"Damn it, Mulder. Donít you ever do that on an investigation again!"
"What did I do?" They were finally back at the hotel, and she was giving him the hell sheíd been simmering with all day.
"I am not an invalid or some fragile flower. I am a full partner and I expect you to treat me as such." Her eyes were snapping.
He was reviewing the day. What had he done? She saw the confusion in his eyes.
"You donít even see it, do you? You donít see how you treat me. I can handle this investigation. Yes, the killer did rape these women before he murdered them, but Iíve handled those kinds of cases before. Iím not going to fall apart. Can you say the same?"
"Scully, I. . . "
"You always do this. Canít you treat me like. . . "
"Hold it! I treat you just like I always have. I invade your space," he loomed over her, "and I touch you and. . . "
"How long has it been since youíve thrown an innuendo my way, or left one of your videos in the VCR at work?"
"Well. . . well, I. . . "
"Youíre not treating me the same. Yes, you stand close and you hold my arm, but you think about it. You donít ever just do it."
He stared at her, at a loss. Did he really act that way? Yes. He did think about how he approached her, but. . . damn, could she be right?
"Dana, whatís wrong?"
"Iím sick of this, Patsy. I want things back to normal. To not need to have to come to you for answers."
"You already have answers on your own, Dana. But I am here, so why donít you talk to me?"
"Oh, I shouldnít complain. Mulder has been so supportive, I could never have gotten through this without him."
"Whatís he doing?"
"Nothing?" Patsy leaned back to listen.
"Maybe thatís the problem." Scully was focused on the far wall.
"He. . . he just treats me like a china doll. This last investigation involved rape victims. Iím not going to tell you it wasnít hard, but I handled it. Mulder didnít. He went into full protect mode and I think the meter maid had more input into the case than I did. And he didnít even realize it!
"Iím more than competent, Patsy. Iím good, and he. . . "
"Whatís this really about, Dana?"
"I told you. . . "
"No, you didnít. This isnít about the case. Itís how Fox treats you. You sound very frustrated. Dana, are you horny?"
"What?" Scully stared at her dumbfounded.
"Itís a legitimate question, Dana. Youíre a grown woman, a sexual creature. You enjoyed sex prior to your rape, didn't you?"
"Yes, very much, but Patsy, I. . . "
"Could Foxís overprotectiveness mean that heís also keeping his distance?"
"Mulder and I were not lovers. Weíve never. . . "
"Right, so you both keep telling me, although no one has been able to tell me why. It obviously hasnít kept you from falling in love with him."
"I beg your pardon?" Scully managed to get out, though her voice wasnít quite as steady as she would have liked.
"Was that suppose to be a secret?"
"Patsy!" She was so far off base, love Mulder? No, surely after all these years those fantasies were well laid to rest. Well, most of the time.
"Is the fact that heís in love with you also a secret?"
Scully just stared at her, unable to think of an appropriate comment. They looked at each other until Patsy began to chuckle.
"If you could see your face, Dana. Itís okay. Youíre beginning to be curious about your sexuality, how is it going to be, can you enjoy sex with a man again? The answer is yes, Dana. With the right man Ė one thatís understanding and patient. Someone you trust."
Scully blushed at that. Patsyís eyebrows rose, her eyes laughing.
"Hit a nerve, did I?"
"I. . . thatís absurd. . . I mean. . . " She fell silent, watching Patsy smile gently at her.
"I think Fox would be very gentle and. . . "
"Patsy, itís out of the question. He doesnít feel that way about me, youíre wrong there. Iíve replaced his sister in his mind. And he would never approach me. . . "
"Now there you may be right. Not about how he feels, but the fact that he would be unable to approach you. What about you approaching him?"
"Oh Patsy, no. No, I couldnít." She couldnít, so why was the idea so sharply imprinted on her mind after only a few seconds thought?
"Fox, itís been a while. Things going okay?" Ben smiled and leaned back to enjoy the phone call. He liked this man.
"Well, I thought so. But I think, maybe I need to talk to you. We were out of town on Tuesday."
"Iíve got some time now, if you can talk."
"Yeah, now would be fine. I canít seem to get this right." He sounded really confused, and maybe a little lost.
"She says Iím not treating her the same."
"In what way?"
"Overprotective, stuff like that."
"I didnít think so, but. . . "
"Fox, you could be right. Her perceptions could have changed due to the rape."
Mulder didnít respond.
"You know, Fox, I could actually hear that wince when I said the word rape. It did happen. She was raped. I thought you were able to hear the word by now."
"I thought I could too."
There was another pause and finally Ben chose another track. "Has she started dating yet?"
"Dating? Well, I mean, our jobs and all. . . " Scully didnít date, at least not that he was aware of, not since Ed. Heíd thought that was a good thing until this minute.
"So sheís not seeing anyone. That could be part of the problem."
"Well, sheís never dated that much. Our careers are very important to us, and very time consuming."
"You keep saying Ďourí, Ďusí. Whenís the last time you went on a date?"
The silence was his answer.
"Fox, let me see if Iíve got this straight Ė you donít date each other, you donít date other people, you travel together, you work together almost all the time in situations where you could be called upon to save each otherís live at any moment. Fox, Iím tempted to charge you office rates for this call."
"Whatíre you thinking, Fox?"
"About all the money wasted on my education."
"Oh yeah. Iíve been there." Ben was smiling to himself, this guy wasnít dumb. Mulder just had no self-confidence in this area. Youíd think a guy that looked like him would have a string of belts full of notches. But Mulder didnít seem to have a clue about the opposite sex when it came to just plain old dating and having fun.
"So I should give her some space."
"I didnít say that. Listen, do you have a close enough relationship so that you could help her out?"
"Help her how?" He actually sounded a little scared.
"Hey, Iím not suggesting you have sex with her, but since you seem to be her entire social life, maybe you could make some of your time together more social. Then, when she does meet someone, it wonít feel so strange to her."
"You mean, help her get ready to date again?"
"Sure. Youíre her best friend, and I know youíd do anything for her." Maybe even face your own demons and realize how you really feel about her.
"You donít seem to want more, Fox." Yes, he was pushing, but this guy obviously needed the help.
"Its not. . . I donít think she wants more."
After a pause Ben said, "Donít you think thatís something you should find out?"
"No. I mean, thatís not how things are between us."
"And youíre satisfied with that?"
"No! Damn it. Iíve missed my chance, maybe before this happened I couldíve changed our relationship. Now. . . "
"Do you think, Fox, at her age, Danaís going to be willing to give up sex for the rest of her life?"
There was another long pause.
"I, uh, I guess I need to do some thinking."
"Maybe you do. You can call me any time, Fox." Yes! Think hard about this Mulder, because you need her every bit as much as she needs you, Ben thought.
"Thanks, Iíll do that."
She was startled that he would just show up at her apartment without calling. He didn't do that anymore. Not since. . .
"Mulder, is anything wrong?"
"What? Are you sick?"
"Not yet." Her eyebrow rose, but she said nothing. "Iíve taken some dubious advice from a psychologist."
She smiled then, "Taking on a new career, Mulder?"
"Yeah. Only one client though. I need to see how badly I screw him up before I start ruining other peopleís lives."
"Whatís your clientís problem and what was the dubious advice you gave him?" She could play along. He obviously needed to talk.
"The advice was to show up here, the problem is that he doesnít know how to treat his best friend anymore."
"You see, when heís with her off-duty, his social skills revert to about the age of 12."
"You think I have cooties?" She asked dryly, pulling the conversation personal.
"Okay, 14, Iím curious and willing, but I canít figure out where my hands go."
Her blush and light laughter encouraged him.
"Scully, youíre the most important person in my life. I depend on you for. . . "
"A healthy diet?" She offered as he hesitated.
"I was thinking more in terms of my sanity." She had no comeback for that. "I know our relationship hasnít been. . . isnít . . . shit. Maybe 12 was closer. Look, I want you to be whole again and if I can help you get ready to see someone else, Iím willing to. . . "
"Someone else? Is that what you want?" Where had that idea come from? Did he think she was interested in some stranger?
"No! I mean. . . but you, youíre young, you need to find someone. . . "
"Someone else?" She asked again.
There was a long silence, while he tried to process her question.
"Do you want someone else, Scully?"
"No." His eyes widened, that was all she was going to say? He reached out slowly and took her hand. She led him to the couch and they sat. Neither seemed to be able to come up with something to say, so of course they started together.
"Scully. . . "
"Mulder. . . "
And both fell silent again.
"Mulder, you donít have to do this. I know you care about me, just not this way and you. . . "
"Not what way?"
"As a woman, Mulder. I know Iím not your type. But it means so much to me that you. . . "
"My type? Scully, you are exactly my type. You are everything Iíve ever wanted in a woman. I know Iím no prize, weird old ĎSpookyí Mulder, but I would never push you. When youíre ready and comfortable maybe youíll find a really great guy. . . " Where had those words come from? He was here to help her. Now she was going to think. . . he should not have come.
"Shut up, Mulder." She put her hands on his face and carefully and lightly kissed his lips.
Her admonition to not speak was totally unnecessary. His mind was unable to wrap itself around the concept of verbalization.
"Mulder, I trust you completely."
His eyes locked on hers. Several yearsí worth of communication was processed through the look they shared. She brought his hand up to her FBI-sweatshirt covered breast.
He swallowed, trying to find his voice. "Dr. Scully, I believe some of your undergarments are missing."
"Mulder." She hadnít realized how nervous this would make her. "Iím sorry, I donít know if I can do this."
"Scully, itís taken me five years to get up the nerve to get to first base, thereís no hurry." He smiled down at her.
She took a deep breath and managed to smile back.
"Here letís try this." He settled back on the couch, putting her in the V of his legs, her back to his chest. He slowly began massaging her arms and shoulders until she began to relax.
He smiled and took a deep breath of her hair. Heíd wanted to do that for years. Heíd often sneaked little sniffs, but had never had this opportunity before.
He felt her tense again in his arms and realized his arousal was no longer secret. "Ignore him, Scully, I canít take him anywhere."
"Because of me?"
"Are you going to tell me youíve never noticed?" He continued to massage her arms and then down to her hands.
"I never thought it was because of me."
"Low self-esteem, Agent Scully? Youíve been wreaking havoc with my hormones for five years." He nuzzled her ear.
"Mulder. . . "
"Maybe I should go now. Give you some time."
"Donít leave." Please donít let him leave now, she prayed. She couldnít process what had just happened and if he left sheíd have to.
"The last thing I want to do is push you."
"I know that, and you are helping. We could watch a movie." Ah, sheíd hit on a compromise. Please stay, oh please stay.
"You donít have to talk me into it Scully. I want to stay, if youíre okay with it."
She handed him the remote and nestled back into his chest. He wrapped his arms around her just below her breasts. Shortly he realized from her even breathing that she had fallen asleep against his chest. He didnít know if that was the kind of progress she was hoping for, but he felt good about it.
He was a little surprised at the amount of trust she had displayed. She was sitting where she couldnít see him, pressed up against his erection with his arms effectively pinning her to him and she was still comfortable enough to fall asleep. Of course he had to wonder, how non-threatening was he as a male? No this was a good thing. Youíre over analyzing Mulder. Shut up.
It was probably time for him to leave; having her draped across his body was only aggravating his situation, which could no longer be classified as a little problem on anyoneís scale.
He shifted so that he could rise from the couch, and carry her into her room. "Um, donít. . . " She murmured, not waking.
"Youíll be more comfortable in bed, Scully. Just sleep. Iím right here." He managed to get up and lifted her easily into his arms. No way he would be able to make it home in this condition. Heíd get her settled and handle things himself in her bathroom. Good idea, then he could feel guilty for the ride home. At least that would be familiar.
Her shoes were already off, and there was no way he was going to undress her, so he laid her gently on the bed and pulled the afghan over her. "Muld. . . "
"Iíll be right back." He kissed her cheek and began easing out of the room.
Taking care of his own problem didnít take long and being in her bathroom with her scent surrounding him didnít hurt any. At least she didnít wake up and catch him.
As he was headed toward the front door, her phone began to ring. He snatched the phone up before it finished the first ring, to let her sleep. "Hello."
"Agent Mulder? Is that you?"
"Yes, who is this?"
"Holly, from the office. Iíve been trying to find you."
"Is something wrong?" Why would Holly be calling here?
"Oh yes! Assistant Director Skinner, heís been taken to the hospital. They think he had a heart attack."
Mulder immediately visualized his boss. He hadnít looked good in weeks. He was holding everything inside. Raping Scully had done him as much damage as it had Scully, even if he didnít remember doing it. He wasnít an old man by any means, but that kind of stress could kill anyone.
"Agent Mulder? Are you there?"
"Sorry, Holly. I was thinking. Where is he?"
"Bethesda. Are you going over?"
"Yeah, Iíll head over there now."
"Will you, will you call me and. . . and let me know how he is?"
"Sure, Holly. Donít worry, Skinnerís strong. Iíll be in touch." He lay the phone down, not sure which direction he wanted his mind to wander.
"Come on, Mulder. We better go."
"Scully? I didnít hear you. Why donít you stay here? I can call you."
"No. Come on." She was slipping on her shoes.
Not a good idea, like he had a chance in hell of talking her out of it. She was very quiet all the way to hospital, withdrawn from him. When they finally arrived he tried once again to get her to let him go in alone.
"No, Mulder. And donít go into super-protect mode. Weíll only fight about it. I donít want to fight with you, especially tonight."
He nodded and took her arm. They were directed to the ICU and found his doctor there.
"Director Skinner is resting now. It was a very mild heart attack. He was lucky to get such a clear warning signal without any damage to the actual heart tissue. Weíll keep him here a couple of days, but I donít foresee any problems. He doesnít have obstructions and doesnít need bypass surgery. Weíll check his diet and exercise program, but maybe this will be all he needs to change whatever bad habits heís picked up."
Scully made surprisingly few comments in regards to Skinnersí care or health, Mulder noted.
"May we see him?" Scully finally asked. Mulder turned to her, but made no comment.
"Just for a couple of minutes. It never hurts to see a friendly face." The doctor led them down the corridor to the cubicle that held Skinner. "Iíll check back in ten minutes."
Scully moved closest to the bed and took Skinnerís hand in her own. Mulder felt a momentís desire to pull her away, but he pushed it down. Skinner wouldnít hurt her, not when he was Skinner.
The man in the bed opened his eyes and spotted Scully, he actually started to smile before memory grabbed him and his eyes widened. He tried to pull his hand away.
"No Walter. We wanted to make sure you were okay. Just relax. I donít think thereís any doubt in any of our minds that this was stress induced. I came here to tell you once and for all, you have to put this behind you. I know you havenít sought counseling like Mulder and I did, and I understand that, but you have to know a few things." She kept a firm grip on his hand.
"Walter, its not your face I see when I remember what happened that night. I donít think of this as something that happened between the two of us. The face that haunts me is Cancermanís, never you. I know heís dead, but I hold him responsible for that night.
"You keep thinking you have control over yourself. That makes you as naive as I was. You need to know some things that donít appear in the reports that Mulder and I submitted about my abduction."
Mulder tried to catch her eye. What was she doing? A thousand thoughts ran through his mind, but none that gave him a clue on how to act.
"These people that have taken so much of our lives, have taken our bodies as well. When I was abducted Walter, they harvested my ova. I can never have children because of what they took from me." The words were stated quietly, without emotion.
Skinnerís eyes widened, this most definitely was not in any report he had read.
"That was horrible, but then they decided to use my eggs. I had a daughter, Emily. I knew nothing about her, not even her existence. Without the gory details, I found her. She died soon afterward. Mulder and I couldnít save her. I have some really bad days now because of all that, but the worst thing, the thing that torments me is, I may have dozens of children Iíll never know about, never be able to find. I have no more control over it than you did that night. They took our control."
Skinner was silent; finally he turned to look at Mulder. Mulderís eyes were suspiciously wet, but he managed to nod in response to Skinnerís silent question.
"Scully, Dana. . . I. . . "
"I cannot take the blame for what they did to me, and I refuse to let you take the blame for what they did to you. You and I are control freaks; this is the best way to get to us. You have to let it go. If you donít the stress will kill you, and I am not willing to lose anyone else to them. I wonít."
Ex-marines donít cry; neither do assistant directors of the FBI. He hadnít cried when he was shot, and he hadnít cried when he learned what he had done to Scully. But it seemed that that was exactly what he was going to do now.
She leaned over and wiped the tears from his cheeks, and then kissed his forehead. His hands came up tentatively to touch her shoulders and she put her arms around him. Thatís when the dam burst and he began weeping in her arms. Mulder had to look away for a second. He needed to superimpose this image over the last one where he had seen her in Skinnerís arms. Mulder felt rather than heard Dr. Reed behind him.
"They need just a few more minutes." His voice was gruff, but he managed to get the words out.
"This is probably doing him more good than any medication we can prescribe." Dr. Reed whispered to him. Mulder could only nod.
When Skinner was composed, Scully sat back and took his hand again. "Are you going to be okay?"
He nodded. "Thanks to you." He whispered.
"Then thereís someone else that wants to come see you."
He looked puzzled. Mulder looked at her incredulously, Scully, matchmaking?
"Holly is very concerned about you. Sheís the one that tracked down Mulder and I. Would you mind if she came by?"
"Holly? With the size seven shoe? That Holly?"
Scully smiled, "Yes, that Holly."
"Why would she. . . ?"
"Why wouldnít she? Youíre a very attractive man and she has had a type of contact with you that makes you remember her." That elicited a chuckle from him, then he became serious.
"Iím not sure that would be a good idea."
"Well, Sir, I think itís an excellent idea and I will be sending her over. Get used to the idea."
He looked like he was going to protest when Dr. Reed stepped forward. "I agree with Dr. Scully. A pretty face never hurts and I see nothing wrong with a size seven shoe. My wife wears them herself. Right now however, Iím throwing your company out. You need the rest. They can come back by tomorrow."
"Heís right, Walter. Weíll see you tomorrow. You have our number if you need us. Use it." Scully squeezed his hand once more and moved to Mulderís side.
Mulder placed his hand on Skinnerís leg. "Take care of yourself."
"Thank you, Mulder. For everything." Mulder nodded and placed his hand on Scullyís back to lead her out. Skinner noted that this was done with ease on both of their parts and took a breath of relief. Maybe he didnít really want to die after all.Best Friends 2 - part 2
Links to other sites on the Web
Best Friends II - 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.