Well, it could always be worse.
You open your eyes gradually, adjusting to the bright sunrise of the Hawaiian beach and think about the joke of a case you'd been sent on. Hell, the suspect had never set foot on the island! But you thank your lucky stars that the next FBI budget suiting flight back to the mainland wasn't until Monday, so you had the whole weekend to enjoy the sunshine. A vacation was an incredibly rare event in your life, even if it was just for the weekend.
You roll onto your front and cast your gaze down the long expanse of soft sand until your eyes hit the only negative development in this unexpected chain of events. Diana Fowley. How coincidental, you think to yourself for what must be the hundredth time. Her arrival last night had left you pissed off and quite frankly a little jealous, although you would never admit it to anyone. Her involvement in the Gibson Praise case had annoyed you no end, and you were almost a little hurt that Mulder had never mentioned her to you. You glare at her, sunbathing as you are but somehow looking that much better as she does it. You hate everything about the woman, how she looks you up and down when she sees you, how she looks - especially that her curves and larger breasts make you seem scrawny by comparison. But mostly you hate how she looks at him. How those puppy dog eyes seem to betray females everywhere by playing to a helpless stereotype, and how she obviously checks his ass out in front of you, as if asserting her sexual dominance.
All these things set aside, though, there's something off about her that you just can't place. A quality that adds to your distrust, and makes you wonder exactly who she's loyal to and why.
She rolls over and you look away suddenly, worried she'll catch you, and your eyes find themselves a new target.
"Checking out the competition, are we Scully?" A familiarly annoying, smug tone coos from your left side and you roll your eyes, saying nothing, but all too aware of the hot blush rippling across your cheeks. You won't raise to the bait, but not even you can deny how obvious it must be that 'competition' is exactly how you perceive Diana Fowley.
Fox Mulder sits himself down next to you, and you gaze up at him, praying he isn't checking her out too. You feel rather pleased about the fact that it's you he's chosen to sit by, but you scald yourself for having such a juvenile thought. He looks down at you, smirking, and you can see a childlike glint in his eye that tells you he's about to irritate you in some way, with another crazy idea. You start to protest before it's even begun, but he's grabbed you by the hand and pulled you up from the warm, comfortable sand and is dragging you toward the clear water. You can't help but smile a little, as he grips your hand tightly and leads you in, but your smile soon fades when the freezing water laps at your toes. You instinctively take a step back and drop his hand, and he turns toward you with a laugh, but backs himself in deep enough to plunge his shoulders under.
You know he notices you checking him out as he stands up, dripping wet and shimmering as the sunlight reflects from the water, but you glare at him and he knows damn well not to press it. You fold your arms defensively over your chest, afraid that he's about to grab you and either hug you or drop you in, but an unwelcome voice saves you from the humiliation.
"Fox!" She calls, and despite your sunglasses he notices your eyes roll before he meets her gaze. She wades into the water toward him, purposefully ignoring you. "Fancy a swim?" She asks playfully, but you know she's not done. "I don't think Dana likes the cold water" There it is, always with the belittling. He accepts, but you know him well enough to see he feels a bit uncomfortable at ditching you, and even he wasn't dense enough to miss such an obviously harsh comment.
"Have fun" You fake a smile, and turn to look Diana dead in the eye. "Thanks for the rescue" You lace it with a sarcasm only a woman would notice, and Mulder smiles, missing the point entirely and assuming you're happy to be let off the swim.
You make your way back to your towel and shake the sand from it, getting yourself comfortable as you ponder, and not for the first time, why she bothers you so much. It's not as if you're in love with Mulder, and you're not even really sure what you feel for him. You've suspected for a while that he has feelings for you, a sort of women's intuition thing perhaps, but then you saw him with her and it really bothered you. She was allowed to touch him in a way that you thought only you were, allowed to hug him and hold him and be there for him, and that really hit a nerve. You recall racing back to your car one time to gather yourself, and denying that you'd ever seen anything. What the hell was that?
And then that had happened. In a moment of confused passion and anger and hurt and lust, he'd told you just what you meant to him and you'd come so close to kissing, and you would have if it hadn't been for a convenient paralysing bee sting in that very second, but you can still recall to this moment the heat of his breath and the way your heart absolutely raced for him. You've never been quite the same since.
The prospect of dinner with Mulder somehow amuses you, but you wonder if it's more entertaining because you know that she will be dining too, but elsewhere in the hotel's restaurant and alone. You decide that you will look good, and thank your lucky stars that this would have been an undercover mission, and your typical holiday goer's attire included a tight fitting, knee length black dress for dinner. Showing just enough cleavage to get a man's attention without being labelled a slut, you fix a few pins into your straight hair to give it a different look, and add a darker eyeshadow to your classic makeup routine. You feel the part when Mulder opens the door, and for a few seconds you catch yourself gazing at each other - something about a dark grey suit on a man always gets your attention.
"Looking good Scully" He comments, and there is a bit less cheek in his tone, making you wonder if you've achieved your goal of surprising him.
As he walks you into the restaurant you feel a restrained pressure in the fingertips resting on the small of your back, and wonder what's going through his mind. Idle chat slips into play before you order, and when the waitress comes you laugh with disgust as he orders a shrimp starter. You've never been a fan of shrimp.
When the starters arrive you stare in awe at the decadent mess of spiced chicken and feign horror at the site of his sweet chilli shrimp. He rolls his eyes at you, exaggerating his delight at the taste as he takes a mouthful. You don't see Diana walk past until you notice the hand ruffling his hair, leaving it only to flash a wave and a wink in his direction. When he's smiled a hello her way, he turns back to where you're still glaring at the spot she was standing in and laughs outright.
"Humour me, Scully, what is it about her that gets you so wound up?"
"I'm not wound up!" You protest, but it's futile. He knows as well as you do how much you hate that woman to her very bones. You decide to half admit the truth. "I just don't trust her"
"And what has she done to lose your trust?" He looks genuinely interested, and Your heart sinks a little, wondering if he wants you to accept her for other reasons.
"Nothing..." You mutter. "Women's intuition I guess."
You eat in a slightly awkward silence for a few moments until he changes the topic, insisting on taking you into the city centre tomorrow to see the sights. You grin along and mock his enthusiasm just the right amount, but you can't help but feel bothered by the way he can't see through Diana. He chooses well and decides not to press the issue, leaving her out of the conversation through the whole of dinner.
As you stand up to leave though, you're treated once again with the delightful call of "Fox!". You don't even understand why she's allowed to use his first name. You tried once, years ago, and he told you outright he hated it. You don't care when he calls you Dana. He turns to face her and you pray once again that he's not checking her out.
"Fox, I have a problem." She begins and you purposefully look away, dreading where this might be leading. "The hairdryer in my room blew, and they can't get me another as they're fully booked, but it's not safe. Would I be able to stay in yours?"
Your stare turns blank and cold, as if the table in your eyeline has done the most dreadful thing, and you wonder just how low she can sink. You even wonder where your complimentary hairdryer is, because you sure as hell don't have one in your room. She wouldn't be so petty as to make it up, would she? Your heart is on the floor as you know Mulder can only agree, and when you hear the resounding "Yeah, sure" escape his lips, you have to swallow tight and ground your feet to the floor, afraid you might run a mile.
But then he does something you don't expect, and you know he's doing it for you.
"No problem, I'm sure I can kip on Scully's sofa bed for the night."
You look up at him with wide, surprised eyes, but a glimmer of hope that you can't quite stop from escaping. You shrug and nod with a genuine smile, made even brighter by the disheartened expression plastered over Diana.
He agrees to meet her outside his room in a few moments to exchange keys, and you suggest he comes along to yours when he's ready. God knows you could do with a few moments alone just to celebrate the silent victory.
"How come you didn't want to spend your evening with the world's greatest then?" I tease. He shrugs and laughs, but you notice him whisper two words you weren't meant to hear. I am.
You prance quite happily to your room, but as you reach the door you stop and sigh, realising exactly where you slipped the key as your dress does not have pockets. Mulder's jacket. You're sure he'll change before he reaches you, so you set back off down the corridor towards his room dejectedly. The door is slightly ajar when you reach it, so you push quietly on it, unwilling to make him jump, and immediately spot the jacket on the coat hook by the door.
You quickly reach for it before you notice what else is decorating the room. In the centre, on the bed, a familiar figure straddling your partner, lips locked forcefully with his.
You rip the jacket from the hook and peel yourself from the room and the sight before you, slamming the door behind you without a care as you tear down the corridor and slide into your room. She obviously didn't take long to win him back. You lock the door shut as the tears begin to fall, and you hate yourself for feeling like this, particularly about someone you shouldn't. You won't let yourself cry over him. You know it won't be long until he gets to your room, whether he comes after you or he enjoys his time with Diana first, and you can't bear the thought of him seeing you sobbing over him, it wouldn't agree with his already overinflated ego. You decide on a hot shower, hoping that it will disguise the redness on your face and the wet tears rolling off your cheeks.
Only moments after you've stripped off and sat yourself down in the shower that you start to notice the pounding on the door outside, but you choose to pretend you can't hear. A few minutes go by like this, and when you've stopped crying and composed yourself just enough, you step out of the water, slipping back into your underwear. Another bang on the door and a desperate sounding "Scully!" hit your ears, and you realise you can't leave him outside much longer.
"Just a second" You call calmly, and the pounding subsides. You drag a thin nightdress over your head and wrap yourself in your robe, curling your hair into the towel like a turban on the top of your head. Before you unlock the door you take a slow, deep breath and prepare yourself to smile. When you see him, your first thought is of his welfare, because the sheer panic on his face is an expression you've only seen from him when one of you are in danger.
"Are you alright?" You ask quietly, feigning ignorance. You take a step back and allow him inside. He nods with a furrowed brow and heads for the bed, perching himself on the end.
"Scully, that wasn't what it looked like." He begins, and you don't want to hear it. You don't want to know his excuses or know how he feels about her because frankly you're not sure you can take it.
"I don't care, Mulder." You shake your head and look away, signalling for him to stop talking and shut up.
"Please just let me explain..." He obviously doesn't get the message.
You snap then, and with a little more force in your voice than you intended you're half-yelling at him. "It's none of my business!"
"Of course it's your busi..."
"No, Mulder, it's not." You stop him short and he looks almost hurt. "It's not my business. You're just my work partner. What you choose to do in your personal life is up to you."
He's looking for something to say, some words to formulate that will make things better but none are forthcoming. You decide there and then to put him out of his misery and make things better for both of us.
"Look, I expect she's there waiting for you, so I suggest you go back." You mutter, and he glares at you.
"Scully..." He says softly, and you're hurting so much that you can't help but let him continue. He stands up and takes a step toward you so that he can reach out and take your hand and you let him. "Scully you're not just my work partner, you know that. You're my best friend, and the only person I trust." It's not much, but somehow the weight on your chest eases a little. "Can I explain?" He implores, but you shake your head.
"I don't want to hear it Mulder. She's your ex, and if you're happy then I'm happy for you." You're not quite where those words came from but you're happy that you found them. They have the right effect.
"Well to be honest I'm not happy." He sighs deeply, and you wondering where he's going with this, so you let him continue. "She's my ex for a reason, Scully, and I promise you I didn't want that to happen, I didn't do anything she just grabbed me and before I knew it she'd pushed me back onto the bed and you slammed the door shut."
You wonder at his lack of surprise - he never asked how you knew she was his ex-girlfriend. You're still not sure you believe him, you recall him using a similar excuse once before, but you'd rather believe his version of the story than the one your suspicions told you. "It doesn't matter, Mulder, it's okay."
He pulls you in by the hand and before you know it your head is resting against his chest. You don't like noticing that his top two buttons are missing, so you find yourself closing your eyes to black out that particular detail. His arm is warm and protective around your back, and he sighs as he buries his head into your hair. "You're my best friend too, Mulder."
"I didn't mean to hurt you." He whispers. You pull back, a little surprised by this assumption. Maybe you're not quite as good an actress as you give yourself credit for, but then maybe he just knows you well enough to see past it. As if he knows what you're thinking, he continues. "Come on, Scully, I'd be hurt." He admits.
You stare up at him from the embrace with a slightly furrowed brow, and realise that, in a roundabout way, he just admitted that his feelings were more than strictly professional, and somehow that gives you joy. You're too stunned to reply, and after a moment he smiles and drops his arms, kisses your forehead gently, and crosses to the sofa, where he begins tugging at its innards to drag out the bed inside. He never fails to amaze you. You sit yourself down at the end of the bed, mind racing, and wonder where to go from here. Mulder has opened himself up, and made himself vulnerable, and you're just sat here like it means nothing. But what do you really want from this situation? The events of the last hour have established that there is more in you than just a mere suggestion of a crush on him, but you're scared. You're always so scared of anything serious, and let's be honest here, you would never sacrifice your friendship with him for anything less than something serious.
With a loud bang from the sofa you're pulled back to the present, and can't hide a laugh as you realise Mulder is still trying to pull back the sofa bed. You stand and take his hand, and, deciding to be impulsive for once in your life, you pull him toward the bed. "Don't worry about it." You mutter. He needs no encouragement. He smirks and jumps onto the bed instead, scrambling for the television remote that's on the bedside table. He finds a channel he's apparently interested in, and holds his arm out. You welcome the contact and pull toward him, resting your head on his chest as his arm naturally drapes down your side. Maybe you're wrong to deny yourselves the comfort that a romantic relationship would bring, in favour of adhering to protocol and social definitions of normal. In a minute that seems to last years, you've made your decision.
Gradually, carefully, you sit back up. He turns to meet your gaze, a questioning in his eyes, but when you smile at him he returns it gratefully. You think about the speech you'd just prepared to say, but the I do cares and the I need yous melt away under his gaze, and you realise that when it comes to it, the two of you don't need to tell each other anything, because you already know. You know how you feel, even if you can't admit it to yourself, and you know he feels the same. There's something too natural about the way you are together for it to be anything less than love. You wonder if he's thinking the same thing, and he answers your question. Gently, he leans in toward you, lessening the gap between you. You close the gap in an instant, finally allowing yourselves what you've desired for longer than you knew. His lips are soft and firm all at the same time, and you take in his scent as his hand reaches the back of your head and adds a further pressure to the kiss, as if to accentuate his desire for you. You can feel his smile in the kiss and you know he'll feel yours. A moment passes and you wish it never did, but he slowly pulls back and presses his forehead to yours. With relief, you know that it's all over. He's yours, and you are his.
No words need to be spoken.