He sat staring at the picture in his hand. The sight still sent terror through his body even though he knew she was safe and Schnauz was dead.
She was being strong, like she felt she should. He’d seen it before, but he knew she was shaken. She couldn't explain the pictures, not scientifically. That always left her unsettled, but this time . . . He hadn't wanted to leave her alone last night. She had insisted. He'd gotten less than an hour's sleep in total himself. And every time he'd awaken, he'd been saying 'six fingers' or gasping for air from trying to run down the car or break into the RV.
He shook his head. What if he hadn't gotten there in time? That was what ate at him. Five more minutes. It had been that close. He closed his eyes, but his fingers once again seemed to caress her face in the picture.
She was calling out his name. At least that's what he saw. Screaming for him.
She walked into the office unexpectedly. He'd been so absorbed he hadn't heard anyone approaching. He quickly slipped the picture into his drawer.
"Scully, I, uh, I wasn't expecting you."
"Well, you know, I thought you'd take a day or two. The case is closed."
"There's a lot of paperwork."
"I can - "
"Mulder, I'd rather be here."
"I'd rather you be here too." He hadn't meant to say it out loud.
She blinked at that, then turned abruptly away, but not before he saw what he thought were tears in her eyes. Great.
She kept her back to him. Damn the man, how did he do it? He'd ripped a hole in her carefully erected defenses large enough to drive a truck through with one sentence.
She sat to gather her thoughts, not looking at him, but aware of every breath he took. She had realized something yesterday and was still having to process it. He hadn’t been searching for his partner. When she had come to and realized where she was, what was happening, she had also known without a shred of doubt that his man's brilliant, spooky, mind was working frantically to find her. Nothing else mattered to him. She had felt it and it was totally personal.
But she had also known that he had nothing to go on. She'd been unaware of the picture. The picture. Her eyes closed and she shivered slightly, unaware that he had looked over at her immediately, sensing her emotions.
He kept quiet; at least she was here. He sighed silently and returned to work.
She forced herself into some sort of professional composure and booted up the computer. She had written her report last night, but knew it wasn't finished. She had avoided the parts she couldn't face. Maybe now, in the daylight, with him so close . . . She glanced up at him. He was busy, worrying a sunflower seed with his tongue and lips.
When he'd burst in and shot Schnauz, her relief had numbed her. Then he'd taken her hand. But she had stumbled out, unable to stay, unable to look at the body that she'd already seen in the pictures - the damned pictures.
By the time he'd come out, she had managed to look calm, the 'ice queen' personified. She'd forced herself to refuse his offer to stay with her for a while. She knew he would have stayed the night if she'd allow it.
Concentrate Dana, work.
She forced her mind to the report. She didn't look up again until she felt him standing in front of her.
She glanced at her watch, startled. The morning was gone, and she'd done okay. She felt steadier. And it wasn't just because he was beside her, well, not entirely.
"Sure." She hit save and logged off, then rose. She turned toward the door and felt his hand touch her back. It was exactly what she needed. For the first time in what felt like ages, a small smile graced her face.
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Mulder, Scully, the Lone Gunman and Skinner all belong to Chris Carter,10-13 and Fox. No infringement intended.