Debra Fran Baker
I am a coward, and a traitor. This is my secret and my shame, and why I was fated to watch the man I love disappear from my world, and why I must now see the evidence of his own betrayal of me. It is only justice.
"Mulder! I do not need your help."
"Be that as it may, sir, you're going to get it." Mulder smiled as he held the wheelchair in my hospital room. He was wearing old black jeans and a wash-faded black turtleneck and I had to force myself to turn away to sit down.
"I can order you away."
"With all due respect, sir, I am no longer your subordinate. Also, I'm following Scully's orders, and, sir. I'm more afraid of her than I am of you." He gathered my things from my bed, placed them on my lap, and wheeled me out of the room.
"Agent Scully's orders? That's different." I had to smile. One day, Agent Scully would be running the FBI. I only hoped I could see the day, but not with those critters running around in my blood. I was a time machine, and I knew it. I'd been warned.
We did what had to be done to get me checked out. Mulder sat and watched me fill out the forms.
"Trust me, sir, you don't want my help with this."
"I don't want your help at all. I want you to take me home and then go away."
He looked at me. "And face my partner's wrath? I'm to drive you home, make sure you have a full larder and eat at least one meal commonly thought of as nutritious and put you to bed." He leered at me. "That part sounds like fun. Sir."
"I'll be fine." He was right, and I pushed that thought away from me. He was only joking. "But if you really want..." I winked at him.
Mulder smiled. "Right, sir." I finished the last of the forms. I'm well trained in filling out forms. I've made a career out of it. I handed them to the clerk, and let Mulder push me out the hospital door.
It was autumn in Washington. No longer humid, with actual breathable air. I took a lungful as I stood up and Mulder returned the chair. It was nice to breathe. Breathing was something I couldn't do all too recently.
He made me sit down on a bench while he brought what turned out to be my car around.
"Can you explain this, Agent Mulder?" I climbed into the passenger side while he dumped my things in my trunk.
"You surely didn't want it to sit in the parking garage while you were in the hospital, did you?" He got in and glared at me until I buckled my seat belt. I hate seat belts. They don't fit around my shoulders.
"How did you get the keys?"
"Scully picks pockets. It's one of her hidden talents."
"Where's your car?"
"I don't own a car. Taxis always stop for me. It's an X-File." He pulled away from the curb.
I don't remember what we talked about on the way to my apartment. Sports, probably, or the news. Nothing that meant anything. Nothing to do with the reasons he was driving me home, or with the agency at all. Movies. I think we talked about movies. Mulder sees a lot of movies. Some of them even clean. He even talked me into letting him stop to rent a couple when we got near a video place. He wouldn't show me what they were.
He made me sit in the car while he went shopping, too, clutching a long, detailed list in Scully's handwriting. He did hand me a pile of books to pass the time. I didn't mind. I don't like supermarkets. He came back soon enough with a wagon full of bags, some of which contained items I was sure weren't on Scully's list. Like the bag of sunflower seeds, the very sweet cereal and the one bag full of various chips.
"You get beer, Agent Mulder?"
"Not allowed to. See?" He showed me the list. There was a note at the bottom. "Absolutely no beer or alcoholic beverages of any sort." "I didn't dare take the chance. She'd know and she'd hurt me."
The concierge of my building helped us carry the groceries to my apartment. This is why I paid the maintenance I did, after all. Mulder still insisted on tipping him.
"That reminds me." We put the bags in my kitchen. "How much do I owe you?"
"My treat. I think...this will never equal my debt to you."
I sat by my kitchen table while Mulder put things away. I now had plenty of both frozen dinners and fresh vegetables. I did notice a couple of packages of chicken and some hamburger, so Scully didn't think I was entirely helpless in the kitchen.
"My larder is now stocked."
"Yes, sir." He opened one of the bags of chips and popped a Diet Coke as he plunked himself down on a kitchen chair opposite me. I grabbed at the bag. "Hey!"
"A few won't hurt me."
"Okay. But I'll tell Scully it's all your fault." He handed me some chips and a can of soda. Mulder continued his analysis of "the greatest movie ever made" - I had no idea that Munchkins were such a political issue. Not that I listened, much. Not to his words, anyway. Just his voice. He has a remarkable voice. And I watched his hands fidget with whatever they could find, and wondered why none of that ever reached his eyes.
Scully called around four. We reassured her that I was fine, that Mulder had followed her list and that he was staying for awhile. She ordered us to cook the chicken and some of the vegetables. We both made faces at the idea of vegetables, but she sensed that and assured us that salad counted. She wanted to come by, but I talked her out of it.
I can cook. I certainly can take a chicken, put stuff on it and bake it. Mulder claimed he was competent to wash salad vegetables and even cut them up. Both of us were confident about baking potatoes. So, I found myself cooking with Mulder.
He jumped around the kitchen, saying "pow" and "wham!" when he wasn't speaking in a high, quavery voice, but he managed to cut lettuce, tomatoes and cucumbers without slicing any fingers, and it was certainly more fun than cooking alone. I slid the chicken and the foil wrapped potatoes in the oven and Mulder put his minimalist salad in the fridge, and even cleaned up the cucumber skins without being asked.
He pulled out the first movie and popped it in my VCR, while I carried the soda and chips over to the sofa. I shook my head. I never ate in my living room. Food stays in the dining room or the kitchen unless one is ill. So spoke my mother. I rationalized that I had just gotten out of the hospital.
Mulder sat on one end of the couch, so I took the other. To my surprise, he moved closer. "Don't hog the chips, sir."
"You might as well call me Walter." I smiled at him.
He ducked his head, biting his full lower lip. "Walter." The way he said my name made my muscles squirm. Not looking back at me, he reached for the VCR remote and turned on the movie. He insisted on reading the FBI warning out loud. Said it was a matter of loyalty.
Next thing I knew, he was singing, off-key, along with a puppet frog. I don't know what I was expecting - a horror film, maybe, or some SF flick, but he'd rented "The Muppet Movie." And he knew all the songs by heart if not by tune.
He watched the movie. I watched him. Sometimes he fidgeted, playing with the remote or his soda or a sofa cushion, sometimes he sat perfectly still, staring at the screen. Whenever the one with the strange nose and the chickens came on, he mouthed the creature's lines.
As he squirmed and changed position, he moved closer to me. I could see it happening. And it was okay. I wasn't his supervisor. I was on leave. And he was singing with puppets. He would have looked twenty years younger, except for his eyes. I don't know what those eyes have seen in his lifetime, but they looked ancient, as if there were multiple lifetimes of pain there. Maybe there were.
He was gripping a cushion during a moment that I supposed should have been tense, except these were puppets, leaning forward, his eyes wide. He was sitting inches away from me. I touched his shoulder. When he showed no sign of reacting, I became bolder and began to rub his back.
He turned to me with a brilliant smile. "That feels so good. Do you mind?"
Before I could answer, he was on the floor in front of me, between my knees, and I was massaging his neck. He stretched and nearly purred under my hands. It was very like petting a cat. I could feel his muscles relax. He leaned back into me, and I let my hands drift down, rubbing around his prominent collar bone. He moaned softly.
Greatly daring, I reached lower, until my fingers brushed his nipples, hard beneath his turtleneck. I moved my hands away quickly.
"Oh...that was nice..." His voice was hoarse and vaguely disappointed. I went back, wondering how wrong it was to fondle one of my male agents while watching a kid's movie. Wrong or right, it appeared to work for me. I was becoming more aroused by moment, and judging from his low moans, he was enjoying himself.
However, at that point, I could smell the chicken and Mulder was singing about rainbows again. Also, my stomach was growling. Mulder protested briefly, but nodded when I explained about burnt food.
He rewound the tape while I got the chicken out of the oven, then he offered to set the table. I had to tell him where everything was, of course, but once I did, he remembered. I loaded our plates with roast chicken, baked potatoes and salad and set one in front of him.
He murmured an apology to "Camilla", shot me a grin and dug in. I'd given each of us half a chicken, figuring two grown men could eat at least that much. I knew I could. I even loaded my potato with butter and sour cream, and Mulder had gotten bleu cheese dressing.
Mulder, though...Mulder talked. He'd found deep symbolism in that movie and he made sure I knew all of it, from childhood fantasies and nightmares to innocence lost and refound. It wasn't until after I'd finished that I noticed that while he'd eaten all of his salad, dry, he'd left most of his chicken and half of his potato behind. He saw me looking and quickly took away my empty plate along with his. He wouldn't let me help him with the dishes at all, but acceded to my suggestion that I make some coffee. He even smiled and leaned into me when I stood next to him to fill the pitcher at the sink. I hoped, rather absurdly, that the second movie would be more conducive to making out.
Alas, it was Mulder's greatest movie of all time. This time, though, I was as familiar with it as he was and sang along with the same songs. I felt especially close to the Cowardly Lion. Mulder, on the other hand, never took his eyes off Dorothy.
During the first act, while they were still in black and white, I draped my arm around Mulder's shoulders, noticing that the bones were close to the surface. He moved closer to me, eventually laying his head in my lap.
I don't think I moved much during the movie. I know I didn't say anything. Mulder mouthed lines and squirmed and changed position constantly, but he always maintained contact, and at the end of the movie, while I was watching Dorothy exclaim about "you and you and you and even you!", he sat up, moved halfway into my lap and kissed me.
What could I do? I opened my mouth, and let him in. And he tasted...hungry. He wasn't satisfied with my lips and tongue. He explored my whole mouth and then started on my cheeks and nose and then there were his lips on mine again, and this time I took control, and he more than let me, he literally relaxed in my arms when I did.
I don't know how long we sat there, glued to each other's face. I know he managed to rewind. I know my arm almost fell asleep. But, eventually, we had to move. As I told Mulder, I was too old to make out on the couch. He just grinned at me, and for a moment, his eyes didn't look so old.
We kissed and fondled each other all the way upstairs, and got each other's clothes off with a minimum of fuss.
My window has a western view. The setting sun caught Mulder as he undressed, bathing him in red-gold light. He Ws beautiful. His whipcord muscles moved visibly - maybe too visibly - under his skin. His skin was smooth where he wasn't scarred. He had too many scars - on his leg, on his shoulder, his arms, his legs. His back. I knew where some of them happened. I was even around for two or three. Others looked older, more faded.
I wondered how many of those scars matched those on his soul, the ones that made his eyes so old and his smiles so brilliant in contrast. I went to him and kissed him again to dispel those thoughts. Under my hands, he was perfectly smooth.
He pulled away and grinned at me before dropping gracefully to his knees. That sight was enough to bring me to full attention. His mouth was warm, gentle, talented, and he knew exactly when to apply little nips with his teeth. I buried my hands in his hair and rode his mouth until my orgasm came crashing though me and into him, and he held on, still hungry, until I was finished. Then he let go, licking a few stray drops with that skillful tongue of his and guided me to the bed, but remained standing.
I found his mouth again and tasted myself as I kissed him. He moaned. I could feel his erection against my body. It was hot and hard and I knew what I wanted from him. I turned us around so his back was to the bed and pushed gently.
He grinned and scooted up the bed, pulling back the covers and rearranging the pillows. Then he lay back, his legs bent and spread. This was the vision of a thousand wet dreams over the years, but it wasn't what I needed. I climbed onto the bed, and reached into my night table to find the condoms and lube I had stashed there for the once in a blue moon times I had another man up here.
I slid the condom onto Mulder.
"Walter? Are you sure?"
"Just lay back, Mulder."
He nodded and laid himself down flat, his latex covered penis pointed straight to his mouth. I squeezed out some lube and prepared myself as well as I could and then, accompanied by Mulder's moans and sighs, fit myself around him, engulfing him completely.
Then I began to play with his nipples again as I moved up and down on him. He filled me perfectly, as I knew he would. Even though I'd just had an orgasm, I was ready again...miraculous for a man my age, but so was having Mulder here. So was being alive. I tightened my muscles around him as I moved, while he reached out a long arm and began to stroke me again.
I don't know how it happened, but I managed to come again first, with Mulder close behind. I collapsed on him when we were both spent, before grabbing a couple of tissues from the box on my nighttable and doing some perfunctory clean up.
Scully called just as we settled back into bed in each other's arms. "Yeah, he's okay. I'm putting him to bed. No...I think I'm spending the night here. I'll see you in the morning. Kay. Night, partner." He tossed the phone by the table. "Now, where were we, Walter?"
He slept in my arms that night, and soothed me when I woke from a dream of little cogs taking over my body. The next day, he kissed me goodbye and went to work.
*He* called while Mulder was gone and told me I wasn't to do that again. I'm a coward. I called Mulder and told him not to come over, ignoring the new scar I'd given him. He just said "Yes, sir," and hung up.
I'm a coward. I got to hold him that one night, and now he's lost some place that might as well be over the rainbow, and I can't make it up to him.
This is the thousand deaths a coward dies, and I die it again every day.
Copyright 2000 Debra Fran Baker and NightRoads Associates
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