She turned, though she would never know why, in time to see the piece of wood come down on Mulder’s head. He crumpled like a sack of potatoes. “Mulder!”
Before she could reach him, she felt a meaty arm go around her and a cloth stuffed into her face. “Mu . . . “ Her eyes rolled back in her head.
When she woke, she was lying on her stomach on a scratchy blanket. She was nude and . . . and she was bound spread eagle. She became aware of the gag in her mouth. She pulled on her arms and whatever was binding her cut into her skin.
Then she felt the hand on her buttocks. “Finally awake, huh Red?” The hand, calloused and meaty, caressed her and she flinched, trying to move away. It was the farmer they’d been sent to investigate, Junior Ambrose. They’d obviously been right to be suspicious.
“Now come on, a purty little thing like you must get lots of attention from men. But I bet you ain’t had anyone like me.”
He reached under her and roughly kneaded her breasts. He leaned closer to her ear, “I’m gonna fuck you like you’ve never been fucked before, Red.”
She tried to scream her fury. Mulder!
“Oh, don’t look for your partner, Red. I kilt him good. Couldn’t have a couple of FBI agents looking around the place. Just wanted to have me a little ride before I got rid of you.”
No! Mulder wasn’t . . . NO! She tried to jerk away again. His hand was back on her hips and one large finger ran up her, probing at her anus. She bucked to get away from him and he smacked her butt cheek hard.
She snarled and his eyes narrowed. He bent over and gave her rump a long lick, then bit her savagely. Her shriek was mostly absorbed by the filthy cloth in her mouth. She knew he’d drawn blood.
Mulder, he wasn’t coming. He was out or . . . or dead. She turned her head to look back at this man. The tears in her eyes were from fury as much as fear, but she refused to let them fall.
His finger probed her again and she closed her eyes. This was really going to happen.
She heard him unbuckle his belt and shuddered. She refused to look back at him again. She was aware he had pulled his pants down, but not off and he settled himself between her legs.
Oh Mulder. She closed her eyes, and tensed as she felt his cock press against her.
There was no warning, no ‘freeze’, no ‘federal agent, I’m armed’. Just the sound of the gunshot blast at close range, then the collapse of the heavy man half on, half off of her body.
She turned to see Mulder, standing behind her, his gun held steady in both hands.
Then he was kneeling beside her. He used the man’s knife to cut the bailing twine holding her wrists and gently removed the gag from her mouth.
“Scully.” It was barely a whisper. He turned away and cut the twine from her ankles. She rolled over covering herself with her arms.
He rose unsteadily to his feet, “Did he . . . did he hurt . . . “
She shook her head, “No, no you got here - “
His knees gave away and he dropped beside her. She looked at him then, really looked at him. He was white as a sheet; the blood from his head wound was only oozing now, nearly dried. Actually, he looked like death warmed over and she’d never seen anything so beautiful in her life.
He let himself lean back against the nearest bale of hay and his eyes closed for an instant. Then they were open again and he was pulling her to him.
Her nudity was a non-issue as she made herself comfortable in his lap. He was in shock and pain. She slipped her arms around him inside of his coat. “Scully.”
“I’m right here, Mulder.”
They sat that way for a short while, then his hands seemed to realize she wore nothing at all. He released her, not sure where to touch, but wanting to touch her everywhere, wanting to make sure she was really okay.
“You, uh, here, take my shirt.” He moved her from his lap and removed his coat. Then he began to unbutton his shirt. His fingers were clumsy, so she took over and removed it for him. He held it as she put it on. He slipped his coat back on as she rolled up the sleeves.
Now that she was covered, the fact of her nudity seemed more real and she rose to her feet. “Scully?”
“I’m not going anywhere.” She didn’t look at the body, not yet. She moved over to her clothes, which she’d finally spotted on the other side of the bale against which Mulder sat.
Every item had been sliced from her. Not a single piece was intact. She shuddered. That bastard had enjoyed doing that. Finally she turned to look at the man who had done this to them.
Mulder’s shot had caught him dead center of his back, his sixth and seventh vertebrae had disintegrated. The man had been dead before the pain had registered. In fact, with the spinal cord severed, he’d never felt the pain. She felt an instant of regret at that, then looked over at Mulder.
He was watching her silently.
“He’s, uh, he’s dead.”
Mulder nodded, then winced. She moved quickly back to his side. “Let me see - “ Her head came up to examine his wound, but he caught her hand, stopping her.
“No, you aren’t. You’re lucky he didn’t fracture your skull. I need to get us out of here.” She rose again and turned toward the door.
“I’ll be right back.” She turned away and stepped outside. Their car was there, with four slashed tires and the hood up. She saw the wires and entrails spilling out. Great. They weren’t going anywhere in that. She spotted both of their phones near the car door, smashed. She pulled a bottle of water from the car and looked for anything else they could use.
Thank God Mulder carried a second gun and that Neanderthal hadn’t thought to look. It was going to be dark soon; if she was going to make them comfortable for the night she needed to hurry.
“Mulder, we’re not going anywhere tonight. He destroyed the car.”
Mulder just watched her as she found a rag and placed it over the dead man’s face. She wanted to pull him away from where they sat, evidence be damned. Instead she sat down next to Mulder and grimaced as she accidentally sat on the wound where Ambrose had bitten her.
“I’m okay.” He let his hand drop. “But you’re not.” Her voice betrayed her concern. His color was no better and he was still unsteady. She knew he had a concussion, but there was nothing she could do about it.
Finally he leaned forward and held his face in his hands. “Mulder?” She put her arms around him and her voice shook slightly.
“I almost . . . I couldn’t - “ He looked up then, “You swear, he didn’t - “
“He touched me, he . . . but he didn’t get the chance. You were here, you saved me. You saved me from . . . “ The tears came then finally, and he pulled her against him, holding her painfully tight against him. She didn’t protest, her own arms clutching him just as tightly.
His tears falling brought her back to herself. The guilt was eating him alive. “Mulder, I’m okay, thanks to you.”
He swallowed, struggling for composure.
“Let me check your head, clean off the blood.”
“I don’t deserve - “
“Mulder. Hush. It’s going to be dark soon. Come on.” He fell silent. She cleaned him up and had him drink a little, then at his silent insistence, drank some herself.
“Do you think you can walk?”
“I don’t want us to sleep here, next to . . . let’s go to the car.”
He nodded, but refused her aid to stand. When he stumbled, her arms went around him and she wouldn’t release him.
She helped him into the car’s back seat, then crawled in beside him.
“Lie down Mulder.”
He murmured a protest.
“You’re in shock Mulder. Come on.” She pulled him down, placing his head in her lap. Again he protested, “Just be still. Mulder, let me look after you.”
Tears welled up in his eyes, but he didn’t fight her any more.
“Rest Mulder. We’ll be okay.” He didn’t answer, would they ever be okay, could she be okay after that?
She stroked his hair and he couldn’t keep his eyes open.
He pushed himself up from the ground. His head felt about four sizes too big. What had hit him? And where was Scully? His feet were leadened, but he staggered toward the only structure around, the small barn they had parked beside. Why couldn’t he move any faster? She was in trouble, he knew that. In what felt like slow motion, he pulled his revolver from his ankle holster. Where was she?
He stepped into the doorway and saw him. Her assailant had Scully bound, lying on her stomach. He was behind her, pounding into her, raping her. She was gagged but he could read her muffled cries.
He was raping her, he was raping Scully! Everything turned red then, a murderous red and he aimed the gun at the man's back. He didn’t hesitate but he was late, too late - the bastard had raped Scully. Mulder dropped the gun and threw back his head - his grief overwhelming him.
He jerked awake, disoriented and his head hurt. Where the . . . he was in the car, his head in Scully’s lap. Her hand was on his chest, slightly tangled in his chest hair.
He forced himself to relax, it was a dream. It hadn’t happened. He had gotten there in time. The bastard hadn’t . . . she said he hadn’t hurt her.
Mulder sat up carefully, so as not to wake her, and pulled her against him. It had been a dream, she was okay, safe in his arms.
“Shh, go back to sleep.” He took her into his lap and she curled in. “I love you Scully. I love you. I won’t let anything happen to you. Do you hear me? I swear.”
She pressed her face into his warm skin and smiled slightly in her sleep. Her warm breath against his chest was soothing. She was alive, she was, she was okay. He allowed himself to believe that and finally reclined again, with her cradled against him.
What could possibly cause a smile? He must have misinterpreted it in this light. Damn Kersh. He’d sent them out here on shit detail again. Well, if Ambrose had been planning any bombings, they wouldn’t happen now. But that hulk didn’t seem capable. God, five minutes alone with Kersh. Yes, his career would be over, not that it wasn’t already, but the damage he wanted to do to that SOB.
She stirred in his arms, picking up his tension, so he forced himself to relax. He’d take care of this later. She was here against his chest.
That’s how they woke the next morning, her hand at his waist, but his hand was inside of the shirt she wore, cradled around her breast. They both seemed to realize that at the same time. He jerked away from her, almost pushing her to the floor in his haste to retreat, hitting his head on the side of the car.
He stifled a groan, but couldn’t look away from her. “I’m . . . I’m sorry. I, I - “
“Mulder, we were asleep. It’s okay, it’s - “
“It’s not okay. I . . . Scully, I’m sorry.” He looked as devastated as he had last night.
She reached for him, but he pulled away, not seeing the hurt in her eyes. He let himself out of the car and after a couple of steps, was steady enough to walk without holding onto the car.
“Mulder, wait, I’ll - “ She reached for him, but he waved her away and moved carefully toward the barn, and around behind it. She waited; she would need the same privacy in a minute.
When she had returned to the car, he tried to rise from the seat he had taken on the passenger’s side of the front seat. She moved forward to help him, but he brushed her aside.
“I’m sorry. I can’t believe I . . . “
“What? What’s wrong?” He’d thrown up a wall she couldn’t even see over.
“I, I was groping you. I - “
“Mulder, you were not - “ He turned away from her. “Look at me. I did not feel groped, I felt . . . held.” She knew he couldn’t hear her, wouldn’t hear her and her heart sank.
He did rise then and turned from her. “I’m going to walk back the way we came, there was a farm house a couple of miles - “
“You’re not leaving me here.” She interrupted.
“Scully, you don’t even have any shoes.”
“Well I’m not staying here.” She snapped. “Come on.”
They walked slowly toward the road; he kept just enough space between them so as not to brush against her accidentally. When she stumbled, his hand came out automatically to steady her, then immediately dropped back to his side.
She stopped then, looking up at him. He took a couple of steps, then turned to see what was wrong.
“What? You can’t bear to touch me now? After what he did, you - “
She saw his face drain of color, “You said, you told me he didn’t - “
“He didn’t finish. I don’t know what he did while I was unconscious.”
Mulder bit down hard on the moan he felt rising within him and swayed slightly. He caught himself, both hands on his knees as his stomach clenched. He knew that if he had eaten anything, he would have lost it.
He heard her, saying his name from what sounded like a long way away and forced himself from reliving the dream of last night. He could feel her hand on his arm.
“We need to get some help.” He managed to say and started her walking again, after moving away from her hand.
They hadn’t walked far when a pickup drove past them, ignoring Mulder’s upstretched arms. Almost immediately they heard tires squealing as the man behind the wheel processed what he’d seen. He backed up toward them, and exited the truck.
“You folks okay?”
Mulder displayed his badge, “No. We need to get to a phone.”
“Uh, yes sir, Mr. uh, Mulder. Get in. I’ll take you to my place. You can use the phone there.”
“Thank you.” Scully spoke and the man glanced at her, taking in again her apparel. Something made him glance at Mulder and he immediately looked away.
Mulder opened the passenger door and let Scully in. This man wouldn’t bother her now. He climbed in and sat beside her.
“I’m Peter Lathan.” He glanced over at them, then back at the road.
“Agent Scully. We appreciate the lift.”
“Yeah, no problem. Amy, my wife, can patch you up a little.”
Scully nodded, not bothering to discuss her credentials.
In just a few minutes they pulled into the gravel driveway of a neat, white, two story farmhouse. Peter led them to the backdoor. “Amy!”
“Peter?” A young woman hurried into the kitchen, “What are you - “ She stopped at the sight in front of her.
“There was some trouble. This is Agent Scully and Agent Mulder.” Peter offered his wife by way of explanation. “I’m gonna call Bain.”
“Of course. Miss . . . ?”
“Scully.” Scully nodded to her.
“Why don’t you come with me. You can freshen up and I have something you could wear. It’ll be too long . . . “ She motioned toward the back of the house. Scully nodded her thanks and followed her after a quick glance at Mulder.
Peter hung up the phone and turned back toward Mulder in time to see the man’s expression as his partner disappeared through the door. “There’s a half bath through the laundry room.” He pointed.
“Thanks.” Mulder swayed slightly as he turned. He moved away with no life in his step. Peter’s forehead furrowed but he kept quiet.
Mulder was sitting at the table, sipping some exceptionally good coffee when the two women emerged. He wanted to smile, if he could still remember how, at the sight. He’d never seen Scully dressed quite like that. The blue shirtwaist dress had tiny flowers all over it and it was too long, but Amy was slim, so it fit fairly well. She was wearing flip-flops on her feet. She shot him an ironic grin which faded when he didn’t reciprocate.
“Bain’s on his way. He’s the sheriff.” Peter poured Scully a cup of coffee.
They sat in silence then, until they heard the crunch of tires on gravel. Peter met the sheriff at the back door. “Bain, these are Agents Mulder and Scully.”
The older man shook hands with the two agents. “Sheriff Hickman. Looks like you had some trouble.”
Scully looked over at Mulder. He didn’t look like he was going to speak. “We had an investigation at the Ambrose farm.”
Peter, Amy and the sheriff exchanged a glance. “You had problems over there?” There was no immediate answer. “I’ll get my deputy to bring him in.”
“Send the coroner instead.” Mulder spoke finally.
“Excuse me?” The sheriff leaned forward, his cup of coffee half way to his lips.
“I killed him.” Mulder looked the man straight in the eye.
“Self-defense?” Hickman asked.
“Justified.” Was Mulder’s only comment.
“Okay. There’ll have to be an investigation. We need to get you to my office.” Hickman rose. “Thanks Pete, Amy. I’ll be in touch.” He held the door open.
Scully turned back to Amy, “Thank you again. I’ll get these things back to you.”
“Don’t worry about it, please.” Scully nodded and followed the two men out.
This time Mulder opened the door and had Scully sit in the front seat. He climbed into the back alone. She looked back at him, but they couldn’t really talk.
Hickman pulled out onto the paved road, then picked up the microphone of his two-way radio. “Angie, you there?”
“Yeah Sheriff, go ahead.”
“Find Paul, send him out to Junior’s place.” Hickman spoke to the woman.
“Not the house.” Scully spoke. “We were at a barn.”
Hickman nodded. “Angie, send him to the barn over on State Road 612 and send the coroner.”
“Sheriff?” Angie asked.
“I’m on my way in. Have Doc Moss meet me at the office.”
“You got it.” Angie signed off.
They were downtown in less than fifteen minutes. Mulder winced as the bell went off when the door opened. Scully looked up at him but before she could speak, a white haired man came out of the inner office.
“You needed me Bain?”
“Doc, yeah.” Hickman made quick introductions.
“Okay.” The doctor nodded, “Why don’t I check you out in the sheriff’s office.” He looked at Mulder first, obviously the more injured of the two.
“Her first.” Mulder spoke quickly.
“Mulder - “
“Check her out first.” Mulder turned to the doctor. It was an order and judging from the look on his face, not one up for negotiation. Doctor Moss nodded to Scully and held the door open for her, then shut it.
Mulder sank into the nearest chair, no longer able to stand. “Agent Mulder?”
He didn’t look at the sheriff, just shook his head. The man backed off. Now wasn’t the time for questions.
Mulder had checked his watch three times before the door opened again. The doctor stepped outside shaking his head. Mulder was on his feet instantly, but he had to grab the desk to keep from falling. He was struggling to keep the coffee he had drunk down, but managed to get the words out through gritted teeth, “Is she okay?”
Doc Moss saw the look of terror on the younger man’s face. “She’s fine. She’s getting dressed. I didn’t mean to worry you.” He looked over at the sheriff, “Bain, I don’t know what you have to do legally, but I’ll be happy to testify on these people’s behalf.”
Sheriff Hickman nodded. Mulder’s face went carefully blank.
“I need to check out that head wound, Mr. Mulder.” Doc Moss turned to the agent now. “Come on in here.” Scully came out of the office then and looked at Mulder. He saw the redness around her eyes and wanted to touch her, hold her, but now wasn’t the time. Having been the cause of this latest trauma too, would it ever be?
The doctor shut the door behind him and touched his arm to get him to sit in the wooden chair in front of the desk. Mulder ignored that. “Is she really okay? She said he didn’t . . . ”
The doctor met his eyes quickly, “He didn’t. She really is fine.”
Mulder’s eyes closed and he more collapsed into the chair than sat. The doctor observed him closely for a moment, then moved closer and checked out the cut on the man’s scalp. “You need to be in a hospital, I can’t do the x-rays you need in my office. You’ve got a concussion and could use a couple of days flat of your back.”
“I’ll take some time after I get back to DC.”
“You shouldn’t be traveling. A couple of days won’t - “
“Sorry. We need to file our report. Then I can see about a leave.” Mulder wouldn’t face him.
“So you’re one of those patients.”
Mulder gave him a grim smile. “That’s why I always travel with my personal physician.”
“I bet you give her a workout.”
Even the meager smile vanished then. “Yeah, I do. Can we get out of here?”
The older man scanned him again. He’d seen the connection between these two ‘partners’. As long as he was with her, he’d be okay. Finally he nodded and Mulder got back to his feet.
Scully looked up immediately as the door opened and moved to his side. “Hospital?”
“DC, as soon as the sheriff releases us.”
“Mulder - “
The door opened then and the young deputy entered. Hickman came to attention. “This is Paul Haas, my deputy. What did you find?”
Paul nodded to the two agents. “Junior was in the barn, dead. He’s over at the funeral home now. I took lots of pictures and I think I know why he was so spooked about having federal agents out to his place.”
Hickman looked over at Mulder, then nodded to Paul. “Yeah?”
“Found a great patch of marijuana growing near the barn.”
“Mari - that son of a bitch nearly killed us over some damn weed!” Mulder was staring at the younger lawman.
Paul took an involuntary step back, but Scully put a calming hand on Mulder’s arm. “That makes sense. Our presence set him off.” She turned back to the sheriff. “Could we get a lift to our motel?”
“Of course. Where are you staying?”
“The Simmons Motor Court out on the highway.” She answered quickly. “And is there anywhere we can get another rental car? Ours is pretty much out of commission and if we are going back to DC . . . “ She looked Mulder over once more but didn’t argue with him here.
“Paul can take you over to the motel. You get freshened up then I’ll find you a ride to the airport. I’ll take care of the rental car.” Hickman spoke.
“It’s over an hour to the airport, Sheriff - “ Scully started.
“Thank you.” Mulder interrupted.
After a quick look at him, she backed down. He needed to get away from here. Hell, so did she. “Yes, thank you. Please let us know what you need for your investigation.”
“I think I can handle that internally. There’s a lot of belief in this county that Junior was behind a lot of bad things. Both of his wives died under unexplained circumstances, but we could never get the evidence we needed. I’ll be in touch with you if we need anything.”
Scully nodded and touched Mulder’s arm again. Paul took that as his cue and moved toward the door, holding it open for them. Scully turned back, “Uh, can I leave Mrs. Lathan’s dress with someone?”
“Sure, just leave it with whoever I get to drive you.” Sheriff Hickman assured her.
Again Mulder took the back alone and they traveled the few miles in uncomfortable silence. Scully thanked the deputy for the ride as Mulder stood there mute. He walked her to her room and waited as she unlocked the door.
“I’m gonna shower. I’ll meet you here.”
“Mulder, we could stay. If there’s an investigation, Kersh would expect - “
“No. We’re going.”
She was dressed and feeling almost human again when he knocked on the door. He looked more like himself, though not his usual Armani. He’d dressed in jeans and a t-shirt, not able to even think about a tie. The appearance was deceiving and she knew it. He wasn’t himself and he was in a lot of pain. Those lines around his eyes were new. She was also pretty sure it wasn’t just from the blow to his head. She stepped back to let him in.
“You ready?” He asked, not quite looking at her.
“Nearly. Did you call Sheriff Hickman?” She asked as she returned to the bed to finish packing.
“Not yet. I wanted to talk to you a minute first.”
“When we get back to DC, I want your
resignation. As ranking - “
“You what?” She broke in harshly.
“Your resignation - from the Bureau. Your skills can get you into any hospital in the - “
“Damn it Mulder, how many times do we have to have this conversation? I am not leaving the Bureau, my career, you.”
“Your career.” He huffed slightly, ignoring the rest. “I’ve already taken care of that. You don’t really have one anymore. Shit detail, background checks. No Scully. You’re so much better than that. This isn’t like before. We’re not going to get it back. I’ve earned this assignment, you haven’t. Go now.”
“Mulder, I - “
“This isn’t a discussion Scully. Think of it as an order.”
“An order?” But he had already turned away and was moving out of the door. “Mulder!” He shut the door behind him. She stood there is shock, unable to make herself follow him.
She didn’t see him again until the knock on her door forced her to open it. It was a young man who strongly resembled the deputy.
“Miz Scully, ma’am? I’m Nolan Haas, Paul’s brother. The sheriff asked me to drive you to the airport.” She looked past him to see Mulder place his suitcase in the open trunk and let himself into the back seat again.
She dragged her eyes back to their driver. “Thank you.”
He stepped into her room and picked up her suitcase before she realized his intentions. “I can - “
“My momma would get me if I let a lady carry her bags.” He smiled at Scully, who managed to give him a small smile and nod. It wasn’t worth the fight. She was too tired for that.
Nolan could obviously feel the tension, but he respected their silence and seemed content with his own thoughts on the drive.
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Mulder, Scully, the Lone Gunman and Skinner all belong to Chris Carter, 10-13 and Fox. No infringement intended.