Work Header

Coming Home

Work Text:

Coming Home
Rated NC-17
By Suzanne Feld


“Scully, I need you.” He knew how those words would tug my heartstrings and I can never resist them. “Please come home. Just let me hold you tonight. Tomorrow we’ll decide what else happens from here.” I sighed as his baritone voice caressed my ear. “This is as close to begging as I ever get, you know.”

“Shit,” I said in a low voice.

“I’ll take that as a yes. Can you get a ride or catch a cab, or do you need me to come get you?”

“How, Mulder? You trashed my car!”


“I guess Skinner can drop me off as easily there as anywhere else.” Oh, hell. I really didn’t want to go running back to him after all the crap he’d put me through on this case but, on the other hand, with knowing I’d saved his life by moments I really did need to be with him. “All right, I’ll see you in a couple of hours.”

I hung up my cell and dropped it in my coat pocket with another frustrated sigh. I knew damn well that I should have told him no, gone to Sorrows as I’d planned and slept in the physician’s ready room there like I had last night. But truth be told, I wanted one more night with him; over the past six years I’d gotten used to sleeping next to him.

Until this whole mess had dropped into our laps we’d been fairly happy; there were the usual cohabitation spats and occasional sleeping on the couch but nothing that could have broken us apart like this might. Could still, I reminded myself as I headed back to the emergency ward to see how the woman that Skinner and I had rescued, Cheryl Cunningham, was doing. A lot depended on Mulder at this point; I was honestly wondering if we would make it through this last upheaval as a couple.

God, all those years of yearning and denying ourselves, then almost an equal number of loving each other openly despite the dangerous situation, and now to be split apart because he wanted to play cop again with me as his sidekick. It wasn’t going to happen. I was no longer an agent nor did I want to be; I loved what I did now in a way that I had never loved fieldwork, although I did sometimes miss pathology when my patients screamed or kicked me.

I found Skinner in the emergency waiting room when I was ready to go. “How is she?” he asked, rising to his feet and gathering up his coat from the seat next to him.
“She’ll be fine, believe it or not, once all the drugs are out of her system,” I reported. Then, “Walter, I hate to impose, but could you drop me at home?”

His brows went up behind the glasses. “I, ah, thought you were going to stay the night at Our Lady of Sorrows.”

I had told Skinner that after I’d put Mulder in a cab and sent him home a couple of hours ago. “He talked me out of it.”

He shook his balding head, following me out of the small local hospital that had been closest to the mad doctor’s compound. “Dana…”

“I know, I know. But we deserve one more chance, Walter. I can’t just walk away without one final attempt.”

It was his turn to sigh as he helped me up into the Expedition. “Are you happy?”
It was a loaded question. “Mostly, yes,” I answered honestly as he got in the driver’s side. “Or at least until this case came up, I was. Although I think it might have awakened Mulder from his… hibernation, I guess you’d call it. And now he’s awake and hungry for more, I’m guessing.”

“So where do you go from here?” he asked as he pulled out of the parking lot.
“For now, home,” I said, and gave directions to our remote house. I pretended not to see the raised brows or rather surprised look when I got out to open and close the gate, or the look he gave me when the splash of headlights showed Mulder standing on the front porch waiting for us; I knew he’d been watching the gate sensor. He was standing out in the cold wearing nothing but jeans and a t-shirt, rubbing his arms and hopping from foot to foot.

“He does need you, Scully, but I’m not so sure he’s good for you,” Skinner said as he pulled up before the porch. “If you ever decide that, ah, he’s not what you want anymore, you give me a call, all right?”

I looked at him with surprise. I’d known that Walter liked me in more than a platonic way for the years we were with the Bureau, even though neither of us acknowledged it (even after that stupid movie premiered), but I had no idea he still thought of me that way. On top of that I felt like an old married lady despite the fact that Mulder and I had never dared make it official. I leaned over and kissed his cheek, then cupped it briefly with one gloved hand. “Walter, you’re better than I deserve,” I said in all honestly, meeting his dark eyes. Leaving it at that, I got out of the big SUV and trudged around the front of it to the house.

I turned to watch the red taillights recede down the long, winding driveway, then faced Mulder from the bottom of the steps. “All right, I’m home: now what?” I said tiredly.

“Why don’t you come in; I made us some tea and I can run you a bath if you want,” he suggested, standing with his hands in the pockets of his jeans and bouncing on the balls of his large, bare feet. When I didn’t answer he said, “Scully?”

I was staring at the white car parked where I had normally left mine. “What in the hell is that?”

“I stopped at a rental place on the way home. Figured you’d need it to get to the hospital tomorrow.”

Jesus, this man drove me absolutely batshit sometimes. Hares off on his own, solves the case, nearly gets killed, then thinks to replace my car… at least temporarily. “Thanks,” I said shortly, climbing the stairs but avoiding the hand he put out towards me. I did let him hold the door and take my coat once we were inside; when Mulder became a gentleman I knew I was in trouble.

However, before I could avoid him again he had enfolded me in his strong arms, pulling me against his broad, hard chest and holding me tightly. His warm breath stirred the top of my hair. He didn’t say anything, and I slid my arms around his narrow waist to hold him in equal silence. We didn’t speak, just stood there holding each other for a time. I inhaled the comforting smell of him, the Polo aftershave he’d begun to use again now the beard was gone as well as the musky, familiar scent of his skin. No matter where we had lived, he had been my home these past six years.

Finally he spoke, his voice gravelly near my ear, “You hungry? I could make some soup or, if you don’t mind waiting a little longer, there’s frozen pizza I could toss in the oven.”

“No, I had something at the hospital,” I said. It had been no more than a cup of coffee and a low-fat scone a few hours ago, but I really wasn't hungry. Stepping back, I looked up at his worried face as we dropped our arms from around each other. “Mulder…” He looked down at me expectantly, but I wasn’t sure what I wanted to say and so chickened out. “That cup of tea sounds really good right about now.”

He turned, pointing to the coffee table in front of the couch where I saw that two large, dark brown ceramic mugs steamed into the cooler air of the living room. Mulder had bought those at a local craft fair a few years back, claiming they’d be our only coffee or tea mugs from then on. I hadn’t seen them again until tonight; God only knew where he’d dug them up from. He followed me over to the couch and, when we sat, curled an arm around my shoulders and brought me close against him so that we touched from shoulder to hip to knee.

Other than the mugs and my bone-deep exhaustion, this could have been any night after I came home from a long shift at the hospital, if I didn’t look at his bruised face and bandaged hand. I leaned my head back on top of his arm and mumbled, “Don’t know how long I’ll be awake, Mulder.”

“Want me to run you a bath?” he murmured huskily, tightening his arm comfortingly around me.

That was often a prelude to lovemaking but I just didn’t feel up to it tonight. “I would, but I’m afraid that’s all it’ll be,” I warned, not moving. God, it felt so good to just sit here and feel his hard body close against mine, the warmth of his skin against the back of my neck through my hair. I had come so close to losing him tonight, plus not knowing what tomorrow would bring… I enjoyed the moment while I had it. “I don’t think I’m up for much else.”

He squeezed me gently but firmly for a moment before sliding his arm out from behind my neck and getting up. “I meant it when I said I just wanted to hold you tonight; not that I’d stop you if you jumped my bones,” he said with a rather gentle leer then turned away. “You stay put and drink your tea, and I’ll call you when the bath is ready.”

Jesus, he must really be worried, I thought as I sat up and reached for a mug, listening to his footsteps ascend the stairs. The scent of my favorite Earl Grey wafted up to my nose and I sniffed deeply, though I wondered if I wanted to be drinking regular tea this late at night. But then I decided that, as tired as I was, a little more caffeine was not going to keep me up.

I took a sip, wrinkled my nose, and hesitantly tasted the tea again. It had an odd metallic aftertaste, and I lifted the mug even with my eyes and studied it. It appeared to be hand-thrown ceramic and as I had once taken a pottery class in high school I knew the process and wondered if it had, perhaps, not been fired or glazed properly or something. Whatever, it had leeched a bad taste into the tea and I wasn’t going to drink any more.

Poor Mulder, I thought with a slight grin. Man couldn’t win for losing, some days.
I dumped both mugs of tea in the sink and set them on top of the fridge behind the cookie jar, which was—of course—an alien standing in front of a cone-shaped spaceship. Just as I walked back into the living room I heard Mulder’s voice from above and I dragged myself up the stairs, wishing not for the first time that we’d chosen a ranch style instead of this two-story wooden farmhouse.

When I entered the bathroom I could do nothing but stare in tired wonder. In addition to the old claw-footed bathtub full of lilac-scented bubbles, he had lit a half-dozen or so candles around the room and cracked the window open just enough for a breath of fresh air to enter the room.

Exactly how I liked it.

Mulder was standing by the sink still wearing the same jeans he’d had on all day but now with a plaid shirt rolled to the elbows on top of the t-shirt. I went to him and began unbuttoning his shirt, glancing up to see that he had both brows raised. “Well, Scully, you know I’m here to please but you could at least put a dollar in my g-string first,” he cracked, putting his hands lightly, undemandingly on my hips.
“I’d like you to join me in my bath,” I said, gazing up at him. “Unless, of course, you don’t want to.”

“Never mind the dollar,” he said, reciprocating by reaching for the bottom of my v-neck black sweater. “Use me and abuse me anytime, baby.”

Of course, if he ever were serious I’d think he was sick.

A short time later we were cuddled together in the tub, Mulder behind me as I leaned back between his open legs. I had clipped my hair on top of my head and rested it back against his shoulder, feeling his hard chest rising and falling with his breathing against my back. His hands were behaving for the time being, fingers laced together over my waist beneath the water; we’d removed his bandages for the time being as the water would only do his wounds good. I had the bath puff in one hand, idly dribbling hot water over our shoulders. Mulder had used oil instead of bubble bath and the water was like wet silk against my skin, smooth and sleek. A faint cool breeze blew in from the window behind us; I loved the contrast of the steaming water and the cold air.

We didn’t speak, and he didn’t move although I could feel his heavy penis twitching in the small of my back; he wasn’t hard yet, but was getting there. Between that and the pervasive heat and silky water of the bath I was re-thinking how tired I was; before all this shit had begun to tear us apart it had been a day or so since we’d made love—and that a morning quickie before I’d gone to the hospital for Christian’s first treatment—and I missed it. It was nearly an every night thing with us, partly, I thought, because of all the years we’d longed for each other but hadn’t acted on it. Since we’d gone on the run six years ago we’d been nearly insatiable for each other, and without discussing it I knew one of the reasons we stayed in good shape was our sex life. We both knew that this wasn’t your everyday average love affair; this was something that had gently simmered on the back burner for years and was to be treated like the delicacy it was.

At least, until the FBI had had to get involved in our lives again.

Was I really going to leave Mulder over this? I wondered. Or just until Christian’s treatments were finished? If the latter, would he even want me back once it was done? I heaved a sigh and dropped the netted bath puff into the water between my legs before resting my arms on the cool sides of the tub.

“A bar of gold-pressed latinum for your thoughts,” Mulder murmured close to my ear, reaching beneath my arm and snagging the puff before it sank much below the surface. Feeling the play of his strong muscles against my body was ratcheting my libido up more and more despite my resistance. I felt like I was giving into him if we made love tonight, and yet I didn’t want to deny myself if it might be the last time.

I huffed wordlessly and he laughed, his chest rumbling and flexing against my back as he lifted the puff out of the water and squeezed it so that rivulets dripped into the tub. I had stopped watching “Deep Space 9” because of the frequency of those three words and he knew it due to my complaints every time he put it on. It didn’t help that I’d gotten him the first two seasons of the show on DVD for last Christmas, since I knew it was one of his favorites. Sometimes I wondered if I really was a masochist and just refused to admit it.

“Seriously, Scully, what’s on your mind? You know I don’t ask unless I really want to know, so spill it.” He began to rub the puff gently up and down the top of my left thigh below the water, his other arm still curled around my waist.

“What do you think?” I murmured in return. “Christian, us, the FBI, etcetera etcetera.”

“Your patient before me?” He said softly, but I heard the hurt in his voice and I knew why. When we’d gone on the run in 2002 we had agreed to never let anything come between or before us—our relationship—again. It was mildly exasperating to be reminded of this, but I did see where he was going with it.

“You put this case before us,” I pointed out. “You’re the one who said we couldn’t be together, Mulder. I don’t know that we can still stick with that agreement. It worked up until now, but it’s clear that you were much more concerned with that case than you were with what was going on in my life.”

The puff stilled on my bent knee. “Your work, your patient, yes, but not you,” he said, and I could hear the anger thrumming right beneath the surface. “You still are, and always will be, the most important thing in my life. It was your putting a patient before me that got me upset.”

Oh, brother. I didn’t want this to turn into a fight and made the decision to table this discussion until another time. Right now I had other things on my mind despite my earlier disclaimer, partly due to what was stiffened up against my back. I covered his arm at my waist with one of mine and squeezed, careful since I knew that was the injured hand. “Mulder… let’s let this go for the moment,” I said softly, reaching up behind me to stroke the back of his head briefly. “For tonight, let’s just enjoy the fact that you didn’t end up hacked to bits and dumped at the base of a cliff, shall we?”

As I’d hoped, that image made him chuff. “I’d forgotten how good you are at saving my ass,” he admitted, dropping the bath puff and placing one large hand on my knee instead. “All right, we’ll save it for another time.”

“As for right now, I have no plans to waste that lovely hard-on,” I said, rubbing back against him. “You’ve made me forget how tired I was.”

His voice became husky, a tone I only heard from him when he was aroused and never failed to cause the same reaction in me. Pavlov’s dogs indeed. “I was hoping you’d say that,” he murmured close to my ear, both hands moving to cup my breasts that were just above the water level. His long, sensitive fingers flicked my nipples and they tightened even more, already taut from the cool air. “Pull the plug.”

I knew what he had in mind, as this was nothing new with us. More than once we’d sloshed enough water out of this tub onto the floor to have to worry about the wood beneath the tile. I reached down with my toes and curled them around the chain that held the plug, giving it a good yank so that it came loose—I’d had a lot of practice. “Done.”

“Then hang on.”

His hands went to my ass and lifted me almost effortlessly, and as he did so I reached down between my legs to position him between my legs, which I spread as much as I could. But he gave me no time to gather them beneath me before lowering me down onto his cock so that I ended up sitting on him with my legs spread out before me. “Ohhh Jesus,” I gasped as my full weight came down on him, his thick hardness fully sheathed inside and filling me. I had my arms on the sides of the tub again, but due to the slipperiness of the bottom from the bath oil I wasn’t able to get any traction for my feet. “I can’t move, Mulder.”

He chuckled, sliding down a little so that I leaned back. “Neither can I, but Christ Almighty this feels incredible,” he breathed. “Let’s just sit like this until the water drains and we can get up safely without breaking our necks.”

“God, I don’t know if I can sit still that long with you inside me,” I said, wiggling my ass around as much as I could, to our accompanying groans. Water sloshed against the sides of the tub, but didn’t splash out. He thrust up into me shallowly and I let out a yelp. It felt like his cock was going to hit the back of my throat; I’d swear he’d never been this deep inside me before. Though it wasn’t uncomfortable, it was frustrating to not be able to move much and the water was draining far too slowly for me. Holding the sides of the tub I levered myself into sitting up fully instead of slightly reclined, causing him to moan softly, and carefully brought my feet up between his spread legs for additional stability.

His hands slid beneath my bottom again and he lifted me. Using mostly my arms for leverage I helped and together we managed to raise and lower me on him for a time; it was hard work for both of us but deliciously satisfying. Hell, if you’ve got to work out this is the way to do it, I thought hazily through the pleasure shooting through my body with every slow, careful stroke.

But finally I breathed, “Let’s try something else, Mulder.”

“Yeah, this is almost more work than it’s worth,” he agreed, sounding similarly breathless. This time when he lifted me he didn’t stop and I was able to stand, both of us moaning as he slid out of me.

But out of the warm water I began to shiver, realizing that with the window open even a crack the bathroom was pretty damn cold. As I crossed my arms over my chest Mulder heaved himself up behind me with a splash and wrapped his arms around me, his warm body covering my back. His lips slathered along my shoulder even as he pressed his hard, wet cock against my back. “Much as I’d like to make it to the bed, I know I’m not going to,” he rasped into my ear. “I want you now, Scully—step out.”

Much as I hated to leave his warmth I did as asked, getting carefully out of the tub with both of his hands holding me steady. I moved a step or so away on the thick bathmat as he got out, then turned me and again enfolded me in his arms. I reached behind him and pushed the window down, then relaxed into his embrace for a moment, resting my head against his shoulder even as he pushed his cock impatiently against my belly.

He tugged a towel down from the shower curtain rod above the tub, wrapping it around my shoulders and rubbing me briskly yet gently. When I went to reach for it to reciprocate, however, he tossed it away.

“Turn around—down—“ he urged, moving me with his hands to the position he wanted. Almost before I knew it I was on my hands and knees on the bathmat and he was behind me, guiding his heavy cock through my folds and into my body, filling me deliciously. We both cried out as he slid into me, my hips jerking uncontrollably as he laid himself over my back. I had been looking down at the dark blue bathmat as he entered me but when I lifted my head and looked up, I was treated to the sight of me on my hands and knees in the full-length mirror on the back of the bathroom door in the flickering candlelight, which was more than bright enough to see clearly. The view was head-on and full frontal, my breasts swaying freely, with Mulder draped across my back and meeting my gaze over the top of my head. My eyes were huge and almost unnaturally blue, full red lips open, and I had a look of utter sensual pleasure on my face. His expression mirrored mine, causing a jolt in my belly.

I swear, my breath stopped. In all the years we’d been together I had never seen us in a mirror like this and the sight absolutely took my breath away. No matter what I thought of my own looks, the two of us were stunningly beautiful, our slick naked bodies moving together as we watched ourselves in the mirror.

“Now you see how I see you,” he rasped from behind me, beginning to thrust with his hips and causing bolts of sheer delight to radiate out from where he was inside me. He was braced on his arms, which were just behind mine, and the difference in our heights was apparent since he was able to pump into me and lean down to kiss me at the same time with his body draping mine. I turned my head to meet his lips, bowing my back so he had better access to both ends of me. When the kiss ended I ducked my head again but then felt his hands in my hair, the clip being removed so that it tumbled down around my face and shoulders. He leaned back, taking a handful near the crown and gently tugged my head back so that I was looking in the mirror again. “Watch us,” he half-growled, letting go and moving his hands to my hips, pulling me back against him with every stroke. “Look at how incredibly sexy we are together, Scully. God, this is better than any porn movie I’ve ever seen.”

I raised my brows at him as our eyes again met in the mirror, a jolt thrumming through my belly as they did so, and then achingly sweet pleasure spread throughout my body at the sight. He was up on his knees behind me now; the angle I was viewing from showed him just from the waist up. But the way his body was moving, the strong muscles of his broad chest and bulging arms moving, coupled with the sensations he was causing in me, fired me like he’d stuck my finger in a light socket. “It feels as good as it looks,” I managed to reply, wishing I could think coherently enough to make a smart remark about his porn viewing habits, which had pretty much stopped after we’d gotten together. But at the moment I was so consumed with the sights, sounds, and scents of us having sex that I could barely remember my name, never mind be witty.

“Hell yeah,” he sighed, leaning back even more and looking straight down, glancing up at me from beneath his brows to make sure I saw where he was looking. “Wish you could see this, it’s fucking incredible.”

I could only moan in reply, feeling myself teetering on the edge of orgasm, our eyes locked in the mirror. He must have seen where I was and leaned over, reaching down around between my legs; he found and rubbed my clit and it sent me over. I cried out as the tingling spread through me, my heart pounding, grinding myself back against him. My eyes fell closed and I reveled in the feel of his large, hard cock pumping in and out of me as my inner muscles pulsed and contracted, pushing my ass back against him as I fell down to my elbows; I might have completely collapsed if he hadn’t been holding my hips steady.

I was surprised when he pulled out of me and let out a half-moan half-mumbled, “What are you doing?”

“Up, Scully, up, I can’t stay like that,” he said and then I realized that he hadn’t been on the bathmat, only me. His knees must have been raw from the cold tile floor, I thought dazedly, but managed to get to my feet with his help.

He turned my back against the wall next to the door and hefted me up with his hands under my ass, sliding back inside my moist passage almost before I knew what he was doing. I had a passing thought about his injured hand but decided not to worry about it; it clearly wasn’t bothering him and I’d look at it later. He kissed me madly, briefly, while I wrapped my legs around his lean hips and arms around his broad, muscular shoulders, clinging to him as he began to pump into me again. “God, Mulder!” I exclaimed at the sudden action, tearing my mouth away from his, unable to move and just hanging on for the ride.

“Yes?” he said in a querying, slightly breathless voice and once I got it, I laughed just as breathlessly. Then words were forgotten as I rested the side of my face against his, able to do nothing more than hang on for the ride and cry out in time to his stokes as he fucked me against the wall for what seemed like forever but I knew would be over far too fast. Mulder’s always had excellent stamina and been able to pace himself well, and this time was no exception. I felt myself rising towards release again, his body rubbing hard against my clit, which was exposed by how wide my legs were spread open. “Come—with—me—Scully?” he groaned staccato as his strokes got faster and shallower, which I knew meant he was getting close.

“Yeah,” I managed to gasp out then turned my head to latch onto his strong, corded neck, wanting to taste him, licking and sucking while gasping for breath. He cried out when I did so, then lifted my ass and slammed me down on him during an upstroke and I cried out his name as the pleasure shattered through me, consuming me in the tingling pulsating while I was fully surrounded by Mulder—the feel of his powerful body against mine, his musky, salty taste, his rich clean smell.

“Oh, Jesus, Scully,” he moaned, thrusting into me short and uneven as I felt the tremors shuddering through his hard, taut body. “Love you, love you, love you,” he chanted raggedly, his voice trailing off as his body slowed and then stilled. We panted together for a short time before I loosened my legs and he pulled out and lowered me down, both of us groaning as his softening cock left me. Once my feet touched the floor he enfolded me in his arms, wrapping them around my shoulders and holding me close to his hard, muscular body.

We stood that way for a while, just holding each other, until our breathing calmed and I started to feel chilled. I began to fidget, shifting my weight from foot to foot, and he finally gave a deep sigh that lifted my head from his chest. “I didn’t want this moment to end,” he said, reluctantly letting go of me with a brief kiss brushed over my lips.

I got our robes from where he’d thrown them over the closed toilet lid and handed his over. Normally I would have said something like, “Don’t worry, there will be more times,” but I honestly wasn’t sure if there would. I then noticed that we’d broken the wound on his hand open and I bandaged it again, having supplies at the ready. When I was finished he reached for me again, still naked and holding the robe, but instead I laid a hand on his lightly furred chest and gently pushed him out of the bathroom, tilting my head wordlessly in the direction of the toilet. He gave a half-smile and went, swinging his rather ratty old blue bathrobe over his shoulders and closing the door behind himself.

If I stayed, I thought, I was going to have to buy him a new one.

Once he was gone I let myself crumple to sit on the closed toilet lid, putting my forehead in my hands with elbows on knees. The thought that that might have been our last lovemaking was enough to cause a lump to grow in my throat that I could barely force back. But I couldn’t let it influence my decision, I told myself almost desperately; I had to be rational about the situation. I couldn’t go through this again, watch him get immersed in a case to the point where he was paying my life no attention.

I got control of my emotions and, heaving a sigh, stood, and went around to blow out all the candles before leaving the room. I didn’t bother turning on a light as there was just enough of a silvery glow from the full moon outside the frosted window for me to see my way around the familiar room.

When I walked out into the bedroom I found Mulder sitting on the edge of our big old bed, one of his finds at an estate sale not long after we’d moved here. All the half-dozen or so pillows were stacked up against the headboard, while the quilt and top sheet were neatly turned back. One small lamp was on, just enough to illuminate the room with a soft golden glow. On each bedside table sat a steaming dark brown ceramic mug scenting the air with mint, and I almost smacked my forehead with my hand. “Figured we could have one last cup of that non-caffeinated peppermint tea you like, and talk for a bit,” he said hopefully. “Unless you’re too tired.”

I paused, thinking fast. He was sitting with the robe hanging open and as I watched I saw his heavy cock, which had been lying against his left thigh, begin to twitch. He had incredible refraction time… and there was my answer for everything I wanted to avoid tonight, both the talk and the tea.

Mulder was about to get lucky for the second time tonight, and after I exhausted him we’d pass out and let tomorrow worry about everything else. If this was going to be our last time I was going to make it even more memorable, and what the hell—who needed sleep? I’d been going without much for days, and this was the best reason of all to go without.

The darkness wasn’t here tonight and I wouldn’t let it be, I thought with determination as I walked towards the bed, shedding my robe, watching his expressive eyes light up as I did so. Once in his arms I could forget everything but the man who loved me as much as I loved him despite all the troubles in our lives, and let the rest of the world take care of itself for a time.

Until tomorrow. For now, I was home.