TITLE: Thirty-Sixth (1/1)
AUTHOR: Shoshana
EMAIL ADDRESS: shoshana1013@excite.com
DISTRIBUTION STATEMENT: Gossamer, Spookys site, Xemplary,
etc.
SPOILER WARNING: None
RATING: PG
CONTENT STATEMENT: M/S UST
CLASSIFICATION: VR
KEYWORDS: Mulder/Scully UST
SUMMARY: It's Scully's birthday.
DISCLAIMER: These characters do not belong to me.
NOTE: Thanks to my great beta readers Char, Meg and Teresa

Thirty-Sixth
By Shoshana

February 23, 2000

I hear the key turn in my deadbolt and know it's Mulder.
And how appropriate that he's here on the morning of my
thirty-sixth birthday. He's probably trying to make amends
for missing it last year.

Of course, he did try to make it up to me later in the
year, by teaching me the finer points of baseball. But, as
I begin my first year on this side of thirty-five, I have
to admit I'd rather not be reminded of the inevitable
passage of time.

Mulder doesn't announce himself immediately. Instead, he
hovers in my bedroom doorway, perhaps thinking better of
waking me so early in the day. I know it's still early, I
peeked at my clock just a minute ago.

But I'm playing possum. Maybe he'll just go away if I
show no signs of alert behavior. Maybe I'll get another
hour of sleep before I have to get up and shower for work.
Or maybe I'm in for the surprise of my life.

He finally abandons his vigil at my door and steps around
to my side of the bed. He gently runs his fingers down the
side of my cheek, and I lose any incipient anger I was
choking back.

"Scully? Time to wake up, Scully," he says softly, as he
kneels beside the bed. "Time for your birthday."

Oh, no. I really am in for a riotous day. I can hardly
wait.

"I'm still too tired to get up yet," I moan. Don't want
him to get the idea I'm too eager about this, after all.

"Oh come on, Scully. Open up those baby blues. We have a
schedule to adhere to. I'll go wait for you in the living
room while you put on your sweats and tennies, okay?" he
says encouragingly.

I open my eyes and glare at him menacingly, "You are
possessed by the devil, Mulder. It's only five o'clock!"

"The early bird catches their present, Scully. So shake
both legs and get dressed. Please? For me?"

He plays with the sleeve of my pajama top the entire time
he's pleading with me, and I can't help but crack a smile.

"Okay. But this better be good," I threaten, pushing him
toward the door as I rise from underneath my covers.

He obeys me willingly, and I run to the bathroom first,
brushing my teeth, washing my face and forgoing any makeup
or other niceties. If he's asked me to don sweats, then
there has to be some physically active trial ahead for me.
No use preening for Mulder, especially if I'm in for a
workout.

I finish in no time at all and emerge from my room to find
Mulder scanning the early morning news shows.

"Hey Scully, look at this. A woman killed her husband,
froze him in a meat locker, and sliced off all his limbs,"
he says, excitedly.

"Mulder, that's been in the news for weeks. Everyone at
every morgue I've been to recently has mentioned it in
passing. You'll have to do better than that for a
sensational news story today," I tease.

"Damn, I can't compete with the forensic grapevine, can I?"

"No, I guess not. Come on, Mulder. We have a meeting at
nine, and I'd like to get back to shower."

We leave in his car and drive for ten minutes with very
little conversation. Mulder has provided me with
Starbucks' finest blend and I sip on it contentedly. He is
well aware of my coffee addiction and has been considerate
enough to feed it. And, after all, it is my birthday...

He pulls into a strip mall and parks in front of a
business. I almost drop my coffee cup in response. No,
not this. Not this early in the morning.

"You really expect me to do that now, Mulder?" I question.

"Yup," he responds.

I sigh, shake my head, and steel my mind for what my body
must endure.

We lock up the car, and he pulls out a key to the store.
Mulder sees my unblinking stare and says, "The owner is a
friend. He's letting me use the place for an hour or so."

"Oh. Friends in high places," I say, making a weak
attempt at a joke.

"Ha, ha, Scully. That was lame." He soon corrects
himself, "But since this is *your* birthday, it's
hysterically funny to me."

"Watch it, Mulder. You haven't redeemed yourself yet.
Especially, if this is my whole gift," I say warily.

"Breakfast is included," he says, winking at me as he
opens the door to the shop.

We take off our coats, laying them on a bench, then walk
back into the larger area behind the lobby.

"You know, I haven't done anything like this since I
trained for the Academy, Mulder. I'm not even sure if I
can," I say uncertainly.

"Just like riding a bike, Scully. And if it makes you
feel any better, it's been years for me, too."

I realize the subtext of our conversation and fight the
warmth I feel spreading across my cheeks. Jeez, Mulder.
Take any innocent physical activity and make it into a
dirty joke.

However, I don't think his mind is functioning on the same
wavelength as mine. His tone was serious, not playful when
he spoke, and I don't think he intended any double meanings
to his remarks.

He smiles at me, no leer in his facial expression, and
offers me his hand.

"No, no. I think I can boost myself up. No need to baby
me, Mulder," I say firmly.

He lowers his hand, a look of extreme amusement plastered
on his face. I know he's trying to think of just the right
comeback.

Grinning, he says "I'd never try to coddle, you, Scully."

He turns toward the apparatus, and I swear I hear him say
under his breath, "Maybe cuddle, but never coddle."

"Hmmm, what was that?" I say suspiciously.

"Nothing, Scully. Get your butt over here. We're wasting
precious time."

He climbs up on the equipment and scrambles around till he
is standing upright. I join him, knowing that it will be a
lot easier to get on before he starts.

"Ready?" he inquires, mischief in his eyes.

"As ready as I'll ever be," I return, trying to be a good
sport.

He starts first, with some difficulty. I know this must
be hell on his knees, and he is suppressing any groans for
my benefit.

I follow his lead, and I'm actually enjoying myself from
the very beginning. It's something I used to do with my
brothers on the weekend, whenever we lived near a decent
gymnasium.

Once we get a good rhythm going, the sensation is
delightful, almost like flying. We link hands
occasionally, breathlessly holding on, striving to maintain
balance.

I try a few tricks my brothers used to do, rather
unsuccessfully. Oh well, this is just for fun anyway. I
think Mulder found the best present for a woman feeling her
mortality all too keenly.

I finally tumble down, out of breath, wishing I could do
more, knowing I can't. Mulder does likewise, and we end up
side by side on the canvas, facing one another.

We laugh at our obviously labored huffing and puffing.
We're both in relatively good shape, but this wore us out
in a big way.

He smiles at me, and reaches out one hand to hold my own.

"I'm glad to see you so happy on your birthday, Scully,"
he gasps out, still a little winded.

"I'm glad you talked me into this," I say, genuinely.

He peers into my eyes, his own filled with undisguised
emotion.

"I just wanted to see you jump for joy on your birthday,
that's all."

My eyes, my heart, are beaming now. With the gawky
gracelessness of the teenager who never excelled at
gymnastics, I crawl over to his side of the trampoline and
embrace him.

He welcomes me to his arms, scattering sweet kisses on my
brow.

"Thank you, Mulder. Thanks for knowing just what I wanted
for my birthday," I whisper against his shirt.

"Thanks for letting me spend it with you," he murmurs.

I raise my head and graze my thumb over his lips, touching
them slowly.

"I wouldn't want it any other way," I admit.

He touches my lips in the same subtle manner, then says,
"You don't think this is the only thing I planned to give
for your birthday, do you?"

My eyes are twinkling with mirth when I say, "There's more?"

"With your permission..." he says tentatively.

I check my watch with an exaggerated gesture, then drop my
hand to his shoulder, massaging it lightly.

"The gym doesn't open until eight, Mulder. It's 6:45 now."

"I think we can work within that time frame," he responds.

His graceful hands frame my face, his lips close in on
mine, and my thirty-sixth birthday doesn't seem so bad at
all.

fin

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