Newsgroups: alt.tv.x-files.creative
Subject: Pleasant Dreams (PG-13)
Date: 9 May 1995 21:13:36 GMT

Pleasant Dreams
Laura Cooksey
lcooksey@mindspring.com
Okay, here we go -- this story involves gay relationships. If this turns you off, freaks you out, or raises your blood pressure in an unhealthy way, abort now!
X-Files characters (c) Ten-Thirteen, Chris Carter, and 20th Century Fox, and used without permission. No copyright infringement is intended.
This story is rated PG-13 for some mild language and a little sexual content. I welcome comments at my email address, above. Flames will be ignored, or printed out and passed around to my friends for laughs, so don't bother.


Pleasant Dreams
Laura Cooksey

Fox Mulder had just finished working out in the FBI gym and he bounded back into his office at full tilt, anxious to leave work for the day (and the week). It took him a second to realize that his partner, Dana Scully, was still at her desk. "Making a late night of it, Scully?" he asked.

"Not quite," she said, turning her chair to face him. "I wanted to talk to you before you left for the weekend."

Scully wasn't usually this reserved when talking to him, so his curiosity was piqued. He threw a couple of items from his desk into his gym bag and double-checked to be sure he'd removed his wallet from his dress pants and put it into the jeans he was now wearing. "This sounds ominous. Ben Randolph's going to be waiting for me at his apartment, so don't make me late for beer, pizza and a movie." He sat on the edge of his desk and waited for her to tell him what was on her mind.

Scully hesitated, which only made Mulder more nervous. Finally, she asked, "How long have you been hanging out with Ben?"

Mulder laughed. "You make it sound like we're dating, Scully. What's the matter -- are you jealous?" She just stared at him, so he answered her question. "I guess I've known him for about three months."

Mulder remembered how excited Ben had been the day they'd met, as he showed Mulder and Scully the analysis of a metal fragment the Special Agents had retrieved from an alleged UFO crash site. Ben had been very receptive to Mulder's "extreme possibilities" in explaining where the metal had come from, and he was a damn good technician. He'd found Mulder a few days later in the gym, shooting baskets, and they'd started playing one-on-one regularly, as well as having lunch or swimming together once or twice a week.

"I really hate doing this," Scully said with a sigh. "Mulder, did you know that Ben is gay?"

Mulder's jaw dropped. "I..., he is? But, how do you know that?"

"It's no secret. He's open about it, and a lot of people know. But, since you don't have a lot of friends in the Bureau, and I got the impression that Ben hadn't said anything, I suspected that you didn't know." Mulder just sat on the edge of his desk, staring at his feet as Scully continued talking. "Look, I wouldn't have said anything, but people are beginning to talk, and you have enough problems in the Bureau already."

"Talk?" Mulder asked, horrified. "Oh, no. Now people think I'm _gay_ as well as crazy? I didn't think my reputation could get any worse. Do you -- God, Scully -- do you think he's _interested_ in me?"

"Well, what if he is, Mulder? Ben's very handsome."

"Yeah, he -- Scully, that's not funny."

She grinned. "Sorry. But what if he is? Don't you know how to say no? Don't you have any other gay friends?"

"Scully, I hardly have any friends at all," he said quietly, honestly.

She came over to stand beside him, putting her arm around his shoulders. "You should talk to him about it, Mulder. Find out where you stand. Find out if he's interested. Find out if you're interested."

He looked up at her at that remark, but his protest died in his throat. He laughed and shrugged. "I couldn't possibly do worse with men than I've done with women." He grinned broadly at her.

Scully's eyes went wide. *Well, well. Mulder is more adaptable than I thought, even if he is joking. I think he's joking.* "Give me a call and let me know how it turns out, okay?"

He nodded, asking, "Tonight or tomorrow morning?"

"Doesn't matter. Whenever you need to talk to me."

Mulder looked at her with a mixture of relief and surprise. "Oh. Okay. I, well, thanks. Thanks, Scully." He rested his hand on her shoulder as he stood up, grabbing his bag and the hanger his suit was on, then heading for the door.

"Mulder," Scully called. He turned, his hand on the doorknob. She continued, "Look, if anything happens -- be careful."

He blinked, uncomprehending for a moment, then his eyes went wide as he figured out what she was talking about. Clearing his throat, he said, "I'm always careful, Dr. Scully." He opened the door and left before the conversation could get any more uncomfortable.

"Good luck," she called after him as the door closed.

                   **********

"Hey, Mulder!" Randolph said when he arrived. "You're late. I was beginning to worry a little."

"Scully needed to talk to me," Mulder replied, rather distracted.

"Ugh. Shop-talk. Well, grab a beer and I'll cue up the movie. I've got the pizza in here on the coffee table."

"What did you get?" Mulder called from the kitchen.

"I couldn't find anything at the video store that I liked, so I pulled a _Mystery Science Theater 3000_ tape out of my collection," Randolph replied as Mulder came into the living room and sat on the couch.

"With Mike or Joel?"

"Joel. I think I've got _The Robot Monster vs. the Aztec Mummy_ cued up."

Ben turned on the VCR and the two of them watched about forty-five minutes of the show, when Randolph finally couldn't stand it any longer. Normally Mulder loved this show, but he'd hardly laughed at any of the jokes, and had been staring off into space for the last fifteen minutes, not paying any attention to the television at all. "Hey, are you okay? You're really quiet this evening."

"Hmm? Oh, I'm sorry, Ben. I'm a little distracted."

"Yeah, I'll say," Ben replied, grinning broadly. He was almost as tall as Mulder, and a few years older, with a little bit of gray in his pale brown hair. "What's up? Do you want to talk about it?"

"Are you gay?" Mulder asked suddenly. Ben choked on a mouthful of beer, managing to swallow most of it before heading into the kitchen, with Mulder following him. He was coughing so hard that Mulder was actually a little worried, but Ben spat some beer and foam into the sink, rinsed his mouth out and cleared his throat a few times and seemed to be okay.

"That's a hell of a way to ask that question," Ben said, still coughing a bit.

Mulder looked sheepish. "Yeah, I'm sorry about that. Forget it. I don't know what I was thinking, I...."

Ben interrupted him. "Yes," he said simply.

"Oh," was the most intelligent thing Mulder could think of to say. He hesitated. "It doesn't matter to me, Ben."

Randolph grinned sadly. "If it didn't matter, you wouldn't have needed to ask, Mulder."

"Yeah. I guess that was a stupid thing to say." Mulder leaned back against the counter in the kitchen, crossing his arms.

"Who told you? Dana?" Ben asked. Mulder looked down and Ben nodded. "It's okay. I don't blame her."

"She said that people were beginning to talk about me; about us."

Randolph's shoulders sagged. "Shit. I'm sorry, Mulder. I should have said something, but we were getting along so well, and I didn't want to put you off. I don't have a lot of friends in the FBI, either. And I didn't think people would talk about you that way; I've seen the way you look at Dana. Everybody talks about it."

"Yeah, but we've never done anything about it. And people are always eager to move on to the next scandal."

Randolph sighed heavily and walked back into the living room, shutting off the VCR and the television as he sat back down. Mulder sat next to him again and they were quiet for several minutes. Mulder finally spoke. "Look, Ben, I need to know: Are you interested in me?"

Randolph grinned at him. "Just because I'm gay doesn't mean I find you attractive, any more than all straight women find you attractive."

"No, no, I know that. I just want to know where I stand," Mulder said uneasily. "I mean, it's okay if you don't think I'm attractive." He paused. "Is there something wrong with the way I look or something?"

Ben laughed softly, seeing Mulder's embarrassed, vulnerable expression. "No, there isn't. And I do have kind of a crush on you, I think."

"Really?"

"Yeah. But it's okay. I don't want anything from you. I enjoy your company, your friendship. I don't want to cause you any grief." He sighed. "If you're uncomfortable and want to leave, I understand."

"No, of course I don't want to leave," Mulder said.

"Are you uncomfortable?"

Mulder smiled lopsidedly. "Well, yeah, a little."

"Do you want to talk about it?" Ben asked, half-afraid to hear the answer.

"I think so," Mulder said. But then he just sat there quietly, sipping his beer for several minutes, while his thoughts chased each other around inside his head. "You have a crush on me?" he asked, finally, toying with the image of Ben kissing him. It made his chest tight, but it also aroused him.

Ben laughed again. "Yeah, Mulder. I have a crush on those hazel eyes and those gorgeous hands of yours. You're one of the smartest, funniest men I know. And one of the gentlest."

Mulder blushed, flattered and overwhelmed. "Thanks. It's nice to be with someone who listens to my ideas and doesn't think I'm crazy. But at the same time, someone whose mind isn't so open that their brains are about to fall out." He chewed his lower lip for a second. "Besides, you're very handsome." *I am completely out of my mind.*

Randolph's eyes went wide. "Mulder, how much beer have you had?" he asked with a grin.

Mulder eyed the beer suspiciously and put it down. "Not nearly enough, I think."

Ben reached out and took Mulder's hand for a moment, looking into his eyes. Very softly he said, "I hope that you aren't jerking me around, Mulder. I can't tell you how much that would hurt."

"I'm not," Mulder said quickly. "I'm not sure what I'm doing, Ben, but I'm not playing with you." He grinned at the double-entendre. "Forget I said that."

Ben raised an eyebrow at him, grinning back. "I dunno. That's kind of a tough line to pass up." But he didn't want to tease Mulder, so he let it go. Still, his curiosity demanded to be satisfied. "Have you ever done it with a guy?"

Mulder turned an even deeper shade of red. "No. Well, not since high school. I mean, I didn't..., we just touched, you know?"

"Yeah. I know. That happens with a lot of straight guys in high school or college." Ben smiled then, a little sadly, at an old memory. "You cute breeders break a lot of hearts, sowing your wild oats."

"Sounds like there's a story behind that," Mulder said. Ben nodded, but didn't say anything. Mulder reached out and touched him on the shoulder, surprising him so much that he twitched. "Sorry, I didn't mean to startle you." He left his hand on Ben's arm, curious how the other man felt, running his thumb along the muscles through the sleeve of his shirt.

Ben looked pained as he took Mulder's hand in his again. "You _are_ going to break my heart, aren't you, satisfying your curiosity?"

"I hope not," Mulder said, feeling his pulse quicken as he leaned forward. Ben slid his hand behind Mulder's head, ruffling his hair, and pulled him closer. After a long moment of gauging Mulder's reactions, he closed his eyes and kissed the younger man.

Mulder was very still for a few seconds, then felt his body start to respond to the warmth and closeness of Ben's embrace. He closed his eyes and let himself absorb the sensations of being kissed by another man: the smell of Ben's cologne, the strength in his hands and arms, the feel of short whiskers under his fingers as he touched Ben's cheek. He heard a small, deep-throated noise of pleasure, and realized with a shock that it came from himself.

He gasped loudly as Ben moved his lips down along his jaw and onto his throat, nipping the skin lightly. Ben lifted his head, looking uncertain, and waited for Mulder to say something. "Are you okay?" he finally asked.

Mulder swallowed and nodded, breathing a little hard. "Yeah."

"Did you like it?"

A huge grin. "Oh, yeah. You're a good kisser." Mulder stumbled slightly over the words. Ben leaned close and smiled, saying in a deep voice, "So are you." They embraced and kissed again, and Mulder kept finding himself tripping over new sensations: the feel of a muscular chest under a thin shirt, the breadth of Ben's shoulders, the feel of Ben's hair sliding through his fingers. Mulder gasped as Ben pulled him closer and turned to roll Mulder under him on the couch, sliding one of his legs between Mulder's.

Ben lifted his head and looked down into Mulder's wide eyes. "You aren't scared, are you? I want you to be nervous; nervous is kind of fun. But not scared."

Mulder laughed. "Nervous is easy." Ben's weight, and the feel of Ben's erection pressing against his leg and hip, were making him delightfully nervous, and very hard. "But, no, I'm not scared. I trust you."

Ben smiled, relaxing a little, and slid both arms under Mulder, hugging him close as he kissed him deeply, tantalizing the younger man with his tongue. Mulder moaned loud and low and arched his back, lifting Ben off the couch, kissing him deeply in return. After several minutes, Ben broke off the kiss and whispered in Mulder's ear, "I think we ought to move this party into the bedroom."

Mulder looked at him for a few seconds, deep in thought, then a grin spread across his face. "Sounds like fun," he said, "but my doctor told me to be careful."

"Your doctor?" Ben asked, confused.

"Yeah. Scully."

"No shit, Mulder? Oh my God, I wish I could have seen your face."

Laughing, Mulder admitted, "Yeah, me too." He slid his hand down between them to stroke Ben through his jeans, tentatively at first, then with more confidence, delighting in the change in Ben's expression.

"Oh! Mulder, if you keep that up, I won't make it to the bedroom." He groaned. "Right, being careful -- I've been tested every three months for the last couple of years, and I always come up clean. I..., ah, you're making it very difficult to concentrate. How about you?"

"Me what?"

"Don't be dense. Have you been tested for HIV?" Ben asked.

Mulder was forced to reply sheepishly, "Yeah. I haven't had unprotected sex since college, but I've gotten several blood transfusions, and I've been tested two or three times over the last couple of years. I've been negative." He looked uncomfortable.

"I don't want to do anything risky, but I had to ask." Ben stroked Mulder's hair. "Have you had many lovers?"

Mulder shook his head. "Not nearly as many as some people think. Five -- no, six." He looked very sad suddenly, remembering Kristen, the almost-vampire. When he met Ben's eyes again, Ben looked concerned.

"I'm sorry," Ben said.

"For what?" Mulder asked.

Ben shrugged. "For whatever memory makes you so sad." Mulder nodded, still a little sad, but smiling again. Ben asked, "So, does that mean we spend the rest of the night on the couch, or do you want to go in the bedroom?"

"Well, I can't get up until you do, Ben."

"Say, 'please'."

Mulder rolled his eyes. "Ben, will you please get up?"

"Say, 'pretty please'."

"Fuck you," Mulder said with a laugh, then laughed harder. "Wait, let me rephrase that."

Ben was trying to stand, but at Mulder's comment, he fell backwards across the couch, laughing. After a few seconds he managed to say, "You've got quite a way with words, Mulder. Get up."

"I am up, as if you hadn't noticed."

Ben laughed even harder, standing up. "I don't know how Scully puts up with you. If you don't get up, I'm going to drag you into the bedroom."

"I'd like to see you try," Mulder said. He regretted it instantly, as Ben grabbed him by one ankle and pulled him halfway off of the couch. "Hey! I was just kidding!" Ben let go of his foot and Mulder got up. "There. Are you happy now?"

"Almost," Ben said in a deep voice, taking Mulder by the arm and leading him down the hall.

                   **********

Mulder woke up with a start from a night terror. He sat up, disoriented. After a moment he remembered where he was. And with whom. And what he'd done. He felt uneasy, as well as frightened from the dream.

"Mulder? You okay?" Ben asked, laying a hand on his arm.

His mouth was dry and it took him a few seconds to answer. "Yeah. Could you turn on the light?"

"Sure. Watch your eyes." The lamp on the bedside table illuminated the room at the flick of the switch. Ben blinked, pushing himself up to a sitting position next to Mulder. "Man, you look awful. Are you sure you're...."

Mulder interrupted him. "Yeah. I should have said something; I have a lot of nightmares." His breathing was returning to normal as he sat there for a few seconds. Ben reached out to touch his arm again, but Mulder turned away, swinging his legs over the side of the bed.

Ben bit his lip and slid behind Mulder, not quite touching him. "Is it the nightmare, or are you having second thoughts?" He longed to pull Mulder against him, but forced himself to sit still.

"I don't know," Mulder admitted. "Maybe a little of the latter," he whispered. *God, Ben, I don't want to hurt you, but I don't feel very good about this right now.*

Ben closed his eyes for several seconds, thinking over his next words carefully. "It's okay. I understand, Mulder. I remember the mixed feelings I had my first time...." He stopped, afraid to say too much for fear of putting Mulder off even further, or of opening himself up to more pain.

"Thanks," Mulder said uneasily, getting up to go to the bathroom. He heard Ben opening the closet door in the bedroom, and when he returned, Ben was holding out a flannel bathrobe for him.

"Here. I thought you might rather wear this than your jeans if you're going to be awake for a while," Ben said. He was afraid that Mulder would leave if he got dressed, and wanted to forestall that, if he could. "I'm going to go back to sleep, unless want to talk about... anything." He grinned at Mulder. "I'm not as young as I used to be. You wore me out."

Mulder ducked his head and smiled, accepting the robe and shrugging it on. "Is it okay if I turn on the TV? I don't want to keep you up."

Ben bit his lip and let that opportunity pass. "It won't keep me awake. Just, well, wake me if you decide to leave. Okay?"

Mulder was hurt to see the pain and uncertainty in Ben's eyes, and he rested his hand on Ben's arm. "I'm not going anywhere, Ben. I just need some time to think, that's all." Ben relaxed and nodded, then crawled back into bed. After he heard the television come on in the living room he turned out the lamp by the bed, and lay awake.

                   **********

Mulder sat on the couch with his feet propped up on the coffee table, not paying the least attention to the television. *Mulder, don't you have enough problems?* he asked himself wryly. In college he'd reconciled himself to feeling some attraction to men, although he hadn't acted on it since high school. So it wasn't so much that he was concerned about his sexual orientation as about complicating his life.

*Do I care if people at the Bureau talk about me? Not really. Do I want a long-term relationship with Ben? With anyone?* That was a harder question. His obsessive nature, his quest for the truth -- that was paramount in his head and his heart. And yet, he'd truly enjoyed developing a friendship with Ben, he loved spending time with him, talking about cases he and Scully had solved, about some of the old X-Files he wanted to pursue if he and Scully ever got the chance.

Scully.

Mulder picked up and put down the phone three different times before he finally punched in her number. A groggy voice answered, "Hello?" He almost hung up. "Mulder? Is that you?"

He signed heavily, "Yeah, Scully."

"I'm glad you called. Skinner called me this evening; he's got a case for us. Something urgent from some Washington power broker. I called your house and your cellular. You've saved me the trouble of tracking you down in the morning." A pause. "You aren't home, are you?"

"No." The single word lay heavily in the air.

"Do you want to talk about it?"

"Yeah." A long pause.

"Well, you're not doing a very good job, so far," she said, and the humor in her voice made him smile. "What happened?"

"Scully!" he exclaimed softly, not wanting to wake Ben. "You don't expect me to kiss and tell, do you?"

She laughed, "You aren't the only one who enjoys vicarious thrills, Mulder. Leave out the gory details and tell me what's on your mind."

"Well...." God, he was glad she couldn't see him blushing! "You know I've had a couple of flings over the past few years. Relationships that I really didn't expect to work out, and they didn't. But, I've known Ben for a while. We're friends; if this doesn't work out.... I don't want to mess this up," he finished weakly.

"Did you tell him that?"

"No," he admitted.

An exasperated sigh. "Men! Mulder, you need to be talking to Ben about this. I don't care what happens between the two of you, except that I don't want you to get hurt, and I wouldn't want to see Ben get hurt either. It's up to the two of you which direction your relationship goes in. It doesn't matter what I think or what the Bureau thinks."

"You're wrong. It does matter what you think. It matters to me."

Scully was silent for a few seconds, touched that Mulder had opened himself up. "I think that you and Ben are both mature adults that ought to be able to sit down and discuss what your relationship is as rational human beings. And if you just get up and leave because you're afraid of hurting him, or of being hurt, I'd be very disappointed in you. I also think that someone with a psychology degree from Oxford ought to be able to figure all this out on his own," she said with a trace of humor.

"We all like to have our opinions validated by our friends and colleagues, from time to time."

"I know. You figure out what you need in your life, Mulder. Then you go ask Ben what he's looking for. Maybe the two will coincide."

"Or at least overlap." He sighed. "Thanks, Scully. I appreciate being able to talk to you."

"Hey, that's what friends are for."

"That works both ways, Scully."

She chuckled. "Good. But it would make you easier to call if you'd remember not to leave your cellular phone in the car."

Mulder grinned. Just like Scully to get a last dig in before the end of the call. "Bye." "Goodnight," she said. He hung up the phone and sat on the couch a while longer.

Finally, with a sigh, he got up and turned off the TV and went back into the bedroom. He walked carefully, unfamiliar with the room in the dark, and draped the robe Ben had loaned him over a chair. He slid under the covers quietly.

"Were you on the phone?" Ben asked sleepily.

"Yeah. I didn't mean to wake you."

"No. That's okay. I just thought maybe I dreamed it."

"I was talking to Scully."

"Oh?" Ben sounded more awake, his curiosity piqued. "Do I want to know what about?"

Mulder put his arm around Ben hesitantly and snuggled up against his back. "About me. About us. Mostly about me."

Ben sighed as Mulder embraced him, sliding his hand over Mulder's. "Did you decide anything?"

"I think so. Scully likes you."

"Well, I guess she has good taste, then."

Mulder laughed very softly. "She says I should talk to you. That the two of us should talk."

Ben nodded. "That would be a relief, I think." He rolled over to face Mulder. "Did we make a mistake?"

"No. I don't think I made a mistake, anyway. I care about you, Ben. A lot. But I'm not ready to have a long-term commitment. There's too much going on in my life. My work..., well, you know how I feel about my work. But it would be wonderful to have someone to share things with. I enjoy your company." He hesitated a moment. "I'd like to keep seeing you."

"Well," Ben replied with a smile, "I didn't think you were going to move in with me or anything. You've been a good friend, and now you're a little more than that. I think I can live with that, for a while, anyway." He kissed Mulder, then ran his hand down Mulder's chest and stomach, feeling him respond to the caress with a deep-throated hum. "Like that?" he rumbled.

"You haven't done anything I don't like." He gasped as Ben stroked lower still on his torso, caressing him. "I thought you were tired," Mulder said, closing his eyes in pleasure for a moment.

"You're inspirational. Now shut up."

Mulder laughed. "Make me."

"I'm bigger than you," Ben warned him playfully.

"I don't think so," Mulder responded with a wicked grin.

"Size queen," Ben joked, then regretted saying it, unsure how Mulder would react. But Mulder threw his head back and laughed. "Sorry about that. I guess you'll have to get used to my gay humor," Ben said.

Mulder gave Ben a quirky smile. "That might be interesting. You aren't going to try to take me to any bars or anything, are you?"

"Ugh. I _hate_ bars; gay and straight. Noisy, smoky, meat-markets where you only find people you wouldn't want to go home with. I don't think so." Ben kissed Mulder with a laugh. "Why are we still talking?"

"Because I don't want to get hurt," Mulder said softly, nuzzling Ben's ear.

Ben cupped Mulder's face in one hand and stared him in the eye. "Hey. You're not going to get hurt, Mulder. Don't be so scared, and don't think so much. Just relax, for God's sake." He grinned at Mulder, and Mulder grinned back sheepishly.

"I guess I worry too much."

"Yeah, I guess so. Look, why don't you just go back to sleep, okay?"

"Are you sure, Ben? I've got to leave in the morning. Skinner gave Scully a case."

"Ah, geez, Mulder, are you guys gonna make me work overtime this weekend?" Ben said with a huge grin.

"I hope not, Ben." Mulder replied. Ben settled back against his pillows with a sigh. Mulder hesitated, then laid down within the circle of his arms. Ben was surprised and flattered; he hugged Mulder gently. Mulder rested his cheek on Ben's chest for a few seconds, running his fingers through the hairs there. "This feels weird."

Ben laughed, and Mulder marveled at the sound of the deep voice echoing under his ear. "Does it?"

"Yeah. I think I could get used to it, though." Mulder closed his eyes and let himself relax as Ben's fingers massaged his shoulder.

"Pleasant dreams," Ben said softly.