She was now seriously worried about his state of mind. The problem was, she couldnít figure out what had sent him down this spiral. He wasnít working with the VCS; their own caseload was down. Sheíd thought at first that was the problem, not enough to keep him busy. Not anymore, something was wrong. He could barely drag himself into the office most mornings and nothing could get him to talk.
Sheíd even tried flirting; sheíd never do that again. She had no idea her ego was that fragile, but the rebuff was staggering.
So now she was going to do what she was trained to do. He was going to be her investigation. She would find out what was going on and how she could help. She had to; he had never needed her more. And by God, she was going to be there for him, whether he wanted it or not.
It hadnít been hard to follow him. He didnít really seem to care, leaving at five everyday. He had never left at five in all of the years sheíd known him, always one more thing to check into. Not now.
Sheíd thought he was working on something with the Gunmen and been prepared to follow him there and confront him. But that wasnít it. He would go home, change to jeans and a t-shirt and walk. That made it harder to follow him, but she was going to do this.
The neighborhood he walked to surprised her. This wasnít the kind of place Mulder would normally hang out. She wasnít that worried about his safety; he was armed and well trained, but still. . .
It wasnít the kind of place she could hang around unnoticed, so she had had to retreat that first night. The second night, she was better prepared for the place and dressed more in order as well. He went to the same diner and just sat, looking out the window. She hadnít had time to observe what he was watching the night before, now she could. The prostitutes. He was watching them with such intensity.
Fox Mulder did not need to hire women. She knew of a couple of dozen women at the Bureau who would jump if he snapped his fingers. And while she didnít want to count herself in that number, she knew that if he ever made such a move toward her, he would basically have no trouble. Damn it, Dana! Thatís not what this was about. He wasnít approaching the women, just watching. That made even less sense.
Surely she had missed something. Maybe he was investigating the pimp. That wasnít exactly FBI jurisdiction, but he could be doing someone a favor. No, this was bringing him too far down. This was the way he acted when he was profiling, which is why she discouraged it as strongly as she did. Whose head was he trying to get into here and why?
Suddenly he was up and leaving. She barely managed to turn away. She neednít have bothered, he didnít look left or right, just got out. What had happened? She had obviously missed something. He had to talk to her.
The next morning in the office she tried again to get him to open up. What was this? Had he fallen for some woman and then found out she was a pro? When would he have found time to meet someone, and why did it cause shooting pains in her body? He was entitled to have a woman in his life, just as she was entitled to have a man. Of course, she felt like Mulder was the man in her life, lacking though their relationship might be in some areas.
Without revealing that she was following him, she couldnít say too much, and he refused to say anything. Part of her wanted to shake him and another part wanted to take him in her arms and make it better. Since neither was a viable option she dropped it, more determined than ever to get more information that night.
It was the same again, as though he were drawn to that diner and that window. There seemed to be one woman he was especially interested in. She tried to ignore the sinking feeling in the pit of her stomach. This woman was fairly attractive, or would be if she were fixed up. The make-up and clothes were wrong for her. Mulder tensed every time she was approached. Come to think of it, she had left with someone last night just before his abrupt departure. Now Scully watched the woman more closely. What would she look like cleaned up? She didnít seem to be Mulderís type, though Scully wasnít totally convinced she could pick that out. It obviously wasnít redheads, but sheíd always figured him for blondes. This woman had long brunette hair, or she was wearing a wig.
She glanced back over at Mulder in that window, from her car parked in the shadows. Was that a tear? Was Mulder crying over this woman? Oh to hell with it, he needed help and she was damn well going to give it to him whether he wanted it or not.
She was able to enter the diner without him spotting her. Not true of the other patrons, but she was armed, it would be okay. He was sitting with his back to the door anyway, not wise and not at all like him.
He started violently when she touched his shoulder, turning and half rising from his seat.
"Scully! What the hell are you doing in a place like this!?" He hissed. He had hold of her now and was shoving her into the opposite side of the booth, immediately shielding her body from the rest of the room with his own.
"I had to know what was wrong, Mulder. You need help and I want to be here for you." In her eyes he could read her concern, but he didnít want to get into this, not even with her. Especially not with her.
"Letís get out of here. This is no place for you."
"Is it a place for you?"
"Come on, Scully. Iíll take you home."
"Sheís still out there. Do you want to wait?"
She would have gotten less reaction if she had shot him again. His entire face shut down and his grip on her arm became painful.
"Who is she, Mulder? Please, let me in."
He didnít speak, nearly yanking her from the booth. She pointed to her car when he had hauled her outside and he stuffed her into it and used his own key to start the engine. He stalled it twice before she finally spoke again.
"Mulder, maybe I better drive. I donít think. . . "
He had it going then and peeled out into the street, nearly hitting a wino that was stumbling their way. She shut up; she was buckled, as was he. Sheíd just hang on and hope he calmed down before he got them both killed.
She had obviously made a serious error in judgment. Sheíd overstepped her place in his life and it felt like she was being crushed by his silence. It had never been her intention to spy on him; she had wanted to help. Now. . . oh god, what had she done?
The trip to his apartment was made in total silence except for the sound of her tires squealing as he made turns and abrupt stops. He pulled into a space in front of his own building and hesitated only when he realized he had used his keys and had to stop the engine in order to get into his apartment. He threw the car in park, yanked his keys from the ignition and vaulted from the car, not saying a word.
She sat, not knowing what her next move should be. She had obviously damaged their relationship, and the trust he had in her. And she still didnít know why. Who was this woman? An old girlfriend? Someone heíd arrested so he blamed himself for how her life turned out? What?
Well, she couldnít make it worse, so she was going up there. If he wanted her out of his apartment, heíd have to throw her out bodily. She didnít even bother knocking, heíd never let her in. But her hands were shaking so that it took two tries to get the key in the lock. She took a deep breath to try to steady herself and entered.
He was on the couch, his face in his hands. Oh god, he was crying. Mulder was crying. She wasnít sure that he had heard her come in, but his gun was on the table, so heíd have time to recognize her if he went for it. If he didnít want to shoot her, that is.
"Mulder." She hesitated, then sat beside him on the couch.
"You really donít know how to take a hint, Scully." He didnít look at her, just wiped his eyes with his hands and turned to look out the window.
"I canít stand to see you like this, Mulder. You mean too much to me. Please, Mulder, talk to me. Why is she causing you this kind of pain?"
A shiver ran through him and he rose from the couch. He had to put distance between them, he could feel her caring, her love for him and he couldnít take it. He didnít deserve it.
"I canít talk to you about this, Scully. Just go home. Iím fine."
"Do you have any idea how it scares me that thereís something you canít tell me? I thought we trusted each other enough to share everything."
"Do you share everything with me? Did you share your feelings about your abduction, your cancer, Emily? No, you kept things to yourself and I let you. Why canít you do the same for me?"
She felt a little piece of her die at his words. Too much truth, yes she had kept things from him, but only to protect him. Was he trying to protect her? Sheíd done all she could, he wasnít going to let her in and sheíd been a fool to come here and try to force it. She rose from the couch and headed toward the door. Just before she reached for the knob she stopped.
"Iím sorry, Mulder. I didnít mean to intrude. But I have to say this, if she means that much to you, you should go to her." She watched his shoulders slump and turned back to the door. As she opened it he took a step toward her.
"Scully." She hesitated, then turned back to him. "Sheís Samantha."
It took a moment for the true horror he was facing to sink in. "Oh my god." She remembered to shut the door before approaching him, her mind traveling in several thousand directions at once.
"Mulder, are you sure? I mean, youíve thought you found her before." She couldnít resist touching his arm. Whatever comfort she could give was his.
"This oneís human, Scully." He wouldnít look at her, but at least he hadnít brushed away her hand.
"Let me do some testing, Mulder. DNA, do you have Samanthaís fingerprints?" He nodded. "Well?"
"Where did you see her? What made you go to that diner?"
"I got an email. I didnít believe it, but you know me, I had to check. I pulled her record. Itís actually quite colorful. Thatís when I ran the prints."
"Have you spoken to her?" She was unaware her hand was now caressing his arm.
He shook his head, "I donít think I could take it if she tried to solicit. . . " He couldnít repress the shudder that sent through him.
"Oh, Mulder." She led him back to the couch and sat beside him. "What do you know about her?"
"Just whatís in her record. Sheís been picked up for prostitution a dozen times, drug possession. She was on heroin, but apparently has been clean the last six months or so."
Scully closed her eyes; it was so hard to see him in this kind of pain. She knew he felt guilty, he firmly believed that she had been chosen instead of him for unknown reasons.
"Mulder." She pulled his head down to her shoulder and held him as he lost complete control, sobbing and clutching her to him.
It was several minutes before he had control enough to speak. "I canít. . . Scully, I canít stand it. Why should she have had a life like that? She was just an innocent little girl. Why didnít they take me, I was older, I could have. . . "
"Mulder, I donít know what to say to you. I canít even imagine the pain this is causing you. Let me talk to her, you donít have to be there."
"No." He made a half-hearted attempt to pull away from her, but when her arms tightened around him he stopped.
"It has to be done. You canít go on like this; itís killing you." He knew she was right, but he hadnít wanted to drag her into this. "I want you to put this aside for tonight, Mulder. When did you last sleep?"
"I donít know. For more than an hour? Days."
"You should take something. . . "
"Scully, I donít want to take anything. It doesnít help."
"Iíll stay. You shouldnít be alone."
He looked at her, her compassion flowing into him. He hadnít wanted her to know. But he couldnít remember why. He already felt like he could survive this again. With her.
"Mulder, go take a shower, get ready for bed. Iíll fix you a sandwich."
"Iím not. . . "
"Hungry." She finished for him. "Eat anyway. Go on." She tugged him to his feet. "Itíll make you feel better."
He gave her a sad smile. He shouldnít, but he needed her to stay with him tonight. He needed her to keep the nightmares away, at least for one night.
He came back toweling his hair, wearing only his sweat pants. Once he got his hair dry enough, he slipped on a t-shirt. "All you had was tuna. I cut off the crusts and made iced tea."
He wanted to make a quip, some joke no matter how lame, but his emotions were too raw, too close. She understood, nodding slightly and brought his food over to him. They didnít talk, but the silence was comfortable again.
She expected him to watch TV while she cleaned the kitchen. It desperately needed it, but he followed her and rinsed and dried while she washed. It occurred to her that he didnít want to be alone, but decided she was overanalyzing and pushed the thought aside.
Once they were back in the other room, he started pacing, words flowing from him. "She needs money, Scully. She wouldnít do. . . that, if it werenít for the money. The money Dad left me should be hers. Then she wonít have to. . . "
"Mulder." At least he stopped pacing long enough to look at her. "You canít give her money. If this really is Samantha. . . " She watched his shoulders stiffen. "Mulder, Iím not saying she isnít, but we have to check. But you canít just give her money. Sheís been off of heroin for six months, how long will that last if sheís suddenly given a large sum of money. Once weíre sure, we can help her. She could go to school, get a job away from here."
"She might want a fresh start. Be where she wouldnít be recognized." He flinched slightly at that.
"We know people all over the country. We could find a school, someplace. . . "
"I may have come to the search twenty years late, but itís my search now too."
"Scully." He didnít have any other words. He was awfully afraid he was going to cry again. She patted the couch beside her.
"Youíve got to get some rest, Mulder. Come on, let me rub your shoulders." He didnít speak, but he did join her. She pulled him down to rest on her shoulder, rubbing his arm lightly.
It took a moment to orient herself when she woke. Oh yeah, she had fallen asleep on Mulderís couch with Mulder. Well, under Mulder actually, it seemed. For two people who were used to sleeping alone, they had done a damn fine job of accommodating each other on this couch. He was nearly wrapped around her, his head on her breasts. She really should move, but even as the thought came to her he seemed to sense it and tightened his arms around her.
Oh well, nothing had happened, except heíd apparently gotten some peaceful sleep for a change. Now he seemed to be dreaming, "Um, Scu. . . " He pressed his erection harder into her thigh, hiking his leg up for a better connection and his hand began caressing her breast.
She couldnít move. She knew she populated his nightmares, but not this kind of dream. Well, he was asleep, she couldnít blame him for what he dreamed and he didnít have to know how much she was enjoying it. Her hand found its way into his hair; he seemed to like that. Now he was nuzzling her breasts. She had to put a stop to this, she was enjoying it way too much and, face it, she was taking advantage of him when he was vulnerable. He had never wanted this before.
"Mulder, Mulder you need to wake up." He protested that in nonsense terms, his body molding even closer to hers. In a minute heíd be inside her skin, one way or another. . . stop this, Dana.
She shook him lightly. "Mulder, its morning." He was kissing her throat now, moving up. His lips canceled her next words; her eyes opened wide in astonishment. Was he good at everything?
His eyes finally started opening as hers began drifting shut. Oh what the hell, theyíd straighten this out later, she decided.
As his mind finally began to process that this was real life and he really was lying atop Dana Scully he tensed. Not a good idea, part of him was tense enough already, thank you. Now what should he do? Leap to the other side of the room? He managed to look at her and she didnít shy away, or even look angry.
"Did you sleep well?" She didnít dare show amusement.
"Uh, probably the best ever." He swallowed, "Listen Scully. . "
"Me too. Now I understand why you never use the bed. Itís very comfortable here. But I think we better be getting ready for work now. We have things to do."
He gazed into her eyes, he wasnít alone. He hadnít been for a long time he realized. If she could do this for him now, make him feel better now. . . well he was going to try to see how she really felt about this couch of his very very damn soon.
They made it to work only a little late and he handed her the copy of the police record he had made. She tried to keep her features impassive as she read the information. He was so focused on her reactions and she needed to protect him, for now anyway.
"Mulder, let me go talk to her. You donít need to put yourself through this. I could. . . "
"Scully." He shook his head and she sighed. She wasnít surprised.
"When do you want to go?"
"Youíre assuming this is a correct address."
"It is." She didnít ask how he knew.
Links to other sites on the Web
Findings - Part 2
Findings - Part 3
Disclaimer - Mulder, Scully, the Lone Gunman and Skinner all belong to Chris Carter,10-13 and Fox. No infringement intended.