SUMMARY: When three lives intersect, a triangle is formed.
PAIRINGS: Scully/Skinner, Mulder/Scully
DISCLAIMER: Not mine.
DATE POSTED: January 2000
WORD COUNT: 7,018 for this part
"When I awoke it was early morning. I lay looking up at the blue-green sky with its translucent shawl of mist; like a tiny orb of crystal, solitary and serene, Venus shone through the haze above the quiet ocean...
This was not judgment day-- only morning. Morning: excellent and fair."
Skinner has a favorite theory, one he is thinking about as he parks the car in the lot at Safeway: a man rarely knows when his life is about to change. He doesn't really know why he's thinking about this. It just popped into his head as he backed into the space between two hulking minivans.
He didn't know, as he stood in line at the downtown Minneapolis branch of First Bank, that he would meet his future wife. He had no idea that they would have a wedding with two hundred guests, that they would buy and sell houses together, that he would wake up by her side for so many nights and end it one winter day in a lawyer's office. No, he stood and rocked impatiently from foot to foot and noticed that the woman standing behind him in the camel hair coat had a lovely smile.
And the night he slunk into the hotel bar for a solitary drink, he didn't know that the chatty, pretty blonde who sat beside him was a set-up. As he plunged into her accommodating depths, he'd thought that night was a rare moment of pleasure in his life. He didn't know that everything would change when he found her lying next to him with her neck cruelly twisted.
Skinner certainly didn't know as he flew into Little Rock to deal with a Bureau mess that he and Dana Scully would become lovers that very night. It never even entered his mind as he took the elevator to her hotel room and knocked on her door.
He didn't know that he'd wake the next morning a man transformed, a man utterly in love with a woman he could not have.
He hadn't a clue that he could become an entirely different person just by the simple act of love.
Now he strides into the supermarket with its fresh bread and waxed fruit smell, grabs a cart and tackles the complexities of the produce section, all because of a two sentence email he received in his personal account this morning.
It had said: "My place tonight? If you cook, I'll do the dishes."
His answer had been equally brief. "Seven o'clock."
He'd been warmed by the domesticity of her email. It sounded so normal, as if they were in the habit of meeting after work and sharing cozy meals together. As if nearly every night they went to bed together and rose and began the new day in each other's company.
The truth is, Skinner thinks as he squeezes a mango to see if it's ripe, he can count on his hands the number of full nights they've spent together over the last eight months.
But tonight is one of them and he shivers from the over-enthusiastic air conditioning and anticipation.
She gets her apartment ready for his arrival. New flowers, this time simple daisies in the vase. The sheets are stripped off the bed and new ones put on-- pale blue with tiny white flecks. Feeling like a thief, she turns the ringer off the phone.
It's safe, it's safe tonight, she thinks. Her partner is in New York, giving a speech at a conference.
And then she looks into the mirror and decides she's tired of having to lie, if only by omission. She's never been a talented or enthusiastic liar.
Scully knows that he loves to cook and is much more skilled at it than she is. Tonight he's finally going to make paella, a long and rather complicated procedure he learned on his honeymoon.
He and Sharon stayed for five days in a village in Spain called Asuncion. Their guesthouse was a charmingly shabby place owned by a young couple named Jose and Pilar Garcia. Sharon and Walter spent those days taking long walks through the cobblestone streets of the town, drinking a lot of wine at vineyard tastings and listening to the rusty springs of their bed squeak as they made newlywed love.
One night their hosts invited them for paella. In the courtyard of the house, they sipped sherry and listened attentively as Jose explained the ground rules for making paella. One, a true paella should always be made by a man and made outside on a fire of vine cuttings. Two, paella should contain twelve sprigs of rosemary or two snails. He and Sharon had looked at each other in confusion until Pilar gently explained in her halting English that in their part of Spain the snails used in paella were fed rosemary and thus infused the rice with the flavor of the herb. The third rule was that Valencian paella doesn't contain seafood, but rabbit and chicken.
Skinner smiles a little at this memory. There is no rabbit at Safeway, of course, and there's no way he'll be able to cook his paella outdoors, since Scully has no yard. Luckily Pilar had given him a recipe for a simpler, if less authentic, seafood paella that she swore was as delicious as her husband's stringently genuine dish. When they returned to the States, he and Sharon had made the recipe and found it wonderful. Whenever they wanted to remember the little joys of their honeymoon, they'd gotten out the big soup kettle and made paella.
And now he wants to share this with Scully.
As she tidies up the living room, she finds something shoved between the couch cushions and the back of the couch. She pulls it out and sees it's a navy blue sweatshirt. It's Mulder's shirt. He must have pulled it off in the middle of the night as they slept on her couch last night. She carefully folds the shirt and tucks it on the top shelf of the hall closet, resisting the urge to sniff the sweatshirt. Besides, she doesn't need to. She knows Mulder's smell.
Rental cars, interrogation rooms, fast-food restaurants, sterile hospital rooms, crowded airplanes. She's always surrounded by his scent.
But not tonight. Tonight is for Skinner.
The seafood is looking awfully suspect in the big glass supermarket case, so Skinner decides to stop at Coastal Seafood on the way to Scully's.
Skinner feels out of place, pushing his cart down the aisles of the store, surrounded by young mothers with babies in their carts. The sound system is playing soporific Muzak and he tries not to hear the saccharine version of "The Impossible Dream."
As he reaches for a box of Arborio rice, he isn't really concentrating on the task at hand. He's on autopilot, thinking of the night ahead.
His time with Scully is always borrowed or stolen. He'd be out on his ass if the Director of the Bureau knew how many times he's left the building, ostensibly to attend a meeting, to drive to some out of the way motel or hotel to spend a few hours with his woman. A few, blessed nights have been spent together in his apartment. And one night, semi-drunk after Darlene Simons' wedding, he'd followed Scully to her place and appeared on her doorstep. She'd blinked at him in surprise and gently reminded him why it wasn't wise for them to be together at her apartment, but then had taken him in and into her bed. Before it was light, he'd stolen out of her place and driven home, repeating to himself all the reasons why he shouldn't be involved with one of the agents under his charge.
Although he's wanted to, he's never dared asked her to transfer. He knows how committed she is to the X-Files. But it doesn't stop him from fantasizing about how it would be if she did and they could be together like every other couple in the world.
And being in the supermarket, filling his shopping cart while little kids whine for cookies, doesn't stop him from fantasizing about how it will be tonight with Scully.
He wonders how she'll be tonight. Will he get the soft, loving Scully with her gentle hands and slow, underwater kisses? Or will she be wild and hot, writhing on the sheets and begging for his cock?
For a moment he allows himself to imagine how it would be if they could go somewhere in public. They're at a roadhouse out in the country, smoky and dirty and blasting something by the Stones. Maybe the grinding, slow haze of "Angie." And Scully is seriously out of character tonight, wearing tight jeans and a little red blouse tied around her waist, which offers enticing glimpses of her indrawn navel and her cleavage when she bends down to make a shot at the pool table. Her lips are red and swollen, the lipstick slightly smeared from kissing and drinking. She gyrates her slender hips to the beat of the music and lifts her eyebrow at him as she drinks a shot of whiskey. He can't stand it any longer. He takes her by the arm and hustles her out the door and into the cool night air and they go to the parking lot. Against the car he presses her, snaking his tongue into the depths of her alcohol-saturated mouth and she scrabbles for the fly of his jeans. He's so hard, so hard he can't stand it and he gasps as his cock is freed. Skinner lifts her, God, she's so light, onto the hood of the car and fumbles her jeans off her. Anyone could see them, shit, they could be arrested, but he's not thinking now as he sinks into her amazing heat. "You're mine," he growls in her ear and she looks up at him with eyes shining in the light from the full moon above and nods. She's his, she's his.
With great embarrassment, Skinner finds himself stranded in the meat department, leaning over his cart and practically panting. An old woman in a shabby housedress gives him a strange look and he straightens up and fixes a businesslike expression on his face. His cock is so hard, just begging
to be released from his jeans. God, can anyone see it? He wishes it were cool enough to be wearing a long coat, but this is July in Washington D.C., and he's wearing a black t-shirt, which doesn't exactly cover anything conspicuous. With a sigh, he wheels the cart around to the frozen food
department. Maybe the cold air will do him some good.
She has a hard time dressing tonight. For once she wants to be sexy, wants to be feminine, wants to be soft. Jeans won't do and neither will one of her suits and even her skirts are too tailored and severe. And then she remembers what she has hanging in the back of her closet, the dress she's never had the guts to wear. Tonight she's feeling brave.
And her heart is beating hard and she's not exactly sure if it's anticipation or fear she's feeling.
She knows, even if she can't come right out and admit it to herself, that a decision has to be made, and soon. Skinner's eyes are always searching her face, waiting for her to say something, to make some sort of declaration.
Somehow, she does resent that. He wasn't supposed to fall for her like this.
The truth is that last night changed things. She saw some things in herself, and in Mulder, that she's been unwilling and unable to deal with for a long time.
Last night she saw how the icy layer that had grown between them was melting.
Really, she's beginning to hate herself, just a little bit.
She glances at the clock in the kitchen. He'll be here soon. She craves his touch, needs to spend a few hours in his loving presence. But what does he need? She knows. Yes, she knows. He needs everything.
And she can't give him that, as much as she'd like to.
He's humming as he heads up the sidewalk to her building, his arms full of grocery bags. This is so not like him. Walter Skinner does not hum under any circumstances. Perhaps it's a good sign.
Maybe it's the simple fact that for once, Scully reached out to him. He's always the one to take the initiative, to make the plans for them to get together. She nearly always says yes and always seems pleased at the prospect, but it's usually him.
She answers the door while he's still knocking, as if she were waiting right by the door.
He nearly drops the bags when he sees her and what she's wearing.
Only a few times has he ever seen her in a dress. Of course, female FBI agents don't have a lot of occasions to wear dresses. It's not like there's a Bureau Ball or anything. Scully is wearing a sleeveless dark blue dress that looks like cotton. It hangs down nearly to her ankles and hugs her figure, although it isn't tight. She smiles to see him and turns around so they can both go inside. His gasp is repeated as he sees that there is no back to the dress, save six rows of thin strings that tie. Oh my God, will she be offended if he throws the bags to the ground and ravishes her right there in her foyer? He can see the multicolored snake on her back teasing him as it appears and reappears from where the dress begins again at the small of her back.
He's in trouble tonight.
Skinner manages to fumble his way through a greeting and a kiss and gets the perishables in the refrigerator.
"What are you making?" she asks, leaning against the kitchen counter.
"Paella," he says with a dry mouth. He gratefully accepts the beer she offers and takes a deep swig.
"It sounds delicious." Her lips turn up in a smile. "Like the dress?"
"Oh yeah." He's completely incoherent now. "Where did you get it?"
"I know, it's not really me," she says, her face turning a bit pink. Her hair has dried naturally and is falling around her cheeks in gentle waves. "My sister gave it to me for my birthday four years ago. I think it was her way of teasing me that I never wore anything revealing."
"I love it."
And he can't stand it any more, he pulls her to him, his hands find the smooth skin of her back and he begins untying the cotton strands.
That's better, she thinks. When she's physically with him she doesn't have to think, doesn't have to suffer over whether she's making a big mistake. Everything is narrowed down to his hands, his rough voice, and the pleasure of his slow, searching kisses.
The dress comes apart in his hands and he finds her breasts with his fingertips and maps out the spots and crevices he knows so well by now. Skinner pushes her out of the kitchen and they fall onto one of her chairs; she's tumbled across his lap.
There will be time for slower sex later. This is about assuaging their fierce need right now. She has to get his pants off him and wrap her fingers around the impossibly thick circumference of his cock.
His pants are around his knees and her panties drape on the armrest of the chair and she kisses him, doesn't dare leave his lips as with one sharp thrust, he's inside her.
Ah, yes, so good.
Sweaty and entirely disheveled, they make their way to the bathroom and turn on the shower. His head is still spinning and he can't even remember if he's ever taken a shower with Scully before. But now he is, they're under the warm water and she's soaping his back with her almond-scented soap, still kissing him as if their lovemaking hasn't ended yet.
And it hasn't. He wants more and more and more until they can't stand up any longer.
Skinner washes her everywhere, getting her small body nice and slick. He enjoys the slippery texture of her skin and the way she groans as he finds her still-swollen clitoris with his fingertips. Knees popping, he sinks to the bottom of the tub and plunges his tongue between her drenched curls. She tastes a little soapy and a bit like marzipan as he lets his tongue roam everywhere in her hot folds. Scully hangs onto the shower rod for support and moans continuously until he looks up and watches the ecstasy washing over her face with the shower's spray.
If only every moment of her life could be like this, feeling like she's flying, feeling free of the bonds of the quest that haunts her, the truth that keeps evading Mulder and her. She wouldn't have to think about how she lost a daughter and cannot have another, she wouldn't have to think of her sister bleeding out her life with a bullet that wasn't meant for Melissa.
She doesn't have to be serious, or logical or tortured.
With Skinner, she doesn't have to think about those things. She can escape the mundane and horrifying reality of her life. They talk, they laugh, they eat dinner and make each other feel good. It's limited but beautiful in its way. She doesn't have to think.
But maybe she should, after all.
Now, in the kitchen, he is wearing only his shorts and t-shirt and she's cocooned in her blue and white-striped bathrobe and they're veritably glowing radioactive from their lovemaking. As she leans over the counter to chop onions he admires the fine pink luster of her skin. Sometimes she's just too pale. Skinner can remember when she was so damn sick and how her skin had sickening blue-green undertones then. Scully is healthy now, radiant in the summer heat of the kitchen, rosy from his touch.
He takes the shrimp out of the fridge and begins the arduous task of deveining the creatures. Jessye Norman is adding to the Iberian feel of the night by singing Carmen on Scully's stereo and he feels so warm and domestic and cozy. This is how it would be if they lived together, if they had a house in a quiet neighborhood and maybe a dog. And perhaps, perhaps... He allows himself to imagine Scully in bed, his hand trailing over the hard mound of her belly, their child growing inside. Skinner finds he likes that image almost too much. Sharon had never wanted children, had made that fact clear from the very beginning. And he'd agreed with her; he couldn't imagine their life together with children. But he's surprised himself by thinking and dreaming of having those things with Scully.
Maybe it's because he can never have them.
When it gets out of control like this, when he begins dreaming too hard, he has to remind himself of what she'd said the first night they were together.
"I can't promise you anything, Skinner," she'd said.
His knife deftly slides over the underbelliesof the shrimp, ripping out the thin black lines of guts. When he glances over at Scully, who is now sauteing the onions in olive oil, she looks up and gives him a single, penetrating look. Her eyes are large and haunted in her face.
I don't know her at all, he thinks, beginning to sweat all over again. Everything I think I know about Scully is something I've made up in my head. I've made her in my image to be the woman of my dreams.
He knows that he idealizes her, fashions her into his perfect, dream woman. If he steps outside the bounds he can find her humorless at times, logical to the point of being pedantic.
And of course there's her greatest fault, the one that he'll only admit to himself alone and late at night with a drink in his hand. There is only one person in the world Dana Scully truly trusts and it's not him.
He doesn't even want to think about how much he hates that.
Skinner returns to the task in front of him. Tonight isn't the night to plumb the dark reaches of his soul. It has to be enough that he's in her kitchen and his body is still glowing from twining with hers and they're making paella.
She can feel him watching her, even though she's bent over the onions; the little hairs on the back of her neck begin to rise.
And when she turns around she sees the naked adoration on his face.
Oh, you don't know me, she thinks. Skinner, really, you don't.
Of course, that's her fault. Except for the first nights they were together in Little Rock, she's shared very little of herself with him. Maybe some bits and pieces, safe stories of her childhood and funny anecdotes from college and medical school.
But he doesn't know her aches and pains and twinges. As far as she can tell, he doesn't even know she's unable to have children. They stopped using condoms about a month into their affair after they'd both produced clean lab work. He never asked about further birth control and she never told him that none was necessary.
It's unfair. It's unfair and it has to stop. He's been looking forward to the future and she's just spent eight months of one day at a time. She doesn't know how to look into the future with Skinner.
She's startled by the noise of something clattering to the floor. It's the wooden spoon she was holding as she cooked the onions in the pot. Scully bends to the linoleum, thinking, you'll kill him if you let this continue.
"Are you all right?" he asks and she stands back up."I just dropped something."
She wants to and she doesn't want to and she doesn't know what to do.
Around ten o'clock the paella is finally ready and she spreads a blue blanket on the floor of the living room in front of the fireplace. It's July and so they can't have a fire, to his great regret. Scully switches the CD to the Gipsy Kings and they croon sad guitar ballads about love in hoarse Spanish.
Skinner opens a bottle of Rioja and takes it out the living room where they settle on the blanket with their bowls of yellow saffron rice and seafood.
"This would be considered eating early in Spain," he says, cracking open a clam shell.
She grins. "What a life, living at night. I've never been to Spain before."
He wants to offer to take her, a week or two roaming the countryside in the fall after the masses of tourists have mostly gone home.
Scully is especially opaque tonight. He has a difficult time reading her when they're not in bed, but despite her smiles and pleasant conversation, he senses a storm of sorts brewing in her psyche. This is one of those times when he wants to take her by her shoulders and shake her, shouting, "Talk to me for once, damn you!"
Skinner watches her slender doctor's fingers peel the tail off a shrimp and she offers it to him. Her fingertips are stained deep gold from the saffron. He takes the morsel of shrimp in his mouth and savors the deep, Spanish taste of garlic and olive oil.
I want to know you, he thinks, so he asks: "Who was your first love, Scully?"
She swallows her sip of wine and a strange expression crosses her face, a mixture of bewilderment and amusement. Scully shrugs.
"You don't have an answer to that?" She's in her mid-thirties, surely she's had a first love.
Scully spears a scallop with her fork. "Who was your first love?"
Aha, answering a question with a question. He smiles. "Her name was Stephanie. She was almost the girl next door; she lived across the alley from me and we went to high school together. I even used to carry her books home from school."
"That's so sweet."
"Now, about your first love?"
"Does David Cassidy count?"
Skinner's eyes narrow. "Come on, be serious."
"Do you have an empirical definition of love?"
Does she always have to be the scientist? "No, you just know when it's there. You know."
"I need to have hard and fast definitions of things," she says, setting her plate down on the blanket.
"I've noticed that," Skinner says dryly. "But you've had some serious relationships, right?" Is he asking too much to know these things?
She nods her head. "Of course. I had a number of relationships in college and medical school, but the last really serious one was when I was teaching at Quantico."
"Who was he?" Now he's really asking too much, he fears.
"You might have known him, actually. Jack Willis."
Skinner's mouth opens. "Of course I knew him, I used to play golf with him once in a while."
Scully and Jack. That bit of news goes a long way toward explaining her attraction to Skinner himself. An older man, an authority figure. It tends to add up.
"He was a good man." She smiles. "But it didn't work out."
"He wanted to get married and I didn't. He wanted me to stay at Quantico where I was safe and I wanted to be out in the field. It was a definite clash of goals."
Skinner muses that it's interesting that he's not the only man in the world who has had protective feelings towards Scully. She's small and seems frail and it's easy to forget just how tough and capable she truly is. But he's seen her out in the field and knows, deep inside, that she's made of steel. It's just hard to remember that when she's in her other context, wrapped in her bathrobe and
drinking wine on the floor of her living room.
"Have you ever had your heart broken?"
Again, she answers his question with a question. "Have you?"
"Yes. Stephanie. We got engaged before I went to Vietnam and when I returned after my tour, she was pregnant with another man's baby."
Her face goes slack with sympathy and she touches his hand. "I'm really sorry."
"Well, it took a while to get over, but perhaps it was for the best. But back to you, and heartbreak."
"I've been dumped, if that's what you're asking." She pours wine into their glasses.
Ethan's face after she returned from Idaho, disappointment and dismay that she'd missed his birthday. And it had been going so well, only six months old as a relationship but she'd wondered if finally she'd found the elusive One.
But she found that he couldn't stand having his attentions interrupted by middle-of-the-night calls from Mulder, couldn't bear to be alone as she flew across the country to chase lights in the sky.
"It just won't work out, Dana," he'd said in the end, picking up his jacket from the couch and rising to leave. "I'm sorry."
She did not cry that night. Instead, she sat cross-legged on the bed, willing herself not to do so.
"Dumped isn't the same as having your heart broken, Scully."
Her eyebrows rise. "Well, heartbreak is one of those words that doesn't really have a good definition so I'll just say that I've been dumped and it's hurt."
Oh God, am I going to have to hurt you tonight?
No, not tonight. I can't. I don't want to have to see your face when I hurt you.
Why can't I make myself love you?
His voice drops to a whisper. "I hate to think of anyone hurting you."
Scully's eyes become wide and maybe it's the light in the room, but they seem to fill with tears. "It's a chance we take when we become involved with someone and let ourselves be vulnerable."
"Is that why you were alone for so long?"
"I don't know why," she says, folding her hands in her lap. He notices how her spine has seemed to stiffen with the question. "I suppose I have the kind of life that doesn't lend itself well to letting anyone in."
Skinner knows she has secrets, things in her mind and her soul that she'll never tell him. Scully and Mulder have seen and done things that he's only been allowed glimpses of. And despite the fact that he's the one who gets to sleep with her, gets to see Scully the woman, he envies Mulder for knowing that side of her.
He wants to ask her if she'll ever truly let him in, but he doesn't dare. He knows where the boundaries are and he won't push them and drive her away.
And that fact makes him resent her. Why do there have to be any boundaries?
He knows she set the parameters on their first night together, but he wants to call a time-out, redefine the rules of the game. The game has changed for him, why can't it for her, too?
"I know how that is. It's one reason why it didn't last with Sharon. I couldn't begin to explain the strangeness of my life to her," he says.
A sad, yet serene, smile grows on her face. "Life has given us certain limits, Skinner. Sad, but true."
"I guess we just have to make the best of it."
She nods and rises to her knees, leaning across the blanket to him. "We do," she says firmly.
For months he's been waiting for the ball to drop, waiting for it to be over and secretly, without even truly admitting it to himself, he's been fighting his own guerrilla war against that day.
No, not tonight. As Scarlett O'Hara said, tomorrow is another day.
Her kiss is hard and all consuming, her tongue pushing its way into his mouth. He groans at the assault on his senses, and his cock, now recovered from before, twitches in appreciation.
Scully pulls away and licks her lips. "I think we're done with dinner now."
Skinner starts to gather up the plates. "The faster we do the dishes, the faster we can go to bed."
Her hand closes around his wrist, her fingers unable to meet around the circumference. "The dishes can wait."
They both rise and Skinner, seized in a moment of fancy, sweeps her up into his arms like some character from one of the glossy paperbacks in the racks of the supermarket. "Just call me Fabio," he says and she laughs as he carries her off to the bedroom.
He lets her slide down from his arms and onto the bed. Her bathrobe is gaping at her chest, allowing him a fine view of her small breasts, the nipples already hard.
She crooks her finger at him and like the fool he is, he comes running.
This time they have more time to taste and explore. He polishes every inch of her skin he can get to with his fingers and mouth, enjoying the faint smell of saffron and almonds she exudes. He loves how she purrs under his touch, how she breathes warm and heavily against his shoulder as he bends to her breasts and suckles her rosy nipples.
Skinner hears himself cry out when she takes him into the heat of her mouth and slides her tongue with lazy ease up and down the length of him. He bites his bottom lip in a supreme effort not to come. It would feel marvelous to come in her soft mouth but he wants it to last.
Finally, when they're both panting and sweating and so hungry for it that he can hear both of them gritting their teeth, he turns Scully onto her stomach. "Like that," he growls, reduced to caveman speech.
"Like this," she says and gets on her hands and knees.
He gets off the bed onto his shaking legs to admire the view from afar. Sometimes the anticipation is just as good as the having, he thinks. Her back is arched like a cat's, her tattoo gyrating as her ass moves in little circles. Scully spreads her legs further and he sees her pink folds, surrounded by her dark red curls that are wet with her readiness for him.
Oh, he thinks, I am such a goner. His hand trails down his belly and finds his stiff cock, still damp from her mouth.
Scully's head turns and she watches him touch himself at the sight of her and her eyes seem darker than normal.
"Like what you see?" she asks.
"Good," she says. "Why don't you come here now?"
"Just a minute." He shuts his eyes and imagines how it's going to feel when he slides into her slick pussy.
"I'm waiting..." Laughter is in her voice.
He slides onto the bed behind her. "I'm going to fuck you so hard," he grunts, the words not coming easily. His brain is busy focusing on other things. "I'm going to fuck you until you're absolutely limp in my arms."
Skinner feels the resulting shiver in her body.
His hands go to her hips and he realizes he's grasping them too hard, that he's probably going to bruise her, but he doesn't care. Mine, mine, mine, he thinks as he allows himself to enter her, inch by inch. Even if you don't want to admit it, Scully, even if it scares the shit out of you, you're mine and I'm going to mark you as mine.
Scully gasps as he begins thrusting hard. His fingers go straight to her clit and he strokes her in time to his movements. The bed is shaking with their lovemaking and the headboard makes a brisk thud every time it hits the wall behind it.
Mine, mine, mine, is all he's able to think as his nerve endings dance and sparkle.
It feels good, so good, he's filling her, touching her just how she loves to be touched, but her brain is whizzing with too many thoughts to be able to concentrate.
It's not working, damn, it's not working. Usually she can just blot it all out and just focus on the pleasure he gives her and she gives him.
But right now there's just too much going on, she's thinking about so many things at once.
Ethan, Skinner in Vietnam, Mulder sleeping on my couch, oh yes, again, again, more, poor Jack, dead too young, dropping the spoon on the floor, shit-- I'm going to break his heart, Skinner loves me, I think I love Mulder, I have no idea how Mulder feels, but I've been lying to him for months, this is so fucked up, so fucked up, why can't I love the man who is right for me, I don't want to hurt you, Skinner, this is a fucking mistake, oh that feels so nice, this is so fucked up and it's all my fault, why can't I just make this right?
Is being confused an excuse?
She senses that Skinner is waiting for her, holding himself back until she comes. She almost always comes, she's been blessed that way, especially with him, but it's not going to happen right now. And so, her mouth burning with shame, she moans in the way she knows she does when she's coming and she squeezes her muscles to mimic the rhythmic contractions of her orgasm.
Always lying, she thinks, even through I try to be truthful, it always comes out as a lie.
He sighs with joy, she's coming so hard, little pants and moans from her mouth, and he feels like a god to be able to make her feel like that. He's the one who lets her come out of herself and experience nothing but sheer pleasure.
As soon as her breathing slows, he lets it build until he's wracked by the spasms as he explodes into her, keeping his jaw tightly clenched to keep from making too much noise.
They collapse under the covers and tangle together, kissing and making small appreciative sounds.
He senses she's drifting off to sleep already and he allows himself to sink into it, too.
The sound of her voice surprises him. "You know what I really liked, Skinner?" Her voice is high and slurred with a somnolent meter.
He pulls her closer to him. "What's that?"
"I liked it when you read to me from Evgeny Onegin."
"I wish I had it memorized, I'd read some to you right now." Skinner strokes her arm with his fingers.
"That would be nice..." The way her words trail off lets him know she's fallen asleep.
Because she's asleep, he lets himself indulge in something he would never dare do if she were awake.
His voice is low. "I love you, Scully."
The only response he receives is the even cadence of her breathing.
His words drag her out of the whirlpool of sleep.
He loves her.
She's known this for a long time, and pretended it wasn't true. What has she done?
She has to work hard to pretend to remain asleep until she's sure he has gone to sleep.
It isn't even light yet when he wakes and Skinner doesn't want to know what time it is. He's hard as a rock and Scully is still wrapped in his arms. In the faint gray light leaking in through the window he sees her head tipped back on the pillow, her mouth slightly open, and he wants her again.
Something feels funny to him, slightly off, but he can't quite put his finger on the sensation. Maybe too much of the Rioja last night. Skinner feels something empty and queasy building in his gut.
He hates to wake her but he does by sliding his fingers between her legs, where she's warm and still wet from their lovemaking last night. Scully's eyes remain closed but her lips purse and then open in a soft groan.
"Sorry to wake you," he says.
Her eyes still closed, she chuckles softly.
Skinner drapes her slender leg over his hip and enters her, wanting to shout with the pleasure of it.
Her eyes flutter open, wide and unfocused.
When the pleasure's over and he falls asleep, she waits until she's sure he won't wake again and gets out of bed.
She washes up in the bathroom and brushes her teeth. Then she goes to the living room and, trying not to make any noise, gathers up the dishes and takes them to the kitchen.
Oh, he made her paella. She never would have guessed, eight months ago, that Skinner could be such a romantic. He's everything she dreamed of when she was younger, the kind of man her mother would embrace with open arms.
She returns to sit on the living room couch. I will not cry, she thinks.
But on the other hand, she's so tired of not crying.
And she's tired of herself, sick of needing and not needing Skinner, sick of not being able to love him in the way he deserves.
And she's especially tired of pretending that she doesn't love Mulder.
A sob builds in her chest as the finality of it hits her. She loves Mulder, probably always has.
This is going to be so awful, telling Skinner the truth.
It has to be done, though. She wishes she were harder and could simply show Skinner the door and be done with it. But that's not how she is. It's going to hurt him and it'll hurt her, too.
She wipes her face with a tissue from the box on the end table and shakes her head. She didn't mean for it to get like this, didn't want Skinner to fall in love with her. It was like watching a car accident as it happened. She couldn't stop it.
The worst part is that she feels so undeserving of his love.
For a long time she sits on the couch, waiting for him to wake and watching the sky gradually lighten.
Morning, excellent and fair, the sky blue and birds chirping. Skinner opens his eyes and finds she's no longer in bed with him. He stretches his limbs and feels the pleasant sensation of a good night's sleep and a lot of wonderful sex. It's going to be a good day.
He rises and scratches the hair on his chest and finds his shorts on the floor. He hopes Scully has made some coffee.
He finds her in the living room, her back to him as she sits on the couch.
Her shoulders are shaking and for a second, he's sure she's laughing. What can be so funny at this early hour?
She hears his footsteps on the wood floor. He's coming.
Just do it, she tells herself. Just do it, be brave.
I hate this.
I am so, so sorry.
She's not laughing.
And in a brilliant, horrifying instant, he knows what's going to happen.
Skinner doesn't know what to say. He's lost his ability for language.
What do you say when the moment of truth finally comes?
Not even ten minutes later, he's fully dressed and walking out the door.
A man never knows when his life is about to change, he thinks, fishing his keys out of the pocket of his jeans. It's so true.
Scully's door shuts behind him with a definitive sound and he walks down the hall and out the front door, into the warm air of another fair morning.