Title - Lives Incomplete
Author - Donna
Email address - donnah@d...
URL - http://www.donnas-stories.com/
Rating - PG-13
Category - MSR, angst, AU
Spoilers - Emily
Keywords - MSR, angst, AU
Summary - Sequel to Offspring
Feedback - Please
Archive - Anywhere, just let me know so that I can visit
Disclaimer - Mulder, Scully, the Lone Gunmen and Skinner all belong to Chris Carter, 10-13 and Fox. No infringement intended.
Author's note - As always my deepest gratitude to Marianne for the beta, and for this one many thanks go out to Tali for poking me for so long to get it finished.
"You need any help, Mister?"
God, he must really look bad if the cab driver was worried about him. "I'm okay, thanks." He managed to manipulate himself out of the cab and leaned heavily on the cane to make his way to the building. He pulled his jacket closer. Most people would probably think it was brisk, with a promise of fall in the air, but he just felt cold. It wasn't only the temperature; he was well aware of that.
It was Samantha all over again, and he was too old now to come back from it. His son, Scully's son, was gone. He'd promised Scully he wouldn't go after them, but he had to look. He couldn't survive without trying.
No keys, so he tapped on the manager's door. "Yeah, what's - Mr. Mulder. How, uh, how you doing?" The overweight man's assessment after a quick scan showed his opinion.
"Healing." Mulder replied. "I wondered if you could let me in. No key."
"Oh sure. Just let me grab my master. You wanna sit down?"
"No, I'm okay." He did ease himself against the door frame when the man turned away.
They made their slow way to the elevator and rode up in silence. The super unlocked the door. "It, it hasn't been cleaned, Mr. Mulder. The police had it sealed off and then you were so . . . "
"I understand. I'll have to decide what to do."
The older man nodded and opened the door, letting Mulder in. "Listen, if you need anything . . . "
Mulder nodded, though he didn't look at him. "I'll need to call a cab in a little while."
"That's fine. You just come down and use my phone." He still hesitated.
"Thanks." Mulder nodded as he held the door. The man turned and left him alone.
Mulder looked around the room. He swallowed, Scully hadn't exaggerated. The place was totally destroyed. He glanced over at his couch, it was flipped over, but he couldn't tell if it had been slashed. There was no way he could turn it back over himself. His computer was gone and his TV had been smashed. He picked his way carefully around the debris and moved toward the bedroom. Every drawer had been pulled from the dresser and his clothes tossed around. The mattress was half on, half off the springs. They'd been thorough in their search to make sure every trace of the child, their child, had been erased.
He opened the closet. His suits were on the floor, but he couldn't tell if they had been destroyed or just tossed.
He shouldn't have come here. There was no evidence. If Scully and the guys couldn't find anything . . . but he'd needed to see it. He eased himself down on the mattress. The feeling of hopelessness sapping his remaining strength.
He didn't know how long he sat there, but he was stiff when he finally decided to move. He should take some clothes, underwear, then he'd have an excuse to have come here.
He made it to his feet and gathered the things he could into a small bag. The super came to the door quickly this time and invited him in. He did take the seat to wait for the cab. He'd come to very near the end of his stamina.
He forced himself back into her building, willing himself not to collapse on the way. He had his new key to her place in his hand when the door flew open.
Her face was stricken, "Damn it, Mulder, where have you been?"
He let her take the bag and help him to the couch. He had used the last of his strength.
"What the hell did you think you were doing? Where have you been?"
"Scully - "
To his shock, she burst into tears.
"Scully, I, I'm sorry. I thought I'd be back before you . . . "
"Before I got home? Is that what you were going to say? Just sneak out and - "
"Scully, I wasn't sneaking - " her look stopped him. "I had to see the place. It is my apartment. It's where we lived with . . . "
She looked away then, and after a moment, rose from the couch.
"Scully." He reached out and caught her hand. "I didn't mean to scare you, or hurt you. I just . . . " he shrugged.
"You need to lie down." Her voice was shaky, but she was turning to her doctor act.
"I'm not sure I can move that far." He tried to smile at her, but she didn't return it.
Shit, he'd hurt her. That hadn't been his plan. He really had thought he could get over there and back before she knew he was gone. She should be at work.
He hated it, but needed her assistance rising from the couch. He wasn't improving like he wanted. His mental state had a lot to do with it, though that hadn't been said aloud. His depression was a major factor now.
He made a stop in the bathroom, then sank gratefully onto her bed. He removed his t-shirt. She removed his shoes and he lay back, closing his eyes.
"I didn't mean to scare you, Scully." He spoke from behind his closed lids.
"Is that why you slipped out while I was a work? I called and you didn't answer. You don't have a cell phone, I didn't know if you'd - "
When she fell silent he opened his eyes.
After a moment she looked away. "Did you find anything?"
"Other than destruction? No. I couldn't do a lot of cleaning."
"I'll take care of that."
He shrugged, "I can hire someone. It needs to be ready so you can throw me out."
"I'm not . . . there's no hurry."
"Thanks, but I'm in the way here. That couch can't be all that comfortable." He fell silent then.
"Did you eat lunch?"
He shook his head.
"It's a little early, but I'll fix us some dinner - "
"Scully, I'm not hungry."
"Maybe not, but you need to eat. Rest now. I'll wake you when it's ready."
"Scully - "
But she was already moving away from him. They weren't communicating and it was making things worse. Her guilt over not looking for their son was destroying her and he wasn't helping. He didn't blame her, truly he didn't, but he couldn't seem to get her to see that. They were dancing around each other, neither able to break away, but not able to connect either.
He felt damaged, unworthy of her. He hadn't been able to keep their son safe. Just like he hadn't been able to keep Samantha safe. Yes, on some level he knew that he couldn't have defeated them. He'd been outnumbered and they were professionals. It didn't help.
He couldn't stay awake any longer, letting his weakness pull him under.
She let him sleep for over an hour, but he didn't feel rested when she tapped on the door. "Scully? You don't have to knock on your own door."
"I know, I just . . . dinner's ready."
"Okay, thanks." He started to rise, but she moved to the bed.
"Just stay there. I'm going to bring you a tray. I just wanted to make sure you were awake."
"You don't have to - " She had already left the room. He closed his eyes. This couldn't go on.
When she returned with the tray, he was sitting up. "Where's yours?"
"You don't mind if I join you?"
"Scully, stop it. I'm in your apartment, your bed, eating your food. Don't do this. It's like you think you owe me - "
"I do." She said simply.
"Please go get your dinner and join me." He said quietly, not wanting to argue now.
They ate their dinner in silence, though she did sit beside him on the bed. "That was good, Scully."
She took the tray and started toward the door. "Scully, please."
She didn't turn, but put the tray down on the dresser.
"Scully, come here. Please."
"Mulder - "
She looked at her feet, but returned to the bed. He patted the place she'd occupied before and she sat beside him.
"I don't blame you. You've got to stop this."
"Like you have?"
"Okay, we've got to stop this. I don't blame you. Can you hear that?"
"I didn't look for him."
"And I'm glad you didn't, not alone. They would have killed you and that would have been . . ." He stopped, "I don't know if we'll find him. I want to believe we will, but I said this when I found him that morning, I need you. Without you . . ." He pulled her against him and after a moment she relaxed slightly.
"I think having me here is making it worse." He said softly.
"No." She looked up at him startled. "It's not. I . . . "
"I don't want to be alone."
"Having me here is better than being alone?' His lips quirked slightly, until he saw the tears form in her eyes. "Scully."
"I miss him. I should have - "
"I miss him too, Scully. I want him back. He's ours. But in the meantime, just like with Samantha, I need you with me. What good would it do for me to find him and not have his mother - "
The sound was half gasp, half sob. "Scully?"
"Was I his mother?"
"Yes. And I was his father. The only way we'll ever find him, get him back, is together. I have to have you. If you believe nothing else, believe that I have to have you."
She was crying quietly in his arms now. He pulled her down bedside him, wrapping himself around her, holding her until they both fell asleep.
He woke the most refreshed he'd been in a long time the next morning. He remembered no nightmares, and she was still beside him, asleep.
His body wasn't stiff or in pain. That in itself was almost unremembered. The feel of her body against his, even fully clothed gave him peace. As he watched, she stirred and her eyes opened.
She realized immediately what had happened, but he didn't seem upset. "Mulder?"
"We, we slept through the night?"
He nodded, "Thank you for keeping away the nightmares."
"I should be thanking you."
"I wouldn't mind." He leaned down and lightly brushed her lips with his own. Her eyes widened, but she didn't pull away. "Don't suppose I could convince you to sleep in here again tonight?"
Her blush brought the first smile to his face in a long time.
"I, uh, I need to get ready for work."
He nodded. "I'll stay put today. I don't think I have another excursion in me yet."
"Good." She moved away then and rose from the bed. His eyes followed her out of the room.
She did look better this morning. He hadn't registered that she wasn't sleeping either.
Once she had left, he picked up the phone and dialed. "Lone Gunmen."
"Mulder, are you okay?" Byers asked immediately, his concern evident in his voice.
"Yeah. Think you guys could come by sometime?"
"We can be there in an hour."
"That'd be good. I'm gonna take a shower, but I'll be here if I take a while to get to the door."
"Don't worry about it. See you in a few." Byers broke the connection.
He'd finished his shower and opted for the couch rather than the bed, since he knew the guys were on their way.
He was startled to hear a key in the lock and the door open. "Scu - Byers?" He looked at his three friends.
"Uh, yeah. Scully gave us a key so we could check on you when you were . . . "
Mulder stared at them for a minute. "She had me on suicide watch." It wasn't a question.
"She's been very concerned. You . . . you scared her yesterday."
"She called you?"
"Yeah," Byers nodded, "then another short call when you got back, but no details."
Mulder studied his hands as the others took seats around him. "I didn't realize. It must have been bad if she gave Frohike a key." He tried to smile at the feeble humor.
"She gave the key to Byers," Frohike spoke up, "We're trying to keep our relationship quiet." He winked at Mulder.
The smile came a little easier then. "I didn't mean to scare her. I went over to my place. I just had to see it."
"You should have called us, Mulder." Byers said as Langly nodded.
"Yeah, I should have. I guess I hoped it was an exaggeration."
"It wasn't." Langly watched his friend. He pointed to the cane, "I'm surprised you could get around."
Mulder shrugged. "Talk to me. Tell me what you did find."
The trio exchanged glances. Byers spoke for them, "Nothing, Mulder. We're not holding back, there was nothing there."
"Then we need to look elsewhere, birth records, births that didn't take place in a hospital, abandoned infants - "
"Mulder - "
"Please, I know . . . I know it's one chance in a billion, but I have to - "
"Yeah," Byers said finally. "We can go through the file. How, uh, how about Scully? Do you want her to know?"
"No. There's no reason to get her hopes up. I've already put her through enough."
"Uh, she," Byers glanced at the other two, "she feels the same way. We think she did the right thing when . . . there was no way she could go off on her own and, and frankly they didn't expect you to live. But she thinks the time she let go by was the final straw."
"It wasn't." Mulder said harshly. "I've got to convince her of that. They would have killed her." The shudder that ran through his body was deep.
The three men nodded in unison. "I'll look after Scully. I didn't realize I'd been neglecting her, but I won't now. If you can get whatever information there is . . ."
"We're on it. Just, just don't you get your hopes too high either." Mulder nodded as they rose. "You need anything before we go?"
Mulder smiled at Frohike, "No. I'm going to get better now. I've got a lot to do."
The relief on the little man's face stunned Mulder. He did have people in his life who cared about him. He needed to remember that.
He called her late in the afternoon, when she hadn't called him. "Agent Scully," she answered briskly, only he could hear the undertone of fatigue in her voice. He knew her that well now.
"What are you wearing?"
She snorted before she could control it, "You know exactly what I'm wearing. You saw me leave." She retorted, but in a whisper.
"So, can you sneak out early?"
"Mulder, have you been drinking? You can't mix alcohol with - "
"I'm sober as a judge, not the one that was arrested for DUI last week." He smiled.
"You sound like you're feeling better."
"Just trying to get my stamina back. I think I will start back on the physical therapy." He waited for her reaction.
There was only a tiny hesitation, but he caught it. "I think that would be wonderful, Mulder." Her voice was husky, like she was tamping her emption down, but she sounded pleased.
"Well, just wanted to check in. Hurry home, okay?"
"I'll be there as soon as I can."
He held the phone until he heard her hang up. She had played, but she was hanging by a thread. He had to make things better for her, for selfish reasons as well as for her. Last night, holding her had put things in perspective. He needed her.
She had her key in her hand when the door opened. "Hi Honey, you're home." Mulder watched her reaction. The eyebrow, he knew he could count on the eyebrow. "Sorry, Scully, I couldn't find your pearls."
"Thank god. If the Bureau finds out you cross dress too . . . " But she had a curve to her lips.
She put her briefcase next to the couch and looked around, taking a sniff of the aroma coming from the kitchen. "Mulder, you didn't cook?"
"No, I wasn't sure I could stay on my feet that long, but I can still dial. Dinner is served."
"Mulder, you didn't have to - "
"Yeah, I did. You've worked, kept the office going alone, come home and waited on me hand and foot, literally. I did have to and I should have sooner." His smile slipped away, "I wouldn't have survived without you."
They just looked at each other for a long time; she was the one to drop her eyes. "Smells good, Mulder."
"Hey, I can dial with the best of them." He followed her into the kitchen and actually held her chair before easing himself into his own.
She noted the glass of wine at her seat, and glanced over. "Tea, Scully. My personal physician says I can't drink . . . yet." He asked about her day, mentioned that the guys had dropped by to see him. They just visited, giving her a chance to relax.
When the meal was finished, she rose from the table. "I'll take clean up, since you dialed this delicious meal."
"I'll take you up on that this time, Scully. But if I'm going to hang around, I need to start doing my share."
She looked down again, which puzzled him slightly, then she met his eyes. "Deal. Now go stretch out on the couch, or go back to bed. I won't be long."
"Yeah, I guess you're right." He got painfully to his feet. Her hands twitched to help him, but he shook his head. He took the cane from where it rested against the table and moved slowly into the living room.
He had drifted off by the time she joined him. She thought about waking him and sending him on to bed, but he looked comfortable enough and it wasn't as lonely with him in the room, even asleep.
She powered up the laptop and pulled up the file she had brought home to study. When he stirred, she hit save and closed the computer.
"Mulder?" She moved over and touched his shoulder.
"Umm, sorry. Didn't mean to fall asleep."
She smiled softly, "It's okay."
He was watching her now, his eyes seeing too much. She looked away and he sat up a little straighter. "Were you working?"
"Uh, yeah. A report I wanted to finish before I went in tomorrow."
"How much longer before you're finished?"
"I'm finished now. Without you arguing with my science, it doesn't take so long."
He narrowed his eyes at her, but couldn't sustain it.
She stood over him, "Haven't you been up long enough?"
"I'll turn in soon." He patted the seat beside him. She sat, but she looked wary. "I only bite when asked, Scully." He wisely made no comment about the color that stained her cheeks. "I need to ask you something."
She hesitated, then nodded.
"You said you weren't going to kick me out. I'm glad, because I don't want to go." He watched her shoulders relax slightly. "But I wasn't kidding about the couch. What would you think, I mean . . . Scully, will you sleep in the bed with me?"
Her eyes widened and her lips parted, but he plowed on.
"I'm not propositioning you, Scully, at least not yet. After a few weeks of physical therapy . . . " She still didn't speak. "We both slept better last night. I felt safe and I think you did too."
After an instant she nodded. He exhaled a breath he hadn't realized he was holding. "Good."
They sat there for a moment, neither knowing what to say.
"Well," he started to rise from the couch; she took his arm. "I hope soon you'll do that because you want to touch me, rather than needing to help me."
"I already do."
He froze, looking at her, his eyes searching her face. He leaned in slowly and, when she didn't back away, let his lips brush hers. He didn't push it, leaning back.
"I'm going to take a shower." He finally did rise. She nodded and watched him leave.
For something to do, she set up the coffee maker for the morning. Twice she looked at her briefcase, but decided she couldn't work on the report any more this evening. While he was still in the bath, she slipped into the bedroom and retrieved a special pair of pajamas and a robe. She didn't know what to think of the fact that her hands were shaking slightly.
Mulder, using the cane, moved into the bedroom. She wasn't there, but he didn't go in search of her. He'd already put enough pressure on her.
He eased himself into the bed, and pulled the sheet up to his chest. Maybe he should have put on a t-shirt, but getting back up would be more than he could handle right now. He was watching the door when she entered. She was wearing aqua pajamas and a matching robe. He'd never seen that on any trip they'd taken.
She handed him his medication and he swallowed it with no argument. She rounded the bed and stood at the side hesitating.
"Are you coming to bed now?" He asked.
"I thought I would."
"Good." He said softly.
She slipped off her robe and pulled back the covers. She lay down on her side of the bed, stiffly. "Scully, if this is making you uncomfortable - "
"No, I . . . "
"You've slept on my shoulder on airplanes, in cars - "
"This is different."
"Yes, but I'm not going to jump you. I wouldn't even if I could. If memory serves, that's not my style." She managed a small smile then. "Last night we gave each other support, comfort. I can't do a lot around here, yet, but I want to give you this. And I want to wake up rested and relaxed. Come on, turn over." He rolled her to her side and spooned his body around her. His arm rested below her breasts. It didn't feel intimidating.
They lay that way for a couple of minutes, "Scully, what'ja thinking?"
She hesitated, "That we have a son, but this is the first time we've been in bed together."
"Sounds normal for us, doesn't it?" His voice was husky, but he could feel her smile and relax further. "Scully, this is gonna sound egotistical, but there's not some other man out there, is there?"
She turned in his arms, facing him. "You know there's not. Is, is there a woman in your life?"
"Yes, the same one for the past seven years. I call her Scully." As she met his eyes, he let his lips press against her forehead. "Go to sleep, Scully. I'm right here." Her breasts were against his chest and despite his weakness, he felt a stirring in his groin.
"Roll over, Scully. I need to be able to sleep too."
Her blush was adorable, and she did as he bade. She made herself comfortable and let her eyes drift close. It felt good, having this man curled around her. She did feel safe.
"Mulder, I did find out something today." She felt his arm tighten around her. "You know that the guys still have the DNA information."
"It's supposed to be locked down."
"I was careful. I just wanted to compare it to Emily's DNA."
He waited, he couldn't fault her for that, but it didn't keep him from worrying. "And?"
"He didn't have the abnormalities she did. He was healthy."
His throat tightened. Their son was healthy, what did that mean? That they wouldn't have to treat him, or that they'd use him to experiment on continually? No, he couldn't go there now. She'd feel his tension. He wanted her to feel safe tonight, he wanted to give her that at least.
She'd been gone about an hour when he heard the knock at the door. With no key, it wasn't the guys. He made his painful way to the door, reaffirming his decision to return to physical therapy that evening.
He looked through the peephole and answered the door as quickly as possible. "A.D. Skinner." Mulder welcomed him in.
The older man stopped just inside and looked Mulder over thoroughly as Mulder pushed the door closed.
"You can say it." Mulder remarked dryly.
"Okay, you look like shit."
"Thanks." Mulder motioned to the couch and eased himself down onto the cushions. "Scully's not here."
"I know. That's why I came now. I wanted to check on her, but I think I understand now." Skinner took the chair adjacent to the couch.
"Check on her? Is she - "
"A couple of days ago she left work. I didn't see her, but reports were that she was panicked and ran out. She was back the next day, but I've known Scully a long time. That's not like her."
"No, it's not. She called and couldn't find me."
Skinner's eyes narrowed. "Couldn't find you? You don't look like you'd be out jogging."
"I went over to my apartment. I didn't tell her I was going out and she called."
Skinner sat silent for a moment, then leaned back and looked at him. "She thought you'd killed yourself."
Mulder looked down at his feet, then finally met Skinner's eyes. "Yeah. I didn't realize what I was doing to her. It won't happen again."
Skinner shook his head, "This was no home invasion. What really happened?"
Mulder looked at him for a long moment. "You want some coffee? There's no alcohol here, I'm on medication."
"I don't drink that heavily at lunch. Or do you think I'll need the drink?"
Mulder shrugged and started to rise. Skinner's hand under his arm helped. Skinner assessed his movements and stayed close in case he went down.
"I'll get the coffee, you sit." Skinner held the chair for him and after a moment, Mulder nodded and took the seat. When he joined him, Skinner took a sip. "You want to tell me what happened?" When he still hesitated, "I might be able to help."
"Yeah, you might."
"But you don't know if you can trust me." Skinner volunteered.
After a moment, Mulder nodded.
"I want to help. That's why I didn't call Scully into my office. I knew she needed help. I should've realized you were behind it."
"Yep, that would be me."
"I knew this couldn't have been a simple robbery." Skinner sighed.
"No, it wasn't. You in a hurry to get back to work?"
Skinner leaned back.
"Jesus, Mulder. Your son?" Skinner looked devastated.
"And Scully's. The DNA proved it."
Skinner shook his head. "You know the odds . . . "
"Yeah. Even worse than with Samantha, and we all know how well I did at finding her." Mulder glanced down at his hands, tapping a staccato beat on the table, unable to be still even though he couldn't pace.
"Mulder, what more could you have done? The next step for you would have been to die at their hands. You almost did anyway."
Mulder nodded, "Thank goodness Scully had left. They would have killed her."
Skinner's face paled slightly. "Yeah. So, what do you need from me?"
"The guys are working on it; they might need access."
"You mean there are some things that I know those geeks don't?"
Mulder actually grinned then, "Your access might be faster."
Skinner nodded, "That's what I thought. What about you? Physically, I mean."
Mulder looked down at his body. "I'm starting back on physical therapy this evening. They gave me a late appointment so Scully could go with me."
"Does she need to be there?"
"Yeah," he took a sip of coffee and grimaced at the coolness. "She's supposed to learn the routine to help me here. After a couple of sessions I'll go alone. Probably take a cab, if she'll let me."
"Listen, I can drive you, give Scully a break."
Mulder blinked, "Uh, yeah. That'd be good."
Skinner rose from the table. "Have Byers contact me. You should get some rest."
Mulder huffed, "Like I can do anything else."
"Then work on it."
"Yeah, I will. Skinner, do you think . . . "
"No, Mulder, I don't. I'm sorry." The look of anger on Mulder's face gave him pause. If this man had been in better shape, Skinner had no doubt he'd be bleeding now.
Mulder shook it off. "I know. But I have to try."
"I want to keep her as far away as possible."
Skinner looked at him, eyebrow raised.
"Yeah, I know."
Continued in part 2
Lives Incomplete (2/2)
He was in a foul mood as she let them back into the apartment. He was tired, and sore, and a hell of a lot more aware of just how far down he'd allowed himself to sink.
And he was annoyed that she seemed to be walking on eggshells around him. He wasn't angry with her, surely she understood that.
With her help and the cane, he managed to make it to the couch, where he collapsed into the cushions.
"Can I get you anything?" She asked quietly.
"Scully, you don't have to wait on me." He groused.
"Maybe not, but you look like you're all done in. What about a hot bath? You could soak out some of the soreness and just relax."
That did sound good, if he could maneuver himself in and out of the tub. "Scully, you know I'm not mad at you, don't you?"
She gave him a small smile, "Yes."
"Good, the person I'm most pissed at right now is me. I had no business letting myself - "
"Mulder, it's okay. You'll get back to where you were."
"Promise?" He still looked forlorn.
"Absolutely. Let me go run you a bath and - "
"Finally. I thought you only did that for young victims." But his mood was lifting.
She rolled her eyes at that memory and turned toward the bathroom. He watched her leave, she did seem . . . better somehow. Maybe the fact that he was finally taking steps to get well pleased her.
In any case, he needed to get undressed. He stopped halfway up from the couch. No way could he get in and out of that tub alone, but if she helped him there was also no way he could hide his reaction to her. Shit, he'd started to look forward to soaking in her tub.
"Mulder? Come on." She approached him now to help him to his feet.
"Uh, Scully, I'm not sure I can manage the tub."
"I'll help you."
"That's the problem." She looked hurt suddenly. Shit, that's not what he wanted. "Scully, if you're going to gaze on the bod, I'd rather it be in better shape."
Understanding and color flooded her face then. "We'll manage."
He looked wary, but allowed her to help him to his feet. She left him to undress, which he did as quickly as possible, leaving only the boxers. He was trying to pull on his robe when she tapped on the door.
He started to chastise her about this being her room again, but thought better of it. "Come in." She entered and held the arm of the robe so he could slip it on. He remained silent.
In the bathroom, she took the robe again and hung it on the hook inside the door. "Mulder, do you want to - "
"I'll leave these on." He interrupted and she gave a quick nod.
"Why don't you sit here on the side of the tub and I'll help you get your legs in."
"I'm a lot of trouble." He griped.
"You always have been high maintenance, Mulder."
He looked up startled, then saw the tiny curve of her lips. Teasing? She hadn't teased him in forever. It felt nice.
He slipped carefully into the very warm water and saw his mistake. But what would have worked better?
She didn't quite meet his eyes, then left the room to get his medicine.
Why hadn't he realized that wet boxers molded to the body? Shit. The one part of his body that was working and it was the most unwelcome.
Great, he was real relaxed now, he thought sarcastically. Was she impressed, horrified, indifferent? How did he stack up to Jack Willis or, or Tattoo Boy? Could he satisfy Dana Scully? Damn, how long had it been since he'd been with a real woman?
There was that disastrous attempt with Vampire Girl. But at a critical moment Kristen had touched the small gold cross around his neck and things had fallen apart. Since then it had just been easier to be alone. He'd realized then that he wasn't interested in being with anyone else. Too bad he hadn't tried to move closer to her when he'd gotten her back.
The tap on the door startled him. "Mulder?"
"Yeah." He grabbed a washcloth and covered his boxers in an attempt at a little modesty.
"Mulder, you're not . . . insecure about anything." She tried to meet his eyes, but he avoided her. "Because you have absolutely nothing to be insecure about. I'm the one that's been tucked up against you for the last couple of nights and I know. It . . . it's where I want to be."
He gaped at her then and saw the color take over her face. She wanted to be pressed up against him? Oh god.
"Well, uh, you call me when you're ready to get out."
"Are you sure?" She didn't want to rush him.
"Okay, be careful." She let the water drain from the tub, but held the towel to give him what privacy she could. She left him alone once the towel was around him. "Can you get dressed from here?" He nodded. "Okay, I'm going to change."
He hobbled into the bedroom clutching the towel around him. She'd laid his pajama bottoms on the bed, but was no where to be seen. He sank onto the bed, exhausted from his activity and reeling from her revelations. She wanted to sleep tucked up next to him.
Mulder eased himself into the bed and tried to relax, waiting for her.
She entered shyly; the thought of a bride came to him before he could stop it. They weren't, they hadn't had that kind of relationship, despite his fantasies. Was there a chance now, well, when he was healed? Another reason to get well.
She slipped into the bed beside him and got comfortable, her hips touching his side. He rolled toward her, curling around her. "Scully?"
"I wanted to, to tell you something."
"Okay." She turned to face him.
His eyes searched her face.
"I'm not drugged, at least not the good stuff." He managed a weak grin. "I need you to know, I, I love you."
She blinked, caught completely off guard by his words.
"You don't have to . . . Scully I just need you to know that."
"Mulder, you don't - "
"I do. It's way past time I said it out loud."
He had a slightly larger smile on his face now. "I've said it to you in my head for a long time." His smile dimmed as she didn't respond. He watched her as she swallowed hard and her lips parted, but she didn't say anything. She turned in his arms, her back to him, but pressed against him. She took his arm and pulled it over her as though anchoring him to her, but nothing was said. His mouth was too dry to form words, and the thoughts of escaping from the room came to him. Unfortunately, he wasn't capable.
He did eventually fall asleep, after listening to her breath for an hour or so. That didn't exactly make for a good morning and he couldn't think of anything to say. There wasn't much conversation and she seemed damn uncomfortable when she left.
His day didn't get better. He worked on his exercises, but they made him think of her. What didn't make him think of her anymore?
She was quiet when she got in, but he didn't push. She was still working too hard, first at work, then with him on his physically therapy. She continued to sleep beside him at night, but there was a difference now.
He didn't really want to analyze that. He'd told her he loved her and she had turned away. She hadn't asked him to leave. Too much pity for him probably. He was pretty sure she'd been crying in his arms that night, but she hadn't wanted him to see, hadn't wanted to make him feel worse.
He had obviously badly miscalculated, but it hadn't been mentioned. She hadn't asked him to leave and still allowed him to hold her to him every night. He clung to that.
After dinner, while he helped her with clean up, she turned to him. "Mulder, I, Skinner called me in today."
Mulder looked up at her, immediately on edge.
"He's sending me to Missouri on a case."
"Missouri?" He managed to keep his voice steady.
"It's not an X-File. They just need a forensic pathologist."
"And you're the best." He offered.
"I'm available." She said quietly.
"It's hard for me to see you go off on a case without me, after what happened in New York. How long?"
"I'll be careful. I probably won't even get out of the morgue. It shouldn't be but a couple of days." She started to reach out to take his hand, but stopped. He closed his eyes and turned away, leaving the rest of the clean up to her as he headed for the living room.
"Mulder - "
"I need to get started on my exercises." He stopped at the door, but didn't look back. "When do you leave?"
"In the morning."
"Maybe this would be a good time for me to clear out of your way. They tell me the place is put back together, habitable again, at least for me." His humor fell flat even in his own ears. She hadn't spoken so he turned to look at her.
She looked like he'd punched her in the gut, frozen, her eyes wide.
"Do you, do you want to leave?" Her voice was quiet, pitched low. Anyone else would have said she was calm, just asking a casual question. He could hear a million nuances to her question, or was that what he wanted to hear?
"No, but I've been here a while. You're not exactly charging me rent."
"I think you should stay." She finally stated, no explanation offered. No I want you to stay, I need you . . . I love you.
He nodded, but it looked to her as though his shoulders slumped slightly. She started to speak again, but he was already out of the room.
Mulder heard the knock on the door from the kitchen. He'd filled the dishwasher and straightened up after breakfast. She'd be back in a couple of days; it was his litany. She'd already been gone longer than she'd originally thought.
She'd called every night, but she didn't sound like herself. If he'd had the strength, he'd have told her she didn't have to check on him. The truth was he relished the calls, the sound of her voice. He didn't think she'd been sleeping, at least not well. That might be projection on his part. The warmth of her bed, the comfortable casual of her apartment weren't enough without her there to transform them to life. He was counting the hours.
He was proud of the fact that he didn't need the cane to make it to the door. He was making progress, not where he wanted to be but . . . He checked the peephole. The man was facing away and at an angle. But there was something familiar . . . Krycek?
Mulder jerked the door open. "What the hell are you doing here?"
Krycek looked him up and down. "Well, Fox, you look like shit." He tilted his head to see past Mulder into the apartment. "Aren't you going to ask me in?"
"Hadn't planned to."
"I might have some information you were . . . pursuing."
"I understand you're looking for someone." Mulder's eyes narrowed. "Someone short, doesn't talk much, wears diapers . . . ring a bell?"
Mulder felt his blood pressure rise. He moved slightly to the side and Krycek entered, then turned and smiled at him.
"Nicer digs than you're used to, Mulder. How long you planning to stay here."
"Why are you here, Krycek?" Mulder ignored the jab. "If you have information, give it; if not, get out."
Krycek smirked at him, then made himself comfortable in the chair next to the couch. After a moment, Mulder eased himself down as well. He waited.
"I hear congratulations are in order. It's a boy." Krycek's smile faded at the look of pure rage on Mulder's face. For a moment, Krycek wondered if he could take the man if he did attack. "Sorry. Cheap shot."
Mulder blinked; the man sounded . . . sincere. "What do you know?"
"I heard a child was slipped out of a project and delivered to you. Word has it the individual responsible 'sleeps with the fishes'."
"Why would someone that works for them do that?" Mulder's tone was wary.
"The breath of 'human' kindness? Hell, some of them do have a conscience, Mulder. I imagine you have fans there as well."
"Why are they doing this to Scully? They can hurt me, I'm used to it, but why her?"
"Mulder, she's not the only woman they've done this to. There have been experiments going on for years. She happens to be a good test subject, but there have been a lot of women abductees that have had ova stolen."
Mulder closed his eyes, the memory of that cold room and Kurt pointing to the drawer was back with him. "And the men, hundreds of them as well, I suppose."
"Men?" Krycek asked confused.
"Men, the other half of the equation. They're jerking around the human race, so to speak, and we just - "
"Mulder, you're the 'man' in the equation. I thought - "
"Me? For this baby, yes, but you - "
Krycek looked at him, stunned. "Don't you get it, Mulder? They want you because you've been exposed; you've been a test case for years."
"What are you talking about? That vaccine they gave me in Russia? That was - "
"No, though that did get their attention." Krycek watched him. "You do know you're the only one that it worked on, don't you?"
"Only one? No. Why?"
"Because you'd already been exposed years before."
"You're crazy. I was never - "
"When your sister was taken. Something happened to you to put you in a coma for three days. They used you then."
"Used me how?"
"Mulder, I'm sure you were a bright boy even then, but not the brilliant young man you were at Oxford or the Bureau. They enhanced you, years ago."
"Enhance . . . Spooky?" Mulder looked up at him, eyes wide.
Krycek grinned, "Yeah, Spooky. They created you, your father protected you from the consortium as long as he could, but he didn't know you were going to be working against the very people that used him."
Mulder was quiet for a long time, unable to absorb the information Krycek had put before him. Finally he turned to Krycek, "That's why they used me. Why Scully?"
"She was a good subject when they took her, and you trusted her. She was a good tool to keep you off balance originally. Turned out she was much more than that."
Mulder's eyes narrowed, "How much more?"
"Well, even without your enhancement, she had the qualities they were looking for when they wanted to create . . . "
"They created him." It wasn't a question.
"You gonna offer me a beer?"
Mulder ignored that. "How can you be sure he's her son?"
"I don't know about that, but he is the kid that was taken from your apartment the day you got taken apart."
Mulder looked away, turning thoughts over and over. Finally he looked back at Krycek. "What do they want from me?"
"They're not making this offer."
Mulder's face went carefully blank, "You? Why the hell would you come to me with this?"
Krycek shrugged. "He's not what they thought. Not what they were trying to create. They don't need him anymore."
Mulder stiffened, "How do you know that?"
Krycek shrugged, "I hear things."
"What would they do to him?" Mulder's voice was low, dangerous.
"He's a liability."
"They'd just . . . give him to me." Mulder watched Krycek.
"No, I didn't say that." Krycek smirked.
"What are you saying?" Mulder's voice was harsh.
"I'm saying I may be able to get - "
"Anxious? I have an idea. He's not guarded any longer. I can get in; I just have to get him out."
"That's where I come in. You don't know anything about looking after an infant."
"And you do?" Krycek smirked. "You don't look like you can look after yourself right now. I don't need a gimp with me."
"Like I could trust you alone." Mulder forced himself up off the couch and turned toward the bedroom. Krycek followed him and saw him clip his gun to his waistband. Krycek's eyebrow went up when Mulder had to sit to strap the second gun to his ankle.
"Oh, you'd be a lot of help. I can handle this."
"No way. We're going."
"Now? Right now?" Krycek's incredulous voice caused Mulder's face to harden.
"Yeah, right now. Where?"
Krycek paused, looking the man over once again. Mulder was completely serious. "Kentucky; Ft. Campbell."
"Military, I should have known - "
"Yeah, it keeps people away."
"It'll take us at least twelve hours to get there. There isn't much time, is there?" Mulder pinned him with his eyes.
Again the younger man hesitated. After a moment he looked away. "No. I don't think there is."
Mulder grabbed the pad by the phone and scratched Scully a note. Now that he had the information, there was an urgency he couldn't ignore. She'd be concerned, but there was something telling him he couldn't wait.
Mulder woke as Krycek slowed down near the entrance to the base. He hadn't meant to fall asleep. Silently he cursed his weakened condition again. He was not going to slow things down. This was too important.
"We should be okay, Mulder. This time of day most of the staff is gone. They just have the skeleton crew here to monitor in the main part of the labs. The baby you want isn't in the experimental section any more."
"Have they hurt . . . "
Krycek met his eyes, but kept quiet. Mulder was the one that looked away.
Krycek pulled onto the base and handed an ID to the guard. "We're headed to Building O."
Mulder noted the soldier's reaction, quickly covered. He'd snapped to attention. "Yes sir. You know the way?"
"Yes." Krycek spoke with authority. The guard nodded crisply and stepped back. Mulder kept quiet until they were out of range of the entry, then looked over at Krycek.
"You've been here before."
"A while back. The ID gives me clearance, and the fact that I'm aware there is a Building O." He drove over a mile, and finally turned to a building set off by itself. He parked in the small area in front of the windowless building. There were very few vehicles around. "Put on this lab coat and keep your mouth shut." Krycek tossed the white coat to him.
"What about you?"
"I told you, I've been here before. I have access. Just keep quiet." Krycek approached the guard booth; Mulder trailed him.
The ID wasn't questioned and Mulder wasn't acknowledged. The lock hissed open and the two men moved into a sterile area to await the next door. After an airlock type area, they were finally in a regular hall. Krycek moved to the right, looking and moving as though he belonged.
He finally stopped in front of a hospital door. There was a rectangular wired glass window above the handle. He looked at Mulder, but didn't speak.
"Why haven't we been stopped?" Mulder whispered.
"I told you, chill. The ID - "
"Fuck the ID, we're in a restricted building. Is this some sort of trap?" Mulder hissed at him.
"Why did you come with me if you thought I was leading you into a trap?"
"Because I want to save him." Mulder faced him squarely.
"Maybe I want to help you."
"That's real hard for me to believe."
"Can we have this discussion later? I don't want to hang around in the hall. Let's get him and get out. Maybe then you'll believe me."
The door wasn't locked. Krycek looked up and down the hall, then pushed the door open. He and Mulder moved inside and Krycek shut the door behind them. The room was full of equipment. Mulder had seen less in ICUs. Then he spotted the hospital-type bassinette in the corner. There was no sound, no movement coming from it. He moved in that direction, ignoring the aches and stiffness in his body.
The baby was lying there. His eyes were open but the only movement was the slight rise and fall of his chest as he breathed. He was wearing only a diaper and didn't react to the sight of Mulder leaning over him. There were no monitors on him. "Jesus, they're just letting him die."
Krycek didn't respond.
Mulder looked underneath the bassinette and grabbed a handful of diapers and a can of formula from the shelf, shoving them in the large pockets of his lab coat. That caused Krycek to move again. He opened the small refrigerator on the shelf above him. "Mulder, there's a couple of bottles in here."
Krycek nodded and stuffed them in his pockets, though Mulder didn't even turn to watch. "I'm here, son. You're going to be okay. You hear me?" His finger lightly caressed the boy's cheek. "We've got to get out of here." Krycek looked up from the clipboard he was holding. "What's that?"
"I think it's his medical records."
"We're taking that with us. Scully will need it. Come on." Mulder gently wrapped the boy in the blanket from the bassinette and held him to his chest.
"Put him under your coat. I don't want to advertise."
Mulder nodded and pulled his lab coat around the boy, then took the clipboard and held it in front of him.
"Can you keep him quiet?"
"I wish that were a problem." The baby didn't seem to be any larger than when Mulder had found him that night. He'd imagined him growing, thriving. Mulder moved to the door and waited.
Krycek blinked, then headed for the door himself. He opened the door and looked out. He nodded and Mulder followed him.
"Sir, do you want us to stop them?" The military man looked up from the monitor to the older man.
"No. No, let them go. As soon as the car is off base, I want all surveillance tapes since they entered."
"Yes sir." The soldier's expression didn't even change.
The older man took a long draw on his cigarette and smiled slightly. It was the least a grandfather could do.
Mulder slid into the front seat and uncovered the baby. "That was too easy." Mulder looked around to see if anyone was following.
"Maybe we're doing them a favor." Krycek also checked. No one was in sight.
"Do you believe that?" Mulder asked him. Krycek didn't respond. "Give me one of those bottles." He looked up at Krycek, and took the bottle he handed him. "Come on, take the nipple." He spoke to the unresponsive infant. "You need to eat."
Krycek pulled out of the parking slot and headed toward the entrance of the base. "What's his name?"
"I . . . we didn't name him."
"You might want to think about it." Krycek said dryly. "Put him under your coat again. We still need to get out of here."
Mulder complied, murmuring to the boy. As soon as Krycek turned left onto the state road, Mulder uncovered him again. He brushed the nipple against his lips, letting a little of the formula dribble into his mouth.
"Come on, baby. Drink this. You have to get stronger."
Krycek glanced over at him, then back at the road. He kept his mouth shut.
He had his key in the door when it was jerked open and she threw herself at him. One of his arms went around her to steady her as much as to hold her. "Watch it, Scully."
She looked exhausted, her eyes were red and her face showed signs of tears. His words caused her to flinch and he instantly regretted it. She had thought he was gone, dead or lost to her forever.
She stepped back, his tone confusing her. He let his jacket fall open and she spotted the infant he held close to him. She froze. He could see she wasn't breathing; he wasn't even sure her heart was beating.
He stepped to her and placed the tiny boy in her arms. They closed around him. "Oh my god, oh my god." It was just a whisper. She finally tore her eyes from the baby and looked up at Mulder. "It's him."
Then she seemed to grow in front of him, bristling, her expression fierce. She drew back, and he knew she was ready to defend the child to the death. He turned to see what she was looking at and realized Krycek had entered the apartment. Krycek actually flinched from her stare.
"Scully, Scully look at me. It's okay. It's a long story, but I promise to tell you every word. Just not now. Come here." He led her to the couch, though her eyes never left Krycek.
Once she was seated, she looked back down at the boy. "Is he okay? Is he - "
"You're going to have to tell us that. He's awfully lethargic, but better than when we found him."
"I can't believe . . . this is where you went?" He leaned over and brushed the tears from her face, unaware of his own.
"He's wet. We don't have any diapers." She looked back down at their son.
She was surprised at the huge smile that broke out on his face. "He's wet? His kidneys are working."
"His kidneys? Mulder, what did they do to him?" Her concern turning to fear.
"I don't know." He turned to Krycek and held out his hand for the papers. Krycek relinquished them, looked at Scully and then retreated to the kitchen. They heard the refrigerator door open. "I said I'd explain and I will, Scully. Check him out. I think his problem now is neglect. They were, they were letting him die. They were through with him."
"Oh god." She brought the baby to her chest again. Mulder's hand brushed the child's head.
"I have some supplies in the car. I'll be right back. Will you be okay?"
She glanced toward the kitchen, then nodded. He wasn't gone but a few minutes. She hadn't moved from the couch, cuddling the boy to her breast. "He hasn't cried, Mulder."
"I think he learned there wasn't much use to it."
"We'll have to make up for it." He took a diaper out of the already opened package and dug for the wipes. Then he headed for the bathroom and grabbed a towel for the couch. "I'll heat up a bottle in a little while. He prefers it warm."
"Yeah?" He met her eyes.
"You're moving a lot better."
He smiled then, "Yeah, I had to." He left them alone then; she needed time with the baby. He found Krycek in the kitchen, a sandwich nearly made on the counter. "Help yourself." Mulder said dryly.
"Thanks, I will." Krycek took another swig from the bottle of beer, then finished making the sandwich. "Want one?"
"No. Listen, I need you out of here."
"You're welcome, Mulder." Krycek said dryly as he took a seat at the table and started eating.
"I do thank you. I owe you, but Scully and I need some time alone with him."
Krycek nodded and took another bite of the sandwich.
"Do you have a place to go, money?" Mulder heard himself say the words.
"Gee, I didn't know you cared." Krycek sneered.
Mulder swallowed, "My place is empty. It's been cleaned up, I hear. If you need to crash there for a couple of nights . . . "
Krycek just stared at him for a long moment. Finally he took the last bite of the sandwich. "Yeah, I could use that."
Mulder nodded and took a key from his pocket and handed it to Krycek. "There's no food there."
"Was there ever?" Krycek actually grinned and Mulder chuckled.
"Not much. Listen, I can't - "
"Not now." Krycek stopped him, "I gotta go. I, I hope he's okay."
Mulder nodded and looked toward the living room. Krycek rose and headed for the door. He glanced over at the baby being rocked in Scully's arms, then let himself out without another word.
Mulder locked the door behind him and then took a seat beside them. "How does he seem?"
"Quiet." She looked up at Mulder. "Talk to me."
"Let me get that bottle first. I'm not sure they fed him regularly lately."
Her eyes widened, but she watched him move toward the kitchen. He was moving better, some of that confidence was back in his step.
When he returned, he handed her the bottle and resumed his seat. He watched as she played the nipple over the baby's full lower lip as he had done. The boy latched on, his eyes following the woman's face above him. She hummed to him and murmured loving words until his eyes closed. Mulder drank in the sight.
"Scully." He was whispering, "I'm sorry if I scared you."
She finally looked up. "You did. I was terrified. You could have said more in your note."
"Scully." He shook his head, "I . . . I didn't know what would happen, but I felt this terrible urgency to get to him."
She looked back down at the boy. "I think you were right." The nipple fell out of his mouth as he drifted off to sleep. She held up the bottle to check. "Only a couple of ounces."
Mulder nodded, "I've been feeding him every hour. He doesn't cry or fuss. Scully, he was just laying there, waiting to die."
Her head jerked up, fresh tears filling her eyes. The baby shifted slightly, adjusting to her arms. "God, how could they . . . "
Mulder shook his head; he had no answer to that. "We need to name him."
"How are we going to keep . . . "
"He's ours. We can prove it. If we do a private adoption . . . "
"They wouldn't let me, before." That remembered sorrow on her face nearly undid him.
"You were alone then."
Her eyes asked the question she couldn't form.
"Not now, you're not alone now. I know we haven't discussed . . . Scully I won't bother you, I won't ask for something you can't give, but I think we'd have a better chance - "
"Won't bother me?" That statement confused her, and he wouldn't meet her eyes now. He was focused on the baby.
"We're friends, Scully. We already spend a lot of time together. You, you've let me stay here with you. The guys can do some creative documentation. What kind of maternity leave can you get at the Bureau for an adoption?" He managed a smile, weak, but it was there.
"What?" The change in subject catching him off guard.
"William, for all the important men in his life, and mine."
Mulder nodded, "You don't think Bill - "
"Bill had his chance and decided on Matthew."
"Your father would like that, I think."
"Do you want to put him down?" Mulder offered.
"No. He needs to be touched, more than anything he needs to be held and loved. Every child needs that."
Mulder nodded. He agreed.
"Why didn't you tell me where you'd gone?"
He didn't look at her, "I didn't know what would happen, what I would find."
"If you'd be back?" She offered.
He did look up then, and gave her a sad grin. "Where would I go, Scully? Wherever I go, I always come back to you."
Her eyes widened and her arms involuntarily tightened around the boy.
"Don't worry, I'm not going to push."
"I said I wouldn't bother you. I won't, I - "
She stared at him, her mouth falling open. "You did this for me. You, you really do love me."
He looked up startled. "You didn't believe me?"
"I thought, I thought you were trying to let me off the hook. I knew it was my fault they had gotten away with him."
"Your fault? Where do you get that? Scully, it was never your fault. Never."
She sniffed, forcing composure. "Tell me what happened."
They were reclining on her bed now, William lying between them. He'd eaten again, nearly three ounces this time and was still awake. They both had their hands on him, their voices soft. Occasionally they looked up at each other, but mostly they watched him even though their words were for each other.
"You do believe me now, don't you, Scully?"
She didn't look up, but he saw her smile.
"It's taking a little getting used to." She finally said.
"How could you doubt it? We have a baby together."
She did look up then, her eyebrow at maximum height.
"Well we do." He defended his statement.
She laughed. She actually laughed and he drank in the sound. He hadn't heard it since before William showed up at his door. He couldn't speak, but his hand left William and touched her cheek.
She realized what she had done and blushed, then pressed into his hand. "Yes, I guess we do."
He looked at her for a long moment, then leaned in. She watched, but didn't pull back. His lips brushed against hers. He looked at her, and seeing no resistance, did it again.
William gurgled between them, for the first time waving an arm.
"I think he approves." Mulder looked down at him.
"He's a smart boy." Scully let William grip her finger.
Mulder blinked, "Yeah, he is." He looked around the room, "Is he, uh, is he gonna sleep between us tonight?"
"No, that wouldn't be safe." She tried to keep her lips from twitching.
"You know I'm not . . . fully back to - "
Her lips took his then. "I promise not to rush you. But it is my bed. I'm here and you're here."
"Yes ma'am, I am." The gleam in his eye caused another blush. Mulder looked down at the baby again, his eyes were growing heavy. "Maybe we should put him in his own bed."
Scully nodded and gently cuddled the baby to her breast as she carried him to the basket she had set up for him. She leaned over and kissed his forehead, then straightened up and just looked at him. She felt Mulder behind her and leaned slightly into him. His arms came around her as they watched the baby sleep.
"He looks beautiful sleeping there." He offered.
"I think it's beautiful seeing you sleep in my bed too." She turned in his arms. Their lips met again, a promise this time and an acknowledgement. They had things to discover.
If you enjoyed this story, please send feedback to Donna
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