Learning Trust (PG-13)

Reaction was setting in.  He'd almost lost her tonight.  That serial mutant had almost killed her.  Maybe working with Colton and the VCS would be better for her.

He let himself into his apartment feeling more unsettled than he had in ages.  He had no reason to feel like this, well, not a great reason anyway.  She had said she wanted to hang around, find out why he was so convinced that Tooms was the serial killer.  He just hadn't realized how important her answer was to him until she had made it. 

He was acting bizarrely around her.  When Colton had made that comment implying that he would help her leave the X-Files, his blood had run cold.  He'd never felt that way with any other partner.  Of course he'd never had a partner trust him before.  Not really.  He actually talked to her.  He'd told her about Samantha and she hadn't laughed.  She'd come to him when she was afraid in Oregon.  He was still reeling, at some level, about that.

He had actually found reasons to touch her.  When he'd straightened her necklace at the station . . . She probably thought he was going to cop a feel, but she hadn't retreated from him.

She had tried to be politically correct when telling him how Colton felt about him, his 'methods', in order to protect his feelings.  No one had ever done that before.  Of course, she hadn't answered him when he asked if she thought he was spooky. The interruption had been well timed to get her off the hook.  Should he ask again, or was that pushing?  And why did it matter whether she felt that way or not?

She'd thought he was acting territorial in front of Colton.  She's been talking about the case, he knew that, but when he analyzed his actions, it wasn't the case.  He had been acting territorial, but because of her, not because it was an X-File.

Mulder shook his head.  The last thing he needed to do was develop some emotion around a partner.  No one ever stayed around him very long and if he began to truly rely on her, believe that she would be there for him - in a business way - he'd be in for a world of disappointment.  Why put himself through something like that?

He'd made an ass of himself in front of her when she had first introduced him to Colton, spouting off about Reticulans.  He didn't care how he looked to Colton, or any of those ass holes at the Bureau. But it had taken him most of a day to realize he done it because of the way she was acting around Colton.  Was she embarrassed by him, embarrassed to be his partner?  Well, he shouldn't be surprised; he was an embarrassment to the Bureau, why not to her as well?

He'd heard them; they were calling her Mrs. Spooky.  He'd made a conscious decision not to analyze how that made him feel.  But she had come to his defense when they arrived at the scene of the latest murder and Colton had tried to bar them, bar him, from the investigation.  It hadn't bothered him to be thought of as insane until it was said to her.

His race to her apartment, calling her over and over, begging her to answer . . . He never allowed himself to get that involved in a case.  He kept his distance, kept his detachment.  Of course, she wasn't a case.  She was his partner.  His partner, damn, what had he gotten himself into?  Yes, he'd trusted her with the story of Samantha's disappearance, but that probably was because she'd come to him with her fear.  That scene played in his head every damn night.  Was that why Colton's proclamation that he would take her from him been so painful?  He'd frozen in place for an instant; the pain had been nearly physical.

Maybe he was just losing his mind.  That was certainly a more likely explanation.  A woman like Dana Scully might put up with him at work, but she was way too smart to get involved with him on a personal level.  Besides, he didn't want to have a personal involvement.  He didn't!  It would distract him from his real mission.

He sighed closing the door behind him.  Stop the damn analyzing.  He had gotten there in time, she was alive, safe.  The mutant was in custody and as far as he knew she hadn't applied for a transfer. It was late, he should try to get a little rest. 

He turned as the phone rang and moved with heavy steps in that direction.  "Mulder."

"Hi, it's me.  I hope I didn't wake you, but in all the confusion . . . I, I wasn't sure that I had thanked you."

He sank onto the couch then, feeling lighter than he had since he could remember.