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The swift clack of Scully’s heels echo off the third floor’s marble finish. Agitation swims through her veins, her mind racing. 

As she weaves her way through the third floor’s bustling hallway, several agents she barely recognizes smile her way, tossing out a respectful nod. She frowns. The notion that these same agents would toss everything but respect her way if she was with Mulder is not lost on her. 

“Agent Scully,” the familiar woman with kind eyes and a welcoming wave greets as she enters the cozy office. “I’m glad you could make it.”

Scully offers a tight-lipped smile and lowers herself onto the soft cushioned seat. “Hello, Dr. Kosseff.”

“So, it’s our last required session together. Anything specific you’d like to talk about today?” Dr. Karen Kosseff grabs her notepad and crosses her legs, waiting patiently. Scully doesn’t respond right away. Her knee bounces anxiously beneath her skirt and she can’t seem to stop fidgeting. “Whenever you’re ready, Dana.”

Scully looks up, meeting the eyes of the woman she’s come to trust implicitly. “Well, it all started when Mulder got called to assist VCU…”

 

“Yes, sir,” Mulder continues to nod with the office phone propped against his shoulder, his well-worn wingtips resting atop the desk. “I understand that, but Violent Crimes?”

Scully shakes her head. He’s cute when he whines, though she’ll never admit it aloud. She assumes Mulder’s being beckoned by the higher ups to work a difficult case. The idea of being separated bothers her more than it should since her cancer has gone into remission. Though she knows he finds the prospect of being pulled away from the basement less than appealing, her partner is brilliant. And everyone in the bureau knows it. 

“And who’s running the profile now?” Mulder flings a freshly sharpened pencil over his head and watches it sink into the ceiling above. Then she sees it: Mulder freezes at Skinner’s response, letting his feet fall to the floor. “Agent Holmes? Is that Special Agent Andy Holmes, sir?”

Scully arches a brow, curious.

“Yeah, okay, I’ll be here,” Mulder says before returning the phone to its cradle. “Well, Scully, no monster hunting this week. Skinner has officially handed me off to VCU.”

She frowns. Mulder profiling is, at times, beyond the realm of comprehension. He’s just that good, but the prospect of him lurking too long within the minds of merciless men makes her nervous. 

“To profile, I take it?”

“I know what you’re thinking, but I won’t be profiling alone,” he assuages, shockingly cheerful. “I um, I’ll be working the case with an old friend. I had a partner for a brief time back when I first joined Violent Crimes who actually made working under Patterson bearable.”

“Oh,” Scully swallows. A spark of territoriality always seems to flare within her when Mulder refers to past partners. “So you two decided to part ways?”

“Uh, no,” Mulder begins stacking papers and straightening up his space. “Andy took a promotion out of state six months after we started working together. We’ve kept in touch over the years, especially if a suspected serial case popped up.”

“Andy,” she mumbles. Mulder’s inclination to use last names must have come after his profiling stint. “And you’re on loan starting now?”

He nods, snagging his suit jacket from the back of his chair. “Andy will be down any minute, then we’re off.”

Scully has never seen Fox Mulder so animated, so eager to work with another agent before. He’s practically giddy. She can’t help but prickle at the sight.

She pushes away. “I suppose I’ll have plenty of time to catch up on my reading without you here to distract me.” 

His mouth twitches. The fidgeting with his polka dot tie increases, and something shifts in his demeanor - a stiffness straightening his spine. She's not exactly surprised at his hesitance. Still riding on the coattails of her cancer, Mulder’s been more clingy than usual. 

She sips at her coffee, eying him over the rim of her mug. Mulder’s mug, she realizes. Not that it matters, what’s his is hers. They share just about everything these days - scars, cars, reprimands, hospital rooms. Everything except a bed, Scully muses sheepishly. 

Or a sleeping bag… A blush warms her cheeks that she promptly ignores.

“Something wrong, Mulder?”

He shrugs. “It’s just that Andy can be a bit… much.”

“I think I’ve had plenty of practice with ‘much’, Mulder. He can’t be that bad,” she says as the elevator’s door dings down the hall.

Mulder moves around the desk as footfalls clack across the concrete. “We profilers aren’t revered for our simplicity, Scully.”

“Simplicity is boring,” a smooth voice announces from the doorway. “Fox Mulder, it’s been far too long.”

Scully spins around, her stomach flipping. 

“Sherlock,” Mulder says with a grin. “As I live and breathe.”

The friend whom Mulder is so excited to see is not a “he” at all.

Special Agent Andy Holmes is a woman. And she’s beaming, barely two inches shorter than Mulder with big breasts, brown hair and eyes that shine. The clear round glasses that rest along her defined cheekbones make her freckles glow like gold under the basement lights. 

She’s adorable. 

A tightness twists in Scully’s chest.

“And here you are after all these years, living and breathing without me.” Agent Holmes reaches out and slings her silk covered arms around Mulder, sucking him into an exuberant hug. “And don’t call me Sherlock in front of your partner,” she smirks. 

Mulder chuckles fondly, finally untangling their long limbs. “Profiling with Holmes for a last name is almost as bad as having Fox as a first.”

“Fox suits you just fine,” the agent teases. And it’s so natural, so easy, the way they speak to one another that it jars Scully from her stupor. 

“Agent Holmes,” Scully steps forward, hand aloft, “I’m Agent-”

“Agent Scully, of course! And please, call me Andy.” Agent Holmes leans in enough for the lace of her bra to kiss the sexy swoop of her neckline. It’s red and sheer, some ridiculously expensive thing that comes with barely-there matching panties, no doubt. Scully blinks back unbidden animosity and squeezes the woman’s hand. “It’s wonderful to meet you, Dana.”

“Likewise,” Scully lies. And for a moment, she thinks she sees a flicker of recognition in the woman’s eyes. 

Holmes turns to elbow Mulder. “I wish we could stay and chat, but…”

“A killer calls,” he reluctantly agrees, then reaches out to squeeze Scully’s shoulder. “Skinner owes us one. Jot that down, G-woman.”

Then he’s gone, following his “friend” out the door with a hand to her lower back.

 

“And their familiarity upset you.” It’s a statement, the question irrelevant. It’s why Scully’s talking about it in the first place. Dr. Kosseff continues to jot down notes of her own. Her ballpoint pen scratches smoothly across paper when she asks, “How do you feel about Special Agent Holmes?”

“I don’t know her.” Scully states, but her quiet anguish doesn’t go unnoticed. 

“Is it fair to assume you could be too close to the situation to make a sound judgment about her, or what her relationship means to Agent Mulder?”

Scully can’t disagree. Her own relationship with Mulder is personal. It’s important. The most important one of her life. She can’t deny that and Mulder wouldn’t either. 

Dr. Kosseff taps the end of her pen at her lip, waiting.

Scully’s shoulders slump. “Mulder says they’re old friends. And they have a… rapport. An ease that I’ve never seen him share with anyone before.”

“Anyone else, you mean?”

“I’m sorry?”

“Dana, do you believe you and Agent Mulder share a special connection unlike any other?”

“We’ve been through a lot together.” Scully shifts in her seat. “We’re close friends… best friends.”

She nods thoughtfully. “And neither of you actively date, in or outside of the bureau?”

Scully scoffs, feeling an ache at the thought. “I don’t know what Mulder does when he’s not with me, other than ditching me to break into governmental facilities. Oh, please don’t write that down.”

“Consider it forgotten,” Dr. Kosseff chuckles and leans forward. “I’d like you to think very hard about what I say next, though. Think about it, and that’s all.”

The older woman’s dark eyes are soft, but a pensive crease forms above them. Scully knows that whatever comes next is going to be raw and honest, and she isn’t sure she wants to hear it. 

But she agrees anyway.

“I’d like for you to try, really try to think about what a life might be like without Fox Mulder in it.” No doubt Scully’s panicked expression urges Dr. Kosseff to try again. “Not in a physical sense, Dana, but an emotional one. Could you see yourself leaning on another person the way you’ve leaned on him? Could you talk to someone else in the middle of the night and not wish it was your partner?”

The possibility that any of that can become reality is a daunting one. 

“I don’t know,” she whispers, fighting rising emotion. “I don’t think I want to.” 

Then Scully gasps, recalling herself saying those exact words to Mulder…

 

“Hey, Scully,” Mulder holds up a file their unwelcome third wheel had handed him. “You ever come across the mysterious case of possessed pigs in Pottsville, PA?”

“I don’t know,” Scully wipes away a spray of spittle from her cheek. “And I don’t think I want to.”

“Spoiler alert, pigs really can fly,” he winks. “Speaking of files, you have any other plans in mind this week besides balancing our budget?” 

Mulder’s hip keeps brushing along her arm as he sifts through the filing cabinet by her office chair, searching for an old case from his profiling years spent under Patterson’s thumb. She shivers. He smells so good, like fresh soap and sunflower seeds. 

Scully licks her lips. “Just another visit upstairs.” 

She wants to say she has a schedule stacked full of appointments and friendly phone calls, but the truth is the only person she plans to see has been forced upon her by Skinner. Mulder looks confused. Agent Holmes can’t stop looking in general - her eyes roaming around their office, scanning Scully’s rigid stance. 

“Labs?” he guesses while rolling up his sleeves. His tie is loose, shirt rumpled, hair askew - just the way she likes it.

“For my session with…” Scully glances at Mulder’s friend casually leaning along the wall now, unabashedly eavesdropping. “Dr. Kosseff,” she finishes softly. 

“Ah, of course.” Mulder’s smile is genuine. He would never look down on her for seeking out Dr. Kosseff’s support, especially if visits are mandated, such as this one, but she’s never opened up about speaking with a professional to anyone. And since her remission and return to work, the bureau requires her to have at least three mental health sessions with a licensed therapist. 

And Scully only trusts Karen Kosseff with her secrets. 

“Got it!” Mulder whips out the file and shakes off a layer of dust. “Told ya, we need housekeeping down here.”

“And who would you trust, Walter Skinner with a feather duster?” Agent Holmes jests.

And Scully can’t help it, she laughs, a barking chortle that bursts through her lips. She slaps a hand over her mouth to stifle whatever the hell might come out next. “Sorry,” she mumbles, aghast.

“Don’t be,” Mulder dismisses. Moments pass as he continues to stare at her flushed face, his mouth curled into a lopsided smile that’s beyond sexy. 

Then Scully blinks, breaking the spell that’s unwillingly cast upon them whenever they spend too much time apart. Agent Holmes clears her throat. Scully had almost forgotten she was still in the room.

“C’mon, Mulder, we’ve got the mind of a madman to dig through.”

“Another all-nighter,” Mulder groans as Holmes flicks his terrible tie and leaves with a swish of her hips. 

Scully’s eyes dart to her computer screen. 

“Sleep well, Scully,” he says, such unsuspected sweetness laced in his voice, but she can’t bring herself to respond without sarcasm.

The door’s soft click signaling his absence only precedes to mock her perpetual loneliness. So she snaches her jacket from the coatstand and sighs. Sleep is the last thing she expects for herself tonight.

 

“So then you went home?” Dr. Kosseff asks. 

Of course Scully went home, tossed together a simple salad, and ate it in front of her TV alone. Like always.

“Yes, I had some medical journals to catch up on.” She’s getting rather good at lying nowadays. Lying to her mother, to Mulder. “Kept me busy until bed.”

Maybe lying is exactly what Scully’s been doing to herself for far too long. 

The older woman arches her brow, blatantly scanning the dark marks that encircle Scully’s eyes. “But something’s kept you awake. What happened?”

Scully chews her lip and feels a hot flush rise up her neck. “Mulder happened…”

 

Scully can’t sleep. It’s been hours since she’d sat in the bath and soaked herself to a prune, trying not to imagine Mulder teasing Agent Holmes about their past with a bright fucking smile plastered to his pouty mouth. 

She rolls to her left, tosses to her right, then flips to her back in a huff.

Is he alone tonight? Scully can’t help but wonder. Or has adorable Andy Holmes charmed her way into both his head and his bed? Oh God, they could be having sex right now. Good sex, too, she assumes. Great sex, probably, knowing how caring and attentive Mulder can be. 

Scully clenches her eyes closed. Her stomach swoops as she reaches for her phone. Calling him weighs heavily on her mind, her finger hovering over the cell phone’s buttons.

Sure, she herself has had satisfying sex before, she supposes, but she never has truly made love. She's given her body, but never given her heart in the throes of passion. And she longs for it. Literally yearns for it - for him. She spends her nights longing for the one man who inhabits her every thought to be the one she gives it to. The one she can admit to unknowingly relinquishing it to long ago. 

“Jesus, Dana,” she berates herself. “Enough.”

This feels like Bambi all over again.

She stares at the eggshell ceiling of her bedroom for an hour before giving in and pressing speed dial 1. He answers on the first ring and sounds of creaking leather and trickling water from a fish tank gives away his location before she can even ask. 

“It’s me.” She cringes. “How’s the profile coming?”

She hears him huff. “Not where we want it just yet, but we’re close.”

“We?” Her voice sounds too needy for her liking. “You’re busy, sorry.”

“No, no. Andy just left.” He says it so casually it almost sounds like an afterthought. 

“Well, you must be tired. You should sleep,” she says, unable to shake the image of a shirtless Mulder with freshly kissed lips sprawled out on the leather that suddenly smells of sex. “I was just checking in to-”

“Scully,” he says softly, “I miss you too.”

She pulls the phone from her ear and smashes the END button before the butterflies in her belly send her swooning to the sky.

I miss you too. 

His words roll around her brain like a broken record.

I miss you too. 

“Too,” he’d said, presumptive and confident about it. Because yes, that damn man already knows she misses him. And she does, but God, she misses him in ways she hasn’t even had him before: his hands wound in her hair. His mouth on her breasts. His cock cleaving through her until she comes. 

She longs for all of it.

But as her fingers slip beneath her panties and slide through her silky folds, Scully can’t help wondering if Mulder longs for it, too. It’s useless, she recognizes, that anything other than her imagination and memory of her partner’s tender touch can make her come now. Nearly dying really puts things in perspective in the desire arena. So she thinks shamelessly only of him, fingers a blurring across her clit, head tossing against the pillow.

Sated with frustrated tears stinging her eyes, she hugs a pillow tight to her chest, resigning to the futility of forcing Fox Mulder from her heart.

 

Of course Scully omits the sordid details to Dr. Kosseff. Her face is flaming just thinking about it. Instead, she stumbles over her reply and picks nervously at her nails. 

“Dana, my advice to you is to talk to Mulder in person. Really talk, no phones between you. Be honest. And do it soon.”

Scully nods after several seconds of contemplation, silently agreeing she should speak with him. It’s a frightening thought, sitting in his apartment, telling him how she feels. But Dr. Kosseff is right. If Scully waits much longer, she knows exactly what will happen in the days to come: she’ll be shaky as she makes her way back down to the basement, the weight of her worries dragging her down. Her palms will be sweaty and her heart will pound with every clack of her heel. By the time she reaches the empty office and sinks heavily into her seat, her chest will be near bursting with animosity.

Then what will she see when her thoughts inevitably stay silent?

She’ll be agitated when Mulder and Holmes walk in as one. Hurt even, witnessing his hand palming someone’s back that isn’t hers. Hearing him eager to listen to someone else’s thoughts that differ from her own, basking in aligned ideals. She’ll hate him, she thinks, just a little. Just like when other women have wanted him enough to show it in front of her. Though she’s done nothing to claim him as her own. Nothing more than a failed attempt to woo him with wine and cheese while Mothmen danced in his head. 

But she’ll hate herself more if she says nothing at all.

“I know you mentioned Agent Mulder has been spending the week in the VCU department or out in the field, but have you seen him outside of the office you share together?” Dr. Kosseff gently prods for more, trying to pluck any earth-shattering information from Scully’s private humiliation. 

She understands the urge, since there’s a few things Scully has seen recently that she wishes could be plucked from her own brain.

“Once or twice…”

 

Scully joins the crowd of agents waiting for the elevator. She’s off to the side, squished behind several large men when the doors ding open. 

The car is full, yet a few brave souls push their way through. Scully sighs, resigned to wait for another one, when she sees them: Agent Holmes and Mulder speaking softly, their heads nearly touching. The unprompted intimacy is jarring. 

Mulder doesn’t see Scully’s wide-eyed expression. 

But Agent Holmes does, and she’s looking straight at her. Searching her face, as if she’s picking invisible pieces off of Scully and filing them away for later. Holmes waves her way, but Scully’s gaze catches on the woman’s buxom bustline, then flicks down to her own demure one.

Jesus Christ, is Scully envious of this too?

Suddenly the urge for her to rip open her blouse and show this woman the place inside where Mulder lives, buried in blood and bone and muscle, impossible to separate or remove is overwhelming. Scully wants her to see that no matter how different she and Mulder seem to be, they are tangled together in ways even science cannot explain. 

As quickly as the absurd notion strikes, it dissipates. 

Holmes says something to Mulder. Something witty and intelligent. Something that boggles the scientific mind, Scully’s certain. Because the grin Mulder gives Agent Holmes in return is positively radiant. 

Unwelcome tears sting behind Scully’s eyelids.

She supposes it was bound to happen sometime, some woman more brazen than she swooping in to stake a claim. She’s stalled in her recent pursuit and he sure as hell isn’t doing any pursuing of his own. A plethora of non-platonic activities Agent Holmes might be engaging her partner in slices scalpel sharp through Scully’s gut. 

She straightens her blouse and turns to take the stairs instead.

Perhaps she can piece together scraps of a social life without Mulder. Some non-life threatening existence alongside the tattered remains of her heart. But that might be out of the realm of extreme possibility these days.

Scully enters the basement alone. 

Her phone remains silent the rest of the night.

 

“And there’s more,” Scully continues to explain the details of her hellish week of witnessing Mulder and his sexy ex partner rekindle their friendship - or something more. “Mulder had called me the following morning and asked to meet me for lunch after his team conference with the case’s SAC. As flustered as I was, I agreed because-” She falters. 

The conversation she’d heard near the conference room has proved more upsetting than she cares to admit aloud.

“Because?”

“Well, I’ve missed him,” Scully says in a rush. “It’s not often we spend more than a few days apart. He’s been working hard on this profile, they both have, and I know that. I’m relieved he has capable help. But…”

“But you wish the help was coming from you,” Dr. Kosseff finishes truthfully.

Scully frowns. “It’s ridiculous, I know. And I may have reacted unfairly during our lunch after overhearing his conversation in the hall…”

 

Scully sits quietly inside the anteroom of Skinner’s office. A thick stack of budget reports for the X-Files department rests upon her lap. She shifts in her seat, examining a paper cut when she hears the distinct sound of Mulder’s voice just outside in the hallway. 

“Okay, okay, Italian food it is,” Mulder says. “You win.”

The sultry laugh of Agent Holmes floats through the doorway. “I always win, Mulder. That eidetic memory of yours will never forget it.”

“Unfortunately that’s true,” he quips, their voices fading down the hall. “But I’d never forget about tonight.”

“It’s a date,” Agent Holmes says, and Scully can tell she’s smiling.

A possessive surge hits her hard. They’re going on a date. Will they go to Mulder’s favorite Italian place? Will they have sex afterward? During? Have they had sex already?

Eyes narrowed, she stands and tosses the reports onto Arlene’s desk. Scully waits for the two of them to leave, her hands bracing the edge of the secretary’s desk. After a minute, she finds her way to the nearest bathroom and hunches herself over the sink. It feels like some sort of virus is sinking into her skin and claiming her body. It’s ironic how Mulder had tried so hard to cure her of her cancer, only for another woman to make her feel like it still exists.

Scully is jealous. She can fully admit it now. So much so that she’s shocked a verdant steam isn’t seeping from her pores. Ridiculous, she tells herself. 

She wrings her hands dry and fluffs her hair. She will meet Mulder for lunch because she said she would. She will eat her meal because she’s hungry. She will absolutely not think about her partner going on a date because it shouldn’t matter. It shouldn’t. 

But it does. It matters all the way through the bureau’s front doors, all the way to the diner, and in every moment in between.

“You’re staring,” Mulder says mildly. 

Scully blinks. She’s been distracted ever since she slid into the booth with him twenty minutes ago. “What?” 

He runs a hand across his mouth. “Do I have something on my face?” 

“Oh, no.” She’s annoyed, unable to resist watching how his fingertips drag across his plump pout. It’s irritatingly alluring. The likelihood that Agent Holmes has tasted what that mouth has to offer only aggravates her further. So she sips her lemon water and stares at the condensation well along the glass instead. “You’re fine.”

Mulder pops one, two spicy pickle chips into his mouth as he deconstructs the deluxe portion of his cheeseburger. “Scully?”

Scully sits stiffly, stewing as the vinaigrette soaks through her salad. “It’s nothing.”

Mulder shrugs to feign nonchalance while inhaling half a basket of fries. She feels his eyes rake across her skin the entire time. 

“Ya know, if you keep telling me it’s nothing, I’m gonna start to think it’s something,” he comments.

“God, Mulder! Don’t you have other more important things to think about?” she snipes, punctuating the end of the discussion with a mouthful of lettuce. 

His face falls and hurt pulls at her heartstrings.

She sighs and figures she can always go out and find someone to date herself if Mulder doesn’t want her the way she wants him. There has to be at least one respectable man in the greater DC area who hasn’t referred to her as Mrs. Spooky.

She leaves work after lunch, alone again, locking the office behind her. She knows Mulder won’t return tonight. Her hands ball into fists when she passes Mulder’s car still parked snugly next to hers. There’s a thin coat of dust layered across the windshield, as if he’s been riding home with someone else. It sure as hell hasn’t been with her. 

Her car keys carve dents in her palm. 

She feels the sting of it all the way home.

 

Scully shakes her head, confused and frustrated after all she’s confessed. “Sorry, this isn’t easy for me.”

“No need to apologize about your feelings, Dana. I’m sure these recent months have been difficult for you. Emotionally taxing at the very least.” No judgment comes from the woman Scully has poured her heart out to more often than her priest. Dr. Kosseff genuinely cares. “It’s good to utilize a listening ear.”

“I appreciate that.” And she does. It’s just aggravating to have so much to say and not enough confidence to say it. 

“But this week spent apart from your partner seems to have shone a light on how his attachments and potential love interests have affected your emotional well-being.”

Scully’s throat tightens. A good dose of truth is hard to swallow. Silence reigns until Dr. Kosseff breaks the stalemate. 

“May I be frank?” Scully’s taken aback by the urgency of the question, but she nods anyway. Somehow she knows she needs to hear this. “Dana, have you asked yourself if you’re willing to take the risk in not telling Mulder how you really feel about him? That if you don’t, he might not be emotionally available forever?”

Scully doesn’t bother to refute the assessment of a professional. Dr. Kosseff isn’t wrong. Dana Scully is in love with Fox Mulder. It’s become as simple and as complicated as breathing. 

Her mind wanders perilously through the minefield of maybes and what ifs. 

She’d thought, in the back of her mind - or maybe just wishful thinking - that his past behavior of possessiveness meant something. Something more than the spark of jealousy as another man monopolized her time. Something deeper than anger and overprotection when he’d brought her home from Philadelphia, bruises on her skin and fresh ink on her back. 

But now, she’s not so sure.

Scully pinches the bridge of her nose. “I don’t know.” 

“Do you know what it is that you want for yourself, Dana?”

“I don’t-” she starts, flustered. “I’m sorry but I don’t know what you want me to say.”

“That’s okay,” Dr. Kosseff tells her. “Close your eyes for me, just for a minute, and let me know when it comes to you.”

Scully sighs, shutting her eyes. She feels foolish. She’s thirty-three years old and can’t answer a simple goddamn question. But soon the quiet starts to soothe, the darkness calms. The clock on the wall clicks softly, like a pendulum lulling her into contemplation: what does she want?

She wants death defying thrills and peaceful domesticity. She wants to wield justice and protect and serve. She wants a home with a yard and a husband to have and to hold for as long as they both will live… She squirms in her seat, steeling herself for what she knows deep down will come next.

What Scully truly wants, what she’d kill and be killed for without second thought is the one thing, the one person she will never be happy without.

“Mulder.” Her eyes fly open. “I want Mulder.”

-

Scully climbs the steps of Hegal Place with her heart racing and head held high. She’d left the office of Dr. Kosseff in a rush, not willing to risk rethinking her decision to speak to her partner in person. The older woman had just smiled and given Scully’s hand an encouraging squeeze. 

Nerves bubble in her belly as she enters the building. But as her eyes catch on Mulder’s mailbox, she inhales, calming herself. Coming here to tell him how she feels in hopes of some sort of reciprocation is a choice she refuses to falter on now. 

Scully turns the corner and stumbles as a tall, beautiful brunette exits the elevator.

“Dana!”

“Agent Holmes.” Fuck, fuck, fuck! she silently screams. A wave of nausea hits hard as the two women stare at one another. This is a mistake. “I was just- It’s late, I should go-”

“Please call me Andy.” A genuine smile tugs at the woman’s freckles. “And don’t leave, Dana, I would hate to get another whiny phone call from Mulder about how he misses you as soon as I slip into bed with my wife tonight.”

Scully nearly chokes. “Your wife?”

“Yeah,” Andy’s smile widens. “Are you gay too?”

“I’m sorry?” Scully stammers, caught completely off guard.

Andy chuckles, amused. “That’s what I thought. But I just had to ask, the profiler in me needed confirmation I was correct about you two. A blind woman can see you’re in love with each other, but after ruminating on your reactions to him working with me again, it was clear neither of you have admitted it.”

“Wha…” Scully gapes at the woman before her, eyes wide, jaw hanging open. Suddenly she’s dizzy with guilt. Her heart hammers in her ears and she can barely catch her breath.

“I’m sorry if I made you uncomfortable,” Andy wonders.

“You didn’t,” Scully assures quickly, yet can’t stop the embarrassment at her earlier assumptions from warming her cheeks. “It’s just…”

“You were jealous,” she confirms with a shrug. “It’s a natural reaction, Mulder’s an attractive man. A pretty great one too, but you have nothing to worry about with me. Nor with anyone else, in my opinion.” 

“Oh. I may have misinterpreted some things,” Scully cringes. “Agent Holmes- Andy, I need to say I’m sorry if I gave you the impression that I… Well, I’m glad Mulder has you as a friend. He has so few these days.”

Andy nods, then crosses her arms, leaning along the wall.

“You know, when we weren’t profiling, all he did was talk about you. Even while devouring his heaping plate of pasta the other night. It was quite aggravating, to tell the truth. I’ve never known Fox Mulder to blush before but he turned three shades of red when I finally called him out on it.”

So while Scully was feeling sorry for herself about their dinner date, Mulder was out there making her the object of his attention. “Too bad I missed it.”

They laugh a moment before Andy reaches out and squeezes Scully’s arm in a reassuring gesture. “I should get home, but it really was wonderful to finally meet the woman beside the man.”

“Wait,” Scully calls out to Andy’s back as she walks away, her long hair twirling when she turns. “You said ‘in love with each other.’ What did you mean?”

“Go, Dana,” Andy smiles slyly, rolling her eyes the way Scully herself has done countless times. “And kiss that partner of yours.” Then Special Agent Andy Holmes disappears down the stairwell.

Seconds pass slowly as Scully wanders her way through Hegal Place before she stops without looking - second nature pulling her by the heart to apartment 42. When she knocks and Mulder answers, she walks under his arm and beelines to his couch. 

“C’mon in,” he laughs. His bare feet pad across the wooden floor until he flops down on the cushion next to her. Scully is struck by how attractive he is this way. Relaxed, exposing vulnerability. She has come here to do the same. “Perfect timing. Even have some leftovers.”

“You solved the case?”

“Cracked it a couple hours ago. Spooky Mulder strikes again,” he jokes. “You catch Andy on the way out?”

She nods, a sudden muteness taking hold. She’s nervous because somewhere between the hallway and his living room, she’d decided exactly what she needs to say and why. 

“Something wrong? Scul-”

“She’s a lesbian,” she blurts. And to her horror, Mulder grins. “Oh God. I mean, Andy isn’t- wasn’t interested in…” Scully can’t even finish. She’s so embarrassed, stuttering like a shy schoolgirl.

“In me?” He reaches out to cover her fidgeting hands with his. “No, Scully. No, we’ve never been interested in one another the way I can see you‘ve assumed. We’re friends - and for a short time, best ones. She understands me. And anyway, her wife would kick my ass,” he quips.

She scoffs before letting her head fall to his shoulder. “I’m sorry I assumed anything. It’s not my place to be…”

“Jealous,” he adds softly. “But isn’t it?”

She buries her blush in the cotton of his shirt. “What?”

“Scully, please assume it is your place to feel the way you did. Hell, I’ve felt similar protectiveness towards you and our relationship and I have no excuse for it. Other than the obvious.”

She leans back and looks at him through the green glow of the fish tank. His face is soft, lax, like he’s resigned himself to transparency. “Which is what?”

Mulder simply shrugs. “That I love you.”

She gasps, “Mulder…” 

“It’s probably crazy or beyond scientific explanation, but I’m so in love with you that I can’t sleep without seeing you in my dreams.”

Breathless, she nods, squeezing his hands in her lap. She’s so in love with him it’s almost too much. His forehead finds hers, closing his eyes, reaching up to stroke her cheeks with his thumbs. Her hands slide to his wrists, fingers rubbing the wispy hairs on his arms.

“Admitting this is one of the hardest things I’ve ever done,” she whispers. “Not only to you, but to myself. But… I love you too, Mulder.”

He gasps into her hair. “Please don’t let this be a dream.”

“Not this time.” She isn't exactly sure what her plan had been when she’d shown up here or what she‘d thought would happen when she did. All she knows now is if he keeps worshiping her like she’s the only woman in the world, she won’t be waiting much longer to finally feel Fox Mulder make love with her.

“I know you won’t believe it, but I realized something while fighting your cancer,” he says softly into her ear. “It’s not the work I can’t live without. It’s you.”

“Mulder,” she manages, “I didn’t think I’d ever hear you say that.”

“I know. But hell, you take my breath away, Scully. You completely overwhelm me, absolutely own me every damn time I’m in a room with you,” he confesses. “I wanted to tell you this in the hospital. I should have.”

“I don’t think we were ready,” she explains as a profound sense of happiness bubbles around her heart when realizing how far they’ve come since that fateful day they’d first met. She can’t deny she’s bound to him by a deep tug in her chest, some invisible string wound tightly around his. It practically tingles when he touches her. “I wasn’t sure how you felt. Or even how I felt until thinking about it was all I could do.” 

“I’ve tried hiding it. Tried to tell myself you’re better off not knowing.” His forehead is touching hers, his long arms swallowing her small frame. “I’ve been scared to take a risk. Terrified that one kiss could tilt our world on its axis. Are you scared, Scully?”

“Oh, Mulder,” she sighs into his neck, voice ragged with love and longing. She’s been anxious, worried… jealous. Every moment she’d thought he’d wanted another woman was frustratingly terrifying. She hated it, but no more. “I’m done being scared.”

Scully tilts her head, her upturned mouth only a breath away from his. Mulder tucks wisps of red behind her ear, gently kissing her nose, her cheeks, before finally, pressing his warm lips against the soft swell of her mouth.

“God,” he sighs. “You’re so beautiful.”

“Mulder,” she moans, claiming his mouth again and again. They kiss tenderly, the leather couch creaking beneath them until absolute pleasure drips from her limbs, as if she’s been dipped in warm honey. 

“What is it?” he pleads, rubbing the back of her neck in encouragement. “What do you want, Scully?”

Her response is swift and sure. 

“You.”

She’d fallen for him at some point, hard. She just doesn’t can’t recall when. Her mind races to try and pinpoint the moment, find the sum of their impossible equation, but the one thing she does know is she’ll only continue falling further and further, until they disappear together.

Scully runs her fingers through his hair, grasping the back of Mulder’s skull as his hot tongue slips between her lips to flirt with hers.

She melts when his hands caress the inward curve of her waist, letting them slide down and rest on the small flare of her hips. When his jaw scrapes across her cheekbone, she grins, glad he hasn’t shaved today. The chafe of his stubble will leave its mark. A delicious burn scouring her all the way to the bone.

It’s just another piece of her she will willingly give him tonight. 

Scully pulls their mouth’s apart in a soft pop . They stare at one another, absorbing the moment, voice a breathy whisper against his lips. 

“Andy’s great, by the way. She reminds me of Melissa a lot.”

“Yeah? Sherlock’s a good friend, but she’s no Dana Scully,” he promises, then kisses her breathless. She’s pliant as Mulder nuzzles her face, his plush lips pressing to her temple with such adoration that her eyes flutter shut. 

“I never asked how your session went with Dr. Kosseff,” he whispers. 

“You tell me, Mulder,” she murmurs, “But I think everything went exactly the way it should have.”

He grins. “Does this mean it might rain sleeping bags tonight, Scully?”

She kisses the pounding pulsepoint under his jaw in a soft and seductive ‘yes’. Tentative touches will wander. Swollen lips will trail over every place they’d ever wanted to kiss but never been bold enough to ask for before now. 

And together, they will see stars. 

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