“Scully!” The cry of her name coincided perfectly with the sound of the gunshot. Why had Skinner called out to her? Mulder pivoted, drawing his own gun. He was too far away; he’d walked out of Skinner’s office ahead of her.
Skinner was beside her and threw himself in front of her, catching her as she crumpled toward the floor. The second shot caught Skinner in the side. The force threw him down along with Scully, his body half covering hers on the floor.
The shooter was already on the floor, three agents on top of him, the gun skittering across the hall. Mulder froze for an instant, his mind not able to wrap around the horror. Then he was on his knees beside Scully, his slacks ruined by the blood pooling around them.
“Call 911!” So much blood - too much. How the hell had a shooter gotten this far into the FBI building? Later, that was secondary. Skinner’s wound looked bad, could they move him to see how badly Scully was hurt? They had to. Where had the bullet hit her?
“Careful Mulder! Ross, over here, help us.” They carefully lifted the wounded man off of Scully. She was unconscious and he couldn’t tell how much of the blood covering her was hers. But there was a pulse. His hand automatically went over the wound to try to staunch the bleeding. He could see they were doing the same for Skinner; he was still alive as well then. Where the hell were the EMTs?
There was shouting now on down the hall where they were holding the man that had done this. Mulder glanced that way not taking his hands from her.
“I can’t tell!” More people came between Mulder and that crowd.
“What is it?” He shouted over the din. “What’s happening to him?”
“Convulsions, foaming at the mouth!” The agent yelled back at him.
“He’s dead Mulder.” Another of the agents called back to him and several moved aside so that he could see. They were performing CPR on the man. What the hell was going on?
The elevator opened and even more people poured out onto the scene. “Get these people back! Secure the scene. Come on!” Mulder’s fury seemed to break through the shock and professionalism took back over. The hall began to clear, and when the elevators opened again, the EMTs were there.
The shooter was dead; Mulder could see that from where he was beside Scully. One EMT stopped there, the other continued on to Skinner.
“Is he . . .?” He needed to know, but he couldn’t tear himself away from her.
“We need to transport.” The EMT was talking into his radio. The first EMT had left the shooter’s side; there was nothing to be done for the man, and was examining Scully now. Another set of paramedics arrived and Skinner, obviously the more wounded and now sporting wires and tubes, was loaded onto a gurney.
The second crew was working on Scully, but they weren’t giving him any information. How badly was she hurt? Now she was being loaded on a transport. “Where are you taking her?”
“Georgetown. Please move.” He hadn’t realized he was blocking them. He immediately allowed them past and headed for the stairs. He had to be there for her; let his fellow agents handle this. Right now who did it or why wasn’t important. The important thing was that they didn’t succeed.
He fell in behind the second ambulance and raced toward the hospital. The mantra continually chanting in his head, “Live Scully. Just hold on.”
By the time he was out of the car she had already disappeared into a trauma room. Had she regained consciousness? These places were committed to keeping him in the dark - it was a nationwide conspiracy that rivaled the consortium as far as he was concerned.
He sank onto the leatherette couch nearest where they were working on her. Skinner was already up in surgery - at least he’d gotten that much information. They were both still alive, for now.
His cell phone finally drew his attention back from the black void it had drifted into. “Mulder.”
“McLean here, what’s the word?”
“Skinner’s in surgery. They’re working on Scully.”
“We need you back over here. We had to bring in the police and they want our statements while they’re fresh.”
“You expect me to leave here? I don’t know if my partner’s going to live.” McLean was a bigger fool than Mulder had imagined if he thought he was leaving now.
“She’s in good hands Mulder. We need to find out what happened here. The guy that pulled the trigger is a non-person, not in any database. Hell, the man doesn’t even have fingerprints. You . . . you have more experience with . . . We think Scully was the intended target. You’re her partner, who would be after her?”
“Scully?” He felt dull, stupid. Who would want to kill Scully? Himself he would understand, even Skinner. They’d tried that before, but Scully?
“Get over here Mulder. We can’t let this get cold.”
“Go to hell McLean, I’m not leaving here, not yet.” He disconnected and turned off the phone. He looked over yet again to where they were working on her, this time he saw a doctor approaching him.
“Doctor? Is she . . .?“
“You’re here with Agent Scully?” He nodded, fumbling with his badge. “She’s going to be okay. The bullet went through clean. It tore up some tissue but missed the artery. She’ll have to be here for a couple of days.”
“May I see her?”
“They’re going to be moving her to a room and she’s been sedated.” He looked at the traumatized man in front of him and relented a little. “Just for a second, go on in.” Mulder closed his eyes for an instant in relief, then lost no time moving around the doctor and on to where she was.
“Scully? Scully can you hear me?”
She opened her eyes slowly. “Mulder? What . . .?”
“You’re going to be okay Scully. I want you to rest. They’re moving you to a room.”
“Are you hurt?”
He took her hand then and brought it up to his lips. “No. Skinner’s in surgery. I haven’t heard an update on him yet.”
“Skinner. He . . . he saved . . .” And she was asleep.
“Yeah, he saved us both.” He leaned over and placed his lips to her forehead, then stepped back as the nurse and an orderly entered the room to move her. He had to watch them roll her away. That was when he finally noticed how he looked. He could star in the Texas Chainsaw Massacre right now. They weren’t going to let him be with her for a little while. He glanced around, looking for anything suspicious. When he picked up no negative vibrations, he forced himself to move toward his car. He’d put some clothing in there to change into for his run this evening.
He changed in the men’s room outside of the nurses’ station, making certain both of his weapons were secured, then persuaded a nurse to give him a bag for his ruined suit. He wasn’t sure he wanted it cleaned, but stuffing it in the trash could cause someone to have a heart attack later. Besides for waiting, the t-shirt and sweats would be more comfortable.
He stationed himself outside of her room, watching everyone who came and went. McLean wanted a statement. He’d give them their damn statement and any insights they were likely to listen to, but they’d have to come here to get it. Until a guard arrived he would not be leaving.
McLean had finally given in on that point and sent an agent to guard her in order to get him to the Hoover Building. His part in the investigation didn’t take long.
He hadn’t bothered to insist on them listening to him. He would perform his own investigation without them. For now he wanted to see Scully, check on Skinner. He hurried to her room, the ‘guard’ was standing at the nurses’ station, flirting with the younger woman, but at least he was around. Mulder opened the door. She wasn’t there and he felt his blood pressure soar. He turned toward the nurses' station.
“Agent Scully, do you know where she is?”
“Is she not in her room?” The nurse looked up quickly and took a step in that direction. The younger agent froze. Mulder held the door open for her, but the look he sent the man would have melted Tokyo.
“She shouldn’t be up. I didn’t see her leave.” The nurse was upset and it wasn’t reassuring Mulder at all.
“Skinner! Could you tell me where AD Skinner’s room is? Maybe she’s there.”
The nurse turned to her computer, “He’s in ICU.”
Mulder looked up at her face, “What’s his condition?”
Well he’d figured that out already. This woman was not going to win his star of approval. Rather than make a comment that would not improve their relationship, or assault the terrified little boy McLean had sent over, he turned toward the elevators.
There were times he really enjoyed being an agent of the FBI. This one of those times, as he flashed his badge and entered ICU with pseudo authority. Yes, she was there, sitting beside Skinner's bed as she had done for him so many times. The uncomfortable feeling that he got from seeing her holding the man’s hand was shrugged off as soon as he felt it.
“Hi.” He spoke softly; she hadn’t realized he was there. He couldn’t put his finger on why that bothered him as well, she was concentrating on Skinner.
“Mulder.” She smiled up at him and his world became right again.
“Who gave you permission to be out and about?” He pulled another chair up beside her and joined her at his bedside.
“Shh, I’m trying to be invisible.” She couldn’t take his hand; the arm not touching Skinner was in a sling. He opted to place his hand on her thigh, not a usual position for him, but he needed to touch her.
“How’s he doing?” He leaned closer to her, whispering and feeling her hair against his face.
The smile faded from her face. “Not well. He’s going to have to have surgery again, but he was too weak to finish everything up. They want him to stabilize and then open him back up.” She shook her head. “He was saving me.”
She had on two of the hospital gowns, using one as a robe. He felt a mild disappointment that following her down the hall wouldn’t give him the view he longed for.
He started to say something, then changed his mind, though his grip of her leg tightened momentarily. “Scully, you know you were shot too. You should be in bed. Where’s your IV?”
“I’m fine Mulder. I don’t want to leave him alone.”
“Scully, he’s in ICU. You can’t get farther from being alone than here. They’re keeping an eye on him. Come on; let me take you back to your room.”
After one more glance at Skinner, she let Mulder help her to her feet and escort her back to her own room. Once there, after the scolding from the nurse, he settled her into the bed and sat beside her.
She inclined the bed, but lay her head back with her eyes closed for a minute. He watched her, appreciating the pulse in her throat. She took a deep breath and looked over at him. “What’s going on?”
“We can get into that later.”
“I’m not sleepy Mulder. Talk to me. What have you found?”
He shrugged, “I’m not in charge on this one. McLean has it. I was too close to the . . . Everyone’s ass is on the line for a shooter getting that far into the building.” She nodded and waited for him to continue.
He sighed and settled back in his chair. “The shooter’s unknown. His prints aren’t in any database they’ve tried so far.”
“Have they let you question him?”
“He’s dead Scully. Suicide by poison, apparently timed. He didn’t take anything after the shots were fired. He died in the hall outside Skinner’s office while about a dozen agents had hold of him.” Her eyes had widened at that. “We’ve got pictures, I’ll bring them over later. Scully . . . “
“They, uh, they think you were the target.” She blinked at that, but didn’t speak. “He was aiming at you, not Skinner. The second shot, the one that he took - it would have a been a kill shot on you.”
She looked down at her arm. There was no reason to doubt Mulder’s words. “Who would try to kill me?”
“I don’t know yet. The regular Fibbies are working on it, but I’ll be running my own investigation.” She managed to smile; she’d known that without being told.
The nurse tapped on the door then. “I’ve got your meds.” Then she turned to Mulder. “Visiting hours are long over.” Her look was even more pointed than her words and he rose.
Now she was doing her job, Mulder thought.
Scully held out her hand and he took it, bringing it up to his lips despite the audience. “Get some rest.” She nodded, her throat tight at his gesture.
Scully napped but was awake again in a couple of hours. She rose and decided to check on Skinner rather than toss and turn. She hadn’t needed to stay in her opinion, but at least this way she was closer to him.
When she opened the door she spotted Mulder, asleep in the chair just outside of her room. What in the world was he doing here? She eased the door to and made her way to the nurses’ station.
After speaking to the nurse on duty, she looked back over at Mulder. “Do you know why he’s here?”
“He’s guarding you.” One of the nurses sniffed. “We tried to throw him out, but he insisted.”
The older nurse spoke then. “If you really were a target this afternoon, Dr. Scully, he’s probably right. Problem is, no one’s come to relieve him.”
Scully knew the Bureau hadn’t sanctioned a guard for her, other than to appease Mulder to get him to give a statement. And she certainly hadn’t requested it. She shook her head slightly. “I appreciate his concern. Now, could you give me AD Skinner’s condition? He’s in ICU and was brought in with me.”
The nurse’s face betrayed her before she spoke. “He’s taken a down turn. They’ve rushed him back into surgery.”
Scully straightened up, “I’ll be upstairs.”
“Dr. Scully, you are a patient here. You’re not supposed to go - “
“I’ll be good.” She didn’t wait for any more, glancing at Mulder and deciding not to disturb him.
The elevator doors had barely closed when he stirred, as though her absence from the floor had awakened him. He rose and stretched, then peeked into her room. When he saw she wasn’t her in bed he stepped inside and saw that the door to the bath was wide open. That sent him back out into the hall and toward the nurses’ station.
“We know.” The older nurse spoke before he could. “She’s gone back upstairs to check on Mr. Skinner.”
“Has there been a change?”
She nodded, “He’s in surgery again.” That didn’t sound good. He decided to bypass the elevator and took the stairs two at a time. She was in the surgical waiting room, pacing.
“Why didn’t you wake me?” He whispered, more from the dimmed lights than having anyone around to be disturbed.
“Why didn’t you go home?” She countered.
“Unknown people are trying to get to you and McLean didn’t think it necessary to post a guard. I won’t repeat our conversation, but I’m here.”
She sighed then and shook her head ever so slightly, but her hand was on the material of his t-shirt, squeezing his arm.
“Scully, come back to your room. You can’t do anything here and you should be resting.”
“I feel the need to be closer. He’s not doing well and it’s because of me. I need to . . . “
He gave in, leading her to the little leatherette couch. “At least lie down.”
“There’s no pillow.”
His own eyebrow rose at that comment, and he sat her on the couch. “Here, put your head on my leg.” After a slight hesitation she complied, much to his surprise, and scrunched in next to him. “Comfy?”
“Very. Wake me if there’s any word. Mulder, I’m serious.”
“I will. Rest.” She seemed to drop off fairly quickly with him beside her, and when she was breathing steadily, he arranged the second gown to cover her better.
He couldn’t stop himself from brushing the hair from her face, and he found he had left his hand slightly entangled in it. Once again she’d almost been taken from him. He owed Skinner, more than he could repay.
He was deep in thought and didn’t hear the nurse approach. “Mr. Scully?” She was looking at the woman asleep in his lap, and obviously recognized her.
That brought his head around. “Uh, no Mulder. Do you have word on AD Skinner?”
“He’s been taken to recovery. The surgeon will be out to speak to you shortly.” Mulder nodded and though he hated to disturb her, leaned down to whisper in her ear.
“Scully? Scully, wake up.”
“Um, what?” She burrowed her head further into his thigh for an instant, then seemed to realize where she was. He helped her to a seated position. “Skinner?”
“He’s in recovery. Someone is supposed to be out to talk to us.” She nodded and tried to stretch, wincing at the movement. He immediately had his hands on her shoulders, massaging the kinks out of them.
She rotated her head, giving him more access and practically purring at the feel of his fingers. The sound was profoundly moving and he found himself glad she no longer had her head in his lap. He rose when the doors opened lifting her to her feet as he did so.
“Agents?” The surgeon motioned them both to sit when they nodded. “How did you get up here?” He looked Scully over, she was obviously a patient.
She ignored him, “AD Skinner, how is he?”
“His condition is grave. At the angle he took the bullet, it did a lot of damage. I hope I won’t have to go in again, but we’re going to be keeping a very close eye on him.” Her own eyes closed and Mulder felt her lean slightly against him before straightening up.
Mulder thought for an instant that she was going to exchange credentials, but instead she looked up at the doctor again. “Can I see him?”
“He’s in recovery.”
“Just for a second, so that he knows I’m here.”
The doctor’s eyes narrowed, “Will you go back to your own room then?”
She smiled slightly and nodded. “Okay, for two minutes only.”
They still refused to let him in, but he watched her through the glass. She had his hand again and leaned down to whisper in his ear. She hadn’t kissed him, at least he didn’t think she had, but from this angle he wasn’t completely sure.
He refused to admit how much such an action bothered him. He made no comment when she emerged, just escorting her back to her own room once again.
“Mulder, I’ll be fine. Why don’t you go on home? It was a stressful day for you too.”
He nodded at that. “No, until I can get McLean’s head out of his . . . until I can get you some protection, you’re stuck with me.”
“Well at least use the recliner in here. It will be a lot more comfortable than that little chair.”
“You wouldn’t mind?” He glanced at the larger chair.
“No. And this way if you start snoring I’m close enough to throw something at you.”
He grinned, but after he got her in bed, settled himself in the recliner and was actually asleep before she was. His quiet even breathing was more stimulating than she had anticipated.
The nurse woke them both the next morning and threw him out while she did her early morning tests. When he returned, he heard them discussing Skinner’s condition. She was extremely worried about him. That was as it should be. He shoved it aside once more.
doctor released her when he made his rounds and after dressing herself in some borrowed
scrubs, and taking back her own badge and gun, her first stop was again Skinner’s
room. Even Mulder was subdued at the number
of lines and wires monitoring his body.
After a few minutes he touched her arm. “Scully, let me take you on home.”
She looked up at him, anguish clear in her eyes. “How can I leave Mulder? He’s not out of the woods. Look, they need you at the office. Why don’t you check in, see what they’ve discovered. I can get home myself later.”
“No way. You’re not leaving here on your own.”
“Okay, then come back and get me. But I can’t leave now. Please.”
Had she been this way with Skinner when he had been injured? Of course she had, he shook that off. He was being ridiculous. “I’ll check with you in an hour.”
“You can’t get anything done in that time Mulder. Call me at lunch. Maybe you can bring me something more edible than this morning’s breakfast.”
He pursed his lips, not happy with the arrangement, but at least here in ICU she’d be surrounded by others. Finally he nodded; at least she’d agreed not to go off on her own and she was armed.
She turned back to Skinner and he let himself out. His mood seemed to plummet leaving her behind like that and he was ready to take them all on when he arrived at the office.
Their narrow thinking had him ready to climb the walls. It hadn’t occurred to them to check non-criminal databases for matches and they hadn’t placed a rush on the DNA. Did they not want to find out who this guy was? Fortunately his own friends had friends in low places and could get this kind of information even when the powers that be wanted it quashed.
McLean was too by the book, he didn’t appreciate Mulder’s input and resisted every word out of his mouth, but had to shut up when Mulder handed him the match from the military database.
This wasn’t some little disgruntled private either; this was a high ranking, delta-force man used to infiltrating hostile areas. If anyone was going to get into the FBI building to do this . . . Mulder sat back and watched the buzz around him. They weren’t happy that he’d found this information. They were even less happy because they suspected outsiders hacking into sensitive systems, but he wasn’t talking - yet anyway, and calling up a second taskforce would look like stonewalling.
He heard the term “Spooky” more than once, but let it go. They couldn’t dispute the evidence this time. He’d learned over the years how fast things could disappear. If this did as well, these men and women flitting around might not come forward, but they would know.
Besides, this was personal. Aim at Scully, call down the wrath of Mulder.
He stood, "Listen, you have information, leads to follow, do it or not. It probably won't do any good anyway. Anyone who could get a man like this one to assassinate a federal agent isn't someone we could prosecute. I learned that a long time ago. I have better things to do with my time." He was out the door, but he could hear the buzz. He shook his head and headed for his car.
Of course she was beside him. He'd expected no different. "Scully?" He spoke quietly and she looked up at him. She looked tired. "How is he?"
She started to stand and he had hold of her arm. She smiled her gratitude. They stepped outside and he led her to the waiting room. She sank onto the small couch. "He was awake a little while ago, but he was in so much pain, they had to put him back out. We don't know yet if he's going to live."
"Scully, you have to believe he's going to be okay. And you absolutely have to look after yourself now. You're exhausted, I can see it in your eyes. You won't be any help to him if you collapse."
"I'm not going to collapse. What have you find out about the shooter?"
He brought her up to date on the information he had given the team at the Bureau. She was a lot more accepting; after all, she'd spent more time with him.
"So a delta forces man tried to kill Skinner."
"No, Scully. The man tried to kill you. Skinner got in the way."
"You can't be sure of that, Mulder."
"At that distance he wouldn't have missed. Skinner was shot when he pulled you behind him."
"So there's no doubt he saved my life." She was staring at her hands now.
"No, there's not. I owe him a lot." She glanced up and gave him a little smile. "Come on, let me take you home." She shook her head. "Scully, you're not talking me out of this. You are going home, you're going to eat, shower and then rest. If I have to pull some bad cop routine to force it, I will."
"Look, I appreciate your concern, but - "
"My concern? Scully, this is a lot more than just concern. You were nearly killed yesterday. I'm taking you home." He stood then and held out his hand.
He was right. She was tired, not collapsing tired, but bone weary. She couldn't do Walter any good if she couldn't function. She closed her eyes for a moment and nodded. He smiled and when she opened her eyes helped her to her feet.
He kept his hand on her and led her to his car. He also walked her to her door, but she refused further attentions. "I'm okay Mulder. I'm taking your advice. Shower, snack, and nap. Go on. You didn't sleep that well last night either."
"I don't like leaving you here alone."
"I've got my gun. I'll lock up after you."
"Will you call me if you need anything?" He was still reluctant to actually go.
"Who else would I call? Go on."
"Okay. I'll see you in the morning. Get some rest."
He seriously thought about calling to check on her even before he made it home. Only the possibility of waking her stopped him.
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Mulder, Scully, the Lone Gunmen and Skinner all belong to Chris Carter, 10-13 and Fox. No infringement in tended