He felt the heat against his back, but before he could turn, the blast slammed him against the concrete. Everyone around him went down as well. It was a blessing the blast had knocked them down; the glass and debris that filled the air where they had been standing would have killed them as surely as it had the people in the building. The explosion stunned him, but only for a second. He rose to hands and knees shaking his head. A bomb? There'd been no warning, no evidence, no. . . Scully!
He staggered to his feet. The air was full of dust and smoke, he could barely see. Scully had still been inside; he’d left her inside! He had to get to her. The building he had just vacated was gone. There was a small fire on the west side of the building, probably a gas main. He had to find her before this side of the rubble caught fire.
He could already hear sirens; people were running this way. He shook his head again. She'd been in the file room with that policeman, Kellman? He started toward the building. He had to get her out.
"Stay back, sir. You can't go in there. It's too dangerous."
"My partner's in there! I've got to get inside."
"No one goes in there, sir. They'll get dogs here to search for survivors."
Survivors, the word crashed in on him. In that building? He shoved past the policeman in his way.
"Stop!" It took three of them to hold him and drag him back from the ruins. The police were shoving him into a squad car when he was able to get his ID out.
"My partner's in there! I have to get her out! She might be injured. We're wasting time!"
"Let the experts handle this, Agent. . ." he glanced down at the ID again. "Mulder? You could only make things worse."
"Officer Kellman is in there with her." He’d play any card to get in there. Kellman was one of theirs.
"Kellman? Andy Kellman? Shit, look we still can't go in there. We could bring what is standing down on them and us. You're going to have to wait here, why don't you let the paramedics patch you up?" They turned from him to discuss how to reach Kellman’s wife.
Patch him up? He was bleeding. He hadn't even noticed. He slumped down onto the running board of the truck they had flung him against. The cops turned back to other emergencies.
Mulder heard the shorter of the two say, "Hey, you're my partner, would you be that anxious to get to me?"
"If I had feelings like that for you, my wife would kill both of us, you ass."
What had the cop said? Feelings, she was his partner, his. . . Scully. What was wrong with him? Get a grip Mulder. Scully wasn't dead. Surely he'd know, he'd feel it if she were. . . gone. There had to be something he could do.
Cell phone! Scully had her cell phone with her. He was already punching in her number. Not in service? She never turned off her phone, not like him. Like when he ditched her to go off on his own. She was always accessible, to him. She made a point of it, because he always needed her to get him out of whatever he’d gotten into. The phone must have been damaged in the explosion.
Explosion. Scully had been caught in an explosion. He tried to rise to his feet, but he was shaking too hard. No! Damn it! He couldn't help her like this. He had to get control; they'd need men to help. He had to get her out.
He made it to his feet. Each step got firmer. He could be a help, he would be. She'd be ashamed of him. He shucked his coat, which was ruined anyway, and approached the line of volunteers hauling debris. For now at least he was moving.
He paused to stretch his back. How long had he been doing this? It felt like his whole life. They were bringing bodies out of the building now. He faltered, bodies. But they weren't from the section of the building where he had left her. He'd left her, just walked out of the building without looking back.
It was better not to think. Just work, just. . . his cell phone trilled. He dropped the block of concrete he was holding.
"Scully! Is that you?"
"Mulder? It's Skinner. What's going on?"
Skinner? Maybe he could speed things up. "The building exploded. No bomb threat was called in that I know of."
"The word we’re getting here is sketchy. How many people are injured?"
"Forty or so. They've brought out five bodies so far."
"She was inside. . . " He had to swallow to finish the sentence. "Inside the building."
There was silence on both ends of the phone.
"Mulder, what do they need?"
"Dogs are on the way, all the emergency crews are mobilized."
"Was it a bomb?"
"There's no smell of cordite, but I'm no expert. You're going to need to get those people here. There was no warning of this, none."
"Why were you and Scully there?"
"We were checking county records, for the case we're on."
"Yes." Why ask that? It was irrelevant to what was going on now, wasn't it?
"I'll have people there in a couple of hours. Keep me posted."
"Yes sir." He broke the connection. Something was happening on the east side of the building now, so he headed that way. The dogs were finally here. Now they would find her, get her to a hospital, get her help.
She woke feeling heavy. Something was on top of her, she couldn't. . . What had happened? She was covered in books and drawers, but more. She couldn't sit up. Was she. . . no she couldn't be paralyzed? She could feel pain, that was good wasn't it? She thought she was wiggling her toes, she could move her right arm. The left was trapped. Where was she? Think, Dana! Records, she and Mulder had come to the county office. Mulder! Where was he? If he was under this rubble he was badly hurt or. . . no, she refused to even think that. Were they looking for her? She couldn't hear anything. Surely they were already searching, and the policeman that was with her. Where was he? She was able to turn her head, though that didn't reveal much of the room to her. The large shelves that had held the property map books had fallen over. The oversized books were on top of her, but the heavy wooden shelves themselves had hit the wall, giving her some space. That had probably saved her life. It looked like other shelves had fallen onto the ones sheltering her, a domino effect. What had happened? Earthquake? No, not around here. It had to have been an explosion; there was so much damage. Why weren't they coming to find them? Mulder would be looking for her if he was . . . stop it, Mulder was alive and he was looking for her. Maybe it had only been a couple of minutes.
Mulder was not dead. She couldn't go on if he. . . why couldn't she hear anything? She needed to hear his voice, she would be okay, everything would be okay, if she could hear his voice. He had to be alive, how would she go on if she could never see him again?
She was getting sleepy. She must be losing blood. If she went into shock she wouldn't be able to help herself. Why was no one coming? Mulder, please. I need you. I need to know you're still with me. Mulder. . .
Why was everything taking so long? He'd always had the impression these dogs worked quickly. How many hours could she last in there? If she was hurt, every minute could count. This time, this delay, it was costing her.
He blinked and sheltered his eyes as the lights they'd brought in to keep the search going were turned on. When had it gotten dark? He glanced at his watch. Five hours? Scully had been trapped inside for five hours? If she were bleeding. . . no. He had to stay positive, send her what energy he could. She was his partner; she'd survived everything that had been thrown at them. She'd had to, to keep up with him. His partner, his Dana, hell, his life.
"We found one alive!" His head whipped around, the rest of his body wouldn't move. Man or woman? He needed more information. The rescue team raced past him and he finally got moving.
The police tried to hold him back with the others; this was a new shift. But once seeing his ID let him approach the building. He headed for the dog's trainer.
"The person they found alive, was it a man or a woman?"
"A woman. She's under a lot of debris, it's gonna take a while."
"Was she conscious?"
"No, but there was a pulse. I need to get back."
"Yeah, yeah thanks."
It could be her; it was the right location. Who else had been in the room? The cop, the woman behind the counter, anyone else? Yes, he closed his eyes to better visualize the room. An older gentleman at the far table, a lawyer type at the counter. Any other women? No, just Scully and the clerk. Which one had they found? What was taking so long? They knew time was critical if she was injured.
They were bringing out. . . no, another body. It was Kellman, the cop she'd been talking to when he walked away from her. Just walked away, as though they had all the time in the world. He should have been with her. His logical side tried to remind him there was nothing he could have done. The blast would have killed him, but if he had died shielding her, it would have been have been worth it.
It had gotten quieter since the lights had come on. The crowd was bigger, but more respectful. At least the civilians were. More reporters were flowing in like scavengers - how do you feel about seeing your wives, friends and co-workers torn to shreds in a senseless act? They'd stayed clear of him; he probably looked as dangerous as he felt. His clothes were torn, filthy and blood stained. He'd strangle the first reporter to ask him an inane question like that.
Finally! They were coming out again, with a stretcher this time, not a bag. Why couldn't he move? He had to know which woman was alive. He forced one foot in front of the other; he was running when he reached the stretcher. Scully!
"Is she. . . ?" The huge collar around her neck was keeping her immobile. There were already IV’s in her arms.
"We need to transport now, sir."
"Was she conscious?"
"Yeah, she's sedated now to move her." The paramedics hadn't stopped moving toward the ambulance.
"Did she say anything?"
"Are you a reporter?"
"No, I'm her partner." He had his badge in his hand again, keeping pace with the rescue workers.
"I'm not sure she was aware of her surroundings. She was muttering the same word over and over. I think she was trying to say murder, but it was garbled, like mulder or something. Hey are you okay?"
It all crashed in on him at once. She was alive, and she'd been calling for him. His knees gave out and it all went black.
He woke in the emergency room. He was immediately struggling to get to his feet.
"Hold on, Mr. Mulder. You just stay right where you are."
"Scully? They found her, where is she?"
"The woman they brought in? They've already moved her upstairs for surgery. You stay here until we've finished with you. Have you eaten today?"
"What kind of surgery? What was wrong with her?"
"Not my case. She's in good hands. When did you last eat?"
"What? Uh, breakfast I think. Why?"
"Because that was probably around 14 hours ago and you've run out of adrenaline. You can behave and go eat something, or I'll stick an IV in you right here." Had she been in the same platoon as Skinner? These military types were always threatening him.
"I'll eat. Just tell me what floor she's on."
"Fourth, the surgical wing. There's a waiting room up there, but not until after you eat. They're not going to let you in now anyway. Listen, what good are you going to be to her if you collapse again? I'm not kidding about that IV, I'll do it."
He believed her. He nodded meekly and she finally allowed him to sit up. "How did I get here?"
"The same ambulance that transported your friend. You apparently went down like a rock when you saw her. She's your partner?"
Mulder ignored that and tested his legs, yes he could stand. Partner? She was the reason he woke up every morning. He had to see her again, see what was wrong and find out when he could talk to her. Tell her he'd never leave her side again, tell her. . . Why was this woman still talking to him?
". . . cafeteria on this floor and no coffee!"
"What? Sure, can I go now?" She finally stepped aside. If he passed out again, they'd bring him back here and she'd strap him down. "Partner", yeah right.
He stumbled to the fourth floor and did actually stop at the candy machine. Then he wandered toward the waiting room, digging out his phone again. No answer at the first number, he tried the second.
"It’s Mulder. They found her and she’s alive." He heard Skinner’s relief flood back at him over the phone. "Her mother’s not home, I can’t leave this kind of message on a machine."
"I’ll find Mrs. Scully. Where are you?" He made notes then asked, "What is her condition?"
"They won’t talk to me yet. This place looks like a war zone. They’re only transporting the wounded. The bodies are at the site, but additional equipment keeps arriving, so I guess they’ll be here soon."
"If they give you grief, have them call me."
"They won’t. I’m listed as next of kin."
Skinner didn’t comment, he hadn’t known that. Was she his as well? They were partners, but still, they did have family. Not important, not now anyway.
She woke slowly, where was she? The weight was gone from on top of her. She'd been rescued? Yes, this was definitely a hospital. She still couldn't move her left arm. She managed to look down at it, a cast. Broken huh? Well, that wasn't so bad, maybe everything else. . . Mulder! Where was Mulder? Had they gotten him out? Was he. . . her eyes were frantically searching the room.
Mulder. Sprawled all over the chair, asleep. He looked terrible, the lines in his face were deep, even in sleep and he really needed a shave. She'd never seen anything so beautiful. He hadn't been hurt. He wasn't in the explosion. Those lines came from looking for her. She shouldn't wake him, but she needed to hear his voice.
"Mulder? Mulder, wake up."
His whole body jerked awake at once, and he was on his feet. She watched him form her name on his lips and reach for her. His hands were on her face, smoothing back her hair, his lips on her forehead. She raised her right hand to caress his cheek, appreciating the stubble against her fingers.
"I'm okay, Mulder. I'm okay. Tell me what happened."
His lips continued to move, but he couldn't make a sound. No, that wasn't it. "Mulder? Mulder, are you talking? You're not just moving your lips, are you? Mulder, I can't hear you! I can't hear, I can't. . ."
His hands were on her again. Soothing her, trying to calm her. He pressed the call button and when the door opened he turned his head, but she still heard nothing. The nurse retreated quickly.
She was deaf. She was stone deaf. She was shaking now, through the whole thing she'd only wanted to hear his voice, when would she ever be able to do that? This was a worse nightmare than the building. This could be forever!
He caught her face between his hands, "Scully. Calm down. You were in an explosion. Your ears just need to heal a little. You need to relax." He'd enunciated each word slowly, allowing her to read his lips.
Right, there had been an explosion. Of course her ears were concussed. She was a doctor; she needed to get a grip. His eyes turned toward the door, so she looked as well. Doctors, smiling and efficient, they better have some answers.
They were obviously asking Mulder to leave the room, like hell. She was gripping his hand with hers and she wasn’t about to let go. She could almost smile, he was armed, they wouldn’t get him out. He did move to the foot of the bed and placed his hand on her leg. He seemed to need to touch her as much as she needed him.
His hand was calming as the doctor examined her ears and tested her with the portable equipment. More tests would come later, she knew that, but maybe this could tell them something. The crowd finally left, leaving them alone with the first doctor.
Mulder moved back up to the head of the bed, so the doctor could face her as he spoke. He was very reassuring. Her ears had suffered trauma, but there was no indication of permanent damage at this time. He wanted her to rest and let the swelling go down for a couple of days before any further tests were done. She would be here for several days anyway, letting her body recover from the battering it had taken. She had taken a severe beating and been extremely lucky not to have more serious internal injuries.
She realized her hand was cramping from gripping his so tightly and tried to loosen her grip. His own tightened and she turned to smile at him. The lines around his eyes hadn’t gone away, he had been scared, for her. How long had she been in the building? She had so many questions and only Mulder could answer them. She wanted to hear his voice!
When the doctor finally left, she began asking those questions and he carefully made sure she understood. How many people had been killed? Twelve bodies recovered so far. How long had she been in there? Six hours. Six? She’d had no idea. No wonder those lines were so firmed etched, she’d been unconscious for most of it thank goodness.
How many others found alive? None so far. That caused a tremor throughout her body. How many injured? He didn’t know. What had happened? Again, he didn’t know. Skinner had people on site now investigating that. The information they had been looking for was undoubtedly gone.
Oh and her mother was on her way. That’s when she finally gave into the tears. Yes, she wanted her mother. And she wanted to hear something. Anything at this point. She took a deep breath, the doctor had been right. It would take time before they could even decide if there was damage.
The nurse came with a sedative and Mulder insisted she take it. She in turn forced a promise from him to go back to the room to shower and rest. He was still there when she drifted off, and there when she woke, though his clothes were different and that beautiful stubble was gone.
"Talk, Mulder. Can I hear yet?" She saw her name of his lips, but no sound. It was okay; his hand was on her cheek telling her he would be there.
He looked up at the door and she turned. Mom! She couldn’t see what her mother said for the tears, but it didn’t matter, she was here. The two people Scully needed to heal were here. She watched her mother hug Mulder and loved how he enjoyed it.
It was three days before she could convince the doctors she was strong enough to be transported back to DC. Her doctors on site had many long conversations with the FBI audiologist and after she and Mulder’s assurance that she would have constant care and use a wheelchair, finally released her.
This was her first time back out in the world. She’d had no idea how frightening it would be to be in such a familiar surrounding as an airport, and not hear a sound.
She was beginning to tremble. She didn’t want Mulder to notice he was worried enough about her though he tried to hide it. Her mother touched her shoulder and pointed to the drink machine. Dana nodded, maybe that would help. Mulder continued pushing her toward the gate.
She realized that Mulder was speaking to the man at the counter, but of course heard nothing. As Mulder turned the chair a child raced by and barely brushed Scully’s arm. She started violently and couldn’t stop the tears that escaped. Mulder put his hand on her shoulder, and sped up. In a few moments they were inside the employee lounge closest to the gate and he had her in his arms.
She hadn’t wanted him to realize. She needed to be stronger than this. She hid her face in his neck and began sobbing, which is when Mrs. Scully finally caught up with them. Scully could feel Mulder talking, but refused to turn and see who was there. Her embarrassment was all consuming.
Mulder let her cry herself out, then handed her his handkerchief. When he felt she was ready, he lifted her chin to look into her eyes.
"Are you better now?" She continued snuffling, but managed to nod. "Your mother was here, she’s waiting out by the gate for us."
Her mother! She’d completely forgotten her. She couldn’t work up the energy for a lot of guilt. Mulder held her until it was time to board the plane. They boarded first and he offered the seat next to Scully to her mom. She shook her head and squeezed his arm. "I think she’ll feel better with you beside her. It’s okay, Fox."
They settled in and exhausted from the physical and emotional toll, Scully was soon asleep against Mulder’s side.
"Fox? I want to ask you something. I know it’s an imposition but I really think it would help Dana’s recovery if you stayed at my house too, while she’s there."
Mulder looked away and tied to hide his smile then turned back to her. "It’s not an imposition. I was wondering how to invite myself."
He watched the smile grow on her face. It made her look more like Scully. He couldn’t help grinning back at her.
The trip home was uneventful and Mulder did allow her to walk from the car to the door when they arrived at Mrs. Scully’s home. Mrs. Scully assured Dana she would bring some clothes over the next day, so she would be more comfortable, then she began preparing dinner.
While Scully was lying down, Mulder brought his own suitcase in and at Mrs. Scully’s instruction took the room that shared a bath with Scully’s. Mulder was tossing the salad when Scully joined them in the kitchen. His smile almost made up for the silence.
Mrs. Scully glanced at Mulder when the phone rang and wiping her hands went to the other room to answer.
Scully glanced after her and turned questioning to Mulder. "The phone." He said slowly and she nodded. "Scully?" He touched her arm. She turned back to him; "I need to ask you something." She nodded. "Your mother asked me to move in with you two for awhile. Is that a problem?"
Her eyes had misted up and he felt a surge of fear. He was smothering her and she hated that. She probably thought he didn’t trust her to be capable of handling things.
"Scully please, I know you don’t need. . . "
"Mulder." She put her finger on his lips. "I’m so glad you’re going to be here." Her eyes said more and he was able to draw a breath.
Mrs. Scully was back, bustling around the kitchen. Once the food was on the table and everyone was seated, she said, "Dana?" and touched her arm, "That was Bill on the phone." Scully decided to ignore the face Mulder made at her out of her mother’s sight. She even managed not to smile. "He wanted to check on you and said he might be here in a couple of weeks."
"Is the family okay?" Scully asked. Her mother smiled and nodded.
Scully insisted on helping with the dishes, then everyone retired to the family room. Mrs. Scully excused herself shortly, pleading fatigue after the trip and Mulder insisted Scully go on to bed a few minutes later.
Scully jerked awake, breathing rapidly. She didn’t remember the dream and she must not have cried out, because no one came. She rose and went into the bathroom for a drink. She noticed that Mulder’s light was still on. Maybe he was having trouble sleeping in a strange location.
She pushed the door opened a crack, it hadn’t been completely closed, and saw him, sound asleep, having kicked off the covers. She found herself appreciating the fact he was only wearing the gray flannel boxers. He looked so comfortable. She would be so comfortable beside him.
Dana! But he wouldn’t have to know. She probably wouldn’t go back to sleep anyway; all she’d done for days was sleep. She could just cuddle for a while and leave. She realized her feet had taken her beside the bed. Oh hell, she snapped off the light and crawled in next to him, pulling the covers over them.
Mulder immediately turned and gathered her up next to him, tucking her against his chest, his chin resting on her hair. But he didn’t wake.
Well, he certainly didn’t seem to mind her presence. It was the safest she’d felt since before the explosion. She felt herself relaxing and did drift back off to sleep.