Day Tripping

by diehard ArtemisX5

Title: Day Tripping
Author: diehard and ArtemisX5
Rating: NC-17
Classification: MSR, Post Truth/post-ep Spoilers: Night Flight--an MSR vignette by diehard Summary: Life on the run and a change in attitude Keywords: outlaw love, blacktop, open-air, a final goodbye

Feedback: alvaradomccain@earthlink.net

---lovely beta by sallie

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They're about an hour away from Tierra Amarilla, Scully's hungry, it's still New Mexico, and they've been on the road since 7 am this morning. It's close to noon on a Sunday and the blacktop's been deserted. Today's sun has zapped the remains of last night's torrential rain, drying the pavement, the desert sand and canyon walls---their slate is clean literally and figuratively in the hot shimmer of this new day.

All is bright and red-gold, a perfect backdrop for the two of them to speed their way toward a storage locker in Alamosa, CO--they're an infinitesimal blip on the cosmic radar screen---anonymous, suggestive of possibilities-- new arrivals in the world of aliases. David Stern and Delia Connor, that's who they are today. They left with three sets of ID's, three sets of ATM and credit cards, a Beretta and Ruger 9mm for each of them--with clips, which they keep hidden in the bottom of their duffels. For old time's sake, each of them is wearing a Walther PPK, his in his leg holster, hers shoved into her bootleg. Today's destination is where the Gunmen deposited three more sets of ID's, et al, and a large sum of cash, all in small denominations, all unmarked bills.

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And so the odyssey begins.

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They were able to make the strategic choice of identity last night, somewhere in between tattooing his initials inside the circle on her back with his tongue and the application of her lips as a compress to his favorite sore and aching muscle.

This morning, they feel like they're nobody and anybody, but if anyone asks, they're Stern and Connor, and in a hurry to get nowhere special. It's a good thing that today there's a long drive to help them get caught up to their new selves. Less than eight hours ago they were two people named Mulder and Scully and tonight, in bed, that's who they'll be again. As the road slips underneath them and the sun beats down on stretches of sand and sparse vegetation, they toss out job histories, and how-they-met stories---it's their new driving game.

He's wearing his usual black T-shirt and jeans and some sunglasses. What's surprising here is how she's dressed. She's a match for him, jeans, white tank, hair tousled by the wind, no makeup, freckles visible.

On the way out of Roswell, he stopped to gas up at 'Miles to Go'--they were the only ones in the deserted station. People were either still in bed or at early church services. Mulder ran into the station to pay, swaggering out several long minutes later with something behind his back. Standing with her back against the car door, she's eyeing him up and down, watching the desert morning cast a halo around his long, lean figure. Scully continues to watch, transfixed as his everyday mojo begins working on her.

"You are one sexy SOB." She can barely believe what's just come out of her mouth. She has no ability to self-edit around him anymore, no desire to do it.

"It's about time you started saying things like that."

She's struck with how different she is, what a contradiction she's become. Scully's sure he knows it, too. Last night, instead of shrouding herself in grief over a life over, she was thrilled to start a new one with him. Today, instead of fear as she faces life on the run, she feels liberated. In a personal revelation it occurs to her that this transformation doesn't need scrutiny; it needs her to go with it. Mulder was always better at accepting strange and unusual occurrences, it's time she got with the program.

"Sexiness notwithstanding, you took your sweet time." Not everything from their former lives has disappeared, somebody's got to keep him on his toes.

"I would hope you'd be able to overlook that; I've got something for you."

Closing the gap, Mulder presses himself against her, and slams his free hand on the hood of the car, pinning her in place. Keeping the other behind his back, he dazzles her with his dexterity, nudging aside her hair with his nose, kissing and biting the side of her neck.

"What...did you...have...?" Her question dissolves into a small, shivery sound in the back of her throat.

He pulls away, smiling, triumphant, and proffers his gift with a flourish. Sliver framed wire sunglasses, with little round lenses. He puts them on her slowly, and watches her smile as he loops each earpiece behind those shell ears, lets his hands trail down her arms once he's finished.

"You're going incognito, Outlaw."

" 'Incognito' as in your criminal accomplice?"

"That happened a long time ago."

He kisses her hand, and starts to turn away, but she stops him, pulls his hand up to her lips and kisses his knuckles. Looking up at his surprise, she gifts him with a smile inscrutable.

Now it's her turn to brand him.

"Get in that car and start driving, Outlaw."

And he does.

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Now they're on the outskirts what the map says is Tierra Amarilla---a scattering of adobe houses, a post office, a dry goods store-cum-gas station, calling it an actual town seems like false advertising. Mulder tosses his sunglasses into the backseat to get a better look---what's caught his attention is a squat, square tin-roofed shack with a large, hand-lettered sign--- Chavita's Casita No hay comida mejor! She pushes her wire rims down the bridge of her nose, shoots him a look as he pulls off the road and into the red dirt parking lot.

"C'mon, Scully. We can't pass up a dare." He winks at her from the rearview mirror.

"I'd like to pass up dysentery, thanks." She smirks at him, but gets out of the car anyway. It strikes her that they'll be eating at a lot of places like this, so she decides to drop the resistance. rearview wrapped his arm around her waist, sashaying her through the door. Besides, a large brown-skinned woman with a long black braid and a gold tooth has come to the door and is waving them in.

It's a tiny diner--there's a red formica counter with five stools, and three tables covered in checked oilcloth, each flanked with rickety looking wooden chairs. But despite the less than luxurious decor, Chavita's is spotless. Scully's glad she didn't nag him out of stopping here, the smells coming from the grill and stove in a little alcove are making her mouth water. Scents of garlic, onion, crispy pork and toasted corn tortillas entice them, hang heavy in the air.

"Pasen, pasen, por favor...please have a seat." She guides them to the table nearest the door, fussing over the paper napkins, the silverware. They're the only customers in this down-home oasis.

Mulder pulls out her chair, and as Scully's settles in, he whispers in her ear, "Never doubt my judgment."

As the woman goes behind the counter to get glasses of water, she whispers back, "About food, anyway," casting a sly look his direction.

He reaches for her under the table, rubs her thigh, keeps rubbing it as drinks are set on the table. Chavita asks him if he's got a good appetite.

"Always," he answers with a shit-eating grin, and Scully blushes as she takes off her sunglasses.

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The food keeps coming and coming and the two of them eat their fill. Bowls of pozole, squash blossoms stuffed with queso chihuahua, and pork and green chile tamales, and they're loving every bite. Chavita tries to offer them a shot of tequila, but they opt for strong, black coffee. They make small talk with her, ask her about her family---she has six kids and eleven grandkids. They talk about the scenery, the weather, and they are very, very careful to call each other David and Delia.

As soon as they finish, the dishes are cleared away, and their host starts washing up at the tiny sink in the rear. She looks back over her shoulder at the two of them. Nice people, she thinks.

They're finishing the last of their coffee and Mulder decides he's going to tell her. But before he does, he takes a mental snapshot of this moment. She's looking out the window, a small smile gracing her features. Holding her cup with both hands, she sips her coffee with eyes closed, her breath slow and steady. In this perfect snippet of time, her utter trust in him is naked and he feels an ache on the left side of his chest just about where his heart is.

They have ten years, and they'll either save the world or go up in flames, and her words from last night echo in his mind, 'You're mine.'

No matter what happens, that's enough.

He clears his throat, and she opens her eyes.

"I have some thing to tell you."

"OK, shoot."

"Remember last night, what I said?"

She regards him thoughtfully, "We both said some things. I haven't changed my mind about anything..."

He cuts her off, "No, I haven't either...I never will. It's about getting messages, about how if we didn't know how to save ourselves..." Mulder's sure he's rambling now, his voice trails off. He wants to cut to the chase, but telling Scully he's a conduit to the spirit world is seeming more surreal by the second.

"Please, just tell me."

He leans in, "I can listen for messages because they're talking to me, Scully. The dead are not lost to us. They've been telling me things for a while."

She blinks once, twice, then swallows. "What kind of things?"

She gets the Cliff Notes version, but it's enough for her to understand that Krycek and X and the Gunmen have all had hand in keeping him alive.

"What do you think?" He looks her dead in the eye, expecting her to give him some rationale for all of it, some explanation. Post-traumatic stress. Hallucination resulting from sensory deprivation and torture.

He doesn't get what he expected.

"I think I need to tell you something. I still see Emily. Not often, but I see her, I talk to her." Eyes bright, she keeps meeting his gaze, goes for his hand, holds on tight. "Looks like we have something else in common."

That just about does him in. He feels his jaw drop open.

Her free hand goes to the side of his face, "We should get going. Go pay the nice lady."

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The mood has shifted from this morning and silence fills the car. It'll be a good three hours before they reach Alamosa. Scully's been studying the map for the last few minutes and Mulder wonders what she's really thinking, her expression is too serious for Rand McNally and the quickest route through Northern New Mexico. Glancing at her, he sees how tightly her features are drawn. He knows that look---she's working through something and she'll tell him when she's ready.

He wonders if it's Emily or William that preoccupies her, or something as banal as what bare-bones motel they'll be in tonight. He regrets silencing her when she tried to tell him about Seraphim and the first time her dead daughter appeared. There are no words to describe what he feels knowing she had to give up their son, knowing he couldn't stop it. It churns his gut enough to make him rupture the silence.

"I'm sorry you couldn't tell me about Emily before. I'm sorry I wasn't ready to believe..."

"You don't need to apologize Mulder. Not to me." She lays down the map, takes off her sunglasses and places them carefully on the dash. "There was so much I couldn't believe, wouldn't believe...We both denied what we just couldn't handle." She's guessing what he'll say next and she wants to stop him---tell him she doesn't blame him, she never did, and she doesn't blame herself anymore, either.

And there's something she needs to do, that they both need to do, but he starts talking before she can let him know, his voice raspy and deep.

"What about William, Scully? What about me not being there, for you or for him?"

"You're alive, and our son's safe. The two things I kept praying for came true." She slides close to him, and whispers, "I have what I need."

"I think ..."

"You think too much, Mulder." She takes his right hand from the steering wheel, presses it against her chest. There's another long patch of silence, but it's different, lighter somehow.

"I noticed something on the map I want to see. It should be a left up ahead." She lets go of his hand.

"Are you going tell me what, exactly, it is?" He takes his eyes off the road long enough to catch her slipping on her shades.

"I'm an outlaw, I don't have to explain anything."

"So, it's do what you say and keep my mouth shut, eh?"

"Now you're gettin' it."

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They've pulled off onto what under only the kindest circumstances could be called a side road. Clear stretch of dirt is more like it, and the car kicks up a huge amount of red-brown dust and sand. Scrub cactus and scraggly trees dot the route--here's a small sign--Ojo de Dios--5 miles. Scully checks the pocket of her jeans-- it's there, and she can do it soon. Mulder has to be with her and it has to be today, and Ojo de Dios is clearly divine intervention telling her where it should all go down.

She can see what looks like small observation deck made of stone slabs dead ahead. Just beyond that it looks like there's a drop off, a canyon maybe. An ancient mugo pine stands about fifty feet away from this makeshift platform, its giant arms casting the only shade for miles. Mulder pulls up close, throws the car into park and they sit in the silence.

He reaches for her hand, his thumb stroking her wrist, waiting for her, waiting for what's going to happen next.

This was her idea, so she starts to open the car door, "C'mon Mulder, there's something I need to do."

"Scully, you gonna let me in on why we're here?"

She takes off those wire rims, she wants to see everything in the full light of day. "I will, I promise... but let's take a look at Ojo de Dios first, " and with that, she's out the door and he's right behind her.

She's guessed correctly---it's a canyon, a sharp drop down, a couple of thousand feet down, sheer red rock walls. The sun burns bright, she can feel the sweat between her shoulder blades. A hot desert wind kicks up, blowing her hair back from her face, stirring the pale sand and red dirt under their feet. The two of them move to the edge of this sandstone perch and are stunned as they see what they came to see. Ojo de Dios is the entire canyon floor, just like the yarn talismans in the pueblos here--a giant web cut into rock by millennia, by the wind and waters of time.

Ojo de Dios is a well of souls.

Scully feels something surge inside her, something magnificent, as the image of the canyon floor washes over her. This is where God is, she thinks.

Mulder moves to stand behind her, his breath taken away by how huge the view and the knowledge she's his religion, his path, his doorway to knowing anything and everything transcendent.

He holds himself back, doesn't question her despite the need to know---the trust he saw on her face in the diner is the trust she needs from him now---he'll give it.

The wind keeps blowing and whirling all around them, Scully reaches into her pocket and pulls out a photo. It's William. It's the only thing she has left of him, and now it's time to let him go completely. She pulls it out of her pocket, holds it up so Mulder can see and whispers, "Goodbye, Sweetpea. I love you." She moves to toss it over the edge but Mulder's hand's shoots out, and he grabs one side of the picture.

"No, wait a minute, not like this. He was my son, too. We do this together." He comes around, stands at her side, never letting go of the precious image. She sees the tears streaming down, streaking the dust on his face. He holds up the other half for her to take like he's found the treasure inside a Thanksgiving turkey.

"Here," his voice cracking, "Pull, Scully."

The picture tears and he gets the larger half. She's crying now too. The tears flow, flow like a river, flow silent, flow free. She's not an outlaw at the moment, she's a mother standing in the middle of nowhere with the father of her son and they're releasing him to his life, to the future. It'll be their job to try and make it one worth living for.

"Make a wish Mulder...go ahead."

And they each start shredding their halves until they have a small pile of confetti in their hands.

"Ready?" He asks her and she nods. Mulder closes his eyes and makes ready.

There's a sharp uptake of air and they toss the tiny pieces up and out and away. The wind is merciful and scatters the miniscule scraps deep into the eye of God.

"What did you wish for?" She tries to staunch her tears, but they keep coming. She thinks she'll surrender and cry for a while; she's earned it.

"That we never see him again." He makes sure they face each other so he can look deep into her eyes, it strikes him they're the same blue as the sky. He smiles when she smiles. She understands what he meant---if they see him again it's because something's gone wrong, end-of-the-world wrong.

"What else?" She starts to wipe her tear stained face, but he stops her so he can finish the job himself. "What else did you wish for him?" Her voice is breathy, but not broken.

He's not crying anymore, "That he has an ordinary life, that he knows knows love...and finds someone to love..." Leaning in, he kisses her---tastes her tears, her sweetness, her strength.

He meant it to comfort her, to comfort both of them, but the feel of her full lips against his, the sough of her breath quickly turns comfort into something else. Even in the midst of this, he wants her---he urges her mouth open, almost surprised when it's so easy to do. He's kissing her hard now and clutching her head his his hands and they're breathing raggedly into each other. She's still crying, softly now, and her tongue's touching the flat of his teeth. He feels red heat in his chest, the sun in his belly and the burn of arousal's made him hard.

Suddenly, she pulls herself away, looks up at him, "Is this a mercy fuck?" She doesn't think so, but she wants to hear it, wants to know that they're both grabbing at the chance to turn sorrow into something else.

"I wasn't planning on showing you any mercy." He takes her hand and puts it on his crotch.

"Oh, Mulder..." Now she's stroking him and laughing and crying and coming undone so he can put her back together. "Only you can make me feel this crazy."

"Give me a couple of minutes, and you'll be feeling something else, I promise."

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He backs her away from the stone ledge, making his way to the shade and imaginary shelter of the pine tree. The only sounds they hear are the wind, their footfalls on rock, then soft shuffle in the dirt, softer still as they come to stand on a bed of pine needles.

Hands in her hair, his fingers press into her scalp and his mouth and tongue are devouring her---her lips, her neck, her shoulder---he can't get enough---he can't---even though she's grinding into him, grabbing handfuls of his T-shirt.

"We're stronger than all this," his breathes in her ear.

"Stronger," she answers.

He's pressing so close that no light passes between them, and now it's her turn to feast on him. She kisses him, kisses him over and over wherever her mouth finds skin--his jaw, face, neck. He's got her propped against the tree, and now she's chanting his name and and the sound of his name on her lips is undoing him and he answers her the only way he knows how. His hands push up her tank, and he presses his warm, open mouth over her heart, slides her down into the pile of soft needles.

Hovering over her, he leans back enough for her to pull off her shirt, then shudders as she does the same to him. Making circles within circles---like time, like forever, he strokes her breasts under the fabric of the bra, he takes her nipples between his thumb and forefinger and teases them softy, slowly. Scully's eyelids flutter, but she makes herself keep watching, she wants to remember everything, wants to see a brave new world in the green of his eyes.

He's starting to feel giddy, but he can't laugh, it's not like that. He's high, he's thrumming, the blood's pounding his his ears, his whole body's pulsing, and his cock is rock-solid against her thigh. Leaning in, he takes one hand away to undo the front clasp of her bra and starts licking her, the same circles, but wet, so wet. Taking the slowest path, he feels her tremble, and when he closes his lips around a nipple, her hands fly to the back of his head, holding him in place. But he won't be held, he moves back and forth, each breast, each nipple licked and kissed until he hears her plead, "I need to touch you."

He rears back again and she rises, and softly bites her way across his chest, steadying herself by holding on to his arms. She tests a nipple, suckles it, and he starts breathing hard. Taking the tip of her tongue, Scully begins a torturous path down the plane of his stomach, moving her hands to latch around his hipbones.

Mulder fumbles his zipper open and she takes her hand, pushes down his jeans and takes him into her mouth in a hot, sweet plunge. He's all at once stiff and smooth and the head of his cock feels satiny under the swirl of her ready mouth. She tastes salt and bitter drops, and he starts to slow his pace, trying to tame his advance and retreat.

He knows he close, she knows it more.

She's getting wetter by the minute, aching for his mouth on her clit, the way he feasts on her, feathery sweeps of lips and tongue and kisses on slick wet folds, the way he drinks her, savors her. All of a sudden, he stops her, eases slowly away, and whispers, "I want to make you come...I want to crawl inside you."

Easing her back onto soft brown needles, they undo her jeans together, slide them down---breathless, nerves sparking. He can smell pine resin, and desert air and the honey of her want for him. Mulder parts her legs and lowers himself to her, breathes her in, takes his hand sweeps through her auburn hair and tongues her tight clit, tiny, tiny strokes until she twists underneath him, until he feels her legs start to quiver. She wavers, and it's happening, the hot spinning and spiraling and it's the pleasure and pain of worlds beginning and ending, and he's set a pulsar in motion and there's no stopping it.

Wrangling up, he gets ready to enter her and her hand comes and guides him, easing the head of his cock in, then inch by inch until he's all hers, he's crawled inside her, just like he said, just like he wanted.

And there she is--tight around him, her pale skin blushing and hot to the touch, her mouth's moving; she's telling him she loves him, loves him now, loves him always. He feels too much---it's too much, it's never enough, every pore in his body, every inch of skin is alive. She makes him this alive, the slick taste of her, the cool burn of her body, her promises in daylight and in the dark. Closing and opening all around him, the tight pull of her is indescribable, the only home he's ever really known.

Mulder cries out---her name, his love, all of it, and shudders the rest into the haven of her body.

Long minutes pass, and they both move from the place they've made back into the world. Her hands hover lightly over his back, tracing a path with her fingertips. They're sweaty and sated, but it's time to go, time to find the road, find the place, find the answers. They're still joined, and Scully moans a little when he eases out, but she takes his hand and they help each other stand.

She is touched beyond words as he helps her dress---slowly, tenderly. He kisses her belly as he slides her tank back into place. She helps him with his shirt, brushes back the hair from his eyes. They shake off pine needles, and Scully finger combs her hair, but she still looks mussed. Mulder drags his fingers down her cheek; his touch tells her she looks fine.

Scanning the view as they make ready to leave, something at the horizon's edge draws their attention. Black clouds stacked one on top of the other, rolling toward them, shrinking the hot, blue sky.

Scully's the first to speak, "Storm's moving in, we better hurry."

She's not just talking about the weather, he knows it. "We're not gonna get caught, Scully."

"There's a lot of 'em, how can you be so sure?"

"What little faith you have...Don't forget, I've got a secret weapon."

"And just what would that be?"

"You, Scully. I've got you."

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Back in the car, she is quiet and the radio has nothing to offer so close to the state border. He settles for listening to her breathe and watching the yellow center line unroll before them. She looks at him
occasionally, but her aviators prevent him from reading her eyes. He's sure she is still listing her wishes for William. He suspects she'll never be done with that list. He knows he won't.

He can smell the lingering evidence of their desert union in the dry heat. It was a celebration, he knows, of the life they created and lost, and of the life they are building in its stead.

Finally, she lowers her shades and gives him a once over. He can't help smiling at the predatory look in her eyes.

"How'd you ever get to be a Fed, outlaw?"

He grins at her. "I slept my way to the top."

She laughs, shaking her head, and she is almost too beautiful to look at. He can't remember a time when she looked more relaxed, more peaceful. His own peace of mind strikes him as an anomaly; it's hard to believe they just said good-bye to their baby. He wonders about fate, how it always comes down to the two of them, but his instincts prevail and he opts for acceptance of what is: this road, this moment, and Scully at his side.

"You look good," he tells her.

"It's afterglow, Mulder."

And it is.

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"We met on a singles cruise."

"Absolutely not."

"At a bar."

"At least make it the grocery store," she protests.

"I was the leader at your Overeaters Anonymous group."

She slides the glasses down the bridge of her nose, gives him a look.

"We met running in the park. We crashed into each other during a thick fog."

She looked at him, a slight smile tilting her mouth. "Okay. David and Delia met in the park."

He rubs her thigh, steering the Jeep into a parking spot with his other hand.

"Be careful," he cautions.

"I'll be fine." She starts to open the door, but he pulls her back by the wrist, stealing a kiss.

"Hurry."

She smiles, hopping out of the car with a wave. The storage locker key hangs around her neck on a chain, and the Colorado sun glints off its face, more brilliant than her cross. She looks strange to him, clad in denim and leather boots. She is transformed, hair blowing easily in the wind and all the care shed from her confident stride. He realizes her hair is going to prove problematic if they're going to blend in. She disappears into the building and he slumps low in the driver's seat, scanning the sidewalk.

She takes long enough to make his heart race and his back break out in a cold sweat. He has one hand on the handle, ready to follow her in when she pushes her way through the revolving door. She doesn't make eye contact, looking casually up and down the street as if she had forgotten where she parked. He is awed by her ease in this new role of criminal.

She climbs into the Jeep, toting a locked suitcase and tossing a small manilla envelope at him. He doesn't check its contents; the Gunmen never failed them before.

"There's a post office across the street, wanna look for our pictures?" she smirks.

"Maybe tomorrow."

"Then just take me somewhere with a shower."

"You got it."

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The motel is large and clean. One of a large, national chain. The desk clerks are infinitely more bored, and less observant than the nosy small-towners that staff the places they used to stay. Scully checks in alone, signing Delia Connor's name with slow precision. She takes the key to room 249 and heads back outside where Mulder is waiting in the Jeep.

He parks the car near their room and together they carry their meager belongings upstairs. She stretches out on her stomach along the foot of the bed while he searches the envelope left by their friends for the key to the accompanying suitcase. When he finally opens the lock, she perks up to look at the
contents. A pile of cash, a laptop, a disk, a small medical bag, some travelers' checks, and ATM cards that match the IDs in the envelope. He takes the laptop, disk and the bag, setting them carefully on the floor next to the bed.

"Hey Scully, wanna play Indecent Proposal?" he holds up the suitcase as if to spill the cash across the mattress.

"Mmm, later." She is getting ready to doze. Suddenly, she opens her eyes. "Mulder, what do we do now? Where are we going from here?"

He shrugs. "You know me, I love to play a hunch...."

She nods, knowing that now he means the spirit kind. "So, for now it's just you and me and Colorado?"

"We can stay here for a while, see what the guys left for us in the way of a hook up." He shrugs again, and she realizes that for once, he doesn't have a plan. It's terrifying and exhilarating.

"I don't think we can stay in this motel forever." She observes the obvious, as he sometimes needs her to do.

"I know." He sits on the bed near her hips and with one hand strokes absently at her waist, while reaching down to pick up something on the floor with the other. "Let's see if there's anyone in the area."

Firing up the laptop, He carefully inserts the disk and much to his relief, there are contacts scattered throughout the region; one about 60 miles from here.

"We have a winner. Looks like we'll be visiting the hamlet of Hard Line and hooking up with one J. Montoya. The boys didn't let us down. They know--knew more government watchdogs than the FBI."

She notices his careful switch to past-tense. He is still adjusting. He seems lost in thought, and she waits for him to come around. "For now, we've got enough cash to stay anonymous wherever we go...I think we might hole up for awhile around here..."

His faraway look fades as he turns his focus back to her. "But we're gonna have to do something about this." He picks up a lock of her hair, admiring the burnished glint.

She doesn't answer, knowing he is right, resigned to the next step.

He puts everything away and crawls in bed next to her, pulling her close. She rolls onto her side letting him think, while her lids grow heavy. She is exhausted, and his gentle caresses are lulling her toward sleep.

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She wakes, later, and the room is dim. Only the light from the bathroom interrupts the black of the room. She stretches, looking for Mulder. When she rolls over, something crinkles beneath her. She finds a piece of paper, and carries it into the glow near the bathroom door to read.

"Outlaw,

Went for provisions. Intend to lick you clean if you have not showered when I return.

M"

She smiles, recognizing the note for the love letter it is, and decides to shower, hoping to still receive an alternative bathing later.

Her jeans peal off like a second skin and she leaves them in a heap on the floor. The rest of her clothing serves as a breadcrumb trail for Mulder to follow when he gets back; she intends to stay under the spray until then.

The shower is hot with strong water pressure and the complimentary shampoo doesn't smell half-bad. She hunches her shoulders into the spray, letting it pummel her tight muscles. Her mind is pleasantly empty, and she starts humming tunelessly to herself.

By the time the shower door slides open, she has already sensed his return. "Come in or close the door, you're letting all the steam out."

He steps in, gasping at the high temperature. "Scully, have you ever considered that you might be taller if you didn't take such hot showers?"

"I'm not a wool sweater, Mulder," she replies with an easy grin.

He pulls her close, absorbing her heat and smelling her clean hair. "I missed you."

"You were only gone half and hour," she marks his breastbone with kisses.

"I meant before. When I was gone...when I was in that cell."

"You have no idea how much I wanted you home." She likes saying what she feels to him. It's been a long time coming.

"I got you something while I was out."

"Yeah?" She doesn't let him answer right away, busying his lips with her own.

"Mmmhmm." He hums against her mouth.

"Is it something to eat?" she gives him an impish smile.

"I got that, too." He slides his fingers down her back, and gives her bottom an affectionate squeeze.

"I'm intrigued," she says. "Let's get out."

"But you're naked," he protests.

"I'll be naked again," she vows. "After I eat."

"Promise?"

"Promise."

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They dry each other with one towel, wrestling for control of it and grinning. Mulder steals it from her grasp and drapes it over her head, scrubbing her hair dry while she laughs and grabs his hips for balance. Finally, he slips it back, framing her face like a nun.

"I love you," he whispers, kissing her.

She wraps her arms around him. "I love you, too."

"Then come with me."

"Where?"

"Come on." He takes her hand and discards the towel on the floor. She follows him, looking only a little suspicious.

When he opens the door, a faint, flickering light greets her. He leads her further and she sees that he has scattered a few candles around the room. He has laid out her creamcolored robe on the bed, and now he picks it
up, swinging it around her shoulders.

He steps into a pair of silk boxer shorts, smiling at her. She had packed all the clothing he had left at her apartment almost a year ago, and these burgundy boxers had been among them. She had hesitated over them, briefly, wondering if life on the run dictated such frivolity, but she had to let him know how much she had longed for him all this time.

He gestures to the small table in the corner, and she takes a seat before the proffered feast. He has cheeseburgers and fries laid out on their wrappers. She has a secret love of fast food burgers, one that he's intuited over the years, but she's rarely allowed herself the treat. Now, however, she reasons that the criminal life is one that includes a daily diet of rare treats.

Beside her inexpensive dinner sits a plastic cup filled with red wine. The label on the nearby bottle reveals a serious dichotomy of price between food and drink. She licks her lips, looking up at Mulder's expectant face. He is trying to romance her, and succeeding beyond his wildest hopes.

"To us," she toasts, lifting her cup.

"Always," he agrees, tapping his cup against hers.

They eat in silence, reaching across the table to touch one another often. Beneath the table, their feet mimic their hands, teasing and caressing. When her cup is empty, he pours more wine, and she stretches her foot across to his chair insinuating her toes between his thighs. He gives her a look of mock scolding and she bites her lower lip at him.

When the last fry is gone, he takes her hand again and pulls her to her feet.

"So what's this surprise, Mulder?"

He doesn't answer, pulling her toward the dresser. His jeans are lying on top of the dresser, he digs in the pocket, emerging with something closed in his fist. They are standing together in front of the long mirror that hangs above the drawers, and he tilts her chin up to kiss her.

She responds immediately, desire fed by their makeshift romantic dinner and a glass of wine. She stands on her toes and tries to drape her arms around his neck, but he stops her. They never stop kissing while he traces the length of her arms and takes her hands. He lifts her left hand to rest on his chest and then she feels him fumbling with her fingers. When the ring sinks home on her third finger, she realizes that Mulder's offering of burgers and wine was their outlaw wedding banquet.

She breaks away from the kiss and looks at her newly adorned hand. The ring is a simple gold band, absent of ornamentation.

"You. Are. Mine," Mulder vows, holding her hand to his lips and offering a kiss with each word. She spies a similar gold band on his left hand.

"Yes," she says solemnly, pulling his ringed hand against her lips.

He pulls his hand away, captures her lips, seals their promise.

When she is certain that she has forgotten how to breathe, he breaks the kiss to turn his attention to the rest of her face. She rests her fingertips against his cheeks, escorting his lips to the soft hollow below her ear. He sinks his teeth into that sensitive spot and her knees turn weak. He is instantly ready to clasp her to his long frame, supporting her. The heat from his skin burns through her thin robe, and seems to penetrate into her heart.

There is nothing but freedom in their
commitment, so she unties her robe and lets it drop at their feet. He has all of her to touch, to taste. She would deny him nothing. And so he lays her back on the bed and brushes her eyes shut with gentle fingers.

She is blind to his slow appraisal of her body. The sight of her is familiar, he has had his perfect memory to keep him company for the long months without her. The scent and feel of her, however, has been missing from his fantasies for a long time. She is
intoxicating. He uses her temporary blindness to surprise her with kisses in all her favorite places.

The inside of her elbow.

The lower border of her ribs.

The thrumming spot where her pulse beats at the joining of her hip and her pelvis.

The hollow of her ankle.

"Love you, Scully," he whispers as he revels in the scent of her cleavage.

"It's Mulder now, too," she whispers back, eyes still shut.

He stills, breathing raggedly. She lifts her head, opening her eyes. His eyes are dilated and his mouth hangs slightly open. She licks her lips slowly, amazed by the power she seems to have over him.

"Yes," she says quietly.

He blinks slowly. "Yes."

She pulls him down, savoring his weight.

"Scully," he sighs into her hair. She knows it is a term of endearment. His private version of 'darling,' or 'baby.' She has a new name now. A new name beyond all the other new names that he will call her while they run.

"You feel so good," he murmurs, touching her everywhere he can reach.

"Make me feel even better," she says,
squeezing his hips with her thighs.

He can't deny her anything either, so he obeys and then they are joined, breath stolen by pleasure.

Scully sighs and hums with renewed passion each time he thrusts to the hilt. She remembers everything he likes and tilts her hips up, linking her ankles around his waist. He groans happily, panting in her ear.

"Love you," he gasps.

"Love you," she answers, combing her fingers though his hair. Her new ring grazes his ear, and suddenly she has to see his. She wrests his hand out from under him, nearly toppling him, but he shifts his weight in time, balancing on one arm. She pulls his hand to her face, placing a wet kiss in his palm, before covering it with her left hand. Their rings glitter in the candlelight.

"Mine," she mouths silently, staring into his eyes.

"Mine," he imitates her, pulling his hand free to cup the nape of her neck. He brings her close for a kiss that nearly stops her heart.

She whimpers into his mouth and he makes a growling sound in his throat. One of her legs falls slack as her body becomes distracted with impending release. "Now," she groans. "Now, Mulder."

He changes his rhythm just slightly and suddenly they are both over the edge. She grips his shoulders hard enough to leave welts, but he doesn't notice.

They collapse in a heap of limbs and sweating skin, temporarily sated. She knows there is not enough time and energy in this world to show him her love, but she will keep trying like this. She's never given up on anything when it comes to him.

With a shuddering sigh, he slumps to one side, knowing she can't breathe well beneath him. "You okay?" he asks.

"I'm perfect," she hums.

"I've been saying that for years."

She smiles, too worn out to laugh. "Mulder, where did you get the rings?"

He opens one eye. He knew her curiosity would bring this question eventually. "A pawn shop."

"When?"

"About an hour ago."

"Here?"

"It was time."

"What?" She turns her head to give him a look of confusion.

"Missy came to me, Scully..."

A sharp gasp is her only reply.

"She said you always had to do everything the hard way, and that I needed to stop dragging my feet.

"You saw Melissa?"

"She was beautiful, Scully. Just like you." He kisses the tears on her cheeks, but he can see she is smiling. There is no sign of disbelief in her face. No evidence of the aching grief that usually accompanies mention of Melissa Scully.

"It's a perfect fit, Mulder. How?"

"I paid extra to have mine sized. I didn't know your size, but Melissa said it would fit. I guess she was right."

"She would like that."

"What?"

"Being right."

He laughs. "Must run in the family."

"Watch yourself, Mister. You're in bed with a known criminal."

"I'll take my chances."

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