Author and E-mail: Tara Hicks
feedback please! firstname.lastname@example.org
Rating: PG (just a word here and there)
Keywords: M/S friendship
Summary: The aftermath of Mulder and Scully's encounter with Modell and Linda Bowman.
Spoiler: Kit... uh, Pusher 2 (how do you spell it???)
Archive: Okay for Gossamer, others ask first,please? thanks!
Author's Notes: I'll admit it, I think I need help, I seem to only write stuff that involves Mulder hurt or dying. Go figure. I started this after Pusher 2 aired (I can't remember the name at the moment) and I just finished it. It just sorta developed a life of it's own somehow.
Disclaimer: Strike up the band, it's time for the disclaimer dance! Mulder and Scully are property of FOX Television, 1013 Productions, Chris Carter, and probably a bunch of other people. And I am nothing if not a poor college kid with tuition to pay, with no money for a court case so don't get any ideas all of you suit types.
She knew that it was a mistake from the moment the call came into their office from Skinner. Mulder should not have been asked to help head up the team going after Modell. No way, no how. However, the Bureau was willing to risk his emotional state for the use of his profiling skills. A means to an end. The bottom line was all that really mattered to them.
So in the process of the new Robert Modell case, or what became the Linda Bowman case, she was privy to a special screening of Mulder's gift leading to his grief. She had once thought that after the initial confrontation with Modell the look of guilt and desperation in Mulder's eyes was worse than was possible. Now, it seemed, the shadows dancing in his eyes were even darker.
It's not every day that you watch your best friend turn on you, because he feels you caused his partner to kill herself. Especially when you *are* that partner. His eyes, they almost looked dead, the fire they contained was so dimmed by what he believed himself to have seen. She almost didn't reach him, she almost didn't get through. She couldn't stomach to think about what would have happened if she hadn't scared Bowman into moving, so that she could shoot her.
He would have never forgiven himself if the situation had ended otherwise. If he had killed Scully, under Bowman's control or not, she knew it would have been the end of him, he would have killed himself without thought. That was the extent of his grief at putting his partner in danger. As always, he placed her above himself.
In the moments it took her to use her cell phone to call for an ambulance, he had slowly walked away from the scene. Scully looked up from Linda Bowman when she heard the sirens of the emergency vehicles nearing, and noticed in dismay that her partner was nowhere to be seen. Looking around in the recesses of the darkened building, she finally noticed a moving shape in a far corner. As she neared him, it shocked her to see how slowly he was moving, as if every step was a fight. He collapsed onto the floor near the wall, leaning back onto it for support. When she reached him, he was sitting with his eyes open staring at the emptiness before him.
She had hoped to never have to see that look in eyes ever again. It had taken so long for his guilt to ease after he had shot Modell before. She was scared he might not snap out of it at all this time. Sitting down beside him, she took his hand in her own.
"Mulder, talk to me. It's over, every thing is okay. It's over now," she spoke softly, hoping to draw him out of his shell.
He blinked. Once, then eventually twice and so on. Then the tears began to fall. He spoke, but it was such a whisper upon the wind, she scarcely heard him.
"Scully . . . She's dead. She's dead," he repeated over and over, shaking his body back and forth. "Dead." To Scully's ears it sounded so final.
"Mulder. Fox! Look at me. It's me, Scully. I'm fine. You saw what she wanted you to see. She didn't make me shoot myself. And you didn't shoot me either," she added the last as an afterthought almost.
His eyes snapped over to where she was sitting. Relief washed over his features, but the shadow of guilt did not pass. "You didn't . . . But then I almost . . ." he closed his eyes as he spoke. Lowering his head she heard him add, "I'm sorry. I'm so sorry." Clutching his knees to his chest, he resumed his rocking back and forth which had momentarily stopped.
After what felt to Scully like an eternity, back up finally did arrive. She went to the hospital with Mulder, and talked to Skinner about what had happened with Linda Bowman. Later that night, Mulder had been released and she was there waiting to take him back to his apartment.
The look in his eyes when he saw his partner again was one of not knowing what to believe. She was right there in front of him, he could see her. Then why could he not shake the scene of her lying on that floor from his mind. Once again he cursed his photographic memory, it hurt so badly to relive those hazy moments on Channel Avenue.
"Come on, Mulder." Scully said, "let me take you back to my place for the night."
Still staring at her, he managed to choke out "no, just take me home." His eyes pleaded with her to grant him this. As she looked into his hazel eyes, she saw fear. She understood suddenly, he was scared he still might hurt her. Of all the people not to trust, he seemed to have lost the ability to trust himself.
"Okay," she agreed hesitantly. Skinner had observed the exchange without being noticed, and worried what harm this latest case had done to Mulder, and what it still might cause. And he worried for the partnership between the two, he knew one couldn't survive without the other, but things between them had been so strained of late.
He had been utterly shocked when Scully had backed him to pull Mulder off of the case, it was rare she denied her partner anything when he felt he was onto something. And had Mulder ever been onto something, they knew that now. Now he was left to question why no one had bothered to give it any thought then, when it could have avoided so much pain. Skinner removed his glasses and rubbed his eyes, it had been a long day.
After a short disagreement in the car, Scully walked with Mulder up to his apartment. When they arrived, Mulder walked into the bedroom to change leaving Scully to stand alone in the living room. After a couple of minutes, Scully sat down on the well-worn leather couch, patiently waiting for her partner to return.
When he failed to make an appearance after several minutes, she decided to check on him, just to make sure he was all right. She knew he would hate her being overprotective, as much as it bothered her when he did it to her, but she felt she had to. There was no sign of him in the bed room, but she noticed the light coming from under the bathroom door and began to relax.
She sat down on the edge of his bed, thinking she would wait him out. However, she started to worry again when he still failed to appear. She quietly knocked on the bathroom door, calling out his name.
"Mulder?" She was answered with silence at first, which was broken by a muffled sob. Tired of waiting for him to make the first move, she pushed open the bathroom door. Sitting in the corner, was Mulder. He had his knees up against his chest, rocking, much like when they had still been in the warehouse. Then she saw his tears.
"Come on, Mulder. Talk to me, you can't keep just shutting down like this," she spoke softly. His reaction to this case was really beginning to frighten her. "It's okay, it's over." She pushed his hair off of his forehead, and gently wiped away the tears from his cheeks.
When her hand brushed against his tear-stained cheek, he looked at her startled. The look on his face was like he had just seen a ghost. "Scully? But . . . you . . . she . . ." confusion played across his features.
Scully pulled his shaking frame to her in a warm embrace, hugging him tightly. She was trying to reassure him that she was alive, and that she was there for him.
"I'm sorry," he whispered into her hair.
She fought for control of her emotions, she had to get him up, and out of the bathroom. It was too much like the scene at the warehouse right after it happened. "Come on, Mulder. Let's go into the living room, okay?" Releasing the hug, she looked into his eyes. Finding comprehension in them, she took his hand and helped him to stand up.
They went into the living room, and settled onto the couch. Withing minutes, Mulder was snoring lightly, curled up in the familiar contours of the leather. Scully wanted to stay and watch over her sleeping partner, but knew she had plenty to do at her own apartment. As soon as she was pretty sure he wouldn't wake up anytime soon, she left, locking the door on her way out.
The next day at work, he seemed okay, if a bit more quiet and reserved than usual. After their meeting with Skinner, she had asked him if he wanted to eat dinner together, but he had declined, saying he only wanted to go home and get some sleep. She could tell that even though he was sleeping soundly when she had left the night before, nightmares had plagued him. So, she watched as he walked down the hall and out of sight.
That night, Scully had been asleep for only a couple of hours when she awoke to the sound of someone knocking on the front door. Pulling on a robe, she made her way slowly toward the annoying noise. She was startled awake by the sight of a uniformed police man standing in the doorway.
"Dr. Dana Scully?"
"Yes. What is it? What's happened?" Even as she asked, she felt she knew, there was something wrong with Mulder.
"It's about your partner, one . . . Fox Mulder. You were listed as the one to contact in case of an emergency."
"What is it?" She was nearly frantic, "tell me now, damn it!"
"He's been taken to the hospital, an apparent self-inflicted gun shot wound. He left a note, but it didn't make very much sense." The officer's eyes were soft as he watched the woman who stood before him struggle to maintain her composure.
In less than five minutes she was out of her apartment, riding with the officer to the hospital. In the car, he showed her the letter that had been found at the scene.
*** Nothing makes sense. She's there, but she's dead. I saw her die. When I close my eyes, I still see her lying in a pool of blood. It's my fault, I was weak. There isn't anything I can do, I can't go on, not knowing what's real and what's a dream.
Forgive me Dana, Mulder ***
Her eyes teared up reading the familiar handwriting on the wrinkled page that was now enclosed in an evidence bag. She could see tear stains on the ink, and small spots of blood along one edge. She prayed they would make it to the hospital in time. She had to get to Mulder. He couldn't die, she wouldn't let him.
The emergency room was crowded and crazed with activity. After waiting for a several minutes, a doctor finally came out to talk to Scully, who was pacing the waiting area.
"Agent Scully? I'm Dr. Wilson, I've been handling Agent Mulder's case." The middle-aged man crossed the room to where Scully stood, extending his hand to her. She shook his hand, nervously shifting her weight from one foot to the other.
"Dr. Wilson. I'm a medical doctor, please tell me. What is Mulder's status?" She asked directly, tired of wasting time doing nothing.
"Single gun shot wound to the abdomen. Very messy. He would have bled to death had someone not found him so quickly. Luckily, someone was walking down the hallway, from what the police told me. We took him directly to surgery. We had to remove his spleen and he didn't do any favors to his liver, either. Right now, he's in ICU."
"Can I see him?" She asked, her eyes pleading with him. "I have to see him. He needs to know that I'm there."
Dr. Wilson looked at the determined Special Agent before him, he had the feeling that he wouldn't be able to keep her away from Fox Mulder even if he wanted to. "Of course, follow me and I'll take you to him."
The ICU room that Mulder was in was still and quiet, the only sign of life was the slow, steady breathing of the man lying in the bed. A heart monitor beeped softly, following the rhythm of his heart. Scully sat beside his bed for a while, listening to the monitors attached to her partner. Eventually, her anxiety led to anger. It was as much a sign of her concern as anything, but she became so angry with her partner for doing this.
"Damn you, Mulder." Scully whispered, how dare he try to kill himself. "You'll survive this, if for no other reason than I can kill you myself for putting me through this." As she spoke, the hostility began to fade from her voice, and tears started to slide down her cheeks. She sat there, holding his hand, crying softly, until she heard a motion behind her.
She turned to see AD Skinner standing in the doorway, a concerned look on his face. "Agent Scully, how's Mulder?" Genuine concern filled his voice, and he crossed the room to stand next to Scully.
"According to the doctors, he should be about out of the woods. However, right now it's important that he regain consciousness. He lost a lot of blood, and we don't know about oxygen deprivation to his brain . . ." she let her thought drift off, not wanting to finish the sentence. Brain damage wasn't an option as far as she was concerned.
"Let me know if you need anything, Agent Scully. He'll pull through, he always does, doesn't he?" He looked at the strong agent sitting in front of him, noting how lost she looked. "Scully. Dana," he looked her straight in the eyes, "it will be okay. Let me know when anything changes." With that, he left the room, his shoes echoing in the hallway.
Sometime in the early morning hours, Mulder began to stir. Scully had been dozing in her chair beside the bed, but woke up as soon as she heard the rustling of the covers.
"Mulder?" She called softly, brushing the ever-present hair from his forehead.
His eyes opened, fighting to find their focus. He blinked a couple of times before he seemed to register who was sitting beside him. "Scu . . ." he began, stopping when she gave him a couple of ice chips to wet his throat.
"Scully? What happened?" His eyes betrayed his confusion.
"You're okay, Mulder. You're gonna be okay. *We're* going to be okay." As she spoke, her eyes glistened with unshed tears, but she was smiling that smile she reserved for when he woke up in the hospital.
"Sorry, Scully. For making you worry again," he said. He looked down at the sheet, not wanting to meet her eyes.
"Why, Mulder? Why did you want to do that?"
"I'm sleepy, Scully. Please don't be mad at me." His eyes were closed, and she couldn't help noticing how much he looked like a little boy when he slept. Anger could wait, she decided.
It seemed like forever, but Mulder was finally released from the hospital and allowed to go home. However, Scully had a different idea. "No way, Mulder. I'm not letting you go back to that apartment alone. At least not right now."
Mulder was sitting on the edge of his hospital bed, awaiting final approval to leave. He could tell by the look in her eyes that there was no way he could fight her on this one. But that didn't mean he had to be happy about it, he knew she wanted to talk about everything. He didn't know if he could, though. Reluctantly, he agreed. "Fine, Scully, I give." He said, throwing up his hands in mock surrender.
Things went okay for the first few hours at Scully's apartment. They ate dinner, and watched television for a while. But Mulder didn't let his guard down, he knew there was a thunderstorm coming in the form of his partner's temper. He was taken aback by how quietly it began.
"Why?" she asked softly, her head lowered. She looked up into his eyes, seeing the pain in the hazel depths.
"After that meeting with Skinner, I went home that night. Everything seemed so, I don't know, wrong somehow. I just felt confused. Whenever I closed my eyes, I saw you lying there dead because of me. And I would chase the image away for a little while by remembering that it worked out in the end. It was relentless, it kept coming back. Only I would relive the entire thing like some damned nickelodeon in my mind."
"Why didn't you call me?" she questioned, tears filling her eyes, but not falling.
He stood up, not wanting to see her tear filled eyes again, it reminded him too much of when they had faced Modell the first time. "I felt like I had hurt you enough, you've been through so much. I couldn't bring myself to add to it. Anyway, I managed to fall asleep at some point. The nightmares made my usual ones look like a good nights sleep. I woke up in a cold sweat, and at that point I decided to end my pain, and end your pain. In short, I would just do the world a favor. But it didn't work did it?"
"No." She sighed, relief etched into her features. "Did you really think that it would end my pain if you died? How could you possibly . . ." Betrayal was all over her face, it tore him up inside to see that in an attempt to save her pain, he was hurting her so badly.
She was still sitting on the couch, and he sat down on the floor in front of her taking her hand in his. "I'm so sorry, Dana. I only meant to help you. I guess I just didn't think. I'm sorry for only hurting you more. Can you ever forgive me?"
She looked at her partner, how did she tell him? How could she put into words that she had forgiven him the moment she knew he was going to make it? How could she tell him that to be whole, she had to have him in her life? But, how could she make him understand that she couldn't live worried constantly that her best friend was going to kill himself to end her pain'?"
In the end she settled for, "You have to forgive yourself, Mulder. You have to trust yourself, that you won't hurt me. I trust you. I forgive you, like I always do. You're my best friend, and I love you, Mulder." There was a silence surrounding the two of them, and a sense of peace as well.
"Thank you, Scully. Thank you for forgiving me. I'm still so sorry that I hurt you. I never meant to, I guess I just had another stubborn non-thinking Mulder moment," he smiled at the thought.
She giggled, "no, that would never happen, not a non-thinking Mulder moment'." After a moment, she was rolling with laughter, tears streaming down her face. Soon, Mulder joined in laughing, too. After they managed to catch their breath, Scully sighed, "this is what it's all about right? Aren't these the moments that count?" She smiled at her partner, simply happy they were both safe.
Mulder collapsed down onto the couch next to Scully, putting his arm around her shoulders. "Yep," he said. "We've gotta do this laughing till we cry thing more often. This feels right, you know?"
Even with all they had been through, for the moment things didn't seem so bad. They each felt like they could face whatever life, or the Consortium, or the X-Files threw at them. As long as they faced it together.
You jump, I jump. -- Jack and Rose, Titanic This can only end in tears. -- Bartok, Anastasia The wheel is spinning, but the hamster is dead. Luminous beings are we, not this crude matter. -- Yoda, SW:ESB