Rating: NC-17. Yes, you know what that means. Anyone under 17 not admitted without parent.
Disclaimer: They are not mine. They belong to CC, 1013 and Fox. I know. I have a problem.
Author's note: Scully takes a little break in the Big Easy with Mulder for some pure MSR..

"Partial Abandon"
by MoJo

Metairie Cemetery
New Orleans, Louisiana
9:45 p.m.

Mulder adjusted his tie, working the knot down as he stared at the body. It was a hot night, the temperature nearly 95 degrees. Around us, the police marked off the area, winding the tape slowly around the crime scene.

She was lying on top of a crypt, her long hair blew idly in the wind. Her mouth was open and blood had poured down from it. Presumably, she had poisoned herself. Like the others. Her eyes were turned upward gazing into the night sky. Motionless. Expressionless.

"Senseless," said Sheriff Duane Davis, his Southern accent drawing out the word.

"At least it wraps up this case," Mulder said, stretching his arms. He pretended to swing at an imaginary baseball.

I studied the body of Chandrell Carpenter. She'd allegedly been *possessed* by spirits and was involved with strange millennium cult activity here. Kidnappings and brainwashing. The cult leader had the FBI and police on a standoff for two days before they decided to kill themselves. Chandrell wasn't with them, but the police had come looking for her. She was the girlfriend of the leader. Any and all secrets died with her.

I walked away from the scene. There was little for us to do now. I assumed I'd be assisting with the autopsy tomorrow, just to wrap up the investigation.

"Do you think they were afraid of the Y2K bug?" Mulder mused with the police.

I turned and grinned. His eyes were focused on me, as they usually were. Watching me. He caught up, matching my pace as my eyes wandered the surroundings.

"It's beautiful, isn't it?" he said, motioning to the stone structures.

"All these above ground crypts," I said. The cemetery was unlike any one I'd ever seen. It had the haunted feel of a church, with angels presiding over the tall crypts. Looking nearly human in the darkness.

"New Orleans has a high water table. The French and Spanish settlers opted to bury their dead in aboveground tombs rather than have the coffins float away in the first heavy rain," Mulder said. "The rich and wealthier families could afford the larger ornate tombs with crypts. Which is why they look like miniature houses."

"Iron fences and all," I observed, running my hand along one as I walked.

"The rows of tombs resemble streets, creating Cities of the Dead," Mulder finished. I smiled at him. He would have made an excellent professor at any university.

"A miniature city resurrected not for the living at all. And neatly arranged in perfect geometric lines," I said.

"New Orleans is full of history, Scully," he said. "And full of folklore and superstition."

"You'd be at home here," I said, leaning against the cool marble of one structure. We had driven all day for this case, and neither one of us had gotten any sleep in the last 24 hours. I wiped the sweat from my brow and peeled my jacket off, aware of Mulder's eyes following the motion. Maybe undressing me more in his mind.

"Antoine," Mulder read on the tombstone behind me. He reached forward to gently touch my hips, shifting me to the right. "Bousquette. Died 1833."

"Was a local legend here," Davis said, as he walked towards us. I brushed Mulder's hands away, not wanting Davis to think there was anything going on between us. "Quite an interesting tale. Folks come here and try to wake her spirit. See that?"

Davis was pointing to the flowers, candles and coins strewn by the crypt.

"Hoodoo money for her," Davis said. Mulder knelt and picked up a few to examine them closer. "Coins left for favors. Imploring the dead to grant wishes."

"I know what this is," Mulder said, holding up a small bag to me. "Do you?"

I shook my head. It looked like a small sachet.

"This is called a gris gris," Mulder said, lecturing again. "It's a voodoo good luck charm."

"They're ready for you, Miss Scully," Davis said, nodding to me. I looked back at the body, the photographer has just finished documenting the scene.

"You don't need any help now, do you?" he added politely.

"No," I said, reaching for the latex gloves in my pocket. "I'll take it from here."


Jefferson County Morgue
10:30 a.m.

I found Mulder reading a book when I stepped outside of the lab. His glasses were balanced on the end of his nose, looking even more like a college professor. Busy preparing his next lecture.

"Mulder," I said, pulling the surgical cap from my head. I tugged the rubber band holding my hair back, shaking it out.

"Why Miss Scully, how do you do?" Mulder said, mimicking Davis. He looked up at me, removing the glasses. "It's not too much for you, is it?"

"Very funny," I said, sitting down opposite him at the small table. He had his sleeves pushed back and tie askew, trying to be comfortable in the heat. I pointed to the page he was reading. "What's this?"

He shrugged. "Just a book."

"Journey into Darkness: Ghosts and Vampires of New Orleans?" I read, frowning slightly. "Where did you get that?"

"I picked it up while I was waiting for you," he answered. "That Antoine Bousquette is in here. And I bought you these."

Mulder reached down into a small bag on the floor and pulled out three beaded necklaces. I recognized instantly what they were.

"It's not even Mardi Gras," I said, taking them from him.

"I figured you could wear them later," he said quietly, raising his eyebrows at me hopefully. "Maybe it's all you can wear."

"Maybe," I said, easing back in the chair. I eyed him warily.

"What's the verdict, Miss Scully?" he asked, enunciating my name. "So we can wrap this up."

"Chandrell Carpenter, age 24, died of self-poisoning. Ingested a lethal mixture of barbiturates and cleaning fluids," I recited, almost verbatim from my report.

"Just like the others," Mulder said, nodding his head.

"Just like," I nodded back. "Case is now officially over. I suspect we'll be heading out to DC this afternoon."

Mulder stared at me for a long while, studying my face. Then, the left side of his mouth slowly turned up in a grin. He shook his head slightly.

"No, we're not."

"What do you mean?" I countered, as he continued to stare at me. "Our work is done, we're not needed anymore. I'm sure Skinner has called already, I just haven't had time to check my voice mail."

"I already spoke with him. He had us coming back on this afternoon, but we'll be heading back on Thursday morning," he said, voice low as he leaned in towards me. "I changed our schedule a bit. Did you know there's an eclipse tonight?"

"Eclipse?" I asked, seeing the smile widen on his face.

"Last lunar eclipse of the century," he replied. "Well, partial eclipse."

I narrowed my eyes at him. "Is that such a good idea? Just to change our schedule like that?"

"It's a difference of twelve hours," he said. "I told Skinner we'd wanted to wrap things up here and take a little break before heading out. And he agreed." Then Mulder paused, leaning even closer to me. He dropped his voice just above a whisper. "And I thought it might be good for us to spend a little time together away from DC. After all that's happened."

After all that's happened. The words caused recent events to flutter in and out of my head. Another cancer scare when my nose suddenly started bleeding on assignment in Denver. Finding the mysterious note that suggested our secret relationship was no longer a secret. I had also been reminded that, despite all intimacy, there were things about Mulder I knew nothing about.

"C'mon, Scully," he whispered, voice pleading with me. "I've got it all arranged. Your bags are packed and in the car. Reservations made at a very nice hotel in the French Quarter. All very discreet."

I exhaled slowly, pushing the breath out. I weighed the risks in my head, measuring each of them carefully. It was an old argument, one I was tired of wagering in my mind. I wet the corner of my lip, as I decided what to do.

"For once in your life," he said, fingers brushing mine briefly. His eyes were watching my mouth. Waiting for my response. "Let it slide, just for a little while."

Either way, I would be spending the time with Mulder. The choice was between sitting beside him in a rental car driving or wandering the city of New Orleans with him. There was a part of me that needed to spend time with him, freed from FBI constraints. Even if it was only for twelve hours.

"I get to call Skinner and confirm my own plans," I said, tapping the table gently. "We are not on assignment until Wednesday, correct?"

He nodded, as another smile spread across his face. "Not until Thursday, actually. But I told him we'd be traveling Wednesday and will stop in the office upon our arrival."

"It's going to take me another half hour to finish my report," I added, standing up to go.

"Good. It gives me more time to make plans," he said, looking up at me. He slid the glasses back on his face. They were now resting on the tip of his nose.

"You have plans for me," I said, raising my eyebrow. I set my hand on the table and leaned over the book. Bringing his face closer to mine.

"Yes," he replied, in a voice that made my heart beat faster. He ran his tongue along his lower lip. "I do."

"I'll meet you in a half and hour," I said, placing my finger on the bridge of his glasses and sliding them up his nose. Mulder released the breath he'd been holding as I moved away.

I turned to go, then stopped. I picked up the Mardi Gras beads, dropping them in my pocket.

"For later," I whispered.


Voodoo Spiritual Temple
12:45 p.m.

Mulder had arranged for a us to take a short, guided tour of the city that stopped at various points. Apparently, voodoo or vodou, as it was now called, was still practiced in New Orleans by about 15% of the population. Which explained the items found in the cemetery last night. I had changed into a cotton tank top and linen shorts, strappy sandals on my feet. Mulder was similarly dressed in a t-shirt and lightweight slacks. His sunglasses had replaced his reading glasses.

"Know what this is?" he asked, holding up a small vial to me.

I shook my head, folding my arms as I approached him.

"It's used in sex magic," he answered. Mulder opened the vial, holding his finger over the opening and tilting it over. He held out his finger, wet with the oil and drew a line between my clavicles to the heart. The neckline prevented him from going any lower.

"Think you need sex magic?" I whispered, breathing in the strange, perfumed smell of the oil.

"I think we make our own," Mulder smiled. He closed the lid of the vial and set it back on the shelf.

"Please, feel free to wander and explore," Mambo Racine Dupree offered, as she handed our group back to the tour guide. She had been lecturing on the history of voodoo. "If you have any questions, I can answer them."

Mambo Racine sat down behind a small table, lighting candles. Apparently, she did Tarot readings as well. She opened a deck and started to unfold cards.

"I have a question," Mulder said, easing into the chair opposite her. "About local folklore."

"I have answers," she replied, laying the cards systematically in front of her. "I have lived here all my life. My ancestors, too."

"What do you know about Antoine Bousquette?" Mulder asked.

I pretended to read his book, which he had brought along since it contained maps and sites. But I listened to their conversation instead, leaning against a shelf inconspicuously.

"Poor unfortunate soul," she answered, studying the cards in front of her. "People come here for gris gris or other offerings to her."

"Why?" Mulder asked.

"She is evoked for matters of the heart," Mambo Racine said. "She was in love with a solider in during the War of 1812. The British made repeated attempts to seize New Orleans and control the Mississippi River. They married in secret and her solider was killed in the Battle of New Orleans. Legend says she still walks the river, waiting for him. They never found his body."

"We saw her grave last night," Mulder said, careful not to divulge the reason we were at Metairie.

"Many people come here and retrace her steps. Many lovers evoke her name. Her home is not too far from here," she said. "It is a good way to see the city."

"Thank you," Mulder replied. "I'll remember that."

"You are not married?" she asked, in such a tone that I looked up. To find her eyes staring at me. The question was directed at me, not Mulder.

"No," I answered. Normally, people assumed we were. But she said it like it surprised her. How did she know we were even together?

"And you will not be," she said, looking down. "As long as there are doubts. Similar doubts are why one evokes her spirit."

Mulder had turned to stare at me as well, but his was a questioning gaze.

"We're not evoking anything," I said, defensively.

"I am sorry. I am only reading the cards," she said, carefully turning another one over. "Many troubles await you on your journey. You will need strength. Tonight is a very powerful night. The night of the eclipse. Many questions will be answered. Both spoken and unspoken."


Patout's Cajun Cabin
2:10 p.m.

"What's bothering you?" Mulder asked, from behind his drink.

We were somewhere on Bourbon Street, listening to the Cajun band playing loudly. Its rhythm was infectious, almost seducing one to dance. But we had finished our lunch of jambalaya and blackened catfish only to sit in the cool shadows of the Cajun Cabin in silence.

"Nothing's bothering me, Mulder," I said, trying to smile.

"It's what she said, isn't it," Mulder started. He rested his hand on my knee, and glided it up my bare leg. As if reassuring me with his touch.

"No," I replied, shaking off the feelings. "It was ridiculous what she said. Evoking spirits."

"Want to see her house? Walk her footsteps, it's not too far from here," he said, with a smile. "Even if it is just folklore, might be an interesting way to learn more about this city."

"Maybe," I answered, stirring my drink and avoiding his eyes.

He grinned, shaking his head. "That's not what bothering you. It's the other thing she said."

"I don't know what you're talking about," I said, taking another sip of my hurricane.

"Doubts," he said, fingers reaching my inner thigh. Threatening to go even higher. "I know you have them."

Behind me, the music swelled louder. Making it hard to concentrate.

"Are you predicting the future now?" I asked, moving closer to hear him better.

He bit his lip, as if carefully measuring his next words. "I'd like to think we share the same one."

We rarely spoke of the future. Our future. Did he imagine a life separated from work? The thing that brought us together that held us tightly in its grip? After seven months of being his partner, his friend and his lover, I silently wondered where it would eventually lead. And as I stared at him, I knew he shared my concerns.


Bousquette Manor
3:45 p.m.

I wasn't sure what compelled me to start reading her chapter in Mulder's book, but I did. We walked through the elegant Garden District, known for its Greek Revival and Italian architecture. Homes of former Kings and Queens of Mardi Gras were located there. As well as the house where Jefferson Davis died and Toby's Corner. Eventually, we ended up in front of Bousquette Manor.

"Antoine was the daughter of a tobacco farmer," I said, reading the genealogy. "This is where they met. At a party thrown by her father right before the Battle."

"Apparently, she disobeyed her father's wishes when she fell in love with Lt. William Fairfax," Mulder said, walking the perimeter of the estate. His eyes lit up when he saw a gazebo, similar to the one my mother has in the back of her house. Only much larger.

"He was much older than she was. He met Antoine when he was twenty-seven. She was only sixteen," I said, following him. Rose vines snaked up the trellis work. I remembered well what we had done in my mother's gazebo one spring night.

"Think they met in secret here?" Mulder asked, sitting on the steps. I smiled as he pulled me down to sit beside him. I set the book on the stairs. "Think they..."

"Not here," I said, quickly pressing my hand to his mouth. I knew he remembered our last time in a gazebo. He remembered all our encounters, numbering each one for posterity.

"Think they did it here?" he asked anyway, from behind my hand. I struggled to keep his mouth closed, but he kept talking anyway.

"Mulder," I warned, a small laugh escaping my lips.

"Think he pressed her body against the white woodwork while he lifted up her hoop skirt and made love to her right where we're sitting?" he finished, hands on my arms.

"Not everything is about sex," I said, moving my hand away from his mouth. "Sometimes, it's more than that."

"Think of the risks they must have taken, Scully. Meeting in secret. Knowing well that no one approved of their relationship," he said, releasing me. He leaned back against the gazebo railing, hand running over the steps in thought. "The dangers of his station in life."

"She was probably just seduced by the charms of an older man," I said, reaching for the book. I held it against my chest, folding my arms around it.

"She must have loved him," Mulder said, smiling at me. "She married him."

"And then he died," I countered, turning to face him. My expression serious. "Some future they had."

"Excuse me," a man said, with a southern drawl as he walked towards us. "You need to move away from the gazebo. The tour is limited to the house."

"We're sorry," Mulder said, in all seriousness. "I have an interest in gazebos."

"No problem," he replied, watching as we started to move. "We're just trying to preserve it."

Mulder stood up, then extended his hand to me. I reached for it, clasping it tightly in my own. Letting him pull me to my feet.

"Where did they marry?" Mulder asked, as we walked away.

"St. Louis Cathedral," I replied, squinting in the late day sun.

"St. Louis. Seems like so long ago," he said fondly, letting the words linger on his tongue. Those words held a special significance as well.

"Christmas Eve," I clarified, pressing against him as we walked. Our hands still clasped. "Wasn't that long ago."

"If I wasn't already in love with you. I would have fallen that night," he said, stopping behind a flowering Magnolia. He pulled me to him, his back against the tree. "Maybe I did. Number one, Scully. Hotel in St. Louis. Overlooking the Arch."

"If I knew then that you were counting," I whispered, as he lowered his mouth to near mine. "I would have paid closer attention to the details."

"I remember them. All of them," he said, smiling. "Fifty-eight and counting."

I closed my eyes, as his lips brushed mine. Coaxing them apart. Maybe it was the heat, maybe it was Mulder, but I felt my body flush over. His tongue met mine, exploring my mouth with familiarity. It amazed me how well he kissed, hard and insistent. Every time. Like he meant it. His lips glided over mine intimately, leaving them wet when he withdrew. I exhaled, missing the contact the second they were gone.

"Let's go," he whispered, thumb tracing my cheek.


The St. Louis Cathedral
5:20 p.m.

The St. Louis Cathedral was one of New Orleans' most notable landmarks. With triple steeples that towered above its historic neighbors, the Cabildo and the Presbytere, it looked down on the green of the Square and General Andrew Jackson on his bronze horse.

It was also the place where William married Antoine. In the middle of the night, the story said. Churches seemed to make Mulder uncomfortable, as if he wasn't sure exactly what he was supposed to be doing there. We stood in front of the altar, looking up at the beautiful stained glass windows and frescos that adorned the walls. One didn't have to be Catholic to appreciate the artistry.

"I wondered if it looked like this to them," he said, lowering his voice.

"Some parts did," I said, looking around. "Although, it's been renovated since then."

"What does it say?" he asked, turning to look at me. He rested his hands on his hips.

"They were married in secret," I said, opening up the book. "In a private ceremony. The priest almost refused to perform the sacrament because William was not Catholic."

"You say that like it's a bad thing, Scully," Mulder said, nudging my shoulder. "So, why'd he do it."

I smiled, reading the passage out loud. "He could see the love Antoine had for William, that they should be together. Despite the fact that William had orders to report for battle the next morning."

"Does it say where they honeymooned?" Mulder said, moving to read over my shoulder. His face close to mine.

"I doubt they had time for that," I said, lowering my voice. I turned, finding his mouth mere inches from my own.

"I know they had time for that," Mulder whispered, with a wicked grin. "I wish it said where."

"Why?" I said softly, moving my lips a little closer.

"So I can make--," he started, before I silenced him by placing my free hand over his mouth again.

"Not here," I said, pressing my fingers harder against his mouth. I raised my eyebrows at him. Afraid of what he might say next.

"--sure we visit it," he finished, lips kissing my fingers. "Scared you, did I?"

"I have quick reflexes," I said, smiling as I lowered my hand.

"So do I," he countered, capturing my mouth again. Only this kiss was very brief, a feathery touch as his lips brushed mine. Leaving me wanting more.


Mississippi River
6:45 p.m.

We had boarded a historic steamboat to cruise the river. It was modern, as New Orleans was home to the nation's second largest port. We were really just waiting for Chalmette Battlefield, where Jean Lafitte and his buccaneers joined forces with Andrew Jackson to defend the city against the British in the Battle of New Orleans.

I leaned over the railing, enjoying the cool breezes that were coming off the river. Mulder moved behind me, gripping the railing on either side of my body. Boxing me in with his arms.

"You're quiet," he observed, chin resting on my shoulder.

"Just thinking, how the smell of the water is always comforting to me," I said, adjusting my sunglasses as I stared at the river. Seeing its currents running swiftly below.

"You said once that we both grew up on the water. We both feel comfortable near it," he said, arms leaving the railing to surround me. "I wouldn't mind living by the water again."

I had that fleeting thought again of the two of us, in a small house by the sea. Watching the tide come in at night. Instead of shaking it out of my head, I let it linger. What was he really saying? That he wanted to live with me?

"Do you want to live on the water?" he asked, turning me around in his arms.

"I would," I said, voice trembling and I forced it to continue. My hands rested against his chest and I traced the collar of his shirt with my fingers. Avoiding his eyes. "Like to live on the water."

"And on the left side is historic Chalmette Battlefield," blared a voice through the speakers. It caused us to move apart, startling us both. "During the War of 1812, the British made repeated attempts to seize New Orleans and thus control the Mississippi River. In early 1815, General Andrew Jackson arrived on the scene with his Tennessee Volunteers."

I turned back around, stretching over the railing to see. Mulder's hands were on my waist, holding me securely in place.

"They joined forces with a bizarre band of pirates, free blacks, Creoles, Choctaw Indians, and Kaintucks, and defeated the British in the Battle of New Orleans—the last battle of the last war ever fought between the U.S. and Great Britain. The British lost over 2,000 men, while Jackson lost 71," the voice continued.

"He's among the 71," Mulder said. "William is."

"This is where he died," I said, looking down at the water. "They never found his body. They were only married four days."

"Mambo Racine never said exactly why people chose her to make her a part of local folklore. Care to venture a guess?" Mulder asked, as I stepped away from the railing.

I sat down on a folding chair, set up on the upper deck for the cruise. "I guess because Antoine must have been so certain in their love. Despite everything against them, she knew he'd come back for her. She knew they'd be together."

"When the war was over," he said, kneeling beside me. I stared down at my reflection in his sunglasses. Distorted like carnival mirrors.

I let out a little laugh. "But he didn't, did he?"

"But she never doubted he would," Mulder said, hand reaching for mine.

"I wondered what happened to her," I said, staring out at the water again.

"It's in the book," he said. "Did you read that section yet?"

"No," I replied. "I'm not ready to see how it ends."


Dauphine Orleans Hotel
9:45 p.m.

The hotel was a beautiful change from the FBI-budgeted places we normally stayed. I'm sure Mulder was spending a small fortune on our patio suite as well. Within its 19th century townhouse walls, one could easily feel like they were somewhere else entirely. A place far and away from everyday life. The courtyard was filled with palm-trees, their long fans shading bistro tables.

May Bailey's Place was once one of the better known bordellos in the infamous red-light district known as Storyville. It now served as the bar of the hotel. This amused Mulder. As did the sleeveless cotton dress I wore, falling just above my knees. It was a pale tan and the Mardi Gras beads were the only accessory.

Soulful trumpets played in the corner, a contrast to the happy Cajun music of the other restaurant. We had danced earlier, enjoying the sensual rhythm ourselves. The room was filled with people, allowing us once again to be lost in the crowd. Voices and laughter were all around us, but I only noticed Mulder as we replenished our energy by sharing a local dessert.

Mulder cut a piece of bread pudding off with his fork and swirled it around in the rum sauce. I watched as he made small, circular patterns before offering it to me. I opened my mouth, devouring it slowly. Mulder smiled as he pulled the fork away, then licked the remains of the sauce off it.

"I used to watch you," he said, cutting another piece. "Watch how you'd eat your dessert in some dive we ended up in. The careful attention you'd give to each bite. The way you'd drum the fork against your lower lip and smile. I'd wonder what you were smiling at."

"Honestly?" I asked, wiping the corner of my mouth. "I'd think about what you were missing."

"I knew what I was missing," he said quietly.

"You never ordered dessert for yourself," I replied, keeping my composure.

"It never mattered to me," he confessed, reaching over to tuck a stray hair away from my face. "Because I liked watching you enjoy it."

"And now?" I whispered, anticipating his answer.

He bit his lip, staring down at the plate. Drawing a circle again, before looking up. "Now I like watching you enjoying other things."

"Tell me," I asked softly.

Mulder leaned in, his lips close to my ear. "I like how you arch your back when you are above me. Or the way your breasts curve, when you stretch your arms up to hold the headboard. The smile across your face, after you..."

"Mulder," I said, finding it hard to breath. I reached up, laying my fingers on his lips.

"Not here?" he asked, breath hot against my hand.

"Not here," I repeated, returning his lustful stare. I traced his lower lip as he smiled.


"Here?" he asked.

I nodded, as he lowered his mouth on my right nipple. I closed my eyes, running my hand through his hair.

I was standing against the French doors that lead out to the patio of our room. It was dark, the only light was from the moon streaming in. Clear and bright. Mulder was on his knees, sliding my bra off. He tossed it casually over a chair.

"Here?" he asked again, turning me around to kiss the small of my back. Sending shivers up my spine.

"Hmmmm," I moaned, as his lips brushed the small hairs there. His hands pushed the waistband down slightly, hands exploring my buttocks freely.

I leaned against the doors, hands pressed in the small glass planes. Outside, New Orleans shone below us. The riverboats marked the waterline of the Mississippi, the street below was still humming with activity. A slow smile spread across my face. This was how I wanted to remember this city.

"How about here?" he asked, as he stood up. Pressing the length of his body against me as his hands cupped my breasts. His mouth was on the nape of my neck, kissing me below my hairline. Tongue flickering out. Exploring.

"Yes," I breathed, as his lips traveled along my neck. I could feel him, knowing he was aroused. I reached around, touching his buttocks as well. Holding him to me.

"And here?" he asked, turning me around. Letting his body fit against my curves. His lips met mine, kissing me thoroughly. He tasted like the rum sauce still.

"There," I whispered, as our mouths parted. I moved forward, coaxing Mulder to fall back on the bed. I toppled on top, our legs and arms entwined.

He was still wearing his slacks, and I fidgeted with the zipper. I smiled between kisses, having a harder time with it than anticipated.

"There's an obstacle in the way," he laughed, shifting slightly to I could carefully ease it down. I felt him beneath the fabric. Waiting to be freed.

"Here?" I asked, grinding my palm against him.

"Most definitely there," he moaned, smiling.

We rolled across the king size bed, removing what little clothes were still remaining. Eventually, Mulder was lying on his back in the center of the bed. I was finally naked, except for the beads around my neck. I reached to up to pull them over my head.

"Don't," he whispered, holding my hand in place. "Leave them on."

"Why?" I asked, lowering myself on him. I eased slowly down, allowing time to expand around his length. Completing us both. His fingers touched the necklaces.

"Because it's sexy," he answered, hips bucking into mine to deepen the contact. "Like when you wear only your cross. You're not completely naked."

"Men are so visual," I said, hands resting on his chest for leverage. Feeling the strength of his muscles underneath me.

I looked down to where our bodies were joined. Then to the necklaces that hung between my breasts. Little beads of color on my pale skin in metallic purple, green and yellow. His hands moved from them and to my breasts, thumbs pressed into my nipples.

"Do you know what they mean, Scully?" he asked.

I shook my head, as I rocked against him.

"Purple represents justice, green is faith and gold, power," he smiled, having a hard time with the words as we moved. A thin layer of sweat was forming over where my thighs where wrapped around his.

"Visual stimulation," I whispered. "For number fifty-nine."

"I'm stimulated by this," he said, watching my back arch as I leaned into him. One hand ventured down, to the apex of my thighs. Separating my folds and resting his thumb there. Applying gentle pressure. "Watching you is all I need."

I slid along his length, forgetting instantly everything else we'd done this day. The case, the tours, the music. All that really mattered was spending the time with him. Light years away from work and all the trapping involved.

"I don't want to go home," I whispered, enjoying in the way we fit together. Moved together.

"Let's not," he answered, breath coming out in small pants. "We can stay here and Mambo Racine can marry us out on the bayou. I'll call Skinner and we can e-mail our resignations."

I smiled as my mind flashed images of doing just that. But they all dissolved quickly. And my smile faded slowly as I bit my lip. I grinded harder against him. I loved him, for what he wanted to give me today. Abandonment from our daily lives. From our other selves.

"Marry me," he said, as he gazed up at me. The words were frozen in the air. My heart pounded in my head as my body neared climax. My adrenaline racing.

This time, did he mean it? Not like the last time he asked me so long ago.

I stopped moving. A thousand thoughts filling my head suddenly, where there were none. Some of the last few weeks, of how little I know about him. Of how I don't always trust him. Of duty and responsibility. Of how much we had left to do. As much as I wanted to believe there was a way to make it work. But it just wasn't time.

"Mulder," I breathed, drawing his name out slowly.

"I know," he whispered, almost apologetically.

The beads refracted light when I leaned forward, into the moonlight. I kissed him, long and slowly. Breathing in time with him, sharing one breath between us. There were no words to tell him what I was feeling at that moment. So I tried to show him instead. My body resumed its rhythm, but each thrust was more intense. I wanted him to know. Wanted him to understand.

"I love you, Scully," he breathed, looking up at me.

He closed his eyes, moaning loudly as he pulsed inside me. My own body reacted to it, sending me into similar pleasure. I fell forward, laying my cheek on his chest, still joined together. Exhaling as I continued to ripple inside. And the plastic beads pressed between us under the weight of my body.


3:25 a.m.

"Scully," he said, voice rousing me out of sleep.

"Hmmm?" I replied, opening my eyes slowly. The room was still dark.

"It's almost 3:30."

Mulder was sitting on the edge of the bed beside me. I was lying on my stomach, my bare back exposed. The bed sheet was swirled around my legs. He must have gotten up a little while ago, since he was already dressed.

His fingers traced a line from the nape of my neck down my spine. "We're going to miss it if you don't get up."

The lunar eclipse. I rolled over on my back, pressing my fingertips to my eyes. He leaned forward to kiss my stomach, just above my navel. His tongue flickered out briefly, brushing the skin.

"Or, we could just stay here," he said, working his way lower.

"Here," I whispered, sitting up and stopping his mouth from going lower. I smiled sleepily. "Is what got us in trouble earlier."

Mulder leaned back on his elbow, half-reclining on the bed as I struggled to find my underwear somewhere in the sheets.

"You look so..." he started, voice just a whisper in the darkness.

"What?" I asked, sliding my satin panties up my legs.

"Beautiful," he finished.

I stood up, retrieving my bra from where Mulder had thrown it over a chair. I caught my reflection in the mirror. My hair swirled wildly around my face, my skin was still flushed from sleep. I didn't have one speck of make-up left. But I was still wearing the beads.

I reached for my shorts, sliding into them one leg at a time. Mulder was watching me dress, shifting so he had a better view.

"Where are we going?" I finally said, sliding my feet into the sandals.

He came up behind me, arms snaking around my waist and holding me close. "Upstairs, to the courtyard on the roof."

My heart raced a little as his hands pressed my body against his again. I looked at our reflection in the cheval mirror. He looked up, watching us as well. Smiling in an odd way.


"The last lunar eclipse of the century," Mulder said, settling down on the chaise lounge. "The word eclipse comes from ancient Greek and it means abandonment."

"Only a partial eclipse," I whispered, as he lowered me into his lap. Around us, fireflies were flickering on and off like tiny matches. The courtyard was filled with potted plants and trees, providing privacy behind their lush canopies. We were the only ones here.

"Partial abandonment, then," Mulder said, hands sliding underneath my shirt. "I'll be happy with that."

I felt my skin warm under his touch as they traveled upward. I reclined backward against him, head resting on his shoulder as we both looked up. Watching the moon grow darker overhead.

"There is a total solar eclipse scheduled for August," he said, fingers snapping my bra open. "But it's only visible in Europe. I'm sure we won't be on assignment there."

"Unless a fluke man shows up in Romania," I mused, easing into his touch. My body was still aroused from earlier, made sensitive to further contact.

Above us, the moon seemed to glow red as the earth's shadow moved across it.

"Did you know the moon has been a part of myths and folk traditions in virtually every civilization?" he asked, caressing my nipple. Pressing into it in small circles.

"It also makes people say and do crazy things," I said, shifting position slightly. I could feel him hardening beneath me. "Or so I'm told."

"An eclipse combines the power of the full and new moon all at once," he continued, lecturing me again. "It's a very powerful time."

"That's what Mambo Racine said," I said, as his other hand moved lower. Reaching down to unfasten my shorts. "And speaking of..."

"Yes?" he whispered, tracing the waistband of my undergarment. I moved my legs apart slightly, permitting him better access as he reached down. His fingers gently spread my folds, so he could delve between them.

"How does the story end?" I asked, feeling warmth in my lower extremities.

"Which one?" he asked, lips against my ear.

"Antoine," I whispered, looking up at the sky. "And William."

"William died in battle, but they never found his body. Antoine, the story says, walked the shoreline of the Mississippi. Every day until she died," he said, as the other hand continued stroking my breast. "Waiting for his return."

"So it did end unhappily," I breathed, disappointed.

"Do you want me to finish?" he asked, kissing me softly. "The story, I mean."

"Yes," I whispered, breath coming out in long sigh. My body hummed with pleasure, seeking more contact. Wetness pooled beneath his fingers.

"She was a symbol of hope and loyalty to the city of New Orleans. She became a nurse, dedicating her life to the wounded men who fought that war. And when their daughter was born..."

"They had a daughter?" I asked, not expecting that.

"I told you they had time for that," Mulder said, laughing slightly. "She named her Faith." He momentarily stopped his hands, to hold me closer. "They say, you can still see Antoine walking along the river. And on exceptionally clear nights, you can see them both. William and Antoine."

"I knew there was an X-file in there somewhere," I whispered.

"So they did end up together," he continued, kissing me again. Drawing it out slowly and deliberately. "If you believe in the paranormal."

"Did you mean what you said earlier?" I asked, voice quivering as he resumed his ministrations.

"Yes," he answered, not needing any clarification.

"Someday," I said, voice barely above a whisper. I closed my eyes, imagining a future that had yet to be written. But it was clouded over still, hazy and dark. Eclipsed by work, responsibility and duty.

"A promise of someday," he said, holding me closer. I felt him smile against my face. "Let it go, Scully. Whatever it is you're thinking. I know you have doubts, but let them go."

"Doubts," I repeated.

"Let them go," he said. His hands worked harder against me, I breathed heavily. "This is about you, Scully. It's always been about you."

My head fell back on his shoulder, all rational thoughts banished away.

"I know we've been through a lot this summer," he whispered, lips against my ear. "I know there's still so much left to do. But I can't do any of it without you."

I felt my body start to quake, rippling over me like a wave. My heart pounded harder in my head, throbbing in time with the pleasure being released. I gasped slightly, biting my lip. Letting my body react.

"Let it go," he repeated, as I came around him. Pulsing rhythms only he understood. I stared up at the moon, seeing the Earth's shadow pass over. We were bathed in its unnatural light, refracting red against the clouds.

My body continued to tremble, the pleasure subsiding. He waited until I finished, then withdrew his hand. He shifted me around, so I was facing him more. Holding me closer. He reached up and fingered the necklaces. Justice, hope and power.

"You were right, Scully," he finally said. "All those months of wanting to separate this from work. It doesn't have a place there. But this is what will survive, beyond it all."

"Do you think that time will ever come?" I asked, looking at him.

He smiled slightly, then shook his head. "I honestly don't know. But I want you there when I find out."

I gazed up at the moon again. The darkness was already fading.

The End