Broken Lives (R)


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Broken Lives - Part 1

Her anger was growing the entire elevator ride. She could see people moving away from her; steam must be coming out of her ears. She exited on Skinnerís floor and moved into his office. Poor Angie flinched when she saw her expression. She really must look fierce.

"Is he in?" Angie nodded, resigned to the fact that she couldnít keep either of this pair out of his office, even if the President himself were in there.

"Director Skinner." He looked up and took in her demeanor.

"Agent Scully." He didnít rise; he had a pretty good idea why she was here.

"Did you get this memo?" She flung the paper down on his desk. He picked it up and scanned it.

"Yes, I did."

"Well?" She knew from his expression she was over the line, but she couldnít remember when sheíd been more rattled. This was insane and he was being so damn calm about it.

"You know as much about this matter as I do. My copy of the memo was hand delivered about five minutes ago."

"But he had to come through you!"

"Agent Mulder apparently chose to go over my head with this matter. That is his prerogative. Is there anything else?"

She was speechless for a moment. "Thatís it? Do you know where he is?"

"No. Now if youíll excuse me, I have work to do." Heíd never dismissed her quite so coldly before. Oh, that one time he was acting in front of Spender and crew, but this was for real. Sheíd obviously handled this badly but it just couldnít be true.

She took her copy of the memo back from his desk. "I apologize for bothering you with this." She sounded like a bitch, she knew it, but . . . argh!!!

She took the stairs back to their office to avoid seeing and being seen on the elevator. She might bite someone she was so pissed. She managed not to slam the door and seated herself carefully at his desk. Okay, there had to be some note to her; some sign that the information in this memo was true.

She booted up his computer and while she waited started going through the drawers of his desk. Nothing, not one damn thing! She scanned his email, even the trash. Finally she slammed the palm of her hand against the desk and rose. She snatched her jacket from the hanger and headed for her car.

She forced herself to calm down enough to drive, but still made it to his apartment in record time. She didnít bother with the niceties of knocking, letting herself in, hoping sheíd find him there.

The place was clean, neater than she ever remembered seeing it. If he were going out of town for an extended period, he would do this. His last fish had died last week, so there was no problem in that area.

Why in all hell had he not left her a note, something? Why hadnít he discussed this with her? This wasnít right, something was definitely not right. She approached his desk, the picture of he and Samantha as kids was gone. Well, that was something he would take with him if he were going away.

She opened the drawer; her picture was gone too. Mulder didnít know she was aware of the picture. She wasnít entirely sure why he had it. He never displayed it, but he had framed it. It was one of the shots Frohike had taken and was actually a pretty good picture. And now it was gone, like the one of Samantha. What did that mean?

Frohike! Surely he would have said something to the guys. Of course until today she would have put money on him telling her. She checked the closets quickly, well a couple of his suits were gone, some jeans and t-shirts. Not enough for a really lengthy stay, but . . . his shaving kit was gone. She slammed the bathroom drawer shut. What she wanted to do was scream, but it wouldnít help. Find the guys. That was the next step.

She pounded on their door, the cycle between fury and fear shortening with each turn. Right now she was furious again. "Hold on! Hold on!" Frohike got the door open.

"Have you see Mulder?" She stormed into the apartment. Byers and Langly joined them from the back of the apartment.

"Scully? Whatís wrong?" Byersí concern was obvious.

"Have you seen or heard from Mulder?"

"Not for a couple of days." He looked at the other two who agreed with him. "Has something happened?"

"Yes." She pulled the memo out of her pocket and handed it to him. He read it and handed it to Langly.

"Scully this makes no sense. You havenít talked to him?"

"I canít find him."

"Whoa Scully, this is not right." Langly shook his head. "Mulder taking an extended leave of absence? Never happen, especially without talking to you."

"Whoís Director Broadbent?" Frohike looked up at her.

She sighed, "Iíve never been introduced to him but Iíve seen him in the halls. Skinner and Kersh report to him."

"Have you talked to him?"

Scully looked at him startled. "Well, no."

"Maybe you should. If Mulder asked for this, maybe he dropped some hints, things that youíd pick up but no one else would."

Frohike was right. She wasnít thinking clearly, just reacting. She nodded at him. "Iíll be in touch."

"Weíll start a search in the meantime Scully. Donít worry, weíll find him, whether he wants us to or not."

She managed a small smile at that. Would he want her to? She was going to, regardless.

Once back at the office she headed for Director Broadbentís office Ė new territory for her. At the secretaryís desk she removed her ID and handed it to the woman. "May I speak with Director Broadbent for a moment?"

"Iím sorry, the director is out of the country for the next several weeks. I could make an appointment for when he returns."

"Out of the country? When did he leave?" Temper Dana, donít antagonize this woman.

"He left first thing this morning." No offer of further information. But the memo was dated today. Dana pulled the memo from her pocket, it was beginning to look quite crumpled and she attempted to straighten it out.

"I received this memorandum this morning. Did Director Broadbent not send it?"

The woman took the memo from Scullyís hand. "Oh yes, this was on my desk this morning. He must have typed it up himself after I left. He had signed it, so I had it delivered."

"Could he . . . are these his initials?"

"Yes, they are. He often does this Agent Scully. He puts his own memo in the computer, prints them out and leaves them for me to handle. Is there a problem?"

Scully managed to hang onto her composure. She wasnít sure exactly what she said, but no one had hauled her away so she must have handled it okay.

Now what?

*****

He woke slowly, he felt groggy, weak. This wasnít . . . this wasnít his apartment. This was a hospital. What the . . . ? The door opened and a nurse entered, she didnít even glance at him, looking instead at the monitors around him.

"Where am I?" At least thatís what he tried to say. It came out more as a croak.

The nurse whirled toward him startled, dropping her electronic pad and stylus. She stared at him for a second, then vaulted from the room. What the hell was going on? He tried to sit up but was too weak. He didnít remember being shot, hell, he didnít remember a case. Where was Scully? Had she been injured too? He tried again to rise and actually lifted his head at the thought that she needed him. He was struggling to maintain it when the door burst open.

"Oh god, you were right." The man, obviously a doctor, approached the bed. "Mr. Mulder, how do you feel?"

Mulder had collapsed back in the bed. "Where . . ." He had to rest again.

"What do you remember?"

He shook his head, "Whereís Scully?"

The doctor glanced away for an instant and back. Mulder saw the movement and fear caught and began growing in his body. He grabbed the doctorís wrist. "Tell me."

"Mr. Mulder Ė "

"Agent." He tried to tighten his grip.

"Agent Mulder, youíve been unconscious for quite some time. You need to give yourself Ė "

"How long?" The adrenaline was helping now. "Answer my damn questions!" That much speech took everything he had.

"I want you to calm down Agent Mulder. I canít talk to you if youíre going to get excited. Please."

Mulder had been watching him and missed the nurse coming up to him on the opposite side of the bed and injecting something into his IV. When he did notice he tried to jerk away, but it was too late. What? What was so bad that they had to sedate him? Where was Scully?

"Mr., excuse me, Agent Mulder, can you hear me?" He managed to nod, "Good. We want to run a few tests, but Iím going to tell you whatís going on. Youíre in the Brookhaven Long Term Care Facility outside of DC."

Long-term? He wanted to get angry, but the drugs were making that impossible.

"Youíve been in a catatonic state Mr. Mulder. Youíve had excellent care, massage, physical therapy." The manís eyes flittered away again, "But frankly we never expected you to wake up. Youíve caught us a little off-guard here. Weíre trying to locate your original records. In the meantime we want you to remain calm."

"How long?" It wasnít his first question, but maybe theyíd answer it now.

"Well, huh," he took a deep breath, "twelve years, Mr. Mulder."

Twelve . . . twelve years? Oh god, they were lying to him. They had to be lying to him. Where was Scully? Scully would tell him the truth. Where was she? He tried to stop them as the nurse injected even more drugs into his IV and he began slipping under again. Scully!

*****

He struggled to wake. Heíd had the most horrible dream and . . . oh god, it had been a dream, hadnít it? No. He was still here. He turned his head and the nurse sitting at his side rose. "Agent Mulder? Can you hear me?"

"Yes. I need to talk to . . . " His voice was certainly no stronger.

"Dr. Cassidy. Iíll page him now." She held a cup with a straw to his lips and he sipped gratefully. "Just relax, heíll be right here."

He didnít see or hear her do anything, but shortly the door opened and the doctor from before entered. "Agent Mulder, how are you feeling?"

"Whatís going on?"

"I understand. Iíve gone over your files and I hope I can answer your questions."

"Twelve years?" He heard the weakness in his voice and despised it, but there it was. If it were true he was . . . 51 years old? "Mirror?"

The doctor gave a slight grin and had the nurse roll the tray table over in front of him. She opened the well of the tray and after raising the bed slightly, slanted the mirror so that he could see.

He stared fascinated at this older man. His hair was closely shorn but still more salt than pepper. He had dark circles under his eyes and . . . and he looked old.

"His blood pressure is rising doctor." The nurse looked up from her instruments.

"Agent Mulder, I need you to try to stay calm. I know this is a lot to absorb. We need you to take it easy."

"AD Skinner Ė have you contacted him?"

"I tried. He retired two years ago and . . . and died of a blood condition shortly after that. Iím sorry."

Dead. Skinner was dead. "Scully?" He feared this answer. Twelve years Ė sheíd probably married, left the FBI and hadnít thought of him in a decade.

"Agent Mulder Ė "

"Why wonít you answer me about Scully?" He wanted to shout but it was more of a whisper.

"Agent Mulder, youíve been at this facility for two years. Prior to that you were in a psychiatric hospital in Maryland. Your Ė "

"Psychiatric?" So heíd finally gone around the bend for real. Too bad he hadnít had any money in the pool about when he would crack. He did hate that so many people had probably been delighted that their predictions had finally come true.

"According to what I read there was a shootout. You apparently shot . . . "

"Shot who?" And why was the hair standing up on his neck.

"It seems that you mistakenly shot Agent Scully."

Heíd known what the doctor was going to say. But knowing it didnít help. "Was she . . . was she badly hurt?" The fear of hearing this answer was sapping what little strength he did have.

The doctor was looking at the file now. "She was shot twice in the abdomen. She died two days later. Iím sorry . . . "

Mulder had switched off again. Gut shot? Heíd gut shot Scully, killed her? Why had he woken up? Twelve years wasnít enough. Why hadnít he died? Surely heíd tried; they had to have put him on suicide watch. Wasnít he smart enough to get around that? Heíd murdered Scully.

"Agent Mulder? Can you hear me? Agent! Open up that IV."

Oh he could hear him all right. The words wouldnít quit. ĎYou shot Agent Scully . . . died two days later . . . shot twice in the abdomen . . . died."

Heíd never told her how he felt about her. Heíd never confessed his feelings Ė even when it had been thrown in their faces time and again, heíd pushed it aside. The one time he had slipped sheíd dismissed it out of hand. Had he said anything while she lay dying? Dying from his gunshots?

No one would know. No one that would have heard was still around, even still alive. Mrs. Scully? Was she gone too? She wouldnít want to see him in any case. Heíd caused the death of both of her daughters. Heíd killed Scully. No wonder heíd been in a psychiatric hospital before coming here.

He felt rather than saw the medication being added to his IV and this time was grateful for the oblivion it brought. With a little luck it would be an overdose and heíd never wake again.

*****

"Scully, could you get over here?"

"Fro . . . yeah." She hung up quickly. Heíd never called her at work before. It had to be important. Word about Mulder? It had to be, she had to find him. She had to know he was okay. If he had left town on his own, to get away from things . . . from her, well if that was the reason she needed to know. She powered down her computer and headed for the guysí apartment.

Theyíd obviously been watching for her, Langly opened the door before she had a chance to knock. "Have you found him?"

Langly and Byers exchanged glances. They had watched this woman suffer; sheíd lost weight, refused assignments. She wasnít herself. They wanted to have found him for her sake as well as his. "Talk to me! Have you found Mulder?"

"Itís . . . itís possible. Frohike has gone to check. We knew youíd want to be here."

She nodded. By the time they heard Frohike at the door she felt like sheíd worn a rut in the carpet. She forced herself not to rush him or draw her gun. She was gripping the computer desk to hold herself in place.

Frohike glanced at his friends then back at her. "Where is he?" She knew her voice shook, but it didnít matter.

"Scully, itís not what we thought."

What did that mean? Had he really left on his own? Had he wanted to get away from . . . from her? Oh god, had he found someone he wanted to be with?

"Scully, heís in a . . . a facility." At her puzzled look, "a psychiatric hospital." Her eyes widened and Byers stepped closer to her. She took a steadying breath.

"Did you . . . did you see him?"

Frohike looked at Byers for a lead. "Uh no, Iíve got a buddy who recognized the picture we sent out."

"It might not Ė "

"He got his fingerprints to make sure. Itís Mulder. Heís . . heís non-responsive."

"Non-responsive?" Why couldnít she get her voice under control?

"Scully, heís catatonic, vegetative right now."

"We have to get him out of there. Something was done to him; he wasnít like that when I last saw him. He has to be drugged." Her mind was racing, trying to come up with ideas on how to handle this. What could have happened? And why didnít Skinner know? Had he been lying to her? No, not for this long. Surely she would have known.

"Not according to my friend. They donít have him on anything of consequence. Thereís been no medication to sedate him, just occasionally to let him sleep. Heís being evaluated for shock therapy."

"Shock? No! We have got to get him out of there. Please! Youíve got to help me. I have to get him out, I know I can help him."

Byers took her arm then, "Dana I donít think Ė " If she heard him use her first name, she didnít acknowledge it.

"If you canít help me Iíll find someone who can." She moved away from them, thinking, making lists. "My apartment might not be safe. Iíll have to take him somewhere weíre not known. Maybe his fatherís house on the Vineyard, no one uses it this time of year. Yes. Weíd have seclusion, I could bring him back gradually."

"Dana, you canít handle him alone." She paused then and looked at the trio. "He canít walk, he canít take himself to the bathroom, he canít do anything for himself. He needs twenty-four hour care. He might be better off where he is for now."

"No!" That wasnít an option. "This was done to him. We were together on the Friday night before he disappeared. I got the memo the next Monday morning. No. We have to get him out of there. Can your friend help us?"

The three exchanged glances again and Byers nodded. "We need to have a place ready. Do you really think the house on the Vineyard would work?"

"Iíll head up there and check it out when I leave here. Iíll be back tonight."í

"Weíll have a plan when you get back. What about keys?"

"I have them."

*****

She waited in the hearse, huddled in her lab coat and long brown wig. Byers didnít try for conversation; he could tell how nervous she was. When Langly and Frohike rolled the gurney with the sheet covered body toward them he could feel her tense even knowing he wasnít really dead.

Byers exited the hearse and opened the back doors for them. Scully slipped into the back without exiting. The less people seen the better. He was placed in the vehicle quickly and they were out of there. Scully pulled the sheet from his face and couldnít quite stifle the gasp of dismay. What had they done to him? It was like he had aged twenty years Ė dark circles under his sunken eyes, his hair was closely cut, but it looked white, not the beautiful dark brown she was used to.

"Mulder, can you hear me? Itís Scully, youíre safe now. Please open your eyes." There was no response and Langly had to look away from the anguish in her face.

She took a deep breath and centered herself. "Are you sure your friend wonít get into trouble?"

"Yeah. If heís questioned all he saw was two men from a funeral home pick the patient up. He didnít call and hadnít even been told the patient had died. We signed for the body and he helped load it on the gurney. Thatís all he knows. The funeral home forms we used were from Virginia, so theyíll be looking in the wrong direction if they search. Donít worry Dana, we were thorough."

She nodded; her eyes had never left his face. Her grip on his hand tightened though he did not respond.

It was a quiet trip north, the guys respecting her silence. She tried to keep her guilt at bay. She couldnít have prevented his kidnapping Ė thatís what she was calling it now Ė and she had begun her search immediately. But it had taken her weeks to find him. What had they done to him, to his mind, while they were apart?

*****

Broken Lives - Part 2

 

They settled him into the master bedroom for easiest access to the facilities. Scully had rented the hospital bed and equipment from several supply houses and under false names. She had the bedroom next to his. The guys were rotating in the third bedroom and the den. They insisted that one of them be with him during the night, freeing her to sleep and be with him during the day. She didnít argue, when sheíd actually seen his condition and realized how they had tried to protect her, she knew why they had insisted she couldnít care for him alone.

He hadnít responded to her at all on the trip up. She felt fear at what she had taken on for the first time. Relax Dana, you can handle this because you have to. Heíd do it for her and she did have help Ė she wasnít alone.

It was nearly morning already. Byers insisted that she rest while he sat with Mulder. The others agreed and since she saw the sense of it, finally agreed herself.

It was nearly noon when she woke. That surprised her, but knowing where he was, that he was with her again had given her the best sleep sheíd had since heíd disappeared. She wrapped her robe around her and hurried to his room.

Byers looked up and smiled at her. "Heís still asleep. Go take your shower. I think Langlyís in the kitchen fixing breakfast."

Scully caressed Mulderís face and nodded. She hurried to get ready for the day. She was pulling her hair into a ponytail as she entered the kitchen.

"Agent Scully, eggs?"

"That would be great." Frohike joined them shortly and they ate a quick breakfast before she relieved Byers.

He was still non-responsive to all external stimuli. She hung another bag of fluids. If he still couldnít be roused sheíd have to consider a feeding tube. At least he wasnít becoming dehydrated.

There had to be drugs in his system. Why else would he be unconscious for so long. According to their sources shock had not been administered so he shouldnít have suffered any damage from that.

She tried all day to get some reaction from him. She talked to him constantly, touching him, trying to get something. His blood pressure was pretty steady, his pulse rate rose slightly when she spoke, but he wouldnít open his eyes. Did he not want to see her? Where had that thought come from?

The guys tried to keep her spirits up, reminding her that it had only been a few hours. She even knew they were right, but it didnít help her guilt, which was growing steadily.

*****

It was almost as though he had decided to retreat from life. He didnít seem to want to wake up. Any drugs that had been administered would be out of his system by now. Not want to wake? What could have happened that would cause him to retreat from life like this? What had been done to him? Had he been . . . abused? Sheíd performed an examination, several in fact, but this hadnít occurred to her earlier.

If someone had done things to him that he didnít want to recover from, what could she do? Especially since she couldnít communicate with him.

Okay, she couldnít communicate verbally and holding his hand wasnít cutting it. Sheíd have to step up her attempts. She pulled the covers from his chest. He was wearing only the boxers; it was easier to care for him. Well, it made it easier for her now.

"Mulder, itís me. Scully." She wasnít going to just hold his hand now. She placed her hand on his chest Ė she was nervous about this. It wasnít something they had ever done, but she was going to bring him out of this. Her hand was caressing him now and if she wasnít mistaken his breathing was slightly more shallow. "Mulder, open your eyes, its me and I need you." Without thinking her lips had joined her fingers Ė sheíd probably deny this if he remembered it, but . . .

His pulse rate was rising, his blood pressure too, according to the monitors. "Mulder you can hear me, I know you can. Itís me, itís Scully. I need you to open your eyes. I have to know what they did to you."

Nothing. Why wasnít he . . . Damn it! "Mulder wake up! I need you!" She had him by the shoulders, shaking him.

"Scully! Scully, stop it!" Frohike had her arms now. "This wonít help. Come on, take a break." He looked down at Mulder once more. "Scully? Look!"

His eyes were open and locked on Scully. "Mulder, can you hear me?" This from Frohike. Scully was frozen in shock a couple of steps behind him.

She shook herself and moved closer to him. "Mulder, thank goodness." Her hand caressed his cheek. He didnít speak though his eyes hadnít left her. She saw tears form in his eyes. "Mulder?" He closed his eyes again, as though escaping. "Mulder?"

"Scully." Frohike took her arm. "Why donít you go splash some water on your face. Let me try to talk to him." She looked at him incredulously. He wanted her to leave? "I think it would be a good idea, just for a minute." She glanced over at Mulder once again. "Go on Dana." He gently turned her and led her to the door.

"Frohike . . . "

"Just give me a couple of minutes." She seemed to deflate in front of him. "Itís going to be okay." Once the door was shut he returned to Mulderís side. His eyes were still closed, but tears continued to slip down his face.

"Mulder? Mulder can you hear me?" He turned toward Frohikeís voice and opened his eyes. "Hi guy, good to have you back. Sheís been frantic with worry about you Dude."

"Are . . . are you dead too?"

That comment made Frohike stop for an instant. "Nobodyís dead Mulder."

"She is. I killed her."

"Who told you that Mulder? Where did you hear Scully was dead?" Mulder closed his eyes and turned away again. "Come on Mulder, talk to me."

"You know what happened. You know I shot her, murdered her, twelve years ago. They wonít let me die." Suddenly his hand shot out, "Help me Frohike. Help me die, please."

"Mulder, I donít know what . . . Why do you think you killed Scully?" Keep him talking, surely heíd come out of this nightmare. Heíd seen Scully, but he believed what he was saying. Twelve years? What the hell was going on?

"I saw the file, the articles. The doctor brought it all. Donít try to protect me Frohike, help me."

"You . . . you want me to help you kill yourself?" Mulder nodded, his eyes pleading. "You need to rest Mulder. Let me think about this."

"Frohike, please. Donít make me live."

"I . . . I gotta think about this Mulder. Just give me a few minutes." Frohike stepped back from the bed and Mulderís hand shot out again grabbing his arm. "Iíll just be a few minutes, I need a little time." He placed Mulderís hand back on the bed and patted it.

He shut the door behind him and found Scully waiting right outside. "Is he still awake?"

"Yeah, but heís been through something Scully. I donít understand it. Heís convinced youíre dead, that he murdered you . . . twelve years ago."

"What?" Frohike took her arm; she definitely looked like she needed to sit down. "No, I need to go to him, show him Iím not dead."

"Heís seen you Scully. He doesnít believe his eyes. Wherever heís been, they convinced him he murdered you. He said heíd seen the file and the articles."

"What file? Frohike, whatís going on?"

Byers was at the door then, "What is going on?" He brushed the hair out of his eyes, obviously still partly asleep.

"Mulderís awake, but thereís a problem." Frohike answered him. That woke him up the rest of the way.

"Awake? Is there, is there Ďdamageí?" He glanced over at Scully and quickly away.

"We donít know. He believes, heís been led to believe that he murdered Scully Ė twelve years ago." Byers sank into the chair closest to him. His mouth moved, but no sound emerged. "The kicker is," Frohike glanced over at Scully, "he wants me to help him kill himself. I think heís also been led to believe that heís attempted suicide and been stopped. He wants to die because of what he thinks heís done."

"Oh my god." Scully started to rise from the couch.

"Scully. Wait a minute, his mind has been tampered with, heís been through something we donít understand and itís obviously aged him Ė if not physically twelve years, at least emotionally. We need to ease him into this. Weíre not going to let him kill himself, you know that."

"I canít let him go on believing . . . " Her voice was shaking. What the hell had been done to him?

"Scully, try to calm down. Weíve got him now; weíre going to bring him back. We just need to take it slowly."

"How! How can we take it slowly if he wants to kill himself?" Byers moved over to her and put his arm around her.

"Take it easy Scully. Let us talk to him. He knows Frohike is still alive, let us handle this for a little while." Byers looked into the tear filled eyes of this traumatized woman. He squeezed her shoulders. "Sit here, try to get your thoughts together. You canít go in there like this. If he knows youíre upset Ė and he will know - heíll take on the blame. Hell, who knows what heís thinking now. Weíve got to go easy on this." He pulled back and looked at her. After a moment she took a deep breath and nodded.

They both sat and watched her for a moment, then Byers glanced over at Frohike and they rose together. She watched them leave the room and forced herself to stay behind.

He didnít open his eyes when he heard the door. "Mulder? Are you awake? Itís Byers."

"Byers?" He looked startled to see him. "Frohike didnít tell me you were . . . "

"Alive? Yeah. Iíve been looking for you Ė we all have. Why donít you tell me what happened, where youíve been." He settled himself beside the bed, giving Mulder his full attention.

Mulder closed his eyes and shook his head. He couldnít talk about it. It may have happened twelve years ago, but it was fresh with him. It would always be fresh with him. How did people recover from the deaths of loved ones? He would never have been whole again if she had succumbed to the cancer, but to have caused her death - to have shot this woman . . . They had told him he had sat by her side, watched her die. Heíd blocked that from his memory completely. That didnít surprise him, his mind had broken in the aftermath. Why had he woken?

Byers watched the agony cross his face and touched his shoulder. "Mulder, what year is it?"

"What?"

"What year is it Mulder?"

"2010. They told me who was president, but I donít remember." His voice was bitter and the sarcasm strong.

"Who told you?"

"The doctor, doctors and nurses here. Did they call you?"

"Mulder, look around. Youíre not in a hospital now. Do you know this place?"

For the first time Mulder glanced at his surroundings. This looked like a bedroom. It reminded him of his fatherís room for some reason. "You had me moved?"

"Not exactly. We rescued you Mulder."

"Rescued? If you really want to help me, youíll do as I asked Frohike. Byers Ė John Ė I want to be with her. Get me something to take, hell leave me alone with a razor. Help me!"

"Canít do it Buddy. Youíve been gaslighted, led to believe a pile of crap a mile deep."

"I saw the photos, the autopsy reports. They brought it all to me."

Byersí hand tightened on Mulderís shoulder. "Mulder, youíve never been this willing to believe others before. Why now? What did they show you thatís convinced you so thoroughly?"

"The pictures of Scullyís body." He said it quietly, almost calm again.

"You know how easily pictures can be doctored Mulder. What else?" This from Frohike, who had stayed quiet until now watching.

"The mirror." That answer was only a whisper. Mulderís friends exchanged glances at that. He did look older Ė traumatically older.

"Someone did this to you Mulder. Youíve been brainwashed. Itís 1999. We donít know if they dyed your hair, or if the shit they told you caused it to turn white. You need to believe us, not them. Look, what if we got Skinner in to tell you the truth?"

"Skinner died two years ago."

"Damn it, Mulder! Why do you believe them and not us. You saw Scully in this room with you Ė "

"That wasnít Scully. Scully would never . . . Scully never touched me like that. She never wanted to and now, wherever she is, she has to hate me for what I finally did to her."

They all turned toward the door as it opened. "Langly?"

"Mulder, look at him. Would Langly still have that hair twelve years in the future?" That from Frohike again.

"Twelve years? What are you guys talking about?" Langly approached the bed. "And if Mulder here is finally awake, why did Scully just take off crying?"

"She left?" Byers was on his feet. "Why didnít you stop her?"

"Hey, I didnít know the man was awake. I thought she just needed some time. Mulder, sheís been frantic about you for weeks."

Mulder was staring at him, for the first time beginning to have a glimmer of hope that . . . that maybe his life wasnít over. "Langly, what year is it?"

"Huh?" He looked back over at Mulder, "1999. Why? How long did you think weíd been looking?"

Mulder was trembling now. "Is it true?" He turned to look at Byers. "Scully is alive? Donít lie to me Byers! God, I have to know."

*****

Byers threw on some clothes and took off after Scully. She was on foot; surely she couldnít have gotten far. He was wrong. It took him over an hour to locate her. Sheíd made it to the beach, and was sitting alone in a rocky alcove. She wasnít easily spotted from any angle and he was almost past her before he caught a glimpse.

"Dana! Are you okay?" The evidence of tears was still on her face, though no fresh ones appeared to be falling. He sat beside her, catching his breath.

"Is he okay?" Her voice sounded dead, hopeless.

"Actually your timing stinks Dana. I think heís beginning to believe."

"Why?"

"Langly. Even our man Mulder realized those blond locks couldnít be around in twelve years."

"I need to get back!"

"Yes, but the guys are with him. Donít worry." He rose and pulled her to her feet.

"I shouldnít have left." She brushed the sand from her rear and turned toward the house.

"Slow down Dana. Get your act together. No oneís going to let anything happen to Mulder. Do you want him to see you like this?" She shook her head, finger combing her hair out of her face. "Itís gonna take him awhile to come back. Physically you know heís a wreck. Iím afraid mentally, heís worse. Whoever had him pulled a real number on his mind. He was sure heíd killed you. Weíre going to have to take this slow."

Scully nodded, moving purposely toward the house.

*****

Frohike stuck his head out when he heard the front door open. "You need to get her in here. Heís freaking."

She moved past the men and on into the room. His eyes were filled with fear and she was at his side. He clasped her hand in a death grip and she barely managed to hide the wince.

"Mulder, Iím here. Itís okay, Iím right here."

"Youíre alive?" It was a whisper. She nodded and sat on the bed beside him. She heard, but ignored the sound of their friends leaving the room. She couldnít turn away from him. With his free hand he was caressing her face, following the tracks of the tears she had not quite obliterated. "They told me you were dead, that I . . . "

"No, Mulder. Iím very much alive. Iíve been searching for you for weeks. Tell me what you remember."

He took a deep breath and slightly loosened his grip on her hand. "I donít know. I woke up in a hospital. They told me it was a long-term care facility. I couldnít remember being injured, a case, nothing. I was weak, I couldnít even sit up and I kept asking for you. They finally sedated me and then told me that I had been moved to that place because I had been, I guess in a coma or catatonic, since my last suicide attempt."

Now her hand gripped his even tighter.

"Scully, I donít remember it."

"Because it didnít happen Mulder. You never attempted suicide; there was no reason. The things they told you never happened."

"I saw the newspaper reports in my file. They were yellow with age. And the autopsy report . . . "

"Faked Mulder. Iím right here."

"Is Skinner alive too?"

"Yes. Mulder, youíve been missing about six weeks."

"Thatís what Frohike and Langly said. How could I have aged this much in that amount of time?"

She gave him a sad smile then and ran her hand over his salt and pepper hair. "This might be a dye job, Mulder. Let it grow a little." The smile disappeared, "or it could have turned white from their lies. I can get you some Grecian Formula or something and youíll look like a kid again. You can see for yourself it hasnít thinned." She tugged lightly and he managed a weak smile of his own. "Youíre tired Mulder. You should rest now. We can talk later. Did the guys feed you?"

"Yeah. Will you be here?"

"Of course."

He looked around the room again. "Is this my fatherís house?"

"Yes. We needed a place we could Ė "

"Hey, no problem. I just thought I recognized it. And youíll be here?"

"Iím not going anywhere Mulder. Close your eyes." She put her hand on his forehead and closed them herself, then not releasing his hand, settled in the chair beside the bed.

Heíd been asleep a few minutes when Langly stuck his head in the door. "Hungry?" He mouthed to her so as not to disturb the sleeping man. She nodded and he entered with a tray.

"Howís he doing?"

"Better." They both spoke in low tones. "Heís got a lot to process."

Langly nodded. "You need to take a break soon yourself. You should sleep while he is."

She couldnít disagree with that. "Let me make sure heís sound asleep, then Iíll come out." Langly left and she finished her dinner. Since he appeared to be resting comfortably, she took her dishes back to the kitchen.

"How are you doing, Dana?"

"Tired. My mindís racing, but he seems to be sleeping peacefully. Iím think of soaking in a hot tub."

Frohikeís eyes gleamed but Byers shot him a look that shut him up. "Weíll keep on eye on him. Take as long as you want." She smiled at all three of them and headed for the bath. She soaked until she was drowsy then went to check on Mulder.

"Heís doing fine, hasnít even stirred. Go on to bed." Byers watched her for a moment.

She took a deep breath, "You guys are the best."

"Yeah, we are." He grinned, "Now go rest." She squeezed his shoulder and headed for her room.

*****

"Scully! Scully! Sculllllly!!"

She burst into the room before Byers made it to his feet. She hadnít bothered with her robe.

"Mulder, Iím right here. Calm down."

He had her by the shoulders. "It wasnít a dream?"

"No Mulder. Iím here. Iím going to be here. Byers, go on to bed. Iíll stay."

"Dana . . . "

"Itís okay, go on." She heard Byers leave and explain the disturbance to the others. "I was in the next room Mulder. Iím sorry."

His trembling was beginning to subside. "I was . . . I thought . . . "

"Go back to sleep Mulder. Iíll be right here."

"Here, please." He touched the mattress next to him.

"Mulder, itís a hospital bed. Thereís no room."

"Iíll make room. I mean . . . Scully, let me hold you tonight. I wonít take advantage, I just need to know youíre real, that youíre really here."

"I trust you Mulder." He relaxed slightly and moved over, rolling onto his side. She wasnít sure this was the right thing, but if he felt safer with her close to him - fine.

She crawled into the bed and turned her back to him, lying on her side as well. She felt him mold his long body against hers and fought not to tense up. This felt too good - this definitely wasnít a wise idea. He draped one arm over her, letting it rest just below her breasts, drawing her even closer to him. She kept quiet - he needed this. Maybe they both did.

Broken Lives - Part 3
 

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?"

"No."

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."

"My feelings?"

"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.

"Why?"

"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 - "

"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.

 

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Mulder, Scully, the Lone Gunman and Skinner all belong to Chris Carter, 10-13 and Fox. No infringement intended.