She was steadier now than at any time since he’s found her
on the ground last night, but she still didn’t want to talk about it.
She was quiet and he respected that, though he found himself glancing
over at her often.
His attempts at conversation fell flat and he was beginning
to feel uncomfortable when he felt her fingers pull his right hand from the
wheel. She entwined their grip and
squeezed. He returned the pressure,
then settled her hand on his thigh, holding it with his own.
The quiet was comfortable after that.
She was with him and he felt . . . he felt whole.
Stupid word, but it fit. This
was the best he’d felt in a lot more than a year.
It was dark when they arrived. They’d stopped once for dinner, but both were anxious to
reach their location. Mulder used
his flashlight to get the power on, then gave Scully the short tour, removing
the dustsheets as he went.
“Mulder, there’s only one bedroom? Where did you sleep?”
“Samantha and I had the loft.” He pointed to the open area above them. It was empty now.
“I don’t think you’ll fit anymore.”
He grinned, “Wasn’t planning to. I’ll sleep on the couch.”
“That couch?” She
turned toward it. He shrugged.
She looked into the bedroom. The
bed was a lot smaller than the one from last night.
“You could sleep in here with me.”
“That’s - “
“It’s not an invitation to jump me, Mulder.”
A small smile played around her lips.
“Shucks, ma’am. I
know how to behave myself.” But
he leered at her.
Scully rolled her eyes and moved into the bedroom.
“Now that felt familiar.”
“Scully, really, I can sleep out here.”
“There’s no need. I
trust you. I am tired though, mind
if I get ready for bed?”
“Go ahead. There’s not a lot of wild night life around here.”
She nodded and closed the door. He stepped toward it, touching the wood, and then leaned his
head against it. The same thought
returned that had played in his mind since he’d found her - she was back, she
was safe, she was with him.
He took the sheets outside and shook them.
The place needed a good airing out tomorrow.
He turned when he heard the door open.
spotted him and seemed to relax a little.
“Yeah, just getting a little of the dust outside.
But he heard the tremor in her voice.
He still had no idea what she’d been through, she hadn’t wanted to
talk yet. Rather than dwell on it,
he decided to change the subject.
“You ready for bed?”
She nodded, thankful he’d moved on.
“It’s a, uh, it’s a nice nightgown.”
She looked down at the silky green gown.
“It was my third choice.”
“I know how to behave, but it’s not always my first
inclination with a beautiful woman.”
She blushed, but smiled, “Beautiful?”
He nodded. They
looked at each other for a long moment. “So,
uh, you through in the bathroom?”
She nodded and moved out of his way.
While he was getting ready for bed, she looked around the
place. It wasn’t large.
The kitchen was compact and led into the main room.
There was a large stone fireplace with built-in bookcases on either side. The books were dated, and some were obviously Samantha’s.
There was a sofa, much too small for him to stretch out, and a couple of
chairs. The bedroom was on the
other side of the fireplace from the kitchen.
The loft was over the main room away from the kitchen. The small
bathroom, with only a shower, was off the kitchen.
A screened in porch ran the length of the house.
She hadn’t heard him come up behind her, and jumped
slightly when he touched her arm. “Sorry.
Exploring the place?”
come you’ve never mentioned it?”
“I’ve only come up here once since I returned from
England. We probably only came two
or three times since Samantha . . . “
She nodded and glanced at him. He was wearing pajamas bottoms, yellow ones, but no shirt.
“I didn’t pack for a long trip.”
“It’s okay.” She
looked away. “No TV?”
sounded miserable and she smiled. “The
reception sucks up here, and we never brought a VCR.”
“So we go on to bed?”
“Do you mind?”
“I said I didn’t. Really,
He followed her into the bedroom, allowing her to choose a
side of the bed. “Hope I don’t
snore.” He commented.
“You don’t.” She
blushed immediately, “I’ve . . . some of the places we’ve stayed had thin
It was a small bed, but they seemed to have plenty of room,
finally falling asleep with their backs to each other.
They woke entwined in the middle of the bed.
He woke first to the feelings of her warm breath on his chest once again.
Without thought he pressed his lips to the top of her head. The movement brought a sigh from her, and she cuddled in
closer though she didn’t wake.
She seemed secure, comfortable in his arms, as though this
was familiar to her. His smile
faded slightly - he wanted this woman. No,
no it was more than that. He loved
He’d avoided that thought for over a year, but now it was
there, unshakeable. They’d
learned each other in the time they had worked together, but it was when they
had been separated by the powers that be that they had . . . had bonded.
At least it was true for him. Watching
her sleep peacefully in his arms gave him hope that she felt the same.
He had never loved a woman before, and it scared him, scared
him on a deep abandonment issues level. She
was comfortable here beside him, but could she love him?
He was Spooky Mulder.
He felt his mood plummet.
She seemed to sense it, stirring in his arms. “Mulder?”
“I’m sorry.” She
didn’t know what was wrong, but he seemed upset. She moved to leave his arms, but they tightened around her
for an instant.
“Mulder, is something wrong?”
“No. I guess I
was afraid you’d be upset, you know . . . “
He indicated their positions and she seemed to realize for the first time
where they were.
He felt her sudden discomfort and allowed her to move away
He took a breath and rose from the bed, keeping his back to
her. “I’ll, uh . . . “
watched him leave the room, confused and hurt.
He seemed more himself when he found her in the living room.
“We need some supplies if we’re going to stay here.
Why don’t I run get some breakfast and things while you shower?
Maybe there’ll be hot water when I get back.”
try to leave you some water.” She
smiled and watched him disappear into the bedroom.
The smile faded when he was out of sight. What had happened? Had
she said something in her sleep?
He emerged quickly. “I
shouldn’t be long.” He didn’t
approach her, just letting himself out. She
stood undecided for a moment, then headed for the bathroom.
He had their breakfast in one hand and a grocery bag in the
other when he let himself in. He
spotted her on the couch, curled in on herself, knees drawn up to her chin.
He slipped their breakfast on the table and let the supplies fall to the
Did something happen?” He
was beside her now on the couch and after a moment’s hesitation, pulled her
against him. “Scully?”
“I’m . . . I’m okay.”
“No, you’re not. Talk
“It’s just,” she shrugged, “It’s better when
That statement caused his eyes to widen.
“I’m sorry.” She
pulled away from him and he wasn’t sure what he should do.
“I, uh, I brought you a sausage biscuit and coffee.”
reached for her coffee and forced her hands to steady.
He watched her, not sure how to help her.
They ate their breakfast, then he rose.
“I guess the hot water’s back. Mind
if I take a quick shower?”
“Course not. I’ll
put away the groceries.”
He nodded and left her.
He knew he was handling this wrong.
How did he explain that everything had changed over a year.
She hadn’t even realized she’d been gone that long.
How could she understand he’d thought about her differently since
she’d been gone? No, he needed to
put this aside. She needed
stability, security so that she could feel safe, so that she could come back
He came out of the bathroom with a towel around his waist.
He hadn’t thought to take clothes with him.
She looked up to speak, but the sight of him stopped her.
“It’s okay. Go
on.” She watched him leave her.
She was still feeling her way. A
year, she believed him, she could see that he was older, sadder.
Had he missed her? That was
stupid, they’d become friends. She
relied on him - oh god, he wasn’t taking the blame for her disappearance, was
he? Scully hurried to the door and
opened it without knocking. He
turned from her quickly and pulled up his zipper.
“I . . . I’m sorry.
I just . . . I’m sorry.” She
retreated from the room.
He threw on the cleaner of his t-shirts and hurried after
her. “Scully, its okay.”
She shook her head, “I don’t . . . “ She sank onto the
“We need to talk, Scully.”
That brought a look of fright to her eyes.
“Look, I bought the ingredients to make chili; it’s kind
of a tradition up here. Want to
help me get it started? Maybe then
we could go for a walk.”
She washed out the pot and the utensils while he got the
ingredients together. Once things
were simmering, he washed his hands and turned to her. “Go see the lake?”
He followed her outside, then led her to the lake.
Things had grown up since he had been here, but the path was still easy
to follow. He tested the dock, then
let her join him and took a seat.
She sat beside him. “It’s
“Yeah. I guess
I’d forgotten.” He looked over
at her. “Scully, we need to talk
about this, about what happened to you. We’ve
put it off long enough.”
“You want to start?”
She shook her head, “Tell me what happened.
Tell me about Duane Barry.”
He watched her for a long moment, then nodded.
He talked for a long time. He
caressed the tears from her cheeks on a couple of occasions.
She asked no questions, letting him tell it his way.
That was different, but he didn’t comment on it.
When he finally ran down, she looked up at him.
“Mom must have been . . . “
“She was devastated, but strong. She even tried to help me through it when I let her.”
She looked puzzled. “I . .
. I kinda kept to myself. I
wasn’t very good company.”
“That’s what families are for Mulder.”
“Maybe yours. I
didn’t want to intrude.”
Scully didn’t call him on it. She knew he would have retreated into himself.
“You know none of this is your fault.”
He jerked back from her, but she put her hand out, laying it
gently on his arm. “It’s true
Mulder. Duane Barry took me, some .
. . someone else took me from him. You
tried to find me. Now I’m back,
you did find me.”
“I - “
“Mulder, if you hadn’t come to the mountain that night, I
probably would have died, of exposure. I
don’t know what brought you there, but you saved my life.”
He opened his mouth to protest, but her fingers pressed
against his lips. “You saved my
“You want to tell me what happened from your side?”
The shake of her head was almost imperceptible.
She rose to her feet and brushed off her bottom.
His eyes locked on her ass for a moment before he could stop himself.
Then he scrambled to his feet as she left the dock.
He caught up with her and let his hand brush hers.
She grasped his hand though she refused to look at him.
What had happened to her?
What did she remember? He
let her into the house; they could smell the chili and once inside could hear it
“I better check on that.”
She nodded and moved past him into the bathroom.
He wanted to call her back and hold her, but he wasn’t good at that
kind of thing. Maybe this was a bad
idea. He should have taken her to
When she emerged she seemed more composed.
“The chili’s almost ready.” She
murmured something and moved past him into the living room.
He followed as she made her way to the couch.
He saw she was trembling slightly. “Are
you cold, Scully?”
She shrugged, watching her hands.
“How about a fire?”
“Do you mind?”
“Of course not. Just
relax.” He laid the fire quickly
and lit it, taking a seat at her feet. “You
should warm up now. Do you want me
to dish up the chili?”
“I should help.”
“Not this time. I’m
saving you for clean up.” He
smiled at her.
She managed to return it, but it dropped away.
He rose and headed to the kitchen.
He was back quickly with her bowl of chili and a basket of
crackers, then got his own bowl and two beers.
He wasn’t sure about the alcohol, but she needed to relax and the most
available to her were three bottles.
After a few moments, she looked over at him.
“This is good.”
“My one culinary achievement.” She managed to chuckle.
“What? You don’t believe
“I always thought the speed dial on your phone was your
“That’s cold Agent Scully.”
She actually laughed then, which brought a smile to his face.
He decided not to push things for now.
She didn’t want seconds, so he only got her another beer
when he refilled his own bowl.
“Trying to get me drunk?”
“Don’t need to, you’re already sleeping with me.”
He grinned at her.
“Yeah, right.” She
gazed into the fire.
“Scully, you know I was kidding.”
“What? Oh, I
didn’t . . . you want to know what happened.”
“Do you remember anything?”
Scully took a deep breath, “I remember everything.
That’s the problem.”
“Maybe it’ll help to talk about it.”
Instead of answering, she took a long drink from her beer
bottle. She didn’t take her eyes
from the fire. “Duane Barry was
more frightened than he was evil. He
was scared to death. He had me
bound when we got to Skyland Mountain, and he didn’t untie me, just pulled me
along. It was like he had an
appointment and he didn’t dare be late. I
couldn’t see anything different about where we were heading, but he shoved me
down and ran away from me as fast as he could.
Before I could get to my feet, there was a light - the brightest light
I’ve ever seen.
“The next thing I knew I was on a . . . I guess you could
call it a table, but it was more like an examining table in a doctor’s office.
It wasn’t padded, more molded to me.
All I could move was my head. I
couldn’t see any restraints, but I couldn’t move at all, as though I was
paralyzed. I was nude.”
She felt Mulder’s look, but didn’t meet it.
“They ran tests on me, painful tests.
I remember them all. Mulder,
I never saw them, I don’t know who, or what, was doing it.
“Then Alan came.”
“He was the man I was seeing in undergraduate school.
That’s when the scenarios, the mind games started.
I didn’t realize it, I was probably drugged.
Alan only came the one time, I guess they didn’t like him either.
Mulder flinched, he’d never heard these names, but they
obviously were men that had meant something to her. They’d been inside of her mind, and these were the men that
populated her thoughts. He
swallowed; he needed to hear this. Anyway,
this wasn’t about him.
“I’m not sure how many times they used Daniel’s image.
I didn’t know they were images at the time.”
Mulder didn’t interrupt.
“After a while, Jack was there.” Mulder winced, but she didn’t notice. “There were a couple of scenes with him, then Daniel was
This Daniel must have been very important to her.
He opened his mouth, but she continued. “Then
Daniel was gone again and there were no scenes.”
She looked over at him, “You remember, I didn’t know they were games.
When these men were with me, I just thought they were with me.”
He nodded, was she . . . apologizing?
“There were more tests then.” Her gaze went inward. He
wanted to touch her, comfort her, but wasn’t sure if that would make things
better or worse.
“Then . . . then you were there.”
couldn’t help blurting that out.
She didn’t seem to hear him. “After that all the scenarios, all the mind games were with
you.” She fell silent.
He waited for a few minutes, then moved closer to her on the couch, still
not quite touching her.
“Scully, those other men, they were your lovers?”
“But you and I . . . “
She shrugged, “The difference seemed to be that I loved
His mouth fell open at those words.
She loved him? When had she decided that?
Of course, he hadn’t admitted to himself that he loved her until she
“I’m sorry, I - “
be sorry, please don’t be sorry.”
“I didn’t understand what was going on.
I believed I was with you. I
thought we were, were growing closer.”
“Did we become lovers?”
She nodded, looking down at her feet.
“Scully, was that a bad thing?”
She looked up startled, “I was using you.”
“I’m not complaining Scully.”
She gave him a weak smile.
“What were the games?”
“We were . . . together.
Sometimes we were at work, sometimes in one of our apartments, other
places.” She fell silent again.
“How did you realize it wasn’t real?”
“One of the games . . . it was too real.”
“What happened?” She
hesitated still, and he took her hand.
That brought a thoughtful look to her face.
“I was . . . I was in labor. I
was giving birth to our baby, and the, the pain was too . . . it threw me back
to that table. You weren’t there, I could only sense them.”
She fell silent again.
“Did, did the pain go away?”
She shook her head. “They
did something to send me back into the scenario.
You were back.”
“You had the baby?”
She nodded. “Did you see
She blinked at
that. “Uh, no.
I felt the birth, but then the scenario changed.
The next game . . . there was no baby in any game after that.
Then I remembered it, and that I’d really been on that table, not with
you. Throughout the whole pregnancy
when we . . . it wasn’t real. I
started testing it then, when I could remember.
I couldn’t touch you after that, unless I concentrated.
I realized I didn’t have to speak out loud and you’d still hear me.
I guess I . . . I quit participating.
The scenarios became less and less real.”
“When you caught on, they couldn’t use you any more.
How long have you not been playing?”
“I thought it was . . . Mulder, I can’t grasp that I’ve
been gone a year.”
“It was a year, Scully.
A long year.”
She didn’t respond to that.
He tilted her face up to him. “Scully?”
“I didn’t know it was really you, in the car, in the
hotel room. That’s why I didn’t
speak, didn’t try to walk. But I
felt your arms around me, I tasted the eggs you fed me.
I felt the water in the tub when you bathed me.
When you left, to get my clothes, it didn’t stop.
That’s . . . that’s when I realized it might be real.
But you were gone, and . . . and I panicked.
I didn’t know if - “
“I’m right here Scully.
This is real and I’m not going anywhere.” He caught the tear that escaped her eye.
“Scully, that’s enough for now.
You’ve been through . . . why don’t you lie down for a little
She looked deeply into his eyes and then rose.
He had his arm around her immediately and walked her to the bedroom.
He lay her on the bed and pulled up the afghan lying at the foot of the
bed. “I’m supposed to be on
“I’ll let you off this once. Scully, you’ve been through something, I want you to
“Are you going anywhere?”
‘No. I’ll do
your chores, then I might even come join you.”
She gave him a quick smile, then rolled onto her side. He
left the room, closing the door quietly behind him.
He took the dishes into the kitchen and washed them, then
straightened up the rest of the kitchen, but his mind was racing.
They had taken her, used her, bred her.
He fell back against the counter. She
had been pregnant, she had given birth - and
they had used him to keep her . . . what? Complacent?
Why? Why had
they done this to her? He shook his
head trying to clear it. He
realized he had moved back toward the bedroom.
He opened the door quietly. She
was asleep, but seemed to be dreaming. The
need to touch her overcame him.
He slipped off his shoes and lay down beside her, spooning
around her. She seemed to sigh and
relax back against him. He let his
hand rest against her abdomen.
She woke a little later to the comfort of him around her.
“How do you feel?”
tucked a strand of hair behind her ear.
“These other men, Alan, Daniel, they were your lovers.
Jack.” She nodded.
“But it was me . . . “
She pulled his face down to her and kissed him.
She drew back quickly. “I’m
sorry. My, my memories are mixed up
with - “ His lips cut her off
“Mulder, you don’t -
“I think I started falling in love with you when you
came to my room that night in Oregon. You
were scared, but not of me. It
was a new feeling. I mean, I’d
had partners before, but none that trusted me, none that would have sought me
out. I still remember the . . . the
terror when I listened to Tom Colton tell you he would help you get away from
“I didn’t go. I
didn’t want to go.”
Mulder managed to smile. “I’m still processing that.”
Her hand came up to lightly touch his cheek, as though still
making sure he was real, solid. He
brought his lips down to hers again and this kiss continued, both participating
fully and enthusiastically. Clothing
was rearranged and discarded.
It wasn’t until her hand began fumbling with his zipper
that he pulled back. “Scully,
Scully wait. I . . .” He had to
clear his throat, “We can’t. I
don’t have any protection here.”
“You don’t carry . . . “
“Scully, the women in the videos don’t usually need
She gave him a weak smile, “But Mulder . . . “
“I, uh . . . “ He moved away from her in the bed and
tried to bring his breathing under control.
“Listen, we could use some more supplies. I know you’d like some more clothes and we need to do
laundry. We could pick up some,
some protection then.” He tried
to make it a question, could he just assume that this woman really wanted to
make love with him? Well, she was
certainly acting like . . .
“We could go now.” She
was already rising from the bed. He
looked at her startled. “We could
find a laundry and put the clothes on to wash, then get our supplies and come
“Uh, yeah.” She
had taken charge and he had no grounds for complaint. She tossed him his t-shirt.
He didn’t argue, slipping the shirt on, then helping her
gather the laundry, more than a little bemused.
He didn’t say much watching this activity on her part, his
mind still reeling from the activity he’d had to stop.
He’d never ‘shopped’ with Scully before.
She was as efficient there as with everything else she did, picking out a
couple of shirts for him as well as her own clothing.
And they looked better than what he would have chosen.
When they ended up in the pharmaceutical area, his lips
twitched watching her study the display. He
didn’t care what she picked out - hell they could be glow-in-the-dark pink if
that’s what she chose. She had
seemed to make her selection and leaned down to look.
“Scully, are you getting a dozen?” He was watching her, move boxes.
“The box of thirty-six I think.”
He gaped at her for a moment, then asked quietly.
“Scully, what if I’m not that good?”
“Then I’ll have to train you. We’ll need extras, you know, like additional ammo at the
His mind tilted at that analogy and she watched with a . . .
a different kind of smile on her face. “Mulder,
I’m not worried.”
Rather than wait on the clothes to dry, they took them back
to the house to dry in front of the fire. They
made short work of the laundry and then she was tugging him toward the bedroom.
He collapsed, pulling her on top of him, holding her close as
she came back to him.
She nodded against his chest. “You don’t need any tutoring.”
He let his finger trace her cheekbone.
“That’s good to hear.”
She was limp against him, completely relaxed, sated.
He had satisfied Dana Scully. He
thought he’d loved her before, now . . .
“You know, we could just stay here, forever.”
He murmured into her
“I could go for that right about now.”
He smiled broadly, then her eyes opened wide, remembering.
“I don’t have an apartment.”
“I do, but maybe we should get one.”
She grinned, “You think we should live together?”
“Well, we could try it out for a little while, see if you
can put up with me.”
“What’s a ‘little while’?”
“I don’t know, 60-70 years. Just long enough for you to
realize what a prize I am.”
She laughed then, “and if I already
“Even better. We
should get a two bedroom.”
“Yeah, my couch won’t go with your stuff, so we
could stick it in an office.”
“Along with your video collection?”
“Frohike’s video collections.”
“Good answer Mulder.”
She brushed her fingers through his chest hair, outlining his nipples,
wanting him again. His hiss brought
a smile to her face.
But even now, with her here, safe in his arms, he knew she
was going to need a lot more healing. The
‘games’ weren’t gone from her mind, but she was denying the implications.
He needed to be there, when that no longer worked.
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