a/n: Uhm, happy new year. I've dedicated the first five hours of 2019 to writing this chapter and honestly, I have a head ache now and it's been a total joy.

Thanks so much for all your kind words, I really appreciate the feedback on the last chapters because I was pretty insecure about it, so just… All the good vibes. You're all wonderful. Thank you

Content warning: same as before but this time we're gettin' hot'n'heavy in person, with spoilers for 'Triangle'[ep03;sn06], also.



Scully stood close to him as they waved off the resident of the Falls, her hand rested on the small of his back, her thumb making small circles. Calming him and making him crazy in equal measure. It wasn't like her, but he wasn't complaining.

When he closed the door, they pulled away from each other and she cleared her throat.

"Let's get to work," she said, and he could see that she was conflicted.

"You didn't let me carry you over the threshold!" He complained, and she raised an eyebrow. Full of scepticism.

Then she exhaled and her body seemed to relax. "You're right," she said, and without breaking eye contact she opened the front door again to reveal the picture perfect empty street beyond. Stepping backwards, she made her way onto the porch and held out a hand for him to join her.

Far be it from him to stare a gift horse in the mouth. He followed her, even placed his hand in hers. They were outside, keeping up appearances and all that.

It was rare to hold her hand when he wasn't experiencing any urgent distress. Scully consumed so much of his thought process day to day, reaching out and touching her reminded him how she was actually smaller than him. Smaller than any woman he'd been with. Scully, who could hold it all in the palm of her warm hand. He tried not to hyperfocus on the cool sensation of her faux wedding band under his fingers.

She stared up at him, releasing her grip and reaching up to place her hands around his now tingling neck. "In your own time, Mr. Petrie," she muttered.

He swooped low, leading with his left shoulder. He trapped her legs behind the knee so she tipped back against his right arm. Just like that, he lifted her so that she was rested against his chest, her eyes still on his. Hardly enough room from her mouth to his own for them to breathe without sharing air.

"I'm in no rush," Fox replied. "Although, perhaps I should be, have you ever heard about the origins of this tradition, Mrs. Petrie? Of how a bride in the time between marriage and consummation is in a vulnerable exposed state, mirrored by the passage through the in-between position of a doorway. The in-between where spirits can dwell and act malevolently to trip the bride or even enter her body."

"Or the Medieval European concern that a bride might appear too eager to consummate if she were to accept the loss of chastity too willingly?" Scully laughed softly, and he noticed a lovely flush creeping down her neck onto her chest.

"Oh, Laura baby," Fox rumbled playfully, adjusting his grip so that she yelped and jumped a little in his arms. She felt so soft pressed against him.

Her giggle somehow felt like an accomplishment. "Take me inside," Scully said, and despite possibly being the top profiler in the country, he couldn't read her intention.

He stepped back into the house, kicking the door closed behind them. "Tell me what the hell you're thinking," he said, understanding why she'd asked the same of him during that phone call that never happened.

Her expression became suddenly guarded at this.

It must have been the wrong thing to say. She dropped her gaze to the ground, looking confused. "Put me down, Mulder."

When he let her go, she quickly moved out of reach.

He shouldn't have brought up the damn phone call.

He tried to think of something he could say.

"Scully, I —"

"I'm going to check the lab equipment, I think one of the neighbours damaged it on the way in." She left the room without looking back.

He ground his teeth, Scully was his closest friend. He hated that this was between them. That in a world where they had exposed so much together, they would hide basic personal truths from each other. They had to talk about it.

"Scully!" He caught up to her in the next room in a few quick strides. "We have to talk about it!" He stated.

She looked up from her box of shattered apparatus to address him. Her lips slightly parted, her gaze hard.

"Have to?!" She narrowed her eyes. "There is no 'have to'. There's nothing to talk about, Mulder. With everything I do, with everything I've done, what more could you want from me? Have to." she replied, echoing words he was already regretting. He hated that he'd pushed her, but at last he observed something familiar in her countenance. Aside from annoyed, she looked scared.

"What are you afraid of?" He asked.

She flinched. "I'm sure it's perfectly clear to you," she accused, and he was taken aback.

He raised his eyebrows and his hands in a single gesture claiming innocence. "You're as much a mystery to me as ever," he defended. "You hide your true feelings very well, and I'm not a psychic despite what you might think."

"Oh please, if you could resist the urge to lecture me on ESPN just now, I'd be grateful. Dammit, I need an aspirin," she grumbled, easily deflecting his attempts to communicate as she went in search of her purse.

"Scully, I… I do care about how you feel," Fox called after her. He followed her into the next room. "That's why I'm asking for you to —"

"Get the door," she snapped, just as the doorbell rang. She turned and made her way upstairs.

Once Mulder was occupied with their guest and she was out of his view, Dana pressed her palms into her eyes and tried to think rationally.

A team had already been in to sweep the house before they arrived, so she wasn't too concerned with contaminating the place. She still took the time to walk slowly, keeping her eyes peeled for any evidence that could have been overlooked.

Dana was feeling totally destabilised, torn between her desire for Mulder, and her fear that she may be uprooting her life just to satiate her libido. Even that was assuming that he wouldn't reject any serious advance from her outright. And is that what she wanted? To make a serious advance? To jeopardise everything, and for what?

Damn, if she wasn't tempted though.

Her heart still pounded from being so physically close to Mulder. She wondered what would happen if she did lean into his teasing, how things would be if she'd leaned into Mulder whenever he'd tried from the beginning.

If he'd been at all serious, she hadn't made it easy for him. What did she even want to happen? There was so much to lose... she couldn't stand the idea of losing him.

The events of the week so far left her in little doubt that Mulder was attracted to her, but his desire to rehash what had happened didn't bode well. He was so solitary. So private emotionally. Short of an outright proclamation that he wanted to change how things had always been between them, it was likely Mulder intended to explain that he hadn't intended things to go so far. She was not prepared to be so completely rejected by him. Couldn't he at least allow her to live in hope?

Would he think less of her if he discovered that her commitment was to him as much as it was to their work? Would he have the gall to act surprised? And what if he brought up Diana Fowley? The woman who was back in his life after so long, who he'd actually been with, whom he so clearly admired. Who Dana had nothing in common with.

Dana went into the bathroom attached to the master suite, aspirin in hand. Turning the vintage inspired tap, she dipped her head under the faucet to swallow the small pills. Tossing her purse on the counter, she saw her cell phone inside.

She bit her lip, she picked it up, and redialled the last number she'd called.

Tara was quick to answer. "Hello?" Tara said, cheerful.

"Tara, hi. It's Dana." Dana was leaning more and more on Tara, relieved to have someone to rely on other than her mother and Mulder for the first time since Melissa had died. She respected Tara for how uncomplicated she made things, and how insightful she was.

"I didn't think you'd call!"

"I crossed my heart," Dana said, looking at her own reflection in the bathroom mirror. She looked her usual neat, unremarkable self — aside from the clothes — the outfit tred an awkward line between formal and casual which Dana's own clothes never did. She tended to commit to either professional or practical.

"Are you calling because you took my advice? Are you wearing a ring yet?" Tara teased. Dana could hear Matthew burbling in the background and it made her smile.

"Not quite," she said in answer to Tara's question, fidgeting with the wedding band on her finger. "I don't know what to do, we're staying together at the moment and I don't know how to be with him right now."

"Dana, you tell me you trust your partner, that you've believed things based on faith in him alone. Why are you so skeptical about this? Have you considered just doing what you want to do?"

Fox paused in the bedroom, Scully was on the phone.

"As valid a point as that is, I'm supposed to be working!" She said, laughing beautifully. "I can't just blow that off and do whatever I like," she added.

"Scully!" Fox called, letting her know he'd followed her upstairs.

"Just a second," she called back. "I better get back to it. Thanks again for last night… Me too." She joined Fox in the bedroom, still holding her phone to her ear. Her and that damn cell phone would be the death of him. "Sure, soon. Bye." She hung up.

"How's Bill?" He asked her.

"I don't know, I haven't spoken to him. Who was at the door?"

This threw Fox for a moment, and he swallowed his desire to ask more specifically who she'd been speaking to.

"Mike Raskub, big fella came to replace the plates he broke." Fox wondered if he should apologise for what had transpired downstairs.

She toyed delicately with the aerial on her cell phone while he contemplated this.

"I'm sorry," she said, beating him to it. "I didn't mean to be short with you earlier, it's just… after yesterday. I don't want everything to change, do you?" Scully asked.

His heart sank. He wondered if he would be able to develop a sudden and very convincing case of laryngitis.

"Who was that on the phone?" He asked, changing tack.

"Tara," Scully told him, her hands falling to her sides. "Bill's wife."

A rush of relief momentarily alleviated Fox's disappointment. He held up the plastic evidence bag containing the unidentified substance he'd sampled in the lounge.

"Tomorrow I want you to run this into the office and get it analysed, I found it on the ceiling fan. I'll remain here and continue surveillance. Maybe you could get a replacement for your lab kit while you're at it."

"Sure, Mulder," she said, taking the bag from him and examining it. "On the ceiling fan?" She echoed.

"Mmhmm." He nodded, observing her estimable mind at work. Her lips were wet like she might have just had water, and suddenly his mouth felt dry. His mind wandered back to kissing the other Scully, her doppelganger from 1939. How had he done it? His finger itched to pull her in, if he could just lift his hand. Reach out. He did nothing. He really was one sorry son of a bitch.

After a few more moments torturous contemplation, she smiled and returned her attention to him.

"Do I have another spot on my shirt?" She asked.

He blinked. Crap. "Can a man not admire his wife?"

"Very funny," Scully replied, shooting him down with practiced ease. "Win Shroeder, the next door neighbour, what did you make of him, Mulder?"

Fox tried not to be too flattered that she would ask his opinion on profiling a possible murder witness — since being able to do so comprehensively had been his life's work — but it was to no avail. He perked right up like a shmuck, and promptly began to show off.

"He's a few tendencies short of a full blown suspect — if that's what you're asking — but I wouldn't rule him out just yet. He's certainly got a compulsive inclination, and being as annoyingly observant as he is, he likely knows more than he's letting on about what happened to the Klines." He watched carefully for his partner's reaction.

"So, you agree with Skinner's inference of a conspiracy of silence here? Between witnesses?" God, he loved when she got like this.

"These people are hyper aware of each other, and equally as invested in appearances as they are in to enforcing compliance to their collective persona." He folded his arms, braced.

She did her little nod then, her patented pleased nod. He felt warm.

"Did I hear Shroeder give you the name of a man in the neighbourhood to ask about the rules they have here?"

"Gogolak, he's the president of their Homeowners Association." He licked his lips "Do you think that by investigating the authority figure responsible for maintaining the community's image, that we'll be able to discover why these people are abetting the cover up of the crimes here?"

She quirked an eyebrow and put a hand on her perfect hip. "Yes, Mulder. I think there is an organised system resembling that of a much darker conspiracy right out in the open, do you disagree?"

"Quite the opposite, Sweetpea," he replied, glancing again at her petal pink mouth. When his gaze flitted back up to her eyes, he noticed her focus had wandered quite a bit lower. Shit, he felt his ears heat up, it was like his cock had developed a theory on her thoughts even before he had.

"Where's your cell phone?" Scully asked and he baulked for a moment. Her perfect blue eyes snapped back to meet his own, the colour intense — framed in dark lashes.

"I think I left it on top of some boxes downstairs," he replied.

She flipped her cell phone open and started to dial. Putting it up to her ear, she looked the picture of mischief.

"I think it's ringing," she said. He wanted to run his lips over the freckles on her cheeks. "Go answer it," Scully insisted.

He swallowed and left the room.

What the hell is she thinking.

Evidence, you have to navigate your belief based on evidence. His eyes dilated, leaning close, the visible outline of his goddamn erection, and me… yesterday, he had called me. And she would navigate her actions based on well-founded belief.

'You're my one in five billion.'

And she would not be led by cowardice.

'Scully, you have to believe me.'

And she would trust him.

She walked back into the bathroom, turned to the clawfoot tub, and put the the plug in the drain.

She had the water on full blast and her shirt along with the cardigan over her head before Mulder managed to pick up her call. Dana kicked offer shoes.

"Mulder," he said, and he spoke softly as though he might frighten her. She made short work of her fly and stepped on her loose trouser leg to pull her foot free. She tossed the cardigan and the shirt back into the bedroom.

"Mulder, it's me," she replied, toing off her socks and tugging her underwear down before swiftly unhooking her bra. The evening sun light penetrated the room in rich yellow shafts and when she saw herself bathed in gold and naked only for her necklace and the wedding ring in the mirror behind the sink, Dana almost laughed.

She was being absurd, but in that moment, she'd never been so convinced that Mulder was attracted to her. She hadn't dared dream, but the way he looked at her. The way he had always looked at her, she knew he loved her but there was evidence that he wanted more. Incontrovertible evidence, she bolstered herself.

Even if he didn't want to admit it, even if she wasn't 100% ready, even if he still had mixed feelings about stupid agent Fowley, and even if all the signs for apocalypse were right and the world would be burning around them inside of a year… she had to take a leap sometime.

She pushed her hair back out of her face. He'd even said he loved her and... I want to believe.

"Is everything alright?" He asked. She picked up her undergarments and tossed them out as well.

Dana hadn't closed the bathroom door and she didn't intend to.

"Mulder, I… How would you feel if the phone call that never happened yesterday, had happened?" She stepped into the bath, laying back so that her toes rested under the falling water, her slight back laid on the cool porcelain of the opposite end. She was facing the door which remained ajar.

"I think I'd probably feel a bit better." She closed her eyes, the hot water was just settling in around her thighs. "Then maybe I could talk to someone about it," he told her. She could just about hear his voice carrying from the base of the stairs.

She sighed. "Talk," she requested, the water continued to rise.

"I don't know what to say, I don't want to make you uncomfortable, Scully."

"Please, talk to me. After everything, this shouldn't frighten you."

"Doesn't it scare you?"

She placed her left hand over her heart pounding in her chest. "Yes. I'm hiding behind my cell phone again. My heart is racing. It doesn't take a masters in psychology to work it out, I'm scared. I am. You asked what I'm afraid of? Mulder, I've given you, and your passion, and our friendship the best years of my life, and that terrifies me. This, us. So just… please ask me what you want to ask me."

"Jesus, Scully… just, when we first met, do you remember what I said about your undergraduate thesis?"

She hesitated and then answered. "You mocked me for 'rewriting Einstein', what are you —" Her eyes snapped open and she scowled. "Hey! Is this a security question? Mulder! It's me! I am not a podperson or a shapeshifter."

She heard him laughing on the other side of the house. "I didn't mean to mock you, I admired you! I also said that I liked it," he defended, "you paint me as such a brute."

"What? Do you think I'm possessed? Some kind of clone?" She leaned forward to turn off the faucet. "I mean really, Mulder, Is it so hard to accept that I might actually be coming onto you?"

That shut him right up. A misplaced echo of laughter left in his speech, he asked: "Is that what this is?"

She swallowed against the lump in her throat. "Mulder, come up stairs," she said, and she hung up the phone.

The line went dead.

The average staircase has between twelve and thirteen steps. The staircase Mulder was about to walk up had about a hundred. Or it may as well have.

He felt like he was nailed to the spot, Scully. Dana Scully was at the top of that staircase, and she was waiting for him.

Fox, breathe.

How much time had passed? Seconds? It couldn't be more than a few minutes.

"Mulder?" Scully called, and his stomach lurched. Helpless as he was to gravity, he was drawn to her. Like a wave breaking, he went to her in a rush of movement.

It was surreal, to walk through all of the unpacked boxes, up the stairs, through the pristine hallway in the stupid picket fence house. The wedding ring he wore felt heavy on his hand. He could still feel the weight of her against his chest from carrying her over the threshold. It felt like he was walking into someone else's life. Into some reality where he and Scully hadn't taken it upon themselves to save the world, and had just made a life together in blissful ignorance.

When he reached the large bedroom it was illuminated by the beams from the setting sun. The light it shone through the steam as it drifted through the open bathroom door made Fox feel as though he was stepping into a dream.

And there on the ground — holy shit — Scully had spared no effort. She was earnestly fucking seducing him. A scrap of dark purple lace stood out against her discarded white shirt and he felt his cock rise to full attention at the sight. He wondered if she'd miss the underwear if he picked them up…

"Scully?" He called, and he cleared the last of the distance to the bathroom door. He extended his hand and paused. "Can I come in?" He asked.

"The door's open, Mulder," she replied.

He barely touched it and it swung open. Their eyes locked immediately, and he leaned against the door jam to take her in. Not quite trusting his legs.

"I'm swooning," he said, because he was.

She smiled a nervous little smile.

Something about this moment seemed familiar, and in the haze of his arousal it came back to him and he bit his lip.

'I think of you when I'm in the bath… I imagine you watching me.'

She'd made this so easy for him, so why was he struggling to even breathe? Standing a little straighter, he reached for his right cuff link.

Scully watched him in a way that she often did, but which he hadn't been able to identify before. In that moment, he thought that maybe it could have been desire. That it must be, because he could see her body react to him. Her nipples tight and rosy, begging to be touched. Her whole chest was flushed, and her thighs were pressed together under the water as if to alleviate some wonderful pressure.

And she was naked, her clothes trailed out like bread crumbs guiding him through a dark wood of denial.

Dropping the silly, yuppy sweater off his shoulders, he began to roll up his sleeve. He took a step toward her.

She appeared so calm reclined in the tub with her hands along the rim, watching him, glancing every so often at his painfully hard erection. She was driving him absolutely crazy.

He braced a hand on the edge of the porcelaine bath and dropped to his knees. He knelt so that his head was level with hers, and she faced him. The moment stretched out.

He hoped she could see some iota of what this meant to him from looking at him, because he had no means to articulate it. There was no way he could express enough, through touch, through mere words, but damn if he wouldn't try. How to communicate that in this bath water, she would baptise him so that he might have his soul restored in her name? How to tell her that without her to witness him, he would cease to exist? That this moment was like waking up from a twisted nightmare of a life to a waking dream?

She smiled at him, and then weakened him further with a small, shaky sigh. "It didn't occur to me that your watch would be on your left hand," she said, and her hand found his, hot and wet from running the bath. "I suppose it didn't matter if it was waterproof after all."

He ran his thumb over her palm. "Scully, I…" He pulled his hand free of hers and reached out to her, cupping his hand behind her perfect neck. His fingers tangled in her damp, fiery hair as he pulled her forward so that her forehead was pressed against his. The hot water in the tub sloshed around her, and she gasped.

She reached up and placed a hand on his cheek, grabbing his shirt collar with the other and holding him in place.

"What?" Scully whispered, and he could feel the weight of the shadow of her cupids bow on his own top lip and wondered briefly if he would collapse under it. The front of his shirt was already nearly soaked through, along with the knees of his slacks as a puddle began to form on the tiles.

"Love isn't the right word," he said, his lips just brushing hers. "What's more than love, Scully? I don't know what to say."

"Then, shut up," she advised him, and then she chased the air into his mouth as he breathed her in, kissing him like it was her last day on earth.

He groaned at the contact, straightening up to kiss her more fully. Holding her small face in both hands. Until his right hand trailed down away from her neck under the water, he caressed her shoulder, obsessed with how soft she felt. How delicate her body was considering this was Scully. That this was her body, which had withstood so much. He gently moved his hand down along her arm, savouring her skin until he met again with her hand.

Her fingers closed over his and moved his hand down to palm her breast. And then she whimpered right against his mouth. "Unh," he moaned and he thought maybe he came, but no, only nearly.

He pressed his tongue into her mouth, his arousal getting the better of him now, he ran his thumb across her perfect nipple. Pinching it lightly before teasing her soft breast in circles under his palm.

"Mmmm," she hummed, and she arched her back to more fully answer to his ministrations.

He let his hand venture lower then, the water up to his elbow he felt the silk of her stomach. He broke this kiss, they were both breathing hard.

"Mulder," she murmured, and out of the corner of his eye he saw her part her legs to make way for his touch.

"Is this what you want?" He asked, running his lips over her freckles to whisper in her ear. The sensation more delicious than he could have hoped.

"Yes," she replied, as his hand trailed still lower, settling between her legs, he gently pressed against her labia majora.

Too turned on to check himself, he pulled her earlobe into his mouth as his finger slid between her hot folds, and even in the bath he could feel how wet she was for him.

"I'm going to make you come, Scully," Fox promised, and he felt her thighs tremble.

Fuck, at his current rate he was going to come just from the way she reacted. And in a new wave it hit him again that it was him that she was reacting to, and he was nearly overcome.

He began to rub around her vulva in small circles. He kissed her again, drinking in every perfect sound she made. Honing in on her clit, he started to massage back and forth with his thumb.

"You want me, Mulder?" She hissed. Her hands pulled at his hair, and at his shirt, and she was squirming against his touch in earnest now. The water was practically developing a current as it sloshed onto the floor in little waves.

His face was pressed against her cheek petal soft cheek as he grunted in reply, horny as sin. "Son of a bitch, Scully — I would've come already if I hadn't spent the last 24 hours humping my fucking hand like a teenager after the mess you left me in." He slipped his hand lower, allowing his finger to curve inside her, pressing up against her tight heat and causing her to grab at him so fiercely that his shirt lost several buttons in the fray.

"I always think of you, only you, Mulder… for so long. But, I never thought — oh — never thought it would be like this. Fuck — I'm so close... please."

"Jesus, Scully." He couldn't help it any longer, his left hand — which had been running through her hair — dropped to his crotch and he squeezed his stiff dick over his slacks, seeking relief. "Hnnh," His head tipped forward, pressing against her shoulder. His body overwhelmed with sensation.

Flush with arousal, he began to thrust his hand against her frantically, and she cried out. Whining, she lifted herself part way out of the bath to wrap her arms around him in a desperate embrace, he felt like he was on fire.

Her head on his shoulder, she panted against his neck. He lifted his hand from his cock to hold her as she began to tremble. She was so vulnerable, so exposed. To know her so intimately in that moment rendered him utterly helpless to her.

His right hand working against her hot, delicate vulva, his lungs full of steam. The whole scenario was so dizzying and surreal and he couldn't believe he was fucking in the middle of Scully's fantasy. That he was there, that it was him.

"Come, Scully," he grunted, incredibly turned on at the possibility that it would turn her on to hear him say it, and his heart just about broke as she fell apart at his words.

"Fuck — Mulder," she moaned, her mouth finding his once more as she bucked against his hand. At least a third of the water from the tub was all over him and the floor, and he thought he might be crying as she kissed him hard but he was too waterlogged to be sure.

His stomach lurched as her legs clamped around his hand, her nails digging into his shoulders as she clung to him.

Then it was those little sounds he'd replayed in his mind a thousand times a second since yesterday, she sobbed against his mouth, and he could feel her lips curve into a smile. Then she was still, slack in his arms.

Their lips parted and they stared at one another. She was so gorgeous, so beautiful, he thought she would kill him.

He needed to feel her close. Closer.

He kissed her quickly and then not breaking eye contact, he took his hand off of her vulva and reached under her thighs to lift her. He carried her out of the water, accepting that a good deal of the water came with her, and then she settled in his lap. He held her against his chest, and then tipped them both back to lie on the floor in a tangle of limbs.

"I can't be with anyone else, Mulder," she whispered, and he kissed the top of her head. She propped herself up to look at him. Her lips parted as she tried to steady her breathing, a perfect flush staining her cheeks. One of them was still shaking.

"Can I get that in writing?" He asked, Scully's hip resting deliciously against his cock.

"Can you dry me off and take me to bed?" She asked in answer. The last of the sun's rays sank from the room, rendering her blue eye even bluer in the dusky twilight.

"Alright, but then you're not to say I never take you anywhere," he warned, and she rolled her beautiful eyes as his face split into what might have been the widest grin of his life.

And she was kissing him, and he kissed her back, and he felt like he could breathe for the first time in longer then he cared to say.

I love you is not enough, Scully.

a/n: I might make room for one more chapter in this fic since I did blue ball Mulder, but I'm also sort of happy with it so... suggestions welcome!

I'm already thinking of my next X-files fic so keep an eye out if you're interested!

Write on,