She stood in line waiting to board. It had been tearful at the house. Who knew when she’d see her brothers and their families again, and this particular trip was already sapping her strength. Thank goodness she’d slept last night. That thought brought color to her cheeks.
“Why are you blushing?” a sexy and familiar voice whispered in her ear.
Her head jerked up to see Mulder leaning over her.
“What, what are you doing here?”
He shrugged. “I haven’t been to San Francisco in years. I thought I’d like to see it again.” His face was serious, not a hint of a smile. “Do you mind?”
The tears that formed in her eyes embarrassed her and she looked down.
“Scully, if you don’t - “
“Thank you,” she barely breathed, and he took her hand, relief leaving him temporarily speechless.
On the plane, he slipped their bags and the urn containing Missy’s ashes into the overhead compartment, then took his seat beside her. She had regained her composure by then. “How did you do this?”
“Being an FBI agent has some perks, and if they think I need to get somewhere for an investigation . . . “ He grinned.
She shook her head, but she was smiling for the first time since she’d left her apartment.
“Do you have reservations?” he asked as she buckled her seatbelt.
“Yes, there’s a Holiday Inn near the Golden Gate.”
“Are you familiar with the city at all?”
“No,” she responded, shaking her head. “I figured I could get a cab to the beach.”
“Is that what you want to do?”
She shook her head again. “I’m really glad you’re with me.”
He smiled then. “I’ve been here a couple of times. There’s a nice place, not the most expensive, but classy, the Adante near Union Square. I know this isn’t a pleasure trip, but I want you to have some good memories of the city. Your sister did, if she wanted to be there. I’d like you to see some of what she saw.”
Tears formed in her eyes. “I’d like that too. Think we could get in to this place?”
“We’re already in,” he said softly.
“How many rooms?”
“Uh, well, one. I thought sleeping would be, uh, a good idea while we were out of town.”
“Sleeping.” Her eyebrow was rising slightly.
“I, uh, you trust me, don’t you?”
“Yes. I trust you.” She lay her head on his shoulder and his arm went around her.
He checked them in and let the bellhop lead them to their room. The king sized bed caught her eye, but she didn’t mention it. Once they were alone he approached her. She was looking out the window at the activity below. “This is your trip, Scully. What do you want to do?”
“I’m going to feel unfinished until I . . . Are you starving?”
“No. Why don’t we head out to the ocean? See what feels right.”
She gave him a small grateful smile and picked up the urn. He drove them to the ocean and they walked out to the end of a pier. There was no fog and he pointed out the constellations to her.
“Mulder, the tide’s going out.” He nodded. “I want to do this now so she can be free.”
“That’s a good idea.” The wind was pushing out to sea as well. “Do you want to be alone?”
He stood quietly as she opened the container. She bowed her head and murmured something he couldn’t hear. Then she tilted the urn, letting the breeze catch the ashes and take them away toward the horizon. It didn’t take long. When the container was empty, Scully fit the lid back on and finally turned to look up at him.
“Thank you,” she said softly.
He shook his head slightly. “Thank you for letting me be here.”
She took his hand and allowed him to take the empty container. They walked slowly back to the car. He seated her and moved around the car to let himself in.
“You know, I have an appetite for the first time in days,” she said with just a note of wonder.
“Then we should take care of that.”
He drove without hesitation to a smallish restaurant not far from the pier. “The last time I was here, they had the best seafood I’d ever had. Want to try it?”
She nodded and took his hand when he helped her from the car.
She was under the covers when he came out of the bathroom. They’d slept in the same bed several times now, but instead of getting easier it seemed to be getting harder each time. No pun intended, right?
Okay, she shouldn’t be thinking these thoughts; that’s not why she’d come to San Francisco. Of course she’d had no idea that she would have company on this trip. He’d been a perfect gentleman since the first moment she’d seen him. She knew she had no worries about . . .
He got under the covers, wearing his boxers and a t-shirt again. He rolled toward her. “Comfy?”
“Um hum.” She wouldn’t meet his eyes.
“Scully? Listen if this is making you uncom - “
“No.” She looked up then. “I’m very glad you’re here, but I feel like I’m taking advantage of you.”
“Great minds, Scully. I’m feeling the same way. But I wanted to come here with you; I didn’t want you to be alone. I didn’t want to be alone.”
She met his eyes, and smiled. "You know we are adults. I mean Missy would think we were being insane. I am attracted to you, that's no secret and I'm fairly confident that you're - "
"Be completely confident. But that's not why I'm here. I have no intention of rushing you. I know that's not what this trip is about."
"True. But you said I should have some good memories of San Francisco to take home with me." She watched his eyes widen as her leg pressed against him. Well, that was pretty confidence building. "I know Missy would approve. In fact, she'd scold me for not making a move quicker."
"I think I like this sister of yours." He carefully didn't use any past tense and she smiled again.
She let her hand caress his cheek, noting he had shaved again. Considerate too. She moved closer and let her lips nip at his. He met her with enthusiasm and in a very short time she realized that she was covered with him like a blanket and it felt good.
"Am I crushing you?" he whispered in her ear as he sucked slowly on her lobe.
"You feel just right."
His smile grew and he ducked his head to continue exploring her. It had been a while since a man had investigated her assets to this extent, but she found she was excited about it rather than embarrassed. Whatever he was doing, it certainly felt right.
Then to her disappointment, he pulled away from her. "Scully, I . . . I don't have any protection."
"Like I said, I didn't want to rush anything."
"It's a good thing I'm a doctor." She winked at him and rose from the bed. Barefoot, she padded over to her purse and pulled out a short string of condoms. She looked back to see a wide grin on his face.
What the hell, she touched the hem on her nightgown and saw his breathing change and his eyes dilate. As she'd said, they were adults. She could almost hear Missy urging her on.
She let the nightgown drift over the chair and she returned to the bed. His hand reached for her and she thought she heard a slight moan when she knelt on the bed over him.
She woke to find him entwined around her. It felt good, damn good. She felt at peace for the first time since . . .
She eased away from him and he followed. “Umm, no.”
“I’ll be right back.” She smiled.
He made a grumbling noise but allowed her to leave the bed. She moved toward the bathroom. She brushed her teeth before returning and slipping back into the bed.
“Not fair.” He nuzzled her neck.
“What’s not fair?”
“You brushed your teeth. Now I have to get up.”
“I’m not complaining.” She kissed him.
“Nope, not enough. Keep my side of the bed warm.” He padded into the bathroom. She grinned at the sight of his naked butt disappearing into the bathroom.
He returned and moved her body aside with his own. “Do you know what time it is?”
She shook her head. “The sun’s up.”
“Way up. We’ve missed the breakfast downstairs.”
“Somehow I don’t feel terrible about that.” She let her hand brush through the hair on his chest.
“Are you saying that there’s something you’d rather do than eat breakfast?”
“Well, a couple of things come to mind.”
The sun was nearly straight up when they finally left the room. They only had the one day, but Mulder had a short list of places she had to see. He actually had a list, written down.
“I know we don’t have time for all of this, so pick a couple and we’ll save the others for next time.”
Next time, she smiled at that. “Okay, what’s the list?” She reached for it. “Okay, I’ve heard of the Golden Gate Bridge and the cable cars, and even the wax museum, but the Chinatown Ghost Walking Tour and the Winchester Mystery House?”
He grinned then. “Those last two are just on my wish list. We don’t have to - “
“I don’t know; they kind of intrigue me.”
“Don’t lead me on, woman.”
“Come on, we can see the Golden Gate any time.”
He carried her suitcase to the door of her apartment and followed her inside. He was watching her for any reaction and she knew it. She stopped and took a deep breath, then turned to look at him.
She nodded. “Yes. But not so wonderful that I might not need some company.”
His lips twitched then. “So I’m still needed.”
“Needed, yes, that sounds right.”
He pulled her against him and gave her little kiss. “Sounds right to me too. I’ll have to set the alarm. I have to run by my place for a quick shower and clothes.”
“Okay,” she agreed, and took her suitcase toward her bedroom, “And if you wanted to keep a few things here, so you don’t have to get up early . . . “
His grin widened. “You know that would be a smart idea. And I’m sure we could work out a reciprocal agreement for my apartment, should the opportunity arise.”
She nodded, trying to keep a straight face.
He was looming over her again, and pulled her against him. “I’d like for the opportunity to arise.”
“I think it already is.” She pressed herself even closer.
“And don’t you forget it. Now I have to unpack and let Mom know I’m home.”
“We don’t want the phone to ring when we’re busy, do we?” she whispered in his ear.
“You’re a very wise woman.” His hands were making her forget what they’d been talking about. When he stepped away, he kept a hand at her waist to help her balance. “Make your phone call.”
She nodded, not sure she could speak.
He let himself into his apartment. They still didn’t have the SOB. They might be closer, but he was physically sick from being inside the pervert’s head. He wanted to lose himself in Scully’s arms, but how could he be around her now? He wasn’t even fit company for himself.
He trudged to his phone. She wouldn’t be home from work yet. He could leave a message. When the beep sounded, he spoke, trying to sound better than he was. “I’m home, Scully. Just got in. I’m going to clean up and I’ll give you a call tomorrow. Night.”
He hung up and closed his eyes, then forced himself into the shower. Two or three hours should do it.
When he was dressed again, in his oldest navy sweats and a gray t-shirt, he flopped down on the couch. He flicked on the TV, in no mood to eat.
He sat in a stupor, unaware when the program in front of him changed. The knock on his door finally roused him. He had no idea how long it had been going on before it got his attention. He rose from the couch, his body stiff, annoyed by the continued knocking.
He jerked the door open, ready to blast the intruder when he saw her standing there.
“I need to ask you a question.” She looked up at him. He could only blink. “Do you want to be alone, or do you think I don’t want to be with you?”
Without hesitation his arm went around her waist, pulling her to him and crushing her lips with his own. She was smiling when he let her catch her breath. He reached for the door to close it, but she stepped away.
“Just a minute.” She stepped out into the hall.
“Wha - “
She handed him a grocery size brown bag. “I brought dinner.” In her other hand was a small brown bag.
“What’s that one?” He was smiling.
“This? I didn’t know if I’d need a change of clothes.”
His eyes widened and he did push the door closed this time. “By all means, I want you to be comfortable.”
She dished up the meal, despite his protests that she shouldn't wait on him; he ate with more appetite than he'd had since he'd left her.
When they were finished and she'd put away the leftovers, she turned and leaned against the refrigerator. "You didn't answer my question."
"Do you want to be alone?"
He pulled her to him again, nuzzling her neck. "Never."
"Honestly? I mean that call didn’t sound like you. I did just invite myself over and kind of force my way in."
"It was exactly what I needed. I just didn't know it."
She smiled, and pressed her lips against his shoulder.
She helped him make the bed the next morning. He ribbed her about the meticulous hospital corners that they had completely undone with their lovemaking the night before.
His mood had obviously improved, but she was aware that they hadn't really discussed that message he had left. She could wait, but it was something they needed to explore.
They started for the door, but he stopped suddenly. "I need to get something, just a sec - ". And he headed back for the bedroom. She heard a drawer open and close, then he returned.
"What did you forget? I saw you put on the boxers." She winked at him.
Instead of answering he kissed the tip of her nose. "Come on, we'll be late."
He was out of town again, but due back tomorrow night. She’d talked to him a couple of times from the field. He was profiling, but the calls seemed to lighten his mood. She had switched shifts so that she could pick him up from the airport.
Also there were some perks to working the 'graveyard' shift in the morgue. There were usually fewer interruptions, and the tech had a great sense of humor.
It was nearly 4 a.m. when she stepped away from the body to allow Lennie to remove the gurney. Pain flashed through her left leg and she had to grab hold of the table to remain upright.
"Dr. Scully? You okay?"
The pain was already dissipating. She looked down to see if she had cut herself with one of the instruments by accident. There was nothing. "I'm . . . I'm fine. Just a muscle cramp I guess.” She shook it off, unable to come up with any other explanation. “Anyone else?"
“Nope. You were in fine form slicing and dicing tonight.” Lennie grinned at her. “I’ve got this. Go ahead and get dressed.”
“Thanks.” She let herself into the locker room and took a quick shower. She’d take a more leisurely bath before Mulder came in. She could only hope he hadn’t sunk too far in, or that they had caught the monster.
She was running a comb through her hair when her new cell phone rang. She grabbed it, nervous suddenly. Who would call before six in the morning? “Hello?”
“Yes, I’m trying to locate a Dr. Dana Scully.”
“This is Dr. Scully.”
“I’m Walter Skinner. I’m an Assistant Director at the FBI. Dr. Scully, I apologize for calling so early. Are you a friend of Fox Mulder?”
She had caught hold of the locker at his introduction. Now she lowered herself onto a bench. “Is he all right?”
“He was injured earlier this morning, during an arrest. He’s been transported to a hospital and he’s in surgery.”
“Medical College in Philadelphia on Henry Avenue.”
“What’s his condition?” She was yanking on her coat and checking her pockets for keys.
“The, uh, the bullet nicked an artery in his thigh.”
She closed her eyes, absorbing that. “I’ll be there on the next shuttle. Mr. Skinner?”
“How did you know to call me?”
“You’re listed as next of kin in his records.”
Her mouth dropped open, but there wasn’t time for that. Not now. “Thank you.” She broke the connection and raced to find Lennie.
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Mulder, Scully, the Lone Gunman and Skinner all belong to Chris Carter, 10-13 and Fox. No infringement intended.