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Summary: “I don’t care what happens when we wake up. I just need to be with you. I need to be warm.”

Classification: VRA
Rated: PG-13
Key Words: Mulder/Scully Romance
Spoilers: The Gift, Dead/Alive
Disclaimer: They’re not mine, I’m just using them for my own evil purposes.
Archive: Gossamer, please. Email me before archiving elsewhere. I don’t see why I’d refuse.

Comments: First and foremost, thankyou to ArtemisX5 for her fabulous beta. This story owes a lot to her input. Plus, her encouragement and support has increased my confidence online tenfold!
Also, thanks to everyone who sent me feedback for my first story, and everyone who recommended it at ephemeral. You guys rock!


“Oh, lift me from the grass!
I die! I faint! I fail!
Let thy love in kisses rain
On my lips and eyelids pale.
My cheek is cold and white, alas!
My heart beats loud and fast!
Oh, press it to thine own again,
Where it will break at last.”
– Percy Bysshe Shelley, The Indian Serenade

Sleep came rarely, if at all, and for the first time in Mulder’s life he began to take sleeping tablets. Round white pills, swallowed dry. When he placed them on his tongue they tasted of burnt plastic and cigarette ash, and he would try not to cry. He couldn’t say why this affected him. Consuming the pills shouldn’t have hurt him so deeply. But almost everything was painful now – only his fingertips and heart remained immune, because they were numb.

His heart seemed to beat softer and slower than it ever had before. He could hardly hear it. Sometimes he would press his hand against his chest to feel it beating, and sometimes he could feel nothing at all.

He woke up one morning with a craving for greasy French fries. He thought of Scully and how she would steal them in roadside diners. The first dinner he’d tried to cook for them had been a huge bowl of fries. It was the only thing he could make. The fries had burned, anyway. She had howled with laughter. When he rolled over to remind her of it and make her laugh like that again, he wondered why she wasn’t there.

He ran to her apartment, knowing that this would exhaust him and make him a melodramatic figure at her door, but he couldn’t bring himself to get into a cab. It was raining, and the cold drops beat against his face. He took them like a well-deserved punishment.

When he knocked she opened the door and let him in without saying anything. For the first time he could remember, her apartment was messy. Used coffee mugs littered the dining table and were lined up on the mantelpiece. There was a pasta-sauce stain on her living room rug. Papers and files were stacked around the sofa and on the coffee table. He looked at them and saw himself in the creased cushions and the cobwebs that hung from the corners. Because of him, she no longer cared for her home. He had worn her down.

“I lied,” he said, “I lied to you, Scully. I knew I was dying, but I didn’t tell you.”

He was shivering, because it was raining and because he was afraid. He wasn’t sure what to say. He’d always been articulate, but now his tongue often felt thick and clumsy. It felt like a piece of meat that got in the way.

Maybe it would be better, he thought, if he just stopped talking altogether.

“Mulder,” she said, and immediately began to cry. It seemed he’d become an expert at making her cry. Before he had been an expert at making her laugh. He thought of tickling her feet while watching Caddy Shack, and how she’d been giggling and telling him to cut it out, and then how she’d dumped the popcorn bowl over his head, and hadn’t been able to stop laughing.

He still couldn’t hear his heartbeat. Though he’d run as fast as he could, and taken the longest strides, his chest felt empty. “I know it’s too late to apologise. But I’m sorry.”

She tried to take his hand, reaching out for it feebly, like a child reaching for an unlit candle in the dark.

“Don’t do that,” he said, deciding he shouldn’t have come, “Don’t forgive me. I needed to apologise. I don’t need forgiveness.”

“I forgave you already,” she whispered, barely able to speak through her tears. “I had to forgive you because -”

“Because I was dead,” he said flatly, nodding. “It’s no use being angry with a guy who’s six feet under. Bad karma for the afterlife.” He was always making jokes like that now. They made her look nauseated, but somehow he couldn’t stop them coming out of his mouth.

“No, no you’re wrong.” She struggled to keep her words coherent.

“Then why, Scully? How?”

“Because I love you…because I know why you lied. You lied because you thought you could cure yourself. You thought you could spare me the pain of ever knowing you were sick.”

“I’m a hypocrite,” he said, the words grating so harshly that he felt like he’d been chewing broken glass. “Do you remember what I told you, when you were sick? I said that you had to tell me the truth; otherwise you were working against me. And then I lied to you. Why can’t you hate me? I want you to hate me, Scully.”

She shook her head, “I can’t,” she paused, wondering if she could go on. “Once I tried to hate you, Mulder. About three years into our partnership I would dream about making love to you, almost every night. When I woke in the morning I would try to make myself hate you. I wanted to stop living beside you and being without you. I wanted to leave you, but I couldn’t do it. I could never hate you.”

He wasn’t sure how to speak now – his tongue was so heavy. He wanted to tell her about a dream he’d had, before he’d started taking the sleeping pills. In the dream he awoke in pure darkness, and his body was freezing. So cold he was entirely numb. He could feel nothing, physically or emotionally. But then he thought of her and a tremendous pain flared deep within him. He started screaming her name, even though somehow he knew she couldn’t answer. He had woken up wondering whether it was a dream or a memory.

He wanted to tell her that there was no nameable emotion left inside him except his love for her, but this love was burning him. He was dried and hollowed out, and love was consuming him. He opened his mouth.

She spoke instead. “I can’t tell whether you were lying, when you kissed me that second time, when we made love in your bed.” She confessed all of this while cringing, as though he might slap her for such a revelation. “So I need to ask you. Did you love me?”

He looked into her eyes. “Yes,” he said, hoping that the one word would be enough.

Her smile was so sad that he wanted to pull her into his arms. He wanted to tenderly kiss her eyelids until she stopped crying.

“You don’t love me now,” she whispered, placing a hand on her rounded belly. “You don’t love me, Mulder. Is it because of the baby? If you loved me then you wouldn’t hurt me like this. You would touch me, if you loved me.”

She would never have said something like that before, but now these words spilt out easily, like her tears.

“I don’t deserve you,” he said, “and you don’t need me. You want me to fit in with you, to be part of your life. You want me to be a father to your child. But I don’t deserve it.”

“It’s your child, too.” She was angry now, and her anger lent her strength, as it always had. Her anger comforted him, for it showed she hadn’t entirely lost her fire. “Why won’t you accept the responsibility?”

“I don’t deserve the responsibility.”

“Stop it!” she screamed. She had never screamed at him before. “Damn your guilt, Mulder. You have no right to tell me that I don’t need you!”

He couldn’t meet her eyes so he looked at her feet. They were smooth and small, delicate as though sculpted in marble, and his eyes shifted to stare at his own feet instead.

“Look at me, Mulder. See what you’ve done to me by not being with me. I thought if you came back I’d be happier than I’ve ever been in my life.”

Her words broke bonds in him, and he didn’t try to tie them together again. He had wanted her hatred but he could do nothing but accept her love, painful though it was.

So he kissed her, running the tip of his tongue between her lips. Her taste was both familiar and new, and he remembered being addicted to it. As he stroked her warm mouth, relearning her sweetness and bitterness, he became addicted once more.

“I love you,” he said, in between kissing her neck and her ear, “I love you, please, don’t cry any more, don’t shout at me. I don’t know what to do – I don’t know how to act,” he kissed the tip of her nose, then her mouth again. “Everything I do is wrong. I want to be with you too. I just don’t understand how you can still want me.”

She wrapped her arms around his waist and pulled him against her belly, which he cupped with his hands. Her hands slid beneath his damp shirt, and tugged it off, over his head. She caressed his chest and tangled her fingers in his hair, pulling away from his mouth to nuzzle his neck.

Completely overcome, she could say nothing but his name. He scooped her into his arms and carried her a few feet to the sofa.

“We’re both so cold,” she managed to whisper, as he sat her down and knelt in front of her. She curled her arms around his neck and kissed him so passionately that even his teeth felt bruised.

When they needed to breathe she pulled away to speak. “I don’t care what happens when we wake up. I just need to be with you. I need to be warm.”

He reached up to press a finger against her already swollen lips. Then he trailed his hand down her neck to rest it against her heartbeat. He could feel her heart throbbing, loud and vibrant, and his own pathetic heart ached like a phantom limb.

And then, suddenly, he heard it beat. It was so unexpected that he wrenched away from her in shock, and stared at her, wide-eyed.

His heart beat softly at first, then louder and quicker, straining its muscles. Its ache became an ache of passion. It hurt so much he thought it was going to tear itself apart. It was the most wonderful feeling he’d ever experienced, and he took her hand and pressed it to the centre of his chest.

“Can you hear it?” he whispered, gasping for breath. “My God Scully, I can hear it. I think it’s going to burst.”


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