Title: Running Fast As I Can
Series Stranger Than Fiction
Fandom: Crossover (X-Files/LOTRiPF)
Summary: Scully has lost many people through her life. She doesn’t want to lose more.
Notes: Thanks to spicedrum and sistervivien for reigning in my commas.
William was finally asleep, so when the phone rang Scully leapt to answer it. “Hello?” she said, pitching her voice low and listening for the tell-tale “Mama! Mama!”
“Dana, it’s me,” Monica said with her customary cheer. “I’m at my friend Demery’s party and I have to ask one more time: are you sure you don’t want to come?”
Scully could hear music and conversation in the background–the usual party noises, punctuated by laughter and the sound of ice pouring into glasses. “Have I met Demery?”
“You met him at Christmas. The tax lawyer from Ohio? He thought you were cute.”
“Christmas was months ago,” Scully murmured.
“Well, he remembers you and he was very disappointed you weren’t coming. So are you sure you want to stay home tonight? You’ve been such a hermit the last few weeks.”
Scully didn’t know how to answer this. She was used to her solitary ways, as much as Monica kept trying to drag her out of them. Adding to this, six weeks before she’d learned for herself that pursuing a new lover was pointless: the perfect one existed, but he was out of her reach.
She said, “It’s too late to get a sitter for William,” and Monica sighed in frustration.
“Next week, get a sitter.”
“Where are we going?”
“I’ll think of something. Love you!”
“Love you,” Scully said, smiling, and turned off the phone. She kept it close, however: she was expecting another call any second.
Like clockwork, at nine the phone rang again. “Hello, Agent Doggett,” she said, not even glancing at the caller ID.
“Hey. How’s your night going?” Doggett said.
“Winding down.” She ran her hand through her hair and leaned back into the sofa. “How are you?”
“Same as always. Hey. Um.”
“Uh-huh?” She waited. He would often start out his odder proposals this way. Want to go camping with me and my brothers? Ever seen ‘Miss Saigon’? I made something for you–can I bring it by?
There was a brief silence, then Doggett said, “Nothing. Just checking on you. Have a good night.”
“Agent Doggett,” Scully began but he had already hung up. She frowned, puzzled, but then shrugged and put the phone back in its cradle. Their evening chats never were very long or wordy, but this was short even for Doggett. She supposed she ought to call him back and ask what was wrong, but Doggett would rather carve a 1/50th scale copy of Mt. Rushmore with his teeth than talk about his feelings.
She’d bring him breakfast on Monday: dark roast coffee and the really good muffins. Maybe he’d tell her what was up by lunch.
She didn’t expect anything more that night. She’d seen Frohike, Langly and Byers a few days before, she’d talked to her mother, and she’d seen Skinner before leaving work. She was fine, William was fine, they’d all made it through another week.
With a small sigh Scully put the DVD she’d borrowed from Langly into the player and, feeling sheepish, turned on the cast commentary. She had intended to iron clothes while she watched the movie, but instead Scully sat on the couch and pulled up her knees so she could wrap her arms around her legs. She closed her eyes.
She missed his voice, but more than that she missed his humor. He’d been so funny that day they’d spent together, so goofy and sweet–and later hot and sexy, treating her as if she was the most desirable woman alive.
She missed him.
Someone knocked at the front door. Scully groaned, paused the movie, and unfolded herself from the couch. Just a little me time, is that so much to ask? she thought but opened the door, pasting a smile on her face.
The smile froze.
“Hullo, Dana,” Dominic said. “Why did you never call?”
Scully inhaled. Her body was having its own response to his voice, to the sight and smell of him: her nipples tightened, remembering the feel of his lips; heat rushed between her legs, remembering his tongue, his fingers, his cock; her tongue ran over the backs of her teeth, remembering his euphoric, yearning kisses.
“Stunned you speechless, have I?” He lowered his head to look into her eyes, his breath cool across her lips, and whispered, “Hullo, Dana. Now say, ‘Hullo, Dominic.'”
Scully managed to stammer out, “What are you doing here?”
He seemed surprised she would even ask, raising his eyebrows and straightening up. “I told you I wanted to see you again.”
“And I told you we shouldn’t,” Scully said. “I gave you so many reasons–I told you as much as I could–“
He said quietly, “I miss you. I’ve got so much to tell you, but you never called.”
Scully started to scold him again but the disappointment in his voice gave her pause. No doubt he’d come a long way, and no doubt he’d gone to some trouble to find her–and for the simple reason that he missed her.
“Aren’t you happy to see me, at least a little?” he went on in the same soft voice. “‘Cause if you’re not I could catch a cab–“
“I am,” she said as she stepped back to let him in, and closed the door behind him. “Of course I am. You surprised me, that’s all.”
“I’ll remember never to surprise you again,” Dominic said, but the smile was back on his lips and when he put his arms around her Scully squeezed him just as tightly back.
“I don’t mind surprises,” she murmured against his neck. His skin was warm, and he smelled faintly of cologne and soap and end-of-the-day sweat. His hair was darker and shorter than before, and his beard was fuller. He was dressed less like a boy, too, wearing charcoal-gray trousers and a black cotton shirt instead a t-shirt and jeans. “At least, not if I’m expecting them.”
“Ruins the point, doncha think?” He ran his hand over her hair and played with the ends. “I think a kiss would be good about now.”
Scully hesitated, then rose up on her toes and kissed him. His tongue tapped lightly on her lips and she parted them, sucking on his tongue as he eased it into her mouth. He tasted like peppermint. His fingers skimmed her shoulders and down the front of her blouse, and popped open the top button.
Scully moaned and wove her fingers into his hair, tilting her head to the side so he would kiss her neck. One leg wrapped around his hip and his hand cradled her bottom for balance. His mouth went lower, to kiss her collar bones and the upper curves of her breasts. “God, I’ve missed you,” he muttered.
His voice broke whatever spell she’d been under, ready to fuck him on the floor of her living room. She lowered her leg from his hip and smoothed his hair. “Sorry.”
Dominic looked at her through lowered eyelashes, his ears faintly blushing. “Sorry for what?”
“I shouldn’t have jumped on you like that.”
“Christ, Dana!” He stepped out of her arms and raked his hand through his hair, making it stand up in its familiar spikes. “It wasn’t only you just now! Would you just be happy to see me? Not second-guess yourself all the time? I’ve missed you so much. There’s so much I’ve wanted to talk to you about.”
Dana looked up at him, puzzled and touched. She wanted him–her body was crying out for him–but she had to be reasonable. She had to be mature.
First she had to put some distance between them. She went into the kitchen and said, “Talk to me about what?” as she got down a pair of coffee cups.
“Everything! My life for the last two months. Your life. Everything we didn’t cover last time. Stuff has happened. I want your opinion.”
“Just talking,” Scully said. “We can talk. I can’t let you stay the night.”
“Or the bogeyman will get me? Come on, Dana.” He dropped his satchel to the floor and knelt beside it, opened it and took out a bundle of papers: a script, held together by a butterfly clip. He held it out to her. “Look at this.”
“What is it?” She took the script, and looked back at him when she saw the title. “Henry the Fourth? Shakespeare?”
“Ken Branagh wants me to play Prince Hal. He’ll play King Henry, of course.”
“And you want my opinion on what? It’s Shakespeare. It’s Kenneth Branagh. This could be wonderful for your career.”
“But there’s also a TV pilot that I just fi
nished shooting. If the series gets picked up I won’t be able to do the movie–he wants to start in September. That’ll right in the middle of shooting the series.”
“Well . . .” She sat down on the floor beside him. “Where will the series be shot?”
“Hawaii. And the movie will be in England, of course.”
“Wow,” Scully said, impressed.
“Yeah.” He scratched his beard. “But the series may not get picked up. So I don’t want to say no to the movie but I can’t say yes, either.”
“If he wants you badly enough I’m sure he’d adjust the schedule.”
Dominic didn’t say anything for a moment, still rubbing his whiskers. He said, “There’s always a chance that he might want someone more.”
“Yes, there is.” She wanted to stroke his hair, rub the back of his neck.
“Some help you are,” he said, but threw his jester’s grin at her and stuffed the script back into his satchel. “So. What are we doing for the rest of the night?”
“Evening,” Scully said. “I can’t let you stay.”
He leaned forward so he could rest his hands outside her knees. “Why? Because of your kid? I could understand it if you didn’t want me spending the night because of the kid.”
“I don’t want you spending the night for your sake.”
“Right,” he said. “The bogeyman.” He tilted his head to the side, looking into her eyes and still smiling faintly. “Or was it the Mafia? I forget now.”
“It’s . . . complicated.”
He mulled this over, then got onto his knees and started to crawl over her, making her lie on her back. “Are you that dangerous, Dana?”
“Dominic,” she began warningly, putting her hands on his shoulders.
“Do you know twenty ways to kill me with your bare hands?” He nudged her lips with his.
“That’s beside the point.” Her fingers kneaded his shoulders.
Dominic lifted his head. “Are you serious? You do?”
“Not twenty. Enough. But like I said, it’s beside the point. I don’t want you coming to the attention of the wrong people–people who’d use you and hurt you–“
“Dana. Love. I’m an actor. I’ve lived in Hollywood, for Crissake. I know about using and hurting and I don’t think some politician could do anything worse than a shitty director or arsehole agent can do.”
“Dominic.” She cupped his face in her hands. “They’d kill you if it suited them.”
“For spending one night with you? For being crazy about you?”
“You’re crazy about me?” She traced his lips with her thumbs.
“I don’t fly five thousand miles to spend a weekend for just any girl.” He grinned again and kissed her thumb.
Scully sighed, wanting to kiss him back. He may have considered himself jaded and world-weary, but he seemed as innocent as William in the ways of true evil. She said, “Dominic, I lost the last person that I loved. Lost him brutally. I couldn’t handle it if that happened to anyone else. To you.”
Dominic heaved a large sigh and rolled off her body to lie beside her on the floor. “How did he die?”
“He was abducted and tortured.”
“Shite,” he muttered under his breath.
“And you think this was because of you.”
She had to be honest with him. “No . . . Not exactly. We both knew dangerous things–and he’d been marked since he was a child as expendable by these men. But you’ve got to understand: my friends, we all know anyone of us could be a target next. We check in with each other every day to make sure we’re all still alive.”
Dominic put his hand on hers and said quietly, “I can’t decide if you’re the bravest person I know or the most cowardly.” She looked at him, raising an eyebrow, and he said, “Having a child is an act of faith, yeah? But it’s like you’ve used it all up–and can’t believe, for example, that I might be willing and able to take you away from all this.”
“I don’t need to be rescued from my own life.”
“That’s not what I’m hearing.”
“Dominic . . .” She turned onto her side so she could look at him directly and said, “Fucking you is not going to make all my problems go away.”
“But it might make them easier to bear, yeah?” He rolled onto his side too and put his hand on her hip.
Scully studied him for a long moment. This, she thought, was the trouble with actors: how do you tell when they’re being sincere or when they’re performing for you? She wrapped her fingers around his and said, sitting up, “I’m sorry you came all this way, expecting to get laid.”
“I didn’t come here expecting to get laid, dammit.” He sat up too, hanging his elbows over his knees. “I missed you! I’ve been wanting to talk to you for two months–
“Whatever. A long time. And you never called. I gave you every way I could think of for you to contact me and you didn’t call.”
“And how did you get my address, anyway?”
Dominic rolled his eyes and said, “Promise you won’t get angry?”
“No. Tell me anyway.”
He sighed. “Billy.”
“And how did Billy get my address?”
“Agent Doggett. They’ve been playing chess by email ever since New York. So I’ve been begging Billy for a month to ask Agent Doggett how to get a hold of you. He finally gave in two days ago and I got an email from Agent Doggett this morning, so I got on a plane and here I am. Which obviously was a bad idea because you don’t want to see me.”
“Dominic. . .” She hung her arms over his neck and kissed him quickly. “Dominic. I do want to see you. I’ve–I’ve been missing you. Longing for you. You’re going to laugh when I tell you what I was doing before you knocked.”
“What?” Dominic said, looking like he didn’t plan on laughing anytime soon.
“I was watching the Two Towers DVD with the cast commentary on, so I could hear your voice.”
He didn’t laugh but he did smile, which was a good sign. “You were?”
“Yes. I do want you. I do miss you. But you’ve got this whole future–this bright, beautiful, exciting future–and I can’t be the one to take it away from you.”
“Because you think the people you’re afraid of will kill me.”
“I’m not afraid of–” She caught his skeptical look and stopped herself. “All right. I am afraid. You’re right. I’m afraid they’ll kill you–or worse.” She kissed the palm of his hand and pressed it to her cheek.
He leaned close and kissed her forehead, and whispered, “I don’t believe it.”
She looked up sharply. “What?”
“I don’t believe it. How would someone like me be a threat to anyone? How would you being happy be a threat? If I’ve got a bright beautiful future I want you in it. As my friend, as my lover, as something–as long as you’re there.”
Scully didn’t know what to say to this. She got to her feet and straightened her clothes. “Do you want some coffee? I was going to make coffee.”
“Coffee’s fine,” Dominic said in defeat. He stayed on the floor as she got out beans, the grinder and filters, watching her with his elbows on his knees. “What have they got on you?”
Scully poured the beans into the grinder and said, “Everyone that I care about. My health. The health of my son. They never let me forget they can do anything to me, anything that they want. They could take me away–take William away–“
She started the coffee bean grinder to cover her trembling voice, and inhaled sharply when she felt Dominic’s hands on her shoulders. He kissed her neck and slid his hands down her sides to loosely hold her. “I know how crazy it sounds,” she said.
“It’s not crazy. It’s sad. Frustrating. It’s someone else in control of your life and all you can do is wait.”
“If I have to be out of control I’d rather it be my own choice,” she said and turned in his arms. She grasped his face to seek out his lips, and the coffee grinder landed on the floor with a metallic thunk.
She intended it to be gentle but at the first touch of her mouth his lips parted and he groaned, gripping her hips. He pulled her body flush to his: he was hot through his crisp trousers, and Scully heard herself whimpering as she sucked on his insistent tongue. He shuddered when her fingers scrabbled at his belt buckle.
Foreplay, she thought,
all this talk has just been foreplay. It made sense, really: he’d talked her out of her pants before.
She finally got his trousers open and stroked him through his undershorts, making him once more shudder and groan. He kissed her even more fiercely, his hips pumping shallowly against hers.
She was not going to stop. Not this time.
They barely stopped kissing to yank his shirt over his head, but Scully had to pause a moment, to admire the sharply defined muscles in his arms and chest. Dominic watched her run her hands over him through half-closed eyes, then grabbed her head and started kissing her hungrily again. He leaned against her so that the edge of the counter pressed into her back. His hands cupped her breasts, kneading them and rubbing her nipples with his palms.
He was so eager and passionate and–and male–all big hands and strong arms and spicy skin–she wanted to taste every inch of him. She pushed on his chest and he took a step back, his eyebrows starting to knit, and then grunted with surprise when she shoved him against the refrigerator. “Dana,” he breathed, his faintly tanned skin taking on a rosier hue. He tried to pull her into his arms again, but she kissed him with a quick bite to his lower lip and then slid down his body, bringing his trousers with her.
His underwear was more like Dom: bright yellow with a smiling face at the crotch, licking its chops as if something delicious was inside. She kissed his stomach, smiling as he groaned. She shucked him of his wingtips and socks, and teased between his toes with the tip of her tongue. Dominic’s breath shuddered. He stepped out of his pants, nearly tripping over the pile at his feet.
“Dana,” he gasped again, trying to kneel, but she pushed him flat against the fridge, her hands on his pelvis. She ran her hands up his ribs, looking up to meet his eyes. His lashes were impossibly long and thick and his expression was completely serious. He caressed her hair and leaned back his head, exhaling. Sweat was beginning to form on his forehead, on his chest.
“Look at how much you want me,” Scully whispered, stroking the bulge in his undershorts again. His breath caught. “You flew five thousand miles hoping you could fuck me, didn’t you, Dominic?”
“Say it!” she commanded. She wanted to yank down the yummy-face boxers and take him into her mouth but she needed this first–needed the admission that her body was worth the time, the money, the distance. If all he’d wanted was conversation a phone call would have sufficed, and they both knew it. She’d make good on the promises her hands were making, but first: “Say you flew five thousand miles to fuck me, Dominic!”
“I flew–five thousand miles–to fuck you–” he gasped out and groaned as she pulled down his boxer shorts. He lifted his arms to grab the top of the refrigerator, his eyes squeezed shut. “There hasn’t been–anyone–since you–“
Scully stopped squeezing and stroking to look up at him: head thrown back, chest heaving, cock pulsing with the pounding of his heart; he was beautiful and desirable and so–just hot–that he made her mouth water. “No one?” she whispered.
“No one.” He looked down at her, still hanging onto the top of the fridge.
She traced his ribs with her fingertips, then wrapped both hands around the base of his erection and placed a kiss on the head. Only inanities came to mind to say, so instead she just parted her lips and took him in as far as she could. Dominic groaned again, loudly, his body shaking with effort not to thrust, his legs apart and his yellow undershorts still caught around one ankle.
There was no grace in sex, Scully had often thought, but there could be tenderness and there often was beauty, especially in cases like this. Her golden boy, her beautiful boy–and there was, she had to admit, something powerfully arousing about having a man desired by millions naked in her kitchen, groaning her name and quaking at her touch.
And he’d waited for her. That alone sent her heart pounding.
His hips rocked and he groaned, “Dana, Dana,” as she pumped him with both hands and sucked him, her tongue a deep groove. He twitched against her lips and his moans took on an urgent note. His toes curled against the floor. He cried out, “Oh, God!” and went utterly rigid, as Scully brought her mouth to the very head and drank his come for what felt like a week.
Dominic slid down the fridge to his knees. He looked at her with half-closed eyes, then kissed her, draping his arms over her shoulders. He exhaled and buried his face in her neck.
“Worth it?” she whispered, brushing his hair from his forehead.
“Worth it. Worth it a thousand times over.” He kissed her neck. “I’ve missed you. I’ve wanted you.”
“I’ve wanted you too. I’ve missed you too.” She wanted to say more but she heard the thin, sobbing “Mama! Mamaaaaaah!” from the back of the apartment and got to her feet. “We’ve woken William–put some pants on, please?”
William stood in his crib, clinging to the top rail, tears streaming down his red face. “Oh, baby boy,” Scully cooed, and even though all the parenting books said not to she picked him up and cuddled him, kissing his auburn curls. “Did you have a bad dream?”
“I heared a noise, Mama! A loud noise!”
“It’s okay, sweet William. Mama’s got a friend over and we got a little noisy.”
“Zawn?” William said hopefully–he adored Doggett.
“No, not John.” She saw Dominic hesitating in the doorway, dressed in loose knit pants and a bright orange t-shirt. She nodded that it was all right to come in, and said to William, “This is Dominic.”
“Dom’nic,” William repeated softly, his eyes on the stranger. Dominic bent, his hands behind his back, so that their eyes were level.
William studied him, then let go of Scully’s blouse and put his hands on either side of Dominic’s face. He leaned close so that their noses were almost touching. He tilted Dominic’s head from one side to the other, eyebrows furrowed, then removed his hands and said, “Okay, Mama.”
Dominic straightened up, looking puzzled, and gave Scully a quick smile. She smiled back and said to William, “Okay. Do you think you can sleep now?”
“Yis. No more noisy with Dom’nic?”
“No more.” Dominic coughed and Scully gave him a warning look. “Kiss me good night,” she said and William kissed her. She hugged him and put him back in the crib. “I’ll be here when you wake up,” she promised him, and took Dominic by the arm to lead him away.
William cried, “Dom’nic! Dommie!” and they both stopped.
“Is something wrong, William?”
He gave them his most angelic smile. “Nighty-night, Dommie.” He lay down in the crib and snuggled up to his favorite toy: a big-eyed green alien someone at the bureau had given Scully just before he was born. Scully thought it was in bad taste, to say the least, but William liked the fuzzy little guy.
“Nighty-night, William,” Dominic said softly, and Scully turned off the light and pulled the door halfway shut.
As soon as they were out of William’s sight Dominic pulled Scully to him and fiercely kissed her. She inhaled, grasping his face, and pulled away enough to whisper, “Wait.”
“Sorry,” he muttered, stepping away from her. “Are we done for the night? ‘Cause I’d hate to leave you frustrated.”
“I can handle a little delayed gratification,” Scully said. “I’d rather not make out with you outside my son’s bedroom. Come on.” She led him by the hand back to the living room. “Did you want some coffee?”
“I don’t think I need it–I’m still on Hawaii time. Have some yourself, if you like.” He squeezed her hand. “You’re not ready to call it a night, then?”
“Not yet.” She laughed as he pulled her back into his arms and planted an unmistakably hungry kiss on her mouth. It made her knees tremble and her heart race, and it took all her willpower to whisper, “Slow down,” and gently pull away. “It’s still early and we’re not done talking.”
Dominic scratched his beard and said,
“We’re not? I can’t imagine what else you think we need to say. I’m staying, yeah? You’re not planning to kick me out?”
He put his hand over her mouth, making her eyes widen. “Listen. Here’s what I think we should do. Sunday night I’m catching a plane to New York for a photo shoot Monday morning. Until then, couldn’t we pretend we’re just Dom and Dana, Regular Couple? We can go over how dangerous it is to know you later. Couldn’t we just be normal for the next two days? Just have fun, just make love, just enjoy each other?”
Scully put her hand on his, meaning to pull it down so she could speak–instead she pressed it close and kissed his palm. It sounded heavenly, to just let go of her worries and her fears for a few days–to bask in his sunshine, for as long as they were together. “I’ll try,” she whispered and kissed his hand again.
“That’s a start,” Dominic murmured, sliding his hand down her cheek to cup the back of her head. He soothed her lips with his tongue and Scully finally let herself relax into him, meeting his kiss eagerly and wrapping him in her arms.
“So you’re here until Sunday?” she whispered when they paused for breath.
His mouth slid down her neck. “Mm-mm. My shuttle leaves at nine-thirty.”
“And what–mm–will you be doing in–ah–New York?”
“Photo shoot for a magazine. The next British Invasion or some such. Me . . . Paul Bettany . . . Daniel Radcliffe . . . Orli, which is the main reason I said yes . . .” She giggled and he chuckled. “You’re ticklish here! Right on your neck. I love it.”
“Quit it,” Scully said, pushing his head away from where he had been nibbling with determination. “I need to lock up and turn off the television—-and–and brush my teeth–oh, God–quit it!” she said again, grabbing his head. “Just go wait in the bedroom, okay, please? Just go wait for me.”
Dominic took a deep breath and popped his neck, looking at her with smoldering eyes. “Not long,” he rumbled.
“No, not long. Go,” she ordered, pointing to her bedroom. He let his gaze burn at her a moment more, then turned and walked away slowly, glancing back over his shoulder to make sure she was watching him.
Scully shook her head and took a few deep breaths. She turned off the DVD player and the TV, locked the front door and turned off all the lights. She went into the bathroom, washed her face and brushed her teeth. She took off her blouse and smoothed the tank top she wore beneath it, checking her reflection.
She looked . . . happy. Not old, not tired, not stressed. Just . . . happy.
The light was on in her bedroom, and Dominic was sitting on the edge of her bed. He had folded down the sheets and fluffed the pillows. His hands were folded together in his lap and oddly enough he looked a little nervous. “Hi,” Scully said softly.
“Hi. Is this okay?”
“Of course.” She sat on the bed beside him and ran her fingers down his arm. “Do you have condoms?”
“Yeah. I’ll get ’em.” He went to his satchel, which he’d dumped in the corner of the bedroom, and took out a familiar box. “Don’t you have any?”
“I haven’t bought any for years. I haven’t needed them.”
He put the box on her nightstand and stretched himself out beside her. Scully lay at his side, resting her head on his shoulder and her hand over his heart. “I find that terribly sad,” he said softly. “I hate to think of you living without love.”
She smiled despite the melancholy his words brought. “I had love. I didn’t have sex. Anyway, that’s long in the past. I’d rather focus on the present.”
“What about the future?” he said, stroking her arm. “Do you think about that?”
“Only when I have to,” Scully said, and propped herself on her elbow so she could kiss his face. He cupped her chin in his hand. “Let’s get undressed.”
“Wait. You need to know this,” he said. “Billy knows about us.”
The shock made her stop kissing him and hold herself over him. “You told him?”
“No! He figured it out. That night, in fact. I couldn’t stop talking about you and he–he knows me pretty well.”
“So why did it take you a month to convince him to ask Doggett for my number?”
“Well . . . at first he said I was infatuated and should move on. And then he said you’d made it clear you didn’t want to see me. And then he said Agent Doggett would never give that information out. And then he said, All right already, if it’ll shut you up . . . What I don’t get is why Agent Doggett didn’t say anything to me aside from your address. I expected a ‘If you hurt her I’ll break your kneecaps’ at the very least.”
“That’s not Doggett’s style. He wouldn’t threaten: he’d just break your kneecaps outright.”
“Oh, thank you, darling,” Dominic said. “I feel ever so much better now.” He pulled her on top of him and kissed her sweetly. “But I’m not going to hurt you.”
“I know,” Scully said as she pushed his hair back from his face. She thought, If anyone does any hurting around here it’ll probably be me . . . but only kissed him back, rubbing his temples.
“No frowning,” he admonished her gently. “I promised Billy I’d behave. I’m not going to make you sad or regret that I’m here.”
“Because you promised Billy.”
“I’m promising you. No regrets, Dana. I’m just happy to be with you.”
“I can feel that,” Scully murmured, shifting her hips, and Dominic softly moaned. He pulled her close and kissed her, then rolled her onto her back, letting his full weight rest on her body.
“Even if we weren’t going to have sex I’d be happy. But I’m really glad we’re having sex.”
Scully hummed in agreement as she kissed him. No more thinking, she decided: here was the man she had been longing for–body, voice, hands–and there would be time enough to worry tomorrow.
But for now he was nuzzling her breasts, his beard tickling her skin, and she was raking her hands through his hair and over his back; and he was kissing her, all sweet breath and hungry lips; and her legs were around his slender waist and his warm skin was beneath her palms; his mouth on her neck, on her breasts; their clothing gone, his voice low and rumbling on her name; all slowdeepwet; all hardhotnow; all Dominic, all Dana.
He fell asleep with his nose pressed against her neck, his arm across her ribs. Scully stroked his sweaty hair and thought of nothing of all.
Scully awoke to singing. She rubbed her hand over her face and checked the clock: a quarter after seven, a good hour later than William usually let her sleep.
She got out of bed and pulled on pajamas and her bathrobe, and followed the voices to the kitchen. The boys were at the table, with bowls of cold cereal and glasses of juice, and Dominic was teaching William to sing.
“‘In a couple of years they have built their home sweet home,'” Dominic sang, with William echoing a syllable or two. “‘With a couple of kids running in the yard of Desmond and Molly Jones.'”
William saw her first and cried, “Mama!” happily as he stood in his booster chair. She picked him up and held him on her hip, smoothing his hair and kissing his sticky cheeks.
“Good morning, sweetie,” she said, unable to meet Dominic’s eyes just yet. “What are you having for breakfast?”
“Cho’late Crunch,” William said and laid his head on her shoulder.
“I figured it was okay since it was in the cupboard,” Dominic said.
“Of course,” Scully murmured. She put William back in his booster seat and went to the fridge for bread and butter. “Does anyone else want toast?”
“Yis, please,” said William and ate another spoonful of cereal.
Dominic said, “Is that all you’re having?” in a soft voice.
“I’ll have coffee too, if you’ve been an angel and started the pot. Which you were. So I’ll have some.” She poured herself a cup and sipped it black.
Dominic’s mouth moved as if he wanted to say more, but just said to William, “Should we sing Mummy the chorus?”
“What do you normally do on Saturdays?” Dominic asked as they watched William watch cartoons. Her discomfo
rt had faded over breakfast, and they sat on the sofa with her feet in his lap as he rubbed her toes.
“Whatever needs doing,” Scully said. “Today it’s grocery shopping.”
“Good. You need a sandwich.”
She snorted. “I don’t need sandwich.”
“The only things I’ve seen you eat is coffee and toast.”
“Because you’ve only ever seen me eat breakfast.”
“William,” Dominic called, “does your mum eat enough?”
William turned around, clearly thinking it over. “She eats with me,” he said finally.
“I usually have whatever he’s having,” Scully explained. “That way he actually eats.”
“Well, I’m going to make you a sandwich. A great, thick one with asparagus and tomatoes. You’ll love it.”
“I don’t have any asparagus.”
“Then we’ll have to get some at the shop.” He traced her instep, tickling faintly with the tip of his finger.
“Asparagus in a sandwich?”
“Yes, and tomatoes and lettuce and hard-boiled eggs and herbs de Provence. And we’ll need really good bread. Thick, hearty bread you can sink your teeth into.”
“It’s not just a sandwich, it’s an adventure,” Scully said, swinging her feet from his lap and standing. “Do you want the shower first?”
“No, go ahead. I want to see how this ends.” He grinned at her.
“The roadrunner gets away,” Scully said, nudging him with her toe.
“Well, now you’ve spoiled it.” He grinned even wider and grabbed her fingers. “Hey. Wait a minute.”
“What?” She ran her free hand through his hair.
“Sit. Tell me something.” She sat, tucking her legs beneath her, and he said in a low voice, “This morning–that was okay, wasn’t it?”
“Of course. You just gave him breakfast.”
“And we sang.”
“I approve of the Beatles. Maybe not ‘Why Don’t We Do It In the Road’ . . .” She smiled at him but his face stayed serious.
“I’ve never dated anyone with a kid before. I’m not sure what to do.”
“You have friends with kids, don’t you? What do you do with them?” She loved his hair in the mornings, she decided as she played with it.
He shrugged. “Play with them, mostly.”
“Well, that’s all you really need to do with William. He’s really pretty low-maintenance. Aren’t you, bubba?” she said to William, who ignored her for cartoons. “All you really need to do is keep them amused, keep them fed and keep them safe.”
“Oh, is that all.”
“Okay, maybe it’s not that easy.” And while she was feeling confessional she added, “It’s worse because I feel like I hardly see him. He’s at my mother’s or at daycare, and I have to travel so much–male agents can travel and have families but they have wives at home, and I . . . I see him on weekends.”
Dominic pulled her head down to his shoulder and kissed her hair. “Why don’t they transfer you to something where you can be home more?”
“If I leave they’ll shut my division down. They’ll reassign Agents Doggett and Reyes–and we barely have Agent Reyes as it is. She’s always being lent out to other departments. If I leave they’ll shut it all down, and I’m not ready for that to happen.”
“Hm.” He rubbed her scalp with his fingertips.
William looked back at them, got up and walked to the sofa. He climbed up onto Scully’s lap and wedged himself between them. Dominic chuckled and moved his hip so William would fit, and made a small surprised sound when William leaned against his side.
“Mommy and Dommie,” William said and giggled at the rhyme.
“My best friends call me that,” Dominic said, lowering his head to talk directly to William. “Did you know that?”
“How did you know that?” Scully said.
“He told me.” William kicked his feet a moment.
“When did I tell you?” Dominic said, mystified.
“I did?” He looked up at Scully. “I must’ve. I was pretty sleepy when we first woke up–I’m not sure what we talked about. Hey–my best friend is named William, too. You want to know what we call him?”
“What?” William said.
“We call him Bills. Do you like that?”
William thought about it a moment, then shook his head. “That’s not my name. My name is William.” He pronounced it carefully: “will-y-um.”
“William the Conqueror,” Dominic said, and William giggled and shook his head. “No? How about . . . William the Strong? William the Brave? William the Wise?”
“I like that one.”
“All right. William the Wise.” He brushed his fingers over William’s hair. “Do you know what ‘wise’ means, little William?”
“Uh-huh. It means you know things.”
“And what kind of things do you know?” He glanced at Scully over William’s head, and she just smiled back.
“Everything,” William said, picking at a tear in Dominic’s pants. “You’ve got a hole,” he whispered loudly.
“I know, these are old. William. How do you know everything?”
“It’s just there. In my head.”
“Are you sure it’s everything?”
“Yis . . .” William’s voice drifted off, absorbed in the cartoons again. “I know Mama misses my daddy.”
“All right,” Scully said, picking up the remote. “This is the cartoon that gave you nightmares and we need to go shopping.” William made a fussy noise and Scully said, “The sooner we go the sooner we’ll be done. And you’re all sticky.” She picked him up and said to Dominic, “How about you use the shower while I get him ready?”
“Okay,” Dominic said. He called after them as Scully carried William to the kitchen, “I’m still making you that sandwich.”
“You can make me a list first,” Scully said, and Dominic laughed as he went into the bathroom.
Scully waited until the door was closed and the water running. “So,” she said as she washed William’s face. “What do you think? Is he nice?”
“Uh-huh. He’s nice. He’s funny.”
“Yeah. He is.” She dried his face with a paper towel. “Is he okay for me, do you think? Is he okay for us?”
“Yeah. He’s okay.”
“Should I tell you something?” He nodded and she leaned her forehead against his. She whispered, “Should I tell you I like him a whole lot?”
“Yeah,” William said, grinning. “You should.”
“I like him a whole lot.” He giggled and she kissed him as she lifted him down from the counter. “Let’s get you dressed, bubba.” He ran ahead to his bedroom. As Scully passed the bathroom she could hear Dominic singing: “‘Obladi, oblada, life goes on, oh! La la, how that life goes on.'”
She couldn’t stop smiling. It was a good feeling.
***It came down to letting Dominic push the cart and try to pop wheelies in the aisles, or letting Dominic carry William on his back and hoping they kept each other amused. Scully had to admit they seemed to enjoy each other, more like brothers than a man and child who’d just met.
They made an interesting picture as Domino carried William around the store. The t-shirt for today was dark green and advertised O’Malley’s bowling alley, home of the best cheese fries in Duluth. His toenails were painted black, visible in his worn fisherman’s sandals, and his khaki pants probably hadn’t seen an iron in a decade. William at least looked neat in his shorts and cotton shirt, though he needed a haircut. He was tall for his age and his legs dangled from beneath Dominic’s arms, kicking sometimes as he laughed.
Scully couldn’t think of when she’d heard him laugh so much.
The other shoppers clearly didn’t know what to make of them. Dominic was too old to be her son, too young to be her husband, too foreign to be a relative and too physical to be a friend.
“Why do they keep staring?” Dominic muttered to her in the produce aisle. Two ladies in housecoats had been whispering to each other ever since they passed the strawberries. “I know they don’t recognize me. It’s not that.”
“I think they’re envying me my boy-toy,” Scully said.
Dominic snorted with laughter and William said, “What’s that?”
“It means I’m your mum’s plaything,” said Dominic, winking at Scully. “I exist to make her happy.”
“Oh,” William said, laying his head on Dominic’s shoulder. “Like Reticulan.”
“His favorite toy,” Scully explained.
“Oh,” Dominic said in understanding. “Something like that.” He leaned over a display of shelled nuts to kiss Scully’s lips, chuckling at the shocked gasps and fresh flurry of whispers coming from beside the onions.
Scully felt herself blush, and turned her head away. “Stop it–I have to live here.” He pulled back, a frown forming on his expressive face, and Scully said, “William, why don’t you have Dommie help you choose your cereal for next week?”
“This way, Dommie,” William said, pointing towards the cereal aisle.
“As you wish, wee William,” Dominic said, turning to where William was pointing, but kept his eyes on Scully for as long as he could.
And why not just sky write “We’re fucking ” above us, Scully thought, but managed to paste on a polite smile as she pushed the cart past the two whispering women. They both smiled politely back, but still Scully didn’t breathe easily until she was in the next aisle.
She was being ridiculous–or, all things considered, maybe she wasn’t. She’d been aware of someone tailing her as recently as four months ago, and while she had no idea what they’d do once they found out about Dominic, she had to assume it would be nothing good.
She closed her eyes a moment, remembering things she’d rather forget–Mulder’s cold, scarred body, the cruel cuts in his chest and face–and then took a deep breath, opened her eyes and went to find herbs de Provence for Dominic’s sandwiches.
She finished her list much more quickly than usual, so with every item crossed off she went in search of Dominic and William. They weren’t in the cereal, cookie or candy aisles, which she had thought would be the most obvious. Her heart was beginning to beat more rapidly and she was trying not to think in missing persons reports, when she found them in school supplies, where one could also buy small inexpensive toys, crayons and children’s books. William and Dominic sat on the tiled floor, William leaning against Dominic’s side, sucking on his fingers as Dominic read to him.
Mulder would do this, Scully thought with an ache in her heart. She knelt so she would be on their eye level.
Dom stopped reading and William took his fingers out of his mouth. “Mama, Dommie does good voices.”
“Good,” Scully said, holding onto the shopping cart for balance. “Are you ready to go? Did you get your cereal?”
He showed her a box of Lucky Charms. “Are we Irish like Lucky? Dommie said we are.”
She stood to put the box in the cart. “Dommie’s right. My father, your grandpa Bill, came from Ireland when he was a little boy. That’s also why your great-aunt Olive talks the way she does. That’s how people from Ireland talk.”
“Dommie’s from England. He said it’s pretty but it’s cold.”
“With a name like Monaghan he’s got some Irish in him too,” Scully murmured, picking up William to put him in the cart’s seat. “Come on, bubba. Let’s get home.”
“Dommie–Dommie–” William cried, holding out his hands, and Dominic finally got up from the floor.
“I’m coming. All my stuff is at your mum’s.”
That was hardly a ringing endorsement. Scully pressed her lips together and started to push the cart towards the front of the store, then smiled when she felt William’s hands on her face. “Little Mommy,” he said softly.
She pressed her hands over his and took them down, and they smiled at each other. When she felt Dominic’s tentative hand on her waist, she let it stay.
Scully gave William some blank paper and big toddler-sized crayons, and sat him at the kitchen table. She watched him draw while she put the groceries away and Dominic hard-boiled some eggs. “Eggs, asparagus, tomatoes and lettuce,” she said. “This is one of the more interesting sandwiches I’ve ever heard of.”
“No weirder than a Reuben. Who first thought of that? Corned beef and sauerkraut.” He made a face, shuddering.
“I like Reubens,” Scully said.
Dominic caught her around the waist and pulled her close. “Hey. Why wouldn’t you let me kiss you?”
“Dom,” she began, glancing at William, but he didn’t look up. She said quietly, “I’m not comfortable being demonstrative in front of other people. How I feel about someone is no one’s business but our own.”
Dominic said, “I love being demonstrative. I don’t care who’s looking.”
“And that’s the fundamental difference between you and me.”
“I want to kiss you everywhere,” Dominic murmured and Scully narrowed her eyes at him.
“Child,” she reminded him, stepping out of his arms. Dominic bit his lip and looked away.
“I like kisses,” William said, putting down his crayon. “Look, Mama. Grammie’s house.”
“That’s very good.” She leaned over the back of William’s chair. “Is that Grammie?”
“Yes.” He pointed to the other figure, who hovered above the scrawled green lines of grass. “And that’s my Grandpa Bill from Ireland.”
“That’s very good, baby,” Scully murmured, kissing the top of his head. William took another piece of paper and started a second picture, and Dominic picked up the one he had finished.
“Why is your grandpa flying?” he asked.
“Because he’s a ghost.”
“Or an angel?” Scully said, and William shrugged, absorbed in his new picture. She explained to Dominic, “My father died nine years ago.”
“I see.” He put the drawing down and went back to the stove to check the eggs. He fished out one with a mixing spoon and spun it on the counter, giving a little nod when it didn’t wobble. He dumped the hot water into the sink and put the eggs into a cereal bowl to cool.
Scully found herself watching him even though he was doing something completely ordinary. She had watched him sleep the night before–she knew she would happily watch him read or watch TV or clip his toenails. She kissed William’s head again, went to Dominic and placed her hand on his warm back. He stopped shelling the egg in his hand and looked at her with patience and, she was relieved to see, some good humor.
“I’m sorry this isn’t turning out like you expected,” she said quietly.
“I told you I wasn’t expecting anything, Dana.” He leaned closer to whisper, “I wouldn’t have minded spending the weekend in bed with you, though.”
Scully blushed and leaned her forehead against his chest. “It’s just not possible. I can’t dump William on my mother for a weekend just to indulge myself.”
“I know. I understand. I do. The rules are all different when there’s a kid involved.” He glanced back at William, who was still busily coloring, and said in an even lower voice, “But we’ve still got the night, don’t we?”
“Yes. We’ve got the night.” She hesitated, then kissed him, determined to keep her hands out of his hair and off his chest, trying to keep it as simple and non-suggestive as she could.
It didn’t work: not touching him made her want to touch him even more. Her tongue swept over his lips, which parted eagerly. His tongue was as ardent and hungry as ever, and she knew in a moment he would pull her close for the full-body contact they both loved–she pulled back and exhaled, opening her eyes.
Dominic’s head stayed lowered. He breathed evenly through his mouth, watching her with deceptively sleepy-looking eyes.
Scully whispered, “That’s why we shouldn’t kiss in public.”
“I can’t wait until tonight,” he answered, and started shelling eggs again.
Dominic’s sandwiches were delicious for lunch, though William picked off his asparagus. They went to a local park after they ate, and Scully heard herself laughing with pure happiness as she watched the boys play. Dominic helped William swing and showed him how to walk on his hands on the grass, and waited at the bottom of the slide when Scully helped William ride down. When William was occupied in the sandbox Dominic threw himself onto the grass beside her, smiled wearily but happily, and pulled her into his arms.
The rest of the day passed as Saturdays do. Scully threw a batch of whites into the washer. Dominic played Elmo’s World with William on the computer. They both were dragging
by William’s nap time, and Dominic just nodded when Scully suggested he lie down for a while too.
While they both slept Scully wandered around the apartment, savoring both the silence and the knowledge they all were safe, they were close and they were happy.
For dinner they went to a pizzeria in the neighborhood, where the jukebox was filled with Sinatra and Rosemary Clooney, the salad bar was long and the pizza was crisp and delicious. William would only eat cheese pizza, though he would pick off slices of pepperoni and eat them separately. Scully ordered a pie which Dom praised as the best pizza he’d eaten outside of New York.
William was singing “obladi, obladah” over and over to himself and Dom’s hand was resting lightly over Scully’s when she noticed a booth full of girls whispering to each other and looking at their table. She murmured to Dominic, “I think you’ve been spotted,” and pulled William onto her lap.
Three of the girls felt brave enough to approach them, two of them giggling and the third calm but smiling broadly. “Hi. Um, hi,” she said. Her friends giggled and Dom waited with a friendly expression on his face. She said, “This is probably stupid but aren’t you Merry? From ‘The Lord of the Rings’? Dominic Monag-han?”
“Monaghan,” he corrected gently, and the girl’s two friends nearly collapsed on each other. “Yeah.”
“Omigod!” one of the giggling girls exclaimed. “I totally love you!”
“Well, I totally love you too, darling,” he said, making the girls squeal again. One of them started fumbling in her tiny purse.
“Could we take some pictures? They’re never going to believe it at school.” She triumphantly brandished a camera-phone. “That is, if your, um, your friend–?”
“Do you mind, Dana?” Dominic said, but he was already sliding out of the booth.
Scully just gave a nod and watched as he hugged the girls, signed paper napkins and took picture after picture. William watched too, his fingers in his mouth, and finally turned back his head to ask Scully, “What’s Dommie doing, Mama?”
“Pleasing his public, bubba,” Scully said and started persuading him to eat one more cherry tomato.
Finally Dominic excused himself from the girls and came back to the booth. He slid across the seat and laid his head on Scully’s shoulder. William looked at him a moment, then reached out and solemnly pressed the end of Dominic’s nose. “Beep,” he said softly.
Dominic laughed and kissed William’s forehead, rubbing his stomach. “Thank you, bubba.” He smiled up at Scully and laid his head on her shoulder again.
Scully smiled back, ruffling William’s hair. The girls were leaving, still jabbering happily about meeting “Merry” and how jealous their friends would be, and she didn’t want to look at Dom to see if his eyes were following them. Young, nubile, and available, she thought with a sigh and rested her chin on the top of William’s head.
“Ow, Mama,” William said, moving his head away and rubbing it. “Your head is heavy.”
“Sorry. Are we done? Is it time to go home?”
“I’m done,” Dominic said, but his hand moved from William’s stomach to Scully’s knee. “Hey. Don’t be mad about that.”
“I’m not mad. I knew we’d run into your fans eventually.”
“Yeah, all five of them.” He grinned at her.
“You know that’s not true.”
He shrugged. “It’s good will. Now they’ll be more likely to watch the series.” He added in a whisper, “And I am going home with you.”
“Because all your stuff is at my place.”
He rubbed her knee and kissed her over William’s head. “Let’s go home.”