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Salen

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The air in the room was stale, an unfamiliar musk; an eerie silence settled amongst midday traffic cruising down Hegel Place. For want of a gurgling water filter, he was sure that was it. The smell from months of unlived space. The couch wasn’t cradling his body, it was firm where it usually yielded: gluteal, lumbar, trapezius. Not the first time he’d sat on the couch in the last month since being spit out of the mouth of hell, he expected a warmer reception from his home and possessions of a decade.

But everything was off. He didn’t feel at home here and even the couch felt as though it wasn’t meant for his body anymore. He’d come here for respite. Longing for the environment that saw him through so much of his life on the X-Files. Late night case cracking with the Gunmen, probably more break-ins than he even knew about, post case wind downs with a fiery redhead--sparring wits and words. Eventually tongues and sweat-soaked limbs.

Ten years earlier saw him coming in, galloping heart, nerves manifesting as perspiration on his temples and a file-shaped flat edge visible on his crisp white shirt. He’d sat in the newly shaped mold of leather, reading his sister’s life story through the eyes of the FBI scattered across his table.

Unsolved.

Unfinished.

Unemployed.

He’d founded an entire department of the Federal Bureau of Investigation with the sole purpose of finding his sister and came up with liver imbibing elastic men and government conspiracies. Alien abductions and an elaborately messy love story. Curious, he skimmed his hand lightly over the armrest, comparing cushion shape to the memorized curve of a tiny redhead, the corner of his lip twitching with a mixture of pain and delight. She’d longed for him and his cushions now had a Scully shaped indentation. He’d doubted that he’d ever relate to an inanimate object more. Uncomfortable, he did a walk through; kitchen to bedroom and back. He felt too tall, like the space shrunk. The home that once contained his possessions and big dreams felt too small now that he had little left.

Retrieving a duffel bag from the bedroom closet, he tossed in a couple books he’d been working through last year, the remaining contents of his sock and underwear drawer, some running shorts and shoes. He slung the strap over his shoulder, grabbed his basketball from the living room and headed for the door. Before leaving, he paused for another glance. His past on full display before him, he closed the door and locked it.

“Georgetown,” he said, settling in the cab's back seat, bag in his lap. Breathing a sigh of resignation, loosening his tie as they veered north, away from old ghosts.

 >< >< ><

He found her at the end of her (their) bed folding receiving blankets. She cast a niggling, helpless look at the duffel he’d discarded by the door while he ghosted a kiss along her cheekbone and caressed her belly. She looked shiftily at it as he collapsed on the bed, shoes, suit and all. He patted the bed next to him, “leave it.” There was a glint in his eye that contrasted his demeanor—a sadness etched into the lines of his forehead, resignation in the lilt of his shoulders.

“You packed a bag. Handing out half days at the Hoover?” She could cast a line like a competitive angler. His Scully, always fishing. They really were a matched set. He patted, rubbed the duvet suggestively.

“Came home for a quickie,” he shot back. “Climb on up here and make an honest man out of me.”

The last blanket folded, she moved the stack to her dresser, laughing as she went. “There’s nothing quick about climbing into bed these days, Mulder. In fact, if I get up there now we may have to eat dinner in here.”

“I’m willing to take that chance,” he said, taking her hand as she sat and spun into a supine position beside him. She noticed his shoulders square once she was settled.

 There was an elephant in the room and Scully thought about making a self-deprecating joke to ease him into the topic but she counted 3 different diversion tactics he’d employ to avoid it.

“Well you don’t look anything like an elephant…”

“How dare you call our kid names before he can call you one back…”

“Interestingly enough, if you trace the etymology of that phrase….”

 She bet on patience and pulled an arm under her head, rolled on her side toward him, mirroring their bodies, and waited.

 A few moments later she whispered, “worst quickie ever” and the full grin reward she received was enough to tamp down the initial concern.

His left hand came to rest on the top of the swell, just below her breast, his fingers tracing circles into the cotton blend that rested there. “Have you thought of what you’ll do after this one is born? Will you go back to work on the X-Files?”

Point patience.

“I thought about it.” Their eyes met. “It was different while you were gone.” The hand holding his head left to stroke through her hair, his expression tender. “I wanted to stay as long as I could, but planned to teach after the birth. Babies need routine. I’m not sure I remember how to do that.” He chuckled at that. “Once you came back though,” she shrugged off the rest of the sentence, a shy pink tint coloring her cheeks.

“Picket fence, huh?” The question was audibly light but metaphorically heavy.

She stroked his cheek. “Too much upkeep.” Her voice was thick, purposeful. “More like mutual residence and abduction-free employment.”

He nodded toward the duffel bag, released a weary sigh. “It’s your lucky day then, Scully.” She pulled his head toward hers, lip to his forehead then rested her own there. This skin to skin contact, their port. “I’m not there yet, but I will be,” he said answering the question she hadn’t asked. “I just wanted to find the truth.”

“Which truth, Mulder?” He sighed and she shook her head. “You found your sister. Flukemen. Aliens. You know who’s behind it all.”

“There will always be truths that I want to uncover, Scully. The FBI just took away my all access pass.”

“There will always be other truths,” her tone was breathy, suggestive and she found the fleck of brown in his hazel-green eyes. “I can get you a different kind of pass—” and his firm lips covered hers in acceptance.

Clothing scattered, a testament to the room's usual tidiness. He was behind her, inside her. Their fingers entwined, massaging far too tender breasts. Fingers peaked her nipples, with their other hands they swirled and scissored her clit while he moved, slow and steadily through her walls contracting and releasing him.

Mulder, Scully; teamwork, personified.

“This was fun,” he whispered into the wisps of hair curling damp behind her ear. “Same time tomorrow?” Her breathing was regulating, oxygenating her brain, aiding its processes. She squeezed their hands together and turned, his softening length leaving a trail of crisp moisture along her upper thigh.

Tracing a line from brow to chin, she pressed a kiss to his lips. “Once I take my maternity leave, we could make it a standing appointment.” She smoothed her tongue along his lower lip, coercing it into her mouth and sucking, a throaty moan escaping from the back of his throat. He threaded their hands above them, straddled her just below the daily expanding swell, kissed her deeply.

“Are you ready though?” The words formed around tongues and teeth and sighs. “To walk away?” 

She tasted the roof of his mouth, grazed along his teeth, breathed him in and brought him to meet her eyes and asked, “Are you?”

>< >< ><

Scully closed the car door with an eye roll accompanied by a sigh, shifting and settling into the passenger seat with effort. Mulder started the car, holding up both hands in surrender.

“I didn’t mean to imply anything untoward,” Mulder defended. “It just seemed too much to be mere coincidence.” Scully gestured at the road, shaking her head in deference.

“You haven’t been off the X-Files for two days and you’ve already managed to ‘suggest’” she emphasized with air quotes, “that our Lamaze instructor is a part of an underground KGB organization and that they’re running an child kidnapping ring.”

He put the car in drive, shaking his head. “She didn’t hear me,” he promised as they pulled out of the church parking lot. “And I’d stand by my observations even if she had. Madam Ivanov’s bizarre vibe aside, no way they need to get that detailed in your history to teach you how to breathe during labor.” Stopping at a red light he shot her a winning, if apologetic smile and was relieved to hear her huff in amusement. “She didn’t hear me,” he said again--a little less sure this time.

“Everyone else did.” She assured him. “Half of them are dropping the class and the other half think we’re both nuts.” Amusement laced in her gentle ribbing.

“I’ll apologize next week.” Reaching over he brought her hand up, kissing her knuckles.

“Remind me not to take you to my next OB appointment,” she mused. “They wanted to know how the last 3 generations of Scully women died, if my mother nursed and for how long, and my plans for feeding and childcare…” Jaw dropped, he looked up from the road and met an amused grin, her blue eyes sparkling with mirth.

"You're not serious?" Her mercy came as a quiet giggle that faded rather abruptly.

"Do you ever think you'll stop looking for them?" There's a hesitance to her question, a hidden fear buried beneath the weight of it. "The X-Files…"

Stopping the car in the open spot outside their building, he put it in park but didn’t move. The idle of the engine filling the pregnant pause, marking and assuaging the tense silence all at once.

“The simplest answer is, no. Probably ever.” The words were measured, the hand still wrapped around hers a steady, constant anchor. “I doubt Doggett’s ability to be as scrupulous and unbiased as the job demands, that’s all.” He moved their hands to her stomach, a silent acknowledgment of her concern. “I think if you’re truthful, you won’t stop either. Our lives have been intertwined with the X-Files so long, I wouldn’t be surprised if some of the answers are in us.” 

>< >< ><

Leaving Scully with Agent Harrison, Mulder entered the hallway just in time to see Doggett turn a corner. “Agent Doggett,” he called, taking a few large paces after him.

“Agent Mulder?” Doggett asked, coming back around the corner, the two men stopping a few feet apart. 

“Just Mulder,” he corrected in spite of the sour taste it left on his tongue. “You saved my life, Agent Doggett. I just wanted to say thank you.” 

Doggett shook his head, a battle warring behind his carefully constructed visage. “If you hadn’t shown up...I didn’t know what I was dealing with until it was too late.” He offered a handshake, an understanding. Mulder took it but shook his head.

“You’ll be on your guard.” He nodded, “for next time.” Doggett looked up at this and their eyes locked for a minute. Over the last couple weeks Doggett had had a trial by fire, literally in some cases. He’d seen things he couldn’t hope to explain and he hadn’t given The X-Files the Jeffrey Spender treatment, with haphazard disinterest. He’d stayed and was willing to go it alone and Mulder found this reassuring and commendable. He gave Doggett a half-hearted smile and a slow nod. “Consultant.”

“Excuse me?”

Mulder released his hand and turned back to where Scully was leaving Agent Harrison’s room. “Instead of Agent you can call me Consultant.” As Scully approached he wrapped an arm around her shoulders, ushering her in the opposite direction, calling after him. “Official X-Files Consultant. Till next time, Agent Doggett.”

“Consultant?” Scully asked, walking through the door he’d opened for her. “New job?”

“Something like that.”