Title: As Stars Go Out Again
Series: Stranger Than Fiction
Fandom: X-Files/LOTR RPS
Characters: Dana Scully/Dominic Monaghan
Notes: For SpicedRum: I’m your badger. You’re my spoon. And for Meridy, who seconded that motion.
Summary: Rain. New York City. A young actor with nothing to do, and the FBI agent watching over him.
Agent Kennedy was apologetic when he opened the hotel room door. “I know it’s short notice–we’ll owe the Washington office big time–“
“Yes, you will,” Doggett muttered, and Scully shushed him with a glance.
It was a suite, really, not a room–a gracious gold and cream sitting room, with a door to one side that opened to the bedroom and the balcony beyond. The balcony faced the courtyard: Scully could think of no other reason why Agent Kennedy was allowing the young man–her charge, she supposed–to sit just outside the sliding glass doors. He appeared to be calm–except for one jiggling foot–staring hard at the pouring rain, a cigarette dangling unsmoked from his long fingers.
“Mr. Monaghan?” Agent Kennedy said, leading them to the balcony. “These are Agents Doggett and Scully. Agent Scully will be guarding you for the next twelve hours.”
The young man–slender, wearing a bright yellow t-shirt with the logo of Cheerios cereal and jeans that hung low on his hips–got up from the plastic lounge chair and came into the bedroom. What she had thought was a cigarette was in fact a black Sharpie pen, and there was a notebook under his arm. He was taller than she had expected, and looked like he hadn’t showered or possibly even slept for a day or two: his dark blond hair stuck up in every direction and black eyeliner was smudged beneath his eyes. He stuck out his hand to Scully and said, “Hullo. This is all bollocks, you know.”
“We hardly consider your life and those of your friends to be ‘bollocks’, Mr. Monaghan,” Scully said, shaking his hand while Doggett smirked and Kennedy made sputtering noises.
“Mr. Monaghan, I assure you–“
“I know, I know,” he said, dismissing his complaint with a wave. “Murder and bomb threats and all sorts of things. All very serious. I know.”
Kennedy must have decided it was pointless to argue, and said to Doggett, “We need to be on our way.”
“Will you be okay?” Doggett said to Scully softly.
“Of course. See you later.” She put her hand on his a moment, and he gave her fingers a squeeze. The boy–and it was hard not to think of him as a boy, with his hair sticking every which way and face full of laughter–was watching them, and looked away when he noticed she had seen him. He set down his book and pen on the coffee table, stalked to the minibar and cracked open a can of soda as the door closed behind Kennedy and Doggett.
Scully put down her briefcase in the coat-closet nook by the door. “So, Mr. Monaghan,” she began.
“Call me Dom,” he said as he poured the soda into a glass. “If we’re going to be stuck in this room for twelve hours there’s no need of formality. Thirsty?” He turned back to her with two glasses full of ginger ale and ice.
“Um, thank you,” Scully said, taking a glass. “We do realize this is a frustrating situation–“
“Frustrating?” he said. “I can’t talk to my friends and apparently some nutcase has taken it into his head to kill us. Frustrating doesn’t begin to cover it.” He took a swig of his drink. “Not your fault, of course.”
“Thank you for noticing, ” Scully murmured.
“Can you tell me anything? That Agent Kennedy didn’t have any news since we got here.”
“There hadn’t been any new phone calls or bomb threats when we were briefed earlier.”
“Everyone’s okay, aren’t they?”
“Yes,” she assured him. “The Astins have been put into a safe house, and Mr. Wood and Mr. Boyd have been sequestered in different hotels. I know it’s difficult to be apart right now, but since the UNSUB wants to take out the four of you together we felt it was best to keep you separated.”
“UNSUB? What’s that?”
“Sorry–FBI jargon. It means ‘unknown subject’, that we don’t know who we’re dealing with yet.”
“A nutcase,” Dominic said.
“That describes half of New York.”
He snorted with laughter. “Is it all right if I take a shower? They hustled us out of the other hotel at three in the morning. I still smell like the nightclub.”
“Leave the door open, please. I need to be able to hear you if you need me.”
Again he laughed, cocking an eyebrow at her. His eyes were wide and very blue. “One of the perks of the job, yeah?” As he spoke he pulled off his t-shirt and dropped it on the floor. He stood in front of her barefoot and bare-chested, looking at her as if he expected her to be shocked.
Scully sighed–So we’re going to play it this way, are we?–and coolly took a sip of her soda. She let her eyes peruse him as if he were a specimen on a slide, and said in her autopsy voice, “The subject appears to be an Anglo-Saxon male, in his mid- to late-twenties. Good physical health, generally–mentally, it’s hard to say.”
He was still grinning. “Generally?”
“You’ve been living hard lately. It shows. You could use a little less vodka and a little more sleep.”
“You know, you look nothing like my mum,” he remarked and went into the bathroom.
Scully sat on the gold sofa and put her glass on the end table. She ran her hand through her hair and wondered wh
at Doggett was doing, if he was getting along with his charge or not. She heard the water in the bathroom start and allowed herself to relax against the sofa back.
After a moment Dominic stuck out his head. “Agent Scully, you’ve got a first name, don’t you?”
“It’s Dana,” she said.
“Dana,” he repeated with a nod. “Right.” He ducked back into the bathroom. She shook her head and closed her eyes, laughing quietly as he began to sing, in a booming voice, a mishmash of songs with her name in place of every Jean, Beth and baby.
This, she thought, is going to be an interesting day.
He came out of the bedroom in fresh jeans and another t-shirt, this one black with bold green letters that proclaimed ‘I like cheese.’ “Did you like my singing? I thought it was a good way for you to know where I was.”
“It worked quite well, thank you.”
“But did you like it?” he said, looking down at her with something like indulgence, something like need.
Actors. “You have a very nice voice. I enjoyed it.”
“Thanks. So. Agent Scully.” He crossed the room and flopped himself onto the gold sofa. His feet were still bare, his toenails painted purple. “What are we going to do for the next twelve hours?”
“Eleven and a half,” Scully said serenely. She got up and fetched her briefcase from the coat closet. “I brought some novels and a deck of cards. We could play gin rummy.”
“Or poker,” he said, starting to look interested.
“Not for actual money. It’s illegal.”
“Strip poker, then,” he said, looking even more interested. “Give it some real jeopardy.”
“Damn.” Idly, he rubbed the bottom of one foot with the toes of the other. “We had to cancel three interviews and a photo shoot because of this. And my friend’s band is touring America for the first time and I swore I’d come see him play tomorrow night.”
His tone was matter-of-fact but still Scully felt a twinge of impatience. She said, “And I have a three-year-old son whom I haven’t seen for almost a week and whom I promised that I’d be home today.”
Dominic raised his head. “Home? Your home’s not here?”
“My partner and I are based out of Washington, DC. We were here for another case and were checking in with the New York office when they asked us to help out.”
“And you didn’t tell them to bugger off, you’ve got a kid to get home to?”
Her mother had said the same thing to her over the phone, in much different language, of course. Scully gave him the same answer: “It’s my duty.”
Dominic looked at her for a long moment, then said, “And your kid?”
“I’ll be home tomorrow. He’ll . . . just have to wait.” He wouldn’t be happy with her, either, but he’d forgive her.
“This is all such bullshit. It’s bad enough the NYPD and the FBI are running all over the city–now you can’t get home to your baby because some nutter decided to make a statement by killing my friends! God!” He flung hi
mself off the couch and Scully braced herself for a tantrum or hysterics–but Dominic only stood there, his fists opening and closing. He took a few deep breaths in through his nose and let them out through his mouth. “All right. Sorry. I’m better now.”
Scully said in her most soothing voice, “There’s a counter-terrorism unit working on this case right now. We’re not going to let anything happen to any of you.”
“Would you be working this hard if we weren’t famous?” he asked quietly.
“Of course we would.” She hesitated, then asked, “Did Agent Kennedy tell you why you all were taken out of the other hotel so quickly this morning?”
“He said they got a bomb threat.”
“They did–there was also an actual bomb.” Dominic’s eyes grew wide, and Scully went on gently, “It went off at two forty-nine a.m. Fortunately this was late enough that the kitchen was closed and no one was hurt, but that was probably the intention. It was a small bomb, Mr. Monaghan. It was a warning. The NYPD received the actual threat at two fifty-two, and I think the timing was intentional.”
His laughing face was serious. “Why aren’t you on that team?”
“I’m not trained in counter-terrorism. I specialize elsewhere.”
“Forensic pathology. Crime scene investigation, autopsies. That sort of thing.”
He nodded slowly. “Like on ‘CSI.'”
“Sort of.” She waited, but he seemed subdued by her news. He sat on the sofa again, pulled up his knees and picked absently at his toes. “Mr. Monaghan?” she said, sitting down by his side.
Dominic looked at her and faintly smiled. “I thought I asked you to call me Dom.”
The rain continued. The sky was steely-gray, there were flashes of lightening and rumbles of thunder, and as Scully watched the rain made the pool in the courtyard overflow its sides.
Dominic sat cross-legged in the lounge chair at the other side of the small balcony, ignoring the rain for his journal. It was chilly out but he ignored that too, one bare foot jiggling as he wrote.
Scully had brought out one of her novels, but she left the book unopened on her lap and watched the rain drip off the balcony above them. The hotel seemed deserted: not another curtain stirred, no one else was sitting on their balconies, no one even braved to scurry across the courtyard. It was soothing to sit out here, to do nothing but listen to the rain fall and the scratch of his pen.
“So, Agent Scully,” Dominic said without looking up from his writing. “Do you carry a gun?”
“Yes, I do.”
“You’ve got it now?” She pulled back her jacket so he could see the holster. He whistled and smiled. “Dangerous.”
“Not if you know how to use it.”
“Ever killed anyone?” He looked her straight in the eye.
She looked straight back. “Yes.”
“What’s it like?”
He thought about it, gave a short nod and started writing again. “So you’ve given life . . . and taken life.” He looked up again. “How d’you feel about that?”
Scully blinked, startled. “How do I feel . . ? I’ve never thought about it in those terms. When I’ve killed, it’s been in the line of duty. To protect innocents or my partner, to stop evil if there was no other way. Taking a life is always the last resort.”
“You believe in good and evil?”
“Of course I do.”
“Do you think it’s that black-and-white?”
“No.” Scully looked out at the rain again. “Nothing is black-and-white. But there is real evil in the world and it’s my job to stop it.”
“And your baby?” he said softly.
She wondered what it was about this boy that made her so willing to open up like this. The keen, friendly eyes or the wide mouth or just knowing they would never see each other again. “He is my ultimate good,” she said quietly, and looked out at the rain.
She heard the scratchy-squeak of pen on paper and wondered if he was taking notes on their conversation or writing something else entirely. She’d gotten a glance at the notebook earlier, and was amused to see it was in German. College was very far away, but she remembered enough German to recognize “nice legs, great tits.”
She leaned back in the lounge chair and closed her eyes. She exhaled to the bottom of her lungs.
Abruptly, Dominic slapped the notebook shut and got to his feet. He stretched his arms up over his head. “Can we go to the restaurant? I’m famished.”
Scully opened her eyes. “No, but we can order room service. I’d better make the call, though. We don’t want anyone recognizing your voice.”
“My voice doesn’t stand out that much, does it?”
“You definitely don’t come from around here,” she said, “and if anyone is a fan of your movies they’ll recognize your voice right away.”
“You have seen the movies! I wondered.”
“Yes, I have.”
“What did you think?”
“I thought they were amazing. I loved them.”
He grinned at her happily. “They are. They’re the best thing that’s ever happened to me. Have you read the book?”
“I haven’t. My brothers did when they were teenagers, but I didn’t like many novels when I was growing up. I didn’t like made-up stories.”
“And now you do?”
“Now I do.”
Another odd question, but she was getting used to them. “Sometimes you just need a break from reality.”
“But don’t you think,” he said, tapping his pen against his lip, “that the best fiction reflects reality?”
“Yes,” Scully said, “and even something as fantastic as your movies resonates with people because they can understand things like loyalty, courage and sacrificing for a greater good. It’s not reality but it feels real.”
She had not risen from the lounge chair so Dominic was standing over her. He studied her for a moment, his hands on his hips, and said, “I like you.”
“Thanks. I like you too.”
“Lunch,” Dominic said, opening the balcony door. “It’s that weird halfway-time of the morning–do you think they’ll just give us brunch instead? And is there a real difference between lunch and brunch, besides the time? Do they have brunch places other than LA?”
“I think they’ll give you anything you ask for, no matter what you call it.” She rose–reluctantly, she had to admit–from the lounge chair and followed him inside.
He picked up the room service menu from the desk and gave it a rapid glance. “They serve breakfast until ten-thirty and don’t start serving lunch until eleven-thirty.” He looked at his wrist, snorted because there was no watch on it, and said, “So what time is it?”
“Eleven-fifteen. I’m sure they’ll take your order even though it’s not lunchtime yet.”
“Okay. What shall we get for you?”
“I’m not hungry.”
“You’ve got to eat, Agent Scully. Especially if you want to keep up with me.”
“Keep up with you doing what, exactly?”
He threw his naughty-boy grin at her again, put down the menu and notebook, and launched himself into a handstand. Scully watched, perplexed, as he began to walk back and forth on his hands.
“Got to stay active somehow, you know.”
“Indeed,” Scully murmured. “Do you know what you want to eat?”
“Eggs!” he announced, still pacing the sitting room on his hands. “And bacon, and toast, and coffee–“
“I don’t think you need the caffeine,” Scully said mildly, and he let himself fall onto his back so he could look at her, propping himself up on his elbows.
“Agent Scully!” he exclaimed. “Attitude! I like it. Please get me some coffee,” he added. “They never make a proper pot of tea over here, and I’d just rather have coffee.”
“All right. Coffee, eggs, bacon and toast. Anything else?”
“That’ll do. Are you sure you don’t want anything?”
“I’ll share the coffee,” Scully said and picked up the phone. Dominic placed his elbows on his knees and his hands over his mouth while she dialed.
She honestly did not know what to make of this boy. He was scattered and charming, trying to put a good face on what was a highly stressful situation, and she had no idea what he was going to do next–or what she sho
uld do for him, really. It was her duty to keep him calm and safe, and beyond that–she just didn’t know.
For now, she supposed, it was enough to feed him.
“Hi,” she said when Room Service finally picked up. “This is room 1188. We’d like some breakfast, please. A pot of coffee, one eggs-and-bacon breakfast–what kind of toast?” she asked Dominic. “White, wheat or sourdough?”
He started to answer, then remembered he wasn’t supposed to speak and came to the desk. He leaned over her to write on the notepad by the phone, supporting himself on one arm at her other side. Scully inhaled, surprised by the sudden intimacy as much as by being enveloped in the soapy-rainy scent of him. Wheat, he wrote on the pad, and stayed standing behind her.
“Wheat,” she managed to say into the phone. “Two cups for the coffee, please, and two glasses of orange juice. Thank you.” She hung up the phone. “It’ll be twenty minutes.”
“Okay. After the club we went to this all-night diner and ate–I don’t even remember what I ate. Cheese fries, I think. Last night was a good night.” He sighed and sat on the floor at her feet, and after a moment leaned his head against her thigh.
Scully hesitated, then began to stroke his wayward hair. “They’re fine,” she said gently. “They’re safe.”
“We’re not going to let anything happen to any of you.”
“It’s all right to worry,” she said.
“Yeah.” There was a long silence while she stroked his hair. “I just miss ’em. We haven’t seen each other for a while. We were going to hang out, do the publicity, see some bands, have some fun. Maybe go down to the Keys for a couple days.” He sighed again. “And now, God only knows.”
Scully couldn’t think of anything more to say. He stayed sitting at her feet and she went on stroking his hair until Room Service knocked at the door with their food.
“I keep forgetting it’s always this crispy stuff,” Dominic said, picking up a piece of bacon and eying it critically.
“I’m sure it would be no trouble to send it back,” Scully said.
He shook his head and bit into the bacon without much enthusiasm. “Nah. It’s edible, at least.” He nodded towards her coffee cup. “Is that all you want?”
“If you’ve been awake as long as I think you have you’ve got to be hungry again.” He waved a slice of toast in front of her enticingly. “Aren’t you even a little bit tempted?”
Scully sipped her coffee and averted her eyes. She was tempted, but not by his breakfast. Actors have charisma, she thought, it’s part of their craft. You’re just reacting to his innate charm.
“I’ll eat later,” she said simply and sipped more coffee.
He bit into the toast and watched her as he chewed. “You know,” he said, washing down his toast with a swallow of juice, “I suspect that if you let yourself relax a bit you’d be a lot of fun.”
“I am fun. I’m just working right now.”
“Is that all I am to you?” he said dramatically. “A job?”
“Dom,” he said with emphasis, leaning over the table on his folded arms. “Just Dom. Dominic, if you really must. My friends call me Dommie, but I think we should wait a bit on that.”
“Mr. Monaghan,” she repeated, and he made an impatient huff and slouched in his chair again. “There’s no need for you to entertain me, you know. I’m here to protect you, nothing more. You can do anything you like within the confines of this hotel room but you don’t have to be–well, be ‘on’ for me.”
“If I can do whatever I like I’ll continue to amuse myself as I see fit, thank you very much. I will get you to crack a smile before the day’s out.” He ate a bite of eggs and said, “I almost thought you were going to say you’re not one of my fans.”
“I am a fan. But I’m on duty, so I’m not going to ask for an autograph or what New Zealand is like or–or anything like that.”
He drank more juice, then said, “You’re the type that falls for Viggo. I bet your baby’s dad is the tall, quiet, intense type too.”
Scully had to put down the coffee cup. She managed to smile. “You could say that.”
“I read somewhere once you can tell a lot about a person by who their favorite Beatle is. I think it’s true with the Fellowship. So am I right? Your favorite’s Viggo?”
“Actually,” she cleared her throat, “actually, David Wenham.”
“Really,” he said, looking pleased.
“If I have to choose absolutely just one, David. But the whole cast is very, um–“
“Fuckable?” He grinned like he knew how naughty he was being.
“That’s a good word for it. So what does that say about me?”
“It says you like ’em pretty but Orlando’s a bit too young for you.”
“That’s not a very deep analysis.”
“Well, you’re only going by the surface, aren’t you? You find Daisy most physically attractive and that’s perfectly understandable. He’s very pretty. Great arse for a bloke. But I think if you tried to match yourself to one of us in temperament and beliefs you’d get a very different result.”
“But I’m not assuming I know anything about the group of you. If you want to know the truth, I wasn’t sure which one you were when Agent Kennedy told me your name.”
“Oh,” he said, putting down the coffee cup he’d started to lift. “Oh, that is–actually I’ve heard that before.”
“You’re taller than I expected,” she added, mainly to see what he’d do.
“I’ve heard that before too.” He was smiling again. Charisma, Scully reminded herself. Just charisma. “You know which one I am now, right?”
“Yes. I do.”
He gave another short nod and drank his coffee, then said, “So what is he like, your baby’s dad?”
Scully pondered how to answer this a moment, then said quietly, “He’s out of the picture.”
“What?” Dominic said, indignant on her behalf. “The tosser walked out on you?”
“The tosser died,” Scully said and couldn’t look at him.
“Oh,” he said quietly. “Oh, God. I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have–I’m sorry.”
“It’s all right. There’s no reason you’d know.”
“I’m still sorry. Was it recent?”
“It was just before our son was born. I’m recovering,” she said with a tight smile. “I have some good friends to help me through.”
He contemplated his coffee cup, nodding absently. “They’ll do that,” he murmured. “Friends are good for that.”
Scully poured herself more coffee. She could tell him, she supposed, how Monica made sure she was never alone on Friday nights unless she really wanted to be; how the Lone Gunmen would tend William like three graying playmates; how nearly every night ended with a phone call from Doggett: “Are you okay? Do you need anything? Sleep well, Agent Scully.”
Instead she took out her cell phone and dialed Doggett’s number. He picked up after one ring. “John Doggett.”
“Hi, it’s me. How are you two doing?”
“Pretty good. He’s got a travel chessboard so we’ve been playing chess. How are you two?”
“Fine, I think. Having a late breakfast. Listen, can you put him on for a moment?”
Doggett paused, then asked, “Are you sure it’s a good idea?”
“I think it’s something they need,” Scully said, and handed the phone to Dominic.
He looked confused a moment, then exclaimed with delight, “Billy! Billeh . . . how’re you doing? Goin’ mad?” He listened for a long time, laughing, and said finally, “No, she’s nice. I think being stodgy is part of the job. No, no, I haven’t heard from anyone else. I think this is breaking a few rules so we ought to keep it short. I don’t know, maybe later, maybe tomorrow. As soon as the arsehole’s caught, I guess. I miss you too, Billy me lad. You too. Me too. See you soon. Cheers.” He turned off the phone and gave it back to Scully. “Thanks.”
“You’re welcome.” She put the phone away.
“Do you think we could call them again later?”
“I think so. I can’t call any of the others, I don’t know who they’re with, but I’m sure they’re fine, too.”
“Yeah,” Dominic said. He ran his hands up and down his thighs, then sai
d, “Could we go swimming?”
“It’s raining,” Scully said.
“So we’ll get twice as wet.”
“I don’t have a suit.”
“There’s some shops down in the lobby. I’ll buy you one.”
“You don’t need to buy me a swimsuit. I shouldn’t go swimming when I’m working.”
“But I want to go swimming and you’re supposed to go where I go and do what I do, right?”
“But what if someone sees you? The last thing we need is for this to get into the news.”
Dominic huffed again. “I’m not Tom Cruise, for God’s sake. There aren’t paparazzi watching my every move. I can go to restaurants without reporters following me on a regular day. When someone recognizes me–which, trust me, happens a lot less then you’re imagining–I just say hello and sign something if they ask. A simple swim isn’t going to put us all in mortal danger.”
“But if it does it’s your life. And quite possibly my badge.”
He sighed in a slow burn, and said quietly, “I’ve got to do something, Agent Scully. Just sitting here all day . . . I can’t do it. I’ve got to exercise or dance or swim or something. No one else will be out there: it’s raining. It doesn’t even seem like anyone else is here at all–they’re all out at their conventions or matinees or shopping. No one will see us.” He put his hand on top of hers. “Just think of it as part of taking care of me.”
He’s worse than William–I’m not going to be able to say no to him all day, Scully thought. She said aloud, “All right, but I can buy my own swimsuit.”
Dominic wanted her to buy a bikini–he not only offered to pay for it but to model it as well–but Scully decided on a modest electric-blue one-piece, something she could use at home, too. The salesgirl giggled at them from behind the counter, but Scully thought it was more because of Dominic’s accent and flirtatious manner than because she knew who he was.
He picked up a small portable chess set while they were in the shops, and lip balm and shampoo as well. “Billy’s got our regular one,” he explained. “We play chess whenever we need a little quiet time.”
“That’s a good way to keep your mind occupied,” Scully said.
“Do you play?”
They changed clothes in separate rooms, Dominic in the bedroom and Scully in the bathroom. Naked, she studied her reflection: pale, scarred, tattooed, complete with cellulite and stretch marks.
Forty years old, she thought. And every year shows. She sighed and hastily pulled on the swimsuit as Dominic rapped on the half-open door.
“Agent Scully? Ready?”
“Almost.” She put on the thick terry robe provided by the hotel and picked up one of the larger towels, and left the bathroom.
It had to have something to do with it being her sexual peak or the phases of the moon or sunspots or just how long it had been since she’d even felt attracted to a man–she’d seen him shirtless already today, and she still had to stop and swallow, hard, at the sight of Dominic in his swim trunks with a towel slung over his shoulder. He had a fine-boned, lean body, all compact muscles and smooth skin. Long, narrow feet and hands, a dusting of hair on his chest and a darker, thicker path leading down his belly.
“Or should we stay in?” he asked in a low voice, and Scully dragged her eyes back up to his face, feeling herself blush. Definitely, it was that time of the month.
“Sorry. Let’s go swimming.”
He grinned and picked up the other bathrobe, and followed her out of the room.
She couldn’t take her gun, of course, and being on duty without her weapon felt a bit strange. This whole day felt strange, if she was being honest with herself, like some kind of semi-reality that would disappear as soon as she returned to her real life.
Like Alice down the rabbit hole, she thought with a small smile.
Dominic nudged her with his elbow as they rode down in the elevator. “Isn’t this better than sitting in the room?”
“If it doesn’t get you killed, yes.”
“Nothing will happen,” he said with the confidence of one who has never had his plans go astray.
No one gave them a glance as they crossed the lobby and went out to the courtyard. There was a covered walk between the hotel and the pool area, and hotel employees had pulled all the lounge chairs under its shelter. Dominic dropped his bathrobe and towel on a chair, and dove into the faintly-steaming water.
Scully was more slow, shivering at the sudden chill as she took off her robe, tilting back her head as she stepped into the rain. She closed her eyes and let it caress her skin like a thousand tiny kisses.
Her eyes opened when Dominic splashed her, and he grinned at her with mischief in his eyes. She raised an eyebrow back, walked to the diving board and made a neat dive into the pool.
The water was blood-warm compared to the air outside, so Scully stayed near the bottom until she had to breathe. She kicked herself to the surface and smoothed back her hair, then began to swim laps in a lazy breaststroke.
Dominic was amusing himself at the shallow end of the pool, diving, hand-standing, turning flips. Scully had to admit, if it hadn’t been swimming it would have been something else to release his pent-up energy. She would not have been able to keep him inside all day, even a rainy day such as this.
Well, maybe she could have, if they found something else to do. She could think of a few things, all inappropriate.
He swam to her and around her like a dolphin, and caught her in his arms. He spun her in the water and placed a kiss at the base of her throat before releasing her and pushing himself to the top.
Surprised, Scully floated for a moment before following him. Dominic was watching her as he tread water. Once more he swam to her then stood on the pool bottom: taller than she, he was head and shoulders above the water level. He muttered, “Here,” and pulled her to him, supporting her under her arms. Their eyes studied each other and Scully licked her lips as he stepped back towards the shallow end. His face was serious, his eyelids lowered, his lips parted and his breath fast.
“I–” she began. I could eat you up–I could eat you up in one mouthful. But it wasn’t something she dared to say out loud.
“I want to kiss you.”
“Oh, god,” she breathed and leaned her forehead against his shoulder.
“Let me,” he whispered as he tilted her face up. His hand was warm. The tip of his nose was cold. His mouth was hot.
Scully palmed rainwater from his shoulders, his chest. She opened her lips and his tongue filled her mouth, stroking and exploring. Oh god, she thought simply as her nails dug into his shoulders. Oh god. She whimpered.
He traced her cheekbones and the line of her jaw, and then, his fingers in her wet hair, gently pulled away.
He did not look happy.
Still clutching him, Scully let herself flow away a little, aware that her nipples were hard and her skin goosebumped. Should not have done that. Should not have allowed that to happen. And he was looking at her with that confused frown, all the laughter gone from his eyes.
She supposed she ought to say something–apologize, explain–but he was still holding her, his eyes were boring into hers, and the rain was pelting them softly.
She inhaled, wrapped her arms around his neck, and kissed him back. He tasted like coffee and rain.
Dominic growled into her mouth. His hands slid down her body and grasped her bottom, lifting her against him so her legs wrapped naturally around his waist. He was unmistakably, unabashedly hard through the flimsy suit, and Scully felt light-headed with excitement at the prospect of sex with him–a handsome, fascinating young man who could, and probably did, have any woman he wanted.
And he wanted her.
It would be easy, so easy, to toss aside her ethics and let this happen. She’d already broken so many rules today. Just being here with him in the pool was breaking a dozen protocols,
to say nothing of kissing him like this.
But he was such a good kisser. And she hadn’t been touched for so long.
His mouth left hers and she moaned with loss, then again as his teeth nipped at her neck. One hand left her back and cupped her breast. His thumb brushed her nipple through the thin fabric and she felt him smile before he bit hard into the base of her neck. Scully cried out and raked her nails over his shoulders.
It took a great effort to say, “Please stop,” but she managed it, and he released her and stepped back. His fair skin was flushed; his face was still serious and slightly confused. He wiped his mouth with the side of his hand. Without another word turned away from her and climbed out of the pool. He walked to the lounge chairs and briskly toweled off, wrapped the bathrobe around himself and tied the sash.
Scully took a minute longer to collect herself and follow him out of the pool. She was grateful for the warmth of the robe–it wasn’t as good as being back in his arms, but at least it stopped her shivering. She began gently, “You understand, don’t you, that as much as I may want to–“
“Not here, please,” Dominic said and started towards the lobby. Scully finished drying herself off and followed him.
They were silent in the elevator. Dominic raked his hand through his hair, his eyes half-closed and his breathing measured and deep. Scully squeezed water from her hair and wiped her damp hands on her robe, leaving the elevator first when it reached their floor.
She let them into the room and started drying her hair again, when Dominic said, “I should tell you something.”
She let the towel hang around her shoulders. “I’m listening.”
“I made up my mind to sleep with you before you got here, as soon as Agent Kennedy said ‘ she’ .”
She raised an eyebrow at him. “And you didn’t think I’d have something to say about that?”
He shrugged. “Do you have any idea how many girls I’ve talked out of their knickers in my life? It’s not hard. Of course it’s gotten even easier lately. I hardly have to say anything more than ‘Hello, I’m Dom and I fancy you’ and
I’m right in there.”
“Like I said, I’d have something to say about that. You’re under my protection, Dominic.” He smiled and she amended hastily, “Mr. Monaghan. You’re my job. We’re not supposed to let personal feelings affect our work. No matter how much I like you or how attractive I find you, I can’t.”
“I can’t either now, can I,” he said. “I like you. I didn’t think I’d like you. I didn’t care if I’d like you. I was glad you’re pretty, but now it’s become all sorts of complicated. I don’t want to protest this whole thing anymore.”
“You can keep me here but you can’t make me like it,” Dominic said, looking embarrassed that he’d even had the thought.
“I see,” Scully said quietly.
“And now I really want to and I can’t. It’d be wrong.” He sighed and said more quietly, “D’you want the shower first? Wash off the chlorine?”
“No, go ahead.”
He started towards the bathroom, then paused and said, “I’d like to shut the door.”
“All right,” Scully said, and Dominic closed the door behind him.
Scully didn’t want to put her pantsuit back on after her own shower, so Dominic lent her a pair of sweatpants and yet another t-shirt–this one dark blue, with white writing so worn away it was hard to tell what it had once said. “Where do you get all these shirts?” she asked, wrapping the ties of the pants nearly double around her waist to hold them up.
“I get one whenever I go to a new place that I like. And fans have started to send them to me, too. I’ve got some great ones from places I’ve never heard of.”
“So they’re not all particularly meaningful to you.”
“Well,” he said, “I do like cheese.”
Scully laughed and he chuckled. He was lounging on the sofa, his notebook open but ignored on his leg. He was drawing on his arm instead, something she couldn’t see from this angle.
He put both aside now and said, “Should we play some chess?”
“Sure. I’m not very good, though.” She sat opposite him at the coffee table while he got out the chess set from the shopping bag and started to set up the pieces.
“Then I’ll teach you some tricks. Black or white?”
“We used to play chess a lot while we were filming,” he said after a moment. “It’s a good way to pass the time while you’re waiting for setups. Making a movie is so ‘hurry up and wait’. Getting into makeup at five in the morning, not actually getting in front of the camera until noon or later.” He moved his first pawn. “Billy’s set has magnets on the bottom of the pieces, so you can play while traveling and the pieces won’t get moved if you’re jostled. It’s great for long flights.”
“I take it you’ve had quite a few of those.”
“Oh, yeah. I think I’ve been completely around the world about five times now. I don’t mind it. I like traveling. I think I’m a nomad at heart, really.”
Scully moved a pawn and said, “We moved around a lot when I was growing up. My father was in the Navy and he’d get transferred every few years. I was actually born on a military base in Japan. I’ve lived in my apartment for almost twelve years and even though sometimes I think I should leave I can’t bring myself to yet. It’s my home, despite the things that have happened there.”
“Some bad things. Some very good things.”
“Did you live there with your baby’s dad?” He moved another pawn.
“No.” She contemplated the board a long time, resting her chin on her fist. “We were never married.”
“Oh.” He leaned his chin on his hand too. “Americans have that thing about marriage, I’ve noticed. In England you can live with somebody for years and have five kids and no one cares if you’re married or not.”
She brought her knight into play and said, “Well, we were never married and never lived together. We were partners and friends for seven years.”
“And not really lovers?”
“Just the once.”
She glanced up at him from the board–he looked almost comically dismayed. “God. I couldn’t have done that. Didn’t he love you?”
“He loved me. There were always other things that came first.”
“That’s just stupid,” Dominic said, moving another pawn. “Missing out on years of happiness, and for what? Nothing matters more than love.”
“Well.” She wasn’t sure how to explain this to him. “Duty is important too.”
“So you chose duty over love for all those years.”
“I suppose I did.”
“And you’re still doing it.” She looked up from the board at him again. “Not going home to your son even though you miss him, because you’ve got a duty to perform. Pushing me aside because I’m your duty.”
“I hardly think you can call this ‘love’, Dominic. ‘Attraction’, at most.”
“I could make you happy,” he said. “I know it. I’ve known you all of six hours and I know I could make you happy.”
“Anyone can make anyone else happy if their hearts are good,” Scully said quietly. She moved a pawn.
“You’re leaving your king vulnerable,” Dominic answered, in the same quiet voice. “My bishop can take him in three moves. See?” He pointed the path among the pieces.
“Oh. I see it. I guess I’m having trouble concentrating.”
“Me too. You smell good. Fresh.”
“It’s the soap.”
“I’d rather stop talking about this, please. Can I move my pawn back?”
“Sure.” She moved the pawn back and contemplated a better move, and he asked, “What’s your son’s name?”
“William.” She smiled as she said it, she couldn’t help it. Take away everything else that had ever brought her joy, but she’d always have him.
“William,” he repeated, smiling too. “Do you ever call him Billy?”
“Will or Willie, sometimes, but usually just William.”
“William is one of my favorite names now. Elijah and Sean, too. If I ever have kids those names will crop up somewhere. Or one kid with a long string of names. William Ian Sean Elijah Viggo Sean John Orlando Peter. Like r
“And if you have a daughter?”
“After my gran.”
Scully nodded. “William is the name of both of his grandfathers, and his father’s middle name. It seemed like the only real choice. Everyone I love in one word.” She considered that. “Well, I wasn’t too fond of Mulder’s father. His father treated him terribly sometimes.” She moved a different pawn so she could bring out her bishop.
Dominic hardly glanced at the board: he was studying her instead, still resting his chin on his hand. “What was his name again?”
“Mulder,” she said quietly. “Fox Mulder.”
“You called him Mulder? I guess if you start calling me Monaghan instead of Mr. Monaghan I should see that as an improvement.”
“Dominic,” she said, glancing at him again. “That’s a good name. Strong. A lot of history behind it.”
He studied the chess board. “That’s better. It’ll take me at least five moves to get your king now.”
He laughed and she laughed too, realizing he was teasing. “You’re doing fine,” he said, and leaned his face on his hand again. After a moment he said, “I can’t wait to tell Billy about you.”
“Oh? What are you going to tell him?”
“I don’t know yet. ‘A nice bird’ doesn’t sum you up properly.”
“I should hope not,” Scully murmured.
He castled his rook and king, and said, “If I tell him, ‘She was nothing like what I expected and I hope to see her again’, would that be all right?”
“Sure.” His words registered and she looked up again. “You want to see me again?”
“Yeah. When all this is over and I’m not your duty anymore. Would you give me a chance then?”
She dropped her eyes. “I’m too old for you, Dominic.”
“How old are you? You can’t be much older than me.”
“I turned forty a few months ago.”
He didn’t answer for a moment, then said, “All right. You are older than I thought. But that doesn’t mean anything, not really. We get along. We’ve got lots to talk about. And there’s chemistry, isn’t there, Dana? Tell me I’m not the only one feeling this.”
“You’re not,” she admitted.
“See? Maybe all your other lovers have let duty come first, and you’ve let them, but it won’t be that way with me. I do what I love and spend time with the people I love and I can’t ask for anything more from life. Don’t you want to try that? Just filling every day with–well, with joy?”
Scully wrapped her hand around her knight, unable to look at him. “I don’t really believe you think you’ve fallen in love with me in a day.”
“I don’t. But I think I could. I think you’d love me back if you’d let yourself.” He waited a moment but she still couldn’t meet his eyes. “If nothing else it’d be a laugh, wouldn’t it? I bet it’s been a good while since you’ve had a good laugh.”
“I don’t have relationships for laughs.”
“Maybe you should.” He nodded to the board. “Are you going to move?”
She looked at the board and pushed over her king. “I don’t want to play anymore.” She got to her feet, went out onto the balcony and leaned on the rail.
She never should have agreed to swimming. They should have stayed inside, safe and civilized, playing cards or chess, fully dressed. Never should have sat close, never should have let him ask such personal questions, never should have answered them.
She never should have touched his hair.
The balcony door slid open and she felt Dominic’s hand on her back. “Do you want to tell me what’s so terrible?”
“You don’t want to be part of my life. There’s a lot going on that you don’t know about and that you don’t need to be dragged into.”
“You make it sound like it’s dire and life-threatening.”
“It is. I lost my sister to it. I lost Mulder to it. I almost lost William to it.”
He rubbed her back. “We could just fuck, then.”
She laughed dryly. “No. It doesn’t work that way.”
“Right. Because you’re on duty.” He breathed against her hair as his other hand slid over her stomach, “But someday you won’t be.”
Her head fell back against his chest. “Dominic, I’m serious. After today we shouldn’t see each other.”
“Not even as friends?” His warm fingers moved beneath the hem of her t-shirt to stroke her stomach.
“Not even as friends. It’s one thing when you–mm–when you’re equipped to handle the–” She grabbed his wrist. “Quit it. I’m serious.”
“But I like touching you. You’re so soft and curvy.” His hand slid down between her legs, cupping her. He whispered, “And warm,” as his tongue traced the curls of her ear.
“Stop it,” Scully whispered but didn’t mean it. Her hand reached back as if by its own will and clutched at his hair.
“Not warm,” he said. “Hot.” He kissed her neck. “And juicy.”
“Dominic,” she breathed, and his hands were touching, feeling, squeezing and stroking.
“I want to do something for you.”
She licked her lips. “Like what?”
“Something completely selfless. Something just for you. I won’t even take off my clothes.” His breath was hot across her ear. “I want to eat you out until you scream.”
Her mouth went completely dry but still she managed to say, “I thought you said you couldn’t.”
“I can’t have sex with you under false pretenses. I’m being perfectly honest with you. I want you. I want you for you. I want to hear you calling out my name. I want you to remember today for the rest of your life like I’m going to remember it for the rest of mine.”
Lights were starting to come on across the courtyard–tourists coming back to change before heading out again. She knew they were sheltered by the rain clouds and shadows from the balcony above them, but she also knew they had to get inside before this went any further. If anyone could see them there was no mistaking Dominic’s intent, with his hands on her breasts and his mouth on her neck.
Still she whispered, “Why?” and his mouth stilled. He turned her around, his hands framing her face, and kissed her lips.
“You want to know something about all the girls I’ve dated the last few years?” he whispered against her mouth.
“I’m not sure that I do.”
“I need to tell you. They’re all the same, Dana. They’ve all got little stick arms and no breasts to speak off and nothing to talk about. There’s no ‘there’ there. Nothing going on behind their eyes.
“But you–you’ve got all this history. This tragic past, this lost love, and you’re a mum. There’s a real you inside. You’re a real person.”
“They’re all real people, Dominic.”
“You couldn’t prove it by talking to them. Trust me on this.” His thumbs were stroking her cheekbones. “Do you get me now? Do you understand?”
“I’m not sure I do.”
He nibbled his lip a moment, then said, “I want to touch that you inside. I want to be a part of it.”
“And the only answer is sex?” Scully whispered.
“Yeah,” he said quietly. “I think it is.”
She removed his hands from her face but held onto his fingers and looked down at their joined hands. “No,” she said.
He sighed but nodded, leaning his forehead against hers. “Don’t take this the wrong way, but you know why I like you, really?”
“My breasts are real?”
“Well, that. And that talking to you is like talking to my boys. I could tell you anything, yeah? Only you’re prettier than Billy.”
She smiled, still looking at their hands. “But not as pretty as Elijah.”
He laughed. “No one’s as pretty as Elijah.” He let go of her hands and stepped back, rubbing his arms. “Getting cold. I think I’m going to have a bit of a lie-down. I’m starting to feel how late we were up last night.” He slid open the door to the bedroom. “Coming in?”
“Not yet,” Scully said, and sat on the lounge chair again, pulling up her knees, as the door slid shut between them.
When Scully opened her eyes the rain was falling even harder and it was much darker out. She rubbed her hand over her face. Wonderful–on top of everything else she’d fallen asleep.
While she slept, Dominic, the darling boy, had covered her with a spare blanket and put a pillow beneath
her head. Scully gathered them up and opened the balcony door with some difficulty: she could see him on the bed, lit by the TV and occasional flashes of lightning, his arms around a pillow and his face relaxed. He looked sexy and innocent, bare-footed and bare-chested and as if nothing could trouble him.
She should get dressed. Check her phone for messages from Doggett or Kennedy about the status of this crisis. And she should, she knew, greet Dominic when he woke with a professional demeanor and formal address–not as if it was all she could do to keep from groping him in his sleep.
She had started to fold the blanket but now sat at the foot of the bed, unable to keep from laughing as she imagined the headlines: “Hobbit actor molested by federal agent.”
This proved it: she was losing her mind.
Her laughter woke him up: he raised his head and blinked at her sleepily, smiling. “What’re you laughing at?”
“Oh–I was just thinking–it’s stupid.”
“I doubt that.” He held out his arms to her. Scully hesitated, then decided, Hell, what’s one more broken rule? and lay down beside him, her head on his chest. The thump of his heartbeat was steady and comforting.
She said, “I was imagining the headlines if I groped you in your sleep and it got out.”
“It wouldn’t be headlines,” Dominic said and started to rub her back. “It would be page five, if I’m lucky. If you groped Elijah it’d be front page. Or Ian.”
“I’d grope Ian,” Scully murmured sleepily.
“But he’s not interested in girls, yeah?”
“A great loss to womankind.” She yawned, smiling as he played with the tips of her hair.
“But you wouldn’t grope me?”
“I’m trying not to.”
“But you could. I wouldn’t protest. I wouldn’t tell anyone–unless you really wanted to.”
“I’m not going to grope you,” she said and slowly sat up. “Thank you for bringing me a blanket.”
“You looked cold. I would have joined you or brought you inside but I thought you wanted to be alone.”
“I did,” she admitted.
“Did you have good dreams?”
“I don’t think I dreamed at all. Did you sleep?”
“A little. I watched some news. They talked about the bomb at the other hotel–they said it was a gas leak.”
“They don’t want anyone panicking. The truth will come out after he’s caught.”
“Will it?” he asked softly and Scully sighed.
Behind her he sat up too, and she closed her eyes at the heat of his body against her back. “Must we really never see each other again? Can’t I ever call you, or couldn’t we have lunch sometime? Couldn’t we just talk?”
“You’ve got your life to live, Dominic. There’s no place in it for me.”
“Or there’s no place in your life for me,” he said, and she looked at him over her shoulder. “No place for someone loud and daft and new. You want safe, and I’m not safe, am I?”
“No,” Scully whispered, “you’re not.”
“So you’re playing it safe. You’ll break rules but only if no one sees, and only if it’s nothing that will touch you. It makes me sad, Dana. I bet you were daring once.”
“No wonder you’re so afraid.”
“I’m not afraid of you.”
“I don’t think that. There’s no reason for you to be. I’m harmless. I just want to make you feel good. I just want to touch you.”
He was touching her–just his fingertips, just one small spot at the base of her spine circled and circled, just enough for Scully to feel her entire body was on fire. Her nipples were hard as pebbles–heat throbbed between her legs–she wanted more of his hands, of his mouth.
She said nothing. She didn’t move.
At last his hand fell away and he rolled onto his back. “I want to give you something,” he said quietly. “Something no one else has given you–but I don’t know what.”
“If you’re talking about sex I’ve had orgasms in the past. Rather frequently, too.”
“That’s good to know. But that’s not what I’m talking about. It’ll come to me. I’ll think of something.” He stretched, sighing. “I don’t want you to forget me. Hey. Stay right there.” He got up and went into the sitting room, and came back with his Sharpie pen. “Hold out your arm.”
“What are you going to do?” Scully said, raising an eyebrow.
“Nothing obscene. Hold out your arm.”
She unfolded her arm and Dominic bent over her, his tongue between his teeth. “Don’t you need more light?”
“No. Open your hand.”
The point of the pen tickled and she could feel his breath on her skin. It was hard not to twitch as he drew lines up the length of her arm and onto her hand. “What are you doing?”
“Have you ever had your hands hennaed? Liv and some of the girls got it done once. Some sort of girl-power thing. It was lovely. These swirls and circles all over their hands.”
“A Sharpie isn’t quite henna.”
“It’ll wash off. This is the tree of Gondor. See? The branches here on your fingers, and here’s the trunk, and the roots . . .” His fingers stroked down her arm and she inhaled, shivering. “D’you like it?”
She turned her arm toward the TV so she could see the drawing better in its feeble light. It was lovely, really: delicate and confident. “I like it. Thank you.”
Dominic nodded and smiled, brought her hand up to his mouth and gave it a quick kiss. “It’s all going to end soon.”
“Another agent will be with you during the night, depending on how things have gone today.”
“And you won’t be back tomorrow, if we’re still sitting here. You’ll be home.”
“Most likely, yes.”
“And that’ll be it.”
“Are you really going to let this happen, Dana? Us never see each other again?”
“Dominic, try to understand–“
“I do understand. I just don’t like it. I won’t tell anyone, I swear. I have condoms in the bathroom–or I can do like I wanted to, I won’t take off my clothes, it’ll just be about you.”
He was still holding her hand, and running his thumb lightly over the fold of skin between her thumb and forefinger. He whispered, “I just want to touch you,” again and kissed the back of her hand with open lips.
She was lost. Lost.
Dominic opened one of the windows, letting in electrified air and the sound and scent of rain. Scully lounged on the bed, grateful for the cool air as it blew across her body. It occurred to her that if any of their neighbors also had their windows open they would hear her moans–and she didn’t care.
That was the glorious thing. Her legs were spread wantonly open, her breasts were marked by his teeth and wet from his tongue, her lips were already swollen and tender from kisses, her face abraded by his stubble.
And none of it mattered. No one would know. No one would see. It would be a secret between the two of them.
It had been years, she thought, since she’d had something of her own.
Dominic came back to the bed and crawled up her body. “Better?”
“Mm,” Scully answered simply and raked her hand through his hair. She pulled his head down to hers and kissed him languidly, smiling as he chuckled and braced himself on his hands.
“I knew you’d have fun if you relaxed a little,” he murmured.
“I am relaxed,” Scully admitted. “And I am having fun.” He smiled at her lazily as she traced his lips with her thumb. “Kiss me,” she whispered and pulled down his head.
Dominic kissed her deeply, resting his full weight on her, his hands stroking her ribs up and down. Kissing him was easy–she loved his warm mouth and soft lips, even the burn of his stubble. She supposed she could have asked him to shave, but something about its mild scrape made this entire experience seem more real.
As he was kissing her, Dominic started laughing and rested his head on her stomach. “What is it?” Scully murmured, playing with his ear.
“I just had a thought. It’s awful.”
“Tell me,” she said, smiling at his playful tone.
“Well,” he drawled, “this is called eating you out, yeah? So I just thought, if you are what you eat . . . I could be you by morning.” Scully laughed from
her belly and he kissed her ribs. “I thought you’d like that.”
“I do, but we don’t have until morning.”
“Then I’d best get started, shall I?”
His hands moved down her hips to her thighs, which he gently pushed open. Her head fell back and she let her fingers slide from his hair. His teeth nipped the soft skin inside her thighs and she stroked his back with the sole of her foot; her breathing was growing both deeper and faster, and she licked her chapped lips. She moaned aloud at the first touch of his tongue.
It had been far too long since she’d been touched like this. There had been no one since Mulder and no one for years before that. She had a vibrator for when she simply couldn’t bear it any longer, but those orgasms were more about tension than pleasure.
This was pleasure. Pure pleasure–and selfish, too, because Dominic was still wearing his jeans and the condoms were still in the other room. When she’d first pulled off her shirt and unhooked her bra she wasn’t sure how all this would end–she still wasn’t, but “whatever he wants” was starting to feel like the right thing.
For now she was letting herself flow like a leaf on a river with each wave of pleasure that his tongue brought. She was completely in his hands. She wanted it that way.
He paused to move one of his rings from the base of his finger to just below the knuckle and worked his finger into her. The ridges of the ring made her shudder, and she held her breath as he began to explore inside her. “Oh God, that’s it,” she gasped when he found the right spot, and she felt him chuckle. He stroked her again, more quickly and firmly, making her body jolt and cries come from her lips. She gasped his name, thrusting her hands into his hair again.
There weren’t words for how good this felt. She smoothed her hand over his hair and sank her nails into his scalp as another spasm shuddered through her.
Dominic was moaning too, shoving his hips against the bed. One hand gripped her thigh and the other thrust into her, making her body rock with each stroke until she was coming with wordless sounds punctuated by the thunder outside.
He crawled up her body once more and held himself above her, watching her as she regained her breath. She stroked his face with shaking palms and smiled into his eyes. “Is that what you wanted?” she whispered. “Is that what you wanted to do?”
“Yeah,” he muttered and swallowed hard. He looked at her through lowered lashes and she traced them with her thumb.
“You have the longest eyelashes I’ve ever seen.”
He kissed her with salty lips, cradling the back of her head in one hand. “Dana,” he whispered and licked his lips. He was shaking under her hands. “Dana.”
“Where are the condoms you said you have?”
“In my bag, in the loo.”
“Stay right here.” She kissed him briefly and slid from beneath him. She found his bag quickly: the unopened box of condoms was in a side pocket. She caught a glimpse of herself in the mirror: the reflection seemed a far different woman than the tired one who’d reluctantly put on a new swimsuit a few hours earlier. This woman was rosy and glistening, marked with lovebites and stubble burn.
She liked this woman much better.
When she came back to the bedroom Dominic had shed his jeans and boxer shorts and lay against the pillows, one lazy hand stroking his cock. He had also turned on one of the bedside lamps, which made her hesitate until he smiled at her. She got back into bed beside him and he took her back into his arms with a sound, smacking kiss. “Find ’em okay?”
“Yes.” She straddled over his hips and started placing kisses across his collar bones and down his chest and throat. He groaned when she sucked his nipple and his stomach trembled beneath her fingertips.
“You’re too much,” he muttered, his fingertips tracing paths of fire over her skin. His eyes were like the sky outside.
“Too much what?” She smiled at him, feeling impish.
“Everything,” he said seriously. His fingers rubbed across her stomach. “What happened?”
She looked down at where he was touching her and concealed a sigh. She didn’t want to go into it. “I was shot. Years ago.”
“God. In the stomach? I thought gut wounds were usually fatal.” His thumb caressed the scar. He’d been doing this all day, she realized: he was curious about her, he wanted to understand.
“Not this time, obviously.” She started kissing his chest again, trying to distract him.
“Who shot you?”
Scully sighed again and rested her elbows on either side of his head. “His name was Peyton Ritter and he was my temporary partner. He was disciplined and assigned to desk work for two years, and had to undergo a great deal of counseling and reviews before he was allowed back in the field.”
“You kept track?”
“I wanted to be aware.”
He nodded. His hand slid over the curve of her hip and came to rest at the small of her back. “This must have a story to it.”
Oh, yes. The tattoo. He had one too, she’d noticed, some curving language that she had no doubt was deeply meaningful in a personal way.
She said, “I was marking a moment. Trying to break a cycle. Acting out on fear, in a way.”
“Did it work?”
“Things changed afterwards.” She kissed his tattoo, and he sighed deeply. “Some things you just have to write on your skin.”
“Yeah,” he murmured, coaxing her head down to his. Their mouths met and his tongue stroked her teeth as his hands settled on her hips. “And some things get written there even if no one can see.”
Scully raised an eyebrow at him but his eyes were closed, long lashes tickling her cheeks as he kissed her. She let herself get lost in the kiss, in his hot mouth and nibbling teeth.
Eventually she remembered the condom clutched in her fist and pushed herself up enough to tear open the wrapper. Like the rest of him his cock was long and lean–uncircumcised and weeping slightly from its mushroom tip. She dropped a kiss on the head and glanced up to see Dominic watching her, chest heaving. He closed his eyes and twisted his head away as she slid the condom down his shaft. His breath shuddered.
“You don’t have to do all the work,” he muttered, running his hands up and down her sides.
“I know. That’s why I want to.” She took him in her hand and raised her hips, and slowly lowered herself onto his length, shaking as he filled her.
In a day or two, she thought, he would be back to his usual life–whatever it is that actors do–but at this moment she felt as if he’d been created just for her. He smelled simply of soap and salt–he was sweaty from lovemaking, goosebumped from the rainy breeze, and his skin was smooth.
You’re so young, she thought as she cupped his face in her palm.
She kissed him, her hips rolling to his, and his legs trembled between hers. His tongue thrust into her mouth and his hands clasped her waist. “Wait–could we–?” he whispered and Scully rolled away from him. Dominic sat up and folded his legs, then pulled her back to straddle his lap.
“Oh, that’s good,” she breathed and was answered by his throaty chuckle. He grasped her ass and thrust hard, and Scully buried her face in his neck, fingers tangled in his wayward hair.
She knew what he meant now by too much–this was too much sensation, too much emotion, so much pleasure she felt as if she would burst from it, dissolve like sugar left out in the rain.
Instead she was gasping his name, clutching his hair, riding him in a frenzy as he kissed her face and licked her neck. She cried out, “Dom, Dom,” as she came. His lips curled back from his teeth as he followed.
They collapsed on the bed, panting. Scully floated in pure contentment, feeling as if her body had opened entirely, absorbing rain, thunder, electricity, everything that was in the air. Dominic’s hand clutched hers and she smiled without opening her eyes.
“Okay,” he said quietly.
“Okay,” she answered.
Scully opened her eyes at the sound of the telev
ision. Dominic sat naked and cross-legged at the foot of the bed, writing in his notebook again. A cigarette smoldered in a nearby ashtray. She blinked a few times and rubbed her eyes, and said, “Do you write down everything that happens to you?”
“I’m not writing about this.”
“What are you writing about?”
“The illusion of free will,” he said, putting the notebook aside and picking up the cigarette. He rolled over to face her and took a long drag. “Is this all right?”
She nodded, unsure if this was a nonsmoking room or not. She ran her fingers through his hair; he closed his eyes and leaned his head into her hand. “The illusion of free will?”
“Yeah.” He smiled again. “No. About you.”
“Good things, I hope.”
“Yeah. Very good things.” He opened his eyes and offered her the cigarette. She started to refuse, then shrugged and took one quick drag. “I didn’t think you smoked,” he said softly.
“I have. Off and on. I haven’t for years.” The smoke hit her lungs and she coughed and gave the cigarette back. “Now it’s giving me a headache. It’s been a while.”
“Sorry.” He crushed out the cigarette in the ashtray and put it on the nightstand. He got beneath the blankets with her and kissed her shoulder. “Lij smokes cloves. Is that better for you?”
“No, it’s all pretty bad.”
“Hm. I know I should quit. I never should have started. But sometimes you just need something to do with your hands, yeah?”
“You should go back to doodling on yourself.” She smiled at him and he kissed the tip of her nose.
“I’d rather doodle on you. Can I?”
“You want to draw on me more?”
“Yes. Look at what happened to my tree.” He held out her arm: the ink was smeared beyond recognition.
“Oh, dear, how did that happen,” Scully murmured, and then shrieked with laughter as he started tickling her and nipping at her sensitive stomach.
“How did that happen! Do you want to hear it all in detail or weren’t you there?”
She stroked her hands through his hair, laughing, then smiled at him as they calmed down. He dipped his head and kissed her sweetly, easing his body onto hers. “I don’t want this to end,” he whispered as they kissed. “I don’t want to say goodbye yet.”
“Dominic . . .” She extracted herself from him gently and he looked at her with a frown as she sat up. She combed her hands through her hair to settle it. “My life is really . . . complicated.”
“It’s your partner, isn’t it,” he said. “The Texan.”
“Texan?” she repeated blankly, then said, “Oh–Doggett? You think Doggett and I–? No. No. And he’s from Georgia, but it’s a regional thing. We’re not involved. I’m not involved with anybody. It’s not that.”
“Oh. Usually when someone says things are complicated it means they’re in a relationship that’s on the rocks, or want you to think that it’s on the rocks. Or something to that effect.” He flicked the inside of her elbow. “So what is it? Do you really think there’s so much you need to protect me from?”
“Yes, I do, the same way I try to protect everybody that I care about. The only person I’ve been involved with in the last ten years was someone who’d been through it all with me, and to ask someone new to understand it all, it’s–it’s just–it’s–“
“It’s what, Dana?” he said, his tone serious. “It’s too much to ask?”
“Yes. It’s too much. It would take me a week to explain everything to you, and I just–” She sighed, slowly running her hand up and down his arm. “I don’t ever want to see that light go out of your eyes,” she said at last.
He sighed and kissed her forehead, then pushed the blankets aside and got up from the bed. “I’m thirsty. Are you thirsty? Do you want some water?”
“Yes, please.” He walked naked into the sitting room, and Scully watched him,leaning her head on her hand. The retreating view was astounding: strong back, buttocks like perfect handfuls of muscle and skin, lean legs. She’d want him again. It would be a long time before she forgot how much.
Scully sighed deeply and rolled onto her back. There was no winning this situation that she could see. She knew already that she would miss him–his accent, his eyes, his laughter, the way that he kissed her, his inquisitive mind–but bringing him into her life would only cause him pain. She was certain of this.
But, oh, how she’d love to take him home and lock him in her bedroom for a week. They wouldn’t even have to have sex–if he’d just talk with her she’d be happy.
No. It would be best to just say goodbye. She’d be another notch on his bedpost and he’d be a brief, bright respite to her loneliness.
Her eyes stung and she blinked the tears away as Dominic came back with two glasses of water. “Thank you,” she murmured as she took a glass.
He got beneath the covers with her again, put his arm around her shoulders and stroked her jaw with his thumb. “It’s getting cold. D’you want me to shut the window?”
“No, leave it, please. Don’t you think the rain smells good?”
“It does,” he said quietly. He kissed the top of her head. “Are you in trouble? Is that why?”
“Yes. Kind of.”
“With who? If you’re working for the government it can’t be the law, yeah?”
“It’s not the law. It’s people who consider themselves above the law.”
“The Mafia?” he said, sounding almost excited at the prospect.
Scully laughed dryly. “No. I think that would be easier to deal with, actually. I told you it’s complicated.” She leaned her forehead against his neck. “Could we–we could just say goodbye and let it go.”
“Pretend this never happened, you mean. Ignore the attraction and how comfortable we were together right off.”
“Exactly.” She sipped her water.
“And I can’t say anything to convince you otherwise? That maybe with me around things would get less complicated?”
She smiled, put her glass aside, and snuggled against his chest again. “There’s nothing you can say. Will you hold me for a while anyway?”
“Yeah,” he said, putting his glass aside too, and held her until her cell phone rang.
The call was not unexpected: Doggett’s news was. “They have him in custody at a Manhattan precinct,” he said. “He had materials for making explosives on his person, so they’re going to get him on that alone, but Kennedy said the questioning has brought out a lot. He’s sure it’s our guy.”
“This means what, though?” Scully said.
“It means Mr. Boyd and I are on our way over, and Agent Newton will escort them and Mr. Wood to the safe house where the Astins are. They’ll be back to their lives by tomorrow.”
“You’re on your way,” Scully repeated in a murmur, and Dominic’s eyes flitted up to her face before focusing back on the television. He was lying on his side, his head on his arm, and she reached over to touch his hair one more time. “Thanks for calling. I’ll make sure he’s ready to go by the time you get here. How long will that be, do you think?”
“How long till we get there?” he asked someone, and told her, “The driver says twenty minutes.”
“And someone is bringing my truck ’round so we can leave right away if we want. Do you want to head back to DC tonight? We won’t get there until late.”
“Yes. It’s time to go home.” If they stayed one more night, no doubt Dominic would find a way into her room, and while that wouldn’t be terrible–Stop it, she scolded herself.
“Are you okay? You sound tired.”
“I’m fine,” she said, tracing the way Dominic’s ear curled around itself.
“Okay. See you soon.”
“Bye.” She clicked off her phone and sighed. “They’ll be here in twenty minutes.”
Dominic nodded. “So this is it, then.”
He uprighted himself and quite abruptly kissed her, his hands in her hair and his mouth hungry and yearning. “You can go,” he whispered, kissing her eyelids, “but you can’t make me like it.”
“Don’t, please don’t. Don’t make this any harder than it is.”
“I’m not going to say I love you because that would be a lie. But I miss you already.”
didn’t want to leave the warmth of his arms, the glow of his presence. No one had made her feel this way for years, so desirable, so beautiful, so worthwhile for herself alone. She leaned her forehead against his, then kissed him and climbed out of bed. She washed up and redid her makeup quickly, got her clothes and started to dress. “We need to be ready to go. Agent Newton will be taking the three of you to the safe house where the Astins have been sequestered for tonight. It’ll all be over by tomorrow, I’m sure.”
“Yeah,” Dominic said. He got out of bed too and pulled on his abandoned shorts and jeans. “I don’t remember what’s happened to my shirt.”
“I think it’s in the sitting room.”
“And I haven’t seen my shoes since this morning.”
“That, I have no idea. I haven’t seen you wear shoes all day.”
He wiggled his toes and grinned at her. “I love going barefoot, and no one cares if I do.” He watched her smooth her trousers and step into her shoes. “Lord. I should have asked you to wear those.”
“I probably shouldn’t mention I have a closet full of shoes like this at home.”
His eyes got wide. “Lord,” he said again, shaking his head, and went into the other room to find his shoes.
Scully sat on the bed, glad for a moment alone to collect herself. No teasing, she thought, no tender goodbyes. Keep it professional. Especially in front of Doggett.
When she came out of the bedroom Dominic had put on his shirt and a pair of sandals, and was packing up his bag. “I think I’ve got everything,” he told her. “Books, pens, journal, clothes . . .”
“You made yourself at home quickly,” she remarked. “You’ve only been here since, what, three this morning?”
“Four.” He looked at her a moment then stepped close and took her face in his hands. She allowed him a few kisses before gently but firmly pulling away.
“They’ll be here any minute.” She stroked the sides of his face. “This is goodbye, Dominic.”
“Then this is a goodbye kiss,” he said and bent to give it. Scully couldn’t bring herself to protest: she wrapped her arms around his neck and opened her lips, meeting his tongue eagerly with hers.
“I’m never going to forget you,” she whispered, nuzzling his face.
“I could find plenty of ways to remind you, if you’d let me.”
“Please stop asking. Please. I can’t say no to you.”
“Let me see you again,” he teased gently. Or maybe not teasing–there was a playful note in his voice but his eyes were serious.
“See? You have no trouble saying no to me.” Someone knocked on the door, and Dominic glanced at it with a sigh. He kissed her again quickly and released her. “I’m not going to say goodbye,” he told her, and she couldn’t answer because the knocking was more firm at the door and they would try to break it down if she didn’t answer them.
Scully unlocked the door and opened it, and stepped aside to let the slender Scotsman rush past her. “Dommie!” he cried and Dominic answered him “Bills!” and they were hugging and laughing and making enough noise to be five men instead of only two.
Doggett and Newton waited with Scully back by the door. Doggett nudged her lightly with his elbow. “How’re you doing?”
“Fine. I’m ready to be on our way. You?”
“Just fine. Are you sure you want to make the drive tonight, though? We won’t get home until midnight.”
“I’m sure.” She picked up her briefcase and glanced back at Dominic and Billy, who were still absorbed in the exclusive world of best friends. “Let’s go,” she said to Doggett quietly.
“Thanks so much for your help,” Agent Newton said, and he opened the door for them to leave.
“Here’s your hat, what’s your hurry,” Doggett muttered as they started to the elevators.
“There’s no point in lingering.”
He cocked an eyebrow at her. “Did you two not get along? Is that why you’re in such a hurry to go?”
“We got along fine. I just want to get home.” They reached the end of the long hall and Scully pressed the down button.
“Agent Scully, wait!” Footsteps pounded down the hall and Dominic’s strong arms wrapped around her. Scully nearly dropped her briefcase, but let her free arm go around him and closed her eyes.
“You didn’t really think we’d let you leave without saying goodbye and thanks,” BIlly said. His accent made her smile, full of mists and heather. He shook Doggett’s hand and then Scully’s too. “Thank you, Agent Doggett.”
“Thank you,” Dominic said, shaking his hand too. “Thank you for looking after me,” he said to Scully, looking like he wanted to hug her again. Instead he only squeezed her hand.
“You’ll never be just a job to me,” she said, which made him smile–and then he did hug her again, even more tightly than before.
“Not goodbye,” he whispered and let her go. She nodded and stepped into the waiting elevator. She held the door open as Doggett said his goodbyes, and Billy and Dominic were waving and saying “take care” as the elevator doors slid closed.
“What was that all about?” Doggett said. “About not saying goodbye?”
“We got along really well,” Scully said simply. “Did you like Billy?”
“Yeah, but it took me a while to get used to his accent. For him to get used to mine, too. We played chess and talked, pretty much.” The elevator came to a stop and Doggett waited for her to exit first. “And you? What did you and Dominic do all day?”
He fucked me silly, Scully thought but only said, “Pretty much the same.”
Agent Spencer was waiting for them in the parking garage. “Great ride you’ve got there,” he said as he handed over the keys.
“Yup,” Doggett said simply and opened the door for Scully to climb in.
Doggett knew the city well enough that Scully was happy to let him drive them out of it. She folded her arms over her chest and leaned her forehead against the window, watching the windshield wipers sweep the rain away.
They were leaving New Jersey when Doggett said, “Have you called your mother? Let her know we’re on the way home?”
“Oh, no–thanks for reminding me.” She picked up her briefcase and hunted for her cell phone. She found it, and next to it was a book she hadn’t put there. She pulled the book out: it was a well-loved copy of “The Lord of the Rings.” She smiled in surprise.
“I think Dominic gave me a book.” She showed him the cover. “Their movies.”
“Oh, yeah. That was nice of him.”
“I told him I hadn’t read it.” She flipped through the pages, noting underlined passages and scrawled notes. “I think this is a copy he’s had for a long time.”
Doggett smirked at her. “I bet he’s going to call you to get it back.”
“Maybe,” Scully said. She noticed a long note on the title page and said, “Can I turn on the light?” as she reached up to flick it on.
“Mm,” was Doggett’s response.
Dominic had written, in scrawling script, “‘They would not be parted from thee–because they love thee.’ Love makes duty bearable. Love makes duty possible. Love makes duty worthwhile. Yours, Dom.”
Beneath that was a list of phone numbers, with notes below each one: “My cell,” “Mac’s in LA,” “My mum’s in Manc,” “Lij’s in NY,” “my agent.”
“What did he say?” Doggett asked.
Scully had to think of a good way to answer this, and finally said, “He says he’s glad he’s not just a job,” and closed the book.
E N D
Where does this tenderness come from?
There are not the–first curls I
have stroked slowly–and lips I
have known are–darker than yours
as stars rise often and go out again
(where does this tenderness come from?)
so many eyes have risen and died out
in front of these eyes of mine.
and yet no such song have
I heard in the darkness of night before,
(where does this tenderness come from?):
here, on the ribs of the singer.
Where does this tenderness come from?
And what shall I do with it, young
sly singer, just passing by?
Your lashes are–longer than anyone’s.