Dana rubbed the space above her nose, trying to relieve the tension headache that had taken up residence there. She’d seen six patients today, four of them his, plus rounds, gotten in about an hour on the paper he wanted her to ‘help’ him write and there was a dinner tonight.
If she didn’t leave right now, she wasn’t going to be able to get there on time. Daniel hated it when she was late, but he’d told her to meet him there.
Hell, she couldn’t even reach him to try to beg off. Would it be worth his annoyance to just not show up?
She sighed, no; she was the good, dutiful wife. She’d go and smile and help raise money for the cardiac unit, but when they got home, she’d be damned if she was going to touch the paper again tonight.
Dana closed her desk drawer and left the office. “Sheila, I’m heading home to change. If he calls, I’m on my way.”
Sheila gave her a sympathetic smile and nodded. “Try to enjoy yourself tonight.”
Dana chuckled, “Thanks Mom, but I don’t think so.” She waved and let herself out the back of the office where her sporty red Miata was parked.
She drove quickly and expertly to her house, pulling into the curved driveway. The gardener had been there. The yard was expertly edged and the grass a velvety green. Philippe had mowed on an angle today and she smiled at the slight pattern it had left. Occasionally her fingers itched to work in the flowers, but Daniel didn’t like it. It was a waste of her time and talent in his mind, besides Philippe was an expert. She pressed the button to open her side of the three car garage and slipped her little car in with ease. She hurried into the kitchen. “Pilar?” She called as she paused to glance through the stack of mail arranged on the counter.
“Yes ma’am?” The older Hispanic woman stepped into the kitchen from the laundry room.
“Oh, there you are. I don’t suppose he’s here?”
“No ma’am. He took his tuxedo with him this morning.”
Dana tried to hide her sigh, “I guess he’s planning to change and meet me. I’d better hurry.”
“Yes Ma’am.” Pilar inclined her head slightly.
Dana moved on to the front of the house and stairs. She didn’t feel so much disapproved of by Pilar, as unnecessary, a mere accessory. Well, Pilar had been here longer than she had, and she ran the house extremely well. A task Dana had neither the time nor desire to do.
She hurried to the master suite and into the large walk-in closet. Even the beautiful room didn't soothe her tonight. Usually the pale sage of the walls and the warmth of the floral bedspread that covered the four poster bed drew a smile from her. The comforter was plush and the desire to sink into its depths pulled at her.
She had decorated this room herself, others had decorated the rest of the house, but this was hers. Her ladies' desk in the corner was messy with her notes, and there were a couple of books on the small sofa in the sitting area, but Daniel had finally quit bitching about it. If the House Beautiful people wanted another picture spread, she'd shove things in the closet. Until then this was a room to be used.
She spared a glance at the sofa; it matched the deep burgundy in the comforter and was molded to her body. She's spent many evenings lounging there with books and journals.
Damn, she wanted to throw on her pajamas and maybe relax with a glass of wine. At least put on a comfortable pair of slacks or her sweats, but no way. He’d expect leg and cleavage for this dinner.
Again she sighed, but pulled out a little black dress that would go well with the new necklace he had bought her out of the blue last week. Diamonds with two beautiful sapphires. They looked cold to her, but he said regal. Whatever. Did she have time to put her hair up?
By the time she was ready, she knew she needed traffic to be on her side to make cocktails. She took one last longing look at the bed, then moved out of the room and to the stairs.
Pilar was in the entrance, freshening an arrangement. “How do I look?” Dana asked, surprising herself a little.
Obviously she’d surprised Pilar as well, though the woman did smile. “Madam looks lovely tonight.”
“Thank you.” She tucked a curl behind her ear. No time for more than a quick comb through, but her natural curl would have to pick up the slack. She stopped and really looked at the woman. The compliment seemed sincere. Dana smiled at her. “I hope we won’t be late.”
Dana’s smile grew. “I will be. I have an excellent excuse not to drink tonight.”
Pilar nodded and trailed her mistress back to the kitchen, to lock the door to the garage behind her.
She took the most direct route, but as she neared the city, traffic began to back up. Her little car was good at this kind of thing and she loved it. She’d bought it herself after they’d gotten married though he had laughed at her. She hadn’t cared, it was sporty and fast and just all of the things she couldn’t be. She took a quick turn and tried to make up the time. Just a few blocks up, she saw even more congestion and construction barriers and sighed. She came to a stop and looked around, then down at her watch again.
She might make dinner, but no way cocktails. She reached for her purse, she could call home and ask Pilar to try to get a message to Daniel. Before she could reach her phone, the car door was jerked open.
“Wha - “ she turned into the barrel of what, at eye level, looked like a very big gun.
“Out!” A short wiry man grabbed her arm and yanked her from the car. She stumbled to her knees.
Panic made her clumsy as she tried to scramble away. She didn’t realize she was screaming until the voice of the man now in possession of her car cut through her terror. “Shut up!” She glanced back and saw the gun again pointed at her. She froze.
She felt other hands grab her from behind and shove her out of the way, but she heard the gunshot at the same time and tensed, anticipating the pain. Instead, blood blossomed over this new man's left arm, staining the white fabric of his dress shirt. He didn't make a sound, turning and firing his gun at the man in her car.
The two shots sounded simultaneous. Dana saw the man in her car blown back and out of sight. Her rescuer fell into her and she saw the blood now coming from his head. She couldn't hold him, but softened his fall to the sidewalk.
Then they were surrounded by people, yelling, talking, running around with their heads cut off, or so it seemed.
"Call 911!" she demanded as she moved to begin her own examination.
"They're on the way, ma’am. If you'll - "
"I'm a doctor. Get my bag from the car. Hurry!"
The man that had spoken earlier only hesitated an instant, then reacted to the commanding tone in her voice.
Her fingers were carefully exploring his scalp. She breathed again when she realized his wound was only a scrape. The bullet had been that close, but this wound wasn't his problem. His arm was bleeding badly by now, the artery might be nicked.
In the back of her mind, she heard the siren approaching, but now her bag was open in front of her. She continued ministering to him.
When the paramedics were beside her, she had them assist, eventually turning her patient over to them. She didn't leave his side.
"What's his name?" She demanded of the man who had retrieved her bag.
"Mulder, Special Agent Fox Mulder. I'm Special Agent Roy Wilkins."
FBI? What the hell had she stumbled into? She wanted him conscious, the head was only scraped, but she wanted to make sure he was okay.
"Mr. Mulder? Can you hear me? Open your eyes. Come on."
They flickered, then opened a crack, trying to focus on her face. She smiled. "That's good, Mr. Mulder. I'm Dana, the woman you saved. Do you remember?"
"Dana." He murmured, then his eyes closed again.
"We're ready to transport, Dr. Waterston."
"Okay, I'll ride with you." She rose and dusted off her knees, feeling the shreds of her stockings. For the first time she noted her clothing. No wonder the agent had hesitated when she'd announced she was a doctor. The dinner! Damn.
Well, it was definitely too late now. She had no car and she was no longer presentable for a party. She turned to Wilkins, "I'll be at the hospital."
"Is he . . . "
"I'm concerned about his arm. The head wound looks bad, but it's superficial."
"We're going to need a statement."
"Yes, after I'm sure he's not going to lose that arm."
Wilkins blanched at that, but nodded and got out of the way. She climbed into the ambulance first, taking the jump seat and helping guide the stretcher inside.
Things had finally calmed down. Her rescuer was being moved from recovery. Her fast work at the site had saved his arm, and she had personally observed the surgery. The man had saved her life, and she was going to make sure he had the best care.
She'd been unable to reach Pilar. The housekeeper had probably gone out for the evening since everyone else was away. She'd left a message with very little detail and pushed it from her mind.
Now they were wheeling him into a room on the surgical floor and she was beside his bed. Her dress was hanging in a locker, ruined from his blood, but she didn't care. It was just a thing, this man had saved her and she had, in turn saved him. That stupid dress was unimportant.
When they transferred him from the gurney, he roused slightly. She leaned over him, "Mr. Mulder? Can you hear me?"
He blinked up at her, "Dana?" Her bright smile seemed to warm him throughout his entire body.
"That's right. I guess I don't have to ask you how many fingers."
He managed a small smile, "Where am I?"
"Georgetown. You're going to be fine, and that arm is going to be as good as new."
For the first time he glanced toward his arm, swathed in bandages.
She nodded, "Saving my life. Thank you." Her voice dropped to a whisper.
She blinked, but nodded. "You get some rest. I'll check on you in the morning."
"Have to go?" His eyes were closing again.
"Soon." She took his right hand in hers and he squeezed it lightly, before falling back to sleep. Instead of leaving, she found herself settling into the chair beside his bed.
Maybe she'd stay until his family arrived.
The nurse woke her at 6 a.m. when she came to take his vitals. Dana found herself embarrassed to still be there, but it just showed how tired she was. She really did need to check in at home. This wasn't the first time she'd slept at the hospital, but Daniel was no doubt upset with her.
She'd take a quick shower and put on fresh greens, then head over to her office. By then Daniel would be awake. Before she could move, the man in the bed squeezed her hand. She hadn't realized he was still holding it.
"Dana? You're still here?"
She couldn't help but smile at him. He had the sleepy tousled look of a lover with those bedroom eyes. She pulled herself up straight. Where the hell had that thought come from? His smile dimmed at the look on her face.
"Are you okay?" He asked quickly.
"That's my line." She said, purposefully not answering his question. "Are you in any pain?"
“No. I’m good. I can’t believe you stayed here all night.”
She lightly shook her head, “Not a problem.”
“Well I appreciate it.”
Her smile grew then. “Look, I need to get to work, but I’ll check back later.”
“I’m not going anywhere, for awhile anyway.”
She laughed lightly and moved toward the door.
“Oh Dr. Waterston, there you are.” He heard a nurse in the hall, “Your husband called up looking for you. He needs you to meet him at . . . “
The voice trailed off as they moved away from his door.
The smile faded from his face as the words sank in. ‘Your husband’. Of course she was married, look at her. He hadn’t noted a ring, but . . . He felt like the day had suddenly become overcast.
She tapped on the door and entered. Her smile disappeared when he just looked at her. “Mr. Mulder? Is there something . . . are you okay?”
She blinked, “You don’t sound it. Is there a problem?” She looked around the room, there was no evidence that anyone had been here, no flowers, nothing. Where was the man’s wife, family, friends?
“Why would you think that? Did your husband find you okay?”
She absorbed that, “Are you angry with me?”
“No. You know you might want to wear a ring or something, just to make sure that people don’t get the wrong impression.”
“They get in the way when I perform surgery.” She spoke with no emotion. “I’m sorry if you feel I misrepresented myself.” Her anger was growing and her voice grew icy.
He drew back, not sure how to react to her anger. She turned away from him, back toward the door. “Dana, wait, I . . . I’m - “
The door opened, “Dana? There you are. We’re going to be late for the meeting.”
Dana looked up at the older man. “Daniel, this is Special Agent Fox Mulder, the man that saved my life.” She turned to look at Mulder, “Dr. Daniel Waterston, my husband.”
Daniel moved forward, his hand out. He shook Mulder’s hand, “My deepest gratitude Mr. Mulder. I was planning to look you up later today. Of course, if Dana had been on time, none of this would have happened and you wouldn’t be lying here injured. I am sorry about that.”
This was her husband? Father maybe, was he actually scolding her? “Uh, it’s not that big a deal. I’m happy things turned out like they did.”
“That’s very generous of you Mr. Mulder. I’m sorry, but we need to run. Thank you again. Dana?” He took her elbow and moved her toward the door.
She hadn’t even looked at Mulder since beginning the introduction. He found it necessary to see her eyes. “Dana?”
She hesitated and glanced at him.
“I . . . “
“We need to get to our meeting, Mr. Mulder. I wouldn’t want the others to get a wrong impression.” Daniel looked down at her, his brow furrowed at her words, but then he dismissed them as he had dismissed her trauma earlier.
Mulder closed his eyes. He’d screwed up big time.
The orderly stopped to open the door, and turned to roll Mulder back inside. “I’ve got it man.” Mulder said and rose from the chair. “Thanks for the ride, but I’m fine.”
“Yeah, I’m good.” The orderly nodded and rolled the chair from the room.
Mulder turned toward the bed and stopped at the sight of her, sitting in the corner. “Dana?” He moved to her side. “Dana, look, I’m sorry about earlier. I was out of line and I . . . Are you, are you okay?”
“I don’t know why I’m here.” She seemed to come back to the present and started to rise from the chair.
“Please don’t leave. I, I behaved badly earlier. I was caught off guard that you were married.”
“What does it matter?” she looked at him coldly.
“It just does.” He sank on to the bed.
She looked away, and took a deep breath. “Where were you?”
“Physical therapy. I should be out of here tomorrow.” He couldn’t interpret the look that crossed her face. “I’m doing really well.”
He wasn’t sure what to say, but he wanted her to stay. Okay, she was married, but . . . for some reason he felt drawn to her.
She sat there a few minutes, though they both felt awkward. Finally she rose. “I need to get home.”
“Do you have to go?”
“I shouldn’t have even come by. It gives the wrong - ”
He jumped in then, “I’m glad you did. Will I see you tomorrow?”
“No. I have surgery in the morning. I’m sure you’ll be released before I get out.”
He was quiet then for a long moment. “So this is goodbye?”
“Thank you again, Mr. Mulder.”
“It’s just Mulder, please. I . . . I should be thanking you.” He watched as she let herself out of his room, and managed not to call her back. Why the hell did he suddenly feel abandoned?
She took her tray over to the table and pulled out the journal. She really needed to read this article. She couldn’t seem to get anything done lately, not since that night. It had been two weeks since he’d been discharged. Daniel was becoming annoyed at her continued discomposure. She took a deep breath, picked up the little plastic spoon and turned to the article. Suddenly she felt a presence beside her and looked up.
“Hi. Is this seat taken?”
“You remembered. May I?” He pointed to the empty chair.
“Of, of course. What are you doing here?”
“This late?” She glanced at her watch.
“They took me after work. Don’t have to come back for two weeks.”
She smiled, “I’m glad. You’re already back at work?”
“Desk duty. Why are you here so late?” No need to mention that he’d hunted for her before finding her here. He wasn’t sure why he’d done that, but he wanted, no, he felt like he needed to see her.
“Oh, Daniel’s out of town, so I gave Pilar the evening off. I thought I’d grab dinner here. It’s just easier.”
“That’s dinner?” He pointed to the cup of yogurt on her tray.
“And what’s wrong with that?” She met his eyes.
“It’s not dinner. Come on.”
“Come on?” She was unaware, but her eyes brightened.
“Yeah. Come on. I know a great place to have dinner. You’re foot loose and fancy free tonight.”
“Why?” She asked quietly. Mulder understood the question.
He leaned back in the chair and looked at her for a minute. Then he scooted his chair closer to her to speak quietly. “You know, there are some tribes that believe that if you save a person’s life you own part of them. Well, I saved yours and you saved mine, so if they’re right, I can’t let you eat like that.”
Dana leaned closer to him. “Neither of us belongs to any of those tribes.”
“But you never know when we might have to run off and join one.” He grinned. “Come on.”
Shaking her head, she let him take her hand. He picked up her tray and dumped it, then led her to his car. He opened the door to let her in. “Don’t worry, I’ll bring you back for your car.” He said, then he seated himself.
“I don’t have my car back yet. They held it for the investigation, then Daniel wanted to have it detailed.”
“Probably not a bad idea. I messed it up pretty bad inside.” He pulled into traffic and glanced over at her. “You don’t really mind me kidnapping you, do you?”
“No. They didn’t have my favorite flavor of yogurt anyway.”
He chuckled. “And what would that be?”
“Blueberry. All they had tonight was strawberry.”
“So that’s the real reason you came with me.” He tried to look forlorn.
“Now you know.” But her eyes were smiling. He nodded, watching her. For just an instant she wondered if this was a good idea, but he looked away and pulled out into traffic.
A few minutes later he pulled into what looked like a hole in the wall pizza parlor. “Here?” She looked around.
“Yep. Don’t let appearances deceive you, this is the best pizza in town. Trust me.” He moved around the car to open her door.
He led her inside and on to a booth near the back. The older red leatherette seats were split and Mulder took the side of the booth with the most duct tape. The vinyl top of the table was scarred and initials overlapped each other.
She looked around the walls at the neon beer signs and yellowing notices of past events. She found herself liking the hominess of the place, so different from what she’d become used to the last couple of years.
She let him order, even the beer. “I’m off medication, doctor. Don’t worry.” She settled back, comfortable here.
Once they were alone again, she looked over at him. “Can you tell me what really happened that night? I mean, I went in to make a statement, but I didn’t know much. Agent Wilkins didn’t want to answer any of my questions.”
“Well, the case is over now. The man I shot died.” He looked around to make sure no one was paying them any attention. “You stumbled into a ransom drop that went bad. He spotted us and ran. He’d taken a ten year old girl.”
“Did you get her back?”
“Yes.” He didn’t look at her then.
“He hurt her. She’ll be in therapy a long time. I don’t know if she’ll ever . . .”
“If she’s only ten, and already getting help, maybe she’ll . . . “ She stopped at the look on his face.
“This guy hurt her. I doubt she’ll ever have kids.”
“Oh.” She found her hand over his on the table. “I’m sorry.”
“The cases with kids get to me.” He shrugged.
“I can understand that.”
“Hey, let’s talk about something else.”
“Sure.” She smiled at him and started to take her hand back. He squeezed it instead and held it.
They kept it light after that, sticking to what they’d been up too since he’d been released. He had her laughing at his attempts to dress and do housework.
He’d been right, it was some of the best pizza she’d ever had, and though he out ate her two pieces to one, she was full. She was laughing when she caught sight of her watch. “It is not nine o’clock. Mulder, it can’t be that late.”
He checked his own watch. “Yes, it is. Did you have to be somewhere?”
“No, but I planned to be home before now.”
“Okay. I’ll get you back to the hospital. I appreciate the company for dinner.”
“It was good. I enjoyed the company too. Thank you.”
“I, uh, I was concerned about you at our last - “
“Mulder. I’m okay.”
“Good.” He took her hand to help her from the booth.
When they returned to the hospital, he drove her to where her rental car was parked, then walked her to the car. “Thank you, Mulder.”
“I enjoyed it.” He opened the door to the blue Ford Taurus for her. “Be careful.”
She nodded and slipped her key in the ignition. When she turned it, the car sputtered and then died. She tried again and the same thing happened. Mulder opened the door. “Has it been giving you problems?”
“It did this morning, but I finally got it started.” She tried a third time and it turned over. “There, it’s okay.”
“I don’t like the sound of it. I’m going to follow you home, just in case.”
“Mulder, I appreciate it, but I’m sure it’ll be fine.”
“Me too, but if it does cut out on you, I don’t want you stuck beside the road.”
He looked adamant, so she nodded. No need to tell him she was relieved by his offer.
He followed her out of town and eventually into an older neighborhood with manicured lawns and very large houses. She turned into a circular driveway and he turned in after her. The garage door opened and she pulled in. He stopped in the driveway just behind her.
She got out of the car and walked back to him. He got out to meet her. “You should get that car checked out tomorrow; have them give you another one.”
“I’ll do that. Listen, you’ve come all the way out here. Why don’t you come in for some coffee?”
“You don’t mind?”
“I’d appreciate it.” She smiled and opened the door for him. He took his keys and followed her into the house. They entered into the kitchen and he looked around. “Big isn’t it?” She was watching him.
“Well, ‘wow’ is what I was thinking.”
She nodded. “I don’t get much chance to cook, but I can make coffee. Then I’ll give you the tour.”
“Will I need bread crumbs?”
“Practically, but I’ll try not to get you lost.” She found some pie in the refrigerator and they shared the rest of it over the coffee. When they were through, he followed her out into the house.
“Uh, ‘wow’ didn’t cover it.”
“I know.” She looked around herself. “It’s been photographed for several magazines.”
“You did a good job.”
“I take no credit for this. Beatrice, Daniel’s first wife had this done.”
He smiled then, “Good.”
“You don’t like it?” Her lips twitched.
“Well, it’s not you.” He glanced around at the ultra formal setting. The feeling of museum was strong and he could visualize velvet ropes.
“Are you going to make any changes?”
She shook her head, “Not down here. I made changes to my bedroom, but I don’t spend much time in the rest of the house. I’m at the hospital a lot.” She shrugged, “and it’s more important to Daniel than it is to me.” She turned to look at the room herself. “I guess I don’t see it anymore. It’s so stiff and formal to me. And the colors are . . . uncomfortable.”
Mulder nodded, “I couldn’t have said what I didn’t like, but the red doesn’t look right for you. I see you with, with softer colors.”
She blinked at that, suddenly realizing she was alone in her house with essentially a stranger. He felt the change immediately. “Well, I need to get going. Thanks for the coffee and pie.”
“Small payment for seeing me home.”
He stared at her intently for a moment. She didn’t fit here, but it was what she had chosen. Why was he even thinking that? He barely knew her, but it was a feeling, a strong one. He’d learned not to ignore that.
She walked him to the garage, but he insisted she stay inside. “I hope we run into each other again, under circumstances like these, not like our first meeting.”
“Me too.” She smiled up at him.
Later he would wonder at the impulse, but he didn’t hesitate, leaning down and brushing a kiss across her lips. She didn’t pull away or slap him. She just looked stunned.
“Good night.” He moved to his car and got in, looking over at her one more time. Her fingers were lightly touching her lips. He felt his groin tighten at the gesture. He better get the hell out of here.
Dana stretched her neck as she hurried back to the office. She was so grateful that the meeting had been canceled. Maybe Daniel hadn’t left yet and they could have dinner. She was feeling guilty. They hadn’t spent any time together in ages and she hadn’t tried to remedy the situation.
Good, the light was still on in his office. She opened the door and stepped inside. It took a couple of heartbeats for the sight in front of her to sink into her brain. Chloe, their newest resident, was there. She was on his lap, straddling him in his chair and his hands cupped her bare breasts.
As the door opened, Daniel lifted his head from her throat. “Dana?”
The sound of her name unfroze her and she turned, letting the door shut behind her. Her steps picked up the pace until she was running by the time she hit the back door.
She fumbled with her keys, finally letting herself into her small red car. She sped out into the street, not bothering to check for traffic. She lucked out, no car was coming. She took the first left and drove.
She had no idea how far she had driven when she finally stopped at a light. She was shaking. She needed some place to stay. Her purse was in her hand and she pulled out her wallet. How much cash did she have? She pulled out her money and a card dropped into her lap.
Special Agent Fox Mulder. The number on the back was his home number, he’d told her that. Without thought she dialed. It rang twice before she realized what she was doing. She pressed end and let the phone drop into the passenger’s seat.
Dana looked around then, but didn’t recognize the neighborhood. She jerked when the phone rang. She answered it before she could stop herself. “He-hello?”
There was a slight hesitation. “Dana? Is that you?”
“You called me? Are you all right?”
“Where are you?” He asked quickly.
“I, I don’t know.”
“Okay. Are you in your car?”
“Ye-yes.” She realized she was shaking.
“Look around, Dana. Do you see a street sign?”
She approached the next intersection and stopped. “Yes, I’m at Columbia Pike and . . . and Lincoln."
“Okay,” he thought quickly. “There’s a movie theater about three blocks down. I want you to drive there and park. Lock the doors and stay in your car. I’ll be there in a few minutes. Dana? Do you hear me?”
“Go to that theater. Wait for me.”
“I will.” She broke the connection. He was already shoving on his shoes.
She was staring into space, but even with the colored lights of the marquee, he could see that her eyes were red. She didn’t see him, so he carefully tapped on her window. She slowly turned, as though not really connecting the sound with the fact that someone stood there.
The sight of him seemed to penetrate the fog she was in and she jerked the door opened. Her arms went around him as she buried her face in his neck and sobbed. “I alienated my family, I rearranged my whole life.”
His arms encircled her, though he had no idea what that meant or what was going on with her. After a few minutes, he led her around the car and seated her, buckling her in himself. Then he took the driver’s side, shoving the seat all the way back.
They still hadn’t really spoken, but he made the decision to take her to his place. It was close and he could keep an eye on her. Whatever was wrong had devastated her. His car could stay here; it was a lot less likely to be stolen than hers.
She was in her fog again. He didn’t bother her. When he parked the car, she didn’t even notice. Damn, what had put this woman into this kind of shock? She’d been shot at and been cool enough to save his life.
He opened the door to her side and put his palm lightly against her cheek. “Dana?”
She blinked at him and allowed him to help her out of the car. It was when she stepped inside of his apartment that she finally seemed aware. “Where are we?”
“My place. Come here.” He sat her on the couch. “I’ll be right back.”
Her eyes followed him as he left her side and hurried into his kitchen. When he returned he sat on the coffee table in front of her and handed her a glass. “It’s just water. Go ahead and drink it.”
She did as he ordered, then returned the glass to him.
“How are you feeling?”
“I don’t know. I . . . I shouldn’t have called you. I don’t know why I did.”
“Because I own you and you own me. It was the right thing to do. What happened?”
She shook her head, pulling back from him.
“You need to talk about it, Dana. It’s safe here. I’m not going to let anyone hurt you.”
“It’s too late.”
His heart clutched at the defeat in her voice. “No, it’s not.” He moved to the couch, putting his arm around her. “Let me help.”
Tears welled up in her eyes again. “I saw him.”
“My . . . my husband. He . . . I came back early and he . . . “
“Is he okay?” His arm tightened around her.
“He’s great. He’s just great.” Finally sarcasm graced her tone. “He was in his office and, and Chloe was in his lap.”
Mulder’s face hardened.
“She’s our newest resident. Like . . . like I was.” Her voice broke.
“Dana, you don’t have to - “
“I didn’t break up his marriage. They were already separated when . . . when I met him.” Suddenly it was desperately important for him to know that. “I was raised Catholic; I never thought I’d be someone’s second wife.”
He glanced down, had he said that out loud? “Uh, third wife.”
“No. He was married to Beatrice, then me.”
“Before Beatrice. He was married to someone named Karen.”
“Kar . . . how do you know that?” She pulled away slightly, watching him now.
He sighed, but met her eyes. “When I saw him, saw his, his age, I did a background check on him. I’m sorry, I had no right, but . . . “ his shoulders slumped. “He just didn’t look like what I envisioned for you.”
“You and everyone else.” She closed her eyes then and he was quiet. After a few minutes she straightened up. “I should get out of your way.”
“You’re not in my way. I think you should stay here tonight.” She looked up at him. “I’m not coming on to you, you’ll be safe here.”
“I don’t want to take your bed.”
“You won’t be, I mean, I usually sleep on the couch. I’m going to turn the bed down, get you some towels. Just for tonight, you need some time, get your head straight.”
Tears welled up again, but she nodded. When he left her, she rose and wandered over to his fish tank, brushing the damp from her cheeks. She watched the fish move around for a minute, then turned to his desk. She picked up the framed picture of the girl. She resembled him, his daughter? She put it back down and looked at the stack of videos beside his TV. She had one in her hand when he returned.
“Uh, that’s not mine.” He tried for humor.
Her eyebrow was raised; the title of the video had caused her to think about Daniel again. He immediately regretted his flippant remark.
“Dana, I’m sorry.”
“You’re a man, you can watch anything - “
“Maybe, or maybe I’m just lonely. Why don’t you go on to bed? You must be exhausted.” He thought for a minute that she was going to argue, but instead she closed her mouth and turned toward his bedroom.
“Damn.” He breathed when the bedroom door closed.
To be continued
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Mulder, Scully, the Lone Gunman and Skinner all belong to Chris Carter, 10-13 and Fox. No infringement intended.