It was a mixed day at work. Patterson alternately pleased to have gotten their man so quickly and furious that the credit and yet more legend was growing around Mulder. Reggie ran interference to the best of his ability. At least Mulder wasn’t crowing about his part in the case, demurring when the press turned to him at the conference. “Agent Patterson led this investigation. He trained me; he trained all of us to know what to look for. He’s the man you should be talking to.”
Patterson couldn’t exactly find fault with that, but the truth still rankled. Spooky had pulled a name out of the air, literally and been correct. It was galling. How the hell did he know these things? When Patterson went searching for him, Reggie reported Mulder had gone to the hospital to see a sick friend. Patterson had closed his eyes, shaking his head and turned away uncharacteristically without another word.
Mulder was more than ready to get out of Patterson’s line of fire by the time he escaped. He turned into the waiting room and spotted Maggie, alone, staring into the space. “Mrs. Scully?”
She turned then, anxious to hear some news of her husband. “Yes?”
“I’m sorry; I don’t work at the hospital. I’m Fox Mulder, a friend of Sc-Dana’s.”
“Yes, she mentioned you.”
Unsure what she might have said, he merely smiled. “May I have a seat?”
“Oh, of course.” She shifted on the sofa to give him more room.
“Have you heard anything?”
“The nurse has come out a couple of times to assure me that everything is going well. Dana says it’s a routine procedure, but it doesn’t feel very routine right now.” She managed a smile.
“No, I guess it doesn’t. Can I get you anything?”
“No thank you, I’ve already had too much coffee and I can’t eat.”
He nodded, “Would you like to be alone?”
“No, please, sit here with me. I might not be very good company, but it’s lonely in here.”
He smiled, relaxing back. “I’m sorry Bill couldn’t be here with you. Were you able to reach Missy?”
She looked startled at that. “Yes, she’ll be here tomorrow. Have you met my other children?”
“Uh, no.” Well it was true right now, “Dana mentioned them.”
“Have you known Dana long?”
“Yes and no. It feels like we’ve known each other a long time, but in actuality . . . “
She couldn’t hide her curiosity, but managed to curb her questions at least for now. They were questions for Dana anyway, not this man. They sat in companionable silence then until the door opened again.
”Mom, have you - Mulder?”
“I thought I’d - “
“Thank you,” she interrupted taking his hand. Her mother watched but remained quiet. Something was obviously happening between them, but what about Ethan? He hadn’t even called. “Obviously you’ve met Mom.”
“We introduced ourselves,” he said easily, ignoring the questions in both women’s eyes. Before he had to field any questions the door opened again. “Mrs. Scully? I just wanted you to know that everything went very smoothly. Mr. Scully is in recovery right now, if you like you can see him for a moment. He’s still out of it and is on a respirator, but he’s doing very well.” The doctor looked over at Dana and nodded reassurance.
Maggie was on her feet then, Mulder’s hand on her elbow as she rose. “Please, I’d like to see him.”
“Of course. Just follow me. Dana, you can visit next time.” The doctor assured her.
“It’s okay. Mom, I’ll be right here.”
Maggie nodded and hurried after the doctor. Scully sank into the seat her mother had vacated. Mulder couldn’t help himself; he reached over and tucked a strand of hair behind her ear, caressing her cheek in the process. She leaned into the feel of his hand, relief taking her strength for a moment.
“I should go - “Mulder started.
“No, I mean, could you wait until Mom gets back?”
“Sure. Uh, is Ethan going to catch me with you again?”
“Ethan doesn’t know about Ahab.”
“He doesn’t . . . Why not?”
“I haven’t seen him. He’s upset with me.”
“He’s in a snit. I didn’t have the energy to reassure him, or the inclination to be honest. I’ve been focused on Ahab.”
“I’m not complaining,” Mulder said quietly.
She met his eyes then. “No, I don’t suppose you are. You can be a very disruptive influence, Fox Mulder.”
He winced slightly. “Mulder, just Mulder.”
“You don’t like Fox?”
“Only when your mother uses it. It sounds right coming from her, but no one else.”
“You and Mom are close?”
“We’ve, we will share some experiences. Maybe.”
“You are a fascinating man.”
He grinned, “and don’t you forget it.” She rolled her eyes, but sank back on the sofa beside him and relaxed for a moment. He couldn’t help himself. He put an arm around her drawing her close. She didn’t protest, leaning against him.
That’s how Mrs. Scully found them. Dana sat up quickly. “How was he?”
“Pale. He’s not going to be happy about that thing down his throat, but his vital signs are stable and he did open his eyes. He won’t remember it, but I spoke to him and he squeezed my hand.” She sank into the empty chair. “This has all happened so quickly. We’re so lucky to have a doctor in the family. I don’t know what you saw, but very glad you did.”
Scully glanced over at Mulder, who smiled and nodded. “Well, I need to get back to the office. I just wanted to check in.”
“Thank you for stopping by, Fox,” Maggie said. “I hope I’ll see you again.”
“I guarantee it.” He took her hand for a moment. “I’ll be in touch.”
Scully rose then and walked him to the elevator. “I can’t explain to her why I insisted on the tests.”
“You don’t have to. You’re a doctor; just let her go on believing you noticed something.”
“But you’re the one that saved him.”
Mulder shook his head. “The doctors did that. I’m glad if I helped. May I call you later?”
“Please.” On impulse she rose on tiptoe and kissed his cheek. His eyes lightened and he stepped on the elevator, forcing himself not to take her in his arms and kiss her as he wanted.
The phone rang as he finished up the leftover Chinese. “Hello?”
“Agent Mulder? It’s John Byers.”
“Hi, what’s happening?”
“Well, uh, we wondered . . . “
“I told Scully about her father. I don’t know if it was the right thing to do, but I couldn’t just know he was going to die without doing something. He’s very important to her.”
“Geez, this is . . . Scully is my, will be my partner at the FBI. She’s also, well anyway her father died suddenly of a heart attack in ’94. Today he had open heart surgery because of my warning.”
“I . . . I see.”
“Do you think I’m making a mistake?”
“No, I don’t know . . . We’ve been talking about it; arguing actually. I would have done the same.”
“I don’t suppose you have any theories on how I can get back to my time?”
“Nothing you’d want to hear, but it was a good debate.” Mulder could hear the humor in Byers’ voice.
“You guys gonna be up for awhile?”
“I want to stop by the hospital and check on Captain Scully, but then could I come over?”
“Please do. We’d very much like to talk with you.”
“I can imagine. Thanks, I’ll see you after a while.” Mulder hung up, musing. Now that he’d said it, did he really want to go back? Well, yes and no. Here it was before all the terrible things had happened to Scully. She had no implant, no cancer in her future . . . she could have children. They could have children. He knew to be more careful now, more circumspect in his search. If he had saved Captain Scully’s life, why not theirs? Emily, they could have Emily together and she wouldn’t have to be sick.
He stopped at the nurse’s station. That’s where Scully spotted him. Smiling she approached him. “Hi. I was just heading in to see him. Come with me.”
“No, I can’t intrude. I just wanted to check.”
“I want him to meet you. You’re an important figure in his life.”
“You didn’t say - “
“No. I wouldn’t know what to say, but that doesn’t make you any less important. Please.”
“You’re sure it’s okay?”
“Yes. They’ve already taken him off the respirator. He’s on a little bit of oxygen now. They’ll get him up in a few hours.”
“Hours? After open heart surgery?”
She nodded as he followed her down the hall. “They want him moving as much as possible to keep him from the possibility of pneumonia.”
Her mother was coming out of the room and stopped when she saw them. “Fox, I’m glad you came back.”
“I don’t want to be in the way, Mrs. Scully.”
“Maggie, please. You won’t be. He’s feeling better already. Come on in.”
Mulder followed the two women into the room. “William, I’d like you to meet a friend of Dana’s. This is Fox Mulder.”
“Mr. Mulder.” William held out his hand and Mulder could see the strength in the man, the air of command even now.
“I’m very pleased to meet you, sir.”
“A friend of Dana’s?”
“Yes,” Mulder turned and looked down at her. She was smiling up at him.
“I don’t believe we’ve met before.”
“No, we haven’t.”
“I hope I’ll be able to see you again when I’m up and about.”
Mulder glanced back at Scully. “I hope so too. I don’t want to tire you out. You’ve had a full day, but I’m very pleased to meet you.”
“Thank you, son.” He looked a little puzzled, but shook Mulder’s hand again.
“I’ll walk you out,” Scully said. She kissed her father on the cheek. “I’ll be right back.” William watched Mulder’s hand come to rest lightly on her lower back, leading her out into the hall.
William waited until the door shut, then turned to Maggie. “What happened to Ethan?”
“I don’t know. I haven’t seen him and she hasn’t spoken of him in days.”
“Do you know who this Mulder is?”
Maggie shook her head, straightening his covers. “You need to rest now.”
“I am. You need to find out about him.”
“He’s in love with Starbuck.”
“In love?” Maggie looked up at the door.
“Completely. They haven’t just known each other just a few days.”
“Don’t you worry about it now. I’ll have him over to dinner after you’re home, if he’s still around.”
“He will be. I’m sure of that.”
Maggie took a seat next to him then and took his hand. He squeezed hers and closed his eyes.
As they passed the nurse’s station, one of the nurses stopped them. “Dr. Scully? They’ve transferred a call up here to you.”
“Oh, okay.” She accepted the receiver, but held out her hand to keep Mulder from leaving. “Dr. Scully.”
“Dana? Where are you? I’ve left message after message. We need to talk.”
“Ethan. I’m sorry, but I’ve been busy.” She watched Mulder’s face go carefully blank at the name, but he didn’t pull away.
“Too busy to even call me back?”
“I haven’t even heard your messages, Ethan. Dad’s in the hospital. He had open heart surgery this morning.”
“Dana! You should have called me. Is he okay?”
“Yes, he’s doing very well. I was just in to see him; they caught me at the nurse’s station.”
“Are you okay?”
“Will you be coming home tonight?”
“I don’t know yet. I want to check on him again before I decide.”
There was a pause, then, “Okay. I hope to see you later.”
“Are you at my place?”
“Okay. I’ll let you know if I’m coming home.”
“Dana - “ but she had already broken the connection.
She looked up at Mulder. He took her arm and led her into the empty waiting room. Once there he pulled her against him and kissed her again. Her response was reassuring. “Are you going home to him?” he asked when he finally released her.
“Mulder, this is crazy. We don’t know each other.”
“I know you; I know every bit of you. I know what pleases you.”
She blushed at the look in his eyes but didn’t protest. She was unaccountably sure he was right. “I, I need to get back.”
“I’ll call you.” The look his eyes caused a shiver up her spine. She nodded and watched him enter the elevator without a backward glance.
She headed back to the room to find her mother coming out. “He’s asleep.”
“You should go on home, Mom. He really shouldn’t have any more company today anyway. Do you want me to drive you?”
“I have my car, Honey. You should go on home and try to sleep a little yourself.”
“Do you want me to stay with you tonight?” Dana offered quickly.
Maggie shook her head. “We’ll both sleep better in our own beds.” She gave her daughter a kiss on the cheek. “I’ll see you tomorrow.”
Reluctantly Dana put her key into the lock but before she could turn it, the door opened. Ethan took her into his arms and she forced herself to reciprocate. “How are you? How’s your father?”
“Dad’s doing very well.”
“I’ve got dinner ready.”
“You didn’t - “
“Let me look after you a little bit, Dana. Come on, take your shoes off.”
She obeyed him without a word. It was too much trouble and she already didn’t want to be here. They ate quietly; he finally realized she didn’t feel like talking. When she had eaten, he took their dishes into the kitchen.
“Why don’t you soak in the tub for a while?”
“Thank you, Ethan.” She turned away and headed for the bath. He watched her with a confused and concerned look on his face.
She ran her bath, using her special bath oil and soaked. She was aware of a feeling she couldn’t quite put her finger on. As she relaxed she put it aside until later. It wasn’t until the water had cooled and she forced herself out of the tub that she realized what it was. She missed Mulder. She didn’t want to be here with Ethan. She wrapped her robe around her, belting it tightly.
He met her in the bedroom and his arms went around her. She leaned against him, avoiding his kiss. “I’ve missed you, Dana.”
“I’m sorry, but I’m exhausted, Ethan.”
He rubbed her back lightly. “I understand. Go on and lie down. I’ll be in soon.”
She only nodded and turned away. She lay awake trying not to remember the previous night on the couch with Mulder. When Ethan did join her, she pretended sleep, her back to him and eventually slipped under.
Mulder was having much the same problem. He missed her, missed her body against his. He shouldn’t have joined her on the couch last night, but seeing her there sleeping, he’d lost his better judgment. Nothing had happened. She had barely stirred, just cuddling into him. Asleep she knew him.
Now he was here alone and she was probably in bed with Ethan. Damnit, he shouldn’t have allowed that thought to form. She was his, he’d earned his place in her life, or he would. Shit.
He finally forced it away and slept.
He was in a large structure. It felt empty, like a vacant warehouse. He had his gun in his hand and he knew Scully was elsewhere, also searching through this building. Where the hell was their back up? They shouldn’t have separated but time was of the essence. He didn’t dare call out for her, alerting anyone else of their presence. He approached a turn in the corridor . . .
And woke up gasping. His heart was hammering out of his chest, sweat soaked his t-shirt. He stripped it off, drying his face and chest. What the fuck? That was a new one. He already had plenty thank you - Samantha, a multitude of Scully ones, but he hadn’t had this one before. Did he want to try to sleep again?
After a moment’s thought he decided no and turned on the TV. Some black and white classic with Lionel Barrymore was on, so he settled on his side and watched.
Eventually he did sleep again to be woken by the phone. “Hullo?” he muttered sleepily.
“Mulder, you awake?”
“Reggie? Yeah, what?”
“Patterson wants us in Boston.”
“Yeah. He’s agreed to talk, but only to you.”
“He ‘respects’ you. Hell, all I know is Patterson is beyond pissed but the guy only wants you.”
“He wants to form the nexus . . . “ Mulder murmured mostly to himself.
“Nothing. When’s our flight?”
“Eleven thirty. I have to go by the office and pick up some things for Patterson.”
“Why didn’t he call me?”
“Because you’re Spooky, because he’s pissed, hell if I know. Get packed.”
“I’ll meet you at the airport.” He rose and took a quick shower then packed. Instead of heading to the office he turned toward the hospital.
There was no one visiting in Captain Scully’s room. Mulder tapped on the door and entered.
“Mr. Mulder, you’re here early.”
Mulder smiled, trying to hide his disappointment at missing her. “I’m on my way to the airport and thought I’d check in.”
“You travel in your work?”
“I’m an FB I agent. I have to travel quite a bit.”
William looked him over. “FBI? Is that how you met Dana?”
“Kind of.” Mulder took the seat William indicated. “She’s very good at forensics.”
“How long have you known each other?”
Mulder’s lips turned up slightly. “A little over a week?”
“That sounded like a question.”
“I feel like I’ve know her a long time.”
“It seems that way to me as well,” William observed.
Mulder looked away for an instant. “I need to get moving. Could you tell her I had to leave town?”
“Of course. Take care of yourself, son.” William held out his hand.
“You too, sir. I hope to see you when I get back.”
Mulder rose and left, William watching, musing over what he had learned.
Links to other sites on the Web
Mulder, Scully, the Lone Gunman and Skinner all belong to Chris Carter, 10-13 and Fox. No infringement intended.