6 Jan 1998

Story: Winning - M/Sk, G, 1/1
Author name: JiM
Feedback addy: JiMPage363@aol.com - cheerfully appreciated, flames added to Spam-Wrath-Of-God list.
Note: Many thanks to Dail, Kate da Brat, and Anne Z!!!
Summary: Set at the end of "Kitsunegari" - That scene in the office needed just a little more, didn't it?

Winning by JiM

I don't even know what it is I have said to him; some words of commendation, praise, 'validation', the Bureau Management geeks call it. But I meant them all. There would have been no justice, no solved case, without his insanely intuitive intelligence, leaping and spinning before us all.

And he has heard none of it.

No, not quite true. He heard it, but rejected it all as not applying to him. Fox Mulder, the man who routinely snatches defeat from the very jaws of Victory. How can he not see the truth of it? In the end, the murderers are dead, there are no more "Pushers" to be found, Scully is safe (repeat the litany, Mulder, I silently urge - Scully is safe, Scully is safe, Scully is safe); in the end, Modell even seemed to be helping *him* - his nemesis. Another X-file solved, to be filed in the too-empty drawer of solutions in an unsolved world.

But no - he cannot see it. All he sees are his own failures to be impervious and perfect. All he hears are the "what if's", the "I almost's", the "how could I's" of his own imaginings. The hurt is deep in those eyes, dark now with self-knowledge, self-despite. He turns to go. He is gone before I can find the courage to move.

At the door to my office, I call him back. He checks his long stride down the corridor and comes back, unwilling, but unable to ignore the summons. There are, I think, some benefits to being the alpha wolf. He returns and I close the door behind him, then I realize that I must say something again, that I must find words and talk to my agent. Something I say must put light and hope back into this man's eyes.

I am not good with words. Or feelings.

Which is probably why I find myself pulling him into my arms, dragging him against my chest, laying my cheek against his hair, murmuring, "Don't. Don't do this to yourself, Mulder."

That, or the temporary insanity that seems to rise in me around this man.

Either way, it is now too late to recross the line. It's a pity, I think vaguely, most of my attention focused on the stiff body I have trapped against mine. I *liked* working for the FBI; I was good at it. But so is he - and he must be made to know it, if it is the last thing I do as A.D. - and it probably will be.

His hair, I notice, has a spicy, sweet scent; it is a crisp masculinity against my lips as I speak low and quickly to him. "You've won, Mulder. For once, accept it. You prevailed. Why is that so hard for you to grasp?" I give him a small shake, still captured within the circle of my arms.

Surprisingly, he speaks, his words muffled against me.

"Because this victory still feels like a failure. Why does it have to hurt as much as failing?"

His tone is one of patient inquiry, academic almost, rather than plaintive. I feel his heat seeping through my dress shirt, the linen no proof against the burning core of this man. I shift slightly, just for the one-time pleasure of feeling his chest, hard and vital, caressing me. Heat and madness. And I am speaking again.

"Mulder, don't you remember your mythology? No hero ever wins through the battles unscathed or unchanged. Winning hurts, Mulder. Sometimes more than losing."

Where did that come from, I wonder idly, hands moving up and down his long back, shaping the muscles beneath the wool. They are rock-hard and quivering with tension. Perhaps it is fear. Of me? Oh yes, I recall, I've gone mad. I am standing here, in my office, holding my agent, tipping his head back, running my tongue across his lips. Now his mouth is opening beneath mine and I am kissing him, moving deep into the warmth and dark mystery of him. There is a moan, and hands clutching in response. Skin whispers against cloth; his hands are moving on me and I cannot think.

His lips pull away from mine and he looks up into my eyes. Suddenly, his gaze is full of confidence, the assurance I yearned to see there in place of defeat. But now I am afraid of it. He has all of his own self-assurance and most of mine, now.

"Is this what they teach at those Bureau management seminars?"

"Shut up, Mulder."

But the laughter reborn in his eyes sparks into mine and our next kiss bubbles and skids with it.

"Walter?" he says a while later. God - how can he still speak? My body is screaming against him, for him, and he wants to talk. Reluctantly, I open my eyes and look down at him again, as patient with his madness as I am with mine.

"If I promise to try to believe that we won this round, will you let me go?"

"No," I growl.

"Good," he smiles, and kisses me again.