Title: The Wish II: All the Colors
Author: ViXen
Classification: SRA
Keywords: Mulder/Scully romance, alternate universe
Rating: NC-17
Timeline: Takes place on March 17, 1996. No Season 4 stuff here.
Disclaimer: I don't own Fox Mulder and Dana Scully. They belong to CC, 1013 and Fox.

Summary: Mulder takes a drive that sends him on an unexpected journey.


Plump raindrops pummeled the windshield like angry fists trying to beat their way into the car. The swish of the windshield wipers created a mesmerizing metronomic rhythm that threatened to send the driver into slumberland.

Fox Mulder shook the sleepy fog from his head and reached for the radio dial. He winced as some cowboy whined about how his wife left him, his dog left him and his pickup truck was his only friend. Scanning the dial, the agent realized the radio station variety in Rainbow's End, Mississippi consisted of country, easy listening, a Bible-thumping sermon by an overly enthusiastic evangelist and, yes, more country.

Disgusted, Mulder turned off the radio. He scanned the scenery as it whizzed by him, and out of the corner of his eye he spotted a sign at the side of the road:

Rainbow's End Pass - 2 miles

He swore if he saw the name 'Rainbow's End' on one more building or road sign, he was going to shoot someone. Everything in this God- forsaken town had 'Rainbow's End' stenciled or painted or engraved on it. Wasn't the 'rainbow's end' supposed to have a pot of gold waiting? Mulder snickered. A pot of something waited at the end of Rainbow's End, but it wasn't filled with gold. The town had the dubious distinction of housing the county landfill, and nauseating wafts of rotting garbage traveled through town when the wind was just right.

The agents discovered something else rotten in this little slice of Americana: three mysterious and unusual abductions in a one-month period, all girls between the ages of eight and ten. Two of them taken while their older brothers slept in the next room, baby-sitting their younger sisters while their parents were away.

As each detail of the case unfolded, Mulder felt his resolve crack, breaking off in small chunks and crumbling at his feet. Jabs of pain traveled through his entire body when he and Scully questioned the anguished parents of the missing children. The sheriff's crude and accusatory questioning of one older brother was the final blow and it sent Mulder into a blinding rage. Had Scully not been there, he'd have decked the officer, or worse.

Immediately after the confrontation, the iron walls of Mulder's mental fortress slammed into place and he regressed into himself, pushing Scully away as he had done so many times before. This time, however, she was returning the favor. Shortly after returning to the hotel, she had fainted. She gave him the half-hearted excuses of hunger and exhaustion, and he might have bought it except for her immediate shift in personality. He was used to the emotional distance she insisted on putting between them when she was scared, but when her whole body went rigid as he brushed his fingers across the bruise on her neck, his heart sagged.

Something had happened to her, something that shook her to her very foundation. She refused to talk to him and it felt like a knife piercing his heart, hurting him far deeper than he could admit. When he had checked on her before setting out in the car, she was sleeping, curled up on her side hugging one of her pillows. Asleep, her face robbed of its mask of composure, she looked like a child in the midst of a nightmare, her brow tense and riddled with worry lines.

Mulder never wondered why she continued to stand by his side when all it seemed to bring her was nightmares, both in reality and in dreams. He was too selfish a man for those concerns. He needed Dana Scully, plain and simple. He needed her to cover his ass and stimulate his mind, to be his partner and his friend. He needed her emotionally, intellectually and spiritually.

And physically, but only in dreams.

Mulder blinked away the mental fog as the car approached a wooden bridge. The worn, dilapidated sign next to the guardrail proclaimed it 'Rainbow's End Pass'. He smirked as he read the smaller writing under at the bottom of the sign: 'Cross the Pass into another world.'

"You got that right," he mused. "This place is definitely in another world." He stepped on the gas again and urged the car forward. The Taurus bounced erratically on its suspension system as it rolled over the uneven wooden beams. His eyes darted to the dashboard clock. 11:21pm.

When he raised his eyes back to the road, two bright orbs filled his line of sight. Headlights, he surmised, from a monolithic vehicle. A semi-truck, perhaps? A tiny twinge of panic rose up his spine. If it was a semi, the bridge wasn't wide enough for the both of them. Mulder honked the horn as an alert to the driver but the ominous vehicle continued to close the distance between them at an alarmingly fast speed.

He floored the accelerator. "Come on! Move it, you heap of shit!" he yelled, egging the Taurus on by hitting the steering wheel and horn. He couldn't tell but it looked like the truck had intentionally increased its speed and angled itself on a collision course with Mulder, as if playing some twisted game of 'chicken'.

Mulder swallowed. He wasn't going to make it. The truck was going to hit him.

*Oh God. Not like this. I can't die like this.*

The vehicle's lights flashed violently, becoming impossibly bright, and blinded Mulder. He swerved and heard the scream of scraping metal as the Taurus connected with the guardrail of the bridge.

Mulder's last thought as he closed his eyes, bracing himself for impact, was of Dana Scully.


Opening his eyes, Mulder looked through the windshield. As far as he could tell, the semi-truck had missed him. The front end of the car looked intact and unblemished except for dried waterspots. The rain, which had dissipated, left only a humid breeze and thin cottony clouds behind.

"Is this Heaven?" His gaze dropped to the steering wheel and fell upon the familiar Ford logo. "Nope, must be Hell. I'm still driving a Taurus."

Mulder moved the rearview mirror and eyed himself carefully. No blood, no bruises, not a scratch. Except for a pounding, king-sized headache, he escaped unscathed. The dizziness had subsided so he ventured out of the car, leaving the engine running. He walked around the front of the car to the passenger side and his eyes widened at what he found.

Nothing, not one scratch in the car's paint.

Mulder shook his head and his brow furrowed in confusion. How could that be? He had felt the impact with the guardrail and had heard the fingernails-on-a-chalkboard squealing of metal against metal. He was tired, but could he have been so tired as to imagine all of it?

Mulder went back to the driver's side and dropped into the seat. What the hell happened? He turned on the overhead light and his eyes went to the rearview mirror again, taking a longer look at himself. His face looked thinner, his cheeks more sallow and skin paler. The five o'clock shadow adorning his face earlier that evening was gone, yet he hadn't shaved in over twelve hours.

*What the...* A wild theory slammed into his head like a runaway freight train. Maybe those lights weren't headlights at all.

He frantically searched for the dashboard clock. He sighed in disgust. 11:26pm. Five minutes after he started over the bridge. And about the right amount of time for him to exit the car and survey the non- existent damage to the Taurus' exterior.

No missing time. So much for that theory.

Leaning his head back on the headrest, Mulder collected his thoughts. Something had happened to him when he crossed that bridge. He ran his right hand through his hair then let his arm go limp, letting it flop onto the passenger seat. His eyes snapped open when his hand came in contact with something. Looking down, he found a green file folder sitting next to him. He knew the file hadn't been there when he left the hotel.

He grabbed the folder and opened it, discovering pages of reports and a case number. An X-Files case number. Flipping through the folder, he found an expense report and receipts. He read through them: One plane ticket for Fox Mulder to Mississippi, one room at the Rainbow's End Motel reserved for Fox Mulder, one rental car signed out to Fox Mulder. No mention of Scully in any of the papers. Scully had completed all of the forms for the case in Rainbow's End. Why had he filled out a second expense report? And why didn't he remember filling it out?

His mind spiraled farther into confusion as he read the rest of the folder's contents. The case in front of him had nothing to do with the disappearance of three girls. The dates on the paperwork matched, so it wasn't an old case file. According to the papers in his hands, he was in Rainbow's End to investigate the brutal, cult-like murders of three local residents.

A small sliver of paper fell from the file folder and floated to the seat. In his consistently sloppy penmanship was an address, directions and the words 'three more'. Considering he had no clue what was going on, Mulder reread the directions, put the car in gear and drove in the direction of what he hoped were some answers.


The cottage, its age evident in the peeling paint and worn wood porch, stood sorely out of place amidst the chaotic rainbow of colors: strobing red and blue lights, yellow police tape, tan county sheriff's uniforms. Black body bags. As he approached, Mulder thought the scene looked like the Wizard of Oz house dropping down in the middle of a scene from 'NYPD Blue'.

He flashed his badge to the uniformed officer and stepped under the tape. As he climbed the front porch steps, the coppery scent of blood drifted into his nostrils. He continued into the house, stopping at the entrance to the living room. Streaks of blood had been methodically applied to one wall, giving it a gruesomely striped wallpaper effect. Four men, two uniformed and two in plain clothes, stood near the center of the room, their heads lowered. Mulder could see a thin stream of dark red in the beige carpeting angling out from the huddle of men. Mulder heard snippets of conversations, catching words like "so much blood", "sickos" and "damn cultists".

A female voice quieted the men, cutting through their murmurs like a knife through silk. "Excuse me, but could you all _please_ stand back. I need some room to work." Mulder watched as the four men looked at each other, shoulders shrugging and heads shaking, then scattered. Left crouched over a bloodied male body was a woman, her red hair a stark contrast to her white lab coat. The woman stood, and with her back to Mulder, she removed the coat, draping it over her arm. Her head turned to the side, giving Mulder a split-second view of the woman's chiseled profile.

A split-second was all it took.

Hair the color of a copper penny swept up off her delicate neck, thin tendrils of loose curls framing her face. Her dress, all black and modestly cut, exuded the words 'class' and 'elegance' while whispering 'sensuous'.

He was so enraptured by her that he flinched when a tall, paunchy man walked in front of him, blocking his view of the woman. "You Fox Mulder?" he asked, his voice peppered with a light Southern accent.

"Yeah." He shook the man's extended hand, and waited for the toupee on the guy's head to get up and crawl away at any moment. The black mass on his head brought new meaning to the words 'bad rug'.

"Bill Adams, Mississippi Field Office." He handed Mulder a pile of folders. "Thanks for coming. This one has us tongue tied and the sheriff has his panties in a wad over the press we're getting out here."

Mulder nodded. "What is she doing here? How did she get here before me?" He pointed to the redhead squatting next the body.

Adams' face contorted in confusion. "Maybe she has a faster car than you." He chuckled at his own joke. "She asked to be called if there were any more victims. The coroner's office is catching a lot of heat, too."

"The coroner? But..." Mulder's voice trailed off. A closer look at her revealed the hairs framing her face were long, longer than Scully's current hairstyle. Her face was...younger. He had noticed the laugh lines and dark circles slowly creep into her complexion over the period of their partnership. It was a gradual transformation, not something he noticed on a daily basis, but seeing this Scully before him, he realized what their partnership had done to her. It had aged her far beyond her years, both physically and spiritually.

The Scully before him now looked like the young sprite that had knocked on his basement door four years ago, blowing into his office - - and his life ** like a cool tropical breeze with the attitude of a hurricane.

Mulder blinked twice. Where was he and why was Scully not Scully? Well, she _was_ Scully but not the Scully he knew. Or was she?

"That's Dana Scully, right?" Mulder asked, finally able to pull his eyes away from her.

Adams nodded. "Yeah, you know her?"

"I thought I did," Mulder mumbled. "How long has she been the coroner here?"

Adams raised a hand to his head and scratched by one temple. Mulder tried not to laugh as the toupee wiggled with the motion. "Doc Scully's been the M.E. 'bout four years now, I figure. Moved here right after my youngest graduated from high school."

Four years. The length of their partnership. A partnership that didn't exist here, wherever _here_ was. What the hell was going on?

His psychologist's brain kicked in. *I must be dreaming.* A lucid dream, one where he was awake in the dream and realized he was dreaming. He couldn't recall ever experiencing one so vivid, but he knew it was possible. The thought both excited and unnerved him.

Adrenaline traveled through Mulder's body at lightening speed. He decided with conviction to follow this dream wherever it lead. Dreams were a window to the mind and he wanted the window to remain open and easily accessible. Dreams were a way for the subconscious to communicate hidden thoughts, hidden concerns, hidden desires...

His breath caught as Dr. Scully bent to pick up her lab coat, which had slipped from her arm while she spoke with a uniformed officer. Her dress, already cut just above the knee, cinched up slightly, revealing a touch more of her shapely thighs.

Adams smirked at Mulder's expression. "Whoa, reign in the horses, buddy. She may look like an angelfish but she's a barracuda in disguise. She'll rip your balls off and serve them to you a la mode."

Mulder ignored Adams' comment and brushed past him, approaching the 'new' Scully with caution and wonder.

"Dr. Scully?"

"Yes?" Her eyes and hands remained on a clipboard overflowing with papers.

"I'm Agent Mulder with the FBI. Agent Adams called me in..."

"I'm well aware of why you're here," she said in an even, measured voice. "Adams can fill you in and get you copies of my reports. As soon as I'm done with these autopsies, I'll make my findings available to you."

A grin flirted with Mulder's lips. The hair may be longer and the face younger, but the no-nonsense attitude was the same. Some things never change.

"If you wouldn't mind, I'd like your preliminary observations on these latest victims," he replied calmly. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Adams approaching him, his arms flailing in front of him as a signal to Mulder to stop. Mulder waved him off and continued. "I realize you're busy but I think it would benefit us both to work together."

Her body tensed and he could feel the anger wafting off her body in heated waves. Adams winced and crossed his hands over his crotch. Scully's head slowly raised but she remained with her back to the agents. Mulder took in the rigidity in her spine and noted she looked much taller than five-foot-three.

"Listen, Mr...Mulder, is it?" she started as she slowly turned to face him. "You're on my turf. You play by my rules. I will give you my reports when..."

Her voice faded with the catch of her breath. For a moment, her eyes widened, a look of panic in her clear blue-green eyes. "My God, it's you," she whispered.

He wanted to look away but was helpless to avert his eyes. These were Scully's eyes, but they weren't. They were different somehow. Mulder couldn't pinpoint the reason why he thought that, but something in her eyes pulled him in and wouldn't let go.

His mouth formed words before his brain could intervene. "Yes, it's me."

His words caused an immediate change in her expression. If he listened close enough, he swore he could hear her mental shields slamming into place. Her eyes never left his but their color changed, sharpening with defiance and illuminating with that Scully air of professionalism.

Adams broke the mood by injecting a cough into the silence. "Hey, Doc? Mulder here's from the X-Files division. Thinks we may have something 'otherworldly' going on."

Mulder bit back a grin as he saw one reddish-brown eyebrow leave formation and jet up toward her hairline.

"Oh, really?" Her voice was laced with a hint of sarcasm. "And just what is so 'otherworldly' about three victims who were stabbed repeatedly and had their blood splattered around their house?"

"That's what I'm here to find out," Mulder replied, not missing a beat. "I'm not sure about otherworldly but I don't think this is the work of a cult."

"How can you rule out this being the work of cultists?" she challenged. "The placement of the bodies, the methodical splattering of the victim's blood on the wall, the right pinkie finger of each victim severed and placed in their left hand. All of that evidence, along with the fact we have a band of Satanists terrorizing the next town over, points to ritualistic murder."

Mulder could feel the adrenaline pumping through his body, the same way it always did when he and Scully engaged in their own unique brand of verbal intercourse.

"If these murders were commited at the hands of a Satanic cult," Mulder replied, "they would most likely follow the Satantic calendar. These do not. Have there been any reports of missing animals in the area? Dogs, cats, goats?"

Adams chimed in. "A few animals have disappeared from farms and houses since the Satanists showed up about six months ago."

Mulder nodded. "And that's what normally happens. Sacrifices are generally animals, not humans. I'm guessing these animals disappeared near the end of October and possibly in December. Samhain, or Halloween, is one of their most important holidays, as are the solstices and equinoxes. The winter solstice is in December."

Adams stroked his chin. "Yeah, now that I think about it, we did get the first report around Halloween. I'll check on the others, but I'll bet they were in December. They've been pretty quiet lately, and there haven't been any humans involved. Until now."

"Maybe they were working their way up," Mulder said dryly.

"No, Satanists generally don't practice on animals and move on to bigger and better things," he offered. "More likely, this is the work of a serial killer."

"I thought those two went hand in hand," he said with a shrug.

"One would think that," Mulder replied, his eyes locking with Scully's. "But there has been no concrete evidence connecting Satan worshipping and serial killers. Generally speaking, for every one who does claim a link to the Devil, there are dozens of serial murderers who do not."

Scully tilted her head to the side. "You seem to know your Satan worshippers, Agent Mulder. A hobby of yours?"

He fought to keep from grinning. "I've done considerable research into the correlation between serial killers and the occult." He paused as he pointed to the mutilated body before them. "But autopsies aren't my specialty, so I'd value your professional opinion about these murders as compared to the earlier ones."

She sucked in a deep breath, but otherwise remained emotionless. "In the interest of time, I suppose I could give you a preliminary run- down so you can start your investigation. Let me get my notes from my car."

"I'd appreciate that, Dr. Scully," he said with a nod. He watched her leave, admiring the lithe movements of her body as she walked.

"How did you do that?" Adams asked as soon as the coroner was out of earshot.

Mulder turned to the agent. "Do what?"

"That," he replied, pointing in Scully's direction. "How'd you make Dr. Ice melt like that? Any of us tried copping an attitude like that with her, we'd be singing soprano. Just about every guy in the county building has tried to get a piece of her but she's not interested. Rumor has it she doesn't take a fancy to men, if you know what I mean." Adams added an elbow nudge to Mulder's arm to drive home his point.

Mulder bristled. The "good ol' boys" network was in rare form here and because she didn't play their he-man games, Dr. Dana Scully was an unwelcome addition. His eyes darted around the room and he realized she was the only woman involved in the investigation.

He turned to Adams. "Dr. Scully's sexual orientation is not a concern of mine, neither should it be concern of yours," Mulder said in a barely restrained voice. "What _is_ my concern is the fact that I know of Dr. Scully's work and she is the most proficient pathologist I've ever encountered."

"Well, yeah, she's an OK doc," Adams blurted out, "but..."

"But nothing, Adams," Mulder hissed as he slammed one of the folders into Adams' chest. "Perhaps if you didn't spend so much time figuring out how to get under Dr. Scully's skirt, maybe you could see that her thoroughness and expertise is going to save your ass."

"Hey," Adams sputtered, "I didn't...I..."

He shot Adams his best 'you disgust me' look and walked away, leaving the agent to choke on his lame excuses. Mulder left the house and walked to the coroner's van, where he found Scully flipping through papers on her clipboard. A skeleton-thin man, whose t-shirt had 'Roger' embroidered on the pocket, took a few papers from Scully's hand, then jogged to the driver's side and started the van. Mulder noted Roger looked barely old enough to drive, let alone work for the medical examiner's office.

"The dress code in Mississippi must be hell on your dry cleaning bills," Mulder said, standing behind Scully.

She turned to face him. "I'm sorry?"

"Your dress," he replied with a nod. "All the pathologists I know tend to dress down when they go to work."

The beginnings of a blush started along her cheekbones and he could see her valiantly trying to ignore it. "I was on my way home from a charity auction when my pager went off."

"No rest for the weary, eh?"

"No, not since these murders," she said, shaking her head. "My staff and I have been running ragged trying to find a lead."

He nodded knowingly and was about to respond when he noticed Roger had returned with the second clipboard.

"Just one more paper, Dr. S, and we'll be ready to roll."

Mulder watched as she signed her name in that perfect Scully script that graced hundreds of reports in his office filing cabinets. She gave the clipboard back to the enthusiastic youngster.

Roger nodded to her car. "You gonna follow us?"

Before she could answer, Mulder spoke up. "Dr. Scully, I'd really like to talk to you. I won't take up much of your time. My background is in psychology and profiling serial killers. I'd like to ask you a few things about the autopsies of the first three victims."

Mulder could see the battle ensuing behind her eyes. Her duty was with transporting the bodies, but he had piqued her curiosity. He knew she would never admit it, but Dana Scully's appetite for answers was almost as voracious as his.

Roger came to the rescue. "Hey, Dr. S, no prob. Dr. Ginter's still there. He was about head home but we got the call and he said there's no way he was leaving now. He can take receipt of the bodies and we can prep and beep you."

She shook her head. "No, I should be there..."

"Please, Dr. Scully. Just fifteen minutes. That's all I need." Mulder threw in his best forlorn look, the one he knew Scully could rarely resist. He watched her features soften.

*Bingo!*

"Roger, you page me twenty minutes before prepping is complete, do you hear me?"

The young man gave Scully a mock salute and a "Yes, ma'am!" before running to the front of the van.

"All right, Agent Mulder," she said, crossing her arms under her breasts. "What do you want to know?"

"Is there somewhere we could go and sit down? I'd like to go over your notes."

Scully lifted a hand to her chin. "Are you staying in Rainbow's End?"

"Yes, at the..."

"...Rainbow's End Motel," she interrupted. "It's the only place in town." She paused, thoughtfully stroking her jawline. "There's a all- night diner about halfway between here and my office. If you wouldn't mind driving that far, I'd really like to be close by when they page me."

"That's fine." He gestured to her car. "Lead the way, Dr. S."

She graced him with polite smile before walking to her car. Mulder walked away, running a hand through his tousled hair. He still had no idea what was going on, but he had a feeling he was going to have one hell of an adventure finding out.


"So, how did you end up in Mississippi?" He took a sip of coffee, then pursed his lips. Java strong enough to put hair on your chest. Just the way he liked it.

Business talk had taken less than half an hour, so he moved into casual small talk. All of his senses were heightened; sight, smell, taste... all of them. Something he knew was unusual for a dream, but he refused to pursue it. The need to know far outweighed the questions raised in his head.

An overwhelming surge of curiosity spread through his body like a wind- driven wildfire. He had to know everything about her, why she was here and why her life had changed. She was Scully, but a _different_ Scully. There was a reason why he was meant to see Scully in this different light. His mind, his subconscious, was trying to tell him something about her, about their relationship. But what?

"I moved out here about four years ago to be with my fiance," she replied. "He works for the District Attorney's office in Jackson."

Mulder stopped breathing. "You're _married_?"

"No," she replied, lowering her head. "I...it didn't work out."

"I'm sorry, Dr. Scully," he said with as much sincerity as he could muster.

"I'm not," she bit out before realizing what she had said. She flinched slightly. "I apologize, Mr. Mulder..."

He raised a hand to stop her. "Not a problem. And call me Mulder."

"Not Fox?" Her eyebrow arched.

"No. I prefer Mulder."

She nodded but didn't push any further. "Please call me Dana." She looked down at her mug, finding her coffee utterly fascinating. "I didn't mean to sound so harsh."

"And I didn't mean to pry. I was just wondering how someone with your expertise ended up..." He motioned out the window.

"...in a hellhole like this?" she finished with a bitter smile. "After I...we called off the wedding, I was too proud and too embarrassed to go home, and this job basically fell into my lap. I thought I would use the position to gain more experience and to pay the bills until something better came along."

His eyes met hers for an instant and he could see the unhappiness in their depths. He waited patiently for her to continue, wanting to ask a barrage of questions but not wanting to break the spell. Scully was never one to open herself like a book in front of him and he was afraid if he pushed, she would slam the book shut.

She smiled briefly, a warm smile free of sarcasm. "I'm sorry, Mulder. You came here to talk about the case, not to hear about my personal life."

He returned the smile. "I don't mind, really. I admire you for your attitude. Dealing with chauvinistic morons like Adams must grate on you like a slow-dripping faucet."

She laughed, the melodic sound filling his ears. "Yes, Agent Adams believes all women should be barefoot and pregnant, not necessarily in that order."

"How do you put up with that?" he asked, his voice serious.

Her expression turned somber. "What doesn't break us only makes us stronger. I deal with it because I know my work makes a difference. _I_ make a difference. This job has given me the chance to distinguish myself, something I don't think I could do as an assistant coroner in a big city."

His chest swelled with pride at her words. She was so strong, the strongest person he knew. When faced with adversity, Dana Scully never backed down. She faced it head-on, baring her teeth, ready to conquer any obstacle in her path.

He hated to do it, but his mind wouldn't leave well enough alone. He had to throw her a curve ball. "Can I ask you something?"

"I guess so," she replied cautiously.

"Earlier when we met, you said 'It's you.' What did you mean by that?"

Her eyes widened for a millisecond, then she lifted her head slightly. "Nothing. I...thought you were someone else. I was mistaken."

The Scully Lie. Something he could always spot a mile away. Even when she uttered her all-purpose "I'm fine," he never missed the minuscule lifting of her chin, as if to say, "I can handle this on my own. I don't need your pity or your sympathy." So independent, his Scully.

Wait a minute. _His_ Scully? When did he start referring to her as _his_ Scully? He pushed the thought from his head, wanting to pursue his initial line of questioning.

"You thought I was who?" he pressed.

"No one. Like I said, I was... oh!" she gasped as her pager started vibrating on the table. She grabbed the black plastic square and looked at the display. "Prepping must almost be done. I have to get back."

"I'll walk you to your car," he said without thinking. He threw a few dollar bills on the table and grabbed the file folders. Following her out the door, he unconsciously placed his hand on her back, the same spot he always did. She stiffened at his touch but said nothing.

"If you don't mind, Dana," he said as they walked through the parking lot, "I'd like to forego the autopsies."

"Most do," she replied, a hint of amusement in her voice.

"It's nothing like that," he countered. "I'm not squeamish. I'd just like to go over the police reports more thoroughly."

She smiled wryly. "Sure, Mulder. That's fine."

He stopped walking, planting his feet firmly. "Hey, I've attended plenty of autopsies, hundreds probably."

She continued to walk, looking at him over her shoulder. "I'm sure you have, Mulder. But just so you know, autopsies of 'otherwordly' beings don't count."

With her head turned to the side, Scully missed seeing the headlights of the car barreling through the parking lot. The car that had her directly in its path.

"Dana!" He ran to her, closing the distance between them in four giant steps. He grabbed her coat and pulled her to him, holding her body close to his. The car passed, slowing only long enough for its occupants to sling obscenities at them. He couldn't help noticing the scent of alcohol emanating from the open windows.

Mulder looked down at her, his hand stroking her back. "Are you all right?"

"Yes," she said shakily. "I'm fine."

As he looked into Scully's eyes, the line from a movie played in his head, a movie he saw only once, while he was at Oxford. The movie, "Risky Business", didn't particularly strike a chord with him, except for one line: "Sometimes you have to say 'What the fuck' and make your move." His eyes followed an imaginary line down to her mouth. He nearly groaned aloud as the tip of her pink tongue darted out to wet her lips.

*What the fuck.*

Mulder angled his mouth over hers, barely touching her soft lips. A quick, feather-light kiss. She stiffened in his embrace and he thought she might pull away. He held his ground, though, neither decreasing nor increasing the pressure of his lips upon hers. After a few seconds, he felt her hands move to his chest, grasping the lapels of his coat.

Then she sighed in his mouth, a whisper-soft sound that bypassed his ears and headed straight to his groin.

He pulled her closer, snaking one arm around her waist and moving one to support her neck while he angled her head and deepened the kiss. He felt her body relax against his, and her hands slid up his chest to rest on his shoulders. Her mouth opened and he flicked his tongue at hers, savoring her flavor as if given the chance to taste the forbidden fruit. She was that to him, the forbidden fruit, and now he was finally able to sample her sweetness. A delicacy, one of which he would never be able to get enough.

Reluctantly, Mulder broke the contact, wondering if he had just made a big mistake. *Nothing that feels _that_ good could be a mistake,* he thought as he fought to control his breathing. He slowly opened his eyes to find her lips slightly parted, swollen and glistening from the kiss. He watched as her eyes fluttered open. She stared up at him, her eyes clouded and unfocused at first. Then the realization must have set in as her eyes widened in a heartbeat.

He wasn't sure if it was fear or anger he saw in the intense blue irises. Regardless, he was relieved that this Scully didn't carry a gun.

Mulder released her from the embrace. "Dana, I...I'm sorry. I don't know why I did..."

Both jumped back when a robust car horn blared next to them. Neither had realized they were standing in the middle of a throughway for the parking lot. They parted, opening enough distance between them for the king-cab truck to pass. Mulder nervously ran a hand through his hair then signaled the driver to continue. He couldn't hear what the man said but he was sure it wasn't a friendly welcome to Mississippi.

Mulder's eyes followed the truck as it passed. When he turned back, Scully was gone. He could see her at her car, unlocking the door. He stared at her, willing her to look his way.

She never looked back.

He watched with confusion and sadness in his eyes as her car sped from the parking lot.


He was tired. So tired. And very confused.

His Scully, in a different city, a different job, a different life. Still the best at what she does, still working to make a difference despite the adversity she faced each day, still wrapped in that nearly impenetrable cocoon of science. Still strong, brilliant and beautiful.

But different.

Yawning, Mulder stripped down to his boxers, then grabbed a file folder and flopped onto the motel room bed. He opened the folder and began reading. The first page was the police report on what he had seen earlier. The words didn't do justice to the horror he'd seen. On paper, it seemed so flat, so unimportant.

Mulder kept reading, the words blurring together with each added paragraph. He yawned again, sleep insistently surrounding him despite his attempts to counteract its pull. His eyelids felt heavier with each blink. Maybe he could just rest his eyes for a minute...

His eyes snapped open at the soft click of the door's lock. He reached for his gun on the nightstand as the door opened. A flash of red and black entered the room, the face hidden by the shadows cast by the lone light in the room, a cheap lamp next to the bed. He leaned forward and trained his gun on the intruder, his hand hugging the black metal, thumb poised on the hammer and forefinger ready on the trigger.

Then she turned to face him. Her tiny frame was shrouded in a black trenchcoat several sizes too big, the length scraping the ground as she walked.

He lowered the gun and released the breath he had been holding. "Jesus, Dana. You scared me. How did you..."

Mulder's jaw dropped as she opened the coat and let it fall to the floor. She stood before him, dressed in a floor-length satin nightgown in a deep, rich shade of green. The bodice fit her like a glove and hugged her breasts, the silk's smoothness interrupted only by the peaking of her taut nipples. The skirt of the gown flowed lightly around the curves of her hips and rippled in waves of jade as she slowly approached. When she reached the edge of the bed, he was hypnotized by her eyes, two onyx discs surrounded by thin rings of turquoise, her need clearly displayed in their smoky depths.

"It _is_ you. I knew you would come," she whispered as she placed her hands on his chest, pushing him down on the bed.

"Dana, I..." His words ended in a gasp as she claimed his mouth with hers, her tongue stabbing at his lips. On a moan, he parted his lips, allowing her entrance. As her tongue performed a thorough examination of his mouth, her fingernails scraped a trail from his chest down to his abdomen. Her hands left him briefly, only to return to the waistband of his boxers. Instinctively, he lifted his hips and soon felt the confining cotton material move down his legs and off his body.

She drew back from him mid-kiss, leaving him breathless and confused. He opened his mouth to speak but she raised a finger to her lips, signaling him to be silent. Raising an arm, he reached for her but she shook her head and took two steps back from the bed, leaving herself just out of his arm's reach. His eyes found hers, still seeing desire there but with an added playfulness. He smiled and lowered his hand to the bed.

She wanted to play, and he was more than game. The questions could wait.

Her hand went to the thin strap of the nightgown, slowly pushing it aside and letting the scrap of silk slide down her arm. He reached out again but she shook her head. Once he placed his hand back on the bed, she lowered the other strap. She dropped both arms to her sides and the gown slid down her body in one fluid motion.

Dear God, she was beautiful! Smooth peaches-and-cream skin, lightly dusted with light brown freckles. More lines and curves than his mind could comprehend. His eyes fell upon the nest of reddish-brown curls settled at the 'v' where her thighs met her torso. He swallowed hard and raised his eyes back to hers.

Mulder watched as she took her turn, letting her eyes skim over his form. He could feel her gaze hot against his skin, burning a trail from his chest down to where her eyes lingered, and had been lingering for several seconds. A silly grin of pride swept across his face as he realized what was holding her gaze so intensively.

Simultaneously, their eyes met again. She placed one knee on the bed, then the other. Mulder's eyes widened as he watched her approach him on all fours, slinking toward him like a panther stalking her prey. She stopped as his arm raised to touch her hair. Grabbing his wrist, she flicked her tongue at his index finger, laving it then grazing it with her teeth. His attempt at biting back a moan proved unsuccessful as her lips closed tightly around his finger and she began sucking, pulling it deeper into her mouth. Her name leapt from his lips in a strained cry.

The bed shifted and he gasped as she straddled his chest, the weight of her body settling on his abdomen. His hands went to her waist, trying to urge her closer. She smiled and lowered her head, her tongue snaking out and licking at his throat and collarbone. He could smell her, a whiff of peaches from her hair, then an underlying musky scent, something obviously female. A female aroused.

With a groan he gave himself fully to her, letting his hands drop to the bed and giving her free reign over his body. Soft, open-mouthed kisses wet his skin, leaving a tingling coolness behind. She started at his throat and continued down his chest and stomach, her lips and tongue leaving no patch of skin untouched.

His mind spun with the realization that he was receiving a tongue bath from his partner. Dana Scully, Skeptic to his Believer, was exploring every inch of his body with her mouth. Suddenly, breathing became as difficult as trying to get Scully to believe that a man's shadow could kill.

He felt a pinch on the inside of his thigh and his eyes opened to find her kneeling between his legs, her eyes and mouth smiling at him. Her head dropped and her tongue darted out, sweeping up the length of him. He growled something incoherent even to himself and his eyes closed. Again, her fingers pinched the tender skin on his inner thigh. His eyes opened and locked with hers. This time he couldn't have looked away if he tried. Her eyes spoke to him, telling him to watch, to anticipate her next move. As he saw her lick her lips and slowly lower her head, he knew exactly what her next move would be and the anticipation nearly did him in.

He cried out as she wrapped her lips around his erection, sheathing half of his length in a humid paradise. Unable to keep his eyes open any longer, he pushed his head back into the pillow. His hands grasped the bed sheet, yanking it away from the mattress, crushing and wrinkling it in his grip. He felt as if every drop of blood in his body had left its respective vein and was rushing toward his groin.

Curiosity eventually got the better of him and he ventured a look. Silky auburn strands tickled his thighs as her head bobbed up and down. Deft hands stroked the sensitive skin between his legs. That perfect little mouth closed around him, those luscious full lips milking him...

"Ohmygod," he exhaled as his hands flew to the headboard, holding on for dear life. The pace she had set sent him into a frenzy for control, something of which he knew he had lost and had no hope of regaining. His hips pumped toward her face, matching her rhythm. His moans turned into caveman-like grunts, punctuating each thrust.

*Dana, oh God, Dana...* Was he saying that out loud? He had no idea. He was aware of nothing but the most primal of human needs. Pleasure became pain, only to become pleasure again a second later. Waves of passion threatening to crash over him, sending him helplessly into a violent undertow. He could feel her taking him deeper into her mouth, into her throat, then back out until just the tip of him sat inside, resting on her soft tongue. She did it again. Over and over, until he thought he would spontaneously combust. He was so close. In, out, in, out, inoutinoutinoutinout...

An obnoxious squawk hit him like a sharp blow to the head. Mulder sat upright in the bed, his mind foggy from sleep.

Sleep?

A second squawk answered his question and he replied with a groan, realizing it was the telephone. He looked around the room, searching for some sign that she had been there but found nothing. He sniffed the air in the room but found no lingering scent of peaches. Or Scully.

Papers from the disheveled file folder stuck to his sweat-soaked arm and he peeled them from his skin. He ran a shaky hand over his face and grabbed for the phone on the third ring.

"Whoever you are, this had better be good," he growled into the receiver.

His ear met with silence and he opened his mouth, ready to read the riot act to the person on the other end, when a familiar voice melted his anger.

"It's important enough for me to call you at this ungodly hour." She was using her business voice, her tone reserved but pleasant, and undoubtedly professional.

"Uh, sorry. I...sorry, Dana. I was asleep. I was really out of it," he replied as he shifted uncomfortably on the bed, his groin aching from a pressure of volcanic proportions. "What did you find?"

"It has to do with evidence on the last set of victims. I can give you a brief overview over the phone."

"No," he said quickly. "I'll be there as soon as I...uh, shower." He gave himself a mental pat on the back for his quick cover. "I have something I'd like to show you, too. Something in one of the police reports."

"Good," she replied, "you can show me yours when you get here."

A whimper escaped from his lips before he could stop it. He squeezed his eyes shut and clenched his fists. *Think ice hockey, monster truck rally, Frohike in a Speedo...*

"Mulder, are you OK?"

His eyes snapped open. "Uh, yeah. Just...stubbed my toe. I'll see you in about twenty minutes, Dana."

He replaced the receiver on its cradle, not waiting for her reply. He had a more pressing engagement, and it was pressing against his boxers so forcefully the elastic waistband stood an inch away from his body. Major Wood was saluting him with a vengeance.

"Shit."

He headed for the bathroom, fully aware that no amount of cold water was going to relieve his current predicament. Carefully peeling away the boxers, he climbed into the shower and turned on the water. He braced himself with one hand against the cool tile; his other hand wrapped around his painful erection and squeezed.

Five rough jerks from his own hand was all it took. He came so hard he thought he would pass out. As his body shuddered in release, her name became a mantra inside his head, alongside the image of her beautiful auburn-tressed head between his legs.

Mulder waited for the waves crashing through his body to subside before moving his hand from the tile. He doused himself with the hot streams of water, the results of his handiwork flowing off his groin and legs, spiraling in a whirlpool and plunging down the drain.

**

** x ** ** x **

PART 4 ** -

Mulder drove in silence, his mind still reeling about what had happened in the motel room. It was nothing short of incredible. He'd had a dream _within_ a dream. Something he'd never experienced before, and had heard was a rare occurrence.

He wanted to analyze every aspect of the dream, _both_ dreams. Not only was the lucid dream vivid and life-like, but so was the dream within. He remembered the smooth texture of her skin, the tickling on his thighs as her hair brushed against him, the mewling sounds she made as she took him deeper within her mouth...

He shivered. This was not a good time to be thinking those thoughts, especially when the suit pants he'd thrown on left little room for expansion.

After two wrong turns and going five miles out of his way, Mulder finally pulled into the medical examiner's office parking lot, nearly forty-five minutes after Scully had called him. The building buzzed with activity despite the fact it was still before seven in the morning. He looked in the windows on each door as he passed them until he saw a flash of rich auburn. Knocking twice, he pushed through the door.

Both occupants looked up from their work. Mulder nodded to the young blonde-haired man on the far side of the table, then nodded and smiled at Scully.

"Agent Mulder, this is Dr. Steve Ginter," she said, her voice muffled by the surgical mask adorning her face.

Ginter nodded to Mulder. "I'd shake your hand, but..." His voice trailed off as he raised his hands, which were encased in bloodied latex gloves.

Mulder waved a hand. "Don't worry about it." He looked to Scully, who was standing in front of him. Because the mask hid her mouth, he had to rely on her eyes to read her expression. Clear, liquid blue with green undertones. No anger, but evidence of exhaustion and apprehension. Whether that had to do with the case or him, he couldn't be sure.

"Agent Mulder, Dr. Ginter will finish up here," she stated, her voice the model of professionalism. "If you would follow me." She headed toward a door at the far end of the room. He followed and found that the door led to a small hallway. At the end of the hallway was another door, which she unlocked and pushed through, revealing a small but uncluttered office.

His eyes bypassed the room's decor and contents, and focused on one object perched on the government-issue metal desk. An eight-by-ten black photo frame. Mulder recognized Scully, her mother and Melissa in the photo. The three men were a mystery to him, however. The older man had to be William Scully. The younger men, Mulder assumed, were the never-present Scully brothers. It was a happy photo, smiling faces, laughing eyes. The portrait of a happy family. A complete family.

"When was this taken?" Mulder asked casually as he pointed to the photo.

"About a year ago," she replied. "Six months before my father died."

"I'm sorry, Dana." William Scully had died just a few months ago. At least this Scully had a few more years with her father.

An uncomfortable silence filled the room, hovering over their heads like a dark cloud. When he was unable to stand it any longer, he cleared his throat and was rewarded with the appropriate response from Scully.

"Yes, the evidence bag," she blurted out, moving behind her desk to a cabinet against the far wall. She unlocked the cabinet and withdrew a petite plastic bag. After handing Mulder a latex glove, she gloved her right hand and opened the plastic bag, carefully withdrawing a thin white strand about six inches in length.

"These were found all over the two bodies I autopsied today," she said as she placed the hair in Mulder's hand.

"What is it?" he asked as he brought it closer to his face.

"Dog hair, from a Lhasa Apso to be exact."

He gave the hair to Scully. "So?"

"This family has no pets. Earlier today, I talked with one of the first officers on the scene, who happened to know the wife. According to this officer, the woman had a severe allergy to pet hair and wouldn't allow _any_ animals in her house."

Scully held the bag open as Mulder dropped the white hair into the plastic. "Lhasa Apso is not a common breed out here. Most people have the bigger dogs, like Retrievers or German Shepherds."

He nodded, then withdrew his cell phone. "I'm going to have Adams check with every veterinarian in a fifty-mile radius for any clients who own that breed."

Before he had a chance to ask if she had Adams' phone number handy, Scully produced a Rolodex card.

*Spooky.* He smiled.

Mulder dialed the number and got Adams' voice mail. He hung up and handed the card back to Scully. "Got his machine. I'm going to drive down there myself."

He started to leave but stopped himself, turning back to face her. "Look, Dana, about what happened earlier. I was way out of line..."

"Please, Mulder. An apology is not necessary," she replied with a shake of her head. "I admit it took me by surprise, but..." She paused as she lowered her eyes. "I can't honestly say I wasn't a willing participant."

*Oh?*

The corners of his mouth crept upward into a grin. "Then...uh, you wouldn't mind having dinner with me tonight?" Mulder grimaced. He sounded like a fifteen-year-old in hormone overload.

"I don't think that would be a good idea," she said with what he interpreted as a hint of remorse.

"Why?"

"We are working on a case together. There's a...conflict of interest. It wouldn't be wise."

"It's just dinner, Dana. We can discuss the case, make it a business dinner." A sly grin spread across his face. "And I promise to keep my hands and lips to myself."

That got a reaction. He watched her face contort as she fought the smile, eventually losing the battle. Teeth like bright pearls shone between her coral-stained lips. Damn, that woman had a smile that could stop traffic!

"Well, when you preface it that way, how can I refuse?"

"Great. I'll leave the restaurant choice up to you. What time should I pick you up?"

"I have a budget meeting this afternoon, so it would have to be a late dinner." She eyed the wall clock above the door. "Eight would be good."

She gave him her address and explained that he had passed the condo complex on his way to her office.

"I'll see you then," he said with a smile, then turned to leave.

This dream was getting better by the minute.


A date.

That's what this was, he suddenly realized as he stood at the front door of her condo. A dinner date with Scully. A date in a dream. That was unusual. Most of his dreams bypassed dinner and went straight to the main attraction.

Wiping his hands on his suit jacket, Mulder took a deep breath and rang the doorbell. Ten seconds of silence filled his ears, then the shuffling of hurried high heels neared the door. With the click of a deadbolt, the door opened and his jaw dropped.

His first assessment of her hair was correct: it _was_ longer than the Scully he knew. Soft auburn curls sat on her shoulders and licked her cheeks and neck like flames from a brilliant fire. She wore a sleeveless rayon dress in a rich emerald green. The color, against her fair skin, took his breath away. The color was also identical to the negligee she wore in his dream.

Mulder gulped air. It was going to be a very, _very_ long night.

"Sorry," she said, grinning sheepishly. "I'm not quite ready."

"No problem."

His eyes went to her wrist, where she was trying to attach a bracelet. She looked at him with a frustrated smile. "The clasp on this is pretty tricky. I can never seem to do it alone."

"I can try." He shrugged.

She proffered her wrist and the bracelet. "Make sure you feel it snap in place. If not, it may come loose. It's happened before."

He nodded, placing the clasp ends next to each other and pushing lightly. He heard a faint 'snick' as the ends grabbed each other and held. Unwilling to relinquish their closeness, Mulder turned the bracelet around, admiring the bright gold charm dangling from the chain.

"This is beautiful," he said, holding the charm on the end of his finger.

"Thank you. It was my mom's." Her smile faded. "Dad gave this to her after their first date. It's a real four-leafed clover dipped in gold."

"Did it bring her good luck?"

Her eyes met his. "It brought her four healthy children and over thirty years of marriage to a wonderful, caring man who loved her more than life itself. I would say that was good luck. The kind of luck most of us only dream about."

Mulder fought with every nerve in his body to keep from leaning in and kissing her full, pouty lips. He wanted nothing more than to take her in his arms and show her just how much she meant to him. He didn't know where this overwhelming passion was coming from, pushing through his body with a force so strong it threatened to eradicate all rational thought from his mind. He had felt these feelings for Scully before, had felt them for as long as he could remember, but never on this level, never at this magnitude. And never to the point where he had trouble controlling them.

"We'd better get going," he forced out with a breath.

"I'll get my jacket." Finally releasing the invisible tether on his eyes, she blinked, then walked to the bedroom.

Mulder let out a slow, shuddered breath, his mouth forming a tight 'o'. The sexual tension in the room surged like a live wire, sparking and pulsing with untamed energy. If he was lucky, he might be able to control himself enough to not rip off her clothes and take her on the restaurant table.

He decided to explore her living room, hoping it would distract him enough to calm his frazzled nerves. The room was modestly furnished and tastefully decorated, tidy but very comfortable, each piece of furniture solid and practical, yet radiating an underlying beauty that was hard to miss.

The room, he decided, was simply Scully.

He strolled to an antique roll-top desk, his fingers running along its smooth wood surface. Stacks of neatly arranged papers sat in one corner, and each cubby hole in the desk had specific contents: one held just envelopes; another, just stamps and paper clips. A place for everything, and everything in its place.

He smiled knowingly and walked away but not before bumping the stack of papers on the end, sending dozens of papers to the carpet. He quickly gathered them and tried to return them to their former order. One straggler had floated under the desk and to the back wall.

Pulling out the chair, he crawled under the desk and grabbed the renegade paper. Once he was upright again, he looked at the sheet and gasped.

He was staring at himself. A pencil sketch of his face.


Mulder's mouth gaped as his eyes followed the shadowed lines and curves of the drawing. An uncanny likeness of himself, drawn by who? Scully? Could she draw? Once he was able to pull his eyes away from the sketch itself, he saw the numbers '3/95' scribbled in the bottom corner. March _1995_? That meant...

He heard the clicking of her heels in the hallway and thought about hiding the sketch back in the pile, but his curiosity wouldn't let him. She smiled at him as she walked into the room.

"I'm flattered," he said boldly, holding the sketch next to his face.

The woman before him turned an impossibly bright shade of red, her hands even touched with a pink tint. She abruptly turned, heading to the bedroom.

"Don't." He put the paper on the desk and approached her. "This has to do with what you said when we met, doesn't it? You did this sketch."

She stopped a few steps from the bedroom entrance but kept her back to him. "Yes," she whispered. "But...it's just a coincidence."

"I don't think so. You drew this _before_ we met."

She turned to face him but kept her eyes level with his chest. "I've been having this dream once or twice a month for the past year. A man...visits me. I've never learned his name or anything about him. All I remember is his face." She must have found an added source of courage, as she looked up at him. "You...look like him. That's why I said that earlier. I thought it was you, that _he_ was you, but that's not possible. It's just a dream. Dreams aren't real."

Mulder wasn't so sure of that point. "Dreams are forward-looking, a way for us to see choices and avenues in what is to come. Maybe your mind was telling you we would meet."

"A dream can't predict the future. That's impossible."

"Is it?" He suddenly realized the purpose of his dream. All his life he searched for the truth. The truth about Samantha, the truth about government conspiracies, the truth about life from another planet. Truths that continued to elude him. Truths that consumed his entire being and eclipsed the one truth that was staring him in the face. Or staring him in the chest at the moment.

He, Fox William Mulder, was in love with the incredible woman standing before him. A simple fact but one that remained in the shadows for far too long, forced into the farthest reaches of his troubled mind by his obsession with his work. Why did he continue to deny himself this one honest, real truth? Why did he ignore the one truth that never let him down and was always by his side, selflessly searching with him despite the hounds of Hell constantly nipping at their heels? This dream was trying to force him to face this truth, to _really_ believe, and deal with it.

And deal with it he would. He'd lived his entire life believing in the fantastic. This was just one more for his record books, and one in which he would take great pleasure in believing.

He placed a finger under her chin, applying light pressure, insisting she look at him. When he finally saw her eyes, he continued.

"You're a scientist and you want proof. Well, here's your proof. You drew a face, _my_ face, on that piece of paper a year ago. And now I'm standing right in front of you." He took her hands and placed them on his chest. "I'm your proof, Dana. _I'm_ real. I believe that were brought together for a reason. Why can't you believe that, too?"

She flinched at his words, and he could see the storm brewing in her moist eyes. Her mouth opened and closed, thoughts and feelings never leaving her lips. He knew she was searching for any small thread of logic to hold onto, to steady herself, but nothing came. And nothing would. This was beyond logic, beyond the unbelievable, yet it made all the sense in the world.

Before she had a chance to back away, he lowered his lips to hers, letting all of his passion converge at that one point of contact. She whimpered but made no attempt to move. His arms encircled her in a tight embrace, pulling her against his body, which had already begun to harden. Her arms went to his neck and she threaded her fingers through his hair. The sensation of her sharp fingernails on his skin sent jolts of electricity from his brain to his feet and all parts in between.

Mulder broke the kiss to orally explore the skin on her neck and shoulder. Tiny gasps erupted from her mouth and served as added incentive for him to continue.

"We...we can't do this," she whispered, speaking with obvious difficulty. "I don't even know you. You could...ahhh...be an ax murderer or something."

He chuckled against her skin, then moved his hands to cup her face. "I promise you I am not an ax murderer. Trust me, Dana. Believe."

Mulder grabbed her lower lip with his teeth and drew it into his mouth, eliciting a low moan from her. Small hands grasped at his shoulders and she pulled herself closer to him, so close he thought they would meld into one being. He could feel himself getting painfully hard. It was going to be over in a matter of minutes if she kept grinding her hips into his groin and sighing into his mouth. His control was fading like the colors of an age-worn photograph.

As if sensing his urgency, she grabbed the lapels of his suit jacket and pulled him into the bedroom, lips still firmly attached to his. Exploring each inch of her mouth with his tongue, Mulder reveled in her taste: minty and clean with a hint of spice. Cinnamon, maybe? He decided it wasn't worth wasting brain cells figuring out the mystery flavor. He would just call it 'Scully'.

All his mind could focus on was getting the confining barriers of clothing away from their bodies so he could feel her, _really_ feel her. Feel her smooth skin against his, feel the curve and weight of her uncovered breast in his hand. Feel her against him, feel himself entering her, fully surrounded by her...

Without warning, she pulled back. "Wait. Stop."

"What?" he gasped, nearly hyperventilating.

"Uh, do you have any...you know..." She tilted her head to the side a few times, waiting for him to fill in the blanks.

It took him several seconds to catch on. "Oh. Uh...no I don't have one on me."

Condoms? In a dream? Another Mulder Fantasy first.

Her mouth formed a frown, only to have it replaced with a smile seconds later. "Oh! I almost forgot!"

She fled to the bathroom and he could hear the clattering of plastic and metal hitting the porcelain sink as she searched for the resolution to their final obstacle. A few unbearable minutes later, she walked out of the bathroom holding the square foil pouch like a trophy. Her grin lit up the room like a thousand-watt bulb.

Relief washed over him like a cool ocean wave. He reached for her, and after tossing the packet on the nightstand, she pressed her body against his, lazily dragging her hands from his abdomen up to his shoulders.

"Now, where were we?" she asked as she looked into his eyes.

"Right here," he whispered as he nipped at her chin. His hands made short order of the zipper on her dress, and he pushed the dress from her shoulders. He swallowed as he stared at the strapless emerald green bra encasing and gently lifting her breasts. His eyes continued their journey, stopping briefly at the smooth, gently curved surface of her stomach, then at the matching bikini panties. Her hips flared out to connect with shapely thighs, then tapered down into solid, contoured calves, their shape nicely accentuated by her feet being angled in three-inch black heels.

No pantyhose.

*Thank you, God.*

He looked at her face and could see apprehension in her eyes. She shifted from foot to foot, as if waiting for a report on his visual findings. A brilliant smile came across his face.

"You know, being this beautiful should be illegal," he crooned as he took her in his arms again. Her shy grin was worth the risk of sounding sappy.

Scully secretly liked sap. He'd have to file that one away for future use.

He pushed his lips to hers, demanding her response. He wasn't disappointed as her tongue dueled for dominance with his, her hands working their way underneath his jacket and pushing the material from his body. After hastily disposing of his tie, his shirt went next, as her surgeon-steady hands undid the buttons in a matter of seconds.

Mulder cursed the clasp of her bra and he heard her chuckle against the skin of his neck. He was about to give up hope when the stubborn piece of metal disengaged itself from its partner. Letting the bra fall to the ground, his hands moved to cup her, squeezing her soft mounds together and up. His thumbs flicked across the already taut peaks, causing them to pucker even more. He watched as her head fell back and a moan escaped her swollen lips.

He yearned to take one of those pinkish-brown peaks into his mouth but the height difference left them at a disadvantage. She was so sensitive, so responsive to his touch. He wanted to touch every part of her body with every part of his.

Despite the fact that her mouth was doing amazing things on his chest, he bent at the knees and scooped her up, smiling at her high-pitched yelp. After gently depositing her on the bed, he tugged at his shoes and socks, then fumbled with his belt buckle. It would have helped if he was watching what he was doing but he couldn't take his eyes off her body. Milky white skin as far as his eyes could see, interrupted only by a small scrap of emerald green silk.

She must have seen his struggle because she sat up, moving to a kneeling position in front of him. "Need some help?" It was a purr, not a question.

"Uh, yeah." He had managed to get the belt loose but allowed her to unbutton and unzip his pants. He stepped out of the pants the second they hit the floor and was left standing before her in red cotton boxers.

"Oooh, red. My favorite color." She smiled as she ran one fingernail down the length of him, the thin material failing to mask any of the feeling.

He groaned her name as her hand went underneath one leg of the boxers, her index finger lightly scraping his sac. She quickly removed her hand but her touch returned immediately as she whisked the remaining material from his body.

Painful bliss exploded in his veins as he felt her lips on his abdomen, then his thighs, then hips, always approaching but never making contact with the one part of his body straining for her attention. He groaned in frustration and thought he heard a stifled chuckle against his leg. Thankfully, she took pity on him, her tongue laving the tip of him, licking away the bead of moisture that had formed. His groan turned into an all-out growl as her hand wrapped around the base, pulling his erection away from his body and talking half of him in her mouth, sucking hard, withdrawing him then plunging him back into her throat. Again and again. Just like the dream within the dream.

It was too much. One more thrust into her mouth and he was going to explode. Literally. He grabbed her shoulders and pulled her from him. She looked up.

"Together" was all he was able to get out.

She nodded and reached for the foil pouch, ripping it open and taking the initiative by applying the condom herself, her touch deliberate and slow. Torturously slow.

Pleased with her handiwork, she shot him a deadly smile and removed her own panties, tossing them to the floor before lying back on the bed. He followed, moving over her, careful not to crush her but positioning himself for maximum contact. Feeling her heated skin against his sent another tremor through his body. He settled himself between her legs and kissed her hard, leaving no doubt how he felt. He broke the kiss, leaving them both breathing like they had just run a marathon.

"So good," she whispered. "This feels so good."

"Yesss," he hissed as he pushed himself against her entrance, the very edge of his erection slipping inside.

She groaned, her eyes flying open to meet with his. He saw something there besides passion and desire. Was it panic?

"What? What's wrong?" He pulled his hips back.

"I haven't been with anyone since Richard," she said shyly, "and, well, you're not exactly...standard issue." Her eyes traveled down his body as she spoke.

He laughed, a selfish goofy grin spreading across his lips. This was one missing aspect of his fantasies starring Dana Scully. He always thought their joining would be passionate, explosive, desperate. And silent. He never envisioned the natural wordplay or innuendo-ridden exchanges that frequented their professional life. He liked this addition to his fantasy collection. He _really_ liked it.

His silence must have heightened her concern, her eyes growing wider. "I'm not saying that's a bad thing. Not at all. It's just that I'm not sure how...flexible things are down there."

He smoothed her hair and lightly swiped his mouth across her forehead, the light scent of peaches teasing his nostrils. A loving smile replaced the playful one on his lips. "It's OK, Dana. It's been a while for me, too. We'll take it slow. Control is my middle name."

*Liar,* he chastised mentally. Control? Who was he kidding? Control wasn't even in his vocabulary anymore. In less than thirty minutes, the entire Fox Mulder lexicon had been reduced to various grunts and groans, her name, the word 'oh' and the name of a deity in whom he didn't even believe. Control was about as familiar a concept to him as childbirth. He took several mental breaths, calming his mind and body. He could, he _would_, maintain control.

He started with feather-weight kisses and flicks of his tongue on her face while his fingers twisted in her hair. He progressed slowly, his kisses eventually finding her neck and collarbone and his hands exploring her breasts. Her sighs spoke of contentment, pleasure and trust. She trusted him not to hurt her. He would make sure he didn't betray that trust.

One hand moved south, finding springy, moist curls. He groaned as he found her center, her arousal drenching his fingers, her sharp gasp tickling his ears. And that scent. The same one from the dream. Eau du Aroused Scully.

What was that word again? Oh yeah.

Control.

He kissed and laved the skin between her breasts, tasting the saltiness before taking one rosy nipple in his mouth, lightly sucking at first, then increasing pressure, basking in the rising level of her husky cries. Deciding she was adequately distracted, he pushed one finger into her heat, feeling the walls contract with his entrance. Her hips bucked against his palm. He quickly inserted a second finger and her hips lifted off the bed.

"God, Fox!"

Hearing his name in that tone, he realized control was no longer an option. The fact that she had called him by his first name barely registered, not that it mattered. He had to be inside her. This minute. No delays. Pain had become the prominent feeling emanating from his swollen groin.

"Now," she gasped, as if reading his mind. He wasn't about to argue.

His fingers slipped out of her, eliciting a groan of frustration from her lips. He moved over her, propping himself on his elbows, settling himself between her legs. He pressed the head of his erection to her entrance and waited.

"Dana, are you positive you're..."

Her hands grabbed his hips and shoved him forward, and he entered her in one abrupt thrust. Her strangled cry overpowered his shocked gasp, and he was afraid he had hurt her, but when her hips began moving beneath him he knew the cry had not been from pain. Not entirely, anyway.

Synapses created tiny explosions everywhere on his body. She surrounded him like a tight, wet vice, squeezing and pulling him into her body. His mind told him to slow his thrusts but his hips had a different agenda. His first few strokes were long and lingering, allowing her to adjust to his size and allowing him to regain some composure, but that lasted about as long as Skinner's patience. His hips involuntarily started to pump faster, pressing her harder into the mattress. Her only responses were those of encouragement, his name leaving her lips in choked gasps and muffled moans.

Her breathing quickened, bursting from her in short pants. The harder he thrusted, the rougher the timbre of her moans became. She was close. Damn good thing, because he was about to reach that point of no return himself. He thrust faster, deeper, kissing any part of her his lips could reach, nipping and sucking at her soft skin. He could feel her contracting around him, and within seconds, strong teeth bit into his shoulder and a muffled scream vibrated against his skin.

The bite finished him off. One long, deep pump of his hips and he was soaring, pure ecstasy flowing through his veins. He pulsed inside her, feeling her contracting muscles milking and draining him, extending his pleasure until he was positive he would black out.

His lower body collapsed onto hers but he still had enough strength to keep his upper body supported by his arms. He opened his eyes to find flushed creamy skin glistening with sweat, red swollen lips and the most piercing sea-green eyes he had ever seen. Her lips parted and a moist pink tongue darted out. He couldn't resist dipping his mouth to hers and retrieving that tongue with his teeth, pulling it between his lips. She laughed, a bubbly giggling sound that proved contagious. He broke the kiss.

"That tickles," she said between breaths.

"I'll have to remember that," he teased.

Executing a move that defied both logic and gravity, he held her warm body to his while quickly flipping them over, never breaking the connection of their lower bodies.

"Agent Mulder, I'm impressed," she said with a husky laugh. "Is that something you learned at the FBI Academy?"

"Nah. Boy Scouts."

Her smile twisted into a yawn, and she placed her head on his chest, rubbing her cheek against the smattering of wiry hair. His hands stroked her back, settling in a gentle rhythm. A contented sigh rumbled through her body, and Mulder could feel her entire body relax in his arms. Within minutes, her breathing leveled out and he could tell she had drifted to sleep.

Mulder felt his eyelids grow heavy and try as he might, he couldn't resist letting them close. As he reluctantly let sleep overtake him, he prayed that when he awakened, Dana Scully would still be stretched across him like a warm, soft, angelic blanket.

**

** x ** ** x **

PART 5 ** -

"What kind of dreams were they?"

He brought her hand to his lips, kissing each finger as he waited for her answer, the need to touch her overpowering all other senses. Their bodies sated, they had slept for over two hours. The light touch of her hand on his cheek awakened him. Waves of relief and contentment flowed over him when he opened his eyes and saw her beautiful face smiling at him.

The sex had been, well, incredible. Mind-blowing. Better than any fantasy he'd had with her in the co-starring role. They had joined not only physically, but spiritually as well. He and Scully had been close, almost from day one, linked by a mental and intellectual bond that was as unexplainable as it was unconditional. Adding the level of a physical coming-together only heightened his emotions for the phenomenon that was Dana Scully.

If all of this was a dream, he prayed he would never awaken. He was satiated: mind, body, psyche and spirit.

"What dreams?" she asked innocently.

"You know what dreams. The dreams with me...uh, the man from the sketch." He felt her shift against him, fidgeting like a nervous child. He lifted his head to look at her, her hair splayed across his chest and her face out of his line of sight.

"Dana?"

She shifted again, moving her head away from him and he took the opportunity to cup her face with his palm. Only then did she look toward him and he saw the red flush of her skin, a flush not as a result of their lovemaking.

He bit his lower lip as he realized why she hadn't answered him. "Ah, _those_ kind of dreams. There's no reason to be embarrassed, Dana. We all have erotic dreams."

*Some more than others,* he mused silently.

"I know," she whispered. "I just don't want you to think that's the reason why I...why we..."

"Got horizontal?" he chided.

"No," she said with a weak laugh. "Why we made love."

His teasing grin softened and he tangled his fingers in her hair, pulling her close. "I like the sound of that."

"So do I," she said before his mouth claimed hers in an ardent kiss. He pulled her atop his body and continued to kiss her with a ferocity that would surely leave them both with bruised lips. The passion he felt for this woman had no end, no boundaries. Despite the fact that their previous joining had drained him of what he thought was every ounce of sexual energy left in his body, he could feel himself stirring under her soft weight.

He rolled them over, pinning her to the bed as he kissed and laved her throat and collarbone. Sharp fingernails dug into his back, pressing with a force almost strong enough to pierce his skin, the feeling both painful and erotic.

"Wait, I need to tell you...ahhh..." Her voice trailed off in a moan as he took a nipple in his mouth, lightly biting and pulling. Her back arched off the bed as she pulled him closer.

"No...no, wait. Ahhh...please. Fox."

This time, her use of his first name jarred him. How did she know that would get his attention? He lifted his head from her chest and looked at her, the blue-green in her eyes barely visible around enlarged pupils.

"When I said I had one of those," she said, pointing to the ripped foil package, "I meant it. I only have _one_."

"Just one?" he asked in a whimper.

She nodded, a sad smile on her lips. "I normally don't keep them around, but that one..."

He waited for her to continue but she remained silent, mentally pulling away from him, her eyes creating a canyon of distance between them. He lifted a hand to her face, gently caressing her cheek. The sensation of him touching her skin brought her back, her eyes focusing on him once again.

"That condom was a gag gift on Valentine's Day. It was left on my desk at work." She smiled bitterly. "I'd had a meeting earlier that day with the sheriff. I wondered why his men were so amused when I left."

Mulder closed his eyes, his head shaking in disbelief. "Dana, I'm so sorry. Adams didn't have anything to do with it, did he?"

She snorted. "Adams is a wimp. He talks the talk and walks the walk until I come into the room and then he's all smiles and compliments. He kisses my ass because he knows I'm good at what I do, but he has to fit in with 'the guys' so he plays the game."

Mulder wrote himself a mental note to kick Adams' ass up on his shoulders anyway, just for going along with the harassment. He chuckled internally with the image his mind supplied, then immediately returned his attentions to the remarkable woman beneath him.

His hand brushed invisible strands of hair from her face. "You, Dana Scully, are an amazing woman. You are beautiful, intelligent and strong. You work against the odds to make a difference, to help people. I can't see how anyone, male or female, could have anything but the utmost respect for you."

Tears welled in her eyes, but he knew she wouldn't allow them to fall. Just the fact that they were there was enough to send a surge of pride and love up his spine and into his heart.

"Thank you," she said in a ragged whisper. She followed up with a slow, passionate kiss, telling him how she felt in a way no words could express. She broke the kiss but she found other patches of his skin to caress with her lips.

He chuckled and reluctantly stopped her by cupping her face with his hands. "Hey, I think I need to pay a visit to your friendly, neighborhood drug store."

"Why? There are many ways to make love, you know." Her sly smile sent a tremor of desire through his body, manifesting itself in his groin.

"This is true." He kissed her forehead, then each eye. "But I don't think I could stop there."

"Stop where?" Her smile widened as she waited for his explanation.

"I plan on making love to you, Dana, in every way imaginable, with every part of my body. I want to spend the rest of the evening making you scream my name." His own smile brightened when he felt her squirm under him, his words having the desired effect on her. "Just lying here with you excites me more than I ever thought possible, but the feeling of being inside you when you go over that edge is something I want to feel tonight as many times as my body will permit."

She opened her mouth to speak but words failed her. He didn't need the words anyway. Her eyes, deepening in color as he spoke, told him everything he needed to know. He gave her a tender kiss, then rolled off of her, coming to a sitting position on the side of the bed. He found his boxers and pulled them on.

"I'll get some food on the way back. Any preferences?"

"There's a good deli up the road and it's open until midnight. Their club sandwich is the best in the county," she replied with a yawn.

He nodded. "I thought I might get a change of clothes from my hotel room on the way as well."

"And who said you're invited to stay the night?"

He turned to see a playful smile on her lips. Putting on his best forlorn look, he jutted out his bottom lip. "Well, if that's the way you want it..." His words were cut off by her grabbing his head and pulling him down to her as she kissed him fervently.

"Does that answer your question?" she asked in a whisper when they finally disengaged their lips.

"Oh yeah." A goofy grin replaced the mock pout on his lips, and he finished buttoning his shirt and slipped into his wrinkled trousers. Bending down for one quick kiss, he ran a hand down her body, stopping just above the nest of curls below her abdomen.

"Don't move. Don't get dressed. And don't fall asleep," he chastised lightly.

She gave him a mock salute. "Yes, sir!"

He replied with a laugh as he tucked his shirt into the pants. Deciding it wasn't worth searching for his tie, he grabbed his suit jacket and started out the room. Her voice pulled him back, her words reaching out, turning him around to face her one more time.

"Mulder...Fox, I don't know why this...we...happened, but I'm glad it did. I don't know where this will lead us or how we can make it work but I want to try. You asked me to believe. I do now." Her voice cracked on the last few words.

"Dana..." His whisper barely made it past his lips before a lump in his throat caught him by surprise and choked off the remaining words. He nodded once, then left the room before his own tears could fall.


As Mulder drove to the drug store, the song 'The Impossible Dream' ran through his head. What he was experiencing _was_ The Impossible Dream. Adopting his partner's skepticism, he wondered how it could be possible to be dreaming, fall asleep in that dream not once but twice, and awaken still in a dream state. It shouldn't be possible. He had never heard of such a case, documented or hearsay. The human mind didn't work that way and he knew it. This was more than just a dream.

He pulled into the parking lot of a 24-hour pharmacy. Exiting the car, he walked to the entrance and peered through the door. At the check- out stand he could see a familiar face: Agent Adams, chatting it up with one of the uniformed officers from the murder scene.

Mulder quickly jogged back to the car, hoping Adams hadn't spotted him. The last thing Dana Scully needed was to have Adams spreading around rumors that the man who had 'melted Dr. Ice' was seen at the drug store buying a box of condoms. As much as Mulder would love to see the look on Adams' face, he knew it would create nothing but more harassment for Scully...Dana.

He still had a hard time thinking about her as 'Dana'. Dana the woman, as opposed to Scully the FBI agent. He always knew there was a difference but the 'woman' part was blurred because of their work. The past twenty-four hours helped bring that aspect of his partner into focus.

Buildings and greenery turned into swatches of color from a paintbrush as Mulder lead the Taurus down the two-lane highway at speeds well over the legal limit. Within minutes he spotted another all-night pharmacy and quickly made his purchase.

Mulder pulled away from the pharmacy and continued down the same highway until he reached the decrepit sign announcing Rainbow's End Pass. His foot involuntarily let up on the gas, but he forced it down and continued over the bridge. He knew he would need a spinal adjustment after the jarring from taking the bridge too fast but he didn't want to waste any time. Maybe Dana would give him a massage when he returned. His face lit up with a wicked smile.

The Rainbow's End Motel was a few miles from the bridge and once he arrived at his room, he gathered a pair of jeans, a clean t-shirt and boxers. His eyes briefly fell upon his shaving kit. He knew they would have to split up in the morning, her going to the coroner's office and him going with Adams to search out leads. He could return to his room to shower in the morning, but visions of showering with her, their wet bodies colliding and sliding together, flared images in his brain and a fire down below.

He grabbed the shaving kit and ran out the door.

Once he pulled back onto the highway, his mind tossed more questions at him. How was this dream possible? How was he able to sleep during a dream but never fully awaken? How long would he be able to sustain this dream state? Would he be able to remember just bits and pieces of the dream or every tiny detail when he finally awakened? The beginning pains of a headache started to insinuate their way into his head.

Later. He would find all of the answers to his questions later. Right now, he had a very beautiful, very sexy and very naked woman waiting for him to return. His eyes found the dashboard clock. 11:21pm. He was making good time and if his luck continued, he would be back in Dana's arms before midnight.

As the Taurus started over Rainbow's End Pass, Mulder knew his luck had run out. Directly in front of his path stood two bright orbs, placed several feet apart.

Headlights.

"No."

He slammed on the brakes and threw the Taurus in reverse.

"No!"

He floored the accelerator, the car jerking with the backward motion. The speedometer crept higher but not fast enough. The lights became larger and brighter as they approached, the glare burning Mulder's eyes.

"No, goddammit!"

Flashes of Dana Scully slammed into his head. Her fiery hair, her devastating smile, her voice husky with desire, her body writhing beneath his...

*I need more time! Give us more time, please! DON'T MAKE ME GO BACK!!*

The lights closed the remaining distance in seconds.

"NOOOO!!"

Tears streamed down Fox Mulder's face as he waiting for the lights to descend and surround him with illuminated darkness.


Mulder's eyes fluttered open, a heavy wave of nausea churning his stomach. He swallowed bile and looked out the windshield. A slight drizzle dotted the windshield with tiny droplets of water.

He looked at the passanger seat. Empty. No jeans, no t-shirt, no shaving kit. No paper bag containing a box of condoms.

Running a hand over his face, he didn't need to look in the rearview mirror. He knew he would find the old Fox Mulder staring at him. He knew where he was.

Welcome back to reality, Agent Mulder.

His mind numb, Mulder put the car in gear and headed toward the Rainbow's End Motel. It was a dream, nothing more than an elaborate, complex, extremely vivid dream. A small part of his brain was thankful for the fact that he remembered every detail about the dream. Another part of his brain cursed his photographic memory.

Without thinking, he pulled into the motel parking lot and settled the car into a parking spot directly in front of his room. He looked to his left left, seeing the darkened room adjacent to his.

Mulder sighed and exited the Taurus. He dug in his pants pocket for his room key but came up empty. He tried the other pocket with no success. Both hands went into the pockets of his suit coat and one came up the winner.

He pulled the key from the pocket and a flash of gold caught his eye. Something had fallen out of the pocket when he extracted the key. Because of the dim lighting in the parking lot, he was barely able to find the object on the pavement when he bent to retrieve it. He stood and held the object in his hand while walking to the door to his room.

He gasped as the light in front of the door revealed the object to him. A bracelet, delicate in design, exquisite in craftsmanship. A tiny braided chain of gold with a charm dangling from the middle. A charm in the shape of a four-leafed clover.

"How?" An exhalation more than a question.

He could no longer breathe, let alone think of how or why this bracelet was in his pocket. Had it come loose while she was removing his jacket? Or before, when they were kissing? If that was the case, how could it have been a dream?

Was he still dreaming now?

Dizziness swept over him, nearly sending him to the ground. He held his hand out, bracing himself against the motel room door until the severity of it passed. His eyes refused to focus completely and he fumbled with the room key. He got the door open on the third try. The room was awash in dim light, the lamp by the bed covering less than half of the room's area.

As quietly as he could, Mulder walked to the adjoining door, which was slightly ajar. He pushed the door aside, opening it further. Stepping into the room, he saw Scully on her bed. She was curled in a fetal position facing toward from him, her lips slightly parted, her breath steady and shallow. He spotted her gun on the dresser and her laptop sitting on the table by the window.

It was Scully. Agent Dana Scully. His partner. His partner, _not_ his lover.

Another round of dizziness slammed into his head and he was barely able to stumble through the adjoining door and to his bed before nearly blacking out. His eyes closed immediately though he willed himself to stay awake. He needed to know. Was he really awake or still dreaming? Was it live or was it Memorex?

As he started to slip into unconsciousness, he thought of Dana. The way her body fit perfectly against his, the way her desire-deepened voice caressed his name with love and affection, the way his body came alive as he touched her in places he never thought she would allow.

With his remaining strength, Mulder opened his eyes and turned his head toward the door separating them. He hoped Scully was having sleeping soundly. He didn't think he ever would again.

THE END  

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