Beach Blanket Bingo I thru VI

by ScullyFu

Title: Beach Blanket Bingo I thru VI
Author: ScullyFu
Feedback to: X-File_Addict@msn.com
Author's Website: http://scullyfu.populli.net/
Date Archived: 04/12/02
Category: X-File or Casefile  
Pairing: Scully/Other Female      
Rating: NC-17
Spoilers:
Permission to Archive:
Series or Sequel/Prequel: Contains Beach Blanket Bingo, The Casual Observer, Fear of Flying, First Contact, The Visit and The Truth Comes Out
Notes:
Warnings:
Disclaimer:
Summary: The Continuing Saga of Dana and Melanie


Title: Beach Blanket Bingo
Author: ScullyFu
Email: X-File_Addict@msn.com
Posted: 8/15/00
Archives: Spookies, Gossamer, Ephemeral are okay. Others, please ask. Spoilers: Not a one. Can you believe it? Rating: NC-17. Vignette.
Classification: ScullySlash.
Disclaimer: They're not mine. CC, 1013 and Fox have the sole rights to their existence. Dammit! Summary: Dana gets overheated in the noon day sun. (Yes. I know, but there's a reason I use her first name. Trust me.) For other stories in the series, please go here: http://scullyfu.populli.net/

Jesus, this heat is making me horny.

Lying on this white-sand beach with the sun beating down and waves gently lapping at the shore, I can't help but be lulled into a state of extreme relaxation. The swishing of the water, in and out, in and out. Is it any wonder that my mind has drifted to the woman lying oh-so-close? She's on her stomach with her face turned towards me. I wonder what she's thinking. She looks asleep, her features smooth and content, except for the barely noticeable upturn of her lips. I decide to take a chance that she is awake, but just caught in some divine fantasy. Hopefully, I'm in there with her.

I slowly sit up and reach for the suntan lotion. She is fair-skinned and can't stay in the sun for long periods, especially without re-applying sun block with maximum SPF protection. She'll think nothing of me rubbing the lotion on her overheated skin. Hesitantly, I turn the bottle on its end and squeeze. A blob of white goop squirts into my palm. I rub my hands together and then reach for her. Gently, so as not to disturb her if she is asleep, I begin to massage the lotion into her shoulders. She moans her approval and her smile widens.

She's awake.

I straddle her hips, my body casting a shadow across hers. Slipping her bathing suit straps down off her shoulders, I continue to apply the block, hoping it is enough to keep her from getting burned; already there are red streaks around the thin white strap lines that have protected her skin from the direct rays of the sun. I hope it's not too late to keep her tender flesh from frying.

Feeling bolder, I unhook her top and lay it open along her sides. She wiggles a bit before quieting beneath me. I smooth the lotion all over her now fully exposed back and my thumbs venture to the soft skin on the sides of her breasts. She says nothing, no sound, and no reprimand. Leaning down, I whisper to her to lift up a bit. She obeys. Still moist with lotion, my fingers slide smoothly under her, and grasp her hidden nipples. She lies back down, resting in my hands. You are so lovely, I tell her. I want you always. Kneading her breasts, firm and yet pliant, I feel her nipples harden. She squirms. I ask her if she's enjoying herself and she nods slowly in the affirmative.

The sun is at twelve o'clock, it's hot and only getting hotter. She is fire. Even her hair is red. Being around her is not unlike walking barefoot over hot coals. You're pretty sure you're going to get burned, but the chance to prove yourself wrong makes it too enticing to stop.

I lean down to her ear and ask her for my hands back. She smiles broadly, hesitates, and then rocks from one side to the other to release me from her bosom. Lifting the lotion, I again squeeze out only enough to be absorbed into her body. Rubbing it into her lower back, I tentatively push down the tiny piece of material euphemistically called her bathing suit bottom. A little at a time, I inch it lower and lower, all under the guise of applying sun block. Her rounded ass, which apparently has never seen the light of day, is completely bared. The only thing keeping it from being on display to all who walk by is my body hovering over hers; that, and the fact that there are not a lot of people on the beach.

We deliberately chose this vacation spot because of the private beach. Having only recently gotten together, this is a settling in period for us. We wanted a place devoid of distractions, and that translated to people. Somewhere we could immerse ourselves in each other; really get to know each other, up close and personal, so to speak. And that we have. We've been here three days and the only other people we've seen are the beach bartender and the room service waiter; oh, and the maid, briefly, before we told her to go away, we were still in bed. She graciously departed.

So this tropical isle with wavering palms has proven to be as discreet and private as the travel agent guaranteed. Bless her, we will be booking with her again. Soon. I think Dana would enjoy spending this Christmas in the South Pacific. She likes me to call her Dana when we're together; says she gets enough of being Scully at work.

I take her ass in my hands and squeeze each cheek like I would test a plump melon. There's no doubt she's ripe and ready for eating. But this is not the time. Later when we're in our room, out of the blistering noonday sun, my appetite will be satisfied.

She murmurs something that I can't make out as I slide one finger under her suit bottom and glide it up into her hot cunt. I bend over her and kiss her ear before tracing its outline with my tongue. She rewards me with a smile. My finger is ebbing and flowing, just like the waves on the shore. She pushes back into my hand and silently tells me she wants more. I grant her wish and slip in a second finger. As they meet inside her, I twine them together and start to push deeper. Her pussy is hot and wet. She mews like a kitten.

My other hand reaches to her front and she lifts up, a nearly imperceptible movement and I slip my other hand under her. My fingers strain to come in contact with the source of her heat. I kiss her spine up to the back of her neck and notice that she's starting to burn. I don't want her hurt and unable to enjoy the rest of our stay, so I determine to get her off fast and then out of the mid-day heat.

Her clit is swollen and begging for release. As I touch her, she shivers as though she is suddenly cold. It started out at eighty degrees this morning, must be ninety degrees by now, and is only getting hotter. She shivers not from cold, but anticipation. Anticipation of my continued exploring touches.

I give her what she wants, what she craves. My finger circles her, slowly, teasingly. Her body tenses. She struggles to move herself into position so that I'll touch her clit. I tighten my knees and thighs around her and don't allow her to move. She must wait until I decide she is ready. I know in my heart that I won't let her wait long, that would be mean; and I can never be cruel to my lover. She is perfect, even in her imperfections.

She twists her head around to look at me. She says nothing, but a look of pleading in her eyes tells me everything I need to know. She can't wait much longer. Her eyes are dark and full of want. She lets a little whimper escape. I give in. I can't withhold anything from her.

Finding her clit, I tug on it while thrusting my fingers deep inside her. She jumps under me. I'm momentarily suspended in air. As I settle back down over her, increasing my rhythm and pressure, she moans. She's ready. I give her the release she so desperately wants.

She buries her face in her beach towel and screams into the sand. Her body gives itself over to the feeling of abandonment. I notice her toes digging into the towel; it is stretched so that I think the threads are going to rip. She thrusts against my hand, my fingers clamped tightly inside her. I wait for her to return to me.

As her body continues to slowly spasm, I rise off her and help her to turn over. I see her fully. Her breasts are swollen, her nipples erect, and her body is flushed with the afterglow of her orgasm. After watching her for a moment, I whisper, God, you're beautiful. She lifts up for my mouth. I capture her's and she lets me stroke her tongue with mine. Velvet. She is a goddess.

Our lips barely a breath away, I ask her, are you ready to go inside now? Yes, she says. The first word she has said to me in the last hour. Our love needs no words. We are in sync, from the first time we met we have been connected.

I kiss the tops of her breasts. Dana, I say, pulling her up and wrapping the over-sized towel around her, I love you. Walking over the sand, hand in hand, back to our room, she takes my breath away when she stops to kiss me and says, I love you, too, Melanie.

THE END

FEEDBACK? I'D LOVE TO HEAR FROM YOU. X-File_Addict@msn.com



Title: The Casual Observer
Author: ScullyFu
Email: X-File_Addict@msn.com
Posted: 8/30/00
Archives: Spookies, Gossamer, Ephemeral are okay. Others, please ask. Spoilers: Not a one. Can you believe it? Rating: G. Vignette.
Classification: ScullySlash. 3rd Person POV Disclaimer: They're not mine. CC, 1013 and Fox have the sole rights to their existence. Dammit! Summary: Scully and her friend are being watched. Note: This is set in the Beach Blanket Bingo Universe. It is not necessary for you to have read Beach Blanket Bingo first; this can easily stand-alone. If you want to read it to get caught up, go here: http://scullyfu.populli.net/

My second Bloody Mary is just being set on the fresh, dry cocktail napkin when I see them walk into the airport bar. I glance at them briefly; they look like two close friends, leaning into each other and laughing over some private joke. I am putting the finishing touches on my latest story and hoping my laptop battery doesn't give out before I'm ready to send the copy to my editor.

Some people may think that working for the high and mighty Conde Nast Travel magazine for the dripping-dollars wealthy would be a great way to live. And, for the most part, it is. I get paid handsomely to fly around the world checking out luxury vacation spots that the normal, everyday working person will never visit. Only the best for the old money crowd; but I think that's even truer for the nouveau riche. God, how they love to have people fawn over them and wait on them hand and foot. I sometimes think that's the reason why loafers are so popular in that set, they wear them just so they don't have to tie their own damn shoes. I stop to give some more thought to how I want to end the write-up, how many stars this place will receive, and realize that the two women have been seated at the booth across from and two up from mine. Although I can only see the back of the head of the dark-haired woman, I have a perfect view of the small redhead. She is stunning. Her hair is a shade that I have never seen. It's neither too red, nor too brown. It has a certain hue about it that neither Crayola or L'Oreal has yet to capture. It's curly, not tight like those popular Afros from the seventies, more like a soft body wave. But, it's obviously natural. Collar length in the back, she has the front pushed back off her face with a thin beaded headband. Her eyes are as blue and clear as the water of a pristine lake in Switzerland. They are warm and gentle with just a touch of sadness behind them. But now she is laughing softly at something the other woman has said, and they are sparkling and dancing with glee, much like a child's on Christmas morning.

She reaches across and takes the other woman's hand, briefly. Her smile is luminous and I see the other woman dip her head, as though needing to break from the spell the redhead has cast on her. I wonder how long they have been here on the island. The dark-haired woman is tanned beyond belief; but not that fake tan from a salon or a bottle. This is natural. God, I hate people who have large amounts of melanin in their system. It's not fair!

But the red-head, she looks like she either just arrived here, which is not likely, or that she spent the entire time under an umbrella with lots of sunblock slathered all over her. That's possible. With her fair complexion, she's probably used to avoiding the direct sunlight, at least in a sunbathing context. Nope, you'll never see her with a wrinkle from too much time spent in the sun that's for sure.

She obviously takes care of herself. She is tiny. If I had to guess from the brief glimpse I caught of her when they walked in, I'd have to say maybe five two or three. Even sitting down, she appears to be a few inches shorter than the other woman. And she looks to weigh all of maybe a hundred and five pounds dripping wet. Her silk tank top frames arms that look well toned, like she lifts weights. Her shorts show off thighs and calves which exhibit the musculature of a runner or someone who does regular aerobic workouts. I wonder what she does to afford this place? This nearly deserted island that caters to the rich and famous. Computer whiz kid? Plastic surgeon? Corporate lawyer? She looks smart. I can see that in her eyes, even from across the room. There is a certain air of intellectual superiority about her. It's not that she looks like she's snobby or anything, just that she has a sense of her own self and her abilities. She looks like a calm kind of person. Centered.

A slow smile is forming on her lips. God, how did I miss those lips? They are so full. And she seems to have this nervous habit of licking them, sometimes slowly sweeping her tongue across the entire breadth of either the upper or lower lip, and other times just darting the end out to moisten one of the sides of her mouth. She projects sensuality. Nothing about her is overtly sexy. I doubt she even thinks of herself in those terms anyway. Nothing about her gives the appearance of any vanity. No, sensuous is the best word to describe her.

Her friend leans across the small table and whispers something to her. She turns her head slightly, meets her eyes, and kisses her companion directly on the lips. There's no hesitation, no darting of her eyes around to see if anyone is watching. So, it seems they are more than friends or just traveling partners. Yes, that makes sense. After all, this resort is billed as a lover's getaway, with very few guests and bungalows a good distance from each other. Lots of privacy with few distractions. Lots of wait staffs who are rarely seen and who are trained to see even less. There's no boardwalk with rides or carney games, no one spinning cotton candy. Hell, there's only one nightclub. It you're looking for a lot of action, you have to go to the other side of the island with all the budget travelers.

To the casual observer they would seem to be nothing more than friends. But I used to be a real journalist; schooled in the art of observation. I could put the pieces of the puzzle together with the best of them. But somewhere along the line the five double-u's got sidetracked. The who, what, where, when, and why of a hard news story instead became about how much and the different levels of luxury that money could buy. So, now I have my answer. They have come here to escape from prying eyes in their every day life. I wonder if they live together or put up the front of being "just friends" back home. Do they share a home or keep up separate residences for appearance sake? Do they share the same profession? They are intriguing.

The waiter brings me another Bloody Mary. Is that number three or four? Ooh, this is fun watching these two women, much more so than writing this stupid travelogue piece. Oh, hell, I've got to get this sent off now. Okay, Mister Editor, here it comes. There, that's done. Another piece of copy completed. One more hidden place for the hoity-toity and high-falutin to get away from it all. But I've done my duty, so now back to my reward.

They have ordered another drink while I was busy spell checking, attaching, and sending. I check my watch to find that my flight off this tropical isle will be leaving in about forty-five minutes, but I'll need to get to the gate to load in about fifteen minutes. First class has its privileges.

I see the redhead take a quick peek at her watch; she appears to be advising her friend of their time schedule. I check my ticket and itinerary. After I get back home I'll have close to a week off before jetting off to the South Pacific. Time enough to do the laundry, tidy up around the apartment, see a few friends, and then take off again. Just this past half-year alone I've added seventy-five thousand frequent flyer miles to my coffer. Funny really, all those damned redeemable miles sitting there and all I want to do on my vacation is stay home. Oh, well, looks like I'll be giving out trips to my family and friends again this Christmas; but they seem to enjoy the trips more than any box of macadamia nuts or exotic souvenirs I could give them.

Oops, time to go. I wave for the waiter to bring me the tally of damages. I sign the slip, rip off my copy for the old expense report, and leave a big tip. That's a nice advantage of having everything paid for, I can afford to be very generous with my gratuities. No doubt service workers worldwide love me.

While slipping my ticket into my jacket pocket, I notice that the two women are gathering up their belongings. I postpone my departure to watch them. The redhead is signing her credit card slip while the dark-haired woman stands and waits.

When the redhead rises from the booth, she takes her friend's hand and gives it a squeeze. It is such an intimate gesture, I feel I should look away, but don't. The taller woman leans over slightly and they kiss briefly. Nothing passionate, but at the same time the emotion it conveys is astounding. I envy them. They exchange smiles and then head toward the terminal hand in hand.

I wonder if they are on my flight. Probably not, this is a big island and there are lots of simultaneous boardings. People heading all directions, back home to L.A. and New York and Dallas. Besides, what would be the odds that we'd be on the same flight back to D.C.? Oh, well, it was a fun little diversion while it lasted.

THE END

FEEDBACK? I'D LOVE TO HEAR FROM YOU. X-File_Addict@msn.com



Title: Fear of Flying
Author: ScullyFu
Email: X-File_Addict@msn.com
Posted: 9/17/00
Archives: Spookies, Gossamer, Ephemeral are okay. Others, please ask. Spoilers: Not a one. Can you believe it? Rating: NC-17
Classification: ScullySlash. Scully POV. Disclaimer: They're not mine. CC, 1013 and Fox have the sole rights to their existence. Dammit! A special thanks goes to Erica Jong, an early explorer of women's sexuality. Summary: Mel makes Dana an offer she can refuse and one she can't. Note: This is set in the Beach Blanket Bingo Universe. It is not necessary for you to have read the first two installments, this can easily stand alone. But a little background never hurts, and since they are both vignettes, if you want to read them to get caught up, go here: http://scullyfu.populli.net/

When I called Mel from the hospital to let her know I was all right she was pissed beyond words. I suppose being woken from a sound sleep at three in the morning may have been a factor, but I truly believe her anger was merely acting as a mask for the fear. She hates it when I go on night surveillance. It scares her. She says bad things can happen after dark. I try to reassure her, tell her that bad things can happen in broad daylight as well, but she counters that at least you might have a chance to see the bad guy coming when the sun is out. I can't argue with that logic.

Mulder was out of the room when I called to tell her that he would take me home, but she insisted on coming to get me.

"Mel, really, you don't need to come out at this hour. Mul--"

"I said I would be there in fifteen minutes."

She rushed into the emergency waiting room area wearing a pair of sweats, a sweatshirt with her pajama sleeves peeking out at the wrists, tennis shoes with no socks, and her hair pulled back into a rough approximation of a ponytail.

Mulder had finally figured out a couple months ago that I'd been seeing someone, but I refused to tell him any of the particulars. So when Mel appeared he put two and two together. I mean, other than your mother, who else besides a lover would schlep to a hospital in the middle of the night if they didn't have to? Mulder looked at me, I looked at Mulder. In that split second his eyes told me that he understood exactly the dynamic of my relationship with this whirlwind that had just blown in.

Mulder and Mel exchanged pleasantries as I re-introduced them to each other. She told him thanks for staying with me and he left. After looking me over to see that I still had all my limbs, we exchanged a hug; we both exhaled with relief that the other was there. I could physically feel my body relax as she held me.

Mel all but slammed the car door as she settled in behind the wheel. "We're outta here. Tell Skinner or whoever that you're taking two weeks off, I'm getting you away from this madness." She refused to listen to or be swayed by any of my usual arguments about being fine and needing to work. Melanie is not Mulder.

"It's not going to work this time. I know you love your job, Dana, but it's just plain nuts to put yourself on the line every single day. You deserve a break and I can use one, too. This past week has been hell for me with you gone every night. I sit up and wait for you to come home. Dreading the call. My muscles seize up from the time you leave till I hear your key in the door." She looked over at me and took my hand as we waited for the light to change. "I'll be damned if I'm going to lose you this way." Then she smiled so tenderly that I just couldn't refuse her.

Looking over at her now, on the plane home from the island, I realize how much I've missed by years of self-denial. But all things happen in their own time and if I want to get all metaphysical, I could say that Melanie happened now because I'm in a space that allows me to be open to her.

She senses my periodic sideways glances, looks up from her book and smiles. Her dark eyes twinkle. I take her hand and twine our fingers together.

"You okay?" she asks, placing the tasseled bookmark between the pages and closing her book.

"Yep. Just a little sad about having to leave."

Turning towards me, she says, "We can always go back. Maybe if I ask real nice the pilot will turn this baby around."

I can't help myself and laugh out loud. "Yeah, sure, like that'll work."

"I can be quite persuasive when I want to be. Charming is the word, I believe."

"Well you are both of those, but somehow I don't think the pilot would succumb to your charms up here at thirty-five thousand feet."

She gets a devilish look in her eye. "Would you?"

"Would I what?"

"You know, succumb to my charms?"

When I don't speak, she adds, "Up here, at thirty-five thousand feet."

"Surely you're not going to suggest some sort of mile high club antics in the bathroom."

"Why not?" she asks, reaching for my other hand.

"Because those bathrooms are so small there's barely enough room to have sex with myself in there." I can't believe I just said that. I know I must be blushing.

She throws her head back against the seat and laughs. "Dana, sometimes you come out with the craziest things."

She returns to her book and I turn to look at the ocean from my window seat. It's hard to tell anything about it from up here. It appears calm, but it could just as easily be choppy or rolling with giant swells. There are big fluffy white clouds and I remember how on summer days as children Melissa and I would lie on our backs on the grass and try to make castles and whales out of them. More often than not, Bill and Charlie would douse us with buckets of cold water; mom would come running out of the house yelling at us to stop screeching and chase the boys with a rolled up paper. They'd take off running down the street; I don't think she ever caught them, but it was funny to watch all the same.

The first class cabin is only about half full, unlike the trip down when there wasn't an unoccupied seat. We decided to treat ourselves and fly first class. I'm glad we did, it's a nice change from bumping elbows with strangers in coach. Our closest fellow passenger is a familiar looking woman in the aisle across from us and back a row. She appears to be traveling alone. I stop to think of where I may have seen her, but can't quite nail it down. No doubt I saw her somewhere on the island. Doesn't really matter, it's just one of those niggling things that eats at me.

I close my eyes until the flight attendant brings us our lunch. The food up here isn't that much better than what they serve in coach. When you get right down to it airplane food is airplane food. It's all pre-fabbed and nuked. I could be wrong, but the drinks do seem a little stronger up here. Maybe it's just that I've had more to drink than when Mulder and I fly. Two drinks in the bar before we boarded and then another two on the plane have placed me well over my limit. But what the heck, technically I am still on vacation, at least for another couple of days.

So when Mel asks if I want another drink I nod in the affirmative. We're not going to be driving home; we're taking the blue shuttle service and they'll take us right to the house. No fuss, no muss, no long-term parking charges.

Suddenly I feel exhausted. For having just spent the last week doing nothing but lounging around the beach all day and sleeping late, I'm beat. A week of sun and surf, lovely healthy food, and lots of loving, you'd think I'd be rested and ready to get back to the grind. But I think the exhaustion is more a symptom of not wanting to go back down into the dungeon again. A dungeon, by definition, is a dark place and the basement of the Hoover Building is no exception. A few street level windows bring in some natural light, but there's no substitute for the healing properties of mass quantities of the real thing.

And then there's Melanie. This last week with her has been nothing short of glorious. I'm glad she refused to let me off the hook. To be honest, I was already planning on taking some time off and my protests to the contrary I loved that she was being so protective. Besides, it gave us some much-needed time together. I've never been so happy, so contented. I'm worried though. Worried what will happen next. It was easy being together openly on the island, there's a freedom in anonymity; but back in the city we will need to be more careful. People know us there and we have careers to protect. Although Mel is out to some people, I'm not. Hell, I didn't ever expect to have a relationship with another woman. Mel is the first. And if all goes well, my last.

"I'll be right back," she says, rising. I look up at her and am struck once again by her lovely and strong athletic body, tanned beyond belief; she has her silky dark hair pulled back in a loose ponytail. She is sexy and smart to boot. She owns a computer consulting company that allows her some leeway for spontaneous travel.

My eyes are closed and she's back before I realize it. I hear the overhead storage compartment open. "What are you doing?" I ask.

"Getting a blanket and pillow, want one?"

"Yes, thanks." She tosses them to me and then sits back down.

"Tired?"

"Not really, maybe just a bit of a chill. All this sitting still doesn't allow for much circulation," I say, adjusting the pillow behind my head. Mel helps to spread the blanket over me, tucking it around my shoulders and draping it over my legs.

"Better?" she asks, raising the armrest that separates us.

"Mmm."

She turns towards me, bending her knees and putting them up on the seat between us. Throwing the blanket over herself, she lays her face against her pillow. We can't be more than a foot apart.

"I bet I could get you warm in a hurry." She speaks softly, her warm breath floating over me like a gentle breeze.

"I bet you could," I say, smiling.

She brings her hands out from underneath her blanket and slides them under mine. "Mel, what are you doing?"

"I'm going to help get you warm."

"You must be joking."

"Must I?"

Her hands have found mine and she is running one hand up and down my arm. Despite the sudden goose bumps, I am getting warm.

"I checked out the bathroom and you were right about there not being enough room in there to have sex, so..." Her voice trails off, but she leaves no doubt as to what she is suggesting.

"We can't, not here in our seats for heaven's sake."

"Why not? There's no one around and if anyone does look over they'll just see us covered with blankets. They'll never suspect as long as you're quiet and don't do any of those famous power moans of yours." She's grinning from ear to ear, obviously relishing the prospect of getting me off here on the plane.

"A bit of an exhibitionist, aren't you? First on the beach, now here." The way her hand is moving over my breasts is forcing me to re-think my reluctance.

"I don't recall you telling me to stop on the beach," she says, continuing to stroke and squeeze me under the blanket. I gasp. "Shhh."

She slides her hand up under my tank top and pushes up my sports bra. It all happens in less than thirty seconds and suddenly she pinches one of my nipples. Oh, God, the shivers that sends throughout my body, the electricity courses down to and out my toes. Then she pinches and tugs on the other one. Same reaction, only now I have to swallow hard to stop from crying out.

"You're being very quiet, that's good because otherwise I'd have to stop." She hesitates. "You don't want me to stop, do you, Dana?"

She knows I don't, but I shake my head anyway. She leans in closer and whispers, "I want to kiss you so badly." She watches my face to see my reaction.

It must have "me, too" written all over it because then she adds, "I want to suck on your lips and run my tongue across them." I think my temperature just spiked up about seventeen degrees.

"Feeling warmer?" she asks. Her other hand has somehow found its way behind me. I can feel her fingers fumbling with the waistband of my shorts.

"Uh huh," I grunt, relying on caveman language, it's all I can manage. I have no doubt that my cheeks are flushed, can't she tell?

Her voice is so low I can barely make out what she says except for "right here, right now", but the look in her eye is unmistakable.

"Unzip you shorts." My eyes must register my surprise. "Go ahead, unzip them."

"Mel," I whisper.

She looks around. "It's all right. Just be quiet."

I hesitate. This is crazy. I've never done anything like this. "What if someone sees?"

"No one's looking." Her hand is stroking the inside of my thighs and I'm all atingle.

"What if the flight attendant comes around again?"

"They're back in the galley visiting, on a break or something." She blows seductively into my ear. She's making it very hard to breathe, let alone think up excuses.

"What if--"

"Dana," she says, holding me with her gaze. "If you want me to stop, just say so."

Her hands have stopped teasing my body. The sensations have ceased; I want them back. I gather up my nerves and unbutton and unzip my shorts. Those four drinks have really lowered my inhibitions.

"God, Dana, you are a wild one. Remember, be quiet." I nod, practicing my new language of silence.

She slides her hand down my stomach and into my panties. Oh, Holy Mother. I'm terrified and excited all at the same time. Then I feel her hand that was behind my back.

"Sit up a little bit." I do as instructed and am rewarded with two fingers thrust quickly inside me. I sit back down, on her hand, forcing her deeper inside me.

I have to bite my lip to keep from moaning out loud. My body is tense with restraint. Dear Lord, this has to be a sin. I want to cry out as she rubs my clit, but I don't. I'm quiet.

Mel leans over to me. "When we get home it'll be my tongue inside you." The sound of her voice and the promises she's purring are making it extremely difficult to remain mute. "I want to taste what I do to you."

"Now," I mouth silently. I can feel my muscles clamping around her fingers inside me. I clutch her hand that is stroking my clit. "Now." OhGodohGodohGod. I've got to do something or I will scream. I bite down on the pillow to avoid chewing through my tongue.

She speeds up her movements, both inside and outside of me, and I fight to keep my body from lurching and kicking the seat in front of me. The last thing I want to do is attract attention with any sudden movements. Out of the corner of my eye, between our seats, I notice the woman across the aisle watching us, me. It hits me. The bar, she was in the bar and I felt that she was watching me then, too. I'm just being paranoid. It's the guilt and embarrassment of what we're doing that's making me think she's watching. She can't see a thing and I was quiet. Even when I wanted to scream, I didn't.

After my muscles stop pulsing, Mel says, "Dana, I'd gladly stay like this the rest of the flight, but my hand is going to sleep. Lift up a bit." I do, but I don't want to. "Thanks." She smiles and gives my breasts one last squeeze. They're tender, but she's gentle. She helps me pull my bra back down. I zip up my pants. It's more difficult than one would think to do these things under a blanket without drawing unwanted attention.

I give myself a couple minutes to calm down. "It's a good thing I don't smoke," I say.

"How so?"

"Cause I'd sure as hell need one right about now and there's no smoking on airplanes." We grin like stupid fools at one another.

"I need to go to the bathroom." Mel gets up to let me out and I see the woman watching me again. Does she know? Can she see it in my eyes? I quickly look away.

When I return the blankets and pillows are back in the overhead and Mel has ordered us each another drink. The woman smiles knowingly at me. Jesus. What a fool I've made of myself. And for what? Stupid question. Was it worth it? Oh, hell, yes.

"So, warmed up now?" Mel stares at me and moves over, so I take the aisle seat.

"That woman saw us."

"What are you talking about? What woman?" She moves her vision past me.

"Don't look." I pause as she settles back into her seat. "The woman across the aisle and back a row."

"You're imagining things. She didn't see a thing. She couldn't from where she's sitting." She flashes her 'trust me' smile and I feel myself relax, for a moment.

"But you didn't see the way she looked at me when I got up."

"Dana."

"Or, or the 'I know what you did' smile she gave me when I came back."

"I really don't think so, but even if she did, so what?"

"So what?" I fight to keep my voice low and under control.

Mel takes a casual sip of her drink. "Yes, so what? We didn't do anything wrong. Besides, it's not like we're ever going to see her again."

"I guess you're right. I've never done anything like that and well, I think my nerves are a little jangled."

"Just a little? I must be slipping," she says, grinning.

"Don't tease me, Mel."

"Hell, I bet she probably liked it. Not as much as we did, but..." she lets her voice trail off.

I think my jaw must be hanging open. I can't quite process what I'm hearing.

"Look, Dana, everyone's got a bit of a voyeur in them."

"I don't know if that is a viable assessment."

"Oh, no?"

"No," I protest.

"Have you ever watched the Indy 500?"

"Yes, a couple times with my dad, but I don't see--"

"Why do you think most people watch those things? Surely, it's not to sit for hours on end watching cars go in circles. Secretly everyone is waiting for the crash, the big excitement." She pauses. "I can see you're still not convinced. Have you ever driven past a wreck on the freeway and slowed down to look?"

"Yes."

"Well, it's the same thing. People are voyeurs. It doesn't have to have a bad connotation. We like to look at people and what they're doing, that's all."

"I guess that's a plausible hypothesis."

She snorts. "Yeah, I guess it is."

"Are you going to stay over tonight?" I ask.

"I thought I made my intentions on that subject quite clear about fifteen minutes ago or maybe you just weren't focusing on what I was saying."

"Um, I was a little preoccupied."

"Dana, do you know how happy you make me?"

"If it's half as happy as you make me--" I stop mid-sentence, aware that she is touching my knee. Searching, I find my answer in the dark eyes that openly declare what is in her heart. We sit quietly for a moment just being together, content in our happiness.

"Have you thought about what you're going to do when we get back?"

I'm a little confused by the question. "What do you mean?"

"I mean, have you given any more thought to my job offer?"

"Oh, that." Shit, that didn't come out right. Mel has been trying to recruit me for her firm practically from the first time we met.

That was about six months ago, and although I turned her down, she still asks me periodically. For whatever reason, she's chosen this to be one of the times.

"Can we talk about this after we get home, please?"

"Sure," she says, picking up her book and burying her nose in it.

Crap. What's wrong? Just because I don't want to discuss this right now, she gets in a snit. Great.

We sit in silence for a bit. She has a will of steel that puts mine to shame. I know her, she will not crack. I'm the one who's going to have to say something.

"Mel."

Zippo. "Mel, what's wrong?" She lets out a heavy sigh.

"Dammit, Mel, what did I do?" I think back to my earlier, 'oh, that' remark. It was insensitive and probably the catalyst.

"Not a thing, Dana."

"Then why are you acting like I have?"

She shuts her book. "I guess I'm just disappointed, again."

She fiddles with the tassel of her bookmark. I remain quiet and wait for her to continue.

"Your hesitancy to even discuss it can only mean that I'm going to be shot down again."

How can I make this better? I don't want this to be the end of our vacation. "May I make a suggestion?"

She nods slightly. "Believe me when I say that I have not stopped giving your very generous offer consideration." The fact is that after this latest surveillance episode I've been weighing over the pros and cons of her offer again.

"Please just let me come to you if I change my mind? My work on the X-Files is still important to me and as wonderful as your offer is, at this time I can't accept it."

She says nothing, but again nods. Her face shows her disappointment, but her eyes reveal a return to hopefulness. I reach over and touch her face; she forces a small smile and kisses my palm.

"Sorry."

"No need to apologize. I know what it's like to want something badly and think you'll never get it."

"Yeah?"

"Yeah." I smile to reassure her, but decide not to reveal the secret that darkened my heart on many occasions was the fear of never being with her.

The pilot chooses this moment to announce our impending descent. We face forward, return our seats to the upright position, and buckle our lap belts. I reach out and take her hand.

"Which is worse for you, take-off or landing?" she asks, seemingly ready to put the tiff behind us.

"I don't know, they're about even, I think."

The plane starts down. "Breathe, Dana." I didn't know I wasn't.

"Look, you can see the city lights, just a few more minutes. Hang on."

The squeal of the tires gripping the tarmac is always a relief. Now I can relax. Now I can breathe easily.

"Okay?"

"Yep." I turn and give her a smile to show her I'm fine.

"Ready to go home?"

"Definitely. I'm glad we took the shuttle. After all the drinks we've had neither of us should be behind a wheel. Besides, I'm tired."

"Me too. Why does alcohol make me so tired?"

I start to speak, but she cuts me off. "It was rhetorical. As much as I love to hear your scientific explanations for everything, I think I can live without it this time." She squeezes my hand reassuringly.

I smile at her teasing. "Let's go," I say, rising and flipping open the overhead luggage compartment. "Don't forget your book on the floor."

We take our carry-ons and head to the luggage carousel to collect our suitcases. We limited ourselves to one bag each, figuring we wouldn't need much for a week at a beach resort. I spy the woman from the plane at the opposite end of the carousel. She's smiling at us. I nudge Mel and tilt my head a bit towards the woman. Mel doesn't miss a beat before smiling at her and putting her arm around me. The woman's bag arrives before ours; she grabs it, and heads out of the terminal.

We don't have long to wait and are soon heading out to the shuttle bus area. Fifteen minutes later we're on our way home.

THE END

FEEDBACK? I WOULD LOVE TO HEAR FROM YOU! X-File_Addict@msn.com



Title: First Contact
Author: ScullyFu
Email: X-File_Addict@msn.com
Posted: 11/4/00
Archives: Spookies, Gossamer, Ephemeral are okay. Others, please ask. Spoilers: There are a couple of minor mentions in passing. Rating: NC-17
Classification: ScullySlash. Scully POV. Summary: I'm curious. Just how did Dana and Mel meet? Disclaimer: They're not mine. CC, 1013 and Fox have the sole rights to their existence. Dammit! Special thanks to Meredith for her generous beta services. Her insights were invaluable. Believe me, this story wouldn't be the same without her. Thanks, chica. Note: This is the prequel to the other stories set in the Beach Blanket Bingo Universe. It is not necessary for you to have read the first three installments since this can easily standalone. But a little background never hurts, and they're short, so if you want to read them to get caught up, go here: http://scullyfu.populli.net/

It's Friday night and it's been raining all day with no let up. Driving home from work, there were three fender benders due to a sudden hailstorm and I'm thankful just to get home in one piece. I treat myself to a long relaxing soak and now I'm cozy and warm in my pajamas, sitting cross-legged on the couch watching the flickering flames, a glass of wine on the table before me.

I pick up the book I've started to read on numerous occasions this past week. After a few pages, I'm staring, my mind wandering. I can't do much of anything these days without having my thoughts being overtaken by memories of her and our time together. It doesn't matter what I'm doing. It happens at work, while driving, shopping, or watching television.

But late night is definitely the worst. Then there are no distractions. Lately, after years of sleeping alone, my bed seems too large. I've always been a solitary person, self-reliant, needing few people in my life. The difference is that now, at this point in my life, I'm willing to admit, at least to myself, that I have been lonely for a long time.

But, this, this is a new experience for me. My previous bed partners have been male. If I ever had sexual thoughts about another woman, I buried them before allowing them to surface. I'm good at hiding my feelings, especially from myself.

The fact that I am attracted to a woman is not as much a shock to my system as I thought it would be; that is, had I ever given it any thought. Thinking back on my school days and formative years, I realize that I have been with men because it was the accepted route, the norm. It's not that being with men was unpleasant or repugnant, it just was not fulfilling in a deep soulful way.

I know that my past behaviors regarding relationships would lead many to wonder about my sanity right about now. Hell, I've been doing the same thing ever since I realized and admitted to myself how I feel about this woman.

I was raised in a traditional home with a loving mother and father, and in a church that expounds the virtues of marriage and children. Most everyone goes along with the program. We're told it's what God wants us to do. Few people question it.

I haven't always agreed with the dogma of my religion. It's no secret that I've had doubts and even left the Church for a number of years. At best, my belief in it remains tenuous. As a scientist, it's been difficult for me to blindly adhere to some of the Church's teachings. I've always believed in the spirit of the Church and, rightly or wrongly, I disregard those teachings that don't pass my personal litmus test for acceptability. Rules regarding pre-marital sex, birth control, and abortion have always been troublesome for me to embrace. Most of my disagreements with the Church have to do with its view of women in general and, specifically, a woman's right to determine what to do with her own body. And now I'm being forced to take a much closer and personal look at the Church's policy on homosexuality.

I put down my book; it's useless to continue. My full attention is on Mel, again. I can't even count how many times I've replayed how we met. I know I'm doing it again, but I can't help it. It makes me happy to think of her.

Skinner, God bless him, had sent me to a three-day seminar to assess the new software the Bureau was thinking of purchasing. The directive came down that all middle and upper management was to read the glossy brochures and go to the seminar. Since he had a bad cold and couldn't fly, Skinner sent me to Seattle in his stead.

As luck, or as Mulder would say, fate would have it, Melanie was there. There were very few women in attendance and we were the youngest of those, so we just sort of naturally migrated towards each other. After the first half-day session Mel suggested we have dinner. She was intelligent and friendly and I didn't want to eat alone in my room, so I agreed. To my surprise, within an hour of freshening up we were on the elevator headed to the top of the Space Needle.

As the Seattle skyline stretched out all around us, and Puget Sound glistened with the setting sun, we talked over dinner and drinks of our jobs and what led us to embark on our separate career paths. The evening passed pleasantly and when the check arrived, Mel picked it up, insisting she needed the tax write-off. After strolling around the Seattle Center grounds, we rode the Monorail back downtown, and since it was only around ten, we decided to have a nightcap in the hotel bar. Before we knew it, it was midnight. We said our goodnights and arranged to meet for breakfast before the morning sessions.

By the time the seminar concluded on the third day, she and I had spent nearly every waking minute together attending assorted training classes; we searched each other out at breaks and took our meals together. Mel had told me she lived in Boston so I knew seeing her again soon was not entirely out of the realm of possibility. Not having a lot of women friends, I was anxious to keep contact with her. I guess she felt the same way because she suggested that we juggle our airline schedules and fly back together. By the time we arrived at Logan Airport in Boston, we had exchanged home and work numbers as well as email addresses. With an hour layover before my shuttle up to Dulles, we went into the airport lounge for a coffee.

As soon as we were settled in our booth with our coffees, Mel announced, "I think you and I would be good together."

That certainly got my attention, and I admit to having been more than a little curious. It was obvious from her statement that she had been thinking about me, but in what respect? I recovered and managed to respond with, "Excuse me?"

"I think you and I would be good together," she repeated.

"What do you mean?"

"Look, Dana, I won't pull any punches. I've been trying to crack the old boys' network at the FBI to get a consulting contract for this new software. Honestly, it wouldn't hurt my credibility if I could bring you in on my next presentation to them. After this seminar you're as familiar with the software as any of those suits and bean counters claim to be. I could work with you and get you proficient in no time. You know your way around the Bureau and what their needs are. You'd be a tremendous asset to my team. You're an insider, Dana; one of the FBI's own. You'd be fantastic with the pre-emptive strike, heading off all their objections before they even know they have them. I don't know what you earn, but if you're half as sharp as I think you are, I could put you in six figures right away."

I nearly spit out my coffee. "Six figures?"

"That's only to start. I have a large HMO and a pharmaceutical company on the hook, and with your credentials, I could blow all the competition out of the water. What do you say?"

Stunned, I sat silent for a few moments. Jesus, I thought, six figures, to start. What else could I say, but that I was extremely flattered?

"And?" Mel seemed nervous, fidgeting with her napkin.

"And, I think it's something I really need to contemplate. I couldn't possibly give you an answer right now." The thought that computer consultants probably don't make many impromptu emergency room visits crossed my mind.

"Oh, of course, I didn't expect an immediate answer, I just wanted to put all my cards on the table. I'm just happy that you're even considering it. Thank you."

"Are you kidding? Thank you. And I promise that I will give it some serious thought."

She walked me to my terminal. We smiled and gave each other a quick hug before I headed to the tunnel. The flight home was uneventful, other than I couldn't stop thinking about Mel and her offer.

It's been well over a week since the software seminar and I haven't heard from her. I am perplexed. I thought that we had developed a kernel of a friendship. I think I've been pouting. My disappointment must be obvious; even Mulder asked me what was wrong.

I gave him my pat answer of being fine. Of course, it was a lie. We both know it, but it's part of the distance game we play. What is happening? Why hasn't she called me? She seemed so sincere, so interested. Was she just blowing smoke when she offered me a position at her firm? I don't think so. Maybe after she thought it over, she changed her mind and felt it was easier just to ignore me in hopes that I'd go away.

Well, I refuse to be dismissed. I check my watch. It's too late to call her tonight. Tomorrow will have to do.

I didn't sleep well. I've been up since just after six killing time till now. I've done my laundry, mopped my kitchen floor, dusted, the whole nine yards. Ten o'clock seems like a reasonably safe time to call. She's probably up by now. I swallow my anger and fear that festered as I tossed and turned restlessly. Placing the call, I take a few deep breaths as the phone rings. After the fourth one I am expecting the message machine to pick up when the phone clicks.

"Hello?"

"Hello? Melanie?"

"Who's calling, please?"

"This is Dana, Dana Scully." I barely finish my name before she responds.

"Oh, hi, Dana, it's me. How have you been?"

Is she serious? I've been living the last week on pins and needles, a bundle of uncertainty -- that's how I've been. But, of course, I reply with my patented, "I'm fine." I'm so damned predictable.

"It's good to hear your voice. I've been meaning to call you, but I've been swamped working on a new angle for my next presentation."

Her explanation sounds reasonable. "Oh." That's the sum total of my brilliant repartee.

"Is something wrong, Dana?"

"No, no, nothing."

"Are you sure? You sound distant."

"Um, no. I, I just thought I heard someone at my door. Sorry."

"So to what do I owe the pleasure of this call?"

She seems happy to hear from me. "Just thought I'd touch base. We haven't spoken since we got back."

"I thought I explained that." She hesitates. "You don't think I'm avoiding you, do you?"

"No, no," I stammer, "it never crossed my mind." Mulder's right, I'm a bad liar.

"Okay." She apparently decides to let me off the hook. "So what do you want to talk about?"

Do I dare say that I've missed her, can't stop thinking about her, and just wanted to hear her voice? Of course not. Not me. "I wanted to tell you that I've thought about your job offer." Well, at least that's true.

"You have? That's promising," she says, her voice hopeful.

"And as enticing as it sounds, I really can't accept."

"Oh." It's her turn to go monosyllabic. She sounds disappointed.

The line goes silent for a bit, neither of us saying a word.

"And there's nothing I can say or do?"

"I'm afraid not."

"Don't mind if I keep asking, do you?" The tone of her voice lightens considerably.

Keep asking? That implies that she wants to keep in touch. "No, keep asking. Who knows, maybe one day I'll surprise you and say yes." I kind of chuckle.

"Hey, can you fly up here?"

"When?"

"Today. Now. I'm on a self-imposed work-free weekend. No need for a hotel, I've got plenty of room here."

My mind is racing. I can feel excuses starting to take form. Before I can talk myself out of it, I blurt out, "Sure."

"Great. Hang on. I'll be right back." Where's she going? After a few minutes, she returns.

"I just sent you the link for the United Airlines site. There are still seats available on the early afternoon flights out and a mid-evening flight back tomorrow. Sound do-able?"

I'm encouraged by her enthusiasm and eagerness and the fact that she has my email address so handy. "Yes. Sounds perfect. I'll just throw together an overnight bag and head out." I can feel myself getting caught up in the excitement of seeing her. "Here comes your email. I'm looking at the schedule. Okay, I'll catch the twelve-thirty flight. If anything changes, I'll call. Otherwise, I'll see you around two."

"I'll be there."

Again, silence. It's a bit awkward.

"Um, do I need to bring anything special?"

"Nope. Casual is fine. Just come on up."

"See you soon," I say, hanging up.

I stand frozen for a moment; my hand still wrapped around the phone. Oh Lord, what am I thinking? Here I am literally rushing off to spend a weekend with a woman I barely know. I tell myself to relax; it's just a friendly visit. Nothing more than a chance to catch up and touch base with a new acquaintance.

I rush around my bedroom, grabbing a few last-minute things to throw in my overnight case. One advantage of always having a bag ready is the ability to pick up and leave at a moment's notice. Unlike most of my sudden departures, in this instance, it's a happy occasion.

Traffic to Dulles is light. Yesterday's bad storm has blown itself out and the sun is shining. I leave my car in the short-term parking lot and head for the terminal. While making a beeline for the United desk I pull out my credit card. The transaction is complete and I still have fifteen minutes before I need to board. Now I'm wondering if this is really such a good idea. Calm down, I tell myself, you're just nervous.

I decide to buy a magazine; I need something to take my mind off what I'm doing. I haven't had my caffeine fix today and it shows. I'm jittery. I get myself a triple grande, non-fat mocha, no whipped cream and head back to the terminal.

My flight is announced for boarding. I'm ready. I have what's left of my mocha in hand and my magazine shoved into my bag. To the casual observer I'm the perfect example of a seasoned flier. Ho-hum. If they only knew every take-off and landing is tantamount to a death sentence for me.

I settle into my seat. Fortunately there's no one next to me. That means no one watching as I put a death grip on the armrests; no one to stare as my knuckles turn white.

Once the plane levels off, I'm able to relax some, although I still feel a bit unsettled. I think it has less to do with the flight than the circumstances. I'm not usually so impulsive. I like to gather facts, weigh options, reach conclusions in a logical fashion. It's what I do; it's my modus operandi. So why the hell am I flying to Boston on a whim on a Saturday afternoon?

I check my outfit, suddenly feeling very self-conscious about my clothing choices. She did say casual. So I slid into my jeans and a t-shirt, loafers and my bomber jacket. I tell myself that I look good. Mel hasn't seen me dressed like this. In Seattle, it was professional dress during the seminars and when we went out for the evening, it was less formal, but still upscale. I wonder how she'll be dressed. I hope I'm not too casual for whatever she has planned. My make-up is light, mostly mascara and lipstick. And I've let my hair go natural, so it's curly rather than blown straight.

I have a drink to try to calm down. It's not working. I'd have another, but I need to be in total command of my faculties. The last thing I want is to stagger off the plane. That would make a great impression.

While I've been fretting the plane has been cruising along without regard to my damned insecurities or me. So, it is a surprise when I hear the pilot's announcement that we will be landing in approximately ten minutes. Boston, he says, is a clear, sixty-five degrees with no wind. Sounds like a lovely day in Beantown. I feel comfortable in my choice of clothing.

After we touch down, I wait for the other passengers to deplane. It gives me a few minutes to gather my nerves and do a little deep breathing. I hope Mel is here already. For a moment I consider staying on the plane and going back home. I'm being irrational. Two deep breaths and by sheer force of will I get up.

I grab my bag from the overhead and start towards the door. I look around and notice I'm the last of the Mohicans; except for the flight attendants, everyone else is off the plane.

"There you are! I was beginning to think you'd missed your flight." I follow the voice and see Mel give me a little wave. I watch as her eyes travel up and down my body. Inexplicably, I feel myself shiver. She walks around some plastic-molded chairs and over to me.

"Oh, no. I always wait for everyone else to leave rather than fight my way into the aisle just to stand and wait."

"Good idea. You look great," she says, smiling.

I return the compliment. And it's true. She is lovely, dressed in snug-fitting jeans; long-sleeved t-shirt topped with an unzipped polar fleece vest, and tennis shoes. Her dark shoulder-length hair is pulled back into a ponytail; her sunglasses positioned on top of her head. She looks very fresh, not much make-up, just mascara and lipstick, like me.

We grasp each other's hand in greeting. Not a handshake, per se, more like a hand hold. Her hand is warm, mine is cold and I'm afraid a bit clammy.

"You all right?"

"Yes. Why do you ask?"

"You look a little shaky." She takes my bag from me and we start walking. I become conscious of our hands still together and disengage mine from hers.

"The weatherman is predicting thunderstorms today, was it a bumpy flight?"

"Not particularly. Just my usual jitters."

"Well, you're back on terra firma now. So you can relax, right?"

"Right." Relax? I think I'm more nervous now that I'm here.

"Are you hungry? I'm sure they didn't feed you. You think for the prices these people charge they could come up with more than a lousy bag of peanuts."

"Yeah, and they don't even give you that anymore."

"So, do you want to grab a bite to eat? Maybe some chowder?"

"That sounds great. I haven't had a good bowl of chowder for ages," I confess.

We've made our way out of the terminal and into the passenger loading area. "This way," she says, briefly interlocking our arms as we cross the street and head towards the parking structure.

"I'm parked on Level C. Want to take the stairs?" She looks at me and I answer her by grabbing the handrail and starting up.

We're there in a matter of a minute. Since Mel is carrying my bag, I open the door for her.

"Thanks. Now, if no one's stolen the damned car," she says, laughing. She stops, looks around, and for a moment I think maybe someone has. "There it is," she says, pointing. "It's the silver Saab convertible."

I'm impressed. A Saab is not an inexpensive piece of machinery. Her business must be doing well. She opens the trunk and tosses my bag in.

"Okay, food. I'm famished. I was about ready to eat when you called, but decided to wait."

My, this is a luxury car. The leather molds to my body. I buckle my seat belt and sit back. I turn my head slightly to look at Mel. To my surprise, she's looking at me.

"It's lovely out, should I put the top down?"

"Yep."

She reaches into the back seat and grabs us each a baseball cap. "It can get a little breezy," she explains, backing out, the tires squealing as we descend the ramps and out into traffic. Hopping on the freeway, we head towards the water. The wind isn't all that bad, and I feel invigorated from the fresh air.

When we arrive at the docks, Mel parks and sets the car alarm. The sun is shining; it is a glorious day. I'm more relaxed now and feeling good about my decision to come. The server leads us out to the deck and we grab a table by the water. It's warm in the sun, so I take off my jacket and throw it over the back of my chair. Mel pushes up the sleeves of her shirt. Her arms are tanned and strong.

The server is attentive and brings us big chunks of sourdough bread, butter and water before asking for our order. "Two bowls of chowder, please." Mel looks at me. "You did want chowder, right?"

"Right."

"Have a preference for beer?"

"Not really. I'll have whatever you do."

She turns towards the server. "Two Mack and Jacks, please."

"Mack and Jack?"

"Trust me, it's good."

I smile at her. "This is a lovely treat. Thanks for inviting me up."

"Hey, no problem." We look up as the waitress brings our beers. "It's true, you know."

"Pardon me? What's true?"

"That I've been working like a madwoman and not intentionally avoiding you."

"Oh." I flash back to our earlier phone call and hope I didn't come across as wounded or needy.

"I haven't forgotten about you, Dana. Hell, you're not exactly an easy woman to forget." She laughs and I try to smile.

"Quite honestly, meeting you was the highlight of the Seattle trip." She pauses. "I just wish I could talk you into joining my firm."

"Hey, no work weekend, remember?"

"I remember, but if I don't mention work at least once, I can't write off lunch." Her eyes are dancing with mischief. "Okay, I've fulfilled the IRS guidelines, no more shop talk."

The chowder arrives in short order. "This is delicious and the beer is fantastic. I'll have to remember it next time I buy some at home."

We pass time with a quiet visit interrupted by spurts of laughter, finish our meal, order another beer, and savor the late afternoon sunshine.

"So, have anything special you want to do?" she asks.

"Mel, I didn't come to sightsee." I pause. "I came to see you."

Her eyes widen at my disclosure and she seems genuinely surprised. Can't say as I blame her. I'm surprised and I'm the one who said it. It's true, but I still catch myself off guard that I would actually say it. Usually I think things, but rarely say them. Maybe it's the sun and beers making me bold. The movement of my arm gets her attention and she looks down to watch as I reach out and wrap my hand around hers. God, what's gotten into me?

She looks up. "I see." Our eyes are locked.

"I'm sorry," I say, breaking the gaze and releasing her hand. "I'm afraid I miscalculated and spoke out of turn."

"So you wanted to see me, that's what friends do. I'm assuming here that you consider us friends since you flew up here for a visit."

She pauses, waiting for some sort of an acknowledgement, so I nod.

"And, secondly, you didn't make a miscalculation." She smiles warmly.

"I, I didn't?"

"No, you didn't." She reaches across the small table and intertwines our fingers.

"I told you you weren't an easy woman to forget, Dana. I have been thinking about you, and not just in a work capacity."

I'm not sure what I'm supposed to do or say.

"I'm glad you called today. I was going to give you a buzz this weekend, but this worked out soooo much better, don't you think?" She lets out a laugh.

"Want another beer?" She doesn't wait for my answer before signaling to the server in the unspoken language of drinkers everywhere.

She rests back into her captain's chair and smiles at me. She has a lovely warm smile and her eyes seem to twinkle in the fading late afternoon sunlight.

"You look great, Dana."

"You said that already," I say, averting my eyes.

"Well, it warrants saying again." She pauses until I look up. "I've missed you."

I take a moment to process that information.

"You doubt that?"

I shrug and offer a half smile.

"Dana, you are a terrific woman. I enjoyed your company tremendously in Seattle, and I was hoping that we could keep in touch even though I knew you wouldn't accept my job offer."

"How could you know?"

"Well, the way you spoke about your job and your partner told me that you were deeply invested."

"Then why did you ask me to join your firm?"

"I'd have to be insane not to try to get you on board. You have so much going for you; you'd fit right in. I still think you and I would be good together."

She is talking about the job, isn't she? "Thanks."

"I'll keep asking. Like you said, you never know when you might give in to me."

Is she doing that on purpose? I swear she's speaking in code.

The sun has long since set over the water and the wind is picking up a bit. The sky is threatening to cloud up and block the stars. The restaurant has filled up with the evening clientele. I check my watch; amazingly, it's close to eleven o'clock.

"Ready to call it an evening?"

Before I can formulate an answer, she's paid the bill, and we're piling into the car.

I put my hand over hers as she starts to turn over the engine. "Are you okay to drive?"

"Sure. We've been here quite a while, and we ate. I think that ought to counteract all the beers. I'll be fine. My house isn't but ten minutes max."

She's slowly leaning in very close to me. God, I think she's going to kiss me. My heart is thumping. She gives my hand a squeeze and reaches across my body. When she speaks her voice is low, both in volume and pitch.

"Don't forget to buckle up," she says, smiling slowly.

It's a balmy night. There's definitely a storm brewing. The air has taken on a heavy quality, like when a fog rolls in over the ocean. I drank more than I normally would and am feeling no pain. Mel puts a CD in the player. The music is romantic in a jazzy way, the woman's voice soft and sultry with only a piano and bass as accompaniment.

Revving the engine, she pulls out onto the near-deserted highway. True to her word, within ten minutes we're pulling into her driveway. She pops the trunk to grab my bag while I get out of the car.

She comes around and links our arms. When we reach the front door she puts down my bag; unlocking it, she pushes it open and heads over to the stairs where she flips open a small box and disarms the silent alarm.

"Come on in. There's no guard dogs." She's smiling as she picks up my bag and takes it down the hall into what I surmise is the guest bedroom.

Suddenly a yawn sneaks up and out of me. "Sorry. Guess I'm more tired than I thought, must have been all those beers," I hypothesize.

She gives me the ten-cent tour of the downstairs and promises to show me around more tomorrow. She walks me to my room and leaves me to get ready for bed.

I'm just emerging from the bathroom when she knocks on the bedroom door.

"Decent?"

"Yep." I'm buttoning up my pajama top when she walks in. I look down for the buttonhole and see my hardened nipples against the satin material. It's obvious that she notices.

"I brought you some aspirin and a glass of water just to be on the safe side. Do you have everything you need?"

"Yes, thank you."

She turns down the bed for me. "Hop in," she says.

The sheets are a cold against my bare feet, but the down comforter is fluffy and I know it will be no time before I get warm.

"Comfy?" she asks while pulling up the covers. Looming over me, she gently pushes a piece of hair off of my face and tucks it behind my ear. Her hand lingers and I think I can detect a trembling in her fingers. Maybe it's me. She sits on the side of the bed and leans down towards me. My feet are no longer cold. No part of me is. Our eyes are locked. My breathing is shallow. If I lift up a bit I can reach her lips. I want to kiss her. My chest tightens. I part and moisten my lips in invitation.

I purposely keep my voice soft. "Mel." The sound of her name seems to pull her back from wherever she is. She blinks, gets up and leaves without a word. The only sound is the gentle clicking of the door as it closes behind her.

I lay in wonder of what just happened; or more precisely, what didn't. A big sigh escapes from deep within me as I turn onto my side. The bedside clock indicates eleven-fifty. I'm suddenly exhausted, my body feels heavy and my head is threatening to ache. Taking some aspirin with a few large swallows of water, I lay back down. Remembering that I barely got any rest last night, I close my eyes.

I wake up with a start. For a moment I'm disoriented, not sure where I am. The room is pitch black except for the illuminated numbers on the clock. It's four-thirty. I've been asleep for close to five hours. I listen closely, but the house is silent. God, it's hot in here. I throw the comforter off, then the sheet.

Water, I need water. My mouth is like cotton. I'm dehydrated from all the beers. My head has eased up, but there remains a hint of ache behind my eyes. I'm still hot. I get up to open the window then remember the alarm system. I'd hate to trigger it. Unbuttoning my top, I flap it to create a breeze. Better. I take off my bottoms and go stand on the bathroom floor in hopes the cool linoleum on my bare feet will give me some relief. I splash water on my face trying to bring down my elevated body temperature.

Walking back to the bed, I sit down and take two more aspirin. I think I'll lay back down and let the drugs do their thing. At least I hope they'll take away what's left of this headache. I'm sprawled on my back on the bed with my eyes closed, my top still open and no covers. Drifting, drifting, drifting.

I slowly become aware of kitchen noises. Cupboards are being shut, pots and pans are being placed on the stove, the water is turned on and then off again. I hear a mixer whirring. Checking the clock, I see that I fell back asleep for another five hours. Good Lord, I don't usually sleep this much. I realize that I'm starving and nearly sniffing at the air to catch the bacon and coffee aromas.

Lifting up the covers, I button up my top and step back into my bottoms. I brush my teeth and hair before heading out of the bedroom.

Mel doesn't hear me approaching; she's busy making what looks like pancakes. My stomach growls.

"Morning," I say.

She turns around. "Hey, sleepyhead, just in time. Breakfast is ready."

"I just wanted to say good morning before I grabbed a shower."

"Can you wait till after? The food will get cold."

She motions me to the breakfast island and I climb up onto one of the backless stools. Placing a plate of piping hot pancakes in front of me, she slides the softened butter across the tabletop. She turns away and when she returns she has two plates of crisp bacon and eggs over easy in one hand and the coffee pot in her other.

"You do that really well."

"Well, like a lot of women putting themselves through school, I used to do some waitressing. Guess it's a talent you never lose." She smiles and takes a seat next to me.

She's wearing a pair of boxers with a short cotton belly shirt and I can feel her bare leg rubbing up against mine under the table. I don't move away. It's intimate and pleasant and natural.

I nearly woof down my pancakes, interspersed with bites of eggs and bacon; I didn't realize just how hungry I was.

"I can't eat any more," I announce, pushing my plate away. "That was a fantastic breakfast."

"Thanks. I like to cook once in a while. You know how it is, when you're just cooking for one you tend not to. I usually eat a salad or something that doesn't take too much bother." She talks while she clears the dishes.

"More coffee?" The pot is poised over my cup and when I nod she pours. "The paper's over on the table by the couch. Go on over, I'll join you in a minute."

Silently, I take my coffee and settle on the couch. I find the main page and start looking at the headlines. Mel comes out of the kitchen, coffee cup in hand, and sits next to me. Close. She smells good.

"Mel, could you excuse me for about fifteen minutes? I'd really like a shower," I say, standing up.

"I'll be here."

Standing under the spray, I feel revived. Amazing what a little soap and hot water will do. With a towel wrapped around my wet hair, I brush my teeth again and swig some mouthwash. I throw on a pair of shorts and a button up cotton shirt and comb out my hair. After I apply lotion to my entire body I feel human again, ready to face the world and Mel.

I was ready for something to happen last night. The question is do I still or was it just the alcohol? I ponder that for a few moments and decide that while the alcohol may have been a factor, I wanted something to happen then and I still do.

Having no experience with this sort of thing makes it difficult to know how to begin or what exactly to say or do. The best solution I can come up with is just to do whatever feels right at the moment. The thought occurs to me that I may not be the only one to not have any experience in these sorts of circumstances. Great. Talk about the blind leading the blind. Well, if it happens, it happens and we'll just fumble through together. That thought makes me smile.

A few deep breaths and I'm ready to re-join Mel in the front room. As I re-enter, she's sipping her coffee and turning the pages of the paper. She looks up when she sees me.

"You look great in the morning," she says.

"So do you."

Mel pats the cushion inviting me to sit and swivels so that she's facing me, both her knees up on the couch. I mirror her position.

"You're dripping."

I'm frozen in place as her fingers wipe away water that is running down my neck.

"I wasn't aware that you had curly hair until yesterday. Why don't you wear it like that all the time?"

Her fingers have been joined by her thumb, which is steadily stroking my throat. I try to sound casual, but my neck muscles tighten, making it suddenly difficult to speak with any sort of volume.

"Well, I don't think it looks professional, so I blow it straight during the work week and let it dry naturally on the weekends."

She twists some still wet hair around her finger. "I think it's sexy as hell." My stomach clenches with the realization that the something that almost happened last night is about to occur. Using my hair, she pulls me closer to her. I'm nervous and I think I may be trembling ever so slightly.

"Don't be frightened."

"I'm not," I lie.

"Okay." She says it like she doesn't quite believe me.

I pull back. "Mel?"

"Yes." Her thumb is tracing the outline of my ear. God, she's good. I try to control my breathing, forcing myself to keep it slow and steady.

"Um, have you ever done this before?"

"This?"

"You know."

"You want to know if I've been with a woman before?"

I nod.

"Yes." She's inching closer. Her other hand is on my knee. She's squeezing it.

"A lot?" For some reason it seems important.

"Enough to know what I'm doing," she says, smiling. "I'm taking a wild guess here, but this is your first time, right?"

I release a small nervous laugh and shake my head. "Relax, Dana. It's going to be fine."

"I'm afraid I won't know what to do, that I'll, I'll disappoint you."

"Highly unlikely." Her hand slides further up my leg. I grasp her wrist lightly.

She pulls me to her again. I think her lips are going to meet mine, but she moves her head a bit till her mouth is near my ear. I can hear her breathing and feel the moist heat from her mouth puffing against me. She whispers softly, "If you want to stop, just tell me."

She pulls back to search my eyes before leaning back to my ear. "Dana, I want you. Every fiber of my being is screaming for you. May I please kiss you?"

Her declaration of need for me is overwhelming. It's so sweet the way she asks to kiss me. Turning my head till our lips meet, I close my eyes. I want absolutely no distractions. Her lips are soft, so very soft. Our mouths capture each other's quivering moans. Its obvious we've both been waiting for this for a while.

"I didn't think this would ever happen," she says.

I want another kiss. Only this time I want more. I put my hand behind her head and pull her to me. Her lips are parted and waiting. Her eyes are bright, her pupils dilated. She wants me. I dart my tongue into her mouth. She doesn't object so I run it over her lips before re-entering her mouth. It's hot, soft and hot. She tastes like coffee. I wonder if she's thinking that I taste like mint mouthwash.

A hunger I haven't acknowledged for years begins to awaken. Her tongue is velvety and slippery. It feels good here, here with her. She runs her tongue along the length of mine. Oh God, oh God. Then over and under. Sweet Jesus. She's starting all over again. I don't think anyone has ever kissed me like this before. It is completely arousing. I need to catch my breath. My lungs are demanding more oxygen, but I don't want to stop.

Her hand is on my hip, stroking up and down my thigh. I've got to breathe. I'm going to pass out if I don't. I take her head in my hands and pull us apart.

"What?" she asks, panting.

"I need to catch my breath."

She chuckles. "Are you saying that I take your breath away?"

"Yes." I kiss her face, her eyes, her nose, and her chin. This is something I can do and still remain conscious. I caress her throat and neck with baby kisses. She sighs.

We settle against the back of the couch. I have my breath back and kiss her again. My nerves are gone. Feeling confident and relaxed, I deepen the kiss. One of us whimpers. Our heads tilt in all directions, but we never break apart. My hands are in her hair, my fingers examining her scalp.

She's stroking my back, but I can barely feel it. It's more of a perception than awareness of any pressure. I shudder when I think of how it will feel when her hands are in direct contact with my skin.

I've lost all track of time. But if I had to guess, I'd say we've been kissing for nearly a half-hour. There's no sense of urgency, no need to rush. Kissing has never seemed this important before; usually it's been a quick precursor to the main event. But here, with Mel, nothing else seems to matter, only the sensation of her enticing mouth melding with mine. I could do this for hours. It's comforting being here like this, so close with her.

"Dana." She kisses my neck and gently sucks on my skin.

"Ummm?"

"Are you ready?"

Oh dear God. I think all my nerves just re-surfaced. Everything was going so well that I forgot about what was bound to follow. Oh.

"For what?" I ask.

She's standing before I even realize she's moved. She's reaching for me.

"I promised you a tour, remember?"

"Now?" I say, gasping in equal measures of surprise and relief.

She shakes her head and takes my hand. Thank you, Lord. I don't know if I'm ready for anything else right now. I mean I want her, God, do I ever, but I don't want to rush into anything.

She gives me a quick hug and puts her arm around me. The tour is starting.

"You've seen the lower half of the house, so I'll take you upstairs."

Why does that fill me with trepidation? I tell myself to calm down. Where else would she take me? It's the only part I haven't seen yet. It makes sense.

We stop on the landing and she kisses me, nothing intense, just sweet. It's not long before we're continuing up the stairs.

"This is the family room. Well, it would be if I had a family. But since I don't, I christened it the t.v. room. So named because the big screen t.v. takes up most of the floor space. But, hey, you can't watch sports on a twenty-seven-incher now, can you? That would be downright sacrilegious."

We laugh as we continue down the hall. I put my arm around her waist. It feels like the most natural thing in the world to do.

"Bathroom." She pulls me in and just as quickly pushes me out. "Seen one, seen them all," she says.

"My work room. Notice the soft lighting, the warm wood paneling, and tastefully functional, yet utilitarian furniture. Everything meant to put me at ease, so I can work productively."

"Does it work?"

"Mostly. But sometimes I just come in here and sit."

"And do what?"

"Nothing. Just sit."

I glance at her. She seems far away, like she's thinking of something kind of sad. Silent, we hold each other for a few moments.

"Are you okay, Mel?"

She shakes her head. "The tour continues." We walk down the hall. "Linen closet. Don't think there's anything much to see in there," she says as we pass right by it.

"Other spare bedroom." She looks at me. "I know what you're thinking. Why do I need so many bedrooms, right? Well, I like company. I work like a dog sometimes, and when I come up for air I want my friends nearby. It's not unusual for a few people to be here for a week or so when I finish up a big project."

I smile. "And you're in your work mode now?"

"Pretty much. I've been working nearly non-stop since Seattle to get this presentation just how I want it. I'm determined to get that Bureau contract."

"Well, I think you'll do it. You seem to get what you go after." I pause and wonder if she thinks I'm speaking about myself. "I mean, just look at this lovely home. It's so warm and inviting. Your job is obviously satisfying and challenging. You have a lot of friends. And dare I mention how much I envy you your car?"

"I've always been goal-oriented, results are important to me, they validate the efforts. As a bonus, I get to have all this." She sweeps her hands around in an all-encompassing gesture.

"Okay, last stop coming up." We take a dozen steps down the hall and enter what I assume is her bedroom. The room itself is fairly big, maybe twenty by thirty, but gives the appearance of being bigger because of the large bay windows. They are partially hidden by the levolor blinds, which are closed halfway to keep the afternoon sun from shining directly into the room. The window seat is about six feet long and is covered with a lovely chintz print. A few matching pillows are thrown haphazardly on it.

The queen-sized sleigh bed is made from lacquered hardwood with a comforter that looks like the one on the bed in the downstairs guestroom, and the pillows have matching shams. There's an armoire directly opposite the bed. I wonder if there's a t.v. or stereo system tucked away inside.

The floors are highly polished hardwoods covered with area rugs that appear to be Turkish. On the walls are black and white photos of various sizes, beautifully matted in wood frames. The glass looks to be museum quality non-glare, and there are the same small lights you'd find in a museum hanging over and illuminating each picture.

"These are stunning. Are you a photographer?"

"Me? No. A good friend of mine took them. She's a wonderful photographer. She's working now on putting together a show for a gallery. It won't be for a few more months, but maybe you'd like to go with me?"

"I'd like that."

"You can't see everything from the door. Come on." She leads me in and we walk around. She opens a door to reveal a walk-in closet. Inside there is a wall of business suits, one of evening clothes, and the final wall has her casual outfits; an extensive variety of shoes are on trees, placed under the appropriate clothes. Accessories have their own little corner spot wedged in between the business and casual areas. I'm impressed. I appreciate the care and diligence it takes to be so meticulous with a wardrobe.

"I bet your dry cleaning bill puts mine to shame," I say, half-laughing.

"Well, I probably don't have the extra charges you're subjected to for blood stains and bog sludge. Come on."

Mel removes her arm from around my shoulder and holds my hand as she leads me to another door. Opening it up, she guides me in ahead of her. I am in the most beautiful bathroom I've ever seen. In fact, it's almost a shame to call it that. The floor tile is obviously imported; the sink and toilet are definitely special order, all the fixtures are gold, well, not real gold, I'm sure.

To call what is before me a mere tub would be a crime. It is more like something you'd expect to see in an old movie about the Romans in their heyday. It's huge and deep and I can see the jet openings. The porcelain is tinted blue. I imagine it looks like a small pool when it's full of water. The bathroom has the same bay windows as the bedroom giving it an open, airy feeling.

"Is that a sauna?" I ask, staring over at the wooden box.

"Uh huh."

We walk over to it. I open the door. It's a two-person style with facing benches. "It helps me unwind after those all-day meetings. Sometimes I come home all kinked up from dealing with people who just don't get it and this really helps to release all the tension."

"God, what I wouldn't give to have one of these at home."

"You're welcome to use mine whenever you like."

I turn to face her. "Well, the daily commute might be a little rough."

Her arms reach for my waist and I step into her embrace. Here, in her bathroom we join together. Our bodies pressed tightly together, its apparent that neither of us is wearing a bra. My nipples are extremely sensitive, and each movement transmits small electrical charges through them to the rest of my body. We're kissing, not sweetly like on the landing earlier. This has an almost desperate quality to it. Her tongue sliding around mine is driving me wild. I've wrapped my arms around her waist and up her back gripping her shoulders from behind. She slides her hands down from my waist and cups my ass, pulling me closer. I seriously doubt there's one inch of space anywhere between us.

"Dana?"

I say nothing, but tilt my head in a questioning gesture.

"I want to make love to you."

This is it. This is what I've been simultaneously dreading and craving. Why I nearly stayed on the plane and the same reason I didn't. I want this; my body wants this, to be with her, here, now. I'm shivering, damn nerves, I can't seem to stop.

Mel kisses my temple. "If you're not ready, Dana, just say so. I don't want to rush you. It's understandable that you'd be scared."

Nerves. Fear. Frustration. Disappointment. All these things conspire to attack me at once and I feel myself on the verge of tears.

Mel takes my face in her hands and tries to comfort me. "Shh. Shh. It's all right." She uses her thumbs to wipe away the tears that are trickling down my face. "Shh. It's okay." She places a light kiss on each of my eyelids.

I lean into her, my face buried in her shoulder. Mel wraps her arm around my back and uses her other hand to stroke my hair. This is a disaster. I'm a grown woman and I'm behaving like a frightened child.

"Come on," she says, quietly leading us out of the bathroom and towards the bed.

"Mel, I...I can't." My voice is choked with emotion.

"Shh. It's okay. I just want you to get under the covers. You're shaking like a leaf. You need to get warm."

She pulls back the comforter and I climb in. In an attempt to get me warmer, Mel is wrapped around me. But she's stayed on top of the blanket and it's not having any effect. I'm huddled in a fetal position and still shaking badly.

I try willing myself to stop, apparently I'm not listening. I chide myself for losing control. I don't understand it, usually one of these techniques works.

Mel tells me to breathe slowly. Good advice. In no time the shakes start to subside. Thank heaven for small mercies. Mel has not let me out of her grasp, whispering words of encouragement. I'm warming up now.

"What time is it?" I ask, turning around in her arms so that we are face to face.

"About one, why?"

"I need to start thinking about getting to the airport."

"It's still early."

"I have to go to work tomorrow."

"Don't worry, flights run pretty late."

Mel kisses my forehead. I feel the nerves coming back. I close my eyes and force them away. I can feel her gaze. It's intense and piercing. I can't meet it. It will engulf me and not let me escape.

I slowly bring my eyes up to meet hers. They are warm and embracing. Happiness wants to break free, but a hidden sadness won't let it. A subtle melancholy surrounds her. I picked up a glimpse of that when she spoke about just sitting in her workroom. There was something there. I wonder if she'll ever share it with me.

It's her turn to look away. I start to speak, but stop. She looks at me inquisitively, wordlessly urging me to continue.

I clear my throat. "It's just that, well, I'm...I don't have the best track record when it comes to successful relationships."

"Dana, it's okay to be nervous. I was my first time, too; it would seem to be a pretty universal reaction. But this has to be your decision, and you should only do it when you feel ready. Choosing to be with a new person is hard enough, but then we have to deal with all the societal pressures and religious types that tell us what we're doing is wrong, and well, it can be overwhelming."

I wince at the wisdom of her words. "Have you always known that you're a lesbian?"

"I think deep down, yes, although I denied it for a long time. It's not uncommon to find lesbians and gays who were previously in straight relationships, even married, and with children. It's still what society expects from both women and men. It takes courage to go against that, and for some it takes a long time to build up that courage. Know what I mean?"

"Uh huh." I sit up and pull back the covers, silently inviting her to join me. The bed is warm. Here, under the covers, I can feel her heat.

"Give," she demands when I chuckle.

"It's nothing. I had a thought and it made me laugh."

"Yeah, I got that. What was it?"

"Okay. I could feel the heat coming off your body and thought that your aura must be red."

She waits for me to continue obviously figuring there's got to be a punch line coming up. Her eyes widen to let me know she's not seeing the humor yet.

"So, I just thought how Mulder would get a kick out of that. He's the one who's more in tune with, shall I say, the less scientifically grounded phenomena. He'd get a good laugh about me even admitting to the possibility of auras. I can just hear him. 'Dear Diary, Today Agent Scully opened herself up to extreme possibilities.' Then he'd go on to give me a lecture on the Chinese life force, the chi."

Now she's laughing, too. "So, you two really are like the yin and yang then."

"We compliment each other very well."

"I think we have that same potential, Dana. Do you?"

My aura must be red now, too. "Yes."

Searching under the covers, Mel finds my hands.

"We'll take it slow. Give you some time to get used to the idea and work through things in your own mind. Then, if you decide that you want to go through with this, I would ask just two things of you, Dana."

I look at her and nod, indicating for her to continue.

"I want you to stay open, don't close yourself off. If you have concerns, I want to know about them." She squeezes my hands. "I don't pretend to have all the answers, but I have been where you are right now and I can give you the benefit of my experience, but only if you let me in. Can you make me that promise?"

"Yes, I can do that." And I can, I know it. I know I have a reputation of being tight-lipped, but this is different. I want this to work and I'm willing to do whatever it takes. "And the second thing?"

"Don't ever lie to me."

That seems like an odd thing to say; of course, I'm not in the habit of lying myself, but know from personal experience that others have no qualms about it. "I won't," I say, knowing it's a promise I can easily keep. I wonder if some event in the past has prompted this request. Is that the source of her melancholy?

"Did someone lie to you before?" I've obviously touched upon a sensitive subject.

"Yes," she answers, her voice barely above a whisper.

I repeat my earlier pledge as I cradle her in my arms. "I promise I'll never lie to you." I stroke her hair and lay a kiss on her cheek. She sniffles a couple times and takes a few deep breaths. I recognize her actions. She's displaying the same behaviors as I do when the faade has cracked and I'm trying to regroup. It's not an easy process; I'll give her all the time she needs.

I'm holding her in her bed. It seems almost surreal. I've dreamed of sharing this kind of closeness with another person for what seems like years. And now it's here. Granted, it's not exactly how I envisioned it, but it's all part of being with someone and I'm willing to be here for her, no matter what the circumstance. It's so rare that I ever hold anyone, and when it does occur it's usually me on the receiving end of the consoling.

My arms around her, I lay my ear against her back and can hear her beating heart, her breathing is returning to normal. Her body has relaxed. She clears her throat and swipes quickly at her eyes to push away any lingering tears. When she feels secure that she's back in control she pulls away a little.

"Thanks." Her eyes are a tad bloodshot and beginning to puff up a bit and her nose is a little red.

I feel so close to her right now. To be able to share such an intimate moment is special. I'm filled with a feeling I can only describe as love. Not of a romantic nature, just the love one human feels for another. I want to take care of her, nurture her, help to take the hurt away. I pull her back into my arms and ease her down so that her head is on my lap. I want to let her know that she's not alone; there's someone here who cares about her and will not ever betray her. She closes her eyes, relaxing. Today the tables have turned and she is letting me take care of her. We remain in this position for a long while, just being close, our hearts making wordless promises.

Leaning over, I tilt my head so that our lips can touch without banging noses. Her lips move, but I don't hear any sound. Time seems to be standing still. Everything is moving in slow motion. I'm watching her face and see a full range of emotions displayed there. Her brown eyes are moist again, but they appear to be tears of joy. I can feel my eyes tearing up in response. I smile to show her how happy I am. I can't wait any longer. I move the extra millimeter and we are joined. Hmmm. I feel weightless. I have no cares, no worries. And it dawns on me, no nerves. I am completely at ease. The bond we have forged has eradicated all my apprehensions.

Pushing through her lips, I seek out her tongue and she sighs as I slowly trace its length and then massage the insides of her cheeks. Her mouth reminds me of the humid tropics. We continue kissing and exploring until we both have to breathe. If we're not careful, we're going to hyperventilate.

"God, Dana."

We're both a bit breathless. What we are doing and the prospect of what we are about to do, monumental. We kiss again, seemingly unable to get enough of each other. I'm wet with anticipation. I whimper when she breaks the kiss, but she presses our foreheads together.

"What's, what's wrong? Why'd you stop?" I can hardly think.

"Are you sure this is what you want? Now, I mean."

"Very sure." I smile and lie down next to her. "Want to kiss me?" I ask, teasingly.

She pretends to think about it. "Not really." She smiles, her swollen lips testament to our passion.

"You know, it'd be a shame..." I say, purposely letting my voice trail off.

"What would?" she asks, playing along.

I run my finger down the length of her nose. "It's a perfect size for your face. It'd be a shame for it to start growing again."

She pulls my finger into her mouth and gently bites it. I start giggling. That's weird, I don't usually giggle, ever. Then it dawns on me what is causing this phenomenon. I'm having fun. Me. Dana Scully. Fun in bed is not something with which I have a lot of experience. If I recall correctly, it's usually been more of a wham-bam sort of experience. It hasn't included a lot of foreplay. The only real bonding was of a physical nature; it rarely reached an emotional level. I could get used to this.

Mel rolls over on top of me and starts snuggling my neck. Oh God, she's found my favorite spot. Ooooh. A half-squeal, half-moan escapes when she starts licking it. Jesus. I think I may come just from that. My legs twitch beneath her. For a split second I worry that my nerves are back. Nope, I assure myself, just good old-fashioned excitement.

"I want to touch your breasts," she says, sounding short of breath.

My mind is yelling yes, yes, absolutely, yes. I nod. Her hand travels over my chest. My nipples leap to attention at her touch. Our arms and legs are tangled above and below the covers. Her bare leg rubbing against mine is amazingly erotic. She's rubbing from one breast to the other with feather light touches that make me crave more.

Without taking her eyes from mine she slips her hand up under my blouse. I gasp as her skin makes contact with mine. Her hand is soft and she runs it gently across my erect nipples, squeezing first one, then the other. She keeps kissing me. I'm rapidly approaching nirvana.

"I want to taste them," she whispers, her voice as raspy as if she'd been yelling for an extended period of time.

Despite the fact that she just removed her tongue, my mouth is dry. It seems that I have lost the ability to speak. All I can do is nod. Slowly, she withdraws her hand and starts to remove my blouse. When the four buttons have been freed she spreads it open exposing my breasts for her scrutiny.

She gasps. "They are beautiful." I think I detect a look of appreciation in her eyes. My breasts are aching for her as she moves her head down slowly and takes my nipple into the wonderful oasis of her mouth.

Dear God! She's sucking ever so slightly, and her tongue is swirling around my aureole, working steadily toward the hardened tip. My hands clutch at and grip her head, tugging her closer. I don't want her to stop. She must be telepathic. I've never felt anything this amazing. It's hard to think. Why do I want to? I want to feel, just feel. Mel is assisting me with that goal. She moves to my other breast and performs the same astonishing feat. I arch my back to try to get closer to her. Electricity shoots through me much like lightning does a tree in a storm. I'm humming, long and low, and through the haze I can feel Mel smiling against me.

Her hand is drawing swirls on the side of my breast; it tickles and teases all at once. I want her skin on mine. Her breasts touching mine. My fingers travel down her back and I tug at her shirt, pulling it up towards her head. She understands what I'm doing and raises up, releasing my breast with a wet smacking sound. The cool air on it sends a chill through me. I'm trying to hurry; I want her flesh as my blanket.

Mel throws a leg over my stomach and straddles me, her knees pressing against my hips. Tossing her shirt hastily aside, I stare at her breasts. God, I think I've never seen anything as lovely. I look at her for permission to continue. She smiles down at me. I'm unsure, but I refuse to be deterred. Not this time. I want her too much. In an effort to relax, I take a big breath and release it. I must have blown on her breasts because she abruptly sucks air in through her teeth. I watch with amazement as her nipples instantly harden. With slightly shaking hands, I reach up tentatively, and let my fingers trace the outline of her face, my thumbs sweeping over her lips, her throat, and down the slope of her breasts. They feel soft and spongy, but firm. Her nipples that were rosy not more than an eye blink ago are now magically transformed to a reddish-brown.

Oh my God. I'm doing this. I'm making love after what seems like ages. I glance up; her eyes have a faraway look, she's most definitely in an altered state. Her jaw has dropped open and her breathing is ragged. It occurs that this is because of me. I've done this to her. The thought bolsters my courage and I lift up and place little baby kisses all around her breast. I'm not completely sure about what I'm doing, but the fact that I'm even doing anything is a miracle. And I note with a bit of pride that Mel's certainly not complaining.

I squeeze her other nipple between my thumb and finger, not hard, just a little pressure. Mel must like that because she just jerked and moaned all at once. Well, if she liked it that much I'll do it again. This time she tenderly calls my name. I can feel the adrenaline of excitement coursing through me. I focus on calming down. I tell myself to relax. Unlike earlier, now the self-talk works. I move my mouth over to her other breast and apply the same baby kisses to it. But now I'm feeling bolder, and I suck on her nipple and quickly dart my tongue across it. Oh Jesus, it feels good. I repeat the action over and over. The thrill does not diminish. My hand is rubbing over her other breast, pushing gently on her nipple as I pass over it. I don't know which one of us is receiving more pleasure.

I honestly never understood the big attraction men had with breasts until now. Besides the wonderful feeling of closeness with your partner, I think it's an opportunity to reconnect with your earliest memories of being safe and warm in your mother's arms. When you had no fear and nothing could harm you. Receiving nourishment not only for your body, but also for your soul.

"Dana."

"Hmm?" I guess the vibration caused by my answer felt good because she lets out a little puff of air.

"You are wonderful," she says.

I can't help smiling. I don't want to sound self-congratulatory, but I have to agree that I seem to be making all the right moves. Mel squeezes my hips with her knees and, taking me with her, rolls onto the bed, so that we are lying side by side. I close the gap between us and kiss her, deep and long. Our upper bodies are pressed together as our hands continue our mutual pleasuring.

Right now I don't know how things could be any better. I'm totally lost in the moment. I wanted feeling. Well, I got feeling. My body is like one big satellite dish pulling in signals from all my nerve endings and sending them straight to my vagina. I can feel my muscles contracting with anticipated fulfillment. Every inch of me is flush with desire. I bury my face in her shoulder and nuzzle her.

"Are you, aaah, are sure you've never made love to a woman?"

"I don't think that's something I'd forget." I gently bite her earlobe.

She gasps. "So how do you explain the fact that you are driving me out of my mind?"

I laugh. "I can't, guess it's an X-File." She's helped me out of my blouse. Her hands wandering gently over my naked skin.

"How are you holding up?"

I rise up on my elbow and prop my head on my hand. "What do you mean?"

"No nerves?"

"Maybe a few." I chuckle.

"Remember, if you want to stop, it's okay. Don't feel pressured."

"I know and I don't."

"Are you enjoying yourself?"

"Isn't it apparent?"

"Just checking."

"Mel, I'm having a wonderful time. As a matter of fact, I can truthfully say I'm having the time of my life. You've shown me nothing but kindness since I arrived and your patience has put me totally at ease."

She raises up and gives me a chaste kiss. "I really like you, Dana. I think we can be good together."

Returning her kiss, I say, "I think so, too."

She pulls me back to her and kisses me so thoroughly that I think I'm going to pass out. Jesus. Where did that come from? It was the most toe-curling kiss I've ever had.

"Mel, make love to me."

She searches my eyes and silently asks if I'm sure. I grin and answer with a simple, "Yes."

Reaching under the covers, she slides my shorts down and helps me out of them. She runs her hand slowly up the outside of my leg to my hip and pulls on the waistband of my panties. She gives a tug and starts to pull them down. Breathe. Breathe. I lift up creating space between myself and the bed and wiggle a bit to help her. I'm completely nude under the covers.

"Now you," I say, hoping that my impending nerves will subside when the playing field is leveled.

She quickly obliges. Her shorts and panties come flying out from under the covers. Oh God. This is going to happen.

"You okay?"

"Yep."

"Dana, I think you are magnificent." She strokes my face, then adds, "Not to mention, very brave."

My body is on fire. Mel is above me, her body completely stretched out on mine. Our legs are entwined and we are joined at the hip. I'm breathing too rapidly. Mel is kissing my neck and throat. I shut my eyes and feel her hands raising mine up over my head and down onto the bed, her movements causing our upper torsos to brush against each other. Moving steadily downward, she explores me with her mouth, licking the moisture from my body. If I thought it was good before, now, with nothing separating us, is a hundred times better.

Nothing but skin on skin. Heat generating more heat. I'm wet and getting wetter. Her mouth is sucking on my stomach. Ooooh. Her tongue pushing into my navel causes me to squirm. Lower and lower she goes. She releases my hands and moves hers down my body, caressing and fondling, until settling them on my thighs. Alternating between stroking and gentle scraping, her fingernails travel up and down them. Her nose is buried in the curly hair covering my pelvic bone. I'm trying to remain calm. I want to remember everything.

"You smell great," she murmurs.

I have an unexpected revelation of just how profound that simple statement is. Combined with sight, smell is one of our most powerful inborn tools. If we were animals in the wild this is how we would locate each other, sniffing in the wind to ascertain each other's scent. We would use our stored memory to pick each other out of a pack. Is it any wonder then that all animals smell each other upon meeting? In effect, they are determining if they have come upon a friend or a potential threat to their safety. So, it is no surprise then that we rely on the scent that secrets from our core, the very place where all life begins. An essence from so deep inside us that it can't be covered up. An aroma that is as singularly and fiercely our own as our fingerprints.

"I can hardly wait to taste you," she purrs.

"Then don't," I say, encouraging her.

Help me, Jesus. She pushes my legs apart and runs the tip of her tongue along the inside of my thighs. My body is tingling with expectation. Bells and whistles are going off in my head. My body feels like a four-alarm fire. I want her inside me. I won't be satisfied until she makes me come. I reach down and grab her head and pull her to me, thrusting my hips up into her face. She grasps my wrists and removes my hands from her head. Smiling at me, she tells me to wait a minute. Jesus, not now, don't stop now.

"Do you want to watch?" she asks, continuing to lay kisses on my bare, fevered body.

"What?"

"Watch."

The slow dawning of what she's proposing intrigues and excites me. The thought had never crossed my mind.

"Watch?" I repeat, wondering if I have come to the right conclusion.

"Watch while I eat you."

My eyes shut briefly as I contemplate the promised sensations. Yet, in those few moments, the remembered pleasures of the flesh come rushing back. I open my eyes and look directly at her.

"Yes."

"Okay, then sit up a bit." She puts a pillow behind me to prop me up against the headboard and then places two under my butt. Smiling, she explains that it will help raise me up so she doesn't kill her neck.

"Still okay?"

I nod.

Obviously satisfied that I'm properly situated for maximum viewing, she scoots back down and flips the covers to the side of the bed. There's another delay while Mel's eyes travel from my head to my toes and back again. She looks sad. Laying gentle kisses on all my scars, the visible ones and some that aren't, she murmurs "I'm so sorry" as she moves from one to the other. I feel my own tears threateningly close to the surface in the face of her sincere sympathy.

Mel slowly works her way back up and kisses me slowly. "Comfy?"

"Uh huh." That must be what she wanted to hear. Her hands roam over me as she continues to kiss me. Her tongue runs over my lips and I'm quickly re-igniting.

I need to research why body parts that are touched in the normal course of a day become so super sensitized when it's another person doing the touching. For instance, my tongue is inside my mouth all day and I never get aroused. So why do I when hers is? And its not as though it requires some build up time. The minute it touches me I'm gone. Oooooh. While I've been musing and making mental notes that very same tongue has found it's way down my body.

I watch as Mel spreads my legs apart and buries her head into me. Jesus H. She's pulling my labia open and running her tongue around the inside of it. Hmm. I can feel her sucking on me, then gently tugging with her teeth while soothing the soft tissue with her tongue. My body is tensing up. I can feel the muscles starting to shake with the strain. I'm glad she suggested me watching; it is extremely arousing, and is truly adding to the experience. Is it possible to be a Peeping Tom when it's your own body? Ahhh.

She's got her mouth completely over me and her tongue is teasing me, darting inside. OhmyGod. She's whispering something as she's licking me; the vibrations from her lips causing me to tingle all over. My legs instinctively wrap around her neck. Her magnificent tongue is sliding in and out of me. She starts out slowly, gradually picking speed and pushing in a little farther each time.

I notice that I'm rubbing my breasts in time with the thrusting of her tongue. Hot. Like an erupting volcano, my lava is flowing. I'm alternating between moaning and whimpering. Reaching down, I twist my hand in her hair. My other hand is tugging and pinching my nipples. Chewing on my bottom lip, I fight to keep my eyes open. My hips have started their own primal dance of lust.

Mel's head is moving rhythmically. She lifts up and looks up at me. Her eyes are dark with desire. Her mouth is glistening with my juices.

"You're delicious," she says, running her tongue over her lips. Oh God.

While I'm watching she slides two fingers into me. Ahhh, I sigh. She pushes them deep within me and then slowly pulls them very nearly out before repeating the process. I beg for more and she obliges, inserting three fingers knotted together inside me, filling me up. I pull my knees up while Mel pushes them apart, her fingers stretch to push against my cervix. OhGod. OhGod. OhGod. I can feel my vaginal walls gripping, begging them to stay buried in the warm cocoon of my body. She moves her mouth to my clit and starts sucking. Holy Mother of God. The feeling is glorious. Eight thousand nerve endings are bundled in that little piece of flesh, and they all seem to be firing at once. I wonder if I'm dead because I have no doubt that I'm in heaven.

I feel and recognize the beginnings of my orgasm. It's always the same. My skin heats up to the point where I think my blood is close to boiling. I experience intense pleasure mixed with a small measure of pain, the kind that would hurt if it didn't feel so good. I have trouble focusing, my breathing becomes ragged, I moan almost constantly, and my body twitches and stiffens then reverses the process, my fingers claw at and clutch fistfuls of sheet.

Thrusting my hips, I grind them into her, my head thrashes from side to side, and there's roaring in my ears as my blood pounds ceaselessly through my body. This is it. Her tongue is flicking over my clit. Teasing it, daring it to explode in ecstasy. It's too much. My entire body is on overload. I'm about to check out. I hear myself scream and it's the last thing I remember.

My next conscious thought is that I am floating in space. My eyes are still closed; my breathing is returning to normal. All my limbs feel weightless. My body is prickling like a foot that's been asleep and is now returning to life. I can feel my cunt still slowly pulsing, reminding me of why I feel the way I do. I'm totally relaxed. I don't have a care in the world. Nothing exists but this, this euphoria.

There's a weight on my stomach. Forcing my eyes open, I see Mel's head resting on me, her dark hair my only covering. I lift my hand and stroke her hair, pushing it back off her face. She tenderly kisses my belly. My body is still warm from the blood pumping rapidly through my veins. Mel kisses her way up my boneless frame and we join our lips. It's gentle and soft and slow, in complete counterpoint to the frenzied activity of a short time ago.

I'm totally satisfied and it's all her doing. I want to tell her so much, but it will have to wait. Right now all I want is to lie here, her arms wrapped around me, her head on my chest. Everything seems to be happening in slow motion. I watch as her head rises and falls with my breathing. She reaches over and pulls the covers over us. We are safe and warm in her bed.

"Sleep," she says and I gladly obey. I am sated, content, and tired. It's been so long since I had any real sex I'd forgotten how strenuous it could be. Sleep seems like the logical next step.

We wake simultaneously, the mid-afternoon sun peeking through the partially shut blinds, our positions unchanged. I lift Mel's chin up towards me and kiss her.

"Thank you for making me so happy," I say.

Her smile stretches from ear to ear, her eyes warm and loving. "It was my pleasure."

"But, you. I didn't--"

"Dana, your pleasure was my pleasure."

"But--"

"But nothing. Making love to you was, in a word, breathtaking. It was your first time and you chose to give yourself to me. You trusted me to take care of you."

I'm blushing. Mel has joined me on the pillow and we are lying face to face, not more than a few inches apart.

"Watching you while you had your orgasm was quite simply the most exciting thing I've ever experienced." Taking my hand, she continues. "You were open and responsive. You didn't hold back on expressing how you felt or what you wanted. I find that quite a powerful aphrodisiac. I like my partner to feel free to tell me what she wants, what feels good and works for her. And you did that, without reservation."

"That's because you made me feel so safe. I'm not usually so demonstrative," I say, lowering my eyes to escape her bemused gaze. "Being with you was so easy, so right."

We kiss and touch each other tenderly.

"But, I still feel bad that you didn't--"

"Relax, I took care of it while I watched you."

"Oh."

"If it makes you feel better, next time you can do me first. Deal?"

"Deal."

"So, I imagine you'll want to grab a shower before heading to the airport."

I groan. I don't want to leave. I have just had what I would conservatively assess to be the peak sexual experience of my life and now I have to go.

"When will I see you again?"

"Well, I'll be pretty busy with this project for another couple of weeks. Then I'll be coming down to Washington to give a presentation. Can I see you then?"

My heart leaps at the prospect, but I wonder if I can last two weeks without seeing her, touching her.

"Will you stay with me while you're in town?"

"If you're sure, I'd love to."

"I'm sure."

She gets up and for the first time I see her entire body, strong and taut, yet at the same time, soft. She grabs a robe and the object of my desire is hidden from my view. I stifle a cry of regret. Getting up, I head towards the shower.

"Mel?"

"Hmm," she answers distractedly.

"Would you like to join me?"

She looks up from her dresser. "Next time." She grins. "If I get in that shower, you'll never get to the airport."

I'm disappointed, but I understand. If I'm going to be home before it gets too late, I've got to get a move on. "Okay. But I'm going to hold you to that promise," I say, smiling and disappearing behind the bathroom door.

When I come back out, Mel greets me with a quick kiss as she passes by and into the bathroom for her shower. Wrapped only in a towel, I gather up my clothes from the floor and head downstairs to change.

I'm just clicking the locks down on my overnight case when Mel reaches the bottom of the stairs.

"Want something to eat before we head out?"

"No, thanks. I'm not hungry. I'll eat later at home."

"Okay, then. Are you ready to go?"

Reluctantly, I answer, "Yes."

I gather up my things and we head out the door. In the car I have to fight myself to keep from becoming dispirited. We don't say a word all the way to the airport. What could I say that I haven't already, except that I don't want to leave her? I take her hand and lean over to kiss her cheek. She looks at me and I offer up a weak smile.

"What's wrong?"

"Nothing."

"Tell me."

I hesitate and remember my promise to be open with my feelings. "I don't want to leave."

"And I don't want you to. But we both have obligations that need our attention. I'll see you in two weeks. And we'll be in touch in between."

"I don't want to lose touch with you, Mel."

"You won't," she says, smiling reassuringly.

We arrive at the airport. Pulling into one of the metered spots, Mel shuts off the car engine.

"Dana, I'm not going to let you out of my life. This weekend was just the beginning. I want us to really get to know each other. Being with you was just what I needed. These last couple of years I've closed myself down for various reasons, but I feel that I'm about to be reborn and it's all due to you. So, please, don't worry."

I listen to what she says and try to heed her advice. "Mel, let's say our good-byes here."

When our lips meet it's different. There's a feeling that something big is about to begin. Something that I never would have predicted in a thousand years. Yet, it is something I want. We have no need to utter words; our tongues are saying everything for us. Finally, we break apart.

"Come on," she says, getting out of the car.

I grab my bag from the back seat and we go into the terminal and wait for the boarding call. I make her promise again that she will stay with me when she gets to D.C.

Now, after just a little over twenty-four hours, we part as we greeted, holding hands. Except that unlike before, this time my hands are warm.

THE END

FEEDBACK? I'D LOVE TO HEAR FROM YOU! X-File_Addict@msn.com



Title: The Visit
Author: ScullyFu
Email: X-File_Addict@msn.com
Posted: 01/01/01
Archives: Spookies, Gossamer, Ephemeral are okay. Others, please ask. Spoilers: There are a couple of minor mentions in passing. Rating: NC-17
Classification: ScullySlash. Scully POV. Disclaimer: They're not mine. CC, 1013 and Fox have the sole rights to their existence. Dammit! Summary: Mel comes to town on business. To Meredith and Char Chaffin, for generously providing their time and critiques, thanks again, ladies. Note: This is the fifth in the series and falls between "First Contact" and "Beach Blanket Bingo". At this point in the series, I think it is necessary for you to have some background information from the other stories set in the Beach Blanket Bingo Universe. But, if you only have time for one, I'd suggest "First Contact" to get you up to speed. But all the stories are relatively short, so if you want to read them to get caught up, please, be my guest. Go here: http://scullyfu.populli.net/

Eighteen thousand, seven hundred and twenty minutes to be exact.

A couple of weeks, she said. Thirteen days ago I extracted a promise from Mel to stay here with me when she comes up for her presentation to the FBI. So, why has it seemed like an eternity?

Thank God, Mulder and I had that case file to work on for over a week. If I hadn't had something to distract me, I'd have gone out of my mind. But when we got home and her voice was on my message machine, all my anxieties melted away. I returned her call, and God, it was good to speak with her. The first thing we did was to take turns declaring how badly we each missed the other and count down the days until she'd be in D.C.

So, here I am at Dulles waiting for her to arrive. She had some errands to attend to before she could get out of town, so now it's heading on close to eight o'clock on Tuesday night. I'm feeling nervous. This will be the first time we will have seen each other since the weekend in Boston. There she is. Jesus, she looks great. She's looking around for me. I catch her attention with a little wave and a big smile.

Making my way over to her, I take her hand and give it a squeeze. I want to kiss her, but opt instead for a peck on the cheek.

Pulling me into a hug, she whispers, "Jesus, you feel good."

I shiver as her warm breath wafts past my ear.

Over her shoulder, I check the people around us, but no one seems to be paying us any mind. No one thinks anything of two women friends greeting each other with a hug and a kiss in an airport. I know I don't.

Oh, God, I've missed her. My body craves her. My lips ache for hers. I have to push away now; I can't afford any out of the ordinary behavior. Who knows who may be watching? If there's one thing I've learned over the years, it's to always be a little less than trusting and never let my guard down.

"Let's go get your bags and--"

"Go home," she interrupts, seemingly reading my mind.

I can't stand that she's so close and I'm denying myself her touch. I decide to take a chance. It's an airport, for God's sake. Linking my arm through hers, she leans into me and we walk slowly through the terminal to the luggage carousel.

The ride back to my apartment is subdued; except for a few pleasantries, we both remain mute. I don't want to talk. I just want to relish in the fact that she is here, with me, for the rest of the week. Reaching over, I put my hand on her knee and run it up and down her thigh. Closing her eyes, she puts her head back as she sighs and seems to relax.

After a moment, she asks if we're almost there. "Yes, not long now," I say.

"Good, I don't know how much longer I can wait."

"Oh, I can pull off at the next exit."

She laughs and I look at her quizzically.

"I don't have to pee, Dana. I meant I don't know how much longer I can wait to make love to you."

"Oh."

She leans over and whispers in my ear, her voice low and throaty, "I nearly went crazy thinking about you."

I step more firmly on the gas pedal and we're home in another twelve minutes. Miraculously, there's a parking spot right out front. I can see in my window that the automatic timer has switched on the table lamp. No sooner are we inside, than we drop her luggage to the floor.

Pushing her up against the closed door, I kiss her roughly and start undressing her. In a matter of moments, her clothes are strewn all over the foyer.

I'm kissing her shamelessly. She quivers as I explore every inch of her neck and torso with my lips and fingers. Her nipples go taut at my touch. She sighs when I reach between her legs, her knees buckling as she sinks down onto my hand, inviting me to enter her. Less than a heartbeat and I am deep inside, my fingers acting as tentacles, feeling their way in her darkness.

My breathing has become rapid, matching hers. I push my tongue into her mouth; boldly taking what I know is mine. My fingers strain to get further inside her. She is wet, so wet for me.

She grinds her clit against the heel of my hand. Her moans sound like they've worked their way up from the center of her being, her very core, exactly where I'm touching. Breathlessly, she calls my name as she comes.

When her muscles relax, I withdraw my hand. Stepping back from her nude, flushed body, I tell her how beautiful she is. I hold out my arms and she comes to me.

Silently, our eyes locked on each other, she starts undressing me. She's going too slowly. I rapidly help the process along. The feel of her skin on mine is heavenly.

"I've missed you so much," I say, leaning back against the couch, with Mel standing between my legs, and sharing what are now slow deep kisses.

"Me, too."

"Come on." Taking her hand, I lead her through the front room and down the hall. "Let's get in bed."

I throw back the covers and we slide in between the sheets. We lie huddled together like snow monkeys against the elements, simply enjoying the closeness.

"I'm sorry," I say, placing a kiss on her temple.

"For what?"

"I didn't plan on attacking you the minute you stepped a foot inside the apartment."

She chuckles. "Oh, I see, you were planning on waiting for a while, right?"

I smile. "No. I wanted it to be romantic and slow. I wanted us both to savor the first time I made love to you, but I couldn't help myself."

"You didn't hear me complaining, did you?"

She kisses my neck and wraps her fingers in my hair. I'm thinking it's not too late to fulfill my original intention. I roll over so that I'm above her. Acting as a nightlight, the forgotten front room lamp allows me to see that her eyes are still as dilated as a cat's in the night. My mouth searches out hers. Umm. I don't think I'll ever get tired of this.

Her hands are skimming their way over my naked body. Periodically, she will stop and apply pressure through her fingertips. Usually, it coincides with when I make contact with a certain part of her anatomy.

I trace the outline of her body with my tongue, lingering here and there to lick the droplets of moisture from her skin. Her sweat is a little salty, and like salt, it makes me thirsty. I want to drink her in. Drown in her. Die in her arms.

My head is poised at her entrance, down where it is dark and tangled. She gasps as I use my thumbs to pull back her outer lips. I sigh as I gaze upon the beauty before me. Layer upon layer of a budding flower. A blood red rose. The symbol of eternal desire. My mouth is watering. I want to breathe in its fragrance and touch its delicate petals. Gently, as I would a newborn, I bend down and apply a kiss. Oh, Jesus. It feels like nothing else I've experienced, it's like I've found myself. After years of denial and self-delusion, it's here with Mel that I feel complete.

Vaguely, as though from a distance, I hear my name. At the moment, I'm otherwise engaged. Long and slow licks bring me juices with which to quench my thirst. Like a dying man in the desert who suddenly finds himself at an oasis, I covet more of what I have been without. My tongue enters her fountain. Her hips start to slowly rotate, occasionally bumping into my nose. I feel her fingers twisting my hair. If she pulls any harder, I may have a few bald patches.

Mel's begging me to finish her off. Her clit is swollen with want. I flick my tongue over it again and again. Sucking on it, coaxing it back out from its hiding place. Enticing it to come out and play some more. Our fingers have somehow found the others and are entwined. She pulls my hands up to cover her breasts. I marvel at their softness, their fullness, and their darkened peaks. Squeezing them causes her to whimper. If I didn't know the cause, I would think she was hurt. But this is the sound of a woman suffering only from a case of extreme pleasure.

"Please, Dana, I can't wait. Please. Now."

I oblige her and she climaxes not once, but twice. My mouth has not left her. I am rewarded with a last long drink of her. I half-kiss, half-lick my way up her body, noticing the appearance of a rash. I determine it is nothing to be suspicious of, its only cause being sexual excitement. Stopping at her breasts, I kiss each one tenderly a number of times and apologize in case I'd rubbed or pinched too hard. Never, she whispers.

Supporting my weight on my elbows, I'm lying on top of her now. Her body has a slick sweaty sheen, allowing me to glide up and down on her, rubbing our breasts and pelvises together. Oh, what a heavenly sensation.

Mel reaches down and places her fingers on my clit; I shudder at her touch and come instantly. Laying my head on her shoulder, I say a prayer of thanks to the Lord for bringing her into my life.

What was an almost awkward silence in the car is now a comfortable one. Periodically, one of us will sigh with contentment. I reach back and pull the covers over us.

Nearly an hour passes as we lie in a state of suspended animation. Mel's stirring causes me to return to a conscious state. I watch covertly as she walks into the front room and returns with her bag. She must assume I'm asleep; and not wanting to disturb me, places her thumb over the lock to muffle the sound and pops open the case, removing her clothes and lying them on the bed.

"Hi," I say.

"Did I wake you?"

"Not really."

As she continues laying her clothes out, I tell her that I cleared out a drawer for her. She looks at me with appreciation.

"Want to go out and get something to eat?"

"If you don't mind, Dana, I'd really just like to kind of lounge around tonight."

"Sure. I'll just fix us something here then."

"Maybe later, okay? I'm not especially hungry right this minute."

"Me either." I pause and clear my throat. "Going to get a shower?"

Standing at the end of the bed holding her clean clothes, soap, shampoo, conditioner, and lotion, she looks at me as though I must have lost all my powers of observation. She breaks out in a wide grin.

"Want to join me?"

"I thought you'd never ask," I say, grinning and getting up.

Our first shower together is a highly pleasurable tactile experience. We take turns soaping each other, hands gliding smoothly over sudsy bodies. We shampoo our hair and stand under the showerhead to rinse off; alternating turns of dipping our heads under the steady stream of warm water.

Oh, and we kiss, repeatedly. Touch intimately. Murmur how much we enjoy being together. Stare into each other's eyes and grin like drunken fools. Did I mention that we kiss? God, the woman has that down to an art form.

Afterwards, sitting on the couch, with only our robes covering us, we cuddle together, both of us with hair still wrapped up in towel turbans.

"Is the entire week going to be like this?" I ask.

"Uh, is there a problem, officer?"

I laugh at her bad Eddie Murphy imitation. "No, of course not. I just don't know if I can take so much pleasure in such a short time frame is all. I'm not used to it."

"Well, get used to it," she says. "Every time we're together I fully intend on doing everything in my power to give you as much pleasure as you can handle," she pauses, "and then some."

"Oooh. I like the sounds of that."

Removing the towel from her head, I finger comb her hair. I hit a few snarls, but with patience I'm able to get them out without splitting the ends.

She does the same for me. "I really wish you'd let your hair dry naturally, Dana. It's so sexy on you."

She leans over my shoulder and kisses the spot just under my ear. Jesus, that feels good.

"You don't think it'd look unprofessional?"

"Absolutely not. What's unprofessional about naturally wavy hair?"

"Well, in and of itself, nothing, I suppose. But it's just I have to always be above reproach, in both behavior and appearance."

"Uh huh. And the point is?"

"I just don't think that I'd be taken seriously if I went with the curly look."

"Have you ever tried wearing it that way to work?"

"No."

"So, you're not operating on any empirical evidence, just theory. Is that correct?"

"Yes."

"And you dare to call yourself a scientist!" she says, reaching over to tickle me.

I'm laughing and trying to wiggle away, but she keeps scooting towards me until there's no where left to go.

"I won't stop until you promise that while I'm here you won't blow dry your hair straight. For scientific purposes, of course."

"Well, if you put it that way, what choice do I have?"

"Okay, then."

I manage to catch my breath after she stops tickling me. "Buy you a cup of tea?"

"Sure." She follows me into the kitchen.

"So, tell me about your presentation. When is it, exactly?"

"Tomorrow at eleven; we'll have a lunch break at one, followed by a Q&A session."

I take out the mugs and tea selections as well as the milk, honey, and lemon.

"Do you have any plans for the rest of the week?"

She walks up behind me, wraps her arms around my waist, and nuzzles my neck.

"You mean besides making love with you as often as possible?"

I gasp as the kettle slips from my hand and hits the burner with a little too much force. "Yes, besides that." My voice sounds a little shaky.

"As a matter of fact, I am meeting with my coach for a debriefing on Thursday."

"Who? What?"

"Rachel, my coach, is going to critique my presentation. She was my mentor in college and we've stayed close. Besides our professional relationship, she's really helped me through some rough personal times."

I decide not to press her on the personal issues. She'll tell me in her own time, if she wants to.

"We've been in touch throughout this entire process. I've emailed her my speech and visual aids and she's sent me suggestions for tightening it up. I've also sent her a video of my entire presentation."

The kettle boils and Mel takes a seat at the kitchen table.

"Sounds like you're really prepared for this."

"As ready as I'll ever be. That's why being here with you is so great. You'll take my mind off the presentation. Otherwise, I'd be sitting in a hotel room in front of my computer tweaking it constantly and driving myself loony."

"So you're using me strictly as a diversion?"

Although I try to sound breezy, she must see my insecurities showing.

"I want to be here with you, Dana. I was just razzing you. Come here."

Putting the kettle back on the burner to keep warm, I walk over to stand by her. She reaches out and puts her arms around my waist, using the side of my breast as a pillow. I stroke her hair.

"Forgive me?"

How can I not? "I am so unsure of everything right now, Mel, and when you say things like that, I don't know whether you're serious or not."

"Dana, honey, I can't think of any other way to convince you of how much I enjoy being with you. Whatever you need to set you at ease, let me know. I can't read your mind; you'll need to speak up."

"No, it's just me. I told you before that I wasn't good with relationships, well, now you see why."

She gets up, takes me in her arms, and holds me. Shortly, she guides us into the front room and we sit on the couch, my hands secured in hers.

"I'm going to say this again and I want you to let it filter in. I really like you, Dana. You are a marvelous woman. You're generous and kind. You're a wonderfully compassionate person and a fantastic lover. You're intelligent and funny. And, as if all that weren't enough, you are extremely beautiful. I always enjoy our time together. I just wish it could be more. But for now, this is what we have and I'm grateful. I want you in my life."

My heart soars. "That's what I want as well."

"So, give me a little credit."

"What do you mean?"

"Well, what type of woman do you think I'd rather be with? The one I just described or someone who doubts herself and needs constant re-assuring? Because, Dana, as much as I care about you, I can't make you feel secure about yourself. That has to come from you."

"I know."

"You can, however, feel secure about me. I promise you that I will never cheat or be unfaithful, so don't worry. If I say I am with you, I am. Now, I'm not saying this is going to happen, so don't take it the wrong way, but should there ever come a time when I want to leave, you will be the first to know. But, like I say, I don't foresee that occurring."

"Thank you for your honesty."

She pulls my face towards her and kisses me. "Dana?"

"Yes?"

"Want another cup of tea?"

"Not particularly. Do you?"

"Nope. How about we go to bed?"

"Yes. Come on. You need to get a good night's sleep before your big day tomorrow."

Tonight we simply lie in each other's arms, sex taking second place to our silent need for mutual reassurance of our feelings and commitments. Our breathing falls into a syncopated rhythm and we fall asleep.

Before I open my eyes to greet the day, I reach for Mel. She's still right next to me, although her back is turned. Rolling over onto my side, I wrap my body around hers. Under the blanket, she feels like sleep, warm and toasty. Without a word, she reaches back and puts her hand on my thigh, squeezing ever so gently. I whisper good morning and nuzzle her neck. Pulling her hair behind her ear, I place a kiss there and see her smile.

The alarm rings and I quickly reach back to shut it off. Mel stirs and mumbles a good morning. I smile. I know how much I hate to get up some days. I'm just about to throw the covers back and get up when she turns towards me and slides her arm across my waist to the small of my back, pulling me to her.

"Give us a kiss, then," she says.

Gladly. Morning's kisses, slow and deliberate, the promise of a day filled with renewed passion. Our tongues collide and tangle together. Her hand is under my top. Fingers crawling across my skin. Touch me, I murmur dreamily. Her hand slides under my waistband and pushes my pajamas out of her way. Although her hand is warm, I shiver. Her touch makes my stomach flutter and I'm instantly aroused. Oh my God. How delicious is sex in the morning? She's taking her own sweet time, driving me crazier with each swirl of her tongue around my clit. My entire body is humming with the red flow of energy. She whispers for me to come. Jesus. My eyes are shut, but lights are flashing behind my lids. Colored lights. Swirling, blending together, then bursting apart, shattering into pure white shards. Grabbing the sheets, I give myself to her.

My breathing eventually returns to normal. I open my eyes to see Mel staring down at me.

"Good morning," she says, now fully awake.

I feel a grin forming. "Indeed, it is."

"What time do you have to be to work?"

"I usually get in around eight or so."

"Well, you'd better get going."

"The alarm just went off. I've got plenty of time."

"Dana, it's already seven twenty."

"What?"

I whip my head around like some damned cartoon character to verify the time. "Shit!" Jumping out of bed and grabbing clean underclothes, I charge into the bathroom.

"Take it easy, you're going to hurt yourself," she says, admonishing me. Unfortunately, it's a moment too late. I've just slammed my thumb in the damned drawer.

"Ow!"

"See?" she calls after me.

I return to the door. "Mel, I've got to leave in less than fifteen minutes if I have any chance at being in the office before eight thirty."

"So you'll be a few minutes late, is that a crime?"

"I hate to be late." I close the door and do a speedy shower, makeup, and toothbrush routine. I start to dry my hair when the bathroom door opens abruptly.

"Hey, none of that, remember?"

"What?"

"You promised you'd wear it natural this week."

"Yeah, but"

"But, nothing. You're conducting a scientific study."

I put the blow dryer away. "Alright, alright."

"Besides, it'll save you time."

"Speaking of which, I've got to run, see you around five."

I'm scurrying through the apartment, hopping from foot to foot, putting on my heels; I gather up my keys and laptop.

"Dana."

"Hmm?"

"Slow down. If you get behind the wheel in such a state, you're going to have an accident."

She takes hold of me and makes me stand still.

"Take a few deep breaths." She waits while I obey her instructions. "That's good. Now, try to relax. The office will still be there if you're a few minutes late. The world is not going to end."

She kisses me, rather thoroughly. "Thank you, I definitely feel calmer now," I say, teasingly sarcastic and slightly out of breath.

"Get going. I'll see you later."

"I've left you the spare key on the kitchen table."

"Go."

"Bye." I start for the door, then turn back. "Good luck on your presentation."

"Thanks."

I go back for what I plan to be a quick kiss, but it quickly turns into a smoldering one.

Mel breaks it off, and wide-eyed, points me in the direction of the door, and saying, "I'll see you tonight."

As much as I'm trying to concentrate while driving in, the trip becomes a blur of warm morning memories, of Melanie and I feeling our way in the darkness towards each other, pressing our mouths together, sleeping in each other's arms. I sigh with contentment.


Descending the basement stairs, I see that Mulder is already at his desk, of course.

"Running a little late, Scully?"

I check my watch. "It's only eight fifty, Mulder. I think that falls within acceptable parameters."

"Oh, I'm not commenting on the time."

"What then?"

"Your hair. It's still damp. You didn't dry it and it's going curly. So, I figured you must be running a little late."

"Actually, no." As I get myself a cup of coffee I fill him in on the experiment, omitting the part Mel plays in it.

"Well, I vote for natural. It's a good look for you."

"You don't think it looks unprofessional?"

"Not at all."

"I don't want to do anything to compromise my being taken seriously."

"Scully, your entire demeanor screams 'no nonsense'. I doubt that your hair is going to get in the way of that."

He chuckles, so do I. "Okay, but I still haven't unveiled the new look to the rest of the Bureau."

"I can't believe you've spent time worrying over this, Scully."

"I wasn't worrying, Mulder. I was simply thinking."

He lets out a belly laugh. My eyebrow goes up instinctively and I feel myself prepare for battle.

"What? Are you laughing at me, Mulder?"

"Never, Scully."

"Then what is it that has you so amused?"

"You, 'simply thinking'; that's a good one, Scully."

I must be slow this morning, but I still don't get it. My face must show my puzzlement.

"You don't think simple thoughts, Scully. You're a deep thinker, you think complex thoughts."

"Thank you, I think."

"You're welcome."

We settle into our daily routine. I find myself watching the clock throughout the day. It seems this day is dragging. My thoughts drift off to Mel and her presentation. I wonder how long something like that lasts. I never even asked her much about it. Well, tonight we'll talk. I check the clock again. It's slowly creeping up onto four o'clock.

Mulder and I look up simultaneously as we hear the elevator ding and someone walking in the hallway. We don't normally get people down here. Skinner once in a while, but these are definitely a woman's footsteps, high heels clicking against the linoleum. We throw a look at each other just as the door pushes open.

"Dana?" I instantly recognize the voice.

"Mel?" I quickly glance over at Mulder. "What are you doing here?"

"I just finished upstairs and thought I could catch a ride home with you rather than taking a cab." She's smiling at me, her eyes warm, locked with mine.

Not wanting to give anything away, I force myself to maintain my usual stoic countenance. But, inside, I'm grinning from ear to ear.

Mulder practically jumps to his feet and Mel notices him for the first time since she entered the office. Yet, still she can't stop watching me. I throw a look in Mulder's direction. She gets the hint.

"Hello," she says, extending her hand. "You must be Mulder."

He's already walked around his desk to where she's standing and is reaching for her hand. "Must I?" He chuckles at his little joke. "And you would be?"

He shakes her hand, holding it a little too long, turning on the charm. She's about to get the full treatment.

"Melanie."

I take note of her response to him. She's friendly and appears somewhat amused.

"And you're Scully's friend?"

"Yes, Mulder, I do have some."

He looks at me as though I'm a minor annoyance and then turns his attention back to Mel. "So, you're from out of town?"

"Boston."

"Are you applying for a position here?"

"Of a sort. I'm interviewing for a consulting position for the new computer software system the FBI is purchasing."

"Did you and Scully go to school together?"

"Actually, no." She turns her head away from Mulder, rolling her eyes. This time I can't help but smile.

"I see," he says, stroking his chin in a gesture reminiscent of Sherlock Holmes. All he needs is a pipe and smoking jacket. "So you met out in Seattle at the conference Scully attended about a couple of months ago?"

"As a matter of fact, yes." She looks at me with a puzzled expression, obviously wondering if I've mentioned her to him.

"I'm a profiler," he declares proudly, by way of explanation.

"I see," she says, revealing a slight smile.

Mulder is too busy being charming to see the true intention behind it.

"It's what I do best. Right, Scully?"

Oh, brother.

"Right, Scully?"

"Right, Mulder."

Mel chuckles. "So, can I hitch a ride with you, Dana?"

"Of course. In fact, I think we'll head out now." I glare at Mulder while I collect my laptop and gun. "Ready?"

"Whenever you are."

Mulder gives it one last shot. "I hope to see you again before you head back to Boston. Will you be in town long?"

"Only through the weekend."

"Maybe we can get toge"

I cut him off. "Good night, Mulder."

As we head out the door, we hear him call after us. "Night, Scully. Night, Melanie."

We stop for a celebratory dinner on the way home and we're still laughing over Mulder's performance as we walk into the apartment.

"He can really turn it on when he wants to," I say.

"God, men."

"Oh, don't get me wrong, he's definitely a good guy. It's just that the women he's been involved with more recently, well, actually since I've known him, have all been of the staple through the navel variety."

"Oh, Dana, really? He's so good looking. Surely he could have anyone he wants."

"I'm sure he could."

"Has he ever put any moves on you?"

"Mulder?"

"Yes, Mulder. Why do you sound so surprised? You're a gorgeous woman, Dana, why wouldn't he?"

"For heaven's sake, Mel."

"Well?"

"This is silly."

"Why? Don't you think he's good looking?"

"I guess so."

"You guess so? Jesus, woman, have you had your eyes closed for the last seven years?"

"What is it you want me to say, Mel?"

"I just want you to tell me if you find him attractive."

"And if I say yes?"

"Nothing. I'd actually think there's something odd if you haven't noticed."

"Well, then, yes."

"See? That wasn't so hard now. No biggie, I was just wondering."

"And how about you, Mel?"

"How about me, what?"

"Do you find him attractive?"

"Yes, very much so. But he's not my type." She sweeps me up into her arms. "Now, you, on the other hand..." She leaves the sentence unfinished as she kisses me till I'm completely breathless.

God, this teasing is going to be the death of me. You think I'd be used to it after seven years of Mulder, but this is different. Buck up, Dana, it's like she said before -- she's only razzing me. I've got to relax and stop being so literal all the time. Sometimes I tend to over-analyze everything.

"So, want to cuddle up and watch some TV?" she asks.

"Sure. Want some coffee or wine or beer?"

"How about a beer?"

I go into the kitchen and re-appear with one for each of us.

"I see you didn't forget about the Mack and Jack."

"No. I found some at the store and bought it special for your visit."

"Aw. That's sweet. Thanks." She motions for me to take a seat next to her on the couch. I hook my leg over hers as she drapes her arm around me, and I lay my head on her shoulder.

"What's on?" I ask.

"Jeopardy. I love that show."

"Me, too."

"I bet you'd kick some butt on that show. Ever think of trying out to be a contestant?"

"Me? No."

"Hmm."

We shout out the answers, trying to beat the contestants, and get annoyed when someone wins by one lousy dollar.

"I hate it when someone does that. Either win big or lose, but don't play those stupid games."

I voice my agreement. We pass the evening pleasantly enough and discuss her feelings on the presentation and plans for tomorrow.

"Will you be back in time for dinner?" I ask.

"Definitely. I told Rachel I'd meet her at her office around ten. That gives us all day to rehash the presentation. Would you like to go out on a date? Say an early dinner and a movie?"

"A date?"

"Dana, just because we're sleeping together doesn't preclude us from dating."

"It just sounds kind of funny, but a nice kind of funny. Anything in particular you'd like to see?"

"No. You choose. Can I call you at the office tomorrow afternoon?"

"Of course. You can call me anytime."

"You seemed a little nervous about me being there today."

"I was just surprised is all."

"Okay, I'll call you and we can set up a time to meet."

Getting into the swing of it, I ask, "Want to go out Friday night?"

"You mean like a date?" She smiles and pinches my arm. "Sure. What do you have in mind"

"Well, I'd like to go dancing, but I'm not familiar with any places that cater to just women."

"They're called Girl Bars. Anyway, leave it to me. I'll ask Rachel. She took me to a great one last time I was in town."

"Is she gay?"

"No, but in her field she meets truckloads of gay people and knows all the best hangs."

"Just what is it that she does again?"

"Advertising."

"And there are lots of gays in that field?"

"Oh, hell, yes," she says, laughing.

"So, what sort of clothes do most people wear to a Girl Bar?"

"People are pretty casual, so wear whatever you like."

"What are you going to wear?"

"I'll probably just throw on my jeans and a t-shirt."

"Okay, that's what I'll wear then, too."

She looks as though she's working up the courage to ask me something.

"Do me a favor?"

"If I can."

"Would you wear something sexy?"

"Sexy? Like what?"

"Do you have any leather pants?"

"Yes."

"Would you wear those with a tight t-shirt?"

I smile at her request. "That would make you happy?"

"Very much so."

"Then consider it done."

"One more thing, please?"

"Yes?" I drawl.

"No bra."

I lean over and trace the outline of her mouth with my thumbs. She sucks in some air. Just before kissing her, I run my tongue over her lips.

"Dana," she moans.

"Hmm?"

"Being here with you is what I imagine heaven to be like."

"I wish we could spend more time together."

"Do you mean that?"

"Yes, of course."

"Well, maybe we can."

I break the embrace. "What do you mean?"

"If I get this job, I'll be taking an apartment down here for the length of the contract."

"How long is the contract?"

"A minimum of six months."

"Six months?" God, to have her here for that long. We could really get to know each other, build the relationship.

"They usually run longer by the time I work with the IT folks and all the training people to get them up to speed. I also act as the liaison between the client and the provider to work out kinks, and assist with needed customization, so it's not unusual for a contract this big to run a year."

Oh, Lord, maybe a full year of having her living in the same town. I tell myself not to get too excited at the prospect just yet. "Do you always get an apartment wherever you have a contract?"

"Yes. It's easier than commuting even short distances and when you're first getting started the client wants you there constantly. This job involves a lot of hand holding and just getting people to relax. There's usually a period of buyer's remorse when the client realizes that they aren't able to just plug and play a new system. It's part of my job to convince them they've made the right decision."

"So, we may be able to spend a lot more time together then?"

"Is that alright with you?"

"Oh, definitely."

"Good, because it's something I'd like as well."

We watch TV for a bit longer while we finish off our beers and then decide to turn in.

"Do you want me to run you to Rachel's tomorrow?"

"No, I'll catch a cab. She's actually not far from your office."

"It's no bother. I can go in late. There's nothing that pressing."

"No. After this morning, I think it best not to upset your schedule. I'll stick with the original plan." She smiles to let me know she's teasing.

"If you insist, but it's really no problem."

"Dana?"

"What?"

"Be quiet and kiss me."

"With pleasure."

And it is. She is so warm and open with her feelings. I envy that. I'm consciously working on opening up more. But it's hard to overcome years of practiced behavior.

I put my head on her shoulder and link our arms together. "Mel?"

"Uh huh."

"Have you ever been in love?"

She looks at me quizzically. "Yes."

I stare at the TV for a while and then ask, "What's it like?"

"Dana, you mean to tell me you've never been in love?"

"I don't think so, not really."

"That surprises the hell out of me."

"Why?"

"Well, I guess I presumed that since you'd been involved with men before, well, it just seemed natural that you'd have been in love somewhere along the line, that's all."

"I think I probably thought I was once or twice, but now I'm not so sure."

"So, what do you think being in love is like?"

I contemplate the question. "I think it's caring deeply about the other person, doing what I can to make them happy, thinking of their feelings. Wanting to be with that one person more than anyone else. Being happy when we're together, slightly miserable when we're apart." I realize how school-girlish that sounds and blush. "Feeling deeply connected. Committed to sticking together through good times and not running away when things get rough." I hesitate. "Does that sound like love to you?"

"Yes, it does," she says, smiling.

I lift my mouth towards hers and she meets me halfway. "God, I love kissing you," I murmur.

"You do, huh?"

"Umm."

"What is it that you love so much about it?"

"I love the way it makes me feel so special. The way your tongue moves and caresses mine. How my body tingles and wants more."

"Do you want more now?"

"Yes." I pause. "I want to make love with you."

"Let's go to bed and I'll try my damnedest to make you tingle some more."

"Oh, I think that's definitely do-able."


"So, why'd you rush out of here so fast yesterday, Scully?"

"We didn't rush out. I was ready to leave."

"Did you drop Melanie off at her hotel?"

"No, Mulder, she is staying with me while she's in town."

"I guess you two really hit it off in Seattle."

"We have a lot in common."

"Two young, attractive, single career women..."

"That's enough, Mulder."

"What I'd say?"

I refuse to be pulled into this childish game of his.

"Scully, would you two like to join me for dinner tonight?"

"Thank you, but we already have plans."

"Well, how about tomorrow night?"

"Sorry." I offer a half-smile.

"It certainly sounds as though you two are enjoying yourselves."

I can barely keep from smiling, if he only knew how much.

"And she goes home this weekend?"

"Yes."

"Maybe if you've got nothing planned for Saturday, we could all go to dinner." Hastily, he adds, "My treat."

"I'm sorry, Mulder. But we've got plans," I lie. There's no way in hell I'm going to share her with Mulder on her last night here. I guess I'm being selfish, but right now I want her all to myself. Later on, when we're more settled into our relationship, I'll share. But for now, I'll allow myself to be stingy.

After lunch, I'm at work on a paper I'm getting ready to present at next month's Women in Law Enforcement Conference. Mulder answers the phone and I know immediately from his tone who's on the other end.

"Oh, hi," he says, taking his feet off his desk and sitting up straighter in his chair.

Watching him is quite a revelation. Rarely having the opportunity to see him action, and in such close proximity to boot, I am mesmerized. I wonder if he realizes that he's preening. Holding the phone against his shoulder, he adjusts his tie. Then he runs his hands through his hair. I lost count after he licked his lips for something like the fifth time. His voice has a familiar quality, as though he's known her for a long time, and it has a little flirty quality to boot.

Having been totally focused on his behaviors, I don't have a clue as to what he's been saying. I must be staring. Suddenly, I become aware that he is trying to get my attention.

Motioning to me, he says, "Here she is now, Melanie," and thrusts the phone in my direction.

I get up to take it from him and can feel him watching me.

"Hi, Mel." I turn away from Mulder, hoping to find a bit of privacy.

"So, is our date still on?"

"Of course. Are you in still at Rachel's?"

"No, we worked for a bit, had lunch, then finished up early this afternoon, and I came back home."

I love that she refers to my apartment as 'home'. It makes me feel as though she's nesting, that she feels comfortable there and is settling in.

She continues, "Should I come in and meet you somewhere?"

"No, I want to change before we go out."

"Okay, what time will you be home?"

"Probably around five thirty. Depends on traffic."

"I'll see you then."

"Bye."

I turn to hang up the phone and find Mulder still staring at me. He doesn't say a word as I return to working on my paper. The rest of the afternoon flies by and soon it's time to leave. Gathering up my laptop and gun, I tell Mulder goodnight and head home.

When I arrive, Mel is waiting, all ready to go. She greets me with a kiss and a hug. God, that's nice. "I wish you could be here every night," I say, smiling.

She grins. "Be careful what you wish for."

"So, are you hungry?"

"Yes, I only had a salad for lunch."

"Well, give me time to shower and change and then we'll go eat."

"Okay. Did you decide on a movie?"

"No, thought we could just go over to the Cineplex after dinner and see what is playing when we get there. Is that alright?"

"Sounds like a plan."

Over dinner we talk about Mel's meeting with Rachel and her input into the presentation.

"I ran her the audio tape I make of every presentation and she was quite pleased with the way it went. She thought the question and answer session went particularly well. So, she gives me hope."

Smiling, I say, "I think it sounds as though you did a fantastic job!"

"Thanks. You wouldn't be a tad biased now, would you?"

I feel myself blush. "I'd better start looking for an apartment for you in my spare time."

We laugh. "Or, you could just stay with me," I offer.

"I think the apartment is the best idea. But that's putting the cart before the horse. There's one thing I learned early in my career; and that's not to get excited until the ink is dry on the contract. But thanks for the offers."

I'm slightly disappointed, but decide it really is better if she has her own space to work out of. My schedule is such that I can be called away in the middle of the night, no need disturbing her.

The bill paid, we're off to the movies. Choosing one we both haven't seen is not a difficult decision, since I haven't been to a movie for well over six months. We stop at the snack bar, grab a soda to split, and head into the dimly lit theater. The movie has been out for a few weeks and there aren't a lot of people here. We sit down towards the back. Hopefully, no one will feel the need to sit right in front of me. Sometimes being short is a curse. Maybe that's why I don't go to the movies all that often. It seems that no matter how many empty seats there are available, someone always seems to think the one directly in front of me is the best seat in the house.

Fortunately, this is not one of those times. I hate getting up and changing seats after I get settled. We sit with our shoulders rubbing together. I wonder if she feels the electricity that we're generating? I look around to see if anyone is sitting behind us, and satisfied that the closest person is well out of visual range in the darkened room, reach over and take her hand. She smiles at me, obviously happy that I've taken the initiative. Her thumb is lightly stroking the top of my hand. Her touch is casually intimate, one of a lover.

Thank heavens the movie is starting. It's all I can do to keep my hands to myself. As hard as I try to focus on the movie, I am totally distracted by her proximity. My mind is running through the catalogue of our lovemaking sessions. I am filled with want for her. I'm getting warmer with each passing minute. I want to kiss her, but I can't even chance giving her a simple peck on the cheek.

She tilts her head so that her mouth is next to my ear. Her breath is sweet from the mint tea we had with dinner. Oh God. All I need to do is turn my head and I can have what I want. I force myself not to look at her; if I do, I don't know that I can resist. I take a few deep breaths to try to calm down.

"Dana, what's wrong?"

"Wrong?"

"You can't sit still."

"Nothing's wrong."

"Then please stop fidgeting, it's very distracting."

"Sorry."

It takes all my energy just to sit quietly. The rest of the movie is a blur. Mel seems to enjoy it, laughing periodically. I chuckle when she does, although I have no idea why I'm supposed to be amused. Finally, the credits begin to roll and we get up to leave.

Outside, the night has cooled off and it feels good to get some fresh air. We go down the block to the parking structure to retrieve the car and I drive home. My hands are gripped tightly on the wheel.

"Are you sure you're alright?" she asks.

"Yes."

"You seem tense. Were you worried someone was watching us?"

If she only knew how loaded that innocent question was. "Yes." It's the truth. I am concerned every time we're out together that we can't behave like a normal couple. No one would think twice about a man and woman kissing or hugging in public. But, I can't risk it and it's not fair.

"Did you see any indication of that?"

"No."

"Is that why you were squirming all over the place?"

I hesitate. "Partly."

"What was the other part?"

"You."

"Me?" She laughs. "What do you mean?"

"The way you were stroking my hand; God, it made me so excited. It was all I could do to keep from kissing you." I pause. "It was because of you that I couldn't sit still."

She reaches over and touches my face. "Dana."

The way she says my name fills me with emotion. It's gentle and sweet, filled with compassion and understanding. It's nice to have someone who makes me feel like a woman, and treats me like more than a designer suit with a gun.

Once we get inside the apartment, she goes to the kitchen and puts on the kettle. I go into the bedroom to change into my pajamas and when I return she has a steaming cup of tea waiting for me on the front room table. She's sitting on the sofa and looks up when I enter the room.

"Come sit next to me," she says.

I do.

She puts down her cup. Taking my hand, she says, "We're alone now."

I nod.

"Still want to kiss me?"

"Very much so."

I ease her back against the couch and lean over her. "You are so incredibly beautiful," I say, stroking her hair back behind her ears. She smiles at me. "I've never felt like this about anyone before and it scares me a little." I search her eyes. "Mulder invited us out for dinner on Saturday, but I told him we already had plans."

She looks at me inquisitively. "I wanted us to spend our last night alone. I want you all to myself. Jesus, Mel, I can't seem to get my fill of you. I want you with me all the time."

She raises her head a bit, stopping just short of my lips, waiting for me. I can't resist any longer. Capturing her mouth, I slowly savor her. She's taught me the wonderful art of kissing; how to use it to build closeness, an intimacy that can be just as emotionally powerful as the actual act of sex.

Tonight, this is all I want. To kiss her till we're out of breath. Whisper endearments to her. Study her eyes and learn some of the secrets she holds there. Touch her gently. Discover what she likes. Let my tongue speak for me.

It's been more than an hour since we got home and we've been on the sofa for most of that time. This is glorious. Without speaking, I've learned volumes. Like how much she enjoys it when I trail kisses up her neck. How she moans when I trace the outline of her ear with my tongue. The way her breathing changes when I'm close, but not touching her. Her soft gasps when I suck on her neck. How she shivers when I nibble on her ear. How her eyes dilate when I take a visual inventory of her body. How she throws her head back when I kiss the tops of her breasts. The way she keeps her eyes open until our lips meet. How heat rolls off of her in waves.

Rising and taking her hand, I say softly, "Bedtime."


While I'm at work, Mel plans to spend the day at the Smithsonian and I'll pick her up there.

"So, Scully, what did you and Melanie do last night?"

"Dinner and a movie."

"What are you doing tonight?"

"Mulder, why all the questions these last couple of days?"

"I'm just interested in what you do when you're not on duty, Agent Scully." He grins, knowing full well that I see right through his attempted smokescreen.

"Look, Mulder, she's already seeing someone, okay?"

He seems a little taken aback. "He's probably one of those dotcom entrepreneurs, or a lawyer. Right?"

I can only chuckle at his suppositions.

"So, tell me, Scully, does she seem happy?"

"Honestly, Mulder."

"Humor me, Scully."

I sigh. "Yes, extremely." I decide to try to soften the blow. "And anyway, I don't think you're her type."

"And what do you know about her type? You haven't even known her that long."

"Well, just from things she's said."

He starts to speak, but I cut him off.

"Enough, Mulder. I'm not going to discuss this any further."

He looks mildly disappointed, but seems to shrug it off well enough.

Burying my nose in a research book, I continue working on my paper.

Before I realize it, it's time to leave.

"Night, Mulder."

Waggling his eyebrows, he says, "Have a good weekend and say hi to Melanie for me."

Amused by his juvenile behavior, I smile.

Mel is waiting for me at our pre-arranged pick up spot. As I pull over to the low lane, she waves to make sure I see her, and hops in when I stop at the curb. On the way home, she tells me about her day and of all the new exhibits that have been added since her last visit to the Smithsonian.

After fighting our way through Friday evening traffic on the Beltway, we arrive home. Since we're not planning on going out till much later, we decide we'll wait on dinner for an hour or so. In the meantime, we have a glass of wine and pass the time pleasantly, chitchatting about all sorts of trivial subjects, girl talk. The kind of thing Missy and I used to do on occasion.

Mel announces, "I think I'll get my shower before dinner."

"Okay, are you hungry? Should I start dinner now?"

"Wait for me to help. I won't be long."

"Take your time. There's no rush."

She gives me a quick kiss before heading into the bedroom.

We are extremely comfortable together. I'm constantly amazed at how everything happened so fast. I guess that's how it is when you find the person you click with. I smile at the thought of her in my bedroom, naked. How did all this happen? I'm not exactly sure, but I do know that I'm happy as a clam.

I head into the kitchen and start taking out the pots and pans we'll need to make dinner. I'm at the sink washing up our morning dishes when there's a sudden shift in the atmosphere. I feel her presence.

"Hey, you, I said to wait for me."

Twisting my head to look at her, I say, "I'm just doing the preliminaries."

She gently brushes the hair off the back of my neck and lets her lips find my skin. She knows how much I love this spot, how sensitive it is for me. I moan a bit and lean back into her arms. God. She quickly turns me away from the sink and kisses me until I'm as wet as my dripping hands. Seduction is a wonderful thing.

As we're kissing, I turn us around so that she's leaning back against the counter; I untie her knotted robe and let it fall loose. Her body is flushed; is it from the heat of the shower or with desire? My hands slip under her bathrobe. Her skin is still warm from her shower. She's soft and silky from the lotion she applied and my hands glide over her. Her nipples go instantly hard when I touch them. She gasps as I squeeze them. I can't help but sigh. Taking her breast in my mouth, I'm again filled with wonder at her beauty. After a bit, she guides my head to her other breast. Her breathing is ragged.

I kneel before her, my tongue traversing her peaks and valleys. My hands push her legs apart and I bury myself in her. She smells just as sweet here as the rest of her body. She moans as my tongue explores her. It doesn't take long before she explodes. I drink up her juices and then rise to kiss her.

"Jesus, Dana. How do you do that?"

"What?"

"Make me so damned horny all the time? You make me feel like some sort of sex maniac."

I smile; satisfied in the knowledge that she's so turned on by me. I kiss her passionately and allow my hands to roam her body. She breaks away.

"You're really trying to kill me here, aren't you?"

"Am I?" I tease, pulling her back to me and nibbling her ear.

"Ummmm. What are you doing, Dana?"

"Doing?" I say, running my hands down to the small of her back.

She gasps as I simultaneously place soft love nips on her shoulder and squeeze her ass.

"Dear God," she moans. "Do it again."

Sliding one hand around to her belly, I send it down further, to the place my mouth was just a short time ago. She's still wet and I'm able to enter her easily. Releasing me, she grips the kitchen counter and whimpers as I start to slowly stroke her. Moving in counterpoint to my thrusts, she forces me in deeper and deeper as my thumb continues to seduce her clit.

Throwing her head back, she yells, "Dana," and surrenders herself to her climax. I adorn her neck with butterfly kisses. Releasing the counter, she again wraps her arms around me and puts our foreheads together. I withdraw from her body and hold her tightly. We stay in that position until her breathing returns to normal.

"Thank you," she whispers, her breath hot and sweet.

"You're quite welcome," I answer, smiling.

"You are so good to me."

"And you are so good for me."

The telephone rings and we very nearly jump, it is so jarring to our heightened senses. I let the answering machine pick it up.

"Scully? If you're home, pick up." There's a pause, then, "Okay, nothing urgent. Enjoy your weekend. See you Monday."

We laugh at the absolute absurdity of the situation. Mulder calling to try to speak to Mel while she's just been fucked by me, twice.

"Now I need to go get another shower before we start dinner."

"Go ahead. I'll be here when you get back."

"Walk me there?"

Arms around each other's waists, we head into the bathroom. As I'm leaving the bedroom, I hear the water beating on the shower curtain.

Before I go back to the kitchen, I stop and put on some music. The situation calls for slow romantic music, so that's what I choose. When Mel comes back from her second shower, I've already started dinner.

"Whatever it is smells good. I'm starving."

"Just tortellini with marinara sauce. Could you please grate the parmesan?"

"Whatever you say. I'm your love slave."

We have another glass of wine with dinner and then do the dishes.

"What time do you want to leave?" I inquire.

"Oh, I don't think we want to get there any before ten thirty or eleven. Things don't really get going until then."

"What do you mean?"

"Only that no one goes to a club early. Most people start filtering in later on in the evening."

"I bow to your superior knowledge of these matters."

Since we're not leaving for another couple hours, we decide to watch some TV to pass the time.

As we're getting ready to go out, I relay to Mel how Mulder has been surreptitiously trying to pump me for information about her for the last two days.

"Well, I guess that means I won't be getting any flowers on my birthday. Thanks." She chuckles.

"Don't worry, I'll send you a big bouquet."

"Awwwww." She grins. "So, you about ready to go?"

"Give me another ten minutes?"

"Okay, I'll be in the front room."

When I appear from the bedroom Mel looks up from a magazine and I swear that when she sees me her mouth drops open.

"Jesus, you look fantastic." She comes over and pulls me to her. "Your hair is so sexy up like that." She nibbles at my neck as if to accentuate her statement.

"Come on," I say. "Let's go check out this club."

When we get there you can almost feel the sidewalk vibrating with the beat of the music. There are a lot of women and a few men waiting in line. We fall in at the end of it. There seem to be a lot of couples, as well as groups of girlfriends out for a fun evening. The age group seems to be between twenty-one and fifty or so. The manner of dress is all over the map, some people really dressed up and others, dressed casually, just as Mel predicted. Within fifteen minutes we are carded and on our way inside. Mel pays the cover and we head up a flight of stairs where we arrive at the bar area. The music is blaring out of the next room.

"Let's get a couple drinks. Beer okay with you?" she asks.

"Fine. Here, take this," I say, pulling cash out of my pocket.

"My treat," she says, planting a kiss on my cheek.

I've staked out a couple of barstools while she's been gone. Returning with our beers, she asks, "Did you see those women in line checking you out?"

I'm surprised. "No." I chuckle.

"I'm serious. Pardon my French, but you are one fine piece of serious ass, Dana."

I can't help laughing out loud. "Right."

"For all your experience as a detective, you just don't have a clue. Look at yourself, woman." She pauses. "Look." She points to a mirrored wall. "Go ahead and try to see yourself from where I'm sitting."

I start at my feet and examine my way up my body. I look at her and shrug.

"Don't you see how wonderfully sexy you are? God, the first time I saw you in Seattle, my heart literally stopped beating. I thought I'd never seen anyone as stunning as you were. And I never thought I'd ever have a chance with you."

I step off the barstool and slowly edge myself towards her. The music is pounding away in the background. All around us women are embracing; some are kissing, some doing more than that. No one seems to care or pay any attention. It's intoxicating, the way everyone seems to feel free enough to just be themselves. We haven't taken our eyes off of each other. I feel liberated by the environment; the music driving me forward. I'd absolutely never do this in a regular club. Pushing her legs apart, I step between them. Her lips quiver beneath mine. Intensifying the pressure, I feel her respond. Hers part first, then mine. Our tongues meet. They know each other. They are on intimate terms. They won't divulge our secret.

Here we stand in the damned bar kissing passionately, our mouths moving this way and that. Miraculously, we each still have hold of our beer.

I break back, still watching her eyes closely. "Jesus," she exclaims, keeping her gaze on me steady. "You constantly surprise me." She smiles broadly. "Come on, you sexy thang."

She leads me to the dance floor. The lights are flashing in a random pattern to the beat of the techno music. Everywhere I look I see women enjoying themselves. Some look as though they've been here a while, some are dancing up a storm, others barely swaying to the beat. Mel and I work our way to a tiny empty piece of floor and start moving to the music. It's transitioned from one of those easily forgettable disco dance mix songs to another, then another, and then another. There seems to be no letup of the thumping heavy bass. I shouldn't be so harsh; it's just that it's not the kind of music I normally chose to listen to. This is good to expose myself to new things.

I suddenly become aware that Mel is behind me when one of her arms snakes around me, her hand resting on my lower abdomen, fingers pointing downward; the other is across my upper chest, just above my breasts, pulling me back and holding me to her body. Using her hands, she's guiding me to get me in synch with her movements. Her hips are thrusting into me and every time she moves her left hand it sneaks a little lower. The lights are flashing, creating images that aren't real. People look disjointed and stark. The harsh light with the blue haze is not kind.

Her lips are on the back of my neck. She's nipping gently across my shoulders. Stopping at my scar, she kisses it, almost reverently. The music is throbbing. People move up close to a friend's ear and still have to yell to be heard. Bodies glisten with sweat. There are women dancing up on platforms. Do they work here? It seems as though most everyone has a drink. Some are smoking, although there was a "No Smoking" sign clearly posted as we entered.

Mel has inched her hand down my body; she presses her fingers between my legs. Astonished, I immediately open my eyes to see if anyone is watching. Apparently not. No one is paying us any mind. They are all caught up in their own activities. The flashing strobe lights make it difficult to actually see anyone or anything for any length of time. I close my eyes to experience the sensations of the music, the movement, and Mel rubbing me. I feel wickedly free. The next song works its way through to my consciousness and catches my attention. The woman isn't really singing as much as she periodically speaks in a sexy, breathy manner. As a matter of fact, she only says a few words throughout the entire song. The beat is hypnotic. I turn around in Mel's arms and lick my way up her neck.

My hands in her hair, sucking on her earlobe, I position my legs around one of hers. We start moving again. The singer is repeating, 'Extremis' over and over again while the music changes beats and different instruments take the forefront. The woman's voice is seductive. I'm so close to Mel that our breasts are rubbing together. I lower myself onto her thigh and start grinding in time to the music. She grasps my head between her hands and kisses me roughly. I like it. It's exciting.

I've located her sartorius, a narrow muscle of the thigh, the longest in the human body, that passes obliquely across the front of the thigh and helps rotate the leg to the position assumed in sitting cross-legged, and squirming against it brings me thrillingly close to orgasm. The woman's voice fills the room, assaulting me from all directions. Closing my eyes, I get swept up in the passion streaming through my body. I open my eyes; Mel is still staring at me, her dark eyes smoldering. She moves her hand between us and pinches my nipple. I throw my head back, climaxing hard, as she holds me tight against her body.

"Let's get out of here for a while," she yells, pulling me off the dance floor and down the stairs toward the exit. Halfway down, we stop abruptly. She pins me against the wall and as she clamps my hands above my head, kisses me passionately. I think I hear someone mumble, 'Get a room', followed by laughter. When we reach the lower landing she thrusts our hands out to be stamped.

Outside, the air hasn't cooled off much from earlier. There's still a line of people waiting to get in. I glance at my watch, eleven fifty; we've only been here a little more than an hour. We parked on a back street and she's hurriedly walking us to the car; opening the passenger door, she motions for me to get in. I think we're going for a ride, but instead she sits down on the doorjamb and takes the seat in her hand.

"Hold on."

Before I can ask what's going on, she adjusts the seat downward into the prone position; then she pushes the seat as far back on the runners as possible. Her hands are all over me. As she roughly pulls my shirt up, it catches on the headrest and my hands are bound there. Since I didn't wear a bra, my bare breasts are fully exposed. As she stares at them, I can see the lust in her eyes; in no time her hungry mouth is on me, nipping, licking and sucking. I'm wet and aching. She keeps chanting my name. Squeezing my breasts together, she switches from one to the other at whim. Ahhhhhhhh. Her fingers tremble as they busy themselves with the button and zipper of my pants. She works her hands under me and starts to lift me up. God, what am I doing?

"Mel." She doesn't respond. I try again, "Mel." When she still doesn't respond, I say, "The light. Turn off the light."

She smiles at me before she reaches up and moves the overhead lever to the off position. Except for the moon's illumination, it is pitch black.

The sound of the music is seeping out of the club and making its way through the night air. Her hunger for me is apparent as she furiously pulls at then pushes my pants out of her way. My clit is convulsing, throbbing for her touch. Hurry. Hurry. I'm so turned on I can hardly breathe.

Ripping at my heels, she tosses them aside so she can remove the final barrier keeping her from me. Climbing into the car, she gets down on her knees between the seat and the dashboard, stretches my legs apart, and quite literally growls. Lifting my right leg over her shoulder, she buries her face in me. Holy Mother of Jesus. I cry out with sheer pleasure. She is amazingly talented. Right now, my reality is hazy. I seem to be floating weightless in space, tethered to the earth only by her tongue. Suddenly, a jolt of electricity shoots through my naked body. I try to grab for her, but my hands can't move from their bound position. The only thing I can do is thrust my cunt up higher, imploring her to take more of me. My bare feet are pushing forcefully against the padded dashboard.

She's sucking on my clit, flicking her tongue, ohhhhh. Without any warning she jams three fingers in me. Jesus, I wasn't ready for that, it hurt. I move my left foot over to the steering wheel to open myself up more. My breathing has quickened with the surprise entrance into my body. I concentrate on relaxing my vaginal muscles; I'm sopping wet, as witnessed by the squishing sounds as her fingers drive in and out of me like a piston. I can't hold off any longer. It's a good thing the car doors are shut because I let out such a scream that no doubt would have awoken the entire neighborhood.

Jesus. She makes me do things. Things good Catholic girls shouldn't even think of. Things I never thought I'd have the nerve to do. Like having sex right here on a damned residential street. Okay, it is dark and late, but still...or that display in the club. Talk about behaving like a dog in heat. But it feels good to be out of control. Do things out of character. Give myself over to the moment. Live. I put myself in dangerous situations all the time. It's exhilarating. I thrive on the adrenaline rush; it reminds me that I'm still alive.

But what if somebody is watching us? I don't doubt that I'm watched periodically. What if now is one of those times? I just put myself in a compromising situation, in more ways than one. What if someone is watching and takes pictures of us here, like this? Jesus. My career would be over. I'd be forced to leave the Bureau. What would I do? I've invested the last seven years there and I may have just thrown it away. And for what? Doing things that are better suited for a bedroom than a public place. Stupid.

Mel grabs the tissues and cleans me up. Like me, I doubt that the car seat will ever be quite the same again either.

"Jesus, Mel. That was fucking incredible. Those had to be the two sexiest acts of lovemaking I've ever engaged in," I say as she releases my shirt from the headrest and slides it back down over my head. Before she hides my breasts from her view, she takes a moment to suck on and lick, ummm, each of them.

Slipping my feet into my pants, she pulls them up my legs. Again, she motions for me to raise my butt off the seat and tugs them up over my hips. I button and zip them up while Mel puts my shoes back on me. I notice that my stomach muscles are a bit achy, no doubt from holding myself up off the car seat for so long.

"I've never met anyone quite like you, Dana."

"I hope that's a good thing."

"Oh, very much so. You just keep unfolding like a flower."

With my hands now free, I pull her to me and we kiss. It's agonizingly long and intense. For the first time I notice that the car windows are steamed up.

"Like that. The things you make me want to do. I would have never in a hundred years have thought that you would let me go down on you in a car on a public street. That's pretty fucking amazing, don't you think?"

"Yes," I say, chuckling.

"And in the club before. Do you know how hot that got me?"

"I believe I just experienced the effect of it first hand."

After a long silence, she asks, "Want to go back in the club?"

"Do you mind if we don't? I think I've had about all the dirty dancing I can handle for tonight."

We laugh and head back towards Georgetown.

"That was some club," I say.

"Did you like it?"

"Immensely. And, well, it certainly was, um, educational."

"Yeah, going to a girl bar can be an eye opener, especially the first time. It's a bit of a culture shock, but in an empowering way, I think. You didn't feel weird or out of place or anything, I hope."

"Quite the opposite. It felt very natural. I've always felt somewhat uncomfortable in regular clubs, like I'm always being sized up, like a piece of beef at auction. But here, I never felt that way, everyone was just having fun."

"You were incredibly wild."

I avert my eyes from her scrutiny.

"I can't remember the last time I was so turned on," she says.

"Really?"

"Well, no, actually I can."

Turning towards me, she smiles as her hand comes to rest on the inside of my thigh, sending chills through me.

"It was Tuesday. When we got back to your apartment and you tore my clothes off and fucked me up against the wall. Don't get me wrong, those pre-dinner hors d'oeuvres tonight were might tasty, not to mention muy caliente, too."

I can't help laughing out loud. "I didn't know you spoke French and Spanish so well."

"You just heard the full extent of my linguistic capabilities."

"So, you like it a little rough, huh?"

"Not all the time, just every once in a while as an unexpected surprise. I find it profoundly arousing."

"I'll file that tidbit away for a later time."

We drive in silence for a few miles. I look at the dashboard, half expecting to see impressions of my feet.

"Do you always dance like that, Dana?"

"Heavens, no! But something about the entire experience tonight, well, it just sort of happened."

"It couldn't have had something to do with your date, could it?"

"Oh, I think she may have been a major factor in the equation. I like this idea of yours."

"And just which idea was that again?"

"The one where even though we're sleeping together, we keep the relationship fresh by going out on dates."

"Oh, yeah, that one. Well, if tonight is any indication of the benefits to be reaped from our dating, I'm all for it."

We pull up in front of the building, but have to park down a half block. It's crispy out now, the air temperature having dropped off drastically in the last half an hour. The truth is, it was probably chilly when we left the club, but I was too excited to notice. Now that the adrenaline has dissipated I'm feeling the cold. I run into the building and reach the front door a split second before Mel.

For no obvious reason, I start giggling. She shushes me and warns against waking up my neighbors. I try to stop, which only makes matters worse. By the time I'm done fumbling with the key and unlock the door, I can barely contain myself and Mel practically pushes me in before closing it behind us. She tells me to go ahead, she'll lock up. I spy the clock on the bedside table; it's one seventeen. I haven't been out this late for ages, not counting the occasional stake out, that is. Thank goodness tomorrow is Saturday. I want to sleep in late and then spend the rest of the day snuggling in bed together.

It isn't but maybe a half minute before Mel has joined me in the bedroom. She flops down backwards onto the bed and moans, "I'm not as young as I used to be. When did that happen?"

"I'm going to run us a bath."

She lifts her head off the bed and grins at me. "Don't you ever get tired?"

While the water is running, I pour in some bath oils and a small amount of matching scented bubbles. Lighting a half dozen candles, I turn off the light. I peel off my clothes and call out to her in a singsong fashion; she appears almost instantly. After looking around at the dimly lit room, she catches my eye. Grinning, she strips and starts to climb in, but I touch her shoulder.

I lay baby kisses on the tops of her breasts. "Me first," I say, using her bare arm to steady myself as I step in.

The water is on the warm side, and I notice that my cunt is extra sensitive to the heat. It takes a moment to adjust to the stinging discomfort, but then it's gone.

I lean against the back of the tub. "Now you." I pat the bubbles.

She tests it with her foot before getting in. I spread my legs for her to wedge in between. We fit together nicely. I gently ease her to me. Pushing her hair aside, I caress her shoulder. She sighs and bends her head to the side. I take the hint and continue my journey up her neck to her ear. I wrap my arms around her warm body.

"You are marvelous," I say.

With her hands on my knees, she slides down and rests her head in the crook of my neck. Her breasts bob up so that her nipples are exposed through the bubbles. Despite the warm water, they are erect and seem to beckoning me. Answering their call, I cup them and she acknowledges her pleasure with a tiny moan. The bath oils have made her body silky and my hands move easily over her. Deliberately, I draw lazy circles around her nipples with my thumbs. She is fantastically beautiful. Her body is taut and lean without having lost its softness. I continue to fondle her breast with one hand, but slide the other down her stomach. I don't go any further, not yet. I have a plan and it includes taking plenty of time. Flexing my inner thigh muscles, I tighten my grip on her; responding, her hands squeeze my knees.

Here we sit, in silence. No words are needed. Our bodies speak volumes.

Absentmindedly, I watch the hot water dripping. I purposely left the tap open to keep the water temperature warm. This is exquisitely decadent. Here I am soaking in the tub, which is one of my favorite things in the world, and I have a woman with me who makes me supremely happy to be alive. I think back to our earlier conversation and wonder if I may actually be falling in love with her.

Mel turns her head and lifts her mouth up to me. I move my lips close to her, but don't accept her offer. She lifts up a bit more; still I resist. It's hard, but I stick with the plan. What must she think? Just as she's about to turn away, I capture her bottom lip with my teeth and pull it into my mouth, sucking on it while I run my tongue across it. Her tongue meets mine and I release my teeth. Instead, I press into her and devour her waiting mouth.

Her desire is building. So is mine. Pinching and tugging on her breast, I slide my hand further down her stomach and slip it between her legs. She whimpers when I won't touch her. I stroke her inner thighs, getting tantalizingly closer to her clit each time, but never allowing myself to touch it. She moves her hands to my thighs and squeezes them forcefully, her body language telling me precisely what it is she wants. Her breathing is becoming uneven. She turns her head away from me. Her neck is so enticing; I must take a small bite.

I don't know how much longer I can stick to the plan. It was meant to drive her to distraction, but is having the same effect on me. I suck hard on her neck, knowing she will be bruised. She's mine; I've just marked her. Everyone who sees it will know that she belongs to someone and they should stay away, but no one will be aware of who that someone is. That will be our secret. I massage her tender skin with my lips.

She's clasped her hand around my wrist and is trying to guide my hand to the spot where her legs meet. She's strong, but I'm determined. After a few moments' struggle, she realizes the futility and releases her grip. When she surrenders, I give her what she's been begging for. I slide my hand up and touch her.

"Oh, God, yes," she sighs.

Her body relaxes as I push between her folds and massage her. Her head drops and she kisses my arm that is still around her upper body. Each stroke takes me closer to her opening. Eventually, my finger starts to enter her, a little deeper with each stroke, but I always withdraw it and send it back up to her passion-enlarged clit. She groans and begs me for more. I tell her to kiss me and using my tongue in unison with my finger, push it into her mouth and then pull it out.

In between gasps, she says, "Now, Dana. Now!"

I push two fingers up past her pelvic bone, into the source of her frantic desire. She throbbing and her muscles are clenching in a rhythmic movement. I've got her on the edge. Sinking my teeth into her shoulder, she comes hard. Her sporadic movements have the water threatening to slosh onto the bathroom floor. Her fingernails are digging into my thighs. She clamps her legs shut, trapping my hand, not willing to let me escape from her this time.

She gives herself over to her ecstasy while I hold her. God, that was so magnificent. I'm glad I stuck with the plan. She relaxes her grip on me, but I don't leave her. Instead, I continue to submerge my fingers in her, pushing on her g-spot, prolonging the sensations as long as her cunt is pulsating. Her breathing is just now returning to normal. She turns her head, and opening her eyes slightly, gives me a big grin to convey her obvious satisfaction.

"Happy?" I ask.

"Ecstatic."

The water is cooling off so I reach over her and turn off the faucet.

"Ready to get out?"

"Hmmm."

We take turns drying each other off. I blow out the candles and we go to bed.

I wrap myself around her still flushed body, which emits a faint lavender scent.

The late hour coupled with the warm bath and all the sex have left us both exhausted. I am just about to drift off when she speaks.

"Dana?" she says, her voice dream-like.

"Hmm?"

"Remember when you asked me if I'd ever been in love?"

"Uh huh."

She turns toward me and begins stroking my hair.

"Open your eyes, please." She waits while I do. "Well, I am again."

I'm instantly alert. It's a surprising admission and one I'm not ready to make yet, at least out loud. What do I do now? I don't want to hurt her feelings by not returning the sentiment, what should I say? She obviously senses my hesitancy.

"Mel, I--"

"It doesn't require a response. I just wanted to tell you how I feel."

"Thank you." I say, meaning to express my gratitude for her declaration of love, as well as her acknowledgement of my feelings.

"You've made me as happy as I've ever been, Dana. I think of you and I can't help smiling." She kisses my cheek. "Everything about you brings me immense joy," she whispers.

We snuggle in each other's arms for a while; our eyes long closed, I sigh into her hair, "Sleep well."


"How about we just go to one of the local spots and get a pub lunch?"

"That works. Whatever you want is fine with me," she says, her mouth outlined in toothpaste foam.

She turns back to the sink to finish brushing her teeth.

"Mel?"

"Uh huh?"

"I'm glad you're here."

She rinses her mouth out and turns and flashes me a big smile. "Me, too."

I leave briefly and return with my clothes; we cross paths in the doorway. I hurry through my shower and dressing so that I can get back to her.

"Do we need to drive or can we walk to the pub?"

"We can walk, it's only a quarter of a mile or so. You up for it?"

"Absolutely."

I grab my keys and lock the door behind us.

Out on the street, Mel reaches for my hand. I pull it away.

"What's the matter?"

"I, I don't think I'm quite ready for that."

"Okay."

Hurriedly, I add, "Not that I don't want to, but--"

"I said, okay, Dana."

"Don't be angry."

"I'm not. Remember, I was the one who said we'd take it slow and give you time to work into this."

The weather has turned a bit by the time we reach the pub, so we settle for one of the booths inside. There's a local band playing and it's crowded and kind of noisy.

"This was a great suggestion. I like a place with lots of character. Do you come here often?"

"Not regularly, maybe a couple times a month or not for months on end. A lot depends on my work schedule."

I hear my name and look up to see Jay. He and I went out briefly after I first moved to the neighborhood, and although we didn't hit it off, we've remained friendly. Whenever I see him, he usually buys me a drink and we have a dance or two and catch up.

"Oh, hi."

Jay looks at Mel, awaiting an introduction. So I do the honors. He motions for me to scoot over so he can join us. Looking at Mel, I hesitate, but then acquiesce.

"So, I haven't seen you in here for a while, Dana. Been keeping busy?"

"Yes."

He shoots a glance at Mel. "Business or pleasure?"

"Business."

"Oh, I thought maybe you'd met someone since you hadn't been around lately."

I don't like the direction this conversation is going. I smile. "It was good seeing you again, but you'll excuse us, won't you, Jay? We were just about to order."

"Uh, yeah, sure. It was good seeing you again, Dana. Nice to meet you, Mel."

We both nod and smile at him as he departs.

"Sorry about that. He's nice enough, but he can be a bit boorish at times."

"Don't worry about it."

We place our orders and start to talk.

"Dana, did you notice how he thought maybe we were a couple?"

"Yes."

"Is that why you gave him the bum's rush?"

"No. I'm starving and I didn't feel like making small talk."

"You're sure that's all it was?"

"Yes, that's all. What are you insinuating, Mel?"

"Only that maybe his observation hit a little too close to home for you."

"Meaning?"

"Meaning, that if you'd been here with a man you'd recently become involved with, you probably wouldn't have been as sensitive about Jay's comments. Or, for that matter, you wouldn't have thought twice about holding hands while you walked down the street."

"That's absurd."

"Is it? I don't think it misses the mark by too much."

"Why are you doing this?"

"I just want you to be honest with yourself."

"Thank you very much for being so concerned about my self-actualization." Shit. That sounded bitchy as hell.

She doesn't say another word. The server brings our food and we eat in silence. Finally, I can't stand it any longer.

"Look, Mel. There are things about me that I haven't told you."

"I don't doubt that for a second."

I clear my throat. "At the risk of sounding paranoid, there are people who would like nothing better than to discredit me in any way they can and get me off the X-Files."

"Why is that?"

"Because Mulder and I are a thorn in their sides. I'll explain it all to you some time. But, please know that I have to keep up appearances. I can't afford any question of impropriety or a hint of a scandal."

She's stopped eating and is staring at me from across the table. "And being with me would be a scandal?"

I've obviously hurt her feelings. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean that how it sounded. What I meant is that these people are looking for anything they can use to discredit me. And, given where I work, I'm afraid our involvement could be used to compromise me. They aren't above threatening to expose us unless I leave the Bureau." I think it's prudent that I not mention their past record of actual physical harm to Mulder and myself and our family members.

"Are you serious?"

"I'm afraid so."

"Well, the last thing I want is to be the cause of you losing your job."

I try to smile.

"So, there will be no public displays of affection," she says. Then smiling, she adds, "Other than at airports, of course."

"Of course." I smile back. "Mel, you don't have any idea how hard this is for me."

"Oh, I think I do. All I want right now is to hold you in my arms and tell you it's going to be all right, but I can't. That's not so easy for me either, Dana."

"I'm sorry."

"No need to be. If it's a question of jeopardizing your career, then there's really no other way."

"Thank you for understanding."

"I was right when I said you were the most interesting woman I've met. You are just full of surprises. Obviously, they're not all pleasant. I want to know more about these people."

"I promise, but not here."

We both peck at our food.

"Have they tried to physically harm you before?"

"Yes."

"My God," she whispers.

We are going through the motions of appearing to eat, pushing our food around our plates; the music has stopped.

"Do you think your house is bugged?"

"No. I have friends that come over periodically and run tests. So far, they've found nothing."

"Well, that's a relief. At least when we're inside you don't have to worry."

I look at her intently. "God, I want to touch you."

"Can I hold your hand?" She asks, moving her arm underneath the table.

I nod, and looking around, casually reach under and find her hand waiting. The enormous injustice of the situation is too much. She squeezes it reassuringly.

"Dana, honey, don't cry."

"I'm not."

"Hey, I'm sitting right here. I can see the sadness and the way you're tearing up."

"I'm fine," I say, swiping at my eyes.

"Do you want to leave?"

I shake my head and excuse myself. Walking briskly to the bathroom, I lock the door behind me and lean against the wall. It takes all my willpower to not give in to the anger and sadness. After a number of minutes, I go back out to find Mel waiting by the door.

She looks at me, but says nothing until we get outside.

"Hey, it's starting to drizzle, why don't we forget the long walk and just go back home?"

I'm glad the weatherman was wrong; the falling rain provides the perfect camouflage for my tears.

We say nothing the entire trip. When we reach our destination, Mel takes the keys from me and opens the door. Ushering me in, she helps me out of my wet jacket and then removes her own.

Pulling me into an embrace, she whispers, "You're safe now." Lifting my chin, she kisses me gently, clearly intending to set me at ease.

"Are you cold? Let me fix you a cup of tea," she offers.

"I'm fine, thank you."

"Sit down, I'll get you a blanket."

"I said I'm fine."

"Well, I'm a little chilly, how about I put on the fire?"

"I know what you're doing."

"Doing?"

"You're trying to make everything all better with a cup of tea and a blanket." I sigh. "Unfortunately, it's not that simple."

"Okay, I give, I'm concerned about you, sue me. But, the fact remains that you feel cold and you're trembling. You need to get warm."

Rummaging through the top of the front room closet, she asks, "Where do you keep your extra blankets?"

"In the bedroom closet."

She goes in and gets one. "Now sit down on the couch. Here, give me your shoes and socks. Do you want to change into a pair of sweats? Are your clothes wet?"

"I'm fine."

"You say that a lot. Is it ever true?"

"What?"

"Ever notice how everyone has their own special catch phrase they use to keep people at arm's distance? I've noticed your favorite seems to be 'I'm fine'. So, tell me, is it ever true or is it just an automatic response?"

I lift my feet onto the couch and she tucks the blanket around my legs.

"It's true, sometimes."

"Is now one of those times?"

I hesitate. "No."

"So, why can't you just tell me the truth?"

"I wasn't lying to you." For some reason, I feel the need to defend myself.

"That's debatable."

The conversation stops while Mel goes into the kitchen to put the kettle on, leaving me to my own thoughts. I debate with myself as to what and how much I should tell her. And where do I start? My abduction? Emily? Melissa? Mulder rescuing me from the alien ship? Returning, she hands me a cup with steam wafting over the rim; I have to blow it away before I can take a sip. It's so hot it burns the tender skin on the roof of my mouth.

"Dana, you made me a promise that you'd never lie to me."

"I know."

She sits down next to me.

"So why did you?"

"I'm so used to hiding my feelings, keeping up a strong appearance, that it's more of a habit than a lie."

Mel sips her tea. "Do you say 'I'm fine' to your partner, too?"

"Yes."

"And he lets you get away with that?"

"We, we have an understanding."

"Which is?"

"I say 'I'm fine' and he believes me."

"Does he really?"

"I don't know."

"Dana, you've been partners for what, seven years now? And you don't know if he really believes you?"

"It's complicated. We each have our own coping mechanisms. This is mine."

"I see."

"It helps me to stay on track."

"And what would happen if you actually said how you really felt instead of using your coping mechanism?"

I wince at the prospect. "Sometimes it's the only thing that gets me through the bad times and allows me to keep going."

"Dana, this is not work; you and I are personal." She turns my face towards her. "Let me know you, Dana. Be honest with me. I won't run away. I promise."

Oh, God, if it could only be so. "There's so much I've never told anyone. But, I want that, badly." I'm tired of hiding my feelings all the time, always trying to hold it together. I know that sometimes a good cry is just what I need, but I deny myself even that out of fear that if I once give in, even a little bit, I will lose complete control. Sometimes the hurt and ache is so overwhelming I'm even afraid that I'm on the verge of losing my mind.

"Okay, then. That's settled. From now on, I'm your sounding board, good or bad, doesn't matter, right?" She leans over and kisses me. I nod and kiss her back. "Are you warmed up now?"

"Uh huh."

"So, want to watch a movie or have a game of cards or how about a puzzle? I remember growing up that on rainy days my mom would always pull out the puzzles when it rained. And she would fix me hot cocoa with floating baby marshmallows."

I can't help but smile at her fond childhood remembrance.

"Are you an only child?"

"Yes. Actually, it was always just mom and I. How about you?"

"Well, I have an older brother, Bill, and a younger one, Charlie."

"So you're a middle child?"

"No, actually I had an older sister, but she died a few years back."

"I'm sorry. Were you close?"

"Fairly."

"Are your parents still living?"

"My dad died seven years ago, but my mom doesn't live too far away. Yours?"

"No, mom passed away about eight years ago."

"I'm sorry."

"I still miss her, sometimes more than others."

"I know that feeling."

We pass the late afternoon with a warm fire, game of cards, and two bottles of wine. Throughout the afternoon and evening, I tell her some things about the Consortium and the effect that they have had on both Mulder and my lives. She is astonished, as well as alarmed, and repeatedly says that she can't believe these things happen. She comforts me, holds me, rocks me, and strokes my hair when I start to cry.

We talk more than play cards and by early evening we decide we aren't going out anywhere, so we change into our pajamas.

"Having you here is so nice," I say.

"I was thinking the same thing." Mel covers her mouth as she yawns.

"Sleepy?"

"Uh huh. Guess that wine and fire mellowed me out."

"It's nearly eleven. Want to go to bed?"

"Only if you'll go with me."

I get up and clear the empty bottles and glasses off the table.

"I'm going to go use the bathroom. See you in a few."

How lucky am I to have her in my life? It's quite obvious that she's not going to put up with me being distant or keeping things to myself. That's a good thing though. I've locked myself away from people for too long. I need to be more open and spontaneous and Mel seems to be able to pull that out of me. I suddenly realize that I'm standing at the sink smiling. My next thought is that I'm happy. Despite the minor confrontations we've had, I'm truly happy.

Walking through the front room, I check the door locks and turn out the light. When I arrive, Mel is already in bed. Her eyes are closed and she looks peacefully calm. I make a quick detour to the bathroom. Climbing into bed, her body heat has already warmed up the sheets. I check the clock and turn out the light and get settled in. The moon is full and is shining through the curtains, illuminating the room in soft light.

"Did you have your friends run a background check on me before you came up to Boston?" she asks.

"I thought you were asleep."

"No, just waiting for you to come to bed." She props herself up on her elbow. "So, did you?"

"No, I did it myself."

"I see."

"Mel, I can't be too careful. I thought I explained."

"You did, but it's a little disconcerting is all. How did you do it?"

"When the FBI accepted your proposal for the consulting job, they ran a thorough background check on you. It's procedure. I just looked at it."

"What did you find out?"

"Nothing. You're clean as a whistle."

"Well, that's good to know."

"I'm sorry that I had to do that."

"I would've answered any of your questions, Dana."

"Yes, I know that now. But before, I...I just had to be sure. Believe me, I hated having to do it."

"I guess it's understandable, given the circumstances. It just seems like such an invasion of privacy is all."

"I'm sorry."

"Forget it. I know you had no choice. If these Consortium people are as ruthless as you say, then you have to be extremely careful."

She leans over me, and although she stares into my eyes for a long time, says nothing. I see the soft sparkling of moonlight in her eyes, pull her to me and kiss her with all the tenderness I can muster. She returns my affections in kind and then lies back down next to me. I take her hand under the covers and we twine our fingers together.

Eventually, she speaks the words I've been dreading. "I have to go home tomorrow."

"I know," I whisper, hoping my voice doesn't betray my despair.

"I've got to get back to Boston. I have other accounts to check on."

"When will you hear about the FBI job?"

"These things take time. The larger the organization, the longer decisions take. Everybody and their brother has to sign off on the proposal. God forbid that one person in the chain is out sick or on vacation, the entire process screeches to a halt till they return."

"So, what's your best guess as to when you'll hear?"

"Well, after the presentation on Wednesday, they indicated that it'd be at least three weeks; but, I think that's generously optimistic, and I wouldn't be surprised for it to take at least twice that or more. But they will notify me by mail of their decision, either way."

"How many more candidates are there?"

"Oh, I'd guess that since this is the third round, they've probably narrowed it down to probably three."

"So, the odds are good then, right?"

"Right. But you never know what exactly will tip the tables in your favor. Could be that all things being equal, the interviewers liked the color of my suit that day."

I laugh. "You're not serious."

"Afraid so. It can come down to something as simple as that. That's why it's so important that everything be just so when you make the pitch."

"And that's why you use Rachel?"

"Exactly. She's got a Masters in psychology, and she's in advertising. She knows how to package the product; in this case, me. It's never anything tangible that you can point to and say that was the deciding factor, but I'm sure her ideas have helped me to land accounts before."

"Sounds like a good friend."

"Definitely."

We lie in silence. I don't want to have to ask this. "What time is your flight?"

"Four forty-five."

"In the afternoon?"

She chuckles. "Yes, in the afternoon, silly."

I squeeze her hand. "Mel?"

"Hmm?"

Snuggling under the blanket, I'm so happy. She is exactly what I've been searching for in my life.

"You were right earlier," I confess.

"About what?"

"About how if I'd been with a man, I wouldn't have hesitated for a moment to take your hand when we were walking to the pub."

"Oh."

"It's all so new. I'll still need time to adjust, but I'll get there. I promise."

"I know you will. I have the utmost faith in your ability to do whatever you put your mind to."

"Don't tease me about this, please."

"I'm not teasing. I'm dead serious. I think it's safe to say you are single-minded when it comes to things that deeply concern you."

We lie in silence for a while, just enjoying the comfort of having the other near.

"When are we going to see each other again?" I ask.

"Can you come up next weekend?"

"Maybe. It depends on how the week goes or if we have to be out of town. I'll know better later in the week."

"I hope you can. Nothing would give me more pleasure than to spend the weekend with you," she says, lifting my hand and placing a kiss on my knuckles.

"Me either. But won't you have to work to catch up on things since you've been away?"

"I kind of doubt it. My staff handles most of the day to day stuff which allows me to concentrate on the big picture."

"The big picture?"

"Soliciting clients, making presentations, and landing accounts."

"It's good to have such a competent staff that you can rely on."

"Yeah, we work well together."

"Do they know you're gay?"

"Oh, sure; but it doesn't matter to them, just as their personal sex lives are none of my business. I want them to be happy and they want the same for me."

"That's sounds like a very nurturing environment."

"They're a great bunch of people. Sooner or later, you'll meet them."

"And you'll have to meet my family."

She groans.

"What's wrong?"

"Oh, these initial introductions to families and friends can sometimes be rough. I mean on my side, there is no family to consider; and my friends are accepting of my girlfriends. They've only ever known me as gay, but you...it'll be different for you."

"I'm not relishing it, especially my brother, Bill."

"Well, I'm not Mulder. At least I've got that going for me."

We chuckle and snuggle closer.

"Don't feel as though you have to tell them right away, Dana. There's no rush."

I take heart in her intimation that we're going to be together for a long while.

"I know it's going to be hard; it's got to be the right time. God knows when that will be though. It'll take some planning."

"You'll figure it out. Let me know if I can help."

She kisses me lightly.

"Let's get some sleep now," she says, trying to stifle another yawn.

I turn onto my side, she spoons around me, her warm breath rhythmically whispering against the nape of my neck, and sending tingles throughout my body. Grasping her hand, I pull it to rest against my heart. She snuggles closer and lightly presses her lips against my neck.

As I close my eyes, a streetlight flickers and a car engine revs. Getting caught up in the cadence of Mel's even breathing, I fall asleep.


"This morning was nothing short of wonderful," she says.

I take a moment to stop and hug her as we're preparing to leave. "Yes, it was."

We spent the entire morning in bed, waking up late, making love, dozing, cuddling, talking, and then making love again. Finally, getting out of bed close to noon, we showered together, touching and mapping each other's body, burning images into our memory. We chat over a light lunch. It's obvious we both realize that this may be the last time we'll be together for a while, this upcoming weekend visit not at all certain.

At the airport, our good-bye is subdued. As agreed, we can show affection in this situation. So, we hold hands, hug and kiss, ever so briefly. No one must suspect that we are more than friends seeing one or the other of us off at the airport. Our behavior must raise no suspicions.

We agree to talk during the week. "I wish there was someway--"

"Dana."

"It's just so incredibly..." I pause, not wanting to get emotional.

"I know. But we'll be together soon. Don't worry. Keep busy. That's what I plan to do."

Her plane is called for boarding.

"I love you, Dana."

She turns and heads toward the ramp to her plane. I want to go after her. Make her stay. Go with her. My feet are as heavy as boulders. My heart is beating too fast. I feel flush. My breathing is shallow. I'm light-headed and suffering a slight wave of vertigo. I need to sit down, but force myself to smile and wave as she disappears. Once she's gone, I sink backwards into an empty chair. Placing my hand over my face, I force myself to take slow, deep breaths to fight off the symptoms of what I diagnose as an anxiety attack.

Someone approaches and asks me if I'm all right. Yes, thanks, I'm fine. They leave.

I'm alone, again.

THE END

FEEDBACK? I'D LOVE TO HEAR FROM YOU! X-File_Addict@msn.com



Title: The Truth Comes Out
Author: ScullyFu
E-Mail: X-File_Addict@msn.com
Posted: 4/5/01
Archives: Spookies, Gossamer, Ephemeral are okay. Others, please ask. Spoilers: There are a couple of minor mentions in passing. Rating: NC-17
Classification: ScullySlash. Scully POV. Disclaimer: They're not mine. CC, 1013 and Fox have the sole rights to their existence. Dammit! Summary: Mel gets the job!
Thanks to Rochel. Her dedicated attention to grammar and insight into character motivation were of immeasurable importance to the presentation of this story in its finished form. Note: This is the sixth in the series and falls between "The Visit" and the start of the "Beach Blanket Bingo" trilogy. At this point in the series, I think it is necessary for you to have some background information from the other stories set in the Beach Blanket Bingo Universe. But, if you only have time for one, I'd suggest "First Contact" to get you up to speed. But all the stories are relatively short, so if you want to read them to get caught up, please, be my guest. Go here: http://scullyfu.populli.net/

I'm going fast as I can, please don't make me rush This feeling's coming on way too fast
I'll tell you all of the things that you'll never forget But I'm not ready to say I love you yet ----Great Big Sea


"So, you think you can stand me being around full time?"

"You got it?" I ask excitedly.

"Yep," she says matter-of-factly.

"When do you start?"

"In a few weeks after the backup system has been implemented, the new software is loaded, and some preliminary tests are run," she explains.

"I was getting nervous; it seemed to be taking so long."

"Well, to tell you the truth, even I never expected their decision to take nearly three months."

"God, I can't wait for you to be here," I whisper, a longing quality creeping into my voice. Bracing myself up against the counter, I realize how excited I feel and yet weak at the same time, just from hearing the news of her arrival.

"Me, either," she says, her voice mimicking my own edgy desperation.

"When are you coming down?"

"Oh, I'm not sure, honey. I have lots to organize before I leave Boston."

"Well, you'll have to go apartment hunting some time soon. Right?"

"Actually, I was thinking of getting an agent."

"What do you mean?" I ask, surprised by the proposition.

"Someone who would find me an apartment or house based on the criteria I provide."

"But, why do you need one?"

"Mostly because of the time involved. I've been to D.C. a number of times, Dana, but never with the intent of finding housing. So, I thought it would be easier this way. Let someone who's familiar with the area do the grunt work and then I'll make the final decision."

"I could do the grunt work." I'm a little disappointed she's not involving me in the process. I thought she'd let me help.

"I appreciate the offer, baby, but you've got a full schedule as it is, you certainly don't need me adding any more to your limited down time."

"I'd be happy to do it for you." I hope my voice doesn't give me away.

"I know, honey. But really, I don't want to burden you," she says soothingly.

There's a pause while I decide whether to press my offer. She's not trying to cut me out; she's being thoughtful. "Okay," I say. "We'll do it your way."

"Thank you. But, I'll tell you what you could do for me."

"Name it," I say eagerly.

"Can I give the agent your number as a local contact?" she asks. "That way if she finds something and I'm not able to get away you could go look at it for me and do a yea or nay?"

"Definitely." I pause. "Thank you for letting me be part of the decision."

"Hey, I trust your judgement." Her voice turns sultry. "And, you definitely know what I like. Speaking of which--"

Chuckling, I cup my hand around the mouthpiece and say, "Behave, I'm at work."

"You're not alone?"

I throw a quick glance Mulder's direction. He's trying to look busy, but I can feel him watching me. "That's correct."

"Then I won't tell you," she says in that teasing manner of hers.

"Tell me what?"

"Okay, just remember this is your idea." I can almost see her smile. "Right now I'd like to kiss you madly and touch those special spots on your hot little body. You know: the ones that make you melt like butter on a blistering summer's day."

"Stop it," I say with a giggle.

Mel starts to speak again, but I interrupt her with a low warning, "I mean it; not now."


As I turn to leave the confines of the back room, I realize Mulder has been within earshot of my end of the conversation this entire time. How much did he hear? Did I say anything to give away Mel's identity? I don't think so. No doubt, I'll find out in a moment; he looks like he's working up to something. He's twirling his pencil end-on-end nonchalantly, as though speaking to me is almost an afterthought.

"So, Scully, this is a first. I don't think I've ever actually heard you giggle or seen you blush before, at least not at the same time."

Here it comes.

"You've been holding out on me."

He really doesn't expect me to respond, does he?

"I thought you've seemed different lately."

Okay, what the hell is he getting at?

He stops playing with his pencil and sits forward in his chair. "You've been awfully cheerful lately; although, I've noticed a fluctuation in that phenomena as well." He appears to be pondering over his perceived evidence and seems to make a connection. "Yes, now it makes sense. You've been happy when your friend is in town and then you revert to your usual stoic self when he's not."

'He'. Mulder said 'he'. His assumption my friend is a male will make life easier, knowing he doesn't suspect Mel.

"C'mon, Scully. You can tell me. Give."

"Mulder, I am not going to discuss my private life."

"Oh, so it seems there is a private life to discuss." He sticks the pencil behind his ear.

"Drop it."

He gets up from his desk and saunters over to where I'm sitting. Standing over me, he smiles, probably hoping to intimidate me. He's seen me in action with much more imposing authority types than himself and should know by now this tactic is not going to work.

Wearing his best boyish grin, he says, "Why, Scully? I'm happy that you've found someone. I'd just like a few details; that's all."

"Mulder, I am not going to discuss my sex life with you; if that's what you're getting at."

"Now, Scully, did I say anything about your sex life?" he asks, all feigned seriousness.

Dammit. "Well, no."

"But, since you brought it up, how is--?"

"Shut up, Mulder."

He laughs and goes back to his chair.

After a few moments of blessed silence, he pipes up with, "So, just tell me if you are seeing someone."

"Oh, for heaven's sake."

"Just tell me."

"You really are exasperating, you know that, don't you?"

"If you don't want to say it out loud, just nod."

"For God's sake. Yes. Yes, Mulder, I'm seeing someone."

Unlike me, he's grinning from ear to ear. It's obvious he's happy with himself; he's goaded me into revealing something I didn't want to tell him.

"So, that explains all the times you've flown out of here at five and come into the office just a little bit late the next morning; or, the trips out of town on the weekends; oh, lets not forget the flower deliveries; and the smiles and laughs." He actually stops to take a breath. "Not to mention the way you usually cut your phone calls short when I enter the office. Yes, it all makes sense now."

I sigh with the tediousness of it.

Sensing he's on to something, he leans forward in his chair. "How long has this been going on?"

"Really, Mulder."

"I'd like to know. See if it fits in with my observations."

"If I tell you, will you please stop pestering me?"

"Yes."

"About five months."

"Five months?" He sounds astounded. This doesn't seem to fit with his equation. Score one for me.

"About."

"What does he do?"

"Mulder, you promised."

"Just one more question."

"No."

"Come on, just one."

"I said no. End of discussion."

Throughout the rest of the day, I catch him looking at me with the slightest of smiles on his lips. Finally, it's time to leave. Actually, escape is a better word for what I'm feeling.


The real estate agent called me at work today saying she had found the most wonderful house. Mel said she preferred a house, but was willing to settle for an apartment or condo in a small complex. The agent informed me she had spoken to Mel; she wasn't able to fly down, but had suggested calling me and asking me to go take a look. I have power of attorney for this particular transaction and Mel has worked it out with the agent so that if I decide a place is right, she is to consider it a done deal.

God, it's only been about five months since we first met, and here I am making big decisions for her. Since we got together life hasn't been the same. Mulder's right. I have been happy, incredibly so. I feel renewed. Life has new meaning and I have something to look forward to again.

Tonight, after work, I met the agent and she showed me the perfect place. The minute I drove up I had a good feeling. Once inside, I looked around and was convinced. I wrote the agent the deposit check and signed the lease. It is charming and fits in with all Mel's criteria. She said she wanted a one or two bedroom with a fireplace, modern kitchen, separate dining room, and lots of windows for natural light and airflow. I told her she'd definitely want air conditioning for when it's hot and muggy.

Although she doesn't watch a lot of TV, she still wanted cable hookup for the high speed Internet access for her computer, and she was adamant about off street parking. She wanted to be near a park, to keep up her normal running routine. It had to have easy access to the freeway and stores. Most importantly, she needed a six months lease with an option to go month to month after that for as long as she needs to remain in D.C.

It's an older place, a well-maintained single family dwelling unit. So the only thing that's attached is the garage: no possible noisy neighbors above, below, or on the sides. The cozy one bedroom has a loft and there's a fireplace on both floors, very romantic. God, I wish she were here. Seeing this place and knowing how much she'll love it only makes me miss her more.

The last time we were together was over a month ago. Our schedules just haven't meshed. She's been busy tying up loose ends before the move; and I've been out of town on work three weekends in a row. We've talked on the phone every couple of nights, but it's not the same. What could ever take the place of her soft lips on mine? Her caressing hands? Her body urging mine to experience things I'd never dreamt even existed? Falling asleep in the safety of each other's arms, sweaty and sated.

When she gets here we'll have to work out some sort of schedule to make sure we see each other. Although I know its best for her to have her own space, I wish she could just stay with me. There's so much I want to do with her. We can go out on dates. I hope she has time. I don't know just what sort of hours she'll be keeping; but I can't imagine she'd work past six or seven in the evenings.

The phone startles me.

"Hi, honey. How'd the house hunting go?" she asks cheerfully.

"Hi. I just got home and was about to call to tell you I signed the lease."

"You did?" she says, sounding surprised. "That was fast."

"Yes, it was too good to pass up."

I tell her all about the place.

"It sounds great. I can hardly wait to see it for myself. Are you free this weekend?"

I feel my heart quicken at the prospect of seeing her. "I think so. Are you able to come down?"

"Uh huh. Maybe we could go furniture shopping on Saturday."

"Sure."

"Followed by dinner out?"

"I'd like that." There's silence for a moment.

"Mel, I miss you badly."

"Me, too."

"It's going to be good having you here, so close."

"I'm looking forward to us spending a lot of time together."

Now that I know she's coming down this weekend I miss her that much more. Without warning, I hear myself say, "I want to kiss you." I feel warm and my breathing is shallow. I can hear hers through the phone.

"Jesus, Dana, I'd give anything to be there."

"I think the first piece of furniture you buy should be a bed," I say.

"Oh? And why is that?" she asks playfully.

"I think you can guess."

After a few more minutes, we say our good-byes and she promises to call me during the week to find out about my schedule for our weekend plans.


Thank God we didn't have to go out of town again this weekend; I don't know how much longer I could've lasted without seeing Mel again. Finally, I see her. Walking over, I take her overnight bag from her as she comes into the waiting area.

We greet with a brief kiss and hug. Just touching her makes me relax. I hadn't realized how tightly wound I'd been these past weeks without her.

"Hi, sweetie," I say, looking into her warm dark eyes.

"Hi, baby."

"Want to grab some coffee before we head out?"

"Sure. I'd like to just sit and stare at you for a while."

I feel myself blush. She does that to me often.

We walk to Starbucks, order, and find a table for two. Underneath it our knees kiss each other and silently convey our messages of loneliness and anticipation. True to her word, she just stares at me for the longest time.

"Say something. Please?"

"Words don't mean a thing, Dana. Not when I'm staring at the most beautiful piece of art I've ever seen."

God, I'm blushing again. Her eyes so intense I feel she must be looking right through me. I force myself to break away from her unabated scrutiny.

"You really are stunning," she says. "I believe the term is drop dead gorgeous."

"Stop."

"Why? I want you to know how beautiful you are to me."

Suddenly she starts laughing. What?

"It's just so cute the way your eye does that."

"What do you mean? What about my eye?"

"The way your left eye blinks a split second before your right one."

"It does not."

"Does, too."

"Does not," I say a little more emphatically.

"Does, too," she counters, smiling broadly.

"Does not."

"Does, too."

"Not."

"Too."

"Not."

"There!" She exclaims pointing at my left eye. "There it did it again."

"Did not."

"Dana, it's so cute," she says, drawing out the words. "You have a slightly out of sync blink. I love watching it."

"I'm so happy to be a source of amusement for you."

"It's like you're winking at me." She pauses. "I find it sexy."

That stops me cold. "You do?"

Dropping her voice and leaning over to my ear, she repeats, softly, so that her warm breath kisses my skin, "Terribly sexy."

"Oh," I stammer, "Okay, then."

She lays her hand on my arm and although I'm wearing a sweater, I feel shivers spike through me. I put my hand over hers and give a little squeeze.

"I think we should go shopping now," she says.

"Do you want to go back home and drop off your luggage? It's not really out of the way."

"I don't think we'd better. This weekend has to be about accomplishing things." I'm puzzled; obviously the question shows on my face. She gives me one of her wicked smiles. "If we go home, baby, we may not make it back out before the stores close."

"Oh." Again, I avert my eyes from her gaze. "Yes, yes, I see what you mean. You're right, it's best to get the shopping done first. Then we have all evening to spend together. Right?"

"And all night." She smiles at me, leaving no doubt as to her intent. "But, I've got to get some things organized if I'm moving down in a few weeks."

"Well, then, let's get going."


Before going to the store, I take Mel by her new temporary home so she can get a feel for how she wants to decorate. She is taken with it, all of it and I feel a sense of pride and accomplishment. We stroll through the house discussing possible positioning of furniture and which of her pictures to bring down from Boston.

"You did great, honey. I knew I could trust your judgement. Come here."

She takes me in her arms for the first time since she arrived and we kiss. It is long and sweet. It's obvious both of us have been lonely for the other. As our tongues stroke in unison, our hands caress wanting bodies. I pull her as close as possible. After a few minutes, we break apart, breathless, and grin.

"Told you I missed you," I say.

"Ditto."

After a few more minutes of quiet time together, we each re-apply our lipstick, then head out and make our way to the mall.

The entire lot is crowded and we're forced to park at the opposite end of where we want to be, happy just to have found a spot. Window-shopping our way through the labyrinth of tiled floors and weekend shoppers, I notice she is staying extremely close to me, brushing up against me at every opportunity. When we stop to look at a display, I see our reflections. Mel looks at me intently with a gentle smile. She touches me cautiously, obviously remembering our pact not to show affection in public places. The way she keeps invading my personal space is making me increasingly excited.

We stop to get a soda, and she wraps her hand around mine, refusing to let me pay for the drinks. The feel of her bare skin on mine causes me to tingle. It's been so long since we've made love, really touched each other. I'm suddenly too warm; I knew I shouldn't have worn this sweater.

Eventually we make it to the large department store that anchors this end of the mall and take the escalator up to the store's bedding department. "I think I'll stick with a queen-sized." Then she leans into me so that her breasts are against my upper arm, and whispers in my ear. "It's big enough so we won't feel cramped, but small enough so I can find you in the dark."

I glance around quickly. "Mel, there are people around."

Grinning, she says, "No one could possibly hear."

Despite what she says, I'm nervous. Heaven knows why. Why should anyone think twice about two friends looking at a bed? As a sales person approaches, I take a few steps away from Mel.

"See something you like?" she asks, her voice friendly.

Mel looks directly at me. "Oh, yes, indeed."

The sales woman seems to miss the implication, perhaps intentionally. "Great. Which model are you interested in?"

Releasing me from her gaze, Mel turns her attention to the matter at hand. "I was thinking about this queen-sized mattress set."

"A very nice choice."

"Can I lay down and try it out?"

"Of course. Be my guest," the woman gushes. She obviously senses a sale.

Mel sits down and bounces a few times; then she swings her legs up and lies down. I watch as she gives it a test run, turning from side to side, onto her stomach, and then returning to her back. If this were a car she'd be kicking the tires by now. She pats the bed.

"Come on, Dana, lie down. See how it feels."

I shoot a quick glance at the sales woman. "I don't think so."

"Dana, come on. I may have some overnight company and want to make sure they're comfortable. I'd like your opinion." Again, she pats the bed, her smile meant to encourage me.

The sales woman looks at Mel and then at me. If she makes any connection I can't read it on her face. Instead, she decides to chime in.

"Yes, please. Try it out." She apparently senses my discomfort. "Don't be embarrassed. Lots of people do this in the store. You want to make sure your bed is-"

"It's not my bed, it's hers."

She seems startled by my interruption. "Yes. Well." Looking at Mel, she says she'll be back in a few minutes. "Take all the time you like."

"Okay, she's gone. Now will you lie down?"

"No," I say a little too loudly. I lower my voice. "I don't want to."

"Dana, you are making way too much out of this and drawing attention to yourself in the process."

That strikes a nerve.

"Well, I wouldn't have if you would just stop badgering me to do something I obviously don't want to."

"Sorry. I didn't mean to make you uncomfortable."

I cross my arms over my chest. "Well, you did."

She gets up from the bed. I can see in her face she's upset. Dammit. Damn my damned stubbornness. Damn my insecurities and always worrying about appearances.

"Let's go," she says.

I'm confused. "What do you mean? You haven't bought anything yet."

Oh, great. The sales woman is coming back. She probably thinks since Mel is up she's about to ring up a sale.

"Is this set going to work for you or would you like to try out a few different styles?" she asks.

Her plastered on smile and patronizing tone are beginning to grate on my nerves. The woman is forced to step aside as Mel walks briskly past her, leaving me standing in place.

Crap. "Now is not a good time," I say. "We'll have to get back to you."

The disappointment is clear on the woman's face. "Oh, well, okay," she stammers. Looking at me, she no doubt senses my tension. She fumbles in her jacket pocket a moment before pulling out a business card and handing it to me.

"Thank you, uh, Phyllis," I say referring to the card. "I'm sorry to have taken up your time."

"Oh, no, don't worry about it. I'll see you when you come back," she says, smiling hopefully.

I'm barely cognizant of what the woman is saying. Looking past her the entire time, I try to keep an eye on Mel and where she's headed. I'm puzzled by her behavior. Well, I won't let her rush me. It was her fault. I told her I didn't want to get on the stupid bed.

She's already at the escalator and has not looked back once. I've never seen her so annoyed. What the hell has gotten into her? I don't know where she thinks she's going; I'm the one driving. Damn her for leaving me to deal with this woman.

I can feel the sales woman still watching me as I brush past her. If I want to catch up, I have no choice but to do a little speed walking. This sort of attention was exactly what I didn't want.

Mel is already out of sight by the time I reach the escalator. Well, she can't have gotten that far. I start walking down the moving steps, not wanting to lose sight of her for too long. The walls around the escalator block my vision of the store. Getting back onto solid ground, I try to find her. I panic a bit before spotting her in the handbag area.

Now that I've found her, I relax a bit. Taking a couple of deep breaths I pause to reflect on what has just transpired and decide that she's getting upset with my reticence. She's so spontaneous; it must be doubly hard for her to understand and accept my reserved nature. Before I approach her, I decide I should probably apologize, just to keep the peace, although I don't think I've done anything all that wrong.

I walk up and touch her arm tentatively. She turns to look at me. I can still see the upset in her eyes. We don't speak for a long time. Eventually, I offer a weak smile.

"I'm sorry," I say. "I over-reacted."

She says nothing, but grasps my hand. This is a good sign. I relax a bit. Her mouth moves as she tries to formulate words, but nothing comes out. She takes a deep breath, releases it, and tries again.

"I'm sorry I pushed you, Dana."

"No, you were just having fun. You did nothing wrong."

"I should have realized that you'd be uncomfortable in that situation with people around."

"No, it was all my fault."

"I don't want to fight." Applying gentle pressure to my hand, she says, "Truce?"

I look around and find no other shoppers in the immediate area. Feeling suddenly daring, I move in close, lift up a bit, and place a quick kiss on her cheek. "Truce."

She smiles at me as her face lights up. "Come on."

"Where are we going now?" I call after her as she scurries away.

"Back upstairs to buy the bed."

Hurrying, I catch up with her at the escalator. "That sales woman is going to think we're crazy," I chuckle.

"So what? Besides, by the time we're finished shopping, she's going to have herself a nice commission check."

After a moment of awkwardness, the sales woman leaves us alone again. Emboldened by my earlier spontaneity, I climb onto the bed and indicate Mel should do the same.

"This bed is very supportive," I say. Keeping my eyes on the ceiling, arms tightly at my side, I add, "I think any overnight guests would be extremely comfortable."

From my peripheral vision, I see Mel roll towards me and rise up on her elbow. Not more than three inches from me, she whispers, "I only plan on one person sharing my bed."

My fingers clutch the bedspread. My stomach flutters. I fight to stifle a moan; it's all I can do to not pull her to me and kiss her, even here in public. I've got to get up off this bed.

An hour later we walk out of the store. Mel has purchased the mattress, box springs, and frame getting a beautiful wood bed. She also charges all her linens, pots, pans, bathroom necessities, a sofa, lamps, and every other thing imaginable she'll need to set up housekeeping on short notice.

"Your credit card will never be the same," I say as we walk out of the store into the evening crispness.

"Yeah, but Phyllis is my new best friend. Besides, I have a great tax woman who somehow manages to get this all written off."

"Lucky you." I smile. "All that shopping made me hungry, are you ready for dinner?"

"You bet. The rest can wait till tomorrow."

"The rest?"

"I still need a TV, DVD, phone, answering machine, desk, and--"

"Oh, Lord."

"Don't worry. I won't try to make you lay down on the desk." She gives me a wink before putting the packages in the trunk of the car.


"Oooh, there. Stop. Right. There," she moans as my hands travel over her unclothed body. "Yes. Oh God, yes." She lets out a squeal as she reaches back and grasps my knees that are straddled over her hips. "God, baby, that feels soooo, aaahhh, good."

I start to move to another part of her body when she speaks in a breathless, rapid-fire fashion. "There! There! There! Don't move. Ooh. Harder."

"Relax. You're tensing up and it's going to hurt."

"No. Just keep doing it. There. Aaaah." She sucks air in quick spurts. "Jesus, Dana, you have magic hands." She lifts her head up and grins at me. "My shoulder has been killing me for days, but you worked out that knot quite nicely. Thanks."

"My pleasure." I help her turn over onto her back. With her still lying under me, I sit down lightly on her lower abdomen, keeping most of my weight on my heels.

"All that fancy knife training paid off," she says, smiling.

"Well, live body, dead body, it's all the same to me." I brush her hair back off her face and grin at her.

"I like your bedside manner, Doctor."

"Do you now?"

The fun verbal sparring and repartee suddenly turns serious.

"You're wet," she says, raising her hips and rubbing against the source. Oh, yes, please. "Kiss me." As I'm leaning into her waiting lips, she adds, "Hard."

Grasping her head between my hands, I push against her mouth; our teeth colliding as she parts her lips and invites me in. Our tongues slip and slide against each other: stroking, circling, advancing, retreating.

I want her so much. Her hands gently map the familiar territory of my body. She knows where I like to be touched; the exact amount of pressure needed to take me out of myself.

Rolling around in my bed, the sheets twisting and wrapping us together, trapping us like a cocoon; we kiss and touch, giving ourselves to each other. The pleasure of tasting her is nothing short of exquisite. The feel of her heated naked body pressed tightly against mine is heavenly. Like puzzle pieces, we fit together perfectly.

"Don't ever...away...so long," I murmur into her mouth between passionate kisses.

She gasps as I run my hand up her thigh; moans softly as I adorn her breasts with kisses; calls out my name as I lightly stroke between her legs; shudders as I enter her; and while I hold her in my arms, she comes.

"You are so beautiful," I say. Pushing her hair back, I place a kiss on the pulsating vein in her neck.

I've never been with anyone that makes me feel the way she does. I've never wanted to be with anyone as much; there's no one that makes me as happy to be alive. Yet I hold back telling her exactly what she means to me. What am I afraid of? If I verbalize it will this all disappear? I worry about what will happen if I give myself totally to her. Will I lose myself in the process?

I've had plenty of time without her this last month to think and I know I want to be with her, only her. So, why do I continue to hesitate? She deserves to know how I truly feel. I'm going to tell her tonight.

Although she's resting, I can sense some sort of change in her; it's like I can almost hear her thinking. She starts to speak but stops. I don't press her the first time; but when it happens again, I can literally feel her internal struggle. Mel never seems to have difficulty saying what's on her mind; so this has me a bit concerned.

"What is it, sweetie?"

She hesitates then says, "Nothing."

Gently prodding, I say, "It doesn't sound like nothing."

Her shoulders rise and fall as she releases a shuddering sigh.

Now I'm worried. Mel is so open with everything. Of course, I don't presume to know all there is about her or her past; just as she doesn't know everything about me, but I'm getting a bad feeling about this hesitancy. I want to honor her wishes, but I want to know if something is wrong.

I stroke her hair, a sort of reassurance. "Sweetie, I can see you want to say something, and whatever it is, it's causing you quite a bit of distress. Can't you please tell me?"

I feel her warm tears rolling down my breast.

"I do love you, Dana, so very much." Her voice has a wavering, emotional quiver to it. "I never thought I could be this much in love."

This must be bad. What's wrong? Oh, God, what if she's ill? My head is starting to reel with possibilities. I force myself to remain calm. Whatever it is, we can deal with it. I'm a doctor; I can take care of her, make sure she gets the best medical advice and treatment.

While I'm thinking, she whispers something so low that I can't make it out. "I'm sorry I couldn't hear you."

She takes a breath and releases it as though the weight of the world is on her shoulders. "It's not enough."

We have not moved from our positions. It's like we're frozen in time, in some sort of suspended animation. The only movement, the rising and falling of her shoulders as she sobs. Jesus. What is she talking about? I feel my heart rate increase, obviously due to my own increased anxiety level.

"Mel?"

She's silent. Her breathing is so deep and rhythmic that for a moment I think she has fallen asleep. But then she lets out another heavy sigh. She puts her arms around my waist and holds me so tightly I have difficulty breathing.

"Oh, God," she moans, sounding on the verge of tears again. "I don't, I don't." She pauses, obviously trying to keep herself under control. "I don't know if I can do this anymore, Dana."

Fear has turned my skin clammy.

"Mel, you're starting to scare me. Please, just tell me what's wrong."

She slides up next to me, her face tear-streaked, brown eyes drowning in sorrow. Reaching over me, she grabs the box of tissues from the nightstand. She dabs at her eyes and then blows her nose. When she speaks her throat sounds thick.

"I love you so much, Dana, but I'm just not sure that I can go on this way anymore. I've tried to pretend that it doesn't matter, but I'm just lying to myself. It does matter."

"What does? Mel, what's wrong? Are you ill? Because if you are, don't be afraid, I'm not going to leave you to face whatever it is alone."

I sit up and then gently wipe the stalactite tears from her chin. She lets out a nervous laugh and shakes her head. "I'm not sick. At least, not the way you mean."

God, why is she being so cryptic? Come on. Come on. Calm down, let her do this in her own time.

I take her hands in mine. "What then? What's wrong? Just tell me. Please."

She sits up next to me and leans back against the headboard. She keeps her eyes straight ahead, refusing to look at me. Talking in a big breath, her chin quivering with emotion, she speaks slowly, "I don't think you feel the same way about me and it just hurts too much to be around you." Burying her face in her hands, she starts weeping.

Oh, no. God, she's going to tell me this was all a big mistake. She's leaving me. Oh, God! No, please, no.

What have I done? How could she possibly think I don't love her? Maybe because I've never told her. I've waited too long. I've allowed my fears to cause her doubt. If I tell her now, will she believe me, think I'm sincere? Or will she think I'm just saying it to placate her, so she won't leave? My stomach feels like I've just made the first big drop on the roller coaster at Magic Mountain.

I pull her to me, wrap my arms around her, hoping to convey to her all the tenderness I feel. "Shh, please don't cry. It's all right. I've been such a fool. Shh. Shh."

As I rock her in my arms, she continues to cry. God, this has been tearing her apart. "Sweetie, please. Try to calm down." I press my lips to her forehead and leave them there. I tighten my grip on her. "Shh. This entire thing is my fault. I'm sorry. Please, don't leave. Please. I'm a coward for not telling you before."

She struggles out of my embrace and sits up eye level with me. Looking directly into my eyes, deep into my soul, she studies me. She knows me so well in so many ways, but in this, the most important of all things, I have kept her out. Not any more.

Her crying has subsided to an occasional sob or gulp for air. Used tissues are wadded up and scattered across the bed and floor. Her nose is red but she seems to be pretty much back in control.

"Telling me what?"

I don't dare falter. She has to believe me. I clear my throat. "That no one makes me feel the way you do." I run the back of my hand down her cheek. "I don't want to be with anyone else." She starts to dip her head trying to break away from my gaze, but I grasp her chin in the cup of my hand. "Being with you has brought me the joy and comfort I've been without for far too long."

Silence overtakes the room. I weave our fingers together, waiting for her to respond to my proclamation of love.

"Is that all?"

I'm stunned. I don't know how to answer that. Silence is not what she was looking for.

Without a word, she gets up and grabs her robe from the end of the bed, covering her shaking body.

"What are you doing?" I ask.

She doesn't answer, but continues walking out of the room, stopping only to retrieve a blanket from the closet shelf. As she closes the bedroom door, I call after her, but she doesn't come back. I hear the sound of the TV being turned on and voices drifting in from the front room.

Fear has overtaken me and anger is simmering just below the surface. My head is spinning as I continue to lie in bed, confused over what has just transpired. What the hell just happened? What did I do this time? Jesus, she's being awfully moody today. Is she still upset about the bed deal earlier? Will all this be forgotten in the morning? That's doubtful; she's too damned emotional to just let this drop. Will she change her plans and leave early tomorrow? Lord, I've got to make this better somehow. But just what does she want from me?

Dammit! Neither of us is going to get any sleep until this is settled. We're both too upset. There's only one thing to do. Tissues go flying as I throw back the covers. I start to pick them up, but then change my mind. Those can wait. Right now I'm going to get to the bottom of all this. I open the bedroom door and make my way into the room illuminated only by the light from the TV. Before I can speak, I see her.

Oh, Jesus. She's on the couch, lying on her side, the blanket up to her chin. Her knees are pulled up in the classic protective fetal position with her arms wrapped around them tightly. I can see her rocking herself. Glancing at the TV, I see she's staring at nothing but late night TV snow. All my anger goes right out the window when I see her, her pain palpable in the late hour. I silently make my way over to her and kneel down.

My heart is breaking for her. She starts to turn over to face the back of the couch. "Please, don't," I say while placing my hand on her blanket-covered shoulder, gently restraining her.

She stops and lies still on her back, staring at the ceiling. She is in complete darkness now as my back blocks the light from the TV.

"Mel, baby, please help me to understand what it is you want, what it is you need."

"I want you. I need you. All of you."

"Honey." I smile though I doubt she sees it. "You have me."

"No, I don't," she whispers.

"Mel, didn't you hear anything I said to you in the bedroom? Baby, you mean the world to me."

"Then say it," she demands.

"Say what? I've bared my soul to you and told you things I've never told anyone else. I don't know what more I can say."

Her silence tells me I should try again.

"My life is never as good as when we're together. Jesus, Mel, you are the center of my universe. You make me feel at peace and remind me of what is truly important in life."

She says nothing. Tentatively, I lean down to kiss her. At the last possible moment she turns her head away.

"You're not being honest with me or yourself, Dana."

I am so lost here. There's something more she needs. What is it? What is it? Think, Dana. I slowly go over everything we've done and said since she arrived. There's got to be something I'm missing. I can't put my finger on it. Think, Dana. I force myself to remain calm, to start at the beginning. The answer is somewhere, just think back. Wait. Is it possible that maybe, just maybe, this isn't even about me, well, at least directly?

"Mel, may I ask you something?"

I take her silence as approval to proceed.

"What is this really about?"

She turns her head back in my direction. "What do you mean?"

"I mean, honey, that something is going on and I don't think it's entirely about us."

"Say what you mean, Dana."

"Okay. Remember the first time I was at your house and you were giving me the tour? The way you got all melancholy when you talked about just sometimes sitting in your office?"

She remains silent, but nods her head ever so slightly.

"And, then, when I was holding you, you were upset and made me promise never to lie, and I asked if someone had done that to you?"

"Uh huh."

"Well, does that have anything to do with this?"

She appears to be giving this consideration, but doesn't answer.

"Mel, I'm not her. I don't know what happened, but I'm not her."

"You're doing the same things she did."

At last, maybe now we can get to the bottom of this. I need information if we're going to work through this.

"What things?"

She sits up with her back against the arm of the couch, the heaviness of what she has to say apparent.

"She never would tell me that she loved me. She'd say the same things you do about how important I was to her, how there was no one else; but I needed her to say 'I love you' and she wouldn't. It was a game for her to see how she could keep me dangling without ever totally giving me what I needed. I was only a game."

"Oh, baby, I'd never do that."

"Then, she started seeing other women behind my back." Her voice is so low and full of sorrow I find myself crying silent tears for her.

Another conversation comes rushing back; she told me she'd never cheat on me and if there was someone else or if she ever wanted to leave, I'd be the first to know. Now it's all coming into focus. She's been afraid I'd do the same things that other woman did to her. God, how I hate her. How could she take Mel's love and then just discard it, and toy so mercilessly with her in the process?

"I wouldn't do that," I say, trying to re-assure her.

"At the end, she didn't even have the common courtesy to keep her friends away from me. She'd bring them to the house and flaunt them right in front of me."

"Jesus, honey. Please. You don't really think I'd never do that to you, do you?"

She offers me a twisted little smile that I choose to interpret it as a 'no'.

"I finally woke up and realized that she was not going to change, that the reason she never said she loved me, was because she didn't. I was a fool to fall in love with her."

"You're not a fool. You were in love; that's all. Love isn't rational. She was not a good person, Mel. You didn't deserve to be treated like that, no one does."

I stroke her hair and whisper softly. "I'd do anything to keep from hurting you. You are so special to me."

God, I don't know if I'm ready, but she needs to hear the words and I can't risk losing her. Trying to assuage hers, I push my own fears aside. "I love you, Mel, and want us to be together, always." I pause attempting to gauge her receptiveness.

"You really do love me? You're not just saying that because--"

"Because I'm afraid you'll leave? God, yes, I'm afraid. If I lost you, I-"

She interrupts and asks again if I love her.

"More than life itself."

"Then why couldn't you tell me?"

"I honestly thought I had. Every time we've been together, every time we speak on the phone, every email." I pause. "Every time we make love. I, I just assumed you knew."

"And you were scared."

She knows me so well. "I was scared."

"Scared of being in love with me?"

I ponder that for a moment, weighing all the factors. "Just scared of being in love."

"Why?"

"I don't know, exactly. Lots of reasons, all of which seem utterly inane right now. I'm sorry I was the cause of your pain. I truly am. I'll make it up to you somehow. Will you let me, please?"

Breaking into a slow smile, she says, "Just love me."

Moving towards her, I feel my lips aching, waiting what seems like an eternity for hers to meet mine. "I love you. I'm so sorry. Just don't leave me, I couldn't bear it."

I reach for her and she comes to me. As we are about to kiss, it is my turn to sigh; but it is one of absolute relief. Truthfully, I don't know what I would do without her.

She lifts the blanket that has been doubling as a shield and presses up against the back of the couch. I lie down next to her and she drapes the crocheted afghan over us. Thank you, God. We don't exchange a word. I adorn her face with butterfly kisses, reinforcing how much I love her.

After a while, the two of us squeezed onto the narrow sofa begins to be uncomfortable. I've almost fallen off twice, only to have Mel grab me just in time.

"Want to get up before you get hurt?" she chuckles.

"Uh huh." Somewhat reluctantly, I rise. "Come on."

I shut off the TV and we walk hand-in-hand to the bedroom.

In the softness of the candlelit room, she kisses me deeply and strokes my face tenderly. My arms snake around her as she covers me with her body. As she rubs her bare legs over mine, we moan into each other's mouths. She snuggles and hums against my neck; licks and nibbles on my earlobe. My skin breaks out in goosebumps.

"Dana." The softness in her voice somehow makes my name sound like a prayer. "Are you sure you're ready for this kind of commitment?"

Our shadow flickering on the walls catches my attention momentarily. "Honestly? No." Her entire body goes stiff with tension. "But I do know that there's no one I'd rather spend time with. No one I'd rather go to sleep with and wake up with." She relaxes and melts back into me.

"Baby, I was so frightened and confused. I've not been fair to you, either. I just wasn't making the connection that I was transferring all my pain and fears of her to you." She rolls onto her back, clutching me even tighter to her. "I knew this was all new to you, and I knew I said I'd give you time, but it'd been months and well, I just didn't think I could be around you if you didn't feel something for me beyond the fun times and the sex."

Her emotions are very close to the surface and her voice is threatening to break. "I couldn't go through another rejection like that again. I want us to be a couple, Dana, in every sense of the word."

My fingers wind through her hair. "Sweetie, these last months have been the happiest times of my life. You make me laugh and I feel young again," I say, smiling at her. "I'd lost touch with my needs and desires a long time ago and you...you've helped me to reconnect with what I wanted out of life before I got so caught up in just surviving." I kiss her cheek. "I do have fun when we're together, but what I feel for you goes much deeper. You are so good to me. I, I feel so loved by you."

"You are. Deeply."

"Kiss me," I murmur.

She does, thoroughly, and much more, touching me in my favorite and most sensitive spots. Instinctively, my legs wrap around her hips, pulling her until we are pressed together. Other times our lovemaking has been frenetic, but tonight time seems to be suspended as we explore each other's body anew; it's as though this is the first time. There's a new intensity when we touch, a feeling of a deeper connection.

I'm reeling from the sensations her tongue can command from my body. I'm hers to do with as she pleases. I will not deny myself anymore. I want her. I will have her. Damn the consequences. We'll take precautions; be extra careful.

"Mel?"

"Hmm."

"I'm hopelessly in love with you."

Between long kisses, there are breathless declarations of love and murmured endearments. I can't believe this is actually happening after all these years. My life had become all about avoiding entanglements, remaining detached, closing off my emotions; but now, now it's just the opposite. It's all because of Mel. I do love her. It's new. It's strange. It's scary. It's a miracle. After all the terrors, disappointments and heartaches, I've found her.

Her very being is a comfort to me. God, to have been lucky enough to find someone who loves me. She sees through my faade to who I really am. What I perceive as weakness in myself, she sees as strengths. She completes me.

I release her and slide my legs up the bed. Underneath her, I place the soles of my feet together, opening and offering myself to her. She kisses her way down my body, nibbling, blowing, and sucking as she goes. My fevered body craves her now familiar balm. When her hardened nipple brushes against my clit, I nearly jump out of my skin. My breathing is ragged and rapid. She teases her way up my inner thighs and by the time her tongue finally soothes my aching core, I'm nearly delirious with want.

It takes a monumental effort, but I fight through my haze and lift her head from me. She looks at me wide-eyed and then smiles as I call for her to turn around so I can please her. I want us to come together. It's important; symbolic somehow. I gently grasp her and use my thumbs to spread her apart. She's wet and swollen with desire. At my touch, her clit quivers. Like the rest of tonight, this part of it is slow, nearly agonizingly so.

Lying side by side, I raise her top leg over me and take her in my mouth, feeling and tasting her for the first time in over a month. Umm, I'm home. Deeply breathing in her fragrance, I lick her softly and allow myself to completely explore her moist, inflamed flesh. I finally realize she's been mimicking my every move, assuring me silently that if I want something, I only need do it to her first.

My tongue presses into her, a little at a time, straining to partake of her hidden delights. We hunger for the same thing. Our juices flow freely and the smell of our arousal hangs in the air. We acknowledge our pleasure with groans and muffled whines. Moving my tongue to her clit, I push two fingers into her and start to slowly explore her inner space. Oh, Holy Mother of God. I don't know how much longer I can last. My own body wants more, much more, so I insert two more fingers. Teetering on the jagged edge of my own orgasm, I somehow manage to speed up my thrusts.

We simultaneously gasp for air. Even in this we are in complete unison. Her thighs quiver uncontrollably around my ears, signaling the beginning of her orgasm. Oh, God, how I love that, knowing I've brought her to this state of euphoria. Our bodies freeze up before giving in to our climax. As we come, we call out each other's names, our voices trembling with emotion. Afterwards, quietly, I tell her to come up to me and hold her in my arms. Panting and sweaty, lying face to face, we kiss passionately and taste the results of our co-mingling while our fingers continue to caress flushed skin.

Somehow, eventually, I'm able to speak. "That was truly exquisite," I say, my voice thick and raspy.

"Umm."

"It, it felt different from other times."

"That's the beauty of the love factor."

"The love factor," I state dryly.

"Yes. We acknowledged our love and it forced the paradigm to shift."

"The paradigm."

"The paradigm that is our relationship," she explains patiently.

I'm trying to follow her logic, but my body is still pumping oxygen at high rates of speed and my mind is not functioning at optimum capacity at this very moment. "And, when we expressed our love, the paradigm, the framework of our relationship, re-aligned and our lovemaking took on a different meaning; went to a new level."

"Exactly."

We lie silently. While I'm considering her theory, I run my finger absentmindedly up and down her arm. "So, when you were in love before, did you experience this same paradigm shift?"

"Yes," she says, pausing, "but never as much as I have with you."

I stop playing with her arm. "Why do you say that?"

"Because the other women wanted to be in love."

"And I didn't?"

"No," she says. She takes a moment to lick at the droplets of dew that have beaded up between my breasts. "I think you did. You just didn't want to give in to it and when you did, well, the paradigm didn't only shift, it quaked and exploded into a million pieces."

"Definitely felt like a ten on my Richter scale," I say, chuckling.

She pulls me tighter. Sleep overcomes us as we cuddle under the blankets, cradled in each other's arms. During the night, I wake up and find her turned away from me. So as not to disturb her, I quietly scoot over and slip my arm over her waist and kiss her bare shoulder. Reflexively, she grasps my hand and pulls her legs up. As I trace the outline of her body with mine, I whisper that I love her.


Today started with a wonderfully lazy morning of lovemaking and silly pillow talk, followed by a long, languorous bubble bath. After brunch we set out to the large electronic store across from the mall to finish up Mel's shopping. I must have told Mel that I love her about fifty times today and it's not even one o'clock yet.

It's not as difficult as I thought it would be. Even though I honestly meant it, the first few times felt a little forced; but now it feels natural, like I've said it to her all our lives. Every time I tell her, she smiles. Without words, her twinkling eyes show me the love she feels for me.

While strolling around, looking at TV's, deciding on models and sizes, I hear my name.

"Scully?"

I spin slowly around following the direction of the voice.

"Sir?" Skinner in jeans and a t-shirt with a leather jacket is quite a site, very different from how I'm used to seeing him dressed.

"Doing some shopping, Agent Scully?

"Yes, sir."

Mel walks up and stands casually next to me. Too close, you're standing too close.

"Hi, Walter." She extends her hand to him.

Walter? She knows him? And, she calls him 'Walter'?

"Hello, Melanie. Are you here with Scully?"

What does he mean by that?

"Yes." She smiles at me. "You did know that I have been contracted for the consulting position for the new computer software, didn't you, Walter?"

"It seems I read it in a memo, but that was quite a while ago."

"Yes, its taken a while to get it on track, but looks like I'll be moving down here within a few weeks."

I don't think I've ever seen Skinner looking so casual or smiling quite so broadly. Obviously, Mel has added another admirer to her cache.

She looks at me briefly before turning her attention back to Skinner. "Dana has graciously opened her home to me while I'm here. She's even offered to help me set up housekeeping. Today I get to buy all my toys." Her smile broadens and she looks for all the world like a kid in a candy store.

"That sounds like fun." Skinner looks at me with kindness in his eyes. He's probably glad I have a life outside of work and Mulder.

I smile at him, hoping it doesn't appear too strained.

"Well, we're on a bit of a tight schedule, Walter. It was nice running into you again."

"Maybe we can do lunch once you get settled in?" he asks.

"That would be great. I expect it to be pretty hectic for a while, but I'll be in touch."

"Great. I look forward to it. Well, enjoy your day, Melanie. Scully."

"Sir."

As he turns and walks away, I nudge Mel.

"What?" she asks. Her hand moves to cover her stomach in case of another sneak attack.

"I didn't know you knew Skinner."

"Oh, we had a few conversations when I was here making my presentations. He's really very charming." She starts looking around the store, obviously deciding which department to give her attention to next.

"Skinner? Charming?"

"Yes."

"You don't think he suspected anything, do you?"

She stops looking around and focuses her attention on me. "Suspected anything?"

"About us."

"Why would he?" Her face shows her bewilderment.

"I don't know. You were standing pretty close to me."

"Oh for heaven's sake, I was not," she says, sounding amused. "Besides, it's perfectly normal for friends to be shopping together, Dana." I think she's a bit irritated with me.

"I know."

"Would you please try to stop worrying so much? You're making yourself a nervous wreck. No one is going to think anything about us unless you start behaving suspiciously."

"I guess you're right."

Grinning at me, she says, "Hey, come on, help me decide. I've narrowed it down to two TV's and DVD's."


Mel's presence is so strong in my life its like she's always with me, even when she isn't. On the drive home, I find myself carrying on a one-sided conversation with her in my mind.

Well, I'm still surprised we managed to get all your shopping done, back to the apartment to get your luggage, and somehow still make it to the airport by the time your flight left at close to seven. Quite a feat!

You haven't been gone even an hour. A weekend is just not long enough, especially now. Before, I could kid myself this wasn't a serious relationship; it was a fling, nothing more than experimentation, dabbling on the edge of social acceptability, pure titillation. But now, now that I've been honest and told you everything, I can't take it back. I don't want to. There's no room for self-delusion anymore. I love you. That's all there is to it. I love you. It feels good to admit it, but even better to say it, especially when we're in bed.

You know I still feel unsettled at meeting up with Skinner in the store. Eventually, I imagine, our affair is going to come out and people will know. God, how I dread that day, the looks, the whispers, the sidelong glances. I've been dealing with that sort of thing ever since I teamed up with Mulder. Everyone assumes he and I have been involved since day one. Guess I'm so used to that by now I don't even notice it any more. I suppose after awhile it'll be the same with our affair. God, that sounds tawdry. I don't want to call our love an 'affair'; it cheapens it to be compared to a series of clandestine interludes at sleazy motels.

Well, I may as well resign myself to the idea people are going to talk regardless of the circumstances. But I just hate the thought of being the main topic of discussion around the water cooler. Actually, I think it'll be good when it's out in the open. Then, at least, there'll be no opportunity for any blackmail attempts by, hell, I don't even know what to call them anymore, the Consortium still works, I suppose.

I doubt I can be fired because of our relationship; that would be discrimination based on sexual preference and they wouldn't want to risk a big lawsuit. That would look great, the Justice Department breaking the law. They might try to force me out through the back door somehow, but I don't think so. Anyway, I feel certain that Skinner would pull every string he could, if it came to that, but I don't think it will. I can manage the work environment, I always have; it's the family that has me worried.

I'm coming to realize I can't keep them in the dark for much longer. I don't want to. I want them to get to know you and how much we mean to each other. I want to bring you to family gatherings, to be open about our love. You are my family now and I want you with me. I've spent a good deal of my life hiding myself from them, trying to spare them the more gruesome details of my job and the danger it involves; but our love should be out in the open, at least with my family.

I haven't yet decided on how or when, but I do know mom will be the first one I tell. I need to ask you to tell me about when and how you told your mother. Maybe there are some books I can read to help me with how to approach this.

Mom will be shocked, to put it mildly, but in the end I think she'll come around. Charlie, well, Charlie has always just wanted me to do whatever made me happy. He and Missy were the only two who stood by me when I transitioned from medicine to the FBI. God, how I wish Missy was here to help me. She'd be so supportive, tell me not to worry about what people think, and just do what feels right. Knowing her, she'd probably want to throw us a big party to celebrate and announce our love. Missy. I miss her terribly sometimes.

Big brother Bill is another story altogether. I'd better wear kevlar when I tell him. First he'll go ballistic and then he'll go 'fatherly' on me, as usual. Ever since Dad died, Bill seems to think he's in charge and can try to control everyone's life, especially mine. You'd think, after all the quarrels we've had over my joining the Bureau and my involvement with Mulder, that Bill would get the idea to stay the hell out of my life. God knows, Tara has tried to keep him in line, but there's no getting around it, sometimes Bill is just a royal pain in the ass.

I hope everyone accepts us, but if they don't that's their problem. I want you to know that I will never go to a family event without you. We're a package deal, you and I.

I reach over to pat her hand and it dawns on me that she's not even in the car. I was enjoying her company and having such a nice conversation with her that I drove home on automatic pilot.

Unlocking the front door, I leave my keys and wallet in the foyer and walk over to check the answering machine; there's not even one message. Mulder is slipping. There was a time when I couldn't be gone for an hour, only to return to a half dozen frantic calls from him.

Putting the kettle on to boil, I go into the bedroom and start to make the bed. I don't want to change it; I want the essence of her with me tonight. Each piece of scattered clothing brings back a flood of memories. I clutch her pillow to my breast and replay each delicious moment, recalling how she teased me mercilessly, taking me to the edge and back many times, before finally sending me careening over the precipice. Oh, sweet Jesus. The two weeks until she gets moved down here is going to seem like an eternity.

The kettle is whistling away. Racing to the kitchen, I turn off the burner; it seems that while I was daydreaming half the water boiled away. Refilling the kettle with a little water, I wait for it to boil and top off the remainder of the cup. Walking into the front room, I flip on the evening news.

As I sit down on the couch, I am determined to concentrate on what the reporter is saying about a new outbreak of violence in the Middle East. Mostly, I'm trying to not think about Mel. I want desperately to talk to her and hear the sweet soothing voice that uttered gentle caresses while we made love.

The phone startles me back to conscious awareness.

"Scully."

"That kills me every time."

I perk up instantly when I realize who it is. "What does?"

"When you answer your phone that way."

"Sorry, habit."

"I wanted to let you know I made it home safe and sound."

"Thanks." I pause. "It's good to hear your voice."

"Honey, we just spoke not even two hours ago."

"I know, but I miss you." I pause. "I love you."

THE END


If you enjoyed this story, please send feedback to ScullyFu