She lay there watching him sleep. This was one of the things she missed the most. When the pregnancy had been so far advanced sleep had abandoned her and she had spent long hours beside him watching him when he didn’t know it. After all those years traveling together she knew he slept better when she was beside him. She couldn’t do that now; he’d never find the right woman if she allowed him to get close to her again.
His sleep wasn’t restful and she wondered if he’d fall out of the chair. Even as she thought it he jerked awake, "Scully!" His eyes frantically raked the bed to ensure she was still there. She watched the tension lessen in his body when he met her eyes.
He was on his feet beside her. "How do you feel, Scully?"
"I’m okay." He almost flinched at that, then squared his shoulders and took her hand. She didn’t have the strength to resist.
"Do you remember what happened?"
"I’m not sure. Aren’t we in Des Moines?"
"Yeah." He smiled. "We were tracking the Kurt’s and we found them. Unfortunately we were followed."
"Someone shot him."
"And then they tried to shoot me, but you got in the way."
She gave him a wan smile then. "Just doin’ my job." She watched his jaw clench and his hands become fists, but he didn’t speak. "What happened to the shooters?"
"They’re both dead. I wasn’t in the mood to be gentle." His voice was tight; reliving those frantic moments when he realized she’d kept him from being shot and his world nearly ended. "The doctors think you’re going to be fine. You made, according to them, ‘remarkable progress’ overnight. They talked to your mother; told her she didn’t need to come after all. You need to call her, reassure her yourself." His hand was almost steady as he caressed her cheek. Then she drew away from him and he let his arm drop back to his side.
He looked away for a minute, then cleared his throat. "We had company last night."
"In Des Moines? Who?"
Now he had her attention. "Is he okay?"
"I didn’t see the one that was shot, but I was told he’s fine. He asked that we stop tracking them. Let them come to us when it’s safe."
"Did he talk to you? Did he tell you why . . ."
"He claimed they didn’t know any of that would happen. They didn’t know about the crystal or his abilities."
"Have you talked to Walter? Is the baby . . . is William okay?"
"I haven’t spoken with him, but he knows what happened. Kurt said William could save your life ‘again’. His word. Looks like he did." They both fell silent for a moment. Then she took a deep breath.
"Why?" The question startled him, why? He opened his mouth to respond.
"Well! You’re awake!" They both jumped at the new voice. Neither had heard the doctor approach. "I’ve got to tell you Ms. Scully, you’ve exceeded all my expectations. Wish I thought I could take credit for such a rapid recovery. I need to do an exam." He turned to Mulder, "You might be able to threaten and intimidate the nurses, but not me. You go take a walk or get something to eat, but you are going to leave her side while I’m here."
Mulder’s color rose and he dropped his eyes.
"I know how scared you were last night, but look at her now. I would say she is out of immediate danger. At least go have a cup of coffee."
Mulder nodded, embarrassed that Scully had heard. He leaned over to kiss her goodbye, but she turned her head, letting him kiss her cheek instead. She saw the look of despair in his eyes. It had to be this way, why couldn’t he see it?
After a thorough exam and a little more pain medication added to her drip, the doctor answered her questions and started to leave.
"Mulder didn’t mean to cause any trouble."
The doctor stopped and turned back to her. "I know that, and the nurses knew how frantic he was about you. I just had to let him know he needed to ease up. If he weren’t such a ‘hunk’, the nurses’ term – not mine, he’d have been out of here a long time ago. I’m not sure you realize how serious your condition was. He thought you were dying and he was out of his mind with fear."
"I know." She said softly. The doctor watched her for a moment, then left the room. Mulder was waiting outside.
"Let her get some rest, Mr. Mulder. I increased her pain medication, so she should be drifting off shortly."
"She is going to be okay?"
"Yes. I just wish I could bottle some of that strength she’s got."
Mulder said nothing, just took a deep breath and opened her door. She couldn’t quite hide the fact she was glad he was back, though she did try. He tucked that away to sustain him later.
"You don’t have to stay here Mulder. Why don’t you go to the room and rest or something?"
"We never got a room, remember? I’ll stay here until you go to sleep, then I have to report to the police and give them my statement on last night." He sank back into his chair at her side.
"I need to hear what Kurt told you, but the doctor gave me something. I’m not sure I can stay awake."
"It’ll keep Scully, go on to sleep. I won’t leave until you’re asleep."
She nodded already drowsy. He took her hand and she didn’t resist. When he was sure she was asleep, he leaned in and kissed her, lifting a stray lock of hair from her brow and just drinking in the sight of her alive and breathing. He sighed then and stood to leave.
He was almost to the door when he heard her whisper his name. He turned back, had she been awake? Was she upset that he’d kissed her?
"Mulder . . . love you . . ." and she was out again.
He wanted to shake her awake and make her repeat those words. He needed to hear her say those words. Especially awake and alert, not groggy and less than in control. But she’d said it; that’s what was important. He needed to get this meeting with the police concluded and get back here to her.
He returned anxious to check on her. He had been afraid to be away from her, not when she’d been as close to dying as she had been when they brought her in. He bypassed the nurses and managed to slip into her room. There he came to a dead halt – the bed was empty, even the sheets had been pulled – just like Melissa’s bed when he’d finally caught up with her that night. Just like - no!
He was already moving toward the desk. "Agent Scully? Where is she?" He was trying to keep his voice down but inside he was shouting.
The nurse looked up startled. "I’ll get Dr. Tangiers."
"Where is she!" Now his voice did rise. Why were they sending for a doctor? He needed information. Surely the nurse knew if she’d . . . if she’d . . . his mind stumbled to a halt. He should never have left her. He stood there immobile with fear, unaware of the passage of time.
"Agent Mulder?" The hand on his shoulder brought him back to the present.
"Where – " He was having trouble focusing.
"She’s gone Agent Mulder."
"Scully’s dead?" His hand had found the doctor’s arm and his grip tightened.
"No! No, I’m sorry. Agent Mulder, please calm down. She signed herself out against medical advice." Now the doctor was supporting Mulder, not entirely sure he was hearing the information rationally.
"She’s not well enough . . . "
"I agree. But she was adamant. She’s a very strong-willed woman."
Mulder nodded, no argument there. He turned to leave.
"Do you know where she’s going?" The doctor stopped him.
"No. But I’ll find her." The doctor didn’t doubt him for a second and watched him leave the floor.