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The House of Beasts, Part 1

Here is my official first chapter for the House of Beasts!

Summary: Prythian University, the grounds where frat houses wage wars and throw the best parties yet. Feyre, an art student and girlfriend to the Head of House of the Spring House, discovers secrets everyone’s been keeping from her for the last year and a half. 

An ACOTAR/ACOMAF AU, which begins as Feylin then evolves into Feysand. Begins as ACOTAR, includes AU of Under the Mountain, but will focus more on Acomaf. 

Word Count: 2038 words

Once again, thank you all for withholding any hate and supplying only constructive criticism (I really need it!) and sending any requests, suggestions, etc.  

Disclaimer: All characters and some direct and or modified quotes belong to Sarah J Maas, as well as some of the plot points. I take no credit for them whatsoever

Part 1: Parties

I looked across the lush grounds of Prythian University, my cotton robe tucked tightly around the curves of my figure, and I sighed at the wonderfully gorgeous campus that swept across my view. Students walked along, talking together, backpacks strung over their shoulders and heavy books bound to their arms. Autumn kissed the trees that dotted the grounds, leaves collecting within the tracks of students’ footprints. The fall air caressed my skin blissfully and I closed my eyes.

It had been 6 months since I’d moved into Spring House. The six happiest months of my existence, probably.

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anonymous asked:

so like. why is it that you're so uncomfortable with drag and yet so committed to trap art? because i'm sort of in the same boat myself, and it's hard to think of what one could have over the other aside from petty familiarity.

Because to my knowledge the majority of drag queens are cis gay men presenting femme in a controlled environment for shock value, humor and recreation who get to take off the wig at the end of the night and return to the comfort of being masc in the morning.

And where I come from, girls who call themselves traps are real-life trans women who grind for their shit. Girls who hustle chaser nerds on chan boards to pay rent. Girls working their societal disadvantages into fiscal benefit, sometimes because they have nothing else. That’s real shit, commendable shit.

Drag queens can make money hand-over-fist for being belligerent on television while Ru Paul openly calls himself “tranny”. A trap flashes and humors greaseballs to pay her way through a transition. I will always have more respect for a chan-trap than a drag queen for these reasons.

Those words may mean different things to different people, and i understand that the criteria of these definitions are not set in stone nor are they mutually exclusive in everyone’s mind, but that’s what those words have always meant to me.

Hell, if they ever made a movie about chan-traps, they’d probably cast cis men in drag to play them. Go figure.

Story time. Involves a sugar baby, a love story in Paris, making an idiot of myself, and one year that aged me fifty

I was studying in France earlier this year and while living across the world, my life in the States was falling apart. I was spending too much money, eating raw pasta and cans of spam in bed while watching Netflix and crying because I was lonely, and French people were very harsh with me. I had taken courses in French at this university, studied endlessly beforehand- translating movie scripts at my work study job, endless French films, podcasts, and when I arrived the cold French exteriors strangers had was like nothing I’d ever experienced. I felt lonely, socially incapable, and could only communicate at the level of a child. People would say disparaging things about my body, or hold me responsible for Donald Trump, or tell me not to speak French at all. Strangers and acquaintances alike showed no empathy as a lugged enormous suitcases up stairs, or asked questions about where classes were, or for directions to complete student insurance. My only friends were English speakers who got on with these things much better than me (one was from French Canada, an Australian had already settled in the previous semester), but I would get drunk in my tiny room alone quite a bit. I’m used to being seen as intelligent and sociable, and this semester shook me to my core. At home, my mother would eventually be arrested and I grew more depressed as I stayed in touch with them. One guy I slept with posted my nudes on the internet. Another invited me to a gala, where I looked beautiful, and didn’t speak to me at all. Another ruined great sex by immediately telling everyone and confirmed my identity as the American slut. I got blackout drunk on a university trip and hooked up with a Brazilian girl in a French boarding school that had been rented, excused myself, spent the rest of the night vomiting in nothing but a pair of overalls, repeatedly hitting the button that activated the shower for thirty seconds. I had no memory of any of this.

But I learned to do things alone. I grew. I forced myself into conversations and realized I didn’t care about looking like an idiot. It still stung.

The academic year finished. I had failed half of my classes because I couldn’t bring myself to go. It was over, and now I would just travel. I went to Italy, Spain, the south of France, Austria, all over. I met with my sister. She can be pretty cruel, always removed because when my mom was arrested, it was for assault after accusing my sister of fucking my father. She’s colder than me though, saying things like how I would look heavier if I didn’t have my chest. “You want to prove you’ve grown and can handle yourself in Europe, that you’re different,” she said after I misread a German train stop, and we were stuck overnight in a station. “You’re exactly the same”.

But before my trip, something incredible happened. I posted on a web site, hoping some kind stranger in Paris would hold a bag of clothes during my travels before I returned home. I put attractive photos up, sifted through dozens of responses, chose one that looked stable. Normal. Booked a bus to Paris. On the way there, someone else messaged me. He looked really kind. He had travelled all across South Asia and sailed across the Atlantic. I told the other guy something had come up, and followed through with- let’s call him Q. We met up at a metro station. I bought him a gift- two books, the Garden of Eden by Hemingway in French, or a blank notebook. “Only an American would buy Hemingway in French,” he laughed, and took the notebook.

He explained that he constantly hosted people for free, and gave bike tours of the city without charge just to meet people. He was the least French person I’ve ever met. I thought that was fantastic.

I originally asked for him to harbor an enormous backpack, but instead of troubling him, I left a small duffel bag. I didn’t want to inconvenience him, since he had also offered to let me stay the night. I would carry an extra thirty pounds around for a month because of this- rainboots and sweaters while I sweated in June in Venice.

We had met at a subway station, he took my gift, we biked around the city and bought ingredients for a salmon tart. I was utterly charmed. I used a city bike, and in between drop off stations, he would let me sit on his handlebars and pedal like a maniac. I gripped his arms tightly as he swerved to avoid cars and pedestrians alike, and we zipped down the Champs-Élysées and spoke in French and English. He gently corrected my mistakes, and mercifully let me feel intelligent for a few moments. We cooked dinner together, laughed about French science shows for children, talked about the best techniques for driving in the snow (he grew up in the mountains), and killed a bottle of wine.

The night reached its end and I readied myself to stay on his futon. Q looked from beyond his door and asked if I was coming into his room. He saw my confusion and explained that he had a better mattress to set up on his floor- or, if I preferred, I was welcome to exactly half of his bed. I’m not sure whether it was the way he always looked as though he was smirking, or whether his arms felt nice as he cycled through the city, but I opted for his bed. It seemed like hours chatting, barely touching, then overtly shifting bodies, then fingers brushed my hair out of my face and we were doing exactly what you might guess. He was so careful and gentle. He traced his fingers around my ears and gave half second massages to my feet. He didn’t last very long, but somehow it was a relief. He didn’t do this for hookups. He was just that kind of person. He told me the next day it had been a long time since he had done that sort of thing, dressed up professionally for his work as an engineer while I tried to desmudge my makeup and make my way back to a bus stop.

He said goodbye at the metro station, we did la bise kissing each other on the cheeks, and he was gone. We would see each other in a month when I had to pick up my bag and return home.

I spent the whole time thinking of him. We talked just before time was up- he messaged me on my birthday. I was so excited. I was in Venice and a bunch of Moldovans had bought me champagne while my sister and I sat on the beach. A friendly guy brought me his jacket as I came out of the water, draped it over my shoulders, and flirted a little, but all that was on my mind was him.

It’s your birthday? He said. That changes everything for the menu. When I came back he baked me a birthday cake with courgettes- zucchinis. It was strangely delicious. The first day we walked around in circles, talking about nothing in particular around the city. Old movies and why I hate sudoku puzzles, reasons why he doesn’t care about football. We spent quality time together in his room. Tu m'excites, he said while fucking me. You turn me on. Bouge pas. Lache-toi la. The next day we travelled to the illicit section of the Parisian catacombs. If you see the police, he warned, run, they do give out fines. People aren’t supposed to be here. I sat on his handlebars and we biked to an abandoned train station after slipping through a construction zone, slipped into a hole that looked like an animal might live in it, and sloshed around in water up to our thighs. It looked like tunnels from Lord of the Rings. He had a headlight and a hand-drawn map. We looked at the graffiti and ate dumplings, and we turned off all the lights so everything was silent and completely dark. While biking back, he laughed. You weren’t scared at all, he said, impressed. A lot of people would yell at me, or lose their minds. You were okay just sitting there and enjoying the quiet. I had been totally out of my element, but I smiled. We zipped by a group of fancy looking Parisians outside of a gallery and made loud beeping noises to rile them. That was perfect, he said of my particular noisy exclamation.

That night we went home and fucked in the kitchen. It was great. On top of laundry. Near his saxophone. Standing up. By his friend’s futon. Afterward, Q stood up and looked outside the window, flashing some neighbors who rolled their shades down, ruffled. We laughed. I went home to my own (superfluous) Airbnb that night but almost got locked in the metro while switching stations, and in doing so lost my keys. My phone was dead, but by some miracle a neighbor let me in the apartment at 1:00 and the door of the place upstairs was unlocked. I crashed to bed. The next morning I was determined to find my keys. I didn’t and was locked in. I had literally tied my clothes together to hop down into a courtyard when my host arrived. I would have to pay 200 euros for a new key (Parisian apartments must have the highest security) but I didn’t care. I saw Q again that night. We fucked twice and despite his work in the morning, we stayed up nearly all night. We talked about staying in contact, and I told him he was the type of person I would want to be with. That’s crazy, he said. You’ve known me for two days. But I feel the same way.

I left Paris. I went back to my home. I got two sugar daddies and a sugar mommy, worked two jobs and took nineteen credits. I used a fake name and number and hid gifts from my family like iPhone 7s. I had threeways and went on shopping sprees. I saved up money, stayed in touch with Q and made up a story about a conference in Paris in January. I planned a trip back. He told me he missed my curls, and me as well. I bought a quarter pound of weed at a time and sold it. I found another boy to bide my time with. He was boring but pretty, and I craved sex as an escape. I hooked up with my ex. We’re good friends, he’s trapped by a family situation, and has only ever fucked me, but he talks down to me in Russian and I like it when he slaps me in the face during sex.

The semester dragged on as my family issues worsened and I studied our elections, ISIS and Syria endlessly. I was so depressed. I gave into old addictions on and off but kept it together. My mother didn’t, but it’s okay.

I’m in Europe now. Meeting up with Q again was one of the greatest disappointments of my life.

I thought I deserved a last hoorah, that whatever powers that be would pity me and start off the fabled 2017 with a cathartic sexual release. He was moving to the Ivory Coast to digitize government files the day before I left Paris. I booked a private Airbnb for three days, since he didn’t have an apartment at the beginning of the month I told him he could stay there, he seemed to accept, asking if it was private, telling me he would reserve the weekend for me. He didn’t. We saw each other only one afternoon. The problem was, I thought I could manipulate him into liking me just the same as one of the people who paid me for my time. It didn’t work. I think I’ve grown too steely and bitter. He like the girl that got so lost trying to find his apartment, she took the metro outside of Paris. He didn’t like the sophisticated me with better clothes and expensive makeup and a slick place to crash. We got lunch together, ate galette de rois together which I couldn’t finish, so I fed it to a crow. He got the lucky feve that you find in only a few slices, a little tchotchke baked into the cake. A French policewoman yelled at me. We walked quietly through museums. We drove through the city in his company car- like a maniac, yet again. Sometimes he would wander off into a completely different room within exhibits. It was pleasant enough, but it was clear he was distracted. He said goodbye to me at a metro stop. I didn’t understand it was the last time I’d see him. I sent a Facebook message telling him I understood his position but that he was welcome to stop by my apartment. He saw the message and didn’t reply the whole night. I cried, put on a face mask and sexted my ex alone. I told my friends we had wild sex and that I’d never have a romance like this one again. I don’t know where I’m going from here. Don’t trust people, I suppose, prioritize yourself, and know when not to push a good thing too far.

I feel so bitter. I’m lucky, young, intelligent, and sitting in beautiful Lisbon as I type this up, but I don’t feel as though I’ll find something like this again. I have men who will Paypal me if I need anything and offer to fly me all over the world. They have pictures with famous hockey players and the Tampa Buccaneers cheerleaders. I don’t care. I’ll go back to my ex, maybe, to avoid the sting of being really alone. He understands me pretty well, even though it’s more of a friendship. This is going to fuck me up so badly, he says, as I ask more and more intense sexual frontiers to be pushed. I’ve thought of that. I care a little, but I need it right now.

Everything here is true. I wish it wasn’t. Wish me luck.

Okay, I want a way to rent board games. Let me browse a huge selection of unique and interesting games and rent the games for a few weeks to then return. There could be a monthly base fee and some games with a lot of pieces or that have parts that are more easily damaged could have an additional fee to rent. I just don’t have a lot of people to play board games with to actually buy interesting board games, but it would be fun to rent interesting board games and like take them to the library when we have our monthly board game day and give it a try.

You’ve spent months reaching your goals, or you’re just starting your journey and now BAM. Summer is here, family trips are planned, beach weekends with your besties are booked, road trips are scheduled. You name it, vacation time is here ☀️

So what does that mean for your new found love or loath with healthy eating habits and fitness??

Well…two approaches: you can say F*** it, I’m on vacation. YOLO for the few weeks you spend in paradise and get back to work when reality sets back in and your find yourself back at home. Or you can find a balance between YOLO and spending all day in gym. After all, it’s vacation! But that shouldn’t mean gaining 10
Pounds in 10 days…

I’m currently enjoying Hawaii. Waking up every morning with a panoramic view of Waikiki beach, absolutely amazing. However, I have a very specific event only a short 7.5 weeks away…that I have not officially announced 🙊👙 that requires me to be on my A-game the entirety of my vacation. So I’ve gathered some tips to share for those on their A-game while on vacation and those who want the balance between YOLO and 5 hours in the gym.

Housing Accommodations:

- IF you have an input in your choice of hotel,
Find one with a fitness facility. Even a small one with an elliptical and treadmill is sufficient enough for some quick cardio in the AM or evening.

-Check with the front desk, or online prior to arriving, about offered fitness classes. Most resorts offer a variety of classes to attend and it can be a fun way to try a workout in a new place 😊. I’ve personally be substituting my morning treadmill with an outdoor Body Sculpting class. Nothing like breaking a sweat in a Hawaii garden 🌺🌤🌴

-Turn your surroundings into a fun activity. Powerwalks on the beach in the morning or city Boardwalk, jog nearby trails,evening sprints in a park with your friends.

- Upload/stream your favorite workout videos with your phone/iPod and find a space to complete the workout. I have the Beachbody program, Insanity, audio recording on my iPhone. So when I get tired of the gym treadmills, beach walking, fitness classes etc, I can find a spot to do the workout with my headphones and phone. Drag your friends along with you or go solo.

- Rent a bicycle and go exploring, give paddle boarding a try, go kayaking, rent aqua cycles and have a race with your spouse/family/siblings/ friends. Go swimming in the ocean,lake, pool and have lap races with your friends or have a distance race with yourself. Find the locals favorite hiking spot.

- How much time should you workout? Well that will depend on you. Like I said earlier, I’m on a strict plan right now. So I do cardio in the morning and weighs in the evening plus cardio again. I typically sleep in, but while on vacation, it’s fun to get up early and walk/jog the beach or break a sweat in the Hawaiian gardens for Body Sculpt class. In the evening, after dinner,
My husband and I go lift weights+cardio for an hour. Our late evenings are free so we can walk the beach, find a fun live music spot, explore the night. For you, one workout might be enough! And that is great. Or every other day. Whatever feels right for you. Just know that fitness is part of your healthy life so you want it to be part of you vacation too ☀️😃 but it can come in different forms than a gym. Get creative and be active.

Food:

- You’re not going to want to eat out for every meal. That gets expensive 😕. Find a grocery store and stock up on some healthy filler foods and smaller meals. I have to prep ALL my food (minus veggies I can order at a restaurant) so I’m preparing all my meals in my hotel with a microwave/fridge and it’s working great. But for those who don’t need to weigh their food, you won’t need to prepare it yourself. Find a grocery store for: apples, bananas, carrot sticks, hummus singles, crackers, peanut butter, rice cakes, oatmeal cups, yogurt cups, mixed nuts, granola bars, protein bars etc. Healthy foods for snacks between meals and even breakfast foods. You don’t need to order every meal you eat. Side note, I even packed my mini blender in my checked luggage so I can make smoothies in the morning 🙊.


-When you go to a restaurant check out the salad bar, veggies options, fruit platters, granola bowls, grains, etc.

- If the majority of stops are with fast food places, order from the light menus. This is also where you’re grocery bought items will come in handy. Or look for subway or Panera bread (or other similar places) where the menus offer some fresh options.

- Treats are fun! I’ve enjoyed some taste of Hawaii with some Kona Coffee Dark Chocolate macadamia nuts and they were amazing! But every single meal does not need to be deep fried lol grab some fruit with your bakery fresh cinnamon roll 😋 find your vacation balance without undoing all those habits you worked so hard to build.

Weekend Trip - Part 2

Santana took a deep breath as she fought with the buckles of the board they’d rented for her. “I can’t get this, Dani.” She huffed and looked to her girlfriend before she sat down in the snow. She was nervous about trying this, but excited at the same time because she knew how much Dani loved it. Santana wanted to try it for Dani. She leaned back on her hands and watched as the woman easily hooked her own board. It made sense though considering the blonde had been doing this for years while this is the first time Santana’s even touched a snowboard.

Regardless:

The series is as follows :

Mama Scully’s Party …. MorningUnderwearsMapsNachosFoul BallPromisesStayPhone CallsFlannel InterruptionAwakeningFriendly CompromisesScrabbleApart …  A Long WeekLightningMissing YouInterimStuffWaitingGoingHandsUnsteadyFearFastSlowRegardlessInto the DarkLightSurfboardsCurbsShowersBordersCanyonsSoakedIce CreamNever HappenedDeep SouthAlmostBlue-Suede ShoesUnwelcomeRemarkableStarsDoorbellsM&MsKneesHome

___________

Once out of the hospital, Mulder took her hand yet again, as he had in the waiting room, the exam room, the procedure room and the changing room outside the lead lined room for the MRI. He watched her talk smoothly to her friend, Jake, describing the sparse symptoms and her fear of relapse. He held her steady gaze as they drew enough blood to make even a vampire turn away. He paced a non-descript, quiet hallway while she had her scan and stared out the sixth story window when the pacing began drawing looks from several passing nurses.

Jake didn’t offer any diagnoses, just listened, then directed her to where she needed to go, telling her good luck as he made his way to surgery a short time after their arrival. The tech didn’t let Scully see the scan, telling her in no uncertain terms that she would have to wait. The nurses chatted with both of them but focused on superficial subjects, asking about their trip and their work.

Mulder wanted to scream loudly to just tell them how she was and how to fix her if she wasn’t. He seemed more out of sorts than Scully did, her calm demeanor making him even more anxious, the fear threatening him several times, especially as they kept filling up vial after vial. She found him standing at the window at the end of the hallway when she was all done, dressed and more than ready to go home.

She made enough noise walking that she knew he heard her and when she was only a few feet back, he lifted his arm up in invitation, allowing her to scoot underneath and press herself against his side. Arm falling around her neck, he rotated, his other arm completing the circle, her head disappearing in the crooks of his elbows as he kissed her several times on the top of the head before hugging her close. They stood for a few moments or hours, Mulder losing track of time the instant he touched her, before Scully, her voice tired, quietly told him, “I’m ready to go home, Mulder.”

Very serious in his response, “the hotel or would you like to head back to DC? We can fly home tonight if you want, ship the car back or come get it later, it doesn’t matter to me.”

Chuckling into his chest, “I meant the hotel but I appreciate the offer to go back to DC.”

“Anything for you, Scully.”

She could hear the total, naked honesty in his statement and it nearly broke her but she took several deep breathes and kept it together, “although I think we should stop for a snack on the way. I’m starving.”

With an extra tight squeeze, he let her go, taking her hand yet again, firm and sure, with their fingers falling into a now familiar mingling pattern, “fast food or grocery store?”

“I have never felt the need for a gigantic cheeseburger more than I do right now. Maybe cheaper sit-down?”

“Lead the way.”

Food consumed, they made it back to the hotel room, Scully looking from the inviting bed for a nap to the sunshine-filled beach out the balcony door, “Mulder? If you had to choose, would you take a nap or go in the ocean?”

Knowing exactly what she wanted him to say, he smiled, “ocean.”

Her smile widened considerably, “get changed, Mister, I’m going to teach you how to surf.”

Slathering on sunscreen, tugging old undershirts of Mulder’s over their heads to prevent board rash, renting surfboards and finally paddling out into the fairly calm water, she spent the next two hours teaching him how to paddle and how to stand. She desperately wished for a video camera to take pictures of his tumbles into the waves which were always accompanied by surprised faces and comical gestures and wildly flailing limbs ending in spluttering splashes and Mulder’s head popping back to the surface, grinning and pulling himself back on the board to start all over again.

It took her a few turns as well to get back in the groove of it but soon, she felt at home on the tilting board, feet cool in the water, sun beating down on her body. Eventually, Mulder could make it up and remain standing, even walk the board without toppling, Taking a glance at her watch, she paddled over to him, “hey, how are you doing? Want to keep going or call it a day?”

His muscles were on fire at this point so stopping sounded like a good option, “we’ll come out tomorrow again, right?”

“Of course.”

Returning the boards, they shuffled back to their towels, drying off before heading to the room. Mulder called the first shower and by the time Scully emerged from hers, she found him, hair still wet, dressed only in a pair of cargo shorts, sound asleep in the shade on the balcony. Drying her hair as much as she could, she hung her damp towel by his on the other chaise, then, much like he had the night before, climbed in beside him, enjoying the role reversal and boldly settling her head on his bare chest, his heart thudding steadily beneath her cheek.

Forgetting about their morning, she drifted off, safe and content, her Mulder warm beside her.

&&&&&&&&&&&&&

“You awake?”

“Yeah.”

Mulder, now on his side, tried to look over his shoulder at her behind him but his neck didn’t twist quite that far, “you invaded my chaise lounge.”

“I did.”

“Are you going to apologize for it?”

“No, no I am not.”

“Just checking.”

She laughed into his back, “I didn’t mean to sleep that long. It was going to be a five minute nap, at most.”

“How long’s it been?”

Scully lifted her hand from his chest and moved it in front of his face so he could read her watch, “I think I laid down about four.”

“Well, it’s now a little after six and I’m starving.”

“I know. You stomach growling woke me up.”

It felt odd talking to her when he couldn’t see her so he wiggled onto his back, taking in her sunburned nose, freckles more prominent than ever, “we need to get you some higher number sunscreen. Your nose is all red.”

Using her finger, she poked his face, “so is yours.”

Moving her body in preparation to get up, Mulder stopped her, “where’re you going?”

“Get the aloe you packed. If we keep ahead of the burn, it’ll feel a lot better.” Once she retrieved the bottle, she sat beside him, smearing small amounts over his face, rubbing lightly, paying special attention under his eyes, “if we do this right, we won’t peel and we’ll have enough of a tan so we won’t fry in Baja.”

He shifted his hand until it rested on her thigh, “regardless of what the hospital says tomorrow, you still want to go?”

She ran her index and middle finger slowly over his forehead, sliding down across his cheekbone before answering, “regardless of what the hospital says, I still want to go. I feel fine and vacations are much better when you feel fine.”

Mulder squeezed her leg, his fingers settling between her closed knees, “then you’d better get me back up on a surfboard tomorrow if I’m going to be ready for waves in Mexico.”

“We’ll do the best we can.”

With a smile, he first took the bottle from her hand, then sat up, “your turn.”

After she smoothed her hair into somewhat of a ponytail, he spread the aloe first on her face, then moved to her arms, running along the firm muscles and smooth skin until, “you are good to go.”

She’d been listening to his stomach rumble the last five minutes, “starving, aren’t you?”

“Feels like I haven’t eaten in weeks. Come on,” maneuvering around her to stand, “I’ll buy you some surf n’ turf.”

&&&&&&&&&&&&

She casually consumed a 14-ounce steak, 15 shrimp and crab cake appetizers, much to Mulder’s surprised delight, “room for dessert?” He could see her internal debate and grinned at her while she hemmed and hawed. Finally, he broke the stalemate her brain was in with her stomach, “how about we get something to go and eat it later back at the room?”

“Okay.” She then proceeded to rattle of cheesecake, cobbler, and a piece of peach pie to go to the amused waiter who had been standing next to Mulder through that entire process. Once he’d went to wrap up the food, Scully looked at her partner, “the pie is for you.”

Chuckling, “wait. Is the rest all for you? Do I even get a little bit?”

Pulling out that playfully secret smile that lit up her face like no other, “maybe a bite … if you’re nice to me.”

And then she winked at him.

And his mouth dropped open for the smallest second.

And his heart jumped in his chest.

And he felt her shoe rub against his under the table.

And then she burst out laughing, “breathe, Mulder. A bite of cheesecake, not of me.”

And the world lined back up and planets revolved again and he realized he needed oxygen, “for one second there, Scully …”

Both let that sentence run off into oblivion as the waiter re-appeared, check and takeout boxes in hand. Scully grabbed for the paper, smoothly handing her credit card to the man before Mulder could do that thing he always did about insisting on paying for meals and arguing that she would get the next one then not letting her get the next one either.

Sticking her tongue out as he opened his mouth to protest, “you paid for the room, I’ll pay for your side of beef.”

Mulder found her foot under the table with his, this time his shoe nudging her sandal, “fair enough.”

&&&&&&&

Once back for the night, Scully kicked her shoes to the corner, shed the light shirt she was wearing, leaving her in her camisole and skirt. Heading straight for the balcony, she beckoned Mulder after her with a simple wave of her hand, a forward motioning that seemed to pull him to her, not remembering having ever moved his feet but suddenly beside her, closing the door behind him. It was dark out, the city lights behind the hotel, giving them the darkness Scully wanted. She pulled Mulder to the chair, “sit please.”

He sat.

Wondering.

Then she sat in front of him, scooting herself between his knees, leaning back on his chest, invading his space, sailing through uncharted yet not unwelcome territory. His arms went around her automatically, forearms pushing against her breasts, hands clasped loosely on her stomach.

Whispering up at him, it was the last thing he expected to hear, given her flirty ways at the restaurant, “if we hear bad news tomorrow, I don’t want to go back home. I want to go to Baja and then go see everything before even thinking about heading back to DC.”

The warm feeling of her against him diminished as real-life nonsense invaded, “I thought we already decided that?”

“We decided to go to Baja but I mean, after that, I don’t want to go home. I want to just keep driving, as long as we can, see all that we can and only go home when I don’t have a choice anymore.”

He wasn’t really sure he was digesting this conversation properly, “you mean, quit and just go?”

“Not quit, because I’ll need the insurance but take an extended leave or something. I’ve got money saved and if we go cheap, we can do a lot.”

“And you’re inviting me along on this adventure?”

Shifting her hands so they covered his, she squeezed them, “I wouldn’t want to do it without you.”

“I wouldn’t want you to.” Kissing the top of her head, he spoke into her hair, “I love you, Scully.”

The catch in her inhale told him everything he needed to know but hearing her next words made him close his eyes, savor the words, “I love you, too, Mulder.”