Simple Choices 4/? (R)

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She was standing at the far end of the nurse’s station making notes in a chart when something made her look up.  He was headed for the main desk and everyone was giving him the eye.  In that suit, cut so perfectly for those long legs and that ass . . . everyone, and that included the only male nurse, Vince.

 

She didn’t speak, but his head turned and he spotted her.  His smile grew.

 

He moved easily toward her.  He didn’t kiss her, but his hand brushed hers and it felt as though he had.  “What are you doing here?”

 

“I couldn’t stay away,” he answered as a smile lit up his face.

 

“Good answer, but why are you here?”

 

His smile slipped.  “I have to go out of town.  I wanted to let you know and give you this.”  He dangled a key in front of her.  “I want you to stay at the apartment while I’m gone.  No excuse,” he said as she opened her mouth to protest.  “The fish need you, Dana.”

 

She did smile then.  “How long will you be gone?”

 

“A couple of days at least.  Will you be okay?”

 

“Yes.  Lonely, but okay.  When do you leave?”

 

“Now.”

 

“Now?” That slipped out before she could stop it.  Coming home to him had become the best part of her day.

 

“Are you sure you’ll be okay?”

 

“Of course, but I’ll probably miss you.”

 

“You better.  I’ll call you tonight.”

 

She nodded, not wanting him to realize the loneliness she was already beginning to feel.  “Be careful.”

 

He nodded and squeezed her hand once more.  Then he turned and left the clinic.  She took a deep breath and returned to work.

 

*****

 

She stopped to pick up dinner on her way home.  As she let herself into his apartment, she was surprised at how empty the place felt without him.  She ate with the TV on, on the Sci Fi channel, though she chided herself for it.

 

She cleaned the kitchen, then since she was alone, ran a bubble bath and sank down into the warmth.  She should take advantage of this more often.  It wouldn’t be that long before she’d have to forego the tub.  She let her hand caress the slight curve to her stomach.  Her breasts were larger, fuller, but when she was dressed no one could tell she was pregnant, except Mulder of course.  She relaxed in the suds until the water cooled.  It had been a long time since she’d indulged herself like this and it felt good.

 

Ready for bed early, she headed back for the living room. She knew she was waiting for his call and had a flashback to high school that caused a faint smile on her face.  Reading didn’t hold her attention and soon her eyes grew heavy.  She thought about moving to the bed, but it seemed like too much effort, so she cuddled in under his afghan.

 

She was drifting between awake and asleep when the phone rang.  She snatched it up on the first ring.  “Hello?”

 

“That’s the best thing I ever heard from my apartment.”

 

Her smile grew.  “It feels funny being here without you.”

 

“Please know it feels terrible from this end.  I especially like it when you hunt me down in the night and - “

 

“Mulder,” he could hear the humor in her voice.

 

“I’m just being honest, Dr. Scully.”

 

“Well if we’re being honest, I kind of miss you too.”

 

“So what are you doing to keep yourself occupied without me?”  She could hear him getting comfortable and visualized him sprawled out on a bed in some motel.

 

“I took a bubble bath.”  He made a noise she couldn’t quite interpret and she pulled a pillow around to support her.

 

“That . . . that’s a visual I might use to get me through this.”

 

“What is ‘this’?  Or can you talk about it?”

 

“Um, not good conversation material.”  There was a pause, then, “I need to get back.  I’m on break and Patterson isn’t the most tolerant.  I’m sorry.”

 

“No, don’t be.  Thank you for checking in and letting me know you’re safe.”

 

“I’ll call back tomorrow.  Take care of yourself.”

 

“I will.  You do the same.”

 

He chuckled at that.  “Sleep well.”  He broke the connection then and the apartment seemed so much lonelier without his voice.  She thought about moving to the bed, but she was comfortable and his scent surrounded her.  She pulled the afghan tighter around her and drifted off.

 

It wasn’t a peaceful night for her.  Unremembered dreams had awakened her several times but at least there was no morning sickness.  She was stunned at how lonely she felt without him, but shoved that aside and got ready for work.

 

It was a busy day at the clinic, so that kept her mind off of him most of the day.  It was around two when one of the nurses stuck her head in the door of the examining room, just as she was finishing up.  “You have a call on line two.”

 

She gave the nurse a quick thanks and hurried to her office.  “Dr. Scully.”

 

“It’s Ethan.”

 

Without a word she started to put the receiver down, but heard him call.  “Don’t hang up!  Dana please.”

 

She hesitated, but finally brought the phone back to her ear.  “We have nothing to talk about.”

 

“I need some help.”

 

“You need a lot more help than I can give you.”

 

There was silence for a moment.  When he spoke again, his voice sounded carefully restrained.   “Dana, there’s some business - “

 

“I only took what was mine.  Ask your lawyer.”

 

“I know that, but we were married, I need - “

 

“We were never married.  You made sure of that.”  She hated that her voice shook a little, but the call had caught her off guard.

 

He was silent again for a moment.  “You know I took the plea.”

 

“Yes,” she answered shortly.

 

“Well, that’s a guilty plea, so I need to get some things settled for while I’m gone.”

 

“That’s what lawyers are for.”

 

“He needs your signature, for the house, my car was in both names . . .”

 

There was a long hesitation then she sighed.  “Have him send me the papers.  I do not want to see him.”

 

“Yeah, okay.  You filed for the divorce?“

 

“Yes.  You should have a copy.”

 

“I probably do.  The post office is holding my mail.”

 

“Are we through?”

 

“Are, are you doing okay?  The baby - “

 

“I’m not talking to you about any of that.  Just have your attorney send the papers to the clinic in DC.  I’ll sign them and send them back.”

 

“Yeah, okay.  Dana, I’m - “

 

“Don’t.  And don’t call me again.  If you need to communicate with me, have your attorney call.  Goodbye.”  She broke the connection and folded her hands in her lap.  They were shaking and she felt . . . dirty just talking to the man.  She realized she hadn’t checked in with Kathee in a couple of days, but she couldn’t face it now.  This stress wasn’t good for the baby, Mulder’s child.  She took several deep breaths and caressed her stomach.  Mulder wouldn’t be home tonight and she felt his absence like a blow.

 

Before she could leave the room, the phone rang again.  Ethan wouldn’t call back, would he?  “Dr. Scully.”  Her voice was steady but professionally distant.

 

“Dana?” He sounded breathless.

 

“Mulder, are you all right?”

 

“Yeah, I’m fine.  Are you okay?  What’s wrong?”  He was getting his breath back but the worried tone hadn’t left his voice.

 

“Nothing’s wrong.”

 

“You’re sure, the baby?”

 

“We’re both good, Mulder.  Is that why you called?”

 

“I, I don’t know.  I just had to hear your voice.”

 

“Are you okay?  You’re out of breath.”

 

“I, uh, I didn’t have reception on my phone.  I had to . . . “

 

“Thank you, thank you for worrying about us.”

 

“Like I could stop.  Did something happen?  I was sure - “

 

Ethan, she thought, but didn’t say it.   There was nothing Mulder could do anyway.  “Are you, do you know when you can come home?”

 

“We’re getting closer, tomorrow, maybe the next day.  Dana, you don’t sound like yourself.  Are you sure you’re okay?  There’s nothing wrong with you or the baby?”

 

“I’m fine, Mulder.  It’s been a busy day . . . and I miss you.”

 

“God, I miss you too.  I don’t know if I’ll be home tomorrow, but there’s been a break and I, I hope it won’t be but another day or two.”

 

“Good, I want you here and, and I think you need to be here.”

 

“Do I ever.  Look, I’m not going to be able to call tonight.  There’ll be a lot going on.  Just, just know I love you.”

 

“Mulder - “ but he had broken the connection.  “I love you too,” she said quietly and turned back to her folder.

 

She found herself with little appetite when she left the clinic, but forced herself to again stop and pick up dinner on the way home.  She surprised herself by ordering a cheeseburger, but it was what she wanted. Then she hurried home to lock herself in for the night.  It had to be Ethan’s phone call that had unnerved her so; and of course Mulder still being out of town.

 

After her early dinner she realized how exhausted she was and stretched out on the couch again.  It was much too early to go to bed, but she could barely keep her eyes open.

 

###

 

She was in the woods moving quickly; other shadow figures were hurrying along with her.  She felt heavy but the feeling that she needed to move even more swiftly was on her.  There, that was the building she’d been looking for.  It looked decrepit from the outside, but she could tell that the door was reinforced and the hinges new, but painted in order not to catch the light.  The windows were blacked out and there was no sound except the scrunch of the leaves under her feet.

 

She opened the door cautiously and was struck dumb at the sight.  It was an abattoir, a slaughter house. She’d never seen, or smelled, anything like it.  Hooks hung from the ceiling and the remainder of a woman’s body hung from one of them.  The table held instruments of all kinds, most bloody, along with smaller body parts.  She saw a couple of fingers and braids of hair that had been dipped in blood and carelessly thrown on the table before she turned away. 

 

The view away from the table was not much better; there was blood on the walls as well.  She stopped, stunned, in front of a flower - a small daisy, as though drawn by a child - drawn on the wall in blood.  It looked like something she would have drawn in kindergarten using yellow finger paint.  There were words as well, names of the victims, other words that she couldn’t put into context, all written in blood.  A movement in the corner drew her attention.  They weren’t alone, he was there - Left! To the left!

 

###

 

She woke, chest heaving, tears of terror in her eyes. She clutched the afghan to her and forced her breathing under control.  What the hell?  Had her conversation with Ethan unnerved her that much?  She settled back against the pillow, and reached for the remote and flipped on the TV.  That wasn’t like her, she never slept with the TV on, but tonight . . . She curled onto her side and after a long time slept again.

 

She woke unrested the next morning but at least she wasn’t sick. She wanted to talk to Mulder.  She shook that off and took a shower and got ready for work. 

 

She reached for her purse, but then stopped.  She needed to speak with Mulder.  She turned back to the phone and dialed the main switchboard at the Bureau.  After being put on hold a couple of times and transferred two or three times, a man answered the phone.  “AD Skinner.  How may I help you?”

 

“I’m trying to get in touch with Agent Fox Mulder.”

 

“May I ask why?”

 

“I . . . is he all right?”

 

“I’m sorry; your name please?”

 

“I’m Dr. Dana Scully.”  Her voice was beginning to betray her annoyance.

 

“Scully?  I, just a minute please.”  Once again she was placed on hold. 

 

Her temper had the best of her now.  She was ready to hang up and call back when Mr. Skinner came back on the line.  “I’m sorry to keep you waiting, Dr. Scully.  How can I help you?”

 

“I just wanted to know if there was a way to get in touch with Agent Mulder.  I don’t want to interfere with his case, but  - “

 

“Agent Mulder is going to be fine.”

 

“Going to be?“  Her voice rose and shook ever so slightly.

 

“He was injured last night, during an arrest.  He was transported by ambulance and they kept him overnight.  My information is that there was no medical reason to keep him any longer.  He’ll be flying home this afternoon.”

 

She was silent, absorbing the information. 

 

“Dr. Scully?  I’m sorry for the delay in informing you, there was some confusion when the information came in.”

 

“Confusion?”  Her breath was shallow and she had to concentrate on his words.

 

“The change order for next of kin hadn’t completed processing.  I recognized your name.”

 

“Next of . . . “ She shook her head, unimportant.  “What are his injuries?”

 

“He was shot in the left shoulder.  They had to perform surgery to remove the bullet but word I’ve received is that he’s already making a nuisance of himself to get out.”

 

“What flight?”

 

“I don’t know at this time.  Give me your number and I’ll have my assistant call you personally when we find out.”

 

“Th-thank you.”

 

“Dr. Scully, I apologize again for the delay.  I assure you Kim will keep you up to date.”

 

She nodded, still stunned at the turn of events, then realized she hadn’t spoken.  She quickly gave him a couple of phone numbers and hung up.  Then she sank onto the couch where she had slept the last two nights.  Shot?  Okay, she knew he was an FBI agent, but it had never really penetrated that he was in that kind of danger when he was out on a case.  He could have been . . . She closed her eyes and found the pillow she had used during the night pressed to her face, breathing in the essence of him.

 

*****

 

He looked up startled when he heard her voice, then a confused smile took over his face.  She’d come to the airport?  To, to meet him?  How had she known the flight? For that matter how had she known something was wrong?  Her eyes were on the sling as she rushed to him.  “I’m okay, Dana I’m okay.”

 

She didn’t try to speak, just holding him for a moment.  He relished the feel of her against him.  No one had ever met him coming home before.  Damn, it was worth the bullet.  He swayed slightly when she stepped back, though he tried to hide it.


”I had to check my bag.  Come on.”  With his good arm around her, he led her to baggage claim.  He was less steady on his feet than he wanted her to see.   As they stood in the baggage claim area, she silently took note of the dark circles under his eyes.  When his bag came around, she reached for it.  “Don’t even think about it, Dana.”

 

“You were shot.  You’re not going to carry - “

 

“And you’re pregnant,” he nuzzled her ear.  “I’m carrying the suitcase, but I’ll let you drive.”  He spotted the tears in her eyes and pulled her against him again.  “I’m okay.  I’m here, I’m with you.  I’m okay.”

 

“You’re not okay, Mulder, not yet.  It’s too soon after your injury and I can certainly manage one suitcase.  It’s not that big.  It won’t hurt me,” she insisted as she reached for his bag.

 

After hesitating for a moment, he nodded with a strained sigh and leaned into her, brushing the tears from her cheeks.

 

“And, I’m staying home tomorrow, to keep an eye on you,” she added.

 

“I like the sound of that,” he said softly.

 

She led him to the car and helped him buckle in.  They were quiet on the way home.  He kept his eyes on her, but her eyes remained on the road.  At the apartment he again lost the argument to carry his bag.  She led him to the couch and had him recline with a pillow to support his arm and brought him a glass of tea.

 

“Are you hungry?” she brushed his hair back, needing to touch him.

 

“You know, I believe I am.  Come to think of it, I haven’t eaten since yesterday afternoon.”

 

“Mulder! You’ve been taking pain medication on an empty stomach!  No wonder you’re so woozy.”

 

“I only took one, just enough to let me get back here to you.  It’s already wearing off.  After I get something on my stomach I’ll be fine.  Just call in for whatever you want.  I could eat anything.”

 

“Well you’re in luck.  While I was waiting to go to the airport I fixed some dinner.  I just need to heat it up.”

 

“You cook?”

 

She glared at him.  “I used to cook quite a bit.”

 

“Incredible, you work full time, you’re pregnant and now I find out you’re a gourmet cook.”

 

“I didn’t say gourmet.  And I was not exactly able to concentrate on a complicated recipe.  This came off the back of a soup can.”

 

“That’s still more complicated than I usually attempt.”

 

“Relax.  This won’t take long.”

 

“I could help - “

 

“No.  You rest.”  His hand took hers and played with her fingers until she was out of reach.  It didn’t take long to heat up the casserole.  She hated to wake him, but if he hadn’t eaten in over twenty-four hours that was more important now. 

 

“Mulder?  Wake up.  You need to eat, then you can go on to bed.”

 

“Umm, yeah,” he mumbled and opened his eyes.  Seeing her leaning over him he smiled.  He pulled her down and met her lips.

 

“Mulder, food first.”

 

“I need this more.”  He could feel her smile against his lips. When she pulled back he allowed it, though he gave her a pout.

 

She laughed out loud in relief that he was able to play.  “Come eat, Mulder.”  She started to help him sit up but he scowled at her.

 

“I can do this.”

 

She rolled her eyes but allowed him to sit up and move toward the table.  She served his plate and he ate with gusto.  “What is this?”

 

“Chicken and broccoli with rice.”

 

“Broc - there’s broccoli in this?”

 

“Shut up, Mulder.”

 

He chuckled and held out his plate for seconds.  After dinner he agreed to go back to the couch while she cleaned up.  When she returned to the main room it was to find him looking through a file.  He realized she was back and flipped the file closed.

 

“You’re not supposed to be working, Mulder.”

 

“I’m not.  I just have to be ready to file my report.”

 

“Later.  You’re recuperating tonight.  Don’t tell me you aren’t tired.  I want you to take your medication and get ready for bed.”

 

“Mmm, I like anxious women.”

 

She rolled her eyes and this time did take his good arm to help him to his feet.  When he started for the bathroom, she bent down to pick up a piece of paper that had fallen to the floor.  It was a photograph.  She flipped it over and gasped.

 

Mulder whirled back toward her.  “Dana?”

 

“What, what is this?” She held out the photo with a shaking hand.  Her pallor frightened him.

 

He took it and led her back to the couch and seated her.  “Dana?”

 

“What is that!”

 

He glanced down at the photo then and closed his eyes.  “Dana, please - “

 

“It’s a flower, right?  It’s a flower drawn in blood on the wall of a building out in the woods.”

 

His mouth fell open.  “How did - “

 

“I saw it.  Last night, I entered that building, I saw that woman on the hook, the names written on the wall.”

 

“That’s not possible.”

 

“I thought it was a dream, a nightmare because, because I was upset.  But that wasn’t it.  I was seeing this through, through your eyes.” Her voice grew softer as she spoke.

 

“You, you believe that?”

 

She shook her head, but said, “What else can it be?”

 

His eyes widened then.  “It was you.”  She looked up puzzled.  “I heard your voice, you screamed ‘left, to the left’.  It was your voice and I turned.  It’s the reason the bullet only hit my shoulder.  I was wearing Kevlar, but the angle . . . Dana?”

 

Her eyes were locked on him.  “I saw a movement and I yelled that in my dream.  Kevlar, I felt heavy as I was walking through the woods.   Mulder?”

 

He took a deep breath.  “Let’s get ready for bed.”

 

“What?”

 

“I need you to relax.  Come on.”

 

“I, I was going to sleep out here. I don’t want to hurt your shoulder.”

 

He shook his head.  “And I don’t want anyone stumbling or tripping as we sleep walk to each other tonight.  Let’s just start out in the same bed and save a little time.  Dana, I need to hold you tonight.”

 

She looked at him for a moment, then nodded.  He followed her into the bedroom.  She took the bathroom first and when she emerged in her nightgown, saw him struggling with his own clothing.  Without a word she finished unbuttoning his shirt and slipped off his sling long enough to tug the shirt off. 


“What about a t-shirt?  That will help keep your arm still and be more comfortable than the sling while you sleep.”  He nodded and allowed her to pull the shirt over his head.  “I’ll get your medicine.”

 

She left the room, not seeing or ignoring the hand he reached out to stop her.  He could see how disturbed she was by her revelations.  It had happened; she had saved his life last night.  It had been her voice that caused him to turn.  He’d been horrified at the thought that she had somehow shown up at the site . . . of course that was absurd.  There was no way she could have appeared, but she had been there.  She had seen - He looked up to see her returning with a bottle of pills and a glass of water.

 

She was so lovely.  The gown clung to her as she moved toward him.  He could see that her stomach was no longer completely flat and he marveled again that this woman carried his child.

 

“Mulder?”

 

“Yeah.”  He held out his hand for her.  She moved against him and he felt the shudder that ran through her body.  “We don’t have to think about this tonight.”

 

“You think we can stop?”

 

He sighed.  “We have to try.  Could you open the medicine for me?”

 

She nodded and shook two pills into his hand.  He tossed them into his mouth and took the glass of water.

 

He climbed into the bed and after she made sure his arm was supported, she walked around the bed and crawled in beside him.  He pulled her against him and she relaxed into his warmth.

 

She started to ask a question, but he shushed her gently.  “Just rest tonight.  We’re together and there’s nothing we can do tonight about any of this.”

 

She nodded and seemed to move even closer if possible.  She closed her eyes and in a moment, so did he.

 

 

When he woke the next morning it was to find her sitting up against the headboard, watching him sleep.  “Dana?  You okay?”

 

“I, I don’t know.”

 

“You take the bathroom first.”

 

She nodded and left the bed.  When the door shut, he managed to rise, his body stiff, and headed toward the kitchen.  He was back, sitting on the bed when she emerged.  “I’ll make the coffee.”

 

“It’s already started; it should be ready in a minute.”

 

She seemed to nod and reached for her robe.  He brushed her hand as he moved around her toward the bathroom.  When he returned to the bedroom it was empty so he turned toward the kitchen. 

 

She was sitting at the table with a cup of coffee in front of her, staring into its depths.  “Dana?”

 

She didn’t look up.  “What’s happening to us?”

 

He slipped into the chair across from her.  “I have a theory.”

 

She looked up when he didn’t continue.  “What? What could you possibly think - “

 

“We both had an experience when we were younger, when our sisters were taken.”

 

“What?”

 

“We were present when it happened, we both were unconscious for days afterward, we both are extraordinarily healthy.  And we created a child the only time we were together, in spite of precautions on both of our parts.”

 

“You, you think . . . whatever took Missy and Samantha changed us?”

 

He looked away for an instant, then met her eyes.  “I don’t know of any other way for you to accompany me on my mission that night.”

 

“Accompany?”

 

“We’re in contact.  We’re in contact like I have never known before with anyone. I think it’s the baby.”

 

“The baby?” she sounded strangled.  “You can’t be serious.”

 

“I . . . Yes, I am.”  He reached for her hand but she drew it back.  He felt the bottom drop out.  “Dana.”

 

“I’m listening.” But she wouldn’t meet his eyes.

 

“It’s just a theory.”

 

“I, I can’t. . .  Do you think something’s wrong with the baby?  I haven’t had an ultrasound or - “

 

“No, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with the baby.  I don’t.  I, I think it’s why we’re connected.  It’s part of both of us.  It’s connecting us differently than most couples, but most couples haven’t lived through our experience.”

 

“Aliens.”

 

“Dana, just think about it.”  He reached for her hand again and this time she didn’t pull away.  Suddenly he sat up straighter.  “You said you were upset when you went to bed.  Why?”

 

“What?”

 

“You said you thought what happened was a nightmare because you were upset.”

 

She closed her eyes, she’d completely forgotten.  “I, I got a phone call from Ethan.”

 

“Ethan?  What did that SOB want?” He seemed to grow in front of her.

 

“He, uh, he needs me to sign some papers, about the house and the car.”

 

“He called you here?”

 

“No, no he doesn’t know anything about where I live, or you.  He called the clinic.  I had to leave a number with his attorney. I wouldn’t let anyone know where I am.  He called just before you did.”

 

He stared at her a moment.  “I called because I knew something was wrong.”

 

She nodded slowly.  “You were out of breath and thought something was wrong with the baby.”

 

“Or with you.  I was out of breath because there was no cell phone service where I was standing when I knew something had happened.  I had to get somewhere I had reception.”

 

“Mulder?”

 

He took a relieved breath.  “Are you going to sign the papers?”

 

“They’re being sent to me.  I’ll see what they are.”  She looked down at her coffee again.  “You changed the subject.”

 

“Let’s just mull it over for today.”

 

“I need to get to work.”

 

“I thought you were taking today off.”

 

“I, I was, but - “

 

“But you don’t want to be with me today.”  His face was carefully blank.

 

“No, that’s not . . . How can we find out more about, about this?”

 

He was quiet then.  She didn’t rush him.  After a few minutes he looked up.  “Robert Trotter.”

 

“What about him?”

 

“Was he - “

 

“Oh my god.  He was there.  He was in the hospital after Betsy . . .I’m an idiot.  I didn’t even think - “

 

“You had no reason to.  Do you think his parents would let us talk to him?”

 

“I don’t know.  He lives with his mother now.”

 

“They divorced,” he stated flatly.

 

She nodded.  “They lost a child.  They blamed each other.  It happens a lot.”

 

“Tell me about it.”

 

She watched his face then. That was the most she’d ever heard him say about his family.  After a moment, she continued.  “I can call Gloria.”

 

He nodded.  “I think you should.  I need to talk - “

 

We need to talk to him.”  Her expression assured him he wouldn’t win this one.

 

*****

 

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