He hated to admit it, but he was ready to lie down. His stamina was gone; one of the things he needed to work on. His appetite was returning, but it would be a while before he was back to his ‘fighting’ weight.
While she cleaned up after their meal, he followed her orders to get ready for bed. He slipped under the sheets, more thread count than he had realized was available, and relaxed into the comfort of it.
He needed to talk to her, but he needed to be alert for the conversation. Something was going on and he needed to know what. His eyes were closing when he heard the door open. She straightened the covers and gave him a kiss on the forehead. He protested that, pulling her closer and kissing her more thoroughly.
“Hey buddy, you’re supposed to be resting.”
“I am,” he nuzzled her neck.
“I don’t think so. I’ll check on you in a little while.” She started to rise.
“Are you, are you leaving?”
“No. I’m going to finish straightening up and do some laundry.”
He seemed to relax at that and winked at her as she headed for the door. “If you need anything - “ he grinned.
“I’ll yell,” she said dryly and pulled the door closed behind her. She leaned against the door jamb and closed her eyes. John was right, she had to tell him, tell him everything, but what would happen then?
She knew the answer; she just didn’t want to face it. He’d never want to see her again. She was the reason for his abduction, the reason a man was dead. She shook herself and moved away from the door. Mundane things, that was what she needed to concentrate on right now. Mulder was here, alive and safe, and with her.
After straightening up, she headed to her office to catch up on emails and phone messages. She had gotten rid of most of the spam when she heard him.
“No! Stop, don’t - Don’t!”
She rushed to the bedroom to find him thrashing around, “Mulder, Mulder wake up.” She sat beside him, pulling him into her arms.
He jerked awake and when he realized it was her, grabbed her to him, his lips finding hers. He seemed to drink life from her, pulling her closer. They had kissed before, many times, but this one was different, this one possessed her and she sank into it
When they broke apart to catch their breath, they stared at each other. The hand he reached out to touch her face was trembling. “Dana?”
She only swallowed hard, unable to speak.
“You need to know, I’m falling in love with you.”
Tears formed in her eyes and she saw fear start to grow on his face.
“I’m already in love with you, Mulder.” But she pulled back slightly.
“I-I’m getting mixed signals from you, Dana. What’s going on? What aren’t you telling me?”
“Mulder, it’s late - “
“No, that won’t fly anymore. I have to know what’s going on.” She seemed to wilt in front of him. “I need to know what you’re keeping from me, where this . . . this guilt is coming from.”
“Guilt,” she said quietly.
“Am I wrong?”
“No. It’s my fault.”
“What’s your fault?”
“Your abduction. They took you because of me.”
“What? You know who took me?” She hesitated again and he pulled her tighter. “Please. I need to know. Was it because of your family?”
“I know you need to know, but . . . “
She shook her head. “I don’t, I don’t think I can take it if you hate me, and it’s my fault. You, Pete’s death, I - “
“Death? Who died? Dana!” He took hold of her arms then, forcing her to look at him.
She met his eyes and finally nodded. He arranged the pillows and sat up, giving her space. She looked down again, staring at her hands, but she started talking.
“I went home to stay with Mother that night, the night you were taken. I thought Father was out of town, but when I got there he ‘summoned’ me to his study and practically ordered me to stay away from you. He’d been given orders by the Smoking Man because I was remembering and, and he was scared. It infuriated me that he would take orders from someone that had obviously been involved in Charlie’s abduction, so I refused and told him I knew about his involvement. I know you told me not to confront him and I should have listened, but for him to tell me who I could and couldn’t see, when he had . . . Then you were gone.”
His mouth opened, as though to ask questions, but then he waited.
“I went home, I didn’t even speak to Mother, but you didn’t call. I got worried, I knew something was wrong. I went to your apartment first thing the next morning. Your super let me in.” She stopped again, remembering the sight. “There had been a struggle. I knew immediately what had happened and I knew Father and the Smoking Man had been behind it. What they want, what they need is anonymity. Remember, you told me that. When the police sent me away, the paparazzi were already waiting. The idea was just there.”
“Idea?” he encouraged her.
“The worst of them was out there. Pete Ruzicka, he was waiting for me like a vulture to get ‘that shot’. He always went for the worst, the shot that makes us look drunk or stoned or,” she shrugged, “decadent.”
He nodded, but kept quiet.
“I, I was able to slip him a note to meet me later. He took it.”
She ignored that. “I went home and got the picture, the picture of Smoky, then I met Pete in the parking deck of your office building. He’d been there before. It was his picture of us that Samantha saw. I asked him . . . I asked him to take the picture of the smoking man. I told him he’d been responsible for your abduction, but that I couldn’t prove it and I wanted to ‘smoke him out’. He agreed, for a price.”
“A price?” Mulder asked quickly.
She nodded. “A photo session with the two of us when you were returned.” She looked down at her clasped hands and saw that they were white knuckled. She attempted to relax them, then continued.
“He did it. He got the picture in the tabloids, along with the accusation that you had been the victim of a kidnapping. Then a few days later he called me, panicked. He said he’d received death threats; he was demanding that I help him, give him money to get out of town. He wanted to meet with me.
“It was stupid, I know that now but I got a driver to go with me so I wouldn’t be alone and went to meet him. But I took something with me. I don’t know why, but. . . when I got there . . . when I got there he was dead. I didn’t see what happened, I don’t know for sure who killed him, but my driver called 911 and . . . and I planted one of the cigarette butts beside his body. Then I told the police that I had seen a man, one I couldn’t identify but that he’d had a cigarette. I wanted his DNA to be in the system.”
Mulder didn’t speak, but his eyes were wide, watching her. He wasn’t touching her. Was he cringing from her? No, she was projecting, but . . . she continued, she didn’t really have a choice. “There was no one I could talk to; I couldn’t admit what I’d done. Then John called me.”
“John? My brother-in-law?”
She nodded. “He was coming into the city for business and to check on the police’s progress in searching for you. He came to my place for dinner and, and I fell apart. I told him everything. He looked at the picture and we determined that there was no way to identify my parent’s home from the photo and I hadn’t been mentioned. Pete had agreed not to reveal his source to the papers, and apparently he kept his word, or didn’t have time. John took the picture and the last butt to take to his friends, the guys that were here. He said you’d worked with them and trusted them. I knew I could too.
“Then I went back to Father and I threatened him. I told him I knew everything and that I would go public. I told him I wanted you and Charlie back. Otherwise . . . When I got home, the smoking man was there, waiting for me. I told him the same thing, that I wanted you back, you and Charlie.
“You were returned the next night. The doctors thought you would, would die . . . That’s when I found out that you had worked with John and his friends.”
“I didn’t tell them - “
“I know. John was stunned when he realized I was the one . . . Mulder, you were suffering from weightless sickness. You had the same symptoms that you had talked to him about. He and I talked then. You would never have been taken if you’d stayed away from me. They probably wouldn’t have bothered you even after I remembered, if we had stayed away from each other. Then Pete wouldn’t have been murdered and you . . . I’m sorry,” she said quietly and started to move away.
“Wait. You threatened the smoking man to get me back?”
He looked stunned then. “The man’s dangerous.”
“Pete called him a ‘king maker’.”
“But why did you think - “
“That night, when you were taken, your super told me the power went off in your building, only your building in the whole neighborhood. When he went down to the basement to check the fuses, he said a huge truck must have gone by the building because it felt like an earthquake. Sound familiar?”
His expression was stunned. She started to stand then, move away from him to give him space, but he reached for her. “Don’t.”
“Are you sure you want to be near me?”
“After . . . “
“Yes. I need to process this, but I need you here to do that.”
“I, I feel safer with you here.”
Tears filled her eyes. “Safer?”
“I have a lot of things to process. I think I might be remembering already.”
Fear came into her eyes then, remembering the nightmare she had witnessed. He was remembering, but what would he remember. His experience . . .
“Don’t worry. I’m not planning a public announcement and I’m not sure what it is I’m remembering anyway. I’m back, I’m getting stronger and, and we’re together. I want to know what happened, but I want to do that with you.”
She lowered her eyes. It sounded like he meant it, but . . . “You should be resting.”
“Rest here with me.”
She met his eyes then. “In here?”
“Right here. I’m not in top shape, and I don’t want to disappoint you, but I do want to hold you. I want to be close to you. Later, when I’m all healed . . . when I’m healed I want . . . more.“
She actually blushed. She wouldn’t have been able to say she still could after the life she’d led, but this man made her blush.
“Go get ready for bed,” he said with a hint of a smile. “Put on something frumpy.”
“Yeah,” but he winked at her. She rolled her eyes, but moved out of the bed to go change. He caught her hand before she got out of reach and squeezed it. He watched her swallow, unsure, but stronger than she realized.
He watched her disappear into the bathroom then scooted down in the bed. Damn she was a feisty little thing. She had done all of that to get him back? He wouldn’t have believed it of the woman that came into his office just a few short months ago. He was pretty sure she had never put herself on the line for anyone before. What was the word she had used . . . flitted. Yes, that had described her then. Not anymore. Now, now they were going to face whatever this was together. He settled into the bed and was smiling when she joined him.
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Mulder, Scully, the Lone Gunman and Skinner all belong to Chris Carter, 10-13 and Fox. No infringement intended.