The knock surprised her, it was kind of late for company and the weather . . . she looked through the peephole and opened the door immediately. “Mulder?”
“Sorry, I should have called.”
“Come on in.”
That was true enough; he’d have been drier swimming in his clothes. “Do you want to drip in the hall or the kitchen?”
One side of his mouth quirked and he moved past her quickly to protect her carpet. He turned once he was in the kitchen, but she wasn’t behind him. He took automatic step to look for her, then heard her returning from the bathroom.
She joined him in the kitchen carrying two large, fluffy towels. She placed them on the table. “Take off your jacket, Mulder.”
He did then, and she draped it across the back of a chair. She took the top towel, then pulled him down to her and dried his face, then ruffled his hair, drying it as well.
She was so close. Just another inch or two and their lips would be . . . He realized she was watching him now and here he was focused on her lips. Shit.
She draped the towel around his neck and pushed lightly on his chest to get him to sit. He did as she bade and was startled when she knelt in front of him and began working on the wet laces of his shoes.
There, on her knees between his legs . . . god was she aware that his cock had twitched at her proximity? He was a fool to have come over here.
She had looked up and caught him watching her again. She had to have noticed something, her cheeks were tinged a beautiful color. Yes, she had more color in her face, her hair had more body to it and she’d regained a couple of pounds since she’d gotten out of the hospital.
“You should be resting, I wasn’t thinking.”
“I was just going to make myself a cup of tea. Would you like one?”
“I, uh - “
He nodded and watched her get out the mugs and tea bags. When the water was hot, she poured them both a cup and handed his to him. “Come on, I think you’re probably dry enough for the couch now.”
He tried a small smile and almost pulled it off. She didn’t ask, moving ahead of him. She settled at one end of the couch and he took the other. He tasted his tea, then sat looking at her. She was blushing again, he shouldn’t have just shown up like this.
“So what happened?”
“Something happened, or you wouldn’t be in this mood. Did Skinner get after you about something?”
He shook his head, “No, I’ve been a good boy while you’ve been gone.”
“Shoot, I missed it?” She grinned at him, but he couldn’t seem to shake whatever it was. She reached out her hand to him and he took it eagerly. “Talk to me, please.”
“I . . . it’s lonely down there. It seems like you’ve been gone for a long time.”
That did bring a small smile to her face, “It’s nice to be missed.”
His face was deadly serious at that.
“Mulder, I’ll be back soon, probably next week.”
“I don’t want you to rush it. You need to get your strength back.”
“I will. I understand there’s a team building seminar coming up, so even when I get back we won’t be out in the field for a little while.”
“How did you hear about that?”
“Skinner called to check on me. He mentioned it.”
“Oh.” And why did it bother him that Skinner had called her? Of course he would call her. He was their supervisor. He tried to shake that off, taking another drink of the tea. Then he glanced at the window. “The rain’s letting up. I should - “
“Why did you really come over here Mulder?” Had he really just been lonely?
He shook his head and rose, “You’re looking a lot better. Get some rest and I’ll - “ He rose moved into the kitchen to retrieve his shoes and jacket. She was at the door when he returned.
When he approached the door, her hand came up to his chest. “You’re not going without telling me why you came.”
He looked at his feet, then focused on her hand pressing lightly into his chest.
“I . . . I wanted to ask you . . . something.”
She started to remove her hand, but his covered it, keeping it in place. “It didn’t sound as stupid when I - “
“I just wanted to ask you not to transfer out, or quit, or . . . or die.”
Her eyes widened. “Mulder, I - “
“I’ve gotten used to you, I . . . “
“I’m not going anywhere Mulder. And if, when I die, I still won’t leave you.”
She met his eyes then, “I promise. Now, do you have to leave?”
“Good. It’s kind of lonely around here too.” She led him back to the couch and they settled in with him resting his chin on her hair, taking a deep breath of her and for the first time in days, the cloud of loneliness receded.