AUTHOR: GreenEgret
ARCHIVE: If you ask me, sure. ScullySlash and ladyslash, fine.
E-MAIL: greenegret@yahoo.com
RATING: R/MA
TITLE: Search
CATEGORY: Scully/Other
DISCLAIMERS: Scully, Mulder, and their assorted family and cohorts do not belong to me. They belong to Fox, Chris Carter, and whatever his production company is. I am not making any money off of this. Liliana Ramos and her cohorts DO belong to me, and are not available for anyone else's use.
WARNING: This is a slash story, containing f/f sexuality. If this bothers you, go elsewhere and do not complain to me. I will not be sympathetic.
SPOILERS: Season Six, primarily Tithonus and Field Trip


SEARCH: PART ONE OF SEVERAL

Splurt! Scully's calm face spasmed with disgust for a second before resuming its more customary position as she pulled her foot up from the mud, almost losing her boot, and continued on through the rain away from the tented incident center. What a lovely birthday this is going to be, she thought moodily, refusing to feel ashamed of such a frivolous thought -after all, it was only fairly recently that she had begun to take it for granted that she would have one again at all. She sighed and splooshed and splurted after the rain jacketed Search and Rescue woman - pushed off to the side again as the ever-unwelcome FBI liaison. Damn Kersh, anyway. This barely qualified for a junior agent yet - a father had taken off with his four year-old daughter to hide out in the State Park out of an irrational fear born of schizophrenia. Everyone in the small Maryland town knew that he and the child would be found safe but soaked in the forest; it had happened before. The only urgency involved was a fear that the child's cold would worsen in the cold and damp, or that the father would grow so irrational he would leave her, or lose them both without food. Anyway, however sure they were of the cause of the disappearance and its results, the search was necessary, and it was a kidnapping, so the FBI was necessary. Hence the disgraced sometime member of the X-Files got to spend her birthday stomping around in the wet and muck of a Maryland forest with a bunch of dogs.

Scully waited grimly with the other police to be boosted into the big jeep with the S & R team she was to join, masochistically resisting wiping away the rain dripping down her nose. The other three were also silent, except for a little minor grousing about "that damn crazy Eisner" -- they were well familiar with this particular suspect.

"Okay, up you come," spoke an incongruously cheerful voice, startling Scully out of her resentful funk. She started forward hastily, slipping in the mud just as she reached the van, feeling herself fall and catch just as quickly. She registered the tired chuckles from the others and the surprising warmth of her rescuer's hands just as quickly as she was steadied to climb into the van, blushing slightly.

"Thanks."

"You're welcome, it's a morass out there," said her rescuer, a woman about Scully's own age or a little older, with braided black hair and bright brown eyes. A shadow at her side woofled softly, adding in her own commentary.

Scully, wondering a little at a person who actually used the word morass in a sentence, seated herself next to the dog as the door slammed shut, the others apparently going in the other vans. She looked with interest at the dog next to her, just visible in the dim light from the window and one of the other Searcher's lamps. Big, with longish rich dark fur shading from a warm earthy brown to almost black and a German Shepherd like body, eagerly friendly and intelligent in her gaze. "Beautiful dog," she yelled over the road noise and the pounding rain.

"Thanks, she's a Belgian Terveren, " her erudite seatmate replied, with obvious pleasure, "her name's Chaser." This comment had apparently been the right one to make, the dog now shoving her nose curiously into Scully's hands, the other two humans in the van adding their smiles to Chaser's partner's. A slight tension Scully had been unaware of vanished.

"I'm Liliana Ramos, that's Serenity Alic and Arthur, and Elspeth Tregallis and Medea. Arthur's another Terveren dog, and Medea's a most unusual Kuvasz." Liliana smiled, holding out her hand, much as her dog had thrust out her nose. Scully took it, naming herself in turn.

"Glad you like dogs. The last FBI agent didn't," said Elspeth, thinly muscular with humidly curling brown hair, with a contemptuous look. "Stepped on Art's tale. Among other things." Scully was later to find out that one of those 'other things' had been to shoot at one of the other S&R dogs. The agent had been sent on a short medical leave shortly thereafter.

"Call me Wren," said Serenity, rounder, blonder, and shorter than her seatmate, as she looked with amusement at Elspeth. "Else thinks anyone who doesn't like dogs is an automatic defective human being. In this case she was right, but still!"

"Well, it's a telling sign," said Elspeth defensively, adding "and you know that one was a cretin. 'S good thing he didn't step on Medea's tail, she'd of made sure he didn't forget it."

Scully smiled, feeling the easy commentary about the dogs ease her into a more pleasant frame of mind - not more professional, she was always professional, but more comfortable. Cases involving children always bothered her, even ones as apparently hopeful as this. She could feel herself being accepted by these three and their dogs in a way she seldom was by law enforcement suspicious of her as being over-educated, FBI, and female to boot. Chaser licked her, allowing herself to be nudged aside by Arthur and Medea as they inspected her hands and boots as well. Elspeth had fallen silent, hand on Medea's white back, but Liliana and Wren continued to discuss various exploits of all three dogs. Finally, Liliana asked her, "What about you, Agent Scully, do you have a dog? You obviously like them..." indicating Chaser's head resting on Scully's knee with a smile, the other dogs back at their partner's sides.

"Please call me Scully. I did have a Pomeranian that I... inherited, but I lost him a couple of years ago and haven't had the time to give a dog since," she said, remembering with regret the strange and sad circumstances of both Queequeg's arrival and departure from her life. He'd been her only pet, her parents' military lifestyle and neatness being singularly incompatible with animals other than fish. As an adult she had never thought about a pet until she'd been given custody of Queek.

"Oh, I'm sorry," said Liliana with obvious sympathy, echoed by Wren and Elspeth.

She changed the subject, asking the others to go over the search plan. Elspeth quickly took over, going over each quadrant, the search pattern, the geography of the area, details about the subject, how to act if he was found, etc. Scully suspected that both she and Liliana were adding in details they would have left out for her benefit, finding this both clever and tactful. The others left her room to maintain her dignity as the representative of the great and terrible FBI, but also made sure she knew exactly how their Search and Rescue Dog group worked. Scully knew the basics, had often seen the teams on crime scenes, but was only roughly familiar with the actual mechanism. Elspeth and Liliana's little performance was reassuring, considering that she was supposed to know enough to appear confident with the Park Service and police.

The van jerked to a halt, on a rise at the end of a very bumpy track, Liliana jumping up to grab the door open. With a soft humph of disgust she bounced out into the rain, Chaser on her heels, orange harness bright through the deluge. Scully and the other Searchers and dogs followed, pleased to find themselves on grass rather than mud. Once all fourteen of the ground searchers had settled patiently in the clearing, Elspeth and the Park Service Law Enforcement leader took deft control of the group, quickly pairing off Park Ranger or Dog S&R with police and volunteer, as well as one token FBI agent.

Scully trotted off into the woods with Liliana and Chaser towards their assigned quadrant, again glad that she was wearing her new Timberlands, some sturdy blue jeans and a gray sweatshirt under her short dark raincoat. Her usual attire, though more dignified, would not have been appropriate, although she'd worn it in worse places when necessary. She let her mind skitter away from those worse places towards the present situation and her two companions. Liliana wore the same heavy orange rain gear that all of the volunteer Search & Rescue team wore that day, as well as a waist pack holding a flashlight, water bottle, and spare leash; otherwise, the two women were dressed almost identically down to the Timberlands. Chaser's orange coat matched her friend's as she scouted purposely down the trail sniffing energetically, though she knew she didn't have to start yet. <For once that old saw about the dog matching the owner is true; Liliana and Chaser are both beautiful and athletic, with dark hair and eyes.> Scully refused to entertain the possibility that she (small, red-haired, fine-boned) had resembled her own (small, red-furred, fine-boned) Pomeranian.

"So, do you really think this guy isn't dangerous, Scully?" queried Liliana as they clambered over a downed tree, Scully noticing as they did so that the break was recent. <A lot of wind in these woods recently, and more of the damned rain. Wherever the two were, they were wet.>

"I don't know. He seems less likely to be than with most kidnappings, but what with the weather and his lack of medication, it's anyone's guess." She frowned, thinking of the damage done already to the child's lungs. <Even if he meant no harm to his daughter, as seemed likely, an asthmatic child with the beginnings of a bad chest cold did not belong out in the cold and wet.>

"Have you dealt with many kidnappings? I mean, you don't specialize in this, do you?"

Inwardly, Scully groaned, <here it comes, the X-Files, getting kicked off, etc. Although I suppose I don't have to try and explain it anymore.> Outwardly, she said "I've dealt with a few, from several angles. However, I specialize in forensic pathology and am a medical doctor. I'm currently assigned to general detail, which is how I pulled this case."

"A doctor! Well, you're just a useful person in general, eh?"

"Hmm," replied Scully, knowing that this woman was probably wondering what such a "useful person" was doing on rookie detail, far from any lab. This case didn't even technically come under FBI jurisdiction except by a stretch; the child had been taken by a parent with shared custody and was presumably still within State lines. The Park's involvement was the only thing that justified the FBI's presence, at least until the father was known to have moved states or lost custody.

"Forensics, huh? Do you know Adam Coultrain, of South Virginia Medical Examiner's? He got us the samples we needed to train the dogs, before we got "Dead Fred.""

"Dead Fred? And no, although I've read some of his articles."

"Fred's another useful person. He's a synthetic material that smells like a corpse. He comes in many flavors, old corpse, new corpse, not yet a corpse but close, etc. Before we had to use actual samples, and couldn't do wounded search practices at all."

"I love being compared to a fake corpse. Very flattering," Scully spoke dryly.

Liliana gave her a startled glance, and then laughed ruefully. "Sorry about that."

"No, it's okay. I've heard of this before. I'd like to see a sample of it sometime."

"For your birthday. You can come out and help us train, a rare treat, I assure you, especially with the new ones and the puppies," Liliana smiled at her as she spoke, offering her an unusual gift. Training wasn't open to the public.

"Today's my birthday, and I just hope I don't get to see a sample of the real corpse along with my real search."

"Hmm, well, Happy Birthday! And here we are, ready to go. Ready to go, Chaser!" She then released Chaser's leash and followed the dog, who was sniffing the air, heading towards the north, away from the path. Scully followed Liliana, startled by the dog's behavior and amused by Liliana's sudden shift of focus, or maybe revelation of focus. Scully's own attention had been primarily centered on what was waiting for them in the trees during the entire conversation.

"What's she doing? Most of the dogs I've seen put their noses to the ground."

"Air scenting. Dogs can pick up traces of a person miles away and hours ago, if they've got a good nose. And Chaser's the best." She followed after the dog, slipping down a wet-leafed slope into a stream, pausing to help Scully up the side again, hands warm on the Special Agent's.

Some time later, Scully leaned against a muddy rock face, looking out down the hill through the trees. She could see Chaser's orange Search coat and Liliana's, behind the dog, and hear another dog barking sharply a ways off. She started to follow down the hill, but paused as she noticed non-orange-jacketed movement along the side below her. A man in a camouflage jacket was sneaking stealthily towards her partners - it was clear from his movements that he was trying not to be seen. She gnawed her lip anxiously - if she shouted, they would all be warned, but she couldn't let him hurt Liliana. Scully took a firm grip on the Ruger she still wore under her coat and slipped as quietly as she could down the damp hill, using the thin ash and oak trees as cover.

Meanwhile, the man crept closer and closer to Liliana and the two dogs now at the bottom of the hill. Suddenly, one of the dogs woo-wooed and raced up the hill, stick in her mouth. Liliana started to bend down to her dog, innocent of the action going on behind her, but jumped up in surprise, turning to see Chaser drop the stick and race up to jump on the man behind her. The man shouted, slipping in the wet leaves to fall on his back. Chaser grabbed his arm growling, just as Scully reached them, shouting "Freeze, FBI!"

The man, disheveled and unshaven, but recognizably the suspect, groaned and groped for his gun, dropped when Chaser grabbed his arm. Finally he stopped and croaked, "my daughter, my baby. It's got her! It's growing in her lungs, the kudzu!" Liliana, her arms around the proud and still-agitated Chaser, said, "We've got her. We'll get her out. You can handle him, right Scully?"

"Yeah, you go look at the child. That was the signaling stick you told me about, right?" Scully looked back and forth between her catch and Liliana, trying to reassure herself that the other woman was alright, that she hadn't had another partner injured.

"Yes. Oh, great, here come Else and Jamal - they can handle this guy while you doctor the kid."

The tall black Sheriff's deputy that next appeared said, "I've got his scrawny butt, you two go look to see what those noses of yours found this time. You alright, Lil, Agent Scully?"

"Yeah, thanks to Chaser and Scully, here. We're off!"

The two women slid down the slope towards Elspeth and Medea, who were busily wrapping a little girl with frizzily curling red hair in Elspeth's rain coat, Medea trying to lick her hands all the while. The child paused to cough raspingly, leaning against Elspeth but still trying to pet Medea and now Chaser, who was eyeing her anxiously. Scully swallowed - that was a horrible cough - and reached for her own waist pack.

"Hi, sweetie. I'm Dana, and you know Elspeth, and this is Liliana and Chaser. We're going to get you back warm and safe to your mama very soon, okay?" Scully was checking the child over for visible damage all the while, also giving her the juice pack and wrapped cookies she'd secreted in her pack. Anything more would have to wait for a hospital. It sounded like the poor child had pneumonia, though not the kudzu the father'd been rambling about. He'd been right that something was wrong with her lungs, at any rate.

Several hours later, parent and child were both safely on their way to different floors of the same hospital, and Scully was dragging back home, exhausted but not in lack of a birthday party. Liliana had not forgotten Scully's remark about her birthday, and she and the other Search and Rescue people had ceremoniously presented her with a Search and Rescue hat, a signed publicity photo of the dogs, several Park Service souvenirs of the type given free to children, and from Elspeth and Serenity, an offer to help her find a dog - general duty certainly left enough time for it, so maybe she'd take them up on it. There'd even been a cake - Hostess cup-cakes from the little Park store with leftover sparklers stuck in them for candles. Everyone had been a little punch happy from the successful rescue, and Sully had truly enjoyed the friendliness of the way she'd been treated. Maybe Mulder's absence wasn't all bad, disloyal though the thought felt. Still, if she got more assignments like this at least she'd get to see these people more often. She'd liked them, those dog people, and especially Liliana. Liliana's friendliness and thoughtful actions warmed her - she'd been more thoughtful about her new acquaintance's birthday than most of her friends and family, including her brothers and Mulder.


SEARCH PART TWO

***
A few weeks later, after the Incident of the Undying Old Guy and the Stupid Agent, who Shot our Scully - Tithonus
***

Scully woke with a start, jarring her still aching chest. She'd heard her name, hadn't she? She strained to hear more, anxious with the habits of too many years a player among the X-Files and conspiracies of the world.

"I met her a while ago, on a search. What happened to her? Can she have visitors?" a hushed and somewhat anxious voice in the corridor asked.

She recognized the charge nurse's voice in the reply, that yes, Scully had been shot, and she could have visitors if she was awake. Before anything else could be said, a dog's big dark head poked around the door and woofed gently, a doggy smile on its face as it pulled towards the bed. Scully smiled for the first time in what felt like months - Chaser! Who could forget that dog? Or her owner.

"Scully? You awake?" Liliana's voice was soft and tentative as she followed her dog partway into Scully's dim room.

"Yeah, hello. What's she doing in here? Not that I'm not delighted to see you both..." and Scully was, as she reached painfully to stroke the Terveren's dark soft head, Chaser coming close so she wouldn't have to move much.

"We play therapy dog twice a week - Chase has more letters after her name than most full professors. How are you? I mean, it's obvious you're not... Do you mind if I ask what happened, or take my foot out of my mouth?" Liliana smiled at her a little anxiously - she saw severely injured or sick people every week, but rarely those she herself knew and liked.

"Hazard of the profession - young agent got trigger happy. A familiar young agent. I should have remembered what you said about him shooting one of the dogs." Scully sighed a little, looking into Chaser's sweet eyes, praying that Liliana would leave the topic of how she'd gotten shot and recovered. Especially of how she'd recovered - her life was more complicated monthly, and now...

Liliana sat next to her, staring at her in shock. "That idiot shot YOU now, too? I remember you saying in your e-mail that he was callow, but Jesus! Feebs'll have to get rid of him now. Oops - sorry, Scully."

"It's okay, he is pretty feeble. I think Mulder said he was so upset he's transferring to white collar crime - not much chance of shooting anyone there." Scully smirked a little, remembering the ever-so-slightly-smug expression on Skinner's face when he and Mulder had recounted this little tidbit. Dumb bugger deserved to get sent to Anchorage, let alone bumped out of murder-and-kidnap cases. She knew that her friends had given him good reason to leave, if he hadn't chosen to. Kersh would have to find a new watchdog now. She resettled herself more comfortably against the flat hospital pillow and watched Liliana as she fiddled with the purple flowers next to her bed. She frowned. Something was wrong there, too.

"Are you alright, Lil? Is your arm still bothering you, after that rock fall?" The other woman had mentioned recently via e-mail that she'd torn a few ligaments after sliding down a rock face in a cave, but she'd implied it wasn't serious. Scully hadn't seen her in person since right after they'd first met, but they'd begun to keep a comfortable e-mail correspondence, with occasional messages from Elspeth or Serenity as well.

Lil shrugged, saying "I've been going to PT regularly but it's still a little stiff. I've got two more months to go until I'm fully operational - so no searches either. Good thing my real job doesn't require two good arms, just one to write with!" Liliana worked as an editor for a big publishing firm and did some writing on the side, though Scully hadn't managed to read any of it - the other women was oddly shy about her own work. From some teasing remarks Serenity had made, she suspected that her new friend wrote torrid romance novels or something equally as embarrassing.

The two women went on talking together, catching up on the past weeks. Liliana kept a close eye on Scully, insisting on leaving to finish her rounds when she saw Scully growing tired. Scully herself settled back under the drab hospital bedcovers at Lil's insistence, feeling more alive than she had since the shooting. She giggled drowsily as the drugs took effect and Liliana tucked the light blue blanket over her gently, smoothing her hair out of her face. "No bed bugs to bite," she murmured as she dropped out, leaving Lil with an amused expression as she stood watching her - her new friend's powerful dignity and coherence apparently deserted her when she was woozy and sleepy.

Until Scully was discharged a week later, Liliana and Chaser made a point to come visit at the end of every therapy visit so they would have time to talk, lengthening the visits as Scully grew stronger. The nurses gave her special privileges - after all, she was listed as a volunteer. Serenity came once as well, bringing her other dog with her, tiny Guinevere - a little fluffy golden dog that was also certified as a therapy dog. Scully found their visits far more restful than those of her agitated family - this was too close to what had happened to Melissa for them to resist pressing her to leave the FBI. The friendly charge nurse actually had to eject darling brother Bill on one occasion. Mulder, too, tended to just stare at her, and to mutter anxious antagonisms against the fool of a young agent, and Kersh, and even Skinner. He had come too close to losing her too many times to be able to take it just as a chance or isolated event - it must be a sign of some larger evil. As this was sometimes true, his alarums were less than comforting.

***
On Discharge from the Hospital
***

"Okay, Scully, you all set?" Lil Ramos smiled at her pale but much, much healthier looking friend as she turned the old red Bronco's engine over. She'd had to seriously resist the urge to fuss over the smaller woman as she'd gotten settled into the passenger side, only managing to do so because she knew how much she'd hate to be fussed at herself.

"And extremely ready to leave. I still can't thank you enough for volunteering to drive me home - they wouldn't let me take a cab, though I'm perfectly all right. Grrr!" Scully mock-scowled momentarily, still irked by her colleagues' stubbornness, and unreasonably, by her family's and Mulder's inability to be there right when she needed them. Still, it was very nice to have a new and obviously reliable friend to ask...

"My pleasure. I've enjoyed talking to you in person rather than on the PC, despite the miserable circumstances."

"Definitely. I need to take you out to dinner after this, to thank you." Scully turned, smiled at her, awaiting her companion's answer hopefully.

"I accept, she said promptly. I never turn down real food, I'm a rotten cook. Although it's not necessary at all, you know. I wasn't kidding when I said it was my pleasure."

"Good. Oh, turn left here," Scully said, sitting up when she saw that they were approaching more of the ever-present bridge construction. The two women continued on the rest of the way to Scully's Georgetown apartment, finally managing to weave through the labyrinth of construction, traffic, and one way streets to park.

Liliana grabbed for Scully's bag, wincing and dropping it with a choked gasp as she realized she'd used the wrong arm. She reached to take it with the other arm, just as Scully herself picked it up.

"I saw that. Come on, you don't need to injure yourself to save me! Aren't we a pair, though?" Scully smiled at Liliana as they walked up to her apartment, holding her bag carefully with both hands to avoid pulling on any healing muscle.

"Veritable advertisements for Ace Bandage and company," agreed Lil with regret as she cradled her injured arm in defeat. Both of them were still wearing various bandages and wraps. She looked about with interest as they walked into Scully's small flat, noting with approval the neat but comfortable decor, the books and journals in a basket by a chair, and the plants in the window. She wondered briefly if Scully would like to adopt one of her baby spider plants when she potted them next week, then dismissed the thought to help her friend arrange things so she could get them.

"Thanks, Lil. I can't risk pulling too much on these muscles for a few days, but I have to stretch to reach those to begin with." Scully sighed, annoyed by her own weakness and, irrationally, by her failure to move her cooking pans and bathroom things to a lower shelf before she needed them there. She was going to owe Lil a really good dinner after this. She noted with concern that the other woman was only using one arm and winced guiltily. She'd been using both before, although only tentatively.

"No es nada. Hey, you offered me real food, anything's worth that." She walked over and hugged Scully briefly, leaving the FBI Agent too startled to flinch. "Here, why don't you sit down for a while while I go get the rest of the stuff out of the trunk. I can manage with one arm, as long as it's the right one."

"Okay, but you're going to let me take a look at that arm when you come back. I'm the useful doctor, remember?" Scully went to go dig through her medicine cabinet, sure she still had some of the stuff she kept around for the bruises that were the inevitable hazard of her profession. Horrible as it smelled, Tiger Balm could cure any muscle ache.

"Aggh, that stuff reeks! Are you sure it won't make my arm drop off?" Lil leaned back exaggeratedly as Scully began to smear the ointment onto her arm.

"Of course not, I use it all the time. There's nothing in it that could hurt you. You wiggle around worse than Mulder." Scully smoothed the silky cream gently into Lil's arm, working it into the sore muscles under the soft skin. <Soft? Should I be noticing that?> She paused for a half-second, surprised at the thought, then continued.

Liliana had fallen silent, sitting cross-legged on the sofa next to Scully. She watched, amused by her friend's serious expression, and bemused by her own reaction to the light touch. <For goodness' sakes, it hasn't been that long! She's straight, and doing you a favor. A medical favor, she's a doctor> Lil scolded herself internally, a little shocked at her own warm pleasure in the touch. The pain seemed to be melting away with the slight stingy heat of the ointment.

"I take back everything I said, that's much better." She sighed and leaned against the sofa, relaxing as her arm ceased to ache. Scully looked up and gave her a slightly smug half-smile - see? I knew what I was doing - and went back to her ministrations. Watching a lock of Scully's beautiful copper hair fall from behind her ear to rest against her cheek, she resolved to ignore any further physical attraction. Seconds later, she heard herself asking, "So what's up with Mulder these days lately, anyway? I don't remember you saying anything about him the last time we talked, or in your last e-mail." She knew she was fishing, there, (what did she mean, "wiggle as much as Mulder"?) trying to find out if they were more than friends and former partners. Scully paused, still holding Lil's arm in her lap.

"I don't know. We talk, sometimes, but... He's too worried about me, and work, and just life in general <for us, anyway> to be very communicative." She stared down at Lil's arm, absently noting the slight curl of her fingers, the bump that probably signified a past break, a few scattered freckles on the warm golden olive skin, then shook her head slightly, dismissing the depressing thought of Mulder without his X-Files. "Here you go. Let it sit for a while, and I'll re-wrap it for you."

"Thanks. Is something wrong at work, besides you getting stuck with Trigger Happy Jack there, and all of that? I don't mean to pry, but I mean it's obvious something's changed in the last year or so. I've heard the Bureau doesn't like close relationships between agents..." Lil trailed off, knowing that was heavy-handed, but really wanting to find out. <Geez, why don't you just ask her, dummy? You're friends, after all. Yeah, but just getting there. Don't want to be like old Tia Rosario, into everything> she argued with herself."

Scully stared at her a second, then gave an abrupt chuckle. "Mulder and I are close, but not that kind of close. It would be too damn incestuous. I guess we never have talked about relationships, have we? Are you seeing anyone? Wren mentioned a tenant of yours..." she trailed off suggestively. <Not in the mood to discuss the X-Files, let's have some gossip.>

"What, Michael?! She must have been joking! Definitely not each other's types, and he's been in New Zealand for months. I've been pretty much out of the game for the last few years. My last lover took off after eight years to go to, of all places, Antarctica. Said they wanted adventure and a real frontier." Lil scowled, remembering that last scene with Caroline, who had said a great many things about what she wanted to get away from, as well as what she wanted to get to. She herself had been on top of the list.

Scully noticed the impersonal pronoun, considered, discarded for later, and went on to relate her own (slight) recent dating history.

"Hmm. No wonder we didn't talk about our relationship histories." Lil said, watching as Scully carefully re-wrapped her arm.

"Definitely a depressing topic. Antarctica."

"Tattoos."

"Yeah. You'll have to show me yours sometime. I'm very curious, you know." Scully smirked, seeing Lil blush. <Must be pretty awful, to make her blush like that. >

"Some other time, maybe. Now I've got to go, and let you get some rest. Next Saturday, for dinner?" Lil said, standing up hastily. <No way am I letting her see that tattoo. Why did I ever listen to Caroline about that?> She backed away, picking up her jacket as Scully rose carefully and came to see her out.

"At seven o'clock. You bring dessert."

Lil glanced back, seeing Scully standing in the door, watching her leave. She really liked this woman, wanted her for a friend, maybe just wanted her. Funny, she hadn't seriously sought out a new friend since Caroline had taken off for Antarctica with that bearded bird counter of a Canadian scientist, let alone a new lover, male or female. It was already fairly clear that Scully was not a potential mate, despite her easy acceptance of Elspeth and Serenity's obvious relationship. Too Catholic, too Bureau, too, too straight. Still, she seemed likely to be a good friend, and Lil was sure her attraction to her wouldn't last. Images of Caroline those last few years tended to intrude and choke any sexual feelings she had about anyone, let alone somebody who didn't want her. Unwelcome sexual intrusions dismissed satisfactorily, Lil turned the Bronco out towards I-95, ready to go home to Fredericksburg and feed Chaser, Moppet, and her two foster dogs, and maybe re-read *Venus Envy* for the umpteenth time. It was better than thinking about Scully, or Caroline, or the book she owed her editor next month.


SEARCH PART THREE

***
Later, a brief interlude of Peace and Gossip in the Spring
***

Elspeth lay sprawled comfortably on her belly, staring lazily through the new grass towards the frisbee tossing Serenity and Lil, and the five dogs running around them. Scully looked down at her from her cross-legged position next to her on the picnic blanket and suppressed a sudden surge of envy at Elspeth's affectionate half smile. The other woman was utterly, overwhelmingly in love with Serenity, and while not a particularly demonstrative person, her joy in her partner was very evident in her expression and manner whenever she was around her. Scully didn't think she'd ever had anyone care for her that much, and she knew she herself had never loved anyone like that. Thinking about Else and Wren made her think about Liliana's relationship status. She swallowed a bite of her egg salad sandwich, and fed the last bite to the great white Medea, panting eagerly on the blanket next to her.

Elspeth rolled to look up at her, saying with a smile," You're going to spoil her, you know."

"I know. Hey, Elspeth?"

"Mmm-hmm?"

"Tell me about Liliana's lover, the one that went off to Antarctica? I mean," she said hastily in answer to Elspeth's raised eyebrow, "she told me it was awful at the end, but that was years ago. Why is she still so gun shy? She always avoids the topic of relationships, except to tease me."

Elspeth looked at her thoughtfully for a few seconds, then sighed. "Well, you heard us talking about the miserable bitch a bit earlier. She probably wouldn't mind, I know the two of you have gotten close the past few months, and I know she trusts you. She's always afraid and embarrassed to talk about it. Liliana fell in love with that... that person when she was still in graduate school. She was ten years younger, and sort of vulnerable. Naïve, you know? And feuding with her family a bit, so she was kind of disconnected. They're good people, but they're second generation Mexican Catholic, and they didn't know what to think when their beloved daughter pulled WAY out of what they'd expected. I've known her since undergraduate days, and I knew ole' Caroline before she did." Scully started slightly, and then nodded slightly to herself. She'd sort of suspected, ever since she'd noticed Lil's avoidance of specific pronouns, though she wondered why the woman would hide it, with her obvious acceptance of Elspeth and Serenity.

"She seemed okay at first, a little wild, and really for the first five or six years it was alright. Caroline was possessive, and she encouraged Lil to express her reckless side, but only with her. They were always together, the only time we spoke alone towards the end was online or on a rescue. Caroline got Lil to do some pretty risky, dangerous things, like free climbing type fives and chasing tornadoes, stuff like that, and worse, things dangerous in other ways. She was always after the next thrill, in EVERY way, and she dragged Lil along." Elspeth paused, staring sightlessly at the hot blue sky, the sounds of dogs and laughter in the background.

Finally deciding how to go on, she said, "Lil did things I don't think she'd have done, otherwise. Got hurt all the time, it's just luck she's totally fit and healthy now. Anyway, the last two years, Caroline was constantly picking at her, trying to get her to drop her creative writing and focus on techie stuff - she's good at that, but she hates it --, to drop the dog stuff, things like that. It didn't matter what it was, if it wasn't something she controlled, she wanted it changed. Then she stopped all that, made up with Lil, seemed to change, but... In the end, she turned out to be having an affair with that bird guy and just took off for the great beyond. It devastated Lil - she still maybe loved her, had lived with her most of her adult life, and she'd trusted her. It took a few years, but she got over that, I know she's not in love with that old bitch - excuse me Medea - but she's definitely not anxious to try again. I think she's decided on celibacy, and she's stubborn and cautious enough to go for it. Anyway, why, did you want to set her up with somebody?" Elspeth's visible eye had a distinct glint to it as she spoke, though Scully missed it, looking away towards the frisbee players.

Scully was scowling, having gotten angrier and angrier as she'd listened, both to what Elspeth said and didn't say. "If I ever meet Caroline, point her out so I can plot damages," she said, not even registering Elspeth's last comment. <I wonder what I could get Frohike to do, if I wasn't so law abiding and all. The IRS, perhaps? > She dropped back onto the blue and yellow blanket, resting on bent arms, brooding on someone who could be cruel to the friendly, generous, and gentle Liliana. The fact that that cruel person was a woman somehow made it seem worse. She didn't even notice that she didn't worry about her friend being a lesbian, as she might have done years before. Years on the X-Files and as a forensic pathologist had given her a different perspective on sin, and some of the proscriptions of her Church and childhood seemed superficial, worthy of little consideration in real life. Elspeth had snorted in agreement, and rolled back over onto her belly, this time looking speculatively through her lashes at Scully. <Hmmm. This could be fun, if it's what I think it is. Lil's a bit too cautious any more, and definitely too stubborn about ignoring her own wants and needs. Dana would have to do most of the work -if she even realizes what she's doing.>

Her thoughts were interrupted suddenly as Wren and Lil reappeared from over the hill, walking back towards them slowly, dogs darting back and forth underneath. Elspeth smirked at the sight of her partner, wishing they were alone and could speculate about their newest friend's feelings for one of their oldest. Serenity dropped down next to her, smiling back, and grabbed her sandwich, cheerfully pirating her partner's lunch. "So what have y'all been talking about?"

"Oh, nothing much," said Scully a shade too quickly. "Nice game?"

"Yeah, it was fun. I think Flounder here might make a decent frisbee dog," replied Lil, happily oblivious to any odd nuances. "Any left for me?"


SEARCH PART FOUR

***
On yet another pointless case, Mulder (they are working together, but the atmosphere in the the Bureau is unfriendly) becomes annoying and is deserted
***

"Hey, Scully, check that out. The sea witch approacheth." Mulder peered into the fog, looking over Scully's shoulder away from the docklight. An anonymous, bulky, orange-swaddled figure came striding towards them, clutching something in its arms. There were indeed bits and clumps of seaweed and dirt all over its wet coat, visible as it came closer.

"Dana Scully! That is you, isn't?" called the figure in a familiar, female voice.

Scully started and then walked rapidly towards the figure as she pushed back her rain hood to reveal a damp and tired Liliana Ramos. "Hey. Were you with the rescue squad?"

"Yeah. I'm staying on for a while, but I hear you all got the "get lost" from the cops and don't need to stay." Lil shifted the sack in her arms, sounding even more exhausted than she looked.

"It was just another dump-on-us job. They knew it probably wasn't a murder, but they had to call us because it was on government property, and Mulder was interested anyway because of the boat they came off of. We needed a break from our usual, anyway." Scully couldn't keep her eyes off the sack. <Maybe it's the shadows, but I think that just moved.> "Lil, what is that?"

A sudden plaintive "mmaaow!" from the sack made Liliana smile ruefully. "Kittens. Four. We couldn't save those three sailors, but these guys have made it so far. Speaking of which, could you please take them home with you? If they stay here for as long as I'm stuck, they probably won't make it, and the Mop's a little too interested."

"Of course I will. Where is Moppet, back with the other Dog teams?" Scully had met Lil's water-rescue trained Newfoundland on her previous visits to her house and remembered him fondly despite his size and inclination to drool all over her foot. He was too sweet not to love.

"Yes. Thank you, Scully. I'll come get them as soon as I can, or you could just go to my house for the night? It's closer than yours, and it's late." Lil smiled weakly at her as she carefully handed the wet sack to Scully, who barely winced as it touched her nice clean London Fog rain coat. <Oh, well, babies, even cat babies, are worth a little dry cleaning.>

"Chaser wouldn't freak when I come in without you?"

"Nah, she likes you and she knows I trust you. Just tell her the down word I taught you, and leave the foster pups in the crates. Please, Dana? I don't want them alone, and that way you can call Serenity and roust her out of bed to come look at them. We won't ever get any other vet to come out on a four day weekend."

Scully hesitated, then nodded. "Of course I will. It'll be better than driving all the way back to Georgetown in this weather, anyway."

"What will be, Scully?" asked Mulder as he reached them, peering curiously first at Liliana and then at Scully's squirming sack.

"I'm going to go stay at Lil's house. Mulder, this is Liliana Ramos of Sourthern Virginia Canine, Lil, this is Fox Mulder, my investigative partner in the Bureau." She shifted the sack a little closer, and its movements quieted.

"Hello. Scully, if you don't want to drive, I will." Mulder was just slightly frowning, clearly (to Scully) suspicious of this unknown person so familiar with her.

"No thanks, Mulder. You can catch a ride back with March. I'll see you on Tuesday, at which point you will have all of your paperwork finished." She settled the sack in her right arm, grabbed her case from her partner, and turned to stand next to Lil facing him. <I don't know why I'm so irritated by this, I know how he is about people he doesn't know. And besides, he's always ditching me - thus to you, guilty conscience.>

"No arguments, Scully. Have a nice night. " He turned in a huff to walk towards March, turning back to the watching women suddenly. "What's in the bag, Scully?"

"Cats. Later, Mulder." She turned back to Lil, who had been watching this with slightly wide eyes. "Now. May I have your house keys?"

"Um, sure. Interesting guy, that Mulder." Liliana unzipped her orange raincoat and pulled out her keys, thereby revealing two damp wool sweaters as the source of her extra bulk. Scully took them, paused for half a second, and then reached up to smooth her friend's wet hair off of her forehead. Liliana, too tired to really react, nevertheless managed a smile at the offered affection and concern. "Thank you again, Scully. I owe you dinner at the best restaurant in Fredericksburg tomorrow, I promise."

"I'll hold you to that with pleasure. And it's no problem, I've come to like cats since meeting those big guys of Elspeth's. You just get home as soon as you can, alright? You look awful." Scully started walking towards the gated lot under the big light poles to pick up her car, holding the cats carefully.

"I will. Bye, Dana."

"I'll see you later, Lil." She turned and smiled back at her friend. It was obvious that this futile search - well, almost futile, as a kitten squeaked -- was depressing her. At least knowing the kittens would be alright would help, and maybe that she would have human company when she finally did get home.

A half-hour later, Scully pulled into a gravel drive on a different bank of the same river, parking in an azalea-bordered turn around at the side. Liliana's house, a former summer home set half on stilts and into the slope of a hill, was right on the Rappahannock River, just a little outside of the smallish historical town of Fredericksburg, VA. Scully liked it for its simplicity and beautiful view - Lil was lucky to have found it. She settled the kittens, still emitting occasional cheeps but ominously quiet, in her arm and walked up the path to the front door. There was an immediate, purposeful bark from the other side of the door as she opened the screen to unlock the door, followed by sharper barks from the other dogs.

"Whoa, girl." Scully muttered, not having realized exactly how big Chaser was until that second. She took a deep breath, pulled the keys and door open and said Chaser's sit word firmly. The dog immediately dropped her menacing stance to sit, her beautiful tail furiously dusting the wooden floor as she stared up at Scully, looking past inquiringly, then up again.

"She'll be back soon, Chaser. Let's go take care of these guys, now that that's settled." Scully took a deep breath, relaxing as she walked past the now friendly dog into the house toward the kitchen and the barking Flounder and Tonto. For a second there, she'd been remembering a certain Asian cane dhole incident, with less than fondness. Chaser, sweet though she was, was big, and Schutzhund trained as well - with all the danger that that could imply.


Serenity sighed, touching one little gray scrap of a kitten gently. "This one's already gone. He's likely the only casualty though, now that the other three are warmed and fed. They're about five weeks old, so you'll have to feed them this formula along with this special food. At least they're old enough it won't be every two hours like with really tiny ones. Lil's taken care of orphans like this before, so she'll know what to do." The other woman's round face looked a bit tired, but she showed no other sign of discomfort at being rousted out of bed at two o'clock in the morning. "So the search didn't go well in terms of humans - and why did they call in the Feds?"

"No. It seems that three boaters out for a night of drunken fishing capsized, of course, and drowned, then landing up on the government fish counting station down the river. There wasn't anything anyone could do by the time their families called in the rescue squad. We had to go in because of where one of them fetched up, but it seems to be an accident." Scully yawned, covering her mouth with the back of her hand as she watched the remaining kittens, one gray tiger and two black with white feet, as they slept in a warm pile in the laundry basket the two women had converted into a kitty nursery on the kitchen counter. Chaser watched curiously from below, occasionally attempting to peer in.

Wren sighed, saying "That's too bad. Lil and Moppet'll both be depressed by the time they get back - the search teams will have to run a fake search to let the dogs find somebody alive, or they'll be upset for days."

Scully looked at her for a second, then snorted softly. "My life's become a zoo since I met you three. I never would have thought of dogs getting depressed before." She stroked the sleeping kittens gently, hoping that they would survive what their brother or sister had not.

"Do you really mind?"

"No. Not at all. I've spent years looking for sentient life beyond earth. It's rather humbling to realize I was looking right over its head." She dropped her hand gently to tug Chaser's soft ear, causing the dog to tilt her head and stare up at her quizzically. They both chuckled, then Wren left her, with instructions and formula for the kittens, in order to return to her own house. Scully walked over to the bookshelves lining the open living room, grabbing a book at random before dropping down onto the overstuffed sofa. She knew she probably wouldn't stay awake enough to read it anyway.


SEARCH PART FIVE

Lil shut the door to the garage carefully before stepping into the "mudroom" to remove her boots and gear, dropping it where it fell. She'd deal with it in the morning. Chaser and Moppet snuffed quietly at each other and her - she'd quickly forestalled their usual woof-fest on her entrance. Finally wearing only a t-shirt and sweatpants - both somehow still soaked through, despite all the layers - she padded into the living room holding her breath. <Huh. She did stay.> Lil smiled down at the dozing Scully for a second before walking on into the kitchen towards the box visible in the dim light from the house lights out front. She peaked in to see three kittens in a sleepy puddle of fur, feeling her heart drop at the obvious loss of one. She sighed, then went to let the dogs out for a minute, and then to take a shower and bathe the Mop before bed. <I won't wake Dana until I have the bed made up for her, poor thing is probably exhausted.>

Scully woke suddenly, not sure what had awakened her or where she was. Blinking in confusion, her eyes fell on Chaser and the big brick fireplace in the center of the room. <Oh, right. Lil and the river search.> Yawning, hand to the back of her mouth, she sat up stretching, frowning as she heard the shower running. She rose and walked back towards the one bathroom, knocking and calling out, "Lil? Why didn't you wake me?"

"What, Scully? Oh, I didn't want to until I had the bed ready. Whoa, watch out!" Steam and a large black furry object both went streaming out of the bathroom as the door burst open full width. Scully yelped as Moppet took advantage of the opportunity to escape and knocked her back into the laundry pile. Lil, yelling for the dog to come back, immediately followed, tripping and knocking Scully back into the linen closet as she tried to rise, landing on top of her.

"Hey, watch it!" Scully, still half-asleep, grabbed Lil's wet forearms and tried to push her slightly dazed friend up. Her wet, naked forearms. Scully's eyes widened, suddenly wide awake, as she realized that she'd just been pinned to the ground by one hundred and thirty-five pounds of very nicely shaped naked female human. <Much better than my usual run of naked bodies. Of course, she's alive. Very much so.>

"Whoa," moaned Lil sitting up next to Scully and putting her hand to her forehead, which she'd apparently banged. "What the h..." she paused, looking down at herself, then at the still staring Scully, "Umm.." She smiled in an embarrassed sort of way, then suddenly, confoundingly, she flushed a deep rose-gold. Scully watched in fascination as it traveled up her whole body, from rounded belly to full breast to tops of her ears. <I knew I did that, but I've never seen anyone else do it> she thought, then realized that she was still staring and handed her one of the towels she'd landed on.

"Thanks." Lil managed, hastily tugging it around herself, only to fall forward again into Scully's lap as Moppet, apparently feeling apologetic, nosed her hard from behind. Scully, just as surprised, finally just gave in and relaxed, giggling as she put her arms around Lil, "We might as well just give up. How are you today, Ms. Ramos?"

Lil turned and buried her face in Scully's warm shoulder, mumbling, "Just fine, said Mrs. Lincoln about the play." Scully started snickering again, hugging her harder as they were suddenly squashed by the wet Moppet and by Chaser, neither wanting to be left out.

A few minutes later, they both crawled out of the closet, still snickering every few breaths, trying not to trip over the dogs again. <Crawling out of the closet, how apropos> thought Scully wryly as she looked at the still flushed Lil. She'd realized months ago that she was becoming emotionally attached to her friend to a degree she didn't recall ever happening with any of her friends before, with the possible exception of Mulder. Although that was different, somehow. Over the past few weeks she'd begun to realize that her attraction wasn't all emotional. <And now -- oh, hell, Scully, just say it. You really are physically attracted to her. You want to pull her back down on those towels and kiss her. Kiss her? You want... Oh, hell!> Scully gulped, slotted this away with the many other things she would think about LATER, dammit, and grabbed the dog's collar. "Why don't you finish with your shower and his bath while I go make us something to eat? It's too late to order pizza."

"Yeah" managed Lil, "don't bother with food unless you're hungry; I can never eat after all that. Help yourself to any pajamas or so forth from my room, third drawer on the left." She took Mop's collar from Scully, possibly flushing a little deeper as their hands brushed, and still smiling a little wildly, escaped back into the warm mist of the bathroom.

Scully stared at the now closed door for a second, then turned and walked into Lil's bedroom to fish out some sleepwear. She smirked a little at a pair of soft flannel pajama pants with dancing penguins on them, then dismissed them in favor of a matching set of Star Wars PJs. < I always wanted to be Princess Leia, I guess little starfighters are as good. These had to be a gift. Shower and food before I change. Good thing I'm off tomorrow, it's almost morning.> She left the chosen pajamas on the soft peach comforter and continued on into the kitchen. Her hands found an apple, some peanut butter, and yogurt almost automatically, mind busy elsewhere. <Alright. I love her. Of course I love her, she's my friend, one of the best I've ever made. The question under analysis here is, HOW do I love her?> She chopped the apple as she thought, spreading peanut butter on the slices. <Posit A: Subject 1 is happy when with subject 2. (And when am I happy, of all people?) Posit B: Subject 1 frequently thinks things like "I have to tell her..." and "I wonder what she's..." and "I want to get her to go here with me..." These things are all potentially compatible with friendship, no worries there. Of course, there is also the way I touch her all the time. I never touch people, but I do it with Lil all the time. Sweet Jesus, I even hugged her tight when she fell on me. Fell on me naked. And that's one I can't ignore, like I can the physical "affection" and those dreams. Dreams like that are normal, of course, but not about your friends. Stop, Dana, digression. You're ignoring the point again. You have never, in your entire life, not the first time you made love nor the last, felt like anything like you did just platonically holding your naked friend in your arms, smelling her warm clean skin, feeling her weight against you.> She sighed, munching tastelessly on the apple, staring at the bugs batting equally mindlessly at the bluish outdoor lights. <If I hadn't laughed, I might have kissed her. And would it have been so wrong if I had? Elspeth and Serenity, and the other gay men and women I know, aren't evil sinners. If God doesn't approve of love like that, he isn't the God I've been praying to. There's the Bureau, but they've damn near kicked me out as it is. As things are, I don't have much of a career to protect. My mother... well, she's dealt with worse and weirder with me. I don't think she cares anymore as long as I'm alive. Okay, we've established that it's alright to feel the way I already do. Now what do I do about it? She isn't necessarily going to want me in return, especially in light of the whole Caroline celibacy thing. When she finally did talk to me about that, it was pretty obvious she was pretty badly hurt by it, still.> She licked the last of the peanut butter off her thumb, and moved on to the yogurt, continuing to debate herself in her mind, finally just sighing and giving up. <Anyway, it's both too early and too late to be worried about this. Later, later, later.>

"Hey, aren't you going to change?"

"Ahh! You startled me. Yes, after a shower." Scully jumped, then moved away from the warm hand on her shoulder to throw away the yogurt container, not quite ready to look her friend in the eye.

"Sorry. Help yourself to shampoo and stuff, I'll go clear off the futon in the guest room."

"Thanks." Scully finally looked at Lil, finding herself smiling at the other woman's freshly scrubbed look. She looked very young, her dark hair slicked back, eyes slightly unfocused without her contacts. They stood there for a few seconds, looking at each other, before Scully turned to go grab the Star Wars jammies and head off to the waiting bathroom.

Liliana stretched, yawning as she walked into the study that served as a guestroom. She was so tired it took her a second to realize what she was seeing as she stared into the shadows. "Mop-pet! You bad dog, get down!" she yelped as she rushed forward to grab the huge wet beast off of the bed. He barked and rushed into the kitchen, tail between his legs. Lil cursed under her breath as she checked the bed only to find that, yes, the dog had indeed soaked the bed through. <Great, now I have to sleep on that damn lumpy couch. Can't make Dana sleep there.> She turned and glared accusingly at the huge black nose and paws that were all that were visible of her dog under the table, then sighed a little and went to drop down next to him. "Miserable night, huh, buddy-boy? Can't really blame you for acting up a little... I know you don't like death any more than I do. Perro pobre triste, poor sad dog..." Liliana crooned endearments to her dog as she sat on the floor, smiling at his heavy sigh. She rubbed his wet head for a few minutes, leaning against the heavy table leg, the exhaustion finally hitting her all at once.

Scully came out of the bathroom, clad in the little starfighters, to find her slumped there on the floor staring sightlessly away as Mop licked her hand. "Hey, what's this? You can't go to sleep on the floor." She reached down past the hand Lil extended for a lift to catch her around the back, pulling her up to lean against her.

"Hmm, must be more tired than I thought." Lil smiled, pulling away somewhat reluctantly, Scully thought. "Mop's damage didn't end with the linen closet, so unless you enjoy a waterbed with the water on the outside, you'll have to take mine. I'm for the couch, soon's I remember where it is."

"Don't be ridiculous, your bed's big enough for both of us."

"Umm, Scully, don't you remember I'm gay?" She'd found out months ago that Scully knew, bringing her great relief as she'd been trying to tell her without having to explain why she hadn't before. She'd told Serenity that she didn't know why she hadn't made it obvious from the beginning of their friendship, only to be startled when Wren burst out laughing. She still didn't quite know what was so funny, or at least she didn't want to know.

"And that makes you an animal?"

"Of course not! I just didn't want you to be unco.."

"Sorry, bad joke. I'd be a lot more uncomfortable with you on the couch, especially that one, which has enough lumps that it could almost qualify as a vertebrate. Come on, you're half dead with exhaustion."

"'Zat your professional opinion, Ms. Pathologist?" mumbled Lil somewhat grouchily as Scully pulled her towards the bedroom, tired enough to be miffed that she couldn't make her generous sacrifice. She sighed and settled down into her bed, finally turning to smile sheepishly at Scully. "Thanks, Dana."

"You're welcome. Good night." Scully reached up and pulled the light switch, then settling into her side of the bed. She turned to look at Lil as her eyes adjusted to the slight gleam of light from outside, her own smile softening a little as she saw that her friend was already asleep, within seconds of hitting the pillow. She lay like that for quite awhile, watching Lil sleep, before she joined her.


SEARCH PART SIX

Sometime later, Scully squirmed a little, wincing as she opened her eyes to a bright light. They had forgotten to close the blinds last night, she realized fuzzily, as she peered at the window. <That must be why I'm so warm. Or not.> She was suddenly wide awake as she stared at the tanned arm curled firmly around her belly, visible where the covers had pulled back, simultaneously processing the presence of soft breathing warmth against her back. <Ohhh, my. She rolled over to hold me last night - I wonder if she thinks I'm Caroline? I don't like that idea at all. But if she knows it's me... I really like this, this spooning thing. I wonder if that's why I had no nightmares? It could just be that I was too tired. Huh.> She sighed a little and snuggled back, deciding to go back to sleep and let Lil wake up and deal with the situation, if it had to be dealt with. Lil smiled sleepily against her neck and rolled over partly on top of her, never waking up as she brought head to rest on Scully's breast. <Sweet Jesus,> Scully thought, <good thing I'm letting HER deal with it.> She took a couple of deep breaths, feeling Lil's dark head move with her chest as the other woman rested against her. <I'm never going to fall asleep now, am I.> She smiled. <Who cares?,> as she brought her hand up to smooth Lil's hair.

Lil sighed a little, nuzzling into her pillow, somehow too content to move. She paused, frowning little. <Something funny about this pillow.> She opened her eyes, her belly clenching as she saw what she already knew. <I am in bed with Dana Scully. My head is on her very soft warm breast, and I'm clutching her pajamas. She's still asleep. Move now!> She started to ease back away from the smaller woman, freezing when a blurry voice murmured a wordless protest. Liliana's brown eyes looked up cautiously through her lashes to find Scully smiling sleepily at her. They stared at each other for a few seconds, Scully's smile fading a little as her eyes sharpened into full awareness.

"Ahhh... " fumbled Lil, scooting up a bit, but not quite leaving Scully's embrace, as the smaller woman tightened her grip.

"Hmm. Let's just say good morning and bypass the appalled squeaks, kay, Lili? I was very comfortable, I assume you were, and we can just go with that." Scully hugged her closer, her gentle smile holding a degree of tenderness that Lil had rarely seen from the reserved woman. She smiled back finally, relaxing into the embrace and the startling knowledge that she WAS safe and comfortable here, hadn't messed up what had become a very important friendship, and that all she really wanted to do was invite her companion to stay every night hereafter.


SEARCH PART SEVEN

***
North Carolina, After Disgusting Hallucinogenic Fungus Incident - Field Trip
***

Dana Scully and Fox Mulder sat together sipping bad airport coffee silently, both hunched over a bit with exhaustion and a general feeling of uncleanliness on top of a residual scalded feeling. Skinner had left earlier that day, after assuring himself that his two most accident-prone agents hadn't managed to permanently damage themselves. <The hospital may have said we're fine, but I still feel disgustingly dirty. Uggh! Who'd have ever bothered to think about fungal exoenzymes, besides a few literally moldy nerds, let alone the possiblility of spending hours slathered in it. I am going straight out to Fredericksburg. I am going to hug my friend, pet my friend's dogs and the kittens. And then I am going to take a long bath. When the water gets cold, I am going to take another long bath. And then... What the hell is that?>

"Mulder, you had better not be humming the theme from Little Shop of Horrors." Someone who didn't know her well would have missed the sudden flash of humor in her eyes.

"What, Scully, you don't fancy yourself as Audrey?" Mulder smirked at her, pleased that his sometimes too-cultured partner had recognized something as lowly as a song from a musical.

"Not if you're Seymour," Scully offered him a perfect replica of his patented smirk in response.

"Oh! To the quick, Scully, to the quick," Mulder miming a gesture of pain. "Speaking of which, while we're stuck here in airport purgatory, why don't you tell me all about whatever Seymour has put you in your recent good mood?"

"Mulder... well..." She tried to look stern, but she had been thinking about talking to her partner for some time, both as a friend and as a psychiatrist. She was almost certain he would take Lil's gender in stride - certainly better than her family would. Besides, the near miss with the awful flesh-eating acid fungus from Timothy Leary's hell had reminded her how much she really liked him, even if he WAS sometimes annoying and intrusive.

"You mean you really are seeing someone!" Mulder almost choked, "Well, come on, then, tell all, allow me to live vicariously, etc."

Just for that, Scully waited until he was taking a sip of his coffee before she told him. The resulting snort-and-spray was rather disgusting, but satisfying.


SEARCH PART EIGHT

***
Again after the world's worst Field Trip, Scully goes to Fredericksburg
***

Several interminable hours later, Scully stood outside of Lil's river house and frowned blearily at the empty garage space below the deck. <She's not back from Richmond yet, I suppose - she said she'd be a little late on the phone. I think I'll just go sit by the water for awhile.> She wandered on down to Lil's muddy little bit of riverside, pausing to squash a few mushrooms - hah! Take that..., but tired enough to be happy with just sitting for a few minutes. That was where Lil found her, sitting with her cross-legged and staring almost hypnotized at the gentle green and brown flow of the Rappahannock.

"Hey, girl. Long few days, huh?" Liliana smiled down at the small red-head at her feet, feeling a little shocked at her generally debilitated and grubby appearance. <What on earth happened, she's always so immaculate...>

"Mmm? I suppose so." Scully turned slowly to look up at her, blinking sleepily. It was amazing how much better she felt seeing her friend again, even just knowing that she would see her, especially knowing that she would probably sleep over tonight. The two women had taken to spending an occasional night together, at least ostensibly to avoid the lengthy drive between Georgetown and Fredericksburg after a long evening. Now they just smiled goofily at each other, until the sudden cough of a neighbor's motorcycle kicking over broke the spell.

Startled, Scully began to bounce up too fast, almost falling if not for Lil's quick grab. "Isn't this how we met?" Lil asked, not releasing the smaller woman as Scully regained her equilibrium.

"Something about you just renders me incapable of keeping my head, I suppose," the younger woman replied, a slight quirk to her mouth. They began climbing up the damp muddy hill, Lil not quite sure what to make of that statement, though she hoped she could make a guess. After the morning she had woken up snuggled up to Dana, she had forced herself to reevaluate her stubbornly held aversion to certain kinds of human interaction. She had recently begun to acknowledge to herself, at least, that maybe Caroline hadn't completely spoiled her for another relationship, at least not if it involved someone as clearly trustworthy as Dana Scully. <Besides,> she had thought, <Else and Serenity like this one, and they never could stand Caroline beyond mere politeness. Even the dogs love her, and they're great judges of character. Of course, it all depends on whether she's just affectionate, or would actually be interested in a multiple dog-owning, cheesy romance writing, card carrying lesbian, who's six years older than she is. And she hasn't met the part of my family that still speaks to me yet, either.> The cautious increase in physical contact and affection between the two had led both of them to the - correct - conclusion that the other woman probably WAS interested, but neither had been quite ready to say anything out loud. Still, hardly a weekend went by where they didn't see each other, or at least call. <Now, however, I need to give Dana some serious TLC. She looks exhausted and grumbly. Definitely time for the kitty/food/bath cure,> Lil thought, absently patting Scully's arm as she helped her up the darkening path to her house.

Scully herself was just concentrating on making sure her feet landed on the wooden step dividers rather than the spongy mud and grass in between. Relief at being for once completely off the FBI's hook, pleasure in Lil's solicitude, and overwhelming exhaustion combined into a state of mental and physical torpor. <I'm just thankful that I actually remember the flight and the drive down here. Any other time I would have resented them. Now I think I have them to thank for my sanity.> The lack of them had been the clue that allowed her to escape the clutches of the evil slime mold from hell. She sighed and took a tighter grip on Lil's arm, aiming herself towards the bath she felt she desperately needed.

"Why don't you go get cleaned up, while I take care of the animals and get all of the dinner stuff together? I have a nice big pan of spinach lasagna that my sister-in-law made me in the fridge; all I need to do is toss it in," Lil suggested after the two had endured the enthusiastic greetings of three dogs, three cats, and one really confused guinea hen. Scully barely gave the hen - a new acquisition - a glance and simply nodded, saying, "I'm just going to steal those starfighter pajamas again, okay, Lil? I'm too tired to be alive."

Scully clambered into the tub, wincing a little as the warm water stung in the raw and bruised places still healing. <Mmm. This is so much better than going back to Georgetown - I wonder where she got this tub? I love these claw feet.> She soaked peacefully for a few minutes, mind drifting, until she thought she heard heavy breathing. <Who the hell is that?! Somebody is staring at me...> She opened her eyes a crack, reaching for the scrub brush behind her, only to find Moppet's hugely adoring black face two inches away from her. She relaxed, only to yelp with outrage when a wet red tongue slopped over her face. "Hey! I'm already taking a bath! I don't want any French kisses from a dog!" She pushed him away ineffectually as he continued to slobber all over her face, only to be rescued by a laughing Liliana, who had come to see why Scully had yelped.

"Hang on, I'll get him, you should have left the door closed, he loves baths because the people can't get away..." She hauled him off and shut the door, hastily closing her eyes to avoid seeing too much of Scully's flushed skin. Scully settled muttering down into the water, quickly re-washing her face and starting in on the rest of her maltreated person. She paused, hissing as she hit an acid scorch too hard, then paused again frowning down on it, twisting slightly to regard the one on her back. If Moppet had reentered the bathroom, he would have seen a sweetly evil little smirk appear on her normally angelic face that might have made him think twice about mauling her.

"Lil? Could you help me take care of these burns?"

Lilian turned from her contemplation of two boxes of Sara Lee cakes to choke at the sight of Scully, damply wrapped in a mist-green towel, with an appealingly helpless look on her face. She stared for just a second too long, long enough to make Scully nervous, and said, "Sure. What do you need?"

"Just to smear this stuff on the ones I can't reach. Most of them are nearly healed, but some of them..." She shrugged, nearly losing the towel, making Lil, who had relaxed on hearing her request, tense up again. <She's looking a little shell-shocked - good thing I'm too tired to really try anything serious. I'm getting tired of this little game, though. Something is going to change soon.>

Lil followed Scully into her bedroom, taking the salve from her as she laid down naked on a towel on her bed. Lil's eyes followed the soft creamy curve of Scully's muscle and bone as she settled down carefully, taking a deep breath as she climbed onto the bed next to her. "How did you get them? Do I just smear it over the reddish places?"

"Yeah, just be gentle, okay? As for how it happened... Long story. They aren't anything contagious or dangerous." She squirmed a little, then started as Lil's hand touched her skin, sending a mixed flash of heat, pleasure, and pain through her body.

"You okay, querida bonita?" Lil paused, anxiously waiting for her friend's response. "Oh, yeah. You just startled me, that's all. What does that mean, pretty sweetheart?" Scully laughed softly, forcing herself not to react as Lil started to rub the salve lightly into the mark on her lower leg.

"Mmm-hmm. My mother used to call me that when she was feeling affectionate when I was little. We didn't really speak my Grandmother's Spanish at home, but we used it for things like that." Lil stroked Scully's soft skin gently, gamely trying to ignore the warmth in her own body that seemed to be spreading up from her arm. "So, tell me about these burns." She was hoping fervently that the story would distract her from the evenly breathing form under her hands.

"Well, essentially, Mulder and I got called in on a disappearance case. We found some digestive fluid encrusted skeletons. We got caught by the perpetrator. It was a - aah! - gigantic flesh eating slime mold. We suffered acid burns and hallucinations from its attempts to eat us. We got rescued by our boss. And then we shipped home via hospital and airplane." Scully took a deep breath, feeling Lil's hand pause and rest on her upper thigh. <If she doesn't move that, I won't be able to talk. The longer this little game goes on, the stronger my... reaction... to her gets.>

"Oookay. You want to run that by me again, more slowly?" Lil stared down at her, forgetting not to look as she reacted to Scully's recitation, moving slowly onto another burn.

"You must have heard about the giant fungus they found in the Carolinas on the News. It tried to eat us. Hence the acid burns - it tried to break us down into our constituent parts before ingesting us, holding us still by shooting us full of happy juice." Scully wiggled a little under her hands, pressing herself up into Lil's hands as she tryed to get more comfortable.

"My dear, you have a very interesting life. Hallucinations, huh? Only you and Mulder would almost get eaten by a giant 'shroom." Lil chuckled softly, thinking of some people she'd met on the job who would consider that the world's greatest death. She paused then, hesitating. The next burn was in, well, an intimate place.

"Ohhh, yeah. Lil? It's okay."

"Yeah? Uh-huh." She took a deeper breath, pulling her hands into her lap and sitting up straight to scoop up more salve, then reaching down to Scully's backside, swallowing hard. She stroked it gently into the silky warm strength of her, her mouth dry as she touched her friend's flesh. Despite her long ago fears, Caroline did not come into her mind once. She wasn't even really listening about Scully's story of her day among the green goo. The startlingly powerful and clean heat of her response to Dana Scully, lying trusting and relaxed, naked, under her hands consumed her.

Scully lay still, eyes closed. She'd stopped talking when she realized she was no longer capable of an unbroken sentence, the mixed pleasure and pain of Lil's ministrations too much for coherence, forgetting all of her plans to tease her friend into making some sort of overture. Her eyes flew open when she felt weight displace the waterbed's flow next to here, finding herself staring into deep brown eyes, darker and more solemn than usual.

"Day? " Lil breathed out, lying next to her, looking a little scared and confused but far more nakedly aroused, waiting for her response.

Without a thought, Scully leaned forward, pressing her lips very gently to Lil's, feeling her almost hesitant but clear response a second later, finally falling into the other woman's body. They lay together, kissing, Scully climbing half onto Lil's prone form, both breathing hard. Lil was stroking her hands lovingly over Scully's warm naked skin, careful of the burns, feeling her bare breasts against her own clothed form.

<She's so sweet!> Scully pressed closer to Liliana, her entire body a rush of wet golden heat. She had never responded this strongly to anyone before. She had never been in love with anyone before she had gotten involved with them before. She sighed, pulling back from her friend, burying her face in the nubby apple green cloth of Lil's shirt, feeling her take deep, dragging breaths below her.

"Dana? I..." Lil's voice cracked as she tried to figure out what she was feeling. The only thing she was sure of was that she was not about to let go of Dana. <I don't know what to do! I love her. I know I do, have, probably always will love her. But it went so bad last time, I can't imagine her hurting me like that, but I don't know if I can do this right, and what if she regrets it and doesn't want me as a friend anymore?> This was too much and she began to cry, clinging to Scully.

"Oh, Lil. I'm sorry, I shouldn't have, I didn't mean to hurt you!" Scully was horrified, rolling over and curling her arm under Lil, barely noticing the sting as her abused rear end hit the rough towel.

"No, no! You didn't do anything wrong, it's just, I never thought... Dana, I love you." Lil, unable to keep her beautiful brown eyes from tearing up, stared at her, looking incredibly open and vulnerable. She wasn't sure of a lot of things, but THAT she was sure of, as well as the need to make Scully aware of it.

"Oh, honey. I love you, too." She was almost tearing up herself, cradling the other woman closer to her and kissing her tenderly, on the forehead this time. "What's wrong? Am I pushing you too hard? I'm sorry, I just... It felt like the right thing to do."

"You love me? You really do? Not as a friend, Dana, although that too, but as a lover, as a mate?" Lil's momentary fear and disorientation was forgotten as her mind latched onto the first part of Scully's statement.

"Yes. As a friend, as a lover, as a mate. Every other way possible, I love you, Liliana Teresa Adamson Ramos. I want to be more than your friend, but I will love you regardless." Scully's serious blue eyes blazed into Lil's, impressing the strength of her conviction on her mind.

They stared at each other nose to nose, breathing the same breath, both of them starting to smile at the same second, until they were lying there with joyously goofy grins on their tear-streaked faces. Liliana turned carefully, sitting up and pulling the smaller woman's naked form into her lap, hugging her tight, eyes closed and face buried in the short silky auburn hair. Scully sighed, feeling her whole body relax in relief (except for certain highly keyed up areas) and tucked herself in even closer. They remained there, unmoving except for breath, until the timer went off for the lasagna.

Dinner passed with hardly any words, but much touching and glowingly happy gazing. <I'm feeding her chocolate chip cheesecake, and I'm enjoying it more than eating it myself. How incredibly mushy and corny is that?> thought Lil, her heart so high in her chest she was almost dizzy with joy and breathlessness. Scully smiled at her, sucking the last bite of creamy dessert of the spoon with a soft flick of her tongue. She leaned over to kiss Lil, sharing the sweetness with her. Lil felt her eyes close with pleasure, smiling blissfully at her partner, thinking <Oh! That's how mushy it is, but it's definitely not corny. No way, definitely worth doing.> She opened her eyes, surprised to find herself standing with her hands on Scully's bare waist under her favorite Star Trek pajamas. Scully had dressed while she finished their dinner. <I'm lucky I didn't poison us, and I notice she's wearing only one sock. Must have been thinking of something distracting> Chesire cat smile, hidden in Scully's hair.

"Let's go to bed." Scully suggested, leaning into her.

At Lil's foolish, but slightly anxious smile, she added hastily, "Just to sleep. I'm about as lively as my patients right about now, not that I wouldn't like more, love, I'm just not capable of it right now."

Lil smiled down at her, rather surprised to find herself far more disappointed than relieved -- < So much for my vows of celibacy > -- and replied, "of course. We should probably go slowly, ease into this part of it anyway. I know you're not exactly experienced here, and it's been a while for me." She hugged Scully gently, turning them both toward her bedroom.

"Hey! I'm inexperienced only with women, and I've been doing research, I'll have you know." Scully pretended to glare indignantly at Lil, ruining it with a highly inelegant yawn.

Amused, Lil smirked at her. "Research! Is there something I should know? So that's where Elspeth's Naiad and Good Vibrations catalogs disappeared to! I told her it wasn't my fault."

"It's all your fault, Lil Ramos. If I hadn't met you, I would never have even thought of anything other than good Catholic heterosexuality."

"Hmm. I guess you'll have to settle for good Catholic homosexuality. I'm Catholic too, you know, as much as I'm allowed to be." She pulled back the covers for Scully, leaning over to turn off the light.

"Thank you, God and Mother Mary." She immediately rolled over to curl into Lil's side, feeling her turning to hold her close.

"For being gay or bisexual, or for me being Catholic?" Lil wondered softly.

"Bisexual, I think, and for both. It'll make my mother happy, that you belong to the Church. Night, love, I'm about to keel over." Scully smiled, at the pleasure of using that endearment, feeling Lil smile at the the pleasure of hearing it. She fell into an exhausted sleep so quickly she barely felt Lil's good-night kiss.


SEARCH PART NINE

***
Lil and Dana spend a pleasant morning
***

Lil stretched a little, waking completely to stare in delight at the woman curled into her side - she'd been afraid it was just another dream. <For once I can wake cuddled up to her legitimately. I love her so much!> She lay watching in a happy daze, relieved to see the tension smoothed out of Scully's face. She was smiling just a little, cupid's bow lips curled up at the corners, hand fisted under cheek. <Adorable. Mine. And hers.> Lil closed her eyes, sniffed at Scully's rumpled red hair, acknowledging the fact that she'd managed to give her heart again, one she'd thought permanently damaged. <I know she'll never deliberately hurt me. I know what to look for now. It'll be okay. I just need to make sure she knows she has my trust, that I don't hurt HER by pulling away at the wrong time. Whatever happens, she's worth the risk.>

Lil moved from Scully's hairline to kiss her forehead, then her mouth gently. On the third kiss, she felt the soft response. Scully was smiling against her mouth.

"Hi. I love you." Drowsy blue eyes the exact shade of a clear winter morning regarded her unwaveringly, a smile lurking in the depths.

"Good morning. I love you, too." Lil's last bit of tension fell away - < she doesn't regret it!> -- and she leaned in to kiss Scully again, only to be interrupted by an unearthly cry in her right ear. "What!" She jerked back, turning to regard a plaintively meowing kitten, seconds later joined by another. She could hear the third on the floor - the male kitten had been injured that storm-ridden night and could never quite jump as high as his sisters. "Artemis, Athena, and Apollo. Good morning."

"You feed them and the rest of the menagerie. I'm going to brush my teeth, and then we can go back to bed." Scully was giggling, though the expression in her eyes was slightly rueful.

"Sigh. Okay, okay, y'all, let's get going. You're getting dry food this morning, though. No smelly canned stuff today, huh? Got that?" Lil wandered out to the kitchen, kissing Scully quickly before she went, a sea of dogs and kittens following her feet.

Scully scrambled out of bed and watched her at the door for a few seconds, feeling her face stretch into an entirely irrepressible, if out of character, smile. <Toothpaste, now! She didn't say anything, and I didn't notice, but morning breath is not good, especially not with a new lover one would like to keep beyond the weekend.> She turned and marched firmly off to the bathroom.

<Hmm. I think that I'll only need that ointment one more day. I seem to be healing pretty well, even if it has been four days since THE INCIDENT. Not too shabby, Scully, not for thirty-something cancer/kidnap/etc. survivor with a damn high accident prone rate.> She paused in her examination of her naked body in the mirror, frowning suddenly. <I hope Lil thinks so. I don't even think about them anymore, but there are all those scars. My belly, my chest, my neck, although that one's small. Well, she knows about the chest wound, and it's the worst. Geez, Dana, give her some credit, you know she's not that petty. And she saw most of you last night anyway.> She shrugged mentally - she couldn't control Lil's reaction, after all - and stepped into the shower with relief. She'd missed that over the last few days, only now healing enough not to sting with the pressure of the water. <Heh. I still can't believe I did that, although I surely got the best possible results. Maybe I should take more chances.>

"Scully?"

Scully opened her eyes, brushing some water away and turned to face Lil's voice in the main bathroom. "Hi. I just wanted to get rid of the ointment, so..."

"You're okay if you do that?"

"Oh, yeah, I only needed it the one more day, if that." She smiled a little guiltily. She could have stopped using it yesterday morning, but better safe than sorry, right?

"Good. Umm. You want somebody to scrub your back?"

Scully's eyes widened a little as her belly clenched at that thought, and she replied hastily, "s-sure. It's not very hot though, I didn't want to aggravate anything."

"I bet we can warm it up." Lil grinned, then added, "you know, body heat and all." - a hasty qualification that didn't make much of one. She dropped her underclothes on the floor, took a deep breath and stepped into the shower, reaching to steady herself on Scully's arm. They both gasped at the contact, the sound lost in the rushing water. The two women stared at each other, Scully's blue eyes as dark as Lil's brown in the shadowy shower alcove. Scully reached over to the soap tray, picking up the bar of Ivory to lather it up before reaching up to Lil's arm and shoulder, running it along her arm.

Lil drew in a breath at the slick coolness of it, contrasting it with the feeling of Scully's warm hand returning to grasp her waist. She reached for the soap in Scully's hand and took a scoop of foam, beginning to stroke along behind Scully's shoulder, leaning into the light embrace, not quite touching Scully's breasts with her own. Neither of them said a word, just washing each other, moving from neck to belly to breast, stroking the soap over rounded buttocks, nothing overt, just... washing as the water ran over them, alternately tickling and soothing and then arousing in places.

When the water became too cool, they staggered out of the shower stall, too wobbly to stand without touching each other, breast and hip brushing together. Scully swallowed and looked up into Lil's eyes, almost whispering, "Lil, let's not wait. But I don't, I mean I don't have any practical experience."

Lil smiled slowly, rasping back to her, "But of course you do. Every time you've touched yourself. Don't worry, love, it's the easiest thing to learn on earth, and I'll show you." She dropped the towel and pulled them both still dripping back towards her bedroom, shutting the door on all of the furry would-be interlopers. She could feel herself plump and slick between her legs, wet beyond what the towel could have dealt with.

They fell together onto the rumpled bed, Lil carefully maneuvering Scully on top to save her bruises. Scully pushed up into her dropping her full lips onto Lil's, taking control with an urgency that surprised them both. They moved together, Scully moving to straddle Liliana. She hummed as she felt the wet fur between her smaller partner's legs against her belly, arching up into her. Scully pulled back with a gasp as Lil's thigh pressed up into her center, instantly pushing down harder with her mouth, sucking hard enough to bruise, moving to Lil's fluttering pulse, smiling hard against her throat as she felt its speed. Lil, paralyzed in shocked delight, had time to think, <for someone who wasn't sure what to do...> then found herself lost in Scully's heat. They moved together, not needing to think, just reacting, finally Scully collapsing slowly, head buried in the crook of Lil's neck, feeling Lil pull back a little to hold her.

"Just from that? Just from you being close," Scully finally murmured, surprise replaced by wondering awe. "Whatever took me so long to figure this out?"

Lil made a soft throaty rumbling purr that might have been a laugh and turned to suck Scully's earlobe gently for a second, feeling the delicately sweet shape slip over her tongue as Scully gasped and jerked in her arms at the touch. "Just from that," she agreed when she had freed her mouth. "And just from this."

Scully dragged her head up to see Lil's hand slipping between her own legs, feeling tickling movement against her own thigh, slick from her position against her lover. She moved her leg against Lil's hand just once, feeling her hum again more than hearing her, finally moving her leg off of her thigh, even as she reached down to pull her hand away. "Hmm? Does this bother..." Lil looked at her with half closed dark eyes, confusion fading into delighted relief as Scully's hand replaced hers.

"No." Scully slid down, feeling a heat that was almost pain between her legs as she moved her breasts along Lil's side, shaking it off to concentrate on her lover's pleasure - a thing she was afraid was much overdue. She held her hand still there for just a few seconds, finally reaching gently through the thick moisture to stroke the swollen clit, slipping through the folds, pressing down on the entrance, exploring all around the warm wet plumpness, almost slipping off, Lil was so wet, not quite touching the clit again or quite going inside, touching everywhere. Lil's husky voice, a full register lower than her usual begging her to touch her, go inside, do anything, just DON'T STOP, Scully's breathing raspy against Lil's arching breast, grasping the nipple with her soft wet mouth, nipping lightly, then harder at Lil's soft cry, shoving a finger, then two, inside, feeling hot slick flesh, so soft she closed her eyes. Finally giving in to her lover's desperate pleas, reaching to brush her clit with her thumb, pushing her hand away again, circling Lil's clit again, pressing hard, feeling her body convulse hard against her hand so hard it almost hurt, the pressure somehow feeling better than almost anything else she'd ever known.

She lay, watching Lil's hard breathing through her lashes, feeling her body still clutch around her hand, Lil's hand reaching to run through her damp tangle of red hair. <It's going to be a mess, I didn't brush it.> she thought irrelevantly, starting to smile against Lil's soft body, reaching to nuzzle the underside of her breast, wanting to purr like the most purr-happy kitten on Earth. She had never felt so proud and pleased and altogether loving about anything she had ever done before.

"You know, my dearest darling, I'd never have guessed you were a novice," Lil managed, tugging her up to lie beside her, rumbling deep in her throat as Scully wiggled her fingers a bit as they slipped wetly out of her most intimate place. Scully simply chuckled and turned to cuddle closer smiling at her, leaning forward to kiss her sloppily on the chin. Lil beamed back and kissed her back, this time on the mouth, sweetly with as much love as her heart held, which somehow seemed to be considerably more than she'd ever felt capable of before. "Love you, " they both began at the same time, giggling sleepily again, feeling the warm liquid langour that would draw them both in to sleep again in the bright summer sunshine.