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Somehow, they all fit.

They shouldn’t, but they do — the basement was on the verge of being cramped when it was just two people, so four (or sometimes five, when Agent Harrison helps them out on cases) feels like it should be overkill. Except it’s not.

He should hate it, he knows. Except he doesn’t.

He had tried to, in the beginning when he’d returned. The X-Files are sacred to him, meant to be untouched by everyone who isn’t him or Scully. So the addition of Agent Doggett, and then Agent Reyes? It had been an intrusion, it had been an invasion. He couldn’t trust them, not after all the attempts to put a stop to his and Scully’s work. He’d put up with them if he absolutely had to, but nothing would change the fact that they didn’t belong here.

Looking back, he can’t figure out how he went from that line of thinking to... whatever this is now. It could’ve started with the genuine affection he saw in Doggett’s face when he looked at Scully, or the way Reyes tried not to laugh at his bad jokes, or how Scully simply seemed to like them, or perhaps it wasn’t any one thing in particular. All he knows is he’s come to rely on them being a part of his space, just as he had with Scully all those years ago.

The realization that something’s been building between them hits Mulder hard and unexpectedly. He probably should’ve noticed earlier, but it had been so slow, so subtle that he’d missed all the signs until it was already too late, leaving him stuck with no idea what to do.

He tries to proceed as normal, but that proves to be impossible. Butterflies flutter in his chest when Reyes gives him that wide, contagious grin of hers; his face flushes when Doggett puts a hand on his shoulder or hip for a brief moment when he walks past him; warmth spreads within his entire being when he hears the familiar lilt of Scully’s voice.

It doesn’t help that they’ve left their marks throughout the office. There are coffee cups in the trash can that don’t belong to him, there are notes left on the desk that aren’t in his handwriting. Sometimes Doggett comes in, sees him already there with a file in his hand, and joins him to look at it without a word. Other times, Reyes forces him to take a break and drags him out to lunch, providing him with sunlight and nutrition he wouldn’t have gotten otherwise.

They’re everywhere, in both the area and his routine. Somehow, before he had any clue what was happening, their presence had begun to take over. And much to his surprise, he wouldn’t have it any other way. He had thought it’d be suffocating, but there isn’t anything suffocating about it. It’s actually become a comfort, the knowledge they’re always going to be there physically or not. All he has to do is take one look around the room before he’s reminded that this is now their home as much as it’s his.

What he had once been protective over, he now offers willingly. He doesn’t think he could ever go back to how things were before, not now that he’s gotten used to things being this way. He’s never said it out loud, but he’s fairly certain they can tell nevertheless. They used to be consciously careful around him, making sure not to overstep. The X-Files were always his, which they were very aware of, but once he started to let his guard down, so did they. There’s not really any more awkward or tense moments, at least not regarding the work they do; they’ve all accepted they all belong here.

He only hopes he won’t ruin it. For years he had tried his hardest not to let his feelings for Scully get in the way of things, and history is repeating itself. Only this time, there are two more people involved.

However, he’s starting to think it’s not just him. It can’t be. He sees it all — how Doggett goes out of his way to be near Reyes but deliberately keeps his distance from Scully in case Mulder perceives him as a threat, while also getting this look in his eye when Mulder riles him up that makes Mulder unsure if he’s about to be punched or kissed. (He always ends up being neither, but he can’t stop himself from hoping for the latter.)

How Reyes calls them Dana and John but still refers to him as Mulder because she knows it’s what he prefers.

How Scully holds them in the highest of regards, a result of the bond they had formed while he had been gone. It’s undeniable, there with every interaction they share.

So no, it can’t be just him.

Even if the others don’t have words for it, he knows they sense it too, how right it is when they’re all together. It’s as if they’re pieces of a puzzle, complementary and perfectly shaped for one another. It doesn’t make any sense, but Mulder finds he doesn’t really mind. When has anything in his life ever made sense, anyway? He’s seen his fair share of unexplainable things, but this one is by far the most curious.

He doesn’t know how exactly it would even work, but he’s let these feelings simmer for long enough to know there’s definitely something there. He’s lost so much he doesn’t think he could stand it if he ever lost them, but that’s the thing — being with them is worth the risk. They’re worth the risk.

He imagines Scully’s hand firmly in his, the touch of Doggett’s fingers on his jaw, Reyes so close he can almost taste her, and he wants. He wants them and everything they have to give, and he wants to give them everything he has in return. He wants to at least give it a try.

He’s never done anything like this before. It might not even be possible.

But he believes, in them and what they can start together.