The Gift 7/? (PG)


Mulder returned to his apartment. Once there he attempted to eat, attempted to straighten up the place, began a movie, even laid down on his sofa to try to rest, but kept startling awake from unremembered dreams. He finally gave up and grabbed his keys.

He tried to convince himself that he was driving aimlessly, but he couldnít fool himself for long and finally parked across the street from Scullyís apartment. He leaned the seat back and made himself comfortable.

The screams jerked him awake and he was already out of the car and racing toward her building before he realized they were only in his mind. He was already fumbling for her key as he raced up the stairs. He could hear her moaning his name as he slammed into the apartment.

"Scully wake up, itís just a dream. Itís only a dream. Come on, Sweetheart. Wake up." He rocked her in his arms as the nightmare finally lost its grip on her.

"Mulder?"

"Yeah, itís me. You okay?"

"How long have you been here?"

"Well, I wasnít exactly here. I was parked across the street. I couldnít. . . I didnít feel right about leaving you alone. You may not be happy about it, Scully, but youíre stuck with me. Iím not Mulder anymore, Iím MulderandScully, one entity and thereís nothing I can do about it."

"I hurt. I hurt so much. Iím so empty." Tears were again pouring down her face.

"I know, and I canít make it go away, but I can be here." She started to say something but he put his finger to her lips. "Remember our first assignment. You came to my room and gave me your complete trust on a silver platter. I didnít earn it, or deserve it, and I forced you to prove yourself to me over and over. Well now itís my turn, Iíve got to earn back the trust Iíve abused so badly with you. Please give me that chance."

She laid her head on his shoulder. "Iíve never been so tired."

"I know, let me clean you up and you go back to sleep." She suddenly realized that her breasts were bleeding the milk she could no longer give their son. Her face colored and she tried to hide herself.

"I can do it."

"I want to do it." He was back with a nightgown and a warm cloth in no time. He stripped her of the dress she had worn from Skinnerís apartment and gently cleaned her, then redressed her and tucked her under the covers.

"Iíll just be in the next room if you need anything."

"Thereís no need. . . "

"I am not leaving you alone."

"I was going to say thereís no need to sleep out there, youíre too long anyway. You can. . . you can stay in here." He carefully lay down on top of the covers beside her.

"No, I need to feel your skin." He wasted no time stripping to his shorts and crawling under the covers. She was asleep even as she curled into her favorite spot against his chest.

She woke feeling much more rested and reached for Mulder. The bed was empty. {Mulder!}

{Here, here Iím coming} He raced into the bedroom.

"Are you okay?"

"Iím sorry, that was stupid. I just didnít know where you were."

He sat beside her on the bed and rubbed his thumb along her cheekbone. "Well, I was going to fix you some breakfast, but thereís nothing here. Why donít you take your shower, get comfortable and after youíre back in bed, Iíll go get some supplies."

"As good as that sounds, Iím not sure I can be on my feet that long."

"I wasnít planning for you to do it alone." He again caressed her face, "You never used to blush this much."

"I guess I used to be more proud of my body."

He looked up, startled. "Well, let me be proud of it for awhile, until you get back in practice." He led her into the bathroom and together they took a leisurely shower, he even washed her hair. After she was safely tucked back into the bed, he took the list and left to stock up.

After he was gone she picked up the phone and called her mother. "Youíre back!! Oh Dana, I have missed you so much. Are you planning to come over?"

"Actually, Mom I came home with a horrible case of flu. Iím in bed. Donít come over, you do not want this."

"But thereís nothing there for you."

"Mulderís been here, heís out getting groceries right now."

"Mulder? You not worried about giving him the flu?"

"He deserves what he gets for not listening. Just wanted you to know I was home safe and Iíll see you in a couple of days. Donít worry, Iíll be fine and if I need anything I will call. Iíll call tomorrow anyway, so youíll know Iím doing fine."

"Not okay, but as long as Mulderís looking after you, I guess itís all right. I just canít wait to see you, my baby." Scully froze, unable to speak for a second. "Dana?"

"I need to get off. Iíll talk to you tomorrow. Love you." She hung up and lay staring at the ceiling. Thatís what she was doing when Mulder returned.

He placed the grocery bags in the kitchen and came to check on her. "What happened?"

"Nothing. Itís not important."

"So tell me anyway."

"I called Mom, to let her know I was back. Told her I had the flu and not to come over, you were looking after me."

"She didnít like that?"

"Probably not, but as we were hanging up, she called me Ďher babyí. It just caught me off guard."

"I donít know what to say. We need to talk about this sometime. No, I know, not now." He took her hand. "But sometime, soon. To change the subject, some of the items on your list were, shall we say, unfamiliar, to me and the selection was vast, so I can only hope I got what you wanted."

She gave him a wan smile, "Good training. Youíll make someone a fine husband."

"Are you finally accepting my proposal?"

She pulled her hand from his. "Iím not marrying you Mulder. I am not going to marry anyone." Before he could voice his questions, she continued, "I canít give you children. I refuse to put such a restriction on your life."

"Are you saying that if I were injured in the line of duty and couldnít get you pregnant you would quit loving me?"

"Thatís a totally different situation."

"Bullshit!"

"I donít have the energy to argue with you about this now." To forestall the strained silence from continuing, Mulder rose from the bed.

"I better get you something to eat." He walked stiffly from the room and in seconds Scully heard the unmistakable sound of a fist going through a door. She closed her eyes.

When he returned with her tray neither mentioned his swollen and rapidly bruising right hand. "Itís a poached egg and toast. Is that okay?"

"Perfect, thank you. Have you eaten?"

"Iím not particularly hungry."

"You need to eat."

"Let me handle the nurturing for a while, okay? Go ahead and eat." He sat and watched her and when she was through helped her lay back down for a nap.

When the phone rang she barely stirred, but he came in shortly. "Scully, I need you to wake up."

"What?"

"You didnít call Sharon this morning. She was worried."

"I forgot."

"Well, she said I had to give you this." He handed her three pills.

"What is it?"

"Acetaminophen, take it." She obediently swallowed them. "And these."

"What?"

"Ice packs. And when youíre through with them Iím to get you up and have you sit in the other room for twenty or so minutes to help you regain your strength."

She held the ice packs in her hands, feeling overwhelmed and totally helpless in the face of it. "Why canít everyone just leave me alone. All I want is oblivion."

"Scully, that sounds. . . suicidal. Scully?" He forced her to look into his eyes. "Scully?"

"Iím not going to kill myself, Mulder. You can believe me."

"Can I? I know youíre hurting, I know you think you miss him more than I do and hell, maybe thatís true. I never had him inside of me. But Iíve lost him too, Scully, and Iím in pain. All I have left is you, and if Iím going to lose you too, then youíre right, oblivion doesnít sound that bad."

"Oh Mulder, Mulder Iím sorry. Iím not going anywhere." She pulled him to her to hold him as he cried. "Iím not going anywhere. We have work to do."

*****

Seconds, the whole world could change in seconds. He sat staring at his hands, no longer even seeing the blood that covered them. Her blood. Seconds.

 

Information was harder to come by these days. Deep Throat was dead, so was Mr. X. Marta Covarrubias had gone missing, and Cancer Man was presumed dead. That last one. . . he wanted to witness the autopsy on that one. Even then he wasnít convinced heíd feel certain the bastard was really dead. But heíd finally gotten a lead on the clones. He had to talk to them; they had to talk to Scully. Yes, the cancer was gone, but theyíd taken so much more from her. She deserved to know what theyíd done and what, if anything, they could do about it

So they had set up the stake out. Unofficially of course, Skinner would understand, but the documentation would never pass. They had been there several hours and were considering calling it a day when Mulder spotted the red hair coming their way. "Scully." She followed his eyes and recognized Kurt Crawford, the man she had last seen in Betsy HagopianĎs basement, before Penny died. At her nod they opened their doors and started out of the vehicle.

Mulder spotted the shooter seconds before he heard the shot and saw the red head crash backwards into the building across the street. His gun was out and he had fired in one swift movement, the shooter falling back as well.

"Mulder!" Scully slammed into his back, throwing him to his knees and away from the gunshot of the shooter he hadnít seen. He pivoted on his knees and neatly placed three rounds into the chest of the second man.

"Thanks. I didnít know he was there. Scully? Scully!" He saw her lying on the road, his mind limited to thinking, "her blouse was white, not red" as he stumbled to his feet toward her. His cell phone was out and he was punching 911 before his second step. "Officer down! 4th and Euclid, I need an ambulance now!!" He barely heard the acknowledgement before dropping the phone.

"Youíre going to be okay, Scully. Help is on the way. Let me see where you were hit. Donít try to move." He ripped her blouse open to see the entrance wound, on the right, just below the ribs. He was trying desperately to remember his anatomy. Where the hell was all the blood coming from, did she have that much? He looked at her face, the terror was clear in her eyes, but the pain was beginning to overtake it. Her lips moved.

"Donít try to talk, Sweetheart. Just stay still." He nearly lost it as he saw the bloody froth on her lips. "You are going to be fine. Just lie still." He was beginning to hear a siren in the distance. "God, hurry!" He thought, but dared not say. He had his handkerchief out, pressing it over her wound to try to staunch the bleeding. She put her hand on his and he forced himself to look into her eyes again. What was she trying to say? If it were goodbye he refused to hear, she would be all right. His mind refused to process any other conclusion.

"Let me get to her, sir." The paramedic moved with quiet efficiency. It took all of his strength to remove his hands from her body. Not touching her skin didnít seem like the right option, but the police assisted him to his feet.

"Could we ask you a few questions, sir?" Mulder must have nodded. "Do you have any identification?" His hands seemed to work without conscious control, and he didnít notice the bloody fingerprints he was leaving on his id.

"Special Agent, huh? Maybe I ought to call my sergeant."

"We were on stake out, trying to locate the man over there." Mulder looked over to where the red headed man had fallen. He wasnít there. "The red headed man, did you see him? He was hit too. That shooter hit him," he pointed, "and I shot him. Then Scu. . . my partner knocked me out of the way of this man. I shot him as well, after he shot. . . "

"Youíre saying one of the wounded is missing?"

"Yes, look Iíll file a complete report and make sure your department has all the facts. Right now I have to stay with her."

"Look, I know youíre upset, but just a few more questions, please." The evidence van had arrived and their work was progressing. He looked back over at Scully; they were beginning to move her toward the ambulance. She now had two IVs and oxygen. Ignoring the policeman that was attempting to question him, he headed toward the ambulance to climb in.

"No sir. You can follow us in your car."

"I need to be with her."

"You might be in the way, sir." Mulder looked into his eyes and translated that to, "You donít need to watch her die."

He swallowed hard. "Where are you taking her?"

"University Medical Center. Itís the best, sir. We need to move." Mulder stepped back, hesitated for a second, then sprinted for his car.

"Agent Mulder! We need to finish up here."

"Iíll be at the hospital and Iíll answer your questions, but I am leaving now." He started the car, leaving blood on the keys and the steering wheel. The cop who had tried half-heartedly to stop him turned to his partner.

"Hope I donít have to eat this one."

"You wonít. And Iíd bet my pension heíll be at that hospital when we do need to talk to him." The first one nodded and they headed over to the evidence van.

He burst into the ER and immediately asked for Scully. The nurse had obviously been warned he was on his way. "Agent Mulder? She was taken to surgery."

"So you canít tell me anything?" She nodded regretfully. He stumbled to a chair in the waiting room and there he sat, staring at his hands, no longer even seeing the blood that covered them.

He was unaware of time when she approached him again. "Agent Mulder?"

He was on his feet, his eyes questioning. "No, Sir. We donít have any information yet. I was wondering if you would like to clean up a little."

Looking down he focused for the first time on his appearance. God, he looked like a chain saw murderer. No wonder people kept glancing at him.

"Yeah, thanks."

"Come back here. There are scrubs in there to change into, if you want to."

"Thanks." He washed up, even having to rinse his hair, and changed into the surgical scrubs. When he returned to the waiting room a man approached him.

"Agent Mulder?"

"Yes?"

"Iím Agent Dixon, Andy Dixon, of the Des Moines field office." He held out his hand. Mulder shook it. "Assistant Director Skinner called and asked that I come over, see if there was anything I could do."

"Skinner? How did he know about this?"

"I. . . I donít know. Iíd assumed you called him."

"No, no I didnít."

"Have you heard anything?"

"No," he glanced over at the nurseís desk; the attractive young nurse who had taken him to clean up was watching them. She shook her head regretfully.

"No news yet, Agent Mulder."

"AD Skinner said he would handle calling her family."

"Her family, shit."

"Listen, would you like something to eat? Some coffee?"

"No, no thanks. Look, I appreciate you coming, but if you have somewhere you need to be. . . "

"No, Iím in no hurry. Iíll stay here with you for a while, in case you think of anything you need." Mulder nodded and sat back on the couch to wait, for thousands more seconds.

At first Agent Dixon attempted to make conversation, but eventually gave up and just sat.

After a couple of hours, Agent Dixon stood and stretched. "Mulder, I need to run a few errands. Iíll be back in a while."

"Thereís no need. I can call you if I need anything."

"At least let me get you a room."

"I wonít be leaving."

"There are several places right around here. Besides, you canít sleep on that couch."

Mulder looked at him a second and almost smiled. "The couch is no problem."

"Okay. But I will be back to check in. Iíll keep the police out of your hair till morning anyway."

"I appreciate that." He took Andyís card with the cell phone number scribbled on the back.

He was dozing when the doctor finally came out, but snapped to attention immediately. "Is she. . . ?"

"Sheís extremely critical. Weíve taken her to the ICU and sheís being monitored very carefully. We had to remove her spleen to stop the bleeding and we got the bullet. She lost a lot of blood, weíve given her seven units and are keeping a close eye on her."

"Can I see her?"

"For a couple of minutes. Take that elevator, 4th floor."

"Thank you. Her mother is probably on the way here, how can I reach you?"

"The nurse can get in touch with me at any time."

He settled in beside her bed. "You can only stay 10 minutes, Sir."

He looked the nurse in the eye. "Listen carefully. I am not going anywhere. I will not get in your way, but I will not leave." She actually took a step backward under the look in his eyes. She was already dismissed from his mind as he drew the chair closer to the bed and tried to get comfortable. He took her hand in his and settled in to wait.

He wasnít sure how much later it was. The lights had been dimmed but the monitors looked the same. Standing over Scully was the red headed man heíd seen shot that afternoon.

"How is she?"

"Critical, you?"

"It wasnít me that was shot, but heíll be okay."

"What can you do for her?"

"Nothing."

"Donít give me that. Sheís your mother!" Mulder hissed at him.

The young man looked around to make sure no one was within hearing distance. "Itís precisely because she is my mother that I canít help her. Because of her Iím half human. . . I canít do anything for you."

"You must know someone who can."

"I donít. . . maybe William."

"Who the hell is William?"

Kurt looked up from Scully, startled. "Heís. . . heís my little brother."

It was Mulderís turn to be startled. "William. I. . . I didnít. . . should I get him here?"

"No, whatever he can do, he can do from there. Agent Mulder, donít look for us. We will get in touch with you when sheís strong enough to talk to us. Donít lead them to us again."

"She deserves an explanation for what you did to her, and why the hell you did it."

"It was a gift, Agent Mulder. We knew how much she wanted a child, we all know that."

"No. I didnít." There was a silence. "A gift."

"Were we wrong to use you as the father?"

"No!" He looked around to see if he had drawn any attention. "I mean. . . why didnít you tell us what we needed to know? And why the hell did you abduct us to do it!"

"We were unaware of certain things ourselves."

"Like what? You mean we were a damn experiment?"

The young man looked away for a moment. "I suppose you could see it that way, but it didnít start out as such. Hell, we had observed you for years, it never occurred to any of us that the two of you were not intimate! Your relationship led us to believe that neither of you would remember an abduction, and she would just believe it was a slip-up. You would know more about the situation but we felt you would just decide we had been mistaken in what we told you earlier. As for the crystal, no we didnít know about that."

"Why did you assume. . . "

"How could we not?" He hissed, "The way you two react to and around each other. Weíve observed married couples, hell honeymooners, who seem less intimate than the two of you."

This was getting into areas Mulder didnít have the ability to deal with right now. ĎWilliam."

"After you and both of your fathers."

"Yeah, Sheíd like that."

"I can guarantee he is doing everything in his power. He has saved her before. If it can be done. . . I need to leave. Please, let us contact you."

Mulder nodded and sank back into his chair, having never let go of her hand. The young man left as silently as he had appeared.

Mulder dozed, his head resting beside her arm on the bed. It was dawn when the slight movement of her hand woke him. Her eyes were open and they smiled at him before she drifted back off to sleep. He kissed each of her fingers before putting his head down again for a much more comfortable rest.