He entered the small diner and took his regular seat. Not too busy tonight - good. He had something important to read. A waitress he hadn’t seen before approached him.
He looked up and smiled. Her answering smile was very nearly non-existent. In fact she looked more scared than anything else. “I’d like the cheeseburger, fries and an iced tea.”
She wrote it down, no abbreviations, nodded and moved away. He scoped her from his seat in the booth. Obviously new, she was tense, very nervous, but cute. She was too short for him and he’d never really been attracted to redheads. He dismissed her then, laying the file he’d purloined on the table.
He’d found it in the basement. It wasn’t that old, but unsolved and forgotten. He had no doubt that the agent taking the statement had had a good laugh when he had gotten away from the couple describing their abduction. At least he’d filed a report.
He was reading away when he glanced up and spotted the redhead, a pot of coffee in her hand, head back in his direction. Two booths up, a loud tourist busy complaining about something, rose without warning and slammed into her. The pot jostled but she did a good job - only a couple of drops landing on his sleeve. The man rounded on her, yelling at her as though she’d poured scalding coffee on his nuts. Her face grew redder than before as she stammered an apology, looking around to see how observed they were.
Mulder rose and approached them. “Back off, buddy. You’re the one that ran into her.” Mulder spoke quietly but with authority.
The tourist turned to continue his harangue, but had to look up and up. Mulder made sure he shifted his arm to expose his weapon discretely.
The man’s eyes popped and he backed down immediately. The waitress couldn’t see the gun from her angle.
“Yeah, yeah you’re right. It was my fault. I’m sorry; it’s just been a bad day.” He threw some bills on the table and motioned for his wife to hurry. They left the place quickly.
“Thank you.” She spoke softly, not meeting his eyes.
“He was out of line. Did you burn yourself?”
“Not much.” She hid her hand behind her. She turned at a sound he didn’t hear. “Your food is up.” She slipped away and after a moment he resumed his seat. She was so tiny.
He finished his meal as she worked and left her a larger than normal tip.
The next night he found himself there again. She looked up as he entered. He smiled a greeting and she returned a tentative smile of her own. He purposely chose one of her tables and she came over with an iced tea.
“You remembered.” He grinned. She blushed but nodded. “I’ll have another one of those famous cheeseburgers and fries.”
She opened her mouth, but then remained silent, recording his order. He noted there were some abbreviations this time.
He found himself watching her more than reading, though she only approached his table to bring him his food and more tea.
He took his time, but all too soon he was ready for his ticket. She returned to his side and started to rip the ticket from her pad when the door opened. She looked in that direction. He had noted she did that every time the door opened. This time her face went white and her hand gripped the pencil tight enough to break it.
He looked quickly to the door and saw a tall, older man with mostly gray hair take a seat near the front.
“Are you all right?” he asked softly.
She jerked, remembering he was sitting there. “Y-yes. I’m fine.”
She was relaxing now, but . . . “Are you sure? Dee - “
At that she stepped away from him, her eyes wide. “How did you - “
“Know your name? It’s on your nametag.”
She glanced down quickly and blushed. Instead of speaking she tore his ticket from her pad and left it on the table as she all but fled his side. He was stunned; she was definitely not ‘fine'.
He pulled out his wallet, but waited for her this time. Finally she realized he wasn’t leaving and reluctantly made her way back to his table. He handed her the money. She felt the card on the bottom. She pulled it out and looked at it. It was his business card.
Finally she looked up. “You’re with the FBI?”
“Your name is Fox?”
He gave her a rueful grin. “Most people call me Mulder. On the back of the card is my cell phone number. If you need anything, call me. I’m not coming on to you. If you need some help . . . “ He let it trail off, but watched as she tucked the card deep in her pocket.
“Thank you.” She met his eyes for the briefest moment. “I’ll get your change.”
“Keep it. I’ll see you tomorrow.”
She blinked at that, but made no comment, just watched him leave the diner.
She was watching for him the next night and her smile seemed a little brighter, more genuine. “Hi.”
He grinned, “Hi. Where am I sitting tonight?”
“I reserved your regular table.” His grin widened; she was almost teasing him.
“You got another of those delicious cheeseburgers back there with my name on it?”
She hesitated, “I can hear your arteries clogging from here.”
“Oh? Looking out for me, huh? What should I have?” He smiled easily.
“Well, for a change you could try a turkey on whole wheat and a side salad.”
He grimaced. “Rabbit food? You trying to kill me?”
“Hardly,” she responded.
“Well, okay, just this once. What dressing?”
“I’ll surprise you.” She walked away.
“You already have,” he said softly to himself.
The meal was pretty good, though he gave her some grief. He noted she still checked the door with each opening, but the people who entered were mostly couples and the tall gray haired man did not return.
When she stopped by to freshen his tea, she glanced at the table. “No file tonight?”
“Uh, no. I have to get to other things tonight, unfortunately.”
She nodded and started to turn away.
“Listen, I, uh, I have a case out of town. I’ll be leaving in the morning. I will have my cell phone and I’m serious about . . . “
She looked nervous again, almost to the point of the first night he’d seen her.
“Will you call me, if you need anything?”
“I’ll be fine, but thank you." She turned away. He wanted to stop her, turn her to look at him again. Somehow he felt he had let her down, which made no sense. He didn't even know her last name, but she had come to rely on him in a small way. Reluctantly, he left the diner.
Mulder was exhausted, physically and emotionally. Bill Patterson was a class 'A' prick and working for the SOB made him furious most of the time. But their profile had worked. Correction; his profile had worked, but he'd only gotten grief from Patterson for the time it had taken. Hell, if he'd left it to the rest of the team they'd still be fumbling around in the dark. They hadn't seen the connections, were they just not looking?
He sank into a hard plastic chair in the airport terminal and tried to relax. His cell phone ringing startled him and he grabbed it from his pocket.
There was no response.
"Hello? This is Fox Mulder, is anyone there?"
There was, but they didn't speak. Then the line went dead.
For some reason the hairs stood up on the back of his neck. Something was off. Who would call him? Dee? He was surprised that her face came to him so quickly but it felt right. Was she in trouble? Had that man who had frightened her so returned?
He searched his memory for the number at the diner, but he'd never called there. Shit. He quickly dialed Danny. "I need a phone number, Dano. The Hudson Deli on Pennsylvania."
As always Danny was on the spot and had a number for him instantly, "202-555-5353. Anything wrong?"
"I hope not. Talk to you when I get back." He broke the connection quickly. He dialed the diner and listened to it ring. It took five rings before someone picked up.
“Hudson Diner.” It was a woman, but not the one he wanted to speak with. It sounded like the other waitress.
“Is Dee there?” There was a hesitation. “This is Agent Mulder. Is this Ruby?”
“Oh, yes. Dee was here, but she was upset. She left early.”
“Upset? Did she say anything?”
“No, that one keeps to herself.”
“Do you have another number for her, an address?”
“I’m sure Hudson does, but he’s gone to the bank. Could he call you?”
Mulder looked up at the announcement. “They’re calling my flight now. I’ll call back. Tell Hudson what I need, please.”
“Sure. I hope you can help that poor little thing.”
Mulder broke the connection after quick goodbyes and took his place in line. His unease did not abate.
He tapped on the door. There was no answer. “Dee? Dee are you in there? It’s Fox Mulder. Are you okay?”
She opened the door cautiously. When she saw it was him and that he was alone, she lifted a trembling hand to her mouth. He saw the tears glistening in her eyes.
“Dee, what is it? What happened?”
She opened the door then and allowed him inside. She shut the door behind him, locking, bolting and chaining the door. He observed this, watching her as she moved away from the door, but also keeping her distance from him.
“I’ll be right back.” She stepped into the small bathroom and shut the door.
He looked around the small place. It was one room, barely a studio apartment. The place was furnished and from the looks of it, had been used hard for a long time. There were no personal items in sight.
The phone rang and the door to the bathroom flew open. She’d washed her face, but the terror in her eyes as she stared at the phone wasn’t something easily hidden. She made no attempt to answer the phone. After eleven rings, it went silent.
“Who’s stalking you, Dee?” he asked softly and she finally looked at him.
“How did he find me? What am I supposed to do?” The quaver in her voice drew him. He stepped closer to her, carefully, and let his hand lightly touch her shoulder. She didn’t draw away. Tears formed in her eyes again and he let his arms go around her.
After only a tiny hesitation, she allowed him to hold her. In seconds she was sobbing in his arms. They stood that way for several long moments. She started to relax, her sobs diminishing to hiccups, when the phone rang again. She nearly jumped out of his arms.
"Shhh. It's okay." He seated her on the worn sofa and moved in the direction of the phone.
He winked at her, then picked up the receiver. "Hello?"
A man's voice, slightly flustered said, "Sorry, wrong number," and was gone. Then Mulder casually leaned over and unplugged the phone from the wall.
He returned to the sofa then and took a seat beside her, not too close, but near enough to take her hand. "Can you trust me?"
She met his eyes and the fear was plain. "I . . . "
"I want to help you."
Miserably, she looked away.
“Please.” He touched her chin, turning her towards him. “Is it that man who came to the diner?”
“No.” She shook her head, pulling back from him. “I thought . . . he looked like him.”
“Is it your father?” he asked gently.
For the first time a quirk of a smile touched her lips. “No.” A horn blared in the street and she jumped violently.
“Does he know where you live?”
“I don’t know. He got my number.”
“Let’s get out of here.”
“I don’t have anywhere else to go.” She sounded defeated and weary beyond her years. “And no money to get there.”
“Come with me. Come on, pack a few things. I’m not going to let him hurt you.” When she didn’t move, he took her hand. “Let me help you.”
She searched his eyes and seemed to see something that relaxed her. She nodded slightly and rose from the sofa.
When she was through packing, he took her suitcase and led her to his car. He noted that there was nothing left in the apartment that could be traced to her. He placed the suitcase in the trunk next to his own, and opened the passenger-side door for her.
She was quiet, so he gave her the space she obviously needed. She did look around at his route, but it wasn’t until he parked in front of his building that she looked over at him. “Where are we?”
“My apartment. It’s a mess,” he grinned, “but no one will find you here.”
She didn’t comment, just let herself out of the car. She took her suitcase from him despite his protest and he led her into the building carrying his own. He had her precede him into the apartment and he looked around ruefully. “Told you it was a mess.”
She glanced up at him, a small smile on her face. His smile grew. “Come on, let’s put your stuff in the bedroom. The bathroom is over there.”
“There’s, there’s only one bedroom.”
He nodded. “No problem, I usually sleep out here. I need to change the sheets. Why don’t you get settled.”
“I’ll help you.”
They were quiet around each other, but she seemed to be less nervous when she rejoined him in the living room.
“I was going to order in some dinner. Do you have a preference?”
“I . . . no, anything. Mr. Mulder, I don’t have much - “
“Don’t worry about the money. I have to eat anyway.”
“I won’t be here long. I don’t want to - “
“Let’s not worry about that right now.” He handed her several take out menus and let her make her choice, then placed the order. She was looking around the room when he finished. He had straightened up while she was unpacking. There was room to sit on the couch and the coffee table had been cleared off.
“I need to make some tea, or would you prefer a beer?”
“Uh, tea would be fine. Can I help?”
“There’s not much to do. Why don’t you just relax, Dee.”
“Uh, Dee isn’t my . . . my name is Dana, Dana Scully.”
He nodded, “Thank you. How long has this guy been stalking you?”
She shuddered then and looked away.
“Listen, it’s okay. I shouldn’t push. I need to take a shower and change. Here’s my wallet. Just pay the guy when he gets here.” He removed his wallet from his inside jacket pocket and handed it to her.
She took it, but looked up at him. “You, you trust me with your wallet.”
He blinked at that. “Yeah. I do.” He gave her a grin and headed for the bathroom.
She watched him, not knowing what to say.
When he returned to the living room, he was wearing wash faded navy sweat pants and a gray t-shirt. He smiled to see her bringing his plate to the cleared off table. She motioned for him to sit and when he did, she positioned the plate in front of him.
“Where’s yours?” he asked. “You’re not supposed to serve me tonight. You’re my guest.”
She started to speak, then turned and got her own plate. “I made some tea.” She brought the pitcher with her to the table.
“I have a pitcher?” He grinned.
She looked down at the plate, but he could hear her soft laugh. He nodded to himself.
“Did . . . did your case go okay?” She watched in dismay as he straightened up, his face losing all trace of humor. “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have asked. It’s none of my - “
“Hey, it’s okay. I . . . it was tough.” He managed a smile. “Not good dinner conversation.”
She nodded but seemed leery of him now. He sighed, “Dana, I’m sorry. I’m a profiler. It’s my job to get inside the head of the bad guy and figure out who he is and what he’s going to do next. This guy is really nasty. He takes women, tortures them . . . you don’t need the details. I’ve been working the case for a while. They thought they had another one, but I believe it was a copy cat. There are a lot of sicko’s out there.”
“And you’re supposed to find them?”
He shrugged and gave a crooked smile. “I’m kinda good at it.”
“But . . . it must be hard.”
“Sometimes it’s harder getting away from it. Makes me glad you’re here.”
She blinked at that and blushed faintly. He turned back to his meal, giving her a little space.
The rest of the meal was quiet, but not uncomfortable. They cleaned up together and she actually seemed to be having a good time. They each took a glass of tea back to the living room and settled on the couch.
“You know, this is going to be a short conversation if you can’t talk about yourself and I can’t talk about my work,” he observed as she got comfortable against the arm of the couch, curling her legs underneath her as though making herself as small as possible.
“How, how did you know it was me that called you?” She asked in a small voice.
“It was a feeling, like you needed me.”
She just stared at him for a long moment. “I know I should tell you . . . I don’t want you to be involved. It could be dangerous.” She studied her hands.
“You think this guy is worse that what I do on a daily basis?” he asked gently.
She glanced up, then away. “You shouldn’t have to help me too.”
“If I get a choice, I’d much rather help you.”
She looked up then, her eyes big and wet. “I don’t want you to get hurt.”
Get hurt? What had happened? She was terrified of this guy. What the hell had he done? “I feel the same way about you. I really would like to listen, if you can talk about it. I might have some ideas to help.”
Again she stared at her hands. “I made a stupid choice. It’s all my fault.”
“I’m not sure I believe that. We’ve all made choices we wish we could change.”
She didn’t look at him, but she nodded. “I went to medical school at USC. I did my internship in San Diego and then was tapped for the residency program in Chicago. That’s where . . .”
He’d gone quiet, medical school? He realized she'd always seemed out of place at the diner, not quite fitting in. Now he could see why. He found himself reassessing the trauma she must have experienced to be where she was now.
“I finished my rotation in pediatrics, emergency medicine and pathology. Then I started cardiology.” She went quiet then.
After a long moment he touched her hand lightly, “Dana?”
She sighed and looked at his hand touching hers. She didn’t draw away. Finally she took a deep breath. “The head of the department took an . . . interest in me. I don’t know why.” She fell silent again.
“Dana, you’re a beautiful woman. To get where you’ve gotten, you’ve got to be intelligent too.” She said nothing. “What were you ranked in your class?”
“I . . . “
“I was first.”
“I thought so.” She looked up then, startled. “Smart is sexy,” he said simply.
Now it was his turn to look startled. “Of course you are. But that’s not the issue here. Tell me what happened.”
“He paid me attention. I was flattered. He’s an internationally renowned cardiologist. I know now how naïve I was, but I never dreamed . . . He was a married man. He has a daughter my age. But he, he became obsessed with me.”
“Did you report him?”
She nodded, “They didn’t believe me. The police didn’t . . . They thought I was . . . “
“Leading him on?”
She nodded miserably. “He started being wherever I was, the cafeteria, the break room, he even came in the women’s locker room once. He was quiet when others were around, not really talking to me, just making sure I knew he was there. I started making sure I wasn’t alone if I could help it. So he started calling my apartment at all hours. My roommate . . . “ She stopped then and dashed a tear away. He handed her a tissue from the box beside the couch.
“My roommate was furious about it. She finally lost it over the phone with him. She told him she was going to report him, go to the police and the newspaper.”
Dana took a shaky breath. “She was hit by a hit and run driver. She lived, but her injuries . . . She’s had two surgeries already. She’ll need a least two more. She can walk, a little.”
No wonder she was scared. “Was he charged?” he asked quietly.
She shook her head. “He was questioned. They said his alibi checked out.”
“But you didn’t believe it.”
“The calls continued, increased and I know someone was in my apartment at least twice. I called the police again, but when I told them who I was reporting, they laughed at me.”
His eyes narrowed, but he wasn’t really surprised. A young woman like her, against a prominent citizen . . . Things needed to change, but what was supposed to happen in the meantime?
“I changed the locks, I changed my phone number to unlisted. It didn’t help. I couldn’t sleep, I was . . . I was a wreck.”
“What made you leave?”
She shuddered then and he wanted to pull her to him and keep her safe. Inappropriate, she’d think he was some sort of pervert.
“I came home
and found a rose on my bed with a note, ‘You’re mine and you always will be.
Don’t forget it’.”
“I was terrified. My roommate was in the hospital. The police thought I was a troublemaker. My family was in California. They didn’t know what was going on. I . . . I thought I could handle it until . . . They don’t know where I am.”
“You didn’t call them.” It wasn’t a question, but it started the wheels spinning in his head. The bastard had been thorough. He handed her the glass of tea and she took it gratefully. The simple gesture seemed to center her again.
“I moved to another apartment, but he must have had me followed. He didn’t follow me. I made sure I came and went when he was in surgery or with a patient, but he found me in days. I came home and found the place ripped apart. There was a message on my machine, warning me not to try that again. That no matter where I went he’d find me because I belonged to him.”
Mulder’s hand touched hers again. She turned her hand to grip his.
“I left the next morning. I just drove. I didn't consciously come to DC. I have a brother in Cincinnati, but I didn't want him hurt, so I avoided there. I just ended up here, at the diner. I'd been there less than an hour when you walked in."
That startled him, he'd had no plans to go there that evening. He'd even driven past it, then turned around. He kept quiet, that might freak her out and he didn't want to do that.
“Is there a missing person report on you?”
She shrugged, “Probably. My parents . . . I’m sorry.” She turned away and wiped her eyes.
“Something else happened. Come on, Dana. Even running you would have called your family, reassured them.” She wouldn’t look up at him. “I’m not trying to interrogate you; believe me. I want to help and I need to know what sent you over the edge.”
He hadn’t thought she could look more frightened.
“I haven’t . . . there was something else, besides the rose.”
He tightened his grip of her hand. “You’re safe here.”
“There, there was a picture, one of those instant pictures on the bed with the rose. It . . . it was my little brother, Charlie, holding his new baby. Will is only a few months old. I had to leave, disappear. I couldn’t put them in danger.” She was shaking now and he pulled her to him.
They didn’t speak, he just sat letting his finger caress her hands until he felt her begin to relax.
She took a deep breath, "Now he's found me again. But how?" Her voice shook then and he decided to throw caution to the winds. Letting his arm go around her, he pulled her closer to him. She didn't resist, burying her face in his chest.
His hand rubbed her back, letting her cry. She needed the release.
When she started to pull back, he let her. “I’m sorry.” She wiped her eyes.
“Nothing to apologize for, Dana. Can you, you didn’t give me his name.”
She took a hiccupping breath. “Daniel, Dr. Daniel Waterston.” That seemed to drain the rest of her energy from her.
“You’ve been through the wringer. Why don’t you go get ready for bed? You’ll be safe here. There’s a lock on the bedroom door.”
She nodded, her breath hiccupping slightly. He rose and helped her to her feet. “There’re towels in the bathroom. If you need anything else, I either have it or can fake it, okay?”
She gave him the slightest of smiles. “Thank you,” she whispered, then looked down, away from his eyes. He stepped aside and she moved toward the bedroom.
He waited until she was in the bedroom, then got ready for bed himself. Not wanting to disturb her, he left the TV off and read for awhile until he got drowsy.
He’d been asleep a few hours when the nightmare came. He woke, breathing heavy, sweat slick on his chest. He glanced at the clock; better than most nights. He sat up and turned on the TV, the volume low.
He’d been watching less than half an hour when he heard her. He hesitated, then moved toward the door. Damn, she was moaning, crying. Should he go in? Hell, had she locked the door?
He tried the knob and opened the door quietly. She was fighting something.
“Dana? Dana, wake up.” She couldn’t hear him, deep inside the dream. He moved closer to the bed. He had to help her. “Dana.” Shit, she couldn’t hear him. He reached for her and touched her shoulder.
She shrieked, waking at his touch and scrambling away.
“Dana, Dana it’s Fox Mulder. It’s okay, you were dreaming. Can you hear me? It’s Mulder.”
Her breathing was ragged, but she seemed to recognize him now. She nodded shakily.
“I’m sorry. I didn’t want to frighten you, but . . .”
I’m . . . I’m okay.” She seemed to be calming down.
“I’ll get you some water.” He moved away from her, giving her space.
When he returned, he tapped on the door. “Come in.” He opened the door, extending the glass of water. She managed a shaky smile. “It’s okay, I won’t bite you.”
She sat up and pulled her robe to her from the foot of the bed and slipped it on. He handed her the water. “Do you think you can get back to sleep?”
She shook her head quickly. “I’m sorry I woke you.”
“You didn’t wake me. I was already awake; I had my own nightmare a little while ago.” He smiled ruefully.
She met his eyes then and saw that he was telling her the truth.
“I’m watching TV. If you’ve never seen Forbidden Planet, you haven’t lived.” He grinned.
“Forbidden Planet, huh?”
“You’re welcome to watch with me.” He held out a hand and after a moment she took it, rising from the bed.
She took the same end of the couch she’d had before and settled in, curling her legs under her, again making herself as small as possible. He leaned back, watching her and the TV. She was calming down and seemed to be enjoying the cheesy movie.
Before the movie ended, she had drifted off. He left her there, draping the afghan over her.
She woke to the smell of coffee a few hours later. She looked around and realized her host was in the shower. She’d slept. She’d actually fallen back to sleep after the nightmare. She rose, stretching, and poured herself a cup of coffee.
When he joined her, he was wearing a suit and tie. “Morning. How did you sleep?”
“Better than I’d hoped.” She gave him a slight smile and poured him a cup of coffee. “I’ll get ready. I don’t want to hold you up.”
“Hold me . . . wait, you don’t have to hurry. I thought you could hang out here, get some rest today. No one knows where you are, you could just relax, watch TV or something.”
“I missed work yesterday. I need to - “
“Dana, he got your number. I don’t think it’s a good idea to go back to the diner.”
“But I need the job.”
“Dana, you’re a doctor. You don’t need a job waiting tables in a diner. We’re going to get this straightened out. Just give me a little time - “
“No. He’ll hurt you. I just need to disappear again.”
He took hold of her shoulders then, forcing her to meet his eyes. “You do not need to disappear. You need to let me help you. It’s what I do. I’m a professional and I try to protect strangers day in and day out. Please let me protect someone I care about.”
She blinked at that. “You care . . . “
He stepped back then, realizing what he had said. “Look, I need you to trust me for a little while longer. Please, just hang out here. Let me do some investigating.”
She looked at him for a long moment, then finally nodded. “I can’t stay here long.”
“I’m not going to kick you out.”
She looked down then, studying her feet. “I know and I thank you. I do want to have my life back.”
“Good. Let the machine screen the calls today. You know how to reach me, any time.”
He stopped by the diner on the way home. Ruby approached him immediately. “Is she okay?”
Mulder moved her back, away from the door. “Yes, she’s okay. Has anyone been here, looking for her, asking about her?”
“Well, yes. A man came by. He didn’t seem to be looking for her especially; he just asked where the new little red-head was.”
“What did he look like?”
“Um, middle aged, balding. He’s eaten here a couple of times since she started.”
“Is that the first time he’s asked about her?”
“First time with me. I don’t even remember her waiting on him to be honest.”
“If he comes back, can you get a name for me? A license plate?”
“Is he the prick hurting Dee?”
“I don’t know, but I’d like to find out.”
Ruby looked up at him for a moment. “I’ve never seen you with anyone, Mulder. And I sure wouldn’t have picked Dee as your type, but you look after her, you hear?”
“I, uh, I will.”
She nodded. “Tell her I said hi when you see her.”
His apartment smelled good when he got home that evening. He stopped just inside the door and took a deep breath. He shut the door and glanced in the kitchen. “Dana?”
She came out of the bedroom and smiled at him.
“Did you go shopping?” he asked, puzzled.
“No, I haven’t left the apartment.”
He waved at the stove, “You twitched your nose?”
“No.” She grinned, “I found all of this stuff in your kitchen. I had to cut a little freezer burn off the chicken. You really should defrost more often.”
“It’s when you let the ice that’s built up in your freezer melt. You cook what’s in there or, in some cases, throw it away.”
“Oh, that kind of defrost.”
She laughed then. “Why don’t you go take a shower, change? Dinner will be ready soon.”
“Sounds like you’re waiting on me again.”
“Just welcoming you home.”
His smile faded as he met her eyes. “It, uh, it’s nice to be home.” He turned abruptly then and moved into the bedroom.
She just stood there, her cheeks burning.
He was effusive with his praise of her casserole. She finally threatened him with a glass of tea in the face to shut him up. They were laughing together as they cleaned up.
Settled for the evening, he looked over at her, curled into her regular place on the couch. The glint of gold caught his eye. He reached for it, but then stopped. “Sorry.”
“What?” She looked down and realized he was looking at the small golden cross around her neck. “This?” She touched it gently.
He nodded, “You always wear it.”
“Mom gave it to me years ago. She gave my sister one as well. You’re right, I never take it off. It’s . . . it’s a connection to home.”
“You could get in touch with them.”
“I will. I just want to make sure . . . Trying to get rid of me?” she asked lightly.
“No,” he answered immediately. “I’m working on this. I want you to try not to worry. Let me handle it.”
“I am,” she said softly, then took a deep breath. “So, what are we watching tonight?”
“Mulder.” He picked up the phone in his cubicle.
“It’s Ruby. Do you have a minute?”
“I sure do. Any news?”
“That guy was back. He was subtle, but he did ask about Dee again. Said his name was Randy but I didn’t believe him. He was driving an older Ford, Crown Vic, ’82 or ‘83 I think. He has Illinois plates.”
“Did you get a number?”
“Yeah, hold on.” He could hear paper rustling. “PKY 4133.”
“Ruby, you’re a doll. I’ll get back to you.”
“Just look after that little girl.”
“I promise. Talk to you later.” He broke the connection and had Danny on the phone in less than a minute. “Got a license plate for you.”
He had to knock on the door when he got home that evening. She opened the door a crack, then smiling, opened it fully. “Where have you been?” She was laughing now.
“The grocery store. I didn’t have a list, so no complaining.”
“Who me?” She took one of the bags and placed it on the counter to begin looking through it. “You know, I’m beginning to feel like a kept woman.”
“I don’t think I can afford a classy dame like you.” Without meaning to his finger traced the outline of her cheek. She looked down, but didn’t pull away. “Sorry, I . . . “
“So, since you’ve brought all this food here, I better figure out something to make with it.” The moment was broken and he realized he was grateful for her composure.
After dinner that night, they took their regular places on the couch. “I did learn something today.”
The smile on her face faded. “Is he here?”
“I don’t think so. But I believe you have been followed. A PI named Randy Summerlin has been by the diner three times asking about you. His car is registered in Illinois. Do you know the name?”
She shook her head.
“I’m thinking Daniel hired him. I have someone checking that out, but I don’t want to confront him yet. He doesn’t know about our connection and he does not know where you are. If you don’t mind, I’d like you to stay here until we have proof.”
“I owe you a lot.”
He smiled over at her, “I think we’re very nearly even.”
A note from Danny had him scrambling to his car shortly after arriving at his desk the next morning. When he arrived at her old apartment, the police were there. He flashed his badge and was directed to the lead officer.
“Could you bring me up to speed?” he asked the older cop.
“Don’t know for sure. Possibly a kidnapping, but we hadn’t called the Bureau.” He looked the younger agent up and down.
Mulder looked around the trashed apartment, ignoring the unasked question. “Looks like something happened.”
“Yeah,” the policeman looked down at his notes. “The super called us this morning when he saw the door open. He glanced inside, said he didn’t come in once he saw the place.”
“What about the tenant?”
“He realized he hadn’t seen her is several days. Name’s Dee Stevens.”
“Did anyone hear anything?”
“In this place? Yeah, right.” The cop smiled.
“You filing a missing person?” Mulder asked as he looked around.
The cop sighed. “Not sure. Ms. Stevens is an adult; no one seems to be missing her yet except the super. We can’t prove she didn’t wreck the place and then leave.”
“Doesn’t look like woman’s work here.”
“I agree, but . . . “
“Yeah, I know. Could I get a copy of whatever report you file?”
“Uh, sure.” He took the card Mulder held out. “Might be a couple of days.”
“Thanks.” Mulder looked around one more time, then left the apartment. As soon as he got to his desk, he was on the phone. He was smiling when he hung up. Taking an early lunch, he headed home.
He used his key to let himself in and called out to her as soon as he entered. The fear in her eyes was fading, but he noted the skillet in her hand. “Sorry. I should have called.”
“It’s your place.”
“But I didn’t mean to scare you.”
“Do you want some lunch?” She turned from him and moved to the refrigerator.
“Uh, thanks.” He moved into the kitchen with her.
After a moment she shut the refrigerator door and leaned against it. “What happened?”
Mulder sighed. “I think Daniel’s in town. Your apartment was ripped apart last night. No one saw anyone, but the super at your place finally noticed he hadn’t seen you.”
She’d gone pale at his first sentence. “I have to go.”
“You’re safe here, Dana. I’m going to find proof to put him at your place and tie that into the reports you tried to file. This is a good move. He’s beginning to show his true self. That can help you.”
She just looked up at him, her eyes flooded with tears.
“It’s going to be okay.”
She swallowed and took a steadying breath. It didn’t seem to help.
“Dana, I’m not going to let him hurt you. It’s one of the reasons I’ve asked you to stay here with me.”
“One of them?”
He blinked, had he said that out loud? “Uh, yeah.”
She just looked confused.
“I . . . shit. I’m enjoying your company. I don’t have a lot of people over here. This is my, my sanctuary. But it’s better with you here.”
He swallowed then, wishing for an escape. “It feels like coming home.”
“Be-because I’m here?”
“God, now I’m going to scare you off.”
She gave him a small smile then. “No, I don’t think so. I . . . I was worried about being in your way, taking too much of your space.”
She saw his whole body relax at that. “Not a problem. I know you don’t know a lot about me, and that’s admittedly to my advantage, but you’re not in the way.”
“What don’t I know about you?” But she didn’t look nervous.
“Oh no you don’t. Weren’t we going to have some lunch? I can make a great corned beef sandwich.” She looked skeptical. “I can. I don’t eat out every meal.”
“Now that sounded like a challenge. Sit there.” He pointed to the chair at his now clean table.
She meekly took the seat he indicated, but he saw that her eyes were lighter.
When he returned to work, he headed straight for Danny’s cubicle. “Anything?”
Danny looked up. “Hi. Yeah, just got a confirmation. Your doctor friend did go out of town unexpectedly. He decided at the last minute to attend a conference in LA.”
“Can you confirm he’s in LA?”
“Uh, I haven’t checked that. Mulder, I just got this other.”
“I know; sorry.”
“Is this a case?”
After a tiny pause, Mulder shook his head. “This one’s personal.”
Danny nodded then. He’d suspected as much. “I’ll get the info as fast as I can.”
“I know. Just give me a call.” He headed for his cubicle, an idea taking over. When he got there he called home. “It’s me,” he said when the machine picked up. “I have to make a stop on the way home, so I’m gonna be a little late. Didn’t want you to - “
She picked up. “Hi. Thanks for calling. I’ll wait before starting dinner.”
“You know you’re spoiling me,” he said with a grin. “I like it. I won’t be very late.”
“That’s okay. I’m sure you’re not used to checking in at a certain time.”
“It’s not been a problem. I won’t be late late.”
“See you then.” She hung up and he sat there looking at the receiver in his hand. Damn it, he was looking forward to getting home. He was actually getting used to her being there and, and enjoying it.
He knocked on the door and grinned at the blond man with the ponytail who opened it. “You’ve been avoiding us, Mulder. What’s happening?”
“Langly,” they slapped hands. “Been working on something personal.”
“Cool.” A short older man, scruffy looking with a three day beard looked up. “What?”
A third man joined them. This one looked out of place in his coat and tie, but he smiled at Mulder. “Good to see you again.”
“Thanks. Sorry it’s been a while, but I was wondering if you could help me out on something.”
“Sure,” the short one answered, rising from his chair in front of the computer. His eyes were gleaming at the prospects.
“I need some hacking, some information that I can’t get . . . legally.”
“Cool!” Langly headed toward a second computer. “What?”
Mulder took a deep breath, “I need the whereabouts of a Dr. Daniel Waterston. He’s - “
“The cardiologist?” the short one said.
“Yeah, what do you know about him?”
“He’s supposed to be pretty good; one of the first to do a heart transplant in the US. He had an article in JAMA a few months ago.”
“You read JAMA, Frohike?” Mulder said incredulously.
“Gotta check for inaccuracies, man. Is he missing? Kidnapped?”
“Uh, no. I think he’s . . . “
“Mulder, you don’t have to tell us,” the one in the suit spoke up. The other two glared at him.
“No, Byers, it’s okay. I think he’s been stalking one of his female residents. The story is that he’s in LA at a conference, but I think he’s here in town. I need to know and I need whatever background you can dig up.”
“We’re on it.” Langly and Frohike spoke together.
Mulder rolled his eyes. “Can you keep those two on this planet?”
Byers smiled, “I’ll try. How soon do you need this?”
“Oh, yesterday would be good.” Mulder grinned at them. “As soon as possible. I need to get going.”
“We’ve ordered a pizza. Want to stay?”
“Thanks, no. I need to check on another avenue on this. Call me.”
Frohike barely acknowledged that, already engrossed in their work. Mulder
hurried to his car, anxious now to get home.
“Honey, I’m home,” he called when he let himself in the apartment.
She looked up as he entered the kitchen and mock glared at him. “I wasn’t expecting you yet.”
He moved closer, sniffing her hair. She didn’t pull back, though he had never stood quite so close to her before. It felt good.
She gave herself a mental shake as that thought settled in her mind. He had no interest in her. He was the consummate good Samaritan. She had no reason to think any different and wasn’t in a position to handle feeling like that in any case.
He stepped back from her when he realized how close he was. “Sorry, I’m not . . . “
“Please, Mulder. I’m not afraid of you.”
He smiled his relief. “I’ll go take a quick shower.” She nodded and turned back to the stove. “A cold one,” he murmured. He didn’t realize she had heard him or see her head jerk up, her face flaming.
When she heard the door to the bathroom close, she sank against the counter. He was interested in her, that way? No. He was an incredibly sexy man, the best looking man she’d spent any time with. It was intimidating, but since she’d had no illusions that he would ever look at her that way, she’d managed.
No, he was just teasing. Get a grip, Dana. But it was a nice fantasy.
His cell phone rang just as he pulled into the parking garage. “Mulder.”
“We got a name. He is in town.”
“Ever thought of starting with ‘hello’?” Mulder grinned.
“Not when you want the info yesterday,” Frohike shot back. “Where are you?”
“Just pulling into work. I’m in the garage. What’s the name?”
“As in ‘the great’.” Mulder pulled into a slot and shut off the car.
“Yep,” Frohike agreed.
“Do you know where he’s staying?”
“He’s playing that low key. Took us a while, but someone using the same name is checked into the Red Roof Inn closest to her place; coincidently the same place as a Randy Summerlin, PI from Illinois.
“Small world, ain’t it?”
“Ain’t it though. What ya need now, Mulder?”
“If you can get a photo of him, with or without his friend Randy, that might come in handy later.”
“We’re on it. Take care.”
“You too. Remember, you’re not licensed.”
“Tourists don’t have to be.” Frohike broke the connection and Mulder just shook his head and exited the car.
When he got home that night, she again had dinner ready, but he could see that cabin fever was beginning to set in. When they had finished eating and she started to rise, he reached out for her hand. She jumped slightly and began to apologize.
“Don’t. I trust you. I’m just getting a little antsy.”
“Then let’s go have some dessert.”
“Leave?” He could see her fear war with her desire to step outside. Her grip tightened on his hand. “Together, right?”
“Right. There’s a little ice cream shop just a couple of blocks away. There’ll be a crowd too, so no one’s going to notice us.”
She smiled a little at that. No one might notice her, but every breathing female was going to scope him out. That was okay, it would keep her anonymous.
“Does that mean yes?” he asked, enjoying her smile and pleased he could cause such an expression.
“Good. You look like a chocolate kind of woman.” He stood and held her chair, then led her out locking the apartment behind them.
There was a crowd, but they were in no hurry. He laughed out loud, causing a blush when she gave him her order – death by chocolate, double scoop. His delight watching her eat it was better than his own cone of mint chocolate chip. Walking back, she slipped her hand in his and he squeezed it lightly, enjoying the feel, the trust she was showing him.
He stopped just outside the apartment. What a relief to get away from Patterson. And coming home to Dana was no hardship. The bad part had been being away for most of the week.
Hey, slow down boy. She needed a friend, not more problems. They hadn’t even kissed. Yet the thoughts of her here, in his apartment, had kept him on a more even keel than ever before on a case like this.
He slipped the key in the lock and let himself in. There was no wonderful aroma coming from the kitchen. She knew he was coming home this evening. The last time they had talked she’d seemed happy about that, almost . . . anxious to see him.
There was no answer. Had she gone out? No, she wouldn't do that. He looked around for a note.
There wasn’t one, and she wasn’t there. His fear level had risen, she didn’t go out. Only that one time since she’d come here. The place was immaculate, but her things, her clothing were missing.
What the hell had happened? Had she decided that he was taking too long to help her? Had he freaked her out with his innuendos? She had been fine when they had talked, he would have picked up any tension in her voice. He knew her that well.
He sank onto the side of the bed. What the hell had happened? He pulled her pillow from the bedspread and held it to his face. Her scent permeated it. Damn it, why had she left him? He could feel fear growing inside him. Would she leave, leave on her own?
Is that why there was no note? She’d said nothing, so what the hell - He threw the pillow back down on the bed. Something caught his eye and he grabbed it back up. There, under the pillow, nearly hidden by the sheet was her necklace, her gold cross. He picked it up. The chain was broken, not unclasped.
With adrenaline dumping into his system, he realized she had done this on purpose. She’d left him the only clue she could; one that wouldn’t be noticed.
Daniel had her.
He grabbed his phone, but then stopped. No, he couldn’t do this over the phone. He headed for his car.
The short one, Frohike, opened the door for him this time and he rushed inside, closing the door behind him.
“Whoa, man. What’re you on?”
“Waterston - do you know where he is now?”
Langly looked up from the computer. “He flew home a couple of days ago, while you were out of town. At least the guy using his alias did.”
“When? What flight?” He moved over to the computer to look over Langly’s shoulder.
Langly was already typing rapidly. A list appeared quickly. “Remind me not to ask how you do that,” Mulder muttered as he scanned the list. He spotted Alexander immediately.
“Was he on the flight? Was he alone?”
Byers put his hand on Mulder’s shoulder. “Who is she, Mulder?”
Mulder met the man’s eyes, “Dana Scully. She’s the resident he was stalking.”
“She filed a report against him, but it went no where,” Langly offered.
“I know. She ran; that’s when I met her. She’s been staying at my place.”
“You involved?” Frohike asked.
Mulder tried to glare at him, but failed. “She’s important.”
“Is this her?” Langly asked, pointing to his monitor. A very attractive, much happier looking Dana was on the screen. “It’s her student ID.”
“Yeah. Can you print that?”
“Mulder, there wasn’t anyone booked with him. The woman in the next seat was a Dee Stevens.”
Mulder paled and sank down to sit on the desk. He had her. “I promised . . . where would he take her?” He was talking to himself now and they kept quiet.
He had made it to Chicago a few hours later. That late at night the flights usually had some room. He had already driven by the house. It was large, two stories, three car garage. The foyer was two stories as well with a large chandelier in the upper window. Neighbors were fairly close on both sides, though bushes and trees delineated the yards.
It was late; there were no lights on, and the garage was closed. Damn! He’d have to wait until morning. He had no legal right to burst in and it would definitely make things worse, but she’d already been gone for three days.
He had said he would protect her. He closed his eyes for a moment, then eased the rental car down the street and away.
He squared his shoulders. He couldn’t see any sign of life around the place. He’d expected Waterston to be at work, but where were his wife and daughter? He pulled into the driveway and casually walked up to the front door and rang the bell. There was no response. He waited a moment, then rang again. Still nothing.
He moved to look through the windows bracketing the door, but saw no movement.
“May I help you?”
A woman’s voice sounded from the yard on the right. She had stepped outside with a small dog on a leash and was obviously getting ready to walk him. She was wearing a uniform and apron. He had the impression that the dog was getting a bonus walk in order to check on him.
He turned to her and gave her his most charming smile. He watched her relax slightly and scope him out.
“I hope so. I’m supposed to pick up Maggie Waterston. No one seems to be home. Do you think she stood me up?” He left the porch to move closer to the middle aged woman and her eyes raked him again.
“She’s not home.”
He glanced down at his watch. “I guess I’ll have to wait.”
“No, I mean, she’s out of town.”
“Out of town?”
“It was kind of sudden.”
He took a few steps toward her. “Sudden? I hope nothing was wrong.”
“I, uh I really don’t know. I mean the doctor called from out of town and told them they needed to get to the house in France.”
The woman smiled then, “Yes. You didn’t know they had a home there?”
“I knew, but I didn’t realize Maggie was going.”
“If it makes you feel any better, I don’t think she did either.” The woman chuckled slightly.
“Well, I don’t suppose you know when they’re expected back?”
“Probably not right away. They took Edna with them.”
“Edna? Isn’t she the lady who helps out . . . “ He was winging it now, but she seemed to be opening up.
“Yes, Edna is the housekeeper. It was a mad house trying to get everything packed and ready. I came over and helped, but he was still angry that they hadn’t left when he got home.”
“Wow, I guess they are planning to be gone awhile. Talk about being stood up.”
“I’m sure she just didn’t have enough time to make all of the calls she should have. I hope you won’t hold it against her. We’d love to see Maggie involved with a nice man and maybe get . . . ”
Mulder smiled his most enticing smile. “Get what?”
“Come on, I’m trying to get to know her and I keep hitting roadblocks. Anything you tell me would help.”
The woman looked around, to see if they were observed, then sighed. “She needs to get out from under his thumb. It’s too late for the wife, but poor Maggie needs a life of her own.”
“He calls from some airport and orders them to fly to Europe on a moment’s notice. Why he couldn’t handle whatever was wrong or hire someone I don’t understand, but no, he orders them over to take care of things.”
“So Maggie, Mrs. Waterston and Edna had to just take off.”
She nodded. “He was furious when he realized they hadn’t left before he got home, but he only gave them a few hours. That’s why I went over to help.” She shook her head. “Please, don’t let him chase you away. Maggie’s a sweetheart and she deserves a little happiness.”
Mulder nodded, “I’m not easily intimidated. Don’t you worry. Well, I appreciate your help. I guess I’ll have to try again when she gets back.” He headed back to his car. He waved before he got in and drove off. She returned the wave.
He pulled away and turned the corner. He turned back into the next block and parked directly behind the house. He made a quick check around the neighborhood, then slipped between the houses and took in the backyard of Dr. Waterston’s house. There was a short fence and the yard was immaculately groomed. He wondered if anyone ever actually used the deck or yard.
They had flown in and he had rushed his family out of town. Where had he stuck Dana while he was getting rid of his wife and daughter? The guys had been unable to turn up a bachelor apartment. In any case he felt like she was here, close to him even now.
He wanted to break in, but there was too much chance of exposure and if he had to search, he didn’t want to be interrupted. He hurried back to his car and pulled away.
His sense of urgency was growing. Three days, and two of those alone wherever he had her. He needed to know the good doctor’s location. Spotting a convenience store, he pulled in and parked at the battered pay phone. He didn’t care if the phone worked, he needed the phone book.
Fortunately the doctor’s section of the yellow pages was intact and he searched quickly for an office number. The woman that answered the phone was brisk and efficient. She had obviously dealt with drug representatives before.
“I’m sorry, we only see non-patients on Thursdays.”
“Hey, I understand, but I’m only in town for today. I don’t suppose you could slip me in between patients. Five minutes?” He was using his ‘Marty’ voice.
“I’m sorry,” now she really did sound like it, “but the doctor is in surgery and won’t be out until after office hours. Maybe next time you’re in town . . . “
“I’ll definitely try. Maybe we could have coffee afterwards.”
“We . . . we’ll see.”
He got off quickly. If the coast was clear, he needed to get back to the house now. No one was there, but he needed to make sure that the neighbor didn’t see him again. The deck was the obvious entry point. He again parked on the street behind the house and after watching for a few minutes, left the car and moved into the back yard.
He was in a suit and tie, he’d look more legitimate that way, but he couldn’t skulk in the bushes either. He just walked quickly to the deck and got out of sight of the other houses. He noted the alarm sticker on the back door. There was no way the doctor had forgotten to arm them today, but if he was in surgery at least he couldn’t take a call. They’d just send a cruiser.
He picked the lock with ease and opened the door slipping inside quickly, locking it behind him. If there was a timing device, he would have beaten that. He stood waiting for a siren, but no sound. Probably a silent alarm at the police department, whatever it was to his advantage right now not to have the neighbors racing over.
He made a quick tour of the downstairs, but felt himself being pulled up to the second floor. He climbed the steps quickly, if the police were on the way, he was going to have some explaining to do. All of the doors to the bedroom were open except one, the one at the end of the hall.
He made it in three steps and opened the door. This was obviously the master suite, a large room with a sitting area in the front. He turned toward the alcove that held the bed and the sight caused him to falter.
Dana was there, strapped down to the bed. Her arms were over her head and fastened to the headboard. Her feet were bound as well. She didn’t appear to be conscious. Her eyes were sunken in obvious dehydration and her breathing was shallow.
“Dana? Dana, can you hear me?” His hand caressed her cheek and her eyes flickered open. They widened at the sight of him. “I’m getting you out of here. Don’t worry.”
Her cracked lips seem to form his name. He loosened her hands and rubbed them lightly to restore circulation. The carafe of water on the bedside table drew his attention and he poured her a glass, then held her head as he allowed her a couple of sips. “Not too much. Just relax.”
Her eyes hadn’t left his face since she had opened them and without conscious thought, he leaned closer and kissed her lightly on the forehead. “It’s okay.” She had hold of his hand now with a weak grip.
“Let me untie your feet. Then I’m going to call an ambulance.”
“I’m, I’m okay,” she managed to get out.
“No, you’re not. You’ve got to be checked out.”
She looked as though she was going to protest, but then just sank back against the pillow, exhausted from just that small exchange.
He had his cell phone out and dialed 911. “This is Special Agent Fox Mulder. My badge number is JTT047101111. I need an ambulance and the police, now. I’m at 911 Tisbury Lane,” he barked into the phone. “Hurry.”
“We, uh, there’s already a patrol car in route.”
“Good. Get an ambulance here fast.”
He turned back to her. Her eyes were closed, but her breathing was steadier. Her wrists were bruised where she had been bound, and the flesh around her eyes was dark. He had to get her out of here.
“Help is on the way. Would you like some more water?”
She nodded, not able to speak. The look in his eyes was too much. She wanted to cry, but she didn’t think she could form a tear. He looked so guilty. She needed to tell him this wasn’t his fault, that thoughts of him had kept her going when she’d been locked in the trunk and left alone like this. She would tell him, later.
Right now, holding his hand, allowing herself to feel safe was enough.
“Police! Put your hands on your head.”
Mulder froze. He’d been so intent on her he hadn’t heard them enter. Obviously they had access. He carefully did as they bade and turned slowly to face them. “I’m armed,” he said calmly, indicating under his arm.
The police officer closest to him, tightened his grip on his gun and narrowed his eyes. He stepped forward cautiously. Mulder allowed him to remove the weapon and step back. “I’m Special Agent Fox Mulder. My ID is in my jacket pocket.”
The cop blinked then, and tucked Mulder’s gun into his waist at his back. He stepped forward again and pulled the wallet from the pocket. He stepped back and opened it, glancing down and back up.
“What’s going on?” Now he was looking at Dana.
“We need an ambulance.”
The second cop nodded. “It’s on the way.”
“Talk to me, Agent Mulder.”
“This is Dana Katherine Scully. Dr. Daniel Waterston kidnapped and assaulted her.”
“Dr. Waterston? Dr. Daniel Waterston?” The policeman who still held his gun gapped at him.
“Ms. Scully also attempted to file charges against Dr. Waterston.”
“I wouldn’t know about that,” said the cop, shaking his head.
“Officer Patterson?” Dana said weakly.
He looked over at her, really looking at her for the first time and his face flushed. Now it was Mulder’s eyes that narrowed.
“Do you know this officer, Dana?”
“He . . . “ she nodded.
“Just relax.” He gave her another small sip of water.
“Ambulance is here,” the second officer said. “Up here,” he called down the stairs. Two EMT’s appeared at the door, carrying their cases.
One moved immediately to Dana’s side, the other turned to the men in the room. “Can you tell us what’s going on?”
“Ms. Scully was kidnapped three days ago. I believe she’s been held without food or water since then.”
The EMT nodded and moved to join his partner. They shared her vital signs and got on their phone. Quickly an IV was inserted into her vein and fluids were flowing into her.
Mulder moved closer to the bed. “Is she okay?”
“We need to transport.”
Mulder’s chest tightened. “But she is okay?”
“It’s good you found her when you did. If you could step back . . .” Mulder did automatically but his eyes were locked on her now. Before they could slip the board under her, he saw her eyes roll back in her head.
“Dana!” Her body began jerking and the EMT’s jumped to aid her.
“You, hold her arm. Protect that IV.” The first EMT was working over her, while the second was on the phone. He barked out an order and an injection was added to her IV. Also immediately her muscles relaxed and she sank into oblivion.
“We gotta move.” Without wasting any more time, she was placed on the gurney and strapped down. They were already moving toward the stairs.
“Where are you taking her?”
“Mercy. It’s closest.” They didn’t stop. He started after them, but Officer Patterson stopped him.
“We need some more information.”
He glanced at the retreating EMTs, torn, but there was nothing he could do for her now. He needed to make sure the good doctor was nailed. He closed his eyes and took a deep breath. “We need to make this fast.”
He approached the desk at the ICU and the nurse looked up. “Dana Scully?”
“I’m sorry, you are?”
He pulled out his ID, “Fox Mulder. Can you tell me how she’s doing?”
The nurse took a long look at the identification. “She’s in critical condition, unconscious.”
“She was awake, I was talking to her.” He looked like he’d been punched in the gut. “Can I see her?”
The nurse glanced at the clock. “In ten minutes for just a couple of minutes. You can wait right over there.”
He hesitated, but finally turned and made his way to the small waiting room. He hated waiting, he always had, but this time . . . He didn’t even know how to reach her family and reassure them.
It was a long ten minutes, and he was on his feet immediately when the nurse stepped into the waiting area. “Is there any change?”
“Not yet. Please follow me.”
He stood over her bedside for a moment. She looked so pale and frail. She had trusted him and he had let her down. He had promised her that she would be safe at his place. How had Daniel found her? They had to have trailed him, from her apartment following the break in. And he hadn’t caught it. He had just led them to her. How stupid could he be?
He took her hand and sat heavily in the seat beside her. “Dana, I’m sorry. I know I let you down and I’m so sorry.”
There was no response, so he sat quietly by the bed, massaging her hand. In just a couple of minutes the same nurse and a doctor appeared at her bed. He looked up. Were they going to throw him out already?
“Did you do anything?”
“What? No, I just talked to her. Why?”
“Her vitals stabilized. We’re monitoring her from the desk.”
“That, that’s good, right?”
“It’s excellent. We need to examine her. If you could step outside, we’ll let you -“ the alarms cut the doctor off at that point.
“Dana!” Mulder grabbed her hand back and within seconds the alarms were silent again.
The doctor and nurse exchanged glances. “Mr., uh Mr. Mulder could you stay here for a little while?”
“Yeah. No problem.” He was watching her again and didn’t see the two of them leave.
After a short while, Mulder glanced down at his watch. He was well over his allotted time, but he wasn’t complaining. When he looked back up, her eyes were open and looking around. When she spotted him she seemed to relax.
“Dana? It’s me, can you hear me?”
“Mu-Mulder? You, you found me.” She realized he was holding her hand and squeezed his lightly.
“Dana, I’m sorry. I didn’t - “
“You found me,” she repeated. “Where is he?”
“In jail. They were waiting for him when he came out of surgery. I wasn’t there, but I don’t imagine they were especially gentle, especially since I threatened a lawsuit for their inaction on your earlier reports.”
A slight smile appeared on her face. “You take very good care of me.”
His face fell then, “I told you I’d keep you safe.”
“I’m safe now thanks to you.”
He shook his head, but didn’t respond. Instead he played with her hand. Before he could figure out how to respond, they were surrounded by medical personnel. He was courteously but firmly moved aside with a promise that he could return soon.
A nurse approached him in the waiting room, where he was pacing. She handed him a piece of paper. “She would like for you to call her parents, and let them know where she is.”
He took the paper, nodding. When he was alone, he pulled his cell phone from his pocket.
Two months later -
He heard the knock on his door and looked in that direction. He wasn’t expecting anyone and he hadn’t ordered any food. Who would be coming here?
He wearily rose from the couch, brushing his hair back. He wasn’t in the mood for company, even the guys. This last case had taken a lot out of him and it was taking a while to get back.
The knock sounded again. “Coming,” he called and pulled the door opened, his annoyance showing. He was stunned to immobility at the sight of her. He didn’t even realize he had reached for her until he saw his hand on her arm. “Dana?”
“Hi.” She smiled up at him. “May I come in?”
“Wha . . . of course!” He stepped back. He still couldn’t seem to think of what to say, which question to ask first.
She had stopped and was looking around the room. It was in much the same state it had been the first time she’d seen it and his face flushed at that. She had kept the place clean and warm and inviting. It was back to being one step above a cave, maybe a frat house.
She looked up at him, eyebrow raised.
“Good help’s hard to find,” he muttered and began picking up the detritus around the couch. He motioned for her to take a seat. “Would you like some tea or a beer?”
“Tea would be fine,” she answered with a smile. He stood there for several seconds, just looking at her until he noticed she was blushing. He turned away then without a word and headed for the kitchen.
She looked healthy. All of the bruising was gone from her face. Well of course it was; it had been months since he’d seen her. He really hadn’t expected to ever see her again. He had let her down, allowed that sick son of bitch to find and take her, torture her. But she was here, sitting in his living room, and smiling at him.
He realized his hands were shaking and set the tea glasses back on the counter for a moment. He took a deep breath and centered himself. It didn’t look like she had come to rip him apart, no matter that he deserved it. He picked the tea up again and returned to the living room.
She was in her spot, her legs curled under her like normal and he drank in the sight. She took a sip of the sweet tea and smiled at some memory.
“You, you look great.”
“Thank you. I feel great. I, I suppose you know that Daniel is in prison.”
He nodded, “He took a plea bargain. I wondered about that.”
“They found evidence to tie him to the hit and run.” She looked down at the glass. “I suspect that you had something to do with that.”
He gave a slight shrug and his lip quirked just a bit.
“There were also a couple of other women who came out of the woodwork when they realized they weren’t alone. No one else had quite the story I did . . . “ her face darkened for a moment and his hand reached out to her involuntarily. To his delighted surprise, she took it.
“With the plea bargain he got seventeen years. Maybe not life, but at his age . . . “ she shrugged.
He nodded. He was aware of these facts. Now he wanted, needed, to hear about her. She seemed to understand. “I’m starting my residency rotations again. Chicago worked with me, fear of being sued no doubt, but they wanted me to return with no break in service.”
“So you’ll be finishing up in Chicago?” He hoped his voice didn’t sound as bleak as he felt.
She shook her head, “No. I didn’t want to go back. There were too many bad memories and I’m sure the rumor mill is still going even now. I kind of forced them to get me into another program. But I did decide on my specialty.”
“You did? You haven’t gone through all of them.”
“No, but it feels right. When I’m through I’m planning to go into Pathology. The police need the help and I can give it to them. Without evidence staring them in the face . . . sorry, you’re law enforcement too.”
“No offense taken. You’re right; the forensics can make or break a case. Someone like you would make all the difference.”
She smiled her thanks.
“You, uh, you didn’t tell me where you’re going to be.” He was envisioning Southern California. North Carolina wouldn’t be too bad if she returned to Duke, that is, if she wanted to stay in contact. He was so far inside his head he didn’t realize she had answered him. “Wait, what did you say?”
“Georgetown, Mulder. I’ll be kind of across town.”
“Here? You’re going to be here?”
“Yes, if you don’t mind sharing your city. I’ve found a small apartment and I should be able to move in tomorrow.”
“Share the city? I’m still up for sharing the apartment.” He didn’t miss the pleased blush that caused.
“Are you sure, Mulder? You’ve only know brow-beaten, defeated Dana. You might not like me now.” She said it lightly, but he could recognize fear in her voice.
“I don’t know, strong assertive Dana looks pretty good to me.” She was looking up at him. When had he moved so close, looming over her? And were her eyes focused on his lips suddenly? He leaned even closer, meeting her lips with his.
Forever later he leaned back slightly, his arms still holding her. “Ye-yeah, I think this Dana and I might get along very well.” Her look of joy took his breath away, or maybe it was her lips.