Title: A First Time for Everything
Author: Polly - polly122456@yahoo.com

Rating: PG-13, with sexual situations
Feedback: Welcome and appreciated; this is my first try at fanfic so please be honest but gentle!
Classification: MSR, Humor, Mild MulderTorture, Post-The Unnatural
Spoilers: The Unnatural big-time, Milagro, Triangle
Disclaimer: Mulder and Scully don't belong to me; they belong to CC, 1013, and David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson. If they belonged to me, Mulder would have lots more shoes.
Notes: Written for the Haven September 5W Challenge (elements at the end)
Archive: If you want it, take it; just please let me know.
Thanks: To the Beta Girls, SLS and Peg'sGirl; you ladies are the best! To bcfan for throwing down the gauntlet, and to SLS, Peg'sGirl, Angie K, AnnD, Phantagrae, Redwyne, and Vickie Moseley for encouraging and inspiring me to write and for providing moral support. Thanks also to all those who encouraged me to post this beyond the realm of the Challenge, especially Vickie Moseley who provided the final push and the technical expertise.

Summary: There's a first time for everyone, as unnatural as it may seem.

*   *   *   *   *   *   *   *

"Slow down, Mulder. Take your time."

Dana Scully stole a quick glance at her partner. His breathing was labored and a fine sheen of sweat was just beginning to break across his forehead. "We don't have to be in any hurry, you know."

"I know," Mulder whispered. "It's just that I ... I need ..." Scully could feel his body tense next to hers. "I just need ... I need to ..." His voice trailed off and he gasped just a bit.

"What do you need, Mulder? What?" For the first time Scully noticed that her own breath was ragged, a result of most of his weight resting upon her small frame. He closed his eyes and didn't answer, so she gently prodded him again. "What do you need, Mulder?"

"I need ... I need to ..." He struggled with the words and kept his eyes closed. "I need to sit down!" He finally rasped. "God, Scully, this hurts like hell!"

"I know, Mulder," she said, looking down the familiar hallway at the apartment door that seemed miles away right at the moment. "But it's not much further. You can make it. Let's just rest for a minute, okay?"

Mulder nodded and shifted his weight slightly, giving Scully a chance to flex the cramped fingers of her right hand that had been holding fast to the belt loops of his blue jeans. His left arm still rested across her shoulders, but she took the opportunity of the brief pause in their journey to toss the size 11 1/2 Nike sneaker in her left hand down the hall, where it landed with a thud just a few feet shy of the apartment door.

It felt good to get the kinks out of her elbow and wrist, both of which were aching from being in the same position for too long. She'd inherited the shoe somewhere on the second floor landing, but she wasn't quite sure how it happened. Mulder had insisted he could carry it with his left hand, while he used the Louisville slugger in his right as a makeshift cane. It seemed a good plan as they made their way up the front steps of his apartment building and into the lobby, but there they found an "Out of Order" sign taped to the elevator door. Scully's instincts told her right then and there to turn around, get him back in the car, and head to Georgetown, but she had finally given in to Mulder's insistence that he needed things from his apartment that she wouldn't be able to find on her own.

Another weight shift at her right brought her back to the task at hand. "Okay, Scully," Mulder said confidently. "I can make it now."

"Remember, not so fast," Scully said as they set off again, this time at a slow limp down the corridor. To her relief, he seemed to be moving a little easier now. "Slow and steady wins the race, you know, Mulder."

"No fair hurling cliches at me when I'm not at 100 percent, Scully."

"I just wish you had gotten the crutches at the hospital," Scully said as they finally closed in on the door to number 42. "We could have avoided all this and gone directly to my place."

"I told you, Scully, I have three pairs of crutches in my hall closet. It would have been wasteful to pay for another pair." They stopped in front of the door and Scully propped Mulder up against the frame. He watched her deftly bend down to pick up the sneaker with one hand while she fished her keys out of her jacket pocket with the other.

"The insurance would have paid, Mulder," she said as she rose to insert the key in the lock. "I've never known you to be so concerned about the rising cost of health care before."

Scully pushed the door open and he put his arm around her shoulder once again as she helped him hobble into the foyer. "I ran into Stephanie from Human Resources the other day on my way up to Skinner's office," he said, as Scully pushed the door shut. "She told me if I got hurt one more time this year, the insurance premium rates for Bureau employees were going to go up by 85 percent. People may not think I'm a team player, but I try to do my part for my fellow staff members."

"It's only April, Mulder."

"Ha, ha."

The sofa was now within arm's reach, and Scully tossed the shoe out of the way and began to extricate herself from Mulder's embrace. "Okay, grab on to the armrest," she said, "and give me that nice piece of ash." His grin turned into a wince at the sudden added pressure on his foot, but he handed over the bat with just a small grimace. "Hang on just a sec," Scully said as she slipped off her jacket, placed it over the desk chair, and leaned the bat against the wall next to the aquarium. Returning to his side, she began to unbutton the Grays jersey and slid it off his shoulders. "Let's get this off before you sit down," she said, pulling his arms through and tossing the jersey to rest on top of her jacket.

As Mulder eased himself down onto the leather cushions, Scully grabbed a throw pillow from the other end of the couch and placed it on the coffee table. "Okay, you get that foot elevated and I'm gonna get you some Tylenol. And I think we'd better get some ice on that foot. It's a little more swollen after that trip up the stairs."

"You're the doctor," Mulder called after her as she disappeared into the kitchen.

When she returned a few minutes later Mulder had his right foot resting on the pillow and had removed his left shoe and sock. She took a seat on the coffee table opposite him, placing the bag of ice and a tea towel next to her, and handing him the Tylenol and water. "Thanks, Scully," he said, downing the pills quickly and handing the glass back to her. "Thanks for taking care of me, as always."

She gave him a slight smile, reached out for his foot, and leaned back so she could swing it into her lap. "Let's see how much damage we did coming up those stairs."

"Ow!" Mulder tried to jerk his leg back but Scully was holding on tight. "Jesus, Scully, that hurts!"

She shook her head and began her examination. "Oh, Mulder. It's just a broken toe. Don't be such a baby."

"I think the key word here is 'broken,' Scully," he whined. "And it hurts like hell." Seeing she was lost in her work and no sympathy was forthcoming, he asked, "So ... how is it? Do you think it's going to be okay?"

"It's a simple fractured phalanx, Mulder," she replied. "You'll live to play 'this little piggy went to market' another day."

"Ooooh, is that a promise, Agent Scully?" he asked, waggling his eyebrows seductively. Scully only shook her head again and went back to the examination, so Mulder continued. "Seriously, thanks for letting me preserve what was left of my dignity at the hospital by not telling them what really happened to my foot."

Scully's hands stopped their probing and she looked him square in the eye. "Well, all those nubile little nurses at the ER thought they had a big baseball hero in their midst. Who was I to burst their bubbles by revealing that mighty Fox Mantle's broken toe was caused not by a foul tip off his bat but by his dropping the pitching machine on it."

"Nubile?" He scrunched his face up into that quizzical look that she loved. "Were you even in the same ER I was in tonight?"

"Oh, come on, Mulder, they were fawning all over you," Scully said. "And you were eating it up with a spoon." She could tell by the half-smile on his face that he knew she was right. "Well, nubile or not, they did a good job with the buddy wrapping on this toe. It survived the trip up the stairs very well. I just want to check these other toes, make sure the doctor didn't miss anything, and then we'll put some ice on it for a little while."

"I can do that, Scully," he said, picking at a loose thread on his jeans. "I mean, you probably want to go home."

"No, I've got it all figured out," Scully noted while flexing his other toes gently. "We'll spend the night here so you can rest the foot a bit, then tomorrow morning we'll pack you a bag and go to my place. Don't bother protesting, Mulder," she said as he started to open his mouth. "I've got some work at home I have to finish before Monday and I want you where I can keep an eye on you. To make sure you're using those crutches and icing the toe periodically. With lots of tender, loving care from Dr. Scully, you should be able to go to work on Monday morning. I don't suppose you have one of those orthopedic shoes around here, do you? I don't think you're going to be able to get a shoe on this foot, at least for a few days."

"I think there are two or three in the hall closet," Mulder replied, "right next to the crutches. Maybe I should stay home on Monday, just to be on the safe side."

"And send me off to that big budget meeting with Skinner all alone?" Scully exclaimed. "Not a chance, Mulder. I'll get you to that meeting if I have to put you in a wheelchair." She gently flexed his ankle. "You don't happen to have one of those in the hall closet too, do you?"

"No," he chuckled, "I think that was a rental. But we will have to pick up my car sometime tomorrow."

"Nope, all taken care of," Scully said, stroking the arch of his foot now. "While you were entertaining the nubile nurses I called Byers and he and the boys went to pick it up. They're going to keep it at their place until you're able to drive, which, if you're good, should be by the end of the week."

"Ah, grounding me huh?" Mulder smiled at her. "Taking away the old car keys."

"Someone has to protect you from yourself, Mulder. That's my job ..." Her voice trailed off as she began to examine the underside of his foot. "Mulder ... how did you get this scar under your big toe?"

Mulder hoped she didn't notice the way he shivered as she ran her fingernail along the length of the two- inch scar that extended from the middle of his big toe to the ball of his foot. "Oh that," he said nonchalantly. "That's an old war injury."

"An old war injury," she repeated. When he failed to offer up any more information, she gently prodded, "Go on ... I'm listening."

"Well, I was trying to save one of the guys in my platoon from a fate worse than death," he began. "His name was Joe ... G.I. Joe ... and Samantha had taken him from my room and decided that he should go for a dip with Barbie wearing a pair of Ken's chartreuse swim trunks. I wouldn't have minded so much if she'd dressed him in his frogman's outfit, but Ken's trunks? Well, I just couldn't let that happen to a buddy."

She loved these moments when he was filled with happy memories of Samantha, but when he didn't continue, the curiosity was too much for her. "And ... how did you get the scar?" she asked.

"I guess Joe didn't think going swimming with Barbie was as bad an idea as I did. During the skirmish with Samantha he stabbed me with his bayonet. I had to get eight stitches. See, a regular in the ER even then." He started to laugh and Scully joined in, the same infectious giggle he'd heard on the baseball diamond a few hours earlier. God, he loved to hear her laugh like that.

"Somehow I have a hard time picturing you playing with dolls, Mulder," she said, once the laughter had subsided.

A stern look appeared on his face where the smile had just been. "Scully," he scolded, "G.I. Joe is not a doll. He's an action figure."

"Oh, sor-ry," she said, placing his foot back in her lap and reaching for the towel and ice bag. As the coolness of the ice began to filter through the towel and onto his sore toe, he was wishing the warmth of her hands would return, her gentle ministrations making his foot feel better than the ice ever could.

"Samantha loved dolls," he reminisced. "She had all shapes and sizes, but she loved those Barbies best. Did you ever play with dolls, Scully?" he asked, trying to get her to meet his gaze. "Or was that another of those pastimes you didn't partake in because you had more 'necessary' things to do with your time?"

Scully glanced at him quickly, but returned her attention to his foot. "No, dolls were Melissa's thing. She loved Barbie too. She had hundreds of them. Well, at least it seemed like hundreds." Scully smiled. "She used to try and get me to play dolls with her all the time. Then one day I lined all her various and sundry Barbies up on the fence behind our house and shot their heads off with my BB gun. She didn't ask me anymore after that."

Mulder laughed. "Old Sure-Shot Scully, even then, huh? No wonder you kick my butt every time we're at the firing range. I guess you spent your childhood playing doctor then?"

"And I'd say it's a good thing I did," Scully replied, as she carefully placed his foot back on the pillow so as not to dislodge the ice. "Good practice since I have an accident prone partner who winds up in the ER at the drop of a hat ... or the drop of a pitching machine, as the case may be."

"A match made in heaven," he smiled up at her. "But you're usually not in this good a mood after a few hours with me in the ER. What gives?"

She crossed her arms in front of her and looked down at him. "Well, I wouldn't want this secret to get out, Mulder, but I actually kind of enjoy it when we have to make a trip to the ER." He looked wounded, so she quickly continued. "I mean trips like the one tonight, when you're not seriously hurt. I make a game of it, actually."

"A game?"

"Uh-huh. I use the opportunity to try and sharpen my medical skills. I don't get a chance to see many live patients, except you, of course, so while I'm in the waiting room or your cubicle, I listen to what's going on around me, the other patients giving the doctors their symptoms, and I try to diagnose the problem. It's good practice." The wounded look hadn't subsided so she added, "Of course, if you're seriously injured, my eyes, ears, and thoughts are only on you, Mulder. Scout's honor."

He shook his head. "I spend half the afternoon planning a romantic evening and now I find out all I have to do to turn you on is make a trip to the emergency room."

He tried to grab the words and stuff them back in his mouth, but the eyebrow went up, the head cocked to the side, and he knew it was too late. "That was supposed to be a romantic evening, Mulder?"

< Strike one >

He didn't seem to be able to look anywhere except at his hands folded in his lap. "Well, it was supposed to be. A night under the stars, me sharing something I love with you. I *thought* it would be romantic."

"And I take it the trip to the ER wasn't a part of the original plan for the evening's festivities?"

Finally he looked up at her and laughed as sarcastically as he knew how. "Not hardly."

Her arms were still folded across her chest. "And this 'romantic' evening. Did it end with batting practice? Or was there more to it?"

"There was more," he looked down at his hands again, and then back into her eyes. "I thought we'd come back here for dinner, and then we'd talk, and I had some things that I wanted to tell you ..."

"Dinner?" she interrupted. "Champagne and caviar to start us off?"

"No ..." his voice trailed off as his attention returned to the loose thread on his jeans. "I wanted it to be the complete ballpark experience, you know? So I got hot dogs and beer, and peanuts and popcorn. And ice cream. *Real* ice cream. No nonfat tofutti rice dreamsicles. The real deal. Actual cows were involved."

She tried to suppress her smile as she took a seat next to him on the couch. "That sounds nice, Mulder."

"It would have been if I wasn't such a klutz," he said, kicking the coffee table with his good foot. "Ow!" he shouted, grabbing it quickly. "Great, now I think I broke a toe on this one."

"Let me see," Scully said as she put her hands over his and straightened his leg out to rest the foot alongside the other on the coffee table. She scooted forward and inspected each toe carefully. "No, just a bump, that's all. Let me rub it a little to take the sting out of it."

How wonderful it felt to have her hands massaging the hurt away. "Feel better now?" she asked, looking back at him.

"Well, it's still a little sore. Maybe you could kiss it and make it better," he replied with a sheepish grin.

She gave him the eyebrow once more, and then watched the look of total shock overtake him as she bent down and placed a featherlight kiss on the top of his big toe. He sat with his mouth hanging open, continuing to stare at the toe, as she settled back against the couch cushions. When he finally looked at her, she gave him the dazzling Scully-smile he'd only seen a few times before. "Does it hurt anyplace else?"

"Well, when you were checking my foot before, I think I bit my lip. That kind of hurts," he responded, sticking it out a bit more than usual so she could see.

"Right here?" she asked, first tracing it with her index finger and then leaning over to touch her lips to the same spot. Oh, Mulder, if only you knew, she thought. When she had walked into that basement office nearly seven years ago to meet her brand new partner, one of the first things she noticed was that luscious lower lip. And even as she was struggling to introduce herself, she was wondering if she'd ever have a chance to do what she was doing right now. Could almost seven years of anticipation live up to the actual moment? As Mulder began to return the kiss, she knew that her imagination didn't even begin to rival reality.

She wasn't sure just when, but Mulder's arms had moved around her as she was lost in thought, and his lips had left hers to begin a trail of soft kisses down her neck to just above her collarbone. As she was thinking she could get used to this, really used to this, Mulder pulled his hand around with the idea of placing it elsewhere, and his thumb brushed just under her armpit.

"Mulder!" she shrieked, pulling back from him quickly.

"What's wrong?" he asked, a look of genuine concern crossing his face.

"I'm sorry," she said, "it's just that I'm ticklish there. You surprised me, that's all."

"Here?" he smirked, grasping her wrist, pulling her arm away from her side, and using the fingers of his other hand to begin tickling his way up the inside of her arm toward the spot that elicited such a squeal a moment before.

"Yes, stop it," she said, raising her voice slightly and punching his shoulder with her free fist, but he'd found the spot again and began the torment vigorously this time. "Mulder!" she yelled at the top of her lungs, followed by uncontrollable giggling that got louder and louder as the torture continued.

"Scully, shhhh, you'll wake the neighbors," he said, finally stopping the game and taking her hands in his.

She was almost hiccuping as the giggles subsided. "Oh yeah, right, Mulder," she replied, trying to get herself under control again. "A few weeks ago I was on the floor of this apartment screaming bloody murder while a madman tried to remove my heart from my chest. I even fired six shots into the wall. And your neighbors never even bothered to call the police."

"Well, that's when there was mayhem involved," Mulder said. "You can bet your boots that if they thought there was even a chance that I was getting laid in here, they would be outside that door listening at the keyhole in a minute." It wasn't until she had pulled her hands out of his, leaned back, and folded her arms across her chest again that he even realized what he said.

< Strike two >

"Getting laid? Is that how you really expected this night to end? I thought you said this evening was about romance."

He wasn't sure if it was supposed to be a rhetorical question or whether he was supposed to come up with an answer, but he replied anyway. "I didn't know that one necessarily precluded the other."

She stared at him for a few seconds longer, ran her fingers through her hair, and stood up. Mulder's eyes turned back to his foot still on the coffee table and he silently cursed himself for his stupidity. Even with a broken toe you can still get that foot in your mouth, you idiot, he thought, as he looked back up into her eyes, waiting for her to head for the door.

But instead, she bent down and removed the ice from where it still rested on his toe. "I think this has been here long enough," she said. "We should get the foot elevated a little more now." With that, she patted the couch cushions that she had just vacated. "Here. Swing your legs up here."

Without a word, he complied, and she took the pillow that had been under his foot and placed it behind his shoulders. "Now scoot down a little," she said, folding up the blanket that was usually stretched across the back of the sofa into a tight rectangle and placing it on the armrest. "Put your feet up here." He did as she said, and she positioned them to her satisfaction on top of the blanket. "I think that should be okay. Comfy?"

He shook his head quickly, not looking up to meet her eyes, but she bent down over him grabbing the bottom of the black long-sleeved tee shirt he had worn under the Grays jersey. "Let's take this off," she said as she tugged until he raised his arms to let her pull it over his head. "That'll be more comfortable." He looked up at her, wishing he could say what he was thinking: that removing the shirt only served to remind him that he was going to be spending a chilly night on the couch. But then what she was doing finally registered. She was pulling her own black tee shirt over her head.

"Scully, what are you doing?" he whispered, but she silenced him with a look, kicked off her shoes, and quickly peeled off her black slacks and pantyhose with one motion. He knew his mouth was hanging open again, as she stood before him in matching light blue panties and bra, hands on her hips. Before he could think of anything else to say, she leaned over him once more, and began to unbutton and unzip his jeans. "Scully ..." he said again, "what ..."

She let go of his Levis and stood up, looking directly down into his eyes. "Mulder, did you or did you not say that tonight was my birthday gift?"

"Yes, but ..." he stammered, though she didn't give him a chance to go on.

"And isn't it customary to allow the person whose birthday it is to unwrap the gifts any way he or she pleases without commentary from the guests at the party?"

He nodded his head slowly and tried to speak, but no words would come out. "All right, then," she said, and went back to the task at hand. With only a thin piece of silk standing in the way of what hovered so painfully close to his face, Mulder brought his hands up toward her breasts, but Scully quickly batted them away. "Ah, ah, ah," she said. "Hips before hands," patting his side to indicate he should raise his bottom off the couch. As he did, she pulled the jeans and boxers down quickly, maneuvering them down his legs, and ever so gently over the broken toe.

"You learn fast," he said, as she dropped the jeans and boxers on top of the rapidly accumulating pile of clothing on the floor.

"I had a good coach," she replied, and then stood at the end of the sofa, crossing her arms over her breasts, studying him from head to foot, surveying her handiwork stretched out buck naked before her. She'd seen him in the buff several times, but never like this. Never when they were both completely healthy, broken toe excepted, never when his life wasn't hanging in the balance, never when he was as obviously aroused as he was right at this moment.

After a few minutes had passed, Mulder finally broke the silence. "Well, aren't you going to say anything?" he asked.

She looked him over once more and smiled. "It's not as big as I thought it would be."

As his face, and his arousal, fell at almost the same moment, she couldn't keep a straight face any longer. "The toe ... I was talkin' about the toe," she said giving him a quick wink along with the giggle. "It's not as swollen as I thought it would be."

"That's not funny," he pouted, but the joke at his expense was quickly forgotten as she climbed on top of him and claimed the lip between her teeth. His arms immediately encircled her, and she released his lip, kissing the tip of his nose and staring into those beautiful hazel eyes filled with desire just for her. "Is this really what you want, Scully?" he asked. "Really?"

"It's what I've wanted for a long time, Mulder," she replied softly as he stroked her hair. She sat up resting on his thighs and guided his hand from her hair to behind her back at the clasp of her bra. But to her surprise, he pulled his hand away and leaned back on his elbows.

"Don't you want to move this to the bedroom, Scully?" he asked. "Don't you want our first time to be somewhere a little more special than this couch?"

"There's nowhere more special than this couch, Mulder," she responded, placing her hands on his chest and pushing him back down. "As a matter of fact, I can't imagine our first time being anywhere else." She could see the questioning look in his eyes, so she continued. "This couch is like an old friend to me. It's where you and I got to know each other. Where we've shared a lot of laughs and a lot of tears. Where we've faced our fears and chased them away. Where we've shared our hopes and dreams. It's where I fell in love with you. And I can't think of any other place where a new phase of our relationship should begin."

She said she was in love with him so matter-of-factly that he was afraid to be anything more than matter-of-fact himself. "Just like that?" he asked. "I thought women wanted foreplay. Lots and lots of foreplay."

"Mulder," she purred, a wicked smile poised on her lips. "We've had almost seven years of foreplay. I think that's enough for any woman."

The way he gazed at her made her heart nearly melt. But she could tell he still wasn't convinced. "Yeah, but Scully, don't you think ..."

She put a finger across his lips. "We're not going to think, Mulder. We're just going to make contact. We're just going to let it fly, okay?"

"Mmmm-hmmmm ..." he closed his eyes as she leaned forward again and started a line of kisses down his chest.

"And what you may find ..." "...is you concentrate on hitting this one out of the park ..." "... and the rest of the world just fades away..." "... all your everyday, nagging concerns ..." "... the pain in your broken toe ..." "... how you probably couldn't afford that nice, new Armani suit on a G-Man's salary ..." "... how you threw away a promising career at the FBI to hunt aliens with a skeptical, albeit beautiful, partner ..." He opened his eyes and she stopped the kisses and met his gaze. "Your obscenely overdue triple-X bill. And just so we're clear, Mulder, you might notice that I didn't mention getting into the heart of a global conspiracy, because that problem isn't yours alone. It's ours. Together. I thought you understood that by now. Don't make that mistake again, okay?"

He responded with a huge smile and reached behind her back, unclasping the bra and watching it fall softly onto his chest. "Shut up, Scully," he said. "I think I'm about to get lucky."

*   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *

He woke up with a start, his mouth dry, the blanket pulled up around his chin, his feet still propped on the sofa's armrest, and most noticeably, alone. He raised up and blinked, trying to adjust his eyes to the darkness, listening for any sounds at all to indicate that Scully hadn't left or that the whole thing hadn't been a dream. He laid his arm on the back of the couch to pull himself into a sitting position, and there it was - the undeniable feel of silk under his fingertips. Definitely Scully's panties, and he noticed the bra was also draped over the couch cushions, just a little further down. Evidence that he hadn't imagined it, at least. When she said she wanted their first time to be on this couch, he had his doubts, thinking it logistically impossible. But Scully said they would work it out together, because that's what they did best, and of course she was right, as always.

But as he listened intently, he still heard no sounds coming from anywhere in the apartment, so if she'd left, she'd left without her underwear. "Scully?" he called. No answer. "Scully? Are you here?"

"In the kitchen, Mulder," she yelled back, just loud enough for him to hear. "I'm just getting you some more Tylenol. I'll be right there."

"Okay," he said, smoothing the blanket around his waist. "I just wanted to make sure you were all right."

She was only a shadow as she rounded the corner from his foyer to the living room, and she paused to click on the floor lamp on the other side of the room. He wasn't prepared for the vision before him, Scully dressed in the Grays jersey he'd worn hours before. It hung almost to her knees in the front, but her thighs peeked out from both sides as she crossed the room carrying the pills and water. Just like before, he thought, but not. In the course of a few hours, everything had changed.

"I'm fine, Mulder," she said, sitting next to his outstretched frame on the edge of the sofa. "I was getting something to eat. I did get gypped out of my dinner, as you might remember." She smiled warmly. "But you were sleeping so soundly I didn't have the heart to wake you. Do you want me to fix you something?"

"No, I'm good," he smiled back. "More than good."

"But the toe hurts a little bit, I'll bet," she said, handing him the pills and water. "It's way past time for your medication."

"Actually, I hadn't noticed," he replied, tossing the pills in his mouth and taking a gulp of water. "My mind was otherwise occupied."

"Good," she smiled as she took the glass from his hands and placed a quick kiss on his cheek. "I guess we have a new way to deal with pain management in the future then, don't we?"

He laughed and took her hand in his. "You're so beautiful, Scully. I love you so much." He put his arms around her and pulled her close. "And that's not the medication talking," he whispered. "It wasn't the medication talking the first time I said it either."

She touched her forehead to his and played with the hair at the base of his neck. "I know, Mulder. I guess I just wasn't ready to hear it that time. But good things come to those who wait."

"Cliches again," he sighed. "Well, then, there's no time like the present."

"Absence makes the heart grow fonder."

"Time and tide wait for no man."

"Nothing ventured, nothing gained."

"Okay, I know when I'm licked," he said, and she placed a kiss on his forehead. "What time is it anyway?"

"It's about 3:30," she said, rising from the couch and heading toward the bedroom.

"I guess you're ready to get some sleep, huh?" Mulder called after her.

Her head popped back around the corner. "Sleep?" She looked at him incredulously. "I hate to tell you this, Mulder, but this is just the seventh inning stretch. If your toe is bothering you that much, maybe I'd better place you on the disabled list and look for a pinch hitter."

He laughed and sat up straight, bringing his feet gently down to the floor. "Something tells me you know a little bit more about baseball then you let on tonight," he said, looking back at her over his shoulder.

"Well, I must confess that brother Bill tried to teach me once, but he wasn't as good an instructor as you are, Mulder," she replied. "Maybe the next time I see him, I'll tell him what he can do to make the national pastime more interesting."

"Oh, good," Mulder said as he put his elbows on his knees and rubbed his eyes with his fists. "Give him one more reason to hate me."

Scully giggled before resuming her trip to the bedroom, but a few seconds later, her head popped around the corner again. "Can I ask you something, Mulder?" He looked back at her, waiting for the question that he already knew she wanted to ask. "Why tonight? We've been at this same place so many times before. Why did you take this step tonight?"

He thought for a moment and sighed, turning away from her, his eyes straight ahead. "Two reasons, I guess," he began. "I told you about meeting Mr. Dales today and the things we talked about. A lot of important things. And he said that I should start paying a little less attention to the heart of the mystery and a little more attention to the mystery of the heart, and I think he was right. He's a wise man, Mr. Dales."

"The 'other' Mr. Dales," she said with that skeptical lilt to her voice. "The one who has the same name as his brother." He nodded and Scully just shook her head. "And the other reason?"

He looked back at her again. "What?"

"The other reason, Mulder," she replied. "You said there were two reasons. What was the other one?"

This time his eyes stayed connected with hers and his voice was strong and clear as he answered. "Because of what happened a few weeks ago with Padgett." He paused a moment and then continued, "I thought I'd lost you, Scully. But not when you were laying on this floor covered with blood. Before that. You were acting different, and when Padgett said you were already in love, I thought maybe you were in love with someone else. And I kept kicking myself for being so stupid and being in love with you almost from the moment I met you and never doing anything about it. And then after what Mr. Dales said today, well, I guess it gave me the courage that I needed." He'd said it, finally managed to get it all out, and he looked away, staring at the floor beneath his feet.

She was around the corner in an instant, kneeling beside him and taking one hand in hers and stroking his hair with the other. "Oh, Mulder," she said, "who else would I be in love with?" He looked up at her then, and they shared another brief kiss. "C'mon," she said, standing up and pulling him up carefully with her. "Let's go to bed."

The blanket fell away and he was naked again. She slung his left arm over her shoulder and grasped him around the waist with her right arm. "You know, gimpy," she teased, "I've been rethinking the plans for tomorrow. I think we should just stay here all day."

"Really," he said. "And what brought you to that conclusion?"

"Well," she replied as they neared the bedroom door, "I saw that there's an Orioles game on TV tomorrow. I thought maybe we could stay in bed and watch it and you could teach me all about the finer points of the game."

"That sounds like a good plan," he said, grabbing the bedroom doorknob and swinging the door open in front of them. "But I thought you had work to do."

"So we're a little less prepared for the meeting with Skinner, so what?" she laughed. "I think furthering my baseball education is a little more important."

"I couldn't agree more," Mulder responded as they headed slowly toward the bed.

"But just be forewarned, Mulder," Scully said as she helped him sit on the side of the bed. "Cal Ripken is not the only Ironman I expect to see tomorrow."

"I'll do my best to live up to his example," Mulder whispered, pulling Scully between his legs and lifting the Gray's jersey over her head. "Right now, though, I think I'm ready to go into extra innings." He started to place a kiss on her belly button, but she tipped his chin up to look into her eyes.

"Oh, what the heck, Mulder," Scully smiled. "Put your money where your mouth is. Let's make it a double header."

The End

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The 5W September Challenge: Who, What, When, Where, Why
Who: Mulder & Scully
What: Their first time
Where: Location, location, location
When: When did it happen?
Why: Premeditated or spontaneous?
Elements: Muldertoes, Scully being vocal (in any way), the Mulder lip, a 'wink'