The neighborhood was a place she wouldnít have come to alone. In spite of everything she was glad Mulder was there beside her. The elevator wasnít working, so they climbed the three flights to the apartment. They were both dragging their feet but finally stood in front of the door.
Scully stood in the center of the door, moving Mulder to the side. She knocked firmly and after a few minutes knocked again. She turned to Mulder and started to speak. The door opened slightly and the woman Scully had observed the evening before looked out.
The night had been kind to her. In daylight her life showed in her face. She looked Scully up and down suspiciously, then spotted Mulder. The change was immediate. Her back arched and she inhaled, showing her breasts to their best advantage. She was wearing very little, a teddy and robe, if you could call it that. It was translucent with fake leopard skin trim. One of the seams was torn and Scully supposed it was meant to look sexy. It only looked sad. But her eyes. . . her eyes were Mulderís eyes. So beautiful. Scully had to clamp down on the sob that threatened to escape her. Stay in control, Dana, you have to for him.
"Well, hello." She had lowered her voice to sound sexier no doubt. She allowed the robe to drop from her shoulder and Mulder looked away. He desperately wanted to cover her up, not to have to see her like that.
He couldnít speak so Scully stepped between them again and placed her hand on the door to prevent the woman from closing it.
"What? You want a threesome? Itíll cost extra."
Mulder flinched, but Scully squared her shoulders. "Weíre with the FBI. We need to ask you some questions."
"FBI?" The door was jerked open to reveal the man in the apartment with her.
If Scully had been casting the role of pimp, this is the man she would have chosen. He was only about 5í6", long greasy hair in a ponytail. Tattoos on both arms, making her own back tingle. He was shirtless and his jeans were barely held up by his hips, unbuttoned and as far as she could tell, no underwear.
It was pretty obvious she and Mulder had interrupted them and they had thrown on just enough to come to the door. Mulder wasnít sure which urge was stronger - to throw up or to slug him. He became aware of Scully's hand on his arm.
Scully held up her badge. "Are you Sally Cooke?"
"Why do you want to know?" He wouldnít let the woman answer.
"Miss Cooke could be a material witness in a missing persons case."
"I prefer Jasmine." She pulled the robe back up over her shoulder.
"Is she under arrest?"
"No sir. We just want to ask her a few questions." They had originally planned to question her here. Now they couldnít. She wasnít going to let Mulder go into that room. She could see the bed from where she stood now that the door was open, and she could smell the activity.
Heíd lose his mind in there. She should have insisted he not come.
"We need Miss Cooke to come downtown to answer a few questions. If you prevent that, we can return with a warrant. It would, however, look better if she cooperated."
Mulder glanced at her. He still hadnít spoken. She was changing the plans. It was probably to protect him, he decided, but he had to trust her. He could not handle this. Even he knew that at this point.
"Well?" She needed to move this along. Mulder was beginning to tremble though he hadnít seemed to notice.
The short man jerked his head toward the apartment. "Get dressed, Jazz. You can go with them. Iíll pick you up in an hour."
She nodded and retreated into the room. Mulder also retreated to the far side of the hall, as far from the open door as he could get.
The pimp paid no attention to him, but began to assess Scully, giving her a complete once over with his eyes. When he took a step towards her Mulder was merely a blur coming between them, shoving the smaller man against the door jam.
"Mulder!" She grabbed his arm. "Itís okay, Mulder." Where was the woman? She had to get him out of here.
"Lloyd! What is it?" Sheíd thrown on a dress, taking only the time to put on her push-up bra. Scully was fairly certain she wore no panties under that dress.
"Come on." She took the womanís arm. She wanted, hell she needed to take his, but she couldnít. Not now. At least she could hurry this procession up a little.
She placed Sally in the backseat and noted that Mulder didnít even attempt to take the driverís side.
"I told you, I prefer Jasmine."
"Fine. How long have you been with Lloyd?"
"Does the hunk here not speak?" Mulder stiffened but didnít turn around.
"Sal. . . Jasmine, please could you answer my question?"
"Couple Ďa years. He inherited a bunch of us when Roland bought it. Whatís that got to do with a missing person?"
"We need to know how long youíve been in DC."
"íBout four years." Mulder turned away to look out the window.
"Atlanta. Look, whatís this about? Am I in some kind of trouble?"
"How long were you in Atlanta?"
"As far back as I can remember."
He turned to look at Scully then.
"How far is that?"
She looked between the two of them again. "Since I was twelve. Are you going to tell me whoís missing?" Those two were looking at each other again. "What is he, psychic? You two donít need to talk?"
He finally turned toward her. "You donít remember before you were twelve?"
"What do you care?"
"Itís part of the case weíre working on, Jasmine. You could be a big help to us." Scully was doing the talking again. "When we get to the office weíre going to show you some pictures and see what you can remember."
"Yeah, whatever." Jasmine subsided in the back and silently watched the traffic.
When they had her in an interrogation room, Mulder found he could not sit, could barely face her. Scully spread several pictures of Samantha on the table in front of her.
"Do you know this girl?"
Jasmine glanced at them. "No."
Mulder leaned on the table, forcing himself to look at her. "Please look again. Does she seem at all familiar?"
She sighed and picked up the photos, giving them a closer look. "Look, Iím sorry. I donít take Johns with kids along. I havenít seen her."
"Were you born in Atlanta?"
"I donít know."
"What do you mean, you donít know?" Scully asked.
"Listen, I donít know where I came from, okay? They found me on the streets of Atlanta. They put me in foster care and forgot about me."
"Foster. . . foster care. How. . . how was that?"
"Just peachy. The first guy waited three whole weeks before he raped me."
Mulder turned away again.
"Did anyone try to find out who you were?" Scully took over again.
"I guess they tried, a little. No one ever told me. They just kept moving me from one foster home to another until I ran away for good. What does this have to do with the girl in the picture?"
"Her name is Samantha Mulder."
She glanced over at Mulder. "Your daughter?"
"Sister." He spoke with no emotion.
"Geez, how old is your mother?"
"Jasmine, this girl disappeared in 1973."
"And youíre still looking for her? Give it up, man. Okay, okay, so you think maybe she was in foster care with me? Well I donít remember her and I usually hung around long enough to meet the other kids."
"Could you. . . "
"Mulder!" Scully stood, "Could I see you outside?" He hung his head and proceeded her out the door. Once outside she put her hand on his arm. "Donít, Mulder. Not yet. Lloyd could use this information against you and her. Let me do the DNA testing first. Iím not going to ask for a blood sample, thatís giving too much away, but I can use hair and she wonít have to know it."
He looked at the wall behind her and nodded. He turned back toward the door. "Donít, Mulder. Go to the office, Iíll meet you there."
For once he listened to her and turned away. Scully reentered the room and told Jasmine she was free to go, but to make herself available for further questioning. She then put her hand on Jasmineís back, to help her to her feet, getting her ring entangled in Jasmineís hair in the process.
"Wait, Iím sorry, my ringís caught."
"Oh, thatís okay. You got it?"
"Yes, thanks. Listen, just between us, is Lloyd good to you? I mean, he doesnít hit you or anything?"
"Lloyd? Heís no better or worse than most of them. But I guess you donít know about that. He doesnít hit us usually, doesnít want to damage the merchandise. He does let us keep a little money back - he hopes we use it for drugs, but Iím saving mine now. I really donít want to go through the withdrawal again. Iíve got a bank account and everything, but he donít know."
"I think thatís a good idea, Jasmine. Hereís my card. If you need anything, or if you remember anything about Samantha, would you call me?"
"Sure. Is he okay? I mean 25 years of looking for a little girl? He doesnít really think sheís still alive does he?"
"He just needs to know what happened to her. It would give him some peace, I think."
"Do you think heíll find her?"
"Heís never going to find the little girl that was taken from his home that night. She doesnít exist anymore."
"Yeah, I guess thatís right. He must have really loved her."
"He still does."
Scully took the several strands of hair she had gotten from Jasmine by the lab on her way to check on Mulder.
"Tom, I need a DNA analysis on these hairs as soon as possible."
"Iíll see what I can do, Dr. Scully. Do you have a case number?"
"Itís an X-File, Iíll get it to you as soon as I can."
Tom grinned, he really preferred to work on their cases. They were so unpredictable and having her drop by the lab was no hardship. "Iíll get right on it."
"Thanks, Tom." She hurried on to the office. Mulder had been alone too long.
He was in the office, staring into space. "Mulder?" He didnít respond. He didnít even seem to hear her. Oh god, could his mind take this? It had to; she had to save him. If she could figure out a way.
She moved closer, not wanting to startle him but desperately wanting to comfort him. "Mulder?"
"Is she gone?" he spoke clearly, no emotion in his voice.
"Yes. Are you okay?"
He ignored that. "Did you get the samples you needed?"
"Theyíre in the lab now. Come on, you need to get out of here."
"And go where, Scully?" He was right, there wasnít a place he could go to get away from this horror. It was with him, inside of him, and it was eating him alive. Before she could formulate a response he spoke again. "Iíve been thinking about how I take her home and introduce her to Mom. Wonít that be a trip, Scully? Momís always been on the cold side, wonder how sheíll feel about this."
"Why, Scully? Shouldnít I look for the humor in the situation? How would your Mom feel about finding her daughter like this?"
Scully decided not to answer that. Her mother would be delighted to find her daughter alive no matter the circumstances. He was right about his own, though, she wouldnít handle it in the same way. "Come on, Mulder. Letís get out of here. Weíll go to my place, you can rest and I can work from there."
"Iím not tired, Scully."
"You need to get out of here anyway. Come on." She took his coat off the hanger and handed it to him. "Come on."
He watched her approach him. She was trying so hard to help. He knew it, and he needed to accept it. After last night. . . she had helped him so much last night. Maybe she was right; itís not like he was accomplishing anything here.
He rose to his feet, towering over her, but feeling dwarfed by her strength and compassion. He took his jacket from her hand and followed her out the door.
He really hadnít spent all that much time at Scullyís apartment. Even when he was here, he only saw the living room. This time it was daylight and he wasnít drowsy, so he wandered into the kitchen. Clean, neat, a table! Why did they always eat at her coffee table when he was here? Maybe she thought heíd be more comfortable. He owned a table - okay there was no room to eat on it, but he had one. Iced tea. He poured himself a glass, then one for her and took it out to her.
"Thanks, Mulder. Making yourself at home?"
"Not at all. Mi casa es su casa." He smiled down at her, he wished he could really take her up on that. Heíd never leave. This place felt like a home, not a ceiling and walls like his place. And his kitchen - he was confident he didnít even own a Jell-o mold. He wouldnít know what to do with one anyway.
This was good, keeping his mind on Scully and her real life. She was smarter than he was - at least about real things.
It was after four when Scully heard from the lab. The email from Tom held information she didnít want to hear. She hated to admit it, but sheíd been almost hoping for something unexplainable in the cellular DNA. This was completely straightforward. Now she needed to compare it to Mulderís. Not the kind of thing she could trust to anyone else. She needed to go down to the office but could she leave him alone? Heíd acted fine all afternoon, but she wasnít naÔve enough to think he really was okay. Theyíd been playing house - a mini vacation for him.
Now she was going to have to bring him back to the present. There was no need for him to accompany her. He would be better off staying here. He certainly couldnít help with the tests she was going to run, but would he listen to her?
"Mulder, I need to run back to the office for a little while. Why donít you hang around here? I wonít be long."
He couldnít really want to watch her work, and he knew it would take awhile. This stuff always bored him. But here he was, not underfoot but here. It was like in his kitchen the night before. He just didnít want to be alone. Mulder was the biggest loner sheíd ever met; this only showed how shaken he was with the revelations theyíd found.
She was now on the computer waiting for the results. When her answers came up she realized her shock was showing on her face and he was headed toward her.
"Let me study this, Mulder."
"No! Tell me what you see."
"She is your sister, but I need to look at some other things."
"Is she my sister, Scully, or my half-sister?"
Her eyes widened, had she revealed that much?
"Mulder, I. . . "
"I donít want to know anymore, Scully. Not about this."
She would not cry, not in front of him. But that admission, he didnít want to know more. She never thought sheíd hear Mulder say that. She couldnít think of anything to say, so she closed down her computer and packed her samples into her briefcase. This was not the kind of thing she could leave here.
She held out her hand and he took it, gripping it like he would never let go. "Letís go home, Mulder." He nodded, too exhausted to speak. Once again she drove and headed back to her own apartment. They were silent on the drive. She couldnít even imagine what he was thinking but she was so frightened for him.
She led him to her apartment and took his jacket. "I want you to take a shower, Mulder, try to relax." He didnít answer, but went on into her bathroom when she pointed him that way. She heard the water go on and turned to go into the kitchen. She fixed him some hot tea and laced it liberally with bourbon. Since he didnít drink as a rule, maybe it would relax him. She sank into the chair and sat staring at the mugs, not seeing them at all. Could he recover from this? And as selfish as it sounded, what would she do if he couldnít?
She didnít hear him enter the room, but felt his hands on her shoulders, rubbing them, giving her comfort. She turned to look up at him. "Feel better?"
He shrugged and slipped into the chair beside her. He had slipped back on his sweatpants, but no shirt. She handed him his mug of tea and watched his eyes widen after the first sip.
"You think I need this?"
"I think you need to relax and get some sleep. A hot toddy wonít hurt."
"I take it Iím not driving anywhere."
"No. Youíre in for the night."
He nodded and fell silent again, sipping at the warm beverage.
"Iím going to take a bath, if you left me any hot water. Make yourself at home." She rose from the chair and his hand caught hers. She stopped, wondering what he wanted but she couldnít read his eyes. She gave him a questioning smile to which he responded with an almost imperceptible nod. Then he let go of her hand and she took her mug with her to the bathroom.
She heard the TV go on as she sank down in the hot scented water. The bathroom was already steamy from his shower and she could imagine him standing in here, the water sluicing down his body, trying to remove the dirt that had clung to him this day. Had it only been this morning that she had woken in his apartment? It felt like at least a week. She didnít even realize she was crying until a tear splashed onto her breast. No way could she let him see her like this. She had to be strong for him, help him, but sheíd never felt more helpless.
Scully forced herself from the tub and wrapped her robe around her. She took a deep breath and opened the door. Immediately she felt his eyes on her, but he said nothing, just watched her walk to her bedroom. She dressed in t-shirt and boxers then wrapped herself again in her robe and joined him in front of the TV.
"I donít know about you, but the drink is making me sleepy." Scully tried to hide her yawn.
"Go on to bed. Iíll make sure everythingís locked up."
"No, I want to stay here with you. If I fall asleep, who cares." His eyes were locked onto hers again and she barely managed to repress the shudder that caused. He tucked her up against him, his chin resting on her hair and turned back to the TV. He hadnít protested her desire to stay beside him, accepting her presence as it was meant.
She woke to the feeling of floating through the air and realized he was carrying her to bed, rather than wake her. He placed her gently on the bed and loosened the sash from her robe. She helped to shrug it off and as he turned to leave, took his hand and scooted over in the bed to give him room.
He looked at her for a moment, then removed his sweat pants and crawled in beside her, again pulling her close to him.
She woke to his agitated movements. He wasnít crying out, unusual for him, just fighting the dream physically. Then she spotted the tears running down his face. Her heart broke for the pain he was in and she drew him closer to her, rocking him, murmuring loving sounds into his ear. He began to calm down and slip back into a more peaceful sleep.
Scully lay awake, watching him sleep, knowing she was bringing him some rest, some security. When she woke the next morning, he wasnít in the bed and she felt a moment of panic until she heard him approaching the door.
He pushed it open with his hip, both hands occupied with hot coffee. He had put back on his sweatpants, but hadnít bothered yet with razor or brush. He smiled when he saw she was awake and sat carefully beside her, giving her time to sit up before handing her the cup.
"Thanks." She took a sip. Perfect.
"My one culinary achievement. But itís you that deserves the thanks."
"These last two nights, having you. . . with me. I think itís the only reason I survived."
"Mulder. . . " He held up his hand.
"Iím going to Atlanta, Scully. I do need to know some things, even if I canít face everything right now. I wanted you to know where Iíd. . . "
"When do we leave?"
She watched him sag with relief. "I didnít want to assume. . ."
"Like you could ditch me now." She smiled up at him and it took all of his remaining strength not to throw her down and kiss her until they both were fighting for breath. Not now, not yet. Heíd come to realize over the last couple of days that his feelings for her were way beyond his control, if they ever had been.
The problem was he felt he had less and less to offer a woman, any woman, but especially this one. He pushed that aside; he had to deal with this now, Atlanta, Samantha. He couldnít handle any more, he just hoped she understood.
Her hand brushed against the stubble on his cheek. He closed his eyes and leaned into her palm, unabashedly drinking in her strength.
After a few moments she broke the silence. "Mulder? Whenís our flight?"
"Um? Oh, in a couple of hours. Iím going to need to go by my apartment on the way."
"Okay, I pack quickly, let me get dressed." When he didnít make a move to rise, she placed her finger under his chin. "Go in the other room, Mulder. There are a couple of things I canít let you watch, yet."
It took a second for her words to sink in, when they did he found himself unable to rise. Yet? Had she really said yet? For the first time in days she saw a smile, a real smile, grow on his face.
"Go on. Or weíll miss our plane." This time he obeyed her, rising to his feet and taking her cup from her hands. He retreated from the bedroom with a much lighter step than when he entered.
He washed the cups waiting for her to emerge from her room. This trip wasnít going to be easy for either of them. But he had to know; eventually he had to know everything. He turned as he heard her approach him. This outfit wasnít what she normally wore, no severe suit? This was a dress. It looked good on her too.
"You ready, Mulder?"
With her beside him? Sure.
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Findings - Part 1
Findings - Part 3
Mulder, Scully, the Lone Gunman and Skinner all belong to Chris Carter,10-13 and Fox. No infringement intended.