He stuck his head in the door to check and she turned in that direction.
“I thought you had left,” she sounded relieved to see him.
“No, just making myself scarce.”
She motioned for him to come on in. “I’m sorry, Mulder, for - “
“Don’t, don’t apologize. It’s not worth your energy.”
Ignoring his comment, she continued. “I don’t know why Bill is acting this way. He - “
“He loves you and he’s feeling protective. I certainly don’t blame him.”
“Well I do. There’s no reason to treat you . . . “ she stopped again at the shaking of his head.
“His sister is sick and he’s concerned and upset. It’s okay to take it out on me, especially since I was the one that came up with the weird suggestion of using an alien device to cure cancer.” He tried to grin, but it didn’t come off.
“You were trying to help me - “
“And I haven’t quit. Look, I shouldn’t be tiring you out. I just wanted to check on you.”
“Do you have to leave?”
“No. But I don’t want to be in the way when your family returns.”
Her eyes unexpectedly filled with tears. “You’re never ‘in the way’, Mulder.”
“You’re supposed to be resting.”
“I’ll rest with you here, okay?”
He hesitated, but that was what he’d really wanted to hear. He nodded and pulled a chair closer to the bed. Once he was seated, she reached for his hand. He took her’s in both of his and held it, bringing it briefly to his lips. “Close your eyes.”
For a wonder she obeyed him, but didn’t release his hand when he lay hers back on the covers. With her eyes closed he was free to look at her, take in her appearance. Her face was pale against the pillow case; even her hair seemed slightly faded. Her eyelids were bruised and there were dark circles under her eyes. The weight she’d lost was now evident in her face. Even her lips were pale. She didn’t as a rule wear a lot of makeup; she’d always looked fresh and natural to him, but now her skin was nearly translucent. And yet, she was still beautiful to him. He wouldn’t say it; he never had before so she would think he was only trying to cheer her up. But it was true. She was beautiful in a different way, as though changing into an ephemeral creature that would soon be out of his reach.
Now it was his eyes that filled. He’d believed that smoking SOB that he had found something to cure her, to save her. The PET scan had showed no change and she had allowed her mother to call Father McCue. Part of him wanted to be out there searching for . . . for something, or torturing and murdering Cancerman, but he couldn’t leave her.
He had no sense of time, just watching her breath when the door opened again. Dr. Zuckerman joined them, pushing a wheelchair. Mulder thought about telling him to leave, at least to be quiet so as not to wake her. It had been peaceful, this little interlude with no one but them here.
Too late, Dr. Zuckerman was touching her arm. “Dana? Dana, I need you to wake up for me.”
Her hand tightened around his as she stirred. “Wha - Dr. Zuckerman?”
“I’m sorry to disturb you, but we need to talk.” Again her grip tightened. Dr. Zuckerman looked over at him. “If you could excuse us - “
“No, I want him to stay,” she interrupted the doctor.
“Yes, I suppose he should.”
“Doctor?” Mulder finally found his voice.
“I want to run - “
“They just took her blood before I came in here. Shouldn’t she get a little rest?”
“I want to do another PET scan. It’s because of the blood test.”
“Was something - “ Mulder and Scully spoke together. The doctor smiled.
“Let’s do this, then we can talk.” He maneuvered the wheelchair to her bedside.
She started to rise, but Mulder leaned over, scooped her up and sat her gently in the chair before she could protest. She cut her eyes at him, but kept quiet and retook possession of his hand. He walked beside her as the doctor wheeled her toward the elevator.
Scully didn’t ask any questions, whether from lack of curiosity or weariness Mulder wasn’t sure, but he kept quiet, savoring the feel of her hand in his. He knew the timing was fortunate. If her family had been there, he wouldn’t be here with her. Another thing to keep quiet about. He felt her eyes on him and realized she was thinking along the same lines. He winked at her and lightly squeezed the hand he grasped.
“Mr. Mulder, if you’ll wait out - “
“After I get her settled,” Mulder interrupted and accompanied them into the room.
“Mulder, I can - “
But he already had her in his arms again and placed her where the doctor indicated on the table.
“We’re going to talk about this,” Scully warned him, as she looked up into his grinning face.
Mulder followed Dr.
Zuckerman to the control room while the nurse draped Scully and positioned her
correctly. He’d have stayed if he could, but he knew that wouldn’t be allowed.
He stationed himself at the window so that he could see her during the
procedure. The equipment meant nothing to him.
He saw her legs tense as the equipment started doing its thing. His own tensed in sympathy.
“There, yes. I want that from every angle you’ve got,” Dr. Zuckerman spoke to the technician. “My god.”
Mulder jerked around and headed for the control room. “What?”
“Here, see this?”
“That’s her tumor.”
Mulder winced but managed to hold his ground.
“This is the one we took earlier.”
“It’s, is it smaller?”
“Yes. Smaller enough that a layman can see the difference.” Dr. Zuckerman was smiling at him.
“What, what does . . . “
“Something is causing the tumor to shrink. Remission, Mr. Mulder.”
Mulder’s head flew up to meet Dr. Zuckerman’s eyes. His lips moved, but no sound emerged.
“Yes. Something is working.”
“She’s, she’s better? She’s going to live.”
“We’re going to be watching her very closely. Since you . . . assisted with the treatment . . . “
The doctor took his arm and led him away from the technicians. “I’d rather not have anyone else know I . . . followed your suggestion.”
“Yeah, I don’t blame you.” He glanced back at the window. “She’s really better.”
“I can’t say she’s cured. I don’t know what’s going on, but I can tell you the tumor is smaller. You saw it yourself.”
“We need to tell her.”
“Let’s get her back to her room.”
“Can I go in there?”
The doctor looked over at the technician who nodded to him. Mulder didn’t wait for another invitation. He was in the room with her before the nurse.
“They’re through. I just want to help you back to your room.” He helped her to sit up.
Her eyes narrowed, watching him. “What?” Dr. Zuckerman joined them then and she turned to him. “What is he not telling me? Why did I need another test so soon?”
“It’ll be more private in your room.”
Her breathing grew shallow. “No. I need to - “ Her voice was shaking slightly.
“Scully, no. It’s good news.”
The fear didn’t leave her face. Mulder took a seat on the table beside her and she leaned against him. He took her hand again, playing with her fingers. “What’s good? Talk to me.”
Mulder looked up at Dr. Zuckerman. The older man nodded. “Scully, you’re in remission. That’s why he wanted to do another test.”
“Re-remission?” She sounded as though she didn’t fully understand the word.
“You’re getting better, Scully.”
For a moment it was like her fear grew and she seemed to press into him. His arm came around her. “Really?”
It was Zuckerman who answered. “The tumor is smaller, Dana, significantly so. We’re going to do some more testing, but yes.”
She turned to Mulder then. “The chip,” it was only a whisper. He didn’t speak, hugging her against him.
“Dana, let’s go back to your room. I’m sure your family would like to hear this news.”
Her family. His grip
loosened slightly. Of course, her family. She needed to see them. She turned
to look up at him. “Thank you,” she mouthed, not wanted to share this moment
with her doctor.
He just stood and took her into his arms. He returned her to the chair and pushed her toward the door. This time Dr. Zuckerman walked at her side, talking to her, explaining what he had seen.
Mulder tuned him out. He wouldn’t have understood the terminology anyway. Instead he watched her. He could see her brightening up as they talked. It didn’t matter that he wasn’t part of the conversation. He could see that she was feeling better. He was surprised when she reached up and took his hand again, not pausing in her questioning of Dr. Zuckerman.
She was going to live.
There were too many people in the room, and the hostility from Bill was still there even with the incredible news. No one had said anything about the chip, no one ever would, but the heat coming from Bill made it more than uncomfortable. Besides, he already knew what he needed to know. Scully had gone into remission. Even her chronic headache had eased.
When no one was looking he eased out of the room to let them celebrate as a family. He wasn’t part of that, but he was part of her life, as she was an essential part of his. He wouldn’t go far. They’d all leave again sometime and he’d be here, near her.
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Mulder, Scully, the Lone Gunman and Skinner all belong to Chris Carter, 10-13 and Fox. No infringement intended.