This is a story I posted a few months back and you may have already seen. This isn't the first Scully slash I wrote, but it's my first (and so far only) attempt at serious erotica, in any genre. I'm posting it here now because I'm in the planning stages of another Scully piece (it will be a long time--I'm very slow with this kind of stuff) and I was hoping to get some critical comments on this to help me with my current project.
I think that I really pushed my characterisation of Scully in this story, maybe too far. Do you think she's still within the bounds of her character? If not, how far is too far?
In this piece I also experimented with a first person, present tense narration. Do you find it effective? Distracting? If it doesn't work, it is the first person or the present tense or both that is the problem?
I would really love comments, including public discussion, on any aspect of the story. *I hereby swear that I will not get upset at any opinions.* If the story doesn't work for you, I'd love to know why.

SPOILERS: Fire
RATED: NC-17. F/F slash.
SUMMARY: Mulder and Phoebe Green have a night out at a bar. Scully finds them. (Not a three-way.)
DISCLAIMER: Chris Carter, 1013, and Fox own the X-Files, not me.
Many thanks to Hindy and Sergeeva for beta reading!
NOTES: This takes place during "Fire" but it's more of a "what if" piece; I don't think it strictly fits the time constraints. I usually say my muse is Eris, but this time it was Sappho. In the best classical tradition, I have freely used her imagery and tried to put my own twist on her situations. My own translations of poems 1 and 31, the ones I primarily used, are on my website: http://members.tripod.com/~prillalar/sappho.html This is not "required reading" though.
For Anactoria, who is not here...

SPONTANEOUS HUMAN COMBUSTION
by Halrloprillalar
<prillalar@geocities.com>

The game is afoot.

He wasn't glad to see me yesterday, but it wasn't hard to convince him to come here with me, to this bar where murmured conversation, wreaths of cigarette smoke, and tendrils of sexual tension flow into a haze that hangs in the air around us.

Across the table, he talks about himself, the high points of ten years in as many minutes, leaving out anything important, anything that might have changed him.

He pauses at the end of a story and I laugh, not hearing the words, but knowing the proper response from his inflection. His skin flushes very slightly and his pupils dilate a fraction.

This is the beginning of my hunt: examining the territory, following the spoor, readying my traps. I always take my prey alive.

Picking up my glass, I sip the cool white wine and meet his eyes over the rim. He runs a hand through his dark hair, preening, and tells me about another case.

I spread wide my nets, loop my snares, set my leg hold traps, cruel measures. I am not humane. And yet, this is only a ritual tonight. I caught this fox, this rabbit long ago, keeping him to play with until he learned to love the trap. He is still trapped, though he doesn't know it.

He's hardly touched his club soda and lime--still not much of a drinker--but I order my third glass of wine, wanting the warmth in my blood, spinning it out to last the evening. I thank the server with a smile and a lazy-lidded look that draws a frown from my companion.

Poor rabbit, he thinks it's different now, but Pavlov and I know better. Thank God this case is interesting--I have no violin or cocaine to fall back on when this game fails to stimulate. Lord Marsden seems interesting, but he'll succumb almost as readily.

His stories are done and now it's my turn to tell the tales, but instead I allow the music, slow and deep, to coil around us and pull us out to dance.

My hands on his denim waist, his on my silk shoulders, we sway, drawing a little nearer, turning bit by bit, winding up the tension between us. How long do I want to draw this out?

I slide my hands up the soft grey cotton of his shirt and lock my hands behind his neck, fingers teasing the fine hair there. Our bodies brush together gently now. His arms, his chest, his thighs--all are tensed and waiting for a signal, though he doesn't know it. But my own arms, my breasts and thighs, my cheek pressed against his shoulder, they will not answer yet.

I close my eyes to see him better: fresh laundry, warm man, unfamiliar aftershave...at least something has changed.

**

Someone is watching me. I open my eyes and on the other side of the room, I see her, his partner, the one who hates me. His back is to her and I study her over his shoulder.

She's staring right at us. How did she know we'd be here? That doesn't matter, really. But this is about to get very interesting. My gut twists with anticipation and adrenalin. I'll fight for this rabbit. I have an idea she'll be worth the effort.

I take one hand from his neck to straighten my hair. The promise of a confrontation exhilarates me and he'll be the better for it, I'm sure. Replacing my hand possessively, I favour her with a territorial smile.

Her eyes narrow. The corners of her mouth turn up slightly. She stands completely still, but I sense that she could spring at any moment. The features I thought delicate now seem sharp and feral. She stares at me, holding my gaze.

My heart pounds. I wait for her to make a move. In my peripheral vision, I see her shoulders, bare but for the thin blue strap of her dress, I hear the blood thrum in my ears, I see the sharp imprint of her nipples beneath the clinging fabric. I feel mine harden against the silk of my blouse.

Still she does not move, just looks at me. I cannot look away. She fascinates me, charms me with her stare. A subtle fire sweeps under my skin, igniting every nerve ending. This was not what I expected.

She widens her eyes slightly, intensifying her gaze. A sudden drop of cold sweat rolls down my back. Her smile becomes more pronounced, more predatory. She pushes out a pointed tongue and draws it slowly over her lips.

She turns, keeping her eyes on me until the last moment, and walks, not to me, to us, but to the swinging door in the corner of the room.

I cannot tell if I am still controlling my own actions. As much as I have to do this, I also want to. Slowly, carefully, I pull back from him, trailing my hands lightly down his chest, pushing myself away as if I were drawing closer.

"I'll just be a minute. I want to freshen up."

I concentrate on my walk, trying to look like I'm going away from him, not to her.

I smile. Whatever else, this won't be boring.

**

I push the swinging door and step through, uncertain what I'll find in this familiar territory.

Leaning against a row of sinks, she catches my eye. Under the harsh fluorescent lights, her skin is the waxy, flat white of the cadavers she dissects, her lipstick the warm bright red of living blood.

Fluidly, she stands and walks over to me, heels echoing on the white tiled floor. She smiles as though she were my friend, but her blue eyes glitter. Maybe it's just the light.

"I knew you'd come, Phoebe. Can I call you Phoebe?"

I smile back, trying to match her look. "Of course..." I remember her first name; I remember everything.

She puts her head on one side. "Dana."

"I'm bad with names, sorry."

"You won't forget again, I'm sure."

A shiver runs down my spine as I remember why we are here, or why I fear, hope we are here. I might not win this game, but I will not lose it either.

I hold my voice steady and my eyebrows arched.

"I usually only remember names if I associate them with something interesting or unusual." I narrow my eyes just a little.

"I wonder if I qualify as interesting or unusual." She steps close to me, the electrical fields of our bodies mingling.

"Are you going to offer me my choice of weapons?"

"If we're going to fight, let's not do it by the door."

She takes my arm in a firm grip above the elbow and guides me to the end of a row of toilet stalls. My heart throbs loudly, obscuring our steps on the floor, drowning out the reply I'm trying to make.

We're inside a narrow stall. She's locking the door, she's turning to me, she's pinning me to the wall with her left hand.

"I'll choose the weapons this time."

She's kissing me. Red wine, cigarettes, sharp tongue--she's kissing me and I'm kissing her, one hand reaching up to tangle in her hair. The metal wall presses a cold line across my back, her hand a burning circle on my shoulder. The silk will catch fire.

Her right hand cups my face, thumb strokes firmly down my jaw, finger trails to the hollow of my throat, hand slides along my collar bone where my shirt is unbuttoned.

My chest rises and falls. I struggle to take in enough air. I don't want to stop the kiss.

She's good. Deliberate and cool, she is taking me apart with a minimum of effort. She must autopsy in the same way, she must enjoy it.

But I will not be passively vivisected. One hand still in her hair, I rest the other below her waist, thumb tracing her hipbone though the thin dress.

Her mouth moves away from mine--no!--and kisses along my cheek, under my ear, down my throat. It's hard for me to think, but this game is instinctive to me.

My hand creeps up, curving out over the roundness of her stomach, bumping over her ribs, stopping over her breast, the nipple hard against my palm. For a moment, her mouth is still, her fingertips tighten on my skin, her breath hisses inward, though her left hand is still hard against my shoulder. Only for a moment, but it excites me more than the touches I receive.

She reaches up to stroke my hair and catches my earring with her fingernail. It hurts. I wince.

"I'm sorry," she murmurs and, raising her head, touches her tongue to the place.

Then she flicks her tongue at my open mouth, teasing mine out to taste and play, as her right hand pulls my shirt free of my waistband, slides underneath, traces cool circles, each one slightly higher, just brushing the underside of my breasts. She tantalises me and the torture is exquisite.

I am not so subtle. With both hands now I fondle her full breasts, awkwardly finding my way under the sides of her dress. Her skin is warm and I wonder if my hands are cold.

At last she rests her hand full on my breast, then runs her fingernail around the turgid nipple. She touches the other in the same way.

I lean closer and deepen our kiss. I want more contact. I am molten at the core, dissolving from the inside out. Spontaneous human combustion: I believe it now.

Her hand moves again, tugging at the button on my jeans. I hold my breath. She pulls away.

"Would you undo that for me, Phoebe?" Her left hand still holds me against the wall.

I look her straight in the eye, using all the self-control I have left to be as slow and sensual as I can. Letting my tongue show between my parted lips, I undo the button and slide down the fly. I'm not wearing underwear; I never do.

She looks back. "Thank you."

"Touch me." I mean to be challenging, God, I hope I don't sound as desperate as I really am.

She raises her eyebrows a fraction. "Of course."

In one smooth motion, she moves closer and slips her hand inside my open jeans, full against my vulva, fingers parting the swollen labia, heel pressing lightly on the mons.

I hear a stifled moan--it's me. I realise how wet I am, how aroused and how all my perceptions, all my sensations, and even my centre of gravity, I'd swear, have shifted to that point of arousal.

Her fingers slide through the moisture and the folds until they find my clitoris, tumescent and responsive. Her deft caresses wind my tension tighter and tighter.

"Aren't you going to touch me too?"

I can't believe I'm not already. My eager hands move under her dress, one cupping a firm buttock, the other pushing between her thighs. She's not wearing underwear either.

If her body seems cool to me, it's because the heat is here. The slickness of her arousal mats the hair and pools in my palm. I begin to touch her as she is touching me.

If we are still playing a game, I no longer know what the rules are. If I come first, will I win or lose? I am just short of that little death and I close my eyes to meet it.

Her left hand on my shoulder--I'd forgotten it was there--pushes harder against the wall and suddenly the tension is spinning away and I'm coming and her hand moves to press across my mouth and I'm calling her name into her palm.

"Don't stop." Her voice is ragged. Her hand is back on my shoulder.

I move my fingers again and again and again. I hear her breath suck inward and open my eyes. I feel her spasm with my fingers and see her, head thrown back, eyes closed, face pulled into a grimace of silent pleasure. She's beautiful.

She relaxes her taut muscles. I resume my caresses.

"Again." I want to die over and over to her.

"Not here." She pulls back.

"Your place then. Or my hotel room. It's not far." Now I don't care if I sound desperate.

She is *still* holding me against the wall. "What about him?"

"Fuck Mulder." I press my hand to her cheek.

"Fuck Mulder..." she muses. "Fuck Mulder..."

She reaches for me. She's giving in. No, she's feeling for my pocket, pulling out the tube of lipstick there.

"Get dressed, Phoebe."

I tuck in my shirt and do up my jeans. Are we leaving now?

One-handed, she pulls the top off the lipstick and hands it to me. Slowly, steadily, she colours my lips. No one has done this for me before. She gives me the tube and I put it away. Then she reaches down, under her own dress, between her own thighs and brings out a finger glistening with her own wetness. She paints it over my mouth. The smell is dark and heady.

I lean forward to kiss her. She won't let me.

"It's time to go. Go back to him. Go back and kiss him. For me."

I know I've lost this round. "But what about you?"

"You might see me later." Finally she lets go of my shoulder. Her hand brushes my hair and cheek. She smiles. "You were wonderful."

And so I go, unwilling and unsated, out of the stall, through the room, pulling open the door, not once looking back.

**

Slowly, I saunter back to our table, concentrating on not looking like I want to turn around and rush back, on not looking like I'm too aroused to walk easily.

I slide my tongue through my lips just enough to taste the slippery gloss. He sees me, thinks I mean it for him. I suppose I do, or at least she does.

I don't want to share her with him this way. I have no idea why she wants this. I admire her skill at this game but I wish I didn't have to play it any longer.

He rises, ready to resume the dance. I slide my arms around his neck and kiss him. For just a moment, his arms hang uncertain by his side. My heart hammers and must shake us both.

I have interrupted our ritual and while his subconscious doesn't know quite what to do, his body works it out. Wrapping his arms around me, he returns the kiss, deepening it, so we three mingle there.

I already burn with fever, now he catches it as well. My bones are liquid fire and I no longer care whom I'm with, I only want to quench this thirst and sate this hunger.

The bill is paid, our drinks unfinished, and we go, pausing to drink kisses, taste caresses, entangled as only those inflamed can be and still walk.

Outside it's raining and it does not cool us. In the parking lot, I see her. She's standing nearby, looking right at us. He sees her too and all at once we drop our arms and stand apart, silent, staring.

"What a coincidence," she says, locking her eyes on mine. The rain is dropping dark spots on her dress and gooseflesh on her arms and shoulders. "I was here to meet a friend."

Her gaze shifts to him. "Have fun now."

She gets into her car and drives away. Too late, he raises his hand and says her name. His face is wet.

A tear rolls down my own cheek to the corner of my mouth. It's cold and sweet. It's just the rain.

My chest aches and I realise I've not been breathing. My stomach twists with longing for her. I suck in the cool air. Still I burn. And so must he.

**

We're in the car now, not speaking, not touching, heading back to his place with an unfamiliar urgency. My window is open slightly, cold wind blowing over me, ruffling my hair, but my skin is still fever-hot. I try to smell the rain, but my scent and hers is all around, all over me. He must smell it too.

In the lift up to his flat, we don't kiss, don't even look at one another. The desire, the lust is palpable in that small space, but it stands between us, raking us with hot and icy fingers, pulling us out and into the hall, through his door, into the bedroom.

This isn't us: the lights are off, we shed our own clothes hastily, naked but not caressing. I'm glad. I can't bear him to smudge the prints she's left on me, to see the thumb marks along my jaw, fingers upon my breasts and belly, imprint of her palm on my shoulder.

This isn't us: we're on the bed, swiftly I impale myself and as we move together, I still feel her hands searing my skin. In my open eyes, I see her face, eyes closed, chin raised, mouth contorted in that beautiful grimace. My ears ring, I'm trembling all over.

This isn't us: we come together and I bite my lip to keep the name I'm calling inside my mouth, swallowing hard, forcing it down my throat. He doesn't notice. He's biting his lip too.

Now we lie apart, not speaking. What is there to say? She's still there between us. I can still feel her hands on my body, but now cold, still taking from me what I no longer have. I pull a blanket over me, but it doesn't stop the shaking.

The phone rings--a fire, the case, we are needed at the site. I will myself to focus. I won't let her see me like this. The next round will be mine. The rabbit will not harm the snake, but the snake may bite the charmer.

Come, Watson, come! The game is afoot. Not a word! Into your clothes and come!

F I N I S

(The last line is from "The Adventure of the Abbey Grange" by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.)