Title: After the Rain
Author: Jaime Lyn
Email: leiaj@bellsouth.net
Category:  UST/MSR total vignette/ short story here.  No spoilers.  No worries.
Disclaimer:  Ok, that’s it.  I’ve had it with the disclaimer stuff.  So here it is:  Mulder and Scully are MINE, you  hear me?? MINE, MINE, MINE… alright, so they’re not, but I wanted to say that anyhow.

Archival notes:  Yes, anywhere you like, just email me to let me know, so that I can go and visit and make sure my story is well taken care of, fed and cuddled….

Authors notes:  This story came from one too many days of being stuck inside due to horrible weather, being rained out at Universal Studios, and having to drive 2mph on the turnpike because I couldn’t see the road beyond the monsoon. Anyone who’s ever been to Florida during the summer knows what I’m talking about. Also—I might warn----this is fluff---slightly angsty fluff in some parts---but fluff all the same.  There is no X  File in here to speak of, just Mulder and Scully. So if that’s what you want, that’s what you get. (Shippers, raise your hands!)

For Nickie, my inspiration as always, when it comes to writing, and Jen, my inspiration whenever it comes to Mulder and Scully.   Also to the girls at Gertie’s board, and to the regulars at  my page.  Your support always gets me through writer’s block!  Thanks guys!

<<<<< Feedback is of course, gratefully cuddled and replied to at leiaj@bellsouth.net  >>>>>>>

Chances are you'll find me somewhere on your road tonight.
Seems I always end up driving by.
Ever since I've known you,
It just seems you're on my way.
All the rules of Logic don't apply.

--------> Chances Are,  Bob Seager and Martina McBride

After The Rain
By Jaime Lyn

The pavement was damp; gutters completely soaked and filled to the brim with murky puddles, stationary, reflecting the light of the street’s only working lamppost.  The drains beneath the puddles had long been filled and spent from the lengthy thunder showers that had encompassed the area within hours, making driving nearly impossible.

He had not gotten in his car for that very reason, had in fact, waited what seemed like forever until the rain stopped, until he got up and left the confines of his living room, still unsure as to where he wanted to end up.  Or even what he was going to do until he got there.

But that was hours ago, though the air still smelled of rain and the afterglow of humidity.

Lord knew he hadn’t planned on ending up there, hadn’t anticipated even wanting to go until the last second.  Until the cab had neatly pulled up beside him at a leisurely pace, pulling over for a short coffee break or probably a donut or two.  And he repeatedly rationalized that he would have kept on running too, had he not heard the gray, t-shirt-clad driver mumble the words, “Georgetown, yeah…” into his cellular phone.  So the words, he had swiftly decided, gave him the idea, for certainly, it had not been there before.  No, certainly, it had not.

Yeah, sure, he thought, and ran, huffing and puffing some more until he reached the tree on the corner.  Self delusion is a fine art, he told himself, a sometimes difficult and involved process, although it’s one easily mastered by the stubborn and by those knee deep in denial.

He bent over and caught his breath.

Normally, he realized, such mundane thoughts on such dead topics would not interest him.  He had no life.  Ok, so he knew that.  He had known that for a very long time.  And  if he DID, by chance, have any sort of existence whatsoever, it revolved around his work and his partner. That was a truth he had accepted as gospel long ago. Truth, trust, X Files and Dana Scully.  It was that and nothing more, nothing more than the monotonous drone of waking up in the morning and shuffling into work like a dutiful, fanatic, workaholic.

Or so he had continually reminded himself, at least fifty dozen times, by the time he made his fourth trip around the rain slicked pavement.

He would have never ended up there if he hadn’t decided to go running.

Right, right, his brain sarcastically supplied.

Truth be told, he lived about fifteen minutes from her apartment if he drove, twenty if traffic was really horrendous, twenty five if he took a cab, considering the tricks cab drivers pulled these days to up the fares by an arm and a leg. Tonight his ride had cost him twenty three and change, and that travesty of capitalism was even after the rain, at night, with no traffic, but plenty of what the driver called “weather-induced-detours.”  Yeah, sure they were.  And he was having an affair with his goldfish.

The walk towards the building, passing the familiar shrubbery and ficus trees, stepping quietly up the stairs, traversing the long hallway towards the elevator and afterwards, when he ran weary hands through his damp hair, standing inside the small compartment, passed as a slow motion fog.  It wasn’t unintentional, he realized faintly, yet it was done and it wasn’t intentional, either.  It was more autopilot than anything else, more trance like and unconscious than thought out.

It wasn’t until he was actually at her door and knocking that he realized he had no explanation whatsoever for being there. He had no alibi and no reasonable excuses that would pass for something she would believe.  Yet he could not stop himself, either.   And he knew he should.  He KNEW.

But knowing and caring were too completely different subsets within the game of denial.  He knew that too.

At first, he was positive she wasn’t home.  He didn’t know exactly why he had thought it, but he was almost positive for a split second.  So positive was he, that he crept forward until his ear found the door, lodging itself against the slightly dulled, white-painted wood.  He waited for a sound, for the faint warbling of the TV or perhaps her stereo, but there was nothing. Nothing for that entire split second he leaned against the door, wishing against his futile sense of self denial that she was home.  No one, he thought, sadly.  He closed his eyes then and pulled away, perfectly prepared to go back in the direction he had come, cursing himself for his stupid presumptuousness. Like Scully would be around tonight, he thought, just waiting for him, just sitting there with nothing better to do on a Saturday night than to spend it at home.

Not everyone was busy playing the game of self delusion, trying to run from their fears after the hard rain.  No, certainly, they were not.

Suddenly, Mulder wished he had the common sense to go to a bar, to drink his vices away to the bottom of a shot glass like other normal pathetic losers.  At least then he would be able catch the end of the game, he thought, and perhaps the night would not be a complete failure.

A short stretch, neck crack and sigh later, Mulder turned, ready to make his way back down the dimly lit hallway.  His drooping eyes found the wall, and he watched as the yellow hall lights played shadows upon the light gray walls.  His legs protested at first, wanting apparently, for him to settle his tired ass down somewhere.  But he shook his head and found the strength to begin walking.  One step at first, then another, and another, slow and steady, until a click sounded behind him and a voice penetrated his post-jog haze.


His head turned.  Their gazes connected and there she was, her slight, slender frame silhouetted in her apartment doorway by the back light of her living room television set.  Her back was against the doorjamb, legs clad in only white sweatpants, torso and shoulders engulfed by an oversized navy T-shirt, her short cropped, auburn hair pressed against the molding.  Her arms were crossed lazily over her chest, one eyebrow raised firmly over her clear blue eyes, asking him before he could even get the words out.

‘what are you doing here?’ she asked without words.

Mulder shrugged a sheepish shoulder at her and cleared his throat.

“Sorry,” he managed, looking down at his feet for a moment. “I didn’t mean to interrupt… anything…”

He watched as she frowned at that, looking back into her dimmed apartment and then at him, as if perhaps his brain had been removed and replaced with Cheez Whiz when he wasn’t looking.

“You didn’t,” she replied, by way of an arm wave, “I was just…”  The sentence trailed off unfinished and unnessesary, and Dana Scully, as usual, had no use for unpractical conversation.  She stared him up and down, taking in his ragged appearance from head to toe, and asked, “Mulder… is everything alright?  You look like---“

“Running,” he supplied, still standing in the hallway.

She nodded slowly. “Oh,” was all she said.

They stood there for a moment then, neither speaking, neither moving, and Mulder let his eyes wax poetical on the way her hair shone stark and red against the pale white of her skin, the way the TV’s background glare made her seem ghostly and small in the large doorway.  Then his gaze followed the line of her jaw down to her lips as she licked them and asked, “You coming in or planning on turning my hallway into a rest stop?”

He grinned.  “Do I get free food?”

She rolled her eyes and reached out a slender arm, ushering him into the warmth and safety of her apartment.  She shut the door behind them and turned, leaning her back against it as her fair expression turned quizzical.  He couldn’t say that he blamed her much for looking confused.  Rarely did he come to see her without reason, and even rarer was the occasion that he did come without reasons that weren’t purely selfish.

“Seriously, Mulder,” she sighed, licking her lips again.  That was the second time tonight.  Briefly, he wondered if that was some sort of nervous habit he had never picked up on.  “Is everything alright?” she asked, again.  THAT, he knew, WAS out of nervous habit.  Whenever he made her nervous, she asked him that, and she did it so frequently it became out of habit.

Mulder shrugged.

“Fine,” he answered, turning to stare at the TV, wondering at her choice of late night programming.  The bluish glow of the light cast strange patterns on the stripes of her couch.

“After the rain I decided to go for a run,” he said, by way of explanation.  “And when I found myself here I thought, when in Rome…”

Scully frowned at that and pushed away from the doorframe.  From the look on her face and the way she spoke volumes without moving her mouth, he knew she figured that he was probably  full of shit.  And most likely, she was pretty close to the mark if that was the case, because he was, in fact, pretty full of shit.

Yeah, sure he had decided to run, but then again, he had also decided to take a cab into Georgetown on a rainy Saturday, for little reason other than he felt an odd desire to see her.   He was in the neighborhood because he had spent twenty three lousy dollars to get that way.  The reason why, exactly, still eluded him.

“Mulder, your neighborhood isn’t exactly in running distance of my neighborhood,” she called his bluff.  “Which is why they call your neighborhood Arlington and my neighborhood Georgetown.”

At that she just stopped and just looked at him, waiting for him to explain himself further.   Frankly though, he had nothing to say to her, nothing reasonable that would come out right, that is, and nothing that would easily explain why he desired to just stand there and stare at her.  The truth of the matter was that he didn’t understand it himself, and even if his subconscious mind knew more than his conscious mind did, it certainly was of no help to him now.  For the barest of split seconds, he wondered whether that was the curse of unrequited love, or whether it was fear of rejection.

But then the self delusion game started up again, and he reminded himself that love was not allowed in his equation, his spartan, workaholic life.  He reminded himself that Scully was his partner, not an object of ridiculous romantic fancy or food for his starving heart.

Yet his eyes still wondered at the way her hair fell into her blue gaze, and his hands longed to brush it away.  Damn it, he thought.

Surreptitiously, he decided to change the subject.  His head bobbed in the direction of the television set.  “The Exorcist, Scully?” he asked, raising an eyebrow at her choice in movies. “Why, I never knew you’d be so inclined.”

Scully forced back a smile and shook her head.  She wandered past him down the hall, apparently realizing that inquiries about his reasons for being there would be met with equal evasiveness.  If she didn’t ask, then he wouldn’t have to tell, and even if she did ask, he had no answers to give.

“Hey Schu---“ The room disappeared and he halted his sentence when something pummeled him in the face.  It landed square on his head and hung over his ears, soft and limp.  He pulled it away and clutched it in his hands, bunching the terrycloth with a wry look across his features.

“Dry yourself off,” Scully ordered, bypassing him again in those huge sweats of hers on her way over to the couch.  She plopped down and turned to face him, leaning her head on her hands so that her hair fell like a curtain over them.  “Then you can sit,” she went on, “but right now, you’re a mess.”

He grinned.  “Who said I was going to sit, Scully?”

She rolled her eyes.  “Then you’re leaving.”

She looked positively annoyed, the way her lips quirked when she spoke to him, as if the mere action was tolling on her.  The way her eyes screamed exasperation.  Underneath, however, he saw the makings of a Scully-smile that told him she would have it—him--- no other way.  Or at least, he hoped she would have it no other way.  He didn’t know any other way.

“I didn’t say that,” he replied, rubbing the towel over his unruly brown locks.  “I just said----“

“Sit or leave, Mulder,” came the brusque reply, as Scully turned around on her couch.  The back of her head blocked the light from the TV and suddenly the room seemed darker.  “Or tell me what’s going on with you, why you somehow found yourself ‘in the neighborhood.’  Those are your options and considering that I’m not on the clock  and this is my apartment, they’re not negotiable.”

Mulder blinked a few times to let her words sink in.  Something was wrong with him, he thought.  What was wrong with him? It was all so strange.  He honestly didn’t know.  It seemed that nothing was wrong, so long that he was standing there in her living room, watching the TV splay across the couch, making it seem as if she were a ghostly figure in the darkness.  She was there, and that was enough.  Most of the time, anyway, it was enough.

Her presence was insanely reassuring, even to the point of him wanting to sit there with her and just stare, to wonder what she would look like if he touched her cheek or held her hand.   Would she close her eyes or watch him watch her?  Would her lips part?  Would her breathing catch?

That was all the wondering he ever did.

Pathetic, in that it was almost like a thirteen year old kid, fantasizing about the babysitter.  To imagine himself kissing her would not only be a gross injustice to the sensation of the real experience, it would also be an unrealized dream.  A never-ending circle, in other words.  He could never imagine kissing her, for he knew it would be wrong to think of her on such a purely physical level.  But at the same time, the part of him that looked at her a little too long, that touched her a little too much, couldn’t help wondering why not, and when?

The ‘why not?’ he knew the answer to.  The ‘when?’ was a rhetorical question.

Mulder tossed the towel aside, letting it fall aimlessly onto one of Scully’s shiny dining room chairs.  His sense of order, space and ‘a place for everything and everything in its place’ was slightly less refined than hers.  He had a feeling that it drove her crazy more often than she would like to admit.

“Mulder, you’re picking that up and hanging it in the bathroom before you leave.”

He sighed.  The woman had eyes in the back of her head, he thought.  And on the side and on the top and…. Well, she just always knew.  Somehow.   Maybe she was getting a little more bold in admitting his annoying habits or maybe she was just now getting good at it.

Slowly, Mulder made his way over to the couch and sat himself down, situating his arms over the edge of the opposite side, his feet kicking off his shoes as his legs bunched up beneath him.  He leaned back into the support cushions and felt Scully’s gaze on his.  She wasn’t speaking but she was looking at him, and he didn’t have to see her to know she was trying to come up with something he wouldn’t be able to shrug off.  Thus far, he had shrugged off every reasonable question she’d thrown his way.  Sometimes he wondered why she even put up with him or bothered asking, considering he never knew what to say.  Maybe it was because she knew he couldn’t help not being able to say it.

“I thought you didn’t believe in the supernatural,” Mulder finally said, breaking the silence like a knife through a can.

Scully leaned into her side of the couch and shifted her position to meet his gaze, leaning her head on her hands.  “Just because I enjoy watching a fictional depiction of supernatural practices doesn’t mean I believe in the actual practice itself,” she said.

Mulder raised a wry eyebrow. “And that’s not a cry for help?”

Scully stared at him deadpan.  “You’re a cry for help,” she muttered.

She turned back to the TV for an instant then and watched it expressionless, as the characters moved from one scene to the next.  Her body was still turned in, facing his, and her head still rested upon her hands like a weary child, deprived of sleep. He wondered when the last time she slept was.

Mulder, for his part, stared past the TV and found the half covered window, above her computer desk, as the picture from the movie got lighter and he could make out the rest of the room.  The window pane outside was mottled slightly from wayward drops of water that had landed and dripped down slowly to the street below.

“It must have begun to rain again,” he murmured, staring out towards the window.  He sighed and watched the droplets, so like tears, bump and collide with each other.

“Mulder, why are you here?” Scully finally asked.  She stared at him and he stared back.

Such a loaded question, he thought.   He realized it before he even turned to face her.  Why am I here?

He sometimes wondered that about her; why she was here.  Or why she stayed,  that is.  Why she stayed with him.  Why she didn’t run off and become a doctor, when lord knows it was probably healthier to do so.

He wondered why sometimes, he just couldn’t keep his mind from drifting, even when she was talking to him, lecturing him on something or other.  He wondered why he thought of touching her or holding her.  Why he thought about it so often, unable to avoid the treacherous nature of his own mind.

It had never been hard like this before----he thought----to keep the two of them at arms length.  He had convinced himself that it would never and could never be so, a kiss between them, a moment shared and a love admitted.  He made himself believe that it was not a love he felt, rather a trust and faith, a shared passion that overflowed into a lonely lifestyle.

But then, that was just another bullshit excuse to throw into the void.

As a hunter for the truth and a knower of such things, he knew that he loved her.  He knew it and forced it into the recesses of his mind so many times he had lost count. Because Love and Dana Scully were never allowed in the same sentence. And, as a winner at the game of self denial, he convinced himself that it was wrong anyway.  False.  Misguided.

So why was he here?

He still didn’t know.

“I told you, I was just running, Scully.  I got restless.”

It was a feeble excuse and he knew it.  Outside, he could hear the pitter patter of rain beating against the window, and he could only guess that a squall line was piercing through the relative quiet of the night. His ears homned in on the sounds it made and suddenly it seemed much louder than before. Like a hum.  A deep, low, hum.

She sighed. “Mulder, that’s---”

“Have you ever really listened to a thunderstorm, Scully?”

A frown creased her face and she furrowed a brow, puzzled by the interruption.  Her mouth opened and closed in confusion.  Obviously, she was puzzled by this derailment in their conversation.

“I don’t mean like hearing it,” Mulder went on, not really sure where he was going with this, but needing to ramble.  “Anyone can hear it.  Anyone does. I mean really listening to it. Watching it and listening…”

Scully shook her head .  “What?”

Mulder leaned in farther towards her and looked down for a moment.  Why was he here?  It played over and over again in his head as he spoke and tried to run around the subject.

“Have you ever stood by the window and watched it?” he asked.  “A thunderstorm, that is.  Have you ever allowed the scientist in you to do battle with the catholic theology, wondering what makes it pour when it does, even though there are weather patterns, fronts, and ocean currents predicting everything?  I heard once about this belief that the tears of God…”

He trailed off, not feeling the need to continue the sentence.  Scully took a breath and did not speak for a moment.  Her legs shifted and she pulled them underneath her, watching him intently with her blue eyes, framed by dark auburn lashes.  He wasn’t exactly sure how to read her, but at least she wasn’t kicking him out. The thought relieved him greatly.

“Oh brother,” she finally managed, her jaw moving up and down upon her hands.  “This isn’t the speech where you tell me you’re going to leave the FBI to become a meteorologist, is it?”

He shot her a half smile, silently regarding the quip.  He couldn’t tell if he was scaring her or confusing her, or maybe a little of both.  He wasn’t even sure how he felt about either one, except that he was sick of not knowing why he was here or why she was here either.

“I’ve wondered sometimes, yes,” she admitted after another moment.  “When I was a child and my mother told me that God made the rain, I wondered.  I wondered why God would want it to rain when I wanted to go outside and play.”  She smiled half heartedly and finished, “Of course when I got older it became harder and harder to reconcile my theology with what I knew of science.”

Mulder  nodded.

Some part of him was starting to get the feeling that he was trying to tell her something completely different, but that part of him was also the part that claimed to be his subconscious.  And though he was a well trained psychologist, he never could decipher what he meant from what he was really trying to say, these days.  Lines were blurred half the time, fuzzy, and often, he wondered why he never crossed any of them.  He broke so many other rules, so many other times, but the one concerning Scully… that one was gold.  Sacred… wasn’t it?

“I’ve always wondered why it rains when it’s not particularly threatening…” he mused.

Scully nodded, silent.  Either she was too confused to care or she was actually interested in the conversation.  Either way, Mulder controlled the forum.

“I always wondered why lightning got to come first…”

Scully furrowed a brow at that and frowned, starting, “Mulder, lightning always comes first because thunder is actually the sound of electricity breaking the sound barrier.  Theoretically speaking, without lightning, there would be no thunder.”

Mulder took in a breath and nodded at that, understanding the science behind the words, but suddenly realizing that there was an entire sub-conversation beneath the context.  Again the question flashed in his mind, why am I here?

“Lightning doesn’t exist without thunder,” he murmured, staring intently at her.  He nodded again and ventured, “an equal partnership?”

She shrugged.  The TV, although not muted, seemed eerily silent background noise against their conversation.  The half-light emanating from the bluish tinge cast shadows and ivory flashes upon both of their faces.  Mulder gently edged closer while Scully’s eyes seemed to darken in the oppressive dimness of the room.  She looked deep in thought and Mulder desperately prayed that this was a good thing.  He had no clue where he was going with this, though he knew what he wanted the end result to be.

He knew he wanted to kiss her.  Badly.

“But one is the direct cause of the other,” she at last countered, watching him with those darkened blue eyes of hers. “That’s not exactly a model for equality, if you ask me.”

Mulder swallowed. He leaned back and considered that.

“So then you’re saying you don’t think there’s a partnership in the equation,” he said.

Both of Scully’s copper eyebrows raised at him and she frowned, seeming to lose herself in thought again.

“No,” she sighed, leaning forward on her elbows, “You misconstrued what I said.  I said that the relationship itself didn’t sound equal, not that the relationship as a whole could not be considered a partnership.   Partnerships can consist of a variety of factors, Mulder, from cause and effect to action versus reaction.  But that alone doesn’t necessarily mean they’re equal.  It just means that they exist in tangent; a symbiotic relationship of sorts.”

He smiled a small, half grin.

She was always the voice of reason, he silently mused.  Always the practical thinker, Scully was. Always an explanation and a reason for everything, as far as she was concerned.  Even when the topics she discussed turned trivial and completely mundane…

He forced back a sigh.
His point, he realized, was starting to wane.  Exceptionally fast. Vaguely, he knew that he was losing his train of ideas and his last nerves would certainly go down the tunnel right along with it.

Mulder took a breath and started, “Ok, I get that, Scully, but if it’s like you said, that lightning could not strike without breaking the sound barrier---which you’ve already told me is the origin of thunder--- then because of that law, lightning would never be able to strike without thunder directly following it, correct? Every action requires an equal but opposite reaction, like you mentioned.  Partnerships are the same way.  So wouldn’t that, in fact, be an equal balance?  One alone could not exist without its partner.  The need for one would be just as great as the need for the other.”

Her eyes began to cloud and for the moment, she considered him.  He wasn’t exactly sure which part of the conversation she was considering, but the look on her face told him she was considering it, just the same.  He studied her foggy expression, the way her upper teeth bit down on her lower lip periodically when she thought, and he took a long, deep breath. He watched the way her tongue sporadically wet her lips between speaking and thinking.

Why not now? He wondered, for what must have been the hundredth time in one night.  Why not kiss her?  Why NOT?  Why not, indeed.  He knew why not, certainly he knew very well ‘why not,’ but it was more a matter of caring about ‘why not’ than knowing it outright.

Damn it, he silently cursed.  Just once, just one time, one lonely, guarded time, he wanted to kiss her.    He still wasn’t sure exactly why he was here, but he thought that maybe, just maybe, this was as good a reason as any.  Maybe somehow, in some way, his brain rationalized, he had known that it was time.  It was time to break that line.  Time to take that eventual step, and if not now, then when?  Never?

They say, after all, that there’s a time for everything, he thought.  Growth and change came from knowing when to act upon that time, right?  He could only hope that he wasn’t reading her wrong, or making the biggest mistake of not only his career, but his entire life.

If she left him, he didn’t know what he would do.

Except that he knew he would no longer be here.  And she would no longer be here, either. They’d be floating, neither here nor there, because like she said, lightning can’t exist without thunder.  And thunder would be nothing without lightning.

“Mulder,” she managed, her voice small, her eyes half lidded and gazing at him. “Why are you here?”

He didn’t answer her.  He couldn’t tell if she expected the silence or not.

Instead, his hand came up, phantom like and slow, to graze upon the soft crest of her brow.  His fingers, only slightly shaking, rested upon her forehead, gently tracing the bridge of her nose, the slope of her forehead, the angle at which one became the other, with trepidation.  He watched with nervousness and no clear idea of what he was planning, as she closed her eyes, silently. There was no sigh, no whimper, only a fluttering of lashes closing that signaled to him that she wanted to him go on.  She wanted to test the waters.  She was willing, if not terrified.

Again, the question in his head, her voice asking, pleading with him, ‘Mulder, why are you here?’  His brain, his heart desperately trying to come up with the answer.  Why WAS he here?

His index finger found her jaw, soft and set, jutted forward as if she felt she could yank back control at any moment and fling him from her apartment, if she so chose.  He knew that if she did not feel so in control, she would certainly have kicked him out long ago.  It made him wonder…why hadn’t she?  Was she THAT sure of herself?  That in control?  Why had she let him come in, in the first place?  With the lights dimmed and the rain beating at the windows, what had she thought?  Why had she expected him to stay?

Damn it, he thought, why had he even come he here?

His face was leaning closer, his touch nervous and confused, his brain spinning a hundred times a minute.  He didn’t know what he was doing or even why he had come, but he was here.  He was here, wasn’t he?

So was that the point?  Was that why he had come?  It was all so goddamned confusing, sitting there, wanting the one thing from Scully he had never even dared fantasize about, yet knowing he probably shouldn’t have it.

His hand flattened against the side of her cheek, venturing lower to the place where her chin met her throat.  His fingers brushed there for a second, then caressed her  neck, until he snuck them in under her short mane of russet hair, touching her nape.  Her eyes were closed, her lips parted, and Mulder swallowed as he heard her breathing catch and shudder in her throat. There was still no sound, no noise or whimper, just the shuddering of breath and parting of lips.  Scully was completely silent.

His face lowered slowly, then paused just above the place where he wanted to kiss her first; the uppers part of her rose colored lips, jutted just far enough outward for him to catch in between his.

“You ever wonder,” he whispered, still unsure of himself, his eyes darting from her lips to her closed eyes, “why, when it rains, it pours?”

Scully spoke for the first time in over a minute when she breathed, “Is it still raining?”

Mulder’s chin dropped then, his nose grazing past hers in a tingling of skin brushing skin.  “Pouring,” he answered lowly, breathing into her.

Their mouths finally met and his body shuddered with the contact.  Her mouth tugged left, then right, and her upper lip smoothed over his, again and again.  He felt the contact, only minimal, her skin on his, her breath mingled with his, in every part of his body, in every pore.  He radiated her from the inside out and absorbed her through his skin.

Her hands clenched the couch in back of his head, gripping the cushions so hard that her knuckles turned white.  He felt her face slant, her back arch, and soon her arms wound their way around his neck and her fingers threaded through his hair.  She clasped his head, smoothed back unruly strands of brown locks, adjusted her grip to his shoulders, squeezed, then rose back to splay in his hair.

His hands gently held the side of her face, caressing her cheekbones with the pads of his thumbs, until he longed to feel more of her, have more of her around him, more of her touching him.  One hand snaked around her back and the other gripped the back of her head.  The kiss intensified and he held her tighter.

His brain again flashed the question, why was he here?  Why was he here?

Suddenly, he knew. It wasn’t exactly the easiest answer to live with, especially considering that it wasn’t much of an answer, and because what they were doing was wrong in almost every sense of the word. But it was a start.  He wasn’t exactly sure what kind of start it was, but at least he was touching her, holding her, easing an ache inside him that had been there, he had thought, forever, until this very moment. That, he realized, at least for now, was enough.

 It was, of course, the question with a carefully hidden answer, but it was an answer all the same.  Wouldn’t that be enough?  Couldn’t it be?

He decided that he would not think about all the little questions that this big answer now raised.  He would not think about it now.  Maybe later, he thought.  Maybe after the rain, but not now.

Why, he fleetingly wondered, as they both pulled away, her hands disengaging from the back of his head.  Why were there always questions afterward?  More questions that lead to more answers that lead to more questions.  If puddles spilled over into floods after the rain, what would this spill over into?  Where would he go, now that he was here?

He didn’t know, but he desperately wanted to find out.

Uncomfortable silence reigned for a moment, slicing into the air between them like a sharp razor.  If Scully was just as uncomfortable as he, she wasn’t making any motions towards voicing that discomfort. She had also, as he noticed, made no move to pull away from him further, other than removing her hands from around his neck.  He noted the way her eyes shone dark and almost navy, highlighted by the TV.

The moment now over, he couldn’t think of anything productive to say.

“It stopped raining,” he finally managed, tipping his head over towards the window to indicate his point.  Scully nodded thoughtfully, pondering that for a moment.  Her head cocked to the side. Then her eyes smiled at him, sparkled in a way he couldn’t decipher.

“Does this mean you’re retiring the meteorologist idea?” she asked.

Mulder quirked his upper lip and pretended to think.   He absently fingered the v-neck of her shirt, feeling her pulse race beneath his fingertips as he replied, “Not until you admit that watching this movie is a cry for help, Scully.”

Scully rolled her eyes.

“Why are you here, Mulder?” she groaned, a mock-wary tone to her voice.

Mulder moved in closer and grinned wickedly, forcing all ideas except for one from the fore-front of his mind.  Nothing else mattered right now, he decided.  Why he was here, why he wasn’t, how he got here… it didn’t matter, he was here.

“Haven’t we been over this one already?” he asked, innocently.

Scully’s eyes narrowed and she opened her mouth to retort, but he never gave her the opportunity to finish.

Outside, the ground was shiny and slicked, though it had stopped raining.

What makes you stay when your world falls apart?
What makes you try one more time when it's not in your heart?
At the end of your rope.
When you can't find any hope.
You still turn to him and say,
I just can't walk away.
Tell me, what makes you stay?

--------> What Makes You Stay, Deana Carter

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