Mulder followed more slowly. Shock was numbing him. The relief of her not being married, not having a man in her life . . . it was gone now. A fiancé? And one that he had mistaken for her father. He started the car and found himself driving back to the Gunmen’s apartment.
When Frohike got the door unlocked, Mulder stepped inside and hauled the short man up by his vest. “You didn’t know she was engaged?”
The other two men came running at his tone. “Mulder, what?” Byers was prying his hands from Frohike. “Calm down, what happened? Where’s Dana?”
Mulder stepped back, letting himself fall into a chair.
“Mulder, where is Dana? What happened?”
“She’s at her parent's. Her mother threw us out because we were upsetting her.”
“Us? Who else was there?”
Mulder’s eyes narrowed, “Her fiancé, Daniel Waterston.”
“We, we didn’t know . . . “ Langly’s voice trailed off. Mulder wasn’t listening anyway.
“Waterston?” Frohike was already seating himself in front of the computer.
“Yeah, Dr. Daniel Waterston. I don’t know what kind of doctor.”
“You want a drink Mulder?” Byers asked quietly.
Mulder shook his head and after a last look, the other men turned away to try to find the information he wanted, and to give him some time.
He sat in silence, unable to focus. The blow had been too swift, too unexpected. If he’d been told she was married when they had arrived yesterday, he would have been prepared, okay not prepared, but he would have had to accept it. He’d been lulled into a state of . . .
He jerked back to the present, “Yeah?”
“Did you say Daniel?”
“This makes no sense. There is a Daniel Waterston on staff at Georgetown. He’s a cardiologist, but Mulder, he’s older than me.” Frohike spoke.
“That’s him.” All three men turned to look at him then. “I called him Mr. Scully when he came in the house.”
“Why would a hot young thing like that be engaged to an old man like him?” Frohike spoke out loud, but the glare Mulder shot him shut him up quickly.
“You said she had a residency in cardiology.”
“Yes, before she chose pathology. Teacher?” Byers speculated.
“Can you find out? I have to meet Diana.”
“Mulder, are you sure you’re okay?”
“Yeah. I’ll talk to you later. The publicity?”
“Taken care of. We’ll contact you.”
Mulder nodded and rose to his feet. He felt tired, incredibly tired.
He let himself into his apartment and sank onto the couch, not bothering to take off his jacket. He thought he’d been prepared for this. It was what he had tried to protect them both against on the trip here. But when she’d saved that man’s life, things had changed. They had both been struck by just how quickly life could change.
She had wanted him and oh god, he had wanted her. That was the problem. He should never have indulged himself in something he wanted. He knew better. If he wanted it, it was automatically destined not to happen. He didn’t date any longer; he had a purpose in life. Why had he allowed himself . . . why hadn’t he just stuck with Diana? No strings, no commitments. It had been enough, along with his work.
Now he had doubts about Diana and, and Red was engaged to be married to another man. A man that was totally wrong for her.
He blinked as he processed that thought. Wrong for her? Who was right? Him? Hardly.
Diana, he needed to call her. He reached for the phone and punched in her number. He needed to find out what was going on anyway. At least he could still protect Red. That hadn’t changed.
“It’s me. I’m home.”
“Uh, that’s great. Do you want me to come over?” Home? How had he eluded them this time?
“I’ll meet you at the diner.”
“What about - “ But he’d hung up. He didn’t sound right. Had Dana remembered something? She grabbed her coat and headed out.
He was already at the diner when she arrived. He wasn’t watching for her and that gave her the opportunity to observe him. Dana wasn’t with him. Was she in the restroom or back at his apartment? That would explain why he hadn’t wanted her to go over there. If that’s where Dana was, she could be picked up while Mulder was here.
He looked a million miles away.
He looked up then and she was struck by the look in his eyes. He rarely looked happy, she was aware there was a deep-seated sadness about the man. She’d used it to her advantage on more than one occasion, but now . . . now he looked devastated . . . almost broken.
He spotted her then and his expression changed, hiding his thoughts, though he didn’t look any happier. He motioned to her. She ordered a cup of coffee on the way to the table, then joined him. She spotted the beer. Now that was unusual, he rarely drank. He didn’t know she was aware of his father’s drinking problem.
Hell she knew so much more about the man than he was aware. They had briefed her so well in the beginning. It was a good thing, he certainly didn’t talk about himself to her, or anyone as far as she could tell. She had hoped to change that, but even sex - no matter how incredible - hadn’t made them really close.
Diana took a deep breath and sat opposite him in the booth. She needed to get down to business. She looked around one more time, “Where is she?”
“With her family.”
“What?” She couldn’t draw a breath. Oh god, her family? “You know, you found out who she is?” She gripped the edge of her seat to try to keep her composure. He couldn’t see her white knuckles below the edge of the table.
“Yeah, she’s Dr. Dana Scully, a pathologist here in DC.”
“How did you - “ Was he looking at her strangely?
“That doesn’t matter. We just have to make sure no one bothers her.”
“Why would someone want to bother her?” Diana asked. What the hell did he know?
“Because of how she was found, where she’s been. Have any of the others remembered who they were, what happened to them?”
She shook her head, “I can’t find out.”
“That’s why I don’t want her bothered. I don’t want anyone to know how she was found, even where she was found. The authorities never saw her; I want to keep it that way. The story to her family is that she was released by her captors and the case is under investigation.”
The tightness eased slightly - the damned little redhead didn’t remember. “That might work for her family, but - “
“And the press.”
“You called the press?” She paled slightly. Oh shit.
“Yes. Red understands. She’s not going to blow it, not if it means losing her freedom again.”
“Why did you decide - “
“The roadblocks on our route home.”
“What did those have to do with . . . “
“I’m not sure, it was just a feeling.” He wouldn’t meet her eyes. “She’s home with her family, her fiancé. I just want her left alone.”
“Fiancé? She’s engaged?”
He nodded and she found her breathing easier. That hadn’t been in the report she’d seen. Good, if she was engaged, she would be off-limits to this man. His honor wouldn’t allow different. That shouldn’t be what she was focusing on, but she couldn’t help herself.
At least there was no need to call anyone tonight. The woman was with her family and would be watched. The others had been unable to recall any of their captivity, hopefully the same would hold true of her. They could keep an eye on her from a discrete distance. As long as Mulder stayed away from her, no one would be trying to get to those memories. Maybe the woman would be ‘safe’ from authorities.
Hopefully she’d get married right away and play honeymoon for a very long time. Diana wanted to ask about the fiancé, but he was obviously in no mood to discuss it. ‘fiance’, it was stupid how much the information that Dana was taken had pleased her. He would turn to her for comfort. She’d offered it before and he’d taken her up on it. Now the earlier devastation made more sense, but it also cut deep into her. He’d only known the little bitch a few days. Yes, she could ease his pain.
“Fox, let’s get out of here. You need to relax. Come to my place, we can - “
Something about the look in his eye stopped her. He’d never looked at her like that before. She felt . . . dirty.
“Thanks, no. I’m really tired.” He didn’t sound tired, he sounded . . . no, she didn’t even want to analyze it right now.
He rose abruptly, “I’ll see you at the office tomorrow. I need to get some sleep if I’m going to sound convincing in the morning.” He tossed a couple of bills on the table and left without another word. She didn’t turn to watch him leave. The desire to crawl into a hole was too intense. God, what had happened between them?
Blevin’s secretary tapped on the door. “I’m sorry, Agent Mulder has a call. She says it’s urgent.”
Diana’s head came up, but Mulder said nothing, just rose from the table and picked up the extension on Blevin’s credenza.
“Mr. Mulder? It’s Maggie Scully.”
“Yes ma’am.” His whole body tensed.
“Could you . . . there’s a problem.”
“I’m on my way.” He put down the receiver and turned to Blevins. “Sir, I’m sorry. I need to leave for a little while.”
“Is there a problem?”
“Yes sir, it’s personal.”
Diana straightened up, personal? What could be personal? He had no contact with his father and his mother was in Europe on some tour. He wouldn’t look over at her.
Blevins hesitated for an instant, then nodded. “Fine, we can finish this tomorrow. I hope everything is okay.”
“Me too.” He was out the door, nearly running.
Diana stared at the door until Blevins drew her attention. “Agent Fowley? Are you - “
“I’m sorry sir. I believe we can finish this without Agent Mulder.”
What was wrong? He’d made a decision not to call her last night, not to run back over there. It was the right thing to do. Let her be with her family and her . . .
Had she remembered something? Was that the problem? Or had she had the kind of night he’d had. It felt as though he’d barely closed his eyes when the dream had come to him. Samantha in the bright light, being taken from him, only this time she’d had long red hair instead of dark brown. He shook his head, what good would it do to remember that. He hadn’t slept again. Red wasn’t there to keep the demons away. And she wouldn’t be, she was engaged to be married, off limits. Which didn’t exactly explain why he was racing over to her mother’s house on half a phone call.
He reached the house, vaulting from the car practically before it quit moving. He knocked firmly on the door. A large man opened it quickly. “I’m Agent Mulder, Mrs. Scully - “
“Yeah, Mom said she called you. I’m her brother, Bill.” He stepped aside, letting Mulder in. “Mom’s upstairs with Dana.”
“She said there was a problem.” Mulder forced himself not to shove the man aside and race up the stairs.
“Yeah, it’s my fault. I didn’t realize . . . “
“I . . . Mom told me that she didn’t remember, that she had some sort of amnesia, but I guess I didn’t think she really wouldn’t know me. I mean, I’m her big brother. When I saw her, I hugged her. She, she freaked. I’m really sorry.”
“How is she now?”
“Withdrawn, hell, she’s in a fetal position
and she won’t talk. I never . . . “
“I need to see her.”
“Sure.” Bill led him upstairs and to the second door on the right. He tapped on the door, “Mom?”
“Is he here?”
“Yes.” Bill opened the door wider and motioned for Mulder to precede him into the room.
Mulder stopped for an instant at the sight of her. She was curled up in a ball on her bed, eyes tightly closed. It was how she had been when he’d first seen her. When Maggie’s hand accidentally brushed her arm she moaned.
Mrs. Scully looked up at him, fear obvious in her eyes. She rose from the bed and approached him. “Mr. Mulder, thank you for coming.”
“Was she okay, before . . . “
“No, not really. She’s been on edge, tense. She didn’t sleep last night, I heard her moving around and I heard her crying, but she didn’t want me to be around her. I know she’s not . . . comfortable here. She refused to see anyone. I think, I think she was hoping that you would come by, but she didn’t say anything.”
“I should have, I . . . I thought it would be best to let her get settled.”
“Don’t blame yourself Mr. Mulder. I’m the one that asked you to leave. There don’t seem to be guidelines for this. She refused to let me call a doctor. I hoped seeing Bill would help. Her father should be here day after tomorrow.”
Mulder nodded, then moved around her mother and to the bed. He glanced back at Maggie and Bill. Maggie took Bill’s arm and led him from the room.
“Mom? Don’t you think - “
In her mind she saw Dana step back into the man’s body without even looking, and his arm automatically coming up around her. “She’ll be okay with him.”
Mulder glanced at the door as it shut. He’d heard the words, but put them aside to think about later. He moved closer to the bed, finally sitting carefully beside her. “Red, it’s me. It’s Mulder.” She didn’t respond so he allowed his index finger to lightly trace her cheekbone. She whimpered and drew back, but he followed. “Red, come on. Open your eyes. It’s me.”
She obeyed him reluctantly, still cowering. He took her hand in his and brought it to his chest. “You slept here.”
Her eyes widened and with a strangled sob she threw herself at him, nearly knocking him from the bed. His arms closed around her and held her tight, rocking her slightly. “I should have been here. Red, I’m - “
“I’m sorry, I’m so sorry. I don’t know him. I don’t love him.” She was nearly babbling.
It took him a beat to realize that she was apologizing to him, for . . . for Daniel.
“Oh Baby, no. Don’t. That’s not important now. You’re the only important thing.” They were quiet then until her trembling ceased. Then he pulled back and looked down at her wet eyes. He pressed his lips to her brow. “You need to rest. Have you slept?”
He chuckled then, “I’m used to it. Come on, get comfortable.”
She did, in his lap and let her eyes close. “That’s not exactly - “ She squirmed against him. “Red,” he groaned, “I’ve got to face your mother, and your brother. Have you seen how big he is?”
She smiled slightly then, but relented and stretched out in the bed. “Will you stay?”
He nodded, “I may not be in the room. I need to talk to your family, but I won’t leave.”
That seemed to relax her the rest of the way and she sighed, already drifting off, now that she felt safe again.
He stayed until her hand released his and her breathing grew heavy and even. He rose carefully. She didn’t stir, so he let himself out, pulling the door nearly closed behind him. There was no one around and he heard nothing, so he headed downstairs.
He found Bill in the kitchen, watching the coffee brew. The large man straightened up immediately. “Is she . . . “
“Is your mother around?”
“She’s lying down too. I don’t think she’s gotten much rest last night.”
Mulder sighed, “I shouldn’t have - “
“Stop. Whatever you’re going to say, what happened is my fault. Mom told me she didn’t remember, but . . . hell, she’s my little sister. I just didn’t believe she could forget me.”
Mulder nodded his agreement.
“You have a sister?”
“Try to imagine her disappearing and - “
“What?” Bill stopped pouring the coffee to look at the man, his tone had . . .
“My sister was taken too; a long time ago.”
“No shit? Hey, I’m sorry. How long was she gone?”
“We, uh, we never found her. It’s been twenty years.”
Bill’s eyes widened. “Oh man, I’m sorry. I . . . “
Mulder shrugged, “it’s why I joined the Bureau.” He stood there, mildly embarrassed and frankly surprised at himself. He’d talked about Samantha again. It was like Red had opened up some sort of emotional floodgate in him. He wasn’t entirely sure it was a good thing. He cleared his throat and accepted the mug Bill offered. “Has, has her ‘fiancé’ been by?” He hadn’t meant to say it with quite that tone.
Bill motioned to the table. “Sounds like you’re not real taken with old Danny Boy either. Stress on the old.”
Mulder shrugged, “I don’t know him.”
“You haven’t missed anything. He’s not right for my sister.” He took a sip of his coffee. “What about you, married? Involved?”
“Uh, neither.” He studied his shoes so he couldn’t give anything away.
Bill grinned. “Dana would kill me.”
“For what?” Mulder looked up surprised.
“Trying to fix her up.”
“Fix her up?”
“Yeah, with you.”
“Me?” Only one word, but his voice broke.
“Hey, at least you’re the right generation.” Bill chuckled, then took a deep breath. “You must have just walked away from work when you got Mom’s call.”
“It was your mother; of course I did.”
Bill appraised him, “You are interested in her.”
“Your sister is too good for me.”
Bill smiled, “Well, I can’t dispute that. She probably is the best of us. Oh, I do okay - career Navy and moving up the ranks. Charlie’s a professor, Ph.D. and all. Then there’s Missy.”
“Your mother called her a free spirit.”
“Mom would put a good spin on it.”
Mulder took a sip, “So he hasn’t called or come by?” He couldn’t help himself, it was Daniel he wanted information on.
Bill snorted, “Fiancé. Hell, none of us even knew they were engaged before she disappeared. In fact, I thought they’d split. I knew he wasn’t happy when she switched to pathology and I was thrilled about that - the split, not the pathology.”
“You don’t like him.”
“He has a daughter my age.”
“Does your mother - “
“Mom kept quiet. She learned her lesson with Missy. She told Missy what she thought of a guy she was seeing. That’s when Missy rebelled, dropped out of school and followed the jerk across country. They’re not together anymore and Missy won’t talk about it, but she can’t seem to settle down either.”
“What about you? I mean, Navy but what about wife, kids?”
“Me? No. But I have found her. Tara, Tara Hodges. I haven’t exactly asked her yet. She’s too good for me too, but . . . I don’t know, after all this with Dana.” He shrugged.
Mulder looked over at the door as she entered and rose to his feet. Bill’s eyes followed him, then he saw her as well. “Red? Did you get enough sleep?”