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An Acceptable Level of Happiness


It won’t be the first time we’ve had sex on the floor. I start to kneel as he kisses me, thinking wryly that we’re getting too old and sedate for this sort of thing, but he stops me. He peels off my sweater and stands for a moment, caressing the soft wool.

I say quietly, “The door has no lock.”

He glances at the table and gets his slow, feral grin. The linen tablecloth comes down to the floor. The table is long enough to shelter us, high enough to fit us beneath it. It’ll be like making love in a play fort, but when Mulder lifts the tablecloth and quirks his eyebrow at me I don’t hesitate to duck underneath.

Curtained in by the tablecloth, Mulder folds my sweater and puts it beneath my head. I have to smile at his effort to make me comfortable. I help him of with his jacket and pull the knot from his tie. I kiss his neck, my hand in his hair. With the other I work open the buttons on his shirt. I want as much of his skin as I can get.

He kisses my shoulders, nudging the straps of my dress off until they fall to my elbows, and lowers the bodice of the dress to reveal my bra. “Off?”

I hesitate. Nursing mothers release milk during arousal. I just nursed an hour ago but it’s still going to make a mess. On the other hand I want Mulder’s mouth on my breasts.

I lower the cups, his gaze burning into my skin. There’s a drop of milk on my nipple already, translucent like a tiny pearl. Mulder touches his finger to my nipple and licks the drop from his fingertip, and smiles at me. “It’s like . . . coconut milk,” he whispers, and kisses me. His hand cups my breast, and his thumb circles my nipple, careful not to press too hard, aware that I’m sensitive everywhere but especially here.

His breath is hot and quick as he moves his mouth over my face, kissing me. I run my hands up and down his chest and shoulders, kissing him whenever he gets close enough to my mouth. I let my eyes fall closed as his mouth fastens onto the peak of my breast, and the soft wet sound of his mouth seems very loud in the stillness of the room. His hand works my dress down and off my body and he stops kissing my breasts long enough to put my dress aside.

“The real reason you wanted me to wear these today,” I whisper, tugging a garter strap.

He chuckles, kissing my belly. “I wasn’t planning this. Honest. I just wanted to think about you wearing them all day.” He moves up my body to kiss my mouth, and I wrap my arms and legs around him. The cloth of his tuxedo rasping against my skin through the silk raises goosebumps, and I moan again and again as he kisses me and grinds his hips against mine.

Finally he pulls back, kneeling between my spread legs and ducking low to avoid hitting his head, and searches in the pocket of his jacket. He pulls out a condom, and the foil wrapper glints in the gloom. The pace of both our breathing speeds up as he unbuttons his trousers and pushes them past his hips. His hands shake so much that he can’t tear the foil open, and I put my hands on his, meaning to take it.

Instead I put the packet aside.  “Scully?” he whispers, lowering his body onto mine. He caresses my cheek and our eyes meet.

“We don’t need that,” I say, and a deep shiver runs down my body.

“Scully,” he says, pleased, a smile hesitating around his mouth, and he kisses me deeply. He moves my underwear aside, exposing my folds to his fingers, and it takes just a caress or two to satisfy him that I’m ready for him. As if my moans, rigid nipples and writhing thighs weren’t enough to convince him. He licks my moisture from his fingertips and smiles at me once more. He slides his hand down my belly. “I want to tell you something.”

“What, love?” I cup his face in my hands, stroking my thumbs along his cheekbones.

“Sometimes—when I could think—when it was quiet—I’d think about you. I’d focus on one little thing that I missed. Like your laugh or the way you kissed me or that smile you’d get when you were pretending to be annoyed with me.”

“I wasn’t always pretending,” I tease softly, pulling his head down for more kisses.

He whispers against my mouth, his fingers molding my hips, “I didn’t forget the way you taste, Scully,” and I moan again, opening my mouth to his tongue. His thumb parts my flesh and he presses the head of his cock to my entrance. There’s a push and a sigh, and then he is inside me, scorching hot, smooth as satin, hard as a bone.

I wrap my legs around him again, my knees high. I want him deep. “Oh, that’s it,” I whisper, and he chuckles low in his chest. He gives me a moment for my body to adjust to him before he puts his back into it, thrusting hard, and my hips move of their own accord to answer him.

Mulder keeps his mouth on mine most of the time, swallowing my cries. I’m terrified someone will stumble across us, even though if tonight goes as it always has no one will eat until after the children open their presents. But not all of the desserts are out on the table, and who knows when someone will get the idea to finish putting them out. The room is so quiet that I can hear every slish, every bump of my ass against the floor, every slap of our bellies. There’s no mistaking the sounds we make.

I love this. I can admit that freely. Simple flat-out fucking—it’s a wonderful thing. I love it when he kisses me hard and deep, his tongue thrusting against my teeth and the roof of my mouth. I love it when he squeezes my breasts. I love the sounds we make. I love that he always kisses me like he means it. I love it when he breaks off his kisses to groan, “God, I love you—I love you, Scully—” his eyes squeezed shut and his head thrown back with ecstasy. I love the warm gush of his come bathing my womb. I love his weight in my arms, his heaving chest and sweaty, slick back. I love his tender hand in my hair and his soft kiss on my lips.

Mulder lets his head fall against my neck and he takes a deep breath. “Thank you,” he whispers, kissing my ear, and I don’t have to ask him for what he’s thanking me.

I just say, “You’re welcome, love,” and rub my nose against his.

“Did you—?” he whispers, and I shake my head. He sighs. “I’m sorry, baby.”

“It’s okay, love. You can make it up to me later.” I grin at him and he grins back.

“I could even do it now,” he says, leering at me, and I laugh, brushing my fingertips over his lips.

“Later. Malcolm should be waking up soon, if he hasn’t already.”

Mulder nods, reluctantly preparing to pull to disengage us and return to some semblance of propriety. The table is high but there’s still not a lot of room beneath it, and he bumps his head against the tabletop. “Damn,” he mutters, rubbing his head.

“Are you all right?” I laugh a little despite my concern.

“Yeah, yeah . . . sex is so graceless, have you never noticed that?”

“I have.” I can’t keep the smile off my face.

He smirks and says, “Especially with me, huh?”

This time I laugh out loud. “You’re perfect, Mulder. You’re just right.”

He smiles and kisses me.

We both freeze when we hear the door to the dining room open and footsteps enter. “Dana?” Billy calls, and Mulder and I look at each other in panic. Billy says to someone else, “She did say they came in here, didn’t they?”

“Yes,” says Charlie. I bite my lip and bury my face in Mulder’s neck. I do not want my brothers to discover us half-naked beneath this table. I can feel Mulder’s chest shaking, trying to hold in his laughter.

“Well, nobody’s here.”

“Maybe they went for a walk,” Charlie says mildly. His voice is closer to the table. I hear a soft tap, and Mulder’s eyes go very wide as he pulls his feet beneath the tablecloth.

“Without the baby? Maybe they went upstairs.” Bill leaves the dining room.

There’s a moment of silence, and Charlie says in a low voice, “All clear, you crazy kids,” and shuts the door.

When I stop laughing and get my breath back I tell Mulder, “Never, ever, *ever* again. Ever.”

“All right. I’m sorry, Scully,” though his expre
ssion says he’s anything but. He kisses me hard, and then gets a handkerchief from his tuxedo jacket and starts to clean me up so we can get dressed.


The idea behind the gift exchange is for the children to get to know each other better. They each choose a name to get a present for, and the only conditions are to get them something they’ll really like and that doesn’t cost much. With Charlie stationed overseas so much and the rest of the family scattered far and wide, the children rarely get to see each other and barely know their cousins at all.

I sit on the sofa with Malcolm on my lap, hoping no one will notice how mussed my hair has suddenly become or that Mulder has a lovebite on his neck. So far we haven’t gotten so much as a sidelong glance, but that could just be politeness. Or everyone is too busy to notice. Which would be just fine.

Malcolm was given the name of my cousin Ryan’s daughter Chelsea, who is eight and likes Barbie dolls and unicorns. We bought her a Fairy Princess Barbie, which she liked so much she gives Malcolm a kiss. Charlie’s oldest son Spencer drew Malcolm’s name, and he waits eagerly by the couch while I help Malcolm tear the paper off the package.

“Mom said this was really good for his age,” Spencer says, almost dancing in his eagerness to see Malcolm’s reaction.

“I’m sure he’ll love it,” I assure him, as Malcolm stuffs a wad of wrapping paper in his mouth. The gift turns out to be an electronic keyboard designed for babies, with ten big colorful keys and buttons to make the sounds change.

“We put batteries in it,” Josie says, who is sitting on the other side of me, so Mulder turns it on and gives the keys a press. Malcolm starts visibly, his eyes going wide.

“Where did that come from?” Mulder interprets, and presses a key again. “See, Malcolm? Music.” He presses a button to change the sound from regular synthesizer to animal noises: a cow’s moo, a cat’s meow, a horse’s neigh. Malcolm watches Mulder’s fingers, and then slams his fist onto a key, making the keyboard bray.

“He likes it,” I tell Spencer. “Thank you so much. Say thank you, Malcolm.” Malcolm babbles something, pressing keys and wriggling with excitement at each new sound.

Spencer grins and gives a little jump, and runs back to join his cousins closer to his age.

“This is really cool,” Mulder says, pressing keys too and changing the noises. “Thanks, Josie.”

“As long as you let Malcolm play with it sometimes,” Josie says with a laugh. Mulder glances up at her, grinning, and goes on playing with the buttons.

“Mom, Mom, Mom!” Spencer cries, running back into the living room, followed by his cousins. “It’s snowing again, Mom! Can we go out and play?”

“Put your coats on,” Josie instructs, and calls after them as they scamper to the coat room, “And your boots!”

“Can we go out and play, Mom?” Mulder asks me.

“Bundle up.” I smile back at him.

“Yes’m.” He takes Malcolm from my lap and gives me a kiss, and carries Malcolm to the coatroom.

After a moment Josie observes, “He seems better.”

“Yes.” I put the keyboard back in the box, hoping to transport it home with minimal damage. Most of the other adults have drifted into the dining room, seeking dessert, or are helping the children into their coats to play in the snow. The living room is suddenly quiet except for the crackling of the fire.

“He seems very . . . relaxed.” I glance at Josie. Her face is innocent but she’s got a hint of a smile. She says, watching Georgia sleep in her lap, “When Charlie and I were first married we couldn’t keep our hands off each other for an hour at a time. And I used to wonder if it would last—you know, you hear about how couples get tired of each other. Especially when you marry young.”

I nod. Charlie was only twenty-one and Josie was twenty when they married. Everyone said they should wait, but Charlie only said, “What for?”

“But,” Josie goes on, “fifteen years and five children later, the magic is still there. Love is so . . . mysterious, don’t you think?”

“Yes,” I say quietly. Mysterious, wonderful, terrifying, beautiful, all of the above and more.

“It’s strange, too, how you never know who you’re going to love until you love them.”

“One day they’re pests . . . the next you can’t live without them,” I murmur. It didn’t happen exactly like that for me but that’s the way it feels sometimes. I didn’t love Mulder, and then I did.

This line of thinking makes me want to hold him again, and I stand up from the sofa. “I think I’m going to play in the snow too,” I say, and Josie smiles with understanding.

Hastily I put on my coat and boots and go outside. The children are playing in the front yard, throwing snowballs and trying to form snowmen. Mulder has Malcolm safely in his arms, a good distance from the other children, and he’s teaching Malcolm to catch snowflakes with his tongue. They both smile when they see me, and Malcolm squeals and holds out his arms.

“Hello, my baby,” I say, taking him and giving him a kiss. “What do you think of snow, Malcolm?”

“I think he likes it,” Mulder says. “Even though it’s cold.”

“Brr!” says Malcolm.

“Exactly! Brr!” He kisses Malcolm and puts his arms around us both, giving us a strong hug. “How are you holding up?” he asks me, kissing me too.

“I’m almost ready to go, I think. It’s been a long day.”

“That it has.” He rests his chin on the top of my head a moment. “I’ve been thinking about your case.”

“Oh? And what have you thought?”

“Do you think your partner would object if I put in a few hours on it?”

I smile and say, “I’m sure his partner can persuade him not to object.”

Mulder chuckles and rocks us slightly, and then says,” “You know, Scully . . . the whole thing with us making love . . . it’s really great . . .”

“Yes,” I say emphatically, and he chuckles.

“I mean, you—us—it’s always been deeper than sex, don’t you think?”

“Well . . . I think I’ve always known what we’ve got isn’t what other people have. There’s trust and friendship and genuine liking and reliance . . . and a lot of good old-fashioned lust. Lust has its uses.”

“Lust is a lot of fun,” Mulder says quietly, and smiles at me. “Anyway, I just wanted to say I’m not expecting miracles. I know that sex isn’t going to solve everything.”

“No, it’s not.” I look up at him, stroking Malcolm’s head while he gums the strings on his cap. “But the things it does solve, they’re worth solving.” I add after a moment, “You know I love you, don’t you?”

“It’s always nice to hear you say so.”

“I’ll try to say it more often.” I lean my head against his chest. “Are you happy?”

“You’ve asked me that already.”

“So I’m asking again. Are you happy, Mulder?”

He kisses the top of my head, and Malcolm’s too. “Yes. Right now I couldn’t ask for anything more.”

“I could.”

“Oh?” He looks down at me, startled.

“I think I’d like a daughter.” I kiss Malcolm’s head while Mulder just holds us, his eyes wide and damp with astonishment and gladness. “Though another son would be just fine.”

Mulder shakes his head slowly, kissing my hair again. “All right, Scully. All right.”

I smile and nuzzle my face against his chest. After a moment or two the children run to us, begging Mulder to help them build a fort, and he kisses me and goes to join them.

“Where’s Daddy? Where’s Daddy?” I ask Malcolm until he chortles and points to him, making his “da-da” sound.” “There’s Daddy! Do you see Daddy with playing your cousins? Wave to Daddy!” Malcolm waves, which for him is opening and closing his hand, and Mulder waves back, grinning.

Malcolm is apple-cheeked. It’s time to get him inside. I wave to Mulder too and turn to the house, where I’ll eat gingerbread cake and talk to my relatives and think about how I am probably the luckiest woman alive. I have everything I’ve ever wanted, which is more than I thought I would ever get, and it’s Christmas Day.

Malcolm pats my cheek, looking at m
e with raised eyebrows. “Mumumum?” he says, the closest he’s gotten to saying Mama yet.

“Would you like to go inside?” I ask him, and he nods solemnly. “Let’s go inside.” I watch Mulder for a moment more, and then take the baby into the house.



What started out as a simple improv turned into . . . this. Back in November I wrote a little “Mulder comes home” vignette called “Reunion”, and thinking about that story brought up quite a few themes I knew I’d want to deal with in greater detail. When this improv opportunity came up it seemed like the perfect framework to explore those themes. Imagine my surprise when it turned into something so . . . long.

I know nothing this light’n’fluffy will ever grace our TV screens on “The X-Files”, but it’s nice to hope, isn’t it? Manalive, I want to see them happy someday.

The Elements:

—Mulder and Scully playing in snow

—Scully dancing to Cotton Eye Joe while Mulder yells at a rubber ducky in a tuxedo

—Mulder in nothing but a Santa hat with Mickey Mouse ears

—Mulder lecturing Scully about the pagan origins of mistletoe and Christmas tree ornaments

—Mulder&Scully doing the nasty horizontal mambo under the Christmas table

The Music:
“You’re A Mean One, Mr. Grinch” by Dr. Seuss (Theodore Geisel), lyrics courtesy of”>>

“Cotton-Eye Joe” by Rednex: Janne Ericsson/Oban/Pat Reinex, 1994. Lyrics courtesy of”>>

“Ding Dong Merrily on High” is a tradional Christmas carol and belongs to everybody.

The Thanks:
—Lyle Lovett for the title.
—Scullyfic for the impetus to write this.
—My betas for being so patient with me.
—My readers for being even more patient during the last six weeks.

Oh, and the actual line from “Peter Pan” goes like this: “When the first baby laughed for the first time, the laugh broke into a thousand pieces and they all went skipping about, and that was the beginning of fairies.” Peter Pan is by James M. Barrie.

I think that’s everything. 😉

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