He dropped the pen onto the desk and slipped off his glasses, stretching. Ten minutes was not enough time between patients, not to get his notes down on paper, but it was all he had.
Now a new patient. He picked up the file and after glancing at the clock, opened it once again. Kimmie was delighted to have someone like this patient come to their practice, no doubt hoping she’d bring others. He hadn’t had the heart to tell her this patient had probably chosen him because he wasn’t a society shrink.
The tap on the door interrupted him and he rose from behind the desk. “Come in.” He headed for the door as it opened.
His patient looked up at him. She saw a tall man with hazel eyes and thick chestnut hair that flopped over his forehead. He had on a nice enough suit; off the rack, but his body was good enough to bring it off nicely. He extended his hand and shook hers briskly. She noted he was younger than she would have thought for his reputation, and wondered again if this was a good idea.
He noted her hesitation, but that was normal for first time patients. She was short, but her poise made her seem taller. Her hair was perfectly styled to look casual, but he suspected it had taken a great deal of time. He liked the color on her, red was good with her complexion. Maybe it was even natural. She looked up and he saw her lovely blue eyes. “Welcome, I’m Dr. Fox Mulder.”
She nodded. “Dana Scully.”
“Won’t you have a seat?” He motioned her to one of the chairs in front of his desk and took the other beside it, rather than sit behind the desk.
“I don’t have to lie down?” She glanced around the room. It was comfortable, a little messy but warm and inviting. There was no couch.
He grinned. It was an old joke but she was attractive, even if he wasn’t supposed to notice. “We don’t do a lot of that anymore. It makes people more nervous instead of relaxing them.” He purposely did not look at her slightly shaking hands.
She nodded and took the chair he indicated. It was comfortable, not a normal office chair, nearly overstuffed and if she wanted, she knew she could curl up in it with her feet under her.
“I noticed on the form you filled out you didn’t mention why you wanted to see a psychiatrist, so why don’t we start there?” His voice was soothing; almost sexy with a husky tone that made her wonder if he smoked.
She took a deep breath and raised her eyes to face him. Good, one point for her. “I’d rather you not tape this session.”
“Hadn’t planned to. We’re just getting acquainted now. Go on, what brought you here?”
“I’m having trouble sleeping and I think I need some help.”
He kept his face impassive, but he was immediately disappointed. If she was here for sleeping pills she was going to be disappointed as well. The poor little rich girl thing didn’t work on him. “What kind of trouble?”
“I . . . I’m having nightmares.” She looked down at her hands.
That wasn’t what he’d been expecting, but she still wasn’t just going to get pills in any case. “Tell me about them.”
“That’s just it, I don’t remember them. When I open my eyes, they’re gone, except for the fear. The first couple of times I was actually afraid to close my eyes again, terrified I might remember, but now . . . “
“How long have you been experiencing them?”
“Over a month now. At first it wasn’t every night but last week . . . I need some sleep.”
He nodded. “What kind of help do you think I can give you?”
She looked up then and again met his eyes. “I heard that you could, could hypnotize people. Maybe if I can find out what the dream is . . . “
Okay, now that startled him. No mention whatsoever about drugs. She wanted to get to the root cause. His impression of her rose slightly. He nodded. “I think it’s wise to find out what might be causing these dreams. I do hypnosis but I do feel we need to discuss your situation before we try something like that. There’s a great deal of trust involved. Since we don’t know each other, I think we should talk a little bit first.”
She nodded and seemed to relax a notch.
“Why don’t you tell me something about yourself?”
She gave a laugh with just a hint of bitterness in it. “You mean things you haven’t already read in the tabloids?”
“I don’t read the tabloids,” he said mildly.
She blushed lightly then and gave him a half smile. “Sorry. I assume everyone knows everything about me.”
“I’d rather get to know you, not the façade.”
“Thank you.” At least that’s what he thought she said. It was barely a whisper but it sounded sincere. She straightened up in the chair. “I’m Dana Scully, daughter of William and Margaret Scully of Scully Industries. My father owns one of the largest shipbuilding companies in the industry.”
“Is that how you define yourself?”
She seemed startled by the question. “I guess I’ve always been defined that way.”
“Okay then, tell me about your family.”
“Family. We’re not much of a family. Father is ‘busy’ a lot of the time between the company and his work with the government; I haven’t seen much of him for a couple of decades, though we live in the same house. Mother has pretty much retreated from life since . . . “
“Since?” he probed gently.
“Since Charlie disappeared.”
Oh yes, he’d forgotten that. Years ago her younger brother had been taken from their home in what was assumed was a kidnapping. He’d never been found. If memory served it had been a strange case, no ransom demand and her father had behaved . . . strangely. She’d just been a child herself.
“How old were you?”
“Ten. Charlie was six.”
“I remember hearing something about that. You were there?”
“Yes. It was evening. My parents were at some party or the other. The housekeeper was there but in another part of the house. We weren’t babies after all.”
“They made no attempt to take you?”
Her eyes hardened slightly. “I wasn’t the only son of William Scully.”
“But you are his only daughter,” Mulder said quietly.
She turned away. “Apparently that wasn’t nearly as important; at least not to the people that took him, or my father.”
“So you’re not close to your parents. Who are you close to?”
She blinked at that. “You mean, close like confiding in?”
“Uh, no one. It’s not safe.”
“Safe? That’s not a word I would have thought to use.”
“If you trust someone, they’ll betray you, sell a story or a picture to the news,” she muttered with a contemptuous note of derision.
“That sounds like experience.”
Her eyebrow rose as she looked at him. “Do you honestly think that those stories in the tabloids that you don’t read came from me?”
“It must be tough, not able to trust anyone.”
“It’s lonely.” She straightened back up then as though surprised at her own words. “That’s not what I came here about.”
“Right, the nightmares. You say they started . . . “
“About a month ago.”
“Did anything happen around that time? Break up with your boyfriend?”
Her eyebrow rose again.
“I’m not seeing anyone and, for the record, if I were, it would be male.”
He grinned then. “On behalf of all males, thank you.”
She gave a surprised chuckle and seemed to relax again.
“I want you to think about it. Was there anything different going on in your life? Any significant calendar dates?”
She thought for a moment. “Well, Gloriana had that tape made public. Have you heard of Gloriana Reynolds? Her ‘boyfriend’ got a good price for a tape of them having sex. Her father got an injunction but . . . “
“Is that kind of thing . . . “
“Common? I suppose it is in ‘my’ group.” She fell silent then.
“Anything else happen during that time?”
“Oh,” she sat up a little straighter. “Father was in town. He had a meeting with some men at the house that I hadn’t seen in years.”
“From his company?”
“No, his government work. Mother was furious that he had brought them home. I think he was surprised to see me there. Someone had told him I’d be out of town.”
“Did you cancel a trip?”
She sighed. “Yes, it just seemed like too much trouble. Who knew I’d be in the way in my own home.”
“You say you hadn’t seen these men in years, but you had seen them?”
“Yes. They used to come to the old house, where we lived when I was much younger. We moved to this place when I was eleven or twelve.”
“After your brother disappeared.”
She nodded. “Mother refused to live in the old place after that; too many memories for her. I don’t blame her, but I really liked that place much better.” She fell silent then, musing through some memory.
He sat quietly, allowing her to set the pace. What kind of existence would it be to trust no one; to assume that everyone was after something from you? After a moment he cleared his throat. “What do you do?”
“Do? You mean to make money?” she gave him a sad little smile.
“Not necessarily, what do you do with your time?”
“I went to an acceptable college or two. I have a degree in interior design.” She looked up at him. “I shop, hang out with people I’ve known a long time. Mostly I flit.”
“I notice you said you hang out with people you’ve known a long time. You don’t call them friends.”
“I’m not sure they are,” she responded calmly.
“So what do you want to be when you grow up?” His lips had the faintest quirk to them, but for some reason she wasn’t offended. Something about this man made her feel comfortable. It was probably a well honed bedside manner - both in the office and his bedroom from the looks of him.
She met his eyes then. “Safe.”
He nodded. He had never really given much thought to the lives of the mega-rich and famous. Safe sounded like a goal she truly wanted to pursue. Imagine, her brother kidnapped at an early age, her friends violated by people they trusted.
“Sorry, I thought you went away there for a second.”
“Maybe I did,” he said softly. “You’ve given me some new things to think about.”
“Are you surprised that rich people have problems?” she challenged him mildly.
“No. And I can see where trust would be a major issue. Thank you for giving me a chance to earn yours.”
Her cheeks pinked and she looked down again. “Will you do the hypnosis?”
“I’ll try to help you.”
“I don’t want to talk about . . . I just want the nightmares to go away.”
“I want us to talk at least once more before we try something like that. It can be an invasive procedure if you don’t trust me.”
She opened her mouth, but then closed it and nodded.
He smiled then. “Let’s look at my book.”
On the way home that night he stopped at a magazine stand that he passed on the way to the subway.
Once home he booted up his computer and began searching for information about Dana. Not something he’d felt necessary of any previous patient, but there was so much fear around her for all of her poise.
There was a depressing amount of information. Her parents had married young and her father had thrown himself into his work, building Scully Industries into the worldwide mega-corporation it was now.
There was little to no personal information about her father. He apparently worked behind the scenes in government circles. There was plenty of speculation but little fact and he refused interviews.
There had been quite a bit written about them when Charlie had been kidnapped, likening it to the Lindbergh kidnapping, but at least in that case there was a resolution of some sort. The boy had never been found, no body, nothing. The FBI had been all over it, but it was still considered an open case. Every five years or so some news team would put together a retrospective but nothing new had ever been uncovered.
Mrs. Scully had retreated from the limelight at that time too. They had remained married, but she was almost never seen in public. She had tried to shield her remaining child from the press for a long time. Dana had been sent off to a private school with a high degree of security. It was sad; the woman had essentially lost both of her children. When she was spotted and photographed now, she seemed wooden, detached from the moment, as through . . . drugged.
On the other hand there was a great deal of press about Dana. Unlike most of her friends she had never been to rehab, but for a time she had been quite the party girl. She’d had the requisite coming out event, which her parents had attended together. After that it was no-holds bar. She’d dropped out of Vassar, but eventually returned to complete her education. She’d told him interior design, but it seemed to be more of an education in night life.
Then about a month ago she’d dropped out of sight. There was quite a bit of press about her friend and the sex tape, so it was possible that they just ran out of room, but that hardly seemed likely.
What surprised him was that he actually had more respect for her now, for coming to someone for help, for wanting to get to the bottom of the problem. Maybe she’d been able to grow up despite her upbringing.
Their second session had been a little easier. She had spoken more of her life, the distance between her father and herself, her father and her mother. She had wondered aloud that they were still together. She had seemed surprised with herself that she had opened up so easily with him. She found herself talking about Charlie, about good times when they had been children.
He was aware that she was attractive, even desirable, but he was professional. She was beginning to trust him and that was important.
He had arrived early and was pulling out the key to the office when he rounded the corner. He stopped when he spotted her scrambling to her feet at his office door.
She’d been crying and he fought the urge to take her into his arms. Not a good idea. “Just relax. Come in and I’ll make us some coffee.”
She nodded, still not speaking. His hand on the small of her back led her to a smaller, different office than the one she’d been in. This one did have a couch and the desk was a great deal messier. He seated her and gave her hand a reassuring squeeze.
“I’m just going in the next room to start the coffee. I’ll be right back.”
She watched him until he disappeared into the hall, then curled her feet beneath her and allowed her eyes to close.
He was only gone a few minutes, but she was asleep when he returned. He watched her for a minute, then took a seat at his desk and opened the top file. It was nearly thirty minutes later before she stirred.
He rose immediately and took a seat in the chair beside the couch. “Dana?”
She startled at his proximity and drew back.
“I’m sorry.” He rose and retreated behind the chair. “Would you like some coffee?”
“Yes, thank you,” she said softly.
He returned shortly with a cup and a handful of fixings for her. She added a little creamer and nodded her thanks. She took a couple of sips and then a deep breath.
“Do you want to tell me what happened?” he asked quietly.
“I had the nightmare again; it was the worse time yet. I hadn’t had it in three nights, not since . . . “
“Not since when, Dana?”
“Since I’ve been coming here; since you made it better.”
“Did something happen? Has anything changed with Gloriana’s case?”
She shook her head. “I haven’t heard anything, and I haven’t seen her since I started coming here.”
“But something made it return.” It wasn’t a question.
“One of those men came by the house.”
“One of the government group your father used to work with?”
She nodded. “I don’t know his name. He’s the most frightening of them all, the way he looks at me. And he always has a cigarette burning. He lights one after another. Mother has never allowed smoking in the house, not since I can remember, but he doesn’t even ask. And he stinks of smoke. You can smell him all over the house.”
“Did you know that scent is the most powerful trigger of memory?”
“You think I’m remembering something about that man and it’s causing nightmares?”
“I don’t know, but it’s an avenue we need to explore.” He glanced down at his watch. “I have a patient coming in a few minutes, but - “
She looked up. “I’m sorry, of course you - “
“Don’t apologize. I’m glad you came to me. I want to help you. Are you free this evening? If you could get here around five and wait, after my last patient we could see about this. That is, if you don’t mind being here with me without Kimmie being here.”
“You mean like now?” she asked with a smirk.
“Uh, yeah,” he chuckled. “Can you be here?”
“Yes. Thank you.”
“Are you okay to drive?”
“I am now. I’ll see you at five.” She rose from the couch and held out her hand.
He shook it, then squeezed it lightly. She smiled and moved to the door.
It was a long day. He forced himself to stay focused when his patients were in the room, but his notes were meager. Thank goodness for his memory.
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Mulder, Scully, the Lone Gunman and Skinner all belong to Chris Carter, 10-13 and Fox. No infringement intended.