She seemed to be relaxing; her grip on him wasn’t as tight. The same couldn’t be said for him. He wasn’t sure he’d ever be able to let go of her. When he’d burst back into the apartment and seen her lying on the floor, covered in blood . . . he’d known with the crystal clarity of madness that she was dead. Another man had taken her heart, not in the way he had come to fear with increasing depth over the years, but clinically, taking her heart from him forever.
He’d knelt, or fallen, beside her, his mind only able to function at the autonomic level, his legs no longer able to hold him. Then she was jerked back to consciousness and reached for him, for him, and he had held her as she tried to draw him even closer. It was as though she had wanted to climb inside of him and he would have taken her in if he could; anything to keep her safe.
After a few more minutes, he whispered in her ear, “Scully, I’m going to move you to the couch - “
“I’ll get blood all over it.”
He drew back slightly and stared at her in disbelief for an instant. “Don’t, don’t worry about it.” He lifted her into his arms and lay her gently on the couch. He looked deeply into her eyes, assessing her.
“I’m gonna call 911.”
“No, no, Mulder. I don’t need - “
“You should be examined.”
“I’m okay.” She looked up into his totally skeptical face, and her pale face colored slightly. “Please, just sit here with me.” After a long moment he nodded and settled her against him.
They sat that way in silence for some time. When she finally stirred and looked up at him, he spoke softly. “Can I get you something? Something to eat?”
“No, I don’t think I could . . . go ahead if you’re hungry.”
The convulsive swallow let her know he was no more able to eat than she was.
“You know what I would like?”
“What, Scully? Anything.”
She was able to smile a little at that. “Could I use your shower? I want to clean up.”
“Of course.” He rose and lifted her to her feet. She took a step before her legs gave out. If his arms hadn’t still been around her, she would have fallen to the floor.
He eased her back down and sat with her. “Maybe . . . maybe that’s not such a good idea.”
“What about a bath, Scully? I could run one for you.”
“You wouldn’t mind?”
He managed a smile then. “No, I wouldn’t mind. You stay here, I’ll be right back.”
She nodded, not willing to chance collapsing again.
He was back quickly and reached to take her in his arms. “Mulder, I think I can walk now.”
“You probably can, but let me do this - this time.”
She saw the need in his eyes and nodded. He gently lifted her and carried her into his bathroom. He seated her on the edge of the tub and knelt to remove her demi-boots. Then he removed her jacket and folded it across the toilet seat. He hesitated a moment, watching her watch him, then began unbuttoning her blouse and removed it as well. It was already becoming stiff with her blood.
He unbuttoned her waistband then and lowered her slacks. He asked the question with his eyes. She made no protest, so he reached around her and unhooked her bra. He kept his eyes on her face, after a quick involuntary glance, this wasn’t a seduction. Finally he removed her panties and helped her lower herself into the tub.
The water immediately turned pink and he closed his eyes against the pain that generated. “Mulder?”
“Yeah.” He looked into her eyes then and nodded. He dampened a washcloth and tenderly wiped the blood from her face and then her throat. “Lean forward, Scully.”
She did and he washed and massaged her back and shoulders. When she leaned back, she lifted her hand to her face. “Is this my bath oil?”
“Uh, yeah. I found some.” He shrugged. “Is the water warm enough?”
So he didn’t want to talk about it. “It’s perfect.”
He nodded and handed the washcloth to her. “I’ll go get you some clothes.”
She watched him bundle up her clothes and let himself out of the room. She eased back in the tub, letting the warmth of the water and his unflinching support relax her. When he knocked on the door again, she bade him enter.
He came in and laid a t-shirt and a pair of boxers on the toilet, then handed her a mug of hot tea. “You okay? You should probably replace some fluids.”
“Thanks.” She took a sip, herbal tea? Her bath oil and herbal tea, at Mulder’s place? “I’m feeling better.”
“Good. Look, I think you should stay here tonight.”
There was almost no hesitation before she nodded. “I’m ready to get out.”
He reached for a towel and helped her to her feet. He wrapped the terry cloth around her and held her as she stepped from the tub. Again he sat her on the side and dried her gently, then with the towel still around her, slipped his shirt over her head. She stifled a yawn and he smiled. “Why don’t you lie down?”
She took a deep breath. “I should try to walk now.” He didn’t argue, but took her arm anyway. He led her into his bedroom, where the bed was already turned down. She smiled to herself to think that he had probably made it up while she was in the tub.
She relaxed into the sheets and looked up at him. At her unspoken invitation, he sat on the bed beside her. “Thank you.”
He shrugged, suddenly not sure of his voice. After a moment, “Close your eyes, Scully.”
“Will you stay?” He nodded and she let her eyes slip closed.
He sat beside her, drinking her in, aware that he was avoiding thinking about what had transpired here, both the attack on her and the . . . the aftermath. He had known she trusted him to a degree, hell more than that, but this evening . . . No, don’t look at it too closely now. There were too many emotions floating around - later, think about this later.