Time Off - Complete
Part 1 - Mulder's POV
He let himself into his apartment and tossed his briefcase on the table. He headed directly for his bedroom and lost the tie and the suit coat. It was Friday and he had a long weekend coming up. He could relax and do anything he wanted. Scully wouldn’t be back in the office until Wednesday. She’d wanted to ‘get away’, so he had taken a couple of days himself. There was stuff he should do around here. Yeah, or he could just kick back and relax.
After changing into jeans and a t-shirt, he checked his refrigerator. The Chinese had a nice green carpet growing on it and the pizza was dried out. Yes, if he would cover it and not just throw the box into the frig it would last longer, thank you very much Dr. Scully.
What the hell, he didn’t have to stay here and eat. He could go anywhere, do anything. There was a new bar and grill not all that far away that he had thought about trying. Carpe Diem, right?
He nearly closed the refrigerator door with the food still inside, but before it could close completely he heard Scully’s voice in his head. He reached in and drew out the offending food, trashing it. Come to think of it, he needed to empty all the trashcans. Okay, then he would go get something to eat.
His chores finally completed, he pulled out his leather jacket and turned toward the door. He hadn’t taken two steps when the phone rang. It might be Scully. He grabbed the receiver. “Hello?”
“Mulder, we downloaded some really cool stuff. Want to come over and help us check it out?” Frohike’s voice sounded over the line.
“Not tonight. I’m on my way out.”
“Ahh, going to spend time with the luscious Agent Scully?”
“She’s out of town.”
“Out of town? What are you going to do?”
“Hey, my existence doesn’t hinge on Scully being here.”
“Yeah, right.” The scorn was deep.
“I’m hanging up. Talk to you later.” He headed out and drove over to check out the new bar he’d thought of. He hadn’t remembered it being quite so close to Scully’s place.
He was a little early for the evening crowd; happy hour was just thinning out, which was fine with him. He ordered a burger, no onions; hell, he might get lucky, and a beer. The burger didn’t last long; he’d have to come here again. He nursed his beer as the crowd began to arrive. It seemed to be kind of a yuppie place. Happy hour must have been pretty popular.
He was mildly surprised when a woman sat next to him at the bar. “I haven’t seen you here before.”
“Uh, first time.”
“Don’t suppose you have a friend?” She looked past him and he realized a second woman had taken up residence on his other side.
“Sorry, not tonight.”
“Too bad. Of course, you could hang out with both of us.”
“Well, that might be interesting.” What was he supposed to say? No woman had come on to him like this is a damn long time.
“Do you work around here?”
“Uh, no. I just spotted this place and thought I’d try it.”
“So where do you work?” She was persistent anyway.
“Uh, the FBI.” In places like this that always sounded like a line to him, even though, in his case, it happened to be true.
“The Bureau? Are you kidding?”
“No.” He pulled his ID from his pocket.
“Fox? Your name is Fox?”
He shrugged, “What about your name?”
She smiled and leaned forward to expose a little more cleavage, “Caitlin, and this is Suzi.”
They talked for a while, then Suzi found someone else and moved off. Caitlin became even friendlier. Mulder finished his first beer and ordered a second, along with another Manhattan for her.
He was beginning to wonder which drink this was for her, but she was an adult. She just seemed to be drinking a little too fast as far as he was concerned. He took hold of her hand as she caressed his chest. “I think you need to slow down a little, Caitlin.”
“Come on Fox. Why slow down?”
“I think you’ve had a little too much to drink.”
“What’s the problem? You married or something?” Her voice was slightly slurred now.
The question caught him off guard and that must have shown on his face.
“You are. You're married.” She hissed at him. She’d had more to drink than he’d realized.
“No. No, I’m not.”
“I saw it. I saw it in your eyes. Is this how you get your kicks?” Her voice was beginning to rise.
“Caitlin, look I’m sorry. You’re getting upset for no - “
“You sure are. You’re a sorry son of a bitch. I’m not falling for that again. I feel sorry for your wife.”
‘Sorry son of a bitch’, exactly what Bill had called him. Maybe it was becoming more obvious with age.
“I am not . . . nevermind. I’m sorry I . . . look it was nice meeting you, and I’m sorry I upset you.” He stood then, leaving half of his second beer, and made his way through the couples to the door.
He was sober. One and half beers with the burger, and then Caitlin’s accusation had eliminated all alcohol from his system. He trudged to his car. No wonder he never went out. He was lousy at it. Here an attractive woman had thrown herself at him and he had blown it, blown it completely. Why the hell had she thought he was married? He’d just been trying to go a little slower. What had she seen? He shook it off, she had just been drunk.
The fact that he drove by Scully’s apartment and glanced at the darkened windows was lost on him. His mood did not improve. He let himself into his apartment still kicking himself. He’d just wanted to slow things down. If he’d taken her up on it, he’d probably have been arrested when she sobered up. Besides, he didn’t like aggressive women.
Wait a minute! Yes he did. Or he used to. He’d always thoroughly enjoyed a female instigated roll in the hay. And if he never saw them again, it wasn’t a big deal. When . . .
It was Friday night, he’d had a burger and a couple of beers, been hit on by a truly horney woman and he was home by 8:30. He was married. Well and truly married, without even the semi-annual conjugal visit. He sank onto the couch. Damn.
Should he go back out and try to find Caitlin? Instead he felt around in the couch for the remote. Just as he found it, the phone rang.
“Hello.” He wasn’t even paying attention, expecting Frohike’s voice.
“Hi. I wasn’t sure you’d be home.”
Scully? “Uh, yeah. I had a burger and a beer, but that didn’t take long.”
“Where did you go?”
“New place, over on King.” He cringed. He shouldn’t have said that. It was just a couple of blocks from her place.
“I’ve seen it. Why were you over there?”
“Just wanted to try the place out. I didn’t expect to hear from you tonight.” He quickly changed the subject.
“Oh, well . . . I . . .”
“No talking dolls?”
There was silence for a moment and he winced, had he gone too far?
Then she chuckled, “No, no talking dolls.”
“So, what are you going to do tomorrow?”
“I don’t know, sleep late, maybe check out the antique shops here.”
“I didn’t know you liked antiques.”
“Well mostly family antiques for me, but I think some of them are really beautiful.”
Family antiques. His father’s house was full of them. And she was the only family he had. He should take her up there, see if there was anything she liked.
“What about you?” Her voice brought him back to the present.
He stretched, getting comfortable on the couch. “Well, I can’t get out of doing my laundry much longer, my partner is going to get offended. And I might get some groceries. There’s a game on tomorrow afternoon I guess I’ll watch.”
“Well there aren’t many talking dolls around here either. I could go into the office and try to dig something up.”
“That’s okay.” They were quiet for a minute. “Strange, isn’t it?
“That I took this weekend to get away, and instead I’m . . . “
”Talking to me?”
“I’m glad you called.”
“I’m not bothering you?”
“I can always pause a video.” He looked over at the blank screen.
He laughed then, “Don’t suppose you’d think about coming back early?”
“Not if you’re going looking for talking dolls.”
“I won’t even go to the office, Scully, I swear.”
“I guess I could think about it. Tell me what else you did after I left.”
He settled back, reclining on the couch and they talked.
He heard her stifle a yawn. “Getting sleepy or am I boring you?”
“Well, I’m not bored.” He could visualize that smile. “I should let you go. That tape will be ruined if it’s still on pause.”
“Guess I’ll have to toss it. You should go on to bed.”
“Umm, I think I’ll take a bubble bath first.”
“Oh.” That brought up a completely different visualization.
“Listen, Mulder . . . thanks for spending the evening with me.”
“No problem. Why don’t you call me again tomorrow night, let me know how your day went.”
“You don’t mind?”
“It has been nice.”
“What are you wearing?”
She laughed out loud. “That’s it, ruin it Mulder. Gotta go, I’ll talk to you tomorrow.”
“Yeah?” She waited, what kind of comment was she going to get now?
“I miss you.” The phone was disconnected before she could get her breath and respond. She looked at it for a long time before getting up from the bed and moving toward the bath.
He stretched and rose from the couch, moving toward his bedroom. He was nice and relaxed now. He would be able to sleep. Yeah, he was married, now he just needed to figure out how to make her realize it too. Then he wouldn’t have to spend any more time off without her.
Part 2 - Scully's POV
Scully stared at the receiver for a moment, then placed it back in the cradle with a soft smile. She rose from her bed and moved to the bath. She ran her tub and sank into the fragrant bubbles.
That was not exactly how she had planned her evening, talking to Mulder for a couple of hours. They didn’t talk like that when they were together.
“I miss you.” That remark had caught her off guard. Mulder rarely said things like that. Now the comment about what she was wearing, that was familiar. He had actually seemed interested in what she was doing, without some paranormal phenomena. Talking dolls indeed.
When the water cooled, she rose, showered off and slipped into a gown. She hadn’t brought her normal pajamas on this trip. Staying in a bed and breakfast made her feel pampered and she didn’t need the button-down, professional look that she adopted when out of town with Mulder.
The gown felt sensuous against her body, as did the sheets. Not many of the motels that they stayed in used 300 count Egyptian cotton sheets. This trip was a gift to herself, time off. So why was she contemplating going back to DC early? Mulder, that’s why. But getting back into town, would that be a mistake? Would he immediately launch them into another X-File? They couldn’t seem to spend time together otherwise.
Wait, that wasn’t exactly true. Lately they had spent some off duty time together. He’d brought a movie over to her place a couple of times, and they had pizza at his place fairly often now even when there wasn’t a definite case to discuss.
She flashed on her evening with Eddie Van Blundht. That had been an eye opener for her. She and Mulder didn’t have ‘talks’, not then. For a long time after that, he had kept his distance. She would never forget the look on his face when he had broken down her door. The fact that he had raced to save her had been lost on her for too long. Her mortification at being found in such a position by the very person she thought she was about to kiss so strong.
It had taken her awhile to realize that he was as embarrassed about the situation as she was. They hadn’t really discussed it, but she knew him better now. He really did consider himself a loser with women.
She stretched in the sheets, the man obviously didn’t look in the mirror often enough. Again she smiled, well look at those ties, of course he didn’t. She fell asleep with the smile on her face.
The next morning she allowed herself to sleep late, but it was a beautiful fall morning and the sun coming through her window was inviting. She dressed and ate a light breakfast in the dining room, then using the map she had printed from the internet, began her walking tour and antique shopping. She had no intention of buying anything specific; it was just something to do at a leisurely pace.
She'd obviously spent too much time with Mulder rather than not enough. Going through these beautifully preserved older buildings, she found herself wondering if any of them had stories of haunts. She shook her head, obviously too much time.
But it would have been a more pleasant trip with someone. Why hadn't it occurred to her to see if someone could come along? A little honesty here, Dana. She hadn't seen any of her friends in so long they probably didn't remember her. Besides, the logistics would be difficult between husbands, kids, soccer games . . .
She could have checked to see if Mom was available, but that would lead to the inevitable 'why don't you get out with your friends more?' conversation.
Hell, the truth was she didn't mind not seeing them most of the time. The infrequent conversations had less and less to do with her life and interests as time had passed. She had no regrets about not setting up a practice, and talk of family, kids, even divorce didn't hold her attention.
Maybe if Emily had lived and she'd gotten custody . . . No, don't go there. It was a beautiful day and she was free to enjoy it as she wished. She didn't have to finish the walking tour, she could go shopping for the rest of the day, indulge herself in a new suit, or some non-work, sexy shoes.
She didn't even have to stay here. She could drive off in any direction and stop when she saw something interesting. She was startled to realize the image of Mulder was in her mind, wearing that new gray suit. He'd gotten the pants cut a little higher this time and
- Jesus, Dana! She blushed realizing just how closely she had observed him in those slacks.
Maybe she just needed to get laid. Not very likely. Besides, the last time she'd even considered a date with someone she met out of town, she'd nearly been thrown into a furnace. She wasn't a good judge of character when it came to men, hadn't Ed Jerse put the final nail in that?
She looked around and spotted a tea shop. Lunch. That should get her mind off of Mulder's slacks. She opened the door and couldn't quite suppress a smile. Mulder would hate this place - chintz on the chairs, hanging ferns, delicate furniture with real china. Places like this made her normally graceful partner into a blundering moose. His long arms and legs seemed to grow to ungainly proportions and move on their own.
"Will someone be joining you?"
The cool voice startled her back to the present. "No, thank you. I'm alone."
"Of course. Please follow me." The older woman glided off and Dana followed. Shit, the woman reminded her of Mrs. Mulder, aristocratic and aloof. Her appetite dropped.
She was seated at a lovely small table and presented with the short menu. There were live flowers on the table and as she looked around, she realized she wasn't the only woman sitting alone. There was definitely a higher percentage of women. In fact, she saw only two men and both were older, here with their wives of probably 50+ years.
That caused her mood to fall further. Together for more than fifty years. That wasn't in her future. Her parents had had 42 years, Mulder's only 15. She shook her head, why did her thoughts keep drifting to him? It was dumb and becoming uncomfortable.
"Have you decided?" The voice of the young woman caused her to jump. "I'm sorry; I didn't mean to startle you."
"No, you didn’t. I'd like the fruit plate with chicken salad."
"Yes ma'am, and to drink? We have a special home blend of hot tea."
"That would be fine. Thank you." As soon as she was alone again, Scully pulled the small visitor's guide she'd picked up at one of her stops and opened it. But she didn't focus on the words.
This trip was a sham, a throw-back to the life she'd envisioned for herself years ago. Life was what happened while you were making plans. In her case, Mulder had happened.
She'd never seen that coming. He'd been a total surprise to her, an enigma as well as, face it, a jerk. She was used to the men that saw no reason for women in their profession - whatever field that was, physics, medicine, the Bureau. But that hadn't been Mulder's problem. She wasn't even sure he knew she was female in the beginning. Of course, running to his room in a storm, wearing only her underwear had probably gotten through even to him. She smiled gently at that memory. A gentleman, Mulder had been the consummate gentleman that night.
She shook off thoughts of him and returned to the pamphlet. Her lunch was excellent which did lift her spirits some, but the sparkle of the day seemed gone.
She finally gave in and returned to the B&B. She opened the door and a movement over to her right drew her attention. A tall, dark hair man was looking at the brochures. Mulder? Had he come to find her? She took a step toward him, her mouth open to speak when he turned.
He was younger than Mulder, not as filled out when she really looked at him, and he had eyes only for the young brunette. He returned to the counter and gave her a kiss. Unexpected tears formed in Dana's eyes. She turned away.
"I hope you two have a wonderful honeymoon. We'll take the bags upstairs. Go on in the parlor and have a glass of wine." The hostess led them into the next room as the young handyman picked up their bags and headed for their room.
Dana waited until the lobby was empty, then moved quickly to the stairs. She hurried to her room. Honeymooners. She closed her eyes and leaned against the door. Why had she even thought that man was Mulder? He didn't know where she was. Okay, he was an FBI agent, but that didn't mean he would search for her.
No, there was no reason for him to come. They'd had a conversation last night. Just a conversation, like friends. That shouldn't have caused her to have him on her mind all day. She wasn't going to call him tonight. She shouldn't have last night.
She'd take a bath and go on to bed. She had no appetite for dinner anyway. Dana reached into her pocket and pulled out her phone to turn it off.
She almost dropped it when it rang in her hand. It was automatic to answer. "Hello?"
Damn that voice. It was huskier now, slightly damaged and he sounded like a walking wet dream.
"Uh, Scully? It's me. Is this a bad time?"
"No, no. I just walked in."
"Oh. Did you have a good day?"
"It was fine. I took a walking tour, saw the historical part of town."
"Any haunted buildings?" He asked with a grin in his voice.
She closed her eyes, way too long. "Not that I know of." She said dryly.
"Scully, you okay?" He sounded somber now, slightly concerned. She sank down onto the bed.
"Yes. What did you do today?" She asked with a lighter tone.
"Me? Well, I'm probably going to have to hock something to get my dry cleaning out, and I did laundry. My underwear drawer is full of clean things again."
She chuckled. "I guess that's good news. What else?"
"Well," she could hear him get comfortable on his couch, though she couldn't say exactly how she knew that. "I cleaned out my refrigerator, and I dusted."
"Hey, I've dusted before." He sounded slightly stung.
"When?" Was her quick retort.
"I didn't write down the date."
"Just give me a decade, Mulder."
He harrumphed, but didn’t directly respond. They were both quiet for a moment, then Mulder got up his courage. "Did, uh, did you decide if you were going to stay there the rest of your time off?"
"Well, actually I was thinking about moving on. I'm footloose and fancy free, right?" She tried for the lighter tone, but it sounded false, even to her.
"Did something happen?" He was getting some kind of vibe that worried him.
"A, uh, a honeymoon couple moved in next door, and . . . " she trailed off, why the hell had she said that? "Uh, what about you? Have a big case waiting on you for Monday?"
"Oh, uh, no. Since you were going to be out of town and I'd never want to ditch you, I decided to take a couple of days off myself. I'm footloose too."
There was silence on her end, but he didn't give himself time to think about that.
"It'd be real dumb to think about being footloose together, wouldn't it?"
Now he took in the silence. God, what had he done? It was just that last night had been so comfortable, talking with her. It had been fun.
On her end of the line, she wasn't sitting silent as much as struck dumb. He, he wanted to be with her on their time off?
"Uh, Scully, that's okay. I shouldn't have - "
"Did you have some place in mind?" She found her voice before he could retract his question.
"I, uh, I . . ." He needed to think fast, "How about Massachusetts?"
"The whole state?" But she realized she was smiling now.
"Uh, I'll find a place and call you back. How's that?"
"Mulder, you don't have to - "
"I want to. Maybe we could head over to Salem or down to the Vineyard. Go get some dinner and I'll get back to you with directions. Okay?"
There was only the slightest hesitation, maybe he only felt it because he was so anxious to hear her reply. "Okay, I'll wait to hear from you. Mulder, you're sure?"
"I'm sure. I'll see you tomorrow."
Part 3 - Together
She’d slept surprisingly well, but had been up before six. She felt no guilt about the speed of her driving. Mulder had said it was a three, three-an-a-half hours drive for her. It was over eight for him, so she could check in and be ready for him.
It really was stupid to get so excited about seeing a man she saw nearly every day of the year, but that didn’t calm her any.
Her eyes widened as she caught sight of the place when she pulled into the graceful curved driveway. Mulder had chosen this place?
The Victorian front of aged and weathered brick was lovely and the turret on the right drew her attention. It was such an inviting place. She could feel the age and gracious living that was this building's past.
She approached the counter as a brunette woman about her age looked up and smiled. “You must be Ms. Scully.”
“Uh, yes. How . . .
“Mr. Mulder described you to me. I’m Janet. Welcome to the Rookwood Inn."
“Th-thank you. Mulder described me?”
The woman’s smile widened. “Very well as a matter of fact. I haven’t seen Mr. Mulder this morning; it was quite late when he arrived.”
“Mulder’s here?” When they had talked he hadn’t mentioned starting out. Of course it hadn’t been late for him.
“Yes. He drove in last night. Something about not wasting any of the remaining time?” Her voice was curious, but she didn’t ask, observing the light blush that took over Dana’s face. “Follow me. We can get your things later.”
Not sure what comment would be appropriate, Dana followed the woman to the stairs and up one flight. "You're in the Williams' Suite. The house was originally the Williams Tavern, so this is in the oldest section. The living room has a fireplace and couch, with two wing-back chairs. The bar was originally a revival dresser." Janet led them into the suite and Scully looked around. Janet turned left toward a door. "This is your bedroom. You have a four-poster, 'rice' bed with canopy. Your seating area is in the turret with an English armoire and love seat. You also have a private bath with an antique soaking tub. I hope you enjoy yourself."
“Thank you." She turned taking in the room. Mulder chose this? "Where is Ag - Mulder?”
“This is a two bedroom suite. He’s here too.”
“Oh. Thank you.”
They stepped back out into the main room. The door at the far end of the sitting room was closed. "That’s Mr. Mulder's room. He has the smaller room with an antique brass bed and two Victorian chairs."
Dana nodded, stunned. She had stayed in some nice places before. Last night’s accommodations had been very nice, but she was more familiar with dumps. She’d never stayed in a place like this.
“Thank you.” It was inadequate, but she wasn’t sure what to say.
“Just ring down to the desk if you need anything.” Janet smiled again and let herself out. Dana returned to her room and sank onto the bed. She wasn’t sure how long she sat there, but the tap on the door brought her back to the present.
“Like it?” That honey, raspy voice caused her to shiver.
“Mulder,” she rose and moved toward him, “We can’t afford this.”
“Who’s this ‘we’ Kemosabe?” He grinned down at her. “I can afford it. I’m the one horning in on your time off.”
“I thought you were going to have to hock something to get your dry cleaning out.”
He shrugged, “That may have been a slight exaggeration.”
“When did you get here?”
“Around one, I think. It wasn’t a bad drive.”
“You drove up last night? Why?” Her surprise was evident.
“Sure. We only have today, tomorrow and Tuesday. Duty calls on Wednesday.”
“You’re crazy, Mulder.” But she was smiling at him.
“That’s one of my most lovable traits, Agent Scully.” He winked at her. “Let me get a quick shower, then we can eat some breakfast and go do our thing.”
“What thing is that, Mulder?”
“You’ll see.” He backed from the room, leaving her to explore their new surroundings.
After a delicious breakfast, with some of the best coffee she ever remembered drinking, Mulder led her outside to his car.
“We have to drive a little ways, then we walk.”
“When did you have time to plan all this?”
“I’m good, Scully. Don’t you forget it.”
“I won’t.” He wasn’t sure he really heard that, she spoke so softly, but he felt it.
The town had meticulously restored and preserved their historic district. Scully wouldn’t have been surprised to see men and women in colonial garb pass them. Mulder led her to a magnificent home and opened the door for her.
A tour was forming, so they joined it, wandering through the rooms, working their way upstairs. Mulder leaned down to speak to her, “Come on, Scully, if you were a ghost, isn’t this the kind of place you’d look for to haunt?”
Before she could respond, the young man serving as the guide for this tour turned to them. “You know there is a story of a ghost that’s supposed to live here.”
She looked up at Mulder, eyebrow high. “You didn’t.”
His hands went up in the air in mock surrender. “I didn’t, I swear.”
The guide launched into his story of lost love and eternal waiting. Scully crossed her arms and leaned back against Mulder to listen. On impulse, he draped his left arm around her throat, resting his hand on her right shoulder. She didn’t pull away, just resting more comfortably against him.
Everyone was quiet for a moment after the guide finished his story, then Scully took a deep breath. Mulder was loath to release her, but she straightened up. He heard one of the older women behind them whisper to the other. “I love watching newlyweds.”
Geez, Scully had to have heard her too, and since they were the only couple in the group . . . He waited for her to pull away or stiffen, but she didn’t. His hand brushed against hers as she followed the guide. Instead of pulling away, her fingers curled around his and she squeezed them lightly. His heart rate soared when she also looked up at him and winked. She had heard, but it hadn’t upset her. Damn, this was a good day.
They continued on to the next place, enjoying the company even more than the tours. She hadn’t thought about the fact that he had grown up in this area of the country and was actually a better tour guide than any of the people awaiting them at the different stops. This man was a font of trivia and, to her surprise, not all of it related to paranormal phenomena. He had her laughing as they walked down the street, hand in hand.
“Getting hungry, Scully?”
“Mmm, I could eat. What are you hungry for?”
His eyes gleamed for a minute, looking down at her, then he stepped back. “I don’t know. There’s a little sandwich shop over there.”
Scully turned to see where he pointed and saw a little place very similar to the tea shop she had eaten in yesterday. She shook her head slowly, “That doesn’t look like your kind of place. What if I buy you a pizza?” She pointed to a little Italian restaurant on the other side of the street.
“A pizza? Scully?”
She rolled her eyes, “Yes. My treat. Come on.”
Grinning he allowed her to pull him across the street. They split a pizza and a pitcher of beer while he regaled her with legends and stories of the surrounding countryside.
After lunch they continued on the walking tour for a little while, then turned into a large antique shop.
“You want to go shopping?” She grinned at Mulder.
“Hey, if you want to buy a bed or something, I think I should check it out.”
“A bed, huh? I was thinking more about end tables.”
“End tables? They won’t hold much weight.” He grimaced.
She laughed out loud and his eyes lightened to a deep green at the sight. He followed her around, checking out the books, albums and smaller things. She realized he had gotten stopped by a rack of comic books. Her smile widened and she joined him.
“Spiderman?” She peeked around him.
“No, Superboy and the Legion of Super Heroes. I always had a thing for Saturn Girl.”
“Saturn Girl, huh? Isn’t she married to Lightening Lad?”
His mouth fell open. This woman could surprise him without even trying. “Uh, yeah. You know that?”
“Please, I have two brothers, Mulder. Bill had Saturn Girl hidden under his mattress before he could buy Playboy.”
Mulder’s blush caught her slightly off guard. He managed a grin, “Better than National Geographic.”
She chuckled and started to turn away, but he took her hand. “Thanks for letting me join you.”
Scully met his eyes. “It’s been fun, Mulder. A lot more fun since you joined me.”
He absorbed that, the feeling of happiness warming him. “You know, if you’re really interested in end tables, I can take you to see the stuff my Dad had. No one’s using it and I’m sure I’ve seen some tables like the ones in that first display.”
“The ones near the front? Are you kidding? Mulder, those are very expensive.”
He shrugged. “If you’re interested, they’re yours. We can go check them out next weekend, if we’re in town.”
“O-okay. If you’re sure.”
“I’m sure. Besides, imagine them with beer can rings or chopsticks stuck to the top.”
She mock shuddered. “Don’t do it Mulder. Those poor tables don’t deserve that.” She took his hand with no hesitation, “Well, are you going to buy those comics?”
“It wouldn’t embarrass you?”
“Me? Embarrassed by Mulder? Can’t even imagine it.”
“I’m gonna hold you to that.” He tugged her toward the checkout, then headed them back to the car. “There’s something I think you’ll enjoy.” She nodded, safe in his hands.
She was surprised when he pulled into the Norman Rockwell Museum. She did enjoy the hominess of his art, but hadn’t imagined Mulder enjoying this. It was surprisingly normal and a lot of fun.
The Wheatleigh was an unexpected treat. She’d had no experience with this side of Mulder, French cuisine, wine lists. Diners and paper napkins was more their style. The dinner was incredible, fresh seafood, crisp wine and even more stories.
“I’ll save up and we can stay here next time, Scully.”
“I saw the brochure, Mulder. We’d both need second jobs for that.” She said dryly.
“Well, if it’s a real special occasion maybe . . .”
“It would have to be real special, Mulder.”
“I’ll see what I can do. You know in the meantime, Scully, there’s a haunted tour in the Florida Keys if you want to make plans in the future.”
“A haunted tour?”
He grinned, “Lots of spooky houses and weird bumps in the night. Sounds great doesn’t it?” He nodded rapidly.
She laughed out loud and his heart clutched. What do you know, they could spend time together without a case and have a good time. Take that Van Blundht. After the leisurely dinner, coffee and chocolate chocolate mousse with Kaula, he headed them back to the B&B.Her eyes lit up when they pulled up in front of the house. It was dramatically lit, she could envision this house when it was new, with women in magnificent gowns attending afternoon teas and balls here.
He led her inside and up the stairs to their suite. A fire had been laid in the sitting room. “May I?” She pointed to the matches.
“Sure.” He watched as she knelt and lit the kindling. She rose after the fire was going and sat in one of the wing-back chairs.
She felt mellow, relaxed and very happy. It was cool since the sun had gone down, so this was perfect. She turned as the music started.
Mulder was messing with the controls, and had found some light jazz. He really was doing everything to make this a perfect vacation for her.
Then he was standing in front of her. “Dance with me?”
He nodded and held out his hand. They had danced before, at the Cher concert, but that was so long ago. She took hold of his hand and he tugged her to her feet. She came into his arms and they moved to the music, more swaying than dancing. It felt so good.
She didn’t even know how many songs they danced through, but she felt like she could stay in his arms all night. Something made her look up, as he looked down. The first kiss was tentative, he wasn’t sure of her reaction, but she didn’t pull away. He kissed her upper lip then, and nibbled on her lower one.
She was responding, oh God, she was responding. She welcomed his tongue into her mouth and his arms tightened around her. His hand cradled the back of her head. He wanted her. He was even beginning to believe she wanted him, but that wasn’t why he’d planned this. Well, it wasn’t the only reason, and he refused to rush her after only one day of time off together.
“Scully,” she shivered at the sound of her name in that voice, “you better, you better go to your room.” He kept his arms around her to steady her.
After a moment, she nodded.
“I’ll, I’ll see you in the morning, Scully.”
She swallowed and stepped away. He was right, they loved each other, but they didn’t need to rush this. He really was a gentleman. She smiled at him and gave him one more, chaste kiss. “Goodnight Mulder.”
He nodded, but didn’t speak. He watched her walk to her bedroom and closed his eyes to keep from leaping after her. He listened for the door to shut and the lock to engage. He heard neither and looked over. She hadn’t completely closed the door behind her.
That wasn’t an invitation to jump her, he understood that, but it was definitely not a rejection of what had just happened here.
He turned to his own bedroom.
He didn’t expect to sleep. He knew he would lie awake, aware of her on the other side of the suite, but he was relaxed, more assured of his position in her life than at any time since she had entered his world.
He woke refreshed and rested. He lay there for a moment to analyze what he was feeling. Happy. Damn, when was the last time that he had woken up happy? He rose from the bed with a smile.
He headed out to the main room and started the coffee after glancing at her door. It was ajar, she was still asleep. His smile grew.
Mulder found the cups and fixed her coffee as she liked it. He could take it in there to her. He'd seen her in bed before, lots of times, though usually in hospitals. Anyway, she always wore those men's pajamas so he'd be safe. He grinned, more than once he had imagined her heading into the boy's department of some store to get those things. He couldn't help but wonder if the ones he hadn't seen had Superman or cowboys on them.
He glanced down, pajama bottoms, t-shirt, well not formal, but not embarrassing either. He headed for her door.
She was lying on her side, the covers drawn up to her face, with that red hair of hers spread around her like a halo on the pillow. He sat carefully on the side of the bed nearest her with the cup in his hand.
"Hey Scully." He spoke softly to wake her.
She turned, stretching and the covers fell back. His eyes widened, that was no pair of boy's pj's. It was a gown, with those tiny little straps. Spaghetti straps, his mind supplied, and one had fallen off of her shoulder in sleep. Her breasts were covered in white with little flowers, rosebuds, along the edge. Those little roses were the same color as her nipples, which he could see through the sheer fabric. As he watched, they hardened into little buds.
"Mmm, Mulder. Thanks." Scully sat up, sweeping the strap back up over her shoulder and leaning back against the headboard. She reached for the coffee, which he extended with slightly shaking hands.
She closed her eyes and took a deep, appreciative breath of the aroma. Oh God, did she have any idea what she was doing to him? He forced his eyes away and glanced at her face. She was watching him watch her. He could feel the color in his cheeks.
"Did you sleep well, Mulder?"
"Very well." His voice seemed to have a growl to it that caused the hair to stand up on her arms.
"Good. Did you have any plans for today?" She smiled at him.
God, she looked adorable in that little white nothing with her hair all mussed and curly. "Uh, yeah. I, uh I was thinking we could drive over to Salem and look around."
"The Witch Museum?" She asked innocently.
His eyes had traveled south again. She sure as hell didn't seem to be in any hurry to cover herself. "Uh, yeah. I, uh, I thought it might be fun."
She nodded, "I think it will be." She took another sip of her coffee. "Well, I guess I better get up and take a shower."
He nodded, and after a beat realized she was waiting for him to move so that she could get up. “Shower, yeah.” He stood, turned away from her. “I’ll meet you in twenty minutes.”
“Make it thirty, Mulder.”
“Thirty, yeah okay.” He didn’t look back, pulling the door closed behind him. He made his way to his own bedroom to get ready.
He waited in the main room, nursing a second cup of coffee and pacing. The shower had helped; at least he had some circulation in his brain now. He wanted her; she couldn’t have missed the signs. She hadn’t pulled away, last night or this morning. What did that mean?
He turned when the door opened. She hadn’t straightened her hair, just pulled it back in a clasp. The curls around her face were already pulling free. She was wearing casual gray slacks and a blue v-neck sweater that brought out the color of her eyes. He wanted to eat her up. He halted, watching her.
“Did I keep you waiting?”
“It was worth it.”
She smiled and turned to the door. His hand came up to touch her back, but he hesitated. It felt like he’d zap her if he touched her. There had to be high tension wires in the room.
She looked back and took his hand. No explosion, he hadn’t electrocuted her.
They had a delicious breakfast in the dining room, then headed for Salem. He drove and she checked the map.
“I don’t need a map, Scully. We’re in Massachusetts. I grew up in Massachusetts.”
“You’ve been to the Witch Museum before?” She asked, trying to conceal her smile.
“Once. It was years ago.”
They visited the whole three hours without once getting into an X-File or possible case. He was a little surprised that they had that much to talk about after all these years; it was fun. He was even enjoying the stories about Bill, especially the ones where he made a fool of himself.
When they arrived at the museum, Scully excused herself to go to the ladies’ room. She noted the arrival of four young women, slightly younger than her and dressed for attention. To think, that was what she had envisioned for this long weekend, but instead she'd gotten so much better.
When she returned, she looked around for Mulder. One of the women, the tall blonde, was talking to him. He was facing her, his back to Scully and the woman’s friends were off to the side, watching, smiling.
On some level she understood. Mulder was by far the most attractive man in the place, and that was not just prejudice on her part. And he probably seemed unattached. She'd seen him put female witnesses at ease with his manner often enough. Let's face it, the man oozed sexuality and, thank God, he didn't seem to notice.
Scully straightened her spine and moved in their direction. Time to stake her claim, this was Mulder. She hadn’t spoken, but he reached out when she was close and took hold of her hand, pulling her to him. He looked down at her, but Scully was watching the blonde.
It was obvious that this young woman did not appreciate the interruption. Scully met her eyes and the woman saw the certainty in Scully’s eyes. The woman looked away, then excused herself and joined her friends.
“Yes? You ready?” She looked up at him.
“Yeah.” His arm went around her shoulders and she let her head rest against his chest for an instant. They took their time, wandering through the exhibits. At one point she moved away from him to check out a plaque.
“He didn’t even look around." The one with short brunette hair was saying. "I know he could not have seen her from that angle. And there was a crowd, I don't think he could have heard her. How the hell did he know she was coming? He reached for her. You saw it. Damn, it was, it was spooky.”
Scully struggled not to smile. ‘You have no idea’ she thought. She returned to his side and he looked down at her.
“What?” He asked.
“Nothing.” She did smile then.
He looked puzzled, but decided not to pursue it for now. He glanced over as the women entered the room. They were watching the two of them. Scully had acted quite proprietorial when she'd returned from the ladies room. She didn't think he had approached the woman? No, she didn't think that. He squeezed her hand lightly and the pressure was returned. Damn he was having a good time today.
They returned to the room after another incredible dinner to find the fire had been laid again. He took the bottle of wine he had purchased over to the bar and found a corkscrew. He poured them each a glass. He needed to relax, even if she didn’t. That feeling of high tension lines was there again.
He thought about dancing again, but having her pressed against him might not be the best idea right now.
He handed her the glass of wine, but didn’t know what to say. She looked up from her chair. “Do you want a fire again tonight?”
“Sure.” He rose.
“You know, there’s a fireplace in my bedroom too, Mulder.”
He just looked at her for a longest moment. “Yes, there is.”
“Why don’t we light that one instead?” She rose and moved toward her room.
He wasn’t quite sure he could move for an instant, but she didn’t turn to see. She left the door open and with a deep breath, he followed.
Scully was kneeling in front of her fireplace, watching the fire catch the kindling. She stood when he joined her. She had already taken off her shoes, which made her even tinier. He looked down at her. “Scully, are you sure?”
She rose on her toes and kissed his lips. He swept her up in his arms and carried her the few steps to the bed. He lay her on the bed and she rolled to face him. He toed off his own shoes and reclined next to her, letting his hand rest lightly at her waist.
He bent down to meet her lips again and he felt her hands lightly massaging the muscles of his back. Damn he was going to make this a good night.
He woke in her bed. If he’d woken happy yesterday, he was ecstatic this morning. His Scully was curled up at his side, one of her shapely legs entwined with his, and her head rested over his heart.
“Scully?” He whispered to find out if she was still asleep.
She stirred, pressing her body closer to his. He smiled and leaned down to kiss her forehead.
“Mmm, Mulder, what time is it?”
“Don’t know. The sun’s up.”
“That’s not all.” She moved her leg and he grinned. “I can’t believe you, Mulder. Again?”
“Hey, you’re at your sexual peak, I don’t want to waste another minute.”
“My sexual peak. So that’s what I felt last night.”
“More than once it seemed to me.” He nuzzled her ear.
She chuckled by way of confirmation. “So, do you have plans for today?”
“Scully, everything I want to see in Massachusetts is right here in this bed. Remember, I grew up here. There’s nothing else that even comes close to attracting me.
She couldn’t argue with that. She felt the same way.