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A Vacation of Sorts 

Chapter Seven

Sam booted up her laptop and set up the live video feed to the SGC. A few minutes later General Hammond appeared on the screen. Standing behind the computer she adjusted the camera while the others crowded around the monitor. "How’s the view, sir?"

"I can only see Colonel O’Neill and Doctor Jackson."

Daniel gestured to Annika and she sat between his legs. Sam remained standing at the colonel’s side awkwardly leaning in.

Nodding to the now visible women he got straight to the point. "Colonel, what’s your status?"

"Well sir, we’ve caught some sun, met some of the locals, Annika performed a…what was that word, Carter?…libidinous dance…"

The general prayed for patience. "So your cover is intact?"

"Yes, sir." Jack pulled the already off-balanced major onto his lap. "Everyone believes we’re two couples enjoying the sights."

For a moment Sam sat rigidly on his knees then relaxed.

"Is that really necessary, Colonel?" The general’s eyes narrowed at the intimate pose.

"Yes, sir. Solves the visibility problem, satisfies OHS guidelines, but most importantly," Jack continued flippantly. "First rule of undercover work, maintain your cover at all times."

Hammond studied the expression of the man who had become like a brother to him. After working with him for seven years he knew how to read between the smartass comments. The colonel was asking… actually it was more defiantly telling…the general to turn a blind eye to whatever was going to happen between him and the major once the lights went out. He glanced at Sam. She seemed to be holding her breath for his reply. As their friend he wanted to say go for it. As their commanding officer he was obliged to uphold the non-fraternization regulation… However…it was an unofficial mission…and since technically it was the general’s cover story that had landed his officers in this unique position…and he knew damn well that out of all the SGC personnel, these two wouldn’t let their involvement affect their work. Hell, it was the worst kept secret on base that the zatarc incident three years ago had revealed their love for each other and it hadn’t affected their judgment (well, not too much)… and as long as neither one ever spoke of it…

"Understood. You never know who may be watching."

Both thanked him silently with their eyes and the colonel’s hand squeezed Sam’s.

Hammond returned to business. "How goes your search for the Goa’uld?"

"Well, we know that the identikit pictures they’re circling now mean diddly squat."

Daniel jumped in. "He’s switched hosts. We’ve got no idea what he now looks like."

Sam quickly briefed her superior about meeting up with Annika’s friends, and how Clarisse's call in to work revealed the Goa'uld had changed hosts.

Daniel felt a trickle of pensiveness through their bond which he also sensed Annika was reluctant to share. With this being her first 'real' mission he was concerned she didn't want to interrupt to clarify whatever was confusing her. "What has you worried?" he asked softly.

Her eyes widened for a second in surprise, then she gave a sheepish grin as she felt a gentle tug on their bond. "Not 'worried' as such. It's just this suspect Clarisse is autopsying...for him to die of a common cold it means his immune system is screwed. It's my understanding that it's only Jaffa who lose their immune system when they're implanted with a prim'ta, not a host."

"Actually it's both but in different ways." Sam, who had the clearest memories of being a host and had communicated coherently with Jolinar, began the explanation. "In a host, the symbiote can control every system in the body. One of the first things it does is shut down the immune system, otherwise it would be constantly fighting anti-bodies the body would automatically produce because it senses something foreign." She paused thinking through what she'd said. "Actually it's more like a bypass, the symbiote takes over as the immune system. When it leaves a host, the immune system without the bypass turns back on, but it takes time for it to become fully functioning. A symbiote does have the ability to release a kind of...super strength antibiotic, for lack of a better description, to get the host through the vulnerable stage, which is what Jolinar did for me before she died."

Despite himself, Jack had found himself listening intently to the explanation. He tilted his head curiously. "Is that what Conan the Tok'ra barbarian did to me too?"

"I'd like to think so," Sam replied slowly. She wished that their experiences as hosts weren't so diametrically different from each other. Hers had led to trust and a certain understanding of the Tok'ra, where as Jack's had only made him distrust them more. In the interest of not stirring up bad memories of that time for Jack, she kept to herself her theory it had been the first use of the sarcophagus that had restored his immune system. She brought the conversation back on track. "Or the symbiote can release a toxin to kill the host, which is what a Goa'uld would typically do since it cares nothing for the body it's leaving and wouldn't want the host to live to reveal any of its secrets."

"Often the Goa'uld does not take the time to do either," Teal'c added. "Typically the reason for switching hosts is because the host has been mortally wounded."

"Anyway," Sam continued. "In Jaffa the prim'ta doesn't have the maturity nor the access to the brain to fight anything as complex as the immune system, hence why Jaffa immune systems were engineered to fail at puberty, forcing them to take on a prim'ta if they want to live. The only power the prim’ta have is to regenerate the body."

Annika gave a nod of understanding, flashing her team a grateful smile for taking the time to clear up her 'newbie' question.

Jack resumed the update to Hammond. "There are also a couple of Feds sniffing around for the snakehead." He launched into their run ins with the two FBI agents.

"Quite a coincidence," Hammond frowned.

"I agree, sir."

"Do you think these agents orchestrated meeting you?"

Annika heard the suspicion in the general’s tone and hesitantly spoke up. "Ah…sir, it’s not a coincidence but they didn’t plan it." She explained what she could of her vague visions.

"I’m trying to make a threat assessment. Can you be more specific?"

She looked at him helplessly. "All I know for sure is that even if we don’t bring them into the loop, they will find out on their own. They are going to be right by our side when this mission ends."

"Have your visions given you any idea when or where that might be?"

"Only that it’ll be off-world, sir."

"Colonel, your thoughts?"

"Annika hasn’t steered us wrong yet," he began slowly, considering the options. "If these FBI agents are going to be involved anyway, I’d rather we control how they learn about the snakeheads. You might want to email us a copy of our friendly confidentiality agreement."

"It’s already on your database. I’ll leave it up to your judgment as to when to fill Agents Mulder and Scully in."

Jack nodded and moved on. "So do we know from under which rock this snakehead slithered from yet?"

"Yes." Hammond glanced down at a report off screen. "We’ve backtracked a trail of bodies to a recently retired museum curator. The man was found dead at Heathrow airport five weeks ago. The medical certificate lists cause of death as cardiac arrest, however the autopsy photos clearly show a Goa’uld entry point at the base of his neck. When the police went to his house to notify next of kin, they found the rest of his family murdered. Further investigation revealed a hidden room with a number of artifacts that had been reported stolen or lost dating as far back as 1960. Seems he had a lucrative side business in the black market. The house had been ransacked. Among the debris was a smashed Canopic jar. The Prime Minister has given us full access and Teal’c is translating the script as we speak."

"Do you have pictures of the jar?" Daniel leant forward eagerly. "The design may hold some clues."

"I’m sending you copies now." The general tapped at the keyboard and a few seconds later the encrypted file containing the photos pinged their arrival in Sam’s email inbox.

"Do we know where the jar was found on Earth?" Sam asked as they waited for the photos to download.

"No. According to the original theft report from 1963, a set of two jars and an elaborate jeweled bracelet were donated from a private collection and were stolen en route to the museum. We know the Goa’uld took the ribbon device but there was no sign of the second jar ever being at the house. The blood splatter from the crime scene photos tells us that the curator’s family was tortured before the ransacking, leading us to the conclusion that the Goa’uld wasn’t able to extract the location of the jar from them. We’re assuming the curator sold it."

"But doesn’t the Goa’uld gain all the knowledge of the host?" Annika asked confused. "Wouldn’t he have known straight away where it would be?"

Sam shook her head. "If the host was strong willed it could take a while for the symbiote to gain full access to his mind. From the sound of it he didn’t want to wait."

"I don’t suppose the crook kept records of who his buyers were?" Jack was hopeful.

Hammond shook his head. "Not that we’ve found. The police did find some old address books. We’re cross checking the names now but if he managed to keep his thefts under the radar for over forty years I doubt he was stupid enough to leave that sort of evidence around."

"What about his relatives? Did he have any brothers or sisters?"

"Why is that important, Doctor Jackson?" The general was puzzled. Sometimes he couldn’t fathom the young man’s thought process.

"This curator kept the Canopic jar and ribbon device for decades, when he could have received a fortune for them. They meant something to him." Daniel absently pushed his glasses up. "Stands to reason that if he kept one, he kept the other so as not to separate the set. Perhaps another family member has it."

"We’ll look into it." The general motioned for an unseen person to start the search.

"We’ve seen this type of jar before." Daniel was now studying the print out. He held it out for the others to see. "It’s almost an exact replica of the stasis jar Osiris was kept in." He looked up at the general. "Have you been able to run tests on the lining?"

"The jar itself hasn’t arrived yet but Teal’c agrees with you." Hammond beckoned to someone off screen. A moment later their teammate appeared.

"Hey, T, how’s Ry’ac?"

"He is in good health, O’Neill." The Jaffa bent his head in greeting. "I have finished the translation."

"What does it say?" Daniel leant closer to the screen in anticipation.

"Retribution for the corruption of the Beloved of Ra is the eternal sleep. He who awakens the Punished shall face the wrath of the one true God Ra."

"Does it say who was punished?"

"There’s only this, Daniel Jackson." Teal’c held up a photo displaying two slivers of shale that fit together forming a circle. There was a full frontal image of a naked, stunted man with bowlegs, raggedy beard and his tongue hanging out. "It was found with the jar. I believe it was attached to the seal as a method of cataloguing the imprisoned."

"Ugly little fella," Jack commented as the general sent a copy of the photo to them.

The archaeologist’s eye lit up with recognition. "It’s Bes."

"Bes who?" Annika knew very little about Egyptian mythology.

"Gesundheit." Jack’s automatic quip made them all smile.

"Just ‘Bes’. He was first known as ‘Aha’ meaning fighter because of his ferocity as a warrior and stood alongside Ra." Daniel was in full lecture mode. "Later he was renamed Bes and became a popular household god for the common people. There are no known temples dedicated to him but people engraved everyday items such as chairs, beds and mirrors with his image. With the name change, Bes became known as the god of music and dance, and the protector of women and children. Women tattooed his image on their body to ward off sickness, especially venereal disease, although now knowing he was a Goa’uld it’s more likely they were brands rather than decorative tattoos."

"That description sounds eerily familiar," Sam frowned.

"It does?" Jack’s eyes had begun to glaze over as they always did whenever Daniel launched into a history lesson.

"Yes, sir. He sounds like the male counterpart of Hathor."

"So the Queen of sex, drugs and rock’n’roll had a King?"

Daniel’s lips twitched. "Apparently. In Egyptian art only two gods were not depicted in profile. One was Hathor, the other was Bes."

"Doctor Jackson, you said he was a supporter of Ra?"

Daniel nodded at the general’s question. "Yes. Mythology states he helped Ra defeat his serpent enemies, was known to kill ‘snakes’ with his bare hands."

"Apophis?" Jack quirked an eyebrow. "Teal’c, have you heard of him?"

"Indeed I have," the Jaffa replied. "Legend has it he ripped the hearts out of his enemies. Apophis lost many Jaffa to Bes."

"If he was an ally, then why did Ra imprison him?" Hammond wanted to know.

"Hello? He was a Goa’uld!" Jack butted in. "Loyalty is not in their resumes."

The general shot the colonel a disapproving look, but Daniel became thoughtful.

"Maybe in this case it is…" He repeated the jar’s inscription. "Retribution for the corruption of the Beloved of Ra…Hathor was both daughter and wife to Ra. Remember Hathor was sent by Ra to wipe out mankind but when she got here she refused to go through with it and turned against him, which is why Ra locked her in the sarcophagus. We never found out why she changed her mind. Ra must have believed Bes was the cause of Hathor’s mutiny and in retribution sealed him up for all eternity."

Jack smirked, "Hell hath no fury like a Goa’uld scorned." He studied the printout of the broken seal. "So what did Bes have that Ra didn’t?"

"Definitely not looks," Annika grimaced at the stylized portrait. "Although he does seem remarkably well endowed."

"Size isn’t everything," Sam murmured with a grin.

The general let the comment slide. "Doctor Jackson?"

"From his description he was not a typical ‘God’. In fact he wasn’t Egyptian at all. History says he was an ‘import’ but is vague on his exact origins. No temples for worship, no priests demanding sacrifices. He was known as the dwarf god and grotesque in appearance, so he had none of the vanity we associate with the Goa’uld."

"Hathor was the one with the freaky breath?" Annika wanted to make sure she had the correct ‘power’ with the right Goa’uld before continuing.

They all nodded.

"That’s not a typical Goa’uld weapon, is it?"

Sam picked up on her train of thought. "You’re suggesting Bes gave her that ability?"

"It is a pretty nifty trick," Jack agreed. "It would also explain how he got these women to go willingly."

The general looked up at someone off screen. "Come in, Doctor Fraiser."

"Sir, I was rereading the autopsy reports of the women and found something that may help SG-1 narrow down their search."

"The floor’s all yours, Doctor." Hammond shuffled over to make room in front of the screen.

"Hey, Doc." Jack waved. "Whatcha’ got?"

"On two of the victims there were pieces of rock embedded into their feet post mortem, probably from transporting the bodies." She held a close up photo to the screen. "The analysis of the rock identifies it as volcanic, specifically alkali rhyolite."

"But this whole area is volcanic," Annika interrupted.

"It is?" Jack was surprised. "I don’t remember seeing any plumes of smoke."

"You wouldn’t, they’re extinct. The Dakibomon are a great tourist attraction around here. We can see them from here."

"Ducky-bomb-bomb?" The colonel moved to the window.

Annika followed and pointed to a series of mountains on the horizon. "Dakibomon is what the local Aboriginals call the Glass House Mountains. It means ‘stone standing up’. They’re actually the eroded cores of central volcanoes from the Cenozoic age, which was about twenty-five million years ago."

Daniel’s eyes widen at Annika’s little history lesson. "I’m impressed."

She shrugged. "Well, I did live here for a while, I picked up a few things."

Jack was looking at the immense distance between the mountain group and then called back to the computer. "Sorry to burst your bubble, Doc, but it doesn’t really narrow down our search pattern."

"How about this?" the doctor continued. "The volcanoes have different components. Only two are made up of the coarser rhyolite found on the victims." She glanced down at the report in her hand. "Mount Ngun Ngun and Mount Tibrogargan."

"Which ones are Gun Gun and Toboggan?"

Annika identified one of the larger peaks. "The one that looks like a gorilla and the smaller one next to it."

"I take it all back, Doc," Jack apologized sitting back down. "It does help."

Daniel tilted his head back trying to jog his memory. "I may be able to narrow it down even further." He started riffling through the newspapers he’d bought earlier.

As they were waiting for Daniel to find what he was looking for, the general was handed another report and he quickly scanned the contents. "It seems Doctor Jackson’s hunch was spot on. We’ve just located a twin brother to the curator. Two years ago he bought a house in Mooloolaba, Australia. I’ll send through the details."

"Here." Daniel held out a page from a local paper. It was an article with a caricature of the gorilla mountain holding a flashlight. "It seems over the past few weeks there have been numerous sightings of unexplained lights at Mount Tibrogargan. Witnesses describe them as straight blue beams of light shooting up and down from the base of the mountain into the sky."

Sam frowned. "That sounds like a ring transporter."

"Bes has a ship for a quick getaway," Jack mused. "That makes things more interesting."

"The Prometheus hasn’t picked up any sign of a ship in Earth’s orbit?" Sam queried.

"No." The general shook his head "But if it’s cloaked, it could be right next to them and they wouldn’t be able to detect it."

"T, don’t the shields have to be lowered to let the rings work?"

"Indeed they do, O’Neill," Teal’c confirmed. "However if Bes is not a typical Goa’uld as Daniel Jackson suggests, then his ship may also be atypical."

"General, perhaps we should keep the Tic Tac the Tok’ra leant us for a few more days," Jack suggested. "We may need it."

Hammond agreed. "What’s your next move, Colonel?"

"Carter and I will pay a visit to the twin brother in the morning and Daniel and Annika are going to have the sudden urge to do a little bush walking around Toboggan. Then we’ll be checking out the abduction points in the evening."

"Very well. The Prometheus is ready to beam down the zats’ whenever you activate the homing beacon." The general was wrapping up the briefing. "Your next report is due in twenty-four hours. Good luck, SG-1."

Hammond disappeared from the screen to be replaced with the SGC logo. Sam disconnected the transmission.

"Okay, people, I suggest we get some shuteye so we’re bright eyed and bushy tailed for our little outings tomorrow." Jack gave a fake yawn. "I don’t know about you guys, but the time difference is finally catching up with me."

Neither Annika nor Daniel missed his sideways glance at Sam.

"Oh, yeah." Annika maintained a straight face. "Jet lag is a real bitch."

"Annika and I are the insomniacs, so how about we go up to the roof top to get the zats’?" Daniel suggested.

"Fine idea." Jack tossed him his watch with the beacon then casually dropped his hand into Sam’s. "Just don’t lock yourselves out. Sam and I are both heavy sleepers."

"Don’t worry," Annika was already heading for the door. "We can always zat the door three times to dematerialize it…or I can astral travel to your room and haunt you until you 'wake up'."

"If you do that, I’ll confiscate the coffee machine," the colonel threatened.

"Come on." Daniel grinned, tugging her from the room. "The stars are beckoning. Good night, Sam, Jack. Sweet dreams."

Arm in arm the couple headed for the elevator. Annika wore a dreamy smile and Daniel felt excitement through their bond.

"You knew tonight was going to happen, didn’t you?"

She nodded. "Right from that first night when Sam and I were playing with the puppies in your yard."

The lift doors opened and they stepped out into the night air.

"I’m happy for them," Daniel said as he scouted the rooftop garden, making sure they were alone. He activated the beacon, placing the watch on the paved floor and stepped out of range. "Even if it can only last a few days."

She remained silent and Daniel sensed an inner conflict within her. "Annika?"

Eventually she answered, "Who said anything about it only lasting a few days?"

"Well, once this mission is over…" His voice trailed off when Annika innocently kept her eyes downcast. "Oh."

"I should have kept my mouth shut, but I can’t keep secrets from you." She bit her lower lip in consternation. "Daniel, you can’t tell anyone that you know, not even Jack and Sam."

"I won’t," he promised her, tightening his embrace. "As far as I’m concerned the non-frat rule is ridiculous, especially considering our jobs. How is anyone expected to have a normal relationship outside the SGC when the civilian other half can’t even ask ‘How was your day’?"

"That could have been us." Annika shivered at the thought.

"I know." His voice was soft and he tenderly brushed her lips. "Thank God it’s not."

The flash of the transporter rings drew them apart. A moment later the watch was covered with a gym bag.

"Those rings are really handy since Thor’s modifications so we don’t need the base ring pads," Daniel noted, checking the contents to make sure all the weapons were accounted for.

Annika grinned. "Yes, he was quite grateful when I promised him I wouldn’t invade his sleep cycle anymore unless it was an emergency." She scanned the surrounding buildings. "I hope no one noticed the beam."

"Me too. It’s the one drawback with the rings." He zipped up the bag. "Let’s get out of here, there’s a bed down there with our names on it."

They quickly headed back to the suite. When they crept passed Jack and Sam’s closed door they heard low murmurs from within. Sharing a smile they crossed the lounge to their own room.

Before the door had shut, Daniel was already reaching for the tie holding Annika’s swimmers in place. "I have been waiting since you put this on to take it off."

Her breath caught when his hands cupped her breasts from behind. "It has been a bit of a frustrating day."

"I’ll say." He kissed the nape of her neck. "I’ve been up and down so many times I feel like a yo-yo."

She leant against him and felt his burgeoning arousal on her lower back. "I’m guessing this is an up moment?"

"Most definitely," Daniel rasped when her hips ground against him. As his hands moved down over her belly he felt a moment of discomfort through their bond. Immediately concerned, he stopped. "My Angel? What’s wrong?"

"It’s nothing." She turned around to face him and started to undo the buttons of his shirt.

Daniel pulled away. "Annika?"

"It’s stupid. Don’t worry about it." She ran her hands over his chest but he remained stock still. Annika felt him tentatively searching their bond and she sighed, realizing he wasn’t going to move until she explained. "I’m all sandy from tackling Scarecrow on the beach. It’s pathetic, I know, but I hate the feeling of sand on my body."

She picked up his hand and rubbed his fingers against her belly. Only then did Daniel realize that there was a slight grittiness to the touch. He gave a sigh of his own, but his was one of relief. "Is that all?"

Annika nodded.

"Well, there’s one way to take care of that problem." Daniel led her in the direction of the bathroom. "Why didn’t you say something before?"

"Because it’s a ridiculous pet hate," she burst out in self-reproach. "You already put up with all of my other eccentricities, I didn’t want to add another one to the list."

"I love every one of your little eccentricities." Daniel nudged her chin up so she would look at him. "They’re what make you, you. I wouldn’t have it any other way." His mouth claimed hers and he reassuringly projected all his love through their bond.

Fire coursed through her body making her gasp. "I don’t know what I’ve done to deserve you, but I thank the Gods every night in my prayers."

Daniel reached into the stall, managing to turn on the shower while still holding her possessively in his embrace. "Any particular gods?"

"Nope," she grinned. "I cover all my bases by making it a ‘to whom it might concern’ type prayer."

Laughing, he backed her under the hot stream. "Now, where were we?" He turned her around so they were in the same position from a few minutes ago and plucked the soap from the holder. Tenderly he started massaging her breasts lathering it against her skin. "I believe I started here."

Annika fumbled with the now soaked knot of her sarong letting out a guttural moan as Daniel teased her nipples into erect peaks.

"And then I moved on to here." His hands traversed her ribcage and peeled the swimmers down the rest of her body. With infinite gentleness that had her squirming with desire, he washed every inch of her, making sure every last grain of sand was removed.

When the final soap bubble disappeared, his mouth retraced the path of his hands. Daniel knelt before her, coaxing her legs apart to reveal her hot center. He gave a blissful sigh, "Now, this was worth waiting for." Eagerly his tongue swirled amongst her folds, tasting her sweetness.

Annika’s nerve endings, already sensitive from Daniel’s continual caress began to tingle as rivulets of water trickled between her legs.

Daniel heard a soft whimper escape her throat and felt her muscles quiver against his lips. Playfully he slowed his pace and Annika moaned in frustration.

"Oh no, none of that, Doctor Jackson." Gripping his head between her fingers she pressed his face against her and began rocking her hips back and forth, setting a quicker rhythm. She felt him smile against her wet folds. A few more licks had her crying out as her orgasm shook her body, while Daniel leisurely lapped up the juices that flowed from within her.

Catching her breath she pulled him to his feet and kissed him beneath the cascading water, enjoying the delicious taste of his lips. Keen to start her own exploration, she yanked his shirt down his shoulders, running fervent fingers over his chest. With their kiss still fuelling her desire, she popped open the buttons on his board shorts and let them fall to the tiles.

"Let me return the favor," she murmured huskily. It was her turn to use the soap as an erotic toy, making Daniel groan at her feather light ministrations. She paid particular attention to the rapidly growing muscle that she so loved. Using the soap as a lubricant she encased her hand around the hot member, rubbing up and down its length, feeling it swell even more. His breathing became haggard but he let her continue her exquisite torture.

Washing away the suds, she ran her nails lightly up the sensitive underside of his shaft. Unable to resist any longer she trailed her tongue up the base of his manhood until she reached the tip. Daniel tensed in anticipation but she toyed with him, only swirling her tongue around the top of his aching rod.

Her hands snaked their way around him to cup his butt. Keeping her head still, she ever so slowly pulled him towards her, finally letting him fill her whole mouth. She pushed his hips back and forth and felt him throb as she took him deeper and deeper down the back of her throat with each thrust.

Just as she sensed he was about to explode, Daniel grasped her under the arms and pulled her up to meet his hungry lips. While his mouth devoured her, his hands clasped the back of her thighs, lifting her slightly so he could enter her with one swift move. He buried himself deep within her hot well, groaning as her muscles flexed around him.

Daniel knew he was almost past the point of no return, but he wanted the delectable thrill of feeling Annika climax with him. Using the water-heated wall to support her, he slipped one hand between their slick bodies and found her small nub of pleasure. He expertly teased it with his fingers until she once again began to whimper in his arms. The wave of ecstasy rippled through her and he gave way to his own release, gushing into her.

As their heartbeats slowed, Annika gave a low chuckle. "I never knew removing sand could be such fun."

Daniel grinned shutting off the running water. "Any other little problems you’d like me to help you with?"

She threw a towel at him. "Have I mentioned that I also hate droplets of water clinging to my body?"

"Hmmm." He reached out to wrap her in the terry cloth, his blue eyes darkening with renewed desire. "Well, maybe I can resolve that issue too."

They made sweet, sensual love again, before eventually making their way under the covers. They fell asleep curled in each other’s arms.




By the time Scarecrow escorted Scully to her room, it was almost three in the morning. She found the TV on and Mulder dozing on one of the beds with scattered reports and newspaper articles. Tired though she was, Scully took a moment to watch him. Even in sleep he had the same boyish enthusiasm he had whenever they investigated an X-file. She wondered what he was dreaming about. Gently she removed the articles clutched in his hand and chuckled softly when she skimmed the stories. The first was about unexplained lights at the Glass House Mountains. The second described a mythical beast called a ‘yowie’ that had been sighted in the same area. Typical Mulder, she thought. Not content to have one paranormal mystery, he’d had to find two more.

Scully noticed that there was a series of dates labeled ‘sightings’ in Mulder’s handwriting in the margin of the unexplained lights story. The names of the missing and murdered women were scrawled next to each one. Hmmm…looks like he’d found a link between the women and the lights…A totally anomalous link, but a link nonetheless.

Unable to resist she sat beside him and brushed a stray lock of hair from his forehead. After all, there were no witnesses to see the intimate gesture. No one would know she took these few seconds of indulgence, not even Mulder.

Still asleep his mouth curved into a smile and his hand reached for hers. His thumb caressed the inside of her palm. A shiver raced up her arm and she tried to pull away but he wouldn’t let go. Uh oh. Now what?

"Mulder," she whispered, hoping he would rouse enough to listen, but not enough to remember it in the light of day. "Let go."

"Hey, Scully." His voice was slurred with slumber and his arm snaked around her waist.

Damn it, this wasn‘t supposed to happen. She tried again. "Mulder, let go."

His only response was to tighten his hold. "No, don’t want to." Mulder gently tugged her towards him and after a moment of internal debate, Scully let herself be drawn into her still sleeping partner’s embrace. She figured she’d wait a few minutes until he was sound asleep again and then extricate herself. Mulder obviously had no idea what he was doing. It was wrong to take advantage of the situation and would only lead to embarrassment in the morning.

She patiently lay in his arms, secretly relishing the whole experience. When his breathing once again became slow and steady, Scully very carefully tried to lift his arm so she could slide out when Mulder’s voice stopped her.

"Scully, don’t go."

Her head swung up to study his face. Mulder’s eyes were still closed, but his words were not clouded by sleep. He was now wide awake.

Her heart began to pound as his fingers gently traced along her jaw to her lips.

"Please, Scully." She’d never heard that softly pleading tone from him before. It made her heart melt. "We’ve waited long enough, don’t you think?"

Although his lids flickered open to reveal serious but passion filled eyes, Mulder didn’t move to keep her in his arms. He was leaving the final decision to her.

Very slowly, hardly daring to breathe, Scully leant forward and lowered her lips to his. Mulder deepened the kiss, eager to taste the woman who had haunted his dreams since the first day they’d met.

With that single first kiss, they both knew they would be partners in every sense of the word, for as long as they drew breath.

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