The tap on the door caused both women to look in that direction. Mulder stuck his head in and grinned. She spotted him and started to sit up. Immediately the heart monitor attached to Scully showed an increase. Mulder hobbled in, his hand up even as Maggie placed her hand on her daughter's shoulder.
"Take it easy, Scully." He took hold of her hand.
"I’m fine." She frowned at both of them. The monitor was coming back to a more normal range. Maggie adjusted the bed to a slightly upright position. "You shouldn't be out of bed,” Scully scolded, her grip on his hand not lessening.
He grinned. "I'm AWOL. I'd been in bed long enough."
Maggie wondered if it was his hand in hers that had really caused the monitors to quieten. "Fox, since you are here, AWOL or not, I think I'll stretch my legs and get a cup of coffee. Do you mind?"
"Not at all." He gave her a small smile, knowing that she was engineering some time for them and appreciating it.
She let herself out the door, smiling to herself. Mulder sank gratefully into the chair she had vacated. "Mulder, are you okay?"
"Just a little rusty walking, but I still have all ten toes. No major frostbite." They sat together in comfortable silence for a while as he watched himself play with her fingers. She didn’t pull away, enjoying the contact.
Finally he looked up at her and gave her his sideways grin.
"You really should be in bed," she rebuked him mildly.
"I couldn't get the information I needed in there."
"And what information was so important that you've gone AWOL?"
"How you were doing."
She smiled slightly then. “I told you I was fine. You were the one who was unconscious when they rescued us.”
“I was napping,” he protested and she rolled her eyes.
She squeezed his hand then, “I still can’t believe you came all the way to Antarctica.” She shook her head.
“Ah shucks, ma’am, ‘tweren’t nothin’.” He grinned at her.
“Mulder, that’s literally the end of the world. It’s like rescuing me from the moon or something.”
“Um, off planet might have been a little harder, but I’d have figured out a way.”
Her smile dropped away. “You . . . you would have.” She was staring at him now. The monitor began to accelerate.
“Scully?” He rose to his feet as the door opened and Maggie hurried in.
“Fox, she needs to rest now.” Maggie put her hand on his arm. A nurse followed Maggie into the room.
“Mr. Mulder,” she sounded disgusted. “You should be in your room. Come along.”
Mulder ignored her, watching Scully.
“Fox, it’s okay. You need to rest too.”
He looked at her as though Maggie had betrayed him to the Consortium. “You . . . you won’t leave her alone?”
Maggie didn’t dare show any amusement and his concern was justified. “I promise, Fox. Go on. I’ll come check on you in a little while.”
“Mr. Mulder - “ The nurse touched his shoulder and he sighed, resigned to being banished once more. Her pulse rate was still higher than he liked, but not enough to set off the alarms. Reluctantly he allowed the nurse to push him out the door.
Maggie was already reclining her bed. “Dana, what happened? It’s not like Fox to upset you.”
Scully looked up at her mother. “He . . . he’s in love with me.”
Maggie smiled, a little confused. “Of course he is.”
“Dana, you are not going to tell me you didn’t know that.”
Scully gave the tiniest of nods.
Maggie sank into the chair beside the bed. “Do you also not know you’re in love with him?”
Maggie chuckled softly. “Dana, come on. Think about it. When you were diagnosed with your . . . illness, he’s the only person you called. I didn’t necessarily agree, but I understood.”
“Mom, I just - “
“He’s the person you needed to get through the initial shock. It was the same when you found Emily. Your first call was to him and he raced to your side, like he always does. He probably wouldn’t be my first choice for you, he has so many . . . issues, but I’m grateful you have him. As for how long he’s loved
you . . . “
“I guess we’ve never talked about that time when you were missing.” Scully shifted to get more comfortable, never taking her eyes from her mother. “Fox and I spent a lot of time together. We drew strength from each other and we both really needed that. He would come over to eat; he even took me out a couple of times. He called to check in every day, even when he went out of town. But he wasn’t the Fox you had described to me. It was as though his, his center was gone. Even I could see it.”
Maggie moved closer and tugged a tissue from the box. She used it to blot the tears from Scully’s face, then handed it to her. “I, I didn’t realize I was crying.”
“It’s okay.” She brushed Scully’s hair back. “I hurt him badly though. I don’t think he’s ever quite forgiven me.”
“You hurt him? How?”
“We can talk about - “
“Please, I need to know.”
Maggie looked at the monitor; it was in the good range. She sighed, “I, I bought a headstone for you, Dana. I’m sorry, but I thought I would never see you again and I needed some sort of closure. Fox went with me to pick it up, even though he kept telling me it was too soon. But when they brought it out . . . he physically turned away from it. He couldn’t even look at it. I didn’t hear from him for three days after that. In fact, I didn’t see him again until you were returned. He raced to the hospital and after he saw you he . . . he lost it. I had never seen him like that. He was raving like a madman at the hospital staff. They called security.”
Maggie handed Scully
another tissue. “He refused my invitation to join us when we removed life
support. He knew we were only following your orders, but he . . . Missy finally
sent me to bed. I wouldn’t leave the hospital, but she said she’d sit with you
and call me . . . What she did was call Fox.”
She brushed her own tear away. “He came to the hospital and sat with you. Missy left the two of you alone. I don’t know what he said to you, but I believe he saved you then too. According to the nurses he left around 3 a.m. They found you awake about 3:15.”
“I . . . you never told me that.”
“I’m sorry. I should have.”
“So he loves me.”
“Yes. And you love him.”
“Mom, would do me a favor?”
“Go check on him. He won’t rest if he’s worrying about me.”
Maggie nodded. “You’re right.” She caressed her daughter’s arm. “You relax and heal; I’ll make sure he does too.”
He sat up abruptly when she entered the room. “Is she okay?”
Maggie nodded. “She’s asleep, so I thought I would check on you.”
“What happened? What did I do?”
“You didn’t do anything, Fox. She just realized something and it caught her off guard.”
“Realized, realized what?”
“That you are in love with her.”
She watched him freeze, not a muscle twitched. His expression was shielded. It reminded her of the faces of the abused children at the hospital where she volunteered. She blinked back the sudden tears that formed in her eyes. She knew instinctively that this man’s heart would stop if he saw her cry.
Maggie moved to the chair beside his bed and sat. “You know, I think of you and Dana as brilliant. Between the two of you, you have more education than anyone in the entire history of my family. So I guess it always surprises me when the two of you act so stupid.”
He blinked then, unable to shift gears so quickly.
Maggie shook her head. “Are you going to deny that you love her?”
“Good,” she said decisively. “I’m getting tired of this.”
“Do you, do you mind that I . . . “
She gave him a gentle smile then. “Do I mind that you love my daughter? Well, I will admit, I wouldn’t have picked you for her.”
He seemed to shrink a little at those words. “I understand . . . all the pain I’ve caused her, all of you.”
“Actually I was thinking you’re too tall for her, but I’d be wrong.”
He stared at her speechless. Was she kidding?
She chuckled then and patted his hand. “Fox, I’ve never seen two people more in love, more devoted, more . . . I don’t know, committed? I’ve seen what you do for each other.”
He shook his head. “What she’s done for me.”
“Do you want me to forget all of the things you’ve done for her?”
He looked over at the window, not prepared to argue with her. He knew how much he had hurt this woman too.
“You’re thinking about Melissa.” She sighed. He looked away for an instant, then seemed to steel his spine and looked back. He deserved whatever she wanted to say to him.
“I know you take the blame for her death. I know that Bill wants to blame you as well. I also know that it’s not your fault. You didn’t pull the trigger, Fox. They were trying to kill Dana.” He visibly winced from those words.
“I can’t begin to tell you that I understand why God would take Missy so young. What I do know is that without you, I wouldn’t have my baby girl either. Fox, what about that chip you found that put her cancer in remission, even if none of us want to admit it? . . . Fox, you hunted her down in Antarctica! No other man she’s ever been involved with would even contemplate such a thing.”
“What, what other men?” he teased, trying to lighten the mood at least a little, but she could see his concern. “Bill,” he said finally.
Maggie took a deep breath then, “Bill has always seen things in black and white. He’s got Matthew now; he’ll have to loosen up a little,” she sighed. “He and Missy were close at one time. As they got older, they moved onto separate paths. He went very by the book, Missy . . . didn’t. Then Dana ‘rebelled’ as well. It affected him.” Maggie gave him a sad smile. “As for other men, you’ll have to talk to her about that. In fact, I’d recommend that the two of you do a lot of talking, and soon.”
He gave her a weak smile. “Do you think she’d listen?”
Maggie pursed her lips, “She’d listen, even if she didn’t think she wanted to. Rest and get strong, Fox. You need each other.” She patted his arm again and settled back to keep him company for a little while.
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Mulder, Scully, the Lone Gunman and Skinner all belong to Chris Carter, 10-13 and Fox. No infringement intended.