Family (NC-17)

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Family - Part 1

 

Mulder looked up as Scully entered the room. "I thought you were going to lunch with your mother."

"So did I. She stood me up." Scully slipped off her coat.

"That doesnít sound like your mother."

"I know." She picked up the phone and dialed her motherís number again. "Still no answer. I wonder if she had trouble with the car. I am definitely getting her a cell phone for Christmas."

Mulder grinned, Maggie Scully with a cell phone? He couldnít really see it. "Hey, did you eat?"

"What? Uh, no."

"Look, why donít we go grab a bite and then run by your motherís house?"

"Would you mind?" Well, she was more concerned than she wanted to let on. It caused a touch of unease to tighten his chest. Mrs. Scully was very special to him Ė his second favorite Scully in the world.

"Course not. Come on. Weíll go get her first, then go get lunch." He decided not to comment on the small sigh of relief she tried to hide from him.

He pulled up in front of Mrs. Scullyís home and caught Scullyís frown. "What?"

"I think her carís in the garage." She was undoing her belt and getting out of the car.

"Scully, wait." He was decidedly uneasy now.

"What?"

"Letís just take it easy, okay?"

"Why?" Her voice trembled ever so slightly.

"You know me, Iím probably being paranoid. I just want us to keep our eyes open." She nodded.

The car was in the garage. Scully let them in the house with her key. They stood silent for a moment listening. Nothing.

"Mulder?" She whispered.

"Iím just being crazy. Letís just see if sheís here." She nodded and headed for the stairs. He turned toward the kitchen. Nothing out of place, no dishes in the sink. The back door was locked, deadbolted, but the door to the garage wasnít. Was that normal? He turned to check out the rest of the downstairs when he spotted her purse.

Maybe it was an extra, and sheíd transferred everything to a different purse. His mother had done that a lot, always had a purse to match her shoes. He opened it and that hope died. Her wallet was there, license, cash, credit cards. Shit! Something was wrong.

"Mulder!" His head jerked around. Scully? He raced for the stairs. "Sheís not here, but somethingís wrong."

"What?" He looked around.

"The bedís not made. She always makes the bed when she gets up, before anything else. It was a rule, so we wouldnít lay back down in the mornings. I donít think any shoes are missing either, even her slippers are under the bed."

Try as she might, her breathing was becoming more rapid, and the pitch of her voice was rising.

"We canít jump to conclusions Scully."

"What have you got?" She reached for the purse heíd forgotten in his haste to reach her. She searched through it, then looked up at him.

"Somebodyís taken her Mulder."

"We donít know that."

"Yes we do. You knew it when we drove up. Why else would her keys still be in here. Mulder, we have to find her."

"Iím going to call the police, have them get a team over here."

"Canít we. . . ?"

"No. Weíre too close. We can help, we need to help, but someone else needs to lead the investigation."

"Mulder. . . "

"Donít worry. Your motherís a Scully. People donít come any stronger than that." He smiled at her. She attempted to return the smile, but couldnít sustain it. He squeezed her shoulder, then pulled out his cell phone and placed the call.

"Theyíre on the way. We need to look around, but not disturb anything."

"I know the drill, Mulder. Letís get started." He still stayed beside her, she was trying, but she wasnít okay. Together they covered the upstairs rooms. Scully could find no clothes missing and nothing was out of place in any room, except for the unmade bed.

When the police arrived, Mulder brought them up to date and allowed them to take over the investigation. They were reluctant at first since Mrs. Scully had not been missing twenty-four hours, but the evidence of the purse and Mulderís not so subtle persuasion convinced them that there was indeed a case to investigate.

While one of the officers interviewed Scully, Mulder wandered back into the kitchen and out into the garage Ė the one door that had not been deadbolted. He glanced in the car, no garage door opener that he could see. Heíd have to ask Scully about that. He walked around the car and spotted a few drops of liquid on the concrete. Oil? He bent for a closer look and lightly touched his gloved finger into one of the drops.

His heart sank, blood. Definitely blood. This was the first evidence of foul play. The drops led vaguely in the direction of the trashcan, so he stood and opened the can. The smell of blood was powerful. He let his eyes scan the trash, not wanting to disturb evidence, but. . .

Down a couple of layers he saw color peeking through and carefully reached in. A throw pillow, it matched the couch in the living room where he and Scully had sat several times watching TV following a home cooked meal. He lifted it and had to close his eyes. One side was drenched in blood; the other had a small hole with gunpowder surrounding it. Someone had been shot through this pillow and he had a pretty good idea who. How the hell did he go back inside and tell her this?

He stepped to the door and called to the officer in the kitchen. "I need an evidence bag."

"Yes sir." He brought one over and whistled as Mulder placed the cushion inside. They exchanged a wordless look, and Mulder headed to the living room where Scully was still talking to the detective in charge.

One look at his face had her on her feet. "Mulder? What, whatís wrong?"

He took her arm before he answered, which caused her eyes to widen with fear. "Scully, we canít jump to conclusions, but. . . but I found this in your motherís garbage inside the garage." He drew the bag from behind his back letting her see but not touch it.

He watched the color drain from her face. The detective took the bag from him and he grabbed her other arm as her knees buckled. She didnít pass out, but he lowered her to the couch and gently eased her head down. Her grip on his arm had become painful, but he didnít care.

When she could speak she looked up at him. "My motherís dead, isnít she?"

"We donít know that Scully. We have to have this analyzed." He couldnít tell if she understood the words. Her eyes were so bleak, so empty. "Scully, please."

"What am I going to do? How can I tell Bill and Charlie?" Mulder cringed himself at that. Having Bill here? And Bill would find a way to make this his fault. But what was the motive? Nothing had been taken; there was still cash in her purse. She was obviously not involved in anything illegal, though this was beginning to look like a hit. Wait, wait! It hadnít been determined that her blood was on the pillow. But it was.

He realized that Scully was watching his face. Reading him. She had taken hold of his hand and her knuckles were white. "Try to relax Scully. Donít jump to any conclusions."

"Mulder," He looked up and recognized Detective Waltos, the man in charge of the investigation when Skinner had been accused of murder. "Can I speak to you a minute?"

Mulder looked back at Scully. She nodded and forced her hand to release his. They retreated to the kitchen, leaving a uniformed cop in the room with her. "I just want to go over what weíve found." He got the attention of the other police in the room. "Look, weíre running on empty here, we have one piece of evidence and Spoo. . . sorry, Mulder found that for us. I want this house gone over with a fine toothed comb. Especially the garage. Prints?" He turned to one of the men in front of him.

"Weíve lifted a lot, but havenít run them through yet. I donít think weíre going to find anything. This was too clean." Mulder nodded in agreement there.

"Well run them anyway. Did she give us her motherís blood type?"

The first detective on the scene flipped through his notes, "Yeah, A+. The pillow is already on its way to the lab. Weíll know the type soon, donít know how long the rest of it will take."

"Okay." He took Mulderís arm pulling him from the group as they turned back to whatever they had been doing. "Look, I know you, youíre going to come up with some weird theory any minute. I want in on it, no matter what. I want to be kept in the loop with you."

"You will be. Iím not in charge of this one. Iíll be working on it, but itís too close. She has to be my priority." The detective nodded. "I need to call Skinner."

Detective Waltos sighed and turned back to his own people while Mulder dialed. "Angie, itís Mulder, I need to talk to him now. Itís an emergency." There was a short pause.

"Mulder, whatís going on? I was in a meeting."

"Scullyís mother is missing and it looks like foul play."

"Come again? Scullyís mother?"

"Yeah, she missed an appointment with Scully, so we came over to check. Sheís gone but everything else is here, car, ID, cash. I found a cushion covered with blood in the garbage, a bullet hole through it."

"Is Scully alright?"

"Hell no. The police are here now."

"What do you need from me?"

"Nothing yet, but Iíll let you know. Iím not sure when weíll be back in the office."

"Keep me informed Mulder, and tell Scully Iím thinking about her." Mulder disconnected and turned back to Detective Waltos.

"Do you need anything else from us? I need to get her out of here."

"No, I know where to reach you. Donít forget to keep me up to speed Mulder, Iím serious." He nodded and headed back to the living room.

Scully looked up as though her radar had detected him. Her eyes were red and swollen now. His heart ached for her. "Where have you been?"

"I called Skinner. Whatever we need, weíve got." She nodded and continued shredding the tissue in her hand. "Come on, Iím going to take you home."

"No! No, I need to be here."

"Weíll be in the way, Scully. They know what theyíre doing and Detective Waltos is in charge."

"But. . . "

"You need to get out of here. Iím taking you home." She seemed to have zoned out, so he helped her to her feet and walked her to the car. He had the impression of moving a large doll, no resistance, but no cooperation either. He sat her in the car and reached across her to buckle her in.

He spent more time watching her on the ride to her apartment than he did the road. This was not the reaction he had expected from her. She was always so in control, but look how he had been when his father had been murdered practically in front of him. At one point she lifted her hand as though to reach for him and he took it eagerly. She was cold, her fingers icy. Definitely going into shock. He needed to get her settled somewhere and see what he could do for her.

Once at her apartment he parked, but she didnít seem to notice. He again was moving her, helping her walk. He let them into the apartment and sat her on the couch. He pulled the afghan from where it had been draped across a chair and wrapped it around her. No response. Then he headed to the kitchen and made her a cup of tea with a generous dollop of honey. He needed to warm her up, get her functioning again.

"Scully?" He wrapped her hands around the mug of tea. "You need to drink some of this."

She blinked, seeming to notice the tea for the first time, then looked around the room. "When did we get here?"

"Just a few minutes ago. I think youíre going into shock Scully. Please drink the tea. I need to warm you up." She dutifully took a sip, but seemed to appreciate the warmth in her hands more.

"Iím sorry. I didnít mean to go away like that."

"Itís okay Scully. You needed to shut down for a little while." She pulled the afghan tighter around her and he moved closer to her on the couch. She leaned against him, neither speaking and he put his arm around her. What could he do to make this better? In reality, nothing, but god how he wanted to try.

"I need to call the boys. Bill and Charlie." He winced inwardly at that. Call Bill? He couldnít even offer to help there, getting this news from him would send Bill into orbit.

"You could wait until we have more news."

"No. They need to know whatís going on. And they need to be here, in case we have to make. . . arrangements." Mulderís arm tightened around her, but he kept quiet.

She sat the mug on the table and picked up her mobile phone, dialing Billís number from memory. "Tara? Hi, itís Dana. Is Bill there by any chance? Can I speak to him?" She looked up at Mulder and tried to smile. He tucked the hair back behind her ear and made no comment, just watching her.

"Dana? What are you calling about in the middle of the day?" Mulder could hear his booming voice with no problem.

"Bill, Iím sorry to call you like this, but itís Mom. Sheís missing and, and there is evidence of, of foul play. I think you need to come in."

"What do you mean foul play? Missing? Is this another Melissa thing? God, what have you and that fucking partner done now!"

"Bill!"

"I swear if you two have put her in danger or caused her harm. . ." He left the threat dangling, but Scully had gone dead white. The phone slipped from her hand and landed on the couch. Mulder grabbed it up and started to reply but one look at her stricken face was enough. He turned the phone off without a word and pulled her into his arms.

"Scully, forget the bastard. Heís upset and angry and didnít know what he was saying. Look at me Scully, thatís not what happened here."

"What if it is?" She barely whispered the words.

"Scully, no. Donít do this. You know Bill, donít let him get to you." Her eyes were so big and wet and full of pain. Why had Bill done that to her? Why would anyone intentionally hurt this woman? They sat in silence for a moment or two, then Scully rose from the couch.

"Where are you going?"

"I just need to splash some water on my face."

"Scully?"

"Iíll be okay." He watched her leave the room, her hand touching the furniture and walls as though she would lose her balance and fall if not in contact with something solid. He could wring Billís neck, and enjoy the hell out of it!

He heard the water, then the toilet flushed and water again but still she didnít return. What was she doing in there? He waited a couple more minutes, still nothing. He rose and stood at the door, finally tapping on it. "Scully?" No answer, should he go in? Hell, should or not he was going to. He turned the knob and slowly opened the door.

He spotted her immediately, sitting on the floor under the window, her back against the wall, her knees drawn up with her arms pressing them into her chest. She was shaking violently.

"Oh Scully." He joined her on the floor, pulling her into his lap. He rocked her like a baby, murmuring in her ear, trying to comfort her.

"What if Iíve killed my mother, Mulder? How do I live with that?"

"Scully, donít do this to yourself."

"But Billís right, Melissa would be alive except for me and now. . . "

"Melissa might be alive instead of you, how would I live with that Scully? You canít do this. We still donít know that the whole thing isnít a set-up."

"You know that was her blood. I should never have come to the FBI, I should have been a pediatrician or something."

"And what would I have done?" She looked up at that, heíd said it so softly.

"You would have been better off too." He shook his head and gave her a sad smile.

"You know better than that." Her trembling had lessened and her breathing was only hitching occasionally now. "Whatever we have to get through, Iíll be here. You know that donít you?"

She nodded.

"I want you to lie down for a little while. Do you have anything here to help you sleep?"

"I couldnít sleep, not now."

"I donít expect you to, just something to relax you, let you get a little rest. Youíll feel better and think clearer."

"Would that be a good thing?"

He gave her a sad smile, "I donít know."

"I have to call Charlie."

"No. Iíll do it. Iím serious, you need to lie down. Let me look after you for a while."

"You always do." He barely heard her.

"Not well enough. Come on." He got her on her feet, but kept his hand on her while he rummaged through her medicine cabinet. "Here, some of that PM medicine. I seriously doubt itíll put you out. Donít argue with me, Scully."

She finally nodded, leaving her protests mute. She swallowed the capsules and turned toward her bedroom. She sat on the side of her bed and seemed at a loss as to what to do next.

Mulder knelt in front of her and removed her shoes, then rose and helped her out of her jacket. He became aware she was watching him.

"What Scully? Spinach in my teeth?"

"Thank you for being here."

"Do you think I could be anywhere else? Lie down, try to rest. Iíll call Charlie." She obeyed him, not taking her eyes from his face. He pulled the covers over her and kissed her forehead. "Iíll be in the next room. Call me if you need anything." She nodded and watched him leave the room.

He pulled the door nearly closed and let his shoulders sag. If Mrs. Scully were dead what would happen? Would Bill be able to get her to leave him? He would play on her guilt Ė real or imagined Ė and try to rip them apart. Bill wasnít above using a tragedy like this to drive a wedge between them.

Charlie. Heíd never met him. Did he hate him as much as big brother Bill? Well, this wasnít about him. He had to spare Scully any more pain right now. He pulled her address book from her top desk drawer and opened to the Sís. Charles Scully, he checked his watch. He should be at work now. Mulder chose that number and dialed.

"Charles Scully please. This is Fox Mulder."

Very quickly a man picked up the phone. His voice didnít have the booming command quality of his older brother. "Mulder? Fox Mulder? Is everything okay? Dana?"

Mulder liked him better immediately; this one was actually worried about his sister. "Scullyís, sorry, Danaís okay. Iím with her here, but I do have some bad news for you."

"Go ahead."

"Itís, well itís your mother."

"Momís sick?"

"Sheís missing, and thereís evidence at the house of foul play."

"Foul play? You mean as in, as in murder?" His voice had gone up an octave.

"Thereís been no body found, so sheís presumed missing at this time, but there was blood and evidence of a gunshot. Iím terribly sorry to have to call you."

"Why didnít Dana call me?"

Mulder cleared his throat, "After she spoke with Bill I thought it would be better if she rested for awhile."

"What did that SOB say this time? Nevermind, I can guess. Listen, Iím Charlie and Iím not. . . Bill and I donít have a lot in common. I appreciate you looking after Dana. Iíll see when the next shuttle is and get down there. I assume I wonít be able to stay at the house."

"Right. Itís being considered a crime scene. Would you like me to get you a room?"

"No, I can do that. You just keep an eye on Dana, and Mulder, donít let Bill get to you. Heís got his own problems, donít take them on yourself. Not easy advice to follow I know, it took me years, but it can be done."

"I look forward to meeting you Charlie. I just wish. . . "

"I know. I kept telling Mom Iíd finally meet you at the wedding."

"Wedding?"

"The one Momís been planning. . . nevermind. Iíll be there in a couple of hours. Thanks for calling." Charlie broke the connection and Mulder sat there looking at the phone. Well, three out of four Scully children werenít bad Ė better odds than those Mulder kids.

He walked softly to her door and when he heard nothing, went into the kitchen and fixed himself a sandwich. Heíd feed her when she woke up; they never had made it to lunch. After eating he called the station, but the only new information was that the blood on the pillow was indeed A+.

Mulder was zoned out on the couch having been unable to find anything on TV. Why didnít she have the Sci Fi channel on her cable? The knock on the door startled him and brought him back to the present. Charlie couldnít have gotten here that fast, and thank goodness Bill couldnít. He rose and looked through the peephole. Father McCue?

He opened the door. "Iíve come to see Dana. Is she here?"

"Yes, sure, come on in. Sheís lying down."

"I donít want to disturb her, could I wait a little while."

"Of course. How did you . . . ?"

"Her brother Charles called me. Do you have any more news?"

Charlie, he really was different than Bill. Mulder offered the priest a seat on the couch. "No, nothing yet."

"Maggie is a wonderful woman, Iíve been praying for her." Mulder didnít really have a response to that and was saved from having to make one as the bedroom door opened.

"Father McCue?" The priest rose and took her hands.

"Charles called me, he thought I might be able to be of some help."

"That was good of both of you. Thank you." She looked over at Mulder, but he shook his head. The priest smiled faintly, heíd heard Maggie often talk about their communication abilities. These two young people were very close, it was obvious.

"Scully, while you and Father McCue visit, why donít I go get some dinner? You didnít have lunch and -"

"Youíre going to leave?" She hadnít meant for it to come out like that, but the thought of him not being there was somehow frightening to her. That was silly, she shook herself a little.

"No, I donít have to go. I could have something delivered. What do you think you could eat?"

"That was stupid, Mulder. Of course you can go. Get whatever you want, Iím not hungry." The priest watched this interplay between the two of them and his estimation of Mulder rose when he responded.

"Iíll be in the kitchen placing the order. Do you like Italian, Father?"

*****

Family - Part 2

 

Mulder was decidedly uncomfortable here. He wasn't used to being in a family group like this. He'd never had many family ties to begin with, even when he was very young and his family had only shrunken over the years, where Scully's had expanded in most directions.

And heíd tried to talk her out of the memorial service at this time anyway. It was too soon, they didnít have a body. Now, watching the family, he thought he might have been mistaken. They needed this closure to get on with their lives. He couldnít dispute the evidence of all that blood and Scullyís logical mind couldnít listen to his possibilities. Not this time.

Charlie's wife Mary had arrived with their kids, two boys who were all over the place and Tara was here with Matthew. He'd met her before, when Emily had died, and Matthew was born. He hadn't spent any time with her - Bill would have had his head. It had been all Bill could do to allow him into his home.

He watched Scully mingle around the room. This gathering was keeping her busy, her mind off of what was going on. She was holding Matthew, smiling at the people who had come to pay their respects. She looked so natural with the baby in her arms. It wasn't right that they, that she, couldn't have one of her own.

She looked over and saw him watching her. It warmed her, having him here. He did look uncomfortable, he'd probably rather be in the sewers with flukeman than here with so much family around. He was here for her. She was the only reason he would put himself through this. Scully felt herself drawn to him and headed across the room.

"You doing okay Mulder?"

"Don't worry about me." He grinned at her. A commotion from the next room caused her to turn. Something obviously needed her attention. She thrust Matthew into his arms and was gone before he could articulate his protest.

He and Matthew eyed each other suspiciously. Mulder wasn't entirely sure which one of them was going to burst into tears first. He tentatively bounced the baby on his hip and Matthew decided that possibly he wasn't totally evil, and smiled at him. Then he reached up and grabbed Mulder's nose. Great, Mulder thought, point out just how big it is. The baby chortled at his expression and pulled on his nose. Well, maybe they were friends now; at least he hadn't screamed.

"What the hell are you doing with my son!" Bill was before him and grabbed Matthew from his arms. The baby began crying at the sudden harsh change. "What did you do to him?"

"Nothing, I. . . "

"Bill, Mulder didn't hurt Matthew, you did when you jerked him out of his arms."

Bill's expression burned into Charlie and Mulder winced though Charlie didn't. Bill turned back to Mulder. "I want you out of here. You don't belong here, you're not family. Hell, you're probably the cause of all of this. Get out!" His voice had risen louder than the baby's cries.

"Bill, you're making a scene."

"A scene! You're worried about a damn scene! Our mother's dead, just like Melissa and you want me to calm down and make nice, with him! Go to hell, Charlie." Everyone was watching them now and Bill had made no move to comfort his now screaming son. Tara approached him cautiously, he'd been a powder keg since Dana's call, and took Matthew from him. She looked apologetically at Mulder, then away quickly so Bill wouldn't see. Mulder looked around for Scully but she hadn't returned. Good, at least she hadn't had to witness this.

Mulder silently headed for the door. Charlie caught up with him and took his arm. "Don't leave Mulder."

"It'll just upset him more if I stay."

"What about Dana?"

Mulder shook his head and went on out.

When Scully returned to the room Charlie was watching her. Her head went up instantly as though she sensed his absence. She spotted Charlie and made her way across the room to him.

"Have you seen Mulder?"

"He, uh, he left."

"Left? He wouldn't, what happened?""

"Bill. Bill asked him to leave."

"He what? No!" She was headed back across the room to the door before he could speak.

The car, it was still there. He hadn't left yet. She hurried out and opened the passenger door, startling him. "Are you okay?"

"Scully, what are you . . . "

"Why were you leaving?"

"I wasn't leaving. I just came out to get some air." She looked at him, the seat was reclined and the keys weren't even in the ignition. He hadn't been leaving, just getting out of the way. He wouldn't leave her. She relaxed back into her seat.

"Scully, you need to go back in. It's too cold out here."

"No, I'd rather stay with you."

He frowned at her, then brought his seat back up and removed his own coat, putting it around her shoulders.

"Thanks." They sat in silence after that. In a few minutes she reached out and took his hand. He smiled at her and squeezed it.

They were both startled when the overhead light came on once again and Charlie sat down in the back seat.

"Charlie?" They both turned to look at him.

"Couldn't have you two steaming up the windows in my mother's driveway while we have company. I came to chaperone."

"Charlie."

"Actually, I prefer the company out here." She smiled at him then and the three sat together in a comfortable silence.

That silence was broken when the door opened a third time and Tara slipped into the seat beside Charlie.

Mulder turned to her. "Is Matthew okay?"

Matthew? Scully frowned, just what had she missed?

"He's fine. I just wanted to apologize."

"There's no need - "

"Yes there is. I grew up with nothing but rifts in the family. Brothers and sisters not speaking because of arguments that happened so long ago no one remembers what they were fighting about. I don't want that for my family."

"You're safe there, I'm not family." Mulder offered.

Tara looked over at Scully, then at Charlie. "Yes, you are Mulder."

Mulder looked at her, ready to protest, when he saw Charlie's nod at him and Scully squeezed his hand again. Family? He was part of all of this? Well, yeah, but. . .

"It's getting cold out here, why don't we all go back inside." Charlie suggested, looking at both of the women.

'"I'm not sure it's a good idea for me. . . " Mulder didnít want to cause trouble, but he couldnít leave. She needed him.

"You could hang out in the kitchen. That's not a room Bill usually frequents. And besides, Father McCue took him off upstairs somewhere." Tara smiled.

"Come on, it is cold Mulder." Okay, if Scully wanted to go in and wanted him nearby that's what would happen. All four of them headed in the back door. Mulder settled himself at the kitchen table. It wasn't long before Charlie's boys found him there.

When Scully checked on him next the boys had settled in next to him and were pumping him for information.

"But if it's a real ghost, what good does it do to carry a gun?" The older boy was asking. Scully stood silently in the door, smiling. How in the world had they gotten on that topic and how was Mulder handling it?

"Your parents will kill me if they think I've been talking to you about ghosts."

"Nah, Dad's cool and Mom's not bad. He tells us stories about you all the time."

"About me?"

"Yeah, you and Aunt Dana - how you solve weird mysteries and stuff. It sounds neat. Are you wearing your gun now?"

"Well, huh. . . " Scully backed away without making her presence known. A little hero worship wouldn't hurt Mulder. In fact it was probably the best thing for him. She would have to see what kind of things Charlie was telling the boys, but she was confident it had been considerably watered down in any case.

Eventually the crowd thinned and the family found itself alone except for Bill who had not reappeared. Scully gathered up some plates and headed for the kitchen.

Mary took the dishes from her, "Dana, you've done enough. Let Tara and I clean up. You go sit."

"I can help. . . "

Charlie had taken her arm. "You heard the commander. Go." He leaned over and kissed Mary, "I'll put the boys to bed."

"Thanks." She kissed him back and turned to the sink.

Scully watched them then let Charlie lead her from the room. "You and Mary are good, aren't you?"

"Very good. She's my best friend. No one understands me like she does." He turned to see what she was looking at and spotted Mulder helping the boys gather up some of the left over food.

He leaned down and brushed a kiss across his sister's cheek. "Yes."

"What?" She focused back on him, but he only smiled, making no further comment to her.

"Okay guys, it's late. Come on, take that stuff to the kitchen, kiss your mother goodnight and get moving. Hustle." He took the dishes out of Mulder's hands and followed the boys into the back.

"You doing okay?" Mulder approached her.

"Yeah. Could you give me a lift home?"

"I thought you'd be staying here."

"No, I need to be home for a while."

"No problem, I'll get our coats." He left her, grateful for an excuse to leave and still be with her.

He walked her to her door and watched as she let herself in. "You want some coffee?"

At that he followed her in, "No, I'm fine. I should be heading home myself."

"Not yet." She took his coat and hung it in the closet, not throwing it across the chair, then led him to the couch and sat beside him. Close beside him. What was this?

"Mulder, donít leave yet." His eyes widened, what was she saying? She leaned in closer and her lips met his. He was too stunned to move, Scully was kissing him?

Her hand was now resting on his chest, practically burning a hole in it and her thumb moved to find his nipple and caress it. He felt his groin tighten in appreciation.

"Scu. . . Scully, how much did you have to drink tonight?"

"One glass of wine."

"One?" What was going on?

Scully sighed, but smiled at him too. "Mom was right."

"About what?" He felt he was really on thin ice here.

"That you would never make the first move toward me."

He gaped at her. She had discussed this, him, with her mother? She smiled, reading that expression with no problem.

"I'm going to change. Why don't you get comfortable?"

Get comfortable? What the hell did that mean? And where was the entrance to this parallel universe he must have fallen into? She left the room and he sat frozen, what was going to happen here? She didnít want him to leave. What did that mean, exactly?

He removed his tie, unbuttoning the top two buttons on his shirt. Okay, he was kind of comfortable, maybe.

She returned, wearing her robe and sank onto the couch next to him. "I need to tell you something Mulder." She plunged in before her fear could keep her from it. "I need you to know what you are in my life. I donít want to scare you away, and I know Iím stepping over a line here, but a few days ago my mother was alive and vital and healthy. And in the wink of an eye she was gone and Iíll never see her again. People can die so easily Ė you and I know that better than most.

"I watched Charlie and Mary tonight, the way they were with each other. He told me she was his best friend, the only one who really understood him."

Mulder nodded, he wasnít completely sure where this conversation was going, but he was in for the duration.

"It sounded familiar, it sounded right. Like I would want a relationship Ė a long-term relationship Ė to be. Then I thought about where youíve been the whole time this has been going on. Right beside me. No matter how uncomfortable you were." He looked surprised at that and she gave him a little smile. "Was that supposed to be a secret Mulder, that you were uncomfortable? Sorry, I knew. But you knew I needed you, so your comfort didnít matter to you, only mine did.

"Mom was convinced that you and I would end up together. I used to protest, but I didnít mean it. I wanted it to be true Ė someday. I need to know honestly, if you feel the same." Before he could respond she continued. "Donít say something you donít really feel Mulder. Iíll know and it would be harmful to both of us." She fell silent.

"My turn?" She nodded and ducked her head, suddenly unable to look him in the eye. He turned her face back up to him. "Scully, I watched Charlie a lot tonight too, how he was with Mary. I was so envious at times I probably scared other people in the room. He has what I want Ė his partner in life for everyone to see. But Iím not Charlie, I canít imagine making you as happy as he makes his wife. You know what Iím like, you know me so well, is there any way I could ever make you happy?"

At that the small doubt that had gathered on her face vanished to be replaced by the most beautiful smile heís ever seen. "You already do, Mulder, in ways you canít begin to understand and Iím not sure I could explain. But Iíd like to try. Do you suppose you could stay here again tonight?"

*****

He woke to the most incredible feeling of lightness. Something wondrous had happened, earthshaking, what? Then he felt her move within his arms where he was spooned around her and memory returned.

It had been the most incredible night of his life. But had it been for her? God, he'd fallen asleep, just passed out. What if she regretted. . . no please don't let her regret what had happened. Damn, this was worse than performance anxiety, which he hadn't admitted to, even to himself, last night. But what if, in the light of day, she was sorry she had allowed this to happen? What if she were embarrassed or. . . or . . .

His arms involuntarily tightened around her and she stirred, moving like a cat within his arms. She turned to look up at him and smiled. She smiled. He felt limp with relief, except for one part of him that had really taken her smile to heart.

Her eyes gleamed as that part of him grew against her, and she purred. His answering growl brought a light laugh from her and he began nibbling at her neck.

*****

The investigation had come to a stand still. There was just no new evidence to investigate. Detective Waltos had called Mulder twice already and Scully was beginning to feel the same frustration she had felt when Melissa died. He hated to see her suffering like that. He decided to step up his own involvement in the case.

He knew what evidence was on file, so he decided to concentrate on interviews. The neighbors remembered nothing when the police had talked to them, maybe now, with a little time passed something would have surfaced.

He began with the widow that lived next door. She was an older woman than Mrs. Scully and had relied on her for rides and occasionally groceries. Sheíd been devastated by her loss. "Oh, Mr. Mulder, Iíve thought and thought about that night. I know my hearing isnít the best, but I didnít hear or see a thing. Believe me, if I could help you find this monster, I would."

"I know you would Mrs. Weaver. I appreciate you seeing me."

Mulder stood and headed for the door. She accompanied him and opened the door for him. "Please tell Dana Iím thinking about her. You know, Iím just so glad that Bill got a chance to see his mother before she died."

Mulder stopped and turned back to her. "I beg your pardon?"

"Yes, Bill was here the weekend before she died. I saw him myself."

"I didnít realize heíd been in."

"Oh yes. I didnít get a chance to speak to him, but I saw him driving out one time. I remember being a little surprised heíd put a rental car in the garage and left his motherís outside."

"Yeah, that is a little strange. Well, youíre right, it is good that he got to see his mother again."

Mrs. Weaver nodded sadly and let him out.

Why had Bill been here the weekend before Mrs. Scully disappeared? And why hadnít he mentioned it? As he drove off he pulled out his cell phone.

"Yeah?"

"Langley, I need you to check out something for me."

"Sure." Langley removed his feet from the desk and cleared his laptop. "Go."

"I need you to find out if Bill Mulder was here the weekend before Mrs. Scully. . . "

"What are we looking for, Mulder?"

"Iím not sure, flight information, a rental car, anything like that. And Langley, he might have used an alias."

"For real?"

"Yeah. Listen, I need this yesterday."

"Weíre on it." Langley broke the connection.

Mulder pulled over, he needed to think. Why was he even checking into this? Why did he care if Bill had been here? On the other hand, why hadnít Bill mentioned it? Was he that worried about what Bill would do to them? Try to tear them apart? Or did he just dislike Bill as much as Bill disliked him? No, that wouldnít account for the feeling he kept getting when he thought about this.

*****

"Mulder." He answered the phone absentmindedly. He was buried in paperwork and didnít want to be bothered. Well, no that wasnít accurate, he definitely wanted an interruption, but he wanted it to be Scully and she was off with the attorneys.

"You need to get over here."

"You found something?" Frohikeís voice was so easily recognizable.

"We donít want to go over it on this line." And he hung up. Mulder was grimly amused; these guys made him look normal. But he stood and reached for his overcoat. They hadnít let him down very often.

He settled into the desk chair, "Okay guys, why am I here?"

"We think we located what you wanted. Bill was here that weekend, but not under the name Bill Scully."

Mulder tried to hide his excitement, what did it mean? "What name did he use?"

"William Davis."

"Davis? Why did that even catch your attention?"

"Well, it is Mrs. Scullyís maiden name."

Mulder sat up in the chair. "How do you know that? I donít even know that!"

"Yeah Mulder, like weíre going to tell all of our secrets to a G-man."

Mulder leaned back again, shaking his head. "Okay, why do you think this Davis is Bill?"

"The surveillance tape."

"What surveillance tape?"

"From the airport parking lot."

"How the hell did you guys get your hands on that?"

"We have friends." Langley responded.

"Geez, why do I ever bother trying to go through channels? Letís see it." He watched the tape carefully. "Rerun it."

"Why, Mulder? It doesnít get any clearer than that." Langley questioned.

"Rerun it anyway." After the second viewing Mulder let his head drop.

"Whatís going on Mulder? Do you think he killed his mother?"

"No!" His head came up instantly. "No, I do not think that. I donít want Scully to know anything about this."

"Sure Mulder. No problem."

"You better get this tape back to where it belongs."

"Donít you want to take it to the police?"

"Not like this. Let them subpoena it if they need it."

"What are you going to do?" Byers asked softly.

"I donít know." His eyes were locked on the blank TV screen.

*****

"Look, Waltos, I donít know what it means, and Iím not accusing him of anything, but I need to know why he was here. I canít ask, you can. But I want to hear what he says, see his face. Can you tape him without his knowledge?"

"It wouldnít be admissible."

"He didnít kill her."

"You sound awfully sure."

"I am. I just need to know why he was here. You can rattle him without accusing him of anything. I can only make him mad, put his back up. Then weíll never find out whatís going on. Come on, we need to get these answers. Itís personal."

"I know. Thatís what worries me." He shook his head, thinking. "Okay, Iíll ask him to come in. If he refuses, do I show my hand?"

"No. Iíll think of something. But I donít think heíll refuse."

*****

"I really appreciate you taking the time to talk to me Mr. Scully. I know this is a bad time for you and your family. Here, we can use this room. Theyíre finally repairing a leak in my ceiling, or Iíd take you to my office."

Waltos motioned to a chair at the table and poured Bill a cup of coffee from the carafe sitting there.

Bill nodded and took a sip. "I canít be gone long. We have to finish up with the attorney and . . . "

"Just a couple of things we need to tie up, sir." Waltos settled himself where Bill had to face the glass and the camera. They were alone in the interrogation room; Mulder waited behind the glass as far back as he could sit and keep a good view of Billís face.

"We were wondering why you were in town the weekend before your mother disappeared, under an assumed name. Could you clear that up for us?"

There would have been less reaction if the detective had hit him between the eyes with a fireplace poker. Bill struggled to regain his composure as Mulder watched with a sinking heart.

"I wasnít in DC that weekend."

"Uh, yes Mr. Scully. You were. Weíd like to know why and who you met with."

"Am I being accused of something?" Bill finally had his voice back, not quite to the usual booming pitch.

"Not at this time. However, we are going to clear up this little blip in our investigation, with or without your cooperation. Do you want to tell me why you were here under the name of William Davis?"

Bill stood, obviously shaken, but becoming defiant. "If Iím not under arrest, Iím out of here."

"Fine, Mr. Scully. At this time you are not under arrest, but do not leave town. We will be in touch." Waltos rose to his feet as well and watched as Bill left the room. Then he turned toward Mulder and shrugged.

Mulder was seated, slumped at the back of the room. Now what? He popped the tape from the VCR and waited for Waltos to give him the all clear. It didnít take long; Bill has apparently stormed from the building.

"Interesting, Mulder. You still convinced this guyís not involved?"

"I didnít say he wasnít involved, although he might not have known. Iím not convinced of anything right now." He turned then and hurried back to his office.

*****

Family - Part 3

 

He was playing the tape for the umpteenth time, trying to understand Billís reaction when the door opened and Scully walked in. He stabbed the stop button immediately, but too late.

"Mulder? Was that Billís voice?"

"Scully, I thought youíd be with the lawyers all day today."

"I was supposed to be, but Bill got called away, so we had to postpone it. Was that Bill?" One look at his face was enough to let her know he didnít want to get into this.

She approached him then, using his technique of invading body space. She literally stepped between his legs and placed one hand on the back of the chair, leaning over him. "Whatís going on Mulder?"

"Scully, please." It hadnít occurred to him that there would ever be a time he didnít want to have her this close. "Let me do some checking, then Iíll. . . "

She took the remote from his hand and turned toward the screen. She pressed play and heard Waltos voice asking why Bill had been in town under an assumed name. Billís reaction held her motionless.

"Scully?" He rose and sat her in his chair. She didnít protest even when he took the remote from her hand and again pressed stop.

"Whatís going on Mulder?"

"I donít know. Let me check into it. You donít need to get involved."

"Involved? Mulder, do you think Bill had anything to do with. . .?" She had to swallow hard, hanging onto her composure by her fingernails.

"Bill would never hurt your mother, Scully. I know that, you know it too. I donít know what he might have been caught up in. It might have nothing to do with your mother."

"The tape." She gestured toward the TV.

"Okay, it doesnít look real good right now. Waltos obviously caught him off guard, but we donít know from what. Hell, he could be having an affair and doesnít want Tara to know. It could be anything Scully. Donít jump to conclusions."

"Like you havenít?" She sounded distant, too distant for him.

"I havenít reached any conclusions Scully. Waltos wants to get to the bottom of this just like we do, he has to check everything out."

"I need to talk to Bill." She started to rise from his chair.

"No." She looked up at him then. He hadnít shouted, but the tone of his voice meant the same thing. "Scully, you are not going to talk to Bill about this. Not yet and not alone. Please Scully. Let me handle this. Promise me Scully."

"Mulder. . . "

"Promise me." He wasnít quite touching her, though he could have easily. He was afraid, what if she thought he would force her to do this, physically. He didnít dare go any farther, but he could feel the distance between them like a chasm. It took everything in him not to pull her into his arms.

"I wonít talk to him today Mulder. You can have that much time. Tomorrow Iím going to him. I have to know Mulder, I have to know.

After a moment he nodded. He started to speak again when the phone rang. He looked at her, then with an exasperated sigh he grabbed the receiver. "Mulder."

"We have some information. You need to come over." Frohike didnít bother to identify himself.

"Itís not a good time."

"Make it a good time Mulder. This is about what you had us working on. Youíll want to see this."

"Iíll be there as soon as I can." He hung up and turned back to Scully.

"It sounds like you need to be somewhere." She didnít look at him.

"I donít want to leave you."

"Itís okay. Iím fine." He winced at that. She couldnít know how much he hated hearing those words from her lips. "I wonít see Bill today, I said I wouldnít."

"Scully. . . "

"Go do what you need to do. Iíll talk to you later." She turned and left the office.

Talk to you later? Not see you? Shit, had Bill won after all? He grabbed his jacket and headed over to the Gunmanís apartment.

*****

"What are you dressed for?" Mulder gave Frohike the once over when he finally opened the door.

"Iím supposed to be a tourist. You know, a reason for the video camera."

"Come on guys, Iíve got someplace I need to be. What did you find?" He was getting a headache and wasnít able to get that defeated look on Scullyís face out of his mind.

Byers took over. "Mulder, we knew Bill was going in to be questioned. We were waiting to follow him when he left."

"You what?" That was dangerous and these guys werenít trained. The fact that they had done this without being asked, just for Scully and him caused a spasm of guilt in his chest.

"We thought youíd want to know where he went, what he did."

"So you guys followed him. Well. I donít know what to say, except you should be more careful."

"He never saw us, he was way too distracted."

"Okay, what happened?" They had his full attention now.

"Well," Langly joined the conversation, "he found the first public phone he could and made a call."

"Could you get close enough to hear?"

"No, but we did get close enough with the zoom lens. We got the phone number he called."

"You what?" He was on his feet. "Whose is it?"

"Thatís a little strange Mulder. Thereís absolutely no record of this number anywhere. Officially it doesnít exist. We havenít called it yet. We thought you should be here for that."

"How safe is it to call from your phone?"

"Safe as we can make it."

"Good I want to record the conversation."

"Weíre all set up. Do you want to talk, or do you want one of us to handle it?" Byers turned to him, ready to proceed however he wanted.

"One of you might be better. Who wants the honor?" The guys exchanged glances and turned back to Mulder. He grinned, these guys were a trip. He turned to Frohike, and nodded. "Ask for Jim."

Frohike nodded and after throwing a couple of switches, dialed the number. "Yes?"

"I need to talk to Jim." Frohike sounded impatient and angry. Langly grinned.

"Thereís no Jim here."

"Damn it Mildred, canít you even get a frigging message right?" Frohike growled at Langly and slammed down the phone.

Langly high-fived him. "You should have gone into acting bro. Beautiful!"

It was good that Mulder had allowed them to place the call. They turned to him then and saw him white faced, eyes closed, resting his head on the back of the chair.

The three of them sobered immediately. "Mulder? Who was it? Are you okay?"

"I donít know his name. Scully and I call him Cancer Man. Why in hell was Bill calling him? And how do I tell Scully?" He lowered his face into his hands. "Bill was involved in his motherís death. How does he live with that? How does Scully?"

*****

It was late when he arrived at her apartment. He still didnít have a clue how to break this news to her. He didnít even know if he was welcome inside. When he reached her door he started to knock, then stopped himself. Heíd been living here for nearly a week. What would it say if he were suddenly afraid to enter without her permission. He let himself in with his key.

"Scully? Are you here?" He hung his coat up and turned. There was no answer and that disturbed him. The lights were on. She should be here. He stuck his head in the kitchen and bedroom, then headed on to the bath. The door wasnít locked, so he went on in to find her soaking in the tub, eyes closed. The scent of her bathing oil and the steam in the room filled his head. How could he hurt her like this?

She opened her eyes as the cool air from outside hit her. "Mulder." He shut the door and came on in, sitting on the side of the tub. "I wasnít sure you were coming."

"Sorry. There was stuff I needed to do. That looks comfortable." Heíd imagined sitting here like this in so many cities. Would he ever get the chance again, after what he had to tell her?

"I donít think youíd fit, Mulder." She sighed, "Are you going to tell me what you were doing?"

"After a while, this is too good to disturb." She smiled, but couldnít hold it long. "You want some privacy?"

"No. Iím about ready to get out. The waterís cooling anyway." He dipped his hand in the water to test it. Barely tepid, sheíd been in here a long time. She held her hands out to him and he lifted her to her feet and when she stepped from the tub wrapped her in the big fluffy towel she had sitting on the wicker stand beside the sink.

"You smell good." He bent over her, and for an instant she felt protected. Too bad it couldnít last.

She dried off and donned her robe. "Hungry?"

"Not really. But if you want something, we could go out."

"No Mulder. I donít want to go anywhere." He trailed her out and found he had nothing to say. Nothing that he wanted to say anyway. She sensed his reticence and left it for now. Heíd tell her when he could, the fact that it was this hard meant it was bad news.

The ensuing dance they did around each other was as poignant as it was painful. She couldnít settle down, wandering around the apartment fighting between impatience that he wouldnít tell her what he had learned and fear that he would. He watched her with no idea of how to approach this subject.

He tensed as she returned to the living room from the kitchen once again. "Scully Ė "

She panicked. "Iím going to bed Mulder. Good night."

What was he supposed to do? He watched her all but run from the room. Did he follow her? Did she want him to leave? Well that was out, no way he could do that.

He gave her a few minutes, then went into the bedroom. Sheíd left the light on on his side of the bed. When he joined her he started to speak but she rolled away, turning her back to him.

"No." He placed his hand on her shoulder and gently turned her back toward him. "No, Scully. Iíve waited too many years to be in your bed."

"I canít Mulder."

"Iím not. . . Scully thatís not what Iím talking about. I donít want this distance between us. As long as weíve been friends, this is still new, weíre still new. I donít know what to say to you. I have information that will cause you pain, I know that." When she shuddered he did draw her close to him. "I canít stand the thought that weíre going to be damaged. Do you. . . do you want me to leave?"

She burrowed into his chest. "What did Bill do?"

"Scully, I donít think he did anything. I think he got in over his head. Your motherís death may have been a punishment, a warning."

"From who? What? What could he be involved in that would lead to this?"

He tightened his grip, taking in the scent of her, the feel of her hair against his face. He had drawn her into this conspiracy. He could have, should have, asked for her transfer years ago. He hadnít and now their lives were so intertwined even if he wanted to it wasnít possible. Hell, when she breathed he got oxygen.

He sighed, "When Bill left the police station, the first thing he did was find a phone booth. He made one call."

"Who Mulder?" Still he hesitated. Her arms tightened around him. "Tell me. I have to know."

"Cancer Man."

She thought sheíd been ready. She thought in his arms that it wouldnít be as bad. Sheíd been wrong. He felt her stiffen. "How. . . how would Bill know him?"

"I donít know. Iím going to find out Scully. Iím not going to let this go. I know where he lives. Iím going to talk to him tomorrow."

"Iíll go with you."

"No Scully. You canít. You know you canít."

"Mulder. . . "

"No. Let me handle this. Itís the best way." She started to pull away. "Please, Scully. Donít push me away."

She stopped and let him hold her. At first the tears came slowly but they gathered momentum. Finally, after years of wanting to, he was allowed to hold her as she lost control, sobbing into his chest. She cried herself to sleep in his arms and he held her, caressing her through her bad dreams. He might not be able to make it better, but heíd damn well be here trying.

*****

He closed the door behind himself and pulled the pack of cigarettes out of his pocket. That was when he heard the sound of a round entering the chamber.

"We need to talk."

He turned slowly. "Agent Mulder. If Iíd known I was going to have company Iíd have straightened up a little."

"Why did you kill Mrs. Scully?"

"Mrs. Scullyís dead? Iíd heard she was missing." That smug overconfident tone made Mulderís finger itch to do what heíd wanted to do to this SOB for years.

"What did she ever do? What did Bill do to make this happen?" He might have looked relaxed in the chair, but he was wound tight, ready to spring at this man that symbolized all evil in his life.

"Iím serious Mulder. I didnít hear she was dead."

Mulder heard the tone then, "Is she dead? Donít lie to me, because I really want to pull this trigger."

"The last time I saw her, she was very much alive."

"And when was that?"

"Not that long ago." Cancer Man was relaxing a little; Mulderís gun was no longer pointed directly at his heart. He still didnít want to make any moves, like sitting on the sofa across from Mulder, but it didnít look like his blood would be spattered all over the door any longer.

"There was too much blood found."

"I remember them saying the same thing about me. Did you know Mrs. Scully was a regular blood donor? Very civic minded woman."

For the first time Mulderís hand trembled. "If sheís alive where is she?"

"Safe enough. Iím very good with mothers Mulder. You didnít complain when I had your mother healed."

"Wha. . .what are you saying?" Heíd gone very still at those words. This man had something to do with his motherís recovery? Donít let him do this to you Mulder. Heís playing with your mind, stay on top, donít let him have the satisfaction.

"That youíre not showing the proper gratitude. Though I have to say, I healed her as much for me as I did for you. Your mother is an extraordinary woman. So is Mrs. Scully in her own way. Different, but extraordinary nevertheless."

Change the subject back! Donít dwell on this, you can think about it later. Get back to the subject at hand! "Youíre telling me Maggie Scully is alive. Are you holding her prisoner?"

"Sheís in my custody now, though thatís not how it started. Your Agent Scully has reason to be grateful to me as well."

"Where is she?"

"All in good time, Agent Mulder. Sheís safer with me right now than she would be in the loving arms of her daughter. Or her semi-loving son. Bill isnít as bright as his sister, or he lets his emotions get in the way too much. He really hates you Mulder. What is it you did to him to make him feel so strongly about you?"

"What is it you want from us?" Whatever it was, heíd get it. In order to give Scully back her mother, hell, if he wanted the X-Files, they were his. Mulder leaned back in the leather chair that was obviously Cancer Manís favorite. The smell of him was a permanent part of the furniture.

"Some people didnít understand your importance to the project, Agent Mulder. Using Bill Scully to try to destroy you was a pitiful attempt. Heís not man enough to handle the assignment and the people directing him are too shortsighted to be of any further use to us. Give me a couple of days, Fox. I think I can make this go away."

"How? How could you. . . what do you mean my importance to the project? Iíve been opposing you my whole life."

"Iím sure thatís how it looks to you. Go home Agent Mulder, or to Agent Scullyís apartment, and let me handle this."

He decided to ignore the reference to where he slept now. "You want me to trust you with Mrs. Scullyís life?"

"Did it sound like I was offering a choice?" Now he finished retrieving the cigarette heíd reached for earlier. "Give me 48 hours to clear up some loose ends. I give you my personal assurance that Mrs. Scully will remain where I can keep an eye on her. Killing me now would complicate things significantly."

Mulder released the tension on the trigger. "I want Mrs. Scully back."

"And I want the status quo for now. You will give me time to clean this up. Can I offer you a beer?"

Mulder snorted. "Why do you need 48 hours to return her?"

"I donít want this action, or one like it, repeated. I need to make some people understand my position and how seriously I take it."

Mulder stood. "48 hours. If sheís not home, I will find you. I wonít hesitate to kill you then." Cancer Man nodded but wisely did not extend his hand.

*****

Family - Part 4

 

Mulder drove around reluctant to go back to her apartment. He couldnít tell her this, he couldnít get her hopes up. But could he lie to her? She read him so well, better than anyone ever had. And now, as close as theyíd become. . . he had to pull this off. That was the bottom line. He didnít have a choice.

"Mulder?" She hurried into the living room as soon as she heard the key in the lock, her whole posture betraying how anxious she was.

"He didnít come home, Scully. Iíll have to go back. Iím sorry." She deflated like a balloon and he just hoped sheíd forgive him someday for the lie. It was to protect her, but would it look that way later. Hell, if her mother truly were returned to them sheíd forgive him anything. Concentrate on that.

It was fortunate Scully was as distracted and worried as she was. Mulder knew he would not be carrying this off if she had been on top of her game. He was edgy and nervous, but then so was she. And she had the added worry of knowing her brother for the snake he was now. She was barely coping with the knowledge that her own brother was involved with the very men who had caused her abduction, Melissaís death, and now possibly their motherís.

Mulder could see this in her willingness to sit quietly and be held by him. They didnít bother with conversation and this wasnít the time for sex, she just needed to know he was there with her for whatever came.

His cell phone woke them the next morning, early, before the alarm went off. "Mulder." He answered, grateful of his ability to sound awake when he wasnít even close.

"Waltos here, can you find your partner and get down to the morgue? Weíve got something here we need some help with."

"The morgue?" He glanced over at Scully. Had he been lied to? Were they coming down to identify Mrs. Scullyís body? Waltos read his question correctly.

"Itís not her. Come on down, Iíll wait." The connection went dead.

"Mulder?" She was sitting up, look down at him, the sheet falling into her lap and distracting him from what he needed to be thinking about. He forced his eyes up to hers.

"Detective Waltos wants us to meet him at the morgue. Itís not her Scully, he told me it wasnít her. Letís get ready." She held in the million or so questions she had, he couldnít answer them anyway.

Mulder held his hand to her back as they entered the cool white room. Detective Waltos approached them, nodding at Mulder. "Agent Scully." She shook the hand he offered. "Iím sorry to bring you down here so early, but you need to see this."

He led them to the far side of the room where an older man in a white lab coat joined them. "You know Dr. Grant?"

"Yes, weíve worked together before. What do you have?"

"Three bodies, Dr. Scully." Dr. Grant took over. He pulled the sheet back from the first body. White male, mid-30ís, 5í10", no cause of death visible from where she stood.

Detective Waltos looked at Mulder rather than at the body. "All three were found at the landfill, nude, one shot to the back of the head. Execution style."

"Why did you call us?" Mulder looked away from the body himself.

"Because of these." Waltos pulled out three evidence bags. "We think your mother was wearing a nightgown when she was taken, because you found no clothing missing."

"Thatís right." She sounded calm, matter of fact. But Mulder was watching her. The strain on her had been enormous. Maybe heíd helped a little with his presence, but she wouldnít let him take on more than he already was.

"Could this be pieces of that nightgown?"

Scully reached for the bags. "Where were these found?" Mulder moved closer to her.

"They were tied around the throat of each victim. Placed there after they were dead. This was definitely a professional hit. The bodies were cleaned after the murders. No trace evidence of anything except the landfill and they were dumped there. Itís certainly not where they were killed. Can you identify this Agent Scully?"

"I know Mom had a nightgown this color. She got it for her birthday. I need to go to the house to see if itís missing."

"Okay. If youíll get back to me? Do you need to see any more here?"

"No. I need to check this out. Mulder?" He followed her out, finally grabbing her arm, as she seemed about to break into a run.

"Scully."

"I need to know. Now!"

"I know. Just donít. . . "

"Donít what Mulder?" She wouldnít look at him, focusing instead on the hand he had on her arm.

"Bill had nothing to do with this. He couldnít have Scully he wouldnít know how to do this. Think about it Scully. Billís no killer. Heís not someone I enjoy defending, but he didnít kill these men and he didnít hurt your mother."

"Letís go to work. I need to think about something else." He nodded, maybe he could keep her distracted for awhile longer. At least she hadnít mentioned wanting to confront Bill again.

*****

Mulder had slipped on a pair of sweat shorts and was headed for the kitchen for a cup of coffee prior to his shower when he heard the knock. Scully didnít seem to have heard it so he turned toward the door and glanced through the peephole. He jerked the door open.

"Fox? Oh Fox!" Before she could say another word he had pulled her into his arms.

"Mulder, was that the door?" Scully froze in the doorway from the kitchen, her coffee mug shattering on the floor. "Mom?" It was only a whisper.

Then they were wrapped around each other, crying. Mulder guided them to the sofa and sat on the coffee table in front of them. Scully kept touching her mother, her face, her arm. Mulder wasnít sure sheíd gotten out a complete sentence since entering the room.

"But you were shot."

"What? No Dana, they never hurt me."

"It was your blood, I know it was yours."

"I donít. . . Dana they never harmed me in anyway. Your friend made absolutely sure of that."

"Friend?" That was Mulder.

"Yes, the man that rescued me. He knew you both so well, he said he worked with you."

Scully and Mulder exchanged looks. His mind wanted to work but her eyes, red from crying but filled with such joy, held him in stasis. He didnít care who it was right now; she had her mother back.

"What was his name Mom?" She needed something to ground her; maybe if she got to the bottom of this sheíd feel solid again. She needed to understand something.

"I donít know, he never said."

"Did he. . . did he smoke a lot?" Her voice was unsteady again and Mulder watched her lean closer to her mother.

"Oh yes. I got after him about it. Itís so unhealthy." Scully now looked over at him, but he didnít meet her eyes.

"You thought he was our friend?" Her voice was steadier now, a professionalism beginning to return.

"I assumed he worked at the Bureau, possibly a mentor to you, Fox. He spoke of you with such great affection, almost paternal. I never doubted you were looking for me. I thought you had sent him." Mrs. Scully was now obviously confused at their reactions.

"No, Mrs. Scully. We werenít looking for you. Evidence was left at your home. We. . . it was determined that you had been, well, murdered.

Scully spoke again then, "Mom, the boys were here. We had a memorial service for you. We thought. . . I should have listened to you, Mulder." She was clutching her motherís hand again.

"That, thatís why youíre so shocked to see me now? But your friend said he spoke to Fox. He said. . . " But Scully wasnít listening, now she was staring at Mulder in total disbelief.

"You knew? You knew she was alive and you didnít tell me! How could you do that? Mulder, how could you do that to me?"

"Scully. . . " He reached for her hand but she pulled away from him. "Scully please. I couldnít get your hopes up. Not on Cancer Manís word. I couldnít trust him. I couldnít tell you based on his word. Scully. . . " How could he made her understand, heíd been trying to protect her from more pain.

"Go get dressed Mulder. Weíll talk later." She sounded so formal, distant from him.

He looked down. Oh shit! He wasnít dressed, heíd been so wiped out by seeing Mrs. Scully and watching Scullyís joy. And that was her mother for godís sake. He could feel the heat in his face.

Mrs. Scully smiled gently at him. "Fox, give us a few minutes."

"Yeah." He rose from the table, "Scully, Iím sorry." He retreated from the room. What could he say to make her understand?

He dressed quickly but didnít return to the living room. He made the bed, no need for Mrs. Scully to see that, and made sure his clothing was hung up and put away. He shook his head again at his stupidity. He had opened the door and pulled the woman, who was for all intents and purposes his mother-in-law, into the apartment and hugged her, wearing only his sweat shorts. Good god almighty.

"Mulder?" Scully came to the door and tapped on it. That surprised him, it was her bedroom.

"Yeah." He opened the door to her immediately.

"Please come back, join Mom and me."

"Can you ever forgive me?"

She sighed, "Yes. Iím still furious at you, but Iím too happy to let you have it right now. We will talk about this." He nodded meekly and followed her into the living room.

Scully had cleaned up the mess from where she had dropped her coffee mug, and now had coffee for her mother and him. Her hands were nearly steady as she handed him his cup.

"I need to call Bill and Charlie. Theyíre not going to believe this." Scully mused as she turned to Mulder.

Mulder had been looking at Mrs. Scully as Scully spoke and saw her face tighten when Billís name was mentioned.

"Mrs. Scully, did Bill have anything. . . "

"I canít talk about Bill now, except to apologize to you, Fox. Iím ashamed that a son of mine could. . ." her voice trailed off.

"Mom?"

"Letís drop it. Iím very glad to be home and thatís what I want to concentrate on for now. Why donít you call Charlie and then Iíll get on the phone. I donít want to scare him to death."

"Probably a good idea." Scully reached for the phone. While she was dialing Mulder moved closer to Mrs. Scully to whisper.

"I donít want there to be problems between you and Bill because of me Mrs. Scully." He spoke very low and glanced over at Scully.

"Itís not because of you Fox. Heís done some unconscionable things. Things that hurt Dana and me as well as you. Iím not going to go into this with anyone but Bill. Fox, heís my son and I still love him, Iím just completely disillusioned at this time."

Mulder nodded, the details probably werenít important. He had a very good idea what had happened. Heíd no doubt learn more later anyway. "Look," he glanced away from her, at the floor, at the door, "about my being here."

"I have no doubt Dana needed you desperately to get through an incredibly trying experience. Sheís an adult, I just donít want you to hurt her."

"I never will on purpose, Mrs. Scully."

"Under the circumstances, " her look included the apartment, "why donít you call me Maggie. It looks like youíre part of the family already."

 

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Mulder, Scully, the Lone Gunman and Skinner all belong to Chris Carter, 10-13 and Fox. No infringement intended.