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.
"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.
"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."