A/N: Thank you so much to everyone who has read, favourited, followed and/or reviewed this piece so far. I'm so surprised to have such positive feedback! Suggestions of a follow up had me encouraged to write a little bit more. So here it is. The morning after. Staying true to the characters is something I am a real stickler for. So, I called on inspiration from conversations such as those in Detour, Je Souhaite and The Goldberg Variation to bring something playful yet still believable for these two, I hope. I'm admire Scully's determination to keep her private life and emotions to herself. She doesn't wear her heart on her sleeve and I wanted that to be reflected in this story. I really struggled to decide on the right tone and actions for them, but let me know what you think. Thank you again! A. x
She looked at the clock on the bedside table: 8.09am. Her apartment was east facing so it enjoyed a beautiful warm morning sunshine that added to the overall beauty of her well-kept home. But today the light felt different. The cotton covers of her duvet felt different as she grabbed a fistful and tucked them beneath her chin. The scent of her pillows was different and the sensation of someone else's naked flesh brushing intermittently against her own was most definitely different.
But not bad different, she didn't think.
She remained still for a while, watching the minutes tick away while she listened for the occasional car driving by outside: the early Saturday risers on the move to start their weekend. They were probably driving their kids to soccer practice or setting off for a day at Rock Creek. Whatever they were doing, it was normal stuff. And at that moment she too felt like a normal person for the first time in as long as she could remember. No paranoid conspiracies or ever threatening danger. She loved these days. She was a healthy woman, in her 30s, in the apartment that she'd called her home for almost ten years. Despite everything, she had a lot to be thankful for.
But what was it that brought such peace that morning?
Perhaps it was the heavy sleep she was waking from after a long week of working a case out of town. Or maybe it was the fact that she had plans for a very normal weekend with her godson. Or it might just be the fact that she'd given in to herself, and she'd spent the night tangled up in bed with the man she'd been falling in love with since the moment she met him?
That probably had something to do with it.
As she lay there drifting in and out of sleep she didn't move an inch. She could hear him breathing behind her. She felt as though she'd unlocked a door and her deepest desires finally poured out to the man she'd kept behind it for so long. She'd seen a different side to her partner in the heat of recent moments. She realised that in those moments she was the sole focus of his undivided attention; his beautiful mind spun only for her while they were together and she found that unbearably attractive. There was no distraction in his eyes and for the first time in seven years of absolute devotion she was overwhelmed by him. Her sense of self was spinning violently out of control as she recalled losing all handle of her composure last night.
8.28am and she felt slightly sick with butterflies as she replayed the events of the previous hours. Despite everything that had happened during those hours, she'd regained enough composure and clarity upon returning from the bathroom to set her alarm clock for the morning. She sometimes laughed at herself for being quite so rigorously well organised even in the throes of passion. But then again if she let that slip, she wouldn't be Dana Scully.
The sickly sensation could have been caused by the fear of confronting what had taken place between her and her partner. There was no knowing how it was going to pan out. He was off limits. This wasn't allowed. But that made it all the more exciting, and the fact that no-one could find out suited her private lifestyle just fine. She preferred her personal life to stay that way. Very personal. She felt a slight wave of embarrassment, almost as if she wished she could slip away silently from that bed and never have to deal with the oncoming aftermath of this huge life event.
But she had no such luck. And it was her bed.
With two short minutes of bliss remaining before reality tore in, she heard a heavy sigh and felt the bed shift behind her. She remained entirely still, unsure of what to do for the best, over-thinking things again...just for a change. With the same anticipation as she'd waited for him to make a move toward her last night, she was waiting to see what he'd do next. He was too much of a gentleman to instigate an unsolicited advance, aside from innocent, cheeky flirtations that she'd gotten used to years ago. How was he going to react upon waking up beside her?
She had to accept this scenario. It would probably happen again.
She heard him reach for his watch on the bedside table and he must have been taking a few seconds to check the time before placing it back down. She closed her eyes to compose herself and eventually rolled towards him, turning to face her bed mate.
With their heads sunken into her white pillows, they looked silently at one another for a moment, each waiting for the other to speak first. What to say? Were there even words that would fit?
His eyes lingered over her, taking in the beautiful sight that he'd only ever imagined until now. And oh, how much sweeter it was in reality. His lips curled gently into a faint smile as he blinked lazily. Her stomach churned again and she mirrored his expression.
"Hi…", he spoke quietly, his arms coming up behind his head to slowly rearrange the soft pillows beneath him. He pressed his lips together in a timid yet adorable smile and his eyes glanced toward her mouth, the barely visible flesh of her bare shoulders, and her make-up stained eyes. He was drinking in the sight of her, unwilling to rush in and embrace her for fear of assuming too much too soon.
They'd just climbed one mountain in their relationship. Now they had to deal with the avalanche on the other side of it.
"Hi", she whispered back, her voice barely audible above the quiet scrunching of bed linen as she tucked a handful of duvet beneath her chin and gazed up at him with wide eyes. She looked shy, he thought. The brick walls she'd built up around herself were obsolete during their night together and he knew he needed to dispel the silence before she had a chance to reinforce them and pretend like nothing had happened.
He wanted to reach across and pull her into his arms, to kiss her beautiful neck and shoulders and to lie with her for longer, indulging in the perfection and peace that he felt now, for the first time with her. But still, after all this time and the fact that this was a mutual doing in complete sobriety, he didn't want to overstep any marks. Not that there were many lines left to cross after a long night of sensationally passionate love-making.
"Are you ok?" A strange question perhaps, but he knew the repercussions of what they were embarking upon and he wasn't foolish enough to overlook them. He couldn't hold himself back any longer, and re reached to brush a few strands of flame coloured hair from her forehead, tucking them behind her ear and flattening the slightly errant and matted waves with the palm of his hand.
With that single familiar motion, she felt at ease once more. Of course she was ok - she was waking up beside the man she loved with every fibre of her body. She was going to have to get used to it if it was to happen again, and secretly she wanted it to happen a lot. She closed her eyes and leaned into his touch, "Mulder, I'm fi-...she caught herself, and laughed softly before she could finish.
"Oh Scully, rrrright where it hurts!" he jested, melodramatically motioning a stake in his heart as her laughter gained voice. She lifted herself up on to one arm and grabbed his hand with the other, pulling it down between them.
She quietened and looked down at their fingers, intertwined. "I am, I'm ok. I'm...I'm happy".
He looked at her face, now with more concern as she avoided his eyes. "Scully, look... I know that this feels...I don't know...llllike, a lot to take in?", she looked up at him with bright eyes, "But I've been lying here thinking and I have to tell you that…I can't pretend this didn't happen. I like...this...too much". He squeezed her hand and swung it over his waist, trailing is fingertips along her delicate arm.
"Yeah", again she wasn't giving anything away as she gazed at him. Forever wary of being hurt or saying too much, she wasn't used to being in such a position of vulnerability. But he knew that, of course, and he didn't press her for a conversation she wasn't ready for. Her fortress walls were reduced to rubble, scattered across her bedroom floor along with their discarded clothes.
She moved into his arms and lay her head against his shoulder, his hand coming around her frame to lazily stroke its way through her hair. She lay with her skin pressed to his, her actions conveying the sentiments that she couldn't seem to find words for in her vocabulary like her partner could. Every blink of her eyes caused her mind to flash back to the moments that had passed shortly before this one.
Her eyelids dropped and with it she recalled him lifting her so effortlessly and pushing her back against the wall of the room. Another blink revealed the seconds when she'd held herself against him so tightly she could feel the muscles in her arms begin to shake, her nails grabbing into the contours of his back. The vivid image of her splayed hand, lit by the soft orange light shining through the blinds, her palm pressed flat against the wall above her wooden headboard...
Each memory thumped against her ribs from the inside. A mixed emotion of incredible giddiness and love, mixed in with the embarrassment, shock and uncertainty of giving in to something they'd always kept in check before now. There was no knowing if this was the right thing. And she didn't want to talk about that yet.
Seconds later, the shrill sound of her alarm clock rang out around the room and she heaved herself from his embrace to switch it off. His hands followed her and he found the skin of her naked form as she swung her feet out of the bed and stood up, clasping a sheet to her chest.
"Hey, where are you going!?" he whined as she padded around the foot of the bed.
"I'm just opening a window", she replied, throwing a sock at him that had somehow found its way to the top of her dresser.
"Ooh, yeah, good call. Because this room smells of regret!" he yelled, leaning across and tugging at the bedsheet playfully.
She laughed and scrunched her eyes closed, as if to tell him not to tease her like that. She returned to the edge of the bed, crawling into his pulling arms, diving beneath the covers and finding his lips for more of those indescribable kisses. Every cell of her body felt like it had caught fire. She'd lost control of herself and was drunk with want for this heavenly man, revelling in him before their semblance of normality had to be restored and they had to face the reality of going back to work on Monday. She didn't want to be the one to give in to her senses and potentially destroy a beautiful friendship and work relationship, but he'd pushed her as far as she could stand. He was unavoidable, and desirable, and her attraction toward him had become insatiable now. For that, she cursed herself.
Sighing heavily she gently scratched her fingernails through the hair behind his ears. "Hey, easy on that, I think you've already had your pound of flesh out of my back!", he mockingly scolded her.
Her eyes widened and her hand stilled, "Oh no, really?!", she pulled at his arm, motioning for him to roll over and show her. Sure enough, his skin was patterned with tracks of red marks, worse perhaps down the muscular curves surrounding his shoulder blades.
"Yeah, I think my ass got off lightly" - he teased again. It was reassuring to know that not everything had changed.
"Oh my God!" she laughed nervously, "sorry".
"Scully, don't be sorry. I'm just kidding." She gazed at him again but she was mortified at the realisation that he too remembered what they'd done last night. She grabbed at the duvet and pulled it up over her flushed face.
"Oh my Gooddddd" - her voice was muffled by the feathers and she grabbed it tighter to her cheeks as she started to let out a giggle of disbelief.
"What!?" asked Mulder with a gentle tinge of his own laughter, genuinely keen on knowing what she was thinking.
She moaned again and her knees swung up into her chest for a moment, almost assuming the foetal position. "Mulderrrrr!"
"What?! Scully!" He tugged at the covers that were clenched so tightly to her face. She whipped them away, whisps of hair falling over her eyes with the motion. Despite seeing him every day for so many years he was so handsome she could barely believe he was in her bed, his hair tousled and the 5o'clock shadow making for a desperately attractive appearance. She couldn't quite believe this was real. He looked back at her and laughed again, "What's wrong?!"...
Again her hands came up to cover her eyes as she spoke through a beaming smile; "I can't believe..." He furrowed his brow at her. At least she was laughing and not crying.
"We danced the night away?" he finished her sentence. "No, I'm uh...interested in knowing how that happened too." He kept his eyes on hers as she eventually opened them, peeping at him through the gaps between her fingers. He reached to her face and gently brushed the strands of hair from her eyes, pausing to take in every inch of her before leaning down to kiss her softly on her reddened lips.
"Should I leave?" he asked between tormenting kisses, genuinely offering a get-out option if she was feeling uncomfortable.
Her answer was simple: she dragged her fingers down his rough morning stubble as she climbed on top of him, shaking her head.
An hour later, Scully finally heaved herself from the bed and into the shower. Mulder meanwhile had taken it upon himself to make that coffee he'd bought the milk for. She emerged dressed in jeans and a pristine white, long sleeved top, accentuating the brightness of her eyes, her hair bedraggled and wet from the shower.
"God, that smells good - thank you", she had apparently settled into having Mulder wander around her kitchen dressed only in his jeans. "Bathroom's free if you want to take a shower - I've left some fresh towels on the rails", she added as she picked up a freshly poured cup of coffee and half a toasted bagel he'd obviously found stashed in the freezer. Male hunter gatherer instincts have evolved somewhat.
"Thanks," he nodded through a mouthful of bread as she took a seat at the table, flipping over the morning paper to find a half decent piece of weekend news.
He picked up his coffee and scurried through to the bathroom, knowing they were running short on time. She watched him walk away, cringing again as she noted the mottled scratches she'd carved into his back. Every time she remembered how it happened, her stomach fluttered.
No sooner had Mulder started the water running than the buzzer sounded. Scully tore her eyes from the sentence she was reading and buzzed her oldest friend in to the building. She opened the door to the apartment and swung around it slowly, her stocking feet sliding on the wooden floors.
"Heyyy guys!" she sang cheerfully as Trent and Ellen made their way along the corridor, Trent fully engrossed in his handheld computer console.
"Hey Aunt Dana", the boy chimed, as if programmed to be polite to his elders. He was a sweet kid really. They grow up so fast.
He walked straight past them both and slumped onto the sofa, the game quietly chiming tuneful noises in the background. Ellen was glad of it though; she had some fact-finding to attend to.
"Dana, does that car outside belong to the person I think it belongs to?", Ellen grabbed Scully by the elbow and pulled her toward the kitchen, motioning for her host to pass a cup for some coffee.
"Um", Scully choked, wide eyed and surprised by her friend's incredibly forthcoming question. "What happened to the usual how-are-you-how's-work-how's-your-mom conversation?!"
"I'm not trying to be nosy, I just...wondered if everything was ok? He doesn't usually come by on Saturday mornings does he?"
"If by he you mean Mulder then no, he doesn't". She spoke like it wasn't important, being sure to keep her voice down around Trent. "Aaaand, everything's ok"...
"But that's Mulder's car outside?" they both sat down at the kitchen table and Scully pulled her hot coffee cup close to her chest and nodded.
"Yeah. It's his car." She paused. "He's joining us on a day out with Trent."
"Right", added Ellen, sceptically.
"Look, I don't know what you want me to say!" Scully quipped with a smile.
"Ok. If you don't want to talk about it, Dana..."
"Because there's nothing to talk about".
Ellen nodded slowly, not convinced by Scully's evasion. Her eyes widened as she heard the water in the bathroom running. "So where is that man right now?" she pressed, glancing between the bathroom and her friend.
Scully savoured being in this position, and took a slow sip of her coffee while eyeing Ellen over the rounded edge of the cup. "He's in my bathroom", she paused again, Ellen prompting for her to elaborate: "taking a shower"...
"Mmhm", Ellen mused, her eyes ever widening. "And I don't suppose he came all the way over here this morning to take a shower?"
Scully didn't answer, instead looking dead straight into Ellen's glaring eyes.
"Dana…", she hinted.
"No". She left it at that. She didn't want to say any more, nor did she need to. She was having a hard enough time explaining the situation to herself, let alone to anyone else yet.
As if on cue, the sound of the bathroom door unlocking was Scully's 'saved by the bell' moment. Ellen sat up straight in her seat, "How long has this been going on?" she whispered.
"It's not. Nothing's going on", Scully emphasised, keen to change the topic of conversation but fully aware that was never going to happen.
"I knew it would happen-"
"Would you stop?!" Scully interjected, clearly uncomfortable with Ellen pointing out the blatantly obvious. "Nothing's going on. Mulder suggested taking Trent to the Air and Space Museum today, so...just…" she finished her sentence with a slow nod of her head, staring down at the wooden table top, hoping Ellen would get the hint.
"You are such a dark horse, Dana Scully. Honestly - we always said you guys were made for each other. I remember that time-"
"Ok, Ellen, please", she whined sincerely. Her eyes pressed tightly closed as if praying for her friend to leave her be.
"Sure. Ok. Sure"...Ellen rose from her seat at the table and took a sip from her coffee before picking her car keys off the counter. "Whatever's happening, or not happening, I just want you to be happy, Dana. And I'm here if you want to talk about anything. I know this could be...complicated...with work and your family and everything. So, we can talk maybe. Any time."
Scully sighed with defeat. "Thank you", she said genuinely.
"Ok, I'm gonna leave you guys to it and I'll see you tomorrow night at about six, ok?" She turned towards her son on the sofa, "That ok, Trent?" she said more loudly.
"Yyyeaaahh, bye", Trent replied. Gosh, they are so full of charm at that age, aren't they?
"Perfect. I'll have the youngster fed and worn out by then for you", added Scully. They laughed and shared a brief hug before Ellen made her way to the door.
"Thank you so much for taking him while I'm sorting this out. Oh, and don't put up with that console either, just take it off him".
"No problem", Scully smiled, and closed the door behind her.
It was during that weekend with Trent that she found it unbearable to accept she'd never be able to have her own son or daughter.
And, that Mulder would make the most wonderful father...