She’d been right, damn it. The weather was too bad to drive in. And now she was being all quiet and superior while they slid along the road. Maybe they should turn back. He glanced over at her to say as much when he felt rather than saw the truck bearing down on them. Intellectually he knew it was a truck, but through the iced over windows, the wind and blowing snow it looked much more medieval than that. The yellow eyes that opened at what seemed the last moment and glared at them were baleful and completely malevolent. He could have sworn he heard it snort it's disdain of them. He jerked the wheel to the right and heard her voice cry out his name. After that the sounds were all mechanical, steel twisting, the frame of the car groaning, and then glass breaking as the roof took on the weight of the car.
There was a passage of time though he didn’t know how long before he was aware of the cold again. What . . . Scully! His hands fumbled for his seat belt, releasing himself then searching for her.
There! Still in her seatbelt, but unconscious. Her pulse seemed good, as if he knew. At least she had one. He ran his hand over her arms, no breaks that he could determine. After a second’s hesitation he did the same for her ribs, thighs and down her legs. No obvious injuries, so why wasn’t she coming to? Now his fingers were gently outlining her hairline. A major lump above her right temple. She’d connected hard with her window or something as the car went over. She probably had a concussion. There sure didn’t seem to be a stream of aid coming their way.
He got his phone out – no service. Try hers anyway, nope. Great. Where was the nearest shelter? He had to get her warmed up. Himself too, or they were going to be in even more trouble than they were in now.
It took a couple of kicks, but he managed to break the rest of the windshield out. That done he pulled the seatbelt from around her. He carefully lowered her to the roof of the car, then wrapped her in the blanket from the backseat to shield her from the glass. He then crawled out and pulled her behind him. Damn! It had been better in the car, maybe not warmer, but not this stinging wind. Well there goes the idea of going off to find help. He couldn’t leave her here.
He rose and tried to look around. Hell, he wasn’t even sure where the road was from where he stood. He pulled his hood over his head and found his gloves in his pocket. She’d already had hers on; he’d taken that as an unspoken criticism of his decision to leave. Okay, she’d been right.
He hefted her up onto his shoulder in a fireman’s carry, making sure her own hood was over her head. Now what? He had to go on instinct here. The highway wasn’t necessarily the best idea. The only vehicle that he’d seen was the behemoth that had run them off the road. At least then they’d had some metal around them.
He tried to scan around the car again. Nothing. Okay he settled her on his shoulder, this way.
Time had lost meaning. The act of putting one foot in front of the other was automatic. He nearly walked into the building that suddenly was looming above them. Shelter? Even the concept seemed foreign.
He stumbled up onto the porch, out of the wind and nearly fell without it to lean into. He staggered to the door and managed to force part of his hand to close around the knob. It wasn’t locked. He’d think about that later, inside, come on move.
The fireplace drew him; a fire had been laid. He lay Scully on the colorful rag rug on the hearth. Dropped her was more like it, and almost went down himself, off balance suddenly without her weight. He had to light the fire. Light the fire. Light . . . the colors of the rug came toward him as he collapsed.
She stirred, becoming aware of the weight atop her. His weight, she knew that instinctively as well as knowing it was there as protection for her. The car, it had rolled, she remembered that. Were they still inside of it?
No, this was a building. There was a fire and she could feel Mulder’s warm breath on her throat. They were both alive. And that being all she could process, she slipped under again.
When she next awoke the fire had burned down quite a bit. She needed to feed it, she was aware now of the wind blowing outside. The storm obviously hadn’t let up any. She tried to move from under his body but his arm tightened around her to hold her in place.
"Mulder? Mulder can you hear me? I need to put more wood on the fire. I’m not leaving." That penetrated slightly and she was able to slip from under him and stagger to her feet. She was able to rebuild the fire and then dropped back down beside him. Was he injured? Was she?
She managed to shrug off her coat, the dampness had seeped through and the fire would be of more help without it now. The same was surely true of him, so she struggled with the zipper of his jacket and tugged the sleeves off. That accomplished she was exhausted again. Well, no obvious wounds or injuries. She spread both coats out to dry and crawled back into the safety of his arms, which closed around her automatically.
Who the hell was roaring at him? He opened his eyes and was confused immediately. One eye was processing bright colors and the other had a red film over it. He blinked and shook his head. Okay, that was better. The bright colors were a rug; he was on a floor and the red film? Scully’s hair, his face was buried in it and it took all of his willpower to draw away from it.
She was asleep in his arms and he took the opportunity to enjoy it. She was peaceful, her lips barely parted. He’d kissed those lips, just a few days ago. Scully’s lips – no he’d kissed Dana’s lips. And this time there was no right hook to take away any of the pleasure, not that she would remember that. He did.
Neither had mentioned the incident since, as though waiting for the other to say something first. He had kept quiet because he was still a little surprised that he’d gotten away with it.
She didn’t think he was sorry, did she? That that was the reason he’d not spoken of it? She had been quiet ever since. He’d taken that for annoyance, like his decision to head out in this storm. She knew him better than that, didn’t she? Well Scully did, but did Dana?
When he’d actually kissed her she had ceased to be a co-worker, at least for that moment. She’d been a woman. He swallowed hard, how was he supposed to treat Scully the woman – Dana? For a second he was staring at a stranger in his arms, not the person he had come to know and care about over the last six years. This was a beautiful, desirable woman pressed up against his body, totally relaxed and secure.
He felt his own body stir. Mulder, come on! Scully would castrate you . . . but would Dana? Without conscious thought his lips were on hers again. Tasting her, appreciating the texture, the contour of her. Would she think he was taking advantage? Well he was, but not terribly. And the fact that she was responding was reassuring.
He forced himself to pull back. "Mulder?" She didn’t sound upset, more curious.
"Am I in trouble?" He hadn’t pulled away from her body, only her lips and she certainly wasn’t struggling. She hadn’t even tensed up.
"No, I guess not. What’s going on?"
"Well, we’re laying here in front of a fire, necking I think."
Her eyebrow rose but to his delight she still didn’t pull away from him. "I mean, where are we and why?"
"Oh, that’s a little harder to answer. I don’t know where we are. You were right about the storm; we shouldn’t have tried to leave. A truck ran us off the road." She nodded, that much she remembered. "I pulled you out and here we are. Wherever here is."
"You carried me?" He grinned and for some reason she blushed. That was stupid, she’d been unconscious, of course he’d carried her. That’s when she realized she was lying very comfortably in his arms.
She tensed immediately and he felt the difference. Scully was back; he’d been talking to Dana. He didn’t resist her movement away from him, though it took all of his strength. It was colder without her against him, not the temperature, the bleakness. This must have been reflected in his face.
"Are you okay?" Her hand on his face was so soft, even if she was checking as a doctor.
"Yeah." They both turned as the wind rose again outside the refuge. "Bad night out there."
"I’m glad you found this place." He wanted to draw Dana back, pull her back against his body. Unfortunately his experience with Dana was limited and he wasn’t sure of the signals. After the briefest of pauses, Scully moved even farther from him and sat up. "We ought to look around."
He nodded and she looked back at him, he seemed sad somehow. Had she done something wrong? Now that she wasn’t in his arms she was decidedly uncomfortable. This was the first time they had been out of town since New Year’s Eve. She meant ‘the kiss’ though she didn’t say that, even to herself. Why should a single New Year’s Eve kiss make her feel so strange? And now it had happened again. It wasn’t like they were groping each other in some backseat. Kissing Mulder was actually quite pleasant. Pleasant? Funny, pleasant kisses between friends had never caused moisture to pool there before. She didn’t know how to react to this – it was totally new territory and that frightened her a little. Okay, more than a little. She knew where she stood with Mulder, knew where all the pieces fit and now she was facing a whole new puzzle. Fox. The kiss had made him different – not Mulder. ‘I even made my parents call me Mulder.’
But Mulder was her partner; you didn’t kiss your partner. She should have stopped him, why hadn’t she? She could have, if she’d wanted to. Aha! The Dana part of her crowed - she’d finally allowed herself to know it. She hadn’t wanted to stop him. She realized it had gotten quiet in here and she was watching his lips as though for a signal. This was insane, they were in a perilous situation, possible life threatening and she was focusing on . . . she mentally shook herself and rose.
She missed his hand reaching out to stop her before he caught himself. What the hell was he thinking? He moved to rise himself but stopped, not quite stifling a groan.
She turned back instantly, the concern obvious in her eyes. "Mulder?"
He tried to wave her away, but every muscle in his body seemed locked into spasm now that he was no longer relaxed with her against him. "I’m okay."
"Right." She was kneeling beside him now, her hands tracing the muscles down his arm and along his shoulder.
"Watch it!" He tried to move away from her.
"Be still Mulder." This was her territory; she could examine him without emotion – well obvious emotion anyway. She was removing his sweater now and not allowing his protests to stop her. "I don’t see any cuts, but you’ve got plenty of bruises."
"Which you’re adding to." He grumbled. No need for her to know how good her fingers felt on his skin.
"Stay still Mulder. I’ll see if there’s any aspirin here."
"I said I was o . . . " He sank back down as her eyebrow rose. She was enjoying this; he could see it in her eyes. He closed his own eyes to get away from her. He’d just been kissing the woman, letting her remove his clothes, well she had, and now she was enjoying his pain.
She was beside him again with aspirin and bottled water. She tried to help him sit up but he pulled away from her. Oh that was a great idea. Was she laughing at him now? She’d been a lot more fun asleep more, well pliable. No, Scully wasn’t ever that – he was thinking about Dana again. He swallowed the pills and then forced himself to his feet.
"Mulder, how far did you carry me to get here?"
"I don’t know, it couldn’t have been that far, not in this weather." He could feel the building vibrate with the force of the wind.
"Take it easy. You’ve abused your body enough for today."
"So you’re not planning to abuse it later?" Ah, that was the Mulder she knew – all innuendo, no action. Scully once again shoved away the feel of his lips on hers as she woke.
She turned with no comment and returned to the kitchen area of the room. Mulder carefully looked around. Not a lot to see, one large room, kitchen alcove, the couch he was now seated on and one inside door. That was probably the bath. There was a loft, which must be the sleeping area. It would make sense, the only heat seemed to be the fireplace and heat rises.
Scully returned and sat beside him on the couch. He tried not to wince at the movement. "Sorry Mulder. There’s no power or water, except bottled. There’s some food and plenty of wood, so we should be okay for awhile."
They were on the mattress in front of the fire, she had her back to him but he knew she wasn’t asleep. He certainly wasn’t going to get to sleep with her this close to him. He wanted to talk to her, but the only topic that came to mind was off limits.
She took a deep breath, "Mulder, why did you kiss me?"
That stunned him. They were thinking along the same lines and she wasn’t able to sleep either, but that wasn’t a question he expected. "I wanted to, I have for a long time."
"Why?" She was honestly curious.
His eyes widened a little. Why? "Scully, have you looked in a mirror lately?"
"I’m serious Mulder. I want to know." But she didn’t want to see his face; she didn’t turn toward him.
"I am being serious. Scully, what do you see when you look in the mirror?" His hand had found her arm and was stroking it. She fought not to react to that.
"I don’t know what you mean. What do you see when you look in the mirror?"
"Okay, I see a 6’1" geek with brown hair who’s obsessive and would rather work 24/7 than have to be in a social situation and show his ineptitude." There was silence for a minute. "Now, what do you see?"
"A 5’2" woman with red hair, a scientist."
After a pause, "And?" His hand continued moving up and down her arm, it was damn distracting.
"You’re not looking closely enough. I see a 5’2" red head, a scientist, whose brilliance, commitment, integrity, and compassion has shown up the good old boy network at the Bureau and over shone everything we’ve tried to accomplish in our work. And a dynamite body."
"Mulder." She did start to jerk away then but he stopped her.
"What? I wasn’t supposed to notice the dynamite body? Sorry, but I am a trained agent of the FBI and besides, it's damn obvious."
She shook her head but made no comment for a moment. "Want to know what I see when I look at you?"
"I’m not sure." She smiled at that comment, he couldn’t see anyway.
"I see a 6’1" brown haired man. Not a geek, though he pretends to be one so people will leave him alone. He’s completely focused on his goals and doesn’t need the approval or help of anyone. He knows exactly what he wants and how to go about getting it. A man who’s positively spooky with his own brilliance and insight . . . and a dynamite body."
He gaped at her, unable to process a sound. She’d noticed his body? When? And why? He cleared his throat. "I do need approval Scully and help, yours anyway." He felt her relax under his hand. Where did this discussion leave them? Was he talking to Scully or Dana? Or both?
As though in answer to that thought she scooted back, closer to him and he met her half way, his arm going around her now. He felt warm, inside and out and more relaxed than he could remember feeling in decades. She sighed and his arm tightened slightly.
He didn’t know what he wanted to say. ‘I love you’ would probably be dismissed again. Better to keep quiet. "Nothing."
She turned then in his arms to see his face. Was he okay? Had she hurt him? Done something wrong? "Mulder?"
He shook his head and turned her back so that he could spoon her. "Go on to sleep, Dana."
She tensed, he knew! He knew the difference and he realized he was holding Dana. Oh god, what else? What else did he know that she wasn’t ready for? The desire to get away, far away from him flooded her. Fight or flight? It wasn't safe. If he could get to Dana she didn't have a chance. She had to be Scully around him, with him, or she was lost. Dana was already lost; she couldn't lose Scully to him too. She pulled away from him.
She hadn't meant to jerk away like that. "I . . . I’m not tired."
"Sure you are. You just don't want me so close."
"Stop what Scully?" He wasn't about to push her physically, but he couldn't just let this go.
"We're colleagues, we shouldn't . . . "
"Mulder - "
"I'm not being flip. We need to be close tonight, to save our lives. The fact that I'm going to enjoy it is just something you have to live with."
Instead of the protest he was expecting she stopped struggling, her back still to him. "Why did you call me Dana?"
That took him a moment. How much did she want to hear? "When I hold a woman in my arms, kiss her, I want to be more personal. You understand that, don't you?"
"That's not a good idea Mulder. Not between co-workers."
"That's what I am? Just a co-worker?"
"No! I mean . . . Mulder why are you doing this?"
There was a long pause before he answered. "I'm sorry Scully, I guess I thought - nevermind. You take the mattress, I think you'll be okay. I'll be over on the couch."
"That's not what I . . . "
"What do you want Scully? The status quo? Fine, but don't expect me to hold you and not want you."
Want her? As a woman? No, not her, she was just the only one available right now. He'd moved away and was rising from the mattress.
"Mulder, wait." He paused, prepared to listen to her. "Don't go."
"You say you don't want me to move, but I can't stay. What do we do?"
"Is this my decision?"
He didn't look away from her eyes. Holding her trapped without even touching her. "Yeah, I guess it is." When he saw the tears form in her eyes he did look away and sighed. He hadn't meant to hurt her. This was all too complicate, too fraught with unexpected pits and turns. And it was his fault, he'd kissed her New Year's Eve - she'd never wanted this. He'd made the move. He sighed again, "I'm sorry Scully, about everything. It'll be okay, lie down, I'll keep an eye on the fire."
He rose then and headed for the couch. She watched him go unable to speak. He made himself as comfortable as possible on the couch, his jacket thrown over him to leave her the blankets. He lay his arm over his eyes to block his view of her.
She couldn't take her eyes away from him. What did she want? Part of her wanted him so badly she ached, and part of her was so scared it was hard to breathe. She'd learned years ago not to count on other people. Every time she'd made a friend they'd moved. She'd lived in her apartment in DC longer than any place with her family. Only her family had been constant, now her father was gone, her sister dead and her older brother estranged. And at least the last two things could be tied to this man. Mulder was the longest relationship she'd ever had. He meant everything to her - there had never been so intense a . . . a commitment, a feeling of belonging with anyone. Yes they fought, but it didn't tear them apart. If anything it drew them closer. They hadn't been away from each other for more than a few days in seven years, yet she looked forward to seeing him every morning.
What more did she want from a relationship, from a man, than this? Except, of course, the physical. She closed her eyes then, that was what had brought her to this point to begin with. Why had he kissed her? Why had he stirred all of this up? She had been . . . content; at least she'd learned to live with it. She didn't need the physical, honestly, but she did need Mulder. And part of that entailed the physical. She'd always known this would happen eventually. Yet even after all these years she was still surprised, still uncertain. No that was Scully. Dana knew what she wanted; Dana had known for a long time how much she wanted this man. Maybe Dana was the smarter, the stronger, of the two. Now or later, there did seem to be an inevitableness to this.
"Mulder, Mulder come back to the fire. It's too cold over there."
"Scully, I'm - "
"Dana. The name is Dana."
That jolted him into moving his arm, half rising, his eyes opened wide. She smiled and reached for him.
"Well Mister, I don’t know how ya done it. We've found you a good ten miles from where your car turned over and in the only building around for another twenty. You must have the tracking instincts of an injun."
Mulder glanced over at Scully, seated beside him as the EMTs examined him now. She smiled at him and mouthed one word. "Spooky."
He decided not to argue.