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One Lonely Night

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Three soft raps on Scully’s door broke the silence in her living room and pulled her out of the trance she had fallen into. She unfolded herself from the couch and set her wine glass down on the coffee table before shuffling quietly to the front door.  Standing on tip-toes to give a brief glance into the peep-hole, she blindly groped for the chain lock. A few short twists of her wrist later and Mulder was sliding in through the entrance before the door was even fully open.

 

“Mulder,” she said.

 

“Don’t look so worried,” Mulder said. “I’m not here to ruin your weekend.” He tapped a manila folder against his palm before offering the file to Scully.  “I thought you might want this.”

 

Scully slipped her index finger inside the flap of the folder and drew it back slightly.  “You came all this way just to give me the Hayes autopsy photos?”

 

“They were sent down just after you left.”

 

“Mulder, what part of ‘I don’t want to even look at a computer until Monday’ didn’t you understand when I left you at the office?”

 

“I’ll get out of your hair.”  Mulder glanced around the room and Scully followed his gaze to the glass of wine on the table and the tray of cheese and crackers.

 

Scully took in Mulder’s appearance. He’d clearly gone home from work judging by the jeans and leather jacket.  He seemed nervous for some reason.  When his eyes weren’t darting around the room, they were on the floor. He hadn’t actually looked her in the eye once.

 

“You’re not in my hair,” Scully said. “Come in.”  She turned to head to the kitchen to get another glass, assuming he would want to join her in the bottle she’d opened not twenty minutes ago.

 

“Maybe you’d rather be alone?”

 

Scully stopped, waiting a beat before she turned around again.  He hadn’t followed her like she thought he might have.  He hadn’t shed his jacket.  He hadn’t moved an inch from the door.

 

“No,” she said, surprised by the tightness in her chest his question caused.  “I’d rather not be alone.”  She cut her eyes to the couch and then back to Mulder.  “Sit.”

 

Scully turned quickly, not allowing Mulder to protest or question her further.  Senses heightened slightly, she heard the rasp of fabric sliding against fabric as he removed his coat.  She pulled a glass out of the cabinet and then stood quietly in the kitchen for just a few moments.

 

An indescribable shift had occurred in Scully’s perception.  It seemed to have happened gradually, over time, but it was also new.  She remembered times when Mulder had shown up at her place, unannounced, and she was uncomfortable with his presence.  Somewhere along the line, discomfort became resigned tolerance, which eventually became easy acceptance.  Now, her feelings hovered over a dangerous line of want and need. There had been times in the last few months that she had nearly extended an invitation to him to join her for dinner, but her tongue had gone tied every occasion.  To her personal chagrin, it was intensely difficult to just tell Mulder that she wanted to request the pleasure of his company.

 

Now, here he was, probably making himself comfortable on her couch, uninvited, but not unwanted.  And she was cowardly hiding in her kitchen lest he discover how happy she was to see him.  After all, she had a professional, working relationship to protect.  The success and continuation of their partnership was paramount, and took precedence over foolish desires.

 

Squaring her shoulders and resetting her cool, aloof, Agent Scully demeanor, she breezed into the living area, calm and casual. She handed Mulder the empty wine glass as she sat next to him and then reached for the bottle.

 

“I got it,” Mulder said, touching the hand she extended.  His fingers glided softly over hers and then wrapped themselves around the neck of the bottle. If she looked at Mulder, she knew she would crumble.  Instead, she moved her hand down and picked up her own glass, settling back into the cushions as Mulder poured a drink for himself.

 

Scully had her glass to her mouth, the wine just sliding past her lips when Mulder leaned towards her and touched the rim of his glass to the side of hers.  “Cheers,” he said, pulling away and taking a short sip.  He eased back and sighed as he relaxed against the cushions.

 

“So, what’s the occasion?” Mulder asked.

 

“I didn’t know I needed one.”

 

“You don’t.  Just wondered.”  Mulder scratched an itch on his bicep for a moment and Scully surreptitiously enjoyed the way his muscles pulled at the sleeve of his t-shirt.  Suddenly he bent forward and picked up one of the crackers from the plate on the coffee table.  Cautiously, he sniffed at the smear of cheese in the center.

 

“Goat cheese,” Scully said.

 

“Of course it’s goat cheese,” Mulder said. “Couple of slices of cheddar might offend your sophisticated palate.”

 

“Mulder, your idea of cheese would offend anyone’s palate.  Especially when it’s sprayable.”

 

“Don’t knock the Cheez-Whiz ‘til you’ve tried it, Scully.”

 

“Never.”

 

Mulder finally took a tentative bite of the cracker and then popped the rest into his mouth.  He nodded in her direction and then took another.  “It’s good,” he said, wiping his hand on his jeans and then slouching back against the couch again to match her position.

 

They sat in silence, but the silence only served to make Scully more aware of Mulder.  She could feel the heat radiating off of him.  His cologne, though faded from a day’s wear, wafted over her. When he ran his hand over his jaw, she could hear the scratch of his five o’ clock shadow against his palm. She had to break the silence or she feared Mulder would suddenly hear the quickened beating of her heart, which thumped painfully against her chest.

 

“Tell me something I don’t know about you, Mulder.”

 

“Like what?”

 

“I don’t know, anything.”

 

“Well that might be tough.  I don’t know what you don’t know.”

 

“I’m sure there are a lot of things.”

 

“Is this a reciprocal game, Scully?” Mulder slid his shoulder closer to her and turned his head towards her.  “Will I be getting tit for tat here?”

 

Scully kept her head straight, but couldn’t help the sidelong glance in his direction, acknowledging his double entendre. She wanted to flirt with him so badly. She couldn’t stop herself. “Show me yours first, Mulder, and then I’ll show you mine.”

 

Mulder’s head dipped so low that his lips very nearly brushed her shoulder before he straightened.  He took a pull from his wine glass and Scully did the same, hoping the rush of heat she felt wasn’t evident on her face.

 

“I thought of something,” he said.

 

“That was quick.”

 

“My first word was yellow.”

 

Scully was startled.  It wasn’t what she expected.  It was sweet.  She looked at him, unable to suppress the smile that tugged at her lips.  “Yellow?”

 

“I take it by that unimpressed tone your first word was hypothalamus then?”

 

“I don’t think I know my first word, actually.”

 

“Play fair, Scully.”

 

“Or else?”

 

“I’ll take my toys and go home.”

 

“No you won’t.”  Scully smiled a little as she shook her head and sipped her wine. “But, fair is fair. I slept with a stuffed bunny every night until I was thirteen.”

 

“What was the bunny’s name?”

 

“Bunny.”

 

Mulder chuckled.  “Must’ve been hell at the sleepovers.”

 

“I wasn’t invited to any sleepovers.”

 

“Because of Bunny?”

 

“No, because we moved too often for me to be acquainted enough with anyone to be invited to a sleepover.”

 

“Aw, Scully…” Mulder’s voice was so quiet it made Scully’s ears tingle.  She felt him roll his head towards her and without thinking, she did the same. Their noses were only millimeters apart. His eyes were dark and sad.

 

“What?” she asked, embarrassed by the soft, husky whisper of her voice.

 

“Samantha had sleepovers all the time. Either having one or going to one. She would’ve invited you.”

 

Scully had the urge to reach out and touch Mulder’s face, to run her fingers over his cheek and cup his jaw, but she didn’t. She stared at his mouth for a few beats simply because it was much easier than looking into his eyes, but gazing at the swollen curve of his lower lip only made her want to kiss him. She turned her head away.

 

“I don’t think I’m any worse for wear because of it,” she said.  “And I also think it’s your turn.”

 

“I have a suggestion.”

 

“What’s that?”

 

“Instead of trying to think of things to say, why don’t we ask each other something we’ve always wanted to know? I’ll even let you go first.”

 

“What a gentleman.”

 

“Anything at all, Scully.  All bets off.  The door is open.”

 

“If I agree, the door is expected to swing both ways, isn’t it?”

 

“Tit for tat.”

 

Scully angled her head towards him and raised her brow. Mulder gave her a teasing smile. “So to speak,” he said.

 

“What if I only agree to one question?” she asked.

 

“Then I guess we both better make it a good one.”

 

Scully drained her glass and pushed herself up to grab the bottle.  Mulder swiftly intervened, swiping the bottle from the table and putting his own glass down. He pulled her glass toward him by covering her hand, long fingers wrapping over hers as he poured. She felt a little sluggish when he released her hand and slowly eased herself down against the back of the couch. Mulder returned the bottle to the table, picked up his glass, and then leaned back next to Scully, albeit not as relaxed as she was.

 

After a long silence and watching the hypnotic swirl of wine as Scully rotated her wrist, she finally worked up the nerve to ask her question.  “What was the nature of your relationship with Agent Fowley?” she asked.

 

Mulder raised his brows and released a breath through pursed lips.  “Bringing out the big guns there, aren’t you?”

 

“I…nevermind.”

 

“Hey, a deal’s a deal.” 

 

Scully shook her head, heat rising into her cheeks. It was a stupid, dangerous thing to ask. It was too personal and she shouldn’t have said anything.  “No, Mulder, I’m sorry, I don’t know why I asked.”

 

“Maybe because you want to know.”

 

“It’s…it’s none of my business. I just…”

 

“We met when I was still working with the VCS,” he said, ignoring her sudden protests.  “Right at the tail end.  We had…I’d call it a mutual interest in the unexplainable.  I found the x-files, and for a time, she was involved in the investigations. Not so much officially, but more like a consultant.  No, actually more like a sounding board.  She didn’t think it was a waste of time, as most, scratch that, all the other agents in our division thought.  She was very supportive.”

 

Mulder paused, took a sip of his wine and then put his glass on the table, hunching forward to rest his forearms on his thighs. “We were engaged within three months and two months after that, she was gone.”

 

“Gone?  Gone where?  Why?”

 

“We may have had mutual interests and methods of investigation, but from there, our goals diverged.” Mulder bounced his fingers together softly and then split his hands wide apart.  “She had ambition that I lacked.  She wanted to move up the ladder and I was content to swing from the bottom rung. So she accepted an assignment overseas and it was supposed to be temporary.  As time went on, it became obvious that we had dissolved. No dramatic scenes, no tearful break-up scene, just…a loss of contact.”

 

“Must’ve made it easier to pick up where you left off. Unrequited.  No bad blood.”

 

Mulder turned his head and looked back at Scully quizzically. “Is that what you think, Scully? Is that what you really think?”

 

“I know what I would be thinking, if I were her.”

 

“You’re nothing like her, Scully. Not at all.”

 

“I see.”

 

“No, I don’t think you do.”

 

Mulder’s fingers brushed the underside of Scully’s chin briefly and she tipped her head away from him. She didn’t want to look at him, too angry at the tears that glossed her vision.  “Scully,” Mulder whispered, rubbing his knuckles along her jaw. She gritted her teeth and waited for the emotion to pass before she lifted her eyes to him defiantly. He dropped his hand to his lap.

 

“She was never my partner, Scully. I didn’t even know the meaning of the word until you came along.  I told you that before and I meant it.”

 

Scully averted her eyes again and looked down at her hands, nervously rubbing the sides of her glass with her index fingers.

 

“Did that answer your question?” Mulder asked.

 

“I think what I really wanted to know is why you stopped trusting me.”

 

“I never stopped trusting you. Never.  I disagreed with you.”

 

Scully shook her head.  “Mulder, we disagree all the time.”

 

“About theories and cases and unidentifiable metallic objects left at crime scenes.  Correct me if I’m wrong, but this was personal.”

 

“Your turn,” Scully said, deflecting from any further conversation about Diana Fowley.  She didn’t realize how badly the wound was still festering when she’d brought it up.  Mostly, she was afraid that were they to continue down this path, she would have to admit to things she wasn’t ready to share.  Mulder was right, it was very personal.

 

Mulder rolled his head back, putting some distance between himself and Scully.  The tension that Scully had felt building deflated a little and then she remembered that Mulder had the right to ask her anything he wanted and her stomach churned in fear and anticipation.  She had no idea what he would hit her with.

 

“You know,” Mulder started, “today at the office, all day, I couldn’t help but notice how…melancholy you seemed.”

 

Scully frowned.  “I what?”

 

“You just…quietly went about the day like you wanted to be invisible or something.  Your eyes were sad.  I didn’t want to press. I mean, I wanted to press, but I didn’t think I’d get very far.  So my question is, Scully, is everything okay?”

 

Of all the things Mulder may have asked, Scully was not prepared for something so simple and yet so difficult to answer. It would be unacceptable to give him her patented “I’m fine” response.  Not when he’d know she was lying.  Not when she’d agreed to open herself just a little.

 

“Is that why you came here tonight?” Scully asked, staring down into her glass.

 

“Maybe.”

 

Scully tried not to sigh, taking in a deep breath and letting it out very carefully through her nose.  She could deny Mulder’s intuition altogether or she could invent an excuse to pacify his concern or she could simply tell the truth. She could lay herself bare to Mulder, expose her feelings, allow herself the courage to be just a little vulnerable, but first she would have to find that courage.  She took a long drink of her wine to stall.

 

“Scully?”

 

Scully closed her eyes, imagining that she was alone in her living room.  She tuned Mulder out and focused on the soft tick of the clock across the room, counting the seconds as they went by.  At forty-two, she decided she could answer him.

 

“Do you ever go to bed at night acutely aware of how alone you are?” Scully whispered.  “Do you ever wake up thinking that it’s been so long since you’ve shared a bed with someone that you can’t remember what it was like?  Have you ever just thought, I really need to be touched today or I really need to be held tonight, and then realized you have no way to make that happen?  And then you wonder if you’ll spend the rest of your life without being touched or held and so…maybe it makes you a little melancholy the next morning.”

 

Scully was aware she was distancing herself from her answer, but it was the only way she could respond.  Her eyes remained closed.  She didn’t want to see Mulder’s face.  She felt like hiding her own under her hands, but the glass she held made it impossible.

 

“Why can’t you make it happen?”

 

“You’re really asking me why?”

 

“Scully, you are a beautiful, intelligent, accomplished woman.  All you would have to do is snap your fingers and you could have anyone you want.”

 

“No, Mulder.”  Scully shook her head.  “I learned my lesson about talking to strangers a few years ago.  And maybe what I want isn’t just ‘anyone.’”

 

“But, then there is someone?”

 

“I think I’ve answered enough of your questions.”

 

“How is this someone ever supposed to know what you really want if, for example, he tells you he loves you and you answer ‘oh brother,’ instead of ‘I love you too’?”

 

“Mulder…”

 

“How would he know you want him to touch you if you don’t ask, or if you pull away when he tries?”

 

“I can’t.”

 

“It’s so easy,” Mulder said, and Scully felt him take her wine glass, removing it out of her grip and replacing it with the curl of his fingers through hers.  He leaned away from her and she heard him set her glass on the table. She felt him move closer to her then and she brought her hand up to his face as he rested against her, his weight pressing into her shoulder.  Mulder dropped his mouth down against the back of her hand and rubbed her knuckles, speaking so quietly she had to tilt her head to hear him.

 

“I’m just as afraid as you are,” he said. “Maybe even more. If I lose you, Scully, I lose everything.”

 

“And I don’t?”

 

Mulder lowered their joined hands to Scully’s lap and bent his head down so that the tip of his nose brushed against her jaw as he moved his mouth towards her ear.  “I want to touch you,” he breathed.  “I want to hold you.”

 

“God.”  Scully felt like her heart might explode if it beat any faster.

 

“I need to know.  I need you to ask me.”

 

“Please,” was the only word Scully could manage before blindly stretching her arm out to wrap around Mulder’s neck and pull him closer.  At the same time, she disentangled their fingers to slide her other hand around his waist. She became overwhelmed by the sensation of being so completely encompassed within Mulder’s arms that it took her some time to realize that Mulder had slid off the couch and onto his knees before her and that she was perched at the edge of the couch with her thighs gripping Mulder’s hips as tightly as he gripped her in his embrace. Her face was hidden in the juncture between Mulder’s neck and shoulder, buried under the curve of her own arm around Mulder’s neck.

 

Scully felt feverish.  There was an ache in her chest and between her thighs and in her toes and in her fingers.  She clutched at Mulder’s back, wanting to draw him closer, even though it was physically impossible.  She was already crushed so tightly against him it was hard to breathe.

 

“Scully,” Mulder said, easing his hold on her just a little.

 

“Touch me,” Scully murmured, her lips moving against the carotid artery pulsating in his throat.  “Please, touch me.”

 

Hours later, lying in her bed with Mulder spooned against her back, Scully stared drowsily at a swatch of moonlight shimmering on her sheets.  Mulder continuously slid his fingers down over her forearm, over her wrist, across the tops of her fingers and back again.  After awhile, she finally flexed her fingers as his sloped over her knuckles and trapped them between her own, stilling him.

 

“Can I ask you a question?” Scully whispered.

 

“Do I still get tit for tat?” Mulder replied, shaking his hand free from Scully’s grasp to place it on her hip and then move across her abdomen, up towards her chest.

 

Scully chuckled softly and smacked Mulder’s hand away before she laced their fingers again and hugged his arm against her. She sighed and rested her cheek against his knuckles.

 

“What do you want to know?” Mulder asked.

 

“Did you come over here for this?”

 

“I plead the fifth.”

 

“Mulder…”

 

“I’ll ask you a question, and then maybe it will answer yours.”

 

“That seems unlikely, but go ahead.”

 

“When did you know?” he asked, pressing his mouth to the back of her bare shoulder before skimming tiny kisses up to her neck.

 

“When did I know what?”

 

“That I was the somebody who wasn’t just anybody.”

 

“I don’t know, Mulder, is something like that clearly definable?”

 

“It is for me.”

 

Scully turned her head back and slid her eyes towards Mulder.  “It is?”

 

“Getting separated from you while trying to outrun black helicopters in that cornfield in Texas.  I don’t know why it happened to be that moment, but when I heard you call my name and I turned around, I just…wanted you.  With your sweaty, windblown hair and your face full of shock and confusion and your unbuttoned jacket and your lightly sunburned cheeks. I wanted you.”

 

“Mulder,” Scully whispered, squirming slightly in his arms.  It wasn’t so much what he said, but the way his voice had dropped and taken on a gravelly whisper that made her heart pound and her thighs ache uncomfortably.

 

“I wanted to kiss you,” he continued. “So badly.  I wanted…other things too, but the first thing I thought of when I saw you was how badly I wanted to kiss you.”

 

Mulder nuzzled his face against Scully’s back. His warm breath made her shiver and she tightened her hold on his arm while pressing her backside into the cradle of his hips.  She was ready for him again, but he didn’t seem to be in a hurry to get there. She moved her leg back and ran the side of her foot against his calf in encouragement, and in an offering.

 

“I’d thought about it before, of course,” he said. “Casually.  As sort of a ‘what would happen if?’ kind of thing, nothing…lurid. I’d already known by then that I loved you.  It felt disrespectful to me to think of you in any way other than as a partner. But, after that singular moment, I knew I didn’t just love you, I knew I was in love with you, and when I looked back, I could think of a thousand moments that justified it, even if I was in denial.”

 

Scully was so turned on she was practically panting. She’d felt Mulder’s arousal grow steadily against her as he spoke, but still, he made no effort to quench either of their desires.  She nearly considered rolling away from him and pressing her hips into the mattress just for a little relief, but she didn’t.

 

“So, to answer your question, Scully, every time I’ve seen you, every time I’ve spoken to you, I’ve hoped.   Hoped for you to let me in and hoped we could both stop living in denial.  I truly came over to make sure you were okay.  You didn’t seem yourself today and it worried me. But, that doesn’t mean I didn’t hope, all the same.”

 

Scully couldn’t take anymore of the anticipation. She struggled to turn towards him, but he finally let actions take over for words and pulled his arm free from her clutches to grasp her hip, pulling her back against him. With his hand splayed low on her abdomen, he slid easily inside of her.  Scully sighed contentedly, reaching back to press her fingers into Mulder’s backside, urging him closer, deeper.

 

Mulder moved up on his elbow and leaned over Scully’s shoulder, bending his head to kiss her cheek.  She turned into him, offering her mouth instead and when it became too hard to breathe, they stayed close, lips still touching and catching as they shared heated air.  She nearly bit him in climax.

 

Scully was delirious with pleasure. She had craved this intimacy, both emotionally and physically, with Mulder, for a very long time. Fear and denial had kept her from it, and she knew that insecurities would continue to raise their ugly head at times, but for the moment, the only emotion she could feel was pure bliss.

 

Yesterday, Scully had woken feeling disgruntled with longing.  Today she would open her eyes and know what it would be like to run her fingers through Mulder’s sleep tousled hair.  She had the slightest notion that she might even be lucky enough to be woken by Mulder’s touch and she wondered what it would be like; if his caresses would be sleepy and unhurried or if he would be confidently insistent; if he would try to kiss her awake or if he would be content to let his lips explore her warm, naked body until she roused organically.  She didn’t know if it would be today, but she knew she would soon find out what kind of morning lover Mulder was.  The thought made her smile as she grew more and more lethargic in her sated state. Mulder’s head was pillowed on her shoulder, his lips just grazing the upper swell of her breast. His arm was draped heavily over Scully’s hips and she plucked drowsily at the fine, golden hairs along his forearm.

 

“Mulder?” she whispered.

 

Mulder’s eyelashes brushed her collarbone in feather-light butterfly kisses as his eyes moved under closed lids. “Hm?”

 

“When I was in the hospital,” she murmured, “fighting my cancer.  You came to me one night. I let you think I was asleep, but I wasn’t.  You laid your head by my hand and you were crying.”

 

“Yeah.”

 

“That’s the first time I wanted to ask you to hold me.”

 

Slowly, Mulder raised his head to look at Scully. She moved a hand to his cheek, his late night stubble scratching her palm.  He gazed solemnly at her before tilting his head and pushing his lips against her hand in a soft kiss.

 

“I was so afraid to leave you,” Scully said. “I was afraid of what you would do and how far you would go.  I was afraid you might try to follow me. “

 

Mulder nodded once, very slightly.

 

“When you put your hand over mine, I nearly opened my eyes,” Scully whispered.  “I nearly asked you to please, climb into that small, uncomfortable hospital bed with me and just put your arms around me.”

 

“Why didn’t you?”

 

“It felt selfish of me.  I wanted comfort and you were the one in pain. But…in hindsight, maybe it would’ve helped us both.”

 

“Maybe we should try not to think about what we should or shouldn’t have done before.  Maybe we just think about what we’re going to do now and tomorrow.”

 

“I’d like that.”

 

“Good.”  Mulder lowered his head to Scully’s shoulder again and snuggled against her. “Like in the morning, I’ll let you make me breakfast.”

 

“Oh really?”  Scully smiled softly.  “I was thinking more like in the morning I’d let you buy me breakfast.”

 

“Anything you want, Scully.  Just ask.”

 

“Good night, Mulder.  I’ll see you in the morning.”

 

“Good night, Scully.”

 

The End