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This Can't Be How You Imagined

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It was already four o'clock in the afternoon. Too late to complete what they still had left to do on their agenda but way too early for dinner. But if how things had played out so far was any indication of how the rest of this day was going to go, if they didn't eat now chances were good that they never would.

So here they were in a diner, way too early in the day.

Heavy clouds had rolled in the day before and refused to leave making everything colder than it should be. Or at least colder than she had anticipated when she was packing for this little excursion. She now found herself leaving her coat on inside, just so she could regain feeling in her upper body. She leaned the edge of her forehead against the window next to her and she sighed. Condensation from her warm breath clouded her line of sight but she stared into the grey haze, unwilling to move.

Sitting in an empty diner that was quite possibly the only thing open for business in the entire state of New Mexico, running on about three hours of sleep, covered in mud and God knows what else was not exactly how she had imagined spending Thanksgiving.

She exhaled another clouding breath against the window and she smiled.

No, actually, this is exactly how she imagined spending Thanksgiving.

She sat up, hearing the creak of the vinyl seat beneath her as she did. She leaned back and pulling from knowledge she had probably learned around forth grade she quickly drew five touching circles in a line in the condensation left by her breathing. She added a few u shapes and effectively turned the circles into a dog with floppy ears and a droopy tongue on the big picture window.

The second she finished her masterpiece she used the edge of her hand like a wiper blade to destroy it right as her partner flopped down across from her in the booth. He picked up one of the menus from the table and she leaned her head back against the glass.

"Five years together Scully and you have been hiding your artistic talent this whole time," he muttered, his face completely hidden from view behind the laminated paper. She closed her eyes and breathed in a deep breath.

"Shut up Mulder," she said. But her smile was back. He snapped the menu closed and dropped it back on table before sliding all the way in so they were exactly face to face. She could feel him staring at her but she didn't give him the satisfaction of looking back but stayed relaxed with her eyes closed.

She heard him exhale three times in rapid succession, like a woman in the deep throes of natural child birth, followed by the squeaking drag of his finger against the glass.

This pattern was repeated and she knew he wanted her attention, so of course she refused to give it. Instead she crossed her arms and relaxed even further into the window and she pretended to be falling asleep.

His manipulations of the glass surface made it rattle and vibrate under her forehead and she could hear his finger squeak in what must have been only a few inches away from her head.

Damn him.

The longer he drew the more she wondered what the hell?

Curiosity was getting the better of her.

She finally caved, and opened one of her eyes to see what on earth he was drawing but before she could get a good look, his free hand dropped over her eyes.

"Hang on Scully I'm not done yet," he said.

She laughed.

"Mulder..."

"No just hang on. You're not the only one with hidden artistic talent. Just...no peaking. Not yet." She sighed but closed her eyes again. She even kept them closed when he pulled his hand away from her face and she focused instead on the sound of his movements to see if they gave anything away.

They didn't.

Long dragging squeaks followed by short sounding swipes.

Something that sounded like circles being drawn over and over and over.

She had no clue.

After a bit, the squeaking stopped. She heard paper being torn and then silverware spilling out onto the table. She frowned.

"Mulder?" she asked.

"Oh I'm done now Scully you can open your eyes."

She did, to see him laying his napkin in his lap and rearranging his fork so that it was on the outside of his knife on the table. She then looked over at the window and felt her eyebrows rise when she did.

"Mulder, that's the USS Enterprise," she said, genuinely surprised. He looked up as she turned to him and their eyes met. He grinned.

"That it is," he said. She turned back to the window and frowned. She noticed the details of windows on the hull of the ship and lettering on its side. It was also flying at an unusual angle and it looked just exactly like what it was supposed to be.

"That's actually really good," she said.

"Well don't sound too shocked. I do have SOME talents you know," he said.

"You're fishing for a compliment and I'm not taking that bait," she said, still staring at his handiwork.

"Fine I see how it is. If you keep my self esteem in the gutters you can feel better about yourself," he said. She kicked at him under the table and barely grazed his knee. "No Scully you're right. I'm worthless."

"Nice try I'm still not taking the bait. So when did you learn to draw?" she asked.

"I didn't really," he said turning to join her in staring at the window. "This is the only thing I can really reproduce with any kind of skill. But I got into a really deep Star Trek obsession when I was about, oh, ten or so and I found this book at the library that showed you step by step of how to draw Star Trek stuff. I checked it out and re checked it out over and over and over all summer long one year and then I drew the Enterprise on everything I could. I can also sometimes draw a halfway passable cartoonish looking Spock." She turned to look at him in time to see him shrug before the waitress appeared looking oh so thrilled to be working on turkey day.

She stopped at their table with a weighted sigh and didn't even speak, but pulled out her paper pad and pen and raised her eyebrows at them to give them the go ahead to order.

They exchanged glances of no you go firsts and Scully cleared her throat.

"Uh. Well...I'll have your turkey sandwich. No tomato. Side of fries and a root beer to drink. And..." she made eye contact with her partner again and she pointed her pinky finger at him as she handed the waitress her menu. "Waffles?" she ordered with a pause as he nodded his agreement. "Hash browns? A side of eggs?" More nods "Scrambled? Add some cheese, and a milk with the food." He nodded vigorously to all of that and smiled up at the waitress, handing over his own menu.

The waitress grunted in response and walked away as he slid back to stretch out the entire length of his side of the booth and she leaned back against the window.

She breathed out onto the glass and smiled at the remnants of her dog that appeared.

"I'm sorry Scully," he said, folding his arms across himself and resting his chin against them. She frowned.

"For what?" she asked. He shifted his gaze over to her without moving his head and he shot one of his eyebrows into the air.

"I can't imagine this is how you expected to spend Thanksgiving," he said. She shrugged and busied herself with unwrapping her own silverware as she avoided eye contact.

"Actually Mulder, while you were in the bathroom just now I was thinking exactly that very thing."

"Thaaaaaat what...you expected to be eating in a diner in New Mexico with a mute waitress talking about my childhood interest in drawing the USS Enterprise?" he asked. She smiled down at her lap as she spread out her napkin.

"Well ok, maybe not this EXACT scenario no. But...you know. On a case, somewhere weird, with you, that's exactly what I expected," she said. He set his feet back on the ground beneath the table and he folded his arms across its Formica top as he leaned towards her.

There was no one around to hear them. No one to eavesdrop on this oh so fascinating conversation but he still dropped his voice down to just a few decibels above silent when he spoke.

"And that...doesn't disappoint you?" he asked, his tone wavering between nervous and confused. She looked up at him and pulled back just slightly when she realized just how close his face was to hers and she frowned.

"Should it?" she asked. He opened his mouth but his brain was too slow on delivering an answer to him so he closed it back up and leaned back. His brain made a few more false starts to his opening and closing mouth before he gave up on trying and shrugged.

"Maybe not?" he said. He shook his head like he was trying hard to process that concept and it made her heart twinge with just a little bit of pain. Was it really an unfathomable concept for him that someone would spend a national holiday in his company and actually enjoy it?

His comment earlier about being worthless suddenly didn't seem like a joke.

He played the arrogant self assured guy so convincingly that sometimes she forgot that it was mostly for show.

"Mulder," she said, but when he turned to look at her she lost her train of thought. She wanted to pay him that compliment he had been searching for but everything she could come up with sounded lame inside her head.

He was amazing.

He was brilliant beyond anyone she had ever met.

He had the most beautiful heart.

But she said none of those things. Instead she slid her hand across the table and she grabbed ahold of one of his and held it tightly.

"Your USS Enterprise really is beautifully drawn," she said. His lopsided grin spread across his face and he squeezed her hand back.

"Thanks Scully. If you ask real nice, maybe I'll draw you one on real paper when we get back to our hotel."

"Ah. See, Mulder? Now what more could anyone ask for in a Thanksgiving," she said. He ducked his head down and started to laugh.

"Yeah that's me Scully," he said, looking down at their hands. "Making people happy one day at a time." She smiled at him and was glad he couldn't read her mind. She blushed. If he had been able to he would have known that he was pretty much spot on.

She couldn't really remember ever being happier than she was right now.