Best Friends - complete



Part 1

He checked his watch again. She should be back by now. What had Skinner wanted to see her about this late anyway? Hell, he'd go by on his way out. Maybe they'd be through by then.

No one was left on the floor. Angie must have left right after she called Scully. He raised his hand to knock on the door. He didn't hear any voices, was that a grunt? What was going on? The door wasn't locked; he opened it and froze in shock.

There on the sofa was Skinner savagely thrusting himself into Scully. He held both of her hands over her head in one of his. Her eyes were wide in terror and pain, but her gag allowed no screaming. The grunts he heard were coming from Skinner.

He couldn't remember moving across the room, but he had his hands on Skinner's shoulders, hauling him off of her and slamming him into the floor. He hit Skinner two or three times in the face, hearing his nose break before he got control enough to stop, and he realized Skinner was unconscious. He rolled him to his stomach so he wouldn't choke on his own blood, and cuffed him to the leg of his desk. Then he turned back to Scully.

She had managed to remove her gag and was huddled in one corner of the sofa, trying to catch her breath.

"Scully?" He reached out his hand and she jerked back violently.

"No, don't touch, don't - " and she ran past him to the private en-suite. Mulder stood there helplessly listening to her retch. He slowly followed her in and pulled several towels from the dispenser, wet them and handed them to her. She wiped her face and sat back against the wall.

"Let me help you." He reached down to lift her to her feet.

"No! Go in the other room. I'll - I'll be there in a minute."

Mutely he backed away from her and retreated to the office. He checked on Skinner. His heartbeat was way too fast for someone unconscious.

She emerged from the lavatory and he got his first good look at her. Her clothes were in shreds, there was a large bruise starting on her face and bite marks on her breasts and stomach.

"I'll call the police."

"No! Don't call anyone. I don't want anyone to know about this."

"Scully, you need treatment. You - "

"I'm fine, Mulder."

"Scully, you're - you're bleeding. He's obviously caused a lot of trauma."

She looked dully down at the blood trickling down her leg. "There's nothing that wasn't already damaged beyond repair. Don't worry - "


Why was Mulder crying? Had he hurt himself when he was fighting with Skinner? What was he saying? Concentrate, Dana. Stay in control.

"Mulder, I need some clothes. Could you find me something?"

"Sure, whatever you need. I - I don't want to leave you - " he glanced at Skinner.

"He's not going anywhere. Go on, I need the clothes."

He was back in no time with sweats and a t-shirt she kept in the office. She retreated to the lavatory to change. She came out carrying the ruined clothes and Mulder took a step toward her, stopping as she cringed.

"I'll bag those as evidence."

"No. I'll burn them."

"We've got to call the police, Scully."

"No." The look on her face froze him. "We have to get him out of here. We'll take him to his apartment."

"Scully . . . "

"If you won't help me, I'll do it alone." She was deadly serious. She turned and looked around for his clothes, littered on the floor. She reached down for his pants.

"No, Scully, let me do that. Why don't you sit down." Instead she retreated to the window, turning her back as Mulder struggled to redress the comatose man.

"Okay Scully, he's dressed. His pulse is way up there."

"He was drugged."

"How do you know that?"

"Skinner wouldn't do . . . this was out of character." She stated it so flatly, no emotion, not even any sarcasm for such as understatement. "We'll have to use your car. I don't think we can get him in my back seat like this. Well? Come on."

He didn't know how to handle this; it was too close to him. She was in shock, but so was he. Rather than dwell on it, he unfastened Skinner and hauled him up off the floor.

"Can you carry him?"

"Yeah. Get the elevator."

He barely managed to make it to the car. Skinner was a big man, and complete dead weight. Scully had had to help him get him into the back seat, retreating as soon as possible. He got into the car himself with shaking knees and turned in time to see Scully wince as she sat beside him.

"Scully, you've got to have medical attention."

"Later, let's get him to his apartment. Have you got his keys?" He nodded and pulled out of the parking lot.

Getting Skinner into his apartment was slightly easier. He was beginning to come around and with Mulder's help, actually staggered out of the elevator on his own feet.

Mulder put him on his bed and he was out again. Mulder rejoined Scully who was standing, unmoving in the middle of Skinner's living room.

"You want some tea? Or something stronger?" Mulder desperately wanted to comfort her, but was afraid to get too close.

"Tea, tea would be fine."

He retreated to the kitchen and she was vaguely aware of cabinets opening and dishes rattling. When he returned she was still standing in the same spot.

She took the cup he offered, but seemed to want it more to warm her hands than to drink.

"Scully, let me take you home. You can't do anything here tonight."

"No. I don't want to go home. I want . . . I need to talk to Skinner."

"You can't do that tonight. I'll take you home and call your mother to come over."

"No! Besides, she's in California. Mulder, swear to me you'll never tell her about this."

"Scully . . . "

"Swear it Mulder." He nodded. "I want to hear you say the words."

"I swear I won't tell your mother what happened."

She nodded and seemed to relax a little.

"Look, he's going to be out for a while. Why don't you stretch out on the couch, see if you can rest a little?"

She nodded and walked haltingly to the couch, as though walking required a thought process she couldn't grasp.

Mulder's heart broke at the sight of her. He'd never seen her like this, never defeated. And she wouldn't let him near her.

He found a blanket in Skinner's closet and brought it to her. She seemed grateful for the warmth. He checked on Skinner again, his pulse rate was down and his nose wasn't bleeding. He felt totally helpless.

When he returned to the living room, Scully was asleep, so he retreated to an easy chair where she could see him immediately when she woke and sat watching her, willing her to heal.

Her thrashing jerked him awake. She'd kicked off the blanket and was fighting whatever demons had invaded her dreams.

"Scully, wake up. It's just a dream, Scully. Scully, please." He couldn't get her to hear him, so he finally grasped her shoulders, trying to get through. At his touch she shrieked and kicked out, waking herself as he fell back.


"Yeah, it was a nightmare. You . . . god, Scully, you're bleeding again. That's it, you're going to the hospital. Now."

"Mulder, I . . . "

"I'm not arguing with you anymore. He's not going anywhere and you've got to get some help. Come on."

She rose from the couch, knowing somewhere in the back of her mind he was right.

He took her to the emergency room and, shamelessly flashing his credentials got them immediate attention. He paced outside her examining room until the doctor emerged. He headed straight for Mulder.

"Do you have the man that did this in custody?"

"Yes." It wasn't really a lie.

"She's refusing the rape kit. We need to call in the authorities, take pictures, and preserve a semen sample."

"We won't need it. He's not going anywhere even without her testimony." That at least was true.

"She's refusing the morning after pill too. Says it's not necessary."

He had to look away at that point. "Give it to me. I'll make sure she takes it."

"She's gonna need more help than that. Look, we tried to find Dr. Carruthers. She's really good with rape victims, but she's off-duty and we can't reach her. I've not been able to do a thorough exam. I understand how she's feeling - oh hell, no I don't, I can't imagine what she's going through, but I've seen it too often. Her physical injuries are only the beginning. She's refusing to deal with this and that's dangerous. Here." He took a card from his lab coat pocket. "This is the rape crisis hotline. It's anonymous and they do a good job. They have victims talk to each other. Are you her . . . ?" He let his voice trail off.

"We're together."

"Okay. Look, we did the preliminary blood work, but she's got to come back in six months for an AIDS follow up."

Mulder closed his eyes and leaned back against the wall.

"Mr. Mulder?"

"Yeah. Look, I don't think that's going to be necessary."

"Well, since you have the rapist, maybe you can . . . " Mulder jerked away from the hand he'd placed on his arm. "Are you going to be okay?"

"Yeah, yeah I'm fine. Don't worry about me, she's the one."

"That's not true, but she's getting dressed now. Give her some space tonight, but she's got to talk about this. It'll fester."

Mulder nodded and turned as the door opened and Scully entered the hall.

"I'm okay, Mulder. I want to go back to the apartment."

"Sure." The doctor shook hands with him; slipping him the pill she had refused and reminded him to be in touch if he needed him.

Twice on the way to the car his hand automatically rose to touch the small of her back, but she shied away both times. "Let me take you home, Scully."

"No. I need to talk to Skinner."

"That's not going to happen, not tonight."

"I don't care. I don't . . . I can't go home."

"Scully, please tell me what I can do to help you."

"You are helping, Mulder. Just do as I ask, please."

Defeated he headed the car back to Skinner's apartment. He fed her the pill in the guise of telling her it would help her sleep and realized how out of it she was when she took it without checking.

The next morning Scully was still asleep when he heard Skinner stir. He headed into the bedroom to find Skinner sitting on the side of his bed, head in his hands.


Skinner leapt to his feet, then had to grasp the bed to keep from falling.

"What the hell are you doing here? What happened?"

"What do you remember?"

"Nothing. I don't even remember coming home last night. What's wrong with my nose?

"I broke it last night." He stated it flatly, no emotion.

"You what!" His eyes narrowed.

"When I pulled you off Agent Scully as you were raping her."

"What did you say?" He almost spit out the words.

"You don't remember raping me?" Neither man had heard her enter the room.

Skinner said nothing, staring at first one than the other of them. He took in her appearance, the bruises on her face and neck, and then the bleakness of Mulder's expression.

"Tell me what happened." He tried to remain standing, but failed and sank into the chair beside his bed.

"You had Angie call me, right at 5 o'clock and tell me you wanted to see me, alone, right away. When I arrived she was already gone. I went in your office and you met me at the door. You closed it behind me, then you backhanded me across the face. I went down and you were on top of me. When I tried to scream you tore my sleeve off and gagged me with it. Then you hauled me to the couch and . and . . "

Skinner had his face in his hands, shaking his head. Mulder had to look away; he hadn't heard any of this either. He'd always respected this man. Maybe, on occasion, his trust had flagged but he knew him now, knew what he'd done for Scully, for him. How could he reconcile that with what he'd witnessed?


"I arrived too late. I pulled you off of her and . . . "

"Why am I here?"


"Why am I not in jail?"

"The police weren't called." Scully had no emotion in her voice.

"Why the hell not? I'm guilty of the worst crime I can imagine. You should have shot me, Agent Mulder."

"The thought did cross my mind, sir."

Skinner winced at the 'sir'. "Call them now."

"No, sir. The police will not be called. There will be no record of this ever happening. What do you remember?" Scully was all business.

He couldn't face her. "None of that. I don't even remember asking for Agent Scully to come to my office. I was in a meeting; we're still trying to reorganize after the Blevin's disaster. One of his men, Tucker, stayed behind to speak with me. That's the last thing . . . " His voice trailed off and he finally met Mulder's eyes.

"Punishment? For stepping out of line with Cancerman?" Mulder ventured.

"It means they're not all gone." Skinner sounded defeated.

"What are you talking about?" Scully's eyes went from one to the other of the men in front of her.

"It's not important. No one is responsible for my actions but me."

"What did you have to do with Cancerman?" She insisted.

Skinner remained silent, looking at the floor. She turned to Mulder.

"He made a deal, we were trying to find a cure for . . . "

"Agent Mulder!" Without thinking Mulder snapped to attention. Damn those ex-marines. He'd never even been in the military.

"You did that? For me? Why wasn't I told?"

"It's history, Agent Scully. And has nothing to do with the present situation."

"It may have everything to do with it. If Tucker drugged you, you weren't responsible. It would explain the rapid pulse, and I saw your eyes were dilated when you . . . when you struck me."

Skinner closed his eyes in pain. He shook himself and stood. "Agent Scully, there is no excuse, none whatsoever, for what I did to you. We're wasting time trying to find one. I'll turn myself in, but I need to make a phone call."

"You can't turn yourself in. I will not come forward and I will not press charges. I want this behind us and forgotten. I know what happened and I need to move forward."

"Scully, can you do that?" She pulled away from the compassion in Mulder's voice.

"I have to. Can you take me home now?"

"Yeah, sure. Are you going to be all right, Sir?

He winced at that again. What else could Mulder call him? Walter wouldn't be any more appropriate. "I'll be fine. Please look after Agent Scully."

"I'll call you later, Sir."

"That won't be necessary. I'm not the one that needs or deserves compassion." He and Mulder locked eyes and Mulder nodded. Skinner watched the two of them walk out of his bedroom. Mulder looked more damaged that she did. He'd ruined all three of their lives, he could only hope it wasn't irreparable for the two of them.


Part 2


He'd been afraid she wouldn't let him see her inside, but she made no comment, accepting his presence, just not his touch.

"Can I get you anything, Scully?"

"I'm not sick, Mulder. Why don't you go home and get cleaned up. I'll be fine. I want to take a long hot bath. Go on."

"Can I bring dinner over tonight?"

"Sure, that would be fine. Thanks for . . . " She stopped, unsure what to say.

He nodded. "You'll call me if you need anything? I've got my cell phone."

"I won't need anything, Mulder. See you later."

His shower didn't help, nothing helped. He could only imagine how horrible Skinner must feel. Maybe some mundane chores would clear his mind. He gathered his laundry and while checking his pockets found the card the doctor had given him the night before. He dropped the clothes on the floor and headed for the phone.

"Crisis Hot-Line."

"I, uh, I need to talk to someone. My . . . my partner was raped and . . . "

"Is she physically okay?"

"I think so, but she won't let me near her. I can't comfort her."

"That's very normal with rape victims. Any touch can be truly painful. Every part of their body is highly sensitized. When did this happen?"

"Last night." Was it only yesterday?

"Has she seen a doctor?"

"Yes, but she wouldn't let him do a full exam."

"I know. She should make an appointment to see her own doctor in a couple of days. Someone she's comfortable with. Did she press charges?"

"No. She refuses to bring the police into this."

"That could be a mistake. The closure of knowing the rapist is punished can go a long way in her healing."

"This was a friend. Someone we know and . . . and trust."


"He wasn't responsible. I doubt we ever find who was."

"I don't understand."

"It's not important. Tell me how to help her."

"Did she call you when this happened?"

"No, no I walked in. I pulled him off . . . I . . ."

"So you rescued her."

"Not in time."

"Sounds like you're going to need someone to talk to as well."

"I'm not important. I'm worried because she's so calm, so detached, except for the fear of touch you'd think this
had happened to someone else."

"Denial. That's very common. At least she's not blaming herself."

"No, not that. She knows what really happened."

"Can you get her to call in? We know what she's going through. We've been thought it ourselves. You're not . . . she's not suicidal is she?"

"What?" He hadn't been worried about that. Now he was. "I have to go."

"Wait! Listen, I want you to call me back. Patsy, ask for Patsy, okay?"

"Yeah, I gotta go." He hung up and headed for the door. Her gun, when had he last seen her gun? He tried to call her apartment, but got no answer, that only fueled his fear.

When he got there he knocked and again received no answer. He slipped his key into the lock and entered.


"What are you doing here?" My god, she was armed. He raised his hands away from his side.

"I called and there was no answer."

"I was in the tub. Why did you let yourself in?"

"I'm sorry, Scully. I was concerned. I didn't think. Please put the gun down." She glanced down as though she'd forgotten it. She lowered it and placed it on her coffee table.

"I didn't mean to sca - startle you, Scully."

"Are you going to try to smother me, Mulder?" She sighed.

She watched him deflate, "Yeah, I guess I am."

He was startled at her slight smile. "At least you're honest about it."

The smile was gone as quickly as it appeared.


"I have a headache."

"Why don't you lie down here on the couch and watch an old movie with me. I'll massage your feet."

She drew back at that suggestion.

"Just your feet, Scully. I promise not to go above the ankles. Okay?"

"I'm not getting rid of you, am I?"

"Not in this lifetime." Whoops, too much. Her eyes moistened, then she took a deep breath.

"I guess we could try that. Let me get dressed." She returned back shortly in tights and an oversize sweatshirt. "Did you find a movie?"

"Planet of the Apes?"

"Why not."

She sat on the couch, forcing herself to lean back in some semblance of relaxation. He waited, he couldn't hurry this. If she couldn't let him touch her feet, he'd try something else tomorrow. Whatever worked for her.

He realized she had placed her feet so that her toes brushed against his jeans. He still made no move. She exhaled and slid her feet into his lap. He released the breath he was holding and lightly rubbed the top of her foot.


She nodded, concentrating on the TV screen. He felt the tension leave her and realized shortly that she was asleep. Good, she needed the rest. At one point he stopped the massage, but she stirred uneasily so he resumed.

"Beneath the Planet of the Apes" had begun before she woke. She stretched, but didn't withdraw her feet.

"I probably won't sleep at all tonight."

"You can keep me company then."

"Where do you think you're going to be?" She knew, but she couldn't let him know how much she wanted him here.

"Right here, on my couch."

"Your couch?" He grinned and nodded. "It's not necessary."

"You might have another nightmare. I've got lots of experience in that area."

"One condition."

"Name it." His relief was too great to refuse her anything.

"Go check on Skinner."

He couldn't help it, he was stunned. "You want me to . . . "

"Please. I . . . I have you, but he doesn't have anyone." She couldn't quite meet his eyes.

"Okay. What should I bring for dinner?"

"Whatever you want. I'm not really hungry."

"Can I ask a favor in return?" He ducked down to try to see her eyes.

"What?" She was wary, but Mulder wouldn't ask more than she could handle.

"Would you call this number, ask for Patsy."

"Who's Patsy?"

"I think she could be a friend. I won't be long." Tell her too much and she'd refuse outright.


"I won't be long." He let himself out; he was feeling better about her. But Skinner - damn.

He was beginning to think Skinner wasn't going to come to the door, when he finally heard him.

"What do you want Mulder?"

"Just to check on you."

"I'm not a child."

"No, but you could use a friend."

"That might be true, if I deserved one."

"Well, you've got two, whether you want them or not." Mulder stood his ground, he wasn't leaving until he'd done what he promised Scully.


"Scully sent me to check on you."

"Oh god." He stepped back and allowed Mulder to enter the apartment.

"Have you had any problems from the drugs?"

"You mean any more problems?" Mulder shrugged. "Look, you don't want to be around me, and I'm not exactly comfortable with you. I'm fine, tell her not to worry about me."

"Is your nose going to be okay?"

"Yeah. He said I'd be as handsome as ever." He said bitterly.

Mulder didn't have an answer to that, so he made none. They sat is silence for a few minutes.

"She is all right?" Skinner finally allowed himself to ask.

"I think she will be. She got some rest this afternoon."

"Good. Look, I'm checking on a transfer so that she won't have to see me any more."

"I don't think that's a decision you should make right now." Mulder cautioned him.

"She shouldn't have to contend with my presence."

"Even before she spoke with you, she told me something was wrong. Your actions were too out of character." So why did he still feel so stiff around the guy? At least Skinner couldn't remember what he'd done.

"She's more generous than I am. Whatever the catalyst, I'm responsible for what happened. I have to live with that the rest of my life."

"Sir . . . "

"Don't." Skinner barked at him.


"Don't call me sir. I can't . . . it's not appropriate."

"You're my superior." Skinner snorted at that. "And you've saved my ass countless times. Scully's too."

"Oh Jesus, Mulder. Could you leave now?"

"Sorry. That came out badly."

"I know what you're trying to do, Mulder. Part of me even appreciates it, but I want you to leave. I need to be alone."

"Have you eaten?"

"I don't need a mother, Mulder. Thanks for coming by." Skinner stood, leaving no doubt that the visit was finished.

"I'll be staying at Scully's tonight. Call me if you need anything."

"Sure, Mulder."

"When will you be back at work?" He hadn't done anything to help, and Scully needed information that only he could obtain from Skinner.

"I've got a couple of weeks due me. I'll probably take them now."

"I'll call you tomorrow."

"Fine. Look, you can do me more good looking after her. Okay? Oh, listen, just for your information, Tucker's disappeared. His apartment's empty as well."

Mulder nodded, he'd halfway expected that. He let Skinner see him out. He knew Skinner wasn't okay, but there wasn't a whole lot he could do. He didn't think there was a hot line to help him.

After picking up Thai food, he headed back to Scully's. She opened the door for him and had obviously been crying.

"Scully? What?" He wanted to hold her, but he didn't want to scare her.

"How do you know Patsy?"

"Patsy? Oh, I called her. I thought she might be able to help." He had to fight to keep his arms down, not to embrace her.

"How would you even know about . . . "

"The doctor gave me the number last night, for you."

"But why did you call?" She was looking him in the eye finally, wanting to see more than the words.

"I . . . I just wanted to know what I could do. How I could help you."

Apparently she saw what she wanted. "Mulder, I . . . " she turned from him and snagged another tissue. "How's Skinner?"

"Not too well. He's talking about a transfer, so you won't have to see him."

She made no comment. He followed her into the kitchen and began laying out the food.

"Thai? You don't like . . . "

"You do."

"I can't . . . Mulder, I can't have you treating me like this. It's worse than the cancer."

"Let me do this, Scully. While you need it. You've always been there for me."

He actually got her to eat a few bites by teasing and cajoling. She was relaxing.


He grabbed the phone before it could wake her the next morning. "Hello?"

"Hello. Is Dana there?"

"Patsy?" He caught the voice.

"Yes. Is that you, Fox?"


"Sorry I woke you. What are you doing there?"

"I stayed over, in case she had nightmares." Funny, she didn't make him feel like he needed a reason.

"She was right, you are special."

"You talked about me?" Did he want to know what they'd said?

"I asked about her support system. You seem to be it."

"Oh no, she's got lots of friends and family." He relaxed a little.

"Whom she's chosen not to confide in. You're the only one she trusts."

Mulder had to swallow around the lump in his throat. "It's mutual."

They spoke for several minutes, then Patsy paused, "Fox, can I ask you a question?"


"I asked Dana this last night and her answer confuses me."


"Were you lovers before this happened to you?"

"To her." Mulder corrected.


"Before this happened to her."

"Don't kid yourself, Fox. This happened to both of you. Were you?"

"No, we've never been lovers. Why?"

"Same answer she gave." It was almost a sigh.

"You don't believe us?"

"You don't talk like just friends. Is there any reason . . . " she wasn't sure how to ask this.

"I'm not gay, Patsy." Just terminally celibate apparently.

"I'm sorry. I didn't mean to imply . . . "

"I just have superhuman self control." That's when he heard her laugh. She came around the corner.

"Do I get to see your cape?"

"How long have you been standing there?" He sputtered, face flushing.

"Long enough. Is that Patsy?" He nodded and handed her the phone.

"I'll go make coffee. You can gossip about me while I'm gone."

"I like purple."

"What?" He turned back, confused.

"For your cape."

He grabbed the remote and pretended to throw it at her, and she smiled. A real smile, the first he'd seen since . . . He quickly retreated to the kitchen, so his emotions wouldn't spill over.

He handed her the cup when she came in the kitchen to join him. "It was nice of her to call."

"Patsy's been very good for me. I think I'll go to her group this week." She was studying the coffee, not looking at him.

"Yeah, that's probably a good idea."

"There's a group for . . . for, uh, spouses and partners, if . . . "

"When does it meet?"

"Tuesdays at seven"

"Okay. What?" Was that relief that flickered across her face?

"Nothing. Uh, I think I embarrassed Patsy. She asked about your background. It unnerved her when she realized she was giving advice to a psychologist."

"Not in this instance."

"Listen, I'm throwing you out tonight. You can't stay here."

"Hey, my snoring is no louder than yours."

She tried to glare at him, but couldn't sustain it. "Really, Mulder. I need to see if I can be here alone. I can't let myself . . . "

"Lean on me?"

"It's more than that. Don't be upset with me. I have to prove this to myself."

"Yeah, I know. But you will call me, anytime, I'm not going to be sleeping anyway."

"I promise."

"When does Patsy's group meet?"

"Tuesday's, same time as yours."

"Good, we can go together."


Not his idea of a good time, sitting around, sharing "feelings" with men he didn't know. Hell, if it would help Scully he'd dance with them. He'd finally met Patsy, when he dropped Scully off at her room. She was younger than he had thought, but she seemed to know her stuff. He didn't want to think about where she might have had to learn it. But she seemed to have come through okay, that's what was important.

He joined the men in the room they had sent him to. Their leader seemed nice enough. Ben was probably his age, shorter, slightly receding hairline, and seemed to have a good handle on the group. Everyone introduced himself or herself, first names only. Um, no other Fox's, when was the last time that had happened?

They had barely finished the introductions when Russ, another newcomer broke in, "Listen, how long she is going to be like this?"

"Like what, Russ?" Ben asked quietly.

"She won't let me touch her. I mean it's been a couple of weeks already and she don't want sex or nothing. Her bruises are gone, but she won't even let me . . . "

"Russ, only the bruises you can see are healed. She's got a lot of . . . "

"You mean she's bruised down in there too?"

"Probably, but I meant emotionally. You need to understand how violated she's feeling. Control was taken from her at the most basic level. Her own body was violated. Imagine how you would feel if someone broke into your car and stole something extremely valuable, irreplaceable, out of it. Now magnify that 1000%. Can you imagine something like that?"

From the look on this face, Mulder was pretty sure that he couldn't, but he kept quiet.

"Well, okay, but how long does that mean I have to go without? I mean, I didn't do her and she's treating me like the plague."

Mulder stood from his chair. He wasn't going to walk out, but he couldn't sit there and listen quietly. He walked over to the coffeepot and poured himself a cup. He missed the answer, whatever it was, but Russ seemed suitably subdued when he returned to his seat.

"Fox, how are you doing?" Ben drew him into the group.

"I'm fine, concerned about her."

"Is she behaving differently?"

"Well, she startles easily. I try to make more noise so she always knows where I am. And if she takes a nap I try to sit where she can see me as soon as she opens her eyes."

"That's very good. Is she wary of touching also?"

"Yeah. I try to be very careful there because I've come to realize that I always touched her a lot. I make sure she initiates all touching now, or try to."

Ben was looking at him strangely. "You have experience with this?"

"No, it's what seems to make her comfortable."

"Well, it's a couple of the techniques we recommend around here. I'd say you're handling things well with her. How about you?"

"Me? Listen, everyone keeps talking about me, I'm fine. She's the important thing here." Mulder knew he sounded defensive, but everyone kept harping on him. Nothing had happened to him, except maybe his life being shattered.

"Why do you feel so guilty?" Ben spoke quietly.

"I'm not guilty." Well, not really.

"Could you have prevented what happened?"

Mulder was silent for a minute. "If I'd gone with her . . . "

"Was it a place you should have been, somewhere you knew she was going that she wouldn't be safe?"

"No." He would never have foreseen that. If he hadn't actually walked in he still wouldn't be able to reconcile it.

"Then you couldn't have prevented it. Of course it would help if you believed that. Bill, why don't you tell him about your situation?"

It was a good two hours. Mulder did have a better understanding of his own guilt. These men had been through a lot too, a side of things he hadn't dwelled on. It seemed that some of the stories had even gotten through to Russ. He would be back next week, if they were in town. If she was able to work, that is.

He headed up the hall to meet Scully, and spotted her outside the room the women had used, talking with Patsy. When she turned to watch him come toward her, he could tell she'd been crying. Damn. His hand automatically rose to touch her, but he remembered in time.

Scully reached out and took his hand, placing it firmly on the small of her back. He gave her a shy smile and after a quick goodbye to Patsy, they walked out together.

Patsy watched them leave. You'd almost think she was marked there, the placement of his hand had been so precise. She'd watched so many couples be torn apart by this, it was nice to see a couple she felt confident would get through it because of each other rather than in spite of.

"You ready to go, Sweetheart?" She hadn't heard him approach.

"Yeah. I had a good group tonight. You?"

"Sure did." Ben put his arm around her and her arms went around his waist.

"Makes me remember how lucky I am."

They followed Mulder and Scully into the night.

Part 3


"Damn it, Mulder. Don't you ever do that on an investigation again!"

"What did I do?" They were finally back at the hotel, and she was giving him the hell she'd been simmering with all day.

"I am not an invalid or some fragile flower. I am a full partner and I expect you to treat me as such." Her eyes were snapping.

He was reviewing the day. What had he done? She saw the confusion in his eyes.

"You don't even see it, do you? You don't see how you treat me. I can handle this investigation. Yes, the killer did rape these women before he murdered them, but I've handled those kinds of cases before. I'm not going to fall apart. Can you say the same?"

"Scully, I. . . "

"You always do this. Can't you treat me like. . . "

"Hold it! I treat you just like I always have. I invade your space," he loomed over her, "and I touch you and. . . "

"How long has it been since you've thrown an innuendo my way, or left one of your videos in the VCR at work?"

"Well. . . well, I. . . "

"You're not treating me the same. Yes, you stand close and you hold my arm, but you think about it. You don't ever just do it."

He stared at her, at a loss. Did he really act that way? Yes. He did think about how he approached her, but. . . damn, could she be right?


"Dana, what's wrong?"

"I'm sick of this, Patsy. I want things back to normal. To not need to have to come to you for answers."

"You already have answers on your own, Dana. But I am here, so why don't you talk to me?"

"Oh, I shouldn't complain. Mulder has been so supportive, I could never have gotten through this without him."

"What's he doing?"


"Nothing?" Patsy leaned back to listen.

"Maybe that's the problem." Scully was focused on the far wall.

"Explain please."

"He. . . he just treats me like a china doll. This last investigation involved rape victims. I'm not going to tell you it wasn't hard, but I handled it. Mulder didn't. He went into full protect mode and I think the meter maid had more input into the case than I did. And he didn't even realize it!

"I'm more than competent, Patsy. I'm good, and he. . . "

"What's this really about, Dana?"

"I told you. . . "

"No, you didn't. This isn't about the case. It's how Fox treats you. You sound very frustrated. Dana, are you horny?"

"What?" Scully stared at her dumbfounded.

"It's a legitimate question, Dana. You're a grown woman, a sexual creature. You enjoyed sex prior to your rape, didn't you?"

"Yes, very much, but Patsy, I. . . "

"Could Fox's overprotectiveness mean that he's also keeping his distance?"

"Mulder and I were not lovers. We've never. . . "

"Right, so you both keep telling me, although no one has been able to tell me why. It obviously hasn't kept you from falling in love with him."

"I beg your pardon?" Scully managed to get out, though her voice wasn't quite as steady as she would have liked.

"Was that suppose to be a secret?"

"Patsy!" She was so far off base, love Mulder? No, surely after all these years those fantasies were well laid to rest. Well, most of the time.

"Is the fact that he's in love with you also a secret?"

Scully just stared at her, unable to think of an appropriate comment. They looked at each other until Patsy began to chuckle.

"If you could see your face, Dana. It's okay. You're beginning to be curious about your sexuality, how is it going to be, can you enjoy sex with a man again? The answer is yes, Dana. With the right man – one that's understanding and patient. Someone you trust."

Scully blushed at that. Patsy's eyebrows rose, her eyes laughing.

"Hit a nerve, did I?"

"I. . . that's absurd. . . I mean. . . " She fell silent, watching Patsy smile gently at her.

"I think Fox would be very gentle and. . . "

"Patsy, it's out of the question. He doesn't feel that way about me, you're wrong there. I've replaced his sister in his mind. And he would never approach me. . . "

"Now there you may be right. Not about how he feels, but the fact that he would be unable to approach you. What about you approaching him?"

"Oh Patsy, no. No, I couldn't." She couldn't, so why was the idea so sharply imprinted on her mind after only a few seconds thought?


"Fox, it's been a while. Things going okay?" Ben smiled and leaned back to enjoy the phone call. He liked this man.

"Well, I thought so. But I think, maybe I need to talk to you. We were out of town on Tuesday."

"I've got some time now, if you can talk."

"Yeah, now would be fine. I can't seem to get this right." He sounded really confused, and maybe a little lost.


"She says I'm not treating her the same."

"In what way?"

"Overprotective, stuff like that."

"Are you?"

"I didn't think so, but. . . "

"Fox, you could be right. Her perceptions could have changed due to the rape."

Mulder didn't respond.

"You know, Fox, I could actually hear that wince when I said the word rape. It did happen. She was raped. I thought you were able to hear the word by now."

"I thought I could too."

There was another pause and finally Ben chose another track. "Has she started dating yet?"

"Dating? Well, I mean, our jobs and all. . . " Scully didn't date, at least not that he was aware of, not since Ed. He'd thought that was a good thing until this minute.

"So she's not seeing anyone. That could be part of the problem."

"Well, she's never dated that much. Our careers are very important to us, and very time consuming."

"You keep saying 'our', 'us'. When's the last time you went on a date?"

The silence was his answer.

"Fox, let me see if I've got this straight – you don't date each other, you don't date other people, you travel together, you work together almost all the time in situations where you could be called upon to save each other's live at any moment. Fox, I'm tempted to charge you office rates for this call."


"What're you thinking, Fox?"

"About all the money wasted on my education."

"Oh yeah. I've been there." Ben was smiling to himself, this guy wasn't dumb. Mulder just had no self-confidence in this area. You'd think a guy that looked like him would have a string of belts full of notches. But Mulder didn't seem to have a clue about the opposite sex when it came to just plain old dating and having fun.

"So I should give her some space."

"I didn't say that. Listen, do you have a close enough relationship so that you could help her out?"

"Help her how?" He actually sounded a little scared.

"Hey, I'm not suggesting you have sex with her, but since you seem to be her entire social life, maybe you could make some of your time together more social. Then, when she does meet someone, it won't feel so strange to her."

"You mean, help her get ready to date again?"

"Sure. You're her best friend, and I know you'd do anything for her." Maybe even face your own demons and realize how you really feel about her.


"You don't seem to want more, Fox." Yes, he was pushing, but this guy obviously needed the help.

"Its not. . . I don't think she wants more."

After a pause Ben said, "Don't you think that's something you should find out?"

"No. I mean, that's not how things are between us."

"And you're satisfied with that?"

"No! Damn it. I've missed my chance, maybe before this happened I could've changed our relationship. Now. . . "

"Do you think, Fox, at her age, Dana's going to be willing to give up sex for the rest of her life?"

There was another long pause.

"I, uh, I guess I need to do some thinking."

"Maybe you do. You can call me any time, Fox." Yes! Think hard about this Mulder, because you need her every bit as much as she needs you, Ben thought.

"Thanks, I'll do that."


She was startled that he would just show up at her apartment without calling. He didn't do that anymore. Not since. . .

"Mulder, is anything wrong?"

"Yeah. Me."

"What? Are you sick?"

"Not yet." Her eyebrow rose, but she said nothing. "I've taken some dubious advice from a psychologist."


"No, me."

She smiled then, "Taking on a new career, Mulder?"

"Yeah. Only one client though. I need to see how badly I screw him up before I start ruining other people's lives."

"What's your client's problem and what was the dubious advice you gave him?" She could play along. He obviously needed to talk.

"The advice was to show up here, the problem is that he doesn't know how to treat his best friend anymore."


"You see, when he's with her off-duty, his social skills revert to about the age of 12."

"You think I have cooties?" She asked dryly, pulling the conversation personal.

"Okay, 14, I'm curious and willing, but I can't figure out where my hands go."

Her blush and light laughter encouraged him.

"Scully, you're the most important person in my life. I depend on you for. . . "

"A healthy diet?" She offered as he hesitated.

"I was thinking more in terms of my sanity." She had no comeback for that. "I know our relationship hasn't been. . . isn't . . . shit. Maybe 12 was closer. Look, I want you to be whole again and if I can help you get ready to see someone else, I'm willing to. . . "

"Someone else? Is that what you want?" Where had that idea come from? Did he think she was interested in some stranger?

"No! I mean. . . but you, you're young, you need to find someone. . . "

"Someone else?" She asked again.

There was a long silence, while he tried to process her question.

"Do you want someone else, Scully?"

"No." His eyes widened, that was all she was going to say? He reached out slowly and took her hand. She led him to the couch and they sat. Neither seemed to be able to come up with something to say, so of course they started together.

"Scully. . . "

"Mulder. . . "

And both fell silent again.

"Mulder, you don't have to do this. I know you care about me, just not this way and you. . . "

"Not what way?"

"As a woman, Mulder. I know I'm not your type. But it means so much to me that you. . . "

"My type? Scully, you are exactly my type. You are everything I've ever wanted in a woman. I know I'm no prize, weird old 'Spooky' Mulder, but I would never push you. When you're ready and comfortable maybe you'll find a really great guy. . . " Where had those words come from? He was here to help her. Now she was going to think. . . he should not have come.

"Shut up, Mulder." She put her hands on his face and carefully and lightly kissed his lips.

Her admonition to not speak was totally unnecessary. His mind was unable to wrap itself around the concept of verbalization.

"Mulder, I trust you completely."

His eyes locked on hers. Several years' worth of communication was processed through the look they shared. She brought his hand up to her FBI-sweatshirt covered breast.

He swallowed, trying to find his voice. "Dr. Scully, I believe some of your undergarments are missing."

"Mulder." She hadn't realized how nervous this would make her. "I'm sorry, I don't know if I can do this."

"Scully, it's taken me five years to get up the nerve to get to first base, there's no hurry." He smiled down at her.

She took a deep breath and managed to smile back.

"Here let's try this." He settled back on the couch, putting her in the V of his legs, her back to his chest. He slowly began massaging her arms and shoulders until she began to relax.

"Feel good?"

"Um hum."

He smiled and took a deep breath of her hair. He'd wanted to do that for years. He'd often sneaked little sniffs, but had never had this opportunity before.

He felt her tense again in his arms and realized his arousal was no longer secret. "Ignore him, Scully, I can't take him anywhere."

"Because of me?"

"Are you going to tell me you've never noticed?" He continued to massage her arms and then down to her hands.

"I never thought it was because of me."

"Low self-esteem, Agent Scully? You've been wreaking havoc with my hormones for five years." He nuzzled her ear.

"Mulder. . . "

"Maybe I should go now. Give you some time."

"Don't leave." Please don't let him leave now, she prayed. She couldn't process what had just happened and if he left she'd have to.

"The last thing I want to do is push you."

"I know that, and you are helping. We could watch a movie." Ah, she'd hit on a compromise. Please stay, oh please stay.

"You don't have to talk me into it Scully. I want to stay, if you're okay with it."

She handed him the remote and nestled back into his chest. He wrapped his arms around her just below her breasts. Shortly he realized from her even breathing that she had fallen asleep against his chest. He didn't know if that was the kind of progress she was hoping for, but he felt good about it.

He was a little surprised at the amount of trust she had displayed. She was sitting where she couldn't see him, pressed up against his erection with his arms effectively pinning her to him and she was still comfortable enough to fall asleep. Of course he had to wonder, how non-threatening was he as a male? No this was a good thing. You're over analyzing Mulder. Shut up.

It was probably time for him to leave; having her draped across his body was only aggravating his situation, which could no longer be classified as a little problem on anyone's scale.

He shifted so that he could rise from the couch, and carry her into her room. "Um, don't. . . " She murmured, not waking.

"You'll be more comfortable in bed, Scully. Just sleep. I'm right here." He managed to get up and lifted her easily into his arms. No way he would be able to make it home in this condition. He'd get her settled and handle things himself in her bathroom. Good idea, then he could feel guilty for the ride home. At least that would be familiar.

Her shoes were already off, and there was no way he was going to undress her, so he laid her gently on the bed and pulled the afghan over her. "Muld. . . "

"I'll be right back." He kissed her cheek and began easing out of the room.

Taking care of his own problem didn't take long and being in her bathroom with her scent surrounding him didn't hurt any. At least she didn't wake up and catch him.

As he was headed toward the front door, her phone began to ring. He snatched the phone up before it finished the first ring, to let her sleep. "Hello."

"Agent Mulder? Is that you?"

"Yes, who is this?"

"Holly, from the office. I've been trying to find you."

"Is something wrong?" Why would Holly be calling here?

"Oh yes! Assistant Director Skinner, he's been taken to the hospital. They think he had a heart attack."

Mulder immediately visualized his boss. He hadn't looked good in weeks. He was holding everything inside. Raping Scully had done him as much damage as it had Scully, even if he didn't remember doing it. He wasn't an old man by any means, but that kind of stress could kill anyone.

"Agent Mulder? Are you there?"

"Sorry, Holly. I was thinking. Where is he?"

"Bethesda. Are you going over?"

"Yeah, I'll head over there now."

"Will you, will you call me and. . . and let me know how he is?"

"Sure, Holly. Don't worry, Skinner's strong. I'll be in touch." He lay the phone down, not sure which direction he wanted his mind to wander.

"Come on, Mulder. We better go."

"Scully? I didn't hear you. Why don't you stay here? I can call you."

"No. Come on." She was slipping on her shoes.

Not a good idea, like he had a chance in hell of talking her out of it. She was very quiet all the way to hospital, withdrawn from him. When they finally arrived he tried once again to get her to let him go in alone.

"No, Mulder. And don't go into super-protect mode. We'll only fight about it. I don't want to fight with you, especially tonight."

He nodded and took her arm. They were directed to the ICU and found his doctor there.

"Director Skinner is resting now. It was a very mild heart attack. He was lucky to get such a clear warning signal without any damage to the actual heart tissue. We'll keep him here a couple of days, but I don't foresee any problems. He doesn't have obstructions and doesn't need bypass surgery. We'll check his diet and exercise program, but maybe this will be all he needs to change whatever bad habits he's picked up."

Scully made surprisingly few comments in regards to Skinners' care or health, Mulder noted.

"May we see him?" Scully finally asked. Mulder turned to her, but made no comment.

"Just for a couple of minutes. It never hurts to see a friendly face." The doctor led them down the corridor to the cubicle that held Skinner. "I'll check back in ten minutes."

Scully moved closest to the bed and took Skinner's hand in her own. Mulder felt a moment's desire to pull her away, but he pushed it down. Skinner wouldn't hurt her, not when he was Skinner.

The man in the bed opened his eyes and spotted Scully, he actually started to smile before memory grabbed him and his eyes widened. He tried to pull his hand away.

"No Walter. We wanted to make sure you were okay. Just relax. I don't think there's any doubt in any of our minds that this was stress induced. I came here to tell you once and for all, you have to put this behind you. I know you haven't sought counseling like Mulder and I did, and I understand that, but you have to know a few things." She kept a firm grip on his hand.

"Walter, its not your face I see when I remember what happened that night. I don't think of this as something that happened between the two of us. The face that haunts me is Cancerman's, never you. I know he's dead, but I hold him responsible for that night.

"You keep thinking you have control over yourself. That makes you as naive as I was. You need to know some things that don't appear in the reports that Mulder and I submitted about my abduction."

Mulder tried to catch her eye. What was she doing? A thousand thoughts ran through his mind, but none that gave him a clue on how to act.

"These people that have taken so much of our lives, have taken our bodies as well. When I was abducted Walter, they harvested my ova. I can never have children because of what they took from me." The words were stated quietly, without emotion.

Skinner's eyes widened, this most definitely was not in any report he had read.

"That was horrible, but then they decided to use my eggs. I had a daughter, Emily. I knew nothing about her, not even her existence. Without the gory details, I found her. She died soon afterward. Mulder and I couldn't save her. I have some really bad days now because of all that, but the worst thing, the thing that torments me is, I may have dozens of children I'll never know about, never be able to find. I have no more control over it than you did that night. They took our control."

Skinner was silent; finally he turned to look at Mulder. Mulder's eyes were suspiciously wet, but he managed to nod in response to Skinner's silent question.

"Scully, Dana. . . I. . . "

"I cannot take the blame for what they did to me, and I refuse to let you take the blame for what they did to you. You and I are control freaks; this is the best way to get to us. You have to let it go. If you don't the stress will kill you, and I am not willing to lose anyone else to them. I won't."

Ex-marines don't cry; neither do assistant directors of the FBI. He hadn't cried when he was shot, and he hadn't cried when he learned what he had done to Scully. But it seemed that that was exactly what he was going to do now.

She leaned over and wiped the tears from his cheeks, and then kissed his forehead. His hands came up tentatively to touch her shoulders and she put her arms around him. That's when the dam burst and he began weeping in her arms. Mulder had to look away for a second. He needed to superimpose this image over the last one where he had seen her in Skinner's arms. Mulder felt rather than heard Dr. Reed behind him.

"They need just a few more minutes." His voice was gruff, but he managed to get the words out.

"This is probably doing him more good than any medication we can prescribe." Dr. Reed whispered to him. Mulder could only nod.

When Skinner was composed, Scully sat back and took his hand again. "Are you going to be okay?"

He nodded. "Thanks to you." He whispered.

"Then there's someone else that wants to come see you."

He looked puzzled. Mulder looked at her incredulously, Scully, matchmaking?

"Holly is very concerned about you. She's the one that tracked down Mulder and I. Would you mind if she came by?"

"Holly? With the size seven shoe? That Holly?"

Scully smiled, "Yes, that Holly."

"Why would she. . . ?"

"Why wouldn't she? You're a very attractive man and she has had a type of contact with you that makes you remember her." That elicited a chuckle from him, then he became serious.

"I'm not sure that would be a good idea."

"Well, Sir, I think it's an excellent idea and I will be sending her over. Get used to the idea."

He looked like he was going to protest when Dr. Reed stepped forward. "I agree with Dr. Scully. A pretty face never hurts and I see nothing wrong with a size seven shoe. My wife wears them herself. Right now however, I'm throwing your company out. You need the rest. They can come back by tomorrow."

"He's right, Walter. We'll see you tomorrow. You have our number if you need us. Use it." Scully squeezed his hand once more and moved to Mulder's side.

Mulder placed his hand on Skinner's leg. "Take care of yourself."

"Thank you, Mulder. For everything." Mulder nodded and placed his hand on Scully's back to lead her out. Skinner noted that this was done with ease on both of their parts and took a breath of relief. Maybe he didn't really want to die after all.

Part 4


Once in the elevator, Mulder confronted Scully, "Holly?"

"What's wrong with that?" She sounded very defensive.

"Nothing, but I've never seen you do anything like that before."

"Didn't you hear the panic in her voice? She thinks about him a lot, and mentions him in some way every time we speak."

"Please, tell me more Agent Scully." He was beginning to get into the spirit of the thing and he did not want to talk about what had just happened with Skinner. Not yet anyway.

"There's nothing wrong with having a crush on someone, or being attracted to them. Even if you feel they are totally inaccessible."

Um, very defensive. "And have you ever felt that way about someone Agent Scully?"

"Yes, once. Until earlier tonight." She responded.

"What happened earlier tonight?" He couldn't help it; he was holding his breath. He just hoped she wouldn't notice.

"The person that I was attracted to stopped being inaccessible." She didn't dare look at him, but things had been so easy between them tonight, after she relaxed. She didn't remember the last time she'd been that relaxed.

They both fell silent at that, but it was a comfortable silence. Back at her apartment he walked her to the door.

"Got any important plans, Mulder?"

"I guess that depends on you, Scully."

She blushed slightly and took his hand to lead him into her apartment. "Then I'd say you have some very important plans. Come in and get comfortable. Let me call Holly, then I'll join you." He nodded.

Get comfortable. Exactly what did that mean? He was too jumpy to sit and wait for her, so he headed toward the kitchen. Maybe she had some wine. That might be a good idea for both of them.

Scully joined him in the kitchen as he opened the bottle. "Holly okay?"

"Very relieved and nervous about going to see him tomorrow."

"Well I can understand that." He visualized the bruise Holly had left on Skinner's face and had to laugh. Scully, as always, followed his train of thought perfectly and began to laugh as well.

Mulder poured the wine and clinked glasses with her. "To size seven shoes."

"I'll drink to that." She smiled.

They found themselves back on the couch, just being together. They didn't need conversation; she just leaned up against him as though it was the most natural thing in the world.



"Where did you go after you put me in bed?"

He tensed as the memory gripped him. Standing in her bathroom, his cock in his hand, surrounded by the sheer Scully-ness of the room. He was jolted back to the present by her hand in his lap.

"That what I thought. Seems like kind of a waste, with me just lying there alone."

"Scully. . . "

"It's not like I was a virgin, even before. . . "

"But that is kind of where you are now."

The statement rocked her. How the hell did he know what she had been thinking? Did he have an implant in her brain as well? No one had ever known her so well, none of her past relationships, not her mother, not even Ahab. The way he knew her was . . . shit it was positively Spooky.

She looked up to see him smiling at her, again following her thought processes.

"I've never been with a virgin, Scully. You might have to teach me what to do."

"Oh great. If we're both this nervous can we even. . .?"

"Oh, I think I can rise to the occasion." She blushed lightly, since it was very obvious he already had. "You're in control here, Scully. Tell me what you want."

"I want, I want to look at you."

"Okay." He smiled slightly. "Go ahead."

"No." She ducked her head.

"Come on, Scully. What part of me do you want to investigate?"

"Your chest." It was barely a whisper.

"Do I take off my shirt, or do you want to?" Still without meeting his eyes, she took the hem of his t-shirt in her hands. She glanced up for permission. He was no longer smiling; his eyes were on her, in her, consuming her. She ducked her head again and tugged the shirt over his head.

Her fingers immediately went to the bullet hole in his shoulder. Her bullet hole. His breathing grew shallow as her fingers lightly caressed the scar.

"Does it hurt?"

"No." He swallowed, trying to control the gruffness in his voice; "It's my favorite scar."

She smiled at that, still not able to look into those eyes again. She lightly brushed his chest hair. He hissed as she brushed his nipple, but his hands remained at his side, giving her total control of the pace of the activity.

"Why do you want to look at my chest, Scully? It should be old stuff to you, as many times as you've had to patch me up."

"That was business, I've never gotten to play before." He nodded, as though in agreement.

She had traced his chest hair down to where it disappeared into his jeans, resting her hand on the waistband.

"I don't know. . ."

"No pressure, Scully. This is your show."

"That's not fair to you. I'm not a tease." There was a hint of a smile on his face, as his hand raised for the first time, one finger lightly tracing her cheekbone. Her breathing grew easier. This was Mulder. She had never trusted anyone like this before. Without hesitation her own sweatshirt joined his shirt on the floor.

His eyes took in every inch of her, but still he didn't touch, though his hands kept becoming fists when he didn't consciously relax them. She took a deep breath, which he watched appreciatively. She seemed unaware of what she was doing to him.

She freed the first button his jeans and reached for the second. He closed his eyes. He needed to get a grip or he'd scare her in spite of his best intentions. His jeans were undone and she spread them open to give access to his boxers.

"Could you stand up?"

He nodded although he wasn't entirely sure it was true. She took his hand and pulled him up, then lowered his jeans to the floor. She hesitated again at his boxers, but made her decision and lowered them as well.

"Oh my god." She whispered.

"Scu - Scully, it's okay."

"It's more than that." He looked at her startled. She didn't seem to be complaining. Scully took his hand and led him toward her bedroom.

She took him to the bed and lightly pushed him down on it.


Instead of joining him, she stood admiring him. Okay, she'd seen him nude before, but never like this. Never healthy, never desiring her. Finally she sat beside him, trailing a finger down his thigh. She touched the smooth skin of his inner thigh. It took all of his strength to remain still; it felt as though his skin were burning, blistering in that one spot. Was she torturing him on purpose? Did she even realize what she was doing to him?

She rose and removed her own jeans and panties, and knelt beside him on the bed. "Touch me, Mulder."

His hands didn't hesitate; they cupped her breasts, his thumbs tracing her nipples. "No Mulder, here." She took his right hand and moved it to rest on her mound. He looked up at her, was she really ready for this? Hell, was he? So many years of fantasies ready to come true or be destroyed. He had to make this good for her, he'd never wanted anything more, not even Samantha's return - maybe this much, but not more. Scully was what kept him alive, sane, wanting to go on.

He slowly eased a finger into her core, then slowly withdrew it, slick with her juices. She watched him, her breath shallow. He repeated the gesture with two fingers, his thumb stroking her clitoris.

Breathe, Scully." He said softly.

She took a deep breath, and he realized she was convulsing around his fingers. Oh god, had she been ready for this. For him? She fell forward; catching herself on his shoulders as her body expressed its delight. He eased her down beside him, stroking her body gently to bring her back to him.

"Mu -Mulder."

"Right here, Scully. Are you okay?"

I need. . . I need you inside me."

"Scully, you don't have to. . ."

"Please." She breathed into his mouth as she leaned forward and took his lower lip into her mouth. He realized her hand was around his shaft leading him towards her. She brushed his tip through her wet curls and then introduced him into the beginning of her private heaven. He wanted to go slow, not rush or frighten her.

"Scully." He was struggling to speak; "I'm not wearing. . ."

But she had control and arched, filling herself with him, effectively burning out the speech center of his brain.

He withdrew to the tip and she grabbed his ass, forcing him even deeper inside of her. He wanted to prolong this, give her what she was wanting, but he was too close to the brink. To have Scully beneath him, for her to be the one making these moves, these demands. His control was slipping.

"Mulder," she whispered in his ear, "come inside me."

He managed to reach between them to stimulate her clit once again. She arched again in delight as he unraveled, thrusting ever deeper, filling her with his seed.

He didn't want to crush her beneath him, but his arms were shaking, his strength completely gone. He managed to roll to his back, keeping her carefully impaled on him. She sprawled atop him, breathing as heavily as he did.

He lay there, committing every sound, every movement, every scent to permanent memory, until he felt the tear splash on his chest.

"Oh, Scully. God, did I hurt you?" He wanted to crush her against him, but was too afraid.

"Hurt?" She raised her hand from his chest. "No, Mulder, no. . ." And he saw her smile through her tears. Her next words were lost as his tongue took possession of her mouth. Now his arms did tighten, as did hers, trying to enfold each into the other's body as tightly as their psyches were.

She realized she couldn't hold her eyes open, she heard Mulder say, "Go ahead and sleep, Sweetheart." And felt his hand caress her hair.


The sun was high and in her eyes when she woke to the smell of coffee the next morning. She reached for Mulder but she was alone in the bed, nude, atop the sheets. She stretched, leaving no tension in her body.

"Don't do that Scully. I'm carrying hot coffee." He had paused in the door to watch her. His eyes glowing at the sight. "It's a good thing I'm used to little or no sleep, you hussy. Did you wake me two or three times during the night?"

"It was only two." She was blushing, and thoroughly enjoying the scolding and the memories. "I was afraid I'd injure an old man like you."

"Old man!" He had gotten the coffee to a safe place and had his hands around her waist. "I'll show you who's old!"

When the phone rang there was a short debate about answering it, but since they were actually AWOL from work, Scully won.

Mulder wasn't getting much from her side of the conversation, other than that she was pleased about something. When she hung up, he began tracing circles on her stomach. "If all those yes's and good ideas, and wonderfuls, were about some man asking you out, I'm never letting you out of this bed. Just so you know."

"Not to worry, Mulder. That was Holly. It may take a while, but I think everyone's going to come out of this whole."

He couldn't have agreed more.