It was full daylight when he woke. He’d slept through the night? He glanced at his watch. Damn, he’d slept eleven hours! How the hell many years had it been since he’d slept eleven hours? She squirmed against him and his morning hard on took on a whole new meaning.
No, he couldn’t, he wouldn’t take advantage of her. He’d have to be careful on the trip back. He was damn attracted to her, more than any woman that he could remember. But hell, he didn’t even know her name. Maybe this wasn’t such a good idea.
He slipped out of the bed and hurried to the bathroom. A cold shower took care of his problem physically, but she was right out there and they would be alone on the road for days.
Hell, he was an adult, not some horny teenager. He’d just make sure all of the rest of the motels had two beds in each room. It didn't cross his mind that it hadn’t occurred to him to get two rooms.
Once dressed, he returned to the room. She was still asleep, but had moved over to his side of the bed and was hugging his pillow. He sat on the edge of the bed and brushed her hair out of her face. “Hey, Red.” He spoke softly, “It’s morning. You need to wake up.”
She mumbled something, then opened her eyes to see him leaning over her. It brought an immediate smile to her face and his breath caught. She was so beautiful with that red hair spread all over the pillow and those big blue eyes smiling up at him.
“I, uh, I’ve already had my shower. You go ahead and get ready. We can get a bite of breakfast, then take Diana to the airport.”
Her smile dimmed at the mention of the other woman, but she nodded and rose from the bed. She gathered up the least offensive of the clothing Diana had purchased and disappeared into the bathroom. He heard the shower cut on and found himself visualizing the scene he was missing in there and shook his head. Oh this was a great way to go mad.
He packed up his clothes, making room for her things as well. He heard the water cut off just as the knock came on the door. He opened it when he identified Diana. She didn’t look very rested.
“I was just packing. Red’s getting dressed.”
“Fox, please tell me you’ve changed your mind. This is a very bad idea.”
“Maybe, but it’s my bad idea. Diana, you mentioned my, my sister yesterday - “
“Fox, I - “
“If you know about her, then you know how important this is to me. I will not let them have her. I won’t Diana. Do you hear me?”
She sighed, but nodded.
They both turned to look as the door opened. The young woman had pulled her long red hair back into a ponytail, though the drying tendrils around her face were escaping the elastic band and curling.
She had brought out his kit bag and handed it to him. “What about your things?”
She looked down at his bag and he realized her toiletries were sharing the space with his. It was stupid, but it gave him a warm feeling. Diana’s eyes were hard and cold as she looked at this interloper that was causing her so much aggravation.
“You ready for some breakfast, Red?”
She smiled at him and ignored Diana. Mulder lifted the suitcase from the bed and opened the door for the women. Diana carried her suitcase to the car and waited as Mulder opened the trunk.
‘Red’ opened the front passenger door and seated herself. Diana stopped, stunned at her audacity. Mulder didn’t say anything, slipping into the car himself rather than make a comment. It would be a bad thing to laugh, even though that was his inclination.
Diana let herself into the back seat with a snort and Mulder made a concerted effort not to look toward either woman.
He pulled into a diner on the way to the airport and the three of them entered and took a booth in the back. He sat beside Red, as though shielding her with his body. Diana noted the protective gesture and felt even more dismay.
He ordered for her and she nodded her approval. Diana rolled her eyes, but couldn’t really call her on it. The others in the hospital hadn’t spoken either. It was as though they’d forgotten how. She had said his name; that was a start. The problem was, what would she say when she could speak?
Following breakfast Mulder drove Diana on to the airport. Red had resumed her seat in front and Diana didn’t attempt to beat her to it. She wasn’t really sure she wanted to sit next to Fox right now anyway.
As he pulled up to the door of the terminal, she touched his shoulder. “Be careful Fox. You’re taking I84 to 80, right? Please call me tonight and let me know . . . “
“Don’t worry about us, Diana. Just keep Blevins busy. I’ll check in tonight.”
Mulder didn’t accompany Diana inside, which hurt her in a way she couldn’t quite describe. She understood that he didn’t want to leave his charge alone, but there had been no opportunity to say anything in private.
Once she disappeared into the terminal, he pulled away and turned toward the exit.
“What?” He looked over at her startled.
“Not 84. Another way.”
“Another way? Why?” He looked over at her. She was perfectly serious. Was it just because Diana had suggested it? No, this woman wasn’t petty. Yes, she had asserted her position with him. Hell, he had saved her life and she felt safe with him. He could only hope it was justified. But petty? No, it didn’t feel like that. She was obviously serious about this route change.
She nodded, smiling.
“The I-5 it is. We’ll head toward Las Vegas for a while, then turn east.”
She relaxed back against the seat. For some reason he felt more comfortable about this arrangement himself. He glanced over at her to find her watching him. “What?”
She just smiled.
“Come on, you can talk now, can’t you? You just didn’t want to in front of Diana.”
Her smile dimmed at the sound of the other woman’s name. “Don’t . . . trust.”
“Hey, I know you don’t like her. I’m pretty sure she’s not very fond of you either, but she is my partner. We’ve worked together for nearly six months. It’s important to trust your partner.”
“I need to know why you don’t trust her.”
Red looked away for a moment, obviously thinking about the question. Finally she looked back at him and shook her head. “I don’t know.”
“Okay, but if you decide, will you tell me?”
She studied him for a moment, then nodded.
He drove steadily, stopping briefly for lunch, but getting back on the road as soon as possible. They were quiet, but comfortable with each other.
Even though he’d had the best night’s sleep in memory, he was ready to stop for the day a little after five. He found them a motel and checked in, having her wait in the car, keeping her exposure down.
He carried their things inside. She noted the two double beds, but made no comment. He found them a cafeteria near the motel and they had a healthier dinner.
When they returned to the room, she turned on the TV. The news was on and the lead item caught his attention. He moved over and turned the sound up. It was a report about a problem on I-84, blocking the highway for hours.
“It’s a good thing we didn’t go that way.”
She put her hand on his arm. “That’s where we would have been.”
“Yeah, I bet the back up - “
“That’s where we would have been. They knew we were coming.”
He just stared at her for a minute. “What are you saying?”
“It was a . . . a trap, for us.”
“How could it be? No one knew we were going that way, no one even knows that I have you.”
She just looked at him, not speaking.
“Diana? You think Diana would - “
“Don’t tell her where we are.”
“Red, you - “
“Just don’t tell her. Please.”
After a long moment, he nodded. “But I need to call her.”
He looked at the phone in the room, but decided not to use it. “I’ll use the pay phone next to the drink machine. Want to come?”
“No. I’ll get ready for bed.” She saw his eyes dilate slightly but managed not to smile. It was a nice compliment though.
He checked his pockets for change, then let himself out.
He called Diana’s home phone and she answered on the first ring. “Fox?”
“Yeah, it’s me.”
“Where are you? I was, was concerned.”
“Really? It’s not that late. We didn’t have any problems.”
There was a slight pause before she answered. “Uh, great. I heard on the news about the tie up on I-84 and I - “
“Tie up? Where?”
There was an even longer pause then. “It was on the news. The highway was closed, I thought maybe . . . “
“It must have been behind us. We didn’t see anything. I did have a heavy foot.”
“Oh. Well good. The sooner you get back to DC the better. Blevins is okay for now. He thinks you’re tying up loose ends. If you’re back in the office by Monday I don’t think he’ll even notice anything.”
“Good. I don’t want to be called in on the carpet first thing.”
“Is everything okay? Is she able to talk yet?”
“No, my name. That’s about it.”
“Well, I guess that’s not surprising. So she hasn’t remembered her name?”
“Not yet, but we’ve got a few days. I’m hoping tomorrow or the next day . . . “
“Well, I need to get off. We want to get an early start in the morning.”
“I probably won’t call tomorrow, unless something happens. I’ll check in on Friday.”
“You’re sure everything . . . “
“Yes. She slept most of the time. Too bad we don’t know if she can drive. I could’ve used the relief.”
“Be careful Fox. I don’t mind if you call tomorrow.”
“We’ll see. Goodnight.”
“Nite, Fox.” She didn’t want to hang up. It felt like he was already disconnected from her. It hurt and it scared her in a way she just couldn’t define.
He broke the connection. According to his watch, he hadn’t been on the phone long enough for a trace even if she had the equipment at her apartment. At that thought, he glanced at the door to their room. Red had put that train of thought into his head. Was it a good thing? He’d come closer to trusting Diana than anyone else he’d met since becoming an adult. Was that because they occasionally slept together? There was no commitment, just bodies in need. He felt guilty about that, but it seemed to be all she needed too.
Whatever, he was going to be on his guard now and that wasn’t a bad thing.
He returned to the room to find her in his t-shirt, watching TV from the bed closest to the bathroom.
“I need to stretch a little after all that driving. Do you mine if I go for a short run?”
“Be careful Mulder.”
Simple words, but they touched him. She was worried about him, she seemed to care.
He nodded. “Don’t open the door for anyone. I have a key. And don’t use the phone.”
She smiled then, “Who would I call?”
Right, he was all she had in the world right now. For some reason that felt good. He slipped into the bathroom to change to his running clothes, then returned to the larger room to stretch. He was aware she was watching him more than the TV.
“I won’t be long.” Then to his surprise, he leaned over and kissed her brow. Her eyes widened and he moved back quickly. “Sorry, I . . . “
“Hurry back.” Was all she said.
He left, chastising himself for such a boneheaded move.
He ran a couple of miles, but the pull of her was strong, so he headed back. She was still awake and smiled that beautiful smile when he let himself in the room. “I’m gonna shower. What’s on?”
“I’m watching the news, but I still don’t recognize anything.” She looked a little forlorn.
“Hey, don’t push yourself. It’ll come back.”
She sighed, but nodded.
After his shower, he returned wearing his t-shirt and boxers, but got into the other bed. Her lips parted in surprised and he looked away, then back at her. “I think this is better, Red.”
He looked away again and slipped under the covers. “We should get some sleep.” He turned off the light and rolled over, not facing her. She made no further protests, but he could actually feel her displeasure.
It took awhile for him, but she drifted off fairly quickly. Eventually her even breathing relaxed him and he too fell asleep.
The next thing he knew, he felt her cool hand against his brow. “Mulder wake up. It’s okay.”
The dream. Shit. He brushed his damp hair back from his brow. It must have been a bad one. He forced himself to sit up. God, he was soaked. He was surprised no one was pounding on the door.
“I’ll get you a towel.”
“That’s okay.” He stripped off the t-shirt and wiped his face.
“Do you want to talk about it?”
He shook his head. “I’m sorry I woke you.”
Her hand touched his cheek. He closed his eyes and leaned into it for a moment then straightened up. “I’ll, uh, I’ll . . . maybe I’ll watch a little TV. I’ll keep it low.”
“You need sleep, Mulder.”
He shook his head again. “I never sleep again after . . . “
“This is . . . common?”
He looked away. “I’ll try not to keep you awake.”
“Lie back.” She pushed him back toward his pillow, “and scoot over.”
He blinked at her, but did as she ordered. She stretched out beside him and cuddled into his chest. “Close your eyes Mulder.”
He looked at her incredulously for an instant, then thought, what the heck. He pulled her close and let his eyes shut. He’d humor her and then when she was asleep, he’d move over to the chair and read or something until morning.
Sounds outside woke him and his eyes opened. What time . . . it was light outside? Red squirmed against him and his body reacted immediately. He’d slept? He’d actually fallen back to sleep after the dream? He had never, even as a child . . . Her warm breath stirred his chest hair; right, he had taken off his t-shirt. Then he realized his hand was inside of the t-shirt she wore, caressing her back, feeling the silkiness of her skin.
Her leg moved, brushing his cock and he stifled a groan. He moved carefully away from her and rose from the bed. She didn’t wake, but moved to the warm spot he had left. He looked down at her, then moved on to the bathroom and took a shower, using the opportunity, and privacy, to relieve himself. Once in control, he dressed and returned to her side.
“Hey, Red, it’s time to wake up Sleepyhead.”
She stretched and the t-shirt pulled tight across her breasts. All the good that his time in the shower had done was gone. She opened her eyes to see the lust plainly visible in face and reached for him.
He backed away quickly. “We need to get moving. Go ahead and get dressed.”
“Mulder, how did you sleep?”
He looked at her then, deeply into her eyes, “Very well, thank you.” The words were simple, but she heard the depth of it. She nodded and rose from the bed.
They ate a quick breakfast and headed east. At lunchtime they pulled into a diner and stopped to stretch and eat. The TV was on and several patrons were watching what looked like a massive back up on a highway.
Mulder led her to a booth and when the waitress approached, asked her what was going on. “Oh, it’s bizarre. Yesterday there was this huge tie up on the I-84 up north. Well today, there’s another one. Several hundred miles east and it’s on the I-80 as well now. They’re talking about it on all the channels. It’s become a real joke. Coffee?”
They placed an order, but exchanged glances when they were alone. “Red, I want to exchange cars.”
She nodded. “How?”
“Let me think about it. Don’t worry. It could still be a coincidence.”
“Do you think it is?” She watched his eyes.
“I don’t see any reason not to take precautions.” He squeezed her hand. “Don’t worry. I’ll keep you safe.”
“I never doubted that.”
His lips parted in surprise, but before he could speak again, the waitress returned with their drinks.
When they were back in the car, he turned to her. “Let’s find an airport. We can ‘exchange’ rental cars there.”
She nodded and they drove off. They found the airport in Stockton, Kansas. Mulder drove around and saw the fleet of rental cars available. “Okay, I want you to take the bags and wait for me. After I fill up the car I’m going to switch. Then I’ll pick you up.”
“They won’t just exchange cars without asking for - “
He grinned at her, “No, they won’t. Don’t worry about it. Come on.”
When he picked her up about twenty minutes later, he was driving a navy sedan, dusty on the outside, but with a full tank of gas.
“Like it?” He grinned.
“Yeah. I never really liked white cars anyway. Let’s go.” She grinned. “Are you going to tell me how you did this?”
“No way, if I did I’d have to kill you.”
She gave him the eyebrow, but he chuckled for a moment, then sobered. “I do need to make a phone call.”
She looked up quickly, “Diana?”
“No. I don’t know what’s going on there. But because of what is happening, we need some more cash. I’ve got some friends that can help us out. I trust these guys.”
After a moment she nodded.
At the next filling station, he went in and bought a map. She waited in the car while he used the pay phone. It didn’t take long and she didn’t ask any questions. He was smiling when he returned and that was enough for her.
When they reached Topeka he found the Western Union office and picked up their cash as well as a note. When he got back in the car, he split the money with her, giving her $300 and keeping $200 for himself.
“What are you doing?”
“If we should get separated, or if anything . . . I want you to hold on to this and keep this address. These are the guys that sent the money. Go to them and stay there. They’ll look after you, find out who you are. In fact they’re already working on it.”
“I called them earlier. They’re checking missing people with your description. It would help if they had your fingerprints but we’ll do that when we get there.”
“What if they don’t - “
“You are not to worry about this. I shouldn’t have said anything before . . . how about we stop and get you a few more clothes. Something that you pick out. I mean, we’re rich now, right?”
That brought a smile back to her face. “Really?”
He laughed, “Really. I’d like to see what you’d pick out.”
“I don’t know my taste.” She sounded a little nervous then.
“Sure you do. Come on.” He put the car in gear and found the nearest shopping center.
It was an uneventful day and they put a lot of miles behind them. They kept the radio on, checking on the events up north when they could.
He looked up from the TV and his mouth fell open when she came out of the bathroom. He hadn’t seen her purchase that.
It was dark blue, sheer and short with those little straps, what did they call them, spaghetti straps, yeah. The panties matched and were cut high enough to make her legs look . . .
Oh god, he couldn’t . . . she looked so damn good. She moved toward him, their eyes locked and her arms went around him.
“Red, you - “
Her lips cut him off. When the hell had he bent over and tasted of her? Allowed his tongue to explore her, duel with her tongue? Her hand was inside his t-shirt and brushed against his nipple. The reaction was immediate. She smiled at him then and her free hand slipped under his waistband.