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.”
Langly and 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.
“I’m sorry. 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, he took her hand in his and 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 all those hours 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. Almost 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 or when they went for ice cream. 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 lips 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. “Mulder, you need to know you gave me the strength to hang on.”
He blinked at that, his look puzzled.
“You believed me, about Daniel, when no one else did.” She smiled then, “He never expected me to fight back. And I knew you’d be looking for me.”
“You, you fought - “
“You didn’t see him?”
“No. I wasn’t part of the arresting party. I was, uh, with you.”
She nodded, sobering. “I remembered my forensics from pathology. I wanted to make sure there was . . . evidence, when they found my . . . “
His hand tightened on hers then, shaking his head. “Don’t think about that. Not now.” 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.
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Mulder, Scully, the Lone Gunman and Skinner all belong to Chris Carter, 10-13 and Fox. No infringement intended.