Pissed was not nearly strong enough a word to describe Patterson’s mood. His inability to get Roche to talk had eaten at him. When the prisoner had requested Spooky he’d wanted to chew nails. It didn’t matter; they needed information from this man. No one else cared that the ‘golden’ boy would get the credit.
It was late when Mulder and Reggie finally got to a motel. The fact that no one had made a reservation was just one more thing. Mulder already felt dirty from his time with Roche. At least the man hadn’t had time to research him. There had been no talk of Samantha. They had the gravesites of seven of the girls. He’d give up the other three tomorrow. Mulder would make sure of that.
To work off some energy, Mulder took a short run, then a quick shower upon his return. He came out toweling his hair, having changed into jeans and t-shirt. Reggie looked up from the TV. “Better not let Patterson see you out of uniform.”
“If he can’t manage to remember we need two rooms, I’m not going to be overly concerned.”
Reggie grinned. “You just stay in your own bed.”
“You’re cute, Reggie, but you’re not my type.”
“Thank goodness. You hungry?”
Mulder shrugged, “I could eat.”
“There’s a diner across the street. Breakfast 24-hours a day.”
Mulder followed him, giving him grief about his cholesterol.
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 cautiously. He raised his gun, ready for a quick glance, trying not to expose himself . . .
“Mulder! Mulder, wake up!” He opened his eyes to see Reggie bending over him. “You awake? Damn, that must have been some nightmare.” Reggie seated himself on his own bed. “You okay?”
Mulder sat up and ran his hands through his hair. “Sorry.”
“What was it? I’ve never heard you - “
“Nothing. It’s nothing, Reggie.”
“Sure you don’t want to talk about it?”
“Yeah, I’m sorry. Go on back to sleep.”
“What about you?”
“I’ll be okay.” Mulder didn’t meet his eyes.
“Okay. Mulder, it’s none of my business, but you might want to talk to someone.”
Mulder glanced up. “Yeah. When we get home.”
Not satisfied but knowing Mulder, Reggie nodded and got back into his bed. Mulder lay awake, concentrating on memories of Scully.
They’d gotten all they could. Mulder had recognized the heart that had baffled them, and purposefully not shown greater interest. Carmen Tory, eight years old - at least her parents knew now and he didn’t have the uncertainty. Things were being changed. He’d affected a few people - maybe not totally positive, but resolution. He was more than ready to go home. Being out in the field without Scully was unsettling. He kept looking for the rest of himself.
He glanced at his watch. What the hell, she should be home by now. He picked up the phone and dialed. After three rings her machine picked up.
“Guess you’re not home yet. It’s Mulder. Hope Ahab told you I had to go out of town. I’m hoping to get a flight out tonight but realistically it’ll be tomorrow at least. I’ll . . . I’ll call you then.”
Ethan stared at the machine, the dishtowel forgotten in his hands. After a long moment he approached the machine, light blinking now, and listened to the message again. He didn’t erase it, just turned abruptly back to the kitchen and poured himself a drink.
When she opened the door she spotted him standing in the opening to the kitchen. He didn’t speak.
“Ethan? Are you okay?”
Instead of answering he finished his drink and turned into the kitchen to pour another. She followed him. “Ethan, what’s wrong?”
“You have a message from your friend, Mulder,” he said flatly.
Her involuntary glance at the machine did not go unnoticed. “He hoped ‘Ahab’ told you he was going out of town. Guess he and your father are pretty close.”
Scully looked at him searching for something to say.
“Did you sleep with him?” Ethan’s voice was beginning to rise; his anger taking over the calm he had tried to hold onto.
“No. You mean sex, no,” she managed to get out.
His eyes narrowed. “No sex, but you’ve ‘slept’ with him?”
“It wasn’t . . . nothing happened. It was the night before Dad’s surgery. I went over to his apartment; I had questions.”
“Questions,” he repeated, taking a large swig of the Scotch.
“It got late. He offered to let me sleep on his couch, since I had to get up early to meet Mom and - “
“’Ahab’? You can call him that in front of me too. Where did he sleep?”
She looked away, but couldn’t control the flush that took her over.
Without warning his hand came out, backhanding her across the face. She stumbled back stunned, her hand to her cheek.
“Oh god.” He dropped the glass and moved toward her. “Oh god, Dana, I’m sorry. I - “ his face was ashen.
“Get out.” She backed further away. “Get out.”
“I didn’t mean - “
“Get out or I’ll call the police. And give me your key.”
“Dana, I didn’t mean . . . I was - “
She stepped to the door and opened it.
“You don’t mean that. I’m sorry. I never - “
Her eyebrow was high now, her spine straight, her demeanor frigid. Reluctantly he stepped toward her. She didn’t speak, merely holding out her hand for the key.
“Dana - “
The look in her eyes caused part of him to shrivel up, but he fumbled for his keys. The look in his eyes was pleading but she didn’t respond, just holding out her hand. Finally he dropped the key into her palm. “God knows I shouldn’t have hit you, Dana. I’ve never done anything like that before. It was the thought of you sleeping with . . . how could you do that to me, to us?”
“I’ll pack your things. The super can let you in to get them. Call first.”
He was barely out of range when she shut the door. He heard the deadbolt engage and the chain being secured.
Patterson had kept them an extra day for paperwork. Mulder could just as easily have written his report back in Washington. Patterson knew his memory, which was probably why he’d had them stay - punishment.
He’d hoped to get out earlier. Hell, he could have driven it by the time Patterson let them go. It was going to be late, too late to see her. Damn he missed her; she was so much a part of him now.
He let himself into the lonely apartment. He was definitely going to buy a bed this weekend. He showered and got ready to turn in on the couch. He hadn’t slept much the last two nights, afraid the nightmare would return and Reggie would witness it again. Maybe he was tired enough to sleep through the night.
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 made it to corner. Where the fucking hell was backup? Where was Scully? They should have met up by now. He took a deep breath and, gun extended, rounded the corner. The sight threatened to knock the breath out of him. He’d found their prey - Joseph Maxwell, but so had Scully. He had her, held tightly again him, a blade at her throat.
“Federal agent, release her.”
“Good to see you, Agent Mulder.”
“This place is surrounded. If you want to make it out - “
“Alive? I don’t. I have no desire to spend the rest of my life ‘incarcerated’. Shoot me, let’s see which of us is quicker,” he taunted.
“Scully - “
“No, you talk to me, Agent Mulder. Do you want me to slice her quick or prick her, letting her blood out more slowly?”
“Let her go. I can put in a good word with - “
“God you’re pathetic. Shoot me, Mulder. Get this over with.”
“Let her step away and we’ll talk.”
Crimson appeared on his blade as he pressed more closely to her vein. Mulder’s fingers tightened on the trigger. He didn’t mind killing this guy, but it wasn’t a clean shot. He could jerk her into the path of the bullet. “Mulder,” she nodded with her eyes. She trusted him.
He wasn’t sure the sequence of events after that. It all seemed to happen at once. Scully tried to twist away, he aimed and the knife sliced into her flesh. The bullet pierced Joseph’s brow but late, too late. They both dropped to the concrete floor but Mulder only had eyes for her. The blood, how much blood did she have in her - Scully!
He woke crying her name, shaking violently. Without conscious thought the phone was in his hand, dialing her.
“Mulder? What’s wrong?”
“I, I had to hear . . . “
“Are, are you alone? Sorry, that’s none - “
“Yes, I’m alone. Mulder, why don’t I come over there? You, you sound upset.”
“I need to . . . “
“I’ll be there in an hour, Mulder. Try to relax.”
He nodded, though of course she couldn’t see, and hung up the phone. He was pacing by the time she arrived, throwing the door open and taking her into his arms before she could speak. He kicked the door closed and had her pressed up against it. She realized he was focused on her throat, kissing, nuzzling it, his fingers caressing it wherever his lips weren’t.
“Mulder, what happened?”
“This is a do-over.”
He leaned back and looked at her, his eyes devouring her. Then he focused on the huge bruise on her face. His hand cupped her cheek gently. “What happened?”
“Nothing, I need to know what’s going on with - “
“How did you get hurt?” his voice was firm, his expression unyielding.
“Mulder - “
“Did Ethan do this?” She looked away and his grip tightened on her arm. “Did he hurt you?”
“He was . . . he heard your message and he was . . . “
“I caused this.” He touched the bruise lightly.
“No. No, he was caught off guard. While he was waiting for me he had a few drinks. He never hit me before.”
“So you forgive him?” his voice was tight.
“No. He showed a side of himself I’d never seen. I asked him to leave, well, I told him to leave.”
He just stared at her for a long moment. She could see the anger growing in him. “Where is he?”
“Muld - “
“Where is he?” his voice was low, dangerous.
“I’m not going to tell you, so forget it,” she faced him squarely.
Now that sounded like his Scully. He almost smiled. “He deserves - “
“Tell me why I’m here.”
“What?” That brought him back to his nightmare and his arms were around her again.
“You found out something, you, you understand something you didn’t before. What happened to you? What did you mean, ‘do-over’?”
He led her to the couch and tucked her up against him. “You won’t believe this either.”
“We had a case with a psychic, Clyde Bruckman. He has the ability to see how everyone dies.” She looked up at him, but waited. “You didn’t tell me for a long time, but he told you that you don’t.”
“Mulder - “
“I didn’t find out until you were on a case in New York. They were trying to separate us again; you had another partner, temporarily. Peyton Ritter, he was an idiot. He, he shot you.”
“My partner shot me?”
“He shot the perp, but you were behind him. You’re not a very big person, he probably didn’t see you, but that’s no excuse if you’re a half decent agent. You check; you don’t take a shot unless you know . . .” He shuddered then and her hand was on his arm. “It was a kill shot. There was no way you could have survived it. You were out of the hospital in less than two weeks. The doctors didn’t want to talk about it. You survived, you healed.”
“That happens, Mulder. I’m a doctor; I know that there are times when, for unknown reasons, things go right.”
His arms tightened around her. “You’ve beaten death a few times.”
She twisted to look up at him.
“I’ll tell you, someday. Apparently I can change things now; I plan to make it better for you this time. I plan to do a lot of things differently this time.”
“Talk to me, Mulder. Tell me what happened.”
“Ha! HORSE and in your face!” Mulder grinned at the man panting beside him.
“You cheated, you fouled me on that lay up,” he groused good naturedly.
“You keep telling yourself that, Bill.” Mulder wiped his face off with his t-shirt and grinned as he watched Scully come out of the house. She was carrying Emily and looking around for Will.
“He’s over there, with Dad and Matthew,” Mulder called, pointing toward his father-in-law who was manning the grill.
“Okay, keep an eye on him around that thing. I don’t want the boys to get burned. I’m going to nurse Emily.”
“They’ll be okay,” William called.
Mulder’s smile grew and he nodded.
“Come on, you owe me another chance,” Bill said as he grinned and slapped Mulder’s shoulder.
“A do-over? Sure.” Mulder passed him the ball.
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Mulder, Scully, the Lone Gunman and Skinner all belong to Chris Carter, 10-13 and Fox. No infringement intended.