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. 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.
He grabbed her hand, pulling away. “No.”
“Mulder, I - “
“I want - “
She looked at him then, trying to read his eyes.
He looked away, “We . . . you don’t know who you are, we don’t know who you are. You could be married, have a, a family. I don’t want you to, to regret the time that we . . . I’m not going to take advantage of . . . “ He shook his head.
“It’s not taking advantage - “
“Red, no. Don’t make this any harder.”
Her eyebrow rose and color suffused in his face. “You know what I mean. When you get home and find out who you are, I don’t want you to have memories that would make you uncomfortable. This trip is to keep you safe, not to make things worse for you when you . . . “ He shrugged.
“You don’t want me?”
“Red, you know that’s not it. I doing my best to be a gentleman here and it’s the last thing I want to do. I can’t . . . Go on to bed. We still have a long way to go tomorrow.”
He turned her toward the bed closest to the bathroom.
“We should at least share the bed.”
“I don’t think - “
“We both sleep better when we’re holding each other.”
He couldn’t exactly refute that, he’d slept through the night, peacefully, since finding her Monday night. That was a world’s record for him, but . . . “Go change.”
She glanced down at her outfit, then glanced up at him blushing. “I’m sorry.”
“No. Don’t be sorry. For you to want . . . “ He closed his eyes, “just go change. Please.”
She nodded and retreated to the bathroom. She emerged wearing his gray t-shirt and still not quite able to face him.
“Red, please don’t be uncomfortable.”
“I threw myself - “
“And I wanted to catch you.”
“Maybe I’m a prostitute or - “
“Red. Stop. You could never be . . . You are a beautiful, desirable woman and any man that sees you is going to want you. You have to know that, just look in the mirror, but I’m not going to let your . . . appreciation - “
“It’s not appreciation Mulder.”
He nodded, but steeled himself against the pull of her. She lay down and pulled the sheet up over her. After a moment he climbed in on the other side. It felt awkward, stiff.
“Shh, come here.” He turned her so that he could spoon around her and held her until he felt her finally relax. He was doing the right thing. This woman wasn’t like Diana. She couldn’t be a casual sex partner, at least not for him. He didn’t even know her name and he felt like, like she was essential to him.
Stupid! Just because she trusted him and, and he had actually been able to discuss Samantha with her . . . she had no one else, at least not yet. He needed to keep that in mind.
It was comfortable here, with her in his arms. They’d only be on the road a couple more nights. He should rest now, while she was with him. He closed his eyes and pulled her closer.
She woke to hear him in the shower, but remembered the feel of his arms around her. She was on his side of the bed now. He did want her; he was keeping his distance for a reason. She understood that and tried to be grateful. Would it be uncomfortable today? No, she wouldn’t let it. He was important to her, not just as a savior, as a friend . . . and a man.
She smiled when the door opened and he emerged with the steam. “Morning.”
He relaxed visibly at her smile. “Good morning. I left you a little hot water.”
“Thanks.” She rose and slipped past him into the bath, letting her hand caress his shoulder lightly on the way in. “I won’t be long.”
He managed to smile then. “Take your time.”
He wanted to put miles behind them and get to DC no later than tomorrow afternoon, so they ate breakfast in the car. She could tell that he was still wary of how to be around her this morning, so she took his coffee from his hand and put it in the holder, then pried a finger from the steering wheel where he gripped it.
He glanced over at her, then took hold of her hand.
“We okay?” She asked.
“Talk to me. Tell me about you.”
“Well, we can’t exactly talk about me.”
“What do you want to know about me?”
“Everything. Your work, where you went to school, who you’re seeing . . . your relationship with Diana.”
“That won’t take long. I’m not seeing anyone. Diana and I work together. Sometimes we’ve . . . damn, it sounds so clinical, but we’ve been convenient for each other. In our work there’s not always a lot of time for the social.” He managed a sad smile, “Which explains my ineptitude around you.”
“I don’t find you at all inept. You . . . I understand what you did last night. I think a part of me even appreciates it, a little maybe. So, you and Diana . . . “
“We’re friends, partners. We’re working on a new project right now.” He grinned sheepishly, “We call it the X-Files. They’re old cases, some unsolved, mostly unexplained. It’s occult stuff, paranormal . . . weird. I got into it looking for Samantha. They buried the UFO reports down there too. They call me ‘Spooky’ Mulder because, well because I guess I am. Diana doesn’t seem to care and she believes like I do, maybe a little. At least she listens to my ideas and even comes up with some of her own occasionally.”
“But you didn’t tell her about Samantha.” It wasn’t a question.
“I . . . I don’t trust people very much. I didn’t as a kid, and I sure as hell don’t as an adult. Samantha is precious to me. I don’t share her.”
“You did with me.”
He managed a small smile, “yeah, I did.”
“When we were little, we’d go up to Rhode Island to our lake house. She was a pain, you know, little sister and all that, but she was cool sometimes too. Not that I ever told her that. I was different from the other kids, even back then, into science fiction and I have this memory that won’t turn off. She was used to it, where the other kids . . . I should have looked after her better.”
“Mulder, you were twelve. What more could you have done, realistically?”
He blinked at that. “I should have - “
“You believe she was taken by the same thing that took me.”
“The thing that moved you 25 miles the other night without you knowing it.”
He glanced over at her.
“Maybe you need to rethink what you could have done as a twelve year old against something like that.” She squeezed his hand. “Keep talking.”
So he did, talking about his family before Samantha was taken, and about his time in school. He’d gone to school in England and had a Ph.D. in psychology which gave her a great deal of insight into the man, though she didn’t interrupt, just letting him talk. It felt to her as though he hadn’t had anyone to talk to in a very long time.
They ate a quick lunch, eating up the miles today. It was late afternoon when they finally stopped for a little while. He pulled into a service station and filled the car. She went on inside and used the ladies room, then picked up a drink and some snacks for both of them.
Mulder joined her and paid, making sure that she was obscured from the camera by his body. She had become used to this, it was just another way that he protected her and, while she thought it unnecessary, she was moved that he cared that much.
He was returning his wallet to his pocket when they both heard the woman near the rest rooms. “Help me! He’s having a heart attack!”
She didn’t even look over at him before moving toward the sound. He was only a half step behind her. She knelt beside the stricken man, checking his pulse. “Call 911.” She spoke to Mulder though she didn’t turn. She tilted the man’s head back and blew twice into his mouth. Her hand moved down his chest then and began CPR.
“They’re on their way. What can I do?”
“Spell me. Every five compressions, give him air.”
He nodded and pinched the man’s nose. They worked together until the paramedic moved them aside. Mulder took her arm to help her to her feet, then they stepped out of the way. They watched as the medics shocked him, twice then she took a deep breath as they got a pulse.
The clerk, an older man touched her shoulder. “That’s Fred Graham. He’s a friend of mine. You kept him alive until they could get here. Thank you.”
She glanced over at Mulder. “You’re . . . you’re welcome.”
“Let’s get out of here.” Mulder whispered to her. She nodded and they moved back, away from the activity. As soon as possible, they slipped out the door and walked calmly to their car. With all of the traffic that had suddenly converged on the mini-mart, no one tried to stop them.
They were several miles down the road before he spoke. “How did you know what to do?”
She shook her head.
“But you were . . . you knew what you were doing. Can’t you remember anything?”
“No. I didn’t think, I just acted.”
Mulder nodded. He reached over and took her hand again. Her trembling decreased at his touch. They were quiet then, just being together. He wanted to ask what she was thinking now, but it could wait.
He began looking for a hotel earlier than he had originally thought. She was obviously still shaken by what had happened.
Finally he decided to try to get her to talk again, “What about dinner? What are you in the mood for?”
She shook her head. “I’m not hungry, whatever you want.”
“Red, you did nothing wrong. You saved a guy’s life, you should be proud of yourself.”
“That’s not . . . “ she shrugged again. “I’m just not hungry.”
“Okay, I’ll get us a room. If you change your mind, we can eat later.”
She just turned to look back out the window. He hadn’t seen her like this and wished he knew how to help her. He’d never been without his memories, no matter how much he might wish it. This was new territory for him.
She waited in the car as usual while he got their room. He observed her as he approached the car. She seemed a million miles away and he felt a stab of loneliness, then an urge to bring her back to him.
He tapped on the window then opened the door. “You okay?”
“Why do I doubt that?”
“Really, let’s just go on up.”
He took her hand, caressing the fingers lightly before squeezing them and leading her to the room.
“Mulder, I think I’d like a shower.”
“Sure, go ahead. I need to make some calls.”
She nodded and watched him for a moment. His brow furrowed, what? But before he could ask, she turned away and shut the door to the bathroom behind her.
“It’s me. What you got for me?”
“Hold on, let me switch phones.”
Mulder smiled grimly at that, but didn’t protest.
“Okay Big Guy, we’ve got six possibilities.” The little one, Frohike spoke over the speaker phone.
“That’s his estimate,” the blond, Langly piped up. “I’d say more like 300.”
Mulder shook his head, “My guess is that Frohike’s looked at more women than the rest of us put together. I’ll go with his estimate. You got names for me?”
“This would go a lot faster if we had some fingerprints.”
“Tomorrow. Give me the names, okay?”
“Sharon Brackett, Jennifer Slader, Debbie Brown, Dana Scully, Patricia Kaysom, and Jennifer Jackson.”
“Okay. You got pictures, locations?”
“Yeah. When should we expect you?”
“Depends on traffic tomorrow. Before dark.” He heard the water cut off. “Gotta go. Thanks guys.”
“No biggy, we’re better than those fascists at your company anyway.”
“I’ll remember that.” He hung up and looked toward the door, anxious to see her again already.
When the door did open, his lips parted in surprise. She was wearing only a towel.
She moved to him, stopping just within his reach. “I don’t know who I was, but I’m not sure how important that is. What I do know is that I want to make love with you. Whatever we find out tomorrow, or the next day, doesn’t matter right now. I want to be with you. I need to be with you. Mulder, people die every day. That man could have died right there in front of us, with all kinds of regrets on his mind. The only regret I could have is losing this time with you.” Her eyes were glistening with tears.
He wasn’t sure when his arms encircled her, but she was against him, held tightly to him. He’d managed to keep his distance last night, using logic, common sense - neither seemed to matter tonight.
She wanted him and it was no secret how much he wanted her.
Without another word he lifted her into his arms and carried her the few steps to the bed. The towel slid to the floor and he saw her body. He couldn’t look away.
“Just a second.” He ducked into the bathroom and returned instantly, then began removing his own clothes. Her breathing grew shallow at the sight of his chest, and stopped altogether when he removed his boxers, her eyes wide.
Then she reached for him. He joined her, burying his face in her breasts, breathing in the scent he had come to love over the past few days. He wanted to be here forever, give up his job and run away with her. He didn’t care who she was, hell, he didn’t care who he was now.
“Make me yours.” She whispered into his ear and he met her eyes, nodding. He was already hers.
He entered her slowly, carefully, giving her time to adjust. Her eyes were locked on his, penetrating much deeper than even he was capable physically.
Her eyes never left his until his body pushed her over the edge. Watching her come in his arms was enough to push him over as well and he followed her willingly, eagerly.
He held her as she came back to herself and her breathing tried to return to normal. When she was no longer shuddering, he rose on wobbling legs. She whimpered, but he soothed her. “Be right back, Red.”
He stumbled to the bathroom, flushed the condom and washed up a little, then took a warm cloth back out to her and gently cleaned her. She pulled him back down next to her and he collapsed pulling her to him.
He stirred, stretching slightly, moving abused muscles. A smile came to him before even opening his eyes. Three times. They’d made love three times during the night. He had enough ego to be damned pleased, even though he knew it was her hands on his body that had made that last time possible.
He reached for her, opening his eyes slowly. Maybe one more . . . she wasn’t in the bed. He usually woke first, but with last night’s exercise . . . he glanced toward the bathroom, but the door was open and the light was off.
He was up then, “Red?” It wasn’t like there was anyplace to hide in the room, she . . . she wasn’t there. He felt his heart rate rise. She wouldn’t leave, not on her own. He’d heard nothing, dead to the world after . . . Was anything missing? She hadn’t been taken; there had been no bright light. He wouldn’t have slept through - the door opening caused him to turn.
She walked in balancing coffee and a small plate of pastry. The look on his face caused her smile to evaporate and she searched for any flat surface to put down the food.
“Mul - “ Then he had her crushed against him.
After a long moment, she looked up at him and he loosened his hold. “Mulder, what?”
“You were gone.” Simple words, but the flat tone said it all. He’d been terrified.
“Mulder I’m sorry. I, I wanted to get you some coffee. I didn’t think - “
He shook his head, lowering himself heavily to the foot of the bed. Then he remembered he was nude. He glanced around, but she picked up his boxers and handed them to him.
“Can you forgive me?”
“You didn’t do anything wrong. I, I just . . . “ He shook his head, and slipped them on.
She sat beside him, “Are you okay?”
“Sure. I was just caught off guard with you not being here. It was stupid.”
“It wasn’t stupid. You care about me.” He glanced up quickly. “I knew you did, I mean after last night, but - “
He rose from the bed, “I need a shower. We should get on the road.”
“Mulder - “
“I’m okay.” He turned from her and closed the bathroom door behind him.
She hadn’t thought, she truly hadn’t realized what leaving without telling him would do. She should have. She knew how he felt about his sister, she was the only one who knew, but she hadn’t processed it. She needed to make this up to him.
She heard the water cut on and rose to her feet. She shed her clothes and quietly entered the bathroom. Then she heard it, he was crying. Her heart melted and she moved quickly to the shower.
She stepped in and he jerked upright and away from her. “It’s okay.” She wrapped her arms around him.
“It’s not okay. You’re not mine and now I . . . “ He buried his face in her hair.
“I am yours. We don’t know what we’re going to find, but I am yours. I’ll always be yours.”
“But you aren’t. Red, you aren’t.” His next words were cut off by her lips on his.
“We’ll find out together, Mulder.