Puzzle Pieces
Title: Puzzle Pieces
Author: Invisigoth
Feedback: Invisigoth4@lycos.com
Rating: Strong R
Classification: SRA
Spoilers: Arcadia through Field Trip
Disclaimer: Not mine
Archive: Please ask first
Summary: Scully and Mulder work on a puzzle, among 
other things



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 
sand.

"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.

XxXxXx

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 
stop smiling.

XxXxXx

"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 
this."

"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 
the stars.

"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 
tree."

"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.

XxXxXx

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 
point.  

"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 
pieces.

Fun, she thought.  I remember what that is.

XxXxXx

"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.

"The guy?"

"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 
is easy?

After six years she was glad he still thought that.

XxXxXx

"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 
gently.

"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 
it.

"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.

"Scully, I-"

"Later, Mulder," she said, holding up her hand.  
"Later."

XxXxXx

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 
neck.

"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.  
Huh.

"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 
at him.

"You always will be to me," she said and he grinned 
at her, pleased.

XxXxXx

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 
have.

"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 
her.

"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.

XxXxXx

"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 
told themselves.

"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…"

"Mulder…"

"I'm being serious here, Scully."

"Shut up, Mulder."

XxXxXx

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 
SEND.

"Scully," she said, turning her back on the curious 
stares of the other women.

"Did you turn in the expense reports on the dog 
case?"

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 
night.

"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 
always."

"Have a nice weekend, Mulder."

"And you'd look great it that..."

"Bye, Mulder."

XxXxXx

"Scully, I thought we could order pizza or something 
for dinner."

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."

XxXxXx

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."

XxXxXx

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 
aliens.

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.

XxXxXx

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 
collarbone.

"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 
moment, smiling.

XxXxXx

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.

XxXxXx

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 
his casket.

"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 
butterfly clips."

"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.

XxXxXx

End

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