A Picture is Worth... (R)


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The hand covering her mouth woke her. Sheíd had no warning and terror consumed her.

"Shh." Her eyes adjusted to the dark and she was able to recognize Mulderís face bending over her. Her chest loosened slightly and she drew a breath. She didnít know what was going on, but Mulder wouldnít hurt her.

Scullyís eyes asked the question but Mulder shook his head slightly. He put his finger to his lips and withdrew the hand from her mouth. He held out her coat to her and motioned that she follow him. She did, stopping only to slip on shoes.

He barely opened the door to the hallway, allowing her to slip out. He followed, closing the door quietly behind him.

"Iíll explain in the car." He whispered to her, placing his hand on her back and hurrying her to his car.

She was seated when he climbed in. "Okay, what the hell is going on?" Even here she spoke quietly, just above a whisper. He started the car and pulled away from the curb. "Mulder?"

"I uh, Scully, your apartment. . ." he sighed, "itís being surveilled. I just found out tonight."

"Surveilled? You mean, you mean tape? Where? How long?"

"I donít know how long."

"Where?"

He wouldnít look over at her. "Your living room and. . . "

"And?" She was seriously considering strangulation.

"Your bedroom."

Now he did glance over for a second, long enough to see how wide her eyes were. She said nothing, staring straight ahead. The streetlights they passed showed the red stain on her cheeks.

"Scully? You okay?"

"No." She was looking out the window away from him now. He didnít know what to say about this latest violation of her because of her association with him. He decided to concentrate on driving as the safest of his current possibilities.

Finally she did speak, "Where are we going?"

Since by then it was obvious he was taking her to his apartment he hesitated. "Uh, well, I thought. . . my place." She didnít respond and he immediately began second guessing himself. Should he have taken her to her motherís? No, no way to explain this to her. And he knew his apartment was clean right now of bugs or surveillance equipment.

She was distant, removed from him as he let her in his apartment. He reached for her coat and realized she was wearing only her nightshirt under it when she pulled it tighter around her. It hit him for the first time what he had asked of her this evening and she had just followed him into the night. Heíd never been trusted like this. He found himself wishing he could deserve it.

Scully followed him into the living room and watched him pick up the videotape from his coffee table. He turned and handed it to her. "Itís late, you donít need to watch this tonight, but I wanted you to have it. It wonít happen again, the guys are all over your apartment right now fixing it."

"Have they seen. . . ? " She handled the tape as though it had been dipped in poison.

"No. No one has seen it but me." Again she couldnít meet his eyes. A tape of her in her bedroom, probably nude, oblivious to a voyeur at her most intimate. Damn these people. "Itís late, why donít you go on to bed and try to get a little sleep tonight."

"I donít want to take your bed."

"Iím used to the couch, Scully. You know that. Go on, Iíll see you in the morning."

She allowed him to push her in the direction of his bedroom. The bed was unmade, mussed in fact. Heíd been in here when someone had brought him the tape. She crawled in the bed and buried her face in his pillow. She was surrounded by the essence of Mulder. She was supposed to sleep now?

After tossing and turning for what felt like hours she did drift into a restless sleep. His tap on the door the next morning brought her awake instantly. She knew she was in his bed and spotted the tape on the table beside her.

"Come in."

Mulder stuck his head in, "Iím going to get some bagels and coffee. You need anything else?"

No, Iím fine." He made no comment though the look on his face made it clear he wasnít buying it. As soon as she heard him leave she was out of the bed and had the tape in her hands.

Sitting on the coffee table, closer to the TV, she played the remote, speeding through scenes in her living room, watching her watch her own TV, reading with an occasional glass of wine. But the bedroom, those scenes she watched.

Changing clothes, walking around naked, exposed, then. . . oh god, had he seen this? She was on the bed, nude, it had been a long time! She had every right to. . . but did she have to call out his name? Oh god, if heíd seen this Ė she had to get out of here. She couldnít possibly face him now.

She was so caught up in the scene before her she didnít realize he had returned until he stepped into the room. "Coffee?" and saw the screen. "Scully. . . "

Scully jerked the tape out of the VCR so fast she wasnít sure she hadnít damaged his machine. Sheíd replace it; the tape had to be removed. She started around him back to the bedroom, but he caught her arm and stopped her.

"You need to know, Scully, please listen to me. You need to know that somewhere out there is a corresponding tape of me, undoubtedly on more than one occasion. And yes, I have guilt over invoking your name, for release if not satisfaction. There canít be satisfaction without you really being here."

"Mulder, donít. . . I canít. . .í

He pulled her into his arms and after only a token struggle she hid her face against his chest. They stood that way until she heard the rumble in his chest. She looked up to see him chuckling and looked the question at him.

"We really are pitiful Scully. Weíre supposed to be adults, youíre my best friend and we get hung up on this?"

"This is a big thing." She realized what she had said by the grin on his face and swatted him. "Stop that!"

"Should we laugh or cry about it Scully? We have the tape; you can destroy it right now if you want. Iíll get you a hammer or matches, whatever you need."

"Youíve already seen it." This was mumbled against his chest. He tipped her chin up to see in her eyes and she felt the heat come up in her face.

"Please donít hold that against me."

"But how many others have seen it? How many tapes are there?"

"Let me worry about that." He kept his anger under careful check. She didnít need to know how heíd reacted when the same questions came to him. He knew if there was evidence to find the guys would find it, and heíd handle things in his way. "I just need to know, am I going to find any where youíre not alone?"

"No." She spoke in a very small voice.

"How about calling out for Brad Pitt?"

"Mulder! God!" She smashed her fist against his chest now, "Let me out of here."

"No way. If we talk about it, it wonít grow in some dark corner. Itíll be out here where we can see it in the light."

"Playing psychologist?"

"Doing whatever it takes not to lose you. And enjoying that you are here right now. Please Scully, donít let them win, not over this, not over revealing something that. . . Donít let them win."

She was finally able to look at him again. He was making her feel better, although embarrassment was still flooding her. And even though she hadnít seen any tape of him, she knew in that deep down way that he had been telling her the truth about himself. That visual caused the blood to rush to her face again.

"Scully?"

"Nothing." He started to protest and she raised her hand, "I canít talk about this right now, maybe not for a long time, but. . . "

"But?"

"Thanks for getting me out of there tonight and, and everything." He nodded, smart enough to know not to push now. She was here, she was still talking to him, and thanks to his photographic memory abilities. . . theyíd explore the rest of it later.

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Mulder, Scully, the Lone Gunman and Skinner all belong to Chris Carter,10-13 and Fox. No infringement intended.


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