Take You Home

He was waiting patiently for her when she limped from her hospital room and into the main foyer. He let the magazine he'd been reading drop to the table next to him the second he saw her and grabbing his coat, he stood.

She smiled at him weakly and walked up to him. He didn't take his eyes off her for a second almost as if he was afraid that if he looked away she'd break. Perhaps he was afraid of that. She couldn't tell. He was difficult to read at the best of times.

"Skinner," she said in greeting. She carefully masked any emotions she herself was feeling with a blank look. She'd had enough sympathy to last her a lifetime in the space of an hour and did not desire any more, even from him. Especially from him.

His eyes surveyed her quickly, taking in the thick white bandages covering her latest injuries. "Are you ready to go?" he asked. He didn't ask her if she was okay and she was grateful for that. He'd already asked her earlier how she was doing. (She'd told him "I'm fine", though the look in his eyes clearly showed that he didn't believe her. He had offered her a lift home from the hospital then and since Mulder wasn't around, she had reluctantly agreed.)

"Yes," she nodded. "Yes, I am." She tucked an errant strand of red hair behind one ear and ran her tongue over her bottom lip.

"Let's go then. The car's out front." He waited for her to start walking again and fell into step beside her. If his hand brushed hers and lingered for a moment too long it was only to comfort her that he was there for her, a friend. If she liked the way he didn't move it straight away it was only because she needed to feel human contact and it was the perfect distraction from her multiple injuries.

They arrived at his car in less than a minute and he held the door open for her with a small smirk in place. She frowned and shook her head slightly but didn't comment. If he needed to open the door for her to feel helpful, then so be it. She climbed into the car and let him close the door behind her.

For the five or so seconds it took him to move around to the driver's side of the car and open the door, she closed her eyes and listened to the silence. It was a foreign sound. She hadn't had the pleasure of listening to silence in a few weeks.

The door swung open and closed then and the illusion of peace was shattered for the moment.

"If you're up for it," he said quietly, "we could grab something to eat on the way back to your place." He started the engine and pulled out of the parking lot.

She took note of how hopeful he sounded but didn't allow herself to feel guilty when she let him down. Why should she feel guilty? "That sounds great, sir, but I have to say no this time." She paused. "I think I just want to go to bed."

"You should eat," he tried.

"I'll make myself a sandwich before I crash."

He studied her intently for a moment and then nodded. "Very well. I'll take you straight home."

She smiled softly at him and placed a hand on his arm. His warmth seemed to sink into the tips of her fingers. "Thank you."

They look he gave her suggested it was no problem at all. He wanted to be there for her. "Any time," he said. "Any time."

fin.