There were certain sounds that Scully associated with this new chapter in their lives. The clatter of fingers on a keyboard. The murmur of newscasters from the television in the kitchen. The flute music Stella listened to while she did yoga. And currently, the bump and clatter of her obsessively cleaning their flat.
Scully looked up from her laptop with a smile as Stella entered her line of vision. She wore gray yoga pants with a black tank top, her hair tied back with a red polka-dot bandana. She wiped down their already sparkling countertops, spraying and scrubbing at spots only she could see. Everyday Stella was a neat freak and a bit of a germophobe. Stella during a viral pandemic was next level.
“Nice ass,” Scully called as Stella bent to wipe down the front of one of the cabinets.
Stella shot her an exasperated look, but she turned, leaning over the sink to rinse her cleaning cloth in a way that pressed her breasts together, emphasizing her cleavage beneath the snug-fitting tank top, and it certainly wasn’t accidental.
Scully closed out of the software the university was using for its virtual classroom. She’d been teaching forensics online for a week now, and it had gone relatively smoothly, although she missed the face-to-face interaction with her students. Setting her laptop on the table, she returned her attention to her wife. “Planning to stop cleaning anytime soon?”
Another sharp look from Stella. “I’ll stop when it’s clean.”
Scully knew better than to argue with her. She fought a smile as she remembered the abject horror on Stella’s face after she’d been told that as Detective Chief Superintendent, a position which required little to no field work, she was one of the non-essential Met personnel who would be expected to work from home until the self-isolation period had passed.
In the days since, she had quickly demonstrated why she was not a good candidate to work from home. Unable to go to the office—or the pool—she’d covered the living room table with Met paperwork, file folders and notebooks filled with her ingenious musings. When she wasn’t working, she alternated between cleaning fits, ill-fated yoga sessions that tended to end in a lot of swearing and whiskey drinking, and watching entirely too much BBC news coverage on COVID-19. In short, she was driving Scully crazy.
For her part, Scully had a more pragmatic approach. She’d suffered through many less pleasant quarantine situations than this one during her time on the X Files, and she’d already faced the potential end of the world as she knew it…more than once. She was perfectly content now to teach from her home office, run her own data on the progression of the virus, and spend plenty of time with her wife.
If only she could get Stella to settle.
“I need to check on my mom, and then we should start thinking about dinner,” Scully told her.
“There are steaks in the freezer,” Stella said. “I’ll put them in the sink to thaw.”
“Perfect.” Scully picked up her laptop and opened FaceTime to dial her mom. Maggie’s face appeared on the screen, and Scully felt something deep inside her relax. Probably the hardest part of this mandatory self-isolation was being trapped an ocean away from her mom, who was in a high-risk category due to her age. Thankfully, Maggie had lots of people checking on her.
“Dana, I was just thinking about you,” she said with a smile.
“How are you today, Mom?”
“Oh, I’m just fine. Fox dropped by earlier. He brought me groceries, that sweet man.”
Scully’s heart clenched. Mulder was a sweet man to check on her mom for her, not that she’d ever doubted this about him. They were family, in every way that mattered. She made a mental note to call him in the morning to thank him, and to make sure he was taking care of himself too. “He didn’t come in, did he?”
“No. He left the groceries on the porch and then sat and talked with me for a while through the window.”
Scully smiled. “That was nice of him.”
“He talked a lot about increased UFO sightings, particularly in areas with the highest rate of infection.” Maggie’s eyes widened.
“Mom.” Scully shook her head in exasperation. “It’s not an alien virus. In fact, it originated from bats.”
“Well, he was very convincing, is all I’m saying,” Maggie told her.
“He always is,” Scully agreed. “You’re still feeling fine? No symptoms?”
“I’m as healthy as a seventy-six-year-old woman could expect to be,” Maggie said. “I even went for a walk around the neighborhood earlier, and before you ask, yes, I kept my distance from everyone else.”
“Good,” Scully said, wishing more than anything that she could reach through the screen and give her mom a hug. “Remember, there’s no reason to panic if you do develop symptoms, but it’s extremely important that you get tested right away. Tests are hard to come by in the US, but I know people who can pull strings for you.”
“I know, I know,” Maggie said, waving her hands impatiently. “How are you and Stella?”
“We’re fine,” Scully told her, glancing toward the kitchen, but Stella was nowhere in sight. “Just a bit stir crazy, but who isn’t?”
“I imagine this is very difficult for Stella,” Maggie said with a knowing smile.
Scully grinned. “You got that right.”
“Did I hear my name?” Stella emerged from the hallway, having changed into a white T-shirt and drawstring pants, her hair loose over her shoulders. She sat on the couch beside Scully, waving politely at Maggie.
“Hi, Stella,” Maggie said warmly. “How are you?”
“I’m fine, despite what Dana may be telling you,” she said, giving Scully a look. “And how are you, Maggie?”
“The very same,” Maggie said with a laugh.
Stella joined the conversation for a few minutes before excusing herself to the kitchen to check on the steaks.
“I’ll talk to you again tomorrow, Mom,” Scully said. “And call me anytime, for any reason, no matter the hour. Promise?”
“Will do,” Maggie said. “Good night, Dana. I love you.”
“Love you too, Mom.” She ended the call and closed her laptop. Her gaze caught on the gold band glinting on her left ring finger. She was thankful for it for so many reasons, but right now, it symbolized a vitally important connection between her and Stella. If the worst were to happen and one of them became sick, they would have spousal privileges at the hospital.
Stella was her next of kin, with visitation rights and the power to make any difficult decisions that might need to be made. And Scully would do the same for Stella. Both of them had living wills and all their wishes already clearly defined, but it gave her an extra sense of peace knowing they had each other. She touched the ring with a smile.
“What do you want to do until dinner?” Stella asked, rejoining her on the couch.
“Oh, I’m sure we can think of something.” She smiled as Stella’s fingers traced the seam of Scully’s jeans from her knee slowly up her thigh. They’d always enjoyed an active sex life, but being stuck at home together had made them even more insatiable than usual.
She reached for Stella, sliding one hand into her hair as she pulled her in for a kiss. Stella smelled like lemons and soap, her lips soft and pliant against Scully’s. She stared into the azure depths of Stella’s eyes as her mind flipped all the way back to their first kiss against the side of Stella’s car over twenty years ago. They’d shared a lifetime of kisses since, two continents worth, from London to Maryland to Wyoming. Lately, she’d been wanting to add someplace new to that list.
She pressed her lips against a sensitive spot on Stella’s jaw, feeling the shudder that ran through her. “You still owe me a honeymoon, you know.”
“This isn’t enough for you?” Stella quipped, hands roaming beneath Scully’s shirt. “Endless weeks trapped here at home, fucking each other senseless?”
She shook her head, gasping as Stella sucked at the spot beneath her ear that had always been her undoing. “I’m serious. If we survive this pandemic—”
“If?” Stella interrupted, her tone sharp.
“When,” Scully corrected. “When this is over, we owe it to ourselves to take a real vacation, one that has nothing to do with work or family. Just you and me, celebrating our marriage somewhere special.”
Stella said nothing, instead swirling her tongue over Scully’s neck while she teased her through her jeans. But despite her already-wet panties, Scully persisted, because seduction as a form of distraction was the oldest rule in Stella’s book.
“Paris,” she said, sliding into Stella’s lap. “There are so many museums we could explore, so much art. The Mona Lisa…”
Stella arched her hips so Scully could move against her, friction building through their clothes. “I’ve seen the Mona Lisa.”
“But I haven’t.” She slipped a hand between them, touching Stella through her pants, pleased as Stella’s breath hitched, nipples hardening beneath her T-shirt. “Take me, Stel.”
“Yes,” Stella said throatily.
“Take me to Paris,” she clarified, fingers moving over the soft cotton of Stella’s pants, already damp with her arousal.
“We’ll see,” Stella hedged. She thought vacations were a waste of time and money, an extravagance that could be better indulged in fine liquors, fabrics, and other luxuries right here at home.
Scully was generally inclined to agree with her. They both worked hard and traveled often enough for work or to visit family that a separate vacation just for the two of them sometimes felt like too much effort. But this was different. She’d already lost too many years to unpredictable viruses and quarantine protocols.
She deserved a trip to Paris, at the very least. They both did.
But if sex was Stella’s preferred means of communication at the moment, maybe she could use that to her advantage. Scully bent her head and kissed Stella, hands sliding behind her back to hold her close. Her tongue slid into the welcome heat of Stella’s mouth, tasting whiskey.
“Picture it, Stella,” she murmured against her lips. “Sidewalk cafés, wine and cheese and melt-in-your-mouth pastries on our balcony.”
“Mm,” Stella said noncommittally, hands gripping Scully’s ass.
“Versailles,” Scully whispered against the pulse point on Stella’s neck, watching as goose bumps rose on her skin. “Gardens. Flowers. So many beautiful churches.”
“I hate church,” Stella said breathlessly.
“I’m not asking you to sit through a service with me, just admire the architecture and the stained glass.” She swirled her tongue over Stella’s collarbone, rewarded by a sharp inhale. “Let’s go, when this is over.”
“Dana…” Stella’s body stilled beneath Scully’s. “We don’t know when that will be or what the world will look like.”
“I know that.” She sat up, taking Stella’s chin in her hand to force her to meet her eyes. “I know that better than almost anyone.”
“Then why are you pushing me for a trip right now of all times?” There was a fragility to the fierceness in Stella’s gaze. She was afraid.
Scully softened at the realization. “The world will look different when this is over, and it will be a while before we can go to Paris, but it’s good for morale to have something to look forward to, and I would imagine the economy will need a boost from tourism when all is said and done.”
“I can find you plenty of architecture and stained glass right here in London.” Stella popped the button on Scully’s jeans, pushing down the zipper with a soft metallic hiss.
Scully pressed closer. “Not the point.”
“Agree to disagree?” Stella’s fingers dove down the front of Scully’s underwear.
Her hips rolled against Stella’s hand as a soft whimper escaped her throat, and a wicked idea took hold in her mind. “I’ll play you for it.”
“What?” An adorable wrinkle appeared in Stella’s brow.
Scully sat up straighter, grinning. “Sex games are your specialty, are they not?”
Stella’s eyebrows lifted. “What kind of game?”
“If I can make you come first, we go to Paris. If you make me come first, we stay home.” She dangled the bait, knowing Stella would be unable to refuse, even as she also knew her chances of winning were slim. Stella’s self-control was legendary, after all. But it would be fun to try, and it might even distract Stella from the reality of their situation for a little while.
Sure enough, the flame in Stella’s eyes lit. “You’re on.”