassigned as well. Would they even allow him to go back to profiling if he wanted to? This all seemed like an excuse to get rid of him. He could see the writing on the wall.

For some reason his mind flashed to the dead girl in the strip mall, to Samantha, to the millions of faceless women whose voices had been silenced. To Scully, who, through no fault of her own, no longer felt respected or even safe in her own workplace. And this institution-- the one he’d joined as a young man with such optimism and fervor, poured his lifeblood into every single day at the expense of all else-- betraying him. Betraying Scully.

Skinner eyed him curiously from the back of the room. Moving on, he remembered. It’s what Skinner had suggested. Perhaps his boss had known this was coming all along. 

“Agent Mulder, we’ve all come to a decision your time on the X-Files has come to a close,” said Kersh, speaking up for the first time. “Finish out the week, and you’ll be reassigned, along with Agent Scully, to separate departments on Monday.” 

Mulder knew in this moment he had no more power, no more recourse. He’d lost the X-Files before, twice, but things were different this time.

This time, he had something else to live for.

He thought only of Scully’s face when he let his next words escape.

“Fuck you. All of you.”

Mulder took off his badge, threw it down on the conference table, and set his holster and gun down as well. Then he turned his back on a dozen stunned faces and left the room.



Chapter Text

When Skinner called, Scully was prepared to tell him she wasn’t coming in today, running through a list of plausible excuses that wouldn’t draw questions. But the reason for his call was to deliver big news: the X-Files were being shut down, for good. 

She felt two emotions at once. First, and most immediately, was relief. 

Second was incredible crushing guilt at feeling that relief.

Mulder. How would he take this? 

She would land on her feet, find something else. Maybe leave the tangled web of the bureau to pursue medicine again. Take some time off, travel, utilize some of that savings she’d put away for a rainy day. 

If Mulder were with her, and they were together, she could face the rain. Away from all of this.

Skinner hadn’t elaborated when she’d asked how Mulder took the news, only communicated that it had hit her partner hard, and to talk to him herself.

She entered his apartment tentatively, prepared to excuse her morning departure with some white lie about not feeling well, but he didn’t ask.

Mulder was sitting on his couch, his head in his hands. He looked despondent. Thoughts of her own issues, even thoughts of their relationship faded into the background as she bore witness to his pain. She didn’t want him to know she was secretly relieved the X-Files had been closed. She still felt guilty that she had those feelings at all. 

“So...” she said, as she closed the door with a gentle click. 

At the sound of her voice he looked up, absolutely exhausted. Losing the X-Files for the third time seemed to have taken its toll. She thought of him standing silently in their smoldering office a couple of years ago; how he hadn’t even really registered her presence, so numb he’d been. It was difficult for Scully to even imagine a Mulder without the X-Files.

His life’s work. His quest. Yes, he’d found Samantha, but she knew him well enough to know that would never be the end of it, not really. Not for Fox Mulder. That same fear she’d felt last night lurched up within her, that no matter what happened, no matter what she said or did, she wasn’t enough for him. Maybe she never could be.

His eyes seemed to soften as she came nearer to him, however, and for a moment she believed it was simply love; that nothing else really mattered. 

“Come here,” was all he said, holding out his hand. She took it and he pulled her down into his lap. He held her in a close embrace, wrapping both of his arms around her.

“I’m sorry, Mulder,” she said.

“For what?”

She sighed. “I just think… this never would have happened if we hadn’t been caught.” 

This never would have happened if we’d just stayed partners. She hated these thoughts, she hated the truth right now.

“I’m sure it was bound to happen eventually, Scully,” he said. He looked at her, slightly opening his mouth, and it seemed as if he wanted to say more, but he didn’t. 

Suddenly the guilt began to grow, expanding like a balloon inside her and she felt like she couldn’t breathe. This was all happening to him because of her, because she’d kissed him. He was losing his life’s work because of what she’d done. 

“I’m so sorry,” she said again, because she couldn’t think of anything else to say. 

“Hey, now,” he said, slightly perplexed. “None of that. We’re going to be fine.”

He seemed so calm, but he couldn’t possibly be. It made her feel even worse that he was putting on a brave face for her benefit. She leaned in to kiss him, wanting nothing more than to absolve herself of her guilt. To make this ever-growing fear in her gut that she could never, ever satisfy him go away, even just for tonight.

Their kiss deepened, and she leaned into him, bringing her body close to his as he curled an arm around her waist. Immediately her fingers went to the button of his pants, which she unfastened adeptly before he could even realize what she was up to.

“Scully, you… you want to--” he appeared to be trying to get her to slow down but she had no intention of doing so. She slid off the couch, pulling his pants down past his knees and positioning herself between them. 

“Hey, I think we should talk,” he said. About what, she didn’t want to know. The X-Files? Her behavior the night before? It didn’t matter. She didn’t feel like talking.

“I don’t want to talk, Mulder,” she said. 

He wasn’t hard yet, so she cupped his balls through his boxer shorts, leaning close to kiss him through the fabric. She felt him awakening beneath her lips and heard his head hit the wall as he tilted it back, and felt somewhat relieved that there would be no further protestations.

She slid his boxers down his thighs, slowly. His penis lay across his belly but was getting firmer by the second, and when she reached to take it into her hand he groaned with pleasure. She teased him with her tongue, root to tip, and could physically feel him growing beneath her fingers as she did so. She closed her eyes and indulged in every surface, every ridge, knowing that whatever else they couldn’t fix at the moment, right now she could make him feel good. It was the only thing she wanted.

When she’d brought him to full attention, she rose up onto her knees a bit to get a better angle, then drew him slowly, completely into her mouth.

“Sculleeeeeee….” he breathed. “Fuck.

She slid him between her wet lips, in and out, languidly at first, circling her tongue around his tip after every withdrawal. He was growing larger by the second, and eventually she needed the assistance of her hand to keep herself from gagging. His hips thrusted gently to meet her each time until he was properly fucking her face. 

“Yeah, yeah…” he moaned. She’d take ‘yeah.’ It had been a rough day for both of them; she would take every bit of positivity she could get.

After a short while, out of the corner of her eye she saw one of his impending orgasm tells: his right hand curling into a fist, opening and closing. She moved faster, desperate to make him come.

He gently touched her shoulder. “Get up. I want to finish inside you,” he said. “Please.”

Truth be told, she wanted him to come down her throat, wanting this to be all about him, but more than that, she wanted him to have whatever he needed right now. She released him with an audible slurp and stood up, reaching underneath her skirt and slipping her dampened panties all the way off. She got onto the couch on all fours next to him and hiked up her skirt, her ass in his face.

“Come on, then,” she said, looking over her shoulder with a provocative eyebrow.

“Jesus,” he breathed, and obeyed. He got up onto his knees and situated himself behind her, silent for a moment, ostensibly taking in the sight. He groaned again, this time barely audible, and she felt his fingertips grazing the curve of her ass as the leather of the couch cushion dipped in eager anticipation, and rather than his hard cock slipping into her, she felt his tongue. 

She leaned forward in surprise, not having experienced his magical mouth from this position before. She hadn’t even planned on having an orgasm tonight but it seemed Mulder wouldn’t stand for such an egregious deviation. His tongue swirled and sought everything it could explore from this angle, and she could feel his hot breath against her ass cheeks as he gripped them with his hands, pressing his face into her sex, inhaling, burrowing.

“God, you taste incredible,” he mumbled. She gripped the arm of the couch and her eyes bulged as she instinctively widened her stance. He went deeper. 

“Muld--” she said, and she found herself so overcome with pleasure she was unable to form words.

“Yeah?” he asked, unbothered, lapping away.

“Mulll… I wanna… Mul…” she drawled, her eyelids drooping, losing any semblance of cohesive thought.

“Tell me what you want,” he said, speaking her language, somehow.

Finding a brief window of clarity and seizing it, she gasped. “Fuck me, Mulder!

She felt a chill against her as he backed away, followed hastily by the thick heat of him sliding into her like a warm blanket on a cold night. He leaned forward, draping himself over her like said blanket, his hands on her shoulders. He rocked against her, moaning his desire into her ear. She’d never felt so turned on in her life.

She reached up and over her shoulder to grab his hand, first colliding with his forearm, which was covered by his shirt sleeve, then sliding down to thread her fingers with his. Jesus, he was still wearing his shirt, and his tie, she was realizing, and a graphic image of Agent Fox Mulder fucking her doggy-style nearly fully clothed on his couch entered her mind. She almost came right then, right there, just imagining it.

He’d never felt bigger or harder inside her before, and just as she was certain he would split her in half, she felt the hand she was holding start to squeeze, open and closed, again, telling her he was close, so close. She squeezed back, not caring about her own pleasure anymore but just glad he was experiencing his own, when she felt his other hand reach underneath her, between them, finding her clit and circling it madly.

Anything Mulder did was her kink. It appeared making them both come at the same time was his.

She cried out his name as she came, and he grunted and fell forward as she felt him emptying inside her shortly afterwards. 

Post-coitally was never how she’d imagined hearing him declare himself for the first time, but as he breathed heavily against her, he wrapped one arm underneath, holding her against him, and with his other hand he swept the hair away from her ear and whispered into it.

“I love you, Scully.”

Her heart nearly burst with love for him, but she hesitated. He was euphoric, still coming down from above, and he’d uttered the words in the throes of passion. She didn’t know if he really meant it. She didn’t know if he even realized it.

She could feel her own declaration coming up her esophagus, bubbling up. I love you, Mulder. 

But she stopped herself. She didn’t want to tell him while his dick was softening inside of her and she couldn’t even see his face. Not for the first time. 

In any case, he didn’t appear to be waiting for her to say it back as he withdrew himself gently. He pulled up his boxers and settled back onto the couch with a heavy, contented sigh, his eyes closed. She watched him and truly wondered if he even knew he’d said anything at all.

She couldn’t do much else other than pick up her panties and head to the bathroom to clean up, so she did, and by the time she’d returned it seemed the heated moment had passed. He looked up at her with a smile.

“Thanks, that was…”

“It was,” she finished his thought. 

She sat down next to him and threw her arm across his chest. The topic of the X-Files being closed didn’t come up again. Rather, she drifted into a state of contented denial, one that Mulder, in this moment at least, seemed to share.



***



The following day was April 18th: a full moon. 

As fate would have it, they were still cleared to investigate X-Files until the end of the week. But Mulder had insisted she take the day off and spend it with him, which was romantic, she had to admit, but a little weird. She couldn’t recall him taking any time off voluntarily, and that was probably because he never had.

They’d spent all day in each other’s company, avoiding all of the topics they should be discussing the most. They were good at it. They'd had seven years of practice.

There was a nagging feeling inside her that wasn’t subsiding. Mulder hadn’t done anything wrong, in fact, she blamed herself for feeling the way she did: the events of the past few days had created an unstoppable force in her mind, like a rubber band that kept stretching more and more, first one way, then the other. She was afraid it might break at any moment.

Mulder hadn’t said a word about the creature they’d been tracking the past couple of months. Scully was well aware that if they had any chance of catching it, whatever it was, it would be tonight. When the sun began to set, she had to say something.

“Mulder, you do realize what tonight is?”

He looked up at her from her couch, where he’d planted himself while she’d been going over some casework. “Trivia night at O’Reilly’s?”

She ignored him. “It’s a full moon.”

His right eye flickered in that way it did when he was thinking hard about something. “Oh, yeah?”

“We can still investigate until the week is out. Don’t you want to take advantage of that?”

He stroked his chin. “We could. Or, we could just stay here and…” he waggled his eyebrows a couple of times.

“As enticing as that sounds, Mulder, what if it comes out tonight? People could be in danger.” 

He shrugged, looking so uninterested it confused her. “Meh.”

She approached him, pressing her hand to his forehead. “Are you feeling okay? You’re not Eddie Van BlundHt again, are you?”

He laughed, and pulled her down on top of him. “Seven years of chasing monsters with me, Scully. I finally just want to lie around with you and do nothing, and you’re giving me a hard time about it?”

She pulled back. “It’s just not like you, that’s all.”

“I don’t understand what the point is,” he said. “Say someone gets attacked tonight by some creature. There won’t be anyone around next week to catch it anyway. So we may as well just stay here.”

“We can catch it tonight,” she pointed out. “What’s the matter with you?”

He sighed, letting her go, falling back against the couch. She propped herself up on her arms.

“Look, Mulder, I can see you’re going through something here, that maybe you’re upset about work, and I get that. But it doesn’t mean you need to take it out on the citizens of the District of Columbia.”

She wasn’t comfortable with his attitude. It seemed Mulder was grieving the X-Files and he was in Stage One: Denial, or Being an Irresponsible Asshole, or whatever it was.

Suddenly she was very annoyed. She slid off of him and stood next to him. “Get up. We’re going.”

He stood, but guiltily scratched the back of his head. “I, uh… don’t have my badge on me.”

She blinked. His behavior was unusual enough, but he’d left his badge somewhere?

“You don’t have your badge?”

He shook his head.

“Where is it, exactly?” she asked, as if he were three. 

“Uh…” he looked around the room, apparently trying to magically summon it by will. “Scully, I…” He looked at her like he was about to tell her something, but her phone rang from the pocket of her jacket.

“That was Officer Daniels,” she told him, hanging up the phone. “Suspicious activity in Rock Creek Park. Come on. We’ll cross the badge bridge when or if we come to it.”

“What did he say, exactly?” Mulder asked.

“To quote him directly, ‘There’s some weird shit going down in Rock Creek Park.’ Is that good enough for you, Spooky Mulder?” She looked at him expectantly, but he still made no move to leave. So she grabbed his jacket, tossed it at him, and commanded in the Scully voice she knew he never ignored. “We’re going monster hunting and I’m not taking no for an answer.”

His look made it seem like he was battling with himself, as if this was a particularly difficult decision for him to make. She thought it extremely odd, but he gave an exaggerated, heavy sigh, then grinned at her. “You’re the boss.”

They grabbed their jackets and went out into the moonlit night.



Chapter Text

It wasn’t that he didn’t want to go monster hunting; he just didn’t want to admit to Scully he’d quit the FBI. That would lead to more questions, and more answers he didn’t want to give. 

He couldn’t hide it from her forever, he knew that, but he wanted to formulate a plan first. It was difficult to formulate one when he didn’t have the first clue as to what he was going to do next.

For now, though, he decided to just exist within his element. Scully was annoyed with him, and he worried he was projecting his own fears onto her, but he couldn’t shake the omnipresent thought that she might leave him at any moment. He wished he knew how to make that feeling go away.

The park was deserted, and there were sounds of woodland nightlife surrounding them. The full moon cast an eerie light upon the trees, creating shadows that stretched across the ground towards them like creeping vines. He found it hard to believe any activity had been reported, and while Mulder wasn’t certain if anything was out here at all, he felt naked without his weapon, and guilty for not telling Scully about it.

Suddenly he realized the twigs that had been predictably snapping beneath his shoes weren’t anymore. In fact, he couldn’t hear anything. A prickling sensation crept up his forearms.

“Do you hear that, Scully?” he asked, stopping, listening. There was absolute silence around them. There was no trickling creek, no crickets chirping, no rustling in the trees. He couldn’t even feel the wind anymore. A shiver ran down his spine that he couldn’t account for.

He instinctively reached for his weapon and, of course, found nothing. A fear took root in his gut that grew.

Scully.

He’d brought her out here under false pretense, that he was backing her up. He wasn’t even capable of backing her up. She could be in real, actual danger at any moment and he’d failed her: as a partner, as a friend, as a protector. As everything.

His entire body felt cold: a chill that began in his toes and spread throughout his body like a disease. And for a fleeting moment the world turned black, as if the moon had flickered like a spent lightbulb. And in that moment, he felt a terror unlike any he'd ever experienced.

As he stared up at the ghostly orb, he now saw rain coming down in streaks, like arrows, first gently, and then without any warning they were in the midst of a deluge.

Without any words, he grabbed Scully by the hand and began to run. 

“Mulder, what are you doing?” He knew she hated feeling coddled, and his hand-holding certainly wouldn’t be doing him any favors, but he had to get them both out of here, now. They ran and ran and ran, and he heard no wind, and the moon followed them silently as they made their way back to the side of the road.

A crack of thunder sounded as they reached the car, and the doors slammed, and Mulder peeled out.

“What the hell was that about?” she asked, completely baffled. “What did you see?”

He shook his head. “Nothing, nothing,” he insisted. “I just… I got spooked, that’s all.”

“Mulder, this is hardly an unusual situation for us,” she noted.

Out it came. “I don’t have my weapon, okay?!”

She looked over at him. “What?”

He sighed and shook his head. The jig was up. 

“Mulder, why don’t you have your weapon?”

“I… quit the FBI. Yesterday.”

She gaped at him, in absolute shock. “You what? Why?”

He didn’t want to tell her the real reason, that she’d been right all along, that the bureau was punishing them for being together. But he also didn’t want to lie. Instead he just looked at her, his mouth opening and closing helplessly, the wipers swishing, the rain pounding against the windshield..

She turned away from him to look out the window and a chilled hush fell across them, a quiet harbinger of certain doom.

“I think this was a mistake.”

Her words pierced the quiet bubble of the car. Mulder stared straight ahead, trying to navigate the newly river-like street. “You’re probably right, I overreacted a bit.”

“No, Mulder,” she said more firmly, turning in her seat. “I think… this was a mistake.”

He heard a ringing in his ears. His heart rate sped up. He pulled the car to the side of the road, threw it into park. 

“You... what?” He searched her face for her meaning, trying to wriggle their way out of this yet again, but he saw in her expression the truth. 

No… no, not this, please. Anything but this.

“Sleeping together, this whole thing,” she said calmly, rationally, as if she wasn’t throwing what they had away without a second thought. As if ‘this whole thing’ hadn’t been actual happiness, utter fucking perfection. 

As if this whole thing wasn’t real, true love. 

Mulder felt sick to his stomach, and the car was spinning. He gripped the steering wheel for balance and closed his eyes. His heart pounded loudly in his chest like a drumbeat.

How could he have been so stupid? Of course it had been too good to be true. He wasn’t a fool; he could sense she’d been slipping away for days now and he’d done absolutely nothing to stop it. 

“Why?” He had a right to know, didn’t he? 

She just sat there staring at him, so hollow and emotionless. She must have known she was ripping his world out from underneath him. “I don’t want to hurt you, Mulder,” she said stupidly. “But I just think we acted rashly. This is all just… too much. It never should have happened at all.”

His heart thudded beneath his ribcage. “But you…” he tried to think of something to say that would fix this, that would make everything okay again. “You kissed me. You told me… that you wanted me.”

She swallowed hard, and he saw what looked like shame paint her features. “It was selfish of me, and I got caught up in a moment—“

He was stunned into silence. They just stared at each other. This was happening, actually happening, what he’d feared from the start: the moment he’d waited his entire life for was Scully telling him she wanted him, and now all he could do was watch helplessly as she quietly and quickly undid it. Like tearing off a band-aid.

He could still hear the beating of his heart, like a clock ticking, mocking him for all the time they’d wasted. For all the time he now wouldn’t get to have with her.

“ I--” she at least had the good grace to own up to it-- “ I acted rashly. It’s my fault,” she said, rationally. Like she could just reason a way out of this.

Suddenly the fear of losing her was so real he could barely speak. He thought of a time before their lips had touched, before their bodies had joined: of a time when he was lonely, sure… but at least he still had her in his life. Things had been much simpler.

Now, he was going to lose her forever.

“How could you do this?” he asked quietly, his eyes brimming with tears. He couldn’t stop them. 

“Do what?” she asked quietly.

“You made me fall in love with you, Scully!” he cried. Never in his life had he felt so vulnerable. He loved her, he fucking loved her more than anything in the world, and she was rejecting him.

“You don’t love me, Mulder,” she said flatly, and as much as he despised lies they sounded even uglier coming out of her mouth.

“Of course I do!” He was yelling now, and he rarely raised his voice to her. But he wasn’t going to let her do this. He wasn’t going to let her turn this entire thing into a mistake, into a nothing. He turned in his seat and gripped her by her shoulders. “How can you say that? Why are you saying these things?”

She shook her head. “You don’t… you can’t, Mulder…”

What was she talking about?

“You love your work,” she said. “And now that’s gone, because of us. It was fun while it lasted, but…”

Is she absolutely insane?!

“You can’t believe that, Scully, you can’t.”

He unbuckled his seat belt and leaned over the console, hands grasping blindly, reaching for what he could, which was her nearest thigh and her other hand. He drew her as close to him as he could, wrapping his arms around her, laid his head against her chest and tried to imagine what his life would be like tomorrow.

Tomorrow will be like any other day… we’ll be together, she’d said. It wasn’t a promise but it may as well have been. Now she was taking all of those tomorrows away from him, away from both of them. If he let her walk away now, he’d never really know why.

“Don’t do this, please.” He’d beg if he had to. “Please.”

“Mulder…” she warned softly, her arms still at her sides.

“I love you, Scully,” he said. He should have said it weeks ago. He should have said it years ago.

He felt her inhale, his ear against her chest, but she said nothing. 

“I love you,” he repeated, and she didn’t say it back. 

A bolt from the blue crashed into him and he remembered last night, which he’d almost forgotten had happened; how he’d told her he loved her in a heated moment. She hadn’t said it back then, either.

The fear he’d felt since she uttered those first horrible words gripped him now more acutely than ever before.

This was a mistake.

He knew now. What was true, what she couldn’t say, wasn’t that she didn’t believe he loved her. 

The truth was, she didn’t love him.

He knew now. Everything else was just an excuse. The real reason was as clear as the moon above them.

All of the wind immediately left his body. He wanted to cry, he wanted to rage, but not at her. Never at her. It wasn’t her fault he was so unlovable.

“I’m sorry, Mulder,” she said, as if that fixed anything. “I… should go.” She began to pull away from him but he stopped her gently.

“Don’t.” He gripped her hand, harder than he wanted to but it felt important. “Don’t go.” He was terrified she would walk away and he’d never see her again. Just like after Dallas. Just like after Fort Marlene. What if he never got to kiss her again? What if he never got to hold her again?

She pushed him away and opened her car door, getting out. It slammed behind her and as she walked away he felt compelled to follow her. He could not lose her, not ever again.

He frantically opened his car door and ran after her, coming up behind her on the sidewalk. He had no idea where on earth she was heading. The moon was brighter than ever, like a huge flashlight beaming down upon them.

Let’s shine a light on this, Scully, he’d said with a grin. She’d wordlessly agreed as she kissed him. He’d never anticipated finding this.

He took her hand and pulled her down a deserted alleyway, completely forgetting why they were even out here in the first place. Fuck the X-Files, fuck the FBI. He pushed her against the wall and kissed her, and she kissed him back, seemingly mirroring his own desperation.

“Don’t…” she whispered, as her traitorous body flattened against his. He could feel her arm snake around his back, holding him in place. “Mulder…”

His shoes scraped the asphalt and in the air was the scent of wet pavement, that unique aroma of rain that either was or will be. His tongue sought hers and her hands moved to his scalp, her fingers squeezing fistfuls of his hair. She could pull away if she wanted to; he knew she didn’t take shit from anyone, least of all him. But she held still and let him kiss her. 

“Tell me to stop,” he breathed, and she arched into him. “Tell me.”

She didn’t.

“Mulder…” she whined, and the most pathetic, most masculine part of him hoped this might change her mind, this might work… maybe if he fucked her just right, or pleased her enough, she would stay, she would have to stay. The conviction of his own desperation was embarrassing.

He stood, pressing her against the wall, and kissed her fiercely, crushing her mouth with his. He could hear her fingernails scraping against the rough brick. The rain fell upon them heavily, cold and slick and relentless. He’d completely forgotten they were exposed to the elements, to fellow officers, to anyone who happened to be walking by. None of it even mattered.

She moaned and flung her arms around him, kissing him back, bringing her hands up underneath his jacket, underneath his shirt, and dragging her nails down his shoulder blades, hard. It hurt. He wanted it to hurt.

Everything hurt.

He cupped her face and kissed her with everything he had, all of the love he could give her. All he wanted was to hear her say she loved him but maybe this would be enough for now. Maybe this could be enough for now.

She pulled away and her head fell back against the wall.

“Scully… why?” was all he could summon. 

“I don’t know,” she responded, and she drew her face up into a look of anguish. “I don’t know.”

For the first time he could see wetness surrounding her blue irises, the tears she’d been holding back. This couldn’t possibly be what she wanted. Leaving him couldn’t possibly be the answer.

He wanted to scream in frustration. This didn’t have to be difficult but she seemed intent on making it so. If she didn’t love him, she should just tell him.

“Scully,” he said, as he stepped as close as he could. “Tell me you don’t want this.”

She shook her head, closing her eyes. He drew his face nearer to hers.

“Tell me we aren’t perfect for each other,” he cried, tears falling freely now.

“I... can’t. Mulder…” was all she could muster. “Please…”

Tell me you don’t love me. He wanted to say it, he wanted to ask her, but he feared the answer. He feared it so much the mere thought made his body turn even colder.

“No,” he said, shaking his head, his breath uneven. His heart absolutely pounded in his chest. It was painful. 

This is love, his mind screamed. His heart screamed. It has to be.

She opened her eyes. He felt dizzy with longing, flush with conflict and regret and all those dangerous things that had led them to this very impasse. But above all else he just wanted to love her, and he wanted her to let him.

Why, why, why, he thought. Why did this have to end?

He heard the ringing in his ears again, and all at once he felt his heart constricting within his chest, being crushed to pieces. He’d never experienced a heart attack but he feared that was exactly what was happening.

“Scully…” he cried, and when he leaned back to look at her face, he was overcome with a crashing realization. What he saw in front of him was not Scully. Her eyes were empty, meaningless. He grabbed her arm and it was as cold as ice.

What was happening?

Suddenly, inexplicably, she was gone. The rain, which had been falling torrentially only a moment ago stopped entirely, and he was lying on the ground alone. Only it wasn’t the pavement of some covert alleyway: instead, he was back in the woods, and saw the fingers of the trees reaching out above him, piercing the treacherous moon.

His heart was bursting open, and he felt it exploding all over the forest floor, blood trickling along the rooted ground. 

He swore the moon made a scornful, taunting face as the blackness took him.




***




Mulder was dying, she was sure of it. 

He spasmed and clutched his chest and his face was turning blue. It looked like he was having a heart attack, or a seizure of some kind, but it had just come out of nowhere.

“Mulder! Talk to me!” She grabbed his face and turned it to the side so he wouldn’t choke on his own vomit. 

Why… why… why… ” he was mumbling to himself, like he was in the middle of some kind of vivid waking nightmare.

“Mulder?!” She ripped his shirt open and was completely unprepared for what she saw. His heart was pounding in a crazy, impossible way, practically beating out of his chest. She wasn’t sure what to do; she’d never seen anything like it before. 

She pulled out her phone and dialed 911, agent down, send a paramedic. She tossed the phone down, in full panic mode. They were in the middle of the forest; no one was around. She wasn’t even certain an ambulance could get to them at all.

“Mulder, it’s me,” was all she could think to say. It came out in a terrified sob. “It’s me, I’m right here. Wake up.”

Why… why …” he continued, gasping for breath.

She didn’t have a kit, they didn’t have backup. This had been so stupid, she thought, so stupid and it was all her fault. She’d pushed him to come out here when he hadn’t even wanted to, chasing a monster that no one could see. 

He’s going to die, and it’s all my fault.

She’d nearly lost him so many times before: the boxcar in New Mexico, the retrovirus in the Arctic. The Luther Lee Boggs case, when they’d barely begun to know each other, but even then she could hardly fathom losing him.

His face looked so anguished it made her own heart ache for him. By nothing more than pure instinct she reached out and laid her hands over his palpitating chest. 

I’m going to lose him.  

The thought of losing him now made the hairs on the back of her neck stand up. In an instant, she felt a prickling sensation run from her fingers up to her shoulders, and all the blood in her body ran cold.  

The world suddenly turned black as the moon seemed to disappear.

Alone in the dark with Mulder dying on the floor in front of her, she was the only thing that stood between him and death until the paramedics arrived, if they could even find them out here. Now, she couldn’t see her hands in front of her face; couldn’t see what she was doing, could only feel Mulder’s bare, thumping chest beneath her trembling hands. 

This is not happening.

It couldn’t be happening, she didn’t want to believe it.

She felt her own body going into shock, recognizing the signs - her skin cool and clammy, her pulse racing, her breathing rapid - and knew she had to get a grip, and fast, if she was going to be of any use to Mulder. No one could help him right now but her. 

She closed her eyes and took a slow, deep breath, drawing strength from the feel of Mulder’s body beneath her. Here was something solid; something she could assess, and tend to, and maybe heal. This was her arena, her domain. She was trained for this. She reached for her expertise, for the calm and collected parts of her brain that could shed some light in this dreadful darkness.

The darkness. Why is it so dark?

There was no eclipse due that night; with the attention she and Mulder had been paying to the lunar cycles the past several weeks, she would surely have heard about a full moon eclipse. Astronomers would have been shouting it from the rooftops.

How could it possibly be so dark?

Her eyes were adjusting to the blackout and she could see Mulder as well as feel him now. She looked down at him struggling to breathe and scanned through a mental list of causes of acute arrhythmia: coronary artery disease, high blood pressure, heart valve disorders, electrolyte imbalances. None of them seemed likely for a man of Mulder’s age, given his lifestyle and medical history.

This is not happening. 

“Stay with me, Mulder…” she whispered, a tear breaking free. “Hang on… just stay with me, please...”

She could feel her own heart thumping in time with his, her blood whooshing in her ears, her heart muscles working overtime as adrenaline coursed through her veins. She recognized the signs of panic all over them both. And in an instant, the most obvious answer came to her. 

Fear. 

She was filled with pure fear. Her greatest fear. Losing Mulder. And hadn’t they come out here in search of some sort of fear monster in the first place? What if the same thing was happening to him?

She shut out her surroundings and sat quietly for a moment, processing. Then, she looked up at the moon. Or, at least, at where the moon should be. She eyed it squarely, setting her jaw, fixing the starless expanse with a steely, steady gaze. 

This. Is not. Happening.

She blinked once, and when she lifted her lids, the moon was back: an enormous pale eye glaring down at her. She blinked again, questioning for a moment whether she was imagining it. But the moon remained, glowing bright and full.

She wasted no more time wondering about it, and returned her attention to the task at hand, to Mulder, still writhing and jerking beneath her palms.

She spoke to him again.

“Mulder,” she tried, running her thumb over his sticky skin. “You’re okay. I’m here. I’m here. Everything is going to be okay.”

She could feel the frenzied beating of his heart begin to slow down, calming with her touch.  His eyes opened weakly as he looked around, not seeing her at first, but she leaned down close to him and his eyes landed on her face, finally registering her.

“Hey,” she smiled, smoothing his hair back from his sweaty forehead, cradling his face between her hands. “It’s me.”

His heart was definitely settling down now, as if her presence alone was bringing him back to earth. His own hand came up to cover one of hers weakly, and his words were quiet, but she heard them all the same.

“I see you,” he whispered.

She smiled in relief. The sounds of sirens echoed in the distance, wailing down the street.




Chapter Text

 

Sitting vigil at Mulder’s bedside wasn’t an uncommon place for Scully to be. After he’d been admitted, the doctors could find nothing physically wrong with him other than a slight fever and exhaustion. There was definitely evidence of a heart aberration but he seemed to be mostly back to normal. 

She sat next to him while he slept, every so often reaching out to lay her hand across his heart, just to make sure it was still beating.

Finally, his eyes opened again and found hers. She wasn’t sure what he was thinking, or feeling, or even what had happened.

“Hi,” she gasped with relief.

“You again,” he said weakly with a grin. She laughed, having expected some kind of one-liner.

She reached out to hold her hand across his forehead. “How are you feeling?”

“I’m not sure,” he said, looking at her apprehensively. “What exactly... happened?”

“I don’t know,” she said. “We were in the park, and… Mulder, you were right there with me, walking next to me, and suddenly… you just hit the ground. It was like you were having a seizure of some kind.”

He looked confused, but nodded slowly, as if coming to an understanding.

“And… the alleyway…?” He looked at her uneasily, some kind of secret shame painted on his face she didn’t understand.

“What alleyway?”

He closed his eyes in what she could only describe as relief. “Thank God,” he whispered. 

He reached out for her hand and squeezed it searchingly, almost as if he were verifying she was real. “Scully… do you think this was a mistake?” he suddenly asked. “You and me?”

The question took her off guard. “What? Where is this coming from?”

“Please, just answer me.”

“No, Mulder,” she assured him. “I know we’ve been through some rough patches the past few weeks but… no.” She squeezed back. 

He smiled in relief. She looked at him curiously. “What… happened to you?”

He looked thoughtful for a moment. “I was… afraid, Scully,” he said. “Terrified, actually. First for our lives, because I didn’t have my weapon. Then…” he turned and looked away from her. “My body felt so cold, and everything went dark, and then… I thought you were breaking up with me.”

“What?” 

His mouth opened and he looked back at her, figuring it out. “I must have imagined it. It wasn’t you. It was... something else.”

She was quiet for a moment, anticipating his next words.

“It was the monster, Scully,” he said, a familiar spooky glint in his eye. “It had to be.”

She didn’t say anything. She could practically see the gears cranking in his beautiful mind. 

“I was afraid. It was mortal fear, Scully,” he said, a look of understanding coming into his eyes. “Except… I wasn’t afraid for my life. I was afraid for yours.”

Her mind flashed to the moment she herself had thought he was dying, and how the world had felt like it was ending: the chill in her body and the black moon. She didn’t know what to think, what to believe. So she did all she could in the face of her long standing mental battle with herself over Mulder’s far fetched theories and the way they stacked up against the evidence she’d seen with her own eyes: she sighed.

“It must have gotten into my head, somehow, like it gets into all of its victims’ heads, and exploited my fear,” he continued. His eyes locked onto hers. “I felt my heart actually breaking, it… it was killing me.” He closed his eyes, leaning his head back into the pillow, reliving what must have been some kind of personal hell.

He needed rest more than he needed to be theorizing. She reached up to ruffle his hair softly.  “Mulder-”

“You saved me, Scully,” he said earnestly. “You saved my life. If you hadn’t done whatever it was you did…” he looked at her, perhaps imagining the worst. 

She bit her lip, believing him, but having trouble processing it all. She had indeed found him in some state of cardiac distress. If he’d believed his heart was breaking, maybe it had been. 

And maybe it was time to level with him.

“Mulder…” she said, sitting back into her chair, “I think it tried to exploit my fear, as well.”

“What do you mean?”

She sighed. “I felt the same thing you did. My body going cold, and the moon going black.”

He blinked. “What happened?”

She shook her head. “I don’t know Mulder. I thought I was going to lose you. But I didn’t.” 

“You made it go away.”

She nodded, not wanting to admit out loud that maybe this, she could believe. If it was true, she was glad. But she didn’t feel the need to question this theory, to probe and categorize it. She had somehow saved Mulder, and that was what mattered. She filed it away as a rare success: a neat bow she’d tied to wrap up seven years of loose ends and dangling uncertainties.

“You need to rest, Mulder,” she said. She watched him quietly for a few moments, his chest rising up and down. He was okay; they were going to be okay.

“Why didn’t you have your weapon?” she suddenly asked, somewhat alarmed at his irresponsibility.

He scratched his chin. “I, uh… haven’t told you something, Scully.”

“What now?”

“I'm sort of… no longer employed by the FBI.”

She blinked. “They fired you?”

“I quit. Two days ago.”

“You what?” This was completely unexpected. She’d known he’d taken the loss of the X-Files hard, but this seemed a bridge too far. “Why didn’t you say anything?”

He sighed. “I didn’t know how to tell you. It all happened so fast.”

“Mulder, why?”

He looked a bit chagrined, as if he was holding something back. But then out it came. “I heard some guys talking about you at work,” he admitted. “I didn’t like it. And I didn’t say anything to them, but when I got pulled into that meeting, and the directors mentioned they knew what was going on between us, and… I was pissed. I just lost it, Scully.”

“What, uh… what did you hear?” she asked, not sure she wanted to know, and also pretty sure she already knew. “...About me?”

He sat up, took her hand. “It doesn’t matter, Scully. What matters is you were right. And the bureau should have protected you, not made the situation worse.”

“Mulder, I don’t think they knew how bad it was.”

His face fell. “How bad was it?”

She sighed. “I didn’t want to tell you this, but… the other day, after Skinner told us about the tape…”

“Yeah..?” he urged.

“Some guy touched me in the elevator.”

Mulder was expressionless for a full three seconds, then she saw his jaw start to clench in that way that, as much as she hated admitting it, turned her on. “Touched you how?”

“He grabbed my ass, Mulder. Standard fare.” It still made her uncomfortable to think about it, but the events of the evening had brought to her attention the fact that everything could have been much, much worse.

“Who was it?”

“Some guy, it doesn’t matter.”

He looked at her, and she could tell he was trying to restrain his anger. “It does matter, Scully, because I need to make sure I’m kicking the correct ass.”

She laughed at his predictable reaction. “I reported him already, Mulder.” 

“If you tell Skinner, he’ll scrub through the surveillance tape and find the guy himself,” Mulder pointed out.

In fact, that’s exactly what had happened after Scully called Skinner to tell him about the incident. He’d tracked the asshole down with lightning speed.

“According to Skinner this guy has been a running problem. It’s negligence on the bureau’s part. I think this can help you get your job back, Mulder,” she said, trying to get him to refocus.

“Scully, I told a room full of FBI directors to go fuck themselves,” he said, to her great surprise. “I won’t be getting my job back.”

“They’ll have to take into account your state of mind,” she insisted. “Especially since this harrassment was happening right under their noses and they had no idea.”

“Scully…” he began, then paused. “The truth is, I’m not even sure I want my job back.”

She was shocked. “What?”

“I just… I don’t think it’s what I want anymore.”

She eyed him curiously. “What do you want?”

He looked up at her through puffy eyes. He looked so exhausted, so worn down. “I want you,” he said simply. “I want you to know that all I want is you.”

She closed her eyes, letting this in, everything she ever wanted to hear from him. That she was enough, that she could give herself to him fully. It was all she’d wanted to hear since the moment his quest for his lost sister had come to an end. 

There were so many things she wanted to tell him, but one of those things was more important than the rest, and she knew she shouldn’t keep it inside anymore.

“I love you, Mulder,” she told him. And it was just like he’d said: a piece of cake.

He blinked, almost as if he couldn’t believe it, and reached out to touch her face, as if convincing himself she was really here. “I love you, too.”

“I should have told you a long time ago,” she said. “I don’t know why it was so hard.”

“It shouldn’t be hard,” he said. “I want this to be easy for you, Scully. And I want us to be something you’re proud of, not something you’re ashamed of.”

She did feel ashamed, but not of him or of them. She realized that her actions over the past few days had had the unintentional effect of making him feel less than worthy, when that couldn’t be further from the truth. 

“I’m not ashamed of you, Mulder,” she said softly. “I’m not ashamed of us, either. I just… I felt judged. Because everyone else wasn’t seeing the truth. They weren’t seeing the real us.”

He squeezed her hand. “I don’t think anyone will ever see that, besides you and me.”

“I know,” she agreed. “But you told me when we first started that we should shine a light on this. And I made the unilateral decision to keep us in the dark.” 

Her decision had amplified the problem, as far as their coworkers were concerned. She was now realizing the unknown would always be far more exciting, salacious even, than the alternative. Maybe that was what had kept her on the X-Files all these years.

Maybe that was what had kept her next to Mulder all these years.

“It’s not too late, Scully,” he said. “To turn that light back on.”

She nodded and squeezed his hand. She could feel tears brimming inside her eyelids.

“Come here,” he said, scooting over. “I need to put my arms around you.”

“Both of them?” she chuckled, as she crawled into the tiny bed.

She leaned into him, close to his face, and gently stroked the hair from his forehead. He held her in his arms, and those arms were strong and sure.

I want to believe what you and I have is real, and true, and good, he’d told her that very first night, the night their walls fell down. She wished now they would have stayed down.

He’d never wavered from that belief. And she wouldn’t, either.

Her eyes drifted to the window, where she saw an endless sea of stars slowly fading from view as the moon left night behind and welcomed the sun.









Epilogue



Mulder stood in the lobby of the Hoover Building nervously, scanning the room for Scully. He checked his watch again, hoping she’d be able to get away from her classes at Quantico in order to do this with him. 

It had been a few weeks since he’d gotten back on his feet, which was, according to her, ample time to allow the board to cool down. Mulder assumed her role for once, however, skeptical they’d even allow him into the elevator.

Soon enough, he saw her approaching in the way which he’d become accustomed: by completely owning the room. She walked tall, all five-foot-three of her, and had that air about her he loved. The air that said don’t fuck with me.

“Hey stranger,” she grinned as she affixed a “guest” badge to his leather jacket. She placed both hands on his chest and got up onto her tiptoes to give him a kiss, right there in the middle of the lobby. “What’s a nice boy like you doing in a place like this?”

“I hear there’s a pretty good cafeteria,” he said. “Can I buy you a chocolate milk?”

“Maybe later.” She took his arm and they walked towards the elevator.

As they rode up in silence, she leaned into him a bit. “What are you going to say?”

He shrugged. “I thought I’d wing it.”

She chuckled. “You’ve always been good at that.”

They walked down the hallway towards Skinner’s office, and there was definitely staring. Men, women, everyone. They all watched them, curious faces eyeing the two agents who had hidden their affection for each other so skillfully for so many years.

Or maybe they hadn’t.

“Good luck,” Scully whispered, giving him a peck on his cheek. He gave her a wry smile and closed the door behind him as he entered Skinner’s office.

Skinner was the only one in the room, which he wasn’t expecting. Mulder glanced around at the conference table surrounded by empty chairs.

“I take it this is a bad sign?” he asked.

Skinner looked up as if this was just another day on the job for him, another reprimand to hand out. “Sit.”

Mulder sat.

“Sir, if I may--”

“Don’t talk too much, Mulder,” Skinner said, annoyed. “That’s what seems to get you into trouble around here.”

Mulder zipped his lip with his fingers, twisted, threw away the key.

“First of all, as a follow-up to the final case report you and Agent Scully submitted, you’ll be interested to know there were no attacks like the ones you and Scully witnessed in Los Angeles reported in DC on May 18th.”

Mulder nodded. May 18th had been the last full moon. 

“Considering Agent Scully’s sexual harassment complaint and the possible litigation against the bureau for discrimination in regards to your relationship, I was able to convince them to make this whole thing go away if they let you have your job back. The past few weeks will be considered a probation period. You’ll be reinstated Monday.” He fixed him with a glare. “And not on the X-Files.”

Mulder nodded again.

“I went to bat for you, Mulder,” he continued, going back to his work. “You owe me big time.”

“Thank you, I appreciate that, sir. But I didn’t come here to get my job back.”

Skinner stopped, looked up. “Excuse me?”

“I’m here about Scully. About the complaint.”

Skinner eyed him. “It’s being taken care of.”

“I see, I see,” Mulder said thoughtfully. He placed his elbows on his knees and leaned forward, tapping his index fingers against his lips. “Yeah, I’m gonna need that guy’s name.”

Skinner furrowed his brow. “Why can’t you get it from Scully?”

Mulder raised an eyebrow.

“Ah. Right,” Skinner conceded. He tried to hide a smile. “Is this really the only reason you came all the way down here?”

“I just want the name, sir.”

Skinner rooted around in his desk for something. “You know I can’t give you that information, Mulder, so you’re wasting your time.” He pulled out a notepad and began to write something down with a pen. “But I do think they can use you back in the BAU if you’re interested.” He ripped the paper out. “I think you should reconsider.”

“I’ve been thinking about what you said, actually,” Mulder interjected.

“What did I say?” Skinner asked.

“A few months back. After… Samantha. You told me moving on would be good for me.” He nodded thoughtfully, gratefully. “I think you might be right.”

Skinner regarded him. “It’s good to hear that, Mulder. Might I ask what you plan on doing next?”

Mulder shrugged. “I don’t know. The possibilities are endless, I suppose.”

Skinner smiled, as much as Skinner ever smiled, stood up and extended his hand. “Well, it’s been an honor, Agent Mulder.”

Mulder took his old boss’s hand and shook it warmly. “Likewise.”

Skinner handed him the slip of paper and sat back down. Mulder looked down, and on the piece of paper was a man’s name.

“Keep it off-campus, I’m done cleaning up after you,” Skinner said to his desk, not looking up.

Mulder grinned, pocketed the note. “Thank you, sir.” He headed towards the door.

“Oh, and Mulder?” Skinner called as the younger man opened the door.

“Yeah?”

“Put some weight behind it.”



***



The basement still looked the same, but it felt different. None of his things had been touched and everything was in its particular place. He was beginning to wonder if anything could get another soul to come down here willingly.

There wasn’t a whole lot he needed, so he walked around the room collecting his personal belongings, placing them in the cardboard box on his desk: his nameplate. His globe. His I Want to Believe poster. A photograph of him and Scully in the field. A few books and pictures, and his basketball. He laughed as he picked up the plastic wind-up teeth that Scully had given him once on a road assignment “because [he] just wouldn’t shut up.

There was a gentle knock at the door. “Well?” Scully asked as she walked inside. She leaned against the door and crossed her arms. “Are you still the FBI’s most unwanted?”

He chuckled. “Nope. They’re the ones who are unwanted this time.”

She nodded approvingly. “No interest?”

“Not at this time,” he grinned.

“I thought you might turn him down,” she said. He didn’t bother asking why she thought that. She was smarter than anyone in the building.

“I just think… I’m ready, Scully. To move on.”

She looked at him, her eyes soft with understanding. “As long as you’re sure.”

He nodded. He was sure. She crossed the room, put her arms around him. He laid his head on top of hers.

“Hey, Scully,” he murmured into her hair. ‘I’ve been meaning to ask you something. Out there in the forest, when you thought I was dying, and you said you were afraid, how did you beat it? How did you stop it, while I couldn’t?”

She shook her head. “I don’t know, Mulder, I just… I just couldn’t let it happen, so I pushed through, I fought the fear. I had to.”

“And I let the fear take over,” he said grimly. “Because I believed it.”

She buried her cheek against the smooth leather of his jacket. “I couldn’t afford to believe it, Mulder. I refused to believe that I was going to lose you.”

“I guess I didn’t ‘cowboy up’ like you did,” he chuckled. “But that’s my Scully. Only you could stare down death and win through sheer determination.”

He felt her sniff a laugh against his chest.

“I actually think you stopped it,” he told her. “Skinner told me there were no more attacks on the last full moon. I think you and your trademark Scully rationalism stopped an actual monster for good.”

He could feel her nodding against him. “I hope so, Mulder,” she agreed. “I hope you’re right. In fact, I’m counting on it this time.”

The phone rang just then, and out of pure habit he leaned over and hit the speakerphone button.

“Mulder.”

“Agent Fox Mulder?” came a voice.

“Speaking.”

“My name is Billy Miles. I don’t know if you remember me.”

Mulder looked over to Scully. “Oregon, seven years ago. You had multiple abduction experiences. I'm here with Agent Scully.”

Scully looked concerned. “Billy, are you all right?”

“Yeah. This may seem weird, me calling like this, but, um, I don't know where else to turn,” Billy said.

Mulder frowned and looked at Scully. “I’m afraid the X-Files have been closed, Billy.”

“It’s just… there’s been some kind of UFO crash. And people are disappearing again. I just needed someone, anyone, that I could talk to about this stuff.”

He and Scully shared a look of helplessness, that there were going to be calls in their future they simply could not answer. 

Mulder thought for a moment, then gave Billy Miles a phone number. “These guys don’t have the resources we used to have, but I promise they’ll listen, and I promise they’ll believe you, Billy.”

He hung up the phone and Scully looked questioningly at him. “Have you volunteered the Lone Gunmen as the unofficial future of the X-Files, Mulder?"

“They’re a good place for him to start, don’t you think?”

She raised an eyebrow. “I guess if we have to find someone spookier than you are, they would be the way to go.”

He grinned at her, and they stood in their office for a few moments, enjoying the quiet solidarity they’d always shared inside these walls. He wondered if there would ever be another team down here doing quite what they did.

He lifted the framed picture of Samantha off his desk, looked at it for a beat, and placed it in the box, closing the lid. He was embarking upon yet another part of his life, but he now knew what the sections were: before the X-Files. During the X-Files. And after.

Looking at Scully, he knew for sure: it was time for the after.

“You ready to go?” she asked him.

“Yeah. I am.”

He took her by the hand, pulled her in close, and kissed her: one final good morning kiss in their office.

“So… what does this mean, then?” she asked as she looked at him, eyes full of happiness. “Where do we go from here?”

He held her close, breathing her in. Her heart beat softly against his. His hand dropped down to her abdomen, holding it against the slight swell, and she covered his hand with her own as they shared a secret smile.

“It doesn’t matter,” he said, looking at her, her eyes brighter than stars. “As long as we’re together, we have nowhere to go but up.”






the end