Her mother answered her knock quickly and gave her a hug. When she stepped aside Scully saw Mulder standing in front of the sofa in the living room.
"What are you doing here?"
"I needed to talk to somebody. I needed to know if I was like Alan." He sounded so strange, like he did when he talked about Samantha, kind of lost.
Scully glanced over at her mother.
"I'll be upstairs if you need me. Please don't leave until we talk, Dana." Dana sighed and nodded.
"Mulder, I told you that you weren't."
"I needed to hear it from someone else. Come on, Scully, you know how territorial I can get. You've called me on it often enough. And I expect your time to be mine. I call you at 2 a.m. and just assume you want to talk to me."
"I usually do want to, Mulder."
He looked away, assessing that remark.
"Mulder, there is absolutely no basis of comparison between you and Alan. You are already so much more than he'll ever be. Don't you know where you fit in my life?"
"Not really, and there could be a basis of comparison that I'm not sure I could handle."
She blushed at that. "You shouldn't worry there either."
"Scully, how come with my Ph.D. and your M.D., your mother is so much smarter than either one of us?"
She sighed, "She's not as damaged, Mulder."
"I could kill him for what he did to you." He said it quietly, with little emotion, but she believed him.
"Not unlike how I feel about Phoebe, Mulder."
That startled him. She thought about Phoebe? She correctly interpreted that look.
"She's part of the reason you are who you are, Mulder. She helped form you."
"So he's part of the reason you keep me at arms length?"
She sighed, "Yeah, I guess so. I didn't want that kind of control from any man." Even from you, Mulder, she conceded to herself. I can't handle anyone taking over my whole life, controlling me. Like I now let you of my own free will, she thought, even though you don't realize it.
"I wouldn't do that to you."
"I know. You think I've hung around for five years without learning as much as I could about you?" She gave him a little smile, almost shy.
"Why don't we introduce Alan to Phoebe?"
She actually laughed at that, breaking the tension. She reached out and took his hand. "You know, we would be doing mankind a huge favor if we did. Can you just imagine it?"
Mulder was smiling now, too. He loved to see her laugh.
She sobered and looked at his hand. "Mulder, please. He has no hold over me. He's been gone for years. He doesn't know anyone else in town. Look, he's only been here a week."
"How many times have you seen him?"
"We've had lunch most days and gone out a few evenings. He's looking for a job and I'm introducing him to a few people."
"So there's no relationship?"
"Not like you mean. He's an old friend. There's no romance, Mulder."
"Is he okay with that?" He wasn't willing to let it rest; he still felt something was wrong and she wouldn't meet his eyes. "Scully, you may not know it. Hell you're probably avoiding it; but your mother's right and he knows it. If he was jealous before, will you be safe?"
"I can't believe that Alan would hurt me again. You're going to have to trust me to handle this, Mulder."
"I do trust you. That's not the problem. Look, I know your mother wants to talk to you, why don't you two visit and I'll meet you at your apartment later. I'll bring supper."
"I'd like that." Such a simple sentence - why was she blushing? Why did she feel so shy? This was Mulder!
It was late when Mulder left her apartment. In fact it came closer than either wanted to admit for him not to leave at all, but cooler heads prevailed and after their talk both knew it was just a matter of time anyway. Even if neither was willing to say it out loud. They'd waited this long - there was no reason to rush now.
The next morning after Scully locked her apartment; she turned and almost stumbled over Alan. "What are you doing here this early?"
"Wanted to catch up with you before you started your day. I need to show you something."
"Now? I have to get to work."
"Yeah, it's important, Dana. Very important. You won't be that late."
"Well, I should call in. Let Mulder know I'll be late." She couldn't know how her eyes changed when she mentioned his name.
"No need for that. I promise it won't take that long. Come on." He had her arm, firmly if not tightly, and walked her to her car. "Would you like me to drive?"
"No. Where are we going, Alan?" This didn't seem right. Or had Mulder put this in her mind? Was she allowing his suspicions to cloud her judgment?
"I've got the directions here. You'll see."
"Yes. Kim? Great, what have I done now?" He hated starting a day with a call from Skinner's secretary. No good could come from it.
Kim laughed, "Nothing that I know of, Agent Mulder. But the day is young. Actually you have a phone message left on my machine. It's a man's voice asking that you meet Agent Scully at 1712 Alexandria Drive as soon as possible."
"On your machine? He didn't leave a name?" That was odd and strangely uncomfortable.
"No, sir. That's the entire message. It was recorded at 7:15 this morning."
"Scully's not here yet. Okay, I'll try to reach her by cell phone. Thanks, Kim."
"I hope there's no problem."
"Me too. I'll talk to you later." He hung up and dialed her cell phone. No answer. Why would she have some man phone Kim's number to leave a message? Something wasn't right. He grabbed his coat and headed out the door.
1712 Alexandria Drive was just a warehouse, not much to look at. But that was her car, now where was she? Something was definitely not right, he decided to go ahead and draw his weapon. He let his arm hang down by his side, if there was a problem, everyone didn't have to know what his options were.
He opened the door set in the larger cargo door. No element of surprise here, these doors hadn't been oiled in decades.
"Nice of you to join us, Agent Mulder. Please put your gun down, so that I don't have to shoot "your" partner." The voice was behind him. He held his hand out with the gun in a non-threatening grasp and turned. Alan stood to the side of the door; Scully clutched against him, a gun at her head, her gun. Mulder's blood ran ice cold.
He carefully placed his own gun on the cement floor and took one step back.
"Calm down, Alan. There's no reason for this to go any further." Mulder held his hands away from his sides, trying to look non-threatening. Alan held the gun steady on her, not wavering.
"Dana is mine. She's always been mine. She was mine before she even met you and she'll be mine after I kill you."
"Alan," her voice was shaking. She swallowed trying to steady it. "This isn't necessary. You two are not rivals. There is no reason for you to hurt Agent Mulder."
"He loves you and he wants you. That can be very attractive to women. You might fancy yourself falling for him."
"Alan, don't do this." Mulder wanted to scream at her to get away. But what if he rattled this guy and he shot her? This was totally out of hand.
Without warning Alan shoved her away from him and brought his other hand up to ensure the gun was completely steady, now pointed at Mulder, and added pressure to the trigger.
"No!" Scully leaped at Mulder, knocking him to the side. The bullet, when it connected with her body, spun her completely around before slamming her into the floor. Alan stared, stunned at her body. Mulder roared his rage as he slammed into Alan. He heard the gun clatter away as they hit the concrete and he had his hands around Alan's throat. Alan was no match for Mulder's fury as Mulder slammed his head into the floor while choking him.
"Mulder. . . "
"Scully?" Alive, she was alive. "I'm here, Scully. Just hold on." He ensured that Alan wouldn't be moving anytime soon and had his phone out, demanding help for her. "They're on the way, Scully. Talk to me, okay?"
"I know. No, don't try to move."
"I haven't killed him yet. He's over there; he's out."
"I'm sorry, Mulder." Her voice was a whisper now.
"No, you've got nothing to apologize for. I can't even blame him. After all, I'm obsessed with you too, you know." Why was there so much blood on her clothes and the floor? Where was the damn ambulance!
"It's nice to have someone sane attracted to me." Her color wasn't good.
"It's even nicer to be considered sane. Hey, hold on, Scully. Squeeze my hand - but you gotta stay awake. Keep talking, okay? They're on the way." Don't let her see your fear, she will be okay. That bastard was not going to take her from him.
"It's hard to breathe, Mulder. I think my lung's collapsed."
"Let me look, Scully. Just stay still." He carefully unbuttoned her blouse. Too much blood, her blood. He had his handkerchief out, pressing it against her wound.
"Mulder. . . "
"I'm right here. I. . . Scully, I can hear the ambulance. You're gonna be fine. Scully? Scully! Wake up!" He'd never known this kind of fear, wake up Scully!
"Sir, move aside please. Let us in here." They moved in, treating her and getting her ready for transport. The police motioned the second paramedic over to the unconscious man.
"We're going to need a second ambulance."
"She goes first." Mulder didn't even bother to look up, though he did display his credentials. The paramedics did look up, there was definite menace in his voice.
"Of course. She's the top priority, sir." Mulder only nodded. He did agree to follow them in his car, rather than ride in the ambulance, and ensured that Alan was under guard before he was transported.
"Mr. Mulder, you know the rules here as well as I do. You spend as much time here as me. You are going to have to wait out here, and Dr. Reed will speak to you as soon as he can. Who do you need to call that you've forgotten about?"
Mulder wanted to glare at her, but who knew when he'd need her in the future? And she was right - he needed to call Mrs. Scully and Skinner. He heard the commotion as the ambulance with Alan arrived. Mulder watched as Alan was rushed into one of the cubicles to be examined. Scully was already in surgery. The SOB would pay one way or the other.
He got Mrs. Scully on the first ring. "Fox, hi. I was just on my way out. Is everything okay?"
"No, Mrs. Scully, its Dana. They're sure she'll be fine, but. . "
"Alan shot her. He's here, too. She's in surgery to remove the bullet."
"Alan shot. . . "
"I'll call you a cab. You just wait there, okay?"
"No! I'm on my way."
"Not unless you can calm down. Mrs. Scully, please."
"I'm fine, Fox. I'll be there in a few minutes. Is Alan going to live?"
"Yeah, I stopped in time."
"Well." She seemed about to say something else, but stopped herself. "Emergency?"
"Yeah, I'll wait for you here." Mulder heard her hang up and dialed Skinner. He'd never heard Mrs. Scully like that before. He didn't think she could hate anyone. Well, maybe hate was too strong, but. . .
"Agent Mulder, sir. Scully's been shot; we're at Georgetown."
"How?" Mulder had his full and undivided attention. He was already rising from his desk and had one hand on his jacket slung across the back of the chair.
"It was not in the line of duty, sir."
"Did you shoot her?"
"No! She. . . "
"I'm on my way. Wait right there." The phone went dead in his ear. Did he shoot her? What the hell kind of question was that? Well, okay it was a legitimate question, but. . . damn.
Skinner arrived first and Mulder was bringing him up to date on her condition when Mrs. Scully arrived.
"No word yet, but they keep telling me it hasn't been that long. She's going to be okay, Mrs. Scully." He had his arm around her and she gratefully leaned against his strength. He led them to the elevators and pressed the surgical floor.
She looked into his eyes. He was holding in more than usual for Dana to be injured. What wasn't he telling her? She took a deep breath and tried to relax her shoulders.
"Come over here and have a seat. Dr. Reed is with her and they say he'll be out when he can." Mulder led her to the plastic couch in the waiting area.
"I hate this, Fox. What happened?"
He quickly brought Mrs. Scully and Skinner up to date on the events of that morning. "He was trying to shoot me, to get me out of her life. She jumped in front of me at the last minute. It should have been me. I'm so sorry."
"It shouldn't have been either one of you. I've known Alan was trouble from the first, but I made the mistake of telling Dana that. I should have been smarter. I'd already been through relationships with the other kids, but none as bad as this. Of course she defended him and. . . oh Fox." He put his arms back around her and after a moment Skinner rose to see if he could get any new information.
He brought back tea for Mrs. Scully, but no new information. "Thank you, Walter. It's good of you to stay."
"I hate this the most, waiting to make sure one of mine is okay, but I couldn't be anywhere else."
She nodded and sipped her tea. The door opening drew their attention and Mulder glanced over at one of the nurses he knew too well. She nodded and he rose.
"Mrs. Scully? I'm Dr. Reed. I just wanted you to know that Dana is doing very well. Her ribs did exactly what they were supposed to do - protect the lungs. The bullet was deflected before it could do any major damage. We removed the bullet and inflated her lung. She was very lucky she was hit at such an angle. That decreased the amount of damage as well. She should be out of recovery in about an hour and put in a regular room. We'll keep an eye on her, but I don't think she'll need any intensive care at all. She's a very strong woman."
Mrs. Scully didn't speak; she just hugged him, then she hugged Mulder and then Skinner. Skinner looked the most startled, which caused Mulder to smile. When was the last time Assistant Director Walter Skinner had been hugged?
"When they get her room assigned, you can wait in there. I'll have the nurse inform you. I'll check on Dana later this evening and talk to you again then." Dr. Reed headed back toward the surgical area and the three of them sank onto the couch.
"I suppose we should ask how Alan's doing?" Mrs. Scully ventured.
"No, but we should check that he's in custody. I'll take care of that. You two just stay here and wait for Scully, and I'll let you know." Skinner rose and pressed Mrs. Scully's hand again. "Call me if you need anything. Mulder has my number and I'm pretty sure he'll be close by."
The nurses relented and allowed Mrs. Scully and Mulder to wait in Scully's room, so they were there when she was finally brought down. She was semi-conscious and in some pain, but when she spotted Mulder the lines around her eyes relaxed and she drifted off.
"I remember that. I'm so glad she's found it too." Mrs. Scully touched her daughter's forehead and smoothed her hair back.
"What?" Mulder glanced away from Scully's face reluctantly.
"Nothing hurts as bad when the person you love is there."
Mulder gaped at her for an instant, then had to look away as his eyes filled. Mrs. Scully put her arms around him.
"It's okay to love her, Fox. She loves you too."
Skinner returned after several hours to check in. "Well, Mulder, you and Scully get credit for another bust. We can prove that one Alan Nichols is the serial rapist that's been beating up the prostitutes in town."
"What?" Mulder couldn't have heard him correctly.
"Yes, he's been positively ID'd by two of the women."
"Alan?" They hadn't realized Scully was awake. "He did that?"
"Agent Scully. I didn't mean to wake you."
"You didn't. I've been lying here listening to Mom and Mulder."
"Oops, what were we talking about, Fox?"
"The Knicks, I think, so we shouldn't be compromised." He grinned at Scully, then turned back to Skinner, "But, Sir, Alan's only been in town a week or so. I thought these attacks had been going on for nearly a month."
"He's been here. He showed up right after he was released from prison in South America."
"Prison?" Scully and Mrs. Scully spoke together.
"Yes, he's not been in the Peace Corps for some time. Right after he got there he moved in with a local woman and then proceeded to beat her nearly to death. He's been in prison for the past six years. When he got out they got rid of him as soon as possible."
"Did the American Consulate allow that?"
"They didn't know. He didn't contact them for assistance, and the locals weren't worried about dotting all of the i's; they just wanted him punished. Apparently beating women is his favorite past time and he really gets off on it. He's escalated since he finally got out. I don't think that's going to happen again for a long time. Mulder, are you okay?"
Mulder realized he was shuddering, the photograph of the prostitute he'd seen emblazoned before his eyes. He hadn't been wrong, his radar was perfectly in tune. "Sorry, a case of the 'what ifs'."
"Mulder, it's okay. I'm okay. Don't think about it." Scully took his hand. He'd saved her again, but he'd pay in additional nightmares. She wanted to sooth him, but there were just too many people here.
"You don't have any other old boyfriends I need to worry about do you?" He tried to lighten the atmosphere.
"What? And reveal my secrets?"
He glanced over at Mrs. Scully for help.
"Don't worry, Fox. We'll talk when we're sure she's really asleep this time."
Mrs. Scully just smiled, watching her daughter and the man that had become as close as her own sons in recent years. This was the kind of man she'd always wanted for Dana. She nodded mostly to herself, then took Director Skinner's arm and led him out of the room in order to give them what they wanted most - time alone.