Skinner pushed the door open. "Scully? Dana?" There was no response so he stepped inside. What the hell? Scully was lying on the table now and someone was . . . Mulder?
Mulder glanced over at him, then turned his attention back to her. "Come on Scully, come on back to me. It's okay."
She stirred and opened her eyes. "Oh my God." It was a whisper, then her arms went around his neck. His arms encompassed her as well and the sheet slipped again.
Mulder glanced over at Skinner, not releasing her. "Do you know where my clothes are?"
"The, uh, the EMTs cut them off of you when they . . . when they were trying - "
"Okay. Can you find me some scrubs or something?"
Skinner nodded and let himself out. He refused to think. Right now it wouldn't be productive. He found some greens in a drawer and returned to the room.
"Scully, let me get dressed. I'm not leaving; I'll just go over to the corner. Okay?"
She nodded, still not trusting her voice.
After he slipped on the pants, Skinner approached him as he beckoned. "We need to get her out of here. She's had a bad shock."
"She's had! Jesus, Mulder, I identified your body before I went to get her. I knew what this would do to her. You were dead."
"I believe you. I can't explain anything right now, and it isn't the time anyway."
Skinner nodded and bit down on his questions.
When Mulder was dressed, he returned to her side. "Come on, we're taking you home." He helped her down from the table and moved her toward the door.
"Mulder, we have to tell the morgue something." Skinner realized he was whispering.
"Tell them they were premature and we'll work it out tomorrow. Right now, we're out of here."
Actually there was no one around, so they headed out to Skinner's car. Skinner was a little surprised that Scully had made no protest, but he would handle this and try to keep her out of it.
Mulder sat her in the front seat of Skinner's car and climbed into the back seat directly behind her. His hand was on her shoulder immediately, he had to touch her, reassure himself that she was alive. She grasped it with her own hand and remained silent the entire trip.
When Skinner pulled up in front of Scully's apartment he put the car in park and turned to Mulder. "Do you want me to give you a ride home?"
"No. I'll be staying here tonight."
Skinner nodded but made no comment. None was needed anyway. He sat there and watched him support her inside and shook his head. He needed an in-depth explanation, which he probably would never get, but . . . After they were inside he sat watching the door. When he realized it, he sighed and put the car back in gear.
Mulder took the key from her hand and let them inside of her apartment. She still hadn't spoken.
"Scully, it's really late, why don't you get undressed and go back to bed."
Her eyebrow rose to new heights as her eyes narrowed.
"Okay, I withdraw the suggestion. Can I get you some tea?"
"What happened? Skinner would not have come over here unless - "
"Unless he was sure it was me." Mulder nodded. "I can't explain - "
He took a deep breath. "Come here, sit with me." He took the corner of the couch and sat her in the V of his legs, pulling her against him.
"What are you doing?" She turned to face him.
"I'm holding you. Please."
"What's going on Mulder? What's going on?" Her voice broke then and his hold on her tightened.
"Tell me what's been happening here."
"Just talk to me. Scully, please."
She couldn't see him, not the way he was holding her. She took a deep shuddering breath. "You changed. You weren't you."
"How was I different?"
From another man that question would have been absurd, but this was Mulder. "You . . . you were more damaged, more hurt."
He absorbed that silently, then "What did I do?"
"You drank, you drank a lot. And . . . "
"And what Scully?"
"And picked up women."
"Oh god." He closed his eyes and placed a kiss on her head. "It wasn't me Scully. You know that don't you?"
"I can't explain it, but it wasn't me."
"You didn't know me. You didn't remember that we were partners. You thought Diana was your . . . "
His arms tightened involuntarily around her.
"Mulder?" She started to turn to look at him, but she felt him shake his head and hesitated.
"Diana's dead." He said it flatly, no emotion.
"You had forgotten that." He said nothing and after a moment she spoke again, not turning to him. "Mulder?"
He was silent for another long moment. "The man you're talking about was Fox Mulder, but he wasn't me. He took over my life and . . . and I took over his."
She did turn then, "What?"
He sighed, "I don't know what happened. I don't know how it happened. I went to work on a regular day. I had no idea anything was different Scully. But when I got there, you didn't know me. Well, you knew me, but by reputation only. My reputation there."
"What was that?"
"I drank and . . . Scully it wasn't me. You . . . you weren't happy with my attentions."
She heard the humor in that statement, "What does that mean?"
"The first time, before I knew anything was wrong, I . . . I treated you like I guess I always have."
"You know." He shrugged.
"You kneed me in the balls."
"I what!" She sat up from him then and twisted to look at him.
He was smiling at the memory, which confused her. "It's okay. Well, now it is. At least I knew something was wrong almost immediately. I limped down to my office and started checking things out." He pulled her back against him. "It took me some time to work up the courage the approach you again. It was a good thing I've you all these years, because I had to really get some strong data before I tried. I kept asking myself what you would do to investigate what was happening."
Her hands came up to clasp his as they held her.
"Mulder, was Diana there?"
His grip on her became painful for an instant, then relaxed. "Yes."
"Mulder, I . . . I took you to the guys. They checked you out, the prints were yours, the DNA was yours."
"But the memories . . . they diverged around Diana."
"You . . . you talked about . . . about her?"
"We were desperate to find out what was going on. She . . . she's the one that damaged you. At least that's the way it seemed to me. When you talked about her, it was almost as though you were . . . defeated."
"I was. You said I seemed damaged. That was a good description. She . . . she was part of the conspiracy. At least over there she was. She was doing what they wanted you to do when they assigned you to me. You had too much integrity, she . . . she didn't."
She felt him shake his head. "How did he . . . how did I treat you?"
He waited through her hesitation. "You didn't have a lot of use for me. And . . . and you frightened me once."
He hugged her quickly. "What did I do?"
"I thought . . . It occured to be that you were going to rape me."
"Oh god. Scully - "
"That’s when I knew something was wrong, that somehow it wasn't you."
"Thank you." He said it softly, almost a whisper.
"I know you better than that Mulder." They sat in silence for a little while then.
“Um hum.” He kissed the top of her head softly.
“There were times, over these past few weeks when . . . when I thought you wanted to trust me, wanted to let me help you, but you couldn’t. That’s what I meant by damaged.”
"Scully, it's almost dawn. Why don't you try to sleep a little?"
"No Mulder. You have to talk to me now. What happened to you?" She pulled away from him then and faced him. "What did Diana do?"
She watched his face pale slightly and she moved back closer to him. "Mulder, what?"
"She murdered you."
Scully's eyes widened and she took hold of his hand. "What?"
"Diana found out I had gone to you, that you were helping me with the work. You were the reason the work had become legitimate. And . . . "
He looked down, "She found out that we were lovers." He expected her to pull away. When she didn't, he looked up at her.
She swallowed, "Lovers?" He nodded silently. She looked at him for a long time, then decided to change the subject. "You died here and I died there?"
"We're both alive, we're here, together. Diana is dead in both worlds."
"You . . . you killed her?"
"I would have, but no. After she shot you, we wrestled for her gun, it went off, and then she collapsed. I called an ambulance for you and they took you in. When I got there. . . when I got there they said you . . . you hadn't made it. I don't know what happened then, I guess I lost it. When I came to, you were standing over me."
His hand traced her cheek.
“How long, how long was I different?” He finally asked.
“Weeks. Long, lonely weeks. Why? How long did you think you were . . . gone?”
He nodded, “That sounds right. You didn’t come to my bed quickly there either.” He tried for humor but she could hear his pain.
They fell silent again.
She looked down at her hands, "Were we . . . were we good together?"
He blinked at that. "Yeah. Yeah we were." She nodded but didn't respond.
"I know you're tired Scully. Try to get a little rest, please."
"Would you stay?"
"Sure. I'll stretch out here and - "
"I'm not . . . I'm not asking you to have sex with me but could you hold me. I want to know it's you, that you're . . . back."
"Do you believe me Scully?"
"It's 4:30 in the morning Mulder. I can't . . . I don't have a clue what I believe, but you seem to be yourself again." A small smile appeared on her face, "and it's a good story, especially the part about us being together."
"Scully, I - "
"Come to bed Mulder. We'll talk when we're both awake. For now, just be Mulder and, and hold me for a little while longer."
He nodded and let her lead him into her room. She was right, they could discuss this later. She was alive, that was the only truly important thing. And holding her would be no hardship at all.