The emergency doors to the ER opened and a large, bald man with an air of command entered, pushing a wheelchair he had obviously obtained from just outside. In the wheelchair was a younger man, thinner with dark chestnut hair. His look was vacant.
As they were moving past her, the younger man’s hand suddenly reached out and grasped her arm.
“Mulder,” the large man hissed, “let go of her.”
“No, it’s okay. Bring him in here.” The short red-head in street clothes led them to an empty cubicle.
“I’m sorry, Miss . . .”
“Scully. I’m Dr. Dana Scully. Could you help me get him on the examining table?”
He blinked, she was a doctor? “Walter Skinner.” He offered as he maneuvered the patient to his feet and sat him on the table. This was made more difficult by the fact that the younger man still had a tight grip on Dr. Scully’s arm.
“Can you tell me what happened?” She had begun a cursory examination of the man. “Was he injured?”
“Not physically. This is Special Agent Fox Mulder. I’m Assistant Director Walter Skinner.”
Dana looked up. Assistant Director? Skinner had his badge out. She glanced at it and nodded. “We were in my office, debriefing. I noticed he was quiet, but after everyone else left he was . . . Then I realized he, he wasn’t in there.”
She nodded, taking his blood pressure. “His vitals are good.” She proceeded with her exam.
Skinner glanced up as the curtain opened. “Oh, Dr. Scully, I’m sorry. I thought you had gone.”
“I was on my way out. Just wanted to check out my friend.”
“Do you need me to - “
“Thanks, Angie. I’ve got it.”
Angie nodded and retreated. Dana turned back to the table. “Mr. Skinner, physically I’m not finding a problem. I can call down a psych - “
“No. Please, not yet. I . . . if this gets out, his career . . . You say physically he’s in no danger?” Skinner questioned her.
“I didn’t say that. What did you have in mind?” Her eyebrow rose slightly.
Skinner’s face flushed. “Well, take him to my place. See if he can sleep.”
“I’m not sure - “ she started.
“I know. But what he really needs is rest, and . . . and to step away from a case he just finished. I probably jumped the gun bringing him here.”
“What case? Or is that classified?”
Skinner looked at the younger man again. “This is the man that caught Dwight Glenwood.” He spoke quietly, and Dana thought, there was a touch of reverence in his tone. Before she could respond, Mulder’s hand tightened oh her arm.
“Fox - “
“Call him Mulder, that’s what he prefers,” Skinner interrupted.
She nodded, “Mulder, it’s okay. I’m not going anywhere. I’m Dr. Scully. You’re going to be okay, Mulder. I’m right here with you.” She leaned closer, speaking directly to him. He had beautiful dark eyes. She brushed the hair back from his forehead and his grip eased slightly. She smiled at him.
“Dr. Scully, thank you. I believe I will take him to my apartment. I’ll keep an eye on him and - “
“I’ll go with you.” She spoke impulsively, but relaxed once the words were said.
“I was off duty anyway. Besides,” she glanced at her arm, “I seem to be connected to his case.” She gave Skinner a rueful smile.
Skinner’s opinion of the small woman with the unruly red curls went up. “I can’t ask you - “
“You didn’t, I volunteered.”
“What about your family? Aren’t they - “ It was a half hearted protest. Skinner had already realized he could use her help.
“If you mean my parents, I don’t live at home anymore. Other than that, no ties.” She turned her full attention back to her patient. “Mulder, we’re going to take you to Mr. Skinner’s home. Is that okay with you?” His grip on her arm tightened again immediately. “I’m coming too,” she said smoothly. “Don’t worry, I’m not leaving you.”
His eyes flickered at those words, almost as if he’d heard her directly that time. Scully motioned for Skinner and they helped Mulder back into the wheelchair.
“My car’s right outside.” Skinner pushed as Dana walked beside them, her right hand covering his hand which still gripped her left wrist.
Mulder seemed more aware, moving slightly on his own when he got into the back seat. “I think I’ll sit back here with him,” Dana half chuckled as she climbed in, still in his grip.
Skinner returned the wheelchair to the entrance, then climbed in and started the motor. She was speaking to Mulder in a low voice and though he couldn’t make out the words, Skinner found himself feeling better as well.
Mulder moved slowly, but under his own steam to the elevator and then on into Skinner’s apartment.
“The couch?” Dana questioned.
“Why don’t we get him settled in the second bedroom? That’s where he’ll be sleeping tonight.”
Dana nodded. They sat him on the side of the bed. “Let’s make you comfortable.” She spoke to the silent man as she finished removing the tie she had loosened earlier, then unbuckled his belt and, with Skinner’s assistance removed it. They had Mulder recline then and Skinner removed his shoes.
“Mr. Skinner - “
She gave him a quick smile. “Walter, could you get him some water and bring me my bag. I dropped it on the couch.”
Skinner nodded and after a glance at Mulder, left the room.
Dana sat on the bed beside Mulder. “I’m still here, Mulder. You can relax.” He allowed his eyes to close, but they opened again immediately when the door reopened and Skinner entered.
She took her bag and Skinner placed the glass of water on a coaster on the bedside table. “Mulder, I’d like you to take these.” She shook two small white pills into her hand. “They probably won’t put you to sleep, but they’ll help you relax.”
After a slight hesitation, he took them from her hand and popped them into his mouth. She nodded encouragingly and handed him the water.
He lay back after swallowing the pills and her hands caressed his brow. “Now I want you to close your eyes and lay back. I’m not leaving you. I might go in the next room after you drift off, but I promise you that I will not leave. Do you understand?”
He met her eyes then. Funny, she had thought he had dark brown eyes. They seemed a much lighter shade now, with a hint of green. He seemed to see what he needed, and let his eyes close, relaxing his grip on her arm but not releasing her.
She heard Skinner leave the room, but didn’t turn. Very shortly his even breathing let her know he had indeed fallen asleep. His hands loosened its grip and fell to the bed. She didn’t hurry, but after a few minutes, she rose cautiously, and when he didn’t stir, let herself out of the room, leaving the door cracked.
She followed the smell of coffee and found Skinner sitting at the kitchen table, a mug of coffee in front of him, staring at nothing.
“He’s asleep,” she said softly.
“Thanks. I thought you could use some coffee, or I have tea.” He started to rise.
“Coffee’s fine, but I need to visit your powder room first.”
There was a second steaming mug on the table when she returned. She took her seat and looked at the large man hunched over his own coffee.
“Want to give me the fleshed out version of what happened?" She took her seat beside him.
She watched the man sigh and take a sip of his coffee. She took the small pitcher of milk he’d obviously set out of her and added some to her coffee. “Did he really catch Dwight Glenwood?”
“You’ve followed the case?”
“The whole nation has followed the case, Walter. Taking those little girls . . . I read what he did to them in the paper. I can only imagine what was left out.”
“You don’t want to,” Skinner replied. He looked up at her then, “Mulder’s a profiler. You know what that is?”
“He’s good. He’s so good it’s . . . Spooky.” Dana didn’t understand the ghost of a smile that came over his face, “It’s nasty work, hard. The men that do it have to get inside these sicko’s heads. The really good ones almost become them.” Skinner glanced toward the bedroom. “He’s the best I’ve ever seen.”
“So it hurts him the most,” Dana said softly.
“Yeah.” After several minutes of silence, Skinner took another sip of coffee. "And with kids, innocent little girls . . . “
“It hurt you too.”
“You keep working; you try to dwell on the victims he didn’t get because of your work, but yeah. These cases damage you.”
She was the one looking over toward the bedroom this time. “What happens now?”
“He’ll get some time off. This time I’ll insist he take it. I’ll try to keep him from the next case, unless of course, the case gets too bad.”
She jerked, spilling coffee on the table. “Don’t worry about this, go to him.” Skinner was on his feet, but it was Dana racing down the hall to him.
“I’m here, Mulder. I told you I wouldn’t leave and I didn’t. Just relax.”
She was holding his hand firmly now, and again brushed that errant lock of hair from his forehead. She placed her hand on his chest, to calm him, but also to check his heart rate. It was already slowing with her presence.
“Can you sit up? Mulder? I want you to drink some more water.”
He obeyed, silent again. Skinner came to the door. “Do you need anything, Dana?”
“No, we’re doing fine for now.” She wanted to keep stimulation to a minimum.
When they were alone again, she noticed he was rubbing her hand with his thumb. She smiled, “My name’s Dana.”
“I like Scully.” He said, looking at her with uncertainty and . . . and a touch of shyness.
She smiled, “I guess it fits, since I’m calling you Mulder.”
He seemed to relax another notch.
“Do you want to talk?” she asked quietly.
“No. Do you . . . “ he swallowed, “Do you need to leave?”
“Nope, not for a while anyway. You should eat something. I bet Walter would order something.”
“Walter? You call him Walter?”
“Should I call him Skinner, make him part of the club?”
For the first time she saw a hint of a smile on his face. “No, Walter is good.” He settled back against the headboard and she adjusted his pillows.
He looked around the room then, “Is this ‘Walter’s’ place?”
“Yes. Haven’t you been here before?”
He shook his head, “I must’ve really lost it.”
“You were upset.”
He just looked at her.
“Okay, you were very upset, but you seem to be feeling better now.”
He didn’t respond to that, just watching her.
“Mulder, may I ask you a question?” She felt his hand tighten around hers, but he nodded.
“Why did you take my hand?”
He blinked, not the question he’d been expecting. He was thinking more along the lines of ‘have you always had mental problems’ or ‘how often do you experience catatonia?’
“I . . . I don’t know. I . . . it felt . . . right.” It wasn’t a complete answer, but he couldn’t really explain.
Dana looked surprised at that, but didn’t question him further. He shrugged.
“Well,” she squeezed his hand, “do you think you could eat something now? It’s nearly eight.”
“Do you need to get home?” he asked quickly.
“No, I live alone, not even a cat waiting for me.”
He absorbed that, and even seemed pleased at her answer. “If you’re hungry, I could try.”
“When is the last time you ate?”
“I . . . I don’t really remember.”
“I should have checked your blood sugar.” She muttered to herself and rose from the bed. She squeezed his hand, then placed it on the bed. “I’m going to see if Walter has any juice and find something for you to eat. Mulder,” she saw the tension return to his shoulders. “I won’t leave without telling you. Right now I’m just going to find some food for you.”
He nodded but didn’t speak. His throat and chest felt tight. He watched her leave the room and managed not to call her back.
When she returned with his juice, Skinner was with her.
“You’re looking better.” Skinner surveyed him from the foot of the bed.
Mulder nodded. “Thanks for bringing me here.”
“Not a problem. I ordered Chinese. I figured the soup would be light enough and if you wanted more, we’d have it.”
“Thanks. Then I’ll get out of your hair.” Mulder realized what he’d said a beat too late, Scully grinned.
“You’re not ‘in my hair’, Mulder,” Skinner said dryly. “Dana and I think you should stay here tonight anyway.”
“It’s a spare room, Mulder. You won’t be in my way.”
“We think it would be a good idea, Mulder. You really shouldn’t have to deal with anything else tonight.” Scully again sat beside him on the bed.
He searched her face and after a moment, nodded. “Thanks.”
Dana smiled then, “Why don’t you wash up. Dinner should be here soon.” She stood and held out her hand. He took it and stood himself, testing his abilities. He walked past them out of the room and to the left as Skinner indicated.
“I’m worried about him,” Skinner said, not looking at her. “This isn’t the first time, just the worse.”
“Why does he keep doing it?” she asked.
“Because he is so good at it.” Skinner took a deep breath. “I’ll go get the dishes out.”
Mulder insisted on joining them at the table when the food arrived. He managed to finish the soup, but the thoughts of her leaving seemed to sap the rest of his appetite.
Skinner refused their help in cleaning up and she led Mulder to the couch in the living room. “Thank you for staying this long.” He was watching her as she settled beside him.
“I should thank you. I got a free dinner with two attractive, charming men instead of left-overs alone at my place.” She patted the hand that lay on the couch between them.
“You would really have been alone?”
She nodded. “I usually head home and curl up with a good book or a dry journal after my 24 hours on.”
“So I’ve kept you up too long.”
“Quit trying to feel guilty, Mulder. I didn’t have to stay, I wanted to. But I think you should go on to bed. Your body has taken a beating lately and you need the rest. Your case is over and your friend Walter is - “
“My friend. Yeah.” Mulder looked away.
“Mulder? Is something wrong?”
“No. It was very nice of Skinner to . . . keep me.”
Dana didn’t pursue it; maybe they weren’t as close as she’d thought. “Why don’t you get ready for bed? After you’re settled, I’ll head on home.”
He tensed immediately, then forced himself to relax. “Yeah, you’re probably right. I’m sure you need to get home now.” He rose from the couch and moved toward the bedroom he was using before she could respond.
Skinner came out of the kitchen and looked around. “He’s getting ready for bed,” Dana offered.
“Okay. I can call you a cab.”
“Not yet. I’d like to make sure he’s asleep. He’s functional again, but he’s not okay.”
Skinner glanced in the direction of the bedroom. “He’s a big boy. You’re really not responsible for him.”
“I know, but . . . I don’t mind. Like I told him, the two of you saved me from a lonely evening at home and a dry medical journal to read.”
Skinner watched her for a moment, then moved to the bar. “Would you like a drink? Brandy?”
“No thanks, but you go ahead.”
Skinner nodded and poured himself a short brandy, then took the easy chair across from her.
“You’re exhausted too, Walter. Why don’t you go on to bed? I can let myself out.”
He watched her for a moment, “You’re welcome to stay. You can have my room, and I can sleep out here.”
She smiled, “No thank you. That won’t be necessary. Besides, if anyone should be on the couch it should be me. I think I’d fit the best.”
Again he just observed her. It was a little disconcerting, but not uncomfortable. “I think I’ll take your advice and head on to bed. Just lock the door on your way out.” He rose from the chair. “Thank you again.”
“You’re welcome. Sleep well.” She stood also and moved back to the room Mulder was using.
Dana sat carefully on the side of the bed and watched the slim man sleep. Her hand twitched to push the hair from his forehead again, but she didn’t want to disturb him. There was really no reason to stay. He seemed to be out for the night. She started to rise, but he grew restless, as though he sensed her going. She turned, seeing Walter in the door. “I don’t feel right about leaving.”
“Dana, I’m sure he doesn’t expect you to stay here all night.”
“I know, but . . . It doesn’t make any sense, does it. I mean I met the two of you, what, four hours ago? Here I am thinking of accepting your invitation to spend the night. I’m really not that kind of girl.” She smiled.
“I know that. My offer is still good. Whatever you decide.” He turned then and left her.
Well, she hadn’t decided completely, but she couldn’t bring herself to leave just yet. Damn, but the pull of this man was strong.
She woke slowly. This wasn’t the doctor’s quarters and it certainly wasn’t her place. Then she realized someone was curled around her. Mulder.
Her blouse had come loose from her slacks and his large, warm hand rested on her stomach. Well, he wasn’t exactly copping a feel, but . . .
She started to ease away, but his grip on her tightened pulling her closer. My god, was that . . . She shouldn’t be here.
“Mulder, wake up.” She pulled away then, and rose from the bed.
That woke him quicker than her words. “Scully?” He pulled the covers up, but she still glanced down at him and he saw her cheeks color.
“I thought . . . I thought you were leaving last night.”
“You were restless. When it got late, I just laid down for a minute, and . . . “
“Look, I didn’t mean to . . . “ Mulder started.
“No, I know. It’s . . . it’s okay.” She managed to smile at him. “I’ll freshen up and, and meet you in the kitchen.” He nodded and she let herself out.
Skinner looked up when she entered the kitchen a few minutes later. “So you didn’t leave.”
“Uh, no. It was late, and - “
“It’s okay. Would you like some coffee, breakfast? I don’t keep a lot of breakfast foods around.”
“No, coffee is fine. Walter, I really didn’t - “
“Dana, stop. You don’t owe me any explanations. I told you you were welcome.”
“Yes, but I - “
“I’m sorry if I’ve made you feel uncomfortable, Dana. You’ve been very generous with your time and I appreciate it. I’m sure Mulder does too.”
“Mulder does what?” The man under discussion entered the kitchen dressed in his clothes from the previous day. He was watching the two of them closely.
“I was telling Dana that we appreciate the time she’s spent with us.”
Mulder looked over at Scully and nodded.
“Well, I need to be getting to the office.” Skinner rose from the table. “Dana, can I drop you off?”
“I’ll be leaving too, sir.” Mulder spoke up. “Thank you for taking me in and keeping this low key.”
Skinner turned to look at him. “I want you to take that time we talked about. You need . . . “
The confused look on Mulder’s face stopped him. “Time? Sir?”
“I guess you were kind of out of it. I want you to take a couple of weeks, relax. Glenwood’s dead, so we won’t be racing to save the next victim. It’s just going to be putting all of the pieces together. We have people who can do that.”
“Okay then,” Scully spoke again. “Walter, if you trust me to lock up, why don’t you go on? Mulder and I will share a cab.”
“You’ll be okay?” Skinner asked.
Mulder wasn’t sure who that was directed toward, so he kept quiet. “We’ll be fine,” Scully replied for both of them.
Skinner nodded and slipped on his suit coat, hanging from the back of his chair. “I’ll be in touch, Dana.”
Mulder’s brow furrowed slightly at those words, but she didn’t seem to notice. She nodded, “You have my number.”
Skinner glanced at Mulder, who acknowledged him after an instant. When had Skinner gotten her number? Skinner nodded again, and let himself out.
He was brought back to the present when Scully sat a glass of orange juice in front of him. “You should drink that.”
“You don’t need a lot of caffeine right now.” She washed her coffee mug and set it in the drainer. “Let me know when you’re ready.”
“I’m ready now.” He watched her.
“No, take your time, drink the juice. I’ll go make up my face.”
“You don’t need to,” he spoke without thinking.
She blinked, then smiled. “Thank you.”
She started to turn way, but he took her hand. “About this morning, I . . . I didn’t mean to take advantage.”
“You didn’t, Mulder.”
“I used - “
“You used me as a teddy bear. You seemed to get a restful night’s sleep and so did I. Why don’t you call a cab and I’ll get ready.”
She squeezed his hand and moved away.
When she returned, she was shaking her head.
“Is something wrong?” he asked quickly.
“My hair. It’s completely out of control.”
“I like it.”
She looked up at him, “Thanks, but it’s not the way I normally wear it.” She tried tucking it behind her ear again, then gave up. “Did you get a cab?”
“Yeah, it should be here soon. He can take you home, and - “
“Why don’t we go to the hospital and pick up my car, then I can take you home.”
“You don’t mind? When do you have to be at work?”
“I don’t mind. I worked yesterday, I have twenty-four on, forty-eight off, so I’m okay about work.” She picked up her bag and watched as he locked up the apartment.
They only waited a couple of minutes for the cab, and headed for the hospital. He paid for the taxi, then let himself into the passenger’s seat and gave her directions to his apartment.
He became more and more quiet as they approached his place and she noted it. When he told her just to stop and he’d jump out, she refused and found a space within a block.
“Scully, you really don’t - “
“You think I should go on home and straighten my hair?” She smiled slightly.
He didn’t even try to respond, glancing at his apartment building. “Scully - “
“If you’re worried about underwear on the floor, don’t be. Come on.” Maybe he was just concerned about being alone. She was in no hurry. There was something compelling about this man. They’d had almost no conversation, but the way he looked at her seemed to communicate on a whole new level.
She still didn’t understand why he had focused on her at the hospital, or how she seemed to make him feel . . . safe. But he had slept peacefully with her beside him and she had felt so rested when she had awakened in his arms. And okay, he had an incredible body.
Scully actually led him into the building, and pressed the button for the elevator. She stepped on when it opened and turned to look at him. He seemed unable to move, so she held out her hand to him again.
He clasped it as he had in the hospital. She smiled reassurance at him and he was able to join her in the elevator.
At his door, he fumbled with the keys and she thought of taking them but after a couple of attempts he got the key in the lock and turned it.
“Scully . . . “
“It’s okay, Mulder.” She’d grown up with brothers, what could be in his apartment that would be that bad? She stepped in, with him half a step behind.
The apartment was dark, the curtains pulled, so she felt for the light switch. When she found it and flicked it, she turned back and gasped, “Oh my god.”
Her eyes were like saucers. “Oh, Mulder.”
Every surface was covered with crime scene photos of the small victims of Dwight Glenwood. They were pinned to the walls, taped to the TV and tossed over every flat surface. This was the information kept from the public. Oh dear god, how had he worked with this?
“Scully . . . Scully, it’s how I work. I . . . “
She drew herself up, grasping at her composure. “Mulder, you shouldn’t be around this.”
“No one should.” He looked around, then down at his shoes.
She moved to him, her arms going around his waist. Then she pulled his head down to her neck to hide the sight from him and buried her face against his cheek.
She didn’t know who moved first, maybe it was mutual, but their lips met. No fumbling, no false moves, as though they’d practiced this kiss their whole lives. Her lips parted and his tongue moved to possess her.
Scully was the one that pulled away finally. Their eyes locked on each other. “I shouldn’t have - “ he started.
“No, it’s . . . why don’t you,” she took a shaky breath, “why don’t you take a long hot shower, relax a little.”
“Are you - “
“I’m not leaving.”
He nodded and moved toward his bedroom, carefully not looking at anything but his feet.
“Mulder, are you okay?”
He glanced back, a tiny smile quirking at his lips. “I could probably use a cold shower.”
Her cheeks tinted pink, but she said nothing. She couldn’t help that her thoughts returned to earlier this morning, the feel of his body around her, the hard length pressing against her.
The bathroom door closed and she shook herself. She looked around the room. No, this stuff, these photos - he shouldn’t have to be exposed to this any more.
She hurried around the room, snatching the photos from the walls, the table and quickly packed them in an expanding file sitting on the floor beside the table.
There was one picture on the desk, beside his computer. It was framed and lying down, almost as though hiding the child in the photo's eyes from the horrific pictures that had been displayed. She set it back up and then stepped into his bedroom.
There were pictures there too, only a few, spread out on his bed. She grabbed them up as well and looked around. There weren’t any more, at least not that she could see. The water cut off and before she could move, the door opened and he stepped into his bedroom with only a towel around his waist.
“Uh, hi.” He stopped, surprised to find her there.
She couldn’t stop her glance at his body, but she immediately turned away. She shut the bedroom door behind her and realized her hands were shaking.
This was not like her. Okay, she would have helped the two of them in the ER. Even off duty, that was her job. But going home with two strange men. Being FBI agents didn’t make that safe . . . and then spending the night? No one even knew where she was. Had she lost her mind? The thing was, she still wasn’t in any hurry to be away from him.
The door to the bedroom opened and he emerged, dressed in jeans and a gray t-shirt. He stopped and looked around. “You didn’t have to . . . thank you.”
“I had no idea.”
“Yeah, very few people do,” Mulder agreed.
“I can’t leave you here.”
“You’ve already done more than anyone else in the world could or would do. I owe - “
“No. I need to get home and change. I want you to come with me. Give yourself more time.”
“Are you serious? You want me to come home with you?”
“Uh,” she realized what she’d said. “Yes. I do.” She looked directly in the eye, “Come on. Let’s get out of here.”
“Scully, I . . . are you sure?”
“Yes. We can get some lunch. Just let me get a quick shower and change. We can eat at my place or go out.”
“I’m not sure what to say. I could, I could get addicted to you, Scully.”
“I doubt that. Come on.” She held out her hand.
He took it, squeezing her fingers lightly. “What don’t I follow you? Then when you throw me out, I’ll have my own car.”
“Yes.” He looked so serious.
“Okay, but I don’t plan to throw you out.”
He grabbed his keys off the table and followed her out, checking the door behind him.
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Mulder, Scully, the Lone Gunman and Skinner all belong to Chris Carter, 10-13 and Fox. No infringement intended.