Mulder leaned back in the chair. At least everyone was giving him a wide berth.
The case was over. His profile had led them to the guy. There would be no trial; suicide by law officers was a
growing trend. But it was over,
nothing left but the paperwork, and that wasn’t his problem.
He should be happy; they’d gotten a dangerous man off the
streets - except he didn’t remember how to be happy anymore.
He glanced at the calendar for probably the hundredth time that morning.
It wasn’t like he didn’t know the date.
He’d known the date before he’d even awakened this morning.
A year. It had
been a year since she’d disappeared, since Dwaine Barry had taken her to that
mountain top and she had vanished, been taken, been abducted.
You know, it was funny; they’d only worked together a
little over a year, just slightly longer than she’d been gone.
But it had felt longer. It
had felt like she’d always been in his life.
He certainly hadn’t expected it or planned it.
When he’d seen the diminutive redhead for the first time, he’d been
amused. This was the agent they had
sent to discredit him? Instead she
had . . . created him.
He had opened up to her, little by little until, without his
knowledge, she had become essential to him.
He’d felt incomplete for a year now - more incomplete even than when he
was twelve and . . .
He had continued to function, handle cases, profile bad guys.
The X-files were off limits to him.
He found that he really didn’t care any more.
He didn’t care about anything actually.
He’d broken into the office once and taken two files -
Samantha’s and Scully’s. They
were the only two that mattered to him. They
were carefully hidden at his apartment, well, copies were.
The originals and a second copy were in safe places as well.
He knew the realities of things now - he couldn’t get to the truth, not
alone. Since she was gone . . .
Why the hell was he hanging around here?
He’d submitted his report; he certainly wasn’t in a celebratory mood.
Fuck it. He grabbed his suit
coat off the back of his chair and headed for the door.
He was aware that several people actually flinched as he went past them.
That grimly amused him.
At least it kept everyone at bay. ‘Spooky’
was in a bad mood, worse than usual. These idiots had no idea just how bad a mood he was in.
He didn’t bother with dinner; it was too early anyway.
He just wanted out.
He let himself into his apartment, dropping the keys on the
table. The phone rang as he was
toeing off his shoes. He didn’t
bother to answer it; the machine would pick up.
Besides he really wanted to be alone tonight.
“Fox, it’s Maggie Scully.”
He closed his eyes then, but still couldn’t force himself
to pick up the phone.
“I called the office.
They said you had left for the day.
I’m going to the cemetery in a little while. I wouldn’t mind some company if you . . . If you don’t
want to go alone.”
He leaned back against the wall and sank into a squat.
He couldn’t do it. He couldn’t. He
wasn’t strong enough. He’d gone
one time, to the memorial service Mrs. Scully had planned.
He’d met Scully’s sister, Melissa, and her older brother, Bill.
Bill had been gruff, withdrawn, as though he wanted to blame someone.
Mulder understood that, but kept his distance.
He felt guilty enough without any ‘help’.
Her other brother had been late. Mulder hadn’t been able to force himself to stay.
A memorial service presumed that Scully was dead.
He couldn’t make himself accept that any more than he could about
So he trudged through each day. He no longer thought about the future. He lived one day at a time.
He ate when he remembered, and spent a lot of time running and working
He didn’t get involved in his cases.
He worked them and got out. It
had been that way since Kristen. Mulder
still didn’t understand what had possessed him to have sex with her.
Maybe he’d just wanted to feel alive instead of just breathing, just
having his heart beat. It hadn’t
He grimaced; Kristen had been royally pissed when he’d
cried out Scully’s name as he came. That
had surprised him a little too. They
had never been together. Okay, he
had imagined it on occasion. He
knew that if he had been with Scully, it would have been better.
Mrs. Scully had hung up, but he hadn’t even realized it.
He forced himself back to his feet.
He headed into his bedroom to change.
He wanted to get out of here. She
probably wouldn’t call back, but he didn’t want to be here in any case.
He threw on jeans and a t-shirt, checked to make sure her
cross was safely around his neck, and grabbed his jacket on the way out.
He pulled out into traffic with no destination in mind.
Mulder drove north, not seeing the scenery.
About ten miles north of the city, he made an abrupt U-turn amid the
blaring of horns and screeching of tires.
He didn’t admit it, even to himself, where he was headed
until he saw the sign - ‘Ascend to the Stars’.
He took the turn too fast, but managed to keep control of the car.
He hadn’t been here since . . . He’d never come back to
this place. He wasn’t sure why he
was here now, but he felt like he should be here.
He took the turns too fast. There
was no reason to race now - she was gone. She’d
been gone a year.
The back of the car fishtailed as he slammed on the brakes.
He threw the car into park and vaulted from the vehicle.
He walked rapidly toward the spot where he had caught up with Dwaine
Barry that night a year ago.
Why the hell was he here?
This was somehow better than the cemetery? He turned, but didn’t move from the spot.
There was no evidence here, not after all this time.
Hell, there hadn’t been any a year -
The blinding light paralyzed him physically.
It came from above him and without warning.
There had been no sound. There
was still no sound, at least not that he could hear, but the hairs had risen on
his arm and he seemed to feel a vibration on some level.
He had no idea how long he stood there.
Time seemed to have no meaning. Then
as abruptly as it had begun, the light was gone.
He staggered, but managed to stay on his feet.
What the . . .
He sensed that someone was near him before he heard the moan.
Mulder drew his gun from his waistband, and moved toward the sound.
The moon was nearly full and his night vision was beginning
to return. He spotted the body on
the ground ahead of him. It was a
woman, curled into a fetal position. He
moved closer, looking around to see who had dropped her here.
He couldn’t see anyone else, so he tucked his gun against his back and
bent down to get a better look.
He realized she was nude and shivering.
“It’s gonna be okay. Help’s
She turned at the sound of his voice and his eyes widened in
shock. If he hadn’t already been
on his knees, he would have fallen to them.
barely made a sound.
She didn’t react to her name, other than a shiver that ran
through her body again. That
brought him back to some semblance of sanity and he jerked his jacket off,
wrapping her in it.
“Scully, I’m going to get you to a hospital.
Just try to relax.”
She grasped at the jacket, pulling it closer around her.
He reached to take her into his arms and she flinched away.
it’s me, it’s Mulder.”
She glanced at him and away, curling tighter in on herself.
Mulder realized her trauma was deeper than he had seen.
“I’m not going to hurt you, Scully.
I need to get you warm. Let
me help you.”
Mulder lifted her into his arms and she didn’t resist.
He murmured reassuring sounds to her as he hurried to the car.
He laid her gently in the back seat and started to move away.
She whimpered when his arms left her.
“I’ll be right back Scully.
Let me get the heat going.”
Her eyes were large and wet. He rushed to start the car, then returned to her.
He couldn’t say she knew who he was, but she seemed to recognize the
fact that he wasn’t going to hurt her.
“Scully, it’s me. It’s
Mulder. Do you know me?”
She didn’t respond, holding his jacket tightly around
“Scully, you need to be examined, treated - “
She moaned loudly at those words and scrambled to get away
from him. “Nooooo!”
The sound clutched at his heart. She was terrified. The
words ‘examined’ and ‘treated’ had thrown her into a panic.
“Okay, okay. Just
relax. I need to get you inside
somewhere. You’re back Scully.
It’s going to be okay.”
She shuddered again and he pulled her into his embrace.
She tensed for an instant then relaxed slightly in his arms.
“That’s right Scully. I’m
not going to let anyone hurt you.” After
a moment, “I’ve got to get you off this mountain.
You lie down. Let me see if
I have a blanket in the trunk.”
He lay her down and, when she reached for him, put her hands
back on her own chest. “Just a
She didn’t take her eyes off of him.
He was back quickly, and shook out the blanket he had stored in his
trunk. He tucked it around her.
She still hadn’t spoken other than that moan when he’d mentioned
having her examined.
“Scully, I’ll be right there in the front seat.
You’ll be able to see me, okay? Try
She tensed up immediately.
“I won’t . . . Scully, I’ll get you a room, give you a chance to .
. . you don’t have to see anyone else right now.
She did and after a moment he crawled out and got into the
front seat. Scully whimpered
slightly, so he turned around. “I’m
right here Scully.”
She didn’t nod, but he had the impression that she had
relaxed slightly. He started down
the mountain. His desire to hurry
was tempered by the need not to jostle her any more than necessary.
It wasn’t long before her even breathing told him she had
fallen asleep. It wasn’t a
peaceful sleep, but when she began to fret he would talk to her.
His voice seemed to soothe her a little.
At the foot of the mountain, he chose a motel a couple of
steps above the rooms they usually stayed in.
The Bureau wouldn’t be paying for this and he was going to do better
for her than some cockroach infested cardboard room.
To be honest, over the past year he had spent more time with
the cockroaches on field assignment than with the temporary partners they’d
stuck him with. And they’d been
He hated to leave her, even to check in, but he had no
choice. He requested a room away
from the noise and was given something on the ground floor in the back.
Mulder moved the car as close to the room as he could, then checked it
There was only a king-size bed. He hadn’t thought to ask, but it didn’t matter; he
wouldn’t be sleeping tonight anyway. He
turned down the bed and turned up the heat, then propped the door open and
hurried back to her.
She was agitated when he returned to her, though not fully
conscious. His hand caressing her
cheek eased her, and he lifted her into his arms.
He looked around, but there was no one visible, so he carried her to the
room and placed her gently on the bed.
Now that he had light, he could examine her himself.
Her pulse was steady and her respiration was normal again.
She didn’t have a fever.
Her face was flawless, not a mark on it, though thinner than
when he had last seen her. He’d
never seen her hair this long or curly and couldn’t keep his hand from it.
He hesitated then, but he had to check her out.
He opened his jacket to look for injuries.
He gasped at the bruises and cuts on her torso and arms.
He ached for her, for the pain she had endured.
No wonder she didn’t want to be ‘examined’ by anyone.
The shapes of the bruises were strange, as though some
instrument had been pressed too harshly against her flesh, but he couldn’t
think of any purpose for instruments of such shapes. The cuts were numerous, but shallow. They made no sense either, except as torture.
He was aware he was gazing at her nude body and felt shame.
She had never shared her body with him when they had worked together.
He had never asked, knowing she was more special than that to him.
Now he covered her body, but continued his examination of her legs and
She couldn’t have walked; her feet were raw and bloody.
These wounds had been especially painful.
They had to have been inflicted to keep her prisoner.
The wounds on her ankles and wrists should have made that moot; she’d
obviously been bound.
He felt rage build up within. Whoever had done this to her -
As though she had sensed his emotions, she moaned again and
he forced his thoughts to return to her. He
covered her legs with the sheet and caressed her cheek.
Again she calmed.
Okay, vengeance later. He
rose carefully from the bed and moved into the bath, where he moistened a
washcloth and returned to her side. He cleaned her wounds, though he had no first aid kit
available. His own wounds this past
year had been of little interest to him.
you hear me? I need you to wake up.
You need fluids.” Her eyes fluttered at his words and when he spoke again,
He smiled at her and his face felt strange.
He realized he hadn’t smiled in a very long time.
“I need you to drink some water.”
He elevated her head and held the glass to her lips.
She seemed confused and unable to remember the art of
swallowing, but after a couple of tries she seemed to get the hang of it and
appeared to savor the feel of the water in her mouth.
He didn’t allow her to drink too much and she didn’t
protest anything he did to her. When
he placed the glass back on the bedside table, she watched him.
“I’m going to put some clothes on you Scully.
Okay?” Again, no response
except to watch him. He pulled one
of his t-shirts from his overnight bag and slipped it over her head.
It was like dressing a doll, but she didn’t resist.
She hadn’t eaten anything, but after the water, he didn’t
want to risk it yet. She would
choke on anything solid.
Within moments her eyes were drooping again.
He made her comfortable and watched her drift off.
He pulled the chair closer to the bed and sat, watching her sleep.
His thoughts were roiling, she was alive, she was back but .
. . what had been done to her? Why
didn’t she speak? Did she know
who he was, or was she reacting to his . . . his care of her?
When his thoughts became angry, she stirred, so he shoved those thoughts
away again. She was the important
thing now. Once she was well and
whole again, he could look at that side of things.
He hadn’t thought he would sleep, he almost never did
anymore, but he caught himself dropping off in the chair.
He looked over at the other side of the bed.
It was huge, surely she wouldn’t mind, if she was even aware.
He rose from the uncomfortable chair and stretched.
She didn’t seem to notice his movement.
He stripped off his jeans, they were too dirty to sleep in and his
t-shirt, and crawled into the bed, near her but not touching.
He was asleep almost instantly.
He woke the next morning to the feel of her warm breath
against his chest. She was pressed
tightly against him and his arms encircled her.
He had never thought to feel this, even when they were
together, their relationship had not . . . then she had been gone.
She fit so beautifully against his body.
Then he remembered her injuries and immediately loosened his grip of her.
That seemed to rouse her and she squirmed closer to him.
Again he felt the unfamiliar smile on his face.
Her eyes opened and she looked startled but not frightened.
He watched as she looked around the room.
you know me? It’s Mulder.”
She looked puzzled for an instant, then “Mu . . . Mu . .
were partners, Scully. We were
close. Do you remember me?”
She blinked a few times then, “Mulder.”
“That’s right.” He
knew his smile was huge now, his jaw actually hurt from the unfamiliar movement.
Her hand touched his face and her own lips moved into a smile.
“I bet you’d like a bath.
I’m probably not supposed to know this, but you loved to soak in a warm
bath when you got home at night.”
Again she looked confused for an instant, and then her eyes
“I’ll run the water for you.” He rose from the bed and her hand reached for him.
“I’ll just be a minute, then I’ll carry you in.”
He used the facilities quickly and started her bath.
He didn’t add any of the oils or bubbles that were available, fearing
they would sting her many cuts and abrasions.
She was watching the door when he emerged and seemed to sigh
at the sight of him. He carefully
picked her up and carried her to the bathroom.
It occurred to him that he didn’t know to what extent she needed
assistance, but this was Scully. Whatever
she needed, he would supply.
He tested the water, then turned to her.
“I need to undress you Scully.”
She blinked but didn’t demur. He reached for the hem of his t-shirt and carefully lifted it
over his head. The sight of her
body astounded him. There wasn’t
a bruise or a cut to be seen.
Was he losing his mind?
Had he dreamed the wounds? No,
no her feet had been cut and bloody. He’d
seen the stain her feet had left on the sheets before he cleaned them.
“Mu . . . Mulder?”
“It’s okay. Let’s
get you in the tub.” He was
rattled but she didn’t need to see that.
Maybe she could walk. He
helped her to her feet. She stood
there leaning against him. Okay,
she wasn’t herself, but that didn’t make her any less physically desirable.
Did she know what she was doing to him?
He took a deep breath, burying his libido down deep and
lifted her into the tub. She seemed
surprised, but also enjoyed the sensation.
She made no move to pick up the washcloth.
“Scully, do you, do you want me to bathe you?”
She blinked, watching him.
“Yeah, okay.” He
took another breath and took the washcloth into his hand.
She accepted his touch and he was grateful he was kneeling
beside the tub, part of his anatomy hidden from her. He even washed her hair, which seemed to cause a sound like a
purr to emanate from her. The sound
went straight to his cock. He was
going to need some time alone and soon.
When he helped her to her feet, he gazed at her body.
God, this was harder than he’d imagined.
She seemed completely unaware of what she was doing to him.
Walking still seemed unfamiliar to her, so he wrapped the
towel around her and took her back to the bedroom. He found another t-shirt and slipped it over her, covering
her from his sight. The knock on
the door startled him, but she had no reaction.
He checked and opened the door to allow the waiter to enter
with their breakfast. He’d
completely forgotten ordering it. After
the boy left, he returned to her side. “You’ve
got to be hungry. I thought this
would be light enough.”
She neither agreed nor disagreed, just watched him.
He ended up feeding her, though at the end she did use the fork and fed
the last of the eggs to herself. She
chewed slowly as though rediscovering the sensation.
“Scully, you need some things, clothes.
I’ll have to run out to get them, but I’ll just be a little while.
Okay? Will you be all
There was no response and his concern over her mental state
went up. He didn’t want to leave
her alone, but he had to get her some clothing and make some decisions.
He rose from the bed, moved to the far side of the room and
pulled out his cell phone. Watching
her, he asked to speak to Assistant Director Skinner.
“It’s Agent Mulder.
I . . . I was wondering if I could, could arrange for some leave time?”
Skinner hesitated, leave time? Mulder? “Are
you working on anything currently?”
“No sir. We
wrapped up the case I was on.”
“Oh yes, the case in Baltimore. You did a good job.”
“How much time are you talking about?”
“Couple of weeks, maybe a little more.”
“That shouldn’t be a problem. Will you be available if they need more on your report?”
“I’ll check in.”
“Going out of town?”
Mulder knew this was just small talk, not prying and for the
first time . . . the first time in a year, he took no offense.
“Yeah, I need to get away.”
“I think that’s a good idea, Mulder.
You deserve it. Let me know when you’re back - if you take more than the
two weeks, we’ll need to know.”
“Yes sir. Thank
you.” Mulder broke the
Skinner leaned back in his chair. That had been a surprise.
They usually had to threaten the man to get him off the premises.
He was different since Scully had disappeared - more sardonic, less
social if that was possible, and just more withdrawn.
Maybe this would be good for him. Skinner
flipped his calendar to note when
Mulder was expected back, then let it fall back to today.
He stared at the date, and the light dawned on him.
A year, Agent Scully had been missing a year yesterday.
He sighed, then shoved it aside, Mulder had to handle this himself.
Skinner hoped he handled it well.
Mulder looked over at Scully. She hadn’t taken her eyes off of him. He took a seat beside her on the bed. “Scully, are you okay with me leaving you alone for a
Her brow creased, and he wondered if she even understood.
He had few choices here, she needed some things.
“Okay then. You’ll
stay here. Don’t answer the door,
just wait for me.” He hesitated,
but the sooner he left, the sooner he could get back to her. He pressed his lips against her forehead, then rose and,
after placing the ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign on the door, hurried to his car.
He found a K-Mart close by and picked up the basics.
He hadn’t bought women’s underwear before, but he had a fairly good
idea of her size. She could buy
herself more later. He also
remembered to pick up a toothbrush, hair brush and some of that apple shampoo he
remembered she liked. He was
probably forgetting something, but he had two complete outfits and all the
toiletries he could think of. He
picked up some lunch and hurried back to her.
He grabbed all of the bags and hurried to the room.
He swiped the card and managed not to drop anything opening the door.
He did lose his grip on everything when he realized she wasn’t in the
Blind panic took him and he raced to the bathroom.
He heard the whimper and his head whipped toward the tub.
She was there, curled in on herself and trembling violently.
“Scully, Scully I’m sorry.
I shouldn’t have left you. Scully,
Baby, let me hold you.” He lifted
her from the tub, holding her close to him.
He returned her to the bed, but didn’t leave her.
She was clutching him with all her might.
“I’m here Scully. I
won’t leave you again.”
“Mulder? Is it
the real you?”
He looked down stunned.
She hadn’t spoken more than his name before.
“Yes, Scully. It’s
really me; you’re home.”
voice broke and her fingers touched his face in wonder.
“I thought it was another one of their scenarios, their
“Their games?” He
pulled her closer, ignoring the fact that they hadn’t had this relationship
before she was taken.
She nodded, tears spilling out of her eyes.
“It’s okay. You’re
safe.” He was rocking her now and
could feel the tension leaving her body. They
sat there, holding each other for a long time.
She was the one that finally moved away, sitting up.
He longed to pull her back against him, but held off.
“I’m . . . I’m sorry.
It’s the games.”
“Don’t apologize Scully.
Look, you should eat a little, then we can talk.”
She nodded and moved out of his lap.
He got the lunch he had gotten them from the pile of bags on the floor
and brought it to her.
“It’s real food.”
She touched it, smelled it. “Those
were real eggs we had at breakfast.”
He nodded, not understanding. She brought the sandwich to her mouth and took a small bite.
The look of delight brought a smile to his face.
“I guess I made the right decision.”
Her mouth was full, so she only smiled.
He got his own sandwich and ate with her, pouring her some tea into a
glass. She savored each bite and he
savored the sight of her. Her mind seemed intact now and his relief was incredible.
When they had finished, he cleaned up and placed the other
bags on the bed. “I got you some
clothes. I hope I got the right
He glanced up to see her face go scarlet and her eyes
widened. “You bathed me.
It was you, not . . . oh my god.”
“Scully, its okay.”
“I thought it was them, another . . . “
what kind of game? What are you
“I . . . “ This
was shaking her.
“It’s okay. We
can talk later. You want to try out
She looked down at the t-shirt she was wearing.
It was obviously his and he had dressed her in it.
“Uh, yeah. Thanks.”
She rose from the bed and tested her ability to walk, then gathered up
the bags and walked carefully to the bathroom.
He watched her leave and sagged back against the headboard.
What the hell had gone on with her?
After a moment he rose and finished straightening up the room, pulling
the covers straight on the bed.
He turned, as the door opened, to see her.
He’d done a good job, the clothes seemed to fit, though she needed to
roll up the legs on the jeans. She
“I do okay?”
“Yeah, a little too good.”
He looked puzzled at that.
“How did you know all of my sizes?”
“Oh,” he grinned, “I’m a special agent with the FBI.
I notice things.”
“Well, you’re special.”
She turned from him as he stared at her, stunned at those words.
She returned in a moment, brushing her hair.
She twisted it in her hand and looked up at him.
“Mulder, how long have they been playing these games?”
“What, what’s the last thing you remember Scully?”
“Duane Barry. He
broke into my apartment while I was leaving you a message.
He put me in the trunk of his car.”
Mulder winced at the memory.
didn’t get the message in time.”
She’d seen that look before, Mulder taking on the guilt of
the world. “You found me Mulder.
Did you get Duane Barry? Talk
to me Mulder.”
“We got him.” He
stopped again and she moved to him, placing her hand on his arm.
“Scully, I didn’t rescue you. I
found you, you were returned. I
didn’t . . . I couldn’t . . . “
“Mulder, how long?”
He looked at her for a long moment, “A year, yesterday.”
“A . . . a year?” She
paled and he reached out for her. “It
can’t be a year. Mulder, my
family . . . “
He nodded, “I haven’t told anyone I found you.”
She looked at him, “Good.
I can’t do this by phone.”
“Do you want me to take you to your mother’s?
It’s not that far.”
She hesitated, “Would you think I was crazy if I said no?
I need, I need some time to absorb this.”
“I understand. I
couldn’t . . . I needed time too.”
She sank down on the bed, her hand playing with her hair.
This explained the length. “A
year.” He nodded.
“I guess I don’t have an apartment anymore.”
mother has most of your stuff.”
“Most of it?”
“I . . . I have a couple of things.”
She looked a little surprised at that.
“Uh, your bed. I
didn’t have one.”
“You have my bed?”
“You can have it back.
I mean . . . “
She chuckled unexpectedly, which startled him, then he
smiled. “Do you mind?”
He saw the color suffuse her face. It took him a second to realize she was blushing. “We, uh,
we can talk about that later. You,
you needed a bed.”
“Well, uh,” things hadn’t been this awkward before,
“do you want to stay here, or . . . “
“I need some time. I
need to know what’s happened, sort out . . . things.”
“I’d like to know what you mean about the ‘games’.”
She met his eyes and after a moment nodded.
“I’d like to get away from here, do you know of any place . . . “
“I don’t think my apartment would be a good idea.
There is a place though. I
thought, if you weren’t okay . . .”
That surprised her, “You were thinking of a place?”
“You weren’t yourself Scully. I didn’t know . . . I wanted to keep you safe, but when I
used the word ‘examine’, you . . . “
She shivered at that, and changed the subject.
“Aren’t you missing work?”
He shook his head, “I called in this morning, took a two
“You took a leave?”
“What is this? I
“It’s been a little while.”
He conceded. “That’s not
the point. You wanted a place to go
to get your act together. I know a
A look of unease came over her face.
“I’m not sure I’m ready to be alone.”
“Oh, I didn’t mean . . . “
She seemed to relax then, “That’s why you took the time
“Well, yeah. If
you don’t . . . last night and this morning you seemed . . . “
“Where were you thinking?”
“My family has a lake house, in Rhode Island.
We don’t use it anymore. I
don’t know the last time anyone was there, but it would be private.”
She nodded. “Mom,
is she, is she okay?”
“She a very strong woman, but she misses you.
I don’t see her as often as I should, it’s been hard.
When you are ready, she’ll be over the moon.”
“We should get out of here.”
He watched her. He
could see some of her mother’s strength and envied it a little.
She stood and began gathering her things to put in one bag, packing.
Mulder called down to the desk to check out.
This way no one would see her.
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