He stirred; waking to the familiar, albeit unwelcome, smell of antiseptic. Hospital? Shit, what had happened? Scully, she would know. He opened his eyes and shifted in the bed. Big mistake, the simmering aches he’d felt flared into pain at his movement. Damn, he hurt everywhere.
He forced himself to survey the room. She wasn’t beside him. Where was she? Okay, that was a little arrogant, to think she’d be at his side automatically. He might have just arrived . . . wherever he was.
He couldn’t focus on a case. Maybe she didn’t know he was here. At least he was confident he hadn’t ditched her. He didn’t do that anymore.
The door opened and he turned expectantly, ignoring the pain, but it wasn’t Scully. Just a nurse.
“Mr. Mulder, you’re awake. I’ll let Dr. Collins know.”
”Do you know where Scully is? Is she here?”
“My . . . my partner. She’s a redhead.”
“I’m sorry, I haven’t seen her.” She took his vitals, then checked his IV straightening his tubing and checked his oxygen. “I’ll page Dr. Collins.” She smiled at him and let herself out.
Scully hadn’t been here? What had happened? And when?
He heard voices in the hall, but neither voice was Scully’s, so it didn’t really matter. Where was she anyway?
Mulder opened his eyes when the door opened. “He’s awake, I need to talk to him.” The older man was speaking to what was obviously a doctor by the white coat.
“Mr. Mulder, I’m Detective Tanner. I have some questions for you.”
Mulder’s brow furrowed, what the hell had happened? And why was a cop questioning him? He needed Scully. He opened his mouth to make that request but Detective Tanner kept talking, flipping through his notebook.
“A Vivian Long and an Edna Earle saw you at Ms. Scully’s apartment Friday evening. Both are positive about their ID. They say you’re there a lot.”
“What’s going on? I - “
“Then Ms. Long heard an altercation in Ms. Scully’s apartment. She looked out in time to see you approach again and then break down the door to Ms. Scully’s apartment. She ran to call 911.”
Mulder’s eyes were wide now, an ‘altercation’ at Scully’s? He'd arrived . . . twice? Oh god! The Bounty Hunter? Was she hurt? “Where is she?” He demanded harshly. “Where is Scully?”
“When the police arrived, you were unconscious on the floor from what looked like a severe beating. You were clutching Ms. Scully’s calf as though she were trying to get away from you.”
“Where the fuck is Scully?” Mulder forced himself up, his muscles screaming.
“Why did you kill her, Mulder? Did she refuse you? Did you just mean to rough her up? Explain it to me, Mr. Mulder.” The detective’s voice was cold, hard.
Mulder looked at him, the words not making sense. What was he saying? Mulder looked over at the doctor. “Scully?”
Mulder tensed immediately at his expression, his chest tightening. “I have to see her.” He started to rise, but Dr. Collin’s hand on his shoulder stopped him.
“Mr. Mulder, her injuries were extensive. I’m sorry, but they weren’t able to save her.”
Mulder was frozen, unable to move.
After a pause, the doctor tried again, “Mr. Mulder, Miss Scully died in the ER. They did everything - “
Died? No. Nooooo! It had become a moan, then without warning, his hands shot out and entangled themselves in the doctor’s labels. Ignoring the pain that generated throughout his body, he jerked the doctor down to him. “No! Scully’s not dead! Where is she!”
“Nurse!” the startled doctor tried to pull away. The detective shoved him down and Mulder felt his arm grow warm as something was added to his IV. He let go of the doctor to rip the needle out, but it was too late. Darkness engulfed him.
The military had taught him to wake instantly, alert. It hadn’t taught him to be prepared for her voice.
“Sir, I'm sorry to bother you at home."
“Scully? What, what time is it?" He glanced at the clock by his bed. Six a.m.? On a Saturday?
He sighed; it was so much easier to blow off Mulder. “What’s wrong?”
She didn’t waste time. “Mulder’s missing.”
Skinner rolled his eyes. They didn’t even report to him anymore. “Since when? Have you spoken to Kersh?”
“No. He’s been gone since last night. After work he was going by his place to pick up a few things for the weekend and then he was coming over for dinner.”
“Scully, the man doesn't recognize weekends. Maybe he got a lead and ditched you. He’s famous for it.”
“No.” She shook her head. “That’s not . . . “
Skinner heard the hitch in her voice. Oh. So finally. It had certainly taken the SOB long enough. If it had been him . . . he could feel the barely controlled panic in this woman’s voice. No, it could never have been him. It could never be anyone but Mulder. “Where are you?”
Skinner sighed, “Let me get dressed. Have you called the police?”
“No.” He nodded though she couldn’t see it. “You might want to contact that trio of geeks.”
"I will." She said faintly.
“Try not to worry. This has happened before Scully.”
“No. Not like this.” That last had been whispered and still her voice shook. Skinner had leaned in to hear her. He couldn’t remember hearing that tone before. His hand tightened on the receiver.
“Call the guys. It’s going to be okay.”
Her gratitude threatened to topple him. Instead Skinner straightened up and cleared his throat. “I’ll be there shortly.”
He woke to the feel of a hand on his arm. Scully? That brought memory and a wave of pain and grief engulfed him, threatening to drown him.
“Mr. Mulder.” A deep voice, but female. He tried to jerk away, but something held him. Restraints? He opened his eyes to see the flat, broad face of an older woman. Her hair was short, semi-styled around her face and the color of straw. Obviously not her natural color. Scully would have made some comment about the color of her hair. Would have? No! He struggled against the restraints again. Scully wasn’t dead. He didn’t know why they were telling him lies, but she wasn’t gone. He would know, he would . . . he would feel it. They were together now. The God Scully believed in wouldn’t allow them to finally be together, be one, and then take her away. No! They were keeping her from him, but she was alive. He could feel her.
“Mr. Mulder? Can you hear me?”
“Let me go. I have to - “
“Mr. Mulder, you’re in restraints because you became a danger to yourself and others.”
“No. No, I just need to find Scully.”
“Mr. Mulder, you’ve been told what happened to Ms. Scully. You’ve not been arrested at this time, but - “
“She’s not dead. “
“Why do you say that? Do you want to tell me what happened? Talking to me is privileged communication." Uncertainty stabbed him, was she accusing . . . He had caused Scully's . . . He missed the tiny look of satisfaction that came to the woman’s face as new pain showed on his.
“I’m sure as your partner and friend you need to mourn her. But you can’t begin to heal until you face the truth.”
His breathing was shallow, trying to avoid the pain. Friend? Scully, just a partner or friend? If she was gone he would never heal. There would be no reason to try. He had to get out. “Who are you?”
“I’m Dr. Lavinski.”
“They asked me to talk to you.”
“You have. Now could you please cut me loose? I need to get out of here.”
“Even if you were physically able, Mr. Mulder, you’ve been placed under observation. That’s forty-eight hours minimum. If you cooperate.”
“Forty-eight . . . Skinner, I need to talk to Walter Skinner.”
“No visitors, I’m sorry.”
“You can’t hold me prisoner!”
“I’m sorry you feel that’s what we’re doing, but it is for your own good. It’s my job to keep you from harming yourself and others, at least for a little while. Why don’t you tell me about Ms. Scully?”
He looked at her for a moment, then away. Suicide watch, he knew the euphemisms. He closed his eyes and immediately felt less bereft, somehow closer to her, to Scully. His expression brought a frown to the large woman’s face, but she waited in silence.
After a few minutes Dr. Lavinski spoke again. "Fine for now, Mr. Mulder. But we will have to talk." She rose and touched his arm. He tried to pull away again, but only jerked at the cuffs. The feeling of closeness shattered.
"I'll have the nurse bring you a sedative in a little - "
"No! I don't need a sedative. I need to get out of here." His eyes had flown open.
"We'll talk in the morning."
"Wait. What time is it? How long have I been here?"
She glanced at her watch, a small jeweled piece on a gold chain around her neck. "A little after six. You slept through dinner. Would you like a tray?"
He shook his head, the very thought nauseating. She watched him a moment, then silently moved away. He was surprised at how quietly she moved for such a large woman. She would be able to sneak up on him. There was something wrong about her. For a psychiatrist, her bedside manner sucked. He had to get out of here.
He looked around the room, to orient himself as well as forestall thinking about the only thing on his mind. There were no windows. That was strange, and . . . and it didn't feel as late as she said. It felt no later than early afternoon. He had assumed it had been evening when he talked to Dr. Collins. What time had it been? Hell, what day was it? The blinds had been pulled, as well as the curtains around his bed. They were lying about Scully, they had to be. Why not about this too? But why?
Scully. She was not dead. He refused to accept that.
When he'd been affected by the artifact, no matter how out of it he was, there had been a . . . a spark in his mind that was Scully. She'd been with him, sometimes closer than other times but always there. That spark was still there in his mind. Would it be if she were . . . were truly dead? Again his body shuddered.
No. No, it wouldn't be. She was alive and being kept from him. Why? And how did he reach her? He was being held prisoner. He knew it. Was she? Scully.
"How is he?"
The woman calling herself Dr. Lavinski sniffed, "He does not believe us. I do not like this role you have cast me in. I'm not comfortable with the clinical side. Research is my field."
"It's too bad we do not have the luxury of personnel. We've lost too many people. You have the clearance for the job."
"Clearance." She looked as though she wanted to spit. "What you are postulating is ridiculous. This is the kind of work for that annoying man with the cigarettes."
"Spender." He snorted the name. "Even if I knew where he was, I couldn’t trust him with this. He was able to save himself when so many of our colleagues died. His 'explanation' left much to be desired. That isn't important. Why do you think he doesn't believe us?"
She shook her head, "I'm not a clinician, but his eyes; he did not believe she was dead. He refuses to believe that she is dead."
"He is in contact with her."
"That's ridi - "
"Can you prove it?"
"I thought you understood the assignment."
She looked away, “I'm not sure what would constitute proof."
"If he's already convinced she's alive, we need to work fast."
Skinner tapped on the door and was only mildly surprised when Frohike opened it. Scully hurried into the room from the kitchen. "Do you have any - " she stopped at the shake of his head.
Scully looked away, her shoulders sagging.
"Look, it's not been that long."
"Fourteen hours, and we don't have a clue. It's like he fell off the face of the earth. There has to be - "
"Scully, we're just getting started. I'm saying . . . " He paused as she rubbed her forehead, between her eyes. "Are you okay?" Now that he really looked at her, she looked like hell, and she’d been rubbing her head where the tumor . . .
"It's nothing, just a headache. I haven't slept."
"Okay, but we need you on this . . . this investigation. I want you to look after yourself. Why don't the guys and I check out a couple of things and you take a few minutes for yourself."
"No, I - "
"We’ll meet back here in a couple of hours. Two hours, Dana. Let me use these guys that long."
After a moment she nodded. Her acceptance with so little resistance frightened him on some level, but the three friends moved toward the door. Skinner turned as well. She touched his arm. "Two hours."
She looked into his eyes then, "I'm scared." She spoke low, so the others wouldn't hear.
That admission caught him by surprise. "Of what? Is there anything specific that frightens you?" He was watching her closely.
"He's been taken, and I don't know why. We haven't been on the X-Files. Kersh has had us doing background checks. But it’s something else. I don’t remember being this scared before, not like this."
Skinner nodded, he was aware of their 'assignment'. The fact that she couldn’t explain her anxiety was unsettling. "Okay. At least try to rest."
She nodded and let him out without another word. She did as he asked then, moving toward his bedroom. The headache was rapidly growing worse. She was nauseated now.
She woke in
the darkened room, his name on her lips. How long? She glanced quickly at her
watch. 4 p.m., she'd slept almost exactly two hours. It only seemed
later because the curtains were pulled. Had Skinner found anything? Mulder,
she thought to herself, I will find you.
The men arrived in less than five minutes and congregated around Mulder’s couch. Skinner was beside her; Langly had turned the desk chair around and straddled it. Byers and Frohike dragged a couple of chairs over and resumed their discussion.
She was only half listening, her headache surpassing the ones she had experienced when she'd had cancer. It spiked suddenly and she moaned, "Mulder, stop it."
All four of the men stopped and looked at her. Her hand was massaging her brow again. She rose and took a step toward the kitchen, intent on getting some medicine, but staggered. Skinner moved to her side immediately.
"Scully, what is it? Come here, sit down." He looked over at Frohike, "Get her some water."
Frohike nodded and hurried to the kitchen, returning quickly with a glass.
"Scully, Dana, did you hear what you said?"
"Um?" She forced herself to meet Skinner’s eyes. He could see the pain she was in.
"You said, 'Mulder, stop it'. Stop what? The pain?"
She shook her head carefully.
"Dana, why did you want Mulder to stop?"
"I didn't, I didn't know what I was saying."
"Didn't you? I agree, Mulder was taken, but it makes no sense. He's not on the X-files. He's not a danger to the people that you've worked against all these years."
"Why do you think it's them?' Frohike asked.
Skinner glared at him for an instant without answering, then turned back to Scully without answering. "Are you . . . do you 'feel' Mulder?"
"Are you aware of him, like . . . like he's trying to communicate with you?"
"Whoa, when did you take your Spooky pills, Skinman?" Langly chortled.
Skinner's hand closed on the front of his t-shirt before he could move. "You want to shut up, Blondie?"
"Hey, let's all calm down." Byers started to rise as well.
Skinner took a deep breath and released the younger man. He resumed his seat beside Scully. "Listen to me for a minute. When Mulder was . . . affected by that artifact, I observed him. He was incoherent 99% of the time. The only word he said that was intelligible was your name and that was when you were physically there. He knew you were there. It could explain where the fear’s coming from. Could he be trying to reach you, an SOS?"
Scully's eyes widened but she didn't speak. Instead she rose and moved toward Mulder’s bedroom. Skinner leaned back watching her until she closed the door. He moved to stand then, but Byers put a hand on his shoulder and shook his head.
Byers rose instead and followed her into the bedroom. He tapped on the door, but didn't let it stop him.
She was sitting on the bed, her face in her hands. She finally looked up when she felt him in front of her, "Sir, I - John?"
He squatted in front of her, looking up into her eyes. "Mulder can feel you. We've all seen it. I guess we just thought it was because he's in love with you. Maybe Skinner's hit on something."
"John, he can't read minds."
"But he could, and it nearly killed him. You saw it, Dana. Something you can't explain brought you back from Africa. You found him, you saved him."
"Diana - "
Byers shook his head, "You found him. You got him out of there. I think you're going to have to do it again."
She met his eyes then, hers flooded with tears. "I don't know how." She whispered and a couple of tears escaped.
He smiled sadly, "Neither do we, but we need to try. Now I'll admit I didn't see this coming from Skinner, but he obviously saw something that made an impression. Do you think you could at least try - for Mulder’s sake?"
She hiccupped a laugh, "He's infected us all, hasn't he?" She seemed calmer somehow.
"Yeah. We're all kind of Spooky now. Come back?"
She nodded as he rose and held out his hand. She let him help her to her feet and allowed him to lead her back into the living room.
They were all waiting for her in tense silence. Skinner rose when she entered the room. "I'm sorry, I - "
"No, you're right. We have to look at ‘extreme possibilities’." She managed a small smile.
"How's your headache?"
She met his eyes, surprised. "Better."
"You're not resisting anymore."
She looked down, but didn't dispute his words. "What do I do?"
Skinner glanced at the other three, but they knew no more than he did. "Just relax. How about a little wine and . . . and stretch out here on the couch. Close your eyes and . . . "
Again that little smile, but she nodded. Frohike got the wine and she thanked him, taking a sip. When the wine was gone, she reclined on the leather couch and closed her eyes.
"Just say anything that comes to your mind, Dana."
"Free association?" She opened her eyes and looked at him, partly in amusement and partly in fear.
"Yes. Don't worry."
"Right." She closed them again and everyone was silent for a long moment. Then her breath hitched. Skinner glanced at the other three, then back at her afraid to speak and break her concentration.
Skinner's brow furrowed. What? Was she confused?
"He's confused and . . . and scared." She stiffened then, but didn't open her eyes. "Oh God, he's scared!" Skinner took her hand and she grasped his tightly.
"Scared of what?" He asked softly. Langly and Frohike exchanged glances.
"That he's wrong." She shook her head, confused herself now. Again they all waited in silence for her to speak. "Oh God! He's terrified and . . . and . . . no! He's . . . he'll kill himself if he's wrong. Sir! We have to - " She jerked upright, her chest heaving in fear.
"Dana, relax. We're going to find him. He's not going to harm himself, not while he knows you're looking for him."
"But does he? He was so scared, so alone."
"Lie back down. Close your eyes and try to let him know you're looking for him." He could feel the incredulous looks he was getting from Langly and Frohike, but they hadn't seen what he'd seen at that hospital. Mulder had felt her before, maybe he could again.
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Mulder, Scully, the Lone Gunman and Skinner all belong to Chris Carter, 10-13 and Fox. No infringement intended.