"He switched back and forth between male and female, thatís why he was so hard to spot. He was still in counseling regarding whether or not he was a candidate for the surgery to have the sex change. He was already on the hormone therapy. Apparently he wanted to know what . . . what being female meant in areas he couldnít imagine." Skinner was speaking to her but she couldnít face him.
Sheíd failed. The women had been alive when sheíd found them. But she had underestimated the damage this man had done to Cynthia and Diana. They hadnít been able to face their husbands, their families after what he had done to them. But Julie, she should have been able to save Julie and Lori.
Cynthiaís aim had been too good, too accurate. Neither she nor Diana could conceive of anyone wanting to live after what they had endured. They probably thought they were doing Julie and the others a favor.
"Is that all?" Mulder knew she was losing it, he needed to get her out of here, away from this case for awhile. He knew how she felt, heíd been through this himself and he was honestly frightened of how she was taking it.
"Yes, Iíll submit your reports when I get the autopsy results." He nodded at Mulder as dismissal, allowing his own concern for Scully to show for an instant. Mulder acknowledged it and took Scullyís arm as she stood. She didnít pull away, but she didnít seem to notice either.
Mulder walked her to the door and watched her leave the room, then turned back to Skinner. "Are the bodies here?"
Skinner nodded. "She had them shipped here for examination. Is she able to talk about it yet?"
"Let me know what you need." Mulder nodded and moved out of the office. He hadnít realized she had stopped right outside the door, waiting for him.
"Letís get out of here Scully. Thereís nothing we can do today and we donít have anything that important pending. Let me take you home."
"I need to work." She knew what he was trying to do, but he seemed so far away and she wasnít sure how to reach him. But it wasnít him, it was her. She needed to reach out, she needed his strength but he seemed somehow distant. Did he blame her for the deaths of those women?
"No Scully, right now you need to recuperate. Let me look after you for a change."
She made no comment, allowing him to lead her out of the office and the building.
When they arrived at her apartment he sat her on the couch and removed her shoes. He wanted desperately for her to let him in, to let him relieve some of the pressure for her. Sheíd done that for him often enough.
They hadnít made love since that night, the night before sheíd been taken. It was almost as if she feared him. Didnít she know he would never willingly hurt her? "I think you should lie down for a bit."
"Mulder, Iím Ė "
"Donít say fine, Scully. Itís not the truth and we both know it. Come on." He rose and pulled her back to her feet, then led her toward her bedroom.
She stiffened as they approached the bed. "Mulder, I . . . I canít Ė "
"No pressure Scully. Just let me hold you." She relaxed slightly and reclined on the bed. He joined her and pulled her into his arms. It took her a long time to relax enough to let him get truly close to her. He hated to see her suffer like this. She had done a good job. She had caught the sicko that had taken the women; she had almost saved them. Hell, she had survived and thatís the only thing that really mattered to him.
She finally drifted off and he allowed himself to relax next to her. Heíd been with her constantly since they had pulled her from the surf where sheíd been trying to pull one of the women back to shore Ė Julie, wasnít it? He was exhausted too and since she was here in his arms, safe for now, he allowed himself to sink into sleep as well.
When he awoke she wasnít in his arms. He rose and went looking for her. She wasnít in her bathroom, or living room, or kitchen. His fear had grown with each room. He returned to the living room Ė her shoes were gone. His heart sank. Where was she? He looked out the window and saw that his car was also missing.
Where would she . . . oh shit! The autopsies. She couldnít handle that. He had to stop her. How long had she been gone?
He was able to flag down a cab quickly and headed for Quantico. Surely she hadnít been out of his arms for long. How could he have fallen asleep when she needed him so desperately? He tossed the money at the driver and raced inside to the lab.
She stared down at Julieís body. She was so still, so white. How many bodies had she looked at over the years? Thousands? But not like this. Julie had died saving her life. Cynthia had been aiming at her. Sheíd been trying to get the gun away from her after she shot Diana, Lori and Amber. The surf had turned red with the four womenís blood. Then while, she was trying to pull Julie out of the water Cynthia had turned the gun on herself. Sheíd handled everything wrong.
She began the autopsy. Cause of death wasnít an issue. She needed to know what that SOB had done to her, to all of them.
No. No sane person would do this. The pain these injuries would have caused . . . Cynthia was right about one thing; it had been too late. This probably couldnít have been repaired. Children would have been out of the question. How could he . . .? She leaned against the table, closing her eyes and allowing the tears to escape from them.
When she opened them the glint of the light off the scalpel caught her eye. It wasnít right; these women had protected her. Theyíd saved her from this same mutilation. She should be dead, like Julie. She brought the blade up, closer to her face. It was sharp, one quick slice and sheíd join them. Thatís the way it should be. She brought the blade closer to her throat.
"Scully!" He knocked the blade from her hand and it hit the tile floor, skidding under the counter. "God, Scully!" He pulled her into his shaking arms. "What were you thinking? Scully you canít do this." His grip tightened but her own arms remained at her side. "Scully, can you hear me?"
He was scared to death. Scully wouldnít kill herself. She was the last person who would do something like this. He had to get her out of here. Keeping his arm tightly around her, he led her from the lab, stopping only long enough to inform a technician she was leaving.
He seated her in his car and got in himself. "Scully can you hear me?" There was no response so he started up the car. His apartment was closer; heíd take her there. It was like moving a large doll. She didnít protest, but she didnít help any either.
Once at his place he seated her on the couch and left to make her some hot tea, after he made certain she wasnít armed. She hadnít moved when he returned. "Scully, drink this. Itíll warm you up." She wouldnít take it, so he held it to her lips but after a couple of sips she refused any more.
Should he take her to a hospital? Who should he call? No, not yet, maybe sheíd snap out of it if she could rest. He helped her to her feet and led her to his bedroom. Once seated on the bed he began undressing her. She still seemed unaware of him, not protesting even when he removed her bra.
He slipped one of his t-shirts over her head and then put her to bed, tucking her in. Her eyes closed and he felt a moment of relief. If she could get some rest, she might begin thinking straight again.
He pulled the door to the bedroom almost closed and returned to the living room. He could see the door from there and hear her if she cried out. His mind replayed the scene of walking in and seeing her with that scalpel moving toward her throat. Would she have done it? Would she really have killed herself?
He obviously hadnít heard what had really happened while this sicko imprisoned her. She needed to talk it out; he had to get her to confide in him. Surely she could do that now Ė they had been lovers. It was hard to believe they could be closer than they had been, but in her arms heíd finally felt complete. She had felt the same, that couldnít be faked.
He moved back toward the bedroom. He didnít want to disturb her, but he needed to be close to her. She was asleep but it certainly couldnít be classified as peaceful. How could he help her?
He turned off the lights and curled around her body, trying to warm her even though he knew her shivers werenít caused by a physical cold. It seemed to help, at least she got some sleep. He dozed occasionally. After knowing she had slipped from his arms and nearly . . . sleep wasnít something he was comfortable with right now.
"Sir, Agent Mulder. I just wanted you to know that Agent Scully is going to need a few days."
"Did something happen?" The concern in his voice was obvious.
"Can I speak off the record?"
The hesitation was so slight Mulder might have imagined it. "Yes."
Mulder cleared his throat. "Agent Scully attempted suicide yesterday."
"She . . . is she all right?"
"Physically, yes." The answer was cautious and Skinnerís concern rose.
"Where is she?"
"Sheís going to need more help than that. Did she ingest . . .?"
"Uh, no. It was a scalpel. I got there is time."
There was an even longer pause this time. "Mulder, are you all right?"
"I just wanted you to know that we wouldnít be in."
"Mulder, keep me up to date. Let me know what you need. Try to get her to talk to someone."
"Iíll be in touch." He broke the connection; there wasnít anything more to say. He sat staring into space, unsure what his next move should be. He looked up as he heard his bedroom door open.
"Mulder? Were you on the phone?"
"Yeah, I was telling Skinner we were going to take a few days." He rose and put an arm around her to lead her to the couch.
She jerked away. "Itís me Scully. Iím not going to hurt you, I need you to talk to me."
She shook her head not able to respond to him. "Youíve got to get it out. It doesnít have to be in the report, but you have to get it out."
"I canít . . . "
"Scully, itís me. I love you. Youíve got to let me help you. I donít ever want to see a scene like I saw yesterday again. I donít want you to even think about dying."
"I should have been able to save them."
"What happened Scully? What did you do that you would change?"
She sighed; he wasnít going to let up. Would he be able to look at her again when he knew how badly she had screwed up? He said he loved her, would he after this? "I didnít realize how badly damaged Cynthia was. She was the first one taken; he had the longest to torture her. I should have taken that into account. But I didnít know that sick fuck had a gun. He didnít use it on me, as far as I know he didnít use it at all after he took her. For those few seconds they all seemed stunned when she grabbed it from the desk.
"I had taken the phone and dialed 911. I should never had turned away but . . . "
"Scully, there was no way you could have known there was a gun there. Did you feel that you had time to look for one?"
"But I should have thought of it! I didnít. It was my fault everything went so wrong!"
His arms cradled her. "Why do you think you might have missed it?" He sounded matter of fact but his arms were making her warm for the first time since . . .
"I was too worried about their state of mind. What he did to them . . . I just wanted to get them out. I knew we could track him down with their help even if we didnít find him there. These women would have been able to identify him without a problem. I wanted to get the police there, thatís why I called 911 instead of checking . . . "
"Thatís the choice I would have made. How could you know that one of the victims would turn on the other victims and murder them?"
"It wasnít murder. I believe she thought she was doing them a favor. She couldnít conceive of anyone wanting to live after what heíd done to them."
"Scully what did he . . . " He stopped as the tears started to flow again. "Iím sorry. You donít need to talk about this anymore now. Just let me hold you."
She nodded slightly. Could he make it better? Mulder? Heíd listened to her, he hadnít judged her. She didnít feel quite as much like killing herself sitting here in his arms. "You make a pretty good psychologist."
He gave her a slight grin. "I donít know about that, but I want to help. Youíve done it for me often enough."
"Why do you say that? Youíre the one that always gets the call that I need you. You never call me Mulder."
He stared at her a moment, "Is that the way you see it?" He tried to remember all the times sheíd been there for him, "Maybe itís true. Maybe I donít call you Ė but thatís because youíre always already there. You know when I need you before I do."
She looked at him for a long moment. He seemed sincere. He thought she helped him? Heíd gotten her through so much, more than he even knew. He was giving her back the will to live. Her guilt was still there, it always would be; but so was Mulder. In his arms . . . one day at a time Dana. If anything was going to get her through this it would be Mulder.
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