Title : Sand in my shoes

Author : Valérie (Poormulder)

Written for the June Mulder's Refuge Contest : All at sea (third place)

Rating : PG13

Category : MSR, M/O (well, sort of... )Old flame. Nothing serious. Mild MT.

Spoilers : Closure

Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in complete harmony.
Mahatma Gandhi

Title; comes from a song by Dido.


"I am going to take some time off."

Scully raised her eyebrows and looked thoughtfully
at her partner. It wasn't unexpected after
the harrowing events of the last few days, but she had
never considered that Mulder would actually take a
vacation. He seemed to be fine; at some kind of peace after the
discovery of Samantha's destiny. He had said
that finally he was free.

"Where are you going, Mulder?"

"Don't know yet, Scully. But I need sometime
by myself to gather my thoughts."

Scully looked at him and saw sadness in his
eyes that nearly broke her heart. She wanted to take
him into her arms and wrap him in a fierce hug, but she knew
that he needed some privacy and she respected his
solitary needs.

"Perhaps I'll go to my mother's summer beach
house. It's a place where I have fond memories
of happier times with my sister. I need to..."

"I understand, Mulder. Take whatever time you need.
But Mulder... call me if you want to speak to

"I will. Thank you Scully." He squeezed her hand in gratitude.

She reluctantly let him go, her eyes sad, following his back as he exited their office, shoulders slumped like he bore all the burden's of the world.


While driving to his apartment, the weight of his sorrow liquidized all down his face, seemingly of their own volition but then angrily tried to halt their flow behind his eyelids. No. He was going to be strong, and attempt to enjoy his time off. He wanted no more than find the strength to move on with his life now and perhaps find the strength to reveal his true heartfelt feelings to his soul mate.

He packed hastily and dumped everything in his car, driving slowly
to the Vineyard. When he arrived, the sun was a glowing crimson globe above the ocean. The recumbent heat of it felt good on his face.

The ozone hit him first, salty and wet, familiar as an old memory and evoked them with each deep breath as he exited his car. He took his bag from the trunk and went inside the house, unable now to stop the assault of ghosts from the past. Banter between brother and sister, a childish laugh. *Catch me if you can Fox* And he smiled at the intrusion that fluttered in his heart.

A fine sheet of dust covered all the plastic covered furnishings so he quickly opened the windows to let some fresh air enter the lonely atmosphere of the house. Motes flying around his head as the breeze wafted through. He breathed deeply, inhaling the salty breeze and began to uncover pieces of furniture.
He wanted to feel at home here.

He loved this place. He loved the way the ocean moved like a living entity, both calm and sometimes turbulent...but ever cleansing, always constant. And he loved the splendid view and the peacefulness. The space to hear his own mind, count his heartbeats.

He grabbed his running shorts and went for a run on the beach.

He ran a long time, barefoot, enjoying the quietness and the solitude, the comforting familiarity of still warm sand between his toes. After a few miles, breathless, he stopped, bent over, hands on knees. The sun had disappeared. Sweat was running down his chest and the wetness made him shiver. He took great gulps of ozone damp air; the frantic thump of his heart not an unpleasant sensation. He'd hit that almost addictive pleasure wall all runners strived for, more invigorating here because of the sea air.

It was dark when he returned to the house, his stomach pleading for nourishment after the exertion and meager self-rationing of late. He decided on a quick blood sugar fix of soup and canned peaches. Next the shower beckoned and he let the warm water gush over his punished body, unknotting his tired muscles, washing away the tangy sea mingled sweat, not just a physical cleansing but a symbolic one too.

He let the memories have lease again as he stood under the torrent. His mind deftly filtering out all but the good, the heartwarming and those that turned his lips up in a half smile. Spent physically and emotionally, he draped himself in a large towel and went to the bedroom, flopping down on the bedspread letting the sleep come, trying to convince himself that the moisture still clinging to his eyelids and lashes was from the shower. The last thing he registered before sleep claimed him was the nagging little fist where his heart normally was.


The sun was high in the sky when he awoke. Yawning, he relaxed spread-eagled onto the bed, slowly processing where he was as the sunrays bathed his stubbled face with warmth. He could hear the seagulls from the open window, closing his eyes he smiled. He was at peace here, feeling whole for the first time in his entire life, not damaged, almost happy, despite the mini catharsis of last night. He dragged himself off the bed, grabbed some casual clothes and took a quick shower, then went to the small town mall to buy groceries. While he was choosing some exotic fruit, a tall lean woman, with dark flowing long hair and the most exquisite green eyes he had ever seen, stared back at him, stunned.

"Hi. Fox Mulder, do you remember me?" Momentarily stumped, he leafed through the neatly ordered inventory that was his memory until he hit pay dirt.

"Of course I remember you, err Sasha isn't it? How are you?
It's had been a while." He unfurled one hand from his shopping basket to clasp the one she offered, giving her a polite smile.

"Well, fine actually. I'm divorced now, two kids. I'm back working here,
I have an art gallery. And you?" She smiled broadly at some notion, her head cocked to one side, thinking, "I see you as an architect, or a writer."

"No, I'm working with the FBI. No kids, no wife." He smiled almost apologetically, a kernel of sadness passing through his chest.

"Great job?"

"Yeah, great job."

She studied him for a long time, taking his handsome face, his full lips, his broad shoulders, his long and well defined hands and those eyes, clear hazel eyes she remembered from the past; a strange blend of little boy lost and breathtaking warmth.

He smiled uncertainly, a little uncomfortable at her scrutiny. Her eyes were the wrong color...

"It's nice to see you again, Fox. You look great. So, are you on vacation here?"

"Yeah, kind of. My mother died few weeks ago, so I came here to spend sometime on my own, to find some peace."

"I'm so sorry, Fox." He felt her fingers brush his own in sympathy. "Are you all right?"

"Yes, I'm fine. Thanks. You look great too, Sasha. It's been
good to see you again." *You are fine*

He had fond memories of her. They'd had a pretty steamy affair long time ago-- a life ago, during a lazy summer after he came back from Oxford. He remembered laughter and sweaty sex on the beach, sand clinging to satiated bodies, good times, a genuine oasis of pleasure in an unforgiving desert of his youth, and so unlike the emotional turmoil he'd suffered at the hands of Phoebe.

They stared at each other a while, lost in their memories.

"Well, I have to go, Fox. Family business. Maybe we could have dinner one evening. My kids are going to be on vacation with their father tomorrow. I will call you."

A smile lingered at the edge of his lips but he didn't say anything.

She leaned over and kissed him lightly on his cheek, smiling as she swiveled her grocery cart in the other direction.


She called him the next day. He wasn't surprised, but slightly bemused that a woman from his past wanted to see him again, like he was a real person, Not an irrevocably damaged man haunted by guilt. The feeling warmed his heart.

The seafood restaurant was beautiful, positioned at a scenic vantage point on the beachfront and adorned with netting shells, candles and fragrant flowers that blended with sea air perfectly. They spoke about nothing and everything, and Sasha was delighted to see him laugh at her jokes, smiling gently when she reminisced about her failed marriage, watched his eyes cloud over with sadness him sadden when he spoke about his sister, his mother and a thousand other soul crushing hurts that were all the louder for not being spoken but she saw captive in the depths of his beautiful eyes. She saw his vulnerability behind his witty comments, his brilliant personality, and his boyish charm. She wanted nothing more than to take him in her arms.

After the dinner, they drifted down on the beach and walked along the ocean, enjoying the waves lapping near their feet. The fresh evening breeze made her shiver and in a gallant gesture, he took his leather jacket and draped it over her shoulders. He looked down at her hands as she grabbed them, pulling him close to her body, and raised his eyes to hers seeing her desire, wanting desperately to kiss his sensual lips. As she parted hers, he smiled gently. Bright emeralds from the past eclipsed with sapphire that held his heart captive today.

"Don't Sasha. I'm sorry if I give you the impression that I want to start something again with you, but I'm in love with somebody else." His smile was here in front of her but she knew she could never possess it, never reclaim the closeness of so many summers ago.

She shrugged, disappointed, but not angry. She felt almost happy for him. He was a good man, he deserved happiness. Whoever held his heart, this tortured, gentle soul was a very lucky woman. He'd be a privilege to love and she had to be grateful to have shared a small part of him back in those early years, when he needed her love, her friendship.

"Sorry if I had ruined the evening." She dropped her hands to her side and absently toed at a shell.

"No, you didn't, Sasha. But believe me, my life is ...complicated, you deserve much more than me. You're a wonderful person, and life will bring you somebody who will love you. Of that I'm sure."

Her smile brightened as he took her in a fierce hug, and she whispered against his warm chest. The sun casting its final silhouette of amber over the friends as they drank in the shore, the sound of surf on sand, the gulls as they cried as if sensing the finality of the moment...and whispers of the past, washed over by a thousand tides. Later she would shake the sand from her pockets like individual memories of what had been.

"Thank you, Fox."


The first thing he couldn't wait to do when he got back to the summer house was call Scully. It was late but his need to hear her sleepy voice was overwhelming. He had missed her more than he could articulate.


"Hi, it's me. Were you awake?"

"Well, I am now. How are you, Mulder?" A rustle of covers as she sat upright sent a pang of longing for her touch, her warmth beside him.

" I'm...fine, Scully. I miss you."

Scully smiled, touched by his words. She had been so worried about him but had respected his need for space. He'd been through more than anyone should have to bear in his life. She could at least give him that.

"I miss you too, Mulder. When are you coming back?"

"Not yet. But I was just wondering... What are you doing this weekend?"

Her smile brightened. He was letting her in again. The tried not to let the relief make her cry. Along with her worry there had been fear. Fear that she'd seen his face for the last time...

"Well, I haven't any plans..."

"Join me, please.. ?"

"You really want that?"

" God...Yeah."

"I will consider your offer... I'm kidding. Friday
night ok?" He gasped down the phone and she could imagine his shock turning into a huge goofy grin. She needed to be with him too.

"I will waiting for you. Night, Scully."

A goofy grin appeared on his face when he disconnected the phone.


He spent the next few days running along the water's edge at dawn, his heart feeling alive and strong for the first time in as long as he could remember, feeling more and more confident. He was going to finally tell Scully his love for her. Now that his search was over, he felt that something has to change. A sea change.. his time here was cleansing his soul as well as the lofty shores of the Vineyard. Several long years of denial were enough. It was time to open his heart and let his feelings pour out, like he had been denied a key all this time and now he'd found it.

The realization had hit him like a train during the dinner with Sasha. Scully had captured his heart and his soul, and no matter what she was going to tell him, that maybe it was a bad idea, that it might come between them or their work...or whatever obstacle she could think of, he was going to reveal his feelings. He was getting butterflies about it already.

On Friday morning, he bought some good white wine and Scully's favorite Italian dish from the local delicatessen, then spent the few hours before her arrival on the beach, when the sun was high in the sky. He shed his tee shirt and lay back in the dunes, letting the day's heat dry his sweat-soaked chest. Later he would have a swim maybe. For now, he tried to picture Scully and find faces in the wispy cape clouds. Soon he fell asleep to the cry of gulls swooping overhead.

The sea was quite cold, but he enjoyed the swim, it was invigorating after lying in the baking heat, it left him tingling, alive and healthy. At 4, he came back to his mother's house to set the dinner. He wanted to be a perfect Host and was feeling nervous now as time passed by. It all had to be perfect. She would be here soon. *Get a grip Mulder*. By 5pm he was feeling a bit dizzy, a odd feeling in his heart like something tickling inside which he dismissed as nerves. That was until he had to flee to the bathroom and a sudden wave of nausea hit him like a ship anchor. He retched over the sink, and vomited his earlier meal. Angrily, he swiped at his mouth with a tissue. God no! It couldn't be! This was his great day today. The most important day in the rest of his life. He wanted anything but be sick. He wracked his throbbing brain for what could have caused this disastrous outcome.

A 5.30, he staggered back to the bedroom on wobbly legs, and then collapsed on the bed, shuddering with pain and fever. The fierce late afternoon sun beat mockingly at him through the open window as he wrapped himself with the bed comforter and let himself slip gratefully into unconsciousness


At 6pm, Scully was standing in front of Mulder's house. She knocked at the heavy wood door, it appeared to be unlocked so she entered, tentatively looking for trouble. It was too quiet. Candles and flowers were on the table, and a delicious smell came from the kitchen. Smiling, she dropped her bags and called her partner. The only thing missing from this beautiful setting. The most beautiful man, her heart reiterated.

"Mulder? Where are you?"

A weak voice answered her.

"Bedroom, Scully."

She raised her eyebrows. That didn't sound good. She felt for the reassuring weight of her weapon, just in case. The distress in his voice raising her wariness.

"Sick ..."

"Are you decent, Mulder? I am coming in."

As she poked her head around the door, she saw him sprawled in a miserable heap on the bed in a tangle of sheets, his face and bare chest covered by fine layer of sweat. She approached him in full doctor mode now, automatically placing her hand against his forehead. His eyes looked sunken, his skin looked burnished, even for his normal complexion and she didn't like the way his chest was heaving and his pulse bounced against her fingers when she placed them under his jaw.

"God, Mulder, you are burning up!"

"Sorry, Scully... Think I'm going to be sick..." Hi legs flew out from beneath the morass of drenched sheets.

She helped him make it to the bathroom just getting there before he retched violently again, she remained behind him, holding him and comforted him, rubbing his back and applying cold wet flannels to his face and neck.

The retching stopped but he knelt unable to make his body move, panting.

"I have ruined the evening, Scully... "

"Too much sunbathing, Mulder?" His skin was burning her fingers and practically glowed.

"I wanted to be tanned and healthy for you, Scully... God, I hate me..."

"Don't, Mulder. Don't blame yourself."

"I do, Scully. Really, look at me... I'm truly pathetic. I remember now. I fell asleep in the dunes."

"How long for?"

" of hours maybe. I felt okay after a swim. a while ago...then puke city." he wailed miserably, the porcelain bowl he was hanging his head\ over distorting his voice.

" No sunscreen?"

"Er forgot...I'm such an ass."

"Oh Mulder."

"Sorry..I'm so sorry. I screwed it all up."

"Okay crispy critter...never mind that now,...right now you need rest and fluid replacement."

He had a last dry heave and stood up, shakily, apology leeching out of every red raw pore. He did look truly awful and her heart went out to him. Despite the lecture she felt like giving him, how could she be mad with those puppy dog eyes? Scully's face was tender hearted. He did look pathetic and sick. She looked at his lobster colored chest and face and hoped to God he'd suffer no lasting more serious effects from his oversight in the sun. She tried not to touch his sore places as she helped him out of the bathroom.

"Come on, Mulder. Come back to bed. I'm going to give you some water. You are pretty dehydrated and than can be dangerous. I'll hunt out some after sun lotion too. Try to minimize the damage."

She helped him into the room and he laid very gingerley on the bed. She was going to the kitchen when he stopped her, with a pleading voice.


"Yes, Mulder?"

"I'm in love with you. I wanted to say it over candles and a glass of great wine, but my foolishness had ruined everything. I'm so sorry, Scully. I love you so much..." Scully gasped, his revelation stopping her in her tracks.

"Nevermind the candle and the wine, Mulder, say it again. I need to hear it..hear you say it."

"Love you, love you, love you..." he whispered. He felt nauseous and grossly uncomfortable but beamed like a lighthouse when she found herself back by his bedside.

She stroked his thick sweat drenched hair, and carefully pressed her lips against his parched mouth. She saw so much love in his river-clear hazel eyes that it brought tears into hers. Their hearts soared like twin albatrosses against the freedom of the wind.

"I love you too, Mulder. I've waited a long time to hear those words. I hoped...but I just didn't know if you felt the same."

"I've always known... But I had to make peace with say the words. I was such a coward." She let a single finger run over his stubbled cheek, returning the love she found in his eyes with her own. They were as blue as the summer sea and twice as potent.

" Mulder, that's something you have never been. I love you too."

A bright smile appeared on his handsome features, sickness all but forgotten as he patted the bed near him when she returned with her medical bag and some water.

Soon they were both asleep, bathed in the fading Vineyard light and soft breezes through window.


Saturday and Sunday were quiet, full of smiles, memories and sweet words, as Mulder recovered from his bout of isolation, not to mention sunstroke, and contemplated their future together. His heart felt lighter than it ever had, giddy with love and the knowledge that she shared his feelings but he was to weak to make love to her, just simply her presence by his side was enough to make him happy. They had all the time in the world to explore more exciting realms and layers of their burgeoning relationship.

They spooned together into the large bed, Scully careful to avoid touching the more still tender areas of his chest and talked for hours, remembering every moment of their life together, making promises and commitments. Mulder wore his heart in his sleeve always, and she promised to be more open with him, more tactile and. How could she hold back a single thing from this wonderful man who meant more to her than life itself. She buried her face against the pulse in his neck breathing him in. he smelled like the ocean, sweat and that faintly perfumed fragrance of after sun milk with cocoa butter. It was intoxication, he was intoxicating and she thanked god over and over for such a gift of his heart, pulsing beneath her tiny hands like the raw rumble of the ocean. Their truth was here. And she felt his hand close over hers as if he had read her mind.

*You really can go home... *

He soon recovered with her tender and loving TLC. They came for a last walk on the beach on Monday morning, as the sun set over the bay like orange and indigo curtains after a virtuoso concert. Hand in hand, they gazed out at the ocean, happy and confident. Full of hope for the future, no matter what that proposed to throw at them. They were always stronger together. The perspective of their live was so much broader now, laced with uncertainties but also great joy.
Life was so great now that they were together. This weekend was a welcome port in storm of their dangerous life, a moment of peacefulness they'd remember for a long time. He was happy and their happy tears commingled like their hands, on the sand at their feet and the tide came in to wash them away.

Mischievously, Mulder tried to tumble his lover onto the fresh sand to catch a last kiss and they laughed in the moonlight-drenched shore. And laughed again as the vibrant sea grass tickled their ankles and whatever skin within reach.

"Mulder..I don't wanna wrestle." He planed a kiss on the top of her nose. She was all flowers and salt. Tasted good, like sun-warmed honey. He didn't want to stop, ever.

"I do but I will trade for more kisses. I love you. " She looked like Neptune's daughter with sand and shells clinging to her hair like alabaster petals.

The wind snatched her giggles away like grains of sand. A quick tug and he was down beside her, then on top of her. *And Ahab said, here's to your dream.*

"Mulder I love you too," She pressed her lips firmly over his, tasting him, and rolled onto her back while he grinned over her. " But now I have sand in my shoes!"