So, I was completely blown away with the response to 'Reprimands and Consequences', thank you all so much for the reviews! I'm excitedly working on other stories, this is just a quick one that came to mind after watching "Rain King". Thanks for reading, and please review!
"Stargaze: to have a daydream; indulge in a fantasy" -WordNet, Princeton University
Damn it! Stop that!
Mulder scolded himself for the hundredth time that week as he tore himself away from his partner's bright blue eyes.
He didn't gaze at Scully, at least that's what he'd been trying to prove to himself all week. All he'd succeeded in doing was confusing himself about the difference between eye contact and gazing.
They kept eye contact when they spoke, and that was normal. Part of their communication was based on interpreting the expressions in each others eyes, and letting their thoughts show through their own eyes. The best partners learned how to communicate silently, and he and Scully were pros. That was it.
Then why was he so desperate to prove Holman Hardt was wrong?
Because, damn it, he did not gaze at Scully!
It had been a very stressful week trying to prove that, and he was pretty sure Scully was starting to wonder about him. He almost laughed at that thought. He could start raving about aliens and government conspiracies and she wouldn't bat an eye, but he gets a little twitchy and she knows something it wrong. He looked down at his paperwork, not even really seeing it.
"Mulder, is something wrong?" Right on cue.
"No, why?" He looked across the desk at her, trying to appear normal.
"Because, you've been acting bizarre since we got back from Kansas." She frowned, the proverbial lightbulb seeming to go off in her head. "Mulder, did something happen in Kansas that you didn't mention?"
"Nope." That was eloquent.
Still frowning, she studied him, her features tensing as if she didn't quite trust him. "It is you, right?"
"Who else would it be?"
"Given our history? Anyone." She arched an eyebrow.
"It's me, no body switching or monkey-men here," he said leaning back, smiling.
Eyebrows still raised, lips pursed, she wasn't completely convinced. "Okay, but just to make sure...when I came back from my abduction, you gave me something, something you'd been holding it for me, what was it?"
Mulder sat up straight, and without looking away from her eyes, leaned forward, getting within inches of her face. He could feel the air around her pulsing with tension. Reaching a hand forward, he lifted the tiny gold cross off her throat, fingers brushing her skin. He felt the galloping flutter of her pulse beneath her skin.
His heart was challenging hers to the finish line.
Scully placed her hand over his, slipping her cross off his fingers, and letting it drop back to her throat. Mulder watched her throat move as she swallowed; they still hadn't broken eye contact. Then he realized.
He was gazing.
Damn it! Shit! Stop it, stop it!
Mulder broke eye contact abruptly, looking down at the desk, cursing and flagellating himself. He jumped up, and avoiding eye contact with Scully, and practically ran out of the office. Now, she was really going to think he was nuts.
He went up two floors and found a vending machine, put in a dollar, and was rewarded with a bag of sunflower seeds. He spent the elevator ride back to the basement tapping a hand on his thigh, and crinkling the bag. Once in the basement, he turned away from the office, and went toward the large storage area, where he began to pacing like starving lion trapped in a cage.
Back and forth, sunflower seeds hanging from one hand, the other alternately going from his hip to the top of the bag, as if to open it. Mulder was rarely so twitchy, though those moments when he was usually involved Scully. Scully being abducted, Scully being kidnapped, Scully dying of cancer, in the hospital after a case, refusing to tell him what was bothering her, being unable to get in touch with her, and on and on.
This was the first time he was anxious because he was trying not to 'gaze' at her. No, that wasn't true, he wasn't gazing at her. He was just maintaining eye contact, it was professional and respectful. Eye contact told the other person you were listening. Of course, back there they weren't exactly talking, but the principle still held.
It wasn't gazing.
Mulder didn't gaze.
Having sufficiently convinced himself once again that Holman Hardt was wrong, Mulder stopped his fidgeting and pacing. Purposefully, calmly, professionally, he walked back toward the X Files office, stopping at the door before entering.
Scully had her back mostly toward the door, but not so much that he couldn't see her profile. She held a hand up to her mouth, a pen suspended between her fingers, and was reading a case file. She used the same hand to sweep a few loose locks of hair behind her ear, her eyes never leaving the page. She seemed comfortable, and completed involved in the file in front of her.
"Mulder? Why are you standing there watching me?" She didn't look up from the page, but must have sensed him there.
Mulder hung his head. Son. Of. A. Bitch.
Who the hell was he kidding? He gazed at his partner. But, it wasn't that kind of gazing. It was...friendly gazing. Yes, he gazed at Scully in a friendly, partnerly, respectful way.
There was nothing wrong with that...right?
Suddenly she was in front of him, eying him with concern. "Seriously Mulder, what's going on with you?"
His shoulders slumped to match his bowed head. Now, how the hell was he going to explain this?