He hadnít seen the hand she raised to pull him back to her and at his words, she dropped it quickly so he wouldnít see it. Damn it, why were they like this when they werenít working? Why couldnít they be comfortable together? It was her fault; she had to be giving him mixed signals, hell she was giving herself mixed signals when it came to him.
She knew that he would give his life for her without a second thought. All sheíd had to say was I need you and he dropped everything and came, even all the way to California when sheíd found Emily. He loved her, he just wasnít in love with her. Of course that didnít explain this morning, but that was just biology. At least he didnít realize how wet sheíd become in his arms, but he had whispered her name when he held her breast.
They shouldnít spend time like this together. They needed to separate their work lives and their personal lives more. They were getting entangled and that wasnít good. Of course that entailed finding a life for herself. She sighed and followed him back to the fire.
They ate the last of the símores, though they didnít seem as good as they had previously. Mulder looked up to find her watching him and tried to grin. "What? Have I got chocolate all over me now?"
"Uh, no." She looked away; she wasnít about to tell him she was just enjoying looking at him. Even with everything going on that they didnít understand, there was a feeling of safety just being with him. God, she was losing it. She rose abruptly and headed for the tent.
His mood sank even lower. She really would put in for that transfer this time. And they were supposed to be here one more day. If she murdered him, would his body return to his own dimension or would it stay here?
He cleaned up everything around the site and put out the fire. The lighting around him seemed to brighten to compensate for the dousing of the fire. Rather than analyze it he headed for the tent.
He had been sure she was in there separating the bags and moving as far from him as she could get in the confined space. He was wrong. She had gotten ready for bed, but had climbed into the sleeping bag as they had left it and was waiting for him. He didnít dare speak as she rolled over to give him some privacy.
He crawled in beside her and took her shoulder to turn her back towards him. "Thanks."
She shrugged and seemed to relax, scrunching down in the bag, but not turning away from him.
"Scully. . ."
"Nothing." He looked away, he was lying too close to her, this was too intimate. Maybe he should offer to separate the sleeping bags, he certainly wasnít going to be able to get to sleep with her right there practically against him. Especially when he wanted her to be completely against him and around him and under him and. . . . he groaned and turned away from her.
"Mulder? What? Whatís wrong?" She moved closer to him until he could feel her breasts against his back.
He reached for the zipper of the bag; "Iíll be outside. I donít want to keep you awake."
"No!" She clutched at his arm. "You canít go out there, I mean . . . Please donít."
"Scully, I canít lay here with you, like this. I just canít. Itís . . . Itís not a good idea."
He had to turn then to look at her, was she really that unaware of his feelings for her? At his incredulous look she realized what she was doing and blushed, releasing his arm and returning to her side of the bag.
"Weíre hopeless arenít we." Scully sighed.
"In what way?" Anything to keep her talking.
"The reason I donít have a social life isnít that I donít have time. I just donít remember how. The men I have managed to date, I compare to you. How is an accountant or a salesman supposed to compete with you? Itís not exciting to me, Iím looking for a way to get out after an hour or so. No one else takes me places like this, or causes my adrenaline to always be on full alert."
"Thatís a good thing?"
"I didnít say that, but it is addictive." She sighed again.
"I like the thought of you being addicted to me." Her eyebrow rose, but he plowed on anyway. "I know, Iím not supposed to say things like that. You donít want it and I shouldnít force it."
"I donít. . . ?"
"I know. I donít blame you. This . . . " He looked around the tent, "This is a perfect example of what a fuck-up I am."
"I donít want it to be like this. I donít want to only hurt you, hurt your family. I donít plan . . . " He gave a harsh laugh, "I guess thatís the problem, I donít plan. I leap ahead without thinking about the consequences. I put you in danger when I should be protecting you, cherishing you. . . "
"Mulder, I donít. . . "
"I know." He interrupted her again, "I know you donít want me like that." He sighed. "Iíve known for a long time."
"Would you shut up a minute."
At that he looked at her face, he couldnít read her expression. Sheíd never looked at him like that before.
"First of all, I never said I didnít want you to feel like cherishing me. And second of all, what kind of partners would we be if your focus were on protecting me instead of solving the case? Do you see the dilemma?"
He just looked at her. "Mulder weíd be as confused as we are now if not more. As confused as Iíve been about you, about us, for years. Youíre my best friend, you know me as well as I know you. Hell, I can have whole arguments with you now and you donít even have to be there. I know what youíll say. But sometimes I canít forget youíre a man Ė a very physically attractive man. I push it aside, sometimes easier than other times, but itís there. I donít want to think about you when Iím on a date, Mulder. It confuses me even more."
"So what is the answer?"
"I donít have one. Canít we just, for now, leave things as they are?" He sighed and turned away, but smiled slightly as he felt her cuddle up to his back.
He woke to find she had not turned from him in the night, and was now nestled against his chest, her head tucked under his chin, her legs entwined around one of his. His erection was pressing into her stomach and at his acknowledgement of that, the problem grew.
She stirred, waking and he whispered, "Please donít pull away from me."
To his astonishment she didnít, relaxing back against him. "Why is this a better idea now than it was last night?"
"It isnít." He began grinding his hips into hers.
"What if. . . what if weíre not good together?"
"Are you worried about that?"
He smiled for the first time that morning. "Me either." And he ground himself harder into her. He felt her hand find its way inside of his t-shirt.
"This is right Scully. No Bureau, no duty, for the time being our only responsibility is to each other. Makes me not want to go back."
"Is that a possibility?" Instead of responding he cupped her ass in his hands and ground even harder. "Mulder." It was only a breath, not really even a word. He felt her nails against his back and smiled. To hell with reality, this was where he wanted to be.
No fumbling, their clothing seemed to melt away, as though they had rehearsed this their whole lives. Both knowing instinctively what the other needed, wanted. Not good together?
She fell back exhausted. Never, it had never been like that. Oh she had come occasionally when sheíd been with the guy a while and could let down her instinctive guard, but never over and over like this. She really hadnít thought it was possible, assuming her girlfriends were lying or at least exaggerating. When had he observed her, studied her to know these things about her? What had he observed and how? Spooky.
He managed to roll to his side. Crushing her probably wouldnít be appreciated, especially with only that thin pad between them and the ground. He propped himself up on an elbow and lay looking at her as she worked her way back toward composure. He let his finger trace her hairline, not looking away, waiting for her to open her eyes.
When she did he saw the love in there, the contentment, but also a touch of fear. "Scully?"
She shook herself as though coming back from a long way. "Can it be too good, Mulder? What if I canít be without you now?"
"Then youíll be where Iíve been for years. Dragging you off on these trips, showing up at your apartment, calling in the middle of the night Ė just to be with you any way I could. But never quite believing that this . . ." He leaned in and kissed her nose, "that this could happen. Right this minute, I donít even want to go back."
She pressed her face into his chest. "Me either." He barely heard her, but let his arms close around her again. In a moment he felt her shaking and heard what could have been a sob.
He pulled slightly away from her and moved her face up to where he could see it. Laughing? "Scully?"
"You want me again."
"Well, yeah. Are you okay?"
"Delighted, ecstatic, thrilled, sore, horny." Now his smile matched her own and he pulled her on top of him.
"Please tell me Iíve created a monster." She laughed out loud at that while her fingers sought out his nipples.
For the next couple of hours both of them forgot everything else in whatever world they were in but each other. Fulfilling fantasies neither had ever dared express. Heíd never seen Scully like this, so free, so wanton, so damn passionate he thought heíd die from it. Where had she been when he was seventeen and could do this forever? Okay, thirteen and definitely not this accommodating. But she was here now and she was his. Best of all, she wanted to be.
She was lying on his chest now, eyes barely open. She was pretty sure if someone entered the tent now and drew a gun on them that she wouldnít be able to move.
Hunger finally woke her and she eased herself out of the sleeping bag and tested her ability to walk. The nudity sheíd observed before was nothing compared to this healthy Mulder. She quickly dressed and let herself out to get something together for them to eat. She was back from freshening up and looking into the supplies when he burst from the tent, stark naked, his eyes searching frantically for her.
When he spotted her the relief almost sent him to his knees. "Damn it Scully! I couldnít even hear you out here. I thought. . . nevermind what I thought."
"Iím sorry. It never occurred . . . I was just getting us something to eat. We used a hell of a lot of energy this morning." He was still too shaken to respond. "Maybe you ought to put on some clothes Mulder." He nodded and turned back to the tent, but glanced back once more before disappearing inside.
When he emerged he seemed to be more in control. "Iím sorry Scully. It was just . . . hell, it was waking up to my worst nightmare. Iíd finally gotten to be with you, the way Iíve wanted to for years, and you were gone without a trace, no sound, no movement, nothing."
She said nothing for a moment, the two of them standing close enough to touch, but not making a move to do so.
"Iím not going anywhere Mulder. Iím where I want to be, and with the man I want. You know that, donít you? After all these years, you do know that?"
He took a deep shuddering breath. "Itís good to hear. I was thinking about where we are though, that youíd been taken."
He hung his head at that, though he did nod.
"Iím not a little girl, Mulder. No one is going to take me from you. Not without the fight of their life." At that he drew her against him, just holding her loosely, trailing his hand up her back, over her shoulders. Memorizing her body with his fingers. "You believe me, donít you?"
"I sure wouldnít want to be the recipient of that kind of fighting with you."
She smiled. "Smart. Iíd take you apart. We have to get past this Mulder. Neither of us can be afraid to let the other out of our sight."
He nodded again. "I guess Iím not comfortable getting my heartís desire."
She rose on tiptoe and kissed his nose. "Youíve had me for a long time, you should start getting comfortable." That finally brought a smile to his face.
She was lying comfortably in his arms the next morning when the sound of a child yelling brought her fully awake. "Mulder, wake up!"
"Uh, what?" He struggled toward alertness, keeping her in his arms.
"What?" Now he was awake himself and could hear the sounds of other people. "I wonder where weíre back to."
"Yeah." They rose and dressed quickly, not having to look away or give the other privacy. Even in their hurry to check things out he paused to watch her dress. Nice, especially with no fear of being maimed for doing so. He realized she was watching him watch her, her eyebrow raised.
He grinned, not intimidated by her glare. "Come on, woman. Letís see where we landed." She shook her head at him but didnít comment, following him outside.
Well it wasnít Virginia. An older gentleman a couple of sites over waved at them and started toward them. "Got in kind of late last night didnít you?"
"Uh, yeah. What time was it anyway?"
"Donít know, after 2. Whereís your car?"
"Oh, we were dropped off." Scully had to look away at that, for heavenís sake donít let him see her smile.
He nodded, "Well, we appreciate how quiet you were. Didnít even realized anyone else had come in."
"It was so late, we hated to bother anyone. Where are we exactly?"
"Bitterroot National Forest. If you havenít been here before thereís a great hiking trail about a mile south of here. Beautiful country."
"Thanks, weíll look into that." The man gave Mulder a friendly salute and headed back to his own campsite.
"Weíre in Idaho, Scully." She nodded. "Iíd love to hear your scientific explanation."
"Bite me, Mulder. The cell phones are working."
"Does this mean we have to come back to reality?" The words were simple, the look was not.
"Call Skinner." She wouldnít look him in the eye. He felt lost suddenly; more lost that when they had been missing. He looked at her a moment, then dialed Skinnerís number.
He was put through immediately. "Where the hell are you Mulder?" Scully could hear the voice easily and winced as Mulder pulled back from the volume.
"Idaho? Is Scully with you?"
"Good." Mulder could feel Skinner calming slightly. "Now, what the fuck are you doing in Idaho? Youíve been reported missing from a camp ground on the North Carolina-Virginia border. Your car was recovered, but according to witnesses, you and your camping equipment vanished in the middle of the night."
"Thatís it? Yes sir?"
"I bet it is. I want a report as soon as possible. When will you be back?"
"Well, weíve got to rent a car to get this equipment back and itíll take a couple of days driving straight through to get to DC. Excuse me what day is it Sir?"
There was a long hesitation before Skinner spoke. "Tuesday."
"Uh, thanks." He didnít know what to say next, if anything. Anyway his attention was divided, he knew he needed to report in, but he desperately needed to talk to Scully. He realized Skinner was speaking again.
"Have Scully call her mother. Sheís very worried."
"Yeah, Iíll do that. We, uh, weíll get there as quick as we can."
"Do that." The connection was broken. Mulder stood looking at the phone, not sure what to do next.
"What was that last Mulder? I couldnít hear him."
"You need to call your mother. Sheís concerned about you. Since we were reported missing I guess they contacted next of kin."
"That would have been difficult, youíre my next of kin." His head flew up at that. He was? Not her mother or Bill?
"Scully . . . "
"We need to break camp. Think we can get a rental car delivered out here?" She turned from him then to start dismantling the equipment. After a moment he called for a car then joined her.
"Mulder, the samples are gone. All of them." He nodded, no more than he had expected. After that they worked in silence.
When they were finished, Scully wiped her hair back off of her sweaty brow. "Whereíre the showers?"
She felt like a new woman following the shower. He was waiting for her just outside the bathhouse. "Afraid Iíll get whisked away again?"
"Not willing to take the chance." His eyes were taking all of her in and she knew she was blushing. It was one thing to have this kind of regard from him when no one was around, but now the world suddenly seemed very crowded. How were they going to handle this now? Later, she couldnít handle it yet.
"Come on, I need to call Mom. If weíve been reported missing. . . "
He nodded and they headed back for their camp. He sat on the pile the tent made while she talked to her mother. "I know. Iím sorry you were worried, it was a last minute thing and I really didnít know where weíd end up." Mulder looked up and grinned at her. She stuck her tongue out at him and said, "Mulder says hi." Then, "Yes Iím glad he was with me too Mom." She winked at Mulder but managed to keep the smile out of her voice.
Such a small thing, but it made his heart race. She was able to look at him now. They needed to talk, and they would. They were facing a three-day car trip minimum. And wouldnít they have to sleep sometime?