SUMMARY: He's clutching a dozen cellophane-wrapped daffodils.
DISCLAIMER: These characters do not belong to me and no copyright infringement is intended on my part.
DATE POSTED: October 2008
WORD COUNT: 1,778
NOTE: This story is for aloysiavirgata, for inspiring my love for this pairing with her delicious Pair of Aces/Double or Nothing. And for icedteainthebag for awesome beta and even better friendship.
He arrives at seven sharp, jacket and tie, smelling like shampoo. He's clutching a dozen cellophane-wrapped daffodils.
Daffodils. They smell like springtime - sunshine and starched Easter dresses.
She can't remember the last time a man gave her flowers. Or, at least the last time a man gave her flowers when she wasn't in the hospital, ill or horribly injured.
He eats her lasagna with impeccable table manners, lightly holding the fork and knife with his long fingers, napkin on his lap, taking measured sips of wine.
He's not as reserved as usual, out of the shadow of his garrulous partners for once. They talk about the politics of the Civil War, the rise of liberation theology in Latin America, the ethics of stem cell research. She listens with interest, pouring them some more wine every so often. They go through two bottles in no time at all.
John Byers may be a conspiracy theorist, but he's the kind of conspiracy theorist she could bring home to her mother. He was even raised Catholic, an altar boy for two years.
She lights the candles on the cake and carries it out to him at the table. German chocolate, his favorite. She managed to inconspicuously winkle that piece of information out of Frohike.
"Happy Birthday," she says.
"You didn't have to do all this," he says, looking sheepish.
"I wanted to. It's your birthday. Blow out the candles and make a wish."
He thinks for a minute, his eyes closed, and then blows out the candles.
On the couch now, with coffee. She's had four glasses of wine, but she's not drunk. On the contrary, her head has never felt clearer.
"Have you heard from them?" she asks. She stares at the dancing flames in the hearth.
"Frohike called last night. He sounded drunk, said there were a lot of 'hotties' there."
She rolls her eyes. "How come you didn't go with them?"
"Star Trek isn't really my thing, least of all a Star Trek convention."
She pictures Frohike, Langly and Mulder, walking in a crowd of badly costumed Vulcans and Klingons. It makes her smile. She knows for a fact that Mulder plans to stand in line to get his picture taken with Nichelle Nichols. He's had a thing for Uhura since he was a boy.
She wonders if he'll stumble into some sort of trouble at the convention. Probably - it follows him around like a stray dog.
It's nice to have a man at her place, even if it's just good old Byers. An excuse to light the fire, fluff the pillows, wear perfume.
Sometimes she forgets that she's a woman.
"Are you all right?" she asks.
They've moved on to cognac, a nice bottle of Remy Martin XO that Bill and Tara gave her a few Christmases ago.
Byers furrows his brow. "What do you mean?"
Her voice is gentle. "With what happened in Las Vegas, with Susanne..."
He sighs sharply. "I've come to realize that I'd been living for more than ten years with a fantasy. I'd built up this dream world around her, but it's never going to come true."
"What did you dream about?" She touches his knee.
"Nothing special. Just a normal life with her - house, kids, a dog. Pretty stupid, huh?"
"No," she says, "it's not stupid at all." She's surprised to feel tears welling in her eyes.
Byers takes her hand and squeezes it. "You dream about those things, too."
She nods and blinks away the tears. There's no use crying about the choices she's made.
"You love him, don't you?" There's no need for Byers to say his name.
"Of course I do."
His voice is soft. "He loves you, you know."
"So why is it so complicated?"
She swishes the brandy around in the snifter. "If I knew the answer to your question, it wouldn't be quite so complicated, would it?"
The fire is beginning to die down to embers. It's late. By all rights, she should yawn and stretch to indicate that it's time for him to be on his way.
She should do the sensible thing. It's what she always does. But she's warm and full of good food and wine. Her stomach is glowing from the smoky cognac. He brought her daffodils.
He's a man, a reasonably attractive man who is kind and good.
For just one night she'd like to be a woman.
She leans over and kisses him, square on the lips.
Byers stiffens and pulls away. Her stomach rolls. I've made a mistake, she thinks.
"What was that?" he asks.
"I'm sorry," she says, her cheeks hot. "Call it a birthday kiss."
"It's just...it's just that Mulder's my friend."
She lays a hand on his jacket. "I don't belong to Mulder. Not in that way. Maybe I will someday, but not tonight."
He nods thoughtfully.
She takes a deep breath. "Spend the night with me."
His ears turn red. "Are you serious?"
"I wouldn't ever joke about something like this, Byers." She smiles.
He kisses her with soft lips. She's never kissed a man with a beard before. It's softer than she'd expected, not scratchy at all.
Her eyes flutter closed, her mouth opens under his. She can hear the embers popping in the fireplace.
She lights candles in the bedroom. She has dozens and dozens of candles, buys them almost compulsively, but she judiciously lights only four.
They undress each other with unhurried hands. She unknots his tie and slides it out from under the collar of his suit. She's hardly ever seen him without a jacket and tie. He looks younger, softer.
His cool fingers unbutton her blouse, unhook her bra. He lightly trails his hand from her neck to her navel. "Beautiful," he whispers.
The room is warm, but she shivers.
On the wide expanse of her bed, she lies back in a nest of pillows as he spreads her legs, his beard tickling her inner thighs.
Oh, how she wants this. She didn't realize how much she wanted it until now.
Byers takes his time, exploring her with his fingers and tongue, as if he's mapping her for a future expedition. She sighs, her fingers tangled in his brown hair, as he patiently teases her with a pointed tongue.
He lifts his head. "Mmm," he says. "Like a honeycomb. Dripping and sweet."
John Byers, a poet in bed. Who would have guessed?
She comes silently, shuddering as the pleasure overtakes her.
He curls into her, his hand absently stroking her breasts. "I'm nervous," he admits. "It's been a very long time."
"Like riding a bike," she says.
"I haven't ridden a bike in a long time, either."
He hardens in her hand, magically springing to life as she strokes him. She'd forgotten how soft a man's cock is, even when fully erect, silky against her hand.
"I want you," he says, face flushing.
How powerful to be wanted. Desire blooms in her again.
He rolls on top of her and he's gentle at first, so gentle, sliding in and out of her with meticulous, even strokes.
For a second, she shuts her eyes and it's Mulder inside her - his cock, his hands, his ragged breathing.
Her eyes snap open. No. Mulder doesn't belong here. This isn't their time.
There's fucking and there's making love.
She fucked Mike Jacoby in the bathroom at the SAE house, drunk on keg beer and Jagermeister shots.
There was a night when she had a snake etched on her back. A handsome, damaged man pushed her against a wall. He bit her shoulders and neck. Ed made her come three times as he fucked her on the couch in his dark, empty living room as a storm raged over Philadelphia.
She doesn't love Byers, although it would be easy to do so, if she let herself. But she's signed away her heart and soul to someone else.
Still, this is making love all the same. This is sweetness, sunshine and windows flung open to the early spring air.
She's almost ashamed of how grateful she is for this.
The water almost slops over the edge of the tub as she leans back against his chest. He wraps his arms around her.
"What are you thinking about?" he asks. He kisses her neck.
"About how natural this feels," she says.
He laughs. "Crazy, isn't it? If someone had told me earlier today that I'd end up in your bathtub with you, I would have suggested they get intensive psychiatric help."
His voice is hesitant. "Was this something you planned?"
She laughs. "Are you trying to seduce me, Mrs. Robinson?"
She snorts. "No, not at all. I was just inviting a friend over for dinner. But then you had to go and bring me daffodils."
"Ah, so that's what I've been missing all this time."
Her laughter turns to another sound altogether as his hand reaches between her legs. His soapy fingers find her clit and softly circle.
"This is what I wished for," he whispers in her ear. "But I didn't actually think it would come true."
She takes him deep inside, riding him lazily. His hands grasp her shoulders, guiding her.
"This is the best birthday ever," he gasps.
"Happy Birthday," she says, her orgasm off in the distance, like thunder just over the horizon.
Byers sleeps, dark eyelashes against pale skin. She touches his cheek and smiles.
She shuts the door behind him, locks it, and leans against it for a moment, eyes closed.
Her body feels sore, well-used, well-loved. She feels alive.
She touches the daffodils in the vase. There's a part of her that naggingly tells her she should feel guilty, like she's broken an unspoken promise, but she just can't.
It was supposed to be for just one night, but she wants more. She wants to run outside and ask him back in, invite him to stay all day so they can make love, loll about in bed, tell stories.
This time, good sense wins. At least for now.
She sets the vase near the window, where the daffodils can thrive in the sunshine.