Hearts - 1/3 (PG)

 

 

 Mulder turned from his refrigerator drinking the last of the orange juice from the container. Now the refrigerator was officially empty, he'd have to go to the grocery today. He needed to do laundry too. Boy, weekends were so exciting.

He heard the knock at his door. He finished the juice and headed for the door.

"Who is it?" Another project, he still needed that damn peephole. No answer, he picked up his gun from the coffee table. When he opened the door, no one was there, but a package fell into the room from where it had been leaning against the door. Mulder ignored the package and stepped into the hall, no one - and the elevator was closed.

He turned and carefully picked up the package. Addressed to him, no return. Well. . . He carried the box to the coffee table and began his investigation of it. He finally opened the package, being careful not to destroy the packaging.

When he opened the inner carton, he felt the surge of adrenaline. He knew his weekend wasn't going to be routine or boring.

Hot Damn! Scully needed to see this! He grabbed his phone and punched her number. Damn, her machine, try the cellular. Cellular not in service. Shit. He called her machine back.

"Scully, call me. You won't believe what was just delivered here."

He couldn't wait. He dialed Skinner's home number.

"Hello?"

"Sir, its Mulder. Sorry to disturb you but I need you to authorize some overtime for this weekend."

"Mulder, I'm off-duty. What is this all about?"

"Someone just delivered a heart to my apartment. And I believe it's a human heart."

"A human heart. Someone delivered a human heart to your apartment?"

"Yes sir."

"What does Scully say?"

"I haven't been able to locate her yet. It is Saturday."

"I know that. You want to take it on in?"

"Yeah, have the lab start testing, then Scully can finish it up when she gets my message."

"If you find out it's from a mutilated cow, you're gonna eat this investigation."

"Yes sir. Thank you."

"Let me know." He hung up the phone. Only Mulder would get something like that delivered to him. It damn well better be a mutilated cow sent by one of his weird friends as a joke. He had bitten hard if it was a practical joke. Skinner hadn't heard him that excited in a long time. He shook his head and went back to his to do list.

Yes! All domestic thoughts were gone from his mind. He reassembled the package and took off for the office.

He arrived at the lab, and grabbed the first tech he found. He explained what he wanted and left the heart, then took the wrappings down to his office for his own investigation.

When he looked up again it had been over two hours. Damn, why hadn't Scully called? She'd want to be in on this. Maybe she was at her mother's. He'd give it a try.

"Hello?"

"Mrs. Scully, hi. I'm trying to find Scully. Is she there?

"Hi, Fox. No I haven't seen her today. Is everything okay?"

"Oh yeah, everything's fine. I just got a new case and I'm anxious to tell her about it."

"Oh, well if she calls or comes by I'll tell her you're looking for her. When are you coming to see me?"

"It has been too long, I'm sorry. If this new case doesn't take us out of town I'll be over this week, I promise."

"I'm going to hold you to that, Fox."

He grinned, Scully was so lucky. "You won't have to - I'm inviting myself to dinner."

"Give me half a hour's notice and I'll fix your favorites."

"You got it. And I'll have Scully call you." He hung up and tried her again. He didn't bother to leave another message. Then decided to go check on the lab's progress.

*****

"Agent Mulder, this stuff takes time. We know it is a human heart, and a blood type of O+. The DNA is in the computer for matching, but that's a long shot. You're just going to have to wait."

*****

"Did you want to see me, sir?" God, Skinner looked awful. He was positively gray, was he having a heart attack? His eyes were red and hollow looking and there were beads of sweat on his brow. He hadn't mentioned coming in today when they had talked.

"Are you all right?"

"Sit down, Mulder."

He complied, "What is it?"

"I have some news. I. . . the lab sent me the information on the heart you received. They found a match on the DNA."

"They contacted you?"

"Yes. That's SOP when it's one of ours."

"One of. . . Sir, please, who?"

"The. . . " Shit, Skinner took a breath and wiped a hand across his forehead. "The DNA belongs to Agent Scully. Dana's heart was delivered to you."

Mulder sat there, staring for a long moment.

"No sir. That's not possible. I. . . I. . ." He'd been thrilled, hell, he'd practically played with. . . Mulder bolted from the chair and rushed to Skinner's private bath. Skinner sat and listened to him retch, unable to rise to help him. He lowered his face into his hands.

He heard Mulder stumble back into his office and collapse onto his couch.

"The. . . " Mulder stopped to clear his throat. "There's been a mistake. The tests need to be redone."

"I've already ordered it. However, the lab ran it twice before they brought it to me. We can wait a short while, but her mother. . . "

"No! No, you can't tell Mrs. Scully this. Not. . . not yet." He couldn't get his breath and was unaware of the tears running down his own face. He'd been excited over the delivery, thankful to be taken out of the domestic routine. There was a mistake, there had to be.

"It's not true. I would know if Scully were dead. Damn it, I'd know. She's not!"

"Mulder. . . "

"She's not!" He somehow managed to get to his feet.

"Give me your keys, Mulder."

"What?"

"Give me your car keys, you're not going to drive. And your weapon."

"I'm going to the lab."

"You'll be in the way. Just stay here."

"No! Goddamn it, there's been a mistake. It might be deliberate."

"Mulder. . . " Skinner shook his head, unable to gain the control he so prided himself on. He hadn't been this shaken since. . . hell, he'd never been this shaken. He had known his feelings for Scully were more than they should be for an agent under his supervision, but this man. . . this man wouldn't survive this. He didn't have a clue what to do for him.

They sat is silence for a short while, then Mulder roused, "Her apartment?"

"I have men there now."

"But they wouldn't know if anything was out of place."

"No, you can go over later, but I wanted someone else to go in first."

Mulder nodded without looking up. A tap at the door brought them both back from their thoughts.

"Director Skinner? These are the lab reports you requested."

Mulder had managed to gain his feet and snatched the papers from the technician's hand.

Skinner turned to the tech, "Were there any differences?"

"None, Sir. I'm sorry."

"I want a copy of everything, and a tissue sample. All of it!"

The technician glanced over at Skinner, who nodded.

"I'll get everything together for you, Agent Mulder. It won't take very long. I'll bring it here."

Mulder had to grab the back of the chair when the man shut the door in order to remain on his feet. He finally seated himself again.

"What are you going to do with the copies?"

"Find the error."

Skinner didn't respond. When the technician returned Mulder checked the contents and headed for the door.

"Mulder, I wasn't kidding. I want your keys and your weapons, both of them."

Mulder nearly refused, he might have need for a weapon. But he had access.

Skinner himself called a taxi for him. His own shock was beginning to wane, and the pain increase. Pain he could cope with.

*****

Mulder gave the address for the Gunmen's apartment, and when he got to the door, pounded on it.

"Open up! Byers, let me in!"

The door flew open, "What the hell is up?" Frohike demanded as Mulder pushed past him.

"Check this. I need you to do a DNA match on this material."

"Match against whose?"

"Just run it through your database."

"Okay, okay. Tell me what this tissue is, at least."

"It's a heart."

The three men exchanged glances but asked no more questions. Mulder slumped into a chair as far from them as possible.

Except for a few muffled comments, silence reigned over the apartment. Even Frohike realized conversation would be inappropriate.

When the information flashed up on his screen it took Byers several seconds to reconcile the data in his brain. Then he paled noticeably and caught Langly's eye to direct him to the screen. Frohike's low moan caused Mulder to look up.

He was on his feet, charging at Byers. Before anyone could react he had Byers by the lapels, yanking him out of the chair and slamming him into the wall. "Don't tell me it's her! Goddamn it, it's not Scully!" He was screaming in his face. Langly and Frohike grabbed his arms and tried to pull him off.

"It's cloned! It's got to be cloned tissue!"

"Mulder." Langly tried to break his grip. "The definition of clone means they'd be identical. You can't tell the original from the duplicate. I don't know of any test. . . " Suddenly he and Frohike found themselves supporting Mulder's body rather than pulling at him.

"On the bed." Byers said, as he lifted his legs.

"Should we call. . . "

"He's just passed out. Do you blame him? Get him on the bed."

Byers sat with him while Langley continued work on the computer and Frohike poured himself a stiff drink.

With consciousness came memory and as always with him, complete memory. His body arched in pain.

"Mulder! Mulder, please."

The other two raced into the room, but Mulder was racked by violent shaking, his body nearly convulsing. His three friends were at a total loss, they didn't know how to face this kind of grief. Byers was surreptitiously wiping his own eyes until he realized Langly and Frohike were crying freely.

When the storm finally passed, Langly got Mulder a glass of water from the bathroom, but no words were spoken.

He attempted to rise from the bed, but sheer physical exhaustion prevented it.

"Just stay still, Mulder. You don't need to go anywhere."

"No, I have to see her mother. I need to tell her. . . tell her what everyone believes." He managed to sit up and put his feet on the floor. "I need to borrow your keys."

"No way. You can't drive."

"I have to go." His three friends exchanged glances.

"I'll take you there." Byers said. They helped him to the car. Mulder started to give the address, but Byers waved him off.

"You know her address?"

"Yeah, when you guys are out of town we keep an eye on her. We know she's special to you."

"Does she know?"

"No, we're more careful than that, Mulder."

He closed his eyes and remained silent the rest of the way.

*****

When they arrived, Byers parked and started to get out of the car.

"I can do this. Thanks. . . I'll. . . "

Byers nodded, and Mulder let himself out of the car. He approached the door like someone at least 100 years old, and rang the bell.

Mrs. Scully opened the door. She'd obviously been crying but she pulled Mulder into the house. "Thank God! I was so worried about you. Oh Fox." She threw her arms around him and he managed to remain on his feet. When he reopened his eyes he saw Skinner coming toward him. Together, Skinner and Mrs. Scully got him to the sofa.

He let the words wash over him. Bill on the red-eye, Charlie coming tomorrow. Memorial service to be planned. Inside he was screaming, but he held his comments. It wasn't hard, really, his voice didn't seem to be working right. Skinner kept watching him, didn't he remember that he was holding his guns. Soup? How did that get in his hand? Swallow. Make the fluid go down. Right, swallow again. Didn't he use to know how to do this?

"Mulder, can you hear me?" Skinner was sitting beside him. "Do you want me to take you home?"

"Walter, no. He's staying here."

"No." Mulder struggled to answer, this conversation he understood. "I need to get home."

"You are staying with me tonight. I need you here. Please, Mulder."

She needed him? Why would anyone need him? Everyone that needed him died. He'd better get away from her.

"Mulder, take these." Two pills had appeared in Skinner's hand.

He shook his head, they wouldn't be enough.

"Take them. Come on, Mulder." He swallowed them without bothering to ask what they were. He would find what he needed later. "I'll put him to bed, Maggie. Try to finish your soup, you'll need your strength."

Why was Skinner taking his clothes? What the hell? But this wasn't Skinner's apartment, was it? He was getting sleepy. No! If he went to sleep he'd dream. He couldn't dream tonight. Please, no dreams tonight. . .

*****

Langly looked up when Byers entered the apartment. "How's Mulder?"

"Walking dead. Shit, if he saw an autopsy, why is he so convinced. . . "

"No autopsy, no body. I've been reading the files he brought. The heart was delivered to his apartment. He didn't know whose it was until the DNA match came up."

"Oh god. No wonder. . . wait a minute."

Frohike and Langly waited. "If there was no body he could be right. I mean, it could be a clone as easily as original. And this way no one would be looking for her."

"Except us." Langly added. "Frohike, where are your pictures of Scully?"

*****

It was Tuesday and the memorial service was over. Mulder had vague memories of Skinner on one side of him and Byers on the other. Now he was back at Mrs. Scully's home. He heard voices in the kitchen saying dark things, but that was okay it was getting darker everywhere.

"Mom, we want you to come stay with us for a while. You shouldn't be alone and you can play with the baby. It'll be good for you."

"I appreciate your offer, really I do, but I can't leave now, Bill. Fox needs me, he's completely lost."

"Fox needs you! Fox is the reason for all of this! He's cost you two daughters and me two sisters, and you want to stay in town to look after him?"

"Bill, be quiet. That man loved your sister beyond all reason. He's devastated."

"He has a mother of his own."

"Not really. I mean. . . Bill, their relationship isn't very good. I'm going to stay as long as he needs me. I'll come visit and soon, but you didn't think I was going to move out there or anything, did you? Bill, I have a life here. We're dropping this conversation, I don't want Fox to hear you."

Bill slammed his coffee mug down on the counter and left the kitchen. He immediately spotted Mulder on the couch. Shit, he'd probably heard everything. And Mulder was obviously torn up, why couldn't he feel sorry for him?

"Hey, Mulder, I'm sorry. I'm upset and. . . Mulder? Mulder can you hear me? Mom!" He waved his hand in front of Mulder's face. The eyes were open, but he didn't respond.

"Fox, can you hear me? Oh Bill, what. . . "

"I think he's catatonic, Mom."

"Call Walter, he'll know what to do."

*****

After his admission to the hospital, on suicide alert, Skinner sent Maggie and Bill home and promised to keep them informed. Skinner watched him through the glass in the door and shook his head. That brilliant, tortured mind hell, he might be better off dead.