She stirred, moaning slightly, then opened her eyes to see his frantic face looming over her. “Mulder.” Her arms went around his neck, burying her face against him. “I remember.” She whispered against his throat.
“What, Baby, what do you remember?” He spoke quietly to her, not wanting the others to hear.
She burrowed in deeper, “Everything.”
He struggled to keep the panic from his face. The others hadn’t heard her.
“Dana, Honey talk to me.” Her mother had taken her other hand.
She whimpered, a death-grip on him.
“Maggie, I . . . She remembers.”
Maggie’s mouth fell open, then she moved closer touching Mulder’s shoulder to move him aside. She had Dana in her arms as tears poured down her face. Dana didn’t return the hug, she couldn’t release his hand.
“Starbuck? You . . . you really remember?” William spoke quietly.
Mulder forced himself to move away, to give her family room, but her eyes followed him, so he didn’t move far. Bill stepped closer to him, “This is a good thing, isn’t it?” He whispered.
Mulder hesitated, “Remembering you guys is a good thing. I don’t know about the other memories.”
“Is she in danger?”
“I don’t know. Remembering so suddenly . . . she’s in shock, but I think . . .not if she keeps it to herself. We have to play this very carefully.”
“You know I don’t understand.” Bill glanced back over at her. “I want to, as soon as possible.”
Mulder met his eyes. “I know.” He made no commitment and Bill realized it, but after a moment nodded.
“Dana, I think we should take you to the emergency room. You had a seizure; that’s serious.” Her mother caressed her hand.
“No! Mulder, don’t . . . “ She struggled to find her composure.
“I think it wasn’t a seizure as much as shock, Maggie. It just all hit her at once, she couldn’t . . . she couldn’t handle it. Please, let her rest tonight. If anything happens again, I’ll, we’ll take her to a doctor. Okay?”
“I don’t like it.”
She kept her eyes on Mulder. “Please, I’ll rest now. I’ll take it easy.” Her voice was almost steady. She was obviously desperate not to be taken anywhere. She pleaded silently to Mulder for help. For some reason the others turned to him as well.
“Uh, yeah, maybe if she just goes on to bed for tonight. If she does have her memories, then she’s a doctor again, she wouldn’t put herself in danger.”
Her parents exchanged looks, but it was obvious for whatever reason neither Dana nor Mulder wanted her to be seen by a doctor.
Finally William sighed, “Okay, but I want you to go to bed now, Starbuck. We’ll be checking on you all night.”
She nodded, tears gleaming in her eyes. She reached for Mulder again, and he moved forward. “Just relax.” He scooped her back into his arms. “I don’t want you to climb the stairs.”
He carried her up to the bedroom and settled her gently on the bed. “Don’t leave me.”
He shook his head, “I’m not going anywhere.”
“I remember . . . “
He nodded, but looked toward the door. The others were right behind them. “Not now. Don’t put anything on paper. If you forget details. . . it doesn’t matter, just don’t write anything down.”
“I won’t forget.” The words were followed by a barely suppressed sob.
His arms tightened around her. “I’m sorry, I’m so sorry.” He whispered, then turned to her father. “I need to stay here.“
William nodded, “Of course.”
“Do you have anything here to help her relax?”
“You mean like a sleeping pill?” Maggie asked, “Nothing prescription. I may have something I got over the counter.”
“That’s fine. I don’t want to drug her.”
Maggie nodded and left to look for some sort of mild sedative. William sat on the bed beside her, “Starbuck, I don’t know what you’re remembering, but it’s over. You already survived it. Don’t let this man win. You’re free and you’re here with people who love you and want to help you. Hold on to that.”
She managed a small nod, but then her eyes were on Mulder again. William patted her hand and rose, motioning for Mulder to return to his seat beside her. He put his hand on the younger man’s shoulder.
“We’ll clear out, less stimulation. We’ll be close, just yell out if you need anything. I’ll check back in a few minutes.” He moved toward the door.
“I’ll be right behind you.” Bill said quickly. His father glanced at the bed, then nodded and left the room.
“Should I change my flight?”
“I can’t tell you what to do, but I really do think she’ll be okay. I, I‘d take her to the ER myself if I didn’t.” He felt Bill’s tension ebb a little at those words.
“I believe that. Okay, I’ll see how it goes tonight, and I’ll be in touch.”
“You have my number?”
“Oh yeah.” He glanced over at his trembling sister, the back at Mulder. “Help her.”
Mulder nodded and returned to the bed. He held her, stroking her hair until Maggie returned.
She swallowed the two small white pills at Mulder’s insistence, and he watched as her mother left the room, closing the door quietly behind her.
Mulder made them comfortable then, sitting back against the headboard with her tightly against his side. “Do you want to talk?”
Her voice was low, even this close he could barely hear her, “What if I’m not here.”
“What? What do you mean Red?”
“These people, my ‘family’, I’ve seen them before. ‘They’ could look like anyone and they used those faces. What if I’m still there?”
He closed his eyes then, her fear was so painful. “No Red, you’re safe. You really are home.”
“How can I tell?” If possible that question was spoken even more quietly. Her trembling was becoming shaking now.
“I’m here. I wasn’t there, you never saw me there. You saw me when you were released.” He put her hand on his chest. “You slept here.”
She looked up startled at that, and he felt her muscles relax slightly. She gave the tiniest nod, “You’re really here.” Her hand pressed on his chest, feeling his heart beat beneath her fingers. “You’re really here.” She repeated.
He nodded and softly kissed her forehead. “I’m really here. Try to relax.” His hand moved gently up and down her arm and she snuggled in, allowing her eyes to close.
When her breathing finally quit hitching and became slow and even, he made her more comfortable, then rose and removed her shoes, then her slacks and sweater. He’d done it before, he just hoped her family would understand. He covered her, but at that point she became restless again, so he slipped off his shoes and joined her in the bed, on top of the covers.
He held her through her nightmares and tears. He napped a little, but was awake when her parents came in to check on her during the night.
The first time he tried to move away from her when her father tapped on the door, but she cried out. Mulder looked apologetically at him, but William just shook his head, then looked at his daughter.
“I was going to ask how she was, but I heard her.”
Mulder nodded. “I . . . it’s going to take some time.”
“Do you know what she’s remembering?”
Mulder looked away. “I’ve got an idea.”
Her father didn’t ask anything else after that. He looked at Dana again, then moved back toward the door. “Don’t leave her.”
“No sir, I won’t.”
She woke a little after five. “Mulder?”
“Uh, yeah, sorry guess I drifted off.”
“You stayed with me, all night?”
“Sure,” he tried to grin, “You didn’t even snore.” She shivered, but he noted the trembling didn’t resume.
“How do you feel?” He brushed the hair back from her face.
“Shaky. I need to go to the bathroom.”
“Yeah, me too. Can you walk?”
She took a deep breath, “Yes.” She did accept his hand to get up, but then stiffened her spine and walked alone out into the hall. He waited at the bedroom door and when she returned, used the facilities himself.
She was sitting up, propped on the pillows when he returned. “Did you undress me?”
He nodded, “Your dad didn’t say anything.” That earned him a weak smile. “You’re looking better, steadier.”
“I can’t think about it. Not now.”
“Okay. I just want you to be okay.”
“I know.” She allowed herself to lean against him and his arm came around her. “Will I be?”
“Yes.” He didn’t even hesitate.
“I want you to go to work.”
“I should stay with you.”
“I want you to, but I have to . . . I have to see if I . . . “
“You can. You’re strong, you wouldn’t have survived if you weren’t. I think I’m the one that needs to stay with you.”
She gave a weepy chuckle at that. “Just hold me until it’s time to get up.”
“With pleasure.” He cuddled her tighter against him and they sat talking quietly until they heard her parents stir.
William opened the door. He was in uniform, obviously dressed for the evening. “Welcome son.” He shook Mulder’s hand.
“Is everything . . . okay?”
William nodded and motioned him toward the living room. “She’s insisting we keep our plans tonight and go out.”
“She’s right. I’ll be with her.”
“Actually you haven’t seen her. She’s planning to go out too.”
“She’s feeling better?”
William nodded, “You too are very . . . close.”
“We, uh - “
Her father waved his hand dismissing whatever protest Mulder was about to make. “I’m not asking. What I mean is, every time today that she started to get nervous, uneasy, the phone rang and it was you, checking on her. It was as though you knew she needed you.”
“Maybe it was me, needing her.”
The older man looked into his eyes then, and after a moment nodded.
They were silent then, slightly awkward on Mulder’s part, more contemplative on William’s.
“Sir, do you think she’s really ready to go out tonight?”
“She says she is.”
“She is.” Dana joined them from the back of the house.
Mulder’s eyes scanned her closely, not just her face. The dress she was wearing was different than anything he’d seen her in and . . . and damn. It was short, really short and black. The neckline was cut straight across her breasts, and held up, barely, by tiny little straps. He glanced over at her father and caught the man’s smile.
“I, uh - “
“Yes, she does look good.” Her father offered. “But of course, she is my baby girl, so I’d just as soon not discuss it with you.”
“Yes sir.” But he caught the twinkle in the man’s eye and relaxed slightly.
“Mulder, I haven’t been out of the house since you brought me home. Mom and Ahab are going out, so I thought we could too. Don’t - “ She raised her hand to forestall his protest. “I’ve rested all day and I, I need to see if I can do this. Don’t fight me.”
“Now that sounds like my Starbuck.”
Maggie joined them then, “You haven’t changed your mind.” She looked Dana over.
“No, Mom, I haven’t. I really do feel okay, good actually. It does feel good to know who I am and where I belong. Mulder and I need to celebrate a little, okay?”
“It shouldn’t be a late evening.”
“Yes mother.” Dana smiled.
Maggie looked over at Mulder. “I’ll keep an eye on her.”
Maggie’s eyes dropped down to her hemline for just an instant, and Mulder felt his cheeks heat up. “Okay. We’ll see you later.” William had managed to convince her that if she was with Mulder it would be okay. Since she’d seen that for herself, she’d finally given in. She picked up her purse and William took Maggie’s arm, leading her to the car.
Mulder turned immediately to Dana, “Red, you don’t have anything to prove. “
“I do. I can either live my life or I can huddle in a corner and be too afraid to leave the house. I know I’m still shaky, but I need to do this. If I’m with you . . .”
He took a strand of her hair where it curled on her breast and twirled it around his finger.
“Come on. I want to get out of here for a little while.” She looked up at him and he grinned at her. She was stronger than even he’d realized. She was more than a survivor.
“Are you always this bossy when you’re yourself?”
“Yep. Think you can get used to it.”
“Suppose I’ll have to.” She took his hand.
“I suppose you will.” She turned to the door.
He seated her in the car, then got in himself. “So where do you want to eat?”
“There’s somewhere else I want to go first.”
“Okay.” He waited.
“My place?” He was quickly visualizing it to see if there was underwear on the floor. She smiled slightly as she watched.
“Yes. Your place. Come on.”
He took a deep breath, “Yes ma’am.”
He opened the door and looked inside before allowing her to precede him into the apartment. She stopped just inside and looked around, then moved away from him, checking everything out.
“You know, I wasn’t planning on an inspection.”
“Too bad. Mulder, where’s your bedroom?”
“I, uh, I usually sleep on the couch.”
She turned to look at him then. That explained some things she hadn’t realized needed explaining. He looked so uncomfortable. She moved closer and her hand came up behind his head, pulling him down toward her. His lips met hers and his arms went around her lifting her to him. Both of her arms were around his neck then because her feet no longer reached the ground.
His hands found the zipper at her back, and when she made no protest, lowered it carefully. She wasn’t wearing a bra and his breath caught as he freed her from the confines of the dress.
“Red?” Was this a good idea? She’d been a basket case last night . . . but his touch seemed to have helped. Or was that a rationalization?
She smiled, his voice now registered in the bass range. He lowered her to the couch, trying to figure out how he had managed to be away from her for hours.
He groaned her name, then managed to turn so that he wouldn’t crush her under him. She gasped in a breath. My god, this man was without a doubt the best lover she’d ever had, and now she could remember them. No man had ever been more giving, more aware of her pleasure.
But what astounded her was the security she felt in his arms. It had kept her sane last night and brought her to ecstasy tonight.
He pulled her tight against him, his breathing beginning to return to normal. “Red?”
“That sounds good, was it?”
“Oh yeah, very.”
He smiled, then buried his face in her hair. He felt her slip under, relaxing completely against him. He was glad, there was no reason for her to see his tears.
Her hands woke him, “Hey, getting personal Dr. Scully.”
“No, but I have to take you home at a decent hour, and I do not want to explain to your mother why neither of us can walk.”
She laughed out loud then. Her joy and her ability to feel it with him made his heart stutter.
“Really, I need to feed you. Come on, get up.” She groaned, but allowed him to tug her to her feet. “You take the bathroom first. Remember, this is not an inspection.”
“Chicken.” But she turned where he pointed.
She was dressed when she returned, not that the outfit did much to hide the body he had so enjoyed just a little while ago. It was hard to believe, but she looked even sexier in the dress now that he had seen her out of it. His lips had been there, where her breasts swelled up, threatening to spill out.
“Mulder, either go get dressed or I’m getting undressed again.” She grinned at him.
He took a deep breath. “I’ll get dressed.”
Her eyebrow rose, but she didn’t stop him. Once he had disappeared, her smile dimmed, but she looked around the apartment. She checked out the fish and fed them a little of the food from the container on the shelf above the aquarium. She wandered over to the desk then and looked at the papers he had scattered around. The framed picture caught her eye. She picked it up to get a closer look, then heard him come up behind her.
His arm snaked around her, pulling her back against him. “Snooping?”
“Yes.” She turned in his arms and kissed him. “Is this Samantha?”
He nodded, “That was her last school picture.” She looked at it a long time. “What?”
“I was just . . . have you heard of that software where you can age someone to see what they would look like?”
“Sure. They had a prototype at the Bureau.”
“I saw it demonstrated when I observed an autopsy during my training. Have you ever thought of doing that with this picture?”
He shook his head, “I never . . . I don’t want the Bureau involved.”
She nodded. “I was just thinking, she’s close to my age. If she was returned, like I was, you need something a little more current to go on.”
“It’s not been perfected.”
“Do you want to try it?”
“The Bureau . . .” He shrugged.
She nodded. “What about your friends?”
He stared at her then. “You know you’re smarter than I am.”
She smiled slightly, “I don’t have the baggage you have around this Mulder.” She tucked the frame in her purse, then looked up to face him. “Mulder, we need to talk. I think I can now, a little, and I need to. You haven’t asked me anything about . . .”
“We should get out of here, Red. We can talk - “
“In public? Mulder, we need - “
“To eat.” He insisted. “Come on, I know a place where we can have some privacy.”
She looked up at him and after a moment nodded. “We can go by the guy’s place afterward and leave the picture, if you want to.”
“You look after me better than I look after you.”
“Not really.” She glanced over at the couch. “You look after me very well.”
He took her hand, “we need to get out of here before you come on to me again. You’ll think I’m easy and quit respecting me.”
She chuckled as she reached up and pulled his head down to her, kissing him thoroughly. “Come on, you could be right.”
Even though she remembered Washington now, she knew she hadn’t been in this restaurant before. He requested a booth in the back. “Afraid you’ll be seen with me?” She smiled over the candle at him.
He shook his head, “Just don’t want to be interrupted.” He took her fingers, playing with them, devouring her face with his eyes. He didn’t even release her when the waiter came to take their order.
When they were alone again, she still
hesitated. He squeezed his fingers.
“Red, you said I hadn’t asked about your memories.” He shrugged, “I’m not sure I want to hear about Daniel.”
“Mulder - “
“And as for the other, I just . . . I’ve read the interviews of other abductees, I don’t want you to . . . to relive it for me.”
She shivered and managed a sad smile, “too late.”
He closed his eyes and his grip on her fingers tightened again.
“Mulder,” Her eyes grew moist, “You probably already know more about what, what happened to me than I do. It’s against everything I thought I knew. I’m not the kind of person who ever believed in . . . I didn’t believe at first. I couldn’t.” She shuddered slightly and lowered her voice even more. “They could look like us. I watched them do it. Sometimes they would . . . forget to change. They never spoke.” She closed her eyes, seeing it again, “they could put their thoughts in my head, but . . . but they couldn’t read my mind. That frustrated them.”
He didn’t speak, giving her all the time she needed.
“Their orders were simple at first. ‘Stop.’ ‘Quiet.’ One word orders. Later, after I’d been there longer, the commands got more complex, ‘lift your hand’, ‘deep breath’. Sometimes they would look like someone I knew and it . . . “ she shuddered.
After a long moment he nodded. “Did . . . the tests . . . “
She shook her head, “No. I can’t talk about that right now.”
“But after, after the tests sometimes people would come to me, to us.”
She nodded. “I think they were people. They couldn’t, they didn’t reach us with their minds. They didn’t speak either. They’d probably forgotten how, like I had.”
“Both. They were . . . comforting.”
“I’ve never heard that before. Red - ”
“Then another group of, of them came.”
“How . . . how could you tell?”
She paused, thinking for a moment. “They felt different. They didn’t test us, they just . . . observed. But Mulder, sometimes pictures would leak into my mind from them.”
She shook her head. “They made me think of . . . business associates.”
He hesitated, then, “Humans working with them?”
“I don’t know. All I saw were pictures, their memories or something.”
She looked around, making sure the waiter wasn’t coming, “Mulder, the faces that I saw . . .”
“It’s okay Red, I’m right here.”
“I didn’t know them. I mean, it wasn’t, they weren’t from my memories. That’s another reason why I think the images came from these beings.”
“The one, the man that I saw most often was an older man, Ahab’s age I’d guess. I . . . I think he worked with them. If you could find him - “
“Red, how could I find - “
“He had . . . he always had a cigarette going.”
“Well, that narrows it down.” He managed to smile.
“Mulder, several times . . . “ She looked away, as though she couldn’t continue.
He brought her fingers to his lips. “Red?”
“Some times there were other people. And, and sometimes the other person . . . Mulder.”
“Red, what is it?” His chest was tight now, why was she hesitating?
She looked miserable, but his eyes wouldn’t release her.
“Sometimes the other person with him was Diana.”
Author's note: Happy Birthday from me with many many thanks for the joy you have brought me in this wonderful group!!