Now she was really worried. She hadn’t heard from him all weekend. That wasn’t unheard of, but it was unusual. Not showing up for work on Monday, though; something was wrong. She’d left six messages on his machine, and his cell phone was off. Even if he’d taken off without her again there would have been word by now.
His car was there; she felt her pulse quicken. She knocked, but there was no answer. She pulled out her key and cautiously opened the door; nothing in the living room or kitchen. The couch was empty, but the bedroom door was shut.
Then the smell hit her. It was a smell that, as a pathologist, was all too familiar. Something was dead. She steadied herself on the doorframe, then drew her gun and entered the bedroom.
Mulder lay on the bed, one arm and his head hanging off the side.
“Mulder.” It came out as a whisper. She flew to the bed, a pulse. He was alive! He was . . . but she wasn’t. Scully stared paralyzed at the nude, dead woman in Mulder’s bed; one of his hideous ties too tight around her neck.
Concentrate on him. Don’t think. . . just don’t think. Not yet.
“Mul . . . Mulder. Wake up, you’ve got to wake up.”
He opened an eye and saw Scully. He tried to lift his head and groaned as a wave of nausea swept over him.
“You’re in your apartment; your bed.”
“Uh, what’s . . . ” His arm brushed against the cold body of the woman. He looked over and scrambled from the bed, his nausea and newly noticed nudity forgotten.
“I can see that.” He took hold of the dresser to stay on his feet. “What happened?”
“I think that’s my question, Mulder.” She should be helping him, why was she reacting like this?
“You don’t think . . . Scully?”
“We better call Skinner.”
“Scully, I . . . ” He reached for her, but she stepped back away from him.
“God, Scully . . . Let me, let me put on some clothes. We need to talk.” He reached for the clothes on the floor by the bed.
“Not those, they’re evidence.”
“Evi . . . evidence?”
Scully turned from him and pulled a pair of sweat pants from the drawer.
“I’ll, uh . . . I’ll be in the bathroom.”
“You better preserve a specimen while you’re in there.”
“Sure, Dr. Scully, I‘ll take care of that.” His anger was rapidly replacing his fear and giving him the strength to make it to the other room, but his headache was increasing dramatically.
When he emerged from the bathroom, he placed a paper cup on the dresser, then passed a trembling hand across his brow. She saw the cold sweat on his forehead.
She took his arm then and led him out of the bedroom and seated him on the couch. “Just sit, Mulder. I’ll get you some water.”
He watched her walk away from him with a sense of dread. What the hell was going on here?
She returned with water and juice. She had him alternate the two until both were gone. She still hadn’t taken a seat herself and he looked up at her.
“Mulder, just for the record, did you kill this woman?”
“No. No Scully, I did not kill her, and as long as we’re on the record, I didn’t fuck her either.”
She flinched from the crudity.
“Where have you been, Mulder?”
“It’s Monday evening, I’ve been calling you since Friday.”
“Monday? No . . . It’s, oh shit.” He put his head in his hands; his headache was back with a vengeance.
“Maybe you picked her up, came back here and she drugged you or something.”
“I didn’t pick her up, and even if I did that kind of thing, I’d never bring her back here. My god, Scully, that’s the bed you use when you stay over. I’d never . . . I’d never bring a woman to your bed.”
She closed her eyes and sat on the coffee table.
She shook her head.
“What killed her?”
“I haven’t done an exam, but it looks like she was strangled.”
“Scully, I didn’t do this. I know what it looks like, but I didn’t do it.”
She still couldn’t get a grip on this. It was too close; it was too . . . concentrate, Dana.
“There were no used condoms.”
“Why would there be? I told you I didn’t . . . ”
“Mulder, call the police. It will look better if you place the call. Then I’ll get Skinner.”
“You don’t believe me.” He was watching her, trying to read her, but she was shuttered off, not meeting his eyes.
She couldn’t find her voice and knew her hands were shaking.
“Fine, I’ll call the police. You can leave if you want to.”
“Mulder . . . ”
He’d turned from her and dialed 911. “I need the police. I’ve just found a dead woman in my apartment. Yeah, I’ll be here.” They spoke a few more minutes then he placed the phone back in the cradle and turned. She had left him alone while he placed the call. He hadn’t heard her return; he didn’t realized how close she was. He drew back, away from her.
“Drink some more juice, Mulder. You need it.”
He took the glass from her, but didn’t bring it to his lips, just watching her.
“Mulder, I’m sorry. I can’t seem to . . . to walk in here and find you in bed with another woman would be bad enough, but . . . ”
“I don’t know how she got in my bed, Scully, but it was not by my invitation. You’ve got to know that.”
“Have you looked at her?”
“Not really.” He flinched slightly at the thought.
“Do.” She wanted to turn away from him, but she couldn’t.
He forced himself to his feet and walked slowly back to his bedroom. He took a deep breath, then moved over to the bed. She was short, couldn’t be more than 5’2”, blue eyes, red . . . he faltered, red hair. She looked like Scully. Not really. She wasn’t nearly as attractive, but the resemblance. Oh God . . . He realized that she had followed him into the room.
“Scully, I never . . . ”
“You can see it.”
“Of course, but . . . ”
“I can’t think straight right now, Mulder. I just can’t. We need to get Skinner over here; maybe he can make some sense of it."
“Scully . . . ”
She pulled out her cell phone and punched Skinner’s private line. “Sir, its Agent Scully. I need you to come to Mulder’s apartment as soon as possible. Yes, I’ve located him but there’s also a . . . a body in his apartment, a woman. The police have been called. Yes sir, thank you.
She placed the phone back in her pocket. “He’s on his way.”
The knock at the door forestalled further conversation. The mechanics of a murder investigation took over.
A detective kept Mulder in a corner of his living room to question him. Scully hovered on the edges to make sure all legalities were met until a lawyer could arrive. All conversation stopped as the paramedics finally took the body out of the bedroom and toward the door.
That was when Skinner arrived and entered the open door. He withdrew his badge and stopped the stretcher, then unzipped the body bag carefully. Upon seeing the woman, his eyes widened and he looked up searching for Scully. She refused to meet his eyes. He nodded and the body was removed.
Skinner approached the detective and flashed his badge again. “Could you bring me up to date?”
The two retreated to the kitchen area to talk.
“Nothing, I just . . . nothing.” God, he wanted to talk to her. He needed to talk to her. She was cut off from him; he couldn’t read what she was thinking with her eyes shuttered like that.
“Do you need some more juice?”
He shook his head.
Skinner and Detective Harris came back into the room, and Scully rose.
“I’ll be right back, Mulder.”
She headed toward Skinner; either not seeing or ignoring the hand he reached out to her. Scully and Skinner talked quietly near the door. Skinner placed his hand on her shoulder and squeezed it. White-hot fury surged through Mulder; why did Skinner have his hands on her?
Scully must have felt it. She turned, saw his face, and stepped away from Skinner. The older man let his arm fall back to his side.
“Mr. Mulder, we’d like you to come down to headquarters to continue this.”
“Am I under arrest?”
“Not at this time, but if you’d like to have an attorney with you, that would be fine.”
Scully approached him. “Skinner’s going to call someone to meet you at the station.”
“Are you coming?”
“I’d like to make sure they get started on the autopsy. I think that would be the most help right now.”
“Yeah, you’re right. Will they let you do it?”
She shook her head, “I’m too . . . I’m too close to the, the case. But they can’t keep me from observing. Will you be all right?”
“Sure.” He said aloud, but inwardly, Scully, don’t leave me alone! I don’t know what’s going on. Don’t leave me. He watched her walk out the door, his chest so tight he wasn’t sure he could breathe.
Skinner stayed at the apartment with him, using his cell phone to coordinate what he could of the investigation.
She got back to her apartment that evening, half expecting him to be there. Surely the police were through with him for the night and . . . and he wanted to come here. She dialed his cell phone.
“Mulder? Where are you?” She spoke before he could.
“Oh.” She had assumed he’d come here. Had she driven him away earlier? She’d never meant to do that; she had just been so thrown. It was like seeing herself dead in his bed, with him beside her.
“I can’t use my place, and Skinner thought this would be best under the circumstances.”
“I see.” She couldn’t say more. Her relief was affecting her voice. He didn’t hate her for how she had acted. She had to see him.
“Do you know anything yet?”
“Yeah. I’ll be there in a few minutes.” She hung up and grabbed her things again. Mulder hung up, wondering when she’d been to Skinner’s apartment before, since she hadn’t asked for directions.
Skinner answered the door when she knocked. Mulder heard and came into the room in time to see Skinner help Scully off with her coat. He’d never done that, and she really seemed to appreciate it.
“Mulder, how do you feel?” She looked over at him.
“I’m better, steadier. Skinner’s not a bad cook.”
Skinner rolled his eyes and motioned for them both to sit.
Since neither of them seemed to know where to begin, Skinner started the discussion, “We have an ID, her name is Wanda Reeves, AKA Sugar. She had a record, mostly prostitution. She was pretty far away from her regular corner. Her friends described the car that picked her up and it could have been Mulder’s.”
Scully shook her head, “Mulder, you didn’t kill her and she was not strangled by your tie. It was placed on her after she was dead. And that happened at least 24 hours ago from her rigor and temperature.” She watched some relief finally come to his face.
“So she wasn’t strangled?”
“She was strangled, but by hand. We weren’t able to lift any prints so whoever did this was probably wearing gloves. And his grip was a lot shorter than yours.”
He took the first deep breath he’d had in hours, and closed his eyes.
“Agent Scully, can you prove that? I mean in a court of law.”
“Yes, sir. The marks on the neck, the bruises, could not have been made with fingers as long as Agent Mulder’s.” Mulder’s fingers. She’d always been fascinated by them. On more than one occasion she’d . . . stop it!
“Okay, now we’re getting somewhere. Was she killed at the apartment?”
“Yes, in the bed.” Mulder stared at his shoes; he’d never been comfortable in that bed. He’d be damned if he’d ever sleep in it again.
“Is there any evident of intercourse?”
“Uh, no.” She looked down at her notes. “There’s no semen and no latex irritation.”
This time Mulder did meet her eyes. She gave him the barest nod. Skinner felt the electricity between them. No wonder there were so many betting pools about these two at the Bureau.
“She, uh, she wasn’t a redhead, and her eyes weren’t blue.”
Mulder seemed to sag just a little against the cushions in relief. That information wouldn’t change what he’d seen, but he would know it.
“I also have Mulder’s tox report here, according to the levels of barbiturates in his system at the time I found him, we’re lucky he wasn’t dead as well. He had to have been unconscious for some time before she was killed. You should have gone to the hospital, Mulder, been checked out.” She started to reach for his hand, remembered where she was, and stopped herself.
Skinner stood then and without a word picked up their glasses and left them alone.
“Mulder, I’m sor . . . ”
“No. Don’t apologize. There was no way you could’ve known. Hell, I wasn’t . . . ”
He took her hand. “Thanks for clearing me.” She smiled at him.
“I’ll come down to the station in the morning with you, to make sure the charges are dropped. Then we have to find out who really killed this woman.”
She stood to leave, then reached for a bag and handed it to Mulder. “Here, you might need this.”
“A toothbrush and some clean underwear.”
“You brought me underwear?” For some reason that made him absurdly happy.
“I’ve had them for awhile. I saw them and . . . well, I knew you couldn’t get in your apartment, and . . . ” She had a slight blush now.
Relief flooded him, she believed in him again. He hadn’t realized how much he needed that. It was up there with oxygen, life-giving. He opened the bag, Marvin the Martian boxers. From the other room, Skinner looked up from the dishes and wondered what could possibly cause Mulder to laugh now?
Mulder walked her to the door and stopped her as she reached for the doorknob. “I know what you and Skinner saw when you looked at that woman, Scully, but I didn’t. I couldn’t even have fantasized she was you.”
Scully nodded, not trusting her voice, then let herself out of the apartment. He felt like someone had turned out the lights. He wanted to grope his way to the spare bedroom Skinner had offered and curl up. Damn, he wished he were sleeping on that little couch at her place. He might actually sleep there, knowing she was in the next room. No chance of any sleep here.
“Mulder, why don’t you try to get some rest? It’s been a long day.” He hadn’t heard Skinner come back.
“Yeah. Listen, I appreciate . . . ”
“It’s okay. See you in the morning.”
Mulder nodded and went to his room. Now what was he supposed to do for the next eight hours? He found a book, The Brethren, and tried to read for a while, but he couldn’t get into dead Supreme Court justices, he wasn’t too thrilled with the live ones. He finally gave up and lay with the book across his chest, staring at the ceiling.
He woke gasping; drenched in sweat, the body hadn’t been some strange redheaded woman in his dream. Scully, in his bed, dead beside him. Shit.
“Mulder? Are you okay?” Skinner was knocking at the door. He must have cried out and, of course, the book had hit the floor.
“Yeah, yeah, I’m fine. Sorry I woke you.” He had made it to his feet and opened the door. Skinner took in his appearance.
“Why don’t you watch TV for awhile? It won’t disturb me. You might want to get some more fluids in you.”
“Thanks, I might do that.” He tried to smooth his hair back and realized his hand was shaking.
Skinner decided against comment and made his way back to his own bedroom. Scully had made reference to his nightmares one time. He’d had no idea they were like that. No wonder the guy never slept.
The next morning he and Skinner waited for Scully at the police station. Where was she? He checked his watch again, then heard her footsteps hurrying toward him. He hadn’t realized he knew her footsteps that well.
“Sorry,” She was trying to catch her breath. “Traffic was bad; then I couldn’t find a parking space.”
“S’okay, just glad you’re here.” Then he shot her a look, his eyebrow rising, and watched the heat color her face. Yes, they were communicating again! One look and she knew he was wearing the underwear she’d given him.
Oh god, she was in trouble. Blushing from just thinking of him in those damn boxers. She had to stick to business. She walked away and took a sip from the water fountain. Control, she had to maintain some control.
Skinner watched the by-play. What the . . .? They hadn’t even said anything to each other. How in all hell did they get any work done? But with a solve rate like theirs, maybe he ought to start passing out aphrodisiacs at staff meetings.
With Scully’s evidence the police had no choice but to agree with her. All three of them headed back outside. “You two need to stay away from this investigation. With you cleared, the FBI can back off. Let the police handle it, it’s their jurisdiction.”
One look at Mulder’s face and he knew he’d just wasted his breath. “Look, I know this is out of our hands, Sir. I doubt they’ll ever find out who killed that woman, but I have to know why she was killed. The people that can do these things aren’t stupid. They had to know that Scully would find evidence that would clear me in a matter of hours. So why bother, unless they needed me out of commission for a short time, this weekend. That’s what we need to investigate. What happened over the past 72 hours that I shouldn’t know about?”
Neither Scully nor Skinner could dispute that. They exchanged glances; of course Mulder would come at this from a totally different angle than they had approached it.
“Did anyone check my email?”
“Uh, no. I didn’t think of it.”
“I think that would be the place to start.”
“My apartment’s closer. Come on.” Scully led them out the door. She followed Skinner’s car to her place.
She let them in and Mulder headed for her computer. Scully and Skinner watched for a moment, then she turned away. “Mulder, I’ll get you some tea. Sir? Would you like some?”
“Uh, thank you. Can I help you?”
He wasn’t sure she nodded, but he followed her into the kitchen anyway. She had the refrigerator open and pulled out the pitcher.
She didn’t turn toward him but he saw her hands were shaking. He stepped closer and placed his hand on her shoulder. “You okay?”
“I think it finally hit me when I saw him sitting there at my desk. He could have died. They probably planned for him to die. They didn’t realize how strong he is. I was supposed to walk in there and find him beside her in that bed, dead.”
“You didn’t. He’s alive; he’s probably hot on the trail of whoever did this.”
She chuckled slightly and rested her forehead against Skinner’s chest.
“Excuse me.” They hadn’t heard Mulder enter the kitchen and they both jumped slightly and moved away from each other. Mulder’s face was still, carefully blank of expression.
“I have your tea.” She picked up his glass and filled it. Her hands steady again.
“Thanks.” He took it from her hand but didn’t drink.
“Mulder, did you find anything?” Skinner spoke to break the awkwardness.
Mulder nodded, looking at Scully, then back at Skinner. He took a deep breath and tried to force his mind back to the business at hand. “I had several emails from a guy that has helped me in the past.”
“Who?” Skinner looked toward the living room.
Mulder hesitated for an instant, “Mack Waterson, he’s an aide to Senator Matheson.”
“Can you reach him?” Scully asked quietly.
“He’s not on-line. I was going to call him.”
Scully stepped toward him, but he moved back to the living room. She froze, unsure what to do. She could feel Skinner’s eyes on her. “Scully, it will be okay. He’s still a little off balance with everything that’s happened.” He spoke low, just for her ears. She nodded and moved to follow Mulder into the other room.
Skinner shook his head. Maybe he shouldn’t have tried to comfort her, but she seemed lost herself.
“Mulder, why don’t you use my phone?” Skinner joined them in the living room and drew his cell phone from his pocket.
Mulder glanced down at her phone and then back to the other man. He nodded and took the cell phone from his hand. He dialed the cell phone number he used to contact the man.
“Is Mack there?”
“Who is this?” The voice responded.
“I’m trying to locate Mack Waterson. Is this his number?”
“I’m sorry. Mr. Waterson is not available.” The phone went dead.
“That was strange.”
“What?” Skinner moved closer.
“It wasn’t him and they didn’t want to give me any information; just wanted to know who I was. I think I’ll try his office.”
Skinner nodded. The conversation was still cryptic, but if possible Mulder’s face grew even more grim.
“Mulder?” Scully moved toward him when he handed the phone back to Skinner.
“Mack’s dead. They found him last night when he didn’t come to work. They said he committed suicide, barbiturates overdose.” He glanced at Scully.
“I could go over, check on the postmortem.” Scully offered.
appreciate it.” Mulder was already looking back at the
“We, uh, we should get out of here.” Skinner took a step toward the door.
“That’s okay, you guys can let yourselves out. I’ll, I'll see you later.” She glanced over at Mulder one more time, then let herself out.
Skinner watched the door close. After a long moment, he turned toward Mulder. “She’s worried about you.”
Mulder didn’t turn toward him. “I can probably sleep at my place tonight. Thank you for the room. I imagine you need to get back to the office. I can call a cab.”
“Mulder she was very concerned about you Monday morning when you didn’t show up at the office.”
He finally looked up at Skinner; “She came to you?”
“She wondered if I’d heard from you, or about you.”
“Okay, I’ll get out of your way. Mulder, I . . .” He shook his head then and let himself out of her door.
Once he heard the door close, his shoulders sagged and he let his head sink into his hands. He didn’t have anything to worry about; Scully wasn’t involved with Skinner. Okay, she’d gone to him when she was looking for him, the man had held her over at his apartment, she hadn’t had to ask for directions to his apartment and here, he’d just been offering her ‘comfort’. No wonder his weekends were so lonely.
No. Scully wasn’t seeing Skinner, she’d found the evidence to clear him, she’d . . . she’d brought him underwear. He groaned then. What was he supposed to feel? He’d regained consciousness, barely, with a dead woman next to him. A woman that had been fixed up to resemble Scully. If he hadn’t woken up, Scully would have thought that he . . . but she’d saved him.
He jerked up out of the seat, knocking it over and backhanded her briefcase to the floor. She’d cleared him of murder and brought him back to her place to watch her cuddle with Skinner.
He let himself out of her apartment, remembering to lock it behind him. He trudged to the corner and flagged down a cab. The problem was, he didn’t know where to go. Finally he decided on the Capitol, and sat back not watching the scenery flash past him.
“The Senator is busy now, sir. If you would like to call for an appointment . . . “
“Just tell him its Special Agent Fox Mulder. I won’t take up much time.”
The FBI shield surprised the young woman, and she went to check if Senator Matheson would see the agent. She was back quickly and led Mulder to the office.
Matheson rose and met Mulder at the door. “You heard about Waterson?”
“That’s why I’m here.”
“Mulder, he wouldn’t commit suicide. I’m sure - “
“He didn’t. He was drugged; so was I. He was trying to reach me; do you know why?”
Matheson looked surprised then, “No, as far as I know he had nothing to pass on.”
“Is his computer here?”
there. I had them bring it in here when . . . when we
“Senator, you know I’m not interested in politics, but I need to check out his computer; see why he was looking for me.”
Matheson looked at him for a long moment. “I can count on your discretion.”
“Can you prove he was murdered?”
“I don’t know. My partner is checking on the autopsy now. I promise to give you all the information we uncover.”
“Mulder . . . okay. Keep me in the loop, but it might be better if you don’t drop by here.”
Mulder nodded, then picked up the laptop and made his way out without another word. Matheson watched him, his eyes narrowed. Something else was bothering the agent, but it was probably just as well that he didn’t know what.
He took a cab to his own apartment then, but didn’t go in, just retrieving his own car; he headed over to the Gunmen’s apartment.
“Hey man, what’s happening?” Langly let him in. “Thought you might stop over this weekend. We did some serious gaming.”
“I was out of it. Can you check out this computer for me?”
“Sure.” Frohike had joined them by now and he saw Byers enter the room. “What ya looking for?”
“The man that owned this computer was trying to reach me. Before he could, he was murdered. I’m hoping you can find out what he didn’t get to tell me.”
“How was he killed?” Byers asked.
“Drugged, they made it look like suicide.”
“Did the luscious Agent Scully figure it out?” Frohike’s eyes gleamed at the thought of her. The look Mulder shot him wiped away all mirth and the smaller man actually took a step back.
“Mulder?” Byers moved closer.
“I’ll be in touch.”
“Mulder, are you okay?”
“I’m working on something. Thanks for looking into this.”
“It’s no problem, you know that. Is there anything else?”
Mulder shook his head and left without another word.
“What the hell was that about?” Frohike looked over at Byers, who shrugged. They both turned to watch Langly get into the files.
The problem was, he didn’t know where to go now. He didn’t want to risk seeing anyone at the office, especially Skinner. He wasn’t wild about going home either. They’d taken the sheets as evidence, but the bed was still there, the bed where Scully had found him nude with that other woman.
Was it pay back? No, she knew nothing had happened between him and that hooker. She’d proven it herself. Where could he go? He’d gotten no sleep the night before and he was feeling the effects. Maybe he should have stayed over at the guys’ place. No, he wasn’t in the mood to talk to them right now.
The only place to go was her apartment. She wouldn’t be there, not if she was doing an autopsy. He’d be alone and right now that’s what he needed.
He let himself back in. Damn, it was a good thing he had come back. He’d wrecked the place. He picked up the chair and put the papers back in her briefcase, which he returned to her desk.
He pulled the curtains to behind the desk, but it was still bright in the living room. Between that and the shortness of the couch, he wouldn’t get much rest here either. What the hell, she was out; he headed into her bedroom.
He toed off his shoes and pulled the blinds, then stretched out on top of the covers and closed his eyes.
She let herself into the apartment. Waterson had died from the same barbiturate that had been in Mulder’s system. That had caused a wave of fear to rush over her. She’d tried to call him, but his cell phone was turned off. She’d gone by the office but he hadn’t been there and his car wasn’t at his apartment. She hadn’t gone inside, she really didn’t want to see his apartment again right now.
She’d been pretty sure that he wouldn’t still be here after all this time, but they needed to talk.
She dropped her bag on the couch. Where was he? She slipped off her suit coat and headed into her bedroom. The sight of him, cuddling her pillow on her bed stopped her dead. A surge of relief took her strength and she lowered herself on the side of the bed nearer the door.
He stirred at the movement, “Scully?” His grip on the pillow tightened and he seemed to sink back into sleep.
She sat watching, not wanting to disturb him, just needing to be near him. After a few minutes she rose carefully and headed for the kitchen, pulling the door to behind her.
She started dinner. He might not want to stay, but she needed him to. She had already set the table when she heard the bedroom door open.
Scully turned toward the door. He wouldn’t quite meet her eyes. “I’m sorry, Scully. I just needed a little . . . “
“I’m glad you came here. I had expected you last night. I understand why you had to stay over at Skinner’s but - “
“I’ll go on home now. You look like you’re ready to eat.”
“I am, but I made enough for you. The table’s already set.”
“Scully, I appreciate it but - “
“Please stay. I think we need to talk.”
“I don’t know if I’m up for that Scully.”
“Fine, but I’d still like your company.”
He started to make a comment, but subsided. She wanted his company, how should he feel about that?
“Why don’t you pour the tea, Mulder? I’ll take up the chicken. Hey, where did you park?”
“Uh, around the corner, I . . .” He stopped and did as she bade, moving to the refrigerator. She decided not to push it. He was here, that’s about all she could ask for right now.
They ate in near silence, but his appetite appeared to be good. He even took seconds on the chicken, which caused a smile to appear in her eyes if not her lips.
Without asking, he cleared the table and loaded the dishwasher. She took the opportunity to change into something more comfortable. When she reappeared in jeans and a t-shirt she felt his eyes scan her.
“I should get out of your way.”
“You’re not in my way, Mulder. Did you find out anything?” She sank down onto the couch and after a slight hesitation he joined her.
“I talked to Matheson. He knows Waterson wouldn’t commit suicide.”
“Can you prove it? I mean, is there anything I can give Matheson?”
“Yes, I’ll get the information over to his office. Did he know why the man was trying to reach you?”
Mulder shook his head, “The guys have his laptop. They’re going to try to see what they can find.”
“Mulder, I . . . I’m sorry for the way I acted when I found you. I knew you wouldn’t - “
“Scully, I said you had nothing to apologize for.”
“But you’re angry with me.”
“I’m not angry.”
“Well, what would you call it?”
“I should go on to my place.” But he made no move to rise.
He looked at the floor for a long moment. “When did you realize I needed help?”
That question caught her off guard, but she answered anyway. “I wondered where you were this weekend. You didn’t call me and . . . and you usually do. Then I thought maybe you were hanging out with your friends, or, or had gone up to the Vineyard. I called, but I kept getting your machine, after a while I quit leaving messages.”
“You called to check on me.”
“Of course I did. I mean, I know you’re an adult but . . . “
“You were concerned about me.”
She looked at him for a long moment, “You know I was. When you didn’t come in Monday morning, I knew something was wrong. You ditch me often enough.” He glanced away then for an instant, “Come on, you know you do. But you stay in touch, unless you’re in trouble. You were out of touch.”
“You went to Skinner.”
“To see if he’d heard anything; if someone had reported seeing you. For all I knew you’d heard about some hot case and gotten his go ahead to leave without me.”
“That’s why you called him?”
“He’s our boss, Mulder. Why else would I call him?” She watched him examine the coffee table for a moment. “Mulder, when you saw us in the kitchen, you didn’t think . . . “
“He was touching you over at my place too.”
“I found you in bed nude with another woman.”
He looked up quickly and spotted the twinkle in her eyes. “Yeah, I, uh, I guess you did.”
“Should I give you points because she was dead?”
His mouth fell open slightly; Scully didn’t usually make comments like that.
“I didn’t buy him any underwear either. Even as a joke.”
No one could make him feel like a fool quicker or with more reason than this woman.
“Mulder, I was lonely without you this weekend. I’ve gotten used to at least hearing from you, if not seeing you. If . . . I would have known something was wrong a lot quicker if . . . “
“If we’d already been together?”
“You . . . you wouldn’t mind seeing me on the weekends we’re not working?”
Scully sighed, “Weekends are lonely for me. I’d almost rather be working. Obviously this weekend we should have been.”
“I thought you wanted to get away from the work, from . . . me.”
“Away from the work, maybe, away from you . . . no Mulder. I don’t especially want to be away from you. You’re not always the most irritating person in the world.”
“Thanks, I think.”
She grinned, “It is interesting that you’re jealous of Skinner.”
“I’m not - “ Her eyebrow stopped him. “Okay, it bothered me to see you in his arms.”
“I wasn’t in his arms, Mulder. I had started to tremble and he took the pitcher from me.”
“Why were you trembling?” His hand trailed down her arm.
She watched his hand for a moment, “Reaction. I didn’t get much sleep last night. When I did sleep, my dreams . . . “
He nodded, that he understood. They were quiet for a moment, more comfortable than they had been since she had found him.
“So, next weekend, if we’re here in town, would you like to do something?” He asked quietly.
“Yes, if we’re not tracking down some mutant or running from alien bounty hunters, that might be fun.”
His eyes narrowed but he couldn’t quite hide his grin either. He felt back on track with her, grounded. He knew they wouldn’t bring the murderer of Waterson or that woman to justice, but knowing that she was with him . . .