He’d been . . . twitchy all day, not really meeting her eyes. She knew how he felt about their ‘assignment’ but something else was wrong today. She was getting ready to demand answers when the phone rang.
“Scully,” she said quickly, still watching him.
“I need to speak to Fox.”
Scully’s face went blank at the voice. “Just a minute.” She stabbed the hold button and turned to Mulder. “It’s for you, Diana.”
Her brow furrowed as she noted the look of pure panic on his face.
“Uh, tell her I’ll call her later.”
Scully didn’t react for a moment. “You want me to take a message?” The sarcasm was deep.
“Just, uh, I can’t talk to her now. Please?”
She huffed a breath out, then picked up the phone, wondering at herself as she did so. “He’ll have to get back to you,” she said curtly into the phone.
There was a hesitation. “Fine, tell him I’ll see him again tonight.” Diana broke the connection.
See him again tonight? What the hell did that mean? She turned to ask, but Mulder was on his feet.
“Uh, I guess. The cart is - “
“No, let’s get out of here.”
Damn he was nervous as a cat. What the hell was going on? She looked up at him, but he was already moving toward the elevator. She hurried to catch up. He held the elevator door, but he wasn’t in her space like he normally was. She was watching him, but he wouldn’t meet her eyes again.
On the street his hand touched her lower back but immediately he pulled it back. She kept quiet for now, but she was damn well going to find out what was bothering him.
He pointed to the food court at the post office, but it wasn’t really a question. She had to hurry to keep up with him. She chose a different station than him, then joined him at a table for two. She didn’t say anything, opening her bottle of water. He was concentrating on his cheeseburger.
She poured her dressing over the small salad and took a bite. She watched him carefully as she chewed. “What’s up with you today?”
He seemed to choke for an instant. “Wha - “
“You don’t want to take a call from Diana?”
“Scully, I - “
“She said she’d see you again tonight. I didn’t know you saw her yesterday.”
He paled and she felt her whole body tighten.
“Mulder, what’s going on?”
“Listen, I, uh, I did see her last night.”
“An X-File?” She amazed herself, her voice was steady.
“It, Scully, I . . . it didn’t mean anything,” he blurted out. “You have to believe me. I don’t even know what happened. I’m not going to - “
Now it was her that paled. Didn’t mean anything? What didn’t mean . . .”Oh god. Oh god!” She was on her feet now, her chair nearly tipping over at her sudden move.
“Scully, no - “ He reached for her but she backed away, her eyes wide and horror- filled. Her lips moved, but no sound emerged, then she was moving away. She had to get away.
He watched her go, too frightened to move. After a very long time, he rose on trembling legs and cleaned their table. Then he turned back toward the Hoover Building.
Now she was at her apartment. She had no clear memory of the drive home, but the numbness was wearing off and the pain and fury growing.
It didn’t mean anything? With Diana! She sat down hard on the sofa, trying to cool off and regain some composure.
The knock on the door caused her to jump but she didn’t rise. “Scully, we need to talk,” he called through the door.
She remained seated. “Go away,” she responded, not even looking in that direction.
How could he come here? She didn’t want to see him. She didn’t want to see anyone. She hadn’t known he could hurt her this badly.
“I don’t want to talk to you.”
“Scully, I’m not leaving until you do,” he sounded adamant.
She still hesitated, but he wouldn’t leave, she knew that much about the man. She levered herself up, took a deep breath and approached the door. She opened it but just looked at him.
“May I come in?” At least he hadn’t just walked in.
She still didn’t speak, but after a moment she moved aside, not offering any welcome.
“You wanted to talk. Talk.”
“I’m sorry. Scully, I-I made a mistake.”
“Yes, you did.”
He swallowed hard at the ice in her tone. “Please, forgive me.”
He made an involuntary step toward her. “Scully?” Had she really said that to him?
“You thought I betrayed you by not blindly following in your lead and validating everything with no proof, so you betrayed me,” she spoke flatly, without emotion. “You said you needed me, that I completed you. You lied. Are we through?”
“No. Scully, please, it’s the truth. You do complete me. Don’t you understand, I was, I was messed up. The X-Files were closed and I was, I was lost. She doesn’t mean anything to me. It didn’t mean anything.”
“It did to me.” Her eyes met his then and the distance, the remoteness, stunned him. She’d never looked at him like that, not even in the beginning. It scared him on a level he hadn’t experienced in a very long time. His hand took hold of the back of the couch, his knees were actually weak. His mouth moved, but no sound emerged.
“I want you to go now.” She sounded so cold, so final.
“Scully.” He reached for her and she jerked back.
“Don’t touch me.” Her voice was cold, dead. “You fucked Diana Fowley.”
His eyes widened. “Please, Scully, I don’t care about her. She knows that, she knows you’re - “
“I want you gone.” She didn’t even seem angry now, just icy. He actually shivered.
“There’s nowhere I want to - ”
“Go back to your black haired cunt.” Her voice was rising as her control slipped.
He was rocked. Scully never talked like that. He hadn’t realized how badly he’d messed up until he saw the cold had been replaced with pure fury in her eyes.
“You fucked her! You fucked Diana Fowley! Get out! Get out of my apartment. Now!”
“Scully - “
“Get out or I’ll call the police.” She grabbed up the phone and swung the door open. For an instant he thought she was going to strike him, but instead she screamed. “Get out!”
He didn’t know if he was able to walk or if he was going to throw up first. He managed to make it to the door but just outside he hesitated. She slammed the door, actually hitting him. He had to grab the door jamb to stay upright. Time, he needed to give her some time, then she’d calm down. She would calm down; Scully knew that she was the only person he trusted, the only person that truly mattered to him.
Yes, he had slept with Diana. He had no excuse; he wasn’t some hormonal teenager. Normally Diana’s ‘charms’ wouldn’t sway him. And he wasn’t interested in her as a woman or anything else. He’d been off balance by his argument with Scully. No excuse, true, but he wasn’t any good without Scully. She had to know that.
He realized he was still standing in her hall and after a couple of deep breaths, he forced himself to move toward his car. In a couple of minutes he was able to start the engine and pull out. He resisted the urge to look back at her window, afraid of what he might see there.
He didn’t sleep that night. Closing his eyes kept bringing back the sight of Scully, in all her fury, glaring at him. He’d never felt so cold or alone, not even when Samantha was taken. He hadn’t realized then what he was missing. He knew now, with Scully, he was missing his soul.
She wasn’t in the bull pen the next morning. He glanced at his watch. He was early since he hadn’t slept. She’d be here, he clung to that thought as though it was a life saver. He booted up his computer automatically, unable to concentrate. His phone rang and he grabbed it before the first ring ended.
“Get up here, now.” The phone went dead in his ear.
Skinner? Now what? He pushed himself back from the desk and looked around. Scully still wasn’t there. With shoulders slumped he headed for the elevator.
Kim was on the phone, but motioned for him to go on in. Mulder tapped on the door and opened it.
Skinner motioned for him to come on in. Mulder stood behind his regular chair. “What the hell did you do now?” Skinner barked at him.
“Excuse me?” He didn’t even report to the man anymore.
“I got a call from Scully last night, demanding that I get her reassigned, immediately.”
“What?” Mulder’s face paled as he stepped toward the desk. He had thought he was as low as he could get, just goes to show you . . .
“She said if she isn’t reassigned, effective immediately, she would tender her resignation.”
“What, what did you do?” Mulder’s chest was tight, too tight to get a breath.
“I’ve got her heading over to Quantico this afternoon. I don’t want to lose a good agent. Now tell me what happened.”
Mulder didn’t answer, sinking into the chair. After a long moment he spoke, looking down at his hands. “I . . . I messed up.”
“I got that, Mulder. What did you do?”
Skinner’s eyes narrowed. The younger man did not look good, in fact now that he looked at Mulder, he wasn’t put together like he usually was. The suit was rumpled, his shave wasn’t close. “Mulder?”
“I need to go.” His eyes were unfocused and he sounded far away.
“You’re not going anywhere.” Something about him disturbed Skinner, something besides his appearance. It was his demeanor. He was not . . . okay.
Mulder didn’t seem to hear him and started to rise.
“No, Mulder, you’re not leaving. Give me your keys.”
The man looked like he was going to collapse. What the hell had happened? These two were close, good partners. Hell, with all the rumors about them, their partnership was the only thing Skinner hadn’t worried about. What could Mulder have done to cause the white hot fury he had heard in Scully’s voice?
“And your guns, Mulder.” He decided quickly, looking at him closely. What he saw actually scared him. “Give me your keys and your gun. Now.”
Mulder didn’t move, so Skinner came around the desk and took it from him. There was no resistance. He wasn’t even sure Mulder had heard him or was aware of him now.
“Wait here, Mulder.” The words were unnecessary; he didn’t seem to be in there. Skinner moved toward the door and opened it. “Kim, find Agent Scully, now.” He shut the door and turned to watch Mulder. He hadn’t moved, he didn’t even seem to know Skinner was still in the room.
Scully arrived about ten minutes later, and was not happy.
“Kim, may we use your office?” Skinner motioned toward the door.
“Of course.” Kim rose quickly, a worried look on her face, but she kept quiet. She heard Skinner lock the door behind her.
“I don’t have much time. I was getting ready to leave for Quantico.” Her tone was insubordinate, but he let it pass. He had bigger worries right now.
“Something’s wrong.” Skinner looked toward the door of his office. “I need to know why you want the transfer.”
“It’s personal. It’s a personal decision.”
“Did you and Mulder have a, a disagreement?”
“That’s none of your business.” She blinked, that’s not the kind of thing she had ever said to a supervisor.
Skinner seemed to rear back for an instant and she knew he was going to reprimand her, but instead he looked back at his office door once more. “Did Mulder hurt you?”
No, he just ripped out my heart and every ounce of trust I’ve ever had, she thought. “What do you mean?” Her back was stiff.
Skinner sighed. “Mulder’s in my office. He’s not okay.”
Scully just looked at him, not offering any comment.
“Scully, I mean, he’s not okay.”
After a moment she looked away. “I’m sure he’ll be fine.”
“I’m not. I took his gun.”
That caught her attention. “Why did you do that?”
“I, I wasn’t sure he’d be safe.”
“Safe?” she questioned.
“I was afraid he would injure himself,” Skinner said carefully.
She absorbed that in silence.
“Scully - “
“Why don’t you call Agent Fowley? I’m sure she can help you with the situation.”
“Agent Fow . . . Scully, you’re not hearing me. I think the man is suicidal.”
“I believe you’re overstating the situation.”
Skinner stared down at her for a moment, then moved to his office. He opened the door and looked inside. He started when he saw that Mulder was no longer in the chair. He shoved the door open and looked quickly around the room. He was unaware that Scully had moved behind him in spite of herself.
Skinner moved into the room quietly, taking in his surroundings. He finally spotted Mulder sitting on the floor on the far side of the couch. Skinner approached him cautiously. “Mulder? Can you hear me?”
For a long moment there was no response. Then Mulder looked up. “I didn’t hurt her. I don’t know where she is.”
“Mulder?” Skinner squatted in front of him.
“There was a light. I couldn’t move. I tried, I swear, but . . .”
“A light, I see. Uh, how old are you, Mu-Fox?”
“I was twelve last month. I’ve kept her lots of times. I don’t know what happened, honest!”
“I believe you, Fox. My name is Walter Skinner; why don’t you get up and sit here on my couch. I need to speak with my friend here, but I’ll be right back.”
Mulder nodded and scrambled to his feet. He took a seat on the couch and sat quietly, his expression scared.
Skinner turned toward Scully, to find her staring horrified at her former partner. He moved toward her and took her arm, leading her to the far side of the office. “Okay, Agent, I need to know what the hell happened. The man’s had some sort of a breakdown. He thinks Samantha was just taken.”
Scully just stared at him.
“We have to get him out of here. Do you have a key to his car?”
“Okay. I’m going to take him to my car. I want you to follow in his. We’ll go to my apartment. When we get there, I want some answers.” He spoke quietly, but the Marine steel was behind it.
He walked away from her then, returning to Mulder. “Fox, we need to go somewhere now. Will you come with me?”
The man, looking more like a boy each moment, nodded and stood up. “We’re going to my car, Fox.”
Skinner held the door open and, after a quick glance back at Scully to ensure that she was following, he moved to the elevator. Scully entered the elevator with them but didn’t look at them.
Skinner motioned to his car and Mulder followed. Mulder smiled slightly when the door locks were disengaged with a click and he let himself into the front passenger’s seat.
They were both quiet on the drive. Skinner didn’t know what kind of questions to ask, so he decided to wait until they were safely in his apartment and Scully was with them. She knew Mulder better than anyone. Whatever had happened, she would be the one that could reach him.
Skinner pulled into the garage of his building and led Mulder upstairs. Scully would have to find a place to park, but it shouldn’t take long. “Would you like something to drink, Fox? I have Coke and orange juice.”
“A Coke would be nice.”
“Okay, have a seat. I’ll be right back.”
Scully still wasn’t there when he returned with a can of Coke and glass full of ice. “Here you go.”
Mulder took it, but didn’t pour. Instead he looked around the apartment. “Why are we here?”
“I thought we should discuss this situation away from the, the station. You are not a suspect in your sister’s disappearance.”
Mulder visibly relaxed at those words. The knock on the door drew their attention and Skinner answered it. Scully hesitated, then stepped inside. “Is he . . . “
“Fox,” Skinner interrupted, “I need to speak to Agent S-, to this agent. We’ll be right back.”
Mulder nodded and turned to pour his drink.
Skinner led Scully into the kitchen. “He’s still out of it. He thinks he’s a twelve year old boy and just relieved that I don’t think he harmed his sister. He hasn’t even asked about his parents.”
“I doubt he does. His parents weren’t exactly supportive.”
“What do you mean?”
“He’s never spoken of it directly. I believe that his father was abusive, if not physically then emotionally. His mother was distant and, and took medication.”
Skinner’s brow furrowed. “Are you saying that Samantha was his only real family?”
Scully blinked, “I, I suppose I am.”
“No wonder he’s continued the search for her for so long. Without her he was . . . abandoned.”
Scully stepped back away from Skinner at those words. “A-abandoned?”
“Well, at the young age of twelve, you’re saying he basically lost his whole family. I knew his parents were divorced.”
She nodded. “When he was fourteen.”
“Why did you request the transfer?”
“I . . . I - “ The sudden change startled her. She wasn’t ready for this. “Something happened that, that I . . . “
“Scully, I realize you’ve having a problem talking to me about this, but I also know how close you and Mulder are. Please, we have to help him and we have to do it without Kersh finding out. Do you understand me?”
Scully stiffened her spine and looked Skinner directly in the eye. “Agent Mulder slept with Agent Fowley.”
Skinner stepped back, rocked to the core by her words. He looked back toward the living room where the boy/man sat, then he turned back to Scully. “I’m sorry.”
She just shook her head, but made no response.
After a moment, Skinner returned to the living room, leaving her alone in the kitchen. Maybe she wasn’t going to be the most help. At least he could understand the fury he had heard in her voice now.
He took a seat beside Mulder, who turned to him expectantly.
“I want to assure you that my best agents are looking for your sister. They will be on the case until we find her,” Skinner said quietly.
“Why don’t you tell us what you remember?” Scully spoke from behind Skinner and he turned to look at her. She wouldn’t face him, watching Mulder instead.
“That’s the problem!” the boy said anxiously. “I don’t remember! I never forget anything, but I can’t - “
“Calm down, Fox,” Skinner touched his arm. “Just tell us what you do remember.”
Fox looked down and obviously tried to relax. “We were watching TV and, and arguing a little. Nothing big, honest.” Skinner nodded for him to continue. “The lights went out and I, I acted like it was her fault. Then, then she started screaming my name. I don’t . . . I don’t know what happened.”
“Your parents weren’t there?”
“No, they were next door playing cards with the Galbrands'. They go over there a lot and leave her with me.”
“They trust you with her,” Skinner offered.
“Not any more. They’ll never trust me again. You have to find her.” He seemed to deflate at that and his shoulders drooped.
“Looks like you haven’t gotten much sleep lately. Why don’t you take a little nap now while we work? You can use the guest room or - “
“I can just rest my eyes here for a minute.” Fox responded, looking down at the couch.
“Okay. We’ll be in the next room.” Skinner rose then and motioned for Scully to follow him back into the kitchen. After a long last look at Mulder, who was already sinking into sleep, she turned away and moved toward the kitchen.
Skinner had his back to her, looking inside his refrigerator. “I have oj, beer and water. I know it’s early in the day, but I’m going to have a beer. What about you?”
“Uh, a beer would be fine.” She wanted a stiff drink or three, but it wouldn’t help right now.
Skinner only nodded to himself and pulled out two bottles. He opened them both, then motioned for her to have a seat at the table. He sat across from her and took a long pull on his beer.
She was startled out of her thoughts when Skinner abruptly started talking. “I know this is just my opinion and my insight into Mulder’s ‘charm’ is limited, but I think he wouldn’t have a lot of trouble getting a woman in his bed. I’m basing that on the way he looks and the way he dresses. He’s not my type, but Kim seems to appreciate looking at him.” He grinned, though Scully looked more uncomfortable than ever.
“But I don’t think that’s what happened.”
She looked up for an instant, then away as Skinner continued. “This is off the record, but knowing Agent Fowley, I’ve got to say whatever happened was instigated by her. Diana is an extremely intelligent woman. She knows it; she also knows how to climb the ladder, using her back.”
Scully’s head flew up then, stunned at his words. He didn’t look over at her, taking another drink from his beer.
“Mulder’s been dissatisfied. I knew it, you knew it; she had to know it. He’s lost the X-Files. If he was also on the outs with you . . . well, she would know that as well. And believe me, if she saw a hint of vulnerability, she’d pounce on it. She could use him, to hurt you. In case you’re unaware of it, she doesn’t like you. She’s seen what you mean to him.”
“What I mean . . . “
“Scully, don’t. You know what you mean to Mulder. The man has the social skills of a doorknob most of the time. Yes, he could get a date if he tried; he doesn’t try. He’s with you. He has been for years. I don’t know what your relationship is and I’m not asking, but if he felt he had lost you . . .” Skinner looked back over at the man sleeping on his couch and shrugged. He didn’t say anything else.
She looked up to see him staring at her. Embarrassed at being caught, he looked down blushing. “Mu-Fox, what is it?”
“Nothing,” he murmured not facing her.
“No, really, what is it?
“You’re, you’re pretty.”
Scully blinked at that. “Th-thank you.”
“I like your hair.”
Scully self-consciously tucked her hair behind her ear. “I - thanks.”
“Of course I like brown hair too, like my sister. She has really long dark hair that she wears in braids.”
Scully nodded. “I’ve seen pictures of Samantha. She’s a very pretty little girl.”
Mulder nodded, his smile gone. “My mom’s pretty too. She’s tall, taller than you and she has long dark hair. She wears it up a lot of the time, in a, a - “
“A French twist?” Scully offered.
“Yeah, and sometimes a bun.” His smile faded. “Do you think she’ll ever . . . “
“Do you think she’ll ever forgive me, for not protecting . . .” his eyes dropped.
“Fox, your mother doesn’t blame you.”
He just looked at her then, clearly not believing her words. “She doesn’t talk to me anymore.”
“She’s upset, Fox.”
“I know. She loves Samantha. Samantha’s her only daughter.” He shrugged.
“And you’re her only son.”
Mulder just looked away for a long moment. “Are you helping look for her, for Samantha?”
“Yes. I’ve been looking for her,” Scully said carefully.
“It’s my fault.”
“Fox, I don’t believe you are responsible. Why do you say that?”
“My, my Dad. The way he looks at me. He thinks it’s my fault. Mom won’t even come near me. When the police came she couldn’t even stay in the same room with me.”
“Fox,” she stumbled slightly over the name. “I believe you did everything you could to protect your sister. We have some . . . suspects and no one person, even one as responsible and mature as you, could have kept them from taking her.”
“You know who - “
“We have some ideas. Things you’ve told us have helped.”
He looked confused. “I didn’t tell you anything.”
She smiled slightly. “You told us more than you realize.”
He was watching her again. “What is it, Fox?”
“I don’t know, I just thought all G-men were, well, men.”
She chuckled at that. She could see the boy behind the man clearly now, as though the damage done to him was all in the future, not yet etched on his face. “No, there are female agents at the FBI.”
He nodded, slightly abashed. “You’ll find her.”
“What?” she asked startled.
“I don’t know, it just feels like you’ll be the one to find her.”
Before she could speak, she saw Skinner motion to her from behind Mulder’s back, to join him in the kitchen. She smiled at Mulder. “I’ll be right back.”
His eyes followed her, but he made no comment as she disappeared into the kitchen.
“Did you hear him? He thinks I can find Samantha.”
Skinner nodded. “Or save him.”
Skinner ignored that. “It sounded like his mother resembled Diana, didn’t it?”
Scully looked up, startled.
“He doesn’t think his
mother loves him and he wants to win that back.
Her eyes narrowed. “I don’t remember you earning your psychology degree.”
“Okay, I’m not the psychologist, but you can’t tell me you didn’t catch what he said.“
“Don’t - “ she interrupted immediately.
“Scully, look at him. He’s already bonding with you.”
“I can’t. I know he’s traumatized, but he hurt me, what he did - “ she stopped as Skinner’s head came up. Mulder had joined them in the kitchen, his expression concerned.
“Excuse me.” Skinner left them alone again, despite the look Scully shot him.
“Are you okay?”
“Of course, I’m fine,” Scully said, wrapping her composure around her. That question had sounded more like Mulder. It was as though the boy felt responsible for her somehow.
“What did he do?”
Scully met his eyes, confused. “Skinner?”
“No, the man that hurt you,” he asked quietly.
“What, what are you talking about?” She tried to look away, but his hand came out, not quite touching her.
“’He hurt me’, you just said that to Mr. Skinner. Was he your boyfriend?”
“I . . . He’s a special friend, someone I trusted.”
“You can’t trust him anymore?”
“Fox, I can’t - “
“Did he cheat on you?”
“Why do you ask that?”
“I . . . nevermind. I’m sorry he hurt you. He sounds kinda stupid.”
She blinked at that. “He’s not stupid, maybe . . . maybe he’s naďve about women.”
”Are you going to forgive him?”
She seemed to deflate then, and turned away, not speaking. She moved toward the living room, but he didn’t follow her. At the door she looked back to see him rubbing his forehead, his eyes closed.
“Fox? Are you okay?”
“I have a headache.”
Concerned, she returned to his side. “Let me get you some aspirin.” He didn’t protest. The Mulder she knew would, it must be worse than he wanted to admit.
She found some aspirin in Skinner’s medicine cabinet and brought them to Mulder, along with a glass of water. She watched him take the medicine, then took the glass he handed her.
“When am I going home?”
Scully opened her mouth, but before she could speak, Skinner joined them. “I’d like you to stay here tonight.”
“I think it would be for the best.”
Mulder seemed to deflate; his life had been out of control for so long. He nodded and moved back to the living room.
Scully looked at Skinner but refrained from comment. She turned back to the kitchen and put the glass in the dishwasher. When she returned to the larger room, Mulder looked up immediately. “Are, are you leaving?”
“No, I don’t have to go right now.”
He relaxed then and turned back to the television. Skinner had turned it to an old movie. After a moment, Scully joined them.
After a while Skinner ordered a pizza, Mulder’s favorite though it was Scully who suggested it. She saw his eyes smile and follow her into the kitchen to get them drinks.
It wasn’t long after that when Mulder began yawning. Scully turned to him. “You should go on to bed, Fox. It’s been a long day.”
“You’re leaving,” he said softly.
“No, no I don’t have to leave now.”
Skinner quietly picked up the remainders of their dinner and headed for the kitchen, leaving them alone.
“It’s okay. I’m not a kid anymore. I don’t need someone to tuck me in or anything.”
“I know that. Skinner and I still have a little work to do. Go on, get ready for bed. I won’t leave without telling you.”
He looked deep into her eyes, then nodded. He headed for the guest room without looking back. She joined Skinner.
“Scully, you can go on. I think he’ll be okay once he gets to sleep.”
She shook her head. “Not yet.” Skinner looked at her, then nodded.
When Mulder came out of the bathroom he turned into the bedroom without a word, closing the door behind him.
After a moment she knocked and at his response, opened the door. “Are you doing okay?”
“Yeah. You can go on home.”
“Do you really want me to leave?”
“What if I stayed for a little while longer?”
“You don’t have to, really.”
“I think I’d like to. Maybe just until you fall asleep?”
The look of gratitude was quickly hidden. He just nodded and settled in the bed. She moved closer then, straightening the covers and brushing the hair back out of his face. She sat on the side of the bed, watching him.
“Thanks.” His eyes seemed to devour her. Mulder had never looked at her so blatantly before. His mind might be twelve years old right now, but there was a man there as well. She forced herself not to retreat, leaving her hand on his hair.
“Close your eyes, Fox. You’re safe here.”
“Safe, that would be nice.” But he obeyed her, closing his eyes and seeming to move into her hand.
She was a little surprised at how quickly he fell asleep. She remained for a while, assuring herself he wasn’t faking it and then carefully rose from the bed and returned to the living room.
Skinner had completed cleaning up and was at his desk, working on-line. He looked over at her. “Is he asleep?”
“He was exhausted.”
“You look like you are too. Did you sleep any last night?”
She sank onto the couch. “I don’t know what to do.”
“You can head on home.”
“No, I mean . . . “ she shook her head. “Did I cause this breakdown?”
“You can’t give him a bye; he holds a lot of the responsibility. He should know better than to let a woman, any woman, use him. He is an adult.”
Scully glanced toward the bedroom, then back at him, her eyebrow rising.
Skinner smiled. “Okay, technically he’s an adult.”
“I didn’t realize.”
“What? How important you are to him?” He watched the color rise on her cheeks, but she wouldn’t look at him. He allowed her silence and after a moment returned to the computer screen.
They both jumped violently when he screamed. “Scully! Scullee!” She was on her feet racing back to the bedroom, Skinner only a couple of steps behind her.
“I’m here, Mulder, I’m here.” She resumed her seat beside him, but she realized he was still asleep.
She woke to find herself in his arms. He was watching her anxiously. “Scully?”
She breathed a sigh of relief. He was Mulder again. “Morning. How are you feeling?”
“I’m not sure.”
“What do you remember?”
“I remember you were . . . furious.”
He looked around the room, not releasing her. “Where are we?”
“Skinner’s guest room.”
His grip loosened in shock and he gaped at her. “Walter Skinner?”
She nodded again. He just stared at her.
“What’s your relationship with Diana Fowley?” she asked quietly.
He shuddered and she saw a look of . . . of loathing came over his face before he could hide it. “She tried to destroy the only good thing in my life.” He looked her in the eyes. “Did she?”
“I’m here, aren’t I?”
“I’m a fool. Can I ever . . . can you forgive me?”
“We need to talk.”
He nodded slowly. He didn’t know what had happened; how the hell they had ended up in bed in Skinner’s apartment. But she was in his arms; she was willing to talk to him. Maybe, just maybe life wasn’t over.
Links to other sites on the Web
Mulder, Scully, the Lone Gunman and Skinner all belong to Chris Carter, 10-13 and Fox. No infringement intended.