He finds himself at her door, hair matted to his forehead with heavy rain, coat sagging on his shoulders. She answers in her robe, tired eyes speaking volumes, only mildly surprised at his presence.
“Mulder? I saw you on the news last night…did you just get back?”
“Come in,” she says, stepping aside, and his footsteps feel as heavy as his heart. He bypasses her without speaking, heading for Will’s room.
The door creaks slightly, but the boy doesn’t stir. He’s sleeping, long limbs splayed out across the bed, blankets tangled around his waist. He’s grown; tall for five, always stretching the limits of his clothes. In sleep, his face is slack, soft and young, a trace of babyhood fading fast.
He doesn’t know how long he stands at Will’s bedside, watching him breathe, before Scully touches his wrist.
“Mulder,” she whispers.
He doesn’t answer, mesmerized by the rise and fall of their son’s chest. Eventually she leads him out of the room, closing the door. He stands, still dripping, in the hall. She seems to know what to do. His jacket slides off easily, but his shirt is soaked through.
“I walked,” he mumbles, as she loosens his tie, begins undoing the buttons.
“I can see that,” she says, not asking why, or from where. “Stay here, I’ll get you a towel.”
She does, grabbing a pair of his sweatpants and a t-shirt, too. He changes into the dry clothes, listens to the sounds of her footsteps in the kitchen, the bedroom, and back as he runs over the details in his mind for the hundredth time.
When the bodies turned up in the Florida Glades, he and Doggett were called in to profile the killer whose appetite preferred little boys.
Since then, he’d told six families that their children were never coming back. He can still remember their expressions, their grief raw and festering like open wounds, how it poured over him and soaked in like the rain.
Weeks of leads and interviews followed, sweltering in the oppressive humidity as the pieces came together, until he could no longer tell his thoughts from the killer’s. It had been years since he’d let a case absorb him so completely; fueled by little more than coffee and the weight of his responsibilities, he withdrew into a darkness so deep that even Scully’s name flashing anxiously on his phone wasn’t enough to bring him back to the light.
Until finally, it was over.
The last victim was three years old, the youngest yet, taken from the ten-by-five patch of grass behind his parents’ trailer, left for dead in a culvert behind the mall. It was a sloppy kill made in haste, unplanned, the one that broke the case, but it didn’t feel like a victory.
“I needed to see him,” he says, coming out of his reverie.
She sits beside him, concern written in her features. “You don’t usually have such a hard time getting out of someone’s head.”
His mouth feels cotton-like, his tongue thick. “This one hit a little close to home.”
“How is Doggett?”
Mulder ducks his head. “Doesn’t want to talk about it. I don’t blame him. He’s lived it.”
“So have you.”
“Not like this, Scully,” he whispers, drawing his hand over his face. “With Sam…it’s not the same. They were so young. They didn’t know what was coming. I don’t know if that makes it worse…”
She murmurs an assent as her hand finds his.
“We’ve seen the same things, Scully,” he whispers finally. “How do you do it?”
She takes a breath, looks toward Will’s room. “You push it down. You put it away…you wake up and make breakfast and…you just do it. For him.”
“What happens if you can’t?”
She looks at him sadly. “You don’t have that choice.”
He closes his eyes. He barely feels her hand on his back, her other hand at the back of his neck, drawing him closer until his face is buried in her hair, doesn’t realize he’s crying until a sob rips itself from his throat.
He curls his body around hers, intending to sleep, exhaustion pulling him under, only to resurface with a gasp. He counts his breaths, thinks of his hands around William’s throat, the darkness that followed him into his dreams.
“Shh,” Scully’s voice is in his ear, her fingers stroking his back. The way she touches him, as though he might break under the lightest pressure, is enough to stir something in him. Anger at the surface, with hunger and longing beneath.
He captures her mouth with his, no warnings given as his tongue probes at her lips, her teeth, her tongue. His hands find her hips, gripping them, turning her until her back is pressed to his chest, a coil of pleasure snaking through his belly as his growing erection presses against the curve of her ass.
He resumes his work on her neck, tasting and biting his way to the shell of her ear, eliciting a gasp as he suckles at the lobe, then traces his way down to the hollow of her throat.
“Mulder,” she murmurs, half question, half request, and he curves his body over hers to claim her lips again, hands working their way down to cup her left breast under her shirt, rolling the nipple between his fingers. Her t-shirt rides up, exposing the soft skin of her stomach, the gentle swell of her breasts. He wants to lose himself there, in the space just under her heart.
She’s panting when he finally releases her mouth, intent on the drawstring at the front of her pants, sliding beneath the elastic to find her warm and wet at the center. Now it’s his turn to moan as one finger slips lightly along the juncture at her thighs, teasing, testing.
Her leg comes around his hips, pushing her body forward to meet his touch, rubbing against his erection until he can’t focus, his ministrations between her legs becoming erratic.
“You,” he growls when he can finally speak, pushing two fingers inside. She gasps, stilling under the sudden onslaught, the pressure around his fingers sweet and fluttering. “Need you.”
“I know,” she soothes, tipping her head up to kiss him again, long and deep and loving, and this is all the invitation he needs. He tugs at her sweats, yanking them as far as her knees, before working on his own, suddenly desperate to connect, to ground himself inside her, the only one who can bring him home.
He eases inside, only allowing himself the briefest pleasure before reaching around to cup her mons, touching the slick spot where they’re joined, drawing his fingers back and up to make gentle circles around her quivering bud, reveling in the hiss of breath between her teeth and the pulse of her heat around him.
You, he thinks. You, you, you. His hips thrust a shallow, aching rhythm in time with his fingers, until they’re both openly panting, her hand cupping the back of his neck, breasts swaying with each thrust.
“Please,” she whimpers, pressing her back against him until he’s as deep as possible, and he rocks his hips up in swift, jerky movements, two fingers slipping back and forth across her clit until she arches against him, her walls pulsing and fluttering as she stifles a cry.
He lets her come down, the tension slowly easing from her body until she’s supple and yielding against him. He loses himself in the scent of her skin and the warmth of her breath on his cheek, ignoring the throbbing ache in his groin.
“Mm,” she says, tipping her head up to look at him, but he can’t open his eyes. She shifts against him and his hips give an involuntary jerk, eliciting a muffled moan from his lips.
She shifts again, this time intentionally bringing them together. “Mulder…look at me.”
He grunts, burying his face in her shoulder as the pleasure threatens to take hold, as her hips work against him, her hand reaching between them, and he opens his eyes to the sight of her touching herself, and the feeling of her fingers dancing around the base of his cock, stroking, stroking, until he’s shuddering.
“Look at me,” she says, her voice thick with lust, and he meets her eyes, his breathing now ragged. “Come. Come back to me,” she whispers, and he does.
He blinks awake with enough warning before a sprawling weight lands on his chest, limbs and tousled hair clad in spaceman pajamas.
“Oof. Hey, buddy,” he mutters, wiping the sleep from his eyes.
“You’re back! Didja get me anything?”
“William!” Scully mumbles a warning from the other side of the bed. “That’s rude.”
“Sorry,” the boy grins sheepishly. “I missed you!”
“I missed you too, kid,” Mulder says, as Will wraps his arms around his neck and squeezes.
“You were gone a long time.”
“Yeah…your mom told you I had to work.”
Will nods solemnly. “She said you caught the bad guy, but it’s not the same as Superman, because Superman is imaginary, and you’re a real FBI agent.”
“Hey, can we go to the park today? Can you show me how to shoot a three-pointer at basketball like we did the last time? And do that thing where you put me on your shoulders so I can slam dunk?”
Will can barely contain himself, wriggling about as he fires off questions.
He opens his mouth to protest, but finds himself smiling instead. “Sure. Get dressed and we’ll go to the park.”
“Yay! Can we get pancakes after? With blueberry syrup?”
“Yeah, sure. Pancakes it is.”
Will races off, his voice carrying down the hall.
Scully leans over, her fingers grazing the soft hairs at the center of his chest as she kisses him.
“Good morning,” she whispers. “You OK?”
“I don’t know yet,” he murmurs, looking toward the door where they can hear Will running around in his room. “But…it’s like you said. I have to be, so I will be. For him.”