Title: Puzzle Pieces
Rating: Strong R
Spoilers: Arcadia through Field Trip
Disclaimer: Not mine
Archive: Please ask first
Summary: Scully and Mulder work on a puzzle, among
She's adorable, Mulder allowed himself to think.
Surely there was no harm in admitting that to
himself. Scully sat against one of the large rock
formations on the beach, her shoes off and her hair
whipping wildly around her face. She was chewing
thoughtfully on a sandwich and dug her toes into the
"So how is it to be thirty-five?" he asked, setting
down his own sandwich.
"About the same as thirty four," she replied.
"Did you ever think you'd be spending your birthday
in California, on a beach, about to play house with
*me?*" He rolled onto his back and laced his fingers
behind his head. He cloud gazed for a moment,
spotting one that looked like Paul McCartney. It's
just water and ice, Scully would say.
She cast around for a reply and came up spectacularly
empty. "There's no one else I would spend it with,"
she finally said and he flushed.
She was sitting on her bed, channel surfing and
transposing autopsy reports when a box dropped out of
the sky. "Mulder?" she called through the connecting
door. "What's this?"
He appeared in his pajamas, sans shirt, with a
toothbrush dangling from his mouth and an innocent
expression. "Birthday fairy must have dropped it
off," he said and when Colgate foam started sliding
down his chin, held up a finger and backed into his
room. He walked back in wiping his mouth on his
wrist and sat heavily next to her on the bed. "Blind
date, Scully?" he made a face, then a grab for the
remote. "You gonna open it?" he asked all ready
clicking his way towards ESPN.
Scully carefully tore the wrapping paper and pulled
out a plastic covered box. 1000 pieces, it boasted
on the front. The flickering blue light from a
basketball game illuminated a bright green alien,
arms akimbo standing against a starry black
background. "It thought they were supposed to gray,"
she said, turning it over in her hands. "Thank you,
Mulder, for a completely impossible gift."
"Don't thank me," he said as he dropped the remote
back in her lap. He patted her knee sympathetically.
"I'll help you out with it, Scully. Don't worry."
"Bite me, Mulder."
He smiled and leaned over her, hands on either side
of her waist. "Kiss?" he asked instead and she
nodded. She returned the gentle pressure on her
cheek and squeezed his hand.
"Happy birthday, Skeptic girl."
She smiled at him gently. "Thank you, Monster boy."
He tweaked her nose and left her alone, unable to
"Scully," he said, bounding into her room, the door
to her room flung wide and her extra key shining in
his hand. "Scully, this is great; you've got to see
"Mmph," she replied, pulling the blankets over her
head. He immediately yanked them back down.
"Scully..." he said, dangerously close to whining.
"C'mon, put on some clothes, its cold out."
She rolled out of bed, ignoring the way he ran his
eyes over her pajama clad form. She pulled on a
sweatshirt that had once belonged to him and stuck
her feet in her shoes. Mulder fidgeted by the door
and grabbed her wrist as soon as she was ready.
"Donald Machholz discovered it in 1994 with a twenty
five millimeter reflector," he said, his breath
puffing in the cold air. Her nose was immediately
frozen and she huddled in his sweatshirt. She'd
nearly left him only six months ago so she wouldn't
have to do this, wouldn't be dragged around in the
middle of the night. Look what I would have missed,
she thought, seeing the bright light in his eyes. I
would have never seen this.
"It split into fragments in its 1994 return but it's
supposed to be brightest right now... see it? Over
there?" He was like a little boy, his face chapped
from the cold, his eyes glowing embers as bright as
"See what?" she asked, standing close enough to him
that their white breath mingled. He glanced briefly
at her, surprised she couldn't read his mind after
all this time.
He carefully moved behind her and her thoughts began
to race as he delicately held her ribcage. "Right in
front of you," he murmured, his lips closer to her
ear than was strictly necessary. "Over that pine
"It's a comet," she breathed, leaning the slightest
bit into him. His fingers skittered up and down her
sides, brushing the curve of her breast and sliding
down briefly to her hips. She didn't concern herself
with his possessive touch- it was Mulder after all.
"It's Machholz's second," he said into her ear and
she shivered not from the cold. She felt a jolt run
through him when she tilted her head so their mouths
were dangerously close. "Pictures of it were
captured this October and November when we were busy
with Mr. Crump... remember?"
She nodded and they breathed against each other's
mouths. It wasn't until he was back in his own room
that it occurred to him to kiss her.
Mulder did his Skinner impression for her one night
in his apartment. She laughed at him, with him,
whatever, but she laughed and that was the whole
"A hurricane, Agent Mulder? What I see in your
report here…" Mulder stopped abruptly, his hands
still folded in the air as if he were Skinner at his
desk. Scully looked at the ringing phone. Traitor,
she thought. Look at what you've ruined.
"You're such a goof ball," she said affectionately
when he hung up.
"Better than a goober," he replied smartly, flopping
down on the other end of the couch and sprawling a
long leg across her lap. She idly drew patterns on
his slim ankle and contemplated the size of his foot.
"What'dya wanna do?" he slurred, relaxing further and
resembling a large cat.
Scully stretched languidly, annoyed at how at how
damp she still felt after spending a night in that
hurricane in Florida. They were so casual with each
other like this; after six years they were so
seamlessly entwined that even a slightly intimate
touch was second nature.
"Watch a movie?" he suggested, scratching his stomach
and yawning. She was distracting, sitting there in
his apartment, taking up space and smelling like
heaven. It made him want to tug at his collar and
change into looser pants.
"Hmmm, no," she said, straightening the magazines on
his coffee table and pulling on his wrinkled sock.
His toes curled, ticklish, and he found himself
surprised that he didn't mind her fixing him up.
Struck by sudden inspiration, he leapt off the couch
and hurried towards his front hall.
"Is the puzzle still in your bag?" he asked without
turning around. Instead she heard different words
from a different time. Is this show of boyish
agility turning you on?
"Yes," she answered, moving aside books and porn
magazines so they would have room to work.
He bounded back into the room, the couch letting out
a whoof of leather scented air as he flopped down
again. He handed her the small box and she tore at
the plastic wrapping with a fingernail. Trust Mulder
to pick out the hardest puzzle he could find.
"This'll be fun," he said as she dumped out the tiny
Fun, she thought. I remember what that is.
"Did you know that if you yelled for 8 years, 7
months and 6 days, you will have produced enough
sound energy to heat one cup of coffee?" Mulder asked
from where he was sitting at his computer.
Scully looked at the steaming mug sitting besides her
and then up at him. "Your nose never stops growing,"
she countered and he grimaced.
He frowned and flicked a seed at her. He drew a red
X on the back of one of the puzzle pieces two nights
ago. Just to see where it ends up, he said.
"I think the guy's here," she said, hearing his door
over the clamor in her head.
"You know, the guy." Mulder got up, nodding in
understanding, and Scully flipped the TV channel from
basketball when he left the room.
"Ick," he said, Chinese takeout in hand. "Is this
that woman's channel?" He grabbed the remote from
her and changed it again to cartoons. Scully thought
that he must be the only grown man who could find
cartoons on a Friday night.
"How's it coming?" he asked, finding it necessary to
lean closer to her as he asked it. "That piece goes
there," he said and she frowned at him, annoyed, as
he set out the greasy containers. In two weeks
they'd only managed to finish half of the alien.
They worked on it in fits and starts, when, picking
him up in the morning for work, she'd get a few
pieces while he hunted down his shoes. Or the odd
night not filled with laundry or dinner at her
mother's, she'd spend with him. It's the easy part,
she complained one night when her head was hurting
and her contacts were dry. It's all green, he had
reminded her as if she had forgotten. And what fun
After six years she was glad he still thought that.
"Scully, get out of here now!" he yelled, shielding
the child's body from the burning debris. "Move! I
got him, just go!"
She spun, taking one last long look at him crouched,
his trench coat surrounding the boy and opened the
warehouse door. "I'm gonna get backup!" she yelled
above the noise of the explosion.
"GO!" He scooped up the child, cradling the
frightened form against his chest and searched for
another way out. Embers rained down around him and
he hissed as one caught the back of his neck. Shit,
he thought, spinning and beginning to run. What a
fucking bad day this was.
His shoe caught on a plank of wood five feet from
fresh air and he could feel his lungs filling up with
smoke as he lay on the cement floor. He shoved the
boy towards the waiting arms of the fireman and
collapsed against the cool cement. He barely
registered strong arms pulling him into the sunlight
and was only dimly aware of Scully giving orders,
getting him on a stretcher with an oxygen mask in a
matter of seconds.
"Are you ok, Mulder?" she asked when she returned to
him a few minutes later. He wiped a smudge of soot
from her cheek and she returned the favor,
straightening his hair. There was the sound of
ambulances, EMTs yelling to each other, the spray of
fire hoses. Through it all Mulder heard only the
reassuring beat of Scully's heart as he laid his head
on her chest.
"I was worried about you," he murmured and she ducked
her head to hear him. Scully who never touched him
needlessly in public, who was adverse to overt
displays of affection and who denied vehemently any
unprofessional feelings about her partner, wrapped
her arms around his sooty shoulders and rocked him
"I'm fine," she said, pulling back to look at him.
"What about you?"
"My neck hurts," he confessed. "Kiss it better?"
"You big baby," she said affectionately, studying the
mild burn. He found himself eye level with her
breasts as she leaned over him and found it suddenly
difficult to concentrate on what she was saying.
"Something about burn salve?" he mumbled into her
shoulder where his head had fallen again.
"Did you hit your head?" she asked, concerned at his
inattentiveness. No, he wanted to say. You just
smell so damn good. He felt her fingers probing his
scalp and leaned back to grin lazily at her.
"So, Doctor Scully, was I dropped as a child?" he
said, enjoying the caress as much as she did giving
"You're such a goof," she said, covering his eyes
with one hand. He waited patiently until she took it
away and felt her warm breath on his face as she
studied his pupils. "All fine," she declared him and
looked vaguely surprised to see his mouth so close to
hers. She leaned in the slightest and he felt the
strands of hair under his hand as he cupped her head.
Here it comes, he thought, feeling lightheaded. Six
years and all it took was a burned neck.
"Agent Mulder? Did you get the disk?" They jerked
guiltily away from each other and Scully turned,
smoothing her hair down. Mulder produced the floppy
disk from his pocket and handed it to the officer.
He thanked them and hurried back to his squad car.
"Later, Mulder," she said, holding up her hand.
Mulder invited her to a wedding.
"Why would you ask me?" she whined, and he saw her
shoulders tense under her suit coat. He leaned one
arm along the back of his couch and squeezed her
"Who else would I invite?" he asked and she shrugged,
not wanting to know the answer. She distracted her
self with the alien's arm, piecing together the hand
and moving on to the wrist as he spoke. "Besides, I
will be teased for the rest of my life if I don't
have a date." A date, she thought, scrutinizing him.
"All your family's going to be there?" she asked and
the light caught in his eyes as he nodded.
"So you'll come?" he said hopefully and it was her
turn to nod. "Don't be heartbroken when you realize
I'm not the smartest," he warned and she smiled coyly
"You always will be to me," she said and he grinned
at her, pleased.
It was ridiculously easy to be held by Mulder as they
danced and Scully fought off the urge to lay her head
on his chest and squeeze him tight. He was spiffed
up in a silk tie, his best Armani and that cologne
that never failed to set her heart going; she had
found it increasingly difficult as the evening wore
on to keep her hands off him.
"Having a good time?" he murmured into her ear
intimately enough that without that last glass of
champagne she might have protested. Or might not
"Your cousin's very nice," she replied, feeling his
raspy cheek against her own. Handsome too, but that
seemed to run in the family.
"Haven't spoken to him in a long time," he said.
"Mulder," she said seriously, suddenly concerned. He
quirked an eyebrow at her and smoothed his hand on
her waist. "Do you think you'll ever get married?"
"I... I haven't met anyone that I would want to
marry," he stammered, caught off guard at the
question. She was surprised to feel disappointed at
his answer and chastised herself for it. "Except
you, maybe," he was saying. "I think I'd marry you."
Oh, she thought. Oh.
"Wait, Scully that came out wrong." He tensed in
preparation for her to draw away, run away and seemed
flustered when she didn't. "I don't want to get
married, but if you did, I... not that you would want
to marry me or anything, but there's no one else, so
don't worry, not that you would..."
"Shut up, Mulder," she said and gave into the urge to
put her cheek on his shoulder. His hand shook as it
curved over her hip and he slowly relaxed against
"You know Scully, fifty percent of marriages fail,"
he said and she thought how this probably wasn't the
best place for that statistic.
"We wouldn't want that, Mulder," she replied,
smelling his wonderful scent and running her hand
over his shoulder.
"No, Scully, we wouldn't." He kissed her cheek and
closed his eyes and hoped everything would be ok.
"Next time you get an e-mail about lights in the sky,
Mulder…" Scully had been threatening him for the
last hour, her shoes crunching in the icy snow. The
cold had turned her nose red and he was holding one
of her hands to keep it warm. Well, that's what they
"I can think up some good punishments," he said with
a leer and she huffed out a breath. "Can you believe
how dark it is? How many stars there are?"
"Well, that's what happens in no-where Maine in the
middle of winter," she sighed and convinced herself
she was walking closer to him for warmth.
He tugged her to a stop when he stood still for a
moment, head tipped back, foggy breath spiraling up.
"God," he murmured, cradling her hand close and
leaning into her. "Look at that. Just look."
It *was* beautiful, she admitted to herself.
Billions of stars, all pinpricks of light against the
inky black night, and Mulder, standing beside her,
radiating warmth like a furnace. It was a toss up as
to which she was more enraptured with.
"See? I bet now you're glad the car broke down." He
nudged her playfully, scanning the trees at the edge
of the field. She groaned and shoved him back, hard
enough that he had to take a step back to regain his
balance. He read over her shoulder, wrote "X- buried
treasure" on his maps, chewed on pens he borrowed,
and was now leaning over her, his face way too close.
It was, in retrospect, a completely normal,
completely boring first kiss, so unlike them that she
was sure it couldn't possibly have happened. But the
memory of his warm, dry lips was still fresh in her
mind and the tell tale flush she could see in his
face as he looked away left her no doubt.
"We should, uh, probably get going again," he said,
staring at her lips and shifting from foot to foot.
"Yeah, probably," she agreed. They stood there for a
moment, looking at each other, before she grabbed the
back of his neck and he took a step forward. Their
teeth clinked together in their haste and she was
pretty sure she bit his tongue. Her lip got caught
against his teeth but she was too far gone to
complain about it.
They pulled apart again with a wet smack and Scully
turned away so she wouldn't have to look at him.
Mulder looked at his feet and shuffled them while
Scully stared at a cloud over his shoulder. She
could still feel his tongue in her mouth like a
retinal after image and she sighed.
"That," he said, pushing her hair out of her face,
"was the worst kiss in the history of kisses.
"I agree completely," she replied and smacked his
hands away. He grinned at her words and she was
afraid he would take out his notebook to have it in
writing that she agreed with him.
"We can do better I'm sure," he said. She slid her
hands around his biceps and squeezed through the wool
of his coat.
"I guess we'll just have to work on it." She linked
her arm through his and they started walking again.
"Think about it, Scully, instead of doing expense
reports if we put that time towards…"
"I'm being serious here, Scully."
"Shut up, Mulder."
He called her at the gym and she had to scramble
through her coat pockets and gym bag to find her
phone. There was the clanging of lockers slammed
shut by other women, the pitter patter of the shower
and the trilling of her phone as she fumbled to press
"Scully," she said, turning her back on the curious
stares of the other women.
"Did you turn in the expense reports on the dog
She sighed and dropped onto a nearby bench. She
brought up the hem of her tee shirt to mop the sweat
from her face and blew an angry breath into the mouth
piece to annoy him.
"This couldn't have waited till Monday?" she asked,
rubbing at the muscles in her neck. She hurt all
over with burning muscles as proof of how little she
got to the gym these days. The ache in her legs and
arms wasn't much different than the fire Mulder could
start in her with a few soft kisses on his couch.
Although her fingers along the line of her shirt felt
much different than his when he massaged the tension
out of her neck from bending over the puzzle all
"Scully..." he sighed back and she could imagine him
rubbing a hand over his eyes. "It's your turn to do
them and Skinner said-"
"I did them, Mulder."
"Oh." She could all but hear him back peddling. "I,
uh, sorry bout that." She closed her eyes, tipping
her head from side to side and toeing off her
sneakers. She dropped them in her bag and started
rooting around for her street clothes. "And the 302
about that escaped prisoner in Mississippi?"
"We're flying out Monday afternoon after that section
meeting." She peeled off her socks and wrinkled her
nose as she tossed them after her sneakers. "Don't
be late like last week, ok?"
"I didn't mean... it was my waterbed..." he must have
heard her rolling her eyes all the way across the
city because he finally chuckled. "Thanks, Scully."
"No problem, Werewolf Man."
He laughed again. "Just call me Wolverine."
"With that haircut, maybe."
"Ouch, Scully." She listened as he shifted on his
couch. "If I'm Wolverine, can you be Wonder Woman?"
"Wrong comic, Mulder."
"Just think, you and me, out to save the world like
"Have a nice weekend, Mulder."
"And you'd look great it that..."
"Scully, I thought we could order pizza or something
She looked up from where she was putting on her shoes
and scrutinized him. He had his hands in his
pockets, his bare toes digging into the wood floor
and his lower lip in his mouth.
"Mulder, it's late and I should really get..." He
frowned and she stopped talking, feeling the couch
move as he sat down.
"You haven't been around much lately, Scully," he
commented, looking worried and out of place. She
resisted the urge to smooth his hair down, to wrap
her arms around him, to drag him into his bedroom and
have her way with him. "Did I do something?"
"No, Mulder... I've, I've just been tired, that's
all," she said quickly and he looked morosely at her.
"You can sleep here," he said before he could think
about his words. He watched her carefully to make
sure she didn't take offense. She had been jumpy
around him lately, sitting on the other side of the
couch, pulling away sooner when he kissed her.
"You're not regretting any of this, are you?"
"No, I just..." she hesitated, putting her hand on
her forehead. The truth was that she couldn't keep
her hands off him and it was becoming increasingly
difficult to think straight when he was around. He
tentatively put his hand on her shoulder and when she
didn't move away, slid it around her and kissed her
hair. "Pizza you said? I could do pizza."
She sat an hour later facing Mulder on his couch, her
hands lightly caressing his shoulders, and her tongue
in his mouth. She attempted to remain composed,
pretending she didn't feel the fire burning in her
stomach, didn't love the feel of his hand on her
breast. Her head felt like a fluffy cloud, like it
was filled with champagne bubbles and she let out a
breathy moan, moving closer to him.
He gathered her up carefully in one arm, rubbing his
thumb across her nipple and sucking lightly on her
lip. He could feel her pulse in her chest; it
matched the steady throbbing of the erection he was
desperately trying to ignore. Her knee slid over his
thigh, pressing against him and he couldn't help his
hips giving an involuntary jerk.
"Sorry about that, Scully." he mumbled, squeezing his
eyes tightly closed.
"It’s ok," she said, rubbing her hands in his hair.
He sat up suddenly and keeping a warm palm on her
back, lowered her carefully onto the couch below him.
She stared up at him with wide eyes as his hands
fluttered up and down her sides, over her breasts,
her thighs, in her hair. Their hands found each
other while their eyes squeezed shut at the feel, the
idea that they were doing this together.
"Scully," he breathed into her ear and she couldn't
help but pull him closer. "Oh, Scully."
They had, at some point, made it to his bed but she
would be hard pressed to remember just when. Was it
after his shirt had joined hers on the floor? Before
her hand slipped inside his jeans and his mouth
worked like a fish? Surely before he slipped inside
her, both of them squirming with the exquisite
pleasure, certain that when they'd open their eyes
again they'd be alone.
And afterwards, it was hard for her to reconcile this
sweaty tousled creature with the man who filed
expense reports, tossed pencils into the ceiling, saw
She convinced herself it wasn't a mistake, that they
could still work together, be friends after what had
happened here. That she could still look at him the
same way now that she knew what it felt like to have
him inside her. But, God, it was hard to think with
his fingers tracing her thigh and his mouth pulling
on hers. His voice was husky when he told her he
loved her, over and over, as he pushed inside her
again and she closed her eyes so she wouldn't have to
meet his, wouldn't have to think about this.
She couldn't find him after the third time. She
opened her eyes and squinted at the clock and no, it
couldn't be that late all ready, they had just eaten
dinner. But being pushed into a mattress over and
over, coming time and time again as he shook around
her had passed the night and she found herself stiff
as she swung her legs over the edge of the bed.
His pants were absent, gone from where they had been
kicked off the end of his bed. She found her own
clothes neatly folded on his bureau and carefully put
them on. Her body, she found as she stood in the dim
light from the window, had tiny teeth marks, spots of
burn from his stubble, bore the signs of a night with
him as unmistakable, undeniable truth.
She found him sitting at his computer, his jeans on
but not buttoned, his hair sticking up at odd angles.
She wanted to reach out and run her hand across those
shoulders, feel the smooth, tan, skin that she had so
recently dug her nails into but settled instead for
pulling a piece of his wayward hair.
"I've got to pick up the dry cleaning tomorrow," he
said and she leaned over his shoulder to read the e-
mail he was typing, her hands braced on the back of
his chair. "And the Gunmen say their sorry again for
that whole Vegas thing." She nodded, noticing their
address in the heading of the e-mail. His modem
beeped and booped as he hit SEND and closed the
browser. Her hands slid, completely without her
permission, to his neck where he grabbed them with
his own and pulled on them. She curled her fingers
around his and rested their hands against his
"Scully, I just wanted to say that-"
"Mulder, you don't have-" he cut her off, releasing
her hand to put on finger against her lips and looked
back at her with pleading eyes.
"Love you, Scully," he said quickly, as if he might
lose his nerve. It was surreal, all of it, standing
in his living room in the middle of the night,
listening to words she had resigned herself to never
hearing from him, the scent of sex still clinging to
them both. They interviewed witnesses together,
poked around in the dirt and sat through endless
meetings; these words, sex, this didn't fit into the
equation of their lives that she had drawn up.
She looked down at him, her heart breaking at the
expectant look on his face and she carefully drew her
finger down his nose. "Such an inadequate word for
what I feel for you," she said and he nodded after a
When she stepped out his door the next morning,
wearing the extra suit she kept at his place and
smelling like his soap she was surprised to find the
earth still moving, life still going. We slept
together, she wanted to yell to his neighbors. We
had sex, stop and take notice.
He didn't kiss her goodbye when they reached their
separate cars, didn't hold her hand or touch her
hair. They were still Mulder and Scully and nothing
really had changed.
Cartons of Chinese food littered his desk and
steaming plates sat in front of them on his coffee
table. More and more puzzle pieces had made it into
the puzzle and less and less were scattered around
the table. Dark wood still could be seen above the
alien's shoulder and by its foot and Mulder was
convinced that they were missing a piece. They sat
and ate, their fingers moving over the puzzle while
they were chewing. They had slept together once, a
week ago, and the memory still made her week at the
knees. Their shoulders brushed casually as they
worked, comfortable with each other.
He eventually sighed and pushed back from the table,
his hands rising to rub at his eyes. He let out a
frustrated groan and she dropped a piece of lo mien
into his open mouth. He swallowed and kissed her,
his mouth tasting of spices and coffee. He pulled
away after a moment and tucked his face into her
shoulder. Their mushrooms were pushed to the side of
their plates and she hadn't looked towards his
bedroom since she got there, afraid of the memory of
"I don't want to get digested again," he confessed
into her neck, his breath fluttering over her skin.
She curved her arm around his back and let him press
her back so he was lying on her. He was warm and
solid, six feet of muscle and bone, and he curled up
with his head on her breast.
"You're heavy," she told him. "Get off me."
"I should have left you down there," he quipped back,
a hand curled around her waist. "See if I rescue you
next time we get eaten."
She snorted and ran her fingers over his ass. "I'll
never do your expense reports again."
"I'll mess up your desk." He grabbed her little
finger in his fist. "Mix up the paper clips with the
"You wouldn't." He raised an eyebrow at her.
“You’re cute. I think I’ll keep you.” He smiled as
she flirted with him, slipped her hand under the
waistband of his jeans, as she helped him forget
about giant mushrooms, the world outside her eyes.