Tim lay in bed, his eyes closed, trying to pretend that he was still asleep. He felt Mulder shift next to him. It was amazing to realize that they were back in their bed; they had made it through the horror of Mulder's accident, blindness and recovery to emerge on the other side in pretty good shape.
"Tim?" Mulder's voice cut into his thoughts.
"Can you? I need . . . "
Tim cut off Mulder's request by sitting up. Mulder was recovering, but there were still a lot of things that he couldn't do for himself. The nurse at the hospital had carefully shown Tim how to bandage Mulder's eyes at night so he wouldn't accidentally hurt them while he slept. In addition, there were drops and medication, all kinds of things to make sure that he healed properly.
Tim leaned over and eased the protective patches from his lover's eyes. Mulder squinted at the morning light as Tim handed him a pair of sunglasses. Mulder slipped them on.
"I need to use the john," Mulder said, getting up from the bed.
"Can you make it?" Tim asked.
Mulder nodded and reached his hand out. He only had about forty percent of his vision back, but it was getting better every day. In the three days since they had been back from Minnesota, Mulder had learned his way around their home and could make his way with little difficulty. Fumbling around in the hospital had been one thing, but it was a whole new level of frustration to not be able to move around their home easily. Finding the bathroom door with little difficulty he closed the door. No need to have Tim listen to him struggle with the toothpaste and his electric razor.
A few minutes later, Mulder made his way back from the bathroom to find Tim on the phone.
"Yeah. Are you sure? I understand. I'll be there."
Tim hung up the phone and sat silent for a moment. Finally he stood up.
"There was a police-involved shooting in the Western district. I've gotta go," he said.
"Of course you do," Mulder responded.
"I didn't want to leave you alone so soon," Tim replied, sliding the drawer open and pulling out a pair of boxer shorts.
"Don't worry about it," Mulder replied. "I'll be fine here." He sat quietly on the edge of the bed while Tim finished dressing. It would be fine. It was their house. How could he not be able to make it through the day by himself?
"Call me if you need anything," Tim said as he slipped his gun into the holster on his hip.
"I'll be fine. I'll give you the full report on Jerry Springer and Judge Judy when you get home."
"It might be late. Do you have the number for Jimmy's? They'll run something over for you," Tim said, leaning in to kiss Mulder.
"I'll be fine. Get out of here," Mulder answered.
Mulder sighed as he flipped around the TV channels for the ninety-fifth time in the past hour. In the best of times he did not have a long attention span, but after weeks of recovery he was beginning to get a bit stir-crazy. He had tried to call Scully, but she wasn't in the office. He wanted to call Tim, but experience had taught him that red balls weren't the best time for phone conversations, let alone the kind that might help him let off some steam. He reached for the phone again, began dialing, then snapped it back off. Why would he call Skinner? Was he that desperate? He could call the Lone Gunmen, but they had gone to one of their Xena fan fiction conventions.
He paused, listening carefully to the show. The Price is Right. He flicked it again. Who's the Boss? Again. Judge Judy. He had already seen this one earlier and couldn't stomach the thought of listening again to the judge berate the woman for having the faulty boob job. He flipped again. Springer. It sounded like it was about nymphomaniacs. Was everyone having sex but him?
Mulder stood up and moved toward the window. He pulled the cord raising the blinds. Across the street he could make out the other houses. He knew the blobs along the street were cars. He tried to squint, but it was all still a blur. He knew it would get better, but it was so frustrating. He and Tim had made love at the hospital, in the shower, but since they had gotten home it had been all about Tim taking care of him. That didn't make Mulder feel very sexy and it certainly didn't get him in the mood to do anything. Was this what it was going to be like now? Was he going to be trapped in this house forever? Unable to see or take care of himself? Why couldn't he get out, take a walk?
He moved over to the hall closet, reaching his hand around until he connected with his desired target. Pulling out the large golf umbrella, he made his way to the door. He patted his pocket to make sure he had his keys, walked through the door and pulled it closed behind him. Holding onto the railing, he made his way down the steps to the street. He held the closed umbrella out in front of him, hoping to avoid any possible barriers.
He made his way down Shakespeare to Broadway, then paused at the corner to get his bearings. There were a few people on the street. In the background he could hear the boats on the water, the gulls flying around the pier. He visualized the street in front of him. The fish market was to his left, Jimmy's straight ahead. There was a bookstore to the left, but that was of little use to him now. Mulder realized he hadn't really thought about what he would do once he got out of the house. He could go over to the bar, but with everyone out on the red ball he would be left with Billie Lou, and even starved for attention, he couldn't stand the thought of going through that.
Listening for the traffic, he moved across the street and headed toward Thames street. From the sounds of cars coming in and out of the garage there was still a lot of action going on in the stationhouse. He made his way past the Waterfront, being careful of the grates on the sidewalk. He moved down the block until he reached the java-scented storefront. The doors of the Daily Grind were propped open and he could hear the sound of voices, spoons clinking against the heavy china coffee cups. He headed into the store, the umbrella loose in his right hand. Then it hit against the bump in the floor, but not soon enough to warn him. He went to his knees, the umbrella flying out of his hand, his left hand grabbing against the trash can as he tried in vain to break his fall.
"Hey. Are you okay?" a man asked, grabbing the trash can so it didn't fall on Mulder.
"I'm fine," Mulder responded. He began to push himself up, hissing slightly as he put his weight on his injured left wrist.
"Let me help," the man responded, putting his arm firmly around Mulder's.
Mulder wanted to protest, but realized he could take the assistance, or lie spread-eagled in the entrance of the coffee house for the foreseeable future. With the help of his good Samaritan he was quickly righted.
"Can I get you something?" the man asked, handing Mulder the runaway umbrella.
Mulder shook his head, dropping his hand to his side.
"Clearly you came in here for something," the man replied.
"No, it's okay. I can get it. Thank you for helping me," Mulder responded.
"My pleasure," the man responded and turned to go to his table.
Mulder moved carefully to the counter, ordering a double latte and a brownie. Remembering the rough spot on the floor he scanned the room as best he could for an empty place to sit. For mid-morning on a Monday, there seemed to be an awful lot of people hanging out, talking and reading the Sun. Recognizing the green sweater of his rescuer, he moved over to the table.
"I'm sorry, I was rude earlier. May I join you?" he asked.
"Of course," the man responded, pushing the chair out with his foot so Mulder could sit. "My name is Chris."
"Mulder," he replied as he set his coffee down and eased into the chair.
"Is your arm okay?" Chris asked.
Mulder turned it slightly. "Yeah, I think so, just a strain. I've walked in here a million times; I should have remembered that dip."
"Yeah, well, it's a liability. I would never allow such a thing in my restaurant."
"Is it around here?" Mulder asked, taking a sip of his latte and licking the foam from his lips.
"Up near Federal Hill. The Zodiac. Do you know it?"
Mulder paused. It was a small world. This was Tim's Chris. It had to be. Should he say something? He wasn't sure he wanted to have *that* conversation with this man, Tim's first lover. The one who had taught Tim all the things he had taught Mulder. The man who would still be having sex with Tim if he was in Mulder's place now.
"No. I've heard of it, but never been," Mulder finally replied.
"Well, come by any time. I would be delighted to have you," Chris replied. "So, you come here often?"
Mulder chuckled. "That's a pretty standard line."
Chris laughed, his rich voice ringing out. "Sorry. Well, you commented that you should have remembered the dip, so . . . "
"Oh yeah. Actually, I do. I live down the street. I've been in the hospital and was getting a little cabin fever, so I had to get out," Mulder replied.
The other man was silent for a moment as he drank from his cup of steaming coffee. He set it down and leaned across the table.
"I have to be honest, I know who you are," he said.
Mulder swallowed deeply, the last bits of brownie sliding down his throat. "You do?" he asked.
"I . . . I was in the Waterfront a couple of weeks ago and Munch said you were sick. I mean, he said Tim's partner . . . oh, this is much more awkward than I had imagined. Not that I imagined, but here you were and I'm sorry. I shouldn't have."
Mulder sat for a moment and then chuckled. "I knew who you were too. I mean, not as soon as you . . . but, I knew. Man, if Tim walks in here he's having a stroke."
"Tim is always having a stroke," Chris replied.
"I don't think we should . . . " Mulder's voice trailed off.
"You're right. We really shouldn't," Chris answered. "So, are you happy?"
Mulder nodded. "Yeah. Life-threatening illnesses aside, it's been great."
"Well, I should really get back. I've got a new bartender and I want to get him set up before the dinner reservations arrive." Chris stood up and began to pull his coat on.
Mulder stood as well and held out his hand. "Thanks." Chris took it and shook firmly.
"You're a lucky guy, Mulder. Don't screw it up." He turned and left Mulder still standing, his partially glazed eyes unfocused and turned toward the door.
Tim walked down the steps from the Homicide department, the weight of the day on his shoulders. The shooting was the kind no one wanted to investigate. A newly minted street cop had shot off his weapon at a fleeing suspect who turned out to be twelve years old and unarmed. The press would have all of their heads in the morning paper.
He pushed the door open and smiled.
"Hey, what are you doing out here?" he asked, moving over to take Mulder's hand.
"I ran into Munch and he said you would be out soon," Mulder said, pulling his hand from Tim's. "Hey, we're in public, Detective Bayliss. Don't you want to be a little more subtle?"
"I'm just giving a blind guy a hand. It's not like I kissed you or grabbed your ass," Tim said, a smile crossing his face. "How'd you get down here?"
"I walked," Mulder responded, holding out his umbrella. "Hell, I'm only half blind now. Besides, Oprah was the book club and they haven't figured out how to get Wally Lamb on a book tape."
Tim laughed and took Mulder's arm. "Why don't we make our way home and see if we can engage in some not-so-public displays of affection."
"I'd like that. Very much," Mulder replied. With Tim leading the way through the dark, wet streets, they quickly made their way back to the townhouse.
"Should I order out for dinner?" Tim called as he headed into the kitchen.
"No. I've got another idea," Mulder replied as he followed Tim from the dark hallway into the bright room.
"What, G-man?" Tim asked, turning back to look at Mulder.
The FBI agent had a small smile on his face. He moved up and slowly kissed Tim's lips. As the kiss grew deeper, his hand dropped down onto the curve of Tim's back, lower toward his thighs. He could feel the detective's erection growing against his leg.
"So, you did miss me today?" Mulder said, his voice muffled by Tim's lips and tongue.
"Of course," Tim replied, pulling back slightly. "Today, yesterday, for weeks."
"I'm sorry," Mulder responded.
"It's okay," Tim answered, sliding back again. "I knew it was a matter of time. Recovery isn't all physical, you know. I just trusted that you would eventually find your way back to me."
"Man, Tim. Where do you get it?" Mulder asked.
"This optimism, the Pollyanna attitude. I've thought we were done for more times than not, even before the accident."
Tim slid onto the counter, Mulder moving so he stood between his legs. "I love you and that has to mean something. It had better mean something."
Mulder answered him by sliding into his arms again. He ran his hands up Tim's back, knitting his fingers into Tim's hair. Tim slid off the counter and pressed against Mulder, backing him against the butcher block island and then sliding with his lover down onto the floor. He continued to kiss Mulder more deeply. He moved his arms across Tim's shoulders, slipping the other man's jacket off.
"I want you in me," Mulder panted.
Tim reached down and loosened Mulder's belt, sliding his pants and boxers down around his ankles. Shedding his own belt, holster, gun and pants, he began to move against Mulder, pulling the other man into his arms, Mulder's back to his. Tim's erection grew. He slid his finger into Mulder's anus. It was tight, so he moved back and forth until it relaxed slightly. He touched the opening with the tip of his penis, teasing it open, carefully until it beckoned. He slid further into Mulder, until he filled the other man. Tim's hand moved around the front, joining Mulder as they both massaged his erection. Tim began to pant as he grew close to orgasm, his thrusts growing deeper and faster.
Gasping, he deliberately made himself slow down, wanting Mulder to catch up to his own imminent release. Mulder now echoed the staccato tempo of Tim's respiration. Tim's hand moved across Mulder's pelvis, onto his thighs, up again. They moved in concert with one another. Tim's hands ranged up again, across Mulder's chest, his well-defined ribs, his pectoral. Mulder's nipples hardened in response, every nerve in his body attuned to Tim. Then the orgasm swept over Tim, his head filled with ecstasy, the adrenaline spilling out and over his body. Tim could feel the shudders of Mulder's body as he climaxed as well.
Finally they fell back onto the floor. Tim pushed his hand up against his sweaty brow.
"Oh man," he said.
"What?" Mulder asked, turning on his side so he could watch Tim.
"Let's not wait so long again," Tim replied. "I like to do it in the bed. Every time we have a dry spell we end up on the tile. I can't take it any more with my bad back."
Mulder rolled onto his back. He wished it was going to be this easy. Sex had always been a good release for them, but it was going to be much harder before it was all over. They didn't know if Mulder would ever recover his full sight. They didn't know if he would be able to go back to work at the FBI, if he would regain his field agent status. They would just have to wait . . . and see.