She didn’t have to wait long. A page summoned her back to the lab, where the senior supervisor, Dr. Symons, was waiting for her. “Dr. Scully, you requested a tox on a blood sample for a John Doe?”
“Yes, is there a problem?” Her heart was pounding, but she managed to look calm, nearly uninterested.
“I’ll say there is. Look at this.” He pulled a printed copy out and pointed to the computer screen. “I have never seen a blood chemistry like this one.” She moved closer, this wasn’t her field but if she had a little time to study . . . “I need to make some calls. Is the man still here?”
“I, I think so.” She looked up at him, caught off guard.
“Good. I’ll be right back.” He scurried out of the lab. She was moving before the door shut. She printed out a second copy of the computer screen and snatched the vial from the holder. She carefully peeled the label she had attached from it and switched it with another vial that was waiting, then pocketed his blood and the slide from the microscope and left the lab.
She was shaking as she slipped into a stall in the ladies room. What the hell was going on? She opened the vial and poured the blood down the toilet along with the slide and flushed both. Then she washed out the vial and wrapped it in paper towels to crush it beneath her heel. She flushed these pieces in a second stall and then washed her hands and attempted to regain her composure.
She needed to get back to the ER and put this out of her mind. Her hands found the printout in her pocket and she stopped, uncertain how to handle this. After a moment she folded the paper crookedly and began writing a grocery list on the outside. On the way back to the ER she stopped by her locker and stuffed the paper down in her purse.
What was making her so paranoid? Why was she instinctively protecting him like this? It didn’t matter, she was doing it and she would continue to do so.
A flurry of patients caused her mind to move on to other things and for the next forty-five minutes she handled patients and wrote orders.
She was startled when Dr. Symons appeared beside her. “Dr. Scully, is that patient still here?”
“Excuse me?” She knew what he wanted, but needed to collect her thoughts. The military flanking him were unnerving.
“The patient with the blood chemistry we spoke about - is he still here?”
“No, I’m sorry, I should have called you. It’s been a mad house down here. He was gone when I got back from the lab.”
The military type behind Dr. Symons moved to the front then. “Can you describe this man?” Dana looked up at the man, a full bird colonel, shit.
“Yes sir, white male, 65 or so, full beard mostly gray, thinning white hair, obviously homeless. He wasn’t as tall as you, I’d say 5’10” or so.”
The colonel seemed slightly taken aback at that. “65? Are you sure about the age?”
“Pretty sure, but with the homeless it’s always a little hard to tell. I couldn’t be off more than ten years either way. Is he in trouble?”
The colonel ignored her question, “Why did you decide to do the blood test?”
“Because of his actions. At first glance I thought he was intoxicated, but I couldn’t smell any alcohol on his breath. That made me wonder if he was on some sort of street drug that I wasn’t familiar with. And you have to wonder about alcohol poisoning in these cases as well.”
“How could he just walk out?” The colonel was holding onto his temper but barely.
“He wasn’t in restraints or under arrest. I left him lying on the gurney in trauma 3. I was surprised to find him gone when I returned, frankly I didn’t think he could walk.” Damn she was cool; no doubt she’d fall apart as soon as this was over.
Dr. Symons had blended into the background at this point, grateful to no longer be the focus of the colonel’s ire. The colonel turned to one of his aides and barked a few orders. Immediately something was placed in the colonel’s hands.
“Do you recognize any of these faces as the man that was here?” He spread three photographs on the nurses’ station for her to check. His picture was in the middle. Dana didn’t dare to look up, could she keep her shock from her face? She casually picked up the third picture to look at it more closely, ignoring the other two.
“All of these men are younger than the man I examined. Is he is some sort of trouble?”
“Just look at the pictures one more time.”
“I’m sorry.” She looked up into his face now. “Who are these men?”
“That’s classified.” Was his clipped answer.
“I see. Sorry, I can’t help you.” She started to turn away.
“Dr. Scully, if the man you examined or any of these men should return, I would appreciate a call.” He extended her his card, Colonel Baldwin.
“Of course. Do you have the names of these men?”
“That is also classified.”
“May we keep these pictures for other shifts?” She allowed a little exasperation to be heard in her voice now. He might be an important person, but he was behaving like an ass.
There was a slight hesitation on his part at this point. “I’ll have copies made for you.”
“Thank you, now if you will excuse me?” She turned to go back to her patient.
“Dr. Scully.” She stopped, had she made a slip? She turned and looked him straight in the eye but didn’t speak. “Did you see anyone in or near the lab while you were looking at the test results?”
She hesitated at that as though thinking. “Yes, as a matter of fact there was. After Dr. Symons left to make a phone call a man in a suit came into the lab. I assumed he was a salesman, he didn't speak. I left to return to the ER.”
“Um, thank you for your assistance.”
She nodded, glanced over at Dr. Symons and left the group of men standing in the way of patient care.
Once back in the alcove with her patient, she took a deep breath. The military were looking for him. Whatever this was had been done to him. He was in danger and she couldn’t reach him. Her purse! Would they go through her locker? She glanced over at the nurse who was finishing up with the patient, decided she wasn’t needed and exited the back way to check.
There was no one in the locker room. She opened her locker and took out her purse, then heard the door opening. It was one of the men with Colonel Baldwin.
He seemed surprised to see her, so she grabbed the advantage. “This is the women’s locker room, but since you’re here, do you have change for a $5?” She pulled out her wallet and made sure her purse was open for him to see.
“Uh, I think so.” He pulled out his own wallet and extracted five one-dollar bills and handed them to her. She continued to pull things out of her purse; there wasn’t much - a comb, a pen, a lipstick and the folded paper. She pulled that out and in large letters added to her grocery list, tampax and toilet tissue. She knew he watched her because of the expression on his face. Good, he’d know it was scrap paper now and maybe leave her alone.
She returned everything to her purse, placed it back in the locker, which was empty otherwise, twirled the dial and moved toward the door. “You better get out of here before anyone else comes in, you wouldn’t be welcome.” She grinned at him and he gave her a slight smile in return, but preceded her out the door.
She returned to the ER and wished her shift would hurry up and end. That was unusual for her; she loved her work, but today . . .
When the hours finally passed, she returned to the locker. She couldn’t spot anything that had been touched, why didn’t that reassure her?
Rather than head straight home she did stop by the market and made sure the list was easily visible in her hand, carefully purchasing each item and then some dinner from the deli to take home.
She still circled the block before heading home. If someone were following her, she couldn’t see them. She forced herself to walk inside carrying her groceries at a normal pace, but immediately bolted the door once inside, tossed the bag on the table and raced to the back door. She was praying he would be there waiting.
She didn’t see him when she opened the door, so she stepped outside. “Are you here?” She asked into the alley in a stage whisper.
“Sure am.” He seemed to materialize beside her. She grabbed his hand and pulled him inside, shutting and bolting that door as well. Before he could speak she threw her arms around him holding him close. His arms automatically closed around her as well and he held her silently until her trembling came under control.
When she finally pulled back from him he released her reluctantly. “What’s wrong?” He was searching her face, trying to read her eyes.
“This was done to you.” Her voice was just above a whisper. “They did something to you; your blood chemistry set off all the bells and whistles. The military showed up and were asking all kinds of questions. They had a picture of you - “
“Slow down. Get your breath.” He led her to the table and seated her, then took his own seat and kept a firm grasp on her hand.
She took a deep breath. “I took your blood to the lab first thing, along with several others. I didn’t want it singled out. Dr. Symons called me to the lab, and then he left to call someone, probably the CDC.” She related the rest of her story quickly, ending with; “Thank God you’re here. I was terrified for you and I didn’t know how to reach you!”
“The military.” She could see him thinking, but he didn’t look away from her. “You are in danger, I shouldn’t be here.” He rose from the table, but she refused to release his hand.
“You are not leaving. It’s safer for you here; you’re out of sight. No one knows you’re here.”
He shook his head; “This is too dangerous. I can’t let you get more involved than you already are.” He watched as she moved closer to him, not believing until her lips touched his that this was really happening.
The contact was electric and he pulled her even closer to him. When they finally broke apart, for breath only, he realized they had somehow gotten to the couch and his body lay atop hers. That realization jolted him and he pulled away. She reached for him, “Please.”
“Doc, I’m sorry. I . . . “
“Are you? Sorry? Because I’m not.” His eyes widened and he couldn’t think of anything to say. “I think we’d be more comfortable in the bed.”
“Doc, you don’t even know my name.”
“I know we belong together.” She looked away then, “You probably think I’m some kind of . . . I’ve never done anything like this before, but this is right.”
His lips moved but no sound emerged. Finally, he nodded slightly. Whoever this woman was, he belonged with her and she with him. Her smile warmed him to the core and he took her hand as she rose from the couch.
“Why don’t we start with a
shower?” He didn’t speak, not at all certain his voice would
work at this point, and followed her into the bathroom. She
started to undress herself, but his hands stopped her and took over the task
himself, slowly revealing the body he had visualized all day.
His imagination must be slipping, she was so much more than he had . . . his
hands cupped her breasts and he watched her eyelids drift down even as her hands
began her exploration of him.
Watching the water sluice from his body caused feelings to well up in her that she had avoided, ignored and tamped down for ages. His lips on her breasts drove her toward madness. He had her pressed up against the side of the shower, his lips burning brands into her throat and breasts. “Please.” It was a moan on her part.
“We don’t . . . I . . . my sexual history - god, stop, Doc . . . “ He was losing this battle to logic and good sense. And she wasn’t helping.
“Your blood test,” she spoke between kisses and bites, “there was nothing . . . Yes, there!” She moaned again and he gave in, he had to be with this woman. Whoever she was, whoever they were, this was right.
He lifted her slightly and poised to enter her. Their eyes met and locked, she gave the barest nod and let her eyes drift close as he thrust into her. She gasped at the size of him, it had been a long time since she had . . . he seemed to sense this and slowed his pace, giving her time to adjust to him and he to her. Tight, she was so damn tight and hot. He tightened his hold on her. She was incredible.
He needed her, he needed her now. Her legs were clasped around him pulling him deeper, taking in all of him, body and soul.
He was thrusting into her now and she was meeting him thrust for thrust. They were perfect together, each knowing instinctively what the other needed, wanted.
He couldn’t hold back much longer, she recognized that and gave herself over to him, her orgasm pushing him over the edge. He nearly lost his grip on her and his body reacted to hers with a release that overwhelmed anything he could imagine.
He lowered her to her feet and steadied himself against the side of the shower. She looked up at him, a smile tugging at the corners of her mouth. “Damn.” He was barely audible.
“We better get out of here before we drown.” He nodded, willing to follow her anywhere.
He was nearly steady on his feet as she toweled him dry, then he did the same for her. They stumbled to her bed and fell into it refusing to release the hold they had on each other. Oblivion overcame them as they lay in each other’s embrace.
He woke first and froze as he realized that she lay against him, sated and trusting. What was going to happen now? He couldn’t stay with her. The military were looking for him; he might be AWOL. He must be some sort of experiment, but could he leave her now?
Her hand on his face made him realize that she was awake as well and watching him. “It’s going to be okay. We’ll figure this out.” She smiled at him then and he relaxed slightly.
She leaned over him then and pulled the sheet from his body. She began an examination of his body; it certainly didn’t feel like a medical exam. Her lips and touch didn’t fit with that. She investigated his scars, trailing a light touch over them, medically noting them, but appreciating them with tongue and touch.
“You’ve lived a lot.”
“What?” He could barely speak with what she was doing.
“You’ve been shot twice.” She touched the two old wounds, “I think this is a knife wound.”
“I must not be a very popular guy.” That startled her and she looked up into his eyes. “You had to have thought of that.” She shook her head, it hadn’t occurred to her.
“We have to find out who you are.”
“You might not like who I am.” He was perfectly serious now, and more than a little frightened at the prospect.
She shook her head; it couldn’t happen. The fact that she hadn’t known him three days ago completely forgotten.
“I know some guys, they’re a little - no, they’re a lot weird - but they might be able to help us. They owe me a favor and I’m pretty sure they can find things out that most people couldn’t.”
“What are they? Mafia?”
She laughed then, “No, certified paranoids.”
He looked at her for a moment, was she serious? “How would you meet someone like that?”
“The ER has all types. For some reason they trusted me.”
The stab of jealousy that hit him startled him. That was insane; she’d had a life before him, a full life, family, friends . . . other men. “Do you . . . do you think they’d talk to me?”
“I think you’d fascinate them. Not as much as you fascinate me though.” She shifted, moving her thigh against him and taking his nipple into her mouth. Coherent thought seemed to desert him then and he flipped her to her back to investigate her as she had him.
They reached for each other over and over during the night and morning came all too quickly. She banned him from her shower that morning. “I have to get ready to go to work. If you’re in there I’ll never get out of the apartment. Besides, I can barely walk already. Go, make coffee.” She shuddered as his finger traced her nipple and moved away from him. She managed to turn away and forced herself into the bathroom. Memories of the last shower kept intruding but she managed to get dressed and join him in the kitchen.
“I have to go in there alone?” He eyed her and she blushed deeply. “Okay, but it won’t be nearly as much fun.” He walked past her and she forced herself to keep her hands off of him.
When he returned they sat down for breakfast. “I need to get you some more clothes.”
“No. And don’t expect to see me for a few days.”
“What? No, what are you talking about?”
“They may be watching you, we talked about this last night.”
“That’s not all we talked about last night. What about my friends helping you? You need to stay here, out of sight.”
“Not here. I can’t be connected to you. I’ll be back, when it’s safe.”
“And just how will you know when that is? No. We shouldn’t be separated.”
“Doc, I’m not going to put you in any more danger - “
“My parents are out of town. I’m looking after their house. You can hide there. I’ll leave for work like normal, then I’ll double back and pull into the alley.” Her brain was working frantically, making plans. “You can come out into the alley and get into the backseat. I’ll take you over there, like I’m checking the mail.”
He looked at her with more than a little amazement. “Have you ever done this kind of thing before?”
“No. But I have spent a little time with those paranoiacs. For some reason they came to mind when the military showed up in my ER.”
“Is there a computer at your parent’s home?”
“Yes. What are you thinking?”
“I don’t know, but I have to start somewhere. Are you sure about this?” A way to stay with her and maybe do some searching, he wanted it to work.
“Completely. You ready?” He nodded as he moved to wash his dishes and leave hers in the sink, to ensure anyone would realize only one person had inhabited the apartment. She took her bag and left the apartment, locking it behind her and speaking to a neighbor, as though everything were normal in her life. She didn’t look around as she got into her car, if anyone were looking, she didn’t want to look suspicious. She drove as she always did, but kept a much closer eye on traffic. Once again if she was followed, it wasn’t obvious. About half way to work, she pulled into a filling station and went inside to get a large cup of coffee and a danish. Still nothing, okay. When she pulled out she headed back to her apartment and pulled into the alley behind her place.
He had obviously been watching for her and was outside immediately, slipping into the backseat and settling himself on the floor of her car.
They didn’t speak as she pulled back out onto the road and turned toward her parent’s home. Once there she used the remote she had borrowed to pull her car into the garage and shut it behind her. They both entered the house, and she let herself out to check the mail and pick up the newspapers that lay at the front door. She didn’t open any of the curtains, just led him into her father’s study and booted up the computer.
“It’s a pretty good system. Dad enjoys his toys and now that he’s retired, he likes to keep in touch with his friends.”
“Retired from what?”
“Navy. He retired as a captain.”
“Military?” That caused him to look up at her. She just shrugged and he turned back to the computer.
“I need to get to work. I’ll contact my friends and see if they can meet me here when my shift is over. There’s plenty of food in the refrigerator, and feel free to raid Dad’s closet for clothes. They’ll be too big too, but you’re welcome to whatever he has.”
“Even his daughter?” She smiled and nodded at that. He rose then from the desk, “Go, you shouldn’t be late. Don’t want to draw any attention to yourself.” He walked her to the door to the garage and kissed her thoroughly before releasing her and stepping back to ensure he wasn’t seen.
It took all of her willpower to get into her car and actually leave. She made it to work on time.
She’d only seen one patient when Dr. Symons appeared in the ER and drew her aside. “Has he come back? Have you seen the man that we investigated yesterday?”
“Dr. Symons? Who? Oh, the man the troops were after? No, but I just got here. Did you check with the other shifts?”
“No. The colonel didn’t want us talking about it.”
“What is going on? Have you been able to make any sense of what you found?” Might as well try to get all the information she could to pass on to her friends.
“They took my computer! They took everything! We had to redraw blood from over twenty patients. I’ve been here all night. They’ve completely wrecked my department.” Dr. Symons sagged against the nurses’ station.
“So you don’t know what caused the abnormalities?”
“Not a clue and no chance to find out now - unless he shows back up.” He looked at her hopefully.
“I wouldn’t count on that. Hey, did they bring those pictures?”
“Uh, I don’t know.” He straightened up and started looking around the counter. She helped him and they finally asked the shift nurse, who discovered them under several charts. She felt a surge of adrenaline when she spotted his picture. Maybe they could get somewhere now.
“I have to go over to Memorial on my way home, why don’t I take these and have copies made. I can check and see if they’ve been seen while I’m there.” She slipped all three pictures in her pocket. “I’ll keep an eye open for all four men, Dr. Symons. If any of them show up I’ll call you first. I promise.”
He nodded mournfully and headed back to his lab to try and create some sense out of the havoc the military had left behind.
On her break, she grabbed a cup of well-earned coffee and made her way to the pay phones. She dialed the number from the scrap of paper in her pocket. “Yeah?”
“Is this The Lone Gunmen?”
“Who is this?” The voice was suspicious, wary.
“This is Dr. Dana Scully. I work at - “
“Dr. Scully, yes. What can we do for you?”
“I need some help. There’s - “
“We could talk about specifics later if you don’t mind. Where could we meet you?”
She would have laughed if the circumstances had been different. She wanted to be amused at their paranoia like she had been earlier, but now she was as paranoid as them. She gave them her parents’ address and hung up more paranoid herself.
The day actually passed quickly, the ER was busy and no military types showed up. But she was still grateful that she had three days coming up.
He was waiting for her in the kitchen when she entered and she went into his arms as though she had always been there. When they finally came up for breath she was able to ask if he had found anything.
He led her upstairs, but admitted he had been stymied at most avenues. She was looking at one of the sites he had discovered when she felt him leave her side and move to the window.
“Someone’s here. Looks like a plumber. Did you call anyone?”
She joined him at the window. “That’s Frohike, one of the men I told you about.” She moved toward the stairs as they heard the doorbell ring.
The small man entered quickly and had her shut the door behind him, then checked out the windows for anyone following them. Finally he spoke, “Open the garage, the other guys are in the back of the van. Let’s get them inside.”
He watched the little man; amused at the precautions this Frohike was taking, but not quite willing to believe that it wasn’t necessary.
Once everyone was assembled in her father’s office, she introduced the trio to him. “These are my friends, Melvin Frohike, John Byers and Ringo Langly. This is David and he needs some information.”
The three men sized him up and relaxed slightly when he held out his hand to shake with them. “You want to tell us what’s going on?”
He and Dana exchanged glances and he nodded. She settled into a chair and the others drew up seats to listen to her. He watched their eyes and saw the gleam in them at the information she was giving them, except for the little one, Frohike. His eyes had started gleaming at his first sight of her; he didn’t like it but . . .
She pulled out the three pictures and handed them to Byers. “Well, this is a start. We can scan these pictures in and do a search.”
“I wasn’t able to get into much.” He glanced over at the computer.
“Amateurs.” Langly muttered and moved over toward the machine. Within minutes he was into a database that had eluded the other man all day. He glanced over at her and grinned.
She smiled back and left the room to see what was available to eat in the house. When she got the meal started she returned to find them in a lively discussion. She sat and listened, joining in when the topic turned to the blood chemistry. They had fed in the information from the paper she had managed to slip out of Dr. Symon’s lab - it was blowing their minds.
When dinner was ready they all ate in the kitchen to stay away from the windows and the debate continued.
Finally Frohike looked up, “The neighbors are gonna wonder how much this plumbing call is costing. We better get out of here. We can do more on our equipment anyway. We’ll probably know who you are by morning.”
“Thanks. I really appreciate what you’re doing.”
“It’s for the Doc. If she thinks you’re okay . . . “ Frohike shrugged.
He looked over at her and smiled. Her answering smile quickened his pulse and the trio exchanged glances and rose.
They left as they had arrived, with only Frohike being seen in the van.
“I thought they’d never leave.” He took her into his arms.
“Sir? I do believe your hands are getting a little personal.” She batted her eyes at him and he lifted her to his lips, not at all disturbed at the location of his hands.