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 a 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.
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 with 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 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.
He pulled into a space three cars down from her. She waited on the sidewalk and he followed her in, his hand on the small of her back.
Scully let him in, and he stood near the door taking it all in as she shut and locked the door behind them. To the right, under the window was a desk, with a computer, around the corner was a bookshelf, then a door leading to what must be the hall and bedroom. On the other side of the door was her entertainment center with her TV and stereo.
The large opening led to the kitchen and he could see her table and chairs. There were flowers on the table.
Scully tossed her bag into the easy chair at the end of the couch and motioned for him to take a seat on her striped couch.
It was strange, they had basically the same things, same furnishings, but her apartment felt warm, inviting. His was more a place to sleep and maybe escape to for privacy. Hell, her couch was coordinated with her chair. And, of course, there had never been pictures like she'd found at his place.
"Make yourself at home, Mulder. I'll take a quick shower and be right back." She handed him the TV remote and he grinned.
He watched her duck into her bedroom, then take some things with her into the bathroom. When he heard the shower cut on, he flipped on the TV and surfed through some channels.
CNN was running an update on the Glenwood case, so he thumbed off the TV, rather than stumble on anything dealing with him again. Mulder rose and wandered into the kitchen. He found a pitcher of iced tea in the refrigerator. Glasses were in the cabinet to the left. He smiled at the orderliness of her cabinets, the fact that her glasses matched.
With the tea in his hand, he wandered around the apartment, looking at her books and CDs. He stopped at her desk and picked up the large framed picture.
He was still holding it, gazing into the distance when she returned.
"That's all of us," she remarked. He jumped slightly, coming to the present rapidly. "Sorry, didn't mean to startle you."
"S'okay. Hope you don't mind."
She took the picture, smiling. "No, this is the Scully clan. William and Maggie. That's my older brother, Bill and his wife, Tara. My sister, Melissa." She pointed. "And that's my little brother, Charlie and his wife, Mary. The two little boys are theirs, Will and Sam. This is at least a year old, Sam's walking now."
"Melissa is older than you."
"Yes, almost three years." Scully finger combed her hair.
He grinned then. "You didn't straighten it."
"I should have. It's out of control."
"Let me." He took the comb from her hand and sat on the couch. He tugged her down to sit in the V of his legs. He gently and carefully began detangling her red curls.
"You have a nice touch," she commented. They were silent for a few minutes, then she half turned. "I saw a picture on your desk, a framed one," she stressed. "She resembled you. Is she your daughter?"
He faltered, "Uh no, my sister."
"It's an old picture. Her, her last school picture."
Scully turned then, "I'm sorry. How did she die?"
"We . . . we don't know. She was taken. We never found her."
Scully's eyes widened, the horrible pictures she'd seen in her apartment back in her mind. "Oh, Mulder." Her hand touched his shoulder.
"It was a long time ago."
"It doesn't look like it. How old were you?"
"Twelve, she was eight."
Scully winced, the same age as the victims in the photos.
"I was babysitting."
"You were there?"
He nodded, "I woke up in the hospital a couple of days later."
"Mulder." She moved, taking him in her arms.
His arms went around her as well. When they broke for air, they were reclined on her couch. "Scully?"
"Bedroom," she whispered in his ear.
He didn't wait for a second invitation. He had her in his arms, as her legs went around his waist, moving toward her room.
He wanted to take it slow, savor her, but he wanted her; hell he needed her and she seemed just as eager. He wasn't sure when he lost his shirt, but her hands were at his waistband, one of his hands was buried in her hair, while the other gently caressed her breast.
Her impression this morning had been accurate, but she'd been unaware of how talented his hands were. Now he was playing her like a baby grand.
She was hot and wet. Wet for him. He felt her nails in his back, her warm breath in his ear, urging him on - as if he wanted to stop.
His fingers brought her to the edge, and as he watched, her eyes widened in ecstasy. She was coming in his arms. Just seeing her like that was almost enough to push him over the edge. He held her body, seemingly boneless, against him for several long moments.
God, he wanted to be inside her, needed to be inside of her. Then she had hold of him, in total control, cupping his balls with one hand as the other squeezed his cock, guiding him to her.
"Mulder," she breathed into his mouth as she impaled herself.
Oh god, tight, hot, wet, so wet. Her muscles gripped him and he groaned. Mulder didn't move, fearing he would disgrace himself. He forced control, then slowly pulled almost out. He thrust and she smiled, closing her eyes and letting her fingers press into his hips.
He thrust again and again. The feeling that he was home, finally, came to him.
He was close and he wanted her with him. He angled her hips and thrust again. He saw her eyes widen, then she was coming. The sensations pushed him over the edge and he poured his essence into her.
He held her as she relaxed into sleep, then tucking her close to him, he succumbed as well.
watching her when she woke. She met his eyes, and he started to speak, then
"Scully, I . . . "
She saw the uncertainly, the fear on his face. She leaned up and kissed his lower lip. "It was definitely consensual Mulder." She smiled at him and his eyes closed for an instant. He relaxed slightly then. She wasn't jumping out of the bed or calling 911 to have him arrested.
"I didn't mean to fall asleep, Mulder, but I had been up a long time."
"Don't apologize. I loved holding you. I just . . . "
"Yeah." She looked down at the two of them intimately intertwined on her bed. "We are moving awfully fast. But in case you're wondering, I have no regrets and I'm certainly not kicking you out."
He released a held breath. "That's good to hear."
"It's not a but, Scully, just a question."
"Go ahead and ask. I reserve the right not to answer."
"Fair enough. It's . . . there's no one here waiting for you. That makes no sense. Don't get me wrong, I'm thrilled, but shocked. You're a beautiful woman, intelligent, sensuous as hell. I just don't understand."
She nodded, "Thank you." She looked down at her hand, resting on his chest.
"You don't have to - "
"I know. The short answer is, there was someone. It's over."
"Am I rebound guy?" he asked, trying for a light tone, but not quite succeeding.
She looked up quickly, "No. Mulder, no. He was a, a mistake. There's no 'rebound' from him."
He watched her, not commenting, just waiting.
She sighed, "He was married."
"Mulder, I had never . . . " She shook her head.
"You don't owe me - "
"I feel like I do. I can only imagine what you're thinking of me." She shifted slightly away from him. "I sleep with you within hours of meeting you, I - "
He pulled her against him. "Shhh. You haven't asked me about my past. It's not all pretty, but if you want to know about me . . . "
"You don't think I'm a, a slut?" She gave him a wry smile, but he saw the unease in her eyes.
He gaped at her. "No. I was thinking more guardian angel. Want to tell me about it?"
She hesitated then. "We haven't eaten yet. Hungry?"
"I could eat." He smiled at her as she rose from the bed. She wasn't shy now about her body, and she let him watch her don her robe. He slid on his boxers and slacks and followed her into the kitchen.
She put together some lunch and they sat at her table. After they had eaten a few bites, he looked up at her. "You changed the subject. Do you want to tell me about him?"
"I haven't talked to anyone about him." He touched her hand, reassuring her. "He was my mentor. He wanted me to follow him into his practice. He's a cardiologist, internationally famous. He, he seemed sincere."
"He sounds like a shit to me," Mulder offered.
She actually chuckled. "Thanks. I, I guess I've always been attracted to strong, controlling men. A father thing no doubt."
"That was until you met the catatonic basket case, right?" He watched her.
"Right." She laughed then and leaned over to kiss him. "Maybe for a change someone needed me?"
"I do you know."
"Why?" she asked quietly.
"You have to ask?" His eyes roved her face.
"Why me? I still don't understand why you reached for me."
He smiled at
the memory. "You were . . . incandescent."
"I could see you, Scully. I knew, on some level, there were other people there, but I didn't see them. Hell, I couldn't see the floor. I think I knew that Skinner was there, but he had no more substance than a shadow. But you, you were lit from within, you were solid and, and I knew that you could save me."
"Mulder, I - " She was shaking her head slightly.
"You already have. My mind wanted to come back to a world that had you living in it."
She gazed at him, tears coming to her eyes.
He brushed one away. "I really know how to show a girl a good time on a first date, don't I?"
"Is that what this is? A first date?"
He grinned sheepishly. "I hope so. The next time I sink into hell, maybe you'll throw me a line again."
Her look of immediate concern warmed him. "Mulder, you don't have to do this. Surely you could - "
"I don't want to leave the Bureau, Scully. I need the access."
"Access to what?"
"I told you about my sister."
"Yes, I . .. You're still looking for her? Mulder, it's been so long. Do you really think there's anything new you could still learn?"
"There has to be," he stated simply, "and I have to find it."
She hesitated a moment. "Do you think someone like Greenwood . . . "
"No. That's not what happened to her."
"You know that? Did you see something?"
He nodded. "My mind blocked it out for years, but it started coming back when I was at school. I'm a psychologist, Ph.D. and all, if you can believe that."
"I can," she said simply.
He blinked, "Well, in the counseling I had to take, things started . . . surfacing. When I got back to the states, I saw a hypnotherapist for memory regression. Most of it's come back." He saw the question in her eyes before she spoke.
"Was he reputable?"
"Yeah, Scully. I checked him out. Dr. Weber's legit. I have the tapes, he didn't lead me."
"Can you talk about it?"
He gave her a sad smile. "Not if I want to see you again."
Her smile faded. "I'm not going anywhere."
He looked down at his hands, then slipped them off the table, distancing himself from her slightly.
"Mulder, you can trust me."
"It's not that, Scully. I already do. I'm just realizing how much I'm going to miss you."
"Mulder, stop. Tell me. I think I need to know. I'm here and you're here. I don't know why our connection is so strong, but it is. Please."
His eyes seemed to hold centuries worth of sadness. She couldn't stop herself, pulling his face to hers and kissing him again. "Come on, Mulder. Let's get comfortable." She rose and tugged him to his feet. She turned to her refrigerator and pulled out half a bottle of red wine.
"It's a little early," she conceded, "but we need to relax."
He nodded, unspeaking and followed her into the living room, carrying the two glasses. She sat on the couch, motioning for him to take the corner as she put the bottle on the coffee table.
She poured them each a glass, and handed him his, then relaxed back, letting her arm brush against his.
"Did you say 'got back to the states'?" She was giving him time, space, and he took it eagerly.
"I went to school in England, Oxford."
"Oxford? You have a Ph.D. from Oxford?"
"It's not that impressive."
"Yes it is. And expensive too, unless . . . fellowship?"
He nodded, blushing slightly.
He shrugged. "Try to remember I impressed you at one point."
"You've impressed me at several."
He looked up startled and relaxed slightly at her smile. "Thanks."
She took a sip of her wine and leaned against him, his arm automatically going around her, cuddling her close. They sat in silence for a few minutes, letting the wine seep into their systems.
After a long
quiet moment, she spoke without turning to look at him. "Mulder, please, talk
She felt the deep breath he took. "She was abducted by aliens, Scully."
She sat there, waiting. When no more words came, she turned to look up at him. She saw the quirk on his lips, and that it didn't reach his eyes.
"It was really nice meeting you, Dr. Scully."
"You're not leaving and neither am I. Mulder, why do you - "
"As soon as I got to the Bureau, I started looking for her file. It wasn't with missing persons, it wasn't with abducted children. It was in the basement, with the UFO files, the 'trash' as it were."
"If you - "
"Scully, I never told them about the regression. I didn't remember until I was grown. I didn't tell them anything. I couldn't. I didn't wake up for three days. There was no one else there. No one else human."
"Mulder, tell me what you remember."
He sighed, "We were watching TV and playing a game. Mom and Dad were next door. The power went off. I don't mean one room, the whole house went dark. Then there was light, light so bright it was painful. Scully, it came in every window, the cracks around the door, all at the same time. It was everywhere around the house, surrounding it, like it came from above. Then Samantha screamed. I looked over at her and . . . and she was floating, on her back away from me. I ran to get Dad's gun. It was locked in a box, but I broke it open. The police said I must have frozen, that I didn't fire it, because it was still fully loaded.
"They were wrong. I pulled the trigger; I pulled it over and over. It just didn't fire. She kept screaming my name, crying for me to help her and I . . . I couldn't. I couldn't move. Then everything started to shake, like an earthquake. Pictures fell off the walls, books off the shelves. There aren't many earthquakes on Martha's Vineyard, Scully."
"What about next door? Was the power off there, the shaking? I know your parents must have rushed - "
"No. Nothing happened next door. They didn't know anything had happened until they came home and found the place like that. Me unconscious and Samantha gone."
"But that doesn't prove - "
"No, I guess it doesn't. And there was no one to confirm the being that I saw in the door. I couldn't tell you it was male or female. It was taller than me, with a large head and huge black eyes. It was thin, too thin . . ." He looked away from her eyes then. "I started investigating it when I got my memories. I've talked to hundreds of people that have had this experience. Most abductees are returned, Scully, in hours, days. Not kept forever like Samantha. They wake up in a strange place, with no clear memory. Usually they're sore, from the tests and have strangely shaped bruises. Tests have been run on them, they're anemic, suffering from weightless sickness.
"The majority are taken from rural areas. I guess it's easier to pick off a camper or someone in a house away from others. It's not 100%, but you don't find that many people taken from a third floor apartment in a city."
He nodded. "People are away from home. It's assumed a lot of people are just on a drunk. They wake up as though from a bender. The problem is, with the kids, they don't drink." He tried to smile, then realized she was quiet, pale.
"Scully?" He moved slightly back from her, "You know I'm crazy now, right?"
"You said strangely shaped bruises."
"Yeah." He picked up a pen from her table and sketched a few examples on the back of a magazine. He saw her eyes grow wide.
"What, what causes this?"
He shook his head, "Some instrument they use. I don't, I don't know. What's wrong? Scully?"
"But something else could cause this kind of bruise, right? I mean, it might be . . ." Her finger traced one of the shapes he had drawn.
"Scully, what's wrong?"
She was quiet now, her finger tracing and retracing the outline of one of the shapes he had drawn. He wasn't surprised; he'd known telling her this was a death-knell. After a little time, he took a deep breath.
"I guess I should go." He rose from the couch.
"There could be another explanation." There was a desperate quality to her voice he didn't understand.
He stopped, standing over her, watching her. "Yes, but sometimes there isn't. There's nothing. That's when the Bureau tosses the case into the 'unsolved' pile and they're forgotten, like Samantha."
She didn't look up at him, her finger still moving around the drawing. He stood watching her, puzzled. Then he blinked, "You've seen that."
She glanced up and immediately away.
"Of course," he breathed, "You work in an ER. You've seen a bruise like that on one of your patients."
"No. No I haven't."
He didn't respond, but for the first time he felt that she was lying to him, that she wanted him gone. "Yeah, well, thank you Scully, for . . . for saving me."
She didn't respond, so after a long moment, he turned and walked to the door.
"Mulder." He hesitated, not quite to the door. "It was me."
He blinked, "what?"
"The bruise, it was on me."
He was already moving back to her side. "Scully, talk to me."
She still couldn't look away from the shape. "It was a long time ago."
Mulder resumed his seat beside her, then took her head, moving it away from the picture. "How long ago?"
"1972, October." He jerked toward her.
At the quaver in his voice, she looked up, meeting his eyes.
"What happened, Scully?"
"We, we were camping. The whole family. Then I was gone. They found me a little over 24 hours later. I'd been playing with Charlie, my little brother."
"Were you . . . hurt?"
She shook her head, "I wasn't molested. They gave me an iron shot and, and I was nauseated for a few days."
He closed his eyes for an instant. "How old . . . "
"I was seven, Charlie was five."
"What did he tell them?"
"That a light took me," she said in a low voice.
"They didn't believe him."
She shook her head, "He was just a kid." They were both quiet then.
After a few beats, he sat beside her again. "Did you see this light?"
She nodded, "It was the brightest . . . Mulder, there are no aliens. The time it would take to cover the distance - " She had just heard his story of what had happened to his sister. He had trusted her enough to tell her, even though he knew she would think he was crazy. He believed. He was so sure. She couldn't just shut him down.
Finally she spoke. "Mulder, do you believe I was abducted by aliens?"
"I don't know." He answered honestly. "You weren't injured?"
"No, but I was miles away, much too far to have walked. The thing is, I wasn't dirty or hungry and no one had hurt me. That upset the police. They wanted to accuse me of running away with someone. They didn't believe that Charlie and I didn't remember anything."
"What did your parents say?"
"They hustled us home and it was never mentioned again. It's the only time I remember Dad hitting Bill. He was complaining about the trip being cut short. Nothing else was ever said. I haven't thought of it in years."
Again she fell silent.
"Scully, if this is too difficult - "
"Do you have any proof?"
"Hard evidence? Not much. That's difficult to come by, and I'm working against the government. They don't exactly want the information exposed."
"What, what would be hard evidence?" she asked.
"Scully, don't. Let's change the subject. You're upset, I never wanted that." He pulled her against him, massaging her back lightly, then on up to her neck. One finger lightly rubbed the base of her neck, seeking and find a tiny scar. He closed his eyes and tucked her up against him.
"Mulder, I need to know "
"Not tonight," he interrupted. "There's probably no way to ever know what happened to you. It never happened again, right?"
"Then it's not something you need to worry about. I'm sorry I ever mentioned any of this."
"No, Mulder, don't. You shared something very personal with me. You trusted me." Her eyes held him and after a moment he nodded.
The sounds woke him. This time he recognized her bedroom. The sounds were coming from her, whimpers and cries. She was lying stiff, as though bound.
"Scully? Scully, wake up."
"Don't, don't hurt me." Her voice was high, frightened, and she sounded young, much younger than her age.
"Scully, come on. I'm here, it's okay." Mulder pulled her close to him and she startled awake.
"Mu-Mulder?" Then she was clutching him, shaking.
"It's okay. I've got you."
"Please." Her voice was shaking, then she buried her face in his chest and tried to pull him even closer. He stroked her back and she arched into him.
"Please." Her hand slipped into his pajama bottoms.
He thrust involuntarily into her hand. He already knew how good they were together, but was she awake? He didn't want to take advantage. They'd been on the same page both times they'd come together before.
"Love me, Mulder." She tugged at her own t-shirt and he helped her. He murmured loving words to her as she pulled at his pajamas. His body was already responding to her assaults.
She passed out, lying atop him and he held her gently until he fell asleep himself.
He woke to find her watching him. He reached over and pulled her to him. "Thank you." She spoke into his chest.
He tilted her head up toward him, "You're welcome. What did I do?"
"You held me."
"That was my pleasure." She shuddered lightly. "What?"
"The dream. I haven't had it in years."
"The one that woke you last night?" He hugged her against him. She nodded but didn't speak. "What is the dream?"
She pressed up against him, shaking her head.
"You've had it before?"
She nodded then, "So many times. I'd, I'd forgotten."
He pulled the quilt up over them, tucking it in around her back. "You're safe here. Talk to me. When did they start?"
"Right after you went missing."
"Did you have it often?" He kissed her forehead, then her eyelids.
"Every night for weeks. I couldn't get through the night. I'd wake up screaming. Dad would be there, then after he shipped out, Mom came to me. Bill and Missy got tired of it, angry."
His eyes closed and he kissed her head. "How long did they last?"
"Y-years. But less often. I'd forgotten about them. I haven't had one since I went to college, probably only one or two in high school."
"I'm sorry, Scully."
She looked up into his sad eyes. "You were here. I don't know what I would have done alone."
"No, not . . . I'm the reason it came back. If I hadn't brought up - "
Her lips cut off his words.
"What is the dream, Scully?"
She wouldn't look up, couldn't meet his eyes. After a moment, she shook her head.
"You should talk about it. Get it out. Have you ever told anyone the dream?"
"I can't," she whispered.
"You can. You need to." She glanced at him then away. "Come on, Scully. I have to use the psych degree on someone. It doesn't work on me." He tipped her head up to see him.
"I've never . . . "
"Never? Not your parents?"
"I told them I didn't remember." She looked at him, defiantly it seemed for an instant. "It was true at first."
"But not anymore."
She shook her head and looked down.
"It will be lighter if you let me carry half." He saw tears in her eyes. He cuddled her against him.
"Nothing, nothing happens. I have no idea why I'm so terrified."
"Talk to me, Scully."
She took a deep breath and her grip on his hand tightened. "I'm lying down, but I can't move anything except my eyes. I can't feel any straps but I'm being held in place. I'm not alone. I don't see anyone, but I know they're there. It's . . . it's like I'm being . . . examined." She shuddered again.
"How old are you, in the dream?"
"Seven." She looked up at him again. "It's a memory, isn't it?"
"I don't know." He gently massaged her back. "It's over. You're here, you're safe."
She was relaxed again, resting her head on his chest with his arms protectively around her. She looked up and met his eyes. "How long have we known each other?"
He looked over at the clock, chuckling. "We're closing in on forty-six hours."
She shook her head, smiling. "This is insane."
"I've been called worse."
She sighed, "I need to get ready to go to work."
"Could I talk you into playing hooky?" He asked, his eyes twinkling.
"Sorry, I don't have that kind of job, Mulder. And it's almost impossible to get coverage this late."
His lower lip jutted out in an exaggerated pout. She laughed and placed a quick kiss on his nose. She turned and left the bed. He caught her hand, pulling her back for one more kiss. He reluctantly let her go then and watched her leave the room. Why did he feel like a cloud had just blocked out the sun.
She loved her job and she was good at it, but it had taken an effort to stay on task. He had remained at her place when she left. She had suggested it and he had seemed pleased. His apartment still contained so much pain.
She jumped when Dr. Calenti touched her shoulder. "It's quiet now, Dana, but you know it's gonna pick up. Why don't you grab a few winks?"
He was right, she wasn't really tired but she'd learned to take rest when she could get it. She nodded and headed for the physician's quarters.
There was no one else there, so she took one of the beds and tried to relax. With years of practice, she was able to drift off relatively quickly. The problem was, the nightmare followed nearly as quickly.
She woke breathing heavily, sweat on her brow and pooling between her breasts. Not again. It had been so many years, but the terror was just as strong. She'd only slept again because Mulder had wrapped himself around her and kept away the demons. There was no use trying to sleep now.
Business had picked up, so no comment was made about her short nap and she got to work.
As her shift wound down, she found herself getting nervous. She didn't really have a 'relationship' with the man. She had a two-night stand. They'd shared some secrets, but was he going to want to see her again?
She was on edge when she left and the drive home did nothing to alleviate her doubts. What would it mean if he was gone? Nothing, really. They certainly had no commitment to each other.
Still the realization that the apartment was empty caused a despair she was honestly afraid to analyze. She had opened up to this man, in a way she never had before. How did she reconcile that? How big a fool was she? She looked through the apartment, there was no note. The bed had been made and the dishes washed and put away. There was no sign he had ever been here.
To her utter humiliation, she sank down on the couch and fought back tears.
"Hey, don't you know we live in a big, bad city. You shouldn't leave your door open like - Scully?" He hurried around the couch and set a bag on the coffee table as he took a seat beside her. "What's wrong?"
She shook her head, "Nothing, I . . . you weren't here. I'm . . . "
His eyes devoured her. "You were upset because I wasn't here?"
"No, I mean," she brushed a tear from her cheek, embarrassed. "I didn't mean to keep you prisoner. I guess I just . . . I don't understand us. I don't even know if there is an us."
"There is definitely an 'us', Scully. I'm sorry. I should have left a note, but I thought I'd be back before you got home."
"How were you going to get in?" she asked, trying for composure.
"Oh, uh, I found your spare, in the kitchen." He removed it from his pocket and held it out for her. "Sorry, I wasn't going to - "
"Keep it? You, you could."
A grin took over his face. He stuffed the key back in his pocket. "I'm not gonna wait for another invitation."
She gave him a shaky smile.
His grin slipped away. "I am sorry. I know we're new. I spent all day missing you. I wasn't sure what to do with that. I wanted to call and see if you could come home early or if you were missing me too. Shades of junior high."
"I did miss you. I . . ."
"What? Scully?" He took her hand.
She looked down at their hands entwined. "I had time for a little nap."
"The nightmare," he said softly.
She nodded, a little surprised that he knew what she was thinking.
"I should have thought of that." The look of guilt on his face confused her.
"Why would you?"
"I caused it to return. This is my fault."
"Your . . . no, Mulder. I mean, you reminded me of what happened, but you didn't cause anything. You held me through it last night, you made it better."
"And you held me when I was . . . " They just looked at each other then, until she leaned in and kissed him lightly on the lips.
"So we're even?"
"No, but I want to keep trying. I brought dinner." He motioned to the bag on the table.
"So this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship?"
"Friendship?" he asked with a worried grin.
"Well, maybe a really close, getting naked together, pulling each other out of our post-traumatic stress kind of friends?"
"You know, I really do want to get to know you, because so far . . ." he took her hand again, "you scare me."
"I what?" She gave a nervous laugh.
"You scare me." He shrugged slightly. "It's like, like I was meant to find you."
She wasn't smiling now, but she nodded.
"I . . . I think I need you," he said softly.
"Really?" his voice was quiet, serious.
She leaned in and her lips pressed against his. "Really." Her hand lightly caressed his face. "I need you too. I think you already know more about me than anyone and . . . and I think you've opened up to me as well."
She smiled then, "I don't know about being incandescent, and I'm still in shock that we've only known each other seventy-two hours," her cheeks colored beautifully. "But I want to learn more about you, I want to learn everything about you."
"Everything? I . . . just because you haven't run screaming from me yet - "
"And I have no plans to. I don't know what's going to happen, but I want you to help me remember and let me help you remember as well. Together . . . together maybe it won't feel so lonely."
He couldn't speak, but his hand caressed her face. He already knew how much he needed her, how much the loneliness had already receded. For the first time since he was a boy, he wanted someone to know about him. And he wanted to know everything about her. The future felt bright with her beside him.