Mulder spotted her across the room, her arms laden with files of some kind. He angled toward her, avoiding people and desks until he was right up with her. "Scully, need some help?" He was practically leaning over her and leering in her ear. She didn’t respond, veering into an empty cubicle and emptying her arms onto the desk.
"Can I help you Agent?" She looked up at him, not a trace of warmth in her expression.
"Agent? You mad at me Scully?" He now took in her body language, definitely not in a friendly mood. What had happened? He searched his memory quickly for what transgression he might have committed this time. He stepped closer.
"Excuse me?" She backed away one step and he realized she was in no playful mood.
"Scully?" He took her upper arms into his hands. "Are you okay?"
"Get your hands off of me." She hissed this at him, glancing toward the entrance of the cubicle to make sure they were unobserved.
"Scully, what?" His concern for her was growing rapidly and caused his hands to tighten on her shoulders. His complete trust of her causing him to miss all signals of danger to himself. He was completely vulnerable to her when her knee made contact with that most sensitive of areas and his hands were no longer holding her, protecting instead his violated manhood as he bent double with the pain. No words emerged; he was trying too desperately not to lose the small breakfast he’d eaten this morning.
She stepped around him and turned. "You have five minutes to recover and get out of my area. If you’re not gone, I’ll press charges." And she was gone from his sight.
No longer able to stand, he sank gingerly into the chair and tried to recover his breath. What the hell? He’d done nothing to warrant this. Hell, he couldn’t recall anything that would cause this kind of reaction from her since they’d met. His five minutes were almost up and he didn’t doubt she was somewhere close by watching the clock to make certain he emerged on time. No way he wanted a repeat of what had just happened. It was a good thing he’d never planned to have children, she’d probably made that a moot point anyway. Damn!
He managed to regain his feet and walked with what he hoped looked like a normal gait to the elevator and headed for the basement.
Once in his office he sank into his own chair and tried to decide if an ice pack would aid his recovery. He didn’t bother to boot up his computer or even glance at the papers scattered on the desk. His mind was running over the encounter this morning, what had set her off? She’d been okay yesterday, so whatever it was had happened after they left here. She had left for home before he did, and her car was gone when he finally made it to the parking garage. Did something happen at her apartment? Not that involved him, and he hadn’t called her and woken her during the night, so she shouldn’t be ticked at him about that. Of course "ticked" didn’t quite cover it.
He saw the door opening out of the corner of his eye and turned, ready this time to defend himself. He was not, however, prepared for Diana to walk in.
"What are you doing here?" He asked crossly.
She hesitated just inside the door. "Well, good morning to you too partner." And came on in, removing her coat to hang beside his.
Partner? What the hell was she talking about?
"Word has it you tried your charm on the Ice Queen this morning. A little word of advice, Fox? Stick to the secretarial pool, they don’t have the same hand to hand combat training." Her eyes showed her hurt, but she didn’t comment on it and he had no intention of getting into this with her.
When he remained silent, she proceeded on to the other desk in the room, which in his battered state this morning he really hadn’t processed, and sat down. She booted up the computer and reached for a file on top of what seemed to be her desk.
"What’s going on here?" He demanded, turning to face her for the first time.
"That should be my question, Fox. What’s wrong with you this morning? If you’re hung over again, don’t expect sympathy from me."
"Hung over?" He looked at her stung. He didn’t drink, maybe he had some back when they’d been together, but since he’d teamed up with Scully he hadn’t had more than a beer or two a month. And that usually with Scully over pizza while they were arguing a case. He stuck to ice tea now and had for years.
"Listen, I don’t care what you do in your spare time anymore Fox. Could we just get down to work?" This was obviously a lie on her part, but he didn’t want to pursue it now. Scully was top priority and – was that it? Did she think he had requested Diana to work down here? He had been completely surprised when Diana had entered the office. Scully knew better, but for whatever reason she seemed to have a blind spot where Diana was concerned.
Since Diana didn’t seem to have any intention of leaving, he decided to try to get a little work done himself. He'd give Scully some time to cool off and then try to find out what had set her off this morning.
He quickly realized that Scully was not the only thing that was "off" this morning. He didn’t recognize a single file on the desk as he began to flip through the paper surrounding him while he waited for his computer to come on-line. He glanced over at Diana, but she was working, head down, obviously ignoring him and still in a snit.
Sure, fine, whatever. He turned to his email to see if he could glean any information from it. This was only getting worse. He didn’t even know what cases were being referred to in the messages he was receiving. Maybe this was some elaborate practical joke, no too elaborate and Scully would never injure him for the sake of a joke. He couldn’t be asleep, not with the ache he still felt in his groin. Okay, keep your mouth shut and try to figure this out.
As he read on he found himself becoming fascinated by the information he was looking at. These cases had been sanctioned? He was startled out of the file he was studying when Diana stretched and rose from her chair. He’d forgotten she was there.
"Lunch?" She turned to look at him.
"Is it that time already?" He glanced down at his watch. "Uh, no, I’m caught up in this, I may grab something later."
She shrugged and left, he could still feel her irritation with him but he didn’t really care. As soon as he heard the elevator close he was on his feet and pulling open the files. It wasn’t there; there was no file with Scully’s name on it. Someone had taken it, but why? Samantha’s was still there, but as he continued looking he noticed several files missing from the drawer. The ones missing were the newer ones, just in the last five or so years. But there were lots of files that he’d never seen before. They didn’t look new, whoever had done this had gone to a lot of trouble to make it look good.
A quick survey of the remaining files showed that all mention of Scully had been removed. The new files only listed Agents Mulder and Fowley as agents of record. She’d called him partner when she entered the office this morning. He thought she was just yanking his chain, trying to get a rise from him especially after the debacle this morning. Now he wasn’t so sure.
In order to give himself a chance to think he wandered upstairs and found the lunch cart, snagging a sandwich to take back to his desk. He found that he had wandered close to Scully’s cubicle, at least where she’d assaulted him this morning and walked past to see if she were there. She was, her back to the entrance, eating her own lunch at the desk.
He wanted to speak, to get her take on what the hell was happening. No, now wasn’t the time and face it, one ‘nad smashing a day was his limit. He’d try to get more information on his own, then bring the evidence to her, but not here and not now.
Reluctantly he returned to his own office and continued his solitary investigation.
He’d debated with himself long enough. He needed to talk to Scully and he needed it to be private. Get out of the damn car and go knock on her door, the worse thing she can do is not let you in. Or maybe knee you in the balls again, either way you have to try.
The knock was followed by a lengthy wait; she’d looked through her peephole and seen who was there. He was sure of that. Did she have company? He knew her car was here, but she could be out on a date or . . . The door opened and an obviously annoyed Agent Scully stood before him.
"How the hell do you know where I live and how dare you come over here uninvited?" Cold as ice, her nickname was certainly well deserved now.
"Could I talk to you for just a minute? Please."
"There are plenty of other women you could be pestering right now, because if you came here to get laid – "
"Geez, Scully! That’s not . . . can I just talk to you for few minutes. I’m not here to hurt you, I swear."
Her eyes narrowed and he knew his entry was a flip of the coin right now. He kept his expression bland, any entreaty on his part would seem like a come on to her. Finally she sighed and stepped aside to allow him entrance. "Have a seat." She gestured toward the couch.
He gratefully sank into his seat, not exactly sure where to start. "Well?" She was giving no quarter, having taken the chair farthest from him. He knew she never sat there, this was only to put distance between them.
He took a deep breath. "Scully, how do you know me?"
"I don’t know you, except by reputation." Short, clipped, this was probably going to be a very short conversation.
"Yeah, ‘Spooky’ Mulder, chasing little green men?"
She waved her hand to dismiss that, "I was actually speaking of your reputation among the women at the Bureau."
"I have a reputation with women?" He was silent for a minute. "Me?"
"If this is some sort of weird come on, it’s not going to work." She said dryly.
"No, no. Look, I came here to ask you a few questions. Please?"
He did look earnest about whatever he was here about. And she was a little curious, men like Fox Mulder didn’t often have the nerve to do something like this around her. Finally she nodded. "Go ahead and ask."
He looked her in the eye, she’d never noticed his eyes before, they were attractive. She’d always been too busy dismissing his body and the way he enjoyed displaying it to the females downtown. His words however, brought her back to attention.
"Do you have any memory of ever being my partner?"
"What? Do I . . . is this some kind of sick joke? Did someone put you up to this?" She was rising from her seat, he knew his next move would be out the door.
"No, Scully this is not a joke. I’m lost and, shit. I’m sorry I bothered you." Now he rose from his seat, his defeat evident in his posture.
Despite her distrust, this didn’t look faked. "Agent Mulder, what are you talking about?" He certainly looked lost. In spite of everything she’d heard about this man she was intrigued. He was either a damn good actor or he really was upset about this.
"Sit back down Agent Mulder. I need a little explanation about that question. Would you like something to drink?" That surprised even her, she certainly hadn’t planned for him to be here that long.
He looked up at her, his gratitude evident in his face. "Do you have any ice tea?"
Ice tea? Fox Mulder asking for ice tea? Well, she had heard that over the last couple of weeks he hadn’t been seen out drinking or even hitting on the female personnel. This visit only added to the strangeness.
She returned shortly with two tall glasses of ice tea and handed him one. She couldn’t resist, "Not exactly the beverage I would have expected you to request."
"Is that my reputation now too?"
Now? What did he mean? He saw the confusion on her face. "Nevermind."
"Go ahead with your questions Agent Mulder."
"Could you call me just Mulder, please?" She nodded. "I guess this all started a couple of weeks ago, that day I followed you into your cubicle and you . . . " She nodded. "I apologize for grabbing you that day, I would never . . . " He ran his hand through his hair not sure how to get into this story.
The man was sexy, the tousled hair didn’t hurt any at all. She forced her attention back to the business at hand. This must be how he did it, looking so damn vulnerable.
"Everything went to hell that day, Scully. I woke up at my normal time, had a bite to eat, drove to work and came upstairs. I spotted you lugging that huge pile of papers and went over to see what you had and if I could help. And you . . . you didn’t want to have anything to do with me. I couldn’t for the life of me figure out how I had made you so angry, then Diana shows up in our office and – "
"Scully you were my partner when I left work the day before. We’d been partners for nearly six years. I have a photographic memory."
She nodded, she’d heard about it. He was phenomenal when he was hot on a case, remembering every detail of every case with even a hint of similarity.
"I have a memory of six years with you as your partner, working with you, coming over here and sharing pizza working at this very table. You’ve been to my apartment a thousand times. We were close, Scully. I . . ." He looked up into her eyes. "Not like that, we never, we were friends Scully. Best friends, you knew everything about me and I knew everything about you. We solved cases the Bureau didn’t even want solved. We were damn good together and now I seem to be the only one that even remembers that it ever happened."
She spoke softly; he seemed sincere, but . . . "Is this how you do it? Is this how you get all the women in your bed?"
He suddenly looked tired, "No and I don’t remember getting any women into my bed. I’ve waited for you for six years instead."
Was he kidding? What kind of a comment was that? He was smooth anyway, she had to give him that. "You’ve been partnered with Diana Fowley for years. You two had a thing going for a long time I heard, after that you started playing the field, but you stayed partners. I always wondered how that worked out, how you managed to remain friends."
"My memory doesn’t include us being friends. She tried to come between the two of us and . . . You think I’m crazy don’t you?"
"I honestly don’t know what to think. I know that you and Diana have the same ideas about what you do, the cases you take."
He gave an unamused chuckle, "You know I always thought if you’d only agree with me a little more things would be easier. Having someone who never questions me is worse. I don’t feel like I have to work for it anymore. I’m not as good. I have a very vivid memory of telling you that you kept me honest, made me a whole person. I’m not that now, not without . . . You don’t remember any of this. I’m sorry I bothered you." He rose from the couch. "Thank you for the tea."
Should she stop him? He wasn’t making sense, but he hadn’t made any untoward moves. He truly seemed lost. Alone. She rose also, "I’m sorry Mulder. I wish I could help you, but I don’t . . . "
"It’s okay. Thanks for not calling the cops and having me hauled out of here. I’ll see you around the office."
"Mulder, what kind of disagreement are you looking for about your cases?" He had his hand on the doorknob now. She almost smiled at the look of eagerness that lit his eyes.
"I need the scientific slant. What if there is a mundane solution. That’s not going to come to me automatically, I reach for extreme possibilities. I need someone to bring me down to earth, make me prove my theory. I don’t need everything handed to me, if I can’t prove it, then maybe I’m wrong."
"Diana doesn’t do that?"
"She’s more out there than I am." He snorted, "I don’t remember her being that like when we were together." He caught her look, "I mean the way I remember things. Some of the work we’ve done that I’ve checked on since this happened is downright sloppy. I can’t believe it passed the AD. Unless . . ."
"What?" He’d gone far away suddenly.
"Unless that’s what they want. Let us do a half-assed job, let everyone who knows about the X-Files have a good laugh. We’d be less expensive that way and they’d have shut me up by letting me think I was – "
"That sounds rather paranoid, Mulder."
He grinned at her. "That’s the first thing anyone’s said to me in weeks that sounded familiar."
She couldn’t help responding to his smile. He was a damn attractive man. "Look, if you really need someone to give a hard look at something about one of your cases, why don’t you email me the details. I’ll look it over and see if I can help."
"Are you serious?" He reached for her hand and stopped himself before he could touch her. "Sorry, I used to . . . sorry."
He might look like one, but he certainly didn’t act like a lady-killer. He acted like a geek, kind of, and he seemed shy. This did not seem like the man she’d heard all the stories about. Maybe he was different when he drank. But he hadn’t tonight, not a drop except the tea and she was sure he’d been sober when he knocked on her door.
She felt more energized than she had in years. She wasn’t letting these new cases interfere with her ‘real’ work, but the stuff Mulder was bringing her, the debates with him, made her feel alive. She hadn’t realized that she was beginning to just go through the motions, now even her regular work was benefiting from this sideline.
She had to admit she was a little miffed at his continued insistence that her involvement be kept completely confidential. She was beginning to get used to his paranoia and even teased him about it on occasion, but she had not been able to budge him on this one issue.
She was in the ladies room reapplying her lipstick when the door opened. The two women that entered didn’t bother to see if anyone else was in the room.
"I swear he’s going to have a heart attack if he doesn’t calm down and I’m ready to help it along. It is illegal to push your boss out the window, right?"
"Yes, especially one of the windows here. They might catch you, unless you leave evidence of course." The other woman snorted. She had as much respect for the abilities of management as the rest of the staff. "What’s wrong with him today?"
"Oh, it’s those damn ‘X-Files’. Ever since Mulder sobered up apparently he’s turning in work that they can’t dismiss anymore. You know how they used to get together and laugh, well they ain’t laughing anymore and they’re beginning to get angry. No one expected him to do this kind of work, he never has before."
"I thought Diana was supposed to keep him off track."
"Me too. But now he seems to be keeping it in his pants and staying sober. The female staff are devastated, but not as much as the fifth floor."
"Come to think of it, I haven’t heard of him seeing anyone lately. You don’t suppose there really is anything to those old files? I thought it was just sop because of his father’s position in the state department."
"Oh no, he’s bright, top of his class at the academy. You know, it’s almost as though they were afraid of him. I imagine that’s why he was paired with Diana. I know they used to use to her thwart investigations they didn’t want . . . well, you know." For the first time the women realized they might not be alone.
Scully had already moved into one of the stalls, not closing the door, but staying back out of sight.
"I don’t see anyone. We better get back to the desks. He’ll explode if he needs a paperclip and I’m not there to disentangle one for him. You know, I hope Mulder does uncover whatever they’re so upset about. I’d rather work for him, even sober, than the old man."
The two women left the room, still gossiping. Scully allowed herself to slide down onto the seat and try to gather her thoughts. Maybe Mulder wasn’t so paranoid after all. And just because you’re paranoid, doesn’t mean they’re not out to get you.
She waited a good five minutes before emerging from the ladies room and even then found her hands were shaking when she pulled up her email. Was it safe to send him an email? Were they watching them both now? Or had her involvement escaped notice so far? Damn, she felt as paranoid as he always seemed.
She quickly disengaged the signature from the bottom of her email and sent Mulder a quick note to meet her at her apartment at noon. She pretended to work, moving around papers until she felt she could slip out in the lunch crowd without being noticed. He was waiting outside her door when she arrived.
"I always wanted to be invited over here for a nooner Scully." He leered at her.
"Were you followed?" She ignored his comment and he straightened up from where he’d been leaning against the doorframe. She was frightened.
"Scully? Are you okay?" She had the door opened now and rushed him inside, closing and locking the door behind them. She then went to the window and proceeded to view the street. He watched with growing concern and finally approached her. She jumped when he put his hand on her arm.
He immediately released her and stepped back. "No, it’s okay, Mulder. I just, I overheard . . . "
"What? Does anyone know about you working with me?"
"No, no I don’t think so. But I think maybe you were right." She proceeded to relate what she had overheard in the ladies room to him. She watched his face go carefully blank to hide what he was feeling. "Mulder?" She didn’t remember sitting on the couch, but that’s where they were and she was now holding his hand. She could practically hear the thoughts racing through his brain.
"Well, now we know why the sloppy work was tolerated so well." He tried to make his voice light, but she already knew him better than that. It felt like she’d always known him. She could already input his half of their debates without much trouble. She said nothing, just allowing him to fondle her hand and think his own thoughts for a moment.
"I think I should revert to my old ways for a while, Scully. Reassure the powers that be that good ‘ole Spooky Mulder is no threat to them."
"Yeah," she said softly, "and the women at the Bureau have missed you a lot."
"Not that!" His hand tightened over hers, "The drinking Scully, I was talking about the drinking. The other, that was never me in the first place. I don’t want . . . Scully, I don’t want anyone else. But I can’t let anyone know how I feel about . . . you wouldn’t be safe."
She absorbed this in silence, the relief she didn’t want to admit making her positively weak. "Mulder, I think maybe you better tell me a little more about the relationship you and I were supposed to have that I don’t remember."
He nodded. A few weeks ago she wouldn’t even have considered listening to this. His influence was again leading her to the dark side and he smiled grimly. "I’m not sure how much of this you want to hear."
"All of it. Everything you remember."
"But the memories can’t be real Scully. My father’s still alive, you were never missing those months from your life. You’ve never heard of Duane Barry. It’s all false and couldn’t have happened."
"Unless this isn’t real." She countered and without thinking he drew her to him. When she didn’t protest he held her even tighter.
"Its real enough Scully. And I’m putting you in danger again. I should have known better than to involve you. That’s just the kind of selfish bastard I am. I want you in my life so much that I . . . I better get out of here."
"No!" Now her arms tightened around him. "Why are you so sure I’d be in danger?"
"Experience. Scully because of your relationship with me you were abducted and returned to me in a coma after being away for months. Your mother had life support removed, that’s how close I came to losing you. Then you found an implant in your neck and the removal of it caused you to develop inoperable cancer." Her eyes were wide, he’d been through all of this with her? "Another implant caused the cancer to go into remission. These people who don’t want me to expose them always go for where it hurts the most. For me, that’s you. Scully," He was fondling her hand again and wouldn’t look her in the eye. "In my reality your abduction, the tests they performed on you, caused you to be sterile. You can’t have children. I don’t want any of that for you. I should never have gotten close to you. You’re much better off without me. At least this time they don’t know about you. I’m going to keep it that way. Thanks for the help you’ve given me, but this is it. Don’t contact me, it’s over." He dropped her hand and rose from his seat.
"The hell it is, Mulder!" She was on her feet too, eyes flashing with fury. He drew back, not the reaction he was expecting. "If you think you can dump me like last week’s bimbo, you’re not a bright as I thought."
"I’m, I’m not dumping you. I’m trying to protect you."
"You don’t think I’m capable of that Agent Mulder?"
"Not against these people Scully. If they find out why my work has become respectable the players in this reality might not cut us the slack they did in the other one – they might just kill you outright and I can’t handle that."
"What if we took more precautions, they don’t know about me."
"Not good enough and we can’t ever be sure. The work isn’t worth it, it isn’t worth you." She had no answer to that. She watched his eyes as he took her face in his hands. He was going to kiss her. He hadn’t made any moves toward her before. To her surprise and, she realized, dismay, he tilted her head and pressed his lips against her forehead.
Then he was gone, slipping out the door before she could collect herself enough to react. He was leaving her, getting out of her life to protect her. No! She didn’t want him out of her life. Oh good lord, she was falling in love with him. Hell, had fallen in love with him. He couldn’t just vanish from her life. What could she do now?
She was watching for him when he came in the building the next morning. He looked like shit and was obviously hung over. She didn’t approach him and he refused to acknowledge her.
Scully watched knowing nods and comments trail him to the elevator and several secretaries actually preened as though congratulating themselves that Fox might be back on track. She felt a nearly overwhelming urge to scratch some eyes out.
She stalked to her cubicle and attempted to shut this out of her mind. She was totally unsuccessful and finally admitted that after a couple of hours. He could kill himself drinking like that, especially now that he wasn’t used to it. She stood up in her cubicle and grabbed her briefcase, actually kicking her trashcan on the way out. That caused several people to turn and look at her, but the expression on her face froze all comments.
He trudged toward his door. He’d only had a couple of beers tonight; last night had done him in. He’d have to get back in practice or at least learn to pretend to drink better. Oh, who gave a rat’s ass? Certainly not him.
He opened the door, kicking the newspaper inside but not bothering to pick it up. "You’re late."
His hand automatically drew his gun without conscious thought before he realized it was her. "What the fuck are you doing here! I thought I made myself clear."
"Oh you were clear enough, Agent. I just don’t happen to agree, so tonight you hear my side."
"What if someone saw you come in here? How did you get here?"
"The metro and then a taxi. I was careful Mulder."
"You don’t get it, you don’t know what danger you’re in!"
She ignored that comment. She hadn’t bothered to rise from the couch and now he loomed over her. "Get out of my apartment."
"The way I see it," she spoke as thought he hadn’t, "we’re destined to be together. In your reality we built up a relationship, friendship, whatever you want to call it over time – growing closer, counting on each other. In this reality it’s taken a lot less time but I feel closer to you than anyone else I know, anyone else I want to know. Maybe you think you can walk away from that – I can’t."
"You don’t have a choice." His voice was low. He pulled her to her feet and his hands now gripped her shoulders as though he would physically throw her out. Her hands were flat on his chest, but not pushing him away. He realized he was focusing on her lips, bending down toward them and they most amazing thing was that she was moving toward him as well.
When their lips met he felt a surge of energy like he’d never even imagined possible. He had her pressed up against him now and felt her mold herself to his body, her arms wrapped as tightly around him.
When they separated slightly for a breath. "I think you’re right about one thing Mulder. We don’t have a choice."
He just looked at her, absorbing her words. Then she had control of his lips again. "Scully. Scully, I can’t . . . "
"Yes Mulder, you can. I’m not leaving here." The anguish on his face almost changed her mind. He was that frightened for her? "Mulder, together we can –"
"Together is how we’re most vulnerable. I should never have kissed you."
"Because I don’t think I can stop." That caused a smile to begin to form on her face. "What did you mean you weren’t leaving here?"
She could feel her face heat up at his regard. "I meant we needed to discuss this more thoroughly. You needed to hear my side. I didn’t . . . I wasn’t . . . " Mulder was just staring at her. "Say something."
She thought for a moment that he was going to cry. Instead he took a deep breath, "I don’t know if I can be strong enough to push you away. Maybe I should wish to be switched back to my own dimension and not have to deal with this. That Scully wouldn’t want to get this close to me after everything I’ve done to her life and your real Mulder wouldn’t be a danger to you."
"And neither of us would be as fulfilled or happy?"
"I was happy with the other Scully." Her eyebrow rose. "Okay, as happy as I could be under the circumstances. Damn it Scully!" He drew her to him again. "You’ll ruin everything if you care about me."
"Then everything’s already ruined." She stated simply, enjoying the feel of him around her. "I want to stay here tonight." He drew back at that, gaping at her. "Is the idea that repugnant?" She finally asked, embarrassment beginning to grow at his continued silence.
"You want to stay here? With me? Scully, I’m not sure what that means."
She swallowed, this was so far outside her normal way of life. But her life had been upside down since this man had come to her and asked for her help. He’d made her a whole person, made her work exciting again, and now had made her want him as a man. She straightened her spine, she might as well jump in with both feet. "I want to make love with you."
For an instant she thought he would bolt and run. She could feel her self-confidence develop a leak and start to deflate rapidly. "Scully." She could barely hear him. "Don’t let me be dreaming. Please don’t let this be a dream."
"It’s not Mulder." She said gently. Her hand was again on his chest, this time pushing him down on his couch. "You willing to listen to me now?" At his nod she sat beside him.
"I’ll be careful, and you can do your drunk act. But look at things Mulder, in both realities we end up together. Bow to the inevitable and let’s learn caution from what we know. Don’t push me away Mulder, we need each other."
He closed his eyes, as much to block the sight of her as anything. No choice. If he hadn’t approached her, gotten her help, would they still have found each other somehow? It was certainly beginning to feel like it. She sat silently waiting for him to come to the same conclusion she had. He was fighting it more, but she wasn’t willing to lose this battle. There was something inevitable about all of this. They belonged together – cosmically. She wanted to laugh at herself, she didn’t believe that kind of thing, except . . . nevermind, she’d study that phenomena in her spare time.
Right now? Right now she was with Mulder. Enough said. She pulled him down as she reclined on the couch, enjoying the weight of him on her body. When she became aware that her blouse was untucked and several buttons unbuttoned she moved under him until she was at his ear.
"Do you have any protection?"
"There’s no indication in this reality that I’m sterile."
His face sobered immediately. "Oh god, I hadn’t . . . I don’t even know my own sexual history."
"Then we should use caution, we should probably both be tested. But not tonight. Tonight I don’t want to be practical or even sensible. I want to be with you."
He closed his eyes. This was a mistake, but how could it be? This was Scully and she wanted him. He almost felt sorry for that other Mulder trapped on the other side. Then she had his lower lip between her teeth and the higher functions of his brain shut down. Lack of blood flow no doubt. He was positively aching for her. It had been so damn long.
She was thinking the same thing as he ground himself into her. She hoped she could remember how to do it, but she was pretty sure he knew. In fact she was willing to put money on it now that he had her blouse open, biting tenderly on her nipples through the lace. Then that barrier was gone and he was laving her breasts with his tongue. She was whimpering; it wasn’t enough. She wanted, no she needed, more of him.
He understood, since he felt the same and raised his head to kiss her lips again before rising to remove his tie and shirt. He had a beautiful body. She couldn’t keep her hands from it, smiling slightly at his hiss when her fingers brushed his nipples. She trailed her fingers down his chest slowly as he tried to remember the art of breathing. When her hand reached his waistband he grabbed it. "Scully, it’s not too late."
"Mulder, it was too late the moment we were born." Since there was no response to that he let go of her hand. She unbuckled his belt and pulled it slowly from the loops. He knew then that his control was gone, given completely to her.
She unbuttoned his slacks and carefully lowered his zipper, a task made more dangerous by the second. He stood to allow her to lower his slacks and boxers to the floor. What he didn’t expect was her luscious lips closing around him. He had to grasp her shoulder and the back of the couch to remain upright.
"Just relax Mulder." He wanted to close his eyes, to concentrate fully on the sensation, but he needed just as much to watch her, to see Scully do this with him. The hand on her shoulder moved down taking her breast in his caress. Her lips tightened as she took as much of him in her mouth as she could. He tried not to thrust into her mouth as she alternately sucked and tortured him with her tongue. Her hands were now fondling his balls and he knew if he didn’t put a stop to this and now, it would be too late.
He gathered his strength and retreated from her. "No, no Scully."
"It’s okay. I want to." He shook his head and drew her to her feet.
"I want in on this." His hands under her arms lifted her to stand on the couch, where she clutched his shoulders as he lowered her slacks. When his hands grazed the elastic on her panties he looked up at her.
She nodded at him but still he hesitated. "Mulder?"
He laid his head gently against her stomach. "Oh Scully." She placed her hands over his and helped him lower the damp silk. He pulled her against him, burying his face between her breasts, then taking turns kissing them, nuzzling them.
"Mulder, I think we need to find a bed." He nodded in complete agreement, knowing he’d burst if he didn’t do this soon. He lifted her into his arms and carried her into his bedroom, laying her gently on his bed.
He started to pull back from her and she grabbed him. "Please."
"The protection." She nodded with her eyes and he moved to his dresser. When he returned she reached for it.
"Yes Mulder. We can play later; right now I need you. I need to feel you in me."
He drank in her eyes, quenching his soul for the first time ever. He allowed her control again and shuddered as she sheathed him, twitching in her hands. She pulled him to her, over her, taking over his mouth, dueling with his tongue as he took in the taste of him in her mouth.
She had hold of him again as he nipped at her breasts and moved down, forcing her to release him as he sucked at her navel. "Mulder." She was pleading with him now; she wanted him so much she would beg? Oh god.
He came back to retake her lips and she began guiding him where she longed for him to be. She brushed him through her curls as she stimulated her own juices with him. His size unnerved her, but at the same time she knew he would never hurt her.
She brushed that bundle of nerves again and his fingers joined the fun. Now Mulder, damn it or she’d die from sheer anticipation! He sensed her need matched his own and slowly began entering her. She tensed for a second, then released herself to him. Whatever he wanted was his. She arched to bring him deeper, wrapping her legs around his waist.
"Oh Scully." His last coherent words as he began to move slowly in her. She had been created for this, for him. He couldn’t imagine ever leaving her body. It was where he belonged. Long swift strokes bringing him deeper each time, burying himself in her, never to be unearthed again.
With a gasp she was coming, convulsing under him, around him, throughout him. He lost all senses except where she existed, thrusting once, twice and then joining her in whatever galaxy she had led him to. Knowing that she would understand his cries though the rest of the world never would.
He lay spent watching her leaning over him, her fingers trailing through his chest hair. She looked up at him. "What?"
She blushed slightly. "Now that you know I’ll have to kill you."
"I think you already did."
"Oh I don’t know. Part of you seems to be resurrecting itself fairly rapidly."
"You’re kidding, right?"
"Oh, I’ll give you a little time to reload, but not long." He just stared at her, wide-eyed. Scully?
She stayed the night; her excuse was that it was better not to be seen coming and going too much. Yeah, sure, whatever. Just as long as she was here with him.
What the hell was he doing in Viola, Idaho with Diana? He wanted to be home with Scully. Dangerous thinking, but honest. This was no X-File, Diana had found it. No doubt it was sanctioned to get him out of town and away from any real investigating he could do.
Diana slipped into the chair beside him, back from the ladies room. "Fox, you really should try to be a little more diplomatic with local law enforcement. We do need their help. Cordiality wouldn’t hurt either."
He almost yelped as her hand wrapped around his thigh and squeezed. "Damn it Diana. Stop that." He pulled her hand from his leg and literally threw it down on the table in front of them.
The look on her face was anything but friendly. He was acting so differently. Her superiors were furious and she had to find out what had happened.
He moved his chair farther from her and finished his meal in silence. He rose as soon as she finished her last bite. "Let’s get back to the motel, I want to go for a run." I need to, is what he should say. His body had reverted to being seventeen and hormone overloaded again just being with Scully. The run would be better than a cold shower.
He returned to the room following his run much more centered and relaxed. It wasn’t as good as being with Scully, but since that wasn’t an option . . . He was half way across the room, headed toward his bathroom when he heard her.
"Fox? I don’t mind sweaty men. Come here." She was on his bed, Diana, lying there nude.
"What the hell are you doing in here? How did you get in?" He knew he’d made sure the connecting door was locked on his side.
"Come on Fox. It’s seen a long time for both of us. We used to be very good at this."
He was standing there looking at her, appalled. What had he ever seen in her? His body felt no hint of arousal. She was watching him, becoming more and more uncomfortable. What was going on, he’d always been turned on by nudity. Now, now it looked as though he loathed her. She quickly drew her robe up to her and slipped it on.
"Fox," He almost corrected her. Mulder, he went by Mulder, but then he realized that’s what Scully called him. He didn’t even want to hear the word from her lips. "What is it? We’ve been together for years, we’re partners. What’s going on?"
"I grew up, Diana. I couldn’t stay that immature forever and I grew up to everyone’s apparent dismay. Get out of my room."
"You don’t mean that."
"Believe me, I mean it." He held the door open for her and stood by it as she walked out. He threw the bolt at the top and checked the connecting door again. Never again! If he ever had to travel with her again they would not have connecting rooms. He headed for the shower, feeling dirtier than he had when he’d first returned from his run.
He came back in the room with a towel around him, drying his hair. God, he wanted to talk to Scully. But it wasn’t safe. He couldn’t contact her when he was out of town. If something like that were traced they’d be on her in a minute. Damn! He stretched out on the bed after pulling the spread off and tossing it to the other side of the room. He didn’t even want to lie where she’d been.
How many years had she been betraying him? Going behind his back to make certain that his investigations were meaningless. Well, the other Mulder’s investigations, but he was here now. He’d never trust her again.
The next morning he knocked on her door, dressed and ready. "I just wanted you to know I’m headed back for Washington. There’s no X-File here. I’m packed and the car’s loaded. Do you want to go or ride to the airport with me to bring the car back?"
"Fox? What are you talking about? There’s possible abductions going on here. We need to – "
"Nothing is going on here beyond possibly a high school hoax. There’s no evidence of a real abduction and I have work to do in DC."
"Fox." She reached out to place her hand on his arm and he drew back. Her eyes grew icy, "Fine. It’ll take me a few minutes to pack and we can fly back together. Do you want to call the sheriff or shall I?"
"I already have, to let him know I was leaving. If you want to let him know you are as well, fine. I’ll wait in the car." He turned and walked away from her without another word.
She seethed in the doorway for a moment, then slammed the door and went to pack. Her superiors were going to go ballistic. She was supposed to keep him out of town for several days. What was going on with him? He was sober and as far as she could find out not seeing anyone. That made no sense. He’d never gone this long without a woman and she was willing to bet without a drink as well.
Fine, if he didn’t want to work on her investigations, she’d make him hers. Something drastic had changed and she had to get to the bottom of it. He was becoming too dangerous to keep around.
She made two phone calls before joining him in the car. She hadn’t been completely honest about why they were returning early. She had to protect herself. She also wanted more freedom of movement to find out what was happening.
After a couple of days she was fairly certain if he was seeing anyone she didn’t work at the Bureau. He was being such a good boy. Mildly flirting with almost every woman but no sparks with any of them. He was going home every night, unless he was drinking there, and that didn’t seem likely. He’d never wanted to be alone, hence the bar and the women. After they had drifted apart he’d always played the field, which was fine with her. He wasn’t tied to anyone and they had remained partners and available to each other.
Now, after the fiasco in Idaho she was positively embarrassed to be around him. A feeling that was very foreign to her. He'd pay for it. No one treated her this way.
He couldn't wait to get home. She should already be there waiting for him. It almost made ignoring her in public worth it, especially since he did it visualizing her nude. He was all but whistling as he approached his door.
He let himself in. She hadn't started dinner yet; good he wanted to help. Well, actually he wanted to watch her. It was so domestic. Who would have thought that could be erotic. He tossed his keys on the table and headed for the living room loosening his tie.
He stopped dead still at the entrance, all movement frozen. Scully was there, in a chokehold, being held tightly by Diana. Diana's weapon pressed firmly into her side.
"Look what I found in your apartment Fox. You know, she even had a key."
"What are you doing here Diana?" This was bad, this was incredibly bad. He had to get Diana talking.
"You sure I'm the one you should be asking Fox?" While he searched for an answer she continued, "I think I've figured out what's going on here. Somehow this icy little bitch caught your eye. I didn't know you liked ‘hard to get’ Fox. You should have said something. The problem is, I think you've gotten her involved in our work. That explains what you've been doing. You could get us both killed like this lover. We had a great gig going, we were together when we wanted, you got to be involved in the work you're so good at. Okay, you were often off track, but you were enjoying yourself."
Enjoying yourself? He'd been drinking himself into a stupor every night and hopping from bed to bed. Enjoying himself? "Let her go Diana. She doesn't know anything about our work."
"I'd like to believe that, but I can't. There's a lot of women I could believe it about, but not this one. Being with her changed you." Her grip tightened around Scully's neck and he made an involuntary move toward her.
"See Fox? You care about her. A fatal mistake, you would have remained better off with me. No strings, good sex, you blew it Fox."
But he wasn't looking at her any more. He was watching Scully's eyes. She loved him; Scully loved him and would follow him no matter which way he wanted to handle this.
Diana felt her chest tighten. They were communicating! Even now while she held a gun to the woman they were communicating. Damn them both. "Enough! Fox, I'm doing this for you. It's the only way I know to save you."
The explosion from her gun paralyzed him for a millisecond, then he watched Scully crumple in slow motion to the floor. "No!" The word was ripped from him and he leapt at Diana.
He couldn't let her get a second shot at Scully. The older woman was strong, and she was well trained. They grappled for the gun and Mulder jerked violently as it went off again, waiting for the pain. It didn't come and finally he looked in Diana's face. She was so stunned. He saw her lips form the word "Fox" as she sank toward the floor.
Mulder stepped back, letting her fall and turned to Scully. A pulse, there was a pulse. He jerked the phone off the table and demanded help for Scully. He left her side long enough to find a towel and after ripping her blouse open and away from the wound, pressed it to her side to staunch the bleeding.
"Scully listen to me. Help is on the way. You have to hang on, Scully, please. You've got to hear me." His free hand was caressing her face, willing her to respond to him.
Then the paramedics and the police were all over the place. The police took him aside and though he answered their questions his eyes never left her. He barely spared a glance when they covered Diana with a sheet though he heard them call for a second ambulance to transport her body.
"Look, I don't know what set her off. When I got here both women were already here. Agent Fowley was holding a gun on Agent Scully. She was talking out of her head. After she shot Scully, I struggled with her, the gun went off. Now I have to go to the hospital."
"We have a few more questions."
"Fine. You know where you can find me. Check out your forensics and then get back to me."
He walked out the door and was already at a run before slamming out into the night. He raced to the hospital and burst into the ER.
"An Agent Scully was brought here. I need to know where she is."
"Uh, yes sir. Dr. Brody was with her. Just a second." She left the desk and he stood there, trying to keep his hands from shaking. Where the hell was she?
"Excuse me, are you here about Agent Scully>'
He turned instantly. "Yes. How is she?"
"And you are?"
"Agent Mulder." He had his ID out. "Please, how is she?"
"I’m sorry Agent Mulder. We couldn't . . . the bullet did too much damage. Agent Mulder?"
He was staring at the doctor. The words didn't make sense. Where was Scully? Why were they keeping him from her? He pushed past the doctor. He had to find her.
"Agent Mulder, please." He wasn’t able to stop him. A nurse came out from behind the desk.
"Should I call security?"
"Maybe you better." He followed Mulder who was now checking the third cubicle as he moved down the hall.
"Scully?" He sounded breathless. Then he was beside her, taking her hand. Oh god, she was cold. She shouldn't be so cold. He was massaging her hand trying to warm her, not speaking. Not even sure that he could.
"Agent Mulder, is there anyone I can call for you?"
"She's not dead. She can't be." He shook the doctor's hand off his arm. "She can't be!" He turned back to her as two security personnel entered the area. The doctor motioned them back. "She can't be." It was getting dark, as though he had entered a tunnel, one from which he would never emerge.
Where was he? It was cold. Then memory hit him like a sledgehammer. Scully. Scully was dead. Why was he still alive? Why hadn't Diana killed him as well?
He heard a door open but grief held him immobile, not even bothering to open his eyes. It didn't matter, nothing mattered now.
"What happened to you? Oh god Mulder, why did you change? The drinking, the women. Were you trying to get killed? Did you just give up? What am I supposed to do now? How do I live?"
He'd thought he was dreaming her voice. What? He opened his eyes to see the red and swollen eyes of Dana Scully, tears glistening on her face. She jerked back, her eyes impossibly wide. Her mouth moved but no sound emerged.
"Scully? You're alive?"
That forced air back into her lungs. "Me? Mulder what the hell is . . . you were . . . you were . . ." And she sank toward the floor.
"Scully!" He was off the table, just beginning to realize his nudity. When he ensured himself that she had only fainted he draped the sheet that had covered him around himself and thought to look around. A morgue? He was in a morgue and she had thought he was dead. Was he back? Was he back to where Scully was alive? They had a lot to talk about, he wondered if she would listen to him this time. And, he smiled, how long it would take to get her back into his bed.
She watched as the office door opened and he trudged in. He was late, which was unusual and she started to make a comment until she saw his face. He looked ill. He didn’t even notice her over to the side at the file cabinet. He collapsed into his chair rubbing his forehead. Maybe he really was sick. She moved over to him and placed her hand on his brow. He jerked away from her startled.
“It’s just me Mulder. Are you okay?”
“I’m fine. Who are . . . Agent Scully, right?”
“Not funny Mulder. What happened to you?”
He had no answer. What was the Ice Queen doing in his office, and apparently she had a key? Diana was going to love that. “Look, you need to run along. I don’t know what you were looking for, but this information is classified. You shouldn’t even be in here.”
She stood looking at him, speechless for a moment. Then she straightened her spine and her eyebrow rose. “Enough. Where were you last night?”
For some reason he felt compelled to respond. It was as though she had some authority over him. “I was at the Blue Moon.”
“Why? What were you doing there?”
Now he was beginning to get angry. “Not that it’s any of your business, but I was drinking myself into a stupor, like I do every night.”
She was obviously aghast. “Mulder, no! You started . . . When did you start drinking? No! You can’t!”
“Would you mind telling me what business this is of yours? And just where is my partner? Has Diana not been down here?”
Her lips moved a couple of times before sound actually emerged. “Diana? Have you . . . have you seen Diana?”
“Listen, I don’t
know what you’re talking about, and I don’t care. My head is killing me. I
want to take some aspirin and some strong coffee. I would appreciate you going
to your own desk and giving me a little time.” He’d made it to his feet now and
was leading her to the door.
For the time being she allowed this. Something was definitely wrong and she needed to find out what. Once out of the office she headed immediately for Skinner’s office.
gratefully back into his chair and closed his eyes. His headache was worse
than when he’d arrived. With his eyes still closed he reached into his breast
pocket and expertly opened and dry swallowed two capsules. He’d start with two,
though it now usually took four or five to touch his headaches anymore. After a
moment he dared open his eyes and booted up his computer.
What the hell was this crap? Who’d been screwing with his computer? He didn’t know these cases. Diana’s name wasn’t in evidence - according to this stuff Scully was his partner. Oh yeah, that uptight piece of ass? She probably hadn’t been laid in years.
He turned from the computer and picked up a file from the top of the pile on his desk. Look at the detail of her report! What was the deal? He’d never bothered with this kind of testing, this attention to detail. Well, not for years anyway. He closed his eyes again; he really needed a drink.
A tap on the door drew him up straight again. “Yeah?”
The door opened revealing AD Skinner. “Mulder? I thought I’d check, see if everything was all right.”
She had sent him. What was the deal? “Everything’s fine, sir.” That came out a little less respectfully than he wanted, but what the hell.
“Agent Scully seemed to think there was a problem.”
“Agent Scully was incorrect.” He met Skinner’s eyes, then looked away. Skinner seemed different somehow, as though he actually cared or something. Fat chance.
“Look Mulder, you’re obviously not feeling up to par today. Why don’t you go back home, sleep it off and start over again tomorrow?” Mulder tried not to show his shock - take the rest of the day? Sleep it off? Since when was the Bureau going to cut him that kind of slack? Who cared, he wasn’t hung over enough not to take advantage of it - and at home he could get some hair of the dog. A win-win all around.
He nodded and hoped he murmured something that sounded grateful, then moved toward the door. “Mulder? Aren’t you going to lock up?”
Lock up? No one ever came down here - he hadn’t been assigned a real case in years that anyone would care about seeing. He turned back and signed off his computer and closed the file he’d opened, returning it to the stack. Once outside the door he had to fumble to find the correct key. Diana always left after he did; she usually handled this. Where the devil was she anyway?
They rode up the elevator together. Mulder didn’t bother to speak when he exited the car and headed for the garage. Skinner watched him walk away. Scully was right - something was off about him today. Well, Scully would be checking into it - she’d give him some kind of report, though probably not a thorough one. He continued to his office, his mind moving on to other things.
Mulder let himself into his apartment with a sigh. A strange morning - he really needed a drink. He opened the cabinet and stopped dead. No liquor, there wasn’t a single bottle in there. He hadn’t finished it all; he hadn’t been that drunk. He yanked open the refrigerator, not even a beer. What the hell was going on! He did not want to go back out - hell; did he have any cough syrup?
Wait, did he still have that bottle in the back room? He opened the door and was shocked into immobility. A bed? Furniture? This was his apartment; the key had fit. He backed out, not willing to go in there even to look for liquor. The world had gone mad, or maybe he was still drunk and this whole day was a hallucination.
He was startled to hear a key in the lock and turned to see Scully entering his apartment.
“You? Did you come in here and empty out my booze? And where the hell did you get a key?” She stopped, stunned at the attack. Whatever had been wrong with him earlier hadn’t abated.
“Mulder, please.” She held out her hand, “I need you to calm down. I didn’t empty out anything. When I was over on Friday, there wasn’t any alcohol here.”
“Bullshit! You’re trying to mess with my mind and I don’t know why. And the key - where the hell did you get that?”
“From you Mulder, years ago. When we first became partners. You gave me the key. Originally it was to feed the fish - at least that was the excuse, but I - “
“We’re together?” He interrupted her abruptly. “I don’t remember you ever being in my bed.”
Her back straightened again. Damn she was a formidable looking bitch like that.
“You’re damn right I haven’t been!” She tried to relax and wrap her armor of composure around herself again. “Mulder, what is going on? Talk to me - why were you drinking last night? What happened? What made you start drinking?”
“Start?” He made his way around her and turned toward the desk in his living room. One of them was crazy and he wasn’t willing to admit it was him.
He stopped so suddenly she almost ran into him. She looked up at him - what? His face had gone ashen, his eyes wide.
“You - it had to be you. Did you do that?” He sounded strangled. He was focused on the desk. She forced her eyes away from him and concentrated on that side of the room. What? What had upset him so? She couldn’t spot anything out of place.
“Mulder, what are you talking about?” She was using her most calming voice, finally realizing just how out of it he was.
“The picture! Her picture! Where did you find it? Why did you . . .?“
She looked again. The only picture on the desk was of Samantha and it had always held that place of honor.
“Mulder, calm down. Are you . . . are you talking about Samantha’s picture?”
He jerked away from her. “How do you know her name? Who are you to do this to me!”
“Mulder?” He spotted the tears in her eyes. She blinked them back as he watched and though he tried to ignore it, felt her compassion wash over him as well as her fear.
He didn’t want her compassion; he didn’t want anything from her. He didn’t want anything from anyone. He moved around her and sank onto his couch, his head in his hands. It felt like his head was going to explode.
After a moment or two he spotted her shoes in front of him. When he looked up she was holding out two capsules and a glass of water. “Take them Mulder. They’ll make you feel better, then maybe we can talk.”
“Why would I want to talk to you? Why the hell are you here?” He ignored the medicine she held out to him. He wanted her out of here, he wanted a drink, he wanted oblivion.
She sank onto the couch beside him, at a loss. They sat in silence for a few minutes, then she took a deep breath and rose. Good! She was finally taking the hint. But instead of heading toward the door, she moved to the desk and picked up his phone. He was watching her, what was she up to now?
“John, there’s a problem. Can you come to Mulder’s apartment?” She avoided looking at him, “Thanks,” and hung up the phone.
“Now what stranger have you invited over? How do I get rid of you anyway?”
“You don’t Mulder.” She returned to the couch. He was just staring at her now. You don’t? What the hell did that mean?
“Who did you call?”
“The guys, Byers, Langly and Frohike.”
“You know them? God, I haven’t seen them in years. Why would they come?” She didn’t respond, just shaking her head.
She busied herself in his kitchen rather than be near him. He was grateful for the space and, after a few minutes of eyeing the medicine she had left on the coffee table, swallowed it.
He didn’t bother to move when he heard the knock at the door. She came out of the kitchen drying her hands, glanced over at him, then opened the door. The guys took in her expression and Byers automatically reached out to take her elbow.
For some reason the sight of the man’s hand on her raised the hair on the back of his neck. He shook that off, she was nothing to him. They hadn’t even slept together - according to her.
“What’s going on?” Byers looked back and forth between the two of them.
“He says . . . he doesn’t seem to know me, or our work, or . . . “
Langly sat on the table in front of him, “Is this a joke Mulder?”
Mulder’s eyes narrowed, “How did she get you to go along with this?” They didn’t answer, turning to look at her.
“He needs a complete physical.”
“You gonna handle that?” Mulder’s eyes raked her body and he was brought up short by Frohike’s sudden grip on his collar.
“A little respect, G-man.” Frohike had no humor in his voice. The other two looked like they wanted to do the same. He subsided and slumped back on the couch. He’d lost control anyway, of his apartment, his computer, hell, his life.
“What if this is the water again, Scully? Like when his father died?”
“I haven’t gone down to check the tanks but - “
“What are you talking about? My father’s not dead!” Mulder looked at each of them.
“Mulder, I’m sorry. It’s . . . it’s true. He was killed several years ago.” Scully wanted to touch him, but he had been so resistant.
“Killed? Who would . . .?“
“It was Krycek, Mulder.” Byers answered the half-formed question.
“Krycek? I don’t . . . “
“You don’t remember Alex Krycek?” She shook her head and left the couch. She needed to step away. This was too much. He didn’t remember anything, not this, not her, not them. She made her way back to the kitchen. She needed to be alone.
“What’s with her?”
“It’s Krycek, Mulder.” Frohike spoke softly, so that she wouldn’t hear. “He killed your father, but he also murdered Scully’s sister and he aided in Scully’s abduction.”
“Abduc . . . “ His head jerked around to look for her, but she had moved out of his line of sight. He turned then to stare at the photograph of his sister. This woman too? Why? “Enough. Get out of my place. I don’t need this.”
“Mulder, we need to get to the bottom of what’s happening.”
“Fine.” He rose to his feet. “You get to the bottom of it, but leave me out of it!” He grabbed his jacket and was out of the apartment.
“Mulder!” She raced back at the sound of the door slamming.
Byers was at her side, “We’ll go after him.”
Her shoulders slumped. “Don’t. He doesn’t want our help. We can’t force it.”
“Dana, I . . . we, we can’t leave him like this. He doesn’t know who he is.”
“He knows this is his apartment, he knows he works for the FBI. He remembered you; he just thought he hadn’t seen you in years. He remembers . . . “ She looked at the ceiling for a long moment. “He remembers Diana.”
“Dana - “
I’ll uh; I’ll wait here to see if he comes home tonight. It’s okay.” She put
up her hand to forestall their protest. “We can pick this up tomorrow. Maybe
he’ll be more himself them.”
The men exchanged glances and finally, silently agreed with her. Byers put his hand on her shoulder. “We’ll do what we can tonight. Call us - call us for anything, anytime. Promise?”
She nodded, unable to speak and let them out of his apartment. She locked the door behind them and returned to sink down on the couch. She felt helpless - he didn’t know her, didn’t want to know her.
The sound of the door opening woke her and she sat up, allowing the afghan to slip to the floor. He was home, good, maybe he was -
“Fox, stop it. At least shut the door. Your neighbors don’t have to . . . “ She fell silent as she spotted Scully standing beside the couch. It took him a minute to notice, his hands were busy molding her large breasts, his lips on her neck.
Finally he realized she’d gone rigid in his arms. “What? Sandy?”
“You son of a bitch.” Her palm made sharp contact with his face and she turned, slamming the door behind her.
What the hell? He turned then toward the living room and spotted her, standing beside his couch. Her officious suit coat was gone and she was holding his t-shirt. She’d apparently used it as a pillow.
“Why are you still here?” He was more than a little drunk and horny now. “You want to be my ‘partner’ tonight? Is that why you ran her off? Fine, you’ll do just as well.” He was approaching her now and for the first time she realized her vulnerability. She started to take a step back but her calf touched the couch.
“Mulder, don’t do this. I just wanted to make sure you were okay.”
“I’m great.” He sounded so bitter. “My life is just perfect. I have a job I love, a palace to live it, the respect of my peers. What more could any man want, except maybe a piece of Ice Queen ass. Right?”
Now she was scared, truly scared of this man in front of her. That was a first. In seven years this had never - she’d been afraid for him many times but never, ever of him.
He saw that fear and stopped his approach, an unfamiliar emotion tugging at him. He had to search before he recognized it. Shame. He was ashamed of the way he was treating this woman.
And what was wrong with him? He didn’t treat women this way. He never had, his reputation as stud around the steno pool had been earned with care. He knew every move to get a woman in his bed. So why was this bitch bringing this out in him? He didn’t know her; he didn’t want to know her. He’d never bothered to make a move on her - he knew her reputation as well.
She was just another bit of T & A. Why was he analyzing this so hard? Shit! He backhanded the glass she’d brought to him earlier off the coffee table. “Get out. I’m not going to hurt you. Just . . . just leave, please.”
the struggle within him, but for the first time in years she wasn’t able to read
his thoughts. Something had happened to him and she had to get to the bottom of
“I’m safe, I’m here. Consider me tucked in for the night and go home.” She nodded silently, gathered up her jacket and left without another word.
He looked at the couch but shook his head and then grabbed the discarded t-shirt and headed toward his newly found bedroom. On impulse he slipped on the shirt and crawled into bed. He didn’t expect to sleep - without a woman or booze he’d probably have nightmares all night. But the t-shirt smelled good.
He looked up from the files when she entered the office the next morning. She was surprised to find him there, but tried to hide it.
“Listen, Agent Scully, I wanted to, uh, to apologize for . . . for the way I acted last night. It was good of you to be concerned - “
“You still don’t remember me, do you?”
“No. I got here early to go through some files, see if I could figure out what’s going on.”
She looked away and moved toward the desk. He seemed so distant, wary of her.
They both looked over at the door at the tap and Skinner walked in. “You look a little better Agent Mulder.”
“Uh, thank you. I slept well last night.” He had, no nightmares, some vague dream about shampoo or something. He shoved that aside.
“I’ve got something here I’d like you to look over. I got a call from a friend of mine. This one . . . they've requested you."
Him? Someone had requested him? He watched Scully take the file from Skinner's hands. She didn’t act surprised. After a couple of seconds she looked up at Skinner.
He nodded, "You better hurry. I have a feeling things are going to start disappearing fast. Let me know what you need." He let himself out of the office.
"What's he talking about?" It sounded like a command and she stiffened, but handed him the folder.
He looked in the file, then up at her. “Well?” Nothing, there was nothing in his memory about this.
“Maybe you should spend a little more time going through the files Agent Mulder.” She turned on her heel and left the office. Whatever had happened, she was getting damn tired of his attitude.
He watched her walk away with something like relief. Nothing he had ever heard about her had enticed him. Getting to “know” her hadn’t changed his mind. The case, however, did sound interesting. He stepped over to the files and began cross-referencing information. If he had been requested, then maybe there was something in here.
He wanted to talk to Diana. Maybe she could explain what the hell was going on. He’d not tried to contact her, waiting to see what the hell would happen next. He’d waited long enough.
As he reached for the phone, it rang. “Mulder.”
“Wendy Malcolm from Travel, Agent Mulder. Your tickets can be picked up at the desk.”
“Thanks. When do I leave?”
“You and Agent Scully are on the 1:30 to Atlanta.”
“Uh, yes sir. She asked me to - “
“No problem. Thanks Wendy.” He made his voice low and warm. There was a hesitation on the other end. He smiled; he’d caught her attention. Rather than pursue it right now, he got off the line.
Where was Diana? She wasn’t even listed in the directory. That was odd. He picked up the phone and called the switchboard. “I need a number for Diana Fowley.”
“Excuse me? Agent Mulder?”
‘Yes. Could you get me that number?”
“I . . . I don’t, Agent Fowley died seven months ago, sir.”
There was a long silence. “Agent Fowley is dead?”
“Yes sir.” She paused for a moment. “Agent Mulder, is everything okay?” The dial tone was her only answer.
Diana dead? Under what circumstances? He turned toward his computer, but glanced at his watch. If he was going to make his plane he needed to pack. He’d investigate this, but now he needed to focus. AD Skinner had given him an assignment - given - so he shouldn’t blow that. He had a lot to think about.
He was settled on the plane, reading the file Skinner had given him. Thoughts of Diana kept intruding and he continually pushed them aside.
Mulder looked up at the sound of a woman’s voice. Scully, of course she’d be here. He stood in the aisle to let her pass. He didn’t want to deal with her right now. As soon as she was seated, he returned to the file. There was no need to try to charm her.
After takeoff, which he noticed was white knuckle for her, he tried to ignore her. The scent from the night before was pervasive however. He’d slept with that scent around him and for some reason it was irritating the hell out of him. He’d be damned if he’d mention it.
While he flirted with the stewardess, she remained quiet and tried to concentrate on her own information from the file, but his voice kept filtering in. What was going on? He had never treated her like this.
He took the keys to the rental car without even bothering to ask if she wanted to drive. He did drive, probably 75% of the time, but he always made some comment. This time there was nothing. She dreaded an hour and a half ride with him. If she only knew what was wrong, but it was as though he were a different man.
He obviously didn't want to have anything to do with her either, flipping on the radio and turning the music up to prevent conversation. She turned to look out the window, more sad than angry at this point. She didn't realize he would occasionally look over at her, now that she couldn't see. He was startled at what looked like a tear on the side of her face. Her hand brushed it away before he was sure.
The drive seemed to take forever and even then he didn't seem anxious to get started on the case, pulling into the twelve-unit motor court near the hospital.
After checking in and taking their bags inside, she returned immediately to his door, knocking sharply. "Can we get on with this?"
"Sure Agent Scully, let's knock ourselves out." Again he took the driver's side and they drove the short distance to the hospital.
The place obviously was doing a lot more business than it was used to and they were unable to get anyone to stop and answer their questions. She was ready to reach for her badge and demand attention when a familiar voice caught her ear.
She turned and saw him, Commander Henderson. She grabbed Mulder's arm and pulled him into an empty cubicle, pulling the curtain closed. She had caught him off guard and was quite forceful about getting out of sight. He straightened his suit coat and looked down at her. "You couldn't wait until we're back at the motel?"
She shot him a withering glare. "That's Commander Henderson out there and he'd like nothing better than to throw you behind bars again. Is that what you want?"
"Behind bars? What did I do to him?"
She was ignoring him now. "That means a retrieval team is here. We've got to get out before he sees either one of us."
"He wants you behind bars too?"
"He's not fond of me, but he despises you." She snatched the car keys from Mulder's hand.
"Shut up." She peeked through the curtains. "Come on. Hurry." She didn't check to see if he was following her, and after a short hesitation he was. She already had the engine going when he opened the passenger door.
When they got back to the motel, he was out of the car before she could take it out of gear. She jumped out and entered his room on his heels, before he could shut the door.
"What do you want?" He barked at her, resisting the urge to take a breath of her, now that her scent was in his room.
"That was Commander Henderson, are you - "
"You've told me his name several times now. Who is he? Why is he after me?"
"Mulder, don't you remember him? What about Max?"
Mulder shook his head, at a loss.
"Who the hell are you?" She backed away from him then, drawing her gun.
"What the - "
"I want to see your blood. Prick your finger, do something, I need to see the color of your blood."
"You're out of your friggin’ mind! You want me to bleed for you?"
She nodded, ratcheting a bullet into the chamber. His eyes widened; she'd do it. The paranoid bitch was going to shoot him.
"Fine, fine okay." He pulled a small knife from his pocket and pressed the tip of the blade to his ring finger. A drop of bright red blood appeared.
He could see Scully visibly relax at the sight and point the gun toward the ceiling.
"Thanks, I think. What the fuck is going on here?"
"You're not my partner. You're not Fox Mulder and I want to know what you've done with him."
"I haven't done anything with him. I am Fox Mulder, I always have been."
"I want your fingerprints and DNA."
"You can have all the DNA you want." He made a suggestive motion with his hips and saw her anger rise. What was wrong with him? He didn't treat women like this. "Dana . . . Dana, I'm sorry."
She gave him the smallest of nods. "We need to get back to DC. Finding out what's going on with you is more important than this case." She turned toward the door then.
"Scully, you said retrieval team. What are they retrieving?"
She looked him in the eye then, "UFOs." She let herself out the door, but not before she saw his eyes widen and his mouth fall slightly open.
He stood in shock for the longest time. UFOs? She hadn’t been pulling his leg, she wouldn’t do that, he knew that instinctively. A noise on the other side of the wall finally drew his attention.
She was crying. Shit! Why was she crying? He hated it when women cried, but he couldn’t ignore it. Not if it was her. He let himself out of his room and moved to her door. He started to knock, then stopped, trying the knob.
She hadn’t taken the time to turn the old-fashioned thumb switch and the door was unlocked. He carefully let himself into the room. She was seated on the bed, her back against the headboard, her knees up under her chin with her arms wrapped around them.
“Scully? You okay?”
She shook her head but didn’t speak.
“Scully, what is our relationship?”
“We’re partners.” She sniffed and reached for a tissue. He took another cautious step toward the bed and eased down on the corner opposite her.
“I think it’s more than that.”
She looked at him then. “Yes. We were friends, best friends. You were always there for me. I hope I was there for you.”
“I have no doubt you were. The woman that broke into my apartment the first evening would be there for anything.”
She looked away then and sighed.
“When was I there for you?”
She glanced back, startled. He was serious, he wanted to hear this. She took a deep breath, “When, when I was returned after my abduction I was in a coma, dying. They removed life support and were waiting for me to die. You came and sat with me, talked to me. And I decided to live.” His eyes were wide, but he didn’t interrupt.
“And when my cancer was . . . you found my cure and saved me again.”
“I found a cure for cancer?”
“You found a cure for mine. The implant.” She touched the back of her neck lightly. “I realize now I was hours from dying, and you . . . Why do I infuriate you so?”
He sat up straight at that question. “It . . . it’s not fury, I think it’s fear. I feel like I could care for you, do care for you, and that’s not my style, Agent Scully. I booze ‘em and bed ‘em.” He shrugged.
She blushed slightly but shook her head. “That’s not the man I know. When . . . when did you start drinking?” She chose the easier topic.
“Why didn’t you tell me Diana was dead?”
She blinked at the change in subject. “I did, once.”
"What happened between the two of you?" He asked her, puzzled.
"Diana and me? Nothing."
His expression showed he didn't believe her, but he dropped it, for now. "So what do we do?"
"Let the guys do some testing. We have to know what's going on."
When they landed, she drove directly to the Lone Gunmen's apartment. He followed in his own car.
"Guys, I need your help. This is not Mulder, not the Mulder I know."
"I am Mulder. I don't know what's going on, but I am Fox Mulder."
The three men stood there at a loss looking between the two agents.
"Take his finger prints, and his DNA." Scully turned to Byers.
They looked at Mulder then, who nodded. He sank into a chair and held out his hand. Frohike looked at Byers and shrugged, then stepped forward and got the print kit out of the desk.
He took the prints and headed for the scanner. "Scully,” Byers moved over toward her. "What happened?"
"He doesn't remember Max Fenig. He doesn't know who Commander Henderson is."
"He could still be Mulder; maybe someone tampered with his memory."
Mulder looked over at them. "How did Diana Fowley die?"
They all turned to look at him then. After a long moment, Scully moved over to him. She had known that conversation wasn't over, but she was grateful the others were here. "She was murdered." He flinched. "It was after I returned from Africa. I found you and got you away from them. About the time you were released from the hospital she was found in her apartment, shot twice through the heart."
"Hospital? Africa? You got me away from what?"
She looked at Byers then as though to see if he were hearing this. "Mulder, they took you, they performed surgery on you."
"What kind of surgery?"
"On your . . . on your brain, Mulder."
"You're kidding, right?"
"No Mulder. Right here." She moved closer and touched him lightly on his scalp. When she felt no scar, she moved her fingers slightly to the side. She glanced over at Byers and then brought her other hand up to his head, parting his hair.
"Ow!" He jerked away as she pulled his hair in her agitation.
"There's no scar. Byers, there's no scar." Her voice was shaking.
They all stepped back from the man then. Frohike looked up, "the fingerprints match."
"What?" Scully stared at Frohike then. "They can't! There's no scar!"
Byers put what he hoped was a calming hand on Scully's arm. "Let us check the DNA. Maybe there's an explanation, maybe the scar - "
"Vanished? Along with his memory of past cases? When have you ever known Mulder to forget anything?"
Byers looked away from her then. Langly and Frohike refused to meet her eyes as well.
"Scully, what's going on?" Mulder looked up at her then. "I am Mulder, I don't remember being your partner, I thought that was Diana. Since I'm apparently the only one that remembers things that way, I agree, something's wrong. But I don't know what."
"I don't either Mulder." She sank into the other chair and looked at him. "But you are not the Fox Mulder I have known for the past seven years. You need to tell me what you remember. We need to find out where your memories diverge from mine. Byers?"
"Anything you need Scully." Byers placed a calming hand on Scully’s shoulder and Mulder felt his blood pressure rise. He had to hold himself in place to keep from knocking the man’s hand away. What did he care if another man touched her? He never had with any other woman, and she wasn’t his type.
"You have no memory of ever being my partner?"
"None. I recognized you that morning when I walked in my office and you were there, but I'd never worked with you. Diana and I found the X-Files about ten years ago. We've worked on them together ever since, or she has and she takes me along, sorry, took me along."
"She was the lead agent?"
"Maybe not at first, but yeah."
"She didn't drink as much." He shrugged.
Scully closed her eyes at that. "Did she, did she chose your cases or were they assigned?"
"For the most part she chose them."
"You seemed surprised by the amount of detail in the files you were looking at. Did you not . . . "
Mulder actually laughed at that. "No, we didn't go into that kind of detail. We were a joke. You should have seen some of the cases she brought in. But hell, it kept me off the streets, during the day at least."
"Did you not care?"
"Hell yes I cared!" The question had obviously infuriated him. "But I was the only one that did. It became an exercise."
"Did Diana - "
"Diana didn't care either, not once we quit . . . “ He looked down at his shoes then, "Drinking became more attractive and women kept me busy."
"Oh Mulder." She turned away from him at those words and he felt a moment of panic.
"Mulder, we knew you before you worked with Diana." Byers spoke finally. "You were very excited when you found the X-Files. I know you always gave Diana some credit for finding them, but she wasn't there. In fact, she came to you after you found them because she'd heard about what you had found. Scully, do you think, do you think she could have been sent like you were, to debunk the work? Only, she actually did."
Scully looked at Byers for a long moment. "You think she worked with them? You think she deliberately worked against . . . "
"Yeah, I do." Byers nodded.
"It makes the most sense Scully." Langly faced her then, and Frohike nodded.
"That doesn't explain who this man is."
"I'm Fox Mulder."
"You're not my Mulder!" She stopped when she realized what she had said. "I . . . I mean . . . "
"It's okay Scully." Frohike placed a hand on her shoulder.
She shook her head. "I'm going home." She moved toward the door.
"Scully." Mulder rose, but she flinched from him and he stopped.
She left the apartment then without another word.
"Listen, Mulder, she'll be okay. Just give her some time. We'll get this thing figured out and - "
"Right. I need a drink."
"Have it here Mulder. Frohike's got what you want." Byers placed a hand on his shoulder. "You shouldn't - "
"I need to be alone."
"That's not a good idea Mulder."
"When's the last time I had a good idea?" He moved on to the door and didn't look back. The three men exchanged glances.
"Should we follow him?" Langly asked Byers.
"No. He doesn't know what's going on any more than we do. We need to give him some space." Byers looked over at Frohike, who reluctantly nodded.
The knock on her door finally roused her and she grabbed her robe. Was it Mulder? He was the only one who had ever just showed up at her door this late at night. If it was him, it was the first normal thing he had done in months. After the conversation at the guys’ apartment, he had refused further discussion. The DNA had matched, just like the prints. No chemicals of any kind had been found in his blood.
Many times she had turned to find him looking at her, watching her, but he never allowed a personal conversation.
His drinking continued, though he didn’t seem to be picking up women anymore. At least if he did, he hid it from her.
Her depression grew, but so did her workload. He automatically fell into a secondary role, often not even bothering with a theory.
At first she had tried to tease him into an outlandish theory, just to watch his mind click into gear. A couple of times it had worked, but not lately. She desperately missed his late night phone calls, the occasional pizza, even the damn innuendos.
She had picked up the slack, covering for his lackluster performance, hoping every day that he would snap out of it as quickly as it had taken him over. It didn’t seem to be happening, and he did not want her help. He’d made that painfully obvious.
She automatically checked the peephole. Skinner? She yanked the door open, "Sir? What's wrong?"
He moved into her apartment and shut the door.
"What is it?" Her voice shook, as he still didn't speak, merely leading her to her couch.
"Scully, Dana, there's been an accident."
"Accident?" She didn't realize she was now gripping his hand. "Mulder?"
Skinner nodded. Without warning she rose, "Where is he? Where have they taken him? I need to be with him."
"Dana, Dana . . . he, he didn't make it. He was apparently driving intoxicated. They've taken the . . . the body to - "
"No! No, he's not dead. He's not . . . “ Skinner had taken hold of her now and pulled her against him. This man wouldn't lie to her, but he couldn't be right, not about this. Her arms tightened painfully around him and he could feel her nails even through his suit coat. His own eyes were wet now and he felt the shudders pass through her body.
He agreed to take her, finally, and allowed her to get dressed while he waited. Skinner sat on the couch, numb with despair himself; he couldn't imagine what she was thinking. He'd never known the man to drink, not like this. How could he have . . . at least he hadn't taken anyone else with him when he drove into that bridge abutment.
Arrangements needed to be made. The man had no family, except Scully and she was in no shape . . . later, they could think about this later and he would be there for her.
He rose as he heard her approach. She was pale, but she was composed again. He'd make this as easy on her as he could.
She pushed the door to the morgue open. Skinner had wanted to come with her but she had to do this alone. His body had been brought out and his face wasn't covered. He wasn't marked; his face was unmarred by the accident. The airbag had . . . she took hold of the table to stay on her feet.
She stared down at him; ignoring all of the things they had discussed that day at the Gunmen's apartment. She wouldn't touch his scalp; she didn't want to believe that the scar wasn't there.
"What happened to you? Oh god Mulder, why did you change? The drinking, the women. Were you trying to get killed? Did you just give up? What am I supposed to do now? How do I live?"
It took a second to realize his eyes had opened. When she did she jerked back, her eyes impossibly wide. Her mouth moved but no sound emerged.
"Scully? You're alive?"
That forced air back into her lungs. "Me? Mulder what the hell is . . . you were . . . you were . . .” And she sank toward the floor.
"Scully!" He was off the table just beginning to realize his nudity. When he ensured himself that she had only fainted, he draped the sheet that had covered him around himself and thought to look around. A morgue? He was in a morgue and she had thought he was dead. Was he back? Was he back to where Scully was alive? They had a lot to talk about, he wondered if she would listen to him this time. And, he smiled, how long would it take to get her back into his bed, where she belonged.
Skinner pushed the door open. "Scully? Dana?" There was no response so he stepped inside. What the hell? Scully was lying on the table now and someone was . . . Mulder?
Mulder glanced over at him, then turned his attention back to her. "Come on Scully, come on back to me. It's okay."
She stirred and opened her eyes. "Oh my God." It was a whisper, then her arms went around his neck. His arms encompassed her as well and the sheet slipped again.
Mulder glanced over at Skinner, not releasing her. "Do you know where my clothes are?"
"The, uh, the EMTs cut them off of you when they . . . when they were trying - "
"Okay. Can you find me some scrubs or something?"
Skinner nodded and let himself out. He refused to think. Right now it wouldn't be productive. He found some greens in a drawer and returned to the room.
"Scully, let me get dressed. I'm not leaving; I'll just go over to the corner. Okay?"
She nodded, still not trusting her voice.
After he slipped on the pants, Skinner approached him as he beckoned. "We need to get her out of here. She's had a bad shock."
"She's had! Jesus, Mulder, I identified your body before I went to get her. I knew what this would do to her. You were dead."
"I believe you. I can't explain anything right now, and it isn't the time anyway."
Skinner nodded and bit down on his questions.
When Mulder was dressed, he returned to her side. "Come on, we're taking you home." He helped her down from the table and moved her toward the door.
"Mulder, we have to tell the morgue something." Skinner realized he was whispering.
"Tell them they were premature and we'll work it out tomorrow. Right now, we're out of here."
Actually there was no one around, so they headed out to Skinner's car. Skinner was a little surprised that Scully had made no protest, but he would handle this and try to keep her out of it.
Mulder sat her in the front seat of Skinner's car and climbed into the back seat directly behind her. His hand was on her shoulder immediately, he had to touch her, reassure himself that she was alive. She grasped it with her own hand and remained silent the entire trip.
When Skinner pulled up in front of Scully's apartment he put the car in park and turned to Mulder. "Do you want me to give you a ride home?"
"No. I'll be staying here tonight."
Skinner nodded but made no comment. None was needed anyway. He sat there and watched him support her inside and shook his head. He needed an in-depth explanation, which he probably would never get, but . . . After they were inside he sat watching the door. When he realized it, he sighed and put the car back in gear.
Mulder took the key from her hand and let them inside of her apartment. She still hadn't spoken.
"Scully, it's really late, why don't you get undressed and go back to bed."
Her eyebrow rose to new heights as her eyes narrowed.
"Okay, I withdraw the suggestion. Can I get you some tea?"
"What happened? Skinner would not have come over here unless - "
"Unless he was sure it was me." Mulder nodded. "I can't explain - "
He took a deep breath. "Come here, sit with me." He took the corner of the couch and sat her in the V of his legs, pulling her against him.
"What are you doing?" She turned to face him.
"I'm holding you. Please."
"What's going on Mulder? What's going on?" Her voice broke then and his hold on her tightened.
"Tell me what's been happening here."
"Just talk to me. Scully, please."
She couldn't see him, not the way he was holding her. She took a deep shuddering breath. "You changed. You weren't you."
"How was I different?"
From another man that question would have been absurd, but this was Mulder. "You . . . you were more damaged, more hurt."
He absorbed that silently, then "What did I do?"
"You drank, you drank a lot. And . . . "
"And what Scully?"
"And picked up women."
"Oh god." He closed his eyes and placed a kiss on her head. "It wasn't me Scully. You know that don't you?"
"I can't explain it, but it wasn't me."
"You didn't know me. You didn't remember that we were partners. You thought Diana was your . . . "
His arms tightened involuntarily around her.
"Mulder?" She started to turn to look at him, but she felt him shake his head and hesitated.
"Diana's dead." He said it flatly, no emotion.
"You had forgotten that." He said nothing and after a moment she spoke again, not turning to him. "Mulder?"
He was silent for another long moment. "The man you're talking about was Fox Mulder, but he wasn't me. He took over my life and . . . and I took over his."
She did turn then, "What?"
He sighed, "I don't know what happened. I don't know how it happened. I went to work on a regular day. I had no idea anything was different Scully. But when I got there, you didn't know me. Well, you knew me, but by reputation only. My reputation there."
"What was that?"
"I drank and . . . Scully it wasn't me. You . . . you weren't happy with my attentions."
She heard the humor in that statement, "What does that mean?"
"The first time, before I knew anything was wrong, I . . . I treated you like I guess I always have."
"You know." He shrugged.
"You kneed me in the balls."
"I what!" She sat up from him then and twisted to look at him.
He was smiling at the memory, which confused her. "It's okay. Well, now it is. At least I knew something was wrong almost immediately. I limped down to my office and started checking things out." He pulled her back against him. "It took me some time to work up the courage the approach you again. It was a good thing I've you all these years, because I had to really get some strong data before I tried. I kept asking myself what you would do to investigate what was happening."
Her hands came up to clasp his as they held her.
"Mulder, was Diana there?"
His grip on her became painful for an instant, then relaxed. "Yes."
"Mulder, I . . . I took you to the guys. They checked you out, the prints were yours, the DNA was yours."
"But the memories . . . they diverged around Diana."
"You . . . you talked about . . . about her?"
"We were desperate to find out what was going on. She . . . she's the one that damaged you. At least that's the way it seemed to me. When you talked about her, it was almost as though you were . . . defeated."
"I was. You said I seemed damaged. That was a good description. She . . . she was part of the conspiracy. At least over there she was. She was doing what they wanted you to do when they assigned you to me. You had too much integrity, she . . . she didn't."
She felt him shake his head. "How did he . . . how did I treat you?"
He waited through her hesitation. "You didn't have a lot of use for me. And . . . and you frightened me once."
He hugged her quickly. "What did I do?"
"I thought . . . It occured to be that you were going to rape me."
"Oh god. Scully - "
"That’s when I knew something was wrong, that somehow it wasn't you."
"Thank you." He said it softly, almost a whisper.
"I know you better than that Mulder." They sat in silence for a little while then.
“Um hum.” He kissed the top of her head softly.
“There were times, over these past few weeks when . . . when I thought you wanted to trust me, wanted to let me help you, but you couldn’t. That’s what I meant by damaged.”
"Scully, it's almost dawn. Why don't you try to sleep a little?"
"No Mulder. You have to talk to me now. What happened to you?" She pulled away from him then and faced him. "What did Diana do?"
She watched his face pale slightly and she moved back closer to him. "Mulder, what?"
"She murdered you."
Scully's eyes widened and she took hold of his hand. "What?"
"Diana found out I had gone to you, that you were helping me with the work. You were the reason the work had become legitimate. And . . . "
He looked down, "She found out that we were lovers." He expected her to pull away. When she didn't, he looked up at her.
She swallowed, "Lovers?" He nodded silently. She looked at him for a long time, then decided to change the subject. "You died here and I died there?"
"We're both alive, we're here, together. Diana is dead in both worlds."
"You . . . you killed her?"
"I would have, but no. After she shot you, we wrestled for her gun, it went off, and then she collapsed. I called an ambulance for you and they took you in. When I got there. . . when I got there they said you . . . you hadn't made it. I don't know what happened then, I guess I lost it. When I came to, you were standing over me."
His hand traced her cheek.
“How long, how long was I different?” He finally asked.
“Weeks. Long, lonely weeks. Why? How long did you think you were . . . gone?”
He nodded, “That sounds right. You didn’t come to my bed quickly there either.” He tried for humor but she could hear his pain.
They fell silent again.
She looked down at her hands, "Were we . . . were we good together?"
He blinked at that. "Yeah. Yeah we were." She nodded but didn't respond.
"I know you're tired Scully. Try to get a little rest, please."
"Would you stay?"
"Sure. I'll stretch out here and - "
"I'm not . . . I'm not asking you to have sex with me but could you hold me. I want to know it's you, that you're . . . back."
"Do you believe me Scully?"
"It's 4:30 in the morning Mulder. I can't . . . I don't have a clue what I believe, but you seem to be yourself again." A small smile appeared on her face, "and it's a good story, especially the part about us being together."
"Scully, I - "
"Come to bed Mulder. We'll talk when we're both awake. For now, just be Mulder and, and hold me for a little while longer."
He nodded and let her lead him into her room. She was right, they could discuss this later. She was alive, that was the only truly important thing. And holding her would be no hardship at all.
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Mulder, Scully, the Lone Gunman and Skinner all belong to Chris Carter, 10-13 and Fox. No infringement intended.