She should never have left. Not while things were this bad between them. Of course he hadn’t wanted her to stay. He could have asked her, given her some signal. Had the guys stayed? She didn’t think so; he obviously wanted to be alone.
He was furious with her. No, no that wasn’t it, not fury. Hurt. She had hurt him badly with her actions. He felt betrayed by her. That was never her intention. Surely he knew that, knew her that well.
She felt cut off from him, severed like an artery. She could feel it hemorrhaging in her chest. She had to talk to him, explain and make him hear that she had gone only for the information, not because she could ever trust this other man.
Why had she left his apartment? Because he had driven her out, with his silence and his pain. He hadn’t even been able to look her in the eye when the disk had come up blank. It was what he had expected.
She needed to hear his voice, needed it more than she could ever remember in the past. She couldn’t allow any more of their relationship to hemorrhage away. The phone was in her hand and after a deep breath; she pressed the 1 on her speed dial.
“This is Fox Mulder. I’m not here. Leave a message.”
She hung up immediately. Was he there? Was he screening? Was this his way of telling her he didn’t want to speak to her? No, it was unacceptable. He knew her better than this. Hadn’t he calmed down enough to at least listen to her now? She pressed 1 again.
“This is Fox Mulder. I’m not here. Leave a message.”
“Mulder, please pick up. If you’re there, please. I need to talk to you.” Silence, nothing except the tape running out and then the disconnect.
Would he do that? Would he ignore her call? Was he that angry? Hell! She grabbed up her jacket and headed for the door. He was too important, they were too important to let this grow between them. She had to make him see what she had tried to do, failed yes, but tried. He should be pleased she had reached for such an extreme possibility.
Rush hour was mostly over so the trip back to his apartment didn’t take that long. She noticed immediately that his car was nowhere to be seen. Had he gone over to the Gunmen’s apartment? No, she had humiliated him in front of them. She knew that he had thrown them out as soon as she had left herself. So where had he gone? What was he doing and with whom?
How could she just go home and forget about this? How could she let any more time go by without talking to him? Could he have headed over to her apartment? Maybe he had cooled down and wanted to talk to her as well? She shook her head, she was dreaming. She’d seen his eyes, his posture. Part of him had wanted to strangle her. The other part wanted to curl up in a corner like a wounded animal and be left alone.
That was the part she had to touch. She was the wound, or the cause for it. He was hemorrhaging too. She could wait here, but what if he didn’t come home? No, she wanted to find him. She was an FBI agent, finding a man in this city with his own car should only take . . . a week or so. Damn it! How much trouble could he have gotten into in the couple of hours since she had left him? Would he have gone back to the office? It was worth a try.
She pulled back into traffic and turned toward the office. She had only gone a few blocks when the car caught her eye. That was his car, wasn’t it? She circled back around for a better look. Yes, that was his car. He was here? In this sleazy place? Maybe he was just picking up dinner.
No, she knew immediately she was wrong. This place served no food. If he really was here it was to get drunk. She was unprepared for the fear that rose in her. He wasn’t like his father; if he was drinking it was out of pain. Oh yeah, that made her feel a lot better.
Finding parking at this place was easy. She found herself checking her weapon as she left the car. Well, she defended to herself; it wasn’t a place she would normally enter alone. Only for him.
She spotted him immediately at the bar. Before she could even approach him she heard the bartender cut him off. Had he been here long enough to get that drunk? He was arguing with the man, defending his sobriety as though it still existed.
“Mulder?” She was beside him now, her hand on his arm. He saw her in the mirror over the bar first and she saw his eyes dilate at the sight. He jerked his arm from her touch and lurched up from the barstool.
“What the fuck are you doing here? I don’t need you following me.”
“Let me take you home Mulder.”
He took another step back from her, nearly knocking over the next stool. “Why aren’t you with him? He’s the one you believe, the one you trust. Go on, go back to him.”
Her eyes widened. He didn’t believe that, it was the booze talking.
“Yeah, go off to a nice place by some lake. Enjoy yourself. He’s always wanted you; did you sleep with him Scully? Did you? You never wanted to sleep with me. Is he more your type? An older man, more experienced?”
“Mulder, please. Let’s get out of here.”
“Did you? Did you fuck him! Answer me!” Her answer was her palm connecting with his cheek. He staggered back, impacting the bar with his spine and knocking over a couple of glasses sitting there.
The blow didn’t sober him, but it did subdue him for the present. He wouldn’t face her again.
”Could someone please help me pour him into my car?” She spoke quietly, drawing her dignity around her. The other patrons of the bar who had been observing the scene ceased enjoying it and found shame growing inside of them. Several men were on their feet, taking his arms and escorting him out for her.
She thanked them quietly, buckled him in and turned her car back toward his apartment. He was asleep, passed out, before they arrived.
She managed to rouse him enough to get him out of the car and with her support made it to the apartment. She leaned him against the wall to unlock the door and then maneuvered him to the couch.
“I’m going to make you some coffee.” She left him there, no longer certain she even wanted to be here. How could he accuse her of . . .
He sat on the couch, watching her minister to him. She was making him coffee? Why was she here? He was perfectly capable of making a drunken fool out of himself without her to witness it.
She’d gone off with him, believed, hell trusted the man. Had she learned nothing over the last seven years? The man was evil. Hadn’t she witnessed enough of his destruction already? And now a final blow, destroy the partnership. Of course he was a big help to the plan there. He’d retreated from her, not even wanting to hear her side. But how could she have a side, she’d left town with Cancerman. Gone off with him, without a word to her partner. She had an explanation; she thought the information would save the world. Right, like Cancerman could be believed about something like that, hell, about anything!
He watched her return toward him now with the steaming mug in her hand. Even with the room turning like it was, she was steady. He could smell the coffee now. He felt his stomach roil and managed to make it to his feet. She looked confused for a minute, or hurt, he couldn’t tell which as he hurried past her toward the bathroom.
She sat the mug on the coffee table and closed her eyes. Sick, the man was drunk and sick. What was she supposed to do now? She closed her eyes to gather strength then let herself into the bathroom with him.
He was on the floor, his head resting on the cool porcelain. She found a washcloth and dampened it for him, then handed it to him. He took it without a word, pressing it to his eyes.
“Can you stand?”
He nodded wearily and levered himself up. She handed him his toothbrush, already loaded with toothpaste. “Why don’t you clean yourself up.”
She let herself out and headed for the bedroom. The bed was unmade, imagine that. She straightened the covers, tucking the sheets back in and then folding the covers back for him. She had already placed two aspirin and a glass of water beside the bed.
When he emerged from the bathroom he had stripped down to his boxers and was only slightly steadier on his feet. Maybe getting rid of all that alcohol would help, but the hangover was still going to be monumental tomorrow. For some reason that didn’t bother her at all.
He lowered himself gently to the bed. Why didn’t the damn room quit spinning? He spotted the aspirin. Only what little pride he had left kept him from reaching for them in front of her. He sank down onto the pillow and closed his eyes, more grateful that he could state that the mirrored canopy from the waterbed had gone out with the bed. That would have been the last straw.
He heard her leave the room and pull the door almost closed. It didn’t click but he didn’t have the energy to get up and close it. At least she would lock the door on her way out, leaving him here alone to suffer. Since she was gone it was safe to take the medicine. For a long moment he wasn’t sure it was going to stay down either, but he fought that and managed to win.
She heard him place the glass back onto the bedside table and nodded to herself. He had too much Y chromosome to admit he needed it in front of her, but he’d taken it. He’d be grateful later. She moved over to the couch, too weary to even think about driving home yet. It had been a horrible day and an even worse night. She didn’t want to think about his words to her in the bar. To accuse her . . . no, that was the alcohol talking. He hadn’t wanted her. “You never wanted to sleep with me.” Where had he gotten that idea? She shook her head, not a topic for tonight, maybe not ever.
She slipped her shoes off and curled up on the couch, pulling the afghan down over her. She’d take a little nap. If he got sick again she’d hear him, she might even keep him from choking on his own vomit if she was feeling generous.
It was comfortable here, and it smelled of Mulder. Before she could decide whether or not that was a good thing, she’d fallen asleep.
His bladder woke him far too early, but he suspected he might live. He groaned his way out of bed and stumbled to the bathroom.
Something made him glance over when he emerged and he spotted her asleep on the couch. Geez, he hadn’t even bothered to shut the door, but she hadn’t wakened. She was snuggled in and looked so comfortable, like she belonged there.
He leaned against the wall and watched her sleep. He’d been so angry with her. Watching her now, he couldn’t bring it back. His anger was gone, along with the alcohol he’d lost earlier. She was here to make sure he was okay. Just like she had tried to be there for the rest of the world, believing a totally untrustworthy being in the hopes of helping humanity. She was better than he was.
He started to straighten up and cringed as his angry words in the bar returned to him. He had accused her of that? What a fool. No more drinking, it wasn’t worth it and it didn’t get him what he needed. Only she gave him what he needed, even if he wouldn’t normally admit that even to himself.
He didn’t realize her eyes were open until she spoke. “Mulder, are you okay?”
“Yeah. Thanks for staying.”
He nodded and returned to his room as she snuggled in more comfortably. He didn’t bother to close the door.