At first she didn’t know what had caught her attention, then it happened again. His hand twitched. She sat up, blinking. She hadn’t meant to fall asleep. His hand moved again. She hadn’t dreamed it. “Mulder? Mulder, can you hear me?”
Was she imagining it? Had he moved his head slightly toward her? “Mulder, wake up. I need to see your eyes. Can you do that?”
She didn’t imagine the tightening of his fingers around hers that time. It was weak, but it was there. His breathing was easier too, not nearly as labored as it had been when he’d first been taken off the respirator. His eyelids fluttered and she pressed the button for the nurse.
The nurse came in a hurry, and from the look on her face Dana knew she expected him to be gone. “Something’s happening. He seems to be waking up.”
“Excuse me?” the nurse moved to his side and checked his vitals. “I’m going to call the doctor,” she announced excitedly as she turned to the intercom
Dana nodded; her attention solely on him. “Mulder, come on. Look at me. Try to open your eyes.”
She saw his lids flutter again and finally open slightly. Her smile grew and he seemed to focus on her face. “Can you hear me?”
“Da . . . “ It was a whisper, maybe she had imagined it, but she didn’t think so. He knew who she was. Before she could continue the room began filling up with medical personnel.
“Miss Scully, if you would please step - “
She looked down as she felt his grip tighten on her hand. “I’ll stay out of your way, but I’m not leaving.” The doctor seemed about to say something, but instead nodded. She leaned down to whisper in his ear. “Did you hear that? I’m not leaving.”
He forced his eyes open and focused on her. She leaned in and kissed his lips. “I’ll be right here.” Not losing contact with him, she moved down to the foot of the bed and let her hands rest on his feet. Her lips curled up slightly in a secret smile when his toes wiggled under her fingers.
After the examination most of the people left, talking excitedly. The doctor turned to Dana. “I have no explanation. He appears to be completely stable. We’ll be running more tests, but you should let his family know.”
She nodded and as soon as he’d left the room, she hurried back up to the head of his bed. “Mulder?”
“What happ - ?”
“We’ll talk about that later, when you’re stronger. Right now I want you to rest while I call Samantha and get your family over here.” His hand came out to take her arm. His grip was weak, but she stopped.
“I, I heard you.”
He nodded. “I love you too.”
Her eyes widened and color stained her cheeks. He tugged on her hand and she leaned in closer. His lips gently brushed hers. “Call Samantha.”
She nodded and swallowed hard as she pulled her cell phone from her pocket. It was 3:30 in the morning, and she didn’t want to frighten them, but she knew they wouldn’t mind this call once they knew what it was about.
Samantha snatched up the receiver as though she’d been sleeping with it. “Dana?”
“It’s good news, Samantha. He’s awake, he recognized me. The doctor’s been here. You don’t need to come right away, but I thought you would all sleep better knowing he’s awake.”
Samantha didn’t speak; she couldn’t seem to get her breath. “Dana? What is it?” John had the phone.
“He’s awake. John, he’s better!”
“We’ll be there in an hour.”
“Take your time, John. We’re not going anywhere.” She looked back over at Mulder and smiled. He blinked, nodding ever so slightly.
Two days later he was already antsy. “I want to go home; at least I want to get out of here. There’s no place left for them to poke, literally, and I would like to preserve the little blood they’ve left me,” Mulder looked between the three women standing over him. “I’m fine.”
“You’re not strong enough to stay alone.”
“Why not? You know I’m not going to strain myself doing housework and food has always managed to find its way to my apartment. In fact, I’m willing to bet some of my delivery friends have probably put out missing persons bulletins themselves.”
“No. Not good enough,” Samantha barely let him finish. “You need someone to look after you. You can come and stay with us - “
“Thanks, but no. For one thing you don’t have room and you don’t have time with two babies. Besides, I need to be closer to work, because I’m going back to my practice before I lose it completely. Part time,” he added before she could start in on that.
Samantha met Dana’s eyes. “What do you think?”
“I think he’d be welcome to stay at my place and I could keep an eye on him and make sure that he eats and doesn’t work too hard.”
There were matching gleams, if not for the same reason, in Mulder and Samantha’s eyes. Teena gave a discrete cough. “Are you sure he wouldn’t be in the way?”
Mulder grinned at the blush on Dana’s face, but kept quiet.
“Yes, I’m sure.”
“You will remember he’s been ill . . . “ a ghost of a smile played across Teena’s face.
“Yes ma’am,” Dana said dutifully, but there was a twinkle in her eye as well.
“So, I’m going to be cut free?”
“We’ll talk to your doctor. Don’t get ahead of yourself,” Samantha said in a warning tone.
“The only problem I’m having now is female problems,” he groused but he didn’t seem too upset about it.
Samantha kissed his cheek and waited for her mother, then hugged Dana and left with one last warning look at her big brother.
“Are you leaving?” he asked Dana.
“Maybe after a while.”
“As much as I want you here, you’ve got to be exhausted. Go home, get some real rest.”
“Trying to get rid of me, huh? Is Molly on tonight?”
He grimaced; Molly was his least favorite nurse and she knew it. Molly cut him no slack. “Why do you think I want out of here? No, I’m worried about you. I know you haven’t slept a full night since I woke up and I get the impression you didn’t sleep that much while I was dozing.”
“Or while you were missing, but who’s counting?” she smiled at him, but his face was serious.
“You’re making my case. Dana, you need to look after yourself. I’ve got Molly to look after me.”
Finally she nodded. “I guess I could use a shower and make some room in the closet for you.”
“I’ll get to see inside the closet?” She rolled her eyes. He pulled her closer and gave her a kiss. “Go on, so you can come back. I think I’m already missing you.”
She chuckled and gave him one more kiss before turning toward the door. She didn’t see the smile slip from his face as she left the room.
Once she got home, to the privacy of her own place again without all of the family, she took a leisurely bath pampering herself. It had been wonderful having a place for Mulder’s family to stay, close to the hospital, and the children could have more room than in a hotel, but it was nice to be alone here for a little while. Of course, Mulder would be here soon, but he’d spent enough time here to feel ‘normal’.
Samantha had gotten the children’s beds put away, so Dana took a little time straighten up and put things back in their proper place. That didn’t take long and she found herself missing Mulder. She didn’t want to crowd him, but at least until he was back on his feet she wanted to stay close.
On impulse she dialed the number of the nurse’s station. A familiar voice answered. “Molly? Hi, it’s Dana. Is he doing okay?”
“I’m glad you called. He seems anxious; he can’t seem to settle down. He says he’s not in any pain, but something is bothering him.”
“I’ll be there in twenty minutes. Thanks.”
“It’s okay. We’ll keep an eye on him.”
She made it back in less than twenty minutes. He seemed startled when she opened the door. “I thought you were going to get some rest.”
“I seem to rest better here,” she moved toward the bed.
He looked her up and down, trying to read her.
“Do I smell better?”
“Not possible. I really do think you need some rest. I’m fine.”
“Yes, you are, and I enjoy seeing you that way. Has the doctor been by?”
“No, not yet.”
“Good, I want to talk to him about taking you home.”
“So you can have your way with me?” he wiggled his eyebrows at her.
“In your dreams.”
He nodded rapidly, causing her to laugh lightly. The thought had crossed her mind more than once. She settled in the chair at his side.
It wasn’t long before the doctor arrived. He read the chart and nodded his approval. “You’re looking very well, Dr. Mulder. I wish I could take credit for it, but I believe this lovely lady and the other two women who never left your side had more to do with it.”
Mulder looked over at Dana. “I think you’re right.”
“May I take him home?”
“I was expecting that question. He’s not ready to take up his regular schedule, but yes, I believe, if there’s someone to keep an eye on him, he could go home. I’ll check him one more time in the morning - “
“In the morning?” she questioned. “You usually are here around this time,” Dana smiled.
“Trying to catch me out, are you? Okay. If I can’t make rounds in the morning, I’ll take the information from the nurses.”
Dana’s smile was bright at that and Mulder leaned back knowing he was in good hands. They spoke a short while longer, going over his medications and restrictions. When the doctor was gone they brought Mulder’s dinner.
He opened the cover and grimaced. “I can eat solid food now and they bring me this?”
“Is this a plea for me to run downstairs and rescue you with some real food?”
“Would you?” he looked up at her and his puppy dog face caused her to laugh out loud.
“You are a dangerous man.”
“And a hungry one.” She rolled her eyes, but picked up her purse. “I’ll wait here.”
“You better,” she threatened and headed for the door.
She felt fairly anonymous in her jeans and her hair pulled back into a ponytail. At least no one had bothered her while she had spent so much time here. That’s one of the reasons she was so startled when a hand stopped her just outside of the cafeteria. She looked up into the unwelcome face of the smoking man.
“What are you doing here?”
“I came to check on your friend. I understand he’s back and healthy.”
“Why are - “
“That’s what you asked for, right? That he be returned to you.”
“I asked for Charlie as well.”
“We do what we can,” he pulled a cigarette out of the pack.
She pointed to the no smoking sign. “Leave us alone. I don’t want to hurt you and I don’t want you to hurt us.”
“A status quo?”
“Yes. If I have no reason to hurt you, I won’t. And I’ll give you no reason to hurt us.”
“I should take your word for that?”
“Yes. You already have my father in your service, you don’t need us.”
The older man’s eyes bored into hers. She managed to stand there without flinching. After a moment he nodded. “I imagine Dr. Mulder is getting hungry. I won’t keep you any longer.”
He seemed to melt away. She turned into the cafeteria and once the door closed behind her, she reached out and steadied herself with a chair. Now what?
“Lady, you okay?” a voice brought her back to the present. She blinked and looked up into the older man’s face.
“Uh, yes. Thank you.”
She managed to smile then. “I’m fine. Guess I’ve been here too long.”
“I know that feeling. You have to look after yourself too.”
She nodded her thanks as he moved away. Yes, and she needed to get back to Mulder. Maybe safety was only an illusion, but it was stronger when he was there. She quickly bought dinner for both of them and hurried back upstairs.
He immediately noted her change in attitude. “Okay, what happened? Did the paparazzi find you?”
“What? No, I was just thinking.”
“About how much trouble I’m going to be?”
She looked up at him startled. “No! What are you talking about?”
“Well, you seem anxious, concerned - “
Her finger touched his lips, shutting him up. “And nothing will make me feel better than to have you safe and sound in my home. How would you like to be a love slave?”
He grinned. “Do I get any recoop time?”
“Ahh, impatience, I like that,” he sobered then. “There’s a lot we need to talk about.”
She nodded and leaned in to kiss him. “Eat. You need to get that strength back, to defend yourself against my onslaught.”
“Yes ma’am.” He turned to his meal, but they both knew there were a lot of things left unsaid.
They stood waiting for the elevator to her apartment when one of the waitresses to the restaurant stuck her head out the door. “Hi, I thought I saw you pull in. Just wanted you to know that man that was staying here, the one with the beard, is up there.”
“John? I wonder if they forgot something. Thanks, JJ. It would have been a little scary to find someone up there.” The elevator came then and they stepped inside.
She put her key into the lock but before she could turn it, the door opened. It wasn’t John that opened the door. “Frohike?” Mulder blurted out.
Dana had backed up a step, into Mulder at the sight of the strange man.
“Yeah, sorry we surprised you.”
John came hurrying into the room then and stepped in front of the short man. “Dana, I’m sorry. I thought we’d be out of here before you got home.”
“Yeah, this is Melvin Frohike and that,” he pointed behind him, “is Ringo Langly.”
“Very nice, Mulder,” Frohike was giving her a leering once over.
“Geez, guys. I’m trying to make time with a wonderful woman and she finds out I know you.” He grinned and moved on into the apartment. “What are you doing here?”
“Yeah, about that,” John looked back over at Langly. “We were helping Dana with something - “
“Wait a minute,” Mulder lowered himself onto the couch, “you already know each other?”
“No, Dana hadn’t met them. They were kind of helping her find you.”
Mulder looked back over at Dana. She didn’t confirm or deny. They hadn’t talked about a lot of things. His brow furrowed, but he turned back to John.
“So, what are you doing here?” he finally asked.
“Uh, I found something when we were staying here and I wanted - “
“Found what?” she interrupted.
“A bug, a listening device. I wanted to make sure it was the only one.”
Mulder started to rise when her face lost color. Frohike was closer and took her arm. She allowed him to help her to the couch, where she took a seat beside Mulder.
“Someone was listening to me?”
“We’ve taken care of it. There was only one and it was out here, in the main room.”
“No way to know, Dana,” John answered. “It’s still working - ”
“What?” she jerked forward.
“Don’t worry. We’ve moved it, but it’s still transmitting. Let them figure out where it is.”
Mulder shook his head. “I guess I never realized the paparazzi went that far.” He caught the look that Dana and John exchanged.
“We need to get out of here, let you two get settled. If you need anything, call.” Dana rose then and walked them to the door. “You haven’t told him anything,” John whispered to Dana at the door.
“There hasn’t been a good time. Maybe now . . .”
“He needs to know.”
She seemed to deflate at that, but didn’t dispute it. She shook hands with Langly, then Frohike. He held her hand a bit longer than necessary, until John nudged him. “Come on, don’t make her hurt you.”
Dana gave a nervous chuckle then and watched as they walked to the elevator. She closed the door and leaned her forehead against it for a moment.
She straightened up. “You should get ready for bed. I promised that I wouldn’t let you overdo.”
“Let me sit here for a little while, Dana. I’ve been in bed for days. Come here, sit beside me.”
With a shy smile she complied. She sighed and leaned back, bringing their shoulders in contact.
“What are you thinking?” he asked softly.
He shook his head. “Just curious.”
“I was afraid we’d never be here together again.”
“You missed me?”
“Horribly.” She cuddled in as his arm went around her.
“Are you going to tell me what all that was about?” She stiffened and sat up. “Ah, so there is something to tell.”
“How much later?” His hand caressed her shoulder and arm.
He allowed the change of subject. “Yeah, a little.”
“You still have to eat light,” she cautioned as he grimaced. She rose then and ordered their meal from downstairs, ignoring his suggestions, finally turning her back to him so that she could finish placing their lunch order without laughing.
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Mulder, Scully, the Lone Gunman and Skinner all belong to Chris Carter, 10-13 and Fox. No infringement intended.