He woke slowly and reached for her. She wasn’t in the bed. Where . . . he always woke up before she did. It was one of the highlights of his day, watching her sleep unawares. It was barely light outside. Where was she?
He rose from the bed and looked around for his boxers. He found them on the floor on her side of the bed and smiled slightly at the memory that invoked. He slipped them on and went to find her.
She was on the couch and he saw immediately that she was crying. “Scully?” He hurried toward her and she brushed away a tear. “Are you . . . did I hurt you?”
She smiled through her tears then, so typical of him to take blame.
“You never hurt me Mulder.”
He knew about a thousand ways to dispute that, but what was making her cry?
“Talk to me, Scully.”
“This has to end; I have to face my family. I have to start my life again. I’m . . . I’m afraid.”
“You won’t be alone.”
She looked at him then, “A year, Mulder. I can’t ever get that back.”
“I know,” he let a knuckle caress her cheek. “But think how happy everyone will be to see you, your mother, your family.”
“They’re not going to believe . . . we have to have some sort of explanation. I’m not telling my mother I was abducted by aliens and experimented on for a year.”
His mouth moved, but no sound emerged. They hadn’t talked about it, but she was right. No one would believe, and if they did, they’d want to test her, experiment on her themselves. Why hadn’t he thought . . . because he was too happy to have her back. And no way would he share her with any scientists that might . . . He was happy, and it was such a new, strange feeling, he hadn’t thought of anything practical.
“I’ll go with whatever you want to tell her Scully.”
“It’ll become the official story.”
“Maybe that’s for the best. You don’t need a lot of doctors or scientists poking at you for months.”
“But your proof, Mulder.”
“You’re home, you’re safe. I know the truth, I think you do. That’s enough for now. Can you understand that?”
She managed a smile, then nodded. He pulled her against him and just held her. After awhile she sat up. “I need to call Mom.”
Mulder nodded, “Maybe you better let me call her, Scully. I can prepare her a little, then put you on the phone. The shock of just hearing your voice . . . “
“Good idea. I think . . . I think we should do it now, before I lose my nerve again.”
“Dana Scully, lose her nerve? I can’t visualize that.” He kissed her forehead, and went to get his cell phone.
He pulled his car up in front of Maggie’s house. He killed the engine and looked over at her. Her hands were fisted in her lap. He placed one of his large warm hands over her icy ones. “Scully?”
He didn’t argue, it wouldn’t do any good. Instead he squeezed her hands, then let himself out and rounded the car to open her door. He took her hand and helped her from the car. They walked silently to the door, which flew open and Maggie threw her arms around her daughter. Mulder moved slightly behind Scully to make sure she wasn’t knocked off the porch.
“Come in! Oh Dana, come in, Fox, please.” Finally she realized they were still basically outside. The rest of the family waited just inside.
Dana seemed to be passed around from arm to arm, tears flowing freely. Mulder was also hugged, first by Maggie, then Melissa. The younger brother, Charlie, pumped his hand vigorously and clapped him on the back. The older brother, Bill, was more reserved, nodding from across the room. Okay . . .
Mulder found a glass of wine in his hand, as her mother gave a toast. Then they were hustled into a feast. She seemed to be doing okay, though she spent a lot of time locating him with her eyes. Bill had obviously noted that as well, because his eyes were becoming narrower and narrower as time progressed.
Charlie and Melissa included him in the conversation, but he let Scully answer most of the questions, glossing over items as ‘Bureau business in the on-going investigation’. The meal was good, but he could see the toll it was taking on her.
Apparently her mother finally noticed the strain herself. “Dana, honey, you’re worn out. I shouldn't have planned so much, but I’m just so happy.” She stopped to regain her own composure. “You should head on upstairs. I have your old room waiting. I got some of your things out of storage, but you need to let me know what you need and I’ll get it for you.”
“Mom, really, I’m not an invalid.” She glanced over at Mulder, remembering suddenly exactly where her bed was, and color came to her cheeks.
Mulder had no trouble keeping a straight face. It had hit him that she would be staying here tonight. He had to have known it, but he’d pushed the thought away.
He looked from her into the smoldering eyes of Bill Scully. What was his problem now? Did Bill know he had her bed over at his place?
“You look flushed, Dana. Really, I think you should go on up. The others can help me in the kitchen.” Maggie took Scully’s arm and moved with her toward the stairs.
Scully glanced back at Mulder, but he didn’t see. Bill did. As soon as the two women reached the top of the stairs, Bill moved.
“Mulder, listen, we appreciate what you’ve done . . . you’ll never know, but, but right now she needs family. Look, I’m sure she’ll call you in a couple of days.”
Mulder blinked, was he that dense or did he not want to get it. Bill was throwing him out. Well, hell he shouldn’t be surprised. “Uh, yeah. I understand. She, she has my number.”
Bill nodded, moving him toward the door. Mulder realized he wanted him gone before Scully returned to the room. He didn’t even want him to say goodbye. He could cause a scene, but that would upset Scully, and Maggie. He didn’t want that.
Mulder stepped out the front door and Bill shut it without another word. Well that was definitive. He moved on to his car and headed for his apartment. She’d be okay, her sister and her mother were there.
He let himself into his apartment and looked around. He hadn’t been here since his impulse to go to Skyland Mountain. He glanced over at the fish tank and sighed. He hadn’t given them a thought. He started straightening up, flushing the fish and taking the contents of his refrigerator out to the dumpster.
Returning to his apartment, alone, caused his remaining energy to leak out of him. He sank onto the couch, lonelier than before he had found her. He’d spent over a week with her sleeping over his heart; this was too abrupt, wrong.
He jerked when the phone rang. “Mulder.”
“Did I, did I do something wrong?”
“Scully? No, never.” Just the sound of her voice lifted his spirits.
“Then why did you leave without a word?” She sounded young, scared.
“Not because of you. Scully, never . . . Bill thought you needed some family time.”
“Bill. That bastard.”
“Scully, you kiss your mother with that mouth?” But he was grinning now, his world back in a correct orbit with those three words.
“I’d rather be kissing you.” She heard the deep intake of breath and smiled herself.
“Me too, but Bill does have a point.”
“On top of his head.”
“Agreed, but your mother needs some time with you. It’s been a very hard year for her.”
“Mulder . . . she made, she made a doctor’s appointment for me.”
“You knew you were going to have to - “
“Tomorrow? How - “
“A friend, we were in medical school together. She pulled the guilt strings. I don’t know if I can . . . “
“You can Scully. You can do anything.”
“Would you come?”
“Your mother - “
“I can’t let her stay with me. I’ll go in and, and convince her to leave. When she does, you can come in.”
“You want me to be spy guy?”
He could feel her relax, almost see her smile. “Think you could handle it?”
“Well, for you, I guess . . . “
“How do I sleep tonight?” She was only partially kidding now.
“Yeah, I was wondering that myself.” There was a pause then, both silent.
“Mulder, my appointment’s at nine.” She gave him the directions.
“I’ll be there.”
“Thanks.” She broke the connection then and he held the phone for a moment longer.
It had been a little difficult to convince her mother to leave the next morning, but Scully had gone into professional doctor mode and her friend, Jerry, had backed her up.
“Mrs. Scully, this is going to take several hours. I want to be thorough. I’m sure you have better things to do than read my old magazines. Dana can call you when she’s through.”
“Please Mom. Go on, I’ll feel so guilty thinking of you just sitting out here.”
“Well, if you’re sure you won’t need me . . . “
“Jerry will take very good care of me, Mom.”
“Well there are some errands . . . All right, but you call me and I’ll come pick you up. Fox got me a cell phone, so use that.”
Scully smiled, “Mulder did that?”
“He wanted to be able to reach me, in the beginning. Then he thought it would be safer for me to have one, driving and all.”
Scully nodded, yes, Mulder would think of that. She suddenly couldn’t wait for her mother to leave so that he could join her.
“I promise, Mom. Now go on, so we can get started.”
Maggie kissed her daughter’s cheek. “I’m just so happy to have you home safe.”
“Me too, Mom. Don’t worry about me. Go on and I’ll call you.”
She watched her mother leave the office.
“Dana, come on.”
“Just a minute.” She was watching the door, waiting. He would wait for her mother to be out of sight. In less time than she imagined, he walked in. When he spotted her, he smiled and she took hold of the counter to support herself.
He was beside her in two steps. “You okay?” He took hold of her arm, his other arm going around her.
“I am now.” She whispered.
“Dana, who . . . ?”
“This is Fox Mulder, my . . . my partner. He’s here with me.”
Jerry absorbed this for a minute. “Okay, follow me.”
Mulder waited in the hall while she changed, but was allowed back in while blood was drawn and her vitals taken. He sat with her while she waited and stepped outside only during the actual physical.
He returned when the nurse stuck her head out and invited him to return. Jerry patted Scully’s knee. “I had them rush the tests. Why don’t you get dressed, then wait in my office? It shouldn’t be long.” Mulder didn’t know the man, but there was something in his expression . . .
“Hey, I remember your mother’s cooking.” He seemed to force a grin in Mulder’s opinion, then let himself out.
“He, uh, he’s had your mother’s cooking?”
She looked over at him at the tone in his voice. “Everyone at med school knew Mom’s cooking. You have no reason to worry.”
He tilted his head and shrugged. “Yeah, okay.”
She shook her head, smiling. “Could you hand me my clothes?”
“What’s the fun in that?” He mock cringed at the eyebrow and handed her the neat stack of clothing.
“Are you going to watch me dress?”
“Thought I would. It’ll be a nice contrast to what I’ve been familiar with.”
She tried to look stern, but the innocent look on his face foiled her. She turned from him and dropped the robe.
Jerry glanced over at Mulder, Mulder had that uneasy feeling again. “Dana, are you sure - “
“I want Mulder here.” Scully reached over and took Mulder’s hand. “Please, Jerry.”
He sighed, “Your blood work appears normal; of course you could run more in-depth tests. I can send the samples off - “
“No.” Mulder and Scully spoke together.
Jerry blinked, but changed subjects. “Physically you’re in good shape, of course, being in good shape when you were . . . taken helps there.” He rose then and came around the desk. He perched on the edge of his desk then and looked down at Scully. “Dana, what happened to the baby?”
Mulder stiffened instantly. He started to interrupt but she spoke first. “What baby? What are you . . . “
“Dana, the exam, the physical exam showed that you’ve given birth recently. I would say full term, a vaginal delivery. Dana?”
Mulder had seen the color drain from her face, and even seated, reacted quicker than Jerry, catching her as she slid from the chair. He laid her gently on the carpet as Jerry dashed to his desk for an ammonia capsule. He broke it under her nose and she jerked, resisting it. “I’ll get a nurse.”
“No! Don’t call anyone. Scully, can you hear me?”
“Mulder.” Her lips formed the word, but she made no sound.
“I’m right here.”
“Get me out of here.”
He nodded. “Doctor, may I take her home?”
“I . . . there’s no reason to keep her.”
“Fine. Is everything in that file?”
“I beg your pardon?”
“This information, her tests, they’re private, right?”
“Uh, yes of course - patient confidentiality.” Jerry stuttered.
“Okay.” Mulder helped her back into the chair, then picked up the file.
“Wait a minute.”
“This is hers. Dr. Scully would like for this to remain confidential while we, while we investigate it.” He tucked the file into the waistband of his slacks, under his suit coat. Then he lifted her to her feet.
“Mom?” She whispered.
“I’ll call her.” He turned to Jerry again, “Do you have anything to help her relax?”
Jerry hesitated an instant; things had gotten out of his control quickly. “Yes.” He pulled a sample pack from his desk. “Just one, every eight hours. These will knock her out completely.”
Mulder nodded, slipping the packet into his inside coat pocket. “Is there a back way?”
“Yes, follow me.” Jerry led them to the back, Mulder supporting her small frame nearly completely. As he opened the door, Jerry put his hand on Scully’s arm. “Dana, if you need to talk . . . “
She nodded, but didn’t speak. Mulder murmured his thanks and led her down the stairs. He seated her in his car, then hurried to get in himself and pulled out.
“I’m taking you to my place, Scully.”
She nodded, her eyes closed and lay her head against her window. They drove in silence then. She didn’t move, or have any reaction when he parked outside of his building. He carefully opened her door and squatted beside her.
“We’re here, Scully. Do you want me to carry you?”
She shook her head but allowed him to assist her from the car. He took her inside and seated her on the couch. “Scully?”
She shook her head, not wanting, not able to talk now. “You should be lying down.”
“I’ll call her when I get you settled.” She didn’t protest, allowing him to move her like a large doll. He sat her on the side of the bed and removed her shoes, then lay her gently back and pulled the sheet over her. He pulled out the pills the doctor had given him and popped one out of the cellophane. “I’ll get you some water.” He returned quickly and she swallowed the little capsule. She was quiet, so he placed a soft kiss on her brow then returned to the living room and picked up the phone.
“Maggie, it’s - “
“Fox! Is she okay?”
“I think she’s just a little overwhelmed with, with being home, seeing everybody.”
“She’s with you?”
“Yes. She wants to stay here for a while, a couple of days, just until she feels more herself.”
“May I talk to her?”
“She’s asleep right now, Maggie. I’ll . . . I’ll have her call you when she wakes up.”
“She’s not okay, is she Mulder?” She had learned a little about this man over the past year.
“No. I think what’s she’s been through is, is more than she can talk about right now.”
“You’ll look after her.”
Maggie sighed, “Have her call me Fox.”
“I will, but you try not to worry. She’s here and she’s safe.”
“Thank you for calling me.” Maggie hung up without saying goodbye and he glanced over at the bedroom door as he did the same. He’d told the truth.
With her resting, he didn’t want to disturb her, but his place definitely wasn’t worthy of company right now. He decided to change out of the suit and finish what he had started.
He was actually dusting his desk, a chore that he had not done in the span of his memory, when the pounding started on his door. What the hell? He didn’t want her rest disturbed, so he hurried to the door and opened it. Bill shoved his way in and Mulder shook his head.
“Where is she?”
“Lower your voice. She’s asleep in there.” He motioned toward the bedroom.
“She doesn’t belong here. I’m taking her home.”
“Bill, leave her alone for a little while. She needs some time.”
“What she doesn’t need is you. If she hadn’t become your partner, none of this would have happened to her, her life wouldn’t have been disrupted. Hell, she’d have probably gone back to medicine by now. But she didn’t want to disappoint you, let you down. And you just let her go along. You son a bitch.” Mulder didn’t have time to duck the fist that smashed into his jaw. He stumbled back and shook his head. Out of the corner of his eye he saw the bedroom door open.
Bill advanced on him and the second blow struck Mulder in the stomach, knocking the breath out of him and sending him to his knees.
“Bill! No!” Scully was between them now, her hands on Bill’s chest, shoving him back.
“You’re coming home with me Dana. You don’t need to be - “
“Shut up. Shut up! SHUT UP!” She had punctuated each statement by shoving Bill backwards toward the door. She screamed the last one, out of control now and Bill stumbled back, suddenly frightened by her state of mind. Her next shove pushed him out into the hall and before he could move, she slammed the door in his face and flipped the deadbolt, then leaned her back against the door and slid to the floor.
Mulder shook off his stupor then and scrambled to his feet to get to her side. She was breathing as heavily as he was and let her eyes close as his arms went around her. “Scully?”
She shook her head and burrowed into his chest. “Come on, back to bed.” He lifted her into his arms and carried her back to his room. She was shaking now, so he reclined next to her and spooned around her. “Relax, Scully. I’m right here. Bill’s gone and you need to calm down. Come on.” He gentled her, stroking her arm while holding her tight against his body.
The shaking finally did begin to abate and he was able to draw a steadier breath himself. He didn’t know if she was asleep until she spoke.
“I’m sorry Bill hit you.” Her voice was flat, dead.
“Scully, don’t worry about it. You know I can take a punch. He needed to hit something.”
“He didn’t have to hit the man I . . .” She went silent again.
“I was available. Put it out of your mind, Scully.”
“And what should I think about instead?” She shivered slightly.
He didn’t have a ready answer for that one, just holding her against his body. “You should be asleep. That pill - “
“It’s not working. I guess I’ve had so many drugs over the last year that it’s not strong enough.”
He kept quiet, but kissed the nape of her neck.
“It was real, the pregnancy in the game.”
“You knew.” She sounded more tired than accusing.
“I suspected, from what you said.”
“What I said?”
“The . . . the pain was so bad it threw you back to the table. You felt the birth, then you were back in the game, with me.”
She nodded, “I did say that. I just didn’t hear it.”
“You weren’t ready to hear it, you still aren’t.” He realized she had started to cry.
“I remember the game. You were so excited about the pregnancy, so happy. We’d been wanting it, trying and, and when it happened . . . “ She broke into sobs then and he could only hold her, let her cry herself out.
She turned toward him, burying her face in his chest and crying as though she would never stop, her heart shattered. It hit him suddenly that she had wanted this, wanted a family - with him.
Those weren’t dreams he had ever explored. He really hadn’t considered ever jumping into the gene pool. Why would he want to subject an innocent child to the kind of life he’d had? And his adolescent fantasies about his partner - he’d never allowed those to spill over into more mature areas.
Now, though, now he was thinking about it. To have this woman carry his child, grow round and full, to feel a child of his move inside of her . . . he felt a hunger deep in his heart he’d never known. With her, with Scully, there was a, a feeling of . . . no! Stop it now. This was ridiculous, after what she’d been through, been subjected to, to even hint at a fleeting desire such as this was madness.
He shoved the fledgling yearning away. He had to be focused on her, her needs were all that mattered.
He realized her tears were tapering off into hiccupping breaths and saw that her eyes were closed. Maybe she was getting a little rest finally. She needed it. The shock this morning had been the final straw.
When he was sure she was fully asleep, he slipped out of the bed carefully. He slipped off his soaked t-shirt and tenderly dried her face a little before pulling up the covers and, at the last minute, leaving the t-shirt beside her. She seemed to sigh and rested her face against it.
For some reason that action brought tears to his own eyes. He stood watching her for a moment, then forced himself away, snagging a dry shirt from the pile of clean, but unfolded laundry in the basket at the foot of the bed.
He let himself out of the bedroom, leaving the door slightly cracked. He stumbled to the couch and sank onto it. He’d shoved it aside since the thought had formed at the cabin. They had bred her, forced her to carry some sort of alien or, or hybrid inside of her, and keeping her complacent by using an image of him.
She said he’d been happy, excited about the baby. Did she know, could he ever tell her that he would have been? He let his face sink into his hands.
He didn’t know how long he sat like that. The phone shattered the silence and he grabbed it before it could wake her. “Mulder.”
“Agent Mulder, word has it that you have located Agent Scully.” The words were correct, but the tone was icy, barely covering the underlying fury.
“Assistant Director Skinner.”
“Nice of you to remember me. I thought maybe you’d forgotten about the Bureau completely.”
“Uh, no sir.”
“When did you find her?”
“Sir, let me explain.”
“Yes, why don’t you do that. I want you and Agent Scully in my office in an hour.”
“Sir, we can’t. I mean, she can’t. I . . . I can’t leave her alone. I was planning to bring you up to date on Monday when I returned.”
“What do you mean, ‘she can’t’? She had dinner with her family last night and appeared fine.”
“Appeared, sir. It was too much for her.”
“What’s wrong with her?” Skinner’s voice had lost the booming command now.
“I . . . post traumatic stress would be my diagnosis, sir.”
There was silence on the other end, as Skinner suddenly remembered he was talking to a Ph.D. in psychology. “What, uh, what treatment . . . ?”
“Right now she needs rest. She needs to feel secure -”
“Is she with you?” Skinner interrupted.
"Uh, yeah. She's at my apartment. She's, she's sleeping right now."
"Okay." Skinner paused. "Be in my office first thing Monday morning."
"Yes sir." But the connection had already been broken.
Who had called him? Before the question fully formed, he knew. Bill. Friggin’ son of a . . . Okay, he could understand Bill's hatred of him. He knew Bill had had him checked out when Scully had been taken. It was to Maggie's credit that she hadn't just taken her oldest son's word for it that Scully's disappearance was all his fault. But didn't he realize he was hurting her?
He looked over at the door. The problem was, it was all his fault. They'd been separated, the X-Files closed down. She could have, would have been safe if he'd stood firm, kept her away. But he hadn't, he'd called on her, asked for her help. At first that had been his excuse. He hadn't admitted to himself until she was gone that he'd called her because he couldn't stay away. He loved her even then, he just hadn't recognized it. Why should he, it had never happened before.
He didn't realize it was really her standing in the door for a moment. She was so still watching him. His head went up when she moved toward him.
"Scully, you should - "
She sat beside him on the couch and brushed the tears from his cheeks. When had he started crying?
"Mulder, just hold me."
Without a word he pulled her into his lap and held her close.
"Stop blaming yourself."
"I've been, I've been with you for the past year. I'm pretty good at reading your moods now."
He managed a half smile that faded immediately. Rather than pursue that, he changed tactics. "You missed lunch, you need to eat something."
"Mulder, I - "
"I can't fix a meal like last night's, but you need to eat something. Maybe some soup."
He kissed her forehead, then moved her to the couch and rose. He picked up the phone and handed it to her. "Three on the speed dial is the Chinese place."
She gave him a wan smile, "Three huh? What's two?"
"The pizza guy."
She nodded, "How about one?"
"That's your apartment."
She blinked at that. "You never reprogrammed it?"
He shrugged, "I couldn't."
She looked at him for a long moment, then, "You're in love with me, aren't you."
"Yeah, I am." He stated it simply, watching her face.
"When did you decide this?"
"It wasn't a decision as much as a realization."
"Yeah, about a week after you, after you disappeared, I went back to Skyland Mountain. Duane Barry was dead, the trail was ice cold. I just felt the need to . . ." He shrugged. Her eyes grew moist again at the visual that brought up for her. "You know, it's exactly what I did a week ago and . . . and this time you were there."
After a moment he shook himself, "You order dinner, I'll put some tea on, okay?"
She nodded and watched him walk into the kitchen.
She joined him in a couple of minutes. "Food's on the way."
"Mulder, do you have anything I could change into?" She looked down at the outfit she'd slept in.
"Uh, yeah, bottom drawer of my dresser. There're some of your clothes."
She looked up, "My clothes?" He nodded. "Do you want to tell me how some of my clothes ended up in your drawer?"
"No." He said simply. After a moment she nodded and retreated to the bedroom. No, he didn't want to get into that right now. Probably never. He puttered around in the kitchen, putting the tea in a pitcher and into the refrigerator to cool. He was startled at the knock on his door, that was quick, even for Lin Poo.
"Scully, my wallet's on the dresser."
He opened the door, expecting to see his diminutive buddy Lin, instead there stood the imposing bald figure of Walter Skinner.
"Assistant Director." He just stood there, unmoving.
"May I come in?"
"Oh, sure." He stepped back to allow him in, then realized that Skinner's eyes were focused past him. He turned to see Scully standing in the doorway. She was wearing her jeans that she'd found in the drawer, but the shirt was his and she obviously had nothing on under it. He felt a surge of . . . something that Skinner had just as obviously noticed that fact as well.
Skinner stepped toward her. "Agent Scully, it's very good to see you." His eyes were taking in her appearance carefully, not just the fact that her breasts were free under Mulder's t-shirt. She was pale, her eyes were still slightly red as though from a long bout of tears. She'd lost weight and it was clear she'd been through . . . something.
"It's good to be home, sir."
"Sir?" Mulder drew his attention. "I said I'd report to you Monday - "
"This isn't official. I just wanted to see for myself that she was okay."
"What did Bill say to you?"
Scully's head came up at those words, her eyes showing her surprise. Skinner didn't bother to deny it. "He's concerned about his sister, concerned there might be undue influence on her at a time when she's vulnerable."
Mulder turned to her then. "Scully, am I pressuring you to stay here?"
She didn't bother answering him, just turning to Skinner. "I don't suppose Bill mentioned that he was here and that he physically assaulted Mulder."
"Scully - "
"Or that I asked Mulder to come get me following a doctor's appointment."
"No. He didn't mention either detail."
Scully seemed to shrink a little then, "I need to call Mom."
The knock on the door startled them all. Mulder answered it to Lin's smiling face. "You got company tonight, huh Big Guy. About time." He nodded at Mulder.
Mulder couldn't stop the grin. He hadn't realized Lin was keeping up with his social life. "Yeah, very special company. This better be your best stuff."
"Always for you Mudder."
Mulder rolled his eyes and took the wallet from Scully, then doubled his normal tip. Lin's eyes widened. "Hey missy, you come back any time," he called as Mulder shut the door.
The interruption had lightened the mood; even Skinner was grinning. "Sir, won't you join us?" Scully offered.
"Oh no, I just - "
"Please. There's plenty and I need to see people, get my bearings."
Skinner looked over at Mulder, who nodded. "Well, thank you."
They didn't stand on ceremony, Mulder put him to work, dishing up the food, while Scully poured tea. Skinner entertained them with some stories of things that had happened around the Bureau while she had been gone and had her laughing shortly. Mulder smiled, delighted with her mood.
"How come I hadn't heard about that?" Mulder asked, urging Scully to take some more vegetables.
"Because you had your head stuck in the basement and only came up for air on my orders."
"The basement?" Scully looked between the two. "The X-Files?"
"Mulder didn't tell you?" Skinner looked at the younger man. "I had them reopened when . . . "
Scully absorbed that. "You've been working on the X-Files. Who's your partner?"
"Don't have one."
"What happened to Krycek?"
The look on Mulder's face caused her to regret her words instantly. "He’s, uh missing. He was working against me, us. He kept me from getting to you in time. He killed the tram operator and hasn't been seen since."
Scully met his eyes and Skinner realized that a great deal of information had been passed between the two during that silent moment. Bill Scully was a fool, if she was going to heal, this was the place she needed to be.
Scully passed out the fortune cookies - Skinner opened his first and read aloud, "Your life is about to become very interesting." He groaned lightly and looked over at Mulder who just shrugged.
"My turn." Scully broke hers open. "No need for a long trip, what you seek is right here." She wouldn't look up, but nodded to herself.
Mulder chose between the remaining two and cracked it. "Now is the time to recognize the love that's always been there and appreciate it." He glanced up at her and away. Skinner was still there.
Skinner cleared his throat, "They sound rigged to me. What 's in the last one?"
"You check." Scully handed it to him. He read it and grinned. "What?"
"You like Chinese food."
"You're kidding." Mulder reached for it and Skinner surrendered it to him. "Damn."
"Looks like we each picked the right cookie tonight. Well, " Skinner pressed his napkin to his lips. "I appreciate the dinner, but I need to get going." He rose and reached for his plate.
"We'll take care of that." Scully stopped him. "I appreciate you coming over to check on me."
"I wanted to do it. Now if anyone asks about you, I can give a personal report. Mulder, enjoy the rest of your leave and I'll see you on Monday."
"Yes sir." He walked Skinner to the door as Scully gathered up the silverware.
"I'll give Bill a call. She looks like she'll be okay."
"I'm glad you came over. It's going to take some time."
Skinner nodded and Mulder let him out, then rejoined Scully. "You doing okay?"
"Yes. I'm glad he stayed. It was a nice respite from . . . "
Mulder nodded, "maybe you ought to go stay at his place."
"No," she smiled gently and touched his cheek. 'I need your arms around me to sleep."
He shook his head slightly, still having trouble believing her, believing in her. "Scully, you can't put off calling your mother any longer."
She looked down at her hands for a moment, then nodded without facing him.
"I'll give you some privacy."
She looked up quickly and started to say something, then changed her mind. She walked over to the couch and picked up the phone. He moved into the kitchen, he could still hear her, but at least she had some space.
"Mom, I'm . . . I'm going to be okay. I just . . . I'm sorry. No, Mom, I . . .. I need to stay here. Because he makes me feel safe."
He stopped, stunned, nearly dropping the tea pitcher. He closed his eyes and leaned against the counter. He made her feel safe. How the hell . . . she should be at her mother's, she should be with Bill. They could keep her safe, not him.
He didn't hear her hang up, and jerked when she touched his hand. "Mulder? What?"
He didn’t respond and her arm went around him. “Come lay with me until I go to sleep.” He nodded and allowed her to pull him into the bedroom. She took the bathroom first, while he changed in the room.
When she emerged he could see she’d been crying again, but didn’t want to talk about it. While she settled in, he took over the bath. He emerged quietly to find her face buried in her pillow to muffle her sobs.
“I’m sorry, I - “
“No. Don’t . . . Scully you have to grieve.”
“Mulder, is there anyway . . . “
“What?” He brushed back her hair and kissed her forehead.
“We’d never be able to find my baby, could we?”
The question stunned him. It hadn’t really reached the surface of his mind to try. The baby, hell it could only be half human, right? “I, I don’t know Scully. I hadn’t . . . Don’t think about it tonight. Let me worry about it in the morning. Just rest for now, try to sleep. Do you want another pill?”
She nodded, not speaking. She cuddled in as he got it for her, then settled into his arms. It seemed to work better this time. Her even breathing let him know when the capsule took effect. Part of him wished he’d taken one as well.
His mind was racing - she wanted to find her child. He understood that on some level. She would have bonded with it while it was still in her womb, but what was it? And where the hell would he start? Shit, was he really considering this? He could lose his mind this way.
He shoved it aside when he realized she was crying again. She wasn’t awake, but even her dreams brought her pain. He held her against him, murmuring soothing sounds until the crying ended.
It was repeated throughout the night. He would nap occasionally, but mostly held her.
She was watching him when he woke that morning. “Scully?”
She ignored the implied question, “Did you get any sleep?”
“Enough. You want some coffee?”
“I think I’d like a shower first.”
“Sure, I’ll see what I have for breakfast. Once again the cupboards are bare.” He gave her a tender kiss and rose. “Save me some hot water?”
“I’ll try.” But she managed a tiny smile.
She joined him in the kitchen shortly, her hair slicked back and wearing a robe he’d forgotten he owned. Scully took a sip of the coffee and sighed. There were circles under her eyes, but also a determined air he hadn’t seen before.
He started to mention it when they heard the knock on the door. “Great.” He muttered and moved to open it. He was surprised to find Charlie, her younger brother standing there.
“Hi, uh, may I come in?”
“Depends,” Scully answered. “Are you here to punch him out too?”
Charlie’s eyes took in the large man standing quietly in front of him. “Is it mandatory?”
Mulder’s lips twitched then and he motioned the younger man in.
Charlie looked between the two, then placed a suitcase near the door. “Were you kidding? Is this some sort of initiation?”
“Just forget it.” Mulder advised, but Charlie’s eyes grew round.
“Bill? Oh god, did Bill . . . that son of . . . “ He shook his head. “Mulder, one thing you need to know - I ain’t Bill.”
“I got that.” Mulder glanced down at the suitcase. “You moving in too?”
“You offering?” Charlie grinned. They both saw Scully cross her arms and her eyes narrow. “Guess not. Actually, Mom thought you could use these things.”
Scully’s arms dropped to her side at those words and her eyes grew moist again. “Damn.” She muttered as she dashed the tears away. “Is she angry with me?”
“No Dana, part of her understands, but she does need to see you. Could you, maybe have dinner with her tonight, just the two of you?”
“He has a flight out this afternoon. He won’t be there.” He took in the relaxation in her posture. “Hey, who is Walter Skinner anyway?”
“Skinner?” Mulder looked surprised, then a smile began to grow on his face.
“Skinner called him?” Scully looked over at Mulder and saw the smile. The wonder in his smile finally penetrated and her own eyes lightened. “He’d do that for us?”
“For you.” Mulder said.
Charlie was watching both of them, and finally decided to join in. “So, does this mean you’ll come to dinner?”
After a moment she nodded.
Mulder took a deep breath, “I’ll take you over, then if you want to stay - “
“No. I’ll go for dinner, but I want to come home afterward.”
His eyes seemed to eat her up. Home? This was home? She blushed as she heard her own words. “I . . .”
“No problem. I’ll pick you up.”
Charlie was just observing these two. It was incredible. Even he and Mary weren’t like them. He really needed to get to know this guy.
“Uh, listen, since I’m being thrown out due to this dinner, maybe you and I could grab a beer or something.”
Mulder blinked, caught off guard by the suggestion.
“You don’t have to worry. You can probably take me, and you are armed.”
Mulder turned to Scully. “Do I want to have a beer with this guy?”
She rolled her eyes, “I guess he’d be my choice of the two.”
“You’re a real peach, Sis.”
“Anytime. You want some coffee?”
Charlie nodded and followed her into the kitchen while Mulder took the suitcase into the bedroom.
He pulled up in front of the familiar house and parked. "Scully?"
She took his hand. She'd been very meticulous applying her makeup and he knew she didn't want to cry again, not right now, so he kept quiet. He let himself out and opened her door. She didn't take his hand or attempt to get out. He squatted beside the door and looked at her.
"I can do this. You'll be back by eight."
"Seven if you want." He smiled at her.
She gave a mild chuckle and looked down at her hands. "No, eight will be okay." Scully took a deep breath and took his hand to get out of the car.
"I have my phone Scully."
She nodded and they walked to the door. He knocked and very quickly Maggie opened the door. Her eyes were worried, but welcoming and she gestured them inside.
"Mom, I - "
"I'm glad you felt up to coming, Dana. Let's just have a nice evening, with less stress this time, okay?"
Charlie joined them in the living room and gave Dana a quick hug, then looked over at Mulder. He seemed unsure about leaving, giving the impression of hovering slightly. Scully didn't seem to notice, or mind.
"Fox?" Maggie looked up at him. "I won't hurt her."
His eyes widened, "Oh, Maggie, I - "
"I appreciate how protective you are, don't worry about it."
"Yeah, well I guess . . . "
"Come on Mulder," Charlie spoke up, "they'll probably forget we were even here." He moved toward the door.
Mulder gave Scully the once over lightly, then gave her a chaste kiss on the lips and followed Charlie out to the car. He got in and buckled up, then took a deep breath.
"She'll be okay, Mulder."
"I know." He started the car and they moved off.
Mulder drove to a bar not that far from Maggie's home and pulled in. Charlie was watching him, trying to get a take on this very different man. He followed Mulder in and they took a booth, ordering two beers.
"What's good to eat here?"
Mulder gave him a slight grin, "Best cheeseburgers in DC." His grin widened when he saw the lust in Charlie's eyes.
"You won't tell Mary?"
"My lips are sealed."
They ordered two cheeseburgers and a large order of fries, then Charlie sat back. "Let's get this over with, okay?"
Mulder looked up and Charlie caught the caution in his eyes.
"You know more about what happened to Dana than you're saying."
Mulder made no comment.
"I know you can't go into it, but is my sister going to be okay?"
"I hope so."
Not the answer Charlie wanted. "Is there anything I can do?"
"Just what you're doing. It's going to take some time."
Charlie's eyes searched his and finally he nodded. The waitress placed their meals in front of them and left. Charlie picked up a French fry, "How long have you been in love with Dana?"
Mulder tensed immediately, but it was a friendly question, the tone non-accusing. Charlie pushed the fries closer to him and continued to wait.
"That obvious?" Mulder finally asked.
"As obvious as the nose on your face."
Mulder grimaced slightly, "that obvious?"
Charlie chuckled, "Yeah, that obvious." He finally took a bite of his cheeseburger and sighed. "Mary would flog me if she saw me eating this much cholesterol. You and I should date more often."
Mulder coughed and took a swig of beer.
"You didn't answer my question, Mulder."
"From the moment she walked into my office. I just didn't know it then."
Charlie nodded. They visited, both keeping an eye on the time. It was clear to Charlie that this man's need to return to Dana's side was as great as her need for him to do so. He did nothing to slow them down and they pulled up in front of Maggie's house at 7:58 p.m.
"You always this punctual, Mulder?"
Now that they were actually here, Mulder had relaxed slightly and he grinned at him, "Don't tell Skinner I managed it."
Charlie nodded and they headed for the door.
Both women seemed calm, though the red eyes and scatted tissue spoke of a long talk. Mulder hesitated at the entrance to the living room. Scully rose and approached him, her arm going around his waist.
"I'm tired Mulder, could you take me home?"
He immediately glanced over at Maggie, who gave him a slight nod.
"Sure." Scully felt the tension leave his body.
Charlie and Maggie saw them to the door and after good nights all around he settled her into the car. They were quiet on the way back to his place, but comfortably so.
She got ready for bed even though it was extremely early and he joined her; he'd stay with her until she fell asleep.
Scully curled in next to him and began speaking as though picking up from a conversation they had already begun. "I didn't tell her about the baby, Mulder." His arms cradled her a little tighter. "We talked about being gone so long and . . . and some of the tests, physical and mental. And you. She knows I'm holding back, that I couldn't . . . "
"I'm sure she understands."
Scully nodded, "I think she does." They were quiet again; so long this time that Mulder thought she had fallen asleep. Then, quietly, "I want to go back to work."
He stiffened slightly, this was the one area where he and Bill agreed, but before he spoke, "I understand why you joined Mulder. It's the best resource to locate your sister. I need to go through the files."
"Scully - "
"Please help me, Mulder, please."
He closed his eyes and pulled her closer, kissing her forehead. She gave a small sigh of relief and closed her own eyes.
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Mulder, Scully, the Lone Gunman and Skinner all belong to Chris Carter,10-13 and Fox. No infringement intended.