He lay on this couch, unable to move, total despair paralyzing him. His fault. Scully was gone and it was his fault, just like Samantha. They were truly separated now. He’d seen the bright light. If he’d been five minutes earlier . . . Why the hell had he allowed her to take the implant that Lucy Kazdin had given him?
She had saved his life when Duane Barry had held him hostage. But doing that had exposed her to them, exposed that they were in contact. If he had kept his vow, stayed away from her, she would never have come to him like that. Would she?
One night. They had had one night and within hours she had been taken. Why had he thought that checking for listening devices or watching for tails would keep her safe? If he had been strong enough, he would have kept his distance. He wouldn’t have allowed himself . . . one night.
He existed, on some level. Skinner had reopened the X-Files. He had been out in the field, the vampire case, the poltergeist case. He could have really used her on that one, teenage girls weren’t really a group to which he could relate. He’d waited in vain for some extraterrestrial activity. The guys had everything they owned pointed toward picking up something, but activity had dropped to nil.
He moved through the days, on autopilot. Everything he did was with the thought of Scully and Samantha in his mind. He wasn’t sure when it had become Scully and Samantha rather than Samantha and Scully, but it had. Sleep became non-existent. When he did doze off it was only to nightmares and horrors, which unfortunately he usually remembered.
He had only the least possible contact with other humans. He had put forth the most effort with Mrs. Scully. She was a link to his Scully, but after she had asked him to go with her to purchase the headstone . . . He had physically turned his back on it, unable to face it. How could she do that? It was too soon, too damn soon. Why couldn’t he get her to see that?
He’d raced through the streets of DC. If he’d thought about it at all, he would have supposed he intimidated the police, but no one pulled him over or tried to slow him down. He’d also made a scene in the ICU while her mother sat by her side, but he’d had to do something.
He was quieter now, even his anger at the doctor dissipating as he sat beside the bed silently watching her chest move with mechanical breaths. Mrs. Scully and Melissa had gone off. Mrs. Scully was probably praying and Melissa was doing whatever Melissa did. It was a little startling and even off-putting to meet this sister. Not because of her ideas, but the physical proof that Scully had this whole other life in which he had no part.
She was alive, that was what mattered, and she would wake up. He loved her; he was her lover, at least that one night. She would wake up and they would run away, change their names, live in the woods, whatever. He’d give up the X-Files, give up his search for Samantha, at least through official channels. Yeah, right. He looked up as Melissa returned and rose automatically to offer his chair.
“Sit, Mulder, I’m good.”
He hesitated, then resumed his seat. He couldn’t fantasize about her with Melissa here. Mostly he wanted them both to leave, leave him alone with Scully. That wasn’t going to happen.
“She’s trying to decide, Mulder.”
“What?” Her voice breaking the silence startled him. But there wasn’t really any silence, the respirator, the monitors, but they told him life existed in her body, they were welcomed sounds.
“Whether to live or not.”
“Melissa, I - “
“It’s a tough decision. Her body wants to go.”
“Stop it.” He wanted to scream the words, or throttle the woman. Instead he focused on Scully’s face, relaxed and unseeing.
“I think she just can’t decide to leave you.”
His head whipped up, stunned. His mouth opened, but no words emerged.
“I don’t know exactly what your relationship is, I mean ex-partners doesn’t seem to cover it, but if she does live, I think it will be because of you.”
He didn’t even try to respond to that. It wasn’t true, was it? They’d been good partners. He’d forgotten trust could be like that - both given and received, but that night . . .
He jerked back to attention when Mrs. Scully joined them. “The doctor wants to talk to us.”
This time when he rose, his movements were jerky and he knew fear was behind it.
He was back in his apartment. He couldn’t sit with them anymore. The doctor had said immediate family. He wasn’t family. Basically he wasn’t anything, and had no say in the decision.
Pull the life support, separate her from him forever. How could the woman even consider . . . He would never be able to forgive her.
He had the ones that took her. He could exact his own justice then . . . then he’d do what he’d contemplated for so long. X had helped him set it up. He was ready, more ready than he would have thought possible to commit cold-blooded murder. Actually he welcomed it. If she . . . went tonight, he’d try to join her.
That thought actually brought a half-smile to his face. Yeah, like he’d go to whatever afterlife would hold Dana Scully. Not bloody likely.
He jerked when he heard the knock on the door. It was too early and home invaders rarely knocked. He slid the gun out of sight.
Melissa? He whisked her inside, looking around.
He’d sent her off, refusing her request. She was confused by him and more than a little angry, but he had given her no choice. He was planning to commit murder. He couldn’t get her involved. Besides, she was over the top; Scully wasn’t ‘making a decision’ and he couldn’t influence her anyway. He couldn’t. She’d have been so much better off if she’d never met him. He couldn’t keep her alive, could he?
He entered quietly and sat in the chair beside her bed. He talked, he talked and he begged and he cried. There was no response. He should have known. Why had he thought . . . finally he rose. It was nearly 3 a.m. He was stiff from sitting beside her for so long. He trudged to the elevator like a very old man.
His apartment door was open slightly when he arrived. He pushed the door open cautiously, his gun already in his hand. They were gone, leaving complete chaos and destruction in their wake. He stepped over a broken chair and on into the living room. So this was what rock bottom looked like. He leaned against the wall and sank toward the floor.
When he finally rose, knees creaking, he made his way to his couch. He brushed the debris from the seat then sank onto the leather. He hadn’t realized that he still had his gun in his hand until it brushed against his leg. He sat staring at it, fascinated in a way he’d never been before. When they called him, when they told him she was . . . he could, well he would need it then.
When the phone did finally ring he found he couldn’t move. But the sound of his machine forced him. He couldn’t let them do this over a machine.
He made the trip as fast this time as last time, maybe faster, but the trip to the room took longer. She wasn’t just alive, she was awake. Awake. He hesitated just outside of her room and took a deep breath.
He had to see it for himself. He tapped on the door and pushed it open. Mrs. Scully smiled up at him from the chair beside her bed. Melissa looked over at him and nodded, more reserved.
Scully stirred and opened her eyes. She was still too pale, weak, but she looked at him.
“Fox. You didn’t waste any time.” Mrs. Scully looked up at him, smiling fondly at him.
“It’s Mulder, Mom,” Melissa spoke lightly.
Mulder ignored them, his eyes only for her. “Scully? How are you feeling?”
She glanced at her mother, then back at him. “Fox? Are, are you the man that found me?”
He blinked, unable to move.
“Dana? Honey, this is Mulder. You remember him, don’t you?” Mrs. Scully had risen from her seat.
“I, uh, I’m sorry,” she seemed embarrassed.
“It, it’s okay. You’ve been through a lot. I’m just glad you’re awake. I . . . I’ll let you visit with your mother and sister. You get well and, and I’ll see you at work.” He managed to get through it, then nodded to the other women and let himself out.
He made it around the corner before his knees gave out and he had to catch hold of the railing. He took several deep breaths through his mouth, then jerked when he felt the hand on his arm.
“I’m fine.” He stepped away from Melissa.
“She’s going to be okay. She just woke up, she’s confused.”
“But do you understand?”
“When, when did she wake up?”
“According to the nurse, three this morning. She went in to check her IV and found her awake.”
“Th . . . three?”
“Yes. Mulder?” She reached out and took his arm. For just an instant he was grateful for the support.
He straightened up. “Really, I’m okay. Go back, be with your sister.”
“Where are you going?”
“Home. I need to do some housework.”
She huffed in amusement, but he didn’t smile. “All right. If you need to talk or anything . . . “
He nodded and pushed away from the wall, returning to the elevator.
He did return home and called the police. He filled out the report, then began clean up. He needed to keep busy. He worked, keeping his mind occupied. That worked until the afternoon waned.
His need to check on her grew. Maybe she didn’t know him, but he knew her and he had to see her again. She didn’t have to know.
He approached her room cautiously, but Mrs. Scully and Melissa seemed to have left for the evening. She was alone and it looked like she was sleeping. He silently opened the door and let himself in. He wasn’t going to bother her; he just needed to see her.
She turned and opened her eyes. “Agent Mulder?”
“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to disturb you.”
“You should be resting.”
“Apparently that’s all I’ve been doing,” she smiled weakly at him, “and just about all I’m capable of right now.”
“How do you feel?” he asked, wanting to keep her talking.
She nodded. “Not ready to run laps. You didn’t answer me earlier, are you the one that found me?”
“Uh, actually, no one found you. You just turned up here.”
“But you were looking for me.”
“Yes.” He reached inside of the neck of his t-shirt and pulled her small gold cross out. He undid the clasp and handed it to her.
“Who are you?” She couldn’t have said he panicked at those words, but she knew something was wrong. “No, I know you’re Agent Fox Mulder. Who are you to me?”
“I . . . we used to work together.”
“Work together? That doesn’t feel . . . do you do this for all your former partners?”
“Do what?” he asked, avoiding an answer.
“Come to visit them after hours? Wear their crosses?”
“Oh, that. I’m a profiler, I was trying to get a feel - “
“For the victim? Isn’t that a little backward?” She smiled then. “Why do you call me Scully?” She gestured to the chair.
He hesitated, then took the seat. He wanted to talk to her, be with her, and at least she wasn’t afraid of him.
Mulder looked up at the tap on the door. The doctor stepped in and looked pointedly over at him. “I thought this would be a good time to talk to you, Dana.”
“Is something wrong?” Scully asked, watching the doctor’s face. Mulder realized that she had slipped her hand into his. It felt good.
“There are a couple of things we need to discuss, in private.”
Mulder rose. Okay, it didn’t get any more blatant than that. “Sure, I’ll let you two talk. You’re looking a lot better, Scully.”
“Do you have to go?” She looked over at the doctor, then back at him.
He hesitated, she seemed afraid suddenly. “No, I’ve got no plans. Why don’t you talk and then I can come back. I’ll just be down the hall.”
“You don’t mind?”
“No, Scully. I don’t mind.” He squeezed her hand, then nodded to the doctor and let himself out.
He paced the waiting room, which was empty now. Well, it was after visiting hours, not that that had ever deterred him or Scully. Wasn’t this taking a lot of time? The doctor’s face hadn’t looked like he was bringing her good news. New fears tried to surface - brain damage? She’d never remember him? Lingering affect of . . . of whatever had been done to her?
He’d wanted to stay, hold her hand while the doctor spoke with her, but she didn’t know him. She wasn’t afraid of him, but she also didn’t know him right now. No, that was temporary. He wouldn’t believe anything else.
When the door finally opened, the doctor made his way out without glancing toward Mulder. He lost no time getting back to her room. She was lying on her side, her back to the door. Mulder hesitated just moment, then he realized she was crying. Fear raced up his spine.
“Scully? Scully, what is it?” He moved to her side, wanting to take her in his arms, but not wanting to scare her. She still hadn’t spoken. “Scully, do you want me to call your mother?”
“No!” She turned to look at him then, the depth of sorrow in her eyes taking his breath.
“Scully, please, are you . . . What did he tell you?” Fear threatened to close his throat.
She looked so tiny, so alone.
“Scully, talk to me. I . . . I know you don’t think you know me right now, but believe me, somewhere in there you do. You know me better than anyone. And I know you. Whatever he told you, please, let me help you.”
She met his eyes then and in a very small voice asked, “Were we lovers?”
“Yes,” he responded matter of factly. It was true, if not full disclosure regarding the length of their physical involvement. Her eyes filled again and his heart clutched. “Scully, you weren’t raped. I, I checked your file. I’m sorry, I had to. There was no sexual assault. Did he - “
“No, I wasn’t raped. They, they took my baby.”
He blinked, unable to process her words.
“Did you know I was pregnant when they . . . “ He sank down beside her on the bed, unable to stand. “I guess not.”
“How, how far along . . . “
“Ten to twelve weeks according to the examination.”
His eyes closed. Yes, the timing was right. It hadn’t crossed his mind. “Are, are you okay, physically?”
She nodded. “The doctor said it was a very so-sophisticated procedure they performed on me. Who? Mulder, who did this? Why would someone do this?”
He shook his head. Ideas immediately came to him that he had to push aside for now. He couldn’t handle it, not yet. “Scully, I, I don’t know what to . . . “ He moved closer to her and when she didn’t pull away, took her into his arms. She buried her face in his chest and sobbed.
He held her, murmuring soft sounds to her, rocking her. When the crying finally tapered off to hiccupping breaths, he thought she had fallen asleep. Instead, she settled herself against him and looked up into his eyes. “Did you and I ever talk about children?”
“No. We never discussed it.” He brushed the hair back from her face.
“Did you, do you want children?”
He took a deep breath. “I never really thought about it for myself. I wouldn’t know how to be a father to anyone. I didn’t have much of a role model.”
She nodded, not commenting.
“Scully, if I ever do have kids, I only want them with you.”
Her eyes teared up again, but she didn’t cry. “You’re in love with me.”
“Yes.” There was no hesitation in his answer. She felt that as well as heard it and seemed to relax even further. “Scully, you need to get some rest. You were in a coma twenty-four hours ago. I’ll get you something from the nurse to help you sleep.”
“No, please. No drugs. I’ve had enough drugs in my system.”
He couldn’t dispute that. Byers’ investigation agreed with her. He nodded. “Okay, but lie back, close your eyes.”
“Are you l-leaving?” She was embarrassed that her voice shook slightly on that last word. She didn’t remember this man, but she knew him. She trusted him. She’d carried his child.
“I’m not going anywhere.” He pressed his lips to her forehead, “and I’m armed. They can’t get rid of me easily.”
She gave a shaky chuckle that was half sob. He helped her lie against the pillow. “You’re not leaving?”
“I’m not leaving. I promise.” She didn’t look completely reassured. He toed off his shoes and reclined beside her, taking her in his arms. “I’m right here.”
He felt her slip under finally and let his eyes close for a moment. He hadn’t slept much last night. Oh hell, he hadn’t slept much in three months. She was here, she was alive and she would remember him. He turned his mind from anything else. She was the only priority right now.