She lay very still, listening. She didn't know what had woken her; there was no sound, no movement in her room. Maybe a truck or a headlight had gone by.
She burrowed back under the covers, but found she was awake now, completely conscious, waiting, listening.
Had Mulder made a noise? Had a nightmare? Well, she was truly awake now, maybe she should check. She rose from the bed and belted her robe around her. She approached the connecting door and after a moment's hesitation opened it. His side was closed as well. She leaned closer to listen, but could hear no sound from his room.
She should go back to bed. If he was asleep, she didn't want to disturb him. So why did she have her hand on the knob? She just needed to check, see him. He didn't have to know. She turned it and silently let herself into his room. She'd known it wouldn't be locked. She'd used this door to get into her room after dinner, and . . . and Mulder wouldn't lock her out. She'd had a nice long soak to get rid of the frustrations of her day and then gone to bed. Case over, another flight to DC in the morning.
It was still a little strange walking into his motel room like this. Well, yes she'd done that for years, but as his partner. Now, now there were other connotations that . . . she smiled slightly to herself. Okay, she wasn't completely comfortable about everything. As well as she knew him, she wasn't totally confident about . . . everything. It was stupid, but part of her wanted to talk to her mother of all people about this new part of their relationship. How weird was that?
Her eyes scanned the bed, but it was empty. Had she heard him leave? Was that what had disturbed her sleep?
Then she spotted him, in the flickering light of the muted television. He was in the uncomfortable chair furnished by the motel, his feet propped on the end of the bed.
He was watching her silently.
"Mulder? Are you okay?" She sat at the foot of the second double bed, concerned.
He continued to look at her in silence. Was he awake? Or was this some new sort of nightmare? "Mulder?"
"Why are you there?"
She jumped slightly as he spoke finally.
"Why are you sitting there, on that bed?"
"I don't understand the question, Mulder. I just sat down." She shrugged.
"As far away from me as you could get."
"I wasn't . . . Mulder, what's wrong?"
"Are you sorry we became lovers, Scully?" His voice was low, pained somehow.
"Sorry? No, why, why do you ask me that?"
"Look how far away you are."
"We're on a case, Mulder. We agreed - "
"The case is over, all turned in with reports and signatures."
"Mulder," she fidgeted a little, "we're still out here, I mean . . ." She didn't know what she meant exactly. This wasn't a conversation she'd anticipated. To cover her confusion she rose, "Well, if you're okay, I'm going back to my room."
Before she'd taken three steps he was beside her. She took a step back, slightly uneasy. When she did, his hands grasped her upper arms.
"Are you sorry, Scully, or just ashamed? Embarrassed to be fucking 'Spooky' Mulder."
She blinked at that. "Is that what we're doing? Fucking? I thought - "
"It must be. You certainly don't want anyone to know. I'm a deep, dark secret. You slip into my apartment, then leave so you can get to work on time. Head home and wash me off of you so you're presentable again."
"Mulder, no. It's - "
"It's what, Scully? Explain it to me."
"Mulder, please. We agreed."
"Agreed to what? A quickie every other Thursday if you're not busy?"
She was watching him now, there was more pain than anger in his eyes. She had never meant to hurt him. She had thought their arrangement was to keep them safe. It hadn't crossed her mind that he thought she was keeping a distance between them. She thought he understood there was no distance anymore.
"Mulder, no, I . . . I thought this was what you wanted - discretion."
"Discretion? Sure, why would I want the world to know we're together, that I love you - "
"Mulder." Her quiet voice stopped him. "I'd have no problem announcing it over the intercom at the Bureau if you want that. It might cause some problems, but . . . "
He blinked at those words, and released her arms. His fingers had wrinkled the fabric of her robe and probably made marks on her flesh.
"You're not avoiding me?"
"Well, yes I guess I am, a little. If I shoved you down on the detective's desk and ripped your zipper open, there'd be talk." His face rapidly went through about a hundred expressions at those words. "Just because I don't do it doesn't mean I don't think about it, or want to do it."
She hadn't seen this. He wasn't confident, Mulder didn't realize . . . "Mulder, tell me - what woman wouldn't be thrilled to be with you?" Her hand caressed his upper arms, her fingers slipping under the sleeves of his t-shirt to touch his skin.
He swallowed, "I can think of a few."
"Then they're idiots and don't know what they're missing."
"Some of them do . . . Diana, Phoebe."
"Did I say idiots? More like damn fools and I'm glad they are."
"What?" But his eyes were dilating as her fingers lightly touched him.
"If either of them had the sense God gave a slug, they'd never have let you go. So I'm pleased that they're morons."
He finally smiled a little at that, though his eyes were still uncertain.
She sighed a little, "I guess I have been rigid - always at your place, so I could hurry home. Rules about what else was going on, never on a case, no 'dates'. It's the 'ice queen', Mulder. I need to feel like I have some control."
"You've always controlled me."
She gave an amused huff, "that was controlled? I'm in big trouble, aren't I?"
"Scully, look at me - are you pushing me away? Are you sorry?"
She looked deep into his eyes then. "No and never. I love you. It's safe to say that now. Maybe, maybe I didn't want anyone to know because I was afraid if we shared this, it would be less special. But I'd love to tell my Mom."
His lips parted then, in surprise and she moved in, her lips meeting his, her tongue invading his mouth, possessing it.
She felt his arms close around her. "Mulder, why don't you come to my place?" She whispered in his ear.
"That sounded like a yes." She moved away from him, taking his hand and leading him to her side of the connecting doors.
She needed to take better care of this naive, fragile male of hers, and there was no time like the present to start.