She rolled to pick up the ringing phone. This time of night it could only be one person. “Hello?”
“Scully, help me.”
The jolt of adrenaline shot through her. “Mulder? Where are you?”
“I don’t, I don’t know.” He sounded shaky, even worse since he'd heard her voice.
“You’re not home.”
“Scullee.” He was losing it. What the hell had happened?
“Okay, it’s going to be okay. Are you hurt?” The whimper was his only answer. Calm, she had to stay calm. “Look around, Mulder. Tell me where you are.”
She could hear him draw a deep breath, trying to ground himself. “It’s an office, a store front. It’s mostly empty. There’s an old metal desk. It’s dirty. There’s, there’s an old calendar on the wall and, and a stack of them on the floor.”
“Is there an ad on it? Come on, stay with me Mulder.”
“Yeah, it’s a realtor. Starkey Homes.”
“Uh, it says Doswell, Virginia. I think, I think this was the realtor’s office.”
“Okay, I can get there in a couple of hours. Mulder, you’ll stay there, wait for me.” It wasn't a question.
“Mulder, what happened?” She was already nearly dressed she realized.
“I don’t . . . I don’t remem - “ He stopped, his voice cut off too abruptly.
“Mulder? Mulder, what?”
“There’s a bod-a body. Oh god, no, no.” The phone went dead.
“Mulder!” It was a scream. What had happened? She immediately hit the redial, but his voice mail picked up. “Damn it!” She shoved on her shoes and was running to her car.
Traffic laws didn’t apply to her at 1:30 on a Sunday morning. She continued to try to reach him, but only his voice mail answered.
She took the exit to Doswell and spotted a sheriff’s car. She pulled in front of him and exited the car. She had her shield in her hand as she moved back toward his car. The deputy exited the squad car to meet her, his hand on his gun.
“I’m Special Agent Dana Scully. Do you know an office building, abandoned, used to be Starkey Realty?”
He looked at her badge. “Yes, ma’am; I’m Deputy Irwin. It’s downtown. What’s the problem?”
“I received a call from my partner. He was there, then we lost contact. Can you give me back up?”
“Yes, ma’am. Let me get the sheriff on the horn, then follow me.”
She nodded, “Please hurry.”
The deputy kept to his word and they were moving in just a couple of minutes. Scully hadn’t even had time to get out of her car when a second sheriff’s car joined them at of a row of store fronts.
Introductions were quickly exchanged and with gun drawn, the deputy tested the knob. He looked over at them when it turned easily. The sheriff and Scully also drew their guns and flashlights.
Deputy Irwin spotted the body first. He checked for life signs, then shook his head.
“Mulder saw the body. He said that just before the connection was broken.” Scully whispered. Her flashlight picked up Mulder's cell phone, lying just beyond the body.
“Do we have power in here? We need some light.” Sheriff Hockett asked.
“Let me check.” Irwin moved back to the wall and finally located a switch. “Shield your eyes.” He flipped it and light flooded the office.
Scully looked around; there was no sign of Mulder. Where the hell had he gone? She moved toward the back of the office.
“Agent Scully, be careful.”
She nodded and checked behind the desk. Something drew her attention to a door at the back. She approached it cautiously and listened, her ear to the door.
She brought her gun up and after Sheriff Hockett moved behind her, pushed it open. She spotted Mulder sitting on the dirty floor, shaking. He didn’t look up at her. “Mulder.” It was half whisper, half gasp.
Then she was on her knees beside him. He cringed away from her. “Mulder, it’s me.” She tried to turn his face toward her. His skin was clammy and cold. “He’s in shock. Where’s the nearest trauma center?”
“Over an hour away.” Sheriff Hockett said. “Doc Tilley has a clinic here in town. He could check him out quick, then see if he needs to be transported.”
“Can you call him?”
Hockett nodded and pulled out his cell phone.
Scully turned back to Mulder. “Mulder, can you stand? I want to take you to see a doctor. You need to get checked out.” He glanced up at her and quickly away. At least he had heard her. “Could you help me?” She turned to the deputy.
He moved to help her get Mulder to his feet, but Mulder shied back violently from his touch. “That’s okay, we can do this Mulder. Come on.” He allowed her to put her hand under his arm and he made it to his feet but he didn’t straighten up. He pulled away from her then, and he was limping when he took the couple of steps to the main room. He still hadn’t spoken.
“Doc Tilley’s gonna meet you at the clinic. Do you want me to drive?” Hockett moved toward them, but stopped when Mulder flinched.
“I’ll drive him. Give me the directions.”
“Three blocks down, turn right on Hickman. It’s the second building on the left, real easy to spot. It’s a new brick building.”
Scully nodded and led Mulder to her car. She opened the door and helped him in. He grimaced as she pulled the seatbelt around him. “Hang on, Mulder. You’re going to be okay.”
He turned his face from her and, frightened, she hurried to get in herself. She was desperate to talk to him, but he was obviously in no shape. What the hell had happened and why was he here in Virginia?
Dr. Tilley met them at the door as he unlocked the clinic. He was an older man, but he looked concerned and competent. “Agent Scully? Why don’t we bring your partner in here?”
She led Mulder into the examining room, then turned surprised when Dr. Tilley took her arm. “I think you should wait outside.”
“No, I, I’m a doctor. You’ll need - “
“Let’s give Mr. Mulder a little privacy.”
Privacy? But he was gently shutting the door in her face. She stood facing the barrier for several long minutes, then began pacing. She had destroyed a third fingernail before she decided to hell with it and headed back to the door. It opened just as she approached. Dr. Tilley didn’t even bat an eye at her proximity.
“Why don’t we talk?” He took her arm and moved her away as he shut the door.
“How is he?”
“I’ve given him something to relax him. He’s pretty beat up. Two cracked ribs and a lot of bruising. I’ve taped his ribs. He’s got a concussion.” He hesitated then, “Is Mr. Mulder married?”
“Married, uh, no.” Why had he asked that?
“Girlfriend, significant other?”
Me! I’m his . . . his what? “I’m his partner.”
He hesitated, but she was here. “Mr. Mulder was also assaulted.” She waited, “sexually.”
It took about a heart beat, then the color drained from her face. Maybe she was the correct person. He took her arm. “Let’s have a seat.” He led her to a chair in his office, and sat beside her. “You’re a doctor?” She nodded. “I saw no evidence of semen. I’m the coroner and medical examiner for the county. Just in case I’ve taken some blood for an AIDS test and - “
She moaned and he placed his hand on her head, pressing it down. “Come on, you don’t want to pass out. He needs you. He's going to need a lot of support, physical contact with someone . . . important.”
Those words connected, ‘he needs you’. Yes, but would he accept her? Was she 'important'? Oh god, not Mulder. “I need to see him.”
The soft chime on the front door went off then and Dr. Tilley rose, patting her on the shoulder. In a minute he returned with Sheriff Hockett.
“How’s he doing?”
“His injuries aren’t life threatening, but I have him sedated.”
Hockett nodded, “We’ve identified the body. It’s Dwight Jones. Remember, him Doc?”
“Starkey’s grandson? Isn’t he in prison?”
“Dwight Jones, the serial killer?” Scully stared at the sheriff. “Mulder put him behind bars. He got a life sentence, no chance for parole.”
“Yes ma’am. I’m real surprised we weren’t informed that he’d escaped." He sounded more angry than surprised. "This is one of the places he hid out. His mother’s family grew up here. He was here during the summers as a kid.”
“He got out and came looking for Mulder.” She was speaking to herself. “There was no word to the Bureau before we left on Friday. They would have let us know, with Mulder’s connection to the case.”
“Jones was strangled. There’s going to have to be an investigation.”
She looked over at the door separating her from Mulder. “It had to be self defense.” The sheriff nodded. “I need to see him, get him home.”
Dr. Tilley nodded. “You can see him in just a second. Where’s home?”
He shook his head, “I don’t want him to travel. Why don’t you stay here the rest of the night? Then you can both speak with the sheriff in the morning.” She started to argue, then only nodded. “Go on in.” He helped her to her feet. “He’s going to need you. Are you okay?”
“Yes.” She straightened up. “Thank you.”
He nodded and watched her walk away, then turned back to the sheriff.
She started to tap on the door, but decided not to, in case he was sleeping. She opened it and saw him. He was lying on the examining table, his eyes closed, his body was stiff and his hands were fisted at his side. She knew he had heard her, but he didn’t acknowledge her presence.
“Mulder, it’s me. How are you feeling?” She moved closer and let her hand lightly touch his cheek. He flinched away. Her first impulse was to withdraw; that wasn’t what he needed now. She fought it and moved closer. She placed one hand on his arm and the other caressed his face.
His lips went white, but he managed not to pull away. He still hadn’t opened his eyes.
“Mulder, Dr. Tilley says you have a concussion and some cracked ribs.” Mulder nodded, maintaining distance by not seeing her. “He wants us to stay here for awhile. It’s nearly daylight anyway. We can both get a little sleep.”
She closed her own eyes as she saw one tear escape and run down into his hair line. “Mulder, I’m here.”
Did she see a small nod in acknowledgement? He did jerk when her hand left his arm. “I’m still here. I’m just moving a chair closer.” His lips parted as though to speak, then closed again. “Just rest, Mulder.” She took his hand.
They were finally home. The sheriff had been efficient, but kind. She hadn’t been allowed to be with Mulder during his statement. She had hurried to give her own, so he wouldn’t be alone for long.
Fortunately the media hadn’t gotten word until after they had left, thanks to the low tech handling of the case.
Mulder had been quiet, too damn quiet, but she had tried not to disturb him. The doctor had said he needed to be touched, held. Maybe he hadn’t used those words, but that’s what he’d said. She had kept his hand on her thigh while she was driving, always reaching for it when he pulled away. He’d given in finally without a fight. Now he had his head against the window on the passenger’s side, his eyes closed.
She pulled into a parking spot and cut off the engine. “We’re home.”
He raised his head and opened his eyes. They narrowed immediately. “This is your . . . “
“Yes. You’re staying at my place until your ribs heal a little.”
“I don’t need - “
“I do.” She interrupted. “Indulge me, Mulder. You need a little TLC and it’s easier here.”
She saw the convulsive swallow. She opened her door and hurried around the car to help him. He forced himself not to pull away from her and exited the car.
He limped into her apartment and moved toward the couch. “Mulder, you need to get some real rest. Come on in the bedroom.” She waited just an instant for the innuendo, but it didn’t come. He just moved in that direction.
“I don’t have any clothes here.” He finally spoke.
“Sure you do.” She smiled, “All those things you throw into my suitcase at the last minute are here, washed and folded. They’re in the closet.”
His eyes lightened for an instant, but he made no comment.
“Get comfortable. I’m going to fix you some dinner.”
“I’m not hungry, Scully.”
“Try anyway. You haven’t eaten since . . . “
He turned away. She sighed but he needed to eat, so she waited until he entered the bedroom, then moved into the kitchen.
He had changed into an old, soft jogging suit and was sitting on the side of the bed when she entered carrying a tray with their meal. “I should go to my place, Scully.”
“Please stay. I’ll feel better.”
“Why?” He looked at her then.
“The man beat you. You have a concussion. Let me look after you.” She sat beside him. “Would you rather eat at the table?”
“This is fine.” He moved carefully, to lean against the headboard. She adjusted the pillows behind him and he grabbed her hand. “Don’t.”
She drew back, stung, but she took a deep breath and nodded.
They ate in silence, then she moved the tray away. "Would you like a shower? I can rewrap your ribs afterward."
“A shower. Yes.” He didn’t wait, getting to his feet without her help.
“There’re towels in there.”
He nodded but didn’t turn back to her. She let her shoulders sag once he was out of sight.
She needed to get in touch with Skinner. They were AWOL and she needed to get some information on this Dwight Jones’ escape. She dialed his private number, bypassing Kim under the circumstances.
“Skinner.” His voice was all business when he picked up the phone.
“It's Agent Scully - “
“Scully, is he . . . “ Skinner interrupted her quickly. She knew from his tone that he knew what had happened.
“No, he’s not all right. Were you aware that Jones had escaped?”
“No. This office was not informed. I’m working on that, believe me. The doctor . . . his injuries . . . “
“He’ll be at my place. We won’t be in for a few days.”
“Of course. Dana, if there’s anything . . . “
Dana. She swallowed. “Find out how this happened. If he was set up, I want to know who did it. I want them punished.”
“Me too. Tell him I’m . . . tell him what you think is best.”
“Yes sir.” She glanced back over at the bathroom door. He’d been in there a long time. “I need to go.”
“Of course. I’ll be in touch.”
She broke the connection and moved over to the door. She could hear the shower still running. He had to be out of hot water by now. “Mulder?” She tapped on the door. There was no answer. Horrible images came to her mind and she hurried to the kitchen to find something to open the lock.
She let herself in. He was standing in the shower. She drew the curtain aside, not worried about modesty right now. He had scrubbed himself raw in places and was shivering from the cool water now pouring from the shower. She turned off the water and picked up a towel. She secured it around his waist.
“Mulder, come on, I need to warm you up.” When she tugged at his arm, he stepped from the shower. She placed another towel around his shoulders and began massaging some heat back into his body. “Mulder? Mulder, can you hear me?”
He sagged against her then. She couldn’t hold his weight, but managed to slow his fall to the floor, sitting beside him. She pulled him to her and he clutched at her; giving in, finally, to tears.
“Mulder, I’m here, let it go.” She held him, rocking him gently as he sobbed into her neck. She had no idea how long they sat that way, but he finally seemed to realize what he was doing. He started to pull back, but her arms tightened around him.
“Scully, I - “
“Shh. It’s okay, Mulder. You belong to me. I won’t let anyone hurt you again.”
He looked up at her then, “I belong to you?” His voice was small, and he sounded young and in pain.
“Yes, you belong to me. You have for a long time. I’m sorry I never said it before.” She brushed the wet hair back from his forehead and pressed her lips there. “Come on, you can’t be comfortable here. Let me rewrap your ribs, then we can talk, if you like.”
She wasn’t sure he nodded, but he didn’t pull away. After another long moment, he sat up and she helped him to his feet. “Get dressed, Mulder. Leave off your shirt until I can wrap you, okay?”
He nodded, and moved toward her bedroom.
When she saw that he was steady on his feet, she let him precede her to the room and she assembled her supplies. He was sitting on the side of the bed when she returned. He was wearing sweat pants, but no shirt. His bruises were beginning to darken.
Wrapping his ribs took little time. She’d had practice over the years.
“Get comfortable, Mulder. I’m going to change.”
He nodded. “Have you talked to Skinner?”
“Yes. He’s checking on things.” She didn’t dwell on it. “I’ll be right back.”
He watched her leave the room silently. He belonged to her? She’d said it, did she mean it? His eyes widened as she returned to the room, wearing some silky looking dark blue pajamas.
“What?" She didn't quite smile, "I haven’t slept in a long time. I thought I’d get comfortable.” She climbed into the other side of the bed. He still hadn’t spoken. “Do you feel like talking?”
He looked away then, so she cuddled carefully against him.
“Scully, why are you . . . This, you’ve never - “
“No, I haven’t. I’m sorry.”
He let his arm go around her, as though he couldn’t help himself. “I belong to you?”
Her fingers on his chin turned him to face her. “Yes.”
“Do, do you belong to me?”
“Definitely.” She allowed him to absorb that. “Mulder, talk to me. Tell me what happened.” She held him as the shudder ran through him. “It won’t help to hold it in. Haven’t you learned that after all this time?”
He swallowed and tucked her head under his chin. “I was jogging, after work on Friday.”
She closed her eyes. Friday. She had hoped it hadn’t been that long.
“I did a walking lap to cool down, then I put on my jacket and picked up my clothes. He was there, stretching but I didn’t pay any attention. I didn’t see his face. He hit me on the back of the head. I didn’t completely lose consciousness, but I went down. He hauled me to a car and tied my hands behind me, then shoved me in the back seat. I did lose it then. I came to when he dragged me into that building.”
“You recognized him, didn’t you Mulder?” She couldn’t see his face, but he nodded against her head. “Did you know he had escaped?”
“No. He was serving 158 years for his murders. He wasn’t supposed . . . “
“I know. Skinner is checking on that. He wasn’t notified either and he’s angry. Go on, Mulder.”
“You know, the doctor told you . . . “
“Yes, he told me. Mulder, I don’t want you to worry. The doctor took blood for an AIDS test, but - ”
Mulder shook his head, “I knew he took the blood, but I didn’t realize . . . I don’t need - “
“Mulder, it’s a good precaution.”
He managed to meet her eyes for a second. “No, he had . . .” Mulder swallowed again, “performance problems.”
Her eyes widened, “Then - “
“It made him mad, Scully.”
“He, he . . . “ she wanted to ask, but didn’t know how.
“My flashlight.” He was watching her, for signs of revulsion.
She met his eyes, not avoiding him at all. “I didn’t see it at the scene.”
“It was under his body. Does anyone else . . . “
“Skinner has been in touch with Sheriff Hockett.” She moved away enough to look at him. His eyes were closed, his head shaking slightly. “He’s not going to say anything, Mulder. He’s worried about you of course, but he knows you’re with me.”
“Thank god.” He barely breathed the words, but she heard them.
“You need to rest now and I could use some sleep myself. Do you mind if I stay here?”
“Mind?” It was almost a chuckle. He settled down in the bed and pulled her against him again.
“I don’t want to hurt you.”
She wanted to stay awake until he drifted off, but the stress and fear had taken their toll. She was asleep in minutes. She slept peacefully until he grew restless, first stirring, then fighting her hold on him.
”Mulder, it’s me. It’s Scully. You’re safe now. I have you.”
He opened frightened eyes at those words and seemed to take in her proximity. “I belong to you?” The longing in his face closed her throat for an instant. She’d had no idea what that sentence would mean to him.
“Yes, you belong to me.”
“Why would you want me to, Scully? I’m damaged; even before I . . . I was a mess, a failure.”
“Mulder, you’re none of those things. You’re the strongest man I know. Life has happened to you and you keep going.”
He shook his head.
“There’re a lot of things about me you don’t know, Mulder. You might consider me damaged if you knew it all.” She watched surprised as his expression became one of concern. “Would I still belong to you then?”
He moved closer, she could feel his breath on her lips, but he didn’t make the final move. She made her decision and moved that quarter of an inch that separated them; pressing her lips chastely to his.
He jumped slightly at the contact, but didn’t pull away, allowing her control. When she looked up at him again, he whispered hoarsely. “Is this pity?”
Blue eyes met hazel. “No. No, Mulder. This is seizing the moment.”
“Seizing - “ Her lips cut him off again and her arms, gently and tenderly went around him.
When he could speak again, he nuzzled her ear, then whispered, “Will you tell me, about you?”
“Yes, Mulder. I will.”
He was hurt, more than he’d been since she met him. But that little sentence she’d uttered was true. He did belong to her, she realized that now. She would help him every way she could. She loved him; it was time he knew it. He needed to know it now. He belonged to her.
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Mulder, Scully, the Lone Gunman and Skinner all belong to Chris Carter, 10-13 and Fox. No infringement intended.