Quis Si - cont

By Trixie

Chapter 14- Erratic Dispositions 'R Us

"Is it sleeping in the hallway, does it cry all night alone?
Is it selling itself for money, does it want, does it want
to come home? Then I saw the world, wounded deep and curled
up on my sidewalk . . . And I found my place in line and I
shouted no talk. But then men all painted and proud, their
words empty and loud, are trying hard to sell my dream. They
tell me it's gone." -Melissa Etheridge, "My Back Door"


When she awoke, it was from a dream as insubstantial as the
grasp she had on sanity.

Mostly, it was impressions and emotions. But on the
outskirts clung the half-realized imaginings of utter
terror. Kelly was still gone and waking from a nightmare
about it wasn't going to change things. The current state of
affairs between herself and Mulder was still tense -- most
if not all of that tension being her fault. She didn't even
have the strength to be sorry for it. Maybe later she would
be able to experience remorse again.

Numbness crept through her veins like ice water, cooling her
skin to the touch, chilling from the inside out. Her heart,
if she even had one anymore, was dangerously close to
shattering. Only the knowledge that Kelly might have some
use for her in the future kept her tethered to this world.
That, and the almost tangible cords she felt tying her to
Fox Mulder.

Damn him. Why did it all come back to Mulder? Every thought
she had, every feeling she tried to interpret toward
something else, ultimately returned to the man that she most
wanted to eradicate from her conscious mind. His imprint may
have been burned into her memory, but memories could be shut
off, at least for a little while. No, Mulder must have
grafted himself somewhere more permanent.

Maybe a mold of his being had been seared onto her soul.

Eyes blinking open finally, she focused on the neon green
light that told her the time was 3:39 AM. The nightmares
=had= been subdued. They retained the same level of terror,
but it was a mystical terror, a fog that surrounded her but
didn't thrust her into wakefulness. For that, she was
minimally grateful. Much as she hated to admit it, she had
needed the rest. Six hours sleep would buy her another
thirty-six on her feet. She made a mental note to thank
Mulder for his bullying.


You're slipping, Dana, she chastised herself. She should
have noticed he wasn't there before she completely gained
consciousness. Her heart tripped a little and she gave
herself an internal smack upside the head. Goddamn it, it
wasn't like someone kidnapped him from their bed . . .

Two intensely troubling thoughts hit her at once. One, Kelly
had been taken from barely six feet away; and two, she had
just referred to the bed she slept in as =their= bed, rather
than her bed.

In her own mind, she'd begun to think of the bed at Mulder's
apartment as their bed, too. Hell, she'd begun to think of
his apartment as home.

You're already scaring yourself, Dana. Might as well be
=completely= honest, here in the quiet solitude of this

He felt like home. Everywhere she could smell him felt like
home. Anywhere she could look into his eyes felt warm and
comfortable. There wasn't a place on earth that wouldn't
feel safe from inside the cocoon of his embrace. The pure
hell she'd been experiencing from the moment she realized
Kelly was gone became almost bearable from the shelter of
his arms. His voice, telling her stories to put her to sleep
had =worked,= and she had been sure that there would be no
rest for her until Kelly was found.

Tears welled in her eyes. Confusion, despair and fear fought
to be King of her emotional upheaval. She wasn't proud of
her only action to battle these emotions, but it was all she
had. Turning her head to the side, she buried it in Mulder's
vacated pillow and inhaled deeply, filling her lungs with
his scent, letting it envelope her senses until each
negative emotion was made less somehow.

Another negative emotion came to the surface, however, when
she got a tiny little paper cut on the tip of her nose.
Making a disgruntled sound, she flipped on the small bedside
lamp and looked down at the note on Mulder's pillow.

He left me a note.

It wasn't a flashy note, wasn't anything special. It didn't
contain a poem or even any reassurance beyond the obvious -
'I'm bothering the cops. If you can't sleep any longer, come
join me.' It told her he was okay, unharmed and waiting for
her, should she choose to come to him. Clutching her fist,
the note crumpled and she tried to convince herself again
that it didn't matter.

But he had left it because he knew her emotional state was
not up to par. A psychologist to his core, a healer in every
sense of the word, she could not manage to shut off her own
reactions to him. How did you stop loving someone like that?
How were you supposed to get over and move past such a
beautiful spirit?

Funny, but 'it's for his own good' wasn't holding as much
water as it used to.

"You're awake."

Glancing up, she was only mildly surprised that she hadn't
heard the door open. Mulder stood there, holding a tray with
what looked like tea loaded on it. He offered her a hesitant
smile and she returned it as best she could.

"Got your note."

He acknowledged her statement by turning his smile almost
sheepish as he entered the room fully and shut the door
behind him. "Your sister made some tea."

"It's her own recipe. She won't tell anyone what's in it.
Claims there's some magic at work."

"Wouldn't surprise me in the least," he answered, taking a
seat at the foot of the bed and setting the tray between
them. Close, but not too close. Respecting her personal
boundaries while invading them at the same time. Did they
teach you that in school, Mulder, or were you a natural born
head shrinker?

Taking the cup he offered, she sipped at the tea then set it
aside. Something was up with Mulder. He was watching her
carefully, betraying a slight nervousness to his posture.

"They think someone spotted Elders' car."

"What?! When? Why didn't you tell me?"

"A few minutes ago, and I'm in here telling you now," he
responded calmly. "They aren't even sure and if you weren't
already awake I wouldn't have told you until they were."

Logically, he was right. She knew that. But she was
desperate for any information about Kelly. Even a false lead
would at least give her something to focus on, to hope for.
Save for never getting Kelly back, alive and well, the death
of hope was the most frightening prospect she faced.

"I don't like not knowing," she admitted quietly, reining in
her temper. It would be so easy to snap right now. And
Mulder wouldn't hold it against her. He'd let her yell and
scream and hit him until she was drained. How fair was that
to him? He deserved better. He deserves better than you,
Dana, she repeated, trying to drive the point home. Stop
reconsidering the only rational decision you've made. He
deserves better and you have to let him go.

"A woman at the California Nevada border said she saw a man
fitting Elders' description stop at a McDonald's. He was
driving a van, and she said she saw a child inside. When the
door opened, the girl tried to get out and it seemed to her
that the man forcibly kept her in the van, despite her
cries. It was suspicious, she called it in, and those guys
are watching every report on this coast so closely that they
spotted it in fifteen minutes."

"I'm so grateful to them. I've never seen a group of
officers work that hard."

"Lamb's a good man. He's got good men all around him."

Lamb. The last name finally clicked in her head. "Didn't you
tell me about a patient--"

"Jennifer Lamb," he cut in, smiling slightly. "Nice to know
you aren't tuning me out when I talk like it sometimes

His voice was teasing and she felt herself respond to it.
"Oh, I am. I just happened to remember catching the name."

"Ah." He let it go then, seriousness creeping over his
features. "Jonathon is Jennifer's step-father and I'm proud
to say they're as close as can be now. He always said if I
ever needed a favor, something that needed the full
attention of the entire police force, if need be . . ."

"So you called in a marker for Kelly."

"I'd call in every marker I have for Kelly," he assured her
in a quiet, sincere tone.

Maybe I could let my heart win the war, she thought giddily.
She shut down that voice in due haste. It wouldn't do either
of them any good. He was talking again. And she could tell
what he was going say. And she was totally unprepared to
have this conversation with him.

"Scully, I know we haven't talked much about what will
happen after we find Kelly, but I want you to know - I need
you to know, that--"

"Look, Mulder, whatever it is, I can't deal with it right
now." If ever. "My main focus right now is Kelly." That is,
when I can get you out of my head for thirty seconds. "After
we find her . . . I promise, we'll talk." I'll let you down
easy as soon as I don't need to cling to you every second.
I'll make you see it's the best thing for both of us. And
I'll try my damnedest to make sure both our hearts emerge
relatively unbroken.

He was about to push the issue. After a few seconds of
heated debate, he was going to overrule her protests and
leap in with both feet. Declaring undying loyalty and
devotion, or something equally gallant and completely in
character. A knock at the door prevented him from speaking.
Thank God for other people in the world, she thought with
genuine gratitude.

"Yeah, what?"

Lamb poked his head in the door. "It wasn't a dead end. I
think we've got him."


There were no flights leaving immediately. Chartering a
plane would have taken too long. It was faster to drive.
Lamb was accomplished. He gunned the engine, used his police
siren, and with Mulder and Scully firmly implanted in the
back seat of the car, they hit the California/Nevada border
in a little under three hours.

The ride was spent mostly in silence. Lamb's partner,
Jessica Gomez, sat at his side. She kept him steadily
supplied with coffee and navigated like a pro. Scully kept
rhythm with her fingers against the top of her thigh. After
the first hour, Mulder grew irritated by the nearly
imperceptible sound, snatched her hand up and held it firmly
in his. He softened the movement with his eyes and Scully
moved closer to him.

They arrived at a casino colorfully dubbed Whiskey Pete's.
As promised, it sat just beyond the California border across
from an equally colorful Prima Donna. There was a large
yellow roller coaster and a quaint Ferris wheel, yet it
filled all four occupants of the dusty sedan with
trepidation. Several black and whites sat in the parking
lot, waiting, with looks of sympathy on their faces.

Mulder placed his hand to Scully's lower back as they
walked. He didn't know why he did it and she didn't know why
she found it so comforting; grounding. It was a simple
thing. As they walked, his hand didn't even touch her body,
merely hovering centimeters away. But she knew it was there,
he knew it was there and that, it seemed, was enough.

An officer Chen greeted them. She explained the current
situation. The tourist from Florida who had been up all
night at the slot machines, watching the news between pulls
of the lever and pushes of the button. How he had recognized
Elders from the reports and noticed Kelly's diminutive frame
next to the much larger man. Suspicious, he had phoned the

Squad cars had arrived within minutes. Elders saw them and
ran. They pursued, though not too closely, fearful of taking
a shot with Kelly so close and vulnerable. Finally, he
dodged the right way and ended up in a section of Whiskey
Pete's called the Midway. Usually empty, it was designed for
the entertainment of children. Games were played with
stuffed animals as the prize and that's where Elders had
Kelly, holed up, with a gun he stole from a security guard.

"Is one of you Fox Mulder?" Chen asked as she finished the

"I am."

"Good news then."

"Why is that?" Scully asked.

Chen looked from Mulder, to Scully, then back again. "Cause
you're the only one he wants to talk to."


"I'm not letting you go in there alone."

"John, we've got no other choice," Mulder argued. "He won't
talk to the police. This is about me. About what went down
between us."

"Look, ex-FBI or no, I can't let an unarmed civilian walk
into a hostage situation. It's suicide! I could lose my
badge!" Lamb was in charge until the FBI arrived. Mulder
tried to tell himself his friend was just doing his job. It
didn't work.

"I know this guy!" Mulder glanced at Scully who was sitting
quietly to the side, talking to Officer Chen. He realized
how loud he'd been and made a conscious effort to turn down
the volume. "He will kill her. I believe it with every fiber
of my being. I've been inside his head and I'm telling you,
it's not a pretty place. I won't let her die, not because
you were too obsessed with rules and regulations to let me
save her!"

"Goddamn it, Fox, you know it's not about rules and
regulations!" Lamb, too, lowered the pitch of his voice.
"It's an unstable situation and I'd be crazy to let you go
in there alone. That gives him one more hostage to negotiate

"But I want to. You can assure your chief, the FBI, and
anyone else that cares that I'm not going to turn around and
sue the fucking department. I just want to go in there and
bring Kelly out. Come on, John," he cajoled. "You =owe= me."

"Low blow," Lamb accused. "And I don't care what I owe you.
I =owe= you too much to let you get yourself killed."

"Is that your final decision?"

Both men looked over to Scully, who had finally spoken. She
was holding Chen's hand, seemingly letting the other woman
comfort her. Mulder's eyes narrowed. That wasn't like
Scully. She barely let =him= touch her and they were lovers.
He shifted mental gears and steered his thought away from
the true meaning and ramification of the term lovers.

Lamb's voice gentled considerably when he spoke to Scully.
Mulder smirked a little. People looked at her and forgot she
used to be FBI, too. They thought she was so frail. "It is.
You and Fox both will do more good if you keep out of the
line of fire."

Scully nodded, and if it had been anyone else, Mulder would
have been sure she was accepting Lamb's decision. Oh shit,
he thought, and gravitated toward her. He was too late,

He had never seen anyone move that fast.

The hand Scully held Chen's in tightened suddenly and pulled
backwards. Her right hand snatched the gun from Chen's side
before the other woman knew what was happening. Scully
sprang up and turned toward Lamb and Mulder, gun held like
an expert. Some things never go away, Mulder thought
absently as he moved closer to her.

"No one," she said in a deadly calm tone that enveloped the
whole room, "is going to put Kelly's life at more risk than
it already is. Not for rules, and not for badges." She
looked Mulder straight in the eye, piercing his heart with
the wild determination he saw. "Are you sure?"

He knew what she was asking. Last chance, Mulder. You sure
you want to risk your life for this? You sure you're ready
to come face to face with this man with such ability to hurt
you? You sure you wouldn't rather get the hell out while you
still can? You sure you wouldn't rather leave this neurotic
woman and the little girl in her care to their own devices?

For a thousand reasons, he kept walking toward her. He loved
her, he owed her, this was his fault, he never intended to
leave her, an innocent child's life hung in the balance and
he was the only one who could do anything about it. Reaching
her side, he turned to face Lamb and Chen who both wore
identical stunned expressions.

"I'm sure," he answered and, as one, they backed toward the
door Elders and Kelly stood behind.

"Fox," Lamb sputtered.

"Everything will be okay, John," Mulder assured him in the
same tone he would use to talk a jumper off a high building.
"I vaguely remember how to negotiate myself out of a hostage

"Be careful," Lamb hissed, his partner entering the room.

"What's going on?" Gomez asked.

"They're going in," Lamb answered, resigned.


That was the last Mulder heard. He and Scully were inside
the room. His eyes were drawn to the games on the far wall.
A place for children. Somewhere they could play safely while
their parents gambled away their futures. Forcing bitter
thoughts away, they began to move. Scully placed the gun in
the back of her jeans, well out of the line of sight.

"You realize there's no going back now, right, Scully?"

She glanced up at him briefly, then scanned the room again.
"This isn't the time or the place, Mulder," she informed
him, avoiding both connotations his question posed.

"I can't think of a better time, actually," he said lightly.
Too lightly. He was trying too hard to pacify her. Treating
her like a glass egg wasn't going to help her. It allowed
her to remain reserved and out of the line of fire. So long
as she kept her emotions in check, she could continue to
hide from him.

"I can," she snapped, interrupting his internal musings.
"This doesn't mean anything beyond the fact that we're
getting Kelly out of here. You're helping me because you're
the only one who can."

"It means more than that and you know it," he shot back as
he continued to look for Elders. Fuck, he thought, glancing
around. There were too many twists and turns to this place.
It wasn't a small room they could contain. Hell, he might
not even be in here anymore.

"I don't know anything of the kind," she argued.

"We're tied to each other, Scully, whether you can face it
yet or not," he reminded her. He needed to get her to
acknowledge that simple fact. "And even if we hadn't been
before, this thing we're doing now, this territory we're
entering into cements it."

"It's completely different," she insisted. "This is about
Kelly. Everything else is about . . ."

"About what?" he pushed, one eye on her, everything else
focused on their surroundings. He'd forgotten what this was
like. The rush of adrenaline, the ability to carry on with
life in the most perilous of situations. It was all so
fucking familiar, yet light years from the person he was

"Shh." She held a hand up and he cocked his head. He was
just about to say he didn't hear anything when, suddenly, he
did. Softly, from the corner next to a booth that looked
like balloon darts. It was whimpering. A child whimpering.

"Kelly," he whispered.

They crossed the room at a jog. He reached Kelly a moment
before Scully did and his stomach clenched at the same time
his heart leapt into his throat. Elders had handcuffed her,
same as he did Rachel, to some kind of piping coming out the
side of the wall. Cursing internally for not having thought
to bring handcuff keys, Mulder crouched beside Kelly's left
side where she was tied. Scully landed to her right and he
forced himself not to start bawling at the look on her face.

"Sweetie," she whispered, bringing a hand to Kelly's
forehead. Kelly flinched, but didn't say a word. "Kelly,
it's Dana. Can you hear me?"

A whimper was her only answer. "She's in shock," Mulder

"I can see that," Scully snapped.

He tried to physically rip the pipe from the wall. It
wouldn't budge. He nearly slapped his own forehead in
frustration. Of course. Scully's gun. They could shoot the
chain with it.

"Quit pullin' at that pipe, FBI. It won't give. I checked it
out 'fore I strapped the little monster to it."

Mulder froze and his blood ran cold.


That voice haunted his nightmares even more than Rachel's
did. It was just a different breed of haunting. His voice
was coming from the left and Mulder subtly moved his body so
that if Elders went nuts and started firing, he would most
likely be hit. Hopefully, Scully would be able to retrieve
her weapon fast enough to take Elders out and escape with

"Oh wait, that's right. You ain't FBI no more, is ya? Huhn.
Heard you went back to school, tryin' to get in and take
care of my sister's brat. Well. Looks like you owe me some
thanks. One less ingrate for ya to worry about."

"As I understand it, you weren't held responsible for
Rachel's death, Ray." Mulder didn't know how he managed to
speak. Bile rose in his mouth and he felt like gagging. Talk
him down, he repeated silently. He's in charge. Identify
with him. Keep him calm.

"Nope. Betcha blame yourself, huh? You ever think you coulda
done something different?"

"Sure, Ray," Mulder replied easily, turning his back to
Kelly in order to look Elders in the eye. Maintain eye
contact. Always assume the suspect is close to cracking.
Handle with kid gloves. Never use the word no. "Everyone
wishes they'd done something different."

"Y'know why I went back and saw her?" Something glinted in
his eyes. Evil, Mulder realized, having recognized it so
many times before.

"Why, Ray?" The use of the suspect's first name creates an
illusion of familiarity. He caught Scully out of the corner
of his eye. She, too, had seen the gun in Elders' hand. He
tried to communicate to her not to go for her gun yet. It
wasn't time. He prayed she understood.

"Cause you sent me to prison. You forced my poor sister to
go through more pain by havin' to keep that brat alive, even
though she wasn't even there. Goddamn vegetable," he

"Why this, Ray? What are we doing here?" Don't let the
suspect's words hit close to home. Remove yourself from the
situation on a personal level. You're just a conduit. The
middle man, responsible for bringing the conflict to its
inevitable end.

"I been waitin' for you to settle down. You just kept
movin'. Never had anyone too close to 'ya, 'cept for your
sister. That wasn't right, though. I'd never hurt a man's
sister. Just not right," he repeated.

"A man can't go against his morals." Keep him talking. Above
all else, =keep him talking.=

"Finally, though, all my waitin' paid off. Cause you met
her." He nodded toward Scully and Mulder followed his line
of sight. Like him, she was protecting Kelly with her body.
Between the two of them, the child was completely obscured.
Kelly's eyes were vacant and he almost took it as a
blessing. "I figured out who she was. Name was all over that
conference you met her at."

Jesus. Elders had been =stalking= him and he'd never
noticed? Did he walk around =stoned= all the time? Mulder
turned his head, looked at Scully and shut his eyes.
Breathe. Clarity, Mulder, clarity. He thanked Melissa
mentally and regained control over his breathing in seconds.
Once again, he focused on Elders.

"That's very resourceful of you, Ray." Eye contact. First
name. Calm tone. We can work it out. No one has to die here.

"Heh. Didn't feel right still, though. Then I saw ya at the
park together. I saw her. That little brat. And I figured
I'd let you chase after another one. See how it feels to
wonder what you coulda done different all over again. Not to
mention save her," again, he indicated Scully, "from a life
of servin' the ungrateful garbage."

"I love her." It was the first time Scully had spoke and
both Mulder and Elders turned to look at her sharply. "I
love her," she said more clearly, her voice remaining
neutral. "It hurts me . . . so much to think of losing her."

Elders shook his head sadly. "Don't you see? That's how my
sister was, too. Couldn't see how her life was bein' pissed

"You're a very good brother, Ray," Scully continued.

"Yeah." His eyes shifted between Mulder and Scully. "You got
any brothers?"

"I have two."

"They'd know. Hell, Foxy, you should know. Your sister ain't
got no kids, so you ain't never seen her at her worse. You
ain't never seen her cryin' cause she can't make the rent.
You ain't never seen her run down cause her brat's sucked
all the life outta her."

"That's right, Ray, I haven't." Fuck, I almost said no. Do
NOT use the word no, even if you're agreeing with him.

"You don't know nothin'. And now you're trying to play Mr.
Family, right? You'll be there for awhile, then you'll get
tired of 'em." He looked at Scully again. "He'll get tired a
you. Your looks'll go and he'll decide to get a younger
model, you'll excuse the expression. And then you'll be
stuck with the kid, all on your own, and it'll break ya."

"I was on my own with her before I met Mulder, Ray." Good,
Scully, thank God you were FBI . . . "It would be the same
as it was before."

"Yeah, well, my sister never had that chance. She never got
used to doin' it all on her own. And that husband a hers
just stopped comin' home some nights. He'd come and take the
brat out, sure. But he didn't want nothin' to do with my
poor sister." Elders rage seemed to focus itself on Mulder
again. "You're just like him. You'll do the same thing to
her." Back to Scully again. "Where's your brothers? Why
ain't they protectin' you?"

Erratic, Mulder thought. He's about to lose it. Running out
of time. Won't be able to negotiate the situation. Suspect
is too irrational.

"My brothers are in the Navy, Ray," she explained. "They're
serving our country."

"Oh. Well, that's mighty decent of 'em. Good boys. They
should be here, though, they should be takin' care a their
sister." He nodded, coming to a decision, it seemed.

Running out of time . . .

"I'll hafta do it for 'em. We brothers gotta stick
together." He smiled at her, as though it were some kind of
joke she should appreciate.

"Ray," Mulder began hesitantly.

"SHUT UP! Just shut your damn mouth!" Elders brought his gun
close to Mulder's face. "This is all your fault, Mr. Ex-FBI
Foxy Boy! I went to prison cause a you! My sister had to
spend three more years cryin' her eyes out cause a you! And
now, this woman here, she's gonna end up like my sister,
cryin' her eyes out, all cause a YOU!"

He could smell the fear and rage in the room. Boiling point
was how he privately referred to it in his profiling days.
The situation was stretched taut and it had to be brought to
a close.

"You're right, Ray. It's about me. It's all about me. And
you have me now. You have me exactly where you want me. So
why don't you let them go. Let them go, Ray, and it'll just
be you and me."

Eyes shifting, Mulder watched him consider it. There would
only be one shot at this. Whichever way it went, Kelly and
Scully had to make it out. It was the only surety he had in
his mind.

Finally, he reached a conclusion. "I'll let her go," he
said, jerking his head toward Scully.

"I won't--" she began.

"Deal," Mulder said, louder.

Scully's eyes crackled as they met his. Trust me, he
implored silently. It's the only way we're going to get out
of this alive. Trust me, please, Scully. Her mouth moved a
few times in a futile effort to speak. There was nothing to
say. At least, nothing that could be said at the moment.

"Go on," Ray said. "I ain't gonna give you much longer."

"Go on, Scully," Mulder said pointedly.

It had to be quick . . . clean . . . no room for hesitation
or error. Scully passed one last gentle hand over Kelly's
leg, even though the child didn't seem to feel it. Any
minute . . . wait for it . . . not too soon, not too late .
. . Scully rose and moved directly in front of him. And then
she stopped. With her back to him. As though they'd planned
it from the start.

Jesus, I love you.

Smooth. It has to be smooth. His right hand closed around
the butt of her gun. As soon as she felt it free of her
waistband she fell to the ground. He heard her knees crack
as she ducked and rolled and some distant part of his mind
hoped it didn't feel like it sounded. This was why movies
slowed down the action, he thought, ignoring the buzzing in
his ears. Every moment =did= feel like an eternity. He
couldn't possibly be moving fast enough, cleanly enough.

When you've fired a gun with any frequency, you don't
consciously take aim. It's all instinct. You are trained to
hit the perpetrator center mass, thus making it less likely
to miss. Therefore when Mulder finally snapped out of the
trance he'd been in enough to look at Elders, he was
un-surprised to see that the man had two bullet holes in him
- one in the right shoulder, the other just above his

But he was still alive.

And Mulder didn't know he if could let it go at that.

If he got off on a technicality . . . he would come after
Kelly again. No one would touch Kelly, not as long as Mulder
drew breath. And this man -- this =monster= -- would not
hesitate. He had =stalked= him, for years it sounded like.
That much focus, that much concentration didn't just go
away. There was no redemption for this man, no help. There
couldn't be. He would do it again.


Snap out of it. Get a grip. Breathe. Clarity. Be rational.
Don't leap before you look. Don't act before you consider.
Amazing what the inflection in someone's voice could convey.
Scully rose in his peripheral vision, came to stand at his

"Mulder, he's down," she whispered. She was right. Elders
was unconscious. He posed no immediate threat.

"He could still hurt her." He didn't even recognize his own
voice. Hell, he hadn't put thought into speaking. The words
just poured out. Deepest fears. Blurring Kelly and Rachel in
his mind. His emotions were so raw where they were both
concerned. He could still hurt her. He hurt Rachel. Even
after it was all over, he had found a way to destroy her.
That couldn't happen to Kelly. He had to keep her safe this

"Mulder, they have him dead to rights. It's not like
before." Her hand, so gentle, so firm on his forearm,
calming him, bringing him back. "Don't let him do this to
you. Don't let him take away your life. We've got him."

He began to lower the gun as he heard footsteps sound
outside the door. When Lamb and his team broke through the
door, the gun fell from his fingers to the floor.

I win, he thought. I win, you son of a bitch, and you lose.

I'm sorry, Rachel. I'm sorry it took this long.

Turning away as Lamb cuffed Elders, Mulder and Scully once
again crouched beside Kelly. The paramedics descended on
Elders, then made a move toward Kelly. Mulder nearly
growled, his posture clearly telling them to back off. He
must have convinced them he could snap if pushed, because
they didn't come toward Kelly again. "I need a pair of cuff
keys!" Scully called out.

Chen tossed her a pair, sending Scully a glare that could
cut through glass. Scully quirked her eyebrows in apology,
though Mulder didn't think she really meant it. Of course,
he wasn't in the right state of mind to make judgments about
lunch meat, let alone tackling what Scully's facial
expressions meant. Instead, he concentrated on Kelly. He put
all his strength into figuring out how to bring her out of
this catatonic state.

She was free, but still she did not try to move away from
the wall. If anything, she huddled closer.  Scully's hands
were not idle, once again moving over Kelly, checking for
injuries. They both breathed huge sighs of relief when,
physically, she was relatively unharmed.

"Kelly." He kept his voice neutral, firm without being
dominating. "Kelly, you need to come back to us."

"Mulder," Scully whispered. "Please, you have to help her."

"I don't think I can," he said slowly.

Scully's head snapped up to meet his eyes. "What?"

"But I think you can," he continued. "Scully . . . you
formed a bond with this little girl the first time you found
her. That bond may be the only thing strong enough to bring
her back."

"Mulder, this is no time for some theory you've been mulling
over for the past few years--"

"This isn't about a theory!" His eyes gentled as he looked
at her. "And even if it was, it may be her only hope. You've
got to try, Scully." He knew she was irrational, pushed to
the edge and then some. The temptation to crash and burn
after the stress of the past few days was nearly
overwhelming. But she couldn't. Kelly couldn't afford it.

"Tell me what to do," she surprised him by saying. Although
he shouldn't have been surprised at all. She was so damned
strong; she wouldn't still be here if she weren't.

"Talk to her. Give her something to come back to."

Scully sat fully on the ground, Indian style, facing Kelly.
One of her hands began rhythmically stroking the hair back
from her head, the other took one of her much smaller hands
and held on tight. Good, he thought. The urge to be gentle,
to treat Kelly as fragile was hard to resist. But it was the
wrong message to send.

"Hold on tight," he whispered, though he was beginning to
think she already knew what to do. "Hold on tight and refuse
to let go."

"Kelly." She adopted the same tone he'd used earlier,
commanding but not threatening. "Kelly, sweetie, you have to
come back to us. There's nothing here that can hurt you and
I . . . I love you." Her eyes were filling with tears every
second Kelly didn't respond.

"Let it out, Scully," he urged. "It's now or never. Holding
back only hurts her."

"Shut up!" she hissed. "Just shut up! This isn't easy. I . .
. I don't know how . . ."

"Just do it! Just fucking do it, Scully! Don't think about
it, don't wonder if she's ready to hear it. Just say it!"

"I want you!" The tears were pouring down her cheeks now and
her hands shook as she perpetuated the physical bond between
Kelly and herself. "God, Kelly, I don't think I ever told
you that. Not the way you needed me to. I want you in my
life. I need you there. And not because I feel responsible,
or because there isn't anyone else. Baby, I love you. I love
you like you were my daughter . . .Kelly, you are, you're my
daughter now and I love you. Please . . . Please come back
to me. Please let me get this right. Let me have the

Bowing her head, Scully rested her cheek against Kelly's
shoulder, clutching the child's hands with both of hers.
Mulder ached for her, for both of them and he pressed a hand
to her hair.

"Don't cry, Mommy."

They both took an audible gasp of air. Mulder finally
noticed the officers standing around, watching this little
drama unfold. Interactive TV, he thought glibly before all
his attention was once again focused on the two people in
front of him.

"Kelly," she whispered, tracing her daughter's features

Biting her lip nervously, Kelly looked down. "It's . . .
it's okay if I call you that . . . right?"

"Sweetie," she whispered, pulling Kelly into her lap,
wrapping her in a bear hug.

"I am so honored to be your mommy."


Chapter 15- The Inherent Reality of Things

"Entreat me not to leave you, or to turn back from following
after you; for wherever you go, I will go; and wherever you
lodge, I will lodge; Your people shall be my people, and
your God, my God. Where you die, I will die, and there will
I be buried. The Lord do so to me, and more also, if
anything but death parts you and me." -Ruth 1:16-17


"I want Goodnight Moon."

He didn't explain the funny little look that crossed his
face when Kelly made the demand, but he could tell Scully
was curious. How could he explain it, really, without going
into a lot of things that could wait for later? Things she
didn't need to hear until they had talked about whatever it
was that had been going through her head since they left

The ride back hadn't been as quiet as the ride there. Kelly
had talked a bit about her time with Elders. From what she
told them, it seemed that he hadn't done more than yell at
her a few times and force her to go where she didn't want to
go. He was lucky, Mulder thought. Because if he'd hurt her
there wasn't a jail cell or judge in the world that could
have kept Elders safe.

Scully only made eye contact with him a few times, and each
and every time he felt as though she was trying desperately
to talk herself into something. He didn't like that at all.
It worried him almost as much as her continued silence
worried him. When they'd arrived back at Samantha and
Charlie's, she had embraced both them, and her sister,
warmly. But then she had retreated almost completely.

At first, he'd thought she was coming down from the stress
of the past few days. Plus, he tried to cajole the part of
him that was prone to panic, she most likely wanted to
concentrate all of her energy on Kelly. The child was
exhausted and fell asleep halfway to Pasadena. Mulder
carried her from the car, into the house, and up to Scully's
room. She didn't move once, except to curl closer to his
body, displaying a level of trust he didn't think he'd
earned, but wasn't about to question.

It should have scared him how much he felt like a father.
Not just =a= father, he corrected, but =her= father. It was
so natural to remove her small shoes and socks. An extension
of that was when Scully appeared in the room with a wash
cloth. He went to the bag of Kelly's clothing Melissa had
brought and took out a pair of pajamas while Scully
undressed her the rest of the way. She sponge bathed her
daughter and they both dressed her in a pair of Tigger
pajamas, taking great care to let her sleep. Her exhaustion
was obvious and he almost, but not quite, envied her the
blissful rest.

Still, though, even after they had tucked the covers warmly
beneath Kelly's chin, Scully didn't make any effort to begin
a conversation with him. They recounted the events of their
mad dash to Nevada with various family members, and Lamb
took their statements. He assured Mulder that he wouldn't
face any legal considerations for shooting Elders. It was a
clean shoot, clearly self-defense. The only time Mulder
remembered Scully speaking without being spoken to was when
she confirmed his version of events.

Lamb left soon after that, eager to get home to his own
family. For the rest of the night, what little there was of
it, Samantha, Charlie, Melissa, Scully, and Mulder sat
around, talking quietly, drinking more of Melissa's special
tea and, at Samantha's insistence, playing board games. It
was calming, in a surreal way. It was sanity saving normal
and it kept everyone occupied.

The entire night, Mulder watched Scully out of the corner of
his eye. It amazed him that she hadn't crashed yet. Although
he was having the thought, so obviously they were both
pretty wound up.

As the sun was coming up, Charlie finally dragged Samantha
to bed, muttering something about this "really is the last
time," and that he =meant= it. The way his sister had been
cackling made Mulder smile, remembering all the times they'd
had almost the exact exchange as children. It never was the
last time with Sam, though, and as nuts as it made him,
Mulder was grateful for it.

Melissa retired to her room, leaving Mulder and Scully

"Scully," he had begun hesitantly.

"Not now." She had even held up a hand to forestall him. "I
can't now. Later. After . . . after I believe it's real and
not another dream."

Kelly. Of course. She had still been trying to convince
herself it was actually over. And not just Kelly's
kidnapping, although that was surely foremost on her mind.
Pretending she wasn't Kelly's mother, that she didn't love
her more than life, had finally come to an end. She was free
to shower Kelly with all the love, adoration, and affection
she was capable of, and Mulder felt she was more than up to
the task.

That is, as soon as she was sure, of reality and herself.

"Scully," he had begun again.

A tiny smile had pulled at her lips. "What?"

"Let's go to bed."

He'd been half expecting her to refuse him. Instead, she
took his hand and led him upstairs. He paused outside the
door to her room, sending her an inquisitive glance. Instead
of answering, she opened the door and pulled him in behind
her. Kelly slept soundly, her form outlined by the pre-dawn
light pouring in through the window. Scully pulled her
industrial curtains shut and he was temporarily blind.

When he adjusted to the dark, he felt Scully near him. She
pressed a pair of sweats against his chest and he took them.
They both changed, for when he felt her again she was
wearing long sleeves, and felt soft, like flannel. Kelly was
curled up on the left side of the bed, on her stomach,
hugging the edge, just like I used to, Mulder thought,
smiling at the memory.

Scully crawled into bed first, inching as close to Kelly as
she could. One of her hands she laid flat on the child's
back, over her heart, Mulder saw as he, too, climbed into
bed. He pressed his front to Scully's body, spooning, and
gently ran his hand along her arm until it rested over the
one she'd placed on Kelly's back. He pressed his nose into
her hair and inhaled deeply, taking the smell of home and
love into his lungs.

They were both asleep in minutes, dead to the world.

Six hours later, Kelly woke first and Mulder found a pair of
intelligent, curious eyes carefully studying his face. She
sat Indian style on the bed, hands folded beneath her chin
as they regarded one another. Scully was still asleep,
breathing deep and even in-between the two of them.

"You love her." It hadn't been a question.

"I do," Mulder had replied calmly, his eyes firmly on

"Me too." She had been silent for a moment then and, not
wanting to push her, Mulder had let her take the lead.
Finally, "You gonna stay with us?"

And that, ladies and gentlemen, was the sixty-four
thousand-dollar question. He had thought about the question
for a good, long while before he answered. He weighed the
pros and cons, the wisdom of answering this kind of question
for a child that technically wasn't his. Stepping on
Scully's parental toes was inadvisable, but Kelly needed an
answer, an honest, straight from the heart answer. And so,
he had given it to her.

"Yes. I'm going to stay with you."

"Both of us," she had felt the need to clarify.

He hadn't been able to contain a chuckle at the honest,
innocent vulnerability in her voice. She was so damned
earnest for someone so young. "Both of you."

Silently, he promised that he would get through to Scully,
wherever her current state of mind rested. Because this was
his family now, damn it, and he would fight to the death for
his family.

Shortly thereafter, Scully had regained consciousness. At
the time, he had mused at how absolutely, irresistibly
adorable she was when she first woke up. A little confused,
sleep tussled, almost like a kitten in those first few
seconds. Her confused state =might= have been affected by
Kelly bouncing up and down on the bed beside her the moment
Scully's eyes flickered open.

"Can we go to a movie and have ice cream and go to the

The library, it turned out, was one of Kelly's favorite
places. She liked to go through a few picture books, then
move on to some of the more advanced things, like "Where the
Wild Things Are" and "Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible,
No Good, Very Bad Day." After two solid hours of browsing
through books, and checking some out for further perusal,
they finally got Kelly =out= of the library with the promise
of ice cream and a movie.

The ice cream was chocolate, vanilla and strawberry (Scully
completed the set of boring favorite ice cream flavors) and
the movie was "The Neverending Story," brought home
compliments of Blockbuster. Throughout the day, Scully
remained detached. Her detachment sparked Mulder's ire
continuously, but still couldn't diminish the sheer
contentment he felt at spending this extended amount of time
with his two girls, as he'd begun to think of them.

Most amazing of all was the change he saw in Kelly.

Gone was the somewhat reserved child he'd met a week ago. In
her place was a vibrant, if hesitant, curious little girl
who had one of the three most beautiful giggles he'd ever
heard. It had been a pleasure and a privilege to hear all
three of those giggles in stereo that night as they watched
the movie of Kelly's choice.

Charlie and Samantha had turned in, at Charlie's behest,
right around the same time Kelly's eyelids began drooping.
Again, Mulder was afforded the great joy of carrying Kelly
up to bed. Her tired limbs wrapped around him and he smiled
into her hair, inhaling the scent and identifying it with
the same feeling of security, love, and home he found in

The ritual of getting Kelly ready for bed had began again,
aided slightly this time by her being awake for it. Once the
covers were tucked securely beneath her chin, she made her

"I want Goodnight Moon."

When Kelly had gravitated to that particular selection
earlier, Mulder had tensed up. Somehow, he knew it would
come to this. Because she hadn't been looking at Scully when
she announced her selection. Scully was on the bed beside
her and Kelly's eyes were firmly focused on him.

"Whatever her majesty wishes," he assured her lightly,
plucking the book from the pile on his way to the bed.

Kelly sat like a true princess, flanked by her royal
servants, ready, willing and able to do whatever was needed
to insure her continued happiness.  Cracking open the book,
Mulder paused at the first few words. He didn't want to hear
Rachel's voice, haunting when he read them aloud. He wanted
to be free of it, to feel the peace of the letting go.

"In the great green room there was a telephone and a red
balloon and a picture of the cow jumping over the moon."

He felt nothing, except a feeling of warmth when Kelly slid
further under the covers, feeling safe with him, with them.
A balm to the soul, he thought, as he continued reading the
way he hadn't in years. His favorite book, a cherished
childhood memory stolen from him. It was his again, he owned
it and was able to share it with Scully and her . . . their

Running a hand over Kelly's hair as he continued to read, he
encountered one of Scully's. He looked up from the book, not
missing a beat, the words so familiar, so easy to recite
from memory. Her eyes were big and bright, as blue as the
sea. There was still pain in them that yearned to be purged.
Fear, too, if he wasn't mistaken. And something in her was
still preventing her from joining him in this blissful
letting go place.

Twice he read the book before Kelly finally fell asleep.
Scully shut the small bedside lamp off from her side of the
bed, and they both tiptoed out of the room, shutting Kelly
into a safe cocoon of darkness for the night. In silence,
they trudged through the hall, down the stairs, and into the
living room. Samantha had opened the blinds earlier when she
noticed storm clouds building. It was going to rain, she'd
predicted then, and he hadn't missed the subtle tremor that
went through Scully's body.

Now, the midnight blue sky grew even darker as the clouds
gathered closer. Stars weren't even visible and Scully's
eyes were fastened tightly to the glass doors.

"Is it later yet?"

At first, he thought she didn't hear him. When she answered,
he realized she was deciding. "I don't know. Can you prove
to me this is real yet?"

"Scully, I can't conclusively prove that our entire
existence isn't some bad trip from a hit of acid I did back
in the late seventies."

"Touché." She considered something for a moment. "You did
acid back in the seventies?"

"Once, at a party. It was when they were putting LSD on the
back of stickers." He shook his head. "It doesn't matter.
Don't try to sidetrack me, Scully."

"I'm not."

"The hell you're not."

"Fine," she snapped, picking absently at the back of the
chair she stood behind. "I'm trying to sidetrack you because
I don't want to have the conversation you seem so hell bent
on having."

"Scully, I just want to help--"

"Maybe I don't want your help!"

"If that were true, I don't think you'd still be here," he
told her quietly. "I think that as soon as we found Kelly,
you would have split and gotten as far away from me as you

"Right. Cause you're Mr. Know-It-All. Mr. Goddamn I Know
What's Best. Well you don't know what's best for me, and you
don't know how to help me!"

"Only because you won't tell me the truth!" He shouldn't be
shouting at her. The psychologist in him was very insistent
on that point. However, the man who loved her wouldn't
listen. She was hurting, she was hurting him with her
refusal to face that pain, and they were damned well going
to have it out, whether she wanted to or not.

"I can't tell you the truth! I can't explain to you what's
wrong, okay?" Her voice was becoming more and more unsteady.
Rain was beginning to pour down and her eyes kept darting
between him and the window.

"Why the hell not?!"

"Because I can't trust you!"

She was hurting, he tried to rationalize. But it still
ripped his heart out that she didn't feel she could trust
him, no matter how motivated by fear her statement might
have been.

"Bullshit," he spat, before he could think better of it.
Wrong thing to say, the psychologist piped in.

Her eyes snapped and crackled. Rage, hot and sudden filled
her eyes. Whatever wrath she was about to let loose on him,
Mulder didn't regret what he said. At least it blotted the
fear from her expression.

"Don't ever tell me what I feel is bullshit," she seethed in
a deadly quiet voice.

"I didn't. I'm not." He shook his head. "You don't feel that
you can't trust me. You feel that you can't trust any man.
Singling me out =is= bullshit."

"Fuck you," she spat.

Succinct, he thought glibly, glad he managed to keep that
word on the inside. She was refusing to confide in him. And
he wouldn't allow her to do that, not for another second. If
he thought she didn't care about him, sincerely didn't want
anything to come of what was between them, he would back
off, he promised them both silently. But that wasn't the
case. She =did= care about him and he was sure she =did=
want something for their relationship, something real and

There was an invisible cord pulling between them, and until
she was able to unburden herself of the mounds of luggage
she pulled behind her, there would never be an opportunity
to strengthen it. And he wanted to strengthen it. He wanted
to make it so strong that no one and nothing could ever
sever it.

"I'm not going anywhere," he informed her quietly, reining
in his own temper. "No matter how hard you push me away, no
matter how much of a pain in the ass you pretend to be, you
aren't getting rid of me. Not unless you convince me that
you honestly want me gone."

"I hate you," she whispered, deflating like a balloon.

"It would certainly make everything easier if you did." He
moved toward her, close but not touching. Ever watchful, he
noticed her attention was being diverted more and more
toward the impending storm. It was more than raindrops
pelting the glass now. Lightning was beginning to crackle,
thunder rumbling in the distance.

He split his time between watching her, and the storm.
Tentatively, he placed a hand on her shoulder. She flinched
slightly, but it was a reaction to the lightning, not to his
touch, he realized, as her eyes welled up with tears. How to
approach this . . . what to say . . . How did he comfort
someone when he didn't know what was causing them so much

"Do you ever feel like you've died, and someone forgot to
tell you that your presence in the world is no longer

They had been quiet for so long, her voice startled him. It
was distant; far too calm for the meaning behind it.

"Scully, I know how badly you were hurt. By your husband, by
the way he disillusioned you, betrayed you, hurt Kelly . .

She laughed, the sound bitter. "You have no idea," she
muttered. Finally, she turned from the window and looked at
him. "Part of me wants to hate you. Because before I met
you, I was perfectly fine being closed off. I was perfectly
fine going about my life the way it was."

"And how was it, Scully?" he asked, his voice reflecting the
tears he wanted to shed for her. Tears she wouldn't let flow
from her own eyes. "Tell me what was so good about your life

"I didn't say good." Something akin to gallows humor lurked
in her tone. "But it was safe, if lacking substance, and I
was perfectly fine never wanting to be close to anyone

"You weren't fine," he denied before he could stop the
words. Her pain was palpable, a living breathing thing that
lurked around her, waiting to pounce the moment she laughed,
or even cried.

"I died the moment I realized the full extent of his
betrayal," she whispered. "The other woman . . . Lula . . .
what the hell kind of name is Lula, anyway . . . the child
he had with her . . . it destroyed me. But not nearly as
much as the realization that I was married to a monster.
That I had let him into my life and somehow failed to notice
what kind of man he was. I loved him. How could I love
someone capable of . . ."

"You couldn't have known," Mulder reminded her. They both
knew that she knew that, rationally. But emotions weren't
rational and self-flagellation didn't allow for logic.

"I told you I found Kelly after Jack . . ." She jumped as
thunder and lightning collided outside. It took her a moment
to remember what she'd been about to say. "I went home after
I called the police. I was going to pack a bag and leave . .
. but he was there. Jack."

Mulder felt his gut clench. It's not that, he repeated over
and over in his own mind. It's not that, stop thinking the
worst, it's =not= that.

Please, God, if you're out there, don't let it be that.

"It had just started to drizzle when I got home. He was
waiting for me in the living room. His hands still had her
blood on them." A sniffle was the last thing he would have
expected, but there was no mistaking it. Before his very
eyes, an intelligent, beautiful, grown woman was turning
into a lost, scared little girl. The hand he'd placed on her
shoulder remained, though he wasn't sure she even felt it.

"I froze. I still can't believe it to this day. I was an FBI
Agent at one time, and I =froze= when confronted with the
perpetrator. The murderer."

"He was your husband," Mulder whispered. It's a big
difference, Scully.

"I was an idiot," she muttered. "I am an idiot."

"You were emotionally overwrought. You didn't freeze with
Elders yesterday, did you?"

She considered that for a moment. "I didn't," she agreed, as
though the thought hadn't quite occurred to her before.

Damn it, this self-confidence problem she had was something
they were going to work on. Just as soon as they finished
their current discussion.

"What happened that night, Scully?"

"The rain got worse . . . and the thunder was so loud, the
lightning was blinding. He kept saying how we could raise
Kelly together now that Lula was out of the way. That he'd
done it for us. We could start over." She shook her head.
"Our marriage was so lifeless. I still don't understand why
he thought then . . ."

"He fixated on you. After he killed Kelly's mother, he
placed all his hopes and chances of life directly on your

"When I finally snapped out of my paralysis, I tried to run.
But he was faster. And he was so much bigger, and stronger .
. ." Another sniffle, this one angrier than the last. "I
pulled away from him, wrenched the door open and ran
outside. He was too fast, though, and too big, and he
tackled me in our driveway. We were both soaked instantly
and my face hit the asphalt on the way down." Her head
turned from the storm long enough for her to look into his
eyes. "You can't see the scar on my chin anymore, can you?"

Carefully, he examined her skin, tracing a finger over her
jaw. "No," he whispered. "Can't tell it was ever there."

"Good," she whispered, more to herself than to him, as she
looked back out the window. "Good," she repeated.

"Scully," he began hesitantly.

"His body pushed me down into the ground and he kept
muttering in my ear how I shouldn't try to run, that I
should just accept what we have together. That he . . .
loved me. And the entire time, I couldn't see his face and I
remember at the time that was the worst thing. I couldn't
see his face. But then he moved and turned me over and it
was so much worse, because now, I could see his eyes. The
eyes of the man I loved once, who I took to be my husband,
for better or for worse, in sickness and in health. Guess
they leave out for normal or for psychotic.

"Every illusion I ever had about myself, about my own
judgment, my own soul, was shattered in that moment I looked
into his eyes. The rain kept hitting him, dripping down his
face and onto mine and . . . I wanted to vomit. I nearly
did, I think. I said he was hurting me, that I wanted to get
up, and he started to hit me. He tore at my clothes and
there is no doubt -- no doubt -- in my mind that he was
going to rape me."

His hand must have tightened on her shoulder too hard, or
his breathing grew too erratic. Once again looking away from
the glass doors, her eyes found his and the vacant look that
had so dominated them faded somewhat.

"Our neighbor chose that precise moment to arrive home. His
headlights shined right on us. He pulled Jack off me and
they struggled. I couldn't move. I was just lying there,
staring up at the sky, letting my mouth get filled with
water like a goddamn turkey." A few tears leaked out of her
eyes, making room for more to just hang there, refusing to

"You were in shock," he said finally.

"Yeah." Her arms hugged her waist and she shut her eyes
tightly. "A few police officers arrived soon after that. One
of them helped me up and I coughed and sputtered and spit .
. . and then I bolted for a squad car. I didn't care where I
was, I just had to get out of the rain . . . Every time
after that, every time I hear or feel the rain, I remember
that moment when I knew he was going to destroy me."

That sentence hung in the air for a moment. He forced
himself not to speak. He felt that she had something else to
say. What it was, he couldn't hazard a guess. She had pretty
much just emptied the contents of her soul. When her eyes
finally opened and she looked at him again, though, his
suspicions were confirmed.

"Every time, that is, until the first time we kissed." That
cost her so much. He didn't want her to have to pay so much
for an admission that brought him so much joy. "The fear is
so big, and so strong that . . . it takes precedence over
everything. But . . . there never even used to be anything
else there =but= the fear. And now . . . in the back of my
mind, when I watch the rain, or hear the thunder . . . I
feel your lips against mine and I feel your hand cradling my
cheek and I begin to believe that there might be a light at
the end of the tunnel. Even if I can't see it yet," she
added in a whisper.

Cupping her cheek in his palm, he turned her head toward
him. Slowly, gently, he leaned in until their lips pressed
together. Her eyes stayed open and so did his. They both
pulled back at the same time, but he left his hand where it

"I'm always here, Scully. I'm always going to be here, to
kiss you, to hold your hand, to make love to you, to eat way
too much chocolate with you, to help you raise Kelly, to
love you and her, to do anything and everything you need me

"I need you to help me," she whispered, more tears spilling
over her cheeks. He hated to watch her in pain, but it was
good to see her cry.

"Anything," he promised again.

"How do I stop being afraid of the rain?"

Excellent question, Dr. Scully; thanks for making my first
assignment an easy one.

Think, Mulder, think, he ordered. Her fear was based on a
past trauma. The rain had nothing to do with what Jack did
to her, it was merely present at the time, like the song
that was playing on the radio the first time you got your
heart broken. He had tried the slow approach, easing Scully
in with increments, but that hadn't worked. She was an all
or nothing girl, and if he was to be of any help to her,
they would have to approach it from that stance.

"Come on," he said suddenly, taking her hand in his and
pulling her toward the glass doors.

"Mulder, wait," she cried, digging her heels in. "I don't
know if . . . I mean, I can't just . . ."

"Scully," he interrupted, waiting until her wide, frightened
eyes met his. It'll be okay, he promised her silently. As
long as I draw breath, I won't let anything bad happen to
you. "Trust me."

They regarded one another for a few moments. Finally, Scully
nodded her head once, jerkily, in assent. Mulder threw open
the sliding glass doors and led her out into the warm rain.


Chapter 16- Embracing to Music

"There is no difficulty that enough love will not conquer;
No disease that enough love will not heal; No door that
enough love will not open; No gulf that enough love will not
bridge; No wall that enough love will not throw down; No sin
that enough love will not redeem . . . It makes no
difference how deeply seated may be the trouble, how
hopeless the outlook, how muddled the tangle, how great the
mistake, -- A sufficient realization of love will dissolve
it all." -Emmet Fox


Thank God for heat waves, Scully thought, as they quickly
became soaked to the skin. It may have been raining, but it
was almost ninety degrees outside. Ruminating about the
weather also meant you didn't have to completely acknowledge
the fact that you were about to start screaming in absolute

Samantha really did have a lovely back yard. There was a
small shed Mulder seemed to be heading toward. Scully went
along for the ride, letting him lead her wherever he wanted
to. Trust, she mused, was a puzzling entity. It wasn't
easily given, but once bestowed it extended in ways you
couldn't imagine.

She was in the rain because Mulder had asked her to trust
him. And, miracle of miracles, she did. It was so
unburdening to trust someone so completely. Hurting so
deeply for as long as she had had taken its toll. He was
definitely heading for the shed, she decided, as they
stopped in front of it. He threw open the door and began
rooting around inside. Feeling the hysteria and terror
bubble beneath the surface, Scully leaned against the side
of the shed, out of the downpour.

Let him root around in there to his heart's content. The
longer he took, the longer she could avoid confronting this
particular nightmare. She didn't see how being out here was
going to help. It unsettled her to be exposed so fully to
something so frightening.

It's just rain, Dana. Quit being such a baby.

It wasn't just rain. That was the problem. It hadn't been
"just rain" in a very long time. She didn't admit it easily,
even to herself, but the terror she felt in the rain was
akin to claustrophobia. Suffocating and mind-numbing. She
was close to panic when the clouds grew dark and it looked
like it =might= rain. When it actually stormed, as it was
now, she just wanted to run, for shelter, anything, so long
as she wasn't outside--


His voice cut into her internal ramblings, as it always did.


Through the fear, she found herself smiling at how sexy he
was when he said that. Moving closer to him, she pressed a
hand over the gray t-shirt he wore, his heart beating
steadily beneath her palm. It was almost okay here, safe
beneath the awning of the shed. They were still getting
wetter and wetter, but they weren't caught in the downpour.
His solid presence next to her didn't hurt matters, either.

One of his hands moved to her cheek, caressing gently before
moving to her hair, pulling her toward him slowly.  The
sound of music startled her and she looked into his eyes, a
question written clearly on her face.

"Charlie isn't the only one capable of making his own tapes
of favorite songs," he murmured into her ear as he pulled
her to him. One of his hands landed on her hip as the other
slid to the back of her neck. "I would come to visit Sam
when I realized it had been months since I last saw her. My
head was so messed up for a few years . . . and I started
making these tapes. Just great songs that took my mind

"You've Got a Friend took your mind away?"

A grin split across his face. "The one by Carole King did,"
he quipped as the very same tune came from the radio in the
shed.  "I used to come out here to her back yard with a
bottle of wine, or scotch, or whatever was handy to numb the

"First you numb the mind, then you let the music take it
away." Her own hand moved to his face, her fingertips
exploring, wiping droplets of water away from his skin.

"Once my mind was thoroughly wiped out, I would lay back in
the grass and float away." They began to sway slowly,
embracing more than dancing. Embracing to music, she
thought. Maybe that's how dancing got started. "One day . .
. one day I felt as though I might never come back. I didn't
really want to come back. I couldn't forgive myself for not
being able to save Rachel . . . I was so lost, Scully, so
lost . . ."

As if she didn't have enough reasons of her own to cry, she
felt tears fill her eyes for him. "I wish I'd known you
then," she whispered, pressing her forehead to his. "I wish
we'd been able to help each other before."

"The rain saved me." Her eyes, which had drifted shut, flew
open at his words. His eyes were soft and dark, filled with
a thousand pains and a thousand joys. "The first few drops
got my attention. It was just like it is tonight, warm and
cleansing. I found myself staggering to my feet, staring up
at the moon I could barely see, as I became soaked to the

She licked her lips, riveted by his words, the tone of voice
he used. He could have been a hypnotist, he was so fucking

"Then, I started laughing. The kind of semi-hysterical, it's
this or break down kind of laughter. Sam came out here,
thought I was nuts. But I was finally free. At least, as
free as I could be at the time." His forehead was pressed
against hers now, and she was breathing in the little puffs
of air he exhaled. "Don't let what he did punish you,
Scully. Don't let it take this away."

When he said it, the trance she was in broke and she
realized the awning didn't shelter them anymore. They were
out in the downpour and she gasped, her heart seizing up.

"You're so perfect," she whispered.

He chuckled, the sound raspy. "Far from it."

"No, you are, and you don't seem to mind how fucked up I am.
I say things, horrible, unforgiving things, and you just let
them go. You stay, even when I tell you to leave. You love
when the most likely outcome is pain. But I don't want to
love like this. It hurt so badly before and I never loved
Jack like this. I'd die if it went bad. I'd =die= if I lost
what we've made here."

Did I just say all that out loud? It was the only thought in
her head. From the look on his face, she had. The song
changed, and it was "Hey Jude," and the muddled thought that
Mulder had much better taste in music than her brother did
briefly flitted through her consciousness, to be quickly
replaced by how beautiful the man before her was. Little
drops of rain clung to his eyelashes and his hair was
plastered to his head. And he was looking at her like she
was the center of his universe.

No one had ever looked at her like that. She had never felt
like everything to someone. And oh, my, but it felt amazing
to be everything to someone. His lips touched hers and while
she still felt the fear coiling somewhere in the vicinity of
her lower intestine, just as she'd hypothesized, his touch
replaced ounces of the fear with pure bliss.

"You will see yourself through my eyes, Scully, if it takes
me the rest of my life," he whispered against her cheek.
"You are so beautiful and you can't see it. And I don't mean
physically, although as I'm sure you've noticed I'd give you
a perfect ten in the looks department." He shook his head,
pressing soft little kisses all over her face. "You're
beautiful here," he told her, placing a hand over her heart,
"and here," he added, bringing his other hand to the side of
her head. "You have a beautiful mind and a beautiful

Breathing shallow, she could only grip him tightly, tears
running down her cheeks. Pressing her body to his, getting
as close as she could, she breathed in the scent of his
skin, rainwater mixing with Mulder in her nostrils. Oh, and
it smelled so good. She had missed that smell. Fresh rain
against the grass, making everything smell new. The first
time outside after a rain was the only time she'd ever been
able to smell the color green.

"You say I love when the only possible result is pain, but
Scully, what do you do?" This time, he held her face in his
hands and forced her to look into his eyes. "There's only
one person in a thousand who would have loved Kelly the way
you have. And I can guarantee you that not many would be
able to survive what you've been through, let alone go on
with your life with such fire and passion as I have been
witness to."

"Not many people have you," she whispered, pulling him to
her for another kiss, this one longer with even more emotion
behind it. Pure emotion, she thought giddily. Fear, love,
lust, joy, sorrow, hope and healing, infused into every
touch, every word, every kiss they shared.

"Don't," he whispered against her mouth, his hands on her
back as they sort of danced. "Don't give me credit for who
you are. Don't give me credit for your strength."

"You don't understand." More tears spilled down her cheeks.
"You =are= my strength. You have no idea how close I was to
breaking before I met you. And now . . . now if I were to
lose you--"

"Stop saying that," he muttered against her mouth. "You are
never going to lose me, Scully. I . . . I love you. 'I love
you' doesn't begin to express what I feel, but take that and
everything else I have inside me."

"I feel selfish. All I do is take from you."

He was laughing at her. Those little crinkles appeared at
the sides of his eyes and she couldn't help herself, she
traced them reverently with her fingers. Then, because she
just had to, she stood on her toes and pressed her lips to
his eyelids.

"You make me better than I am, Scully." His face was buried
in her neck now, his hands roaming beneath the long-sleeved
shirt and tank top she wore.

"And you saved me, Mulder." She forced his head back so they
were looking eye to eye. Once again, the music shifted and
she laughed out loud when James Taylor's "How Sweet it Is to
be Loved by You," came on.

"So sweet, Scully," he murmured, mirth dancing behind his
eyes. "Experience the rain with me," he all but pleaded.
"I've always felt anything worth doing, is worth doing
right. Let me save you all the way."

All she could do was nod. His hands moved to her shirt and
he slipped it off her shoulders, leaving her clad in only
her white tank top and jeans. The warm rain hit her
shoulders and ran down her back. She shivered, remembering a
time when she was sixteen. "I snuck out of the house when I
was a teenager," she said aloud.

Her hands slid beneath his shirt, ran over his stomach and
pulled the material over his head. It landed in a soaking
wet heap somewhere behind him. "It was raining," she added.
"A bunch of friends and I met down at the Dairy Queen.
Marcus had a truck and we were driving fifty miles to see
The Eagles in concert. I rode for an hour and a half in the
back of a pick-up truck, the rain pouring down, laughing my
ass off to be doing something so in direct conflict with my
parent's wishes."

She laughed as he twirled her, definitely dancing now. "You
were born to be a rebel, Scully," he quipped, twirling her
back toward him again.

"No," she whispered, close to him again, liking it better
than dancing for "real." Her hands moved to his neck, then
slid into his hair, holding him steady while she looked into
his eyes. And for the first time, she saw the person he saw
when he looked at her. A funny little smile broke out across
his face as they looked at each other, and she realized he
was seeing himself through her eyes. "I think I was born to
love you," she pronounced, wrapping her arms around his
shoulders and pressing her cheek to his before he could

His arms wrapped around her securely, and his chin rested on
her shoulder as he physically bent over her. My human
shelter, she mused, thrilled at the notion. Closing her
eyes, she forced her mind to stay where it was. That night
was over. It couldn't hurt her. The =rain= couldn't hurt
her. Nothing could hurt her from the haven of Mulder's arms.

Then why was she shaking? Why was her entire body starting
to tense, to shiver despite the warmth? The urge to cry was
so strong, and not with the release and joy she'd felt a few
seconds ago, but with hopelessness and terror because it was
all coming back. She could feel Jack's breath on her neck,
see the look in his eyes as he hovered above her, the pain,
God, the pain of knowing how wrong she was, how completely
stupid she had been, and . . .

His voice. Mulder's voice, whispering to her, saying
something into her ear, over and over again . . .

"It's me. Scully, it's me. It's me."

It's me, it's me, it's me . . .

It all began to fade away. The rain was there, but it wasn't
suffocating. It was more of an ever-present mist, enfolding
her with the man she loved more than life. "It's you," she
whispered, pulling back to look in his eyes. Recognition
beyond anything else greeted her in his gaze. Dimly, she
heard the music change again, become a U2 song she couldn't
remember the name of before it, too, faded away . . .

. . . until the only thing left that was real, was Mulder.
The two of them, in the middle of a downpour, able to feel
only each other. And his mouth on hers tasted like
everything she'd ever loved to eat, and nothing she'd ever
known. Her fingers threaded through his hair and pulled him
closer. The white noise in her ear grew louder and some part
of her recognized the elements coming back - the music,
which she now quickly identified as With or Without You, and
she thought, oh, only with you, as the rain started coming
down even harder, if that was possible.

They had sunk to their knees at some point, never breaking
the kiss, arms still wrapped around each other. This kiss
was like no other, each of them pushing and giving and
taking in equal measure. His hands were against her back,
pulling at her top, pressing into her skin with increasing
urgency. Lightning flashed in the sky and they both broke
away from the kiss, breathing hard and heavy.

He pulled back from her slightly and she followed, clutching
at his shoulders. "I don't want to stop," she muttered,
hoping he wasn't having an attack of gallantry.

If it was possible for a smile to be feral and vulnerable at
the same time, Mulder pulled it off. "Neither do I." He
punctuated his words with a teasing nip at her lips. "But
remember, this isn't just for our own amusement. This
exercise has a purpose."

Her brows furrowed together for a moment before she
remembered. "Right. Purging my fears."

He nodded and pressed a kiss to her forehead. Then, he very
slowly laid back against the grass, holding both her hands
in his. "We're in the middle of a storm -- one of the
wildest and hardest downpours I've seen in years -- and
you're in charge, Scully." He waited a beat for his words to
sink in. "You're in control. Whatever happens here, happens
only because you want it to."

I don't deserve you, she thought, as she straddled his
waist. I don't deserve you, but I swear, I will love you for
the rest of my life. Her lips pressed against his chest.
Because she could, she darted her tongue out to taste him.
That made her thirsty, though, and she began lapping at his
torso, drinking fresh rainwater from his skin. She never
wanted to quench her thirst any other way again, especially
if she got to hear him groan like that.

Sitting on his thighs for a moment, she whipped her tank top
over her head and tossed it aside. Pressing her body to his,
both of them naked from the waist up, inspired mutual moans
as their mouths met again. His arms wrapped around her and
his fingertips traced as many patterns as the rain did
against her back. Like the last, this kiss went on and on,
wet and sloppy and perfect.

It was extremely difficult to pull wet denim off skin, but
they managed after a few minutes of fumbling and laughing.
They were lying on their sides in the grass, no doubt
getting very muddy. One of her legs was thrown over his hip,
and while she felt his erection hard and insistent against
her thigh, he didn't make any move to bring this encounter
to its inevitable conclusion.

Instead, he pressed his lips to her face, murmured her name,
called her "baby," whispered words of love and comfort, and
let his hands wander over her skin. They had done this
before, in his bed, usually feeding each other pieces of
chocolate. But this . . . everything was so charged. His
hands imprinted his name on her skin everywhere they touched
and the rest of her body reacted to his as though she'd
known him for years. Centuries, maybe.

Mulder had the softest skin, she had found, and he was
infinitely pleasurable to touch and snuggle against in the
middle of the night. Or any time, for that matter. Why can't
I get enough of your smell? she wondered as she pressed her
nose to his neck for the hundredth time.

"I don't know," he answered, chuckling.

Must've said that last one out loud. Oh well. She had no
secrets from this man, not anymore. "You smell like home,"
she said. "Especially with the rain. I've always loved the
water. Comes from being a sailor's daughter, I guess. I
can't believe I forgot how much I love it." This was it.
This was the scent she would remember for the rest of her
life. Whenever he wasn't with her, she would think of
rainwater, or seawater clinging to his skin, and she would
be transported to another place, somewhere she could touch
him to her heart's content.

"I didn't realize you had such affection for the water."

He was hedging, she could tell. He didn't want to bring bad
memories crashing down on her, nor did he want to ignore the
very reason they were out here. She smiled at him, letting
the look on her face assure him that she wasn't ignoring the
bad stuff. It just didn't matter anymore. He made it better.
He made everything better.

A song that was beginning caught her attention. Gasping
slightly, she looked at him for a moment. "This is my
favorite song," she whispered. "It has been from the moment
I heard it. How did you . . ."

"It's one of my favorites, too," he answered. "When I fell
in love . . . I wanted to be able to feel this song." He
chuckled again. "Don't know what to say except, John got it
wrong. Because nothing describes how this feels, although I
admit, this does come close."

John Lennon's "Love" faded into the same background noise as
the rain when he kissed her again.

Pressing her hands to his chest, she pushed until he landed
on his back again. Crawling on top of him, she brushed her
fingers down his face, his neck and his chest until she
reached his ribs. Planning her attack carefully, she
fluttered her fingers against the skin just below his
ribcage. Waiting for his low, rumbling laugh, she wrapped
her hand around his cock and guided him inside her body with
one long, hard thrust.

His laugh turned into a moan and she watched his face
change. Leaning down, she pressed her lips against his,
finding it difficult to kiss him any way but open-mouthed,
with total disregard for technique. It wasn't about being
suave or smooth -- it was about trying to claw inside each
other until there was no feasible way to be apart again.

The movement of their lower bodies was no more smooth than
that of their mouths, but it was beautiful, she thought.
Lightning was flashing with increasing frequency, and she
laughed at it, and the thunder. Her laughter spilled into
his mouth and he stole it from her lungs hungrily as his
hands washed over her flesh like the rain, fluid and all

Building a rhythm was difficult, considering they never
moved the same way twice. Her hands were braced against his
chest, his flowing up and down her hips and thighs. They
were making love the same way they'd been dancing, she
realized. It was an embrace that happened to mimic the
motions of sex, the rhythm of music that had no pattern.

Skin sliding, aided by the rain, she could almost believe
they were melting into each other. Her knees pressed hard
into the grass and she looked forward to the long shower
they'd both take in the morning to get rid of the mud.

When it finally happened, the orgasm she had stole her
breath. It wasn't the best ever, on a purely physical level,
but the sheer force of it nearly knocked her over. It
started from the center of her being, and moved outward,
tingling as far as her fingers and her toes, and as deeply
as her soul and her mind. It was freedom and cleansing and
she screamed with it, her cries lost to Mulder and the

He was there with her through it all, his own orgasm seconds
behind hers. Collapsing, she slid to his side in a boneless
heap of satisfied flesh, her cheek pressed against the crook
of his arm. Rolling a bit until they were both on their
backs, she looked up at the sky, the storm, feeling the full
force of Mother Nature.

She was reminded of cloud gazing and the man who saw
unicorns where there were horses, and women worth loving
where there were only lost souls. If she hadn't been so
tired at that moment, she would have laughed with pure joy.
As it was, she shut her eyes and bent her arm until it
stretched out over his chest, her hand in his hair. She felt
his eyes close, as well, and breathed a sigh of utter

The rain continued to play staccato to the music and their


Chapter 17- Companion, Comforter, Guide and Friend

"A soul mate is someone to whom we feel profoundly
connected, as though the communicating and communing that
takes place between us were not the product of intentional
efforts, but rather a divine grace. This kind of
relationship is so important to the soul that many have said
there is nothing more precious in life." -Thomas Moore


Before he was fully conscious, he felt contentment spread
through his body. Drifting, as he was, through the half-hazy
reality that existed between sleep and complete wakefulness,
he took a moment to examine the contents of his life a bit
closer than he normally would.

Samantha, his best friend from childhood, a sister in the
truest sense of the word, finally had someone worthy of her:
a Scully. A few weeks ago, he wouldn't have thought anything
significant in having a Scully love you. But after having
felt it first hand, knowing for certain how amazing those
Scullys were, he conceded the point. He and his sister were
indeed lucky individuals.

Speaking of, he seemed to have not just a lover in his life,
but an extended family. Charlie had welcomed him with open
arms, both of them foregoing the usual brother posturing
that so naturally came to the forefront when another male
sniffed around The Beloved Sister. This most likely had to
do with the fact that they would have both felt like
hypocrites if they'd brought the matter up.

Melissa had made herself comfortable in the meditation room
Samantha set up for her. His little sister didn't seem too
eager to kick everyone out of her house, and Mulder wondered
if that was intentional. It was no secret she had always
wanted a bigger family, going so far as to plead with Ma and
Pa Mulder for more siblings when they were children. The
Scullys, it seemed, were finally fulfilling Samantha's
desire for a large family.

He had a family now, which extended beyond the one he was
born into. True, he had always desired that, longed for it,
wished for it. But somewhere deep inside, he hadn't believed
it would really happen. The lone wolf moniker that had hung
from around his neck seemed to fit most of the time. If he
couldn't find "the one," he wouldn't settle for "anyone." It
had to be right. =She= had to be right.

And then, like magic, =she= appeared, an angel with beaten
wings and a crooked halo who made him laugh as easily as she
brought him to tears. In the most basic way, she moved him
and inspired him to be more than the sum of his parts.

His eyes finally popped open when someone's nose pressed
against his.

Lest he forget the most unexpected, but undeniably special
of his new life's blessings: a bright, beautiful, curious
little girl with the eyes of an explorer.


Blinking, Mulder tried to adjust his hearing after that
outburst, but found it damned near impossible. "Morning," he
mumbled, sitting up much sharper than he normally did.

"Morning," Kelly chirped, wrapping her cherubic arms around
his neck and placing a big, wet kiss on his cheek.

He couldn't have contained his smile if he wanted to. "Are
you my new alarm clock?"

"Nope. But Samantha said I should tell her when you woke

"Do you think maybe she meant you should go get her when I
woke up?"

"No," she answered guilelessly.

"Of course, you're right, I don't know what I could have
been thinking."

Already wearing pajama bottoms, he snagged a clean t-shirt
from the chair of laundry Sam always kept in bedrooms and
walked with Kelly downstairs. The rest of the family was
gathered in the kitchen, making the most elaborate breakfast
he'd seen since he was a child and his father's family had
stayed with them.

"I thought I heard someone bellow you were among the
living." Sam smiled, then stared down at the pan before her.
Without a moment's hesitation, she took the charred bacon
and dumped it down the sink.

"You'll get better at it, babe," Charlie murmured from her
side, a comforting arm around her shoulder.

Making a beeline for Scully, Mulder peeked over her
shoulder, appraising the omelet she was preparing. "What's
in it?" he asked, resting his chin atop her shoulder.

Her head turned slightly to regard him, then went back to
carefully studying the omelet. "Cheese and ham."

"That's my favorite," he commented lightly. Despite last
night, he still wasn't quite sure how to play this. How
=she= wanted to play it.

Turning her head again, she kissed his mouth soundly, their
lips parting with a smacking sound. "I know. I asked Sam."
Her dazzling smile nearly knocked him flat on his ass.
"Figured I should learn what my man likes to eat so I can
cook it for him."

It was her way of acknowledging what they were to each
other, he understood. He pressed a kiss to the side of her
neck. "And what's your favorite breakfast, little girl?"

She giggled. He made her giggle. Damn, that felt good.

Both his arms wrapped around her waist from behind, her
attention supposedly focused on the omelet. "Gotta know what
my woman likes to eat, so I can cook it for her on the days
she's not cooking for me."

"Is this an equal exchange I hear? Alternating days,

"Nothing but equal, all the way," he whispered into her ear,
nibbling gently.

"I like French toast," she answered finally. "With powdered
sugar and maple syrup."

"Hey you two - knock it off. I already yelled at them
earlier. The lonely, bitter spinster sister can't take
anymore loving displays of monogamous affection."

"Poor Missy," Charlie simpered, placing an arm around his
sister's shoulders, "always a new age guru, never a new age

"I can still hurt you like when you were ten."

"Nah, you don't believe in violence." He grinned. "But just
in case, how about a bribe? What say I build you a room off
the side of the house so when the time comes, you won't have
to find a place for you and the cats to live?"

"Building rooms?" Scully's eyebrow hit her forehead and
Mulder chuckled, taking a seat at the table next to Kelly.

"Chuckie finally decided what he wants to do with his life."
Samantha beamed as she slapped new strips of bacon into the
pan. "He's gonna be an architect."

"Building things is my life."

Mulder caught Scully's eye, saw the gentle teasing she sent
her brother's way. "We should have known all those years
playing with Lincoln Logs would lead somewhere."

Laying out in the rain for hours, coming inside only when
they felt sleepy. Climbing into a steamy shower together,
soaping and washing each other in a way that was sensual,
but not arousing. Dressing in a pair of his pajamas - she
confiscated the top, and he the bottoms. Crawling into bed
and falling asleep, Kelly between them, their joined hands
resting comfortably above her head.

Snapshot recollections, exchanged between the two of them as
the conversation between their respective siblings faded
into a low din. He didn't want to take his eyes off her; he
couldn't. It was all there, right there, behind her eyes.
The bits of life they'd just stumbled through together, and
the years - the decades, the whole life they had ahead of
them. In her eyes, he saw Kelly growing into a beautiful
young woman, he saw the children they would have some day,
maybe not biological children, but their children,

Had he seen it the first time he looked into her eyes? How
could he have missed it? It was so obvious. His future, his
life was right there, waiting for him in a sea of blue. Ah,
but first, he could hear the tones of his sister, demanding
his attention.

"Yoo-hoo, earth to Foxy Loxy? Your opinion, please?"

He turned his head to look at Sam, feeling the familiar
gratitude at having such an amazing, loving person in his
life . . .

. . . and found himself staring into the eyes of Alexandria

The first thing he did was look at his watch. Nine minutes.
Nine fucking minutes since he had downed his tea.

His entire body was shaking. Tears sprang to his eyes,
irrational, angry tears he couldn't blink back. A few
spilled out of his eyes before he was able to control them.
Loss was like an intense, sharp jab to his solar plexus. The
gypsy who'd left a message on his machine earlier that day
looked at him kindly, almost maternally. Using his fingers
he wiped the moisture from his eyes and took a few deep,
even breaths.

When he trusted himself enough to attempt speech, he said
the only thing he could think of: "Why?"

"Perspective." She smiled, the first genuine smile he could
remember seeing from her. "And because you are a man who
seeks answers. All answers. Even those that are often left

"I don't understand. I didn't . . . I never asked to know
about that . . ." Samantha, alive and well, but not here,
here she was gone. Always gone from his life. And now he
knew, he =knew= it was possible that she'd lived, had a good
life and . . . Kelly. Jesus, there was no Kelly in this
world. There wasn't a different version of her, she just . .
. didn't exist to him. But she did now. He remembered her,
what she smelled like, how her nose crinkled when something
confused her, he . . . he knew that. Didn't he?

"She exists in this world."

He looked at her sharply. "Can you read my mind?"

"When you put your thoughts so clearly on your face, yes.
Anyone could," she informed him. "And she =does= exist here.
Her soul was born, just as it was meant to be. She just does
not belong to you, or your Scully."

"I still don't understand why--"

"Why must there be a reason?" It almost looked as though he
was starting to tick her off, on a personal level. "Fine.
You want reason? I give you reason. Your Scully, she is your
destiny. No matter how you live your life, she is there. In
every life, in every timeline, in every possible existence
she is there. Where there is your soul, there is her soul,
where there is her soul, there is your soul." Her lips
thinned into a straight line. "That does not happen," she
added, as though it aggravated her.

Mulder's eyes narrowed. "Why did you call me?"

She huffed impatiently, some of the ethereal wisdom she
seemed to carry with her fading somewhat. "To show you. To .
. . show myself. So that we might both see something we were
curious about."

He paused for a moment, considering her. What the hell, he
thought. He'd never found a more qualified person to ask
these questions of, and they plagued him from time to time,
when he allowed his thoughts free range.

"You say she's my destiny . . . no matter what path my life
takes, Scully is my destiny. Yet I've experienced something
I can't explain. Another woman was . . . appeared to be, my
soul mate."

She clucked at him. He'd never actually heard a human being
make that sound before. "Agent Mulder, I would advise you to
be sure you understand the intricate nature of the universe
before you go throwing around words like 'soulmate.'" Her
head shook, as though her star pupil had just disappointed
her greatly.

"Each trip to this world brings with it different obstacles
and challenges, sorrows and joys. Souls continue to touch
each other, but in different ways. This woman you call
Scully - - she is always with you. She is always touching
your soul in the most profound way you have ever
experienced. Whether she is your lover, your father, your
mother, or simply your friend, she is the most important
person to you. Do not doubt that the universe is in order."

"Believe me, I didn't meant to doubt. I am merely . . ."

"Curious," she finished for him.

He felt a smile pull at his lips. "Curious," he agreed.
"Very curious."

"Don't worry, Agent Mulder. This will not upset you for
long. You will walk out that door, shaken, but certainly
capable of going on. You will go home, tuck yourself snugly
into bed and fall asleep. By morning, you will have
convinced yourself I was nothing more than a dream, brought
on by the lonely holiday season and too much egg nog."

"I don't think so," he replied, decisions and consequences
settling in his soul, emotions and longings beginning to
override more rational notions.

"I hope you do remember me, as you knew me. I hope you
remember what I've shown you. More than that, I hope it
brings you some happiness."

He nodded slowly. "I think that it will. Thank you, Ms.

"Alexandra," she corrected softly.

For a moment longer, he looked into her eyes. Slowly, he
stood and turned toward the door. He did not look back. As
he exited the building, he turned down the sidewalk and
hailed a cab. He didn't bother checking to see if her parlor
was still there. He knew it wouldn't be, just like he knew
the Yankees were going to win the Series and Flukemen lived
in sewers.

The entire ride home, he thought about his other life, about
what it meant, about what he should do about it. About what
he =could= do about it. Part of him was still numb. Samantha
had never been taken in that life. They were close,
siblings, friends. To have that and suddenly realize it was
never yours to begin with was . . . Sufficed to say,
gut-wrenching didn't begin to cover it.

Something else kept filling up his thoughts, though. She was
alive. Somewhere, somehow, even though he would never get to
know her like that, she was alive, and happy, and safe.

And she existed.

What about the life he'd shared with Scully? It had been so
different from the one they shared now, yet in many ways,
achingly similar. He didn't know what he would say to her;
what he would, should, or could do. Scully would be back on
the twenty-ninth. That would be soon enough to see her.
Besides, he had to sort out his own feelings about the
situation, and he didn't want to have whatever conversation
they would end up having over the phone.

No, he would wait until she came back from her Christmas
vacation. He would wish her a Merry Christmas, and they
would do . . . something. He'd play it by ear. No need to
set one particular plan in stone.

It wasn't the real Millennium, but it would be one hell of a
New Year, of that he was sure.


Epilogue- Love is You, You and Me

"Love is the emblem of eternity: it confounds all notion of
time: effaces all memory of a beginning, all fear of an
end." -Madame de Stael


Maybe the world did come to an end on New Year's Eve. Or
maybe everyone she knew had been replaced by clones,
programmed to behave just slightly out of the norm.

Scully's gaze tracked her partner's progress inside her
kitchen. He'd been completely bizarre the past few days, and
that was saying something, considering it was Mulder she was
talking about.

Thirty minutes ago, he'd arrived at her door, groceries in
hand, mumbling something about an early birthday supper.
Puzzled, she'd let him in, because she always let him in,
and he'd proceeded to her kitchen without another word,
which was where he'd remained ever since.

Why oh why can't I have a normal boyfriend?

Even as the thought occurred, she smiled. The answer was
simple: because she didn't want one; because he was all she
wanted, and he was neither normal, nor truly her boyfriend.
But those weird, quirky parts of Mulder were known to her;
loved by her. The way he'd been acting for the past few days
. . . was not =normal,= weird Mulder behavior. It was
=abnormal= weird Mulder behavior.

How to go about broaching the subject with him? Her gentle
inquiry into what was on his mind had been met with more
bizarre behavior. Questions about her brother Charlie -- who
he had never even met -- and his marital status had puzzled
her, but Mulder was wont to bring up random subjects out of
the blue. So he wanted to know how many children Charlie
had, and if he was happy with his wife.

The questions weren't really what bothered her. It was the
kiss. Or, more to the point, it was the lack of
follow-through that came after the kiss that irritated her.
If he'd just come out and say, "sorry, Scully, I didn't mean
it," that would be one thing. It would hurt, it would be
hard to get past, but they would manage. He did not say he
was sorry, or that he didn't mean it, though.

But he didn't say anything, damn him. He just kept hovering,
sniffing around her like a dog in heat, all the while
keeping himself removed from the situation, gauging her
reaction to everything he did. She didn't like feeling as
though she were his own personal science experiment. It had
been going on for almost a month now, and enough was

"Scully, you mind if I flip on some music?"

That was another thing! Out of the blue, he gave her a gift
the other day at work. "A belated Merry Christmas present,"
he'd explained, something akin to a sheepish grin on his
face. Once again, they had both agreed not to exchange
presents. And, once again, they had both purchased the other
a gift. She gave him a book on writing science fiction,
which, for some reason, put the most inscrutable look on his
face. It wasn't an odd gift, she rationalized. He'd
mentioned wanting to try his hand at writing before. There
was no reason he should get a look on his face like the look
that he got on his face.

Which left only his gift to her. A thoughtful gift, truly,
if a bit unexpected. It was a tape, filled with songs he
"just thought you'd like, that's all," and one very special
song. At the beginning and end of said tape, was John
Lennon's "Love."

"How did you know?" had been the first question she was
capable of asking.

Instead of the answer she'd been expecting, namely, "Know
what, Scully?" she had gotten a reply that, at its essence,
was true Mulder. "It's my favorite, too."

Scully shook away the spooky memory and focused on the issue
at hand. "Sure," she called out to the man in her kitchen.
"My Christmas present is in the tape player already."

As he crossed from the kitchen, to her bookcase that held
her stereo equipment, Scully appraised him carefully. He
seemed right at home here in her apartment. Yet another
addition to the list of out of character things Mulder had
been doing lately: he been spending an enormous amount of
time at her apartment. Not just going over case files, as
they had done on occasion. But he came over with stacks of
tapes from Blockbuster, telling her she got first pick. Or
an arm full of Chinese food, claiming to have ordered too
much and would she mind helping him out?

As if eating free food with him would be helping =him= out.
This was the first time he'd actually cooked for her, but it
=was= a month before her birthday special occasion dinner,
so that was to be expected, she thought sarcastically.

He kept leaving candy bars on her desk. And not the ones
with coconut, which she hated, but the ones with peanuts and
caramel, covered in rich, delectable milk chocolate that she
secretly lusted over. If she had done something that day
that pleased him deeply, like laugh at one of his jokes, or
let him finish an entire theory before rolling her eyes, the
candy had almonds. If she played with his tie, or flirted
with him openly, in front of witnesses, she got a Three

John Lennon stopped singing and Carole King started in,
belting out 'You've Got a Friend' for all she was worth.
Indeed you do, Scully thought as Mulder once again
disappeared into the kitchen. This time, though, she was too
curious not to and she followed him. From the doorway she
watched him move about her kitchen like he lived there.
Given the smells coming from the stove, he actually had some
hidden culinary talents she had been previously unaware of.

They had been openly flirting with each other for months
now. Ever since Mulder's miraculous recovery, things that
had once been layered with subtext and heated stares were
now commented on. His touch was more suggestive and it
lingered in places it had never dared to before. For her own
part, she felt she had become less reserved. With great
effort, she lowered her walls on a daily basis, letting the
partner she had loved, respected and trusted for seven years
inside as close as she could.

Still, though, it wasn't close enough.

Yesterday, after he treated her to lunch, he asked her to go
cloud gazing with him. It was such an unusual request, so
out there that she hadn't been able to think of a plausible
reason not to go. So there they sat, in business suits with
SIG saurs resting comfortably inside their jackets, eating
hot dogs and fries (Mulder had been immensely disappointed
at the lack of chili and cheese) while they cloud gazed.
After the food was gone, neither made a move to hurry back
to their regular lives. Instead, they laid back on the
grass. He had subtly offered her his shoulder and she had
accepted, likening Mulder to a human pillow.

A very comfortable human pillow, she now amended as the
muscles in his back played beneath his black t-shirt. He
bent over the stove, seasoning the salmon he'd brought, and
she decided he put the finest down pillows to shame.

"I brought double fudge chocolate chip ice cream for

He never turned around to look at her; she didn't make a
sound, yet he knew she was there. Often, she found herself
doing the same thing when he entered his office and she was
back there, filing or testing something in her "area." He
didn't make a sound, but she felt his eyes on her, a visual
caress she'd read once in a crappy book amongst a pile of
crappy books that were just as much not hers as Mulder's
videos weren't his.

"Mulder, is there an inner chocoholic somewhere in you I
didn't know about?"


Thought I was the enigmatic one, she grumbled silently. One
song ended, and another began on the tape he had given her.
She grinned at it, annoyance with him melting as easily as
the strumming of a guitar. "Joy to the World," by Three Dog
Night, immediately followed by, if she remembered correctly,
"Old Fashioned Love Song," by the same group.

"They certainly sing it better than I do," she quipped
lightly, hoping to draw him out of his cooking trance for a
few seconds.

"Matter of opinion," he murmured. "I'll take you singing it
any day." Sensing her desire, perhaps, he turned and gave
her a smile, nothing too auspicious, but just beautiful
enough to break her heart.

There was a time in her life when singing songs in the
middle of the woods, after having been attacked and chased
by a mothman, just to comfort her ailing partner would have
seemed unthinkable. Somewhere along the way, though, she had
stopped wanting what other people wanted. There were times,
of course, that she still wished, that she still wondered
"what if?"

What if I'd never been assigned to the X-Files? What if I'd
never joined the FBI? Would I be happy now? Would I have two
point five kids, a husband who worked a boring nine to five
job, and some sort of "normal" career?

Whenever her thoughts strayed too far into that realm, she
determinedly shook them off with a simple thought: What ifs
didn't matter. And even if they did, she wouldn't trade what
she had today for anything in the world.

No matter what she had, it wouldn't be worth it, because she
wouldn't have Mulder. Her life had been headed in such a
predictable direction. That was part of why she'd joined the
FBI to begin with. Something in her had craved excitement
and change. An FBI Agent was assured more than enough of

Only later would she learn just how much excitement and
change she had gotten herself into; working on the X-Files,
and taking on the role of Spooky Mulder's conscience, savior
and touchstone.

I would have been so deathly bored by my own life, she told
his back silently. I would have gone my entire life without
knowing what vampire bites looked like. I might never have
known what it felt like to bring myself to the edge, poised
to fall into an abyss, only to be caught at the last second
by my first, last, and only line of defense against the
world. You, Mulder, he who has brought purpose to my life
and love to my heart.

Like magic, just when she had given up hope of finding a
true friend, a companion to walk through this world with, he
had appeared, a fallen angel with beaten wings and a crooked
halo, capable of bringing her to utter madness, hysterical
laughter or anguished tears. He moved her and inspired her
to look beyond who she thought she was, to be more than the
sum of her parts.

She had saved him only after he had saved her, a thousand
times over.

"When did you learn to cook, G-man?"

She was desperate, it seemed, for the sound of his voice.
Abandoning her post in the door jam, she walked to his side,
peeking over his shoulder at their dinner. It even =looked=
good, she was pleased to note.

"This particular dish is a recent addition to my repertoire,
actually." When she quirked an eyebrow at him, he
elaborated. "I thought you'd like it."

"My brother, Charlie, loves salmon," she began, only to stop
dead at his next words.

"It's his recipe, actually."

The silence seemed to stretch on and on. She kept looking at
him, waiting for him to explain. He kept looking right back,
a kind of half smile on his face, as though waiting for
=her= to say something. What was she supposed to say? That
was it. Enough was most certainly =enough.=

"Mulder, what the hell is wrong with you?"

Oh damn, he looked hurt. She hadn't meant to hurt him, but .
. . What the hell was wrong with him?!

"There's nothing . . . wrong, Scully. I think that maybe . .
.maybe something's finally right."

Maybe it was the New Year. Or maybe when he fell through
that floor into Henry Weems apartment a few weeks ago his
ass hadn't been the only thing damaged. Had she ever
actually run a full battery of tests on him after their most
recent misadventures?

"Scully, stop looking at me like I've got a screw loose. I
assure you, I continue to retain my usual level of carefully
managed, chaotic sanity."

"Then would you please, just this once, explain to me why
you've been acting so strangely?"

"I would, but I doubt you'll believe me."

"You always say that," she pointed out.

"You never believe me," he challenged.


"Fine." He flipped the stove and covered the salmon.
Carefully, he checked that each and every burner was
extinguished. Spinning on his heel, he walked ahead of her
into the living room.

They were changing rooms. That couldn't be good. Changing
rooms meant the conversation was about to get in-depth and
serious. Rubbing the corner of her mouth with her tongue
absent-mindedly for a moment, Scully trailed in Mulder's

"Where should I start?"

"How about at the beginning?"

"Okay," he agreed easily, leaning against the wall nearest
her kitchen. "When, in your professional opinion, did I
start exhibiting this 'unusual,'" he made the little
quotation things with his fingers that irritated her,

"Right after we spoke before I left for Christmas." She had
taken her time over the past few days to pinpoint the exact
moment for this precise reason. "You never did tell me about
your fortune."

Something flickered behind his eyes, and she honed in on it
instantly. Have we hit pay dirt so soon? Walking toward him,
she leaned against the wall at his side. Casually, she let
her arm brush against his, the contact barely there, but
still, enough to send a shiver up and down her spine. Do you
know, she wondered, what it is you do to me? Should I tell
you? Do you =want= to know?

"The woman I met, Alexandra Romanoff, she showed me
something I wasn't prepared for. Something I still haven't
completely reconciled in my own mind."

"What, did she confirm Clyde Bruckman's prediction of your
death?" The joke fell flat and she blindly took his hand in
hers. "Mulder?"

"Instead of showing me my future, =this= future, she showed
me another life. A life that exists out there, somewhere,
far from my grasp."

A trickle of unease ran down her spine. "Mulder, I don't
need to tell you that I don't believe in psychic phenomena,

"Scully, this went way beyond psychic." He looked at her for
a moment, his eyes wild and intense, before he turned his
head to stare at the opposite end of her apartment. "She
gave me this tea, Scully, and I almost left because I
thought she was just reading tea leaves." He chuckled, the
sound a bit unstable. "Can you believe I almost left? I
almost missed . . . I could have lived an entirely different
life, if just one thing had changed. Everything in that life
was different. I had my sister, a career that I loved, but I
didn't have you and my life was incomplete."

That was a touching sentiment, and she fully intended to
revisit it in a moment, but first, "I'd say it's much more
likely that she slipped something into that tea. Mulder, did
you go to the hospital? Are you sure you aren't still
suffering some kind of reaction to a narcotic or

"I knew you'd say that," he told her around a chuckle.

"Glad to know I haven't disappointed." In truth, she was a
bit hurt by his words, although it was ridiculous. He wasn't
laughing =at= her, he was just . . . laughing near her?

He placed a hand against her cheek and turned her head so
that they were looking each other in the eye. "You have
never disappointed me, Scully," he said quietly, a dark,
tortured mist passing behind his eyes. "I don't think you

Swallowing deeply, she nodded, feeling the air between them
charge. His eyes fell to her mouth for a moment, before once
again returning to her eyes. Oh my God, she realized in the
quiet confines of her soul. "You've been wooing me," she
said aloud, amazed.

There it was, that smile again, almost sheepish, but there
was too much arrogance in him to completely pull it off.
"She showed me a world where the sky was purple, up was
down, black was white, and you and I spent the last seven
years without each other."

"I hope you're speaking metaphorically about the first
three," she muttered, at a loss for anything more to say.
These visions of lives he could have had that Mulder kept
telling her about were starting to frighten her a little.
Maybe he wasn't as satisfied with the path they'd chosen to
walk together as she was.

"Scully, it was amazing," he whispered. "I remember every
detail so clearly as though I'd lived them. Which, thanks to
her, I did." He brushed a lock of her hair away from her
eyes. "I like your hair longer," he commented absently. "I
love the way it feels against my cheek."

That was unexpected. Her eyes narrowed slightly. "It's
easier to comb alien goo out of short cropped hair," was all
she could think to say.

"So it is," he murmured.


"I thought you were my touchstone before. I was wrong.
Touchstone doesn't even begin to cover it." He laughed, a
bit unsteadily. "You are, quite simply, the center of my

Okay . . . so that was . . . what? Mulder's way of saying
"Let's go steady?"

"You were there," he added, almost as an afterthought. "You
were there, and we saved each other, just like always."

Oh God, not this again. Not another insistence that he'd
been in some kind of time warp where I saved the world.
Don't do this, Mulder, don't tell me you love me again when
I fear some gypsy gave you a drug that's been slowly working
through your system--

"I'm not crazy, Scully, and I can assure you, I'm in full
control of my faculties." A grin this time, an honest to
goodness grin broke out on his face. "I know exactly what it
means when I do this," he murmured, leaning forward to brush
their lips together, "and this," he added against her mouth
as he intensified the contact, "and this," whispered a
second before his teeth nipped her bottom lip with the
gentlest pressure.

It was still enough to coax a moan from her. So surprising,
her Mulder, and she had been, thus far, unable to devise a
single method of predicting his behavior. The only thing she
knew for certain was that if she needed it, he would always
save her, in every way a person could be saved.

"Mulder, before this goes too far, you should be warned that
I'm holding you responsible for anything you say and do in
the next few minutes, so if there's even the slightest
chance that you don't mean it--"

"Scully." Pausing, she looked at him finally, as she'd been
addressing his feet until now. "I mean it," he whispered a
moment before his mouth came down on hers, possessive and

This must be what flying is like, she thought dizzily as his
arms wrapped around her back and pulled her toward him,
taking her off her feet. It was like a movie kiss, something
written into the end of a fairy tale as the story dissolved
into happily ever after.

But this wasn't the end of anything. This was a beginning.
The last seven years was a prologue, something to get the
audience ready for the real story. This was how it really

Once upon a time, a man kissed his partner . . .

She was climbing him now, as though he were rope, yet he was
so much more substantial than rope, softer and harder and
warmer and stronger. Their tongues were tangling in each
other's mouths, and just as she had finally gotten into the
position she wanted, his back against the wall, her legs
around his waist, their almost bruising kiss turned suddenly
gentle. Reverent, in the way their mouths made love to each

Flowing now, in and out. Into his mouth went her tongue,
retreating, followed back by his. One of his hands in her
hair, sifting through the strands, mouth slanting for the
better, cleaner, more complete angle. The hand on her back,
moving up and down her spine, tracing each individual
vertebra, straying lower, brazenly squeezing her ass without
asking permission.

Permission granted so long ago, her hands now, not idle,
slid from his neck to his hair, down his beautiful sides, to
his hips, back again, everywhere she could touch. Caressing
slowly, softly, touching everywhere she'd always wanted to.
Drinking from his mouth, offering him everything she was,
reminding him he already owned it all.

Sinfully erotic, his mouth finally left hers, affording her
the ability to breathe. It blazed a trail from her jaw to
her neck, where it stayed a long while, biting, licking,
sucking, marking, adoring. She emitted wordless moans, the
veneer of civilization slipping from them both every second
their bodies remained in such close contact.

Growling, he let her slide down his body and regretfully
released her skin from his mouth. She mewled her
disappointment, but only for a moment. Her turn, now, as she
latched onto the tendon along the side of his neck, paying
as much attention to his flesh as he had hers. Fair was fair
and besides, he was already occupied again, ridding her of
clothing that was quickly becoming intolerable.

Blouse, bra and jeans were at her feet in seconds. Amazing
skill, Mulder, she commended silently, the chance to say it
out loud abandoned as his mouth came down on her breast. He
spent not a moment hesitating, nor teasing, nothing but
firm, rhythmic sucking, just as she liked it. Beautiful, she
thought, once more tangling her fingers through his hair,
cradling his head to her breast like a child. But how could
he possibly know my body this well?

Changing nipples now, his hands sliding down to her hips as
he continued his single-minded pursuit. His hands were
against her bare bottom for barely a second before her
underwear joined the pile of clothes at her feet. Perhaps he
had taken a class somewhere, she decided. How to drive your
partner senseless. A six-week seminar, with a bonus lesson
for the first ten students: removing a woman's clothing in
five easy steps.

Sliding, his mouth pressed open-mouthed, adoring kisses over
her stomach, moving emphatically downward until his nose
brushed her wet curls. And they were wet, yes sir, she was
almost, but not quite, ashamed to realize she'd been wet
from the moment their forearms had come into contact -- what
was it? -- hours ago, at least. It had to be. He'd been
doing these things to her for hours, they'd been touching
and kissing for--

Oh, his tongue slipped between her folds with unerring aim,
skillfully finding her clit. He only lingered there for a
moment, though, before going deeper, exploring further. His
hands he placed on her ass, copping a feel and keeping her
body upright at the same time. A multi-tasker at heart, my
Mulder, amazing Mulder, Multi-Tasking Mulder . . .

Thank God for the wall, or Mulder's support or no, she would
have fallen down. As it was, her head hit with a thud she
barely felt and her hands became anchored in his hair,
communicating in their silent way that he =must not move=.

How he was able to do this, she would never know. It wasn't
the easiest position in the world, yet he was managing just
fine. Better than fine. It felt like his entire face was . .
. oh, God, it was. His tongue was buried as deeply inside
her as it could go, stabbing and swirling until she thought
she would scream at the feel. And then she did scream,
because his nose, the nose he thought was too big but which
was =just right= brushed over her clit, once, twice, three
times and she was out of here, and she had been wrong,
=this= was what flying was like.

Not even the wall was enough to support her now and she slid
to the floor, her boneless body supported by her knees and
the strong bulk of the man who took her in his arms. His
mouth again, kissing her deeply, tasting different, she
could taste herself now and it reminded her of what he'd
just done, what it felt like, and that simple memory was
almost enough to make her come again.

Pulling herself closer to him, she wanted to press her skin
to his and . . . was utterly shocked to find him still fully
clothed. Her eyes flew to his, dismayed that he had rendered
her so completely oblivious to anything but his touch that
she'd forgotten to . . .

Oh, but now he was kissing her again, and who really cared,
she'd get him undressed now. Already she was clawing at the
bottom of his t-shirt, breaking the NASA space shuttle
worthy seal of their mouths long enough to rip it over his
head. And good God, that was better, his chest against hers,
warm and fuzzy, like the teddy bear she'd had growing up,
but with a decidedly sexual bearing. Yes, her Mulder, a
teddy bear to cuddle and fuck, keeping her safe for the
foreseeable future, for the rest of her life, forever . . .

She had his jeans and boxers halfway down his legs when he
made a distressed sound against her mouth. "Scully, not
here, we should . . . the first time, the first time should

"Wherever we are," she murmured against his mouth. End of
debate, Mulder, as her mouth covered his again.

Any further protests he might have made were silenced as her
hand wrapped around his cock. A need inside her desperately
wanted to be filled. To explore every inch of his body with
her mouth, to discover what each patch of skin tasted like.
But there was a greater need, something that could not,
would not wait.

Lying on the floor, she urged him on top of her. Not that he
needed urging. The earlier metaphor that occurred to her,
that Mulder had been sniffing around her like a dog in heat
was further explored as he practically devoured her, panting
against her skin as he worked his way up her body.

No hesitation, flowing again as her legs wound around him,
caressing his ass with her foot, his sides with the tender
skin of her inner thigh. His hands braced against either
side of her head, her own threading through his hair, eye
contact a necessity. There had been seven years of foreplay,
most of it conducted through every look and glance they
shared. It would somehow betray that if they were to lose
the windows to each other's souls now.

Inside her now, thrusting slowly, not getting used to her,
not learning how they would move together, but enjoying this
first time. There was only one first time, after all, and it
was to be savored. Kissing again, their eyes still wide
open, languidly thrusting in and out of each other, melding
as much of their physical selves as they could.

Speeding up, losing patience, the urge to complete, to
release the tension overruling the need to stay joined, to
stay whole as long as possible. There would be other times,
many, many future couplings where they would eradicate the
separateness they lived with in their day to day lives.

Minutes later, his semen spilling into her body, she felt
pleasure that rivaled the orgasm she'd had. He filled her,
in every conceivable way and it was everything. As he lost
the ability to support his own weight, he collapsed on top
of her and she held him tightly, arms and legs securing his
body to hers. Their hearts beat against each other, the
rapid, enraptured pounding of celebration.

His forehead rested against hers, his eyes still open, still
communicating silently the thousand truths they shared and

"There aren't enough realities in existence to fully
describe all the ways that I love you," he whispered against
her mouth.

"Why now?" she asked, returning his sentiment
enthusiastically with the way she still held him in her
body, the way her eyes spoke so many volumes to his. "What

"My perspective," he answered, as though it were a joke she
should get. His lips brushed over hers a few more times,
gently, paying her the worship he thought she deserved.
Maybe she did. But if that was so, then he deserved the same
in return.

"My perspective is as it has always been," she began softly,
so close to him that their lips touched as she spoke. "And I
love you now, just as I always have. With the full depth of
my understanding, not only of myself, but of you."

Finally, finally, his eyes shut and she felt hers do the
same. Breathing the same breath, bodies melting around each
other, souls inexorably twined past the point of
distinction, foreheads resting comfortably against each
other, their smiles kissed.


"She fights and vanquishes in me, and I live and breathe in
her, and I have life and being." -Miguel de Cervantes

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