The larkspur rises in spikes from the garden, blooming rich and blue as twilight.
Missy, in all of her half-baked witchy wisdom, used to say the flowers provided protection from evil spirits, that they symbolized true love. Rich, considering that larkspurs were a deadly poison, carrying highly toxic alkaloids that killed gourmandizing free-range cattle by the paddock every spring. 1501 Larkspur Lane was aptly named. A place for spirits, a rancid core of death wrapped up in a pretty story about eternal love.
She can’t help but think that Mulder dragged her out there on Christmas Eve to distract her from thoughts of Emily. She loathed to imagine that he felt sorry for her, that he’d plot a night of cheap thrills for her benefit, as if she were some wilting rose, incapable of living with the weight of her grief.
Then again, maybe it hadn’t been a distraction after all. Maybe there really was a part of Mulder that wanted to bind his soul to hers forever - he was a romantic at heart, and she could see how the tragic lyricism of a murder-suicide would appeal to him.
If only he knew the options.
If only he knew how often the question had rested in her mouth, squatting on the flat of her tongue like a toad. This is how we do eternity, Mulder. We create life. The most permanent of intimacies, the two of us unified in chromosomes, stitched together in strands of DNA.
Scully sighs and turns over in bed, resigning herself to sleeplessness. The leftover buzz of fear bristles through her veins, and she thinks of blood, of betrayal, of the fireplace still warm. Maurice and Lyda, trapped in that house… but it was all in her head. It had to be. A mutual hallucination, maybe brought on by some unknown environmental contaminant, mold in the walls, or perhaps by her compromised emotional state…
She heaves another weary breath into her chest, glancing at the clock. 4 AM. Screw it. It’s Christmas, damn it, and on Christmas, you should be with the one you love.
Mulder is happy to see her.
They trade sheepish apologies and hungry looks, packages in festive paper. Beside him on the couch, she rips into hers with abandon - Mulder’s rare gifts are always puzzling, always a challenge, more of an experience than a thing in itself. They’re extensions of him and all of his complexity, like little pieces of his soul.
She pops the plastic lid off of the cardboard tube, and shakes out a tightly-packed roll of newsprint, flicking her eyes up at Mulder in the process. He’s watching her, his own gift half-unwrapped in his hands. She digs through the nest of paper, flirting - “Hmm… let me guess, a replica of an ancient ritualistic phallus?”-” and then she finds it, and the breath is stolen from her lungs.
A spyglass, very old, but in beautiful condition. Scully blinks slowly and runs her fingers along the smooth brassy curve of it, transfixed by the craftsmanship, the history. Holding it aloft, she extends the draw and examines the maker’s mark, smelling the sweet scent of old metal. Her thoughts wheel, trying to eke out the deeper meaning, but she stops herself. She’d rather savour the challenge, turn it over in her mind for days, extract the message slowly, like fine oil.
“It’s wonderful,” she breathes, and he beams down at her in relief. “You like it?” he asks, and she brings one of her hands up to his jaw, thumbing at the corner of his canted smile. He presses his lips to her knuckle. “I love it. Now open yours.”
He finishes shredding the wrapping paper, uncovering a worn VHS tape, the cover faded. His head juts forward, jaw agape.
“Holy shit, Scully, Destination Inner Space? I’ve been looking for this for -”
“- years, I know, so now you can shut up about it -”
“How did you find -”
“- Oh, you know, Langley knew a guy who knew a guy…”
He sets the tape on the coffee table and cups his palms around her cheeks, kissing an eyebrow, the bridge of her nose. “You little…” he says through gritted teeth, and pulls her into a long and elaborate kiss. His hot breath is in her mouth, his fingers locking into the hair at the back of her neck. She flickers her tongue against his ripe bottom lip, panting, giddy with exhaustion and leftover adrenaline.
It swiftly becomes absolutely essential that he be inside of her. She breaks from him, gets up clumsily and stands between his legs, shrugging her coat down her arms and tossing it over to the chair. Mulder gets savvy, grinning, shifting his hips and unhooking his belt as she shimmies out of her trousers and unbuttons her shirt. He wrestles his cock out of his jeans, and she bends to swirl her tongue around the head of it before slinging her knees around his hips. “God, yes,” he growls, clutching at her hipbones, pulling her down.
The stretching fullness of him is crucial, life-affirming, and Scully remembers how a close encounter with death is often their most powerful aphrodisiac. She sinks all the way down onto him, squeezing her muscles, leaning her mouth to his and chasing his tongue. They ride out the urgency of it in a slow, symbiotic grind.
After a few long and delicious minutes, they begin to lose steam. Scully rests her head against Mulder’s chest, listening to the thud of his heart. He strokes the length of her thigh. “We can finish this later, hey?” he mumbles. “I think we’re both a bit tired.”
“You, uh, gonna be at your mom’s all day?”
“Yeah,” she says, nuzzling her nose into the neck of his t-shirt, suddenly unable to imagine the day without him. “…Come with me.” He smooths his hands over her back, silent, and her stomach pitches.
“I don’t wanna ruin your family Christmas, Scully. Bill hates me.” She considers this, pressing her lips sulkily against his Adam’s apple. “C’mon, Mulder. You shouldn’t be alone on Christmas. Mom won’t mind. And if you can break out of a gulag with a homemade shiv, you can handle Bill.” He runs his nails down her bare ass, scratching her lightly.
“Mmmm. You really liked that, didn’t you. Remember how… you pulled me into that airport bathroom…? Horny little thing.” He grabs her hips and tugs them forward, pressing himself up against the sweet spot inside of her as she nibbles at the rough of his stubble. “Alright, G-woman, stop biting me. I’ll come. Just let me grab a quick shower.”
She gets herself back into her clothes and finger-combs her hair, flipping through one of his old National Geographics. There’s a good article on the Capuchin catacombs in Palermo, and she’s studying the mandible of a mummified friar when the phone rings. The machine picks up, and then a soft, smoky, familiar voice fills the room.
“Hello, Fox. It’s me.” Heat creeps up her neck, and she snaps her head around and stares at the phone. “I guess you’re not up yet. You mentioned the last time we spoke that you didn’t have any plans for Christmas… I just… wanted to say that you’re welcome to come over if you’ve got nowhere to be today. Or I could come to your place. We could get Chinese, watch Plan 9. Like the old days. Just… let me know. You know where to reach me.”
There’s a dizzying blaze of hatred within her, and even though she knows she shouldn’t, even though it’s childish and jealous and petty, Scully leans over, presses number 7, and deletes the message.
Mulder emerges from the bedroom, his hair wet and spiky, tugging down a handsome knit green sweater over his t-shirt. Scully throws the magazine onto the coffee table, collects her spyglass, and walks over to him with purpose. She kisses him hard, the kiss of a woman who knows what’s hers. When she pulls back, his eyes are questioning, amused. “Is it the sweater?” he chuckles. “Hey, who was on the phone?”
“Wrong number,” she says mildly. “C’mon, Mulder. We’re going to be late.”