"It's game seven of the finals, four seconds left in the last quarter. The Knicks are down by two points. Fox Mulder has the ball. He fakes right. He fakes left. He's at half court. He shoots! He misses! Shit!"

The Nerf ball rebounded and he scrambled to retrieve it. Returning to half court, he put his back to the hoop and pretended to dribble, checking over his shoulder for sneaky guards.

"Game seven of the finals. The Knicks are down by two points. Four seconds left in the last quarter, and Fox Mulder has the ball. He fakes right. He fakes left. He fakes right again! He shoots! He scores! New York wins the championship!" He made crowd noises behind one hand. The office door opened and Scully clicked in, Friday casual and showing some leg.

"I've still got it, Scully." He scooped the ball up from the floor and tried unsuccessfully to spin it on his finger. She threw him a look that implied whatever it was he had wasn't worth having, and he decided to cut his losses and change the subject. "So, happy birthday," he said, sitting down at his desk and kicking his feet up on the blotter. "How does it feel to be thirty-six?"

Scully sat down on the other side of the desk and crossed her legs. She leaned back in the chair and the slit in her skirt peeled apart to show an angle of thigh. "Come on, Mulder, you remember thirty-six. Reagan was in office, right?" He wondered what the back of her knees tasted like and she tilted her head. "You ready to go?"

"Why haven't you fallen in love with me yet?" he asked.

"Oh but I have," she said, idly adjusting an earring.

"Oh yeah?"

She tossed a book onto the desk frisbee-style. "Sure, Mulder. Who wouldn't be in love with you?"

He started to pull the book across the desk toward him and then changed his mind. "Come on. Don't make fun of the elderly," he said. "What's wrong with me?"

"Do you even have to ask that question?"

He prodded his glasses with his pencil like they were contagious.

"They're reading glasses. You've always had reading glasses."

He frowned. "Yeah, but these are twice as strong as the pair I got last year. I'm old and ugly and falling apart at the seams."

"Are you serious, or are you just fishing?"

He said nothing.

Scully sighed. "Come on, Mulder. You know you're gorgeous. You use mousse! You parade around in your expensive pants pretending not to care when everyone stares at your fabulous ass. Your looks are not the problem. No, Mulder, what's wrong with you is that you're completely psychotic -- totally incomprehensible half the time and unfathomably aggravating the other half."

"You think I have a fabulous ass?"


"So how come you're not in love with me?"

She studied the wall behind him for a moment. There was a photograph there, the two of them, she looking skeptical and he amused. She returned to his face. "Am I supposed to be?"

He made his staple remover chomp in her direction several times before he replied. "It'd be nice," he said.

She laced her fingers together in her lap and squinted. "We've worked together for seven years, and there's an undeniable intimacy there, and, yes, an attraction, too."

There was a leer crawling along his smile and she pegged him with the Nerf ball.

"Look, I think at this point no one else could stand me but you, and we already know few people can tolerate your specific brand of lunacy, but I am not in love with you."

"Oh," he said.

"Now, aren't you supposed to be buying me a beer?"

"I am," he said, sighing and putting his glasses on. "Lemme sign this thing."

Scully got up from her chair to perch on the edge of his desk. He stopped writing and looked up. "Besides," she said, licking her lips. "You look hot, in your glasses."