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It doesn’t need to be disputed that Fox Mulder never gave a single shit about what anybody thought of him. Good bad or ugly, there was only one impression that had ever mattered. So say what you like, his partner had likely already said it all.

Maybe that’s why thirty years after kicking the habit, he found himself chewing his thumbnail to the quick. He stopped himself by chewing on a pencil and resisted throwing it at the ceiling. Scully hates when he does that. Scully loves candles, so he lit some only to promptly blow them out. Too cliche. He straightened his tie. Tightened it. Too tight. Loosened it again and paused as he heard the unmistakable click of heels on linoleum. He felt every one of them in his chest.

“Mulder?” Scully approached him slowly, dressed to the nines, he bit down on his pencil hard enough to splinter. “Why did you call me to the office? I thought we had dinner?”

“Uh, we do,” Mulder replied meekly, suddenly and fleetingly feeling like an idiot. An idiot in a basement, holding up a bucket of fried chicken. “Happy anniversary, Scully,”

This did not help the situation. Scully was even more confused, but Mulder took advantage of her speechlessness. He sat her in his swivel chair, dumped the chicken in her lap and directed her attention to the young spunky agents on his pull out screen, all wide eyes and trench coats, all of twenty-six years ago.

Dana Scully, this is your life. You were born at twenty-eight and in kitten heels; when you walked into this room and you shook this hand. You stared monsters and aliens, cancer and cancerous men in the face, walked away from a gut full of lead, lungs full of sludge, a heart full of survivors guilt. Saved lives and took them and made them. Made it worth living, at least for him. It was everything his silver tongue found too genuine to say out loud. So he just sat back and picked at his chicken thighs and watched her laugh and aw and gesture at the slideshow.

Look how fluffy my hair was back then! Did we really wear those blazers in public? That was not a vampire Mulder and you will never fucking convince me otherwise…

They reached the last slide and the room was drenched in white light. Scully’s hand was slightly greasy when it found his, and he found the last of his nerve.

“I have another present,” he blurted. Scully blinked in surprise and smiled in amusement.

“Oh, you didn’t…”

“I know we missed out on silver last year,” he said it quickly, the band-aid technique, his words still made her flinch, “and I know we decided not to do rings but your mom helped me pick it out…”

It was a simple metal band with four gemstones, two blue, two green, two carats. Not that it even mattered, because she wasn’t even looking at it. “I’m not asking you to marry me again,” he tried to clarify. “I just want… you again,”

“You’re not gonna get on your knee are you?” she said, a half-hearted quip where the rest was just heart. “I’m not sure you could get back up,” It was just so Scully that he couldn’t help but laugh.

“Oh, I know I wouldn’t,” he replied, let his hand skim the skin of her thigh in a way that was just so Mulder, she couldn’t help but kiss him. He took that as a yes.

“I’m so glad that I met you,” she told him.

“I’m so glad that you stayed,”