They watched the escalator steps rise, the spray of blood increasing. Mulder fought to get his breathing under control.
“Mulder? Are you okay?” she asked anxiously.
He reached over and flipped the switch that stopped the stairs from their continuous motion and slowly rose to his feet. “We need to get Skinner over here.”
She knew he had evaded her question, but let it pass for now. She pulled out her cell phone and placed the call herself. After she broke the connection, she looked over at Mulder again. “What about the police?”
“Let’s wait until Skinner gets here.”
She looked him up and down, but kept quiet. She wasn’t sure what to say anyway. She still had to accept that a 100 year old, liver eating mutant really had been hibernating in the basement and had attacked him.
“Here,” she said as she took his arm. “You might as well rest until he gets here.” He hesitated for a moment, then nodded his head. She carefully helped him slide back to the floor so that he could rest his back against the base of the escalator.
Skinner had made better time than she had expected, and she moved to the door to let him in when she heard him tapping on the glass.
He followed her back to Mulder in silence. His eyes narrowed as he looked Mulder over. “What is that stench?”
He was speaking to Mulder, but it was Scully who answered. “Bile. Tooms’ nest was in the basement.”
Skinner held up his left hand to halt her as he reached down with his right to help Mulder to his feet. “Start at the damn beginning.”
Skinner was talking to the police now. He was using his position to keep things under control, but Scully was watching Mulder. He’d abruptly taken a seat on the floor again in the middle of his rendition and she was pretty sure his hands were shaking. No one was near him now, so she knelt beside him.
“Mulder, are you okay?”
“Tired,” was his only response, though he didn’t meet her eyes.
Well that was understandable. He was really looking drained. She joined Skinner and pulled him to the side. “How much longer will you need us?” she asked him quietly.
He glanced over at Mulder and saw what she had seen. “You two can go on. I’ll need a written report by five tomorrow.”
“Thank you.” She nodded up at him, then returned to Mulder, who had made it back to his feet. “We’ve been cut free. Let’s get out of here.”
He only nodded, following her out. His hand didn’t touch her back. She turned to find him and saw him sway slightly.
“Give me the keys, Mulder.”
“The keys. I’m driving.”
“Scully, I am perfectly capable of - “ He looked up to see her eyebrow on the rise, her hand out to accept the keys.
It wasn’t worth the fight. He put the keys in her hand and turned to the passenger side. He sat heavily in the car and her concern rose a notch. She pulled into the street, and around the police cars.
“Mulder, are you all right?”
“He, uh, he may have gotten a piece of me.”
“What?” He grabbed the handle of his door when she swerved. “What do you mean?”
“When he grabbed my leg.”
“Damn it, Mulder! Why didn’t you say something? I’m taking you to the ER right now.”
“No. That’s why I didn’t say anything. I just want to go home.”
“If he broke the skin, it needs to be cleaned, disinfected - “ She glanced back over at him.
“You can handle that, can’t you?” He was shaking now.
Her hand came out to touch his forehead. He was a little cool, but it was the shaking that was bothering her. Could he be going into shock? He closed his eyes and seemed to press into her hand.
“Just rest, Mulder.” She made the first left turn and headed toward her apartment.
He seemed to drift off, and she didn’t disturb him until she was parked in front of her building. “Mulder. Mulder, we’re here. I need you to wake up.”
“Mmm, Scully? What . . . “
“Let’s go inside, let me look at your leg.”
“Where . . . this is your place.”
“Yes, it is.”
“Why are we here?”
“You wanted me to treat you. My things are here. It’s okay.” She let herself out and hurried around to help him.
He was even less steady on his feet. She took his arm and led him into her apartment building. As soon as she got them inside her apartment, she took his trench coat and his suit coat and seated him on the couch. “Let me see your leg.”
He gingerly pulled up the fabric of his slacks. She could see that his sock was torn. She squatted in front of him and carefully exposed the scratches on his leg. They didn’t look deep, but blood had oozed from the wounds.
“Do you think you could handle a shower?”
He blinked at her, his eyes widening. “A shower? Here?”
“Yes,” she spoke matter of factly.
“I think you’d feel better and then I could irrigate the scratches and bandage them.”
He nodded and hoisted himself up off the couch.
“There are towels in there, anything you should need. Okay?”
He nodded and shuffled toward the bathroom. She heard the water cut on, then gathered up her supplies to take care of him. It occurred to her that putting on the clothes that still reeked of bile wouldn’t help matters, so she took her white terrycloth robe to the door. She tried the knob and found it unlocked. She quietly stepped inside and took his clothing, leaving her robe and his boxers over the toilet. She’d need to bag the clothing anyway, as evidence.
He stood under the hot spray and sighed as some of the tension ebbed from his body. After a moment, he picked up her bottle of shower gel and sniffed it, feeling the last tentacles of tension ease away
When he joined her in the living room, he was wearing his boxers, with the robe wrapped around his shoulders. His sheepish look brought an amused smile to her face.
“I should be grateful it’s not pink, right?” he muttered as he sank back onto the couch.
“I’m a redhead, Mulder. I don’t do pink,” she said dryly. She lifted his leg to lay on the towel she’d spread out on the coffee table. He quickly moved the robe down and placed it across his lap, but she ignored it. The heat of the shower had caused the blood to flow once again and she was pleased to see it. She irrigated the area with some bottled water, then checked it again. Stitches weren’t needed, but it was going to be sore. He grumbled loudly and clutched at the couch cushion when she disinfected the area.
After she had bandaged it, she leaned back. “Okay, now I want to give you shot of penicillin.”
“A shot?” he whined.
“Mulder, there’s no telling what was under Tooms’ fingernails. Come on, be a big boy.”
He scowled, but leaned over to offer his arm.
She shook her head. “The hip.”
He stopped, looking at her in disbelief.
“Come on, Mulder.”
“Now you’re just trying to humiliate me.”
She held the needle up and turned to face him. “Mulder.”
He heaved a very put-upon sigh and began to pull down the waistband of his boxers slightly. He grimaced as she stuck him and continued to complain even though she’d walked away to dispose of the syringe.
“Are you through bitching?” she called from the kitchen.
“Your bedside manner needs some work, Scully.”
He heard her chuckle and smiled for the first time since he’d escaped from that vile hole.
When she returned to the living room, she had turkey sandwiches and a bowl of broccoli and cauliflower with dip. He eyed the bowl with trepidation, then reached for the sandwich.
She didn’t push the issue, glad he was eating something. He picked up the glass she had brought him and took a sip. Iced tea. He found he couldn’t look up at her.
“Scully, I need to head home.”
“You’re not going home tonight.”
He did look up then. “Excuse me?”
“Well for one thing, you can’t leave in my robe and your clothes are ruined. Just stay here tonight.”
“You - “
“You can have the bed.”
“I can’t take your bed.”
“Why not? You’d do the same for me, if you had a bed.” She cut her eyes at him.
He mock glared at her for a moment. “Really, Scully. I’m fine. You’ve taken care of me enough tonight, I - “
“Mulder, go get ready for bed.” Her tone brooked no discussion.
He glanced over at the bedroom. It should be okay, with the door shut she shouldn’t hear anything. He took a deep breath and rose from the couch. He was only limping a little as she watched him move away from her.
When she was sure he’d had time to get settled, she tapped on the door and opened it. He looked up startled and grabbed the covers. She couldn’t stop the chuckle.
“Are you going to tuck me in?” he asked with mock concern.
“I wanted to check your leg one more time, make sure it’s not seeping.”
He actually did look a little frightened and she realized he was lying in her bed, wearing only his boxers. For the millionth time she cursed her red-hair. What would it be like not to blush at every thought?
She moved the sheet to uncover his leg. Damn he had a nice body and she needed to get the hell out of here. “Looks good, Mulder. Get some rest.”
He nodded, pulling the sheet back over his leg. He watched as she withdrew something from her dresser drawer and let herself out, pulling the door shut. He relaxed back against the pillow.
Mistake, it smelled of her. That wasn’t exactly relaxing. Having her run her hands over his leg wasn’t either. She’d had iced tea for him, but that didn’t mean anything. Lots of people had iced tea in their fridge, ready to drink.
“I wouldn’t put myself on the line for anyone but you.”
He felt warm just thinking about that. He’d made a crack, but he’d been moved more than he’d wanted to be. She wasn’t at all what he’d expected. He’d made up his mind about her before he’d met her. Now she had spent months chipping away at his preconceived notions. It was annoying and . . . and he trusted her, damn it. When the thought had come to him that if Tooms got past him the danger to her was . . . Damn it.
He made himself comfortable. The pain in his leg was nearly gone. It had just been a scratch after all. The reaction had come from knowing . . . hell from knowing suddenly that he cared about her. He'd had to save her from the same monster twice. Maybe Colton should have talked her into - No.
Adreline gone, his eyes slid shut.
He was in Tooms' cave again, the first time. The sight of Scully's necklace on the table caused his blood pressure to go through the roof. Now he was racing to her, shattering her doorframe to get inside. Then, then it was quiet. They were alone in the dark. "I wouldn't put myself on the line for anyone but you." He leaned over and kissed her and she had responded. She had responded.
Then he was climbing up the base of the escalator, battered, covered in bile. Why hadn't Tooms killed him? Why had Tooms surged past him after incapacitating him? Then he saw her, lying on the marble floor, ripped open like a . . . oh god, no! No! NO!
Scully jerked awake at the cry that came from her room. She was on her feet and running before she had time to think of grabbing up her robe. What the hell had happened?
He was lying there in a fetal position. Was he crying? All she could understand was the word 'no' and he kept repeating it over and over.
"Mulder, Mulder wake up. It's okay, it's just a dream." Did he have dreams like this often, or had tonight's events triggered this?
"Mulder, can you hear me?" She sat down on the bed beside him and was stroking his cheek. Her touch seemed to calm him, but he didn't wake. His shaking had decreased at her touch.
When she removed her hand, he became restless again. Searching for the warmth, the human contact?
He was calm again, but she was still worried. Instead of returning to the living room, she made herself comfortable beside him. He was asleep, so she relaxed next to him. He was covered, his leg wasn't bleeding. She could sleep here on top of the covers in case he needed her again. Nothing would happen, she was just giving him comfort.
Mmmm, Scully scent. She sure smelled better than any other partner he'd had. He burrowed his face into her breasts and let his hand cup one. Nice.
She turned then, pulling him closer. "Muld . . . "
His eyes flew open then. This wasn't a dream. He was lying in bed groping his partner. What the hell? He moved slightly to get his bearings without realizing he wasn't breaking the embrace.
He was in a bed, under the covers. She was beside him, but on top of the spread. She was wearing pajamas - with no bra - and allowing him to sleep with his head on her breasts. Think Mulder.
Apartment - this was her apartment. Tooms, his leg had been injured and she had brought him here when he hadn't wanted to go to the ER. This was her bedroom. But she'd been in the living room. What had brought her in here?
Shit! Had he had a nightmare? Which one? He'd obviously gone back to sleep afterwards, with her holding him.
"I wouldn't put myself on the line for anyone but you."
He couldn't get that line out of his head. What did it mean? She had lied for him, to protect him. He'd been shocked speechless. They hadn't talked about that. But it had shown him something he hadn't realized about her - she cared for him, not just her partner, him. But this. How should he interpret this?
She moved in his arms and his body sprang to life. He eased slightly away from her, but she followed. Damn she fit well for such a little thing.
He smiled at that thought. Even now he knew she'd snatch him baldheaded if he referred to her as small. In truth, he usually didn't think of her that way. He had last night. His smile faded. If Tooms had gotten past him, she would have been killed. Tooms had been crazed at being discovered and he would have ripped her liver from her, regardless of his need.
Mulder shivered and his arms tightened around her. He'd have lost her.
She stirred then, "Mulder?"
"It's okay." It was. They were partners, maybe more. He hoped more. He’d take it slow, she was too important to rush. But she had put herself on the line for him. He wouldn’t forget it.
Author’s notes: Don’t know how long this has been on the hard drive. I believe it was the beginning of a PMP I started for Tali that just wouldn’t go NC-17 for me <g>. Hope you enjoy!
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Mulder, Scully, the Lone Gunman and Skinner all belong to Chris Carter, 10-13 and Fox. No infringement intended.