Title: Cockeyed Optimist
Summary: Lately, the good days seemed to come with more frequency
Author's notes: This is the fourteenth story in a series that uses the wonderful lyrics of Rodgers and Hammerstein to set a tone.
More importantly, this story is set in a universe created in a previous story I wrote entitled Debrouiller. Several people wrote to me to ask that I continue the story with hopefully a little less angst. While it is not necessary that you read Debrouiller before delving into this story, it may help to make things a little more clear. You can find that story and all of my other stories at:
When the sky is a bright canary yellow
I have heard people rant and rave and bellow
I hear the human race is falling on its face
I could say life is just a bowl of Jell-o
Rodgers and Hammerstein - South Pacific
Scully carried William up the stairs and into his nursery. They had been living in the house for a little over a week and William's was the only room that was completely in order. She eased the sleeping baby into his crib and tucked a blanket snugly around his sturdy little body. William smacked his lips and flung his arms out to his sides. His chubby legs jerked against the crib mattress and he kicked the blanket aside.
"Just like your father," she whispered, thinking gratefully of the brand new king-sized bed in the master bedroom. Coordinating the delivery of the new bedroom furniture on the same day as the move into the house had been a feat of perseverance and good, old- fashioned bribery. Scully shook her head in exasperation and once again tucked the blanket around her sleeping son, knowing full well that it would be kicked aside before she closed the door behind her. Well versed in William's sleeping habits, Scully had tugged a tiny, long-sleeved T-shirt over her son's head before slipping him into fleecy pajamas.
The wind kicked up, rattling the window in its frame. Scully walked over to the window and pushed the curtain aside to peer out into the darkness. The glass rattled lightly again and she watched a torrent of leaves swirl and dance in the wind as they tore free of the branches of the old maple tree in the yard. She laid one hand against the chilled pane of glass, always peripherally aware of the alarm system installed by William's self- proclaimed fairy godfathers.
Winter is almost here, she thought idly.
Scully pushed away from the window and looked around the nursery, heaving a satisfied sigh. She and Mulder had spent the first two days after moving into the house, putting this room to rights. The walls were painted a soft, soothing blue. A cheerful paper border in a baseball motif lined the walls near the ceiling - Mulder's contribution, of course. A sturdy, comfortable rocker sat in the corner near the crib. White washed shelves covered with stuffed bunnies and bears hung from the walls. A small bookcase held a portable CD player and a stack of lullabies on compact disk. A collection of soft-sided books rested on the shelf below the CD player, perfect for a baby's grasping hands and inquisitive mouth. A miniature basketball hoop and ball were tucked into another corner of the room. The room - warm and cheerful and safe - sheltered a tiny baby and waited for the day when a little boy's running feet would pound across its floors. God willing, it would bear witness to William's journey toward manhood.
She could hear Mulder moving around in the kitchen and she reflected back on the day just passed. It had been a good day, she thought. A good couple of weeks. Lately, the good days seemed to come with more frequency, she realized. She was slowly but surely climbing out of the fog and despair that had marked the first few months of her life as a new mother. Here in this home, living with the two people who made up her entire world, Scully found herself waking up each day to a renewed sense of optimism.
Scully snapped on the night-light and eased the nursery door closed behind her. Ignoring the unpacked boxes stacked in the spare bedroom as she walked along the hall, she hurried down the stairs and into the kitchen.
"Is he asleep?" Mulder ran a damp sponge over the countertop and looked up at her questioningly. Scully nodded and snatched up the dishtowel that was draped over his shoulder.
"He's down for the count." She lifted the heavy turkey platter out of the dish drainer and began to wipe it dry.
"Well, he's got a belly full of pureed sweet potatoes and carrots." Mulder wrinkled his nose at the memory of the food Scully had mashed up and fed to William - and of the way it had ended up smeared all over the baby's face and hands.
"It's not easy to eat Thanksgiving dinner when you only have two teeth," Scully said mildly. "And he seemed to like it." She knelt onto the tiled floor of the kitchen to slide the platter into one of the lower cabinets. As she climbed back to her feet, Mulder sidled up behind her, trapping her between his body and the counter.
"Dinner was great," he whispered as he feathered his lips over her neck. Scully shivered as his warm breath washed over her sensitive skin. She turned and linked her arms around his neck. Her eyes fluttered closed as his teeth lightly sank into the tender skin below her ear.
"Hey, Scully," Mulder murmured as he trailed his lips around the rim of her ear, sending another shudder through her body. "You grew up in an all-American family, right?" She tilted her head to the side, exposing her neck and collarbone to his exploring lips.
"Umm... yeah," she hummed as he scraped his teeth along her jaw line. "I guess so. Why?" She tightened her arms around his neck and sagged against the cabinets behind her, welcoming Mulder's weight as he leaned more heavily against her.
"I was just wondering..." His tongue darted out to tease the corner of her lips. "... if your family ever played the 'I'm Thankful For' game." Scully turned her head, blindly searching for and finding his mouth with her own. Their lips met and clung in a moistly chaste kiss.
"What game?" she asked, as they broke apart. She rubbed her face against his, enjoying the rasp of his roughened skin against her own smooth cheeks.
"Why don't I just teach you?" He banded his arms tightly around her. "For instance... I'm thankful that we decided to stay home - just the three of us - and enjoy Thanksgiving as a family."
Scully smiled. It had been a near perfect day. The televised parade had given way in the afternoon to football. As the fragrant smells of roasting turkey and sweet potatoes filled the air, Mulder had tussled gently with William on the carpeted floor of the family room and Scully had reveled in the sounds of his sweet baby giggles.
"I'm also grateful that our little boy is sound asleep in his bed, sated from his very first Thanksgiving dinner." Mulder's lips cruised over her temples in a series of soft kisses and Scully had to admit that at that very moment, she too was extremely grateful that William had so easily succumbed to sleep.
Mulder continued the game. He reached down and gathered the hem of Scully's skirt between his fingers, pushing the soft material up her legs, bunching it around her waist.
"I'm so thankful that you're not wearing pantyhose." His big hands slid over the backs of her thighs, tracing random patterns on her smooth skin. Scully gasped and buried her face in the hollow of his throat when he slipped one teasing finger under the edge of her panties, brushing against her rapidly heating flesh before darting quickly away again.
Mulder lifted his hands away from her thighs and her skirt fell back into place, the material slithering against her over-sensitized skin. Scully watched through hooded eyes as he swiftly unfastened the buttons of her shirt and slid his hands into the opened edges. His fingers cupped her breasts, his thumbs brushing over the nipples hidden behind the lacy fabric of her bra before he deftly flicked open the front clasp and brushed the material aside. Her breasts spilled into his waiting hands.
"I'm eternally grateful that William has been weaned and that these belong to me again." He boosted her onto the edge of the counter and lowered his head to take the tip of one aching breast between his lips. Scully had the dim thought that she should take exception to Mulder's choice of words, but she knew she was similarly possessive of his body. She moaned and raked her fingers through his hair, clutching him tightly in her arms and urging him on with pleasured sighs and the broken sound of his name slipping from her lips.
Mulder's tongue scraped wetly over the slope of her breast. His lips parted again and his mouth drew on her nipple with a gentle suction sending a frisson of pleasure through her entire body. Scully's efforts to wrap her legs around his lean hips were hampered by her long skirt. Frustrated, she pressed her hands against his shoulders, forcing him to take a step back.
Mulder moaned as her breast slipped from his mouth. He glanced up at Scully and she swallowed convulsively at the hungry look he directed toward her. She reached out to push a lock of hair off his forehead and he captured her hand in his own. He lowered his head and his tongue lapped at the pulse throbbing in her delicate wrist as he again crowded her against the countertop.
His head ducked down to steal another kiss and Scully planted one hand in the center of his chest, stopping his downward movement. She clasped his fingers in her small, strong hands and began to pull him out of the kitchen with long, determined strides. Mulder considered lodging a protest but when he saw her heading for the staircase, he quickened his own pace.
At the top of the steps, they crept quietly down the hallway, careful not to awaken William who was slumbering peacefully in his crib. They hurried to their room and Scully fell onto the bed, scrambling back until she was kneeling in the center of the king- sized mattress that they had yet to christen.
Mulder had taken time away from his work at the Center for Paranormal Studies and Research when they had moved, but had returned to the think tank a couple of days later. Scully spent her days taking care of William, finding her way around the new neighborhood and unpacking. By the time Mulder came home from work and William was put into his crib each night, they were both too exhausted to even consider making love.
But tonight Scully felt energized. She wanted Mulder with an intensity that she hadn't felt since before his ill-fated trip to Oregon more than a year ago. During those few months when they had moved their relationship from friends and partners to lovers, she had been consumed with an almost uncontrollable curiosity about him... a need to learn everything that she didn't already know about him. They had connected on a level she had never known existed. When they had been torn apart she had felt the loss of him in her heart, mind, body and soul. Then he had been returned to her and he had struggled with his separation from the X-Files and subsequently the seeming loss of his identity while she had labored to safely carry their child to term. Despite their joy at being reunited they had been out of sync with one another and every day since then, they had fought to find that once effortless rhythm.
Now, she held her hands out, silently asking that he join her in their bed. Mulder crawled across the wide mattress until he was kneeling in front of her. Scully trailed her fingers over the curve of his cheek, urging his mouth closer to hers.
"I love you," she whispered, causing his lips to curve into a happy smile. "And I'm thankful that you have the day off tomorrow." Scully gripped the front of his softly faded denim shirt in her hands and gave it a quick jerk. Mulder's smile widened as she fell into the game with him.
"I'm thankful that your shirt has snaps and not buttons." The sharp, popping sound of the snaps giving way under her tugging hands punctuated her words. Mulder's head tipped back onto his shoulders when she pulled the shirt away from his body. The smile slid from his lips and his heart began to pound when she pressed her lips against his breastbone in an open- mouthed kiss.
"I'm grateful for every beat of your heart." He tangled his fingers into her hair, holding her close, reveling in every touch of her lips against his skin. Her mood had quickly changed from playfully teasing to deeply emotional and Mulder basked in her loving affection.
Scully sat back on her heels and skimmed her shirt and bra down her arms, tossing the garments toward the foot of the bed. She rose back to her knees and wrapped her arms around his waist. Twin murmurs of pleasure escaped their lips as her soft breasts were crushed against the hard planes of his chest.
Their hands were in constant motion now and every time they touched it was as if they were relearning each other all over again. Scully's fingers glided up the length of Mulder's spine and she remembered the first time she had the freedom to trace a line over the silken skin of his back. Mulder's hands feathered over her ribcage to cup the sides of her breasts. His fingers followed the network of fine blue veins running beneath her pale skin in a pattern he had long ago memorized.
"I'm so grateful that I'm not alone this Thanksgiving... that you came back to me..." Her words were whispered into the sinewy muscles of his shoulder. "So grateful for the beautiful baby you gave to me." He covered her lips with his, his tongue gliding past the barrier of her teeth. Scully hollowed her cheeks, pulling his tongue deep into the wet recesses of her mouth, trapping him within her as she ground her hips against him.
They pulled apart, gasping for breath. "I'm thankful," she told him. "So very, very thankful." Scully's fingers skillfully popped open the buttons on the fly of Mulder's jeans and she slid her hand under the soft cotton of his briefs. Her fingers played over the velvety tip of his erection, gathering up the silky beads of liquid that she found.
Mulder groaned, his head dropping onto her shoulder as more blood rushed from his brain to his already painfully hard penis, leaving him dizzy with anticipation. He reached behind her back to unzip her skirt, pushing it and her panties down her legs. Scully wriggled awkwardly out of her clothes and lay back onto the mattress. Her beautiful auburn hair was spilled across his pillow, Mulder noted with an oddly possessive thrill.
Her hands rested on her midriff, hiding the soft swell of her belly. A legacy left behind from her pregnancy that no amount of stomach crunches would ever return to its former muscled glory, it was one of Mulder's favorite places on her body. Like her longer hair it spoke of womanly softness. His eyes traced over her fingers, devoid of jewelry. He wanted to change that... wanted to wrap her finger in gold and diamonds... wanted to mark her with his brand and be similarly marked with hers.
Scully reached out with both arms, urging him to come to her. He crawled over her, caging her between his arms and legs. Her small hands came up to push his jeans and briefs from his hips and he helped her to wrestle his clothes from his body. Mulder slowly lowered his body to cover her and once again his mouth sought hers.
His harsh sigh mingled with her throaty moan. Muscled arms burrowed under her finely sculptured back while silky legs wound themselves around lean hips.
He was hard and hot; she was soft and wet. Pressing, penetrating... welcoming, yielding. Take me into you, don't let me go... fill me, don't ever leave me... bodies moving in concert... slow, languorous kisses... soft, broken murmurs... I love you... I've always loved you... I'll always love you... lazy smiles, languid caresses... yes, right there... oh God!... do that again... ragged breathing, husky whispers... insatiable mouths... mounting passions... faster, please... hold on tight... eager hands, pounding hips... primal thoughts... mine, my mate... need - devouring, consuming... building, climbing, driving... flying... come, come with me now...
Her name exploded from his lips on a harsh cry as he stiffened in her arms, her body rippled around his, impossibly drawing him deeper into her. His arms trembled and he sagged into her welcoming embrace. Long moments passed and he summoned the strength to move, stopping at her mournful cry.
"Don't leave me."
Mulder smoothed damp hair away from her flushed cheeks. "I'll never leave you," he promised. He shifted slightly, lifting his weight from her and they fought their way under the disheveled bedcovers, coming together again in a sleepy tangle of arms and legs.
Scully awoke just as the sky began to lighten with streaks of pink and purple. Through the baby monitor, she could hear William babbling and cooing softly as he entertained himself. She could picture him in his crib, chubby fingers wrapped around his feet as he pulled his toes toward his head in a way that only babies could. She listened as he yawned and sighed and heard his feet rub against the crib sheets before he settled back into sleep.
Cradled in her arms, softly snoring and sleep rumpled, Mulder slept with his head pillowed on her stomach, one arm thrown possessively around her hip.
Outside, the wind whistled and howled. Leaves of gold and red and orange brushed against the window in a giddy whirlwind of color, blurred by the frost that had formed on the glass as the temperature outside plummeted while the little family was cocooned inside the walls of the house. Scully counted her blessings and drifted back into sleep.
First, I'd like to wish a happy Thanksgiving and the beginning of a joyous and more importantly, peaceful, holiday season to each and every one of you.
What, or rather, who am I thankful for? Well, firstly, Aly for keeping me updated and for taking such good care of my stories. If you visit my website, its artistry is all because of the talented Aly. Follow the links to Aly's own sites to see more of her gorgeous work.
I'm eternally grateful to my crack beta team. David who makes me laugh on a daily basis. And I wouldn't be writing if it weren't for Char and her encouragement and friendship. You either have her to thank or blame for my continued scribbling. Thanks to both David and Char for reading this story the very moment I e-mailed it to them (despite the late hour) while I waited with bated breath for their comments. They didn't keep me waiting long, bless their hearts.
Finally, I'd like to thank anyone who takes the time out of their incredibly busy lives to read my stories. I cherish the feedback I receive. Thank you so much.
I'd love to hear from you and you can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org