Root of All Evil - Part 1
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 facade."
"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.
Root of All Evil - Part 2
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 their 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.
Root of All Evil - Part 3
He entered the restaurant and waited for the hostess to approach. "I'm meeting someone. I'm Dr. Mulder."
"Of course, sir; this way." She led him toward the back. "This is for you." She handed him a box, then led him to another door. "There's an elevator through there sir. Go to the fifth floor."
"What do I owe - "
"It's taken care of, sir."
"Thank you." He nodded to her and let himself out the back door. If anyone noticed, it wasn't going to concern him.
Once he reached the fifth floor, he spotted the apartment and moved to the door. His knock was answered swiftly. "Ah, I see you brought dinner this time." She took the box from him and led him toward the kitchen.
He glanced around. "This place is great. I didn't even realize there were apartments up here."
"That's part of the charm. It's my "˜Fortress of Solitude'."
His eyes lit up. "You know Superman?"
"Of course. I read him as a kid. Want the tour?"
"Well this is most of it. The kitchen and great room make it open, which I really like."
He nodded, agreeing.
"The master suite is back here." She led the way to a spacious bedroom with seating area, decorated in tones of green and lavender with dark cherry furniture. It was a large enough room not to be overwhelmed by the four poster bed. "You're not going to see the closet. Don't ask."
He chuckled. "Fair enough. I wouldn't want you to see mine either; but probably for different reasons."
She grinned and led him back to the short hall. "I turned the second bedroom into an office. It makes me feel like a grown up to have a place to keep my life organized. It doesn't really work, but it gives me hope."
He followed her into the office. He's expected delicate furniture in here, a lady's desk or something, but he was surprised to see a large desk and a wall of bookcases. He stepped closer to see the books. Not what he was expecting either. She had an eclectic collection of well-worn classics, best sellers, and more surprising, science fiction novels and psychic phenomena studies.
"You have a wide variety of interests," he mused.
"I guess I do. I'm not sure why these appeal to me, maybe it's because Mother didn't want me to read them, like the Superman comics, but I couldn't stay away."
"What about fantasy novels, swords and dragons?"
"I've read them, some of them are quite good, but I'm drawn to the hard sciences like Niven."
"End of the world novels?" He pulled On the Beach from the shelf.
"Yes, end of the world and the day after, The Hammer of God and Dies the Fire."
"Okay, I admit that surprises me."
"You expected me to read romance novels or maybe just fashion magazines?" But she didn't sound offended.
"Hardly. You're not your reputation or your press clippings. It took me less than five minutes to recognize that."
"Thank you." She looked away from him, though he could see the color in her cheeks. "Well, I need to heat up dinner. They told me 45 seconds in the microwave and everything would be perfect. No cracks about my cooking."
"Forty-five seconds in the microwave is exactly like my cooking, so you'll get no cracks from me." He followed her into the kitchen.
He set the table as she heated their meal, filet with asparagus and bliss potatoes. "Okay, I take it back. My microwave has never seen anything like this and would probably short out if I put it in there." He admired the plate she sat before him.
"I have wine, but since we're going to be working . . . "
"Probably not a good idea."
"I have a variety of waters and iced tea."
"Tea would be great. You know you're spoiling me," he called after her as she headed for the refrigerator.
"Spoiling myself too. You're the first person I've ever invited here."
He stopped with the fork halfway to his mouth. "I'm - "
"Fortress of Solitude, remember?"
"Do you live here or . . . "
"Both. This is my private space and the house with Mother and Father is my "˜social' setting. I stay over there a couple of nights a week; more if Father's out of town. I don't like Mother to be alone."
"She . . . she takes medication," Dana looked down at her plate. "Sometimes too much medication and she forgets and . . . "
She shrugged. "It's normal to me, like so many things."
"Well, I'm honored to be the first to visit the Fortress."
"Go ahead and eat. You don't want it to get cold and have to be re-nuked."
"Yes ma'am." He cut into his steak and took a bite. His smile grew and she took a bite herself.
She made coffee after dinner and they moved into the living room section of the great room. "I guess we need to get down to business."
Mulder nodded and drew a chair closer to the couch. He placed a cushion on the coffee table and she slipped off her shoes and put her feet on it. "This is just like at the office. We're going to do the same relaxing and return to that night, okay? May I touch you?"
"Your hands, may I hold your hands during the session? I don't want you to be frightened by these memories."
"I . . . thank you."
He nodded and repeated the post-hypnotic trigger they used, taking her back to that night. "Dana, I want you to watch this memory clinically this time, in slow motion. I want you to stay calm, nothing here can hurt you."
"The lights are out. Charlie is screaming my name. The room, it's starting to shake. Things on the shelves are falling over; books are falling to the floor."
"What can you see?"
"The light, the light outside of the balcony doors. The doors, they're flying open. The light hurts it's so bright."
"Do you see anything else?"
"The creature. It's, it's coming inside."
"Can you describe it to me?"
Her hands twitched and he took hold of one of them. "It's tall and too thin. I don't know how it's walking, the joints are wrong. It should topple over. The head is oversize with no hair anywhere; it's nude but it has no genitalia. Its eyes are huge and black. It doesn't blink."
"Charlie!" She grabbed for Mulder with her other hand as well.
"This is a memory, Dana. Just relax." Her grip loosened, but she didn't let go.
"He's, he's floating. It's impossible but he's just hovering. Now, now he's moving slowly toward the window. I feel, it's strange, I'm light, like I'm going to float too."
The word weightless was on his lips, but he stopped himself. That was leading, besides none of this was what really happened. This was a memory, a metaphor. Otherwise he'd have to believe in aliens.
"I can hear it, but it isn't speaking."
"What do you hear?"
"It's talking to me, in my mind."
"What is it saying?"
"Not to be afraid. He'll be returned. Now it's holding out its hand. It, he only has four fingers and his skin is, is leathery, pebbly and gray." Her grip tightened again. "He's going to touch - cold!"
She jerked back and the trance was broken; her wide blue eyes met his in fear. "It's black, blank." She was hyperventilating and he pulled her to him again. She came willingly, holding him tightly.
His hand caressed her back and after a few minutes she began to relax.
"Slow your breathing, Dana. You're safe."
She buried her face in his neck for a moment, then seemed to realize it and straightened up, moving back to the couch. "I'm sorry."
"Do you remember what happened when the housekeeper got there?"
She shook her head. "Apparently I was unconscious. I woke up in the hospital three days later."
"Were you okay?"
"I was in an unexplained coma. Everyone said it was trauma, from seeing my brother taken." She finally met his eyes. "Little did they know, huh?" Her voice was bitter now.
"Dana - "
"I think I know what my nightmare is now."
He squeezed her hand and let her sit clutching it for a long moment. Suddenly her head came up, her eyes wide. "Father! He was; he was involved!"
Mulder had already reached that conclusion after the last session, but the horror in her eyes was unfeigned. "Dana - "
"That's what they were fighting about. It's what the smoking man was there about. And he still sees him!"
"Dana, please - "
"How could he do that? No wonder there was no ransom note. Father knew all along what had happened. And Mother's pills and drinking. Oh god! How stupid could I be?"
"You're not stupid, Dana. You were a child."
"I haven't been a "˜child' for far too long. You should go now. I'll be fine." Her voice was distant, detached.
"Why don't you put your feet up for a little while? I'm not in a hurry." He wasn't sure she heard him. "Do you have any brandy?"
She waved in the direction of the kitchen. He rose from his seat and headed that way. He found the liquor cabinet and a snifter, pouring her a generous amount. She wouldn't be going anywhere tonight. "Here, sip this."
"Will it help?" she sounded brittle.
"In the long run, no. It's for shock."
She made no comment to that, but took the glass from him and took a sip.
"Put your feet up; close your eyes for a few minutes."
"What are you going to do?"
"Uh, I'll clean up the kitchen."
Her eyebrow rose.
"That looked like a challenge. Go ahead, close your eyes for a few minutes."
"You really don't have to - "
"I know I don't. Think about it; I would never let you leave my office so upset, so I'll stay here until you feel a little better."
After a moment she nodded and stretched out on the couch. He draped the throw from the back of the couch over her and headed for the kitchen. He was aware she was watching him for a few minutes, but eventually he noted that her eyes had closed. He carried the plates to the sink and loaded the dishwasher after putting the few leftovers away.
When he had finished in the kitchen he moved quietly to the office in order not to disturb her. He looked over the books again. Her description of the, the alien was so detailed. He wasn't used to that in hypnosis unless it was a true description. Right, an alien had taken Charlie Scully. That caused a grim smile. On the other hand, she hadn't read these books before she was ten and the "˜aliens' in Superman were more human looking than humans. He had personally enjoyed Supergirl's costume quite a bit when he was younger.
He was jolted by the cry from the great room.
"No! No, Charlie, no!"
He rushed to her side. She was crying and shaking under the light afghan. "Dana, wake up." She didn't hear him, so he placed his hand on her shoulder.
She jerked upright, panicked.
"You're safe, Dana, you're safe."
She still didn't seem to hear him, so he drew her to him. That seemed to get through to her and she clutched at him. He held her against him, massaging her back as she calmed slightly.
After a few minutes she pulled back and he searched her face. She wouldn't meet his eyes. "You can go now."
"I'm in no hurry."
"I have to leave."
"You're not going anywhere."
She rose from the couch then and stared up at him with all the haughtiness of her millions behind her. "I beg your pardon?"
"I gave you a generous dose of brandy, you shouldn't - "
"According to the tabloids, I have a prodigious capacity for alcohol - "
"Fuck the tabloids, Dana!"
She jerked back startled at his venomous retort.
"You are not that woman. You know it, I know it, so stop it. What you want to do is go confront your father."
She looked away but didn't dispute it.
"You can't. Dana, look at me. That's the last thing you should do right now. You're upset and confused and angry. You can't go to him."
"Why the hell not! Finally I know and - "
"You don't know, neither of us does. And if we are right, it's a secret that they've kept for fifteen years. It could be dangerous to go to them, demand information and accuse them."
"What do you mean, dangerous?" At least he had her attention now.
"I mean "˜dangerous', as in not safe. I don't want to think your father would harm you, but that smoking man; what about him if he finds out you're having these memories?"
"He, he wouldn't - "
"How can you be sure? Tonight is just not a good time to do this. Can you hear me? Right now the only thing you should do it go to bed."
"And have another nightmare."
"You should try anyway. Go on." He watched her shoulders slump.
"Let me lock up."
"No, go on to bed."
"What about you?"
"I, I can crash here." Had he really said that? He could lose his license. All she had to say was that he had been inappropriate. He shouldn't even be in her home. What was wrong with him?
"You want to sleep on my couch?" She sounded confused.
He could back out now, no harm, no foul. Instead he heard himself say, "Yeah. It'll be okay. Go on."
"Don't you trust me?"
"I trust you, I wouldn't think of sleeping on your couch if I didn't, but I want to be here in case you change your mind. Go on."
She stared at him for a long moment. "There's, there's stuff in the second bathroom."
She hesitated a moment longer, then turned away. "I, I . . . thank you. I'll get you a robe."
"One of yours? Pink?" he decided to try for a lighter note. The tone of her whispered thank you had caught him off guard.
She did turn back then, disdain dripping from her demeanor. "I'm a natural red head. I don't do pink."
He couldn't hold back the chuckle. "Thank you; I'd be honor to borrow a robe."
The night was surprisingly calm after that. If she did have another nightmare, she didn't wake herself or him.
He joined her in the kitchen the next morning and she waved for him to take a seat at the bar while she poured coffee. "I don't have a lot here, but I do have bagels."
"That would be great. I usually only have coffee on the way to the office."
"You're worse than I am. Listen, I need to know how to find out more about these things that took Charlie."
He looked up, startled. "Wha- I uh . . . "
She stopped on her way to refill her cup. "The aliens. Do you know where I can research - "
"Dana, that was a metaphor."
"I don't think you should take the, the "˜aliens' as - "
"You don't believe me."
"I believe when you were regressed, you saw something that covered the evil of the situation," he replied carefully.
"That level of detail? I saw that."
"I know you did, but - "
"But you think I imagined it because I couldn't face the truth," her voice filled with a tinge of coolness.
"Not imagined, exactly. Dana . . . "
"That's okay. I get it. You think I've been reading too many science fiction novels."
He blinked then; yeah that was exactly what he'd been thinking. "Dana - "
"I understand. Thank you for your help in getting to my past. I'll send you a check for your time."
"That's not - "
"You better get going if you're going to get to work on time," her voice was cool, business-like.
Damn, had he handled that wrong. "I think we need to - "
"No thank you." She moved to the door and opened it. "The elevator goes to the parking garage when you go to the lower level, beneath the restaurant."
"Dana - " She was focused on his chest and wouldn't meet his eyes.
He took a deep breath and allowed her to see him out. The door closed firmly behind him.
His patient gone, Mulder headed for the reception desk. "Any calls?" he asked, hopefully casually.
"Calls? Uh, no."
"No calls? All morning?"
"Well, yes, we've had calls. Two from insurance companies, a couple for appointments, but no personal calls. Is that what you meant?"
"Yeah. So, how's the week looking?"
She eyed him suspiciously. "Pretty good. Besides the
regulars, you have two newbies; one on Thursday and one on Friday."
He nodded. "Let's see."
Without a word, she turned the book around. If he wanted to act oddly, he was the boss.
"Yeah, that looks good. Thanks. You going to lunch now?"
"Unless you need something . . . "
"No, I'm fine. Have a good one." He turned away, missing her appraisal before pulling her purse from the drawer.
He let himself back into his private office. She hadn't called; hadn't returned his calls. He'd really blown it this morning. He'd been caught off guard. No, he didn't believe in aliens from outer space. On the other hand, he'd never given it all that much thought. On impulse he grabbed up the phone and dialed.
"John? You got a minute?"
"Sure, what's up?"
"Are you still in touch with those geeky friends of yours - the conspiracy nuts."
"Langly and Frohike? Sure, why? You drumming up business?"
He forced a laugh. "I just wanted to ask them a couple of questions."
"Okay. You free tonight?"
"I've been kicked out of the house. Sam has some friends coming over."
"Something like that. Let me give them a call."
Mulder smiled as he and John waited for the locks on the door to be disengaged. He wouldn't have gotten in alone, even carrying the beer.
The blond one stood in front of them when the door finally opened. "So the stiff wants an audience."
"Be nice, Langly," John cautioned him. "He paid for the pizza and beer."
Langly smirked and opened the door wider to let them enter.
Root of All Evil - Part 4
"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."
Root of All Evil - Part 5
"Are you sure this is okay?" She looked over at him again as he parked in front of a well-lit house.
"Yes. I told them I was bringing a friend."
"But did you tell them it was me?" she insisted.
"I told them a lady friend. Okay?"
"No," she wailed. "I'll ruin it."
"How can you ruin it? We're just here for dinner. She'll still be my sister; the kids will still expect to climb all over me. Relax, Dana."
She closed her eyes, shaking her head.
"Come on." He exited the car and moved around it to open her door. She already had it open, so he took her hand. "Breathe."
She glared at him, but complied and they walked hand in hand to the door.
It was Samantha who opened the door. She'd obviously been watching and Mulder could see she was less than pleased when she recognized the diminutive woman at his side.
"Sam," he stopped on the porch, "I'd like you to meet Dana Scully."
"Ms. Scully," Samantha held out her hand. There was coolness to her tone that caused Mulder's eyes to narrow.
"Please, call me Dana." Samantha nodded and stepped back, giving them access. Mulder shot her a warning look, but she seemed to ignore it. There was an uneasy silence until Chrissy raced into the foyer.
"Uncle Fox!" She skidded to a halt when she saw the woman beside him and immediately ducked behind Samantha's legs.
"Chrissy, come here. There's someone I want you to meet."
She cautiously looked out and when she saw Mulder's arms opened to take her, she rushed into them. He picked her up and settled her on his hip. "This is a friend of mine, Chrissy. Her name is Dana. Can you say hello?"
"Hi," she said quickly and ducked her head into Mulder's neck.
"Hi. Mulder's told me a lot about you. You're his best girl, aren't you?" At that the little girl looked up and smiled, nodding. "You look like him, with those lovely eyes."
John joined them then, carrying Billy. "Are you going to stand in the entry all night? Hi, I'm John and this is Billy."
"Pleased to meet you." She shook John's hand. "Billy, hello. Aren't you the fellow that Chrissy taught how to walk?"
"I did!" Chrissy was now scrambling out of Mulder's arms. "Wanna see?"
"Yes, please," Dana smiled at Chrissy. John dutifully put the boy on his feet and Chrissy took one of his hands. "See, he's gettin' real good at it."
"He's going to be running in just a few days. You did a great job," Dana agreed with the girl. Chrissy beamed at her.
"Take his other hand, he can walk faster then." Dana did as she was bade, and the three of them moved toward the family room. John looked between brother and sister and decided to follow them.
"What is your problem?" Mulder hissed at Samantha so that no one could hear.
"Now I know why you didn't tell me who your "˜friend' was," she retorted just as angry. "I don't want people like her here. She's trash, Fox, expensive trash."
"Fine, we're out of there." He started to follow the others when Samantha took hold of his sleeve.
"No, don't cause a scene."
"Me?" he gaped at her.
"Just, just eat. We'll get through the evening."
"I don't want to just "˜get through the evening'. Dana is a friend of mine and if you can't treat her as such, I'm not putting her through it."
"Why did you bring her here?"
"Because there's no place we can go and just relax and be with people that don't judge her, or want to use her for something. I thought she'd be safe here."
Samantha stepped back from his vehement whisper. "Fine, come on."
"Will you be civil?"
Samantha ignored him and headed for the family room. Dana was on the floor with the kids, being shown toys and keeping a hand out for Billy's support if he needed it. She smiled up as the two joined them. "They're precious. I'd forgotten what it was like to be around children."
"They can be handful," John said with a smile as he nodded.
"But so worth it. I'm remembering when Charlie was just a baby." She smiled at some happy memory and Mulder relaxed slightly.
"Who's Charlie?" Chrissy touched her arm and took a seat beside her on the floor.
"My little brother. I haven't seen him in a long time."
"He went away. Maybe I'll see him again someday. I'd like to."
Chrissy nodded and picked up a ball that had gotten away from Billy, handing it back to him.
"I'll, uh, I'll get dinner on the table," Samantha spoke abruptly.
Dana looked up. "May I help? I can't cook," she laughed, "but I pour a mean glass of water or tea."
"Oh, uh, everything's done, really."
"Okay." Dana turned back to the children. Mulder shot Samantha a wary look and she sighed.
"Well, if you don't mind, you could get the ice for the glasses while I take up the roast."
"I'd be happy to. I probably can't mess that up, but we'll see." With a wink and smile, Mulder reached down and took her hand as he helped her to her feet. Samantha turned away, with a resigned sigh and headed to the kitchen.
"She can be a slave driver, Dana. If you need any help, you call me."
"I think I can manage on my own, but thanks." She followed Samantha to the other room.
"The glasses are on the counter," Samantha offered, motioning with a tilt of her chin.
Dana made no move toward them. "I'm sorry I was a surprise. Mulder thought this would be a place we could just be normal. We're not dating, but we are becoming friends."
"That's what he told me."
"And that concerns you," Dana sighed.
"Fox is an adult. His choices are his own."
"Well, you don't have to worry about anything. He's much too good for me and I know it. He's just being a friend to me, teaching me how to be a friend. I'll make sure not to surprise you with any future visits."
"That's not - "
"It's okay. Let's just not upset your brother. He's a very good guy."
"Yes, he is. I don't want him hurt."
"You don't have to worry about that from me. I'm not going to be in a position to hurt him, but even if I were, that's the last thing I would do."
Samantha thought about that for a long moment. "I'm not sure you're right about that, but I appreciate you saying it."
Dana forced a smile and moved toward the refrigerator. She filled the glasses while Samantha took up dinner in silence.
Finally Mulder couldn't stay away and joined them with Chrissy in tow. "Hi, what's taking so long?"
"Just waiting for the rolls to brown. Why don't you get Billy in his high chair?"
Mulder hesitated for a moment, but neither woman spoke, so he turned back to the dining room. When they were all there, Chrissy started to take her regular seat beside Mulder. "Uh, Chrissy, why don't you let Dana - "
"No. If that's Chrissy's usual seat, I'll just sit over here with Billy."
"That might not be a great idea," John stopped her. "Why don't you sit here?" He held his chair at the head of the table.
"Nonsense, I want to sit across from Chrissy and next to Billy. I don't get the opportunity to enjoy kids very often." John shrugged and held the chair as she slipped into it.
"You can send us the dry cleaning bill," he added with a chuckle.
She smiled and slipped the napkin into her lap. Mulder helped Chrissy fill her plate and everyone dug in.
Chrissy looked up at Dana after she'd eaten a few bites. "Are you Uncle Fox's girlfriend?"
"Chrissy - " Samantha immediately started to chastise the child.
"Well, I'm a girl," Dana agreed.
"And she's definitely my friend," Mulder joined in.
"No, that's not what I mean." Chrissy rolled her eyes at her uncle. She turned back to Dana. "Do you kiss him?"
"Uh, no, I haven't," Dana responded with a blush.
"You should." Chrissy nodded to herself as she took a carrot onto her spoon. "Momma says he's a hunk."
John's coughing didn't quite cover the laugh. Mulder glared at him. "Chrissy, that's grown up stuff."
"I know, but I can tell you really like her. You should kiss her too."
Mulder closed his eyes. He wasn't going to win this one. Finally he opened his eyes to see Dana smiling, though her color was now a bright pink. "I'll get back to you, okay?"
"Okay," Chrissy agreed and focused on her meal. Billy decided to join in then, offering Dana a mushy carrot.
"Thank you," she said seriously as she took it from him. She pretended to put it in her mouth and he laughed. "Now the question is, does he like me enough to share or does he not like carrots and this was a way to get rid of one?"
"He loves carrots, so I'd say you're in with both the kids," John chuckled.
Mulder looked over at Samantha. She was taking another sip of wine and not joining the conversation. His mood dipped a notch but he was pleased to see that Dana was handling herself well.
In fact it was her charm that kept the conversation going. She and John were getting along well and Chrissy kept things lively. Samantha joined in just enough not to be rude.
Everyone helped with taking the dishes back to the kitchen and Mulder was getting ready to offer to fill the dishwasher when Chrissy grabbed his hand. "Will you read to me?"
"Sure. Go get on your pj's and I'll be right up."
Mulder looked up at Dana. She smiled. "I'd love to."
Chrissy led them upstairs and to her room. She climbed into bed and handed Mulder Goodnight Moon, her favorite. He read it and then gave her a kiss.
"One more, please!"
Dana watched him, trying not to smile.
Mulder gave her a warning look. "Just one more."
Chrissy smiled. "Let Dana pick."
"Me? Well," she looked over at the bookcase. "I always liked this one." She picked up In the Night Kitchen and handed it to Mulder.
Once he had finished he gave Chrissy another hug, then to Dana's surprise threw her arms around Dana's neck as well. Dana returned the hug and Mulder saw her blink back tears at the gesture.
After that they spent more and more time together. They avoided the clubs, instead frequenting the small hole-in-the-wall pizza parlors and movie theaters. They also spent a lot of evenings at each others' apartment, eating in and watching videos, and as they became familiar with each other, making out on the couch became a favorite pastime.
They hadn't moved into the bedroom yet and Dana was a little concerned that he hadn't pushed for more. Maybe it was because he had been her doctor, and maybe that was the reason she hadn't pushed for more herself.
On the other hand, it was nice taking it slow; nice that he wasn't pressuring her. They were friends; she was learning that and her trust of him increased daily. He really seemed to enjoy just being with her, not asking anything of her but her company. They had conversations about everything, from aliens to Shakespeare. His education had been on par with hers, prep schools, college and medical school at Duke. The difference was he hadn't wasted his, getting the most from his scholarships and fellowships, and graduating at the top of his class.
As they grew to know each other, she found her confidence growing both with him and in herself. That was definitely a new feeling and she relished it. He believed she was a strong, capable woman. With him she believed it as well. For the first time she felt as sure of his feelings for her when they were apart as when they were together.
The smell of smoke caught her attention. Mrs. Church had opened the door for the visitor, but Dana moved to the top of the stairs to see who it was.
It was him, the smoking man. Dana carefully slipped her phone from her pocket and snapped a couple of pictures of him. Then she put the phone back and started down the stairs.
"Thank you, Mrs. Church." The older woman nodded and left them alone. Dana looked up at the man. "May I help you?"
"I'm here to see your father."
"Father isn't home right now. I'm sorry, but we don't allow smoking in the house. If you would please put it out."
He just looked at her for a moment, then took a long draw on the cigarette. As he exhaled, he snuffed the cigarette out in one of the antique bowls on the entry table. Dana said nothing, just watching him.
"I believe I'll wait for him."
"I don't know how long he will be."
"He knew I was coming by. I'm sure he'll be here shortly."
Dana nodded. "Fine. If your addiction demands that you have another cigarette, please smoke it outside."
The man's eyes narrowed then, but he made no comment. "I understand you're seeing a new therapist."
Her pulse increased, but she stood her ground. "Excuse me?"
"Is that instead of rehab?" She started to turn then but he continued. "You should be careful about remembering things that can't be changed. That might make things worse than they are. You might want to think about that."
She looked him directly in the eye. He nodded to her and without another word she left him standing in the foyer. He smiled as he drew out another cigarette.
Mulder knocked at her door and waited. She opened it quickly and motioned him in. The expression on her face concerned him. "You okay?"
"He was there today, at the house."
"The smoking man! He came to see Father."
"And are you okay?"
"It was . . . he was scary. I took his picture."
"I wanted you to see him." She reached in her sweater pocket for her cell phone and pulled the picture up. She turned it toward him.
"He's no Brad Pitt," Mulder offered.
She rolled her eyes. "That's not all. He smoked a couple of cigarettes, after I asked him not to."
"Asserting his authority?"
"Probably, but I took the butts."
"You did what?"
"Yes," she pointed to the baggy on the counter. "Since I can't seem to get a name for him, I thought it would be nice to be able to get DNA to go with the picture. Don't worry, I didn't touch them. I used a tissue to pick them up."
"If you really want to know, you could ask your father his name."
"I thought you didn't want me to talk to Father."
"Yeah, I don't; but this is a little extreme."
She shrugged. "I'm going to hold onto it anyway."
"Remind me not to tick you off. You'd make one hell of a stalker," he grinned and followed her toward the kitchen.
Dana let herself into the house and dropped her bag beside the table in the foyer to look through the mail. She looked up when she heard footsteps on the marble.
"Father? I didn't think you were home. I was going to stay with Mother."
"My meeting was canceled. Do you have a minute?"
"Of course. Is everything okay?"
"We just need to talk." He led her to his study and to her surprise, shut the door behind them. He took a seat behind the desk and she mentally rolled her eyes. So, he was planning on using intimidation. She seated herself in front of him and waited.
"This new psychiatrist you're seeing - "
"Where did you hear - no. I'm not discussing him with you. If you want to talk, tell me the name of the smoking man; the one that came to see you yesterday."
Her father drew back slightly before he could stop himself. "Why would you want - "
"Why would I want his name? The name of the man you conspired with when Charlie was taken. You allowed it; you let him work with the others to take him."
She pointed up toward the sky and he blanched. "The aliens, Father. You know, it's kind of nice to know you can be frightened of something; as frightened as I was that night when that gray creature came into our room with those pebble-y fingers and huge unblinking eyes and touched me."
"Dana!" The man quickly glanced around as though checking to see who was listening.
"Yes, I remember now. I remember that man coming here and the fight you and Mother had that night."
"Dana, we can't talk about this. Your memories aren't - "
"Aren't real? What's his name?"
"Stop it! We are not going to - "
"Right, we're not going to talk about it. We can sweep it under the rug like we have the last fifteen years!" She rose abruptly and started for the door.
"Dana, don't. You need to drop this."
"Drop it, just drop it?"
"It's for your own good. Listen to me."
"Why? Why should I listen to a man who would allow something like that to happen to his son; his baby son? Can you explain that to me?" She stood there for a moment waiting, but he made no response. Finally she turned away and left him. She didn't see him drop his face into his hands.
She grabbed up her purse from the entry and hurried to her car. She forced her hands to quit shaking and started the engine. She drove straight to her apartment. Mulder had warned her not to get into this with her father, but she'd lost it. Her father was telling her not to remember! And he hadn't denied his involvement. He hadn't even denied the existence of aliens. She let herself into her apartment and collapsed on the couch, her energy drained.
Maybe that hadn't been the smartest move, but how could she just walk away? She still didn't know the SOB's name and now she probably never would.
Mostly she wanted to talk to Mulder. He was busy tonight, but he'd said he would call when he got home from his meeting. She'd just have to wait. In the meantime, she was going to protect the evidence she had. Her safe was difficult to get to, but it was the best place to keep the pictures she'd printed off and the cigarette butts.
Once she felt better about the safety of her evidence, she heated up some leftovers. She didn't want to go out, even to pick something up. She needed to talk to Mulder. She couldn't stop the smile that grew on her face. That was happening more and more often lately. Fortunately he seemed to feel the same way.
Root of All Evil - Part 6
She woke the next morning on the couch, having fallen asleep while she waited for Mulder's call. That was strange; first that he hadn't called and second that she hadn't had a nightmare. She'd have bet heavily on a bad one last night.
She hesitated only an instant, then picked up the phone to call him. He needed to know what had happened. Maybe he'd gotten in so late that he hadn't wanted to disturb her.
When his machine picked up she felt her first twinge of unease. He should be home at this time of day. Maybe he was in the shower; she left a short message for him to call her. She'd give him fifteen minutes.
When she tried again and got the machine she knew something was definitely wrong. She had no evidence, but she could feel it in her gut. Even if there was some good reason he wasn't at home, he'd have made a point of keeping his promise to call. The last thing he'd want was for her to be worried about him. She quickly dressed and headed for her car.
His car was there, but there was no answer to her knock so she headed back down to the super's apartment. The middle aged man, heavyset and balding, opened the door and whatever he'd been about to say stuck in his throat when he obviously recognized her. She seized the advantage. "Do you know who I am?"
"I need to check on Dr. Mulder, apartment 42. He's not answering his phone or the door and I'm afraid something's happened to him. Would you please let me in?"
"Uh, yeah, okay. Just a minute." He grabbed up his keys, hiked his pants up and followed her back to the elevator. "I'm Stan. Are you, uh, seeing Dr. Mulder?"
"Yeah, okay." He didn't seem to know anything else to say, so he shut up but continued to gawk at her for the entire ride, which seemed to take forever. She hurried from the elevator as soon as the doors opened and rushed to his apartment. The super took his time, but finally stood beside her at the door.
"Uh, you know, I'm not sure - "
"I won't go in alone. You're here. I'm not going to take anything, I just want to make sure he's not in there hurt or something."
"Yeah, right. Okay." He slipped his key into the lock and opened the door. He stepped inside first, but she pushed around him.
"Oh my god." There had obviously been a struggle. She spotted what looked like blood on the corner of the coffee table and grasped for composure. "We have to call 911."
Stan reached for the phone but she stopped him. "Fingerprints. We'll use mine." She withdrew her cell phone and punched in the emergency number. Once she was assured the police were on the way, she turned back to the older man. "I'm going to wait here. If you have anything you need to do . . . "
"I'll wait with you. It was a weird night, and I don't feel right leaving you here alone."
"Thank you. What do you mean, weird?"
"It was just one of those nights. A little after 10 the power went out - "
"You had a blackout in this area?" she asked quickly.
"No, just this building. That was part of the weirdness. I looked out the windows and all the buildings around still had power. I headed down to the basement with my flashlight, you know, to check the fuses and while I was down there . . . I know there ain't no earthquakes in New York City, but it must have been one hell of a truck that drove by. Then, without me doing nothin' the lights come back on." He shook his head.
"You, you said this happened around 10?"
"Yeah, I was watchin' the fight."
She nodded, distracted now. After she had talked to her father . . . oh god, what had she done?
The police didn't take long to arrive though it seemed that way to her. They took her statement and Stan's and because of the disarray, called in a crime scene investigative team.
"What should I do?" Dana cornered one of the plain clothed men that arrived. She was tired of standing in the hall, being told nothing.
"Well, you need to let these people do their work. There's not a whole lot to do until we can find some evidence. Do you have numbers for his family? Maybe he was able to contact them. We need to contact them ourselves."
Dana nodded, but she knew with a certainty that shook her that she was the person he would have called if he could. "I have his sister's number, but please, may I talk with her first? She shouldn't hear this . . . "
"Okay, but, I'll need to talk to her too. Here's my card. Have her call me."
"Of course. Thank you." They were herding her out of the place now. Damn it, she needed to do something. Her shoulders drooped then -- Samantha. She already didn't like her; hearing this from her would only make that worse, but she couldn't let her hear this from a stranger. She took the elevator down and jerked back at the presence of a man entering the car before she could exit. It was Stan motioning her to step back. "What?"
"There's a bunch of photographers out there."
"How? How did they know I was here?"
"I don't know, ma'am. They were there when I got downstairs. Do you want to go out the alley?"
"I can't. My car's out front."
An idea suddenly came to her and she turned back to Stan. "Is one of them short, sleazy looking with a ponytail?"
"Uh, yeah, he was over to the side, keeping an eye on some Lexus."
"My car. Yes, that would be him." She dug through her purse and found an old receipt and a pen. She scribbled something on the back of the paper and squared her shoulders. "I'll be back. Thank you for your help."
"Oh, sure. If you need anything . . . "
Dana nodded and squeezed his wrist by way of thanking him and headed for the door. The flashbulbs started immediately. She headed toward her car, ignoring them. She spotted the photographer she was looking for. He was a jerk, always yelling for her to look at him, wanting more and getting too close for her comfort. He'd actually caused some friends to be in an accident, chasing them for "˜that shot'. He was doing it again now.
As she got to her car, she fumbled her keys, dropping them to the sidewalk. As she had anticipated he reached down, blocking her and preventing her from picking them up herself. He smiled his smarmy smile as he offered them to her. He could use some dental work, though the small diamond in his front tooth had to be his own idea.
"Thank you," she said icily and took them, leaving the receipt in his hand. He glanced down, then crumpled the paper so that no one else would see it. He slipped back away from the others. She got into her car and drove off without a backward glance.
She headed for her apartment. She needed to get in touch with Samantha. After locking herself in, she pulled out her PDA and found Samantha's number. If she wasn't at home . . . no, don't borrow trouble.
Samantha picked up on the third ring. "Hello?"
"Samantha, it's Dana Scully."
"Uh, Dana, yes?"
"Have you heard from Mu-Fox today?"
"No. He's probably at work."
"No, he's not. I'm afraid there's a problem."
"Problem? What are you talking about?"
"Fox had a meeting last night. We didn't see each other, but he was supposed to call me when he got home. He didn't and I fell asleep. This morning I tried to reach him and when I couldn't, I went to his apartment. His superintendent let me in his apartment - "
"You broke in?"
"Not exactly, and Stan was with me. Samantha, there had been a, a struggle. We called the police, but, but Fox seems to be missing."
"Missing," she repeated the word as thought she didn't understand it. "What kind of struggle?"
"The police were still working there when I left. I didn't want to get in the way. The detective gave me his number. He wants you to call him."
"I'm coming down. I have to call Mom and Dad and find someone to keep the kids - "
"Samantha, you're too upset to drive into town."
"I have to - "
"Let me send a car for you. That will give you time to make arrangements for the children and you won't have to worry about driving or parking. Samantha, please, let me do this."
There was silence on the other end for a moment, then "Thank you, yes. I, I'd appreciate it."
"Call John, get yourself together. We're going to find him."
"Ye-yes, we will. I need to go."
"Of course. Let me give you my cell phone number, 646-555-8540. Make a note of it. You can always reach me at that number."
"Dana . . . thank you."
"I'll see you in a little while. Go on now." Dana heard the call disconnect and closed her eyes. She had more to do.
She hurried to her bedroom and shoved the loveseat aside, then lifted the rug and exposed the safe in the floor. She fed in the code and opened it. She pulled out one copy of the picture of the smoking man and slipped it into her bag.
She drove over the Mulder's office and parked in the garage. This might be stupid, but she needed to do something and she knew one of the things this man wanted was anonymity.
She spotted the photographer when he pulled his car into the slot across from hers. His car chugged to a halt finally and she heard the door creak as he opened it. She took a deep breath and stepped out of her car.
"I didn't know whether to believe you or not."
"Thank you for coming, Mr. Lowry."
"Call me Pete. 'I need a favor, meet me in the parking lot where you got the shots of me and the mystery hunk'. How could I resist?"
"That's what I was counting on," she said dryly.
"What's going on?"
"The mystery hunk, his name is Dr. Fox Mulder - "
"Do you want to hear this?"
"Sorry, sure, go ahead."
"Last night he was abducted from his apartment. That's why I was over there; I called the police."
"And I know who was responsible, but I have no proof. He's not going to come forward and I want him flushed out."
"I still don't know what you want from me."
She pulled the picture from her bag. "I want his picture everywhere. Can you get it in the papers, with a message that he's wanted for interrogation in connection with Dr. Mulder's disappearance? I want it everywhere."
"If I do this favor, what do I get?"
"When Dr. Mulder is returned, I'll give you an exclusive photo shoot of the two of us."
Pete appraised her slowly. "Why do you think this guy was involved?"
"I'm not going into that. I just know it. Can you make him famous?"
"What's his name?"
"I haven't been able to find out."
"Are you kidding?"
"No. Are you going to help me?"
Pete looked down at the picture again, studying it. "Where was this taken?"
"I don't want anyone to know that. Can you disguise the background? Make it anonymous?"
"This is important to you."
"Yes it is. I want Dr. Mulder returned, unharmed. This man can do that, I'm sure of it."
He eyed her for a long moment. Finally he tucked the picture into his pocket. "Yeah, I can do it. I have some people that owe me. I'll be in touch."
"Thank you." She turned then and got back in her car. He was still standing there watching her as she pulled out.
The driver brought Samantha to Dana's apartment. Dana was waiting downstairs and brought her up immediately.
"Have you heard anything?" Samantha asked as soon as the door was closed.
"Nothing. We need to go to the station. They want to talk to you too. Have you talked to your parents?"
"Not yet, John thought . . . I wanted to have all the information. They're going to be devastated."
Dana nodded, not sure what to say. She told her then about everything that she had found that morning. Samantha was pale when she finished, but quiet. "Is John coming?" Dana asked.
"Not yet. He'll keep the children."
"You're more than welcome to stay here tonight. You don't want to have to commute back and forth to the city. I'll arrange for a car to take you home tomorrow."
"I can't impose."
Dana looked away for a moment. "We need to get to the station. I know you're anxious to find out everything you can."
Samantha searched her face. "You're in love with him."
"What? I, we're friends."
Samantha didn't respond, so Dana picked up her bag. "The driver is still downstairs. It's easier that way."
Samantha nodded and followed her to the elevator.
The interview at the station told them little more, but Samantha realized that with Dana there, at least they were taking it seriously.
They returned to the apartment hours later, exhausted mentally if not physically. Samantha sank down onto the couch. "I can't believe this. Why Fox? All those questions about enemies, former patients . . . " She shook her head, then let it fall back on the couch.
Dana remained silent. Her guilt level had risen steadily, but then she was used to dealing with that. She only had suspicions about those answers, but she couldn't bring them up, not yet anyway. "Do you think you can eat anything?"
Samantha looked over at her. "Do you cook?"
"No," Dana gave her a small smile, "but I order with the best. I'll have them send something up from downstairs. Any dietary restraints?"
"No, just something light though. I'm not hungry."
Dana nodded and moved to the phone. When she hung up she turned back to Samantha. "It'll just be a few minutes. Do you want to freshen up?"
"Through there. Yell if you can't find what you need."
Samantha seemed to appraise her for just an instant, then rose and disappeared into the guest bath. If her eyes were a little red when she emerged, Dana made no comment. She hadn't cried yet; fear kept her from it. If she started, would she be able to stop? Samantha's words came back to her. "˜You're in love with him.' Was it true? She didn't know anything about that particular emotion. His company made her feel warm, safe and, and happy. That was unprecedented as far as she was concerned. Her memories of past relationships seemed to focus on want, need, jealousy, and one-up-man-ship.
The food arrived then, so Dana set about putting it out on the table. She'd ordered two steak Caesar salads. Samantha nodded and took a seat at the table. She tasted the salad and nodded. "This is just what I needed. Thank you."
"I'm glad to do it. I wish I could do more."
"You don't - "
"It's a fine line with me. I don't want you to think I'm trying to buy your friendship."
"Do people expect that of you?"
"Some do. Some want me to," she sighed.
"And what category do you put me in? Are we friends?" Samantha asked, taking another bite.
"I think . . . not yet, but I hope we can be. You're very important to Mu-Fox."
"I wasn't very nice to you when he brought you to the house."
Dana shrugged. "That's kind of understandable. I didn't take offense. You didn't, you don't know me. If all I knew was what I'd read . . . I wouldn't let me in the house."
"That's not . . . but I am sorry. Fox is important to me too. It's not a requirement that I be friends with a woman he wants to date - "
"I believe it is, Samantha, whether you realize it or not."
Tears filled Samantha's eyes. "He's my big brother. I adore him."
Dana nodded and squeezed the other woman's hand. "I know you do and I don't blame you. He talks about you all the time. The kids are the light of his life."
Samantha nodded. "I've always thought he'd make a great father."
"I'm sure he will someday. We are going to get him back, Samantha. We have to."
Samantha nodded and Dana watched her gather herself and turn back to her meal. They ate in silence then. When they were through Samantha helped her clean up then they headed for the couch.
"I have a Jacuzzi, if you'd like to relax, or some wine - "
"Thanks, no. I wish I thought I could sleep."
Dana shook her head. "Contrary to published reports I don't have much here that will help you; maybe some Tylenol PM."
Samantha chuckled then. "How about some warm milk?"
"Now that I can do. Why don't we get in our jammies and meet back here."
Instead of rising Samantha took a long look at Dana. "You know, I think there is a chance we could be friends."
Root of All Evil - Part 7
The next morning Dana left Samantha asleep while she went for their breakfast. She walked to a coffee shop nearby, stopping at the newsstand on the way to pick up a paper. Pete had come through. The smoking man's picture was on the front page of at least three of the papers. She bought each of them, and asked the man running the stand if he had seen the man in any of the other papers. He was able to point out a couple more, so she bought them too. She tucked them under her arm and hurried to get breakfast for herself and Samantha.
The call was unexpected. "It's Pete. What the hell have you gotten me into?"
"What? What are you talking about?" It took Dana a moment to realize who she was talking to. "Pete? Is this about that picture?"
"You know damn well it's about that picture. Who the hell is he?"
"I told you, I don't know. What's the problem?"
"I'm getting death threats! They know where I live. This guy some Mafia boss or something?"
"No, I think he works for the government somehow, you know, behind the scenes."
Pete groaned. "He's a king maker? Oh Jesus."
"What are you talking about?"
"Don't act naÃ¯ve. You know this damn country is really run by a fucking shadow government. Hell, your old man is probably one of the deep pockets that keeps them in power. That would sure explain how he's been able to keep all that money he's got."
"I don't understand."
"Come on, you're no damn blonde. You have to know your father's connections . . . oh shit. This man is one of those connections, isn't he? What the hell have you gotten me into?"
"Look, I'm sorry. I didn't mean - "
"You have to meet me. We have to talk. You're going to have to get me some protection, get me out of town or something."
"I don't - "
"You don't have a choice," Pete hissed. "So far no one knows I got that picture from you. It won't stay that way if I'm trying to save my hide."
"Okay, where?" she agreed quickly. If getting him out of town would keep him quiet, it was worth it.
"Uh, you know the alley behind O'Riley's?"
"I can find it."
"Meet me there at nine. It'll be dark then."
"All right, but you keep quiet about me giving you that picture or you can forget any help."
"Fine. Tonight," he broke the connection and she sank into the chair by the phone. Damn.
Well, there was no way she'd go to that neighborhood alone at night, but she knew she had to go. She called for a car, then opened her safe. She took out an envelope of cash, then on impulse wrapped one of the butts in a tissue and put it in her pocket, making sure she didn't touch it herself. Maybe he'd know someone who could check out the DNA. If he was as paranoid as he sounded, he'd know people.
She wanted Mulder.
Fortunately the driver on duty that night was one she'd used many times before. When she gave Tim the address, he turned to look at her. "Are you sure Ms. Scully? That's not a place you should be going."
"I know. I don't want to go, but I need to meet someone. This is where he said we had to meet. I think he's trying to stay out of sight."
"All the more reason for you not to go."
Dana smiled then. "I'll have you with me."
He shrugged and held the door for her to enter. She was glad she'd specified the smaller car. In the dark, it wouldn't stand out like one of the limos she normally favored.
They were quiet on the way. Tim could tell Dana was nervous, but whatever she was doing here was none of his business.
When he pulled up to the corner, he parked. "Do you want me to go with you?"
"No, but please wait for me."
"I'm not going anywhere, Ms. Scully. Not until you're back in the car safe."
"I won't be long." She let herself out of the backseat, motioning for Tim to remain seated. He shook his head but didn't try to dissuade her. She squared her shoulders, gave him a shaky smile and headed into the alley. His smile disappeared as soon as she wasn't looking. This wasn't a good idea.
She headed down the alley, keeping quiet, her eyes and ears alert for any movement. Her flashlight wasn't illuminating that much. When she reached the end, she saw a fence lined with trashcans. Where was he? There were at least two businesses with back doors that opened up to the area. "Pete?" she whispered, but there was no answer. She was right on time; had he tricked her into coming . . . her foot hit something and she swung her flashlight down. Oh God! It was Pete. She backed away quickly, her flashlight illuminating more of the . . . the body. Oh god, what had she gotten them into? She took a couple more steps back, moving her flashlight around the area. She couldn't see anyone but she needed to get out of there fast!
Without really thinking about it, she drew the cigarette butt from her pocket. With a bravery she hadn't known she possessed, she approached the body again and dropped the butt beside him. Then she turned and ran back to the car.
He was out of the car immediately and grabbed her arms as she ran toward him.
"What! Is anyone - "
"Call 911! The man I was supposed to meet, he's lying on the ground back there. I, I think he's . . ."
"What? Is he hurt?"
"I think he's dead. There was a man, but he jumped over the fence."
"You saw it! You could have been hurt!"
"I don't think he saw me."
"Get in the car - "
"We can't leave. Call 911."
Reluctantly he nodded and pulled out his cell phone.
There had obviously been a car nearby, because the police were there in minutes. She got out of the car when they arrived. No crowd had gathered since there had been nothing to hear.
"You placed a 911 call?"
"Yes. I, I was supposed to meet someone here tonight and, and when I got here I saw him on the ground. I think he's dead, back, back there. I think he was shot," she pointed. The policeman closest to her narrowed his eyes.
"There's a body back there?"
"Go! Check him out, maybe he's still alive. I didn't, I didn't touch him."
"Wait here. Don't leave."
She shook her head. The two policemen hurried, disappearing into the alley where she'd pointed. Quickly one of them returned and called for transport of a body, then turned to the two of them. "Tell me what happened."
"Tim didn't see anything. He waited here in the car for me," Dana stepped forward.
"And what were you doing here?"
"The man back there, his name is Pete Ruzicka. He's a photographer."
"Paparattzi you mean."
She nodded. "He called me and said he had some pictures of me he thought I should see."
"That was my first thought. I needed to find out, so I asked Tim to bring me here. When I went back there I saw a man standing over something. He didn't see me but I knew he was too tall to be Pete."
"You knew the victim?"
"I've seen him often enough."
The policeman nodded and motioned for her to continue. "I didn't hear anything, but the man that was looking at him lit a cigarette from the one he was smoking and dropped the old one beside the, beside the body. Then he stepped up on something and went over the fence. When I knew he was gone, I moved closer and realized he had been standing over Pete. I didn't . . . I ran back out here and asked Tim to call you."
The cop took notes, then turned to Tim. "What did you see?"
"Nothing. I didn't go back there. I didn't want to leave Ms. Scully alone."
"Okay. We've got someone from homicide on the way."
"I think I should get Ms. Scully home. You have her statement. Can't they question her tomorrow, or even tonight, but not here? I want to get her out of here before the press shows up."
"I can't let you leave the scene."
"I understand that, but under the circumstances - "
"I'm not planning to leave town," Dana interrupted. "If I give you my unlisted number, you can reach me at any time."
The cop looked over at Tim, who nodded. "She'll be here when you need her. Ms. Scully's class."
"I have to search you. Make sure you aren't carrying a weapon or have one in the car."
"Now wait a minute - "
"Tim, it's okay. I'm not carrying a weapon. I don't mind if he checks." She removed her coat and handed it to him, then her purse. When he was through he returned the items to her and checked the car.
"I'm sorry, but I'm going to have to frisk you and your driver."
She took a deep breath and looked over at Tim. He didn't look happy and stepped closer to protest. "You get out of line . . . " The threat was clear.
"I know my job. I don't want to offend Ms. Scully, but it could mean my job if I don't do this."
Dana nodded at Tim and he nodded but didn't step back. When the officer was through, he frisked Tim as well.
"Can we leave now?" Tim's voice was frosty.
"I won't let you down," Dana looked up at the officer. "Have the detective call me tonight. I'll be in my apartment the rest of the night."
Finally the cop nodded.
"I need your name and how to reach you as well," she reminded the cop. They exchanged information, then Tim hurried her into the car and took her home.
He walked her to the elevator. "Are you going to be okay, Ms. Scully? Wouldn't you rather I take you to your parents' home?"
"No. I appreciate it, Tim and I'm so sorry I got you involved in something like this. I want to be at my place tonight. Please let me know if you need anything, if they give you any trouble . . . "
"I'll be fine. You need to let me know if you need anything." She nodded and squeezed his hand. He pushed the button for the elevator and waited until the doors shut behind her.
She let herself in and locked up behind her. The windows were locked as well, though she didn't worry too much about cat burglars. She checked her bedroom; the loveseat and rug hadn't been disturbed, so she was going to assume that no one had been here. She needed Mulder.
Without realizing it was her intention, she picked up the phone and dialed Samantha's home. John answered. "Hi, it's Dana. I was . . . I just - "
"Yeah, I know. We haven't heard anything."
"I figured you hadn't, but I wanted to check in."
"Did something happen?"
"I, I don't want to bother you."
"I'm going to be in the city tomorrow. I have an appointment, then I was going to go by the police station and see if I could push a little. Would you be free for an early dinner?"
"Yes, please. Why don't you come here? We can have privacy. That can be hard to find when I'm around."
"I remember. I'd like that. I'll see you tomorrow."
"Thank you, John."
She had just hung up when the phone rang again. "Hello?"
"This is Detective Paschall. Is this Dana Scully?"
"Yes, sir. I'm glad you called."
"You shouldn't have left the scene."
"I understand, but I'm available to speak with you. Would you like to come here?"
"As a matter of fact I am here; downstairs."
"Please, come up to the 5th floor. I'll meet you there."
"Thank you. We're on our way."
She was outside of the elevator when it opened. "I'm Dana Scully. Please come inside."
The two detectives, Paschall and Audra, followed her inside and took the seats she offered. "It's late, but would you like some coffee?"
"No, thank you. We just wanted to get your information down while it was still fresh."
"Of course. I told Officer Tomlinson everything I saw."
"Yes, if you could go over that again please."
She told the same story she had told the officer earlier. "You saw the shooter throw down a cigarette?"
"I saw a man standing there throw down a cigarette. I didn't hear a shot or see a gun. I only saw the flare of the cigarette when he lit the new one from the old one. I didn't even realize he was standing over a body at that time. But he dropped the cigarette and went over the fence."
"Was he running?"
"No. He got over the fence but he didn't vault it, not like an athlete."
"Could you tell an age, race?"
"White, tall, an adult. I'm sorry."
Detective Audra spoke, "You went to meet this photographer because he was blackmailing you?"
"I went to meet him because he called and said he had pictures. He didn't mention money or selling me anything. I went to see what he had. Things like this have happened to friends of mine. Did you find any pictures?"
"Do you think the other man might have taken . . . "
"We have no way of knowing that."
She sighed. "So I wait and see if some doctored photographs are posted on-line or show up in some tabloid."
"I'm sorry. I suppose that's always a worry for you."
She nodded. "What else do you need from me?"
"Nothing at this time. We appreciate you seeing us this late."
"I was glad you called. I didn't want to wait until tomorrow, but Tim was so concerned about getting me home before more photographers showed up."
"It was good of him to worry about you."
"Yes, it was," she said with a ghost of a smile. "Do you think you'll be able to find the person that did this?"
"We have some evidence that we're processing."
"I'm sorry. Of course you can't . . . Is there anything else I can do?"
The men took it as dismissal and rose. "We'll be in touch. If you're going to be out of town, please let us know."
"I have no plans to travel at this time."
Detective Paschall shook her hand and she escorted them to the door. Once they were gone she locked her door and leaned against it trying to force herself to relax. Maybe being thrust into the media all her life wasn't all bad. She was on edge, which was normal for having found a dead body, but not guilty. They couldn't know she had left evidence. She didn't know if the smoking man had killed Pete, but he was involved. She was sure of that. And now they'd have his DNA to check if they were ever able to locate him.
Dana opened the door for John and hugged him when he came inside. That surprised him a little, but he returned the hug. "Dana? You okay?"
"I don't know. Did they have any news?"
He shook his head. "I'm worried about Bill and Teena. This is so hard on them."
"I know. Come on in." She took his coat and led him to the kitchen area. "Wine?"
"No, I have to drive home and it makes me sleepy." He grinned at her. Then he noticed that her hands were shaking slightly as she poured him a glass of tea. "What's going on? Talk to me."
She set the pitcher down and looked up at him.
"Dana? What's wrong?"
"Sit, we should eat. You have a long drive."
"Okay, but talk to me while we eat."
She nodded and set the meal on the table. Watching her he took his seat and at her urging began to eat. She played with her own meal and at his insistence started talking.
As she told him what she had done, the picture, the DNA, his meal was forgotten as well. "I don't believe this. Dana, you could be in danger. If you're right, they killed that man because of a picture you took. Are you sure it can't be traced back to you?"
"I don't know. The smoking man didn't know I took the picture. The one that was published in the papers had the background taken out. There was no credit given for the picture, I checked. I've heard Pete worked off the books as much as possible. He made more that way. There's no reason for the police to check, but even if they do, there's not enough to identify my parents' foyer. The police don't know about any connection between the picture and me, or between Pete and the picture for that matter."
"Do you still have it here?"
Dana nodded and rose. She hurried to the office and brought the picture and the baggie holding the second cigarette butt back to the table. John picked up the picture and perused it carefully. Finally he nodded, placing it back on the table. "I think you're right. There's no art work to identify it. The door frame could be anywhere." He picked up the baggie then. "So this has his DNA?"
"If he is what you think he is, it will be easy for the evidence to disappear. I have some friends, guys I've worked with, that could do more than the police, quicker and make sure it won't vanish easily."
"Would they be in danger?"
"They're pretty good about keeping a low profile. Fox met with them about something before he disappeared. He trusted them."
"Then I can too. If you give them this, will you make sure they know how dangerous it can be?"
"I promise. Now, you should eat something."
"Fox thinks a lot of you. He'll be back. You have to believe that."
Tears unexpectedly filled her eyes. "I do."
John reached across and squeezed her hand, then urged her to eat again. With him there, she managed to eat a few bites. He left a little before eight and promised to be in touch after he had handed the information over to his friends. Her loneliness grew exponentially when he was gone. Part of her felt better for having the picture and the cigarette out of her home, but there was guilt that these unknown friends of John's might be in danger. Finally exhausted she fell asleep around three only to be awakened in a couple of hours by her nightmare.
Where was Mulder? What were they doing to him? Had she made it worse? She'd had no doubt that horrible man was involved, and she was even more convinced now. She had gotten Pete killed for helping her. As odious as the man had been to her and the people she knew, he hadn't deserved that. It was a long time until dawn.
The time dragged and the police had no leads. John's friends had the information, DNA and picture on the web, but the links to it were unavailable for now.
Frustrated she made her way to her parent's home, and without warning walked in on her father in his study. He looked up startled as the door opened and quickly blanked the screen of his computer. "I didn't know you were home."
"I came to see you. You know the doctor I was seeing is missing. I believe your friend is responsible."
"What friend? I don't have thugs as - "
"'Smoky'. I believe he arranged for the same "˜friends' that took Charlie to take Dr. Mulder."
"You don't know what you're talking about, Dana. No one - "
"Dr. Mulder was taken the same way Charlie was, the lights, the shaking. Aliens took him and Smoky led them to him. I want him back, I want them both back safe and sound."
She took a step forward, her voice low and vehement, "You can reach him; I know it. Tell him I can keep his information secret if he has them return Charlie and Dr. Mulder."
"His picture, his DNA. It's on the web; it can be removed, but I want them back."
"Dana, you can't be . . . You think that I - "
"Don't bother, Father. I want them returned. You know this man, contact him." She turned then and left the house.
Root of All Evil - Part 8
She hadn't been out in nearly a week. She didn't want to be around anyone, and what if she missed a call? Very few people had her cell number. But now she was going stir crazy. It was stupid, but she headed for his apartment. He wasn't there, but she felt closer to him somehow.
She parked outside the building and just looked up at his windows. The super knew her, maybe he would let her in again. She just wanted to sit on the couch and be near his things. Decision made, she opened the door and headed for the front of the building.
She hadn't reached the front door when he stepped out of the shadows. More startled than scared she faced him. "Return him, return them. Please."
"And you're so sure I can do that?" he took a deep draw on his cigarette.
"Yes," she said simply.
"Such faith in me. I'm flattered."
"Don't be. What is it you want from me? Silence? You've got it. Just give me back Mulder and Charlie. You don't need them."
"You remember everything now, don't you?"
After a moment she nodded. "They've always underestimated you. I never have."
"Oh, you're directionless, but not unintelligent. With your IQ, how could - "
"My IQ? What are you talking about?"
"Ah, I guess your father kept that from you too."
"What do you think your IQ is, Dana?"
"I don't . . . in the 160 range I believe. Why are you - "
"The last time your IQ was measured it was 210. That's been several years ago. I'm sure it's higher now."
"Ask your father, Dana."
She shook her head, trying to clear it. "That's not - please. Please bring them back. You don't need them. Please."
He took another draw on his cigarette, then turned and walked away.
Shaking she watched him leave, then returned to her car.
Dana raced into the hospital and made her way straight to the ICU. She was inside before they could stop her. She spotted Mulder lying on the bed, tubes and monitors all over him; the respirator causing his chest to rise and fall. She felt like the breath had been kicked out of her. She grabbed the foot of the bed to steady herself.
She noticed the older woman then, sitting at his side. His mother? "Mrs. . . Mrs. Mulder?"
The woman finally turned to look at her. "Yes?"
"What have they told you?"
"I'm sorry, you are . . . "
"Oh, I'm sorry. My name is Dana Scully. I'm a, a friend of Mu-Fox's."
"Dana? Yes, he's mentioned you to me. We don't know anything yet."
"Do you know where he was found? How he got here?"
"No, I'm sorry. They called to let us know he was here. Samantha's on her way."
"Good. Do you mind if I stay with you, just until she gets here?"
"No, I'd appreciate the company."
Dana sank into the plastic chair on the other side of the bed and touched his hand. He was warm, alive. She closed her eyes in relief.
They sat together in silence until a nurse asked them to leave for a few minutes while he was examined. Dana followed Mrs. Mulder to the small waiting room, unsure what to say. It was Teena that broke the silence. "Have you been seeing Fox for long?"
"I'm, I'm not sure we're "˜seeing' each other, but we're friends."
"He's mentioned you to me several times. He seems to think you're seeing each other," Teena smiled gently.
Dana's eyes unexpectedly filled with tears but she blinked them back. "Thank you."
Teena reached out her hand and Dana took it gratefully. They continued to sit quietly until the doctor joined them. Dana started to rise, but the doctor motioned for her to keep her seat. He pulled a chair closer to them and sat down.
"This is a friend of my son's, Dana." Teena introduced her when the doctor hesitated. "You can speak in front of her."
Dana blinked at that, then smiled.
He nodded. "I don't have a definitive diagnosis for you, Mrs. Mulder. We don't know what caused this coma. We're still running tests."
"What's his prognosis?" Teena asked quickly.
"I don't have one at this time. We're having trouble keeping him stable. His vitals are weakening. Mrs. Mulder, we're not giving up, I don't want you to think that. We've taken blood again because the first tests were mishandled in the lab - "
"The tests were botched?" Dana interrupted.
"Well, I'm not sure I'd use those words," the doctor smiled ruefully.
"No, I'm sorry, of course not." She pulled open her bag and pulled out her wallet. She extracted a slip of paper and looked down at it. "˜Attendant reduction in the lymphocyte population', "˜release of gluco-cordacoid'. "Does this mean anything to you?"
He took the paper and his eyes widened. "Where did you get this?"
"I was in an unexplained coma many years ago. The tests they ran on me were considered "˜botched', but this is what they turned up."
"What was your treatment?"
"I don't know, I was just a child, ten years old. My doctor is Paul Moss. You're welcome to contact him and ask about my treatment."
"Thank you, I, I will." He looked down at the paper once more.
"What does that tell you? What causes whatever those tests showed?" Teena asked, looking between Dana and the doctor.
"Prolonged weightlessness," Dana said quietly.
"I beg your pardon?"
"I know," Dana smiled feebly. "It makes little sense; even less with me, because I wasn't missing. The housekeeper found me lying on the playroom floor. It was my brother who was gone."
Teena's eyes widened, she had forgotten about the missing brother. It had been all over the news so many years ago, but no information like this had been reported as far as she could remember. Before she could say anything else, the door opened and Samantha entered.
Teena rose immediately and they hugged. "Where's John?"
"He's parking the car." Samantha spotted Dana then and nodded. Dana rose and approached her, hand out. Samantha squeezed it, then turned to the doctor. "What's wrong with him?"
Dana stepped back and kept quiet. She had no right to be here, but since no one was throwing her out, she was going to stand her ground. The doctor repeated the information he had given to Mrs. Mulder and was finishing up when John joined them.
"How did he get here? Was he brought by ambulance? Dropped off? He's been missing for weeks."
"I can't answer that. No one seems to know, he was found in one of the ER cubicles already hooked up to a respirator. Security is checking and the FBI has been alerted now that we're aware of the circumstances. I'm sorry, but I need to get back to my patient. I will be calling Dr. Moss."
"Please do," Dana urged him and he left.
"Who's Dr. Moss?" Samantha asked.
"He's my doctor, since I was a child. When Charlie was taken, I was in an unexplained coma for a few days. They apparently did all of these tests and Mu-Fox is showing some of the same symptoms."
"What symptoms are those?" John joined the conversation.
"I don't really know; something about lymphocyte population and gluco-cordacoids; whatever those are."
John's eyes grew wide. "It was you," he whispered.
"Excuse me? What?"
"Uh, nothing. Where's Bill?" John turned toward his mother-in-law.
"Wandering. You know he can't sit still. He won't admit it, but he's probably sneaking a smoke. With this stress . . . "
"Why don't I go look for him? Dana, want to join me?" John stepped toward the door. Dana was confused, but it seemed right to let Samantha and Mrs. Mulder have some time.
"Yes, thank you. Samantha, you have my number if you need us."
She nodded and took the seat beside her mother.
Once out of the waiting room, John took Dana's arm and led her to the elevator. "We need to talk."
"What's wrong?" she asked immediately.
He shook his head, remaining silent as others joined them in the elevator. She held her tongue as they exited on the ground floor and followed as he led her to a section of the parking area that was deserted. "First, I want you to know that Fox never betrayed your confidence."
"I beg your pardon?"
"Remember I told you about those friends of mine?"
"The ones that have the picture and cigarette?"
He nodded. "I mentioned that Fox had consulted them about something before his disappearance."
"He wanted information about alien abductions. He didn't believe in the phenomena and wanted some information."
Dana's eyes grew wide. "They're the ones that convinced him?"
"Yes, but until a few minutes ago I had no idea he had been talking about you. We didn't even know the sex of his patient."
She had a slight smile on her face. "I know. Mulder would never betray me."
"This is getting really freaky, especially if he has the same symptoms . . . "
At that Dana's shoulders slumped and she looked down, studying the plain gray concrete floor of the parking garage. "It's my fault he was taken." Stating it seemed to take all of her strength. "I haven't been able to say that aloud. It's because of me, because I confronted my father about that night. They knew I was seeing someone about my memories. They didn't want me to remember and when we became . . . involved, they had to see it as a golden opportunity to shut me up. This is all my fault."
"Dana, don't. He's back, that's all that matters now."
"They don't know how to treat him. They don't - "
"He just got here. Let the doctors, let your doctor, look into it. Don't say anything to anyone about this. I don't know if the information is dangerous, but there's no need for anyone else to know."
"If you need to talk - "
"I'm used to keeping things quiet."
John grinned. "I believe you. Why don't you go on back to Samantha? I'll find Bill and head back."
"He'll be okay?"
"Fox is strong and he was in great shape before this happened."
Dana squeezed his hand and nodded, then turned back to rejoin Samantha at Mulder's bedside to sit and wait.
The doctor closed the door to the small meeting room. Samantha looked over at Dana, and the fear in their eyes matched.
"I wanted to meet with all of you and give you an update. Dr. Mulder is weakening and we have been unable to stabilize him. And . . . since Dr. Mulder has admitting privileges at this hospital, we have his living will on file."
Dana froze and watched Samantha's head fall.
"What does it say?" Bill asked quietly.
"He doesn't want to be kept alive by respirator." He waited as Samantha moved over to Teena and held her. "I know this is difficult, but Dr. Mulder made the decision for you."
"Is he in any pain?"
"No, but his vital signs are steadily declining. I know you need a moment, but we need to decide when to remove the respirator."
Dana closed her eyes. She had no standing, they were allowing her to be here, but she wasn't family. She heard the doctor speak to John, then leave them alone. There was silence then. Samantha opened her eyes; no one was looking at anyone.
Dana rose from the couch. "I'll go get us all something to drink."
"Dana, you don't have to - " Teena started.
"No, I think you need some time. I'm here and I'll be right back." She squeezed Teena's hand. "And thank you."
She left the room and once the door was closed leaned against the wall. She closed her eyes again. They were going to let him die. How was she supposed to deal with that? She'd never been in love before and now . . . a tear leaked from her eye but she drew herself up. She couldn't break down here, she couldn't break down now.
"Samantha, your mom needs to get out of here. There's no telling how long he'll hold on. She can't - " John hesitated.
"Do, do you want me to take her home?" Dana asked.
"No, I should do it. You're right, it could be d-days. I need to hold my babies." Samantha let John help her to her feet. "What about you?"
"I . . . I'll stay for a little while longer," Dana looked back at the bed; things were quieter now, without the equipment breathing for him.
Samantha nodded. "You'll . . . you'll call . . . "
"Of course. Hug the babies for me."
Samantha nodded, but her throat was too tight to speak. Bill helped Teena to her feet and John took Teena's other arm. Dana watched them leave silently.
She couldn't leave. She slipped back into Mulder's room and sat beside him again. There was a DNR on his chart now, so there should be little interruption. She took hold of his hand again. "Mulder, it's me, it's Dana. Samantha and John took your parents back to my place so that they could get some rest. I'm not leaving you. I need to tell you something and I need you to hear me." She squeezed his hand, waiting for an instant for some response. It didn't come.
"Mulder, your sister said something to me when you were first taken, and I've thought about it almost constantly since she said it. My first thought was to deny it completely, but it turns out she was right. She, she said I was in love with you." Dana took a breath, watching him sleep in front of her.
"Since I'd never been in love the very thought terrified me. Love meant dependency, losing my identity, allowing others to get . . . close. I didn't know if I could handle that, if I could trust enough. But I got to know you, slowly, without pressure. You're a very good psychiatrist, Dr. Mulder." She gave a small smile. "But I'm glad you're not mine any more. I don't know what's going to happen, I know the doctors say you're weakening, but I feel your strength. I feel you here with me. Please, Mulder, stay with me, with us. I have so much more to learn and you . . . I need you to teach it to me. You're the only one who can." She leaned in then and kissed his lips.
She held onto his hand as, exhausted, she lay her head on the bed. Finally her eyes closed.
Root of All Evil - Part 9
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.
Root of All Evil - Part 10
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.
Mulder, Scully, the Lone Gunman and Skinner all belong to Chris Carter, 10-13 and Fox. No infringement intended.