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Futures Past 05: Flying Lessons

by Arvy

Futures Past 04:
Crossover
Home Futures Past 06:
Hazel + Gold = Green

RATING - PG
CATEGORY - C(rossover), R(omance), A(ngst)
SPOILERS - Chinga(XF)
KEYWORDS - X-files/Highlander/Forever Knight crossover, Mulder/Scully Romance

SUMMARY

Companion piece to Crossover. Just another night as the agents come to terms with the changes and the constants in their new lives.

DISCLAIMER

None of these characters belong to me, and like so many worthy people before me, I'm only borrowing them for a short while. All characters referred to herein belong to CC, or 1013, or Fox, or Tristar, or Rysher, whoever owns the rights to them.

Author's Notes

Told ya there'd probably be a followup. So here it is. And combined with Crossover, this baby is over 300K. Whew! I can finally close the book on this chapter after almost 4 months of work. Don't worry, there are lots more ideas where this one came from, for those of you still interested.

For those just tuning in, this is the fifth in the series. The dynamic duo are still in Seattle, and this story takes place about a week after FP4: Crossover. You might want to read that one first, if you haven't already. If you can't find the previous parts at Gossamer, drop me a line at unmai@bigfoot.com and I'll send you a copy. Or better yet, hop on down to my webpage at http://unmai.cjb.net/arvy for all my other work.

This isn't really too much in depth about their newfound skills, but it does explore Mulder's unique abilities a bit. Other than that, it's mostly fluff. No X-file or anything serious like that. Also there's really very little angst in here, and it's quickly resolved. Also a severe MSR warning for those of you who don't like that kind of stuff. All others, enjoy. And send lots of feedback after you read it :) The address is unmai@bigfoot.com.


Sam - I'm scheduled to test-fly the X2 on Monday!
Al - Did you ever think of taking Flying Lessons?

- Quantum Leap, Genesis.

Mulder Residence, Seattle, WA
Monday, February 23, 1998
8:03 PM

"NO! I said no. Dammit!"

The cry startled the redhead in the kitchen, almost causing her to drop the glasses she had just pulled out of the cabinet. She carefully placed them back down on the counter, then turned to hurry out of the kitchen into the living room. She stopped short at the sight that greeted her. Her jaw dropped as her mind tried to assimilate what her eyes were telling it was going on. It took a couple of tries before she finally regained her senses enough to remember to close her mouth.

"What the hell!"

"Ah, good, Scully. Would you tell this idiot to stop and let go already? I don't know how much longer I can hold on."

"What in heaven's name is going on, Mulder? What are you doing?" To Dana Scully, it looked like her partner and newfound lover was trying to do a handstand on top of the couch. How he managed to get himself in such a position was beyond her. But there he was, upside-down, his hands gripping the back of the couch, his legs flailing every which way. It was eerie how he managed to stay upright, or rather upside-downright, with all that thrashing around. What was even more astonishing was the fact that Nick was trying to force Mulder to loosen his grip on the couch, a grip that already seemed to be clawing its way through the upholstery.

She looked around to see her friend Natalie sitting on the armchair across from the two men, trying desperately to smother her laughter. When she managed to get it under control, she looked up first at Scully, then the self-proclaimed acrobat, and promptly dissolved into giggles again. Obviously, she was going to be no help here.

"Let go! I said... Noooo...!"

The cry brought her attention back to the scene in front of her. Nick had apparently finally managed to loosen Mulder's death grip on the piece of furniture, although how he did it without Mulder tumbling over was a miracle in itself. That was when the next shock of the night occurred. Instead of falling over as his fingers lost their grip on the couch, Mulder shot upwards, hitting the ceiling, and uttering a series of "Owws" as he bounced against it a few times before he finally stopped. Now he was firmly plastered to the top of the room, staring frantically at the three looking up at him, his eyes pleading with them to find a way for him to get down. Scully turned to Nick, who had the grace to look slightly sheepish.

"I'm sorry, Dana," he said. "He brought up the topic of flying lessons. I guess I should have gone with the tried and true method instead of trying to be more... humane. But he has to learn to fly... whatever it takes."

Scully turned back to the ceiling, now adorned by a fan, a light fixture and one very nervous FBI Agent. After that initial display of vampiric transformation that fateful night almost five days ago, Mulder hadn't really used his newfound powers overtly in any way. Oh, there had been little hints here and there, like that thing with his heartbeat, or overhearing a phone conversation on both sides, or commenting on the smell of her perfume from all the way across the room. And then there was the time she had caught him moving about without any lights on. From what Nick had told her, vampirism extended a person's vision deeper into the infrared part of the spectrum. It probably also corrected Mulder's slight color-blindness, as evidenced by the number of times he'd commented on the fiery color of her hair. Apparently, he'd told her, it had always seemed like a deep ochre shade to him before.

But this was the first time she had seen a tangible manifestation of those powers. Mulder wasn't just lying against the ceiling. He was flying! Actually defeating the laws of gravity and force and others too numerous to mention. She wouldn't have believed it if she hadn't seen it with her own eyes. She still didn't quite believe it completely. As she watched, he slowly inched over to the light jutting out of what seemed to him to be the floor. Reaching it, he wrapped his arms around it, prepared to hold on for dear life.

"Exactly how were you planning on getting him down?" Scully turned to face Nick, trying very hard not to notice the 170 pounds or so hanging over their heads.

"Usually the problem is staying up, not getting down." Nick smiled, pulling his eyes away from his student to look at Scully. "When LaCroix was trying to train me, he would take me to the roof of my house and push me over. After a couple of times of getting my neck broken, the instinct sort of just kicked in. It took a while to get fine tuned control, mind you," he said, smiling as his eyes wandered back up to the ceiling, "but I never had this much problem coming back down."

"How did you get him up in the first place?" Scully darted a nervous glance above her, partly to confirm that he was still safe up there, and partly to make sure she was still safe down here. The last thing they needed would be to have him fall on top of their heads. She wisely moved over a couple of feet, just to be on the safe side.

"I told him to hold on to something solid, and to think of himself as being lighter than air. I just kept repeating the phrase and... well, you saw the results when you came in."

"Wouldn't the opposite work? Why don't you try telling him to think of himself as slowly getting heavier?"

"I was just about to try that." Nick nodded at her, then turned back to face the other man. "Okay, Mulder, are you listening to me?" The man above him nodded slightly, his eyes still scrunged shut, his body still wrapped around the light fixture as if it were his only tether to safety. "I want you to try calming down, and slowly think of yourself as getting heavier. Okay? Slowly, Mulder."

"It's not working," Mulder replied through clenched teeth.

"Of course not! I told you, you have to stay calm. Empty your mind of everything. Just listen to my voice, and everything will be okay."

The words were directed at Mulder, but listening to them almost made Scully feel somewhat... She shook her head, and the feeling disappeared. Nat had mentioned something about this as well. With all these caveats about his powers, she thought briefly about writing them down somewhere, just so she wouldn't be surprised when Mulder suddenly did something weird. What had she said about the hypnotism? Something about the quality of a vampire's voice. Apparently, the vocal cords thickened slightly, giving the person a deeper voice. She hadn't noticed this much in Mulder, but the voice also had a somewhat hypnotic quality, at least upon mortals. Immortals and certain mortals, or resistors, as they were called, were unaffected by this mesmerism, unless they chose to allow themselves to be hypnotized.

And that was the problem right now. Mulder was so freaked out by his sudden flight that he wasn't allowing himself to become calm. As a result, Nick's words were having a hard time getting through to him. Scully decided to intervene a little. She looked up, calling his name. "Mulder." She saw his eyes blink open as he registered her voice. "Hey up there," she said softly. She felt a slight wave of relief when he managed a small, albeit nervous smile. Good, she thought, he wasn't too far gone. Continuing in her soft voice, she said, "Mulder. I want you to listen to Nick, okay. Calm down, and listen. Will you do that for me?"

He closed his eyes again, willing himself to calm down. After all, even if he fell, it wasn't as if he would die. Besides, Scully was there. She would take care of him. Gritting his teeth, he nodded slightly, opening himself to Nick's words. As they slowly sank in, he felt himself growing heavier. The feeling of weightlessness faded. He opened his eyes, looked down, and was thankful to see the floor just a foot below him. But the trance broke when he opened his eyes, and, as a result, he landed the last few inches with a thud. He immediately reached over, grabbing the couch again, and letting out an immense breath of relief.

"I...," he said, gasping, "... am never...," breath, "... doing that again."

"Sorry Mulder." Nick looked at him pointedly. "It's not an option. Every newborn vampire has to go through this. Would you rather I just pushed you off the attic? Because that would probably work quicker, although it won't be as pleasant."

"No." Mulder shook his head stubbornly.

"Good, let's try again."

"I meant I don't want to try..."

"I know what you meant. And, like I said, that's not the choice I gave you." Nick's voice rose sharply. "In here, or outside, from the attic?"

Mulder tried to match the glare from the older vampire, but couldn't quite make it. Damn, this guy could give the Scully glare a run for its money. Seeing no way out of it, he tightened his grip on the couch, muttering a quiet "In here."

"Okay, just like before. Listen closely to my voice. You're getting lighter. Your body's not as heavy anymore. You can feel your weight dropping..."

Again, as before, Mulder felt his feet leaving the ground. He sucked in a breath, determined to get this right. Keeping his eyes open, he looked down, wobbling slightly as he did so.

"Now, just stay at that height," Nick said when Mulder had risen about three or four feet.

This time, Mulder didn't feel as uncontrolled as before. No way was he letting go of the couch yet, but at least he wasn't feeling as if he would shoot off into space the minute he let go. With a little bit of effort, he found that he could move up, down and sideways, just by thinking about it. He looked up from where he was staring at his feet to turn a triumphant gaze at Nick. "I think... I've almost..."

"Yes, Mulder. You're doing it. Just will it, and let it happen."

Mulder turned to face his partner, a smile on his face. When she saw him look at her, she realized she had been staring at him the whole time. She blushed, then smiled encouragingly at him. He held out one hand to her, and when she moved forward and reached out to grasp it, he moved his other hand off the couch to enfold hers in his. He lost his balance slightly, uttering a startled "Whoa...!" as he swayed a little before righting himself. Looking back into his partner's eyes, he whispered, "Superman, eat your heart out." Both their faces lit up at the private joke as Mulder slowly lowered himself back to the floor.

"I think that's enough for today. Soon we'll try this outside, after you gain enough control." Nick went to sit down, and Natalie reached up to give him a quick kiss before sitting back and turning to Mulder. "Nick's taken me flying before. And believe me when I say, there's nothing quite as exhilarating."

Stealing a quick kiss themselves, Mulder turned to Natalie. "I'm sure it's... something else," Mulder agreed as Scully returned to the kitchen to fetch the wine and the glasses she'd almost dropped before.

Today was her birthday, and after a small celebration at Joe's, the four of them had returned to Mulder's place to chat for a while. Somehow, it felt strange, acknowledging birthdays, Scully thought as she got the wine out. They didn't exactly signify anything anymore, except as a handy way of keeping track of how many years she'd been alive. When you don't age, having a number to signify it seemed almost... frivolous. Staying thirty-something all her life... At least both of them would be able to pass for someone in their twenties or their forties. It would give them more time before having to change identities. But at the same time, having birthdays seemed so normal, something she couldn't imagine not doing. Sighing, she wondered about other things, most of them inconsequential on the surface, that would eventually lose their meaning as time went by, or didn't, as the case was for them.

Pushing the wistful thoughts out of her head, she headed back to the living room, not too surprised to see Mulder hovering again over the coffee table. He was like a little boy sometimes, give him a new toy and he could spend hours investigating every single aspect of it.

"Hey, Scully. This is actually fun. You should try it sometime."

Sometime in the far, far future, she thought, recalling only too well the bouts of motion sickness she'd occasionally get while flying on airplanes. She'd never liked flying much, and probably hated the idea of it almost as much as Mulder hated open water. She smiled at the thought. She could probably beat Mulder when it came to the number of times one of them had been sick because of their respective phobias.

"Remember, Mulder. You have to be careful. Don't do this outside except at night."

"You worry too much, Nick." Seeing the look directed at him, Mulder hastily added, "Don't get your knickers in a wad. I'll remember. I don't exactly want to advertise either, you know?" Quickly changing the subject, he asked, "Say, how high can I fly? Is there a limit or something?"

"Mulder..."

The warning tone sounded from his partner as he descended once again. He walked over to sit by her, grabbing a glass of wine as he did so. He gave a slight grin at the nauseated grimace on Nick's face as he sipped from the glass. "What? I'm just curious."

"I hope so, Mulder. No one I know has flown higher than a few hundred feet or so. I have no idea what happens if we go higher, but I'm sure it won't be pleasant."

Mulder nodded as he digested this piece of information. Nonetheless, Scully could tell from one look at his face that the matter was far from resolved. He would quietly accept what Nick told him now. Whether he would accept it come tomorrow was an entirely different story. She finished off her wine as she wondered how she could dissuade him from trying something foolhardy the next chance he got. She allowed herself a silent snort. As if she ever could.

"Are you sure you don't want a little wine, Nick?" Mulder asked, his face the picture of innocence as he picked up the empty glass from the table. He grinned at the look of vehemence Nick shot at him, his grin widening at Natalie's next words, "Yeah, why don't you try some, Nick? It tastes wonderful."

"Not right now, thanks," he muttered, studiously avoiding Natalie's eyes.

He was saved from any further pressure by Scully when she brought up the next topic of conversation. It was something she had been thinking about for the past week, ever since she'd found out about being immortal. "Nat? I've been meaning to ask you. Duncan said that he practices in his dojo. Where do you... you know...?"

"Oh, at Nick's. He has this huge loft, and it's pretty isolated, so we don't disturb anyone. Plus, he's a great sparring partner. After all, he was born when swordfighting was commonplace. I couldn't ask for a better teacher," she said, looking at the person in question, adding with a mischievous smile, "although he does claim to be getting rusty after all this time." That earned her a mock glare.

Scully smiled as well, thinking about what her friend had said. "I suppose we'll have to find someplace as well." Turning to her partner, she said, "Mulder, we might have to start looking for a martial arts dojo or fencing gym when we get back to DC. We won't be able to just spar in our apartments, you know."

"All in good time, Scully. Maybe, Duncan's clansman, Connor, can suggest some good ones in the area. Or, he might be able to provide us with an even better location. We'll call him when we get back."

Satisfied, Scully nodded, then turned back to her old friend. "Nat, how'd you manage when you first found out... you know, about being immortal? It can't have been easy."

Her friend shrugged at the question. "Actually, it was easier than it might have been. I was really lucky that no one saw me actually die the first time. I was able to go back to my life. There are many of us who have to give up their life, their friends, everything they've known, and move on. It can be quite a shock the first time. But, for me at least, other than the daily training with Nick, my life hasn't changed all that much. There are, of course, little things. I've noticed that I don't get as tired near the end of my work shifts. And the training keeps you in better shape than any workout you can imagine. Immortality certainly cuts down on doctor's costs, although the dry-cleaning is hell."

"Dry-cleaning?" Mulder frowned at the non sequitur. Suddenly, he understood the reference, his face paling at the idea. He gulped. "How many have you... ah...," he coughed, "you know..." He made a swishing motion with his hand to indicate what he meant.

Natalie gave him a small smile. "Two. I hated each one. And I hoped each time that I'd never have to do it again. I tried to avoid them, like I did others, but sometimes you have no choice." She let out a sigh, leaning back as she recalled the unpleasant memories. "You know, you two might actually be lucky at that." She saw both the agents raise their eyebrows questioningly. "It's been my experience that most immortals looking for a fight generally don't bother when there are two of you to contend with. So you may not be bothered as much as if it were only one of you."

"I suppose," Mulder mused, "but I don't mind telling you I am not completely in love with the idea that once a challenge is made, you have to fight. I mean, what if you don't want to? Isn't there any way to escape it?"

"You know," Nick chuckled, "I asked Nat and Duncan the same thing a couple of years ago. You won't believe how frustrating it was to just stand back and let her fight..."

"...and I'm going to tell you the same thing I told Nick, the same thing Duncan told me." Natalie sighed. "You can't get away from it, Mulder. You can try hiding on holy ground. Some have tried that, with varying degrees of success. But, honestly, I can't picture either of you getting cloistered any time soon."

"But, what if we refused to fight? Or if we shot the other immortal and then walked away?" Mulder stubbornly asked.

"The problem with refusing to fight is that those intent on killing you will keep coming back until they succeed, or until you kill them. And there's no way to stop them, short of fighting them to the death. You can't just shoot them, and hope they'll forget about you. Especially with the Gathering supposedly around the corner."

Mulder sighed as Natalie's words only confirmed what MacLeod had taught them over the past week. It was so ridiculous, being granted immortality, the chance to live forever, but with the sword of Damocles constantly hanging over their heads, or necks, in this case. It seemed like such a waste, such a stupid Game, as MacLeod had put it. And this Gathering. No one, immortal or Watcher, seemed to know anything specific about it, except that it was inevitable. One day, all immortals would be pulled inexorably to fight each other to the death, until only one remained to claim the mythical Prize. Of course, no one knew what the prize was either. Some said ultimate power, others claimed it was simple mortality. What a crock! He was sure God, or whoever first came up with the notion of immortals, was laughing his head off somewhere in the heavens. He felt Scully reach out and place her hands over his.

"We'll get through this, Mulder. Like Duncan said, one day at a time."

He smiled, nodding at her. "Maybe we could buy an old chapel or something and convert it into a house. At least, then, we won't have to worry about our heads being chopped off in our sleep."

Scully felt relieved at his sarcastic remark. The humor indicated that he had managed to shake off the pensive mood he seemed to be falling into. Mulder had an uncanny knack of affecting everyone around him in when he sank into one of his moods. And it usually took a good deal of work to pull him out of them. She should know; she'd only had to do it a couple of hundred times over the past five years.

"You know...," Nick said slowly, turning to Natalie. "That's not a bad idea. Maybe we could get someone to bless the loft, consecrate it somehow. At least, then, we'll have some place safe..."

Natalie cut him off, smiling at his words. "We'll do it once you get over your fear of holy objects. Face it, Nick, if we were to do that, you wouldn't be able to set foot within the loft." Nick managed a wan smile at her words. "That conditioning that LaCroix mentioned is just too strong. I've seen you get burnt from handling something as small as that little cross on Dana's necklace. What would living on holy ground do to you? Besides, remember, no fighting on holy ground. Where would we practice?"

"All right, okay, no turning the loft into St. Nick's," he replied, smiling as he raised his hands in surrender.

Mulder suddenly let out a snort of laughter. Seeing the others look at him, he tried to explain. "I was just picturing Skinner, our boss, as we tried to explain why me and Scully were moving into the chapel down the street."

Scully's eyes twinkled as she tried to imagine the scene Mulder described. It would certainly be something to see. "Oh, yes, sir. Religion is very important to us," she said, mimicking a patient Mulder trying to explain their sudden change of address to an infuriated Skinner. She couldn't help it. She laughed as well.

"Or, how about this?" Mulder went on. "While we were on our vacation, the ghost of Elvis came to me in a dream, and told me that you and I had to found the New Church of Presleites."

Scully let out a groan, still chuckling at the idea. "No, no. You have it all wrong. Skinner would never believe that. You should either say that Elvis' ghost visited you in real life, or that it was Elvis himself in the dream. Elvis' ghost appearing in a dream is just too..."

"... spooky?"

"I was going to say 'too much'," Scully retorted good naturedly. "Too bad we won't be doing it though. It might be worth going through with it just to see the look on Skinner's face."

"So you guys are definitely not going to move in together?" Nat interjected. During their daily lessons, Dana had mentioned something along those lines. But, obviously, this was the first Nick had heard of it, as evidenced by the questioning look on his face.

"No, Nat," she replied. "It would just be too dangerous for us, right now anyway. Maybe when our positions are more secure. Besides, if the Bureau ever got wind of us, one or the both of us will probably get transferred. There are too many people who would be only too happy to have a legitimate excuse to shut down our work. And we'd be playing right into their hands."

Natalie simply nodded at this. Privately she felt sorry for her friend. She had just found her happiness, and now she would have to hide it behind a veil of caution. But if that caution was justified... She had been horrified at what Dana and Mulder had mentioned at the bar the week before. And apparently, not even Canada was completely safe from these madmen who had somehow managed to get themselves into power. Mulder had mentioned certain experiments he'd witnessed north of the border involving biological warfare. He'd talked about how this... consortium... was using bees and other methods to perform controlled experiments on the unsuspecting populace. She felt an involuntary shudder at the idea. She saw her friend tighten her hold on Mulder's hand.

"Maybe, one day, when we've found what we're looking for..." the redhead said softly.

"One day...," Mulder echoed, his voice soft with hope, yet strong with promise.

Natalie saw her friends staring into each other's eyes, lost in the moment. She silently wished them both the best of luck. From what she had seen and heard of their lives, these two were sorely in need of all the good fortune they could get. She smiled as she realized that they had probably forgotten that she and Nick were still in the room. She looked over at Nick, seeing him nod silently as he echoed her smile.

"Well, it was a great evening, guys. But Nick and I should get going. I'll see you two tomorrow." She placed her wineglass on the table and stood up. The agents broke off their intense gaze at the sudden interruption. Blushing, they stood up as well, escorting Nick and Nat to the door. "Good night," Natalie said on her way out the door. "And happy birthday, Dana."


9:21 PM

Mulder dried the wineglasses and put them back into the cabinet. He wiped the last of the water from around the sink, and was putting up the towel when he heard the faint footsteps sneaking up behind him. He froze, smiling to himself as he waited for the sounds to get closer... closer... He felt the presence come up behind him, and turned around to gather the person standing there into his arms as he firmly planted a sound kiss on her lips.

Damn sensitive hearing! the redhead thought, her surprise fading into pleasure as she melted into the kiss. She felt his hands roaming over her robe, moving to the front to part it, moving inside to stroke her sides, then sliding back to cup her cheeks, pulling her up into the kiss as it deepened.

"Mmm..., a butt-man, Mulder?" This was new, not that she was complaining. "I would never have guessed." She smiled as she pulled away from his lips, looking up to stare into his flushed face.

"You know it, G-woman. Butt soft, what light...," he began, breaking off at her exasperated smile. "Seriously though, what do you think I stare at all those times I usher you into Skinner's office? I need something to focus on while Skinner's chewing my ass off." He leaned down to place a delicate kiss on her nose.

She laughed as she retorted, "Oh, really? And here I thought you just wanted to give Skinner's secretary a chance to see your delicious ass. I know I should be insulted or offended, but seeing as how I've done the same thing so many times..."

"Let Kimberly check out your ass? Oooh! I think I just got very turned on."

She wanted to wipe that mischievous smirk off his face, but settled for a light slap on his chest. "You would. Get your mind out of the gutter, Mulder. I was talking about checking out yours. And if I ever catch you letting Kim, or anyone else for that matter, check you out..."

"Oooh! I'm so scared. If I do, then what, Agent Scully?"

Her voice dropped to a sultry whisper as she replied, "Then, Agent Mulder, your ass is mine." She leaned back in, wrapping her arms around him and kissing him again to emphasize her point.

When she finally pulled back from the kiss, she smiled at his hoarse whisper, "It already is, Scully. It already is."

"You'd better remember that, buster. Now, I'm going to go take a shower," she said, turning to walk out of the kitchen. She paused at the door, looking coyly over her shoulder at the man standing a few feet behind her, her voice dropping until it sent shivers up his spine. "Care to join me?"

He was so tempted to say yes. Well, he thought, isn't that what a temptress did? Tempt? And Dana Scully, MD, was one bewitching temptress when she set her mind to it. He actually surprised himself when he said, "No." Seeing her startled look, he grinned. "I have a surprise for you." The look turned into one of expectant delight. "I want you to go take your shower. It'll be ready when you come out. Go on, get," he shooed her, waving his hands in the direction of the bathroom.


9:44 PM

He heard the sounds of the shower stop as he opened the door to the bedroom. He walked in, his hands behind his back. Just in time to see Scully drop her robe and reach for the pajamas she had placed on the bed.

"Whoops. Sorry," he blushed, turning away. Then, realizing what he'd just done, he turned around again, the blush deepening. He saw Scully standing there, pajamas in her hand, an eyebrow arched, and a growing grin gracing her face.

"Mulder, did you just do what I think you did?"

"I...," he began, his expression conveying his embarrassment.

She laughed. "Mulder," she said in exasperation, "there's nothing here you haven't intimately explored within the last week. And I daresay, I've gotten to know your body equally well myself."

"Give me a break, Scully. It's been a while. This is strange. Getting used to it, I mean. Used to you, to us." He laughed. "God, I can't believe I did that." He moved forward towards her, reaching out to gently pull the pajamas out of her hand.

Scully used the movement to steal a kiss from him, her lips meeting his as she leaned up and into him. Their tongues dueled as she burrowed into his chest.

When they finally broke apart, each slightly breathless, Mulder ran his tongue over his lips, savoring the lingering taste that remained. "I think I'm beginning to regret not joining you in the shower."

Scully lightly swatted him, reaching past him to grab the pajamas again.

"Uh-unh. No pjs for you tonight, m'dear. I've got something special for the birthday girl." He placed the pajamas on the bed, pulling out the wrapped box that he had been hiding behind him all along.

Her eyes lit up at the sight. "Oh, Mulder. You shouldn't have."

"I didn't."

"Hunh?" She took the box, her expression one of confusion.

"I mean I didn't get this for your birthday. Well, not this one anyway." He put his hands over hers, stilling them before she could tear into the package. "Do you remember what you got for your birthday a couple of years ago? It wasn't too long after Modell, remember?"

She thought fondly of the green robe and slippers ensemble that she'd found waiting for her when she'd returned home that day, two years ago. Dealing with Modell had really brought the two of them together, and she'd been touched by his gift. Oh, the package had been unsigned, and a week late, but there was no question that it had been from Mulder, even if there had been no card, just a lazy Happy Birthday written on the package in his familiar scrawl. That he felt comfortable enough around her to give her something so personal had touched her deeply. Of course, it had also raised some hopes, hopes that hadn't been realized until recently. Still, the robe had quickly become her favorite, a fond reminder of their closeness and their friendship, even if neither of them had gotten around to acknowledging that it had been from him.

"Well, guess what else came with them?" His eyes twinkled. "When I saw the set, the idea of you in it just popped into my head. I couldn't see myself giving you this piece then. But I guess it's lounged in my drawers long enough." He pulled his hands away, gesturing for her to open the package. "Happy birthday, Scully." He watched as she tore open the wrapping, opening the box to reveal the nightgown that lay inside.

She placed the box on the bed, reaching in to pull out the gown. It was green, and matched the robe and slippers perfectly. As Mulder had said, a matched set. It seemed so silky, so diaphanous, almost as if woven out of gossamer. She slipped it on, luxuriating in the feel of the fabric against her body. She smiled at Mulder, letting her appreciation of the gift shine through. "It's lovely, Mulder. Thank you so much. I love it." She moved to look at herself in the mirror. She paused when she didn't hear a comment from him. She turned to find him staring at her, his mouth hanging open slightly.

Wow! The gown hugged her body in all the right places, yet seemed to flow around her, loose and sexy, all at the same time. If this was how she looked in it, he was glad he'd waited until he could actually see her in it before giving it to her. "Wow," he repeated, aloud this time. "You look...," he fumbled for the right words before deciding once again on a breathy, "wow!" He saw the blush as her face lit up at his words. He grinned, moving forward to kiss her again. Together they moved to the bed, falling into it in a mass of jumbled hands and legs.

"It's beautiful, Mulder." Scully pulled back from the kiss. "But..." She slowly began unbuttoning his shirt, then started in on his jeans.

He quickly got the idea, reaching behind her to undo the clasp on her nightgown. Great as she looked in it, he had to admit, she looked even better without it on. "Wouldn't want to ruin my first gift to my girlfriend now, would we?" he chuckled. "Here, let me help you get off..."

"Girlfriend?" Scully cut him off, dutifully ignoring the implied innuendo. She carefully folded the gift and placed it back in its box before returning to Mulder's side.

"Isn't that what you are?" Mulder groaned slightly as he felt her hands caress his bare chest, now that his shirt was completely off. He could feel her fingernails drag over his skin, scratching softly, exciting him. His hands moved up to return the favor.

Now it was her turn to moan as his hands wandered over her body, seemingly encompassing her, stroking in all the right places, exciting her senses, setting off the nerve endings where they brushed, making her crave his touch where they didn't. "Don't you think, uhhh... God, Mulder," she began, arching into his touch, hoping to get more of her body in contact with his, "that we're a little old to be... uhh... called boyfriend and girlfriend?" She finished, breathless, as he continued his ministrations.

"So what would you call us, Scully?" He was enjoying the effect he was having on her. "What exactly are we to each other?"

"We're partners, Mulder. You might even say we're soulmates." She let out a keening squeal as his fingers found a particularly sensitive spot. "Oh, god! Right there, Mulder."

"Hi, I'm Fox Mulder. And this is my soulmate, Dana Scully," he mimicked their usual introduction. "I don't know, calling us soulmates has a nice ring to it, but you gotta admit, it sounds kinda hokey when you say it like that." He grinned when he realized that she was fast approaching the point where she couldn't care less whether she was his soulmate, his girl Friday, or his whatever. "How about significant other? Isn't that the popular term nowadays?" he couldn't resist teasing her.

"Not anymore Mulder. And could we talk about this later?" Her lips came together in a pout. "There are so many wonderful things we could be doing right now, instead of arguing about how to address each other in public."

"But..."

"We're partners, Mulder. And that's that. Now pay attention. Right there, yessss...," she hissed. She soon realized that he was way overdressed, and quickly decided to remedy the situation. She rolled them over so she was above him. She unbuttoned his jeans, pulling them off in one sweep. Her gaze traveled up to the last remaining piece of clothing, and she couldn't help the hiccup of laughter that escaped her.

Her partner, in more than one sense now, lay back against the headboard, his hands behind his head, looking down at her as she reached up to grasp his boxers. He grinned. "Thought you might like that," he said, indicating the multicolored garment.

She couldn't help staring. Cars? She probably loved the simple black ones the most. Still, he always managed to get a laugh out of her at his creative choices in underwear. She mentally ticked off the pink flying pigs, the glowing green Xs, the looney toons, and the UFOs. How many boxers did the man own anyway? This was the fifth one, and sported cars of various designs and models. She leaned in for a closer look. Damn if that wasn't a Mustang right there on the front seam.

Mulder grasped her shoulders, interrupting her perusal as he pulled her up closer to him. He arched up as he felt her moving over him.

She could feel him through the boxers, sliding against her as she moved up. Her breath caught as his lips came close to hers. She allowed her own lips to part slightly in anticipation, hearing his words through a haze of desire and want.

"So, Scully," the harsh whisper sounded, "Have you ridden a Ford lately?"


"Five years, Scully. Tell me again why we waited so long."

The sated couple lay in each others' arms, the sheets twining around them. Mulder pulled her in tighter, nuzzling into the sweet scent of her hair.

Scully, in turn, rubbed her cheek against his chest, then turned to plant delicate kisses from his throat down. "You know, Mulder, if you had given me the nightgown along with the robe and slippers, or if you'd even just signed your name on that gift..."

"I thought for sure you'd have kicked my ass across DC if I'd dared. Do you have any idea how scared I was to give you even the robe? I was expecting the standard Let's just be friends lecture for almost a month after that. I still can't believe I actually found the courage to tell you last week."

"Oh, Mulder. Do you know how long I was waiting for you to tell me? I thought, after Pusher... and then you gave me the robe... I mean, I knew it was from you the instant I saw it. But you never stayed around long enough to really talk, and I guess I thought I might have been mistaken, that you didn't feel the same way."

"Why didn't you ever say anything? I thought if I avoided you, you might not find the chance to tell me you wanted a transfer or something."

"And look what happened."

Both became quiet as the events of a couple of years ago came back to them. Mulder remembered only too well what had happened. And he now realized that he might have inadvertently been responsible for it himself. Those few months when the rift between them just grew worse and worse... He'd turned himself inside out, trying to find a way to heal the distance between them. It had started out small... insignificant arguments that would heat up into shouting matches for no reason. And it had taken time. For about a half a year after Pusher, things had seemed nice enough.

But he'd been so afraid of losing her. After that ridiculous case with Ephesian and his wives up in Apison, he'd deliberately started distancing himself, protecting himself. And then, ditching her once again as he ran off to Russia with Krycek... God, what could he have been thinking? And then that stupid vacation to Graceland, when she probably needed him the most.

"Betts knew, didn't he?" he asked her quietly. She nodded into his chest, burrowing tighter against him. Leonard Betts, one of their more forgettable cases. He'd had the uncanny ability of sensing cancerous tumors in others, which he promptly went about extracting and consuming in order to stay alive. "Is that why...?" He couldn't quite bring himself to say the words, although his hands roamed down to caress her back, right where the tattoo had been.

She looked up into his eyes, a wan smile gracing her face. "I wanted to prove to myself that I didn't need you, or anyone else. I thought it was a way of rebelling. God, how stupid could I get? All the time I was with Ed, I kept thinking about you. I was so pissed off at you," she snorted, "but I missed you so much. And it felt like I had no right to you..."

"You always did, Scully. I was always yours. I just wish I'd had the courage to tell you sooner."

"You know, just for the record, Mulder. I didn't... with Ed... I didn't even want to." She felt him hug her tighter.

"I think we both made mistakes, Scully. I wish I'd been more open to you. I wish I'd seen just what you were going through. When I saw your journal in the hospital, it suddenly hit me. It felt to me like you were wanting to give up. You don't know how happy I was when you decided to fight. When I saw the spark back in your eyes... I just wish you had let me in, let me help with your cancer..."

"I wanted to fight, Mulder. So bad. But I think I'd given up the idea of actually beating the cancer. I just wanted justice in the time I had left against the bastards who had done this to me."

"You were cutting off your ties, weren't you?" he cut in. When she stared at him, he continued, "You were preparing yourself for death, so you decided to cut off everyone who cared about you, just so it wouldn't be so hard when the time finally came. I'm right, aren't I?" He saw her about to protest, but he cut her off. "I wasn't the only one, you know. I talked to your mother, and she said the same thing. You didn't visit her as often as you used to. You weren't giving up the fight, Scully, but you were giving up hope."

She choked back a sob. He'd hit the nail right on the head. She'd been so afraid, she'd realized it was actually easier to just accept her impending death. "I'm so sorry, Mulder. I was so scared to hope... Maybe it wouldn't have been so bad if I'd allowed myself to lean on you, or mom. But I'd never done that before. I've always been so self-sufficient, the idea of allowing either of you in never even occurred to me."

"I know," he said, a smile on his face. "I think I always knew. I was always there for you during your cancer, you know. Even if you didn't know it, even if you didn't want me there."

"I love you, Mulder. Thank you." Her voice caught in her throat as she uttered the words.

"You're entirely welcome, my beautiful angel. And I think, in some ways, it was a good thing we waited." She raised her eyebrows, prompting an answer from him. "We were partners, then friends, long before we became lovers. Not many people can say that. They say best friends make the best lovers. I don't know how true that is, but I'm not sure how well we would have worked out without this bond of trust between us that we had to forge first."

"Maybe, Mulder. But..."

"Granted, we were probably idiots for waiting this long. I've loved you since I don't know when, although I realized just how integral you'd become to my life when you were taken."

Scully nodded, smiling through her tears. "Mom told me how nice you were to the hospital staff."

He smirked. "Yeah, I'm surprised I wasn't nominated for the nicest visitor of the year award," he said, his sarcasm evident as he recalled how he'd shouted at and harangued the staff back then. "But, tell me something, Scully. You were assigned to me at first. Why did you stay with me after you came back? You could have transferred easily. In fact, Skinner told me that he'd offered you a transfer, but that you'd refused. Was it because you loved me so much, or because you genuinely thought the work wasn't without merit?"

"The work," she responded promptly. "Don't get me wrong, Mulder. I think I was attracted to you even then. But like I told you before, I don't think it was until New Mexico that I fully realized how much I loved you. Albert told me about what had happened, and when I saw the boxcar on fire, I just saw my life shatter around me."

He tightened his grip on her, using his humor to diffuse the situation. "With all the times, we've been shot at, hurt, nearly killed, it's a miracle we didn't become immortal long ago."

"Very funny, Mulder. Maybe if I wasn't such a great doctor..." She smiled, acknowledging his effort to lighten the mood. "But what I wanted to say was that staying with the X-files may have been partly because of you, but mostly it was because I thought the work needed to be done. I saw what you showed me during our cases, Mulder. I may not have agreed with your take on some of them, and I may have not wanted to believe some of the things I saw, but I was horrified at the injustice of it all. They were hiding the truth, Mulder. And it would have been wrong to turn a blind eye to that."

"But, do you think we would have stayed together if we'd fallen into the sack that night in Oregon?"

Memories of their first case flashed across her mind. She'd run to his room, half-naked, asking him to look at suspicious marks she'd found on her body. Marks that had turned out to be nothing more than mosquito bites. She had been so relieved, she'd flown into his embrace. It had been just a hint of the trust they would eventually share. Even then, each of them had known they were attracted to the other. And, each of them had probably also had an idea of the effect they had on the other. And each had known the consequences...

"You're right, Mulder. I don't think it would have worked out at all if we hadn't waited. Maybe we did wait a bit too long, but back then Jack was way too recent for me for any type of real relationship. And, knowing you, it would only have confirmed your suspicions that I was the spy Blevins and Cancerman intended me to be, sent to distract you and debunk your work."

"Exactly," he smiled at her. "I'm glad we held off long enough to learn to trust each other first. But I'm even more glad that we finally came to our senses. I'm so happy right now, Scully." He paused as he thought about what he wanted to say next. "You know I'm almost scared. Over the past week, I've kept wondering, waiting for this dream to end. You're everything I've ever wanted. I thought I wanted the truth, to find my sister. But I never realized how meaningless my so-called quest would have been without you to share it with, without you to share my life with. And every day, I'm afraid that I'll find out..."

"Hush, Mulder." She placed a finger to his lips. "Let me tell you something. This is one dream that I'm determined to make a reality. I'm never leaving you, Mulder. Not if you ask me to, not even if you threaten me. I love you, and I'll always be by your side. Together, Mulder." She grasped his hands in hers, intertwining their fingers. "Together, forever."

His face slipped into a slight smile at her words. "Promise?"

"That's a promise, G-man. C'mere." Her smile rivaled the one she'd given him back in Alaska, back when he'd been waking up from the retro-virus induced coma. Back then, she'd been happy that he was still alive, that their friendship and partnership was still viable. Now she had just promised him so much more. More than just their partnership, more than just a friendship. This was a bond on a deeper level, in effect a commitment as profound as a marriage proposal. His next words only served to seal the promise.

He moved closer to her, claiming her lips with his mouth. "I love you so much, Scully. Each moment only makes it more clear to me." He moved his hands to encircle hers, rubbing the back of her hands lightly as he contemplated his next words. His eyes grew smoky with passion as he whispered, "Marry me, Scully."

"Oh Mulder!" Her eyes widened at his question. She couldn't believe he'd actually asked. This was the second time, if memory served, even if the first one had been a joke. Or had it? She recalled how he'd spent his weekend during her previous vacation time. She didn't have to see the pencils falling on her partner's head to see how he'd managed to spend a couple of days when she wasn't around. She allowed herself a slight grin at the thought. What would he do without her? Then again, what would she do without him? There could only be one answer to his question. Mrs. Fox Mulder. The words almost rolled off her tongue. She felt a shiver run down her spine at the idea. She wanted to scream her assent, but the timing couldn't have been worse. There was no way they could get married, not at this point in their lives. She sighed. "You know we can't..."

"Not now, Scully. I know it isn't the right time. Not yet. But one day..." He smiled warmly at her. He'd expected her response, and hurried to reassure her.

She smiled back at him, glad that he agreed with her. One day... "Yes, Mulder. Of course I'll marry you. I would love to marry you."

His eyes radiated his happiness at her answer as he enveloped her in his arms once again. Together, they lay in the bed, gradually allowing the night to overtake them. As they were drifting off, Scully heard her partner mumble, "You do realize what we just did, don't you, Scully?" He could feel her smile against his chest as she answered.

"Hmm...? Yes, Mulder. I have a pretty good idea."

"No, I meant the names problem."

"Huh?" She didn't know if it was the sleepiness, but somewhere along the line, she'd lost track of what he was saying.

"The problem of what to call each other. It's official now... well, as official as it's gonna get for now. We're engaged, Scully. That means I get to call you my fiancée. Kinda has a nice ring to it, don't you think?"

"Mmmm...," she answered dreamily. "Just don't say it in front of Skinner. He's liable to bust a vein or something."

"Deal, Scully. Good night."

"Good night, Mulder."

The End


End Notes

The quote "But soft, what light through yonder window breaks..." is from Shakespeare's Romeo & Juliet. Please do not read any foreshadowing or symbolism into this story because of this quote. I have no plans to tragically kill off our heroes anytime soon. The quote just popped into my head as I was thinking about the dialogue.

Now that that's disclaimed with, I just wanted to say that I have no idea why I didn't just tack this onto the end of FP4:Crossover. Maybe I could even have moved some stuff from that into this. I don't know. That's just the way the muse's gifts fell.

About the birthday gift. I know that in Tempus Fugit, Scully mentions that 1997 was the first time Mulder actually remembered her birthday. What I assumed this to mean was that it was the first time he'd remembered it on time. He'd given her gifts before, but always too late, and usually unsigned. Just a way to explain his 1996 gift of the robe and slippers.

Whoa! This is it? That's all to the end notes? Yes, folks. I decided to give y'all a break. I can't for the life of me think of anything more to say. So I'll just end with the usual request for feedback. As always, the address is unmai@bigfoot.com.

Futures Past Chronology:

01 - The Awakening(Oct 1997)
02 - The Light of Day(Jan 1998)
03 - My Funny Valentine(Feb 1998)
04 - Crossover(Feb 1998)
05 - Flying Lessons(Feb 1998)

Futures Past 04:
Crossover
Home Futures Past 06:
Hazel + Gold = Green