Mulder shoved a mostly limp Scully into his arms. "Get her out of here!"
"What about you?" His arms automatically supporting her.
"Thereís a bomb down there Ė we donít have time to get the others out!"
"Then you take her! Let me handle the bomb!"
"You donít know where it is, and I donít have time to show you! Go!" Skinner nodded and lifted Scully over his shoulder.
Heíd come out of the building on the opposite side from their cars. No problem, he just needed to get her away until Mulder could join them. She was stirring, beginning to struggle against him.
"Mulder, put me down! I. . . Skinner? What?"
"Mulder had me get you out of there, heís Ė "
"The bomb! Mulder!" She broke away from him, headed back toward the building. He grabbed her, pulling her back to him as he felt the hot wind push at his back. Then the concussion picked him up and threw him through the air, slamming him into the ground, covering her with his body. Sheíd been screaming Mulderís name until they were slammed back to earth. That knocked the breath out of both of them. He couldnít hear her but knew she screamed still, if only inwardly. Burning debris was now beginning to rain down on them. They could still easily die here. He regained his feet, pulling her up beside him. She didnít resist, but she didnít help either. He staggered a couple of steps before throwing her again over his shoulder and moving as rapidly as possible away from the destruction.
The cars had surely gone up with the building, so transportation was gone. Skinner headed toward the rocks that formed this gorge, there had to be shelter there. If he could climb with her, maybe sheíd be able to walk by then.
The heat was growing behind him so he turned. The trees were beginning to catch fire. The area here could act like a chimney. He sped up; he had to get to the rocks. It felt like forever, but finally he was there. "Scully, we have to climb. Can you hear me?" She didnít respond, but he put her on her feet in front of him. She didnít resist but still took no initiative. He took her hand and she followed him up the slope. It was getting dark; the cloud cover wasnít helping. Shit, was that rain? That wouldnít help the climb. They had to find a crevasse, someplace to rest, get out of the rain. He was bleeding in several places from the shrapnel. She probably was too. Damn it was really starting to come down. At least the threat of fire should be down.
There, was that a crack in the rocks? At least they could stand out of the rain for a few minutes. He pushed Scully in, shielding her with his body. The flash of lightning caused her to jerk violently Ė the first reaction heíd seen from her since heíd snatched her up. But the light had also shown him that this crack in the rocks extended back. Maybe it was a cave. They could certainly use a break. The next burst of lightning showed him the entrance and he pushed her through it. They stood just inside the entrance until the next flash of light. The floor was even, with debris scattered around. He tried his flashlight, broken. She didnít seem to have hers.
"Come on Scully, we should be safe here."
She didnít seem to hear him. She was drenched and her skin was cool to the touch. She was going into shock. Come on, Skinner, think! Whatís in the debris? Kids obviously used this place; there were beer cans. He sat her down; it was like moving a mannequin. Then dropped to his knees to feel around. He stacked the cans near the entrance, piling the papers and leaves together. If kids were coming here they were probably smoking too Ė tobacco or pot. That meant matches or a lighter hopefully. He needed to get her warm. There wasnít enough wood for a real fire, but maybe he could heat this small area for a while.
Yes! Matches. Well, he wasnít so warm himself, huh? He forced his hands to stop shaking long enough to strike the match. The dead leaves caught quickly and with the light that generated, he found the branches that were available. Well, that should last a little while.
He turned back to her. She was still where he had sat her, but now she was trembling violently. He moved to her quickly and saw that her eyes were dilated. Definitely shock, and she was soaking wet. "Scully, can you hear me?" No response. Okay, first he had to get her dry.
He stripped off her jacket and blouse. She had been cut by the shrapnel too. He took her shoes and then worked her slacks down her legs. He began massaging her body to stimulate her circulation. He stopped long enough to strip off his own soaking clothes and added a couple of branches to the fire, spreading the wet clothes out to begin drying. His t-shirt was only damp, not really wringing wet, so he held it close to the small fire and after it was heated, slipped it over her head. Once she was covered, he reached underneath and removed her bra before it could drench the t-shirt. He moved her closer to the fire and lay her down facing it. He fed the rest of the wood to the fire, then spooned around her to share body heat. Her trembling was lessening, but she was still completely out of it. He didnít have a clue what to do for her.
He must have dozed. The fire was almost out. She had turned in his arms. What the. . . she was kissing him, running her hands over his chest. "Scully, wake up."
"Mulder. . . hold me, Mulder."
"Scully, itís Walter. Iím not Ė " Her mouth covered his. What was she doing? He grabbed her hand as she encircled his cock. "Scully, stop."
"Please Mulder. Please." She was pressing herself against him, obviously not hearing him. She really thought he was Mulder. What was he supposed to do? He couldnít let her do this. He grabbed for her hand again as she eluded him. Damn she was determined and part of him was beginning to agree with her.
"Scully, stop. Youíre not awake, you donít know. . . " His words turned into a groan. How long had it been since a woman had. . . oh god. He had to stop this. Now what was she doing? He must be suffering from more shock than he realized himself. He was most assuredly not in control of this situation. She was over him now, holding him in place, impaling herself. . .
"Scu. . . " He couldnít even finish the word. She had complete control and she thought she was making love to Mulder. She hadnít processed his death, but then neither had he. If he forced her to face reality right now how much more damage would he do? Okay, a rationalization, but the woman had him by the balls, literally. He couldnít hold back any longer. She shifted, taking him even deeper. As he came she threw back her hand convulsing with him. It was too dark, he couldnít see her eyes. Did she realize yet who he was? Apparently not, she collapsed down into him and with a sigh seemed to return to sleep. What the hell had he just allowed to happen here? He could lose his job, hell; he could go to prison Ė probably should for taking advantage of her. Well okay, sheíd taken advantage of him possibly Ė that would hold up well in court, an ex-marine being raped by a 95-pound woman. Her movement in his arms brought him back to the present. She probably wouldnít even remember what had just happened, especially with the state she was in. Heíd just look after her the best he could and store this memory in some deep vault never to be replayed ever.
He felt his own eyes growing heavy again and her quiet even breathing against his chest was soothing. Give it up Walter, you canít change anything thatís happened.
Her movement woke him. It took him a couple of seconds to orient himself. Why was Scully lying in his arms here on the ground? Oh. Memory hit with the force of a train. Was she okay?
She drew away from him slightly. "Walter? The explosion, it wasnít a. . . ?"
"Nightmare? No. Are you okay?"
"Mulder couldnít stop it. He wasnít here."
"No, Scully. He wasnít."
"Then I. . . you. . . "
"Iím sorry Scully. I should have. . . "
"I thought. . . " Tears had formed in her eyes. This dream was rapidly turning into memory. It had happened, she had made love to Walter when he saved her. Walter, not Mulder.
"I know. I tried, I should have forced you. . . " He didnít know what to say. It had felt like he couldnít stop her last night, now he felt weak. He had used her; he should have stopped the situation.
"Itís not your fault. And it wasnít fair to you."
"Fair to me? What. . . ?"
"I used you. I was out of my head and I . . . "
"Scully, donít think about it. We can just put it down as a dream, part of the nightmare from last night."
"You saved my life."
"Youíve saved mine a couple of times."
"I need to thank you." Her hand caressed the stubble on his cheek, and she brought her body back into contact with his.
"God, Scully, the last thing you should do is thank me."
"No. You let me say goodbye to him." Tears were flowing now. "You could have stopped me."
"I should have."
"No." She repeated. "I needed. . . that saved my life as much as anything else you did. Thank you, Walter." She let her head fall back to his chest and he held her quietly, giving her time. They needed to get out here, search, see what needed to be done. But Dana needed this time, even if they could ill afford it and he was going to give it to her.
"Angieís not at her desk." Scully let herself into his office. He looked up startled, then wondered why. She had been here a lot lately. "Are you planning to be here late?"
"Uh, no, Iím almost ready to go."
"I thought we could get something to eat." She settled herself on his couch.
"Oh, uh sure. Iíll just be a couple of minutes." He began shutting down for the day. He hadnít expected her. Was she okay? Sheíd never spent so much time with him, not that he was complaining.
He slipped the last file in his briefcase and stood. "Where would you like to eat?"
"It doesnít matter. Wherever you want."
She just doesnít want to be alone, he realized. He and she had a connection now, one he had never anticipated, even in his wildest dreams.
After dinner, which she more pushed around than ate, he offered to take her back to the office for her car. "Look, you have work to do, maybe I could help you. We can go to your place and work."
"Okay. Thatís fine." He was trying to visualize his apartment. When did his cleaning woman come in? Oh hell, she wasnít coming over for an inspection. They walked to the car and he held the door for her, then turned toward his apartment.
He opened the apartment for her, allowing her to enter first. Sheíd never been here Ė he had good taste, nice furniture, even art on the wall Ė framed. Not like Mulderís apartment at all. She shoved that thought away brutally. She couldnít think about him, wouldnít think about him, not yet. Maybe not ever Ė she couldnít imagine when.
At first Skinner tried to play host, but she assured him she didnít want that and had him boot up his computer and open his briefcase. He finally told her to make herself at home since she obviously didnít want him hovering and he did get down to work.
He was finishing a report when he realized he hadnít seen her in awhile. He saved his document and went into the kitchen. Not there, not in the guest room either. Well, he knew she hadnít left. He headed into his bedroom and spotted her clothing folded neatly over the chair. She was there, sound asleep in his bed. What was going on? Was she that anxious not to be alone? That wasnít the Scully he knew, but she only half existed now he realized. Yes, there was plenty of room, it was a king-size bed. He sank into the chair, avoiding her clothes.
She didnít love him. He knew that. And he wasnít being fair to either one of them letting her stay. Especially since he was in love with her and had been for years. Heíd never thought of himself as weak, yet this woman had taken over his body and mind without even a struggle on his part.
Slowly but surely her things began appearing in his apartment. Drawers were rearranged and cosmetics took over half of his bathroom. He didnít want to admit how much he was enjoying having her with him. Heíd thought he was in love with her before. Now, after living with her he knew heíd only scratched the surface.
"Dana." He pulled her closer to him in the bed. He was almost accustomed to having her there. "You know weíre the source of the best rumors at the Bureau right now. Iím getting concerned about your reputation."
She caressed his cheek. "My reputation isnít that important to me."
"Well it is to me."
She took a deep breath. "Then letís get married." He gaped at her, unable to form a response. "The thought that distasteful?" She smiled at him.
"Dana, you donít have to. . . "
"Why do you think I donít want to?"
"I know Iím not Mulder, Dana. I know you donít love. . . " Her fingers touched his lips.
"Thatís not. . . Walter, thatís a different issue. Mulderís gone." She still couldnít say dead, even after all this time. "Weíre here, Iím here because I want to be. But. . . "
"Walter, I canít give you children."
"Thatís not a problem for me Dana. Iím kind of old to start a family now anyway. But you, youíre still young enough to adopt or. . . "
"No." That was all she said, but it closed the discussion.
He let her be in silence for a moment, then, "Do you want a wedding?"
"No. I want us to go to a justice of the peace as soon as possible. Just the two of us, and my mother please."
"Of course. Your brothers?"
"No. Just Mom."
"When do you want to do this?"
"Friday? Thatís. . . thatís only two days."
"Do you want to wait?"
"No! I donít, but Dana, are you sure?"
"Iím sure I want to be with you Walter. I already am, this is just to shut up the mouths at the Bureau. Weíre already together."
He dropped it. If she wanted it this way, fine with him. Theyíd really be together. He wouldnít wake to that small fear in the back of his mind every morning that she wouldnít be there. Theyíd belong together in the eyes of the world.
Marriage was better than he had anticipated, better than he remembered. But he and Sharon had never shared what he and Dana did. They couldnít, Sharon would never have understood. He still missed her and regretted her death at such an early age, but he was whole again. It helped him too, to know that Dana could continue to love Mulder and not have it come between them. He understood, he had loved before as well. She could draw comfort from the fact that Mulderís final wish had been to get her to safety. Now Walterís life was better than ever.
Angie wasnít at her desk when Dana arrived, so she tapped on the door and opened it. She knew he had planned no meetings for this afternoon. They had tickets to the show. She smiled, he was so good to her. Once a week they always had a date. They both needed the time together away from the office and he came up with the most wonderful romantic ideas. It was a side of Walter sheíd never even imagined. He was just so good to her.
"Walter, are you ready? Walter!" His complexion was positively gray. His breathing was shallow and from the door she could see the beads of sweat on his forehead. She was at his side instantly. "Are you having chest pains? Sweetheart, can you speak?"
He looked up then, probing her eyes. "Iím okay."
"You are not. Try to take deeper breaths." She was removing his tie from where heíd already loosened it. His pulse was rapid and thready. "Iím going to call 911, just try to remain calm."
"Sweetheart, I think youíre having a heart attack. I want to move you to the couch. Let me help you." He allowed her to take his arm and walked to the couch. She elevated his feet and rushed into his private bath. She came back with a glass of water and a couple of aspirin.
"Take these. Let me help you."
"Dana, Iím not having a heart attack. Iím okay." He tried to sit up, but her hands on his shoulders forestalled the movement.
"Iím the doctor in the family, Walter." She took his pulse again. It was slower and stronger. What was going on?
"I just want to go home Dana. Iím fine." This time he didnít let her keep him from rising to a sitting position. "Please, Dana. Letís just go to the apartment."
Her eyes showed her concern. He knew she did care for him, maybe sheíd even grown to love him a little. Now he didnít know if that was good or bad.
She took a deep breath, "Okay." And put the aspirin in his hand. "Weíll go home, but if anything changes Iím taking you to the hospital myself. Iím driving." She watched him swallow the tablets.
"Yeah. Thatís probably a good idea. Iím sorry I scared you Dana."
"Youíre still scaring me Walter. Iím taking you home against my better judgment. I need to know what happened, what brought this on."
"Letís go home Dana. We can talk there." She insisted on holding his arm on the way to the car, even opening the door for him. He allowed it rather than argue with her. The thoughts of fighting with Dana right now drained what energy he had left.
She kept watching him. His color was better and his breathing was back to normal. It didnít make sense. Heíd had his annual physical a little over a month ago and passed with flying colors, even the stress test. Sheíd have known if he were feeling ill. They spent a lot of time together and she was in his arms every night. But sheíd been sure he was dying when sheíd walked in his office.
They were home. This time he didnít wait for her to open his door and took her hand to hold rather than let her support him. She shot him the eyebrow but he didnít back down.
Once inside he was the one who sat her on the couch, then disappeared into the bathroom. He returned with a glass of water and two capsules. "I want you to take these Dana."
"Walter, what. . . youíre the one thatís ill."
"Please." He held them out to her.
"What is it?"
"Sleeping pills? No, what if you need me in the night? Besides my tolerance is low for those, Iíd never need more than one."
"Please Dana." She tried again to read his face but he was carefully impassive.
"If I take them, will you tell me whatís going on?"
She still hesitated, "I only need one Walter."
"Take them both, Love." Her eyes widened at the endearment, he so rarely used them. She knew she could trust him, she knew how much he loved her. His actions were just so confusing.
She took the capsules in her hand and after another moment tossed them back and brought the water to her lips. He was watching her closely, so she didnít attempt to deceive him. After placing the water back on the coffee table she opened her mouth to prove she had indeed swallowed them.
"Do I get a reward?" She asked lightly.
He didnít respond for a moment. "I guess you do." He took her hand; "I received some information this afternoon and had just finished verifying it when you walked in. Dana, Mulder has been found. Heís alive."
She didnít react at first. Sheíd built such a shield around herself where Mulder was concerned that any mention of his name caused her to retreat. Finally her eyes searched his. "Alive?"
He nodded, waiting. "I have to go, I have to see. . . " She was on her feet and he had hold of her when she swayed. Now her eyes locked on his, "Damn you, Walter. Thatís why. . . I have to. . ."
"Iím going to check on him as soon as youíre asleep. I need to see him before you go. Iíll be back to get you." He was helping her into their bedroom and lay her on the bed, removing her shoes and pulling the afghan over her. He sat beside her on the bed and kissed her forehead. "I hope you can forgive me later, but Iím doing this to protect you. If you wake before I get back, please wait for me here. Donít go to the office. Please Dana."
She looked at him, not speaking but finally nodded. Her eyes were already closing. Sheíd known it was a mistake to take those pills especially on an empty stomach. But it had not crossed her mind that Walter would ever hurt her. Why did he need to see Mulder first, what was he going to say to him? What would she say to him? He watched a tear escape her eye and caught it as it trailed down her face. He hadnít felt this kind of despair since Sharon had died.