*An extra big gigantic thank-you must go to Deb, who is not only helping me with my novel length, but still didn't come after me when I threw this at her at the same time. A trusted and honest opinion is cherished indeed.
Cloud of fire. Halo of fine silk, painted sanguine, scarlet in the half-light. Illuminated with flash of momentary intensity by the fury of lightning beyond the windows. Crimson blaze around her head, stark and brilliant against the pristine white of the pillows and the china doll porcelain of her skin.
I can see blazing sunsets over the ocean at dusk, the sky a tower of flame while my lips translate memory and the complexities of time into soundless phrases over the wide expanse of her naked back - perfect ivory of her skin under my lips, mouth working in slow reverence. There, over the small shells of her spine, tracing lightly upwards and over, learning its shape in this new and fascinating way - that shape already etched into my mind in the form of curves under the navy of a blazer, smoothness of wool under the palm of my hand. Now becoming the slightly salty tang of sweat, sweetness of skin, fine, blond hairs almost invisible to the eye, dampened and smoothed to the surface of her skin by the warm sweep of my tongue.
Her back arches up and away, pulling from the mattress, reaching for me with impatience and need. That low, throaty chuckle from her lips, in itself also familiar, but darker now with desire and this new exploration, as my hands push lightly at her shoulders. Gentle but firm, pressing her back to the bed, stilling her restlessness momentarily.
She is so beautiful. So beautiful, and I have always known this, always been aware. There is the flare of her hips now, tiny waist curving out and around, perfect swell. So small, this body. So fragile. Fragility already demonstrated in sickening detail by the acuity of disease and the terror of disappearance.
I could span this delicate construction of flesh and bone with the grasp of both hands. Easily wrapped around, encompassing all of her in the surety of my grip. There, the tiny pearls of her spine at its narrowest point. One harsh twist by unloving hands, one sharpness of force and she could be broken. All of my strength in its impressive standing, all of that power and knowledge and training - acuteness of education, deadly force of FBI training, honing of body into a physical ideal - and this is the truth of it. I am as strong as I can be, stronger than most in many respects, and here is the essence of my life held in the simple, delicate, fragility of tiny vertebrate with flushed glow of pale skin and smattering of freckles lying beneath me.
Her arms fan out, expanding over the pillows, stretching to lie with complete abandon, left to my whim. Trust so inherent in that simple gesture and the tears I knew were coming surprise me with their suddenness.
How had I always known the first time would bring tears?
Stretching above her, I press down into her body, relishing the feel of skin on skin. My head at her ear, kissing there now. I trace that path with the focus of committing each detail to memory, each small taste and sound. I catalogue them with infinite precision for later recollection and the always-useful knowledge of what she likes and what works best.
Slow process this - new understanding of a person already known better than I know myself.
"Mulder…" On a sigh, a sound found previous to these moments only in late-night dreams and the occasional errant mental picture arriving at the most inopportune of times. She twists beneath me, coming to rest on her back, presenting her face and the gleam of desire drugged eyes to the sight of my own now blurry with tears.
"Oh, Mulder." She kisses the tears away. Soft swipe of her tongue darting out to catch the drops before they fall. Little balls of moisture that escape my eye only to be found and captured by the healing kiss of her lips, smoothing away the flood of pent-up emotion, distilling it to the sensation of heated mouth and slight rasp of tongue over the stubble of my cheek.
Over my cheekbones - warm, soft, damp pillows of her lips. Up and around my eyebrows, framing my eyes with sweet little kisses. Down and over the roughness of day-old beard left to abrade her tender skin with marking sure to be present the next day. Finally, quickness of teasing tongue peeking out in the kiss just to the left of my mouth, then the right, before she is captured with a low growl and the sounds of sweet frustration.
I knew how she tasted before this moment. I knew it somewhere, somehow.
Maybe there is only the over-abundance of my memory supplying recollection where there is indeed none to be found. Maybe I do know, but in some distant lifetime, some other way.
I knew how she would taste even before her mouth first opened beneath me, before I claimed it with my own.
Bittersweet and branding like maple syrup over hot coals. Leaving an impression seared into my being and perfection in the purity if its flavor. I find it again now with the tangle of our mouths pushing the pace more swiftly forward. One of my hands cups and steadies her face, keeping her a willing captive, crushing our mouths together, while the other continues that slow memorization, now along her front.
Tips of her breasts such a hard contrast to the astonishing softness of the flesh supporting them. Small, hemispheric mounds with the perfection only nature could create. No falseness about her, no sculpted and structured beauty. Pale, so pale pink of their tips upon the petite structure of breasts never to be found on a model or stripper, but made more beautiful because of this fact. Her tiny body, with its butterfly bones and ethereal shield of cashmere skin, would look obscene with the over-abundance of silicone beauty.
With reverence now, I lower my mouth to those waiting tips and swallow the moan and gasp following this action. Swirl of mouth and I am trying to show her, trying to articulate with teeth and lips and tongue the purity if this. She is all I know of love, all I have ever known. Yet even though this is the truth, even though love is an emotion too often foreign and strange to my naked heart, I understand that her love is a rare thing to anyone's eyes. Even had my life been filled with over-abundance of care and concern, this strange awe and depth of emotion would still be profound and staggering.
The power of this is where that awe lies. The pure power of it is what staggers.
"Now, Mulder," she half-whispers. "Now." Tugging my mouth from its position hovering above her navel and bringing it to her own. Warmth of her strong fingers wrapped around me, and the moan is mine this time. Guiding hand between our bodies - her strength so deceptive in such a small package.
I have known this forever and can never be without the knowledge of it.
Our eyes lock, piercing blue of hers, searing me, claiming me like her lips and body. They lock with that always-silent communion we share, a million unnamed and unnamable emotions and memories flowing between us. Memory cascade of five years through the eye contact of a few seconds, as I push slowly and with unwavering gaze into her waiting body.
"Forever," I whisper, not yet blinking, not moving, not breathing, and I can see the echo of it in her eyes.
"Thank you, Mulder." The words were simple but heartfelt earlier that day.
She had known, of course, had suspected it. The old office gutted with fury of flame, pushing out and destroying so many things. So many memories and mementos lost, yet some bad had also been burned away with the good. This new start forced though it may have been, painful though the first sting of its realization would obviously allow him to fix certain things. He would want to do things right this time. She knew him well enough to realize that.
Of course he would get her a desk.
For all his self-obsessed determination, all his unthinking selfishness, there was always the undershadow of what she meant to him. Through all of that it remained. That simple chord taxed and strained through years of heartache and loss had remained intact enough for her to stay beside him this long. Despite the damage incurred, it still pulsed in tune with their heartbeats under the currents of who they were. It was enough to bind them together through unspeakable horror. It was enough for her to know that when she opened this door - the new one with her name attached in simple letters identical to his own - that there would also be a second identical desk.
The space was larger now with the absence of clutter; boxes and strange evidence now swept up in a blanket of ash. The space seemed more open, but she knew this perception was only temporary. Soon enough he would fill these walls again. With a pang, she hoped that day would arrive soon. These walls were naked without the evidence of his passion.
"You're welcome." His warm breath from above her ear, and then briefly the contact of large hands settling atop her shoulders, warming her through charcoal Donna Karan. The hands skittered down over her arms, fingers just shy of actually touching, trailing over and away before he reached her hands.
It was one more boundary pushed at, prodded, poked at and teased since their return from the glacial south. Little moments on a daily basis to see what was right for them now, which way to proceed.
Should we? Shouldn't we? What are we now, Mulder? So much more than partners, but we've known that for years already. Is the knowledge any more certain now than it was after my remission, my diagnosis, after Modell, my abduction? Has the almost acknowledgement of it changed so much? Why now? Why not?
Her jacket found its way to the back of a new chair, strangely lacking in its absence of squeak and protest when sat upon. Settling into the soft, black cushion, eyes stealing around the drabness of fresh paint and new linoleum, the scent of coffee was balm to her tired nerves when he placed the mug before her.
Smiling up at him, the questions were in her eyes, and in his she could see the promise of answers soon to come.
She knows, of course. She's always known. Our life together is a structure of difficult complexity and layered meaning, but underlying that the central chord remains the same. I love her and she knows it. She loves me and I know it. We've known forever, it seems.
What has stood in the way, what always tainted this meaning, was a burden of darkness rarely looked upon too clearly. We were swallowed by demons, surrounded by them. Ghosts of loved ones lost, chances abandoned, and choices made circled us in remembered torment. She carried her stones of torture and I carried mine and neither of us would allow ourselves even the sharing of that burden. We bound ourselves together more tightly with each moment passed and distanced ourselves more greatly at the same time.
Separate but together. Crying out but silent. The red rims of her eyes from crying were always visible the next day, and even Clinique could hide only so much. She stoically bore it all with the facade of endless strength, more strength than anyone should be expected to possess, and we lived easily in our self-enforced isolation.
It's so easy to become trapped by these things, to be swallowed by the cycle of it, to never acknowledge what is clearly wrong and so easily fixed. Bitterness grows and festers. Blame unwanted and unfounded taints true emotions and steals into unsuspecting dreams. Love untended is choked so easily even when left unvoiced.
So many terrible things between us, Scully and I. I never wanted it to be that way.
But it seemed unchangeable after the fact. It seemed that too much had happened to be repaired. She had suffered too much because of me, lost too much. How could I heal her when I was the cause? How could I expect her to want my help, want me, when I didn't even know how to give it, didn't think she should even want it?
Then the greatest shock of all - that she should be so unaware of my need of her, that she might truly think she was nothing more than a hindrance to me. But that wasn't really it, I don't think. She *was* aware, on some level, of what she meant to me. I think she just needed to hear it, just needed that affirmation and recognition of what we were. So much pain between us, and she needed to know for certain that the bond was still there, that I needed her in the same ways I always had.
I *do* need you, Scully. I need you in a way that makes the thought of your absence a dark, deep hole, black and sucking in at the edges, swallowing the light. Terrifying and real, that threat. Not need like air or water, because I know that the basic process of living could continue without your presence. Need because though I would still draw each breath, though I would still wake each day, the light would be gone and I would be living from within the depths of that hole - stark and barren without the hope of ever emerging again.
Such need, Scully. Didn't you know?
I needed to say it. I know that. The process of saying the
words, giving them substance and form and reality accomplished something
I had feared impossible. It brought her back to me, opened our eyes
again. It was so simple really. Just say the words, scatter
them to the floor where the light can reach and watch them sparkle.
Say the words and then you will both know, and each know that the other
knows, and you'll remember what it was that kept you together through these
five long years in the first place.
We gave the suffering some meaning with those words. Yes we have suffered. Yes much has been lost. Too much. But through all of that we still have this. In this world now revealed to be so dark, so full of evils unimagined, there is still the existence of something with this purity of form. We have endured years of pain, often because of our own stubborn inability to share that pain, and yet I would still fight to the death for this, still sell my soul, because something this pure must be worth at least that price.
Why have we been so stubborn, Scully?
It would be comical, really, if it weren't so tragic. Two people so headstrong, such opposites, so convinced that weakness is a fate worse than death. Our ability to share was completely lost. We are such compliments to one another, such perfect, necessary opposites, and yet our own strength kept us from confiding in the one and only person capable of helping to shoulder the burden.
Then, simple words in a lonely hallway and it all starts to crumble. Simple words and a desperate search to the ends of the Earth have stripped some of those barriers away, and now we are left to find where we stand. What happens now, Scully? Do we remember how to be this bare? Do we remember what it means to love without hiding, share without fear, touch without flinching? How far can we push this, Scully? Where should we go?
You were standing there, looking up at me with such determination in those eyes of yours. Pure, loyal blue. Fierce. Strong. Mine, even if I didn't want you, even if - for your own sake - I was trying to push you away. Mine, your eyes said, and it was a double meaning. We belong to each other, they told me. You can't hide from that. You can't wish it away. It's as inescapable as the shifting tides.
The wind was light and cool, the first stirring of autumn on the horizon, and it picked little wisps of your hair up and twisted them about your face. Light gauze of little flames framing your eyes, catching for a moment on the shape of your lips before pulling away again. I wanted so much to touch you, to reach out and feel the heat of those flames, smooth them back and stake my claim.
You did it for me, reaching down with tentative, tiny fingers, wrapping cool and sure around my own. A light squeeze, which I returned, and then the grip was no longer tentative. Firm and sure, possessing. Our fingers tangled with the sun reaching up over our backs and the coolness of that breeze still playing along your face. You took a step then, turning away but not letting go, and I knew without pause that somehow everything would be all right. The world could crumble around my feet, but with you by my side there would still be some small hope in my heart. The challenges would come again, but our hands and hearts would still be holding on, still clinging to one another with strength now proven the rival of even death, even impossibility.
Strolling almost, side by side, I released your hand and placed mine in its rightful spot. Not guiding but a connection. Warm strength of your back beneath my palm. Soft link between us as we walked along the paths of that park. Past mouments and milestones now known to be so tenuous and fragile. Skeleton of lies supporting it all. Evil undercurrent few could see threatening to swell as a flood at any moment. We walked among those false tributes, and I was shocked at the serenity of it.
You were solid beside me, warm scent just barely noticeable, carried by the breeze, tangible beneath my fingers. My one truth that they could never take, never corrupt, never deny. You were solid beside me, assuring me of the simplicity of what we were, the singularity of our purity amidst the lies.
Smiling, you stopped to look up at me. Never small to me, my Scully. Never of lesser stature. My equal, even if you haven't always felt it. You looked up at me, and the smile was so many things at once, sad and determined, peaceful and sure. You looked up at me and smiled, saying with the warmth of your voice more familiar than my own, "Let's walk for a while, Mulder. It's a beautiful day." And you were right. It was.
That night when she went home, it was a peace she hadn't known in many months. Opening the door to her apartment, dropping the briefcase to the floor, kicking off of shoes to corners left unseen and unsearched for until the next day when they would be needed again, stripping off of work clothes and the donning of more comfortable apparel. She ambled with calm fatigue to the kitchen and put the kettle on the stove. Routine so familiar it was almost autopilot, but it was a routine comfortable and serene in a way thought lost and forgotten.
When did I lose the simple peace of returning home after a long day of work, she thought. When did I lose that effortless gift?
She wasn't sure, but knew in fact that it *had* been missing. Even her home had ceased to comfort in recent months. Her sanctuary of quiet color and soft warmth was lost to her after a time. No longer seeming safe and certain, it hadn't protected her from too many things. Too much of the evil had penetrated here and now left stains on the walls and lingering scent in the air.
More than that, too, it was the knowledge that there was no place in existence that could truly be called a sanctuary anymore. The sorrow could reach anywhere. Nowhere she could move to or hide would free her from that. The world was tainted, and so home no longer held the meaning it once had.
As she picked the teapot up and off the stove, not allowing the water to get too hot, not quite boiling, she basked in the realization that those lost feelings had returned. Dunking the teabag once, twice, and then again, the simple calm wrapped her in silence and comfort, pulling her in and welcoming her back.
The evil *had* penetrated here, *had* left its stains, but it was gone now, for a time. It would return, she knew. The battle was not over. But despite those realities, despite the uncertainty of the future, she still remained, persisted, despite the odds. She had lived through things unbelievable and unlikely and had faith enough now to believe that she could do it again.
She would not allow that darkness to destroy any more of what she was. She had allowed that to go on for far too long. Not anymore. Not again. She was alive and healthy, with the promise of a future - no matter what it might hold - and she would latch onto as much of that future as her hands could grasp for as long as she could hold on.
The scorch of English Breakfast running down her throat, soothing her frayed nerves, quieting her mind, and even alone in her apartment she could still feel him with her. Hovering as if just behind her back, just around the corner, just out of her line of vision, but still near enough to touch if she would only turn around and seek him out. He was there with her even miles away, and that was the greatest comfort of all.
The television was too much anxiety to handle, and she had never liked TV much to begin with. No cable here at her home. It wasn't necessary. Instead she opted for the cool, green glow of her expensive component system and the shuffling sound of sorting CDs until Sting's bluesy voice filled the air.
Why now? Why not? What next, Mulder?
The easy give and take of their early years seemed back but now shadowed and enriched by the complexity of experience woven between them. What were they after all of this? Definition had always eluded them, but usually in a way strangely right to the people that they were. Now, she wanted some definition, wanted to be able to claim that certainty, to be able to say "here, this, here is what we are, what we mean, this is exactly what we are to each other."
Could they find that? Was it even possible? Doubtful, she realized. They escaped and defied definition and would always do so, it seemed. Even if things did progress towards where she saw so much promise, even if they were to become lovers, *that* definition wouldn't encompass it all either. Nothing would. Nothing could. They were everything those words meant and so much more. Simple in the abject purity of their bond and amazing in the multi-layered meaning.
We simply are *everything* together, Mulder, and that doesn't scare me anymore.
Her head fell into the softness of pillows at her back, eyes slipping closed. The mug of tea was left drained and solitary on the coffee table, and she allowed her thoughts to drift, not caring if sleep overtook her then, almost wishing that it would. The knock at her door interrupted sleep's progress, however, and she knew who it would be before she even opened her eyes.
He regarded her in a way gently appraising while standing in the doorway to her home, taking in the simplicity of big men's shirt and faded jeans, rag socks and hair tousled from one too many fingers run through it. He regarded her without words, and her eyes never left his throughout this visual sweep. When he looked back up to find her gaze, the smile in her eyes was one part amused, one part questioning, and one part something more he was no longer afraid of returning.
"I was just thinking," he began, "That I needed a cup of coffee."
Her lips twitched quizzically.
"And," softer this time, "someone to share it with."
The questioning look became one of pleasure.
He returned that joy and offered his hand. "Come out and get some coffee with me, Agent Scully?"
"I have coffee in my apartment, Agent Mulder." Teasing banter in her tone.
"But I want to get out and pretend to be normal." A hesitant pause. "I want to take you out somewhere that's not work or home or anything else complicated. Just us." His eyes held hers in faint challenge, and she didn't look away.
Turning finally, she shut off the lights and CD player, picked her wallet up off the table near the door, shoved it into her back pocket, and pushed past him into the hall. Closing and locking the door behind her, she met his eyes studying her from just above her head and spoke quietly with the acceptance of many things in her voice. "So where are we going, Mulder?"
His smile was a bright light in the dim hall, and the shadows were pushed back to cower in dark corners, evil held at bay for the time being by the simplicity of what they were.
Sitting in the booth at the back of the diner, they were nothing remarkable, unusual, or profound. The man - oddly good-looking, a little too thin, but in a toned and muscular way. Dark, haunted eyes. His soul on his sleeve. The woman - tiny, wearing shadows of strange pain in her eyes for one so young, hair the color of a solar flare, the red-gold of summer sunsets. Huddled together as if to conserve space in the overly spacious booth. Intimate. Hushed. Obviously long-time lovers out trying to find some quiet in these busy city streets that never slept.
The waitress allowed one fleeting fissure of envy before forgetting the emotion and moving on towards duties necessary and work still to be completed. The man paid little heed to her passing and remained intent in his study of the woman's little fingers as they wrapped firmly around the width of a warm cup of coffee.
"I think I've ingested enough caffeine today to stay awake for at least a week." She said the words with a smile.
"Ah, caffeine, the giver of all life and sustenance." Low humor in his return.
Her grin around the next sip was comment enough.
She looks different somehow tonight, he thought. Tired, but that's a familiar image. Unguarded in some manner, not weighed down by something usually present. She looks content, peaceful, serene, though the rarity of those thoughts is a sad comment on the state of our lives. Sitting across from me at this moment, she actually looks happy.
That little twist of smile as she stared down into the depths of her coffee mug - strange, wonderful, knowing smile seen also earlier today while in Skinner's office. A welcome-back visit, not much by way of official business. A simple sit-down session to discuss how long before they would be allowed back into the field, to inform that Scully was indeed fully recovered, and to hint that *if* a letter of resignation *had* been written, it was likely that such a letter would probably have been forgotten or misplaced in the confusion of recently unfolding events.
Skinner had seemed genuinely pleased to have them back when he spoke. "I trust that we can attempt to get everything back to normal now, Agents." The sarcasm at their supposed normality was not missed.
Scully had looked over at him from her traditional seat to his right, given him that strange, little smile and looked quickly away. So much in that smile, he had been forced to analyze it during the entire elevator ride down to the basement. No complete answers had been forthcoming, and her reflection in the polished metal of those elevator doors had offered no more evidence to examine.
Skinner, if he noticed, gave nothing more than a briefly puzzled look before ushering them out of the office and down to their old home, now newly shrouded by the vapor of fresh latex paint.
What mysteries was she unraveling there in the murky depths of brown liquid made light tan by the accompaniment of cream but no sugar? What did she see?
"Scully?" A penny-for-your-thoughts tone shading his voice.
"Hmmm…" She looked up and smiled again, more brilliant this time, less of a complicated meaning and more true affection in the motion.
Cocking his head just a pinch to one side, he asked the question with action rather than words. What are you thinking right now, Scully? What have you found? Do I make you smile like that, Scully? Could I possibly have that kind of power? Or is it something else entirely? Do I just imagine that we are somehow more than whole only when together?
"I just…" She paused, tracing the lip of the mug with an absent-minded finger, lights from the ceiling above catching on the reflection of short, rounded nails. "Everything feels different now, Mulder."
The stark honesty of those words startled him.
Different how, Scully? Different in the way that I think? Have we finally arrived on the same page for once? Different good, or different bad? Good, I think, from the beauty of that smile, but how can I ask to be sure?
"Different?" he questioned, keeping the tone light, not revealing.
Their gazes locked, and her expression was of complicated emotions she was struggling to articulate but failing in the process. "Different." Her simply stated reply again.
He didn't look away, didn't try to hide, instead searching her eyes for the truths behind those words and finding enough of what he already knew to reply gently and with confidence. "Yes, Scully. Everything *is* different now."
Across the diner, the waitress pushed a wet sponge over the grimy surface of an abandoned table, looked up at the couple so immersed in one another that it was eerie, and wondered briefly how much longer they would spend staring at each other like that and how much of a tip they would hand over when they finally decided to leave.
I've never believed in love at first sight and generally could not accept the idea that there was only one specific person with whom you could ever be complete. Life is a game of chance, I thought. We move and change and encounter new people along the way. The people we meet, who becomes a part of our lives, is somewhat random. My father's transfer to Maine rather than Miami dictated that I would meet Brian during my junior year of high school, but what if it *had* been Miami? Who would I have met then? I had a wonderful junior year of high school, but would it have been any less wonderful in Miami with some other boy? Would I have been less content?
Chance, I thought, and was sure of the observation. I might marry someday, whenever I could find someone with whom I could share my life. Children possibly, if I ever found myself ready. But a soulmate? One person destined by fate and powers beyond my control to stand beside me for the rest of my life? Did I believe in that? No. Do I believe in that now? I'm not really sure.
All I am sure of, all I can state with certainty, is that when I first met Mulder, there was the sensation of currents shifting, some small change taking place, the occurrence of important events somehow beyond my control even though the acceptance of that assignment was something I had made a conscious decision in. Not love at first sight. A slow, invisible growth before that emotion was in place, but definitely something there from the start, definitely more than just a random meeting.
If I had not accepted that assignment, if I had never met Mulder, I know that I would most likely have met someone someday. Eventually, I would have settled down. But I cannot escape the feeling that I would have always felt something lacking. I cannot help knowing that somehow, there would always be something missing I wouldn't be able to name. I know without question that I am much more with him than I ever could have been with anyone else.
If this means we were destined for each other, somehow that doesn't feel so wrong. There is simply no other explanation for it that I can find. How else could two people who are such opposites, whose very opposition should make them the worst of enemies, become so totally joined? How else could that same opposition become the force capable of pulling them back from the brink of death time and again, pushing them forward towards places neither could ever have gone alone? What other explanation exists?
Life may be a game of chance for most people, but I am beginning to understand that this life, my life has always held Mulder in its grasp. There was never the possibility of being without him. Of this I am now sure. He loves me with the same honest simplicity that I love him. It is a connection few even try to understand.
His arm had brushed mine lightly as we walked from our office and out to the parking lot earlier this evening. That so slight contact we've always allowed, now with a feeling of greater energy to it than ever before. Always beside me, Mulder, even when thousands of miles away. Always beside me and it saves us both time and again. Always, Mulder, and that's *more* than love.
You said that I make you a whole person, and I think that's the true gist of it, the essence of the matter. Love's too simple a word, too open to different definitions and interpretations. There are many different kinds of love with many different levels of dedication and loyalty at the center of those loves, Mulder. I make you a whole person, and that's what we are then. We are each other in completion. Not so complicated after all. You found the words, Mulder, the definition I was searching for, and I will say now, and without skepticism, that you were right.
She unlocked her apartment door with the question of what he would do next foremost in her mind. Would he come in? Should she invite him? The traditional evening excuse of an invite in for coffee was obviously not an option. They were sailing uncharted waves and she searched blindly for the shore.
In the end, he made the decision for her, following her in and closing the door behind like the question had never even entered his thoughts.
Like he belongs here, she thought, but then he probably does.
Rain had started a slow march over the panes of her windows - that light tapping sound increasing in tempo and promising a storm. She was one motion from reaching for the light switch when a bolt of lighting streaked the heavens. Deterred from that path, she made her way over to the windows, pushing back the curtains, filling her living room with the fury of a growing storm.
"I've always loved thunderstorms," she said, crossing her arms over her chest, hugging herself lightly while staring out into the night.
The mumble from behind her back was highlighted by the sensation of him coming to stand just behind her, only a few inches away.
"I used to sit up at night and watch them while Missy slept." Her pause was more old memory than pain. "We moved around so much, I became something of a connoisseur. The middle of the country had some pretty impressive storms, lots of rain and wind and fury. But the best lightning, the most amazing was in Florida. We lived there for a little less than a year while I was in junior high, and I can still remember that lightning, even today."
There was the brief shuffle of feet as he moved a bit closer, the just barely there feeling of his brushing against her back, faintest of contact between their bodies.
"I was never afraid, not even when I was little. I loved the power of it, the fierce beauty. More than that, though, I loved that I was completely safe despite all of that power, sheltered and untouchable in the warmth of my home." Her voice was liquid and low, not rushing or reaching out.
The long shapes of his fingers came up and around to rest lightly on her arms across her belly, tracing there. Warm tips of his fingers starting at the wrist, drawing little circles, spiraling up slowly, over the forearm, coming to dip gently into the crease of her elbow, out again to move over the solid strength of bicep and then the beginning of that same journey back down. Her shiver was just barely perceptible and found evidence in the scattering of goose bumps coming to adorn her arms under the thin cotton of her shirt.
Her voice still smooth, but suddenly with a vibrant undercurrent. "I'm still fascinated by it, even now. All that beauty - fury no one can control."
Hands making the return trip up again, contact so faint as to be almost invisible, but this time he strayed from the outside of her upper arms, bringing his fingers inside, just grazing the sides of her breasts where they touched her arms. The tips of his fingers only, making the contact for a lingering moment before he moved back down again, away from dangerous territory.
Her sigh shuddered out unheeded, unmistakable in its desire.
He brought his head to rest just lightly upon her shoulder, watching the movements of his hands over her arms. Her eyes were closed when he turned his head slightly, looking for her acceptance, that this was all right. They were closed and her lips were parted just the smallest bit, little gasping sighs making their occasional way out.
When his fingers reached her wrists again, he stopped and began fiddling with the buttons on her cuffs. They slipped free from old, stretched buttonholes and left wide openings in the already overly large shirt. Pushing gently, the fabric made a slow hiss over her skin, past her elbows before stopping. Bare skin then beneath his fingers, and he could feel the little shivers running through her body.
Back up again and in, the backs of his hands rubbing just gently over the outer swell of her breasts. He watched in avid fascination, as beneath the cool cotton, hardened tips became apparent, pushing at the fabric. All of this complimented by the wonderful sound of her rapid breath and quiet gasp.
"Mulder…" Those two syllables, that simple pronunciation of his name and he was undone. Tightening his arms around her with fury to match the storm, he spun her around with a rapid twist and tilted her chin up to meet him in one fast motion.
"This is the part where you tell me to stop, Scully. This is where I'm supposed to leave." His voice was rough and straining, dreading that she might actually agree, but needing to remind her. This was it, no turning back after this. No second chances. This was forever if she didn't stop him. He prayed to God that she wouldn't stop him.
"Don't you remember, Mulder?" she asked, wrapping one arm around his waist while the other came up to rest just behind his neck. "Everything is different now."
There was one moment of fusion, where her eyes and his locked in final granting of permission, final acceptance of what was, final understanding of the inevitability of this. One last shared glance as less than lovers before that line was crossed.
No turning back now, Mulder. It's been years since we had the option of turning back. This already is. All that's left now is to embrace it.
It was an action of unconscious cooperation, him bending at the waist, her rising up on her toes, reaching forward both of them. Faint catch of his lips on hers, first careful brush. So like that kiss in the hall, that kiss that almost was. Texture of their lips sliding over each other softly, tentative, learning the feel of that skin. Not enough moisture and she darted her tongue out quickly to remedy that, to moisten her lips. The contact was brief but electric - her tongue just passing over his lips as he kissed her again. Brief but quickly loosening his careful restraint.
His arms pulled her completely flush against his body, crushing her to him. One hand rose to cradle the back of her head, trapping her mouth to his. She opened beneath him on the smallest of moans, almost a whimper, and the rest of the world lost both focus and meaning.
He possessed her immediately, invading her mouth, claiming her with a wave of ownership and the rough sweep of his tongue over smoothness of cheek and ridges of her teeth. She fought for a brief moment, competitive for control even in this with him before conceding defeat, at least for the moment.
Backpedaling, it was only a few baby stumbles before the window became cold at her back. Outside, she could still hear the rain, pounding now against the glass.
Roaming in quiet awe, his hands began a gentle, cautious sweep of her body. This is happening, he realized. This is happening now, after all this time, all this pain, all that's happened. Despite the loss, we've managed to salvage this, somehow. I can't believe this is finally happening. I had thought even the prospect gone forever.
Then he was lost. Lost in the perfect Braille of her ribs beneath the skin, in the tapering of those ribs, giving way to soft flesh, narrowing into the curve of an impossibly tiny waist. Settling there, his hand pulled her still closer, pressing evidence of the direction of these events into perfect clarity against her stomach. His other hand left its previous occupation of massaging the smooth muscles of her back and came forward to begin the tedious process of loosening round buttons from their now obstructive moorings.
Fumbling again, there were too many buttons, it seemed. Way too many for his peace of mind. The struggle was fierce but quickly won, and she finally came to stand before him with large open shirt framing the image of gray silk bra above old blue jeans. Contrast of silk and denim and her skin. No frills. Simplistic beauty.
He stepped back, little huff of air escaping his lungs.
Smiling in a way so trusting, so loving, with the joy of final understanding, she reached behind her with slow, sure fingers to unclasp the bra. Practice obtained by some twenty odd years, the clasp gave with ease and gaped around her front. Shrugging ever so slightly, the shirt puddled in a quiet heap on the floor.
Her fingers moved to push the straps of the bra down before he stopped her.
"I want…" But he didn't finish. The sentence was stalled somewhere and he forgot the intent of finishing it. It wasn't needed anyway. She read his intention and allowed her arms to go slack against her sides.
He stood just a step back from her. Cupping the round curve of
each shoulder, he held her there before him, not moving, not touching further,
her bra still hanging loose.
"So long, Scully," he whispered, holding her still.
She didn't ask, didn't need to. It has been long, Mulder, she thought. So long now this thing between us unanswered and growing. Days and weeks and years of slow accumulation. So long and so many times I feared it lost and damaged beyond repair. A long time, Mulder. But we've arrived here, and these years have given us our definition. We've found our meaning.
There was a light in her eyes, a subtle flare of understanding he read easily. Finding it and having nothing else to say, he moved his hands over the thin straps, pushing over first one, then the other, until he held the small garment in the grasp of one hand and could drop it easily to the floor.
Not shy - not before his eyes - she watched as he took her in. He was unreadable at first, slowly wrapping her in a gaze she knew was meant for clear memorization. Sliding his eyes over the dip of her collarbone, subtle indentation, then the smooth plane of skin above her breasts, he froze with thoughts immersed in the wonder of such a simple thing as seeing her unguarded before him. Reaching out with the tips of two fingers only, he traced one nipple lightly while looking up into her eyes.
How did I always know she would be this beautiful?
The circles his fingers delicately painted swam around this thought, as she shivered and sighed beneath his touch.
I always knew.
Needing to return the caress, she reached up to remove his shirt, sliding hands under soft fabric and pushing up until he got the hint. With fluid motion, his shirt joined hers in the growing mess littering her floor. The wonder was returned, as her hands found territory already seen a thousand times but never before in quite this way.
It was his hand moving from merest whisper of touch to the warmth of full palm and teasing fingers that pushed things forward. Her head dropped back on non-supportive shoulders. Her eyes closed. Her lips fell open on the breathiest of moans, unrestricted, uninhibited, the surety of a woman safe with a man known so well and so completely. It was a sight that had haunted his dreams, a sound he had only dared to imagine on rare occasions. Imagination so pale and sickly to the sharp reality of flushed skin and her stuttering breath.
He drew her forward again, pulling them together, the searing sensation of skin on skin, pulsing current between them. Imagination sustained in sad persistence over five long years and he had never even approached this. So dull and flat those images. So plain. He had never been able to feel the tiny pads of her fingers dipping into his back in those dreams. He had never imagined the silk of the inside of her cheeks, that faint sheen of sweat dampening her lower back. Never once had he envisioned the feel of her breath washing his lips when they pulled momentarily apart or the grip of her little teeth on those same lips when their kisses grew more rough.
Dreams couldn't breath, couldn't sigh. There wasn't the rise and fall motion of each breath beneath his hands in his imagination. His mind hadn't even gotten the smell right. Because even though he had always known how Scully smelled, even though it was a scent he could pinpoint blind or deprived of her presence for long amounts of time, he had never known this intensity of it. It bathed him now. Surrounded him. Washed him in her presence. Scent of sea and wind, comfort and peace, rain in the early morning and bliss of eyes closing just before slumber. Fantasies never could conjure the overwhelming intoxication of her fragrance as she was wrapped in his arms, as he was wrapped within hers.
Fantasy had nothing on reality.
Her jeans slipped off without the awkwardness he had found with her shirt. Kneeling before her, he held her small feet one by one and maneuvered the denim off of her body. Pulling the last leg free, he straightened on his knees to place an open-mouthed kiss just above the final barrier of her panties.
She watched with calm silence, calm despite her racing pulse, as his fingers tucked so lightly under the sides of her underwear, pulling down gently, easing off and away. Every sense was alert, every nerve standing on end. There was the cool wash of air over parts of her body usually covered - the strange feeling of standing naked to the air. Tingling sensation where his mouth left damp reminders of his kisses. Coldness of hardwood floor beneath her feet. Warmth of his hands gripping her hips. Then the wash of breath where no one had touched in far too long, where no on else but he could have touched now and for years before this moment.
Dizzying, swirl of sensation. Waves of warmth tinged by electricity. Building sense of urgency. Nothing else could exist; nothing else could be real but the feel of him, his mouth, slow worship. Nothing else could penetrate the curtain of her senses except the tensing pull of something unavoidable now. The forgotten intensity, never known intensity of the dam about to break. She stood at the top, consumed by the swirling current, sure it couldn't end. She stood at the top and opened her arms wide, embracing the fall, welcoming it. She stood at the top and began free fall atop slow, pulsing stars and soft, white light.
After, she was cradled in his arms, safe and sheltered in a ball of two people seated on the floor.
He was watching her, sweeping the hair from her eyes, trailing fingers around her lips and up over her cheeks. His smile was gentle and pure, calm and assuring. Coming back to herself completely, she looked up into his eyes, noticing that he was still half-dressed beneath her.
On slightly tottering feet, she slipped from his grasp and stood up. Reaching out a hand, she pulled him to his feet and turned towards her bedroom, leading him with the clasp of their joined hands.
He pauses above me, whispering.
He says it so plainly, so certain. It isn't a pledge or an oath. It isn't his desire or dreams. He is saying what is, what we are.
We are forever.
Through fear and betrayal, through misery and dread, we are forever. We fight against terrible things; we fight against each other. We are distant at times, inseparable at others. Sometimes at odds, sometimes in challenge necessary for progress, sometimes in frustration, yet we remain together. Necessary despite this. Terrible tragedy of our circumstances, total unbelievably of reality only we two know and can never tell another soul. We survive all of this. We *are* all of this. It is a part of us whether we want it or not. It binds us, weaves us up together in the same tapestry. Forever because I can never leave him, because he can never leave me, not without us both losing the essence of who we are.
Mulder has found the words again.
He sings along in my blood with each pump of my heart - so completely a part of me. He has become the totality of my world. Family lost through events they have not been able to understand. Friends for the same reason. He is the sole inhabitant of my life. Familiar to me in ways more clear at times than my own habits. His scent. His eyes when he is angry, sad, frustrated, amused, aroused. His fears. Even the terrible parts of him. His selfishness, his rage, times when he has been petty, unforgiving, jealous. All of these things. Everything that he is. I know all of it, knew all of it for so long now.
I don't say it back. He is looking down at me, unified in the complete awe of this, what we are becoming, and I know he will be able to see it in my eyes. We have always communicated best this way. Words have rarely been necessary, and right now, I am beyond words, beyond thought, beyond even sensation. There are only his eyes looking into me, his heart pounding under my palms, and as he begins to move within me, I concentrate on that sound, the simple beating of his heart above mine.
Comments, praise, and simple observations are always appreciated and
responded to with love at - firstname.lastname@example.org
This was my first attempt at something even bordering the realm of smut (though admittedly, I don't like that term) and I was nervous as hell writing it, so I'd be interested to see what you think.
Thanks for reading -
Morgan (who's off to swim once again in the cool seas of angst where she belongs)