SUMMARY: It was only a kiss.
RATING: PG-13 for this part.
SPOILERS: No big spoilers. The story takes place in Season 7, between Millennium and Rush.
DISCLAIMER: These characters do not belong to me and no copyright infringement is intended on my part.
WORD COUNT: 19,947 for the whole story
DATE POSTED: June-July 2008
It was only a kiss.
They walk down the labyrinthine hallways to the hospital's parking ramp, his good arm around her.
"Can you drive me to my car?" he asks. The corridors seem endless and the signs aren't helpful at all. They keep running into dead ends.
She tilts her head at him, baring the scratches on her neck. Scully looks like she's been attacked by a pack of particularly enthusiastic wolverines.
"You're in no shape to drive, Mulder. The doctor gave you Tylenol 3." The tone of her voice states "and that means that" to him, loud and clear.
"What about the car?"
"We can pick it up tomorrow." She purses her lips. Schoolmarm Scully, a look that annoys and arouses him at the same time.
They finally find the proper entrance to parking. The ramp is almost empty at this hour, at the dawn of the new millennium. She unlocks the passenger door and opens it for him.
"Tomorrow is today and it's New Year's Day," he reminds her, awkwardly easing his banged-up body into the car.
He waits until she settles herself in the driver's seat and tidily fastens her seatbelt. "Don't you have anything planned for the day?"
"No," she says. "I thought I'd relax, enjoy the day off."
She doesn't have many friends. Neither do I, he thinks. Except for her.
They rocket down the quiet Maryland highways in the late afternoon. On the radio, soft voices inform them that the world didn't end the night before. They describe lavish fireworks over Sydney Harbour and spontaneous kissing breaking out in the streets of Lisbon.
That could be my excuse, he thinks, his head resting on the car window. I got caught up in the madness of New Year's Eve. Plus, I was drugged.
Scully stares straight ahead at the road. She can drive like she's retired from NASCAR sometimes, but she's as precise as a watchmaker when she's behind the wheel.
"Are you feeling all right?" she asks, unconsciously touching the scabbing wounds on her neck.
He shrugs with his good left shoulder. "I've been better, I've been worse. At least I wasn't shot this time. And they left my brain alone."
"Nothing beats a good attitude, Mulder." She's almost smiling.
His lips had pressed against hers for only seven seconds. Seven seconds under the romantic lights of the hospital waiting room. He sure knows how to pick his moments.
They find his car still park outside Johnson's enclave. The tall, chain-link fences are now draped with yellow crime scene tape, which seems almost festive on this cold New Year's Day.
Scully puts the car in park, unbuckles her seatbelt. "Are you sure you'll be able to drive home?" She gestures towards his sling.
"I'm painkiller-free and the car has standard transmission. I'll be fine."
She smiles. "That's my line, Mulder." She ruffles his hair. "Just in case, I'll follow you home."
"You can follow me home any old time, Scully."
She laughs and it feels like old times, the lighthearted banter when they didn't know each other very well, before real emotion got in the way and inhibited them.
He wants to kiss her again, right now when her eyes are alive with unusual merriment. She beats him to it, surprises him by leaning over to kiss him softly, with a closed mouth.
Eight seconds, maybe nine, he thinks. The kiss was as chaste and harmless as last night's, but he'll count it as progress.
"Happy New Year's, Mulder," she says, her cheeks faintly stained with pink.
On the way home, every time he glances in the rear view mirror he can see her car, loyally tailing him.
On Monday, Scully seems to be in an uncharacteristically good mood. She's not exactly known for her morning cheer. She even brings him coffee, a large cup of Costa Rican, no cream, no sugar. Her own coffee is some horrible soy milk concoction because she read a medical study on the miraculous qualities of soy. And he's the one pegged as the believer in every crazy theory.
"You seem cheerful," he remarks, watching her take off her coat. She's wearing her black three-button suit, the one with the skirt that's maybe a half inch too short for true professionalism. He loves that suit, especially when she pairs it with those wicked black pumps.
"It's a new year. Time to start things fresh," she says.
"Make any resolutions?"
She licks a bit of soy foam off her lower lip. Jesus, did she do that on purpose?
"Not yet," she says. "And you?"
He pretends to be fascinated by the contents of a folder on his desk. "I never make them."
Scully walks over to a file cabinet and opens it. "Well, maybe you should..."
What could she possibly mean by that?
He walks her to her car in the parking garage at the end of the day. Scully is armed, she's dangerous, she's probably a better shot than he is, but it never hurts to be chivalrous.
He stands back and watches her bend over to tuck her briefcase in the backseat of her car. That's a view he'll never tire of.
She stands by the car, clears her throat. "Well, have a good night, Mulder."
It feels as awkward as a first date. A seven year-long first date.
Fuck it, he thinks. There's no one around at almost eight in the evening. In an instant, he has her against the car door, his hand at the back of her neck, pressing her face to his. Her mouth opens under his, her tongue venturing out to touch his.
This time, he loses count of the seconds. In fact, he's missing time. The next thing he knows, he's sitting in his own car, one level up in the garage. He could almost believe he made the whole thing up if his lips didn't taste like her lipstick.
His cell phone rings as he's driving in to work.
Her voice is shaky. "Mulder, I won't be coming in to work today. I'm sick."
Immediately, his pulse quickens. Scully almost never calls in sick. Even when she was so ill with cancer, she still managed to totter in every day, too thin, too pale, but perfectly pressed and with her makeup flawlessly applied.
"Are you okay? What's wrong?" He hits the brakes to avoid colliding with the furniture delivery truck in front of him.
"Supermarket sushi," she says. "At least, that's the prime suspect. I can't keep anything down."
"Do you want me to come over? Take you to the doctor?"
He can almost hear her shaking her head. "No, no, I'll be fine. Just go to work. I'll call you if I need anything."
Bullshit, he thinks, after he's ended the call. He starts looking for the nearest supermarket.
She answers the door, wrapped in a faded blue bathrobe. Her face is paper white, a sheen of sweat on her forehead. "I thought I told you I was fine," she says, but she looks faintly relieved at the same time.
He pushes past her into the apartment. "You should know better than to eat sushi from the supermarket," he says. "You're a doctor, for God's sake."
She follows him into the kitchen and watches him unpack the plastic bags. "Gatorade-- orange, fruit punch, and the traditional green kind. I'm not entirely sure what flavor green is supposed to represent. Ginger ale. Water. Saltines and chicken broth. My mother was never known for her nurturing qualities but she swore by chicken broth when we had the flu."
Scully shakes her head. "You didn't have to do this, Mulder."
He rolls his eyes. "Shut up."
She bolts off to the bathroom, slamming the door in her wake. He pretends not to hear her retching; pours some ginger ale in a glass and gives it a shake so it'll get flat faster.
She emerges some minutes later, after the sounds of splashing water and gargling. "I found some Compazine in the medicine cabinet from when..." She doesn't need to finish the sentence. "It should help."
"Are you sure you don't need a doctor?" he asks.
"I am a..."
"Doctor," he says, finishing the sentence for her. He's heard that one at least two dozen times.
"Get in bed," he orders. He almost likes Scully being sick. He can get away with bossing her around.
She obediently crawls into her bed, the bed that has starred in so many of his late-night picture shows. She's shivering and he pulls the covers over her.
"You're beautiful," he finds himself saying. And she is, even after hours of vomiting, even pale as snow, even trembling with the chills. He could spend an entire day just marveling over the intricacy of her lips, the bridge of her nose, the line that forms between her brows when she's cross or confused.
She flashes him her patented "Mulder, you're nuts" look.
"You are and you're just going to have to accept it." He bends down to kiss her fever-warm forehead. "Get some sleep. I'll be out in the living room if you need me."
The Compazine must be kicking in already because she smiles woozily. She mutters something under her breath.
"What did you say?" he asks.
"Nothing," Scully says. "It wasn't anything important..."
He swears he heard it, the words he's wanted to hear for years and years, but for her benefit he keeps his mouth shut. Maybe she'll say it again some time.
When he checks on her early the next morning, she looks much better, some color in her face. She hasn't vomited since yesterday afternoon.
She seems vaguely embarrassed to have him see her in bed, in her pajamas. "You stayed all night?"
"Your couch is surprisingly comfortable."
"You would know about couches..."
She's definitely feeling better. She sits up, a determined expression on her face. "Give me a half hour and then we can go into work together."
"Nope." He shakes his head. "You need another day to rest."
"We're supposed to meet with Skinner this morning."
"Skinner can wait," he says. "You can catch up with Montel Williams and Maury Povich instead."
Scully sighs and gives him a dirty look.
He raises a warning finger. "If I catch you out of this apartment today, you're in serious trouble." It's definitely fun to boss her around.
He returns to her place after work, armed with a fresh bag of supplies and draft of his report on their personal Night of the Living Dead. Scully is on the couch, wearing a fresh pair of pajamas. A mostly-empty bowl of chicken broth is on the coffee table.
"How are Montel and friends?" he asks, kissing her on the cheek.
"I'm watching 'NewsHour,'" she says.
He sits down next to her. "You're no fun, Scully. Jim Lehrer instead of Montel Williams?"
"'NewsHour' is fun."
He takes the remote from her and flips channels until he finds a rerun of "MacGuyver." "Now this is fun."
Scully snatches the remote out of his hand. The TV lands on "Friends."
"You can't possibly enjoy this show," he groans.
"I like Chandler Bing," she says, deadpan.
"Monica's not bad..." he offers.
Her eyebrows rise. "You know their names, so don't get high and mighty with me. You watch it, too."
"I admit nothing," he says.
Her face is so full of delight, of mischief, that he can't help kissing her. She tastes salty, like chicken soup and Gatorade.
She moans into his mouth, her arms wrap around his neck. He pulls her onto his lap; she's so light. They kiss for long, long minutes, through several comic misunderstandings and two commercial breaks. Her breasts are brushing his chest through her thin pajama top. He's hard as a marble statue and he wonders if she can feel it, feel how much he wants her.
Finally, as the end credits flash to that annoyingly catchy theme song, she pulls away from his lips, touches his cheek. "Things are changing, aren't they?"
"That's an understatement if I ever heard one."
"I suppose it's about time," she says, smiling. He adores that smile, more stunning for its rarity.
"Understatement of the year," he mutters, pausing to kiss the softness of her neck, careful to avoid the zombie scabs. "Possibly of the millennium."
He kisses her again because they have a lot of time to make up for. Seven years' worth. They'll have to do a lot of kissing to catch up.
THANKS: To S. for generously allowing me to steal an idea she posited on her LJ.