Dana Scully found her partner out in the parking lot about to drive away. He stopped when he saw her.
"Want a ride?" he asked her.
She opened the door and got in. "AD Kersh isn't too impressed with your behaviour," she told him.
"What about you? Is he pissed off with you too?"
"Yes, especially if he heard my parting comment. Apparently I apologise for you too much."
"Oh really, I guess I don't notice that because I normally leave, which is partly the reason for the apology. What did you say?
"I just confirmed what our assignment was, big piles of manure," she told him deadpan.
Mulder smiled, or it was his version of a smile. "I would have liked to have seen his face."
"I didn't dare look back," Scully told him.
"Do you want some dinner?" Mulder asked his partner.
"Yeah, I am a little hungry."
Mulder turned left and drove towards the diner he often frequented and they drove the rest of the way in silence.
"How did you find this one, Mulder?" Scully asked her partner.
"I don't actually remember," Mulder said as he tucked into his burger without his usual appetite.
This did not go unnoticed by Scully.
"Do you want to talk about it?" she asked, concerned.
"Aren't you going to eat your salad?" Mulder asked, avoiding the question and Scully respected his decision to keep quite - for now at least.
They talked about everything but nothing, little things of no consequence to life.
When they had finished Mulder paid the bill and they left.
"Do you want me to drop you home or at the bureau to get your car?" Mulder asked his partner.
"Home, I guess. It's closer anyway."
"Okay then," Mulder replied, travelling in the direction of Scully's apartment.
When they reached her apartment Scully didn't really want to get out of the car, she didn't know why, she was just reluctant to leave the company of her partner. Her best friend.
"Do you want to come in for a drink?" she asked him.
"Yeah," Mulder replied, not wanting to be parted from Scully. He got out of the car, locked it and followed her to her apartment.
Scully opened the door and threw her bag on the couch.
"Have a seat," she gestured in the vague direction of the couch and the armchairs. "What do you want?"
"Coffee, please," Mulder replied.
Scully fixed two cups and brought then through to the living room. She handed Mulder his cup and noticed that he still seemed subdued. When he didn't take the cup she called his name. "Mulder."
No response. "Mulder."
Still no response, she put her cup on the table and knelt down in front of him. "What?" he asked.
"Your coffee," she replied, handing him the mug.
"Thanks," was the reply.
"Do you want to talk about it?" she asked again.
"I'm fine," he answered.
Scully could tell that it was bothering him and felt a sudden urge to help him; she didn't let him back down. "I didn't ask you if you were fine, I asked if you wanted to talk about it."
Mulder was startled at his partner's reply. He looked up at her and saw that she was worried.
"I'm alright, really, Scully," he assured her. "I don't need to talk about it."
"You may not need to," she replied, not believing him for a second. "But do you want to?"
Seeing there was no backing down, Mulder nodded his head.
"Its bothering you isn't it?" she asked although it was more of a statement than a question.
"Yeah," Mulder said, "I managed to keep him alive for so damn long, and he died in the last few minutes. So damn long."
"I know," Scully said softly, unsure of what else to say.
"And that son-of-a-bitch Kersh produces a bill and throws everything in my face, and has a go at you too."
Well, Scully thought, that's interesting. He's annoyed at Kersh for getting upset at me.
"And then we get stuck back where we started for trying to save a life, and the lives of others." And then he tells us that the removal of the thing is purely coincidental!"
He looked up at Scully. "I kept him alive for so damn long."
Scully moved closer to him and, without knowing why she did so, put her arms around him. "Its alright, you did your best, that's what counts. And just think of what we uncovered, you uncovered. No more lives are at risk now."
Mulder welcomed the feel of Scully's arms around him; it was comforting and let him know that someone else cared.
"Thanks G-woman," he said as he reluctantly moved away from her, trying not to let the reluctance show on his face.
Scully moved back to her seat feeling a bit embarrassed, but Mulder didn't seem to be.
She looked up at his face and saw reluctance in his eyes, the reluctance he tried so hard to conceal but didn't quite pull off.
This confused her, but made her feel strangely at peace. "You feel better now?" she asked.
"Yeah," Mulder told her. He stifled a yawn.
"Do you want to crash here for the night?" she extended the offer, she didn't want him to leave, and she guessed that he felt the same way.
"Thanks," he told her in way of acceptance.
She went to find some blankets and pillows and returned a few minutes later.
She laid them on the couch when suddenly she tripped over something that was hidden under the blankets on the floor. She fell into the arms of her partner.
This time it was different to when she had hugged him, the motive had been to give sympathy and reassurance, and it was even more unexpected.
They looked at each other and saw the desire in each other's eyes.
Mulder's lips descended on hers and Scully's blood started to run hot through her veins.
They broke apart, breathing heavily, staring at each other.
"Dana..." they said together.
And then no words were necessary as their lips met again in a deep, soul-searching kiss.
As his tongue explored her mouth Scully moaned as the suppressed desire of years was given free reign.
Mulder shuddered at the moan, and felt his control begin to slip away.
When Scully awoke the next morning she was aware of a pair of strong, gentle arms around her, and a warm body against her back. She felt more at peace with herself than she ever had in her life, and wondered why they had not allowed this to happen before.
At that moment Mulder too opened his eyes. "Morning," he said with a husky voice, that made Scully shiver.
"Morning," she replied, "Sleep well?"
"Better than I have done in years," he responded, looking at his partners beautiful face and wondering why they had ignored this for so long.
"Good," she said, touching the side of his face and kissing his cheek gently.
He turned his face to kiss her palm and she smiled.
She looked at the clock on the wall. "Time to get up," she said, moving out of his arms.
Mulder tightened his hold on her. "In a minute," he said, and she didn't argue. The sooner they got up, the sooner she would have to check out 'big piles of manure' which was nowhere near as appealing as lying in her partners arms.
As she relaxed against him, Mulder smiled. There was nowhere in the world he would rather be.