Quis Si - cont

By Trixie

Chapter 8- Lessons in the Fine Art of Breathing

"Joy is love exalted, peace is love in repose;
long-suffering is love enduring; gentleness is love in
society; goodness is love in action; faith is love on the
battlefield; meekness is love in school; and temperance is
love in training." -Dwight L. Moody


Maybe his brain was short-circuiting.

Yes, that was as good an excuse as any for his behavior over
the last few days.

With a sigh, Mulder trudged up the stairs to his new
apartment. He had decided sometime last night to keep it and
settle down here. The fact that it only partly had to do
with his sister's location didn't stop him from seeing all
the many pros involved. Here, he would be close to his
family. Samantha was all the family he really needed, and
together, perhaps they could convince their father to move

All the family he needed. Even if that was true once, it
wasn't any longer. Part of him had always known he'd fall in
love one day. He was just waiting for the right woman. And,
he also knew that when he finally did fall, he would fall
hard and it would be forever.

What he had =not= known, was that the woman he fell in love
with would be a giant, open nerve with so many neurosis she
must have named them individually. He also hadn't planned on
this woman being the custodian of a beautiful, but
incredibly frightened six-year-old little girl he'd also
fallen in love with over the course of the previous night.

Kelly displayed classic signs of trauma. It was painfully
obvious she'd witnessed something her psyche couldn't deal
with, so, with the wisdom of a child, she hadn't. Locked
away, the secret she carried couldn't harm her, but she also
couldn't deal with it and move on. Obviously, not wanting to
inflict further stress on the child, Scully had opted not to
have Kelly see a therapist for longer than the state

While he understood the protective instinct, as a
professional, he couldn't help but wonder if it had done
Kelly more harm than good.

After Scully disappeared into the other room with her sister
last night, Mulder, Samantha and Charlie sat down with Kelly
and played a good old-fashioned game of Candy Land. Samantha
refused to answer him when he asked why she had a copy of
the game handy. By the time round two began, the sisters
Scully had rejoined the festivities, and they broke for cake
and ice cream.

Standoffish was the mildest term he could use to describe
Kelly. She seemed especially wary around men, evidenced by
her reaction to him, and to Charlie. Mulder made mental note
to ask Scully what Kelly's relationship with her father had
been like before the man was sent to prison.

That is, he reasoned, if she even wanted to see him again
after the way he'd mauled her yesterday. Ruefully, he
conceded she was provoking him, but still, he'd completely
lost it. He'd been two minutes away from ravishing her on
top of his sister's kitchen counter. Fox Mulder did not do
things like that. Of course, he'd never wanted anyone as
much as he wanted Dana Scully. Maybe this was just how he
reacted when he really wanted a woman.

The psychology of it escaped him, and for possibly the first
time in his life he didn't feel like analyzing it. He wanted
her, he was in love with her, and despite the fact that it
had all happened in an amazingly short time, he wasn't going
to fight it. Rather, he was going to thank his lucky stars
his search was over, and go about convincing the woman of
his dreams that it was okay to love him back.

Unlocking his door, he stepped inside and locked it behind
him. The smell of something that smelled like chicken
cooking caught his senses and he sniffed the air. Sure
enough, that was chicken. And green peppers, he thought.
Following the delicious smell, he found Scully, wearing an
old apron in his kitchen, bent over his stove. He cleared
his throat and she glanced up at him.

"Hi. You're just in time. This should be done in about five

It was surreal. It wasn't often that the object of one's
affection suddenly appeared in one's kitchen. "What's all
this?" he asked dumbly.

"This is my way of saying thank you for cooking last night,
and I'm so sorry I passed out before you left." A smirk
curved her lips. "I had so hoped to collect another birthday
present from you."

"Is that why you're here? To collect a present?" He was
amused, in spite of himself.

"And, as I said, to say thank you," she murmured primly. "I
have a dazzling variety of creative ways to say thank you."

I bet you do.

Somehow, he managed to keep the words on the inside.
Instead, he slowly walked around the counter until he was
standing behind her, looking down into the pan. Chicken
breasts covered in peppers and other appetizing looking
spices stared back at him. He caught a whiff of Scully and
chicken in the same breath; nothing had ever smelled better.

Turning off the stove with a flick of her wrist, Scully
covered the pan with a lid and turned to face him. He
cleared his throat loudly. "I was uh, I was disappointed I
didn't get to say goodnight."

"Kelly tires me out," she explained softly. "Especially when
I'm not used to her. I admit I've been going soft this past
week without her."

"Very soft," he agreed, his mind in a daze. He kept staring
at her collarbone, the way the very edge peeked out from
beneath the side of her apron.

"You're not very good at following orders, are you?"

"What do you mean?"

Two hands gently pushed against his chest until he was
standing a few feet away from her. Those same hands were
placed on either side of her waist, and she jutted her hips
out. His eyes naturally followed the motion, and when they
did, he finally read the front of her apron. "Kiss the
Cook," it proclaimed, and who was he to argue with such a
brilliant idea?

"It's not a suggestion," she purred. She fucking purred.

As if he didn't have enough reason to follow his orders . .

Dipping his head, he caught her mouth in a kiss that could
almost be considered chaste. That is, if her tongue hadn't
darted out to lick at his lower lip. And if her hand hadn't
zipped up faster than he thought it was humanly possible to
move to clutch at the back of his head. Before he knew what
was happening, she was kissing him with more abandon and
more passion than he thought one person could possess. And
he was kissing her back the same way.

Too fast . . . it was happening way too fast.

With great difficulty, he pulled away from her and brought
the back of his hand to his mouth. His skin felt like it was
burning wherever she had touched him. He was still wearing
the heavy coat designed to do battle with the violent wind

"This is starting to get repetitive, I know, but I think we
should just slow down and maybe eat some of the delicious
smelling food you've made," he managed to get out as he
shrugged out of his coat.

"I don't want to slow down."

Was it his imagination, or had she actually stomped her foot
once, for emphasis?

"What's the big rush, Scully?"

Averting her eyes, she made a big procedure of checking the
chicken and sniffing something that looked like asparagus.
Satisfied that everything was as it should be, she once
again turned her attention his way. Startled, he almost took
a step back. The naked pain and vulnerability he saw in her
eyes took his breath away.

"Jack worked a lot. When he wasn't working, he was,
unbeknownst to me, fucking his mistress. When he came home
at night, he was very tired and, despite my best attempts,
he was not receptive to my sexual advances. After a few
years of this, I stopped trying. I was absorbed in my work;
we both knew I couldn't have children, and I figured, what's
the point? Obviously, I just wasn't desirable to him,

"I always thought it was just him. At least, that's what I
told myself. Apparently I was wrong. If you didn't want me,
all you had to do was say so. I've known a lot of men, and
continuing in this fiction that you're concerned it's too
soon for sex is embarrassing to us both."

"Where the hell do you get off assuming you know what I

He was really getting pissed now. The psychologist in him
was ordering that he back off. She had been through hell and
it was only natural she had a few hang-ups. But he was
damned sick of paying for the mistakes of the man who came
before him. A man who didn't deserve the wife or child he
was gifted by God with. A man who wasn't fit to bow at the
feet of the woman he'd so thoughtlessly used.

"Oh, come on. A man's primary objective is to get into a
woman's pants. That is, if he wants her in the first place."

"You may be good at it, but cynicism does not become you,

"You may be good at it, but don't psycho-analyze me, Fox."

Mulder bit down on his lower lip to keep himself from
snapping at her. Unlike his sister, a few deep, even breaths
calmed him down considerably.

"Tell me, have you looked in the mirror at any point in the
last few years?"

"What the hell are you talking about?" Good, she definitely
looked confused now.

"Either you're blind, or that scumbag of a
soon-to-be-ex-husband of yours did quite a number on you."

He stepped forward and entered her personal space, exiting
the neutral corner he'd retreated to a few minutes before.
Absently brushing a lock of hair back from her face, he
traced the subtle marks and imperfections in her skin. They
only made her more beautiful. They gave her character,
something that couldn't be bought from a doctor with a
scalpel and a facial mold.

Her voice only trembled the slightest bit. "He made me hate
everything about myself. He made me doubt everything about
myself. And just when I think I've gotten over it, just when
I think I'm ready to move on, it all comes crashing down on
me and it's so much, it's so heavy, that I can't breathe."
He wasn't sure if it was admiration or sympathy he felt at
the way her eyes filled with tears she wouldn't allow to

"I'm not him, Scully," he whispered, finally giving into
temptation as he pressed his lips to her forehead. "I think
you're the most desirable woman I've ever seen in my life
and I've wanted you from the moment you opened your mouth
and started lecturing about the pros and cons of government
funded medical research." Every few words, his mouth moved
to press a feather-light kiss over the skin of her face.
Cheeks, nose, eyelids and chin; no surface was left
untouched as he blazed a trail to her mouth.

A thought occurred to him as their lips met and lingered.
Damaging though it may be in the long term, if he were to
walk away from her now, to once again postpone making love
to her, it would devastate her. Ego much, Doc? he thought
disparagingly, even as another part of his psyche recognized
the validity of the argument. I love you, he thought
silently as he tasted the salt of her tears on her lips. I
love your smile, and your integrity, and your strength, and
the way you're finally crying with me, even though I know
you never let anyone see you cry.

Hands in his hair, Scully pulled his head closer to her own,
obliterating whatever paper-thin distance had existed
between them. Resigned to the course of action they were
working towards, his hands crept down her back until they
reached the tie on her apron. Unknotting it quickly, he
pulled his mouth from hers only long enough to slip the
material over her head. Before he could move to kiss her
again, however, he was distracted.

Dana Scully was not wearing a bra.

Not only was she bra-less, but the blouse she was wearing
couldn't even be called a blouse. It was thin and
see-through, clinging to every exceedingly noticeable curve
she had. Hell, there were less risqué garments in the
Victoria's Secret catalogue. His eyes traveled down her body
and once again bugged out when they made note of the
micro-mini skirt, no pantyhose and three inch fuck me black
heels. How the hell had he missed those when he came in?

Whatever the reason, he was acutely aware of them now. When
he brought his gaze to hers, he was momentarily taken aback.
The arousal he'd hoped for was present, certainly, but there
was also another emotion too prevalent to miss; fear. Not
for the first time, Mulder wished for five minutes alone
with her so-called husband. It was unfathomable that this
amazing woman didn't know how desirable she was.

Fingers twitching at his side, he felt like a kid let loose
in a toy store. He didn't know what to play with first,
although he made up his mind quickly. While it wasn't new,
he wanted a few more minutes alone with her mouth. Although
he'd always enjoyed it, Mulder had never seen kissing
someone as an end unto itself. He'd never realized what an
art form it could be. He put everything he had into this

All the passion he felt for her, the love and the lust
combined, he poured into every brush, nip, and pressure of
his lips and tongue. He hoped it would be enough to take her
fear away. If it wasn't, he had other tools in his arsenal.
As far as he was concerned, it was all-out war against her

His hands, tired of remaining idle, slowly began to climb up
her sides until they finally came to rest on her breasts.
Lifting one in each hand, he tested their weight, gently
running his thumbs over the bare flesh available where her
blouse gaped. She pushed herself into his hands at the same
time she took his lower lip between her teeth. Tugging, she
forced a groan from his mouth at the sensation.

"Will you give me anything I want, as a belated birthday

It took his brain a few seconds to process her words. When
it did, his mouth spoke without consulting it. "Of course."

The smile she smiled against his mouth was almost fiendish.
Except that nothing she did could be considered fiendish.
He'd think of it as mischievous, he decided.

"Good." Her left hand crept down his stomach until she was
fully cupping his hardening cock.

He raised both his eyebrows at her and chuckled weakly. "You
can have it, but I'm warning you, I need to retain

That got a genuine laugh from her. "Trust me, if you weren't
retaining possession, I wouldn't want it."

Before his poor, dazed brain could process those words, he
found his pants unzipped and a very speedy Dana Scully on
her knees. Her face was centimeters from his crotch as her
hand pulled his erection out right through the front of his
boxers. Resourceful, he thought in a daze as her lips
touched the very head of his penis.

What was already rock hard got a little harder.

Very gently, she began pressing her lips against him,
covering every inch from root to tip and back again. On the
second pass, her tongue joined the act. By the time she
finally took the head of his cock between her lips, he was
already gripping the counter behind him so tightly he was
amazed the tile wasn't coming up.

The whimper he let out when her lips pursed and sucked with
the most exquisitely perfect amount of pressure was
decidedly unmanly. In his head, it had started out as her
name, but somewhere en route it got completely garbled. He
only had a second to think about it as her lips slid closer
to his hips, that same exquisite pressure never varying.

Soon, he was looking down at her, watching her move back and
forth with the same slow, measured pace she'd set. It was
maddening, but, try as he might, he couldn't ask her to
speed up any more than he could ask her to stop. He should
really ask her to stop. If she didn't, the idea he had
earlier for proving to her how desirable she was would go
right out the window.

Through a fog of desperate arousal, he felt something else
he'd never before felt when a woman was giving him a
blowjob. Normally, it just felt good. Always, even when he
loved the woman he was with, the need to come was first and
foremost on both their minds. This was completely different.
Yes, the need was still there, but it was overruled by
another need. The need for this to =never= end because
nothing, =nothing= had ever felt this fucking good.

That thought, and that thought alone broke through the
sexual haze. The fingers that were already tangled in her
hair pulled gently until his dick slipped out of her mouth.
Hooking his hands under her arms, he pulled her to her feet
and brought his lips down on hers. If kissing her felt that
good, if being inside her mouth felt that good, what would
it be like to actually make love to her? To go down on her?
He'd wanted to know before. Now, he had to know.

"As much of an aphrodisiac as the kitchen seems to be for
us, how 'bout we take this someplace we can lie down?"

"You tired, Mulder?" There was a smirk in her voice. He
loved it.

"Not even a little bit," he assured her as he nibbled his
way down her neck. His fingers began flicking open the
buttons on her top. "We've already learned you're not
wearing a bra. Is there anything else you're not wearing?"

In his mind, he could picture the face she was making as he
flicked his tongue against the collarbone that had been
taunting him earlier. "Why don't you check for yourself?"

What a truly inspired suggestion.

Foregoing the last three buttons, his hands trailed down her
sides until they reached her bare thighs. Sliding beneath
her skirt, he lifted until she was off her feet. She gave a
startled cry, but quickly recovered, her arms supporting her
weight against his shoulders as her legs spread and wrapped
around his waist. His hands continued their journey until he
was holding her naked-as-the-day-she-was-born ass against
his palms.

Stumbling only slightly with the extra weight, they made
their way down the hall, mouths fused together. Once they
reached his bedroom, Mulder let her slowly slide down his
body, muffling his groan in her mouth when her wet curls
brushed over his cock. On her feet, she took a moment and
stepped away from him. Her gaze traveled the room with

"I just moved in. The storage guys sent me all my stuff
yesterday," he said in his own defense. There really was no
excuse. There was barely a path from the door to his bed.
His king sized bed. Maybe Samantha had been right when she
had teased him all those years ago. Maybe he had been
waiting to fall in love his whole life.

"Don't give me that. You told me yourself, you've been
living a vagabond life for the past few years. You'll be
living out of these boxes until you feel secure enough to
unpack them. I give you six months."

He was about to make a crack about which one of them was the
psychologist, when he caught sight of the outline of one of
her nipples through what was quickly becoming his very
favorite blouse. He wanted to see her without faint gray
fabric in the way.

Stepping forward, he brought both his hands to her shirt and
quickly dispensed with the rest of the buttons. She must
have read something in his eyes, because the teasing air
around her dissipated into nothingness. Gently nudging the
material off one arm, he pressed a kiss to the very tip of
her shoulder before sliding it completely off. He repeated
the process with her left shoulder, then tossed the blouse
to the floor at their feet.

Once again filling his hands with her breasts, he brought
his mouth to one and pulled her nipple between his lips. A
moan left her mouth and she quickly began working on his
shirt. Halfway through she must have grown impatient,
because her nipple left his mouth with a pop and she all but
ripped his favorite shirt over his head like a t-shirt. The
second it was clear, she shimmied out of her skirt.

Next, her hands made short work of his belt, pants, and
boxers. They got hung up on his shoes for a moment, but he
toed off his sneakers and stood before her, naked except for
a pair of white socks. She found this incredibly funny and
sat down heavily on his bed, giggling. He advanced toward
her, transfixed by the way her breasts swayed and jiggled
with every sound she made.

He knelt before her on the floor, taking a subservient
position. He would worship her if that was what it took to
give her back a feeling of self-worth. He would worship her
because it was something he'd felt inclined to do the first
time he'd set eyes on her. Pressing a kiss to her kneecap,
his hand found her foot on the floor and pulled her shoe
off. Setting her heel against his thigh, he began to massage
her arch.

She hadn't expected that. It was obvious from the look in
her eyes. But she also enjoyed it, evidenced by the deep
groan of approval she gave him. After a few moments, he
repeated the move with her other foot, then brought each
foot to his mouth in turn, pressing gentle kisses to the

Satisfied that he'd paid her feet back for the suffering
they'd sustained for the shoes, he inched his lips up her
legs until his head was between her thighs. Inhaling deeply,
he took her into his lungs, into his soul as he smoothed his
hands up her legs. He tugged at her hips and draped her legs
over his shoulders until her lower body hung off the edge of
the mattress, suspended by his shoulders and her upper back
on the bed.

Holding her hips securely in his hands, he bent his head to
her and began to gently probe at her with his tongue. At the
first touch, she jerked slightly and he reminded himself
that it had been a long time for her. His thumbs slid
between her folds and gently spread her wide open.
Flattening his tongue against her, he slowly lapped his way
from where she was so wet, to her clit and back again.

Scully let out a whimper similar to the one he'd emitted
earlier and he set up a gentle rhythm, not giving her too
much until she was ready. In truth, he was also enjoying
himself. Her taste was like nothing else and he was
beginning to remember why this was such an intimate act. The
giving and receiving of oral sex was almost more intimate
than the sex act itself.

Although he'd yet to experience actual intercourse with
Scully, if the rest of their experience together held true,
it would put every other encounter he'd ever had to shame.

As her hips settled into a steady rocking motion against his
mouth, he let his tongue slide against her clit with
increasing frequency. The direct stimulation seemed to be
just what she was asking for, and she held herself as still
as possible. Her hands clutched at the bed tightly,
clenching and unclenching as every cell in her body waited,
poised. He laved his tongue over her clit harder than he had
before, firm, even strokes, once, twice, thr-

His name escaped her lips with a cry and her body shuddered
beneath his mouth.

He stayed with her, lapping gently until her body stilled
and her breathing began to return to normal. Before she was
able to pay attention, he helped her push herself back up
onto the bed so that she was lying fully on top. He sat
beside her and shed his socks quickly, molding them into a
ball and tossing them at the open box in the corner. Ten
points! Her hand landed on his back and she ran her fingers
over his skin, tickling and arousing at the same time.

Even more amazing sensations to experience. He moved down
next to her and brought one hand to her hip, and the other
to brush the hair off her face. He kissed the very tip of
her nose and rested his forehead against hers.

"Do you know what that just was?" he asked quietly against
her mouth. Her breath puffed against his lips, but they
weren't kissing.

In her eyes, it was clear that she wanted to tell him
exactly what that just was, in precise medical detail. She
stopped herself, however, probably suspecting that he was
going somewhere with this. "What?" she asked instead, laying
her palm flat against his chest.

"Beautiful." Brushing a feather-light kiss against her lips,
his fingers traced slow, languid circles against her hip.
"And sexy as hell."

Flinging a leg over his hip, Scully pulled herself as close
to him as she could. He felt every inch of her skin press
against his and all he could think was, it's not enough.
Crawling inside her very being wouldn't be enough. Their
lips met with an urgency that hadn't been present before.
His tongue slipped and slid between her lips, only to be
chased back by hers. A thought that threatened the natural
high he was currently on intruded on his brain.

"Scully," he tried, only to find her tongue shoved into his
mouth to silence his protests. It felt so good, he was
tempted to let it be, but he didn't want her to have any
regrets. "Dana," he said more firmly, pushing slightly at
her shoulders.

"What?" She sounded irritated. And with reason, he conceded.
He was irritated with his logical side, always analyzing and

"I don't have anything we can use," he blurted out.
Gesturing to his crotch, he watched as amusement crept over
her face.

"I'd have to disagree with you there," she murmured, taking
him in her hand and stroking slowly.

"You know what I mean," he muttered, torn between bliss and
caution. "I haven't been with anyone in awhile, so I haven't
really kept a fresh stock. There's one in my wallet that
probably expired in the early nineties."

Teasing fled, and a serious expression crossed her face.
"Mulder, I can't get pregnant. And it's been a very long
time since I've been with anyone. My last checkup was three
months ago, and I'm clean." Something that almost looked
like guilt passed over her eyes.

"What?" he asked gently. "Scully, what is it?"

"I've never been with anyone before, without using a

"Not even . . ." He was hesitant to mention Jack under the

"We never had the chance to try for children. When it would
have been an issue, I had already found out about my
inability to conceive." Whatever pain she felt melted from
her face, as she looked him in the eye. A saucy smile spread
across her lips. "I've never gone au natural."

He thought for a moment before he answered. "Neither have
I," he finally replied, a little surprised to realize it was

Chewing on her lower lip for a moment, she seemed to become
emboldened by his declaration. "I want to feel you," she
whispered quietly. "Just you, with nothing between us."

Leaning his forehead against hers, he smiled against her
lips, then kissed them. "Nothing between us," he whispered
in agreement, concurring with her and adding another
dimension to the words. It was both a confirmation and a

Hands learned and caressed over bare skin as mouths met
again and again in a continuous rebuttal to whoever it was
that said kissing was a lost art. It had been found by these
two, and they were unwilling to give it up.

So lost in each other, it was almost a shock to find himself
between her legs, poised to enter her. A breathless moment
passed as she tilted her hips up, and he tilted his down and
with a shared moan, he was inside her. Another mutual
thrust, and he was as deep as he could go.

His fingers tracing the same path they had so much earlier,
he once again marveled at the imperfections that made her so
lovely. He pressed his lips to each section of skin on her
face, each feature that formed the whole of the most
beautiful woman he'd ever seen.

"You're so beautiful," and "this is what people mean when
they talk about making love," and "nothing has ever felt
this good," and "I can never get enough of you," were just a
few of the statements they mutually agreed on that night.

Thrusting his body slowly into hers, Mulder grew used to the
feel of her much faster than he'd thought possible. He
didn't know how, but she seemed to know exactly the pace he
liked best and he knew exactly how she wanted his hands to
move over her skin as their hips rocked against one another.
Her fingers pressed into his back and his mind conjured up a
mental image of how white his skin would look beneath the
pressure of her hands.

He was torn between the safety of burying his face against
the side of her neck, and boldly staring her in the eyes,
showing her all that he felt. Ultimately, she made the
decision for him, her hands abandoning his back and taking
hold of his face. As the speed and angle of their thrusts
changed, she held his gaze, her thumbs stroking his cheeks.
His hands were bracing his weight on either side of her
head, and he envied her the ability to touch him as they

They were both surprisingly quiet the closer they each came
to orgasm. It was as though they both recognized the
importance of the moment, whatever that might be. There was
more happening in the room than two bodies joining together.
It was as though their very souls were tangling, dancing,
and getting acquainted. Mating and merging until there was
no differentiating between them. No longer his and hers, but

When he came, it was the most powerful thing he'd ever felt.
Not physically, although it was certainly up there, but on a
spiritual level. He was deconstructed before her eyes, died
and reborn in the comforting circle of her arms. Through it
all, he watched her eyes as she held his face between her
hands. As he came down from his high, he felt her clench
around him, a shudder passing through her body as she joined
him in this exquisite death.

He watched as tears of wonder spilled out of her eyes.
Somehow, he wasn't at all surprised when her thumbs wiped
tears from his own cheeks. Once more, he lowered his
forehead to hers and felt her breath puff against his lips.
His body rested against hers fully and finally, his hands
held her face the same way she held his.

And for an indeterminable amount of time, they breathed.


Chapter 9- Rachel

"To love for the sake of being loved is human; but to love
for the sake of loving is angelic." -Alphonse De Lamartine


Whoever started selling those "sounds of nature" relaxation
tapes should give it up. They'll never find anything as
soothing as Mulder's heartbeat.

She was lying to his left, almost on top of him. He was
stretched out on his stomach, his left arm curled beneath
his head like a pillow, his right holding the hand of the
arm she'd draped over his back. Her ear rested against his
left shoulder blade and she would be quite happy to never
move from this spot again.

Once they had recovered from their earlier activities,
they'd stumbled into the kitchen, naked, and dished
themselves up a late dinner. Taking the provisions into the
living room, Mulder had produced the fluffiest, most
comfortable afghans she'd ever felt in her life from a box
in the corner. Rather than turning on a lamp, Scully had
opted to light several candles Mulder had situated around
the room. It made things perfect.

Dinner had been finished nearly an hour ago, and since then,
they'd just been lying on his living room floor, silent.
Scully got the impression Mulder was thinking. She wanted to
tell him to stop, but it would sound rather hypocritical,
given the nature of her own thoughts.

Loath though she was to admit it, she couldn't deny it any
longer. This beautiful man had made her fall in love with
him. It posed more of a problem than he would be willing to
admit. It wasn't that she didn't =want= to love him. It was
that she hadn't thought herself =capable= of loving him. Now
that she knew she was, her entire being was in a state of

The conflicting emotions were disturbing. On the one hand,
she was thrilled; absolutely joyful. That thing inside her
that was so broken wasn't irreparable. She could love again.
And through some miraculous twist of fate, she loved someone
who might be able to love her back someday. And he was
worthy. God, he was worthy of so much more than her
fucked-up self.

Before, she didn't have to think about the future. This was
going to be a fun week, nothing more. But now . . .

Jesus, it was just sex, Dana.

Funny, but that excuse she'd tried to use from the moment
tears had started leaking out of her eyes wasn't holding
water any longer.

Fine, it was just =great= sex.

Again, she couldn't quite believe it. It was more than that
and they'd both felt it. There was something in his touch,
in the way he looked at her, in the way he made her feel
when he was near that made him different from anyone else
she'd ever known. While the storm had certainly unsettled
her the first time they had kissed, she now admitted that
the turmoil she felt was more than the terror she had
experienced with a few drops of rain.

It was Mulder. More to the point, it was Mulder with her.

But there was more to think about than simply how she felt.
There was Kelly to take into consideration. Despite the fact
that Mulder was a good man, it wasn't a given that he was
ready for instant fatherhood. And she couldn't risk entering
yet another person into Kelly's life unless that person was
committed to stay for the long haul.

Maybe she was reading him wrong, anyway, and all this
turmoil was for nothing. It was entirely plausible that he
was just trying to save her. It was his nature. He was a
healer, a righter of wrongs. Perhaps once he'd helped her
move past the horror of her life before, he would return to
his nomadic lifestyle. Samantha had told her things about
Fox. Nothing specific, but she had been clear about one
thing: something had happened when he quit the Bureau years
ago and he hadn't been the same since.

That was yet another thing that was gnawing at her. She had
told him so much. More than she had ever told anyone else.
And through it all, he'd listened. While that had been
exactly what she'd needed at the time, it was starting to
worry her now. Did he see her as a patient he needed to
help? Would he be willing to confide in her the same way, or
was he as afraid as she had been to let someone inside?

She wanted him to let her inside. She wanted it more than
she had a right to. No one should want to claim another
person's soul this badly, after only a few days. And
especially given the way she had so steadfastly refused to
even consider something substantial between them.

In the end, she kept coming back to the same hang-up. Though
he obviously cared, she did not know to what extent. And
until she was sure of how Mulder saw her, what he was
willing to give her, she wouldn't allow herself to become
overly invested.

It's too late for that. It's been too late since the moment
you let down your guard and fell asleep beside him.

She ignored the voice that whispered that. It didn't matter.
She would make herself remain detached if necessary. And she
would make her own indifference true if she had to.

Oh please, please, please don't let me have to.

"Did Samantha tell you why I haven't lived in one place for
almost four years?"

Hope blossomed and spread through her. Play it cool, Scully,
she ordered herself, the same way she had so long ago during
her first field assignment with the Bureau. It's not like he
read your mind or anything. It's just a coincidence.

"No. She only mentioned how much she missed you."

His sigh rumbled through him and she felt it against his
back. "I haven't told anyone about this. All I told Samantha
was that a case went bad and because of me, of something I
wasn't able to do, a child died. But I didn't . . . I
couldn't explain more. I didn't even know how. It's taken me
nearly four years to get myself to a place where I don't
heap blame and guilt upon my sorry ass every single day."

It wasn't until now, when she could no longer see his eyes,
that she realized how much they expressed. Windows to the
soul, indeed. Satisfying herself with rubbing her cheek
against his back, she released his hand and began tracing
soothing circles over his skin. Trying to offer whatever
comfort she could.

"I'd been with the VCU for nearly three years," he began.
His voice was calm; too calm. It frightened her a little.
Not for herself, but for him. "We were called in on a
kidnapping. A girl went missing from her backyard during a
party. No trace evidence, no fingerprints, no ransom note,
nothing. The local PD were at their wits end and they called
us in. The profilers." He almost laughed. "I had a nickname
at the Bureau--"

"Spooky," she said, amazed she hadn't put two and two
together before then. "Spooky Mulder; Jesus I can't believe
I just fucked Spooky Mulder."

This time he did laugh, and it was genuine. "I see my
reputation precedes me," he murmured dryly.

"They said you were brilliant. Eerily dead-on when you
profiled. You were practically a legend in the academy. That
profile you wrote, that helped catch Monty Propps--"

"Hell of a lot of good old Spooky did Rachel Hayes," he

"This is about Rachel Hayes," she said slowly. "Who was

"The little girl who went missing. The little girl no one
knew how to find. I can't imagine that, having someone I
loved just disappear one day. I felt her parents' anguish
every day I spent pouring over the non-existent evidence. We
were in town for weeks."

Wanting to give him the time he needed, Scully began running
her hands through his hair gently, the way she did for Kelly
sometimes when she couldn't sleep. He moved marginally
closer to her and she smiled, pressing a gentle kiss to the
top of his spine. Whatever fears or obstacles they had ahead
of them, she was beginning to believe the ones she had about
Mulder were completely unfounded.

"One day, I was looking through my interviews with the
family, and I realized something. Ray Elders, the mother's
brother, was almost always absent when I got there. It was
just a hunch. I didn't have anything substantial, but we
were desperate. Most of the other guys, my partner included,
didn't think there was any chance Rachel could still be

"I went alone. I was just going to check out Elders' house,
nothing more. But then I saw that he had a basement, which
was in the limited profile I was able to write. I saw her
being kept in a dark place, possibly an attic or a basement.
The windows were blacked out, too. I was acting completely
on instinct when I bashed one in. I slid through it and as
soon as I got down there, I felt it. The air was heavy and
oppressive, as though you could smell fear."

"I remember what that smell is like," she whispered softly
when he grew silent. Her hands continued their
ministrations, hoping to keep him here with her, instead of
surrendering to the memories. "I didn't come face to face
with it too many times during my short stint as an FBI
Agent, but it's not something you forget."

The commiseration helped, she thought, as he rolled to his
side and allowed her to press her front to his back. They
were wrapped in separate Afghans, with yet another one over
them both, but the close contact still made her shiver. Her
right arm she folded over his chest and let her hand rest
over his heart. The other hand she left in his hair,
circling and soothing as best it could.

"Scully, she was so small, and so quiet." Finally, the calm
began to fade from his voice. She wished it back with a
desperation that surprised her. Because this haunted quality
his voice had taken on made tears sting at her eyes; made
her long to wrap him tightly in her arms and rock him like a

It was a minute before she realized that she didn't have to
deny that urge. Enfolding him more firmly in her embrace,
she pressed her lips to the back of his neck. "You don't
have to tell me this." And he didn't. It was enough that
he'd tried. If it was going to cause him this much pain, she
didn't need to hear it.

"Yes, I do." He didn't sound sure of himself and he cleared
his throat. This time, his voice emerged much stronger.
"I've never told anyone everything, with the exception of
what I put in the report. And . . . I need to. One last
demon to exorcise," he added. Under different circumstances,
it could have sounded like a joke. Now, it sounded
heartbreakingly sad.

She felt him hesitate, and through some nexus or connection
that had formed between them, she knew what was wrong. "I
want to hear it," she promised him quietly. "I want to hear
anything you want to tell me."

All these small but profound truths she was learning
tonight. It was enough to send a girl's heart into
palpitations. Scary as it was, the fear didn't compare to at
least ten other things she could name off the top of her
head. Whether that had to do with the circumstances, or the
man himself, she didn't know. Maybe it was as simple as the
benefits far outweighing the frightening aspects. Because
there were benefits. If she could sense his fear, know him
that well, chances were he could do the same with her.

Was that kind of connection even possible? If someone had
asked her that a week ago, she would have laughed in their
face. But now? Now, she was open to any number of extreme
possibilities that hadn't so much as occurred to her before.

"When I found her, Rachel was terrified. She wouldn't even
speak. He had her handcuffed to something, a radiator, I
think. I remember the only thought that kept running through
my mind was, "Jesus, she's only six, what kind of monster .
. ." But of course, I already knew what kind of monster. I'd
spent the last three years chasing them down, getting inside
their heads, putting them behind bars.

"I was so focused on getting her out of there that I somehow
fucking forgot to call for backup. Maybe I was thinking
about it too much, maybe I was distracted so I didn't hear
him come up behind me, but I felt something conk me over the
head, and when I woke up, I was handcuffed next to Rachel.
And because I screwed up, the Calvary wasn't on its way."

Fear wrapped its tentacles around her heart and squeezed.
This man had captured him? And did it make her a horrible
person that she hadn't felt this kind of deep, bone crushing
sorrow when it was a faceless little girl in peril?

He must have felt the subtle change in the way she held her
body. At least, that was what she was telling herself. "It's
always different when it's someone you . . . care about."

I love you. "Yes, it is."

"I never saw him. I heard him, I knew it was him, Rachel
told me it was her Uncle Ray, but I never actually saw him.
We were down there for nearly two days together, and the
entire time, she kept telling me stories about Uncle Ray.
About how nice he was when other people were around, and
about how mean he was to her when they were alone. How she
tried to never be alone with him, because he would tell her
that she'd ruined her mother's life and that if he were any
kind of brother, he'd do something about it."

A shudder ran through his body, mirroring the revulsion
Scully felt. This was why, she thought dully, her decision
to quit the Bureau hadn't been as hard as it should have
been. Why, when Jack had asked her to quit, she'd been all
too quick to agree. The only partner she'd ever had in the
field had been a joke, and there was really nothing else
keeping her there. She'd proved to herself, at least, that
she could handle it; she didn't need to prove anything to
anyone else.

"I tried not to close my eyes. Part of me was afraid that if
I did, Rachel would disappear in the time it took me to open
them again. He left food close enough for her to reach it.
Some bread, stale crackers, bottles of water. Enough to keep
us both alive indefinitely.

"My partner apparently pieced together the notes I had all
over my room and determined that I'd gone sniffing around
Elders' place on my own. By this time, Rachel had slipped
into a detached state. If I tried very hard, I could still
draw her out, but she was fading away before my eyes. Reggie
came in with the cavalry, but Elders wasn't at home. When
they picked him up at his sister's place, he maintained that
he'd been staying with her the entire time, which she
confirmed, and that he had no idea what Rachel was doing in
his basement, or that I'd been locked down there."

"And they believed him?" Try as she might, Scully could not
keep the incredulity out of her voice.

"The police didn't. The judge and jury didn't. But there was
no concrete evidence. Nothing but my hunches, and me
swearing up and down that Rachel told me it was him, and
that I'd heard his voice. She couldn't testify; by that
point she'd completely withdrawn inside herself. On her good
days, she was semi-catatonic. On her bad days . . . well."

He cleared his throat. "Her mother, Tracy, didn't believe
her brother capable. I think maybe Jim, Rachel's father, was
suspicious, but he wouldn't contradict his wife. Not even to
save his daughter." His contempt was palpable and Scully
shared it. Again, she offered him a comforting squeeze of
both her arms and legs. Practically wrapped around him as
she was, every breath he took shuddered out of her lungs.

"They were going to hand down a not guilty verdict. I knew
it. So I taunted him before court began. I got in Ray's face
with no one around and assured him that Rachel would be
coming home to take up all of Tracy's time again. He flipped
out. Shoved me into the hall and started beating the shit
out of me in front of not only the prosecuting attorney, but
the judge as well. He was brought up on charges of
assaulting a federal officer. They sentenced him to eight

"They wouldn't let me see Rachel. Even when she asked for
me, Tracy wouldn't let me in. She thought I was going to
poison her daughter against her uncle. The therapist
assigned to her case couldn't get her to open up. Elders'
wasn't anywhere near her, but still, he was hurting her.
Killing her slowly, from the inside out."

"That's why you feel so strongly about the roles of law
enforcement officers and psychologists merging somewhat."

"I couldn't profile anymore," he whispered, continuing as
though she hadn't spoken. Maybe, to him, she hadn't. He
wasn't really in this room right now, anyway. Again, she
pressed her lips to his neck and hoped it offered some
comfort. "Even though I know it's not the case, I felt as
though my place in the FBI was of no help to anyone. Yes, I
was saving their lives, but their souls were still being
tortured. And I couldn't get to Rachel. So I made a
decision. One of those life-altering decisions that somehow
never get to be weighed, but instead are made in a split
second. You ever notice that, Scully? The most important
decisions are so often split second choices."

Nodding against him, she tried not to think of how true that
statement was. It could get painful. But then she thought,
and realized, that maybe there were some good memories
connected to it. Because after all, it had been a split
second decision the first time she had kissed Mulder.

"So I tendered my resignation, ignored the whispers and
protests of my colleagues, and went back to school. Three
years later, I had a Ph.D. in child psychology from the very
school that had given me my psychology degree a few years

"You changed your entire career path so you could help one
little girl?"

If she hadn't loved him before . . .

Instead of acknowledging the awe-inspiring grandness of his
gesture, Mulder shrugged it off. "They brought me onto the
case to save her. Some might say I was just trying to finish
my job to the best of my ability." That same shift occurred
in his body and she tensed, waiting for the other shoe to
drop. "Except I couldn't save her."

Her fingertips brushed over his jaw and she felt him bite
his lip. Gently, she pried the bit of flesh from between his
teeth and continued on her way, stroking over his chest,
shoulders and arms, letting him feel her touch when he
couldn't hear her words.

"A few days before I had my degree in hand, Ray Elders was
released from prison. Good behavior, they told me later.
Well, his first stop was to see his dear sister. And what
did she do?"

"No," Scully whispered, denying to herself what she knew
would certainly follow. How could anyone, any =mother= allow
. . .

"To this day, no one knows what he said to her. He was only
in there for a couple of minutes. At the time, she showed no
reaction, no sign of distress. But that night, using a
toothbrush she must have sharpened somehow, a nine-year-old
little girl slit her own wrists in the psych ward of a
small-town Indiana hospital."

"It wasn't your fault," Scully said immediately, those being
the first words that came to mind. Addressing the tragedy
itself was beyond her capability at the moment. Caring for
the man in her arms, however, was not.

"I know that. Now," he amended. "I spent a good long while
blaming myself, though. Years, if I'm honest. It's only
recently, as I said, that I've come to terms with it. A lot
of that has to do with Samantha's persistence," he admitted,
some small bit of light starting to creep back into his
voice. "You know what the worse part of it all is?" She
didn't have to ask what. That was the most rhetorical
question she'd ever heard in her life. "That son of a bitch
is still on the streets today. No one can prove what he

"Jack's urging aside, that is an perfect example of one of
the most valid reasons I had for leaving the Bureau. I was
becoming so hard, so numb to the tragedies and the
injustices." They were both quiet for a time, breathing in
perfect rhythm with one another. "I know that you know," she
whispered after a time, her chin now resting over his
shoulder so that their cheeks touched, "you aren't
responsible for what happened to Rachel. But sometimes it
helps to hear it. Knowing all the facts, having heard every
detail, I can say with certainty that you did all you could;
more than most. And if she were here, I promise that Rachel
wouldn't blame you, either."

The breath that hitched beneath his chest sounded like a
sob. She unwrapped her arms only long enough to help turn
him toward her so that she could embrace him properly; pull
his head against her breast and stroke his back as his tears
wet her skin. Feathering kisses over the top of his head,
she soothed his back with hands that shook only a bit, from
lingering emotion and anguished sadness for the grief he had
carried with him so long.

While his tears flowed freely and without shame, she opened
her afghan and he opened his, so that they were sharing only
the single one atop them. Wrapping themselves around each
other, she felt him rub his nose against her breast, the
sensation so similar to that of an infant craving its mother
that tears she hadn't allowed herself to shed earlier
spilled down her cheeks, but only for an instant. This was
about him; his pain, his grief, his release.

When the only tears left on his cheeks were old, she kissed
them away and promised them both a day when there would be
nothing to cry over. Later, minutes or hours, she wasn't
sure, touches that were comforting and almost asexual turned
arousing. His mouth latched around her nipple and her
earlier observation was confirmed as he began to suckle. She
was glad for whatever comfort it gave him. Anything he
needed, so long as she was able to give it, would be his.

Pushing him to his back, she crawled on top of his body and
covered his torso with gentle, fleeting kisses. After she
had bathed his entire upper body, her mouth turned playful,
nipping, licking, and sucking over his flesh.

The act of making love was a process of give and take. But,
inevitably, one partner will end up taking control. In her
experience, the man normally took the initiative. Earlier,
it had been Mulder who was making love to her. Now, while he
certainly was anything but passive, he was giving her
control. He was allowing her to make love to him at whatever
pace, whatever level she wished.

This time, when she took him inside her body, the rhythm was
faster than before. It comforted her to know that none of
the patterns --emotional or physical -- she'd fallen into
with men in the past had emerged with Mulder. Smiling into
each other's lives, each breath they took labored, she
almost believed this thing between them had a real chance.

Sated, they parted for a moment as they each took great
gulps of air. Missing him already, Scully pulled his head
back to her breast and his arm settled over her waist.
Exhausted, they fell into a state of semi-conscious sleep
almost immediately. Fading in and out, she was aware only of
his presence. It was as though nothing had existed before,
and nothing would exist after, this moment. And for now,
that was exactly how she needed it to be.

Morning would bring with it more than enough time for
analyzing and second-guessing the things that were sureties


Chapter 10- Animalistic Interpretation

"Come and be one in the motion. Desire they cannot
comprehend. Never to question again. For I am your passion,
your promise, your end - yes I am." - Melissa Etheridge,
"Yes I Am"


It was, perhaps, a sad commentary on his life that he could
not remember the last time he'd woken up next to a woman.

That the woman in question was the only person he could see
himself building a life with, loving without question for
the rest of his days, was truly awe-inspiring.

Speaking of awe-inspiring . . .

The sight that greeted him this fine morning was nothing
short of astonishingly beautiful. Dana Scully possessed the
kind of beauty that inspired sonnets to be composed and
great works of art to be painted. That she was so guileless
in her beauty, so unaware of her effect on all those who
knew her, only served to make her more lovely.

At the moment, the only view he had was her mouth, her
amazingly perfect breasts, and the patches of skin
in-between. His head was pillowed on one breast and, to his
distinct surprise, he'd woken up with his hand resting over
the other. He couldn't think of a better way to open his
eyes in the morning.

What would she do, he wondered, if she woke up to find his
hand on her breast, his lips attached to her neck, and one
of the most impressive morning erections he'd ever had
prodding her hip? Would she be receptive and actively
encourage him? Or would she slug him for his audacity? Her
reaction, of course, would have a lot to do with how she
viewed what happened last night.

Last night.

It hadn't gone as she'd intended, he didn't think. She had
come to his apartment with the intent to seduce, surely. But
it had all been in good fun. What happened between them last
night, while certainly fun, had not been easy or light. It
had been deadly serious and he had felt pieces of his soul
tether themselves to hers.

Had she felt it too? And if she had, would she seek to sever
these ties, rather than risk being hurt again?

Memories assaulted him and he nearly groaned. He certainly
hadn't meant to unload on her like that. He wasn't even sure
where it had all come from, although he could take an
educated guess. For years now, he'd been storing up all the
pain. With the exception of a single incident outside his
sister's home, he hadn't let any of it out.

But finally, =finally= there was someone he trusted, someone
he wanted to share everything with. The reason Rachel's
story had come pouring out of him the night before directly
reflected on the fact that he had been truly happy, for the
first time in years. He thought about Rachel last night,
when he realized he hadn't thought about her all day.

Staring at the fabric of his carpet the night before,
Scully's obviously nervous body beside him, it had seemed
the right time to give her a piece of his life. Return her
trust, in a way.

Now, though, back in his bed, he found himself wondering if
it was a mistake. Last night, she'd held him while he cried
like he hadn't cried since he was a small child. He hadn't
felt embarrassment at being seen as less than manly and
that, more than anything else he'd experienced with her,
eased his worries about this thing between them developing
too fast. He was safe with her. So long as she didn't start
second-guessing herself, they'd be safe with each other.

In the midst of his thoughts as he was, it startled him when
one of her hands covered his over her breast. He tilted his
head up and caught her open, sleepy eyes. However long she'd
been awake, it was obviously long enough to have observed
his internal debate, given the consciousness he saw in her

Split second decision made, he pressed a kiss to the
underside of the breast his head was resting near, then
another, and another, until his lips found and wrapped
around her nipple. She made no move to stop him, nor a sound
of protest, unless that long moan had been one of pain,
which he highly doubted. Never a believer in the theories of
Freud, he did not examine why suckling at her breast was
such an incredible turn-on.

The hand that rested over his slowly began stroking up his
forearm. In his best estimation, the movement was
involuntary. He smiled around her breast and slowly began
feathering his mouth toward her face, occasionally darting
his tongue out to lap languidly at her skin. It amazed him
that he now knew what every inch of Dana Scully's body
tasted like.

His hand began to gently knead and caress her breast as his
mouth settled itself near her ear. Licking, nibbling, and
sucking, he spent an inordinate amount of time acquainting
himself with this particular part of her anatomy. Her
approval was obvious, both in the husky-morning-voice moans
she emitted, as well as the act of digging her nails into
his forearm.

"Tell me, Scully," he whispered into her ear, his tone
conversational, "are you having as pleasant a morning as I

She pulled her lower lip tightly between her teeth and he
took the opportunity to place a few kisses against her jaw.
"Yeah. But the weirdest thing happened. I was pleasantly
dozing and woke to find some guy pawing me."

He barely contained a guffaw as his lips returned to her
ear. Tracing the little whorls with the tip of his tongue,
he pulled back, stunned, as she started to giggle.

"No," she denied vehemently. But when put to the test, she
erupted in another peel of giggles. Delighted by the sound,
he continued to lightly trace the tip of his tongue over her
ear. "Mulder," a gasp, "please, I'm begging you," a
breathless giggle, "you =must= stop," she trailed off as she
began laughing too hard to form coherent sentences. He was
sure the fact that his hand had left her breast, and was now
teasingly fluttering over her sides had =something= to do
with her breathless state.

Ceasing his movements for a moment, he deliberately blew a
puff of air into her ear. Shuddering, both her hands
immediately clamped down on his; a vain attempt to keep him
from renewing his attack, he scoffed internally. Her eyes
were shut, and while her skin was flushed and her breathing
heavy, she looked almost peaceful. To be the cause of that .
. . it took his breath away.

"I don't know, Scully," he whispered into her ear, "this is
entertaining the hell out of me. And if I'm not entertained
in the morning, I usually just roll back over and go to

"Who says I wasn't planning to entertain you?" She was
beginning to regain some control over her breathing. There
was still a light, teasing note to her voice, though, and
again, he reveled in it.

"Scully, we've been awake for nearly five whole minutes and
still, I haven't gotten a single good morning kiss." He
tried to sound petulant, but he was too damned happy to pull
it off. He punctuated his statement with a nip to the side
of her neck. "And, confidentially, taking into consideration
that you would be the one to bestow the good morning kiss -
it's gonna take a hell of a lot more than one to satisfy

"You didn't say anything about satisfying you," she
murmured, sliding down in the bed and turning to her side
until they were eye level. "You just said I had to entertain
you." The smile that lit up her face could have nourished
his soul for decades. "So which is it, Doc? Do you want
entertainment, or satisfaction?"

"I can't get no," he began, then trailed off as she pressed
her lips to his. Her tongue brushed against his mouth and he
opened to her immediately, moaning at the feel of her. His
hand quickly made the journey up her side to tangle in her
hair, finding a firm grip. Wasting no time, he pulled her
head closer, devouring her mouth with his own and being
devoured at the same time.

After a long, long while, they pulled back, foreheads
resting against one another, breathing labored. "Good
morning," she whispered in a voice that was just this side
of a sex kitten.

Grinning like an idiot, he rubbed his nose against hers in
an Eskimo kiss. "Good morning."

"You still haven't made a decision," she reminded him, her
leg slowly sliding up the side of his.

A snicker left his mouth and he slowly rolled her to her
back, placing both his hands firmly against the mattress,
pressing his body into hers with the slightest pressure.
"I'm sorry, I must have been being vague. Allow me to make
my point more clear."

Dipping his head down, he ravished her mouth with his own.
He nipped and sucked, licked and caressed until he thought
the top of his head was going to come off. Even that
couldn't make him stop. He never wanted to stop kissing her
. . . The most amazing thing was, she couldn't seem to get
enough of him, either. Her hands were pulling and clawing at
his back until he could no longer support himself on his
arms. He rested fully on top of her, his hands now free to
roam the expanse of her body.

Squirming and wiggling, sliding and touching, she made the
most exquisite sounds into his mouth. How this woman could
ever doubt what a sensual, beautiful creature she was . . .

When he was sure they were both too breathless to think
coherently, he released her mouth in favor of the skin along
the side of her neck. "You are so beautiful," he whispered
into the ear he hadn't been tormenting earlier. "I want you
so badly . . . I ache to be inside you. I've never felt that
before." He continued to press his lips along her shoulder,
then back to her ear again. He was frantic, unable to get
enough of her.

"God, Mulder," she whispered. "Are you like this every

They both laughed, a bit unstably. With a supreme force of
will, he raised his head to look her in the eye. Both his
hands pushed the hair back from her face and sort of cradled
her head between his palms. Again, he leaned down and rested
his forehead against hers. He opened his mouth once, but
found the words he wanted to say were absent. Instead, he
asked a question.

"Are you?" he countered, having noticed how eager her own
hands and mouth and legs had been. Every inch of her skin
burned against his, responded to every touch, extended
overtures of her own.

Like him, she seemed to search for words she couldn't find.
Then, like a bolt of lightning, the answer seemed to come at
them both at once.

"I don't know," they said together slowly.

"Because it's never been you before," he continued quietly.

"And already I know it's going to be different with you,"
she added, her fingers idly tracing patterns along his

"Better," he corrected. "Different and better than it's ever
been before. Better than either of us ever thought was

"It's good that you're realistic about this. I'd hate to see
you build it up some great expectation it couldn't possibly
have a prayer of living up to."

He ignored her dry, somewhat sarcastic tone. "I am being
realistic. I don't know about you, Scully, but I do not fall
in love in a day and a half." Almost without conscious
thought, he began feathering little kisses down the bridge
of her nose. "I don't find my other half, the woman who
makes me a whole person, every time I go to one of those
mind-numbingly dull conventions."

Catching sight of her expression, he could have kicked
himself. Too much, too soon, dumb shit, he seethed on the
inside. If you were a little unsettled by the speed of this
relationship, how the hell must she feel?

As ever, she surprised him. "I had given up on finding my
other half," she whispered quietly, leaning her head up to
cling their lips together briefly. "I'd begun to believe
that he didn't exist." Another smile curved her lips, those
beautiful, sexy lips he could never get enough of . . .
"You're making me believe in a lot of things I'd given up

Tears were threatening in her voice, and as much as he loved
the things she was saying, he didn't want tears to factor
into the equation every time they made love. Whether they
were tears of sadness, or joy, of grief or of awe, he wanted
her laughter again. Something inside him craved her

He knew she was still afraid. After all she'd been through,
he'd be a little worried if she wasn't. But, just like she'd
promised, she wasn't letting that fear rule her. And,
because of what they were becoming to each other, she was
trying to move on, to move past the pain. Again, he kissed
her, slowly at first, gently and with great reverence.

Her hands crept up his back and her fingers threaded through
his hair, pulling his head to hers more firmly, parting her
lips in silent invitation. He took it, slipping his tongue
past her teeth, caressing, learning, and revisiting his
newly appointed favorite spots. Lulling her into a false
sense of security with these gentle, exploring kisses, she
was caught completely unaware when his fingers began moving
with great purpose along her sides.

Their kiss broke as she erupted with great peels of laughter
into his mouth. Her mirth brought out his own and he let her
roll him until he was on his back, her weight pinning him to
the bed.

"That," she exclaimed, once again panting slightly, "was a
horrible thing you just did."

"Who, me?" It was his mother, he remembered, who said he
never could feign innocence in a convincing manner.

"Mulder, are you ticklish?" There was not a trace of
preamble in her voice.

"'Fraid not," he said, with little regret. "I assure you, it
was a considerable bone of contention between Sam and I
growing up."

"I bet," she muttered darkly. "If you're not ticklish . . .
I'm going to have to find some other way to torture you

"You think anything you could possibly do, short of getting
out of this bed and leaving my apartment, could torture me?"
Dangerous. It was dangerous to scoff at a tigress. He
couldn't seem to heed his own warnings.

"You don't think I can do it?" A single, beautiful eyebrow
arched toward the ceiling.

"Baby, give it your best shot." Danger, Will Robinson,

Pulling her lower lip between her teeth, she sat back
against his thighs and seemed to give the situation some
considerable thought. Bracing himself on his elbows, he sat
up enough to press his lips between her breasts, the lack of
contact driving him crazy. To his surprise, she placed her
hands against his chest and shoved him back to the bed.
Before he could form words to ask her why, two delicate
fingers covered his lips.

"Would you do something for me, Mulder?"

As her fingers were still preventing him from speech, he
raised an eyebrow to ask what. Grinning as only a woman with
an idea can, she began to caress his lips, her movement
nearly imperceptible.

"I have a fantasy. Something I never used to allow myself to
think of deliberately, because before, it was just too
painful. But now . . . now I remember it was one of those
things that waited inside my mind, waited until the tethers
of my control were worn enough to seep into my thoughts."
Bending at the waist, she placed a soft, open-mouthed kiss
over one of his nipples. Straightening, she once again sat
back on his thighs. "Would you do that for me, Mulder? Would
you make my fantasy come true?"

He did not understand how this was supposed to be torturing
him, nor was he stupid enough to actually raise that point.
It might pose an intriguing argument at a later date, but
right now, the very last thing he wanted to do with Dana
Scully was argue with her.

Swallowing around the huge lump that had formed in his
throat, Mulder pressed a kiss to her fingers and she removed
them. "Anything," he croaked. He cleared his throat. "I'd do
anything for you, Dana."

"Scully," she corrected softly, a shadow passing over her
eyes before she blinked it away. "No one else has ever
called me Scully, and I like it that way."

"Scully," he whispered, once again trying to lean up to kiss
her. Once again, she stopped him with a gentle but firm push
against his chest.

"Have you ever lost control while making love?" As she spoke
the words, she moved away from him until she sat at the end
of the bed, her legs stretched out in front of her, feet
near his shoulders.

Puzzled, he sat up against the headboard, mirroring her
posture. "Define control."

"Thought, sense, reason, ability to control what your body

"Technically, every person reaches that point at the moment
of orgasm--"

He hadn't even finished pronouncing the end of the word when
her hand began shaking him off. "I know that. I'm not
referring to the loss of control that occurs through the
narcotic of ecstasy." A wide grin split her face, and he
shared it, wondering if there were two other people on the
planet capable of having this conversation in quite this

"What then, pray tell, Dr. Scully, are you referring to?"

"I want to be taken." She spoke quietly, and with a gentle
sincerity that touched his heart. At the same time, he felt
his cock twitch slightly at the mental picture that formed.
"I want to be wanted by someone," she looked him straight in
the eye and he thought, "Look at me, ma, I'm someone." She
was still speaking. "Wanted beyond reason, beyond sense,
beyond ability to control what they think or do."

Again, he had to physically clear his throat to speak.
"That's a perfectly natural want. The problem usually posed
with such a fantasy, though, is a trust issue. To whip
someone into that sort of frenzy, into a mass of want and
need to the point that they can no longer control what they
do, you have to trust that what they'll do won't be
damaging, to themselves or you."

He wondered if he sounded like he was fishing for
reassurance. Trust was a big thing for her. Even if she was
able to bestow it upon him at some point, she wouldn't be
ready to yet.

"I want to trust you," she said quietly, shocking him so
that his head popped up, their eyes meeting. "And the
easiest way for me to begin that process, is to trust you
with my body."

Flabbergasted. Certainly, a word he'd never been
particularly fond of. But it was the only word that came
close to describing his current state of mind. Taking a
moment to collect his thoughts, he made another split second
decision. He trusted her to know what she wanted, to know
what she was ready for.

"Can I be honest with you for a moment?"

"Always, I hope."

He smiled in confirmation. "I don't think I've been clear as
to exactly how badly I want you. Allow me to rectify that

A raised eyebrow was the only response he got. Jesus, even
that was sexy.

"The first time I saw you, I nearly fell out of my chair.
You were lecturing in the most monotone voice and I was
listening to every word in rapt attention. I watched the way
your hips moved as you walked to the podium, the way that
one lock of hair wouldn't stay out of your eyes, and the way
your gaze scanned the room and took precise note of each
person in attendance. Intelligence has always been the most
profound turn-on to me, and you, Dr. Scully, absolutely
stunned me with your brilliance.

"Had my darling baby sister not called at a most inopportune
moment, I assure you that by the time I stood up to engage
that beautiful mind of yours in debate, I would have been
sporting an erection the likes of which most medical
professionals would tell you was impossible given no direct

"Putting all of that aside for the moment, you are the
single most stunningly beautiful woman I have ever seen in
my life. Due to a disastrous marriage I am fully aware you
haven't told me every detail of, you have a low to
non-existent sense of self-worth. I promise you, Scully, all
you have to do is look at me the way you're looking at me
right now and I want you more than I've ever wanted any
other woman alive.

"What I'm doing right now is telling you the truth. But I
also have an ulterior motive. We both think too much. And as
a result, words have the power to arouse greater, in some
sense, than touch. The way you're hands are moving
restlessly over the covers, the way your pupils are
dilating, the way you can't take your eyes off me are all
small signs of how turned on you are. Do you know what turns
me on more than anything else?"

She licked her lips, the sound of her throat clearing the
first she'd made since he'd begun. Odd how the baring of his
soul had never been this effortless before. He felt
something, and he wanted to share it with her.

"What?" she finally croaked in much the same tone he'd used

"Knowing that I'm turning you on." He made a nodding motion
as she processed that little nugget.

"I know what you mean," she said, her eyes focused on his
cock which was beginning to throb, he wanted her so badly.

"You want me to be beyond reason or control." He waited
until her eyes met his again. "Scully, I'm halfway there the
very first time you put your hands on me. I hold myself back
with every ounce of willpower I have, so that I don't scare

"You could never scare me." Husky, with an alto timbre that
caused his dick to twitch. Her voice danced over his senses,
putting to shame any theory of direct stimulation being the
most arousing sensation.

It was getting more and more difficult to take normal
breaths. His blood was pounding through his veins and he
wasn't even touching her. There were several feet separating
their faces. They just kept looking at each other, the words
they'd both confessed ringing through their ears and
finally, finally he understood how this might be considered

If this was torture, call me a masochist, he thought with
near manic glee.

Feral, that was how he felt; nearly animalistic. It had
always been a skill of his to easily slip into whatever
state of mind he needed to be in. And right now, he was
letting the veneer of civility men and women wore in their
day to day lives slip away. Because it was what the woman
before him needed. Starting from the inside out, he reduced
everything he felt for her, all the mature, very proper
impulses he had into baser urges.

The desire to mate.

The need to possess completely.

The desperate want she had to be taken.

"Come here." The words were almost growled. He couldn't
recognize his own voice; didn't even try.

Her eyes widened slightly, but he didn't see fear in them.
Quite the contrary. Her nipples hardened before his eyes and
he watched as she rose to her knees. She turned, and his
instincts reacted before his mind could. He was behind her
in an instant, one arm snaking around her waist, the other
securing her shoulders, gripping her tightly just above her
breasts. A gasp left her mouth and he felt her body shudder
against his.

"Going somewhere?" His mouth was at her ear again, no longer
tickling. He bit gently, sucked and laved his tongue over
her skin.

"No," she whispered, her hands covering the arm he had
around her waist.

Confident that she wasn't trying to change her mind, his
hands strayed from their neutral locations. One cupped her
breast firmly, pinched her hardened nipple between thumb and
forefinger, tightening only when she moaned the word "more."

His other hand did not hesitate either. It plunged between
her legs and quickly found her warm and wet. If there was
any part of his mind that wasn't completely fogged over, it
recognized how satisfying it was to have physical proof that
she wanted him as much as he wanted her.

Exploring, his mouth continued to feast on her skin. The
back of her neck was particular tasty and he set to work on
giving her a hickey she'd carry around for a week; branding
her as his.

She kept moaning his name; whimpering it, crying out softly
in pleasure. His teeth got into the act as he grazed them
over her skin lightly, finding the crook of her neck to be
another particularly tasty spot. Both her hands braced
themselves against the foot of the bed and he felt her ass
push back against his erection, demanding, begging.

Her voice was begging, too, he thought, lost in the clouds
of her hair and the ambrosia of her skin. Somehow, his hands
found their way to her hips and he pulled her into the
position he needed her in.

He went as deeply as he could on the first thrust. His
thought process was limited to recognizing senses: hot,
tight, wet, she's moaning, tastes good, beautiful, mine,
mine, mine.

Blazing a sloppy trail up her back with his mouth, he
finally reached her ear again. His hips began a hard, fast
rhythm against hers. She tried to meet his thrusts, but her
position limited movement. Finally, she just held on tightly
to the foot board and let his hands move her hips as he saw

Mingling his name and God's, he was amazed when he heard
another word pass her lips: "Harder."

His brain was no longer able to process the fact that he was
pounding into her harder than he'd thought himself capable.
She issued a command and he would follow. Draping his body
over hers, his breath hot and labored in her ear, he picked
up the pace, eliciting the most amazing sound from her
mouth. =That= was animalistic, just as he would have
recognized the grunts coming from his mouth to be if he'd
been in any position to recognize such things.

A few thrusts more, and he was done for. The pressure in his
balls built until he exploded into her. A cry was torn from
his mouth and he heard an answering cry from her. "Some
mates call out for each other, even from opposite ends of
the globe," he remembered some National Geographic he read
once saying. As something approaching rational thought
returned to him, he managed to reach a hand around her
waist, two fingers moving down to gently finger her clit.

He'd barely touched her before his name left her lips with a
scream. That was it, that was the sound, that was the sound
he needed to hear before he could die a happy, satisfied man
. . .

With that last thought, he pulled out of her and collapsed
onto his side. She fell back with him, a tangle of arms and
legs as they climbed halfway up the bed, just so that their
limbs wouldn't hang off the mattress.

They both rested on their backs, breathing heavy, staring up
at the ceiling. Her small, warm hand found his and she
threaded their fingers together. Out of his peripheral
vision, he saw a smile break out across her face. One of
equally foolish joy spread across his own. Together, they
laughed slightly, giddy with the situation, themselves, and
the feelings coursing through their very beings.

"Good morning, Scully," he whispered, turning his head to
look at her directly.

Turning her head toward him, idiotic grin not slipping in
the least, she squeezed his hand once. "Good morning,
Mulder." And, as though she just couldn't help herself:
"Entertaining =and= satisfying. Who'd've thought we could
have the best of both worlds?"

They slipped back into a restful slumber, chuckling softly
at stupid things no other person on the planet would find
remotely funny.


Chapter 11- Chocolate-Covered Human-Buffer

"You don't marry someone you can live with - you marry the
person who you cannot live without."


This was why people got married, she thought dreamily.

If her eyes weren't open, she wasn't really awake yet. Or,
at least, she didn't have to admit to being awake, Scully
rationalized to herself. Not that being awake would be such
a bad thing. After all, the last time she woke up, it was to
find Mulder's hands on her body. They were there again. One
of his hands was curved possessively over her breast, the
other wrapped around her lower back, holding her body to

Oh, yes, that was his skin pressed to every inch of hers,
his legs tangled with hers and his breath puffing against
her hair. It was his heartbeat beneath her ear and his chest
her hand rested over.

This was why people got married.

Sleeping with someone was more intimate than making love. On
the only occasion she had had a one-night stand, she hadn't
slept a wink all night. As soon as the sun came up, she had
hurriedly thrown on her clothes and all but ran from the
nondescript motel room. The experience had left a bad taste
in her mouth, and she had vowed to never do it again.

Yet Mulder was to have been a one-night stand. Well, a
one-week stand. The point was, there were to be no long-term
attachments, no residual emotions, and definitely no
thoughts of anything deeper than friendship, sex, and fun.

They'd certainly been having fun. She hadn't laughed this
much since college, if then. And sex had figured prominently
into the equation. Great sex, mind blowing sex, soul-searing
sex the likes of which could become addictive. Had already
become addictive, she amended.

He was even her friend. Amazing, really, that he'd been her
friend almost from the first day. Earnest in his desire to
know her, he'd ferreted into her thoughts, insinuated
himself into her personal space and fought back her
insecurities like a knight conquering dragons.

Plus, he smelled so damned good. His scent wrapped itself
around her nerve-endings.  Inhaling, she took that smell as
deeply into her lungs as she could. It was already something
she associated with being safe, loved and happy. When she
was younger, her mother's chocolate chip cookies, the salt
air, and her father's combination of tobacco and leather had
been the smells of home, wherever home was that year. Now,
though, she was beginning to associate Mulder's smell with

This was why people got married.

It was the desire to belong, with and to another person. The
idea that, no matter what, there was somebody on this earth
who would always accept you, always love you for whoever you
were. The notion was seductive, sleeping and waking with a
warm body curled next to your own. A bond composed of love,
trust, and desire coalesced into a state of being that each
person, if they're honest with themselves, strives for.

Celebrating the joys together, weathering the hardships and
comforting during times when the rest of the world seemed a
cold and unyielding place to exist in. A safe harbor was
what Ahab had called it. A sailor to his core, it was how
he'd viewed his Maggie. As a child, Scully had worshiped her
parents' marriage, yearned to achieve something approaching

It was how she'd been so tempted by Jack. He'd said and done
all the right things. At first. He'd promised her happily
ever after, offered her everything she'd ever wanted. He'd
supported her career, had been so understanding about what
it was like for a woman in a man's world. The idea of the
perfect life had taunted her until she saw no other choice
but to marry this seemingly perfect man.

In retrospect, she had to wonder if she'd been blind. The
reality of her marriage had been nothing like the fantasy
he'd deluded her into believing. Soon, he convinced her to
quit the Bureau. That was not as much of a hardship as the
rest. And she wouldn't give up the career she had now for
anything. At least at the lab, she felt like she was helping
something. The sabbatical she'd taken these last few weeks
had been welcome, but soon, she would be eager to get back
to work.

She had been resisting the idea of returning to work, unsure
how it would affect Kelly. The time the little girl required
from her was considerable, and Scully felt guilty leaving
her alone.

Mulder's lips moved over the top of her head, mumbling in
his sleep. It sounded like her name. Despite the melancholy
of her thoughts, she had to smile.

This was why people got married.

Her problems were not with the institution itself. She
believed in marriage, even if that belief was shaken
considerably by Jack's betrayal. A week ago, a =day= ago, if
someone had asked her if she'd ever consider marriage again,
she would have been unable to form a response. She would
have been too busy laughing in his or her face.

Now, she didn't know what to think. She only knew that she
felt something with Mulder; something that was more
powerful, more binding than a fling and certainly more
permanent than a few nights. He was one of those people
Missy was always talking about. One of those people who, no
matter what role they played, would always play one in your

As to what role he would play in =her= life, she couldn't
say. This . . . everything that had happened between them
had been so good. Everything seemed so natural, so right
that to question it seemed presumptuous on her part. But she
didn't know any other way to be. It was in her nature to
question, to weigh, to test. And as much as she wished she
could just let go, trust, love, and let tomorrow bring what
it would, she couldn't afford to.

There were still doubts prevalent in her mind. And she
couldn't quiet them, couldn't contain them. Sometimes, it
felt as though they were ready to burst from her being. The
life she'd lived, the life she'd dreamed of, had been an
utter lie. And she'd participated in her own deception by
staying with Jack for nearly six years. It had been obvious
the marriage wasn't working out. But some hard-won Catholic
guilt complex, or some idea that things weren't completely
unfixable had kept her there.

It had kept her with a roommate, not a husband, and in a
house with no love to keep its walls standing. It shouldn't
have surprised her that it had all crumbled like a house of
cards, but somehow, even now, it did. The good example of a
marriage set by her parents meant more to her. She conceded
that part of it was how drastically Jack had changed from
when she knew him before their marriage.

Every day she had woken up, she had secretly prayed to find
the Jack she'd known before in bed beside her.

Every day, she woke up to find him already gone, most
likely, she knew now, to see his mistress.

What if . . . what if she trusted Mulder? What if she put
aside every reservation she had, let him fully into her
heart and soul and he changed the way Jack did?

That was the real fear she felt gnawing at her gut, she
realized. Perhaps all this self-analyzing wasn't all bad. It
was the only way she knew to truly find what was wrong in
her heart. Terror was what she felt when she thought about
it. Losing this Mulder, the one that held her so safely and
. . . lovingly in his arms, the one she'd trusted with more
than her body early this morning, would be like losing her
other half.

And there it was, in a nutshell. Against her better
judgment, without conscious permission on her part, she had
done it again. Invested up to her eyeballs in a relationship
with a man who could, however unlikely, rip her heart out.
And it would hurt. It would hurt more than anything had ever
hurt before, more than the disillusionment, more than the
betrayal, more than . . .

Mulder's lips, feathering kisses across her brow. Soft,
gentle, reverent kisses as his fingers made slow circles
over her lower back, and the hand covering her breast made
no move to vacate its current position.

"Don't wake up yet, Sleeping Beauty." His breath fanned her
face and she felt his raspy whisper down to the tips of her
toes. "I need a few more minutes to convince myself you're

Unbidden, the image of his body, shaking in her arms came to
mind. He's opened himself to you, too, she reminded herself.
He'd opened himself completely, sharing something she knew
he'd never told another soul. It wasn't one-sided like
before. He isn't going to lie to you, he isn't going to
cheat on you, and he sure as hell isn't about to stop
wanting you, if the way he holds you is any indication. Suck
it up, Dana, and stop freaking out.

Giving them both a few minutes to breathe, she collected her
thoughts. Nothing decided yet was the only decision she
allowed herself to make. Just enjoy it and accept his place
in your life, whatever that place ultimately ends up being.

Stretching like a cat against his body, she tilted her head
towards his, blinking her eyes open for the first time since
waking. Smiling softly at him, she pressed a chaste kiss to
his lips. "Morning."

"Morning, gorgeous," he murmured, bending his head to give
her a longer, decidedly unchaste kiss. Her hands threaded
through his hair and as her nails scratched his scalp
lightly, both his hands tightened on her body.

I can't do it, she thought in a daze. I can't have known
this and exist without it.

Before she had a chance to follow up on that particular
train of thought, Mulder broke their kiss and his head came
up. From the look on his face, it was as though he had heard
something. His next words confirmed it.

"Did you hear that?"

She listened for a moment, but heard nothing. "What--"

But he was up and out of bed, snagging a robe out of a box
near the door. A few seconds later, he came back through the
door, a resigned smirk on his face. He rooted around in
another box, and tossed her what might possibly be the
second softest thing she had ever felt. The first, of
course, being his skin.

"What's this for?" she asked, holding up an old navy blue
t-shirt of his. It looked like a favorite, worn in all the
right places. When he turned away from the bed for a moment,
she seized the opportunity and brought it to her nose. He'd
worn it recently, but not for long. Just enough time to
leave his scent.

"Just trust me," he muttered, slipping on a pair of boxers.

A pout was already forming on her lips. She didn't want
either of them getting dressed yet . . .the look on his
face, combined with the opportunity to have his smell
surrounding her won her over, though, and she slipped the
t-shirt on. He bounded back into bed beside her, and she was
about to really start grilling him when a familiar voice
boomed from the other side of the door.

"Wake up my lovelies, breakfast is served."

"Have you ever heard the word privacy?" Mulder inquired
politely as his sister barged through his bedroom door, a
large tray filled with delicious-smelling food in hand.

"Privacy? We're lucky she knows the words 'public decency,'"
Charlie reminded them all from behind Sam, his hands filled
with an almost identical tray.

"Public what?" she asked sweetly, setting her tray down at
the foot of the bed.

"She used to do this when I would have overnight guests in
college if she happened to be visiting me," Mulder murmured
near Scully's ear. It was as though he was completely
ignoring his sister's presence. For her part, Scully was
resisting the urge to pull his t-shirt over both her knees.

Charlie placed his tray near his sister's feet and Samantha
looked quite pleased with herself. "Well," she drew the word
out. "I guess we'll leave you two alone."

"Wait a minute," Charlie interrupted, "you wake me up, order
me over here with eggs, bacon, pancake mix, syrup and
everything else on their trays, you make me cook it, cause
we all know you can't, and now we don't even get to eat it?"

Samantha patted his cheek as though he were a poor, lost
soul. Scully barely contained a snicker at the image. "Come
on, honey," she said encouragingly, "I'll take you to IHOP."

The pout that had appeared on his face brightened the
slightest bit. "Can I get the nutty waffles with the
strawberry syrup?"

Wrinkling her nose distastefully, Sam looked at her brother
on the bed. "The things I do for you," she muttered to him.
Turning back to Charlie, she smiled widely. "Anything you
want, Chuckie."

Charlie cackled. My brother cackled, Scully thought to
herself in a daze. What were these Mulders doing to the

Sam blew them both a kiss and left, Charlie following close
behind. Mulder rubbed his hands together gleefully and
lifted the tray at his feet onto his lap. Without preamble,
he bit into a piece of bacon and moaned his appreciation.

"Didn't you find that the slightest bit weird?" Things like
that didn't happen, did they? That couldn't have been

Mulder shrugged. "I got used to it in college. It's just the
way she is. Frankly, I wouldn't want her to be anyone
different than exactly who she is."

=This= was why people got married, she thought, digging into
her own tray. Because they realized they'd finally found the
life that, while certainly not perfect, was perfect for


"Your love is better than chocolate, better than anything
else that I've tried." - Sarah McLachlan, "Ice Cream"


Over the next few days, Scully remembered how to laugh
without feeling guilty about it.

After their first night together proved successful, they
spent barely a moment apart. If they weren't at his
apartment, they were at Samantha and Charlie's house, or
laying in the park cloud gazing, or sitting in the back of a
dark movie theater, making out like teenagers, except when
the movie was entertaining.

Mulder had asked her early on if she wanted some time to
herself. She'd told him no. For the last few years she'd had
nothing but time to herself. And she enjoyed his company so
much. He was fun, smart, witty, sexy, and he made her feel
like someone special. It had been a very long time since
she'd felt special.

Each morning, they woke up wrapped around each other. They
made love without saying a word, and only later, sated and
breathing heavy, did they exchange the most banal of morning

When it was time for showers, they took them together.
Scully marveled that she'd never known how sensual it was to
wash a man's hair, and then have him wash hers. Especially
when that man was Mulder. Everything he did seemed sensual
to her. Having his hands in her hair, massaging, sifting,
scratching, was enough to turn her legs to Jell-O, her
insides to goo, and send her hormones crashing through the

Despite popular opinion, it was a lot easier to make love
against the wall of a shower than most people thought.
Particularly when the man was tall and capable of lifting
heavy objects, and the woman was petite and able to support
most of her weight with her upper body.

Another thing she was learning was that Mulder was a
die-hard, unrepentant chocoholic. Which was blissful,
because she couldn't keep her hands off the stuff either.
The confession had come from him first when she woke in the
middle of the night to the sound of a candy bar wrapper
crackling. Caught, Snickers in hand, he'd had no choice but
to come clean.

He'd been forgiven as soon as he gave her half, and the next
day they had made a trip to the grocery store. His apartment
was now filled with more chocolate than a class full of
preschoolers could possibly consume and they both agreed it
wouldn't last them more than a week. That same day they
started jogging through the park together in the mornings.
Exercise, they'd both learned years ago, was the only way a
true chocoholic could do battle with the calories.

She also found that Mulder had the best way of eating
chocolate. The nightstand near the bed was always well
stocked, but when they weren't munching on M&Ms and watching
bad TV late one night, Mulder was hit with inspiration. He
began eating M&Ms, mini Reese's peanut butter cups, anything
that would melt directly off certain parts of her anatomy.
If the chocolate started to melt against the heat of her
skin, it just made him happier, because he got to devote
more time to that particular area.

This was a fabulous idea, she thought, so they began trading
off. Far too much chocolate was consumed that night, and
they made a rule, the first rule that had ever existed
between them: They were only allowed to cover each other in
chocolate once a month. She did not allow herself to think
about what it meant that they were dealing with their
relationship in terms of months, rather than days. It was
hard to adhere to, even though it was for the best. They'd
both be huge blimps if they did it as often as she was
beginning to crave a chocolate-covered Mulder . . .

All in all, the five days since they'd become lovers were
exactly what Scully had envisioned them to be from the
beginning. Carefree, fun, hot and completely liberating.

They were also things she'd never thought they could be.
Emotional, loving, tender, earth shattering, and with the
promise of more to come. The promise, especially, had taken
her by surprise.

Never did they discuss when things would end. Whether he
would return to his nomadic lifestyle, whether she would
find a home of her own and once again take Kelly on
full-time, whether a time would come when they'd no longer
be lovers. She couldn't fathom it, let alone discuss it with
him. Instead, they sat in the two huge, comfy chairs in
Samantha's living room and cracked open separate books to
read. Or they opened up their laptops, he to write, she to
receive and respond to emails from colleagues.

Mostly, she found herself growing wary. It was like waiting
for the other shoe to drop. Life was =perfect=. The only
thing missing was Kelly, and there were times Scully forgot
her promise not to introduce someone into the child's life
that might not stay. She wanted them to get to know each
other, these two people who were the most important in the
world to her. And, while she'd resisted the state's
psychiatric care for Kelly, she wondered if Mulder might be
able to help her.

The truly dangerous thing was, she was beginning to feel
like they were husband and wife. They were acting like it,
too. He rinsed the dishes and handed them off to her. She
loaded them into the dishwasher. After they'd both tripped
over the boxes in his apartment for the fifth time, she
helped him shove them all against walls, so that there was a
big open space in the middle of his living room. Then they
went to Ikea and bought furniture. A couch, a table, a big
screen TV, and a home computer so he didn't have to work on
his laptop all the time.

And it hadn't just been the act of buying furniture, either.
They'd argued over what would look better and, in the end,
had gotten something that was a compromise of what they'd
both said. It was only after everything was set up, his head
was in her lap on the new couch and they were watching "When
Harry Met Sally" on the big screen TV that it hit her. It's
=his= couch, =his= apartment, why should it matter what her
tastes were?

But it had. It had mattered more to him than it ever had to
Jack. He valued her opinion, he treated her as an equal, and
he acted as though her place in his life was a given, a
choice neither of them had to make because it had been
decided a long time ago. The rational part of her
personality rebelled against this, but the wistful little
girl who'd dreamed of happily ever after dissolves was sold.
That little girl could dig her feet in, too. More than once
she'd overruled the grown up.

However, the truly interesting thing was, the grown up
inside her wasn't putting up too much of a protest, either.
The grown up had gotten very used to foot massages at night,
being fed chocolate during sex, getting sex on a regular
basis, and feeling remarkably safe and comfortable just
being with a man. There was no pressure to make
conversation, no fear that she might do something wrong
around him. It was just . . .

Good. It was all so fucking good.

If only she could stop staring up at the sky, looking for
falling shoes.


"I think it's getting to the point where I can be myself
again, I think it's getting to the point, where we have
almost made amends, I think it's getting to the point that
is the hardest part."-Bare Naked Ladies, Call & Answer


On the fifth day Mulder woke up beside Dana Scully,
something wonderful happened.

They had spent the night with Samantha and Charlie. His baby
sister had never been above childlike indulgences, even
after she hit thirty, and in that spirit, they had a slumber

The obvious affection and camaraderie Sam and Charlie held
for one another warmed Mulder's heart. It was good that
she'd found someone worthy of her. Someone who would
completely support and enjoy the idea of watching favorite
movies, popping popcorn, eating junk food and sleeping on
her living room floor in sleeping bags.

Neither Mulder nor Scully had fessed up to the fact that
they'd been eating chocolate nonstop for the past five days.
They just stared at the pile of sugar Sam procured, and
silently agreed to spend =two= hours in the park the next

It turned out that getting enough exercise would =not= be a

At promptly nine-thirty AM the next morning, a ringing
doorbell awakened them all from the floor.

As he opened his eyes, he found Scully staring right at him.
His sister was making the same waking noises she'd made
since she was a baby, but he couldn't take his eyes off of
Scully's. She was barely touching him, her hand resting over
his ribcage, but her eyes . . . Lying on their sides, face
to face as they were, he felt as though he were looking into
her soul. There wasn't fear, like he was becoming accustomed
to when he got this kind of a glimpse into her eyes.

There might have even been love.

After ignoring it the first time, Samantha nudged Charlie
out of their bag and rolled over to wrap Mulder's back in a
good morning hug. His silent contemplation of the look of
utter acceptance and love on Scully's face interrupted, they
both wished Sam a good morning. She must have noticed the
same look on Scully's face, because Sam immediately rolled
back over and attempted to make herself invisible.

Charlie appeared in the living room again, trailing Melissa
and Kelly. Melissa was babbling about how packed the store
was today, and that they expected the crowds to get even
bigger after noon. She would =not= be able to take care of
Kelly today and as her explanation continued, Mulder had
taken his eyes off Scully to watch Kelly.

The little girl did not spare Scully a glance, but instead
of choosing any one of a dozen places to sit, she headed for
the piece of floor directly at Scully's feet, snagged the
remote and turned the TV on. A station that was showing
"Tiny Toon Adventures," caught her eye and she left it

Crawling on his stomach, Mulder moved until his shoulders
were even with Kelly's legs. "Hi," he said quietly.

Her eyes didn't so much as flicker away from the TV. "Hi,"
she said back, setting the remote aside.

"Hi Kelly," Scully added timidly. Mulder contained a wince.
She was trying to be careful, treading lightly around Kelly.
But what she intended to be respectful of the girl's
personal space, Kelly saw as hesitancy. An unwillingness to
be in the situation she was in.

Kelly turned away from the TV to glance behind her at
Scully. "Hi Dana." Her eyes skittered away immediately and
once again focused intently on the adventures of Buster and
Babs. Internally sighing, Mulder looked to the TV for
answers. Unfortunately, it held none, and he reminded
himself that he'd have to tread very carefully this time.

He loved all of his patients; especially the children. That
was, perhaps, not a wise way to go about his work. But it
was the only way he knew to help. If he didn't truly care
about their lives, how were they supposed to?

The love he felt for Kelly was different. It wasn't the love
of a doctor trying to heal someone. It was almost an
extension of the love he felt for Scully. If he ever had to
guess what a prospective father felt like, moments after
learning his wife was pregnant, this would be his frame of

He didn't think Scully even realized how much she talked
about her . . . daughter. There, he'd thought it. She
related to him how well Kelly did in school, the way she
drew better than any of the other kids, how beautiful she
was. The pride that filled her eyes as she spoke of her
could not have been clearer. Yet still, she refused to speak
of Kelly as her daughter. Scully thought of herself as
Kelly's mother, yet labeling Kelly as a daughter presented
some kind of problem.

He wondered if Kelly was picking up on that. It might even
be the reason she was still holding herself back. Because
that was exactly what she did, with every fiber of her
being. He'd never seen such self-control in a six-year-old.
It was unnatural and never failed to cause him heartache at
what horrors must have been inflicted for a child to
exercise more self-discipline than most adults he knew.

Scully's hand began slowly stroking the back of Kelly's
hair. That touch held so much restrained love. He tried to
figure out a way to tell her not to restrain what she felt.
But that, he feared, would do =her= more harm. Scully needed
to be restrained in her emotional responses. She needed to
be sure she controlled what she felt, thought, and said.
Anything less would put her at serious emotional risk.

Kelly needed the one thing he wasn't sure Scully was ready
to give yet. And he couldn't really explain it to either one
of them, because frankly, it wasn't his place to say a damn
thing about the way she chose to raise Kelly. She had not
asked for his help, either personally or professionally, and
until she did he would have to keep his mouth shut.

He would risk alienating her if he stepped out of line. And
if that happened, not only would he lose the best thing that
had ever happened to him, but he wouldn't be able to help
either one of them. Selfish motivations often mixed with
unselfish ones when dealing with affairs of the heart, he

Her voice, when she finally spoke again, startled him.

"Fox and I were going to go to the park today. Would you
like to come with us?"

Heart breaking for her, he watched Kelly's profile as the
light from the TV flickered over her face. She may have
appeared absorbed in the show, but he was willing to bet she
couldn't have told you what characters were on the screen if
her life depended on it. There was a mixture of quiet
anticipation, reserved excitement, and frightened hope on
her face.

"Okay." He only recognized the relief at having been asked
because he'd heard it in the voice of a dozen other children
over the years.

"Are you sure you want me to come?" He wasn't sure which one
of these two females he was asking. "I mean, if the two of
you would like some time alone, I could stay here with--"

"No." It had been spoken quickly, by both of them at once.
Puzzled, he looked between them for a moment before it
became clear: he was a buffer.

Fox Mulder, Human Buffer. He'd take that job. With these
two, he'd take anything he could get.


Chapter 12- Swing Therapy

"And if you call, I will answer. And if you fall, I'll pick
you up. And if you court this disaster, I'll point you
home." -Bare Naked Ladies, Call & Answer


Scully was being introspective; he could just tell.

Not that it took someone with a psychology degree to see it.
The deep thoughts were written all over her face and he
could see her clearly, even from twenty feet away.

Kelly came back toward him, and he gave her a firm push,
watching as she soared away again. From what he could see
and hear from her, she was enjoying herself. He remembered
doing this with Sam whenever one of them had been feeling
down. They'd head down to the park and swing, for hours if
necessary, and let the freedom of the activity take away the
bad things.

Swinging in a park was one of Dr. Mulder's biggest therapy

"I can do it myself now," he heard Kelly squeal - actually
=squeal,= he thought with something close to glee - as he
let her go, her legs kicking smoothly as she continued to
soar above his head.

He got Scully's attention and inclined his head in silent
invitation - join us. Shaking her head, she politely
declined. Sighing, he sat heavily in the swing next to
Kelly. The child, so mature for her age, had refused to sit
in one of the "kids seats." Instead, she hopped onto one of
the regular swings and showed herself quite capable of
handling it.

They'd arrived at the park nearly an hour ago. At first,
Scully had stuck close to them, trying desperately to please
Kelly. Nothing she did seemed to have an effect. After the
sixth or seventh non-response from Kelly, she finally gave
up and sat on that bench. Mulder took Kelly to the swings.
She seemed to be warming up to him and Charlie both,
evidenced by the eventful breakfast they'd all shared.

For the millionth time in his life, he thanked God for his
little sister.

What had been a slightly tense situation was completely
disarmed by Samantha's personality. Kelly had been very
quietly watching cartoons. Everyone else had dressed, and
Charlie was making breakfast. All four of them were walking
around Kelly like she was made of glass. Samantha had never
liked to treat anyone as fragile, so she plopped down next
to Kelly and asked her what was wrong. Kelly said nothing,
and Samantha asked why she was ignoring everyone.

Unable to give a good answer, Kelly had joined them all for
breakfast. He saw the look of hurt on Scully's face. She had
asked Kelly if she wanted breakfast twice, and both times,
the little girl had said no.

Digging his toe in the dirt, Mulder ransacked every corner
of his mind, trying to find something that would help Scully
let go of this fear of failure she carried around with her
like a badge. Kelly could feel that fear, as though it were
a living, breathing entity between them. It kept them from
connecting, kept Kelly from trusting Scully as her new
mother, and kept Scully from letting go of the past long
enough to bond with Kelly as a daughter.

While he'd never seen a situation that exactly paralleled
this one, he had one experience to draw on. Jennifer Lamb, a
beautiful young girl who'd lost her mother. Her father had
passed away a few months after she was born, and only a year
before her death, her mother had married another man. They
weren't quite used to each other yet, although there was a
strong like between them. The bond wasn't yet formed and the
one person they could have formed it through was gone.

No one like that even existed in this equation. Kelly hadn't
known her father and her mother was dead. She carried around
scars from that experience, scars that had no hope of
healing unless someone found a way to break past her shell.

He was reminded, not for the first time, of Rachel Hayes.
Kelly was not as closed off as Rachel had been, but still,
part of him felt as though Kelly was his karmic chance to
make things right. He had been unable to help Rachel, unable
to save her despite how hard he'd tried, but Kelly was here.
Rather than wallow in guilt and self-recriminations, he
could help make sure both Scully and her =daughter= were
given a chance at a good life.

And, once again adding his own selfish motivations, that
life would hopefully be with him.

Mulder was so caught up in his own thoughts, he didn't even
notice when Kelly came to a stop and began imitating his
pose, toe making little circles in the dirt. "Did you know
my dad?"

The one thing he'd learned, above all others, about dealing
with children: they never asked the easy questions.

"No," he answered slowly. He resisted the urge to ask, "Did

Her response almost made him chuckle. "Me neither." Before
he could formulate a question to keep the lines of
communication open, she continued, "Mom had me meet him
once. He wouldn't look at me. Just kept yelling at her,
wanting to know why we wouldn't go away."

"Has Dana talked to you about your father?" he asked
quietly, wanting to clear up any misconceptions she might
have, but unwilling to step on Scully's parental toes.

"She said he was very sick and sorry that he couldn't be
with me. But that it was for the best." She did a fair
imitation of Scully.

That was good, he thought, matching the non-swings Kelly was
making. "Do you ever want to see him?"

Immediately she shook her head. "He wasn't nice," was all
she would say on that subject.

"What kind of ice cream do you like?"

They'd been quiet for so long he hadn't expected her to open
the conversation again so soon. "Chocolate," he answered
without thinking.

"That's boring," she pronounced.

"Classic," he corrected automatically, giving her a little
grin. "Chocolate is classic."

Returning his smile, she resembled an actual little girl,
happy to talk about the nonsense of life. "I like vanilla."

"Vanilla? And you were giving me a hard time for

A giggle. Oh God, there were now three women he loved to
hear laugh. "I like gummie bears on it."

"I'm a purist. Nothing but chocolate." From what little
Scully had told him, Kelly had lived alone with her mother.
She didn't go to school before Scully found her and had
never really had anyone but her mother in her life. The fact
that she was adapting as well as she was to her current
situation was a testament to her character.

"I'm going to be seven next year." He'd gotten used to the
rapid-fire topic changes years ago.

"I'm going to be thirty-nine," he shared.

"That's old."

A sigh. "Yes, it is." A beat. "Have you been having fun with

"Her shop is cool. And she's real nice."

He heard the unspoken but. An internal debate was waged. He
was unsure whether to probe into this further, or let her
be. On the one hand, he didn't want to push her farther than
she could go, but he also didn't know when an opportunity
like this might present itself again. A little girl's tongue
wasn't loosened by the sensation of flying every day, you

"Do you like living with Dana?" It was not just the kids who
asked the easy questions.

She chewed on the inside of her cheek. "I like it," she
finally said. "My room is nice. Dana asked me what I wanted
it to look like, we went and found my bed and everything. I
don't really miss it, though. Mom and I moved a lot. Men
were always yelling at her, saying that she hadn't paid for
months and that we'd have to leave." This was all said as
though it were one sentence, her words running together,
expressing her apprehension toward the subject better than
she ever could have.

"It's no fun having to move."

"Dana moved a lot when she was little," Kelly informed him.
"Her Daddy had to move and they moved with him."

"Kelly," he began tentatively, "do you ever wish that you
could be sure you'd never have to move again, unless you
wanted to?"

After a few seconds of silence, Kelly's head bobbed up and
down vigorously. Carefully, he placed a hand on her head and
stroked the back of it gently. She turned her head up and
her eyes were wide and wet. There was no blood between them,
but she bore a striking resemblance to Scully at that

"Dana loves you very much," he told her quietly.

Her gaze averted, she once again stared at her shoes. He
continued to stroke her hair softly. Damn, but she wanted so
badly to believe that Scully loved her. It was written all
over her face, in her very posture.

"She was very hurt and she doesn't know how to show you, but
she does. All she wants is for you both to be happy."

"My dad said it was my fault he and Dana weren't happy."

Mulder straightened in his swing. That was not information
he'd been expecting. "When did he tell you that?" he asked

"He didn't tell me. I just heard." Her head shot up
guiltily. "I didn't mean to listen--"

"It's all right," he soothed gently. "No one is mad at you,
certainly not me."

"He hurt mommy," she spoke in a very quiet voice. "He was
yelling at her when he hurt her."

"And he was yelling about Dana?"

Nodding, she wiped the back of her hand over her nose,
sniffling. She didn't cry, though. Somewhere inside her, he
knew, she must understand what it was she witnessed. But she
was protecting herself from the knowledge. The part of him
that loved her on a personal level wanted nothing more than
to protect her from it forever, but as a professional, he
knew that door needed to be unlocked for her own good.

"Do you want to tell me about that day?"

Her head started shaking before the question had completely
left his mouth. He'd expected as much, but he had to try.
"Dana doesn't want me," she surprised him by saying.

"I promise you . . ." He trailed off as she refused to look
at him. "Kelly." He spoke her name gently but firmly,
injecting the authority she needed to hear before she'd
respond. Reluctantly, she looked up at him, waiting. "I
promise you," he repeated with feeling, "Dana wants you. She
loves you and there's nothing she wants more than for the
two of you to be happy together."

She didn't seem to believe him. That was all right. He
didn't expect her to yet. The seed had been planted, and
with a little care from the people in her life who loved
her, it would grow until her doubts couldn't hurt her like
this anymore. Hopping up from his swing, he stood behind her
and placed his hands on her shoulders.

"That's enough of this for now," he told her quietly. "Would
you like to fly again?"

Leaning her head back until she could look at him, a big
grin split across her face. "Please," she affirmed politely.

He returned her grin and pecked her on the forehead
affectionately. He pulled her back by her shoulders as far
as he could, and let go again. It only took a few pushes
from him before she was operating the swing completely on
her own again. As he stepped away from her to keep from
being hit, he jumped a bit when a hand touched his arm.

"Sorry," Scully apologized.

"No harm," he answered, moving a few swings down from Kelly,
but close enough to keep an eye on her. This time, she
accepted his silent offer to swing, and they both took a

"You two seemed to be deep in conversation," she observed
after a few silent moments of half-hearted swinging.

"Girl talk," he quipped, watching her carefully out of the
corner of his eye.

"I don't know how to make things better for her." Her voice
was honest and the hopeless tone made him ache. "And I'm
beginning to wonder if I'm the right person to help her."

"Scully, you're the only person who can help her." He spoke
before he thought better of it.

"Mulder, your theory about children bonding with the people
who rescue them, while definitely intriguing, does not apply
to us."

"I wasn't referring to my theory, although I think you're
wrong. It most certainly applies to you and Kelly. She
witnessed something very bad and you were the person who
found her and brought her out of it." They began to swing a
little more, but never so much that they couldn't catch
themselves; their feet on the ground could always stop them
dead. "But you're so much more to her than a savior."

"I wish that were true," she said quietly.

"It is. Scully, you're the one who's been there with her for
the last ten months. You're the one who's held her hand and
kept the monsters in the closet at bay. That little girl
who's pretending to fly right now loves you, Scully, and
she's terrified that you don't love her back." He paused for
a moment until he was sure he had her attention. "Have you
ever told her that you love her?"

She almost said yes. It was automatic, he could tell, but
because they were staring so intently at one another, she
really thought about it. The amazement that crossed her
face, the guilt, made him want to enfold her in his arms.
But they needed to talk; there would be time for comfort
later. Right now, she and Kelly both needed his professional

"I didn't want her to feel obligated to love me; to give
something she wasn't ready to. I didn't want her to feel
smothered, or think that I was trying to take her mother's
place." Those furrow lines he would normally kiss away
appeared between her brows as she searched her memory. "I've
always been affectionate with her, physically. I tried to
give her free will, as much as a six-year-old can handle.
And I told her that if she wanted to live with me, she could
. . . Oh God, Mulder." Panicked, her eyes focused on his.
"What have I done to her?"

"Nothing," he said quickly. "Scully, her problems are not
your fault, any more than yours are hers. Have you ever felt
that way, even in the beginning? Resentful of her?"

"No. Never." The lady's tone left no room for misconception.

Satisfied, he nodded. "Then the next step is to go about
fixing the damage. Tell her you love her. Make sure she
knows that she's living with you, not because she wants to,
but because =you= want her to."

"Is that your professional opinion, Doctor?"

Her voice was almost teasing and he looked down at his feet,
feeling a bit sheepish. He glanced over at Kelly, who had
slowed some and made mental note to get up and give her
another push in a minute. Or, better yet, have Scully do it.

"I know it was unsolicited," he began slowly, only to have
Scully place a hand on his shoulder.

"Thank you," she said quietly, and with feeling. "I don't
know - I can't even imagine - what we would have done if
we'd never met you."

"I can honestly say that it's my pleasure." His voice was
raw with the emotion he felt at her words. Amazing how
Scully could evoke the most stereotypical responses. "It's
always going to be my pleasure, Scully," he added softly,
hoping she understood what he was trying to say.

If he read her eyes right, she did. Carefully, she licked
her lips and stared down at her hands, which were worrying
her coat between them. Finally, she looked back up at him
and tried to form words. "Mulder."

Before she could say more, however, a boy of about twelve or
thirteen tackled her and they both crashed down to the
ground. Mulder was out of his swing in a hurry, crouching
down next to them. "Are you all right?" he asked Scully as
he helped her up.

"Yeah," she muttered, looking toward the boy. "Are you?"

"I'm fine. That guy over there gave me twenty bucks to do
it." With a grin, he ran away.

Mulder felt his heart tighten and his blood quicken. There
was something very, very wrong. The unease spread as he spun
around, scanning the park quickly but efficiently.


Her voice barely registered as his eyes finally landed on
the bank of swings, one in particular, now empty, swinging
back and forth in a most ominous way.

Kelly was gone.


"Nothing before, nothing behind; the steps of faith fall on
the seeming void and find the rock beneath." -John Greenleaf


This is what hell must be like.

The thought repeated continuously through Scully's mind as
she sat at Samantha's kitchen table, trying to ignore the
hustle and bustle of activity all around her. Besides
Mulder, Samantha, Charlie and Melissa, who had refused to
leave her alone for a second from the moment Mulder and
Scully arrived back from the park, she had to tune out the
entire Pasadena Police Department.

A detective, Jonathon Lamb, Mulder told her, was a good
friend of his. When they called the police, he'd spoken
directly to Lamb. He outlined in a voice that directly
conflicted with the panic she felt exactly what had
happened. Lamb met them at the park. She and Mulder had
already begun combing the park, asking anyone and everyone
if they'd seen a little girl who looked as though she was
being removed by force.

Things like how you were supposed to react in a crisis was
so ingrained during the Academy, she supposed you didn't
forget them.

The only useful piece of information they gleaned was a
rough description of the suspect. Once Lamb arrived, the
woman who had seen Kelly with a tall man, forty to
forty-five, sporting no facial hair and no distinguishing
features she could see, left a number she could be contacted
at and quickly left the scene. Lamb, Mulder, and Scully
agreed almost simultaneously that the boy running into
Scully was a deliberate part of Kelly's abduction.

Lamb called several other officers and they descended upon
Sam and Charlie's home. Samantha had been nothing but
accommodating, and Charlie was completely unwilling to leave
his big sister alone for a minute. Her nerves worn
completely bare, Scully had sent Mulder a pleading look that
clearly communicated her need: get all these
well-intentioned people the fuck away from me. He, in turn,
communicated the same look to his sister, and together, they
managed to clear the kitchen.

So here Scully sat, alone at the kitchen table, desperately
trying not to completely break down. It had been two short
hours since Kelly simply vanished and she felt every second
of it like a scalpel slicing through her skin.  She wouldn't
be surprised if, later, she found scars all over her body.
The headache that had been gnawing behind her eyes all day
spread in an all-encompassing blanket over her entire head.
It pounded in time with the accelerated beating of her

"Do you need anything?"

Glancing up at Mulder where he stood in the doorway, she
tried to find the right words to express what she needed.
Kelly back, safe and sound, was all she could come up with,
and there was nothing he could do about that, at least, not
at the moment. Shaking her head, feeling absurdly
disappointed in herself for being unable to think of
something, she began taking deep breaths to keep the sob
bubbling beneath the surface at bay.

Mulder was crouching by her side in less than ten seconds
and his hands rested over hers on her lap. "It's okay to
cry, Scully."

"No, it's not." Her tongue darted out and licked at the
corner of her mouth. "If I start, I may never stop."

This day had started out so much differently. It had been
filled with such hopeful promise of things to come. In his
eyes, still unfocused and beautiful from sleep, she had seen
the love and acceptance he felt for her. And in the way she
felt with him, the comfort and excitement she felt just
lying next to him, she could almost foresee a time when fear
would not rule her every decision.

In a split second, that fear returned, with a vengeance.

He took one of her hands between both of his and brought it
to his mouth, cradling it with the utmost care. He pressed
his lips to her knuckles, her fingertips, the inside of her
wrist, before placing a final kiss to her palm and resting
her hand against his cheek.

"I love you." He said it with such quiet sincerity that she
had no choice but to believe him. "I know it's not the most
appropriate time to say so, but I do. And I love Kelly.
Scully, we will find her and we will bring her back."

He must have been so comforting to the victims he had to
visit as an FBI Agent. His very posture inspired trust and
calm. Changing careers so suddenly would seem like suicide
to some. Even without Rachel Hayes, she suspected he would
have gotten bored with one occupation after awhile. He
craved very few things. A life that challenged him; the love
of someone he trusted, the chance to help others in his day
to day existence. She knew this about him, loved it about

"Don't make promises you might not be able to keep." She
tried so hard to make her voice sound hard and cold. But
instead, it emerged as little more than a plea. Don't,
Mulder, don't let me get my hopes up. I couldn't live with
another loss like this. I already lost myself once. I can't
lose me again, just when you've helped me rediscover who
that is.

"We've got something."

Lamb interrupted whatever reply Mulder had been about to
make. They both leapt to their feet and walked toward him.

"Does the name Ray Elders mean anything to either of you?"

Scully's eyes snapped toward Mulder's face as it completely
drained of color. "Are you sure?" His voice was raspy,
barely there.

"We got something solid from a woman at the supermarket
across from the park. She saw a little girl being locked
into a van. She said the girl was struggling, she got
worried and called the police. She wrote down the license
plate and we traced it to Elders."

"Any sign of it now?" Scully felt herself slip into Special
Agent mode. Seven years later and she could still do it
almost effortlessly. Sometimes, she did still miss the job.

"I've got an ex-partner on the Barstow PD. They found it on
the side of the road about an hour out of Baker. No sign of
another vehicle, but we're working on it. We're coordinating
with the Barstow PD as we speak." Lamb's eyes cut to Mulder.
"Fox, if another twenty-four hours go by, I suggest you
contact any friends you may have left at the Bureau."

Mulder nodded his acknowledgement and Lamb disappeared back
into the living room. Scully felt cold, irrational rage
bubbling up inside her. She tried to push it back, but it
was too much. It was all too much.

"Scully, I'm so sorry," he whispered.

The genuine sorrow she heard in his voice only served to
make her angrier. Goddamn his intrusion in her life. Goddamn
him for making her care about him, for making her want a
different life than the one she'd decided on. Goddamn him
for coaxing her into letting down her guard, into letting
him inside her very soul until she started to trust him.
Goddamn him for the pain she was feeling now, the raw, never
ending, all consuming pain. And goddamn him for bringing Ray
Elders into Kelly's life.

A small, barely rational part of her tried to tell her this
wasn't his fault. He wasn't responsible for a psychopath and
he had been through enough pain at Elders' hands. But she
couldn't be rational. There was a swelling, aching ball of
rage inside her, desperately clawing to get out.

"I will never forgive you if I lose her."

He flinched, as if she'd physically slapped him. Might as
well have, she thought bitterly. Oh, God, why was she doing
this to him? She knew it wasn't his fault. She didn't blame
him, really. She was angry at everyone and everything, but
she didn't blame him. He wasn't a danger to her or Kelly.
And he loved them. God, he =loved= them. He'd actually said
the words. He wasn't the type of man to use words he didn't

She hadn't thought herself the type of woman who would,
either. But here she was, staring at him with what her
brother Bill liked to call "cold, icy blue, dick
shriveling," eyes, threatening him with words she would
never mean. It occurred to her at that moment how long it
had been since she'd seen Bill, and that she really missed
him. He was away at sea, but maybe she'd write him a nice,
long letter, detailing the status of her new life.

That was, when she figured it all out. And of course, she
wouldn't write it now, because saying, "Well, my main focus
at the moment is finding wherever some psychopath has taken
my little girl. My second focus is trying damned hard not to
take it all out on the most wonderful man I've ever met in
my life. I'm in the process of ripping his heart out as I
write this. How's sea life, Bill?" would =not= bode well.

Another thought occurred to her, right on top of the last,
that perhaps she was not thinking in the most logical
manner. She sunk down onto the kitchen floor and the sob
she'd managed to suppress earlier shuddered through her
lungs. Sucking in great, gulping gasps of air, tears began
to run, unchecked, down her cheeks. Well, Dana old girl, the
dam has broken, the floodgates are open and there's no going
back now, is there?

But there was. There was a way to go back, a way to hang on
to sanity a little while longer, at least until they found
Kelly. And he was standing in the kitchen, hands balled into
fists at his side to keep from reaching for her, radiating
his desire to help, to heal, to make her whole again.
Blindly, she flailed out her arm and grasped one of his
tight hands with her own. Uncurling his fingers with her
own, she gripped them tightly and tugged with as much heave
as she could manage.

He fell to her side on the floor and wrapped his long,
solid, wonderfully safe feeling arms around her. Practically
crawling into his lap, she clutched at his forearm where it
rested above her breasts and regulated her breathing with
great effort. The hysteria passed, along with the urge to
cry, after only a few moments in his arms. She drew strength
from him, allowed him to ground her, and that brought the
terror she'd been experiencing at how easily he seeped past
her defenses screaming back.

But she did not pull away. Not because she wasn't a coward,
or because she was trying to confront her fears.  No, she
didn't pull back because she couldn't. Her bones were weak,
her muscles unresponsive to the commands she gave. Her body,
it seemed, wanted to stay exactly where it was. And when
Mulder began whispering soft, soothing words into her hair,
feathering the gentlest kisses over her brow, her mind
reluctantly agreed to stay right where it was.

At least for a little while longer.


Chapter 13- Goodnight Moon

"You only see what your eyes want to see. How can life be
what you want it to be? You're frozen, when your heart's not
open." - Madonna, "Frozen"


The next day and a half passed in a blur of good intentions,
well-meaning assurances, nail-biting tension and soul
crushing worry. All involved were walking on eggshells
around Scully. All of them, that was, except Mulder. He
absolutely refused to treat her with kid gloves, and that
fact alone endeared him to her further.

And that just pissed her off.

She was supposed to be worrying about Kelly, devoting all
her thoughts and energy to bringing her back. Every time her
mind drifted toward thoughts of Mulder, of their
relationship, whatever that was, she felt immeasurably
guilty. Her heart was bleeding and she had no means to
suture the wound. Only finding Kelly, safe and sound, would
begin to fix the damage.

Samantha cooked a lot. Every day, she was baking and
sautéing and simmering. It was her distraction. Charlie
bullied the cops into working harder. Scully tried to get
him to stop, tried to explain that they were working as hard
as they could, but to no avail. Mulder was the one who got
her to stop trying, because it was what Charlie needed to
do. Melissa meditated and sent out positive vibes to Kelly.
She sat in a small room toward the back of the house,
candles lit, a single crystal clutched in her palm.

Mulder, it seemed, passed his time by watching Scully. His
constant scrutiny was starting to wear thin. At the same
time, she found his presence comforting. It was the only
thing that kept her from screaming until she was hoarse.
Mostly, she couldn't stand how badly she needed him. And she
certainly couldn't =tell= him that. He was already committed
to never leaving. If he knew how badly she wanted him,
needed him in her life, he never would.

She had made a decision during this excruciating waiting

Love was not enough to sustain a lasting relationship. There
had to be more. Mulder, the beautiful, frustrating,
unrelenting man who was still staring at her from across the
kitchen table, deserved more. And she would never be able to
give it to him. If the way she'd reacted to this crisis
proved anything to her, it was that she was totally
incapable of sustaining the kind of loving, giving
relationship he needed.

In times of darkest nights, your lover was the one person
you were supposed to be able to turn to. They were the
shelter you could spend a fortnight inside to regroup and
strengthen your soul for the trials by fire ahead. You were
supposed to hit a wall, and, rather than let it take you
down, climb over it and bask in the beauty and contentment
that is the other side.

Her ability to do that had been greatly impaired. She was
ready to admit defeat. She was ready to let go of every
shred of hope she had for a future that contained anything
but career and Kelly. Once before she'd made that promise to
herself, but she hadn't been truthful. Obviously, there had
been a small trace of idealism inside her, because Mulder
found it and nurtured it until it grew. Until she had
actually begun to see a light at the end of the tunnel.

And now, when she was so sure of the exact path she had to
take, he wouldn't go away. He wouldn't even put ten feet
between them. He also wouldn't touch her. At first, she'd
thought it was because he had been hurt by her words the day
before. But now she was beginning to understand the real

He wouldn't touch her until she asked him to.

Never date a psychologist. That had been one of Melissa's
rules after being psychoanalyzed over coffee and scones.
Scully felt as though she was under a microscope sometimes
when he looked at her like this. When his eyes seemed to
bore through her skin to see all the dark and ugly places
inside. She felt dark and ugly, unworthy of such a beautiful
man. Broken, she was far too broken to be what he needed.

For his own good, she would end things between them as soon
as they found Kelly. This action was in his best interest,
but she also wasn't so far in denial that she didn't
recognize how much she needed him. She did not believe she
would be able to get through this without him. Afterward,
she'd somehow find a way to exist in the capacity she had
before, as had been her plan from the beginning.

And always, she would remember the man who made her believe
in love again.


"Nothing before, nothing behind; the steps of faith fall on
the seeming void and find the rock beneath." -John Greenleaf


He didn't like that look on her face.

Stop staring at her then, jackass, he ordered himself. With
a sigh, he wiped a hand over his face and tried not to feel
completely useless. Kelly had been gone for just under
thirty-six hours now. Every hour, like clockwork, he and
Scully would head into the living room, review each piece of
evidence and offer suggestions until they were once again
ejected by the police. Ex-FBI agents were not welcome in the
investigation process, especially when they were too close
to the situation.

Neither of them had slept, despite the urgings of both their
siblings. While he'd been on Scully's side before, he was
beginning to see the wisdom in at least shutting their eyes
in a horizontal position for a couple of hours. But he was
unwilling to go unless Scully did, and she showed no sign of
leaving her silent vigil.

Their gazes met over the table and he read the thoughts in
her eyes as easily as he would a book. Her misguided
altruism, the hatred she felt toward herself that matched,
if not surpassed, that of the fourteen-year -old girls he'd
counseled after coming out of abused homes. Whatever plan
she'd concocted for "saving" him from her horrible self was
clearly visible, and he hoped she read the determination in
his own eyes. That will not happen, Scully, he promised them
both silently. I won't leave unless =you= don't want me

"I think we should both lie down for awhile," he suggested

"I don't want to."

"I didn't ask what you wanted," he snapped, internally
cursing for losing his temper. She had been like this for
the past few hours. Disagreeing with everything he said,
unwilling to even listen. It was frustrating as hell, but he
understood why she was doing it. He should not be allowing
it to get to him like it was.

"Thank you for your consideration, but I'm fine where I am.
If you can sleep, go right ahead."

Her tone of voice made it quite clear that his ability to
sleep in this situation would be counted as a betrayal. She
was in so much pain. Lashing out was her only refuge, he
knew. He'd seen it a dozen times, though usually in the same
fourteen-year-old kids she reminded him of at this moment.
He wished to God that he knew a way to ease her pain.

"When Kelly gets back, she's going to need you. What good
are you going to be to her if you're dead on your feet?"

"I'll be fine. I went for seventy-two hour stretches without
so much as a catnap in Med. school and I was still able to
pass my finals."

"But you weren't required to tend to the needs of a very
young, very frightened girl." They were at opposite ends of
the table, staring each other down. Neither willing to give
an inch, but also totally unwilling to walk away. She
couldn't walk away yet, and when she could, he'd make sure
she didn't want to. "I won't sleep until you do."

That did it. It also gave him another interesting piece to
the enigma before him. When it came to her own well being,
the lack of care she showed was astounding. Yet, when it
came to him, to Kelly, her diligence to doing what was right
was admirable. If she wouldn't take care of herself, he
would do it for her. At least until he could help her give a
damn about what happened in her own life again.

All that could wait. It would take a lot of hard work and
concentration to build up her self-esteem, to eradicate the
fear and doubt he saw lurking behind her eyes. He knew she
wouldn't be ready to work on it until Kelly was safe. She
wouldn't be =able= to do much of anything but worry until
Kelly was safe. That was fine. As he'd promised her and
himself before, he would take care of her for as long as she
needed. And later, when she could do it for herself, he'd do
it on occasion simply because he wanted to.

"You aren't going to leave me alone, are you?" Her voice
sounded defeated. He didn't want that, didn't want her to
feel as though she had no choice but to capitulate to his
desires. But if it was the only way he could get her to rest
for awhile . . .

"No. I'm not."

Without another word, she pushed back her chair, rose, and
strode into the living room. He followed close behind as she
got a progress report from the police, then headed upstairs.
Despite her protests, once the thought of actually slipping
between the covers sunk in, he watched her visibly deflate
before his eyes. Her lids drooped and her movements became
sluggish by the time she reached her bedside.

When Scully had been still for too long, he moved to her
side. Her eyes were focused upon the small table next to the
bed. He tracked her line of sight and contained a deep sigh.
The small necklace Scully had purchased for Kelly just three
days ago sat in its blue velvet box, ready to be given just
as soon as its future owner was present.

"She'll love it, Scully." He spoke quietly, standing by her
side as unobtrusively as possible.

"When Melissa showed up so unexpectedly with Kelly, I
thought it was a good sign. We'd just gotten it for her.
That woman we bought it from said it was hand made. Do you
think it was really hand made?" Keep talking, or break down.
It was an easy choice.

"I do," he replied. Had his life depended on it, he would
not have answered any other way.

"It's a dream catcher, whatever that is," she muttered. "It
looks like something Melissa would sell in her shop, and
Kelly really seems to like it at Missy's shop . . . I
suppose I thought that maybe . . . maybe if I gave her
something like that she might like me, too."

"Scully, she does like you," he murmured, testing a theory
as he moved his hands to her blouse. Just as he thought, she
didn't seem to notice the touch and he quickly began to
strip her of her clothes.

"No she doesn't, not really," she argued, seemingly unaware,
or uninterested in the fact that he was undressing her.

It didn't really matter. He was intent on getting her out of
the clothes she'd been in for a day and a half, and into
bed. Her cooperation was optional. Turning, he moved to the
bureau and rooted around until he found a large, purple silk
pajama top. He grabbed the matching bottoms and returned to
her side. Sitting her down on the bed, he dressed her as he
would a small child, one step at a time.

"I'm not going to argue with you right now, Scully. One of
us is at a distinct disadvantage; though I don't think I
could tell you which one if someone paid me to," he added
under his breath.

Drawing back the covers, he helped her into a horizontal
position and tucked the blanket beneath her arms.

"Stay with me."

He hadn't planned on going anywhere, but her plaintive
whisper banished all thoughts of sleeping on the floor.
Quickly shedding his own clothes until he wore only a
t-shirt and boxers, he climbed into bed beside her. Facing
her profile, he once again physically reined in the urge to
touch her. Her signals were confusing, but crystal clear:
stay close, but not too close. Close enough to touch, but
only if I want you to.

There was nothing he could do to bring Kelly back. At least,
not yet. That was in the hands of the police, and whatever
deity might exist out there. What he was capable of doing
was keeping Scully alive, healthy, and relatively stable so
she would be able to give Kelly the care and devotion she
would need when she =was= found.

To even imagine a scenario where Kelly was not found was
currently beyond his ability to fathom.

"It's like a really bad nightmare."

He blinked and her face came into better focus. Her words
were pointed, he knew, and he searched his memory, his
interpretation of subtlety for the answer.

It came, like most realizations, as a slap in the face. Ever
so slowly, he brought his hand to her forehead and began
tracing her skin with the very tips of his fingers. Her eyes
fluttered shut almost immediately, and he followed their
descent, stroking over the flesh surrounding her ocular
cavity. Soon, he moved to her cheeks, chin, temples, and
every other place he could find to soothe.

It was a routine they established after they discovered
their mutual penchant for nightmares. Minds capable of vivid
imagination, vivid recall, were often cursed with vivid,
horrific dreams. Theirs were no exception, and in the short
time they'd been sleeping together, they had stumbled into a
pattern: He would rub her face, or her back, or her feet,
and she would do the same for him. And if the nightmares
were especially bad, they would tell each other stories.

Her tone implied that she most certainly believed she
deserved a story.

He told the first one that came to mind. "Dream catchers,"
he began in a low, soothing tone, "are believed to be
guardians, of sorts, over our subconscious while we sleep.
Native Americans believe that, if hung by a window near the
bed while you slumber, the object will "catch" all the bad
dreams in its net, leaving only the good to travel to the
mind of the dreamer."

Watching her breathing deepen, he allowed himself a small
smile of relief. At least she was resting. And if the dream
catcher didn't work, he would keep the bad dreams at bay as
best that he could.

"Once, a young boy in the Anasazi tribe would not sleep, his
dreams were so terrifying. His mother, concerned for her
child, sat up nights with him, desperately trying to think
of a way to protect him from the monsters of his own making
. . ."


In the great green room there was a telephone and a red
balloon and a picture of the cow jumping over the moon. And
there were three little bears sitting on chairs and two
little kittens and a pair of mittens. And a little toy house
and a young mouse and a comb and a brush and a bowl full of
mush, and a quiet old lady who was whispering, "hush."


The words kept circling through his mind, stealing his
ability to rest. Scully slept soundly beside him. Her even
breathing had almost lulled him to sleep an hour ago, but
his conscious mind, his own psyche would not allow it. The
third time his inability to stay still seemed to disturb
Scully, he rolled out of bed and went to sit by the window.
He was loath to leave her, but his mind would not let him
be. His memories were cascading over each other, gnawing at
him until he allowed them passage to the surface.

On the table by the window he found a pen and paper. Using
the light from the moon he scribbled a note for Scully and
placed it on top of his pillow beside her on the bed. Under
normal circumstances he wouldn't have bothered. Obviously,
if he wasn't in bed he was somewhere else in the house. But
these weren't normal circumstances; her tolerance was worn
to the bone and he didn't want to upset her more than she
already was.

With much reluctance, he pulled on a pair of sweat pants
and, after a final fleeting glance at Scully, he left the
room. Padding down the hall, he listened for one of
Charlie's tapes outside his sister's room. So far, they had
been treated to clandestine recordings of Charlie's "Tape of
Love," the "Essential Blues," and "Uplifting Melodies." His
brows furrowed together as he listened through the door. Add
"Seventies Crap" to that play list, he thought dryly as he
bypassed the door and headed down the stairs.

Two officers were catching catnaps in easy chairs. Maps,
files, and doughnuts decorated the coffee tables and several
other officers were still diligently at work. Mulder
considered joining them, but immediately rejected the idea.
His mind was too occupied to be any good to their search. He
continued into the kitchen. He almost changed his mind when
the only person he found at the table was Melissa.

"Join me?"

"Sure," he answered, finding no polite way to decline. His
apprehension was based on an unknown fear, his professional
self supplied helpfully. If Scully found a way to blame him
for what happened to Kelly, what would Melissa, someone who
didn't know him from Adam, think?

As he sat beside her at the table, she poured him a cup of
tea. "Inhale before you drink," she told him. "Trust me, it

He took her advice and made an appreciative noise as he took
a sip. "This is good."

"You sound surprised."

"I guess I am," he admitted, taking another sip of the tea.

Goodnight room, goodnight moon, goodnight cow jumping over
the moon. Goodnight light and the red balloon, goodnight
bears, goodnight chairs. Goodnight kittens and goodnight
mittens, goodnight clocks and goodnight socks. Goodnight
little house and goodnight little mouse. Goodnight comb and
goodnight brush, goodnight nobody, goodnight mush, and
goodnight to the old lady whispering, "Hush."


His eyes slammed shut and he tried like hell not to let his
reaction show outwardly. That was all he needed, to have
Scully's sister witness him breaking down.

"You're not to blame, you know," she said quietly.

His head snapped up so sharply that he heard something
crack. Melissa's eyes were like Scully's, but they were
calmer, more at peace. He felt like she saw straight inside
him and the feeling was more than uncomfortable. It
disconcerted him in more ways than he could say.

"Why do you think I'm blaming myself?" He asked the question
carefully, just as he'd been trained to do, not giving away
how he felt about the subject. At least, he hoped his own
uneasiness was concealed. Given how he felt, he wouldn't bet
money on his ability to be enigmatic.

"I don't think; I know. Anyone willing to listen to his or
her own intuition could see it," she informed him. "What I
can't figure out is why on earth you'd think that you're in
any way responsible for this horrible situation."

"I brought the monster into Dana's life; into Kelly's life."
Internally, he raged at that half-truth. It wasn't a lie,
but it wasn't the entire reason he blamed himself.

She stared at him for longer than politeness dictated.
Finally, she stood and placed both their cups in the sink.
"I'd like to show you something." Without waiting for a
response from him, she walked out of the room.

He listened to her footfalls, although he needn't have
bothered. She was going to that little room his sister had
willingly given up to her. Sighing, Mulder rose and followed
her. He was too curious not to, and the fact that she was
Scully's sister made him want to trust her, no matter how
bizarre she seemed.

Not bothering to knock, he entered her room and shut the
door behind him. It took his eyes only a moment to adjust to
the dim lighting. Candles were the only source of light and
the flames bounced off the dozen or so crystals hanging from
everywhere. A dream catcher hung from the window, and Mulder
couldn't contain a smile, remembering Scully's reasons for
buying the necklace for Kelly.

Melissa sat amongst a few pillows on the floor. There was a
circle of candles around her, big enough to fit three or
four adults inside. Her eyes met his and she motioned for
him to join her. Debating only a moment, Mulder sat Indian
style across from her inside the circle. It only surprised
him a little bit when she immediately grasped his hands.

"What did you want to show me?"

"What I do in here all day; why I'm not giving Dana my full
attention. And hopefully, a way to help you let go of your
guilt." One of her hands dropped his and she lit a stick of
incense. "Clarity," she said in explanation.

"Whether or not I feel guilty is unimportant. All that
matters right now is getting Kelly back."

"And do you honestly think the negative energy you're
sending out will help us do that any faster?"

"Negative energy? I've been nothing but positive from the

"On the outside, yes. But on the inside . . . Fox, can't you
see that you're dying a little bit every minute that goes

"Sorry to disappoint you, oh great Swami, but I just had a
checkup and I'm healthy as Mr. Ed."

"Mr. Ed is a bottle of Elmer's glue by now and there are
other deaths just as significant as death of the body." She
spoke harshly and he felt her concern. It shouldn't have
surprised him, he thought. True, she barely knew him. But he
felt the same way about his patients. He had felt that way
about Kelly the moment he met her.

"So you're saying . . . what? That my soul is dying?" He
tried to make his voice mocking. He didn't quite succeed.
There was too much truth to her accusation. His eyes must
have transmitted that because she visibly softened.

"Not to sound overly dramatic, but . . . yes. It's
undernourished. I tried to tell Dana the same thing, but she
shut me down within seconds. I'm a little surprised you've
lasted this long."

He shrugged, wishing he could shrug off her concerns as
easily. "A young girl named Rachel Hayes was Elders' first
victim. I should have saved her. I couldn't. I guess part of
what I'm feeling over Kelly has to do with that."

"You weren't responsible for Rachel's death any more than
you're responsible for Kelly's disappearance." An almost
whimsical smile crossed her face. "Although, I don't suppose
you'll believe me when I say to you exactly what you say to
your patients."

"I've said it to myself a thousand times," he confessed,
finding it easy to talk to this woman. There was something
about unburdening your soul to someone who seemed to already
know what you were going to say that was liberating. "I just
can't seem to make myself believe."

"Have you talked to Dana?"

He glanced up at her briefly, then back down to the
flickering flames of the nearest candle. "A little. I don't
. . . I don't want to burden her with this. There's so much
pain she already has to deal with . . . and now Kelly . . ."

"Maybe she'd welcome the distraction."

Mulder chuckled. "You would have made a great shrink."

"Nah. I'm too weird."

"That's what they said about me," he quipped lightly. He
rubbed a hand over the back of his neck wearily. "Have you
ever read Goodnight Moon?"

"I don't think any red-blooded American hasn't."

"My father used to read to us at night, and after awhile,
when his work took him away, I would read to Samantha. It
was our favorite." It wasn't until he paused to collect his
thoughts that he realized one of Melissa's hands still held
his firmly. It was nice change of pace. He loved his sister,
and he felt he could tell her anything. But she had a kind
of manic energy that made stillness a very hard goal to

"What is it about Goodnight Moon that's bringing you so much

"Rachel and I were locked together for a long time. After
awhile, I would do anything, say anything just to get her to
stay with me. I don't know where she went, but . . ." He
cleared his throat. "It was obviously preferable to where we

"You told her a story," Melissa realized, her voice soft.

"Goodnight Moon," he confirmed. "Over and over because after
awhile, I needed something to concentrate on, too." His eyes
filled with tears and he covered his mouth with his free
hand, trying to compose himself. "I hear her telling me the
story in my mind," he whispered. "I can't sleep, I can
barely concentrate on anything else. It just keeps getting
worse and I know I'm being of no help to Scully, I don't
even know how to help her, and that's never happened to me
before. I always know how to help . . ."

"Everyone but yourself," Melissa observed. "When was the
last time you helped yourself, Fox?"

"A year ago," he whispered, offering no other answers.
Whatever else he could say was too personal. He didn't feel
comfortable sharing it, not even with the scary yet
comforting psychic sister of the woman he was in love with.

"Dana doesn't really blame you."

That, more than anything, made the tears harder to fight.
"Maybe she should."

"You feel responsible for Dana."

"No," he denied automatically.

"You do. There's nothing wrong with it. It's only natural
that we feel responsible for the ones we love."

He didn't try to deny her claim. It would have been useless
to deny how he felt about Scully, even to someone who
=wasn't= psychic.

"She doesn't want me to feel responsible for her." He didn't
even realize it was true until the words left his mouth.

"Oh, if you only knew," Melissa murmured. "I know my sister.
And whether she can admit it or not, she loves you very
much." She squeezed his hand. "No matter what she may say or
do, I beg you, Fox, please remember that. Believe it. She
needs someone to believe in her so badly."

"I do," he replied, his voice barely a whisper.

They were both silent for a moment. As he inhaled the air,
Mulder felt what she was talking about. Clarity; clarity of
the mind and of the spirit was like a physical presence in
the room. Melissa had created for herself a temple where she
could pray and concentrate on Kelly's safe return. He turned
amazed eyes toward her.

"I do not pray to God, but I do pray," she told him quietly.
"Would you pray with me, Fox? For a little while?"

Once again, he placed his hands in hers. Their eyes drifted
shut and he concentrated on something indefinable from
inside his soul. "Thank you," he whispered after a time,
realizing she had given him the greatest of gifts as they
prayed together silently.

She allowed him to feel as though he had been of some help.

"You're welcome, Fox," she assured him, her voice wrapping
around his senses, taking him inside his own self in a way
he'd never been before. In that place he felt a calm settle
over him, and he heard Rachel softly speaking. Her voice was
content, childlike with an innocence he had never heard in
her before.

Goodnight stars, goodnight air, goodnight noises everywhere.

He couldn't wait to tell Scully that her sister was magical.


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