Rating: NC-17 (adult situations and graphic sexual descriptions)
Classification: MSR; RST; Post-Ep for "Space"; AU
Spoilers: "Space"; small ones for "Lazarus" and "Rain King"
Summary: One down-to-earth woman. One man with his head in the clouds. A romance made in heaven? Fate is in the stars.
Disclaimer: Do these characters really belong to Chris Carter, FOX and 1013 Productions? If so, no copyright infringement intended. Fun, yes. Profit, no.
Author's Notes: Written for Fandomonium's Virtual Season of Smut Challenge (Season One). Special thanks to xdksfan and mimic117 for beta.
Stranger on the Shore [mp3]
by aka "Jake"
Twin envelopes arrived in the office mail. Thick, expensive looking. Inside are virgin-white cards with pearl borders and the promise of eternal love.
Michelle Anne Generoo
David Michael Bridges
request the honor of your presence
at their marriage
on Saturday, the Third of December
Nineteen Hundred and Ninety-Three
at six o'clock in the evening
Royal Resort Chapel
2020 Oceanfront Avenue
Cocoa Beach, Florida
"You're going?" Scully asks, incredulous to see Mulder check the "will attend" line on his RSVP card.
"Cocoa Beach is spitting distance from the Kennedy Space Center, and with connections like this," -- he waves the invitation at her -- "maybe I can wangle a ride in a KSC zero-G simulator. Interested in experiencing the thrill of weightlessness, Scully?"
She has no desire to be launched into the upper atmosphere in a modified Boeing just to experience thirty seconds of free fall, but Mulder is nothing if not persuasive, so she too ultimately commits to attending Michelle and David's nuptials.
* * *
"Your partner invited you to a wedding?" Maggie's tone is pitched an octave above mere curiosity. She scrubs flecks of yam from a casserole dish. The aroma of roasted turkey lingers in the overly hot kitchen. Out in the living room, the Scully men jeer when the Miami Dolphins unexpectedly surge ahead of the Dallas Cowboys.
"I was invited by the bride and groom, Mom, not Mulder." Scully wipes a platter with a sodden dish towel. "Michelle is a mission control communications commander for the space shuttle program. David is an astronaut. Mulder and I met them earlier this month while investigating a case in Houston."
Concern hums in Maggie's throat. She subscribes to the commonly held notion that the act of accompanying someone to a wedding carries romantic significance.
Ridiculous in this case. Marriage proposal, one night stand -- the chance of either is nil, which suits Scully fine. She isn't looking for office romance. Not again. Her misguided affair with Jack Willis three years ago taught her that life gets too complicated when colleagues become emotionally involved.
She trades her wet towel for a clean, dry one. "Just because we're going to a wedding together doesn't mean we're 'going together,' if you know what I mean."
"From what you've told me, Mulder sounds like a perfectly nice man."
"He is a nice man."
"I suppose. In a geeky sort of way. You missed a spot." Scully scrapes baked-on pumpkin from a pie plate. "Mulder isn't my type, Mom."
Maggie frowns and mops the counters with her sponge, finds a stray spoon and drops it in the sink. "What are you going to wear?"
"My beige suit."
"Dana! You said it was an evening reception."
"You need something formal, floor-length."
"I don't own a gown."
Maggie pulls the plug in the sink and water gurgles down the drain. "Stores open early tomorrow."
* * *
Eight days later, Scully is dressed in a midnight blue, floor-length gown with a strapless bodice that pinches her waist and shows just the right amount of cleavage. Mission Specialist Ted Altman is steering her around the dance floor to the strains of Bobby Beem and the High Tides. Sky blue helium balloons, crepe paper streamers and a galaxy of shimmering stars decorate the ceiling above the shallow stage. The Royal Resort Country Club is packed with officers in uniform. A rotating disco ball splashes glitter across the walls, creating a miniature, spinning Milky Way, which makes Scully feel off balance despite Ted's sturdy embrace.
Like most of his fellow astronauts, Ted is compact and physically fit, sandy-haired and tan. His confident smile gleams. Scully imagines he is as appealing out of his dress whites as in them.
She hopes to know for certain sometime later tonight.
"How does the cardiovascular system react in a weightless environment?" There's a girlish lilt to Scully's voice. She's feeling like a NASA groupie, although she has never shared Mulder's hero-worship of space jockeys.
She wonders how many times the words "I’m a big fan, it’s an honor to meet you, you were an inspiration to me when I was a kid" will gush from Mulder's mouth tonight. The men in this room have gone where he can only dream of going, and he is star struck in the truest sense.
Scully's fantasies, on the other hand, are much more down to earth.
Ted smells like fresh sea breezes and surf-washed sand. "Blood moves from the lower body toward the heart and head. It's called headward fluid shift." His answer is ripe with sexual overtones.
"That would cause central venous pressure to drop and subsequent heart enlargement."
"Yes, but only temporarily. As soon as the body senses the artificial increase in blood volume, it works to eliminate the excess fluid."
"Which makes the heart shrink."
"Exactly. It takes only a couple of days. After returning to Earth, the heart has to work extra hard to pull blood up to the brain against the force of gravity." Ted's sandpaper jaw grazes her cheek as he whispers in her ear, "I'm feeling a little like that right now, Dana."
His fingers stroke her spine, leaving jet trails of heat and the promise of further intimacy.
She is just about to invite him back to her motel when Mulder appears at her side. Tugging her elbow, he mumbles something about the late hour and a nature program about wolf packs on cable television that he doesn't want to miss.
Ted's arm remains looped around her waist. "I can take the lady home," he offers.
Mulder bristles. His hand claims Scully's lower back. He is canus lupis, alpha male, scent marking, displaying dominance, guarding his mate from the attentions of the other wolves.
He stares Ted down. His tone is as unbending as ferrocarbon titanium. "She came here with me and she's leaving with me."
It's the most clichéd line Scully has heard since high school, but her stomach somersaults and she finds herself trailing Mulder to the car without protest.
* * *
A toy-sized shuttle, purchased by Mulder at the Kennedy Space Center's gift shop earlier in the day, vibrates atop the rental car's dash as he drives north along Route A1A. Scully is slouched in the passenger seat, her gown creased and twisted about her legs. A waxing moon lurks in the velvety, midnight sky outside her window. It seems to follow them like the half-closed eye of God...or a speeding UFO. Its beam speckles the breakers offshore and slicks the beach like quicksilver.
"Orpheus Theory posits that a rogue planet, one to three times the size of Mars, collided with Earth, knocking it off kilter twenty-three and a half degrees." Mulder's grin exposes a boyish exuberance that is customarily buried beneath the weight of the world. His fingers tap-dance on the steering wheel, reminding Scully of Ted's beguiling caresses. "Chunks of mantle were blasted into space and the debris formed a ring around Earth that later coalesced into the moon. Dr. William Hartman and Dr. Donald Davis published the theory in 1975. It was largely ignored until 1984. Now it's accepted as the most plausible scenario. Imagine the moon fifteen times closer than it is now, Scully, appearing fifteen times as large. It's still pulling away, you know. Someday -- albeit not in our lifetimes -- it'll break free from Earth's gravitational pull altogether and drift off into outer sp--"
"You interrupted my dance."
Mulder's fingers stop drumming. "Excuse me?"
"At the reception. You interrupted my dance."
The dash lights paint his fading smile green. "Flash Gordon was mauling you."
"I can take care of myself." She is twenty-nine years old. She's carrying a loaded Sig Sauer and a pack of condoms in her purse. "Did it ever enter your mind I might be in the mood to be mauled?"
He squints at her. "How much have you had to drink?"
"One glass of champagne. Four hours ago."
He considers this for a moment, then hits the brakes and swerves to the shoulder, rocking her hard into the door. He shoves the gearshift into park. Fiddles with the radio dial. When he finds a station of romantic standards, he adjusts the volume upward, then quickly exits the car. He is opening her door before she has managed to unbuckle her seatbelt.
"Mulder, what are you doing?"
"You wanted to dance. We're going to dance."
He offers his hand.
"Here? In the middle of..." She surveys the empty road, the deserted beach. Miles of sand and sea and not another living soul in sight.
The too-loud radio, Mulder's serious, unflinching stare and the seductive scent of the Atlantic persuade her to take his hand and abandon the car.
He draws her into the December night, several paces away from the car, which is still running, passenger door open, music muted by distance and crashing surf.
Sand shifts beneath her feet. Sparse, dry weeds catch the skirt of her gown. Mulder sheds his suit coat and drapes it over her shoulders to ward off the chill. The familiar scent of his antiperspirant floods her sinuses.
He poses for a waltz as "Stranger on the Shore" begins to play on the car radio.
"Ahh, perfect. Shall we?" His voice rumbles like the tide and his smile is devilishly genuine.
Her high heels are awkward in the sand, so she kicks them off. It leaves her a good nine to ten inches shorter than him, but she finds the difference remarkably unimportant when she slides into his embrace.
Heat radiates from his chest, warming her breasts each time she brushes against him. His silk tie tickles her cleavage when he draws her closer, hand to her back. She can feel his heartbeat through the thin fabric of his starched shirt. His pulse is rapid. She resists the urge to count the beats as he sways gently, barely moving his feet, perhaps afraid to step on her bare toes. Or maybe he's simply comfortable with the tranquil pace of the melody. His eyes are rapt and earnest as they rove from her nervous smile to her décolletage and back again. He chuckles, shameless, and she feels his laugh resonate against her breastbone, as honeyed as the notes of the clarinet. The vibration drips through her until she feels it, molten, in her womb, a pleasant fire that both stimulates and alarms her.
She nestles against the hollow of his shoulder, embarrassed to look him straight in the eye. Ocean waves surge on hard-packed sand and a billion stars wink overhead.
"Do you know the myth of Orpheus, Scully?" His breath scuffs the crown of her head. The humid sea air is pulling her hair loose from its chignon, curling it furiously around her ears and neck.
"You just said it was a widely accepted scientific theory."
"Not Orpheus the meteor. Orpheus the god."
"Oh." She's read Bulfinch; she knows her Greek Mythology. "Orpheus went to the lower world to bring back his dead wife Eurydice, who had been killed by the bite of a serpent. He played his lyre, which softened the heart of Pluto, who allowed Eurydice to return to earth."
"But there was a condition to this deal with the devil."
"Orpheus had to walk in front of Eurydice and not look back until they reached the upper world."
"He was worried about her though and looked back."
"It cost him. She vanished forever."
"I never liked that story."
She detects genuine sorrow in his tone. "Do you think about it often?"
"Orpheus did the responsible thing, yet he was punished for it. Does that sound right to you?"
"No, but..." What was his point?
"There have been times..." He collects her in both arms, rests his chin atop her head and hugs her possessively. His voice is fog-thin. "Lately...I've been worrying -- a little -- that I'll look back and find you gone."
She pulls away, far enough to search his eyes. All trace of his former boyish exuberance has disappeared.
His confession creates a surprising ache in her heart. She stands on tiptoe and does something unexpected: she kisses the cleft in his chin.
Evidently it is all the encouragement he needs. His head dips for a real kiss. The persuasive, wet slide of his tongue along her lower lip ignites her ardor, like a spark to rocket fuel. Against her better judgment, she opens her mouth, lets him in.
She is astonished to find herself kissing him this way. Or at all. He is her head-in-the-clouds partner. He scoffs at her science. He believes in the existence of extraterrestrials.
He is not her type.
And they are colleagues.
Her fingers plow into his silky hair. His suit coat tumbles from her shoulders and lands somewhere on the sand behind her.
When he seizes her left breast, she arches into his palm and thinks she must have lost her mind. It's clear where this is heading. She should stop. Pick up her shoes. Get back in the car. Pretend they never came to this deserted beach and made out like two horny teenagers.
Pretend she isn't enjoying it.
Nipping at his neck, she catches the skin of his Adam's apple between her teeth. His knee nudges her thighs apart. She hears him draw down the zipper of her dress. The bodice of her gown loosens, falls open, and her breasts spill out.
She doesn't try to cover them. She wants him to ogle her.
What the hell is she thinking?
"Lift your skirt," he urges, panting against her ear.
If she does as he asks, it'll be Jack Willis all over again.
The fabric is as unmanageable as a cumulus cloud. She gathers fists-full and raises the hem to mid-thigh, high enough for him to snake his hands underneath. He targets the waistband of her panties and drags them from her hips, down past her quaking thighs and knees. She steps out of them just as he hoists her off her feet.
She must be moonstruck, because she wraps her arms around his neck and her legs about his waist. Their mouths fuse. He cradles her in one arm while he fumbles with his belt buckle.
They're going to do it. They are going to cross the line, move from being just partners to being bedmates. Except there's no bed and this liaison might not last any longer than her affair with Jack. It might not last beyond tonight.
She's willing to take the chance. She likes Mulder. He is worried about losing her.
And he's a great kisser.
A switch has been flicked somewhere. It's the only explanation. The person who was just her partner this morning is suddenly the only person she can imagine being with.
Her mother would chalk it up to the wedding. Scully's more apt to blame hormones and a long dry spell in her sex life.
Mulder would say fate is in the stars.
"Shit." He stops his struggle with his belt. Frustration creases his brow; desperation gleams in his eyes. "I don't have a condom."
"Is that strange?"
Unsure if his gaping mouth indicates gratitude or incredulity, she pins her gown to her chest with an open palm. "You want me to get one or not?"
"I do. Yes. Yes, I do."
I do -- the two words that brought them here in the first place.
"Put me down so I can get my purse."
He eases her to the sand and she rushes to the car.
Her purse is on the floor. She grabs it and dumps the contents onto the seat. Snatching a foil packet, she turns to find Mulder waiting behind her. He smiles, corrals her with one arm and walks her around the door, then lifts her onto the car's hood, where she sits and watches him tear the package open with his teeth. His trousers are tented at the fly. She flushes with anticipation.
Thunderous waves slap the shore, crawl up the beach and seep into the sand. The coastline is pearlescent and slick in the moonlight. Mulder hikes up her skirt, bunching it in her lap. She is caressed by cool night air and the fire of his touch. Positioned between her splayed thighs, he eclipses the moon.
She wants this. She wants him.
When he is ready, he makes one false attempt, off center, the motion painfully incomplete. He tries again and is suddenly inside her, pushing, sliding deeper.
She's heard it is possible for gravity to tear a planet or moon apart, if it passes within the distance known as the Roche Radius of another body. The hijacked satellite can break into dust, which will then orbit the planet like the gossamer rings of Saturn.
Scully has strayed inside Mulder's Roche Radius. Drawn inexorably toward him by a gravitational pull too powerful to challenge, she feels ripped in two. She is breaking into fragments.
The free fall is heavenly. She is weightless. Floating.
She moans. Rides out her orgasm. Starts to breathe again.
"Zero gravity in under twenty seconds, Scully. And no KSC simulator necessary." Mulder chuckles, obviously proud of himself.
"See if you can do it again, flyboy."
He hums with apparent satisfaction and begins to pump more earnestly. She loves the way his hands clutch her hips and his gaze flickers to her jostling, bare breasts. She braces herself with stiffened arms as he thrusts; her fingers scramble to grasp the car's hood.
The pressure between her legs soon ignites a second blaze of passion. The crash of surf, the radio, Mulder's ragged breaths fade away as a blissful tremor balloons in her belly. It radiates outward, ripples through her torso, numbs her limbs. She feels as if she is at the center of a supernova.
His movements become more forceful, more frantic. He loses his timing, but it doesn't matter because the world is spinning and he is ejaculating with a teeth-clenching growl that ricochets down the beach. When his thrusts stop, a bead of sweat, lit by the moon, drips from the end of his nose and is absorbed by her satin skirt.
"I guess you weren't kidding when you said you wanted to be mauled," he says, chest heaving from exertion.
He steadies himself by hanging on to her.
"Told you so."
The night air cools her flushed skin. She is reminded of Ted's explanation of the effect of weightlessness on the cardiovascular system.
As if reading her mind, Mulder says, "Sorry I dragged you away from Flash."
"This is going to complicate our lives." His breathing is returning to normal.
She strokes his face.
He is a handsome man, by any standards.
She hopes she is wrong about office romances, because there is no going back. They have collided. Orpheus and Earth. She orbits Mulder like the moon.
Getting involved with him is likely to be as bumpy and dangerous and thrilling a ride as a zero-G flight through the upper atmosphere in a modified Boeing. She reaches for him, wraps her arms tightly around him, and hangs on.
She is ready.
"Ask me to dance again, Mulder."