Ditched - 3 (NC-17)


He slipped his key into the lock with relief.  The trip had been a bust, a waste of his time, but no one would know about it, she wouldn’t know about it.  It was late and he was tired.  At least he could get a little sleep before going into the office.  Not exactly a great weekend.

He didn't bother with the light, dropping his jacket on the coat rack and moving toward his bedroom.  A movement on the other side of the room stopped him and he turned.

Scully rose from the couch and he felt his heart sink.  "Scu . . . Scully, what are you doing here?"

She approached him and stopped just short of his reach.   She obviously didn't want him to touch her.   "I thought we had an agreement."   Had she been crying?

"Scully, it was a waste.  I didn't want to drag you off for something I knew wasn't going to yield anything."

"Then why did you go?"  She asked it quietly, calmly and for some reason that frightened him most of all.

"I . . . I just thought."

"You thought you should ditch me."

"Scully, this didn't concern you, I - "

The palm of her hand made sharp contact with the side of his face.  He blinked as he stepped back, his own hand coming up to touch his cheek.

"Goodbye Mulder."  She moved to the door and was gone without a backward glance.

He stood there, too stunned to move.  She had hit him.  Scully had actually struck him.  What the hell did she think he'd done?  It wasn't like he'd been with another woman, or . . .  

He shook his head, he was too tired to think straight tonight, and she was obviously too angry.  They'd talk in the morning when they got to work.  She would have had time to calm down by then.  He shook his head and trudged toward his bedroom.  He stripped down to his boxers and crawled into the bed.

As his eyes closed it occurred to him that she had seemed awfully calm already.  What had she said as she left?  Goodbye?  Not see you later, or we need to talk.  Goodbye.  What did she mean by that?  He couldn't sustain it, sleep taking over his body.

He was surprised to find the office locked the next morning.   He'd seen her car in the garage.  He pulled out his keys and let himself in.  Something seemed different though he couldn't quite put his finger on what.  He needed coffee, and then maybe he could function.  Before he could turn, the phone on his desk rang.


"I need to see you in my office.

Skinner?  What did he want?   "Yes sir."  Mulder hung up the phone, looked longingly at his coffee cup, and then moved toward the elevator.

The halls were crowded, but he moved as quickly as possible toward Skinner's office.  Nearly there, he spotted her, Scully, moving away from the office.  He started to call out to her, to wait, but the crowd engulfed her.  He needed to talk to her alone anyway.  As soon as he finished with Skinner he'd get this mess straightened out.

Skinner met him at the door - never a good sign and closed the door behind him.  He motioned for Mulder to take a chair and seated himself behind the desk.

Without preamble he spoke, "Agent Scully has been offered a temporary assignment with the VCS and has accepted it."

Mulder's mouth fell open but he didn't speak.  "The assignment’s duration is indeterminate so I'm not certain when she might be returning to the X-Files.  I'll see about assigning you a temporary partner for field work."

"Don't bother."  Mulder had risen to his feet then and headed toward the door.


Mulder stopped, his hand on the doorknob, but didn't turn to face Skinner.

"Nothing.  I'll talk to you later."  Skinner subsided.

Mulder gave one quick nod and let himself out of the office.   Skinner leaned back in his chair, rubbing one hand over his brow.

Mulder turned toward the stairs, traffic in the halls was easing up, but he didn't want to see anyone.  He let himself back into his office and looked around the room with different eyes.  He saw it now; the office was missing her little touches.   He turned toward the file cabinet and jerked open the second drawer on the far left, pulling it all the way out.  It was gone.  Scully had kept a package of pantyhose in there, a spare for emergencies.  He doubted she was even aware he knew about it, but it was gone, along with her coffee cup and every other personal item in the office.

"Goodbye Mulder."  Had she meant that?  Okay, he had ditched her after promising not to, but how could she just walk away without at least talking about it.  He sank into his chair, coffee forgotten.

He didn't dare go looking for her now.  He'd cause a scene and only make things worse.  No, this needed to be a private conversation.  And she needed to calm down.

He trailed her home, staying well back.  It wasn't as though he didn't know the way.  Her car was parked when he arrived, but she must have already gone inside.  Good, they needed some privacy.

He was quickly at her door and knocked sharply.  There was no answer, but he knew she was in there.  He knocked again.  There was no way he was leaving without talking to her.  This was too important.

He knocked a third time, even more loudly.  She was avoiding him, but it wasn't going to work.  Didn't she realize how important this was?  He pulled his keys from his pocket and tried to fit his key to her apartment in the lock.  It didn't fit.   It didn't fit?  She'd had the lock changed?  To hell!  One kick of his foot splintered the frame and the door burst inward.  She was standing on the other side of the room, her face registering her shock.

"What the hell do you think you're doing?"  He spat as he advanced on her.

"You expect me to work with someone I can't believe, can't trust?"

He loomed over her then.

She stiffened her spine and refused to allow herself to retreat from him.  She glanced over at the remains of the door.  "What do you want?"  She looked up at him now.  "Are you here to rape me?"

That stopped him in his tracks.  He stepped back away from her, his eyes narrowed.  "That's more your speed, isn't it?"

She felt the heat in her face, but didn't speak.

He took a couple of deep breaths.  "Fine.  I'll get out of here.  Send me a bill for the door."  Breathing heavily he retraced his steps to the car and she cringed as she heard his tires squeal when he peeled out.


He could feel the tension in the building when he entered.   He tried to make himself care, but he didn't anymore.  He hadn't watched the news in weeks; hell he hadn't bothered to shave in a couple of days.  The conversation was in full force in the elevator.  "Yeah, they haven't released everything, but forty are dead, two hundred injured, twenty critically.  We lost three and may lose some more."

"Weren't they watching for it?"

"Yeah, hell that date, why do you think so many of ours were there?"  Both men shook their heads and exited the car.

Mulder rode on down to the basement alone, only mildly interested.   He unlocked the door and let himself in.   He moved toward his desk and noted that once again he had forgotten to empty his coffee cup.  He reached for it as his phone rang.  Shit, there was no one he wanted to talk to.


"Mulder, get up here now."  Skinner hung up then and Mulder sighed.  With that tone he better get up there.  If this was about some other partner Skinner was planning to stick him with, he could shove it.

He took the elevator, it was empty now, not that he cared.   "Go on in Agent Mulder."  Angie spoke softly and her expression was strange, almost as though she felt sorry for him.  Yeah, right.

He tapped on the door as he opened it.  "If this is about another partner - "

"Sit down Agent Mulder.  Are you aware of the situation in Denver?"

"Denver?  No."

Skinner looked at him curiously; "You haven't heard any news?"

"Is there a problem in Denver?"  He couldn't quite keep the impatience from his voice.

"There was an explosion.  Domestic terrorism, the VCS was working the case."  For the first time Mulder's attention was caught.  "It went bad."

"How bad?"

"We lost three agents, four more are hospitalized."

The band of steel around his chest tightened.  He swallowed, but words still didn't come for a long moment.   "Is, is Agent Scully still officially assigned as my partner?"

"You better get out there Mulder."  He was already on his feet and moving toward the door.  "Mulder."  He turned to look at him; "You need to hurry."

Mulder didn't take the time to acknowledge that statement, moving with increasing speed toward the stairs.  He didn't bother with his own car, he wasn't sure he would be safe on the road anyway, commandeering a cab away from some suit out front. 

He threw money at the driver as they screeched up to the terminal at National.  He was running flat out toward the ticket counter and shoved his way to the front of the line, displaying his badge prominently.  "I'm on your next flight to Denver.”

“I’m sorry sir.  There’re no seats available on that flight.”

“I don’t need a seat.” 

For just a second she thought he was going to pull a gun on her.  “I’ll, uh, I’ll see what I can do.”

“You do that, I’ll be on the plane when you get it straightened out.”  He turned toward the gate, already picking up speed.

“Sir!  Do you have any luggage?”

He didn’t bother to respond, but he knew in the back of his mind that if he survived whole, he would laugh about that question someday.


In Denver he used his badge as a battering ram to get to the trauma center, not accepting any delays.  Skinner had said to hurry and he hadn’t had the guts to ask how bad that was.

He let himself into the ICU.  He stopped for an instant, the place was busy; the explosion had sent a lot of people here.  Then he started down the isle, looking from side to side as he passed the cubicles. 

His steps faltered when he saw her and that band that had not left his chest since Skinner's office tightened painfully.  He made his way to her side blindly.  She looked like she had in the hospital when she had been returned to him, following her abduction.

He realized his hand had taken hold of hers.  Her hand was cool and she didn't respond at all to his touch.

"Sir, you can't be in here."

He didn't turn, just pulling his badge from his pocket with practiced ease.

"I don't care if you're J. Edgar himself, you can't be in here.  You'll compromise her care."

"I won't compromise her care, but I have to be here with her."

"You think you know how to treat her better than we do?"

"Maybe.  Look, I won't be in your way.  I promise.  Just let me stay with her.  She's my . . . my partner."

The nurse harrumphed at that. 'Partner', was that what they were calling it now?  The alarms went off just then and the nurse whirled around, this man forgotten as she called out "Crash cart!  Number seven, get Dr. Amos!"

Mulder shuddered but turned back to her.  "Scully?  Scully I'm here.   You have to come back because we're way past due for a long talk.  Come on, I need you."

He settled in beside her and the nurses left them alone, checking on her occasionally but giving them their time.  These nurses had seen trauma victims for years.  This one would probably never regain consciousness; they weren't going to begrudge him time with her.

But she didn't die.  In fact, she seemed to be improving slightly.  And he didn't leave her side for more than ten minutes at a time.  The staff of the ICU became used to his presence, and in fact his help, when he could assist.

He was alone with her when she first stirred.  It was just a restlessness in the bed, not full consciousness but he was on his feet instantly.

“Scully?  Scully, it’s Mulder.  Can you hear me?”

Her fingers may have tightened around his hand but he couldn’t be sure.

“Scully, please.  Open your eyes.”

They fluttered but didn’t open.  Her lips moved, forming his name but no sound came.

He reached for the call button when she moved again, “Mu . . . hurts.”  It was barely a whimper. 

“We’ll get you something for the pain, Scully.  Hold on just a minute.”  He was pressing on the button repeatedly now and he could hear footsteps hurrying his way.

Adele, the nurse that had finally allowed him to stay, got there first.  “She’s waking up and she’s in pain.  You need to give her something.”

“Let us check her out, Mr. Mulder.  Her doctor’s already been paged.”  She could tell how reluctantly he released her hand to allow them access and to Adele’s surprise, the patient’s hand groped on the sheet as though looking for him.

“Dana, Dana we’ll get you something for the pain in just a minute.  Let us check you out a little.”

“Mul . . . “

“He’s right here.  We can’t get rid of him for anything.  Just relax as best you can.  Okay?”

Those words did seem to relax her and Adele exchanged glances with the other nurse.  Dr. Pendleton walked in about that time and Mulder made himself as unobtrusive as possible.  They weren’t going to have the opportunity to ask him to leave.


She was awake more and definitely more alert now.  Her first move upon awakening was always to search for him, though he didn’t seem to realize it.

He saw that her eyes were open and leaned over her.  “Scully?”


“Am I, am I welcome here?”  His demeanor was full of uncertainty and fear.

“Who else would I want to wake up to?”

He blinked at that, but held his tongue.

“Where are we?  I can’t seem to get it in my head.”

“Denver, Scully.  You’re in Denver.”

“Denver?  I don’t remember the case.  We have an X-File in Denver?”

“An X . . . Scully?  What . . . what do you remember?” 

She closed her eyes and sighed a little.  “It’s hazy, I was . . . I couldn’t find you Saturday evening or most of the day Sunday, so I went over to your place to wait.  I don’t . . . it goes away then.”

He stood over her afraid to move.  She didn’t remember the fight?  Her request to leave him?

“Mulder?  What’s wrong?”

“Nothing, Scully.  Nothing.  You just need to rest and get your strength back so I can take you home.  Okay?”

“Mulder, how sick was I?”  She looking more closely at him now and let her hand come up to touch his hair.

“You, uh, you gave us quite a scare.”

She didn’t respond to that, the white in his hair spoke volumes though.  She did need to get her strength back, show him that she really was okay and . . . and allay whatever else was bothering him.


She lay watching him sleep.  The man was amazing, he didn’t seem to need much sleep, but when he did, he abandoned himself to it.  She would never have been able to fall asleep in that chair.

Even as she thought it, he stirred and saw her watching him.   He leaned forward.  “Are you okay?  Why didn’t you wake me?”

“You looked so comfortable.”

He managed a weak smile and she thought again about how out of it he had seemed.  “Mulder, you’ve never told me about the X-File we’re here on.”

“Scully, it’s the middle of the night.  You should be resting.”

“That’s all I’ve done Mulder.  Talk to me - was it that bad?”

“You, uh, you weren’t here on an X-file.  You were . . . Scully, you were with Violent Crimes on domestic terrorism.  You were caught in an explosion.”

She just stared at him for the longest moment.  “Were you here?”

He just shook his head, seemingly unable to speak.

“Was it, was it like Ritter?”

He shuddered then and swallowed.  “Not, not exactly.”

She was watching him, watching much too closely.  He looked down at his hands.

“Mulder, if I was in an explosion, due to terrorists, you can’t blame yourself.”

“Maybe you should have let me sleep.”

“Mulder, what’s wrong?  Please.”

“Not now Scully.  Go back to sleep and we’ll talk about this when you’re stronger.  I promise.”

She nodded reluctantly and took his hand before closing her eyes.  She couldn’t tell who needed the reassurance more, him or her.


“I’m not completely comfortable about this.  Ms. Scully, you live alone.  I don’t feel that - “ 

“She has people that could stay with her.”  Mulder interrupted the doctor. 

The doctor glanced over at him.  He knew what this man had already done for her, knew that he hadn’t left her side for days.   “Let me talk to your other doctors; if you wouldn’t be alone . . . “

“Thank you Dr. Pendleton.” Scully watched him leave the room before turning back to Mulder.  “I have people?”

“Well, you have person.”  He grinned.

“Would this person be a tall, dark and handsome FBI agent?”

“Well, tall and dark, anyway.”  He squeezed her hand.

“Mulder, you’ve already spent so much time here - “

“And I still have eight weeks of vacation the Bureau is screaming for me to use.”  He shrugged, “I’d rather use it this way.”

“Well, that leads to the inevitable question - your place or mine?”

“Oh, well I was, uh, thinking mine.  Your couch is awfully short.”

She couldn’t quite hide the look of disappointment that flitted across her face, though she tried.  The couch?  He was planning to sleep on the couch.  Was it to protect her, fear that he would hurt her in his sleep?  It didn’t feel like it.  It felt like rejection and she didn’t know why!  Their relationship had changed; at least from the way she remembered it.  But he had been here all this time.  He must feel something for her, just apparently not the way she remembered it.

He felt her withdraw from him and stepped closer to the bed, but the tap on the door interrupted him.   

Adele stuck her head in.  “Ready for a little physical therapy?”  She pushed a wheelchair into the room and Mulder stepped back to give her room.

“You want to give me a hand Mr. Mulder?”  Adele took hold of Scully’s arm.

“Sure.”  He moved forward, but Scully pulled away slightly.  Most people wouldn’t have even seen the movement, it was so small, but it felt like a kick in the gut to him. 

“That’s okay Mulder.  Why don’t you go get something to eat, or stretch your legs?  We’ll be fine.” 

Adele looked down at her but didn’t speak.

“Scully, are you - “

“It’ll be fine Mulder.  I’ll see you later.”

“Yeah, sure.”  He turned and left the room without another word

After the door closed, Adele took a deep breath.  “Okay, usually this would be none of my business, but you are recovering from a major trauma.  The last thing you need is to be fighting with him.”

“I beg your pardon?”

“I don’t know what he’s done, but . . . Dana, the man is a legend around here and not just for the hot body.  He did not leave your side for four days.  Three of those, he was the only one that thought you might live.  He’s probably more responsible for your recovery, which is amazing by the way, than anyone here.   Forgive him.”

“Maybe he should be forgiving me.”


“I . . . I don’t . . . you know I’m suffering from short term memory loss.”  Adele nodded.   “During that missing time, something happened.  I must have done something, but he won’t talk about it yet.”

Adele began wheeling Scully toward the door.  “I don’t think it was you.  You didn’t see the man when he got here.  Hell, he was so consumed with guilt, if he hadn’t been an FBI agent I would have thought he caused the explosion himself.”

“Yes, that’s Mulder.  Why won’t he talk to me?”  She said this mostly to herself, but Adele answered anyway.

“He still can’t believe he didn’t lose you.  He’s not going to do anything that could jeopardize your health.   Don’t ask him to.”

Scully turned in the chair to look up at the nurse.  After a long moment she nodded.


“Mulder, I can walk.  If you’re going to treat me like an invalid, I’ll wait until you fall asleep and just slip out and go home.”

He looked abashed, shit; she had hoped he would tease her back.  Okay, they were home now, tonight she was going to have this out with him whether he was willing or not.   Or she really would walk out.

For now she allowed him to help her into his bedroom.  He seated her in the chair there, after dumping the contents on the floor and changed the sheets quickly.  He obviously hadn’t planned on company when he had left all those days ago to come to her.

She was tired; she could admit that to herself.  It had been a long flight and she was far from top shape.   Still it felt exhilarating to be home - well, Mulder’s home.

She sank into his bed gratefully, wishing only that he were there beside her.  She kept quiet about that.  Whatever was going on was still going on.

When she woke from her nap it was already dusk outside.  Well, she couldn’t expect to make a complete recovery this quickly, much as she would like to.  She got herself out of bed carefully and moved toward the living room. 

He was there on the computer, his back to her, but he seemed to sense her presence and turned.  “Why didn’t you call me?”

“Because I can do this myself, thank you.”  She moved carefully to the couch and sat, aware that he was watching her, gauging her abilities.

“I didn’t want to leave while you were asleep, but I need to get some food in the place.  And I can go by your apartment and pick up anything you need.”

“Now there’s a thought, you rummaging through my lingerie drawer.”  Instead of the comment she had expected, he ducked his head.  Okay, that was it.  She’d given him every chance. 

“Mulder, please come here.”

His head came up immediately, and to her surprise, he obeyed her immediately. 

“We’re home now, I’m healing very well, regaining my strength.  So, what the hell is going on?”

He blinked at that and looked over toward his computer.

“Oh no you don’t.  You’ve avoided this conversation for the last time.  We both know I have no memory of the time just before the . . . the explosion.  But we also both know that something happened to change our relationship.  I have to know what.”

“Scully, no.  It’s not - “

“Yes it is, it is important Mulder.  My imagination is a lot worse than the truth could be.”

"Is it?  Maybe you'd be better off not remembering.  Maybe I don't want you to remember."

"Don't want me to . . . Mulder?"

"No.  I don't want you to remember.  Get it?  What you're missing isn't . . . Scully let it drop!"   His expression actually frightened her.   He turned then, away from her, to regain his composure.

She froze for an instant, then rose and hurried to his room slamming the door.  He heard the lock snick into place.  Hell, he hadn’t realized that his bedroom door had a lock!    She was crying. 

“Scully, Scully let me in.  Please.”

She didn’t respond.

“Scully, please!  Don’t make me kick down another door.”  Then he realized she didn’t remember that either.  He laid his head against the door.  “Scully, please.”

He didn’t hear her steps, but he did hear the knob turning.  He raised his head slightly and looked into her tear-streaked face as the door opened.

She didn’t speak, just moved back toward the bed.  He followed and sat beside her.  He took a deep breath.

“I ditched you.  After I promised not to.  This whole thing, your injuries are my fault.  If I had kept my word to you - “

“You ditched me?”  She looked puzzled for a moment, then rubbed her hand across her brow as though in pain.


“He called me."  She looked up at him.  "That’s why I was at your place.  You wouldn't answer your cell phone.  I was searching . . . “

“Who called you?”

She looked up at him then, “Deep Throat.  I know he’s dead, but it sounded like his voice.  He said . . . he told me it was a trap and I had to find you.   That you were going to be killed.  Oh my god.”

Her face had gone dead white with the memory.  Without thought he pressed her down on the bed and lifted her legs to the mattress.  “Scully, stay with me Scully.”

Color was returning to her face and with it her temper.  “You could have been killed!”

“That’s why you left me.”  He said it quietly, fearfully and she hesitated.

“Left you?”

“You asked for a transfer the next day.  You didn’t even tell me, Skinner called me to his office and dropped the bomb.  You accepted a ‘temporary’ assignment with the VCS and ended up in Denver.  So I nearly got you killed as well.”

“I asked . . . “

“For a transfer, yes.  Do you think I want you to remember that?  Or that it was my fault because of a broken promise?  Or that all the pain you’re recovering from is my fault!”

He was looming over her now, his voice rising.  She sat up suddenly and before he could lean back had taken his lower lip into her mouth.  His eyes widened as she suckled it for a second, then bit into it sharply.  He jerked back.

“What the hell?”

"You ditched me to nearly get killed, then I'm the one that's injured.  I suppose that's typical with us."

He hung his head, not able to dispute her words.  "Maybe I was right, Mulder, on some level.  Common sense would say we're not good together."

His head jerked up then, panic in his eyes.

"That's why you didn't want me to remember.  I came to my senses and left you."

"Scully - "

"What I do remember," she continued as though he hadn't spoken, "is that I was happy with our new closeness, our intimacy.  I'm not sure that common sense should be part of a relationship like we developed over the last seven years."

He swallowed hard, not daring to speak and interrupt her.

"Now if it's true that I can't trust you, that you're not going to keep your word about this propensity to ditch me - "

"Scully, please.  It's not ditching you, it's trying to keep you safe."

"Like this time?  It seems to me that when you purposely try to keep me safe, it's worse than when you don't.  What if you just didn't go off on these little investigating trips that are so dangerous you don't want me along?  No wait, that would be common sense too, wouldn't it?"

"What do you want me to say?  I fucked up.  You should be used to that by now.  You should also know you're the only important thing in my life.  Yes, I'm going to try to keep you safe above all else.  When I'm following a lead that is probably bogus - "

"If it's bogus, why follow it?"

"Because it's what I do!   Remember, I'm Spooky Mulder.  You're the legitimate member of the team.  Scully, I can't just change, not after all these years, even for you."

She sighed, "I'm not sure I want you to change.  I fell in love with the way you are and - "

"Fell in love?  Did you say 'fell in love'?"

Her eyes were big, staring at him like a deer caught in the headlights.  "I . . . Mulder, I need some time."

"You want me to leave?"

"You said you would go get my things.  Could you do that now?"

He nodded slowly; reeling from the direction the conversation had taken.  Yes, before he had betrayed her, they had become intimate.  But they hadn't discussed love; not after that one conversation, in fact they had avoided it.

“You . . . you’ll be okay?”

She nodded but didn’t speak.  After a minute, he rose from the bed.  He turned to look at her one more time before leaving the room, but she wouldn’t look at him.  Shit!  Everyone would have been better off if they had just taken him instead of Samantha.  Think of all the lives he wouldn’t have fucked up.


When he returned with her things and dinner, he met her coming out of the bedroom.  He couldn’t tell that she looked rested, but she seemed calm.  Was that a good thing?

She took the Styrofoam containers from his hands before he could drop them and moved into the kitchen.  He took her suitcase and the smaller bag on into the bedroom.

She was still in the kitchen when he came out, so he headed that way.  “I knew you liked Thai, is it okay?”

“It smells very good.  Thank you.”

He shrugged, they were moving around each other like strangers, and it was depressing him.

“I’ll dish this up, would you get us some tea?”  She glanced in his direction but wouldn’t meet his eye.

“Uh, sure.”  Anything.  Damn he’d be more comfortable with his father here.

They ate in awkward silence.  When she was finished, he took her plate and carried it into the kitchen.  She heard the water running, so she rose and headed for the bedroom to see what he had packed for her.

His choices had been good, slacks, jeans, t-shirts and sweaters.  He'd even remembered her robe and slippers.  She'd given him no direction, but he'd chosen pretty much what she would have.  The lingerie he'd chosen was for the most part what had been on top.  He'd not dug through to find her sexier stuff.

Then she spotted the smaller bag, and pulled it up on the bed to see what else he had brought.


She'd been gone a long time.  The Scully he knew could have unpacked three or four times.  He hadn't heard the water, so she wasn't in the tub.

The bedroom door wasn't closed and he moved toward it to see what was happening.  He was moving quietly and she didn't seem to hear him.  She was holding something in her hand that he couldn't see.  What he could see were the tears trailing down her face.

He didn't hesitate, entering the room and joining her on the bed.  "Scully?"

"I didn't ask you for . . ." She opened her hand and he saw the small bottle of bath oil he'd chosen, after smelling most of them.

"I . . . I thought it might make you feel better."

"How can you be so sweet and such a bastard at the same time?"  She hiccuped slightly saying those words.

"Because I've never loved anyone before.  I don't really know how.  I want to protect you, I want you with me, I want the rest of the world to go away.   I'm not going to get any of that."

She sniffed, "Well, the rest of the world won't go away, and you can't protect me, any more than I can protect you.  But I am here.  You're my 'people' to look after me while I regain my strength."

"Just until then?"

She managed a wet smile then.  "We were good together."

"We still are Scully."

She just looked at him, making no response.

"Let me run you a bath."  He took the bottle out of her hand.  She didn't resist.  When he returned to her she had undressed.  He led her to the tub and removed the robe from her shoulders, then helped her down into the bubbles.

She relaxed into the warmth, then looked up at him.  "Join me?"

He blinked at her, then slowly nodded.  He only hesitated a moment, then began shedding his own clothes.   She watched and tried to hide the effect this was having on her.  Without a word, he slipped into the tub behind her, pulling her against his body.

She had pulled her hair up, and her neck was exposed to him.   He sank lower in the water to bring his lips to it.  She was still weak, and he had seen the bruises that were healing but still visible.  He gently caressed her skin under the water and felt the light shiver, though he was confident she wasn't cold.

His hands came up to cup her breasts and he felt her breath grow shallow, but he was afraid even to smile.  His thumbs came up to caress her nipples.  They immediately hardened into little buds.  Now a small smile did form on his lips.  At least he could still please her body.

She closed her eyes as she felt him grow and press into her lower back.  She moved back toward him involuntarily, increasing the contact.  She felt his groan more than heard it.

"Been a long time?"

"You know exactly how long it's been, Scully."

For some reason she blushed at that, though she kept her silence.

He ground himself lightly into her back.  "What are we going to do, Scully?  Are you going to leave me?"

She rested her head back against his chest.  "I don't know what's right."

"Forget right and wrong for a minute Scully.  How do you feel?"

She hesitated so long he didn't think she was going to answer, then, "Whole, complete."

"What do you want?"

She shook her head, "I don't know."

"I don't know that I can change.  I can tell you I will, but it's not a promise I'm sure I can keep."

"I don't know that I want you to change, Mulder." 

"I . . . I don't understand."

She sighed, "I know where I've been the last few weeks now.  I also know there's a letter of resignation on my computer, waiting for me to return from Denver."

"Res - resignation?"

"Working for the VCS wasn't right for me.  It wasn't . . . exciting."

"Being in an explosion?" 

"That's not the kind of explosion I need."  She refused to look at him.

"Um."  He nuzzled her neck, and let his hands move down her body stroking her flat belly on their way farther south.

"Mu - Mulder."

"Do you want me to stop?"

The negative motion of her head was almost imperceptible.   He continued his exploration, enjoying the movement of her body against his straining erection as she helped him pleasure her.

His finger brushed through her curls and outlined the opening of her core.  When she didn't protest, he slipped a finger inside, then two.  She moaned softly and he moved inside of her.  He took his time, bringing her almost to the peak several times, until she whimpered.  He took pity on her then, pressing firmly on that bundle of nerves and felt her buck against him as pleasure took over her body.

She seemed to come forever, murmuring his name as she rode the waves of her orgasm.  When she finally collapsed bonelessly against him, he held her close.

He continued to hold her as she got her breath back, then carefully laid her back as he exited the tub.  He wrapped a towel around himself, then knelt beside the tub and rinsed her off.   After letting the water out, he helped her from the tub and seated her on the side.  He dried her carefully, then lifted her into his arms and carried her to the bed.

She looked up at him, bending over her.  "I'll be back in just a minute."

"Don't leave."

He glanced down and she took his hand.  "Here.  Stay here."

With her free hand she took hold of the towel that he wore, and let it fall to the floor.  She moved over in the bed to give him room.  "Scully.   You're not - "

"Do it here.  Let me watch."

"Watch?"  He swallowed, observing her.

Her hand caressed his chest, lightly brushing his nipple.   She saw him twitch at her attentions, and her eyes smiled.  He was right about one thing, they were good together, damn him.

His hand closed around his straining member and she wrapped her own hand around his.  The first strokes were long and slow and his eyes closed to savor the sensations.  Her free hand continually teasing his nipple.

This wasn't going to take long.  He could still feel her slick body pressed up against his in the tub.   His pace increased and his eyes opened to watch her watching him.  That was all it took, he could feel his release from his toes.  His balls tightened to near pain, "Scullly!"

Her eyes widened as she saw him come and come.  Surely the world had gone into slow motion, for him to come this long.  His head fell back and his eyes locked on hers.  They stared at each other for the longest time, then she started to rise from the bed.  He clutched her arm.

"I'm not going anywhere."  She lifted the towel from the floor and cleaned him up.  He watched her quietly, his eyes never leaving her face as she leaned over him.

"Scully - "

"I'm not going anywhere."  He finally nodded, understanding the words.  She crawled back into the bed with him and pulled the sheet up over both of them.  Things still needed to be worked out, but she realized now, nothing would be simple with them.  They would always have conflict.  That was the way they were, but they were right together. 

Fighting, loving, just being together - it was right.  She sighed and relaxed into the comfort of his arms.  She'd still fight against him going off into danger without her, but she just couldn't turn off her feelings for this man.  And it seemed to be the same for him.

As though he heard her thoughts, he gathered her closer to him.  "I'm not going anywhere either."

She nodded and closed her eyes.