He glanced around and smiled, "the states". He hadn't been here in years and he wondered if he had an accent. He wandered around the mall like a tourist, though he felt himself drawn in a certain direction. He just let it flow, whatever was bothering him, he was glad to be home. He'd be living here now, he started at the academy next week, but for now he had a few days, just to relax.
He headed down the stairs to the metro as though he'd been searching for this specific stop. He bought a few extra tokens and went out onto the platform to wait for the next train. The place was almost deserted, rush hour was over and the tourists weren't out in force yet. He'd figure out what time zone he was in soon.
A redhead off to one side of the platform caught his attention. He wasn't sure why, but once he actually noticed her, he couldn't seem to look away. The feeling was as strong as the one he'd had at Heathrow. She was totally oblivious to him, but he was caught by the expression on her face - resigned, but not calm. He moved closer to her. She was totally unaware of anything around her.
The lights began to flash, warning that the next train was approaching. He took a step back, away from the tracks, as did everyone on the platform except the redhead. He watched her take a step forward and it clicked into place.
He lunged for her as she started to take another step forward. He had hold of her arm, as she started her jump. He yanked her against him and she froze, in shock.
He moved her toward the stairs before the others realized what was happening. They were watching the train slip into the station. He wanted to get her out in the fresh air and sunlight. She stumbled along beside him, just beginning to struggle against his grip on her.
Once outside he led her to a bench. She was blinking in the sudden light. "Can you hear me? Miss, uh . . . "
She gasped in a breath and tried to focus on him, finally beginning to believe that she was still alive. "Who?"
"Uh, Mulder. What's your name?"
"D . . . Dana."
"Okay, Dana. Is there . . . is there someone I can call for you?"
She shook her head, her eyes casting around as though for escape. "I, uh, I need to go."
"Wha . . .?"
"You were going to throw yourself under that train, weren't you?" He took hold of her hand and she looked up at him. Her blue eyes were filled with tears.
"I need . . . there's somewhere I need to - "
"Dana, in some cultures if I were to save someone's life, they would belong to me."
She looked up at him then and quickly away. "I'm, I'm okay. Really, you can, you can go on. I -"
"I don't think so. I don't think you're okay. And I don't think you should be alone."
"It's, it's not your, I'm not your responsibility."
"I believe you are." He said it gently and saw a tear escape her eye. He watched the trembling in her hands grow to full-fledged shaking and move to the rest of her body. "Dana?"
"I almost did it." She was talking to herself, but he moved closer to her on the bench. "I really tried to kill myself."
"But you didn't, Dana. Come on, you can, you can talk about it. I'll listen."
She shook her head, but did take the handkerchief he held out to her. She suddenly seemed too weary to move.
"You're not alone, Dana." For some reason that brought even more tears and he realized she was slipping into hysteria. It was more emotion than her small body could take, and his arms tightened around her - not to stop the emotion, but to help contain it, to keep her safe during the storm.
When she slowly returned to herself, she found she was in his lap, being held in strong but tender arms.
"Feeling better?" He knew it was an inane thing to say, but he needed to bring her back all the way.
She nodded slowly, noticing that his t-shirt was soaked where her head lay pressed against it.
"Why don't we get you some coffee, or maybe a drink?"
She knew she should get up, out of his lap. He was a stranger for all that he had saved her life, probably twice now.
"Thank you. I'm - "
"Don't say fine. Come on, can you walk?"
She wasn't sure, so she didn't answer, but allowed him to keep a strong arm around her as he moved her toward a refreshment kiosk. She drank the soft drink from the bottle he placed in her hand.
"Dana, can you talk about it?"
"I can't believe I tried to . . . Thank you, Mr. Mulder."
"Just Mulder. It was my pleasure. I'd like to do more. Talk to me, please."
She wouldn't look at him. "I, I should go home."
"At least let me take you there."
After a moment she nodded. She knew she wasn't able to make it to her apartment alone. It didn't matter if he knew where she lived. Hell, for some reason, she felt almost safe with him. Well, he had saved her life.
She motioned in the direction of her car and he helped her to it, taking her keys and letting her in on the passenger side. He slid into the driver's side on the left and grinned.
"Nothing. Where do you live?"
"Oh," She sat up a little straighter then, and gave him directions, then slumped back in the seat. Her life was totally out of control and now a virtual stranger was driving her home, in her own car. How much more irresponsible could she get?
That caused her to straighten up once more. "Mr. Mulder, I, I shouldn't have imposed on you like this. You should be with friends, or doing laundry or something."
"Don't have any." He responded easily.
"Friends." He looked over at her and shrugged. "I flew in from London this morning." He pulled his passport from his pocket and handed it to her. "In fact, I'm not even supposed to be here yet. When I got to Heathrow, I suddenly decided I needed to get here earlier. My luggage hasn't even caught up with me yet. There was just this overwhelming need to . . ." He looked over at her and their eyes locked.
Her eyes showed more than a little fear. He saw that and tried to make light of it with a shrug, "Spooky, huh? Listen I'm not always, I mean, I don't make a habit of going around picking up strange women. I'm here, in DC, because I've been recruited by the FBI. Honest, that's not a pick up line. I start at the academy next week. I came in to find a place to live and learn my way around the city a little. I just graduated from Oxford, with a Ph.D. in psychology. I'm really not a freak - most of the time."
She actually felt herself relax a little with his babbling. He was trying to reassure her, put her at ease. She allowed her eyes to slip closed. She couldn't remember ever being so exhausted, both physically and mentally.
He found her apartment building and pulled into an empty space. She'd actually fallen asleep. He didn't know what was going on, but hell, he'd felt slightly out of control since he'd gotten to Heathrow.
He exited the car quietly and came around to her side. "Dana? Dana, wake up. You're home."
She stirred and then woke with a start. She was home and he had brought her here. "Thank . . . thank you."
"It's okay. Why don't we get you inside?"
She nodded and took the hand he held out to her. He walked her to her door, his hand resting lightly on her back. He realized he still held her keys when she stopped in the hall. He unlocked the door and opened it for her, stepping back to allow her to enter.
When he didn't follow her inside, she stopped and turned to look at him.
He shrugged, "Uh, can I use your phone?"
"Yeah. I need to call a cab I guess. You know, see if my luggage has made it here."
"Oh, sure." She stepped away from the door to let him in. He entered and looked around for her phone. That's when it hit her, he was leaving. The surge of fear that brought up overwhelmed her.
She darted past him and into the bathroom, barely managing to reach the toilet before becoming violently ill.
He had jumped, startled, as she hurried past him and automatically turned to follow her. He stopped outside of the bathroom door, things falling into place in his mind.
She hadn't closed the door but he still tapped as he entered. She was seated on the floor now, leaning against the wall. He took the washcloth from the rack and wet it, wringing it out and handing it to her. Neither spoke.
After she bathed her face and took a few deep breaths, he reached out his hand to help her up. She tried to lift her hand to him, but it fell back. At that, he stepped closer and lifted her into his arms.
He carried her back out to the living room and laid her on the couch. "Maybe you should eat something." He wasn't sure she responded, but he turned toward the kitchen. He didn't know what she'd feel like eating or even what she could get down. He pulled out a loaf of bread and toasted two pieces, buttered them lightly and returned to her. She was already sound asleep.
He placed the food on her coffee table and stood watching her for a long moment. He couldn't leave, but wasn't sure he should stay. He headed to the bathroom and cleaned himself up.
She hadn't moved when he emerged, so he returned to her kitchen and made himself a sandwich. He ate at her table rather than watching over her, but couldn't deny that he was aware of every breath.
When he finished, he returned to the living room and spread the afghan over her, then picked a magazine from the small stack on her coffee table and sat in the easy chair next to the couch. He opened the magazine without bothering to see what it was; he wasn't looking at it anyway.
His mind was back at Heathrow. He was trying to recall the panic he had felt while waiting for the plane. It was unmistakable, the feeling of pending disaster if he didn't get to DC. The panic had lessened when he got on the earlier flight and really hadn't returned until the plane had landed. Then he'd taken a cab into the city to go to a metro station? He hadn't known, he couldn't have known that this strange woman was planning to throw herself under a train. That was ludicrous. But his need to be here was undeniable. It wasn't like he was psychic - well, he never had been.
He looked over at her and saw her watching him. He sat up straighter and after a moment rose and sat on the coffee table nearer her. "Does the father know?"
Tears filled her eyes, but she didn't let them fall. "There is no father."
"You're not seeing him anymore?"
"There's no him. I haven't . . . I haven't been with anyone for over a year."
That stopped him temporarily, she didn't look away. "Dana there, there has to be some sort of contact - "
"I'm a medical student; I know where babies come from." For the first time her eyes flashed in anger.
"I didn't mean to imply . . . you understand what I'm saying, don't you? Is it, is it possible that you," he took a breath, "could you have been . . . attacked? Maybe something happened and, and you don't want to remember it."
"If I had been raped," she closed her eyes for a moment then, "if something like that had happened, there would have been some evidence. I haven't missed any classes, I haven't missed any work, I've woken up here with the doors locked every morning."
He looked at her silently, absorbing that information. One part of him was relieved; he didn't want to think, even for a second, that someone had molested her. He shook his head slightly, to dislodge the thought.
She saw the negative reaction and stiffened, "I'm not lying to you."
He looked at her startled; it hadn't crossed his mind that she was lying. That was a first for him. For most of his life he had lived with the fact that everyone lied. He'd learned at a very early age not to count on anyone.
"No, that's not . . . I'm sorry. I wasn't implying that you were lying. I believe you, really. It's just . . . are you sure you're pregnant?"
"I had it confirmed this morning, just before . . . "
He nodded; she didn't need to finish that sentence. "Are you going to have it?"
She looked away then.
"Look, it's not a decision that has to be made today, and anyway, it's none of my business."
She opened her mouth to protest that statement but then stopped; he was right, it was none of his business. Nothing about this, or her, was any of his business. Why was she sitting here talking to this stranger about something so personal? She drew back from him. What was she thinking?
He spotted the movement, the distance, and felt despair take root. He needed to get out of here, she didn't need him anymore. She didn't look like she was going to try to do anything stupid again.
"Look, I didn't mean to . . . I never did call that cab. I should do that now. I could use my luggage."
"Oh, yeah. Listen, why don't you call the airport and check on the luggage first. You wouldn't want to make a trip out and it not be there."
"Uh, I guess you're right." He was a little confused now; he had thought she wanted him out.
"The phone book is in the desk." She motioned in that direction, but left him to get it. He knew everything else there was to know about her, why worry about anything he would see in the desk. She let her eyes go closed again, though she wasn't sleepy now. She wasn't listening to his words, just the sound of his voice but she could tell he was asking questions.
When he hung up she sat up and turned to him. "Everything okay?"
"Well, actually no. My luggage hasn't arrived; neither has the plane. There were mechanical difficulties; at least that's the official story. Good thing I didn't take that flight."
"I'd be dead."
That statement sent a jolt of electricity up his spine. When he could move again, he resumed his seat on her coffee table. "You have a roommate, don't you?"
"When will she be home?" He could hang around until then. He just couldn't walk out and leave her alone.
"A little over two weeks."
"What?" Had she said two weeks?
"Abby's doing a rotation out of town. She's been gone almost four weeks and she'll be gone at least two more."
"Wait, so you've been alone here for a month?"
She nodded, watching his eyes. His face was so expressive; whatever it was that she had said had sent him into a deep train of thought. "Why?"
"I don't know, it just seems strange that so much would happen while you were alone."
"No one has been in here. I told you, the doors have been locked from the inside each morning. I have to unlock them to get the newspaper. And I'm very careful about that kind of thing." She stopped then, obviously she hadn't been careful enough, he was right, something had gotten in.
He saw her expression and decided to shut up. He didn't have a clue what was going on and why the hell couldn't he hold onto the thought that it was none of his business.
"Mu - Mulder?" He nodded. "Since your stuff hasn't arrived yet, would you like to hang out here until it does. You're probably hungry."
He ducked his head, then looked up with a sheepish grin on his face. "I made myself a sandwich. I hope you don't mind but - "
"No, I'm glad you did. It's the least I could do. I should have made it for you."
He shrugged, "You were a little out of it. What if I fix you one now?"
That surprised a small smile out of her. "No thanks. I'm not hungry."
"But you should probably eat. You're a medical student, you know that. It might help you get your thoughts straightened out too."
The thought of food, any food, made her stomach do a slow roil. She looked down and saw the toast on the table. "I'll eat that, okay?"
He didn't look satisfied, but handed her the plate as he stood and moved toward the kitchen. She almost called out to him, but she realized his direction and eased back into the cushions.
He returned with a glass of apple juice. It was Abby's but he wouldn't know that. She'd replace it before Abby returned.
Rather than talk about herself any more, she took a sip; waited to see if it would stay down, then gave him a grateful smile. "Did you say you were joining the FBI?"
He actually blushed a little at that and she realized suddenly that he wasn't that much older than her. "What made you want to join the FBI?"
"I didn't, I mean, they recruited me."
"Recruited? They came to England to ask you to join?"
"My grades were pretty good."
"Pretty good?" The small smile was back on her face now.
He shrugged. "It's probably sop for my father." She waited, watching him. "He, uh, he works for the State Department."
He shook his head, "Traveling? I don't know."
"Oh, well maybe he recommended you so that you could . . . " She stopped at the look of total surprise on his face. "What?"
"Just the thought of my father recommending me for anything." He shook his head.
"You're not close?"
He kind of chuckled, "No. I haven't seen him in years. He'd send an occasional check, but I didn't ask for them."
"What about your mother?"
"She lives in Connecticut. I hear from her every couple of weeks."
Dana looked away; that sounded so sad. He hadn't mentioned any bothers or sisters. Was he really that alone? "Divorced?"
"Yeah, for years. I was fourteen."
"Don't be. It really was for the best."
She looked away then and decided to change the subject. He didn't seem troubled by his lack of family, but she was incredibly saddened by his matter of fact words.
you might have trouble checking into a hotel with no luggage."
He blinked at the sudden change in subject. "Hadn't thought about that. I, um, I don't suppose you'd be interested in renting out Abby's room for a couple of nights? No, that's asking . . . I'm sorry."
"That, uh, that could work."
His face lightened, "You don't think Abby would mind? I am house broken."
She looked down, smiling. "Okay then." He saw her face grow serious. "Thank you."
He heard the depth of that statement and nodded. "Thank you."
She emerged from the bathroom wearing her pajamas and robe as she saw him coming out of the kitchen. Her hand came up to her mouth but too late to hide her amusement from him.
His eyes narrowed, and he tried to glare at her. That only increased her amusement.
"Look, I don't want to walk around here in my underwear. This was the only robe in Abby's closet." But a smile was beginning to betray him. "My reputation is shot, isn't it?"
"Depends on what kind of reputation you want. But purple isn't your color."
He rolled his eyes, "My own robe happens to be dark green, and somewhere over the Atlantic, I hope."
"I don't think I'm going to tell Abby about this."
"Thanks. You going to bed?"
"I slept so much this afternoon, I'm not really sleepy. But I guess you're tired."
"I don't sleep much. I thought I'd check out American TV. I'll keep it down."
"What if I join you?"
"That would be great." He watched her go into the kitchen. When she returned, the glint of gold around her neck caught his eye. He leaned forward from his seat on the couch. "What's that symbol?' His hand went to his neck.
Her own hand went to her throat and fingered the necklace. "It's my cross." She looked down, "Oh, and my grandfather's wedding ring."
"Oh, they were just caught together. I see now. Your grandfather?"
"Yes, my Mom's father. He died a couple of years ago and my brothers and sister and I each got something. I chose this because my grandparent's marriage was so solid. It's too big for my finger, so I wear it on the chain."
He nodded. He didn't have that kind of relationship with his grandparents. In fact, he had never met his father's parents at all. Without anything to add to the conversation, he flipped on the television and settled himself on the couch.
The sound of her bedroom door opening woke him. She hadn't looked well earlier. He hoped she wasn't going to be sick again. He jumped as her heard her body hit the floor. He scrambled from the bed and raced into the living room.
She was curled up on the floor, her arms around her middle. "Dana! Dana, can you hear me?"
He was on his knees beside her. She groaned and rocked in pain. He looked down and saw blood blossoming on her gown. "Oh god! Dana, I'm calling 911, I won't leave you." Before he could rise to his feet, she groaned again even louder and rolled to her back. To his horror he could see she was pushing.
His hands came out to help her, touch her. There was no doubt that she was losing the baby, but was he going to lose her too? Then the fetus was there, between her legs in another gush of blood. He had to get her help. He couldn't leave her, but yanked the phone from the desk and pulled it across to him.
He dialed 911, demanding help for her, then left the phone off the hook and scrambled for some towels at the operator's instruction. "Dana, can you hear me? An ambulance is on the way."
He forced himself to look at the . . . the baby. His eyes narrowed for a moment, his attention caught. He'd never seen a fetus before, but it . . . it didn't look human. The arms and fingers were too long and the head was too big. He startled back as the large eyes blinked - backwards! The lower lid coming up to meet the upper and the hand grasping. He stared down at it in disbelief - it was much too small to have working lungs, it couldn't weight more than a few ounces. She hadn't even really been showing.
No one should see this. Maybe she'd been right about there not being . . . He could hear the ambulance now. He wrapped the thing in a towel and put it in the tub, then opened the door so that the emergency workers wouldn't have to slow down.
"Dana? Dana, they're here. Please, hold on." He turned as the rescue workers entered the apartment. "Here, over here!"
They were beside her now, checking her, putting in tubes and oxygen. They were talking to themselves, not him. He glanced down and saw that the pajama bottoms he wore were splattered with blood. He needed to get dressed. He ducked into his room and threw on his jeans and t-shirt in about thirty seconds.
He glanced in her room and spotted her grandfather's ring on the dresser. He'd have more access if they were married. He grabbed it and slipped it on his own ring finger. It fit.
They were loading her on the gurney. He would be going with them, whether they approved or not. She wasn't going to be out of his sight as long as he could help it.
That ended when they reached the hospital. She was taken into a cubicle once at the emergency room and he was forced to wait outside. He gave her name as Mulder; they hadn't bothered with her ID trying to get here. That way his own ID would work and he was wearing the ring. He realized that he had no idea how to reach her family.
They finally came to talk to him, offer their sympathy regarding the child and reassure him that they thought she was going to be okay. They wanted her to stay over night, since they had given her two units of blood. He agreed, as if he had any idea what would be best for her.
allow him to sit with her, rather than make him leave when visiting hours were
over. He had dozed off; it had to be close to two when she
stirred. He jerked awake at her movement.
"Dana? Dana can you hear me?"
She turned to him and opened her eyes. "Mulder? Where are we?"
"The hospital. Do you remember? Dana, Honey you lost the . . . the baby." The sight of whatever had been born in that apartment back in his mind.
She closed her eyes and reached for his hand. When he took it, she looked at him again. "I don't know how to feel." He kept quiet, he couldn't tell her what he'd seen, not now anyway. "I mean, I didn't want it, but I think I'm . . . "
"You're going to have to mourn, Dana. Regardless what the circumstances, you suffered a loss."
"A miscarriage doesn't usually mean an overnight stay in the hospital." She looked around the room. "I want to go home."
"No, you need to stay here for now. They did a D&C, I think that's what they said." She nodded, "and you needed a couple of pints of blood."
He nodded, "You were pretty sick. They brought you here by ambulance."
She was obviously surprised by that and he watched her go into herself thinking about what she had been told. He let her think for a while, then squeezed her hand.
"Go back to sleep, Dana. I'll be right here and I'll take you home in the morning. Okay?"
"I'll try. Thank you, for saving my life again."
He managed to smile then, "I'm getting pretty good at it, aren't I?"
She nodded. "I'd like you to keep doing it too." It was barely a whisper.
"I'd be honored." He placed a light kiss on the hand he held. "Go back to sleep, Dana. I'll be right here."
She let her eyes drift closed again and shortly her even breathing told him she was getting the rest she needed. He got more comfortable in his chair, and eventually slept again himself.
The doctor examined her early the next morning and after issuing some warnings, unaware she was a medical student, agreed to release her.
He walked beside the wheelchair. She hadn't bothered to protest that she could walk. These rules were already well known to her. They were quiet in the cab on the ride home. The cabbie might not speak perfect English, but nothing they had to say was for public consumption regardless.
He opened the door to the apartment and let her inside. That's when it hit him that he hadn't been back here since the ambulance had taken her. He hadn't thought about cleaning, about what he had left here.
She spotted the bloody towels on the floor at the same time he did. His arm around her tightened. "Dana, I'm sorry. I didn't think. Why don't you go lie down and I'll clean up."
"I can help you."
"No way. Dana, just go in the other room. Let me handle this. Please."
She saw the look in his eyes and quietly nodded. He turned toward the mess on the floor. Instead of going into the bedroom though, she moved into the bathroom. He didn't see her, his back toward her as he cleaned.
He did hear the water come on in the sink and spun. Oh shit! He opened the door without knocking, but he was too late. She had the bloody towels in her hands and . . .
"Oh my god." Her face was oatmeal colored and her hands dropped the towel.
"Dana, Dana it's . . . come with me." He tried to lead her away, but she refused to move. He turned to lift her into his arms but she shook her head to stop him.
"What is it? Mulder, what . . . what was happening to me?"
"I don't know. Dana, I don't know, but I think you were right about there not being a man . . ."
She shuddered violently then and he lifted her into his arms without further protest. She seemed unable to talk and he had no idea what to say, so he lay her gently on her bed and removed her shoes.
"Dana?" She was still shivering and the fear of shock came to him. Why the hell hadn't he thought to get over here and get rid of that before he brought her home? Because he hadn't wanted to leave her side.
He needed to bring her back. What was the best way?
He toed off his own shoes and crawled into the bed beside her, wrapping himself around her. "Dana, listen to me. I'm here. Try to relax. I'm not going to let anything happen to you. Remember, you belong to me now."
She did seem to relax slightly at his words. Shortly he realized that she had fallen asleep in his arms. She still wasn't recovered from the ordeal she'd been through. He started to move away from her, but she seemed to sense it and grew restless in his arms.
He could wait; he'd clean things up before she woke. For now he could just hold her. He allowed himself to relax as well; he hadn't gotten much sleep the night before himself.
Neither was aware of the loss of electricity in her apartment, nor of the bright light that shown through her windows.
He stirred when the stewardess placed her hand on his shoulder. "Sir, I need you to bring your seat upright and buckle for landing."
"We're landing in Washington. I need you to buckle up."
"Oh yeah. Thanks." He pulled his seat up and ran his hand through his hair. Boy, he had really been asleep; he couldn't even remember a dream. The glint of gold caught his eye and he looked down at his left hand. What the hell? A wedding ring? Where had that come from? He glanced around the plane, was someone playing a joke on him?
He reached to remove the ring, but for some reason stopped. It fit him perfectly. He heard the wheels come down and looked away from the ring toward the window.
Washington, DC, a new job, and a new life. He wasn't a superstitious man, but for some reason finding the ring on his finger felt lucky. What the hell, he left it alone, for now.
Author's note: I've always wondered where that damn ring came from and no one's given me an explanation I like, even me. So this one appeared.