Title: Days Like This

Summary: Mulder ponders the life he and Scully now share, how things have changed since they left the FBI. Set shortly before IWTB.

Disclaimer: I don't own much of anything, much less the characters and the show. Those belong to Chris Carter, 1013 Productions, and Fox Television.

Feedback: If you feel so inclined.

xxxxx

He loved days like this. He had no idea what brought them on, why she came home so ready and willing to be with him. He had quit asking a few years ago. There was no pattern that he could figure out; it could happen on a good day, a bad day, any shift, there was no rhyme or reason as far as he could see. Finally, he just accepted it as another facet of her, just another way she kept him guessing. After all these years, all the things they had been through, the places they had been to, the things they had learned and seen, the things they knew, he figured it was a miracle she could still keep him guessing.

Her hair was longer than it used to be, long enough now to cover her exposed breast while she lay beneath him. Her long strands were currently plastered to her sweaty skin; both of their bodies were coated in a thin sheen of sweat. Her eyes were closed in ecstasy, though they would periodically open and meet his. He could not always see the love in them, but in the moments like this, he could drown in the love reflected there. It was the gentle smile on her lips that undid him. She did not smile often, so he loved these smiles. He was the cause of them, and he was the only one to see them.

Leaning low, he kissed her along her neck, causing her to move her head back, giving him easier access. He worked his way to her jaw, then up to her ear. This was the best part, he thought to himself. He gently nibbled on her ear lobe before lightly inserting his tongue into her ear. It only took a little moisture, followed by a whisper, and the effect was instantaneous. She giggled, and this was a woman who rarely laughed and never giggled. But she giggled for him when he played with her ears. Her giggling led to additional squirming beneath him, and chill bumps formed all over her body. He loved doing this to her. Not long after she had joined him in his nomadic wandering, his searching and his hiding, he had discovered this about her. He never would have guessed playing with her ears would have this effect. But the moment he heard her giggle, he was done. It was like music straight from the angels in heaven. It was a sound he would never hear enough of, and a sound only he got to hear.

Smiling, he pulled away and met her eyes. Neither one of them needed to say a word; their eyes reflected the love they felt for each other. The last few years hadn't been easy, he knew that. To be honest, his life had never been easy, and hers certainly hadn't been since she met him. He felt responsible for that, sometimes, but yet he was glad she had been assigned to him, that they had been through everything together. It made them stronger, both separately and together. Leaning low, his lips met hers for a long, slow, passionate kiss. He changed the rhythm of his body, knowing she was close. He could tell by the movements of her hands, the way they drifted lower from his back to his butt cheeks, the way her nails began to dig into his skin. She was like a cat in that way; the closer she got to climax, the more she flexed her fingers and dug her nails into whatever was convenient. He loved the little bit of pain.

When her spasms and shudders were done, and he felt her momentarily relax, he broke the kiss and looked down at her, slowing the movements of his body. There was one word to describe the expression on her face: satisfied. She didn't always wear this expression during their lovemaking. He knew there were times when she did it just for him, just to keep him happy. Days like this, though, were the best for him. After three orgasms, he knew she was satisfied. He just wished he could make her wear that expression more often, that she would let him. She was done, satisfied, and it was his turn.

He gently lifted a leg, moving it over his shoulder and turning her on her side, almost on her stomach, never breaking the intimate connection between them. She would never come in this position, but he loved how tight she felt. He loved the sight of her bare back, something both vulnerable and strong. From this position he could rub her back, massage it, while he moved within her. Years of observation had taught him that even though she couldn't cum in this position, she loved it anyway. Her fingers would grip the sheets, the edge of the mattress, her eyes would close, and she would surrender to him. Experience had taught him that she loved to be touched, she loved skin on skin contact, but she would never admit it. Thinking back to their early years, before they fell into one another and became intimate, he knew this had always been true. He could touch the small of her back to encourage her, or her arm, he could embrace her in a hug, kiss her forehead, and she would permit these. They would calm her, give her strength. He wasn't surprised to learn that this was even more true once the clothing barrier had been removed.

Looking down at her, he picked up the pace as he felt his own release drawing near. Her fingers were gripping the edge of the mattress. He wasn't the only one to have learned things about his partner over the last few years. Just before he came, she turned her head, looked up at him, grabbed his hand and placed it over her bare breast, keeping her hand on top. Then she smiled. He was done with one more thrust. Spilling himself into her, eyes closed, he gripped her, both her breast and her fingers as she interlaced them with his.

They remained locked together for a minute before he pulled out. She slid gracefully off the bed, keeping her legs together. Before she headed into the shower, she gripped his head with one hand and leaned in to kiss him. She was still smiling.

He flopped back on the bed as she started the shower up. No, it hadn't been easy for them. They had changed over the years, as all people do. She had given up everything to come with him, and he often wondered if she regretted it. Most days, he felt like she did. Days like today, he was pretty sure she didn't regret it. Days like today, he didn't regret it. Several years ago he had known that she was tired of running with him. He had seen it on her face as they were in a tiny, run-down apartment for a month. Their neighbors were drug dealers and prostitutes, a perfect hiding place for two former federal agents on the run. They were once again in the desert southwest, a place they kept returning to as he found new leads on his quest for proof of the truth. He knew she was breaking down as she stared mindlessly at a Lifetime made-for-television movie, barely even acknowledging his presence. They hadn't made love in nearly two weeks, a record for them. She had been fading from him even the last few times they had tumbled into bed, less responsive, less enthusiastic, something she had sworn she would never get tired of. She wouldn't meet his eyes anymore. It was time to go home, or rather, find a new home.

So he had bought this farmhouse, some place isolated and remote. He could continue his searching, go out when he needed to, but be safely hidden from the world on a day to day basis. She stayed, mostly. Their rare communications with friends from their past life indicated that the search for him wasn't very active, and her name had been dropped entirely. Somebody must have pulled some strings for her, gotten her cleared of any involvement with him. She got a job working at a hospital, which brought in more money. The drive was long, so she often stayed at the hospital, but she came home to him when she didn't stay. She would bring him newspapers, stories from the internet, anything she felt he might find interesting. They were happy, or so he thought, until a day like today came along, a day that showed him true happiness.

He heard the shower shut off in the bathroom. A moment later she came out of the bathroom, one towel wrapped around her slender frame, another wrapped around her hair and piled on top of her head. "You okay?" she asked, spotting him still lying on the bed. "I was expecting you to join me."

"I'm fine," he responded, gazing at her. He lifted himself up partially, suddenly serious. "Are you happy, Scully?"

"After that sex, how could I not be?" she answered, a small smile playing at the corners of her lips.

"Good to know," he smiled back. "No, I mean, usually. Are you happy on a day to day basis?" He pulled himself up into a sitting position. In all their years together, he wasn't sure he had ever asked her that question. He could feel her juices drying on his skin, making him itch. He should have joined her in the shower like he usually did.

Removing the towel from her head and shaking her hair loose, she hesitated before sitting on the bed. "I don't know," she said quietly, not looking at him. Studying her nails, she asked, "What brought this on?"

"I was just thinking," he shrugged. "When you come home and it's like it used to be, when you're enthusiastic and you initiate things, when I can see so clearly how you feel, when I see that happiness on you, it makes me wonder. I'm not sure that you're always happy."

Sighing, she answered, "Life isn't all rainbows and puppies and unicorns, Mulder." She lifted her gaze and met his eyes. "You know that."

"But you should be happy."

"I am."

"Every day?"

"Well, no," she looked away momentarily. "But is anyone happy all the time? Every day?"

He had no response for this. Like usual, she had a point. As comfortable as he felt in this life they had built, he wasn't happy all the time. Swallowing, he asked, "Do you regret it?"

"Regret what?"

"Coming with me."

"No, never," she shook her head. "Not even for a minute."

"Not even when I talk your ear off at the end of a long day with my crazy ideas?"

"Not even when you fart in front of me."

"Good," he smiled. "And I don't fart in front of you."

Patting his knee, she rose from the bed. "You keep telling yourself that, Mulder."

"You never know, maybe one day you'll believe it."

"That one I really wish I could," she said as she collected clothes from her dresser drawers. Pulling on a pair of jeans and a t-shirt, a slight smile touched the corners of her lips. "This wasn't the life I envisioned for myself, Mulder. I'll admit that," she said gently as she picked up her comb and began to work it through her hair. "But it's the life I wouldn't trade for anything else."

"Come here," he told her. She silently crossed the room, sat on the bed, and handed him the comb. Likewise, he didn't say anything as he gently began to comb her hair. He loved doing this for her. The scent of their shared shampoo smelled better and so strongly on her after a shower. She had once confessed that it felt amazing to have someone play with her hair, even if it was only to comb it. Once he knew that, it just became something he occasionally did for her, just a small gesture to show he cared. "I wouldn't have chosen this for me, for us, either." Tenderly working out a small tangle, he added, "But I wouldn't trade it."

Finishing with her hair, he gently turned her head towards him, kissing her softly. "Leave your hair down. I like it that way."

"It's my hair," Scully reminded him. "It gets in my way."

"You leave it down, I might be up for round two after dinner," he added suggestively.

Her eyes brightening, she kissed him quickly before rising off the bed and said, "With an offer like that, how could I refuse?"

He voiced softly, "Scully?"

She paused and looked at him over her shoulder, "Yeah?"

"I know we don't say it often, but I love you."

"I know," she responded as she put away her comb. "I'm going to go start on dinner. Get in the shower so you can come help me."

"Just wait," he said, rising from the bed. "I'll do it. You worked all day."

"I know. But I'm hungry now. It'll get done faster this way."

"Fair enough," he smiled. As he stepped into the bathroom, she stopped him from her position in the bedroom doorway.

"Mulder?" When he turned to face her, she said simply. "I love you, too."

"I know," he smiled. "I've always known." With that, he stepped into the bathroom to clean up while she headed downstairs to start dinner.

No, it may not have been the life either of them had planned, and they may not be happy all the time, but it was their life and they had each other. And in the end, isn't that what mattered?