Surrender

by Nikita


Title: Surrender
Author: Nikita
Summary - Mulder surrenders at the end of Brand X. Pairing: M/Sk
Author's Notes - established relationship - this takes place at the end of Brand X. Warnings: Smoke, addiction, and no sex in sight. Somewhat schmoopy Feedback: Yes, please. nik_cleo@hotmail.com Website: www.koukla.net/nikita_slash
Livejournal: http://www.livejournal.com/users/nikita79x/ XXX

MULDER: Well, they say the addiction is stronger than heroin. (He smells the pack.)
SCULLY: Mulder...
(After a beat, MULDER drops the pack into the trashcan. SCULLY nods in satisfaction.) SCULLY: Good. Well, Skinner's waiting for us in his office. MULDER: I'll be right up.

XXX

Scully's heels click rapidly away towards the elevator and I look back at the trashcan.

It's still sitting there.

Waiting for me.

I bought the pack this morning on a whim. Didn't even really think about it. I fell back into the routine as if I'd never stopped.

And that's what's bugging me - that Scully has no clue that I'm not thinking about 'starting' to smoke...I'm thinking - no, fairly sure, that I'm about to smoke again.

I reach down and pluck the cigarettes from the trashcan. The wrapper crinkles familiarly as I slowly tear it off the package. God, I remember that sound...and that feel of the smooth cardboard beneath the wrapper. I flip open the top and stare at the perfectly formed cigarettes inside.

I wish I could duck outside right now and light one up, but like Scully said - Skinner's waiting. And I can't go up stinking of smoke right now when I'm about to be confined in an office with them. Just picturing those accusing eyes staring at me from both ends of the desk makes me shudder.

I stand up and tuck the cigarettes into my coat pocket.

Later, I promise myself silently.

XXX

I thought the day would never end...Scully seemed to be watching me at every step and I couldn't fine a moment to slip away. It might have just been paranoia - or maybe she was simply watching me out of concern for my health, but the package of cigarettes seemed to be burning through my pocket. Did she see the outline of it through the coat? Could she smell the fresh nicotine? Did she look into my trashcan?

I was jumpy all day and barely got a think done before finally mumbling an excuse and leaving at five. I could feel her eyes on me as I ducked out the door and I briefly worried that my absence would give her an excuse to check out my trash, but my relief at finally escaping her accusing presence kept my feet heading away from the office.

The privacy of my car almost convinced me to light up right there, but I needed to get away from the building before it'd be really safe to let down my guard. And once I started driving, I realized that I wanted to wait until I could enjoy the experience so I continued home with the cigarettes sitting patiently on the dashboard in front of me.

The apartment was silent and empty - perfect. I set the cigarettes down on the table and shed my jacket and tie quickly and efficiently before reaching for the pack. I pulled one out and rolled it between my index finger and thumb before placing it between my lips - the feel of it reminded me of the last time I'd smoked - about four months before Scully joined the X-Files. I'd smoked my last cigarette sitting alone in my apartment just as I was about to now. Funny thing is...I can't remember why I ever decided to give it up. All I can think of now is lighting up.

And then I realize I don't carry a lighter anymore. A quick search of the kitchen yields matches and I break one before getting the second to light. My fingers tremble slightly as I light it - excitement or addiction? Somewhere in the back of my mind I hear a voice scolding me for giving into this... But the voice sounds too much like Scully and shut it out again.

I take a drag.

Ahhhhh....

That's it. That's the feeling I've missed. The first pull of the smoke inside - filling my lungs and holding it for just a second before exhaling it...and I feel my tension go with it in a gust of oxygen and smoke - dissipating into a hazy cloud somewhere above me. It burns in all the right places in my throat and lungs - the smell that is filling the room is so familiar.

I close my eyes and enjoy the sensations - taking drag after drag without bothering to move from the kitchen counter. I take another puff and think about practicing on my smoke rings...

"What the hell do you think you're doing?!"

I choke and cough - ruining my attempt to create the ring - and in the process, forget how to breathe.

I gasp and struggle to stop coughing - a hand is beating hard on my back and I'm doubled over from the force of the blows and my own weakness.

"Breathe, Mulder! Damn it!"

Fingers pluck the dangling cigarette from my clawed hand and flick it into the sink before returning to the pounding on my back.

I start to get air back into my lungs and succeed somewhat at lessening my cough. I straighten up slowly and put a hand out to stop the blows. " 'm all right - stop..."

The thumping stops, but the face before me is far from happy at my assurance. "You sure? Sounded like you're trying to cough up those shredded lungs of yours." Skinner's face is large and angry - I think I can see a vein pulsing on his forehead.

I open my mouth to respond, but cough instead.

He shakes his head disgustedly and reaches behind me without a word, filling a glass with water and shoving it in my hand. "Drink."

I take a sip and wince at the burning feeling as I swallow. Any healing my throat had managed since my stay in the hospital has been completely reversed. I glance up from the glass sheepishly. "Thanks," I rasp and wince yet again - my voice is even worse than it was this morning.

I didn't think he could get angrier, but I was wrong - at the sound of my voice he becomes almost purple with rage. He takes a deep breath, though, and I can see that iron will of his clamping down on his anger to keep himself under control. Barely.

"You want to tell me, now that you've stopped gasping for breath, what the hell you were thinking?" he asks in a deceptively quiet voice.

This is almost worse than him yelling at me. I shake my head. "I wasn't, really...I just..."

"No kidding," he snorts, crossing his arms in front of him, "you get out of the hospital after almost dying - and the first thing you do is go and smoke a cigarette?" He's glaring at me and I squirm under his gaze.

"Actually, I went to work first..." I answer in my usual cocky attitude - its ruined by my cheese-grater voice box.

"Oh, yes - I know. You were distracted all throughout the meeting this morning."

He's right - I couldn't stop thinking about the damn cigarettes and how much I needed one to get through such a long day ahead. Damn it. I'm suddenly ashamed that I caved to the addiction. I'd gone so long without them and I just ruined it.

And I hate that he caught me at it. I wish I could rewind the day and start over - I'd steer clear of that newsstand and grab a cup of coffee at the Starbucks instead. Caffeine might be my second addiction, but it'd be a lot kinder on my throat right now.

"You're right," I say with a sigh and pick up the cigarettes from the counter. I push past him and toss them into the trashcan for good. "I won't smoke another one. It was stupid."

He looks so surprised at my capitulation that I can't resist grinning. Well, it was almost worth it if I can get his eyebrows to go that high up his forehead. He slowly relaxes and drops his arms to his sides. Shaking his head, he leans back against the counter - the tension and anger is gone just as quickly - I admire his ability to let go of it so easy.

"What I don't understand is why you started in the first place," he admits.

"That's easy - my dad left a pack on the coffee table one morning."

The sight of his eyes bugging out at me is priceless...what would he do if he knew that the thing I love most about being with him is trying to crack that tough exterior of his. I love it when I can get a reaction out of him. Incredulous looks like these are wonderful. But my favorite reaction is a laugh. It's damned hard to make him laugh out loud - even a chuckle is hard to tease out of him. He makes me work hard for it. And I wouldn't have it any other way - I love a challenge.

But right now he's staring at me in such a way that even my craziest theories on aliens and conspiracies and Elvis have never produced.

"I was sixteen," I explain.

He blinks. "Oh...I never knew you smoked..."

"I did. I quit. But this whole case made me crave it again."

And finally I see the wheels begin to spin again and his shock is replaced with understanding. "You should have said something. I would have understood..."

I shrug. "And you would have bought me a lighter?"

"No..." he steps forward and puts his hands on my shoulders. "I would have tied you to a chair until the craving went away. I hate cigarettes, Mulder. I don't like to smell them and I don't like the idea of someone I love smelling like them, either."

I flash on the image of CSM and nod. "Me neither. It won't happen again. I'm cured." And I am. The very idea of emulating that son of a bitch...

"Good," he whispers and leans forward. I lean forward as well, eager. "Because lips that touch cigarettes will never touch mine..."

He then spins me around and marches me to the bathroom to brush my teeth before he kisses me.

END
 

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