They had both begun to calm down, after all it had been weeks. They couldnít remain on alert indefinitely, which is why the phone call caused such a surge of adrenaline when it came. He was in his car when his cell phone trilled.
"Mulder." He answered.
"My dear boy." Mulder nearly lost control of the car, every nerve on alert.
"What do you want, more torture?
"Not exactly. It seems things have gotten a little out of hand. Your beautiful partner could use some assistance. I would suggest that you hurry."
"Another mind trip?" He was already executing a U-turn to take him back toward Scullyís apartment.
"That is how it started, Agent Mulder. Unfortunately some of my cohorts became, shall we say, overzealous. Time is of the essence."
"You remember my promise." He was already speeding toward her.
"Of course. Well, until we meet again." The connection was broken. Mulder pushed the speed dial for Scullyís phone. No answer. Mulder threw the phone to the passenger seat and increased his speed.
He arrived at her apartment fully prepared to break the door down yet again to get to her. It wasnít necessary, the door wasnít even completely closed. He drew his gun.
"Scully? Scully are you here?" He advanced carefully into her apartment. Nothing in her living room, he glanced into her kitchen, but instinctively continued on toward the bedroom.
Heíd been right, she was there, on the floor. He was beside her, feeling for her pulse with trembling hands. The pulse was there, but weak. He noted the black eye and swollen jaw, but was more concerned with the blood and where it was coming from.
"I need an ambulance, now!" He confirmed the address and returned to her side. "Iím here Scully. Iím here." His hands were still shaking. This time the torture wasnít just his. He found ways of killing the SOB forming in his mind.
The ambulance and police arrived. Mulder was giving his information when the paramedic examining her turned to his counterpart. "Christ, look at this. What a son of a bitch."
"What?" Mulderís fear rose several more notches.
"Did you find his weapon?"
"What he used to rape her." The words didnít register for a second. When they did his knees buckled and he found himself on the floor on hands and knees.
"Used?" He croaked out the word and waved the second paramedic back to her. He managed to pull himself up into the chair where he buried his face in his hands. "What should I be looking for?" The question was muffled behind his hands.
"Iím not sure, broom handle, something like that." The world swam. Not his Scully. "Weíve got to transport now."
"Iím coming with you."
"You canít leave the crime scene."
"Watch me." He held her hand in the ambulance and when the doctor himself separated them he finally called her mother. There was no answer so he left his cell phone number on her machine. She still hadnít returned his call when the doctor returned to him.
"Agent Mulder, I believe sheís going to be fine, physically. Her assailant did a lot of damage. He perforated her uterus, we had to do some emergency repair work. Iím not going to tell you that sheíll be able to have children, but weíve done the best we could. On an older woman, Iíll admit, we wouldnít have tried." Mulder swayed and the doctor took his arm. "Come on over here." He led him to a small table in the waiting room and they sat.
"Look, I donít know what your relationship is with this woman, but sheís going to need a hell of a lot of support in addition to counseling. If youíre not the person I should be talking toÖ"
"Iím the right person." Should he tell this man that she was already unable. . . no. He had only Crawfordís word on that anyway.
"Iíll contact a psychiatrist unless you know if she is already seeing one."
"I donít think sheís seeing anyone."
"Have you been able to reach the rest of her family?"
"Not yet. Iíve left messages."
"She shouldnít be alone."
"She wonít be. Can I see her now?"
"Yes. Sheíll sleep for a while longer. Iíve put her on self-induced morphine. She shouldnít be bothered by pain on top of everything else."
Her room had a small couch but he chose to use the chair. Comfort wasnít important and he couldnít touch her from the couch. He sat holding her hand, forcibly holding all thoughts at bay.
When they bled into his conscious he shoved them away again. He had to concentrate on her, not vengeance. Not yet.
She stirred and opened her eyes. They didnít focus on him. "Mulder?"
"Iím right here."
"It hurts." He pushed the button for her to allow the morphine to travel into her bloodstream. "Where are we?"
"Youíre in the hospital, but youíre going to be fine. Go back to sleep." Her eyes closed in spite of herself. A few minutes later the trill of his phone startled him back to the present and away from thoughts he couldnít handle anyway.
"Itís Margaret Scully, Fox. Is everything okay?" He closed his eyes.
"Yes and no, Mrs. Scully. Dana is going to be fine, but she is in the hospital."
"What happened, Fox? Was she shot?"
"No, she was attacked in her apartment. Sheís in room 412 at Georgetown."
"Iím on my way."
"Donít rush. Sheís asleep and going to be fine." He placed the phone back in his pocket. He realized he was still wearing his coat and tie and decided to get comfortable for the long haul.
She hadnít stirred again before Mrs. Scully arrived. "Oh Fox." She pressed her hands to her mouth, staring at the blackened eye. "What happened?"
"Someone broke into her apartment, apparently while she was getting ready this morning."
"Did they. . . " She looked up at Mulder. He nodded and the tears brimming in her eyes spilled over. "My poor baby." Mulder circled the bed and put his arms around the grieving woman.
"Come sit down."
"Thereís more, isnít there? Fox, tell me." He led her to the small couch against the wall and sat her down. "What?"
"He hurt her. She had to have surgery. . . they tried to repair everything, but they arenít sure that she. . . that sheíll be able. . . "
Margaret closed her eyes and stuffed her fist into her mouth. A moan still escaped her and Mulder pulled her into his arms and held her as she cried.
When she had some control again she met his eyes. "Did you catch him?"
"Not yet, but I know who it was. I will handle this." She nodded, more needed to be said on that subject, but now was not the time. She rose and took his seat beside the bed, taking Scullyís hand in her own. He settled in the other chair at the foot of the bed.
When she next woke her mother was beside her. "Mulder?"
"No Sweetheart, its Mom."
"Iím right here, Scully." He rose and took her other hand.
"Okay." And she was out again. Mrs. Scully gave him a wan smile.
It was dark when she woke again. She looked over at the sofa trying to focus and found Mulder sleeping with his arms around a woman. Her pain rose a notch before she recognized her mother. She pressed the button on her IV and dozed again.
She woke to a caress on her cheek. It was daylight. "Sweetie, youíve slept long enough. I need you to wake up now."
"No Sweetie, its Mildred. Iím your nurse. Let me get your vitals, okay?" Scully looked around the room. Her mother was missing, but Mulder was waking up on the couch. "Oh, youíre doing fine, Sweetie. Now I need to get that tall drink of water out of here so I can check your incision."
"No, he canít go. . . what incision?" Her mother entered the room in time to hear the question. Mulder rose to his feet and reached to take her hand.
"Scully. . . " He began, but Mrs. Scully shook her head to silence him.
"Dana, Honey, you were injured and the doctors had to perform surgery on you. Youíre going to be fine."
"What kind of surgery?"
Mrs. Scully stepped between Dana and Fox. The nurse busied herself with the chart. "It was. . . repair work, Darling."
Memory hit her like a truck. "A hyster. . . ?" she lost her voice, but her eyes had grown impossibly wide. "Oh god, no!" The nurse swiftly grabbed the bedpan and held Scullyís head as her sickness racked her. Mulder retreated to a corner of the room. This might not be the place for him but heíd be damned if he was leaving her. Mildred bathed her face with a cool cloth.
"No Sweetie, not a hysterectomy. Repair work. Come on now, Sweetie, just relax."
"Relax?" She croaked, "oh god." She was beginning to shake. Mildred pressed the button to lessen her tension and Mrs. Scully held her and rocked her as she cried. Mulder was getting an uncontrollable urge to smash something, but managed to hold on.
"You, out of here." Mildred motioned with her head.
"Iím not leaving."
"I said out of here. You go stand in that hall, or get coffee, or whatever, but right now, out!" Mrs. Scully looked up.
"Itíll be okay, Fox. Just for a couple of minutes."
"But. . . " defeated he retreated to the hall. In seconds they heard the unmistakable sound of his fist slamming into the wall.
"Now Iím gonna have two patients." Mildred sighed. "Let me check you, Sweetie. I wonít hurt you none, and then he can come back in." She deftly checked the incision, rebandaged her, and covered her back up. "Now there. The doctor will be in to see you shortly and weíll get you a liquid diet starting with breakfast."
"No, I donít want. . . "
"Now Sweetie, you know weíre gonna do this my way. Donít you make me throw all this weight around, Ďcause once I get started itís hard to stop the jiggling. You want that skinny fellow back in here?"
Scully looked at her a little stunned, but didnít answer.
"Well, even if you donít need him, he sure as hell does need you, so Iím gonna send his butt back. You just lay there and Iíll bring you that tea and Jell-O. Cross your fingers it ainít orange, Sweetie." With that she gathered her things and left, leaving Scully with a bemused look on her face and Mrs. Scully almost smiling. Mulder entered shyly, keeping his right hand behind his back.
"She said for me to get my Ďskinny buttí in here." At that Mrs. Scully did smile.
"Iíll leave you two for a minute. Can I bring you some coffee, Fox?"
"Iíll get it. I should go."
"No, you should stay. Iíll be back in a few minutes." They both watched her go, suddenly frightened of being alone together.
"Are you. . . "
"Did you. . . " They started together and both fell silent. Mulder circled the bed to "his" chair and sat down.
"Are you in any pain?í
"Not physically." He winced at her honesty, but took her hand.
"If you donít want to talk about this now. . . "
"It was him, but he wasnít alone. He didnít want to do the ídirty workí." Mulder closed his eyes.
"I will find him."
"I know you will."
"Theyíre going to ask you. . . "
"A night stick. A police night stick. Mulder, my hand!" Mulder loosened his grip.
"Oh god, Scully. I should have been there. I should have. . . "
"At my apartment? Mulder, it wonít help me if youíre consumed with guilt. You did nothing wrong."
"I didnít look after you."
"Thatís not your job. I canít handle any guilt now, please." He nodded.
"Iíll do my best." He tried for a lighter tone, and almost pulled it off. They sat in silence for a moment, and then Mulder carefully joined her on the bed and held her against his chest. He desperately needed to be in tactile contact. She felt some of the tension in her body fading.
Thatís where they were when Mildred tapped on the door. "Iím here to give you a sponge bath, so the tall drink of water has to leave again. Donít give me that, Ďitís nothing I havenít already seení." She continued without giving either of them time to respond. "You havenít seen me do it and Iím not about to teach you anything new. Now, you go home and take a shower and change clothes because you are beginning to offend me."
"You heard me. Out of here." Bemused he gently helped Scully lie back on her pillow. He looked questioningly at Scully. She nodded.
"I think it should be a cold shower. Youíve got too many women here."
"I caught you snuggling with my mother last night, and now you keep flirting with Mildred. Maybe you ought to jog home, you know, work off that excess energy."
"Iíll see what I can do. Iíll be back in one hour. If youíre not through bathing her, I get to take over."
"Out!" Mildred pointed to the door. He pecked Scully on the cheek and got out before Mildred could arm herself. "When are you going to marry that skinny kid and put him out of his misery?"
"I beg your pardon?"
"I asked when you were going to marry him."
"Heís never asked me."
"Details. Just give him a date."
"I canít marry him now."
"Well, not today maybe. . . "
"No." Scully surprised herself by answering. "I canít give him children."
"Itís not your children he wants, Sweetie, itís you."
"But I canít condemn him. . . "
"This here chart tells me that youíre a doctor, so you should know better than me that that ainít no problem any more. There are thousands of kids on this here planet that need somebody, and if that donít feel right. . . youíve got your ovaries, child. Just get you and him together in some petree dish and hire some cute young thing to carry it for you, assuming the doctor isnít as good as he always says he is. Youíll have all the skinny red-headed kids you could want."
Scully just looked at her, slightly astonished.
"Now Sweetie, you know Iím right. And, Iím coming to the wedding. Iíve decided to sit on the groomís side Ďcause he donít look like he has a lot of friends to invite. Am I right?"
Scully suddenly found herself laughing at the picture in her mind of this large black woman sitting on the front row of a church watching them go through the ceremony with a self-satisfied "I told you so" look on her face.
Mildred nodded, mostly to herself, gathered her things up and left, nodding to the doctor as she passed him at the door.
"Hello, Dr. Scully. Iím Dr. Towers, a psychiatrist on staff here. I didnít realize you were Mildredís patient. You probably donít even need to see me."
"I beg your pardon?"
"Youíve just been Ďdown-homedí by Mildred, right? I bet she had you laughing about your biggest fear."
"How did you. . . "
"Mildred is our best secret weapon. To be honest, sheís a Ph.D. in nursing, specializing in psychiatry. She teaches full-time now, never on the floor. She heard about your case and assigned herself to it. I donít know anyone who tells Mildred no, so you got her."
"What? She. . . "
"I wish I could use her technique. You think sheís about as subtle as a bulldozer, but in fact she blindsides you every time."
"I canít believe it. Thatís exactly what she did to me."
"Well, welcome to the club. Someday Iíll tell you what she did for me. Now, though, would you like to talk."
They were still talking when Mulder returned. "She finished with that sponge bath? Damn!" She introduced Dr. Towers and they talked a few more minutes, then Dr. Towers excused himself, giving Mulder his card and encouraging him to call if he had any questions.
"Did you go by the office?"
"No, but I called Skinner. Our extremely polite friend is going to find himself a very popular man shortly. Skinner will be by to see you later. He was very concerned."
"It would be nice to see him. Look, Iím doing fine. Theyíre going to be getting me up to walk any minute, so if you want to. . . "
"Iíll walk with you." They exchanged looks, his slightly defiant, and she nodded. "Whereís your mother?"
"Iím not sure. Maybe Mildred has her."
"Maybe I ought to go looking."
"Looking for who?" Mrs. Scully opened the door.
"Mom, I was getting worried about you." About that time Mildred bustled in and Mrs. Scully smiled at her.
"Everybody out. Now, out, out, out."
"Wait a minute! I just got back from my shower Ė donít you want to hug me?"
"Little thing like you? Iíd snap you in two. And I may anyway, get!"
"Cause I said so. Iíve got to get her ready to walk, not that its any Ďo your business."
"Come on, Fox." Mrs. Scully took his arm.
"Keep an eye on him, Mom. His harem is growing too fast around here."
"Iíll watch him." She led the mock protesting Mulder into the hall.
"Dr. Towers blew my cover didnít he?" Mildred took her hand.
"Yes, he did. I want to thank you for what youíve done."
"My pleasure. To be honest with you, Dana, I knew from the moment I met you that you were strong enough to handle this thing. I would never minimize the trauma youíve endured, but you have great inner strength. To be perfectly honest, Iím more worried about your friend, Fox. I donít know why he wasnít where he thought he should have been, but his guilt is enormous."
"Iím not sure how to counter that, Mildred. The man who did this to me, did it for the sole purpose of hurting him."
"Oh lordy. Iíll concentrate some more on him." She continued to minister to Scully, removing the catheter and helping her to her feet. "Come on now, Sweetie. He needs to see you up and around. Lean on him all you can, he feels the need for heavy penance. And donít forget, I am attending the wedding."
Scully smiled and shook her head as she squeezed Mildredís arm. They walked into the hall together.