He turned as the phone rang, but Scully was at the desk and closer so he turned back to the file. "Scully." There was silence for a moment and for some reason Mulder turned back to look at her, it was as though he could hear her heart rate increase.
"Oh my god . . . No, I'll be on the next flight. Tell her I'm on the way."
The universe had shrunk to the size of the chair she was sitting in and the receiver in her hand. There was nothing else in the world.
He shoved the drawer shut and moved toward her. "Scully? What happened? What's wrong?" He was kneeling beside her but she didn't seem to hear him. He put his hand on her arm; she was cold. He looked more closely at her. She was going into shock. "Scully, can you hear me?"
There was a spot of warmth in the universe. She looked down at her arm trying to focus. A hand, his hand. She was able to draw a breath then. There was warmth in the universe again. "Mu . . . Mulder."
"I'm right here Scully. What's happened?"
"Mom . . . Mom's in Ohio, visiting Charlie and his family. There's been an accident."
"Scully, is she . . . " He stopped, not sure what to say.
She shook herself; his touch had brought her back. "I need to get out there. She's in critical condition and Will, my nephew, is in bad shape too." She rose from the chair. "I need to make some arrangements, talk to Skinner."
"Let me take care of that. Columbus, right?" She nodded, already moving. "Why don't you go splash some water on your face. I'll call the airport."
She looked over at him; his concern for her was plain on his face. She didn't need him to look after . . . oh hell, shut up Dana! She nodded and he seemed to relax a little.
He was hanging up when she returned; at least there was a little more color in her face. "You're all set, Skinner wants you to call him when you know anything." She nodded and reached for her keys. "Leave your car here Scully. You shouldn't be driving anyway."
"I need to stop by my apartment, throw a few things in a bag."
"It's on the way." It wasn't, but she gave in, she didn't have the strength to argue with him right now and, even if she didn't want to admit it, she probably wasn't able to drive. And part of her wanted him to look after her. It was just a little part but . . .
His hand was on her back, leading her to his car. She tried not to lean into him, but when he removed his hand to open a door the fear and cold returned. They were both quiet on the way to her apartment. She obviously had no details to share and he respected her silence.
At the airport he pulled into the long-term parking and she looked over at him. "Mulder? You don't have to park, just let me out."
"I'm going with you Scully."
"What?" She just looked at him, not attempting to get out.
"You're not going out there alone."
"Mulder, I can - "
"Would you let me go alone?" She looked down, "I didn't think so. It's not a problem, Scully. I want to be there for you." She turned away then, to try to hide the tears that had formed in her eyes.
Rather than comment, he exited the car and got both of their bags from the trunk, grateful that he hadn't bothered to unpack from their last trip. She allowed him to handle the arrangements, and let him lead her to their seats.
"Why don't you try to get some rest Scully?" He lifted the armrest between them and pulled her gently against him. She accepted his comfort and closed her eyes.
"Dana?" An attractive man, about his height approached her. "Dana Scully?" She nodded. "I'm Tom Chambers, I work with Charlie. He asked if I could pick you up and take you to his house."
"I need to get to the hospital. Do you have any news?" She didn't move toward him, almost afraid of any news he might have.
"I haven't heard anything. Are you sure you don't want to go by the house for a moment?" She shook her head and he took her elbow. The heat of the stare from the tall man behind her startled him. Maybe she felt it too because she turned toward him.
"Tom, this is my, this is Mulder."
So they were together. 'My' what? Charlie hadn't mentioned a husband, but then he was pretty out of it. He held out his hand to shake with the fully confident man. "Tom Chambers." Mulder took his hand but his look did not become any friendlier. Then he placed his own hand on Dana's lower back and moved her toward the entrance. Tom took Dana's bag from her hand and realized that he'd actually looked up at the man for approval. The thing was, he got it - a quick nod. Then they all moved toward Tom's car.
Tom placed their bags in the trunk as Mulder let her in the car, then climbed into the backseat himself. That almost surprised Tom, that he would let her sit with him.
At the entrance to the hospital he parked the car illegally and started to get out. "Tom, would you mind taking the luggage to the house." Mulder spoke quietly, but Tom knew his presence was no longer needed.
"I'd be happy to. They're on the fourth floor. Tell Charlie to call me if he needs anything."
Dana nodded and tried to smile her gratitude. Mulder put his hand on her back again and turned her toward the entrance. Tom found himself taking a deep breath as though he had somehow escaped danger. He shook that off and pulled out carefully into traffic.
"He said fourth floor." Scully was moving toward the elevators.
She spotted Charlie standing at the nurse's station when the elevator doors opened. He must have felt her because he turned and then they were holding each other. Mulder felt himself stiffen. He knew this was her brother, a happily married man, but the sight of his arms around her, holding her, was still hard to watch.
When they moved apart she turned to him, "Charlie, this is Mulder."
Charlie looked up at the taller man and didn't even seem surprised to see him there. "I'm glad you're here." They shook hands and Charlie seemed to sag slightly.
"How is she?" Scully had hold of Charlie's arm now.
"She's in the ICU. We can only see her for ten minutes on the hour. It'll be another twenty minutes." He glanced at the clock over the desk.
The man didn't speak for a long moment. Scully's hand tightened on his arm. "They don't know . . . they're not sure he'll walk - Scully tried to stifle her gasp and looked up at Mulder. "Mary's with him now. They have him sedated." He glanced at the door just down the hall.
Scully moved in that direction and the two men followed her. She opened the door and a petite brunette looked up and then reached for her. "Dana. Thank God you're here." She clutched Dana to her and held on tight, fresh tears now flowing down her face.
"Oh Mary, we got here as fast as we could. I'm sure Will's going to be okay. You just have to believe that." Mary stepped back toward the bed and touched her son's face, then looked up at the man behind Dana and Charlie.
"Mulder, right?" She managed a sad smile. "It's good that you could come." Mulder nodded, not sure what to say. Charlie was watching the boy's face, then abruptly turned and left the room.
Mulder glanced at Scully then turned to follow him when she nodded. He found the man just down the hall, his face pressed into the wall. "Charlie."
"I can't . . . I don't want her to see me cry."
"Why don't we sit over here?" Mulder motioned to a small alcove with a couple of chairs and small sofa. It was empty and Charlie nodded. He sank onto the sofa and Mulder sat beside him.
"It was a drunk. Who's looking for a drunk driver at ten in the morning, you know? He came through the intersection and hit Mom's car head on. She saw it coming; she tried to turn away. That's why she got the brunt of the impact. Will was in the back," he sighed, "to protect him from the airbag. The other driver's dead. I need to be strong for Mary, and I'm caught between my mother and my son. I don't . . . " He lost it then, dropping his head into his hands. Mulder put his arm around the man and let him sob.
In a few minutes he sat up and wiped his face, accepting Mulder handkerchief ruefully. "It's . . . it's almost time to see Mom. I should get Dana."
"I'll get her, you should stay with Mary. Charlie, it's okay to let her see you cry."
Charlie looked up startled, then nodded. "You're right." He sniffed a couple of times, then stood. "Thanks."
He had his arm around her as they approached the ICU, not just his hand on her back. The nurse looked up at them. "Maggie Scully please."
"I'm afraid only one of you can - She looked down at the FBI badge he was discretely holding to his side and stopped, confused. She hadn't been informed that there was any investigation regarding Mrs. Scully's case. But when they both moved toward Mrs. Scully's alcove she didn't stop them.
He was especially glad that he hadn't allowed them to stop him when they saw her. Scully's hand went to her mouth and his arm tightened around her, supporting her. "Oh my God." Then he felt her straighten up and move forward. He glanced at the monitors around the comatose woman; they meant nothing to him, except that she was still alive. Scully touched her cheek and traced the outline of the bandage covering most of her head. "Mom, I'm here. It's Dana, and Mulder is with me. You just rest and get stronger, okay? We'll be here. You're getting the best care and I'm here to make certain of it." She leaned in and kissed her mother's forehead and caressed her arm.
Mulder had moved to the end of the bed and spotted the chart that hung there. She turned to look at him as he picked it up. He opened it, not that it would tell him anything and she stepped closer to him and took it. She scanned it quickly, nodding occasionally.
"She's had good care Mulder. I don't know of anything else I would do, any other test."
"That's good Scully. Now you're here and she knows it. She'll start getting better right away. Talk to her Scully, let her know how much you love her." She nodded and took the seat next to the bed. Mulder moved slightly away to give her privacy but she held out her hand and he took it, standing beside her as she murmured to her mother.
When the time was up the nurse approached them. "We need to run a few more tests now."
"She won't be in the way." Mulder spoke quietly to the nurse.
"Mulder, it's okay. I need to check on Will." He took her arm to help her up and was relieved to get no argument from her.
They found Charlie and Mary in Will's room. Both had obviously been crying, but they were calm now. "How's Mom?"
"There's no change, but she's getting good care. Has the doctor been in here yet?" Mary shook her head. "Why don't Mulder and I get you something to eat?"
"Scully, you stay here with your family. I can get whatever you need." Mulder offered.
"I, uh, I need to stretch my legs. I'll go with you, Mulder." Charlie stood and squeezed his wife's shoulder. "You have to eat what I bring back."
"I'll try." Scully sat beside her and looked up at Mulder, nodding as he moved toward the door.
Once out in the hall they both turned toward the elevators. "I need to find a phone. I should check on Sam."
Mulder pulled his own phone from his inside coat pocket. "Where is he?"
"He's with friends. I haven't called for a while, I don't know what to say to him."
"Tell him his brother's getting stronger and that you love him."
Charlie looked up at him and smiled. "Do you have any children?"
Mulder glanced involuntarily back at Will's room. "Uh, no."
Charlie caught the movement and a look of sympathy came over his face. He stayed quiet and they entered the car.
After Charlie spoke with Sam and then the people keeping him, they approached the cafeteria, but after a look at the line took seats to wait.
"Is Bill on his way?" Mulder tried to sound as though it didn't matter, but he wasn't sure what it would mean for his presence here.
"No, we haven't been able to reach him." He looked over at Mulder and kind of laughed. "You don't have to worry."
"Oh, you've talked to him about me?" He kept his face carefully impassive and managed not to look away.
"I've heard both sides."
"Both?" He looked puzzled at that.
"Well, there's Bill's version, and then there's the rest of the family." He managed to grin, "Dana needs you here and I appreciate it too."
It took him a moment to respond, he hadn't known what to expect but he hadn't dared imagine anything like this. "I, I wanted to be here." Charlie nodded.
They took the food back to the room and tried to get Mary to eat a little. "Charlie, you need to go home. Sam needs one of us there. You can relieve me in the morning. See your mother again and then please, go check on Sam. Tell him I love him, and I'll see him tomorrow."
"I'll stay here with you Mary." Scully looked up at Charlie.
"Dana, I appreciate it, but not tonight. I need to be alone with Will. Do you . . . I hope you don't mind."
"No Mary, whatever you need. I'll leave my cell phone with you, call at any time if you need anything." Mary nodded.
"Mary, don't you want me to -" Charlie started, but she shook her head. "What about something to sleep in?"
"Just some fresh clothes in the morning. I'll be okay. Please, stay with Sam."
Mulder watched the two of them, so close, loving each other so much and both scared out of their minds at what had happened to their family. He wanted to take Scully into his arms like Charlie had with Mary. He wanted to make this better for her. He realized Scully was looking at him, and he held out his hand to her.
To his relief she took it and they stepped outside to wait. After another visit with Mrs. Scully, which Charlie and Dana attended together, thanks to Mulder, they reluctantly made their way to Charlie's car.