Title: Fate's Choice

Author: Ayiana

Fandom: X-Files

Pairing: Mulder/Scully

Archival: Please ask

Disclaimer: The X-Files television show doesn't belong to me. Neither do Mulder or Scully. This story is intended for entertainment purposes only.

Rating: R

Category: Missing Scene (MSR)

Spoilers: Seventh season episode "All Things"

A/N: I've written for Stargate SG1 and JAG before this, but this is my first X-Files fic. Feels a little strange writing for a show that's been off the air for this long, but the story wouldn't be denied and I knew I wouldn't be able to write anything else until I got this out of my head.

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She awoke to the unblinking gaze of a Dalmatian molly. For several long moments, they exchanged gazes, she in her world, he in his. When recognition started to seep into her sleep fogged brain, she realized that she was still on Mulder's couch. She was alone now in the darkness of the night, but at some point he'd covered her with a soft woolen blanket, and she nestled into its warmth, secure in the knowledge that not many places in the universe were safer than where she sat at this very moment.

They'd been talking about something, feet propped up on his coffee table while their tea cooled in a pair of mismatched mugs amidst a jumble of papers and magazines. She couldn't remember the details of their conversation beyond the fact that it had had something to do with choices and fate. Now, as she stretched a crick out of her neck, she wondered why he hadn't woken her and sent her home.

Night noises seeped through the room - the soft hum of the aquarium filter, the occasional rumble of a passing car, and from somewhere nearby the rhythmic ticking of a clock. She yawned, pulled the blanket closer around her shoulders, and vaguely considered going home to her own bed.

A rustle of bedclothes from the other room drifted to her ear, and she turned her head, peering through the dimness of the night to see if he'd awoken. When he didn't appear, she hesitated, then pushed off the blanket and stood. She'd just check on him, make sure he was okay before putting her shoes back on and letting herself out. She took the time to fold the blanket, laying it neatly across the end of the couch before stepping to the open bedroom door, her vision aided by the watery light from his aquarium.

It was darker in his room, and she had to wait several seconds for her eyes to adjust enough to make out the shape of him sprawled across the bed as though he'd been dropped upon it by an unseen hand. His legs, encased in light cotton pajama bottoms, were tangled in the sheets, and she moved toward him with half-formed intent. He'd rest easier if she straightened his covers, and she told herself she was only returning a favor.

She reached out, one hand collecting a fistful of cotton sheets, the other wrapping itself gently around his lower leg. Lifting his solid weight, she tugged the tangled fabric from beneath, and then eased his leg back down on the mattress, her hand lingering against the taut firmness of muscled calf. He shifted, and her eyes flew to his face, but he merely mumbled something incoherent and slept on, and she breathed a quiet sigh of relief.

She moved around the bed, angling for better access to his other leg. Then she repeated the process - lift, pull, release, and it too was free of the sheets. Pleased with herself, she tugged the covers up, and if she did it slowly, she told herself that she was just being careful not to wake him, that it had nothing to do with her lingering glances along his skin as it disappeared beneath the soft cotton.

Mission accomplished, she allowed herself a final glance at his face, one more look at this man who had come to mean so much to her over the years that the prospect of ever having to live a life without him bore all the earmarks of an eleventh ring of hell. Her gaze traveled over chin and cheek, finally coming to rest on his eyes. Dark and shadowed in the dimness of the night, they were open, and she felt the intensity of his gaze burn into her soul.

"Scully?" Sleep burred, his voice reached out to her through the darkness.

"Yeah."

"You okay?"

"I'm fine, Mulder. Sorry I fell asleep on you."

"You were tired."

She nodded and reached to straighten a wrinkle in the sheets. "Thanks for the blanket."

"You're welcome."

Their eyes met, and Scully felt something, some unnamed tide of emotion, begin to fill the space between them, its force lapping at the rough edges of her psyche. She stepped back. "I should go."

He reached out to her, his long fingers wrapping around her wrist and chaining her by his side. He didn't say anything, just held her gently, his thumb barely grazing the inside of her wrist, eyes still fixed on her face.

"Why are you here, Scully?" The rough edges had left his voice, replaced by something deep and mellow that held her to him more surely than his touch upon her skin. She swallowed hard. How to explain her presence in his room when she could have just let herself out of the apartment and been on her way?

"I heard you in here... Thought maybe you were having a nightmare."

He didn't comment, instead continuing to watch her in that way of his that let her know every atom of his being was focused on her - and all the while his thumb continued its hypnotic movement against her skin.

"So you decided to check on me," he finally said. "Were you expecting werewolves?" His lips quirked into a grin, and she couldn't help but smile back even as she rolled her eyes.

"Not exactly." She made a show of looking at the clock. "Seriously, Mulder. I need to go."

"No you don't."

"Excuse me?" She raised an eyebrow, pretending ignorance in an attempt to buy time.

He shrugged, one bare shoulder lifting above the whiteness of the sheet. "Wouldn't be the first time you've slept on my couch."

"No, but..."

"But what?"

She huffed out a frustrated sigh. "But nothing." Pulling her hand away from his, she moved to the door. "I'll call you tomorrow."

He didn't try to stop her. She'd known he wouldn't, had counted on him to save her from the chasm she felt opening up beneath her feet.

"Scully?"

She turned in the doorway. "What?"

"Drive carefully."

She nodded once and left, gathering her things and slipping out the door before she could change her mind. It wasn't until she was in the elevator and heading down that she realized what she was doing. She was running away from the surge of feeling that had nearly overwhelmed her as she'd stood by his bedside. Irrational fear had nipped sharply at her heels, its razor edged teeth chasing her away from the man who meant more to her than life itself. As the realization dawned, she reached out with a trembling finger and pushed the red button, bringing the elevator to a shuddering stop somewhere between the second and third floors.

Is this what her relationship with Daniel had taught her? That love must perforce bring pain? And even if it were true that love and heartbreak were inextricably joined, was it smarter to avoid love altogether as she had tried so hard to do? Or, was it better to forge ahead, damn the torpedoes, and suffer what Shakespeare referred to as the "slings and arrows of outrageous fortune" with stoic grace?

She glanced up at the floor indicator and then past it in the direction of Mulder's apartment. In denying what she felt for him, had felt for years, was she protecting herself? Or was she, as she was now beginning to suspect, sacrificing the one relationship in the universe that could save her from herself?

Taking a deep breath, she reached out and pushed the button, steadying herself as the elevator jerked into motion once more. She had a choice to make, a decision that would have a life changing effect on both of them. She knew she could wait, put it off as they had both done for more time than she cared to think about. After all, the elevator was already coming to a stop on the ground floor, its doors sliding soundlessly open on a deserted lobby. It would be a simple matter to step out, leave the building, and pretend that what had happened to her over the past couple of days had been a fluke resulting from a chance meeting in a crowded hospital.

She let herself in quietly, locking the door behind her with a soft click and slipping out of her shoes. Then, taking a deep breath, she moved into his bedroom on silent feet. He still lay where she'd left him, his head turned toward the door as though he'd watched it until he could no longer keep his eyes open. Stopping beside him, she reached down to brush her fingers through his dark hair.

"Did you forget something?" He murmured without opening his eyes.

"You might say that." She sat down, careful not to trap his body beneath the covers. His eyes came open at the feel of her on the mattress, but he didn't say anything, just watched her curiously.

"There's something I didn't tell you earlier," she said quietly.

"Oh?"

She told him about the woman with the pony tail, the one who'd saved her from the accident, led her to the temple, and finally somehow morphed into him. Her words, low and steady, didn't falter until the very end, the part where she caught up to the woman only to realize she'd found him. She traced the outline of his face, so dear to her. "Thank you."

"For what?"

"For being my touchstone."

When he reached for her, sliding a hand up her arm and pulling her head gently down to his, she didn't resist.

Their kiss on New Year's Eve had been sweet but laced with unanswered questions. This was different. There were no questions here, only faith and trust and a long overdue acceptance of the depth of their feelings for one another. His lips moved across her own, and on his breath she caught the barest hint of herbal tea. She ran her fingers through the richness of his hair before shifting to trace the crest of his ear, the ridge of his jaw, and on down to outline the juncture of shoulder and neck, amazed by the way the mere feel of him could cause her heart to race.

His fingers were busy as well, rifling through the silken strands of her hair before coming to rest on the tender skin of her cheek, holding her still while he explored. She felt his tiny nibbling kisses against the corner of her mouth and returned the caress before moving to deepen their exchange, welcoming him to her with a lover's touch for the first time.

She wasn't surprised when he responded by pulling back to look searchingly into her eyes.

"Dana?" He traced the curve of her face with one long finger. "Are you..."

Smiling slightly, she traced the boundaries of his mouth, etching the tactile images into her mind. "I'm tired of waiting, Mulder. Tired of waiting for a time when we aren't chasing monsters."

He continued to watch her, his eyes staring deeply into hers as though testing the truth of her words. "It'll change everything."

She shook her head. "It'll change nothing." A lock of hair fell over her eyes, and he eased it back behind her ear.

He shifted his body to the center of the bed and lifted the covers without breaking eye contact. Lying down beside him, she nestled into the warmth of the sheets and the strength of his form, certain that nothing that felt this good could possibly be wrong. She felt the touch of his hand against her hip as he pulled her close; felt the warmth that radiated from that single point of contact as it coursed through her body. Nervous again, though not because she doubted her decision, she reached up to him.

He came to her, his lips settling on hers in the darkness, his hand easing beneath the edge of her sweater to find its place against her spine. That first skin to skin contact drew a low moan from the back of her throat, and she arched her back, wordlessly offering him the most precious gift she had to give - herself.

If in the past she had thought his fascination with pornography would make him a selfish lover, she now discovered how wrong she had been. His tender reverence brought tears to her eyes and freed her to touch him - to revel in the tracery of muscle beneath his firm skin, to run her fingers through his dark hair and across the solid strength of thinly covered bone, and to respond to his increasingly heated kisses with rising passion of her own.

His hand slid over and around her, simultaneously cradling and sculpting her body as he eased the green sweater over her head, pausing for just a moment to untangle her necklace from the delicate knit fabric. He settled it back in its place against her chest, following it with his lips before moving on to outline the cotton edge of her bra. The warm moisture of his kiss against her sensitive skin urged from her a tide of feeling she hadn't known herself capable of, and suddenly she was desperate to be close, aching for more and hating the barriers that still kept them apart.

"Mulder..." The single whispered word brought his head up, his eyes burning with need. She held his gaze while she reached for his hand, bringing it to her lips to kiss the knuckles and then guiding him to the simple front clasp of her bra. "Please."

She pulled his head back down for another drugging kiss as she felt him deftly release the closure. The thought flitted through her mind that he'd done that with remarkable skill, but there was no time to dwell on it because he touched her, and her breath caught, and stars flared behind her eyelids as she gasped for air.

He took his time, learning the shape and feel of her with lean fingers before lifting his head, his eyes grazing over her skin and leaving a trail of molten lava in their wake. When she moved restlessly against him he returned his gaze to her face.

"God you're beautiful," he said, the words little more than a whisper. She ducked her head, unused to the flattery, but he caught her chin and forced her to look at him. "Trust me on this one."

In response, she reached up to trace the shape of his lips, catching her breath when she felt him nip lightly at the sensitive tip of her finger. She shifted, instinctively angling her hips toward him in a silent plea for release. The she reached down, sliding her hand inside the waistband of his pajamas and giving them an impatient tug. "Enough talk," she said. "Make love to me, Mulder."

With a hint of a smile, he pressed a single feather light kiss at the corner of her mouth before pulling away. Cool air wafted over her in the absence of his warmth, but before she could complain, he was back, his hand finding its way to the side zipper of her skirt. The quiet echo of its teeth giving way brought her eyes back to his, and when he slid his hand inside the waistband she reached to help him remove the final barriers between them.

He pulled her into his arms, and she tilted her head to receive another deep kiss, burying her fingers in his hair and moaning her pleasure at the feel of his skin against her own. He trailed kisses across her face, then along her jaw and across the vulnerable skin of her neck. He paused there for a moment, nibbling lightly at her sensitive skin before moving on again, this time to explore her breasts, an action that drew a deep shuddering moan from her.

On again then explore her stomach and hips, his tongue darting out to moisten skin that goosebumped in the cool night air when he left it to search out new territory. Further still, strong hands in the lead, followed by kisses that had her writhing beneath him, her hips moving now of their own volition, instinct prevailing over thought - female calling to male. Her hands tangled in his hair and she tugged gently, pulling him back before his mouth could drive her over the edge. She'd felt his fullness against her, and she needed to be a part of that like she needed air.

"Please..." she said, her low murmur sounding almost desperate to her own ears. "I need you."

After one more soul affirming kiss, he reached across her to the bedside table, fumbling in the drawer for a moment. She took the opportunity to taste him, smiling when a well-placed nip made him jerk against her. She heard something fall off the table, heard his low-curse, and smiled to herself, pleased at her power. Then he was beside her again, and she saw the glimmer of foil in his hand. Bracing himself on his elbow, he started to tear it open with his teeth but stopped at the touch of her hand.

"No," she said.

"Scully..." He looked into her eyes, but she shook her head.

"There's no point, Mulder."

He must've seen the brief flash of sadness in her eyes, because he tossed the condom aside with a low curse before pulling her to him in a gesture of love and support that touched her heart more than any act of sexual gratification ever could.

"I'm sorry," he said, and though he'd said it before she knew how deeply he meant it.

"It's okay." She lifted her hips, shifting against him. "Just... Love me."

"That part," he said with another kiss, "is easy."

Seconds later, he held himself above her so that a single small movement of his hips would join them, two becoming one. "You're so small," he said quietly. "Don't let me hurt you."

"You could never hurt me." She rested her hands on his hips, pulling him to her as she rose to meet him.

Their eyes met and held, and Scully felt the portent of this moment wash over her. No longer just friends or even best friends, he was now her lover in the deepest sense of the word. She had no wish to turn back, no second thoughts or doubts, no fear that what she was doing would somehow backfire. Instead, she welcomed him to her, certain that nothing she had ever done had been more right than the giving of herself - body, heart, and soul - to Fox Mulder.

His eyes didn't leave her face as he moved, slowly at first, then faster as she responded to him, her movements synchronized with his. Tension began to build, and still he watched her. When she threw her head back and arched her back - pulling at his hips with her graceful hands, calling out to him without words - he answered the summons.

Faster then, the world around them shrinking, excluding all but this moment, this final human connection between two souls finding their way home. Soon, desperate for completion, for that final single thrust that would send her over the edge, she let out a sound that fell somewhere between a whimper and a plea, a sound she was barely even aware of, but that somehow served as the final catalyst. He pushed into her one final time and she felt him shudder. The warmth of his release tipped the scales, sending her after him off the cliff, and for several long seconds it was all they could do to breathe.

It was a long time before she became aware of his body stretched out beside hers on the damp sheets. Both were still breathing hard, their bodies slick with moisture but cooling now in the darkness. He met her eyes, and she smiled at him, oddly shy. Without a word he gathered her close, and then pressed a tender kiss at her hairline. With his other hand, he tugged at the sheet, pulling it up and over them both before tucking it gently in around her.

Yin and yang, she thought irrelevantly as her eyes slid closed. Faith versus science, logic versus conviction, reason versus love. Sometimes opposites really did attract. And sometimes, what appeared to be a choice was really just fate's way of closing the deal. Smiling to herself at the odd flight of fancy, she curled into the warmth of his body and drifted off to sleep.