Mulder opened the door to the deli. The aroma wafted out and instead of triggering his hunger, he struggled not to gag. He let the people behind him enter and hurried down the street.
He just couldn’t eat without her, and she had an appointment with her oncologist. Just the word made him ill. She was losing weight; he knew she was worse, but she wouldn’t talk to him about it. The ‘I’m fine’ line was going to be the cause of major dental expenses on his part if she kept it up.
Okay, he wasn’t going to eat but he couldn’t go back to the office either. She wouldn’t be back for at least an hour, if the doctor saw her on time, and he couldn’t sit there alone, waiting.
He headed for the Smithsonian, Natural History, not Air and Space. He could wander without being noticed there.
That’s what he did, not seeing the exhibits. He stepped to the side to let some tourists past him. “Agent Mulder.” The man spoke with a heavy German accent
Mulder looked over at the older gentleman. “Excuse me? Do I know you?”
“No, though we did meet many years ago. I was a friend of your father’s.”
“Then I don’t believe I want to have a conversation with you.” Mulder turned away, but before he could take a step the man spoke again.
“How is Agent Scully feeling?”
Mulder froze, then slowly turned around, his eyes hard. “What did you say?”
"I asked about the health of your partner. Is that a problem?"
Mulder moved closer to the man now, obviously using his size as intimidation. "What you do know about Agent Scully's health?"
"I know that she's dying."
Mulder winced, then seemed to grow, towering over the man. "Who the hell are you?" He managed to get out through gritted teeth.
"I thought you might be interested to know that there is a treatment."
Mulder looked down at him for a long moment, "She's under the care of very competent doctors."
"Why don't you see what Agent Scully's physician told her today? Then make your decision." He calmly extended a business card to Mulder.
Mulder stared down at it for a long moment, then looked back up at the man without taking it.
"Come, Agent Mulder. You don't want to leave any stone unturned, correct?" He was completely unruffled by the fury emanating from the younger man. "You might want to take it, before even more people begin noticing us."
Mulder looked around. They had attracted a few stares. No doubt people could see the expression on his face and thought he was going to beat the old man to death. Well, he would if he could. He took the card and nodded slightly, then walked away without another word.
Moving rapidly, he exited the building and headed toward his office before glancing down at the card he had clutched in his hand. 'Kurt Dahlstrom', no company or address, but on the back a phone number had been carefully printed. He stuck the card in his inside jacket pocket and moved purposely back to the office.
She wasn't there when he arrived, but there was a message on his phone.
"Mulder, I'm going to take the rest of the day. Would you mind finishing up the expense report from last week and get it to Accounting? It needs to be there by five today. Thanks, I'll see you in the morning."
That was it. Not a mention of anything the doctor had said, or how she was feeling. Damn it. He sank into his chair and stared into a darkening future.
She moved toward the door at the sound of the knock. She wasn't expecting anyone. Up on her toes, she checked the peephole. Mulder. She took a deep breath, then opened the door.
"Hi, is everything okay?" She asked quickly.
"Yeah. I just wanted to check in. I brought dinner." He waved the bag in front of her enticingly. She was dressed in sweats, as though chilly, though it wasn't cold outside. They looked baggy on her now he noted with a pang of fear.
"Thank you, Mulder, but I'm not really very hungry."
"Come on, just eat a little, to keep me company. The doctor didn't get after you for gaining too much, I'm sure."
She gave a sad little chuckle. "No, he didn't."
"Good. Then come sit at the table and keep me company while I dish this up."
She followed him into the kitchen and watched with faint amusement as he bustled around her kitchen. He asked no questions, and quickly found everything he was looking for. Why should she be surprised, he never forgot anything and he'd been in her kitchen often enough.
He placed a heaping plate in front of her. "Mulder, I can't possibly - "
"Eat all of that, I know. Eat what you can. The rest will be leftovers."
"This is Thai."
"Yep." He placed his own dish on the table so that he could sit on the short side of the table, close to her without crowding.
"You don't like Thai."
"You do." He picked up his fork and took a bite. She realized no further discussion was needed. He'd chosen this meal for her. She looked down quickly to hide the tears that formed in her eyes.
He'd picked Kaeng Khiao Wan Nuea for her and Yum Nuea for himself, along with stir fried vegetables. Not many of those had made it to his plate. He was eating hardily, so she took a bite. It was good, spicy enough for her to taste it without tearing up her stomach. She glanced over at him again, realizing he had put a great deal of thought into his selections.
She saw that he was watching her. "Scully? Don't you like it?"
"No, it's good. Thank you." She took another bite and after a moment he resumed eating as well. "You seem hungry tonight."
He nodded. "Didn't get any lunch."
"Why not?" She asked quickly.
"The time just got away from me. No big deal. When you're not there to keep me straight, I . . . " He shrugged.
"Eat, Scully." He took another bite and began telling her about his adventure taking the completed expense report upstairs. She couldn't help but smile at his rendition of the supervisor's icy reception to him.
With his voice and company, she'd actually made a dent in the food he'd placed before her. He didn't push for more when she lay her fork down. He just rose and put the leftovers in containers and enshrined them safely in her refrigerator for later. He reached in the bag again and pulled out a bottle of wine.
"Join me?" He said it casually, but she heard the uncertain undertones.
"You're sure you're not Eddie." She said lightly and he relaxed.
"Swear. Wanna see if I have a scar?" He leered at her. She rolled her eyes and turned toward the living room.
He grabbed the corkscrew and a couple of glasses, then followed her. He sat beside her on the couch and opened the bottle, pouring her half a glass. She thanked him and waited until he had poured himself one. She tapped his glass with her own, but said only "Thank you."
He nodded and took a sip.
"Want to tell me what you're really doing here, Mulder?" She asked finally.
"Can't I just want to have dinner?"
"No." But there was no accusation in her tone.
He accepted that with a sad nod. "I just wanted to know what the doctor said."
"I'm fine, Mulder. Things are progressing as expected and - "
"And how is that? Are you supposed to have lost this much weight? Talk to me, please."
"Mulder," she turned away and his hand reached out, nearly spilling her wine.
"Please don't shut me out, not on this Scully. I need to know how you are, really."
The pleading look in his eyes nearly undid her. "I'm not shutting you out, Mulder. You know more than I've told anyone else." She shrugged, "I have inoperable cancer. What is it you're really asking? How much time do I have left?"
He winced at that, releasing her arm as though burnt. "No! I want to know what he's doing for you. What . . . what I can do to help."
She softened then, "You're doing it, Mulder. Dinner tonight, checking on me every night by phone. I know you've not taken some cases that interested you when I wasn't feeling well. I do appreciate it. I was thinking, maybe we should get in a trainee or something. You know, someone you could rely on when you have to go out of town and I can't - "
"No. You're my partner."
"Mulder, we need to be realistic. I - "
She'd seen two year olds look less defiant. She gave a little sigh and nodded. He wasn't ready yet and he couldn't be pushed. Not on this. But soon . . . She sighed. “Okay. Do you want some more wine?”
“Uh, no. There’s something I need to do. Get some rest. I’ll talk to you later.”
“Mulder . . . Goodnight.” She watched him rise from the couch. He bent down and gave her a kiss on the forehead, over her tumor she realized. Then let himself out.
He hurried to his car and let himself in, but instead of turning on the engine he folded his hands on the steering wheel and laid his head on them. He forced himself back up after a long moment. He pulled Dahlstrom’s card from his pocket and looked at it, then yanked his cell phone from his pocket.
He dialed quickly, before he could change his mind. “Kurt Dahlstrom please.”
“Agent Mulder, I’ve been expecting your call.”
“I need to talk to you, tonight.”
There was a slight pause. “All right Agent Mulder. Why don’t we meet at the Jefferson Memorial. An hour?”
“I’ll be there.” Mulder broke the connection, then started the car.
When Dahlstrom arrived, he walked confidently up the stairs, then turned to look out at the lights. Mulder stepped out of the shadows. “What do you want for it?”
Dahlstrom turned calmly to face him. “Nothing.”
“You expect me to believe that you’ll give Scully this ‘treatment’ with no strings attached? I’ve been at this longer than that.”
“I don’t blame you for your cynicism, Agent Mulder. I will admit that the treatment is experimental, but we have very high hopes for it in Agent Scully’s case.”
“What is the treatment?” Mulder demanded.
Dahlstrom shook his head. “I’m sorry, that is something I would have to discuss with Agent Scully. She is the one that will have to make the decision. I remind you, I said it was experimental.”
Mulder stared at the man for several minutes. Dahlstrom waited quietly. Mulder finally gave one decisive nod. “Come with me.”
“Now?” For the first time Dahlstrom seemed caught off guard.
“Yes. You said yourself, we’re running out of time.”
Dahlstrom met his eyes and inclined his head slightly. “My car is down there.” Mulder pointed.
“I came by cab.”
“Fine, I’ll take you to her.” He was moving rapidly by the time he got to his car. Dahlstrom followed sedately.
When they arrived at her apartment, Mulder slipped his key into the lock and let them inside. He motioned for Dahlstrom to take a seat on the couch, then headed for the bedroom.
The door opened before he got there. “Mulder?” She looked up at him surprised, relieved and a little pissed. “What are you doing here?”
“I’m sorry if I woke you - “
“I wasn’t asleep, but - “
“Why not, it’s late?”
She looked exasperated then. “Why are you here?”
He let it go, for now. “I . . . I met someone earlier today. He says he’s a friend of my father’s, Kurt Dahlstrom.”
She blinked at that. “And you brought him here?”
“He says he has a treatment.”
She closed her eyes for a moment. “Mulder, go home.”
“No. Listen to me, he works with the Consortium. We need to at least hear what he has to say. They know things.”
“Why should we trust him? If he really works with them - “
“Please. Let’s just hear what he has to say. You’re a doctor. You’ll be able to tell if he’s just full of shit.”
She gave a mirthless chuckle then. “I don’t . . . “ She couldn’t continue. The look in his eyes was too compelling. She shut her eyes for a moment, then finally nodded. She pulled her robe closer and tightened the sash.
Mulder’s hand came to rest on her lower back. He led her into the living room. Dahlstrom rose to his feet when he saw her.
“I apologize for disturbing your rest, Agent Scully. My name is Kurt Dahlstrom. I assume that Agent Mulder told you why we are here.”
She nodded coolly. “It is late. If you have some information, please tell me.”
“Of course.” He gave her a tight smile and gestured for her to take a seat beside him on the couch. Mulder moved her to the chair instead, taking the seat Dahlstrom had indicated.
“First, let me say that we were sorry to hear about your illness.”
“Who is ‘we’?” She asked quickly.
“I belong to a group with a wide variety of interests.”
Scully sighed. “Understatement. Fine, why don’t you tell me why you’re here.”
Dahlstrom nodded, “I’m sure you know about the vaccine that Agent Mulder received in Tunguska. It was to eradicate the black oil from his system. And it was successful. We, quite frankly, were unaware of the Russian’s success in this matter until that incident.”
“What does this have to do with me?” She asked quietly.
“Agent Mulder’s blood retains this immunity. We believe that your condition is a result of the removal of your implant . . . “
Mulder shut his eyes for an instant. Scully turned to look at him, seeing the guilt renewed flood over his features.
“I’m afraid I don’t see the relationship.” She returned her attention to the older man.
“It is our contention that a transfusion from Agent Mulder has the potential to reduce your tumor and, since the disease has metastasized into your blood stream now - “
Mulder’s head jerked up looking stunned. Scully refused to meet his eyes. How the hell had this man known that? She had only found out herself this afternoon. She’d had no plans to tell Mulder of this latest development, but to have it blurted out in front of him . . .
“So the treatment is a transfusion from me. When can we start?” Mulder asked harshly.
“Wait a minute.” She said quickly. “Mulder, we’re only talking here. I have no reason to believe - “
“A transfusion from me won’t hurt.” He quickly countered.
Scully looked back over at the older man. “How much blood are we discussing?”
He gave her a slight smile then and an almost imperceptible nod. “You would need to have your blood volume replaced.”
Her eyes widened, but Mulder was watching Dahlstrom. “So when? Scully?”
She shook her head at him. “You don’t understand, Mulder. He’s talking about replacing all of my blood. You can’t give that much. It would kill you.”
“I understood, Scully.” He said softly.
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Mulder, Scully, the Lone Gunman and Skinner all belong to Chris Carter, 10-13 and Fox. No infringement intended.