He checked his watch again. She should be back by now. What had Skinner wanted to see her about this late anyway? Hell, heíd go by on his way out. Maybe theyíd be through by then.
No one was left on the floor. Angie must have left right after she called Scully. He raised his hand to knock on the door. He didnít hear any voices, was that a grunt? What was going on? The door wasnít locked; he opened it and froze in shock.
There on the sofa was Skinner savagely thrusting himself into Scully. He held both of her hands over her head in one of his. Her eyes were wide in terror and pain, but her gag allowed no screaming. The grunts he heard were coming from Skinner.
He couldnít remember moving across the room, but he had his hands on Skinnerís shoulders, hauling him off of her and slamming him into the floor. He hit Skinner two or three times in the face, hearing his nose break before he got control enough to stop, and he realized Skinner was unconscious. He rolled him to his stomach so he wouldnít choke on his own blood, and cuffed him to the leg of his desk. Then he turned back to Scully.
She had managed to remove her gag and was huddled in one corner of the sofa, trying to catch her breath.
"Scully?" He reached out his hand and she jerked back violently.
"No, donít touch, donít - " and she ran past him to the private en-suite. Mulder stood there helplessly listening to her retch. He slowly followed her in and pulled several towels from the dispenser, wet them and handed them to her. She wiped her face and sat back against the wall.
"Let me help you." He reached down to lift her to her feet.
"No! Go in the other room. Iíll - Iíll be there in a minute."
Mutely he backed away from her and retreated to the office. He checked on Skinner. His heartbeat was way too fast for someone unconscious.
She emerged from the lavatory and he got his first good look at her. Her clothes were in shreds, there was a large bruise starting on her face and bite marks on her breasts and stomach.
"Iíll call the police."
"No! Donít call anyone. I donít want anyone to know about this."
"Scully, you need treatment. You - "
"Iím fine, Mulder."
"Scully, youíre - youíre bleeding. Heís obviously caused a lot of trauma."
She looked dully down at the blood trickling down her leg. "Thereís nothing that wasnít already damaged beyond repair. Donít worry - "
Why was Mulder crying? Had he hurt himself when he was fighting with Skinner? What was he saying? Concentrate, Dana. Stay in control.
"Mulder, I need some clothes. Could you find me something?"
"Sure, whatever you need. I - I donít want to leave you - " he glanced at Skinner.
"Heís not going anywhere. Go on, I need the clothes."
He was back in no time with sweats and a t-shirt she kept in the office. She retreated to the lavatory to change. She came out carrying the ruined clothes and Mulder took a step toward her, stopping as she cringed.
"Iíll bag those as evidence."
"No. Iíll burn them."
"Weíve got to call the police, Scully."
"No." The look on her face froze him. "We have to get him out of here. Weíll take him to his apartment."
"Scully . . . "
"If you wonít help me, Iíll do it alone." She was deadly serious. She turned and looked around for his clothes, littered on the floor. She reached down for his pants.
"No, Scully, let me do that. Why donít you sit down." Instead she retreated to the window, turning her back as Mulder struggled to redress the comatose man.
"Okay Scully, heís dressed. His pulse is way up there."
"He was drugged."
"How do you know that?"
"Skinner wouldnít do . . . this was out of character." She stated it so flatly, no emotion, not even any sarcasm for such as understatement. "Weíll have to use your car. I donít think we can get him in my back seat like this. Well? Come on."
He didnít know how to handle this; it was too close to him. She was in shock, but so was he. Rather than dwell on it, he unfastened Skinner and hauled him up off the floor.
"Can you carry him?"
"Yeah. Get the elevator."
He barely managed to make it to the car. Skinner was a big man, and complete dead weight. Scully had had to help him get him into the back seat, retreating as soon as possible. He got into the car himself with shaking knees and turned in time to see Scully wince as she sat beside him.
"Scully, youíve got to have medical attention."
"Later, letís get him to his apartment. Have you got his keys?" He nodded and pulled out of the parking lot.
Getting Skinner into his apartment was slightly easier. He was beginning to come around and with Mulderís help, actually staggered out of the elevator on his own feet.
Mulder put him on his bed and he was out again. Mulder rejoined Scully who was standing, unmoving in the middle of Skinnerís living room.
"You want some tea? Or something stronger?" Mulder desperately wanted to comfort her, but was afraid to get too close.
"Tea, tea would be fine."
He retreated to the kitchen and she was vaguely aware of cabinets opening and dishes rattling. When he returned she was still standing in the same spot.
She took the cup he offered, but seemed to want it more to warm her hands than to drink.
"Scully, let me take you home. You canít do anything here tonight."
"No. I donít want to go home. I want . . . I need to talk to Skinner."
"You canít do that tonight. Iíll take you home and call your mother to come over."
"No! Besides, sheís in California. Mulder, swear to me youíll never tell her about this."
"Scully . . . "
"Swear it Mulder." He nodded. "I want to hear you say the words."
"I swear I wonít tell your mother what happened."
She nodded and seemed to relax a little.
"Look, heís going to be out for a while. Why donít you stretch out on the couch, see if you can rest a little?"
She nodded and walked haltingly to the couch, as though walking required a thought process she couldnít grasp.
Mulderís heart broke at the sight of her. Heíd never seen her like this, never defeated. And she wouldnít let him near her.
He found a blanket in Skinnerís closet and brought it to her. She seemed grateful for the warmth. He checked on Skinner again, his pulse rate was down and his nose wasnít bleeding. He felt totally helpless.
When he returned to the living room, Scully was asleep, so he retreated to an easy chair where she could see him immediately when she woke and sat watching her, willing her to heal.
Her thrashing jerked him awake. Sheíd kicked off the blanket and was fighting whatever demons had invaded her dreams.
"Scully, wake up. Itís just a dream, Scully. Scully, please." He couldnít get her to hear him, so he finally grasped her shoulders, trying to get through. At his touch she shrieked and kicked out, waking herself as he fell back.
"Yeah, it was a nightmare. You . . . god, Scully, youíre bleeding again. Thatís it, youíre going to the hospital. Now."
"Mulder, I . . . "
"Iím not arguing with you anymore. Heís not going anywhere and youíve got to get some help. Come on."
She rose from the couch, knowing somewhere in the back of her mind he was right.
He took her to the emergency room and, shamelessly flashing his credentials got them immediate attention. He paced outside her examining room until the doctor emerged. He headed straight for Mulder.
"Do you have the man that did this in custody?"
"Yes." It wasnít really a lie.
"Sheís refusing the rape kit. We need to call in the authorities, take pictures, and preserve a semen sample."
"We wonít need it. Heís not going anywhere even without her testimony." That at least was true.
"Sheís refusing the morning after pill too. Says itís not necessary."
He had to look away at that point. "Give it to me. Iíll make sure she takes it."
"Sheís gonna need more help than that. Look, we tried to find Dr. Carruthers. Sheís really good with rape victims, but sheís off-duty and we canít reach her. Iíve not been able to do a thorough exam. I understand how sheís feeling - oh hell, no I donít, I canít imagine what sheís going through, but Iíve seen it too often. Her physical injuries are only the beginning. Sheís refusing to deal with this and thatís dangerous. Here." He took a card from his lab coat pocket. "This is the rape crisis hotline. Itís anonymous and they do a good job. They have victims talk to each other. Are you her . . . ?" He let his voice trail off.
"Okay. Look, we did the preliminary blood work, but sheís got to come back in six months for an AIDS follow up."
Mulder closed his eyes and leaned back against the wall.
"Yeah. Look, I donít think thatís going to be necessary."
"Well, since you have the rapist, maybe you can . . . " Mulder jerked away from the hand heíd placed on his arm. "Are you going to be okay?"
"Yeah, yeah Iím fine. Donít worry about me, sheís the one."
"Thatís not true, but sheís getting dressed now. Give her some space tonight, but sheís got to talk about this. Itíll fester."
Mulder nodded and turned as the door opened and Scully entered the hall.
"Iím okay, Mulder. I want to go back to the apartment."
"Sure." The doctor shook hands with him; slipping him the pill she had refused and reminded him to be in touch if he needed him.
Twice on the way to the car his hand automatically rose to touch the small of her back, but she shied away both times. "Let me take you home, Scully."
"No. I need to talk to Skinner."
"Thatís not going to happen, not tonight."
"I donít care. I donít . . . I canít go home."
"Scully, please tell me what I can do to help you."
"You are helping, Mulder. Just do as I ask, please."
Defeated he headed the car back to Skinnerís apartment. He fed her the pill in the guise of telling her it would help her sleep and realized how out of it she was when she took it without checking.
The next morning Scully was still asleep when he heard Skinner stir. He headed into the bedroom to find Skinner sitting on the side of his bed, head in his hands.
Skinner leapt to his feet, then had to grasp the bed to keep from falling.
"What the hell are you doing here? What happened?"
"What do you remember?"
"Nothing. I donít even remember coming home last night. Whatís wrong with my nose?
"I broke it last night." He stated it flatly, no emotion.
"You what!" His eyes narrowed.
"When I pulled you off Agent Scully as you were raping her."
"What did you say?" He almost spit out the words.
"You donít remember raping me?" Neither man had heard her enter the room.
Skinner said nothing, staring at first one than the other of them. He took in her appearance, the bruises on her face and neck, and then the bleakness of Mulderís expression.
"Tell me what happened." He tried to remain standing, but failed and sank into the chair beside his bed.
"You had Angie call me, right at 5 oíclock and tell me you wanted to see me, alone, right away. When I arrived she was already gone. I went in your office and you met me at the door. You closed it behind me, then you backhanded me across the face. I went down and you were on top of me. When I tried to scream you tore my sleeve off and gagged me with it. Then you hauled me to the couch and . and . . "
Skinner had his face in his hands, shaking his head. Mulder had to look away; he hadnít heard any of this either. Heíd always respected this man. Maybe, on occasion, his trust had flagged but he knew him now, knew what heíd done for Scully, for him. How could he reconcile that with what heíd witnessed?
"I arrived too late. I pulled you off of her and . . . "
"Why am I here?"
"Why am I not in jail?"
"The police werenít called." Scully had no emotion in her voice.
"Why the hell not? Iím guilty of the worst crime I can imagine. You should have shot me, Agent Mulder."
"The thought did cross my mind, sir."
Skinner winced at the Ďsirí. "Call them now."
"No, sir. The police will not be called. There will be no record of this ever happening. What do you remember?" Scully was all business.
He couldnít face her. "None of that. I donít even remember asking for Agent Scully to come to my office. I was in a meeting; weíre still trying to reorganize after the Blevinís disaster. One of his men, Tucker, stayed behind to speak with me. Thatís the last thing . . . " His voice trailed off and he finally met Mulderís eyes.
"Punishment? For stepping out of line with Cancerman?" Mulder ventured.
"It means theyíre not all gone." Skinner sounded defeated.
"What are you talking about?" Scullyís eyes went from one to the other of the men in front of her.
"Itís not important. No one is responsible for my actions but me."
"What did you have to do with Cancerman?" She insisted.
Skinner remained silent, looking at the floor. She turned to Mulder.
"He made a deal, we were trying to find a cure for . . . "
"Agent Mulder!" Without thinking Mulder snapped to attention. Damn those ex-marines. Heíd never even been in the military.
"You did that? For me? Why wasnít I told?"
"Itís history, Agent Scully. And has nothing to do with the present situation."
"It may have everything to do with it. If Tucker drugged you, you werenít responsible. It would explain the rapid pulse, and I saw your eyes were dilated when you . . . when you struck me."
Skinner closed his eyes in pain. He shook himself and stood. "Agent Scully, there is no excuse, none whatsoever, for what I did to you. Weíre wasting time trying to find one. Iíll turn myself in, but I need to make a phone call."
"You canít turn yourself in. I will not come forward and I will not press charges. I want this behind us and forgotten. I know what happened and I need to move forward."
"Scully, can you do that?" She pulled away from the compassion in Mulderís voice.
"I have to. Can you take me home now?"
"Yeah, sure. Are you going to be all right, Sir?
He winced at that again. What else could Mulder call him? Walter wouldnít be any more appropriate. "Iíll be fine. Please look after Agent Scully."
"Iíll call you later, Sir."
"That wonít be necessary. Iím not the one that needs or deserves compassion." He and Mulder locked eyes and Mulder nodded. Skinner watched the two of them walk out of his bedroom. Mulder looked more damaged that she did. Heíd ruined all three of their lives, he could only hope it wasnít irreparable for the two of them.
*****Best Friends 1 - part 2
Links to other sites on the Web
Best Friends I - Part 2
Disclaimer Ė Mulder, Scully, the Lone Gunman and Skinner all belong to Chris,
10-13 and Fox Ė Bless them for it!!
No infringement intended.
Authorís note: No itís not finished, stuff like this take awhile.