by Polly

Title: Connecting
Author: Polly -
Classification: Missing scene for "Deep Throat," Scully POV, Retrofic (if there is such a thing) Rating: PG
Spoilers: "Deep Throat," "The Pilot"
Disclaimer: All XF characters belong to Chris Carter, David Duchovny, Gillian Anderson, and 1013 Productions
Notes: Written for the Haven "Remember When" Challenge; additional notes and elements at the end Thanks: To Peg'sGirl for the beta and encouragement Archive: If you want it, it's yours
Feedback: Welcome and appreciated
Summary: A new partnership is tested

By Polly

"That's enough, Mulder. We don't know anything. Anything more than when we got here, and that's what I'm gonna write in my field report. Let's get outta here, Mulder, as fast as we can."

I didn't give him time to object. I herded him into the car, put the pedal to the metal, and left Anita Budahas and Marriette Field in the dust. After a quick stop at the Beech Grove Motel to collect our things, we headed toward Boise in Paul Mossinger's car because Mulder couldn't remember where he'd left our rental.

I gripped the steering wheel a little tighter and checked the rear view mirror, then nudged the accelerator closer to the floor. We were already going over 80, but a speeding ticket seemed of little consequence at this point. I had already kidnapped a government employee, stolen a car, and busted my partner out of a military installation today, and it wasn't even 10 o'clock.

My stomach rumbled, reminding me that I'd skipped dinner last night and breakfast this morning, too worried about Mulder to think about food. "We'll stop and get something to eat in a little while," I said. "I want to put some distance between us and the Air Base. Okay?" When he didn't answer, I glanced over quickly. He was staring straight ahead, hands folded in his lap, prompting me to ask him the same question I'd asked earlier. "You okay, Mulder?"


It was easier to believe he was telling me the truth than to consider the alternatives, so I didn't press and we rode in silence. I was so preoccupied watching the road ahead and behind that he startled me when he spoke again.

"Pull over, Scully. I'm gonna be sick."

Mulder was out the door before I could bring the sedan to a full stop. He had nothing more in his stomach than I did, so I knelt beside him, placed a reassuring hand on his shoulder, and waited until the dry heaves subsided. When they finally did, he sat in the dirt leaning against the car and I offered him a tissue from a box I'd found in the back seat.

"We shouldn't have left the motel without some water," I said, brushing his hair back from his forehead. "That wasn't very smart of us, was it?" He nodded just slightly. "We can't be too far from a gas station. As soon as we find one, we'll stop and get you some water to rinse your mouth. You'll feel better then."

He managed a weak smile. "I'm okay, Scully."

"I know." I helped him stand and maneuvered him back into the passenger seat. "But I don't want you to get dehydrated. So humor me, all right?" He looked up at me and nodded, then closed his eyes and leaned against the headrest.

He asked me to stop again ten minutes later; and although I remained calm on the outside as his body convulsed, an internal debate was raging. Dr. Scully was urging me to get him to the emergency room as soon as possible, but Agent Scully who had just risked life and limb - not to mention career and future - to rescue her partner lobbied against it. If I checked Mulder into a hospital, Blevins would know within the hour. Mulder made the decision for me when he wiped his mouth and got back in the car under his own power - no hospital for now.

I whispered a heartfelt "thank you" to no one in particular when we finally found a service station almost a half hour later. Mulder had been asleep since our last stop, and I didn't wake him until I returned with the bathroom keys.

He rubbed his eyes and yawned as I shook his shoulder a second time. "What? Where are we?"

"We're at a gas station. Here's the rest room key. Why don't you go wash your face? And here." I handed him the items I had fished out of his shaving kit. "You'll feel much better after you brush your teeth. Do you want me to help you?"
He got out of the car on his own, swayed a bit, waved off my attempts at assistance, and staggered toward the men's room. With the other key, I opened the door marked "Ladies," used the facilities, and contemplated the irony of my fragmented reflection in the cracked bathroom mirror. When I came out, there was no sign of Mulder so I knocked on the rest room door. "I'm gonna go fill the tank, Mulder. You need any help?"

"No, I'm fine. I'll meet you around front."

He appeared beside me while I was paying for the gas and my other purchases, returning the men's room key to the attendant with one hand while he ran his fingers through his damp hair with the other. He had washed away the crust around his eyes and looked 100 percent better.

"I got some water and some crackers," I said as I reached for my change. "Do you want anything else?"


"Tylenol," I corrected. "Got that. And some ginger ale in case you feel sick again. I got some seeds too, for when you feel better."

"Ah, Scully, you obviously know the way to a man's heart is through his stomach."

The sense of humor was returning. A good sign.

I had already decided we should check into the nearest motel. I was reasonably sure we weren't being followed, and I knew it was a good idea if we both got some sleep before driving the remaining 400 miles or so to Boise. The gas station attendant told me there was plenty of suitable lodging 'just up the road'; but after passing six campsites and five motels that advertised their rates by the hour, I decided to keep going until we got to Boise.

Mulder took three Tylenol as soon as we got in the car, and he slept all the way to our next stop, a small diner where the neon sign promising "Breakfast Served All Day" called my name. I shoveled down a western omelet, sausage, hashed browns, and coffee while Mulder picked at some toast and scrambled eggs.

We made good time after that, with only a few more stops for bathroom breaks and to stretch our legs. Mulder slept a little, but every so often he would ask me another question I couldn't answer about what happened to him at the base. Most of the time he stared out the window trying unsuccessfully to piece together the events of the past 24 hours. He remembered a few images, fragments of conversations, but nothing made sense.

We stopped for dinner outside the Boise city limits at 6 p.m. and rolled into the motel parking lot just after seven. I'm not sure why I insisted that Mulder accompany me into the office to register. Maybe I was afraid since he was feeling better he would take off again, and I wasn't quite ready to deal with Fox Mulder's Excellent Adventure Redux. He didn't protest, just followed me into the cramped office and leaned against the counter as I rang the bell.

A door marked "Private" behind the desk opened and a man in his mid-fifties appeared to welcome us to the Boise Econolodge. He was sporting a day's growth of beard, and he'd missed a button while putting on his sweater.

"We'd like two rooms, please," I said as I filled out the registration card he placed before me. "Side by side. And I'd prefer rooms with a connecting door, if you have any."

Before he could ask for ID, I pulled out my FBI wallet and slapped it on the desk. He took one look at my badge, eyed Mulder and me up and down, and shook his head as he completed the information on the registration card. "It's none of my business," he drawled, "but why don't you government types save the taxpayers some money and just take one room? We don't really care if you go at it like bunny rabbits but why do you always have to stick us for the cost of two rooms just to make it look good on your expense reports?" He chuckled to himself. "The connecting door is a nice touch, though."

I'm glad my fellow civil servants could set such a fine example. Sorry, Mr. Desk Clerk. Catch Dana Scully on a bad day, suffer the consequences.

"You're right, sir, it isn't any of your business." I snatched the pen out of his hand to make sure I had his full attention. "But for your information, my partner, Agent Mulder, was seriously injured in the line of duty yesterday, and as a medical doctor, I would like to keep an eye on him throughout the night. If possible, I'd like to do that without having to disturb your other guests or traipse around your lovely establishment in the middle of the night in my bathrobe. Now, if that meets with your approval, do you or do you not have two rooms with a connecting door?"

The clerk just stood there, eyes and mouth wide open, apparently afraid to move in case it might upset my itchy trigger finger. When I glanced over at Mulder, he was wearing the same expression. Perhaps this little demonstration of ass kicking Scully style would come in handy in the future. Watch and learn, Mulder. Watch and learn.

I signed the registration card, dropped the pen on the counter, and cleared my throat. "Rooms?"

The clerk finally blinked, but didn't look down as he fumbled under the counter. "Um, yes, ma'am." He pulled out two keys, laid them on the desk, and pushed them tentatively toward me, pulling his hand away quickly when I reached for them. "That's 212 and 214. One's a single, one's a double. I mean, if that's all right with you, ma'am."

"That will be fine, thank you," I said as I picked up the room keys and retrieved the car keys from my pocket. "Which way?"

"To the right," he replied. "At the end. I hope you have a pleasant stay, ma'am."

I flashed a shit-eating grin and led the way out of the office with Mulder trailing behind like an obedient puppy. We drove to the end of the complex, and I handed him the room keys while I got our bags out of the trunk. By the time I climbed the outside staircase, Mulder had opened Room 212 and was sitting on the bed staring at his shoes. I dropped Mulder's duffel, opened the connecting door, and turned on the light in 214. It was the single room and hadn't been redecorated since the 70s, but it looked clean and the bed looked reasonably comfortable. I placed my suitcase on the bed and turned around to find Mulder standing in the doorway.

"Scully, I don't think this connecting rooms thing is such a good idea."

I had managed to suppress my anger with Mulder all day in deference to his physical condition, but the motel clerk had lit the fuse and now Mulder was fanning the flame. "Why, Mulder? You have something to hide? Are you afraid that I'll learn some of your dirty little secrets?" I started walking toward him and he backpedaled into the double room. "Like what? Do you wet the bed? You like to sleep in women's underwear? You turn into a werewolf? What?"

I stood there defiantly, hands on hips, while he hugged his arms to his chest and scuffed the toe of his shoe on the worn carpet. "I ... I don't sleep very well. And when I do sleep, I have nightmares and sometimes I talk in my sleep. I just wouldn't want to ..."

"Say something that I might report to Blevins? Is that what you're afraid of, Mulder?"

He shoved his hands in his pockets and answered softly. "I was gonna say I wouldn't want to keep you awake."

I felt about two inches tall. I took a step toward him and he stumbled backward, nearly tripping over his duffel bag. I reached out to steady him, and kept my hand on his forearm as I spoke gently. "I'm sorry, Mulder. I'm just tired. We're both tired. Go take a shower. I'll get you some clean clothes and leave them by the sink."

He mulled things over for a moment, then stiffly pulled off his coat, dropped it on the bed, and unsteadily made his way to the bathroom without a word. When I heard the shower come on, I unzipped his bag and pulled out his shaving kit, a clean pair of boxers, and a gray tee shirt. I reached a little deeper in the bag for a pair of sweat pants, and as I pulled them out, a small picture frame tumbled onto the bedspread.

I picked it up and turned it over in my hand. A beautiful little girl, her dark hair in pigtails, smiled up at me from her seat on a rope swing. This must be Mulder's sister. He didn't tell me her name that night in Oregon, but after we got back I looked it up in his file. Samantha. I smiled back at her, wrapped a tee shirt around the frame, and carefully placed it back in the bag.

I knocked gently on the bathroom door and spoke his name softly before placing his clean clothes on the vanity. He assured me he was all right, so while Mulder finished his shower, I sat at the desk in his room and called the airline. I was jotting down our flight number when he emerged from the bathroom, his hair still damp and spiky. He was wearing the sweats but carrying the tee shirt, dropping it beside him as he plopped down wearily on the end of the bed.

"Okay, thank you. Goodnight." I hung up the phone and shifted in my chair so we were sitting toe-totoe. "Well, I got us a ... oh, my God. Mulder, what the hell did they do to you?"

He lightly fingered the deep purple and yellow bruise that wrapped around the right side of his torso. "That's not from last night, Scully," he said as he gingerly pulled the tee shirt over his head. "That much I do remember. That's from yesterday afternoon, those spooks out on the road, the ones who took our film and told us to get out of town."

He must have been in a lot of pain with a bruise like that, could have had internal injuries, and I hadn't even noticed. I mentally kicked myself as I scooted my chair toward him, intending to take a closer look. Only then did I notice the other marks on his body - telltale signs of injection sites on his arms, tape residue on the backs of his hands where IVs had been administered, dark bruises around his wrists where he'd struggled against his restraints.

I knew he was sick, confused, and yet I hadn't bothered to examine him all day. Way to go, Dr. Scully. Probably a good thing you chose pathology as your specialty.

I couldn't speak, just continued to stare at his arms and hands until he self-consciously pulled them back against his body. "That's how I know I saw something, Scully. And just like Budahas, they took those memories away."

I nodded dumbly, remembering Mulder's theory about selective brainwashing. Even if it were possible, what was so important that the military would risk it not just on their own personnel but on Mulder as well, a fellow employee of the federal government? Weren't we all supposed to be on the same team?

I thought about our earlier conversation when I had explained away Mulder's "unidentified flying objects" as top-secret experimental aircraft and had argued that the military had a right and a responsibility to protect their secrets. But when Mulder asked me when the human cost for building a better machine became too high, I ignored the question. Now that the "human cost" was sitting right here in front of me, I couldn't ignore the question anymore. Maybe some of Fox Mulder's theories weren't as off-the-wall as some people wanted to believe.

I didn't realize just how close to Mulder I was sitting until I felt his breath on my cheek. "Did you get us a flight out?"

Now who was self-conscious? I stood quickly, pushed the chair back under the desk, and gathered my notebook and pen as well as my composure. "Yes." I turned around, professionalism restored, and tucked the notebook and pen in my pocket. "The earliest flight I could get was 9 a.m. That'll put us home sometime mid-afternoon. Just enough time to type up my notes before my meeting with Blevins on Wednesday."

"We have a meeting with Blevins on Wednesday?"

"Not we, me," I replied. "When Blevins assigned me to the X-Files, he set up a weekly meeting - every Wednesday, 10 a.m. He said that in addition to reading my field reports, he wants to hear my personal observations about our cases."

Mulder snorted and absently scratched the tape residue on the back of his left hand. "I'll bet he does."

After all I'd been through today, Mulder picked the wrong time to question my integrity. I took a step forward, close enough to block his way if he tried to stand up, and folded my arms over my chest. He was going to get an earful, whether he liked it or not, and I took a bit of perverse pleasure when his neck snapped back to look up at me. I wasn't exactly towering over him, but at least the shoe was on the other foot for a change.

"Let's get this straight right now, Mulder," I said. "I'm nobody's spy. If that had been part of this assignment, I would have turned it down flat, regardless of the consequences. That's not who I am. I think for myself and I draw my own conclusions. I am here to put your theories to the test of science, and that's what I intend to do."

"You were sent here to spy on me, Scully. Whether you realize it or not."

"So you've said. Maybe if I were in your position, I'd believe the same thing. Blevins may have an agenda, but I'm telling you I'm not part of it. That's not why I'm here."

"Then why are you here, Scully?" He crossed his arms defiantly, and for a moment we were like two bulldogs scrapping over a bone. "If you really believe you had a choice, why would you choose a dead end assignment like this one?"

I softened my stance and my tone a little and answered as honestly as I could. "Because I wanted the opportunity to work with you."

He couldn't have looked more surprised if I'd sprouted wings and flown out the window. "To work with me?" he laughed. "How did you pass the psych test, Scully? You're crazier than I am."

I smiled and sat down on the bed next to him. "I'll admit, Mulder, when I was first told about being partnered with you, I wasn't exactly thrilled. I only knew you by reputation, the gossip I'd heard at the Academy. But then I met you. That afternoon I went home and read your profiles, your monographs - anything I could get my hands on. I realized you were not only a brilliant profiler but a terrific agent, too. I wanted to work with you because I thought I could learn something from you." I paused for a moment to make sure my words were sinking in. "And I'd like to think that you could learn something from me, if you'd give me a chance."

He didn't speak, just started chewing on his lip, so I pulled the Tylenol bottle out of my pocket, shook three into his hand, and went to the bathroom for a glass of water. When I returned, he tossed the tablets in his mouth, drained the glass, and handed it back to me.

"Thank you," he said softly as he looked up at me. "Thank you for coming after me."

Sometime during my sophomore year in college I'd learned that all men have the ability to turn on that "little boy lost" look that appeals to a woman's natural maternal instinct at just the right moment, but somehow with Mulder it didn't seem like an act. My heart was aching for him, but I reminded myself I didn't want to be his mother. I wanted to be his partner, his equal, and maybe someday his friend. So I simply replied, "You're welcome."

"How did you get me out?"

I sat the empty glass on the desk. "I caught Paul Mossinger sniffing around our motel. Turns out he wasn't with the local paper after all, he was Air Base security. I threatened to call in a flock of investigative reporters if he didn't arrange for your release, so he obliged. I don't think the military wants to bring attention to the fact that their security was breached, so I don't think Blevins will find out about your little escapade."

"Until he reads your report."

"That won't be in my report."

He looked at me in disbelief. "Then what are you gonna tell Blevins?"

"The truth," I replied. "We went to Idaho to investigate the disappearance of Colonel Budahas. During our investigation Colonel Budahas was returned, and therefore, no further investigation was warranted. So we came home."

"You're leaving out an awfully big chunk of information, aren't you, Scully?"

"Maybe I had a selective brain wipe too."

He smiled. "I thought you didn't believe my theories."

I smiled back. "Well, someone suggested that I should consider opening my mind to extreme possibilities. I was just trying it on for size."

"I don't think it fits, Scully," he said. "Just stay as skeptical as you are. I'm used to being a party of one."

I walked past him and turned down the covers on the other bed, then sat down across from him. "You know, Mulder, you've got this 'lone wolf' act down pretty good, but I'm not buying it. You want someone to trust. I can see it in your eyes."

"Really? And why should I trust you?"

"Mulder, you told me that they want to discredit your work, that they want to shut down the X-Files. Well, I could have accomplished that with one phone call last night, but I didn't. I think that should at least earn me the benefit of the doubt."

He leaned forward until his elbows rested on his knees, clasped his hands together and tucked them under his chin. "Why didn't you call Blevins?" he asked. "Why did you come after me?"

"Because you're my partner," I said. "And I know that if I'd been the one in there, you would have done the same for me."

He shook his head. "You would never have been in there in the first place."

I flashed a playful smile. "That's right. I wouldn't. But you never know. If I hang around with you long enough, I might develop some bad habits."

He laughed and winced slightly, moving one hand to his side to protect his sore ribs. That was my cue; I stood up and gently took his elbow, guiding him toward the bed I'd just vacated. "I know we haven't been partners for very long," I said as he crawled between the sheets, "and I know you don't trust me or like me. But despite all that, I know that if I was being held against my will, you would move heaven and earth to find me just because I'm your partner, because that's the kind of Agent you are. That's the kind of man you are."

He settled back against the pillows, pulled the covers up over his waist, and used the remote on the nightstand to click on the TV. "I never said I didn't like you."

I smiled warmly and squeezed his hand. "Now you need to get some sleep, Mulder. I'm going to go take a shower and then I'm going to join you." I started to blush as soon as the words were out of my mouth.

"I know you went to a lot of trouble to get me in the sack, Scully, but you'd better let me get my strength back first."

"I meant that after I take a shower, I'm going to bed," I said. "After all, I need to be well rested if I'm going to come back in here and ravish you later. You didn't think checking on your medical condition was the real reason I wanted that connecting door, did you?"

In our short time together, I'd already learned the secret to dealing with Fox Mulder: Give as good as you get. Be ready to play the verbal tennis match at any time. Serve, Mr. Mulder. Return, Miss Scully. A little topspin, a scorching backhand. I was glad to have the opportunity to play the game again.

We both laughed and I reached for the remote to turn off the TV. "Goodnight, Mulder."

"No, Scully, leave it on."

"Mulder," I scolded, "you need sleep. You can't do that with the TV on."

"I told you, Scully, I don't sleep that well. The TV helps sometimes. I'll keep the volume low so it doesn't disturb you."

He'd probably convinced himself that the television kept the nightmares at bay, or at the very least drowned them out. "That's okay, you won't disturb me," I said and started off toward my own room, but something made me turn back and sit down on the edge of his bed.

"You know, when I was a little girl, we moved around a lot because my father was in the Navy, and I always had trouble sleeping our first few nights in a new house. Do you know what my mother did to help me sleep?"

"Made you drink warm milk?"

I wrinkled my nose in disgust. "Ugh, no. Here, I'll show you." I took his right hand in my left and turned it over so the palm was facing up. "Take a deep breath and close your eyes."

To my surprise he complied willingly. "When I couldn't sleep, my mother would do this ..." Using my right index finger, I began to trace circles on his palm. I kept my voice soft and slow, mirroring the pressure and the rhythm of my finger. "Clear your mind of everything but the circle, concentrate on the pattern, round and round, no beginning, no end." His eyelids fluttered just slightly and I continued the circular motion and my quiet monologue. "On our first night in a brand new house, my mother would come in my room, sit on my bed, sing Irish lullabies, and talk about circles while she traced them on my hand. Hula hoops, ring around the rosy, merry-gorounds, wedding rings, the tire swing in our new backyard ..."

He opened his eyes slowly and smirked. "I think your mother was an amateur hypnotist, Scully."

I continued the slow circles as I laughed. "Call it whatever you want, Mulder. It helped me relax; it chased away the fears that came with a new house, new school, making new friends. It chased away the bad dreams."

I could tell by his expression that the promise of nightmare-free slumber was intriguing, but he was still skeptical.

"Trust me, Mulder," I said. "In fact, this is a good place for us to start. Do me a favor and trust me on this one little thing, and we'll work our way up to the big things, one step at a time. What do you say? This could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship."

He pretended to consider my offer and smiled. "Are you gonna quote old movies all night or sing? I'd like to request the one with "too-ra-loo-ra-loo-ral," please."

"I'm afraid that's where I draw the line, Mulder," I chuckled. "I can't carry a tune in a bucket. One thing you will never, ever, hear me do is sing."

"Ooh, you know I can't resist a challenge. You mark my words, Agent Scully. One day you will sing me to sleep."

"Don't hold your breath Mulder." He said 'one day.' Like he intended to be my partner for a while longer. That had a nice ring to it. Ring. Circles. Focus, Dana. I started tracing figures on his hand again. "Now, think about the pattern. Round and round, no beginning, no end."

His face turned serious. "Hey, Scully, you don't think my brain wipe will make me forget this part of our trip, do you?"

"I don't think so, Mulder," I replied. "As you said, it seems to be selective, though how that's possible I don't know. I think the rest of your memories are safe." Then I added in my best Bogart, "We'll always have Boise."

That generated a true belly laugh. He looked up at me with a loopy grin and winked. "Here's lookin' at you, kid."

"Are you gonna quote old movies all night or go to sleep?" I asked.

"Okay, okay." He brushed my fingers with his. "I don't know why you're putting up with me, Scully. But thank you."

"You're worth the effort, Mulder." A man who still carries a picture of a lost sister after 20 years is definitely worth the effort. I resumed the light touch on his palm and my soft, slow narration. "Now close your eyes and concentrate. Think about basketball hoops. The planets. Spaceships. Crop circles ..."

A few minutes later he was snoring softly. I slipped my hand out of his and stood carefully, trying not to jostle the bed too much. He muttered something unintelligible, but never stirred, not even when I switched off the television and the lamp. Told you to trust me, Mulder.

I returned to the single room, took a quick shower, and even though it was only 9:30, I could barely keep my eyes open as I dried my hair. I switched off my lamp, but before climbing into my own bed, I tiptoed through the open connecting door to sneak one more peek at Mulder. Enough light from the parking lot filtered through the curtains for me to see him curled on his left side, still sound asleep. I would check him at midnight and again at 4 a.m. to see if he needed more Tylenol or more of Margaret Scully's soothing sedative.

On my way back to bed, I closed the connecting door, leaving it open just a crack, but something made me go back and open it all the way. I leaned against the door frame for a moment, watching the steady rise and fall of my partner's chest as he slept.

Partner. That word became real to me today. Mulder and I had come a long way in a short time, but we still had a long way to go. If only our partnership had a connecting door like this one - a portal that protected our privacy yet provided a gateway for honest communication; a threshold for finding common ground, sharing ideas, and building a professional relationship. It would represent the necessity of keeping an open mind and the importance of never shutting each other out, no matter what.

And now that I was waxing philosophical and metaphorical about a door, I knew it was definitely time for bed.

As I slipped under the covers I couldn't help but smile. The day that started as a disaster had turned out pretty well in the end. Mulder and I were finally connecting. I could feel it, and I knew he could too. Maybe this really was the beginning of a beautiful friendship.


Notes: I began writing this for a Haven Challenge to write a "remember when" story that featured a theme that was extremely popular when XF fanfic started, but one that wasn't written much anymore. I chose a "connecting door" theme for my "remember when" story, but I wasn't able to finish the story for the Challenge. Two months later, my attempt at a "first time" connecting door fic is finally done. These were the Challenge elements:

A picture (of anyone)
The word redux
Skipping something
Act that happens every Wednesday
A favor

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