Exploring Something New - 4 (PG-13)

Mulder flipped on the TV; it was almost time for the game.  He headed into the kitchen and poured himself a tall ice tea, then grabbed the last slice of left over pizza.


The special bulletin caught his attention as he returned to his couch, “ . . . of Investigation has released the information that two agents have been killed and three wounded, two critically, at a shoot out near Buffalo, New York.  The names are being withheld until -  “


He ignored the rest of the broadcast.  He was suddenly standing in the midst of tea, ice and broken glass.  He spun to reach for the phone as he clicked off the TV.


“This is Special Agent Fox Mulder.”  He rattled off his badge number.  “I need information about the agents injured in New York.”  No reason to ask about the ones that had been killed.  She wasn’t dead.  He would know it if she were, just as he seemed to know she’d been there in the first place.


“Agent Mulder, we can’t -  “


“I’m not asking . . . just tell me if Agent Scully, Dana Scully, was injured.”


There was a long pause.  “Yes, Agent Mulder.”


“Where was she taken?”


There was another hesitation, then she sighed, “University Medical in Buffalo -  “ She realized the connection was broken before she got the words out.


He snatched his keys off the table, grabbed his leather jacket off the coat rack and was gone.


He burned up his cell phone making arrangements on his way to the airport.  He grabbed his overnight kit from the trunk and took the valet parking option -  a first for him, then raced to the gate.


It wasn’t until the plane took off that he allowed himself to think about what he was doing . . . and her.


He hadn’t seen her since they’d gotten back from Colorado, except once.  That had been an accident.  He’d been asked to come out to Quantico, and had chosen a day when she wasn’t scheduled to teach.  But she’d walked out of an office and he’d practically run her down.  She’d seemed delighted to see him, and insisted they have lunch together.  He couldn’t make himself refuse.  He hadn’t allowed himself to know how much he had missed her.  Maybe it was such a new feeling he hadn’t recognized it.


They had talked easily.  She took his lead and didn’t ask about any cases.  He assumed she was back with Ethan, their problems worked out, though he didn’t ask.  Mostly he had just listened, watching her, and knowing it was a mistake.  Now he would have to go through withdrawal yet again.  Davis had done the two autopsies he had needed since . . .


He hadn’t called her.  He’d told himself he didn’t want to see her, but he’d jumped on this plane without thought.


He used his shield like a battering ram to get to the hospital and to her floor.  She’d survived surgery, but they hadn’t released her from recovery.


His steps slowed as he approached her room, and he hesitated with his hand on the latch.  He couldn’t delude himself, he had to see her.  He let himself in, but stopped at the sight of her.  “Oh god.”  He actually took a step away, his back pressing against the door to steady himself.  “Scully.”  He was only able to breathe the word.


Then he was beside her, touching and then gripping her hand.  “Scully, come on, wake up.  Please, for me.”


“Sir?”  A gentle hand came to rest on his forearm.  He turned startled.


“I . . . I’m sorry.  I didn’t know anyone was here.”


That was obvious.  When his eyes had locked on Dana, the rest of the world had vanished.  “I’m Maggie Scully, Dana’s mother.”


“Mrs. Scully.”  He acknowledged her, “Fox, uh Agent Fox Mulder.” But his eyes were back on Scully, he didn’t see the recognition in her eyes.  “Is she going to be okay?  What are they saying?”


“They, uh, they’re ‘guardedly optimistic’.”  He winced at that.  “She lost a lot of blood, so they’re concerned.”


“What was she doing there?  She’s supposed to be teaching at Quantico!”  He shook his head, “I’m sorry, I . . . I’m sorry.”


Mrs. Scully squeezed his shoulder and motioned for him to take a seat where he wouldn’t have to release her hand.


“She was in surgery when I got here.  I heard two other agents have died from their injuries.”  He nodded, not speaking.


They were quiet for a moment, then Mrs. Scully spoke again, “I’m glad you’re here.  She’s spoken very highly of you.”  He glanced up and quickly away.  “You’re the man that saved her in Seattle.”


“That was a team effort.”


“Funny, she never mentioned anyone else.”  She gave him a sad smile.


He had no idea what to say to that, so he kept quiet.


“Fox, I haven’t wanted to leave her alone.  Would you mind if I stretched my legs for a minute?”


“Of, of course not.  I’ll be right here.  Take your time Mrs. Scully.”


“Maggie, please.”


“Maggie.”  He nodded.


“I won’t be long.”  She let herself out and hurried to the ladies room to cry.


Mulder focused completely on Scully instantly.  “Scully, come on.  Open your eyes.  I need to see your eyes.  They’ve put you in too small a bed for me to join you, so you’ve got to wake up and prove you’re okay.  Listen to me Scully.”  He squeezed her hand, but there was no response.


She was still alive, that was the important thing.  He’d wait, he had nothing else as important to do.


He didn’t know how long he’d been there when the door opened again.  A male voice startled him, “Who the hell are you?”


He looked up into the hostile face of a man about his age.  This wasn’t Ethan, he was as tall as Mulder and heavier.  Mulder knew he’d have trouble taking this man, if the need arose.


“Bill?”  Maggie entered the room then, “Bill!”  The man turned and took Maggie into his arms, hugging her tightly. 


Bill?  This was her older brother.  Mulder relaxed slightly.


When Bill released his mother, he turned back toward Mulder, his eyes were narrowed and his hostility had not abated.  “Are you one of those FBI assholes that forced her out of medicine?”


Mulder looked at him for a moment, “No, I’m a different asshole.”


The answer caught Bill off guard, but didn’t exactly appease him.


“Sorry,” Mulder rose, but didn’t release her hand.  “I’m Special Agent Fox Mulder.”


Bill looked over at his mother, asking the question silently.  “Yes, this is the man that saved your sister in Seattle.”


Mulder watched Bill try to relax his stance and partially succeed.  “Were, were you here, when . . . “


Mulder shook his head, “I heard about it on the news.”


“And you rushed up here?”


“Uh, yeah.  I . . . I needed to make sure . . . “


“Fox came to check on your sister, and I’m very grateful.  Bill, I haven’t been able to reach your father.  Do you think you could pull some strings?”


“Oh, I figured . . . sure.  But tell me how she is first.”


Maggie looked over at Mulder, “Has the doctor been back?”


Mulder shook his head.


“We need to step out into the hall, Bill.  They only allow one person in here with her.”


Mulder’s eyes widened at that, he’d been unaware.  Maggie had allowed him to stay with her, while she waited outside?  Maggie looked over at Mulder, “We’ll be in the waiting room.”


He nodded slowly, not sure what to say.  He could see the outrage building in Bill again, but Maggie had her hand on her son’s arm.  Her smaller stature didn’t faze her any more than Scully’s did where he was concerned.


He was asked to step outside when the doctor finally did come in to check on her.  The monitors hadn’t told him anything, but the sound of them had become essential to him as time passed with no reaction from her.


The three of them were waiting when the doctor emerged.  “Her vitals are steady.  I’m going to have her moved to the ICU.”


“Is that safe?”  Mulder asked before anyone else had the chance.


“Yes, it means she’s improving.  You are?”


“Special Agent Fox Mulder.”  Again he pulled out his ID.  “You know her mother, this is her brother Bill.”


The doctor shook each of their hands.  “I am pleased with her progress so far, but we’re going to be keeping a very close eye on her.”


“The other agent that was critical, is he okay?”  Her mother asked.


“No, I’m sorry.  We lost him.”


Maggie closed her eyes in a quick prayer and Bill took her arm.   Mulder said nothing, it hadn’t occurred to him to ask, though he probably knew the agent.  He couldn’t focus on anything but her.


They came to move her and Maggie insisted they all get a bite to eat while they weren’t allowed to be with her.  Mulder hadn’t thought of food until she mentioned it.  He wondered idly what he’d done with that slice of pizza.  He and Bill escorted Maggie to the cafeteria.  He reached for coffee, but wasn’t sure his stomach could take it, so chose water instead.


He ate the cardboard sandwich without noticing, listening with one ear to their conversation.  “I got hold of my CO; he’ll locate Dad for us.  Hopefully he’ll be on his way home tonight.”


“I just want to have some positive news when he calls.”  She looked toward the elevators.


“We will.  Come on, Mom, we’re talking about Dana.”


Mulder nodded without thinking.


“Fox, have you been working with Dana lately?”


“Uh, no.  She helped me with a case a couple of months ago, but . . . “ he let his voice trail off.

”Really?”  Her mother sounded confused, “I had the impression that you two had a close working relationship.”  She didn’t mention the obvious, that he had dropped everything and appeared at her side.


“I . . . I work mostly alone.”


“Maybe you can talk some sense into her and get her to return to medicine.”


“I’ll give it a shot when she wakes up.”


“So you agree that the FBI isn’t the place for her?”


“It would be a big loss for the Bureau, but she wouldn’t be shot at.”  He glanced at Maggie and away.


“You seem very protective of her.”  Maggie observed.


Mulder decided against comment and she let it drop.  He was already anxious to be back at her side.  Being social wasn’t exactly his strong point.  When they finally did arrive at the ICU, they were informed that only two people were allowed and for only five minutes.


“Bill, you haven’t spent any time with her.  You and Fox -  “


“No Mrs . . . Maggie.  You need to see her.  Go on, I’ll be right here.”  She saw what that cost this strange, quiet man - he cared for Dana, more, she thought, than he realized.  Bill nodded, that was the only solution as far as he could see.  He took his mother’s arm and led her in.


When they returned five minutes later, Bill was quiet and obviously shaken.


“Did, did anything . . . “ Mulder couldn’t finish the question.


Maggie gave him a sad smile, “There’s no change.  She’s still not awake.”


Mulder nodded and looked toward the doors.  “They’ll let us back in at five til the hour.”  She offered.


Mulder swallowed, but kept quiet.


“Mom, let’s get you a room.  There’s a place connected to the hospital.  I saw it on my way in.  You need to stretch out and maybe make some calls.”


She looked at the doors again, “I hate to -  “


“I’ll be here Maggie.  I’ll find you if there’s any change.”  He pulled out his card and wrote his cell phone number on the back.  “It’s always on.”  He managed to smile at her.


Maggie looked back and forth between these two men and finally nodded.  She promised to call Mulder with a room number in a few minutes, then she allowed Bill to lead her away.


Once the elevator doors closed, Mulder turned toward the swinging door and quietly let himself in.  He wasn’t challenged, everyone was occupied, and he found her cubicle with no problem.  He pulled the plastic chair closer and sat beside her, taking her hand into his.


“Hey Scully, it’s time to wake up.  You’re scaring your Mom.”  He was kneading her hand, his eyes darting between her and the monitors arrayed around her.


He was so quiet no one noticed him for nearly twenty minutes, then a nurse was at his side.  “Sir, I’m sorry.  You can’t be in here now.”


“I won’t bother anyone.  They let us be with her in recovery.”


The nurse glanced at the chart and pursed her lips.  They’d been allowed in recovery because they hadn’t expected her to make it to ICU and the doctor had wanted to give the family some time with her.  That wasn’t something she could say, so she smiled at the man in front of her.  “I understand, but we have more patients in here, and we have to . . . I’m sorry.”  She stepped back to allow him to stand.


He did so reluctantly and squeezed her hand before forcing himself to release her.  Instead, her hand tightened on his.  “Scully?”  He leaned closer and the nurse moved in on the other side.


“Ms. Scully, can you hear me?”


She tried to make a sound, but the respirator hampered her.  Her eyes fluttered.


“Scully, don’t try to talk.  There’s a tube down your throat.  If you can hear me, squeeze my hand.”


He felt the light pressure as her fingers moved and had to steady himself against the side of the bed.


“That’s right Scully.  Everything’s going to be okay.  Listen, they want me to wait outside, so - “ Her fingers tightened again, a little stronger this time.  Mulder looked up at the nurse.


“I’ll call her doctor, you can stay here until he arrives, but then we’ll need the room.”


“Yes ma’am.”  He looked back down at Scully, this other woman forgotten already.  He leaned in close, his lips barely brushing her ear.  “I’m still here, Scully.”


Her eyelids fluttered again and she managed to open them, then blinked trying to bring him into focus.  Her lips tried to move.


“Scully, be still.  Don’t try to talk, okay?”  His fingers touched her cheek lightly and her eyes seemed to smile, before slipping closed again.


The doctor lost no time in answering his page and again they were after him to leave.  He stood his ground for a moment, “Scully?  Scully, can you hear me?”


Her eyes opened more quickly this time.  “Hi.  They’re asking me to step outside while they examine you.  I just wanted you to know, I’m not far and I’ll be back in a few minutes.”  She seemed to nod slightly, but the doctor noted her eyes tried to follow him as he left her bedside.  He was in the hall before he realized he hadn’t called her mother.  At least he was confident if he woke her, she wouldn’t be upset.


Bill answered the phone.  “It’s Mulder.  Is Maggie -  “


“Has something happened?”  Mulder could hear movement in the background.


“Something good.  She’s awake, the doctor’s with her.”


“We’ll be right there.”


They were, in less than ten minutes.  The doctor still hadn’t emerged.  “Fox?”


“She had her eyes open and she squeezed my hand.”  He answered her unspoken question.  To his shock, she threw her arms around him and, after an instant, he returned the hug.  It had been a long time since he’d had a maternal hug, hell, a hug of any kind.  It was unfamiliar, but damn pleasant.


Finally the doctor appeared at the door and joined them.  He looked a little less solemn this time.  “We’ve removed the respirator and she is breathing on her own, we are supplementing oxygen.  I’m going to let you in to see her, but just for a couple of minutes.  She’s still very weak.”


Maggie nodded and brushed away a tear with a business-like gesture, squaring her shoulders.  A nurse appeared behind the doctor, smiling.  “She’s asking for her husband.”


“Husband?” Maggie questioned.


“The man that was with her when she woke?”


Maggie and Bill turned to look at Mulder.  “She said husband?”  Bill asked as they all shook off their paralysis and began to move into the ICU.


“I’m sorry, I wasn’t there.  Nurse Rickard sent me.”


They could see her now.  The largest piece of equipment had been moved away and they could see the smaller oxygen line.  Her head turned toward the sound, and her eyes found Mulder.  She truly smiled this time, though she was still too pale, too weak.


“Mulder.”  It was only a whisper, due to the irritation in her throat, but he heard to the bottom of his soul.


Her fingers moved on the covers and he took her hand.  Even the doctor saw the tension leave her face, as though pain medication had been added to her IV.


“Scully, your Mom’s here and your brother.”  He moved to the side, not releasing his grip on her.  Bill noted it and wasn’t happy, but even he had seen.


In five minutes, the doctor began herding them out.  “I’ll be right outside Scully.”  Her brow furrowed instantly.


“Doctor, can Fox stay in here with her?”  Maggie asked quietly.


Bill opened his mouth to protest, but her hand on his arm stopped him.


“She needs her rest.”  The doctor demurred.


“I believe we all saw that she would rest better with him here.”


The doctor looked back at his patient, then at the dark, solemn man standing, waiting.


“You stay out of the way.”  Mulder nodded, then turned to Maggie.


“Thank you.”


She nodded, “Keep my baby safe.”  Again Bill opened his mouth, but Maggie took his hand and tugged him toward the exit.


Mulder had already forgotten them, leaning over her.  “I’m staying.”


“In . . . bed?”  She whispered.


At that he grinned.  No one that knew him from the Bureau would have recognized him.  “Don’t tempt me.  Now rest, or they’ll throw me out.”


Her eyes drifted closed and he settled back in his chair.




For the next two days that’s how things went.  Maggie and Bill took turns relieving Mulder and Scully was able to speak to her father over Mulder’s phone.  He was on his way, but it looked like it would be at least two more days before he could arrive.


He had asked her if Ethan was going to show up and try to take him out.  She had shaken her head and changed the subject.  He hadn’t pursued it.


Mulder’s meals with Bill were quiet and strained.  The man was obviously resentful, though Mulder didn’t know why and hadn’t bothered to ask.  Maggie more than made him welcome.  In fact, he was more than surprised at her acceptance of him.  He was damn curious about what the two women had discussed regarding him, but he found he was actually too nervous to ask.


On the third day, she was moved to a room on the surgical ward, and was allowed to celebrate with a little clear jello.  “You should have held out for the cherry, Scully.  I’ve had the lime too many times, I know.”


She started to respond, but saw the smile fade from his face.  She looked in the direction he was facing and saw Bill standing in the doorway.  The look on his face stunned her, it looked like he hated Mulder.




He looked at his sister then and his face softened.  “How are you feeling?”


“A lot better.  Where’s Mom?”


“She’s resting.  We’re going to pick Dad up around midnight tonight at the airport.”


“Good idea.  I know that’s after visiting hours, but please bring Ahab here as soon as he lands.”


“Will you be here?”  Bill looked over at Mulder and the friendly tone left his voice.


“She’s a lot better.  I won’t interrupt your family reunion.”  Mulder spoke in a monotone, but she saw the hurt in his eyes.


“Bill, I want Ahab to meet Mulder.”


“Scully,” Mulder broke in, “I’m not leaving, just giving the family some space.  Don’t even think about it.”


“I am thinking about it.  What’s your problem Bill?”


“Can we talk about this later?”


She opened her mouth to refuse, but saw Mulder shake his head.  She closed her mouth, for now.


“The jello's made me hungry, Scully.  I’m gonna go grab a bite.  I’ll check back later.”  He squeezed her hand and moved past Bill without a word.


When the door shut, Scully turned to her brother.  “What’s going on?”


“I had him checked out.”


“You did what?”  She winced as she tried to sit up to yell at him.


“Take it easy, Dana.  You nearly died.”


“I know that Bill, and Mulder has been at my side the whole time helping me heal.”


Bill snorted, “What do you know about him?”


“What are you talking about?  I’ve worked with the man, he saved my life and . . . and looked after me on assignments when I’d never been in the field before.”


“And you shouldn’t be in the field now.”


“Bill, that’s a different fight.  Mulder has been a good partner and an excellent friend.”


“Do you know what they call him at the Bureau?  Spooky - and for a good reason.  The man is a total weirdo.  He actually believes that little green men from space kidnapped his sister!”  Bill shook his head.


“Bill -  “


“He looks for the strange cases.  He’s a loner, people avoid him like the plague and for good reason.  Listen to me Dana, he’s a psycho.  He comes up with these theories about cases he works on -  “


“And he’s usually right.  That’s why they call him in on all the hard cases.  This person that ‘checked him out’, did he tell you his solve rate?  Did he tell you how successful Mulder is when he gets involved in a case?”


“Dana, you should stay away from him.  Really.  He’s not the kind of guy you should get involved with.  His father doesn’t even have anything to do with him.”


She stiffened then.  “You asked about his family?”


“No, the guy offered.  His father worked for the State Department.  My friend had heard of him, but he’s retired now.”


“Listen to me Bill.  Mulder has been there for me in ways you could never understand.  He’s helped me in ways you don’t know and I’m not going to get into with you.  I trust him, I like him, I . . . I feel safe with him.  If I had come to with that respirator down my throat and he hadn’t been there . . . Bill, I panicked, then I heard Mulder.  I knew, I knew it would be okay.  I can’t explain it better than that.  If you can’t understand, then leave it alone.  He’s not the kind of person you want to hang out with, fine, but don’t pry into his life and do not expect to order me around about my co-workers or my friends.”


Bill looked into her snapping eyes.  Now wasn’t the time to make her see reason about this.  He wasn’t going to let it drop, unless of course she came to her senses and returned to medicine, but now wasn’t the time.  After a long moment, he nodded.


“Thank you.”


Bill moved around the room, obviously ill at ease now.


“Bill, I’m fine.  Why don’t you go do something.  I don’t need a keeper any more.




When the tap came on her door, she turned and smiled as Mulder looked in.  She saw how his eyes checked out the room.  “He’s gone.”


He nodded and came on in, then stood over her.  She reached for his hand and he seemed to relax a little.  “Sit.”


His lips twitched, but he obeyed her.


“Mulder, I have a question.”


He immediately sobered, what had Bill put into her head?  He waited.


“Are you AWOL?”


He blinked, not the question he’d expected.  “Uh, no.  They know where I am.”


“You’ve been here for days.”


“I have plenty of leave, Scully.”


“That’s not what I mean.”


“Scully, I’ve been in touch with Skinner.  In fact I’m the reason you haven’t been debriefed.”


Her lips parted slightly and her eyes widened.  “I . . . I wondered about that.”


“They’ll be talking to you, but they had enough uninjured agents from this cluster fuck to talk to without bothering you.”


She absorbed this, not sure how she felt about this protection.


“Now I have  a question for you.”


She nodded.


“What were you doing there anyway?  Why weren’t you at Quantico?


She looked confused then, “I wanted to get more time in the field.  I want to be able to help you, cover your back, instead of being a burden.”


“I thought . . . you don’t want to teach?”


“I could be more help to you if I have experience.  You won’t always have to be rescuing me.  I don’t want to be a hindrance.”


“You couldn’t be a hindrance.”  She managed a small smile then.  Before she could speak, the nurse tapped on the door.


“Ms. Scully?  I need to change your dressing.”  She glanced at the hunk that was always at this woman’s bedside.  In fact, she’d won the toss to come in here and see him up close and personal.


“I, uh, I’ll see you later Scully.”


She smiled at him and nodded, then held out her hand.  He took it and squeezed it, then let himself out.


He headed toward the elevator, but didn’t seem to focus on anything.  He realized he was in the cafeteria, and bought a cup of coffee.  He found a seat in the corner and sat staring into the dark brew.


She had gone out, put herself in danger, to be a better agent for him?  Did she honestly think that was the reason he hadn’t requested her?  Had she not listened to him?


He glanced up startled as Bill loomed over him.  “I think it’s time you went home, Spooky.”


Mulder looked down, making no comment.


“Did you hear me?”


“What do you want Bill?”


“I want you to go away.  My sister doesn’t need anyone like you in her life.  She’s still almost a kid.  She’s made some dumb choices lately, but she’ll get her head together now, after this disaster.  She doesn’t need a weirdo like you hanging around, confusing her.”  He leaned back and glared at the dark man.  “Leave Dana alone, Mulder.  Just stay away from her.”  Bill pushed back from the table and left without another word.


Mulder sat there until he knew Bill was out of the way, then forced himself to his feet.  He moved to the front of the hospital with a heavy tread.  He stood outside and after a moment, pulled his cell phone from his pocket and called for a cab.


He was at the airport less than an hour before he got a seat to DC.  He didn’t speak again until he asked for his car.




He sat on his couch, facing the flickering lights on the TV, but not seeing it.  “Leave Dana alone, Mulder.  Just stay away from her.”


The worst part was, he agreed with Bill.  It was what he’d been trying to do.  He hadn’t analyzed what he was doing when he bolted from his apartment.  He’d just known he had to get to her.


Why?  He was no doctor.  He’d done nothing to save her, but the thought had been compelling.  He’d had no choice - at least it had felt that way at the time.


He could have gone to work today, probably should have, but he couldn’t work up the energy and it was Friday anyway.  It’s not like anyone would miss him.


He was so deep in his funk the knock on his door didn’t register at first.  Strange, he hadn’t ordered any food and no one else ever came here.  He started to ignore it, but the knock came again, more insistent this time.  What the hell?  He rose to his feet and stretched -  how long had he been sitting here?


He opened the door to order the annoyance away and was struck dumb at the sight of her.


“May I come in?”


“Sc . . . Scully?  You, you should be in the hospital.”


“If one more person says that to me, I’m going to scream.”


She looked like she meant it too.  That galvanized him into motion.  He stepped aside to let her in.  “I . . .” Then stopped again.


“Bill finally told me what he did.  I’ve left him to Mom and Ahab, but I think he’d prefer a firing squad.”


“How did you . . .”


“I signed myself out AMA.  You know, ‘against medical advice’, I am a doctor.  We’re notoriously bad patients anyway.”  She shifted on her feet and winced.


Instantly he had his arm around her.  “Sit down.”  He half carried her to his couch, where he sat her tenderly in the corner and arranged a pillow at her back.


“I’m fine Mulder.”


“How did you get here?”


“I flew, then I took a cab.  He’s waiting downstairs in case you throw me out.”


He looked toward the window.  “Wait right here.”  He didn’t even bother to slip on his shoes, racing down the stairs.  He paid off the driver and sent him away, then headed back up the stairs even faster.


He burst into his apartment as though afraid her being there had been a dream and she saw his relief when he spotted her where he had left her.


“What . . . what if I hadn’t been here?” He asked.


“The manager would have let me in.  I have a badge.”


His eyes seemed to lighten at that and she patted the seat beside her.


“Tell me why you left and why you didn’t say goodbye.”


“I . . . it seemed to be the best idea at the time.”


“Because of Bill?”


“He was saying what I already knew, what I’d told you.”  She sighed slightly.  “Are you okay?  Can I get you . . . “ Damn, he had nothing here, “some water?”




He rose then and moved toward his kitchen.  She had come here, looking for him.  This was insane, why did she not get who he was?  Did she not realize . . . He was supposed to be the psychologist, but he was . . .why had he sent the cab away?  He should throw her out.  But even as the thought formed, he knew it was an impossibility.


He dumped ice and water into a glass and returned to her.


“Scully, why are you here?”


“Why did you ask for Davis’ help on your last two cases?” She responded.


He took a deep breath, “I don’t give a shit about Davis’ reputation.”


“Why do you care so much about mine?”


He didn’t have a clear, an easy, answer for that.  “Maybe, maybe it’s not your reputation.  Maybe it’s you.”




“Scully, when you were missing, that day in the woods . . .” She nodded, they had never discussed that.  “It was like, like Samantha again.  I thought . . . Scully, I can’t go through that again.  If I don’t care about someone, I can’t -  “


“Get hurt?”


“I can’t have you as a partner.”


She looked at him for a long moment, then swallowed.  “So, I guess someone else will have my back.”


He looked away, she sat up straighter then, and moved to rise.




“I need to go home.”


“I’ll take you.”


“I don’t want to put you out.”


“You’re not putting me . . . Damn it, Scully!  I told you -  “


“Yes  you did.  I should have listened.  I guess I got confused when  you showed up at the hospital.  Why did you come?”


He just stared at her, not answering, then rose himself and moved to the other side of the room, near his desk.  She watched him and jumped when he slammed his fist against the desk.


She again started to rise and he moved swiftly to confront her, caging her on the couch with his arms, but not touching her.  She was frightened a little at the intensity of his look, as though committing every inch of her face to permanent memory.

Then she realized she was doing the same.


Neither would ever know who made the first move.  It was as though they were one person, moving so in synch, as their lips melded into each other.  She parted her lips first, welcoming him into her, as he probed, tasted and explored her.  Then she demanded her turn without a word.


She was gasping when they broke apart, his arms no longer merely caging, but holding her.  Her own arms were around him as well, her fingers entwined in his dark hair.




She smiled then and he was able to breathe.  She had thought nothing could compare to the kiss they had shared in the forest.  She’d despaired of ever having the opportunity to compare.  He looked frightened.


“I . . . Scully, I’d, I’d offer to let you stay here tonight, but I don’t have a bed.”


“You don’t have a bed?”


“I . . .” he managed to smile, “I usually sleep here.”


She looked away, mainly to hide the tears that simple statement had brought to her eyes.  It made him catch his breath, had she changed her mind?  Was she sorry she’d allowed the kiss?


“Mulder, maybe you’re right.  Maybe we shouldn’t work together.”


His muscles clenched and his stomach roiled.  He didn’t dare speak.


“Could you take me home now?”


He swallowed, trying to master himself.  He should get her home.  She shouldn’t even be out of the hospital.  “Sure.”  He stood and moved toward his shoes.  He shoved his feet into them and returned to help her off the couch.


“You need to get some things.”


Things?  What did she mean?


“Toothbrush, a change of clothes.”


“Wh . . . what?”


“I do have a bed.”


He blinked at her, “You just . . . you just said - “


“That I didn’t think we should work together.  I know.”


“But . . . I don’t . . . “


“Just get your things and let’s go.  I’m really getting tired.”


“Oh, yeah.”  He moved then, hurrying to gather up the things she mentioned.  He tossed them into a gym bag.  He returned, she did look tired.  “You ready?”


She nodded and he helped her to her feet.  She seemed to need his support even more and that worried him.  He seated her in the car and tossed the bag in the backseat.


“My apartment is -  “


“I know where it is.  Just relax.”


She looked at him for a moment, then reclined the seat slightly and took his advice.


He found her apartment with no problem.  He’d never been there but that hadn’t kept him from looking it up.  She was asleep when he pulled up to her place.  He hated to wake her, but she’d be more comfortable in the bed.  He moved around to her side, grabbed his bag and opened her door.


“Scully?  You’re home.  Do you want me to carry you?”


“Mmm, no.” She stretched and winced slightly.




“I’m okay.”  But she allowed him to help her to her feet and support nearly all of her weight to get her inside.  He took the key from her trembling hand and opened the place.


“You are far from okay.”


“Maybe I’ve pushed myself a little too hard, but I’m just tired.”


He kicked the door shut and led her into her bedroom.  He seated her on the bed and removed her shoes.  “Do you want me to undress you?”


She managed a tired smile.  “I can handle it, if you’ll just hand me a gown.”


He hesitated, but then nodded and opened the drawer she indicated.  He pulled out a simple beige gown, tea length, with a sage green flower embroidered on one shoulder.


She tried to rise and he had her arms around her again.  He helped her to the bathroom, then retreated to the bedroom to wait for her.  He turned down the bed and glanced around the room.  It looked like her, not frilly, but enough feminine touches to make it hers.


He glanced up as the bathroom door opened and moved quickly to her side.  She made no pretense of being able to walk alone and his concern grew.  “Scully, let me call an ambulance.”


“I’ll be fine.  I just need to rest.  Stay with me?”


“Until you fall asleep.  Then I’ll sleep on the couch.”




“I don’t want to hurt you.”


“You won’t.”  She sank into the bed, her eyes already closing.  She was right, he would never hurt her.  If she wanted him next to her, then that’s where he’d be.  He didn’t have any idea what she was thinking - hell it didn’t matter.  He was where he had to be.


He slipped off his shoes, then grabbed his bag and retreated to the bathroom himself.  He hurried to change and then moved to the bed.  He crawled in carefully, not wanting to disturb her.


Her eyes opened a little, “Mulder.”  He took her carefully into his arms and she relaxed against him, falling on to sleep.