The cold March rain fell heavily as Mulder stood motionless in front of the muddy maw of the open grave. He held tight to an umbrella with one hand and clenched his other hand in the pocket of his grey dress slacks.

It bothered him no end that he couldn't stop thinking about his miserable orgasm some two weeks earlier while he stood in front of his mother's grave. He was the sole mourner. He had failed to contact any of his mother's relatives. It was a final failure of filial piety. His mother had never been a practicing Jew. Presbyterianism suited her vision of self much more neatly. There was no need for rending of clothes. She would have frowned on the destruction of such an expensive suit. He owed her something.

He should at least make an attempt to think spiritually elevated thoughts. Thank her for trying to get him to see through to letting go of Samantha. Thank her for years of swimming lessons and Little League. For writing his name in his clothes when he went to camp. Something.

Instead, he stood there thinking about pushing Scully's panties down around her ankles. A mental pornographic snapshot of a man suffering from crippling low self-esteem and the woman he'd fucked.

He supposed that his mother's death would be forever wedded in his mind with the pathetic encounter he'd shared with Scully if he couldn't even manage to blot it out now when it mattered most. If he had a therapist, this would mean years of new material to discuss. He didn't, however, so it would just be a new garment to hang to his closet of shame.

It hadn't been the moment he'd been fantasizing about for six years. Six seemingly infinite years had finally ended in a hurried rush.

She'd gone to his bathroom to search for drugs. She hadn't announced her intention, but he understood her well enough to know that she would want to medicate him into a state of sleep. When Scully's emotions failed her, she fell back on science. There were only so many hushed assurances, so many soft kisses; pharmaceuticals worked more reliably.

So he followed her, padding behind her silently in his bare feet and leaning against the doorway of his bathroom while he watched her search through his medicine cabinet. His pulse thundered in his temple as he watched her raise up on the balls of her bare feet, his blood pressure elevated from hysteria. He caught her gaze reflected back at him in the mirror.

A steady gaze. The face of his friend. The face of the woman he loved. The face of the one person on the earth that could save him. That could throw him a line when he was drowning.

It was momentary insanity. A moment when his frontal lobe, overworked from emotion, began to fail him, so that nothing was left to react other than the arousal centers of his brain. He was not an admirer of Freud, but he was willing to concede that his id was in the driver's seat in that instant. He was seized by a desire to pull her into himself. Consume her.

Grabbing her by the waist, he pulled her around to face him and crushed her mouth with his own.

A little voice chanted in the back of his mind—this is madness. He intertwined his hands in her hair, trying to drown out the sound of his own dissent with intensity of action.

He began to drag her backwards toward the bed, tugging off her coat as he did so. He had less success trying to work the tiny white buttons on her blouse, and settled for toppling them both over onto the bed in a frustrated rumple. He lay atop her, sharing her breath.

Borderline psychosis. He should have known it wouldn't end well.

He fleetingly glanced once more into her blue eyes. If he was expecting euphoria, he was disappointed. She looked concerned: Her eyes clouded and brows knit together, her mouth turning down at the corners.

It wasn't the face of a woman about to have a mind-blowing sexual experience. It was the face of someone who was cheerless. The sadness was enough. Enough to push him over the edge. He was sick of being miserable. Sick of feeling more than he could say. Pretending. The thought that he could fuck it all away may have drifted across his addled brain.

He fumbled with the button and zipper on her pants and awkwardly jerked her black slacks down and off, leaving her clothed in nothing but her blouse and silk panties. It was easy enough to do the same with the panties. He wanted to take a moment to enjoy the view, but his heart was choking him, beating mercilessly in his throat rather than in his chest where it belonged.

He laughed a barked sound that brought a wide-eyed response from his diminutive partner pinned beneath him. The unnerving mirth was the result of his realization that he still had his damn jeans on, which struck him as utterly absurd, pressed as he was against her milky exposed skin. He studied his jeans, chewing the corner of his bottom lip and losing his nerve momentarily.

A shaking hand reached up to unbutton his jeans. Having Scully undress him was definitely a fantasy, but the way she finally did it spoiled the vision. Her nerves or uncertainty was only a passing affliction: She regained proper motor function and expertly shimmied the jeans down his frame with the controlled precision of a nurse working on a patient. No different than the handful of times when she'd been forced to undress him due to a medical emergency. As he stared dumbly in the darkness at her, he realized that she wore the same composed professional look on her face he'd seen countless times before. It was as if she was about to perform a medical procedure on him. Maybe that was all it was—alternative medicine.

Mulder wasn't proud that the whole scenario wasn't a complete turn-off. Watching her blank face and feeling her passionless hands against his skin should have put an end to what he'd thoughtlessly begun. But, grief and pity apparently did nothing to dampen to his arousal. His erection once uncovered felt like a visible incrimination—Monster Boy.

'Shut up,' he shouted inwardly before fearing for an agonizing second that he'd shouted it aloud. The laugh had made her nervous enough; he didn't need to start shouting like a man afflicted with Tourette's.

No foreplay. He couldn't give anything at the moment. All he could do was take. He grasped himself and parted Scully's legs. He felt as if he was on the edge of a black out as he entered her. Numbness. Blackness. A void. No fireworks. No fluttering hearts. He was doing his best to choke back tears, gasping in her ear with each stroke.

All it amounted to was just an adolescent showing of several quick thrusts and an anticlimactic completion. He buried his face in her neck afterwards for ten times as long as he'd buried himself inside of her. He felt anesthetized. Years of waiting had just amounted to dry grief sex.

He didn't know what to say other than a muffled, "I'm sorry." He wasn't sure what he was apologizing for. The brevity, her lack of an orgasm, the fact that he'd crossed the understood line in their relationship in a moment of weakness, the nagging worry that was forming like a thundercloud in the back of his brain that he'd perhaps hurt her in his rush at completion…all of it.

Her hands snaked up his back, resting on his shoulder blades. She shooshed him softly as if he was a child. "S'okay," she repeated endlessly.

Rolling off of her, he squeezed his eyes shut tight, wondering whether he could willingly transport himself to the opposite end of the earth.

He was supposed to take his time. He was supposed to memorize the sensation. He was supposed to tell her everything he kept locked inside his chest. Or at least show her what he couldn't put into words. He wasn't supposed to be mentally absent for the entire thirty second showing.

She was so kind about it. Recriminations might have been easier to take. Rational Scully was probably taking into account all of the variables—his exhaustion, his mental anguish, his increasing age—and making silent excuses for him. She could write them up later in a report to Skinner: She was used to making excuses for him. The report would show that this was not his finest performance. There was no need to rhetorically ask her, "How was it for you?"

But, he knew she forgave him. She'd probably forgiven him the moment he'd grasped her around the waist in his bathroom. It was as simple as buttoning herself back up in her business suit before taking his head in her lap and stroking his hair until he drifted off into a state of semi unconsciousness. Tucking away however this bizarre act made her feel just as she neatly tucked her blouse back into her pants. Never to be mentioned again.

A pathetic encounter. Not much different from his jerking off into a cup on her behalf a few months earlier. He'd cried then too.

Was it the wrong thing to do? Fantasize about the woman who could in the near future become the mother of your child? While you jerk off in a sterilized room?

Mulder ran his hands through his hair in frustration as his erection began to fail him. He didn't normally have trouble with this. Masturbation had become an art for him. It would seem that the artist was having a crisis of conscience. A flaccid paintbrush. He groaned at his own pun.

He didn't suffer from any hang-ups about porn. He had a drawer full of videos that weren't his and several subscriptions to flesh magazines that spoke to his healthy or unhealthy sexual appetite. Somehow he couldn't bring himself to do anything other than flip through the selection before him in disdain, however.

He didn't want to be looking at plasticized breasts while participating in Scully's quest for parenthood. He had more than a passing familiarity with quests. There was a requisite level of reverence in carrying them out. Busty Babes didn't scream reverence.

There were some interesting specimens in there, nonetheless. It wouldn't hurt to take the subscription card. He flipped to the middle. Some other son of a bitch had already taken it.

"Focus," he said, trying to chastise himself into the proper mindset.

Except he wasn't sure what that mindset should be. The magazines felt wrong. The video sitting on the counter would be just as bad if not worse. That left him with his imagination. Unfortunately, his imagination could be a frightening place—full of all manner of erotica that he didn't want contaminating his sample.

He could imagine Scully though. He had a fully catalogued storehouse of fantasies about her, and not all of them involved bending her over his desk after she'd shot down another one of his theories as nonsense. Impudent little…

Was there something sleazy about that, he wondered? Even if he drew on one of his more evolved sensitive male fantasies? He was her partner after all. Her friend, yes, but Scully insisted on professional boundaries. He wasn't even sure where he stood in regards to any potential spawn. Father. Uncle Mulder. Mother's work partner.

He flexed his hand, looking down at his red penis.

He loved her. He was under no delusions: The feeling was not returned. Not the way he wanted it to be, at least. A fantasy about making love to her—about conception without test tubes and sticky magazines—was akin to torture.

Standing there dick in hand and contemplating his feelings of inadequacy was not the recommended method for achieving an orgasm. La petite mort was not supposed to reference the death of all pride.

It didn't even have to be a fantasy, per se. He could think of the first time. The only time.

Except that was deflating as well.

So he closed his eyes and thought of England.

And he cried.

Mulder regretted it the minute he shut the door to her apartment.

There were a bevy of secretaries to draw on, if he wanted to fuck someone in the FBI. Why'd he have to fuck Dana Scully?

She wasn't his type. He liked leggy busty brunettes. She failed to meet his standard in all three categories. Brains were optional for a meaningless tumble in the sheets, so she earned no points there despite her ample scientific knowledge.

She looked better naked. She should ditch the dumpy suits and walk around naked all day. Her hair looked better splayed across her expensive Egyptian cotton white pillowcase too.

It had been that damn rosebud mouth that had gotten him into trouble. He was supposed to be saying goodnight to her in the parking lot, when he found himself wondering how those lips would feel against his. He'd always imagined that if the powers that be had wanted Agent Scully to seduce him—undo him professionally on a sexual level in addition to debunking his work—they'd sent an odd choice. Had they forgotten Diana that quickly? Maybe they'd noticed those lips. Those lovely ruby lips.

Whatever he'd once thought, he knew better than to believe there had been an agenda that evening. Scully was straight-laced and by the book. He couldn't imagine her performing sexual acts as a pawn in a government conspiracy. And if she'd been playing a part, she wasn't a very good actress.

It wasn't the worst sex he'd ever had. He'd had some drunken encounters he'd rather forget, but this didn't rank high enough on his pleasure scale to undo his pressing regret. They had to work together. They needed to move past what had happened in a heated moment and get back to being partners. Endless innuendo was his only hope of downplaying the incident: He'd been playing that angle ever since. He certainly wasn't going to discuss it like an adult. 'Agent Scully, about last night.' He snorted to himself. That wasn't in his playbook.

She hadn't necessarily been impressed with him when she was initially assigned to him. He'd cultivated an asinine persona at the outset that made his usual state of questionable sanity less palatable. She had stuck around, he'd modified his behavior just a hair, and he guessed that he'd made some strides in gaining back some of the ground he'd lost in the beginning. Nevertheless, he wished he could have impressed her in this one area. Fox Mulder, sexual proficient. He knew the letdown wasn't just on his end. She wasn't going to come away thinking he was God's gift to her gender. At least he'd managed to coax an orgasm out of her amidst all of the very average awkwardness.

The indefinable middling nature of the affair was not easily explained. He hadn't been drunk. Hadn't even had a drink since a few months after Diana left. He wasn't exceptionally tired—not like he was now, going on three days without sleep on a stakeout in Baltimore watching for Tooms. Time spent in quarantine after their disaster in Washington state was more vacation than he'd had in years, so he was refreshed enough to make a good go of it. He certainly wasn't out of practice. Months of random one night stands were beginning to rack up his sexual partners count. He was as fit as a fiddle. Ran almost every day, lifted weights on the weekends, shot hoops whenever he could at the Y. By all rights it should have been another one of his regular commendable performances.

He blamed it on an overactive brain. Sex was one of the only things that actually quieted his hyperactive mind. It was one of the reasons he spent so much time propped in front of porn at night. On this occasion, however, the damn thing had refused to downshift, urging him to try this or do that, instead of allowing him to do what came naturally. She didn't represent the sexual threat that Phoebe Green once had done in his inexperienced youth. Why the hell did he care so much about pleasing Dana Scully? Short little hot tempered stubborn Dana Scully? It was as if he had been crippled by caring.

He banged his head against the headrest of the car, digging in the open bag for another sunflower seed.

The last thing he needed to do was develop a school-boy crush on his partner. It was clear enough that the feeling—if there was such a thing forming in his psyche—was not returned. What had happened was a onetime thing for her as much as it had been for him. She had studiously not mentioned it when they'd returned to work. She clearly wanted it forgotten.

When he'd been called to Baltimore to testify against Eugene Victor Tooms in the court hearing concerning his psychological status, it became apparent to him just how much Agent Scully regretted their moment of indiscretion. He'd watched her enter the courtroom and seat herself in the back before he began his slideshow. It did not escape him that she'd hung her head as he'd advanced the slides and his theory that he knew sounded implausible to the courtroom. He could imagine her inner monologue: 'Never again.' He'd regretted it as well. He'd immediately assured himself that this would never happen again. And yet, watching her embarrassment manifest itself on her face was painful.

It's not like his moves had been impressive enough to overcome any objections the lady might have had to his spookiness.

Her skin felt like rose petals.

He licked his lips, tugging at the collar of his oxford blue shirt, trying to mentally stave off the mounting threat of an erection. An arrest for indecent exposure would be harder to explain than a trip to the drunk tank.

Baseball. Baseball statistics. Liver eating mutants.

Mulder was roused in his sleep by the feeling of an arm snaking across his chest. He jerked, causing the bed to shake. Blinking, he looked down at the startled outline of Scully propping herself up alongside of him.

"Sorry," she mumbled, settling back down on his chest.

"What are you doing?"

"I was getting cold and my back is killing me," she explained with a lazy yawn, draping more of her body across him.

"Hey, Scully?" he asked, as she nuzzled him closer.

"No more talking," Scully whispered, her breath stirring the hair on his chest.

He swallowed. He was only wearing his boxers and Scully was no longer in her suit. What the hell was she wearing? He squinted over her mess of red hair to see his Navy t-shirt peeking out above the comforter. 'Okay,' he thought, breathing purposefully through his nose.

Her skin felt just like…

"Scully," he said more insistently, abruptly taking a hold of her wrist and lifting it off his chest.


"I can't sleep like this."

Her brows knit together in sleepy confusion. They'd slept like this in California after solving the Amber Lynn LaPierre case. And again after a long fight over Scully's disappearance with their favorite conspiracy minded smoker. It had all been very above board. But he'd had more clothes on, goddamn it, and this felt too…

"Guests aren't supposed to be relegated to the couch, Mulder," she finally managed, summoning up the best Scully scolding she could manage in her current state.

"Just roll over," he commanded gruffly, hoping she would take the hint and move away from him.

"Fine," Scully said, sitting partially upright in the bed. "Just switch me places. If you let me sleep on the right side of the bed, I'll leave you plenty of room," she continued, leaning over him in an attempt to crawl over his lanky frame.

"Damnit, Scully," Mulder cursed as she brushed him accidently, exposing the source of his mortification.

She paused mid-crawl. Mulder stared up at the ceiling, wanting the bed to suck him in like an Elm Street teen victim.

She settled back at his side. "It's a normal physiological reaction," she explained in her professorial voice, "I woke you up and night erect…"

"Thanks, I know that," he cut her off, speaking more sharply than he had intended.

After a few interminable minutes of silence had passed, he turned his head to look at her, exhaling a breath he hadn't realized he was holding. Her head was resting on the pillow with her hands tucked underneath, and her almond eyes met his unwaveringly without a hint of embarrassment. His gaze lowered to her lips, which were parted just slightly. He swallowed his nerves, his Adam's apple bobbing inadvertently.

"I want to kiss you," he said in a monotone that belied the feeling of urgency that was building in his chest.

The corners of her mouth curled upwards in a slight smile. "You've never asked permission before," she mused.

"This is more like a warning," he explained, as he rolled over to face her. "You awakened the sleeping beast and must face the consequences," he said with feigned levity. She licked her lips. "That doesn't help your chances," he warned her, looming into her personal space.

"You're all bark and no bite," she teased.

"Oh, now it's personal," he joked back, closing the space between them to kiss her lips briefly.

He hovered above her lips. The contact had been enough to set his pulse racing. He wanted to reach over and flip on the light, so he could check her for signs of arousal. Men were so obvious. She had only to accidently bump him to know where he stood. Women were more ambiguous. If he could see a flush on her skin or dilation of her pupils, he'd feel less like he was out of his depth.

Just as he was considering the frightening prospect of asking Scully whether this was something she wanted, her hand gripped his forearm. She slowly dragged her short manicured nails down his flesh. It wasn't a statement of arousal, but it was more than enough. He bent down once more, kissing her again and lingering over her lower lip. He broke their kiss to run his hand down her face and down her neck. He wanted to touch every inch of her, but his now seemingly tent-like Navy t-shirt was swallowing up some of the most interesting parts of her.

"You're wearing stolen goods," he said, tugging at the hem of the shirt. "I'm going to have to confiscate this."

The shirt went up and over her head, but instead of drawing on his outdated and little used set of skills, Mulder felt himself beginning to freeze up as she lay before him naked against his sheets. He sat back on his heels, taking the comforter with him and pressing the heels of his hands into his eyes until he saw stars.

"Mulder?" her voice called him back. He dropped his hands from his face. "This isn't the first time we've done this," she said matter-of-factly.

He almost wanted to laugh. She said it as if it was no big deal. As if she hadn't spent six years building barriers to prevent another incident from occurring. The notion that Scully had entered a Buddhist temple and come out a totally changed woman didn't sit entirely well with him. He wasn't even sure who the woman was that had allowed him to have sex with her in a flurry of grief two months ago. He'd spent the last six months thinking that things were changing between them. Changing at a glacial pace, perhaps, but changing nonetheless. The sex after his mother's death had just been a hiccup in that progression, however. He hadn't imagined it was a sign of things to come. As poorly as it had gone, he certainly hoped it wasn't.

Tonight, it would seem, dear little compartmentalizing Dana Scully had unlatched the corner of her psyche she'd kept walled off that was attracted to him—that felt for him something other than friendship, duty, and partnership. Whoever this was, whatever portion of herself she was exposing, surely tomorrow he'd wake up and she'd be gone. And the pretending would by necessity start all over again.

She reached out her hand to him and he took it, intertwining his fingers in hers. Her fingers were tiny yet reassuring.

"I'm sorry about last time," he said flatly.

They hadn't ever mentioned it, but seeing her framed in the filtered moonlight by a halo of red hair brought the images and the gnawing guilt of that night flooding back. He couldn't go any further without offering up his penitential confession.

"Stop apologizing for things, Mulder," she said, tugging on his hand. "It's not the turn on you might think it is."

Was she turned on? He internally tripped over himself at the mere notion. He settled back against her frame, propping himself above her with his forearms. He felt a toe trace the side of his calf. His dick twitched. There was no question that he was turned on.

"I'm supposed to be irresistible," she said, arching one thin brow and pursing her lips.

He nudged her nose with his own. "You are." She was. Too much so. She'd crawled into his bed looking for a little warmth and he ended up lounging atop her. He didn't want it to be like the last time where she'd given him an inch of compassion and he'd taken a mile. He kissed the side of her mouth. "I just messed things up before."

"Your eidetic memory doesn't serve you well," she observed, running her hands down the plane of his back and raising the hairs along his arms.

She was being kind. Kindness he wasn't sure he deserved but welcomed all the same. He pressed a kiss just behind the delicate seashell of her ear and he felt her arch beneath him. There were ways he could repay her.

With his mouth poised near her ear, he whispered, "Will you disappear when I close my eyes?"

He felt her hand wrap around his erection through his boxers. "No, but I'd rather you kept them open."

Her words made his stomach seize: He was either going to throw up or ravage her. In an unmanly struggle he rid himself of his boxers and settled himself between her legs. She dared him with her cocked eyebrow to have another crisis of confidence.

Put up or shut up.

Taking in the smooth stretch of skin before him, his mind began to feel as if it was about to begin a long distance race, mentally drawing maps of the female body with highlighted erogenous zones and 'x' marks the spot where he knew he was particularly skilled in tactical maneuvers. Usually. He had never actually demonstrated any of this masculine prowess for her.

Scully's hand ran through the thick of his hair at the nape of his neck. He knew this sensation. It was a patented Scully exercise of affection and concern. The familiarity of the touch soothed him. He felt his brain begin to blessedly slow.

She was Botticelli's Venus spread out for his consumption, he reflected, seized for a instant by a moment of romanticism and relishing the feel of his body against her.

"Mulder," she spoke his name into his clavicle, her voice wavering.

He could feel her breath coming in quick succession under the initial ministrations he directed to the softness of her inner thigh. Her hands dipped down towards his pelvis and he stopped her short, batting away her hands with his own.

"Whoa, hold on there," he panted into her hairline. "This is supposed to be an improvement."

Hours of foreplay and tantric like sex. Or something. He didn't know anymore. His brain was shutting off.

"Next time," she said, pushing away the hand he was holding out to block her and grasping his dick. "Next time," she repeated, sounding impatient.

Her hand was warm and she gripped him tightly, so that he thought fleetingly that this might be over before it ever began.

"Scully," he implored, "let go, baby."

"Baby?" she deadpanned.

"Shh…" he indulgently corrected her.

She chuckled, shaking slightly beneath him in a pleasant jiggle of flesh, but dutifully stopped speaking. Laughter would normally be humiliating at this stage of the game, but Scully so rarely laughed that Mulder rather liked that she was. He wouldn't mind spending every evening making love to her while she laughed softly at him.

He bit his bottom lip as his tip brushed her entrance. She was wet. Maybe hours of foreplay weren't entirely necessary. Maybe she was right: Next time.

He pushed into her, slowly.

"Oh God," Scully mumbled against him, as he reached the limit of his length.

She was tighter than he remembered. And slick like the inside of his cheek. He balled the pillow in his grasp, trying to avoid falling over the edge just yet. He hadn't felt anything the last time. Now he felt everything in an overwhelming torrent of physical sensation and emotion.

"Scully," he rasped, "I love you."

"I know."

It was already an improvement.