Title: Air Conditioning

Author: Acidrain23

Hi all. This is my first fan fiction and my first posting thereof, so here's hoping it works.

DISCLAIMER: This for fun, not profit. This is more likely resulting in a loss of profit, since I wrote it at work. I don't own the characters of Mulder and Scully; someone much cooler than me (C.C., 10-13, etc.) does. And as for the characters I invented, you can have those too.

This is a plotless romance. Rated either R or NC-17 depending on your sensibilities.

And criticism, especially harsh and really mean stuff is welcome. You can tell me nice stuff too, if you can think of any, or point out inconsistencies and the like. Thanks for reading.

Regan (not Megan) acidrain23@aol.com

Summary: Mulder visits an unhappily married Scully and finds a way to reconnect.




Air Conditioning

by Acidrain23

Dana awakened, as she had so many times before, to the sound of the phone ringing. She turned over with a groan, her body fully feeling the scant three hours it had been asleep. As she hauled her heavy limbs from the bed, she noted grimly that Paul, in bed beside her, had not stirred. So good at sleeping through things -- the phone, the baby crying for a night feeding -- he really was a wonder, Dana thought to the kitchen phone. Well, maybe she should give him the benefit of the doubt -- maybe her ears were just more sensitive. After all, the phone didn't wake the baby, either.

"Hello?" she said into the phone, fighting to keep the sleepiness from her voice. Her efforts were greeted with silence. "Hello?" she asked again, timidly. No response. She sighed, replaced the receiver and walked softly back towards her room, trying not to be annoyed at the wasted trip to the kitchen. Probably someone for Paul, someone from the hospital, she thought to herself. Her mother certainly knew better than to call during the baby's best sleeping hours. Dana was grateful that her job didn't call her at all hours, anymore. Her job didn't call her anymore, period -- that was the great thing about working from home. She supposed she shouldn't resent Paul for his peaceful sleep -- being an emergency room doctor was a hard enough job. Besides, the money he made allowed her to work less lucratively from home, and be with the baby all day. Her baby. She paused by his crib, breathing in the warm, soft smell of baby powder, clean diapers and a cotton t-shirt. She smiled, realizing that she must smell the same way, with all the time she spent with him. She felt peaceful, awake like this in the sleeping house. The light of the just-breaking dawn slipped in under the shade of the nursery window. She turned softly to head back to bed. Paul did not stir as she slipped in beside him.

Dana set the baby belly-down on a blanket on the living room rug. He looked around the room, then at her and chuckled, as if delighted to be holding up his own head. Dana grinned back at him before settling herself in front of the computer to begin the day's work. The phone rang.

"Hello?"

"Scully?"

"Yes..." she answered uncertainly, then suddenly remembering:

"Mulder?"

"Yes," he said slowly, carefully. "I'm sorry -- it's been so long."

"It's good to hear from you," she responded, her voice barely louder than a whisper.

"How are you? How's--" Mulder paused, trying to give the illusion of having forgotten the man's name, a name he remembered only too often. "How's Paul?"

"Things are good, Mulder." She had regained some of her composure.

"How's your work?"

_My_ work -- no longer our work, Mulder thought to himself. He supposed he had always disapproved of her leaving the X-Files, of lacking his commitment. "I'm actually just now adjusting to 'normal' life," Mulder responded. "I've taken a leave of absence from the Bureau... trying to get a handle on the future, decide how my life's gonna go. It's not a midlife crisis or anything -- just a decision-making time," he said, with a rueful chuckle. "But things are good -- no attempts on my life, lonely life that it is." Mulder surprised himself. Why was he telling her all this? Did he really think she'd care? "But I guess you knew that; that's probably why you left."

"Part of it, certainly," Dana murmured. She did miss him. "Mulder, if you're on leave, why don't you come up and visit? We could catch up with each other, you could meet Paul, and some other important people in my life," she said, keeping an eye on the baby, "... we could just talk... like we used to."

"I'd like that," replied Mulder, feeling silly to be smiling into the phone. "Point me to some hotels in your area and I'll make arrangements -- for whenever's a good time for you guys."

"I'm flexible," Dana answered. "Next weekend would be fine, in fact.

But don't bother with a hotel, stay here with us."




Paul walked wearily in the door shortly after 9 pm. Dana came over to greet him; he kissed her cheek. "You're looking happy," he remarked. "Good day at the office?"

"Sure," she responded. "Oh -- before I forget -- we're having company next weekend. Sorry to not have run it by you, but I looked at your schedule and it seems you're working all weekend, so you won't have to deal with it. But I'll take care of everything, and make sure he's not in your way."

"He?" Paul asked, his expression darkening, wondering about the hopeful look in his wife's eyes.

"Yes. Mulder. My old partner, from the FBI."

"Mulder, hmm? I remember you telling me about him. Does he have a first name?"

"No, not one you can use," Dana responded. "Everyone calls him Mulder. He calls me Scully -- I guess you'll get used to that."

Paul didn't respond. He walked to the living room and sat down on the couch. "What are we doing for dinner?"

"I've got chicken in the oven. 15 minutes, tops."

Dana returned to the kitchen, humming to herself. Paul watched her movements, noting her happy expression. He wasn't sure he liked what he saw -- especially if it had anything to do with this Mulder.

The baby on the floor began to whimper. Dana knew from the sound - - he wanted to be held. He was building up to a big cry, if no one would pick him up. "Paul? Could you grab the baby for a sec? Dinner's almost ready."

Paul sighed. "I'm really tired."

"Not to worry; I'll get him," Dana reassured him, rushing into the room and scooping up the baby. It wasn't until she reentered the kitchen, baby in her arms, that she began to glower. Tired, hmph.

Dinner passed uneventfully. Paul talked about his work day while Dana ate quickly so that she could nurse the baby when she'd finished. It was already 11 by the time she had given him a bath and put him to bed and finished the dishes. She crashed into bed beside the already-sleeping Paul.




Friday afternoon

Dana buzzed Mulder into the building and ran to the bathroom to check her appearance. She studied her figure critically -- except for the increase in the size of her breasts, you really couldn't tell that she had given birth four months ago. As much as she had hated being sick right after her son was born, and relying so much on her mother -- she sure had dropped the weight fast. She made sure that the seams of her skirt were straight and left the bathroom, satisfied.

Mulder stood at the apartment door, bag on his shoulder, flowers in hand, a million thoughts running through his head. Would they get along anymore? After two years of the barest of contact with each other? Would she look different? Did _he_ look different? Above all, Mulder hoped he could still relate to his former partner -- despite her leaving the X-Files, her marriage and her apparently domestic life -- there was a lot he wanted to talk to her about.

The door in front of him opened, slowly. "Mulder? I thought you'd have knocked by now," Scully said with a warm smile, opening the door.

"I was taking a deep breath..." Mulder said with a grin, taking in her cropped black shirt, sleeveless, and the slim black skirt with a side slit.

"You look fantastic."

"Thank you," she blushed, dropping her eyes. Still the old charmer, when he wanted to be. "Come in," she invited.

Mulder stepped inside the apartment, feeling the coolness of the air conditioning after the heat outside.

"Take your things?" Scully asked, reaching for his bag.

He handed her the flowers instead. "These are for you."

"Thank you," she said, taking them to the kitchen to get a vase. "Why don't you put your bag over there by the couch."

Mulder moved to the couch and secured his bag under one of the side tables.

"Can I get you something? Coffee?" Scully asked from the kitchen.

"No thank you. Come join me. There's so much catching up we have to do," Mulder responded.

"I'll be right there," Scully answered, leaving the kitchen and moving down the hall towards what Mulder guessed were the bedrooms. "Make yourself comfortable."

Mulder looked around the living room. He could tell that Scully had decorated the place, since it resembled her old DC apartment. He even recognized some of the furniture. There was a balcony off of the living room; the view was of the park across the street and the city beyond. What was that one big building called again? He really couldn't remember. He heard Scully's footsteps behind him and turned to the sound of her voice.

"I'd like you to meet someone."

Mulder stared. Scully was holding a baby. A cute one -- but a baby all the same. He gasped.

Scully grinned. "I'm sorry, I would have written to tell you, but, funny thing is, I've been very busy since he arrived."

"What's his name?" Mulder croaked, reaching out a tentative hand to stroke the baby's soft fingers.

"Hunter," she responded.

Just then a key turned in the lock of the apartment door. "Now you get to meet Paul," Scully said, moving towards the door.

Paul entered the room, his eyes seeking out Mulder. He did not relax when he saw him, taking in his weekend rival -- the tall man, handsome and not gray like himself.

"Paul, I'd like you to meet Mulder," Scully said. "Mulder, Paul."

The two men each stepped forward to shake hands. "Nice to meet you," Paul said. "I see you've already met my son. C'mere Hunter," he said, reaching to take the baby from Scully. Scully looked at him with surprise. It wasn't like him to hold the baby when he came in tired from work. But she could understand his feeling possessive, with Mulder there.

"Hunter, great name," Mulder said.

"Hunter Fox," Paul responded. "Future boy scout!"

Mulder's heart dropped to his stomach, not knowing what to feel. He looked at Scully, only to be met with what he would consider her best 'warning' glance. "Family name?" he asked.

"Dana thought of it," Paul responded. "I guess we just thought it sounded nice."




Dinner -- pasta with bread and a salad -- went very well, Paul doing his best to be pleasant and Mulder answering questions in ways he knew were best. He couldn't wait for time alone with Scully, to finally be able to talk to her. After dinner Paul excused himself to go to bed, remarking that he had an early morning and a long day ahead of him. Scully put the baby to bed and rejoined Mulder in the kitchen, taking over doing the dishes from him.

"Baby doesn't get dinner?" he asked.

"Oh, I fed him before you came," Scully said with a slight flush.

"Didn't want to overwhelm you with family life."

When they had finished the dishes they went into the living room and sat down, taking mugs of Earl Gray tea with them. Scully arranged herself on the couch, tucking one leg under her. Mulder sat sideways on the other end, facing her.

"So..." Scully began tentatively, uncertainly.

"So..." Mulder picked up the thread. "Why Paul?"

Scully smiled ruefully. "Right to the point. Why? Did you not like him?"

"He doesn't appreciate you."

"Did you?"

"It sure was hard to, after you left the X-Files."

"Mulder--" Scully began, then changing her tact. "You haven't found anyone to settle down with?"

"I don't settle," he replied, with an undeniable hint of condescension.

"But I am..." his approach growing softer, "... I am, rethinking my life. Like I told you on the phone. I have to figure out where I want to be."

"And I'm noticing you had to leave the X-Files to do it..." Scully pointed out.

Mulder sighed. This conversation was going nowhere. "Scully, I don't know what I want to say to you. I don't know what I want to be to you. I just know that I've missed whatever it was that we had. And now I feel like I can't even identify with you."

Scully was silent. Mulder wished he could hear her thoughts speaking aloud in his head the way his own were. He wondered if any of them were considering what she wanted to be to him, and whatever it was that they had had.

"Do you love your husband?" Mulder suddenly blurted. "Do you love your life? Because I really can't picture the Scully that I knew and loved in a life like this."

Knew and loved?! Is that what he said?

"Mulder," Scully said softly, "It's your first night here. We have lots of things to sort through, feelings to work out. Let's do it slowly, ok?"

Mulder nodded, understanding. He was saying too much. "Bed?"

"Yes, please. I don't have your energy," Scully smiled softly.

They rose from the couch at the same time. Mulder brought their empty mugs to the kitchen and rejoined Scully near the hallway.

"Couch for me?"

"Nothing but the best for you."

They smiled at each other, and Mulder wrapped her in a fierce hug.

"See you in the morning," he whispered.

Scully turned and went down the hall to her bedroom. Mulder dimmed the living room lights and lay down on the couch, thinking. In the bedroom, Scully softly changed into pajamas so as not to wake Paul. She crept into bed beside him and took a deep breath. Knew and loved... knew and loved...




Scully's sharp ears detected a whimper, and she rolled over to look at the clock. 3 am -- middle-of-the-night snack time for a certain baby. Slipping from the bed, Scully made her way to the nursery. She picked up the baby and held him close, his cries subsiding as she whispered to him.

"Are you hungry?" She carried him out of his room and into hers, walking silently past the bed to the balcony. She stepped outside, the summer air warm on her skin after the air conditioning of the house. She loved this time of night, despite how tired it made her during the day. The stars hung low in the sky. She unbuttoned her pajama top, the warm breeze tickling her skin. Arranging the baby belly-to-belly with her in her arms, she offered him her breast to feed him.

As he drank, she walked slowly back and forth along the balcony, singing softly. She did not notice Mulder come out on the balcony from the living room door until he was next to her. "Hi."

Scully pulled together her open shirt to cover her bare breasts.

"Don't." he said, stroking her cheek and looking down at the baby, contentedly sucking. "You're beautiful."

She cast her eyes down.

"I hope I'm not bothering you," he continued. "I had opened the balcony door for some unconditioned air..." he said, noting her smile, "And I heard you out here."

"It's ok," Scully said, in a near whisper.

Mulder brought his hand up again, this time to caress the baby's cheek with the backs of his fingers. "So soft," he said to her in wonder. He moved his fingers from the baby's cheek to the skin of her breast. Scully's pulse quickened; she held her breath. "So soft..." He brought his head in to hers.

"Mulder..." she whispered, dropping her head just in time.

"I'm sorry," he whispered back, quickly. "I'll leave you two alone."

Scully followed him into the living room. "It's okay; he's asleep. I'm putting him back down." She carried the baby back to the nursery and lay him in his crib, rubbing his back to ensure that he went completely to sleep. Mulder appeared beside her and watched in fascination. She heard him chuckle. "What is it?" She followed his gaze and saw him looking at the baby's mobile, hanging in the corner of the room.

"Planets and spaceships," he whispered, amused. "Should've guessed."

"I've never forgotten, Mulder," she said, turning to him. "You knew that, right?"

"Why did you leave?" he whispered, a painful note in his voice.

"I had to -- Mulder -- I had lost so much. My father, my sister, my life... and when I realized that I couldn't have..." she trailed off, reluctant to finish.

"You couldn't have what, Scully?"

She looked miserable, wishing she hadn't spoken. "Spending my life as a quest... Mulder, I needed to stop wanting. I needed to start having. I needed someone to need me, to love me..." she couldn't finish.

"Paul?" Mulder asked.

"Not really... Hunter. My baby. Do you understand?"

"Yes," Mulder exhaled. "I just wish I could've been the one to give him to you."

Scully felt his hands on the bare skin of her waist, sliding around, enveloping her in an embrace. "It's not too late," he whispered into the air. "It's not too late." He kissed her then, feeling her warmth, tasting her essence. He felt like he was feeding off her, satisfying the deepest hunger. His hands sought out her breasts and held them, feeling their weight in his palms. He could feel her heart pounding as he caressed her skin, kissing her neck, punctuating it with a small bites.

She gasped as her shirt slid off her shoulders. Her mind whirled, but she couldn't think of a reason to tell him to stop. He guided her down to the floor of the nursery and covered her body with kisses, not saying a word. Noting with pleasure that she wore no panties, he slid off her pajama bottoms.

"Undress me," he commanded softly, and she complied, feeling for the first time the skin of his

chest, breathing in his scent. She slid off his boxer shorts and he let his weight fall on top of her. She relished the feeling of his skin -- all of his skin. When he entered her, she moaned softly. "Shh," he breathed, covering her mouth with his. He began to move inside her, slowly, powerfully. She closed her eyes.

In the bedroom, Paul stirred, noticing that Dana was not in the bed.

He guessed that she was feeding the baby and listened for her singing. When he heard only silence, he rolled over and switched on the baby monitor by her side of the bed.

"Dana, I love you."

"Fox..."

Their voices mingled as their words dissolved into soft moans of pleasure.

THE END

Archivist's Note: People ask about the sequel, which is unofficial (meaning permission wasn't granted before being written due to this author no longer having a valid e-mail address) and it's Night Air by Chriswife. http://fluky.gossamer.org/cgi-bin/read.cgi?ln/NightAir.Chriswife




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