Ato (R) - Japanese for After

Oh god, she was dying. Hell she was probably already dead, a bullet in the brain. And it was his fault, he hadn’t listened. He had thought he understood. The raving bitch was behind him, he pivoted and shot her. No! She was Scully too! Dead and dying Scully’s surrounded him, so this was hell. There was another one, and another. And he’d killed them all. Scully!

He jerked awake with her name on his lips, and fell back onto the couch trying to get his breath. Shit, that settled that, no more sleep this decade. Why did he even try? He stripped the damp t-shirt off and wiped his face. It took more than one try to get to his feet, then he headed into the kitchen and drank two glasses of water.

He noticed his hand was shaking and put the glass down. Well it had taken twenty-five years, but finally he had a nightmare more potent than when Samantha was taken. He’d come so close, so damn close to killing her. He’d have joined her of course, the next bullet would have been his, but that didn’t lessen his guilt or his fear.

Well, maybe he could work on the computer or something. He started back for the living room when a knock at the door stopped him. He glanced at his VCR, 2 a.m.? Shit, had she escaped already? He lifted his gun from the table and opened the door slightly.


"Can I come in?"

He opened the door, not sure what to say. Was it really her? Why would she be here at 2 a.m.?

"Did I wake you?"

He gave a non-amused snort. "No, I’m awake."

They stood in awkward silence for a moment.

"Maybe I shouldn’t have come."

"Why did you?"

"I..." she couldn’t tell him she needed to check up on him. That would really piss him off. "I couldn’t sleep. Do you mind?"

"No, no I’m glad you’re here. I need to talk to you."

"Okay." She started for the couch.

"You…you want anything?"

"How about a glass of water?"

"Be right back."

He stopped a couple of steps into the living room with her water. She had slipped off her shoes and had her feet on the couch under his afghan, her arms around her knees. Oh god, he had never wanted to put his arms around her more than this minute. He steeled himself to approach her. He put her water on the table, not trusting himself to hand it to her without betraying his shaking hands.

He sat on the couch, as far from her as he could get. She took a sip of the water and watched him.

"You okay?"

"Sure. I just…I don’t know how to get into what I need to say."

She reached out for his hand, but stopped when he flinched away from her. "Just say it Mulder."

"I want you to transfer out of the X-Files."

She stared at him, not saying a word. That wasn’t what he’d expected. He thought she’d blow up or tell him to go to hell. Maybe she was more receptive to the idea than he’d thought. So why didn’t that make him feel any better?

"Aren’t you going to say anything?"

"I, uh, I guess I need to hear your reasons."

"Well, you know what a loner I can be. I know I ticked you and Skinner off today, not wanting to listen to you. It just…it would be better not to have to…"

"Bullshit." She said softly.

He drew back, "What?"

"What’s the real reason you want to get rid of me?"

He couldn’t meet her eyes after a statement like that. "I’m not trying to get rid of you."

"Mulder, bullshit. Talk to me. Trust me."

He rose from the couch to be farther from her. Too many emotions. He couldn’t take this, not after the day he’d just had.

Struggling with himself he didn’t hear her leave the couch and didn’t realize she was so close until she placed her hand on his arm. It took all of his effort not to jerk away from her.

"The truth is you need me out of your life."

He didn’t respond.

"You care about me, and that scares you. It was easier on you when you were alone. When you didn’t care about anyone."


"No, I’m talking now. It’s too late, Mulder. You’re stuck with me and I’m stuck with you. Whether we like it or not, we’re together, even when we’re not. That’s why you didn’t shoot me today."

He did flinch at that and pulled his arm from her touch.

"You waited, because part of you knew it was me. You trusted your feelings, not just your eyes. You can do that when you’re with me. As for transferring, no Mulder. I’m not leaving you. You can’t get rid of me because it would be easier not to care. It’s too late, Mulder."

"No!" He grabbed her shoulders, "Do you have any idea how close I came to killing you today? Don’t you know!"

"You didn’t kill me. You couldn’t, you never could."

How could she be so damn calm about this? Didn’t she realize…? Why was she looking at him like that? And why was he focusing on her lips. He shouldn’t be staring at her lips. What was she…?

Scully had risen to her toes and brushed a light kiss on his lips. As she started to draw away he pulled her to him, deepening the kiss as he scooped her up in his arms.

He lowered her gently on the couch, his lips never leaving hers. He felt her finger gently outlining his nipple. His shirt? He’d taken it off after the nightmare. Shit, he had been trying to have a serious conversation with her wearing only his damn jeans. And now they were distressingly tight.

He took hold of her hand and brought it to his lips. "Scully, I’m in no condition to be making these decisions today."

"Couldn’t we, just this once, let the decisions make themselves?"


"Are you going to throw me out?"

Damn, that would be the best, but she’d come over because she didn’t want to be alone.

"No, but you’d better sleep in the other room."

"I get the actual Mulder bed? It might get lonely in there."

"That’s why I never use it. Go on. Now."

She obediently rose from the couch and bent over to retrieve her shoes. His eyes fastened on her perfect ass and he closed them, though it didn’t really block out the sight. She slipped from the room.

Now what? The TV might keep her awake. Maybe he could sleep, with her in the next room, where he knew she was safe. If he could get to sleep.


What woke him this time? He didn’t remember a dream. What? Then he heard her, crying in the next room. Should he go in?

"Mulder! No!"

Oh shit, she was having a nightmare now. He rushed into the room.

"Scully… Scully, wake up. It’s just a dream." He had his arms around her. What was she wearing? His Knick’s jersey. Well, no doubt in his mind what he’d be wearing tomorrow night.

She was clinging to him, trembling.

"Tell me the dream."

"I was back at the warehouse. I couldn’t stop you."

"And I killed you." He stated in a flat voice.

She looked up at him. "No! You killed yourself. I couldn’t get there to stop you." Her arms tightened around him.

He swallowed, "Looks like we’ve been dreaming at cross-purposes tonight."

"If that’s what this bed causes, our next sleepover will be at my place." She tried to smile, but couldn’t pull it off.

"It’s okay. It was just a dream."

"You would have done it." A statement, not a question, so he made no response.

"Mulder, promise me you won’t do that. No matter what."

"Can’t do it, Scully. Can’t make promises I might not be able to keep." She closed her eyes and seemed to burrow into his chest.

"Hold me."

He did, kissing the top of her head.

"Tell me what you’re thinking." He whispered.

She shook her head.

"Talk to me."

"I can’t."

"Scully, if you’ve changed your mind about the transfer…"

"No, it’s not that."

"What can you not say? You’ve never pulled any punches with me. Come on."

When she finally did speak it was so low he had to lean in closer to hear her.

"I want to make love with you."

What? He should respond, he had to respond. But the power of speech was gone as surely as if she had kicked him in the gut.

In the silence she drew away from him.

"I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have…"

He pulled her back to his chest, holding her tight.

"Mulder? What are you thinking?"

He swallowed hard. "That you could do a whole lot better."

He saw the flash of anger in her eyes as she caught his lower lip between her teeth.

"Ow! What…?" He pulled away and she grabbed a hand full of hair, turning him to face her.

"If you put down the man I love again, you’ll get a lot worse."

"Love…? You love me?"

"You damn idiot." She dashed away a tear that threatened to fall. "Are you going to tell me you didn’t know?"

"I didn’t dare…"

She shook her head as she caressed the stubble on his chin, then outlined his lip with her fingers.

"This could make it harder at work…"

"It could get harder?" Her hand closed over the bulge in his jeans.

He growled as he pulled her down on the bed and half covered her with his body.

"You are a witch, or an alien," he grinned. "No human woman could do this to me."

"Go ahead, tell me you don’t care, that you don’t want me."

He shook his head as he slowly removed his jersey from her body. She wore nothing underneath. She inhaled sharply as his tongue outlined her nipple.



"You better get rid of those jeans before you damage something."