Red and White, Part Three

by Nikita


Title: Red and White, part 3/?

Author: Nikita

Summary: The trip out into the woods wasn't a great idea, but you can't argue with the results.

Spoilers: Seasons 4 and 5. Especially: Redux I, II and Detour

Disclaimer: Don't own them, but they're awfully persuasive.

Warnings: M/M slash, romance, angst, etc....

Website: www.koukla.net/nikita_slash

Feedback: nik_cleo@hotmail.com

Author's Notes: This fic takes place immediately following the events of Redux II and is the sequel to my other fic, 'Conviction' (available at the Basement and my website).

Shock and amazement - I've updated! I finally woke up inspired today and decided to finish up this chapter. More to come, of course... This is the promised Hurt/Comfort portion of the fic. Plenty of angst and twists in future chapters.

XxXxXxxxXxXxX

ROUTE 43
LEON COUNTY

I stare out at the forest whizzing past my window and wish desperately that I was ANYWHERE but here. I'm trapped in an episode of the Twilight Zone and unfortunately not a good one.

"Last year was something of a personal revelation. We were doing an exercise called 'Team Builders'? Where we were given two minutes to build a tower out of ordinary office furniture.

"When I stood on Mike's shoulders and I put that electric pencil sharpener on top of the pile, we both knew - we could never have done it alone."

I watch their faces, but both agents in the front seat seem perfectly earnest without a trace of sarcasm. I'm in hell. I turn to my partner in misery, "Kill me now."

She bites her lip and tries not to smile. Good old Scully - patient and polite to a fault. To others, anyway - she never lets me get away with anything.

"You ever been to one of these team seminars, Agent Scully?"

"Ummm.... I think I went to a Constructive Problem Solving course when I first joined the Bureau."

The blond ponytail up front turns around and looks at Scully with excitement. "Oh, did you play that game where, um, you can't use any negative words?"

The insipid driver shakes his head in amazement, "I couldn't believe how hard it was not to use the word 'but'."

"I'm having that same problem right now!"

Scully turns her face from me, but I can see she's struggling not to chuckle.

Now Ponytail is turning to face me. "Have you ever been to a team seminar, Agent Mulder?"

"No, you know unfortunately around this time of year I always develop a severe hemorrhoidal condition." Scully can't help it this time, I definitely saw a smile, but she's trying hard not to chastise me in front of the other two. I would have developed that hemorrhoidal condition this year if I'd had any choice in the matter...

"Well, it builds muscles you didn't even know you had."

Ponytail turns to me and says quite seriously, as if she's bestowing some infinite wisdom to me, "Communication. That's the key."

I'm being punished. It's as simple as that. The day Scully came back to work we were summoned to his office. The ultra-serious look on his face should have been the first clue, but then it's kind of hard to tell with him anyway. He's always like that - at work anyway. I've seen some other expressions on that face... He handed us a copy of our reservations and plane ticket and said in his no-nonsense tone of voice that we would be at that conference 'or else'.

I never should have fucked him against the shower wall - obviously he's the kind of guy that holds a grudge.

The car slows down and I glance up at the windshield, lights flash and a local cop holds out his hands for us to stop. I look out my window and see the assortment of trucks and people milling around the edge of the forest. Some sort of search or investigation is being conducted.

Escape.

I wrench open my car door and walk quickly from the car, stretching tired muscles and breathing clean fresh air deeply into my lungs.

"Thank you, Jesus."

XxXxX

24 hours later...

"Sir, you have a call on line 2 - it's the director of the teamwork seminar in Leon."

I knew it was too much to hope for Mulder to behave himself for one seminar. I pick up the phone with resignation.

Five minutes later I'm talking to the Leon police department - apparently Mulder and Scully have volunteered their services with a hunt by Search and Rescue for a predator responsible for the possible homicide of three men in the forest near a housing track. The police make it clear they think that it's a waste of time and resources; they are focusing on a transient wanted for another double homicide.

What angers me most is I'm learning about their little adventure from everyone, but my own agents. What is Mulder thinking? The whole point of this seminar was to give them time to recover. Scully has only just been released from the hospital, for god's sake.

I try Mulder's cell and then Scully's - both are out of service.

XXX

"You were an Indian Guide. Help me out here," Scully gripes as she tries to make a spark with two rocks. I look at her little pile of sticks with mild amusement, "Indian Guide says maybe you should run to the store and get some matches." I was an Indian Guide for all of two months. My father was too busy after that...I remember how disappointed I was. It was one of the few times it was just the two of us. Scully gives up on the rocks. "I would, but I left my wallet in the car." She sits next to me and picks up her gun. "What are you doing?"
"Trying to open my gun. If I can separate the shell from the casing maybe I can get the powder to ignite." "Oh. And maybe it'll start raining weenies and marshmallows." "Do I detect a hint of negativity?"
"No. Yes ... actually. Yeah." I shiver and wince at the pain it causes. My entire shoulder feels as if it's on fire. "Mulder, you need to keep warm. Your body's still in shock." "I was told once that the best way to regenerate body heat was to crawl naked into a sleeping bag with some body else who's already naked." I snuggle a little closer to her against the log. "Well, maybe if it rains sleeping bags, you'll get lucky," she retorts dryly. Heartless...but then again, I'm actually thinking of who I'd rather get naked in a sleeping bag with right now... I imagine his big warm arms wrapped around me as we gaze up at the stars. It's a nice little fantasy. One I don't have a prayer of ever living out...he made that quite clear. All we can ever have is that one weekend...it has to be enough. I'm startled when Scully speaks again. "Have you thought seriously about dying?" "Yeah, once, when I was at the Ice Capades." She's not really scared we're going to die out here, is she? Or maybe my wound is worse than she's letting on... She stares down at the bullet, her face sad. "When I was fighting my cancer, I was angry at the injustice of it and its meaninglessness," she looks out into the darkness for a moment, "And then I realized that that was the struggle - to give it meaning. To make sense of it. It's like life." "I think Nature is supremely indifferent to whether we live or die. I mean, if you're lucky you get 75 years. If you're really lucky you get 80 years. And if you're extraordinarily lucky, you get to have 50 of those years with a decent head of hair." And that, of course, makes me think of his head...not that I minded his baldness...I seem to remember it being rather sexy. "I guess it's like Las Vegas. The house always wins." She manages to break the bullet open. "Oh! Ta-da." "Go, girl." I watch her get up and sprinkle the gunpowder on the pile of wood. Seeing her do this reminds me of a cave woman getting ready to cook food. I have to stop the thought there before I start imagining those weenies and marshmallows again. "Hey, who did you identify with when you were a kid? Wilma or Betty?" "I identified with Betty's bustline."
I smile at that, "Yes, I did, too."
"Could never have been married to Barney, though. The kids were cute." "But where are they today?"
The gunpowder explodes in one bright flash, and then it's gone. The wood didn't catch and I can't help grinning at that. She turns back to glare at me. " 'Moth Men'? Really?" I nod, despite the pain. "Yeah. But there seem to be only two of them." Scully sits back down and tugs me to shift down into her lap, the movement jostles my arm and I wince at the pain. "I don't wanna wrestle." "Get over here. I'm going to try and keep you warm." I shift until I'm lying in her lap. She accidentally rubs my wounded shoulder and I can't help grunting slightly. "Sorry," she mutters.
I'm so tired. My eyelids feel weighted, I close them, but I try not to fall asleep. "One of us has got to stay awake, Scully." "You sleep, Mulder."
I'm too relieved to argue. "If you get tired, you wake me." "I'm not going to get tired."
"Why don't you sing something."
"No... Mulder."
"Well, if you sing something, I'll know you're awake." "Mulder, you don't want me to sing. I can't carry a tune." "It doesn't matter. Just sing anything." I close my eyes and wait. There's a loooonnng pause. Finally I hear her sing; off key and utterly flat, "Jeremiah was a bull frog ---" I open my eyes in amazement, oh my god...I had no idea she was so bad... "...was a good friend of mine. Never understood a single word he said..." I pull my legs up closer and try desperately not too laugh. Not only will the movement hurt my shoulder, but I'm quite sure she'd hurt me. "... but I helped him drink his wine."
She pauses and I know she's hoping I've fallen asleep or given up on her. "Chorus."
Reluctantly she continues, "Joy ....to the world. All the boys and girls. Joy to the fishes in the deep blue sea. Joy to you and me."

XxXxX

"What do you mean they haven't checked in? They're missing? Well, who have you got looking for them? No, I'm sending you two agents - Stonecypher and Kinsley..."

I hang up my phone with such a bang that Kim pokes her head in worriedly.

I tell her to get the agents on the phone at the team seminar. Kingsley answers his phone timidly, but I'm in no mood for his simpering - "You and Stonecypher will get your asses in that forest with Search and Rescue and find agents Scully and Mulder NOW." I hang up the phone again and stare blindly down at my desk, I can't read the papers on my desk - the words swim and run together into one great blur. I can't concentrate on anything but the image in my head - Mulder laying on my sheets, bed-hair and sleepy grin as he listens to me whisper what I'm going to do to him.

I knew it was a mistake crossing that line...how can I possibly function as his supervisor? All I want to do is catch a plane right now and drive out into that forest myself. This isn't right...I thought I could go back to being detached - to regain my professionalism - if I just stayed away and told myself it was only a fling. But I realize now that it doesn't matter if it's been a week or a year or five - I'll never stop feeling this clench in my stomach at the very thought of losing him... And I'll never forgive myself if something happens to him...and I don't tell him how I feel.

XxXxX

The plane ride back to DC was a long one - the pain in my shoulder had me squirming until Scully finally forced me to take the painkillers I'd been prescribed. I hate being doped up, but I must admit that it did take the edge off and help me relax a bit. I slept the last twenty minutes of the trip and Scully woke me up with a gentle squeeze on my knee.

"Hey, Mulder - we're home. Do you feel like you can get up or do you want me to request a wheelchair?"

Her tone is completely sincere, but that doesn't stop me from glaring at her. "I'm fine." I lurch out of my chair and nearly take a tumble in the aisle before I regain my balance, clutching to the seats with my right hand.

"Come on, Mulder - you're going to collapse..."

I ignore her and manage to exit the plane without further incident. Scully's dragging our carryon behind us and I suppose I should be embarrassed, but it's all I can do to remain vertical.

"Let's go grab a cab-" she starts to say behind me, but another voice interrupts her - a low masculine no-nonsense voice.

"Actually, that won't be necessary, Agent Scully. I'll drive you two home." I wheel around to look at him and nearly lose my balance once more. A large steady hand reaches out to grip me by the elbow. "Are you all right, Agent Mulder?"

Scully pipes up to answer when I fail to respond right away. "He's fine, sir - just a reaction to the pain killers and exhaustion. I was going to make sure he got home safe."

He smiles a little tersely at that and shakes his head. "Like I said, I'll drive. I came to talk to the both of you about your little escapade these past few days, but I can see that neither of you are up to it just now. Follow me."

I find myself being led along with the large hand on my elbow as Skinner picks up my bag from Scully's hands and begins to stride towards the exit. Scully hurries to catch up and catch my eye at the same time. Her face is white and pinched and I can plainly read 'We're in deep shit' on her face.

No kidding.

His car is waiting in a nearby parking space and I gratefully sink back into the passenger seat. Normally I would have sat in the back and let Scully ride shot gun, but both she and Skinner came to an agreement that it would be easier on my shoulder to sit up front. As he exits the parking lot and pays the fee, I find myself experiencing some deja vu. He rode in the same seat in this same car the last time I was feeling this exhausted - he drove me to his apartment and even let me sleep on his couch while he made soup. I doubt I'm about to get the same invitation this time, though. He looks angry - very angry and I'm sure that while he may drop me off at my apartment for now, I'm facing a dressing-down once I return to work. Maybe even a suspension.

The things I do to avoid seminars...

I sigh and lean back in the seat and decide not to focus on it now - my head is swimming too much. I run my hands on the soft fabric of the seat and admire the sleek lines and obviously expensive interior of the car. He must spend all his money on his apartment and car...I love both of them. They reflect his personality so well - simple, elegant with no frills, but obvious substance. I realize I'm fondling the seat cushion like it was the warm soft skin of his chest and halt the movement of my hands. Sheesh, what was in that stuff they gave me?

"I'm wondering that myself at the moment - are you sure he's all right, Agent Scully?"

Uh, did I say the last part out loud? Please let it only be the last part...not the part about his soft skin... God, I'm never taking this stuff again - it's aspirin or nothing from now on...

"He's fine, sir. It's the exhaustion and hunger that is probably making the medicine affect him so much. He should just sleep it off." Scully's voice is quiet and serious - ultra professional and submissive to an angry boss. I wish I could tell her not to worry so much - I'm going to take full responsibility for us leaving the car and failing to show up for the seminar. It's my fault and I'll take the punishment gladly.

I close my eyes and try to focus on being quiet and not getting myself into any further trouble. Finally, the car pulls to a stop and I realize that we're at Scully's apartment. Shouldn't we have passed mine first?

Skinner helps her out with her bag and she takes the moment to lean forward and talk into my ear. "Don't say anything, Mulder - you're medicated. Just thank him for the ride and sleep it off at home."

I snort and wave her off - what does she think I'm going to say? She gives me a significant look before leaving the car and thanking our boss who has been standing patiently with her bag. I watch him hand her the bag and walk back to the car. Damn, he looks good. I'm only just now realizing that he's wearing his casual clothes - a dark blue polo shirt and khakis with loafers. He's rather edible, really... As he gets back into the car, I lean closer to him slightly and smell his after-shave - mmm, he smells good, too. I'd love to tug down that collar and lick him in that spot that makes him shiver...tell him how much I want to lick him all over...

Maybe Scully has a point. I lean back to the other side of the car and listen to him fasten his seatbelt and put the car in gear once more. We drive in silence. This time I'm aware of when he makes a turn that takes us away from my building and heads towards his own - why is he doing this? Should I argue? God, I'm so tired and the thought of lying on those dark blue sheets with his warm body lying next to me sounds so good...too good to argue. 'Course, I'll probably end up on his couch instead.

We pull into the parking garage and open our doors - still without speaking. Neither one of us seems to want to break the silence and the spell that's come over us. I follow him into the elevator and lean against the back wall. He stands close - so close I can smell that aftershave again. He shifts where he stands and I sense he's about to say something when the doors open and we're heading towards his apartment door silently again.

He opens the door and gestures me in. I stand in the middle of his apartment and wish I didn't feel so sick. I sway a bit where I stand and there's suddenly a strong hand at my elbow again. He leads me out of the living room and up the stairs. The bedroom...he's taking me to the bedroom. I'm sick, but not so sick that this doesn't send a thrill through me. I want to savor this...he said it wouldn't happen again - what changed his mind? Is it only for tonight?

I stand in front of the bed and stare at it - uncertain. He drops my bag behind me and sighs, turning me around to look at him. His glasses reflect the moonlight streaming through the windows and he hasn't turned a light on - the darkness makes him seem softer somehow, but the light on the glasses makes them impenetrable - I can't read his eyes.

"Mulder...I didn't want - I didn't know..." His voice is anguished and he swallows heavily, unable to continue. He shakes his head and looks off to the side, the change in angles lets me see his eyes behind the glasses and they almost seem wet. I reach a finger out to stroke his cheek and topple forward slightly, bumping into him. He catches me easily and pulls me close. "You're tired...you should be in bed." He pulls me towards the bed and pulls the covers down; he quickly undresses me with efficient ease and pushes me into the bed like a child - tucking me in.

"No, don't-" I protest, but my head on the pillow feels so good.

"Shh, we'll talk tomorrow. You're tired - we're both tired. It'll keep." He then tugs his own shirt off and unbuckles his belt. I watch him strip down to his underwear and climb in next to me. Warm arms wrap around me and I'm asleep before I can even register just how wonderful it feels.

XxXxX

I watch him drift off and feel relieved that I'm spared the difficult talk that lies ahead. I know how I feel about him and I know what I want...but I'm not a man that talks about such things easily. Still, as I look at his bruised face and the stark white bandages on his shoulder - I know that it will be well worth the effort it will take.

I could have lost him. I saw the pictures that were faxed of the pile of bodies he and Scully made to try and climb out of that hole. It's a sobering sight - no matter how many years of law enforcement one has under his belt. He was right to investigate such a dangerous predator. If it weren't for him that father would be dead and the Search and Rescue woman, too.

He sighs and shifts in his sleep and I pull him in as close as I dare without jostling his shoulder. Life is too fragile and short. I can't bear to lose one minute of our time together - no matter what the dangers.

XxXxX

To Be Continued...
 

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