She stirred waking, aware instantly that she was being cradled against Mulder’s body. "Mulder?"
"Hi, you feeling better?"
"Hungry? You didn’t eat any lunch."
"No. Mulder you should be out there, following up on the Seagrams."
"I had a different priority." He still hadn’t released her.
"I know and I appreciate it, but you should go on now. Really."
"Well . . ." He slowly removed his hand from her middle to bring it around her, accidentally brushing her nipple. "Sorry."
"It’s . . . it’s okay." It wasn’t okay. Her nipple hardened into a little bud and moisture had pooled between her legs. Too many hormones coursing through her body. She needed him to leave.
He leaned over and kissed her forehead. She fisted her hands to keep them from going around his neck. She could feel the moisture grow at her center. He had to leave, she couldn’t stand it. "I’ll be back in an hour to check on you. You’re going to eat then."
She nodded, just leave now, please or she’d embarrass herself beyond belief. He was watching her, so she closed her eyes again. He’d see too much. And finally heard him leave the room. She took a deep breath. He’d done more for her than he knew, the warmth of his hand and body had been welcomed but his presence, his caring and concern through this whole thing had shown her more strongly than ever her place in his life.
She’d rest just a little longer then join him.
"Hey Laura, you awake?" He let himself back in the room. She wasn’t on the bed, maybe the bathroom. He tapped on the door. No answer. "Laura, you in there?" He pushed on the door, which opened easily. Strange, her stuff wasn’t on the counter.
"Mr. Petrie?" Maxine sounded a little breathless.
"Yes? Have you seen Laura?" She didn’t look at composed as she had earlier. "Is she okay?" He was suddenly anxious. She should be here, hell; he shouldn’t have left her.
"She was a little upset. The tests can do that to a woman. They’ve been through so much and now with the end in sight they can freak a little."
"Where’s Laura?" He’d advanced on her now and for the first time Maxine thought of him as a dangerous man. The doctor may have made a mistake here.
"She asked to leave. Of course we can’t hold a patient here against her will. She insisted we call her a cab. Her flight should already have taken off."
"Laura asked you to help her get out of here."
"That’s right Mr. Petrie. The hormones can cloud judgment, but after she calms down . . . "
Mulder didn’t bother to respond, striding to the closet. Her clothes were still there. He’d returned sooner than they had expected. They’d only had time to grab her cosmetics. She was in no shape to fight them off, but why? Obviously the cover wasn’t blown.
"I know you’re upset Mr. Petrie, but this kind of thing has happened before. In a few days she’ll calm down and . . . "
"Excuse me." He all but pushed her out the door, locking it behind her. The little suitcase was still where they’d left it. He pulled out his ID and gun. Her’s was still there so he tucked them into his pocket as well. He was going to need help. They couldn’t have taken her far. He stuffed the cell phone into another pocket and headed out.
Mike, Mike and Sandra. He’d have to trust them. He hurried to their room. When Mike opened the door Mulder immediately motioned him to be quiet. He leaned in and whispered. "I need your help. Please, come with me."
Mike looked puzzled but nodded, motioning for a very concerned Sandra to join them. Mulder led them outside past the pool and into an open area where, hopefully they could speak without being overheard.
"Is it Laura? Is she okay?" Sandra put a hand on his arm.
Mulder pulled out his ID. "Her name isn’t Laura. We’re here undercover to investigate the disappearance of several women from this facility. She’s my partner and now she’s missing."
"You two aren’t married? But the way . . . " Sandra shook her head.
"What do you mean missing?" Mike joined the conversation.
"I mean she’s been taken from our room. They didn’t have time to do as complete a job as they did with Gloria, but they told me the treatments had upset her and she decided to leave. There have been no treatments other than today. We’re not . . . she’s not trying to get pregnant. You’ve been here longer than we have. Is there any place off limits, always locked? I need to find her."
"Behind the labs." Sandra looked at Mike startled. "When I can’t be with you I have to do something. The rooms have no numbers, no windows, even in the doors."
"I’ll start there. Don’t call any attention to yourself. Keep your ears open."
"I can help you." Mulder nodded and pulled out his cell phone. A quick conversation with Skinner ensured backup would be onsite as soon as possible. Not that he was going to wait.
Scully was in bed when she heard the key in the lock. Surely Mulder wasn’t back, unless he’d forgotten something. Before she spoke she heard Maxine’s voice. "Shh. She is still asleep. Good, let’s get her out of here before he gets back. She should sleep for another hour or so. Get that gurney in here. I’ll get her things together. Move it."
Scully kept quiet, finally a chance to learn something. If they thought she was out of it that was to her advantage.
She was moved gently to a gurney and she heard Maxine put a bag under her on the gurney’s platform. "Don’t worry about her clothes. If there’s time we’ll get them later." She was wheeled away from the client’s rooms and into an area she had not seen previously. Keeping her eyes mostly closed was limiting but she was pretty sure she knew where she was in the building.
"This is the one." Maxine spoke to a woman out of Scully’s sight. "Dr. Asher nearly choked when he saw her. Our last bid is $50,000. You need to get an IV in her and dump the sedative. They want as many ova as possible, but there’s a time limit."
"She is attractive, I believe her hair is natural. Have you seen her husband? I bet they would’ve had gorgeous children themselves. Too bad we’re not harvesting sperm, I’d volunteer to ‘handle’ that assignment."
Maxine rolled her eyes. "Get that IV in, I’ll be right back."
The nurse pulled the surgical tray closer and turned to reach for the sterile gloves. Scully moved fast, snatching the syringe of sedative from the tray. As the woman turned back, Scully stabbed the needle into her and plunged. The woman staggered away from the bed and tried to reach the door, but went down like a rock. Scully eased herself from the gurney and tested her ability to walk. She wasn’t going to get far, not with the pain simply standing caused. Was Mulder even looking for her yet? Well, she had to at least hide. She knew what was going on here - black-market ova for sale to the highest bidder. That knowledge wouldn’t help her right now and she didn’t have much time.
She made it to the door and looked out. No one around, but she’d never make it back to the public areas. There seemed to be several surgical arenas around this central area, maybe they wouldn’t expect her to head there. It was the best she could do anyway. She had the door to an adjacent area closed before anyone returned and she looked around to see if she had a place to hide. On the surgical table behind her, she realized was a body. She forced herself to move in that direction. The woman on the table was beyond gaunt, but as Scully automatically reached to check for a pulse she moved. Scully looked more closely; oh shit this was Gloria Seagram. Barely alive, only one IV in her for hydration. She was definitely dying, probably beyond saving already. Were they just keeping her alive for the ova? Scully reached for the chart lying at the woman’s feet.
$35,000 was the latest bid, but according to this information they’d already made over $150,000 from previous harvests. She’d been a gorgeous woman, now she was a husk. What the hell kind of people would do a thing like this?
Noise. Someone had come into the prep room. Scully looked around. Not a lot of options. She ducked under the table hoping the surgical drape would hide her. Mulder, where are you?
He’d found the rooms Mike had mentioned. Locked of course, but there was something going on inside. Was that a crash? Someone would be coming; he had to get in. Oh hell, his foot connected with the door and slammed it open.
A woman on the floor, she had a pulse so he moved on. It wasn’t Scully anyway. He headed for the next room. Maxine burst into the room without warning. He had his gun out as she skidded to a halt in front of him. "Where is she?" His voice was low and menacing. No one seemed to be coming behind her so he whirled her around and cuffed her to the counter. "Where is she?"
"I don’t know. She was in number 3, but she knocked out Karen, she’s gone." Mulder’s eyes narrowed but she seemed to be telling the truth. He moved past her on to the next room still searching. Where was she?
When he entered room 6 he spotted the woman lying on the gurney. Dead? No, she had an IV in her. Was this what they’d planned for Scully? He had to find her. "Where the hell are you?"
"Mulder?" He whirled back. She was crawling out from under the woman’s gurney. He was beside her immediately lifting her to her feet. "It’s black-market. They’re harvesting ova to order. We’ve got to get her some help – " Scully doubled over as pain lanced through her again. He had her up in his arms now.
"I’ve got you. Don’t worry Scully, help is coming. It’s going to be okay." Blackness was creeping in around her eyes, but he was here now. "It’s okay Sweetheart."
Hospital. Mulder’s hand on hers. She opened her eyes. "Hi." He was bending over her.
"We got them. You were right, black-market. They’re tracing down the bids now."
He hesitated. "They don’t know yet if she’s going to live. What they did to her." He shook his head; "They drained the life out of her, literally and figuratively. The other two women are dead, Maxine admitted that. The bodies were buried on the grounds. They’re being exhumed as we speak. And the nurse you injected is in critical condition as well."
"What?" That would be the nurse that wanted to get her hands on Mulder. Her eyes narrowed automatically at that thought.
"That sedative was supposed to be diluted by the IV, you gave her a megadose." His smile looked feral; "She had it coming, don’t worry about it. Dr. Asher made it to the airport, but they got him there. They say you’re going to be fine." His hand tightened around hers as he saw her wince. "Scully? Do I need to call for the nurse?"
"No, I’m okay."
The smile left his face, "I should never have left you. I . . . "
"Mulder, don’t. We were here to work. If we’ve caught them then that’s what matters." He looked like he was going to protest that, but didn’t.
He studied her for a minute, then, "We need to talk about this."
To her surprise tears came to her eyes. Without comment he wiped them away. "Not now Mulder. Please. I’m too . . . hormonal. Later, okay?"
He gave a little nod, and she watched him mentally switch gears. "You’ve got to be hungry by now. Want me to get you anything?"
"Yeah, I think I could eat at little." She smiled up at him.
"Okay, don’t go anywhere this time. I’ll be right back."
"Thanks." She watched him head out the door and start to close it behind him, "Sweetheart." She whispered. Outside the door he smiled.