She tapped on the door and he hurried to answer it. “I saw your receptionist leave. I didn’t know if she knew I was coming.”
He smiled, “No, if Kimmie knew I’m not sure she’d have left. You look more relaxed.”
“Well, I’m keyed up but it’s anticipation instead of dread this time. If I can get to bottom of what’s going on - “
“Now Dana, I want you to realize this is just a start. This is not like television. We’re not going to find all the answers in 47 minutes plus commercials. We can’t even be sure you’ll go under this time.”
“Why not?” She had moved on into the room and turned to look at him.
“It’s a trust issue. We’ve only met a few of times. You’re going to have to submit yourself to me.”
She didn’t comment for a moment, but her cheeks pinked as she took in his words. “I, I understand. But can we get started?”
“We sure can. Have a seat. I do want to suggest that we tape this session. That way you can hear everything I hear, and I can listen to it again.”
She swallowed, but after a moment nodded. “Will you keep it private?”
“I swear. It won’t even be transcribed; just for us to listen to.”
“Where will you keep it?”
“In my briefcase, unless we’re listening to it. No one will get their hands on it. I promise.”
She took a deep breath and nodded. “Yes, tape it.”
“Thank you. I want you to take off your shoes, your belt. Put any restrictive jewelry, like that bracelet, in your pocket.”
“I don’t have a pocket. Here.” She removed it and her necklace and handed them to him.
“Uh, that stuff looks real. I’m not sure - “
“I trust you, remember?” she grinned.
He chuckled and emptied out his paperclip holder and put the jewelry in it. Then he had her sit back and recline the chair. He moved his chair closer and she turned to look at him.
He began in a soft lilting monotone. “I want you to look into my left eye and listen to my words. I want you to rotate your neck, three times in each direction. Now wiggle your toes and breathe deeply. Hold it, now release. Now I want you to start with your toes, relaxing them completely, and now your ankles. Relax your calves; let them sink into the fabric of the chair, heavy . . . heavy . . . too heavy to lift. Your knees, your thighs, you’re breathing nice and slow. Relax your pelvis, your hips. You’re relaxing . . . relaxing . . . and your eyes are getting heavier and heavier, you’re falling into a deep, deep sleep.” He spoke slowly, in that husky, honey-soaked voice. She shoved that aside and concentrated on his words.
Her breathing was slow and deep, and he could tell from the rapid eye movement that she was in a deep trance. He began slowly, “Dana, can you hear me?”
“Okay. I want you to let your mind drift. Let it go to a safe place, a place where you feel comfortable. Now you need to visualize a rubber band around your waist. If you get uncomfortable, that rubber band will bring you back to your safe place. All you have to do is let it bring you back. Do you understand?”
“Yes,” she said softly.
“Now I want you to go back, back to a happy memory when you were a child. Can you see it?”
She nodded again and a smile grew on her face.
“Tell me what you see.”
“It’s Christmas. I’m crawling under the tree and Charlie is helping me. We’re trying to be quiet, but Charlie keeps giggling. He’s just a kid.”
“How old is he?”
“Five.” Her smile dimmed. “It’s the last Christmas . . . “
“Is he happy?”
“Yes. We’re having fun. Father is in town and Mother let us help with the tree. Charlie is shaking the presents with his name on them and Mom is laughing.”
He let her savor the memory for a long moment, then softly continued. “I want you to move forward to that summer. Can you see that?”
He saw the sadness creep across her face. “Dana, what’s happening?”
“Mother and Father are fighting again. They fight all the time now. The men that work with Father keep coming over. They’re scary.” Her breathing was getting faster.
“Just relax. This is a memory, it can’t hurt you.”
Her breathing eased a little.
“I’d like you to move forward again. Move into the fall of that same year. Can you do that?”
There was a hitch in her breath now. “What’s happening, Dana?”
“He’s there. The worst one.”
“What do you mean, ‘the worst one’?”
“The smoker. He’s been locked up with Father for hours. Mother’s in there with them now. She’s yelling but I can’t understand what they’re saying.” She stiffened.
“He’s coming out. He’s seen us in the hall. Oh god, he’s ruffling Charlie’s hair and, and he’s reaching for - No!”
“Come back, Dana. Come back to your safe place. It’s okay. You’re safe. On the count of three, I’m going to wake you, and you’re going to remember everything you saw. One, coming up, two, relax, and three.”
Her eyes opened and she sank back into the chair. He started to rise and her hand shot out to stop him.
“I’m just going to get you some water. It’s okay.”
She nodded and let her eyes close. She opened them again when he returned and took the bottle of water he handed her. After she had taken a couple of sips she put it on the table beside her. “Th-thanks.”
“Just relax for now.”
“Did we get to my nightmare?”
“I don’t know, but you did go back. That’s a major break through.”
“I couldn’t finish.”
“You did great. I told you we wouldn’t get finished in one session.”
She managed a small smile at that.
“How do you feel?”
“It’s strange. I hadn’t thought about that Christmas in years, but you asked for a happy memory and it’s the first thing that came to me.”
“Where was your safe place?”
She looked down and he saw her cheeks grow pink. “Here.”
She nodded. “I feel safe here; like I can talk and it’s not going to go anywhere else.”
She visibly relaxed then. “When can we try again?”
He chuckled at that. “Well, if this time is okay, I’m free tomorrow evening.”
“Yes. I know you’re anxious. Do you feel okay to drive?”
“I’m fine, thanks.”
“Where did you park?” He watched her clasp her bracelet on and slip her feet into her shoes.
“In the deck.”
“Good, so did I.” He placed the small cassette into a pocket in his briefcase and snapped it close. “I’ll walk with you.”
His hand guided her out of the elevator, resting lightly on her lower back. She pointed to the right and he escorted her to the small black Lexus. He waited until she was inside and her engine started. After she pulled out he made his way to his Taurus and headed out.
The next evening when he opened the door, she held up a bag. “Since I’m sure you missed dinner for me last night, I thought I’d take care of that tonight.”
“Very nice,” he smiled and motioned her inside. “What am I eating?”
“Italian sub and salad. I hope that’s okay.”
She pulled out the sandwiches while he retrieved a couple of bottles of water. “Did you listen to yesterday’s session again?”
“I did. I’m hoping you can go back there again today. How were your dreams?”
Her smile dimmed at that. “I got some sleep.”
“Not a full night.”
“I haven’t had one of those in a long time,” she admitted.
He nodded. “We’re working on that.”
“And now I feel like we’ll get there. Napkin, please.” She turned to her sandwich.
When they had eaten she returned to the recliner and got comfortable. He went through the relaxation process until she was once again in a deep trance.
“Dana, I want you to go back to your childhood memory again, to the day we visited yesterday. Can we do that?”
“The man that was visiting your father; do you see him?”
“This is a memory, Dana. He cannot hurt you.”
Again she nodded and her breathing eased.
He continued, “He was touching Charlie.”
“Yes, then he patted me on the head. He’s the scariest person in the world. Even Father is afraid of him.”
Mulder frowned. Who was this guy? He had immediately wondered if the man had molested the children when she had reacted so dramatically to his touch in yesterday’s session, but her father shouldn’t fear the man.
“All right, he’s gone now. What’s happening?”
“Mother and Father are still fighting, but he’s forcing her to get ready.”
“Get ready for what?”
“They’re going to a party. Mother doesn’t want to go and she keeps crying, but he won’t change his mind. She comes into our play room and holds us, kissing us goodbye. She’s never done that before. Father is pulling her away. He’s handing her his handkerchief and won’t look at us.”
Mulder was frowning now. These people knew what was about to happen to their son. They were going to allow it. What the hell?
“They’re gone now. What are you doing?”
“We’re playing a game, and the TV is on in the background. Wait!”
“The lights have gone out. It’s dark and Charlie is scared.”
“Is your housekeeper coming?”
“The room’s shaking!”
He frowned at that. What would cause the room -
“There’s a light, out on the balcony. It’s bright, it’s too bright. It hurts - the doors blew open! They’re always locked! The light, it’s getting closer, it’s - Aaieee!”
He jerked back at her scream. She didn’t wait for him to bring her out this time. Her eyes flew open and she launched herself at him, clutching at him in terror. His arms automatically closed around her. She was whimpering, quivering in fear. He rocked her, giving her time. Her hysteria was full-blown, and coming under control took a long time. She was burrowed into his chest.
“Dana? Dana, can you hear me?”
She only tightened her hold on him.
“It’s a memory, Dana. Remember that. Nothing is here now but you and me.”
After a moment she nodded.
“Just breathe. You’re safe.”
After a few moments she took a deep breath and forced herself to sit up. Only then did she realize she was in his lap. She stiffened slightly.
She met his eyes, shaking her head as she moved back to the chair. He was loath to let go of her, but this was no weak woman. She wouldn’t have survived the life she’d lived if she were weak.
“Was it the man, the smoking man?”
“N-no.” A tear trailed down her face.
“Who was it?”
“I’m losing my mind.”
“No, you are not. You suffered a trauma in your past. It was a long time ago.”
She shook her head. “What I saw. I can’t - “
“What did you see?”
Her tears increased. “You won’t believe me.”
“Talk to me, Dana.”
She dashed her tears away. “I’ve never . . . it wasn’t human.”
“What wasn’t human?”
“The thing, the thing at the balcony. It was; I don’t know what it was.”
“You were a child, Dana. Could it have been someone in a mask?”
She shook her head. “No. How did it walk? The legs . . . and how did it get on the balcony of the third floor?”
“Can you draw it?”
“Maybe.” She answered reluctantly. Her hands were still shaking when he handed her the pad and pen. She quickly sketched what she had seen and handed it to him. He said nothing, just staring down at the pad.
“I am crazy.”
“No, you aren’t.”
“I just drew a, an alien!”
“First, I want you to calm down. You drew what you saw in your memory, a memory of a terrible time you had as a child.”
“You think I’ve imagined this?”
“No, no I do not,” he said firmly. “But I do think we’re through here for this evening. I don’t want to try to put you under again right now.”
She nodded, agreeing quickly.
“I have something I have to do tomorrow night, but the next night I can stay again. That gives you some time to recover, and for me to think about what I’ve heard.”
“You don’t think I’m crazy.”
He smiled gently then. “No, I don’t. And, I don’t think you should go anywhere tonight.”
“I’m going home and crawling under the covers.”
“We are getting closer.”
She shivered then. “That’s good, right?”
“I think knowing the facts are better than the imagination. The imagination is almost always worse.”
“Oh joy,” she leaned back, closing her eyes once more. Then she took a deep steadying breath. “I know you need to get home. I’m ready.”
Her smile wasn’t completely convincing, but she rose and slipped on her shoes.
He grabbed the second cassette and slipped it into his briefcase with the first one. She waited in silence as he locked the office and they walked to her car. “Dana, are you sure you’re able to drive?”
“Yes. I’m going straight home. I’ll see you day after tomorrow.”
“If you need to talk before then, call me.”
She didn’t meet his eyes, just slipping into her car. He stepped back as she reversed out of the parking space.
He rang the doorbell and heard the running feet. A smile grew on his face. The door was flung open. “Uncle Fox!”
He leaned over and picked up the little girl, hugging her. “Hi, Kiddo.” She squeezed his neck.
“I gotta show you something!” She squirmed down and ran toward the back of the house. Mulder shut the door and started after her. “Look!” She had her baby brother by the hand and he was taking a couple of toddling steps beside her.
“Well look at that,” Mulder chuckled. He looked up as his brother-in-law joined them.
“Yep, two walking. Ain’t it grand? Want a beer?”
“Sure. I’ll get them. Smells like Billy needs you.”
John glared at him as he took the boy. Mulder headed for the kitchen. He had two bottles of beer in his hand and was closing the refrigerator when Samantha came in.
“Well, if it isn’t my idiotic big brother,” she didn’t look happy.
“Hey, what did I do? John said I could have a beer.” He looked innocently startled, but she snorted at him. Instead of answering she moved over to the pile of newspapers for recycling. She pulled out a paper and slammed it down on the counter.
“Mystery stud seeing Scully heiress. Are you going to tell me that’s not you?” She pointed to the picture.
He moved closer to look as Chrissy raced into the room. She skidded to a stop at his side. “Daddy wants his beer. What’s a stud?”
He picked her up again. “I guess I am, Baby.” He winked at her. “That’s why they call me ‘Fox’.” He pretended to goose her and she giggled. “Tell Daddy I’ll bring his beer in a minute.”
She scrambled down and ran back to the living room. He felt a twinge of jealousy at her energy level, then he turned back to Samantha. “What is this?”
“I believe it’s you. Am I wrong?”
He studied the picture. “No, that’s me.”
“I thought you had better taste,” she sounded disgusted.
“I beg your pardon? In the first place, I’m not ‘seeing’ Dana Scully and in the second place, what would be wrong with it if I were?”
“She’s a party girl and not in your league. You’re worth three of her. I hate to see you wasting yourself. It’s time you thought about settling down.”
“Whoa, when did you turn into Mom?”
Samantha cut her eyes at him. “You know Mom and Dad want grandchildren.”
“You’re doing fine in that area. A girl named for Mom and boy named for Dad. I think that’s perfect. So what if they’re last name is Byers.”
“They want some ‘Mulder’ grandkids. And you are the last, you know.”
“You could have kept your name,” he countered.
“That’s not what we’re talking about. Fox, how did they get this picture? If you’re not seeing her - “
“I’m not seeing her ‘personally’. She’s a patient.”
“Since when do you walk your patients to their car with your hand on their back?”
“When the session runs late, they’re parked in a dark parking garage with a fully loaded Lexus and wearing jewelry that would pay my rent for a year. And the hand was manners. You seemed to appreciate it when you were hugely pregnant with Chrissy and slipped that time.”
She rolled her eyes. “So you’re not dating her.”
He looked down at the picture again and shook his head. “What kind of life is it that someone would trail her to a doctor’s appointment to take pictures of her?”
Samantha opened her mouth for a quick jab, then decided against it. The door opened and John joined them. “A guy could thirst to death out there.” He picked up his beer and handed the baby to Mulder. “Here you go, stud.”
Mulder glared at him. “I knew it was a mistake, introducing you to my sister.”
John chuckled and headed back out of the kitchen.
“Look, I need to make a phone call.”
“To the Scully heiress, I presume?” Samantha asked with a touch of snarkiness in her tone.
Mulder ignored the rib and answered, “Yeah. I doubt she’s seen this, but I need to let her know they’ve tracked her down.”
“Fox, don’t get involved with her. Money doesn’t keep her from being trash.” His expression caused her to look away. “Hurry, I don’t want dinner to get cold. Use the phone in the bedroom.”
He nodded and headed out, leaving the baby with John as he headed upstairs. He used the private number she had given him and she answered on the second ring.
“Hello?” she sounded tentative.
“Hi. It’s Fox Mulder.”
“Dr. Mulder? Are you calling to cancel - “
“No, not at all. I, I wanted to let you know that you were followed to my office. There’s, there’s a picture of us in the Tattler.”
“Yes. When I walked you to your car the first evening. There’s probably another one from last night.”
He heard her sigh. “I’m sorry.”
“Don’t apologize. It’s not your fault. I just wanted to warn you. I, I think maybe you shouldn’t come to my office. They’ll figure out what’s going on.”
“I see. Well, thank you for your - “
“You’re still my patient, Dana. If you trust me, I think we should meet somewhere else. I’m not giving up on helping you. I just don’t want you to be embarrassed.”
“You’re not . . . cutting me loose?”
“Absolutely not. I just didn’t want you to see the paper and think that I . . .”
“I trust you, Dr. Mulder. Remember?”
“Thank you. Is there some place you think would be safe to meet?”
“Yes. Why don’t you come to dinner at the Lever House; it’s on Park Avenue? There’s a back entrance to the apartments upstairs. I’m in 524.”
“Do I get to eat first?”
She chuckled. “I’ll have it delivered. Dr. Mulder, thank you.”
“See you tomorrow, 6:30?”
“Yes. See you then.” She broke the connection and he hung up, smiling. He returned downstairs in time to help Chrissy into her booster seat and take his seat beside her.
“Did you reach her?”
Mulder nodded, but added nothing, putting some vegetables on Chrissy’s plate.
After getting Billy settled Samantha turned back to Mulder. “Mom tried to call you.”
“I didn’t have a message.”
“You know she hates those things. She wanted you to know they’re staying in North Carolina a few more days. Aunt Grace is doing better but she still needs some help, and Dad has fallen in love with some golf course nearby.”
“I’ll give them a call when I get home tonight. You didn’t mention the, uh, picture, did you?”
“Hadn’t seen it yet.” She handed Billy his sippy cup and took a bite of her own meal.
“Good.” They all settled into the family dynamic, enjoying the meal.
Once the kids were in bed, after a story read by Uncle Fox, the adults relaxed in the family room. “What did she say?”
“Who?” Mulder asked innocently.
“Your slut de jour.”
“Samantha,” he shot her a warning glance and took a deep breath. “What is it about her that - “
“Come on, Fox. You aren’t living in a cave; you’ve seen the stories about her. The parties, the drinking, sex tapes - “
“There have been no sex tapes of Dana,” he interrupted.
“Well it’s only a matter of time. Her reputation - “
“Has been enhanced to sell papers. I’ve never seen you judgmental like this. What is it?”
“I know you can do better.
I want you to do better. You’re a wonderful man, Fox and you deserve a
family, a - “
“I’m not exactly over the hill, Samantha. Not to mention again that she’s a patient.”
“That won’t stop her, not if she wants you.”
Mulder looked over at John. “Do you know what set her off?”
“No, but I get the impression she really doesn’t like this woman.”
“I just want you to be careful. Don’t get ensnared by her.”
“I think I can keep my hormones in check, Sam, but I do appreciate your concern. Now, I need to get out of here. I’m way behind on my paperwork. Dinner was delicious as always.”
John waved as Samantha walked him to the door. “I’m sorry, Fox. I just don’t want you to get involved with . . . “
He kissed her cheek. “Don’t; I appreciate it, really. You can rest assured that Ms. Scully isn’t going to settle for someone like me.”
“Settle!” Samantha said, outraged. “She’d be lucky; you’d be the one settling.”
“My biggest fan,” he smiled down at her. “I’ll talk to you after I call Mom.” He let himself out.
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Mulder, Scully, the Lone Gunman and Skinner all belong to Chris Carter, 10-13 and Fox. No infringement intended.