Love Among the Ruins, Part 1


PROLOGUE PART 1 PART 2 PART 3 PART 4 PART 5 PART 6

Love Among the RuinsLOVE AMONG THE RUINS
Part 1: The Georgetown Devil Meets Sleepless in Alexandria
By
aka "Jake"

“Fingerpaints?”

“Yes, Mulder, fingerpaints. Remember the Jersey Devil case?”

“Yyyyyyes. What does the Jersey Devil have to do with fingerpaints...or, for that matter, what does the Jersey Devil have to do with you having fun?”

“That’s what I’m going to tell you. Now sit quietly and listen. This is a rather long story.”

“How long?”

“Would you prefer I skip the details?”

“No, no, no. Not at all. I want to hear every word. It’s just...”

“Just what?”

“Could you, um...shift a little to the right?”

“Like that?”

“Ow! *My* right.”

“Ah. How’s that?”

“Better, thank you.”

“May I begin my story now?”

“I’m all ears.”

“I wouldn’t say that, Mulder, I’m sitting on a pretty big--”

“Scully, your story.”

“Right. October, 1993. Back from Atlantic City, you had an appointment with an ethno-biologist at the Smithsonian.”

“I remember. You blew off a date with Mr. Boring to come with me.”

“Rod wasn’t boring, he... Never mind. This story isn’t about Rod.”

“Good. ’Cause I thought *I* was gonna be the star of your happy moment.”

“You are. After I left you at the Smithsonian with your ethno-biologist friend...”

* * *

A parking space opened up in front of my building -- thank God for small favors. I’m tired, I’m hungry, and I’ve got a trunk-load of junk to unpack. I park in the abandoned space, pop the trunk, grab my purse, case notes, and keys, and climb from the car. It’s raining; the case notes are going to get soaked if I don’t hurry.

Juggling my armload, I round the rear fender to peer into the trunk, which is jam-packed full of party paraphernalia. My godson’s buddies ate their birthday cake and took home the party favors, but I’m still stuck with empty food containers, paper and paints, scissors, tape, extra folding chairs ‘just in case’; it’ll take at least three trips to get all this stuff from the car to the apartment--

Oh, damn. The green fingerpaint. It’s everywhere! The lid must have come off the jar and spilled -- dammit -- on everything! Why the hell did I have to bring fingerpaints?

Twenty minutes later, I’ve cleared out the trunk and, with a little club soda and elbow grease, removed most of the green stains from the carpet liner. All the paint-covered items are now piled beside my kitchen sink, except for the folding chairs, which are still out in the hall leaning against the wall beside my door. Before rolling up my sleeves and scrubbing, I take inventory: five Tupperware containers, two pairs of safety scissors -- gotta remember to put those back in my first aid kit once they’re clean -- Mom’s cake server, and half a dozen jars of fingerpaints. I toss out what's left of the giant pad of paper the kids used for painting on -- it’s ruined. The four recently dry-cleaned skirts that never made it back into my closet need to be returned to the cleaners, along with the clothes I’m currently wearing.

I look down at what was once my prettiest silk blouse.

Counting to ten, I remove my shirt--

**“Finally.”**

**“Excuse me?”**

**“Clock’s ticking, Scully. We’ve only got forty-eight hours to...uh...um...”**

**“Point taken. Don’t worry, this is where the fun part begins.”**

**“I noticed. You took off your shirt and then...?”**

I remove my shirt and notice green paint has soaked clear through to my bra.

**“What kind of bra were you wearing?”**

**“I don’t remember. Does it matter?”**

**“Of course, it matters. I want you to describe it.”**

My brand new peach-colored bra -- the one with the lace cups that barely cover what they’re supposed to--

**“Yes! The one with the thin straps and the easy-open front thingy?”**

**“Mulder, I didn’t have that particular bra in 1993.”**

**“Just go with it, Scully.”**

**“My peach-colored bra with the thin straps and the easy-open front thingy...”**

...looks like jungle camouflage. I unhook it and take it into the bathroom where I fill the sink to let it soak. As the sink fills, I catch my reflection in the mirror. Paint freckles my face, hands, arms, cleavage. A big splotch of green covers my left breast. I reach for the washcloth, and then, for some reason, change my mind. Instead, I run my index finger through the paint, smearing a wiggly line around my bare nipple.

The paint is slippery and it feels kinda...nice. I draw another line, connecting my nipples like dots. Both nipples harden. Hmmm. Should I...?

**“Scully, you didn’t!”**

**“Yes, I did.”**

Why not? I hurry to the kitchen and gather up the paint jars. There are six different colors: yellow, blue, red, orange, purple, and a small amount of what’s left of the green. Carrying them back to the bathroom, I decide the mirror is too small in there, so I take the paint into the bedroom instead, where I have two mirrors: a big one above the bureau and a full-length one that stands in the corner.

I line up the jars on the bureau in rainbow order, removing each lid as I add it to the row. My heart is racing and I feel like a naughty child. What would Sister Mary Katherine say if she knew what I was planning to do? 

Stepping out of my shoes, I unbutton my pants and slide them off. My hose are the next things to go. Wearing nothing but my panties, I turn to face the full-length mirror. A small redhead with a green line linking one breast to the other stares back at me with devilish eyes. This painted lady doesn’t care whether or not Sister Katherine thinks she’s wicked. She plans to do something a little out of the ordinary tonight.

Hooking my thumbs beneath my waistband, I slip my panties down below my hips. When they reach my knees, I let them drop to the floor. Voila, my canvas is ready.

Starting with the purple, I dip a finger into the jar. The paint is thick and doesn’t drip when I lift it to my neck, and it’s cold from sitting in my car for a day and a half. I paint a tentative line along my collarbone, raising a rash of goosebumps on my arms and thighs. Despite the paint’s chilly temperature, I feel a fire ignite between my legs. I pose to admire my handiwork in the mirror.

Next I dip my finger into the red jar. I draw a heart over my own heart. The paint glides across my skin, and with little swirling motions, I color in the heart. Each tiny stroke causes my breasts to bounce a bit. I look in the mirror and watch, wishing someone other than myself were painting my skin. How would it feel to have big hands spreading paint across my breasts, or a long finger drawing a straight line from my breastbone down to my...? ~sigh~ I paint several orange curlicues on my abdomen. Then a series of green lines, from my waist to the undersides of my breasts. A yellow zigzag from my left knee to my groin resembles a lightning bolt, and I swear I can feel its electricity tingling my center. 

Scooping some green onto my finger, I consider touching it to my...uh...is this stuff non-toxic? I check the label. Yes, of course it is. It’s made for kids. Heck, it’s even edible, according to the fine print. I taste it to be sure, just a dot on the tip of my tongue. Hmm. Doesn’t taste great, but not terrible either.

Well, here goes. I press my paint-slicked fingertip between my--

Someone knocks on the front door. Damn it!

“Scully?”

**“Oh! This is *me*!”**

**“Yes, it was you, Mulder.”**

**“You didn’t answer the door when I knocked.”**

**“No, I didn’t.”**

“Scully? Are you home?” Mulder’s voice carries clear to the bedroom. Although I have no intention of answering the door, I consider putting on my robe.

“Scully?”

Go away, Mulder. I hold my breath and wait. I hear nothing. A full minute passes. Still nothing. He must have gone. I breathe again...and begin to rub my finger slowly against my...mmmmm. Mulder’s face floods my mind and I pretend that he is--

**“Really? You thought about me while you...?”**

**“Yes, Mulder, I thought...”**

...about Ellen’s question the day before: “What about that guy you work with? I thought you said he was cute.”

**“You told Ellen I was cute?”**

**“I did. Then I said...”**

“He’s a jerk.”

**“Oh.”**

**“But I amended my statement. I said...”**

“He’s not a jerk, he’s...he’s obsessed with his work.”

**“Oh, big difference, Scully.”**

**“It was the truth. *Is* the truth. You remember what happened next?”**

My phone rings. Jesus H. Christ, a little privacy, please? I’m in the middle of something here. I let the machine pick up.

//Scully it’s me. I need to talk to you. It’s about the case. Call me as soon as you get in -- it’s *very* important.//

Very important? The Jersey Devil? How important could it be? Mulder *is* obsessed. Why can’t the man go out and have a beer, take a day off. Does he have to work, work, work, when I want to--

The Jersey Devil

Damn it. I wipe my hands on my thighs, cap all the paints and put on my robe before dialing Mulder’s cell number. I don’t want to be naked while I’m talking to him on the phone. It would be just like him to ask, “Scully, what are you wearing?”

“Hey, Scully,” he answers on the first ring. “I need to see you.”

I cinch the belt on my robe. “Uh, yeah, okay. When?”

“No time like the present. I’m on my way.”

“Mulder...uh, how long before you...where are you now?”

Someone knocks on my door. I’m guessing it’s Mulder; he never left my building. Phone in hand, I go to the door and open it.

“Hey,” he says into his cell and smiles at me. “You forgot your case notes out here in the...” Holding my files in one hand, he waves them at the folding chairs and squints at the paint on my face.

“Mulder, what’s so important it couldn’t wait until Monday?”

“You’re busy?”

“I--”

“If I’ve caught you at a bad time...? Maybe you’re getting ready for another date with that guy -- what was his name?”

“Rod. And no, I’m not getting ready-- What did you need to tell me?”

He shoulders past me, striding into my living room. I follow, point to the couch, indicating he should sit. Without removing his coat, he takes a seat at the far end. I sit at the opposite end, and he leans toward me, elbows on his knees, hands waving the air as he speaks.

“Dr. Redmond agrees the planet is probably teeming with humans raised in the wild, Scully, providing a factual basis for many age-old legends like the wendigo of northern Canada, the Russian alma, the Chinese yaren, the African ngoloko, kakundakari, and Tano Giant--”

“Those are myths, Mulder, like Gilgamesh or Mowgli. Who is Dr. Redmond?”

“A colleague of Dr. Peters, the ethno-biologist we met earlier at the Smithso--” Mulder leans closer. He draws an invisible circle in front of my face with his index finger. “You, uh...you’ve got something...”

“It’s fingerpaint.”

He nods, as if this makes perfect sense. “Like us, wild humans are most likely tribal, aggressively territorial, oriented by selfish sexual and reproductive drives--” He stops talking and waggles his finger in the general direction of my cleavage.

That finger. That long, beautiful finger. I can’t help but picture it, glossy with paint, sketching a bold line between my--

“I was in the middle of cleaning, Mulder,” -- I tilt my head toward the kitchen where paint-spattered Tupperware sits unwashed beside the sink -- “a little fingerpaint accident.”

Glancing at the kitchen, he nods again, and then his focus drops to my bare feet, where a squiggly orange line runs from my toes up my shin and disappears beneath my bathrobe.

“Cooperating...like a... tribe...” His voice falters and he stands. “I’m gonna go.”

I’m staring at his hands. Oh, Christ, those hands. “That would be a good idea.” I stand, too, and feel the wet paint glide between my legs.

“We can talk about this--”

“On Monday.”

“Right.”

* * *

“And that’s when you left.”

“I’ve always wondered about the paint thing, Scully, but I’m not really seeing how your story was...well, a particularly happy moment for you.”

“It was a milestone, Mulder.”

“In what way?”

“It was the first time I ever thought of you as a potential lover.”

“Ooooooh. That is nice.”

“Yes, it is.”

“Did you go back to your, uh, fingerpainting...after I left you?”

“Sorry, Mulder, my story is over. It’s your turn now. When did you first, you know, think of me as a potential lover?”

“Right after you said, ‘Agent Mulder, I'm Dana Scully, I've been assigned to work with you.’”

“Liar.”

“I am not.”

“Pants on fire.”

“Well, yes, they are. Would you mind shifting to *your* right a bit?”

“Better?”

“Sorta.”

“Good. Now gimme the details.”

“Remember the Dudley, Arkansas case?”

“Home of Chaco Chicken?”

“That’s the one. 1995. Sheriff Arens, Creutzfeldt-Jacob, town of cannibals.”

“How could I forget? I almost got my head chopped off.”

“And who was the knight-in-shining-trenchcoat who saved your cute little ass?”

“Mulder! You weren’t thinking about me in a sexual way when I was bound and gagged!”

“No, no, no. Although, if you wanna get out those Bureau-issue handcuffs--?”

“Forget it. Tell your story.”

“Before you and I left DC to investigate the town of Dudley, I showed you a videotape of a television documentary.”

“About a guy in an insane asylum.”

“Yep. Creighton Jones. He pulled off the road on May 17, 1961 to take a nap. They found him three days later so deranged he had to be committed.”

“What about him?”

“Nothing about Creighton Jones specifically. I told you I saw that documentary when I was in college and it gave me nightmares. You said--”

“I said I didn’t think anything gave you nightmares.”

“Right. Well, uh, I lied.”

“Pants on fire. Are you now saying you didn’t have nightmares about Creighton Jones?”

“No, I did. It’s just, I sorta led you to believe that those nightmares were a one-time thing, when I was younger. To be honest...”

“You were still having nightmares.”

“All the time.”

“Why didn’t you say something?”

“Well...that’s the crux of my story.”

“Your nightmares are related to the first time you thought of me as a potential lover?”

“Sorta, yes. The story starts when...”

* * *

Scully and I returned from Dudley, Arkansas around mid-afternoon. After writing my report, I came home, took a shower, ate take-out Chinese, watched three movies back-to-back, until now it’s 2:48 a.m. and the damn Chaco Chicken case is circling around my brain like an off-key round of Row, Row, Row Your Boat. I’m thinking I won’t be sleeping at all tonight. Again.

Doctors say the three most common causes for insomnia are 1) stress on the job, 2) poor eating habits, and 3) a lack of exercise.

Hmm.

I can’t attribute my sleeping problem to lack of exercise -- I run almost every day. Sometimes it’s just an ordinary five-mile jog. Sometimes it’s a heart-pounding pursuit over the hills of Podunk, Iowa, the dales of East Bumfuck, Montana, or, more often than not, under a chain link fence at a top-secret military installation. Mutants, ghosts, men in black. Exactly who chases who is a week-by-week thing. Hunter or hunted, I get a great cardiovascular workout on a regular basis.

So, how about stress on the job? Could work-related tension be keeping me up at night? Nnnnnnah. My job isn’t stressful. I honestly find it stimulating. What the hell else would I do if I weren’t chasing Bigfoot, Fluke Man, the Jersey Devil, or a liver-eating-brain-sucking-hypothalamus-crunching-alien-human-hybrid-clone-from-outer-space? Sit at home? No thanks.

As for my diet, what’s wrong with double-cheese pizzas, quarter-pounders and take-out Chinese? 

Sssssooooo, ruling out the three most frequent causes of nocturnal no-doze, I asked my friendly neighborhood doc (*not* Scully) if...uh...too little sex might cause some men to lose sleep. Hypothetically speaking.

Doc wouldn’t say yes, and he wouldn’t say no.

So I’m thinking, life in the no-nookie zone is at the root of my problem.

Let’s face it, I haven’t had sex with a woman in months. And it’s entirely possible the last time was with a vampire.

Don’t get me wrong -- it’s not that I can’t get dates. That part is easy. Keeping a date interested long enough to dance the Mattress Mambo -- now that’s the trick. Fact: most women are turned off by the mention of alien invasion. Prior to sex, the topic of extraterrestrials in general is apparently taboo.

Oh, and for those who might think beating oneself off while watching a triple-X movie marathon counts as the kind of sex that promotes deep sleep and prevents insomnia -- I’m here to tell you, bro, it does not. If it did, I’d be in a perpetual coma.

So, what’s a restless G-Man to do?

Dr. Sleepless -- the doctor I saw because there was no way in hell I was gonna go to Scully with this sexual deprivation theory -- explained some strategies I might try to help me fall asleep.

1: Count my breaths. He said, “Don’t resist the thoughts that come into your head, but try not to follow them either. Instead, accept them. Notice the thoughts that float into your consciousness...then observe as they float away.”

Fine. I tried it the first night. It went something like this:

One...one delicate hand wrapped around my-- Breathe. Two...two 900-number phone calls. “Marty, right now I’m wearing--” Breathe. Three...three Celebrity Skin magazines, oh, God, look who’s the centerfold-- Breathe. Four...four porn tapes starring redheaded lesbians-- Ahhhhhhhh!

Nothing was floating away but the ejaculate on my leg.

Second night. 2: Try the “body sweep.” Dr. Sleepless said, “In this exercise you move your attention slowly up your body. As you pass over it with your awareness, flex and relax each muscle group as you go. The goal is not to fight off the thoughts that arise, but to keep yourself detached from those thoughts, letting them depart.”

Okeydoke. I started with my toes. Flex. Relax. I thought about stiletto-heeled shoes on dainty little female feet. Moving up my legs, I flexed and relaxed my ankles and calves. I thought about nylons with seams running up the back of...Scully’s shapely legs. Jesus, she has great calves. I flexed my thighs and thought about a lacy black garter belt and pretty little bikini panties and Scully’s glorious rounded ass...which led me to think about all the sex I wasn’t getting, so I said “screw it” and flexed my dick until it exploded in my hand.

Night 3: Temple massage.

Led to masturbation.

Night 4: Visualization.

Ditto. (Are you sensing a pattern here?)

5: Use the bed only for sleeping.

Huh? Did I not mention the “getting no sex” thing?

To be honest, I don’t do anything at all in my bed. I prefer the good ol’ leather couch. For eating. Reading. Sleeping. Jerking off. Hey, it’s closer to the VCR and the box of Kleenex.

Okay, by now you’ve got the picture, I’ve got the picture, it’s a fucking Kodak moment and I’m a masturbation junkie. The monkey on my back is the hand on my cock. I couldn’t stop now if I tried.

Unless...

No. Forget it. She wouldn’t go for it. Not even to rid me of unhealthy sleep patterns.

Althooooough...

She is first and foremost a doctor. Isn’t she required by some doctor law to help me? Hippocratic oath and all that?

If I approached her as a patient...with a condition...a debilitating condition...

Nnnnnnnnah.

Crap. It’s 2:56, I’m wide awake and on the verge of wrestling with old Johnny One Eye. This is intolerable.

Grab phone. Hit speed dial. One ring. Two.

//H’lo?//

Shit, I woke her. Of course I woke her. It’s fucking 3:00 in the morning.

//Muller? Zat you?//

“Hi, Scully, I...uh, I’ve got a question for you. An important question.”

//What time...? Mulder, it’s 3:00 in the morning!//

“Is it?”

//You know it is.//

“Sorry.”

//What’s your important question? It better be good.//

“It can wait ‘til morning.”

//Mulder, you’ve already--//

“No, really. I’m okay.”

//Are you hurt? What happened? Mulder, where are you?//

“I...”

//Mulder?//

“I think...I think I might be sick.”

//Sick?// Her voice is all worried-like and I can just picture her sitting up, concern etched in her brow. Maybe she’s throwing back the covers, already getting out of bed. Whaddaya suppose she’s wearing? //Mulder, you didn’t eat any of that Chaco Chicken did you?//

“It’s possible I had one teensy bite.” Oh I am such a low down-- “I think...I think you better come over.”

//What are your symptoms, Mulder?//

“Symptoms?”

//Fever? Chills? Nausea?//

“All of those.”

//All?//

“Yeah, and I’m dizzy. My eyes feel strange.”

//Your eyes?//

“Like they’re being squeezed. Is that bad?”

//I don’t really know, Mulder. I’m coming over.//

YES! “Oh, you don’t have to do that.”

//Yes, I do. I want to.//

“Well...if you think it’s best.”

//I do. Are you going to be all right until I get there?//

“Yeah, I think...I’m pretty sure...I’ll hang on.”

She hangs up and I grab my crotch.

“Open the bomb bay doors, Private Mulder! Aye, aye, Captain Fox.” I unzip my fly and liberate my payload.

Getting into position to yank my doodle, pump the python, hold the sausage hostage, I try to play out in my head how the conversation is going to go once Scully arrives.

“Ooooh, Mulder, is that all for *me*!”

“You bet your sweet--” I’m wondering where we should do the deed. Against the wall, on the kitchen counter, under the coffee table? And how precisely should we go about it? Scully’s a good Catholic girl, so she probably wouldn’t object to the tried and true Missionary Position. But would she be willing to attempt something a bit kinkier? A lap dance? A slurpy soixante-neuf? I don’t suppose there’s any chance she masturbates. I start stroking.

And stroking...

And stroking...

Oohh, mama, I’ll be sleeping like a baby tonight! Rock-a-bye Mulder, Scully’s on top; when my wad bl...

Uh-oh. That brings up a teensy-weensy concern. Because it’s been a few months since my last real roll in the hay, it’s entirely possible I might detonate too soon, humiliating myself and ruining any chance for a future close encounter of the Scully kind. Operating under the assumption that a few practice runs might improve my stamina, warm me up for the game and extend my time on the playing field, I go through the motions...uh...three times in twenty minutes. A personal best, if I do say so myself. I decide one more lap around the track will ensure I don’t pop my cork prematurely.

Lying on the couch, eyes closed, hand working hard, I picture Scully wearing a lacy bra with thin straps and one of those easy-open front thingies. Her dainty fingers toy with the clasp. Lips pursed, she gazes at me through her lashes. “Tell me your deepest, darkest fantasies, Agent Mulder,” -- she unhooks her bra and exposes her breasts, inch by sexy inch -- “and I’ll make them *all* come true.”

Oh, god, I’m gonna--

There’s a knock on the front door. Shit!

“Mulder?”

**“Ooh! This is *me*!”**

**“Yes, it was you, Scully.”**

**“So this explains--”**

**“Yeah, yeah. You knocked on the door and...”**

“Coming, Scully!” I scramble to get off the couch but my pants are down around my knees, so I yank them up and stuff myself into them. Owwww! The pain knocks me backward. I can’t quite zip my fly. “Use your key, Scully.” Shit, shit, shit, the Hindenburg won’t deflate, so I grab a pillow and cover my lap just as Scully walks around the corner.

“Mulder, you look flushed. Do you have a fever?”

All doctor-like, she removes her coat and comes to stand beside the couch. She places a cool palm on my sweaty forehead. “You feel warm. Pupils are dilated. Your pulse is racing. Do you feel sick to your stomach?”

“I could vomit right now.”

“Maybe I should drive you to the hospital.”

“No, no, no. I’m not *that* sick. Honest.”

“Mulder, Creutzfeldt-Jacob’s disease is nothing to...” She stares at the crumpled tissues dotting the floor around the coffee table. “Is your nose running?”

“Uh...could be.” I feel like such a cad. She’s obviously concerned about me while I’ve been wanting to boink the bejesus out of her.

She eyeballs the pillow in my lap. “I think I see what’s going on here.”

“You do?” 

“Yes. You’re exhausted. You need a good night’s sleep.”

“You have no idea.”

“Lucky for you, I have the perfect remedy.”

I doubt she’s thinking what I’m thinking. “Really?”

“A glass of warm milk with a shot of whiskey. It was Grandma Scully’s answer to everything that ails you. Got any whiskey?”

“I think there’s a beer in the fridge.”

“Maybe I should’ve asked if you have milk.”

“Better check the date on the carton.”

She wrinkles her nose, and heads for the kitchen.

“Will you stay while I drink it?” I ask.

“I’ll do better than that,” she calls from the kitchen. I zip up my pants before she looks around the doorframe and says, “I’ll stay until you fall asleep.”

True to her word, Scully brings me a warm cup of Grandma’s famous sleeping potion, she sits with me, and I fall asleep. We both live happily ever after -- more or less -- because I realize it isn’t Grandma Scully’s magic potion or Dr. Sleepless’ advice or even boinking the bejesus out of my partner that allows me to drift off into dreamland; it’s having my very best friend in the whole wide universe get out of bed in the middle of the night, drive all the way over from Georgetown to sit with me until I fall asleep, just because she cares about me.

* * *

“Scully, you’re not smiling.”

“Something about your story bothers me.”

“The fact that I lied to you?”

“No, not that particularly.”

“The fact that I wanted to boink the bejesus out of you?”

“Nuh-uh.”

“Then what?”

“I can’t believe you didn’t see me as a potential lover until 1995.”

“Scully, I was attracted to you the first time we met. I fantasized about you lots of times before the Chaco Chicken incident.”

“Then why...?”

“It wasn’t until after we returned from Arkansas that I felt I had the slightest chance of scoring...you know...for real.”

“Why then?”

“Because, because of the way you looked at me when I rescued you.”

“My hero.”

“Exactly.”

Our Town

“Well, Sir Mulder, how can this damsel repay you for saving her life?”

A lap dance? A slurpy soixante-neuf? I don’t suppose you’d masturbate?”

I’m willing to try anything you’d like. Just name it, my love. Your wish is my command.”

goldfish


Mulder awakened alone, and in darkness.

For a moment, as he fought his way towards a muzzy consciousness, he wondered if it had all been a dream -- just another of the half-waking fantasies that had sustained him during the dark, lonely months when he and Scully had been apart. He'd gone to bed each night worrying about her and Will, and wishing he could be with them, and greeted each new day with the same thoughts hovering around the corners of his mind.

So maybe it had all been a dream. Maybe their unexpected reunion on Christmas Eve had never happened. That would be good, right? That would mean that all the rest of it -- the invasion, the war, the brutality, the death -- none of it had happened, either. And wouldn't that be better?

He reached full wakefulness before he had to answer that question, and by then, he knew it wasn't so. This wasn't the cold, lonely bed he'd made do with in Boise, nor the one in Pierre, or in Birmingham. It wasn't even the overstuffed featherbed he'd lucked onto in Bar Harbor. God, the dreams he'd had in *that* bed. If only Scully had been there --

But she hadn't, and that was that. More importantly, she was *here*, somewhere in the apartment. *Their* apartment -- the new one that they'd picked out as their home, now that the war was finally won. Or at least over.

Mulder grimaced, shook his head and rolled out of bed.  No time for such thoughts now. They had 48 hours for their honeymoon -- less than that, now, although since it was still dark out, that meant it wasn't yet Sunday morning. But he didn't intend to waste a single moment.  He pulled on his discarded boxers and went looking for her.

He found her in the living room, standing at the window, looking out at the darkened city. She was wearing his dress shirt, the one she'd pulled off him so insistently a few hours before. He paused for a moment and let himself admire her, his gaze raking across the shadowy curves made visible by the dim illumination of the streetlights.

She knew he was there, of course. He could tell by the set of her shoulders and the slight tilt of her hips. Yes, she knew he was there, and she was waiting. Was she ... was she actually *posing* for him?

He shook his head and smiled, and moved forward into the room, until he stood directly behind her, his hands finding a natural resting place on her hips. She shifted her weight so that she was leaning back against him, and she rubbed the back of her head against his bare chest.

"I had to get up to go to the bathroom," she said, her voice very soft.  "I stuck my head in to check on Will, and he wasn't there. For just a second ...."

"He's with your mother," Mulder replied, when her voice trailed off. He remembered his own momentary confusion upon waking, and suppressed a small shiver. He dipped his head to place a soft kiss behind her ear.  "He's safe."

"I know." She turned in his semi-embrace, and the brilliant smile she gave him seemed to light the room. "I realized it almost immediately. Then I came out here for a glass of water, and got distracted by the city ... and now here you are."

"And now here we are," he agreed. He prodded her toes with his. She smiled again, and carefully stepped up onto his insteps, maintaining her balance by grasping his upper arms, while he tightened his own grip on her hips.

"Are we going somewhere?" she asked, her voice tinged with amusement, as he began to walk backwards, step by slow step, singing as he went.

"Back to back, belly to belly ... Well I don't give a damn 'cause I've done that already ... Back to back, belly to belly ... At the Zombie Jamboree."

Scully was smiling, sliding her arms up to loop them around his neck, and moving her hips in rhythm to his song. He took another uneven step. The sofa was back there somewhere ... he craned his neck, trying to spot it --

They toppled over backwards in an abrupt cataract of arms and legs and laughter. Somehow, Mulder managed to hold on to Scully, and when the sudden flurry abated, he found himself lying on his back, with Scully sprawled out on top of him.

"Well that was exciting," she said. "But I think the Kingston Trio will sleep soundly tonight." She wiggled against him, trying to get comfortable, and making him distinctly *un*comfortable in the process. Her hair, tousled and disheveled from their earlier activities, hung down around her face like a curtain. She leaned down to kiss him and it enclosed them both, a small, intimate sanctuary.

Their mouths separated at last, but rather than return to the outer world, Mulder nuzzled her cheek, dragging his lips along her jaw line and inhaling deeply. She smelled of Scully and sex, the most intoxicating combination imaginable, and he closed his eyes and took another breath.

"You smell goooood," he murmured.

"Really."

She suddenly shifted her weight, pulling back a little and propping her elbows on his rib cage, and Mulder didn't have to open his eyes to know that she was giving him the eyebrow. But he opened them anyway.

- - - - - - - - - -

Go to Part 2: "MEPHITIS MEPHITICA" by Brandon D. Ray