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She knew she had to end it. It had happened six times now. Six incredible, mind-blowing times. The first time she thought it had only been so good because it had been so long since she’d had sex, or even been touched by a man. But when each subsequent time was better and better, she knew it was just them. Their insane chemistry, their years-long unresolved sexual tension, the deeply intimate way they knew one another. It should have been no surprise that the sex was mind-numbly good. Masturbate the next day thinking about it good. Forget to go at a green light because you’re remembering it good. Do it 5 more times because you simply can’t stop yourself good.

But it was only going to end badly. She knew that her feelings for Mulder were far beyond the realm of friendship, or partnership, or even love. She was bound to him by her very soul, so in love with him that she would sooner die alone than consider being with anyone else. As far as she knew, Mulder cared for her deeply but wasn’t interested in anything more than friendship. Well, friendship with benefits, perhaps, given recent developments. The longer she let this go on, the more it would hurt when she realized that she would never have him, not really.

She’d asked him over tonight, and she knew by the way he responded that he took it to be a booty call. She wondered how much worse it would make things if she had sex with him one more time before cutting him loose. No. No, she couldn’t do that.

His knock was rapid, giving away his excitement at being here, and she felt a little bad that he was coming over expecting sex and was instead going to leave having been forcibly shoved back into celibacy. She opened the door to find him in jeans and a black T shirt, a playful smile on his face.

“Hey,” he greeted her warmly, reaching out to cup her elbows, pulling her closer.

She dropped her arms away from her torso, breaking his grasp. “Mulder, sit down. We need to talk.”

He quirked his head quizzically, his smile falling into a confused pout. “Okay…”

He sat heavily on the couch, eyeing her nervously as she came around to sit next to him. Not as far away as possible, but also not quite close enough to touch. She swallowed hard and then launched into her prepared speech, eyes on the lamp behind his shoulder and hands fidgeting nervously in her lap.

“Mulder, listen. Whatever has been going on, between us…it needs to stop. It’s been…nice…it’s been great, but it’s just not…I just don’t think it’s a good idea. We work together, and I care about you, so much, and I just don’t see how this is going to end up anywhere but…bad. With us no longer being friends. And I don’t want that, so, it needs to stop.”

She chanced a look at his face and it was knit with confusion, eyebrows pulled and mouth upturned in doubt.

“What…why do you think it would only end badly, Scully? What makes you so sure of that?” He turned to the side so he was fully facing her, draping his arm across the back of the couch. How did he seem so relaxed right now? Smug bastard.

“Mulder, I don’t judge how you…conduct your personal affairs. But for me, sex means something and I’m really not the kind of person to just casually sleep with someone who I’m not in a relationship with. I think I’d eventually just end up getting hurt, through no fault of your own, it’s just…not a compatible situation.”

He turned away from her and leaned forward, bracing his elbows on his knees. He was thinking about what she’d said, thinking about it very hard, it seemed. Staying in his hunkered down posture, he turned his head to look at her.

“So just to be sure I understand, you believe that this is just casual sex for me, and you don’t want casual sex, so you think we should stop doing it?”

She nodded. “More or less, yes.”

He turned his head back so that he was looking at the floor between his knees, and began to speak.

“You know that ‘find your inner self’ seminar I went to a few weeks ago? The one you refused to go to with me to on the basis that it was, and I quote ‘woo woo hippie dippy mumbo jumbo’? Well, you were right that it was a bunch of whacky new age bullshit, even for me, but there was this one exercise where they asked us a bunch of questions that were supposed to get us tapping into our memories or something. “

He kept this head down and she listened raptly with a horrified expression. Where on Earth was he going with this?

“They asked about a lot of negative memories and those were mostly around Samantha and my parents, but then they asked us a bunch of questions like ‘what’s the event that made you the happiest in your life?’ and ‘think of a time you felt a true sense of contentment’ and I started to realize that all my good memories were with you. And this one question in particular was ‘what was a moment that you felt so much joy that you wished you could bottle it up?’ And I immediately thought about that case in Carson City a month or two ago, you remember that?”

He glanced at her and she nodded softly.

“There was that sheriff who was like a caricature of a small town cop with an underbite and a ten-gallon hat, and that ridiculous fake accent. We had just gotten back to the hotel after a complete waste of a day and you were in a shitty mood, understandably, and I was trying to make you laugh.”

She smiled a little recalling his Herculean efforts to make her laugh, and how she’d resisted for as long as possible, which just encouraged him.

“So I started doing an impression of the sheriff, and it was either very good or very bad because you started laughing hysterically, and you actually fell over on the bed clutching your stomach, and you had tears running down your face, and you were begging me to stop because you were going to pee your pants.”

He was smiling down at the floor, but he turned then and looked at her, his smile fading into something more serious. She was caught off guard by the intensity in his eyes and her own smile dropped in anticipation of…she didn’t know what yet.

“And at that moment, I thought ‘wow, I love her.’ That wasn’t the moment I realized that I was in love with you, that actually happened when you told me you had cancer. But I knew that I could never be what you needed, I could never be enough for you, so I just accepted that it was a reality of my life that I’d be in love with you and we’d be friends, and nothing more. But when you were laughing like that, I had this realization that maybe I could actually make you happy. Maybe I could be enough.”

He sat back up now, turning to face her but keeping his hands in his lap. Her eyes were wet, lips parted and breath shallow as she tried to orient herself to what he was saying.

“So, I’m sorry that I somehow gave you the impression that this was casual for me. This could not possibly be any less casual for me, and I think if anyone’s likely to get hurt in this situation, it’s me. If you still want to end this, we will, but it won’t be because I wasn’t interested in anything more.”

Her lip quivered as she felt hot tears spilling down her cheeks. How had she gotten it so wrong? She leaned forward and he opened his arms to her, pulling her into an embrace while he placed kissed on her forehead and cheeks, and finally her mouth, kissing her chastely over and over, peppering her with affection.

“Mulder?”

He hummed as he continued his constellation of kisses anywhere he could find exposed skin.

“Take me to bed,” she breathed huskily.

He lifted his head to look at her. “So you don’t want to stop, then?” He asked, just a hint of playfulness in his tone.

“God no,” she growled, and he carried her into her bedroom while they both laughed.