He stood in her living room, turning, taking it all in. He could hear her in the next room, murmuring to William as she changed his diaper.
He was leaving. His bags already stood by the door. It was temporary, to try to draw them away from her and Will, and to try to find out what he could about what was coming.
But it meant leaving, leaving not just the woman he loved and their son, but also ‘home’. When had this apartment become home to him? When he’d brought his remaining Mollies over? He’d only lived here a short time, during the last of her pregnancy - after that last scare when he had been unable to leave her alone, despite her admittedly half-hearted protests.
It was home now. He had to smile, so different from the first time he had been here -
“Pick up, pick up, damn it!” he recited to himself as he raced to her apartment. Tooms had targeted her, he’d taken her necklace. Now he couldn’t raise her. He pressed harder on the accelerator.
There had been a very satisfying thunk up his leg as he’d connected with her door. “Scully!”
He had itched to pull the trigger on this ‘unarmed’ thing, not a man, but in any case he was in custody. The police responded quickly to his call.
“Scully, I’ll go downtown and give a statement. You don’t need - “
“No. I want to go.” She’d raised her stubborn little chin and looked him directly in the eye.
“Okay, but I’ll drive.”
“My car - “
“I’ll bring you back.”
Seeing the set of his jaw, she nodded.
When they had returned that night, he had accompanied her inside. It was the first time he’d looked around, standing just inside the door, while she hung up her coat.
“You can come on in, Mulder.”
“You don’t need company, Scully. Listen, are you sure you want to stay here tonight?” He tested the door.
“I’ll be fine.”
He ran his hand down the door frame and looked over at her again.
“I’ll be fine,” she repeated. “I can put a chair under the knob for tonight. The Super will get it fixed tomorrow.”
“I’m sorry I - “
“Don’t apologize, Mulder. You saved my life.”
He looked down at his feet. Yeah, he probably had; he’d think about that later. “Try to get some rest, Scully. Don’t worry about coming in - “
“We have to give our report to Skinner. I’ll see you at the office.”
He nodded, not sure what to say. With his hand on the less than secure doorknob, he felt her hand on his arm. He stopped and looked down at her. “Thank you, Mulder.”
He gave her a smile that was mostly grimace and let himself out, waiting in the hall until she secured the door.
He turned at the sound of the baby’s cry, followed by a crooning that he felt more than heard.
Her call had been unexpected. He knew she didn’t fully believe that Barnett was still alive, but this Dr. Ridley had come to her. He was fascinated by the tale the doctor was weaving, but on another level he was comfortable. He hadn’t been here often, but he liked being here. He’d never actually said that and wasn’t about to. He could smell the flowers on her table and underneath that, the scent she was wearing. Not that it mattered. He was trained to take in all manner of stimuli wherever, that’s all it was.
The baby was quiet now, no doubt safe in her arms. He closed his eyes against the pain of departure again. He knew pleasure here, but pain was also all too familiar.
It had felt like slow motion. The whole world seemed to slow down even as his mind was screaming. Hurry! Don’t let him get so far ahead! The police were all over the place. The phone - “I need your help! Mulder“- still lying on the floor. Her intruder, hell, just say it, Duane Barry, had stomped it, abruptly halting her message. A message he hadn’t been there to take.
He bent down for a closer look at the glass coffee table. Blood, blood and a few strands of red hair . . . she was hurt and out of his reach. He would find her, nothing else was as important, but right now . . . A disturbance at the door drew his attention. Mrs. Scully, how could he explain to her . . . that was his first thought as he recognized the woman; but there was an immediate understanding from her. Somehow she knew he would find her. If only he had her confidence.
He could hear her soft footsteps now, but not coming this way, not yet. Then the sound of the rocker moving smoothly as she nursed or just held their son. Maybe her doorframe could stay intact if he was out of the way.
He stumbled inside as her arms reached for him. His father had been murdered, practically in front of his eyes. His father was gone and his secrets with him. Why hadn’t they killed him too? Her strong arms were leading him to her bedroom, she was speaking but he couldn’t make sense of it. Bed? Her bed. It smelled good. He almost felt safe, was his last thought before oblivion.
No, don’t go in there. It won’t help. He had to go, there was no other way.
He burst into the apartment, frantic, once again unable to reach her despite frantic calls to home and cell phone. But the sight that greeted him shocked him, disturbing him much more than Tooms had, very nearly to the level of when Duane Barry had violated this sanctuary. She’d been about to kiss him. ‘Him’! He clung to the hope that her look of horror upon his inelegant entrance was at the realization it wasn’t really him. She backed away quickly and they stared in shock as the ‘Mulder’ on the couch morphed into Eddie Van Blundht.
Then she met his eyes and for some reason her horror seemed to grow. What the hell was she thinking? He was no bounty hunter. Never the less he felt lost as she backed away from both of them, not discriminating as to which man horrified her more. Analyze later, Mulder! He order himself and he was moving again, his handcuffs making a satisfying locking noise as he closed them around Eddie’s wrists. He looked up to ask her to call 911, only to see that she had fled the room.
Had he ever been more uncomfortable here?
There was no sound now from the other room. Was she crying, muffling the sound in their son’s tiny neck?
He picked the lock quickly, easily. She’d never given him a key. He’d never asked why. She had carried his for years now. Unimportant. He glanced around to ensure he wasn’t observed and let himself in. He closed the door quickly and looked around. She should be home soon. He started for the couch, but he felt exposed, even alone. And what if someone came back here with her? Her brother was in town. Instead he turned down the short hall and opened the door to her bedroom. He’d been in here before, slept here even, but he wasn’t as familiar with the room as he was with the public areas of her place.
She’d understand. He couldn’t be in his apartment, not with Ostlehoff's body . . . he’d had no choice. She would see that.
If there was another way he’d find it. He needed to be with them as much as he needed to keep them safe by staying away.
Her door was gone yet again, but it taken him too long to understand. Donny Pfaster was her worst nightmare and he had her again. Why hadn’t he checked his messages, or paid closer attention to the signs, the music. There! “Put your hands up.” Damn Pfaster looked frustrated, Scully had obvious put up a hell of a - The sound of the shot shocked him. Then as the man collapsed, he spotted her, disheveled, battered, her sig pointed unerringly at the unarmed man. What had he accomplished before Mulder arrived? Fear for her escalated, she didn’t seem to know he was there. “Scully? Scully, it’s okay. He’s down.” She didn’t look at him, her gun still pointed at the body on the floor. Mulder moved closed. “Scully? Can you hear me?”
After a long moment she nodded and allowed him to take the gun from her hand. “It’s okay.” He pocketed her gun after slipping on the safety and squatted beside Pfaster, checking for vitals. “He’s dead.”
At last Scully seemed to relax. He rose and approached her, grabbing the afghan from the back of her couch and wrapping it around her shoulders.
Was that a sob? He took a step toward the bedroom before he could stop himself. She wouldn’t want him to see her like that. Even now she wanted him to see her as strong. How could she not know how strong he already knew she was?
He heard the door open, waking him with a start. Damn, he hadn’t meant to fall asleep, but knowing her appointment was today had robbed him of sleep last night. He turned to see her expression and rose immediately. “It didn’t take, did it?” He took her in his arms.
“It was my last chance.” He took held her closer. Her despair seemed beyond tears.
”Never give up on a miracle.”
Their miracle was coming toward him now. He hadn’t heard her enter the room he’d been so caught up in their past together, here in these rooms. How the hell did he walk out of this place? It was ‘their’ place now. How did he leave these two precious people behind? But how could he not? He had to protect them, that was the most important thing. He would do it, he would find what they needed and come home, here, to be with them again.
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Mulder, Scully, the Lone Gunman and Skinner all belong to Chris Carter, 10-13 and Fox. No infringement intended.