"Can you stay for a while?" Mulder asked.
"I suppose," Alex answered. "I don't think anybody even knows I'm in town yet."
Mulder nodded absently, scanning Alex's face, memorizing the changes since the last time they'd met. After a moment he realized he was still nodding and shook himself. "Hungry?"
"I could eat."
"I can call for delivery. Why don't you go take a shower? You look pretty beat."
"Okay," Alex agreed, "thanks."
"I'll get you something clean to wear," Mulder brushed past him and lead him to the bedroom. He rummaged in a drawer of the dresser and pulled out some gray sweats and a t-shirt. He handed them off to Alex and opened a higher drawer. "You want some underwear?"
"Isn't that getting a bit too intimate?" Alex quirked a corner of his mouth in a half-hearted attempt at humor.
Mulder stiffened, his faced wiped clean of all expression. "You want 'em or not?" he demanded.
Alex's stomach fell as flat as his lame joke had. "Yeah, thanks." He took his borrowed clothes and closed himself into the bathroom.
Mulder felt regret churning in his own stomach. Slowly, silently, he went to the bathroom door and pressed his forehead into the wood. Through the barrier he could hear the rustle of clothing as Alex undressed.
"Alex, I'm sorry," he said. The silence in the next room told him he'd been heard. He pressed his palm to the wood beside his head, broadcasting his regret with all his lost telepathy.
"I know you are, Mulder," Alex answered. "It's okay, we're okay."
Mulder breathed again, then asked, "any requests for supper?"
"I'd kiss Skinner for a decent pizza," Alex answered, the words light, laden with an ancient inside joke.
Mulder, still pressed against the outside of the door, smiled at the shared memory. "I wouldn't be so cruel to make you go that far." Alex's deep chuckle settled his stomach and lifted his heart. "Pizza it is," he agreed. He heard the water turn on and left to call in the order.
Alex finally emerged shortly before the pizza. Mulder brought two beers into the living room and together they sat on the rug in front of the couch to eat from the coffee table.
"Anything good on?" Alex asked.
Mulder tuned in to the channel guide and they watched a moment. "Unsolved Mysteries rerun?" he asked.
"Any of your cases make that show?" Alex asked.
"Bite me," Mulder grinned, not taking his eyes off the TV. "America's Funniest Videos?"
"Well," Alex hedged. "Maybe if there's nothing else on."
"The Train Robbers."
"Hey, yeah, I can watch a John Wayne."
"The Duke it is," Mulder agreed.
They worked their way through the whole pizza and resettled themselves on the couch, slouched way down on the cushions and feet propped on the coffee table. A couple of beers a piece later, the movie ended and Mulder noticed Alex was asleep. He jiggled his good shoulder a little and called Alex's name. Another stronger jiggle and Alex came awake with a jolt. His eyes flashed around the room, taking in where he was and who with before relaxing again.
"It's late," Mulder said.
"Yeah, okay," Alex agreed and got up. He went through Mulder's bedroom to gather his clothes left on the bathroom floor. He straightened up, turned, and nearly bumped into Mulder who'd followed him.
Mulder was staring at the few inches of arm that showed below the left sleeve of Alex's shirt. He reached out slowly and cupped his hand around cap of scarred tissue. "Damn," Mulder muttered.
Alex looked away from the sadness and pain in Mulder's eyes. "Don't you dare pity me, Mulder," he warned.
"Can I pity myself?" Mulder asked.
Alex looked back at him in confusion. "What?"
Mulder slowly lowered his head to rest on Alex's left shoulder. Him thumb stroked repeatedly over one of the more prominent wheals on his arm. Alex held himself rigid. They never did this touchy feely crap.
"I sometimes have this dream," Mulder began. "When things are really shitty I sometimes dream you're with me. We never say anything, you just hug me tight with your two arms and I always feel better." Mulder turned his face into Alex's neck. "I'm feeling really sorry for myself that I'll never know what that feels like in real life." Alex dropped his clothes and wrapped his one remaining arm around Mulder as hard as he could. "Stay," Mulder whispered.