They fell into a routine. Heíd never eaten better in his life and even Scully had finally gained a little weight. It was on his third night that she insisted on attempting the stairs on her own. He had hold of her arm, which she semi-grudgingly allowed.
"Are you doing okay?"
"Iím fine Mulder." She felt him stiffen beside her and turned to look at him. "What? What did I say? Mulder?"
"Nothing. Itís okay."
"Tell me, please."
"Thatís a phrase that Iíve heard from you a lot. It usually meant Ďleave me aloneí or Ďthis is none of your businessí."
"Are you sure thatís what I meant?" She asked gently.
"Yeah, Iím sure. Youíre a very independent woman Scully, you donít appreciate my hovering over you."
"Why did you feel the need to hover?" He shook his head, he didnít want to get into this now Ė her abduction, her cancer, and oh god, Emily.
"Later." He managed to say and to his surprise she accepted that, nodding once and continuing down the stairs. He looked up to see Mrs. Scully at the foot of the stairs watching them and smiling.
Scully smiled back at her. "See? I am getting better, I told you."
"It canít happen too soon for me."
"Wanting to throw me out?"
"Not exactly, though I do want it to be an option."
Scully looked over at Mulder, "How wanted can you be?" He didnít respond. This wasnít the way his family had interacted and having her thrown out of here might cut down on the amount of time he'd get to see her. "Youíd take me in, wouldnít you?"
He nearly fell down the rest of the steps himself. She actually had to catch him when he missed the next step.
"Well I guess that was a no." She grinned at him, a little pleased at his discomfort.
"That was a yes, Scully. Anytime, any place." He realized immediately that her mother was listening to everything they said and clammed up. Maggie had retreated from the area as soon as she saw that Dana had instinctively moved to protect him in spite of her own limitations. Besides, her smile could be easily misinterpreted.
A couple of evenings later while they were all relaxing in the living room over coffee, something Mulder had never done prior to this interlude in his life, Maggie put her cup down and turned to the two of them sitting on the sofa.
"Iíve missed my church group twice now and Iíd like to go tomorrow night. Why donít the two of you go somewhere to eat? You havenít been out of the house yet and I think itís time."
"Mom!" Good grief did the woman have nothing else to do but think up activities for she and Mulder?
"What, I think itís a wonderful idea? What do you think Fox?"
"Donít answer that." Scully turned back to her mother. "Mom, youíve already roped him into coming over here every night, you donít have to force him to take me out. Iím perfectly capable Ė"
"So why havenít you left the house Dana?"
Scully looked away; truly uncomfortable with the direction this conversation was taking.
"Scully, I think it would be fun." He quietly responded.
"Sure, take her side." But she wouldnít look at him. "Does your mother go around fixing you up with women."
Mulder had to chuckle at that. "You really donít remember my mother, do you Scully? Besides, you really should get out of the house." He was close enough to see the look of fear flit across her face. "Scully?"
"What is it Dana?" Her mother leaned forward.
Scully sighed; no way these two would let it go. "What if I see someone Iím supposed to know and donít . . . "
"Fox will be there with you, Dana. Heíll help you." It was as though their hands found each other without conscious thought. She suppressed her smile; did they even notice that they were holding hands? "Well, think about it. I wonít be here tomorrow night and I think you could have a good time going somewhere." At that she stood and took the tray back into the kitchen.
"Do you not feel up to it Scully?" His thumb was making circles on the back of her hand. "I donít want to push you."
She took a deep breath. "Itís not that, I donít feel like going hiking yet, but . . . I think Iím scared and I hate that."
He was a little surprised that she would admit that, she seemed to trust him. Was that a good thing? Heíd never hurt her, not if it was humanly possible not to, but heíd caused so much pain for her.
Now she was squeezing his hand. "You look as scared as I feel. Do you think Iím not ready?"
"No! God, no. Youíre more ready than I am to handle just about anything. I was thinking about . . . something else."
She took a deep breath, "Letís do this Mulder. Please?"
As always she was the stronger of the two of them. He nodded. "Any place special you want to go?"
That stopped her, "Do I have a favorite?"
"Well, I usually drag you to some greasy spoon and force french fries down you. We could go some place nice for a change. I can pretty much guarantee we wonít run into anyone we know at a place like that."
She laughed and he was mesmerized. "I donít know what to wear."
"The blue dress with the cummerbund. It makes your eyes even bluer." He spoke promptly, then realized what heíd given away and his face took on more color.
"Is it here?"
"Iíll bring it by in the morning on my way to work."
"Do you want my key?"
"I have my own." She looked startled at that. He had a key, he knew her wardrobe, but he assured her they hadnít been lovers. Okay, if she didnít remember why soon sheíd have to confront him.
He arrived the next night just as Maggie was leaving. She commanded them to have a good time and sheíd see him tomorrow and was gone. He finally got a chance to appreciate how Scully looked. She had lost a little weight but she looked beautiful in the dress.
"Mulder, I have to ask, is this the lowest cut dress I own?"
He grinned, "Yep."
"I thought so." She shook her head but smiled at him. "Ready?"
"I made reservations downtown, I hope you like it."
"May I take your drink order?" The waiter leaned just a little too close in for Mulderís taste.
"Ice tea please."
"Two ice teas." The waiter nodded and left.
"Mulder, I canít drink because of the medication, but if youíd like wine or a beer, I donít mind."
"I donít drink much Scully." At her look he continued, "My father enjoyed his drinks just a little too much. I donít want that."
She nodded, "You donít talk much about your family."
"Mine wasnít like yours. Thereís not much to talk about."
"Are your parents still alive?"
He was startled by the question. "Sometimes I forget that . . . My fatherís dead, my mother had a stroke a couple of years ago, but she recovered." He stopped there and she could feel his discomfort at the topic. Since she wasnít sure why it bothered him, she dropped it for later. She wanted to enjoy tonight.
The food was wonderful and while the service was a little too conscientious in his opinion, it was still an idyllic evening.
"Mulder, Iíve been meaning to ask and I keep putting it off,
but . . . "
"Ask me anything Scully."
"Youíve spent so much time with me, first in the hospital and now every night, is there some woman out there whoís going to come after me?"
"Are you asking if Iím seeing anyone?" She nodded. "No, no thereís no one else in the picture."
"Promise me if someone comes into the picture youíll tell me and take the time you need for yourself."
"Iím where I want to be Scully. Donít worry about it." She looked in his eyes and saw the truth, so she dropped it.
"How are you Scully?" An obvious change in subject. "Are you getting tired?"
"Actually I feel energized. This is a lot better than Iíd hoped. Do you have any plans?"
"I mean, do you have to take me home now?"
"Of course not. What would you like to do?"
"See your apartment."
"My . . . my apartment? Not yours?"
"Youíre the person Iím trying desperately to remember. Maybe seeing your place will trigger something. Unless . . . if you donít want me Ė "
"No, thatís not it. Iím trying to remember the last time I put clothes in the laundry basket instead of on the floor."
She laughed lightly and he drank it in. "Is that an unusual occurrence?"
"No." He admitted sheepishly.
"Then thatís the way I need to see it, looking normal. I have been there before, havenít I?"
"Oh yeah. You have a key to my place too."
"Itíd be even cozier if youíd pick up my dirty clothes sometime."
"Dream on Mulder."
"I was afraid of that. You ready?" At her nod he rose and held her chair. This had felt damn close to a date tonight, but he wasnít going to dwell on it.
He opened the door and bowed her in. She grinned and shook her head at him. Just inside the door she paused, no, as far as she knew sheíd never been here. He was watching her closely and she turned to give him a sad smile. It would be okay.
She ventured on into the living room and picked up a video that was lying on the table before he could get in front of her. Scully glanced at the title and looked up at him. "Itís not mine, someone must have left it here."
"Right." She responded dryly and walked to his TV. There she opened the cabinet underneath and saw more of the collection. She turned back to him, her eyebrow high.
Rather than comment he turned away. "Would you like some coffee?"
"Uh, sure." She let him off the hook and saw the deep breath he took. She turned to look around the room. Leather couch, coffee table, TV and VCR, fish tank but she didnít see any fish in it, and the computer.
It was almost Spartan, like he didnít spend much time here, or what he did wasnít all that happy. A rush of compassion came over her and she felt less guilty about the amount of time he was spending at her motherís. She walked to the computer and saw a photograph of a little girl. She resembled him. Scully picked up the picture and was looking at it when he returned.
"Mulder, do you have children?" She looked up at him.
The comment stopped him in his tracks. She turned the frame so that he could see what she had.
"Thatís Samantha." At her blank look he continued, "My sister."
"How old is she Mulder?"
"She would be a year younger than you."
"Would be?" She saw the look of pain on his face. "Mulder, Iím sorry. I didnít . . ."
He shook his head and took the picture from her, placing it back on the desk. "Sheís the reason . . . nevermind. Your coffeeís ready."
"Mulder? Iím sorry." She moved closer to him, what would have been within his arms if he would only make the move. Sheíd touched some deep pain. Her hand went to his face automatically, pulling him closer to her and without making a conscious decision brought his lips down to hers.
For the briefest moment their lips mated, then he jerked back away from her. "No. No, Scully. We canít."
She was breathing deeply; he couldnít stop himself from glancing down at her breasts. Hell, heíd chosen the damn dress. He closed his eyes and stepped away from her.
What had she opened up here? Why wouldnít anyone tell her about her relationship with this man? Other than knowing that somehow he was her best friend, and that they had apparently worked together for years nobody considered her Ďstrong enoughí to handle the knowledge.
Well she was strong enough! "No. Mulder, I want to know whatís going on. I want you to tell me what everyoneís afraid for me to remember."
"Scully, I Ė "
"Tell me or Iíll find someone who will. Iím tired of being treated like an invalid or a freak. I canít recall six years of my life! I can feel how important you are to me, but I canít remember it. Nothing makes any sense. Who Ďtookí me? Why was this done to me? What, you think I canít hear as well as remember? Talk to me Mulder."
"Now isnít a good time."
"When is a good time! Damn it Mulder. Forget it, just forget it." She turned and headed for the door.
"Scully." He took hold of her arm, stopping her.
"Let go of me."
"Iíll take you home." He sounded defeated but she pushed that aside.
"I havenít forgotten the way to my motherís house."
"Youíre not leaving alone."
"Watch me Mulder." She was too angry now to be near him.
"Scully." He was clearly begging.
The look in her eyes gave no quarter. She shook his arm off and continued to the door. "I think you should make other plans for dinner for a while Mulder." And she was out the door.
"Mrs. Scully Ė "
"Not Maggie?" There was a lilt in her voice this morning he didnít understand.
"I want to apologize about last night."
"Well, I appreciate that Fox, but youíre both adults Ė "
"May I speak to her?" He had to hear her voice, surely sheíd calmed down by now.
"She was upset and I need her to know Ė "
"Fox, she never came home last night. I assumed she had stayed with you."
"What?" It was more breath than word.
"Have they taken her again? Fox?"
"Iíll be right there." The phone went dead in her ear and she sank into the nearest chair. Now what?
When the phone rang it was still in her hand and she nearly dropped it. "Dana?"
"Mom, its Bill. Danaís here. She flew in and sheís dead on her feet. She had no luggage or even enough money for the cab out here. Whatís going on?"
"I donít know. Let me speak to her."
"Sheís asleep. Did her memory come back? Is that why she ran?" His tone was moderating into hostile.
"I donít know Bill. Iíll be there as soon as I can."
"Take your time Mom. Iíll keep an eye on her. Try not to worry." After quick good-byes Maggie tried Mulderís phone. When there was no answer she hurried upstairs to pack a bag for herself and Dana.
In an amazingly short amount of time Mulder was at her door. She hurried down and flung the door open for him. He looked terrible Ė as though heíd aged ten years overnight.
"Sheís safe Fox. Sheís in California. Bill just called." She put her arms around him, not sure if sheíd have to support him physically, "Come on in here." She led him to the living room and he sank into his regular seat.
"Fox, what happened last night?" She didnít sound accusing and her hand was lightly rubbing his shoulder.
"She . . . she wanted to know things I wasnít ready to tell her. She accused me of treating her like an invalid, like she wasnít strong enough to hear . . . Mrs. Scully, Iím the one thatís not strong enough to relive it." He looked into this wise womanís compassionate eyes. "Isnít she better off not knowing?"
"Fox, these things made her strong, made her the woman you love." He looked up startled and saw the smile in her eyes. "If nothing else, she has to remember Emily. It will be painful, but sheís incomplete without it."
"Sheís with Bill?" Maggie nodded. "She said if I wouldnít tell her, sheíd find someone who would."
"Do you want her to only hear this from Billís point of view?"
"No! I mean Ė " He stopped, the man was her son.
"I know what you mean. I think we should get out there."
"Iíll go." She started to protest but stopped herself. These two needed to work things out, they didnít need her and Dana was okay, physically.
Finally she nodded. "Call me when you get there. Let me know how she is, really."
"Promise. I better get going."
If he believed in such things heíd say the gods were conspiring against him. He had taken the first available flight out of DC, but after a four-hour delay in Chicago he was ready to hijack a plane himself. Heíd been in contact with Maggie, but not Scully or Bill. Why warn them and have her go into hiding? But he cringed at what Bill must be telling her.
When he finally arrived Tara opened the door, but before he could speak Bill had yanked the door open and motioned for Tara to leave. "What the hell are you doing here?"
"I need to see Scully. I need to make sure sheís okay."
"A little late for that, donít you think?" He didnít try to hide his contempt.
"Just let me talk to her."
"She doesnít want to have anything to do with you." Bill started to close the door, but Mulder held it open, moving to stop him. "You want me to call the police?"
"Just ask her if sheíll see me. Please."
"Bill." Scully was at the top of the stairs.
"You donít have to do this Dana."
But she wasnít listening to him anymore. She was looking at Mulder. He looked . . . anguished. Sheíd never used that description for anyone, that she could remember she amended, but it was the only word that fit.
He was drinking in the sight of her, believing for the first time that she was truly alive and well. "Scully please."
She nodded, "Bill." He made a disgusted sound but left the room.
"Come on in Mulder."
"Iím not welcome here Scully. Could we go somewhere?"
She gestured to the robe she was wearing. It was obviously Taraís and too big for her.
"Oh, I have a bag for you. Your mom sent it."
"Sheís not with you?"
"No, but sheíll come if you need her."
"She thought Iíd only need you?" He didnít look away, looking her straight in the eye. She was the one that finally broke the contact.
"Iíll get your things." When he returned to the door she motioned for him to enter. "I think it would be better to wait in the car."
She hesitated, then agreed and turned from him. He almost turned her back, but managed to stop himself. He retreated to the car and sat with his hands crossed on the steering wheel and his head bowed upon them. He sensed her near and looked up. He reached for the door handle but she waved him to stop and let herself in.
He drove to a small hotel near the base and she finally broke the silence. "You staying here?"
"I am now. Iíll be right back."
He let her into the room and sat on the bed looking up at her, giving her the position of power. After a moment she spoke. "Why couldnít you tell me?"
"Are you better off knowing?" In spite of Mrs. Scully, he wasnít sure how to handle this.
"Itís who I am. Tell me about . . . about Emily." Her voice quavered over the name. "Was she really mine?"
He nodded, "Biologically she was. You didnít carry her; there was a surrogate. You werenít aware of her until a couple of weeks before her death."
"Was she yours?" He looked startled at that, then shook his head. "Will you take me to her grave?"
"Sheís not there Scully. Bill and your mom donít know . . . they stole her body. They couldnít leave us that kind of evidence. We donít know where . . . "
It was the final straw. He saw it in her eyes as she crumbled. She felt his arms around her as the blackness pulled her under.
She became aware of a cool cloth against her face. "Scully? Can you hear me?" She opened her eyes and saw him gazing down at her.
"Are you in love with me?" For some reason the question didnít even surprise him, the whole thing seemed to be inevitable.
"Yes I am."
"Are you sure?"
"Are you sure itís love and not pity?" She sounded so matter of fact.
"Pity? Wha Ė "
"I mean, I have cancer that could reoccur at anytime, no one knows for sure what was done to me when I was taken and Iím barren. It seems more likely that youíd grow to pity me, not to love me."
"Itís love Scully."
"How can you be sure?"
"Because I fell in love with you before any of that happened."
He sat beside her on the bed. "It was one of our first cases, a serial killer named Eugene Victor Tooms. The case was brought to our attention by an agent that was attracted to you. I thought it bugged me so much because we were becoming good partners, you listened to me even when you didnít believe. I was acting damn territorial and you called me on it. Then I found evidence that Tooms had chosen you for his next victim. I thought Iíd die trying to get to you, heíd screwed with your phone, and I couldnít reach you to warn you. Thatís the first time I broke down your door." There was a slight smile on his face at that.
"Six years ago?"
"And you never said anything?"
"I told you, I donít aspire that high." He said it lightly but she saw the pain in his eyes.
"Iím beginning to understand what happened to me, but now I need to know what happened to you. What caused you to be you? It started with your sister, didnít it?" She was unprepared for the moisture that pooled in his eyes.
She sat up then and pulled him into her arms. He tried to pull away but she tightened her grip. "Scully." And then he was crying.
She pulled him down beside her and held him. He seemed as lost as she was. But he was in love with her and she didnít feel real unless he was with her.
He woke with her in his arms. They were both fully clothed, nothing had happened between them. No, that wasnít true, nothing physical had happened between them. But they were together like never before. Heíd take her to see Dr. Neaman. Heíd help her recover her memories, as horrible as some of them might be. And sheíd remember him.