Title: Red and White, part 2/?
Summary: The morning after...
Disclaimer: Don't own them, but they're awfully persuasive.
Warnings: M/M slash, romance, angst, etc....
Archive: Anywhere that wants it - please let me know, though. I like to visit. : )
Author's Notes: And now Mulder gets to speak. : )
This fic takes place immediately following the events of Redux II and is the sequel to my other fic, 'Conviction' (available at the Basement, mskslash group and my website).
This is for Tesa - she's far too persuasive.
I become aware of a bright light prying my eyelids open and squint to see the sun shining through white blinds as it creeps up the morning sky.
I blink and hold a hand up to shade my eyes as I try to get my bearings - my apartment doesn't get anywhere near this much sunlight. The walls are bright white and as I sit up I become aware of a blue and green plaid comforter and white sheets.
Ah. Skinner's bed. We'd collapsed here on the bed after a frantic encounter in the kitchen and even wilder adventure in the shower. I glance over at the other side of the bed and note that the alarm clock says it is already 7:55 a.m. I can hardly believe it - we must have fallen asleep at about nine last evening. I suppose I'm still catching up on the sleep I've been missing out on lately. As I let my eyes drift from the clock and settle on the warm body next to me - I realize that I must've worn him out too.
The thought makes me snicker and I stifle it as he suddenly mutters in his sleep and turns over, his sleeping face is turned to me and I'm startled at how vulnerable it seems. I settle down as gently as I can to stare at it.
At rest his face looks so peaceful and calm - as if the weight of the world no longer rests on his shoulders so long as he dozes on, dead to the world. His eyebrows are so dark - harking back to the days when he must've had a full head of dark brown hair. I try to picture that and fail. He seems as if he was always this way...it suits him, really. I never quite knew why some women would claim that bald was sexy, but with him...it is.
I first 'experimented' with men in college - Oxford was my chance to get away from my family and my up bringing and I took advantage of that. And even though I was a serious student and almost as much of a loner as I am now, I still managed to have a fairly wild time at the various bars and hangouts the rest of the students were at. The boys I was with there...Hugh with his beautiful blue eyes and floppy black hair...Tom and his long blond mane...Jack and his punk spiky locks...all of them had been close to my age and with full heads of hair.
Come to think of it...they had also been almost androgynous - the complete opposite of the burly bald man before me. I resist the temptation to stroke the face before me as I contemplate his rugged features more closely.
He has a five o'clock shadow and the whiskers peaking out are mostly dark, but I spy a few gray hairs as well. It matches the fringe at the base of his skull and it gives him a far more rugged look than he's ever sported in the office. I wonder what he'd look like with a beard. Maybe a goatee. I find myself stifling a snicker once more and decide I should get out of bed before I wake him.
I pick up my scattered clothes and slip them on before snatching his keys from the table by the door. There's a bakery down the street where I buy us fresh croissants and coffee. No need to break his coffee machine again this morning. I'm tempted to buy him a sugary donut with pink icing and multi-colored sprinkles just to see the look on his face, but I resist the impulse and decide to reign in some of my humor this morning. Who knows what mood he'll be in when he wakes up? I return to the apartment and tip toe to the bedroom once more wanting to surprise him in bed.
"Is that you?" The gruff voice from the bed breaks the silence and I shrug off my jacket with a little disappointment that my ploy failed.
"Yes. I brought you breakfast, hungry?"
He sits up as I speak and runs a hand over his scalp before reaching for his glasses. "Sure. I heard the door close earlier..."
I hear the unspoken admission that he thought I'd left without intending to come back. I sit down on the edge of the bed and hold out a coffee. Black with two sugars, the way I know he likes it. "We seem to have broken the coffee maker."
He takes the coffee and stares down at it for a moment before looking up at me with a sheepish smile. "Thanks."
We sip coffee and munch on croissants in silence - both aware of the growing tension in the room as we both wonder what will happen next. I feel awkward sitting on the bed clothed as he sits naked under the covers, but despite my impetuous behavior the day before...I'm uncertain as to what to do now. Should I lean over and kiss him? He does look delectable sitting there with his hairy chest and six-pack abs, but I'm unsure of the level of intimacy this morning.
The fact that he seemed miffed at my leaving earlier gives me hope that he doesn't want me to go...not yet anyway. I decide to take that as proof of my welcome and slowly lean a bit closer as he swallows his last bite and licks his lips. He seems startled at my nearness when he glances up, but then tilts his head back and meets me halfway, warm buttery lips meeting my own in a sweet, gentle kiss.
As our lips part, I tilt my head to whisper in his ear. "Any regrets?" He pulls back his head slightly and I try to meet his eyes, but shielded by his usual round lenses and the reflection makes them opaque until he tilts his head. His eyes are intent as they read mine, but the brown in them seems to melt a bit finally and he shakes his head.
"None. But I do think that I'd better get up before I regret the coffee," he chuckles and shoos me off of him.
I grin and quickly steal another kiss before standing up. He pushes off the covers and tries to stand, but suddenly winces and I realize that I really and truly 'did' wear him out yesterday.
"Wipe that smirk off your face, Mulder." He's giving me his best A.D. glare, but I can't help remembering him groaning with arousal against the shower wall. It's going to be a bit difficult to see the glare on his face at the office after this. I bite my lip and push the image away.
"Yes, sir. Need some help?" I hold my hand out, but he growls and he pushes it away, staggering out of bed and into the bathroom under his own power.
I straighten the bed and throw out the empty cups and bag from our breakfast. He said he had no regrets, but he didn't mention what would happen now. Do we just say our goodbyes now and pretend it didn't happen?
It's not what I want. I'm not wholly sure 'what' I want...something...something more than just one day. The question is what he wants and where he's willing to let this go...
The door of the bathroom finally opens and he comes out wrapped in a black bathrobe - covered from neck to mid-calf. Seeing him like this...knowing he is naked just underneath, makes me want to walk over there and rip it off of him...run my hands through that chest hair...trail lower to his groin...make him groan like he did before...
I have to force my eyes back up to his face and I find an answering look smoldering on his face before he shakes his head and forces himself under control.
"Agent Mulder..." his voice is full of the cautious warning I've come to find familiar at work and I dread the speech I know that's coming. "Mulder...I don't have any regrets about yesterday. Not one. But we both know...this can't go any further than this..."
I nod and drop my gaze to the bed before us, staring at the plaid pattern as I struggle with my own disappointment.
"...I'm your superior - we can't...be involved in any romantic or sexual liaison. It would ruin both of our careers at the FBI...not to mention the Consortium-"
I hold my hand out quickly to stop his words; my eyes still not meeting his. "I know."
He nods and looks down at the bed himself, his hands still tucked in the robe's pockets. I slowly let my eyes travel back up from the bed to his black clad torso and up to his gloomy face.
I stare until he slowly meets my gaze.
"We don't have to let it get in the way of today, though. I'm still officially dead and you aren't my superior at the moment. I say we make the most of it..." I kneel onto the bed and crawl over it with a playful grin.
He stares down at me with his glinting eyeglasses and a mild frown as he considers my words. I decide not to wait for his acquiescence and tug on his belt until his robe falls open.
"Mulder!" But he chuckles even as he's protesting and I soon have him crouching over me on the bed, kissing my chest as he pulls my t-shirt over my head. His robe is open, but still on and the soft black material shields us from the morning light as he leans down and kisses me deeply. He pulls back and nods finally. "All right...just for today..."
The next morning is difficult. At first I thought it would be hard for both of us...but maybe it was just for me.
I wake up before the sun is even up and I creep out of bed, hoping to avoid waking him. It's pointless as he snaps on the light and squints up at me with wistful resignation.
I hesitate at the side of the bed, clothes in hand, and hope that he'll tell me he was wrong. Tell me that we 'can' work this out somehow. That it's worth it. No matter what the cost.
But he doesn't. He just gives me a small smile and hands me my watch from the bedside table as I head into the bathroom and shut the door.
He's making pancakes when I get out and I find myself staring at the sight of him in a dark blue sweat suit with the FBI logo flipping pancakes in the air. He turns to set a stack in front of me at the table and flashes me a breathtaking smile.
He's happy. Really happy. Any sign of regret that our idyll is over has disappeared and he's whistling and humming as he turns back to the stove.
What the 'hell' is he so happy about?
I eat quickly so I'm just finishing as he sits down across from me. I make a mumbled excuse - hell, 'I' don't even know what I said - and leave as quickly as I can. If he's surprised at that he doesn't show it, but simply says he'll see me at the office and that I will have to go over my paperwork and reports with a committee before I can begin work this morning.
I leave the apartment complex in a hurry and go to my own to change into my suit before heading into the office. It's only as I drop my keys by the door and walk into my living room that I remember that not too long ago it was a crime scene. Someone has made a half-assed attempt at cleaning up the bloodstain, but it's still plainly visible on my rug, which is now ruined.
I stop and stare at the faint red blotch and then stagger to a chair to sit down as I contemplate it. Amazing, but I actually managed to forget everything that had happened over the weekend. Well, not forget, but I pushed it out of my mind - focusing only on our time together. And now that it is over and I am alone once more...I'm reminded of the repercussions of my actions these past weeks.
The phone rings and startles me out of my reverie.
"Mulder, where have you been? Your cell's out of service and I've been calling your apartment all weekend."
Scully. I picture her berating me as she lies in her hospital bed and I'm ashamed that I didn't phone or visit her yesterday at all. I forgot that she might have wanted to talk to me after my all too brief visit Saturday morning.
"Oh, I was...busy. Sorry. How are you feeling?" I add quickly, hoping it will distract her. I should have known better by now.
"I'm fine - what were you doing that you were busy?" She sounds suspicious and I decide the best lie is one with the most truth in it.
"Skinner wanted me to go over some things with him. There's a bunch of paperwork I have to fill out and all that - plus some meetings. He kept me busy. So, you just worry about feeling better. I'll take care of the paperwork."
She still sounds unconvinced, but she grudgingly jokes with me. "I'm sure. I'll come back and it'll all be waiting for me on my desk. I've gotta go, Mulder. I will probably be released later today. My mom's going to take me home."
That's excellent news - I tell her so and hang up the phone, ready to go do battle with the administrators once more.
The elevator doors open to my floor and I walk briskly down the hall to my office, nodding hello to the other early birds that have arrived ahead of me today.
It's a rare Monday that I'm not dreading work lately, but I this morning I found my step far lighter than it's been in months. Kim looks up at my arrival and does a double take at something she sees on my face. What? Oh, I guess I haven't been too chipper lately and my smile is probably putting her a bit off.
"Good morning, Kim. Nice day isn't it?"
"Uh, yes, sir. Bit chilly out."
"Well, it is October, but still not too bad. Any messages?" I step into my office and she trails behind me with her pad ready.
"Nothing urgent. Johnson submitted a report; it's on your desk. You have the budget meeting at nine and the department meeting at two."
"Good, good..." I take a glance at the height of my in box and even that can't dampen my mood. I'm sorting through the mail when I realize that Kim is still hovering at the door. "What is it, Kim?"
"You're humming, sir."
I stop suddenly and feel a flush of heat creep up the back of my neck. "So I am. Don't you have some business to take care of?"
She blushes and nods before leaving for her desk. I toss the mail back on my desk and swivel my chair to look out the window. I'm embarrassed to be so blatantly out of character this morning, but I just feel so...good.
All right so I'm acting like the stereotypical middle aged man that 'got some' over the weekend, but so what? Mulder and I practically spent all of Sunday in bed. I can't remember the last time I did something like that. Maybe in the early years of my marriage to Sharon, but I don't remember it being quite this good. I wonder if it is just my failing memory, but I suspect it isn't.
It was a wonderful weekend. But I realize it was just that - just a weekend. Mulder knows as well as I do that it is impossible to have anything more. We should be happy we had the time that we did. I refuse to let anything get in the way of cherishing this happy memory, but at the same time I must put it behind me now that we are at work.
My first task of the day is to clear the rest of Mulder's paperwork and make sure he is cleared with security to return. I suspect he's rather eager to get back to his basement, so I make sure that those handling his case are aware of the need for expediency. He should be allowed back to his desk, but not to the field - his partner is still on medical leave.
A quick call to the hospital and I'm aware of her pending release. She tells me she wants to return to work within the week. I try to put her off - urging her to take care of her health first, but I can hear the same urgency in her tone that I would expect in Mulder's and I soon find myself acquiescing to her wishes.
"Very well, Agent Scully. I'm trusting you to know your own limitations."
"Yes, sir. Thank you...uh, sir?"
I frown as I hear the trepidation in her voice. "Yes?"
"Could you...I'm a bit worried...about Agent Mulder. Does he seem...all right to you?"
I'm surprised she would ask me this...she usually tries to hide his vulnerability (as well as her own) to me as their superior. Still...I don't dare suggest that I'm worried myself - she's perceptive enough that she might begin to suspect my feelings go deeper than mere professional concern. "Well, I don't know...I haven't seen him yet. He'll be reporting to me at the two o'clock department meeting."
There is a brief silence on the other end before she answers. "I see. I won't take up anymore of your time, sir. Good bye."
She hangs up without waiting for my reply and I set down the phone with a feeling of puzzlement and dread. I'm not sure how...but I think I may have given away something to Scully.
The budget meeting is long and boring as usual, but then it isn't helped by the fact that I'm both dreading and looking forward to the department meeting and the chance to see Mulder once more.
The meeting starts on time and all the seats are full except for one. Mulder tries to sneak in five minutes late and I'm sure to give him my usual look of disproval at the act. Never let it be said that I failed to browbeat a wayward agent. He looks back at me with hooded eyes as he sits down before focusing his gaze on the table before him, completely ignoring the speaker.
I turn my eyes back to the agent speaking, but my attention is divided between the report and a gnawing worry that Scully was right...something is wrong with Mulder.
After the meeting is over, I ask Mulder to stay and shut the door.
"Agent Mulder, it's good to have you back," I say carefully. I have no idea who might be currently listening, but it's a safe bet that the Cancerman isn't the only one interested in listening.
"Yes, sir." He's slumped in his chair with his bangs falling over his face. I remember running a hand through that hair...it was so soft.
"Agent Scully has informed me that she's planning to return to work by Wednesday."
He straightens up at this and nods. I can see that mentioning her name has brightened his demeanor and I'm surprised at the little surge of jealousy that engenders. I've never really been jealous of her before...and I certainly shouldn't be now. I can't be with him in the way I'd like...I should be happy if she were able to take care of him in the way I wish I could. I push the petty feeling aside and focus on his face once more. He still seems a bit tired. And at the thought of Scully returning after so near a brush with death...I don't see how either of them should be out in the field so soon.
"You'll be restricted to desk work until she returns. I'll meet with the two of you first thing on Wednesday and I'll have your next assignment then."
He looks ready to protest - whether about the desk work or the fact that I'm assigning him something rather than waiting for a 302 I'm not sure, but I wave him off anyway. "I'll speak with you then, Agent Mulder. Dismissed."
I watch him leave and then turn back to my desk once more. Shoving aside a stack of papers, I pick up a memo I received just this morning.
FBI Teamwork Seminars
Assistant Directors are encouraged to send at least two agents from their selected department to participate in one of the following seminars in order to promote the exchange of ideas and communication within the department on subject of teamwork. This years Teamwork seminars will take place in Leon County, Florida. Seminars include:
- Partners in Teamwork: Building better partnerships by working together. Agents are expected to participate in Team-Building games and other activities, which will help build the sense of teamwork amongst partners.
- There is No 'I' in Teamwork: Learning how to think of the group instead of the individual. Partners are expected...
I scan the rest of the memo and find the usual list of activities and social gatherings including a wine and cheese reception. Most agents jump at the chance for a break in work and a free trip to Florida in chilly October...
I smile as an idea strikes me and pick up the phone to reserve two places.
To Be Continued...
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