His grin widened as his theory grew. He was leaned back, precariously, in his chair and watched her as she tried to keep a straight face. It only egged him on. It was a game they played often.
“Mulder, you know you’re full of it.” She finally met his eyes. Her headache wasn't as bad when he was talking. It was just a nagging one anyway, but she'd had it since this morning. She hoped she wasn’t coming down with something. She’d woken with her throat sore. Not a scratchy throat, but sore as though she’d strained her voice all night.
“It’s why you love me so.” He winked. She rolled her eyes and rose from her chair.
His smile vanished as her face drained of color and she grabbed the desk to keep from falling. He was on his feet and beside her before she could draw a breath.
“Yeah, right. Sit down.” He held the chair for her to sit, then squatted beside her. He placed the back of his hand to her cheek and for once she kept quiet. “I think you have a fever.”
She sighed, “I don’t have time to be sick.” She closed her eyes.
“Sure you do. You have a great partner, who’ll handle everything.”
She opened one eye and looked at him, then slammed it closed again without comment.
“Come on, Scully, how do you feel?”
“Achy, a headache.” She responded. She didn’t see the automatic fear in his eyes at the word headache. “I think you’re right about the fever. Damn. I guess I go home. Maybe I can knock it out tonight.”
“Good idea, spend the day in bed, resting. Come on.”
“Yeah, I’ll give you a ride.”
“Mulder, that’s not necessary. I have my car.”
“You couldn’t even stand up a minute ago. Your car will be fine here.”
She opened her mouth to protest, but he pinned her to the chair with his eyes. She capitulated, making grumbling noises.
He took her arm and helped her to her feet, then let her get steady. “Dizzy?”
“Maybe a little, just light-headed.”
He nodded and held her jacket for her. “Wait a minute.” He ducked around his desk and pulled open the lap drawer. He dug through the junk for a second and came up with a bottle of aspirin. “Here, take these.” He shook two into her hand and reached for her bottle of water.
“Thanks.” She swallowed them and returned the water to him when he reached for it.
“Let’s get you home.”
She nodded and allowed his arm around her as they headed for his car.
He could see her fever had climbed, regardless of the aspirin, by the time they reached her place. Her eyes had that glassy look.
“Scully, maybe you should go to a doctor.”
She looked up into his concerned eyes and managed to smile. “Maybe later, if the fever gets worse. I want to give the aspirin a chance and maybe a nap.”
He decided not to argue, and let himself out of the car. He hurried around to help her. She was even less steady on her feet and he used that as an excuse to hold her to him as they made their way inside.
He took her coat and draped it over the couch, then led her to the bedroom. He sat her on the side of the bed, then knelt in front of her to remove her shoes.
“I feel like Cinderella.” She actually giggled, giggled, Scully! He grinned up at her. She was obviously loopy from the fever. Scully didn’t say things like that. “And you’re Prince Charming.”
He wished. “That’s right, Scully. And after you’re well, I’ll carry you off on my white horse.”
He watched as a blush took over her face. A blush? No, must be the fever. “Come on, stretch out and get comfortable.” He pulled the light blanket up from the foot of the bed. “Try to sleep. I’ll check on you in a little while.”
“Sure, I can write the report from your computer just as well. Then I can make you some lunch.”
Her eyes closed and he heard her mumble something about ‘Mulder in the kitchen’. He couldn’t help but smile, she looked like a little girl, snuggled in and already mostly asleep.
He gave her a little kiss on the forehead, just to check for fever, he assured himself, then left the room, pulling the door nearly closed behind him.
Once in the living room, he picked up her coat, pulling out her cell phone and turning it off. He placed it in the charger. He switched off his own phone to save his charge as he reached for her home phone. Better let Skinner know where they had disappeared.
He wandered into the kitchen as he dialed Skinner’s office. He had his head in the refrigerator when Skinner’s voice sounded in his ear. “Skinner.”
“Oh uh, I was expecting Kim.” Mulder stammered, straightening up.
“Would you like me to take a message for her?” Skinner asked dryly.
“No, I was . . . sorry. Scully took ill at work, I’ve brought her - “
“Ill? What’s wrong with her?” Skinner broke in.
“Yeah, she - “ His head swiveled as he heard the crash from her bedroom. He dropped the phone on the table and raced to her.
“Mulder? Mulder!” Skinner called through the phone. “Damn it, Mulder.” Skinner hung up, then dialed Mulder’s cell phone. He got voice mail, so he dialed Scully’s. Again the voice mail. He tried Scully’s home phone next and got a busy signal. Shit.
He grabbed his jacket and headed for the door.
Mulder opened her bedroom door to find her clutching her dresser. Her jewelry box was open and on the floor. His arm went around her immediately and he led her back to the bed.
“What were you doing?” His fear made his voice harsh.
“I just wanted to go to the bathroom. I’m sorry, I knocked - “
“I’ll get that, don’t worry about it. Why didn’t you call me?”
She tried to smile, “I don’t need you to take me to the bathroom.”
“Apparently you do right now.” His arm tightened around her. He lifted her to her feet. He led her to the bathroom and pushed the door open.
“Far enough, Mulder.”
“Okay, but call me when you’re ready to head back to the bedroom. You’re too dizzy to try to walk it. I’m gonna get you some more aspirin.”
She nodded, and pushed the door closed in his face.
He got a glass of water and found a bottle of ibuprofen. He returned to her bedroom and scooped up her jewelry and the box. She’d have to sort things out, but she wouldn’t step on anything this way.
He heard the bathroom door open and hurried to her side. “You’re going back to bed.”
“Promises, promises.” She said softly, as though to herself. He looked down at her, but kept him mouth closed. She was feverish; she didn’t know what she was saying.
He settled her on the bed, then handed her two more tablets. When she popped them in her mouth, he gave her the glass of water. “You’re a good nurse, Mulder.”
He did smile at that. “Only for special duty, and only for one patient. Lie down. You should be asleep already.”
She nodded and let her eyes slip closed. He squeezed her hand and adjusted the blanket over her, then quietly pulled the door nearly closed behind him.
He booted up her computer and got comfortable to write the report.
He was startled about twenty minutes later by the sharp knock on the door. He pushed back the chair and hurried to the door before the noise could disturb her. He automatically checked the peephole, then pulled the door open.
“What happened?” He stepped into the apartment.
Mulder glanced into the kitchen and spotted the phone lying on the table. He’d completely forgotten the phone call. “Sorry. I forgot. She tried to get up and tripped.”
“Just tripped? You said she was ill.”
“Uh, yeah. She was running a fever and was light-headed. I thought I could work on our report here.”
“It’s not. . . There were no nose bleeds?” Skinner glanced toward the hall leading to her bedroom.
Mulder just stared at him.
Skinner seemed to realize what he’d said then, and found he couldn’t meet Mulder’s eyes.
“I, uh, I think it’s just a virus." Mulder finally said. "She’s running a fever. I’m sure she’ll be okay in a day or so.”
“Good.” Skinner pulled his authority around him. “Well, I’ll leave you to look after her. If you need anything, let me know.”
“Sure. Sorry I dropped the phone like that.”
“If she called you, I understand. Well, I better get some lunch and get back to work. Thank you for taking the initiative on getting her home.”
Mulder nodded, unsure what to say. He closed the door behind his supervisor and leaned against it. Skinner had driven all the way over here to check on Scully? He’d left work? And he’s thought about nose bleeds, just as Mulder had when she’d mentioned the headache and been dizzy. Why was Skinner that concerned? Scully was his.
He blinked as he processed that thought. His? Well, she was. Who the hell did Skinner think he was, checking up on her like this? He found himself moving toward her room, just to look in.
She was asleep. The blanket had slipped down and her shoulder was exposed. When had she taken off her blouse? He pulled the light blanket back up and lightly touched her forehead. It was still too warm. He needed to get her fever down.
He retreated to her bathroom and wet a washcloth to bathe her face. She didn’t wake when he placed the cool cloth to her heated skin. He wanted to see her eyes, but decided not to disturb her further.
Reluctantly he returned to the living room, leaving the door open wider than before.
She couldn't move. It was as though she were being held fast by the very air itself. There were no sensation of straps that she could feel, but she couldn't even move her head, only her eyes. She wasn't alone, she could feel others, but she couldn't see them. She was terrified. There was no noise, no sound of machines or the murmuring of people, but she knew they were there, watching her, observing her. There was a large light above her; the only thing in her range of vision. It was bright, but for some reason not glaring. Even as she watched it, it seemed to extend itself down toward her. It finally resolved into, for lack of a better word, a spinning pointer. A dentist drill came to her mind. It wasn't aimed at her mouth, but lower, toward her abdomen.
She strained to see if it was going to stop and saw her stomach, distended and huge as though she was . . . was pregnant. The drill touched her skin and she screamed in agony and terror. But she knew no sound escaped her lips. Mulder!
She couldn't move. The table on which she lay was cold metal and hard; there was no sheet to soften it. She was strapped to it, the canvas of her bindings cut into her wrists when she tried to move. There was wide band across her chest, and others over her legs. Only her head was free. She looked around, trying to understand what was happening. She was in a long, narrow room with medical equipment and cabinets lining the walls. She jerked as the door opened and someone in a level four bio-hazard suit entered. She couldn't see a face and when she tried to speak, no sound came. She watched in horror as the person, she still couldn't say male or female, picked up a syringe and approached her. The needle was inserted into an IV she hadn't even noticed and the plunger depressed.
Fire raced through her veins and she arched in pain, screaming but there was no sound. Mulder!
She couldn't move. It was dark and the motion was nauseating. She found she couldn't brace herself. She realized her hands were bound behind her back as she struggled. What was happening? Where was she? She was well and truly frightened now. She was slung to one side and discovered that her legs were bound as well, though there wasn't room to stretch out. Trunk? She was in the trunk of a car and from the movement, the road was made up of switchbacks and the grade fairly steep. Her tongue ran across the cloth in her mouth. It tasted dusty and a faint odor of ether remained. She thought about screaming, but who other than her captor would hear? The car rounded another curve too fast and her head connected with something metal, causing blinding pain. The silent cry died in her throat. Mulder!
She looked over at the window. A movement had caught her eye. She moved in that direction and saw his face, distorted in the glass. Before she could react, the window imploded toward her and he seemed to surge into her apartment. No! "Mulder! I need you!" She screamed into the phone she found in her hand.
Mulder hit save, then leaned back to reread the last paragraph. He should be writing fiction for a living instead of trying to justify some of the expense forms he had to compose.
"Mulder! I need you!"
His heart nearly stopped at her scream, but his body was already moving toward her; the chair just now toppling to its side on the floor.
She was sitting up in the bed, reaching for him even as he burst into the room. There was no hesitation; he grabbed her to him, holding her shaking body close to his.
"Scully, Scully it's okay. I'm right here." The shaking didn't decrease as she seemed to burrow into him. What the hell? She didn't have nightmares, did she? She'd never mentioned them, but this seemed more of a night terror. He realized his hands were moving up and down her back, trying to soothe her. Without her blouse, it wasn't especially soothing to him.
She was beginning to calm down, finally. He was on the bed with her, his back against her headboard. He'd wrapped her with a fresh sheet. When her fever had broken, she'd soaked the first one. Now she was cuddled firmly to his chest. He could feel her heartbeat slowing. He placed his lips to her forehead again.
"Can you tell me what happened?" He asked softly.
"It was just a dream, the fever - "
She looked down at his hand, moving slowly and gently up and down her arm.
"Rarely." His arms tightened around her. "Really, Mulder."
"What was the dream?"
Still she hesitated; this was admitting a weakness she didn't want to acknowledge. If not for this virus, he wouldn't know.
"Please." He whispered the word into her hair.
She scrunched in closer. Why was this so hard? She certainly didn't think less of him for his nightmares. In fact, she admired the way he withstood them.
"Duane . . . Duane Barry," she whispered.
"Oh god." She felt his lips on her head. "I'm sorry, Scully. I'm so sorry."
She looked up then. "You're not to blame." She stated it firmly and her eyebrow rose when he opened his mouth to protest. "You. Are. Not. To. Blame. Do you need to repeat that after me?"
He shook his head, but his eyes didn't lose the guilt.
"I'm screaming for you, but I can't make any noise. I'm in different places, the train, the trunk of his car, but I can't scream out loud. When I did, you came."
"I didn't get there in time."
"I'm not talking about then. Today. You came immediately when I called for you. Just like I always know you will."
He looked confused then.
"If I call for you, Mulder, you always come. I just have to allow myself to do it."
At that he nodded, "Please call me."
She smiled slightly then. "I think you hear me anyway, Mulder. In your heart."
His arms tightened, he couldn't disagree.
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Mulder, Scully, the Lone Gunman and Skinner all belong to Chris Carter, 10-13 and Fox. No infringement intended.