Rating: Nc-17. If you are underage, come back when you're over 18. You've been warned.
Disclaimer: They aren't mine. They belong to CC, 1013 and Fox. Their moms said they could spend the night.

"Hell or High Water"
by MoJo

Scully's Apartment
4:45 p.m.

I scrubbed and scrubbed the remains of my white blouse in the sink. I poured more bleach in the water, trying to work the blood stain out. My blood.

I looked up at myself in the mirror, studying my swollen eyes. I had been crying again, quiet sobs in the stillness of my apartment.

Why won't this fucking stain just come out?

I wanted to erase everything that reminded me of yesterday. The day Padgett's character tried to rip my heart out. There was no actual scar on my chest, but I could still feel his icy fingers pressing into my skin. He was going to kill me. I could feel him embracing my life and trying to tear it from me.

I took a fabric brush and worked it harder over the blouse.

Maybe Mulder had been right all this time, fearing for our privacy, being protective of our relationship. I was so focused on FBI personnel discovering our secret and smoking men plotting against us that I forgot what dangers lie around us. Lurking. Watching. Waiting.

"Beep. This is Dana Scully. I'm not in. Please leave a message and I'll get back to you as soon as possible. Beep."

"Scully, I know you're home. Please answer the phone. Just answer the goddamn phone, please?" Mulder's voice pleaded through the machine. "Scully? I'm coming over there if you don't. Scully?"

Mulder had been calling all day. I hadn't seen him since I checked out of the hospital last night. I hated crying in front of Mulder, but that's what I did. Right in his arms lying on his floor. Clinging onto him for dear life.

My fingers were turning red from the bleach. The blouse was ruined. But I wanted the stain out.

He stalked me, Padgett did. Now I wondered who else was watching me. Studying me. He said things...most of which were jaded, but true. But my life wasn't lonely. Not anymore. I had Mulder in every sense of the word now. I was already in love. With someone who doubted me. Who thought Padgett's erotic writings could perhaps be true. Be something I actually wanted. I didn't read them. But Mulder did. I was too afraid to ask.

I glanced at the clock in the bedroom. I should be going. My flight was leaving in two hours.


Bill Scully's House
8:45 p.m.

"Dana," Tara said, pulling me inside. She hugged me tightly. I was so tired from the flight, the time change. "I'm so glad you're here."

Bill shuffled in behind me, carrying my luggage. He kissed Tara quickly. "Traffic wasn't too bad."

I heard a squeal from the other room and peered around the corner. I smiled and I felt my heart tug. He was already so big when I saw him over Easter. He was about fifteen months old now. Funny how I still thought of him as a newborn.

"Is that?" I asked, walking over to my nephew.

"That's Matthew," said Tara proudly. "Say hi to your Aunt Dana."

He looked up from me, amid the toys and blocks on the floor. He reached his arms up, as if wanting to be held. But he was motioning for his mom, not me.

"Go ahead," Tara urged. "He's good with strangers....I mean...you're not a stranger...."

"It's okay," I said, reaching for my nephew. I might as well be a stranger. I'd only seen him about three times in his entire life. "Hey there, big guy!"

He didn't struggle or cry and let me hold him. His world-weary aunt who chased monsters and aliens for a living. Occasionally, they chased me.

"How long are you going to be staying?" Bill asked. "We were surprised when you called yesterday. You're not on assignment, are you?"

"No," I answered. "I'm taking a break."

"Nothing's wrong, is it?" Bill pressed. He sounded just like dad. Direct and to the point. Military demeanor.

"No," I lied, smiling back at him. "I was just in...Albuquerque and thought I'd visit for a few days. Through Sunday, if that's okay."

My connecting flight was through Albuquerque, luckily Bill didn't question me further about it.

"Well, we're glad to have you here. Matt's happy to see his Aunt Dana," Tara said, planting a kiss on her son's head.

I looked over at Bill, who studied me thoughtfully. I could tell he knew there was more to my visit.


San Diego Pier
11:30 a.m.

I am now aware of strangers. Of eyes watching me in a crowd. I kept looking behind me, to see if anyone was following. This is what Padgett did to me. How many other "Padgetts" were there? Even in San Diego, a strange town where no one knew me, I didn't feel safe. I didn't feel safe at home right now. And I certainly wasn't going anywhere near Mulder's apartment.


How dare he think I'd sleep with Padgett? After months and months of living a secret life with him? Of risking everything to have a relationship with him?

Mulder read his "book." His study of me. Probably read that section over and over again. The one with me surrendering to the "Stranger." Fucking him in the apartment next door. I hated the idea he'd always have that image in his mind, of me with Padgett.

Yes, I found Padgett intriguing. I wanted to know how he knew me so well. That's why I went into his apartment. Shared coffee with him. Who was I to him? Why me? Why did he choose me? Was it the thrill of danger? Ed Jerse again?

What was the difference between Mulder and Padgett? One intruded on my life willingly. The other did not. Each seeking to find the real Dana Katherine Scully. Thinking they know me better than I know myself. How dare they be so condescending.

"Dana?" Tara said, pulling me back to reality. "Lost you for second."

I shook the thoughts out of my head. Matthew was kicking in his stroller. We were walking along the pier, watching the ships in the harbor.

"Just thinking," I said, faking a smile at her. "Nothing important."

"Must have been important," she said. "Are you sure you're all right? Bill thinks you're here for another reason."

"I came here to see you. To see my family. My nephew," I said, leaning down to Matthew.

"You look pale," Tara said, biting her lip. "You're not sick again, are you?"

I'd lost a lot of blood the other day. I wasn't feeling particularity healthy and I guessed it showed.

"No, I'm not sick. Just tired. That's why I'm here, Tara. For the California sun and rest," I said, looking out at the water. Sparkling waves in the sun.

"He worries about you all the time," she said, pushing Matthew a bit faster to keep him from fussing.

At first I thought she meant Mulder. It's always about Mulder, isn't it? But she meant Bill.

"Bill is like dad," I said. The wind blew over us, throwing my hair in all directions. "Protective."

"He doesn't want to see you hurt. Again," she said, obviously repeating things she'd heard from Bill, over and over.

Too late for that.


6:30 p.m.

Bill had gotten home from work late. Tara wanted to get something special for dessert, so I volunteered to watch Matthew while she was gone. We were out on the porch, enjoying the warmth of the setting sun. I could see my father in Matthew. He was a Scully, through and through. I wondered if my children would have looked like this. Rosy cheeks, reddish hair. Robust.

I would never know. Neither would Melissa.

Matthew was sipping his juice. His face was all sticky from the apple sauce he'd eaten with dinner, I reached for a towel to clean him up. He was trying to say "Dana." But it came out "dee-dee." It was good enough for me. I smiled at him.

I heard something inside. Bill's voice. Matthew turned his head and pointed to the sliding glass door at his father. It sounded like Bill was yelling.

"What's Daddy up to?" I asked Matthew, standing up. I reached for him, holding him on my hip. Must be the Scully temper. Hope Matthew didn't inherit that. "Let's go find out."

I slid the door back and came inside. I was barefoot, wearing only shorts and a t-shirt. I padded silently across the floor.

Bill was definitely yelling. Telling someone to get out.

"Bill?" I asked, moving to the living room in the direction of the door. I saw Bill standing in the foyer. "What's wrong, Bill?"

"Scully?" came a voice I knew far too well. I closed my eyes.

"Mulder," I whispered. I felt my heart grow heavy. He'd found me.

"You liar, I knew she was here," Mulder said, shoving Bill slightly as he came into view. He looked like hell. He hadn't shaved, his hair was disheveled. He was wearing a wrinkled suit, the tie askew.

"Shut up," Bill said, shoving Mulder back. "And get out of my house."

"Scully," Mulder said, his eyes wandering over me. "You could have called me, let me know where you were."

"My sister doesn't have to explain herself to you," Bill said angrily.

"This is so unlike you, Scully," he said, voice taunting. He glared at Bill. "Hiding behind your big brother."

"I am not hiding," I said, angry at the implication. "I figured it would be one place you wouldn't come after me."

"Oh, you know me better than that. I've tracked you down in worse places," he replied, throwing a look back to Bill. "Can't I at least have five minutes of your time?"

"Dana, he shouldn't need five seconds to say good bye," Bill said, reaching for Mulder's arm.

"Look, I came a long way to talk to Scully," Mulder started, pulling away from Bill's grasp. "I'd appreciate it if you just stayed out of this."

"This is my house," Bill replied, temper flaring. "Why don't you get out, you sorry son of bitch? I don't know what you've done to her this time, but she wants to be left alone."

"Scully," he said, looking at me. "You tell me to go. Just tell me and I'll go."

Matthew could sense the tension in the air and he clung to me tighter. "Dee-dee?"

I sighed and hugged him back, as if something as simple as my nephew's hug could make it all better. In a way, it did. The uncomplicated love of a child.

"Mulder," I started, as Matthew pressed his sticky face against mine. "Not here. Not now. I'm not ready."

Bill grabbed for Mulder's arm again, trying to guide him out the door. "You heard what she said."

"When, Scully?" he pressed, bracing himself against Bill. For a second, I thought they might start throwing punches, but Mulder held his hands up in surrender.

"Tomorrow," I said, rocking Matthew on my hip. "I'll call you tomorrow and we'll talk."

Mulder closed his eyes, relief washing over his face. "Okay."

"You don't have to, Dana," Bill said, putting his hands on his hips. "Don't let this jerk pressure you."

"Tomorrow," I repeated, meeting Mulder's eyes across the room. This was Bill's house and I didn't want to do this here.

"Tomorrow," Mulder confirmed, as he turned to leave.

Bill slammed the door behind him. "I don't know what is with that guy. He's your goddamn partner. You just work with him. Why he intrudes himself on your personal life is beyond me. Why don't you put in for a transfer, Dana? After all he's put you through? All of us? Get the hell away from him."

"Dee-dee, dee-dee, dee-dee," Matthew said, pressing his fingers on my face. I kissed his palms when he touched my lips. I tried to speak quietly, so not to upset him.

"Bill, it's complicated," I replied calmly.

"What's so complicated about it? I knew you weren't here just for a vacation. You came here to get away from him, didn't you? And what does he do? He flies all the way across the damn country to track you down," Bill said, locking the door. He turned around and looked at me, narrowing his eyes. "It's like he's...he's..."

I set Matthew down and squatted on the floor near him. He picked up his Tigger and gave it to me. I did not want to face Bill right now. I pretended to make Tigger pounce on Matthew.

"No, Dana," Bill continued, his voice shaky. "Tell me you're not."

"He's coming to get you," I said, running Tigger across the floor again. My words held a double meaning. One for Matthew and one for me. "You can't escape, you can't escape.""Dana, you're not," Bill said. I heard his footsteps behind me. Coming closer. "Please tell me that isn't true."

"I can't tell you that," I said, looking up at my brother. Anger and confusion was across his face. I looked back at Matthew, who was happily chewing on Tigger's ear. Oblivious to the problems of the adult world.

"Not with him, Dana," Bill said softly, kneeling down. He reached across and touched my shoulder. Concern replaced the anger in his eyes. "Not with him."

"It's...complicated," I repeated. Bill's image started to blur in front of me, watery and distorted.


2:00 a.m.

It's hard to sleep in a bed that's not your own. It took me weeks to get used to sleeping in Mulder's bed. With Mulder in it, too. His tall frame taking up most of the space. His arms and legs surrounding me. Protecting me, sheltering me, securing me to him. Was it all an illusion, my sense of safety?

Now all I could think of was Padgett sleeping in the next apartment over. Perhaps hearing our moans and cries while we made love. It was never fucking with Mulder. That's what it would have been with Padgett, had I really done what he wanted. I could never give myself to anyone else like that. Not now.

What was in the book that was so convincing for Mulder? For him to think I might?

I'd only read one chapter, and it was frightening enough the level of detail Padgett described. My life, my habits, my philosophies, my religion. Some were things I'd always disagreed with Mulder on. But Padgett, he'd accepted these truths about me. Written them so eloquently down. Described the inner turmoil I felt about my career, my colleagues, my struggles.

But, he only thought he knew me. He manipulated my life to suite his own need, to make a character for his book. But he figured it out, he knew he was wrong in the end. He tried to take my life when he couldn't have me. I slid my hand underneath my shirt, to my sternum. My heart. It still beat strong underneath my hand. No, Padgett...you weren't going to take this from me.

How many times had Mulder listened to my heart? Collapsing over me after making love, his ear pressed against my sternum. My heart's rapid beating...only for him.

Doesn't he know that?


8:30 a.m.

"How long, Dana?" Bill asked me. We sat out on the porch, sipping coffee just the two of us.

"Since Christmas," I admitted, averting my eyes from him.

"Four months," Bill said, with a sneer. "He'd been screwing my little sister for four months. It's a good thing I didn't know. Or I would have killed him yesterday."

"It's not like that," I said, coming to Mulder's defense. "It was something I wanted too, Bill."

"Is it something you still want?" he asked, eyes narrowing at me.

I stared off, past my brother, into the distance. Mulder had been keeping track. Forty-four times we'd made love.

"You do," he replied. "You don't have to say a word, I can see on your face. Jesus, Dana. Why Mulder?"

"Why Tara?" I countered. Why do we chose to fall in love with the people we do?

"Tara has never hurt me the way Mulder has hurt you. All of us. Melissa...remember Melissa? She's probably still be with us if it wasn't for him."

I narrowed my eyes. "If you want to put the blame for her death on someone, you put that on me. They thought she was me. I killed her, not Mulder."

"What about your cancer? Can't tell me you wouldn't have gotten sick if not for his wild crusades for the truth? For uncovering conspiracies and governmental cover-up?" Bill replied, his voice getting sharper.

"It's my crusade, Bill," I said firmly, enunciating each word. My temper was rising. "You think you know me, Bill. You don't. You can't if you think I just follow Mulder around like some fucking wide-eyed cadet. This is my work, as much as it's his. When will you accept that?"

"When you get away from him. If it's your work, then do your work. You can do it alone without him," Bill retorted. He stood up and so did I.

"I choose not to," I said, challenging him. "You can either accept that or not. It's my life and I choose to spend it with Mulder. Professionally and personally."

Bill took a deep breath. "What hold does he have over you?"

"Maybe it's the other way around, Bill. Maybe I have the hold over him," I said, folding my arms.

We stared at each other, silence speaking louder than any words. Bill would never understand our complicated relationship. Did I even understand it?

"I guess I'd better go," I whispered, breaking the tension.

"You don't have to," Bill said, his voice suddenly much calmer. He laid his hand over mine. "You can stay here, Dana. I don't want to lose another sister. Not over him."

He reminded me so much of dad, especially now that he was a father himself. Underneath all the yelling and posturing, I knew he loved me. But possessive love was destructive love, I had learned that lesson too well. You can't love someone if you control them. You can't manipulate the situation to fit your own wants and desires.

But wasn't that what I'd been doing with Mulder? All this time.


6:30 p.m.

The California sun was warm on my face. I stared out across the ocean. Deep, blue, vast. It was late in the afternoon. I knew he was standing behind me. I didn't have to turn around. I had called him earlier, agreeing to meet here. On the beach.

"Scully," he said. "I've been worried."

"I know, Mulder," I said, wrapping my arms around myself. I was wearing a tank top and thin, linen pants. The breezes were starting to chill me. My skin was slightly burned. I'd been walking the beach all day, thinking about this inevitable conversation. Ironically, I was wearing a pair of Mulder's sunglasses, given to me a couple weeks ago. I never gave them back.

"How did you find me in San Diego?"

"Process of elimination," he replied. He sat down on the sand beside me, but maintained his distance. He was wearing a faded shirt, jeans and shoes with no socks. "A little help from Frohike. And your mom. You are all right, aren't you?"

"I'm fine, Mulder," I said, staring back out into the ocean.

"I hate it when you say that," Mulder said, his voice edgy. "What it really means is leave me the fuck alone, Mulder. I don't want anything to do with you. That's all you said that night. In the hospital. On the way home. Before you disappeared on me Thursday."

"I couldn't face you," I said quietly.

"I found your blouse," he said, picking up a stick and tracing letters in the sand. "In the sink, disintegrating in the bleach. What were you trying to do?"

"Remove the blood," I answered. I could smell his cologne in the air, familiar and comforting. Mulder's scent. I'd missed it.

"No, you weren't," he said. He traced our initials in the sand. FM + DS. "You were destroying Padgett's work. His hold over you."

I stared at him, from behind the glasses. "Padgett's work?"

"His character did that to you, the one he brought to life. If you could destroy that, maybe you could destroy the other creation as well. The one he based on you," he continued. Behind our initials, he drew an "equals" sign, followed by a question mark.

"Like I'd know who that was anyway," I said harshly. "I'd only read one chapter. Unlike you, reading the whole goddamned thing. I need to know Mulder. Did it turn you on? Reading about me with him. Did you fantasize about being in the next room?"

He was quiet for a moment. "It was an awful lot like you. If you allowed yourself to get out of control. Feeling dangerous and reckless. Abandoning your sense of professionalism and giving yourself over to someone. I've always suspected it would be easier for you, with a "Stranger". . . not like it is with me."

"What are you talking about?" I asked, anger rising within me.

"It doesn't matter how many times we make love. Every time is like the first time with you. Deciding whether or not you want me. Is it worth the risks? Worth getting caught? That's why I ask you so much. If you really want me. I may not know the real you, Scully. But I know how you think," Mulder said, his voice steady. "That's what Padgett captured in that passage, he captured you in those rare occasions where you let go of it all."

"If you loved me, Mulder," I said. "How could you think I'd ever be with another? And someone like Padgett no less?"

"Are you in love, Agent Scully?" he asked, mimicking Padgett's words.

"Of course I love you," I replied, standing up. It made me angry he asked.

"That's only the third time you've ever said that to me," he replied, looking up at me. He squinted against the sun.

"Oh, have you been counting that too?" I asked, stepping away from him. Goddamn him and his memory.

"Not intentionally," he said, getting up. "But I always tell you I love you."

I turned and walked slowly down the beach. Trying to remember the last time I said those words to him. Replaying what I could in my mind. I felt tears stinging my eyes and I fought hard not to let them start. I would not cry in front of Mulder.

But I couldn't remember. He was right. I was wrong.

I stopped and turned back around to face him. He had not followed me.

"When Mulder?" I asked, wrapping my arms around myself. "When was the last time?"

The wind rustled his hair and he moved slowly towards me. "During that case in Boston. In my apartment. We made love against the wall outside my bedroom. You said it then."

I closed my eyes, one tear fell down my face and I brushed it angrily away.

"Don't," Mulder said, reaching for my hand. "Let them fall. Stop controlling your emotions with me."

"I've been controlling a lot of things, haven't I?" I said, looking up at him. He caressed my hand gently, then laced his fingers with mine, letting our hands fall at our sides. "That isn't love, is it?"

"It's possessive love. I'm guilty of it too," he said, echoing my thoughts from earlier. He started to walk down the shore line, tugging me to follow. "I want you all to myself sometimes. I want you all the time."

"I thought I could control the situation, Mulder. Divide our lives into neat sections. Professional. Personal. Only letting you have me, the real me, when I thought it was safe. Nothing is really safe, is it? It's a false sense of security. Padgett's Scully...she's not me, Mulder. But she's who I'd like to be. Reckless and out of control. No rules, no barriers, no regrets."

"Sometimes, you are like that Scully," he confirmed.

I let go of his hand and walked closer to the water. The tide must be coming in, because the water seemed to be creeping closer with every wave. I wasn't wearing shoes, so I let the waves splash around my ankles. The sand was wet and I sunk into it.

"Why did you come after me?" I asked, venturing farther out into the ocean. Mulder reached down for his shoes and took them off, tossing them back up the shoreline.

"I always come after you, Scully. I told you once, there isn't a place in this world I wouldn't go to get you back. Even your brother Bill's," he said, grinning slightly.

"He knows now," I said. The waves were up to my thigh, soaking my pants. The water felt relaxing.

"How'd he take it?" Mulder asked carefully. He walked towards me, into the water.

I reached into the ocean, making waves with my arms. "As expected. But I don't care what he thinks. He doesn't understand."

Mulder pulled his shirt over his head and threw it back as well, although it didn't quite make it as far as the shoes. His skin was naturally tanned and it glistened against the sun. The water was already up to my waist, and I fell back against it, up to my neck. Mulder smiled at me when I stood back up, my wet tank top revealing too much. But I really didn't care who was watching us right now.

"How well can you swim, Scully?" he asked, pulling back farther. The waves crashed against his back, he rocked slowly against them. "Tide's coming in. Waves are getting rougher."

"I can keep my head above the water," I said, following him into the ocean. He extended his hands to me and I took them, as he led me deeper in.

"I'm here, if you need me," he said, smiling gently. Another wave crashed around us, trying to pull me from his grasp. But I held on tighter, not letting us be separated.

"Little farther," Mulder coaxed. The water was almost to his neck now. I couldn't touch the bottom any more, floating weightless.

We laughed as the waves splashed us around, completely soaking us both. The water cooled my burning skin, Mulder's glasses washed off my face and he scrambled for them, but they were gone.

He pulled me into his arms. I wrapped mine around his neck and my legs around his waist and held on. The waves were getting stronger, but together, we were a harder obstacle for them. My fingernails clutched as his shoulders. I was aware of a few passerbys on the beach, watching me as I drew his mouth to mine. He tasted salty and it made me smile. The sun was lowering in the sky, making the clouds blaze red and orange.


10:15 p.m.

"I bet your brother is worried about you. Disappearing like this," Mulder said, brushing sand from my hair.

We had found a small shelter, long abandoned on the beach. The remains of a small boat, propped up in the sand. It was far enough away from the city lights and beach houses. We could still see the ocean ahead, the stars above. I was lying in Mulder's arms, as we removed wet clothing. I was on my back, his left arm was cradling my head as his right hand was working on the belt of my pants.

"I left this morning," I said, looking up at Mulder. I touched his face, stubble scratching me. It looked as if he hadn't shaved in a couple days. He smelled of sun and sand and salt water.

"Not over me?" he asked, kissing my cheek gently.

"Over me," I clarified. My mouth sought his in the darkness of our shelter. I was feeling dangerous and reckless right now. We could easily be caught, by any late night beach wanderer.

"Are you sure you want to do this?" Mulder asked, fingers idly playing with the zipper. "Don't think you have to prove anything to me, Scully."

"I need to prove something, Mulder. To myself," I said, guiding his hand over the front of my slacks. I drew his fingers over my stomach, my breasts to my heart. So he could feel it beating. "I don't want to be afraid any more. I don't want any rules controlling me. Controlling us."

"I'm sorry I hurt you," Mulder said, pressing his hand against my sternum. My heart was racing with his proximity.

"I'm sorry I left," I replied, tracing his lips with my fingertips. The little mole on his cheek.

My eyes looked up at his, the dark pools of hazel in which I could see my reflection. Even in the low light of the moon.

I kissed him, opening his mouth with mine, seeking a deeper connection with him. Only with him. His hand slid back down my body, to unzip my pants. I ran my hand over the smooth expanse of his back, enjoying the weight of his body over mine. Mulder slid my pants off, taking my wet undergarment with them. He kissed my stomach, brushing his lips against me as he worked his way lower.

My hands reached for his hair, lacing my fingers through it. I looked down only to find him staring up at me, smiling softly.

"I love you, Scully," he said, as his lips touched my clitoris, kissing me there as well. His fingers gently drew back my folds, permitting his mouth better access. I closed my eyes as his tongue worked against me.

"You taste salty," he whispered. I felt his breath as he let out a little laugh.

I smiled, feeling my heartbeat accelerating as blood raced to that spot beneath his ministrations. Wetness and heat flooded me. His finger traced my opening, delving slightly inside. I moaned, sound traveling in the open air.

I shifted my leg, brushing the side of his face with my thigh. I didn't want him to bring me to climax. I wanted to share that with him, with him inside me. He stopped, climbing back over me to kiss me. My fingers reached down to the space between us, to his jeans. He helped me unfasten them, all the while trying not to break our kisses. Wet denim was heavy, but we worked them down and away.

I slid my legs around his waist, coaxing him inside. But Mulder rolled us over, so we were on our sides. He brushed sand from my back, smiling at me.

"I think we'll need a long shower when we are done," he said, easing inside me.

"Or another swim," I teased, working my body in time with his.

He held me tighter, to brace us as we thrust against each other. Our eyes stayed locked, sharing unspoken thoughts. Of forgiveness and promise. I reached for his hand, lacing his fingers with mine. Pressing for leverage. His other arm was underneath me, his hand pressing the small of my back for support.

"I love you, Mulder," I said, exhaling the words into his mouth before I kissed him. The words hung in the stillness around us. Just like they did the first time I said them. That time I did remember.

"See? Wasn't too hard," he mused. I felt him hardening inside me, I grinned at his double meaning. His face grew serious and he stopped for a second. "I could get used to hearing that."

"I'll work on it," I said, feeling my insides start to tremble. Building into a sweet frenzy. I moaned again, anticipating the climax.

"Will you come home with me?" Mulder asked, breaking my concentration. "My flight leaves early tomorrow. I'll understand if you're not...not..."

I silenced him with a kiss, as I started to climax. Riding out waves of pleasure. It also kept me from screaming.

Mulder must have felt me around him, he smiled. "I'm sorry Scully. You know I have lousy timing."

"Yes," I whispered, finding it very hard to focus on anything else but my lower extremities.

"Yes, I have lousy timing?" he mused, rolling me over on my back.

"Yes, I'll come home with you," I said, as he thrust harder inside me.

Mulder smiled between breaths. We laced both our hands together. Mulder pressed them on either side of my head, into the sand. He continued to thrust, building to his release that echoed in the aftermath of my own. Exchanging the experience.

His eyes drifted past mine and he disengaged one hand from mine, reaching up to the space beyond my peripheral vision.

"What is it?" I asked.

"Just a shell," Mulder grinned. He was still inside me. "A souvenir."

He traced it across my cheek and over my lips.


J. Edgar Hoover Building
9:15 a.m.

I closed the file on Padgett, once and for all. Shoving it far back in the file cabinet. Mulder said the apartment was already cleared out over the weekend, he hardly had any furniture or possessions anyway.

Except one, perhaps.

It was going to be a while before I'd be ready to step back in Mulder's apartment.

The tiny seashell was sitting on his desk. He had brought it to work with him. I walked over to it and picked it up, studying it. I wondered how far it had to travel to end up here, through hell or high water. A triton shell, Mulder called it. One end was a point, which spiraled around to a large oval opening. Such a small, but sturdy thing that once housed a living creature. Content to live in it's enclosed world. But somewhere along it's journey, it must have found something greater, deeper and less constricting. Leaving behind this reminder of it's former life.

I held it to my lips, tracing my bottom lip, remembering my journey as well.

The End