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Between Partners

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They stared at each other, and there was so much in the air. Both were certain that they could just reach out and the action would be accepted and returned -- mirrored images stretching to embrace.

But neither made that move. They sat next to each other on the couch and stared instead, frightened at all they could express by sight alone.

It was like they'd never before spoken and now didn't know how to start.

Or had they spent their entire lives speaking all the while forgetting how to feel?

The room was getting smaller. They could feel it pressing against them, pressing them closer together without actually moving them at all. The air was getting heavy, the noise from the television getting less.

There was an understanding between them that buffered the distance and filled the void.

They were the only two people left in the world that understood each other.

They were partners.

They were partners who were leaning into their partnership.

It began as a tingling between the shoulders, a tension from expectation, a heavy thumb touching the back of the neck. It shivered down the spine like a ghost's breath, a whisper. It slowly turned into a scream on its way back up.

They watched each other.

This was Mulder holding a gun with a chambered round on Scully, telling her to run. It was his strength that allowed him to look down the barrel and force her name out in warning.

It was her watching him, a single tear escaping the gravity of her face. She told him to fight it, but the urging seemed futile. He would do his best this time -- he didn't always.

This was Scully also, pointing a gun at a delusional Mulder.

He stood miles away from her, certain that the last person he trusted was going to betray him. She could no longer trust his judgment. He could no longer trust her.

She did the only thing she could. She pulled the trigger and hoped he would understand one day. As he fell, she knew it would not be that day.

They'd been stolen away from each other. They'd killed for each other. They'd nearly been killed by each other; they'd nearly been killed because of each other.

Now they watched each other.

There were these things pulling and pushing on them. Least of all their own insecurities and isolation. They were never alone while they were together, but they were not always together while in the same room.

Different viewpoints of the world.

Different demons.

Different crusades.

Different beliefs.

Time would send them on their different ways.

But they'd proven time wrong by believing in each other.

All they had to do was reach out and the other one would be there. It would be so easy to start but so impossible to let go.

Was this something they needed? How much closer could they get?

They could think each other's thoughts, dream each other's dreams, suffer each other's fears. They both lost sleep over each other's safety.

Their two minds had had the chance to mesh long before their bodies ever would.

There was two feet of empty space, filled with both sides of the argument, and, on either side, two people filled with questions.

It was all in their eyes. No surveillance camera or bug could sabotage this union. They were doing nothing illegal or dangerous.

Not yet.

It all came down to their decision. Reach out or look away.

It had to be mutual. They had to be certain.

They looked at each other through space and time--

Their hearts beating as if racing after themselves.

Their throats cluttered with unspoken words.

But gradually the television became louder, the room less compressed. The bony pressure along their spines relented, and they smiled.

Their bodies no longer screamed for attention. Their fingertips quit their tingling, but their hearts still pounded.

They had been close.

Close enough to touch.

They could still become closer, but it would take nothing short of Death's pale hand to pull them apart.

There were things holding these two together. And though it remained unspoken, they had reached an agreement. An agreement between partners.

It was enough for now. Tomorrow they had a case to work. Tomorrow they always would.