Broken Lives - part 3 (R)
It took her only a second to realize where she was when she woke. Somehow she had turned in her sleep. Her cheek was pressed against his chest. His leg was hiked up and resting comfortably atop her hip.
She must have made a move of some kind alerting him that she was awake, because he moved slightly away from her. Not enough, there wasnít enough room in this bed for him to move that far away. How big were his hands anyway? Dana!
She screwed up her courage and forced herself to look up at him. He was staring at her with something like awe on his face. It caused her to relax against him. "Youíre still here." He whispered.
"I said I would be Mulder." He nodded slightly as though still afraid. She pulled his face down and kissed his forehead. "I always will be." She felt him twitch against her thigh and froze, then looked at him. He had that goofy grin on his face as he shrugged.
"I suppose you want to get up."
"I should." She decided against direct comment. "Arenít you hungry?"
That brought a smile to his face. "I am. For the first time since I can remember, I am hungry."
"Good, because Iíve got to fatten you up." She rose from the bed then. She stopped when he took her hand. She looked down at him and smiled then, one of the happiest smiles he remembered seeing on her face. He squeezed her hand lightly and let her go.
The guys were in the kitchen and looked up from their plates when she entered. Frohike started to rise. "No, stay there. Iím going to make him some breakfast. I think his appetite is coming back."
"Ow, donít kick!" Frohikeís grin turned into a grimace and he rubbed his ankle. Scully wisely turned away and fixed a light breakfast for Mulder.
The guys helped him get ready for his day and Scully stuck her head in the door. "Iím going to run to the grocery. Anybody need anything?"
"One of us could go for you." Byers spoke up.
"No, thereís some special stuff I want to get."
"Damn, and she cooks too." Mulder threw Frohike a murderous look and he snickered as he left the room. Scully shook her head, gave Mulder a peck on the cheek and left.
When she returned all three of the guys met her at the car and each took a bag of groceries, not allowing her to carry anything inside. "You know youíre spoiling me."
"Enjoy it. Oh, just so you know. Mulder sat up some in the chair while you were gone."
"Heís not strong enough for that."
"Heís motivated Dana. Why donít you go check on him; weíll put this stuff away."
She opened the door to his bedroom and stopped dead still. The hospital bed was gone, and his fatherís queen size bed back in place. The blush that took over her face headed down her chest.
"I wanted you to be comfortable." When she still didnít speak, didnít seem capable of speech, he continued, "I know, Scully, I know it was presumptuous of me . . . "
"Are you planning for me to sleep in here again tonight?" She finally found her voice.
He nodded slowly, "And every night, for the rest of our lives." Her eyes widened and he felt fear clutch at his heart again. "Scu . . . Scully?"
She swallowed trying to find her voice. "Mulder, youíre moving a little fast here. Youíre still overwrought."
"Iím not! Scully, I lived with your death, your death at my hands. I donít want to waste any more time. Weíve already wasted years. Iíve been too selfish to admit what you mean to me, what you are to me. Scully please." His voice was shaking on that last word and she was beside him again.
"Mulder, I . . . last night you said you werenít going to take advantage of me. Well, Iím not going to take advantage of you now."
"Itís not Ė "
"Mulder, weíve been together for years. Now suddenly, because of this trauma, you want to live with me? Thatís Ė "
"No Scully, not just live with you. Marry you."
"Mulder?" She jumped violently at the sound of a new voice followed by the tap on his door. Mulder had no reaction to it at all. The door opened and Skinner poked his head in, then entered, followed by the guys.
After a long moment Mulder turned and acknowledged his boss. "They told me you were dead too."
"I know. Byers brought me up to speed. I wish we had found you earlier, before Ė "
"We? You were looking for him?" Scully was staring open-mouthed at their boss.
"Yeah Scully." Langly spoke, "he contacted us less than an hour after you showed up. Heís been part of the search all along."
"Why didnít you tell me?"
Skinner chuckled at that, "What better cover could I have? You were barely civil to me around the office. That gave me a lot of freedom of movement. Iíve never trusted Broadbent, after the Blevins debacle Iíve kept an eye on him. He went to Europe the day the memo about your Ďleaveí arrived. I was able to track his movements for awhile, suddenly three days ago they spring you and he vanishes from the face of the earth. Coincidence? Oh, Mulder, " Skinner reached into his coat pocket, "we have a composite of the man who was in charge of your "treatment". He and several nurses have vanished as well. Iíd like for you to look at the drawing, be sure itís accurate. You okay with that?"
Mulder nodded and reached for the paper. Skinner handed it to him. Mulder unfolded the drawing and took a long look. His face paled and he closed his eyes, the paper wrinkling in his fist.
"Mulder!" Scully moved toward him.
"His lips arenít this full and thereís a small scar in his left eyebrow Ė no hair grows there."
"You okay Mulder?" Skinner took the paper from him.
"Heís the guy who told me you were dead Ė he brought the evidence. I believed him." Mulder kept his eyes closed.
Skinner looked at the men behind him, "Look, maybe you ought to rest for a little while. I can Ė "
"Could I speak to you, sir? Alone?"
Now Skinner glanced at Scully and quickly away. "Of course."
"Mulder, please." She reached out for him, but he didnít see.
"Agent Scully, just for a few minutes." It wasnít a command, the tone was too compassionate, but it was an order nevertheless. She turned away without another word and left the room. The three men followed her after exchanging worried glances. These two had been in such high spirits this morning. What was going on?
Mulder waited for the door to close. "Sir, while I was . . . gone, did Agent Scully have another partner?"
The question surprised Skinner, but it was obvious this man was disturbed about something. "No Mulder. She wouldnít even entertain the notion. In fact that made our Ďestrangementí even more believable. No, she didnít even go out in the field but a couple of times. She handled mostly consulting work, autopsies. She stayed in DC and spent all of the time she could searching for you. It wasnít easy, you werenít officially missing." He watched the effect these words had on the man. "Whatís wrong Mulder? You donít doubt her commitment to finding you?"
That was all he was going to say? "Listen, Iím in no hurry to return to DC tonight. I think Iíll hang around for awhile, so if you need to talk, about anything, let me know."
Mulder nodded but didnít look at the man. After a moment Skinner turned and let himself out of the door. "Scully, what happened? Byers called to tell me he was doing very well."
"I . . . I upset him. Would you stay for dinner?"
Skinner blinked at the blatant change of subject, but nodded, "Iíd love to."
Dinner was delicious, if a little strained. They all ended up eating in Mulderís room on trays and if Mulder ate a little less than anyone else, it was only due to lack of practice. Skinner left reluctantly, promising to stay in discreet touch and to let them know what he found out.
Mulder was obviously tired and whatever was wrong between the two of them needed to be worked out by them. Langly helped Mulder get ready for bed, then all three of the men excused themselves and left, ostensibly to see a movie. Scully didn't believe them, but she didnít care either.
She got ready for bed herself and tapped on his door, letting herself in. He looked over at her but didnít speak. She hesitated just inside the door. "Do you need anything?"
"No. Goodnight." He turned away.
"Mulder, I thought . . . I was going to sleep in here."
He took a deep breath and turned back, "I donít need your pity Scully."
"Itís not pity, Mulder."
"Then what? Why would you want to sleep in here?"
"I . . ." she blinked back the tears forming in her eyes. "I want to sleep in your arms."
"You want to sleep in my arms, but not to marry me."
"Thatís not what I said!" Now a tear did escape.
"Itís what I heard."
"I said I didnít want to take advantage of you. You donít have to marry me out of guilt."
"Guilt! You think I want to marry you out of relief that I didnít murder you? Damn it Scully! Thatís not Ė I lay there, in that bed, not able to think of anything else but what I had done to you, for weeks! Youíre all I thought about Ė all the missed opportunities, the wasted time. I relived every minute I spent with you Ė my damn memory never stopped unless they put me to sleep. I thought about every missed chance to be with you. To tell you how I felt Ė how I feel. What little sanity I had was used up with the only thing I had left Ė memories of you. I begged God to let me be with you again." Her eyes widened at that and she wiped the tears that continued to escape down her cheeks. "Yes, I begged him. I know I donít have the relationship to expect an answer, but they wouldnít let me commit suicide."
"Thank God they didnít."
"All I wanted was to go back and undo the wasted time. I guess I didnít take your feelings into account in the equation."
"Yes, the fact that the feelings were only on my side."
"Thatís not true." Her voice shook but she continued, "You know I . . . I care about you."
"You care about me? You want to be Ďfriendsí?" He shook his head.
"Donít do this to me! Donít make me admit how I feel! Stop it!" She was crying freely now.
"Donít make you . . . what would be so horrible about admitting Ė"
"Because it would ruin everything!" She was yelling now.
"Ruin? What are you talking about?" He was staring at her now.
"I canít love you!" She seemed to realize she was losing control and took a shuddering breath. "I canít."
"Because of who I am? What I do?"
"No. Because of me."
"Scully? What are you talking about?"
She sank down to sit on the bed beside him. She hadnít even noticed sheíd moved this close to the bed. "Iíll ruin it. I canít maintain relationships. I never have, I Ė"
"Canít maintain Ė Scully, weíve been together for years."
"But not as . . . "
"As lovers? Havenít we been? Okay, not physically, but can you say we donít love each other?"
"No." He barely heard her.
"What did you do while I was gone?"
"I looked for you." This sentence was just as low and he moved closer to her.
"Because I love you." This was barely even a whisper.
"Why does that scare you so much?" He wanted to draw her into his arms, but held back, only allowing himself to caress her arm.
"I donít want to lose myself in you. You care so passionately about people, I donít know if I can do that."
"Youíre the only person Ė "
"No Mulder. It was your passion that brought you to the X-Files, to search for your sister for 25 years. I was only assigned. Itís your passion thatís kept us both going all of these years.
"You are whatís kept me going Scully. With you I can do anything. When they told me you were gone, I gave up. When they told me I had done it, I broke in two."
"Oh Mulder." Now she held him in her arms, somehow sheíd gotten into the bed and was pressed against him.
"How many times do I have to tell you before you believe me? Youíre the reason I wake up every morning. Without you there was no reason Ė no reason for anything."
She pulled back and looked at him, hearing the truth in his voice. He really meant this, he loved her.
He watched her eyes for a moment, then brushed a late tear away. "I didnít mean to rush you Scully. Think about it, think about being with me. Iíll give you some time. Iím not exactly in the best condition to take on a bride in as good a shape as youíre in right now anyway." He loved watching the blush move down her body, "But I will be." He sighed. "Iíll fight you on this Scully, Iíll fight to win you and I refuse to lose this one."
She gave a hiccuping sigh and relaxed against him. Heíd already won. She might have to make him see reason Ė they couldnít be partners anymore, but that hadnít stopped them any other time it had been tried. Lying here against him, she felt whole for the first time since she could remember.