Without Comfort (R)


He heard her in the bushes.  The sound was small, but every sense in his body was focused on finding her.   He could almost smell her - that Scully scent.  It was nearly hidden by the smell of fear.  Scully was afraid; but even afraid, she'd been able to take care of that animal.  If he wasn't dead already he would be soon.  Now he had to get to her, get her help. 

There!  "Scully!   Scully it's me.  It's Mulder."  She didn't acknowledge him.  Had she heard?   He moved quickly toward her and she crouched, trying to hide from him.  Did she not realize it was him?  "Scully."   He was close enough now to reach out to her.   His heart broke as she cringed from him.   "Scully let me help you."

He reached out to help her to her feet, but stopped as she screamed.  "No!  Don't touch me!  I'll kill you again!"

His eyes widened, she didn't know him.  She was trapped in the nightmare.  What was she seeing when she looked at him?  "I'm going to get you help Scully.  Please, let me help you."  He slowly and carefully took her upper arms in his hands.  She screamed again and arched, as though in agony, then collapsed completely limp to the ground.  "Get me an ambulance!"

What had that SOB done to her?  He gathered her into his arms and turned back toward the others.

"Mulder!"  Skinner raced to his side as the EMTs took her from him.

"He hurt her."  Mulder's voice was tight and Skinner had to pull him out of the way so that they could work on her.

"He's dead Mulder.  He bled to death before they could help him.  She got him, Mulder, and you found her."

"Not in time.  He should never have gotten his hands on her in the first place.  I was too late.  I didn't see - "

"Mulder, stop it!  You solved this case; we have Scully.  Give yourself some credit.  Come on, let's get her out of here."  The gurney couldn't roll over this ground; so all four of them took hold of the stretcher and raced back to the ambulance.

They barred him from the ambulance, but Skinner convinced him to follow, Skinner himself driving.

***** 

"Excuse me sir, you can't go in there."  A nurse stopped him as he tried to enter her hospital room.

"I'm her partner, Agent Mulder."  He pulled his ID from his pocket.

"Yes sir, but you can't go in.  The patient has requested no visitors."

Mulder just looked at her for a moment.  "I'm sure she didn't mean me.  I need to see her; see how she's doing."

"Fox Mulder, right?  I'm sorry, you can't go in.  I can page her doctor for you, if you'd like."

He hesitated for a moment; she'd barred him from her room?   "Please, I need to talk to her doctor then."  The nurse nodded and moved back behind the desk. 

The doctor arrived shortly and the nurse pointed out Mulder who was now pacing outside of her room.  "Agent Mulder?"

"Yes.  What's going on?   Why am I not allowed in to see Agent Scully?"

"That's my patient's decision."

"How is she?  What are her injuries, her prognosis?"

"I can't discuss my patient with you."

"She's my partner; I'm listed as her next of kin.  Is she going to be okay?"

The doctor glanced over the chart the nurse passed to him.   After a moment he looked up.  "Her injuries are not life threatening; however, her attacker brutalized her.  Her physical trauma should heal normally."

"What about...”

"She's not able to talk about her ordeal yet.  The fact that she has demanded no visitors . . .  I'm concerned about the psychological damage."  He saw the fear in the younger man in front of him.  "Give her a little time Agent." 

"What, what are her injuries?"

"I can't go into detail but . . . she was tortured.  Agent Mulder?"  He reached out to the man as he swayed and reached for the wall. "Would you like to sit down?"

Mulder shook his head.  He could see . . . Scully had autopsied some of his previous victims.  What was this going to do to her?  He needed to see her, see that she was healing, let her see him and know he was here for her.  And how sorry he was that he had gotten her involved; allowed her to be taken.

"Why don't you go back to your room Agent Mulder?  Take a shower; try to get some sleep. You look like you could use some.  Maybe she'll be more herself tomorrow."

Mulder glanced over at the closed door once more.  Finally he nodded.  "This is my cell phone number.  Call me if there's any change."

"We'll take care of her Agent Mulder."

He nodded and after a moment headed for the elevator.  He looked back once as the doors opened, then left the floor.

He called the hospital again when he reached the hotel.   No change.  The shower didn't make him feel clean but he wasn't sure anything would.   He sprawled on the bed, surfing through the channels.  He kept glancing at the phone.  Why wouldn't she see him?  Did she blame him for everything?  She had every right to, but he needed to talk to her.  He finally drifted off with the TV on.

Mulder woke gasping a couple of hours later, her name on his lips.   He lay there, getting his breath back, letting the sweat dry on his chest.  He could remember the dream in vivid detail.  She'd lived though; she'd survived - now he had to be with her.  This was ridiculous.  She needed support and no one wanted to give her support more than he did.

The next day was the same.  She absolutely refused all visitors and he was ready to pull a gun on the entire medical staff.  "Agent Mulder, believe me, she knows you're here.  Everyone on the floor knows you're here.  Now I'm sorry, truly I am, but Miss Scully has asked that no one be allowed in.  That's the end of it."

"She needs me."

"To be honest sir, it looks more like you need her.  Now I'm sorry, but you have to leave.  If you like, I can have Dr. Straughn call you after he sees her today."  She actually took a step back from the look he shot her.  He didn't speak, just returned to the elevator.

Skinner had returned to DC.  He was alone in the city and she wouldn't let him help her.  Hell, she wouldn't let him near her.  He felt as lost and alone as . . . Damn it!  Damn it all!

*****

When the elevator opened, he headed once again for the nurses' desk.  He didn't have a whole lot of hope; they hadn't let him in any other day, but he couldn't stay away.   Even if she couldn't admit it, she needed him and the woman had been right, he sure as hell needed her.  He stopped in his tracks when he saw that her door was open.  He didn't hesitate, moving immediately toward the room.

It was empty, the bed stripped.  He nearly collided with the nurse on his way out.  "Where is she?  Where's Agent Scully?"

"You need to lower your voice Agent Mulder.  We have sick people on this floor."

"Fine!  You want me to be quiet, tell me what I need to know."  He took hold of her arm.

"I've already paged Dr. Straughn.  Let go of me or I'll call Security."

"Just tell me what I - "

"Agent Mulder, release Nurse Adams."  Dr. Straughn barked at him, "I'm here; if you have questions, talk to me."

"Where's Scully!"

"She left."

"Left?  She was well enough to leave the hospital?"

"No.  She signed herself out against medical advice."

"Against . . . where did she go?  She couldn't have gotten far alone."

"She wasn't alone."

"Wasn't . . . who was with her?"

"I'm afraid I don't know him.  We were never introduced."

"Him?"  The hairs on the back of his neck were on end.  She'd left with a man?  What man?  She refused to speak, to even see him, yet she leaves with . . .  "Can you describe him?" 

"Big man, taller than you, short hair.  I really didn't see him that well, just from behind helping her to the elevator."

"How long ago did they leave?"

The doctor glanced down at his watch, "Hour-and-a-half, maybe two hours." 

Mulder turned without a word and headed for the stairs, not bothering to wait for the elevator.  He stopped at the hotel long enough to throw his clothes in his suitcase and raced to the airport.

He caught the first plane to DC and lost no time getting to her apartment.  There was no sign of her, but he let himself into her place anyway.  She hadn't been here.  The place had a closed-in smell and there was a fine layer of dust over everything.

Where the hell was she and who did she leave with?  Had it been on her own?  Had some man forced her to sign herself out?  Damn it!  Where was she!   He slammed his hand into the door and was startled back as it opened suddenly.  He reached for his gun.

"Fox?  What are you - "

"Mrs. Scully.  I . . . I was looking for Scully."

"She's not here."

"Do you know where she is?  The hospital said she signed herself out against orders.  And that she wasn't alone.  I don't know if she was taken, but I've got to find her.  If you know anything . . . ”

Maggie shook her head, not speaking.

"Have you talked to her since . . . ”

"Fox, I -"

"You have.  You know where she is."

"No.  Not exactly.   Fox, she's not ready . . . she can't talk to you yet."  She wanted to reach out to him but he stepped back away from her, pulling his emotions in and clamping them down tight.

"She blames me.  Mrs. Scully, I . . . Is she going to be okay?"

"I don't know Fox.  She won't see me either."

He gave her a brief nod.  "I don't want to push her.  If you, if you talk to her, will you tell her . . . never mind."  He turned away and let himself out of her apartment without another word.

Maggie sank down onto the couch.  Bad decisions were being made.  These two needed each other for both to heal.  She shouldn’t have allowed anyone to talk her into this arrangement.  Well, maybe it wasn't too late to change that.

She quickly packed the supplies Dana had requested and headed home.

*****

He had returned to his apartment as well.  He dropped his suitcase at the door and stood undecided as to which way to move.  He wasn't hungry.   He couldn't imagine ever being hungry again.   He was tired; he was so tired, he envisioned sinking onto his couch and never rising again.  But he didn't want to sleep - no the nightmares he'd been experiencing had convinced him of that.  Now that she was 'away' with some man . . . Mrs. Scully wasn't worried.

Was this some man who had been in the picture for some time?   Someone she approved of?  At least someone better for Scully than him.

He realized he was still standing by the door and forced himself into the bathroom to splash some water on his face.  He stripped down in there and pulled on his robe.  He had no desire to go to the office.

He sank onto the couch and found the remote in his hand.   He turned the TV on, but didn't even bother to surf, coming in on some movie that didn't matter.

He woke with a start; once again calling for her, sweat dripping into his eyes.  That last autopsy, the one he'd rushed her through - he'd seen what this man did to his victims.  He kept seeing the body on that table, but the face was hers.

She wasn't dead.  She'd managed to escape and she'd killed the man - before he could rescue her.

*****

She was glad she wasn't driving when she spotted the man leaving the bar.  Her head turned automatically, tracking the man.  It was him.  He didn't look good.  She should have checked on him earlier.  "Maggie, are you okay?"

"What?  Oh yes.  I just saw someone I know."

Gladys raised her eyebrow.  "Around here?"

Maggie gave a sad chuckle. "That's what's worrying me."

*****

She was at his door first thing the next morning.  She knocked for nearly five minutes before she heard movement.   "I don't want any!"

"Fox, it's Maggie Scully.  Please let me in."

The door flew open.  "Mrs. Scully?  Is everything okay?   Is she . . . ”

"May I come in?"

"Of course."  He led her into his living room and quickly emptied a chair for her to sit.  He wanted to know what had brought her here, but didn't know how to ask.

She was observing him and not happy about what she was seeing.   The man just didn't look well.  In the months Dana had been gone he had lost weight and there were lines around his eyes, but it was the air of resignation that seemed to emanate from him that bothered her most.  "I saw you last night.  You were leaving a bar."

"Which one?"

"Fox, don't.  Are you drinking?"

He gave her a lopsided grin.  "Well, my tolerance has gone up."

"Fox."  She shook her head.   No, he didn't look well at all, maybe he was hung over now, but it looked like a natural state.  She had never been to his apartment before, but surely it didn’t always look like this.

He decided to take the plunge, and throw his pride to the wind.  "How is she doing Mrs. Scully?  Is she working?"

"I haven't seen her; but I've heard she's doing very well."

"Good, that's good.  I was hoping . . . ”

"How are you doing, Fox?" 

He shrugged, not willing to comment and unable to lie, not to this woman.  She looked away for a moment.  "I shouldn’t have bothered you.  I just . . . when I saw you last night I was, I got concerned.  It's none of my business, you're a grown man - "

"Mrs. Scully, I'm flattered that you cared enough to check on me."

"Oh Fox, I do care."

"If you talk to her, could you tell her . . . No, I'm sorry.   Look, there's some place I need to be.   I need to shower and . . . ”

It was a lie and she knew it, but it was too painful having her here.  She nodded and rose.  "Fox, call me sometime."

He tried to smile but made no promise.  She squeezed his hand and left the apartment without another word.  She got in her car and sat deep in thought.  Her decision made, she started the engine and hurried to her home.  She threw some clothes in a suitcase and returned to the car.

*****

She knocked on the door impatiently.

"Coming!  Just a minute.   What . . . I didn't know you were coming out here."  He looked damned uncomfortable that she had.

"I have to see Dana."  She moved into the house.

"She's sleeping."

"I won't wake her, but I need to see her."  She moved toward the stairs.

"No, down here.  We turned the den into a bedroom."  That caused her to pause, but she turned to follow him.  He opened the door and allowed her past him.  Her hand flew to her mouth as she took in her daughter's appearance.  She was drawn into a tight ball, tense even in sleep.  She had obviously lost weight and her hair was longer and lank, lifeless.  Her hands were fisted at her side and dark circles under her eyes were the most predominate feature of her face.

She turned and left the room, waiting for him to join her.   "Why didn't you tell me?  Bill, why didn't you call me!  She's down here because she can’t climb the stairs, isn't she.  I should have been here!" 

"Mom, she is doing better.  She's back with her first love, medicine.  She's away from the FBI, she's away from him." 

"And she's dying from it!  Bill can you not see?  There's a walker in her room.  How is she practicing medicine if she can't walk?"

"She can walk, she just feels a little steadier with the walker sometimes.  She's doing more teaching right now, but she's - "

"Bill, I don't know if you're lying to yourself or to me.  I don't care right now.  Dana needs help."  She turned to the phone.

"Mom, talk to her.  She'll tell you - "

"Bill, would you please get my suitcase out of the car?"

He commanded men, but this woman didn't care.  She was his mother and had been trained well in command herself by his father.  He turned toward the door.

As soon as he stepped outside she picked up the phone and dialed.  "This is Fox Mulder.  Leave a message after the beep."

"Fox, this is Maggie Scully.  I need you to call me as soon as you get this - “ She heard the receiver being picked up.

"Mrs. Scully?  What's wrong?"

"Oh Fox, I've made a terrible mistake.  Dana needs you.  She's not doing well at all."

"Where are you?"

"San Diego.  Dana's been staying with Bill and Tara."

That caused a chill up Mulder's spine.  Bill?  "I'll be there as soon as I can.  Mrs. Scully, thank you."  He hung up before she could speak, the thoughts of being AWOL not giving him a moment's pause.  Maggie could feel herself relaxing for the first time since she'd seen Dana.  Trite as it sounded, it felt like help was on the way.

Dana was able to join the family for dinner and didn't use the walker, though she took it slow.  Maggie refrained from telling anyone about her phone call.  No reason to give anyone time to create excuses.  Following dinner, everyone sat in the living room, watching Matthew play and talking.   The subject of Dana's health was avoided, though she did say that the teaching was going well and her new colleagues had been very supportive.

By 8:30, it was obvious to Maggie that Dana was exhausted.   She took her daughter's hand.  "Dana, jet lag is beginning to get to me.  Would you mind terribly if I went on up to bed?"

Scully tried to hide her relief.  "I think that would be a good idea Mom.  I might go ahead and turn in myself."

"Probably a good idea as well.  Bill, Tara, dinner was excellent.  I'll see you all in the morning."  She rose and went upstairs.  Her hands twitched to help Dana get ready for bed, but knew that she would be rebuffed.  She listened to the sounds of the house as everyone went off to bed.  Matthew was put down; the TV in the master bedroom came on for a short while, then was turned off.

She couldn’t sleep.  After tossing and turning for another half hour, she finally rose.  Maybe a cup of herbal tea would help.  And she knew she really wanted to look in on Dana again.  She was so far away from everyone else, who would hear if she needed something during the night.  Bill had meant well, Maggie was sure of that but . . . but his own interests had clouded his judgment.

She made her way quietly downstairs and had turned toward the kitchen when she heard the knock on the door.  She glanced at her watch, nearly midnight.  Who would . . . but as a military wife she was used to middle of the night wake ups.

Maggie glanced through the sidelight of the door and gasped, pulling the door open.  "Fox?  How did you get here so quickly?"

"I pulled in a few favors.  How is she?"

She took his hand and pulled him into the living room, shutting the door silently behind them.  "Fox, I must apologize to you.  Things would not have gotten to this point if I had . . . if I had not listened to the wrong people.   Everyone had Dana's best interests at heart; you need to believe that."

"Where is she?  Why are we - "

"I need to prepare you, Fox.  She . . . her physical appearance - "

"Please Mrs. Scully."  She nodded and rose.  He followed closely and was surprised to find them heading toward the back of the house, though he kept quiet.   She opened the door to Scully's room and stepped aside.  A nightlight burned on the dresser - Scully had never used one before - but it enabled him to see her clearly and to fully understand what Mrs. Scully had been trying to warn him about.

He started for the bed and Mrs. Scully put her hand on his arm and whispered.  "Don't wake her Fox."

"I won't.  Why don't you go on to bed Mrs. Scully?  I'll be here."

"Fox, you can't sleep in that chair."

"I don't plan to sleep."  She nodded at that and watched as he took Dana's hand into his own.  It had to be her imagination, but it seemed that the woman on the bed relaxed slightly at the touch.  No, that wasn't possible, but the frown was gone from her face; that was no illusion.  Maggie turned back to the door, she wasn't needed in here.

"Mrs. Scully?  Thanks."  She nodded but didn't turn back; there was no reason for him to see her tears.  She closed the door behind her and went back upstairs.  She'd be able to sleep now.

*****