Title: "More Like a Miracle"
Author: Angela W.
Rating: PG-13
Category: Angst, Mulder/Scully comfort; a bit of romance.
Timespan/Spoilers: Set immediately after "Milagro" with major spoilers for that episode; minor mention of events from other episodes.
Summary: Mulder and Scully deal with the after-effects of their encounter with Padgett.
Disclaimer: The characters in this story do not belong to me. They are the property of Chris Carter and 1013 Productions.
Archive: Feel free to archive anywhere!
Feedback: Feedback of a polite nature, including
*constructive* criticism is welcome. If you're just
not a shipper, go read something else.

First person, Mulder's point of view throughout most of the story, with a brief epilogue that's first person, Scully's POV.

Scully continues to cry and claw at me and I hold her
closer, if that's possible. Finally, two thoughts
occur to me. First, that in addition to being scared
half to death, she may be in physical pain. Secondly,
she can't exactly be comfortable lying on my hardwood
floor with me crouched over her like this.

So I stand partially up and sort of half-carry,
half-walk her to my couch, where I sit down with her
in my lap. She buries her face in my neck and
continues to cry. "Scully," I murmur. "Scully, listen
to me. I know you're scared, sweetheart, and that's
understandable. It's perfectly okay. But I need to see if you're physically hurt. Okay?"

She makes a wordless, whimpering sound against my
neck. I gently lift her face with one hand beneath her chin, so I can look into her eyes. I keep my other arm around her shoulders, so that only a hair's breadth separates our bodies.

"Is that your blood?" I ask.

She draws a deep, shakey breath and closes her eyes.
"I guess so. I was so scared, Mulder!"

"I know. So was I. You don't seem to have lost too
much blood. Do you need me to call an ambulance?"

"No, I think I'll be okay."

"Well, let's get you into the bathroom, get you
cleaned up and have a look at it, hmmm?"

She nods and slides off my lap. I stand up and
entwine our hands, then lead her through my
seldom-used bedroom into the bathroom. Once we reach
it, I gently disentangle our hands and quickly flick
open the buttons of her blouse, then slide it off her
shoulders. I grab a washcloth and dampen it with warm
water, then wipe the blood off of her.

"Scully, I don't really see any wound. Are you sure
this is your blood? Where do you hurt?"

"I. . .don't know, Mulder. It all happened so fast.
It hurt at the time. I remember screaming; not just
from fear, because I wanted you to come back, but
because of the pain. But now I think it's all right. I feel kind of dizzy, like I would if I'd lost blood,
and I'm still scared, but I'm not really in pain."

She balances her hands on either side of my waist and
leans against me. I don't know if it's because she's
off-balance or frightened, or maybe a little bit of
both. Suddenly, her head jerks up.

"Mulder! The killer! Padgett, or his accomplice, or
both of them. We gotta stop 'em, Mulder! We need to
call for backup, we need to get moving."

I nod. I think Scully's just realized she's standing
in my bedroom, in front of me, wearing only a bra
above her waist and maybe it's embarrassing her.

"You're right. Let's find you something to wear --
we're going to need this blouse for evidence -- call
dispatch to get some back up and get back down to the
furnace room. That's where I last saw Padgett," I say briskly.

I dig through my drawers and finally come up with a
white T-shirt that shrunk when I'd inadverdently
tossed in with my towels the last time I did laundry.
This means it's only about three sizes too big for
Scully. She puts it on and tucks it in, then pulls her jacket on over it. We call for backup and go back
downstairs. Holding hands. Which is, I KNOW, not
bureau procedure, but I can tell Scully's still
scared. It's rare that she lets me play protector --
usually she's the one taking care of me -- and I
intend to relish every moment of it. At any second,
she could snap out of it and issue me a terse, "I'm
fine, Mulder".

We find Padgett's body. We get backup. We get the
whole rigamarole of explaining everything a dozen
times over. We have stopped holding hands -- I shudder to even THINK what kind of rumors would start flying if other agents saw us doing that -- but we keep touching as much as we can get away with in public. My hand on the small of her back. Her hand gripping my forearm, in much the same way it did in Padgett's jail cell. Once, when I don't think anyone is looking, I reach up and touch her face softly with my fingertips, like I'm brushing a strand of hair away from her eyes, even though there is no hair there.

Finally, we are in Skinner's office, just the three
of us. "So you're saying Padgett was the killer. That
he was somehow. . .psychically materializing himself,
even while he was in jail, to commit the murders."

 "I'm not sure exactly how to explain it, sir," I say
slowly. "It's possible that there's still an actual
person out there who was his accomplice.  I don't
think there will be any more killings now that
Padgett's dead, but we may need to be looking for the
second killer in order to bring him to justice. I'm
not saying the case is closed."

"It's closed at least for tonight, Agent Mulder,"
Skinner says. His voice is as gruff as always, but I
sense an underlying concern in it. "Take your partner
home. She's had a rough day."

"Yes, sir," I reply. Scully and I walk out of the
office, my hand on the small of her back. The urge to
wrap my arm around her shoulders is strong, but I
resist it. It's after eleven, but for all I know, the
company of Spender & Son is lurking around the corner
looking for new and unusual ways to discredit us.

When we get to her apartment, I walk in with her,
then turn to face her. I want to offer to spend the
night, but can't think of a way to phrase it without
having it sound like some kind of cheesy come-on.
Amazingly, for once, sex is not on my brain. All I
want to do is comfort her, protect her. "You okay,
Scully?" I ask gently.

I have mentally braced myself for her usual "I'm
fine, Mulder," so I'm astounded when the actual answer I get is "I'm still scared, Mulder."

"Want me to stay?" I ask, praying to a God I'm not
sure I believe in that she will understand.

"Yes," she whispers.

"I can sleep on the couch," I suggest.

"No," she says, her voice so soft I can barely hear
it. My heart does a funny sort of back-flip in my
chest. She wants me with her. Really with her. I want
it, too.

"Okay," I say gently. I reach out and take hold of
her hand, then lead her into the bedroom. A thought
scuttles through my mind before I can stop it -- this
is the second time today I've taken Scully's hand and
led her into a bedroom; you'd think it would lead to
something more exciting than. . .down boy! -- this is
about comfort, friendship and trust. And, okay, it's
about love. But not that kind of love. At least, not
for tonight.

"You wanna just sleep in my shirt?" I suggest. "It's
probably as long on you as that nightgown you usually
wear when we're on the road."

She nods and quickly kicks off her shoes and pulls
off her knee-high stockings, then slides off her
slacks and slips into bed. I yank my crew sweater over my head, then sit down on the bed to remove my shoes and socks. I stand back up and remove my holster and weapon. I reach for my belt, then my hands freeze. Without conscious thought, I had began my usual ritual of undressing down to my T-shirt and boxer-briefs, but it suddenly occurs to me that Scully may get the wrong idea from my strip act.

"Mulder," she murmurs sleepily, apparently reading my
mind with ease, "go ahead and take off your jeans. You won't be comfortable if you try to sleep with them on, and it's not like I haven't seen you in less."

I nod and make quick work of my belt and jeans, then
slide into bed beside her.

"You can read for awhile, if you want," she says
softly. "I know you don't sleep as much as I do."

"That's okay, Scully, I'm tired, too. But we can
leave the lamp on if you want."

"No, it's all right. I won't be scared as long as
you're with me." She reaches for my hand again and
falls asleep almost as soon as she's given it one more gentle squeeze.

I wasn't kidding when I said I was tired, but I don't
fall asleep right away. Heck, I don't want to. Being
able to lie here in the dark beside Scully, her hand
in mine, is closer to heaven than I'd ever thought I'd get. Errant thoughts dance across my mind. Scully was right when she says I sleep less than she does. Dad never slept as much as Mom, either, even before the whole Samantha thing. I can also remember going to my grandparents' house when I was little and Dad and Grandpa staying up late, talking or playing cards, long after Grandma had gone to sleep. I wonder if ALL men sleep less than their wives or if it's some sort of trait that just runs through males in the Mulder family , like our fondness for sunflower seeds? I called Scully "sweetheart" when I first found her. She was probably too upset to notice, or else she would have shot me again. It's funny that I would say that, because one of the things that both Phoebe and Diane always used to complain about was my refusal -- more like an inability, really -- to use endearments. Of course, I say all kinds of things to Scully that I would never would never have dreamed of saying to either of those two. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that Phoebe was a psycho bitch and Diane was a consortium whore, while Scully is. . .my partner. Things like "I love you" and "Marry me". Scully thinks I was drugged when I said the first and joking when I said the second. Nope. I was stone-cold sober and absolutely serious both times. Maybe being in a hospital bed for one and speaking over a cell phone for the other sort of hurt my credibility. She
resonded pretty much like I would have hoped when I
managed to get out "You've saved me and made me a
whole person," while standing directly in front of
her. If only that damned bee hadn't.  .  .

I wake up in the middle of the night to find that,
while I was sleeping, my body and subconscious mind
apparently outvoted my conscious mind on exactly how I was going to behave while sharing a bed with Scully. Talk about your naked pretzels! Okay, okay, so we aren't naked. But we're definitely doing a human pretzel. I've got Scully spooned up against me and our arms and legs are so entangled it's hard to tell where she ends and I begin. And if she wakes up and happens to notice something is poking her in the back, I can say, "No, Scully, that's not a gun in my pocket, I'm just happy to see you!"

Figuring she'll kill me -- or, at the very least,
kick me out of her bed -- if she wakes up and finds us snuggled together like this, I try to disentangle
myself from her. But I'm stopped by her voice
murmuring a word I haven't heard from her in years.
"Fox," she says sleepily. Just that. Just my despised
first name. Unlike a lot of women I've known over the
years, Scully is wonderful about not insisting on
using my first name, and it's one of the things I've
always loved about her, along with approximately eight thousand other things. But hell! If she makes a habit of purring it out while she's sleeping in my arms, I could actually grow to LIKE my first name! Looks like her subconscious doesn't obey her conscious mind anymore than mine does.

I'm not sure if saying my name is supposed to elicit
a response or not, so I just say "Mmmmm?" sleepily.

"I love you," she whispers against my skin.

My heart stops completely for a moment. I was
beginning to wonder if I would EVER hear those words
from her. The minor fact that she's probably still
asleep and won't remember saying it in the morning
doesn't dilute the power of the statement. I respond
in the only way possible. "I love you, too, Dana."

She sighs happily and rolls over, burying her face in
my neck. I turn onto my back, so that it's no longer
quite so blatantly obvious to her how this whole
situation is affecting me. She inhales deeply and then drifts back into a deeper sleep. I wonder blearily if my scent is a soothing to her as hers is to me, and then I'm out again.

The ear-splitting sound of an alarm going off jerks
me into consciousness. I roll over and reach to shut
it off. When my hand encounters another hand also
fumbling for the snooze button, I realize where I am.
And that I am lying directly on top of Scully.

"Mulder, move!" she snaps. "You're squashing me!"

I push up with my arms to take some of my weight off
of her, but don't actually move. I stare down into her eyes and say, "Glad to see you're feeling better,
sunshine!" I mean it, too. As much as I enjoyed all
the snuggling and comforting I got to indulge in last
night, it just about broke my heart to see her so
scared. I like her the way she usually is: brave,
smart, funny and unwilling to take crap from anybody,
especially me.

She smiles up at me then -- one of those
breathtakingly beautiful smiles I get from her about
once every six months, if I'm lucky -- and grips my
biceps with her small, strong hands. The psychologist
in me is beginning to wonder about this newfound
obsession she has with touching my arms and hands. But the man in me just wants to wallow in it. And ask if she's taking nominations for what section of my
anatomy gets to be "most favored body part" next week.

"Thank you," she says. "For taking care of me." The
words echo a statement I made to her, years ago, in
the desert of New Mexico.

I lean down so that our faces are almost touching.
I'm going to kiss her, the only question is where. I
want, badly, to kiss her on the mouth. For once, I'm
absolutely certain she wouldn't resist. But if I do
that, then my control is going to snap completely.
It's hanging by only the silkiest of gossamer threads
as it is. We touch our lips together and, inevitably,
we are going to be about six hours late for work. AND
arrive giving off vibes so strong that not only will
Skinner take one look at us and immediately assign me
to Miami and Scully to Seattle, Bill Junior will sense them all the way out in the middle of the Pacific Ocean and arrive in Washington to personally beat the crap out of me before I leave. When we finally do that -- and, for the first time, I know that it is a question of when, not if -- we're going to have to have the luxury of a few days to ourselves to regain our composure before we face the rest of the world. So I settle for a quick kiss on her forehead and roll out of bed before I can change my mind.

"I'll see you at the office in about an hour," I say,
as I tug on my jeans, slip on my shoes, grab my weapon and holster and head out the door.

Once I hear the door close behind Mulder, I stretch
sinuously. I feel almost feline. And very female. I
may not be a psychologist like my partner, and I may
not share his belief in psychic ability, but I knew
EXACTLY what was going through his mind as he lay atop me this morning. If I hadn't been able to read it in his eyes, he was providing me with a HUGE clue a little bit lower down!

He wants us to. I want us to. But neither one of us
wants our first time to be a quickie sandwiched in
between the time the alarm goes off and our 9 a.m.
meeting with Skinner.

I want to stay in bed for a while, to simply
luxuriate in his scent on my pillows and the imprint
of his body on my sheets. Well, the imprint of our
bodies. We were cuddled up so closely, there's just
this kind of octopus shape in the middle of the bed.
But I know he'll worry if he gets to the office first
and I'm not there yet.

So I get out of bed and head toward the bathroom. For
once, I ignore my military upbringing and own love of
order and leave the bed unmade. This morning, I prefer it rumpled. I pull his shirt over my head and toss it on the floor. Hope he doesn't think he's ever getting it back, 'cause I plan on sleeping in it from now on. A stray thought wanders through my mind as I step into the shower. Mom always liked to wear one of Ahab's shirts to sleep in. I wonder if all women have this desire to wear their husband's clothes, or if it's just the females in our family.

I know Mulder thinks he got away with something last
night. My memory may not be eidetic, like his, but
it's not as poor as he seems to think, either. I know
he called me "sweetheart" when he first found me. AND
I remember what we said to each other when we woke up
in the middle of the night.

But he doesn't know that I know, and for just a
little while longer, I'm content to leave it that way.