Scully thanked Nolan when they arrived; then moved into the terminal, not waiting for Mulder. His face was impassive when he joined her. No hint of whether or not their last conversation had scarred him. His psyche was scarred enough. Even alone he didn't want to speak to her. Inexplicably she felt tears stinging her eyes. She turned away quickly.
He saw, but made no comment. There was nothing he could say.
The plane wasn't full, but he took his customary seat on the aisle beside her. During the takeoff, the change in air pressure brought his headache back with a vengeance. He barely had his eyes open when he felt her slip two pills into this hand, then her water bottle.
"What's this?" He asked unnecessarily, his voice scratchy from disuse.
"Pain medication. I got it from Doctor Moss because I knew you wouldn't." She said dryly.
He didn't respond, but he did down the pills without further comment. That told her how bad the pain was.
"Mulder, why don't you move to an empty row and lie down?" It was a doctor's question, not personal, but he couldn't make himself leave her. Not yet.
"This is fine." He reclined the seat and closed his eyes.
Scully turned slightly away from him, still angry at his decision on her behalf, and began making handwritten notes for her report.
She refused to look at him until he jerked in his sleep, moaning slightly.
"Late . . . " his body stiffened and he moaned again.
He wasn't hearing her. "Mulder, wake up." She touched his arm but that had no effect either. Finally she let her hand touch his face.
He grabbed it, breathing her name, "Scully." Then he seemed to realize he was gripping her like a lifeline. "Sorry." He let go immediately.
"Mulder, I - "
"I'm okay." He rose from his seat and headed for the restroom. He tried to hide that he had to grab hold of the seat after two steps. She kept quiet; he didn't want her help, or her for that matter.
No, she shook her head. He was shaken by what had so nearly happened to her. When he got like this it was impossible to reach him. He had the strongest guilt reflex she'd ever seen. She shook her head; he'd done this before. Eventually he would calm down, or they would stumble on a case . . . no, no more cases. Kersh had seen to that. But time . . . that should help.
Scully looked up as he returned to his seat. He'd obviously splashed some water on his face, but he didn't look good. He should be flat of his back in a hospital, not at 35,000 feet. She kept quiet; he knew this.
When they landed he followed her to his car. She automatically moved to the driver's side, pulling out her own keys. "I'll drive." He said abruptly.
"Mulder, I can - "
"I'll drop you at your place and then go home to bed, like a good boy."
"I'd need to see that." Her eyebrow was high.
"Next time. Get in Scully."
She sighed, as long as he went on home, she couldn't say too much.
He pulled up in front of her building but didn't park. "Mulder, why don't you come in. We need to talk."
Mulder shook his head. "There's nothing to talk about. You need to get some rest."
"Mulder - "
"I could use some rest too." It was a clear dismissal and she drew back, then nodded and opened her car door. She wasn't going to be able to change his mind. By the time she reached her apartment, she felt like crying. That was stupid, but she felt alone, abandoned.
She took a second longer shower, scrubbing herself vigorously. She was unpacking when the phone rang. "Hello?"
"Agent Scully, I need to see you in my office as soon as possible."
"AD Skinner." She acknowledged slightly confused, not Kersh? "Yes sir. I . . . I can be there in thirty minutes."
"Thank you. I'll see you then."
"Uh, Sir, will Mulder - " She realized she was speaking into a dead phone. Well hopefully Mulder had taken the phone off the hook and couldn't be disturbed. She quickly changed shoes and slipped on a blazer.
By the time she got there, Kim had left for the day. She tapped on Skinner's door. "In."
"Agent, come in." She entered and closed the door behind her. "I realize you've just returned from an assignment, but I felt you should go over these files tonight so that we could meet tomorrow morning." He slid three files across the desk to her.
"Yes sir." She reached for the files. "Sir, will we be reporting to you for this assignment?"
He looked up, startled. "These are personnel files Agent. As the ranking agent in the X-Files, I felt you should have some input."
"Ranking . . . what are you talking about?"
"I . . . I assumed - " Skinner cleared his throat. "Agent Mulder submitted his resignation to Kersh."
"Mulder did what?" She rose to her feet. "He . . . he re . . . Kersh accepted it?"
Skinner looked away. "Kersh was still doing his happy dance when he called me in, black eye not withstanding."
Her hand flew to her mouth, "Mulder . . . " Skinner saw her bandages then.
"Were you injured?"
She was lying and he knew it. "What about Mulder?"
"He has a concussion. I thought he was home in bed."
"There was apparently quite an altercation. Kersh isn't filing charges because of the resignation."
"Mulder wasn't responsible this time. He has a head injury. This is because of me."
"Because of you?"
Scully closed her eyes; when he'd realized she wasn't planning to quit, he'd done this. "I need to find Mulder."
"Scully, he won't be coming back, not after this."
She straightened up. "I need a short leave."
Skinner just looked at her for a long moment. "Scully . . . three days. Be in touch."
She was already moving toward the door; Skinner forgotten. Three days, plus the weekend. They'd be able to figure out something by then, couldn't they? God, Mulder, what have you done? How the hell are we going to fix this? The halls were empty, so she broke into a run to the elevator.
Fortunately rush hour had diminished, enabling her to race to his apartment. There was no answer to her pounding, so she used her key, desperate to see him, find out what he thought he had accomplished.
The apartment was empty. It even felt empty, not just that he wasn't there, empty. She moved into his bedroom and after a slight hesitation, opened his closet. His suitcase was there. For some reason the sight of it still there in the closet made her cold.
She retreated from the bedroom and ducked into his bath. The clothes from the plane were on the floor. There was blood splattered on the shirt, though not a lot. From Kersh? She closed her eyes, shaking her head. He had been here, where the hell had he gone?
She returned to the living room and after a moment, picked up the phone and dialed. "Lone Gunmen."
"Have you heard from Mulder?" She didn't bother to identify himself.
"Scully?" Langly responded. "Uh, yeah, he called a little while ago."
"Did he say where he was going?"
"I, I didn't speak to him. Hold on." Something about her voice upset him. He put his hand over the receiver. "Frohike! Did Mulder say anything about going anywhere?"
Frohike picked up the phone, "Ahh, Scully. You need to come over and we can-"
"Frohike, where is Mulder? What did he say?"
"Uh, well, uh actually I thought he was drunk."
"What. Did. He. Say?" Her tone left no doubt that she would not tolerate anything but a straight answer.
"He was . . . he didn't make a lot of sense. I know he said he was going back to his first mistake and do what he should have done."
"Oh my god." She barely breathed the words.
"Scully? Scully!" But the line had been disconnected.
First mistake? He'd always blamed himself for losing Samantha, even though there was nothing a twelve year old could have done. Do what he should have done? She was barely aware that she was running to her car. She was moving on pure instinct, but she was right. She had to be.
She was aware that she should be amused that she wasn't pulled for speeding. Perhaps the sheer audacity of her speed kept the highway patrol away. She had thrown her FBI parking card in the window, but was driving too fast for it to be seen.
It was nearly midnight, but she was finally here. That was his car. She'd guessed correctly. The house where John Lee Roche had slipped up on his story. The engine was still warm. Well, he probably hadn't stayed fifteen to twenty miles over the speed limit the whole way.
The door wasn't locked, so she entered quietly, flipping on a small lamp near the door.
"Go away Scully."
She jerked at the sound. Her eyes hadn't adjusted to the gloom of the house enough to realize that the dark form against the wall was actually Mulder.
Scully moved in that direction now, taking in his posture, his attitude. Instead of obeying, she sat beside him on the floor.
He had his back to the wall, his knees bent and his forearms resting on his knees. Now that she was closer, she could see his gun in his right hand, dangling between his knees. He wouldn't look at her, staring straight ahead.
"I thought we should talk." She sat beside him, hugging her knees to her chest. Stay calm, Dana, get him to answer you.
He made no comment.
"I heard you resigned this afternoon." She tried, he was the psychologist.
"And that you assaulted Kersh in the process."
There might have been a small shrug of his shoulders then, but no sound.
"We should have talked about that Mulder."
"Nothing to talk about, Scully. Just correcting what should have been done years ago, before anyone else got hurt. Could you leave now?"
"Nope." He glanced at her and quickly away. "I was just thinking on my trip up here, how very alike you and Bill are."
"Wha - " That escaped before he could stop it. He didn't want to talk to her, or listen to her. He couldn't do what he needed to do with her here. Why didn't she understand that and how much better off the world would be for it.
"Yes." She responded as thought he'd asked. "You two are so similar. I don't mean in appearance, it's your attitude. Both so in charge and sure you're always right. How you both think I should be a doctor and married with 2.3 kids and a dog. It's the same with your selective memories. You know, how neither of you seem to be able to remember that I had left medicine and joined the Bureau before I'd ever heard of Fox Mulder or the X-Files. Neither of you seem to remember that I could have requested a transfer just about any time and left the X-Files. Hell, I've been thrown off of them three times at least, but I request," she thought about that for a moment, "no, I fight to return. And you two absolutely agree that I'm an idiot for doing that. Both of you think I'm too stupid to make such a decision for myself."
"Scully - "
"Yes," she nodded, "I think the two of you must get together and rehearse this stuff when I'm not looking."
He cut his eyes to look at her but didn't move his head. How had she found him? He didn't want to talk to her, he definitely didn't want to see her or have her here. He had wanted this clean, releasing her finally.
She stretched her legs out then, looking at the same wall he faced. "So, do you have a full clip?" She asked conversationally.
"What?" He did look over at her now.
"A full clip? How many rounds do you have?"
"What are you - "
"Because I want to make sure you leave one for me."
His eyes narrowed. "Funny Scully."
"What's funny about it? I need to know if I should get my gun from the car."
"You wouldn't do it. It's a mortal sin." Why had he responded? He didn't want to talk to her.
She shrugged, "What would you care, you'd be dead."
He shuddered slightly at the flat tone of her voice. "Stop it. Just go."
She shook her head, "It'll be easier to clean up if both bodies are here together."
"Stop it!" His voice was harsh, and she heard his fear.
Now she was the silent one.
"Scully, you're not serious. You would never . . . Damn it Scully, stop this."
"Stop what, Mulder? Following your lead? Sorry, it's ingrained now."
His eyes widened as he looked at her, really looked at her. She . . . she looked serious.
"I'm . . . I'm not going to do anything, Scully."
She met his eyes then, pinning him like a bug to a slide. From the corner of her eye she saw him thumb the safety back on and then lay the gun in her hand. After a long moment she rose to her feet and stood in front of him. "Let's get out of here." She held out a hand and helped pull him to his feet.
"And go where?" He offered, noting for the first time how late it was.
"Anywhere. I don't like it here."
Mulder nodded and let her lead him to the door. He stopped just inside the front door. "Scully, promise . . . promise me that you won't ever . . . "
She looked up at him, waiting but not helping him.
"Scully, promise me that you won't ever . . . ever hurt yourself."
She met his eyes and her chin came up. "If you don't."
He blinked once at that, but then nodded.
"Okay. Let's get out of here. We can take my car; it's already on the street."
They walked out together, but not touching. She climbed in and waited for him to take the passenger's seat. She saw that his hands were shaking, but made no comment. She didn't know what to say now anyway.
She left the island, wanting to put distance between them and the house. When she pulled into a hotel finally, in Falmouth, she was trembling with exhaustion and emotion. He followed her inside, but hung back as she checked them in.
He made no comment when she only took one room. She was probably afraid to let him out of her sight. Well, he wasn't going to argue.
She opened the door to the room and he saw the king size bed. He kept quiet. He had no idea what to say to her. He was in no shape to have the conversation they needed.
She wouldn't come close to him, but then he wasn't exactly all over her either. She lay her purse on the bed and he saw that her hands were shaking. That got his attention.
"Scully? Are you . . ."
The sound of his voice finally did it. She snapped. Her head came up and her eyes flashed at him. "Am I okay? Am I okay?" He jerked at the shrill tone of her voice. "I'm just peachy, Mulder. Let's see, over the last couple of days I see the man I love get his brains bashed in and think he's dead, I'm nearly raped, this man rescues me, then we get home where he ditches me, but I try to relax. Without warning I'm called into the office by my former boss and handed personnel files to find a new partner, because mine just quit and assaulted our current supervisor to ensure that he can't come back. Then I get a cryptic message from Frohike and race to the Vineyard in time to almost see this man blow his brains out. How much better do think I could be doing, Mulder?" She was shaking all over now.
He took a step toward her, holding out one hand. 'The man I love?' Had she said that? Her eyes blazed up at him and without warning she slapped him hard across the face. Then she was pummeling him, her fists striking his chest and shoulders.
He did nothing to protect himself.
Just as suddenly she stopped and, before he could catch her, collapsed to the floor.
He dropped to his knees beside her, scared to touch her and terrified not to. "Scully?" His hand came out as, on hands and knees, she rounded the end of the bed to escape him.
No! He crawled after her, cornering her on the far side of the bed. "Scully, please."
She was crying now, though she didn't seem to notice. She made no move to wipe the tears away.
"Scu - "
"You said you loved me, in the car. You thought I was asleep, but it was a lie. You don't even love me enough to stay alive with me." She faced him now, her back against the wall.
He stopped in paralyzing shock. His face drained of color. Her eyes narrowed watching him. He was the color of old parchment, even his lips had no color, only his eyes still looked alive. They were the darkest brown she'd ever seen.
"Mu-Mulder?" His pallor, his look of utter horror, shaking her from her own trauma. "Put, put your head down." Doctor mode was surfacing, she could move on auto-pilot. She scooted to him and forced him to recline on the carpet and put his knees up.
He obeyed like a large doll, doing what she pressed him to do. "Mulder?"
His lips moved but she couldn't hear him. She leaned over, moving closer to hear him. "You would have done it."
"What? What are you - "
"You would have killed yourself if I . . . "
She sat back, leaning against the bed. "With you gone, why wouldn't I?"
He closed his eyes shuddering, blocking her out for a moment. "You think I don't love you?"
"You seem to want to get as far away from me as p-possible."
"Release you Scully. Let you live a more - "
"Bill's words again." She spat as she leaned back away from him. "I can hear Bill's voice coming from your mouth." She looked completely exhausted. She shook her head. "I can't . . . I've got to sleep, or try to." She glanced at the door, then back at him.
rising to a seated position again and saw her concern. "I'm not going anywhere,
After a moment she nodded and made it to her feet with the help of the bed. She walked to the bath with a heavy tread. When the door shut, his head dropped to his chest. *You don't love me enough to stay alive with me.* Didn't she realize it was because he loved her so much that he wanted to give her a life. He knew he was the reason she'd been out there, the reason she'd been nearly raped. It just hadn't occurred to him that she would ever think about . . .
He didn't move until he heard the door open, afraid to look at her. When she was covered and settled, he hauled himself to his feet wondering if the nausea came from the headache or her fury. He took his turn in the bathroom. Neither of them seemed to have anything with them, like suitcases - he hadn't thought he would be needing one.
She watched him as he returned, wearing only his boxers. He slipped under the sheets, but seemed unable to meet her eyes.
After a few minutes he turned to her. "You're exhausted, Scully. Close your eyes. I'll try not to do anything monumentally stupid for a few hours."
She looked at him, "Do you think you can hold out that long?" Her tone was not bantering, just hostile.
"I can try. Scully, go ahead and sleep."
After a long moment, she turned her back to him and closed her eyes.
He didn't even try to sleep. He lay there, listening to her breathe. He was still reeling from her words. She would honestly have, have harmed herself. He did believe it now, but what had possessed her?
Her breathing had changed and she'd grown restless. He turned his light on the lowest setting to check on her. She was dreaming, her eyes darting back and forth beneath the lids. When she moaned, he reached for her.
"Scully? Scully, wake up. It's just a dream."
She didn't hear him, lost in whatever horror she was seeing in her sleep. He realized tears had slipped from her eyes. It had to be the assault again, reliving it in her sleep as he had. His heart broke for her and he carefully took her into his arms.
"Scully, please, wake up. You're safe here."
She jerked awake. Startled, she pulled away, then realized who was holding her. She relaxed for an instant, then memory returned and she did move back.
"Scully, it's okay. You were dreaming."
Her eyes grew shuttered as she remembered the dream.
"Can you talk to me?" Before she could shoot him down, he continued, "It might help."
"A little late to act the psychologist." She automatically refuted his statement.
"Can I?" She asked tersely.
He closed his eyes to try to hide the pain that statement sent through his body. When he opened them, he looked deeply into her eyes. "Yes. I swear it, Scully."
He wasn't sure she believed, but her body did relax slightly.
"What was the dream?" He steeled himself to listen to her talk about Junior, looming over her. She needed to get it out and he desperately wanted to help in some way - no matter how inadequate he was.
Her eyes flickered away, then met his again. "I was too late. You'd already shot . . ." Her voice trailed off.
Him? She'd dreamed about him? "You saved me again." He said simply. "Scully, you weren't really serious." He still couldn't grasp the fact that she would do something like that, for any reason. "Tell me you wouldn't have . . ." he stopped, staring at her suddenly. His mouth had fallen open in shock.
Her hand came up to his face, "Mulder, what?" Concern colored her voice.
"You . . . you're in love with me." It wasn't a question.
The sheer wonder in his voice brought tears to her eyes. "You're just now figuring that out?" She managed to say.
"No, I mean, you're in love with me. You . . . Oh god." He looked so shaken it frightened her.
"Mulder, did you honestly not know? Did you think I was just . . . just hanging around because of all the fun we were having?" She couldn't help the bitter note.
"No one's ever . . . I can't . . . " He couldn't look away from her.
"Mulder, other women have - "
"No, Scully. I've been tolerated, and, and used, but no one had ever . . . Scully you wanted to, to die because I - " His hands were shaking as he touched her face.
"Mulder, we're both alive, we're both reasonably healthy, for us. I have your promise and you have mine." She moved closer. How could he not have known? "Maybe it was time you got hit over the head. Mulder, are you in love with me?"
"Of course." There was no hesitation at all.
"Of course? But it's inconceivable that I could be in love with you?" She shook her head.
She blinked. "Mulder - "
"I almost got you raped because I screwed up your career and got us stuck on that assignment."
"Don't! Mulder, do not go over our entire history again. I didn't fall in love with you this morning, or yesterday. It's grown. It started with fascination, then respect, then affection. Now I need you, damn it. Ambrose told me that he had killed you. I knew he was going to kill me as well. That didn't frighten me, what he was planning to do to me, yes, that scared me, but not dying. I would be with you. "
He shook his head, "You don't believe we'd end up the same place." He tried to smile.
"I don't think I've earned Hell, Mulder and that's where I'd be without you." She moved into his arms, hers twining around him. "Yes, I'm in love with you. I guess it's okay to confess now that we don't work together any more." He didn't respond, just holding her as though she was as fragile as spun glass, the feel of her body was too much to absorb.
Finally in a low voice he spoke, "I'll live forever if you're with me."
A sob escaped her. "Promise me."
He just pulled her even closer against him.
"Mulder, close your eyes. We're together and right now we both need some rest. We can talk in the morning. A lot has happened to us in twenty-four hours, things that have thrown us into a new place. Neither one of us can handle it now, but together we will. Now close your eyes."
He obeyed her, not letting his grip slacken. She was right; too much had happened to even process.
Was it possible that these things had brought their feelings out in the open? A catalyst to a new relationship - a personal relationship, admitted and explored? Whatever, she was alive and in his arms. The rest would fall into place. She loved him.
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Mulder, Scully, the Lone Gunman and Skinner all belong to Chris Carter, 10-13 and Fox. No infringement intended.