Mulder sighed and opened the door into the office. He was late, but no one mentioned it. He took a seat at the table and Assistant Director Dillon cleared his throat.
“Now that we’re all here, I’d like to get this meeting started.”
A stab at him, but he was used to it. He glanced around the table. He knew everyone here, at least by reputation. He dragged his attention back to the information being distributed. He hated these cases. Getting inside of the minds of these men was devastating. He wasn’t sure whether he got the assignments because he was so good at them or because no one else wanted them, so they laid it off on old Spooky.
“The man’s a sadist. He brutalizes the women prior to killing them. Agent Scully has performed the autopsies on the last three victims, Agent . . . “
The red headed agent looked at her notes and gave her report without emotion.
Mulder watched her, this was the one called ‘the Ice Queen’. He could understand that, listening to her. He was pretty sure though, that the reputation had come from men who had been unsuccessful with her on a more personal level.
She wasn’t really his type, on the short side, a little too by the book. He looked away, it didn’t matter; he certainly wasn’t looking for a woman. His ‘relationships’ were easier. Besides he just had to pretend to be part of the team, then go off alone and think about it.
An agent sitting across from him looked over. “Got any ideas, Spooky?”
Several of the agents grinned. He glanced at her involuntarily; she wasn’t one of them.
“Mulder, we need you to get to work on a profile ASAP. According to his pattern, we’ve got three days.”
Mulder nodded but didn’t speak. He’d already familiarized himself with the case. He’d need Agent Scully’s notes, then he’d lock himself away and . . .
Dillon dismissed the meeting, and Mulder stood slowly, watching the others disperse. He realized that Agent Scully was watching him. Once the others had left, he approached her.
He thought about holding out his hand to shake hers, but decided against it. “Agent, that was a good report. I wondered if you'd mind lending me your notes for my profile?”
“Of course. Agent Mulder, I was wondering if I could work with you on the profile. I know of your reputation, and I - “
“Spooky?” He gave her an ironic grin.
Her eyebrow rose, “Your reputation as a profiler.”
He gave a mild laugh and nodded. “I’d be honored.”
She heard the sarcasm but chose to ignore it.
“Your office or mine?” He asked with a slight leer.
Her eyes narrowed, “Look, if you don’t want my input - “
“I’m sorry.” He meant it, she didn’t deserve this. “Meetings like this bring out the worst in me. I would appreciate your help.”
She seemed to relax at least a notch, and he smiled. “My office is more private. Not many people come there voluntarily.”
It looked like she started to say something, but changed her mind. He opened the door and let her out into the hall.
At his office, he again opened the door and placed his hand on her back to lead her in. That surprised her a little, but it wasn’t unpleasant. He pulled up a second chair and after she was seated, sat himself and opened the files.
After a couple of hours, he leaned back and just looked at her. “Do you always argue every point?”
He actually laughed. That startled him more than it did her. He’d been focusing on this pervert, they’d gotten a lot done, but he didn’t feel like he’d been wallowing in a sewer.
“Yeah, I guess I do. It’s just that usually no one bothers to listen to my arguments.”
“You’ve made some good points.” She admitted.
“Thanks, so have you.”
“I guess I don’t see where you’re . . . some of your ideas seem, seem unconnected to the facts.”
He shrugged, “A hunch. It feels right.”
“That’s not very scientific.”
“True, which is why I wanted your notes.”
She didn’t dispute that, stretching her back.
“We’ve been at it long enough. Uh, listen, you want to get a bite to eat?”
“I’m sorry, I have plans tonight.”
He nodded, not really surprised. He shouldn’t have asked, but for some reason he felt . . . comfortable with her. She’d given as good as she got from him in their discussion.
“Well, thanks for your help.”
“What about tomorrow?”
“I’m going to keep at it for a while.”
“Oh, of course.” She rose from the chair and he did as well. “I’d like to see what you come up with.”
“Sure, it’s half yours. Stop by when you get in tomorrow.”
“Thanks, I will.” She smiled and left his office.
He looked back down at the files, and felt the familiar despair that he usually had with these cases. How had that small redheaded woman kept it away?
It wasn’t her, he told himself; it was not being alone. She was just the first with the courage to sit beside him during the process. Yeah, that was it.
He took his seat and looked at the pad.
The next morning when she tapped on the door, she heard his voice. It sounded a little raspy, but she entered.
“Mulder, do you - “ She stopped at the sight of him. He was still wearing the clothes he’d had on yesterday, his hair looked like he’d run his hands through it uncounted times.
“Are you . . . did you stay here all night?”
“I had an idea after you left.”
“What?” She moved to him and looked down at the desk.
“You might not want to get too close.”
“I think I can handle it.” She took the file into her hands, and sat without bothering to look at the chair, already absorbed.
“All of the victims have younger brothers? Mulder, a lot of people do. I do.”
“It was the only link I’ve been able to confirm. Age doesn’t matter, socio-economic level, marital status.”
“Yes, but - “
“It doesn’t solve it, but . . . “ He ran his hand through his hair again.
Scully looked up at him. “Let me get you some coffee.”
“I’m sloshing with coffee already.”
“Then you should get some breakfast, get out of the building.”
“I’m - “
“Come on. You can explain it after we’re out of here.”
He looked down at her for a moment. She seemed adamant, not at all reluctant to be seen with him. He nodded and she held his coat for him. For some reason that made him feel better than he had in hours.
They found a coffee shop and took a seat in the back. After ordering, she looked up at him. “You really stayed all night?”
He shrugged, “I do that. It’s a good thing your boyfriend got you out.”
“You said you had plans.”
“Oh, that was with my nephews. My younger brother is in town and we had a family dinner.”
“Oh.” And just why did that make him feel lighter? She hadn’t exactly said she wasn’t in a relationship and it didn’t matter. For some reason it felt good that she hadn’t left him last night for . . .
“We were talking about brothers. Okay, I have a younger brother, and an older one and an older sister.”
“Wow.” He smiled at her.
“Dad’s Navy. Mom said whenever he came in from a lengthy cruise, we added to the family.” She smiled then and he felt himself enjoy it. “What about you?”
“I, uh, I have a younger sister. My father is State Department. He just took short trips.”
She chucked and he reveled in the sound. This was the woman they called the Ice Queen?
“Tell me why it’s relevant that these women have younger brothers.”
“These women all live in Seattle, but in different parts of town. They’re all ages, some have children, but not all.”
“But how would the killer know?”
“That’s where I’m stuck. You told me you had a younger brother, but how would a stranger know that? What would you do that someone would pick up on?”
“I don’t know, a phone call? No, I wouldn’t call Charlie from a public phone. None of these women work together?”
“No. There’s no other connection that I can find.”
“Does there always have to be a connection?”
“No, but there’s no other starting point for us. If we have a serial killer who just picks up the next woman who passes him, we’re sunk.”
She nodded, then looked down at the table to concentrate. “I . . . I buy him a birthday card.”
Mulder looked up at her, “Shopping? A mall isn’t out of the question. No one was taken from one, but that doesn’t mean they all didn’t frequent it. So you buy a birthday card, would it say brother on it?”
“Would they know it was a younger brother?”
“Just conversation, you know, the clerk being friendly while they take your money.”
“Where else can you buy cards?”
“The grocery store, drug store, but you usually use the one in your neighborhood and none of these women had that in common.”
“Right, right. So we need to check out the malls.”
She nodded. They had fallen into this discussion from yesterday as though they hadn’t left each other. This man’s mind was amazing. He could follow her thoughts almost before she had them. The ‘spooky’ nickname seemed to fit, but he obviously didn’t care for it.
She was a little surprised that he had allowed her to sit in with him. He was the consummate loner at the Bureau. Now she began to wonder if it was because the others were intimidated by his mind, rather than his personality. He did seem to go out of his way to piss people off, he had to her at first, but then they had gotten into the case. He hadn’t deferred to the fact that she was a woman or pushed his theories on her assuming that she was incapable of having theories of her own.
She watched him finish up his breakfast and took another sip of her coffee. She realized she wasn’t intimidated by him, more intrigued.
“We better get back Mulder, the clock’s ticking.”
Mulder closed the file following his presentation. He could see that several of the agents had made notes, a couple of others were discussing something in a low voice. He looked over at Scully, who nodded to him.
“Okay, so we need to start checking out the malls now, concentrating on stores that would have merchandise designated for a family member. Agent Scully, I’d like you to take the mall on - “
“Wait a minute.” Mulder interrupted. “Agent Scully will be undercover on this?”
“Yes, she has agreed to be one of our point people.”
“I see.” He shut up, but wouldn’t look in her direction. Assignments were distributed and Dillon dismissed the agents to get started. Mulder was the first one out of the door.
He was half way down the hall when she caught up with him. “Mulder? What?”
“You didn’t tell me you were going to be the target.”
“The man murders women, you knew they’d have someone - “
“Yeah, I, I just didn’t know it was you. Why didn’t you tell me?”
“Do you think I can’t handle the job?”
“That’s not it. I was just caught off guard. This man is dangerous Scully. He’s not sane, not the way he brutalizes these women.”
That surprised her; he was worried about her. They’d only met yesterday, but it felt good, warm. “I’m not the only woman who’ll be on this duty.”
He shrugged. “I know you’re right. I . . . I’m sure you’re a good agent, you wouldn’t be on this task force if you weren’t. I didn’t mean - “
She nodded, “I need to go change. Will you still be working this, now that the profile is in?”
“Yes.” He always kept an eye on an investigation he worked on, but he’d be in the middle of this one.
“Good.” She smiled up at him. “I better get going. I’ll see you later.”
“Count on it.”
He was standing close, in her space, but she didn’t back away. He seemed to realize it and took a step back himself. “Be careful.”
“Of course.” Her hand lightly touched the sleeve of his coat. “Thank you.”
He nodded and she turned, walking away from him. Somehow it felt worse than when she’d left him last night. This was dangerous and he had a feeling . . .
They had security on her, but there were two other malls in the area that they were observing and they had only Spooky’s profile to go on, no real suspects. This was a preliminary mission, fact finding.
The three female agents visited each of the shops in the malls that carried the kind of merchandise, buying a card or some item with brother on it at each place.
Each reported in by phone a couple of times during their exploration. One agent advised that no men worked at any of the locations she had tried. The other woman and Scully both were waited on my male clerks in some of the locations.
Mulder hovered around in the background of the headquarters that had been set up, making everyone nervous, though no one called him on it.
“Okay, we’ve got five men that fit the age of the profile. Let’s get started.” Dillon announced as he hung up the phone. He was surprised when Mulder approached him. “You want to help with the background checks?”
“The men at the mall where Scully was assigned. I’d like to check into them.”
Dillon gave him the once over, “Okay.” He handed him the information they had accumulated so far.
Mulder took the file and headed to a desk at the far end of the room. He spread out the names in front of him, glancing over them.
He chose one at random and began his check.
He approached Dillon; “I want to have this guy brought in for questioning.” He handed Dillon the information he had accumulated.
“Why this guy?”
“It’s a feeling. I haven’t had the time to do deep background, but this guy has what I’m looking for.” This was making him twitchy. When he’d seen the man’s driver’s license picture it had felt like ants crawling on his spine.
“Okay, I’ll have the guys start on interviews and we’ll pick the guy up. You better have more than just a feeling, Mulder.”
Mulder nodded. He kept looking toward the door, the other two women had returned to the temporary headquarters, but Scully hadn’t checked in.
After a couple more minutes, he couldn’t wait any longer and approached the dispatch man. “Has Agent Scully checked in?”
“Uh, no. I haven’t heard from her since she reported that she was leaving the mall.”
“And that doesn’t bother you?”
“It’s rush hour.”
“Try to raise her.”
The young man looked over at Dillon, who nodded. A few minutes later he looked up, “She’s not responding.”
“Have they got Sawyer?” Mulder asked immediately.
Dillon looked at the dispatcher, but before he could speak, the younger man was listening intently to his earphone, his fingers pressing it closer into his ear. He looked up at Mulder and paled slightly.
“They didn’t get him. He’s disappeared. His manager is really ticked because he took off with no notice.”
“He’s got her. Somehow he made her and - “
“Another ‘feeling’ Spooky?” One of the agents, Roberts, spoke up.
Without warning Mulder’s hands were fisted on his lapels as he pulled the man up to eye level. The shorter agent actually quailed at the look in Mulder’s eyes.
“Mulder, let him go.” Dillon spoke with authority, but was secretly relieved when Mulder let the man drop back without a word. Roberts brushed his coat back into place and kept quiet himself, but was never heard to use the nickname ‘Spooky’ again.
“Where does Sawyer live?” Mulder asked quietly, reaching for the map.
The dispatcher pointed.
Mulder nodded, “Does he have relatives here? Find out where they live. We don’t have a lot of time.”
“Hey Ms. White! Glad I caught you.”
Scully stopped in unlocking her car and looked back at the man. This was the man she had spoken to at the card shop. Why had he followed her out here, unless . . .
“You left a package on the counter. I’m glad I spotted you.”
“But I have my package right here.” She started to reach for her gun, trying not to be obvious.
The smile vanished from his face and he took hold of her arm, pressing a gun into her side out of sight from onlookers. “Get in the car.”
“What’s going on here?”
“Shut up and get in the car.” He removed the gun from her holster. Her heart sank. This was the man; Mulder had been dead on with his profile. The man worked in a card shop.
He took the keys and forced her into the driver’s seat, then got in himself.
“Where . . . where are we going?”
“Just shut up and drive. Go out the back entrance and turn left.” All trace of the subservient, meek ‘boy’ from the card shop was gone. This was their killer and he was angry that they had found him. Since she had seen him, and she was driving to his location, Scully knew she was already dead.
Would Agent Mulder realize what was happening? He had seemed to care about her. Of course, he would care about the fate of any fellow officer, but he had seemed . . . He was the only one that had any ideas about this man.
“What are you going to do to me?”
He glanced over at her, his eyes cold. “I think you know.”
“Ron, may I call you Ron?”
His eyes narrowed, “How do you know my name?”
“It’s, it’s on your uniform.”
His eyes went down to his shirt and he ripped the nametag off. “Sure, call me Ron.”
“Ron, why me?” She was proud of the fact that her voice was steady.
“You’re looking for me, you found me. Do you really have a younger brother?”
“They’re more stupid than I thought.”
“Why do you hate your sister?”
She did, for now. If only she were wearing a wire, but this was too preliminary. What had she done to give herself away? He couldn’t have seen her gun and he’d initiated the conversation in the store.
“Turn in here, pull around the back.”
“Do you live here?”
She pulled her rental car around to the back of an older house. She kept her hands on the wheel as he exited the car. She unbuckled her seatbelt after he opened the door. He motioned her out with her gun and then followed her to the house. Instead of going in, he turned her toward a cellar door. He lifted open the door and motioned for her to move down the stairs.
Smart, there would be no evidence of her in the house. He shoved her toward a makeshift door and pulled the string to turn on the light in the small room.
“Ron, you haven’t hurt me so far. If you let me go, I can testify for you.”
Rather than respond, he backhanded her and she staggered back. He turned and left without another word.
How long would he keep her alive? According to the evidence they had accumulated, he had kept the women alive from three to four days, torturing them. But he was off schedule, he shouldn’t have taken her according to what they knew. How had he spotted her? She took a shuddering breath and helped herself up from the floor to sit on the bare cot against one wall.
She looked around, it was a makeshift room, obviously added recently. The dry wall was on the outside of the framing. She could break through sheetrock probably, but could she get out of the cellar?
There was nothing here but a bucket and the cot, no chair, no table. She closed her eyes. Agent Mulder, please be looking. Please be ‘Spooky’ and realize where I am.
She had investigated every corner and was lying on the cot when the door opened without warning. Great, she couldn’t hear him coming. He was wearing running shoes on the concrete, and maybe he had somehow soundproofed this little room.
“What are you going to do?”
“Shut up and turn around. Put your hands behind you.”
“Ron, please, let me go. I can help you.”
“Help me. Like you helped your little brother?”
“I love my younger brother.”
“Did you torment him? Are you the reason he was born?”
That confused her, “I didn’t torment him. We fought some, like all brothers and sisters. But we’re friends.”
“Friends.” He spat at her.
“Yes, he’s less than three years younger than me. We were very close.”
“Yes. I remember when Mom brought him home from the hospital. It’s one of my first memories. He was tiny and red and bald. Mom has a picture of me holding him with my Dad’s help.”
“You were just a kid.”
“Yes. Is . . . is your sister a lot older?”
He gave a harsh laugh, but didn’t respond other than that. He took a deep breath finally, “I said turn around and put your hands behind you.”
When he returned with a peanut butter sandwich and a bottle of water, he was already angry.
“Ron - “
“Shut up! Just keep your comments to yourself and eat.” He untied her hands
She nodded and took the sandwich, “No jelly?”
His eyes narrowed.
“Sorry, just trying to make conversation.” The training had said to make a connection, make the assailant see her as a person.
He rolled his eyes, “Conversation? You stupid bitch! You’re just a worthless piece of ass.”
“What did you sister do to you?”
He backhanded her across the face even more forcefully this time and she slammed into the concrete block wall. She barely managed to stay on her feet.
“What did my ‘sister’ do to me? Other than make my life hell, why do you care?”
She steadied herself against the wall and wiped the blood from her chin.
“You, you’re killing innocent women. These are women you don’t even know. What did they do to you?’
“I’m avenging their brothers. They’re too browbeaten to do it. I’m not.”
“They need avenging?”
He actually snarled at her. It was only the thought of Mulder looking for her that kept her breathing.
“They’re all whores. They say they’re your sister, but they put you down and confuse you and then when you’re grown you find out your whole life has been a lie!
She was confused herself now. He was evil, a complete sadist, but until now she’d been able to follow his thought process.
“A . . . a lie?” It hurt to talk but she needed to communicate with her.
His hands closed around her breasts, squeezing them painfully, then his knee jammed into her stomach.
“A sister, the bitch said she was my sister!” His rage was taking over and she knew she was going to lose consciousness.
“She was a whore! My whole life was a lie!” He punched her then, “And no one told me until she died!”
Who had died? What was he talking about, “ . . . lie . . . my mother!”
She slipped under and he let her fall to the floor. He kicked her once more, then after binding her, locked to door behind him.
Scully had no idea how much time had passed before she groaned awake. It took several attempts before she made it to her knees with her hands bound. She made it to the cot and levered herself up onto it. She moaned as she reclined, drawing her knees up. She should never have left Quantico.
What had he said? His life was a lie; his sister was a whore. What was that last thing? Something about his mother. She coughed through the gag and a new spasm of pain flared.
Come on Mulder, be Spooky, figure this out. She’d been hearing about him since she’d been at the Bureau. They used him as an example in more than one class and the “Spooky” stories were legend. He would find her, but would it be in time?
“Mulder, we’ve found a step-father. He lives in Houston.”
“Get him on the phone. Let me talk to him.”
“Mulder, I - “
“I need to talk to him.” He stood toe to toe with the AD. After a tense moment, Dillon turned to the agent who had given him the information. “Find him, and let Mulder question him.”
That surprised Dillon. This meant more than a case to Mulder. He’d never seen Mulder get emotionally involved - the opposite was usually true, distancing himself from the team. “Yeah, let’s just find this guy.”
Mulder nodded and followed the agent to the bank of phones.
Once the stepfather was on the phone, the call was turned over to Mulder.
“Mr. Carson? This is Special Agent Fox Mulder. I’m calling about your step-son - “
“Ron? What’s the ass-hole done now?”
“Has Ron been in trouble a lot?”
“Nyah, he’d too stupid to get in trouble. What do you need?”
“We’re trying to locate him. He may have information about a case we’re working. Do you know where he is?”
“Haven’t seen him, not since I threw the little shit out.”
“When was that?”
“After my wife died, almost eighteen months ago.”
Mulder exchanged glances with Dillon, that was just before this had started. “His mother died?”
“Not exactly, my wife died.”
“I’m sorry?” What the hell did he mean by that?
“I have time.”
“Why is this important?” The older man seemed wary suddenly.
“It may not be, but I’m confused.”
“Yeah, well, my wife wasn’t the boy’s mother.”
“Then who was?”
“My step-daughter, Bernice. My wife was his grandmother.”
“You’re saying his sister was actually his mother?” Adrenaline dumped into his system. “Did he know?”
“Nyah, hell I didn’t even know when we got married. When I found out, a lot of things made more sense.”
“What kind of things?”
“All the comments the girl had made all those years.”
“Comments?” Mulder’s voice was calm but if he could have gotten his hands on this creep, he’d have pulled him through the phone lines and beaten the information from him.
“Yeah, how the little shit had ruined her life, how having him in the family creeped her out, how she wished he’d never been born. She was after him all the time.”
“Sounds like he could have grown to hate her. Does he know?”
“He does now. After my wife died, he thought he could free load off me. Hell, he’s no relation to me - step grandson my eye. I told him the truth, like I’d tried to get my wife to for years; then I threw him out.”
“Would he go to his sister, sorry, his mother?”
“I doubt it. She’d never take him in. ‘Sides, she moved to Seattle with that no-count husband of hers before he left her.”
“Se . . . Seattle?”
“Yeah, last I heard. I ain’t seen her since the funeral.”
“Do you have an address, a name?”
“Let’s see, the guy she was married to was a Kincaid, Jerry I think.”
Mulder’s look had them scrambling to find the name and a location.
“And an address?”
“It’s probably in her mom’s address book. Hold on.” Mulder heard the phone hit a table. He placed his hand over the receiver.
“Anything? Come on! Move it, we have to find this woman. DMV? Something!”
“We’re on it Mulder. You gotta give us a minute.”
Mulder’s eyes narrowed but there was nothing to say. They couldn’t conjure up the information.
“Agent Miller? You still there?”
“Mulder. Did you find the address?”
“Yeah. Don’t know if she still lives there.” Mulder closed his eyes in frustration. Carson rattled off an address and Mulder watched an agent feed it in the computer. In seconds the agent nodded.
“Mr. Carson, thank you for your help. We may have to call you back, if we need more information.”
“Yeah. Okay. Listen, this information Ron might have; is there any reward?”
“I’m not at liberty to discuss that. Thank you.” Mulder broke the connection and moved to see the computer screen.
“It’s an older neighborhood, kinda seedy.”
“What about the sister, this Bernice Kincaid?”
“It’s coming up now - no arrests or warrants. Shit!”
“What?” Mulder was scanning the screen. His eyes closed.
Dillon stepped closer, “What?”
“She was reported missing - two weeks before the first murder. Let’s go.”
Mulder’s shoulder crashed into the door and he spotted her, bound and gagged on the bed. She was still wearing the clothing she’d had on when she left him to go to the mall, but they were ripped and dirty now.
He was at her side instantly and gently removed the gag from her mouth.
“Scully?” He brushed the hair from her forehead. There were bruises on her face.
“Mu . . . Mulder. I knew you’d come.”
He blinked at that, but made no comment as he carefully removed the bonds from her hands. Without thought his arms went around her, pulling her to him. She didn’t hesitate to reciprocate and he realized she was crying quietly.
“Get an ambulance.” He spoke to the agent behind him, without bothering to look. They both heard him leave the room.
“I’m . . . I’m okay.” But she was still clinging to him.
“You need to be checked out.” She nodded and reluctantly it seemed, released her grip on him. She tried to pull her shredded clothing around her to cover her. Mulder slipped off his suit coat and put it around her shoulders.
She looked like a little girl in it, playing in her father’s clothes. Scully looked up, “Thanks.”
He said nothing, just looking at her; then the others surrounded them. She insisted on walking to the ambulance, Mulder’s arm supporting her.
“Where are you taking her?”
“University Trauma.” The EMT that wasn’t applying the blood pressure cuff responded. “She looks good.”
Mulder met her eyes then and nodded. He watched her until the doors to the ambulance closed and the vehicle pulled out. Then he turned to the team. He found Dillon first.
“They think she will be. Do you need me here?”
“Did you discharge your weapon?”
Mulder shook his head, “Didn’t get the chance.”
Dillon nodded; they’d all have liked to take a shot at this man. “No, but I am going to need to talk to her.”
Dillon looked at the younger agent. That had sounded like an order, but Mulder was right. This could keep for 12 hours. They had the right man and he was dead. After a moment he nodded.
Mulder didn’t even acknowledge it, turning toward his car.
When he arrived at the ER, the nurse informed him that Agent Scully was in room 4 and her doctor would be out shortly. To Mulder’s surprise, he was.
Mulder’s pacing took him to the doctor in three steps. “How is she?”
“Extremely well under the circumstances. She’s a very strong woman.”
Mulder glanced at the door. “The . . . the rape kit, I want - “
“There isn’t one. She said you got there in time. Agent Scully wasn’t raped.”
Mulder’s hand shot out to hold the wall as relief threatened to topple him.
The doctor observed this, then, “What she actually said was, ‘Mulder got there in time’. You’re Mulder?”
Mulder looked up at him and nodded.
“Well congratulations, you did good.” He clapped the agent on the shoulder.
“May I see her?”
“Sure, go on in.” The doctor moved away, but he was already forgotten. ‘Mulder got there in time’.
He tapped on the door. “Come in.” She turned toward the door and saw him. Her shy smile came close to unmanning him. She was wearing a hospital gown and holding up her shredded blouse.
“Don’t, uh, don’t worry about those.” He lifted his suit coat from the chair and slipped it back around her. She nodded her gratitude. He stuffed her clothing into a bag, it was still evidence. The door opened and a nurse came in carrying a set of greens for her to wear.
“I’d like to get out of here.”
“They’re not keeping you?”
“I’m fine, really. I’d just like a shower and some fresh clothes.”
He nodded. “Get dressed. I’ll take you to the hotel.”
When he returned she slipped her shoes on her bare feet and pulled his coat closer around her. She felt his fingers on her lower back and they made their way out.
His fingers were there again as he led her to her room. “You know, you should probably eat something.”
“I couldn’t, not now. I’d rather take a shower.”
“Oh, uh sure. I could use one myself. What if I stop by afterward, see if you’re hungry.”
She nodded and after a moment he turned to leave. “You’ll come, uh, thank you.”
“I’ll be back in a little while.”
She nodded and let him out.
When he returned and knocked, the door opened almost immediately. When he had left her, she had been composed, professional. Now with her hair slicked back, with no makeup and wearing only a light robe, she was lovely but . . . shaken, pale. “Agent Scully?”
“I can’t . . . I can’t get warm.”
“Geez, you’re going into shock. They should have kept you in the hospital.”
“No, I . . . I just . . . “
“Come here.” He led her to the bed and pulled back the covers. “Lie down.”
She looked at him and he saw she was starting to tremble.
“Come on, get in and scoot over.” She did as he bade and he covered her, then shucked his shoes and lay beside her on top of the covers and spooned around her.
“It’s okay. You’re safe, try to relax.”
She seemed to press her back into his chest, absorbing the comfort of him and her shaking did slow and finally stop.
She nodded, not sure of her voice for an instant. “Not very professional.”
“You’ve been through a lot. How long have you been in the field?”
“This, uh, I teach at Quantico. This was my first field assignment.”
“You’re first? Those SOBs did this to you on your first - “
She saw his jaw tighten and his eyes seemed to change color. “Mulder it worked out okay.”
“Okay?” His voice sounded slightly strangled. “Listen, let’s not talk about it now. Just rest.”
She nodded and closed her eyes. In what he considered an amazingly short time, her even breathing told him she had indeed fallen asleep. She probably hadn’t slept except in short naps since she’d been taken. He certainly hadn’t.
When he woke it was light outside and she had turned and was watching him.
“Oops, I didn’t mean to fall asleep.”
She swallowed, looking a little frightened.
“Look, Scully, no one ever has to know about this, and . . . and nothing happened, I mean - “
“I know. You just, you had my back.”
“Literally.” He managed to grin.
“Yeah.” She blushed.
“Why don’t I let you get dressed, then we’ll get something to eat. I don’t know about you, but I’m starved.”
“Come to think of it, so am I.” She watched him rise from the bed. “Agent Mulder, thank you. I - “
“It’s okay. I . . . it was nice having someone to work with. I just wish you hadn’t gotten quite so personally involved.” He headed for the door.
“Agent Mulder - “
“Mulder, just Mulder.”
“Mulder. Do you think we could collaborate again some time?”
He blinked then, his hand on the doorknob. “You . . . you’d want to?”
“As long as you don’t expect to end up in my bed every time.”
A huge grin took over his face. “Yeah, okay, not every time.”
She blushed, but nodded.
“See you in a minute. We’ll eat, get the case behind us, and . . . and I’ll tell you a little bit about my work. Then we’ll see if you’re still interested.”
She nodded and looked at the man. He seemed . . . maybe not taller, but as though his step were lighter somehow. She wasn’t sure what she’d gotten herself into, but it sure seemed like it was going to be interesting.