“So you’ve got a patient who thinks they’ve seen an alien.” Frohike dapped at his cheek with a napkin. “And you don’t believe in such things.”
“No, I don’t.”
“Well, you’re not alone,” John agreed. “But there’s more and more evidence of something going on. What did your patient say that led you to us?”
“The description - it was so detailed. I automatically assumed it came from a book, but my patient was so . . . “
“What did he say?” Langly asked, reaching for another beer.
Mulder ran through the description. The guys nodded at intervals, but didn’t interrupt him. When he was through he sat back and lifted the beer bottle to his lips.
“How old was he when he witnessed this?”
“Does that matter?”
“Just wondered how long he repressed this.”
“A long time.”
“Okay. What did he tell people after it happened?”
“Didn’t wake up for three days. Coma.”
Now the other two sat up, excited. “Coma? Damn, that’s evidence. He said he was touched? That’s rare. Can you get the medical records?”
“Why? What would that do?”
“There are things we can look for; routine tests that make no sense.”
“I, I don’t know.”
“Look, we know you don’t believe. That’s cool, we don’t believe in a lot of things either, but if there’s physical evidence - “
“Of an alien abduction?”
“Can you get it, then get snide?”
“Sorry. I don’t know. I’ll see what I can do.”
She needed more information, damn it. She’d never investigated what had happened to her immediately following Charlie’s disappearance. No one had as far as she could remember. She was the physical evidence left behind, so why not?
Dr. Paul Moss had been her and Charlie’s doctor forever. Maybe he knew something. Now for an excuse to see him.
“Dana, it’s good to see you.”
“Thanks for squeezing me in, Dr. Paul. It looks like I might be headed for Brazil and I know my shots aren’t up to date.”
He shook his head indulgently. “You young people have so much energy. Let me get your file and see what shots you’re missing.” He pushed the intercom button and within minutes her file was on his desk.
“I’ve been coming here a long time.”
“Yes, you have,” he chuckled at some memory.
“It’s not a very large file.”
“You’ve been a very healthy girl.”
“Except for that time in the hospital,” she agreed. “Did anyone ever determine what caused the coma?”
He shook his head. “That was a terrible time. No, I’m sorry to say I never got a definitive answer about that. The tests were botched and by the time I realized it, you were awake and your parents desperately wanted you home. You were fine, so . . . “
“The tests were botched? I never heard that.”
“Yes, they were mixed with someone else’s or something.”
“Don’t think about it now, dear. It was a long time ago.” He was flipping through the papers and nodded. “Okay, I’ll get your injections. Wait here.”
“Thanks.” He left the room and she pounced on the file, flipping through it quickly. Botched tests? That made no sense. She found that section and quickly pulled the information from the file. She was just closing her bag when the door opened again.
“Okay, Dana, roll up your sleeve and you’ll be all set. Just be careful down in Brazil.”
“Tell your parents hello for me.”
“Will do, Dr. Paul. Thanks again for seeing me on such short notice.”
He gave her a quick hug, then she slipped out.
Once she was alone in her apartment, she locked up and hurried to her office. She booted up her computer, then pulled the papers she had taken from her medical file from her bag.
She read what she could while she waited to be logged on. Medical jargon wasn’t her thing, but . . . She fed the words into Google and waited. ‘Attendant reduction in the lymphocyte population’, ‘release of gluco-cordacoids’.
The computer wasn’t real helpful. She couldn’t read the jargon that brought up either. She needed help with this, someone with a medical degree. Immediately Dr. Mulder’s face was before her. No, he didn’t believe in any of this. There was no need to bother him.
Hell, why was she even bothering. He was a medical doctor, a psychiatrist. She read science fiction novels and flitted. She shut down the computer and stuffed the stolen pages into the drawer.
“Dr. Mulder, this one’s addressed personal and confidential.” Kimmie handed him an envelope as he returned from lunch.
“Interesting, no return address. Okay. When’s my next appointment?”
“Not until two.”
He nodded and headed for his private office, slitting the envelope with his finger. It was a heavy cream stationery, expensive. He pulled out the folded sheet and saw another piece of paper flutter to the floor. He stooped and picked it up - a check. Damn, a check from Dana.
“This should cover the charges for our sessions. Please forward the audio tapes registered mail.” An address was listed below. She’d paid for the three after hour sessions as well.
When he left the office that evening and headed for the subway, he was aware that his mood was darker than the situation warranted. She hadn’t called him and she hadn’t returned any of his calls for over a week. That hadn’t stopped his own investigation into this new idea. Aliens, part of him wanted to laugh at himself, but the information that John’s friends had supplied him . . . well maybe he wasn’t completely convinced, but . . . Something caught his eye as he passed the news stand and he stopped.
His eyes were drawn to the tabloid section and he grabbed up the one closest to him. Dana? It was her. He’d know that hair anywhere. He hadn’t seen her dressed like that and part of him was shamed at his reaction to it. She was a beautiful woman, but she hadn’t flaunted it like this in his office.
Was this what she was doing now to forget her nightmare?
“This ain’t no library, mister,” the middle aged man running the stand held out his hand for the paper.
“Sorry,” Mulder reached into his pocket and handed the guy a bill. “You know this club?”
“Oh yeah, I check it out every time I’m downtown,” he said sarcastically.
“Thanks,” Mulder took his change and headed down the steps to catch the train. Once seated he opened the paper and checked the story. She’d been partying hard apparently. He didn’t watch entertainment shows; maybe he should have. No wonder she hadn’t called.
When he got home he got on-line to check out the latest ‘celebrity’ updates. The tabloid was behind with their news. She’d been out every night, drinking and dancing. Damn it.
He fixed some dinner and picked at it, but couldn’t concentrate. He’d let her down. She’d said she didn’t care for partying.
To hell with it. He’d known he was going as soon as he’d seen the picture. He slipped into more casual clothes and headed downtown. Three of the last four nights she’d come here, including last night. It was a place to start.
He stood in the line outside the club for a short time. He wasn’t a regular, but apparently he was attractive enough for the guy manning the velvet rope to raise it and wave him in. He kept his opinion to himself and found a place at the bar.
The noise was overwhelming at first and the lights too glaring. For a moment he thought of the light she’d seen from the balcony door. It was a common phenomenon according to the research the guys had helped him dig up.
He was surprised at the women that hit on him. It looked like some of them could have him up on statutory rape charges if he took them up on it, even pedophilia in a couple of cases. He wasn’t interested. If Dana didn’t show up here, he’d have to try again tomorrow.
Almost as he had the thought there was a disturbance at the door. He turned in that direction, seeing the flash of photography and then some faces he recognized from his computer search. And there, that red hair . . . She had come. She already had a drink, she’d come inside with it. Maybe little things like legality didn’t matter in this crowd.
She left the drink on someone’s table and moved to the dance floor. He couldn’t recall the name of the man she was writhing around but it didn’t matter. He moved in that direction, watching her.
The outfit she was ‘wearing’ was for attention. It looked like there was probably a full foot of material in it. It was probably high fashion and no doubt expensive, but it wasn’t her. None of this was the woman he had worked with. He had to believe the one he knew was the real one.
He couldn’t get next to her; she was protected by the crowds so he stopped. “Dana.” He didn’t say it loud, didn’t call it over the music, but she turned anyway. Her eyes narrowed slightly and she moved toward him. She was dancing around him, rather than with him. He stood still, his eyes narrowed as she used him like a pole. That particular description was becoming more apt than he wanted to admit. “Stop this.”
She hesitated, then stopped and looked up at him.
She dropped her head and leaned against him. “Get me out of here.”
He didn’t wait for a second invitation, scooping her against him and heading for the entrance. There was some protest from her hangers-on, but they seemed to have been drinking even more heavily than she. Once they were outside, he tried to shield her from the paparazzi’s cameras and hurried into a cab.
“Where to?” the cabbie asked.
“Just get us out of here for now and lose the riff raff if you can.”
The driver grinned and nodded. Mulder turned back to Dana, who had sunk back into the seat.
“Here.” He slipped his leather jacket off and placed it around her.
“Thanks,” she whispered, but continued to look out the window.
He turned back to the driver and gave him an address. She didn’t even bother to ask where they were going.
When the cab pulled to a stop, Mulder opened the door and got out, holding out his hand for her. After a brief hesitation she took it and stepped out of the cab.
He paid and the cab took off before she spoke.
“Where are we?”
“My place. It’s not as nice as yours, but there’re no photographers around.”
She looked up at him but didn’t speak. He took her arm and led her to the elevator inside. She still didn’t speak, but stood passively at his side while he unlocked the door. He let her precede him inside and locked up again.
“What was that about?”
“What?” she asked, still looking around and, he was aware, avoiding him.
“I thought you didn’t care for the party scene.”
“You didn’t return my calls.”
“I thought you’d be relieved; one more crazy off your rolls. You can spend your time with the patients that have a chance of being cured.”
He just looked at her then, not speaking.
She moved on into his apartment, looking around. It looked like a nice place, small, but nice. “Who’s your decorator?”
“Is that what you want to talk about? Fine, my sister.”
“So what would you like to talk about?”
“Why were you at that club?”
She shrugged. “It’s familiar. I know what’s expected of me and what to expect of others.”
“What do you expect of others?”
“Absolutely nothing.” She faced him then.
“I called you.”
“I know. You got my check?”
“I never received the tapes.”
He turned then and opened the briefcase beside the table. He dug four tapes out of a pocket and dropped them on the table. “I did some research,” he said quietly as she turned away. “I learned a lot about the alien abduction phenomena. You aren’t alone. There’s actually quite a bit of information out there and what you saw is classic. There’s not a lot of physical evidence. People that experience it don’t always head straight to a doctor. There are things that do show up, physical changes, but - “
She was staring at him now. “You, you investigated . . . “
“I should never have dismissed what you were remembering like that. I know better. You caught me off guard.”
For a long moment she just stared at him, then she sank down onto his couch. “You believe me?”
“Do, do you remember me telling you that I was in a coma after Charlie was taken?”
“I went to see my doctor. He’s treated me since I was a child. I told him I needed shots for a trip. I asked about the coma and if he’d ever figured out why I was in one. He said the tests had been botched and by the time he knew it, I was awake. Father got me out of there and they weren’t redone.”
“I don’t - “
“When he was out of the office, I took the pages.”
“You have them?” The excitement in his voice caught her attention.
“I couldn’t figure out what they said. I went on-line - “
“The people I’ve been working with might be able to decipher it. If you could make copies, we could make sure all references to you are blacked out.”
“I let you down. I didn’t mean to and I want to fix it.”
For just an instant he thought he saw a yearning in her eyes, quickly hidden. “I’ll get a cab. I can bring it to you tomorrow.”
“We have more to talk about. Why don’t you get comfortable?”
“We won’t be interrupted.”
“I, I can’t get comfortable in this.” She gestured to her outfit.
“No, I guess you can’t.” His focus wasn’t on the dress.
“It’s not for getting comfortable. It’s for being seen.”
“Then it worked.”
Her head went up, her color rising. “A new designer wanted to get her name out there. She asked someone I know if I would wear it.”
“You don’t have to explain - “
“I know I don’t. I. . . “ she shook her head.
“Would you like to change out of it?” He held up his hand to forestall her protest. “You can borrow my robe.”
“Is it pink?” she asked, managing to keep her face straight.
“Plaid, gray and blue,” he responded with narrowed eyes. “It’ll look good on you.”
She rolled her eyes, but turned toward his bedroom. Once she was out of sight, he headed for the kitchen alcove and put on a pot of coffee.
He turned when he heard her return. The robe was way too large for her and hit her at the ankle. She had combed out her hair and washed her face. She looked years younger and a lot more relaxed.
“That smells good.”
“It’s not Kona Blue, but I like it.”
“I’m sure it’s fine.” She reached for the cup and took an appreciative sip. “It tastes like my Grandma.”
She grinned. “My mother’s mother. It reminds me of her. What kind is it?”
Her eyes widened. “That’s it! Somehow I thought you’d be a Starbucks kind of guy.”
“I grew up with Maxwell House. Come on, have a seat. Tell me what you found.”
They talked for a long time. He started to ask yet another question when he saw her stifle a yawn. “Have you been sleeping?”
“But the nightmares didn’t go away.”
“Stay here tonight.” She blinked. “Like the other night. You can have the bed. I’ll sleep out here. You need some rest; some real rest.”
“I suppose . . . “
“You’ll be safe here.”
She looked him straight in the eye for a long moment. Finally she nodded. He realized he’d been holding his breath and let it out with a chuckle. “Let me get ready for bed, then you can have the room.”
He winked at her and went to get ready.
Her eyes appraised him appreciatively when he returned wearing jogging shorts and an old t-shirt with a hole near the hem. “I think everything you’ll need is in there. Just yell if you can’t find something.”
It looked like she was going to speak, but instead she turned away and shut the bedroom door behind her.
He stretched out and picked up a book.
The nightmare jolted her awake. It wasn’t as bad as some she’d had, but she knew she couldn’t get back to sleep. She rose from the bed and wrapped his robe back around her. He’d taken the time to look into her story. He hadn’t dropped her and he hadn’t released the tapes to the public.
She opened the bedroom door from the bedroom quietly and spotted him asleep on the couch. There was a book on the floor beside him. He was on his back, one arm up over his head, the other across his chest. He looked so peaceful.
The impulse was strong. Maybe if she hadn’t still had alcohol in her system she would have tried harder to control it. Hell, she wasn’t his patient anymore and even he said she needed her sleep.
She quietly joined him on the couch, cuddling into his side. His arm came around her and he settled further back on the couch with a soft grunt, giving her room. She smiled and let her eyes close.
He woke the next morning to find himself nuzzling her hair. What the - oh shit. “Dana?”
She muttered a sleepy protest for a moment, then woke, realizing where she was. “Uh, Dr. Mulder.”
“What’re you doing out here?” He didn’t sound friendly, his voice rough with sleep.
“I had the nightmare. I, I wanted to sleep.”
He had extricated himself by now and was standing over her. Her eyes scanned down and he saw them widen. He turned abruptly and headed for the bedroom.
When he returned, dressed in jeans and t-shirt, she had the coffee made. She turned and looked up at him. “I’m sorry. Please don’t be mad at me.”
“I’m more angry with myself. That was totally unprofessional and - “
“You’re not my doctor anymore. Remember, I fired you and I’m paid in full, unless you’re planning to charge me for last night’s session. You don’t have to be professional. I, I thought we were friends.”
“We are friends, but I still shouldn’t have slept with you in my arms.”
“I’ll need some instruction on that. I’ve never had a friend; not a real one. What would we do together?” She handed him a cup of coffee fixed as he liked it and took up her own. She followed him back to the couch.
“Are you kidding, about
what friends do?”
“Not really, not as much as I’d like to be. What do friends do together?”
“Well, you hang out together, go to the movies, eat, things like that.”
“But you and I couldn’t do that, could we? I mean, if we did you’d be all over the tabloids and . . . “
“Where could you and I go, besides here and my place that we wouldn’t be followed?”
“I know a place,” he grinned.
“Wait a minute; did I just rope you into asking me out?” She looked appalled.
“No, and it’s not a date. Friends can just be together. I think you’d enjoy what I have in mind.”
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Mulder, Scully, the Lone Gunman and Skinner all belong to Chris Carter, 10-13 and Fox. No infringement intended.