Again (PG)

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He stopped just outside of her hospital room and took a deep breath, steadying his hands so that the flowers wouldn’t tremble.  He tapped on the door then, and pushed it open.  The room was nearly dark, the blinds drawn and the lights on the lowest setting.

The small woman in the bed turned and her eyes widened at the sight of him.  “Mulder?”


He gave her an abashed grin and held out the flowers.  “How you doing?”  He placed the vase on the bedside table.


She used the controls to raise herself to a sitting position, giving her time to compose herself.  “I’m fine.”  He couldn’t quite hide the wince and her smile dimmed a little.  “Okay, not exactly fine, but better since you walked in the door.”  She held out her hand and he took it, grasping it firmly, but gently.


“How did you know I was here?”


He shrugged and she didn’t pursue it.  He placed a quick kiss to her cheek then tucked a strand of hair behind her ear.  She seemed to lean into his hand.


“How are things at the Bureau?”  She asked after a moment.


He shook his head, “I wouldn’t know.  I left shortly after you did.”


She blinked, “You left?”


“Yep.  I teach now.”


“Mulder, where?”




She smiled, “The paranormal sciences.”


He shrugged and gave her hand a little squeeze.  “I had the creds, and I might as well put that Ph.D. to use for something.  Besides, if you can teach, why not me?”


She blinked again, “How did you know I was teaching?”


Again he avoided answering.  “How long are they keeping you here?”


She looked away then.  “Scully?”


“They, um, I’d be alone, so . . . “


He nodded, “I was sorry to hear about your mother.”


“The flowers you sent were beautiful.”  She swiped a tear away. 


“She was good to me.  What about Stan?”


“You know about him too?”  She sighed, “No, I haven’t heard from him in ages.  He’s remarried.”


“You didn’t.”


“I guess I didn’t want to make that big a mistake again.  I mean, less than a year.”  She closed her eyes at the memory, shaking her head carefully.


He leaned toward her, but looked up as the door opened.  The nurse stepped in.  “Ms. Scully, I have your medication.  You should try to rest.”


“I’ll rest, but I don’t want the medication now.”


“Ms. Scully, you know you don’t - “


“Rose, please.”


Rose looked over at Mulder and sighed.  “I’ll make sure she rests.”  He met the woman’s eyes and after a moment she nodded and left them alone again.


“I should let you sleep a little while.”


“Do you have to go?”


“No, but I want you to - “


“I’ll close my eyes and you talk to me, okay?”


He managed a small smile.  “Close your eyes.”  For a wonder she did as he said without argument.  Her hand tightened around his.


“Talk to me.  Tell me about the co-eds that never miss your class.”


He chuckled.


“You know it’s true.  I bet attendance has skyrocketed.”


Instead of responding directly, he changed the subject.  “I brought something besides the flowers.”


“If it’s chocolate - “


“It’s not.  Scully . . . “


She opened her eyes at his hesitation.  “What?”  He looked almost scared.  “Mulder, what?”


“It’s for me as much as it is for you.”  She just watched him.  “It’s a new chip.”


“What?”  She winced at her own movement.


“A chip, to replace the one that’s quit - “


“Mulder, it was never determined that the chip put the cancer in remission.”


“That’s my Scully.”  He brushed a finger along her cheekbone.


“Mulder, where would you get - “


“Shh, you’re supposed to be resting.”


“Mulder, listen to me, even if . . . I’m not sure I want it.”


“What?  Scully, we’re talking about your life.”


“Mulder, I haven’t seen you in almost two years.  You show up and - “


“Scully, I said it was for me as much as for you.”


“Two years Mulder.”


He shook his head.  “I haven’t been gone Scully.  I . . . I wanted to give you space.  You met Stan, I thought - “


Her eyes closed, then she gasped as her hands came up to her head.  “I can’t - “


“You’re right.  Just relax.  Try to sleep."


"I don't sleep much anymore."  She merely whispered that.  He could see the pain in her eyes.


"Shh."  He kissed her brow again.


"I can't . . . "


"Shh, I'm right here."  That seemed to relax her a little, but he could tell she wasn't able to drift off.  She was restless and he could see the pain etched on her face.


He glanced at the door, then slipped off his jacket and shoes and reclined carefully on the bed beside her, drawing her into his arms.  He could feel the tension leave her body as she slipped under.


When the nurse opened the door a few minutes later, he motioned for her to be quiet.  She took in the fact that her patient was asleep and retreated from the room.


She'd been asleep about an hour when the door opened again and a man, slightly older than Mulder, with a paunch and receding hair stepped in.


He motioned for Mulder to follow him out.  Mulder looked down at her, peaceful now and carefully left her bed.  He pulled the door mostly shut and looked down at the man who had summoned him.


"I'm Dr. Carrollton, and you are?"


"Fox Mulder.  I'm a friend of Dr. Scully's."


"I could see that."  Dr. Carrollton said dryly.  "But she is asleep."  He sighed, "And according to the nurse, without medication, so I guess I shouldn't complain."


"She needs medication to sleep."


The doctor nodded, "for the pain."


Mulder grimaced.  "What's her prognosis?"


"Mr. Mulder, I can't -  "


"If you check her records, you'll see that I'm listed as next of kin."


He was bluffing, she'd probably changed that long ago, but it had been true at one time.  He wanted it to be true, if that meant anything.


The doctor sighed and didn't move to check his statement.  "Mr. Mulder, we're trying to keep her comfortable at this point."


"Keep her . . . "


“Mr. Mulder - “


“I have a treatment.”


“You?  I’m afraid -  “


“Are you aware of the chip in the back on her neck?”


The doctor smiled slightly.  “Yes, I’ve read her records.  You don’t seriously -  “


“I have a replacement chip.  I want you to remove the old one and replace it with the one I brought.”


“Mr. Mulder, listen to me.”


“You don’t believe it can help.  Do you believe it could harm her?”


Dr. Carrollton searched the man’s face for a long moment.  “You are serious.  To answer your question, no, I don’t think it would harm her; but it would be of no value either.”


“But if she agrees, you could replace it.”


“I suppose I could.”


“Look, if there are other things you want to try, go ahead.  Just -  “


“Mr. Mulder, you don’t understand.  We’re talking days here, maybe less.  Dr. Scully didn’t come here for treatment.  She came here to die.”


He thought the man was going down then, and reached out to steady him.  “Mr. Mulder, maybe you -  “


“But she just got sick.  She just came to you.”


“Yes, she just came, but she’s been ill for some time.  As a doctor she had to know that she was no longer in remission.”  He paused letting the stricken man in front of him absorb the words.  “She also had to know there was no effective treatment.”


“There is.”


“Mr. Mulder -  “




Dr. Carrollton had never seen a man move so quickly.  Mulder was already back at her side before the doctor had processed the sound.


“I’m here, I’m right here Scully.” He had hold of her hand.


She collapsed back against the pillow, the small jolt of adrelinine gone, leaving her even weaker.  “I thought I’d dreamed . . . “


“About me?”  He managed to grin, “That would be a nightmare.”


She closed her eyes again and he saw her exhaustion.


“Scully, we need to put the chip in.”


“Mulder -  “


“We can argue about it after you’re better.  Right now I think I can take you.”


She didn’t open her eyes, but her lips twitched.


“Listen, you can have it removed later, we’ll discuss it, but for now . . . Scully, you have to replace the one in your neck.  You have to.”  His voice shook on the last three words and she did open her eyes.


“Okay?  I can tell the doctor okay?”


She sighed, “Will you stay with me for a little while?”


“Just try to get rid of me.”




He turned toward the doctor, who was standing just inside the door.  “You heard that.”


“Yes Mr. Mulder, but - “


Scully’s hand jerked in his.  He turned to see her eyes roll back into her head and begin to seize.  “Scully!”


Dr. Carrollton shouted down the hall for the nurse, and moved to her bed.  Mulder had taken hold of her head to try to keep her from harming herself.  He heard the doctor issuing orders and saw the nurse add something to her IV.  He leaned in, whispering soothing words into her ear.


“Mr. Mulder, you need to - “ before he could finish the sentence, blood began pouring from her nose.


“Get two units.”  Dr. Carrollton was in control.  The nurses, three of them now, were moving with him as a team.


“There are only two left from her supply.”  Rose stated as she moved to the door.


“Get them.”


“Put the chip in.”


“Mr. Mulder, now is - “


“Now is the only time.  She could die.  You have to do it now.”


Her seizure was abating, but the blood was still flowing.


“If you don’t do it, now, I will.”  Mulder turned to the nurse that was still in the room.  “Leave us.”


The doctor looked up at him to protest, but the words died in his throat.  He fought the urge to back away from this man who suddenly seemed very dangerous.  He nodded to the nurse and motioned her to leave.  Once the door was shut, he looked back at Mulder.  “I don’t have - “


Mulder pulled a sterile bundle from the jacket draped across her chair, and unwrapped it.  He handed the small scalpel to the doctor.  “Now.”


She had agreed, and frankly at this point he wouldn’t be doing her any harm.  He took the scalpel and drew a deep breath.  He motioned for Mulder to help him roll Scully to her side.  Dr. Carrollton made a small incision over the tiny scar Mulder pointed out.  He took the tweezers and removed the chip, placing it in Mulder’s outstretched hand.  Then he picked up the new one from the small container and looked up at the taller man.


“Put it in the same place.”


The doctor sighed, but did as he was told.  Mulder slipped the old chip into the container and closed it.  A Band-Aid was applied and the men settled her on her back.


After a moment Dr. Carrollton looked up at Mulder, “May we treat her now?”


“What, oh yes.”


“Thank you.” The sarcasm was thick, but Mulder was used to that.  The doctor moved to the door and motioned Rose to return.


“Are you okay?  Security is on the way.”


“Thank you Rose.  That won’t be necessary.  The bleeding seems to have stopped.  Could you clean her up and then we’ll do an exam.”


“Yes Doctor.”  She glanced over at Mulder.


“Mr. Mulder, you need to step outside.”


He felt torn, but knew he’d already won the only really important battle.  He leaned down and kissed her brow, then nodded to Rose and moved to the door.  Dr. Carrollton followed him out just as two security guards exited the elevator.  They immediately approached the doctor, who held up his hands.


“Everything is fine.  I appreciate you coming, but it was just a little misunderstanding.  Everything is under control.”


One of the guards gave Mulder the once over, but Mulder just watched him impassively.  “Okay Doc.  Let us know if anything changes.”


“I’ll do that.  Thanks again.”  After the guards returned to the elevator, Mulder turned to the doctor.


“Thank you.”


Dr. Carrollton sighed, “You were distraught.  I will call them back if necessary.”


Mulder nodded and looked back at her door.  The doctor moved over to the desk to work on the chart, leaving Mulder just outside of her door.


The nurse stepped back, startled at his close proximity, when she opened the door.  “Look, I’m sorry I scared you.  I had to get the doctor to listen to me.”  Her expression didn’t change.


“May I go in?”


The nurse glanced over at the doctor and he nodded.  She stepped aside and Mulder returned to Scully’s side.


She’d been cleaned, her clothing and bedding changed.  It only showed her pallor even more glaringly.  He took her hand again.  “Scully, I wasn’t too late.  You’ve got to wake up.  Come on, I’m here.”


He looked up as the doctor joined him.  The doctor checked the blood level of her transfusion, then turned to Mulder.  “We need to examine her.”


“Don’t ask me to leave again.  Please.”


The doctor sighed, “Just stay out of the way.”


Mulder swallowed and nodded.  He didn’t speak, he wasn’t sure he could, but he stepped back to give them room.  They were very thorough, but he held his tongue until the nurse left the room.  Then he moved back to her side.  “Shouldn’t she be waking up?”


Dr. Carrollton met his anxious eyes then and his look of sympathy caused Mulder’s grip on her hand to tighten involuntarily.


“Why don’t we step over here.”  The look of fear that passed over his face softened the doctor’s stance.  “Mr. Mulder, I want to be honest with you.”  He took a breath, “Frankly, I don’t believe she’s going to wake up.  The seizure, the blood loss . . . she’s just too weak.  You’re welcome to stay here with her.”


“Let me take her home.”


“What?  You’re not serious.”


“You have a ‘no resuscitate’ order, don’t you?”


“Yes.  Dr. Scully was quite clear on that.”


“So you’re just waiting for her to die.”  He paused to get his voice back.  “She should die at home.”


“She came here.”


“She came here because there was no one at home to be with her.  I’m here now.”


“Mr. Mulder, I cannot release an unconscious patient to you.”


“I take full responsibility.”


The doctor looked away, shaking her head.  They both turned as Scully stirred in the bed.  “Mulder?”


Mulder cast one look at the doctor’s stunned face, then was beside her.  “Right here, Baby.  I’m right here.”


“What happened?”


“You, uh,” he looked over at the doctor, ‘You had a pretty bad nose bleed, but it’s over.”


She spotted the blood transfusions on the poles then, “that bad?”


He shrugged, “I was just talking to Dr. Carrollton about springing you from this place.”


Her surprise was visible.  “Mulder, I . . . .”


“I’m here and I’m not going anywhere.”  He gave her a little smile, “Unless you come with me.”


“Mulder, you know how sick I am.”


“Don’t worry about that.  Let me take you home.”


“I’m . . . I’m living at Mom’s, since the divorce.”


“Then let me take you there.”


“Excuse me.  Dr. Scully is a very ill woman and needs to be closely monitored.  You are not qualified -  “


“Scully, what do you want?”


She seemed to search his eyes, then she nodded.  “Dr. Carrollton, I want to leave.”


“I . . . I’d advise against that.”


“I understand and I appreciate your concern.  Please get the paperwork together for me.”


The man still didn’t move.  “I believe the lady asked you to get her release papers.”


Carrollton glared at him for a moment, then looked back at her.  “May I speak with you in private.”


“That’s not -  “ her hand squeezed his, interrupting him.

”It’s okay Mulder.”  He looked down at her, but she didn’t back down.


“I’ll be right outside.”  He didn’t bother to look at the doctor as he let himself out.


He stood leaning against the wall, ignoring the looks and whispers of the nurses.  Dr. Carrollton did not look happy when he emerged.  He didn't bother to speak to Mulder, who slipped back into her room.  She had her eyes closed and for just a second his heart seemed to stutter, then she opened her eyes and he was able to breathe again.


She saw the fear in his face.  After all this time, how could she still know him so well?  "My clothes are in that drawer."


He nodded, grateful to be doing something.


Her underwear was on top of the folded clothing.  He picked up her panties and with her watching, slipped them on her under the covers without looking at her body.  His actions seemed to relax her.  Then he picked up her bra and looked her in the eye.


She was too weak to sit up, so he elevated the bed, then maneuvered the straps of the bra around her IV.  He removed her gown and placed the bra around her small body and fastened it.  He smiled then, "All women should be so accommodating."


Her eyebrow rose.


"I mean the front fastener.  But it still feels a little backwards, you know, putting it on instead of . . . "


She rolled her eyes, then laid her head back, tired from even that.  "Were there a lot of women?"


He blinked at that, "None."


"Come on Mulder."


"Honest."  Her smile faded.  "Just rest, let me finish with this."  He dressed her in silence, gently and tenderly.  When he was finished, he took the seat next to the bed again and held her hand, letting her rest.


Her eyes opened when the doctor returned.  "Dr. Scully, this is not a good idea."


"I appreciate your concern."


Dr. Carrollton shook his head, but moved aside as the nurse brought in the wheelchair.


"Thank you, Doctor."  She said quietly.


"Mr. Mulder, may I speak with you for a moment."


He squeezed her hand, then let Dr. Carrollton lead  him to the far corner.  "Listen, you have no idea what you're doing here.  She may have another seizure any minute, she could hemorrhage again."  He sighed, "Frankly, she may not live through the night, Mr. Mulder."


"And you have a DNR on record, Dr. Carrollton.  I hear you, I do, but I'm taking her home."


Dr. Carrollton looked into the determined face of the younger man and nodded.  Mulder moved back to the bed and winked at her.  She relaxed a little, that he had not changed his mind, and smiled as he lifted her into his arms.  He settled her gently into the chair.  He walked beside her, carrying her other things, as the nurse wheeled her to the entrance.  He found her car where she had left it and brought it around quickly, then lifted her again to lay her in the backseat of the car.


He pulled away from the hospital, and his smile dimmed as his confidence waned.  Then he shook himself; the chip would work.  It had to.


She had fallen asleep on the ride home.  When he pulled into her mother's driveway, he opened the house and carried in her things before waking her.


"Hey Scully, we're home."


"Mulder?  I keep . . . you are here."


"Sure am."  He had her in his arms again and carried her into the house and toward the stairs.


"Mulder, I've been using the downstairs bedroom.  The stairs . . . "


Of course, even that was too much for her.  How long . . . not now.  He sat her on the side of the bed and pulled back the covers, then helped her to lie down.  "We'll change you into a gown in a little while.  Why don't I see about some broth or something for you?  I'm not sure I'm a good enough cook to make hospital Jell-o but, I think I can handle soup."


She nodded and watched him leave the room.


When he returned, he set the tray on the dresser, then sat her up and propped pillows around her.  He was a little surprised to find her still awake, but pleased as well.  He sat beside her on the bed and took up the spoon.


"Mulder, I think I can feed myself."


"You probably can, but I want to."  He moved the spoon to her lips and she drank it.  She actually finished the bowl.  He offered her more, but she declined.


"Okay, you need to rest now."  He started to move the pillows, but she took his hand.


"Mulder, we need to talk a minute."


"I'm not supposed to wear you out."


"You won't.  Tell me why you're here."


"Because it's where I belong, where I always should have been."


"Mulder -  "


"Scully, I . . . are you sure - "


"Yes.  Tell me how you know everything; how you heard I was ill."


He sighed, "I'm ex-FBI.  I make a hell of a stalker."


Her eyebrow rose, "you've stalked me?"


"Well, I've kept up with you anyway."  His smile faded then, "Scully, I . . . I saw what finding Emily did to you.  The pain, the . . . the horror of the implications of her very existence.  I saw that and I understood your need to step away, get some space.  And in one of my stupider decisions in a long line of idiotic decisions, I let you go.  I never meant for it to be - "

"Mulder - "


He continued ignoring her interruption.  "It took about six hours to realize that I couldn't do the job without you, hell, I didn't even want to try.  I hung around for a few weeks, but . . . then I called a guy I knew at Duke.  He'd been after me to come down there, so I figured what the hell."  He chuckled, "they actually hired me.  Being 'Spooky' was kind of an asset.  I got it in my head that when I got settled, I'd come get you.  You were already out of the Bureau, you could come to Durham and we . . . But I waited too long.  I'd learned you were dating Stan but . . . " 


He looked away for an instant, then met her eyes again.  "I won't tell you I wasn't angry and hurt.  It didn't take you long to replace me."


"Mulder -  "


"You didn't even invite me to the wedding."


"It was a very small celebration."  She spoke dryly.  "Just the families."




She ducked her head, "Yes.  I believe he was the happiest one there."


"That should be the bride."


"Yes, it should.  I think I knew, even then, that it was a mistake, but everyone was so happy for me, for us, and . . . I wanted to believe it would work out.  Mulder, we separated a few days after our six month anniversary."


He nodded, "I know.  I actually called about a flight the day you got your decree, but I wasn't sure how that would look.  So I made another bonehead decision to give you a little time to get your act together.  Then your mother . . . "


Her eyes filled with tears.  "It was so fast.  I suppose it was a blessing, she wouldn't have wanted to live like that.  She lived long enough for the boys to get here.  I hope she knew."


"I'm sure she did."


"I'm glad I was living here.  She didn't . . . .she wasn't alone."  He nodded.  "You knew about that too?"


"Yes.  But I knew the family would be here."


"You mean Bill."


"You didn't need the aggravation.  He stayed a while."


"Yes.  He took leave to help me with the business end.  He was actually quite sweet to me.  I was afraid, with the divorce . . . "


"Scully, why didn't you go to the doctor sooner?"


She'd been expecting that, but she hesitated anyway.  "There was no need.  I knew there was no treatment and . . . and I didn't want to fight it alone."


He closed his eyes at the pain that sent through his heart.  "You weren't alone."


"I didn't know."


He touched her chin, turning her gently to look into her eyes.  “Scully, I knew I hurt you keeping secrets, but I should never have let you push me away.  I knew, I know, how important you are to me.  I’m never letting you push me away again.”


“No, there’s no time for that now.”


He sighed, "I was almost too late."


She gave him a wan smile, "But you weren't.  I appreciate this."  She looked around the room, but he knew she meant more.  She gripped his hand then, "Mulder, this is just a short 'vacation'.  You need to accept that.  When I get bad, I want you to promise you'll take me back, even if it's tomorrow.  You don't - "


"You're going to be okay Scully."


"Mulder, you - "


"You're going to be okay.  We put in the new chip."


Her mouth fell open.  "You what?  When?"


"You gave permission.  The doctor heard you."


"I thought I was giving permission . . . you really had one?"


"This was too important.  I came prepared.  You're going to live Scully, you have to."


She looked at him then, so fierce in his belief.  "So you truly are the reason I haven't had a headache since I woke up."


That statement caused his eyes to lighten.  "Scully, you'll love Duke.  I've told them all about you.  We can - "


"Hold it, I'm going to Duke?"


"Yes, or I'm coming back here.  We have another chance Scully and I'm tired of making dumb moves.  I don't ever want to be apart again.  Haven't we learned our lesson?  We're supposed to be together.  I know it, can't you at least give it a try?"  His eyes burrowed into hers and he saw them clearly, the pain was gone.  They were together again.



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