They heard the knock at her door and both started to rise from their breakfast to get it. Since it was her door, he settled back into his seat and watched her leave the room.
"Dana? Dana, Bill called and he. . . oh Dana! What happened?"
"Iím okay, Mom, really."
"Bill said that there had been a terrible misunderstanding and that Steve had been arrested."
"There was no misunderstanding, Mrs. Scully." Fox entered the room and came to stand by Scully.
"He didnít. . . oh Dana, did Steve do this? I donít understand."
"Steve attacked Dana last night, thatís why heís been arrested."
"Dana, he didnít. . . " She let her voice trail off, her hand to her mouth.
"No, Mom. Mulder got here in time."
Mrs. Scully took in the ease and confidence with which Fox stood with Dana now, his arm around her waist. So, finally they were together. Too bad it had taken yet another near tragedy to bring them to this point.
"Dana, what happened?"
"Steve wanted our Ďrelationshipí such as it was, to go to another level. Since I had never considered the possibility he became belligerent and. . . " She waved her hand toward the small pile of broken objects on the coffee table.
"I would never have thought he was that kind of man. Fox, thank you so much for being here for her. When I think. . . "
"Donít, Mrs. Scully. Donít even think it."
"You are going to press charges?"
"Yes. Mulder and I are going down to the police station in a little while to give our statements."
"I canít imagine what Steve told Bill, to get him so confused. Donít worry, Iíll set Bill straight. Iíll get out of here and let you get ready." And give you some privacy, she added to herself. She hugged Dana and then Fox. "Thank you, Fox." She kissed his cheek and squeezed Danaís hand. "Call me if you need anything."
Dana walked her out, then she returned to the kitchen, Mulder trailing her, frowning and worried. "She knows, doesnít she?"
"Oh yeah, she knows."
"She didnít seem to be very upset."
"And why should she be?"
"Well, I mean you are her daughter and. . . "
"Her grown daughter."
"Yeah, but. . . "
"She approves, Mulder. Believe me, she approves. Iím going to take my shower now, wanna help me?"
He smiled and slowly nodded, eyes gleaming.
They were later getting to the police station than they had planned, but were not kept waiting by the detectives handling the case. Scully hated the pictures that had to be taken, but handled it with as much dignity as she could muster.
Mulder was on the couch when the pounding started on the door. He jumped to his feet, checking for his gun. He motioned for Scully to wait as she hurried into the room belting her robe. He looked through the peephole. His shoulders sagged.
"Itís Bill." He whispered.
At her nod he opened the door.
"What the hell are you doing here?" He glared at Mulder.
"I think thatís our question, Bill." Scully spoke.
"Iím here to get this mess cleared up between Steve and. . ." He finally broke off his glare and looked over at Scully.
"Thereís nothing for you to clear up, Bill." Scully stayed on her side of the room, so Bill started to take a step toward her, then stopped.
"I just saw Steve, he looks as bad as you do, from Mulder beating him up.
"You went to see Steve before you came to check on your own sister?" Mulder didnít try to hide his surprise.
"Stay out of this Mulder. This is none of your business. What the hell are you doing here anyway? This is between Dana and me, family, not you." Scully did approach him then.
"Bill, Mulder stays. He belongs here. Mulder is my family. Heís the family I chose, not someone I just happen to be related to."
Mulder didnít dare look at her; Bill would go ballistic if he saw his face.
"Mulder? Family! Heís the reason we have so much less family. Hell for all I know heís the one that beat you up and just said Steve did it!"
Scully didnít hesitate, her hand connected with his face and even Mulder winced at the force behind the slap.
"Donít call me a liar, Bill, or insult anyoneís intelligence with a theory like that."
Bill took a deep breath, his hand going up to rub his cheek. "You canít press charges. Youíll ruin his career, Dana."
"His career! Are you serious? Bill, Steve tried to rape me. He would have raped me if Mulder hadnít gotten here when he did." Bill did flinch at those words, then straightened his shoulders and looked down at her.
"Then you must have led him on. You had to have made him think. . ."
"Thatís it. Youíre out of here." Mulder took his arm.
Bill yanked himself free and moved toward Scully. Mulder prepared himself for whatever was going to come next. Bill outweighed him and they were both full of adrenaline, but if he laid a hand on her it would be no contest.
"Who the hell are you to order me out of my sisterís apartment?"
Before Mulder could answer, Scully lashed out, "Heís my partner and he does so with my blessing. I would suggest that you go get some sleep and when you come to your senses we can talk. Otherwise donít bother to come back."
"I canít believe youíre choosing Mulder over your family again."
"What are you talking about? Steve is not. . ."
"Heís my friend, heís someone I introduced to you."
"Heís a sleazy womanizer with no self control. Listen carefully Bill. Rape. Not just assault and battery. He ripped my clothes off of me, he grabbed my breasts." Bill did have the decency to wince at that. "He hurt me Bill. If Mulder hadnít gotten here in time he would have hurt me irreparably." Billís hand twitched as though to go out to her, but then she said the unforgivable. "Mulder saved me from your friend. I owe him everything."
Billís face hardened into a mask of granite. Never, heíd never forgive her for choosing this man. This man was the reason Melissa was dead, the reason Dana had almost died twice, and she was choosing him? Sheíd lost her mind. She couldnít be thinking clearly. He had to get her away from him.
"I want you to come with me to Momís, Dana." He reached for her arm.
"No Bill, Iím staying here. Iíve talked to Mom. She knows Iím okay."
"Does she know heís here?"
"Yes and sheís pleased and relieved." His eyes narrowed. "But I do think you should go to Momís Bill. Get some sleep, maybe youíll be able to see things more clearly in the morning."
"And leave him here?"
"Yes Bill. He stays here Ė all night and tomorrow, and the next day. Get over it, live with it. Mulder is part of my life. And if you want to continue to be, youíll accept that. Iím not asking you to be happy about it."
"Dana. . . "
"Go on now. Iím tired, itís been a long day and tomorrow will be too."
Bill stood there, his hands clenching into fists. She walked around him and silently opened the door. He headed for the opening, stopped to say something, thought better of it at the look on her face and was out of there. She closed the door behind him and leaned against it, her strength gone.
"Scully?" Mulder pulled her into his arms and held her.
"Letís go to bed Mulder." He nodded and walked her into the bedroom.
Bill slammed into his motherís home in a frenzy. She came running out to see what was happening, pulling her robe around her. "Bill? What are you doing here?"
"I came to get this mess cleared up between Dana and Steve. But it seems Mulder has already insinuated himself into the situation. Heís staying at her apartment!"
"I know. He was very concerned about her. Thank God he got there when he did."
"Now donít you go telling me you believe Mulderís version of what happened! You met Steve, he stayed here at your house. This whole thing is a lie."
"You think Dana would lie about what Steve did to her? Did you see her bruises?"
"Did you see Steveís? Why are you so sure that Steveís the bad guy here? Mulder nearly killed the guy. Maybe he assaulted Dana, maybe sheís just trying to protect him by throwing blame on Steve."
"Bill, you donít believe that. Fox would never, could never hurt Dana. He loves her too much for that."
"Loves her!" Bill looked like he wanted to spit on the floor, just saying those words.
"I want you to calm down, Bill. Youíre working yourself into a fit. Let me fix you something to calm you down." Bill trailed her into the kitchen, where she put water on for tea. Heíd been thinking scotch, so he headed for the liquor cabinet and poured himself a generous measure.
"Danaís going to ruin Steve. Even after heís found not guilty, the stain will remain on his service record. How can she do this to him?"
"Do this to him? Bill, have you seen Dana? I donít understand you, how can you be worried about the career of a man that would brutalize your sister like that? This isnít about Steve at all is it?" She sat at the table with him, "Youíre upset about Steve, but this is about Fox isnít it? The fact that heís with your sister. Do you hate him that much?"
Bill looked up at her and started to speak, thought better of it, and drained his scotch. He then stood and walked from the room. Mrs. Scully sighed and placed the dishes in the sink, then followed him up the stairs.
He was gone when she woke the next morning. Heíd woken early and decided to get started. His first stop was the police station where he talked to the officer in charge of her case. After a lengthy conversation he headed for the Department of Defense to look up some friends.
Scully was going through the mail when someone knocked on her door. Had Mulder changed his mind about going to work? No, he would have used his key. She smiled at that. She was surprised to see the detective handling her case waiting outside of her door.
"Detective Wilson? Please, come in. Is there something I can help you with?"
"Well, yes." He seemed a little uncomfortable. "Is Mr. Mulder here?"
"No. Heís at work. Do you need him?"
"No. Uh, no. Look, Ms. Scully, some new information has come to our attention about your assault and Iíd like to talk with you about it."
"Of course. Would you like some coffee?" She gestured toward her couch.
"That would be very nice. Thanks." She left him to get the coffee. What was this all about?
She returned with mugs of coffee and the fixings on a tray. "Detective Wilson, is there a problem about holding the man who assaulted me?"
"Thereís been a question raised that he is the actual attacker. When our officer came through the door, Mr. Mulder was definitely the aggressor. I wanted to talk to you, alone, and let you know that we can protect you. "
"I donít understand."
He pulled out his notebook and didnít quite face her. "Do you and Mr. Mulder have a physical relationship?"
"I beg your pardon?" What the hell was he asking?
"Mr. Mulder is your partner, correct?"
"Yes, for five years."
"During that time has he ever tried to force his attentions on you, physically?"
"Mulder?" She actually laughed. Mulder trying to be romantic? Before this week she had made a point of never even exploring the possibility. Except possibly in her bedroom, alone at night.
"Weíve learned that he is into pornography, perverted stuff. I need to know if he has ever tried to. . . If maybe youíre protecting him at the expense of someone else."
It all clicked into place. "Bill! My brother came to see you, didnít he? He put these preposterous ideas in your head. No, Mulder has never tried to force a physical relationship with me. We have worked together as equals, as partners for years without any complications of that type. Thatís why I called him when I was in trouble, when Steve assaulted and tried to rape me. Steve, not Mulder. I am not trying to protect anyone. Agent Mulderís reputation is perfectly clear in that area, whatever his viewing preferences he would never force his way with any woman."
"Your brother said youíd defend him. Thatís why I came when I felt he wouldnít be here. Is he why youíre not at work?"
"Mulder insisted that I . . . " She saw his head go up. "He strongly suggested that I take another day to recover."
"Does he often make these strong suggestions to you?"
She decided to ignore that. "Do you want me to take a lie detector test? I will. Iíd be happy to. Fox Mulder did not and has not ever assaulted me in any way. I am not afraid of Mulder and the information you have received is prejudiced and false. The correct man is in custody."
"Well, uh, heís not exactly in custody at the moment. Your brother arranged bail for him."
"Great. Do you have any more questions?"
"No. Look, Iím sorry if I upset you, but this information wasnít something we could afford to overlook."
"I understand. My brother does love me, but he has a personal grudge against Mulder and it has obviously affected his judgment."
"Well I guess that could happen. I can tell you, heís hurting your case."
"Have you spoken with Agent Mulder?"
"My partner is on his way to talk to him right now."
"Super." She murmured. "Well, do you need anything else?"
"No. I appreciate your time." She nodded and let him out. She then immediately reached for the phone to call Mulder. No answer on his cell, the machine came on at the desk. Damn!
She kept trying periodically, but couldnít reach him. She was in the kitchen when she heard the key in the lock. She headed for the door. One look at his face was enough.
He shut the door forcefully. "Do you know what that brother of yours has done now?"
"Iím sorry Mulder."
"They were here?"
She nodded, "I tried to call you."
"I was being Ďinterviewedí for the last two hours. Did you tell them about. . .? "
"No, I never mentioned your Ďcollectioní to anyone." Sheíd read that expression correctly. "Which means Bill has talked to someone else. Someone who doesnít like you."
"How can they not know they have the correct man in custody?"
"Uh, Mulder, heís not in custody anymore."
"Bill arranged bail. Steve is out."
Mulder looked away furious. He bit down on the comments he wanted to make. Bill was her brother and that wasnít her fault. When he regained control he turned back to her. "Iím not sure youíre safe here. He knows this place."
"Iíll keep the doors locked, and. . . "
"Will you be here tonight?"
Finally he smiled, "If Iím invited."
She nodded, "Well then I feel safe. Come on Mulder. I told the police they had the right man, I even offered to take a lie detector test. Weíll get this cleared up. Please donít think about Bill. I canít justify what heís done and I donít know if I can ever forgive him, but we canít change it or him."
Mulder took a deep breath. "I donít want you here alone. Let me take you over to your motherís house and Iíll pick you up on the way home."
"Mulder, I donít. . . "
"Please." His eyes implored this of her.
"Okay. Let me change. But Mulder, only today. Tomorrow Iím going back to work."
He nodded, thatís exactly what he wanted. He needed to have her back at work, whole and well.